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

for July 1-16, 2015
(in reverse chronological order)

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Brook Meadow
Yesterday Malcolm Phillips got some interesting photos on the meadow. Firstly, an unusual Meadow Brown in which the eyespots have two pupils. I gather from my guide that some females do have this feature, though a single pupilled eyespot is the norm for Meadow Brown. Gatekeeper always has double-pupilled eyespots. Here are both taken by Malcolm yesterday for comparison. Meadow Brown on the left and Gatekeeper on the right.

Malcolm also got a shot of what I think could be an Essex Skipper. This is an uncommon butterfly on Brook Meadow and is not easy to separate from Small Skipper. The main distinguishing features are the short thin scent mark in the Essex Skipper, whereas the Small Skipper's scent line is longer and thicker. Also, in the Essex Skipper the tip of the antennae are black underneath, those of the Small Skipper are orange. Here are the two skippers side by side for comparison. The Essex Skipper on the left (from yesterday) and a Small Skipper on the right (taken by Malcolm today).

Finally, Malcolm got this moth which I am tempted to try to identify as a Silver Y moth from the Y shaped mark on its wings. But I might be wrong.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley has seen a mystery moth on the Hampshire Farm site. As shown in the photo it seems to be rolled up like a tube. It is definitely a moth because Chris saw it fly away. Does anyone have any idea what it might be?
The Crab spider in the other photo has captured a large fly which Chris thinks will last it quite a long time.

Interestingly, while he was on Hampshire Farm, Chris was dive bombed by a Buzzard. He said it took three goes at him but did not let him get a decent photo. Well, that's gratitude for you.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning for a walk along the Warblington shore from Conigar Point to Langstone Mill Pond and back (6:10am to 8:25am - very low tide). He said it felt a bit like the start of autumn with the grim weather and waders beginning to return in reasonable numbers.
Conigar Point: 1 Swallow , 4 adult Common Gull, Skylark singing from behind the point, 23 Mediterranean Gulls loafing on the mud (19 adults with 4 freshly fledged young). 1 Sandwich Tern, 4 Common Tern, Reed Warbler briefly still singing from the mini reed bed, 4 Redshank.
Off Pook Lane: 4 Bar-tailed Godwit (1 summer, 3 winter), 4 Black-tailed Godwit (3 summer, 1 winter), 4 Greenshank (1 with colour rings, but too distant to get full details, but one of the yellow ringed birds - still in summer plumage), Lesser Black-backed Gull, 27 Redshank, 21 Swallow milling about giving an air of autumn, 1 adult Common Gull, Mute Swan pair out on the channel shingle bank with 6 cygnets, 1 Whimbrel, Female type Red Breasted Merganser. Little Owl in the tree it was seen last time, stood beside a large crack in the trunk - very difficult to pick up without a scope.
Langstone Mill Pond: Blackcap still singing, Reed Warbler still singing, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker (adult with juv), Tufted Duck, probably the same female as seen on 25th June, with now just two older ducklings (lost 3).

Other news
Mark Ringwood spotted a Red Kite over Lumley Terrace on Saturday 11 July. Good sighting though these huge birds are being seen more frequently in our area.
Mark also saw a Water Vole by torchlight in the stream by Westbourne Parish Hall on Thursday 9 July. I wish they would come down to Brook Meadow. He also says there are lots of bats of varying sizes in the Westbourne area at the present.
Caroline French reported seeing about 35 Swifts feeding high above he house in North Emsworth yesterday along with 100s of gulls in the sky. She thinks it may have been a 'flying ant day', though I have not seen any sign of them around my house in Bridge Road as yet.
Caroline also has had Hedgehog droppings in her garden these past few days. This is good news as I have not seen any around my garden this year.

TUESDAY JULY 14 - 2015

Mute Swan family
I got this nice shot of the swan family with mum and her five cygnets on the town millpond in strict formation behind her. Note the Polish white cygnet at the rear. All the cygnets are growing well and look healthy.

Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow this morning mainly to up date the three signcases with new photos and text. While I was there I heard the regular Song Thrush singing strongly from the bushes on the west side of the meadow near the old gasholder. I also heard Blackbird and Wren singing.
Where there was an avenue of Cow Parsley lining the edges of the main river path in the spring, we now have a corresponding avenue of Hogweed.

This very tall plant with large umbellifer flower heads is not aromatic like the Cow Parsley, but is far more attractive to insects, such as, red Soldier Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) and Hoverflies (Syrphus ribesii).

