. . .
AUGUST 15 - 2017
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond mid morning
on a very low tide (10:27am to 11:21am. The highlight
was a juvenile Peregrine that flew around for five
minutes, having a swoop at two different Little Egrets
and a couple of Oystercatchers, but failing to connect
on each occasion. It was acting as if it was just
practicing! He then landed on the low tide mud for a
couple of minutes before flying off over the Hayling
Other birds of note included: 2 Sandwich Tern, 4
Common Gull, 28 Dunlin, 110+ Redshank, 5 Black-tailed
Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover, 19 Med Gulls with 2 juvs (all
in winter plumage), 13 Little Egrets feeding in the
trickle of water in the channel, 4 Greenshank, 2 Grey
Plover - winter plumage.
Langstone Mill Pond: Tufted Duck female with seven
growing ducklings (see photo).
1 Little Grebe, 15
Little Egrets still loitering, with 2 half grown young
still in one nest.
had a walk in Southleigh Forest opposite Hollybank
Woods yesterday and got a photo of a Wood Wasp. These
wasps re easily recognisable from their strange shape,
rounded head, long neck, long black antennae and long
red legs. This one is probably Xiphydria
camelus which is widespread in woodland at
this time of the year, though not exactly common.
I did not do
any wildlife today, but Jean and I had an interesting
day of art in Chichester. First, we went to see the
John Minton Centenary Exhibition at the Pallant
Gallery. Minton was a rather sad and tortured artist
who committed suicide aged 39. His art was not great,
but he was a fine illustrator and did a large number
of books and other things. His paintings included a
huge mural called 'Jamaican Village'.
A decorated table also
caught my eye, inspired apparently by his visit to the
Charleston farmhouse where the Bloomsbury artists
painted the furniture. Well worth a visit.
After lunch we had a
look around the Cathedral where I was bowled over by a
huge mural in the north transept containing 400
paintings done one every day by Frieda Hughes
(daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath). I did not
know anything about this exhibition which has been on
since June 14 and finishes on Thursday 17 Aug,
so get along there if you are interested. The whole
exhibition is too good to miss. This photo of the
mural does not do it full justice. You really need to
see the thing.
Here is a sample of
what it looks like close-up.
AUGUST 14 - 2017
about wasps and flies
notes in yesterday's blog about distinguishing wasps
and flies, Bryan Pinchen wrote to say a much better
way to separate solitary (and social) wasps from the
flies is their always obvious (long) antennae.
Hoverflies don't appear to have any antennae at all.
As for how they hold their wings when at rest, Bryan
says not all hoverflies hold their wings out, as I
incorrectly indicated, some do hold them flat over the
body when at rest, so that is not a reliable
Bryan added that Ectemnius wasps are
quite widespread and common in most habitats and we
are just about hitting their peak flight season.
Hogweed and other umbellifers are a good place to see
them, being short of tongue the easily accessible
nectar is what they're after, and any prey species
Bryan confirmed all the other insects photographed on
the blog all look OK. Wow. I can do it sometimes!
I went looking
for solitary wasps on the wayside to the north of
Emsworth Railway Station, but did not see any obvious
ones, though there were plenty of hoverflies as usual.
I am not sure which this one is. I am going to have to
give up on these trying to identify these tiny insects
as it is doing my head in!
Butterflies are much
easier, particularly Common Blues which were
everywhere on the site. This white butterfly puzzled
me for a while, though I am fairly sure it is a female
Small White with two spots on the upper wings.
Its underwings were a dull pale yellow, though not
shown in the photo.
I had an
afternoon walk through the fields behind Westbourne
Avenue where I spotted the Dormouse Survey nesting
boxes still attached to the hedges. I have not heard
any more about this survey or the housing development
plans. I came back through the roads to check on the
Wild Clary in Christopher Way which still had a
few flowering spikes.
I was surprised to
find a single flower of Fox and Cubs in front
of the seat on the corner of Bellevue Lane and
Horndean Road outside St James Primary School. How did
it get there, I wonder?
I was pleased to meet
up with Lesley Harris in Emsworth Recreation Ground.
Lesley used to be the Brook Meadow Conservation Group
secretary before she had to give up due to illness a
few years ago. She was on her daily walk to get her
health back and was looking good. She hopes to get
back to help on Brook Meadow fairly soon. I invited
her to have a cup of tea at home with me and Jean
where we had a good chat.
AUGUST 13 - 2017
'flies' were wasps!
e-mailed to say what I called 'flies' feeding on
Hogweed in the blog for Aug 11 were, in fact, solitary
(digger) wasps in the genus Ectemnius,
either cavifrons or
cephalotes, but without a microscope
they are not easy to separate in the field. Here is my
are large attractive black wasps with bright yellow
abdominal markings and there are 10 species in Britain
They are part of a larger family of digger wasps
Sphecidae) of which 118 species are
present in Britain and Ireland. Digger wasps are
solitary in the sense they do not build colonial nests
like the Common Wasp, but a female builds her nest in
the ground, dead wood or hollow stems alone. The cells
are stocked with prey paralysed by the female's sting
on which the wasp grubs feed. Adults feed on nectar
from flowers and prey on various arthropods, including
bees, beetles, bugs and spiders. The wings are always
held flat over the body at rest as in my photo, unlike
hoverflies which hold their wings out.
