. . .
APRIL 25 - 2013
Two Whitethroats were
singing on Brook Meadow this afternoon, one from the
brambles in the north west corner and the other from
the brambles north of the causeway. I have heard both
these birds several times and it looks as if they have
settled for the breeding season. However, we are still
short on Blackcaps with only one heard singing today.
The female Mute Swan
was sitting on its nest on the island on Peter Pond
this afternoon. It was the first time I have seen the
bird actually sitting, though the nest has been there
for a few days. The bird stood up while I was there
and I could see no eggs in the nest. However, this is
a promising development. maybe I have underestimated
this pair of swans.
I could see six tiny
Coot chicks on the north raft on Slipper Millpond
being attended to by their parents. They are clearly
very young and need to be aware of the threat from the
Great Black-backed Gulls on the centre raft. I could
not see any chicks on the south raft.
The two gulls were on
the centre raft on Slipper Millpond. While I was there
they mated for about 2 minutes allowing me to get a
photo. This is the second time I have seen them mating
this season. There is a definite nest on the south
section of the raft.
I was alerted to the
presence of two Mediterranean Gulls on Slipper
Millpond by their mewing type calls.
Brendan Gibb-Gray drew
my attention to a Mallard that has been nesting in the
corner of his small garden overlooking Slipper
Millpond for about 2 weeks. It was probably the same
bird that nested in the same spot last year. Brendan
has counted 14 eggs though one is broken. It will be
interesting to see how many ducklings survive. Last
year she had 13 ducklings in her first brood which
were lost. I recall she came back to the nest for a
second brood, but I can't remember what happened to
APRIL 24 - 2013
The gulls are now
sitting on a nest on the centre raft on Slipper
Millpond. This is the first time I have seen one
actually sitting on a nest of twigs. Interestingly, it
is almost precisely the same date that I first saw one
on the nest last year (Apr 27).
all the news on the Great Black-backed Gulls go to the
special page at . . . Great
Black-backed Gull nesting
The Peter Pond Mute
Swan pair have made a start at nest building on the
island, but it looks a rough and ready effort, so we
shall have to see how things develop.
Jennifer Rye drew my
attention to a makeshift Mute Swan nest of twigs and
plastic rubbish at the northern end of the town
millpond, just above the line of high water, with two
large neglected eggs. The mother was nowhere to be
seen. Swans have tried to construct nests on the
millpond in previous years using whatever material is
available, but never with any success.
Tony Wootton went down
to the NRA track on North Thorney again this morning
very early. He was keen to see what the birds did in
the mist - a little quieter and less active. He saw 1
Cuckoo, Whitethroats, Cetti's Warblers and heard what
could have been a Reed Warbler.
is Tony's new Cetti's Warbler with its tail up!
Kirsteen Titchener was
in Stansted and captured this fine image of a male
Mandarin Duck which she wished to share with us. She
says, "After all there is little point taking the
pictures if people don't see them". Quite right too!
Maybe, that is the hole in the tree where the female
is on a nest?
Derek James counted 10
Mallard ducklings with their proud parents on the pond
at Budds Farm from the viewing area overlooking the
Bedhampton treatment works. There were also several
Whitethroats and a male Blackcap around the car park
discovered a pair of Mute Swans with a well
constructed nest on Hilsea Lines in Portsmouth and got
this nice image of them with her new Nikon camera.
Peter Hughes reports
that the number of Nightingales on the Pulborough
Brooks RSPB Reserve is now 8 or 9 singing and showing
well. Pete says one was singing in full view by the
edge of the car park at 08.30 this morning, just in
case you haven't got time to go far. Any up dates from
Bob Chapman reports
three Little Terns were in high chasing flights over
the RSPB islands in Langstone Harbour today - the
APRIL 23 - 2013
I heard three
Whitethroat singing on Brook Meadow this morning, but
none of them was showing well enough for a photo. One
was singing from the large bramble patch in the north
west corner of the meadow; I first heard this one on
April 17. Another was singing from the east side of
the north meadow, behind the Rowan plantation. The
third was singing from the southern edge of Lumley
copse; this is probably the same one that I heard from
the causeway a couple of days ago. These three
Whitethroat will probably be our breeding birds for
the summer, if they stay.
