APRIL 27 - 2014
Woods - Spring Walk
I did the
annual spring walk through Hollybank Woods this
morning from 10am to 12 noon. The weather was
atrocious for the first hour or so with continuous
heavy rain, but the seven people attending, including
two children, all wanted to carry on. In fact, the
walk turned out to be very enjoyable, thanks largely
to the engaging enthusiam of the children, Ashley
(aged 9) and Morgan (aged 5). I felt a bit sorry for
them as they both brought bird and flower books which
were getting wet. However, they were quite undaunted
by the weather and dashed around finding plants for me
to identify. There were very few birds to be seen or
On the way up the
central track, we stopped to look around the area
where the conservation group have been coppicing the
Sweet Chestnut trees. We admired Dave's hut structure,
which, sadly for us, was in need of a roof. So, no
But, the children hardly seemed to notice the rain as
they discovered many of the woodland flowers,
including Bugle, Common Dog-violet, Bluebells and
Ground-ivy. Ashley also showed us the Oak tree that
she had planted in the Jubilee area.
interested to see the early flowering of the native
wild Lily of the Valley colony in the Jubilee area
Ashley and Morgan were
taken off home by their Grandmother after about an
hour as they were both soaked to the skin and getting
cold. The rest of us made a long detour via the two
main Bluebell areas in the eastern section of the
woods which were looking very good indeed, the best we
could recall. And so, it ended!
foul and fair a day I have not seen"
Malta Migration Massacre - with Chris Packham .
. . Dramatic as Chris is arrested!
Episode 5 . . .
. . . Episode 6 . . . http://youtu.be/LbgP1XkFWMc
Episode 7 . . . http://youtu.be/8dPpdwjLxQ8
APRIL 26 - 2014
Oh dear. The
high morning tide, combined with the increased flow
coming down from the Westbrook Stream, had raised the
level of water in the millpond to such an extent that
the Mute Swan nest, which had looked so promising
yesterday, had completely disappeared. The pen swan
was mooching around where the nest had been but all
that remained was twigs floating around on the surface
with no sign of the eggs.
the nesting Mute Swans on Slipper Millpond have
their own, very different, problems to contend
with, namely the presence of the Great Black-backed
Gulls. John Tagg witnessed conflict between the
Great Black-backed Gulls and the Mute Swans on
Slipper Millpond today. He saw one of the swans
take flight aiming itself directly one of the gulls
that was getting close to where the Swans were
nesting. The Gull took off, then proceeded to dive
bomb the Swan for quite a while, but the Swan
having moved the Gull away seemed to totally ignore
John said he was surprised to see how big the Gull
was compared to the Swan when 4 feet apart. Yes,
they are big birds; I would not fancy the swan if
it came to a fight!
Winter managed to capture this image of the
Blackbirds in his garden this morning. Dad was
feeding only one of the young leaving to other to
fend for itself.
provided the following update on the seabird colonies
on Hayling Oysterbeds and in Langstone Harbour.
"There are increasing numbers of black-headed gull
nests viewable on both islands in the Hayling
Oysterbeds' lagoon; but some will have little chance
of success as they are at too low an elevation (having
been started during the recent run of neap tides).
Hopefully, these particular nest-builders will, in
time, learn as might the "39ers" pair at the bus stop
and the territorial birds on the footpaths. Perhaps
the most "cool" black-headed gulls on the site this
year are the few individuals that have decided not to
join in the noisy and stressful "goings-on" on the two
islands, but have decided to spend the summer casually
paddling about and eating the occasional worm (most
likely, Peacock - Sabella pavonina -
By keeping a fairly
close watch on the RSPB's harbour islands, it is
apparent that the smallest island (Round Nap) has
attracted rather typical numbers of territorial (soon
to be nesting!) black-headed gulls. South Binness
Island, normally the site for the largest numbers of
nesting gulls, presently shows infrequent signs of
territorial gull behaviour although there is often
seen a multitude of gulls sitting on the water,
waiting to access the site. Like in 2007, the habitat
is not ideal (following winter storms, there is little
vegetation visible - the flora is still there as
tap-roots; but, by June, it will probably be as green
as ever out there!).
And, like 2007 and in several other years, peregrine
falcons have been roosting on the shingle so,
obviously, deterring birds from taking up nesting
territories. Hopefully, the peregrines will be
encouraged to roost elsewhere - after all, their
numbers are probably much greater than before their
dreadful problems in the 20th Century.
