The New Forest, Hampshire
The title of this final section of the write-up of my holiday is a bit of a misnomer. Although I did make multiple visits to the New Forest, none of them were for any length of time and I wasn't really able to search for anything. On the way from the airport on arrival we stopped at a couple of car parks with the kids whilst we waited for MacDonalds to open, and drove around the lanes for a while. It was a Friday, and suddenly mid-morning it seemed that every car in the south of England had suddenly decided to visit. I was so surprised to see that New Forest Ponies were everywhere - even walking through the middle of the towns. I also had a brief stop midweek on another trip back from the airport but it was almost dusk and I didn't get much further than grabbing a few mystery plants. And there was also a very brief final stop on the final day, again just looking around car parks!
Despite these very brief visits, I did manage to find a few new species of plants. My favourites were the Sundews growing in the boggy areas and pond-sides, something that I cannot remember seeing before in the wild. The other new plants were White Water-lily, Water-purslane, Common Yellow-sedge, Bulbous Rush, Marsh St. John's-wort, Bog Pimpernel, Lesser Skullcap and New Zealand Pygmyweed. There did not seem to be any birds in the New Forest - not that I saw anyway! However, the dusk drive through the northern part of the forest and into Fordingbridge from the East was so atmospheric and one of my favourite parts of the trip.
As a family, we did make a visit to the nature reserve at Blashford Lakes. It looked a pretty nice place with some good walks, but due to "family concerns" I barely saw anything!
We also visited a "Raptor and Owl Centre" on the edge of the New Forest. My usual concerns about creatures in captivity goes without saying, nevertheless it was actually terrific to see such bird species at very close quarters, especially when they were flying the massive birds and the kids had never seen owls and the like before in the flesh.