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for June 1-16, 2013

in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current

SUNDAY JUNE 16 - 2013

North Thorney

Some new flowering plants for me were Corky-fruited Water-dropwort, Selfheal and Bee Orchid - just two flower spikes - in the usual spot at the start of the track down west Thorney.

Bumblebee correction

Yet another correction. Sorry folks. This time Bryan Pinchen informed me that the Bumblebee on the Rosy Garlic flowers at Bosham in yesterday's blog was not a queen Bombus campestris as I thought, but a male Bombus pratorum. He writes: "There is a bold yellow band on the front of the thorax extending up onto the back of the head, and another at the front of the abdomen and the reddish orange tail tip, all quite characteristic of this species. There are also some yellow hairs on the face that set it apart from the female/worker. I have corrected yesterday's entry.

Here is the insect I photographed yesterday

At the moment this is about the commonest species I'm seeing, it is an early nester and seems to have managed to get started during some of the few warm days we had back in April (my garden Cotoneaster is covered with them daily and a few B. jonellus, otherwise I seem to be Bumblebee free). And of course the great thing about the males is that they don't sting, so can be picked up/handled without any danger. Had it been B. campestris it would have been a more overall gingery yellow without any ginger colouring around the head, it would also look more sparsely hairy that this., in queen B. campestris there is no colour band on the abdomen, other than the orange/brown tip."



Jean and I had a stroll around Bosham harbour to the east of the town this morning. We found some interesting plants on the saltmarshes. They included Red Fescue (looking really red), Sea Arrowgrass, Sea Plantain, Lesser Sea-spurrey (with sepals longer than petals), Sea Purslane and Common Sea-lavender just starting to open. There was a fine display of Red Valerian along the main path from the town, including a lot of the less common white-flowered variety.

On the eastern side, we came across a good flowering of Rosy Garlic with a Bumblebee feeding on the flowers. Rosy Garlic used to be rare in our area, but Ralph Hollins says it has been spreading locally in recent years. The Bumblebee was identified by Bryan Pinchen as a male Bombus pratorum.

Scurvygrass query

Also, on the roadside embankment on eastern side of the harbour we saw some white-flowered plants which I thought at first were English Scurvygrass. I brought a sample home and on closer inspection they appeared to fit the description of Common Scurvygrass (Cochlearia officinalis agg) in my guides. In particular, the upper leaves were clasping the stem and the pods were rounded. In English Scurvygrass the leaves narrow gradually into the stalk and the pods are flattened. However, Common Scurvygrass is not found in SE England according to the local floras, so that rules that out! So, that must make it either Danish Scurvygrass or English Scurvygrass??


Moth Caterpillar Correction - Lackey Moth

Both Ralph Hollins and Jane Brook wrote to correct my identification of the silken tent of caterpillars that I found on east Thorney yesterday. They were not Brown-tail Moth caterpillars, but those of the Lackey Moth. Ralph sums up the main differences: a) Brown-tail Moth caterpillars are more hairy than my photo, b) they have a line of white dots down each side near the top and c) they have two reddish dots in the middle of the back near the tail end. The 'tents' (communal colonies) of both types of caterpillar look similar. The Lackey Moth does not release hairs that can cause skin irritation or present a hazard to health.

Brown-tail Moth on the left (Ralph Hollins's photo) and the Lackey Moth on the right (my photo)

Green beetle correction - female 'thigh beetle'

Ralph Hollins also corrected my tentative guess at the green beetle on a buttercup yesterday. It was not Musk Beetle, but the female of our familiar 'thigh beetle' (Oedemera nobilis) which does not have the swollen thighs of the male.

The male 'thigh beetle' is on the left and the female without the swollen thighs is on the right


Caroline French provides an update on the wildlife news in her North Emsworth garden:


"My impression is that, in our garden at least, this has so far been a more successful breeding season than last year, albeit rather late to get going. House Sparrows at the front and back of the house are on their second broods and there seem to be plenty of young Starlings around. I built a Starling nest box a few weeks ago but unfortunately didn't get it put up in time for this nesting season. One of the challenges is to safely get the box fixed to the wall at a height just below the guttering, and thereafter to take it down and clean it out every year. My window-cleaner kindly put up my sparrow terrace three years ago but he has since retired. Perhaps there is a gap in the market for birdbox services?

I finally saw my first juvenile Goldfinch on 11th June (we were away 3-10th June, so they may have been around a bit earlier), compared to 19th May 2011 and 23rd April 2012. There has been a pair of Chaffinches using the garden this spring for the first time, so they must have nested somewhere locally. Since 12th June there has been what appears to be a juvenile in the garden, judging by its rather scruffy appearance, what look to be short wings, and naive behaviour. It has been feeding independently.