Tony's news
Tony Wootton also went round the meadow this morning though we did not meet. He got a cracking photo of what must be the same Song Thrush that I heard singing earlier.

Tony also got a shot of a male Beautiful Demoiselle. I am amazed at how relatively common these damselflies have become on Brook Meadow over the past couple of years. In fact, this year, we have seen more of the Beautiful Demoiselle than the Banded Demoiselle, which has previously been the dominant species.

Tony went onto Slipper Millpond where he got a picture of a Coot seemingly doing a thrush, though with not the same effect, I suspect.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley took advantage of a sunny spell this afternoon to take a trip over to the farm. He reports, "If Saturday turns out sunny as well then the Big Butterfly Count should be a success. There were Marbled White, Large White, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and the Meadow Brown. Meadow Browns were everywhere, there must be hundreds around. I spotted twelve on one small clump of bramble flowers.
The Creeping Thistle are in profusion this year and attracting hoards of Soldier beetles all doing what Soldier beetles do best this time of the year. They appear to congregate in patches and I wondered if it were pheromone scent that made them group together.

The Teasels are just beginning to produce flowers and are looking very architectural.

The grasses are just starting to turn gold, and although they are looking fabulous, it does seem to shorten the summer."

Hollybank Woods
Brian Lawrence had a walk in Hollybank Woods today and saw two longhorn beetles mating. These yellow and black beetles are Strangalia maculata. Malcolm Phillips found the first of the year on Brook Meadow on July 11th, but not mating. Brian also got a nice photo of what I am fairly sure is a Common Blue, though I think Brian was hoping for something more special!

Cuban Grass
Malcolm Phillips has been in London for the day, so has no local photos. But he sent me one he took while on holiday in Cuba - 'just to test you'.

Well, I had a look at Cuban grasses on the internet and my best guess would be Pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha). It is also called common finger grass and is a tropical grass widespread in many humid tropical and subtropical regions, used extensively for grazing, hay and silage. It is often considered to be one of the higher quality tropical grasses.
For more information see . . .

MONDAY JULY 13 - 2015

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips did not find much to photograph on a wet morning on the meadow, so he took some snaps of raindrops on the vegetation.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley has the final results of the vote for the naming of the open space. It will now be known as 'Hampshire Farm Meadows'. The vote was as follows. For the first part. Hampshire Farm 66.1%, Redlands 30%, Bournebridge 3.1%, Ffaroes 0.8%. For the suffix. Meadows 49.8%, No suffix 36.6%, Fields 7%, Park 6.6%. So we got what we wanted with a slight modification.

Summary of local wildlife news for the past two weeks at . . . Wildlife News Summary

SUNDAY JULY 12 - 2015

Mystery moth
Tony Davis says the moth photographed by Graham Petrie is Anania coronata.

Stedham and Iping Common
Chris Cope reported on yesterday's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group: They had a good number of sightings including this male Silver-washed Fritillary

For the full report go to . . .


Water Vole demise
Sadly, it appears that we may well have lost our Brook Meadow Water Vole population. We have only had 11 sightings so far in 2015 which is the lowest on record. The last sightings were at the end of April near the sluice gate, but nothing at all since then, even though this is the height of the Water Vole season. We have always known our population was vulnerable, being small and with little opportunity for new input or dispersal.

Our worst fears were confirmed by a 3-hour Water Vole survey of the river by Jennifer Rye and David Search on July 10th. They covered most of the river thoroughly, starting at the south bridge and finishing just beyond the north bridge. They found no evidence at all of used burrows, feeding stations or latrines. In fact, not one dropping was found and that includes rat faeces! Several places were found which should be perfect for voles to get into and out of the water where droppings and perhaps some evidence of feeding in these areas might have been found. But nothing!
They saw a 2 foot long Pike on the final stretch before the north bridge. At first, it looked dead with its head down and the tail on the surface. But when David tried to pick it up, it slithered out of his grasp and swam away. David thought it may have been suffering from the hot weather and river conditions.
Ecologist, Andy Rothwell has been commissioned to carry out a full professional Water Vole survey later this year, so fingers crossed that he may have some better news for us.

