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for June 1-16, 2017
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FRIDAY JUNE 16 - 2017

Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow this morning mainly to replace the pictorial maps in the three signcases which had faded in the sun.
While I was there I had another look for the Meadow Barley grass which I found in the centre meadow last year, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack! Pam Phillips was passing at the time and came over to have a look, but soon gave up. I always have a problem finding this attractive grass on Brook Meadow and in some years completely fail to find any. I shall continue to search! The only reiliable area I find it locally is in the north west corner of Emsworth Recreation Ground - shown in the following photo.

While looking for the Meadow Barley I was stopped in my tracks by this simply gorgeous Small Tortoiseshell butterfly resting low in the grasses. This will be one of the first of the summer brood. The over wintering generation will have gone by now

Meanwhile, over on the Lumley area, the Creeping Thistle flowers continue to attract a myriad of insects, including this white Crab Spider, probably a female Misumena vatia.

Down in the south meadow I came across a female Demoiselle. This is probably a female Beautiful Demoiselle which we have seen a lot of on the meadow this summer, though one can never be too sure as the insect is very similar to the female Banded Demoiselle.

A Song Thrush was singing strongly in the south meadow, the first I have heard for a while. Maybe, nesting is finished?

Burnet Moths
While updating the south gate signcase this morning, I met Tony Browne (of the Brook Meadow conservation volunteers) who told me about some red insects that he had seen hatching from their cocoons along the path to Gooseberry Cottage. We both went to have a look and, after counting the red spots on their wings, concluded they were 6-spot Burnet Moths. I do recall seeing these attractive moths in this area in previous years. The cocoons were suspended on a single strand of wire or were attached to grass stems. Most of the adult moths had emerged from their cocoons, some were already flying and visiting local flowers for nectar, while at least two pairs appeared to be mating. They certainly waste no time! Here is a pair locked together that Tony picked up.

Burnet Moths are extremely poisonous, their bodies containing cyanide derivatives generated from the food of the caterpillars and the red spots warn birds to avoid them. There is also a 5-spot Burnet Moth which has five red spots on its wings and another variety called Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet Moth which I often see on the Southmoor at Langstone.

Hairy Tare
While Tony and I were looking at the Burnet Moths, I pointed out the Hairy Tare to Tony that is flowering on the edge of the path. He said it reminded him of the parable of the wheat and tares in the bible in which wheat had to be separated from the tares at harvesting. Tony explained that he was a Biblical Hebrew scholar and was just on his way home from leading a U3A group in this subject. Well, I never! Amazing, the hidden talents we have among us! I looked up the wheat and tares parable which is in Matthew 13:24-30. Sorry, my camera is not up to taking such tiny flowers.

Millpond News
A Reed Warbler was singing in the reeds in the south west corner of Peter Pond. Crow Garlic bulbils are now showing on the side of the Pond.

On Slipper Millpond the Mute Swan with 6 cygnets was near the bridge. One of the two Great Black-backed Gull chicks was swimming in the water near the nesting raft. The other chick was on the raft with one parent.

Four Mediterranean Gulls were on the pond. Here is a shot of three of them.

Small Blue correction
Ralph Hollins points out that my photo of a 'Small Blue' butterfly on Portsdown Hill on the blog June 13 is, in fact, a Common Blue. My apologies. Ralph is quite correct, as he always is!

Ralph suggested the following links for for information about the differences between these two butterflies. . .

I am fairly sure there were both Common Blues and Small Blues fluttering around the flowers below Fort Purbrook, the latter being considerably smaller than the former. I thought I had got a Small Blue, but clearly not. Sorry. But here are two photos of real Small Blues taken at Fort Purbrook from my files. On the left by Richard Somerscocks (June 2011) and on the right by Jill Stanley (June 2014).

Other news
Christopher Evans went round Farlington Marshes this afternoon and saw Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Kestrel, Linnets, Shelduck, Lapwing, Black Tailed Godwits and a single Great Crested Grebe. Here is a small flock of Oystercatchers in flight.

Maureen Power reports that the Field Cow-wheat is now in bloom at Skew Road, Portsdown Hill. This is a former corn field weed which is now a rarity. However, Skew Road verge is a a local hot spot for this attractive plant.

