. . from 2012 to current
summary of local wildlife news
. . .
JUNE 30 - 2016
I had a look
around the wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway
Station this morning. From the access ramp the
embankment is a riot of colour with yellow of
Perforate St John's-wort and Common Ragwort, white of
Hedge Bedstraw, Yarrow and Bindweed, pink of the
Willowherbs and Woundworts, red of the docks and the
occasional Water Figwort and purples of Creeping
Some of the
Creeping Thistle had white flowers which I do
not recall having seen before.
From the ramp one can
see Hedge Woundwort and Marsh Woundwort
flowering side by side. I noticed Wild Carrot in full
flower and Hemp Agrimony almost in flower.
I had my first
Marbled White butterfly.
I cycled over
to Westbourne this afternoon for a surgery
appointment. On the way I stopped at the Westbourne
Open Space to check on the Smaller Cat's-tail
which is still present, though a little
overwhelmed by taller grasses.
The silvery grey Cotton Thistles which Chris
Oakley first discovered behind the new Wellness Clinic
in early June on the way into Westbourne are now
dramatically huge - well over 10 feet tall with one
plant already in flower.
On the way back to
Emsworth via Lumley, I had a look for Water Voles in
the stream at Westbourne, but did not see anything.
But did spot a couple of nice damselflies. A male
Beautiful Demoiselle and a Blue-tailed
The lane back to
Emsworth was incredibly muddy with huge puddles, so I
was pleased to have my bike to cycle through the worst
of them. Enchanter's Nightshade was out along
the path from Lumley Mill to the Seagull Lane - the
first I have seen this year. I gather the plant gets
its common name from belief in its magical qualities
that go back to Anglo-Saxon times.
Milinets-Raby went out for a short walk to the slopes
of Portsdown Hill while waiting for one of his driving
test pupils and got this excellent close-up of a
Common Spotted Orchid.
June Hay took this
photo of a female Roe Deer and two fawns in
Fishbourne Meadows on 27th June. Ray says they have
one of each sex.
JUNE 28 - 2016
Jean and I had
a walk round Heath Lake at Petersfield this morning.
We stopped to admire the Egyptian Geese which
have been here for many years and are a popular
feature of this lake. Here is a photo of three of
these odd looking geese on the water.
We counted 9 Egyptian
Geese altogether plus a family of one adult and 7
goslings - shown here.
Egyptian Geese were
introduced from Africa in the 18th Century for
ornamental lakes, but they are now well established in
Eastern England and The Netherlands.
I was interested to
see Amphibious Bistort flowering on the
southern edges of the lake. As the name amphibious
implies, this plant can grow either in water or on
land. The water form has leaves that float on the
surface and flower spikes on short stalks, as shown in
this photo on Petersfield Lake.
The land form of
Amphibious Bistort can be quite distant from water. It
grows abundantly on Brook Meadow though rarely
flowers. It also can be found on the Westbourne Open
Space at the top of Westbourne Avenue.
A dozen or more
Common Blue Damselflies were dancing around the
Amphibious Bistort flowers. Here is one I managed to
get a shot of when it perched on the wooden walkway.
JUNE 27 - 2016
I put my
wellies on for this morning's wander around the
meadow. The weather was warm and fine, but it was
predictably very wet and soggy underfoot.
I had a quick look at the two circular areas on the
north meadow which had been planted with locally
sourced wild flower seeds last autumn and mown
regularly since then. There is no sign of any of the
seeds coming through, though the southern one, which
looks like a green oasis in an area dominated by
coarse Tall Fescue grasses, has a fine crop of
Creeping Bent. Note: the Bent grasses have closed
panicles at present, though may open up later.
Meanwhile, on the main
orchid area, the orchids are going over and becoming
submerged by the burgeoning vegetation. However, the
bright red flowers of Great Burnet stand above
it all on the top of long stems. I counted 62 Great
Burnet plants which is about the same as last year's
count. So, the big increase from when they were first
recorded here in 2013 has clearly slowed down.
