APRIL 30 - 2017
family in swan's nest
from a morning on the Emsworth Arts Trial we noticed a
crowd of people on the bridge at the north end of the
town millpond looking down intently. Were the swans
back on their nest? No, the attraction was a Mallard
with eight tiny ducklings inside the swans' old litter
nest. Well, it's nice to know the nest came in useful
after all, despite the original builders' neglect of
Bent (today) . . . . . . . . Fern Grass (from
I was a bit
surprised to find a growth of Water Bent grass on the
edge of the pavement in Victoria Road. The location is
not surprising as I find it there every year, though
its timing is as I normally expect to see it in
Water Bent (Polypogon viridis) has to be
distinguished from the very similar Fern Grass Fern
Grass (Catapodium rigidum) which also
grows on the edges of pavements, though I have not
noticed any this year as yet. In Fern Grass (on the
right in the photo) the panicle is flatter and in one
plane, rather than branched around the stem as in
Water Bent. Also, the silvery look to the spikelets
are a good guide to the 'jizz' of Water Bent.
song of a Nightingale on the regular 'Natural World'
feature on Radio 3 this morning reminded me that I had
heard no reports of them singing at their traditional
haunt along Marlpit Lane this year. So, this evening
at about 8pm, I drove up there to have a listen. It
was a wet and miserable evening, so I did not get out
of the car, but drove slowly up the lane, stopping at
every lay-by on the left side of the lane with the
window down to listen. It was all very quiet. The
occasional car rushed past, no doubt wondering what I
was up to.
From the first large lay-by past the new construction
works, I heard the distinctive 'chuck-chuck-chuck' and
gentle 'pewing' of a fairly distant Nightingale from
the bushes to the east of the lane. It did not sing
for long, but that was enough; they were back!
I moved on about 50 metres to the next lay-by opposite
an open area in the trees on the east of the lane
where there is a gorse bush in full flower and waited
for a few minutes before hearing my second Nightingale
song, this one was much closer to the road than the
first. Wow! Neither of the songs was long enough to
set the hairs on my neck tingling, but they did
clearly indicate the presence of at least one
Nightingale and possibly two. I would appreciate any
further hearings of any Nightingales along the lane. I
certainly will be returning.
I have heard
Nightingales singing in Marlpit Lane for over 20 years
and have conducted surveys of them on several
occasions. On the last survey in May 2012 I counted a
maximum of 5 songsters along the lane, but numbers
have declined and last year I only recall hearing one.
The best place locally to hear these wonderful
songsters is Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve where you
can also get a good view of them, unlike in Marlpit
Lane. Here is a nice photo of one that Tony Wootton
got a few years ago of one at Pulborough Brooks.
Late news: Ralph
Hollins tells me that Heather Rowe reported hearing a
Nightingale at Marlpit Lane this morning on the SOS
sightings web page, probably the same one that I heard
APRIL 29 - 2017
passed on a useful tip about taking garden birds with
the Lumix TZ70 camera. She set the camera up outside
and focussed it on one of her bird feeders with the
camera in wi-fi mode with a blue light showing. Sue
was then able to operate the camera remotely using a
iPhone from inside the house, so avoiding the problem
of shooting through the window. She says, "I can sit
quietly behind the window and press the phone camera
button when a bird visits. Armchair birding!" Here is
an example of Sue's shooting.
I tied this out for
myself and it works well, though one has to take some
care in setting the camera up to focus on the area you
want. The zoom and the shutter can be activated
remotely. Nice one, Sue.
reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife
For full report and photos go to . . .
APRIL 28 - 2017
"Not much change today, but warmer: However, the
weekend looks much more promising! Hurrah for some
south easterlies! Sunday will be a mega sea watch day!
You heard it first here!
I visited the Langstone Mill Pond this morning from
9am for 45 minutes;
Off shore on the low tide mud were 3 un-ringed
Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 16 Dunlin, 16 Grey Plover and
2 Black-tailed Godwit. And in the channel on a Buoy
were 2 Common Tern.