Probably because of
the habitat changes on S Binness and
peregrine-roosting, a significantly large number of
black-headed gulls have taken up territories on Long
Island since Tue 22 April. Prior to this year, there
were reports in 2008 and 1996 of no more than two
pairs attempting nesting but with no success. If this
new Long Island colony flourishes, there is a chance
that the territorial pair of carrion crows will be
unable to predate the pairs ringed plovers &
oystercatchers that have repeatedly failed at this
site. However, Long Island has long been the RSPB's
only permitted landing area in daylight hours for boat
Like in 2007, with
much of the S Binness vegetated ridge appearing to be
clear of vegetation after the winter storms, it is
possible that Mediterranean gulls will be
seeking alternative nesting sites. It is interesting
that reports from the Poole Bay area suggest that
there is I notable increase in Mediterranean gull
numbers. It seems that at least 2 or 3 pairs of Meds
are beginning to act territorially on the (curved) NE
island in the lagoon.
Common & little
terns continue to roost at high tide on the Stoke
Bay N Spit (more than 30 of former and at least 8 of
latter) - soon, it will become apparent if they will
At least two pairs of
Sandwich terns are showing good interest in the
NE Island of the lagoon.
A few dunlins, one
bar-tailed godwit and varying numbers of whimbrels
have recently been noted on passage. Unlike spring
2013, there are masses of Daisies, Lesser Celandines,
Medicks and Milk Thistle rosettes - and now, "Field
Forget-me-nots" - on the mound that overlooks the
lagoon. Lots of Green-veined Whites but very few other
APRIL 25 - 2014
steadily all day long, it eased off at about 4pm so I
decided to get out for a breath of fresh air. I
strolled down to the town millpond where the Mute Swan
nest was a fine colour green, as the swans had covered
it using the grass cuttings that were floating on the
pond from the verge mowing.
The pen was on the
nest, while the cob was patrolling further down the
pond. The south pair of swans, which have provoked
some fierce battles in the past, remain on the pond,
but at a safe distance. They have not attempted to
Black-backed Gull was sitting on a nest on the end of
the centre raft on Slipper Millpond. The way she was
moving and probing the nest with her bill suggested
the presence of eggs. The Laburnum tree is
looking splendid in full blossom on the south side of
Owl on Thorney
was lucky enough to shoot some video footage of a
Short-eared Owl taken north of Great Deeps on Thorney
yesterday evening at about 6.30pm. It's a great video,
showing the characteristic 'quartering' behaviour of
the Short-eared Owl perfectly as it hunts the
grassland for food. Click here to view the video . . .
heard her first Cuckoo yesterday evening on
Thorney Island in the place where she has heard them
before, ie on the electric cables out to Eames Farm.
Viv also saw 5 Buzzards together high over the
main A259 Emsworth road and Lumley junction yesterday
lunchtime. They were riding the thermals!
on Baffins Pond
had a nice surprise when he went down to Baffins Pond
on Wednesday to find these tiny fellers on the side of
See Chris Packham's
concluding interview about the bird hunting practices
on Malta . . . http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/lifestyle/environment/38343/chris_packham_interview_spring_hunting#.U1qf44m9LCR
APRIL 24 - 2014
I had a stroll
through Brook Meadow this morning. A single
Whitethroat was singing on the west side of the
north meadow. No others as yet. A Moorhen was
sitting on a nest in the reeds beneath the
A Green-veined White was fluttering over the
bramble bushes in the north west corner of the meadow,
possibly the same one that Malcolm Phillips snapped
yesterday. This photo shows the typical veined
was flowering for the first time by the Seagull Lane
gate and Meadow Buttercups are opening up on
the orchid area of the north meadow.
is the adult which looks as if it has a damaged left
eye, probably from fighting
Phillips had a very good afternoon round Brook Meadow
during which he saw two Water Voles together by the
sluice gate at 12.45pm, one normal sized adult and one
a small youngster.
is the youngster - the first of the year. So they are
breeding. What a relief!
Malcolm also got a
photo of the Whitethroat that I saw earlier
near the gasholder.
He also found another
Common Lizard on the mat the ecologists left on
the west bank north west corner. From the south bridge
Malcolm saw a Pike in the river below, so they
are still about. Finally, at 3pm he spotted two
Buzzards over the meadow.
I had an
e-mail from Nick Medina from the Slipper Millpond
Preservation Society this morning to say the Great
Black-backed Gulls were back nesting on the centre
raft of the pond despite the best efforts of the group
to deter them by installing wires and canes across the
rafts. Nick says they cannot take any further action
against the nesting as this would be in violation of
the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
When I passed this morning the female was settled
snugly on a nest of twigs underneath a network of
wires with her mate on the water nearby. So, we are
back to square one. The other nesting birds on the
pond will need to be extra vigilant to protect their
young from predation from the gulls. Info sent to SOS
A Coot is sitting on a
nest in the nest box on the south raft, while the Coot
pair that normally nest on the north raft have their
nest in the reedbeds near the swan nest. The pen Mute
Swan was settled on her nest in the reeds.
