JULY 31 - 2017
I had a stroll
around the meadow in late afternoon sun. Very peaceful
with tall plants swaying in the breeze. There were
lots of insects on the umbellifers, including these
two hoverflies. The large one on the left looked like
a Hornet mimic, but I think it is Volucella
inanis. The small one on the right looks like
Myathropa florea. But please correct me
if I am wrong.
I also spotted this
cracking female Common Darter.
And could one wish for
anything better than to come across a bright and fresh
Red Admiral resting in the warm sunshine on a
leaf. It is truly amazing to consider that this
beautiful insect has just flown across the English
Channel to be with us on Brook Meadow.
and Hemp Agrimony are now in flower and I
brought a few springs of the latter back for my desk
The Hemp Agrimony was
attracting Bumblebees, like this white-tailed chap,
probably Bombus terrestris.
is out on the east side of the Lumley area. It is
always late flowering. Not easy to photograph.
The young Oak tree on
the east side of the north meadow has a great crop of
acorns, many of them are distorted by Knopper
In the same area, the
Rowans are covered in juicy red berries, no
doubt the local Blackbirds and Thrushes are watchful.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon ahead of the high tide (3:15pm for an hour).
The highlights were 98 Redshank off shore with 8
colour ringed (four of them were new to him). B+B//OO
B+B//WO B+B//RY. B+B//WW (Very dirty white, these two
rings). B+B//RB B+B//YW B+B//NG. Redshank
colour-ringed sightings should be forwarded to Josh
Nightingale . . . email@example.com
Peter also saw 13
Black-tailed Godwits with one colour ringed G//R+BG.
This Godwit has been a regular wintering bird in the
Emsworth area since Sept 2010, but this is the first
sighting this 'autumn'.
Also around were 3
Common Gulls, 2 Med Gulls, 6 Mute Swan, 2 Greenshank,
a Whimbrel and a single Common Tern. On the pond were
30+ Little Egrets and the female Tufted Duck still had
Ken and Romney
Turner have what they call 'the twins', medium same
sized animals, on their feeder every night now tucking
into dried mealworms, seedhearts and now a small ball
They added, "Curiously enough, they eat everything
else first then come back for the mince when they have
walked off a full belly. We happened to look out much
later last night at 11:30 and the big one tried the
feeder but others had scoffed the lot so he got a
couple of titbits and cleared off. Needs to get there
around 9pm like the others, early Hedgehogs get the
worm or whatever else is on offer."
JULY 30 - 2017
Sorry, no chance
of a photo, but here is Romney Turner's photo of
Hedgehogs in close proximity taken recently.
When I opened
my front door at 9.30pm yesterday evening, I was
surprised to hear a loud snuffling coming from the
path in front of the window. I got a torch out to have
a look and found two Hedgehogs rubbing up against each
other, but not fighting. I called Jean and we watched
them for about a minute before one made off round the
side of the house. What were they up to? Were they
males confronting each other? Or was this courtship.
I sent a report of the
Hedgehogs sighting to Caroline French, our local
Hedgehog expert, who thought it sounded like courtship
behaviour, especially with the snorting sounds, which
are made by the female. Normally, the female will keep
turning her rear end away from the male who will
persist, sometimes for several hours until mating does
(or doesn't) occur! Caroline sent a link a video on
YouTube showing typical courtship behaviour in
Hedgehogs which was exactly like we saw last night
with the male circling around the female. See . . . .
Concerning the sexing
of Hedgehogs, Caroline says it is difficult without
picking them up and looking closely. However, males
are bigger when fully grown, as in the above
A couple of nights ago Caroline saw a quite a small
hedgehog in her garden. Although independent, it must
be one of this year's as it is too small to have
survived the winter.
took this photo of the two magnificent Tree of Heaven
trees in the grounds of the Waterside Church in Bath
Road. They are very prominent landmarks and are
currently at their best. Chris notes the trees are
have bunches of crimson 'whirligigs' seeds similar to
extoled the value of pavements as a habitat for wild
flowers. He sent me this photo of Nursery Close, where
he counted six different wild flowers.
