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

for June 15-30, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

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


Railway Wayside
I had a look around the wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station this morning. From the access ramp the embankment is a riot of colour with yellow of Perforate St John's-wort and Common Ragwort, white of Hedge Bedstraw, Yarrow and Bindweed, pink of the Willowherbs and Woundworts, red of the docks and the occasional Water Figwort and purples of Creeping Thistle.

Some of the Creeping Thistle had white flowers which I do not recall having seen before.

From the ramp one can see Hedge Woundwort and Marsh Woundwort flowering side by side. I noticed Wild Carrot in full flower and Hemp Agrimony almost in flower.

I had my first Marbled White butterfly.

I cycled over to Westbourne this afternoon for a surgery appointment. On the way I stopped at the Westbourne Open Space to check on the Smaller Cat's-tail which is still present, though a little overwhelmed by taller grasses.
The silvery grey Cotton Thistles which Chris Oakley first discovered behind the new Wellness Clinic in early June on the way into Westbourne are now dramatically huge - well over 10 feet tall with one plant already in flower.

On the way back to Emsworth via Lumley, I had a look for Water Voles in the stream at Westbourne, but did not see anything. But did spot a couple of nice damselflies. A male Beautiful Demoiselle and a Blue-tailed Damselfly.

The lane back to Emsworth was incredibly muddy with huge puddles, so I was pleased to have my bike to cycle through the worst of them. Enchanter's Nightshade was out along the path from Lumley Mill to the Seagull Lane - the first I have seen this year. I gather the plant gets its common name from belief in its magical qualities that go back to Anglo-Saxon times.

Other news
Peter Milinets-Raby went out for a short walk to the slopes of Portsdown Hill while waiting for one of his driving test pupils and got this excellent close-up of a Common Spotted Orchid.

June Hay took this photo of a female Roe Deer and two fawns in Fishbourne Meadows on 27th June. Ray says they have one of each sex.

TUESDAY JUNE 28 - 2016

Petersfield Lake
Jean and I had a walk round Heath Lake at Petersfield this morning. We stopped to admire the Egyptian Geese which have been here for many years and are a popular feature of this lake. Here is a photo of three of these odd looking geese on the water.

We counted 9 Egyptian Geese altogether plus a family of one adult and 7 goslings - shown here.

Egyptian Geese were introduced from Africa in the 18th Century for ornamental lakes, but they are now well established in Eastern England and The Netherlands.

I was interested to see Amphibious Bistort flowering on the southern edges of the lake. As the name amphibious implies, this plant can grow either in water or on land. The water form has leaves that float on the surface and flower spikes on short stalks, as shown in this photo on Petersfield Lake.

The land form of Amphibious Bistort can be quite distant from water. It grows abundantly on Brook Meadow though rarely flowers. It also can be found on the Westbourne Open Space at the top of Westbourne Avenue.

A dozen or more Common Blue Damselflies were dancing around the Amphibious Bistort flowers. Here is one I managed to get a shot of when it perched on the wooden walkway.

MONDAY JUNE 27 - 2016

Brook Meadow
I put my wellies on for this morning's wander around the meadow. The weather was warm and fine, but it was predictably very wet and soggy underfoot.
I had a quick look at the two circular areas on the north meadow which had been planted with locally sourced wild flower seeds last autumn and mown regularly since then. There is no sign of any of the seeds coming through, though the southern one, which looks like a green oasis in an area dominated by coarse Tall Fescue grasses, has a fine crop of Creeping Bent. Note: the Bent grasses have closed panicles at present, though may open up later.

Meanwhile, on the main orchid area, the orchids are going over and becoming submerged by the burgeoning vegetation. However, the bright red flowers of Great Burnet stand above it all on the top of long stems. I counted 62 Great Burnet plants which is about the same as last year's count. So, the big increase from when they were first recorded here in 2013 has clearly slowed down.

