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for June 16-23, 2014
in reverse chronological order

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MONDAY JUNE 23 - 2014

Beautiful Demoiselles
Jane Brook and I met at the south bridge of Brook Meadow to carry on with the regular surveys of the Emsworth waysides. While we were there we got excellent views of two demoiselle damselflies fluttering around on the vegetation above the river. They both settled for a while enabling closer inspection.
One was certainly a male Beautiful Demoiselle with fully blue wings. The other was probably a female Beautiful Demoiselle, but this insect is difficult to separate from the female Banded Demoiselle.

male Beautiful Demoiselle



female (Beautiful) Demoiselle

The more common Banded Demoiselle has a dark band across its wings. This was our second sighting of a Beautiful Demoiselle on Brook Meadow this summer; Francis Kinsella got the first on June 17th. The very first Beautiful Demoiselle was recorded on Brook Meadow in 2008 and it has been seen each year since then.

Waysides News
From the south bridge Jane and I went through the underpass to look at the Lillywhite's path wayside. Jane asked me to check on the Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) which is fairly abundant on this wayside. Rose says it was introduced from the Mediterranean, so is not native.
The most interesting discovery of the morning was a flowering plant of Fool's Parsley at the back of Lillywhite's Garage. This plant is easily identified from the distinctive bracteoles hanging from the flower heads. It gets its name from its resemblence to Parsley and the fact that only a fool would eat it as it is highly poisonous!

We checked the A259 embankment in the centre of town where we found a good flowering of Perennial Sow-thistle.

On the Dolphin Creek wayside we found Saltmarsh Rush, but the Lesser Sea-spurrey was not in flower. The leaves of the large Horse Chestnut tree in the garden of Holmwood House are severely infested with the leaf miner grub of the moth Cameraria ohridella.

The larvae of the Horse Chestnut leaf miner moth digs 'mines' within the leaves which produce a characteristic browning of the leaf between the veins. The larvae themselves can easily be seen (and felt) as dark lumps in the leaf.
The leaf miner disease was first observed in Macedonia in northern Greece in the late 1970's and has since spread throughout central and eastern Europe. It was first found established in the UK in Wimbledon in July 2002. From this initial area of infestation, the moth has spread rapidly, and it is now present across most of south-central England, East Anglia and the Midlands.
Despite the poor appearance of horse-chestnut trees infested with C. ohridella, there is no evidence that damage by the moth leads to a decline in tree health, the development of dieback, or tree death. Trees survive repeated infestations and re-flush normally in the following year. It appears that most of the damage caused by the moth occurs too late in the growing season to greatly affect tree performance. See . . .$FILE/Horsechestnut.pdf

Record orchid count
Nigel Johnson sent me the details of Saturday's annual count carried out by the Havant Wildlife Group of the Southern Marsh Orchids on the South Moor at Langstone. It was a new record with a grand total of 10,690 flowering spikes counted! This beat the previous best of 9,234 in 2010 by over a thousand. Nigel explained that this year's count was more difficult than usual as the vegetation had grown to up to six feet in places; the count usually takes about an hour and a half, but this year it took three hours.
The Southern Marsh Orchid counts have been taking place for the last 19 years in the field to the south of the Autoliv factory in Langstone Grid Ref: SU 712 052. In 1995 and 1996 Ralph Hollins counted them and since then they have been counted by the local HWT Havant Wildlife Study Group.
Here is a view across the South Moor, which is a Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve, that I took last year before the orchids. The factory can just be seen in the background.

SUNDAY JUNE 22 - 2014

Brook Meadow
I had a slow walk around the meadow this morning, too hot really for anything else! Birds are still singing, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Dunnock, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove.
I noted a couple of spikes of Bread Wheat on the side of the path to the bridge on the Seagull Lane patch. Obviously casuals, but firsts for the meadow.
Plenty of Meadow Browns were flying plus a few Skippers, but none settled for a photo.
The Oak sapling I planted on the Seagull Lane patch in 2012 is now taller than me!
On the orchid area the Great Burnet is still looking very good with the bright red flower heads standing out prominently.

