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A community web site dedicated to the observation, recording and protection of the wildlife of the Emsworth area

Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day (Ralph Hollins)

Please send wildlife observations and photos to Brian Fellows . . . brianfellows at


for August 2012
in reverse chronological order

 For earlier observations go to . . . July 16-30




Jean and I walked round Gunner Point and along the beach on West Hayling this morning. The highlight of the walk was the Wheatears - at least 20 - that were flying around the beach and perching on the golf course fence and on beach bushes like this one with Ryde on the Isle of Wight in the background.

These birds are now on migration from their breeding grounds further north and on their way to the wintering grounds in tropical Africa. Hayling Island is always a good place to see them on passage.

There were also plenty of Swallows flying around, occasionally perching on the golf club fence feeding youngsters.


Common Blues


We saw several species of butterfly during the walk, including Large White, Red Admiral and some tatty Meadow Browns. But Common Blues were certainly the most numerous, feeding on the rapidly diminishing sources of nectar on the beach area.


Fragrant Virgin's Bower Clematis flammula

 Walking down the footpath from the beach to Ferry Road alongside the golf course we came across a mass of highly aromatic scrambling white flowers with thin petals.

Martin Hampton thinks it is Clematis flammula which is scented. It is also known as fragrant virgin's bower.

Wikipedia adds: It is native to southern Europe and northern Africa, but it is cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant in gardens. The woody vine bears fragrant white flowers and small green achenes. When the flowers are newly opened they have a strong sweet almond fragrance. The vine grows in a tangled mass that is heavily sprinkled with flowers throughout the warmer months. It is popular with gardeners as a decoration along fences and trellises, or as ground cover. If the vine has no other plants or structures to climb on, it will climb on itself, forming a large, densely tangled bush. The plant sends out many shoots and can reach over five meters in height. It is sweet-smelling but poisonous. In some areas, this species has become a nuisance after its introduction. It is a weed outside of gardens and landscaped areas. Clematis flammula var. maritima is a hardier variety that is adapted to sand dunes. It is currently being studied as an agent of soil stabilization on eroded sandy beaches.





Mystery grass

Ralph Hollins came across a mystery grass on the Conigar Point field of Warblington Farm, which has recently had its wheat harvest cut. I went over to have a look for myself this afternoon. Ralph's grasses were scattered around the field, but mostly at the edges and looked very fresh.

I pulled up a couple and they came up quite easily with a few shallow roots and no obvious rhizomes or stolons. The panicle was cylindrical rather like Timothy, but not so large and far more regular in length at 4-5cm. The spikelets were fresh green and awnless and looked nothing like those of Timothy or Meadow Foxtail. The ligules varied, but were generally short and ragged. I looked through my copy of Cope and Gray (Grasses of the British Isles) without finding anything like it. One thought I had was that they might be a new growth of Wheat which was the harvested crop of the field.




Tony Wootton was on the west side of Thorney Island this morning and got some photos from between the Little and Great Deeps. 'Silver Y Moth, a spider building a nest, two pics of a female common blue, a small copper, small heath and a dragonfly. Tony thought it could be an Emperor or a Southern Hawker. It looks a bit like a Common Hawker to me.




Malcolm Phillips was back on Brook Meadow this afternoon and captured this nice image of a Meadow Grasshopper - a very common insect on Brook Meadow in high summer.




Chris Cockburn reports on the state of the breeding seabird colonies:

At the Hayling Oysterbeds, there has been no loss of chicks by predation or territorial attacks over the last 5 weeks. Results at Oysterbeds, so far: Oystercatchers - 3 nests produced 1 fledged youngster (probably the only one in the harbour this year). Black-headed gulls - 28 nests produced 63 fledged youngsters (many from broods of 3) - compare with earlier 67 from 1000+!. Common terns - 49 'apparent' nests counted earlier; but later monitoring gave only 18 nests with hatched chicks (mostly singles but 5 doubles); given the weather conditions this year, it is likely that some of the 49 were having me on!; however, up to 5 weeks ago, there was significant predation by crow on 'north' island. Assuming no disasters, the breeding season should end around mid-September when most of the common tern fledglings will start their journey to W Africa without any intensive training in flying and food-catching skills.

The harbour-islands' breeding season ended in 3rd week of July (as per normal) with 12 black-headed gull fledglings and 2 Mediterranean gull fledglings - there were no fledglings for Sandwich, common or little terns, oystercatchers or ringed plovers.


