JUNE 30 - 2017
I had a truly
delightful walk down the Hayling Billy Line this
morning. I started at the northern car park and did a
circuit to include the Oysterbeds lagoon and mound.
But, take care, you need to be constantly on the alert
for unheard cyclists coming from behind.
There were masses of
colourful flowers beside the main track, including
Greater Knapweed, Hedge and Ladies Bedstraw, Centaury,
Yarrow, Hogweed, Mugwort, Field Scabious,
Pineappleweed, Field Bindweed, Traveller's Joy, Teasel
and Chicory. Rough Hawkbit - with forked hairs on
Bird's-foot Trefoil? This did not look like standard
Common Bird's-foot Trefoil, so my thoughts went to
Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil or even Greater
Here are a few photos
of some other flowers.
Knapweed - Field Scabious - Pineappleweed - Field
Horehound - Teasel (first flowering) - Evening
Primrose (old escapes) - Chicory
(some mighty clumps on the mound) - Common Centuary -
Rough Hawkbit (forked hairs) - Common Bent
I had a close look at
the umbels of the Wild Carrot plants that I came
across. The first one I saw close to the car park had
several large white umbels, each one of which had a
red central flower. However, for the rest of the walk
the central red flowers were scarce.
Here is a close-up of
the central flower. Does it have a function?
constantly present, particularly Meadow Browns and
Marbled Whites. I was pleased to catch up with my
first Gatekeepers of the year and another possible
Essex Skipper with black clubbed antennal tips. This
is two possible Essex Skippers in two days at two
sites. I must get them checked.
Marbled Whites -
everywhere, but none would stop! Ringlet - I saw just
area is as always at this time of the year a cacophony
of noise, mostly from the nesting Black-headed Gulls,
though their numbers are going down as the chicks
fledge. Here is a view of the lagoon taken from the
mound showing the main nesting island and the tern
raft with Langstone Harbour and Portsmouth in the
An RSPB notice states
that the Common Terns on the raft seemed to have been
very productive and they have high hopes for fledging
soon. So, everyone is urged to 'keep your eyes
I did not have my
scope with me, but I used my Lumix TZ70 camera to zoom
in on the birds (up to 60x). The best place to view
the tern raft is certainly from the spit at the far
end of the lagoon near the harbour. This photo shows
Common Terns on the raft along with several small
chicks which I assume are tern chicks. The presence of
an adult Black-headed Gull suggests gull chicks are
there too. I think the little brown bundle near the
blue rope are the Black-headed Gull chicks.
Here are a couple of
older Black-headed Gull chicks.
The Common Tern chicks
can probably be seen more easily on the short video
clip on YouTube
Go to . . . https://youtu.be/2HvZLGyKmOU
The absence of
the Council weed sprayers has allowed a good variety
of wild flowers to flourish along Bridge Road where I
live. The huge Hollyhocks are still going very
well after 3 weeks in flower. I am sure people enjoy
having to walk around them as they go past.
Less spectacular is
the Greater Plantain that I have growing on the
pavement outside my own house. This is sometimes
referred to as 'rat's tail' after its very long flower
Milinets-Raby was back at Langstone Mill Pond for an
hour from 1:50pm with the tide slowly moving in.
He says, "After three
weeks of nothing too exciting to report, today, felt
like the first day of autumn! Off shore on the mud,
were the first waders for a couple of weeks. One
Redshank, 2 Whimbrel and 18 Black-tailed Godwit.
On the pond were 2 Swallows feeding 6 juveniles, that
were perched in the Alder trees in the reeds and
allowed me to get real close for some photos.
However, the birds
soon dispersed when one of the adults gave an alarm
call and on looking up I observed an adult Peregrine
drifting over. It carried on drifting south to Hayling
Other species of note were a single Swift flying over,
along with 8+ Med Gulls, plus 3+ singing Reed Warblers
with two seen and photographed, a female Blackcap
(looking like a migrant, with it's iPad open
consulting "Trip Advisor").
I counted 38 Little
Egrets and 8 Grey Herons (most of these were
juveniles). And, finally the Mallard that had three
ducklings in tow ten days ago, now only had two, and
the female with eight, was nowhere to be
had to rescue this Fritillary butterfly from a cobweb
in his utility room. It went straight out to a
buddleia bush and stayed around for quite a while.
Chris left me to identify the species. Thanks!
