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

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

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Cuban delight
Malcolm Phillips has not managed any good photos for the last 3 days so he thought we might like this chap to brighten up a rather dull and wet day. It is a Cuban Tody.


Brook Meadow
I had my now daily stroll through Brook Meadow this afternoon. The meadow is still remarkably dry underfoot despite the recent rain. I met Patrick Murphy and his wife (sorry I don't know her name) on the north bridge. They had been down to the Millpond mainly to watch the spitfires flying over. Here is a cracking shot he got of two flying over.

Correction. Chris Oakley tells me the top one is a Hawker Hurricane; rounded wing tips and three props.

I also met Jennifer Rye who was carrying out the regular butterfly transect on the meadow, but had not seen much apart from a Comma with its wings closed up. Jennifer told me two interesting pieces of news.

Wasp nest
Firstly, she noticed there were a lot of wasps flying around on the east side of the north meadow near Beryl's seat which she thought meant there was a wasp nest close by. I went over to check for myself and also found a lot of wasps in the air, they appeared to be coming from the dense plantation of Osiers. I recall Ralph Hollins mentioning many insects in the air at this spot when he visited the meadow on Sept 8th. Jennifer says she will probably be putting up a notice warning visitors of the presence of a wasp's nest.

Alder tree infestation
Jennifer also mentioned that the leaves of the newly planted Alder tree on the east side of the Lumley area near the Lumley Stream were badly nibbled. I checked the tree and found many of the small twigs of the small sapling had been totally stripped of their leaves. It did not take long to discover the cause, numerous small caterpillars on the leaves - I counted at least 50 of them. They were pale green with black spots along their bodies and black faces. From a search on the internet I think they are the larvae of the Hazel Sawfly (Croesus septentrionalis), though clearly they are not restricted to feeding on Hazel.

I gather that Sawfly larvae differ from caterpillars in the number of prolegs. Caterpillars may have up to five pairs of abdominal prolegs, but never have more than five pairs. Sawfly larvae will have six or more pairs of abdominal prolegs. This can be seen on the photo where the larvae have 8 prolegs.
A little later, I also met Pam Phillips who planted the tree on the meadow. Pam told me she had the tree from Frances Jannaway and kept it in her garden for a while until ready for planting. She noticed then that its leaves were being eaten by larvae and used a basic pesticide to get rid of them. Clearly, some of the larvae must have survived.
From what I can read the general advice is to get rid of these larvae if one wants to preserve the health of the tree they are eating. As Brook Meadow is a nature reserve, this would be best done by hand.

While examining the leaves of the Alder I found another caterpillar - only one of these. It was very colourful with a mixture of red, black, grey and yellow and very hairy. But, the most distinctive feature of this caterpillar was a 'hump' on its back close to the head. I managed to identify it on the internet as the larvae of the Grey Dagger Moth (Acronicta psi).

All the 'dagger moths' get their common English names from the black dagger-like markings on the forewings of the adult. The Grey Dagger Moth flies between June and August and is common throughout England, Wales and Ireland. The larva feeds on a wide range of plants, mainly trees and shrubs, including Alder. It overwinters as a pupa.

Woodpecker with Collared Dove
Graham Petrie got a nice shot of a Great Spotted Woodpecker accompanied by a Collared Dove on his dead apple tree. This is the first time I believe I have seen this particular combination of birds together.


Brook Meadow
I had a walk through Brook Meadow this morning after the rain. I was surprised how dry the ground was despite last night's heavy rain. I walked down the main river path from where I saw an adult Moorhen resting on a pile of reeds left from last week's river clearance. I also spotted a fairly mature juvenile Moorhen, so let's hope the breeding went well this year.

It is good to be able to get a view of the river following last week's clearance by the Environment Agency. The river is running well after the rain and is grey with suspended sediment.

I met Ruth Roberts who told me she had seen a Slow-worm crawling across the footpath near the north bridge. This maybe one of those relocated by the ecologists from a local building development site.
I noticed a few hoverflies on the flower heads of Hogweed and Wild Angelica, including these two chaps, Syrphus ribesii and Episyrphus balteatus - aka Marmalade Fly.

The Ash saplings on the causeway are now decorated with hanging seed 'keys'.

Close by the red haws are shining very brightly on the Hawthorn bush.

However, there do not seem to be many berries on the Alder Buckthorn bushes this year. The large Horse Chestnut tree has a severe infestation of leaf miner grubs, but this does not appear to have affected the conker fruits of which there is a very good crop. What a pity kids do not play conkers these days.