On the pond were 2 singing Reed Warblers, a singing
Cetti's, 2 Swallows over and a female Reed Bunting
called several times before flying off. No singing
male yet (one date only so far)
Nice to see a Coot on a nest. They usually hide away
from the Mute Swans, but this new pair are not as
aggressive. And, funny to see a Little Egret pinch one
of the Coots nest twigs (see photo)."
"We took a walk along the beach just below the Hayling
golf course this morning. I was surprised to see so
much Yellow Rattle growing along the shingle banks,
admittedly a miniaturised variety, but a pleasure to
see. The Sea Kale is now flowering well as are the Sea
Campion and Thrift.
It's astonishing to
see both wild apple and oak trees fighting the
elements, giving them both a Bonsai look. And a nice
couple of Small Copper butterflies were taking
advantage of warming sun."
APRIL 27 - 2017
I had a walk
around Milton Common in Portsmouth for the first time
for many years. It used to be a regular haunt of mine
when I worked in Portsmouth. It has been changed
radically, with broad tracks through the site and a
large sea defence bund. But it is still basically a
wild area. A People's Memorial garden has been
recently constructed at the northern end of the common
with seats and dovecotes. A volunteer was working
Birds heard and
sometimes seen during the walk included Chiffchaff,
Blackcap, Whitethroat and Cetti's Warbler. No Cuckoo,
which I used to hear on the common. I could not see
much on the three lakes, but did notice Mute Swans on
two of them, probably nesting.
were fishing in the harbour and a Whimbrel
landed on the shore calling loudly. The very
distinctive call is typically about 7 notes -
'pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu'. This bird will be on passage
to its breeding grounds somewhere up north, probably
There was not much in
the way of plants in flower. Lots of Alexanders
lined the shore and Horse-radish leaves as
usual further inland.
I also noted
Charlock and Borage in flower.
I found my
first False Oat-grass spike of the year near
the north entrance. This is a good 3 weeks earlier
The sterile green stems of Field Horsetail are
also out on the north meadow (right side photo below).
This is the second stage of growth of this plant. In
the first stage in spring the plant has non-green cone
bearing stems, which are replaced by these green stems
with 'leaves' in summer. I am not sure what those
white bits are on the end of the leaves.
I was interested to
see that Coots are now nesting in the box on
the centre raft on Slipper Millpond along with the
Canada Goose. That certainly would not have been
possible had the Great Black-backed Gulls still been
nesting on that raft.
caterpillars - Brown-tail Moth
Mike Wells and
Ralph Hollins agree that the cluster of caterpillars
that Brian Lawrence photographed for yesterday's blog
are in fact of the Brown-tail Moth. The two orange
dots of their backs is distinctive.
The caterpillars are
well-known for their urticating hairs which can cause
extreme irritation if in contact with human skin. They
feed in a communal web on the leaves of Hawthorn
(Crataegus) and Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa).
For more details see . . . http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/euproctis-chrysorrhoea/larvae
Milinets-Raby is fed up with the chilly north wind.
(Hear, hear!) The wind has made birding very hard
work. Today was typical. He visited Langstone Mill
Pond and walked in via Wade Lane from 11:25am for an
Along Wade Lane were 3 Buzzard, 2 Mistle Thrush and 5
Swallows hawking over the Barn buildings singing.
On the Langstone Mill Pond were a pair of Gadwall.
Plus, singing from the reeds were 2 Reed Warblers, a
Cetti's Warbler and at least 2 Chiffchaff.
The usual uninterested Mute Swan pair were swimming
around (whilst off shore on the high tide water, were
5 birds engaged in a constant battle between
themselves.) and resting on a buoy was my first Common
Tern. Nothing else off shore
Lastly, Peter counted 42, possibly 44 Little Egrets
nests, with a count of 62 birds being present on the
BirdWatch Annual Results 2016
topped the BTO Garden BirdWatch tables in 2016 as
the most frequently seen bird in gardens. It was seen
in over 90% of gardens on average throughout the year.
Many species, such as Long-tailed Tit and Wren, were
seen in higher numbers compared to 2015. See . . .
