LINKS TO . . . Emsworth Wildlife - Homepage . . . Current Wildlife Blog . . . Blog Archives . . .


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 June 1-13, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

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

MONDAY JUNE 13 - 2016

Slipper Millpond
I cycled down to Slipper Millpond this morning mainly to check on the nesting Great Black-backed Gulls. From Slipper Road I could see one of the adult gulls on the centre raft along with one of the three chicks. The others were probably hidden away in the now luxuriant growth on the raft.
The Coots were snug behind a barricade of twigs in their nest boxes on the north and south rafts for what must be a second brood. The chicks from the first broods must have been taken by the gulls.

Crossing the main road, I found a large clump of Lesser Swine-cress (C. didymus) on the edge of a garden wall on the corner of Lumley Road opposite the grass verge which has now been cut. The flowers are in spikes opposite the pinnate leaves, in contrast to the far less common Swine-cress (C. squamatus) in which the flowers are in bunches at the base of the leaves.

I found my first open Spear Thistle flower of the year open on the east side of Peter Pond. What a cracking flower it is too.

I happened to meet Paddy who lives in The Rookery. She is still feeding the Hedgehog in her garden that she said did not hibernate at all over the last very mild winter and is looking fine.

Brook Meadow
Coming back through Brook Meadow I checked the Blue Water-speedwell plants on the edge of the Lumley Stream which are now showing the long flower spikes characteristic of the hybrid (Veronica x Lackschewitzii) with Pink Water Speedwell. Martin Rand says the hybrid is much commoner than either parent on most streams of central and eastern Hants. We already have a number of records of the hybrid from Brook Meadow. Here is a rather poor photo of a flower stem showing plenty of flowers.

I got a very nice close-up photo of a female Demoiselle resting upside down on a leaf. I think it is a Beautiful Demoiselle which my guide says has broader wings with a brownish tint; the female Banded Demoiselle has a greenish tint to narrower wings.


Beachlands, West Hayling
Jean and I went down to Beachlands on West Hayling this morning mainly to look for Dodder which I hear is out in some areas of the country. I last saw this unusual parasitic plant on the Gorse on Beachlands in July 2011. We looked around the pitch and putt golf course area which is where I think I saw it last time, but we could not see any. Maybe we were too early?
Here is a photo that I took last time of the plants crawling all over a Gorse bush. As you can see, it consists of tangles of red thread-like stems and clusters of tiny pale pink flowers. It has a very unusual life history which I won't go into here, but which you can read about in the flower guides or on the web.

Despite missing out on the Dodder, we enjoyed our visit and saw lots of other nice flowers including masses of English Stonecrop along the path edges, patches of pink Thrift, White Bryony twining over the bushes (a bit like Dodder), and the very pretty pink and white striped flowers of Field Bindweed. We also noted a few spikes of Viper's Bugloss and Weld.

The only birds that caught our attention were the Linnets that flitted around the bushes. One perched high on a bramble which I got a photo of. The absence of red on forehead suggests a female, though the russet breast indicates a male. Maybe it is a juvenile male?

Chidham meadow
Tony Wootton walked from Nutbourne towards Chidham yesterday at about 18.00 and came to what is called an 'alternative path'. He says this was created a few years ago so as to avoid going around the very crumbly coastal path. It goes directly across a meadow which is full of wild flowers, including Common Spotted, Pyramidal and Bee Orchids Broomrape, Wild Carrot (just opening) and what must be the first Meadow Brown butterfly of the year. Here are some of Tony's photos.

FRIDAY JUNE 10 - 2016

Warblington Bee Orchids
This morning I took my life in my hands to rush across the very busy A259 road just before the Warblington roundabout to see if any Bee Orchids had survived on the northern roadside verge. Here is a view of the northern verge on the A259 looking west towards the Warblington roundabout.

At this time last year, Di Ashe found over 50 flowering Bee Orchid flowers, but they were all cut down in their prime by the Council mowers shortly afterwards. However, when Jayne Lake (of HBC now Norse) and I checked the verge on Mar 23 this year, we found some plants had survived and were showing leaves. So, Jayne issued instructions for the mowers to give the orchid area a miss when the next cutting was due. But, the message did not get through and these poor plants were once again subjected another blast from the cutting machines in early May which almost finished them off.
But, no, still some have actually survived! Against all my expectations, I managed to locate 7 flowering Bee Orchid plants on the far end of the grass verge near the slip road from the A27. I could not push the dead twigs into the hard ground, so I laid a few sticks around the flowers to mark the site. This photo shows a little group of three flowering plants on the roadside verge.