I went over to
the meadow to see if I could find any more digger
wasps on the Hogweed and Wild Angelica, but failed to
find any. But I did find one Common Wasp.
There were plenty of
other insects feeding on the flower heads Two fairly
Myathropa florea (particularly common
Episyrphus balteatus (the Marmalade
pertinax (?) - from the pattern on the abdomen
- rather than Drone Fly
Tachina fera (?) - a tubby-looking
Louse-fly with an orange abdomen with a dark line down
(male) on a grass spikelet.
AUGUST 11 - 2017
Sorry, no blog
for the past few days, but weather has been bad and I
have been doing other things! Today it our 55th
wedding anniversary and we had a little celebration,
but I did manage to get out this afternoon.
I had a quick look at the wayside to the north of
Emsworth Railway Station where the flowers are now
going over and setting seed for the next generation.
But the area remains
very attractive to humans, like me, and to
butterflies. This site is usually good for Common
Blues though the ones I saw today were looking
decidedly worn, the end of the summer brood of adults.
However, here in the south we sometimes get a third
brood in early autumn, so there way be fresh ones on
the wing shortly.
catching are the bright red seed heads of St
I then had a
stroll through Brook Meadow entering via Seagull Lane
where I was met by a notice warning pedestrians that
the north bridge will be closed from Mon Aug 14 for
repair. The surface of the bridge is in very bad
condition and this job has been on the books for some
I paid particular
attention to the Great Willowherb which, in
addition to the last of the flowers, is adorned with
long seed pods which are just opening to release the
fluffy seeds which float on the wind.
Here is a close-up of
the seeds emerging from the pods.
Agrimony is still in full and glorious flower.
I managed to find just
one Strawberry Clover fruit that had been
missed during the inadvertent cutting of the path
around the Lumley area - the only place that
Strawberry Clover grow on the meadow. Not to worry as
they will no doubt come up again next year as it is a
I noticed a couple of
flies with long thin and clearly marked bodies and
short wings feeding on the flower heads of Hogweed.
Consulting my insects guide they look like Soldier
Flies (Stratiomyidae), possibly Chrysotoxum
festivum? Can anyone help?
AUGUST 8 - 2017
have a good number of birds visiting the garden
virtually all day long. So far this week I have logged
1 Blackbird, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 7 Collared Dove,
1 Dunnock, 10 Goldfinch, 2 Great Tit, 1 Greenfinch, 4
Long-tailed Tit, 1 Magpie, 16 Starling.
Starlings (mostly juveniles) are certainly the
most entertaining of the birds, hanging onto the fat
ball feeders, squabbling on the ground, etc.
As shown in the chart,
Starlings have made a remarkable recovery in my garden
over the past 3 years, following 6 years of virtual
drought (2009-2014) when I hardly ever saw one. This
year looks to continue the upward trend, though we are
unlikely to reach the heady heights of the early
But my favourite bird
of the moment must be the Long-tailed Tits
(again mostly juveniles). A family of four young
birds have been regular on the bird feeders, liking
both the sunflower hearts and the fat balls, though
they also wander around the garden looking for insects
on the shrubs. At times they come really close to the
house. All photos taken through closed windows.
had a quick look around the meadow today and got a
couple of interesting shots. A Ladybird with only one
wing casing and a Common Blue perching on top of what
looks like a shield bug. I have never seen either of
these events before, have you?
AUGUST 7 - 2017
is getting regular visits from two Hedgehogs (twins)
to the feeding tray in her garden in the evening. They
make several visits until the food is all gone, or
until one of the larger hogs polishes it off first.
Romney also has a
little Wood Mouse which has discovered the Hedgehog
food tray and often nips in for a snack before they
arrive. She says the mouse really can move which made
getting the pics difficult without spooking the little
AUGUST 6 - 2017
Meadow work session
I went over to
the meadow this morning for the regular first Sunday
in the month conservation work session attended by 9
volunteers and led today by Ian Newman. The main job
involved mowing and raking the paths.
I asked the group to recut the two experimental
cutting areas in the north meadow. These two areas
will be regularly cut to discourage coarse grasses and
allow the more delicate flowering plants. It should be
interesting to see what comes up. The southern area is
looking quite promising with 25 species recorded at
the last count.
I also asked
the volunteers to clear the Jubilee Oak trees on the
Seagull Lane patch which were getting engulfed by
dense vegetation. The young ones we planted for the
Jubilee in 2012 are growing fast. Here is the smallest
one (planted by my wife) which is already 6 feet tall.
They all have a good
crop of acorns and spangle galls on the leaves.
One of the volunteers
told me she had seen three Hedgehogs near the
Lumley gate during the past week. I have had two in my
garden. Are they doing particularly well this year, I
Dan told me that David
Gattrell had seen a Water Vole with a baby vole
at the top of Peter Pond near the Lumley Stream. I
did walk over to Peter Pond this morning to check the
location of the sighting, but could not find David. In
any case, this is very good news as it means we still
have Water Voles not far away from the River Ems on
Brook Meadow. Please come back!
I was very pleased to
find some Prickly Lettuce plants in flower on
the edge of the northern experimental cutting area.