Maureen says other wild flowers are also there, including groups of Broomrape, Pyramidal orchids and Restharrow.


Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow this morning for the regular 3rd Thursday in the month work session led by Maurice Lillie. Eleven volunteers turned up on a warm and sunny morning. The main tasks were to trim back the overhanging vegetation along the main paths and remove the sticks that had been used to mark out the orchids in the north meadow and the Lumley area.

The power scythe was used to cut the casual paths and give the two rounded experimental areas on the north meadow another cut. These areas are being mown regularly as an experiment to see if anything interesting turns up. There are some tiny blue flowers in the southerly experimental area, which we have left to see how they develop.

Julie Kirk and a group of pupils from Glenwood School were just leaving the meadow as the work session started. They had been collecting grasses for further study and possible identification in the classroom. Good to see them. Julie will arrange with Jennifer Rye for a future visit.

During the break Jennifer came up with a plant which she had found on the path near the new Gooseberry Cottage bund. It was Water Figwort and was in flower. This is not a rare plant by any means, but a handsome one, so we had a little ceremony to mourn its passing and celebrate it presence on the meadow with us.

Wildlife observations
Beautiful Demoiselles were in flight at two locations. Two males were sparring near the north bend in the river and a male a female were chasing each other below the south bridge. Interestingly, this damselfly appears to have taken over residence on Brook Meadow from the previous dominant Banded Demoiselle which are now rarely seen.

Male Beautiful Demoiselle by the south bridge

The only butterflies I saw this morning were Meadow Browns.

I had several firsts of the year. Celery-leaved Buttercup in the "Lumley puddle" area north of the Lumley gate. Last year we had a magnificent crop of Celery-leaved Buttercup (about 100 plants) on the new path by the Gooseberry Cottage bund, but there is none there this year. Toad Rush is also well out in this small almost permanently wet area.

Timothy grass on the centre meadow just below the main seat, but no sign yet of Meadow Barley.

Great Willowherb is out - the earliest date I have ever recorded it on Brook Meadow. Soon much of the meadow will be adorned with the pretty pink flowers. Creeping Thistles are flowering well on the Lumley area and are extremely attractive to insects. Long may they prosper.

Some of the Dock leaves along the path through the south meadow have been severely nibbled by some insect, leaving a pretty lace-like effect. What could have done this?
Also, one of the Wild Angelicas in the south meadow has completely collapsed revealing a network of stout red stems. Wild Angelica is flowering a good 2 weeks earlier than usual.

Dragonfly Walk
Enjoy a walk through Brook Meadow and along the River Ems led by local expert Dr Alison Barker this Saturday 17th June from 10am - 1pm. Suggested donation £2 per person to Brook Meadow Conservation Group.
Meet at 10am, Palmers Road car park (behind Tesco Express) Emsworth. Bring outdoor clothes, good footwear and a packed lunch. Families welcome but children must be accompanied by an adult.
To book, please contact Sarah Hughes on 07765 175494 or
Please be advised that this event is weather dependent.


Waysides News
This morning I had a walk around some of the local waysides. I started at Washington Road, then went through the Recreation Ground and across to Christopher Way before coming back home via the New Brighton Road Junction and the Railway Wayside.
The Greater Burdock at the end of the path from Washington Road by the recreation ground is looking good, though no flowers as yet.

Coming along the path I noticed another substantial plant between the two bridges, which could well be another Greater Burdock.

The grassland behind the bowling club on the recreation ground is really looking very good having a variety of grasses and flowers, all packed into a small area.

There is an excellent showing of Lesser Stitchwort

Of the grasses I had two firsts of the year with Timothy and Creeping Bent both showing well, along with Sweet Vernal Grass and Yorkshire Fog which have been out for some time. Here is the Timothy.

Several Meadow Browns were attracted by the variety of nectar sources.

Further north, I found my first Meadow Barley of the year in the usual spot near the gate to the pony field.

