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

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

for late May 16-31, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

Send wildlife observations and photos to Brian Fellows at . . . brianfellows at

TUESDAY MAY 31 - 2016

Garden Blackbird
Patrick Murphy sent a snap of the female Blackbird sitting on her nest in his back garden for a second brood and clearly keeping a beady eye on him as he took the photo. Patrick will keep us posted and hopes to include photo of young from first brood.

Portsdown Columbines
Ralph Hollins has provided a definitive answer to my question posed in last night's blog as to whether the Columbines I saw flowering on the lower slopes of Portsdown Hill yesterday were natives. Clearly not!

Ralph refers to the Flora of Hampshire where there is an entry for Aquilegia vulgaris (ie Columbine) on page 104 which gives only four sites for the native plants in VC 11. These are Bratley Water west of Lyndhurst; Granville Copse near Hambledon; Coulters Dean east of the QE Country Park; and Bottom Copse at Exton in the Meon Valley. Ralph also thinks that the native Columbines only have blue flowers and are only found in mature woodland. He adds . . . "the large and increasing numbers of multi-coloured plants we see on Portsdown and elsewhere are all self-sown escapes. I cannot quote any authority for this but am pretty sure that you are unlikely to see any established native plants in our area."

Portsdown Peregrines
Tom Bickerton provided the following update on the Portsdown Hill Peregrines from Bank Holiday Monday. "One chick, by the size a female, there is what looks like the remains of other chicks in the nest. It's not an ideal nest site. Interestingly, when I was there the female was screaming at the male, which urged him to hunt. I would say within a minute or two, he was back with a female blackbird, which he fed the chick. I wish shopping at Sainsbury's was that easy. The chicks future should be good if it can stay in the nest, both parents with feed it and so will get all their attention."
Tom added - "The thing that struck me about the hunt was just how quick it was, she really was nagging him, and probably out of sheer frustration he popped off the perch and snatched the blackbird. I've watched a lot of nests, usually they don't hunt that close, the male just goes off and does his stuff, he caught this blackbird just below the nest."

Here is a nice shot of a female Peregrine that I found in my files
that Tom took at Hayling Oysterbeds in Sept 2015.

Isle of Wight Owlet
I have heard back from Robin Attrill of the Isle of Wight rarities panel about the Owlet that my son and I saw in Eaglehead Copse on May 21. Robin confirmed that the bird is indeed a juvenile Long-eared Owl. He says, they often leave the nest injudiciously early but typically make their way back. Long-eared Owl is a scarce breeding bird on the Island, but the exact population is not known as it is rather secretive, but is probably in the order of 10 to 20 pairs. Tawny Owl is much rarer and is an occasional visitor to the Island where it is not known to breed, although it is common in Hampshire.

MONDAY MAY 30 - 2016

Portsdown Hill
Jean and I took our two young grand daughters (aged 8 and 10) to Fort Widley on Portsdown Hill for them to have a good run around and to see some flowers. They did both, plus an ice cream at the end to round it off. A very enjoyable visit, though the wind was pretty brisk on the north side of the hill. I think we managed to see most of the regular Portsdown Hill flowers. This is truly a wonderful area for wild flowers; I forget sometimes how good it is.

Flowers I noted included a few Common Spotted Orchids just starting to open behind the Fort.
The pretty globular flower heads of Salad Burnet were everywhere - I don't recall having seen them this abundant before. I think this photo shows the male flowers with numerous long stamens.

What I assume were young spikes of Knapweed Broomrape were on the path below the Fort and Bladder Campion here and there.

The regular large patch of Columbines are still present on the south facing slope - are these native or escapes?
Wild Thyme flourishes on the slope to the west of the Fort. .. "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows . . "

Other news
I saw a single Swift flying over Bridge Road 11.30 on Sunday 29 May. Only the second sighting so far this year.
I forgot to say I heard my first Cuckoo of the year in Westbourne while I was looking the Cotton Thistle at about 9pm on May 28.

Jill Stanley was on Brook Meadow today and got this nice photo of Brooklime growing on the edge of the Lumley Stream on the east side of the meadow. Not a very common plant on Brook Meadow.