I was going to pull up my Forget-Me-Nots which had 'gone over' until I spotted several Goldfinches feeding on the seeds. It's nice to see the birds foraging for 'natural' food in the garden rather than relying solely on the feeders. I was really thrilled to come home yesterday and find a male Bullfinch on the feeders - the first I've ever seen during the six years at this house! Perhaps it's the same one you had in your garden. It was soon joined by a juvenile Goldfinch and a juvenile Greenfinch."


I have a Hedgehog using one of the wooden houses in the garden. This is the third Hedgehog to use this box in the past 12 months, one of them having hibernated in it over winter. The hibernating Hedgehog moved out in early May so I emptied out the box, cleaned it, and put some fresh straw inside. Within a week a new Hedgehog had moved in! I'm attaching a photo of the box with the lid off, showing the two internal compartments which prevent predators from entering.

Last time I was at Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital they were selling these for, I think, around £25.00. The fact that the box is so readily occupied suggests to me that there may well be a shortage of suitable sites for them to rest up or nest. I place my box in a shady position under a Verbena bush, where it is protected from the worst extremes of rain, wind and sun. The food that I put out each evening may be an added local attraction, but I also leave some of my grass long and shove dead leaves to the back of the flower beds so the Hedgehogs can forage for natural foods.


Eric Eddles sent the following photo of the family of Barnacle Geese with 4 goslings on Baffins Pond. I recall Barnacle goslings during the 1990s when I used to survey the pond regularly, but have not heard of any in recent years.

FRIDAY JUNE 14 - 2013


Emsworth Millpond

It was excellent to see the Mute Swan pair with their one cygnet on the millpond this morning, all feeding happily together. Thankfully, the pen has finally given up brooding the three addled eggs in the 'litter nest', though that has not stopped the ever-present audience looking down at the nest from the bridge.

Peter Pond

The Mute Swan family with eight cygnets was on the pond this morning, all looking very healthy and feeding well. Let's hope the parents can hang on to them, but 8 young birds can be very vulnerable with predators on the next pond with hungry chicks to feed.

Two Swallows were feeding over the pond while I was watching the swans.

Slipper Millpond

The Great Black-backed Gulls were on the pond and I could just make out the three chicks on the centre raft. Brian Lawrence was also 'buzzed' by the male yesterday and got this photo of the bird in action overhead.



A ginger bee with a white tail and dark abdomen feeding on Beaked Hawk's-beard flowers was probably Bombus hypnorum. This Bumblebee was first recorded in Hampshire in 2001and occasionally in southern English counties. Bombus hypnorum was also recorded on Brook Meadow by Bryan Pinchen in July 2010.

Another small bright ginger Bumblebee with a yellow abdomen that I found feeding on Yellow Rattle flowers on the orchid area is probably Bombus muscorum which, according to Bryan Pinchen, is a declining species, being largely restricted to coastal areas.

Other insects

I was pleased to see my first Banded Demoiselles of the year on Brook Meadow. Both male and female insects were in flight near the Lumley Stream. Here is the male with the characteristic band across its wings.

Here is the female with plain green wings

I found a green beetle resting on a buttercup flower which I have not been able to identify. My very very tentative guess from Chinery's book is Musk Beetle (p.278)

I was on Brook Meadow for about an hour this morning without seeing a single butterfly. The wind was still chilly, but it was reasonably warm and one might have expected to see some.


There is certainly nothing wrong with the large Ash tree on the railway embankment which overhangs the north path of Brook Meadow. It is covered with large bunches of very healthy looking keys.

The 8 Southern Marsh Orchids are growing well on the east side of the orchid area, but there are no others in the immediate area that I could find. The first spikes are now showing on Reed Canary-grass.

Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)

I was unsure about this bright red seed head which I thought at first might be a buttercup. How wrong I was. It turned out to be the rare Great Burnet - see blog entry for June 17 for full details.


Jean and I walked from Prinsted to Thornham Point. We had a look for the Osprey that has been seen near the new nesting platforms, but there was no sign of it. I found the following newly flowering plants; Lesser Stitchwort, Hop Trefoil and Field Bindweed. We found a nest of Brown-tail Moth caterpillars on a rose bush near the point.



Emsworth Millpond

At about 11.30am the pen Mute Swan and her cygnet from the "litter nest" were both feeding together quite happily on the water. Some kind person had scattered some grass cuttings into the pond which should provide some sustenance. The cob was near the nest which still has the 3 addled eggs in it.

Peter Pond

When I arrived at Peter Pond at about 12 noon, I was somewhat shocked to find the pen swan on the island standing beside a completely empty nest. However, after a few minutes the 8 cygnets gradually emerged from the surrounding reeds and the pen took them onto the pond where they swam about.

The cygnets spent some time on their mother's back and hiding beneath her wings - with one acting as 'look-out'.

Slipper Millpond

I could clearly see two of the three Great Black-backed Gull chicks on the centre raft with their two parents, but the third one may have been hiding. While I was watching the chicks through my binoculars, I was followed around and constantly 'buzzed' by the male parent Does everyone get this treatment, or just me? Coots were in the nest boxes on both rafts.