Great Black-backed Gulls

I spotted two juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls in the low water channel close to Emsworth Marina this afternoon. They are most likely to be the ones from the Slipper Millpond nest. So they are still hanging around. There was no sign of the adults, though I did see one adult back on Slipper pond last Sunday along with a juvenile.

House Martins

Paul Cooper sent an update on the House Martins nesting in his Funtington house (but not this year - previously reported on June 20): "Although birds never returned to nest on our house for the last few days there have been 20-30 martins almost constantly flying over our garden and Lynch Down; at one point last weekend there were up to 100. Presumably they are gorging on insects prior to migrating. Hopefully they will return to nest next year." Thanks Paul and keep in touch.



Great Black-backed Gulls are back!

When I went past the pond this afternoon I spotted two Great Black-backed Gulls, one adult and a juvenile on the south raft. They were almost certainly from the family that nested here, but probably just on a nostalgic visit and not to stay. Here is the juvenile looking very fine in its developing plumage.


Roesel's Bush-cricket


Malcolm Phillips went around Brook Meadow today and captured this image of a Roesel's Bush-cricket with the distinctive green sweep around the pronatal flap showing well. The only previous sighting of this insect was in June 2010 by entomologist Bryan Pinchen.


Grey Dagger Moth


Jill Stanley found this caterpillar scaling the wall of her house in north Emsworth yesterday afternoon. She iddentified it as the larva of the Grey Dagger Moth. She says it likes to feed on willow, hawthorn, and blackthorn, of which she has none in her garden!


New Zealand Pigmyweed


I asked Martin Rand about the plant that I found in a New Forest marsh on Aug 22 that I thought might be Marsh Speedwell. He said it was a very invasive acquarist's throw-out called New Zealand Pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii). So much for my plant ID skills!


Nore Barn Woods News


Good news from the Nore Barn Woods Conservation Group is that all finance for phase one of the shoreline protection work has now been raised and work will commence in September. On Saturday 8th Sep there will be a Special Workday to clear the scrub along the unprotected gap.



Slipper Millpond

Coots are amazing birds. They never give up. After a traumatic breeding season due to the nesting Great Black-backed Gulls gobbling up their young, a pair are trying again in the nest box on the northern raft. It is very late in the season, but now the gulls have left, who knows? There is no nesting in the other two nest boxes on the millpond.

Golden Samphire is now in full flower both on the Hermitage Bridge and along the western path overlooking Dolphin Lake.


Waysides News


For today's news from the Emsworth waysides go to . . .





Caroline French has been caring for her local Hedgehogs. "I have been putting out dried chicken-based hedgehog food and kibbled peanuts (never whole peanuts as these can apparently become lodged in their mouths, preventing them from feeding) and water. It is all being eaten but I hadn't seen a hedgehog for some time. Last night at around 10 pm I looked out and saw an adult hedgehog feeding from the plate for at least 15 minutes. It then headed purposefully for the bottom corner of the garden where we have a wooden hedgehog house positioned behind a plastic compost bin. I had a look at the hedgehog house this morning and there are promising signs that a hedgehog has taken up residence - there are a few trails of grass as though bedding materials have been dragged there, and a certain whiff of hedgehog!

This is at least the second hedgehog to have made use of facilities in our garden this year and we are always really pleased to see them. It just goes to show that even a small garden can provide a home for these animals if you are prepared to leave a sheltered, undisturbed area for them. We also leave two or three square metres of uncut long grass which I know they make use of to search for food. No doubt any grass verges which are left uncut are also of benefit to them. A smallish wooden panel lodged securely at an angle against a fence or wall could also provide shelter for a hedgehog to build a home under - a cheaper option than buying a purpose-built hedgehog house".


Orange Swift moth


Caroline found a moth in her house in North Emsworth on the 19th Aug which she took it into the garden and released it. She thinks it is an Orange Swift moth (Hepialis sylvina).


Roesel's Bush-cricket


Yesterday Caroline was on chalk grassland near Twyford, when a Roesel's Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeseli) hopped onto her FSC Grassland Plants ID chart. Maybe the illustrations are too realistic! I always look for the green stripe around the pronatal flaps to identify this insect. What a smasher!


Brent Lodge


Caroline also provided the following information about the Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital

You can download the Summer 2012 News Update from Brent Lodge at . . .

