. . from 2012 to current
summary of local wildlife news
JULY 31 - 2016
Ragwort is fairly abundant on the orchid area this
year and has only just started flowering in the past
couple of days. It can be easily distinguished from
Common Ragwort by its narrow leaves with thin pointed
lobes. Although I have seen Cinnabar caterpillars on
the plants, there were none to be seen today and the
plants are relatively unscathed. However, virtually
every single plant was host to climbing Hedge
As usual, the
grassland is alive with Meadow Grasshoppers.
But I have not seen a Common Blue on Brook Meadow this
Water-speedwell is flowering on the river bank
just south of the S-bend. It can easily be seen from
the river path. From the length of the flower spikes I
suspect they are the hybrid Veronica x
spotted these stunning bracket fungi on a willow tree
at Russell's Nursery. He described them as 'brilliant
white with pale brown topping, just like chocolate
meringues'. It looks like Root Fomes
(Heterobasidion annosum) though that
normally occurs on conifers. It is more likely to be
Common Ganoderma, but we are open to ideas.
JULY 29 - 2016
I walked back
from the village through Brook Meadow this morning. I
was pleasantly surprised to see the south bridge was
open again and the repairs seemingly finished. Ahead
of time, or maybe not finished? The surface of the
bridge itself has been replaced, but the ramps leading
to the bridge, which are also in a bad state, have not
been touched. Maybe there is more to do.
The Environment Agency
workers were finishing off the south fence adjacent to
the footpath to Peter Pond. They have also to put in a
new gate at the entrance to the meadow. Will this make
access even more difficult at this entrance?
I asked them about the
new flood defence bund around the Gooseberry Cottage
garden which they said was finished and vegetation
would grow over the bags.
I met Pam Phillips on
the causeway and we stopped to admire the fine crop of
berries on the Alder Buckthorn trees, some red
and some black.
These will provide
excellent nourishment for our resident birds over the
winter (if they last that long). I recall well
planting the original 15 saplings over 10 years ago
with Ian Brewster (of HBC) and my friend Ron Clarke
who was over from the USA on a birding trip. We lost a
few of the trees over the years due to poor management
and as I was in charge at the time, the blame falls on
me. However, the remaining trees have done very well
and need no help from us any more.
Walking up the main
river path was quite an experience with masses of
Hogweed and Great Willowherb lining the path.
I was surprised not to
see the tree surgeons at work pollarding the willows
on the west side of the river. They have only cut a
few trees south of the north bridge, but then
apparently stopped. Maybe Andy Skeet has postponed the
work in view of the negative response of the
conservation group to the work.
JULY 28 - 2016
Jean and I had
a nice walk this morning around the east side of
Stansted Forest. Parking near the cafe we did the
whole circuit from the Iron Gate Cottages up to
Sonia's old cottage and back along the tarmac
The edges of the tarmac road leading to the Iron Gate
Cottages were strewn with yellow male catkins
from the Sweet Chestnut trees. Does this indicate a
good crop of nuts this year, I wonder? Here is a
catkin close up showing the yellow anthers.
The hedgerows east
from the Iron Gate Cottages were covered in masses of
flowering Stone Parsley. I don't recall having
seen quite as much before. This picture hardly gives a
good representation of its abundance. I seem to recall
that Stone Parsley used to be on the meadow indicators
We stopped at the
cottage where Sonia Bolton used to live many years ago
for a chat with the present resident, Caroline, who
was tending her garden. She told us she had been
living there for the last 11 years and loves it! A
On the way down the tarmac road from the cottages we
stopped for a traditional photo of myself standing
between the twin oaks. I love these trees and
have lots of photos of myself over the years at this
spot. Does anyone else do this I wonder?
We saw Head Forester,
Michael Prior coming towards us in his 4-wheel drive
and as, always, he stopped for a chat. He was with a
chap from the RSPB and said they would be looking at
breeding habitats for birds, such as Nightingale.
Michael told us that the Ravens had nested again on
the estate, plus two pairs of Barn Owls in his boxes.
He saw one only this morning coming out of one of the
boxes. But sadly there has been no Spotted Flycatcher
or Nightingale. However, a Goshawk had been sighted.
was also flowering well in the
JULY 27 - 2016
It was good to
see crowds of young Starlings squabbling over fallen
seeds and bits of fat balls in my garden this morning.
They have been scarce for many years in my garden and
overall the BTO Garden BirdWatch Starling sightings
have fallen dramatically. But up to 25 have been
present in my garden over the past couple of weeks, so
maybe things are on the upturn.
