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A community web site dedicated to the observation, recording
and protection of the wildlife of the Emsworth area

Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day (Ralph Hollins)

for August 1-16, 2014
in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Oak leaf infections
I had a look at the three Jubilee Oak saplings that were planted on the on the Seagull Lane patch in 2012. They all seem to be growing well, though some leaves have a variety of things growing on them. Spangle galls were the most common; these are caused by the wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. Some leaves had a whitish fungal growth shown on the leaf on the right in the photo, which I have not identified.

Other oak leaves had damage in which the inside of the leaf had apparently been eaten leaving only a skeleton of cells. This reminded me of leaf miner grub damage, but there was no sign of the culprit.

I also had a look at the medium sized Oaks on the east side of the north meadow where I found Knopper galls and marble galls. Knopper galls are hard irregular distortions of an acorn caused by the wasp Andricus quercuscalicis.

Marble galls are round, smooth and hard growths caused by the wasp Andricus kollari. Note, these are not the same as oak apple galls which are spongy and irregular and contain many insects.

Common Orache?
I noticed some goosefoot plants by the south gate. They don't look like the usual Spear-leaved Orache which is fairly common the meadow. However, the triangular shape of mid-stem leaves with basal lobes pointing forward and narrowing into the stalk suggests Common Orache. If confirmed this would be a new plant for the Brook Meadow list!

Insects on Wild Angelica
Wild Angelica plants are looking good on the Lumley area with their flower heads attracting lots of insects. I spotted this bright yellow and black wasp-like insect feeding on one of the flower heads. My very tentative identification is Ceramius lusitanicus - (Chinery p. 240).

David Minns was sitting on the seat overlooking the main meadow yesterday when a bird flying fast across the meadow from east to west caught his eye. As it passed David saw its bright blue rump - yes it was a Kingfisher. This was only the second time he'd see one here. This may have been one of the juveniles dispersing from breeding sites further up the Ems Valley.

Old Winchester Hill
Heather Mills reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group.

See report at . . .


Brook Meadow
I had a quiet stroll through the meadow this morning. Had a look along the river path for dragonflies, but only spotted a Common Darter. There was a Moorhen family on the river south of the S-bend with mum feeding two tiny chicks, clucking constantly to keep them in touch. Good to see. We usually have three Moorhen pairs on the river. This is a late brood.

Hoary Ragwort is always one of the latest plants to flower; the small yellow flowers are now starting to show on the orchid area. The Strawberry Clover fruits on the east side of the Lumley area are ripening fast and look almost good enough to eat! Not seriously.

Pam Phillips spotted a young Water Vole behind the new sign north of the bulrushes this morning at 7.30am. It was munching away at vegetation near the west bank. It is the first one she has seen for months.
Pam also saw 2 rabbits hopping along the path near the Rowans the other morning. Rabbits are unusual on Brook Meadow.

Emsworth Harbour
I had a quick look at the harbour this morning. I counted 32 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 in the upper channel and 24 on the far side of the main channel. I could not make out any colour-rings, though there could well have been some. Other birds included small numbers of Redshank, Turnstone, Curlew and a single Dunlin with the godwits. Dunlin is a common breeder in Iceland and this bird probably came down with the Black-tailed Godwits as did the Turnstone.

Wax Moth larvae in Bumblebee nest!
I am very grateful to Chris Oakley for pointing out that the yellow grubs I found in the Bumblebee nest yesterday were not Bumblebee larvae, but larvae of the dreaded wax moth. As an ex-beekeeper Chris says they are capable of destroying an entire hive in just a few months. The larvae feed on both wax and honey thereby contaminating it. There is no sure way of getting rid of them them, so the infected combs have to be removed and burned. They are bad news for honey-bees and for wild ones as well, the only difference being, that the wild bees make new nests each season.
I checked on Google and the images of the wax moth larva are identical to those yellow grubs I found in the nest. The wax moth larvae tunnel through the nest, leaving a tough silk screen to hide behind and to feed in relative safety from the bumblebees, which have difficulty penetrating it. This is clearly the wooly substance that was prominent in the nest that I dismantled. I hope the new Bumblebee queens managed to disperse before any serious damage was done.
A good account of the havoc produced by the wax moth larvae in a Bumblebee nest can be seen at . . .
This site also has photos of the inside of a Bumblebee nest that has been invaded by this moth, which are just like those I took yesterday. The scientific name of the moth is Aphomia sociella and it is a parasite of bees and wasps. It is a small moth and enters the nest undetected, at night when nest activity is at it lowest. This is the only moth that occurs in bumblebee nests and is not to be confused with the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella) which is attracted to honey bees.

