. . from 2012 to current
APRIL 30 - 2015
Jean and I had
a gentle stroll down to Slipper Millpond this morning
going via Brook Meadow. We checked on the Jubilee
Oak saplings that both had a hand in planting on
the Seagull Lane patch in 2012. They were all looking
good and sprouting new leaves. I found the first
Ground-ivy and Barren Brome of the year
on the meadow.
We walked along the north path where Cow
Parsley is starting to flower but is still way
short of its usual fine display.
Wood Avens is
flowering on the north path - another first of the
year for the meadow. Lords and Ladies is open
showing the inner spadix.
Coming down onto the
north meadow we found an excellent growth of Meadow
Foxtail plus the first flowering of
Cocksfoot grass. Creeping Buttercups are
now in flower on the north meadow. Creeping Buttercups
have furrowed stalks which distinguishes them from
Meadow Buttercups which have unfurrowed stalks.
Buttercups were also in flower on the main orchid
area; they tend to be taller than the Creeping
The Rowan trees in the plantation on the east side of
the north meadow are looking fine with fresh leaves
and bunches of tightly shut flower buds. The north
meadow is pockmarked with large Tall Fescue grass
tufts, some of which are showing the first spikelets.
Down to the Lumley
area where the tiny spikelets of Divided Sedge
are at last starting to show. They are a good 3 weeks
later than last year. I also found a few spikes of
False Fox Sedge which is the third main sedge
on the Lumley area. False Fox Sedge has the larger,
chunkier, spikelets of the two, while Divided Sedge
has a long bract subtending the spikelets.
Coming back through
the south meadow we heard a Cetti's Warbler
singing its song from the bushes.
The leaves of Butterbur are covering the area
of grassland immediately below the main seat,
completely burying the flower spikes that have been so
leaving Brook Meadow we noted the Common
Polypody growing on the north side of the north
While on Brook Meadow,
we met up with Barry Collins who was cycling back home
after a visit to Pilsey Sands on the southern tip of
Thorney Island. He had seen good numbers of waders,
passing through on their way north, including 3000+
Dunlin and 100 Sanderling. Barry did not see anything
of the Spoonbills that have been in the area for the
past few months.
the path to the west of Peter Pond, we stopped to
admire the full blossom on the apple tree on
the Lillywhite's patch to the south of the Gooseberry
Cottage garden. This tree was severely pruned a few
years ago, which seems to have given it a new lease of
A Reed Warbler
was chuntering in the reeds in the south west corner
of the pond. I heard a Reed Warbler in the northern
reedbeds on April 27th and this could be the same
bird, or maybe we have two on the site.
Over on Slipper
Millpond a single Coot was swimming near the
bridge. No chicks were visible, so, as expected, all
six have disappeared in the past week, probably taken
by the Great Black-backed Gulls. I suspect the other
Coot is in the nest box on the north raft trying for a
second brood. The Great Black-backed Gull was
on the nest on the centre raft, standing up and
adjusting the eggs while we were present.
blossom is now out on the path behind Lillywhite's
Garage; a day before the start of May, though it is
often much earlier than this. Japanese Knotweed
is also coming up near the wall.
now thinks the mystery green beetle he found on the
Hampshire Farm site on April 28 was in fact a
Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus)
which is described as being just 9mm long which fits
Chris's beetle. I am grateful to Ms Bempt for pointing
out that the carabids have a significantly different
shape to the elytra and pronotum and head shape to the
weevils. Here is Chris's original photo along with
another one of a Nettle Weevil that Chris got off the
Phillips got a couple of interesting sightings on
Brook Meadow today. Firstly he saw two Green-veined
Malcolm also spotted
this very common hoverfly which is easily identified
by the pale stripes on its thorax. It is sometimes
call a Sun Fly from its habit of basking in the sun on
waterside vegetation. Its scientific name is
Patrick Giles got a good sighting of the Water
Voles that live on the banks of the canalised
millstream at Westbourne. He saw two 'playing', or so
it seemed, in the rushes about 100 yards south of the
little bridge, where the cut grass of the garden on
the west side ends.
was pleased to find a good showing of Green-winged
Orchids on the west Hayling beach by the golf
course. She sent a photo of one of them. This is a
well known local spot for Green-winged Orchids and
counts often are in the thousands.
APRIL 29 - 2015
in the Ems
(Chair of Brook Meadow Conservation Group) provided
the following up date on the situation regarding the
Pike in the River Ems on Brook Meadow which are a
potential danger to the Water Vole population.
