JUNE 30 - 2014
I had a quick
look at the swan in the 'litter nest' at about 10.30
this morning. She was standing up on the nest with her
family of four cygnets still all present.
The Mute Swan family family with two cygnets on Peter
Pond was on the eastern verge again looking well and
had a look at the Bridge Road Wayside yesterday hoping
to see the Sulphur Cinquefoil, but unfortunately the
flowering head appears to have been chopped off,
leaving the stalk and few lower leaves. Very
However, Ralph did spot a healthy clump of
Small-flowered Cranesbill growing on the concrete
kerbstones marking the edge of the car park into the
carpark about 10 metres south of the gap in the fence.
Grid Ref: SU 74733 06088 The tiny pinkish flowers
distinguish it from the more common Dove's-foot
Cranesbill which is probably what I mistook it for. It
also has short hairs on the pedicles.
This is new plant for
this wayside. It is a wonder the plants survived as
the council spraying team were working on this verge a
couple of weeks ago.
Other new wayside plants noted for this year's list
included Crested Dog's-tail, Creeping Bent-grass,
Hedge Bedstraw and Red Bartsia, taking this year's
total to 124 (from a grand total of 193).
replied to my query about the possible Italian
Ryegrass that I found on the north of the Hampshire
Farm open space site on June 16.
Martin said: "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!)"
Large White showing the dark spots on the upper
Phillips was on Brook Meadow again today and got
several excellent photos of butterflies including
Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Green-veined
White, Large White and the first Gatekeeper of the
Gatekeeper showing the male scent mark
underwing showing the characteristic white dots
found another local Mute Swan family with four cygnets
on Thorney Little Deeps.
Milinets-Raby spent an hour at Conigar Point (Noon to
1pm) just ahead of high tide. A little bit late as the
tide had pushed in more than I would have liked.
Species seen were as follows: 15 Lapwing, 4 Curlew, 2
Sandwich Tern, 2 to 6+ Common Tern, Little Tern, 4
Little Egrets, 14 Shelduck (2 juvs, the rest adults),
2 Mute Swan, Brent Goose, 2 young fledged Black-headed
150+ Starling feeding along the shore (closer
inspection revealed only 15 to 20 adults, the rest
were all juvs).
Behind the point on the small reed bed were singing
Reed Warbler and singing male Reed Bunting and 2
In Warblington Cemetery were Green Woodpecker and a
stunning looking Hobby flew low over several times
before drifting away over the channel.
JUNE 29 - 2014
target this morning was the bridge on Emsworth
Millpond where the crowds were gathering as usual to
see the great local wildlife spectacle. As I arrived
the Mute Swan pair were just taking their four tiny
cygnets into the tunnel under the road.
This is where the
Westbrook Stream flows into the millpond and the water
is fresh and might harbour food for the youngsters.
Swans often do make their way right through the
tunnel, but they are no longer able to get through to
the stream in Bridge Road car park due to the new
grill erected by the Environment Agency a couple of
years ago. This is a pity as the stream in the car
park is ecologically rich compared with the millpond.
Two eggs still remain in the nest which is being used
by Mallards as Juliette Walker found this morning -
the wrong nest! Incidentally, I suspect the pen swan
will be back to brood these eggs for a while, even
though there is no chance of their hatching now.
From there I
cycled across to Slipper Millpond where I found a
Cormorant fishing which is quite unusual to see
in the summer months. One Great Black-backed Gull
was on the centre raft with the now rapidly
Over on Peter Pond the
Mute Swan with two cygnets was on east bank with the
parents busily preening with feathers all over the
place; it is moulting time. A Lesser Black-backed Gull
was on Peter Pond, I spotted its yellow legs as it
Another new Mallard family was also on the east bank
with no less than 8 tiny ducklings. I hope the Great
Black-backed Gulls do not find them!
On the east bank of
Peter Pond Crow Garlic bulbils were sprouting
green shoots. These are not flowers, but apparently
new plantlets growing from the seeds in the heads.
Other flowers on the
east bank included some Blue Cornflowers and Poppies,
presumably from seed packets, plus Marsh Woundwort and
Perennial Sow-thistle definitely not from a seed
I cycled up
Lumley Road to check on the patch of Fox and Cubs at
the top of the slope past Lumley Mill. They were still
there, but nowhere near the abundance of those I found
yesterday in Church path.