Moving down to the
south meadow I looked in vain for any sign of Marsh
Woundwort in the vast growth of vegetation in the area
where they usually come up. The new growth of Hairy
Buttercups and Celery-leaved Buttercups are now going
to seed which should provide a continuing crop for
next year. The new flood defence bund around the
Gooseberry Cottage garden has had the effect of
creating a wet habitat which could in time yield some
interesting addition to the meadow wildlife.
In the far southern
end of the new wet area I found a good growth of
Black Bent-grass (Agrostis
gigantea). This is relatively easy to identify
from its very large size (to 150cm) and spreading
inflorescence. It also has flat furrowed slightly
rough leaves and long toothed ligules. I have found
Black Bent-grass here in previous years, but nowhere
else on the meadow. That takes the total number of
grasses recorded on Brook Meadow so far this year to
I spent a very
pleasant 15 minutes on the west bank of the Lumley
Stream opposite the holes where I last saw a Water
Vole on June 4, but saw nothing. The holes are still
present on the far bank and look as if they have been
recently used. During this time I was entertained by a
couple of male Beautiful Demoiselles which
endlessly chased one another over the stream. Here is
my best attempt of catching the insects in flight with
my simple point and shoot camera. See the bright blue
Here are better shots
I got of male and female Beautiful Demoiselles
perched. It is interesting how the Beautiful
Demoiselle has taken over from Banded Demoiselle as
the dominant species on Brook Meadow over the past few
I saw my first
Large Skippers of the year on the north meadow
and got a shot of one as it perched briefly. Large
Skippers are always the first of the Skippers to
emerge at this time of the year, followed in a week or
so by Small Skipper and possibly Essex Skipper. I
found several brown butterflies fluttering around the
flowers on the main orchid area, they included some
dark brown Ringlets, and also some lighter coloured
saw an interesting encounter this morning between a
Red Kite and a Carrion Crow at the top end of Redlands
Lane in North Emsworth. Chris says, "The Kite was
being harassed from above by the Crow, when quite
suddenly the Kite did a flip turning itself almost
upside down with its legs extended and claws
uppermost. Whether it actually made contact, I'm not
sure but the Crow flew off in a hurry leaving the Kite
to continue its circling."
JUNE 26 - 2016
finds a rare fungus!
Here are Tony's
photos again - originally on this blog for June
Hollins saw Tony Wootton's photos of the large white
fungi growing on rotting tree stump south of the main
A259 in Emsworth, he was pretty sure they were the
uncommon Volvariella bombycina which he
had only found once before, long ago, in Stansted
Forest. Ralph promptly put on a rain jacket and cap
and cycled over to Emsworth to see the fungi for
Ralph says, "The first
thing I looked for was the 'volva' - the egg-shell
like filament in which the fungus develops until the
upward pressure of the growing cap and stem
(mycologists call the stem a 'stipe') burst it open to
leave a fungus looking like the photo at
I could not find any of the specimens looking exactly
as in this photo but the hint of a 'nipple' at the
apex of the cap, the silky look of the topside of the
cap and the off white, turning pink, colour of the
gills, plus the long thin curved stems of the fresher
specimens (plus the absence from my books of any
similar species) all convinced me that I had got the
For written facts and a series of photos showing the
development of this fungus see http://www.messiah.edu/oakes/fungi_on_wood/gilled%20fungi/species%20pages/Volvariella%20bombycina.htm
Ralph concluded "Do
thank Tony for bringing this exciting find to public
attention. The Hampshire Fungus Recording Group has
only 32 records of this species, nearly all in the New
Forest and none east of Southampton."
took advantage of yesterday's cancellation of the
Havant Wildlife Group walk to Iping Common to visit
Hayling Oysterbeds. Although he got a good soaking he
managed to capture a cracking action shot of a
juvenile Black-headed Gull being scolded by its
have been fairly scarce over the past few weeks, but
Brian Lawrence found plenty during a walk around
Havant Thicket yesterday. He says there were hundreds
of Meadow Browns along with Large Skipper, Marbled
White and the first White Admiral I have heard about
JUNE 25 - 2016
Tony Wootton sent
a couple of photos of the enormous fungi about 1ft in
diameter and very white growing on rotting tree stump
in the garden of house number 82 on the south of the
main A259 towards Chichester between Gordon Road and
Thorney Lane. Has anyone any idea what they might be?