Fritillaries are not easy, but this one looks like a
Silver-washed Fritillary, particularly as Chris
mentions its large size.
had a walk around Havant Thicket today and saw lots of
butterflies, including Meadow Browns, Ringlets,
Commas, Silver-washed Fritillary, Skippers and a White
Admiral. Brian also had a what he described as a Red
Deer. Hmm. That looks to me like a Roe Deer. Any other
JUNE 29 - 2017
I had a look
around the wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway
Station this morning. The embankment adjacent to the
access ramp was a riot of colour with many wild
flowers in full blossom. This photo is looking up
towards the ramp railings.
Plants in flower that
I noted included Marsh Woundwort, Hedge Bindweed,
Great Willowherb, Creeping Thistle (purple and white
varieties), Hedge Bedstraw, Bramble, Perforate St
John's-wort, Perennial Sow-thistle, Common Ragwort,
Wild Carrot, Black Medick, Red Clover, Bristly
Ox-tongue, Oxeye Daisy, Common Knapweed, Common
Toadflax, Common Fleabane (1st of year), Common Vetch,
Tufted Vetch, Pendulous Sedge. Here are a few photos
of the main culprits.
Fleabane, Great Willowherb, first Blackberry, Bristly
- These attractive flowers, which are so
distinctive on this site, are now popping up all along
the main embankment adjacent to the access ramp.
Interestingly, they appear to have disappeared from
the southern area of the wayside where I counted over
200 flower spikes when the wayside was set up in 2012.
I would estimate there were about 50 spikes on the
wayside today. They are as good to look at as any
- The long blade-like ovipositor indicates this is
a female, though it does not strike me as being fully
developed. Maybe, it is still in one of its nymph
Essex Skipper -
is easily confused with Small Skipper. But I am fairly
sure this is an Essex (fingers crossed) as its
antennal tip is black underneath and distinctly
clubbed. The antenna of the Small Skipper would be
more tapered and orange underneath.
Other butterflies on
the wayside: Marbled White, Meadow Brown.
I popped down
to the town millpond to have a look at the broken
sluice gate near the quay which meant the pond was
empty of water. A chap from the Environment Agency was
present and he explained that the hinges holding the
round gate had broken and had been removed for repair.
He hoped the gate would be functioning by the weekend
as the sailing club had an event on the pond requiring
He pointed out a
number of crabs that had collected on the inside of
the wall near the sluice.
A gathering of about
50 Black-headed Gulls were having a whale of a
time on the muddy foreshore beneath Emsworth quay, no
doubt attracted by the myriads of tiny fish being
swept out with the tide.
Swan pair was on the pond with their 6 cygnets
growing fast and looking healthy. Haven't they done
The two Great
Black-backed Gull chicks, not yet fledged, are
still on the south raft with one of the parents. It
will not be long before they fly. The chicks are
snoozing on the right side of the raft.
caterpillars - feasting on the Common Ragwort on
the east side of Slipper Millpond. That's one reason
why this plant should not be pulled. It is also
valuable as a nectar source for a number of other
Wild Carrot -
is in flower generally around the area. There are some
particularly nice flower heads on the east side of
Slipper Millpond which is where I took this photo of
an open umbel with its distinctive central red flower.
- The first flowers of this attractive plant are now
showing on the Hermitage Bridge overlooking Slipper
Millpond. Soon there will be a glorious yellow glow on
Bulbils are now showing on the east bank of Peter
Pond, with some already sprouting into life.
Hoverflies (Episyrphus balteatus) -
were making good use of the nectar supplied by the
Bindweed and Sow-thistle flowers.
Hoverfly (Volucella pellucens) -
This little fellow with a distinctive white band
around its middle (like the Belted Galloway cattle)
was so busy feeding on a Hogweed umbel that I was able
to get fairly close for a photo.
Cherry Plum and
Alder Buckthorn on the causeway both have
Egrets nesting at Langstone Mill Pond
I had a
request for information about Little Egrets nesting on
Langstone Mill Pond from Helen Crabtree the regional
organiser for the British Trust for Ornithology. I put
her onto Peter Milinets-Raby who knows more about the
birds of Langstone Mill Pond than anyone else! I quote
Peter's useful response for information.
"The nests etc. are
very hard to observe after late April when the foliage
grows and obscures the view. There are a few Little
Egrets nests remaining visible at the moment and young
can be seen. However, as a short summary there were 42
to 44 Little Egrets nests in late April and I suspect
all were successful.
The Grey Herons start breeding in January and were in
full swing by late March. Photo of the ten nests that
were occupied this year.
Observing ALL these
nests today is impossible! Though, in fact there was
an eleventh nest started after this date, which has
young in it at the moment, so does Nest 10. However,
these juveniles are on the verge of fledging and will
be gone in a few more days.