I heard a couple of
Chiffchaffs singing, but strangely not a single
The fertile cones of
Field Horsetail are now showing on the orchid area in
the north meadow. This is about 3 weeks later than
Field Horsetail is the
most common horsetail on Brook Meadow. Marsh Horsetail
is quite rare and hard to find. My last sighting was
on 25-Oct-11 in Lumley copse. Both Field and Marsh
Horsetail are distinctive in producing non-green
unbranched fertile cone-bearing stems in spring; in
summer they produce green, usually branched, sterile
stems without cones, but with vertical ridges.
I recall a tip from
the late Pete Selby about distinguishing Field
Horsetail and Marsh Horsetail. Pull and twist the
stem; there is a central core in Field Horsetail but
not in Marsh. Also, Field Horsetail has 8-12 ridges
whereas Marsh has less than 8. Pete was the BSBI
Recorder for South Hants before Martin Rand and
visited Brook Meadow a couple of times before his
The large Ash
tree on the railway embankment is now in flower
with reddish blossom prominent at the end of the
twigs. No sign of any Ash dieback here.
The Environment Agency
chaps were putting the final top layer of brickwork on
the retaining wall for the river in the north-east
corner of the meadow.
Mike Wells spent about
one and a half hours at the Meadow this afternoon and
got a good selection of bird photos a couple of which
I include here.
is Mike's cracking Dunnock. What an eye that bird has!
here is Mike's Kestrel in flight over the meadow. What
a beauty of a tail!
Black-backed Gulls were on Slipper Millpond near
the centre raft, but not nesting as yet.
Shoals of Grey
Mullett were swimming in the shallow water of
Slipper Millpond near to the Hermitage Bridge.
Cuckooflowers are at last starting to open on
the Bridge Road Wayside. I counted about 300 flowering
spikes this morning, though I suspect there are lots
more to come. But, shall be exceed the 750 I counted
last year, though 3 weeks earlier.
Tony Wootton had a
good morning around North Thorney. He saw two
Cuckoos flying togethe and managed to get a photo
of them together on the overhead cable.
He also saw (yes saw)
a Cetti's Warbler and got a nice shot of one
singing away. No wonder that bird has a loud song with
a beak like that!
Other birds seen
included Whitethroat, Swallows, House Martin,
Greenfinch, several calling, Dunnock, Wren, Blackcap
and a Sedge Warbler on the path to the Little Deeps.
I went to North
Thorney this afternoon and (typically) neither heard
nor saw any Cuckoos! There were several Chiffchaffs
and Whitethroats singing, but strangely not a single
Blackcap. I seem to miss out on them; I also failed to
get one this morning on Brook Meadow. I was hoping for
Lesser Whitethroat but no sign it. I walked down to
Little Deeps but the reedbeds were silent! No Reed
Warbler or Sedge Warbler.
I walked back through
the old Marina Farm which was not a pleasant
experience. Although there were metal kissing gates at
either end of the path, the mud was ankle deep to the
west of the stables which were boarded up. However,
Swallows were flying around which presumably means
they are back nesting in the stables as usual.
I saw two Peacock
butterflies flying. Common Whitlowgrass was flowering
on the NRA track.
I met Barry and
Margaret Collins back at the car park area on Thornham
Lane. Barry had only had one Lesser Whitethroat, Reed
Warbler and one Sedge Warbler and thought they were
very late arriving.
Barry told me the
astonishing news that he no longer works for the
Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Officially, he has
'retired' though that is not the way Barry sees it. I
do not wish to take sides, but frankly, from what
Barry told me, he has been shabbily treated by the
Conservancy after 25 years of very dedicated service
as Conservancy Warden for Thorney Island. Thorney
Island is Barry Collins, simple as that. You can't get
rid of a legend just like that!
Here is a link to the
official announcement of Barry's retirement . . .
Tom Bickerton writes
that the two male Mandarin Ducks snapped by Caroline
French in Stansted Forest yesterday will have done the
business by now, their limited parental job done. They
were probably taking in the spring rays as the females
must surely be sitting on eggs. Stansted is a much
under recorded wood, here's hoping we get a mini
colony going. Caroline e-mailed Head Forester of
Stansted Michael Prior and he confirmed that he does
have breeding records from the estate.