Milinets-Raby has reported (see his report for July
25) migration is now underway with wintering and
passage birds turning up in our local harbours.
Yesterday, I had a note from Maggie Gebbett to say she
had seen several waders at Nore Barn including
Greenshank, Redshank and Curlew. I had a quick look at
Emsworth Harbour this morning at low water. Nothing
much in the main eastern harbour, though I did find
both Greenshank and Common Redshank in the outfall
channel from the town millpond by Emsworth Sailing
Club. The light was not good for digiscoping, but here
are my best shots. Both birds were still in partial
breeding plumage, but not ringed.
JULY 26 - 2016
On the way
through the meadow this morning I met tree surgeons
from the Matt Godwin Titchfield Tree Services who were
pollarding the Crack Willows near the north bridge.
They told me that Andy
Skeet of Havant Borough Council asked them to pollard
all the trees along the west bank by the factories.
They started yesterday and the job is expected to take
7 days. I took photos of one chap chopping the top off
a tall tree just south of the north bridge. I believe
this work is being undertaken without the knowledge or
approval of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group!
that the Environment Agency may well have completed
their work on the flood defence around the garden of
Gooseberry Cottage on the east side of the south
meadow. This shows the line of bags of stones.
However, the fence at
the southern end of the meadow has only just started.
bridge across the river from Palmer's Road Car Park is
now closed for 2 weeks to allow Norse (HBC) to replace
the badly worn surface.
Agrimony . . . Red Bartsia
Willowherb and Hogweed make a fine spectacle on the
north meadow. Other plants newly flowering include
Lesser Burdock, Hemp Agrimony, Red Bartsia, Wild
Angelica and the grass Timothy. Hoary Ragwort is not
quite in flower on the orchid area. The Strawberry
Clover on the east side of the Lumley area is now
turning into its strawberry-like fruits. Some flower
spikes of Purple Loosestrife were pushing through the
tangled vegetation in the usual spot just south of the
Timothy . . . Strawberry
sighting of the morning was a superb male Southern
Hawker dragonfly which perched conveniently for a
photo on the edge of the new track from the
Environment Agency work in the south meadow.
I had a nice
Speckled Wood, showing both its upper winds and
its less commonly seen under wings.
Several flies of the
species Volucella pellucens were flying.
One actually landed on the back of my hand and gave me
a sharp nip which I can still feel as I type this
blog. I read the fly is a nectar feeder, so why should
it want to bite me? Here is the photo my grand son
took of this fly a few days ago.
still singing in the south meadow. A Buzzard was
I had a quick
look at Slipper Millpond where the Mute Swan family
with 3 cygnets was present along with the Coot family
with two tiny chicks.
There was no sign of
any Great Black-backed Gulls apart from the dead
juvenile on the centre raft. It looks as if they have
left the pond, but are probably in the harbour
Shaggy Soldier is in flower on the traffic
island on the main A259 opposite the pond.
On Sunday July
21 during a walk on the beach at west Hayling, I found
a number of deformed plants of Viper's Bugloss.
I have subsequently
discovered that the deformities are caused by a tiny
gall mite called Aceraria echii. The
mite is, as the name implies, very small. It is shaped
like the horn of a cow and has two hooks by which it
attaches itself to the plant to extract nutrients.
There can be countless numbers on a single plant and
they produce between them this mossy like appearance.
As the plant is a perennial this invasion of small
mites is not likely to have a major impact on the
JULY 24 - 2016
and Sedge Warbler
Milinets-Raby was out early this morning to walk along
the Warblington shore. (5:55am to 8:26am - tide
falling - clean fresher air). The highlights were as
Warblington cemetery: 1 Green Woodpecker, 35+ Collared
Doves, 1 Goldcrest and Coal Tit heard singing.
Ibis field: 2 Chiffchaff and a third singing and 2
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 6+ Chiffchaff, 3+
Willow Warbler (1 heard singing), a Sedge Warbler and
8+ Long-tailed Tits (see photos). Great to have some
warblers to look at!
Conigar Point: 1
Greenshank, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Common
Tern, a Med Gull with a juvenile and 7 Black-tailed
Godwits flew east probably heading to Nore Barn
Off Pook Lane: An amazing feeding frenzy of 422+
Black-headed Gulls on the falling tide, along with 2
Cormorants and 6 Common Gulls. Also 3 Greenshank, a
stunning summer plumaged Grey Plover with 5 summer
plumaged Dunlin. About 15+ Redshank now present.