I have full details of how successful each Grey Heron
nest was if you require this information, but I do not
bother to count the Little Egrets success rate as the
foliage makes it virtually impossible to keep track
and I have noticed over the years that young Little
Egrets like to wander from their nests at an early
The breeding season is almost over now with quite
large Little Egret young loitering around. By mid July
there will only be a handful left."
is a cracking photo of a Purple Emperor
popped over to Havant Thicket on Sunday and saw one
perfect male Purple Emperor butterfly on the ground.
Tom continues . . . "It was ready to be photographed,
but unfortunately it coincided with a mass of people
and dog walkers walking past, so it took fright high
up into the oak, never to come down again. To say I
was annoyed is an understatement, they could see what
I was doing. Hopefully, someone will manage to get
some images soon for publishing. So, many people
though there on Sunday.
by Tony Wootton at Bentley from my files
Tom added, "If coming
from the Castle Road along the main track, it dips
into a hollow, there's a triangle of sallow and oak,
the big oak on the adjacent side. That's a good spot
to start, but it's the oaks on the right hand side of
the triangle opposite the sallow where I see them. The
other place is in Bell's Copse along the path leading
north to Waterlooville, but I find that less
Lots of White Admirals too on the path leading to the
Harvester from the Thicket's car park. Good numbers of
other species too. Broad-bodied Chasers and Large Red
Damselflies on the pond, with Common Blues.
Sparrowhawks which nested last year behind the pond,
didn't use the same site."
JUNE 27 - 2017
Jean and I had
a stroll around Stansted arboretum this morning,
before the forecast rain set in - though it did
actually not materialise until much later. We walked
up the long avenue to the seats at the top where we
rested for a while admiring the view.
On the way, we spotted
three huge black birds perched on posts in the large
fields to the south which must have been the family of
Ravens that Michael Prior had told us about. I think
he said two pairs had nested successfully on the
estate. Here is one of the birds that I captured from
quite a distance, possibly a juvenile calling to its
around the walled garden, I spotted an unusual
grass/sedge growing on the edge of the path leading to
the Dutch garden. I think it looks rather like the
American Galingale (Cyperus eragrostris)
which Ralph Hollins pointed out to me many years ago
in Juniper Square, Havant (22-Sep-2006). I wonder if
that plant is still there? The stem shooting off to
the left in the photo is a bit puzzling. Is this
American Galingale was
originally introduced as a garden plant into Britain
from its native South America in the 19th Century. It
has escaped into the wild and has become naturalised
mainly in the south of England, but apparently is now
spreading northwards. It is also called Pale Galingale
. . . see . . . http://www.naturespot.org.uk/species/pale-galingale
I found my
first Spear Thistle of the year in flower on
the main path by the river.
I think this handsome
fellow is a Volucella hoverfly - a large
bumblebee or wasp mimic. The larvae develop in the
nests of social wasps or bumblebees where they are
scavengers or parasites. The adults are often found on
flowers. I think this specimen could be
Volucella bombylans which is widespread
and common in Britain and is distinguished by its
dense hair and feathery antennae.
reported a pair of Black Swans were seen on Ivy Lake
at Chichester with three newly hatched cygnets on June
24. Keep a look out for them. Remember the family of
six Black Swans which were in Emsworth Harbour from
Jan 27 until Mar 11 earlier this year.
provided some interesting information about the
footpath through the old Marina Farm near the
Deckhouses Estate, the state of which I was
complaining about in this blog on June 22. Alan is a
volunteer footpath inspector in the Southbourne parish
and confirmed that the footpath through the old marina
farm yard is indeed a public right of way (PROW) and
goes down the track shown in my photograph and through
the gate into the old stable yard.
walkers to go down the path outside the fence (by
locking the gate) would be acceptable and cause no
complaint provided it was viable and kept clear but
the legal PROW is along the track. As long as the gate
is left unlocked there is, obviously, no issue for
West Sussex County Council. Interestingly, the
alternative track from Thorney Road to the harbour
wall, about 20m further South, which most people use
because it is much more pleasant, is NOT a PROW. I
inspect all the paths once every 15 months and if
there is ever an issue with access WSSC are very good
at dealing with it. The path outside the fence to the
south of the yard which is now blocked by overgrown
vegetation, is not the official path.
Thanks Alan for clarifying the situation.