Although the Bee Orchid flowering has been severely affected by the mowing of the verge, I am advised by experts that the orchids should be back again next year, provided the present flowers are allowed to set seed. Let's hope the message gets out to the cutting teams next year to avoid this sensitive verge until after the end of the flowering season. Please don't cut them again!

Ironically, much of the rest of the grass verge has been left uncut with the result there is a fine swathe of grasses and wild flowers which are looking very good. Among the plants I noted were the first Common Ragwort flowers of the year and a mass of Caper Spurge near the ornamental boat. I only came across Caper Spurge for the first time ever yesterday on the east side of Peter Pond. Here are these two plants on the Warblington road verge.

Warblington wayside
While I was there, I also had a look at the 'official' wayside which is where the path and cycleway goes down to the underpass. The centre verge where Clustered Clover used to grow was closely mown as was the northern embankment, but most of the other areas were uncut. I logged a total of 95 different species which is about average for this very flower rich area. The area along the track towards the Pressure Reducing Station was particularly rich in wild flowers. It was here I found Toad Rush (new to this wayside), Creeping Bent (first of the year) and possibly Squirrel-tail Fescue which I have seen in previous years.

Also on the wayside were: Selfheal - newly flowering and Timothy grass - first emergence of spikelets

Rose-ringed Parakeets
Chris Oakley has had two reports of Rose-ringed Parakeets (aka Ring-necked Parakeet) seen locally. One was from the top end of New Brighton Road and the other of a pair at the top end of the new estate toward Long Copse Lane. Could be the same ones, of course. These attractive birds are fairly common in the London and Surrey areas, but rarely come down this way. If you have heard or seen them please let me know. This is what they look like and are they are quite noisy!

Langstone Mill Pond and Southmoor
Late in the morning Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond and then walked over to Southmoor to photograph the Southern Marsh Orchids (11:55am to 1:20pm).
Langstone Mill Pond: A pair of Shelduck were at the back of the pond - very wary. The male was on look out for the female whom was feeding with lots of upends. Also on the pond were 2 male Tufted Duck (I hope the females have settled on eggs now), the regular pair of Gadwall were still busy feeding and there was just one singing Reed Warbler.
I counted 61+ Little Egrets (two quite old youngsters visible and one nest had a pair of tiny chicks - cute!). There was a young Grey Heron in the Top Holm Oak nest flapping its wings vigorously (second brood).
Off shore (low tide) was another single Shelduck and 2 Great Crested Grebes as well as 2 Med Gulls flying over. Not even an Oystercatcher today!
Birds on Southmoor included 3 singing Cetti's Warbler (so noisy), 2 Lesser Whitethroats singing, 1+ Whitethroat, 2+ Meadow Pipit, a Green Woodpecker and a Skylark. Find attached my best Southern Marsh Orchid photo from Southmoor - such a lovely plant in close up (taken with my new clip-on macro lens for Samsung Mobile Phone camera - nifty gadget). I am finding the mobile phone camera better than my proper camera!!

PS Has anyone else had experience of using a macro lense with a smart phone? I think Apple also do one for the iPhone. Looks promising, though I gather it does not work if you have a cover on the phone.


Brook Meadow and Peter Pond
I had another look at the possible Water Vole burrows on the river bank in Palmer's Road Copse, but there was no sign of any activity. I also checked the Lumley Stream for Water Vole but saw nothing. I met Brian Lawrence on a similar quest, but he also drew a blank. But we must persevere! Brian later got a nice photo of a male Banded Demoiselle - which has been unusually scarce so far this year on Brook Meadow.

I headed to Peter Pond where I heard at least two Reed Warblers singing merrily. The one in the reedbeds in the south west corner of the pond appeared to have a mate as there was much chasing around in the reeds. Rather than singing, the male often made churring calls, presumably to attract the female. One is very close to these birds, but they are always deep in the reeds and hard to photograph. This was my best effort.

I noticed Hairy Tare was in flower in the regular spot by the pond on the path to Gooseberry Cottage. This is the only spot I know of locally that this plant grows.