Wild Angelica continues to dominate the south meadow with its predominantly white flower heads, but some of them are deep purple like the stems.

The twisted seed heads of Great Willowherb with their long silky hairs adorn several parts of the meadow.

Meanwhile, the brown seed heads of Common Fleabane are now gradually replacing the bright yellow flowers.

Another team from the Environment Agency has been busy reinforcing the bund separating Brook Meadow from the garden of Gooseberry Cottage. A line of stones in wire bags ('sausages') have been placed at the base of the bund; these hold a waterproof membrane. The basic idea is to enhance the water resistance of the bank that protects Gooseberry Cottage.

Southern Hawker
Graham Petrie managed to snap this female Southern Hawker depositing eggs all around his garden pond area. He thought she was stretching her body down between the wooden pond cover to drop eggs onto the waters surface.

Langstone Mill Pond
Yesterday, Peter Milinets-Raby went out for a walk with his young son Aleksandr from 10:20am to visit the Langstone Mill Pond.
"We walked in via Wade Lane. The highlights were as follows: Siskin heard going over, 2 Swallows over, male Blackcap.
Langstone Mill Pond: 26+ Little Egrets roosting in trees seeing out the high tide, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Yellow Wagtail and Siskin all heard.
Off shore: 15 Teal, 16+ Swallow moving, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit heading west down the middle of the channel.
And in the stream outflow were, just three cygnets with the two adult Mute Swans. I searched high and low for the other three cygnets". Brian's note: maybe they have learned to fly and have gone off - or been driven off.


Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips did his regular round of Brook Meadow with his camera this morning and got some nice pics. Here are a few I have selected, Long-tailed Tit with bright eye, Comma surrounded by luscious Blackberries and male and female Common Darters - by far the most common dragonfly on Brook Meadow at the moment.

Environment Agency work
Maurice Lillie reports on the progress of the Environment Agency in reinforcing the bund on along the west side of the east bank in South Meadow as part of the flood defence project for this area. "A small earth scraper is making a shallow trench along the foot of the bank and steel mesh stone filled 'sausages' are being laid in the trench to the bank. These are holding a waterproof membrane in place to enhance the water resistance of the bank that protects Gooseberry Cottage. A second row of the same product will be laid on top of these, hopefully next weekend. The dimensions and flexibility of the 'sausages' allow a natural profile to be followed. I understand that the EA do not intend to extend this protection as far as the concrete outlet in the south east corner, as first thought."

For more photos go to . . .

Brent Geese arrive
Yesterday (Sept 11th), Ralph Hollins saw the first flock of Brent Geese of the 'winter' in the on the Hayling side of Langstone Harbour - he estimated 75-100. There have been a few non-migrating Brents in the harbour over the summer, but the ones that Ralph saw will be the first true migrants from the Arctic breeding grounds. Ralph noted the geese were reaching down into the water, obviously hungry to get a meal of their favoured Eelgrass (Zostera marina) after their long journey. We rare see Brent Geese in Emsworth until well into October, probably indicating the scarcity of Eelgrass in the harbour.

Here is a photo I got of the first Brent Geese a few years ago near Eastney in Langstone Harbour.


Malcolm's news
Yesterday he had virtually nothing on Brook Meadow, but today Malcolm Phillips had plenty of birds including female Blackcap with raised crest, male Chaffinch, Great Tit and a Goldcrest which we have not seen for a while.

Malcolm also saw a Fox at the river edge by the old gasholder, but it was too quick for a photo. He also got a picture of what might be the only remaining Pike in the river.


Brook Meadow
I had a short walk through Brook Meadow this morning. It was warm and sunny, but I saw very few butterflies apart from whites fluttering around. The best insects were certainly the dragonflies of which Common Darters were numerous. Here is a female I snapped when she came to rest.

I also had a Southern Hawker flying around my head; this is a curious dragonfly which often flies close to examine you.
I noticed a very hairy fly feeding on Pepper-saxifrage on the Lumley area. It had a red-orange abdomen and was quite active, flying quickly from one flower head to another. My guess is that it was a species of House Fly - possibly Graphomya maculata though that is no more than a wild guess by comparing my image with the illustration in Chinery (p. 215).

I could not resist snapping this beautiful Four-spot Spider (Araneus quadratus) which was sitting in its web waiting for some unsuspecting prey to arrive. The Four-spot Spider's web is not nearly as neat and well constructed as the web of the Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus), but no doubt just as effective in trapping prey.