Warbler in Hollybank
Ralph Hollins is
almost certain he had a Garden Warbler singing unseen
from the scrub own the west side of the Holly Lodge
garden in Hollybank Woods on Mon 22 April. Peter
Milinets-Raby had two Garden Warblers in Leigh Park by
the Hermitage Stream and another has been seen by the
Lower Test Marshes (first was at Portland on Apr
reports on another walk along the Warblington shore
yesterday from 6.35am to 9am. The birds of note were
Ibis field -
Warblington Farm :
2 Willow Warbler moving along the stream
Pair of Chiffchaff nest building
2 Blackcaps moving along the stream - male and
Curlew still present!? - probably will summer
Singing Cuckoo for five minutes, then not seen or
2 Yellow Wagtails
2 Med Gulls over
4 Stock Doves
Greenshank (RW on left, BtagY on right)
Common Tern on distant buoy
7 Red Breasted Merganser
Great Crested Grebe
Reed Bunting singing in reed bed
1 Grey Plover
Whitethroat singing in tall trees by lane
Greenshank (RG on left, YY on right)
56 Bar-tailed Godwit
135 Black-tailed Godwit
Very surprised to find the female Pied Flycatcher
still present at the back of the horse paddock - gave
good scope views for ten mins before vanishing
1 female Teal on paddock flood
Pair of Gadwall on flood, though flew off to the
stream - probably will breed here?
Reed Warbler heard
Sedge Warbler heard
5 Moorhen in paddock
53 Little Egrets - Lots more activity this morning
with many birds clearly paired up. Hard to say yet how
many are nesting.
4 Grey Herons
Sandwich Tern off shore
was out with the little one this morning walking along
the Hermitage Stream between Barncroft Road and
Purbrook Way. and made the following observations:
2 Garden Warblers
3+ (male, 2 females) Blackcap - plus additional 2
3+ Chiffchaff - plus additional 2 singing
3+ Willow Warbler - plus one additionally singing
Red Kite flew over heading north at 10:40am being
chased by Herring Gulls
3 Buzzards also very high drifting north.
2 Little Egrets.
APRIL 22 - 2013
Jane Brook and I
continued our regular Monday morning surveys of the
Emsworth waysides. The weather was fine and fairly
warm. We covered three of the waysides.
Jane and I removed the
bramble spurs that were threatening to engulf the
American Hawthorn (Broad-leaved Cockspur Thorn) at the
northern edge of the open space. This tree had no
leaves, but the native Hawthorn growing next to it was
in full leaf.
We discovered a good
growth of Common Whitlowgrass, with its
distinctive flattened pods, growing along the edge of
the cycle way to the east of the wayside. Meadow
Foxtail grass was generally in flower (ie showing
spikelets) on the wayside. As for insects we saw
several bees buzzing around including a Bee-fly
(Bombylius major) with its long proboscis showing
well. We also saw a Comma butterfly.
There was an abundant
growth of Cow Parsley along the path to Bellevue Lane,
some of its starting to open. The first Dove's-foot
Cranesbill was flowering on the edge of the grass
verge. We found Early Dog-violet in flower on
the edge of the path to Bellevue Lane near the wall.
The large bushes of
Cherry Laurel were in blossom on the northern
edge of the recreation ground; they were not out in
Hollybank Woods yesterday. There was a good display of
Field Wood-rush on the main grassland.
Blackthorn is encroaching on the grassland and needs
to be controlled.
reported that on Sunday morning, about 09.30. in the
north meadow, a Whitethroat busy in the
standing dead grasses near the steps up to the north
bridge. Today, at 09.15 he saw a Blackcap calling
tzik, tzik from a number branches 4 to 7 metres up
around Lumley Pool. The Great Tits were also very busy
establishing territory along the north path beside the
river and railway line.
walked along the Warblington shore to the Langstone
Mill Pond and back yesterday morning 6:40am to 9am
(Apr 21). Virtually no wildfowl present!
Lone Brent Goose,
3 Greenshank - very flighty and left east very
2 Grey Plovers,
3 Red Breasted Merganser,
Greenshank (coloured rings - RG on left, YY on
3 Med Gulls feeding with 30 Black-headed Gulls in
field next to cemetery,
Reed Bunting at Langstone by Peter Milinets-Raby
83 Black-tailed Godwits (90% in summer plumage),
53 Bar-tailed Godwits (Just one in partial summer, the
rest in winter plumage),
3 Teal and
3 Moorhens in the Horse paddock by the pond (very
little water left),
Green Woodpecker feeding in paddock,
Pied Flycatcher (female) at back of paddock for five
seconds then vanished!!!! - a real shame.
Reed Bunting male - calls constantly, PHOTO
2 Swallows over pond,
Reed Warbler heard singing from reed bed,
43 Little Egrets hanging about in the trees - at least
20 of them had rosy red feet typical of
breeding/display - lots of nesting activity
(re-arranging sticks, displaying - guttural calls etc.
