APRIL 9 - 2017
I had a stroll
around this lovely local woodland on a warm spring
morning. Parking on Emsworth Common Road I entered the
woodland site by the northern entrance as shown in the
I took the first path
through the wicker gate to the east. This is where I
found a good flowering of Common Dog-violets -
distinguished by their pale notched spurs.
Further along the path
Bluebells are now looking very good with more
to come. Well worth a visit.
I stopped for a nice
chat with Andrew, the woodman, who was working
in his regular spot at the far end of the northern
path surrounded by various projects. Andrew is a fund
of information about all aspects of woodland
management. For example, he explained that this pile
of cut logs in the photo would be shaved and used as
stakes like the one he is holding. Stop and have a
chat if you are passing.
I went across
the border stream onto Longcopse Hill. I could not
manage the usual log bridge across the stream, but
found another easier crossing a little further
downstream. I went onto the main orchid area in the
far end of Longcopse Hill where a good 20 Early Purple
Orchid spikes were in full flower. There were also
lots of spotted leaves indicating more to come.
Other flowers in this
area included Dog's Mercury, Lesser Celandine, Wood
Anemone, Common Dog-violet, Butcher's-broom, Bluebells
but surprisingly few Primroses. Also, my first Wood
Sedge of the year.
I used my new
Lumix TZ70 throughout the walk, but inadvertantly had
it set on a dark exposure which meant all the photos
came out very dark. I lightened them for use in this
blog, but that is not really satisfactory. I must be
more careful. I am also still having a problem with
close-ups. With the camera on Intelligent Auto, macro
seems to work only when really close to the subject.
We have had
two Holly Blue butterflies in the garden over the past
week. They are attracted to the Ivy hedges, though the
book says the eggs are laid on Holly in springtime and
Ivy in autumn. I have not yet managed to get a photo,
so here is one I took last year of one in the garden.
Milinets-Raby was so pleased to actually see something
this morning after returning home yesterday very
disappointed after just an hour when the fog rolled in
and made it impossible to bird watch! But, today was
better, but it was all a hard slog to squeeze anything
out of the morning. The highlights were as
Emsworth Harbour from 6:16am - low tide at sunrise! 5
Coot with 8 on the Millpond, 1 Little Egret, 4 Canada
Geese, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 3 Greenshank in the
stream by the wall. 7 Shelduck, 5 Med Gulls heading
north, 2 Brent Geese.
1 Linnet along by Beacon Square
2 Black-tailed Godwit and my first Whimbrel at Nore
Barn - nothing else.
Ibis Field from 7:10am: 2 Chiffchaff singing, 1 Willow
Warbler singing, 1 Blackcap singing
Cetti's Warbler singing by stream by the path (over
200 metres from the mini reed bed at Conigar Point -
possibly a second bird??). 8 Med Gulls over, 2
Behind Conigar Point: Cetti's Warbler singing along
Conigar Point: 2 Shelduck, 1 Greenshank, 1 Lesser
Off Pook Lane: 1 Dunlin, 4 Med Gulls over, 21 Grey
Plover (all winter plumage), 2 Shelduck, 47 Bar-tailed
Godwit (all in winter plumage, except one in full
summer), 11 Black-tailed Godwit (all in summer), 2
Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Canada Goose flew east
along channel, 6 Mute Swan off shore, occasionally
having a scrap!
Langstone Mill Pond: 48 Little Egrets (with 17
seemingly sitting on nests already).
Grey Heron colony: Nest 10: Male has a mate helping
him build the nest up. A rogue male was causing havoc
amongst the colony and eventually settled down in the
Ivy covered tree on the right - bringing the odd stick
in - This could be the start of a new nest - watch
Mute Swan on nest, Pair of Tufted Duck, Pair of
Gadwall, 6 Teal, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff and
Blackcap all heard singing.
had a nice surprise this morning at Baffins Pond with
this family of eleven Mallard ducklings.
For a report on
yesterday's Havant Wildlife Group walk at Baffins
go to . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2017.htm
APRIL 8 - 2017
I walked up
Victoria Road on my way to Brook Meadow this morning,
noting and photographing the variety of plants that
manage to eke out an existence in the gap between the
garden walls and the pavement. I used my new Lumix
TZ70 camera which was pretty good except for taking
macros of small plants.
Thale Cress was
the first to attract my attention outside houses 30
and 32 Victoria Road. This plant can easily be
confused with two others growing in the same habitat,
Hairy Bittercress and Shepherd's Purse. Thale Cress
has a slim stem arising from a basal rosette with a
cluster of white flowers at the top and often with
very slender pods which stick out prominently from the
Cress . . . . . . . . . . . Hairy
There are also some
good patches of the garden escape
Mind-your-own-business along the garden walls.
I was not expecting to
see a good patch of Shining Cranesbill with a
single flower open on the wall outside number 2
Victoria Road. The plants I made such a fuss about on
the Christopher Way path yesterday had no flowers.
