APRIL 30 - 2016
After a quiet
sea watch at Sandy Point, Peter Milinets-Raby called
in at Langstone Mill Pond to try and see the cygnets
seen by Ralph Hollins the day before! 7:37am to 8:49am
- tide dropping.
Langstone Mill Pond. The female Mute Swan was sat
tight on the nest the whole time I was visiting, but I
was lucky to catch a glimpse (and photo) of one of the
cygnets (Ralph had 4 cygnets yesterday). A
lonely male Gadwall was present on the pond,
swimming around looking for a mate, calling constantly
with a very simple, single low noted 'quack'
(singing!!). Quite cute really!
Also present on the
pond: 3 Reed Warblers chasing one another and a single
singing Sedge Warbler (it will be nice if it stays).
And the male Reed Bunting singing. 3 Swallows
overhead, Green Woodpecker calling and Great Spotted
Off shore: 2 Little Tern and 2 Common Tern fishing. 3
Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Med
Ros Norton reported on this morning's walk by the
Havant Wildlife Group.
"A group of 15 met on a lovely sunny morning and heard
blackcap and chiffchaff from the car park. Just
outside we heard a chiffchaff doing a part willow
warbler song. Strangely we heard same last year from
same place. (Brian's note - It must be the same
The birds were singing well and it was a pleasure to
hear many willow warblers. We had good views of a
yellowhammer and a skylark on the ground. Other birds
singing included whitethroat, chaffinch, dunnock,
green woodpecker, robin, wren and greenfinch. Some saw
linnet, long tailed tit, kestrel and buzzard. During
our coffee break we saw several hares running in a
Apart from abundant blackthorn flowers and cowslips
mostly in bud, there were few flowers These included
ground ivy, garlic mustard, dog violets, crosswort and
dandelions. A small tortoiseshell butterfly posed on a
Heather Mills added:
"I was delighted to find a Chiff/Willow singing from
the car park as soon as we arrived. Some of you may
remember that I was confused by the bird starting with
a Chiffchaff song last year. It then continued with a
rendition of a Willow Warbler and back again to
Chiffchaff. I did get a photo of this bird (on the
left below) and a very confiding Willow Warbler for
comparison (on the right). The WW appears much
brighter yellow around the throat and the eye stripe
is more noticeable. Yellowhammer and Skylark too.
Last year Ralph
Hollins commented on the mixed warbler song as
"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
Westcott, the owner of Lowtons Copse, added to his
note in yesterday's blog entry as follows:
"It is nice to know people are reporting these things
to you. I knew we had the chiffchaff and blackcap, but
not the others. Unfortunately too many people are
finding the woods and doing damage to the flora just
by sheer weight of numbers, as well as the other
vandalism of those who want to walk through the
If you are interested we have a Facebook page Bluebell
Wood Clanfield. This had been started anyway, so we
acquired it to try to get people to behave in a
reasonable manner and to inform them of things like
felling. Should there be a group of you that would
like a guided walk, I can do that for you, but would
need to make a small charge to help cover our costs in
the wood. "
APRIL 29 - 2016
Caroline French did the first Breeding Birds Survey of
the year for square SU7808 at Funtington. I was very
pleased to get Caroline's report as I surveyed this
square for 7 years until 2013 when Caroline took over,
so I know it very well.
One bird I always used to look forward to hear and see
was Corn Bunting, a rare bird and on BTO Red
Alert List. Corn Bunting has a distinctive and
remarkably far carrying song that sounds like the
vigorous rattling of a bunch of keys. Here is a shot I
got of one fluttering up from an Oak tree in Hare's
Lane, Funtington in June 2010. I also used to see one
sometimes on the metal fence around the MOD
I certainly did not
record it every year on the survey and Caroline's
experience so far has been much the same as mine.
Sadly, there was no Corn Bunting again today, though
Caroline did have a couple of Yellowhammers which was
The survey square
covers the Racton Park Farm Rookery and I
recall spending lots of time counting and recounting
the nests in the trees behind the cottages. I think
the most I ever got was 64 in 2009, though the average
was much less than this. This year, Caroline counted
50 nests on 19th February - the count has to be done
earlier than the rest of the survey before the leaves
come. Today, Caroline saw that the Rooks were busy
probing the soil for invertebrates for their young,
some of which were out of the nest. Here are a couple
of photos she took this morning, one of an adult Rook
feeding young and the other showing the extendable
pouch in which the Rook collects the food to take back
to the fledglings.