JUNE 22 - 2017
On the left is
Black Bent with closed panicle and on the right with
I had another
look at the Bent Grasses that I discovered yesterday
in the south meadow, on the Bramble path next to the
Gooseberry Cottage bund. The size of the grass up to
100cm with panicles about 20cm leaves me in no doubt
that is Black Bent (Agrostis
gigantea), the largest of the Bents. Its large
size probably allows it to survive among the tall
vegetation along this path. It also has flat furrowed
slightly rough leaves and long toothed ligules. I have
found it in this spot in previous years, but nowhere
else on the meadow. Like many other plants this year,
the flowers are about 2 weeks earlier than before.
Hard Rush is
fairly numerous after the heat wave over the past few
days. They included dozens of Meadow Browns plus my
first Ringlets and Large Skippers of the
year. The Ringlets are not easy to separate from the
Meadow Browns, but generally they are smaller and
darker. I managed to get photos of them both, though
not brilliant. The next butterflies to appear on the
meadow should be Gatekeepers and Small Skippers in a
week or so.
afternoon, parking at the junction of Thornham Lane
and Thorney Road, I walked through the old Marina Farm
which has been derelict for some time - at least a
year. The footpath through the site is probably the
most inhospitable in the area. I am unsure whether
this path is a public right of way. Maybe someone can
The original path to
the south of the site is totally inaccessible, but the
metal gates are unlocked so one can follow the path
that way. This neglect has benefited wildlife and the
entrance drive has a fine selection of wild flowers
including Scentless Mayweed, Docks, Common
Fleabane, Selfheal, Common Ragwort, Teasel and Opium
Poppies plus my first Wild Carrot of the year.
I also spotted a
couple of Swallows flying around, so it looks as if
they are back nesting in their traditional home.
At the end of the
path, a pair of Coot with one chick was on the
deckhouses pond. Coming back along the old NRA track,
I found Corky-fruited Water-dropwort and
Tufted Vetch in the hedgerow.
I had a quick
look at Slipper Millpond this afternoon. The two
Great Black-backed Gull chicks were on the
south raft with one of the parents. Both looking
healthy and stretching their wings. They must be very
close to flight.
has spoken to Mr Huxham, the owner of the fields on
the east of Westbourne Ave this morning (Thursday). He
has not sold the field yet. Natural England is doing a
wildlife survey and until that is completed nothing
Clive added that the
map of the flood zone that Sarah Hughes sent for last
night's blog is very inaccurate. The floodable area
includes the A27 which is 4 metres above the fields.
Which means that most of Emsworth in the New Brighton
area would flood! Clive has raised this several times
with various authorities but they have not corrected
the map. As everything is now done by satellite I
think that someone at the DoE who drew the map and was
not familiar with the area interpreted the A27 as
being in a cutting rather than an embankment. Do you
see what I mean? Yes, that makes sense, Clive!
Dave Lee visited the
Record Office in Chichester this afternoon to look at
the latest large scale ordinance survey map that they
had. It showed that some of the development area is in
West Sussex, so clearly they will also have an
interest in any planning application.
Dave watched as two representatives from Hampshire
Homes, the potential developers of the fields, walked
round the fields yesterday evening. Today, Dave met an
'affable young man' (presumably an ecologist) checking
the nesting survey boxes. He said that the field
conditions were very good for Dormice nesting. Let us
hope so! I told him that there was at least two that
had been vandalized.
Milinets-Raby did some pond dipping in his garden and
discovered what he thinks are male and female Smooth
Newts. He would appreciate confirmation.
Peter also had a
surprising find of what looks like a skeleton of a
found an impressive number of Orchids on the entrance
road to Havant B&Q, on the left hand side as the
road bends to the right mostly Pyramidal Orchids. On
the right hand side opposite are mostly Common Spotted
Orchids. Probably several hundred of each type. He
also had Marbled White butterflies on the left hand
side as well, a bit further round as you enter the
goods yard, enjoying the Tufted Vetch. Let's all go to
Here is a photo I
took of Colin's photo in the newspaper.
is an occasional contributor to this blog with his
superb photos. Well, today he reached a national
audience with a cracking photo in the Daily Telegraph
showing a Grass-snake swimming across a pond at
Thursley Common with a damselfly (probably Azure
Damselfly) on its head. What a nice surprise amid all
that doom and gloom. Well done Colin.
of the blog will remember Sue Drewett who used to live
at the top of Long Copse Lane in Emsworth. Sue was an
active member of the Hampshire Wildlife Trust and was
deeply interested in wildlife. Sue and husband Ray now
live in a little Dorset village called Yetminster and
they have just taken over the management of a small
wildlife verge in the village. Knowing that I have
been involved in a similar conservation enterprise
here in Emsworth with the waysides project, Sue got in
touch asking for advice. She also sent me a number of
photos showing the verge and its plants. Here is a
photo of the verge which has a nice wall at the back
and a seat on the far left.