Guided walk on Brook Meadow
This afternoon I was pleased to lead a walk through Brook Meadow for about 15 members of the SW Natural History Society which is based in Devon. They had previously visited Emsworth on 25 May 2009 when we had the vast invasion of Painted Lady butterflies, but there was nothing as exciting as that today. In fact, we saw we few butterflies during the whole afternoon. However, we did see lots of other interesting things, including wild flowers, grasses and sedges. Jennifer Rye met the group in Palmer's Road Car Park at 2pm and gave an introduction to Brook Meadow and the work of the conservation group.

Jennifer took a group photo - with myself in it for a change!

When Jennifer had finished I took the group onto the south meadow where we examined the unusual Hairy Buttercups and Celery-leaved Buttercups, which were new for some members.

We made our way to the Lumley area where I pointed out Divided Sedge which was primarily responsible for the meadow getting its SINC status. We also looked at some of the other sedges and grasses along with the Ragged Robin and the Bee Orchids which attracted great attention.

The group were also very impressed with the main orchid area with its rich variety of wild flowers, including Southern Marsh and the Common Spotted Orchids.

I was thanked by the group for leading the walk on such a lovely afternoon. A donation was made to the conservation group.

Caper Spurge
I had several replies to my query about the mystery plant on the east side of Peter Pond in yesterday's blog. My thanks to Ralph Hollins, Jill Stanley, Ros Norton and many others. They all agreed that it was Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris).

The fruits resemble capers but are poisonous. It is also known as Mole Plant as it is said to deter Moles from entering a garden in which it is planted. The sap can be irritating, particularly if it gets in the eyes. So, it is best left alone! One respondent said in the old days beggars used to rub it on their faces so that the resulting blisters would incite more pity from passers-by. It is widespread as a garden escape, especially young plants, which is what I saw on Peter Pond.

Guard Squirrel
Chris Oakley set up an old Robin nest box as a peanut feeding station in his garden for the local squirrels. He says, "Just lately the young Great Tits have discovered this and are more than pleased to have found this new source of feed. One of the squirrels has taken to sitting in the box, which is half full of nuts as if protecting it from marauding birds. How he manages to squeeze in I haven't seen. He usually does it early morning and late evening when the birds are about. He doesn't appear to eat while on guard but is constantly on the twitch, looking up and down as if prepared to see off the small birds."

Titchfield Haven
Tony Wootton got this great action photo of a Black-headed Gull chick being snatched by a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Tony thinks the chick may have survived the attack as the other adult gulls forced it to be dropped, but he didn't see the outcome of its landing.


It was a warm and sultry morning for my regular walk around the meadow.

First I checked the orchids. The group of 5 Common Spotted Orchids to the north of the main orchid area are looking very healthy as is other one nearby. The other Common Spotted Orchid on the main area is very small. The total is still at 7.

I did not count the Southern Marsh Orchids, but there were 21 at the last count. I looked in vain for any more Bee Orchids. I bet there are some there, but they will be so difficult to find in the long grasses. Currently we have 6 marked on the Lumley area.

I am a bit puzzled by some the plants growing in the mud on the edge of the Lumley Stream which Jill Stanley tentatively identified as Blue Water-speedwell on May 30. At the time I thought they were more likely to be Brooklime, but now I am not sure. The flower spikes are relatively short and the flowers pinkish. This suggests Pink Water Speedwell which I have not seen on Brook Meadow since 2007.

Also, there is a good patch of definite Brooklime on the new buttercup path on the east side of the south meadow, which is quite different from the Lumley Stream plants. In addition, while mooching around on the west bank of the river in Palmer's Road Copse I came across some plants which looked far more like Blue Water-speedwell with fairly long spikes and blue flowers. I shall need to look again at these plants.

Water Voles
I watched for a possible Water Vole from the bank of the Lumley Stream for about 10 minutes, but saw nothing. However, I did notice what looked like fresh burrow holes on the east bank of the main river in Palmer's Road Copse. I could almost see the claw marks made by the voles. They can be seen from the open area on the west bank near to the Deep Water sign. Again, I watched for a few minutes, but nothing moved, but I shall return. This looks promising.


On the bird front all three of our summer visitors are still singing on the meadow, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat. There must be at least two of each and probably more.  
Peter Pond
I came across a couple of mystery plants on the east side of Peter Pond almost opposite the house called 'Brook' on Lumley Road. I thought at first they were Prickly Lettuce, but on closer inspection that clearly was not the case as there were no prickles. The plants had tall straight stems with long and pointed lanceolate leaves and what appeared to be a complex flowering head sprouting at the top. The left hand photo shows the whole plant while the one of the right shows the sprouting at the top.