Moving down to the south meadow I looked in vain for any sign of Marsh Woundwort in the vast growth of vegetation in the area where they usually come up. The new growth of Hairy Buttercups and Celery-leaved Buttercups are now going to seed which should provide a continuing crop for next year. The new flood defence bund around the Gooseberry Cottage garden has had the effect of creating a wet habitat which could in time yield some interesting addition to the meadow wildlife.

In the far southern end of the new wet area I found a good growth of Black Bent-grass (Agrostis gigantea). This is relatively easy to identify from its very large size (to 150cm) and spreading inflorescence. It also has flat furrowed slightly rough leaves and long toothed ligules. I have found Black Bent-grass here in previous years, but nowhere else on the meadow. That takes the total number of grasses recorded on Brook Meadow so far this year to 26.

I spent a very pleasant 15 minutes on the west bank of the Lumley Stream opposite the holes where I last saw a Water Vole on June 4, but saw nothing. The holes are still present on the far bank and look as if they have been recently used. During this time I was entertained by a couple of male Beautiful Demoiselles which endlessly chased one another over the stream. Here is my best attempt of catching the insects in flight with my simple point and shoot camera. See the bright blue blurs.

Here are better shots I got of male and female Beautiful Demoiselles perched. It is interesting how the Beautiful Demoiselle has taken over from Banded Demoiselle as the dominant species on Brook Meadow over the past few years.

I saw my first Large Skippers of the year on the north meadow and got a shot of one as it perched briefly. Large Skippers are always the first of the Skippers to emerge at this time of the year, followed in a week or so by Small Skipper and possibly Essex Skipper. I found several brown butterflies fluttering around the flowers on the main orchid area, they included some dark brown Ringlets, and also some lighter coloured Meadow Browns.

Kite and Crow
Chris Oakley saw an interesting encounter this morning between a Red Kite and a Carrion Crow at the top end of Redlands Lane in North Emsworth. Chris says, "The Kite was being harassed from above by the Crow, when quite suddenly the Kite did a flip turning itself almost upside down with its legs extended and claws uppermost. Whether it actually made contact, I'm not sure but the Crow flew off in a hurry leaving the Kite to continue its circling."

SUNDAY JUNE 26 - 2016

Tony finds a rare fungus!
When Ralph Hollins saw Tony Wootton's photos of the large white fungi growing on rotting tree stump south of the main A259 in Emsworth, he was pretty sure they were the uncommon Volvariella bombycina which he had only found once before, long ago, in Stansted Forest. Ralph promptly put on a rain jacket and cap and cycled over to Emsworth to see the fungi for himself.

Here are Tony's photos again - originally on this blog for June 25th

Ralph says, "The first thing I looked for was the 'volva' - the egg-shell like filament in which the fungus develops until the upward pressure of the growing cap and stem (mycologists call the stem a 'stipe') burst it open to leave a fungus looking like the photo at I could not find any of the specimens looking exactly as in this photo but the hint of a 'nipple' at the apex of the cap, the silky look of the topside of the cap and the off white, turning pink, colour of the gills, plus the long thin curved stems of the fresher specimens (plus the absence from my books of any similar species) all convinced me that I had got the right name.
For written facts and a series of photos showing the development of this fungus see

Ralph concluded "Do thank Tony for bringing this exciting find to public attention. The Hampshire Fungus Recording Group has only 32 records of this species, nearly all in the New Forest and none east of Southampton."

Other news
Tony Wootton took advantage of yesterday's cancellation of the Havant Wildlife Group walk to Iping Common to visit Hayling Oysterbeds. Although he got a good soaking he managed to capture a cracking action shot of a juvenile Black-headed Gull being scolded by its parent.

Butterflies galore
Butterflies have been fairly scarce over the past few weeks, but Brian Lawrence found plenty during a walk around Havant Thicket yesterday. He says there were hundreds of Meadow Browns along with Large Skipper, Marbled White and the first White Admiral I have heard about locally.


Mystery fungi
Tony Wootton sent a couple of photos of the enormous fungi about 1ft in diameter and very white growing on rotting tree stump in the garden of house number 82 on the south of the main A259 towards Chichester between Gordon Road and Thorney Lane. Has anyone any idea what they might be? Tony included his car keys in the first photo to give an idea of scale.