I met Debbie
Robinson at the Seagull Lane entrance who commented
that the meadow was looking very beautiful this
morning and I agreed with her. To prove it, here is a
shot I took while walking through the north meadow.
Debbie also pointed
out that the missing piece of the vandalised gate had
been shifted towards the bridge and would probably
soon be in the river. I have informed Maurice Lillie
about it who will want it moved.
The large Ash on the north path has lots of
flowers, but no leaves as yet. The buds are there, but
particularly vocal on the meadow this morning. I also
had one singing in my back garden, though I could not
Gooseberry Cottage by Peter Pond, I stopped to listen
to the sweet descending notes of a Willow
Warbler in full song. It later moved towards the
meadow and was singing near the Lumley gate. This was
our first on the meadow for a few years. We do hear
them occasionally, usually at this time of the year,
but they do not stay to breed. I gather they tend to
fly further north to nest.
The pen Mute Swan
was sitting snugly on her nest on the island on
Peter Pond. She is certainly brooding eggs and I think
we can start counting the days to hatching. Assuming
she laid the last egg on April 5th, then hatching
should commence in 36 days on May 10th.
Meanwhile, over on Slipper Millpond her mate, the cob
swan was busy trying to drive off a pair of Canada
Geese. He had quite a job on his hands with two of
them as they often went off in different directions.
Interestingly, when I
arrived one of the Canada Geese was on the centre
raft. There was no sign of the Great Black-backed
Gulls, which made me wonder if the Canadas might be
thinking about nesting there!
I met Brendan
Gibb-Gray later in the Delicatessen cafe having
coffee. As his house directly overlooks Slipper
Millpond, I asked him to keep and eye on the situation
and to let me know any developments
was just browsing this wildlife blog and felt the need
to correct me over the Bumblebee feeding on White
Dead-nettle on Apr 6 which I identified as Bombus
lucorum. In fact, it is Bombus
hortorum as Bryan explains below.
Bryan explains as
white tail - lemon yellow bands or dark yellow bands
separation of B. terrestris and lucorum does only
apply to queens of those species, and is only relevant
if the bee in question has a single yellow band on the
front of the thorax and a single yellow band on the
abdomen. Your specimen clearly shows a yellow band at
the back of the thorax (in addition to the one on the
front edge) and a yellow band on the abdomen.
This puts into the trio of B. hortorum, B. ruderatus
or B. jonellus. The two former species can be hard to
separate, but ruderatus is rarer and significantly
less widespread than hortorum. Hortorum also looks
more untidy, due to having long body hair, whereas
ruderatus looks like it's had a crew-cut. Jonellus is
equally as abundant and widespread as hortorum, but
often overlooked and misidentified in respect of
having the entirely misleading 'English name'
Heathland Bumblebee (one reason why I never use
English names when referring to bumblebees). It is
present on Portsdown Hill locally and I've seen photos
of one from Farlington Marshes. One of the key
separation features of hortorum and jonellus is face
and tongue length - hortorum has a long face and
tongue for accessing nectar in flowers with a long
calyx-tube, whereas jonellus has a short face and
tongue. Based on your photograph showing a
'shaggy-looking' species on a flower with a long
calyx-tube, I have no hesitation in confirming it as
Bombus hortorum. It will be a
queen, being a rather late species to emerge from
hibernation, in respect of the later flowering period
of plants with long calyx-tubes.
I am very grateful to
Bryan for pointing out this error. Clearly, where I
went wrong is failing to see the separate yellow band
at the back of the thorax which in my photo appears to
merge into the yellow band on the abdomen. But I am
now aware of the difference and shall look more
carefully in future.
Bryan is author of the excellent 'Pocket Guide to the
Bumblebees of Britain and Ireland' which I use
regularly to check on Bumblebee ID, but clearly I got
it wrong in this case. I dread to think how many
others I have got wrong that Bryan has not seen!
Evans saw this little group of Mallard ducklings this
afternoon on the River Lavant in West Dean Gardens.
Slightly worryingly, mum was nowhere to be seen. This
is the first local Mallard family I have heard about.
APRIL 7 - 2017
thing I saw in the garden when I came down this
morning was a female Mallard on the grass. It flew off
only to reappear a few minutes later with in company a
male! We do occasionally get Mallard coming into the
garden but they are not regular visitors, despite the
presence of the Westbrook Stream at the end of the
garden. The pair was back later in the afternoon
feeding on the seeds around the bird table.
The last Mallard in
the garden came several times in May-Jun 2016. The
most we had was 4 in June 2014. We have also found a
Mallard egg in a flower pot on a couple of occasions,
but there has been no serious attempt at nesting.
However, a few years ago my neighbour had a family of
ducklings in his garden which were all taken one night
by a Fox.