However, not all birds
fared so well, and Greenfinch counts were lower
than ever, dropping below an average one per garden
for the first time from October 2016. This species has
been in severe decline, as a result of the disease
outbreak charted by Garden BirdWatchers from 2005
onward. The Garden Wildlife Health project aims to
monitor and investigate emerging threats to wildlife
health. See . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-4WLXP-3UEDCR-2LLWQN-0/c.aspx
Annual results from 41
garden birds are available. See . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-4WLXP-3UEDCR-2LLWQO-0/c.aspx
APRIL 26 - 2017
had a walk on Thorney Island west, from the Deck
houses up to the security gate. He found a Canada
goose on the pond by the Deck houses. The Mute Swan
was snug on her nest on the Great Deeps by the gate.
Best of all was a
Small Copper butterfly - the first I have heard about
locally. There were lots of caterpillars on bushes
which Brian could not identify. They certainly look
familiar. Does anyone know?
APRIL 25 - 2017
and White Clover are now out in some
abundance on the Railway Wayside.
Strange, there is none at all on Brook Meadow.
I also had my first
Beaked Hawk's-beard of the year with a cluster
of 7 flowers.
on the eastern path through the south meadow looking
good. It could be American Wintercress, but the leaves
look OK for regular Wintwercress.
I heard 4
Blackcaps singing (north path, north meadow,
Lumley gate and Palmer's Road Copse) and two
Buttercups are now standing tall on the north
Brown Trout in
the river below the south bridge. I wonder if that
Pike is still in the river?
Bluebells looking very attractive in amongst other
vegetation in Palmer's Road Copse.
Swine-cress is growing round a wooden post in
Palmer's Road Car Park
When I arrived
at about 12 noon, both Mute Swans were at the nest
site on the island on Peter Pond doing some nest
tidying. The pen got up briefly to turn and cover the
eggs prior to having a break. I could see at least 5
eggs in the nest.
There is no sign of
any Coot chicks on the north raft on Slipper
The Canada Goose is
still sitting on a nest on the centre raft
The Great Black-backed Gull is on her nest on the
south raft, right beside a luxurious plant of Sea
Soft Brome is out on
the verge at the bottom of Queen Street.
We have had a pair of Dunnock in the garden on a
daily basis for the past week. Unusual.
APRIL 24 - 2017
Cow Parsley with
Barren Brome grass.
Road car park this morning.
Cleavers in flower.
Common Sorrel in bud.
Crane's-bill leaves with Herb-Robert flowers. Holly
flowering in the Beech hedge along the footpath.
Red Valerian buds.
Wall Lettuce leaves beneath the Beech hedge.
APRIL 23 - 2017
Bulbous Buttercups on the fields behind
local walk today I noted the following.
My first Common Vetch of the year on the
Interbridges Site east of New Brighton Road.
Toadflax on a wall along Victoria Road.
The first leaves of Pepper-saxifrage on the
Lumley area of Brook Meadow.
One of two Holly
Blue butterflies fluttering around the Ivy hedge
in my back garden.
Chris Oakley spotted
this substantial Coot nest on the west side of the
APRIL 22 - 2017
I had a big
surprise this morning when walking round the town
millpond to see the Mute Swan pair working on the
'litter nest' by the bridge. I really thought they had
given up on it, but there they were, both busying
themselves. There was no sign of any eggs, though that
would not surprise me with the pair back. Could we yet
have cygnets back on the pond?
There is no change on
the Hermitage Millponds. The pen swan is snug on her
nest on the island on Peter Pond. On Slipper Millpond
Coot are nesting on the north raft. Canada Geese are
rule the roost on centre raft, while the 'poor old'
Great Black-backed Gulls have been relegated to the
small south raft where the female is sitting on a
mountain of twigs.
I saw my first
Hawthorn blossom of the year on a bush on the
south side of Peter Pond near the road.
the left is today's fly which I got using my new Lumix
include Meadow Foxtail, Cocksfoot and Tall Fescue.
Creeping and Meadow Buttercups are also flowering. No
sound of Whitethroat as yet.
A good lady was collecting litter in Palmer's Road
Copse, where a fellow was also doing us a good turn in
removing some of the Crack Willow logs.
