Last weekend I went on the Wild New Forest camp at the Cameron Bespolka Trust’s Cameron’s Cottage!
On the Friday evening once we arrived we went on a walk in the dark around the forest finding different types of fungi, invertebrates and even a roosting wren through the thermal imager!
The number of different species we found on the walk was amazing! Some of my favourites were the Fly Agarics, Yellow Stagshorn and Larch Bolete.
We also found lots of bugs and insects including Dung Beetles, a Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar and a couple of Devil’s Coach Horse Beetles!
It was a really fun evening and so interesting to see the nocturnal life of the forest!
On Saturday we were up early to watch some bird ringing – we caught lots of Robins and Wrens and also a beautiful Treecreeper!
Then we headed back to Cameron’s Cottage to check the moth traps! We caught some nice species including Merveille Du Jour, Feathered Thorns and Red-Green Carpets!
We then went on a long walk through the forest, finding different species of fungi, invertebrates and birds along the way, before having a bio blitz competition at a lake!
The bio blitz was so much fun and I learnt the names of so many different species of fungi, tree, beetle and spider! The winning team won with over 150 species and some highlights were Wood Crickets, Raft Spider, Iodine Bonnet fungi and Rhododendron Leafhopper.
After, we walked back to the cottage finding lots more fungi on the way, including Puffballs, Amethyst Deceivers, Yellow Field Cap and Jelly Ears!
In the evening we went out for another walk in the dark and the highlight was an incredible Lobster Moth caterpillar!
It was such a fun day and I learnt so much from other young nature enthusiasts and the expert leaders!
Sunday was our last day on the camp, so after some bird ringing and checking the moth traps early in the morning, we went up for a long walk on the heath.
We spent some time watching Dartford Warblers and Stonechats flitting around hunting insects and we found a few interesting caterpillars on the heath flowers!
And of course we found more fungi, including heath navel, burgundy drop bonnets and nail fungus which is one of the rarest fungi in the new forest, that grows on the wild ponies poo!
We talked about the management of the New forest and what is being done and why, and some plans for the future.
Whilst walking through an ancient woodland, we had brilliant views of two Hawfinches which was a new species for me! The New Forest is a big stronghold for this species and it is estimated that 60-80% of the UK’s population is found there!
Then we got back to the cottage and said our goodbyes before heading home!
The whole weekend was honestly so fun!! I met so many new people with similar interests (shoutout to Lucy!! Can’t wait to meet up again!!), and learnt so much about identifying invertebrates, bird song, fungi and moths from the experts but also the other young people on the camp!
A big thank you to the amazing Cameron Bespolka Trust and Wild New Forest for making it possible!