This is a rare plant on Brook Meadow and our first
record for two years. It is not an easy plant to
photograph as this attempt of mine clearly
I heard my first
autumn song of the Robin. Butterflies included
Red Admiral, Large White, Comma, Speckled Wood, Meadow
Brown and Gatekeeper.
The Mallards on
Peter Pond are all in eclipse, which means both sexes
have the same brown plumage. The best way to
distinguish them is by the colour of their bills;
males have yellow bills and females brown.
In response to
my puzzlement in yesterday's blog entry over the
Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)
without a cross on its back, Ralph Hollins referred me
to Nick's 'Spiders' as a great source of online info
on spiders. In it, Nick says "Araneus diadematus is
one of the most common and best known orb weavers. It
is easily identified by the distinctive white cross on
the abdomen, although in some specimens it is
indistinct or missing."
See . . . http://www.nicksspiders.com/nicksspiders/araneusdiadematus.htm
Milinets-Raby had the company of John Norton this
morning for his walk around the Warblington shore.
They went on to briefly visit Hayling Oysterbeds as
well (6:27am to 10:17am tide pushing in). Here are
their main observations:
The hedgerow behind Conigar Point: Pheasant female, 2
Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler.
Tamarisk Hedge: 6 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Willow Warbler
(some early autumnal movement this morning), 2 juv
Conigar Point: 1 Greenshank, 2 Common Tern, 1 Stock
Dove, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 adult winter Med
Gull, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Swallow, 1 Common
Off Pook Lane: 4 Greenshank (RG//- + YY//- & B//R
+ LO//-), 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel.
Fifteen wonderful minutes with a very obliging
Weasel. Tricky to photograph as it dashed in and
out of the gravestones before settling down for five
minutes for some amazing views! Here are a couple of
photos from Peter (on the left) and John (on the
Langstone Mill Pond: 5
Dunlin, 120 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Common Gull, 26+
Little Egrets (mostly juvs), Female Tufted Duck with 7
ducklings, 1 Little Grebe, 4+ Willow Warbler in the
Alders with 1 Chiffchaff and a 1 Sedge Warbler.
Cetti's Warbler (one burst of song).
Spider . . . Turnstone
Hayling Oysterbeds: One very nice Wasp Spider,
2 Whimbrel, 24+ Common Tern, 7 Dunlin, 14 Ringed
Plover, 5 Turnstone, 1 Greenshank, 1 Great
Crested Grebe, 310+ Oystercatcher, 1 Swallow, 1+
Whitethroat, 23 Mute Swan off the Southmoor shore.
AUGUST 5 - 2017
Just a few
photos from this morning's walk through Brook Meadow.
I was initially puzzled by this spider, which appeared
to be a standard Garden Spider (Araneus
diadematus), but did not have the usual cross on its
Some of the Hogweed
flower heads were covered in tiny black flies. I've no
idea what they are.
Darter dragonflies were chasing and occasionally
perching on the river near the south bridge.
Here is a male with bright red body.
A Drone Fly and
what looks like hoverfly Myathropa
says he regularly looks at this blog and enjoys the
varied subjects posted. Thanks, Andy. He is keen on
moths and says the micro moth that I photographed on
Brook Meadow on Aug 3 is Common Nettle-tap
(Anthophila fabriciana) . As its mane
suggests the main foodplant of the larvae is Nettle,
though here the mature insect is feeding on
Andy's blog is at . .
AUGUST 4 - 2017
'beetle' is a bug
This morning I
had a email from one of my wildlife gurus, John
Norton, who said he was a bit surprised that I could
not tell the difference between beetles and bugs!
Nothing should surprise him about my knowledge or lack
of it. John said the photo on yesterday's blog, which
I thought might be a beetle, was a final instar nymph
of the Common Green Shieldbug.
See . . http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/heteroptera/Pentatomidae/palomena_prasina.html
John attached a pic of
a Birch Shieldbug that he photographed in the
Alver Valley, Gosport yesterday.
went around the meadow with his trusty camera on this
sunny and windy afternoon. Here is a selection of the
photos he sent to me. He loved the black two-spotted
Harlequin Ladybird with brilliant camouflage
even when not on a blackberry. Others shown here are a
late worker Honey Bee with bulging pollen sacs,
a very green Meadow Grasshopper (I have never
seen one that green) and a pair of Red-Headed
Cardinal Beetles doing what they do best on their
I also had a walk
around the meadow later this afternoon with the warm
sun shining low through the trees. As yesterday there
were many insects on the Hogweed umbels, but what
caught my eye was a lengthy 'scrap' between a Red
Admiral and a male Beautiful Demoiselle.
Here are the two combatants resting after the action,
neither none the worse for their mini encounter. What
was going on? Maybe a territorial dispute.
AUGUST 3 - 2017
I went onto
the meadow this morning mainly to try out my new Lumix
TZ70 camera which I got from Amazon to replace the one
that I irreparably damaged yesterday. Amazon's next
day delivery service is really quite astonishing. I
mainly concentrated on taking close-ups of insects on
Hogweed flower heads, but the strong wind made it
doubly difficult. However, I was pleased with the
camera and the results were, much as with the old one,
some fairly good shots among plenty of rubbish ones.