I met John the ex-postman and his wife walking down the main path next to the river with their black dog. They had just spotted a pair of mating Common Darters flying around together. I managed to find them when they came to rest and got this nice photo. The male is red.

John bemoaned the absence of birds in his garden despite putting food out. I reassured him that it was normal for birds to hide away at this time of the year as they change their feathers after nesting. It also probably meant there was plenty of natural food in the wider countryside. But, they will be back, so keep putting the food out.

Buzzard on Hampshire Farm
Brian Lawrence had a walk around Hampshire Farm this afternoon and saw a Buzzard hunting and got a good shot of it in flight. From Brian's photo this looks like a juvenile. It lacks the distinct tail band of an adult and its underparts are coarsely streaked.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was again down the Warblington shore this morning (6:32am to 8:41am - tide slowly pushing in).
Ibis Field: 7 Pheasant, 1 Whitethroat (so few migrants this autumn, but there again over the last few years the area never gets many), 5 Great Tit.
Conigar Point: 2 Yellow Wagtails over and one in the long grass in with the cattle for a few minutes before moving on, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 47 Ringed Plover, 3 Grey Plover, 64 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 2 Lapwing, an undetermined flock of Siskin heard going over, 3 Chiffchaff in Tamarisk Hedge.
Off Pook Lane: 9 Greenshank (G//R+LN//- & RG//+YY//- & G//R+GO//- & G//R+YN//- & R//G+YY//-), 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 winter Med Gulls on the mud with 120+ Black-headed Gulls before moving off inland, 4 Dunlin, 16 Teal, 2 winter plumaged Sandwich Tern resting on the mud, 6 Swallow over, 60+ Redshank (-//B+B//NG & -//B+B//GN).
Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Grey Wagtail over, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Cetti's Warbler heard, 1 Teal, 1 Chiffchaff.


Brook Meadow
I had a walk through the meadow this morning mainly to have a look at the river clearance. The Environment Agency did a good job, but the river banks are still a jungle of brambles and nettles which largely hide the river To improve the visibility of the river the banks really need an annual clearance like the river itself. Maybe the conservation group can organise someone to come and do it? Or even do it themselves?

I noticed a single young Moorhen making its way gingerly through the tangle of cut twigs that litter the banks of the river. Less welcome was a black cat sitting on a log overlooking the river.

Slipper Millpond
I walked round the pond which was very quiet. The only birds on the large centre raft were a collection of Black-headed Gulls and a single Cormorant. However, there is a fine growth of what looks like Scentless Mayweed. There was no sign, of course, of any Great Black-backed Gulls which left empty handed some weeks ago.

I see from the current Newsletter of the Slipper Millpond Preservation Society that the nesting gulls issue will be discussed at the AGM (on Oct 23 at 8pm at Hewitt's, South Street), ie, whether to renew the protective wiring on the rafts to discourage nesting. In fact, the wiring has not worked as the gulls have nested successfully since it was erected two years ago, though they did lose their two youngsters this year due to drowning.

On the east side of the pond I noted Common Knapweed in flower, unusually with fully rayed flower heads, Prickly Lettuce with tiny yellow flowers.

Also, on the east side of Slipper Millpond I found a bush of Rosa Rugosa (or Japanese Rose) with large bright red hips.
The Shaggy Soldier is in flower on the roadside kerb at the bottom of Queen Street as mentioned by Ralph Hollins in yesterday's report. This is a regular place for this relatively uncommon plant.

Finally, I had a look at the large Horse Chestnut tree in that overhangs the footpath that leads down from King Street to Dolphin Lake and noted that it had very few conkers. Is this a poor year generally for them, I wonder?

Chichester Peregrine at Hayling
Tom Bickerton confirmed that the photo of the juvenile female Peregrine in yesterday's blog report was almost certainly a bird from this year's brood on Chichester Cathedral. I was not sure since I could not see the ring on the leg in the photo, but Tom said it was black and not easy to see. He sent another pic of the bird taken by his colleague Marianne which shows the ring on its left leg more clearly.

Tom was pleased to see this Chichester Peregrine at Hayling Oysterbeds as it confirms his linkage theory between the two sites, though I gather Pete Potts is less pleased as it is a big disturbance to roosting waders at the Oysterbeds.