Fishbourne Millpond

Roy Hay reports to say there is only one cygnet on Fishbourne Millpond this year. Here is Roy's photo.


I had a wander around some of the local waysides this morning, looking for newly flowering plants. Common Ragwort was out on the New Brighton Road Junction. While on the Railway Wayside I found Hedge Woundwort and Creeping Thistle in flower plus the first spike of Timothy. Dog Rose was also in flower near the new fence. Two worker Bumblebees (Bombus lapidarius) with red tails and black thorax were feeding on the Black Medick flowers on the Railway Wayside.

For the full report and photos go to . . .


Bullfinch in garden

We have had a couple of visits today from a male Bullfinch on one of the sunflower heart seed holders. This was our second visit from this rare garden bird this spring.



Quite amazing news, but we have no less than 12 Mute Swan cygnets in Emsworth in three families. This is the best total for the town I can recall and much, much, better than last year when we had a total of zero!

Peter Pond - 8 cygnets

The big break through came with the hatching of 8 cygnets on the Peter Pond island today. Maurice Lillie e-mailed me this morning to say he had seen at least 6, possibly 7, at about 7.40am. I was even luckier when I went down there at about 4.30pm when the pen was standing up on the nest and all eight cygnets could be easily counted. All the cygnets were normally coloured with no 'Polish' white ones, which I was half expecting as the mother was a 'Polish' swan (having pink legs and feet).

There were 8 eggs, so all have been hatched. Now, the work begins, to care for them and get them feeding. I get the feeling that the cob may not be all that much help. Today he was lounging as usual on the east bank of the pond, but I may be judging him too harshly. As for predators, the youngsters would appear to be fairly safe from the Great Black-backed Gulls which do not seem to go onto Peter Pond, where the Coot family with 5 chicks have remained unmolested. But, Mr Fox will be threat so long as the cygnets are on the island.

Dolphin Lake - 3 cygnets

The Mute Swan family with 3 cygnets were at the top end of Dolphin Lake this afternoon. All the cygnets were feeding and looked healthy. One of the cygnets is of the 'Polish' variety (ie all white) though the pen is not 'Polish' (ie has normal dark legs). This is the family from the nest on the marina embankment which started off with 8 cygnets.

Emsworth Millpond - 1 cygnet

Finally, the Mute Swan was still brooding her three addled eggs on the 'litter nest' on the town millpond with the cygnet swimming around in the rubbish on the water nearby. The brooding instinct clearly remains very strong, though surely she must give up soon?

TUESDAY JUNE 11 - 2013


Emsworth Millpond

The 'litter nest' on the town millpond is now surrounded by water, so it looks as if the Environment Agency has opened the sluice to let the water in again. I had a couple of looks today, but both times that stubborn swan was on the nest brooding its three remaining eggs, which have not a hope of hatching after all this time.

Sadly, the raised water level in the millpond has put paid to the brave Coot nest despite its great height.

Peter Pond

At long last, the Mute Swan on the Peter Pond island has produced some cygnets. There were just two little ones when I checked at 2.30pm, but Juliet Walker found four or five were out when she was there 3 hours later. As there were 8 eggs in the nest, there could be more to come. Here is Juliet's photo.

The Coot family with 5 chicks was on the water and all looking healthy.

Slipper Millpond

The Coot nest on the north raft is still active with what looked like the chick from the first brood sitting on the eggs while the two adults foraged on the water. It is fairly common that Coot chicks help in looking after subsequent broods, but I have never seen one actually sitting on a nest before.


Sulphur Cinquefoil

A single plant of Sulphur Cinquefoil was in flower on the Bridge Road Wayside. I have recorded this plant each year in exactly this spot since I first discovered it on July 14, 2011. It is very hairy with whorls of sharply toothed leaflets up the stem. The buttercup-type flower has slightly notched petals like Creeping Cinquefoil, but is much larger. The plant is south of the Goat Willow tree on the southern verge.

From The New Atlas: "A perennial herb, originating from gardens or as a contaminant of grass seed and naturalised on waste ground, roadside banks and grassy places; rarely occurring as a casual. Lowland. Neophyte (change +0.99). P. recta was introduced into Britain by 1648, and was known from the wild by 1858 (Middlesex). It seems to have become more frequent since the 1962 Atlas, but this may be an artefact of better recording. A European Boreo-temperate species, naturalised in Scandinavia north of its native range, and in N. America." It is described as 'rare' in The Hants Flora.

MONDAY JUNE 10 - 2013


'Litter nest'

My scouts tell me that the Mute Swan cygnet from the 'litter nest' on Emsworth Millpond has been in the water today and feeding well and looking good. This is very good news. When I checked about 7.30 this evening the pen was back on the nest presumably with the cygnet under her wing. Clearly, the instinct to brood eggs remains strong. However, it looks as if the Environment Agency has allowed the water level to rise in the pond as the water was lapping around the base of the nest.