(Good to see them back!!),
4 Grey Herons nest building as well.
Caroline and Ray
French went for a walk in Stansted Forest yesterday
and were surprised to come across two male Mandarin
Ducks in a tree near The Avenue. They look as if they
are waiting for a female to arrive.
Tom Bickerton saw a
male-female pair of Mandarin Ducks in Stansted in the
spring of 2011 during a Bird Atlas survey. Are
Mandarin Ducks resident in the forest?
Caroline French was
also pleased to report that a male Hedgehog
successfully hibernated in a purpose-built hedgehog
box in her garden and has now been active for about a
week. She thought there was a second hedgehog
hibernating in another box but it hasn't emerged yet.
Other possibilities are that it was never there, or
that it has not survived the winter. Caroline says she
will investigate but not yet in case it is still
Heron on roof
Patrick Murphy got a
photo of this Grey Heron perched on neighbour's roof
with a fine view of all the surrounding gardens.
Patrick said it had been down in his garden having a
look at the netted pond, but did not get very far.
APRIL 21 - 2013
I led a most enjoyable
'Spring Walk' for the Friends of Hollybank Woods on
this bright and sunny morning. It was attended by
around 22 people which is probably a record for the
spring walk. We all assembled at the top of Hollybank
Lane at 10am where John Bond gave a short introduction
to the woods and the conservation group.
We walked up the main
path and stopped at the large area of clearance to the
west of the track where Andy Brook explained the
coppicing that the conservation group were
We continued into the
Holly Lodge clearing where the group enjoyed the
warmth of the sunshine, but we were still waiting for
butterflies to emerge.
From there we
proceeded across the large jubilee area where we
admired the new shoots of the wild native
of the Valley
pushing up inside (and outside) the wooden fence
protecting this rare plant.
We took the small path
to the east which took us through an area of dense
Holly bushes. I pointed out the dark marks on some of
the leaves produced by the
Leaf Miner insect.
We made our way
towards the northern Bluebell area where we
managed to find a few flowers open, but most were not
showing. It will be another couple of weeks before we
get a good show. The same applied to the Bluebells in
the southern area.
We stopped at my
favourite (Lorton) seat on the eastern bridleway which
was becoming unstable due to the digging of badgers
beneath it. Andy Brook promised to try to stabilize
this popular seat for the use of walkers. It is my
favourite and perfect for watching White Admiral and
Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies in the summer.
thanks to Chris Bond for this photo of us inspecting
the hole beneath the Lorton seat.
The first bird we
heard near the southern entrance was the loud
whistling call of a Nuthatch from neighbouring
Bond captured this image of two Nuthatches on the
branch of a tree
Walking up the main
path we heard both Chiffchaff and Blackcap
singing; another 2 or 3 of these migrant birds
were heard during the walk, but generally they were
far less common than they usually are at this time of
the year. Most of the resident woodland birds were
heard and sometimes seen including Robin, Wren, Song
Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit,
Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker. A pair
of Buzzards were constantly overhead in the sky
giving their mewing calls.
Bond got this shot of one of the Buzzards
All three common
woodland butterflies were seen during the walk,
Brimstone, Comma and Peacock.
is the male Brimstone shining brightly in the
here is the Comma
Towards the end of the
walk we saw a Bumblebee
feeding on a
Dandelion flower. This was probably a queen
Bombus hypnorum feeding on nectar in
preparation for nesting. This a distinctive ginger
species with a darkened abdomen and a white tail (not
shown on this photo).
On Brook Meadow,
Cow Parsley is opening up on the north path and
the first spikes of Meadow Foxtail are out,
both a good two weeks later than usual.
Foxtail spikelets now out on Brook Meadow
The leaves of
Sharp-flowered Rush are pushing up through the dead
grasses on the Lumley area, but there is no sign of
Divided Sedge as yet. The spikes of this valuable
sedge are usually visible by now.
Cuckooflowers of the year are now open on the
Bridge Road Wayside, with a lot more to come. It is
about 3 weeks later than usual. I counted 750
flowering Cuckooflower spikes at this time last year!
Slender Speedwell is also flowering as is Meadow
first Cuckooflowers I have seen anywhere this year on
the Bridge Road Wayside
Ron Salmon was
delighted to get a pair of Bullfinches on his garden
feeder today. That must be fairly unusual?
reports on the latest news from his home in Findhorn,
Northern Scotland with photos of Ptarmigan, Grey Heron
with Sea Trout and Crested Tit . Go to . . .