There is a Grand Open Weekend at Brent Lodge on 25th & 26th August. Address: Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, Cow Lane, SidleshamChichester, West Sussex PO20 7LN



Yesterday (Aug 22), Jean and I stopped for a picnic lunch at Nomansland in the New Forest on our way home from holiday in Clevedon. We had a short walk through this beautiful woodland where we found masses of Tormentil flowering on the grassy areas. Quite near to the car parking area was an area of boggy ground covered with two plants including Water-pepper. The other main plant I could not identify.

New Zealand Pigmyweed - Crassula helmsii

I brought a piece of the unidentified plant home with me. It was very slender with whitish flowers and narrow opposite lanceolate leaves. I am grateful to Martin Rand for its identification as New Zealand Pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) - a very invasive acquarist's throw-out




Plants (Observations from yesterday)

Hoary Ragwort - This handsome plant is now in full flower in the orchid area on the north meadow, probably the best flowering in this particular area that I have seen. It has been able to climb above the rampant vegetation that has tended to stifle smaller plants in this area this year. Hoary Ragwort appears to have gone from other areas of the meadow where it previously flowered.

Strawberry Clover - The plants on the path round the east side of the Lumley area are now showing the strawberry shaped fruits, though not the full colour as yet.

Pepper-saxifrage - There are now 7 tall plants in full flower in the usual spot on the east side of the Lumley area. This is down on last year's total of 24 plants, though numbers do tend to vary from one year to the next. This is the only place this unusual umbellifer grows on Brook Meadow.

Marsh Woundwort - The count of these plants at the north end of the Bramble path keeps going up each time I look. Today I counted 20 flowering spikes pushing their way through the dense vegetation. But there is no sign of the Tufted Hair-grass which usually manages to push its way through the tangled masses in this spot.

Wild Angelica - The plants growing on the south meadow seem to get taller every time I walk down the Bramble path. Some of them are certainly twice my height ie a good 11 feet.




Birds are not very obvious anywhere at present as they are in moult after the end their breeding season and are generally keeping their heads down. However, Malcolm Phillips managed to catch sight of a few on Brook Meadow today including this nice Long-tailed Tit.


Other plant news (Observations from yesterday)


Narrow-leaved Water-plantain - There is currently a good flowering of Narrow-leaved Water-plantain in the Westbrook Stream below the Victoria Road bridge (south side). But generally this year, this plant has suffered from the flooding during June when most of the plants were washed away.

Michaelmas Daisies - These attractive plants are now in flower on the south bank of Peter Pond close to the A259 road. They always flower earlier on Peter Pond than on Brook Meadow where it will probably be a week or two before we see any flowers.

Common Reed - The Common Reeds are now looking quite superb with their reddish flower spikes, on the west side of Peter Pond on the path to Gooseberry Cottage. Such a handsome plant.


AUGUST 19-21 - 2012


I had the following sightings reported to me during the few days I was away from home.


Plants Flowering

Maurice Lillie spotted the following plants in flower on Brook Meadow for the first time this year on August 22.

Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea on the Seagull Lane patch. This is a regular in this area every year, but this year it is very late coming out, probably due to the clearance of vegetation by the conservation group in spring.

Amphibious Bistort - a plant which rarely flowers, though this year there are several plants with flower spikes on the edge of the path that crosses west of the Lumley area. I have also seen it out in other areas outside Brook Meadow.


Common Darter


Brian Lawrence snapped this male Common Darter on Brook Meadow on August 21. Fairly common on Brook Meadow at this time of the year.




Silver-spotted Skipper

A Silver-spotted Skipper was seen and photographed by Mike Wells at Grandfather's Bottom, behind Butser Hill. The distinctive silvery patches on the underwings are clearly visible in Mike's photo.

This is a rare butterfly which is restricted to chalk downs in southern England where it can be seen darting low over short turf, stopping frequently to bask on bare ground or feed on flowers such as Dwarf Thistle. The Butterflies of Hampshire says that a population of was introduced into the Queen Elizabeth CP in the 1990s and I assume Mike's insect derives from this introduction.


Clouded Yellow


Tony Wootton got this fine image of a Clouded Yellow Clouded yellow taken on his mobile phone, next to the Eastern Thorney security gate on 20 August. This was the first Clouded Yellow that I have had reported to me locally.




Dusky Slug?

Caroline French thinks the slug in Malcolm Phillips's photo of the Toad on Brook Meadow on Aug 16 could be a Dusky Slug, rather than a Leopard Slug.

