JUNE 16 - 2014
Jane Brook and
I conducted our weekly survey of the Emsworth waysides
this morning. We covered three of the waysides in
North Emsworth, Southleigh Road (west), Barwell Grove
path and Greville Green (west).
Not officially a wayside, but on the verge by Cotton
Drive where I parked the car, the Rosy Garlic
is now seeding and looking just as attractive as when
I last saw it in flower on May 12th. Grid Ref: SU
Hawk's-beard was flowering well on the Horndean
Road traffic island at the eastern end of Southleigh
Road. We also saw plenty of it elsewhere on the
roadside verges, etc. Also on the traffic island, we
were very surprised to find a single plant of Sea
Beet. Less of a surprise was Lucerne. My first
Self-heal was in flower on the grass verge of
the Barwell Grove path.
While walking along
the Southleigh Road (west) wayside we watched a
distinctive black fly with yellow markings as it flew
from one plant to another hardly waiting a second
before taking off. I managed to get one shot in focus
which suggested a sawfly, possibly a Horntail?
Jane also spotted a pale green caterpillar of the
Orange Tip butterfly.
finishing the waysides survey I had a walk around the
new open space area of the Hampshire Farm development,
following Chris Oakley's visit yesterday. One cannot
but be impressed with the size and scale of the
project which includes many acres (how many?) of
freshly seeded grassland with tree plantations and
gravel paths and seats in various locations along with
a children's play area. The attenuation pond is
heavily fenced off. The site is clearly not officially
open yet, as there is still fencing around the area,
though there is a gap in the fence through which one
can easily gain access.
The grassland was
largely dominated by sown varieties of grass,
including masses of Crested Dog's-tail and Red
Fescue. Cultivated Oat with dead straight awns; Wild
Oat would have bent awns. Smooth Brome with drooping
panicles. Of the flowers Corn-cockle, Corn
Marigold and Common Poppy stood out as pretty sown
varieties. Tufts of Smooth Tare were
everywhere; presumably also sown.
Hairy Buttercups were widespread. I checked
their identification by digging one up and find a
root, but no bulb, ruling out Bulbous Buttercup. The
achenes also had a ring of warts inside a thick border
I heard a Skylark singing from high in the sky,
which is good news as it means they will be nesting
I saw just one butterfly, a Small
I walked north wards
towards Long Copse Lane where the area got distinctly
rougher with less evidence of sown plants and more
truly 'wild' plants, like Yorkshire Fog, Common Couch
and Creeping Thistle. In this area I found several
dense tufts of what could be Italian Ryegrass,
though I shall need to confirm this with Martin Rand.
Generally, I did not
feel entirely comfortable in the sown grassland, like
I would in a proper meadow. The area had the feel of a
created landscape, which, of course, it was, so I
suppose I cannot complain about that. It was certainly
better than a boring old parkland with closely mown
grass, that is for sure! It will be interesting to see
how the site develops over the years and what type of
management will be undertaken; presumably an annual
hay cut will be carried out?
Malcolm Phillips went round Brook Meadow this
afternoon and got a good sighting of a small
mouse-like creature creeping around on a Butterbur
leaf at the north bank.
clearly suggest a Harvest Mouse based on its small
size and russet brown fur and white underside. The
photos also show the animal to have a blunt nose,
small eyes and small hairy ears, all of which tally
with a Harvest Mouse. These were the first photos we
have had of a Harvest Mouse on Brook Meadow, though we
have found several likely nests.
The Mammal Society
says Harvest mice are listed as a BAP (Biodiversity
Action Plan) Species because they are thought to have
become much scarcer in recent years and require
conservation plans to reverse the decline. Changes in
habitat management and agricultural methods are
thought to be the main cause for the loss of
populations from certain areas, although there have
been no reliable studies to quantify this
provides an update on the situation at Baffins Pond,
Portsmouth. "Since the demise of the dominant Cob we
now have six Mute Swans on the pond, but as yet no
cygnets. In recent weeks 80 plus Canada Geese come and
go and we have two pairs that have successfully bred
eight in total goslings. The Barnacle Geese still have
two remaining of the original five goslings. Coots and
Moorhens have had a good year with quite a few
youngsters growing fast and a small number of Mallard
JUNE 15 - 2014
Mute Swan was sitting high on her tower nest on
the town millpond near the bridge when I passed by
this morning, no doubt brooding 6 eggs which I reckon
are still some way off hatching (a week or even
The Mute Swan family with its two remaining
cygnets was on Peter Pond along with a motley
collection of gulls, ducks and Coot.
Over on Slipper Millpond both Great Black-backed
Gulls were present, with one on the water and the
other on the centre raft with one rapidly developing
chick. I watched the adult feeding the chick and am
now certain there is only one chick this year.
I was rather surprised
to find one of the Coot families with four
growing chicks still intact on the east side of the
pond, having avoided the predatory instincts of the
gulls. Maybe, they are not so aggressive this year,
having only one chick to feed?
A Reed Warbler was singing from the reedbeds on
the north west side of the pond.
the path on the west side of Peter Pond towards
Gooseberry Cottage I found a very good crop of
Hairy Tare. Hairy Tare is a bushy, scrambling,
pea-type plant with spikes of tiny pale lilac flowers
at the top of long stalks. It does not grow on Brook
Meadow, but can always be found along the edges of
this path, but never in my memory in quite the
abundance it was today.
Another plant which
does not grow on Brook Meadow, but which can be seen
along this path is Rough Chervil, characterised by its
rough purple-marked stems. Perforate St John's-wort
was in flower on the south bank of Peter Pond.
and 6-spot Burnet Moths are seen on Brook Meadow; they
are attractive bright red moths with 5 or 6 spots on
their wings, respectively. But if you want to see
5-spots then have a look at the patch of ground to the
west of Peter Pond, owned by Lillywhite's Garage -
called the Lillywhite's patch. Today, I found about 20
adult 5-spot Burnet Moths, either resting on
vegetation or feeding on the flower heads of Hemlock
Water-dropwort on this path. They look rather like big
red Bumblebees in flight. Here is one feasting on
There were also the
silken cocoons attached to stems of grasses from which
fresh adults can be seen emerging which Malcolm
Phillips has recently captured on camera.
with two small chicks wason the river north of the
north bridge. Here is a beautiful male Azure
Damselfly which perched briefly for a photo on the
is in flower for the first time this year as is
Judging from the
masses of flowers on the Brambles in the north
west corner of the meadow, there will be a bumper crop
of Blackberries this year.