Nearby I found another two Bee Orchids on the orchid area in addition to the group of five that were marked earlier by myself and Jill Stanley. One of these was marked with a twig by someone else. The other one was nearby but not marked. It is now. This means we have located 7 Bee Orchids on the orchid area this year plus another 5 on the centre meadow, making 12 in all. This equals our previous best total of 12 in 2009.
I checked the Blue Water-speedwell flower spikes on the river bank in Palmer's Road Copse, but they are mostly long, indicating the hybrid - Veronica x Lackschewitzii. Brooklime is now in flower on the river bank.

Millpond News
The Mute Swan still sits high on her nest near the bridge on the town millpond, much watched as always by people passing. She had the company today of a Mallard family of mum and six tiny ducklings.

Hampshire Farm news
Chris Oakley also had Mallard ducklings - 8 of them - on the attenuation pond of the Hampshire Farm site. Chris says, there is no sign of a male (that's not surprising!) and she leaves the chicks for frequent short spells. The young wait on the rim of the outfall and as soon as she returns they all dive for cover, though one would think it would be the other way round.

Waysides News
The Pyramidal Orchid on the Bridge Road Wayside is developing well.

Starling behaviour
Caroline French posted the following observation on Starling behaviour on Hoslist
"This year I put up a Starling box on the side of the house. Although a male did build a nest inside and spent a lot of time singing from it, in the end it didn't nest there. In fact, it emptied out the box, taking every last scrap of nesting material elsewhere and leaving nothing but a load of droppings all over the wall.
What has surprised me is the amount of interest shown in the box by juvenile Starlings. They have been in and out of it and squabbling over it. This morning a juvenile was walking around with a large piece of straw as though it planned to use it for nesting material. I know the juveniles won't be nesting this year but I wonder whether there is an urge even at this stage to identify sites for next year.
On the subject of juvenile Starlings, you might like to see this video I took a few years back of birds seemingly enjoying the heat of a security light in Portchester . . . "

Hayling Oysterbeds
Chris Cockburn's latest news update from the oysterbeds.
"Things are still going well for most of the nesting birds at the Hayling Oysterbeds.
The black-headed gulls still have many broods of three (quite a few even 'flying', albeit, not perfectly, yet). So far, it seems that these gulls are having a very productive year at this site.

The (admittedly small sample) of nesting Mediterranean gulls do not seem to be so productive; of the nine original nesting pairs, only six seem to have young (mostly 'twins' rather than 'triplets' that would be expected following a very 'earthwormy' winter. At least two of the original nesting pairs included 2nd summer birds and that might explain the apparent 'failures'. It might be a result of my AMD vision problem (even through a telescope), but the adult Mediterranean gull(s) on the northern side of the 'straight' western island has/have been rarely seen , whilst the two chicks are still present. So, perhaps it is a case of a 'lone parent' successfully raising chicks - that is very interesting; but given the strong territorial behaviour of gull chicks, it should not be surprising that they might easily "look after themselves" when the parent is away.

Common tern (nest) numbers are now 75+, with most on the north side of the straight (western) island and the first chicks might be seen soon. The common terns do seem to like the Oysterbeds' islands, which have c75% of the harbour population this year.

There are still two 'apparently occupied' oystercatcher nests, one on the northern side of the straight island and the other (much harder to see) on the inside of the curved island. The family group of two adults with two small chicks has not been seen since last Tuesday, but hopefully, they have found a safe refuge nearby.

Butterflies continue to be uncooperative for photographing, but there are profuse amounts of Marbled Whites (my favourite 'brown' butterfly, see photo below - here on Tufted vetch).

The best of flora/fauna is presently south of the Hayling Halt (Esso garage) car park on the Billy Trail. Just a few yards onto the trail and you are into flowering samples of Knapweed, Wild Radish, Salsify, Meadow vetchling, Pale flax, Rosebay-willowherb, Wild carrot, Meadowsweet etc. The 'Mound' by the Oysterbeds' lagoon also has a very good variety of plants including good displays of Bird's-foot trefoil, Viper's bugloss, Common centaury, Scarlet pimpernel, Milk thistle etc and a flowering Pyramidal orchid was found there on Sat. by Steve Cook.
Clam-dredging continues on a very high scale with as many as four dredgers intensively working the NE parts of the harbour, often as close inshore as possible. There is no close-season for clam gathering and the only restrictions apply to the size of the quarry.