FRIDAY JUNE 24 - 2016

Waysides News
I have been in a state of shock today from the referendum result that Britain will leave the European Union. This is so sad for the country and, particularly for wildlife and conservation. I forced myself to go out on the bike to resume my tour of the local waysides that was cut short yesterday by the rain, but things did not seem quite normal.
I cycled up to Christopher Way to have a look at the rare Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca). About 20 of spikes were just breaking into flower on the council mown verge where the footpath emerges from Bellevue Lane.

Here is a view of the tiny verge where the Wild Clary grows.

One of the Wild Clary flower spikes

In contrast, there was no sign of any Wild Clary plants on the 'official' unmown wayside verge nearer to the main New Brighton Road. Just think, there were over 40 flowering Wild Clary plants on the official wayside in 2010, but by 2013 they had gone. The fact that they survived on the Council mown verge clearly means they thrive on being regularly cut down.

Next, I went to the Railway Wayside where I found the first Marsh Woundwort just starting to flower.

These plants have also shown a dramatic decline in numbers since we first took over the site in 2012. There used to be over 200 Marsh Woundwort plants, but today there were hardly a dozen to be seen. Other flowering plants on this wayside included Selfheal, Bladder Campion, Water Figwort, Oxeye Daisy, Large Bindweed, Great Willowherb, Creeping Thistle, Common Ragwort, Hedge Bedstraw, Wild Carrot, Crested Dog's-tail and Spiked Sedge.
And there were some butterflies - the most I have seen for months! These included Meadow Brown, Comma, Large Skipper and Ringlet - what a beauty, but only showing its upper wings. I also spotted a large moth which I think might be a Silver Y.

Slipper Millpond
I could see two well grown Great Black-backed Gull youngsters along with one of the parents on the raft at about 12 noon. I saw one of the youngsters flexing its wings; fledging is not far away. There was no sign of the third youngster, though it could easily have been hiding in the dense vegetation.

My first Perennial Sow-thistle of the year was out on the Hermitage Bridge overlooking Slipper Millpond.

Each year at the end of June Chris Oakley gets a crop of these boletus fungi growing opposite his house in North Emsworth. This afternoon he counted 96 of them. He thinks they might be Boletus versicolor.

Tony Wootton says there are some enormous fungi about 1ft in diameter and very white growing on rotting tree stump in the garden of house number 82 on the south of the main A259 towards Chichester between Gordon Road and Thorney Lane. I have not seen them, but maybe worth checking out.

Stansted orchids
Chris Oakley and Jill Stanley have confirmed that the mass of orchids growing along the Stansted drive are Common Spotted Orchids.

Juvenile Woodpeckers
Barrie Jay provides an update on the two baby Great Spotted Woodpeckers in his garden. He says both are doing well and feeding individually. Barrie's excellent photo of one of the youngsters on peanuts shows the red crown and pinkish vent which are characteristic features of young Woodpeckers. Barrie is not sure of the sex of either at this stage; he will have to wait until the red crowns disappear!


Waysides News
I went over to the Emsworth Recreation Ground this afternoon to check out some of the wayside plants, but my visit was cut short by the onset of heavy rain.
On the way I noted the abundance of Water Bent (Polypogon viridis) growing between the front garden walls and the pavement along Victoria Road, far more than I recall having seen in previous years. It is everywhere this year. Is it spreading?

I stopped to admire the Greater Burdock (Articium lappa) by the pony field at the end of the Washington Road path. It is doing very well this year with up to 50 plants, which is more than in previous years. Here is a view of the plants along the edge of the path to the Emsworth Recreation Ground, with my bike for scale. They are huge and growing!

The flowers are not quite open, but the flat-topped clusters with long stalks, are very characteristic of Greater Burdock - see the photo below. The more common Lesser Burdock has its flowers in more of a spike with shorter flower stalks.

