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for August, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

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Wildlife News Summaries - Fortnightly summary of local wildlife news


I had a stroll around the local area this morning to see what was about. I was pleased to see that the Skullcap on the Lumley Stream wall outside No 3 Raglan Terrace on Lumley Road was still in flower.

Going down Lumley Road, I came across a group of what looked like young Mallards feeding quite feverishly in the water near the eastern side of Peter Pond. I wonder what they had found that was so appetising?

I counted 12 Coot on Slipper Millpond, all adults. They could be the first of the autumn arrivals. Brendan Gibb-Gray told me that the two Coot chicks that were on the pond a couple of weeks ago had disappeared.

Italian Lords-and-Ladies
Coming back through Palmer's Road Copse I noticed the spikes of bright red berries on the Italian Lords-and-Ladies that has been growing on the river bank by the south bridge for several years. The spikes appear to be much larger than the more common Lords and Ladies.

Its leaves are quite distinctive in having creamy veins, though these come earlier in the plant's growth. Here is a shot of the leaves of the Italian Lords-and-Ladies taken in the spring.

I am not sure, but I suspect these plants in Palmer's Road Copse are Arum italicum subsp. italicum, which are usually found as garden escapes, though, as we can see from the plants on Brook Meadow, they can become fairly well established in the wild. This subspecies was cultivated in Britain by 1683 and was known from the wild by at least 1905. It is popular in gardens, and its distribution is probably increasing. It has a Mediterranean-Atlantic distribution. There is also a rare native Arum italicum though I don't know how to distinguish that one from the subspecies.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips was on Brook Meadow this morning. He got very interesting shot of a pair of Small White butterflies about to mate with the female (below) raising the end of her abdomen towards the male (above).

He also got this excellent image of a Silver Y moth, which is fairly common on Brook Meadow at the present. It is a day flying moth and is common in gardens where it feeds from flowers.

Butterfly Conservation describe it as probably the UK's most common immigrant moth. It is resident in the south of its range and in spring variable numbers migrate north reaching as far as Iceland, Greenland, and Finland with huge invasions taking place in some years. In the British Isles adults arrive in significant numbers from May onwards with numbers dwindling in late autumn as they are killed off by frosts. Some individuals fly south again to winter around the Mediterranean.


Yellow Rattle
Jill Stanley has been on Brook Meadow taking close-up photos of the Yellow Rattle seed heads. Here is one showing the lace-like network of veins enclosing the seed pods.
Jill explains: "The 'white things' are the actual seed pods and they have black seeds inside them. The seeds rattle within those pods, which then open for the seeds to disperse. The outer lacy bits are the remains of the sepals which, in the case of Yellow Rattle, are formed into a kind of bulbous tube".

As it is partially parasitic on grass, the seeds of Yellow Rattle have been widely planted on Brook Meadow to help control the growth of the coarse grasses. This has worked very well in the main orchid area where Yellow Rattle is abundant and grasses grow less tall and strongly, thus allowing the emergence of other less strident flowers.

There is another form of Yellow Rattle called Greater Yellow Rattle due to its larger flowers. This is a very rare grass-seed alien, which was introduced into the British Isles through imported grass seed. We are very unlikely to see any locally as it is described in The Hants Flora as being 'extinct'!

Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow this morning for a couple of hours and managed to find two cracking butterflies. Malcolm's photo of the Clouded Yellow shows all the main features of this beautiful butterfly which tends to be seen locally in late summer: yellow wings, silver 'figure of eight' spots in the centre of the hind wing and a dark spot on the forewing; green eyes and pink legs. Clouded Yellow is a migrant butterfly which cannot survive British winters. Malcolm's insect will be an offspring of the spring migration from the Continent.

In contrast, Malcolm's Small Copper is far from its best and has most likely been on the wing for some weeks. However, it was the first one recorded this year Brook Meadow.


Emsworth Show
I spent most of today at the Emsworth Show which, from what I can judge, was a roaring success after two particularly bad years. The weather was perfect, warm, but not too hot and not a spot of rain.
I took along a basket full of wild flowers on the front of my bike which I had picked this morning from Brook Meadow. They included mostly late flowering plants, like Common Fleabane, Hoary Ragwort and Wild Angelica and twigs from Rowan, Alder Buckthorn, Hawthorn, Oak, Ash and Osier Willow.

I had intended putting them into vases, but when I arrived everyone said they should be left in the basket on my bike where they looked quite splendid. In fact, they attracted a lot of attention with people stopping to ask questions about them.