Back to the
meadow where I admired the growing abundance of
Creeping Bent-grass, undoubtedly the most
delicate and beautiful of all our grasses, is now
emerging in several places on the meadow. I checked
for Marsh Woundwort in the usual spot at the northern
end of the Bramble path, but there was no sign of it
in the tangled growth of vegetation. I noted the first
Great Willowherb in flower, though it has been
out for over a week on the Railway Wayside.
Malcolm Phillips was
busy taking photos when I passed through the meadow,
so I did not disturb him.
He had a good
selection of butterflies, Large Skipper, Large White,
Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and
Marbled White. He also saw a Slow Worm on the path by
the new hut.
is Malcolm's Peacock which I have not recorded for a
went over to the Railway Wayside to have a look at the
Marsh Woundwort which are now showing well at
the eastern end of the Railway Wayside through a
tangled web of brambles; there were many others
elsewhere, so it should be a good crop.
Other flowers on this
wayside include Common Knapweed, Common Fleabane,
Perforate St John's-wort, Common Ragwort, Great
Willowherb, Wild Carrot, Spear Thistle and Common
Martins in Westbourne
French read the blog yesterday and reminded me there
are still House Martins nesting in Westbourne. Today,
she saw nests on nos. 14 and 26 Lark Way but is sure
there are more. Caroline says, in very recent years
they have nested in Lark Way, Kingfisher Drive, Edgell
Road, Homefield Road and Mill Road and it is good to
see them using modern houses to build their nests,
made easier by the protruding wooden rafters and
soffits. Thanks, Caroline.
JUNE 28 - 2014
The four Mute
Swan cygnets went for their first swim on the town
millpond at about 12 noon this morning in company with
both parents and watched by an admiring crowd of well
wishers. They certainly made a fine picture and the
cygnets looked healthy. One onlooker was feeding the
swans porridge oats. I am not sure if the cygnets can
digest these, but the parent swans certainly enjoyed
the feast. Two unhatched eggs were in the nest.
Also, in the same area
was the Mallard family of mum and six ducklings
which I first saw here on June 22. I certainly did not
expect them to stay intact for so long.
and Cubs (flowers)
There is a
superb display of Fox and Cubs in flower on the grass
verge at the far southern end of Church Path in the
centre of Emsworth. The last (and only) time I saw Fox
and Cubs was on the grass verge at the top of the
slope past Lumley Mill, by the old walls surrounding
the garden of Mill Cottage. I actually cycled past
there two days ago, but did not notice any. Maybe, I
plants have clusters of deep orange daisy-like flowers
at the top of single unbranched hairy stems which rise
from rosettes of leaves on the ground. Rose states
that the plant was introduced from C Europe and is
frequent to locally common. The Hants Flora says it is
found on grassy verges usually near houses, probably
spread from garden throw outs.
Phillips had a couple of hours round the meadow this
afternoon. While looking for a Water Vole (which he
did not see) Malcolm spotted a Grey Wagtail in
the river. This is a fairly regular visitor to Brook
Meadow, but mainly in winter. Our last sighting was in
Jan this year.
Malcolm got a nice
shot of the upper wings of a Ringlet which can
easily be mistaken for a Meadow Brown until it
But Malcolm's most
interesting sighting was an Emperor Dragonfly
which at first I thought might be the same as the one
I saw on the meadow on June 25. However, comparing the
two photos, my impression is that these are two
different individuals. Malcolm's dragonfly has a
greener thorax and abdomen which suggests it might
have been a female to complement the male I saw on
is Malcolm's Emperor Dragonfly - possibly female
is the male I took on June 25
and Fox video
sent a link to a video of one of his Hedgehogs having
a meal in company with a Fox! Astonishing how the two
animals feed within feet of each other with no
problem. Graham does not think the Hedgehog is Hogboy
which he cared for over the winter, but says he is
still around. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10204365122192461&l=2160051011483322143
Martins all gone?
local House Martin colonies seem to be disappearing
fast. House Martins abandoned Stansted House many
years ago where they used to nest for years. They
always used to nest in some numbers in the new houses
overlooking North Common, Northney, but Ralph Hollins
said there were none there when he visited on Jun 26.
That is sad as I clearly recall House Martins sweeping
down onto the shoreline to collect mud for their
nests. So, that's another former House Martin colony
gone. The only other local site of a House Martin
colony that I know of is at Lordington House near
Walderton, though I have not been up there for a few
years, so they may have gone from there too.
JUNE 27 - 2014
I checked the
swan's nest on the town millpond at about 10am this
morning. I was certainly not the only onlooker as
there were several other people on the bridge looking
down at the nest. In fact, there has been a constant
presence of people on the bridge all day from what I
can judge watching the swans, just like last year.