Bridge Road, where I
live, has a similar adornment of wild flowers along
the edge of the pavement. I counted 13 different
species in a small section near my house alone - a
sign that that dreaded council spraying teams have not
been round this year (yet). Let's hope they stay well
away, pavement plants are a joy to behold. We also had
a magnificent display of Hollyhocks on the pavement
outside number 1 Bridge Road until fairly recently,
though they have now gone over.
JULY 29 - 2017
Milinets-Raby took advantage of a fine morning before
the rain to do his first survey of the autumn of birds
along the coast from Emsworth to Warblington. The
first of many during the winter I suspect. Peter
covered almost all the area from Emsworth Harbour to
the shore off Pook Lane 7:50am to 10:17am - tide out
and dropping further. His sightings were as follows:
Beacon Square from
2 Greenshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 62 eclipse
plumaged Mallard feeding on the freshly uncovered mud,
1 Little Egret, 2 Whimbrel, Lesser and a Great
Black-backed Gull, 2 Green Woodpecker, 23+ Goldfinch
flock with a single Linnet in it.
2 Little Egret, 4 Whimbrel, 1 Shelduck, 81
Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Turnstone, 5 Common Tern,
Lesser and a Great Black-backed Gull, 5 Greenshank,
two of them in the pond outflow, one with rings.
W//R+LN - Peter said he had not seen this one
before and the combination of rings did look
unfamiliar. So, I consulted Anne de Potier, who now
keeps the colour-ringed Greenshank records. Anne told
me that W//R+LN was ringed at Farlington in September
2013, but she does not think anyone has seen it until
this autumn, when she saw it roosting on the Deeps on
24 July! So, done Peter.
Astonishingly this was Peter's 43rd ringed bird
recorded in the area! As he says, it just goes to show
how many pass through the area in the migration
periods and linger during the winter months. And, of
course the number of un-ringed birds could be 40+
again! 14 individuals were seen just today!
Millpond - 5 Coot.
Nore Barn from
4 Greenshank (YO//- + -//YY) - A regular Nore Barn
bird, 1 Shelduck, 3 Whimbrel, 33 Black-tailed Godwit,
11 Mute Swan, 2 Little Egret, 3 Lesser Black-backed
Skylark heard singing, 3 Stock Dove, 1 Jay, 1
Kestrel, 1 Buzzard, 1 Swallow,
3 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 2 juvs. 1
Common Tern, 1 Common Gull,
And loafing around on the mud were an impressive
gathering of 142 adult Mediterranean Gulls (in various
stages of moult) with 40 fresh juveniles!
A lovely Willow Warbler in the Tamarisk Hedge provided
Off Pook Lane:
A further 2 adult Med Gulls with 7 more juveniles,
3 Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Little Egret in
the trickle of water in the channel, 1 Stock Dove, 2
Common Gulls, 1 very handsome summer plumaged Grey
Plover - very smart!
JULY 28 - 2017
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon 1:20pm for an hour. Tide pushing in to high.
"Autumn certainly feels in the air at the moment with
drizzle and lots of waders around." His report
Off shore were: 78 Redshank (-//B+ B//OL & -//B +
B//GL & -//B + B//YW), 5 Greenshank, 1 Ringed
Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Common Tern, 4 Ad &2 Juv Med
Gulls, 3 Common Gull, 1 Kestrel. 1 adult summer Great
Off Conigar Point: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Tern,
2 Med Gulls.
On the pond: 64 Little Egrets loitering - about 10
still on nests, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swan, Female
Tufted Duck with 7 tiny ducklings (First seen on 25th
July and today, so still doing well - breeding
confirmed again at the pond).
JULY 27 - 2017
through Bridge Road car park this morning I spotted
two notices (presumably erected by Jane Brook who now
runs the waysides project) informing us that in the
next 2 months the wayside will be cut by Havant
Borough Council. Arisings will be left for a while to
allow the seeds to drop before they are raked up. That
is good news as the Bridge Road Wayside has been
disappointing this year and needs an early cut.