The verge already has
a good variety of wild flowers living on it and I have
suggested to Sue that they leave it as it is for a
year or two at least and not attempt to plant anything
else. There are so many plants living happily there,
it would be a pity to disturb them with any
unnecessary introductions. All they need to do is mow
it at the end of the growing season, remove the
arisings and enjoy it. It is also important to get
local residents involved, or at least keep them
informed about what is going on, so that the verge
becomes a community project that people can feel part
of. A little notice would help indicating that this is
a wild flower conservation verge with a contact for
further information. Sue and Ray also wish to identify
the plants that live on the verge and wall. That is
brilliant. Also, the other wildlife that will visit
the verge, insects, birds, etc. As these will vary
throughout the year, so a survey needs to be done
several times. It will be interesting to see how the
verge progresses and I have asked Sue for updates from
time to time.
JUNE 21 - 2017
It was really
much too hot for a person of my age to go wandering
around, but I needed some wildlife therapy, so I had a
very gentle afternoon walk through the meadow, seeking
shade wherever I could find it. I sat for a while on
the main seat which was in the shade and nice and cool
contemplating our beautiful meadow.
There is a nice
display of the hybrid grass called x Festulolium
loliaceum right in front of Beryl's seat on
the east side of the north meadow. Right beside it are
its two parent grasses, Perennial Ryegrass and Meadow
Fescue. Here is Meadow Fescue.
Walking down the old
Bramble path on the east side of the south meadow. I
came across a nice growth of one of the Bent-grasses,
but I have not decided which one. Most of the panicles
were not open, which suggested Creeping Bent.
The first of the year on Brook Meadow.
There is a mass of
Water-cress now growing in the river, hiding
most of it from view. The area north of the S-bend
contains some particularly tall plants. Blamey, Fitter
and Fitter say it can grow to 60cm or more. Some of
these were certainly more.
is what is under threat. A very popular walk from
Emsworth to Westbourne.
to Westbourne fields
provides extra information about the fields
1. The County Border follows the old river Ems which
is now no more than a ditch. That is the boundary
hedge of the field on the eastern side.
2. There is a 20" gas main under field about 25yards
from the properties that back on to the field. Whether
it is still in use as the gas holder has gone I do not
3. A Mr Huxham owns the fields he lives the
other side of Brighton. He lets Mr Green a farmer in
Westbourne graze cattle on it.
4. Sadlers the builder when he built Nos 66, 68, 70,
72, 74 and 76 also brought a "ransom strip" 25feet
wide at the bottom of their gardens.
5. The Department of the Environment has marked the
area from the footpath to the river Ems as
6. The development is not on the Havant Borough
Council Strategic development plan
My son who works in
conservation on the Isle of Wight points out that the
Westbourne fields that are under threat of development
are in the Ems Valley and this waterway drains into
Chichester Harbour which has the highest national and
international environmental designations - Ramsar,
SAC, SSSI, LNR etc. Any development would need to be
able to demonstrate that it would have no impact on
the quality of the habitats and species on which these
designations are based. So we would have Chichester
Harbour Conservancy on our side as well.
Sarah Hughes wildlife
officer with the Chichester District Council added
that the site is in the Flood Zone where no housing
should be built. The site is also listed as a mineral
site, however at the present time there is no
permission to extract. Sarah has highlighted the site
to West Sussex County Council ecologist, just to keep
everyone in the loop. She sent the following map
showing the flood zone.
Dave Lee tells me that
two of the Dormouse nest boxes in the fields have been
vandalized and perhaps more will be before the
exercise reaches completion.
thinks the young gull that Mike Wells saw being
attacked by adult Black-headed Gulls at Hayling
Oysterbeds yesterday looks a standard Black-headed
He says, "It is not
fully fledged yet, as the bill should be a bit pinker
and the scapulars and mantle should be a bit more
brown, but is close. It is not a Mediterranean Gull as
the scapulars have a fringing and is a lighter greyer
shade of brown. Bill a different shape too. It is not
a Herring Gull because of the thin bill, and herring
would have whiter head, black bill, more uniform
colouring all-over and big tertial steps. Black-headed
Gulls do attack each other, usually due to an
infringement over territory. This bird could have
mistakenly walked across neighbouring adults'
territories with smaller chicks which instigated the
continued attack. Can be very violent."
popped over to Havant thicket last night for the
Nightjars, they started at 21:53pm and there were two
birds. He says, take the main path from Castle Road,
one churring male was by the seat, then up the side
path (north), about 3/4 of the way another male. Tom
was slightly disappointed now with the site because of
the overgrown vegetation, what used to be the best
site he'd known for close up views is now becoming a
very difficult to see these birds. But, he thinks
Stansted Forest looks ideal with all the clearing work
being carried out. The only problem is parking with
the car parks closed, or a long walk up The Avenue
from Rowlands Castle.