Mystery bird corpse
During his visit to Emsworth yesterday Ralph Hollins had an unusual observation as he rode his bike uphill from the Peter Pond area to the town centre roundabout. "In the centre of the road was a totally unidentifiable splodge where some bird had been run over maybe hundreds of times, but somehow a single leg had survived to give a clue - the leg seemed to be coated with pure white feathers right down to what seemed to be a foot with claws - could this have been a Little Owl???"

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning for a walk along the Warblington shore (6:20am to 8:40am - tide slowly pushing in).
Conigar Point: 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Knot, 6 Greenshank (G//R+BY//- & N//R+RY//-), 17 Grey Plover, 13 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Stint species seen for just 10 seconds: Very likely to be a Little - not in juvenile plumage, Chiffchaff Heard, Yellow Wagtail over.
Off Pook Lane: 31 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Dunlin, 7 Greenshank (B//R+GR///- & RG//-+YY//- & G//R+YN//- & G//R+LN//- & NR//- +YY//-), 11 Grey Plover, Yellow Wagtail over, 4 Adult winter Med Gulls over inland, 14 Teal, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 60+ Redshank (-//B+B//NO & -//B+B//NG & -//B+B//RR & -//B+B//GN).
Pond: Cetti's Warbler singing a few times, Chiffchaff seen, Kingfisher dashing across, 3 Teal, 2 Adult winter Med Gulls over inland.


River clearance
I went over to Brook Meadow this morning to check on the progress of the river clearance by the Environment Agency. Mark and his team were working their way down river, clearing overhanging branches, brambles, etc and clearing a channel through the river vegetation. I encouraged Mark to clear as much of the in channel stuff as possible, but they are doing a good job. Here are a few shots of the team at work.

Malcolm's news
While all this noise and activity was happening in the river, Malcolm Phillips was quietly taking photos of the wildlife on Brook Meadow. I have included a couple of his pics from today.

Ralph's news
Ralph Hollins was in Emsworth today and noted the following:

1. In the uncared for garden of 581 Southleigh Road (almost opposite what used to be a shop) I saw both Great and Moth Mullein flowering - later I saw another Moth Mullein flowering in a Lumley Road garden south of the Brook Meadow entrance and before Peter Pond comes into open view.

2. Further up Lumley Road there were still a couple of flowers on the Skullcap on the stream wall upstream of the bridge to 4 Raglan Terrace.

3. In Brook Meadow, coming south from where the Ems enters from Constant Spring, and just before reaching the Gwynne Johnson memorial Rowan trees, I parked my bike against a wooden bench to walk round a clump of Willows in search of Wasp Spiders which I did not find, but on the west side if the Willows in warm sunlight. the air was full of very active insects. My first impression was that someone had just disturbed a Wasp nest and the whole colony was flying around aimlessly. When I got closer I found several other insect species involved in the same excitement and my second impression was that something had spread a pheromone over the leaves of the trees and blackberry bushes, causing the insects to search every leaf for something they could not find but which greatly excited them. No idea what was going on....

4. The Wild Clary was still flowering at Christopher Way and much further up New Brighton Road near the roundabout I passed a single plant of Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantica) just opening its flower head in grass outside house no 11 (East side)

5 Back at the Queen St/A259 junction the Shaggy Soldier was flourishing.

6. At the Havant Road/A27 underpass the Field Woundwort was also flourishing. I've never seen you mention this and in case you haven't spotted it look in the north side gutter a couple of metres or so after entering the narrow section of road heading down into the underpass. Several plants were flowering today though the flowers were closed when I passed.

Peregrines at the Oysterbeds
Tom Bickerton thought we might be interested in the events he witnessed on Sunday (Sep 6) at Hayling Oysterbeds, concerning a juvenile female Peregrine and a flock of Redshank.