I thought the Brook Meadow Conservation Group stall was as attractive as I have ever seen it and in a much better position than last year. Here is a shot of the front of the stall at the start of the show manned by David and Maurice.

One innovation this year was an invitation for people to vote for the 'people's postcard' from a series of four beautiful photos produced by John Tweddle depicting the four seasons of the year. Here are Jennifer and my wife Jean discussing the merits of the four pictures. In addition, a copy of John's postcard was given free to every person renewing their subscription to the group.

Maurice Lillie also brought along for sale a variety of thumb sticks that he had made from different species of tree, including some from Brook Meadow.

Angle Shades Moth
Chris Oakley found this rather spectacular Angle Shades moth on one of his tomato plants today. He also had one last year on one of his indoor tomatoes. He wonders if these are a food source?

I have checked with the RHS web site which says the caterpillars of Angle Shades moth can feed on a wide range of wild and cultivated plants and can be particularly damaging when they eat unopened flower buds. As a non-chemical control it suggests torch-light inspections of damaged plants on mild nights for caterpillars which can be removed by hand. The caterpillars can be placed on wild plants such as nettle and bramble to continue their life cycle. How very sensible!

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby popped down Langstone Mill Pond this evening 6:40pm to 8:27pm - tide pushing in.
Little Egret roost: 6:55pm 28 in roost. First 30 minutes: 40 into roost. Second 30 minutes to sunset = 66 into roost. Last 30 minutes to 8:25pm = 42 into roost. Grand total 176.
Other birds seen: Kingfisher, 150+ Swallow into roost, 2 Teal.
Off shore: 8 Greenshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit.


Brown Argus
Ralph Hollins informs me that the blue butterfly photographed by Malcolm Phillips on Brook Meadow on Aug 26 that I called a brown form of female Common Blue was , in fact, a Brown Argus. Ralph points out the total absence of blue in the wings and the presence of dark spots in the centre of the forewing clearly indicate that it is a Brown Argus.

To see the photos showing this go to and scroll down to the relevant section.
Malcolm also had a Brown Argus on Brook Meadow at about the same time last year - on 29-Aug-15. This was our 4th Brown Argus sighting on Brook Meadow.
Brown Argus is a local butterfly confined to the southern half of England and the Welsh coast. They usually occur on open chalk and limestone grassland, where the caterpillar's main food, Common Rockrose, is abundant. On other sites Common Stork's-bill and Dove's-foot Cranesbill are eaten. It overwinters as a caterpillar and has two broods, May-June and July-Aug.

Debbie Robinson was out on bat survey on Friday 26 Aug when my dog found a hedgehog under the railway bridge at the end of the Seagull Lane path. It curled up at her approach. Although not strictly within the boundary of Brook Meadow, interesting nevertheless. It probably comes from the neighbouring gardens.


Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips walked round the meadow this morning and managed, he says, "to find some birds for a change".
The Grey Wagtail looks like a juvenile judging from its whiter than usual flanks. An adult would have more yellow. If it bred on the meadow that would be a first which would be very good news. The Wren might also be a youngster, though I gather adults and juveniles cannot be reliably distinguished except in the hand.


Malcolm's news
Malcolm had a reasonably successful morning on Brook Meadow. His photos included a brown form of female Common Blue and what looks like a Silver Y moth from the white mark on its wing.

Malcolm's most interesting find of the morning was a dead Mole. Moles, of course, spend most of their lives burrowing underground. However, in summer when the ground is very dry Moles will come onto the surface to seek food, ie worms which go deeper than Moles are able to burrow. Malcolm's Mole is undamaged and could be a youngster that tried its luck on the surface, but probably died of natural causes. Does anyone have a better explanation?


Cuban Birds
Malcolm Phillips did not have any local observations today, so sent me photos of a couple of birds that he took in his garden in Cuba. Cape May Warbler and Cuban Emerald Hummingbird. Malcolm will have to be our Cuban correspondent when he moves over there.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Thanks to Tom Bickerton for pointing out that the Black-backed gull taken by Brian Lawrence in flight yesterday was a Lesser not a Great Black-backed Gull. The yellow legs which can be clearly seen in Brian's photo are the distinctive feature.

Osprey on Thorney
Claire Power went to Thorney today and found the Osprey that had been posted on Going Birding sitting on a post overlooking the deeps. Claire saw it from Thorney Road just before you get to the army base checkpoint and says a scope would be useful as it is a long way away. Here is Claire's distant photo of the Osprey.