Wood-rush on left and Meadow Foxtail on
This morning I
did a tour around some of the local waysides on my
bike to see what was coming up. Starting at Washington
Road I moved to the Emsworth Recreation Ground and
then across to Christopher Way from where I went over
to the Westbourne Open Space at the top of Westbourne
The area behind the bowling club on Emsworth
Recreation Ground is being progressively invaded by
Blackthorn. This is a pity as this grassland is rich
in several interesting species of which Field
Wood-rush, Meadow Foxtail and Sweet Vernal Grass were
out today. My Lumix TZ70 camera would not focus
properly on any of these small plants. I tried both
Intelligent Auto and Program macro. The solution was
to find a spot in the shade with a plain
I also found my first
Creeping Buttercups of the year
Poplars are also spreading onto the grassland in
the north west corner of the recreation ground.
Their very pale leaves
are now sprouting allowing the tree to live up to its
On to Christopher Way
where I found the Shining Cranesbill leaves
shining brightly. They are extensive on the path from
Bellevue Lane to Christopher Way. It should be a good
display of flowers this year.
I also found my first
Herb-Robert of the year in flower on this path.
I was also pleased to find my first Sticky
Mouse-ear of the year on the edge of the footpath
on Christopher Way. One can see from the hairs why it
is called sticky!
leaves are showing on the grass verge of Christopher
Way, mostly on the Council mown area by the first lamp
I rode across to the
Westbourne Open Space at the top of Westbourne Avenue
where I met up with Terry Lifton for the second day
running. She was delighted when I pointed out the
cylindrical flowering spikes of Meadow Foxtail
grasses that are now prominent on this site. They
don't photograph too swell, but here are a few
together on site.
I also found Sticky
Mouse-ear and Thyme-leaved Speedwell on the
edge of the foot path. I needed the dark background of
my bike saddle for this photo to come out.
I found about a dozen
mushrooms growing in small clumps on the Westbourne
Open Space. There might well have been more hidden in
the long grass.
Both caps and gills
were pure white and the flesh was firm, if not solid.
I am certainly no
mushroom expert, but I think they might be St
George's Mushrooms (Calocybe
gambosa), so called because it fruits as early
as 23rd April, ie St George's Day.
Rather surprisingly, I
did not see any butterflies during my morning walk.
However, I was able to watch a Bee-fly exploring a
hedge at the top of Westbourne Avenue. I tried without
success to photograph it.
Finally, sorry, but I
could not resist a selfie with the new camera on the
Westbourne Open Space - just in case anyone does not
APRIL 6 - 2017
I had a walk
along the old NRA track on North Thorney and down to
Little Deeps this morning to look and listen for early
migrants. I happened to meet Terry and Paul Lifton who
were on a similar mission. There were certainly lots
of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and, of course, Cetti's
Warblers, but no Sedge Warblers as yet. The Liftons
did not find any either.
I did not see any sign
of swans nesting on the Little Deeps, but the Liftons
found a Mute Swan on a nest just below the gates on
the Great Deep. They also saw two Bearded Tits at the
Little Deeps - this male was taken a few years ago.
The weather was
perfect for picturesque views across the harbour with
the masts of boats reflected in the calm water.
Along the marina
seawall I found a Bumblebee feeding on White
Dead-nettle flowers. From its size I suspect it is a
queen. The white tail narrows it down to Bombus
terrestris or Bombus lucorum.
Bryan Pinchen says "In the spring, queen B.
Lucorum and can be told from the very similar
B. terrestris by the lemon yellow
banding and clean white tail". So this one seems to
fit best the B. lucorum.
Gulls were present everywhere this morning, their
yelping calls echoing around the sky. I found a large
flock on the shore immediately beneath the marina
seawall. I counted 44 individuals in this shot. They
must like Emsworth!
Mediterranean Gulls were perched on a nearby rock.
A pair of Mute
Swans was on the pond on the Deckhouses Estate,
but no sign of any nesting. They looked like young
There is a nice clump
of Yellow Archangel near the start of the path
to the old Marina Farm. This is the cultivated form,
subspecies argentatum which has silvery
patches on its leaves.
No sign of Swallows
around the dilapidated stables.
seen on North Thorney included Orange Tip, Small
White, Comma, Peacock, Speckled Wood and Small
Tortoiseshell. Here are the photos I managed to get.
I called in to
Slipper Millpond on the way home where one Great
Black-backed Gull was on the centre raft, but
still no definite sign of nesting.
I met Mike Wells at
Slipper Millpond who told me he had just seen a pair
of Long-tailed Tits building a nest on Brook
Meadow. We both went over to the meadow where Mike
showed me the nest which was on a tree in the south
meadow, but he asked me not to publicise the exact
location of the nest so as to prevent disturbance.
Good point. I will keep on eye on the nest as it could
easily be predated by Magpies or Crows. Here is a
selection of the photos that Mike took of the nesting
Jean and I
thought it would be nice to go up onto Portsdown Hill
to have our lunch. We parked in the observation area
by Fort Widley, facing north to avoid the glare of the
low sun. The view across the fields towards the hills
of Purbrook and beyond was magnificent. What a
The grass slope
immediately below the car parking area was carpeted
with hundreds of delicate flowers of Slender
Speedwell. Note the rounded leaves. I also had a
quick look at the Cowslips which are looking
good behind Fort Widley.