APRIL 20 - 2013
Milinets-Raby's sightings of Blackcaps, Whitethroat
and Willow Warbler on Brook Meadow yesterday, I made
an early morning visit to the meadow. The weather was
fine, but chilly.
I heard three
Blackcaps singing, one from a willow on the north
path, one from the west bank north of Palmer's Road
Copse and the other from the south meadow. It is good
to know they have arrived at last about 3 weeks later
than normal. I also heard a Whitethroat song from the
brambles in the north west corner where Peter heard
one yesterday. There were also at least 3
Chiffchaffs singing, but no sign of the Willow
confirmed that the Willow Warbler he saw yesterday was
not singing, but he is fairly sure of the
identification from the bird's long primary projection
as shown in his photo, which would be shorter in a
Chiffchaff. Peter also sent another photo showing a
much stronger supercilium than in yesterday's photo,
confirming its identification beyond reasonable doubt.
He added there have been lots of Willow Warblers
passing through this spring - probably due to the cold
weather holding them up.
photo of the Willow Warbler on Brook Meadow (April 19)
showing a strong supercilium
Clusters of red
(male?) flowers are now emerging on the Ash trees. Ash
is dioecious, ie generally having sexes on different
trees, though some apparently have both while others
can change sex during the season!
This morning's walk by
the Havant Wildlife Group took place at Warsash. They
had two exciting finds. Two Little Gulls with
slightly different in appearance, possibly 1st summer
plumage were off the Hook shore.
Wootton caught this image of one of the birds dipping
in its typical tern-like fashion.
a Little Owl was found by Caroline, after the
group spent much time searching all the oaks.
They also spotted a
colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit on the Hook
shoreline WA9+OW which I passed onto Pete Potts. Pete
was very pleased with the photo - the first they have
had of one of their engraved ringed birds. Pete sent
the history of WA9 which was ringed as a juv female on
07-Oct-02 at Farlington Marshes. It has often been
seen in Kent and at Hook.
Today, one Great
Black-backed Gull was sitting on the centre raft of
Slipper Millpond but not on a nest. The Mute Swan pair
were on Peter Pond, but no sign of any nesting
Mike Wells popped down
to Baffins hoping to photograph Eric Eddles's
Gadwalls, but all he managed were sun-bathing
Terrapins on the main island. There was at
least four of them! I recall seeing Terrapins on the
island in the 1990s - How long do they live?
APRIL 19 - 2013
This morning from 10am
to 12 noon I did a recce for my annual 'Spring Walk'
in Hollybank Woods on Sunday. I walked the western and
eastern sections mainly to decide on a route that
would avoid the worst of the muddy paths. I was
surprised at how badly churned up many of the popular
With the poor spring
the migrant birds have been slow to arrive. I heard
just two Blackcaps singing on the Holly Lodge
clearing and four Chiffchaffs in other areas,
which is far less than I usually have for this walk.
Most of the resident woodland birds were heard
including Robin, Wren, Song Thrush, Blackbird,
Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Great Spotted
Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Carrion Crow,
Buzzard, Stock Dove,
Spring flowers are
about two weeks behind schedule this year so I was not
expecting to see much. I checked out both the main
Bluebell areas in the eastern section, but only
found a few flowers open. This is the best I could do.
Anemones were scarce, but with fully open flowers.
The Wild Cherry tree near the southern Bluebell
area had buds about to burst, but no blossom that I
could see. On the track to the southern entrance the
Cherry Laurel is yet to open and there are no flowers
as yet on the garden Yellow Archangel. Field Wood-rush
is flowering on the Holly Lodge clearing, along with
the planted Cowslips, Primroses and Daffodils.
However, there were some fine growths of mosses on
tree stumps and wet ground, many with capsules, like
this one - not identified.
I saw lots of big fat
Bumblebees, presumably queens looking for
suitable nesting sites. I did not see a single
Some Holly leaves had
irregular marking on the upper side of the leaf. I
took a couple home for closer inspection, where I
discovered that the brown marks were a thin skin over
the main body of the leaf.
