One of the reasons I think that we had not been to the New Forest for quite a while, although we know we love the place, is that it is very popular and, consequently, suffers from hoards of tourists. Although the main purpose of our recent 10-day trip was nature and wildlife, one really does have to play typical tourist as well sometimes. Besides, it gave us a break from chasing dragonflies and mushrooms. [Ed: you should see those mushrooms run. 🙂 ]
Most will know that the New Forest is famous for New Forest ponies. The ponies are not wild but are owned by “commoners” who have grazing rights. The ponies are easy to spot, often choosing to graze beside the road. Actually, they are harder to miss than to spot since they frequently choose to graze from within the road, displaying a complete indifference to the dangers of traffic. The roads within the forest have 40mph limits to maximize the ponies’ safety. There is another safety measure: many ponies wear reflective neck bands because they are apt to wander across roads at night and there are no street lights. [Ed: even if there were street lights they’d be turned off these days.]
Most pony pictures end up as being so-so, rather in the category of “aunty Mabel on the beach at Clacton”. Such a shot is on the left – pleasant enough but unremarkable. This time fortune stepped in and treated us to something a little different. Although playing tourist, I had allowed myself to become distracted by yet another dragonfly – a Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea), since you ask – which was busily ovipositing in a small pond. As I was watching, a white pony, which I’m sure in horsey-speak would be called a grey pony, waded into the dragonfly’s future nursery and began munching the water plants. The pond was deeper than I had imagined and the combination of water and pony made for a much more interesting couple of pictures.
The other typically touristy subject when in the New Forest is, of course, scenery. As will be seen from the first pony shot (above), the term “forest” may seem in some cases a little odd, there being very few or no trees. The New Forest National Park is actually a mixture of woodland and heath land in (I’m guessing) roughly equal measure. Most folks think of a forest as a serious chunk of woodland but, in fact, the term “forest” originally referred to a hunting ground. In this case, the hunting ground was William the Conqueror’s. So, not only does the New Forest not look much like a forest (these days) but it isn’t new, either. Be that as it may, the New Forest it is and here’s a couple more typical touristy landscapes to complete the collection.