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for July 1-15, 2014
in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current

TUESDAY JULY 15 - 2014

Millpond News
Jackie-Michelle Daines told me she saw the swan family with two cygnets on the town millpond return to the nest by the bridge at 20.30 last night with no further losses. However, when I passed by at about 10am this morning the Mute Swan pair had only one cygnet with them on the water near the end of Nile Street. Clearly, the missing cygnet had gone overnight and there was no obvious sign of a corpse, which suggests to me the work of a fox.
Jackie also told me that the Environment Agency have now closed the slipper mill drain sluice by hand after phone calls to them yesterday about the danger of the cygnets going through the sluice. So there is now also at least some water in the mill pond.

I had a quick look at the swan family on the Deckhouses Estate pond which still has their original compliment of four cygnets. They were all looking healthy and feeding well in the nutrient-rich environment of the pond. This pair knows how to choose the right habitat for nesting!

I watched the two Great Black-backed Gulls on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond for about 20 minutes as they seemed to be coaxing a rather reluctant chick to take it first flight. It flapped it wings a few times, but did not take off while I was there. But it can't be long now.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had a quick look around the meadow. He saw some butterflies, including Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Large White and Comma. He also got a photo of one of our Whitethroats. Hope they managed to breed OK this year.

MONDAY JULY 14 - 2014

Mute Swan news
The Mute Swan family on the town millpond is now down to two cygnets. This loss of cygnets is not unexpected as they are particularly vulnerable in their first few weeks of life. I think they have done remarkably well so far, though I would not be surprised if there was another loss or even two, particularly if a local fox has got scent of the brood.


There was no sign of any corpse which supports predation most likely by a fox. Elaine Morgan tells me there is a family of two very lively adults and 3 fox cubs in Valetta Park at the moment, which is no distance to the millpond for an active fox. There must be others in the vicinity too. This is nature working in the raw! The pair that nested on Slipper Millpond this year actually lost 5 of their brood of seven, though the remaining two are now growing well and look secure on Peter Pond.

Other millpond news
Over on Slipper Millpond the Great Black-backed Gull chick was on its own on the raft, except for a Cormorant. The chick is growing fast and will soon by taking its first flights.

The Coot family with four growing chicks were on the north raft on Slipper Millpond, clearly not predated this year by the gulls. Shoals of large Grey Mullett were swimming near the Hermitage Bridge. Golden Samphire and Pellitory-of-the-wall are both in full flower on the Hermitage Bridge.


I had a brief view of a Kingfisher perched in a bush overlooking the Lumley pool close to the bridge with the 'No Fishing' sign. It flew off before I could determine if it was a juvenile, but I suspect it was from the information provided by Ralph Hollins on the previous early Kingfisher sighting by Pam Phillips on July 4.  

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby checked the shore at Warblington this morning (10:15 am to 11:35 am on an incoming tide). Here are the main sightings:
Off Pook Lane: 5 Curlew, 88 Redshank, 5 Greenshank (one with rings, but too distant for details - yellow was involved so making it different from Conigar Point bird), 2 Lapwing, 2 juv Grey Herons feeding along the shoreline, adult Med Gull, Whimbrel.
Off Conigar Point: 2 Greenshank (one with coloured rings G-R/GO-), 6 Curlew, 4 Common Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 ad summer Common Gulls, Great Black-backed Gull, lots of young Black-headed Gulls, 3 Redshank, 3 Lapwing. In the tamarisk trees were 3 calling Chiffchaff. It feels like autumn.

SUNDAY JULY 13 - 2014

Mute Swan news
Jackie-Michelle Daines and her friend Rose sadly confirmed Juliet Walker's news from yesterday that the Swan family on the town millpond was down to three cygnets. Jackie said there was a 'very big gull' on the pond which might have been one of the Great Black-backed Gulls from Slipper Millpond, but I have also seen a Lesser Black-backed Gull hanging around. A gull could be the culprit, though I would not rule out foxes, or simple natural causes. The Mute Swan pair were on the pond when I walked round with the family this afternoon with their three cygnets, all of which look fine and healthy. But this is early days as cygnets are notoriously vulnerable in the first few weeks.