Arundel Wetlands Centre
Malcolm Phillips and Jenny had a good day at the Arundel Wetlands Centre. In one of the hides they a found a nesting family of Swallows.

They also went on the boat trip and got the regulation sighting of a Water Vole.


Emsworth Harbour
This morning I positioned myself on the marina seawall at 11am (about 4 hours to high water) and watched the tide come in for the next hour. The godwits were feeding in two groups with 17 in the upper channel and another 15 in the lower channel off the Thorney shore, making a total of 32 Black-tailed Godwits in all. Among the former group were two colour-ringed birds: G+WR which I first saw yesterday and O+OL.

O+OL - has been a fairly regular wintering bird in Emsworth Harbour since it was ringed as a first summer male on 26-Jun-05 on Thorney Island. It has also been seen in several other local sites, including Fishbourne, Bosham, Pagham Harbour and Pulborough Brooks. However, I had no record of it in Emsworth at all last winter. This was my first sighting this winter season.
There were several Greenshank on the mudflats, but I picked up just two of the colour-rings, both regulars, GN+YY and RG+BY.

Tree Bumblebee nest
I had a phone call from an old friend Colin Harrington to say he had a Bumblebee nest in a bird box in his garden which he thought I might be interested in. I certainly was and went over to his house at Denvilles to take a look. The bees had gone and Colin had removed the bird box which was a multi-hole design nesting box. The front has been removed to show the nest.

Colin was sure they were Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum), which have a ginger thorax with a dark abdomen and white tail. They have only been seen in Southern England for the last 13 years, but are becoming more common. They typically nest in old burrows, on the ground, or in elevated places like trees or bird boxes, as in Colin's case. Last year my neighbour had a nest under the eaves in his roof. Bumblebee expert Bryan Pinchen stressed that Bumblebee nests should not be disturbed as they are not harmful and do not cause any damage. Tree Bumblebees complete their cycle in early summer and then leave the nest.

When I got home I proceeded to extract the Bumblebee nest which was not an easy job as it was fairly solid structure and glued securely to the walls of the nest box. The cells of the nest were clearly visible, woven together with a wool-like material. They looked rather messy and untidy in comparison with the neatly packed hexagonal cells of a Honey Bee nest.

I disturbed a number of yellow grubs, which I assume were Bumblebee larvae which got left in the nest when the Queen and the rest of the bees dispersed. They were still very much alive. This one was crawling away.

CORRECTION - The grubs were not the larvae of the Bumblebees but of the dreaded Wax Moth larvae. Let's hope the bees escaped before any serious damage was done. See tomorrow's blog entry for more information.

Finally I spotted one small bee (quite dead) which had also been left behind in the nest.

Migrant Hawkers
Malcolm Phillips got a cracking photo of a male Migrant Hawker on Brook Meadow this morning. He said there were three on one plant near the S-bend in the river!