Here are what could be our last ever photos of a Water Vole on Brook Meadow
taken by Malcolm Phillips (who else) on April 23rd this year.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips had only a short time on Brook Meadow today but managed to get a couple of interesting sightings.
He got a photo of our first Strangalia maculata beetle of the year. We get these distinctive yellow and black longhorn beetles every year at about this time. I don't anything about it apart from what Chinery says; "On flowers 6-8. Larvae in rotting deciduous tree stumps".
Malcolm also came across a dead Shrew on the path. It is not easy to judge size from this photo, but I assume this is a Common Shrew as a Pygmy Shrew would be really tiny. Shrews are regularly recorded on the meadow, but are invariably dead when we find them.

Great Burnet
I had an afternoon stroll to Brook Meadow mainly to have a look at the Great Burnets, the red flower heads of which are now standing out clearly above the other plants on the orchid area of the north meadow. This photo shows the density of the flowers.

I read in my guide that the flowers of Great Burnet are bisexual and produce abundant nectar for insect pollination. In fact, I saw several insects feeding on the, as yet, barely open flowers today.

Apparently, ancient herbalists believed in the doctrine of signatures, ie that plants advertise their medicinal powers by outwards signs. In the case of Great Burnet the dark crimson flower heads suggested blood and, for centuries, the plant was used to staunch wounds and to control internal bleeding. The plant's blood staunching reputation is preserved in its botanical name Sanguisorba which means 'blood-absorbing'.

Mystery insect
Tony Davis (our resident insect consultant) wrote to correct Ralph Hollins's identification of the mystery insect (photographed by Malcolm Phillips on Brook Meadow on June 9th) as a Potter Wasp. He said it cannot be a wasp as it only has two wings, so has to be a fly. It is a Conopid fly in the genus Physocephala, probably P. nigra, though Tony said he would need to see more of the face to be certain.

Here are the two insects side by side for comparison
Malcolm's fly is on the left and a Potter Wasp (from the internet) is on the right.

Tony added, "There are two Physocephala species and the only way to tell them apart is the shape of the facial markings. This looks like nigra but I would need to see the bottom of the face to be sure." Their larvae are endoparasites of Bumblebees of the genus Bombus. Physocephala nigra is included in Chinery's 'Collins Guide to Insects' (p208) and is marked as being rare in Britain, but Tony adds "I wouldn't put too much store in the description in Chinery!" Wow, and that's my insect bible!

Giant Mustard vandalised
Chris Oakley related the sad news that the giant Mustard plant on the Nursery Close wayside has been snapped off, presumably by someone who did not like its presence there. Chris says one can quite clearly see the imprint of a hand on the stem of the plant where the break is. The fingerprint men will investigate!

Garden butterflies
David Minns wrote to say that in a little over an hour this morning (Sat 11th) he saw seven species of butterflies in his garden in North St, Emsworth: Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Holly Blue, Small White. As David says, "For a small courtyard garden near the centre of town this constitutes a wildlife spectacular! I hope others are having as good sightings in this wonderful weather we're having."
Speaking for myself, I live not more than half a mile from David, but all I have seen today is a Gatekeeper, though I must admit I probably have not been watching quite as avidly as David. I would be interested to hear what others have been getting in their gardens. Maybe, dragonflies or other insects.

FRIDAY JULY 10 - 2015

Brook Meadow
I was amazed to see a large collection of 10 to 15 of what I assume were Brown Trout swimming around in the Lumley pool immediately north of the Lumley Path footbridge. This is the place where Malcolm Phillips got photos of the very large fish recently. Sorry, my camera does not do fish well, but you can probably see the fish outlines.

The shoal included at least two quite large fish, several smaller ones and some darker fish. Apparently, Trout vary a lot in appearance. That one at the top looks like a Grey Mullett?

The Whitethroat is still singing away on the north meadow. I think there is only one singing male on the meadow this year. I saw lots of Meadow Browns plus a few Gatekeepers, a Ringlet, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Large Skipper.

There is a fine display of Perennial Sow-thistle along the east side of Peter Pond.

During his walk round Brook Meadow today, Malcolm Phillips got a picture of a pair of Beautiful Demoiselles mating. This was the first such photo I have ever had on this web site, so well done Malcolm yet again.

Giant wayside plants
Following the discussion in this blog on Friday June 26th about the identity of the huge plants growing on the wayside at the junction of Redlands Lane and Nursery Close, Chris Oakley says the pods are now sufficiently developed to make identification as Black Mustard reasonably sure. The pods are slender with a seedless beak; Hoary Mustard, which was also suggested, would have a seed in the beak. Chris says the tallest of the plants standing at 10'4" has no pods.