Marina family

The Mute Swan family with three cygnets that nested on the marina embankment was in the harbour near the quay. One cygnet is a pale 'Polish' variety, but both parents are normal.

Peter Pond nest

The Mute Swan was still sitting on the Peter Pond island when I checked a couple of times today with no sign of any hatching.

WAYSIDES NEWS - Christopher Way cutting

A brief report along with a few pictures of the clerance of the Christopher Way verge wayside are on the waysides blog at . . .



'Litter nest'

At about 10am this morning, I was very pleased to see the cygnet on the water with its mother being introduced to the art of feeding! There is a line of weeds which I had not noticed before growing on a raised area of the millpond, which the adult swan stirred up, producing fragments of food stuff (insects) which the cygnet appeared to be picking off the surface of the water.

I watched mother and child slowly swim onto the main millpond where the Coots were nesting. This produced a little skirmish with the Coots, but the swan was unpeturbed and moved on serenely.

I had another look this afternoon and the pen was back on the 'litter nest', with the cygnet beneath her, in front of an admiring crowd. Clearly, the instinct to brood the eggs is still strong, but this is bound to weaken as nothing happens.

Peter Pond

I checked Peter Pond where the pen was still sitting on the nest on the island with no sign of any cygnets. Clearly, the egg laying must have continued long after when I thought it had finished. This is not surprising as 8 eggs have been seen in the nest. The cob was on the water nearby.

Plant news

Goat's-beard is in flower on the Peter Pond embankments and just one flower on the Seagull Lane patch on Brook Meadow, which was struggling to get through the rampant grasses. I counted 12 Ragged Robin plants in flower on the Lumley area and the area below the causeway. They are slowly increasing, but it looks like another poor year.

There are now 8 flower spikes of Southern Marsh Orchids on the east side of the main orchid area which I have marked with twigs. Two to go to equal last year's number. Orchid expert Nigel Johnson says the Southern Marsh Orchids in his garden are yery small this year and he is only finding them as they flower when the flower spike projects upward by an inch or two. At this rate the orchid count on South Moor is going to be tricky!

A couple of Southern Marsh Orchids growing together on Brook Meadow

Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca)

John Norton wrote to say he checked out the Gosport colony of Wild Clary today (opposite Trinity Green near the town centre). "There were 40 plants, including several in flower - last year we had 33. These are not next to any busy roads and partly sheltered by adjacent houses and an Ash tree. It sounds as though your colony may well have succumbed to the cold winter. The only other thing to consider is if the colony was next to a road where a lot of salt was put down over the winter, which may have not have helped."

FRIDAY JUNE 7 - 2013


"Litter nest"

The Mute Swan on the 'litter nest' on the town millpond continues to attract the crowds (as shown in this photo), though generally they have not had a great deal to watch with the pen settled firmly on the nest still brooding the 3 remaining eggs. These eggs will not hatch now, so one hopes that the mother quickly abandons them and takes her cygnet onto the water, where there is nutritious insect food for the youngster.

On one of her visits today, Juliet Walker got this shot of the cygnet swimming in the shallow water of the millpond with its mother nearby which is good to see.

This is not the first 'litter nest' on the town millpond to produce cygnets, but the first, to my knowledge, in this spot near the bridge. The others have all been in the in the south west corner of the millpond near the Emsworth Sailing Club. The last one to produce any young was in June 2007 when two cygnets were hatched, one of which survived thanks to its mother taking it up the Westbrook Stream, where it could feed on natural vegetation. I am not sure if this strategy would work this time as the grill at the end of St James Road has been changed to prevent debris getting into the culvert from the stream. This will certainly prevent access into the stream area by the adult swan, though a small cygnet might be able to squeeze through.

Peter Pond

Meanwhile, the Peter Pond 'Polish' swan continues to brood her eggs, well past my predicted date of hatching.

Great Black-backed Gulls

The Great Black-backed Gulls were both on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond with their 3 chicks, one of which was on the water.


For more news about the disappearing plants on the waysides and the views of two eminent botanists on the situtation. Go to the waysides blog at . . .



'Litter nest' drama

Well, what drama we have had on Emsworth Millpond today. I have checked the situation several times and every time the bridge at the top of the millpond was packed with people anxiously watching the slowly unfolding events below. To cut a long story short, this morning, one of the two cygnets got out of the nest and seemed to get stuck in the twigs at the edge of the nest. There was much discussion about whether it should be rescued and put back in the nest, but sensibly nothing was done. I thought it looked pretty weak anyway and one would not be doing mum any favours by handing back a weakling chick. Anyway, the cygnet proceeded to die in the blazing sun on the mud in front of an increasingly emotional crowd. Nature was happening in front of their eyes. Meanwhile, the pen swan, quite unconcerned, sat tight on the nest with the remaining cygnet and the 3 eggs beneath her.