I managed to capture the image of a fly with spotted
wings resting on a leaf near the river in Palmer's
Road Copse. I think is a Scorpion Fly -
probably a female of a Panorpa species.
It is so-called because the male abdomen is often
up-turned like a scorpion's tail, but it does not
sting! The main diagnostic feature is the downward
extension of the head to form a stout beak.
On the right is one I got a couple of years ago in the
same place using my old Lumix FZ8 camera
Decision time. Shall I go back to my old camera?
APRIL 20 - 2017
Conservation Work session
There was a
very good turn out of 14 volunteers for the regular
3rd Thursday in the month conservation work session on
Brook Meadow. Rachel Bryan (formerly Moroney) from CTV
was also present to check on the procedures for
The session was led by
Jennifer who outlined the main tasks for the day which
included moving the pile logs from the felled Crack
Willows in Palmer's Road Copse to the Lumley gate.
Brambles were cleared
from around the Black Poplar trees, but I warned the
group to take special care at this time of the year
when birds will be nesting. Wally gave some
instruction to a group of volunteers on how to carry
out a butterfly transect. I took photos as usual.
For the full report
plus more photos go to . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/
butterflies were noted during Wally's transect,
including Speckled Wood, Small White, Orange Tip,
Holly Blue and Small Tortoiseshell. So far this year a
total of 9 species of butterfly have been recorded on
I photographed a ginger Bumblebee, probably
Bombus pascuorum, feeding on the apple
blossom on the Lillywhite's patch near Gooseberry
Flowers showing well
at the moment include Common Comfrey (purple flowers
on the river bank), Cuckooflowers (general), Ribwort
Plantain (north meadow) and Garlic Mustard.
I checked on the
Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca) on
the Lumley area as I needed to eliminate the
possibility of Carnation Sedge which is also glaucous
and grows in this type of habitat. However, the Brook
Meadow sedge has two indications of Glaucous: 1. the
leaves are dull green above and glaucous beneath
whereas in Carnation Sedge both side are glaucous; 2.
the points of the leaves are rounded, whereas they
would be three-side in Carnation.
Sedge and Distant Sedge are also showing
well on the Lumley area, but there is no sign of False
Fox Sedge as yet.
is now well in flower along the path through Palmer's
Road Copse. I hope the group do not cut this
attractive plant again under the belief that this will
discourage it. It won't.
The two remaining
Black Poplar trees, three of which were
originally planted in November 2004 in memory of
Frances Jannaway's mother, make a fine vista with new
leaves, from the area near the seat.
The green female
catkins are now showing well on the Crack Willows
around the meadow. All the Crack Willows on the meadow
Here are some of the
logs from the Western Balsam Poplar that was
felled in Palmer's Road Copse by tree surgeons
yesterday. I think the brown showing in the cut logs
indicates the disease that the trees were felled for.
I am still looking out
for Water Voles, but with no success. However,
though there are several likely looking holes on the
banks of the Lumley Stream, but they are probably all
On the way to Brook
Meadow I noticed there were the usual Pond
Skaters on the Westbrook Stream beneath the small
bridge on Victoria Road. I have seen them here in
previous years. This was my best shot.
Milinets-Raby visited the Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon from 3:25pm to 5pm.
The highlight of the visit was discovering that the
Grey Heron Number 6 nest was being re-built and was
halfway to being finished. This means that all the
nests are occupied.
The other highlight of the visit was observing a flock
of 11 Whimbrel heading east down the channel. Also on
the low tide shore were 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 30
Grey Plover, 6 Dunlin and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit.
On the pond I heard Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler,
Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Only one pair of Tufted Duck
were present with 6 Teal on the off shore
Somerscocks moved to Findhorn in the north of Scotland
in the summer of 2012. Richard was an important
contributor to local wildlife news when he lived in
Emsworth and we miss his beautiful photos. So, it was
good to hear from him regarding a colour-ringed
Black-tailed Godwit that Pete Potts asked if anyone
had a good photo of. Naturally, Richard responded with
a cracking shot of Black-tailed Godwit ROL-RLR taken
at Emsworth on 8 October 2011. This bird was ringed in
Kent in 2008 and has been a regular winter visitor to
Emsworth Harbour ever since.