Moving onto the grassland behind the bowling club on west side of the recreation ground, it was good to see Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera) in full flower, though struggling somewhat to assert its presence among the more dominant Yorkshire Fog. The Bents are among my favourite grasses with their most delicate tree-like panicles of single flowered purple tinged spikelets.

On the left is a Creeping Bent panicle held up to show its structure.
On the right is what the spikelets look like through a microscope at x20 magnification.

The Bent grasses are always slightly later emerging than most other common grasses. I have had doubts over the identification of this grass on the Recreation Ground in previous years and have consulted Martin Rand about it However, the presence of a long ligule and the absence of awns strongly suggests it is Creeping Bent.

Other grasses present in this protected area of the Recreation Ground which is left unmown until the end of the growing season include Sweet Vernal Grass and Timothy, plus possibly Smaller Cat's-tail. I also found the usual Meadow Barley close to the White Poplars in the north west corner of the ground - see photo. I have yet to find Meadow Barley on Brook Meadow this year.

I had intended to go onto Christopher Way, but the heavens opened and I headed for home. Another day.

Other news
Graham Petrie commented on the fine array of orchids along the left side of the access road as you come away from the Stansted Garden Centre. I think these are Common Spotted Orchids, though I have not checked. Does anyone know?

Roy Hay sent a cracking photo of a Buzzard sitting on a post at Fishbourne Meadows - taken by June Hay.


Eyed Hawk-moth
Susan Kelly had a close encounter with an Eyed Hawk-moth (Smerinthus ocellata) in her Emsworth garden today.
She says, "I was picking redcurrants from my (very overgrown) bushes, and when I withdrew my hand there it was, huge, displaying its eyes. The book says that it can startle birds and small mammals. Well, it certainly startled this large mammal into an eek! and a shaken hand. When I checked I found two of them on a twig in the depths of the bush, back to sub-fusc, so I had perhaps interrupted an intimate moment. They shouldn¹t be attracted to redcurrants, but there¹s a nearby plum-tree."
Susan did not get a photo, but here is an illustration from the internet showing well the dramatic pair of 'eyes' on the underwings.

The adults fly from May to July, inhabiting woodland and suburban localities. They come to light, but do not feed. Caterpillar food plants include Sallow (Salix), Apple (Malus), wild and ornamental Crab Apple, less common are Poplars and Aspen. Overwinters as a shiny black/brown pupa, below or near the larval foodplant. Well distributed throughout England and Wales as far north as Cumbria. Habitat: Gardens, orchards, woodland, suburban localities and places where willows grow e.g. parks, riversides, fens and scrub.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby reports on today's visit to Langstone Mill Pond.
"The weather this morning was like autumn - such a fine drizzle! Lots of Little Egret activity with at least 19+ juveniles counted (see photos). Also, Three adult Grey Herons still on nests!

Two sibling Little Egrets

Nest with babies

Also present were a pair of Tufted Duck and still two singing Reed Warbler along with Chiffchaff and Blackcap still singing. Two Swift were flying and circling slowly over the pond, washing themselves in the fine drizzle, with lots of tail fanning and wing stretches in flight! Marvellous!
Off shore the firsts hints of autumn were noted with 4 Curlew and 6 Black-tailed Godwit along with Great Crested Grebe, 2 Shelduck, 2 Sandwich Tern and flying over 6+ Med Gulls."

Baffins bugs
Eric Eddles had a couple of interesting shield bugs at Baffins Pond today. Dock Bug - Coreus Marginatus and a Nettle Ground Bug - Heterogaster Urticae.

TUESDAY JUNE 21 - 2016

Portsdown Hill
This afternoon, Jean and I had a walk along the south facing slope of Portsdown Hill below Fort Widley. What a stunning place this is, full of wild flowers and grasses and with superb views across the Solent. A great place for a stroll with the reward of an ice cream at the end! Here is a slightly fancy shot of False Oat-grass with Portsmouth in the background just 'cause I liked it.