Also in the east side of Peter Pond, there is a very nice flowering of what I think is Red Fescue right beside the concrete outflow from the small brook that runs beneath the road into the pond.

The grasses had the distinctive sharp angled single leaf sticking out from the stem which I always look for in Red Fescue.


Slipper Millpond
Coots are nesting again on both the north and the south rafts for a second time. I have seen nothing of the first brood of Coot chicks which were probably taken by the Great Black-backed Gulls.

The three Great Black-backed Gull chicks were on the centre raft with one of their parents, the other parent being on the water nearby. The chicks were taking a drink while I was present, were growing and looked healthy.

For the history of the nesting Great Black-backed Gulls see . . . . Great Black-backed Gulls nesting


Southmoor, Langstone
Following Tom Bickerton's failure to see the Southern Marsh Orchids at Southmoor over the weekend, I decided to go myself just to make sure the orchids were still there! There are usually several thousand of them and last year's official count came to 7,786 on June 29. Parking at the end of Southmoor Lane I was greeted by the song of a Cetti's Warbler from the hedgerow. There was also a clump of Pink Sorrel close to the parking bay, pretty but an escape.
I made my way through the entrance gate onto the Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve and along the narrow path to the main moor. If you wish to see the orchids it is necessary to clamber over the stile next to the gate which is pretty easy even for someone of my age! This takes you onto the main orchid area, but please take special care where you tread so as not to damage the plants.

There are in fact plenty of Southern Marsh Orchids in flower on the moor, though it is still a bit early for them as many are still small and hardly open. Here is one of the more mature ones that I got on camera.

Fortunately, the moor was pretty dry and my normal shoes were fine, though the vegetation is tall and walking is not easy. It is best to follow one of the casual paths. I will not list all the plants I saw, but there is a lot to there see.
The moor is very good for sedges, including lots of Divided Sedge, False Fox Sedge, Common Spike-rush and what I am fairly sure is Black Sedge which I usually find on Southmoor. The feature I always look for in Black Sedge is the very long lower bract and this is shown well in this photo. Another nice plant on Southmoor is Compact Rush with its tight cluster of spikelets.

Another plant I look forward to seeing on Southmoor is Marsh Horsetail with its very distinctive cone at the top of the stem. This is quite different in appearance to Field Horsetail which we have on Brook Meadow and Great Horsetail which is the plague of my son's allotment on the Isle of Wight.
I was also pleased to see Marsh Thistle in flower, a really handsome plant and very attractive to insects, though I did not see many today. In fact, I saw no butterflies at all. Where are they all?

I was interested to see a few plants of what might be Large Bittercress with particularly large white flowers. Unfortunately, my simple camera did not cope well with these flowers, so no photo. Grid Ref: SU 71242 05150. However, in an other location, close to the large poles holding the electric cables, I did find what I am sure was a mass of Wavy Bitter-cress with clusters of small white flowers. I checked the flowers at home and they had the required 6 stamens.

House Martin survey
Caroline French sent an up date from her House Martin survey in Westbourne.
"Yesterday, I heard sounds of the first young of the year coming from one of the nests I am monitoring. The chirps sounded weak so I think they must still be very young. I will try to get over again in a few days time to see whether any of the other nests have young by then. Of the 13 nests I am monitoring, 1 now has young, 9 have adults apparently incubating eggs, 1 is an old half-built nest which no House Martins have shown any interest in this year, 1 is a quarter-built nest - again no interest shown by birds. The final nest is a bit of a mystery: it is a new nest this year, alongside 3 other old nests on the same building, and is so far a small mud-cup, about a quarter-build. However, the House Martins seem to disappear into a recess under the eves, above and behind the mud cup, more the way you would expect House Sparrows or Starlings to do. I'll be watching this with interest! One of the locals told me that there was a great number of House Martins feeding over the river in River Street, Westbourne a few days ago. He said it was a wonderful sight - people were taking photos"
PS If you have any photos of House Martins please let us have them.

Langstone Mill Pond
Yesterday, Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond (1:53pm to 3pm) walking in from Wade Lane. The highlights were as follows: Blackcap still singing, 6 Swallow, pair of Pheasant, 2 Stock Doves.
Langstone Mill Pond: Shelduck on pond - first I have seen this species on the pond (reported on your web site earlier). The bird was very wary and kept to the rear of the pond and was whistling frequently.