Richard said he did
not any plans at the moment to return to Emsworth " .
. . which was a shame because I thoroughly enjoyed my
time there. But it is a long way from the north of
Scotland!" Regarding Black-tailed Godwits Richard
don't get very many Black-tails at Findhorn. They are
mainly seen on migration during Autumn and Spring.
There were actually about 30 on the bay today, which
was quite a good total for us. No colour rings though.
Until a couple of years ago there were no birds
overwintering, but recently that has started to
change. A year ago there was one on the bay all winter
and this last winter we had up to 5. Not sure why they
are starting to overwinter with us. but milder winters
may be a factor.
A colleague of mine here at Findhorn did spot a colour
ringed Greenshank a couple of weeks ago. Information
from Anne indicated that it had been off Thorney
Island until late afternoon and was on Findhorn Bay by
mid afternoon the next day. A pretty amazing
For more news from
Richard in Findhorn go to . . . Findhorn
APRIL 19 - 2017
I had a look
at the Hermitage Millponds this afternoon. The pen
Mute Swan was snug on her nest when I passed by
Peter Pond. She got up briefly while I was watching to
turn over the eggs, of which I could see at least 4,
though there are almost certainly more.
Laburnum tree on the south of Peter Pond is now
in full flower.
Over on Slipper
Millpond there was a Canada Goose apparently
sitting on a nest on the centre raft, where the Great
Black-backed Gulls have nested for the previous 4
years. The take-over looks complete.
The ousted Great Black-backed Gulls are now
nesting on the much smaller south raft for the first
time, though this is their 5th year running nesting on
For the complete
history of the Great Black-backed Gulls nesting see .
. . Great
Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond
Sedge . . . . . . Glaucous Sedge
I had a close
look around the Lumley area where I found a good
number of tufts of Distant Sedge in flower for
the first time this year. The most surprising find was
several plants of Glaucous Sedge in the centre
of the Lumley area - for the first time ever on Brook
Meadow. The most distinctive feature of this sedge is
its greyish green leaves.
I must admit I usually
associate Glaucous Sedge with chalk grassland, like
Portsdown Hill, though I see from Rose's book
("Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns") that it is also
common in meadows and fens, so it is not entirely
unexpected on Brook Meadow. Looking through my records
I see that Glaucous Sedge was also recorded during a
HBIS Survey in Sept 2006 by Joel Miller. However,
since it had not been seen by anyone since then I I
had removed it from the records.
I spoke to the
Cedar Tree Surgeons (contracted to Havant Borough
Council) who were trimming off branches overhanging
Palmer's Road Car Park. It seemed a strange time in
the year to do this with birds nesting nearby.
Their main task was to
fell the very tall Western Balsam Poplar tree
close to the entrance to Palmer's Road Copse. They
explained the tree was rotten inside and had to be
felled as it was unsafe with the car park and footpath
so close. There are, in fact, four other Western
Balsam Poplar trees in the copse, all with very tall
Balsam Poplar in centre to be felled
APRIL 18 - 2017
family break in Gloucestershire near Stroud, we had
several walks on Minchinhampton Common. This is an
extensive chalk and limestone common which is grazed
later in the year.
Wildlife interest included a good display of Early
Purple Orchids on the open grassland, which one
does not see locally.
The Norway Maple trees were in full flower.
Field Wood-rush was everywhere on the
I think the leaves belong to Woolly Thistle.
We also had a
family visit to the Slimbridge WWT - my first visit
for about 30 years and how things have changed! It is
a huge site, with a vast entrance hall and outside car
park. But once inside, my family really enjoyed
getting good views of many beautiful birds and other
animals. Highlights for me were the Otters in
their enclosure and a Harvest Mouse, the nests
of which have been discovered several times on Brook
We were all pleased to
see a Kingfisher close it its nesting holes in
a bank of earth.