Plants that caught my attaention on the hill today included Greater Knapweed, Knapweed Broomrape Agrimony, Wild Mignonette, Perforate St John's-wort, Yellow-wort, Eyebright, Gromwell, Wild Marjoram, Rough Hawkbit, plus a fine specimen of Musk Thistle.

Knapweed Broomrape

Yellow-wort and Musk Thistle.

Waysides News
I was pleased to find a flowering plant of Sulphur Cinquefoil on the Bridge Road Wayside this morning. I have been looking for it for some while, but it was largely hidden beneath a large overhanging branch of Goat Willow. I have recorded this plant in this exact spot every year since 2011. It has probably been here for longer than that.

MONDAY JUNE 20 - 2016

Brook Meadow
I had a stroll through Brook Meadow on a hot and rather sultry afternoon after the morning's rain. Ground was very wet and laden with puddles. The first thing I noticed after going through the Seagull Lane gate was a patch of Swinecress immediately in front of the interpretation board. I hoped it was the rarer form, C. squamatus, but on closer inspection I could see the flowers were in spikes and the pods rounded, indicating it was Lesser Swine-cress (Coronopus didymus).

Orchids are now starting to go over and become engulfed by other fast growing plants. However, one very fine Common Spotted Orchid showed up very well in the southern section of the orchid area. Hedge Woundwort is also flowering well.

Great Burnet is now flowering with a large number of bright red oval-shaped flower spikes showing prominently for the 4th year running. We are not sure how this unusual plant got onto the meadow, but it is clearly now well established and increasing. Martin Rand has accepted the record, saying "As a native in South Hampshire it is confined to the New Forest where it is one of several "hay meadow" constituents of base-rich flushed heathland in the south of the Forest."

Meadowsweet is now out on the river bank. I was pleased to find Plicate Sweet-grass at the start of the path round the Lumley area taking the total number of grasses recorded on Brook Meadow this year to 24.

Insects included a female Beautiful Demoiselle and a Meadow Brown. Beautiful Demoiselle seems to have taken over from Banded Demoiselle as the main damselfly on Brook Meadow.

Spotless Ladybird
Ralph Hollins has come up with a good match for the spotless Ladybird that young Thomas Irons photographed on Brook Meadow on June 15 and which subsequently failed to develop any spots when confined to Thomas's 'ladybird world' discovery container for two days.

Go to . . . and scroll down through the photos to the 11th photo which seems a very good match including the black-speckled white 'head'. Also in favour of this 10-Spot species (Adalia decempunctata) is the habitat (Gardens with trees) and the adult active time range (March to October).
A large photo can be seen at . .

Ralph thought that young Thomas should apply for the role of quiz master of next year's Springwatch if they are still looking for youngsters in this role. Now there's an idea!

Baffins Pond
On his Sunday morning walk around Baffins pond Eric Eddles found these two beauties - a Jumping spider (Salticidae) and an immature Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ishnura Elegans). It will change its colours between 24 and 48 hours.


House Martin survey
Caroline French carried out a further survey of the House Martin nests in Westbourne this afternoon. She says, "Not much new to report other than to say that ten of the 13 nests are active, most of those now with chicks. None so far appears to have failed, or fallen down or been predated. Those with chicks were getting plenty of feeding visits from the parents so there seems to be plenty of food around. Attached is a picture of the same nest I photographed earlier in the week, this time with *four* healthy-looking chicks showing.

I think I previously mentioned that there is one nest where the adults have half-built a mud-cup but appear to be using the recess above and behind the mud-cup for their nest instead. I am now more convinced that this is what is happening because today an adult appeared from this recess after I had been observing it the nest for ten minutes. The adult emerged from the recess as a second adult arrived - they swapped places. I feel sure that they must be incubating eggs in the recess. The 'half mud-cup' was not there on my initial survey visit back in April, but appeared on the wall on my second or third visit. These House Martins will therefore be a bit behind those that arrived back early and took over 'complete' nests still intact from last year. There has been no change to the condition of the 'half mud-cup' for several weeks.