Also resting for a short while on the mud were 30
Canada Geese with a noisy Greylag amongst them (see
photo) After 20 minutes they flew off towards Thorney
Langstone Mill Pond:
Female Tufted Duck with single duckling (starting to
33 Little Egrets, 4 Grey Heron, a adult Med Gull with
a juvenile over and 2 Reed Warblers in the reeds
scolding a stalking Grey Heron. 2+ Swallows milling
JULY 23 - 2016
Jean and I had
a very pleasant walk in a brisk, but warm westerly
wind, at Hayling Island (west) this morning. From the
Council car park near the Ferryboat Inn, we walked
through the shingle dune area by the golf course
towards the beach huts.
We turned round and
came back along the low tide sandy beach.
The shingle area had
lots of Sea Kale and Sea Radish, both
now with their pea-like pods.
We also noticed the
'mossy' appearance of many of the Viper's Bugloss
plants which has puzzled me in the past. They look
quite unlike the flowering plant. However, Blamey,
Fitter and Fitter (p.214) say it is the persistent
hairy sepals that make the fruiting spikes look mossy.
I was interested to
see several 6-spot Burnet Moths feeding on the
flowers of Common Ragwort - another insect that
benefits from this much maligned plant. However, there
were no Cinnabar caterpillars on the plants I
this one attracting the attention of a Bumblebee -
probably Bombus terrestris.
JULY 22 - 2016
delighted to have to company of my 7-year old
grandson, Joe, for this morning's walk around the
meadow. He was very good company and enjoyed snapping
away with his Dad's digital camera. In fact, he got
some really nice wildlife shots as shown below. I
should go with him more often! We started at the south
bridge before turning onto the meadow where Joe was
interested to see the Environment Agency chaps working
on the bund with a large digger.
enjoyed getting onto the fallen tree on the north
river. In fact, all 8 of my grand children have
climbed onto this large branch at some time or another
over the years. It is a great favourite with all
children and should never be felled.
We stopped from time
to time to examine flowers and leaves for insects, but
what Joe loved most of all was pushing through the
grasses on the north meadow, mostly taller than
himself, taking videos as he went.
He got some good shots
of Common Darter on the south bridge
Later Joe got good
photos of a pair of Soldier Beetles and what I
think is a Volucella pellucens fly.
Joe also found the
first fairly ripe Blackberry of the year along
the north path which he ate and said was a bit sharp!
JULY 21 - 2016
thing I noticed about the pond was how peaceful it
was. There was no sign of the Great Black-backed
Gulls or their youngsters from this year's nest.
However, when I looked more closely at the centre
raft, I could see the corpse of one of the juvenile
gulls slumped over the edge of the raft, seemingly
having got its head jammed between two
I spoke to Pam
Phillips later who said the gulls had left the pond a
few days ago, but returned from time to time. She did
not know anything about the dead juvenile.
With the departure of
the Great Black-backed Gulls the other pond wildfowl
are having a field day! First Brendan Gibb-Gray told
me he had seen a Coot family with two chicks near his
house in Chequers Quay. He thought they nested in the
reeds rather than on the rafts. I found them feeding
behind the Chequers Quay building, hopefully out of
harm's way, though one never knows what is round the
There was also a
female Mallard with a little troop of 5 ducklings on
the east side of the pond.
Finally, the Mute Swan family with three
cygnets appeared from the culvert under the road. Good
to know they are still doing well. Pam Phillips says
she often sees them sleeping on the island on Peter
There is a
notice on the south bridge from Norse (ie Havant
Borough Council) to the effect that the bridge will be
closed for two weeks from July 25 - next Monday - for
the top board surface to be replaced. This is good for
the surface of the bridge has become badly worn and
broken in parts. Pedestrians will have to use the
footpath by the main road to get to the Hermitage
Ponds from Emsworth.
By the south gate to
the meadow I met Maurice Lillie who was talking to
Environment Agency workers about the extensive
construction work taking place around the Gooseberry
Cottage bund in the south meadow. The work was ongoing
with laying of fresh bags of stones. Here is one of
their tractors laying the new bund.
Unfortunately, two of
our Horse Chestnut saplings have been badly
damaged during the work. The small tree was going to
be removed anyway, but the bark of the large Horse
Chestnut (photo on the left) has been stripped. Does
anyone know if it can be repaired?
