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SAND SALT &


Wildlife notes from Forest and Coast by Graeme Lamkin of Arum Design Tel: 645913


Looking for any almost any type of wildlife is rarely guaranteed to be successful. Of course, there are many species that can be seen almost every day in this area; a bird such as the common buzzard, for example. But, try to look for a buzzard on your own terms, within a limited me‐frame and you might well be disappointed. Then think of a similar species, such as the much rarer honey buzzard, and there are keen birdwatchers who have lived their lives in the Forest, and yet have never seen this bird!


The above are both large birds who like (to varying degrees) to soar high in the open sky, yet are sll never a ‘dead cert’ to see. Therefore, consider how extraordinarily challenging it can be to see one of the LBJ’s (Lile Brown Jobs, as some birders refer to them) that like to lurk in the densest of vegetaon, and oen have a disncve song by way of compensaon.


bird, whose song has been celebrated throughout much of history. Yet, even where sll occurring, one is very lucky indeed to actually see a nighngale. Sadly, the likelihood of this diminishes with each passing year and this wonderful bird, always rare in the New Forest, is now virtually unknown. Not that this arch‐songster is anything much to look at ‐ rather like a robin without the red breast, but with a Rufus tail instead.


Two other similar species ‐ thankfully sll numerous ‐ are the garden warble and the black‐cap. Again, these species enjoy dense thickets and scrubby woodland. Both are extremely dingy in appearance, while having the most beauful and liquid songs.


Nighngale


The most obvious example would be the nighngale, a


Another LBJ, that is actually increasing in numbers, is the Ce’s warbler. This is a species first recorded in Britain only in 1961, yet now found locally in marshy places and reed beds around this area. Again, it is very drab ‐ a lile like a nighngale (without the Rufus tail), but it has a truly explosive song that, while not especially tuneful, is loud enough to make you jump when delivered at close range on a quiet evening!


My last, and for me, the most elusive of these small, drab (but oen strangely charismac species) is the aptly named grasshopper warbler. Though not numerous in our area, this species can occasionally be heard at dawn and dusk, reeling its peculiar, cricket‐like song from deep in scrub or rank, grassy places. The song is weak and thin, yet carries far, making it extremely difficult to pin‐point the locaon of the singer ‐ especially as the species likes to creep, mouse‐like through the undergrowth. Loath to fly, the grasshopper warbler is hard to spot, even on the rare occasions it shows itself ‐ for it is almost perfectly striated and speckled to blend with its habitat.


Definitely a challenging bird– so much so, that the last me I saw or even heard one was nearly forty years ago, when I was a boy.


Paence is usually rewarded, and I have been fortunate enough to see all of the other species menoned here at some point in me ‐ and even other notoriously ‘tricky’ species, such as quail, corncrake and biern. The grasshopper warbler, however, connues to elude me in adulthood!


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Grasshopper Warbler


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