Here is the only
Nightjar photo I have in my files taken by Caroline
French as the bird was sitting on a fence at Pagham
JUNE 20 - 2017
I thought the
woods might be a bit cooler on this very hot day with
temperatures around the 30 degrees mark. It was still
pretty hot, but at least the trees gave welcome relief
from the sun.
I was encouraged by
Barry Collins's report of seeing 8 White Admirals and
11 Silver-washed Fritillaries during a cycle ride
around Havant Thicket a few days ago. However, as so
often happens (just to me?), I saw just one White
Admiral and three Silver-washed Fritillaries. I
did manage to get a photo of the White Admiral high in
the trees along the centre track, but the
Silver-washed Fritillaries were active and did not
Other butterflies seen
included Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and this cracking
Red Admiral feeding on Bramble flowers.
The woods were very
quiet with little in the way of bird song, though
Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove and
Stock Dove were prominent, with occasional bursts from
Blackcap, Wren and Blackbird.
There was plenty of
Enchanter's Nightshade lining many of the
paths. I gather this plant gets its intriguing name
from its reputation as a magical plant. The botanical
name Circaea lutetiana comes from Circe
a mythical sorceress and lutetia the Roman name for
Paris where the botanist worked who named the plant.
It was good to see
typical woodland grasses such as Wood Melick, Wood
Millet and Quaking Grass along the paths together with
Remote Sedge and Wood Sedge. Here is Wood Melick, but
you really need to see it 'in the flesh'.
I also found some
Soft Rush in flower.
I looked for the
Dense-headed Heath Wood-rush which Gwynne Johnson
found many years ago on the southern path, but there
was no sign of it.
Fields under threat
is clarifying regarding the fields behind Westbourne
Avenue between Emsworth and Westbourne where the
Dormouse survey is currently taking place. I am afraid
that things look very ominous that these much loved
fields are under serious threat of housing
Clive Yeomans tells me
the Dormouse survey is being carried out by an ecology
company on behalf of Hampshire Homes Ltd. This was
confirmed by Dave Lee who earlier this evening saw a
new shiny pick-up truck parked at the top end of
Westbourne Avenue with http://www.hampshirehomesgroup.com
displayed on its side. Could there be any other reason
why they would want to know about the presence or
otherwise of Dormice in the hedgerows of these fields?
Sarah Hughes of the
Chichester District Council, who came across the
survey during the dragonfly walk along the River Ems
on Saturday, has been beavering away at this issue.
She has discovered that no planning application for
the fields had been received by Havant Borough
Council, but, of course, that does not rule out one in
This fact was
confirmed to me by Emsworth Councillor Richard Kennett
who raised this issue with his fellow Emsworth
Councillor Lulu Bowerman a couple of weeks ago.
However he says, "rest assured I/we will keep our eyes
peeled for any developments."
preparation for bad news, Sarah thinks local people
should record wildlife species (even if it's from
their garden/near to the site) and upload the
information to both West Sussex & Hants
biodiversity records centres.
West Sussex at . . . https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/
Hampshire Biodiversity Info. Centre at . . .
I forgot to
mention that I found the first Marsh Woundwort of the
year a few days ago, standing tall among the
burgeoning vegetation on the wayside north of Emsworth
Railway Station. The only place it reliably grows in
walked around Brook Meadow today and got a photo of
two Meadow Browns mating.
On to Slipper Millpond
where one of the Great Black-backed Gull chicks
was swimming around the nesting raft while the other
chick and the parent were on the raft.
Brian confirmed that the Mute Swan family is
still intact with 6 healthy looking
Brian also got this delightful photo of a Coot
feeding a chick, the first I have seen on Slipper
Millpond this year. So the Great Black-backed Gulls
did not get them all - or not yet anyway!