For those who take an interest in these things, I used
my new Lumix TZ70 for all the photos throughout the
day. I left it on intelligent auto setting, since I
got into a right old muddle trying to set it up
myself. The camera is more intelligent than me! On the
whole, it turned out well with some decent picures. In
fact, I am getting to like it!
Ducks at Staunton
Mike Wells and
his wife and grandchildren were wandering around the
lake in Staunton Park on Wednesday afternoon, when he
spotted some rather frantic chasing in the middle of
the lake. It turned out to be two male Mandarin Ducks
competing for the attention of a female Mandarin.
Milinets-Raby quickly visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon (2:45pm to 4pm - tide way out). His report
"All the usual birds
of the last few days were still present. Singing
Chiffchaff (x2), 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Cetti's Warbler,
1 Blackcap, the male Mute Swan was still sat on the
nest (with 4 Mute Swans waiting with intent off shore
- there were actually six of them yesterday having a
fight, so it looks like two have lost and moved on -
word has certainly circulated around that there is
'trouble 't the mill'). Here is the male on the nest
on the millpond.
Not much off shore,
except for 104 Black-tailed Godwits today (146
yesterday). No Bar-tailed or Grey Plover. Just one
Shelduck and no sign of any Brent Geese (4
Grey Heron nest 9 has three young and Nest 7 has two
young and there were 31 Little Egrets displaying and
some sitting on nests.
The only new arrivals were a pair of Tufted Duck to
the pond, joining the lingering 10 Teal (with 4 more
on the trickle of water in the paddock).
says, "Over the past few weeks we have been pestered
by an influx of wasps. They are not aggressive but
there are a lot of them. There appear to be two
distinct types in equal number. One is larger than the
other, which I believe to be a German wasp. You expect
it in the autumn but at this time of the year it seems
strange. Have you any ideas?"
APRIL 5 - 2017
I had a
pleasant stroll through Brook Meadow this morning.
Sunny, but still with a chill wind. I am persevering
with my new Lumix TZ70 camera, though I am struggling
with it and am sorely tempted to go back to my old and
Lots of bird song. I counted 6 Blackcaps (2 in
Palmer's Road Copse, 1 by Lumley gate, 1 in Lumley
copse, 1 on the west side of the north meadow and 1 in
the brambles close to the north path) and 2
Chiffchaffs. Others heard included Wren, Robin, Great
Tit, Woodpigeon and Stock Dove.
I found a fine Cow Parsley in full flower by the
observation fence in Palmer's Road Copse and further
along the path the first Spanish Bluebells. Brown
spikelets of Lesser Pond Sedge are out on the river
bank below the south bridge.
There are several
promising-looking holes in the east bank of the Lumley
Stream, viewable from the casual path down to the
stream from the Lumley area. But no sign of any Water
A white butterfly was
fluttering around on the Lumley area. I managed to get
a quick shot of it when it came to rest on the ground.
Its white wings would seem to indicate a male Small
White, the first brood of which in spring may have
pure white wings with no marking. I also had a
beautiful Small Tortoiseshell on the north
meadow, probably the same insect that I saw here on
I also spotted a
Harlequin Ladybird in this area - my first of
the year. There were several 7-spots about.
There are lots of
Goat Willows with female catkins on the east
side of the north meadow behind the cutting tip.
I had my first Distant
Sedge of the year, not on the Lumley area where I was
expecting to see it, but on the north edge of the
orchid area. Grasses are starting to flower. I noted
both Meadow Foxtail (photo below) and Tall Fescue were
out on the north meadow.
I spoke to the Norse
litter collector loaded up with bags praising him for
doing a good job. He was standing in for our regular
litter man - William the black chap - who was off
Mute Swan was well settled on her tower of a nest
on the island of Peter Pond, brooding her eggs. I
wonder if she has added to the five I saw on Apr 1.
Her mate was keeping other swans at bay on Slipper
Millpond. There is a nice display of Summer
Snowflake beside the crash barrier on the south
side of Peter Pond.
One Great Black-backed
Gull was on the centre raft when I arrived but it flew
off to the harbour. I do not think they have started
nesting. The small nest box on the north raft has a
barricade of twigs at its entrance which indicates
Coot are nesting.
What looks like Lesser Swine-cress is growing
again against Brendan Gibb-Gray's garden wall at the
start of the west path of Slipper Millpond.
Knotweed is growing again on the path behind
Lillywhite's Garage despite regular attempts to get
rid of it. It is well out of the way in that location
and I think should be left. It's an interesting plant
and has attractive flowers.
I had this
fine fellow in the back garden this afternoon. Not an
unusual visitor, but always welcome.
APRIL 4 - 2017
commented on the silken webs that Chris Oakley found
yesterday on Gorse on Hayling Island.
Ralph says, "Of the
three species which make similar nests looking like
Spider webs, the Gorse Spider mite is the only
one which does so on Gorse - Brown-tail Moth and
Lackey Moth caterpillars both feed on green leaves.