The three cygnets that
I saw yesterday were out of the nest on the millpond
mud. In the nest with the pen swan was a fourth
cygnet! So I was wrong about the remaining three eggs
not hatching. There are now two eggs remaining in the
nest and I am saying nothing. While I was there the
three cygnets managed to scramble back into the nest
with their mother, so they can do it without help! One
other observation is that there was more water in the
millpond today. Has the Environment Agency opened the
sluice to increase the level?
The following photo taken from the bridge looking down
on the nest shows three cygnets, the other one is
inder the pen's wings. The photo also clearly shows
the variety of litter material used to construct the
Phillips got some interesting sightings on the meadow
today. Most important he got this photo of what I
think is a juvenile Whitethroat. It reminded me
of the photo that Charlie Annalls sent in of a
juvenile Whitethroat from Hilsea Lines yesterday (Jun
26). This is important since it confirms the
successful breeding of Whitethroat on Brook Meadow
Malcolm saw a Water
Vole just south of the S-bend in the river
(section C), but could not get a photo. This was also
important as it was the first sighting from anywhere
else on the River Ems but the south bridge since May
6th. Malcolm also saw a Rabbit sitting on a
pile of grass cuttings, but it went before Malcolm
could get a photo.
Kinsella was in Hollybank Woods and saw several
White Admirals, but typically, they were not
easy to capture on camera. Here is the best shot.
There must be some
Silver-washed Fritillaries on the wing as well in the
woods, though Francis did not report any. Francis also
got the following image of a male Broad-bodied
Chaser - not an uncommon dragonfly to see in
gives the latest news from the Oysterbeds
numbers at the Oysterbeds have increased to c96
apparent nesting birds; c34 on the inside of the
'curved' island while on the straight island there are
c56 visible on the north side and 6 on the south side.
Like 2013, the common tern season could extend well
into August or even September.
At least one
Mediterranean gull youngster is now able to get
airborne. After a very short flight, it spent some
time paddling about (closely accompanied by a parent)
amongst the many black-headed youngsters in the
lagoon. A few failed pairs of Mediterranean gulls are
demonstrating their 'nuisance' traits. As observed
many times previously on the harbour islands, it seems
that after a failure at the egg or chick stage, their
pair-bonding remains very strong; hence, the noisy
calling as they fly over and their half-hearted
territorial behaviour. They often develop a taste for
eggs or small chicks (of any gull, tern or wader
species) and these failed birds seem to prioritise the
harassment of successful broods of other Med gulls (as
has happened at the Oysterbeds' site recently).
Hopefully, such birds will soon move on out of the
area; otherwise, the multitude of common terns might
have a very unproductive year!
are continuing to have a very successful breeding
season, with several broods of three at the flight
stage. There are often 'crèches' on the lagoon
shores or on the lagoon itself where the youngsters
are developing their foraging, flying, bathing and (of
course!) territorial-behaviour skills. All of them are
relying primarily on their parents for food but many
of the oldest broods are flying further afield
accompanied by parent birds. A youngster was seen
'foot-stamping' for prey items in a pool on the
mudflats; was that learned or in-built behaviour?!
There is still an
'active' oystercatcher nest east of peg B on
the north side of the straight island. Another pair
now seem to be apparently on nest east of peg H on the
straight island; but, in the typical oystercatcher
fashion, there are periods when the nest site has been
unattended by either bird.
Locally, It is
continuing to be a good season for many floral species
(e.g. Lady's bedstraw, Tufted vetch, Meadow Vetchling,
Pale flax etc), which is good news for many
invertebrates. There are many Marbled White and Meadow
Brown butterflies (most of which have been instructed
by their agents to not to pose for photographers!).
However, Common Blue butterflies are presently a rare
sight in the locale (Holly Blues are more numerous);
this could be a result of the very wet winter, or,
perhaps, a localised phenomenon caused by the winter's
surging tides and storm driven 'sea spray'. It will be
interesting to hear reports from other locations.
PS Great news; Wez
Smith, the RSPB Site Manager, reports that there are
good numbers of little tern chicks on the harbour
islands and some should be fledging soon.
JUNE 26 - 2014
eggs hatch on millpond
I had an
e-mail from Rachel Sinclair to say the swan's eggs on
the town millpond had started to hatch last evening
(June 25), she thinks, about 8pm. Rachel took this
photo showing just one cygnet and 5 unhatched eggs in
the nest at about 9.45pm.