I realise the WWT do a lot of good work in
conservation of bird species. However, I have mixed
feeling about the extermination of our Ruddy Ducks in
order to help the conservation of the White-headed
Milinets-Raby Visited Langstone Mill Pond early this
afternoon 1pm to 2pm - Cold chilly wind blowing, tide
half coming in.
Not much to report: Off shore were 2 Greenshank, 39
summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwits, a single
Shelduck with 2 in the distance off Conigar Point.
On the pond were 3 lingering Teal, 2 female and one
male Tufted Duck and a pair of Gadwall. In the air
were 3 Swallows and at least 2 Med Gulls going over.
Singing birds were subdued due to the chilly weather,
though eventually I did hear Chiffchaff, Blackcap and
Willow Warbler. Still no Reed Bunting or Reed Warbler
and the Cetti's was quiet.
The Little Egrets were sitting tight on their nests. I
counted 39 nests with an extra 7 birds loitering
around looking pretty in their splendid breeding
The "new" Mute Swan pair were looking disinterested in
one another, so prospects are not looking good for any
breeding this year at the pond.
Find attached a Mandarin Duck and a Firecrest seen at
Staunton Country Park yesterday while out hunting for
had this nice scene in his garden recently. He thought
there was only one chick.
APRIL 13 - 2017
regular litter pick on the wayside verge at Bridge
Road car park I discovered my first Common
Sorrel of the year, not quite in flower, but
unmistakable. It is about a week earlier than usual.
There is also a very good display of flowering Cow
Parsley on the main wayside. Cuckooflowers are
scattered around, but not as many as in previous
In addition, I decided
to give the signcase on the wayside a jolly good
spring clean as it had not been touched since before
Xmas. I also gave the window a jolly good clean and
prepared new photo displays to illustrate spring and
summer flowers, birds and insects on the wayside, as
well as general information about the waysides
project. So all is looking fine for the Easter
Sue Thomas has
only just discovered these wildlife pages thanks to
Christopher Evans and is finding them a useful source
of local wildlife news. Interestingly, she has
recently bought the same camera as me - Lumix TZ70 -
and is finding it very good for bird photos. It also
fits neatly in her pocket for walks. Sue sends a
cracking photo taken with this camera of three
Sandwich Terns resting on buoys taken from her boat in
the harbour on April 2nd. I am using my TZ70
- Bombus terrestris
sent me some photos of Bumblebees taken within minutes
of each other on the afternoon of 8th April at
Fishbourne Meadows. All were nectaring on Blackthorn
flowers. The B. terrestris photos are
probably of two different animals while the B.
vestalis photos are definitely of the same
animal. The pattern of yellow bands (especially the
paler yellow at the base of the white part of the
abdomen) and the smoky wings on B.
vestalis made it stand out as a likely cuckoo
bumblebee for him, plus the photos seem to show a lack
of a pollen basket on the hind legs. John thinks all
these pictures are of queens/females, but asked me to
seek confirmation from Bryan Pinchen, our 'resident
- Bombus vestalis
I did this and Bryan
replied that he could not add anything to what John
said as all of the information is correct. The
terrestris queens are easily told by the dark
golden yellow bands on the front of the thorax and the
abdomen and the dirty brownish tail tip. The
vestalis queens do have the smoky wings
characteristic of cuckoo bumblebees, and a lack of a
shiny outer surface to the hind tibia (the pollen
basket) because they do no pollen collection.
Bryan added to feel free to send on anything else that
requires identification or clarification. Thank you
APRIL 12 - 2017
guided walk on Brook Meadow
I led a walk
on the meadow this morning attended by nine people.
The walk was organised by Faith Ponsonby (Mayor of
Havant). We met in Palmer's Road Car Park where I
pointed out the Brook Meadow interpretation board with
the lovely painting of the meadow and its wildlife by
local artist Marian Forster.
I did a fairly quick
tour around the meadow, starting at the south bridge
where I found the first Herb-Robert in flower.
We looked for Trout,
but none was in view. We went through the south meadow
and then onto the causeway from where we had a fine
view across the main grassland. The group were
impressed with the greening Willows and and the two
tall Black Poplar trees. One member correctly
identified the Butterbur. We carried on to the north
meadow where I pointed out the Rowan plantation and
the orchid area. The only flowers we could see were
We went across the
north bridge to see the group's tool store.