We often get Migrant Hawkers on the meadow in late summer. In the 1940s Migrant Hawkers were uncommon migrants from Southern Europe, but they have gradually extended their range and now breed widely in the south and east of England. There are still regular migrations from the Continent increasing the population in late summer; these could be the ones that we tend to see on Brook Meadow at this time of the year.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby went along the Warblington shore from 10:05am to Noon. Species of note were as follows:
Off Conigar Point: 8 Ringed Plover, 2 Lapwing, 6 Dunlin, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Greenshank (one with rings RW - /BYtag -), 1 Common Tern, 1 Little Tern.
Tamarisk Hedge by the point: 3+ Chiffchaff, 4+ Willow Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 3 Stock Dove, 1 Wheatear on the stone wall very briefly (Peter's first).
Off Pook Lane: 11 Grey Plover, 12 Dunlin, 1 winter Black-tailed Godwit, 1 winter Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Greenshank (only ring close enough was G - R/GRtag -), 7 Common Gulls, 108+ Redshank.
Langstone Mill Pond: 62 Little Egrets loitering in the trees with 3 Grey Herons.

Malcolm's 'Chiffchaff'
Peter thinks Malcolm Phillips's bird that he took yesterday on Peter Pond was in fact a Willow Warbler and not as I thought a Chiffchaff. He says, "greenish tone, pale yellow supercilium and pale legs and feet; the primary extension is virtually the same length as the tertials - all this is indicative of a Willow Warbler. In Chiffchaff the primary extension is half the length of the tertials." The pale legs also supports Willow Warbler. I'm not going to argue with Peter's greater experience, but it just goes to show how difficult distinguishing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler is until they actually sing!


Emsworth Harbour
I positioned myself on the marina seawall at 10am and waited for an hour or so for the incoming tide to push some Black-tailed Godwits my way. But annoyingly that did not happen. The conditions were fairly good, despite the stiff breeze blowing into my face, but the main flock of Godwits that I saw here on Aug 9 did not turn up. About 20 or so were feeding in amongst the boats on the far side side of the channel.
However, I did find my first colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit of the year G+WR. This is an 'old friend' over many years in Emsworth and it was good to see it back 'home'. G+WR has been a regular wintering bird in Emsworth Harbour in the six winter seasons since it was ringed by Pete Potts and his team at Farlington Marshes on 10-Sep-08 as an adult male. Overall, it was my 100th sighting of the bird in Emsworth!

There were also three colour-ringed Greenshanks feeding in the pools in the harbour.
GN+YY - My 2nd sighting this season - first on 09-Aug-14.
G+BY tag - This was my first sighting of this bird.
RG+BY tag - My 6th sighting in Emsworth Harbour since 04-Apr-13.

Greenshanks RG+BY and G+BY were feeding together for much of the time

Other birds seen in the harbour: Little Egrets, Redshank, Turnstone and Curlew, plus the usual collection of gulls.

Jeff Flemming's photos
Jeff Fleming sent me his photos on a CD of the Water Voles he saw on Aug 7 on Brook Meadow. In fact, he had two sightings, one in section B by the gasholder and the other in Section C south of the S-bend. Here is Jeff's excellent photo of the former vole feeding on river weed.

Jeff also got some interesting photos of Common Darters in flight. He explained that the shutter speed on his camera was not fast enought to freeze the wings in flight, but the suspended body shows up really well.

Malcolm Phillips went down to Peter Pond this morning with his camera and got this rather nice photo of a Chiffchaff in the reeds. The photo shows well the short primary projection of the wing feathers, which distinguishes it from a Willow Warbler. Chiffchaffs will be here for some while yet, in fact, some will probably overwinter in our area.

Sorry, the date of this photo should be 13 August 2014

CORRECTION - This bird was probably a Willow Warbler. See next day's blog entry.

Bee with pollen
Charlie Annalls was on Hilsea Lines where she got this amazing photo of a Honeybee carrying huge pollen baskets on its legs.

Sorry, the date of this photo should be 13 August 2014


Greater and Lesser Burdock
Peter Milinets-Raby decided to take a look at the Greater Burdock along the southern edge of Emsworth Recreation Ground and took several close-up photos of the flowers to compare them with the Lesser Burdock flowers at Conigar Point. I found the differences difficult to see. In fact, the key difference between the two plants is not so much the flowers themselves, but the way they are arranged. The flowers of Greater Burdock tend to be arranged in a flat-topped cluster with relatively long stalks (up to 10cm). The flowers of Lesser Burdock are spread out down the stem and the stalks are shorter. Here is a photo of the Greater Burdock I took last year which shows this.