Ospreys tend to stop off at the Deeps for a few days at this time of the year on their way south from their breeding grounds (in Scotland?) to their wintering grounds in Africa. Claire also got a Kestrel on the cables and an early passage Wheatear.

Osprey at Arundel
Tony Wootton had to go to Arundel yesterday and popped in to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve. "Walked in, Osprey flew over ONCE, took picture, walked out, 15 mins max. Better than buying a lottery ticket." What a cracking picture. Tony should win a prize at the Emsworth Show. This will be another Osprey passing through on its way south.

Pesticide free campaign
Havant Friends of the Earth has launched an online petition urging Havant council to stop using products in public places that contain glyphosate, a potentially carcinogenic material found in products such as Roundup . The aim is to build support towards putting a motion to the full council to actively seek non toxic alternatives. Please circulate to your networks and suggest they do the same. To sign please click on the link . . .
It is easy. I have just done it. If you hate the idea of pesticides being sprayed around the streets of Emsworth like I do then sign up. They are very bad for the environment and bad also for people!


Langstone Mill Pond
Just back from a family holiday to Belarus, Peter Milinets-Raby was back on his home patch again this lunchtime (Noon to 1pm - tide sort of pushing in).
Not much around. Some waders off shore with 44 Dunlin, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 115+ Redshank, 2 Sandwich Tern, 3 Common Gull,
On the pond: Mute Swan family with 8 juveniles. And, 39+ Little Egrets roosting.

Peter's rarest bird in Belarus was this family group of Whooper Swans. Since 1995, the species has bred with 2 to 10+ pairs.

Other good birds included Red-backed Shrike, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Icterine Warbler and White Stork. Peter has made a YouTube video of some of the wild flowers in Belarus.

Brian's note: A few I spotted off the top of my head while watching the video: Tansy, Golden Rod, Reed Canary-grass, Oxeye Daisy, Bladder Campion, Stitchwort, Hare's-foot Clover, Agrimony, Cornflower, Yellow Rattle, Common Toadflax, Yarrow, Ragwort, St John's-wort.

Other local news
Brian Lawrence had a walk from Nore barn to Emsworth harbour yesterday and found a Great Black-backed Gull there I have attached a picture of it in flight. It could be one of the Slipper Millpond pair?
Tony Wootton went looking for a Wryneck on Farlington Marshes but had no luck finding it. However, he did get a lovely Wheatear as a reward for his efforts.

Wider news
For the second year running, Common Cranes have successfully raised chicks on a Suffolk RSPB reserve. See . . .

With Common Swift numbers in decline, the RSPB and two building companies have created a new swift nest box in a brick format which can be easily fitted in any new home. See . . . 


Emsworth (west)
Jean and I had a walk along Western Parade this morning as far as Nore Barn. The tide was out so there was little to see in the harbour apart from gulls and Oystercatchers. We heard a Curlew calling in the distance.
Plants along the shore included masses of Spear-leaved Orache and Sea Beet. Here is a particularly large plant of Sea Beet growing on the rocks.

Most impressive was the Tamarisk in full flower in one of the long gardens off the Western Parade path.

A Mute Swan family with 3 cygnets was on the eastern harbour. This is most likely to be the family from this year's nest on Slipper Millpond; last seen there on July 26.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips had what he called 'a very disappointing 3 hours on the meadow today with nothing much moving so only two very ordinary photos for you'. Yes, Malcolm, very ordinary for you, but still great images of our beautiful birds that most people would be delighted with.

Malcolm also had some very special news to convey. While he was away on his 6 month holiday in Cuba, he got married! I have seen photos of his new wife, an attractive Cuban lady, and the house that they have been renovating in Cuba. Malcolm hopes to obtain Cuban citizenship so he can move out there eventually. We shall certainly miss his contributions to our Brook Meadow wildlife gallery, but wish him well in his new life. He says he will be around the for the next couple of weeks while he sorts things out and, as you will see from this blog, has been on the meadow every day doing his very patient wildlife watching.


Brook Meadow
Hoary Ragwort is now in full flower on the north meadow, creating a sea of bright yellow flowers.

The flowers are highly attractive to a variety of Bumblebees as are those of Hemp Agrimony which are in flower in the same area.
There are lots of Meadow Grasshoppers low down in the grass. These are largely wingless creatures and do not fly, unlike most other grasshoppers.