Grasses are the main
feature on Brook Meadow, with Tall Fescue
particularly dominant with its characteristic habit of
bending over to one side. But Reed Canary-grass
towers over all the others, prominent just north of
the causeway from the Lumley gate. The Festulolium
Hybrid can be easily recognised on the east side
of the north meadow south of Beryl's seat.
I was very pleased to
find some Toad Rush on the cross path from the
Lumley gate, which had been avoiding me so far this
year. Grid Ref: SU 75139 06017. Sharp-flowered Rush is
also just starting to flower.
flowering on the Emsworth Railway Wayside were
Great Willowherb, Creeping Thistle and Spear
had a walk around the Hampshire Farm site today. He
says, although there is still no sign as to when it
will be officially opened, people are walking there
quite freely. He walked up to the top end bordering
Long Copse Lane where the grass was very thick and
tall. He was delighted to see a pair of Roe deer again
after a long break. He also spotted three Skylarks,
which he has not seen there for more than two years.
JUNE 14 - 2014
I happened to
catch sight of the Mute Swan rising briefly from her
'litter nest' on the town millpond near the bridge to
reveal no less then 6 eggs. This is two more than the
four I saw on June 11th which suggests she is still
laying! I had predicted June 22nd for hatching, but
that could well be much longer.
5-spot Burnet Moth that Malcolm Phillips had on Brook
Meadow yesterday, thanks to Ralph Hollins for pointing
out that the standard Five Spot Burnet is nowadays
almost extinct in Hampshire and what we see is the
Narrow-bordered Five Spot. For comments on the Narrow
Bordered species see http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0171.php
informed me that Barry Collins has already seen Silver
Washed Fritillaries in Havant Thicket (on June 13) and
it appears that one of this years 'English'
Swallowtails has been seen in East Hampshire at Four
Marks on June 12 - both species might appear locally.
Ralph summarises recent butterfly 'firsts in Hants and
Sussex ' ...
June 8 Silver-Studded Blue
June 10 White-Letter Hairstreak at IBM Cosham
June 11 Dark Green Fritillary
June 12 Silver Washed Fritillary and Small Skipper
June 13 Ringlet
reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife
For full report see . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2014.htm
Just a quick
note to say how deeply honoured I am to have been
awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) on the Queen's
Birthday Honours List for my conservation work -
mainly on Brook Meadow. I am immensely proud of what
has been achieved on the site by all the volunteers
and advisors and would like to thank all of them for
their help and sterling efforts over the years. The
medal is really as much theirs as mine. I am deeply
grateful for all the work they have done (and continue
to do) to create such an attractive site, crammed with
wildlife and so well loved by the local community.
It's a great testamount to them all. Thanks!
PS The Portsmouth News got it wrong in today's issue
of the paper - the award is a BEM and not a MBE. See .
. . http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/queen-s-birthday-honours-emsworth-conservationist-wins-mbe-1-6119427
JUNE 13 - 2014
Phillips had an interesting time on the meadow today.
He saw a Water Vole about 30ft up river from the south
bridge then to his surprise a small Water Vole
climbed up a branch and sat about 1ft above the
water eating the leaves. Unfortunately, Malcolm could
not get a reasonable photo of this vole.
Another interesting sighting was of a couple of
5-spot Burnet Moths feeding on a Red
and another one just
emerging from its cocoon
provided the following news up date from the
"As expected, a few black-headed gull chicks
have made their somewhat shaky first airborne
excursions (they can hardly be called 'flights') and,
thanks to freshening winds, many of them ended in
angry and seemingly rather violent responses from the
gulls in neighbouring territories after emergency
landings were needed. It's a tough life out there.
Within the next few weeks, it is likely that many
youngsters will be honing their flying skills by
flying over the lagoon and Stoke Bay.
It will probably be at
least three weeks before Mediterranean gull
youngsters are doing likewise, but most of their
chicks seem to be OK, presently (a bit of rainfall
inland might be helpful!).
are being very late this year in starting nesting (at
least at the Oysterbeds' site) and it is strongly
suspected that there is a shortage of suitable prey
fish. In most years, common terns are well settled-in
to nesting by the end of the first week in June. This
year, at the Oysterbeds, common tern numbers are still
increasing daily and although some of the birds seem
to be probably on eggs (with the partner out fishing
for suitable prey), many of them are acting as
territorial pairs with little indication of the males
Moreover, speculation of a food shortage seems to be
backed up by a recent Langstone Harbour small-fish
survey and the RSPB Site Manager Wez Smith's
observations of little terns bringing in Gobies
(silver fish good - brown fish bad - OK I mean silvery
fish not Silverfish!!). Assuming that silvery Herring
sprats will reach their normally very high numbers
(typically the most common prey item for the harbour's
terns), it is hoped that the terns will have a very
good breeding season. However, at the Oysterbeds, it
is probably very much to the common terns' advantage
to have a late breeding season (less territorial
completion from the black-headed gulls that will be
increasingly leaving the island as their youngsters
become skilled fliers). Observations from a telescope
and zooming in on long-range photos suggest that there
might be at c42 pairs of common terns - 14 pairs
inside the curved East island; 22 pairs on the north
side of the straight West island and 6 pairs on the
south side of the latter island.
There are still two pairs of oystercatchers on
the west side of the curved island and one pair on the
north side of the straight island.
JUNE 12 - 2014
I spent the
morning working on the Bridge Road Wayside. I cut back
overhanging brambles, replaced the old conservation
area notice with a new one, did a litter pick and
cleaned and updated the signcase. I also did a quick
survey of the plants growing in the Westbrook Stream
where I was pleased to find Plicate Sweet-grass and
Stone Parsley. However, there was no sign of any
Narrow-leaved Water-plantain, though I have seen a
couple of plants further upstream outside of the
official wayside. The total number of plants found on
the site so far this year stands at 117 from an
all-time total of 192.
My wife was
working in the garden this afternoon when she came
across two of these highly colourful caterpillars
feeding a Verbascum plant.