Tree Mallow was flowering on the east side of
the pond for the first time this year.
and Ribwort Plantain were in flower on the A259
embankment in Emsworth.
Barren Brome and Sweet Vernal Grass are
both is now fully open on the Bridge Road Wayside,
much earlier than in previous years.
There is a fine crop of Keel-fruited Cornsalad
growing on the pavement in front of house number 34 St
Ros Norton had
her first Water Vole sighting of the year in
Brook Meadow at the observation fence at 13.30 for
about 15 minutes. It appeared on the east bank but
kept disappearing in the undergrowth and once it had a
short swim going upstream. This could have been one of
those seen earlier by Malcolm Phillips.
Later Ros went to Little Deeps and heard a
APRIL 23 - 2014
I decided to do a recce for the annual Spring Walk
that I shall be leading in the woods on Sunday. It was
a warm though cloudy day. I walked the same route that
I tend to do each year, the Holly Lodge clearing and
the Jubilee plantation on the west and the two
Bluebell areas on the east. It was a regular workday
for the Hollybank Woods conservation group who were
busy on the coppiced area to the west of the central
track. I stopped for a chat with Andy Brook who told
me that they would soon begin coppicing on the eastern
side of the track.
As usual there was a good variety of woodland bird
song, including Blackbird, Robin, Song Thrush, Wren,
Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Blackcap,
Chaffinch, Woodpigeon and Stock Dove. No Willow
Warbler, Mistle Thrush or, more surprisingly,
I did not see a single butterfly during the walk!
displays on the eastern section of the woods are
now at their best. The Bluebells in the north eastern
section are densely packed creating a carpet of blue,
almost as good as Ashling Wood. The flowers are more
widespread in the south eastern area, where the
occasional white Bluebells stand out sharply from the
blue ones. This photo was taken in the northern area.
Other plants of
interest included: Wood Melick just emerging on the
central track and Ramsons (Wild Garlic)
flowering alongside the central track just past the
main coppicing site.
and Wood Speedwell on the Holly Lodge clearing. Holly
flowers (male?) are out on some trees. Along the north
east path towards the Bluebells were Thyme-leaved
Speedwell, Wavy Bitter-cress, Common Dog-violets and
I came across
some Wood-rush on the on the east side of the central
track at grid ref. SU744081 which I think could be
Southern Wood-rush (Luzula forsteri).
This is distinguished from the more common Field
Wood-rush (Luzula campestris), which
grows mainly on the Holly Lodge clearing, by its
V-shaped inflorescence with slender branches curved
and slightly drooping to one side. The photos show the
difference between the inflorescences of these plants
very clearly. However, I shall need to check the
identification of this plant with Martin Rand.
Wood-rush (Luzula forsteri)
I have only previously
seen Southern Wood-rush at sites on the Isle of Wight,
so it would be a first for Hollybank Woods. The Hants
Flora describes it as 'locally frequent' and
associated with ancient woodlands, old hedgebanks,
boundary banks and sunken lanes.
I checked the online Hants Plants Living Record, but
there had been no records of Southern Wood-rush
(Luzula forsteri) for SU70 from 2000 to 2014. However,
there does seem to be a record for tetrad SU7408 in
the old 'Flora of Hampshire' published in 1996, though
I will check this with Martin Rand - the BSBI
Botanical Recorder for South Hants.
Martin confirmed the
identification of Southern Wood-rush (Luzula
forsteri). He added: "It should stay like this (or
even more so) even at the fruiting stage, with none of
the branches turning backwards. Also the basal leaves
are narrower on average than L. pilosa. You are right,
there is no previous recent record for that tetrad on
the computer database. (I'm in the process of entering
up all the 'dots on maps' from the 1996 Flora, but it
will take a few winters yet!) But on the Living Record
lists you'll only see what was put on through Living
Record anyway. If you want full downloadable species
lists, and lists of detailed localities, for tetrads,
go to the Atlas 2020 pages on Hants
I did not find any of
the Dense-headed Heath Wood-rush (Luzula
multiflora ssp congesta) in the usual spot on
the path east of the southern Bluebell area. It looks
as if we may have lost it.
Nightingales at Marlpit Lane
12:00 - There
are now two Nightingales singing on the scrubby land
to the east of Marlpit Lane. They include the one just
north of the gate that I heard on Apr 20th and a new
one about 50m to the south west in scrub to the north
of the amenity tip. I listened to them with Theo
Roberts and his wife and granddaughter. There are none
singing up the lane itself where they usually are, but
the Willow Warbler is still singing near the footpath
Phillips had a quick walk around Brook Meadow today.