I had a look at 10am
this morning and found the pen swan sitting as usual
on the high nest. After a few minutes she stood up to
reveal three tiny cygnets and three unhatched eggs. I
suspect the two most recent eggs she laid have hatched
along with one other. I suspect the remaining three
eggs are too old to hatch; they were the ones
retrieved from the bottom of the pond after the flood.
Only two of the three cygnets can be seen in this
photo; the third is hidden.
Rachel was concerned
about the lack of water in the pond; if the cygnets
leave the nest, they will struggle to get back in. I
agree the water level is less than ideal, though I
doubt if a higher water level would make much
difference if a cygnet fell out of the nest. In fact,
this happened last year when one small cygnet fell out
of the nest and could not get back. It died. The
remaining cygnet survived and prospered, despite a
notable absence of natural foodstuffs on the pond.
This will be the big problem again this year,
particularly if there is more than one youngster to
feed. Three cygnets are not necessarily good news in
such an impoverished habitat with little in the way of
natural vegetation to harbour insects. Cygnets need
natural high protein insect food to grow properly ie
they cannot survive on bread, etc thrown in by well
wishers. Last year a single cygnet survived thanks to
the parents stirring up the mud on the bottom of the
pond to release insects. So, there is always
family with six tiny ducklings was still present near
the Mute Swan nest.
Common Fleabane was in flower on the edge of
the millpond within sight of the swan nest - the first
of the year.
The Mute Swan
family with two cygnets on Peter Pond was on the
grass verge right next to the seat. The pen's pink
feet and legs (she's a 'Polish' variety) showed well.
Pond I cycled to Westbourne via Lumley Lane. Plants of
interest to me included Rough Chervil, False Brome,
Hard Rush and Redshank along Lumley Road. The bridge
over the A27 was ablaze with yellow flowers of
Perforate St John's-wort and Agrimony along
with Jointed Rush and Creeping Bent-grass along the
edge of the kerbstones.
As I was approaching
Westbourne alongside the millstream canal, I was
surprised to hear a Reed Warbler singing from
the vegetation. I don't recall ever having heard one
I turned down Westbourne Avenue to have a look at the
Westbourne Open Space wayside which was a mass of
grasses. Creeping Bent-grass is coming up everywhere,
most with closed panicles, but some with delicate open
panicles. I was puzzled by what appeared at first
glance to be Sea Couch, but surely not here, so far
from the sea? More likely, it is an unusual silvery
version of Common Couch.
Smaller Cat's-tail was
fairly easy to pick out from the Timothy which has
very much longer panicles. I noticed a bit of Knotted
Hedge-parsley on the edge of the footpath just past
the first lamppost. Common Ragwort is in full flower
and attracting insects to its copious supply of
nectar. The edge of the open space is lined with
flowering Common Mallow.
The two Wild
Clary plants on the main wayside are now going to
seed. I thought it might be a good idea to collect a
few seeds - to start another colony somewhere, maybe?
There were a good 20 Wild Clary plants coming up again
on the verge further along Christopher Way which is
regularly mown by the council. These must be pretty
tough plants and they are starting to flower again!
Brighton Road Junction
Finally, I got
my first Small Skipper of the year, feeding on
a Red Clover flower head on the New Brighton Road
wayside. Note its plain upper wings and thin scent
Phillips was on Brook Meadow again today with his
trusty camera at the ready and got some excellent
images of several butterflies including Small
Tortoiseshell, Comma, Meadow Brown and this little
gathering of three Large Skippers. Discussing
where the best flowers are to be found, I guess?
Annalls has been out on Hilsea Lines with her camera
in the recent fine weather. She found the regular Mute
Swan pair with a family of 5 cygnets. Golly, there are
so many relatively late broods this year.
She was unsure about
the damselfly, but thought it might be a
Blue-tailed Damselfly. With an all dark abdomen
and bright blue tail, that looks right to me.
Charlie also took some
snaps of a juvenile bird, preening and fluffing its
feathers. She thought it might be a juvenile
Whitethroat and I would agree again. Nice one,
enjoying the warm summer weather.
Charlie concluded: "I
understand that there is a shortage of
Starlings generally. If anyone asks, they are
all in my back garden and the noise is horrendous!
Very argumentative birds. They are costing a fortune
in fat slabs at the moment as they are bringing their
families of 6/7 youngsters with them.......Oh well it
only lasts a short while and they fly off after
they've eaten all I can offer." Enjoy them, Charlie.
