WILDLIFE REPORT – November 2017
by Brian Fellows
As shown in the following chart, there has been no Water Vole sightings at all this year on the River Ems or the Lumley Stream.
This was our last sighting in Lumley Stream in June last year. The only sightings since then have been a few in Peter Pond. So, they are still in the area, but not on Brook Meadow.
The Minx rafts installed by David Gattrell on Peter Pond have yielded nothing, so we can’t place the blame there. In his recent Water Vole survey Andy Rothwell emphasised low water levels in the river as a possible cause. The group needs to discuss this with the Environment Agency. Brown Rats are a constant threat, but they have always been here and to now seemed to have lived in harmony with the voles.
One major issue is the state of the river and river bank which is as bad as I have ever seen it in my 20 years monitoring the site. These two pictures taken from the same place illustrate the deterioration, the first in 2003 and the second last week.
The group have made a promising start in clearing overhanging branches during in the section below the north bridge, but there is a lot more to do.
My recommendation is that we should use some of the money we have in the bank to employ contractors to clear the river banks and channel regularly each winter.
Birds seem to have had a reasonably good year. In total 47 species were recorded. All the common residents were present, including Goldcrest
But we missed out on Firecrest and Nuthatch which Malcolm Phillips used to get. We certainly miss Malcolm’s patience and photos.
Of the less common visitors to the meadow, Water Rail was scarce with only 10 sightings in early spring, most by Pam Phillips. Cetti’s Warbler was also scarce with only 5 hearings in May.
All three summer visitors arrived as usual – Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat and males were singing around the meadow. I got a nice photo of a pair of Blackcaps.
This is a sad story of this pair of Long-tailed Tits which built a fine nest on a tree in the south meadow and had chicks.
However, it was predated, I think by Magpie or Carrion Crow.
I have recorded 18 species of butterfly on the meadow this year from a total list of 26. I don’t get the results of the butterfly transects which the group carries out. Both Large and Small Skippers were numerous, but I did not locate any Essex Skipper. Large Skipper and Ringlet illustrated.
All the Whites and Browns were prominent, but there has been no Brown Argus this year which we usually get. However, we did get some Marbled Whites (classified as a brown).
All the large colourful butterflies have been present including, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma, but I have not seen Painted Lady or Clouded Yellow.
Red Admirals have been abundant and are still flying as I write this in mid November.
I don’t normally do moths but I was attracted by the small white ones fluttering around the orchid area in summer called White Plume Moths.
Common Darters are the most common dragonfly, particularly around the south bridge. Southern Hawker has also been seen.
The damselflies are dominated by the Demoiselles of which Beautiful Demoiselle seems to be the most numerous, usurping Banded Demoiselle, though these are also common. Male and female Beautiful Demoiselles illustrated.
Bumblebees have been common around the flowers and along with several species of hoverfly. I was particularly pleased to see and photograph a Great Pied Hoverfly.
As always red Soldier Beetles were on flower heads and hundreds of Meadow Grasshoppers jumped around in the grassland. Scorpion Fly – was another lovely surprise in the insect world.
However, I can do no more than scratch the surface of what is a vast population of insects. We could do with another series of insect surveys from Bryan Pinchen.
As for spiders, by far the most common by casual observation were Nursery-web spiders which were everywhere this autumn, resting on leaves with their two front legs stuck out in front. On the right is a Nurseryweb Spider carrying its egg sac.
FLOWERS Herbs – 131 recorded from 185 on list.
Orchids had a good year with record numbers of both Southern Marsh Orchid and Common Spotted Orchid. Bee Orchids were variable, but they are hard to find in long grass. Good thing is that all three orchids now grow on both the north meadow and the Lumley area. Good to see both areas cut and cleared over the winter.
Butterbur Count = 609 – about the same as last year, but down on the previous 3 years. 90% of the plants are on the area below the main seat.
Ragged Robin Count = 135 slightly down on last year. Counts variable the years
Hairy Buttercups were abundant for the second year on the Bramble path but no sign of the Celery-leaved Buttercups. Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea – I thought we had lost it, but it was back after 2 years out struggling through the rampant brambles on the Seagull Lane patch. Missing – Marsh Arrowgrass – I look for this in the “Lumley puddle”
Of the trees Rowan berries were abundant and provided a fast for the local Blackbirds
Grasses – 25 species (from 33 on list). Failed to find Meadow Barley despite much searching. Tall Fescues were by far the most common throughout the year.
Sedges – 13 species – Divided Sedge, Distant Sedge, False Fox Sedge abundant on Lumley area. Greater Pond Sedge spreading from Lumley Stream onto the Lumley area. First find of Glaucous Sedge.