Mystery insect
Ralph Hollins has a possible answer to the mystery insect photographed by Malcolm Phillips on Brook Meadow on June 9th. He thinks it might be a species of Potter Wasp which needs a source of water to build the 'pots' in which it lays its eggs.

Ralph has e-mailed John Walters, who he used to know a youth living on Hayling Island, and who now is a Wildlife Consultant in the Dartmoor area. One of John's interests is studying the Heath Potter Wasp - see

In the course of his researches Ralph found a fascinating 8 minute long video of a Potter Wasp (species not named) filling its pot with caterpillars to feed its young, then sealing the top of the pot with clay.
See . . . - Amazing!

Mystery moth
from Graham Petrie. Any ideas?


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow again today and came back with some excellent photos. Here are a couple of birds that we have not seen for a while, though I do usually hear the Whitethroat singing when I pass through.

Malcolm also got this odd-looking insect which I am not tempted to hazard an identification in view of my abysmal recent attempts.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports: "On Hampshire Farm umbellifer plants they are attracting a wide variety of insects. There are a high number of Common Hawker and Emperor Dragonflies this year, they can be seen all over the site. The Chasers are also plentiful but only over the pond water. I use the name 'Hampshire Farm' but I don't know for how much longer, tomorrow is the last day of voting for the sites permanent name. It would be a great pity to see the original name lost and I can only hope that local people have voted to keep it."
Chris sends two photos, one of a Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) with two tiny black mining bees and another of a delicate Green Lacewing with a Longhorn Beetle.

Mystery fish are Brown Trout
Steve Hooper responded to my request for information about the identity of the large and small fish taken by Malcolm Phillips at the north end of Peter Pond. Steve is a retired Environment Agency employee and a fish keeper with more than fifty years experience (and a fisherman for almost as long) and so should know about these creatures. Here is Malcolm's photo which I sent to Steve for closer examination.

Steve says, "All of the fish appear to be natural colour variations of the Brown Trout, a species often naturally found in streams and rivers, and also stocked in lakes, reservoirs, and large ponds. I am sure that they are not Sea Trout, as (1) when seen well they invariably show a distinctive vertical black bar at the end of the tail fin, (2) they have a far more silvery look overall when freshly arrived from the sea (much like a small Salmon), and (3) they are very rarely seen in open water in daylight.

Sea Trout usually arrive locally sometime in July, with each river having an annual arrival date of its own. In the river Meon, for example, the first Sea Trout will usually arrive on July 16th, with a few more on the 17th, and good numbers by the 18th. However, as they mostly arrive after dark, they are far more easily heard than seen - the smaller fish frequently partly clearing the water and splashing their tails on the surface for two or three seconds before dropping back into the water, giving a very distinctive "Prrrrrrrrrrr, plop" sound. I presume that this behaviour is to clear any sea-lice that may still be present, but have never actually managed to catch one that has been acting in this way and the sea-lice scars quickly disappear once the fish has been in fresh water for a few days.

Brown Trout do occasionally hybridise with Rainbow Trout (most often at trout farms), and the hybrids will usually show traces of a pinkish area (which is common to the Rainbow Trout) along the lateral line as the fish matures. I cannot see any obvious pinkish line on the largest fish (although there are a couple of pinkish spots), but Brown Trout are an extremely variable and adaptable species and often develop genetic variations of 'camouflage' characteristics peculiar to the water in which they breed.

Having said that, two of the smaller fish (the second and the fourth from the left) are very distinctive, and look very much like the naturally occurring wild Brown Trout that were occasionally seen around the Westbourne area prior to the drought of 1976. As this particular variety was presumed to have been wiped out and has not (to the best of my knowledge) been seen now for nearly forty years, I would very much like a chance to see them for myself."


Waysides News
I had an appointment at Westbourne surgery this morning, so I decided to cycle there and check a few of the local waysides on the way. I returned via Mill Lane and Lumley.
On the Washington Road path the Greater Burdock is in bud, but not in flower, but it should soon be out. The plants look OK after their severe cutting last winter.
Moving to the Christopher Way wayside, I found a few clumps of Lesser Hawkbit on the west end of the main wayside. This is a distinctive plant with small yellow flowers on leafless unbranched stems. Looked at closely it has forked hairs on the leaves. I noticed it on several other roadside verges this morning.