Water Vole
Carole Checksfield and Paul Seagrave could not believe their luck when they had yet another sighting of a Water Vole in the small pool north of the Lumley footbridge yesterday. This time the vole was swimming northwards away from Peter Pond, but Paul managed to get a photo again.

It could be the same vole that they saw before, but hopefully there is at least a pair in the area which will breed. Carole lives 2 mins from Brook Meadow and says they walk through there most days on our way out walking and will keep a look out for more. Frustratingly, Jean and I took two of our grand daughters over there yesterday hoping to catch sight of the vole. We waited for about 10 mins, but we were out of luck.

See special web page of the Brook Meadow Water Voles with full records and photos

Night visitors
John Williams, my neighbour from across the road, gave me a set of photos including Hedgehog, Fox and domestic Cat that he caught on a night camera in his back garden last night. It is amazing what must come through our gardens at night, quite unseen.

Garden Blackcaps
Blackcaps are relatively common in gardens in winter, but far less common in summer. However, I had a phone call from Pam Phillips this afternoon to say there are Blackcaps nesting in the Pittisporum bush in her back garden. She has seen the male going back and forth and heard the chirruping of youngsters in the nest. She was thinking about pruning the bush, but will leave it until the birds fledge. Blackcaps nesting in gardens is quite unusual, but certainly not unknown and with Brook Meadow just a stone's throw away it is hardly surprising that a pair might set up there.

Stansted news
Michael Prior, the forestry manager at Stansted Forest, writes about the importance of decaying wood habitat in the current newsletter of the Friends of Stansted. Michael points out that the phrase 'deadwood habitat' is not correct as decaying wood is far from dead due to the amount of life it sustains. He goes on to describe the programme of retention of decaying wood on the Stansted estate. They already have a no burn policy in the forest, so all lop and top is left to decay on the woodland floor or in heaps. Larger pieces that take along time to decay are especially important for insects and fungi. I think everyone who knows and loves the Stansted estate appreciates the great work that Michael does in promoting wildlife, as well as maintaining the woodland as a commercial concern. We owe him large debt of gratitude.
Michael added that there have been recent sightings of Hawfinch and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and he hopes they may return as breeding birds one day.

SUNDAY MAY 29 - 2016

A lovely leaf
I always look forward to seeing the first leaves of Wall Lettuce coming up underneath the Beech hedge in Bridge Road. The plant is not yet in flower, but its leaves must surely be one of the most interesting and beautiful of all leaves. Let's hope the dreaded pesticide sprayers do not come along to zap it as they often do.

Talking about pesticides - please go along to the talk at the Wheelwright's Arms in Havant on Tuesday May 31st at 7pm to support the local campaign to stop this dreadful and unecological practice.

A dramatic moth
I spotted this very attractive moth on some vegetation while I was doing a quick survey of the Bridge Road Wayside. I did not know what to make of it, but John Arnott came to the rescue with a micro-moth called Common Tubic (Alabonia geoffrella). What a fabulous animal, says John and I agree.

A quick search on Google will bring up confirmatory photos and information about it. UK Moths describes it as . . . " A spectacular day-flying species, with its combination of rufous, white and metallic blue markings and remarkably large labial palps. It occurs reasonably commonly in England and Wales, inhabiting woodland and marshy places, and flies during May and June."

Green Alkanet
John Arnott also provided some useful extra information about the plant Green Alkanet which has been recently discussed on this blog. He says . . . "Alkanet is a diminutive of the Spanish 'alcanna', which in turn comes from 'al-henna' which is Arabic for the henna plant. The henna plant is a small tree Lawsonia inermis, which was used by women in ancient Egypt to redden their finger and toe nails.

Alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria) was imported for its red dye from France and Germany for various uses, e.g. tinting inferior port, tinting ointments, colouring alcohol in thermometers, colouring the large decorative bottles displayed in chemist's shop windows in times past, staining cabinet-maker's wood and dying hair.
Evergreen Alkanet (or just Green Alkanet) - Pentaglottis sempervirens may have been a cheap mediaeval substitute for Alkanet. It was introduced into this country in the Middle Ages because its roots also give a red dye. It is native to the west coast of France, the Iberian peninsula and the western Mediterranean. Pentaglottis derives from the Greek for five tongues, referring to the five white petal pouches at the entrance to the 'throat' (non-botanical term!) of the flower. Sempervirens is from the Latin for always green, referring to the evergreen habit - hence the English name refers to the evergreen leaves."

Common Blue Damselfly
My thanks also to John for correcting my Azure damselfly seen on the Westbourne Open Space on May 23. The photo is a Common Blue than an Azure, the tell-tale features are the stalked black dot on segment 2 of the abdomen (near the base of the wings), the broad blue shoulder stripes on the thorax, which are wider than the black bars below them, and the all blue abdominal segment 10 (which looks like the last abdominal segment) which has an irregular black pattern at its trailing edge in the Azure. I agree entirely. Thanks John.

Natural Curiosities
Chris Oakley has closed his Hampshire Farm web because of 'lack of interest' and what he considered as 'the abysmal mismanagement of the site'. However he has opened a new nature blog called which aims to give 'snippets of news from around the district with a light hearted slant'. Take a look and if you know of any particularly curious sites let Chris know . . .

SATURDAY MAY 28 - 2016

Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow this afternoon mainly to check the orchids and Ragged Robin. I found another couple of Southern Marsh Orchids in the main orchid area, taking the total to 6, plus one more on the Lumley area. They included a double one which we also had last year. I also found the oval-shaped red Great Burnet flower buds starting to swell.

I counted the Ragged Robin which are doing quite well this year - 154. This is the best count since 2011 when there were 214 plants in flower. I will do a final count in a few days time.

Water Vole!
At last a Water Vole! Sadly, not on the main River Ems, but on the Lumley Stream that runs into Peter Pond. Carole Checksfield sent me the following photo of a Water Vole on the small pool to the north of Peter Pond that Paul Seagrave managed to take today at about 5pm. That is brilliant. We had two earlier sightings of a Water Vole swimming in what we call the Lumley pool on May 8 and May 9, but this is our first photographic confirmation. There is no doubt about the identification, blunt nose small ears, etc. From small beginnings so they say!

Westbourne Cotton Thistles
Chris Oakley came across a splendid crop of Cotton Thistles immediately behind the new Wellness Clinic (the old Salvation Army hut) on the right hand side as you go into Westbourne from Emsworth. Chris adds that this small patch of land was cleared of brambles, nettles, etc, last year by the people who opened the Wellness clinic, but he is not sure who owns the land. Here is Chris's photo of the plants which are not yet in flower. They are called Cotton Thistle from the very soft 'cottony' feel of their leaves, though they still have sharp spines around the edges.

I was interested in Chris's observation since there used to be some fine specimens of Cotton Thistles growing on the opposite side of the road from where the Wellness Clinic is now sited for many years. They were quite a feature, not to be found elsewhere locally, but sadly they were removed a few years ago and replaced by an ugly Laurel of some sort. Here is my last photo of this verge taken 5 years ago in June 2011 when it was rich in semi-wild plants, including not only Cotton Thistles, but also Fennel and Artichoke.

Following Chris's e-mail, I went to see what the verge looked like currently. As you can see from the photo below it is a poor substitute for the rich variety of plants that used to grow there. Interestingly, the Artichoke appears to have survived the clearance near the road sign. At least one can see the Welcome to West Sussex sign!

FRIDAY MAY 27 - 2016

While walking along a stream with friends recently Romney and Ken Turner enjoyed watching the Mayflies dancing in the evening sun. Romney tried to capture them in mid air but not very successful. But was so pleased when she spotted this one had come down into the grass for a rest. Look at that tail! From its spotted wings this one looks like Ephemera danica.

Garden Jay
Frank Naylor had a splendid Jay turn up in his garden in Markway Close, Emsworth yesterday. Jays are quite unusual garden birds away from woodland. I have only had one once in my Emsworth town garden in May 2012. In the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme Jay is ranked 25th at this time of the year having been recorded in 11% of gardens.