He did not see any Water Vole, but did get the first
Green-veined White butterfly of the year on the
I had a note
from Chris Oakley about the need to save a verge at
the junction of Redlands Lane and Nursery Close from
the cutters. His house end wall forms one side of the
plot, so he is closely involved. Chris's preliminary
survey listed 25 different wild flowers, which is a
promising start. I had a quick look at the wayside
this morning and it looks good, having Cuckooflowers
as well as plenty of others. So, I put up a waysides
conservation area notice and e-mailed Richard Denman
of HBC to instruct his team to avoid cutting it. This
could be our wayside No 17. Here is Chris's photo of
- Massacre on Migration - Episode 3
. . .
APRIL 22 - 2014
This morning I
had a stroll through Brook Meadow, looking for insects
on the nettle leaves along the main paths. There were
lots of 'Nursery-web spiders' (Pisaura
mirabilis) mostly with legs bunched up, but I caught
this one in a classic legs forward pose.
I also came across a
fine Holly Blue butterfly on the main river
I did not hear any
Whitethroat, so I suspect the one I heard last week
has probably moved on. They have often done that in
the past, here one day and gone the next. But, soon
some will stay to breed hopefully.
The swan nest
on the town millpond looks good with the pen sitting
snugly when I passed this morning. The nest was
surrounded by masses of grass cuttings from the
recently mown verges around the pond, so there is no
immediate shortage of food.
There are now two
Coot families on Peter Pond, the one with 4 chicks
that has been there for about a week and a new family
with two chicks, which is probably from the nest in
the northern reedbeds which is now unoccupied. There
is no sound of any Reed Warbler from the reedbeds as
for Brook Meadow
met up with Sam Lunn from Azure Ecology on the meadow
this afternoon and watched while he introduced 15
Slow-worms and Common Lizards to four of the black
squares, two in Seagull Lane patch, and two in the
north end of the Meadow, where examples of these
creatures have been found. He's hoping to continue
with two visits a day, but can't really predict times
as it's weather dependent, and relies on how many he
can catch. Sam said they will survey the Meadow again
in a year's time, and again the following year, to
establish the success of this process. Regarding grass
cutting, he recommended a high first cut, to enable
them to get away in time. So, it's all happening, very
is still having daily visits from Bullfinches to the
feeders in his North Emsworth garden, sometimes 2
males and 1 female at the same time! Here is a photo
of a male sharing with a Goldfinch.
- Massacre on Migration. Episode 2
. . .
APRIL 21 - 2014
Jean and I had
a walk through Brook Meadow and down to Slipper
Millpond this morning. We looked for Water Voles along
the river, but did not see any. However, I did hear a
Whitethroat, albeit briefly, singing from the
brambles in the north west corner of the meadow.
Wood Speedwell is flowering outside the Lumley
gate as usual.
The pair of
Great Black-backed Gulls was on Slipper
Millpond with one of the gulls perched on the centre
raft when we arrived from where it moved to the north
raft. They are amazingly persistent despite their
regular nesting sites being barred.
Nick Medina, who
manages Slipper Millpond, told me that the three
pairs of Coots are doing reasonably well this year
in the absence of the Great Black-backed Gulls. In
addition to the Coots with the nest in the reedbeds
(this is the pair that normally nest on the north
raft), another Coot is currently sitting in the box on
the south raft and another has an egg in the box on
the centre raft.
several clumps of Keel-fruited Cornsalad in
flower along the pavements in St James Road and one
along Bridge Road near the railings. We also noticed
Scarlet Pimpernel was out under the Beech
hedge on Bridge Road.
I placed a new wayside
conservation notice on the grass verge on Christopher
Way where the Wild Clary is growing well to
prevent the council workers cutting it down. They are
in a small area on the northern section of Christopher
Way just a few metres along the way from the official
wayside close to the junction with New Brighton Road.
I have e-mailed Richard Denman who manages the cutting
teams asking him to inform the cutting teams to avoid
this small section of grass verge.
I spotted a
tiny black and white bug on the nettles near the
sluice gate on Brook Meadow which I subsequently
identified as Pied Shieldbug (Sehirus bicolor
Cydnidae) from Chinery (p.72).
I have one previous
record of this insect on Brook Meadow for 06-Apr-11.
Bryan Pinchen also recorded this insect in his insect
survey in May 2010.
Like other members of this family, this is a
ground-dwelling species, but may be found feeding on
the aerial parts of white dead-nettle and black
horehound, the main hostplants. Widespread in southern
Britain in hedgerow and woodland edge habitats,
becoming rarer northwards and absent from Scotland and
Ireland. There may be two overlapping generations each
summer. Females exhibit brood care of the eggs. See .
. . http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/heteroptera/Cydnidae/tritomegas_bicolor.html
- Corizus hyoscyami
David Search to have a look at the photo of the bug
that Brian Lawrence took on Brook Meadow on Apr 18.