FRIDAY JUNE 20 - 2014

White Admirals in Hollybank Woods
Following the sighting by Barry Collins of 7 White Admirals and 5 Silver-washed Fritillaries in Havant Thicket yesterday (posted on Hants Butterfly Conservation), I thought I would nip up to Hollybank on the bike to have a look for them there. I met Andy Brook and his apprentice Andrew clearing the eastern bridleway. Andy confirmed there had been no White Admiral sightings in the woods as yet. However, this is about the date when I usually see the first one, so I was optimistic. My earliest ever sighting was 16-Jun-2007.
I went to the Lorton log seat further along on the eastern bridleway, which is my usual White Admiral 'hot spot'. After about 5 mins (at about 11:30) I saw the distinctive fluttering flight of a White Admiral high up in the Hazel to the west of the seat. It fluttered around for about 3 minutes, before I lost it. It did not rest, so I was not able to get a photo.
On the way home, I stopped for a while at another of my hot spots, in the clear area just north of the interpretation board near the southern entrance. After a few minutes another White Admiral appeared fluttering in the Sweet Chestnut trees, disturbed by a passing horse rider, but again a photo was not possible. Here is one I got in Hollybank Woods in 2010.

The only other butterflies I saw were Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. Here is a female Meadow Brown which has a larger single-pupilled eyespot than the male.

Commas on Brook Meadow
Francis Kinsella was on Brook Meadow today where he found lots of Comma butterflies. Here is a a photo of one clearly showing the white comma on the underwing from which the insect gets its name.

Speckled Bush-cricket
Jill Stanley found this Speckled Bush-cricket on the Buddleia in her garden this afternoon. What wonderful antennae!
Jill assumes it is a male as it did not have the curved ovipositor of a female bush-cricket. One puzzling feature is that according to my book both sexes of Speckled Bush-cricket have a brown line down their backs, but Jill's insect does not have one. Maybe, it is a youngster?
Ralph Hollins agrees that Jill's Bush Cricket is not yet mature and to support this provides the following link which says .. "The nymphs emerge in May and June and mature as adult speckled bush crickets by mid August."


New tool shed
I got over to Brook Meadow just in time to see the delivery and positioning of the new tool shed on the south side of the Seagull Lane patch. Maurice Lillie was there to supervise the operation and Martin Shelley to take photos for The Ems. I also took a few! The shed fitted into the space cleared for it very neatly and its green colour blends in well with the surrounding vegetation.

Ten volunteers attended this morning's conservation work session. The main task was cutting back the overhanging vegetation on the paths. I had to warn them to avoid the Festulolium Hybrids and a new growth of Plicate Sweet-grass on the path near Beryl's seat. We all had coffee in the new shed. It needs a sofa!

Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat were singing, but not much else.
Plenty of Meadow Browns were fluttering around the grassland, but none stopped long enough for me to see if there was a Ringlet. Other butterflies seen were Red Admiral and Common Blue.
Red Bartsia is now flowering generally on the Lumley area. Timothy is starting to emerge on the Lumley area.

I met Malcolm Phillips who showed me the location of four more Bee Orchids that he had located, 3 on the Lumley area and one on the centre meadow. This takes the total number of Bee Orchids on Brook Meadow this year to 9. The record for Brook Meadow is 12 in 2009.
Bee Orchid Grid Refs. Total = 9
One on Lumley area (north) - SU 75143 06042 - Brian Fellows
Three on the Lumley area - SU 75127 06042 - Malcolm Phillips
One on centre meadow - SU 75114 06027 - Malcolm Phillips
Four on orchid area SU 75063 06141 - Brian Fellows & Jill Stanley

Malcolm Phillips got this photo of a Frog on the meadow.

Mystery insect
Regarding the mystery fly Malcolm Phillips found on Brook Meadow yesterday

Ralph Hollins says the nearest match he can find to the long antennae, black body, yellow legs and ovipositor is Dyspetes praerogator . See . . . However, as this seems to be an uncommon species it is perhaps unlikely.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips got some nice photos of butterflies on Brook Meadow today, including the first Ringlet of the year. This was, in fact, the earliest Ringlet I have on my records for Brook Meadow.

