Wednesday 3rd April 2013 saw the beginning of a second expedition. Arriving at Hurn Forest, Hurn in Dorset at 9am with a friend of mine, Emily Field Gillard, it was our aim to find the New Forest ponies. After being reassured that the wood was a part of the New Forest I was led to believe that there were New Forests ponies residing within this wood. Sadly, by the end of this expedition after having my hopes lifted, we were not successful in finding the ponies. The expedition was forced to turn into a wildlife spotting one.
The first morning we began by exploring the left side of the wood. We set off believing we would be successful, we had high spirits as the sun was shining, and the wood was very picturesque. Emily, not being a wildlife person, wore what were in my eyes not sensible shoes for walking in in a wood, as well as in the undergrowth. Me being me, decided to walk across a clearing which was a bit boggy in places. Along the way, we spotted piles of horse manure and hoof prints along the way, which in the end I put down to domesticated horses being ridden through the forest. Not realising this at the time we followed the tracks and in the distance I saw a horse not wearing a rug. My hopes lifted we had found them, after walking closer the hopes that had risen had been washed away, the horse was in a field, with a freeze mark along with fellow horses with rugs on. We continued our journey round this half of the wood, spotting a squirrel, badger tracks, great tits along with one too many pigeons! After about 2 and a half hours we was back where we started, we had walked around most of this side. After a quick rest and a sip of water we carried on, this time taking a different path.
After sticking to the main path for a while we took a path off the track, looking for wildlife as we went, hearing various birds, but not being able to see them. As I looked up ahead, through the trees I saw a bay pony stood next to an iron-grey pony. Adrenaline rushed through me, the word yes ran through my head in a long stream we had found them at last, my heart was pounding I was excited. I whipped round and told Emily to take off her strawberry hat and keep quiet (as when she gets excited her voice turns to a high pitched squeal). Clutching my camera I snapped a shot through the trees just in case we spooked them on approach. As we got closer I was once again disappointed, the adrenaline disappeared and my heart stopped pounding, what we hadn’t see through the trees was the electric fence, the horses were in a field and appeared to be domesticated once again. Trying to hide my disappointment we carried on, taking a path with led through the trees, following a fence, which we were intrigued by. A sign on it read ‘Ministry of defence under terms of official secrets act, this is a prohibited place and entry is not allowed’. We followed the path, trying to peak through the trees to see what was on the other side from time to time.
We soon came to a very long path, which reminded me of the long walk in Windsor. ‘Oh boy’ I thought to myself, ‘this may take a while’. Whilst on this long path there was a gap where we could clearly see on the other side of the fence, it looked like an open area of dried grassland, with what looked like purple shrubs. ‘Maybe it’s an area of scientific interest’ I said to Emily, ‘Oh’ was the reply. On this path we didn’t have the trees for shade, we were in the warm spring sun. I was wearing all black and soon warmed up. As we drew closer to the trees again I spotted some big birds flying around. As we got closer we found out they were buzzards. About another mile up the path there was a bench, we sat down and had lunch spotting a bright yellow butterfly, which fluttered past. Before setting off again I took off my waterproofs as I decided they were not needed and it was too warm to wear them.
Soon spotting another fairly big bird fly onto the tip of a tree, I snapped a few pictures to see what it was, a few dogs then loped their way over to us, jumping up. The owner soon appeared and asked if we had seen anything. I replied about the bird and she said it might be a kestrel or sparrow hawk. After a quick chat we continued our journey, thanking the woman who told us a bit more about the birds.
We came to a road, which we crossed and had a quick look in the wood on the other side before turning back, and making our way back through the wood, along the fence line which we were first intrigued by. This way back was a lot muddier than the main path. There wasn’t much wildlife on the way back, but the view was relaxing so it was a good trek back, along with looking through the fence, we came to the conclusion it was probably something to do with the army. Walking around the edge, definitely seemed to take longer than the main path, and it was hillier. At this point I could feel the blisters forming but not letting that dampen my mood, I kept up a brisk pace, stopping occasionally to take pictures. After getting a little lost once closer to the start, we made it back in one piece, exhausted, hot and craving sugar.
Despite not finding what I set out to find, it’s about the journey not whether it was successful or not. All in all, I enjoyed walking around a wood all day.