David confirmed its identification as Corizus
hyoscyami and said that although historically
confined to the coasts of southern Britain it is now
found inland throughout England and Wales as far north
as Yorkshire. David, in fact, recalled finding one
some years ago in a familiar haunt of mine, Poppit
Sands near Cardigan in 2009. Here is David's photo of
the Poppit bug, clearly the same species as the one
Brian Lawrence got on Brook Meadow.
I also asked Bryan
Pinchen to comment on the bug and here is his
"You are correct, it is the seed bug Corizus
hyoscyami, it is a curious one too, until
about seven years or so ago it was confined in Britain
to the coast, often being reported as occurring no
further than a few yards from the sea. Then, for some
reason it started to spread inland, I personally
recorded it at a couple of sites just north of
Salisbury, Wilts in 2007 and friends recorded it from
Queen Elizabeth Country Park at the same time. It was
also recorded as far north and inland as Luton. Since
then it has continued to appear at inland sites, and I
have recorded at a site in Frome, Somerset in each of
the past four years, suggesting, for that site at
least, that it has been breeding there. I had
previously only ever seen it on my doorstep on the
coast at Highclliffe. On the whole a stunning and
distinctive member of our heteroptera fauna, and one
which could turn up almost anywhere these days. A good
told me a friend had heard a Cuckoo calling
from the direction of North Thorney. Hilary Gilson
also heard a Cuckoo this morning (8am) at Thornham
Point. So, it looks as if they have arrived!
Paul Cooper e-mailed to say he'd just seen three
House Martins flying over Lynch Down in
Funtington, five days earlier than last year. He hopes
they will nest as they did last year. That's good to
hear, but shall we ever have any in Emsworth?
Pam Phillips saw a Grey Heron standing on the
edge of the Gooseberry Cottage pond this morning with
the most enormous eel in its beak. She was sure it
couldn't have swallowed it, but I bet it did.
See Chris Packham's
film on the massacre of migrant birds on Malta
Episode 1 . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ehOvfA6hls
APRIL 20 - 2014
at Marlpit Lane
I walked up
and down Marlpit Lane a couple of time from my parking
spot near the amenity tip at about 4pm. The rain had
stopped and the sun was glinting through the trees.
Lots of birds were singing, including several
Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs and the Willow Warbler which
I have heard on each visit this spring. But no sound
of Nightingale. I was about to give up when I thought
I would walk a little way up the footpath to the east
just in case. Hey presto there it was! There is
nothing like hearing the first Nightingale of the
year, just like the first strawberry. One bird was
singing from the scrub just past the metal gate where
the footpath veers off the right.
APRIL 19 - 2014
I had a quick
walk around the meadow this morning just to see what
was about. There was plenty of bird song everywhere.
Blackcaps were particularly prominent; I
counted six songsters in all, on Seagull Lane patch,
north path, east side north meadow behind the Rowan
plantation, west side north meadow, south meadow by
Bramble bank and Palmer's Road Copse. However,
Whitethroat which I first heard on Apr 17 was not
singing. Maybe it has moved on?
Wood Avens is
flowering for the first time this year on the north
path and the first signs of Wintercress is now showing
on the east side of the centre meadow. There are
several patches of Bluebells around the meadow,
but all of them are of the Spanish/hybrid variety as
in this photo of some on the north meadow. In
Spanish Bluebells the flowers are erect and do
not hang on one side as in the native variety.
Meadow Foxtail is
flowering well showing its anthers. The only other
grass with spikelets is Tall Fescue. There is a great
display of Divided Sedge on the Lumley area this year
with plenty of Distant Sedge showing as well. Also,
the Sharp-flowered Rush leaves are abundant.
There is an interesting leaf in the river between the
north bridge and the north bend that looks like
Water-plantain. It can be seen best from the
main path. I shall keep an eye on its for flowers to
confirm its identity. Water-plantain would be a new
plant for the Brook Meadow list.
It is good to see all
three of the Julilee Oak saplings, that were planted
by the group in 2012 on the Seagull Lane patch,
looking healthy and sprouting fresh leaves, including
the one that I planted!
The tall Red Oak which
was planted to in memory of Tony Wilkinson, which we
have been a bit concerned about, is also starting to
was up with the larks this morning and went for a walk
along the Warblington shore from Conigar Point to the
Langstone Mill Pond.(6:30am to 8:52am - sunny but
chilly). Main observations were:
Ibis Field: Chiffchaff singing, Whitethroat briefly
singing (probably a migrant), Song Thrush, Single
Swallow over, Stock Dove, Moorhen.
Stubble fields behind Conigar Point: Male Pheasant, 2
Chiffchaff moving through, Blackcap singing, Song
Thrush, 3 Long-tailed Tits.