It would certainly be a pity to see this nice grassland engulfed by the progressive advancement of the Blackthorn scrub. For its size, I reckon this is the best piece of grassland in Emsworth. On the main mown grassland I came across a clump of a what I think are Hairy Buttercups.

Following my request to Havant Borough Council in early May that the cutting of the small section of grass verge at the northern end of Christopher Way where the Wild Clary grows should be delayed until the end of the growing season, I was delighted and relieved to find the verge uncut and the plants standing tall and already setting seed. Hopefully, the seeds will spread to other areas of the verge. There is no sign of any Wild Clary on the 'official' wayside. It's all gone.

There was nothing special on the New Brighton Road Junction wayside apart from flowering Field Bindweed, Creeping Cinquefoil and Common Ragwort.

I eased myself through the railings onto the wayside north of Emsworth Railway Station which was largely dominated by Black Medick and White and Red Clover. I also noted some Yarrow, Perforate St John's-wort and Selfheal in flower, but generally this wayside has not lived up to my initial expectations when it was first created in 2012. Most of the smaller delicate flowers have been lost as the native residents assert their authority. But that's nature for you, you can't trust it! There is an ominous growth of what looks like willow saplings at the northern end of the wayside that could take over. The Marsh Woundwort has yet to flower (if it does).

Finally, pedestrians will be delighted to see that the footpath under the railway bridge, which has been closed for months, is open again!

Geese arrive at Baffins
Eric Eddles reports that the annual migration of Canada Geese to Baffins Pond has begun with over 80 having arrived over the past week. The geese gather at the safety of the pond during their annual moult when they are flightless in June and July. My own record count was a staggering 273 in June 2003, though numbers were usually more in the region of 150.

TUESDAY JUNE 13 - 2017

Rock Rose query
I had an e-mail from Ralph Hollins this morning concerning the Rock Rose that I reported on the lower slopes of Portsdown Hill below Fort Widley on Sunday.
Ralph says, "Until this year I was convinced that the only place you could see Rock Rose on Portsdown was at the bottom of the hill slightly south west of Fort Southwick (approx SU 627 066) where the boundary fence separates the hill side from Rock Rose Avenue in the Paulsgrove estate". Ralph wondered how sure I was in my identification of the Rock Rose.
I was, in fact, fairly sure, as its flowers are quite distinctive and unlike any other small yellow plant. However, I did not take as much notice of it at the time as I probably should have done and did not take a photo. So, to clear up this uncertainty, I decided to go to the hill again this morning to check on the plants.

Portsdown Hill
I parked the car in the main observation area to the east of Fort Widley and retraced my steps of Sunday's walk, in which I had Jean for company, but today I was alone. It was scorching hot on the hill, so I opted against doing the full circuit around the fort as we did last Sunday. I stopped to admire the view across Portsmouth.

I found several Rock Rose flowers in the same spot as before at Grid Ref: SU 66077 06282. I did not see any others during the walk, so they are quite rare on this hillside. My camera does not take yellow flowers too well, so this is the best pic I could get. I also saw Hoary Plantain which I missed last time.

I was also puzzled by some tiny white flowers on the ends of straggling thin stems, well branched. I thought of Squinancywort, but don't think that is right. Any ideas?

Fort Purbrook
I stopped at Fort Purbrook for a walk along the path beneath the fort where hundreds, or maybe thousands of bright Pyramidal Orchids were in full flower, a beautiful sight. I kept looking for Rock Rose, but did not see any on this path. I spent most of my time chasing butterflies, waiting for them to pause for me to get a photo. They were mainly Common Blues, Small Blues and Marbled Whites. Small Blues typically perch with wings half open as shown in the photo on the left.

Great Black-backed Gulls
Back in Emsworth, I had a quick look at the Great Black-backed Gull nesting raft at about 12.30 where I found both chicks on the water swimming around the raft, not straying too far. I watched them clamber back onto the raft which was not an easy task. Both parents were present on the raft, apparently unconcerned.

The lady who lives in the mobile home opposite the raft told me they two chicks had been swimming for a couple of days, but never far from the raft. She also told me that two lads swam out to the raft at the weekend which disturbed all four birds, but they all returned to the raft after the lads left and no harm was done.

