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WAYSIDES NEWS BLOG

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TUESDAY JULY 8 - 2019

Bridge Road Wayside
I had an interesting meeting this morning at 10.30am in Bridge Road car park, arranged by Brendan Gibb-Gray, with three residents of Hayling Island (Lesley, Eric and Judy) who are aiming to kick start a waysides project on the island similar to the one we launched here in Emsworth almost 10 years ago. Yes, it really is that long ago . . . the inaugural meeting of the Friends of Emsworth Waysides took place on 3 September 2009 in the Crown Hotel, Emsworth.

First we stopped to look at the council mown grass verge at the southern entrance to the car park which has a variety of interesting flowers and grasses, which are encouraged by regular mowing.

In contrast the wayside to the east of the car park which is only mown once a year is a veritable jungle of grasses and flowers - no doubt supporting a great range of invertebrate wildlife.

We noted a few beetles, but the highlight of the morning were several Gatekeeper butterflies which we saw flying on the wayside - the first of the year. Here are a couple of shots I managed to get.

We went on a little tour of the wayside, during which I pointed out some of the more interesting plants, including two types of Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw and the aromatic Ladies Bedstraw. There were also several varieties of grasses which are the backbone of any wayside.

Personally, I was pleased to discover a small tuft of Lesser Swine-cress (Coronopus didymus) growing from the edge of the verge at the northern entrance.

And later I also noted the first flowering of Vervain on the edge of the northern shrubbery.

The Hayling visitors promised to keep in touch and I, in turn, I agreed to visit their sites to help out with plant identification.
At the end we trouped up Victoria Road, stopping at Julian's nursery to buy a few plants, and on to Brook Meadow. We managed to find a single Pyramidal Orchid still in flower, along with several seed heads of Southern Marsh Orchids. But not enough time to explore further.


THURSDAY JUNE 27 - 2019

Horndean Road verge
I am grateful to Kate Wheelwright for alerting me to the roadside verge at the top of Horndean Road opposite the new housing development on the old Southleigh Farm. As Kate says, before the housing development and the subsequent road widening works the verge was mown grass with 5 mature maple trees and daffodils in the spring. When the housing development started, the road had to be widened to allow access to the site and the verge was narrowed and ripped up, including the daffodils (purchased and planted by local residents); the trees were felled and stumps ground out.
Kate says nothing much happened to the verge until early spring this year when three chaps turned up with a rotovator and did some earth scraping. Now it is a mass of flowers!

Well, to take up the story, Kate asked me to have a look at it and see what was growing there which I did yesterday (June 26). I was astonished! I have never seen a verge like it. There is certainly nothing like it in Emsworth. Basically, it is a mass of Mayweed, of both Scented and Unscented varieties with a number of other flowers and grasses mixed in. I could smell the sweet Mayweed as I walked on the verge. Quite an experience.

I decided to make a list of the plants which you can see below: N = 28. They include a couple of grasses which I think are Italian Ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) and Black Grass (Alopecurus myosuroides); I have not recorded either of them previously in Emsworth.

The most interesting flower was Grass Vetchling of which I noted several examples. This is another plant I have not previously recorded in Emsworth.

I called in to see Kate who lives in one of the houses adjacent to the verge and she accompanied me on a little tour of this extraordinary verge. Kate was delighted to hear about the range of wild flowers on the verge and I encouraged her to enjoy it while it lasts and tell her neighbours about it. It is important neighbours also appreciate what a glorious galaxy of wild flowers they have on their doorsteps which in turn provide valuable nectar sources to butterflies, bees and other insects. What a contrast to the boring 'bowling green' desert on the other side of the road by the new houses.

As to the origin of the plants this is unclear. The most likely explanation is that they came in with soil for the new verge. Maybe the Council will have more information? I suggested to Kate that we ask Norse (Havant Borough Council) to mow the verge as usual in later summer once the seeds have set. That should set the verge up for the following year and so let's wait and see what comes up. How exciting!

List of plants recorded on the Horndean Road verge - 26 June 2019 . . . N=28
Black Grass, Black Medick, Bristly Ox-tongue, Broad-leaved Willowherb, Cleavers, Common Orache, Common Poppy, Corncockle (?), Cultivated Oat, Curled Dock, Field Bindweed, Field Forget-me-not, Grass Vetchling, Greater Plantain, Hairy Tare, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Willowherb, Italian Ryegrass, Knotgrass, Meadow-grass (?), Nipplewort, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Smooth Sow-thistle, Spear Thistle, Yorkshire Fog.