"Nothing strange in a Peregrine attack, but it's the Redshank's initial reaction that was odd. About an hour before high tide 60 Redshanks with an assorted mix of Dunlin and Ring Plovers roosted on the south island of the Oysterbeds. My attention was alerted suddenly to the warning call of the Redshanks and about half took to flight and legged it over Stokes Common. Scanning the sky, I couldn't see anything, but after about 5 seconds a female Peregrine came in low and fast over the bush area towards south island, whereon the roosting birds took flight. She just missed on the first attempt; turning rapidly she again missed on the second attempt. But she managed to separate one Redshank; both birds then hurtled through the bush area. Anyone on the Billy Trail would have had the fright of his or her life. The Redshank must have escaped as the Peregrine returned again over the lagoon, narrowly dipping-out on a Black-headed Gull, which had just woken up to the fact that there's a Peregrine about. In fact, there were two Peregrines, another bird was over Stokes Common, so the initial take-off of Redshank may well have run into trouble.
Now, concerning the Redshank, they must have seen the Peregrine coming, so some took flight, whether the others ascertained this was a juvenile and the threat was less likely than an adult is conjecture, but even with a juvenile it's a gamble and a risky business to play.
The juvenile Peregrine has a black ring on her left leg; Graham Roberts thinks it is one of his two females ringed from Chichester this May. She is easily identified from her long moustache and high white cheek, and she's big, and she will be very dark as she moults, so if anybody does see her or any others around the Oysterbeds channel through to Northney then Graham at . . . . . would be delighted to know.

Peregrines may set-up a winter hunting ground within this area. Adults do hunt in tandem, usually to take down larger waders such as Curlew, or their favourite meal, Duck. I don't think this was the case here which was just juvenile enthusiasm. Peregrines are on the increase in the harbour; unfortunately it's a double-edged sword concerning these birds, as all the harbours are designated SPA areas for geese and waders. So all efforts are directed towards the improvement for these species. But, it's a good time now to see birds of prey within the harbour, as well as Peregrines, Hobbies, a single Merlin and Marsh Harrier, Ospreys, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk are all about."


River clearance
I was very surprised to get a phone call this morning from Mark Houghton of the Environment Agency to say that he and his team were coming over to Brook Meadow this afternoon to clear the river. I phoned Jennifer Rye (Chair of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group) and she knew nothing about it either. I met Mark and his team of four in Palmer's Road Car Park and together with Jennifer we walked up the main river path discussing what to do. It was agreed that Mark should go ahead and clear a channel in the river and strim some of the river bank, mostly the eastern side. They would start this afternoon and continue tomorrow morning until the whole length of river was done.

Here is Mark with some of his team arriving over the south bridge

They started at the northern end and here you can see one of the chaps strimming the brambles on the edge of the railway embankment.

Another two members of the team cut a channel through the dense growth of reeds at the north bend. Here is a chap working his way down river towards the north bridge.

Two of the workers discovered a Pike among the reeds south of the north bridge which was allowed to escape before the cutters moved in. I secretly wished they had chopped it!

Here is a Beautiful Demoiselle that had been disturbed by the cutters on the north bend, but unharmed.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips was out and about on Brook Meadow this morning and managed to get cracking images of two of our most common birds, Robin and Goldfinch.

Malcolm's patience also paid off with this splendid shot of a male Kingfisher in flight carrying a small fish through the reedbeds on Peter Pond.


Finally, when he got home a beautiful Brimstone butterfly was feeding on the Buddleja.


Fungus montage
Chris Oakley sent the following interesting montage of fungi taken on the roadside verge at the southern end of Redlands Lane where the developers left an island of trees, mostly oak and ash, with grass on either side. If you are into fungi, it might be worth going up there to have a look. If you can identify any of them please let me know.


Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow this morning for the regular Sunday work session. The weather was fine and sunny and there was a good turn out of 13 volunteers. Jennifer Rye was leader and outlined the main jobs which were 1. helping Ben Spraggon to clear the experimental area on the north meadow, 2. cover the new hibernacula with grass cuttings from the annual cut, 3. cut back the willow river bank hedge which is sprouting, 4. cut the south eastern corner of the south meadow where the flood defence work is happening. I took lots of photos, though the sun was too bright for quality.
Ben Spraggon arrived with his large Tracmaster power scythe on a trailer. It is a larger model than ours with larger engine, wheels and cutting blades. The group are thinking about getting one thanks to a generous donation from Frances Jannaway. Ben demonstrated the machine by cutting a large section of the north meadow for the new experimental seeding area. The idea is to try to discourage course grasses by planting Yellow Rattle.

For a full report on the work session together with more photos go to . . .

Brown Trout
Malcolm Phillips did not have much to report today but he spot the following Brown Trout which was a different colour from usual in the channel north of Peter Pond.

I gather Brown Trout vary a lot in colour, depending on their habitat from silver through shades of brown with reddish orange spots on their flanks. I think this one is within the normal colour range for Trout.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth
Brian Lawrence has been having a Hummingbird Hawkmoth come into his garden on the Buddleja for about a week. But today was the first time he was able to get a photo. These large moths which hover in front of flowers are often mistaken for Hummingbirds, though we never see these North American birds in this country outside of aviaries.