At around 7pm Juliet Walker witnessed mum and cygnet get off the nest and walk to the small stream which was several yards away for their first swim an event that she captured in the photo below. Thanks Juliet. That was a good bit of news, for the swan needs to feed the cygnet on insects which she will only find in the water. By the time I got down there at 8pm the pen was back on the nest with the remaining cygnet snug beneath her along with the three eggs. The eggs will not hatch now, so let's hope the pen and her cygnet will get back onto the water quickly to find food.

Peter Pond nest

No such drama on the Peter Pond nest where the pen has been sitting tight all day with no sign of any hatching. When I checked this evening the pen stood up to turn the eggs and I could see there were definitely no cygnets.


Banded Demoiselle

Brian Lawrence saw the first Banded Demoiselle of the year on Brook Meadow and got this photo of a male. They are late emerging, but are usually the most common damselfly on the meadow.

Fox families

Susan Kelly still sees the young foxes sometimes in her Emsworth garden. She thinks there are two litters, of 2 and 3 cubs respectively, with two separate earths. She says, "The pair seem younger than the triplets and although I have seen them all together, they are more often visible in separate groups. One early morning I watched a mother and two cubs basking and bonding on the lawn, which was lovely."

Red Lily Beetle

Peter Milinets-Raby photographed what he thought at first was a Black-headed version of a Cardinal Beetle which I got on Brook Meadow on June 1, but it turned out to be the very similar Red Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) which attacks lilies and fritillaries and is a bane of serious gardeners.

Here is the Red-headed Cardinal Beetle for comparison

Late Orchids

On May 31, I found no Southern Marsh Orchids at all on the South Moor, Langstone where normally thousands are in flower at this time of the year. Ralph Hollins also went to South Moor yesterday and found just one flower spike open. His theory is that their late emergence may be due to a 'double whammy'. Not only will the orchids have been delayed by the cold and rain of the spring, but also those weather conditions may have been advantageous to other species growing in the same habitat. Thus the increased growth of Rushes, Meadow Sweet and other vegetation will have delayed the orchids by limiting the amount of light and heat getting through to the ground layer where the orchid tubers are developing. Ralph also noticed that the dead vegetation from an autumn cut had formed solid blankets of cover which could not be to the advantage of the orchids.



Disappearance of Wild Clary

I visited the Christopher Way verge wayside this morning and there was still no sign of Wild Clary. I am astonished at how all 40 or so plants, which have regularly flowered for the past three years, could have disappeared. More about the disappearance of Wild Clary and Martin Rand's explanation along with other waysides news can be seen on today's waysides blog at . . .

Common Blues mating

I came across a pair of Common Blue butterflies locked together in mating for several minutes on the embankment below the new access ramp on the Railway Wayside. The male, in particular, had very ragged wings as if it had been out for some time, though this was the first Common Blue I had seen this year anywhere. They overwinter as a caterpillar and turn into a chrysalis before emerging as an adult butterfly in May. Maybe, they were delayed this year by the cold spring, like most other things?


'Litter nest' hatches!

The Mute Swan on the 'litter nest' started hatching her cygnets today, one day before my predicted hatching date. When I was there at 1pm there was just one cygnet in the nest along with 3 eggs. When Juliet Walker was there at 6pm there were two cygnets and 2 eggs as shown in her photo below. The other eggs may still hatch, but they may not be fertile, we shall have to wait until tomorrow to see. Juliet e-mailed later to say there were 3 unhatched eggs.

I had another look at 8.30pm this evening, but the swan was sitting tight on the nest, watched by an admiring audience. I am amazed by the interest people have shown in this nest as I rarely go past the site without seeing someone staring down.

One big problem the parents will have is feeding the cygnets, since there is a distinct lack of natural vegetation on the millpond. However, in their first few weeks the cygnets will need high protein animal matter, especially water insects, of which there should be some on the millpond with the Westbrook Stream running into it from the north. Foot paddling by the parents also helps to dislodge food items from the mud. By about 2 weeks of age the cygnets should move onto natural vegetation.

Peter Pond nest waits

The Mute Swan on the Peter Pond island is still sitting with no visible signs of cygnets though it must be very near the time. She is 2 days over my predicted time of hatching, though with 8 eggs, I could not be sure of the date of the final egg.


Water Vole

Malcolm Phillips was back on the meadow and photographed a Water Vole on the north bank of the river at 2.15pm. This was our first sighting for a couple of weeks, in fact, since Malcolm was away.

Whitethroat with food

Here is a fine image of one of the three breeding Whitethroats at Hayling Oysterbeds taken by Michael Johnstone with a beak full of insects for its hungry nestlings.

Gull chicks galore

Brian Lawrence went over to Hayling Oysterbeds yesterday to see the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls that have nested on the 'tern islands' in the lagoon. As shown in his photo there are lots of tiny brown spotted gull chicks.