The workers explained
that the south fence bordering the footpath to Peter
Pond would be also be replaced as it was in a bad
state and a gate erected across the entrance to the
south meadow which could be closed in case of
flooding, like we had in February 2014. The steps down
to the meadow would be left as they are, though a ramp
would be preferable for ease of access.
Maurice and the Environment Agency also had a look at
the vandalised concrete flood defence in the
north-east corner of the meadow where bolts were now
ongoing debate over Common Ragwort, I was interested
to see a field full of these plants just off Thorney
Road at the junction with the entrance to the Emsworth
Yacht Harbour with a horse feeding away quite happily
on the grass, sensibly avoiding the distasteful
Ragwort. Ragwort is really only a problem for horses
if it is mixed in with a hay feed where they can't
June Hay got
his nice photo of a Moorhen feeding two of six chicks
on the stream near Fishbourne Meadows yesterday.
JULY 20 - 2016
Milinets-Raby briefly popped down to Langstone Mill
Pond late this morning (10:33am to 11:33am - tide
nearly in). Highlights were:
11 Greenshank offshore, flew off as I arrived and
headed noisily towards Thorney Island - remarkable
count for July! 5 Med Gulls resting on the last bit of
mud by the pub, 1 Black-tailed Godwit feeding. 4
On the pond: 2 very aggressive adult Mute Swans with 8
cygnets - so much fun, watching them spit and hiss at
the dogs as they walk pass!
Tufted Duck female seen slipping into reeds, could not
see if it had a single duckling (probably), then a
minute later another female Tufted Duck appeared at
the rear of the pond with 7 duckling (probably the
bird with 13 ducklings a week or so ago).
And, the first sighting of a returning Kingfisher
dashing across the pond.
had a walk round Hayling Oysterbeds today and saw
plenty of Common Terns, some with chicks which
is good news. But alas, there was no sign of any
Little Terns, but I presume (hope) that some will have
nested on the RSPB islands in Langstone Harbour. Maybe
we shall hear from Chris Cockburn in time, the ex RSPB
warden for the site, now a volunteer.
JULY 19 - 2016
I had a walk
this morning with one of our grand daughters that we
are looking after for a few days. Iris had my iPhone
and spent much of the walk looking for creatures
called Pokemons. In fact, we found quite a lot
and it was actually quite exciting, though not exactly
We met Glynis and Thomas Irons on the way to Brook
Meadow. They thought they may have seen a family of
Cetti's Warblers near Gooseberry Cottage, which
I thought was unlikely as we have had no sightings of
this bird at all on the meadow this year. However, one
I had a look wide swathe which had been cut
along the eastern edge of the south meadow by the
Environment Agency, which went through the nice crop
of Marsh Woundwort. They had not informed the
conservation group about this drastic action which was
very disappointing. Here are photos - on the left of
my grand daughter standing by the notice stating this
area should not be disturbed due to valuable wild
flowers. On the right of the the southern fence which
used to have a nice hedge of bramble.
We met Peter
Milinets-Raby on the south bridge who was hoping to
get some shots of the Marsh Woundwort, but I had to
tell him they were gone. He showed me a gadget he had
bought to fit on his smart phone which enabled him to
get very good macro shots. Later he sent me some shots
he got on the meadow. Great Burnet and Ribwort
caught this a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on his
Buddleja tree. Eric Eddles continues to log
interesting insects on Baffins Pond. Today he got the
insect a female Soldier-fly (Statiomys
JULY 18 - 2016
visit to Fishbourne Meadows on July 5, I asked the
Chichester Harbour Conservancy if they had done the
annual count of Southern Marsh Orchids. James Parkin,
the new Chichester Harbour Conservancy Farming &
Wildlife Officer, e-mailed me today to say he didn't
manage to get around to conducting the usual orchid
count on Fishbourne Meadows this year, but sent me the
reading for some earlier years. Here are the recent
counts from James along with others going back to 1991
that I got from Anne de Potier when she was the
Chichester Harbour Conservation Officer.
The figures show a
steady growth in orchid numbers from zero in 1991 to
782 in 2004 since when they have levelled off. It
would be nice to think the Southern Marsh Orchid
numbers increase in a similar way over the next 20
years on Brook Meadow, though sadly I shall not be
around to see that.
the site will be grazed shortly. They tend to wait
until after the orchids have flowered before the
cattle are put onto the site each year to allow the
optimum seed set for the following year.
had another interesting find on Baffins Pond today
with this 19-spot Ladybird commonly called a Water
earlier observations go to . . July