Caroline also spotted
a pair of Starlings nesting in what looks like
an old woodpecker hole, and regularly bringing food to
noisy chicks. She also had a pair of Firecrests, but
no photo sadly!
Today, I had
an e-mail from Chris Westcott, the owner of Lowtons
Copse (and incidentally, of Blagden Copse at
Clanfield), who was very interested to hear about the
birds that had been reported on this blog from the
wood, particularly Firecrest and Yellowhammer which he
did not know about. These two birds were reported by
Peter Milinets-Raby during his visit to Lowtons Copse
on April 24. In fact, Peter heard 4 singing male
Firecrests and thought there were probably more to be
found in the copse. Here is a cracking shot of a
Firecrest taken on Brook Meadow in 2013 by Malcolm
Chris went on to
provide some very helpful information about the flora
of the copse and how best to visit.
is quite a lot of Toothwort in various places
and we also have lots of Early Purple Orchids
and some Twayblades leaves. I would suggest
during the Bluebell season you may either find it
better to come during the week, or at weekends, park
in the village and walk up Little Hyden Lane. If you
want any further information about the flora in the
woods, I have been making notes on what is in various
sub-compartments for the last 13 years. I stick to
flowers as they stay still long enough to be
took this photo yesterday near to Gore Cliffs on the
Isle of Wight. I thinks it is a male Redstart. He
might well be right, though it looks a bit mucky!
APRIL 28 - 2016
I cycled down
to North Thorney this morning mainly to check for bird
migrants along the old NRA track and on the track down
to Little Deeps. The regular summer visitors were in
good voice, including Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler
and Reed Warbler. I failed to hear Lesser
Whitethroat, Cuckoo or Turtle Dove - though I have
pretty well given up on the latter.
I spotted a couple of Swallows feeding over the
Deckhouses Estate pond, but there was no sign of any
in the stables at the old Marina Farm which are now
unused and neglected. Swallows have regularly nested
in these stables in previous years. Chris Oakley also
reported seeing Swallows perched on an overhead power
line just south east of Racton Tower. There have been
lots of other Swallow sightings, so they have
There was nothing of interest on the Little Deeps
apart from Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Coot and
Mallard. There was no sign of any Mute Swans which
have usually nested here in the past. But it was good
to sit on the embankment overlooking the deeps, all
very peaceful but for the splashing of birds on the
water and the distant drone of some aircraft over
I happened to meet Ros Norton who was having a walk
down to the deeps before her U3A meeting in Emsworth
this afternoon. We stopped about half way down to
Little Deeps to listen to Sedge Warbler and Reed
Warbler singing from the brambles and reedbeds
respectively. This is a very good spot to compare
these two very similar songs, with the hurried mixed
song of the Sedge Warbler contrasting with the relaxed
and rather monotonous churring of the Reed Warbler.
While we were watching, the Sedge Warbler flew
up from the reeds a couple of times in a display
flight and perched briefly on a reed stem where I
tried to get a photo.
A pair of
Canada Geese was on the pond south of the
Deckhouses Estate this morning. I have not seen them
there before. Thinking of nesting?
The long yellow
catkins from the Basford Willows are starting
to fall onto the ground at the southern end of
Palmer's Road Car Park. Grid Ref: SU 750 059.
Here are some of
the trees with the catkins
and a sample
House Martin Survey
French carried out her second survey visit to the
Westbourne House Martin nest sites.
She reports: "I saw a maximum of about 10 House
Martins feeding overhead at any one time, but
there may have been more. Of the four properties I am
surveying, only one had birds visiting the nests
during my observation lasting 15 minutes at each
property. This property has four complete nests from a
previous year, three on the north-eastern aspect
(front) and one on the south-western aspect (rear).
All three on the front had at least one visit while I
watched, and an additional *new* nest which was not
present on my two earlier visits is about a quarter
way built. The nest at the rear was not visited but a
House Martin flew very close to it on a couple of
I couldn't see what the birds were doing because they
entered the nests before I could see whether they had
anything in their beaks, but I assume they may have
been 'patching up' from within. Alternatively it could
be that a male was bringing food to a female on eggs,
as the female does most of the incubating. Can anyone
reading this confirm whether male House Martins bring
food to the females?"