Hornets are magnificent creatures when one manages to get a good look at them. The only one I have seen this year just flew past me on Brook Meadow. But this is a good time to see one as the nests start to break up. As in other wasps all the work is done by the females which catch other insects to feed the young in colonies. Males appear in late summer, most often seen on flowers. They tend not to be bothersome like common wasps.
Romney and Ken Turner have been on a special project looking for and photographing Hornets in their local area, but they are difficult to photograph unless they stop to clean or catch something. Romney and Ken managed to get some excellent photos of a Hornet stealing a fly that had just been caught in a spider's web and flying off with its prize. The spider was sensible not to offer any resistance to the theft. Romney and Ken also saw a Hornet catching its own prey which they said was 'a bit gory, but fascinating to watch how the wasp hangs from two legs and manipulates and dismantles its prey before flying to the nest with it'.

On the left is the Hornet in the act of stealing the fly from the web. On the right is the Hornet making off with its prey


Emsworth Harbour
I went down to the harbour this morning to see what I could find in the way of waders. The tide was rising to high water in about 4 hours. From the marina seawall I could see plenty of Black-tailed Godwits in the harbour, some feeding, some snoozing. I counted 33 of them, though I strongly suspect there were many more behind the boats. They included two colour-ringed birds:

G+WR - This bird was ringed at Farlington Marshes on 10-Sept-08 as adult male. It has been one of our most regular winter visitors over the years and this was the 117th sighting!

LY+RO - This bird was ringed on territory in Iceland on 11-Jun-03 as breeding male which makes it at least 12 years old. It has been a fairly regular visitor to Emsworth Harbour each year since then and this was our 16th sighting. It has also been seen Pagham, Fareham, Farlington, Avon Valley, Ireland, France and Portugal so it gets around.

Here is a photo taken from a previous visit by LY+RO in 2010.

Other birds: 70+ Redshank, 22 Turnstone, 4 Greenshank, 3 Curlew, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover and a Lesser Black-backed Gull - see digiscoped photo.

Brook Meadow
Although the meadow appears to be very quiet on the bird front at the moment, with little in the way of song, nevertheless the birds are still here as a very patient Malcolm Phillips proved today by snapping some of the most likely candidates. In addition to a couple of our residents Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit, Malcolm also got two of our regular summer visitors female Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

Mystery bug
Eric Eddles came up with an answer to the mystery bug that Malcolm Phillips had on his arm yesterday. Eric thought it was a larval state of a Tritomegas species of burrowing bugs (Cydnidae).

Here is Malcolm's bug

Following a search on the internet, I managed to locate what I think might be the actual species on the British Bug web site which is an excellent source of information. I think it could be (fingers crossed) a nymph Woundwort Shieldbug (Eysarcoris venustissimus) - although there are many similar varieties.

This shieldbug was rare in the 19th century, but is now widespread in southern Britain, north to the Midlands. The nymphs feed on Hedge Woundwort and sometimes other plants in the Labiateae such as White Dead-nettle which are abundant on Brook Meadow.
For more details go to . . .
There is a link on this site to a very useful chart showing the stages of growth of various shieldbugs, including this one.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was up early and out to have a walk along the Warblington shore - 6:22am to 8:38am - tide falling. Very few migrants around.
Cemetery: Yellow Wagtail over, 2 Swallows, Chiffchaff.
Conigar Point: 9 Grey Plover, 33 Ringed Plover, 36 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank (two with rings - N//R+RY//- & R//G+YY//-), 6 Common Tern, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 12+ Redshank (three with rings - -//B+B//GG & -//B+B//ON & -//B+B//GN), 1 lonesome Teal, 8 Shelduck, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Third calendar year Yellow-legged Gull - didn't stay long and flew off east.
Off Pook Lane: 1 Greenshank, 40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot, 1 Turnstone, 14 Common Tern (2 adults, the rest juvs), 1 Kestrel, 5 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 8 Grey Plover, 1 Turtle Dove flew off the beach and headed inland, 2 Yellow Wagtails over west, 1 Meadow Pipit north, 4 Cormorants heading west, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


Brook Meadow
Martin Cull was back on the meadow again with his bright red tractor to complete the annual cut which he started yesterday. He finished the centre meadow yesterday and today moved onto the larger north meadow.
As yesterday, I noticed a number of frogs jumping around in the cut grass, clearly unharmed by the tractors blades. I also spotted one Common Toad which was typically crawling to get into cover.