The spider mites are tiny (half a millimetre long) but
are so good at digesting Gorse that they have been
introduced to several countries where Gorse is a
problem. For basic info see . . . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetranychus_lintearius
I first heard of them
several years ago when Alistair Martin came across
them on Hayling in summer when what seemed like a
stream of rusty-red liquid was running out of the web
and closer inspection showed that the stream of liquid
was composed of thousands of tiny insects emerging to
allow the wind to carry them to a new home.
I have updated my blog
with news of a Spider Mite web which I found yesterday
on Sinah Common, including a photo of the web and a
superb magnified shot of one of the mites." See . . .
Milinets-Raby had a spare hour this afternoon, so he
popped along to Langstone Mill Pond walking in via
Wade Lane from 1:45pm - low tide.
Along Wade Lane: 1 Buzzard sat on the usual bare tree
on the left as you walk in, 1 Chiffchaff heard
singing, 1 Swallow flying around above the farm, 1
Blackcap heard singing - first I've heard.
Horse Paddock: 7 Teal and 4 Moorhen.
Langstone Mill Pond:
Grey herons: Nest 7: Has at least one tiny
young in it. Nest 1: Adult is sitting on a second
brood. Nest 11: still being worked on with both adults
bringing in sticks. 45 Little Egrets actively building
11 Teal, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Cetti's
Warbler all heard. I've just realised, I have not had
a singing Reed Bunting yet? Should be starting up
soon? 21 to 32+ Med Gulls over.
Male Mute Swan serenely sitting on nest - no
other swans around.
An adult Peregrine flew over the pond and headed south
over Hayling bridge.
Off shore: 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Teal, 1
Greenshank, 4 Brent Geese, 53 Black-tailed Godwit, 1
In the distance off Conigar Point were 22 Grey Plover,
6 Dunlin 3 Shelduck and 4 Black-tailed Godwits.
APRIL 3 - 2017
morning's walk down to the meadow, I was confronted
with a badly damaged kissing gate at the Seagull Lane
entrance to Brook Meadow. This clearly looks like
vandalism. The gate still works, though does not close
properly. I informed Jennifer Rye who will report it
to Havant Borough Council.
hedge on the west side of the meadow which has
been laid is now full of fresh green leaves and is
looking fine and healthy.
There is still
a very good show of Coltsfoot on the embankment beside
the access ramp to the north of Emsworth Railway
Maybe this is a good
year for these plants as the Havant Wildlife Group
also commented on its abundance during their walk in
the Alver Valley a couple of weeks ago.
and his wife Claire saw an early local Swallow flying
over the marshes north of Thorney Island on Saturday
1st April. Later Colin saw a second Swallow flying low
over the grass on Thorney Island itself. Lovely to see
them back and good to know they are back on Thorney.
Peter Milinets-Raby saw what was probably the first
local Swallow flying over Langstone Mill Pond on March
28th. Colin did not get a photo of the one he saw, but
here is one perched at North Thorney taken a few years
I had e-mails
from Russell Brown and Peter Milinets-Raby reporting
the sad news that one of the nesting Mute Swans on
Langstone Mill Pond had been killed by two dogs on
Saturday. The carcass is near the old nest site.
Peter writes as
could not sex the dead swan, as it was partly hidden
in the reed bed, but is probably the female as the
male was sat on the nest. I talked to a few locals and
the rumour flying around was that a lady with a couple
of Labrador dogs was seen chasing the swan causing it
some serious harm. It didn't survive.
fight and the winner
The male was looked content on the nest until a
another male flew and landed on the pond This new
arrival had a female in tow, which wisely kept her
distance on the muddy shore. The resident male puffed
up his wings and left the nest pronto and swam towards
the intruder, who wisely flew off the pond onto the
muddy shore. The resident male followed and a big
fight ensued, which the resident swan won - well look
at the size of him!. He did not return immediately to
the nest, which incidentally had two eggs in at least.
In fact, I left before he even walked off the muddy
happens now is anybody's guess, but I think the
resident male will boss the pond as he always does and
will continue to sit on the eggs and with luck they
may hatch. But, I would not be surprised, however, if
he abandons the nest after a couple of weeks and gives
up the pond. I don't think the other male has enough
aggression in him to take over, so I think there may
well be no breeding Mute Swans on Langstone Mill Pond
this year. This is very sad news, as this pair have
thrilled and entertained many people over the years.
Dogs and dog owners, I'll leave you with your own
And here is
Peter's regular bird survey:
I walked in via Wade Lane 11:35am to 1:07pm - low tide
and very grey. 1 Buzzard on usual tree, 2 Stock Doves,
8 Med Gulls over, male Pheasant, Great Spotted
Woodpecker heard, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Horse paddock: A trickle of water with 4 Teal, Green
Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on the
grass together? 4 Moorhen, Chiffchaff heard singing, 1
Off shore: 124 Black-tailed Godwit, 61 Bar-tailed
Godwit, 21 Grey Plover, 4 Brent Geese.