THURSDAY MAY 26 - 2016

Brook Meadow
I found four Southern Marsh Orchids on the main orchid area on the north meadow, not clustered together like last year's, but well scattered over the area. Roughly around Grid Ref: SU 7506 0614. There was another one on the Lumley area in the same place as last year at Grid Ref: SU 75136 06031. I have marked them all with sticks. Here is a photo of the first one to open which is now starting to look more like an orchid!

Maurice Lillie also found some emerging Southern Marsh Orchids. I did not see his sticks, so maybe they were different ones from mine? They will be easier to see when they come up properly. Hard Rush is showing the first spikelets on the main orchid area.

Mint Moth
Every year without fail we see these tiny but very colourful moths fluttering around the garden. We had one today which rested long enough for me to get a photo.

Their scientific name is Pyrausta aurata but they are often referred to as mint moths for their liking for mint or thyme. Mint Moth has two generations, from mid-April to June and again from July to Sept. Today's moth is from the first generation.

Ralph's comments
Ralph Hollins thought last night's blog was very interesting and made the following comments:
"Green Alkanet seems to have increased greatly this year and I see that some people are now thinking of it as spreading out of control both in this country and in the USA - see One of its uses is as a dye and I wondered if it was called Green Alkanet because the dye was green but that is not so - it is blue.
The Periwinkles you photographed at Lumley Mill are Vinca major var Oxyloba. They are numerous in the hedge all round the Havant Health Centre building and at the east end of Daw Lane on Hayling. Intermediate Periwinkle is said to have very pale, almost white flowers and I have seen plants answering that description planted in gardens but have not come across it in the wild."

Orchids at Chappetts
Tony Wootton went to Chappetts Copse where by chance the Hampshire Wildlife Trust were carrying out the annual orchid count. Narrow-leaved Helleborine (over 4500) and White Helleborines together with Fly Orchids and Bird's Nest Orchids. Very pleasant hour in the warm dappled sunshine. There is no mistaking the Fly Orchid on the left, but the Bird's Nest Orchid on the right needs a bit of working out.


Lumley Wallflowers
Ralph Hollins was in Emsworth yesterday to look for the first flowering Southern Marsh Orchid on Brook Meadow, but failed to find it. It is not very obvious, but can be seen on the east side of the main orchid area close to some Osiers. Jill Stanley has marked it with a small stick. The orchids will be much easier to see when they are in full flower later in a week or two.

Of more immediate interest, Ralph went up Lumley Road past Lumley Mill and found the yellow flowered Wallflowers growing on the tall brick wall just before reaching Lumley Mill Farm. He says "I wondered, as I have done each year, about the origin of these plants. I have seen similar plants growing on the walls of Portchester Castle and looking as if they have been there since Roman times (you can see them in a photo taken by Sarah Patton at Wallflowers on Portchester Castle). The nearest I can get to the origin of this species Erysimum cheiri is that Wikipedia says they are native to Europe but Stace tells me that they are introduced to Britain.... which would allow for the Romans having brought them here??"

I had a look at them myself this morning. The flowers growing on the old brick wall are, in fact, as mixture of yellow and red. Some flowers are growing on the ground at the base of the wall. As Ralph says, they have been there for many years though clearly not as long as the ones on the walls of Portchester Castle. However, they are fully naturalised in that habitat and in that sense are 'wild', though they may well have originated from a garden escape.

Greater Celandine
On the way to see the Wallflowers I stopped to admire the Greater Celandines with delicate yellow flowers, which continue to hang on at the end of the path leading from Seagull Lane to Lumley Mill, despite attempts over the years by the council and others to get rid of the 'weeds' along this path.

Greater Periwinkle
On the way back down to Lumley Road I stopped to look at the cluster of Greater Periwinkles growing on the side of the track leading to Lumley Mill. They can be identified as Greater Periwinkle (as opposed to Lesser Periwinkle) by the tiny hairs along the leaf margins, which can just be seen on the photo, but which are very clear on the plants themselves. I know there is also a Intermediate Periwinkle though I have never been sure what that is.

