Friday, 6 May 2016


Finally, could this be summer?!

We spent a blustery Bank Holiday Monday, exploring Holly Hill Woodland Park near Bursledon, before battling our way along the Hamble estuary. The woodland park is a Victorian ornamental park, featuring much exotic planting and carefully crafted lakes, grottoes and sunken gardens. It makes for a beautiful stroll, and blends seamlessly with areas of semi-natural woodland, before you're disgorged into the open saltmarsh and vegetated shingle along the Hamble.

The River Hamble is a smallish river, exiting onto the busy waterway of Southampton Water, with 'interesting' views of Fawley Oil Refinery and power station opposite. The combination of coastal grassland, shingle, saltmarsh and scrub forms a great habitat for many species. We noted curlew, shelduck and various gulls. It was certainly a bracing walk!

And by contrast, I was determined to enjoy some of the sunshine, having been stuck indoors much of the week. On my way back from Dorchester yesterday, I had to call into Martin Down (handy). I was the only person enjoying Kitt's Grave - the patch of woodland, scrub and grassland across the A354 from the rest of the reserve. Not only did I see a good variety of flowers - hawthorn blossom, primroses, wild garlic, dog's mercury carpets in the ancient woodland, patches of cowslips finally coming out (taking their time) and my first early purple orchid - but the accompanying birdsong was a beautiful cacophony. Nothing rare really - song thrush, blackbird, robin, chiff chaff, chaffinch, blue tit, great tit, green finch, gold finch and my first cuckoo of the year! They all seemed to be trying very hard, with the song thrushes being particularly creative with their repetitive calls. It is a magical moment when you're enjoying the sights and sounds with nobody else around you, and the troubles of the civilised world seemingly far away. Let's hope this weather lasts.

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