Interestingly, Jackie has been in touch with the assistant swanherd at the Abbotsbury Swannery about what cygnets should eat. This man currently looks after over 500 cygnets and feeds them on 'Chick Crumb' three times a day, by the bucket load! However, he thought even a small amount of this highly nutritious food would help the Emsworth cygnets as it contains all the vitamins and protein they need. Jackie says Pets at Home in Havant have a 5kg bag of Chick Crumb for £6.00. So, go for it, Jackie!

This is the tail-end of the Swifts season and they will soon be leaving on their long journey back to the wintering quarters in Africa. This is time of the year when we get the best displays around the Bridge Road, with family parties screaming around the houses at dusk, doing some social bonding I gather. From my records we used to have maxima between 20 and 40 on a regular basis between the years 1997 and 2004; 2003 was a bumper year with a maximum of count 60. However, numbers have dwindled since then and 10-15 has been the most we see; my best count so far this year is 9. Ralph Hollins reports a similar decline in Swift numbers in his area of Havant.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley took his heavy camera gear over to the pond on the Hampshire Farm site this afternoon and got a good selection of dragonfly shots. The Broad-bodied Chasers were busy as usual along with dozens of damselflies on the mats of green algae, but there was only one Emperor Dragonfly. I think these mating in Chris's photo are Common Blue Damselflies.

Herring Gulls in garden
Patrick Murphy had some rare visitors to his garden today - a pair of Herring Gulls (with Magpie in background). This was after he had put out some chicken scraps. Well, that just goes to show. Incidentally, Ralph Hollins also reported having a visit from Herring Gulls to his garden in central Havant. He thought they may be local breeding birds.


Ants flying
This is a big day in the year for ants! The ants in my garden were flying today as they embark on their "nuptial" flights. This mating ritual happens on roughly the same day across the country in warm, humid conditions. Flights are synchronised between nests so that the flying ants can maximise their chances of meeting ants from other colonies to mate with. Queens mate with males during flight, after which the queen will lose her wings and try to start her own colony by burrowing into the soil. Males die shortly after mating but queens can live for up to 15 years. The most common flying ant is the black garden ant (Lasius niger). The ants seen scuttling around throughout the year are workers.

Millpond News
As a follow-up to yesterday's news, Jackie-Michelle Daines confirmed that every night this week both adult swans and cygnets have returned to the nest for the night. Jackie and friend Rose have sat watching the adults take it in turn to sleep, with one sleeping with the cygnets and the other on guard. The Mallard family have also been spending the night at this end of the pond on their favourite rock. The local cats are helping to keep the rats away and there's no sign of foxes.
Juliet Walker was down at the millpond this afternoon and could only see three cygnets! Has one been lost?

Brook Meadow
Patrick Murphy had a wander through Brook Meadow yesterday where he saw several Soldier Beetles feeding and mating on the large flowerheads of Hogweed. These beetles are really widespread on the meadow at present.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley said it was extremely hot on Hampshire Farm this afternoon but quite rewarding. There were dozens of Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies darting around the pond with several couplings. Broad-bodied Chasers were hawking along the rim some mating in mid-air. The males with their sky-blue bodies and the females with their conspicuous blue and yellow spots are very dramatic. Chris got a photo of a Emperor Dragonfly which puzzled him as the blue body indicated a male, but appeared to be laying eggs! It was clearly not a male! My book say during warm weather the upper surface of the female's abdomen may become blue.

Chris also spotted a wader close to the pond which from his hazy photo is very likely to be a Green Sandpiper. I have often seen Green Sandpipers up the Ems Valley over the years.

Blackberry correction
Ralph Hollins says the photo of the first Blackberry in yesterday's blog is, in fact, a Dewberry. Some of the distinctive features are that it has relatively low growing bushes with pure white flowers which are usually the first to appear. Its fruits have fewer, but larger, segments with a dull (not shiny) surface)

Portsdown Hill
Ros Norton reported on today's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group:
Report is at . . .

FRIDAY JULY 11 - 2014

Emsworth Railway Wayside
I clambered over the metal railing to have a look at the Railway Wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station which is now looking particularly colourful with a good variety of wild flowers, despite the arid area near the ramp which had been sprayed earlier in the season.

It was good to see lots of Marsh Woundwort flower spikes coming up around the site, though they are not as concentrated in the eastern corner as in previous years due to the invasion of brambles. Other flowers which can easily be seen from the ramp without getting over the rails including Common Knapweed, Great Willowherb, Spear Thistle, Common Fleabane, Wild Carrot, Creeping Thistle, Perennial Sow-thistle, Hedge Bedstraw and Common Centaury - one of my favourites.

