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: blog at jnecology dot com. Refresh your browser if you can't see photos.

· September 2016 ·

Like July, this was written up in November 2016, so the dates are in ascending chronological order. This month I was finishing off a few surveys and doing quite a bit of local birdwatching. Highlights were finding a nice array of alien plants at the new Alver Valley car park on Cherque Way and finding my second Wryneck for Gosport.

Saturday 3rd September

Forton, Gosport

I noticed a few plants of Pale Galingale Cyperus eragrostis at the edge of a kerb near to my house. This species is as an urban weed, though does need fairly damp conditions. See better photos under Cherque Way entry below.

Cyperus eragrostis

Pale Galingale (Cyperus eragrostis)

Tuesday 6th September

Oxleys Coppice, Fareham

A general walk around the fields to the south of this ancient woodland. The only thing photographed was the attractive liverwort Pellia endiviifolia in a deep, shaded ditch.

Pellia endviifolia

Pellia endiviifolia

Pellia endviifolia

Pellia endiviifolia

Thursday 8th September

Hurst Castle, Hampshire

A few scenics taken during a visit to assist with a vegetation survey. Inside the castle I found a small patch of the moss Scorpiurium circinatum (no photo), growing on the short-mown and heavily trampled lawn. This appears to be a new Hampshire site for this uncommon, mainly southern species. It is mainly found in limestone areas and on old monuments made of limestone. There are only a handful of other sites in the county. I shall have to return for a better look.

Hurst Castle

Shingle and saltmarsh flora at Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle (site of Scorpiurium circinatum)

View of Hurst spit from Hurst Castle

View of Hurst spit from Hurst Castle

Sunday 11th September

Dartford Marshes, Kent

My third visit of the summer to a site to carry out a vegetation survey, mainly of ditch habitat. Hairlike Pondweed Potamogeton trichoides was now dominating one ditch where I hadn't even noticed it on my first visit in June. A lot more Dittander Lepidium latifolium was also in flower now.

Potamogeton trichoides

Potamogeton trichoides filling a narrow ditch about 1.5m wide

Potamogeton trichoides

Potamogeton trichoides showing narrow (about a millimetre wide), sharply-pointed leaves with strong central vein

Dittander

Dittander

Dittander

Dittander

Thursday 15th September

Stokes Bay fields, Gosport

To my horror I noticed huge piles of topsoil and turves being stockpiled on one of the Stokes Bay fields. This particular field holds one of the main populations of the nationally Vulnerable Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile in the borough and also has some fine populations of Hairy Buttercup Ranunculus sardous. I made some phone calls and eventually managed to find out that the material had come from Gosport Bowling Club, where they were installing an all-weather surface. The soil was to be used to level off some of the uneven ground. I was initially a bit worried that areas with Chamomile would be buried beneath the soil, and that the imported soil would become overgrown with rank grasses and weeds. However, I think this operation will mainly affect the Hairy Buttercup which thrives in the damper pockets on the site (those being infilled), rather than the Chamomile which grows on the better-drained ground. There is even a chance that the Chamomile could increase in abundance. Hopefully the imported soil will be fairly free of ranker grasses and weeds and will continue to be mown regularly with the rest of the field (which is vital for the continued existence of the Chamomile). I will look at the flora in 2017 to see what happens.

Chamomile

Chamomile on Stokes Bay playing fields

More topsoil arriving

More topsoil arriving

Stokes Bay

Turf and topsoil awaiting spreading

Saturday 17th and Tuesday 20th September

Cherque Way car park, Gosport

Gosport Borough Council had finally finished work on a new car park this summer to service the west side of the Alver Valley country park, which had been acquired by them following a big housing development in adjacent Lee-on-the-Solent several years ago. I suspect that work on the car park had been delayed due to wet weather in winter 2015/16 since whenever I drove past it it seemed to consist of one big mud bath. I'd been meaning to take a look at the churned over areas around the finished car park for some time and eventually made a brief visit on 17th with Debbie and again on 20th, when Eric Clement also joined us. We recorded a very long and impressive list of plants, including many typical weeds of disturbed ground (mixtures of native species, long established archaeophytes and more recently introduced neophytes), the usual bird-seed aliens (including several grasses) and a smattering of aliens typical of dumped garden soil. I won't list them all here, but below are a selection of photos of just a few of them. Some of the photos were taken on my phone camera on 17th so are not great, and when I took my DSLR on 20th it was so gloomy that I had to use flash.