Meadowsweet - is now in flower for the first time this year on Brook Meadow, several days earlier than usual.

Tom's news
Tom Bickerton got this excellent image of a Common Scorpionfly on Brook Meadow about 2 weeks ago. This attractive insect is so-called because the abdomen is often upturned like a Scorpion, but it does not sting! It main diagnostic feature is the downward extension of the head to form a beak. Tom also had a Silver-Studded Blue taken at Iping Common this weekend.

MONDAY JUNE 12 - 2017

Bridge Road wayside
Wall Lettuce is now abundant under the Beech hedge by the car park, more so than I recall having seen it before. Its tiny yellow flowers only open a few at a time.

But its leaves have a distinctive shape.

The flowers are similar to Nipplewort, but smaller and the leaves are quite different. Pellitory-of-the-wall and Lesser Stitchwort are also flowering by the hedge.

Stag Beetle
Peter Milinets-Raby had a third sighting of a Stag Beetle in his Havant garden this afternoon. The beast was a wonderful looking female!

Pan-species listing Day
Peter Milinets-Raby sends the final totals for the Pan-species listing Day on Saturday in the Gosport area with John Norton.
They concentrated on flowers, which is John's speciality, and certainly had an amazing number of them. Peter thinks with a little more planning, they could have seen many more. The day was a success and basically a trial of what was the potential.
Plants = 353. Mammals = 1 (a Rabbit - they needed to start at dawn to see a few more). Birds = 32 - too much looking at the ground! Lower plants (Moss Lichens etc) = 29. Invertebrates = at least 31. Giving a rough total of 446. There are a few things still to be identified, so the total could change. Peter reflects that this total is poor in comparison with the 1,044 seen by the Sussex crew! But what an exciting day it must have been.

Here are a few of the less common things they recorded.
Burnet Moth Caterpillar . . . Fern Grass
Sand Spurrey . . . . Starry Clover

SUNDAY JUNE 11 - 2017

Portsdown Hill
Jean and I had a walk round Fort Widley on Portsdown Hill this afternoon. Starting from the main observation area we walked along the lower slopes beneath the fort before walking round the back of the fort. It was very windy and fairly chilly on the hill, but the view and the wonderful flowers more than made up for that.
We found masses of Pyramidal Orchids below the fort in full flower. The Common Spotted Orchids mainly behind the fort are going over. We found one pure white variety.

I noted lots of other flowers that have emerged since my last visit about a month ago on May 11th. These included Yellow-wort, Rock Rose, Bee Orchids, Viper's Bugloss, Wild Thyme, Wild Privet, Agrimony, Restharrow, Tall Melilot, Tufted Vetch, Rough Hawkbit.

Tall Melilot . . . . Wild Thyme

We also noted plenty of Greater Knapweed accompanied by what I assume is Knapweed Broomrape,

Wolf spider?
I put the photo of the mystery spider that I saw on the Lumley area yesterday onto Facebook. I had a reply to say it was a female Wolf Spider carrying its egg-sac. I thought the egg-sac was a white abdomen!

As to the species, I don't think it was a Nursery-web spider (Pisaura mirabilis), which I am fairly familiar with on Brook Meadow, as that one carries its egg sac underneath its body. A wolf spider that carries its egg-sac at the rear as in the Brook Meadow spider, and which is abundant and widespread at this time of the year, is Pardosa amentata, so it might be that?


Brook Meadow
Firsts for this year. Jointed Rush on north meadow. Common Knapweed and Creeping Thistle flowering on the Lumley area. Blue Water-speedwell and Toad Rush on the small path down to the Lumley Stream.

Mystery spiders with white abdomens on the Lumley area.
Can anyone help?

Pan Listing Day
Peter Milinets-Raby and John Norton had a long day in the fields recording plants for a Pan-Listing Day, keeping to the Borough of Gosport. Starting at 6am Peter had to retire at 2:15pm, but John continued. They recorded 380+ species, mostly flowers, grasses and mosses. Peter sent photos of some of the highlights. He will identify later!