PS - 1 Hobby and 1 Swift also observed flying overhead.

FRIDAY JUNE 17 - 2016

Spotless Ladybird
Glynis Irons sent an update on the ladybird with no spots that her son Thomas found and photographed on Brook Meadow on June 15. Following a bit of research, I thought it must have been a newly emerged Ladybird as wing cases (elytra) of Ladybirds are soft and pale orange at first and take a couple of hours to harden and develop their familiar colour pattern.

However, Glynis says, the one they found was kept in Thomas' 'ladybird world' discovery container for two days and remained non-spotted, before it was released back to its original place at Brook Meadow today. Does anyone have an answer to the little mystery?

Today, Glynis and Thomas also witnessed a Ladybird emerging from its pupa. It was yellow with extremely faint spots, not visible in the photo, but there nonetheless. Thomas thought it was a Seven-spot Ladybird.

BTO News
The British Trust for Ornithology has reported that satellite-tagged Cuckoo named 'Disco Tony' has already started his journey south again. See . . . Cuckoo 'Stanley' was lost but there are still five birds transmitting data. See . . .

Despite indications that it's a poor year for House Martins, BTO is gathering excellent information through the House Martin Nest Survey which suggests that things are not as bad as expected. Our own Caroline French is carrying out this survey at Westbourne and her findings seem to support this view. See yesterday's blog entry.

BTO carried out a garden Goldfinch Feeding Survey and in which 5,183 households across Britain and Ireland took part. A preliminary analysis of the data shows that sunflower hearts were overwhelmingly the preferred option, with nyger seed coming second. Natural foods were also taken, with teasel and thistle the favourites. See . . . I don't find this at all surprising. I find sunflower hearts are loved by all garden birds! Personally, I have given up on everything else, but for fat balls.


Work session
I went over for the work session on Brook Meadow this morning at 10am. Rain treatened, but did not start until the end at 12 noon. Rachel Moroney from TCV was there to assess the group for insurance purposes. Maurice Lillie gave a long introduction to jobs and health safety conditions. The main jobs involved removing logs from Palmer's Road Copse, cutting various branches and mowing the paths.

Here are three volunteers working on branches removal in Palmer's Road Copse

While volunteers were clearing this area Jennifer pointed out a growth of Jelly Ear (Jew's Ear) fungus on a branch

Finally, here is a photo of our beautiful meadow looking north with Jennifer walking towards us

Maurice's full workday report plus more photos can be seen on the Brook Meadow web site
Go to . . .

Wildlife observations
Birds singing included Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush (briefly), Chaffinch and Woodpigeon.
I noted fresh molehills on the north meadow - a good sign of underground activity.
The grasses are looking very good at the present on Brook Meadow. Timothy is now out in several places and Reed Canary-grass towers over all others near the Lumley gate.

I was also pleased to find a good swathe of the relatively rare Smooth Brome grass with its long drooping panicles on the diagonal path across the centre meadow at Grid Ref: SU 75109 06036. Smooth Brome is distinguished from the more common Soft Brome which has shorter upright panicles.

On the east path through the north meadow, close to Beryl's seat, I found both Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis) and Perennial Ryegrass along with the hybrid between them called Fescue xFestulolium loliaceum. I find these regularly each year in this area of the meadow.

Here is the Festulolium hybrid which has Fescue-like spikelets arranged in a Ryegrass formation.

Meanwhile, on the Lumley area we have Jointed Rush in full flower.

Other news
Eric Eddles reports that 70+ Canada Geese are back at Baffins pond for their annual moult plus the regular hybrid on the right of the photo.

Barrie Jay was pleased to see 2 baby Great Spotted Woodpeckers in his garden. The photo shows Dad feeding one of the youngsters.

Patrick Murphy had a visit from a family of Long Tailed Tits today. "First time we had seen the young. They were being fed by the 2 parents (on the fat balls) who were wet through and appeared half the size of the young. Managed to take attached photo of the 4 young huddling up together in a nearby tree."