They are the larvae of
the Mullein Moth and are fairly common in gardens; we
have certainly seen them before. The adult moths are
very dull in comparison with the caterpillars, a pale
straw colour and remarkably twig-like, and hence are
very rarely seen.
Phillips spent some time round the meadow today and
saw a good selection of butterflies, including Orange
Tip (getting towards the end), Red Admiral, Large
Skipper, Speckled Wood and Comma (first of the summer
I had a
message from Peter Gray to say there are/were over 100
Bee Orchids opposite flat 245 Eastern Road, Portsmouth
which have been marked by the council with
white-topped posts. It must be a good year for them?
JUNE 11 - 2014
I cycled up to
the Emsworth Recreation Ground this morning to collect
a specimen of the unusual grass that Martin Rand
thought could be a hybrid between Perennial Ryegrass
and Giant Fescue ie xSchedolium
brinkmannii (previously Festulolium). This is
a rare hybrid, having been recorded only twice before
I located a small
amount in the same place on the rough track to the
north of the recreation ground close to the gate
leading to Horndean Road at Grid Ref: SU 74607 06825.
There was not much of
it (about 8 spikes) but I found a plant with leaves
and posted it to Martin with a proper stamp (not like
last time when he had to collect it from the post
office and pay £1).
There is a variety of grasses growing along the track
and I listed the following: Soft Brome, Wall Barley,
Yorkshire Fog, Crested Dog's-tail, Perennial Ryegrass,
Red Fescue, Cocksfoot, Timothy, Barren Brome. There
was plenty of Perennial Ryegrass, but I did not see
any Giant Fescue. There was some Red Fescue, though
the mystery grass appeared to associate most closely
with Wall Barley which is another grass with very long
awns. Could Perennial Ryegrass hybridise with
I made a nice collection of the other grasses growing
there for a display in a vase at home. Grasses do make
such excellent displays.
I found quite
a few Hedge Bindweed flowers open on the Lumley
area. Hedge Bindweed can be distinguished from Large
Bindweed by the fact that the brownish bracts beneath
the petals do not overlap as they do in Large
While looking at the
bindweed flowers, I came across another Bee
Orchid on the east side of the Lumley area close
to where one has been seen in previous years, though
not since 2011. Grid Ref: SU 75137 06040. It is right
next to a tall flowering Hemlock Water-dropwort about
5 metres in from the round path and south of the large
Goat Willow. This makes a total of six Bee Orchids on
Brook Meadow this year, though I have yet to find the
one that Malcolm Phillips marked on the centre meadow.
The record for the meadow is 12 in 2009.
I saw the first Meadow Brown of the year on the
orchid area of the north meadow.
Malcolm Phillips had a
quick look round this morning but did not see much of
interest. However, he did get a nice shot of this
rather fine Greenfinch - always good to see and
The pen swan
is sitting tight on its tower of a nest on the town
millpond near the bridge. I think she started brooding
the four eggs around May 17, so 36 days from then
would predict June 22 for hatching. So, there is
another week or so to go.
Over on Peter Pond, the Mute Swan family from the nest
on Slipper Millpond still has two cygnets, having lost
no more in the past couple of days. Fingers crossed.
I had some
good finds on the Bridge Road Wayside site this
afternoon. The best was a Pyramidal Orchid,
just one plant opening immediately behind the
conservation area notice. This is a first for this
wayside and a first for all waysides.
A Bee Orchid
was another good find, north of the Goat Willow,
though we had three in this location last year.
Other plants in flower
- Sulphur Cinquefoil in the same place as last year
south of the Goat Willow. Common Knapweed, Nipplewort,
Wood Avens, False Brome, Yorkshire Fog, Perennial
Ryegrass (including one of the dense forms like that
found on the Emsworth Recreation Ground), Ladies
Bedstraw (not quite in flower),
photographed this hoverfly in his conservatory this
morning. Chris's identification of the fly as
Volucella zonaria looks right to me. It
is the largest hoverfly in Britain at some 20mm and is
often known as the Hornet Mimic hoverfly from its
resemblance to a Hornet, though it is quite harmless
and has no sting.
Compare Chris's photo on the left with that of a
Hornet I took in Hollybank Woods on June 7th on the
The larvae of
Volucella zonaria live as commensals in
nests of social wasps of the genus Vespula. Prior to
1940 this hoverfly was rare in Britain, but in recent
years has become increasingly widespread in Southern
England, often in parks and gardens, where adults are
seen visiting flowers. Elsewhere in England, only a
few scattered records exist. Like all Volucella, the
adults are migratory.
tagged Hampshire Cuckoos
reported on Hoslist today that four Cuckoos have been
caught and tagged in the Bolderwood area of the New
Forest. Two of the Cuckoos have been named.
Gilbert (named after Gilbert White) has stayed
within a fairly small area of the Forest until
recently when he headed up to the far north-east
corner of the Forest.
Peter (named after Peter Conder who undertook
one of the first studies of a migrant bird whilst in a
PoW camp during the Second World War) is the first
tagged Cuckoo to leave the UK this year. By 8th June
he was in northern France and he has continued
south-east to reach central France by yesterday.
Although this is early for Cuckoos to start migrating,
in previous years Cuckoos have left as early as 3
The other two Hampshire tagged Cuckoos have not yet
been named (waiting for sponsors) and are currently
known by their tag numbers: 134956 has mooched around
the Forest since being tagged. 134962's movements do
not yet appear on the web site.
These Cuckoos and all the others can be followed on
the BTO web site at . . . http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking
. . . This is a great site to track the birds.
Interestingly, there is a Cuckoo named Emsworthy,
though it has nothing to do with our home town, but
rather Emsworthy Mire in Devon, where the bird was
Members of the
Sussex Ornithological Society have recently been
getting steamed up over the issue of linking corvids
(e.g., Magpies) with the decline in songbird
populations in general. But really there is no need
for discussion since the major ornithological
societies have concluded after much research that
there is no relationship between corvid populations
and that of songbirds.