But the most reliable way of distinguishing between the two plants is to cut through a basal leaf stalk; the stalk is solid in Greater Burdock and hollow in Lesser Burdock. There is no doubt that the plants on the Emsworth Recreation Ground are Greater Burdock as I have checked the stalks and they are definitely solid. Martin Rand confirmed the identification.

 Amphibians galore
Mark Ringwood's garden in Lumley Terrace backs onto Brook Meadow and has recently seen a 'huge' upsurge in the numbers of Frogs, Newts and Toads. He wants to "raise their existence as they seem to be unsung heroes". Good for you, Mark.

 Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley took a walk over to the Hampshire Farm pond this afternoon and despite the recent rain the water level remains the same. He says, "There were traces of water from two of the drains and the main inlet but nothing like what you might have expected from the downpours we have had. I assume that the ground is soaking it up.
It was lovely and warm despite the wind. Not so many birds today. Only five House Martins and three Swallows. One pleasing sight was the flock of perhaps fifty House Sparrows but - I also found the remains of two Black-headed Gulls.
The Common Blue butterflies are still around as are the Blue Damselflies. There were several Broad-bodied Chasers and a couple of Emperor Dragonflies.
Some of the summer flowers are blooming again including Corn-cockle, Corn Marigold and the Red Bartsia. Fleabane is colouring the meadow a golden yellow at the top end of the site which is under clouds of Thistle down caught up in the wind. The blackberries are variable in taste some beautifully sweet and others that make your teeth itch."


Arundel Wetlands Centre
Jean and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary with a visit to the Arundel Wetlands Centre. And very good it was too, such a big improvement from when we were last here a few years ago when the huge reconstruction of the reserve was taking place. Most of the captive birds were still there, e.g., Nene, Ruddy Shelduck, Whistling Ducks, Black-headed Swans, etc, though fewer in number than I recall from years ago. However, there were plenty of wild bird sightings on the boards, including Sand Martins feeding over the water, a pair of Kingfisher, a Common Sandpiper, a Red Kite and Kestrel.
But the big change we noticed was the emphasis there is now on non-bird wildlife, e.g., Water Voles, wild flowers and insects. For example, there was a superb 'Meadow Maze' where paths had been cut through a small meadow which was ablaze with wild flowers attracting lots of insects.

There was such a great atmosphere on the reserve with lots of families with young children. There is plenty to attract them. There were also helpful human reserve guides and informative notices.
Among the plants in flower along the paths were Hemp Agrimony, Purple Loosestrife, Wild Angelica, Water Mint, Common Fleabane, Common Ragwort, Teasel and masses of Tansy - the first I have seen this year.

We stopped for lunch, then went on the boat safari for the first time ever. It was an interesting experience to weave in and out of the reedbeds on a silent boat. We were lucky to get views of two Water Voles, one adult and one juvenile, though both were partly hidden in the reeds as we passed by. Here is my best shot of the adult. Don't laugh, Malcolm!

While walking round the reserve we came across an Elephant Hawkmoth larva slowly crawling across a gravel path in the hot sun. It was attracting the interest of some Nene geese nearby so I moved it across to the grass verge where it would be safer. I noticed it retracted its snout when I tried to pick it up, not an easy job!

The Arundel Wetlands Centre has a revamped web site containing an interesting video wildlife diary from reserve manager Paul Stevens, including sightings of Lesser Centaury and Brookweed.


Emsworth Harbour
15:00 - I timed my visit to the harbour for about 4 hours after high water which is usually good for Black-tailed Godwits. This was my first visit of the new season and I was looking forward to seeing a good flock. ! The tide was right and conditions were good apart from a strong wind blowing straight into my face.
And there they were, just as predicted feeding in a loose flock on the mudflats off theWickor Bank. I counted 71 Black-tailed Godwits, including many in various stages of moulting from their summer plumage.