She says it looks quite different to the Leopard Slug that she saw in Havant Thicket during a Havant Wildlife Group walk a couple of weeks ago, but does look like the Dusky Slug photo on the Defra-linked webpage. This slug also has stripes. Here is the link to this very useful page for slug identification:

Here is the photo of the Dusky slug from the web site and I agree with Caroline that the Brook Meadow slug does look more like this than the Leopard slug. However, whatever the creature was it is probably no longer with us as it was being eyed as a tasy meal by the Toad.

Dusky Slug (Arion subfuscus) is a moderate slized slug, reaching up to 7cm at maturity, and is common in most parts of the UK. It favours woodlands, hedgerows and can also be found in gardens and allotments. The body is a pale shade of brown but with darker lengthwise strips. It can look more golden in colour due to orange body mucus. It has a yellow sole and sole mucus is colourless.

Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) is a large slug - up to 16cm in length - which has distinctive black leopard like marking on its upper body. Its underside is white. It has a pronounced keel along the rear of its body. Mucus is sticky and colourless. Widespread and common in the UK favouring woodland and gardens. Low risk to agricultural crops.

Caroline also draws our attention to the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) 'Bugs Count' survey, where they are requesting sightings of Leopard Slugs. There is a map showing reported sightings so far. Caroline has already reported the Leopard Slug they saw in Havant Thicket a, although she didn't manage to successfully upload a photo. See . . .




Tony Wootton spent some time in Brook Meadow yesterday pm. It was very quiet for birds and butterflies. So he spent his time photographing insects. Here is a Meadow Grasshopper - very common on Brook Meadow. The only non-flying British grasshopper. Note its very short wings.

Tony also got an assortment of flies. Here is a couple. He thinks the black/white striped fly is a flesh fly. The green one is a Green Bottle.


Leopard Slug


Ralph Hollins was intrigued by the colour bands on the slug in Malcolm Phillips's photo of the Toad on Brook Meadow yesterday. He says. "Most slugs do not have patterns on their bodies though they may be variously coloured (same all over) but if you look at . . .

you will see a very similar colour banding on the body of the Great Grey or Leopard Slug which is our largest species (can grow to 8 ins) but is very rarely reported. I have only seen one once (Havant Thicket in Aug 2008) and the only other report is the one you published in the Wildlife Group walk report for Aug 4. Brook Meadow should feel honoured to have our native 'biggest slug'."



Conservation work session

I went over to the meadow after visiting the dentist this morning mainly to take photos of the conservation work session which was going ahead at full steam when I arrived.

It was good to see three young volunteers hard at work, Helen, Beth and Nicholas, National Citizen Service participants under the guidance of team leader, Jackie Burden. The main task was cutting and clearing the central part of the north meadow - ie the orchid area - which had become very overgrown this year with grasses and bindweed. A few islands of flowering plants and other vegetation were kept as refuges for insects and other wildlife. Hoary Ragwort and Hemp Agrimony, both in full flower, were also spared in the cutting.




On one of the islands of vegetation I spotted what I think was a female Dark Bush-cricket lumbering around. It stopped briefly for a photo before leaping off. This was our first sighting on Brook Meadow since 2009.



Malcolm Phillips sent me the following photo of a Toad eyeing up a tasty looking slug. Ralph Hollins thinks the slug could be a Leopard Slug which is our largest species (can grow to 8 ins) but is very rarely reported. See tomorrow's entry for comments by Ralph Hollins.



Malcolm also captured this excellent picture of a Holly Blue butterfly showing the black spots on its underwing, clearly distinguishing it from the Common Blue.







I had a very pleasant mooch around Fishbourne Meadows this afternoon after taking Jean over to a WI Quiz at North Mundham. I was quite surprised at how wet the ground was, quite boggy in places. Sharp-flowered Rush was far more abundant than it is on Brook Meadow with more tall fleshy leaves and bright red inflorescences. I saw my very first Amphibious Bistort in flower! There were plenty of Meadow Brown butterflies, more than I have seen for a while.


Marsh Willowherb


I was pleased at last to discover what I think was Marsh Willowherb (Epilobium palustre) flowering on the eastern meadow. The plants were fairly tall (30-40cm) with tiny pink flowers at the end of multiple branches. The plant seemed to fit all the characteristics mentioned in the flower guides; erect, slender, cylindrical stem without ridges and with appressed hairs, narrow strap-shaped leaves, small flowers with club-shaped stigmas. This was my first ever Marsh Willowherb after some false alarms in previous years. I could not photograph the plant successfully in the field, so here is one I brought home with me.