"I also saw
three Swallows in Westbourne, one of which was
singing, and my first Swift of the year flying
overhead, going north. A Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk
were hunting over Westbourne. There was a Grey Heron
on the Hampshire Farm Meadows pond and a magnificent
male Starling singing from a roof gutter in Westbourne
village. Also a couple of pairs of Linnets along the
path crossing Westbourne Common, and three Mistle
Milinets-Raby had a quick walk around Warblington this
morning (10:05am to 11:33am - low tide, lovely
sunshine, light wind). The highlights were as
Warblington church: 3 singing Goldcrest, Green
Woodpecker, 2 Willow Warbler (one singing - these are
moving through) and Kestrel.
Ibis Field: Cetti's Warbler heard singing halfway
along hedgerow close to cress beds. 1 Chiffchaff
singing, 1 Whitethroat singing (typical habitat, but
probably it will not stay), 1 Lesser Whitethroat heard
distantly singing from SSSI field.
Mini reed bed behind Conigar Point: Probably a second
bird, Lesser Whitethroat singing (again probably a
migrant - showed well), Reed Warbler singing (showed
even better!! - see photo), male Blackcap, Chiffchaff
singing and female Reed Bunting.
Conigar Point: 4 Med
Gulls over, 31 Herring Gulls on mud (80% juveniles), 1
Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Whimbrel.
Off Pook Lane: 1 Buzzard, 6 Shelduck and 3 Greenshank.
Little Owl seen in usual tree.
Nothing else moving, which was a shame considering the
reports that Early Purple Orchids are coming out in
east Stansted Forest at approx. GR SU 771 102. This is
where the path from the Racton Monument turns north
towards Woodlands Lane. I recall hearing Nightingales
in this area several years ago. I wonder if they are
still there? I also had a late night encounter with a
Badger at this spot.
APRIL 27 - 2016
This morning I
had a walk along the grass verge on the north side of
the main A259 road into Emsworth from the boat with
the ornamental flowers to the Warblington roundabout
with traffic thundering past. Grid Ref: SU 731060.
This is the verge where the Bee Orchids were flowering
last year and which Jayne Lake of Havant Borough
Council (now Norse) has ordered should not be cut
until after the flowering period. This photo was taken
from the ornamental boat looking west towards the
The verge held a good
variety of plants, some in flower, some almost there.
They included Common Ragwort, Common Knapweed, Red
Dead-nettle, Common Field Speedwell, Spear Thistle,
Ground-ivy, Forget-me-not, Docks, Dandelion, Common
Mouse-ear, Sticky Mouse-ear, Ribwort Plantain, Daisy,
Red Clover, and many others.
Near the boat was a clump of bright pink flowers I
could not miss - they were Pink Sorrel. This
attractive plant was introduced from S. America in
1870 and was first recorded in the wild in 1912. A
less prominent addition to the local flora was the
first flowers of Hoary Cress.
A couple of 7-spot
Ladybirds mating on a leaf of Hoary Cress.
Best of all, were the
grasses which were dominated by a swathe of Soft
Brome along the edge of the main road. This is
certainly the same species of grass that I puzzled
over yesterday on the New Brighton Road Junction which
had extra long panicles. These were much the same.
flowering on the verge were Cocksfoot, Barren Brome,
and a tuft of what I think is Sweet Vernal Grass. I
also found a few tufts of Grey Sedge.
I always look forward to the emergence of the grasses
as they make such fine displays on my desk. The large
vase in the centre holds Barren Brome, Soft Brome and
Cocksfoot, while the small vase on the left has the
Sweet Vernal Grass and Grey Sedge. The vase on the
right has panicles of Common Reed which have lasted
right through the winter.
Evans saw a family of seven Mallard ducklings in the
tidal section of the Langbrook stream this afternoon
but didn't manage a decent shot of them altogether.
Shortly after, he saw a couple of foxes in the field
immediately north of West Mill.
Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond
11:19am to 12:22pm - low tide and still with chilly
wind blowing from north, but not so breezy!
Langstone Mill Pond: With less wind, I was able to do
a thorough count of the Little Egrets and reached 28
The Grey Herons were
quiet, except for Nest 8 (only viewable from the horse
paddock gate) which had constantly calling young.
However, I could only see one youngster, as the
foliage is very dense.
Reed Bunting male seen well today as it foraged in the
base of the reeds (see photo)
One Reed Warbler
singing. Chiffchaff singing.
Off shore: 2 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, 5 Great Crested
Grebe, 5 Shelduck, 1 male Red Breasted Merganser
diving off Conigar Point, 4 Med Gulls over.
And a spiral of 4 Buzzards drifted over the channel
from Hayling. And two more seen five minutes later.
