There is possibly nowhere in Britain to compare with the certain atmosphere of the New Forest. The word ‘New’ incidentally, is nearly 1,000 years old, used first by William the Conqueror. Hampshire has the largest heathlands in Europe, as well as the purest chalk streams and rivers anywhere. We have vast areas of woodland, varied agricultural habitats, the South Downs, nature reserves, marshes, ponds and lakes. Indeed, we have everything here apart from moors, mountains and sea cliffs.
Of course, we also enjoy the coastline of the Solent and here in summer we can enjoy the spectacle of Mediterranean Gulls in their splendour, together with Common, Sandwich and Little Terns shrieking and diving for fish along our shores. But perhaps most of all, Hampshire is famous for its winter geese and waders, many of which can be seen and photographed close up, prolific in numbers and variety.
If you wish to know where to go, or wish to increase your knowledge and identification skills, join us on our HOS walks, held throughout the year, to all of these habitats. A walk in the New Forest in summer may only reveal 20 species, a walk along the shoreline during May or October may produce 70, but the walks are also a way of enjoying our splendid scenery, and meeting like-minded nature lovers and share that intangible feeling that is savoured by the lucky ones, who can thrill at the wonders of the natural world.
Sometimes it is good to be by yourself or maybe accompanied just by your family or close friends, but other times, you may enjoy company, and learn and enjoy our wildlife with others. We are fortunate to have our regular leaders, who are willing to give up their time to impart their knowledge. Maybe you know of a local patch, which you can show and share with others. You do not have to be a birding expert.
Other events are also held throughout the year. In the summer, along with Chris Packham whenever he can make it, we take out about 100 children on the ‘Bird Trail’, together with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. We meet at a suitable location, where we show them fieldcraft, bird and other wildlife identification, all building up to the highlight of the day, the picnic. We have recently started to offer “Birding Basics” courses. These include – winter waders, spring raptors, bird song, wildlfie photography. More will be run depending on interest.
Our Members’ Day/AGM, is held each spring in Winchester. The AGM part usually takes but a few minutes, and then there is a team of speakers, together with slideshows, building up to the John Taverner Memorial Lecture. The day is a chance to meet other HOS members, or potential members, look over the many artistic displays, the book collections, various other wildlife exhibits, optical equipment, conservation groups and also a once-in-a-year chance to network, meet and enjoy the coffee and cakes.
So do see Kingfisher newsletter magazine, or this website, for the Walks and Events Programmes. Whether it be a walk or a meeting, you will always be welcomed.