Tony included his car keys in the first photo to give
an idea of scale.
JUNE 24 - 2016
Here is a view of
the tiny verge where the Wild Clary grows.
I have been in
a state of shock today from the referendum result that
Britain will leave the European Union. This is so sad
for the country and, particularly for wildlife and
conservation. I forced myself to go out on the bike to
resume my tour of the local waysides that was cut
short yesterday by the rain, but things did not seem
I cycled up to Christopher Way to have a look at the
rare Wild Clary (Salvia
verbenaca). About 20 of spikes were just
breaking into flower on the council mown verge where
the footpath emerges from Bellevue Lane.
One of the Wild Clary
In contrast, there was
no sign of any Wild Clary plants on the 'official'
unmown wayside verge nearer to the main New Brighton
Road. Just think, there were over 40 flowering Wild
Clary plants on the official wayside in 2010, but by
2013 they had gone. The fact that they survived on the
Council mown verge clearly means they thrive on being
regularly cut down.
Next, I went to the
Railway Wayside where I found the first Marsh
Woundwort just starting to flower.
These plants have also
shown a dramatic decline in numbers since we first
took over the site in 2012. There used to be over 200
Marsh Woundwort plants, but today there were hardly a
dozen to be seen. Other flowering plants on this
wayside included Selfheal, Bladder Campion, Water
Figwort, Oxeye Daisy, Large Bindweed, Great
Willowherb, Creeping Thistle, Common Ragwort, Hedge
Bedstraw, Wild Carrot, Crested Dog's-tail and Spiked
And there were some butterflies - the most I have seen
for months! These included Meadow Brown, Comma, Large
Skipper and Ringlet - what a beauty, but only
showing its upper wings. I also spotted a large moth
which I think might be a Silver Y.
I could see
two well grown Great Black-backed Gull youngsters
along with one of the parents on the raft at about
12 noon. I saw one of the youngsters flexing its
wings; fledging is not far away. There was no sign of
the third youngster, though it could easily have been
hiding in the dense vegetation.
My first Perennial
Sow-thistle of the year was out on the Hermitage
Bridge overlooking Slipper Millpond.
Each year at
the end of June Chris Oakley gets a crop of these
boletus fungi growing opposite his house in North
Emsworth. This afternoon he counted 96 of them. He
thinks they might be Boletus versicolor.
Tony Wootton says
there are some enormous fungi about 1ft in diameter
and very white growing on rotting tree stump in the
garden of house number 82 on the south of the main
A259 towards Chichester between Gordon Road and
Thorney Lane. I have not seen them, but maybe worth
and Jill Stanley have confirmed that the mass of
orchids growing along the Stansted drive are Common
provides an update on the two baby Great Spotted
Woodpeckers in his garden. He says both are doing well
and feeding individually. Barrie's excellent photo of
one of the youngsters on peanuts shows the red crown
and pinkish vent which are characteristic features of
young Woodpeckers. Barrie is not sure of the sex of
either at this stage; he will have to wait until the
red crowns disappear!
JUNE 23 - 2016
I went over to
the Emsworth Recreation Ground this afternoon to check
out some of the wayside plants, but my visit was cut
short by the onset of heavy rain.
On the way I noted the abundance of Water Bent
(Polypogon viridis) growing between
the front garden walls and the pavement along Victoria
Road, far more than I recall having seen in previous
years. It is everywhere this year. Is it spreading?
I stopped to admire
the Greater Burdock (Articium
lappa) by the pony field at the end of the
Washington Road path. It is doing very well this year
with up to 50 plants, which is more than in previous
years. Here is a view of the plants along the edge of
the path to the Emsworth Recreation Ground, with my
bike for scale. They are huge and growing!
