I completely neglected Mill Lawn last season; being too busy exploring locations away from the New Forest. Being one of the forest ‘lawns’ it has always attracted the crowds, be they dog walkers, picnickers or the day tripper who wants to enjoy the forest without straying too far or onto uneven ground.
Thankfully for the Odo enthusiast the key sections are south of the stream, the side with that ‘uneven ground’. I recommend following the stream itself for Beautiful Demoiselles, Golden-ringed and other passing traffic and fully exploring the flushes which lead into the main flow from the boggy areas to the south.
There are several sections where you are forced upstream to cross these flushes and each one usually has something to offer, whether it be Southern and Small Red Damselflies or parading Keeled Skimmers, Broad-bodied or and Four-spotted Chasers. There is also a well-vegetated channel parallel to the stream which is ideal habitat for Scarce Blue.
With signs of a better Wednesday morning I took advantage of an early start, arriving just 9.00am at the main car park. As you walk towards the stream, there is a small bridge crossing the first flush. This is well worth exploring as in the first few minutes I had Southern, Large and Small Red, Beautiful Demoiselle, Keeled Skimmer and Broad-bodied Chaser.
The main stream and flushes produced more of the same with the majority of the action centred on the furthest. Certainly the Southern population was remarkably rich. A little further along, just before Rooks Bridge, is a stand of gorse where I disturbed a roosting Golden-ringed, which unfortunately flew off uphill with a graceful glide.
And then the sun disappeared…and didn’t appear for the rest of my stay.
I amused myself by wandering a little further through the woods and to search another area before returning and taking a slow, searching walk up & down each flush. The populations of damsels had certainly reduced, although there were several Southern scattered throughout the heather. A pair of Large Red chose a bramble bush to complete their union.
The lack of sun meant any Scarce were going to be almost impossible to locate, so I concentrating on the one nearest the car park for the last half hour and practised picking out Southern and Small Red among the lush vegetation.
Like Ober Water and Latchmore Brook, Mill Lawn is at its best on a calm, warm and most of all sunny day. Wednesday started out well but soon returned to default, but a fruitful walk non-the-less in a pleasant environment which deserves a rain check.