Brendan Gibb-Gray e-mailed to say last night he saw the Mute Swan from the marina, who had the eight cygnets, but she now only has three. I confirmed this today. Where the other five have gone is anyone's guess, but the prime suspects are the Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond which have three hungry chicks to feed. It is also possible the cygnets were taken by the Carrion Crows which are serious opportunists.

There is no further news concerning the Mute Swan nests on the town millpond and on Peter Pond. But, hatching is imminent. Penny Aylett told me today that she and others had been concerned about the cob of the Peter Pond pair which had been sitting on the eastern embankment without moving. It may be unwell or maybe it is just a nervous father waiting for the delivery!

A Reed Warbler was singing from the reedbeds in the south eastern corner of the millpond. The reeds are badly denuded in this area and the bird seems unlikely to remain.

I discovered Russian Comfrey on the east side of Slipper Millpond during a plant survey this evening with Gavin Miller. This makes me more sure that I have not seen any on Brook Meadow this year. Slipper Millpond also has Common Comfrey and White Comfrey.

Meanwhile, over on the town millpond the regal Coot remains on its ever rising tower of a nest. What an astonishing construction.


More Orchids on Brook Meadow

I discovered another four Southern Marsh Orchid flower spikes all in the same area as the first one in the east side of the main orchid area on Brook Meadow. I have marked all flowers with twigs.

Woodpecker predation

Penny Aylett also told me about the predation of her Blue Tit and Great Tit nests by a Great Spotted Woodpecker. She showed me the Blue Tit nest box, the hole of which had been hammered and widened by the Woodpecker to enable it to reach the chicks, all of which were taken. The same type of predation was shown on 'Springwatch' tonight. Just as well it was not a Magpie. That would have caused a fuss!

Where are the insects?

Peter Milinets-Raby was dismayed at how few insects there were in his garden. Where are the Hoverflies? The Bees? The Ladybirds? He wonders if everyone else experiencing this lack of insect life. As for butterflies, one or two Whites passing through and that's it! However, he did manage to get this unusual photo of a Green Shield Bug using its proboscis to collect a drop of liquid from its under belly.

Spotted Flycatcher correction

Thanks to Tony Davis and Peter Milinets-Raby for their replies about Charlie Annalls' Spotted Flycatchers reported in yesterday's blog entry. They both agree (and I do) they were Meadow Pipits and the fact that they have insects in their beaks means that they were feeding young

Damselfly catches fly

Colin Vanner got this excellent photo of what I assume to be a Large Red Damselfly catching a fly.

MONDAY JUNE 3 - 2013


Waysides News

Jane Brook and I went around some of the local waysides this morning. Among the plants we found were Yellow Rattle and Plicate Sweet-grass at the Bridge Road, Cat's-ear on two waysides and Smaller Cat's-tail grass on the Lillywhite's path verge. We saw 6 Swifts flying over Bridge Road, the most so far this year. We also had a nice female Orange Tip on the Seagull Lane patch on Brook Meadow.

For the full report go to . . .

Millpond News

The Mute Swan is still on her 'litter nest' on the town millpond near the bridge. A Coot has taken advantage of the low and steady water level in the millpond (from the Environment Agency for the Mute Swan nest) to construct its own nest which is now more of a tower. One wonders how the bird climbs into it! Meanwhile, on Peter Pond, the Mute Swan is still sitting on her nest on the island with no sign of any cygnets as yet. Today was my predicted hatching date, though I was not certain when the last egg was laid, so there might be longer to wait.

Brendan's Mallard

Brendan Gibb-Gray told me the sad news that about two weeks ago the Mallard nesting in his garden with 13 eggs left in the morning and failed to return. At the time, Brendan says, there were 4 males stalking the area, but otherwise no clues as to her fate.


Langstone Mute Swans

Jon Cox took some pictures of the cygnets and ducklings at Langstone Mill Pond near The Royal Oak (May 27). He said it looked like Mum was taking them on a circuit of the Mill, but they all had to leap from the footpath to the mud first.

Langstone Little Egret nests

With regard to the report by Peter Milinets-Raby on the blog entry for June 1, Ralph Hollins says . . "if you stand with your back to the wall of the Mill House you can easily see 10 Little Egret nests with adults and as you walk round the pond you can increase that to something like 20 (I believe the actual total is around 30).

Broad-bodied Chaser

Colin Vanner got a nice shot of what looks like an immature male Broad-bodied Chaser, this weekend in a field near Southwick.

Roe Deer at Fishbourne

Roy Hay got this photo of a buck Roe Deer lying in the grass in Fishbourne Meadows this morning. There was also a doe with it but not in shot.

Damselflies mating

Peter Milinets-Raby got this super image of a pair of Large Red Damselflies mating on his garden pond this morning.

Angle Shades Moth

Peter also sent me this photo of a moth which he nor I had any idea about, so I sent it to Tony Davis, my moth man who said it was an Angle Shades. Tony says, it is a resident species but also occurs as a migrant. He had a number of Diamond-back Moths over the weekend so there is some migration occurring at the moment.