For example, the BTO study in 2010 analysed data
collected over a period of 40 years looking at 30
species of songbird and seven predator species. It
found very few significant relationships between
growth in predator populations and declines in
songbird populations. The conclusion was that Magpies
and others have little or no effect on the overall
country-wide populations of songbirds, which is most
likely the result of changes in land use and other
See . . . http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?print=1&a=1982
The RSPB came to a similar conclusion that Magpies
have no overall effect on garden bird populations. It
says that corvids have always lived alongside
songbirds. Songbirds cope with predation by having
lots of chicks so that some survive to adulthood. It
argues that there is no evidence to support claims
that corvids are responsible for songbird decline and
that changes in farming methods are most likely to
See . . . http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/m/magpie/effect_on_songbirds.aspx
Personally, I am constantly having to come to the
defence of bird predators, such as Sparrowhawk and
Magpie, when people blame them as unwanted 'pests' for
taking their garden birds. I usually reply that if you
put food out to attract birds, then they will attract
predators in the natural scheme of things. After all,
small birds are also predators of insects and they
don't seem to be suffering! My general rule is not to
evaluate the natural world in human terms, ie there
are no goods or bads, they are all just part of the
big ecological scheme.
JUNE 10 - 2014
Ralph Hollins's lead from yesterday, Jean and I had a
walk around Fort Purbrook this morning to have a look
at the orchids. What a magnificent show they were with
literally thousands of bright Pyramidal Orchids and
hundreds of Common Spotted Orchids, along the path in
front of the fort. Neither of us recall having seen
quite so many before. We also found just two Bee
Orchids, though one of these had seven open flowers.
Other flowers on show
included Kidney Vetch, Bladder Campion, Salad Burnet,
Small Scabious, Knapweed Broomrape, Rough Hawkbit and
Rosebay Willowherb - the latter towards the end of the
path. Here are photos of some of them.
The main grasses
lining the path were Upright Brome and Quaking
The only insect of special note was a pale yellow
caterpillar with black marks. From my guides I
discovered it was the larva of either the 5- or 6-spot
Burnet Moth which feed on trefoils and vetches.
So, clearly, it is in the right place.
Phillips had some good news about the Moorhen family
near the observation fence that he thought was down to
only one chick yesterday. This morning he found both
adults with 5 chicks, which must have been hiding
yesterday. He also saw a Water Vole near the south
bridge. But, most interesting, was a dragonfly which,
from Malcolm's photo, looks like a female Migrant
Brian Lawrence had a
stroll around the meadow today and along the lane by
Gooseberry Cottage he came across lots of Burnet
Moths and got this unique photo of a couple of
I sent photos
of the three mystery grasses from yesterday's waysides
survey to Martin Rand (the South Hants Botanical
Recorder) for his help. He replied as follows:
"I agree, this one is a dense version of Perennial
Ryegrass - Lolium perenne
"This one is not
Nit-grass. No sign of the shining glume bases, the
overall shape of the inflorescence and the colour and
form of the spikelets is wrong. I think this is nowt
but a quite elongated inflorescence of Sweet
Vernal-grass - Anthoxanthum
"This is the
interesting one. I am fairly sure this is one of
the rarer hybrids between a Fescue and a Ryegrass
(formerly xFestulolium, now xSchedolium).
With awns like that,
the possibilities are a hybrid with Lolium
multiflorum (Italian Ryegrass) or a hybrid
involving Schedonorus giganteus (Giant
Fescue). Because the awns are so long, I favour the
latter, i.e xSchedolium brinkmannii,
which has only been recorded twice before in the
county. If you can collect a specimen comprising a
complete flowering stem with stem leaves, and any
basal leaves that are present, then I will get it
determined by an expert." That I shall do.
JUNE 9 - 2014
Jane Brook and
I resumed our weekly surveys of the Emsworth waysides
after a break of a couple of weeks. The weather was
fine and warm. We covered three of the 17 waysides.
Highlights as follows for each wayside with the total
number of species discovered this year in brackets.
Bee Orchid - in flower in much the same area as last
year. Field Bindweed - flowers with pink
stripes on the back of white flowers. My first of the
Timothy - another
first of the year, though I was to see more on the
other waysides. Common Ragwort in flower.
Knotted Hedge-parsley - a first for this
wayside next to the roadsign. Grid Ref: SU 74860
Smooth Brome? - with a longer looser panicle than Soft
Brome and branched spikelets.
Lesser Swine-cress - by the council cuttings tip.
Creeping Bent-grass - on the grassland west of the
bowling green with red flushed panicles still tightly
Turkey Oak - with downy twigs and longer, narrower,
more pointed and more deeply jagged leaves than the
regular English Oak. Blackthorn - continues to
encroach onto the grassland behind the bowling
Timothy - A good crop on this wayside.
Meadow Barley - same as in previous years, in the
north west corner close to the White Poplars. Grid
Ref: SU 74492 06725.
Hairy Buttercup - flowering as before on the track to
the Horndean Road gate.
Crested Dog's-tail - A new grass for this site, near
the northern fence. There were also several small
tufts of this grass on the rough track to the Horndean
We found three mystery grasses on the Emsworth
Recreation Ground site. Two of these were on the rough
track to the Horndean Road. I shall ask Martin Rand
One on the left in the photo looked like a rye grass
with long awns - possibly Italian Ryegrass?
The one on the right looked like a dense version of
Perennial Ryegrass. Both at Grid Ref: SU 74609 06825.
The third mystery grass was close to the council
cutting tip. It had narrow, shining, cylindrical
panicles, pointed at the top - possibly Nit Grass?
This is native in calcareous grasslands, but is
regarded as a casual weed of arable or waste ground.
Greater Burdock - Good to see this rare plant coming
back on the verge by the pony field after it was
completely cut down last winter by the council.
Meadow Barley - A new plant for this wayside just
north of the metal gate to the track that runs
alongside to the railway.
Creeping Thistle - There is an amazing growth of
Creeping Thistle on the embankment outside Glenwood
School, some of it a good 6 feet tall. Blamey, Fitter
and Fitter say it can grow to 2 metres or more.
Large Bindweed - the first flower of the year on the
Glenwood School embankment.
Phillips observed that the pair of Moorhens by the
observation fence now only have one chick remaining.
Here it is.
Malcolm also got a
photo of a colourful moth Pyrausta aurata
that is often mistaken for a butterfly. It is
in fact fairly common on Brook Meadow and has been
recorded a number of times before.
had a short little walk to Langstone Mill Pond late
this morning (11:45am to 1pm). He walked in via Wade
Lane and the highlights were as follows:
Wade Lane: 3+ Swallows (a lady working on the horses
told him that the out buildings had 4 Swallow's
nests), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, 2
Mistle Thrush, Blackcap (2 singing).
