Wildlife of Gosport, Hampshire and Beyond!
John Norton's wildlife blog and photo gallery
Welcome to my blog! My aim is to showcase the amazing diversity of wildlife in my home town of Gosport, in the county of Hampshire (on the English south coast) – as well as that of neighbouring counties or other places that I may happen to visit. Gosport is one of the most densely populated urban centres in Hampshire, but within its 27 square kilometres it contains significant areas of semi-natural habitats rich in wildlife. These include a river valley with fen and reedbed, ancient woodland, heathland, acid grassland, saltmarsh and an area of coastal vegetated shingle unlike that found anywhere else in the UK. The urban environment is also surprisingly rich in species and a fascinating habitat in its own right.
Text and images © J.A. Norton unless otherwise stated. Please contact me if you would like use any of these images on your web site or purchase for publication/reproduction. Comments and enquiries to:
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I didn't do too much general wildlife recording in August; most outings were paid surveys and I didn't have time to take many close-up photos of plants. However, highlights included the first flowering of Tuberous Pea in Gosport for many years, some nice shots of Sea-holly and Marsh Willowherb and a visit to Breamore Marsh at the end of the month to see Brown Galingale. Towards the end of the month I started working my local patch for migrant birds. As I wrote this up in November 2016 the blog is in chronological order.
Whilst surveying a rather mediocre site I came across some Blunt-fruited Water-starwort Callitriche obtusangula. This was confirmed by a single fruit without wings. See also June 2016. The floating leaves of this species seems to be relatively broad, short and angled, giving a rhomboid shape.
I attempted to photograph some Hairy-brome Bromopsis ramosa at the north-western corner of the moat path, where growing on a bank in dense shade. This uncommon ancient woodland grass is a late flowerer and is usually missed in springtime woodland surveys due to the similarity of the leaves and culms to the more common Brachypodium sylvaticum (False Brome). I think I have also seen it in woodland along the Alver Valley in Gosport. The stems of this one were well over a metre tall.
One of the more spectacular plants at Gilkicker is Tuberous Pea Lathyrus tuberosus. It was found here about 15 years ago by Debbie Allan but has not flowered since about 2007. It grows within a patch of scrub and in recent years has become grown over and almost completeley shaded out. I cut back a space for it a couple of years ago and this seems to have helped a bit as this year numerous shoots were produced and one of these produced some flowers. It is not native to Britain but a long-established introduction which is relatively rare – this may well be the only current site in Hampshire. It is somewhat similar to Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea (see June 2016), but with fewer flowers in the clusters and without broad wings on the stems.
I also took some photos of an unusually showy Hemp-agrimony. I should have looked at the flowers more closely but I think the long projections are modified florets in the flowers.
I also photographed a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus in the Juncus maritimus marsh.
Debbie and I spent several hours on Lee on Solent beach photographing plants and insects. We began with a look at the amenity grassland at the south-eastern end of Marine Parade where I had discovered a few small patches of Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile last year. This species had only come into flower in the past couple of weeks. On the shingle we admired the colonies of Sea Kale Crambe maritima and photographed a single flowering plant of Sea-holly Eryngium maritimum. With the macro lens on the camera I followed the busy 11-spot Ladybirds, managing a few decent shots, but we couldn't find any Adonis' Ladybirds which we have also seen here in the past. We also found a colony of a very small Heteropteran bug, which I haven't named yet.
Fully winged form
A look at the sown annual flowers at Stubbington Green. This is the second year running that this has been done; I presume by the local parish council or Fareham Borough Council. I'm not so sure that all the species sown produce pollen and nectar for bees but it provides a colourful display all the same and brightens up my regular car journeys through the village!
Another visit to show a friend the Tuberous Pea. Also managed one decent photo of a nice plant of Marsh Willowherb Epilobium palustre growing amongst the Juncus maritimus marsh. This species is one of the rarest of the lowland willowherbs and the only one that hasn't spread into urban habitats. It can be told by its very narrow, scarcely toothed leaves and glandular hairs at the top of the stem.
Debbie and I took a quick look at Farlington Marshes to see how much Sea Barley Hordeum marinum was around this year. In fact we only found a single plant behind the concrete sea wall, near to the main lagoon. However, there was plenty of Meadow Barley Hordeum secalinum, which had already mostly died back and with partly disintegrated spikes. Note the more widely opened glumes on the old spikes of H. marinum.
Later in the day we completed a survey of some Portsmouth Water land at Bedhampton. We had a look at one of the springs which feeds the Mill Stream, where there is a nice patch of Stream Water-crowfoot Ranunculus penicillatus subsp. pseudofluitans. I had looked at this spot several times before and also recorded a good variety of aquatic mosses here. This time I looked a bit more closely and was amazed to see a large patch of Opposite-leaved Pondweed Groenlandia densa. I collected one small piece to confirm the ID and to photograph. This species has declined drastically in Britain in the last couple of decades and is now extremely rare with only a handful of sites left in Hampshire. It likes clean calcareous water, so it is suprising that it has even disappeared from most of our chalk streams. When I checked the records later I discovered (not surprisingly) that it had been previously recorded from this spot by one of the past vice-county recorders, Paul Bowman, in 1990, but no-one had reported it since.
One of my first looks of the birdwatching autumn migration season around my local patch of Priddy's Hard, Gosport. This site lies on the north shore of Forton Lake, one of the creeks on the west side of Portsmouth Harbour. When I discovered an Isabelline Shrike here in 2010 I realised that the area seems to collect a lot of migrants which presumably get funnelled into the creek when grounded during poor weather (the shrike arrived after a period of easterly gales). A couple of days ago I had found the first Redstart of the year here, and today it obliging sat in the evening sun in the exact same spot that I had first seen the shrike, by a section of chain-link fence. As it turned out it was a relatively poor autumn for migrant passerines (at least in Hampshire) and after this date I only saw one other Redstart (a male) three days later CORRECTION - on 5th September.
Record shot of male Redstart on 5th September
A visit to this site in north-west Hampshire, where one of the largest British populations of the nationally rare Brown Galingale Cyperus fuscus grows. I'd only seen this species previously back in the early 1990s when I was doing population monitoring of a colony at Cock Marsh, Berkshire, so it was good to see it again after such a long time. We also managed to find a few small populations of a uncommon liverwort Riccia cavernosa, which Martin Rand had alerted me to when he visited here a couple of years ago. These two species occur in what is now a declining and rare habitat: cattle-poached but not strongly nutrient-enriched mud. Another rarity of this habitat appropriately called Mudwort Limosella aquatica also used to occur here.