The flowers are not
quite open, but the flat-topped clusters with long
stalks, are very characteristic of Greater Burdock -
see the photo below. The more common Lesser Burdock
has its flowers in more of a spike with shorter flower
Moving onto the
grassland behind the bowling club on west side of the
recreation ground, it was good to see Creeping
Bent (Agrostis stolonifera) in full
flower, though struggling somewhat to assert its
presence among the more dominant Yorkshire Fog. The
Bents are among my favourite grasses with their most
delicate tree-like panicles of single flowered purple
On the left is a
Creeping Bent panicle held up to show its
On the right is what the spikelets look like through a
microscope at x20 magnification.
The Bent grasses are
always slightly later emerging than most other common
grasses. I have had doubts over the identification of
this grass on the Recreation Ground in previous years
and have consulted Martin Rand about it However, the
presence of a long ligule and the absence of awns
strongly suggests it is Creeping Bent.
Other grasses present
in this protected area of the Recreation Ground which
is left unmown until the end of the growing season
include Sweet Vernal Grass and Timothy, plus possibly
Smaller Cat's-tail. I also found the usual Meadow
Barley close to the White Poplars in the north
west corner of the ground - see photo. I have yet to
find Meadow Barley on Brook Meadow this year.
I had intended to go
onto Christopher Way, but the heavens opened and I
headed for home. Another day.
commented on the fine array of orchids along the left
side of the access road as you come away from the
Stansted Garden Centre. I think these are Common
Spotted Orchids, though I have not checked. Does
Roy Hay sent a
cracking photo of a Buzzard sitting on a post at
Fishbourne Meadows - taken by June Hay.
JUNE 22 - 2016
had a close encounter with an Eyed Hawk-moth
(Smerinthus ocellata) in her Emsworth
She says, "I was picking redcurrants from my (very
overgrown) bushes, and when I withdrew my hand there
it was, huge, displaying its eyes. The book says that
it can startle birds and small mammals. Well, it
certainly startled this large mammal into an eek! and
a shaken hand. When I checked I found two of them on a
twig in the depths of the bush, back to sub-fusc, so I
had perhaps interrupted an intimate moment. They
shouldn¹t be attracted to redcurrants, but
there¹s a nearby plum-tree."
Susan did not get a photo, but here is an illustration
from the internet showing well the dramatic pair of
'eyes' on the underwings.
The adults fly from
May to July, inhabiting woodland and suburban
localities. They come to light, but do not feed.
Caterpillar food plants include Sallow (Salix), Apple
(Malus), wild and ornamental Crab Apple, less common
are Poplars and Aspen. Overwinters as a shiny
black/brown pupa, below or near the larval foodplant.
Well distributed throughout England and Wales as far
north as Cumbria. Habitat: Gardens, orchards,
woodland, suburban localities and places where willows
grow e.g. parks, riversides, fens and scrub.
Milinets-Raby reports on today's visit to Langstone
"The weather this morning was like autumn - such a
fine drizzle! Lots of Little Egret activity with at
least 19+ juveniles counted (see photos). Also, Three
adult Grey Herons still on nests!
Nest with babies
Also present were a
pair of Tufted Duck and still two singing Reed Warbler
along with Chiffchaff and Blackcap still singing. Two
Swift were flying and circling slowly over the pond,
washing themselves in the fine drizzle, with lots of
tail fanning and wing stretches in flight!
Off shore the firsts hints of autumn were noted with 4
Curlew and 6 Black-tailed Godwit along with Great
Crested Grebe, 2 Shelduck, 2 Sandwich Tern and flying
over 6+ Med Gulls."
had a couple of interesting shield bugs at Baffins
Pond today. Dock Bug - Coreus Marginatus
and a Nettle Ground Bug - Heterogaster
JUNE 21 - 2016
afternoon, Jean and I had a walk along the south
facing slope of Portsdown Hill below Fort Widley. What
a stunning place this is, full of wild flowers and
grasses and with superb views across the Solent. A
great place for a stroll with the reward of an ice
cream at the end! Here is a slightly fancy shot of
False Oat-grass with Portsmouth in the background just
'cause I liked it.
Plants that caught my
attaention on the hill today included Greater
Knapweed, Knapweed Broomrape Agrimony, Wild
Mignonette, Perforate St John's-wort, Yellow-wort,
Eyebright, Gromwell, Wild Marjoram, Rough Hawkbit,
plus a fine specimen of Musk Thistle.