I was pleased to find a good growth of Common Orache in the same spot as last year, just inside the south gate onto the south meadow. It is mainly distinguished from Spear-leaved Orache which grows mostly on the Lumley area, by the lower leaves which have basal lobes pointing forwards.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips sent me a selection of his photos as he walked round Brook Meadow this morning and on to West Thorney. Here are the best of his shots. Small White and Southern Hawker from Brook Meadow and Little Egret and Small Tortoiseshell from Thorney.


Stansted Forest
Jean and I had a stroll through east Stansted Estate this morning, avoiding the noisy 'Hot Rods' show that was taking place on the lawn in front of the house.
We were interested to find what I think is Chicken of the Woods fungus growing in a cavity on the fixed wooden stump preventing traffic at the far end of the path in front of Stansted House.

We were interested to see a clump of Mugwort in full flower on the edge of the eastern track. Although this is a common plant, one does not often get the opportunity to see it in flower.

Its flowers, as shown in the close up photo of a spike taken from a Stansted plant, are in spikes, small and rayless, rather like Groundsel, with dark red petals just showing.

House Martins
Caroline French is near the end of her British Trust for Ornithology House Martin survey in Westbourne and has some very good news. She says of the 13 original nests three have second broods with well-developed chicks which look nearly ready to fledge. Here are some photos that Caroline took of the chicks. Aren't they just sweet.

As for the other nests, one has chicks which seem younger, but are just becoming visible near the nest entrance, three others have activity around the nest, suggesting likely second nesting attempts, but another one has almost completely disintegrated following successful first brood and shows no signs of an attempt to re-build.
One nest is showing almost no activity following a successful first brood, although the nest is intact. The home owner says he sees the odd bird entering but doesn't think a second attempt is underway. Caroline has seen no activity on the last four visits (ie for about a month). Another nest had fledged chicks still using it 10 days ago but showed no activity today; two more nests were really just remains of last year's (or even a previous year's) nest and have seen no activity this season. Finally, there was another old nest, about half-complete, but has seen no activity this year. So, it looks like at least seven nests so far are having second breeding attempts. That is brilliant, particularly as we have not a single House Martin nest anywhere in Emsworth. Well done Caroline.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had a couple of hours going 'round and round' the meadow today looking for any wildlife of interest. He sent me a batch of photos from which I have chosen a few. First, under the south bridge Malcolm saw this large 14ins Brown Trout with what looked like a fungus, or some sort of damage, on its back. What could have happened to it?

He also captured a Meadow Grasshopper and what I assume is a Common Wasp feeding on an umbellifer flower head.

Finally, Malcolm presented this trio of spent Teasel heads, which could well win a prize at the Emsworth Show.


Brook Meadow
The weather was so awful today that I did not manage any wildlife watching apart from the back garden where the highlight was a visit from a small family of Long-tailed Tits to the fat balls. No photo.

The bad weather did not deter the redoubtable Malcolm Phillips from venturing out with his camera. He got a couple of young birds: Blackbird and Wren - very good news for breeding success on the meadow.

Malcolm also got a Green-veined White butterfly which have been surprisingly elusive on the meadow this year. Finally, he came up with what looks like some Common Ink Cap fungi, the first recorded on Brook Meadow this year. Well done, again Malcolm.


Work session
I went over to the meadow this morning mainly to take photos of the regular Thursday work session for the web site. The session was led by Mike with 10 volunteers. Jobs included clearing around the Hazel saplings by the north bridge, moving wood chippings to the Seagull Lane path, strimming paths in the south meadow, trimming the willow hedge on the river bank which had grown into a mini forest, cleaning the signcases and litter picking.

A warning notice was placed near a wasp nest on the north path.

The report and more photos of the work session can be seen on the new Brook Meadow web site at . . .

Wildlife observations
A reptile survey is underway. A large number of black felt mats have been placed around the meadow by the ecological team that arranged the reptile relocation earlier in the year . The aim is to see how many have survived.

Kingfishers are returning to the harbour areas after their breeding season. Pam Phillips saw one on the Lumley Pool yesterday and Michael Probert saw one on the river near the north bridge this morning. They are usually best seen around the millponds in winter. Here is one that Malcolm Phillips caught in flight earlier in the year.

It was interesting to see the regrowth of Butterbur on the meadow below the main seat only a couple of weeks after it had been mown.

The Rowans on the east side of the north meadow are covered in red berries.

The Wild Angelica flower heads are highly attractive to a variety of Bumblebees, including this fellow with bulging pollen sacs on its legs.

Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow again today and got some excellent images of butterflies. Comma, Holly Blue, Painted Lady and Red Admiral.