APRIL 26 - 2016
On my way to
Hollybank Woods, I stopped to have a look at the
roadside verge at the New Brighton Road junction with
Horndean Road which is one of our official waysides. I
found three grasses in flower, Barren Brome, Soft
Brome and Cocksfoot, the latter two being new ones for
me this year. I was puzzled by the Soft Brome
at first as it had what appeared to be unusually long
panicles, up to 12cm. I usually think of Soft Brome
panicles as being much shorter than this, but I can't
think of anything else it could be. It is certainly
not False Brome nor Smooth Brome (I think). Rose gives
the range of panicle size for Soft Brome as 5-10cm,
though Cope and Gray give it as 5 - 12.5
(exceptionally to 18)cm, so I suppose that settles
I was also interested to see the first flowering
Common Ragwort of the year on this verge.
"I think (but cannot be certain) that the Ragwort
which you call Common Ragwort is in fact Oxford
Ragwort which is just starting to flower in Havant.
Fitter and Fitter say that Oxford starts to flower in
April but Common does not flower unti June and the
broad flowers in your photo suggest Oxford to
I went over to
Hollybank Woods mainly to have a look at the Early
Purple Orchids on Longcopse Hill. I parked on the
roadside just past the entrance to the Sussex Cottages
and walked onto the hill. I had not been to the orchid
area for a couple of years and was surprised to find a
fairly well worn path down towards the south west
corner of the hill which is where the orchids are
located at Grid Ref: SU 751082. I came across about 10
fairly good Early Purple Orchid spikes, though I did
not go deep into the orchid area which was quite wet
and muddy. There were plenty of spotted leaves and I
would expect more flowers to appear in the next few
weeks. The peak flowering should be in mid May, though
looking through my records I counted 662 flowering
spikes on 28 April 2011 which was very
Other flowers in the
main orchid area included Common Dog-violets,
Primroses, Wood Anemones, Dog's Mercury, Bluebells and
Wood Sedge. On my way back up the eastern side of the
hill, I looked for the area where Wood Sorrel used to
flower, but I could not find it.
I drove back
to the north entrance to the main Hollybank Woods and
walked along the eastern path adjacent to the main
Emsworth Common Road where the Bluebells were
in full flower and a magnificent spectacle. Well worth
seeing at Grid Ref: SU 744085.
There is also a good
crop of Common Dog-violets along this path with
the pale plump and notched spurs showing up very well.
At the end of the
Bluebell path I stopped for a very welcome rest at my
favourite seat (dedicated to the Lowtons) thinking
about White Admirals which I often see from here, but
not just yet!
Walking back along the
Eastern Bridleway I noted a patch of Bugle not
yet in flower.
Onto the old Holly
Lodge clearing where Japonica was in full
flower. I also found some Field Wood-rush, though not
as much as usual.
comments: Your naming of Japonica could be misleading
as there are many very different species imported from
Japan which are given the name Japonica. The one you
photographed is what I call Japanese Quince . . . see
. . . http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/plants/shrub/chaenomeles-japonica.aspx
Moving onto the
jubilee clearance area, I was very pleased to see
hundreds of wild Lily of the Valley shoots,
many with buds about to burst, in the small enclosed
area at Grid Ref: SU 743082. They should be out in a
couple of weeks.
Milinets-Raby popped down briefly to Langstone Mill
Pond (11:23am to 12:16pm - tide pushing in slowly -
bitterly cold north wind!
Langstone Mill Pond: A count of Little Egrets sitting
produced a total of 24 nests. There is probably
a few more than this, but it is very difficult to see
as the foliage is growing up quickly. Two Reed
Warblers singing (so late in arriving - all this
cold weather is delaying stuff, just bringing a
trickle in!) Chiffchaff singing. 4 Med Gulls over.
Off shore: An impressive count of 6 Greenshank
roosting together (three of them with rings, one
normal bird, RG//- + YY//-; The other two confusing!!!
One with a slipped ring? GR//- + B//R - clearly viewed
with red ring down by it's ankles and the last with
just a dirty metal ring on left leg -//- +ON//- This
birds rings looked old and worn and the orange may
have even been worn away red? Confused and as a result
I could not 100% fathom this birds rings out,
especially on the left leg, before it flew off towards
Thorney Island. Any ideas?).
3 Great Crested Grebes. 3 Swallow. 1 Shelduck with 2
off Conigar Point. 4 Whimbrel (one close, poor
phone photo taken).
APRIL 25 - 2016
Mute Swan on
the nest in the reeds. Great Black-backed Gulls on the
centre raft with one sitting on the nest. I could not
see the Coot nest on the gull raft, but the
other two nests on the other rafts were fully
occupied. Here is a shot of a Coot behind a barricade
of twigs on the south raft.