I stopped from time to
time during the walk to point out wildlife of interest
and answer questions. We heard several Blackcaps and
Chiffchaffs singing. We saw lots of Ladybirds on the
nettles and a Nursery-web spider which I took a photo
I distributed Brook
Meadow Conservation Group leaflets to everyone at the
I had a quick
look at the ponds after the walk. The pen swan was
snug on her nest on Peter Pond while the cob was busy
chasing the Canada Geese around Slipper Millpond.
The Canadas seem to be
settling on the centre raft and the Great Black-backed
Gulls have been relegated to the south raft. There is
no sign of nesting from either.
Milinets-Raby had a few minutes to visit Langstone
Mill Pond this afternoon from 3:30pm to 4:15pm - high
On the pond; 41 Little Egrets, 5 Teal, Cetti's Warbler
and Blackcap heard singing, 1 Kestrel, 2 Med Gull
over, Nest 10 had no activity. Has the male given
Indeed, as per yesterday's post, a new pair of Mute
Swans were on the pond - a light weight looking
male and a very light weight looking pen. And, either
of them, not interested in eating my shoes if I stood
too close - I shall miss that aggressive male!. The
swan nest looked empty of eggs, as if they have been
Now, surprisingly there were 6 Mute Swans off shore,
one was possibly the dethroned male, but without rings
it is impossible to tell, so in the space of a few
days another Mute Swan has turned up, which looks like
another very aggressive male, the other four are just
along for the ride.
went down to Hayling beach this morning and found lots
of Green-winged Orchids in flower. They were in the
usual spot, just south of the golf course, with more
spikes coming through. It was a bit windy - good for
the kite-surfers, but not so good for macro
photography. However, it was very pleasant there with
Roy Hay found
a pair of Roe Deer on Fishbourne Meadows early this
APRIL 11 - 2017
I had a walk
through the meadow this morning, much chillier than
yesterday. I put two new 'Brook Meadow in Spring'
displays in the signcases, one about Ragged Robin and
one about summer bird visitors.
I managed to get nice shots of male and female
Blackcaps 'flirting' in the trees on the west bank
near the old gasholder site. I was not quick enough to
capture them together.
I did manage to get a
photo of the nesting pair of Long-tailed Tits
together near their nest. I think they were aware of
my presence, so I did not stay any longer than
necessary for the photo. I think it is best not to
publicise the exact site at present.
Walking down the main
river path I could not resist sharing with you a view
of the river south of the S-bend.
It was here I spotted
the first Cocksfoot spike of the year on the
meadow. The TZ70 camera did well on this close-up.
From the south bridge
I spotted a small Brown Trout swimming in the
river, not up to the standards of Malcolm Phillips,
but I was pleased with it.
I had a quick
look at the Hermitage Millponds. The pen swan is still
snug on her nest on Peter Pond. The pair of Canada
Geese are still hanging around the centre raft on
Slipper Millpond while the 'poor old' Great
Black-backed Gulls have been relegated to the south
raft. It looks like a take-over.
Storksbill is flowering again on the grass verge
at the junction of Lumley Road and the main A259 right
by the Hermitage sign. Musk Storksbill is an annual of
barish places near the sea, on roadsides, waste
ground, etc. It is an ancient introduction and is
particularly well established in the coastal regions
of SW England and Wales. It gets its name from the
musk scent emitted when bruised.
On the Bridge Road
Wayside I found the first Barren Brome grass
spikes of the year and what I think is Dove's-foot
The long yellow
catkins are now falling onto the ground at the far
southern end of Palmer's Road Car Park from the tall
Basford Willow trees.
I took all photos this
morning with the new Lumix TZ70, but I must remember
to reset it each time. It did quite well on close-ups,
though one has to get really close for a macro
swan pair at Langstone
Evans was down at Langstone this afternoon and
discovered a new pair of Mute Swans on the pond. He
says the deposed male was wandering around the
adjacent boat storage area.