The Pepper-saxifrage is now in flower on the east side of the Lumley area and its freshly open flowers were attracting a good number of mainly hoverflies, including what I think is Syrphus ribesii.

What I think is Common Orache is growing at the southern end of the old Bramble path (I can hardly call it that now) close to the signcase. I am inclined towards Common Orache rather than Spear-leaved Orache on account of its diamond-shaped lower leaves, the base of which taper gradually into the stalk. In Spear-leaved Orache I would expect the lower leaves to be more triangular-shaped and make a right angle at the base. Also, in Common Orache the lower lobes of the leaves are forward pointing, whereas in Spear-leaved Orache they point sideways. However, I am never 100% certain about these plants and I might well be wrong. Common Orache is not a common plant on Brook Meadow. I usually find it in this wet area of the south eastern corner of the south meadow, but some years I never find it.

Malcolm Phillips spent some time on Brook Meadow this morning and got a some excellent images of very bright butterflies - Red Admiral and Comma.

Malcolm also had this tiny yellow and black bug which landed on his arm. It is not one I am familiar with. Can anyone help?

As Chris Oakley pointed out, this is the season for fungi and he has found a few in his locality. Here is a particularly 'lovely clump of Blushers', presumably on Hampshire Farm, though Chris did not say. And, just in case anyone might be foolish enough to try eating them (which the books do not advise), I gather the white gills and flesh bruise pinky-red which helps to distinguish it from the highly poisonous Death Cap.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had an hour spare this morning, so he popped along to the Langstone Mill Pond (10:04am to 10:57am - low tide). The highlights were as follows:
Langstone Mill Pond: 2 male and a single female Gadwall all in eclipse. This photo shows a male.

, Adult Reed Warbler feeding noisy fledgling. 53 Little Egrets loitering in the trees (plus 3 Grey Herons). Mallard female with one tiny duckling left "I will survive" (See photo - However, it almost didn't survive, as it was too busy watching me taking photos of it, that it almost missed the approach of the pen Mute Swan - luckily it slipped away into the reeds. How long can it survive!). 1 Sand Martin over. 16 House Martins over. 22 Goldfinch
Off Pook Lane: 126 Redshank (one with colour rings -//B+B//OR), 6 Greenshank (one with rings G//R+BRtag//- : this bird looking dark and still sporting some summer plumage, as well as a whopping big geolocator - see photo).

12 Dunlin, 7 Knot (all in winter plumage), 13 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Common Gulls, 1 winter plumaged Sandwich Tern.

Finally, Peter says we all need to look out for an invasion of Cattle Egrets as this area has a history of them.


Brook Meadow - Annual cut
I went over to the meadow this morning with my grand daughters, Lily and Iris, to see the start of the annual cutting of Brook Meadow by Martin Cull. This is the main event in the conservation management programme for the year. Martin and his father Brian before him, have been cutting the meadow since the group first took over the management of Brook Meadow in Year 2000 and they have always done a good job.
The girls were quite excited to see Martin bring his shining red tractor onto the meadow and even more so to have their photo taken with him in front of his magnificent machine!

Maurice Lillie was also present to open the Lumley gate for Martin and generally guide him around the site. I took the girls off to the Moka cafe to have hot chocolates and cakes and when we returned Martin had already done quite a bit of cutting of the centre meadow. We were interested to see several Frogs and Toads in the cut grass, which fortunately the tractor's blades had left unscathed.

Bird's Nest Fungi
John Goodspeed noticed some unusual objects in the grass during his stint at the BTO Garden BirdWatch stall at the Emsworth Show on Bank Holiday Monday and wondered what they were.