Off Conigar Point: 4 Shelduck, Greenshank (G-R/BBtag),
2 Med Gulls looking splendid in the early morning
Off Pook Lane (tide now ridiculously low!): 7 Grey
Plover (one in summer plumage), 3 Greenshank (only one
with rings - RG/YYtag). 3 Whimbrel - some good views
as they fed in the salt marsh, 6 Shelduck, pair of Red
Breasted Mergansers in the remaining trickle of the
channel, 5 Linnet in the hedge by the church.
Paddocks north of millpond: 2 Swallow hawking low
amongst the horses, 2 Moorhen
Langstone Mill Pond: This morning's visit was so
weird. A very strange sight! Not a single Little Egret
could be seen!!!! Very eerie, very quiet. On closer
inspection you could barely make out the sitting birds
on their nests; all of them flat and low in their
nests keeping warm. All their mates out fishing
somewhere! Incredible sight, you wouldn't think the
Three Grey Heron chicks just visible with a scope and
an adult Grey Heron perched low nearby (again probably
keeping out of the chill wind).
What noise there was from the pond, came from a
singing Chiffchaff and a Reed Warbler (good views at
it perched in the open to sing).
Wildlife Group walk
reported on this morning's walk at Hook with Warsash.
See . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2014.htm
on Baffins Pond
sent this photo of a male Gadwall on Baffins Pond
today. Eric looked up last year's photo of the Gadwall
and amazingly it arrived on exactly the same day, 19th
April 2013. Personally, I never recorded a Gadwall on
the pond during my surveys from 1992 to 2005.
APRIL 18 - 2014
The pen was on
the nest on the town millpond incubating her eggs,
while the cob was on the water fending off an
intruding swan, circling round and round each
Meanwhile over on Peter Pond I discovered the Coot
family had 4 chicks not 3 as I had previously thought.
The other one must have been hiding. Another Coot is
still on its nest in the northern reedbeds to the
right of the table.
The Mute Swan was snug on its nest in the reeds on
Slipper Millpond and is now surely incubating.
Estimated date of hatching is 22-24 May.
I walked along
the old NRA track, listening for migrants from the
bushes. There was no sight or sound of Common
Whitethroat, but I heard snatches of what I am fairly
sure was a Lesser
song. Sedge Warblers were singing from the reedbeds
down to Little Deeps, but still no sound of Reed
flowering plants on the Bridge Road Wayside today were
Thyme-leaved Speedwell and Red Valerian.
Bug on Brook Meadow
sent me a photo of a distinctively marked bug that he
had taken on Brook Meadow today. I identified it as
Corizus hyoscyami from Chinery's
'Collins Guide to Insects' p.74. Lots of photos of
this bug on the internet confirmed the identification.
is a species of scentless plant bug . Adults are
about 9 millimetres (0.35 in) long and feeds on
plants. Like all scentless plant bugs, it lacks
well-developed scent glands. It is found in most of
Europe, though it appears to be relatively uncommon in
Britain. It was a first for Brook Meadow. Bryan
Pinchen did not record it in his surveys in 2010, so I
have sent the photo to Bryan for his comments.
A recent record of Corizus hyoscyami was at
Holme Fen nature reserve on Sun,22nd Sep 2013. This
record says, 'This bug was only known in Britain from
sandy habitats at a number of well-separated sites
around the coast of SW England and Wales. Since then,
it has rapidly expanded its range eastwards and
inland, and the online National Biodiversity Network
distribution map http://data.nbn.org.uk/
now shows it as having been recorded at a number of
locations across England, south of a line running
roughly from Southport to Scunthorpe, and as far east
as the Suffolk coast.'
See . . . http://www.greatfen.org.uk/wildlife/sighting/bug-holme-fen-corizus-hyoscyami-updated
gives a news update for the seabird colonies in
Langstone Harbour with particularly encouraging news
of the return of Little Terns.
"Following a report yesterday from Wez Smith (RSPB
Site Manager Langstone & Chichester Harbours) of
22 little terns in Langstone Harbour, some were
seen today. Encouragingly, there were at least 7
little terns and a similar number of (displaying)
common terns plus two Sandwich terns roosting on the
north spit at Stoke Bay during the rising tide -
unfortunately, they were disturbed by kayakers and
Noisy visitations by Sandwich terns (up to six birds,
sometimes) have been a daily occurrence over the
Oysterbeds' lagoon at high tide for several weeks now
and, hopefully, some will nest on the lagoon's islands
More and more black-headed gull nests are appearing on
the two lagoon islands; but the presently surging
spring tides have flooded out many and most of the
owners of those riskily-sited nests have rebuilt on
the same spot - they will either learn to nest higher
or join the relatively large percentage of animals
that are repeatedly unsuccessful in breeding.