Mike Wells went to the Oyster Beds to see the new Tern
raft, which he thought looks a success. He was
distracted by a commotion nearer the shore line as a
young bird was being dive-bombed by dozens of
Black-headed Gulls and at one time had actually
submerged it. The gulls flew off as Mike approached
and he got some photos of the poor victim. He was not
sure of the species, but thought it looked larger than
a Black-headed Gull.
One can't judge size
from Mike's photo, but certainly one cannot imagine
Black-headed Gulls attacking one of their own. My
guess is that it is a young Herring Gull that strayed
into the Black-headed Gull colony and was definitely
not welcome. Any other thoughts welcome.
Yesterday, Mike Wells
took a very warm stroll on Farlington Marshes and got
a couple of amusing photos. He thought the Coot photo
could be entitled "only a mother could love them!"
Mike also watched this
Whitethroat processing an item of food which
eventually hung on a strand of tenacious body fluid,
JUNE 19 - 2017
I had a walk
around the fields between Emsworth and Westbourne
behind Westbourne Avenue this evening and established
conclusively that the Dormouse survey nesting tubes go
right round all the fields. Previously, I had
overlooked the boxes on the west side of the fields at
the end of the Westbourne Avenue gardens. I think the
total number of boxes is 85. Here is number 13 that I
found attached to a Horse Chestnut tree.
Clearly this is a very
serious Dormouse Survey. If, as seems highly likely,
this survey is a precursor to housing development,
then I hope local residents rise up against it. I
lived for 30 years in Westbourne Avenue and have
walked these fields many hundreds of times with my
children over the 49 years I have lived in Emsworth.
To lose these fields would be a local tragedy.
I have been in
correspondence with Sarah Hughes (Community Wildlife
Officer with the Chichester District Council) who has
checked on the planning portal to see if any
application has been made, but there are no details of
any development proposed on this site. But Sarah
thinks it may be that a developer is undertaking
surveys prior to putting in a planning application, so
it would not be on their radar yet. Sarah has
contacted Havant Borough Council and is waiting a call
back. As soon as she has further details/update she
will let me know. Meanwhile, fingers crossed all
round. Maybe, the odd Dormouse will save our fields?
While looking around
the fields this evening I was impressed with the
variety of grasses in the southern field by the A27,
including Crested Dog's-tail and Timothy. A smashing
Red Fox raced across the field near the river
and stopped briefly by the motorway fence for me to
get a photo. I hope it does not try to cross that
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this morning
for an hour from 9am. He says it was a wonderfully
warm morning. The highlights were as follows:
"On arrival the first bird I saw was a female
Mandarin Duck (the first I have seen on the pond).
It was showing really well, until the pair of Mute
Swans chased it away and ten minutes later I could not
relocate it!. They totally knew it was not one of the
regular Mallards. Or maybe the Swans were getting
jealous of me ignoring them totally and photographing
this new stranger! The photo where the bird was
looking at the water (mirror, mirror) was prior to the
bird dunking itself underwater to catch something. It
was a half-hearted dive, but nowhere as efficient as a
Tufted Duck for example.
Other stuff present
were 2 male Tufted Duck and a single female, 2 singing
Reed Warblers, 2 singing Chiffchaff, the Cetti's sang
just the once (still lingering), Blackcap still
singing and a Whitethroat was singing from the rear of
the horse paddock. Lots of young Little Egrets
knocking about (30+) and 12 juvenile Grey Herons
Over the pond were 7+ Swallows and 2 Med Gulls and off
shore flying around as the tide dropped were 2
We have a
magnificent display of Hollyhocks growing in a gap
between the pavement and house wall in Bridge Road
where I live. I have been keeping a beady eye on them
for some while just in case some council official
decided to chop them down. I have consulted with my
neighbour whose house they adorn and he is quite happy
that they should remain. And here they are for us all
Hollyhocks are popular
garden plants, but they grow well in the wild as
evidenced from these specimens on the pavement in
Bridge Road. According to Stace and Crawley: 'Alien
Plants', they have been around since the Middle Ages
(14th Century) and were well known as aliens to early
In response to
my request for any local Cuckoo hearings this year
Mandy Baines e-mailed to say she has heard three. One
on Thorney Island, one near Christopher Way, Emsworth
(west) and the other in Westbourne.
I happened to meet Pam Phillips this morning who told
me she had also heard one on North Thorney. So they
regular Thorney Cuckoo seems to have arrived, but none
JUNE 18 - 2017
I had a visit
from Dave Lee (a Brook Meadow volunteer) this morning.