Wood Sedge
Moving further down Lumley Road, past the cottages, I came across a couple of tufts of Wood Sedge on the roadside adjacent to the Lumley Stream. As this verge is officially part of the Brook Meadow site I can put them down as a first for the reserve. This takes the total number of sedges recorded on the reserve to 14 of which I have found 11 so far this year. These Wood Sedges were almost certainly not planted there, and are in an appropriate wooded habitat, so I would expect them to survive and join the thriving wild colony of Grey Sedges along this roadside. Remote Sedge used to grow on the streamside, though I have not been able to check it out this year.

See web site for complete list of sedges and other plants recorded on Brook Meadow . . .

Hairy Buttercups
I entered the Brook Meadow site itself through the Lumley gate and made my way down the narrow path on the east side of the south meadow. This used to be the 'Bramble path', though the Bramble hedge has now gone as a result of the flood defence work around the garden of Gooseberry Cottage. However, the input of fresh soil had created a real wonderland of plants.
I have already mentioned the magnificent display of Celery-leaved Buttercups at the southern end of the path, but today I was confronted with even more buttercup plants with open flowers and reflexed sepals. Could they be Hairy Buttercups?

Here is one of them

There was only one was to answer this question, to pull one up. Hey presto! The plant had roots and no bulbs, which definitely ruled out Bulbous Buttercups and established them in my eyes as Hairy Buttercups.

Roots of the Hairy Buttercup (left) and the reflexed sepals (right).

I thought this sacrifice was justified to establish the plant's identity. Also, there were at least two dozen others in splendid health. I took the sacrificial plant home and put it in a pot with compost. If it survives I will replace it. As Hairy Buttercup is an annual plant, then there seems a good chance that the present abundance of plants should yield a good harvest of seeds for next year. This was the first Hairy Buttercup recorded on Brook Meadow since July 2012.

Prickly Sow-thistle
Another plant thriving on the new soil flood defence embankment is Prickly Sow-thistle with some magnificent examples all showing the distinctive rounded auricles of its basal leaves where they clasp the stem. In contrast, the leaves of Smooth Sow-thistle clasp the stem with pointed auricles.

Prickly Sow-thistle

Rounded auricle of Prickly Sow-thistle

This shows my bike on the south meadow path
with Celery-leaved Buttercups, Hairy Buttercups and Prickly Sow-thistles

Sea Club-rush
Further down I found the first Sea Club-rush of the year on Brook Meadow flowering in the far south east corner of the south meadow where there is a saline influence of tidal waters from Peter Pond.

Green Alkanet
In the discussion piece on yesterday's blog I mentioned Green Alkanet as an example of an introduced plant that had become fully naturalised over a long period of time and which might therefore be regarded as being 'wild'. Jill Stanley responded to say that she has been photographing a splendid specimen of Green Alkanet on the footpath between Bellevue Lane and Christopher Way.

One of her books said it was 'Introduced to gardens prior to 1700 and recorded from the wild by 1724' and another book says it is 'Native in France, naturalised in Britain and Belgium'. Jill added "it is lovely plant, but 'thuggish' and difficult to eradicate from gardens!"
I would agree with Jill, though not being a gardener, I would describe it slightly differently, as a successful plant which has established itself well in the community of wild plants. Incidentally, the naming of this plant has always puzzled me as the flowers are bright blue and definitely not green.

Grass Eggar Moth caterpillar
In yesterday's blog, Maureen Power reported an attractive caterpillar on Hayling Beach which she was uncertain about. Our resident caterpillar guru, Mike Wells, came to the rescue saying . . "I read with interest (as always) any article on caterpillars and feel that this is a Grass Eggar Moth caterpillar". Thanks Mike. I gather dunes are a favoured habitat of this moth.

Maureen's photo of Grass Eggar

Broad-bodied Chaser
Graham Petrie's plans to sort out his hanging basket were put on hold due to this female Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly that had just managed to shed its exuvia shell. Graham said it was quite a distance from the pond, and at the top of an 8-foot post, so was certainly putting in the effort!