I looked for any juveniles but did not see any, though it would be a bit early for youngsters to arrive from their breeding grounds in Iceland. These early birds will probably be non-breeders or failed breeders. I went through the flock several times for colour-ringed birds, but again did not see any. However, it was so good to get back to birdwatching in my favourite habitat and to see good numbers of my favourite wader.
There was a colour-ringed Greenshank on the mudflats with the combination GN+YY - I think the black ring could have been tagged. I have no previous record of this bird so will pass it onto Anne de Potier who is now keeping the colour-ringed Greenshank records.

There was not much else in the harbour apart from a few Redshank, a Curlew and the usual gulls.

Havant Water Voles
Malcolm Phillips went over to Havant to look at the Water Voles on the Langbrook Stream. He and Jenny stood for about an hour and a half watching them feeding, they seemed to be everywhere and they counted 8 altogether. Here is a couple of the photos Malcolm sent. Three of the photos showed a vole with a damaged left eye which might help to identify it in future.

Here is another of Malcolm's photos of a Water Vole with a normal left eye.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby did his regular jaunt along the Warblington shore this morning from 6:50am to 8:45am. It was cold and windy and he needed gloves for the first time. Autumn is certainly coming. The highlights were as follows:
Ibis Field: 70+ Goldfinch in cemetery extension, Moorhen.
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Reed Warbler (one seen very well with bright yellow feet!), 4 Long-tailed Tits, Lesser Whitethroat, 8+ Willow Warbler (nice photo of one). Tamarisk Hedge: 1+ Chiffchaff calling

Conigar Point: (surprisingly quiet). 21 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 1 winter Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Lapwing, 10 Swallows over heading south.
Pook Lane: 1 Whimbrel, 48 Dunlin, Common Tern, Sand Martin, 15 Greenshank (note ring colours - two birds with same combination, but one colour below the knee on the left leg. G//R+GO, G//R+YN, R//G+YYtag, RG+YYtag, G//R+BBtag, N//R+RY.

Wheatear in garden
This evening at 5:50pm a Wheatear was a pleasant addition to Peter's garden list. It spent the next hour and a half enjoying the garden of a house three gardens down. He was lucky to grab the photo of it on the roof of the shed - the same one the 33 House Sparrows like to sit on in the morning sunshine!


Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was up early this morning to have a walk along the Warblington shore (6:50am to 8:40am. A quick incoming tide meant he never reached Pook Lane before the waders flew off. Highlights:
Ibis field: 3 Whitethroat, 1 Chiffchaff, 70+ Goldfinch feeding in the wild patch in the cemetery extension.
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler (always weird seeing this bird out of habitat).
Tamarisk Hedge at Conigar Point: 8+ Willow Warbler (nice to see the hedge alive with birds), 3+ Chiffchaff.
Conigar Point: 1 Whimbrel, 13 Grey Plover, 64 Dunlin, Spotted Redshank (pale looking winter plumage), 5 Greenshank (G - R/BBtag -) and then 3 flew off from Pook Lane and headed towards Thorney. 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Lapwing, 1 Common Tern, 1 Black-tailed Godwit (Summer), 51 Oystercatcher (pre high tide gathering before heading to roost).

Waders feeling the strain on UK estuaries
The British Trust for Ornithology report that August is a key month for wader-watching, with numbers peaking as juvenile birds follow their parents southwards. While many waders pass through Britain and Ireland, a significant proportion overwinter here. The recently-published Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) report highlights several species whose UK winter populations are in long-term decline. These include Ringed Plover, Redshank and Lapwing. However, good news is that both Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet show a population increase of around 50% over the last decade. See summary of results at . . .