As always, there were
lots of Red-headed Cardinal (Soldier) Beetles and
several hoverflies on the Hogweed flowers including
Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax) and
were also on the Hogweed along with a small black
fly, much small than a standard Bluebottle which I
think could be one of the parasitic flies in the
Also a small moth .
included a Dark Bush-cricket and an
unidentified tiny beetle (?) resting on leaves
with quite distinctive markings, but which I could not
find in my books.
(possibly Bombus pascuorum) was on
Common Comfrey and a Harvestman hiding away in
On the plant front I
was really surprised to come across a single flowering
spike of Agrimony alongside the path on the
west side of the north meadow - the first ever
Agrimony I have seen on the main Brook Meadow site.
The only other ones were all on the Lillywhite's patch
to the south of the Gooseberry Cottage garden, which
is, strictly speaking, not part of Brook Meadow. I
think I can just make out another Agrimony plant next
to the flowering one in the photo, so I will keep an
eye on these.
AUGUST 1 - 2017
surprised, but also delighted, to see that the wayside
in Bridge Road car park had been cut. The council
cutting team has done a very thorough job, all the
verge has been cut and some of the bushes also trimmed
back. Well done to Jane Brook for organising this. The
arisings will remain in situ for a few weeks to allow
seeds to drop. Then they will be raked up presumably
The cutting had
produced a lot of minced up litter that I had missed
in my last litter pick, so I went round again and
filled one full bag of general waste and two extra
bags of broken tiles from fly tipping. Exhausting
work, but good to have it done. I took this selfie
with the camera balanced on the bonnet of a parked
In fact, it turned out
to the the last one I shall take with that camera - my
favourite Lumix TZ70 - as in doing a second photo a
gust of wind blew the camera off the car bonnet and it
crashed zoom first onto the hard surface of the car
park never to operate again. A lesson learned, but an
expensive one, as to repair it would cost almost as
much as a new camera!
There was not much to
see on the wayside, though I noticed a good crop of
apples on the tree in the central shrubbery, which
should be sweet when ripe.
There is also a very
nice display of Bulrushes in flower on the edge
of the stream with 29 brown flower spikes. Here are
just a few of them.
sent me a few of his recent images mostly taken at
Farlington Marshes. Here is a selection of Colin's
quite outstanding photos. Greenfinch, Blue Tit
snoozing (?) and Kingfisher with crab.
JULY 31 - 2017
I had a stroll
around the meadow in late afternoon sun. Very peaceful
with tall plants swaying in the breeze. There were
lots of insects on the umbellifers, including these
two hoverflies. The large one on the left looked like
a Hornet mimic, but I think it is Volucella
inanis. The small one on the right looks like
Myathropa florea. But please correct me
if I am wrong.
I also spotted this
cracking female Common Darter.
And could one wish for
anything better than to come across a bright and fresh
Red Admiral resting in the warm sunshine on a
leaf. It is truly amazing to consider that this
beautiful insect has just flown across the English
Channel to be with us on Brook Meadow.
and Hemp Agrimony are now in flower and I
brought a few springs of the latter back for my desk
The Hemp Agrimony was
attracting Bumblebees, like this white-tailed chap,
probably Bombus terrestris.
is out on the east side of the Lumley area. It is
always late flowering. Not easy to photograph.
The young Oak tree on
the east side of the north meadow has a great crop of
acorns, many of them are distorted by Knopper
In the same area, the
Rowans are covered in juicy red berries, no
doubt the local Blackbirds and Thrushes are watchful.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon ahead of the high tide (3:15pm for an hour).
The highlights were 98 Redshank off shore with 8
colour ringed (four of them were new to him). B+B//OO
B+B//WO B+B//RY. B+B//WW (Very dirty white, these two
rings). B+B//RB B+B//YW B+B//NG. Redshank
colour-ringed sightings should be forwarded to Josh
Nightingale . . . firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter also saw 13
Black-tailed Godwits with one colour ringed G//R+BG.
This Godwit has been a regular wintering bird in the
Emsworth area since Sept 2010, but this is the first
sighting this 'autumn'.
Also around were 3
Common Gulls, 2 Med Gulls, 6 Mute Swan, 2 Greenshank,
a Whimbrel and a single Common Tern. On the pond were
30+ Little Egrets and the female Tufted Duck still had
Ken and Romney
Turner have what they call 'the twins', medium same
sized animals, on their feeder every night now tucking
into dried mealworms, seedhearts and now a small ball
They added, "Curiously enough, they eat everything
else first then come back for the mince when they have
walked off a full belly. We happened to look out much
later last night at 11:30 and the big one tried the
feeder but others had scoffed the lot so he got a
couple of titbits and cleared off. Needs to get there
around 9pm like the others, early Hedgehogs get the
worm or whatever else is on offer."
JULY 30 - 2017
Sorry, no chance
of a photo, but here is Romney Turner's photo of
Hedgehogs in close proximity taken recently.
When I opened
my front door at 9.30pm yesterday evening, I was
surprised to hear a loud snuffling coming from the
path in front of the window. I got a torch out to have
a look and found two Hedgehogs rubbing up against each
other, but not fighting. I called Jean and we watched
them for about a minute before one made off round the
side of the house. What were they up to? Were they
males confronting each other? Or was this courtship.