Yellow-wort and Musk
I was pleased
to find a flowering plant of Sulphur Cinquefoil
on the Bridge Road Wayside this morning. I have been
looking for it for some while, but it was largely
hidden beneath a large overhanging branch of Goat
Willow. I have recorded this plant in this exact spot
every year since 2011. It has probably been here for
longer than that.
JUNE 20 - 2016
I had a stroll
through Brook Meadow on a hot and rather sultry
afternoon after the morning's rain. Ground was very
wet and laden with puddles. The first thing I noticed
after going through the Seagull Lane gate was a patch
of Swinecress immediately in front of the
interpretation board. I hoped it was the rarer form,
C. squamatus, but on closer inspection I
could see the flowers were in spikes and the pods
rounded, indicating it was Lesser Swine-cress
Orchids are now
starting to go over and become engulfed by other fast
growing plants. However, one very fine Common
Spotted Orchid showed up very well in the southern
section of the orchid area. Hedge Woundwort is
also flowering well.
Great Burnet is
now flowering with a large number of bright red
oval-shaped flower spikes showing prominently for the
4th year running. We are not sure how this unusual
plant got onto the meadow, but it is clearly now well
established and increasing. Martin Rand has accepted
the record, saying "As a native in South Hampshire it
is confined to the New Forest where it is one of
several "hay meadow" constituents of base-rich flushed
heathland in the south of the Forest."
now out on the river bank. I was pleased to find
Plicate Sweet-grass at the start of the path
round the Lumley area taking the total number of
grasses recorded on Brook Meadow this year to 24.
Insects included a
female Beautiful Demoiselle and a Meadow
Brown. Beautiful Demoiselle seems to have taken
over from Banded Demoiselle as the main damselfly on
has come up with a good match for the spotless
Ladybird that young Thomas Irons photographed on Brook
Meadow on June 15 and which subsequently failed to
develop any spots when confined to Thomas's 'ladybird
world' discovery container for two days.
Go to . . .
and scroll down through the photos to the 11th photo
which seems a very good match including the
black-speckled white 'head'. Also in favour of this
10-Spot species (Adalia decempunctata)
is the habitat (Gardens with trees) and the adult
active time range (March to October).
A large photo can be seen at . . http://warehouse1.indicia.org.uk/upload/p15t4dsnbhinhruc1lqj1mrs30s2.jpg
Ralph thought that
young Thomas should apply for the role of quiz master
of next year's Springwatch if they are still looking
for youngsters in this role. Now there's an idea!
On his Sunday
morning walk around Baffins pond Eric Eddles found
these two beauties - a Jumping spider
(Salticidae) and an immature Blue-tailed
Damselfly (Ishnura Elegans). It will change its
colours between 24 and 48 hours.
JUNE 18 - 2016
French carried out a further survey of the House
Martin nests in Westbourne this afternoon. She says,
"Not much new to report other than to say that ten of
the 13 nests are active, most of those now with
chicks. None so far appears to have failed, or fallen
down or been predated. Those with chicks were getting
plenty of feeding visits from the parents so there
seems to be plenty of food around. Attached is a
picture of the same nest I photographed earlier in the
week, this time with *four* healthy-looking chicks
I think I previously
mentioned that there is one nest where the adults have
half-built a mud-cup but appear to be using the recess
above and behind the mud-cup for their nest instead. I
am now more convinced that this is what is happening
because today an adult appeared from this recess after
I had been observing it the nest for ten minutes. The
adult emerged from the recess as a second adult
arrived - they swapped places. I feel sure that they
must be incubating eggs in the recess. The 'half
mud-cup' was not there on my initial survey visit back
in April, but appeared on the wall on my second or
third visit. These House Martins will therefore be a
bit behind those that arrived back early and took over
'complete' nests still intact from last year. There
has been no change to the condition of the 'half
mud-cup' for several weeks.
PS - 1 Hobby and 1
Swift also observed flying overhead.