Removing the skin
revealed a cavity in which was an oval pupa. Looking
this up on the internet I found out this was called a
Holly Leaf Miner. Similar to the more familiar Horse
Chestnut leaf miner, this grub makes a tunnel inside
Holly leaf-miner flies
(belonging to the family Agromyzidae) lay their eggs
on holly leaves in June and July. After the eggs hatch
out, the grubs eat the leaf from the inside from
autumn to the following spring. In March the grub
turns into a pupa, which is the stage I found this one
at. In May the adult fly crawls out of the leaf and
flies away. For more information see . . .
visited Brook Meadow this morning between 10am and
1pm. He had his eleven month old son with him in his
pram, which was a bit awkward in places, but they
managed. In fact, Peter managed remarkably well in
assembling a good list of bird observations, some of
which were special for Brook Meadow. The best
4 singing Chiffchaff - the most so far this
1 Willow Warbler - the first since April
3 sightings of male Blackcaps, two singing -
the first Blackcap songsters of the year,
a singing Whitethroat in brambles near railway
line - the same bird I heard there on Apr 17,
two Stock Doves - which could be breeding,
2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers displaying and
mating by railway line - confirmation of breeding,
2 Long-tailed Tits carrying nesting material by
railway line - confirmation of breeding,
1 Sedge Warbler singing in scrub by Gooseberry
Cottage - the first of the year on Peter Pond.
Here is Peter's image
of the Willow Warbler - the supercilium seems a bit
faint, but the lengthy projection of the wings would
suggest Willow Warbler rather than Chiffchaff.
Eric Eddles had a nice
surprise this afternoon when a pair of Gadwall
appeared on Baffins Pond. I think they could be firsts
for the pond. Here is the male.
Terry Lifton had her
first Comma of the year in her Westbourne
APRIL 18 - 2013
I went over to the
meadow at 10am this morning mainly to take photos of
the conservation work session. The main tasks involved
rebuilding the dead wood fence on the river path south
of the S-bend to prevent access to the river, clearing
brambles from the north meadow and litter picking.
There was no sound of
the Whitethroat, which I heard briefly in the north
west corner of the meadow yesterday. Tony Wootton was
down on the meadow earlier at 9am and also heard
nothing. My guess is that this was a bird passing
through on its way further north. It was certainly
very early. I have noticed in previous years that
early Whitethroats do tend to appear and disappear
I saw two
Peacock butterflies flying on the meadow this
As there had clearly
been an big increase in Butterbur flower spikes since
my early count on April 7th, I decided to do a second
count this morning. The total came to an astonishing
1,150 spikes in the four main areas of growth, which
easily beats the previous highest count of 859 in
A breakdown of the
results by area was as follows:
1. embankment on west
side of centre meadow = 780
2. River banks around the sluice gate = 110
3. West side of south meadow = 146
4. East end of causeway = 164
Numbers were up in all
four areas on last year, but the big area of expansion
was on the embankment and grassland on west side of
centre meadow below the seat where the count climbed
from 330 last year to 780 this year. In contrast,
Butterbur on the river bank by the sluice gate has
fallen from a peak of 248 in 2011 to 110 this year.
showing some of the Butterbur flower spikes on the
embankment near the seat
The bushes at the
eastern end of the Lillywhite's path wayside, which I
have been calling Sea Buckthorn, are in fact clearly
Blackthorn. The flowers of Sea Buckthorn are small and
green and are quite different from the white blossom
of the Hawthorn. Male and female flowers also grow on
separate plants. The only wayside with Sea Buckthorn
that I am aware of is the Beacon Square allotments
path. I checked the Sea Buckthorn in the south eastern
corner of Slipper Millpond, which is certainly quite
different from the Blackthorn on the Lillywhite's
path. Closer examination revealed spent male flowers
with the remains of 4 stigmas and pollen, along with
emerging green leaves. The flowers themselves
resembled oyster shells with attractive brown spots.
close-up of male flowers on the Sea Buckthorn with
Maurice Lillie saw one
of the swans on top of the Peter Pond island early
this morning seemingly collecting twigs together for a
nest. However, when I checked later just after 10am
both swans were on Slipper Millpond and there was no
sign of any serious nest building on the island. But
it is still early days and they might surprise us.
There was no sign of
the Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond.
Tony Wootton spotted
the Cuckoo at about 2.15 on the south side of the NRA
track, half way between the overhead cables and the
metal gate leading to the harbour. It flew off to the
north; it called, but Tony got this nice shot of it
before it left.
was on Portsdown Hill yesterday (twice - 9am and
12:30pm). He said, "The Peregrines were very vocal and
spent a lot of their time chasing a pair of Carrion
Crows that were trying to build a nest on the next arm
down from the Raven's nest. The Raven's nest was
clearly empty with no activity or Raven's present.