A few days ago there were 5 Shelduck off shore - two clearly paired up. 3 pairs of Tufted Duck and a pair of Gadwall (I was hoping that these would have bred!). Chiffchaff still singing, 3 Reed Warblers singing, Mallard with 5 ducklings and another bird with 4 ducklings. Moorhen with five juveniles (see most boring bird photo in the world).

2 Mute Swan on the pond. Not the resident pair. I wonder if they are young from last year. They were off Conigar Point a couple of days ago. 65 Little Egrets counted - a couple of nests held small chicks. Off shore - High tide: 2 Sandwich Tern, 3 Common tern, 1 Med Gull.

Other news
We have had four Swifts flying over Bridge Road at various times today. They are flying lower down and screaming quietly. So, this looks more promising.

Brian Lawrence had a couple of Painted Ladies in his front garden and a Holly Blue in the back garden.

Brian also had this very attractive Mullein Moth caterpillar.

My neighbours from across Bridge Road, John and Anne Williams sent me some photos taken with their night camera showing two Hedgehogs were visiting their garden last night.

Eric Eddles got this shot of a very obliging Reed Warbler at Baffins Pond. He has seen them at the pond before in 2013 and 2014. Nice one, Eric!

MONDAY JUNE 6 - 2016

Brook Meadow orchids
I went over to the meadow this morning with my wife Jean and our grandson Joe, whose school has an inset day, to have a look for the new orchids that Maurice Lillie found yesterday. We found the four Southern Marsh Orchids in long grass closer to the Osiers than others. That brings the total so far to 21 including the three spikes on the Lumley area, thus topping last year's record by one. More to come maybe?

This chart shows the counts of Southern Marsh Orchids on Brook Meadow since 2007.

The first two Southern Marsh Orchids were planted on Brook Meadow on June 17, 2007. They were donated by orchid expert Nigel Johnson who had grown them in pots from originals collected from the colony on South Moor at Langstone. Nigel said the plants would seed themselves and would multiply over time and he was right!

We looked at the cluster of 5 Common Spotted Orchids to the north of the main orchid area and found another one nearby. Then we found another one in the south west corner of the main orchid area at Grid Ref: SU 75065 06111. This takes the total to 7 which is the same as last year's record total.

This chart shows the counts of Common Spotted Orchids on Brook Meadow since 2007.

We went over to the Lumley area where we easily found the 4 Bee Orchids that were discovereed yesterday on the Lumley area by Maurice thanks to his marking of them with tall sticks - at Grid Ref: SU 75131 06038. We found another 2 Bee Orchids close by which we marked with twigs. We now have 6 Bee Orchids on the Lumley area, no doubt with more to come. Last year's record total was 29. Here is one of Maurice's excellent images of the Bee Orchids taken yesterday.

This chart shows the counts of Bee Orchids on Brook Meadow since 2007.



Tom's news
Over the weekend, Tom Bickerton went to see the Southern Marsh Orchids at Southmoor, but strangely did not find them. He must have been looking in the wrong place as there are usually thousands of them there. Tom then went over to Northney and counted 17 Bee Orchids near the new Owl box. Here is one of them. They are popping up everywhere just now.

Tom also went to Iping Common, where he got this excellent image of a Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly - named after the spots in the middle of each wing. I have never seen one of these; they look a bit like the more common Broad-bodied Chaser, but with a much thinner body.


Hedgehog and Fox in garden
Graham Petrie has some Hedgehog and Fox footage from his Havant garden. Here are links to videos on Facebook.


Other local news
David Minns saw two pairs of Swifts above the North St area in Emsworth yesterday evening 5th June. David says they were definitely pairs, but flying high and not looking as though they were nesting. The Hampshire Swifts site doesn't seem to want records like this, only nest records.

More evidence of a mini invasion of Painted Lady butterflies came from Tony Wootton who also saw his first at Wisley yesterday and says another was in a neighbour's garden in Highland Road, Emsworth.  

SUNDAY JUNE 5 - 2016

Conservation work
It was a warm sunny morning for the regular first Sunday in the month conservation work session on Brook Meadow attended by 13 volunteers. I was there to give advice and take photos, not to work! Jennifer Rye discussed the main tasks which included some mowing of certain areas with the new power scythe and raking up arisings. I suggested giving the new experimental wild flower areas in the north meadow a cut to give the seeds sown last autumn a chance to show themselves. At present they have no chance against the resident grasses. Here is a shot of Maurice mowing one of these areas with the new scythe.