Marestail on Fishbourne Millpond


I went over to the millpond mainly to have a look at the Marestail which grows in abundance on the pond. A Coot pair had two very young chicks on the pond and a Mallard had a brood of six ducklings.

There is a huge and very handsome Gunnera plant on the side of the stream near the kissing gate leading from the meadows to the millpond. The large flower spikes are forming. Right next to the Gunnera there is a common Water-plantain (Alisma plantago acquatica) in flower. This plant has broad lanceolate leaves unlike the more scarce Narrow-leaved Water-plantain that we have growing in the Westbrook Stream here in Emsworth.

Appledram Lane (south)

I had a quick look at the Appledram Lane (south) verge. The Spiked Star-of-Bethlehem was well over, but I did spot a few remaining flowers of the Hairy Bindweed.


Silver Y Moth


I spotted a moth fluttering around in the vegetation. I did not know what species it was, but Ralph Hollins says it is what always used to be called a Gamma Moth because that mark on the wing is in the shape of a Greek Gamma. Nowadays they have Anglicized its name to Silver Y - see I should have known it as we had one recorded on Brook Meadow on June 6 2010.

They can be abundant immigrants in some years and are seen by day fluttering rapidly around in grassland - you were lucky to get one to stand still. Frequenting a range of suburban habitats, including gardens, waste ground and roadside verges, the adults are on the wing in July and August, and frequently visit the garden moth-trap. The larvae feed on a wide range of garden and wild plants.




Malcolm Phillips is back from Cuba and getting back into local life. He went round the meadow this afternoon and saw a Buzzard at the north end and on the way back got two Sparrowhawks having fun. He also saw a Moorhen that seems to like blackberries. Welcome back Malcolm.





Jane Brook and I carried out a preliminary management session this morning on the new wayside area of by the new ramp on the northern side of Emsworth Railway Station. To read about the new plants discovered on this exciting wayside and the visit of Ralph Hollins please go to the waysides blog at . . .



River bank cutting

The Environment Agency have been on Brook Meadow and have cut the east bank of the river for about 30 metres south of the north bridge. But that is all they seem to have done apart from a bit of clearance around the sluice gate. I assume they are coming back to finish the job. However, the bank they have done has been cut right down to the edge of the river, without leaving the one metre strip that the Brook Meadow Conservation Group agreed with them some years ago should be left as a refuge and feeding ground for the Water Voles.

Pam Phillips saw the E.A men arrive on Thursday morning. There were 4 of them and at 8am were just walking down the river. She called across to establish who they were and asked if they were doing their annual clearance. They replied " just doing a bit of strimming ". Pam asked if Wally knew they were there and their reply was typically vague. Pam said there are tracks down the bank in various places and they seem to have cut one branch and left it on the west bank just north of the bulrushes. She doubts they will be back and I agree. They have done this on several occasions before, just coming in, doing a 'bit of strimming' then leaving.

Wild Angelica

What has been the Hogweed show on Brook Meadow is fast becoming the Wild Angelica show as these huge plants really get into their stride. Walking up the Bramble path from the south gate you will find some giant plants already well over 10 feet tall on the south meadow.

They have smooth reddish stems in contrast to the green rough stems of Hogweed. There is more Wild Angelica on the Lumley area, though of more modest size. Both plants are a great nectar source and attract a array of insects. There are also several flowering plants of Wild Teasel along the Bramble path.



A new wayside

Terry Green (Southern Railway Manager) and Lorraine Clode (Emsworth Residents Association) agreed that the land north of the new ramp at Emsworth Railway Station should be left as a natural wildlife area and that the Friends of Emsworth Waysides should manage and maintain it. Jane and I agreed to monitor the wildlife on the site as we do the other waysides with regular litter picks. The site requires minimum management, but the spread of the brambles does need controlling.

After the end of the meeting Jane and I had another look around the site and discovered nine more plants to take the list for this site to 91. Two plants we were not expecting were Pale Flax and Common Gromwell on the embankment near the ramp. We hope we have got the IDs of these two plants correct! Advice welcome. We also located three more plants of Sharp-leaved Fluellen.