The first Cinnabar caterpillars of the year were busy chewing away on Common Ragwort. I also found some on Groundsel which is also in the ragwort family.

Brook Meadow
Walking along the north path towards the railway I discovered the bramble bushes already had a good number of ripe Blackberries. I tried one, but as always, the earliest ones are not really sweet. They will get better and there's lots more to come. It looks like a bumper crop.

I was also pleased to see the Great Burnet still standing tall and with bright red flower heads making it easy to find on the orchid area (which now has no orchids left).

Millpond News
Jackie-Michelle Daines contacted me to say she walks round the town millpond most nights and has been interested to watch progress of the Mute Swan family with four cygnets. She noticed that the adult swans were breaking up bread in the water for the cygnets to eat. However, the cygnets need more than bread to grow properly and the parents' are sensibly continuing to stir up the mud on the bottom of the pond to release small items of natural food (insects) for the youngsters.
Interestingly, Jackie sent me a couple of photos she took at about 10pm last Monday showing the pen swan back on the nest with her brood, presumably to spend the night there. They look quite secure, though I fear the absence of water around the nest could make the cygnets vulnerable to attack from foxes. However, so far so good and the family appear to be thriving, much against my expectations!

Ladybird larva
Jill Stanley sent me this excellent photo of what looks like the larva of a Harlequin Ladybird on a Corn Marigold flower. Jill says these flowers are growing along the inside of the hedge on the road side of the Horndean Road recreation ground, probably from seeds sown by the council when the hedge was planted.


Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports the latest news from the Hampshire Farm open space: "The deer have made it to the pond area of Hampshire Farm at last. I saw this doe feeding along the edge of the pond where the greenery is lush and tender.

There was a Skylark resting on the fence with a beak full of insects so the nest can't be far away. There were also 10 House Martins and 6 Swallows feeding over the water. I have heard that both Bellway and Bloor will be off the site by Christmas, but still no sign of the open space hand-over."

Purple Emperors
Continuing his quest to photograph butterflies this summer Francis Kinsella went to Havant Thicket yesterday and got a photo of a female Purple Emperor, which are typically all brown with no purple. Earlier in the day he got a male Purple Emperor at Alice Holt. Here are two of Francis's photos for comparison.

female Purple Emperor

male Purple Emperor


Millpond News
The most interesting news from this morning's walk around the town millpond was the sight of the first juvenile Black-headed Gulls. I counted 9 individuals among about 100 adults. They are almost certainly from the breeding colony on Hayling Oysterbeds that we have been hearing about in regular reports from Chris Cockburn.

The Mute Swan family from the 'litter nest' still have their four cygnets, which were swimming happily in the low water channel. This is probably good for the cygnets, as it enables them to reach small items of vegetation and insects on the edge of the channel.

A Mallard family of 5 ducklings were snuggled together on a rock at the northern end of the pond.

Hollybank Woods
I had a short walk through the woods early this afternoon. Blackcap and Song Thrush were singing. Prominent along the edges of the paths Enchanter's Nightshade and Selfheal were flowering. I made my way to the Lorton Seat on the eastern bridleway where I sat for 20 minutes or so hoping for White Admirals, but none turned up. I did see a single Silver-washed Fritillary, which did not stop, and a chunky dragonfly - probably a Broad-bodied Chaser. The area to the north of the old Holly Lodge clearing is a good place to see Common Bent-grass - with short blunt ligules. The more common Creeping Bent-grass has long pointed ligules.


Malcolm's news
Malcolm was out early this morning looking for the Kingfisher on Dolphin Lake that Pam Phillips saw there recently, but there was no sign of it. He walked round Slipper Pond where he got this shot of one of the nesting Great Black-backed Gulls on the centre raft with the one remaining chick, now growing well. It should soon be flexing its wings.

Malcolm went back to Brook Meadow before the rain where he saw both Chiffchaff and Blackcap. I could not resist his excellent image of a female Blackcap. Let's hope she managed to breed successfully.