I had another
look at the southern experimental cut area on the
north meadow where I found one new flower for this
area Selfheal. This takes the total of plants
in this small area to 25, nothing special, but a lot
more than one would find in the surrounding
wilderness. I have recommended to the conservation
group that they should repeat this regular
experimental cutting regime in other areas, which they
have agreed to consider.
I was delighted to see a Bittersweet plant
climbing up an Elder on the side of the main path
through the south meadow. It had flowers, green and
There were lots of
insects feeding on the flower heads of Hogweed, mainly
house flies, red soldier beetles and hoverflies. Here
are photos of the two most common hoverflies I saw on
the flowers. The one on the left side in the photos I
think is the familiar Marmalade Hoverfly
(Episyrphus balteatus), though I was
not aware (until now) that it was possible to separate
the sexes in the field. This looks like a female which
has clearer abdominal markings than the male.
The hoverfly on the right side in the photos could be
Syrphus ribesii (no common name) which
is also fairly common on Brook Meadow.
A sharp shower of rain
interrupted my insect watching. I sheltered for a
while under trees near the seat, admiring the meadow
while listening to Sarah Vaughan singing 'What a
lovely day to get caught in the rain' on my iPhone!
Hawk-moths galore in gardens
reports Hummingbird Hawk-moths have been seen in a
record number of gardens so far this season,
particularly in the south and east of England. They
were seen in 2% of gardens in June compared to an
average of 0.5%.
See . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-52M45-3UEDCR-2QAAYA-0/c.aspx
For the annual
patterns of garden sightings see . . .
do not normally over-winter here, and the population
is replenished each year by new migrants. As such,
numbers can vary considerably from year to year. It
has been particularly warm this June in eastern parts
of England - more than 2.5°C above average
according to the Met Office - and warm air drawn up
from the south may have helped to carry them to our
shores. These moths are often seen hovering like a
hummingbird over plants such as Viper's Bugloss,
Buddleia and Red Valerian, to collect nectar. Our main
season for sightings is June-September, so keep an eye
out for them!
I have just
heard from Martin Rand, our local BSBI Plant recorded
for S Hampshire and my mentor on all matters
botanical, that he will be undergoing medical
treatment for the next 5-6 months. This is likely to
put him out of action for some of the time, so Martin
asks us to be patient if we don't get very timely
responses to e-mails. Good news, is that he expects to
be back 'on all cylinders' by Snowdrop time next year!
We shall be thinking of you, Martin. Get well soon.
JULY 26 - 2017
is one of the Hedgehogs coming for food.
Ken and Romney
Turner had the very unusual experience of watching a
pair of Hedgehog apparently fighting. I will leave
Romney to describe the experience in her own words.
put the food out and went to look if anyone was
noshing, a lot of shrubbery was moving and out tumbled
two medium sized Hedgehogs. They were nowhere near the
food yet but the action was fast and furious, I
thought maybe mating prelude. However it soon became
clear that the evenly matched pair were both pushing
and shoving before one got a mouthful of spines and
proceeded to drag, shake, pull and push the other in
and out of shrubs, under the low Spruce and all over
the slate border.
I was worried they would kill each other and got my
'big hands' in an attempt to break them up, they did
not appear to even notice me. It went on and on with
me shining a torch to try and put them off but I could
see that even when one let go the other did not run
away and I could see no blood or injury so eventually
went in to get my little camera to grab these pics.
fight did break up with them scuttling off in
different directions but just because they were
exhausted, they took no notice of me taking flash
pictures at all. We have seen up to six Hedgehogs in
the garden visiting our small feeder tray and the two
medium ones are none the worse for the scuffle. They
seem to tolerate each other at the moment. The very
large mum or dad does not bully the smaller or medium
ones so life is peaceful again. I can see where some
of them have daytime nests and am minimising
disturbance whist sorting the paths but they have not
been put off. They clean up under our bird feeders and
visit our neighbours for different food nightly,
sometimes using the holes in the wall we left for them
to use years ago. I am in the process of writing an
essay on Why I love my garden so will definitely
include this episode. So lucky."