Dave lives in the new houses at the top of Westbourne
Avenue and regularly walks in the fields at the back
of the houses. He was concerned to see a number of
boxes tied to hedgerows in the fields behind
Westbourne Avenue which he feared could indicate a
wildlife survey prior to housing development. I said I
would have a look at them myself and get back to
I had a walk through the fields this (very hot)
afternoon and confirmed Dave's observation. I counted
a total of 26 boxes tied to Hawthorn bushes along the
eastern boundary to the fields as far as Westbourne.
The ones I saw were numbered from 49 to 75, though
there may well have been more (ie numbers 1-48) that I
missed. Here is number 56 as an example.
I recognised them as
nesting tubes which are used in Dormouse surveys. The
tube consists of two parts, a black plastic
rectangular tube (about 10ins long) and a wooden
'tray' insert. One end is open with a small platform
and step. Dormice are attracted to make nests in these
tubes and these nests are used as indicators of their
presence in the habitat. The boxes, which were all new
and securely taped to the trees, clearly represent a
serious survey. But for what purpose?
They could be part of a scientific wildlife survey by
one of the wildlife organisations. I will try to find
out more from Sarah Hughes (Community Wildlife Officer
with the Chichester District Council) whom I met
yesterday on the dragonfly walk, though I am not aware
of Dormice ever having been reported in this area.
However, they could be associated with the development
of the land for housing. Local planning authorities
are required by law to assess the impacts of any
proposed development on Dormice, so the boxes could
have been put in place by a local ecology consultancy.
See . . . https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hazel-or-common-dormice-surveys-and-mitigation-for-development-projects
Dave told me he had written to his local councillor
asking for more information. If anyone knows anything
more please let me know. In the meantime, it is
important that the nesting tubes are not disturbed or
damaged in any way. Dormice are a legally protected
species and only a licensed handler is allowed to
check the boxes.
BTO report that tagged Cuckoos are already on their
way through France towards their wintering grounds in
Africa, reminded me that I had not heard one calling
this year. Nor have I had Cuckoo reported to me for
the blog. I realise I do not get around as much these
days, but nevertheless this is somewhat surprising as
we usually hear one over Lumley or at North Thorney.
Has anyone heard Cuckoo locally?
The BTO report of tagged Cuckoos leaving the UK is at
BTO also reports that
Mallard numbers have hit a record low. See . . .
JUNE 17 - 2017
I joined about
15 other people at 10am in Palmer's Road Car Park for
a dragonfly walk organised by Sarah Hughes the
Community Wildlife Officer with the Chichester
District Council. The walk was led by entomologist, Dr
Alison Barker. I introduced myself to Sarah and
indicated that I would only be staying for the first
part of the walk through Brook Meadow. I gave out some
Brook Meadow Conservation Group leaflets and pointed
out the interpretation board. The group stopped on the
south bridge, but (somewhat surprisingly) they did not
see anything from there.
improved as the group went up the main path by the
River Ems where both Banded Demoiselle and Beautiful
Demoiselle were seen. I think Large Red and Azure
Damselflies were also seen in this area. This photo
shows Alison Barker (in the white hat) explaining the
breeding habits of damselflies on the main river path
on Brook Meadow.
What looks like a male
Beautiful Demoiselle was the only damselfly I managed
to capture over the river. Or was it a Banded
I left the walk at the
Seagull Lane gate and the rest carried on towards
Westbourne. Sarah Hughes left me her card and
indicated she would like to keep in touch with the
Brook Meadow Conservation Group and help in any way
possible with wildlife and conservation issues.
to the rescue
came to my rescue with photos of two plants that my
point and shoot camera could not cope with. Fairy Flax
(which I saw on Portsdown Hill) and Hairy Tare (which
I found by Peter Pond, Emsworth).
provides more information about Starry Clover which
was found by John Norton and Peter Milinets-Raby
during the Pan Species Listing field day in Gosport on
June 10. Here is Peter's photo of this unusual plant.
Ralph says . . .
Clover is described in Stace's Flora as .. "Introduced
but naturalised since at least 1804 on shingle at
Shoreham in Sussex but seen infrequently as a casual
elsewhere in south Britain." The find at Gosport was
presumably one of the casual appearances of the
species, but for the fullest description we have a lot
of information on the British Marine Life Study
Society website at its page on Starry Clover. An
interesting feature of this plant is that it only
develops its striking star shaped calyx segments in
its fruiting stage so the flowering clover looks very
different from the fruiting stage."
This seems worth
keeping an eye out for at Hayling and Eastney beaches.
on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife
See the web page for the report and photos . . .
earlier observations go to . . . June