I would never have recognised it from the picture in Chinery's Guide. He says it is abundant everywhere and can be found at all times of the year, but I don't recall ever having seen one (or heard of it before!).


Charlie Annalls has just returned from a visit to East Anglia and was happily surprised to see the mention of a glut of Spotted Flycatchers along the Dorset coastline on yesterday's blog entry (June 2). She says, "Whilst away I saw my first Spotted Flycatcher at the sand dunes at Felixstowe, two lovely birds with their mouths absolutely crammed with flies! I'd not seen this before but suspected some type of "flycatcher". They perched on very slender reeds from where they flew many deft missions to catch the innumerable flies and bugs flying around the dunes. A very impressive sight which I watched for some 20-30 minutes".

Thanks to Tony Davis and Peter Milinets-Raby for their replies about Charlie Annalls' Spotted Flycatchers. They both agree they are Meadow Pipits and the fact that they have insects in their beaks means that they were feeding young.

SUNDAY JUNE 2 - 2013


I went over to the meadow this morning to take photos of the regular conservation work session. There was a good crowd there and the main task was cutting down the Hemlock Water-dropwort which is threatening to spread again. Really, it needs digging up like happened 2 years ago on the Lumley area. I comtinue to enjoy my involvement with the group, even though I am not able to do any physical work. I also enjoy the coffee break served by Pam Phillips.


We found a few more Ragged Robin flowers to take the total to 8, which is not much to write home about! We also found Azure and Large Red Damselflies on the vegetation near the Lumley Stream.

 Copper Underwing

The most interesting find of the morning was by David Search who caught a large moth in his hands. When he released it the moth fluttered around on David's arms and coat before flying off. I took a few photos as it fluttered around, but none of them very good. However, the moth's red underwings show up well, which suggests it was a Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea). This species has not been previously record on Brook Meadow.

CORRECTION - Poplar Hawkmoth

My moth expert Tony Davis corrected me again on this identification. It is several months too early for Copper Undering which is a late summer / autumn species. The moth is a Poplar Hawk-moth.

Ralph Hollins added the following extra information about this moth. "From what I know the moth you found had only emerged from underground pupation within the last day or at most two - once any Hawkmoth has spent a day or so expanding its wings (hanging on a tree or wall) it is very unlikely to be seen again except at a moth trap so I think you can assume that your specimen came from an egg laid on a tree leaf in Brook Meadow last June, fed on the leaves from July to Sept, then pupated in a cocoon just below the surface of the soil until this May when it popped up to let you see it."


I checked the two Mute Swan nests this morning and the birds were sitting as usual with no sign of any hatching. Predicted date for the Peter Pond nest is tomorrow! I did not hear the Reed Warbler on Peter Pond today, though that could have been due to David Gattrell clearing reeds from the main channel leading into the pond.


Spotted Flycatchers galore

Former Havant Wildlife Group colleague, Ian Julian, who now lives in 'sunny Bournemouth', wrote on Hoslist yesterday to say 'there were probably thousands of Spotted Flycatchers along the entire Dorset coastline, many in groups of 50 or more, as far as Hengistbury Head and the Hampshire border. Portland alone had 1,000.' Please come this way, I have not seen one for years.  



Red-headed Cardinal Beetle - Pyrochroa serraticornis

I spotted a bright red beetle on a blade of grass behind the seat on Brook Meadow. I took a few photos to look up when I got home. A bit of research on the internet revealed its identity as a Red-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis), which is common on flowers and old tree stumps. I have just two previous records of Red-Headed Cardinal Beetle on Brook Meadow, both with photos: 15-May-10 and 02-Jun-10.

Further information

The Red-headed Cardinal Beetle is a medium-sized beetle found in woodland, along hedgerows and in parks and gardens. The adults are present during the summer and can often be found sunbathing on flowers or tree trunks. They are predators and feed on other insects flying around the flowers on which they are perched. The larvae are flattened in appearance, which enables them to live under loose bark where they feed on the larvae of other insects or, if none are available, they may devour each other!

The Red-headed Cardinal Beetle is bright red, with black legs and long, black, toothed antennae. There are two other species of Cardinal Beetle in Britain, both of which can be distinguished by their black heads. The Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea) is rare, but found in similar habitats to the Red-headed Cardinal Beetle; while the Scarce Cardinal Beetle is only found at a few sites in Scotland and Wales, where it lives in Birch woodland.

This information is from . . .

See also Chinery's Guide to Insects p.270


As I was walking up the main river path I came across two Ladybirds of very contrasting sizes close to each other on the Brambles. The large one was clearly a Harlequin Ladybird and was in the process of consuming a greenfly.

The small one was a 2-spot Ladybird, only half the size of the Harlequin and no doubt could be its next meal.