The Tree Mallow
on the south west corner of the pond has several
open flowers. This is quite early for this plant which
normally flowers in late May.
Chickweed - on the path behind Lillywhite's
Garage. Described as almost our commonest weed, but
attractive nevertheless with its deeply notched white
flowers and hairs in lines on alternative sides of the
rounded stems between the leaf nodes.
Thyme-leaved Speedwell - on a garden path. Very
pale blue flowers and untoothed leaves, oval and
Barrie Jay took this shot of a white butterfly
with black tips to its wings in hedgerow close to home
and did not know what it was. He thought male and
female Orange Tip butterflies were similar in colour
but after consulting the internet, realised that only
the male has the orange tips, both male and female
have attractive green mottled green underwings. We
live and learn - always.
Barrie also got a
couple of nice shots in his garden today, one showing
the incredible grasping claws of the Nuthatch
which are not usually obvious from a distance and also
a diminutive Coal tit.
APRIL 24 - 2016
I had a walk
along Marlpit Lane this morning, listening intently
for any signs of a Nightingale. Two Chiffchaffs
were singing strongly. I also heard a Willow
Warbler song on the east side of the lane north of
the new entrance gate. We had one here last year. This
is quite suitable habitat for Willow Warbler with
There was no sound of Nightingale along the
lane, but I did hear a short but definite burst from a
one at the top of the public footpath where it opens
out in the extensive bushy area. I hung around for
about 15 mins, but heard nothing else, but I am sure
there is a Nightingale in this area. We had one here
last year. Unfortunately, there is currently a lot of
disturbance along the lane and surrounding areas.
As usual, the best place to hear and see Nightingales
locally is Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve, where
apparently they are showing 'ridiculously well'.
A walk around
the town millpond this afternoon produced a pair of
Tufted Ducks on the pond. It is unusual to see them
here so late in the season. I suspect this is a pair
moving to a breeding area, possibly Thorney Deeps. The
regular Mute Swan pair was still on the pond, but
there is no sign of any nesting activity.
spent a couple of hours on the meadow this morning.
Apart from the 'normal' sightings, he saw good numbers
of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. That is excellent
news for this season's breeding.
been in the news just recently. Ralph Hollins reported
flocks of 17 in Langstone Harbour on Apr 19 and 40
passing Sandy Point on Hayling Island on Apr 20, then
73 there on Apr 21. Peter Milinets-Raby had 26 during
a sea watch at Sandy Point yesterday (Apr 23). The
Havant Wildlife Group saw 13 Whimbrel at Portchester
during their Saturday morning walk on Apr 23. Heather
Mills sent the following photo of three of them.
Milinets-Raby was very pleased to get an e-mail from
Ros Norton with simple instructions about how to find
the Toothwort at Lowton's Copse and the flowers were
found with ease.
"Today, at roughly 1pm, I popped down to Lowton's
Copse, north of Clanfield. The wood was utterly packed
with people out for a walk amongst the splendid and
spectacular display of Bluebells and Wood Anemones.
When found, the
Toothwort was a very nice looking flower with
subtle blends of pink and mauve. I counted 21
Also seen in the wood
were 4 singing male Firecrests (some stunning views -
and there were probably more to be found in the
copse!), 2 Treecreeper, 2+ Bullfinch, Buzzard,
Yellowhammer, plus singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap.
APRIL 21 - 2016
I went over to
the meadow this morning for the regular 3rd Thursday
in the month conservation work session. Only 6
volunteers attended probably due to the rival
attraction of the St George's Day parade taking place
in Emsworth Square a couple of days earlier than
usual. The main task was to clear the remaining
Blackthorn bush from the north-east corner of the
meadow. The idea is to open up this area to reduce
vandalism and to improve the habitat for flowers and
other wildlife. Here is the crew having a coffee
On the wildlife front
I was pleased to hear the first Whitethroat on
Brook Meadow this year - singing strongly from the
causeway trees. This is a little later than usual. I
could not get a photo, but here is one taken at this
time last year by Malcolm Phillips.
I was also pleased to
see the first male Orange Tip on Brook Meadow -
I did see my first of the year yesterday at Marlpit
Lane. They overwinter as a chrysalis and tend to
emerge at the same time. The main food of the larvae
is Cuckooflowers which are quite scarce on Brook
Meadow, though I gather they also use Hedge Mustard
which we have more of. The photo below shows the first
sighting last year by Malcolm Phillips.