SATURDAY JUNE 15 - 2019

Bridge Road Wayside
I was very pleased to meet up again with several friends from the old Havant Wildlife Group to lead this morning's walk on Brook Meadow. Nine of us assembled in Bridge Road car park where I invited them to look at a rare plant called Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) which was in flower on the wayside.

Unlike the more common Creeping Cinquefoil, Sulphur Cinquefoil is an erect plant with a cluster of flowers at the top of the stem. It is a regular plant on this wayside where I have recorded it most years since 2011. It is described as 'Rare' in my old copy of 'The Flora of Hampshire' (1996), though I am not sure what its present status. It was introduced into Britain by 1648, and was known from the wild by 1858 (Middlesex), so it is fairly well established though still rare in this area.


WEDNESDAY 5 JUNE - 2019

Christopher Way
I stopped off to check on the Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca) that has been growing on the council mown grass verge at the northern end of Christopher Way for several years. It was good to see these rare plants still doing well despite of (or maybe because of) regular Council mowing. I counted about 20 plants most of which were just starting to flower.

I first discovered these plants when surveying the local roadside verges prior to setting up the Friends of Emsworth Waysides Group in 2011. Their identification was confirmed by BSBI Hants Recorder Martin Rand Martin who said it was a first record for the 10km square SU70. Martin thought it was unlikely to be a garden escape. It was more likely to be a native and maybe either a survival of earlier times or an arrival under its own steam.

 



SUNDAY APRIL 22 - 2018

Bridge Road Wayside
I did the final count of Cuckooflowers on the Bridge Road Wayside verge for this year. I counted a total of 157 flowering plants with 76 on the north section and 81 on the south section.

Cuckooflower numbers have been steady falling since the bumper year of 2012 when I counted 694 flowering plants. This decline could reflect the change in grass verge management from the regular cutting by the council to a once a year cut as a wayside. This means that Cuckooflowers may well benefit from regular cutting, which reduces competition from tougher plants.

I also noted Barren Brome grass

and the first signs of Common Sorrel. The white flowers of Garlic Mustard are now well out and prominent on the wayside.

The small Bay bush near the Goat Willow on the south verge is also in flower. The only butterflies I saw were Comma and a female Orange Tip.


Tuesday 17 April 2018

There has been a large increase in Cuckooflowers since my last count yesterday. Today I counted 73 Cuckooflowers on the wayside verge with more to come. We might make the ton! Garlic Mustard is out for the first time.
I also found some Wavy Bitter-cress with distinctive wavy stems, growing on the edge of the Westbrook Stream.


Monday 16 April 2018
I counted 26 Cuckooflower plants on the grass verge this afternoon. As we have had hundreds in previous years, I am expecting (hoping for) more to come.

While counting the Cuckooflowers, I came across a stunning Peacock butterfly basking in the warm spring sunshine. These butterflies are so beautiful they take your breath away! A slightly less spectacular Comma was also fluttering around the wayside. I managed to snap it when it rested.


THURSDAY APRIL 12 - 2018

I spent most of this afternoon installing and cleaning the waysides signcase which has not been touched for over a year. I have completely updated the display, including information about the Friends of Emsworth Waysides scheme, a map of the existing wayside sites and photos of volunteers, visitors and wildlife (birds and wild flowers), that can be seen on the Bridge Road wayside.

Here is a photo of the display in the signcase

I also did a mini litter pick, just concentrating on the wayside, producing one bag.

Following that I did a wild flower survey of the wayside, during which I found the first Cuckooflower of the year in full flower, though this is one to two weeks later than usual. It is just south of the central shrubbery. I noted many more in bud, still to flower, so hopefully we shall get another good showing of this attractive flower. Last year I counted a maximum of 268 Cuckooflowers on the wayside, though numbers have been falling since the bumper year of 2012 when I counted an astonishing 694. Bridge Road Wayside is the best local site that I am aware for this attractive wild flower. It gets its name from the arrival of the first Cuckoo, though the flower usually comes before the bird.

As usual in early spring, there has been an excellent showing of the yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine (Wordsworth's favourite flower) beneath the Beech hedge at the southern entrance to the car park. The Rowan tree on the southern grass verge immediately in front of the Celandines was planted on 4th April 2010 by Brendan Gibb-Gray in memory of his wife Margaret. Brendan was one of the founder members of the Friends of Emsworth Waysides in 2009.

One other significant finding in today's survey was the first spike (flower) of the grass Meadow Foxtail. This is also about a week later than usual. No other grasses are out on the wayside apart from the ubiquitous Annual Meadow-grass.