I sent a report of the
Hedgehogs sighting to Caroline French, our local
Hedgehog expert, who thought it sounded like courtship
behaviour, especially with the snorting sounds, which
are made by the female. Normally, the female will keep
turning her rear end away from the male who will
persist, sometimes for several hours until mating does
(or doesn't) occur! Caroline sent a link a video on
YouTube showing typical courtship behaviour in
Hedgehogs which was exactly like we saw last night
with the male circling around the female. See . . . .
Concerning the sexing
of Hedgehogs, Caroline says it is difficult without
picking them up and looking closely. However, males
are bigger when fully grown, as in the above
A couple of nights ago Caroline saw a quite a small
hedgehog in her garden. Although independent, it must
be one of this year's as it is too small to have
survived the winter.
took this photo of the two magnificent Tree of Heaven
trees in the grounds of the Waterside Church in Bath
Road. They are very prominent landmarks and are
currently at their best. Chris notes the trees are
have bunches of crimson 'whirligigs' seeds similar to
extoled the value of pavements as a habitat for wild
flowers. He sent me this photo of Nursery Close, where
he counted six different wild flowers.
Bridge Road, where I
live, has a similar adornment of wild flowers along
the edge of the pavement. I counted 13 different
species in a small section near my house alone - a
sign that that dreaded council spraying teams have not
been round this year (yet). Let's hope they stay well
away, pavement plants are a joy to behold. We also had
a magnificent display of Hollyhocks on the pavement
outside number 1 Bridge Road until fairly recently,
though they have now gone over.
JULY 29 - 2017
Milinets-Raby took advantage of a fine morning before
the rain to do his first survey of the autumn of birds
along the coast from Emsworth to Warblington. The
first of many during the winter I suspect. Peter
covered almost all the area from Emsworth Harbour to
the shore off Pook Lane 7:50am to 10:17am - tide out
and dropping further. His sightings were as follows:
Beacon Square from
2 Greenshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 62 eclipse
plumaged Mallard feeding on the freshly uncovered mud,
1 Little Egret, 2 Whimbrel, Lesser and a Great
Black-backed Gull, 2 Green Woodpecker, 23+ Goldfinch
flock with a single Linnet in it.
2 Little Egret, 4 Whimbrel, 1 Shelduck, 81
Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Turnstone, 5 Common Tern,
Lesser and a Great Black-backed Gull, 5 Greenshank,
two of them in the pond outflow, one with rings.
W//R+LN - Peter said he had not seen this one
before and the combination of rings did look
unfamiliar. So, I consulted Anne de Potier, who now
keeps the colour-ringed Greenshank records. Anne told
me that W//R+LN was ringed at Farlington in September
2013, but she does not think anyone has seen it until
this autumn, when she saw it roosting on the Deeps on
24 July! So, done Peter.
Astonishingly this was Peter's 43rd ringed bird
recorded in the area! As he says, it just goes to show
how many pass through the area in the migration
periods and linger during the winter months. And, of
course the number of un-ringed birds could be 40+
again! 14 individuals were seen just today!
Millpond - 5 Coot.
Nore Barn from
4 Greenshank (YO//- + -//YY) - A regular Nore Barn
bird, 1 Shelduck, 3 Whimbrel, 33 Black-tailed Godwit,
11 Mute Swan, 2 Little Egret, 3 Lesser Black-backed
Skylark heard singing, 3 Stock Dove, 1 Jay, 1
Kestrel, 1 Buzzard, 1 Swallow,
3 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 2 juvs. 1
Common Tern, 1 Common Gull,
And loafing around on the mud were an impressive
gathering of 142 adult Mediterranean Gulls (in various
stages of moult) with 40 fresh juveniles!
A lovely Willow Warbler in the Tamarisk Hedge provided
Off Pook Lane:
A further 2 adult Med Gulls with 7 more juveniles,
3 Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Little Egret in
the trickle of water in the channel, 1 Stock Dove, 2
Common Gulls, 1 very handsome summer plumaged Grey
Plover - very smart!
JULY 28 - 2017
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon 1:20pm for an hour. Tide pushing in to high.
"Autumn certainly feels in the air at the moment with
drizzle and lots of waders around." His report
Off shore were: 78 Redshank (-//B+ B//OL & -//B +
B//GL & -//B + B//YW), 5 Greenshank, 1 Ringed
Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Common Tern, 4 Ad &2 Juv Med
Gulls, 3 Common Gull, 1 Kestrel. 1 adult summer Great
Off Conigar Point: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Tern,
2 Med Gulls.
On the pond: 64 Little Egrets loitering - about 10
still on nests, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swan, Female
Tufted Duck with 7 tiny ducklings (First seen on 25th
July and today, so still doing well - breeding
confirmed again at the pond).
JULY 27 - 2017
through Bridge Road car park this morning I spotted
two notices (presumably erected by Jane Brook who now
runs the waysides project) informing us that in the
next 2 months the wayside will be cut by Havant
Borough Council. Arisings will be left for a while to
allow the seeds to drop before they are raked up. That
is good news as the Bridge Road Wayside has been
disappointing this year and needs an early cut.