Langstone Mill Pond: 16 to 37+ Med Gulls over, 9 Teal,
Chiffchaff heard singing, Willow Warbler heard singing
- first of the year - typical date. Cetti's Warbler
heard, 27 Little Egrets displaying, pinching sticks
and building up nests.
took a walk through the sand dunes down on Hayling
this morning, where he found Gorse in full flower. But
he was a little concerned to see several bushes
covered in dense silken tents which he thought looked
like a Brown-tailed Moth infestation.
are no larvae visible in Chris's photo to confirm the
identification. Maybe going back to check in a week or
so will establish this. Meanwhile, I did a little
research on alternative explanations and came up with
two possibilities: the Lackey Moth and the Gorse
Spider Mite, both of which have silken tents. I would
appreciate some help from anyone familiar with these
APRIL 2 - 2017
I went over to
the meadow to take photos for the regular work session
led by Jennifer Rye. They were mainly engaged in
clearing brambles from the north meadow to expose a
rather fine fallen Crack Willow tree. Here are seven
volunteers deservedly having a rest on the fallen
For the full workday
report and more photos go to . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/
I heard five
Blackcaps singing in different parts of the
meadow this morning. Clearly, they have arrived,
though all five may not stay with us to breed. Three
is our usual ration.
It has been a good
couple of days for butterflies on Brook Meadow.
Jennifer Rye reported seeing 3 Commas, 3 Peacocks, 1
Red Admiral and some Small Whites yesterday. Today I
saw my first Orange Tip ( male) in flight which
did not stop, a male Brimstone, a Small White and a
cracking Small Tortoiseshell which did perch nicely
for a photo.
I spotted a few
Nursery-web spiders (Pisaura
mirabilis) resting on nettle leaves with their
front legs typically stretched out. You need to
approach very gently as they are hyper sensitive to
I noticed the first
Cuckooflowers were starting to emerge on the
orchid area on the north meadow, though we never have
many on the meadow, unlike the Bridge Road Wayside.
Ground-ivy is also in flower on the Seagull
Lane patch. This plant grows nowhere else on the
The Mute Swan
was off the nest when I looked this morning, but the
eggs were covered, so I could not see if there had
been any addition to the five I saw in the nest
yesterday. Swans lay one egg every two days.
I met David
Gattrell, the warden of Peter Pond, throwing food
out for the ducks. He told me he had recently
introduced 24 new Mallards, male and female, all
ringed, onto the pond. This should bolster the
resident population and provide a firm breeding base
for the future.
David invited me onto
the Peter Pond site to see the new trees he and his
son had planted. There are a variety of species and
all are protected with plastic tubes. This guy
deserves a medal for all the work he has done on Peter
David also told me he
was keen to install a floating raft with a Mink trap
in one of the main channels on the pond. David has had
experience of catching and disposing of Mink on other
local sites and felt this would be of great benefit to
local wildlife, including Water Voles. I said the
Brook Meadow Conservation Group would be interested to
cooperate and later mentioned this to Jennifer Rye
(Chair of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group) who was
very enthusiastic about the idea.
When I arrived
the two Great Black-backed Gulls were mating on
the centre raft. After this activity both gulls
settled down on the raft, though I could not see any
definite indication of a nest.
One cannot go anywhere
in Emsworth without hearing the constant cries of
Mediterranean Gulls. I counted 6 on Slipper
Millpond. The two in this photo appeared to be a pair.
What cracking birds they are.
I found just one
flower on a Tree Mallow plant on the west side
of the pond.
caught these two Mallards having a snooze on the swan
nest near the bridge on the town millpond. I have not
seen the swans anywhere near the nest for over a week.
It looks abandoned.
Eric Eddles had not
seen this Barnacle x Canada hybrid goose for a
while, but it turned up on Baffins Pond today - with a
regular Canada Goose for company.
Roy Hay spotted this
Water Rail on a stream near Fishbourne Meadows
this afternoon. I think the one we have had in the
river on Brook Meadow for much of the winter has moved
APRIL 1 - 2017
I had a
morning out with my 8 year old grandson Joe who was
taking photos for the Maurice Broomfield Schools
Photographic Competition 2017. Four photos could be
entered two of 'Wildlife/Chichester Harbour and two of
'Any Subject' which gave him a pretty free hand! The
closing date was tomorrow, so, we had to get our
skates on! The presentation of prizes will be at 4pm
on Friday 28th April at the Community Centre.
Anyway, Joe and I went around Emsworth, Brook Meadow
and the millponds with Joe snapping away at anything
that took his fancy. He finished up with about 200
images from which he chose four to enter for the
I should add that Joe took all the photos himself with
no assistance from me except that I did provide him
with a small compact camera (Sony WX350). Here is a
snap of Joe on the Lumley Path overlooking Peter Pond.
The following report
is a few of my own observations of wildlife interest
with my own photos.
Only one of
the Great Black-backed Gulls was present on the
centre raft of Slipper Millpond. When we arrived it
was sitting down as if on a nest, but when it got up
and started to walk around then I realised that there
was no discernable nest. It is still a bit early for
nesting, but they are very interested!