As usual, there are some black-headed gull pairs that
have decided to hold territories on the footpaths etc
and one pair (the "39ers" - named after the bus
service that never stops at the site's bus shelter)
would like to nest on the roof:
There are fewer Mediterranean gulls to be seen
compared to earlier weeks - many are presumed to be
considering nesting on South Binness Island as in
previous years; they do generally nest later than the
black-headed gulls so it will be some time before we
know if any are going to nest at the Oysterbeds.
Within the Stoke Bay roost mentioned earlier, there
had also been four summer plumage dunlins, one ringed
plover and one moulting bar-tailed godwit. A visitor
today reported four whimbrels roosting on their
favoured bund (NE of the lagoon).
Butterflies and other insects are becoming more
abundant but they seem to have greatly improved their
skills at avoiding being photographed.
APRIL 17 - 2014
Conservation work session
I went over to
the meadow this morning for the regular conservation
work session. There was a good turn out of 14 people
on a fine sunny morning. Jennifer Rye outlined the
main tasks for the session which were:
(a) Preparing the foundations for the new tool shed to
be sited on the Seagull Lane patch. Jennifer explained
that HBC had granted the group a license to erect the
shed on their land, so we could now go ahead, buy it
and put it in.
(b) Removing the sandbags from the river in the
north-east corner of the meadow where they had been
thrown. There was some discussion about how to dispose
of the bags as the Environment Agency did not want
them back as they were 'contaminated'. I am not sure
of the outcome of this discussion, but some of the
bags were split to allow the contents to wash away in
the river stream. Other bags were physically removed
from the river and used in the construction of a
(c) Constructing a
hibernaculum in the north-east corner as suggested by
Azure Ecology - see report below. This was done using
the sandbags and logs and branches from the pollarding
of the Crack Willows all covered over with grass
cuttings and sods of turf. Here are two volunteers
with the completed hibernaculum.
informed us that Azure Ecology have completed their
reptile survey of Brook Meadow in which they found
peak counts of 4 Slow-worms across three separate
areas and 5 Common Lizards. The average across the
seven surveys was slightly lower indicating low
populations of both slow worm and common lizard. They
would now like to start translocating from the Clay
Lane site as soon as possible before the weather gets
too hot and the reptiles too active to catch. They
suggested the group should build hibernacula in the
areas where reptiles have been found. The official
report will be sent next week.
The RSPB site gives advice on the building of
hibernacula (the plural of hibernaculum). See . . .
interesting wildlife observation of the morning was
the first Whitethroat of the year on Brook Meadow. I
first heard its distinctive short scratchy song from
bushes on the causeway at about 10am; this is where I
tend to hear the first of the arrivals. Later in the
morning I heard and saw what might have been another
Whitethroat (or maybe the same one) in the brambles on
the west side of the north meadow and I managed to get
a quick photo.
was exactly the same date that I had the first
Whitethroat on Brook Meadow last year. That was fairly
early as they are not usually heard until the 4th week
in April. The earliest on record was
Brook Meadow news
There must be
4-5 Blackcaps singing around the meadow at present,
along with a few Chiffchaffs and the regular
Butterflies seen included Brimstone, Peacock, Comma,
Small White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood.
I had a walk
up Marlpit Lane this afternoon listening for
Nightingales, but there was no sound of any. Sid
Davies was sitting in his car along the lane, but also
had heard nothing of the Nightingale. However, the
Willow Warbler was still singing well on the west side
of the lane just north of the footpath sign.
Open Space has a wonderful display of Meadow
Foxtail. Some of the spikelets of the Meadow Foxtail
were very long - up to 9cm - reminding me of Timothy.
I checked and they were definitely not Timothy. I also
found the first spikelets of Barren Brome and Beaked
verge had a variety of flowering plants, including
Spotted Medick and Dove's-foot Cranesbill which were
firsts for me this year. I could not find any Wild
Clary on the wayside verge, but there was a very
nice cluster of plants in full bud on the council
verge to the west of the main wayside along
Christopher Way which has not yet been cut. I hope to
put a small notice to warn the council cutters to
avoid cutting these plants.
We had the
first young Blackbird of the year being fed by its
parents in the garden.
Milinets-Raby had a quick walk down Wade Lane this
morning to visit the shore and Langstone Mill Pond
(10am to 11:25am - Very low tide). Here are his main
Along Wade Lane: Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff singing, 2
Stock Doves, Sparrowhawk soaring about, Buzzard
perched in its usual tree.
On Mill Pond: First Reed Warbler singing at
long last, though it only sang quietly for a couple of
minutes. Reed Bunting singing briefly. 2 Swallows over
north. Chiffchaff singing and Med Gull over.
The Grey Heron youngsters were showing fairly
well at times, though for long periods they were very
hidden deep in the Holm Oak. On checking his photos
Peter discovered there are in fact three youngsters,
not two as previously thought.