I had another
look at the southern experimental cut area on the
north meadow where I found one new flower for this
area Selfheal. This takes the total of plants
in this small area to 25, nothing special, but a lot
more than one would find in the surrounding
wilderness. I have recommended to the conservation
group that they should repeat this regular
experimental cutting regime in other areas, which they
have agreed to consider.
I was delighted to see a Bittersweet plant
climbing up an Elder on the side of the main path
through the south meadow. It had flowers, green and
There were lots of
insects feeding on the flower heads of Hogweed, mainly
house flies, red soldier beetles and hoverflies. Here
are photos of the two most common hoverflies I saw on
the flowers. The one on the left side in the photos I
think is the familiar Marmalade Hoverfly
(Episyrphus balteatus), though I was
not aware (until now) that it was possible to separate
the sexes in the field. This looks like a female which
has clearer abdominal markings than the male.
The hoverfly on the right side in the photos could be
Syrphus ribesii (no common name) which
is also fairly common on Brook Meadow.
A sharp shower of rain
interrupted my insect watching. I sheltered for a
while under trees near the seat, admiring the meadow
while listening to Sarah Vaughan singing 'What a
lovely day to get caught in the rain' on my iPhone!
Hawk-moths galore in gardens
reports Hummingbird Hawk-moths have been seen in a
record number of gardens so far this season,
particularly in the south and east of England. They
were seen in 2% of gardens in June compared to an
average of 0.5%.
See . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-52M45-3UEDCR-2QAAYA-0/c.aspx
For the annual
patterns of garden sightings see . . .
do not normally over-winter here, and the population
is replenished each year by new migrants. As such,
numbers can vary considerably from year to year. It
has been particularly warm this June in eastern parts
of England - more than 2.5°C above average
according to the Met Office - and warm air drawn up
from the south may have helped to carry them to our
shores. These moths are often seen hovering like a
hummingbird over plants such as Viper's Bugloss,
Buddleia and Red Valerian, to collect nectar. Our main
season for sightings is June-September, so keep an eye
out for them!
I have just
heard from Martin Rand, our local BSBI Plant recorded
for S Hampshire and my mentor on all matters
botanical, that he will be undergoing medical
treatment for the next 5-6 months. This is likely to
put him out of action for some of the time, so Martin
asks us to be patient if we don't get very timely
responses to e-mails. Good news, is that he expects to
be back 'on all cylinders' by Snowdrop time next year!
We shall be thinking of you, Martin. Get well soon.
JULY 26 - 2017
is one of the Hedgehogs coming for food.
Ken and Romney
Turner had the very unusual experience of watching a
pair of Hedgehog apparently fighting. I will leave
Romney to describe the experience in her own words.
put the food out and went to look if anyone was
noshing, a lot of shrubbery was moving and out tumbled
two medium sized Hedgehogs. They were nowhere near the
food yet but the action was fast and furious, I
thought maybe mating prelude. However it soon became
clear that the evenly matched pair were both pushing
and shoving before one got a mouthful of spines and
proceeded to drag, shake, pull and push the other in
and out of shrubs, under the low Spruce and all over
the slate border.
I was worried they would kill each other and got my
'big hands' in an attempt to break them up, they did
not appear to even notice me. It went on and on with
me shining a torch to try and put them off but I could
see that even when one let go the other did not run
away and I could see no blood or injury so eventually
went in to get my little camera to grab these pics.
fight did break up with them scuttling off in
different directions but just because they were
exhausted, they took no notice of me taking flash
pictures at all. We have seen up to six Hedgehogs in
the garden visiting our small feeder tray and the two
medium ones are none the worse for the scuffle. They
seem to tolerate each other at the moment. The very
large mum or dad does not bully the smaller or medium
ones so life is peaceful again. I can see where some
of them have daytime nests and am minimising
disturbance whist sorting the paths but they have not
been put off. They clean up under our bird feeders and
visit our neighbours for different food nightly,
sometimes using the holes in the wall we left for them
to use years ago. I am in the process of writing an
essay on Why I love my garden so will definitely
include this episode. So lucky."
Well, well. What a
story that makes. But what was going on? A bit of
internet research revealed that although Hedgehogs
generally are peaceful animals, they do occasionally
'fight', though this is never serious as they dont
have sufficient weaponry in the way of teeth to cause
physical damage. Most commonly fights occurs between
males in the mating season. There are several videos
on YouTube showing scuffles rather than full blown
fights. Maybe Romney's Hedgehogs were two adolescents
testing out their masculine strengths. Does anyone
else have any explanation?
JULY 24 - 2017
I had a stroll
through the meadow this afternoon. The ground remains
dry despite the rain we had had over the past couple
of days. Here are a few observations.
Water Mint -
first flowering of the year on the centre meadow. This
is a bit earlier than usual, as it is usually into
August before I see the first flowers. I love the
aroma of this plant as I walk through the long
Spider - I
watched this spider weaving its orb web for several
minutes, taking photos as it happened. It did not look
right for a regular Garden Spider (Araneus
diadematus), with lighter colouring and no
obvious cross. I would appreciate some help.
- A spider type of creature with very long legs (aka
'Daddy Longlegs'). They have eight legs like spiders,
but do not spin webs and don't have venom. They also
have a single body with the thorax and abdomen fused.