I spotted one of the ginger Bumblebees feeding on a
Dandelion flower, probably Bombus
hypnorum. I also saw a furry yellowish fly
which I think could be a Yellow Dung-fly.
Finally, I saw a small Ladybird with numerous black
spots nestling among the nettle leaves. I suspect that
this is a form of Harlequin Ladybird.
The male anthers are
now prominent on the Distant Sedge on the
Lumley area, where Divided Sedge is also fairly
abundant. But I could not find any False Fox Sedge
which will be the next of the regular sedges to
A single spike of
Distant Sedge showing the male flowers at the top and
went along the NRA track at North Thorney and down to
the Little Deeps and back. He saw several migrants
including Swallows, but no Cuckoo. Tony's photos
included a Whitethroat and a possible Reed Warbler.
There is no doubt about the Whitethroat.
However, I am a bit
uncertain about the Reed Warbler so I have
included two of Tony's photos of this bird. Two points
make me hesitate; one the absence of any supercilium
and two the habitat which is clearly willows and not
reeds. Tony was unsure about the bird's song. We would
appreciate any suggestions about this bird's identity.
Elizabeth Country Park
spent yesterday morning at Queen Elizabeth Country
Park and got a couple of excellent images of a couple
of common birds that can be seen there.
APRIL 20 - 2016
Cleavers . . . .
. . Herb-Robert
Here are some
of the flowers that I saw during a walk around
Emsworth this morning.
Thale Cress . . . . .
Slender Speedwell . .
. . . . . Ribwort Plantain
Tall Fescue on Brook
I checked the
lane again at about 12 noon, but there was no sound of
any Nightingale. There is still time, though the
current disturbance at the site and along the lane
does not fill me with much optimism.
However, I did see my first male Orange Tip of
the year. it did not stop for a photo so I am using
one from last year taken on Brook Meadow in April by
Martin survey - help needed
French carried out her first weekly survey of the
House Martin nests yesterday morning, following the
preliminary survey a about 10 days ago to record the
existing nests and their condition. She was monitoring
four properties with a total of 12 nests. Caroline
reported: "There was no activity around any of these
nests during my visit, although 11 House Martins did
appear, feeding quite high overhead. I was interested
to read on John Goodspeed's 'Nature Notes' that the
first House Martin was reported at Westbourne on 16th
April. There will be far too many nests in Westbourne
for me to monitor them all, but I'd be interested to
hear about the location of any active nests in
Westbourne, or in Emsworth."
Please contact Caroline at . . . email@example.com
if you can help. I too would be interested,
particularly if there are any House Martin nests in
Emsworth as we have not had any for around 20 years.
responded postively to a query on this blog (April 9)
as to whether Toothwort ican still be found in
Lowton's Copse, Clanfield. Ros visited this site
yesterday and found several Toothwort plants at both
east and west entrances under Hazel but added that
they are not easy to find. She also said the Bluebells
and Wood Anemones are at their peak there.
went to Stansted Forest yesterday at approximately 3pm
and heard a Cuckoo in really good voice! Have there
been any other local hearings?
and his brother were on NW Thorney yesterday evening
until dark, and got great views of a Barn Owl
hunting the grassland and gorse scrub. They also
heard 'pinging' Bearded Tits in the Little Deep
reeds. Other sightings were Bar-Tailed Godwits
in with a group of c.30 Curlew, a high and
distant Osprey over the harbour entrance and,
most satisfying, a Merlin that dashed south
over the mudflats just off the west bank after sunset.
They also saw a medium sized bat species, as
well as Pipistrelles, right in the far NW
"For those of you who do not know me, I work for Norse
South East with volunteer groups on behalf of Havant
Borough Council. For those of you who live in the
borough you will know that we do the same roles just
under a the different banner!
I am currently planning a couple of short work
afternoons at Hampshire Farm - next to the Redlands
Grange development. It's all light work - working on
the newly planted trees and litter picking. I was
hoping that some of you might join us - I have
attached a poster with the details. I am hoping in the
future I might be able to set up a volunteer group to
help us maintain and keep an eye on the area, this is
the first step. Feel free to forward this to anyone
else you think might be interested."
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you
require any further information.
APRIL 19 - 2016
I had a late
afternoon walk through Brook Meadow and down to
Slipper Millpond. Nothing special. Saw male and female
Blackcaps together just off the north path which is
very good news for breeding. But, still no
Whitethroat. The Great Black-backed Gull was on the
nest on Slipper Millpond with her mate on the water.