Well, well. What a
story that makes. But what was going on? A bit of
internet research revealed that although Hedgehogs
generally are peaceful animals, they do occasionally
'fight', though this is never serious as they dont
have sufficient weaponry in the way of teeth to cause
physical damage. Most commonly fights occurs between
males in the mating season. There are several videos
on YouTube showing scuffles rather than full blown
fights. Maybe Romney's Hedgehogs were two adolescents
testing out their masculine strengths. Does anyone
else have any explanation?
JULY 24 - 2017
I had a stroll
through the meadow this afternoon. The ground remains
dry despite the rain we had had over the past couple
of days. Here are a few observations.
Water Mint -
first flowering of the year on the centre meadow. This
is a bit earlier than usual, as it is usually into
August before I see the first flowers. I love the
aroma of this plant as I walk through the long
Spider - I
watched this spider weaving its orb web for several
minutes, taking photos as it happened. It did not look
right for a regular Garden Spider (Araneus
diadematus), with lighter colouring and no
obvious cross. I would appreciate some help.
- A spider type of creature with very long legs (aka
'Daddy Longlegs'). They have eight legs like spiders,
but do not spin webs and don't have venom. They also
have a single body with the thorax and abdomen fused.
I spotted this chap scuttling through the long
grasses. It hardly stopped for a moment.
Here are three of the
butterflies I saw on the meadow - Gatekeeper ,
Common Blue and Ringlet, plus a
Meadow Grasshopper which stopped long enough
for me to snap it. The Gatekeeper had wings closed
showing the white spots which are almost translucent,
more like holes than spots.
I sent Bryan
Pinchen photos of three insects that I saw feeding on
Creeping Thistles on Brook Meadow yesterday. Here is
The first one is in the genus
Chrysotoxum, but without seeing it from
above and getting a better look at the abdominal
markings Bryan can't put a species name to it,
although it's probably C. cautum.
Ralph Hollins suggested Chrysotoxum verralli
for this fly and referred me to a page of
photos at . . . https://www.flickr.com/photos/63075200@N07/sets/72157629675450723/
Bryan says the second
insect, is the hoverfly Volucella
zonaria (aka the Hornet mimic), it has more
dark yellowish suffusion on the wings than V.
inanis, and has an overall broader more
The third (which I
actually got right!) is the Conopid fly
Physocephala rufipes, they parasitise
solitary and social bees and wasps, this is one of the
more widespread and common of the species.
JULY 23 - 2017
I had a walk
around the meadow late this morning before the rain
set in. The meadow was remarkably dry despite
yesterday's heavy rain. I was OK walking with normal
Bristly Ox-tongue seems to have had a very good
year. It is particularly abundant on the north meadow
where it is the dominant species.
leaves are now huge in the area below the seat.
Well loved by kids as 'green' umbrellas.
I had a close look at
the two experimental cutting areas on the north meadow
where there are now a good number of flowers on show.
I will suggest to the conservation group that this
experimental cutting strategy could be repeated in
other parts of the meadow to uncover seed banks which
otherwise might never get the opportunity to grow into
flowers in competition with the tall coarse grasses.
There were also lots of Meadow Grasshoppers jumping
around in the short grass and Bumblebees on the
flowers indicating a good wildlife habitat. Of the two
areas the southern is the best so I decided to do a
count of the more obvious species I could find in this
area. The total was 23, nothing special, but good to
find. I will continue to monitor.
I spotted three
unusual insects feeding on Creeping Thistles near the
Lumley area. I will check them out with Bryan Pinchen.
See tomorrow's blog for Bryan's verdict.