Photo by Malcolm Phillips
- 18 April 2015
regret, the committee of the Brook Meadow Conservation
group has decided, after careful consideration and
consultation with relevant authorities, that we cannot
authorise any fishermen to remove the large Pike which
may be predating on young Water Voles. The reasons are
twofold: firstly, it is the close season for all river
fishing between mid March and mid June, and no
exceptions can be made, even for nature reserves such
as ours. Secondly, Pike, or other fish, over 65cms
long, if they are caught, must be released back into
the water. So, we've no alternative but to accept the
legal situation, however much we may regret the
It is to be hoped that as the season progresses, the
water level in the river will drop, and become too
shallow to support such large fish; we hope that this
will happen soon enough for Water Vole numbers to
build up again as the summer progresses. We will
continue to monitor the situation closely, and take
further advice from a national Water Vole expert if
thinks Chris Oakley's green beetle in yesterday's blog
is a species in the genus Carabus probably C.
Ralph added: "In
Michael Chinery's Field Guide to Insects of Britain he
says of this family of Ground Beetles (the Carabidae)
that it has 350 species in Britain and that most are
fairly common but not often seen as they are
nocturnal, hiding during the day and hunting for
worms, slugs and insects to eat during the night. The
elytra are fused together and so these beetles cannot
fly but each of the two elytra characteristically has
nine longitudinal ridges separated by furrows. I think
you would have to be a Beetle specialist to name the
APRIL 28 - 2015
I had a look
at the Peregrines nest site at Chichester Cathedral
this morning. The RSPB have their usual Peregrine
watching post with tent, telescopes and TV monitor
showing a Peregrine sitting on a nest.
One of the volunteers
informed me that the male was currently sitting on the
nest, though the female was on the nest this morning.
The two birds take it in turns to brood the eggs. The
female was currently off hunting. In previous years
the male brought food to the female on the nest, but
this year the female hunts her own food. Here is a
shot I got of the Peregrine in the TV monitor in the
There are four eggs in
the nest which are due to hatch on May 5th. Last year
four eggs were laid, but only two hatched. The
Cathedral was struck by lightening last November and
the old nest box was destroyed. So, this year a
completely new nest box has been constructed by Graham
Roberts with logos on the front indicating who has
contributed towards the project.
To watch the Peregrine nesting live go to . . .
This year will be the
15th year that Peregrines have returned to nest at the
Cathedral. In this time 48 chicks have been raised all
of which have been colour-ringed by Graham Roberts the
West Sussex County Council Ecologist. The fortunes of
a number of these colour-ringed offspring have been
followed. Most have dispersed within south-east
England where some are now breeding. For more details
go to . . . http://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/whats-on/peregrine-locations.shtml
I had a quick
look at the Bridge Road Wayside where the
Cuckooflowers are still looking good. There are
still just two grasses flowering at present on the
wayside, Meadow Foxtail and Barren Brome.
I was pleased to see my first Common Sorrel of
the year with red flower buds and its distinctive
arrow-shaped leaves with the basal lobes pointing
backwards. This is the first of the dock family to
Phillips was on the meadow this morning and got a
photo of a very pale and grey looking Chiffchaff which
he thought might be a Siberian Chiffchaff by
the old gasholder where it was seen quite a lot
before. I am not sure about this, as it would probably
have left for Siberia by now! But if only it would
Malcolm also got
Orange Tip and a Dock Leaf Bug. From Brook Meadow he
went down to Thorney and saw a Skylark on the field, a
Great Crested Grebe on the water and what I think is a
Whimbrel in flight - ie relatively short bill
and slight head markings. This is a bird that will be
on passage to its breeding grounds in Northern
Malcolm also came
across some caterpillars on a mass of webs which look
like the dreaded Brown-tail moths to me, so it
is a good job Malcolm did not touch them as their
hairs are very irritating.
came across this almost fluorescent green beetle today
and wonders what it is. I don't know. Does anyone out
e-mailed to say the photo of the Egyptian Goose
family with the Australian Shelduck on the
blog yesterday was not his, but came from a friend and
was taken at Petworth not Petersfield.
APRIL 27 - 2015
nesting on the town millpond near the bridge were
preparing to swap over nesting duties as I passed by
at about 11am this morning.
The pen swan was doing
a bit of spring cleaning before the cob was allowed
onto the nest. Eight eggs were showing clearly.
The Mallard family
seen yesterday by Katie Golds and Chris Moodie was
on the south bank of Peter Pond with the ducklings
tucked under mum's wings, safe from the attentions of
the Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond. I am
not sure how many ducklings there were as they were
hidden. The one exception was this bright yellow chap
which was scuttling busily around on the pond.
Walking along the
footpath by the pond I noticed a single Cornflower
on the edge of the path near the white railing.
Cornflower was formerly a colourful cornfield weed,
but following the use of herbicides it has largely
died out. Nowadays, Cornflowers in the 'wild' will be
garden escapes or originate from 'wildflower' seed
Warbler was singing loudly from the northern
reedbeds on Peter Pond. Also singing from the reeds,
albeit less loudly, was a Reed Warbler, the
first I have heard from there this year. They are
regular summer visitors to the pond. We sometimes get
Sedge Warbler also too, but I did not hear or see one
through Brook Meadow I had a look at the sedges on the
Lumley area near the Lumley gate. Distant Sedge
is currently very prominent where it grows in dense
tufts. Each inflorescence is comprised of one
cylindrical male spikelet (rarely two) above 1-3
short-stalked female spikelets, the lowest one having
a leaf-like bract longer than itself.