CORRECTION - Martin Rand comments

Your Pale Flax has a rather "lippy" asymmetrical looking flower and similarly rather lop-sided seed capsules - also just a few leaves from the axils of which the solitary flowers arise. I think you've got Small Toadflax (Chaenorhinum minus).

And your Gromwell, with its pairs of opposite leaves arranged each pair perpendicular to the last ("decussate"), and leafy branches arising from their axils, looks exactly like Red Bartsia (Odontites verna).

Anyway, still nice plants to have. And congratulations on your latest "acquisition". From the range of interesting plants you've got (including the Toadflax) this sounds like one you'll have to disturb from time to time if you want to keep certain things going.


I was looking back at your earlier picture of "Black Bent-grass" on the Westbourne Open Space wayside (July 30). I am wondering about this. Assuming what you meant by that was Agrostis gigantea, then the panicles look very broad, open and delicate for that species, which can occur in disturbed grassland but is more typically an arable weed and plant of open ground. I think it more likely you have Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris). These two can actually be very difficult to differentiate (especially as they interbreed)."





Nik Knight reports on his bat survey in the Brook Meadow Peter Pond area on Monday August 6th. He was acompanied by Lesley Harris from the Brook Meadow Conservation Group. "There were both common and soprano pipistrelles around us from very early on, hence the difficulty of distinguishing them with the detectors. My summary includes a sonogram showing the reverse-J shaped pulses of both of them flying together. We seem to have detected 4 bat species, including the distant bat just north of the A27 that was probably a serotine and the Myotis bats at the end. These are likely to have been Daubenton's bats but unfortunately we couldn't see them. I've not recorded so much activity at Peter Pond before."



Emsworth Railway Station North

In preparation for an on site meeting with Terry Green (Southern Railway Manager) and Lorraine Clode (Emsworth Residents Association) tomorrow morning, I did a follow-up survey of the interesting area of land north of the new ramp at Emsworth Railway Station. It looks a very promising site for a new wayside, a botanist's paradise, as good as anything I have seen before in Emsworth.

The 200+ Marsh Woundwort is still showing well along with masses of Common Knapweed, some with rayed flowers. There is a wonderful mound of mainly Redshank in flower on the northern track near the A27 road. I discovered a number of new plants that I missed last time to bring the total list for this site to 82. The most interesting find today was a single plant of Sharp-leaved Fluellen. Not a rare plant, described in the The Hants Flora as 'locally common' and found on arable land and on disturbed roadsides.





A very tall plant of Hoary Ragwort (5 feet) is in full flower on the Seagull Lane patch near the new jubilee hedgerow. I was surprised to see how much narrower the petals were than those of Common Ragwort.

The Fool's Parsley is all now in flower in this area and Stone Parsley. Right at the far end of the Seagull Lane patch are two Yarrow plants with bright pink flowers. I have a previous record of these plants in this spot in July 2003, but do not recall seeing them here since then.

Common Fleabane is flowering much better on the Lumley area this year than on the orchid area in the north meadow which is very overgrown. The south eastern corner of the south meadow has been invaded by Sea Club-rush. This is probably due to the extreme flooding of this area in winter months. I came across a fine patch of Water Mint flowering in the middle of the centre meadow, attracting lots of Gatekeepers in particular.

Giant Fescue is now flowering under the south bridge and on the Palmer's Road Copse path at its junction with the central path from the car park.

I saw a brown animal scuttling around beneath the overhang on the east bank near the north bend of the river which I am fairly sure was a Brown Rat and not a Water Vole.




Small groups of Swifts (3-4) have been feeding over the houses in Bridge Road Emsworth for the past few days. These are likely to be birds passing though on their migration to Africa.



Conservation work session

I went over to Brook Meadow this morning for the regular conservation work session. My main job was to take photos. I also pointed out to the volunteers plants that they should avoid in path clearance, e.g., Strawberry Clover, Marsh Woundwort.


Wild flowers


There are now five flower spikes of Marsh Woundwort pushing their way through a jungle of vegetation at the top of the Bramble path. I asked Wally Osborne to delay clearing this area until the autumn to give the seeds time to set.

Water Mint is now in flower above the causeway.

There is a rough, purple flowered Comfrey on the new path on the west side of the north meadow north of plantation with no 'wings' down the stem which I am fairly sure is Russian Comfrey.