Mute Swan also on the nest. Mediterranean Gulls
everywhere. Here are a few splashing around on the
French got some good sightings while carrying out an
early morning survey on a South Downs farm yesterday.
Here are two cracking photos of the stars. A Brown
Hare and a Yellowhammer.
APRIL 18 - 2016
I drove up to
Marlpit Lane this morning to check for
Nightingales. I walked slowly up and down the
lane listening intently, but there was no sound of a
Nightingale. I also walked up the footpath going east,
but there was nothing there either, but for
Chiffchaff, Blackcap and the local birds. There is a
lot of work currently going on in this area and I am
concerned that this could deter any Nightingales. But,
we shall see, as it is still fairly early for
I was interested to read a notice on the metal gate
leading to a new track going eastwards from the lane.
It was headed 'Work in Progress' and said they were
'looking to thin the trees out to enhance the growth
and welfare of a better woodland'. But, I fear in
doing this they could be making the woodland less
attractive for Nightingales, which have probably been
coming to the Marlpit Lane area for hundreds of years.
In fact, the woodland is of fairly recent origin, as
the area used to be a land fill site until about 15
years ago when it was planted up with new trees.
Here is a Sedge
Warbler that Tony Wootton got on North Thorney in
April last year.
car at the corning of Thornham Lane and Thorney Road I
walked along the old NRA track listening out for any
sign of migrants, but again heard nothing, but for
Cetti's Warblers - at least three of them.
However, I had better luck on the track leading down
to Little Deeps with a Sedge Warbler singing
strongly from the reeds a little way down the track.
There was no mistaking that cheerful mixture of
musical phrases, harsh chattering and squeaky whistled
notes, quite different from the monotonous churring of
a Reed Warbler (not heard today).
While walking along
the NRA track I was accompanied by the constant
calling of Mediterranean Gulls overhead. What a
year it has been for them. I spotted a hoverfly
feeding on a Dandelion flower with distinctive stripes
down its thorax which I think is Helophilus
I stopped to admire a
Goat Willow beside the NRA track which was
covered in green female catkins.
Alexanders are now in full flower along
Thornham Lane. This is certainly the best place
locally to see these magnificent plants. They were
first introduced into Britain by the Romans as a
salad, but are now well naturalised and widespread
mainly along coastal regions.
I also noticed that
Blackthorn leaves were starting to sprout to
complement the flowers which have been out for some
I was interested to
see that the Osprey nesting platform is still
intact on one of the old landing lights on North
Thorney. This was erected several years ago, but I am
not sure if it has ever been used.
I found a good
flowering of Periwinkle on the northern path
round Thornham Point near to the last house. But which
Periwinkle was it? Rose says the key difference
between Greater Periwinkle and Lesser Periwinkle is
the tiny hairs on the leaf margins in Greater. These
cannot be seen on the photo, but checking at home with
the microscope showed some of the leaves (not all) to
have tiny hairs around the edges (see photo on the
right), which presumably means the flowers are Greater
house overlooks the pond phoned to say that the Great
Black-backed Gulls appear to be settled on the nest.
She said they had been restless for the past few days
and leaving the nest at night, but today the gulls
were present and sitting. So, I think we should
calculate the hatching date from today. Incubation
takes 27-28 days, so hatching is predicted for May 16.
Sharon said the male gull had been confronting the cob
swan of the nesting pair, not tolerating its close
approach to the raft. However, the gulls are
surprisingly casual about the Coots that are nesting
in the box on the same raft as their nest.
Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond,
walking in via Wade Lane at 1:05pm until 2:42pm -
cloudy - low tide. The highlights were as follows:
Male and female Kestrel, but not seen together. 1
Buzzard in its usual tree being mobbed by 4 Magpies. 1
Swallow flew into horse stable. 2 Stock Doves and 1
Mistle Thrush. Fox seen as well. Flooded horse paddock
just held 4 Moorhen
Langstone Mill Pond: Buzzard and 2 Med Gulls over.
Male and female Tufted Duck on the pond. Male Reed
Bunting singing along with Chiffchaff.
Little Egrets settling down quickly. Not so many birds
around (only 23 individuals, compared to the 34 seen
yesterday). However, those present were sitting on
nests and I counted 19 occupied nests. It is a shame
that the breeding plumage Cattle Egret at Pagham
choose that heronry instead of this one! The Grey
Herons in the Old South Nest are attempting a second
brood! Still no Reed Warbler singing? Maybe tomorrow!