Water Vole

I had a phone call from Jeff Fleming at 8.30am to say he had just seen and got a photo of a young Water Vole feeding on the west bank of the river, immediately opposite the new Water Vole conservation area sign to the south of the S-bend (C). A bit later Jeff had another sighting of what was probably a different Water Vole feeding in the river in front of the old gasholder (B). Here is Jeff's excellent photo of the latter one.


While I was with Jeff I was interested to see a good growth of Gipsywort on the west bank of the river near the Water Vole sighting. The New Atlas indicates that Gipsywort is often an early colonist of exposed mud and shallow standing water in newly created wetlands, a characteristic which might account for its abundant appearance along the banks of the River Ems this year following the winter floods.

I went over to Brook Meadow again this afternoon. Jeff Fleming was still there sitting in the full sun on the west side of the centre meadow surrounded by molehills! This is one of the areas recently cut by Martin Cull and all the molehills looked fairly fresh; in fact, one was in the process of being built while we were watching.

Later, I found more fresh molehills on the cut area of the north meadow. I do not associate molehills with summer, but rather with the beginning of spring when the males extend their burrows. However, burrows have another imortant function at this time of the year, namely providing food for the inhabitants. The burrows act as a food trap, for invertebrate prey, such as earthworms and insect larvae. Regarding the current activity, my guess is that the extremely dry weather has prompted the moles into digging new tunnels to provide more food for their young. The same thing happens in exceptionally cold weather when the ground freezes.
For surveys of molehills on Brook Meadow in 2005 and 2010 see . . .

Grey Mullett
Walking past Peter Pond, I stopped to admire the shoals of Grey Mullett of various sizes that were swirling around in the shallow water near the road.

Malcolm Phillips went for a walk to the marina today where he found a rather handsome first winter Wheatear. This bird is the start of the autumn Wheatear passage which will carry on until October.


Greater Burdock
I was pleased to see that the rare Greater Burdock (Articium lappa) on the verge by the pony field had been spared by the council cutters when they strimmed the edges of the wayside path from the end of Washington Road to Emsworth Recreation Ground. I could not see any sign of flowers on the Greater Burdock plants. Maybe they had been and gone?

Narrow-leaved Water-plantain
This morning I discovered another two plants of Narrow-leaved Water-plantain (Alisma lanceolata) in the northern section of the Westbrook Stream towards Victoria Road, making three in total. This is good news as I thought they had all perished in the winter floods. There are none in the stream adjacent to the Bridge Road Wayside, but hopefully seeds from these surviving plants will spread downstream to produce new plants next year.

Clouded Yellow
I had a quick look at the Railway Wayside north of Emsworth Railway Station which is a blaze of colour, yellow, red, white, blue and pink. I found Clouded Yellow fluttering around the plants. This insect looked a bit battered, so maybe it was the same one I saw a few weeks ago on July 21. It was constantly on the move and kept hiding away in the tangled vegetation. This was the best shot I could get of it.

Fighting bees?
While on Brook Meadow this morning Malcolm Phillips saw what he thought were bees fighting among themselves. I think Malcolm's bees were, in fact, Drone Flies (Eristalis tenax) - so-called for their close resemblance to honey bee drones. They are nectar feeders, so there would seem no obvious reason why they should be fighting. My guess is that they were mating, or indulging in some pre-copulation ritual.

Water Voles at Havant
Water Voles are still flourishing in the Langbrook Stream in Havant. On Sunday Aug 3, Ralph Hollins saw a plump Water Vole swimming along the channel of the Mill Pond which runs north below the white wavy metal fencing. Shortly after the Vole climbed out of the water and vanished into a proper tunnel, giving Ralph the impression that one or more Voles have taken up permanent residence in this pond where they have been seen since Jan 23 this year and in previous years.

Little Egret roost at Langstone
The Little Egret night roost at Langstone Mill Pond is building up. On Saturday Aug 2, Ralph Hollins counted a total of 132 compared to 85 on June 18 and 95 on July 16.