Tufted Hair-grass is one of the grasses I have been looking for on Brook Meadow. There has been no sign of it on the Bramble path but today I did find what looked like dead panicles of Tufted Hair-grass on the new path on the west side of the north meadow near the plantation. The other grass I have been searching for but have not yet found is Meadow Barley




While walking over the north bridge onto the meadow I heard the shrill call of a Kingfisher and saw it fly beneath the bridge going north and perch briefly on the first Crack Willow trunk across the river before continuing its journey along the river. Pam Phillips also saw a Kingfisher flying up Lumley Road this morning. These sightings must indicate the dispersal of birds after the end of breeding. we should expect to see more as the autumn progresses.


Southern Hawker


Two volunteers and I were 'buzzed' by a Southern Hawker dragonfly along the Bramble path on the south meadow. The insect perched just long enough for us to get a good look at its handsome appearance and for me to get a photo. This looks like a female or immature.


Small Copper


A Small Copper rested on the western path through the north meadow allowing me to get a photo. Small Coppers are regularly seen every year on Brook Meadow, but not frequently. It has been recorded already this year. Butterflies missing from this year's list include Clouded Yellow, Brown Argus, Small Tortoiseshell and Painted Lady.




The report from Caroline French of the Havant Wildlife Group walk in Havant Thicket on Saturday 4th August which includes interesting sightings and photos of a Drinker moth (Philudoria potatoria) and a Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) is now on the Havant Wildlife Group web page at . . . Saturday walks - reports 2012



I had a quick look around the meadow this evening after getting back from Rowena Horrocks's 80th birthday party. Pineappleweed and Lesser Burdock are both out on the path from the Seagull Lane gate to the north bridge. I found my first Perforate St John's-wort on Brook Meadow this year on the round Lumley area path just in front of the pollarded Black Poplars.

There are some fine flower heads of Wild Angelica on this path with red Soldier Beetles and bees feeding. The first Pepper-saxifrage is opening its tiny flowers on the east side of the Lumley area. Following a good amount of searching I finally got my first Marsh Woundwort on Brook Meadow, flowering in the usual spot at the northern end of the Bramble path.


Dragonfly correction - Black-tailed Skimmer


Yesterday, I spotted a what I thought was a immature Southern Hawker dragonfly perched on vegetation on the orchid area. However, Ralph Hollins corrected this to female/immature Black-tailed Skimmer. They have a yellow abdomen with two prominent longitudinal black bands on the upper surface. The only other confirmed sighting of a Black-tailed Skimmer on Brook Meadow was by Bryan Pinchen during his insect survey on 17-Jun-10.




Andy and Jane Brook saw what they described as "a huge butterfly flying along Kings Road, Emsworth, in front of us. It came down to the road surface just long enough to be positively identified as a Purple Emperor! We saw both the upper and under surfaces of the wing at very close range and could see clearly the markings; there was not a hint of the purple colour. Its very large size and colour lead me to conclude that it was a female. Unfortunately, neither of us had a camera and although we did go home and grab one we didn't really think there would be any chance of another sighting because of the way that it had flown off into the wind with such strong flight."

The last record I have of a Purple Emperor in the local area was a photo of a female taken by Alan Bonner on a wheelie bin in Southbourne on 23 July 2010. As Andy and Jane did not get a photo of theirs here is Alan's photo.

Both sexes of this butterfly look alike except in sunshine when the male's upper wings turn an iridescent purple. At all other times the basic colour of both sexes is dusky with a solid white band across the hindwings and a patch of white on the forewings. The female is recognisable by slightly more-rounded wingtips, and the width of the white band on the hindwing.

After mating females go off in search of suitable Willows to lay eggs, sometimes flying considerable distances. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of Goat and Grey Willows and over winters in this stage. So, maybe they will end up on Brook Meadow?




BTO reports - Compared with many other migratory birds, waders generally begin moving south quite early. Of the high Arctic breeding waders, the failed and non-breeding birds are the first to appear back in Britain and Ireland, followed by adults that have bred successfully, then juveniles. Whilst we've been enduring a very wet summer, Icelandic-breeding waders such as Black-tailed Godwit have enjoyed relatively warm, dry conditions, which initiated an early breeding season. Although pairs that had clutches predated may well have turned up even earlier than usual this year, the 2012 reporting rate shows a very similar pattern to recent years.



Great Black-backed Gulls have gone

When I arrived at the pond this evening at about 6pm there were no Great Black-backed Gulls on the pond for the first time since late April. I scanned to pond and the rafts for any sign of the chicks, but they had gone. No adults either. So, that must be that. What a great experience it has been to watch the development of these magnificent birds from the egg stage at the end of April, to their hatching at the end of May and their first flights in the middle of July. I will need to check the harbour to see if they are there.