There is still little
sign of our other main sedge, namely Divided Sedge,
though Divided Sedge does tend to be a bit later than
Distant Sedge. Divided Sedge does not grow in tufts,
but grows more evenly around the site, having
far-creeping rhizomes from which the plants spring.
Robin Pottinger got
his first Water Vole of the year, just north of
the sluice gate. It swam across from east bank into
the young Bulrushes on the other side. That is only
our 10th sighting of the year, but means we do have at
least one Water Vole on the site!
Today Malcolm Phillips
managed to hear, see and photograph a Cetti's
Warbler in the apple tree on the area owned by
Lillywhite's Garage, south of Gooseberry Cottage
This could well have
been the same Cetti's Warbler that David Minns saw
during his lunchtime stroll through the meadow which
flew south towards the south bridge and the one I
heard singing from the reedbeds to the north of Peter
more birds that Malcolm got on Brook Meadow today,
Whitethroat and Wren.
went over to the Hampshire Farm site to clean out some
of the debris in the pond and had this Grey Wagtail
for company. It was probably attracted by the
insects Chris was disturbing.
Chris also had his
first dragonfly from there for this year, a
Broad-bodied Chaser. Two House Martins and one
Swallow were about. Chris has also noted several new
flowers on the site including Red Campion, Black
Medick, Pink Sorrel, Wood Spurge and Red Clover which
are adding to colour the dry grass. There were a group
of tiny mining bees, perhaps eight or ten exploring
the dried clay near the gate. Things are beginning to
look up on the farm!
Warbler - note the white 'eyebrow'
had a walk along the NRA track on North Thorney late
this morning and had the following birds: Whitethroat,
Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and possibly two Cuckoos.
which distinguishes it from Reed Warbler
possibly two Cuckoos
reported on the Saturday morning walk by the Havant
For the report go to . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2015.htm
sent me a video recording she made at Old Winchester
Hill of an unusual bird song. It started off like a
Chiffchaff but then developed into a standard Willow
Warbler song. She asks if I have come across this and
if it was learning or mixed parentage. My guess would
be to go for learning as birds readily mimic of other
bird's songs and this could be a case in point.
This so-called song switching or song mixing is not
all that unusual in Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.
There is a discussion of it on the Internet with some
examples of songs that sound a lot like Heather's.
See . . . http://deanar.org.uk/general/articles/wwmixedsong.htm
Ralph Hollins added:
"I have come across several reports of this behaviour
over the years and after having another look at the
internet I see that the general opinion seems to be
that these birds are the result of interbreeding
between their parents rather than songs 'learnt' by
the bird from hearing the songs of the two species
when they are young.
In addition to the link (to deanar.org.uk) which Brian
sent you might like to look at http://www.digitalwildlife.co.uk/artical/sandychiff.htm
for a local occurrence at Sandy Point on Hayling and
also to http://gwentbirding.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/theyre-everywhere.html
Vole in Westbourne
and Chris Moodie saw a Water Vole on Sunday (April 26)
in the canalised section of the millstream at
Westbourne. The vole was swimming in the water and
then hid in the reeds when it spotted them. It looked
smaller than ones they have seen in the past and
wondered if it was a youngster. That is quite
Later, Katie and Chris saw this Mallard family with 14
newly hatched ducklings on Slipper Millpond.
A friend of
Tony Wootton discovered a family of Egyptian
Geese on a lake at Petworth, two parents and a
string of goslings. There is a mystery bird in the
same picture. My guess is Australian Shelduck,
but what is it doing there?
APRIL 26 - 2015
I spent the
weekend on the Isle of Wight visiting family. On
Sunday April 26, we had a family walk with two young
grand daughters through Walton's Copse in the Newtown
Estuary Nature Reserve. This is a lovely broadleaved
woodland which borders on the estuary; walking is very
easy, though muddy in parts. Highly recommended if you
are in the area.
The woods had the usual fine display of Bluebells,
Wood Anemones, and Common Dog-violets, plus lots of
Primroses in flower. There were also a few
Cuckooflowers and Wild Strawberry flowers. Personally,
I was delighted to find my first Wood Sedge and
Glaucous Sedge of the year, though I could not
interest the girls in these inconspicuous plants with
so much more attractive to enjoy.
Down by the estuary, Sea Plantain, English Scurvygrass
and Divided Sedge were very common on the saltmarshes,
plus a bit of Thrift. We were serenaded by the rich
tones of a Nightingale singing from the military area
on the other side of the channel.
A highlight of the
walk was to see the Early Purple Orchids which
were out in force in Walton's Copse and very easy to
see, being right beside the path in places. Ralph
Hollins has been down to the orchid area on Longcopse
Hill in Hollybank Woods where he counted 125 Early
Purple Orchids. There will be more to come with May
being the peak time for them.
earlier observations go to . . April