Brook Meadow
I had a late afternoon walk through the meadow. Four Carrion Crows were foraging around on the newly cut north meadow, clearly finding plenty of good stuff there. Although many animals and insects are killed by the cutting, other wildlife benefits.
I had a mooch around in the orchid area which was a mass of flowering Common Fleabane. The Hemp Agrimony has also done well this year with several clumps in flower.
I was pleased to see a good number of flowering plants of Square-stalked St John's-wort which I find every year only in this area. Hoary Ragwort is not quite in flower; it is always one of the latest to open up. The red flower heads of Great Burnet are still standing.
Over to the Lumley area which also was dominated by the yellow flowers of Common Fleabane. The red spikelets of Sharp-flowered Rush are still showing well. I found some Pepper-saxifrage flowers open on the east side of the Lumley area.

I came across a bright Comma butterfly, which could have been one of the hutchinsoni variety which come out in the midsummer emergence.

I spotted a tiny micro-moth on vegetation near the Lumley area. I have seen this one several times over the years, not just on Brook Meadow. I am fairly sure it is called Pyraustra aurata. Malcolm Phillips got one earlier this year on 9 June.

Water Vole
Malcolm Phillips saw a Water Vole swim across the river by the south bridge, but could not get a photo. People keep asking me how the Water Voles are doing and I have to say not too good following the severe flooding of the river last winter. Malcolm's sighting was number 48 for 2014, which is lower than any year since 2007 when we had not really got our act together on the Water Vole recording lark. Worryingly, nearly all recent sightings have been from the south bridge which suggests the same vole(s) is being seen over and over again.

Millpond News
Earlier today, while passing the town millpond I noticed that the Mute Swan pair still had their single cygnet, which though very tiny, looked healthy enough.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley had another first for Hampshire Farm today, namely a Sand Wasp (Ammophila sabulosa). Chris says the waist is not easily seen in this photo but others show it more clearly, although they are not so sharp. Frankly, I have never heard of this one, though it is covered in Chinery's book where it says it nests in sandy places well-stocked with hairy caterpillars. There is an illustration in my copy of Chinery of a Sand Wasp dragging a huge caterpillar to its burrow! Bryan Pinchen tells me the Sand wasp Ammophila is actually an Ichneumon wasp.


Autumn song of Robin
I heard the first autumn song of a Robin from my garden at about 8am this morning. The song is thin and wistful, nothing like the cheery, bold and confident spring song that comes later. This is quite early. Last year I heard the first autumn song on Sept 3rd and in 2012 it was just one day earlier on Sept 2nd.

Brook Meadow work session
This morning's work session attracted 17 volunteers who gathered at the new tool store on the Seagull Lane patch for the first time. This will now be the new venue for future workdays. Jennifer Rye briefed the volunteers on the main tasks which included clearing overhanging bramble spurs from the paths through the south meadow and clearing up the large amount of litter that had accumulated in the north-east corner of Palmer's Road Copse where

Willow leaf galls
The leaves on one of the Crack Willows close to the new tool store were infested with tiny red bean galls. I think these could be the larvae of the sawfly Pontania proxima, though apparently there are many similar species whose larvae live in galls on willows.

First Clouded Yellow
Following his discovery of the first Painted Lady of the year on Brook Meadow on 31 July, Malcolm Phillips went one step better today with the first Clouded Yellow of the year. How patience with the camera pays off.

Mute Swan news
Kim Robinson was delighted to come back from a camping holiday in Wales to see all four swan cygnets, just over 6 weeks old, looking great on the Deckhouses Estate pond. That is a very good habitat for them.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby said it was a chilly 12C this morning at 7am and with the brisk wind it felt like autumn. He walked along the Warblington shore via the Sweet Corn fields at the back of Conigar Point (7:05am to 9:21am). Main sightings:
Ibis Field Hedge: 35+ Goldfinch feeding in the wild flower patch of the cemetery extension, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap (male and a juv female), 2+ Chiffchaff, Stock Dove.
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler (see photo), Reed Warbler in the hedge, 3 Long-tailed Tits, Lesser Whitethroat.

