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for April 10-30, 2017
(in reverse chronological order)

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

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current

SUNDAY APRIL 30 - 2017

Mallard family in swan's nest
Coming back 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 it.

Water Bent
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 June.
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.

Water Bent (today) . . . . . . . . Fern Grass (from 2015)

Nightingales at Marlpit
Hearing the 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 this evening.


Lumix TZ70 tip
Sue Thomas 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.

Farlington Marshes
Heather Mills reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group
For full report and photos go to . . .

FRIDAY APRIL 28 - 2017

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby reports:
"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)."

Hayling Island
Chris Oakley reports:
"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."


Milton Common
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 there.

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.

Sandwich Terns 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 Scandinavia.

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.

Brook Meadow
I found my first False Oat-grass spike of the year near the north entrance. This is a good 3 weeks earlier than usual.
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.

Mystery 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 . . .

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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 hour.
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 pond.

Garden BirdWatch Annual Results 2016
Blackbird 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 . . .

Annual results from 41 garden birds are available. See . . .


Thorney Island
Brian Lawrence 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?


Railway Wayside

Red Clover 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.

Brook Meadow
Wintercress 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 Chiffchaffs.

Meadow Buttercups are now standing tall on the north meadow.

Brown Trout in the river below the south bridge. I wonder if that Pike is still in the river?

Spanish Bluebells looking very attractive in amongst other vegetation in Palmer's Road Copse.

Lesser Swine-cress is growing round a wooden post in Palmer's Road Car Park

Hermitage Millponds
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 Millpond

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 Beet.

Soft Brome is out on the verge at the bottom of Queen Street.

Garden Dunnock
We have had a pair of Dunnock in the garden on a daily basis for the past week. Unusual.

MONDAY APRIL 24 - 2017

Waysides News
Around Bridge Road car park this morning.

Cow Parsley with Barren Brome grass.

Cleavers in flower. Common Sorrel in bud.

Cut-leaved 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.

SUNDAY APRIL 23 - 2017

Local observations
During my local walk today I noted the following.

The first Bulbous Buttercups on the fields behind Westbourne Avenue
My first Common Vetch of the year on the Interbridges Site east of New Brighton Road.

Ivy-leaved 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 town millpond


Millpond News
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.

Brook Meadow
Grasses out 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 left is today's fly which I got using my new Lumix TZ70 camera
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?


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 insurance purposes.

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 . . .

Wildlife observations
Several 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 Brook Meadow.
I photographed a ginger Bumblebee, probably Bombus pascuorum, feeding on the apple blossom on the Lillywhite's patch near Gooseberry Cottage.

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.

Greater Pond Sedge and Distant Sedge are also showing well on the Lumley area, but there is no sign of False Fox Sedge as yet.

Pendulous Sedge 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 are females.

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 old ones.

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.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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 mud.

News from Findhorn
Richard 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 said:
We 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 migration."

For more news from Richard in Findhorn go to . . . Findhorn News


Millpond Nesting
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.

The handsome 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 the pond.

For the complete history of the Great Black-backed Gulls nesting see . . . Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond

Brook Meadow
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.

Distant Sedge . . . . . . Glaucous Sedge

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.

Tree surgery
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 straight trunks.

Western Balsam Poplar in centre to be felled


Minchinhampton Common
During our 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 common.
I think the leaves belong to Woolly Thistle.

Slimbridge WWT
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 Meadow.

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 Duck.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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 plumes.
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 Easter Eggs!

Robin feeds chick
Tony Wootton had this nice scene in his garden recently. He thought there was only one chick.


Bridge Road Wayside
During my 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 years.

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 hols.

Sandwich Terns
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 exclusively now.

Bumblebee ID
John Arnott 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 Bumblebee man'.

Bumblebee - Bombus terrestris

Bumblebee - 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 Bryan.


Wildlife 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 Cuckooflowers.

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 of.

I distributed Brook Meadow Conservation Group leaflets to everyone at the end.

Hermitage Millponds
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.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had a few minutes to visit Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon from 3:30pm to 4:15pm - high tide.
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 up?
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 predated.
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.

Orchids on Hayling
Maureen Power 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 skylarks overhead.

Deer at Fishbourne
Roy Hay found a pair of Roe Deer on Fishbourne Meadows early this morning.


Brook Meadow
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.


Millpond News
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.  

Waysides News
Musk 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 Cranesbill.

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 setting. 

New swan pair at Langstone
Christopher 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.

The Swallows were perched on a tree overhanging the tidal section of the Langbrook stream.


Swan attack
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.

MONDAY APRIL 10 - 2017

Brook Meadow
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 Bombus pascuorum.
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 was hypnorum.

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.

Lesser 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 contractors.

Other observations
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.

Wood Speedwell 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 lines.

Nest site take-over?
Brian Lawrence 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!

Swan attack
Nicola Hammond 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 OK.

Selborne the Cuckoo
Selborne the 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:

For earlier observations go to . . April 1-9