Portsdown Hill east
Ros Norton reported on yesterday's walk by 8 friends of wildlife joined by one more later. They met in car park south of George Inn, Portsdown Hill on a sunny but windy morning and walked east towards Fort Purbrook area.
"We saw many insects including several small blue butterflies, meadow browns, a large skipper, large white and a cinnabar moth. On flowers were several. male swollen thigh beetles (Oedemera nobilis). Some grasshoppers, crickets and a female broad bodied chaser dragonfly were seen.

Birds included jackdaws, robins, a rock dove, a buzzard, jay, song thrush, blackbirds, swifts, swallows, wood pigeons, wrens, black headed gulls and 2 adult kestrels flying with young in the fort.

Highlights among the flowers were the many pyramidal orchids near the fort.

There were also some common spotted orchids and a bee orchid. Other flowers included common gromwell, aquilegia, mouse-ear hawkweed, rough hawkbit, creeping cinquefoil, sainfoin, vipers bugloss, red valerian, wild carrot, rockrose, marjoram, dogwood, hedge bedstraw, cleavers, bladder campion, milkwort, self heal, rosebay willowherb, birds foot trefoil, black medick, greater and black knapweed, dog rose, tufted vetch, thyme, crosswort, agrimony, hemp agrimony, yellow wort, quaking grass, flax, smooth sow thistle, herb bennet, yarrow, white bryony, meadow vetchling, woody nightshade, knapweed broomrape, mignonette, rest harrow and bramble.

FRIDAY JUNE 9 - 2017

Millpond News
I walked through Brook Meadow down to Peter Pond where I stopped for a chat with Dan Mortimer and his wife outside their house in Lumley Road. I admired their 'beach garden' which is quite unique in the area, covered with pebbles and exotic plants and grasses. In the centre is a piece of driftwood sculpted like two figures which came all the way from New Zealand!
It was on this garden that I saw my one and only butterfly of the morning, a Small Tortoiseshell. What a beauty!

Over on Slipper Millpond, the two Great Black-backed Gull chicks were moving around on the south raft with one of the parents keeping an eye on them from its perch on top of the nest box. The Mute Swan family with 6 cygnets was also on the pond, but well away from the gull raft.

Sea Couch and Pineappleweed are now out on the Dolphin Quay wayside.

Note about Pineappleweed - The flower head is dull yellow cluster of florets to look at, but crush it between your fingers and it gives off the most delicious pineapple-scented smell. I can't resist it. Stace and Crawley: 'Alien Plants' describe Pineappleweed as 'the most common and widespread neophyte in the British Isles'. Neophyte means an alien plant that has been recorded in a wild state since at least 1500. I gather it was introduced into cultivation in this country from its native E. Asia by 1781 and was first recorded in the wild in 1871. So, it has been with us a good while and is fully integrated into our floral community.

Bumblebee correction
Bryan Pinchen wrote to say that the Bumblebee identified by Eric Eddles in this blog on June 7th as Bombus humilis was in fact Bombus hypnorum - the white tail against the black of the abdomen can be clearly seen, despite the angle of the photograph. Humilis is an all over bright ginger, almost reminiscent of a brand new teddy bear. Humilis is also, sadly now a scarcity across the country, although it does still occur on Portsdown Hill. Bryan recorded it there during surveys in 2014 and 15.


Chichester Peregrines
I had a look at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds stall behind the Chichester Cathedral cafe which had its usual web cam monitor trained on the Peregrine nest. There are 4 chicks hatched 5 weeks ago and all are doing well. They should fledge in a week or so. Here is a digiscoped photo I got of the female adult perched high on the turret using my phone through the society's scope.

See the live link to the nest camera at . . .

Nore Barn News
Roy Ewing had a swarm of bees in Nore Barn today. Quite dramatic. I gather beekeepers will come along and remove a swarm of Honey Bees which can be quite valuable.
See the following web site for more details . . .

Roy also had a Stag Beetle in his back garden.

Regarding Anne de Potier's recent report, Roy says there are actually 15 Southern Marsh Orchids to the west of the Selangor path, compared with 7 last year. These were not planted, but have reappeared following our cutting of scrub and a few trees over the last couple of years. Just shows what letting in a bit of light can do!