Conigar Point: 5 juv Shelduck, 1 Black-tailed Godwit (winter), 4 Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank G - R/BBtag -, 4 Dunlin, 4 Little Tern, 6 Common Tern, 4 Little Egret.
Pook Lane: 7 Greenshank G - R/GO - and RG - /YYtag - 13 Grey Plover, 28 Dunlin, 1 partial summer plumaged Knot.

Two Spotted Redshank
From my point of view, Peter's most exciting sighting was two Spotted Redshank at Conigar Point. They included the colour-ringed bird W+GR that he first saw there on July 31st. It still had some remnants of summer plumage on lower belly and under tail. The other bird was feeding next to it and was in winter plumage. Peter thought it looked like the 'pale bird' that has been frequenting Nore Barn for the last 10 winters. However, I doubt it as the Nore Barn bird is always late arriving. Its earliest arrival ever at Nore Barn ever was on 9th October in 2012. Quite a few Spotted Redshanks will be passing through this country at this time of the year on passage to wintering quarters in Tropical Africa. These will be females that have left the males on the breeding grounds to look after the nest and the chicks. Males follow later. I think the Nore Barn bird is a male.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley says Hampshire Farm meadow was looking more like the pampas this afternoon with the golden grass rippling in the wind. He found a Meadow Grasshopper - the only British grasshopper that is flightless. The bulk of the dragonflies and damsels have moved on but Chris did see three Emperors away from the pond hawking over the grass. The Common Blue butterflies are looking very battered now, some with badly shredded wings. This female was still looking very smart though.

Chris says, some of the bushes are beginning to show fruit at last. The Blackthorn is heavy with sloes and Hazel has a good crop of nuts. The local Blackberries are very small and are showing signs of drop. The same with the Spindle berries which are just drying up but the Hawthorn is heavy with fruit. Chris feels there will be mixed fortunes this autumn.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow for an hour this morning. He spent most of it on the south bridge where he saw a good selection of the common resident birds. He also spotted what was clearly a Brown Rat on the river bank (not a Water Vole).
He went back in the afternoon, Martin Cull was busy cutting the north meadow where Swallows were swooping low and taking food to youngsters in the old dead tree on the east side of the meadow. That is the first record I have of young Swallows on Brook Meadow.

Malcolm also got a great shot of a Blackbird feeding on the Rowan berries. So, that is where they all disappear to before the winter comes.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby took his regular walk along to the Warblington shore as the tide pushed in this afternoon (12:14pm to 1:44pm).
Conigar Point: 5 Greenshank (two coloured ringed G - R/BRtag - and G - R/BBtag - These five birds flew off towards Thorney Island. 1 Black-tailed Godwit winter, 14 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover (unusual record), 1 summer plumaged Knot (first returning bird feeding with Dunlin), 6 Lapwing, Shelduck juv., 2 adult Mute Swan, 1 Sandwich Tern. Chiffchaff heard calling from Tamarisk Hedge.
Pook Lane; 11 Greenshank (together on a sea marsh tussock resting as the tide pushed in. 3 with rings RG - /YYtag - and G - R/GO - and G - R/YN - ), 6 Grey Plover, 16 Dunlin, 2 Common Tern, 4 Lapwing, 184+ Redshank, Sand Martin,
No sign of yesterdays Spotted Redshank.

Spotted Redshank W+GR
Concerning the colour-ringed Spotted Redshank that Peter saw yesterday, Anne de Potier agreed that was indeed excellent news. And even more so as it was such an early sighting. This suggests the bird is a female that left the breeding grounds early, either because the clutch failed or maybe just to get away leaving the male to look after the eggs and chicks. Anne saw that bird 3 times in April, but does not know whether anyone else saw it since January.

Barn Owl found
Gez Watson wrote to say the Barn Owl that was reported missing was found in their garden by an elderly couple living at the northern edge of Emsworth.

For earlier observations go to . . July 17-31