The old Bramble path on the east side of the south meadow was also mown to open it up to visitors, carefully avoiding the new buttercup path that has appeared in the flood defence area immediately adjacent to the Gooseberry Cottage garden bund. Here is a view of the path showing the abundance of Celery-leaved and Hairy Buttercups.

For the full workday report with more photos go to . . .

Painted Ladies
During the work session I was pleased to meet two visitors to the meadow from Havant - John and Lindy. As we were chatting we watched a Painted Lady butterfly flying past. It did not stop, but it was unmistakable with its light brown colouring and strong flight. Robin Pottinger had told me previously that he had seen one in his Southbourne garden. Then, this afternoon, I had one flying around my back garden, feeding on the Red Valerian flowers. It must have been here for over an hour so I managed to get some nice photos of it.

Painted Ladies are migrant butterflies that cannot over winter in the UK. Today's insects will be late arrivals from the normal spring migration from the Continent. I wonder if we shall have another mass invasion like in 2009?

Bee Orchids
I looked for Bee Orchids this morning but did not find any. However, Maurice Lillie returned to the meadow this afternoon and found four Bee Orchids on Lumley flower area. He has marked them with three sticks in a row and one to the west. All are near the Poplar tree that is nearer the Lumley Stream. Here is one of Maurice's many photos of these lovely flowers.

Maurice also found 2 pairs of two Southern Marsh Orchids in the north meadow flower area which I am sure have not been recorded before. They are in long grass closer to the Osiers than others. Maurice has put sticks to mark them.

Two Swifts were flying over the houses in Bridge Road at about 8am this morning, but I did not see them again. Swifts are very scarce this year. Has anyone seen any?

Eel catch
Ralph Hollins responded to my query about how a Great Black-backed Gull could have possibly caught the large Eel that it brought back to feed its chicks on Slipper Millpond on June 3.

Ralph says, "I would guess that it stole it from a Cormorant. The bird (Heron or Cormorant) which catches an eel or other slippery fish often has a struggle to get it from the position (at right angles to its bill) in which it was caught to the inline position in which it can swallow it and the eel often escapes during the process only to be caught again but not necessarily by the original captor. I recall seeing an eel being caught in the IBM Lake by a Cormorant, then stolen by a Heron, then recaptured by a third bird."

Millpond News
Chris Oakley went on his usual walk around the harbour this morning and found that the Mallard on the town millpond still had 8 ducklings; she had 11 when Chris saw them on May 22. He says, today one of the swans appeared to be trying to separate one duckling from the others, so the prospects for that one would not seem to be good. However, they have done remarkably well to have survived this long.

Starling mayhem
Frank Naylor hung a fat coconut from the washing line to stop the squirrels stealing it. Then about 30 Starlings turned up mainly fledglings and it was total mayhem. Here is one of Frank's pics of the battle!


Brook Meadow
I spent a very interesting couple of hours on the meadow this afternoon in what must have been the hottest day of the year. Summer at last! Fluffy seeds from the many Crack Willow trees were floating everywhere, rather like gentle snowflakes and settling in tiny drifts in crevices. That was nice to see, but I was a little saddened to find the splendid avenue of Cow Parsley which was in the peak of its flowering along the main river path from the north bridge had been mown flat by the council workers. We (the conservation group) need to ensure that this fine spectacle remains uncut in future years until after the main flowering.

I had a quick look at the experimental wild flower area on the north meadow, but alas, the locally sourced seeds sown by the conservation group last autumn have, as I expected, been totally submerged under an explosion of resident grasses, such as, Tall Fescue, Yorkshire Fog, Cocksfoot and Rough Meadow-grass - which in fact are looking very good! I was pleased to find some Silverweed with yellow flowers open. Although the silvery leaves of this plant are very common on the meadow, I rarely see its flowers.

Other plants starting to flower included Hedge Woundwort, Creeping Thistle and Wall Barley.

The Southern Marsh Orchids were looking very good indeed on the main orchid area. I counted 12 of them - an increase of 2 over the last count. Together with the 3 spikes on the Lumley area this makes a total of 15. We are getting closer to the record 20 spikes of 2015.

I also found the first Common Spotted Orchids of the year in a small group of 5 in the much the same place as they were last year about 10 metres to the north of the twig boundary around the main orchid area at Grid Ref: SU 75067 06158. I marked them with sticks as usual. Last year we also had two more Common Spotted Orchids on the main orchid area, but I could not find them today.