Mullein correction
Ralph Hollins says the long stalked single flowers on the east side of Peter Pond are Moth Mullein not Great Mullein, as I thought.


Brook Meadow
A very windy morning for my walk through the meadow. Some birds are still singing, though many like Robin will now have gone quiet during nesting. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Wren and Blackbird were all singing.

Swollen-thighed Beetles (Oedemera nobilis) - just love the large white trumpet flowers of Hedge Bindweed. In this shot on the left two males look as if they are facing up to one another. Note: only the male has the swollen thighs. On the right is a hoverfly - probably Syrphus ribesii - feeding on a buttercup.

Hedge Woundwort - is now flowering generally around the meadow. It has very attractive flower spikes, almost orchid-like in quality. Creeping Thistle is almost there with buds ready to burst into red flowers on the Lumley area.

Ground-elder is in flower alongside the path in the north-east corner of the meadow. I think this is the only place where this interesting plant can be seen flowering on the Brook Meadow site. As an umbellifer it boasts clusters of white flowers, rather like Hogweed, but the leaves are totally different. It is a well known troublesome weed in gardens, but is welcome here on Brook Meadow Nature Reserve. It is not a native plant, but was probably introduced during the Roman period as a vegetable rather like spinach. The name comes from the similarity of its leaves to that of the true Elder.

Remote Sedge - is now showing spikelets on the path through Palmer's Road Copse near the south bridge end. This is the only place you can see this interesting sedge on Brook Meadow, though there are masses of it in Hollybank Woods.

Slipper Millpond
The two Great Black-backed Gull chicks were on the south raft with one of the parents. Both chicks look healthy and were flapping their wings when I was there, so I assume it will be not much longer before they take their first flight. The adult in this shot is demonstrating just how it is done. There is still no sign of any Coot chicks anywhere on the pond which suggests they have been taken by the gulls.

The Mute Swan family with their 6 cygnets were snoozing on the mud at the top of Dolphin Lake by the Chequers Quay houses.

Plants flowering on the east side of Slipper Millpond include Hemlock and Wild Carrot.

Great Mullein is in flower on the east side of Peter Pond. Or is it Dark Mullein?
CORRECTION: Ralph Hollins says the long stalked single flowers indicate this is Moth Mullein.

Stag Beetle
Peter Milinets-Raby responded to the request in yesterday's blog from Anne de Potier for any sightings of Stag Beetles with this one in his Havant garden. It was the second Stag Beetle he has seen over the last 4 days and was the bigger of the two. Peter has only ever seen one before in the garden, which was several years back.

Eric's news
Eric Eddles sent me a couple of photos taken during his daily walk around Baffins Pond. The first is clearly a Harlequin Ladybird larvae. Eric says the second is a Bumblebee called Bombus humilis. It is a cracking photo, though Bryan Pinchen's guide to Bumblebee ID cautions that the three ginger Bumblebees are easily confused: humilis, pascuorum and muscorum.

Bumblebee correction - Bryan Pinchen wrote to say that Eric Eddles's Bombus humilis is Bombus hypnorum - the white tail against the black of the abdomen can be clearly seen, despite the angle of the photograph. Humilis is an all over bright ginger, almost reminiscent of a brand new teddy bear.

Eric has also identified the fly feeding on the Great Burnet flower in yesterday's blog. It is a Common flesh fly - Sarcophaga carnaria. Here is one that Eric took recently (left photo) and mine on the Great Burnet (right photo). I notice one difference. The spots are on the thorax in my photo, but on the abdomen in Eric's. Is this significant?


Orchid counts
I had a look at the orchids in on the north meadow (orchid area) and the Lumley area this afternoon. I don't think there will be any more Southern Marsh or Common Spotted Orchids in either area. Both species are now generally well past their best, but it has been a good year for them both with record counts as indicated below.

As for Bee Orchids, the conservation group discovered several more of these in both areas during Sunday's work session. However, with the grasses and other vegetation growing fast I think it will be difficult to find any more. So, here are what I think will be the final counts for 2017 with the north meadow and Lumley area counts in brackets: Southern Marsh Orchid 31 (26 and 5), Common Spotted Orchid 16 (9 and 7), Bee Orchid 12 (9 and 3).

