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for June 1-15, 2014
in reverse chronological order

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MONDAY JUNE 16 - 2014

Emsworth waysides news
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 74370735.

Smooth 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.

Orange Tip caterpillar

Hampshire Farm
After 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 (Rose p.102).
I heard a Skylark singing from high in the sky, which is good news as it means they will be nesting there.
I saw just one butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell.

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?

Harvest Mouse
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.

Malcolm's photos 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 change.

Baffins Pond
Eric Eddles 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 ducklings also."

SUNDAY JUNE 15 - 2014

Millpond News
The pen 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 two?).
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.

Other news
Walking along 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.

Burnet Moths
Both 5-spot 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 Hemlock Water-dropwort.

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.

Brook Meadow
A Moorhen 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 Bramble path.

Large Bindweed is in flower for the first time this year as is Meadowsweet.

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.

Waysides News
Newly flowering on the Emsworth Railway Wayside were Great Willowherb, Creeping Thistle and Spear Thistle.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley 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.


Millpond News
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
Regarding the 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

Recent butterfly sightings
Ralph Hollins 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

Fort Purbrook
Ros Norton reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group:
For full report see . . .

Brook Meadow honour
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 . . .

FRIDAY JUNE 13 - 2014

Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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 Clover

and another one just emerging from its cocoon

Hayling Oysterbeds news
Chris Cockburn provided the following news up date from the oysterbeds:
"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!).

Common terns 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 out foraging.
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.


Bridge Road wayside
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.

Mullein moth
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.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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 brood?).

Bee Orchids galore
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?


Mystery Grass
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 in Hampshire.

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 that?
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.

Brook Meadow
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 Bindweed.

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 hear.

Millpond News
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.

Bridge Road Wayside
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),

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly
Chris Oakley 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 right.

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.

Satellite tagged Hampshire Cuckoos
Tony Davis 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 June.
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 . . . . . . 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 tagged.

Corvids and songbirds
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 habitat issues.
See . . .
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 blame.
See . . .
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.

TUESDAY JUNE 10 - 2014

Fort Purbrook
Following 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 Grass.
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.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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 Hawker.

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 them mating.

Mystery grasses
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 odoratum."

"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.

MONDAY 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.

New Brighton Road Junction (59)
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 year.


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 06525.


Emsworth Recreation Ground (65)
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 closed.
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 club.
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 Road gate

Mystery Grasses
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 about these.
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.

Washington Road path (77)
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.
Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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.


Langstone Mill Pond

Peter Milinets-Raby 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 left).
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 camera.

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 other without!).  

Other news
Pam Phillips told me there was a Mute Swan family at Nore Barn this morning with 4 cygnets. I have no idea where they came from.  

SUNDAY JUNE 8 - 2014

Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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 female.

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.

Hermitage Millponds
Passing by 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 pond.

Honeysuckle flowers
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 Lane.


Hollybank Woods
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 Thrush.
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.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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 the animal.

Malcolm's vigil was not entirely solitary, as he had a couple of Chaffinches to keep him company, including this magnificent male.

Ducks in garden
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 males.

Hayling Oysterbeds
Chris Cockburn gives an update on the seabird breeding at the Oysterbeds.
"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 eggs unprotected."

FRIDAY JUNE 6 - 2014

Chichester Peregrines
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 . . .

Here is a snap I made of the monitor showing the female bird and the chicks (not too clearly)

Water Voles
Malcolm 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.

Bee Orchids
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.

Here is Jill's excellent close-up photo of one of the Bee Orchids

Great Burnet
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.

Blue Water-speedwell
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 Water-speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica) and not the hybrid Veronica x Lackschewitzii. Plants at Grid Ref: SU 75060 05949.
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 meadow.

Hermitage Millponds
Two Reed Warblers were singing from the reedbeds on Peter Pond where the Mute Swan family still has 3 cygnets intact.
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.


Titchfield Haven
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 Cuckoo!
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 Meon Valley.
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 Buttercup.
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 Paulsgrove chalkpits.
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.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had a good day on Brook Meadow with his trusty camera and got some superb shots.

Here is the first male Large Skipper recorded this year on the meadow

Malcolm also got both male and female Banded Demoiselles.
Here they are side by side for comparison. What beautiful insects.
Male Banded Demoiselle
Female Banded Demoiselle

And . . . a Small Tortoiseshell in flight with a Bumblebee feeding on bramble flower
A competition winner?


Bridge 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 flying.

Warblington - 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' appearance.

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 Underpass.

Other waysides news
Common 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.

Nore Barn
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 pods.

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.

Warblington 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 73569 05120.

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 05018.
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.

Millpond News
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 chick(s).

Brook Meadow
Malcolm 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?

Rare Tortoise Beetle
Ralph Hollins 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 the left.


Brook 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 06162
1 Common Spotted Orchid (north meadow) - SU 75072 06127
3 Bee Orchids (north meadow) - SU 75066 06140
17 Great Burnet (north meadow) - SU 75070 06129
4 Southern Marsh Orchids (north meadow) - SU 75069 06148
1 Southern Marsh Orchid (Lumley area) - SU 75133 06032
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 06033

Ladybirds mating
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, clearly mating.

Millpond News
The Mute 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 prime suspects.

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.

House Sparrow
Malcolm 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 patch.

Roe Deer
Brian Lawrence 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.



Butterfly news

Ralph Hollins pointed out that the Hampshire Butterfly News is now to be found in a revised and improved format at . . 

MONDAY 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!

Southern 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 year.
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.

Here is one of the purple Common Spotted Orchids next to a Yellow Rattle

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 since 2011.

Great Burnet
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!

Hogboy the Hedgehog
Graham Petrie 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 good weight."
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.

Stag Beetles
Quite a few people are reporting Stag Beetles just recently. Ralph Hollins photographed male and female heads on May 31.
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.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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 well.

Little Egrets: 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.

SUNDAY 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.

The fluffy 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 meadow.

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 2008.
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.

Millpond News
Two Reed 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 corner.
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.

A Great 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.

For earlier observations go to . . May 16-31