There are three possibilities for this:
1. The aggressive
Peregrines have chased them off
2, The eggs failed in the cold weather
3. The eggs were taken?
And 4. There always is a fourth: They have fledged??
Too quick by my calculation as I last saw them on 3rd
April and there was no activity in the
Whilst on the hill I
had a Hobby fly over, up to 5 Brimstone Butterflies
seen and several Peacocks. One singing Chiffchaff and
not much else!"
APRIL 17 - 2013
The Environment Agency
chaps have almost completed the rebuilding of the
retaining wall for the river in the north-east corner
of the meadow, though the final layer of bricks will
be done tomorrow.
I met Mike Wells
sporting a new long lensed camera. As we were talking
a Buzzard flew overhead pursued by two Carrion Crows,
though we were pleased to see the Buzzard fighting
back at one stage. However, the Buzzard finally
relented and flew off towards the Lumley Mill Farm
I heard the
distinctive scratchy song of a Whitethroat coming from
the large patch of brambles in the north west corner
of the meadow. This was the first Whitethroat of the
year on Brook Meadow for 2013. It was also the
earliest on record, but for one on April 12th in 2011.
But, strangely I have yet to hear a Blackcap song on
Brook Meadow. They are late.
Cow Parsley is
flowering for the first time this year on Brook
Meadow. But there is still no sign of Ground-ivy.
Many more Butterbur
flower spikes have come up since I did my annual
count on April 7, so I shall need to do another
There are two pairs of
Coot nesting on Peter Pond, one on the floating
raft and the other in the reeds somewhere.
The two Great
Black-backed Gulls were on the pond, one on the
centre raft and the other shepherding a group of six
adult Herring Gulls.
I visited this morning
to check on the plants Ralph Hollins had told me
about. Namely, Spotted Medick, Meadow Buttercup,
Common Whitlowgrass and the large plant of Stinking
Hellebore inside the road fence at the west end of the
wayside. There was also a lot of Forget-me-not
flowering inside the fence with fairly large flowers
(c 10mm) which suggests a garden escape of Wood
Forget-me-not. I also found my first Cocksfoot flower
spike of the year. There was a line of Danish
Scurvygrass in flower along the edge of the main road
from the roundabout. These take the plant list for
2013 to 35 from a grand total for the site of 132.
captured this image of a Brimstone butterfly in
Hollybank Woods this morning. This was probably the
same one that was flying around the old Holly Lodge
clearing when I was there yesterday.
at Marlpit Lane
Barry Collins had a
Nightingale singing at Marlpit Lane today at 1325.
Last year was a particularly good one for Nightingales
in Marlpit Lane, when on May 13th I heard 5 songsters
for the BTO survey. Let's hope this one is similar.
Roy Hay got this fine
image of a Buzzard resting in the Willows on
Fishbourne Meadows today. The streaks on the bird's
breast suggests it might be a juvenile.
APRIL 16 - 2013
The Environment Agency
were preparing to rebuild the brick retaining wall for
the River Ems in the north-east corner of the meadow.
They had previously placed sandbags along the rim of
the wall which were all dumped in the river. So, they
are now going to do the job properly. The reason for
building up the wall is to prevent any flooding of the
meadow behind the Lumley Road cottages, though
personally I have never seen this happen in the 13
years I have been involved with Brook Meadow. However,
the new wall will tidy up the area which was getting a
I found a new plant on
the Bridge Road Wayside this morning, namely a nice
flowering of Lungwort behind the signcase. This
takes the plant list for this wayside to a total of
186. This was the second new find of Lungwort this
week, following the discovery of some flowering near
the causeway on Brook Meadow on Apr 14.
I looked hard, but
failed to find any Cuckooflowers. It is astonishing to
think I counted 750 flowering plants on this date last
year! The anthills are active again on the grass
The resident pair of
Mute Swans were on Peter Pond this morning with the
cob (with dark legs) snoozing on the bank near the
seat but with a wary eye open and the pen ('Polish'
variety with pink legs) on the water nearby. There is
still no obvious signs of any nest building.
A second pair of Mute
Swans (both with normal dark legs) was on Slipper
Millpond and I would not be surprised to see them
trying to nest among the reeds on the western side of
the pond close to the path. Mute Swans have often
tried nesting here in previous years without any real
I was not surprised to
hear from Maurice Lillie of fighting between the two
males, as the one from the Slipper Millpond pair
encroached onto Peter Pond and was vigorously resisted
by the resident male. John Tagg also witnessed the
fracas which he said was extremely violent and almost
spilled over onto the main road.