Emsworth News
Walking through Brook Meadow this morning, I was surprised to see a single flowering plant of Common Ragwort on the Lumley Path. Unlike Hoary Ragwort, Common Ragwort is a rare plant on the Brook Meadow site. This is the first record of the year and, in fact, the first since 2014. How strange as Common Ragwort is a prolific plant on roadside verges, etc. It just has not caught on on Brook Meadow.

Passing Peter Pond I noticed that the Mallards are now in their eclipse plumage with males looking like females.
A Mallard family of mum with 6 ducklings was on the pond near the bridge. This is probably the same family that Mike Wells saw on Aug 9, but there was no sign of the yellow duckling that caught Mike's attention that day.

The Coot appear to be nesting again on the north raft on Slipper Millpond. No sign of the Mute Swan family or the Great Black-backed Gulls which left some time ago. Golden Samphire is flowering well on the bridge overlooking Slipper Millpond.

Coming back through Brook Meadow, I watched a number of Common Darters flying above the surface of the river immediately beneath the south bridge, red males and males and females in tandem dipping into the water. I managed to capture a couple mating while perched on a Greater Plantain flower spike in Palmer's Road Copse.

Malcolm is back!
Malcolm Phillips has just got home from Cuba this morning and had a walk round the meadow. Among the photos he sent me was this cracker of a substantial Brown Trout in the river.

Malcolm also got our first Clouded Yellow of the year. Welcome back!

Sinah Common
Mark Wagstaff visited Sinah Common today hoping to see the Common Hawkers that Tom Bickerton saw there on July 31st, but they were not about. However, there were lots of other wildlife to delight in, including Migrant Hawkers (left) for certain and one Southern Hawker (right).

Mark also stumbled on an unusual blue butterfly - given the time of year and location he thinks it must be the 'blue' form (as opposed to brown) of the female Common Blue.

Thorney Deeps
Tony Wootton went down the west side of Thorney Island to the Great Deeps hoping to see the Kingfishers that Ros Norton saw there on Aug 12. An hour of waiting produced one lightening flash of blue, but that was all. However, Tony was not too disappointed as he got Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat on the journey.


Brook Meadow
I had a stroll through the meadow on the way to the shops this morning. I checked the damage to the flood defence concrete bag wall in the north-east corner which Jennifer Rye informed me about. The lads have wrenched off yet more bags and chucked them in the river. How do they manage to do this?

I used my iPhone to snap a bright hoverfly on a Hogweed flower head. It looks like Myathropa florea - often seen on Brook Meadow. It is also known as Dead Head Fly from the pattern on its thorax. iPhone is not bad as an emergency camera for close-ups.

Tom's news
Tom Bickerton went to Farlington Marshes on Sunday mainly for the dragonflies, but the ponds are in such poor state there were hardly any. But he did get a nice Blue-tailed Damselfly. He came across a pair of mating Common Blues.

Tom also found what was left of one this year's juvenile Black-headed Gulls. He thought it was a Peregrine kill, with the spine still attached to the wings. The falcon had snipped off the legs and they were neatly placed under the wing, but no head.


Elaine's news
Elaine Abel noted a few things she had seen on her travels this last couple of weeks...
1) The wild flowers at the top of Kingley Vale are probably the best I have seen them in years.
2) I haven't seen any White Admiral butterflies in either Hollybank Woods or Havant Thicket this year. I note with sadness that both large Buddleia bushes in Hollybank Woods have gone so that can't have helped, though I am sure that isn't the reason.
3) We have had 4 hedgehogs in our garden (Brook Gardens) this last couple of weeks. One adult and what appears to be 3 individual youngsters...i.e. they don't all come along like a mother hen and chicks....and they love dried mealworms.....only feed them about every third night so they don't get dependent.

Rose-ringed Parakeet
Christopher Evans writes that Ring Necked Parakeet (aka Rose-ringed Parakeet) is Britain's only naturalised parrot with a distribution in Surrey, Kent and Sussex. He got this shot yesterday in Victoria Park in the East End of London. He says they have also colonised The Hague where they are regular visitors to his brother's garden. He wonders if any are seen any down our way. I do occasionally get sightings, but they are rare. If anyone knows their whereabouts please let me know.


Brook Meadow
I fancied a gentle stroll through the meadow this afternoon. It was hot and sultry and I was vaguely hoping for butterflies, but I only saw a Red Admiral and a few whites. Where have they all gone?
I walked through the orchid area on the north meadow which presently is a forest of Hoary Ragwort, but not a Cinnabar caterpillar to be seen anywhere. Are they particularly scarce this year?