Viola x wittrockiana

Garden Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)

Galinsoga quadriradiata

Shaggy-soldier (Galinsoga quadriradiata)

Euphorbia lathyris

Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris) – now a familiar weed on disturbed soils

Solanum physalifolium

Green Nightshade (Solanum physalifolium)

Tobacco-plant

Tobacco-plant (Nicotiana sp.) – one of several different colour varieties found here

Tobacco-plant

Tobacco-plant (Nicotiana sp.)

Datura stramonium

Thorn-apple (Datura stramonium) – always crops up in disturbed nutrient enriched soil in Gosport, though rare in some parts of the country

Datura stramonium

Thorn-apple capsule

Nicandra physalodes

Apple-of-Peru (Nicandra physalodes)

Nicandra physalodes

Apple-of-Peru

Nicandra physalodes

Apple-of-Peru

Amaranthus hypochondriacus

Purple form of Green Amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus) sometimes split off as a separate species, A. hypochondriacus. Stace gives the English name of Prince's-feather for this.

Amaranthus hypochondriacus

The same plant with different camera and flash (and not overexposed)

Chenopodium probstii

Chenopodium probstii

Chenopodium probstii

Chenopodium probstii (the red leaf margins may be a good character for this species)

Digitaria sanguinalis

Hairy Finger-grass (Digitaria sanguinalis) – also a common pavement-weed in Gosport

Bidens ferulifolia

Bidens ferulifolia – a presumed garden escape

Bidens ferulifolia

Bidens ferulifolia

Bidens ferulifolia

Bidens ferulifolia

Linaria maroccana

Moroccan Toadflax (Linaria maroccana) – another garden species

Cyperus eragrostis

Pale Galingale (Cyperus eragrostis)

Cyperus eragrostis

Pale Galingale

Setaria pumila

Yellow Bristle-grass (Setaria pumila) showing the characterstic orange bristles

Panicum miliaceum

Common Millet (Panicum miliaceum)

Panicum miliaceum

Common Millet

Thursday 22nd September

Titchfield Meadows, Hampshire

At the end of a walk with Debbie we noticed a Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea resting on a Hawthorn hedge. I only had my compact zoom camera with me, which doesn't give particulary sharp pictures, but we were able to approach this individual to within a few inches, so the images are pretty good!

Aeshna cyanea

Male Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

Aeshna cyanea

Male Southern Hawker

We were dismayed to see that the small meadow next to Bridge Street has not been managed for quite some time. I'm not sure who owns it (possibly a water company who have a pumping station nearby), but in the past it has been regularly mown and supports a good range of wet meadow plants.

Bridge Street meadow, Titchfield

Bridge Street meadow, Titchfield in overgrown state

Saturday 24th September

Stubbington, Hampshire

A shot of a Common Hawker Aeshna juncea on the wall of the church at Crofton Cemetery. It was high up on the wall, so this time the compact zoom came in useful.

Aeshna juncea

Female Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea)

Wednesday 28th September

Priddy's Hard, Gosport

A late afternoon walk around my local birdwatching patch. I had walked the entire cycleway as far as the Portsmouth Harbour shore and then returned by the same route. As I started back along the cycleway out of the corner of my eye I saw a bird flush silently from the ground into the back of a small tree on the other side of a ditch about 5 metres away. I stood and watched for a few seconds but couldn't see anything, which was when I realised this must have been a Wryneck! I'd come across them several times in the past in similar circumstances. When disturbed they find a perch and freeze and can be extremely difficult to see, due to their cryptic plumage. No other medium-sized bird would have remained silent like this. After about five minutes and almost as I was about to give up the bird finally flew up and perched in some Hawthorn trees behind, now about 20m away, but my suspicions were confirmed. I managed to get some record photos but the light was poor and I had the wrong settings on my camera. It perched for only a minute and then flew into the thick scrub behind, never to be see again! This was only my second Wryneck found in Gosport since one at Gilkicker Point on 27th September 2003 (a very similar date; though they can occur from end of August to early October). They are probably annual here but are too easily disturbed by dog walkers before birdwatchers can get to see them. A friend also found one at Gilkicker Fort on 5th September.

Wryneck

Wryneck