Malcolm got a Water Vole swimming beneath the south bridge. That makes 19 sightings from this spot. We have had no others from anywhere else on the river for over a month.

Malcolm also got a photo of what looks like a Sawfly with a long ovipositor. I am wondering if it could be a Horntail though the all black body is not expected. From my books the Horntail's body is at least partly yellow.

Beautiful Demoiselle
Francis Kinsella took this photo yesterday evening (June 17) on Brook Meadow of what looks like an immature male Beautiful Demoiselle, our first of the year. What a cracking insect.

The first Beautiful Demoiselle was recorded on Brook Meadow in 2008 and it has been seen each year since then. Males are distinguished from the more common Banded Demoiselle from the wing pigment which covers virtually all of the wings, unlike in the Banded Demoiselle where there is just a dark band across the wings.

Swan attack at Nore Barn
Maggie Gebbett witnessed yet another swan attack at 8am this morning at Nore Barn. It was the same dogs as before and she has informed police, RSPCA, etc. Later this afternoon, Maggie saw all three cygnets in the harbour and a rather muddy looking adult swan plus the one that managed to get airborne and escape. So, thankfully, it seems no permanent injury was done, but this indicates, as Maggie says, just how aware dog owners need to be of the swans.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley did a walk around the Hampshire Farm open space area with his new Garmin eTrex 10 to determine its size - 38.2 acres in all, the pond area alone is 1.7 acres and the actual pond is .7 acres. Chris says, "I walked the perimeter as close to the fence as I could, this being the roughest strip to walk. My ankles are covered in small scratches from briars and brambles. I put up a fox at the top end but there was no sign of the deer. The area originally set aside for a nature site is now included in the main open space. The horses are gone and the fences have been removed. The land is in pretty good order and it should recover this year."

TUESDAY JUNE 17 - 2014

Millpond News
This morning, I got the bike out and cycled down to Thorney Island via the millponds. Stopping briefly at the bridge on the town millpond, I could see the swan standing up on its nest revealing six eggs. She was closely watched by many other people passing by. On Peter Pond, I could see the Mute Swan family still had two cygnets.
Over on Slipper Millpond, both Great Black-backed Gulls were on the centre raft, but I could not see the chick in the dense vegetation.
I had a look at the pond south of the Deckhouses Estate, where the pair of Mute Swans that I have seen several times previously were still there. One of the swans was sitting on a rather makeshift nest on the small island while its mate was on the water nearby. I do not rate this pair very highly for breeding.
Swallows were flying over the stables along the NRA track across North Thorney.

Plant news
Lesser Sea-spurrey is starting to flower near the Chequers Quay gate on the west side of Slipper Millpond.
There is also a tuft of Water Bent grass coming up beside the wall nearby.

Hedgerow Crane's-bill is in flower on the east side of Slipper Millpond; I do not recall having seen this plant here before. Ground-elder is also in flower. Crow Garlic bulbils are prominent on the east side of the pond.
On the marina seawall Bristly Ox-tongue and Hemlock are both in flower.

At the bottom of the slope down to the main western track down Thorney Island is a bush of Hop Trefoil with masses of flower heads with 20-30 flowers in globular clusters.

Selfheal is also very prominent in this area. I could only find three Bee Orchids in flower, which is far less than I have seen here in previous years.

Water Vole
At about 12:30, I stopped on the south bridge on Brook Meadow on the way home to look for Water Voles and dragonflies. I was watching a couple of very large chunky hoverflies when Robin Pottinger came up to join me. While we were chatting, a Water Vole popped out of the vegetation on the east bank immediately below the bridge where we were standing and proceeded to munch away at the luxurious growth of Fool's Water-cress.

We were both sure this was a youngster as it was distinctly smaller than the normal adult and its fur was fresh and light brown, unlike the often ruffled and scarred fur of adults. We watched it for about 10 minutes as it fed, when it scuttled northwards through the dense vegetation on the river bank. We had several more sightings of the vole in the greenery, when we confirmed our impressions of a young Water Vole. A very nice sighting, we both agreed!