There were another six
swans just off shore from the path past the pond. A
lady told him that this morning there was a swan on
the nest and then two other swans arrived and there
was a dust up. Christopher assumes these were the two
now in residence. The corpse of the original female
seems to have been removed.
were perched on a tree overhanging the tidal
section of the Langbrook stream.
I had an
update about the swan attack by a dog reported in
yesterday's blog. Nicola Hammond, who reported it to
me, has been reading through the Emsworth Residents
Facebook posts and found out, as I suspected, that the
attack was at Nore Barn. Nicola adds, "At least, it
wasn't a breeding swan and was rescued", which is
something, though the act cannot be excused. There
have been several dog attacks on swans at Nore Barn
over the years, sometimes fatal. I know the police
have been alerted by local residents, though
apparently it is not a criminal offence for a dog to
attack a swan, so they can take no action apart from a
word to the dog owner, if they know who it is.
APRIL 10 - 2017
I spent the
morning preparing the displays for the signcases and
then went over to the meadow in the afternoon to
update the three cases. It went well though I was
variously interrupted/delayed by people and wildlife,
but that was fine.
As for wildlife I spotted this ginger Bumblebee
feeding on White Dead-nettle. It could be a queen
B. hypnorum is possible, though I did not see a white
tail which this species would have.
Bryan Pinchen comments
- It is pascuorum, one of the give-aways is it feeding
on white dead nettle, it has a long face and tongue
whereas hypnorum has a short face and tongue so is
less likely to be on this plant species. I would
expect the visible parts of the abdomen in the photo
(at the top near the thorax) to show some black if it
I pondered over the
Pond Sedges growing at the top of the river
bank next to the dead hedging. I had not seen them
this far up the bank before, but I am sure they are
the same species as grows on the river side
immediately below them, ie Lesser Pond Sedge. I
checked on the Pendulous Sedge that is in
flower along the riverside path in Palmer's Road
Copse, but the spikes of that plant are hanging and
quite different from the river bank ones.
Pond Sedge . . . . . . . . Pendulous Sedge
I checked the
Long-tailed Tit nest which Mike Wells told me
about last week. It is still intact and I saw a bird
entering it while I was there. The entrance hole can
be clearly seen in the photo.
Two large Crack
Willows have been felled in Palmer's Road Copse.
They were old and unsafe and too close to the public
footpath for comfort. The work was done by Council
On the way to
Brook Meadow I noticed a good growth of what is
presumably Keel-fruited Cornsalad on the wall
of my neighbour's house in Bridge Road. I am surprised
I did not see it when I checked the pavement plants on
Apr 8. Could it have grown and flowered that quickly?
Note: Keel-fruited Cornsalad is more common in our
area than Common Cornsalad.
is in flower on the west side of Peter Pond,
immediately outside Gooseberry Cottage. It is
distinguished from the similar Germander Speedwell by
having hairs all round the stems, not just in opposite
went to Slipper Millpond where he found two Canada
Geese on the centre raft and the two Great
Black-backed Gulls on the south raft.
Does this indicate a
take-over of the centre raft, where the Great
Black-backed Gulls have nested for the past 4 years,
by these Canada Geese? Surely, the big gulls could see
off these larger, but more docile, birds. Clearly,
something is happening. Watch this space!
alerted me to a report on the Emsworth Residents
Facebook page about a Mute Swan being attacked in
Emsworth on Saturday. I checked the Facebook post, but
it did not say where the incident took place except
that is was 'Emsworth'. That does not really help as
swans frequent several sites in the area. I suspect it
was Nore Barn where there have been swan attacks in
the past and they are easily accessible from the
beach. If anyone has any further information I would
be grateful. I have not seen the town millpond swans
for a while, but the Peter Pond pair seem to be
HOS-sponsored Cuckoo last night was in Brittany, so
almost home. The next satellite download is tomorrow
night. After a rapid movement from the Ivory Coast to
Algeria two weeks ago he then got to the Pyrenees
quite quickly. Apparently it is normal for Cuckoos to
rest up for a while before making the final move.
Full details of Selborne's journey are here:
earlier observations go to . . April