I tried to pursue a Dark Bush-cricket through the dense vegetation, but only got its rear end clearly indicting it was a male. I also got a glimpse of its yellow underside.

Coming back through Palmer's Road Copse I got chatting to a chap from Horndean who wondered if I was John Goodspeed! Actually, that's not the first time I have been asked that. John is quite famous for his Havant Nature Notes which he posts around the area.
Coming home through North Street Car Park behind the Fire Station I came across a good growth of what I assume is Guernsey Fleabane coming up through the tarmac. This plant was first recorded in this country in 1974 as an introduction from South America, but has spread rapidly especially in urban areas. One sees now it everywhere.

Thirsty Woodpecker
Tony Wootton had this Green Woodpecker turn up for a drink at his bird bath yesterday evening. A young lady he thinks? The Buddha looks a bit miffed!


Waysides News
The Greater Burdock at the end of the path from Washington Road to the Recreation Ground is going from strength to strength with more plants than ever this year, though I totally missed the flowering. Did it ever happen?

The Wild Clary on grass verge at the northern end of Christopher Way, which has been mown yet again by the Norse cutting team a couple of weeks ago, is back and flowering! What an amazing plant this is. But please Mr Norse, if you are listening, give it a chance.

The wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station continues to delight train commuters using the access ramp with its galaxy of pure wild flowers and not a planted one in sight!

Hoary Ragwort is particularly colourful and is attracting Bumblebees like this Bombus terrestris. Also attractive are the seed heads of willowherbs with their plumes of long silky hairs and thin pods.

Other news
Yesterday, Ros Norton saw 2 Kingfishers at the west side of Thorney Great Deeps by the gate. They were very active, calling, flying and fishing for a long time. Ros also saw a Clouded Yellow butterfly nearby.

Tony Wootton got this Pond Skater with mites at Thursley common on Aug 9. From Wikipedia I gather these are likely to be Water Mite larvae which act as ectoparasites of Pond Skaters.


Hornet Mimic Hoverflies
Ralph Hollins thinks the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly photo in yesterday's blog was not Volucella zonaria as I thought, but the smaller species called Volucella inanis. Ralph points out that V. zonaria has a brownish front half to its abdomen whereas V. inanis has a clear yellow abdomen and also has narrower black cross bands with longitudinal black lines forming a 'dotted line' spine (see page 207 of Chinery's of Collins Guide to Insects). The insect on yesterday's blog has the characteristics of V. inanis whereas the Aug 2 photo shows the darker yellow abdomen, broader cross bands, and absence of the longitudinal black partial lines of V zonaria. Here are the two insects for comparison with V. zonaria on the left and V. inanis (yesterday) on the right.

For more info see . .

Yellow Duckling
Mike Wells was interested to see a bright yellow duckling among a conventional brood of Mallard ducklings in the south-east corner of Peter Pond this afternoon. It is not all that unusual to get different colour ducklings in a large brood, reflecting a mixed parentage.

Stansted wildlife
Tom Bickerton popped over to Stansted on Sunday (Aug 7) and expected to see bigger numbers of insects.
"I was pleased to get most of the butterflies, but could help but notice how poor this year has been for species I would expect to see in profusion. I went there to see the White Admiral but they were but they never going to stop and pose. I expect the hawkers probably are around the southern part of the forest near the pond.
Bird wise, again thin, most of the migrants had flown south, or were moulting Ravens were very active and we counted 4 individuals. A family of Buzzards were there too with two young this year. I was hoping to see the Hobby pair hunting, but there were no Martins, Swallows or insects in the air."

Here is a selection of Tom's pics: Green-veined White, Silver-washed Fritillary, Wasp Spider and Raven.


Brook Meadow
I had a stroll around the meadow this morning. Saw nothing special until I reached the far south east corner of the south meadow where a few handsome Wild Angelica plants have been spared in the recent clearance by the Environment Agency.
Several insects were feeding on the large flower heads including a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria). This was my second sighting of this impressive insect, the first being in Palmer's Road Copse on Aug 2. The Hornet Mimic Hoverfly lives up to its name in terms of its size and colouring, but does not sting. It became established in Britain in the 1940s and before that it was thought to be rare. It has very much a southerly distribution.
Scanning the edge of Palmer's Road Car Park I spotted the first Balm of the year. I usually find this lemon smelling plant in this area, though its position nearer the recycling bins is changed from previous year.