Regarding the injured Hedgehog that she found in her garden, Elaine Morgan added that she took it to the Downland veterinary surgery on the Havant Road. They were excellent, but as the injury was so bad they decided to put the hedgehog to sleep. There was no charge and one of the assistants told Elaine that they have a lady who looks after injured hedgehogs and where possible re-homes them. Always useful to know these things.
Caroline French says she has had at least one hedgehog coming to the garden feeding station in recent weeks. "A couple of days ago a neighbour came to me and said they had found a hedgehog locked in their garage for a day (possibly two). They had already put it in a box so I took it and offered a plate of mealworms and water. It ate the lot and had seconds. It appeared to be fine so I placed it in one of the hedgehog boxes on my garden as a quiet and safe place for it until nightfall. That night there was a male and a female in my garden with courtship (bit of a euphemism) going on. I'll let you know if there are further developments."
Graham Petrie tells me he has at least one hog visiting regularly at the moment. He has caught it on camera once but needs to start putting it out more. We look forward to more news about Graham's hog.
If there are any other Hedgehog stories please let me know.

Inholmes Orchids
This morning Maureen Power went for a walk in Inholmes wood, above Stoughton, and found the Fly orchid - in the same place as described by Di Ashe on June 7th last year. Also, Twayblades a bit further on and a Greater Butterfly orchid quite a way further along the same path.

TUESDAY MAY 24 - 2016

Southern Marsh Orchids

I had a look at the first Southern Marsh Orchid flower spike that Jill Stanley found on Brook Meadow yesterday. It is in the usual area on the east side of the main orchid area at Grid Ref: SU 750061. There was no change from Jill's photo, so I did not take another. I could not see any others. Here is the pic that Jill took.

Last year the first flowering spikes were open on May 18th and by the end we had a total of 20 plants in flower (including 3 on the Lumley area) which is a record for the meadow. The first two Southern Marsh Orchids were donated by Nigel Johnson who had grown them in pots from originals collected from the large colony on South Moor at Langstone. They were planted on Brook Meadow in June 2005, so, in 10 years they have multiplied 10 times and at this rate we should have 200 in year 2025. That sounds good, though I am unlikely to be around to see them.

Slender Spike-rush
I managed to find the patch of Slender Spike-rush (Eleocharis uniglumis) in the same location in the centre of the Lumley area, where John Norton first discovered it on the on June 4, 2012. Here it is in comparison with Common Spike-rush which grows nearby. The Slender Spike-rush is on the left and, as one would expect, is slenderer than the Common Spike-rush on the right. Apart from differences in size, Slender only has the lowest glume of the spikelet without a floret; in Common both the two lowest glumes are empty. Martin Rand says the Slender Spike-rush is widespread albeit rather localised in Britain.

Other plants
Other firsts for 2016 on Brook Meadow included Cut-leaved Crane's-bill and Yellow Rattle - the first I have seen anywhere.

The first flower buds are now showing on the Great Burnet in the centre of the orchid area. Many of the common grasses are now in flower including Meadow Foxtail, Marsh Foxtail, Cocksfoot, Barren Brome, Soft Brome, Tall Fescue, Red Fescue, False Oat-grass and Yorkshire Fog.

Two observations of interest on the meadow were a pair of 22-spot Ladybirds mating and a Froghopper. The very distinctive red and black Froghopper gets its name from its ability to jump. It also produces masses of froth in which the nymphs develop and this gives rise to other names such as spittle-bugs and Cuckoo-spit insects.

I could see just two Great Black-backed Gull chicks on the centre raft with their parents. Both were moving around, but there was no sign of the third that Mike Wells got on camera on May 20. I fear one could have been lost.

Mute Swan family was on Dolphin Lake with 4 cygnets still intact.