JUNE 17 - 2016
sent an update on the ladybird with no spots that her
son Thomas found and photographed on Brook Meadow on
June 15. Following a bit of research, I thought it
must have been a newly emerged Ladybird as wing cases
(elytra) of Ladybirds are soft and pale orange at
first and take a couple of hours to harden and develop
their familiar colour pattern.
However, Glynis says,
the one they found was kept in Thomas' 'ladybird
world' discovery container for two days and remained
non-spotted, before it was released back to its
original place at Brook Meadow today. Does anyone have
an answer to the little mystery?
Today, Glynis and
Thomas also witnessed a Ladybird emerging from its
pupa. It was yellow with extremely faint spots, not
visible in the photo, but there nonetheless. Thomas
thought it was a Seven-spot Ladybird.
Trust for Ornithology has reported that
satellite-tagged Cuckoo named 'Disco Tony' has
already started his journey south again. See . . .
Cuckoo 'Stanley' was lost but there are still five
birds transmitting data. See . . . http://bto-enews.org/IG4-4ANH9-3RN36S-25L5YF-0/c.aspx
that it's a poor year for House Martins, BTO is
gathering excellent information through the House
Martin Nest Survey which suggests that things are not
as bad as expected. Our own Caroline French is
carrying out this survey at Westbourne and her
findings seem to support this view. See yesterday's
BTO carried out a
garden Goldfinch Feeding Survey and in which
5,183 households across Britain and Ireland took part.
A preliminary analysis of the data shows that
sunflower hearts were overwhelmingly the preferred
option, with nyger seed coming second. Natural foods
were also taken, with teasel and thistle the
favourites. See . . . http://bto-enews.org/IG4-4ANH9-3RN36S-25L5YH-0/c.aspx
I don't find this at all surprising. I find sunflower
hearts are loved by all garden birds! Personally, I
have given up on everything else, but for fat balls.
JUNE 16 - 2016
Here are three
volunteers working on branches removal in Palmer's
I went over
for the work session on Brook Meadow this morning at
10am. Rain treatened, but did not start until the end
at 12 noon. Rachel Moroney from TCV was there to
assess the group for insurance purposes. Maurice
Lillie gave a long introduction to jobs and health
safety conditions. The main jobs involved removing
logs from Palmer's Road Copse, cutting various
branches and mowing the paths.
While volunteers were
clearing this area Jennifer pointed out a growth of
Jelly Ear (Jew's Ear) fungus on a
Finally, here is a
photo of our beautiful meadow looking north with
Jennifer walking towards us
Maurice's full workday
report plus more photos can be seen on the Brook
Meadow web site
Go to . . . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-diary-current.html
included Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Robin,
Blackbird, Song Thrush (briefly), Chaffinch and
I noted fresh molehills on the north meadow - a good
sign of underground activity.
The grasses are looking very good at the present on
Brook Meadow. Timothy is now out in several places and
Reed Canary-grass towers over all others near
the Lumley gate.
I was also pleased to
find a good swathe of the relatively rare Smooth
Brome grass with its long drooping panicles on the
diagonal path across the centre meadow at Grid Ref: SU
75109 06036. Smooth Brome is distinguished from the
more common Soft Brome which has shorter upright
On the east path
through the north meadow, close to Beryl's seat, I
found both Meadow Fescue (Festuca
pratensis) and Perennial Ryegrass along with the
hybrid between them called Fescue xFestulolium
loliaceum. I find these regularly each year in
this area of the meadow.
Here is the
Festulolium hybrid which has Fescue-like spikelets
arranged in a Ryegrass formation.
Meanwhile, on the
Lumley area we have Jointed Rush in full
reports that 70+ Canada Geese are back at Baffins pond
for their annual moult plus the regular hybrid on the
right of the photo.
Barrie Jay was pleased
to see 2 baby Great Spotted Woodpeckers in his
garden. The photo shows Dad feeding one of the
Patrick Murphy had a
visit from a family of Long Tailed Tits today.
"First time we had seen the young. They were being fed
by the 2 parents (on the fat balls) who were wet
through and appeared half the size of the young.