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly . . . . . . Balm

Sadly, the Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea has failed to appear in its usual spot on the Seagull Lane patch. The massive growth of other plants was clearly too much for it this year.


Alver Valley
Tony Wootton reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group through Alver Valley in Gosport. See the Havant Wildlife Group web page for the full report at . . .

Heather Mills sent me two photos of grasses from this morning's walk which they could not identify. My best guess is that they are Small Wood-reed (Calamagrostis epigejos). I stand to be corrected!



Annual cut
I called into the meadow this morning to see Martin Cull who was on the second day of the annual cutting of the grassland.
I took a short video of Brian cutting the north meadow which I have posted onto YouTube.
The link to the video is . . .

The pollarding of the tall willows on the west side of the River Ems behind the Artec factory is now finished, but lots of hefty branches have fallen across the river which need to be removed. Maurice Lillie is negotiating with the Environment Agency about clearing them as they could well contribute to water flow problems as well as affecting the river habitat for Water Voles and other wildlife.

New gate
As planned the Environment Agency has erected a new gate at the bottom of the steps at the southern entrance to the south meadow.

For more details on all these three projects and photos go to the new Brook Meadow web site at . . .

Westbrook Stream
As I was passing through Bridge Road car park this morning I found three members of the Environment Agency clearing the Westbrook Stream of several large flower pots full of soil that had been fly-tipped in the river. They were responding to a phone call from a member of the public who had seen the pots which were partly blocking the stream.

Small Copper
Brian Lawrence had a walk on Hayling Island by the golf club up to the ferry and got this cracking photo of a Small Copper. This is likely to be from the second (August) brood, though in warm summers a third or even fourth brood may emerge, flying well into October.


Young birds
Barrie Jay continues to get a good selection of young birds in his Waterlooville garden. Here is his latest - Long-tailed Tit and Green Woodpecker.


Martin Cull made a start on the annual cut of the grassland today. He will continue early next week. This will be done in line with the policy of mosaic cutting with some areas being cut and others left uncut. The more ecologically sensitive areas, such as the orchid area in the north meadow and the Lumley area will be cut later by the conservation group when seeds have set. Martin will also collect the arisings from the cut areas and dump them in designated parts of the meadow. Here is Martin with his bright red tractor.

For a full report and more photos of the work go to the new Brook Meadow web site at . . .

I had a quick look around the area of the centre meadow before Martin cut it. This area is now looking really good and could become one of the special wild flower areas for more careful treatment in the future. Water Mint was flowering very well throughout the area. I also found several flower spikes of Amphibious Bistort, a plant which notoriously very rarely flowers, at least here on Brook Meadow. This is probably the best flowering I can recall. Unfortunately, you will not see it as it will have been cut by Martin today!

There are, in fact, two forms of Amphibious Bistort: the terrestrial form which we have here on Brook Meadow which is much less floriferous than the aquatic one which grows in water. Here is an example of the aquatic form in flower on Petersfield Lake taken on a visit on June 27th.

I was also pleased to get my first Common Blue butterfly of the year, a male feeding on Common Fleabane. This is quite late to have the first sighting of this attractive butterfly.

The tree surgeons were back on the meadow pollarding the willows along the west bank of the river behind the factories. Maurice told me the work was stopped temporarily due to the Artec factory being on holiday. This photo shows one of the chaps clearing away cut branches.


Waysides News
I had a walk around some of my local waysides this morning with light drizzle in the air.
The Greater Burdock plants at the end of the path from Washington Road to the Recreation Ground are looking fine, though not quite in flower.

The grass verge at the northern end of Christopher Way has been mown again removing virtually all traces of the Wild Clary that was growing when I was there 2 weeks ago on July 14th. I wrote to Jayne Lake of Norse (HBC) asking if the verge could be spared in the next cut, but the message clearly did not get through. However, I explained the situation to a Norse employee who was parked near the verge. He was sympathetic and actually got out of his lorry to have a look at what remained of the plants. Although he does not cut verges himself he promised to pass on the message to those who did. It is probably too late for another flowering this year, but at least it might alert the cutting team to the presence of the plants. Fingers crossed!

The Wild Clary verge is underneath the first green lamp post by the Norse lorry.

Stone Parsley is abundant on the wayside at the junction of New Brighton Road and Horndean Road.

The Railway Wayside is a blaze of colourful flowers from the access ramp to the north of the station - note all are wild, none planted!