Some of the Wild Clary plants still have small flowers, but most have now gone to seed. The notice about the presence of Wild Clary on this verge has been removed from the post and deposited in the long grass.

Coming back along the path by the canalised stream at Westbourne I looked for Water Voles, but did not see any. I was interested to see some Blue Water-speedwell growing in the stream near the brick bridge by the gate for 'Mill Meadows Farm'. The flower spikes looked quite long, so I assume it is the hybrid - Veronica x Lackschewitzii.

It was good to see Perforate St John's-wort in full flower along the edge of the pavement on the bridge over the A27. It comes up here every year so I am pleased it has not been blitzed.

At the south end of the bridge there is a good flowering of Agrimony along with both Jointed Rush and Toad Rush.

Sadly, there was no sign of the Fox and Cubs that has flowered on the grass verge at the top of the slope from Lumley Mill. There was a large skip parked on the area where the plants normally grow. So, it appears that Church path is the only local spot for Fox and Cubs this year.

Mystery fly
Ralph Hollins came to the rescue over the mystery fly photographed on Brook Meadow yesterday by Malcolm Phillips.

Ralph points out that the insect is in fact a Soldier Fly and not a Saw-fly. "Soldier Flies belong to an army in which everyone had the rank of General - yours is the Banded General (Stratiomys potamida)" The Naturespot website has the best summary of the life style and life cycle - see One characteristic of all Sawflies is that they have no constricted 'waist' between the thorax and the abdomen so their bodies have a tube-like shape.
See also Chinery's 'Collins Guide to Insects' (p.199) and

Orchid count
Nigel Johnson has informed me that the annual count of Southern Marsh Orchids on Southmoor Langstone was, this year, conducted by the HIWWT Beechcroft Monday Team on 29th June 2015. The count was 7,786. This is well down on last year's record count of 10,690, but much in line with the four years prior to that.


Brook Meadow
I had a breezy walk through the meadow in the late afternoon sunshine. The only bird song I heard was a cheery Chiffchaff singing from the Crack Willows north of the centre meadow.

I was interested to find a group of quite small Cinnabar caterpillars feeding on a Hoary Ragwort plant on the orchid area. These are the first Cinnabars I have seen this year and the first I recall feeding on the Hoary Ragwort. Until now, I was under the (mistaken) impression that they only fed on Common Ragwort.

Yellow Rattle has now generally set seed which are rattling in the pods.

Greater Plantain is now showing its tall flower spikes, often called 'rat's tails'.

The Lumley area is covered with the greyish leaves of Common Fleabane, None is flowering as yet, but it looks like a good year for this late flowering plant. The delicate panicles of Creeping Bent grasses are now prominent on the Lumley area. Sharp-flowered Rush is just starting to flower. Red Bartsia is also just flowering on the Lumley area; there's a lot more to come.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips spent an hour going round Brook Meadow today with his camera at the ready. He got some pretty good butterflies, including Comma and Small Tortoiseshell, probably both the summer broods.

Malcolm also submitted this black and yellow insect for my inspection. My best guess is that it is a Sawfly, but my knowledge goes no further than that. Can anyone help.

Water Bent - not so rare
Martin Rand sounded a note of caution about the Water Bent (Polypogon viridis) that I found growing on the pavement in St James Road - until it was pulled up, that is!

I noted that The Hants Flora described it as 'very rare, but as Martin says 20 years can make a big difference - Hants Flora is 20 years old! Water Bent is now widespread in Hampshire and even common around some of the main built-up areas. It's spreading in much of the rest of the country too. I found some on the Isle of Wight during my recent trip. Martin emphasises it is not a native plant; it's Mediterranean and sub-tropical.

Martin hints the next grass to watch out for is Rostraria cristata, which is just starting to make an appearance here from the Mediterranean and Middle East. Here is a snap of this grass from the internet, just in case you see some around.

Mystery fish
Ralph Hollins thinks the large fish photographed by Malcolm Phillips was not the Lesser Spotted Dogfish as I suggested. Dogfish is a Shark species which inhabits the sea bottom from depths of 6 to 700 feet and is very unlikely to be seen in fresh water. It does have a spotted back similar to Malcolm Phillips photo but has a distinctive shark type tail structure - see . . .
Ralph's guess is that it is a Rainbow Trout that the smaller fish are younger examples of the same species. See . . . distinctive feature of this species is a pink stripe along the flank of the fish but Ralph could not see it in Malcolm's photo.