Pignut correction - Valerian
Both Ralph Hollins and Martin Hampton queried my identification of the white flowering plant on Portsdown Hill yesterday as Pignut. Ralph doubted that Pignut would grow on the chalk down of Portsdown Hill. I must admit I was not sure about it, but could not think of anything else it could be. But I was only considering the umbellifers. Martin came to the rescue with Common Valerian. He has started growing it this year and said it looks a lot like my photo. Yes, of course. That is what it is! I should have known, but I see Common Valerian so infrequently that it slips my mind (not difficult at my stage of life). I recall making the same mistake some years ago when looking for Dropwort at this place on Portsdown Hill and finding this mysterious flowering plant. That clump has been there for some years. Thanks Ralph and Martin.

MONDAY JULY 7 - 2014

Portsdown Hill
I had an appointment at QA hospital this morning, so after it had finished I decided to have a look at the wild flowers on the hill and I certainly was not to be disappointed. I parked in the main observation area by the burger van and walked down the grassy slope, then over a stile onto the main flower area. There I found a glorious display of wild flowers of all colours; with the city of Portsmouth and the Solent and Isle of Wight in the background this is a spectacular experience not to be missed!

I was hoping I might find the rare Dropwort which does come up on this hillside at this time of the year. I thought I had found it when I saw a white flowered umbellifer, but it turned out to be Common Valerian - see correction in next day's blog.

Some of the other flowers included Smooth Hawk's-beard, Lesser Hawkbit, Hemp Agrimony, Agrimony, Greater Knapweed including a white form, Wild Mignonette, Marjoram, Knapweed Broomrape, Hedge Bedstraw (abundant), Ladies Bedstraw, Wild Parsnip, Wild Carrot, Viper's-bugloss, Harebell, Eyebright, Thrift, Restharrow and Yellow-wort. I could just make out Salad Burnet which had totally finished. Dominant grasses were Upright Brome and Smaller Cat's-tail (a small version of Timothy).
Here are a few photos, but they do not do them full justice. They must be seen.

Greater Knapweed
Greater Knapweed - white form
Knapweed Broomrape

SUNDAY JULY 6 - 2014

Brook Meadow work session
I went over to the meadow this morning for the regular conservation work session which was attended by 10 volunteers. Lesley Harris explained the main jobs for the morning which were mainly clearing the casual paths through the main meadow by mowing, strimming and shearing and making a start to laying a path to the new tool shed which was under the supervision of Maurice Lillie as shown in the photo.

Black Bent-grass
I did not have much in the way of wildlife observations. My best find was the first Black Bent-grass (Agrostis gigantea) of the year on the west bank of the Lumley Stream. This is easily distinguished from the more common Creeping Bent-grass by its large size, its extra long panicle (25cm) and its long, blunt and ragged ligules. No photo!

I saw a number of butterflies during the morning including Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Marbled White, Ringlet and Large Skipper, but no Small Skipper as yet on the meadow.
Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow this afternoon when he also got a good assortment of butterflies, including a rather nice Green-veined White which I have not seen for a while.

Mystery fly
I came across a large fly with a white band across the top of its abdomen and large dark spots on its wings feeding on the flower head of a Hogweed. I don't recall having seen one of these before, but my best guess from Chinery's Guide to Insects is Volucella pellucens (Chinery p. 206). It is sometimes called the Pellucid Hoverfly presumably from the apparently translucid band across its body. It is one of the largest flies in Britain. and inhabits hedgerows, woods and copses where it favours Bramble flowers and umbellifers. Its larvae live in the nests of social wasps and bumblebees, eating waste products and the bee larvae. It is common throughout Britain.

Chris Oakley had this fine dragonfly in his garden today. It certainly looks like a Southern Hawker, probably an immature one from its very pale colouring.

Deckhouses Estate pond
When passing the Deckhouses Estate on my way down to North Thorney I have noticed a pair of Mute Swans on the pond to the south of the housing estate and wondered if they might be nesting. Well, Kim Robinson provided a definitive answer. Yes, the swan pair did nest and hatched four cygnets on June 19th. Kim is lucky enough to have a 'birds eye' view of the pond from her deckhouse balcony and says all cygnets seem to be doing very well. I have asked Kim to keep an eye on the family and to let us know any developments.
Kim asked about feeding and my advice was she should leave well alone. The parents are well able to look after their own brood. Bread is certainly not good for them. The pond is pretty rich from a wildlife point of view so the cygnets should have plenty of nourishment that they need to grow from insects etc.

The large Mallard family on the pond did not fare so well; they started off with an astonishing 13 ducklings, but Kim fears they are all lost - probably to Mr Fox. Although none of the ducklings appear to have made it, I thought Kim's photo was a fitting tribute to such a fine family in its prime.