I spotted this chap scuttling through the long
grasses. It hardly stopped for a moment.
Here are three of the
butterflies I saw on the meadow - Gatekeeper ,
Common Blue and Ringlet, plus a
Meadow Grasshopper which stopped long enough
for me to snap it. The Gatekeeper had wings closed
showing the white spots which are almost translucent,
more like holes than spots.
I sent Bryan
Pinchen photos of three insects that I saw feeding on
Creeping Thistles on Brook Meadow yesterday. Here is
The first one is in the genus
Chrysotoxum, but without seeing it from
above and getting a better look at the abdominal
markings Bryan can't put a species name to it,
although it's probably C. cautum.
Ralph Hollins suggested Chrysotoxum verralli
for this fly and referred me to a page of
photos at . . . https://www.flickr.com/photos/63075200@N07/sets/72157629675450723/
Bryan says the second
insect, is the hoverfly Volucella
zonaria (aka the Hornet mimic), it has more
dark yellowish suffusion on the wings than V.
inanis, and has an overall broader more
The third (which I
actually got right!) is the Conopid fly
Physocephala rufipes, they parasitise
solitary and social bees and wasps, this is one of the
more widespread and common of the species.
JULY 23 - 2017
I had a walk
around the meadow late this morning before the rain
set in. The meadow was remarkably dry despite
yesterday's heavy rain. I was OK walking with normal
Bristly Ox-tongue seems to have had a very good
year. It is particularly abundant on the north meadow
where it is the dominant species.
leaves are now huge in the area below the seat.
Well loved by kids as 'green' umbrellas.
I had a close look at
the two experimental cutting areas on the north meadow
where there are now a good number of flowers on show.
I will suggest to the conservation group that this
experimental cutting strategy could be repeated in
other parts of the meadow to uncover seed banks which
otherwise might never get the opportunity to grow into
flowers in competition with the tall coarse grasses.
There were also lots of Meadow Grasshoppers jumping
around in the short grass and Bumblebees on the
flowers indicating a good wildlife habitat. Of the two
areas the southern is the best so I decided to do a
count of the more obvious species I could find in this
area. The total was 23, nothing special, but good to
find. I will continue to monitor.
I spotted three
unusual insects feeding on Creeping Thistles near the
Lumley area. I will check them out with Bryan Pinchen.
See tomorrow's blog for Bryan's verdict.
JULY 21 - 2017
has cleared up the mystery of the white Creeping
Thistles (Cirsium arvense) on the
wayside on the north side of Emsworth Recreation
Ground near the fence. These plants with pure white
foliage, which are mixed in with perfectly normal
plants with green foliage, have puzzled me for several
years. In fact, I saw them again only yesterday, but
did not bother to get a photo. Here is a photo taken
earlier this month (10 July).
John says the lack of
colour in the plants is caused by a bacterium called
Pseudomonas syringae pv. tagetis - a
fairly new infection, first recorded in Kent in 2003.
I gather Creeping Thistles can also be affected by a
rust disease called Puccinia
punctiformis which causes the plants to go
spindly and a pale green in colour, but not white.
I assume the Creeping Thistles with pure white
flowers, but otherwise normal, are not affected in
this way. Maybe these just old flowers going over?
This photo was taken on the east bank of Slipper
Millpond. There are also lots on the wayside north of
Emsworth Railway Station.
John says that these white flowers are just a genetic
variation in the same way that one can find white
flowered Bluebell and Self Heal. Nice find
JULY 20 - 2017
completely forgotten about the regular 3rd Thursday in
the month workday on Brook Meadow, so I was naturally
quite surprised to find some volunteers just
completing their morning tasks when I arrived at about
11.30am. As there were only 5 volunteers they
restricted the jobs to clearing and tidying up some of
the paths. I took a few photos before they finally
packed up at 12 noon.
I was pleased to hear
from Jennifer Rye that the group will be employing
Martin Cull to carry out an early annual cut of the
grassland once the payment situation with Norse gets
sorted. Cutting and clearing early will remove the
maximum nutritional value in the arisings and reduce
the amount of nutrients returning to the soil through
decomposition. Less accumulation of soil fertility
equals more flowering herbs and less grass.
While I was on
the meadow I saw three Green-veined White butterflies
on the main river bank, the first I have seen this
year on Brook Meadow. These will be the first
emergence of the summer brood which is more numerous
than the first brood in spring. The upper wing
markings are always heavier on second brood
The one on the left side photo looks like a male with
a single black spot in the middle of its forewing. Or
can I see a hint of two spots through the nearest
wing? The butterfly in the right side photo is showing
only its underwings, but it could be a female, which
has two spots on the upper wings.
The Green-veined White
caterpillars feed on Water-cress among other things,
which probably account for the presence of the adults
today near the river where there is an abundance of
Burdock is just coming into flower on the Seagull
Lane patch opposite the tool store.
The tall flower spikes of Purple Loosestrife
are now showing above the other vegetation in the
river just south of the north bridge.
I had a stroll
around some of the local waysides this afternoon,
starting inWashington Road. On reaching the end of the
path to Emsworth Recreation Ground I was dismayed to
find the magnificent Greater Burdock plants that were
just starting to flower when I visited last week, had
been mown out of existence. Gone, not a trace left
apart from strimmed chippings on the ground. I hope
there is a good seed bank in the soil to allow the
plants to regenerate.