Mystery moth
Ralph Hollins also has a suggestion for the moth that Brian Lawrence had on his ceiling. He thinks it might be one of the Geometers (whose caterpillars are know as Loopers (or Inchworms in the US).

See . . . for species which have similar uneven-edged broad bars across the fore wings (one which should be on the wing now is the July Belle (second down on the left of the page). By clicking on the name of the moth you will go to its page where you can check further details. At the top of the species page on the left and right of the species name box are red and green triangular pointer - by clicking these you will be taken to the next species page and can thus run through similar species.
Tony Davis came up with the definitive answer to the moth the Brian Lawrence had on his ceiling. It was a Yellow Shell.


Kittenocks Meadow - Thursday July 2nd 2015
My son Peter took me to have a look at this privately owned meadow near Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. The meadow is very beautiful with low growing grasses and masses of wild flowers. Most impressive were the orchids, Common Spotted and Southern Marsh plus swarms of hybrids (Dactylorhiza x grandis) which were mostly in the second meadow.

Here is a view of the hybrids on Kittenocks Meadow

For the full report and more photos go to . . . Isle of Wight

MONDAY JULY 6 - 2015

Jane Brook and I went around a couple of the local waysides this morning, the first time we have managed to get together to do this for a few weeks. We started at the Emsworth Recreation Ground and then moved on to the New Brighton Road Junction. Here is Jane inspecting insects on the New Brighton Road Junction wayside.

Bent Grasses
On the Recreation Ground we spent some time looking at the grasses on the patch behind the bowling club. I mentioned to Jane that I had sent a specimen of the Bent grasses that grow in this small area to Martin Rand. Martin said it definitely was not Creeping Bent which is what I thought it was. Nor was it Highland Bent which Martin thought it might have been. So, it remains a mystery, though the panicle is purplish and the ligules are short, both of which point to Common Bent. I think it might be best to assume that ID until we hear otherwise.
We found plenty of what was almost certainly Creeping Bent on the northern verge. Its ligules were long and rounded and the panicles pale whitish to green.

Here are the two Bents side by side with the purple panicle of Common Bent on the left
and the whitish-green panicle of Creeping Bent on the right.

Jane introduced me to a grass that I had never heard of before called Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis) which she has been looking on Twitter. I checked the differences between this and the more common Yorkshire Fog in F.Rose "Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns" which are as follows:
1. Creeping Soft-grass has longer ligules,
2. Creeping Soft-grass has almost hairless stems, but its nodes are conspicuously bearded with white hairs and
3. Creeping Soft-grass has a long straight awn that projects from the glumes and is quite visible.
We looked at a few samples on the area behind the bowling club and all looked like the standard Yorkshire Fog, though I shall certainly look out for any Creeping Soft-grass on my travels. The Hants Flora says it likes shadier places than Yorkshire Fog, such as, woods, though it can persist for some time after scrub clearance.

Other observations
We were pleased to find some Mouse-ear Hawkweed in flower at the north-east corner of the recreation ground near the metal gate. This was fairly easy to identify from its pale lemon flowers and rosettes of leaves covered with soft white hairs, ie the 'mouse ears'. This was a first for an Emsworth wayside.

Also, close to the gate we found what we thought was Wild Oat, but I think it is almost certainly Cultivated Oat with hairless lemmas and the absence of awns.

The yellow flowers of Meadow Vetchling are now showing up well in the long grasses on the north verge near the fence. We found the first fully open Common Fleabane flowers of the year on the New Brighton Road Junction wayside. Also on this site we found a 6-spot Burnet Moth having just emerged from its chrysalis.

Several Small Skippers were flying on both the sites we visited this morning. These butterflies have only recently emerged. Here is one I snapped on the Emsworth Recreation Ground. From the absence of a scent mark on the wing, I suspect this is a female.

Egret in the garden
We had a Little Egret on the end garden wall at about 2pm this afternoon. This was surprising as they usually come looking for fish in the winter. Our last sighting was in January this year. It remained for a few minutes looking down into the stream that runs at the end of the garden before dropping down to catch some small fry that it had spotted there. I managed to get a few shots of it before it disappeared and here is the best of them.

YESTERDAY'S NEWS (Sunday 5 July)

Brook Meadow news
I was pleased to discover a nice growth of Lesser Swine-cress on the main rover path about 20 metres south of the north bridge. I have asked the conservation group to avoid cutting this area for the time as this is the only reliable place where this plant grows on the site.