Managed to take attached photo of the 4 young huddling
up together in a nearby tree."
JUNE 15 - 2016
Here is an
update on the some of the plants I found on the new
'meadow' at Chidham yesterday. Regarding the
Greater Plantain with a paw-shaped end to the
flower spikes, I am informed that this condition is
This is a relatively
rare condition of vascular plants in which the growing
tip, which normally is concentrated around a single
point and produces cylindrical tissue, instead become
elongated producing flattened, ribbon-like, or
elaborately contorted tissue. Looking through Google I
could find many images of it occurring in Ribwort
Plantain, but none in Greater Plantain.
I am also grateful to
Martin Rand for confirming my identification of
Black Grass (Alopecurus
myosuroides). He also confirmed my guess that
the Broomrape growing among the Bee Orchids was Common
Broomrape (Orobanche minor), adding that it is
certainly not Birdsnest Orchid which has a very
different flower structure and would not grow in
vegetation or exposed to light like this one.
Stanley was walking into Emsworth yesterday she
stopped to look at the wayside behind the railway
station. Just in from the end of the concrete wall by
the bike rack she saw two spikes of a plant she didn't
recognise, so she went home to get her camera to take
some photos from which she identified them as Water
Figwort, as distinguished from Common Figwort by
its 'winged' stem and rounded ends to the leaves. In
my experience, Water Figwort is far more common than
Common Figwort, even in relatively dry habitats as in
this wayside. Here are Jill's photos of the tiny red
flowers and the rounded leaves.
This prompted me to
have a walk around the wayside this afternoon to see
what else was in flower since my last visit on June
Here is a view of
the wayside from the top of the ramp.
The embankment is dominated by Docks.
Slipping through the
iron bars of the ramp fence, I quickly noticed lots of
Toad Rush in flower immediately behind the new
cycle rack, clearly as a result of the disturbed
ground. In addition to Jill's Water Figwort, also in
flower among the brambles which now completely
dominate the eastern end of the wayside were Common
Knapweed, Meadow Vetchling, Perforate St
John's-wort, Oxeye Daisies, Stone Parsley
and just one pink flower on the Great
Here are the
Meadow Vetchling and the Perforate St John's-wort
Towards the western
end of the wayside I found Bird's-foot Trefoil,
Creeping Thistle, Scented Mayweed and Smooth
Tare (with 4 seeded pods). Hedge Woundwort
is nicely in flower on the embankment, but there is
not sign of Marsh Woundwort which is the special
species of this wayside.
There are some
fine spikes of Common Toadflax about half way
up the ramp
Hard Rush was also in flower in various
There is a nice growth
of the grass Crested Dog's-tail outside the
metal gate on New Brighton Road, but no sign of any
Black Grass which I found here last year.
Milinets-Raby says that the Little Egrets are now in
full swing feeding young at Langstone Mill Pond. A
pair of Gadwall is still present and 3 pairs of Tufted
Duck. Not much else happening over the last few days
at Langstone Mill Pond. Peter sends his best Cattle
Egret photo taken on 9th May at Warblington.
French provides an update on her various activities
including the important BTO House Martin survey in
carried out my eighth House Martin survey on June 14.
On the last visit on June 5 I noted the first audible
young in one of the nests. Today, was the most
interesting visit so far, with some of the nests
having lots of fresh droppings beneath them, some with
broken egg shells from recently hatched chicks and
also one nest showing very well developed chicks (see
photos). House Martin eggs should be all white but
these have markings on them which washed off with
water. I think this may be related to parasites but am
not sure - I will try to find out more. "
Caroline also went to
Kingley Vale twice and on both occasions found
families of Marsh Tits being fed and also a family of
Nuthatches. There were plenty of singing
Yellowhammers, Linnets and Firecrests. Also Green
In a farm survey near
Pagham in early morning Caroline got lovely views of a
vixen enjoying the sunshine - she could see swollen
teats. Caroline was taking a photo of a Reed Bunting
and later found she had a Sedge Warbler with food too!