Early Kingfisher?
Regarding the apparently very early early Kingfisher that Pam Phillips saw yesterday flying amongst the boats in Dolphin Quay, Ralph Hollins offered the following explanation:
"The survival strategy of Kingfishers is similar to that of Water Voles - they produce as many young as they can each year, driving their young away as soon as they can in order to start the next brood
. . . see
Kingfishers normally lay seven eggs which hatch in a dark underground nest where the parents feed the chicks well but when the young make their way down the tunnel to get their first experience of daylight, air, and water I have heard one Kingfisher specialist say that the adults do not recognize them as their young but see them as invaders of their fishing territory and drive them away without so much as a single fishing lesson to prepare them for survival.
The result is that the very inexperienced juveniles head off downstream and those that survive the hazards of drowning or breaking their necks by flying into things start to reach the coast in early summer. These young birds can be recognized by two features - they have a tiny white tip to their bills and have dull coloured feet - not the bright orange of adults".

Ros Norton reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group.
Their best sighting was Dittander, a white crucifer which is extinct in Hampshire and just beginning to flower by the harbour.
Full report at . . .

FRIDAY JULY 4 - 2014

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had some interesting sightings today on Brook Meadow. One was a tiny mouse clambering through vegetation. Although Malcolm's photo does not show the whole animal, my guess is that it was a Harvest Mouse, ie, blunt nose, brown fur and pale underparts. This was Malcolm's second sighting of a Harvest Mouse on Brook Meadow, the previous one was on June 16. So we could have more than one!

Malcolm also got a nice photo of a Gatekeeper showing both the double-pupilled eyespot and the white dots on the underwing. As an interesting contrast, Malcolm also got a picture of a very tatty Meadow Brown with a single-pupilled eyespot and the black dots on the underwing.


Meadow Brown

When he got back to his flat Malcolm found this fellow on his wall - looks like a Swallowtailed Moth which I believe Malcolm has also photographed before.

Chris Oakley and his wife went for a walk around the Chichester Walls this morning, starting at the Cathedral Restaurant they were entertained by one of the Peregrines spiralling low overhead.
Chris says the Bishop's Garden is at its best now and is pleased to see some weeds are allowed to flourish. I agree. In fact, from what I recall, they have made quite a feature of the 'wild garden'.
Chris got this photo of a Herring Gull with her chicks on a chimney stack of a cottage in Orchard Street which runs parallel with the North Quadrant.

When he got back home Chris had a visit from this little chap - a Harlequin Ladybird larva.

Pam Phillips saw her first Kingfisher of the year flying amongst the boats in Dolphin Quay at 7.10 this morning. It certainly does seem a bit early for them to be leaving their nesting sites.


Butterflies in Havant Thicket
Barry Collins saw an astonishing variety of butterflies during a cycle ride in Havant Thicket yesterday:
"I had a cycle ride to various locations in Havant Thicket via Bell's Copse today from 0930-1345 which turned out to be a good purple day. I had at least 6 Purple Emperors one of the males which I encountered flew around me a couple of times probably attracted to my blue and white tea shirt and then landed on the footpath only feet from where I was standing, a magical moment. Other butterflies seen included Silver-washed Fritillary 15, White Admiral 2, Brimstone 5, Red Admiral 1, Speckled Wood 2, Gatekeeper 2 and numerous numbers of the following species Meadow Brown, Large and Small Skippers, Ringlets, Marbled Whites and Small White." (as reported on Hampshire Butterfly Conservation).


Swan news
The Mute Swan family were swimming serenely on the town millpond when I went past this morning with the two adults closely guarding the 4 tiny cygnets. The cygnets were looking well nourished helped no doubt by the food they got in the Westbrook Stream. People were tossing seeds and bread into the water, which were largely ignored by the cygnets. The adult swans were using their webbed feet to stir up the mud at the bottom of the pond to bring up small items of insect food for the cygnets. There is hope for them yet!

Concerning the missing cygnet on Peter Pond, I had an e-mail from Pam Phillips this morning to say it was back! She said the two cygnets were with their parents on the embankment on the east side of Peter Pond at 7am. I assume the missing cygnet got separated from its parents yesterday, but managed to find its way back! The family were all back together when I went over later this morning with the cygnets looking none the worse for their adventure.