The pair of gulls were
on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond, but there is
no obvious sign of nesting as yet.
Tony Wootton spent a
couple of hours yesterday morning (April 15) on the
NRA path on North Thorney from 10 till 12ish. He saw
Swallows, House Martins, Chiffchaffs, Blackcap,
Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Greenfinch doing the
display flight, Sparrowhawk and a Wren. Tony also
heard the very loud Cetti's Warbler from the same
bushes that I heard it yesterday evening and managed
to get a photo which he says he has absolutely no
doubt it was the Cetti's.
I went over to check
Ashling Wood near West Stoke, which is by far the best
woodland locally for early Bluebells. There
were none out at all when I last checked on Mar 29 and
I was hoping for a good showing today. But, alas,
there were only a few flowers to be seen and this was
the best cluster I saw.
They are very late
coming; they were fully in flower on Mar 27 last year,
though that was exceptional. Plenty of Wood Anemone,
Dog's Mercury and Lesser Celandine. The Rookery near
the eastern entrance was noisy with 26 nests being
actively attended to.
I stopped at the
entrance to Bowhill House to check the uncommon Hairy
Wood-rush (Luzula pilosa) which grows well on the
grass embankment east of the drive to the house. Early
Dog-violet was also in flower on this embankment.
I stopped at Marlpit
Lane on the way home. I walked along the lane and
around the site to the east of the lane, but there was
no sound of any Nightingale. However, I was pleased to
hear my first 'cast iron' migrant Blackcap
singing splendidly in breeding habitat east from
bushes east of the lane north of the tip. How good it
was to hear this wonderful song again. Three
Buzzards were soaring overhead; they probably nest
in the forest plantation east of the lane. The only
flower of any interest was Ground-ivy (my first
of the year) which was out in some abundance and
I did a short recce
for my so-called 'Spring Walk' on Sunday, but it was
nothing like spring with hardly any bird song,
certainly no migrants, and very few flowers. I had to
search hard for Barren Strawberry on the Holly
Lodge clearing. Field Wood-rush (Luzula
campestris) was also out, which Ralph Hollins calls
'Good Friday Grass'.
Walking across the
cleared area to the north of the Holly Lodge clearing
I came across a Holly tree with numerous hard
knobs on the white bark of its trunk. They were
solid and my best guess is some sort of gall.
The best sightings
were three butterflies on the Holly Lodge
clearing. A male Brimstone was flying around, but did
not settle. A Comma shot past, going somewhere in a
hurry. But a Peacock posed just long enough on
a Daffodil flower for me to get my camera out.
My wife drew my
attention to this beautiful Slow-worm in our garden
this afternoon, with its fine bronzed body shining in
Although these legless
lizards are often mistaken for snakes, they differ in
a number of ways. 1. They have small eyes with eyelids
that blink like lizards'; this feature is not found in
snakes. 2. They may also have visible ears as do
lizards, which snakes do not have. 3. They shed their
skin in patches like other lizards, rather than the
whole skin as most snakes do. 4. Slow worms also shed
tails (autotomy) by breaking one of their tail
vertebrae in half, as a defence mechanism, as lizards
do. 5. Also, the pattern of their ventral scales is
totally different from that of snakes.
In the United Kingdom,
the slow worm has been granted protected status,
alongside all other native British reptile species.
The slow worm has been decreasing in numbers, and
under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is
illegal to intentionally kill, injure, sell or
advertise to sell them.
in the garden
Robin Pottinger has
plenty of activity in his Southbourne garden at
present the highlight being a visit from a pair of
Greenfinches on the feeders this morning for the
first time for some weeks. I too have seen some in my
garden in the past week, so let's hope they are making
a comeback. Other birds in Robin's garden include
Great Tits, Blue Tits, House Sparrows, Goldfinches,
two or three visits from a Blackcap (which had a bath
on one occasion), a couple of Starlings yesterday,
plus the inevitable Collared Doves, Woodies, Magpies
and even a couple of Crows. A Wren was gathering
nesting material. A Blackbird hauled a massive worm
out of the ground, then proceeded to cut it up and
flew off with bits into the hedge, clearly feeding
Eric Eddles, our
Baffins Pond correspondent, reports three Chiffchaffs
were in the north east reedbed. Also, two Call ducks
were on the pond; Eric sent me a photo of the drake
called a Crested Call duck. That's a strange one, I've
never seen one of those before.
earlier observations go to . . April