I looked for Bee Orchids both of the main orchid area and on the Lumley area, but saw nothing. They will not be easy to find as the grasses grow. Last year we found 25 flowering Bee Orchid plants. Hope we get some at least this year.

I saw several ginger Bumblebees feeding on the Yellow Rattle flowers, but no sign of any butterflies. Where are they? In contrast, there were lots of little white moths fluttering around the orchid area. We get them every year at this time; they are called Grass Rivulets and their larvae feed on Yellow Rattle.

Water Vole
Keeping the best to last, while perusing the plants on the side of the Lumley Stream, I spotted what looked like a really fresh Water Vole burrow hole on the east bank. Almost immediately, a Water Vole appeared, swimming downstream and stopped on the bank outside the hole. I was in luck. This was my first Water Vole of the year. It may have been the same animal that Carole Checksfield & Paul Seagrave and Chris Akass had seen from the Lumley Path footbridge at the north end of Peter Pond, although this one was some way north up the Lumley Stream from the Lumley pool. Fortunately, it remained on the bank while I gingerly got my camera out and took a few snaps.

After a couple of minutes, it swam a little way downstream and disappeared into another hole on the same side of the stream not to be seen again. Wow! I thought I would never see a Water Vole again on Brook Meadow, but they are definitely still here! Let's hope there is more than one and they manage to breed. If so, then the youngsters may well disperse across the meadow to the main River Ems on the west side where we have lost our original population.

For all the news, history and photos of Water Voles on Brook Meadow see . . . Water Voles

Waysides News
I noticed a tuft of Buckshorn Plantain growing beside a drain on the roadside at the bottom of South Street in Emsworth.
Another first was Nipplewort in flower under the Beech hedge on Bridge Road.
On my way to Brook Meadow this afternoon I came across a remarkably good crop of Water Bent growing on the pavement on Victoria Road outside house numbers 34 and 36. This was the best I have seen anywhere. Why is it called Water Bent as it grows nowhere near water.

Fort Purbrook
Jill Stanley went to Fort Purbrook this afternoon and saw probably hundreds of Common Spotted Orchids. The Pyramidal Orchids are also appearing and some of them have opened, so it's going to be a good show there again! Jill also saw plenty of Bird's Foot Trefoil, Crosswort, and Germander Speedwell, some Yellow Rattle, lots of Salad Burnet, and a Viper's Bugloss.

FRIDAY JUNE 3 - 2016

Slipper Millpond
I had a quick look at the Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond at about 1pm. All was quiet when I arrived with the three chicks snuggled down in the vegetation. As I watched, one of the adults arrived with a large Eel. How on earth did it catch that? It proceeded to regurgitate the Eel though it was clearly far too large for the chicks to swallow. So the adult consumed it him/herself and slipped into the water to help it down. Here is the story in pictures.

Meanwhile the three chicks went to the edge of the raft for a drink - be careful little fellers otherwise you could meet the same fate as your siblings last year.

For the full records with photos of the Great Black-backed Gulls nesting go to . . . Great Black-backed Gulls nesting

Chichester Peregrines
I went along to have a look at the RSPB Peregrine watching station in the Chichester Cathedral cafe garden this morning. The live camera showed one of the four chicks making one hell of a din, calling for food. I was told that this is normal behaviour from healthy growing chicks. They should be fledged in a week or so. Here is a shot of the youngster in the monitor.

The volunteers had a telescope aimed at the male perched on one of the turrets above the nest so I got a digiscoped photo using my phone. Not bad again.

Garden fledglings
Barrie Jay's garden in Waterlooville is teeming with fledglings at the moment. He has baby House Sparrows, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Great Tits and Blue Tits. Great Spotted Woodpeckers are yet to show.

Damselflies galore
Graham Petrie has lots of damselfly action around his garden pond. He thinks he has identified Common Blue, Azure, Large Red and Blue-tailed. Can you sort them out?


Waysides News
This afternoon I did a tour of a few of the local waysides on my bike.

Canary Grass
On my way up Victoria Road I came across a tuft of Canary Grass growing on the edge of the pavement next to house number 3 which is currently empty. I last saw this unusual grass in Emsworth several years ago in Bath Road. It is distinctive in having oval panicles, a bit like Hare's-tail Grass but much stiffer to the touch. Rose describes it as a casual weed of waste ground and rubbish dumps, often introduced through bird seed mixtures, hence the name. It is native to the Mediterranean region.