Other millpond news
The Great Black-backed Gull chick was having a swim around the raft on Slipper Millpond when I arrived there at about 11.30am while the female parent stood on watch on the raft, constantly calling to her offspring. The chick made several circuits of the raft while I was there and looks perfectly healthy.

A Coot and three growing chicks were on the north raft of Slipper Millpond, another indication of the lower than usual predation of chicks by the large gulls this year.

Wild Carrot is now in full flower on the east side of Peter Pond with a number of red Soldier Beetles on the flowerhead.

Brook Meadow
I met a chap at the Lumley gate who told me he had just seen two metallic blue butterflies which he did not recognise fluttering around near the south bridge. I went over to have a look and, as I suspected, the butterflies were in fact two male Beautiful Demoiselles. I watched them chasing one another around for several minutes, hardly pausing for a second. There is no doubt they were both males. This was my best photo.

I found my first Marsh Woundwort of the year on Brook Meadow, not quite in flower, but pushing its way through the tangled vegetation at the northern end of the Bramble path. The first Wild Angelica of the year was in flower on the Lumley area with a Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Moth feeding on the flowerhead.

Sharp-flowered Rush is in flower all over the Lumley area with its red tinged spikelets showing strongly.

Fox behaviour
Chris Oakley who, lives in North Emsworth has been talking to his neighbours about the strange behaviour of their local foxes. In one incident a resident left out a charity bag full of clothes which the foxes opened and spread the contents right down the road.
Another case concerns Chris's neighbour who told him that something was pulling up one of his Petunias in the flower bed each night, always the same plant. So, detective Chris set up his camera and caught the culprit red-handed. It was one of the fox cubs, who made straight for that particular plant and pulled it up. The cub doesn't take it away or try to eat it, just pulls it up. Most peculiar.


Peter Pond swans
When I walked past Peter Pond at about 12 noon the Mute Swan pair was on the water with only one cygnet. They definitely had the two when I went past yesterday. So, from seven at hatching they are down to bare bones.

Later this afternoon I met Pam Phillips who told me she had seen mum with the two cygnets at 7.10am swimming down Dolphin Lake. However, by 8.30am when Pam was passing Peter Pond, the parents were in their usual spot on the grass verge on the east side of the pond with just one cygnet.
So, the other one cygnet must have gone missing in the hour and a half between these two times. The tide would have been right out and the cygnets and their mum would have had quite a climb to get over the embankment from Dolphin Lake to Slipper Millpond which is when the loss could have happened. Taken by a Fox? Or even by one of the Great Black-backed Gulls? Or just the fact that the youngster was not able to clamber over the embankment and remained in Dolphin Lake. Last year, I recall at least two of the Peter Pond swan's cygnets were lost in the harbour having fallen over the sluice gate at the south end of Slipper Millpond. If anyone has any further information I would like to know.

Millpond swans
I had a look at the town millpond swan nest a couple of times this morning, but both times the nest was empty but for the two unhatched eggs. There was no sign of the swans or cygnets anywhere on the millpond. I had another try in the afternoon when I finally located them beneath the new grill over the Westbrook Stream at the corner of Bridge Road and St James Road. The four cygnets can be seen in the photo between the two adults.

They clearly were quite happy and all six were feeding on the algae, bits of vegetation and small insects that collect in this area. Swans have often moved through the culvert in previous years, sometimes even getting into the Westbrook Stream behind the car park, though this is no longer possible due to the new grill installed a couple of years ago by the Environment Agency.
I just hope that no well meaning persons report the swans to the RSPCA or such body as being in danger, for they are in no sense trapped and know exactly what they are doing. They can easily get back to the millpond and will probably go back there from time to time. But here in the tunnel they are in a safe environment away from the attentions of Foxes, in a cool environment out of the direct sun, and probably in the only place where the cygnets could possibly get enough nutritious food to grow and survive.

Waysides News
I noticed a good flowering of Ladies Bedstraw on the grass verge on Bridge Road Wayside

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips Did not have a lot to report today apart from some butterflies, notably Small Tortoiseshell and Marbled White which is says is very prominent on the Lumley area. He also got this shot of one of Brook Meadow's most identifiable insects due to its swollen thighs. I usually refer to it as the 'thigh beetle' though it proper name is Oedemera nobilis.

For earlier observations go to . . June 24-30