First Ragged Robin

I have been checking the Lumley area on a daily basis for the first flowers of Ragged Robin. I saw my first ones this afternoon, just 3 plants in flower on the southern section of the Lumley area. They were about 4 weeks later than usual. I am quite relieved to see any at all since last year's count was the lowest since counts began in Year 2002.

Stream Water-crowfoot

There is a fine display of Stream Water-crowfoot in the River Ems. It has long trailing tresses of submerged leaves and flowers with yellow honey guides on the inside of white petals.


The three Great Black-backed Gull chicks were clearly visible on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond along with one of the parents. The Mute Swan was snug on her nest on the Peter Pond island; by my reckoning she has only another a couple of days to wait before the 8 eggs hatch and what a sight that could be! Meanwhile, the 5 Coot chicks on Peter Pond are growing fast and look healthy. But the Coot chicks from the two nests on the Slipper Millpond rafts have all gone - down the throats of the gulls no doubt.

I was pleased to hear a Reed Warbler singing from the northern reedbeds on Peter Pond for first time this year. This could be the same bird that I heard singing from the reeds in the south west corner on May 27.

The Lesser Sea-spurrey on the brickwork near the wooden kissing gate at the north end of the western path around Slipper Millpond is just in bud.

Marina swans produce 8 cygnets

I had a phone call from Gavin Miller at about 3pm this afternoon to say there was a Mute Swan family in the marina area outside his house with an astonishing 8 cygnets. This must have been from a nest on the embankment of the marina where swans regularly nest, though I must admit I had not checked them this year and was unaware of their nesting. I got on my bike to have a look and there they were in the small bay below Slipper Mill. Clearly, the cygnets will be vulnerable to predation from the Great Black-backed Gulls which now have three growing chicks on Slipper Millpond themselves to feed. But we shall see.


Heather Mills reports on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group with a cracking photo of Grizzled Skipper.
Go to . . .
Havant Wildlife Group and take the link for 2013 reports


Duke of Burgundy

John Bogle recently visited Noar Hill and the Rake Bottom area of Butser Hill and was pleased to see that the Duke of Burgundy have fared pretty well despite the terrible weather last year with plenty seen at both sites. He says, "I'd say numbers at Noar Hill are typical of the past few years with around 20 seen together with half a dozen Dingy Skippers and a single Grizzled Skipper.

Here is John's fine image of both Duke of Burgundy and Dingy Skipper

John says, "It's the first time I've visited Rake Bottom and wish I'd gone when I first heard about it several years ago. It's a fair hike but well worth it with also around 20 Duke of Burgundy found spread over several areas (probably a lot more if I'd fully explored the place). Also maybe a dozen Dingy Skippers and the same number of Grizzled. A Green Hairstreak was at rake bottom too. Unlike Noar Hill which is often quite busy this site was relatively quiet - probably because of the steep climbs!"

Here is John's Hairstreak

Small Blue

Another trip took John to Paulsgrove chalk pit which he says is a little gold mine for Small Blue butterflies. He's lucky to have this small colony is just a couple of minutes from home. There are around 8-10 seen pretty much on par with last year. Note: John's photo of the underwing of the Small Blue showing black spots on a silver wing looks much the same as that of a Holly Blue. The obvious difference is the size with Small Blue being far smaller, but size is not obvious from a photo.


Correction to Tony's dragonfly

John Bogle corrected Tony Wootton's dragonfly photo from Somerset (May 24 entry). It is in fact a male Hairy Dragonfly. He says, "When I was in Kent there were everywhere in my 'local patch' in early spring - our earliest emerging dragonfly I think. I've yet to see one in Hampshire but I'm sure they are around here somewhere!"

Reed or Marsh Warbler?

There has been considerable debate on Hoslist about the identification of a small warbler singing from reeds in Gosport. It was thought at first to be a rare Marsh Warbler. Andy Johnson is convinced the slow-paced song is Reed Warbler and not Marsh Warbler, which tends to be much more fast and furious. For Andy the song is conclusive, and outweighs any seemingly anomalous plumage features. Richard Ford has done a nice video with song of the bird, so you can listen and make your own mind up. I would certainly put it down as a standard Reed Warbler, but the debate continues.
Link to Richard's video on YouTube . . .

Langstone Mill Pond

Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond on an incoming tide this afternoon.The highlights were as follows:

2 singing Reed Warblers (heard only), 2 male Gadwall on the pond, then flew off and seen to land on the ornamental lake in the grounds of Wade Court. This is probably where they are breeding. 3 pairs of Tufted Duck - no young, so probably non-breeders, 2 Little Tern fishing as the tide pushed in, 3 Common Tern, 1 Med Gull, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel, Mute Swan pair still with 3 cygnets.

Little Egrets - At least four nests can be viewed through the vegetation (the rest are only partially visible) and all have very small young in them - only a few days old. A pair of Carrion Crows were loitering just a metre from these nests waiting to catch a Little Egret off guard!!!

For earlier observations go to . . May 17-31