The resident Mute
Swan pair was on Slipper Millpond. Over on Peter
Pond, the swan nest on the island was exposed to
reveal no less than 5 eggs. This was surprising
as I did not see any eggs when I looked two days ago.
As swan eggs are laid one every two days, clearly
there must have been some in the nest but were covered
over. Good policy. So, maybe we can look forward to a
fine family of cygnets?
From the small
footbridge to the north of Peter Pond, Joe and I
watched David Gattrell, the pond warden, with
waders on and shirt off working in the channel through
the reedbeds in the north of the pond. We both took a
photo and got a cheery wave from him. David was not
actually cutting the reeds, but bending them over with
a long rod to create a platform. I think he calls it
MARCH 31 - 2017
on bird feeder
I was very
surprised this morning to see a Brown Rat on the
sunflower heart feeder on the Buddleja bush in our
back garden. We do occasionally see a rat on the
ground, but have never before seen one on a feeder. I
took a few photos before it ran off along the back
Rats do not really
stand much of a chance as one of our neighbours has
three cats which use our garden as part of the
territory. I do find the occasional dead rat.
Interestingly, only today, Rosi Woods wrote a message
to hoslist with exactly the same observation - a rat
on her bird feeders. In view of this 'unwelcome'
visitor, Rosi decided to remove the feeders for the
time being. I think this is premature as the feeders
are a important source of food for a host of birds
that visit the garden. I shall certainly leave my
feeders out and wish the rat all the best in its
tussle with the local cats.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond late morning
from 11:34am to 1:06pm - tide pushing in. Main
Off shore: 17 Brent Geese, 103 Black-tailed Godwit, 62
Bar-tailed Godwit, 17 to 107 Med Gulls flew over the
pond in a 30 minute period - all were heading south
west towards the Oysterbeds. 7 Teal, 3 Grey Plover, 8
Shelduck, 1 male Red Breasted Merganser, 1 Greenshank,
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 adult summer Sandwich
Tern - probably my first migrant, 1 Buzzard. 20 Grey
Plover and 9 Dunlin off Conigar Point
Langstone Mill Pond: 18 Teal, 33 Little Egret - lots
of activity - probably the start after nothing 2 days
ago! Cetti's Warbler (moving about the pond singing -
seen and quickly photographed).
Good news on the Grey
Heron front. The male on Nest 10 has found a mate and
both birds were building up the nest together AND, an
eleventh nest is being started with a pair bringing
sticks to the very top of the other Holm Oak (above
and slightly to the left of Nest 4.).
Horse paddock: 2 Teal, 3 Grey Heron, 7 Moorhen, 1
pair at Baffins
sends the following photo of a male and female pair of
Gadwall that have been appearing on Baffins Pond for
the past 3 years. The male is very easy to pick out,
but the female, as Eric says, is easily confused with
a female Mallard. Things to look out for in the female
Gadwall, apart from its proximity to the male (the two
are rarely seen apart in my experience), are the dark
culmen (top of the bill) which is usually all orange
in the Mallard, the more solid dark brown feather
centres and white on the wing, which can be seen
easily in flight, and which can be seen in Eric's
For comparison, here
is a female Mallard with two males on Emsworth
MARCH 30 - 2017
in the 2 hour parking area at the end of Southmoor
Lane and before going onto the Southmoor reserve, I
walked up to the Budds Farm mound. On the way, I
stopped to admire a fine flowering of White
Comfrey alongside the road onto the mound.
I could not see
anything special on the ponds, so went down the steps
to the shore where I found a flock of 112 Brent
Geese feeding near the shoreline, clearly late
I was pleased to meet
Martin and Margaret Baggs who were parked in the small
area overlooking the harbour. Martin used to count the
Heronry in Old Park Wood in Chidham, but he tells me
that the woods have now been sold and divided up and
access is difficult. He was interested to hear about
the heronry at Langstone Mill Pond which is being
currently monitored by Peter Milinets-Raby.
On the way back along Southmoor Lane I heard my
first Willow Warbler song of the year from the
bushes. Such a delicate and sweet song.
I carried on to the
Southmoor reserve and climbed over the simple two
barred stile onto the area where the Southern Marsh
There was no sign of
any orchids as yet, but I saw lots of other
interesting things. First up was a good patch of
Marsh Horsetail with fresh stems and some
already with cones. Why does it not grow on Brook
But, by far the best
sighting of the morning were my first Cuckooflowers
of the year, of which I counted at least 50, all
with delicate clusters of pale pink flowers.
Beautiful! Here is also one with a hoverfly feeding on
I also spotted the
first Meadow Foxtail spike and the first spikes
of Divided Sedge.
On the way home I
passed the magnificent plant of Cow Parsley
which has been in full flower for a week or more on
the grass verge just past the Warblington roundabout
coming into Emsworth. Sorry no photo, but look out for
The swan nest
on the island has successfully survived the 4.8m high
tide and as there are no further high ones until the
end of April it may be safe. However, the swan pair
were busily collecting grass and reeds to reinforce it
when I visited at 3pm this afternoon. I could not see
any eggs in the nest. A little later the pen settled
down on the nest, hopefully to start laying in the
From the small
footbridge on the Lumley Path I watched a pair of
Coot swimming in the channel the reedbeds. These
will be nesting somewhere on the pond.