Caroline had a Stock Dove in her garden for the first
ever. The House Sparrows have their second brood well
was 'ecstatic' according to his mum, Glynis, to get
this photo of a spotless Ladybird on Brook Meadow
yesterday. This might well have been a newly emerged
Ladybird. The wing cases (elytra) of Ladybirds are
soft and pale orange at first. It usually takes a
couple of hours for them to harden and develop their
familiar colour pattern. More information can be got
JUNE 14 - 2016
I decided to have a look at the 'meadow' at Chidham
which Tony Wootton visited, and raved about, on June
11 in this blog. On Tony's suggestion, I drove down
Cot Lane and parked on a roadside lay-by next to the
line of tall Lombardy Poplar trees. Tony thought this
would be a shorter route than walking along the shore
from the end of Farm Lane Nutbourne. Thanks, Tony. I
appreciate that. I then took the public footpath
across the fields to Nutbourne Bay with crops of
Oil-seed Rape and Peas.
When I reached the
shore I turned left along the coastal path until I got
to a big yellow notice indicating a temporary footpath
inland which avoids the crumbling shore line path.
This path goes along
the top of a raised bund and has glorious array of
wild flowers and grasses.
It was very windy when
I was there this morning, making photography
difficult, but very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Here are a few of my observations:
As Tony said
this path on top of the bund is very good for orchids.
This cluster of Common Spotted Orchids is on
the far side of the ditch close to the start of the
path with some very pale varieties nearby.
I also spotted the
single Pyramidal Orchid on the other side of
the path near the rocks that Tony got.
But best of all were
the Bee Orchids which could easily be seen
close to the path on top of the bund. I counted 20
though there could have been more.
I also saw
several spikes of what Tony simply called Broomrape.
From the reddish stems, my guess is that they are
Common Broomrape (Orobanche
minor), which are parasitic on a variety of
wild flowers, including Clovers, Wild Carrot and
Composites (Daisy family) all of which were fairly
abundant in the area.
It was interesting,
that the Broomrapes were growing alongside Bee
Orchids, which made me wonder about Birdsnest Orchids,
but they would be found mainly in woodland where they
are parasitic on Beech.
This photo shows
several Broomrapes and Bee Orchids
On my way
across the fields from Cot Lane to the shore, I found
what I am fairly sure is Black Grass
(Alopecurus myosuroides) growing
alongside the footpath. This is a loosely tufted
annual grass with slender green stems and dense very
narrow cylindrical panicles which taper to the tips.
They reminded me of Sweet Vernal Grass.
Black Grass is said to
be a serious arable weed on farmland and hard to
eradicate; the Hants Flora notes that it is still
frequent in Hampshire in spite of crop-spraying. I
have only seen it once before on rough ground near
Emsworth Railway Station. Cope and Gray ('Grasses of
the British Isles' p.384) say it is probably an
ancient introduction brought in a weed of crops by
early farmers, though it is regarded by most authors
as a native.
lots of arable flowers on the edges of the path from
Cot Lane to Nutbourne Bay, including Scarlet
Pimpernel, Scented Mayweed, Pineappleweed and Lesser
Swine-cress. Most interesting by the field of Oil-seed
Rape was a very unusual Greater Plantain flower
spike with a paw-shaped tip.
Just before the shore
was a fine array of Corky-fruited
On the meadow bund I
had my first Bristly Ox-tongue flower.
Birds singing along
the way included Skylark, Common Whitethroat and Reed
Warbler. I also saw several Meadow Brown butterflies,
but none stopped for a photo.
discovered of several clumps of a grass species that
was new to him while cycling along Hart's Farm Way
near the amenity tip. Taking a specimen home Ralph
soon identified it as Annual Beard Grass
(Polypogon monspeliensis). He kindly
brought a sample for me to see and here is one of the
spikes. I must go over to have a look for myself.
Cope and Gray (in
'Grasses of the British Isles') say it is a native
grass along the coasts of southern and eastern England
with a centre around the Solent. They describe it as
an annual plant reproducing entirely from seed and
requiring bare ground for the establishment of
seedlings. Seeds survive for many years and new
populations will suddenly reappear at former sites.
earlier observations go to . . June