Also of note is that the Cetti's Warbler that sung its
heart out last summer has not re-appeared.
Off Pook Lane: 92 Black-tailed Godwits (172 seen
yesterday). Some in deep burnt, red, glorious summer
dress. 5 Shelduck flying about. 2 Common Terns. 1
Great Crested Grebe and a male Red Breasted Merganser
diving for fish etc. 11 summer plumaged Dunlin. 3
Whimbrel flew over calling and headed off east and one
was seen feeding in the channel 2 Greenshank (coloured
ring G//R + BRtag//- getting into summer dress now -
see photo - plus one of Reed Bunting).
Ray Hay had
this cracking cock Pheasant on his lawn in Fishbourne
APRIL 17 - 2016
Jean and I had
a walk along the beach at West Hayling from the beach
huts as far as Gunner Point on a fine spring morning
of unbroken sunshine. The main objective was to look
for early Green-winged Orchids on the dunes. I
knew where to look for them so they were not difficult
to find. We counted 76 flowering spikes mostly in the
area between the pill box (Grid Ref: SZ 691 990) and
just past the first seat (Grid Ref: SZ 693 988). There
are certainly lots more to come as several thousand
are usually counted at the height of their season.
Other plants in flower
included Spring Beauty, Musk Storksbill, English
Stonecrop, Sheep's Sorrel, Musk Storksbill, Sweet
Vernal Grass, Field Wood-rush, Bulbous Buttercup,
Thrift. Plants not yet in flower included Sea Kale,
Tree Lupin and Hoary Cress (aka the Portsmouth weed).
See photos below.
on the left has two stem leaves fused to form a
saucer-like structure below a cluster of tiny white
flowers. This arrangement is unique. The flowers are
not fully out at the moment. It is a non-native plant,
introduced to gardens from N. America and E. Asia by
1768 and first recorded in the wild in 1838. It is
still spreading. It can mainly be found near the
western end of the dunes.
Beauty and Musk
Musk Storksbill on the right was scarce and I
only came across it by chance. I also saw a good
flowering of this plant yesterday on a grass verge in
Stonecrop, Sheep's Sorrel
Wood-rush and Tree Lupin
Kale and Hoary Cress (aka the Portsmouth weed) - in
APRIL 16 - 2016
The first image
shows the plant in situ. The images below show a
flower cluster and a leaf in close up.
During a walk
down to Slipper Millpond this morning, I found a good
flowering of what looks like Musk Storksbill on the
grass verge at the junction of Lumley Road and the
main A259. The flowers reminded me of Common
Stork's-bill, but the plants were larger and the
flowers were in a cluster at the top of a long slender
stem. It is said to have a slight sweetish musty
smell, but I could not smell this. My only previous
sighting of Musk Storksbill was at Shanklin on the
Isle of Wight in May 2011.
Millpond a Great Black-backed Gull was snug on its
nest on the centre raft. I believe there may be a Coot
nesting in the box on the centre raft right next to
the Great Black-backed Gull - not a good idea at all!
Meanwhile, the Mute Swan was on her nest in the reeds
with her mate for company.
When I got
home I was delighted to see from our back garden
window a Red Kite with long wings and a distinctively
forked tail flying north over the town. This was the
first I have ever seen over Emsworth, though they have
been seen and photographed in the past. Here is a
cracking photo of a Red Kite over Emsworth taken by
Richard Somerscocks in April 2012.
disappointing sea-watch at Sandy Point Peter
Milinets-Raby called in briefly this morning to
Langstone Mill Pond (7:41am to 8:32am high tide).
Lots more Little Egrets milling about, standing by
nests, displaying etc - 12 on the island and 23 around
the Holm Oak. Too early to start counting
Elsewhere around the pond were: Goldcrest singing from
the Fir tree in the grounds of the Mill, two
Chiffchaff singing and a male Reed Bunting
Grey Heron Nest 6 has two young. 3 Swallows over.
Off shore: 5 Great Crested Grebes (4 in summer and 1
winter) and 2 summer plumaged birds further away off
Conigar Point, Whimbrel heard calling, 8 Med Gulls,
Great Black-backed Gull, Male Red breasted
90 Black-tailed Godwit roosting on the northern shore
of Hayling Island.
Flooded horse paddock: 6 Moorhen and 2 Stock
Barrie Jay had
a pair of Blackcaps in his garden today. He hopes they
will breed. This is possible if the garden is suitably
wild. I hope he keeps a look out for any signs of
nesting and feeding young.
earlier observations go to . . April