JUNE 25 - 2014
For the past
few mornings, and sometimes during the day, small
groups of up to 9 Swifts have been flying over the
gardens at the back of our house in Bridge Road,
sometimes swooping quite low and resting briefly under
the eaves of neighbouring houses. I have witnessed
this behaviour many times over the years, which I
assumed was due to young birds investigating possible
nesting sites. Swifts have not in fact nested in the
immediate area for several years, though I do recall
their nesting under a neighbour's roof.
Jean and I
stopped for a morning coffee in the Chichester
Cathedral cafe where the RSPB stand is still up with
web cam still running on the Peregrine nest on the
Cathedral. I was told by one of the volunteers that
the two chicks, one male and one female, had both been
ringed by Graham Roberts and were developing normally
and were expected to fledge sometime in the next week.
The two chicks can be seen flexing their wings on the
live web cam on line at . . . http://www.chichesterperegrines.co.uk/live%20link.htm
I had an
exciting discovery on Brook Meadow this afternoon when
I came across a magnificent male Emperor
Dragonfly on the Lumley area. It remained resting
in the sunshine on a stem of grass for a good 10
minutes while I took some photos.
I even had the
opportunity to call over my neighbour, Rob, who was
having a stroll to come over to have a look at it.
What a cracking insect. This was certainly the best
view of an Emperor Dragonfly that I have ever had,
usually one just sees it patrolling swiftly over the
Malcolm Phillips also
had an exciting time on Brook Meadow today when he got
a couple of photos of a Silver-washed
Fritillary, the first we have ever recorded on the
meadow. The second of Malcolm's photos (on the right)
shows the silvery underwing from which the insect gets
Malcolm also saw the
first Marbled White butterfly of the year on
has been asking around about the position of access to
the open space on the Hampshire Farm site and there
still hasn't been any decision regarding the
hand-over. However, the site now has two open gates
one off Long Copse Lane and the other off Skylark Way,
but the play area, the car park and the cycle path
entrance are still fenced off. It is freely used by
people from the estate - joggers, dog walkers,
cyclists and people just out for a breath of fresh
air. So, other than for the legal niceties Chris says
there seems to be no restriction on use.
JUNE 24 - 2014
The Mute Swan
remains sitting on her tower-like 'litter nest' near
the bridge on the town millpond. I really have no idea
when the eggs will start to hatch since I think she
laid another two extra ones fairly recently. The
Mallard family near the bridge with six tiny ducklings
Meanwhile, the Mute Swan pair on Peter Pond now seem
to have settled down with two cygnets, after losing
five of their brood soon after hatching. The pen swan
is a 'Polish' variety (pink legs and feet), though
neither of the surviving cygnets are 'Polish' (they
would be pure white if they were).
Over on Slipper
Millpond the Coot family with three growing chicks are
doing remarkably well despite the close presence of
the Great Black-backed Gulls. I could see one of the
gulls on the centre raft, but there was no sign of the
I had a slow
wander through a stiflingly hot meadow this morning. I
found two new grasses to add to this year's plant
list. Creeping Bent-grass not fully open was
along the edges of the path round the Lumley area.
An awned version of Common Couch was present in
the same area. I recall Martin Rand assuring me
several years ago that Common Couch does sometimes
have short awns. This means 26 of the 34 grasses on
the Brook Meadow list have been located this year.
While looking for the
grasses I came across a 'Nursery-web spider'
(Pisaura mirabilis) standing guard over
her nest of spiderlings.
Phillips was also on the meadow today and photographed
quite a number of butterflies including a Large
Skipper. I was hoping it would be a Small Skipper
which we have yet to record on Brook Meadow this year.
Large Skipper always comes out before the Small
Here is Malcolm's photo of the Large Skipper along
with a Small Skipper I took on the meadow a couple of
years ago for comparison. As the photos show the Small
Skipper has relatively plain upper wings whereas those
of the Large Skipper are usually well marked. The long
scent line is also much thicker on the Large Skipper
than on the Small Skipper.
spotted a Magpie Moth on Hampshire Farm but was
puzzled by the stripe being yellow instead of the more
common orange. It actually looks right by the
illustration in my book (Chinery) which to my eyes is
yellow like Chris's photo.
Chris also found a
grass which looks like Green Bristle-grass
(Setaria viridis) to me. I occasionally
come across Green Bristle-grass, the last time being
on the pavement in St James Road Emsworth. Hence it is
fairly rare. It is described as an annual occurring as
a casual of cultivated and waste ground, road verges
and rubbish tips, mainly introduced in bird-seed.
Chris was also puzzled
by the Bread Wheat which grows around the edges
of the site. These seem to be popping up all over the
place. I often see it on waysides and only this week I
found some on Brook Meadow.
earlier observations go to . . June