Southern Marsh Orchids continue their gradual but steady increase in numbers from the 2 that were originally planted in 2007. The total of 31 is still modest in comparison with other local sites, such as, Southmoor, Langstone which has up to 10,000 and Fishbourne Meadows which boasts around 500.

Common Spotted Orchids showed a large increase this year, more than doubling last year's total. Again, the total is relatively modest, but this year's rise indicates promise of better things for the future!

Bee Orchids were up on last year, but well down in the record of 29 in 2015. The problem is finding these orchids which are smaller and less striking than the other two and tend to flower later when they are buried beneath a mass of grasses. So, the counts are highly likely to be below the actual number of plants flowering on the meadow.

Other Brook Meadow observations

Great Burnet - flowering and attracting insects on the orchid area. However, there seems to be far less of this attractive plant than in previous years. I could only see a single cluster of about 10 plants near a Meadowsweet. Last year I counted a total of 62 flowering plants.

Meadow Vetchling - flowering for the first time this year on the Lumley area with the added bonus of a male Common Blue butterfly feeding on its flowers. This is a rare plant on Brook Meadow.

Common Knapweed and Red Bartsia are also just starting to flower on the Lumley area. They should be very prominent in a few weeks.

Plicate Sweet-grass - This delicate and attractive grass is showing better than I can ever remember seeing it along the new path on the east side of the south meadow by the Gooseberry Cottage bund. My vote goes for this as the grass of the year for Brook Meadow.

Meadow Brown - I had my first Meadow Brown of the year on the Lumley area.

Small Tortoiseshell - I happened to come across this beautiful butterfly sheltering from the strong winds in the long grasses near the ground.

Great Pied Hoverfly (Volucella pellucens) - I found two specimens of this attractive hoverfly on the meadow this afternoon, both feeding on the flowers of Hemlock Water-dropwort. The name "pellucid" literally means translucently clear because , apparently, if you catch this hoverfly in a certain light you can see right through its middle! It gets its common name from its black and white colouring, though my fun name for it is Belted Galloway after the cow with a white band across its middle! The larvae of Pellucid Hoverflies live inside the underground nests of common wasps.

There is one other hoverfly in the UK with a cream band around its middle Leucozona lucorum which has a different pattern of wing veins. I am not really sure how to distinguish these two, though Volucella pellucens is more common so I went for that. Maybe someone could help?

John's Corrections
John Norton provided the following corrections to blog identifications.
1. What I thought looked like Fat Hen on the grass verge in Chichester on May 30 is in fact Fig-leaved Goosefoot Chenopodium ficifolium. Note the distinctive leaf shape with one big middle lobe and two forwardly pointing small basal lobes. Not quite a fig-leaf shape though! It is fairly common on turned over ground and usually can be found wherever there is a good quantity of Fat Hen. It may mark where there was a patch of bare soil on the verge.


2. The hoverfly with the white rear end that Chris Oakley had in his conservatory on May 29 was Volucella bombylans. It comes in at least three colour forms, each resembling a different bumblebee - this one being similar to a white-tailed bumblebee.

Anne's news
Anne de Potier reports two items of good news:
1. Orchids are now visible again in the damp ground adjacent to the Selangor footpath following recent management and grazing. She saw 2 Southern Marsh orchids and there is an increasing show of Ragged Robin since last year, plus a beautiful display of grasses and other vegetation. Note: this is the footpath leading from the main Havant Road opposite Selangor Avenue down to Nore Barn Woods.
 Anne has twice recently encountered a flying Stag Beetle in West Road when cycling home at about 8.45pm. Does anyone else see them elsewhere in Emsworth? 


Warblington Bee Orchids
I had a quick look at the verge at the Warblington roundabout to check on the Bee Orchids. The mowers had been out, but they had given the Bee Orchids a miss. Brilliant. The notices I put on the verge not to cut have worked! They were fully open and looking splendid. I counted roughly 60+ flowering spikes. Here are just a few of them.

For earlier observations go to . . . May 16-31