Ralph Hollins had the answer - they are Bird's Nest Fungi (Cyathus olla). Ralph went on to relate this extraordinary story about the life history of this seemingly insignificant little fungus.
"This fungus has its own labour saving method of dispersing its spores. "Rather than building a toadstool-like structure tall enough for the wind to catch the spores before they hit the ground as they fall from the gills of a 'mushroom' (or building guns to shoot out the spores as in the Ascomytes), these use brain rather than brawn and have designed a vase shaped body into which rain drops can fall, run down the sides and so get under the 'eggs' in the nest with sufficient energy to shoot one or more of the 'eggs' out of the nest. If the spores are ripe when shot out the 'egg' will burst in mid-air allowing the individual spores to scatter (like a cluster bomb exploding). To prevent waste of unripe spores each egg is attached to the base of the vase by a long elastic band which pulls the unexploded bomb back into the vase to await a time when it is ripe and the elastic band has decayed so that it allows the bomb to break away.
Looking at your photo I think recent heavy rain has been to much for the 'elastic band' system and that the shiny black 'eggs' on the ground outside the vases have been shot out with sufficient force to break the elastic band before the spores are ripe.
One final point about the design - the link below is to a photo showing a few of the young fungi have a drum like skin across the top of the vase to prevent rain entering before the mechanism is ready for it.
I have only seen these twice - once on the IBM North Harbour site and the second time at the Hayling Oysterbeds - but I suspect they are quite common but overlooked. Nevertheless the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group website show only seven records - when you visit the site click the Fungi link in the row of options across the top of the page, then enter Cyathus olla in the Search Box."

Poorly Greenfinch?
The Irons family have what looks like a poorly Greenfinch in their garden . It stayed there for ages and even allowed young Thomas to stroke it. It might well be suffering from the Trichomonosis disease that so decimated the Greenfinch population several years ago and from which they never recovered. This alerts us to keep our bird feeders clean and fresh always so the disease (if that is what it is) does not spread.

This morning (6:20am to 8:23am) Peter Milinets-Raby took the opportunity of a fine morning to have an exploration around the cress beds of Warblington Farm (with the permission of Henry Young the farmer), which as can be seen from the photo no longer exist.

Peter says, "I get the impression that it was once managed as a wildfowl 'pond', but has been neglected somewhat. The ramshackle shack/hide is surrounded by months (if not years) of tangled undergrowth and hasn't been visited for ages (even I could not get near the place). There were 2 Teal and 2 Moorhen on the pond and a roosting Buzzard was disturbed from one of the trees. With all the recent rain, the water level is obviously high, but I got the impression that the edges (when shallower) could/will entice a Green Sandpiper in to feed. It alas what not what I was expecting. More a night time roost for duck. "

Peter also sent a photo a drone that he saw over Langstone Mill Pond yesterday. He says, "There must be laws to protect sites from this sort of thing. I was very surprised how the birds reacted to the drone, as if a bird of prey was in the area and everything scarpered. And that poor Oystercatcher frantically calling for minutes on end and flying around the drone."

Wryneck at Warsash
Tony Wootton got this photo of a Wryneck at Warsash NR today. Nice one.


Banded Snail
Snails are fairly common around Brook Meadow, but I rarely bother to look at them closely. This morning I stopped to inspect this colourful chap resting on a bindweed leaf. I think it must be either White-lipped Snail (Cepaea hortensis) or Brown-lipped Snail (Cepaea nemoralis) which are the two most common Banded Snails. The Dark-lipped usually has a dark brown lip around the entrance to its shell, while the White-lipped normally has a white lip at its shell entrance. This one appears to have a white lip around the entrance, so I will go for Cepaea hortensis, but without any degree of confidence. Are there any snail experts out there, I wonder?

More spiders
Following on from the photo of male and female Four-spot Spiders courting that Malcolm Phillips took last week, today he got a photo of a female Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) finishing off an unfortunate male which had probably just consummated the 'marriage', but had got too close to the female.

Malcolm also got a photo of a Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi) on its web showing the vertical stabilimentum very clearly. Wasp Spiders are fairly common on Brook Meadow, but this was the first reported this year. It gets its name from its wasp-like marking, not from any sting which it does not have.

Brown Argus
Many thanks to Tom Bickerton for spotting the black marks on the upper wings on the butterfly photo taken by Malcolm Phillips on 29 Aug which I thought at first was a female Common Blue. The marks clearly indicate a Brown Argus - the first sighting on Brook Meadow since 2011.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby just returned from Langstone Mill Pond (7:25pm to 8:25pm) where 101 Little Egrets went into roost .
"On arrival there was a drone being flown around above the pond and out across the harbour. Everything scattered and an Oystercatcher with frantic calls chased after it for five minutes at least as the drone flew around back and forth.
Other species of note: Tawny Owl heard calling from the back of the pond. Little Grebe on the pond with 2 eclipse Gadwall. Kingfisher being pestered by 15+ Magpies coming into roost and chasing the Kingfisher. 200+ Swallow into roost after sunset. "

For earlier observations go to . . August 17-31