The Great Burnet is now flowering well on the orchid area. Its bright red flower heads can be easily seen at a distance. I counted 58 plants which is a big increase on previous years; last year we had just 28 plants.

The pretty pink flowers of Great Willowherb are now open for the first time on the meadow.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips got another photo of the large fish in the channel north of Peter Pond. This one was much clearer and was certainly not a Sea Trout as I first thought. From my book It looks more like a Dogfish, though I have no experience of these animals. Malcolm thinks the smaller fish are Trout. Or are they small Dogfish? Can anyone out there solve this ID issue please?

Malcolm got this shot of our resident Cetti's Warbler collecting food, hopefully for nestlings. This is the best evidence we have had for these rare birds breeding on the Brook Meadow site which would be a first!

Malcolm also spotted this Moorhen and one chick in the river by the S-bend.

Malcolm had our first Common Darter of the year. Looks like an immature or a female?

Mystery moth
Brian Lawrence had this moth on his kitchen ceiling. He has not been able to identify it. Can anyone help?

Baffins Pond
The Irons family had a good time at Baffins Pond where they saw lots of birds, including this little family of Barnacle Geese with just one gosling.



Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had a good day on the meadow in warm weather. He had the first Gatekeeper of the year on the meadow and the first I have heard of locally. Nice one, Malcolm.

Malcolm also got several other butterflies and insects including this rather fine Bumblebee feeding on White Clover. From the all black body and red tail, plus the yellow band on front of the thorax and yellow hairs on the face, my guess is that this is a male Bombus lapidarius.

Large Trout
Yesterday, Malcolm Phillips saw a large Trout about 14ins long at the top of Peter Pond. He wondered if it was too large for Brown Trout.

In that location and with Peter Pond being tidal, my guess is that it is a Sea Trout. According to my book, Sea Trout have a much richer diet than Brown Trout and therefore grow much faster. They can grow up to 55 inches in length; even Brown Trout in fresh water can grow up to 39 inches.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports on the first meeting of volunteers on Hampshire Farm last Wednesday (July 1st) Not a big turnout but all were very enthusiastic. Rachel Moroney gave a short talk on the work of the TCV. Then we were issued with gloves and bags and set to work. The principal job was to retrieve the plastic plant protection tubes. We ended up with 15 bags full and only one bag of litter so that was a surprise.

Charlie Carter brought along a model of his art work. Very abstract but I liked the thinking behind it. It purports to show the river from its source in the Downs, beneath Bourne bridge and on down through the old mills in Emsworth. The central piece is a representation of the church at Westbourne topped with a dragonfly weather vane. The next meeting is on the 18th July and will cover the 'Big Butterfly Count'.

Chris's other news
Meanwhile, Chris has had plenty of interest in his garden too with a swarm of bees which had to be removed by a local beekeeper and this startling Lunar Hornet Clearwing which settled on a pot of strawberries in his garden.

Brian's note: I had never heard of this insect and was surprised to learn that it is in fact a moth (Sesia apiformis). It resembles a large Hornet with a wingspan of 33-48 mm and yellow banding on the abdomen. Dramatic!

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby was down Langstone Mill Pond yesterday morning for an hour (10:15am - ahead of an incoming tide). The highlights were as follows:
Langstone Mill Pond: Mute Swan family with 6 cygnets still - getting older with new feathers coming through and looking tatty.
New Mallard family of 5 tiny 2-3 day old ducklings (and the partially white female Mallard still with 4 ducklings, surviving the harassment from the swans). Reed Warbler - 3 birds still singing - 2 seen carrying food. Reed Bunting male still singing. 6+ Swallow over pond and family group of four being fed by adults whilst perched in small trees by the path of the pond.
Blackcap and Chiffchaff still singing. Grey Heron youngster perched on the flat roof of the mill looking very lost and a newly fledged House Sparrow was by the pub looking also very lost (see photo).

Off Pook Lane: 3 Common Tern, 2 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank (un-ringed - first returning bird), 5 Redshank, 1 Great Crested Grebe. And in the garden I found an empty, freshly opened dragonfly case - probably the common Red Darter species, as this is the only big dragonfly I have seen visiting my garden pond.

Burton Mill
Tony Wootton reports on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group around Burton Mill and Chingford Pond. Total of 30 birds included this Woodlark. For the full report see . . .

For earlier observations go to . . June 25-30