I was pleased to get an e-mail from Fiona McKinnon about the young Owl that my son Pete and I saw in Eaglehead Copse on the Isle of Wight last Saturday. Fiona pointed out that my photo of the bird showed prominent "ear tufts" and yellow eyes, both of which are characteristic of a Long-eared Owl and not a Tawny Owl which is what I called it. I must admit I just assumed it was a Tawny Owl as the woodland habitat was right without really looking too closely at the photo. Here it is again.

I have subsequently learned that Tawny Owls are quite rare birds on the Isle of Wight with very few sightings, though Long-eared Owls are more common and there are breeding records for them. On my son's suggestion, I have sent the sighting and photo to the Isle of Wight rarities panel for their interest.

Maureen Power went down to Hayling last week (20th) and saw lots of the Green-winged Orchids, also Thrift, Sea Campion, Yellow Rattle, Sea Kale, Lupins, etc. She found these caterpillars on a couple of Lupin plants and wondered if I knew what they were. The nearest pictures she could find seemed to be the Oak Eggar moth. Any other offers?

Wild or escapes - Discussion point
This question comes up again and again. When is a plant wild even if it is a garden escape? I think if it is growing in a location of its own accord (i.e. it was not planted there by someone) then it is definitely wild. It might not last very long in which case it is often referred to as a 'casual'. Its garden origin doesn't alter that. For example Green Alkanet is not native, but it is widely 'naturalised' which means that it is not native, but has successfully managed to reproduce itself in the wild.

MONDAY 23 MAY - 2016

Waysides News
I met up with Jane Brook this morning for a tour around some of the Emsworth waysides; Greville Green (west), Spencer's Field verge (adjacent to Horndean Road) and the Westbourne Open Space. The grasses on all three sites were burgeoning and looking good. Generally, the Spencer's Field wayside was the most interesting. Here a few of the highlights.

Cut-leaved Crane's-bill - generally in flower on all waysides
False Oat-grass - my first of the year on the Spencer's Field.

Azure Damselflies - at least 4 on different waysides
CORRECTION - the damselfly in the photo is Common Blue (see blog entry May 29)
Crab Spider - possibly Misumena vatia - resting a panicle of Cocksfoot.

Shield Bugs - Dock Leaf bug
Sloe bug
- both on the Spencer's Field wayside.

Nursery-web spider (Pisaura mirabilis) - on Spencer's Field
Spiderlings - probably Garden Spiders - in a nest.

Millpond news
The Great Black-backed Gulls were present on the centre raft when I visited this afternoon and I could just see two chicks. Three chicks were seen last week by Mike Wells, but the vegetation on the raft is so dense that the other one could easily have been hidden.

The Mute Swan family is down to 4 cygnets from the 5 that were hatched on May 9th. The pen was with the cygnets on Peter Pond. The cob standing guard on the east bank - hissing fiercely if I came too close. A little later I saw the whole family on Slipper Millpond, though keeping well clear of the gulls on the raft. Here is mum with the babies on Peter Pond

Brook Meadow
I was encouraged to see an increase in flowering Ragged Robin plants on the Lumley area since I last checked them on May 16. Today, I counted a total of 67 plants in flower which is a big increase on last year's final total of 34, though still some way behind the 2014 total of 104. But there is still time.

Jill Stanley was also on Brook Meadow this afternoon and was pleased to find the first of the emerging Southern Marsh Orchids. These are the first of our orchids to flower, but the others should be following in a week or so. This first flower was a bit later than last year, but generally about right on average. Jill also spotted a nice little patch of Lesser Stitchwort about 50 yards to the east of the main seat, in the same place that she saw them last year.

Hedgehog news
My request for sightings of Hedgehog in the last Brook Meadow e-mail Newsletter brought the following three replies:

Irene Selway has a hedgehog that comes to her garden at night. "He/she is fairly big but one year there was a baby one. I don't know if they live under my shed/summer house deck but they visit every year. They don't hang about because if the dogs see them they bark and then they roll up and sit out the danger till I get the dogs indoors. Nevertheless they still visit each year for a while at this time of year."