The Coots are
definitely nesting in the nest box on the north raft.
One Coot was in the box while its mate was collecting
Great Black-backed Gulls were both present on
the centre raft, though it is still a little early for
nesting which on the basis of previous years I would
expect in the second week of April. But you never
know! One bird was snuggled down when I arrived while
its mate was in the water nearby. When the second bird
came onto the raft it was greeted with a loud cawing,
which is promising.
information about the gulls nesting in Emsworth is on
a special page at . .
Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond
I had a look
around the Lumley area for any signs of sedges. I did
find the first brown spikes of Greater Pond
Sedge which continue to spread across this area -
see left side photo below. There are also many spikes
of Divided Sedge - the earliest I have ever
recorded them on the meadow. The silvery leaves of
Silverweed continue to develop, though the
flowers will not be out yet.
Walking down the new
path on the east side of the south meadow created by
the flood defence work around the Gooseberry Cottage
garden, I came across several fresh plants of
Wintercress with flower buds not yet open, but
I am not sure what variety of Wintercress.
A couple of Comma
butterflies were chasing each other around the
Lumley area. I managed to get a quick shot of one,
showing its distinctive 'comma' on the underwing. I
also spotted this 7-spot Ladybird sunning
Mike Wells had
a wander around the Staunton Park lake this morning
and saw two Blue Tits enthusing about a hole in a
tree, when suddenly his attention was drawn to the
'neighbour' about eight feet further up the same tree,
a very active male Great Spotted Woodpecker! Oh dear.
I don't hold out much hope for the Tits.
spent a profitable day with his camera at the
Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve. He sent a selection of
images from which I have chosen the following.
The Orange Tip
butterfly is the first I have heard about locally. The
Bee-fly is identified from its long proboscis
which it uses to suck nectar in spring. The Wren
singing I could not resist. What a voice to rival
the great Caruso! The Grass-snake is probably a
first for this blog.
MARCH 29 - 2017
hours after his last report and Peter Milinets-Raby
was back down at Langstone Mill Pond from 9:05am to
10:02am. It was wet.
The highlight was a flock of 43 Bar-tailed Godwit
that flew in from Langstone direction and landed
on the shore where 2 others were feeding amongst 87
Other birds of note were: Just one Brent Goose could
be found, 11 Teal, 2 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 8
Shelduck, 8+ Med Gull, 5 Grey Plover, 2 Lesser
Off Conigar Point in the distance were 2 Red Breasted
Mergansers, 1 Shelduck and 2 Grey Plover.
On the flooded horse paddock were just 4 Teal.
On Langstone Mill Pond: Cetti's Warbler singing again
along with Chiffchaff. Only 3 Little Egrets this
morning, all in the Holm Oak, standing by old
Below is Peter's revised Grey Heron colony photo.
He explains "This has been revised after checking old
photos from 2015 and realising that I have numbered
the nests wrong as currently nest 6 does not exist any
more, the last few sticks being taken by an adult from
nest 1. The view point is from the bench, just along
from the bridge, as from this vantage point all the
nests can be seen a little better. Sorry for any
So the correct state
of play is as follows: There are 8 nests with breeding
birds, plus one with a male displaying and one nest
(No. 6) has almost disappeared by thieving
Nest 1: No
young? Yesterday there were two juveniles flying
around. Not present today. This pair were on their
nest, bringing in sticks and looking very lovey dovey
again as if they are going to attempt a second brood.
I observed two young on this nest on 13th
Nest 2: Adult
standing guard on nest
Nest 3: Three
young in this nest - quite old, constantly begging for
food - will be leaving soon.
Nest 4: Three
young in this nest up in the other Holm
Movement of at least one tiny chick noted - more
Impossible to see any more, as only a few sticks of
the construction are left. Last season, this nest was
built up late, so maybe the owners have still to
Nest 7: Adult
sitting tight on nest.
Nest 8: Adults
swapping over quite regularly. This nest is only
visible from the paddock gate and is difficult to
observe. Probably has young.
Nest 9: Adult
sitting on this nest. Seen mating
Nest 10: As can
be seen from the photo, the adult male is still there
displaying. No female has shown an interest, though to
be honest, there appears to be no spare birds
(who used to walk with Malcolm Phillips at Brook
Meadow) responded to the recent report from Kate
L'Amie of a Red Kite over the Emsworth Channel last
Saturday. Neal saw what was probably the same Red Kite
heading North over Portsdown Hill late on Sunday
morning. Neal thinks the Kite might be a local
resident flying this route regularly. So, we need to
keep looking up. Please let me know of any other Red
Kite sightings. Here is one of Neal's excellent images
of the Portsdown Hill Red Kite. What a cracking bird!
earlier observations go to . . March