Horntail corrected
Ralph Hollins corrected my identification of the black and yellow fly that I photographed on the Emsworth wayside yesterday. He said "a Horntail of either sex has the back end of its body all yellow. As your specimen does not have the long ovipositor it is not a female but I think a male would still have the short backward projection show in the 'side-on' view of the female. A Horntail would have a noticeably bulkier body. My best guess at your insect is the Ichneumon Fly Amblyteles armatorius on page 231 of Chinery and at
As always, Ralph is spot on. Many thanks.

Hedgehog news
Graham Petrie gives a link to a video on Facebook of a Hedgehog argy-bargy around his feeding station in his Havant garden. He thinks the aggressor may be Hogboy which Graham has been caring for over the winter, but which is now running freely.

Fort Purbrook
Jill Stanley took a friend to Fort Purbrook yesterday to see the orchids. They counted 13 Bee Orchids and 5 Knapweed Broomrape although the latter were mostly over. They also saw a lot of butterflies and here are two excellent images Jill sent me of a Marbled White and a Small Blue, both typical beautiful butterflies of Portsdown Hill.

Hayling Oysterbeds
Chris Cockburn gives another up date of seabird news from the oysterbeds - 16th June
Common Terns
"Firstly, the not-so-good news - the four most recent high tides, peaking at c5m on 15 June at 01:35 have resulted in the numbers of 'apparently nesting' Common Terns being reduced from 74 to 51; but, since only eggs were lost, it is highly likely that the 'failed' pairs will find sufficient food for the females to return egg-laying condition. Meanwhile, a survey carried out by Wez Smith (the RSPB Site Manager) on 15 June showed that there were 29 apparently nesting common terns (making the harbour total 103 common tern nests this year). Wez also reported that, so far (fingers crossed!!), little terns were doing well on the harbour islands.

Black-headed Gulls
During the high tide period at the Oysterbeds today, gull activity could only be described as a noisy-mayhem! The tide height was worryingly high and many of the black-headed gull families temporarily lost their territories and moved elsewhere (not a good idea for these fearfully territorial animals). Some swam out the period,; but the gulls do not like to see (other brood) chicks on the water (presumably, swimming chicks might attract avian predators). So, chicks afloat were being attacked by non-related gulls while the shepherding parents rapidly launched into noisy defensive attacks on the attackers, yes, mayhem! The upshot was very noisy and often resulted in (apparently) ferocious interactions (from even the smallest of BH chicks!). The common terns were only too happy to join in the frays - they are just as "feisty" as the gulls.

Good news, two oystercatcher chicks have been taken to the new shingle recharge by their parents - the family might be from the lagoon islands but are more likely to be from one of the northern bunds and it will be a few months before true success can be reported (almost uniquely amongst wader chicks, oystercatcher chicks are "taught" for several months by their parents on how to get food (most wader chicks are able to feed themselves very quickly) - not oysters, of course!!

Barrel Jellyfish
And now for the different things, it's probably not the most frequently sighted animal in the lagoon, but a probable Barrel jellyfish - Rhizostoma octopus (attached very poor photo) - maximum diameter of c90cm.

They have generally been described by the media in terms of "invasion of enormous, giant jellyfish" For more reasoned information see the following link . . .
Rhizostoma is described in this link as the 'basking shark' of jellyfish, but despite its huge size, it lives only on tiny plankton, and its sting is not powerful enough to harm humans.

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.

As I walked northerwards towards Long Copse Lane the area got distinctly rougher with less evidence of sown plants and more truly 'wild' plants coming up, like Yorkshire Fog, Common Couch and Creeping Thistle.

Italian Ryegrass ?
In this area I found several dense tufts of what could be Italian Ryegrass, though I shall need to confirm this with Martin Rand.

Martin Rand commented "Yes, that certainly looks like either Lolium multiflorum or its hybrid with Lolium perenne, L. x boucheanum. But the awns are so well developed, I think it will be the species. The young leaves will be rolled, not folded, and the plant will be annual or biennial (it comes up easily, though you may not want to apply that test!)"

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


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?

For earlier observations go to . . June 1-15