Rushes – 4 from 5. Sharp-flowered Rush abundant on Lumley area.Good growth of Toad Rush by the “Lumley puddle”
Here are Glaucous Sedge and Sharp-flowered Rush
Horsetail – 1 from 2 – Field Horsetail (no Marsh Horsetail)
Ferns – 3 – Polypody fern on the north bridge is increasing year by year. which John Norton says is Intermediate Polypody.
Earthstar was the most interesting fungus. Found by my friend Rayner Piper. Like Puffballs with an outer skin which splits and peels back in a star-like pattern. The lobes surround a thin-skinned inner bag full of spores, which escape through a small opening at the top.
NATURE WALKS – – three visiting groups.
21 April – Faith Ponsonby (the Mayor of Havant – in green coat) and her group for nature walk with Brian around Brook Meadow.
25 May – I met Thorney Island School children who were having study session.
15 July – I led walk by the Havant Wildlife Group – same day as the visitor survey – so they all went down on the list! Photo shows Caroline and Heather pondering a sample of Toad Rush.
WILDLIFE REVIEW 2016
by Brian Fellows
All the wildlife seems to have had a good year on Brook Meadow with one notable exception – the Water Vole. As shown in the chart sightings have fallen dramatically over the past 4 years. This year we have had only 5 sightings, all from the Lumley Stream.
Surveys by Jennifer Rye and David Search and by ecologist Andy Rothwell have found no Water Vole activity at all on the River Ems. Andy found some on the Lumley Stream. This is where we have had the only sightings this year. Here is a photo of my one and only sighting on the Lumley Stream.
Rats are one possible factor. Graham Roberts told me that rats can easily predate young Water Voles and worse spread disease to them. Andy Rothwell found signs of Brown Rats all along the Ems. Pike is another predator of young Water Voles. We had several in the river last year and at least one was still present on Sep 5 north of south bridge. 18 ins long.
I would like to pay a special tribute to Malcolm Phillips whose camera skill and patient dedication to observation of wildlife over the past 4 years has added considerably to our records. Malcolm has now left Emsworth for a new life in Cuba!
Of the 73 species on the Brook Meadow list – recorded either on the meadow or flying over 50 have been recorded this year. All the residents seem OK . The 3 regular summer visitors also turned up and hopefully bred – Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat. Some Chiffchaffs over wintered as usual. But we had no rare Siberian Chiffchaff this year. Goldcrest, but no Firecrest this year. Here is a Goldcrest by Malcolm.
Other less common birds seen included Bullfinch and Cetti’s Warbler. There were no records this year for Spotted Flycatcher, Turtle Dove, Willow Warbler, Water Rail, Mistle Thrush, Cuckoo, Nuthatch, Pheasant,
It was not a terribly good year for butterflies, though this was general I gather. Of the 26 species on the Brook Meadow list we have recorded 22 this year. All the usual ones plus some not so regular, like … Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, Small Copper and Brown Argus.
There was no professional insect survey this year, but all seems to be well. Lots of dragonflies, damselflies, ladybirds, bugs, beetles, flies, bees, wasps, moths, grasshoppers, crickets and spiders were recorded. It was good to see Beautiful Demoiselles again on the meadow. Here is a male.
Moles, Brown Rat, Bank Vole, rabbit. No Deer or Harvest Mouse.
An average year for plants. We have a total of 300 plants on the Brook Meadow list of which 235 have been found this year.
Herbs = 135, Trees and shrubs = 54. Grasses = 28. Sedges = 13. Rushes = 4. Horsetails = 1. Ferns = 3.
Notable Absentees – Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea and Goat’s-beard on the Seagull Lane patch. Wild Carrot. Wintercress. Marsh-marigold.
Counts – Butterbur 589 spikes in spring. Falling, but still increasing in the area below the main seat.
Ragged Robin: 154 flowering plants. Much better than the last 4 years, but well below the record 625 in 2010.
Southern Marsh Orchid 21 spikes – gradually increasing.
Common Spotted Orchid 7 spikes – steady.
Bee Orchid 6 spikes – down this year but flowers hard to find.
Great Burnet – still doing well over 50 flowering heads. First seen 2013 but origin unsure. Martin Rand says It’s origins are a bit dubious, as 1. it’s outside its previously known geographical range in the immediate region, not exactly in typical habitat, and 3. it only got noticed recently given how well you and many others know Brook Meadow. Sometimes these things will be undecidable, and we just have to lie back and enjoy them!
Celery-leaved Buttercup and Hairy Buttercup – splendid growth by the new Gooseberry Cottage bund in the south meadow. I suspect the plants were brought in by the Environment Agency with the soil used for the bund reinforcement. All seeds set, so should be there next year.