Mill Pond: 2 Reed Warbler still singing, Reed Bunting
calling, Pair of Tufted Duck, Gadwall male, Coot pair
with three chicks, Mallard - two broods successful so
far (4 very grown up and a new young brood of seven),
Moorhen - one pair with three very grown up
youngsters. The family of Mute Swans returned for a
short visit from Langbrook Stream (just five cygnets
Grey Herons: 4 juvs still in the nest at the top of
the Holm Oak. No sign of the 3 grown juvs lower down -
Probably have left!
Little Egret fledglings everywhere. Peter
counted 32 of them! Here is one Peter caught on
Off shore (low tide):
Brent Goose still enjoying his summer holidays, Now 5
Shelduck, 5 Great Crested Grebes (in summer plumage -
failed breeders), 4 Common Terns, 2 Med Gulls (both
unusually first summer - one with a black hood, the
told me there was a Mute Swan family at Nore Barn
this morning with 4 cygnets. I have no idea where
they came from.
JUNE 8 - 2014
Phillips went round the meadow this morning and saw
two Water Voles by the south bridge again. This
seems to be the only spot on the river that the voles
are active currently.
Malcolm also got a good image of what I think is a
female Common Darter - our first of the year on
Brook Meadow. My only doubt about this one is the
apparently all dark legs; Common Darter has yellow
stripes on its legs. Could it be a Ruddy Darter?
Malcolm got another
interesting photo of what I assume to be a female
Banded Demoiselle egg-laying on a leaf, though the
wings of the insect seem particularly dark for a
Also, while pursuing a
butterfly on the south meadow Malcolm came across
another Bee Orchid which we have not previously
recorded. He has put a small stick to mark it, but I
shall need to ask him where precisely it is. This
would be our 5th Bee Orchid this year.
Peter Pond this afternoon, I noticed that the Mute
Swan family was down to two cygnets from the seven
that were originally hatched on May 26.
Meanwhile, over on
Slipper Millpond I could clearly see a Great
Black-backed Gull on the centre raft with one
chick. However, when I looked at my photo I think I
could see a second chick hiding behind the first which
I have not seen before.
A Reed Warbler was
singing from the reeds in the north-east corner of the
Jean and I had
a stroll around Thornham Point from Prinsted on a very
warm morning. Our best sighting of the morning was a
Honeysuckle bush in full flower at the end of Thornham
JUNE 7 - 2014
Jean and I had
a walk through this lovely woodland to the north of
Emsworth on a perfect summer afternoon. We met Wally
and Rosemary Osborne who were also out enjoying the
peaceful woods. The birds were singing, the sun
glinted through the leaves of the trees and
Foxgloves were superb with flower spikes
towering above the rampant Bracken.
Bird song included
Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren, Blackbird, Song
Butterflies were fairly scarce, though we did see Red
Admiral, Brimstone and this superb Speckled
Wood which posed long enough for a photo near the
Lawton seat on the eastern bridleway.
The best sighting of
the walk was undoubtedly a magnificent Hornet
that we saw moving around on the cleared area to the
north of the old Holly Lodge clearing. It was not easy
to photograph as it was constantly on the move, but
here's my best shot.
Wood Speedwell and
Remote Sedge were abundant along the main paths. I
also noted the fairly scarce Southern Wood-rush on the
centre track which I previously recorded here on April
23rd. Wood Millet was also out along the main track.
Phillips stood on the south bridge for about 2 hours
this morning hoping to see the two Water Voles again,
but only saw one. He was rewarded with a fine image of
Malcolm's vigil was
not entirely solitary, as he had a couple of
Chaffinches to keep him company, including this
One often sees
Mallard ducks and drakes in Bridge Road car park near
the stream, but we have never had them in our Bridge
Road garden until today, that is, when four of them
arrived and remained on the grass for about 15
minutes. They included one female pursued by three
gives an update on the seabird breeding at the
"There are now lots of Black-headed Gull chicks
of varied shapes and sizes on the two islands in
the Hayling Oysterbeds' lagoon. Inevitably, a few
chicks have been lost, particularly those that venture
onto the lagoon waters during very windy conditions;
they get blown across the lagoon to the shorelines
where they are easy pickings for the ever-vigilant
local crows. However, the overall productivity might
well be very good this year.
Although it is not
easy to see all of the nest sites of the
Mediterranean gulls, the chicks seem to be
thriving. The recent unsettled weather further inland
has probably resulted in these gulls finding
sufficient supplies of earthworms to feed themselves
and their chicks. Every day, a few noisy pairs of
Mediterranean gulls fly over the site; they are most
likely pairs that have failed and are therefore
potential predators of small chicks.
There are now at least
14 pairs of Common Terns attempting nesting on
the two islands (two pairs on the west side of the
curved island, ten pairs on the north side of the
straight island and two pairs on the south side of the
straight island). Unfortunately, it is likely that at
least one of the pairs will fail by tidal flooding
during next week's spring tides; but as this will be
failure at the egg stage, there is a very good chance
that they will re-lay .
The recent strong
winds have made it very difficult for the harbour's
common and little terns to find food in the more
turbulent and turbid sea. It was good to see a
Little Tern roosting on the leeward side of the
straight island on Fri 6th June; but it is very
unlikely that nesting will occur here.
There are probably
three active Oystercatcher nests on the site,
two on the west side of the curved island and one on
the north side of the straight island. The nest on the
east side of the curved island has failed for reasons
unknown - but oystercatchers are renowned for taking a
break and strolling away from their nests, leaving the
JUNE 6 - 2014
is a snap I made of the monitor showing the female
bird and the chicks (not too clearly)
Jean and I had
planned to go to Stansted for a walk and coffee, but
the road to the estate was completely jammed up with
traffic going to the Garden Show. Never seen anything
like it. So, we carried on to Chichester where we
walked around the walls and had coffee in the
Cathedral cafe. The RSPB had their usual Peregrine
watch stall set up in the cafe garden with telescopes
trained on the turret where the birds were nesting and
a live web cam showing the nest. One of the volunteers
manning the stall explained that this year they had a
new pair of Peregrines, the previous pair having been
ousted. However, it was probably the new pair's first
nesting and only two chicks had been produced, with
one egg not hatched. In previous years the Peregrines
have usually produced 3 or 4 chicks. The webcam showed
the female in the nest tending to the two chicks which
were about 3 weeks old. Graham Roberts would be
ringing the chicks in about a week's time. Neither of
the new pair of adults were ringed, so they were not
the young of previous years.