Railway Wayside
The first wayside I visited was the Railway Wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station. Walking up the ramp I found the first Hedge Woundwort flowers just starting to open, but there was no sign as yet of Marsh Woundwort which is a speciality of this site.

I struggled through the metal railings to get onto the main site - we could really do with a small gate. Plants in flower included Bird's-foot Trefoil, Black Medick, Cut-leaved Crane's-bill, Hairy Buttercup, Scented Mayweed (very sweet smelling), Common Nettle, Curled Dock. Of the grasses I noted Tall Fescue, Red Fescue, False Fox Sedge, Hard Rush and my first Toad Rush of the year - the photo on the right.

Probably the best flowers of the site was a fine crop of Bladder Campion.

A close-up shot of this lovely plant

Of the insects I saw my first 'thigh beetle' (Oedemera nobilis) of the year on a buttercup flower and also my first Cinnabar moth which paused for a photo.

Other waysides
Moving on to the New Brighton Road Junction I found much of the wayside had been recently mown by the council, leaving just a patch of tall grasses in the centre. Little of interest there.

The Christopher Way wayside had received a similar treatment, though less extensive. However, the mowing had removed all traces of any Wild Clary on the wayside. The verge west of the wayside where Wild Clary also grows had also been closely mown, but all is not lost as they often come later.

I came back through Emsworth Recreation Ground where the area behind the bowling club is looking very good with a rich mixture of buttercups and grasses. I noted that Yorkshire Fog was well in flower and I collected a few culms for my desk display. Lesser Stitchwort was scattered around.

Langstone sightings
Christopher Evans reports on today's outing with the Havant U3A Birdwatching group.
"We saw a total of 33 species, starting by walking down Wade Lane to Langstone, then over to the old Oyster Beds on Hayling, before returning to the Langbrook stream. Our best sightings were a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the first field on the right in Wade Lane and a Reed Bunting, appropriately enough in the reeds by Langstone Mill pond. Also on the pond was a lone Shelduck and the regular very pale female Mallard with 10 ducklings. The Langstone swan family were on the Langbrook stream by West Mill but have now lost one cygnet.
After the rest of the group had headed homeward, I continued on round Southmoor and over to Broadmarsh. I had a good view of a Skylark sitting and singing on a fence and then, back in Havant spotted a Water Vole swimming north up the Langbrook Stream alongside Langstone Technology park. "


Slipper Millpond
I cycled down to Slipper Millpond mainly to check on the Great Black-backed Gulls. I could definitely see three chicks; previously I had only seen two and thought they had lost one, but no, there were definitely three. While I was there the male parent came in with food for the chicks.

I was pleased to watch the feeding process which involved the adult regurgitating whatever it was he had caught for the chicks to consume. The female meanwhile, sat patiently on the other end of the raft, taking no part in the feeding.

At the end, the male slipped off the raft into the water for a wash.

The Swan family with 4 cygnets was in Dolphin Lake. No sign of any Coot chicks which is not good news for them.

Brook Meadow
I came back through Brook Meadow. I waited patiently for 10 mins on the Lumley Path footbridge looking at the pool with camera at the ready, but saw nothing of the Water Vole that has been seen here several times in the past 2 weeks.

I did a recount of the Ragged Robin on the Lumley area but found slightly less than my earlier count on May 28 when I had 154, so I shall leave that as the total for 2016. As can be seen from the following chart this is the best count since 2012. I have no idea why numbers of this delightful plant vary so much from one year to the next. There is no obvious change in the habitat or the management of the area. Maybe, it is weather related, who knows?


For details of the Ragged Robin counts go to . . .

I found my first Hedge Bindweed flower (with no overlapping sepals) on the north side of the Lumley area.

I checked the Brooklime plants which were found by Jill Stanley at the end of the casual path to the Lumley Stream Grid Ref: SU 75153 06041. Nearby, I also found a tiny little plant in among the reeds with tiny white flowers which I am fairly sure was Hairy Bittercress. I had a look for Blue Water-speedwell that I usually find here, but there was no sign of it.

While counting the Ragged Robin on the Lumley area I came across three Southern Marsh Orchids - one pair growing together at Grid Ref: SU 75132 06030 (see photo below) - and one on its own at Grid Ref: SU 75130 06027.
I also checked the Southern Marsh Orchids on the main orchid area on the north meadow and found the number had increased to 9 plants in flower, with a cluster of 5 in one spot. This takes the overall total for the meadow so far to 12.


For earlier observations go to . . May 17-31