I cheered up
considerably when I spotted several other Burdocks on
the pony field over the wire fence. I slipped through
a gap in the gate to check them out. From the
flat-topped arrangement of the flowers they are almost
certainly Greater Burdocks as Lesser Burdocks have
their flowers in a spike-like clusters. This field
which used to be used for grazing is abandoned and is
largely covered in Common Ragwort. Lets hope it stays
like this. Grid Ref: SU 74601 06478
I had this nice
verge at the northern end of Christopher Way where the
Wild Clary grows has not been cut. Most of the Wild
Clary has now set seed, though I did find some fresh
late flowering spikes. I collected some of the seed
for use elsewhere.
JULY 19 - 2017
Black-backed Gulls nesting records
A pair of
Great Black-backed Gulls have nested on one of the
rafts on Slipper Millpond, Emsworth, for the past 6
years - 2012 to 2017. As far as I am aware this is
unique for this area. Here is a summary of the nesting
Year 2012 - A
pair of Great Black-backed Gulls nested for the first
time ever in Emsworth, on the centre raft on Slipper
Millpond in 2012 producing two youngsters.
Year 2013 -
They nested again on the centre raft in 2013 producing
Year 2014 - In
December 2013 the Slipper Millpond Association decided
to deter the gulls from nesting due to their predation
of other avian inhabitants on the pond, notably Coot.
To achieve this the three rafts on the pond were
covered with wires, but this did not put the birds off
and they nested again successfully in 2014 rearing one
Year 2015 -
They were back again in 2015 and nested successfully
on the centre raft hatching three chicks, but all
three were drowned when they fell from the raft, much
to the distress of the parents! So, this year's
nesting was unsuccessful.
Year 2016 - The
two gulls returned again to the pond in the spring of
2016. They nested on the centre raft again and
produced three chicks of which two youngsters
survived. One mature juvenile was seen dead on the
raft in July, from unknown cause.
Year 2017 -
They were back again in 2017, but, very surprisingly,
were ousted from their usual central nesting raft by a
pair of Canada Geese which nested there temselves and
produced a brood of 5 goslings. The gulls settled down
on the smaller south raft and hatched three chicks of
which two survived and fledged by early
For more details about
the nesting plus lots of photos go to the specially
dedicated web page on this web site at . . .
Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond
French shared some of her recent wildlife news and
photos with us.
She writes, "The Cockchafer Beetle was on a
dead rose head in our garden on 19th May. It was the
first I've seen, although they are apparently quite
common having recovered from over-use of pesticides in
the mid 20th century (Buglife website).
The Brown Hare was one of six in a weedy
stubble field near Stansted. They are clearly finding
plenty to eat here.
The male Bullfinch
and male Yellowhammer were on farmland at
Ramsdean, near Butser Hill.
Gull is the latest addition to our garden
avifauna! This is the first year I have heard Herring
Gulls in north Emsworth. This one is immature but
there have been two around all summer and I wouldn't
be surprised if they breed nearby next year if they
can find somewhere suitable."
I too have noticed
many more gulls flying around the gardens in my area
in South Emsworth this year. Black-headed Gulls often
swoop down to snatch any bread I throw out, but I have
not had a Herring Gull.
JULY 18 - 2017
was in Stansted Forest today and got what for me is a
unique photo of a pair of Silver-washed
Fritillaries mating. I think the butterfly on the
right of Brian's photo with the broader dark scent
lines is the male. What a photo! Brian also got a more
mundane White Admiral at Stansted.
was on Brook Meadow yesterday and got a photo of a
female Common Darter - an increasingly common
dragonfly on the meadow. He also managed to snap one
of the Meadow Grasshoppers in between hops.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon (1:53pm to 2:35pm - low tide). The highlight
was the first returning Greenshank to this
stretch of the shore (an un-ringed bird).
"Loafing on the mud by the pub were 33 adult Med
Gulls with one fresh juvenile and on the island
out in the channel were a further 16 adult Med Gulls.
Definitely feels like autumn! Amongst them were 5
On the pond were 2 female Tufted Duck (Have not seen
any evidence of breeding this year) and surprise,
surprise, an early returning Little Grebe. I counted
36 Little Egrets still loitering with intent with
saw a single Black Swan with a group of 11 Mute Swans
this morning, in the channel between Emsworth and Nore
Barn woods. She wonders where it has come from. Who
knows? There are quite a few of them around the local
area. We had a group of 6 in Emsworth Harbour from Jan
27 until Mar 11 earlier this year.
I posted the
photo of the mystery flower that I found on Brook
Meadow yesterday onto Facebook where I got the answer
I was expecting - Hedge Mustard
(Sysimbrium officinale). I have never
seen one that small before, but all plants must grow!
breed at Farlington
News that at
least one pair of Avocets have, for the very first
time, nested and hatched young on the Farlington
Marshes reserve was revealed on the Solent Reserves
blog posted on July 12. Four pairs attempted to breed
at but most of the eggs and young were taken by Crows
and Buzzards. The photo on the blog shows at least
See . . . https://solentreserves.wordpress.com/
earlier observations go to . . . July