The live web came can be seen on line at . . .
Phillips had some excellent news today with two Water
Voles beneath the south bridge. One was feeding on the
east bank close to the bridge; the second swam across
from east to west both in view at the same time. Here
is one of the voles that Malcolm got a photo of.
That takes the total
sightings for this year to 36, which is well below
that of recent years at this date. Water Voles are
certainly scarce this year following the winter
flooding of the river banks.
is Jill's excellent close-up photo of one of the Bee
I went over to
the meadow this afternoon mainly to look at the new
Bee Orchid that Jill Stanley found while taking photos
yesterday. We now have four Bee Orchid flower spikes
in the same small area in the centre of the orchid
area at SU 75066 06140. A little worryingly, there are
now some very well worn paths across the orchid area
to the orchids from both the east and the west paths.
I suppose this is inevitable given the publicity I
have been giving the plants, but none of the orchids
has been damaged.
I had another
look at the Great Burnet plants which have now
increased in number. Today, I counted 28 flowering
spikes, which is a large increase on the 12 that was
present last year. Here are a few of the flowers, but
not easy to photograph.
Finally I had
a mooch around on the low river bank in Palmer's Road
Copse which was totally flooded for several weeks in
the winter. There are a lot of Blue Water-speedwell
plants now in flower. Most of the flower spikes appear
to have less than 20 flowers, though some have up to
30 like the one shown in the following photo.
This suggests the
possibility that the plants are the pure form of Blue
anagallis-aquatica) and not the hybrid
Veronica x Lackschewitzii. Plants at Grid Ref: SU
Pete Selby, the late BSBI South Hants Recorder, told
me a rule of thumb was if the flower spike had more
than 20 flowers then it was probably the hybrid and
not the pure form of Blue Water-speedwell. The Plant
Crib (1998 p. 263) gives a mean of 25 flowers (range
15-40) for the pure form and a mean of 60 (range 30-90
for the hybrid.
The Gipsywort plants also growing on the west
river bank and now exceed 1m tall, which is the limit
stated by Blamey, et al.
I spotted this
colourful Froghopper (Cercopsis
vulnerata) (?) hiding in the dense vegetation
by the "Lumley puddle" on Brook Meadow. These insects
have been seen several times in previous years on
Brook Meadow. Today, it was doing a good imitation of
the Tortoise Beetles that have been seen around the
Warblers were singing from the reedbeds on Peter Pond
where the Mute Swan family still has 3 cygnets
One Great Black-backed Gull was on the centre raft on
Slipper Millpond with one chick. I am now fairly sure
there is only one chick this year.
I was surprised to
find the two Coot families on the pond, each with
three chicks, having lost one only chick from the
original broods. Maybe, the gulls are not so predatory
this year, having only one chick to feed. Last year
they had three.
JUNE 5 - 2014
Jean and I
spent the morning and early afternoon going round the
Titchfield Haven reserve. It was interesting to see
the reserve again as I had not been there for several
years. There was one new hide on the eastern side of
the reserve - Meadow Hide overlooking the wet meadows
which were a glorious kaleidoscope of colours with few
tall grasses. Oh that Brook Meadow were like this.
I was interested in the 8 Avocets and 3 chicks
that were on the sightings board. The lady
receptionist said that numbers varied from one day to
the next, but breeding has been going on for several
years. We actually saw three adult Avocets on the
western scrapes, but no sign of chicks. Here is a
photo of two of the adults.
The dominant nesting
birds on the eastern scrapes were Black-headed
Gulls which were everywhere and very noisy - not
unlike Hayling Oysterbeds! We spotted a few Common
Terns here and there, but, as on the oysterbeds, they
had seriously lost out to the gulls.
Also on the scrapes
were a couple of Oystercatcher families and some
Shelduck, but little else of special interest.
The best birds of the day for us were the 80+
Swifts that were hawking over the meadows.
Birds heard singing included Reed Warbler, Cetti's
Warbler, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and a
I was interested to read that Water Voles had
been introduced into Titchfield Haven in the summer of
2013. They survived the floods in the winter and
sightings have been had around the reserve this
spring. There are plans to introduce more along the
We bumped into Dave Savage who was helping to lead a
wild flower walk around the reserve. We did not, in
fact, see many flowers apart from Hemlock
Water-dropwort which seemed to be everywhere. However,
I did spot some Lesser Spearwort and Celery-leaved
We also met Jeff (from HBC) who used to set up his
hide on the banks of the river on Brook Meadow for 10
hour vigils looking for Water Voles. Jeff has now
retired from the council and does not get over to
Emsworth, but still monitors the Peregrines nesting in
Finally, from the hides on the eastern side of the
reserve, we got a good view of the Red Arrows
display for the D-day activities in Southsea.
is the first male Large Skipper recorded this year on
Phillips had a good day on Brook Meadow with his
trusty camera and got some superb shots.
Malcolm also got both
male and female Banded Demoiselles.
Here they are side by side for comparison. What
And . . . a Small
Tortoiseshell in flight with a Bumblebee feeding on
A competition winner?
JUNE 4 - 2014
Road - Swifts
We saw four
Swifts flying over the gardens at the back of Bridge
Road at about 8am this morning. Swifts have been seen
on and off for the past two weeks in this area, but
never more than four. However, it is early in the
season and I expect numbers to build up once breeding
gets underway (assuming it does) and youngsters start
- Clustered Clover
I went over to
the Warblington Underpass wayside, to have a look at
the very rare Clustered Clover (Trifolium
glomeratum) that Ralph Hollins found was
flowering on the central grass verge on May 31. The
flowers of this plant are embedded in the green sepals
of unstalked heads, giving it a 'clustered'
This is the only site
in south-east Hampshire where this plant grows and it
is definitely increasing. When Ralph first found it
several years ago there were only one or two plants,
but it has now become a dominant species over quite a
large area of the poor and shallow soil above the
tarmac of the old South Coast Trunk Road. It can
easily be seen on the southern edge of the central
grass verge. Grid Ref: SU 73139 06055.