Elaine Morgan has also seen Hedgehogs in her garden over the years. "This year so far I have seen only one, and sadly I had to take it to the vet to be put to sleep. It was in my hedge couple or three weeks ago in a warm sunny spot and was not moving much, which didn't seem quite right. I picked it up and examined it and one of its back paws was missing and there was no flesh on the leg, just the bone. I did wonder whether it had been caught in a mouse/rat trap."

Tim and Elaine Abel live in Brook Gardens and have a small hedgehog visiting every night to feed on dried mealworms. Tim also sees a bat that flies over and says they have had bats continually for the whole 33 years they have lived there.

Pesticide Action meeting
Ray Cobbett reports: "The next group meeting is on Tuesday 31 May at The Wheelwrights Arms in Havant when we welcome Nick Mole, Policy Officer for Pesticide Action Network, a National charity, campaigning for banning harmful pesticides from public places in our cities and towns. This includes the use of neonics which are thought to be partly responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder among Honey Bees and other pollinators. The meeting starts at 7 pm it's free and open to all who share our concerns."

May 17 to May 22

News from the Isle of Wight
Jean and I spent a few days on the Isle of Wight staying with our son, Peter, and his family at Cowes. The weather was rather mixed and I did not have much opportunity for wildlife watching. However, Peter was able to take me to see a couple of interesting things that I had not seen before.
The first was my first ever Greater Butterfly Orchids in Walters Copse near to the Newtown Nature Reserve. Six of them were in flower in the copse. Greater Butterfly Orchid is a rare flower, listed as 'Near Threatened'. It is sparsely distributed on the Isle of Wight. The photo on the left shows a spike of flowers, not fully open. The photo on the right shows an open flower with the distinctive long spur.

Although they were well past their best I was pleased Peter was able to take me to Eaglehead Copse near Sandown to see Toothwort. There were still a lot of spikes on show in the woods, we saw at least 100. This was one of the best.

While walking through Eaglehead Copse my son spotted a young Tawny Owl on the ground, looking quite well and healthy. We were a little concerned for its safety, but were reassured by a wildlife expert that the youngster will almost certainly be able to climb back up the tree.

Jean and I paid a visit to Ventnor Botanical Gardens where it was good to see the Wall Lizards were still present in the despite the change in ownership.

Local wildlife news

Slipper Millpond
The big news while I was away was the hatching of three Great Black-backed Gull chicks on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond. I am grateful to Mike Wells for sending me a nice photo of the chicks. I hope they are still there!

Emsworth Millpond
22 May - Chris Oakley sent the following picture of a Mallard duck and her eleven ducklings on the Emsworth millpond. I wonder how long they will survive?

Baffins Pond
22 May - Eric Eddles reports that only one Barnacle Goose chick survived on Baffins Pond.

Langstone Mill Pond
May 17 - Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond, walking in from Wade Lane 12:38pm to 1:41pm - low tide. Wade Lane: Chiffchaff singing, 4 Stock Dove, 10 Swallows hawking over pony stables, 2 Med Gulls over, 1 Swift over and 1 Buzzard. Dried up horse paddock: 3 Stock Doves and Blackcap heard singing.
Langstone Mill Pond: Rape, orgy, attempted murder?? I couldn't make up my mind what it was, but it lasted 15 brutal frenzied minutes with the female often submerged with all the males on top of her trying to grab her neck. At one point she had 8 male Mallard on top of her and a Coot. Why the Coot got involved I do not know? She did manage to fly off. See photo - not for the squeamish!!

On the pond was a male Gadwall, 2 Swift over, 2 singing Reed Warblers, and I noticed three extra Little Egret nests, bringing the total of nests to 40. A very impressive count. 17 Med Gulls over and later a flock of 20 circled over before heading inland!
Checked out the gulls on the roof top of the Colt factory along New Lane, Havant and counted 5 pairs of Lesser black-backed Gulls, a sitting Great Black-backed Gull and at least 22+ Herring Gulls nests!

Great Spotted Woodpeckers
May 18 - Barrie Jay says his resident breeding pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers are very active at this moment, going backwards and forwards from feeders to their nest every few minutes. Here is a pic taken last year of parent and youngster on the feeder.

For earlier observations go to . . May 1-16