JULY 21 - 2017
has cleared up the mystery of the white Creeping
Thistles (Cirsium arvense) on the
wayside on the north side of Emsworth Recreation
Ground near the fence. These plants with pure white
foliage, which are mixed in with perfectly normal
plants with green foliage, have puzzled me for several
years. In fact, I saw them again only yesterday, but
did not bother to get a photo. Here is a photo taken
earlier this month (10 July).
John says the lack of
colour in the plants is caused by a bacterium called
Pseudomonas syringae pv. tagetis - a
fairly new infection, first recorded in Kent in 2003.
I gather Creeping Thistles can also be affected by a
rust disease called Puccinia
punctiformis which causes the plants to go
spindly and a pale green in colour, but not white.
I assume the Creeping Thistles with pure white
flowers, but otherwise normal, are not affected in
this way. Maybe these just old flowers going over?
This photo was taken on the east bank of Slipper
Millpond. There are also lots on the wayside north of
Emsworth Railway Station.
John says that these white flowers are just a genetic
variation in the same way that one can find white
flowered Bluebell and Self Heal. Nice find
JULY 20 - 2017
completely forgotten about the regular 3rd Thursday in
the month workday on Brook Meadow, so I was naturally
quite surprised to find some volunteers just
completing their morning tasks when I arrived at about
11.30am. As there were only 5 volunteers they
restricted the jobs to clearing and tidying up some of
the paths. I took a few photos before they finally
packed up at 12 noon.
I was pleased to hear
from Jennifer Rye that the group will be employing
Martin Cull to carry out an early annual cut of the
grassland once the payment situation with Norse gets
sorted. Cutting and clearing early will remove the
maximum nutritional value in the arisings and reduce
the amount of nutrients returning to the soil through
decomposition. Less accumulation of soil fertility
equals more flowering herbs and less grass.
While I was on
the meadow I saw three Green-veined White butterflies
on the main river bank, the first I have seen this
year on Brook Meadow. These will be the first
emergence of the summer brood which is more numerous
than the first brood in spring. The upper wing
markings are always heavier on second brood
The one on the left side photo looks like a male with
a single black spot in the middle of its forewing. Or
can I see a hint of two spots through the nearest
wing? The butterfly in the right side photo is showing
only its underwings, but it could be a female, which
has two spots on the upper wings.
The Green-veined White
caterpillars feed on Water-cress among other things,
which probably account for the presence of the adults
today near the river where there is an abundance of
Burdock is just coming into flower on the Seagull
Lane patch opposite the tool store.
The tall flower spikes of Purple Loosestrife
are now showing above the other vegetation in the
river just south of the north bridge.
I had a stroll
around some of the local waysides this afternoon,
starting inWashington Road. On reaching the end of the
path to Emsworth Recreation Ground I was dismayed to
find the magnificent Greater Burdock plants that were
just starting to flower when I visited last week, had
been mown out of existence. Gone, not a trace left
apart from strimmed chippings on the ground. I hope
there is a good seed bank in the soil to allow the
plants to regenerate.
I cheered up
considerably when I spotted several other Burdocks on
the pony field over the wire fence. I slipped through
a gap in the gate to check them out. From the
flat-topped arrangement of the flowers they are almost
certainly Greater Burdocks as Lesser Burdocks have
their flowers in a spike-like clusters. This field
which used to be used for grazing is abandoned and is
largely covered in Common Ragwort. Lets hope it stays
like this. Grid Ref: SU 74601 06478
I had this nice
verge at the northern end of Christopher Way where the
Wild Clary grows has not been cut. Most of the Wild
Clary has now set seed, though I did find some fresh
late flowering spikes. I collected some of the seed
for use elsewhere.
JULY 19 - 2017
Black-backed Gulls nesting records
A pair of
Great Black-backed Gulls have nested on one of the
rafts on Slipper Millpond, Emsworth, for the past 6
years - 2012 to 2017. As far as I am aware this is
unique for this area. Here is a summary of the nesting
Year 2012 - A
pair of Great Black-backed Gulls nested for the first
time ever in Emsworth, on the centre raft on Slipper
Millpond in 2012 producing two youngsters.