A lady who was passing
by asked if I had found something rare and I said
'Yes'! She came over and was delighted and said she
would look it up in her book when she got home.
I also noted the Field Woundwort that is
flowering on the northern edge of the cycleway to the
Knapweed, Wild Carrot and Bladder Campion were in
flower for the first time this year on the Railway
Wayside. Also, flowering on the New Brighton Road
junction wayside was Common Ragwort. Saltmarsh Rush
was out the Dolphin Creek wayside.
I had a mooch
around the saltmarshes around the stream. I found
Common Sea-lavender, but not the rarer Lax-flowered
Sea-lavender which I have found here in previous
years. English Scurvygrass was still in flower, though
I found a number of plants with well developed seed
I did not find either
of the Sea-spurreys, but maybe they are not yet in
flower. All the other regular saltmarsh plants were
out including Sea Plantain, Thrift, Sea Wormwood, Sea
Beet, Grass-leaved Orache, Sea Purslane plus some very
red Red Fescue.
I found a few flowering plants of Rough Chervil
along the path to the west of Nore Barn Woods. Grid
Ref: SU 73576 05226. I always have a bit of difficulty
in separating this plant from Cow Parsley. Both are
white flowered umbellifers, but Rough Chervil flowers
later when most Cow Parsley is going to seed and it is
nowhere near so abundant. It differs mainly in its
rough, solid stems which are usually purple-spotted,
rather like Hemlock.
field - Sea Clover
I walked over
to the wet field at the head of Nore Barn channel to
have a look at the other clover that Ralph Hollins
recently reported namely, Sea Clover
(Trifolium squamosum). This
field is at the extreme south-east of Warblington Farm
in which the eastern stream feeds into a pond inside
the seawall and then out into the channel. I think
Ralph first found it here in June 2009 and it has been
recorded each year since then. It is a small clover
with pale pink flowers in short-stalked egg-shaped
heads with a pair of leaves at the base.
It grows in clusters
or mounds and I found a couple of them today to the
west of the pond. Here is one I found at Grid Ref: SU
In the southern
section of the field I found some plants with tiny
white flowers that looked a bit like Lesser Stitchwort
but not quite right. Looking at the plant at home the
plants could be Bog Stitchwort on the basis of
habitat, but I am not at all sure. I recall having the
same identification problems with a similar plant on
the South Moor on 10-Jun-2011. Grid Ref: SU 73592
The field is also very good for Divided Sedge, Sea
Arrowgrass and Saltmarsh Rush a lot of which was
flowering well today. I also saw what looked like
Sea Aster in flower which would be very early.
The Mute Swan
family still have three cygnets. They were sitting on
the east bank this afternoon with mum in close
attendance. A Great Black-backed Gull was on the
centre raft on Slipper Millpond, but no sign of the
Phillips had a quick walk through the meadow this
afternoon. He saw a Pike at the south bridge. While he
was there something swam across the river about 30ft
up from the bridge it was a rusty brown colour and
about one and a half times larger than a Water Vole
but Malcolm did not get a good view to identify it.
Possiblly a Brown Rat?
came across a photo of a rare beetle that looked very
much like the Fleabane Tortoise Beetles that we have
been getting on Brook Meadow. The photo in question
was of a rare beetle called Pilemostoma fastuosa
which also feeds on Fleabane! See . . .
Comparing the two photos, both beetles are red with
dark markings, but the pattern of marking differs
between the two.
Here they are side by side with the Brook Meadow
Fleabane Tortoise (Cassida murraea) on
JUNE 3 - 2014
Meadow grid refs
I went over to
the meadow this afternoon armed with my Garmin GPS
meter to take grid refs of the various interesting
plants I have recently found.
4 Common Spotted Orchids (north meadow) - SU 75066
1 Common Spotted Orchid (north meadow) - SU 75072
3 Bee Orchids (north meadow) - SU 75066 06140
17 Great Burnet (north meadow) - SU 75070 06129
4 Southern Marsh Orchids (north meadow) - SU 75069
1 Southern Marsh Orchid (Lumley area) - SU 75133
Meadow Barley (centre meadow) - SU 75094 06032
Smooth Brome (centre meadow)- SU 75095 06034
Meadow Foxtail ("Lumley puddle") - SU 75141 06011
Slender Spike-rush (Lumley area) - SU 75133 06033
Saltmarsh Rush (Lumley area) - SU 75133
I noticed a
tiny bright yellow Ladybird almost hidden in the
vegetation. It had the black markings characteristic
of a 14-spot Ladybird, though the markings of this
species are very variable. It was not until I looked
at the photo on my computer screen that I realised
there were two Ladybirds one on top of the other,
Swan on the town millpond was on her 'litter nest'
by the bridge.
The Mute Swan
family on Peter Pond is now down to 3 cygnets from
4 that was there when I last checked on May 30. Seven
cygnets were originally hatched from the nest on
Slipper Millpond on May 26, but they had gradually
been reduced to the current three. The Great
Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond must be the
Over on Slipper
Millpond, both adult Great Black-backed Gulls
were on the pond; one was on the north raft and the
other was on the nesting centre raft along with one
chick. I watched the raft for about 15 mins during
which the adult and chick moved around quite a lot,
but there was no sign at all of any other chicks. My
feeling is that there is now only one Great
Black-backed Gull chick on the raft.
Phillips had his usual photo session on Brook Meadow
yesterday. I have picked out this rather fine male
House Sparrow for the blog as these birds are regular
visitors to the brambles in the north west corner of
the meadow. I think they must nest in the houses in
the Sultan Road complex overlooking the Seagull Lane
was at Prinsted where he got this nice photo of two
Roe Deer. Roe Deer's summer coat is brown with a buff
patch on the rump. Its black nose and white chin show
particularly well on Brian's photo. Roe Deer are often
see from the Prinsted seawall.
Ralph Hollins pointed
out that the Hampshire Butterfly News is now to be
found in a revised and improved format at . .
JUNE 2 - 2014
I spent about
an hour this afternoon looking around the orchid area
in the north meadow. I found yet another Fleabane
Tortoise Beetle on the Common Fleabane. This is
the third recorded over the past week. They appear to
have discovered the site as a good source of food!
is one of the purple Common Spotted Orchids next to a
Marsh Orchids remain 9 in number (plus the one in
the Lumley area)and seem unlikely to increase any
further. We also had 10 last year, so no increase.