No movement on the
nest at the top of the Holm Oak and as for the other
nest he just could not find it! "Has it been swallowed
up by vegetation growing or has it been abandoned as I
feel that the tree that was leaning over has moved
further towards the ground."
The female Mute Swan was half off her nest revealing a
couple of eggs. She was probably hot. It was a warm
morning and her nest is in direct sunshine!
Little Egrets very busy. Carefully counted 31 nests,
though there could possibly be another 5 suspected!
(leaves growing up quickly, so there will not many
more opportunities to get accurate counts until we
have chick activity).
Off shore; 4 Greenshank (2 with tags, but glare from
the sun made it impossible to get details), 2 Ringed
Annalls visited Hilsea Lines to the north of
Portsmouth yesterday in, as she puts it, "stunningly
beautiful weather". She certainly chose the right week
to take annual leave from work! Hilsea Lines is very
good for orchids later in the year. Charlie saw some
good butterflies and birds, including Chiffchaffs. She
also came across a Grey Heron rooting around in
the tall reeds. Charlie took several photos of the
Heron catching what looks like Eels. However, the
photo which I found most interesting was of a Grey
Heron in breeding plumage sporting a magnificent red
blushed bill which it will have for a short period;
its legs will also be reddish.
APRIL 16 - 2014
The Mute Swan
was on her nest near the bridge on the town millpond
when I passed by this morning. But Malcolm Phillips
caught her off the nest revealing her 5 eggs snuggled
in down. They look very promising. She has probably
finished laying and is now incubating, which means we
can start the clocks for 36 days from now until the
eggs hatch - around May 22nd.
The Mute Swan
on Slipper Millpond was also snug on her nest in the
reedbeds, probably also incubating.
Three pairs of Coot are on the pond, one nesting in
the north-east reedbeds and the other two seem to
spend their time chasing each other.
The pond had an unusual visitor this morning in the
form of a Greylag Goose. The last one I
recorded on the pond was seen by Brendan Gibb-Gray on
27.04.06. A single Great Black-backed Gull was also on
the pond and I got both it and the Greylag Goose in
A pair of Mute
Swans was on the Deckhouses Estate pond along with a
single Canada Goose. The swans did not appear to be
nesting. No more news about migrants from yesterday. A
Buzzard perched on the cables down to the Little Deeps
was the only new observation.
I had a look
at the clearance of woodland in Southbourne Copse from
the end of Woodfield Park Road which was as dramatic
as John Tagg described it yesterday. A large area had
been cleared of trees and scrub leaving massive piles
I spoke to the
residents of the house immediately adjacent to the
woodland who, like John, had no idea what was
happening. They said there was no planning application
or notices to indicate the purpose of the clearance
and were resigned to their fate whatever it might be.
It all reminded me of a similar clearance of bushes
and scrub that took place on the large field to the
west of Thorney Road in 2009, which in that case was
stopped by with a 'Stop Order' from Chichester DC.
Nothing further has happened on that field.
I had a walk
through the meadow this afternoon and found two
Cuckooflowers, one on the north meadow and one
on the Lumley area. This is in sharp contrast to the
near 500 flowering plants on the Bridge Road Wayside
Malcolm Phillips spent about 3 hours round the meadow
today but had no Water Vole sightings. However, he saw
a good selection of birds including a
Goldcrest. He also had another Lizard this time
on the mat on the west bank at the north west corner.
wandering around the north meadow this afternoon I
came across good numbers of small metallic blue
beetles that I immediately recalled having last seen
several years ago - in fact in May 2005, though I have
earlier records for 2003 and 2004. They were
identified then as Altica oleracea which
is a species of leaf beetle. They are called Flea
beetles from their habit of jumping like a flea when
touched. They feed on various plants and clearly had
nibbled the leaves I found them on. They can be a
garden pest on brassicas and other plants.
David Search comments:
"During my project in 2005, I identified Altica
lythri using museum specimens as my knowledge
wasn't very good in those days and I was short of ID
books. More recently my results for last year again
included this species. My records show that I
dissected a male beetle to look at the reproductive
parts. This confirmed that it was this species. There
are 12 species in this genus to my knowledge although
I don't think that they are all present in the UK. I'm
not saying that A. oleracea is wrong, but we may have
to dissect for some genera to get the identification
While I was
shopping in Emsworth yesterday, I met Jennifer Rye who
showed me a strange object that she had found washed
up on the shore near West Wittering. I was unsure what
it was, though clearly it was a fish of some sort with
a tubular snout rather like a Seahorse. Several other
people also had a look at the object without any clear
identification. It was not until the Emsworth Harbour
Master came along that the puzzle was solved; he
pronounced it was a Pipefish, which he said was not
uncommon in these parts.
earlier observations go to . . April