Chidham plants
Here is an update on the some of the plants I found on the new 'meadow' at Chidham yesterday. Regarding the Greater Plantain with a paw-shaped end to the flower spikes, I am informed that this condition is called 'fasciation'.

This is a relatively rare condition of vascular plants in which the growing tip, which normally is concentrated around a single point and produces cylindrical tissue, instead become elongated producing flattened, ribbon-like, or elaborately contorted tissue. Looking through Google I could find many images of it occurring in Ribwort Plantain, but none in Greater Plantain.

I am also grateful to Martin Rand for confirming my identification of Black Grass (Alopecurus myosuroides). He also confirmed my guess that the Broomrape growing among the Bee Orchids was Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor), adding that it is certainly not Birdsnest Orchid which has a very different flower structure and would not grow in vegetation or exposed to light like this one.

Railway Wayside
As Jill Stanley was walking into Emsworth yesterday she stopped to look at the wayside behind the railway station. Just in from the end of the concrete wall by the bike rack she saw two spikes of a plant she didn't recognise, so she went home to get her camera to take some photos from which she identified them as Water Figwort, as distinguished from Common Figwort by its 'winged' stem and rounded ends to the leaves. In my experience, Water Figwort is far more common than Common Figwort, even in relatively dry habitats as in this wayside. Here are Jill's photos of the tiny red flowers and the rounded leaves.

This prompted me to have a walk around the wayside this afternoon to see what else was in flower since my last visit on June 2.

Here is a view of the wayside from the top of the ramp.
The embankment is dominated by Docks.

Slipping through the iron bars of the ramp fence, I quickly noticed lots of Toad Rush in flower immediately behind the new cycle rack, clearly as a result of the disturbed ground. In addition to Jill's Water Figwort, also in flower among the brambles which now completely dominate the eastern end of the wayside were Common Knapweed, Meadow Vetchling, Perforate St John's-wort, Oxeye Daisies, Stone Parsley and just one pink flower on the Great Willowherb.

Here are the Meadow Vetchling and the Perforate St John's-wort

Towards the western end of the wayside I found Bird's-foot Trefoil, Creeping Thistle, Scented Mayweed and Smooth Tare (with 4 seeded pods). Hedge Woundwort is nicely in flower on the embankment, but there is not sign of Marsh Woundwort which is the special species of this wayside.

There are some fine spikes of Common Toadflax about half way up the ramp
Hard Rush was also in flower in various places.

There is a nice growth of the grass Crested Dog's-tail outside the metal gate on New Brighton Road, but no sign of any Black Grass which I found here last year.

Little Egret news
Peter Milinets-Raby says that the Little Egrets are now in full swing feeding young at Langstone Mill Pond. A pair of Gadwall is still present and 3 pairs of Tufted Duck. Not much else happening over the last few days at Langstone Mill Pond. Peter sends his best Cattle Egret photo taken on 9th May at Warblington.

Caroline's news
Caroline French provides an update on her various activities including the important BTO House Martin survey in Westbourne.  
"I carried out my eighth House Martin survey on June 14. On the last visit on June 5 I noted the first audible young in one of the nests. Today, was the most interesting visit so far, with some of the nests having lots of fresh droppings beneath them, some with broken egg shells from recently hatched chicks and also one nest showing very well developed chicks (see photos). House Martin eggs should be all white but these have markings on them which washed off with water. I think this may be related to parasites but am not sure - I will try to find out more. "

Caroline also went to Kingley Vale twice and on both occasions found families of Marsh Tits being fed and also a family of Nuthatches. There were plenty of singing Yellowhammers, Linnets and Firecrests. Also Green Hairstreaks.

In a farm survey near Pagham in early morning Caroline got lovely views of a vixen enjoying the sunshine - she could see swollen teats. Caroline was taking a photo of a Reed Bunting and later found she had a Sedge Warbler with food too!


Finally, Caroline had a Stock Dove in her garden for the first ever. The House Sparrows have their second brood well underway.