Meanwhile, the Cormorants are building up on the centre raft where I counted 10 today.





As in previous years, Hoary Ragwort is fairly abundant on the orchid area and its flowers are just starting to open. There are also some north of the causeway.

There are also two plants of Common Ragwort on the orchid area, both in full flower, the only ones I have found on Brook Meadow. Common Ragwort always flowers well before Hoary. The leaves of the two plants also differ with those of Hoary Ragwort being more deeply and narrowly lobed with the end lobe narrow and pointed.


Other flowers


The bush of Hemp Agrimony flowers every year in the centre of the orchid area and is now out and making a good splash of colour as well as attracting insects. However, Common Fleabane looks to be struggling with the vigorous growth of vegetation and bindweed on the orchid area this year, but looks much better on the Lumley area. Square-stalked St John's-wort is flowering well in both the orchid area and the Lumley area and is already showing its red fruits contrasting with the yellow flowers. I have yet to find any Perforate St John's-wort on Brook Meadow this year.

The Lumley area is particularly rich in flowering plants with Common Fleabane, Hogweed, Wild Angelica, Square-stalked St John's-wort, Common Knapweed, Red Bartsia, Sharp-flowered Rush and Wild Teasel showing very well. Who has been chopping the flower heads off the teasel? Strawberry Clover is flowering around the eastern path.




Lots of Gatekeepers were fluttering around, but I did not see a single Meadow Brown. They seem to fade away as the Gatekeepers increase.

Plenty of Meadow Grasshoppers were jumping around in the orchid area.


Black-tailed Skimmer


I spotted a what I thought was a immature Southern Hawker dragonfly perched on vegetation on the orchid area. However, Ralph Hollins corrected this to female/immature Black-tailed Skimmer. They have a yellow abdomen with two prominent longitudinal black bands on the upper surface. The only other confirmed sighting of a Black-tailed Skimmer on Brook Meadow was by Bryan Pinchen during his insect survey on 17-Jun-10.




Caroline and Ray French Ray did a recce of Havant Thicket this afternoon, in preparation for a walk Caroline is leading there tomorrow. Here is Caroline's report:

"There was very little about in the way of birds but I did end up with a list of 12 butterfly species: Red Admiral (1), Peacock (1), Common or Holly Blue (unable to get a good enough view to be sure) (1), Marbled White (1), Gatekeeper (several), Meadow Brown (several), Large White (1), Small White (1), Small Skipper (2), Brimstone (1), Speckled Wood (several) and, best of all, Silver-washed Fritillary (2) (photo attached).

The most exciting sighting though was a partially-coiled Adder basking at the edge of a path, which was unfortunately disturbed by our approach and slithered off before I could even reach for my camera!

Other observations included a Roe Deer and a singing Yellowhammer. Flowering plants were few but included Ling, Bell Heather, Tormentil, Hemp Agrimony and Betony.

There were also plenty of large dragonflies flying around - some may have been Southern Hawkers but I couldn't be sure.

PS I was lucky to be up on the South Downs near Twyford yesterday, where Chalkhill Blues were really abundant.

PPS I have also attached a photo of a rather sorry-looking Magpie Moth, rescued from an upsidedown and very sodden position in the middle of the cycle path alongside Farlington Marshes. I don't know whether you're familiar with it but I think it was a new one to me. It's about the size of a Meadow Brown.





Slipper Millpond

The two Great Black-backed Gull chicks were on the water near the south raft at 11am this morning with one of their parents nearby. So, they are still here. Interestingly, I saw what was probably a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls near Fowley island in Emsworth Harbour yesterday during my first ever trip on the Chichester Harbour Conservancy solar-powered boat. I wondered at the time if they were the ones from Slipper Millpond.

The usual six or so Cormorants were gathered on the centre raft while the Coots scuttled around happily on the pond.


I was pleased to discover Swine-cress (Coronopus squamatus) growing on the Bridge Road Wayside for the first time. It is distinguished by the tightly bunched white flowers at the base of the leaves and the lack of a 'cressy' small which the more common Lesser Swine-cress has. Swine-cress is not a first for the waysides as we had a good crop on the Washington Road path earlier in the season.

 For earlier observations go to . . . July 16-30