The flowers include Marsh Woundwort, Common Ragwort, Hoary Ragwort, Stone Parsley, Common Toadflax, Hemp Agrimony, Yarrow, Common Knapweed, Hoary Willowherb (?), Wild Carrot, Hedge Bindweed, Bristly Ox-tongue, Black Medick, Common Fleabane.

Marsh Woundwort . . . . Hemp Agrimony

Peter Pond
I went out for another walk this afternoon and was astonished to find another good growth of Wild Celery on the east side of Peter Pond. It is no more than 50 metres away from the other Wild Celery plants I discovered on the Dolphin Creek wayside. Both are in brackish habitat and both just over the border in West Sussex. The mystery is how I could have missed these plants as I have walked and surveyed this pond so often over the years? Could it have only recently arrived? The grid ref for the Peter Pond plants is SU 75275 05862.

Two Mallard families were on the pond with one and 8 ducklings respectively. They are making hay now the Great Black-backed Gulls have gone.

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly
While walking back home through Palmer's Road Copse, I happened to spot a very large and colourful fly feeding on Hogweed flowers. As I watched the insect, it occasionally took off like a shot, flying very fast round and round for a second or two, before returning to the same flower head.

I thought at first it was a Hornet, then decided it was probably a colourful Horse-fly. However, I have now been told that it is in fact a hoverfly called - Volucella zonaria, also known as the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly.
It is most frequently seen in urban areas and even in cities, and particularly along the south coast. It is active May to November peaking in August. Adults visit flowers. The larvae have been found in wasps nests.
This species became established in Britain in the 1940s and before that it was thought to be rare. It has very much a southerly distribution with most records coming from south of a line from the Severn Estuary to The Wash, however it seems to be expanding its range.

Salterns Quay
Eric Eddles who lives near Baffins Pond took a walk to see how the sea defences were progressing on the Eastern Road. He took this shot of what remains of what was one of his favourite places to watch birds. I have also had some good birdwatching from that quay. Now, it's gone!

Tom's news
Tom Bickerton popped over to Sinah Common on Hayling Island on Sunday (July 31) for the Purple Hairstreaks in the stunted oaks. They were there, but reluctant to come down. Best place was the entrance to the Golf Club Car Park. He says you'll need a longish lens to get them, they weren't that high in tree, but beyond his camera's range. He also saw lots of dragonflies and managed to get a shot of a Common Hawker but the rest were just too quick. The Bedeguar gall which grows on roses was there too.

Tom went onto Portsdown Hill and found some Chalkhill Blues and got this nice shot of a Nettle-leaved Bellflower.


Dolphin Creek wayside
I had an interesting walk along the path beside Dolphin Creek at the end of Queen Street this morning. This is one of our official waysides, though the notices have long since disappeared.
I was puzzled by some plants at the northern end of the wayside with spikes of pale mauve flowers. They were clearly Toadflaxes, but which one? I was initially inclined towards Pale Toadflax until I examined the flowers more closely and discovered that the spurs below the flowers were long and curved suggesting a very pale Purple Toadflax. The spurs on Pale Toadflax would have been short and straight.

A bit further along the wayside before you get to the seat are some more puzzling plants. These are umbellifers with shiny green leaves and tough ridged stems sprawling over the ground. They have multiple flowering heads both at the top of the stems and in the leaf axils.

After much deliberation, I finally nailed them as Wild Celery (Apium graveolens) which I have only seen once before - in a roadside ditch while carrying out a BSBI tetrad survey with John Norton at Northney on 10-Jul-2011. This is certainly a waysides first and maybe a first for Emsworth? The Hants Flora describes it as 'very local', found in brackish marshes and creek banks on the coast, but not inland. So, the habitat on Dolphin Creek is right, as this path is frequently flooded with sea water at high water.

This photo is taken looking north along the Dolphin Creek path towards the Old Flour Mill. The Wild Celery were on the left further along the path. The photo shows the fine display of Perennial Sow-thistle with large bright yellow flowers.

I also stopped to admire the tiny red flowers of Knotgrass adorning the edges of the path.

Emsworth East Beach
I went down onto the shingle beach to the east of Emsworth town.

I checked several salt tolerant plants growing there including masses of Spear-leaved Orache, Sea Beet a Groundsel along with some Grass-leaved Orache and Sea Mayweed on the wall.

Spotty Starling
One of the young Starlings that regularly visit my fat ball feeders in the back garden has a very spotty chest. In fact, when I first saw it I thought it was a Song Thrush though I have not seen one of those for ages. I managed to get this shot of it feeding on one of the fat ball feeders.

For earlier observations go to . . July 17-31