Spotless Ladybird
Thomas Irons was 'ecstatic' according to his mum, Glynis, to get this photo of a spotless Ladybird on Brook Meadow yesterday. This might well have been a newly emerged Ladybird. The wing cases (elytra) of Ladybirds are soft and pale orange at first. It usually takes a couple of hours for them to harden and develop their familiar colour pattern. More information can be got from Google.


TUESDAY JUNE 14 - 2016

This morning, I decided to have a look at the 'meadow' at Chidham which Tony Wootton visited, and raved about, on June 11 in this blog. On Tony's suggestion, I drove down Cot Lane and parked on a roadside lay-by next to the line of tall Lombardy Poplar trees. Tony thought this would be a shorter route than walking along the shore from the end of Farm Lane Nutbourne. Thanks, Tony. I appreciate that. I then took the public footpath across the fields to Nutbourne Bay with crops of Oil-seed Rape and Peas.

When I reached the shore I turned left along the coastal path until I got to a big yellow notice indicating a temporary footpath inland which avoids the crumbling shore line path.

This path goes along the top of a raised bund and has glorious array of wild flowers and grasses.

It was very windy when I was there this morning, making photography difficult, but very enjoyable and highly recommended. Here are a few of my observations:

As Tony said this path on top of the bund is very good for orchids. This cluster of Common Spotted Orchids is on the far side of the ditch close to the start of the path with some very pale varieties nearby.

I also spotted the single Pyramidal Orchid on the other side of the path near the rocks that Tony got.

But best of all were the Bee Orchids which could easily be seen close to the path on top of the bund. I counted 20 though there could have been more.

I also saw several spikes of what Tony simply called Broomrape. From the reddish stems, my guess is that they are Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor), which are parasitic on a variety of wild flowers, including Clovers, Wild Carrot and Composites (Daisy family) all of which were fairly abundant in the area.

It was interesting, that the Broomrapes were growing alongside Bee Orchids, which made me wonder about Birdsnest Orchids, but they would be found mainly in woodland where they are parasitic on Beech.

This photo shows several Broomrapes and Bee Orchids

Black Grass
On my way across the fields from Cot Lane to the shore, I found what I am fairly sure is Black Grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) growing alongside the footpath. This is a loosely tufted annual grass with slender green stems and dense very narrow cylindrical panicles which taper to the tips. They reminded me of Sweet Vernal Grass.

Black Grass is said to be a serious arable weed on farmland and hard to eradicate; the Hants Flora notes that it is still frequent in Hampshire in spite of crop-spraying. I have only seen it once before on rough ground near Emsworth Railway Station. Cope and Gray ('Grasses of the British Isles' p.384) say it is probably an ancient introduction brought in a weed of crops by early farmers, though it is regarded by most authors as a native.

Other observations
There were lots of arable flowers on the edges of the path from Cot Lane to Nutbourne Bay, including Scarlet Pimpernel, Scented Mayweed, Pineappleweed and Lesser Swine-cress. Most interesting by the field of Oil-seed Rape was a very unusual Greater Plantain flower spike with a paw-shaped tip.

Just before the shore was a fine array of Corky-fruited Water-dropwort.

On the meadow bund I had my first Bristly Ox-tongue flower.

Birds singing along the way included Skylark, Common Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. I also saw several Meadow Brown butterflies, but none stopped for a photo.

Annual Beard Grass
Ralph Hollins discovered of several clumps of a grass species that was new to him while cycling along Hart's Farm Way near the amenity tip. Taking a specimen home Ralph soon identified it as Annual Beard Grass (Polypogon monspeliensis). He kindly brought a sample for me to see and here is one of the spikes. I must go over to have a look for myself.

Cope and Gray (in 'Grasses of the British Isles') say it is a native grass along the coasts of southern and eastern England with a centre around the Solent. They describe it as an annual plant reproducing entirely from seed and requiring bare ground for the establishment of seedlings. Seeds survive for many years and new populations will suddenly reappear at former sites.

For earlier observations go to . . June 1-13