However, I did manage to locate two of our other
'missing' orchids, neither of which was found last
First I found a small group of four Common Spotted
Orchids in the northern section of the orchid area
in much the same place as they have been in earlier
years. I found another Common Spotted Orchid spike
with much paler flowers right next to a clump of
Meadowsweet in the southern section. Common Spotted
Orchids do vary from white to pale/dark purple.
After a bit for
searching, I managed to locate a couple of Bee
Orchids in the centre of the orchid area, one of
which had a fully open flower. They were not
conspicuous and I nearly trod on them in the longish
grass. Pam Phillips, who was passing by at the time,
spotted another Bee Orchid spike nearby, so that makes
three. These were the first recorded on Brook Meadow
But the most
exciting find of the morning was a small colony of
Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)
which I found in roughly the same place as last year,
in the southern end of the orchid area just west of a
clump of Meadowsweet. I counted 16 plants, each with
dull crimson elongated flower heads. Note: all the
flowers on Great Burnet are bisexual with 4 short
stamens and an undivided stigma. The yellow male
anthers can be seen at the top of the flower head in
the photo. In contrast, the upper flowers of the
similar Salad Burnet are female with 2 red-purple
feathery stigmas; the male flowers are in the lower
part of the flower head.
Commenting on the
discovery of Great Burnet last year Martin Rand said
as a native in South Hampshire it is confined to the
New Forest where it's one of several "hay meadow"
constituents of base-rich flushed heathland in the
south of the Forest. There are no records in our area.
As to its presence on Brook Meadow Martin thought it
was likely to be a recent introduction. The native
plant is found mainly in Wales, The Midlands and North
England with only a small pocket in the New Forest in
Hampshire. Also, it does not occur at all in the Isle
of Wight flora!
said the Hedgehog that he has been caring for over the
winter was released last night when the guinea pig run
came off and has not returned. "Hopefully he has just
decided to have a wander and nothing untowards has
happened to him. We will keep the camera going in
various locations to see if we get to spot him at some
stage. He was 940 grams at the last weigh-in so is a
Graham also has another Hedgehog visiting his garden
which he thinks is a female with a hoglet. The
youngster can just be seen in the photo on the
mother's left shoulder.
Quite a few
people are reporting Stag Beetles just recently. Ralph
Hollins photographed male and female heads on May
Last night Graham Petrie said he saw the biggest stag
beetle he has ever seen in flight attempting to make
it over the garden fence when a juvenile blackbird
came out of nowhere and took it mid-flight.
Today, Peter Milinets-Raby had a male Stag Beetle on
the side of his garden shed and here it is.
Milinets-Raby took a walk along Wade Lane to the
Langstone Mill Pond this morning (10:15am to 12:10pm).
The highlights were as follows;
Wade Lane: Horse paddock with all the horses 3 Song
Thrush, Mistle Thrush, female Great Spotted Woodpecker
feeding on grass and male flew over. 4+ Goldfinch, 27
Starlings, 2 Blackcap still singing.
partially flooded paddock north of pond: 7 Stock
Doves, 25 Starling, 2 Moorhen.
Pond: 3 singing Reed warblers, Reed Bunting calling,
Tufted Duck male, 2 Med Gulls over, 2 Stock Doves.
Grey Herons: All three nests with young. Top of
Holm Oak: Four young - very active with lots of wing
flapping and squabbling. The nest lower down Holm Oak
was occupied with a very grown juvenile hidden away in
the foliage - the other two could have been present?
The third nest (southern one) is not visible at all.
However, peeking through the foliage I managed to see
the head of a very young grey Heron chick - so at
least this nest has been successful as
Everywhere! Youngsters out of nests begging and
squabbling for food. I counted 8 nests with 2 young in
each and at least 8 youngsters out of nests loitering
in the trees. The overgrown foliage makes it
impossible to tell what is the true picture!
Off Shore (Low tide): 3 Shelduck, 4 Little Egrets
feeding with Grey Heron, 3 Common Tern, Sandwich Tern,
Little Tern, 2 Curlew, And our loitering Brent Goose
still feeding on eel grass on the island in the middle
of the channel.
JUNE 1 - 2014
I went over to
Brook Meadow for the regular Sunday morning work
session. The weather was fine and warm and 15 people
were in attendance. Jennifer Rye explained the tasks
for the day which included clearing overhanging
vegetation from the main paths, clearing the river of
rubbish, cutting a path through the Seagull Lane patch
and general litter picking.
willow seeds are snowing down onto the meadow and
drifting into corners.
Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were singing strongly around
the meadow. I only heard one Whitethroat.
I was pleased to find a good patch of Meadow
Barley, the first of the year, on the centre
In the same area I
could see a good growth of Hairy Sedge which is
relatively scarce on Brook Meadow. This is a good area
of relatively low grassland with only few areas of
Fescues. Nearby, I found a couple of patches of what
could be Smooth Brome (Bromus
racemosus) with a looser panicle and drooping
more to one side than with the more common Soft Brome.
While showing David
Search the rare Slender Spike-rush on the Lumley area
I noticed a good growth of Saltmarsh Rush which
I have not managed to find on the meadow since
As David and I were taking grid refs for the Southern
Marsh Orchids on the north meadow we came across
another Fleabane Tortoise Beetle appropriately
on a Common Fleabane leaf.
David took it home
with him to confirm the identification. He also
confirmed that this was a new species for our records
for Brook Meadow. This is very surprising as Common
Fleabane is abundant on the meadow. But maybe we shall
see more now they have discovered the site. This was
the second such beetle to be found here recently as I
had one on May 30.
Warblers were singing on Peter Pond this morning
for the first time this year, one from the northern
reedbeds and one from the reeds in the south west
There is a mystery plant with a cluster of pale
blue flowers at the top of a hairy stem. The leaves
are feathery rather like Common Stork's-bill, though I
don't think it is that.
The Mute Swan
family on Peter Pond are now down to 4 cygnets,
from the 5 that were there yesterday.
Black-backed Gull was perched on the centre raft
of Slipper Millpond, but I could not see any chicks,
though they could well have been hidden in the
luxuriant vegetation on the raft. Two pairs of Coot
were on the pond, but no sign of the two families of
four chicks that were here on May 23.
earlier observations go to . . May