Year 2013 -
They nested again on the centre raft in 2013 producing
Year 2014 - In
December 2013 the Slipper Millpond Association decided
to deter the gulls from nesting due to their predation
of other avian inhabitants on the pond, notably Coot.
To achieve this the three rafts on the pond were
covered with wires, but this did not put the birds off
and they nested again successfully in 2014 rearing one
Year 2015 -
They were back again in 2015 and nested successfully
on the centre raft hatching three chicks, but all
three were drowned when they fell from the raft, much
to the distress of the parents! So, this year's
nesting was unsuccessful.
Year 2016 - The
two gulls returned again to the pond in the spring of
2016. They nested on the centre raft again and
produced three chicks of which two youngsters
survived. One mature juvenile was seen dead on the
raft in July, from unknown cause.
Year 2017 -
They were back again in 2017, but, very surprisingly,
were ousted from their usual central nesting raft by a
pair of Canada Geese which nested there temselves and
produced a brood of 5 goslings. The gulls settled down
on the smaller south raft and hatched three chicks of
which two survived and fledged by early
For more details about
the nesting plus lots of photos go to the specially
dedicated web page on this web site at . . .
Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond
French shared some of her recent wildlife news and
photos with us.
She writes, "The Cockchafer Beetle was on a
dead rose head in our garden on 19th May. It was the
first I've seen, although they are apparently quite
common having recovered from over-use of pesticides in
the mid 20th century (Buglife website).
The Brown Hare was one of six in a weedy
stubble field near Stansted. They are clearly finding
plenty to eat here.
The male Bullfinch
and male Yellowhammer were on farmland at
Ramsdean, near Butser Hill.
Gull is the latest addition to our garden
avifauna! This is the first year I have heard Herring
Gulls in north Emsworth. This one is immature but
there have been two around all summer and I wouldn't
be surprised if they breed nearby next year if they
can find somewhere suitable."
I too have noticed
many more gulls flying around the gardens in my area
in South Emsworth this year. Black-headed Gulls often
swoop down to snatch any bread I throw out, but I have
not had a Herring Gull.
JULY 18 - 2017
was in Stansted Forest today and got what for me is a
unique photo of a pair of Silver-washed
Fritillaries mating. I think the butterfly on the
right of Brian's photo with the broader dark scent
lines is the male. What a photo! Brian also got a more
mundane White Admiral at Stansted.
was on Brook Meadow yesterday and got a photo of a
female Common Darter - an increasingly common
dragonfly on the meadow. He also managed to snap one
of the Meadow Grasshoppers in between hops.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon (1:53pm to 2:35pm - low tide). The highlight
was the first returning Greenshank to this
stretch of the shore (an un-ringed bird).
"Loafing on the mud by the pub were 33 adult Med
Gulls with one fresh juvenile and on the island
out in the channel were a further 16 adult Med Gulls.
Definitely feels like autumn! Amongst them were 5
On the pond were 2 female Tufted Duck (Have not seen
any evidence of breeding this year) and surprise,
surprise, an early returning Little Grebe. I counted
36 Little Egrets still loitering with intent with
saw a single Black Swan with a group of 11 Mute Swans
this morning, in the channel between Emsworth and Nore
Barn woods. She wonders where it has come from. Who
knows? There are quite a few of them around the local
area. We had a group of 6 in Emsworth Harbour from Jan
27 until Mar 11 earlier this year.
I posted the
photo of the mystery flower that I found on Brook
Meadow yesterday onto Facebook where I got the answer
I was expecting - Hedge Mustard
(Sysimbrium officinale). I have never
seen one that small before, but all plants must grow!
breed at Farlington
News that at
least one pair of Avocets have, for the very first
time, nested and hatched young on the Farlington
Marshes reserve was revealed on the Solent Reserves
blog posted on July 12. Four pairs attempted to breed
at but most of the eggs and young were taken by Crows
and Buzzards. The photo on the blog shows at least
See . . . https://solentreserves.wordpress.com/
earlier observations go to . . . July