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.

· October 2016 ·

The summary below was compiled at the end of November. I didn't get out too often and didn't take many photos during my excursions. However, another good batch of alien plants was recorded at Peel Common, just outside the Gosport borough boundary and the first BBS group outing of the season was very fruitful.

Sunday 2nd October

Chalton and Idsworth downs

Debbie and I enjoyed a general walk around these south-east Hampshire downs in warm autumn sunshine. After admiring fruits of Spindle near to Chalton churchyard (and spending quite a bit of time photographing bees and wasps on ivy flowers) we undertook a three-mile round walk via Idsworth church. Plenty of nice scenery but quite depressing how intensively farmed this part of the county is. Birds included a few Buzzards and Skylarks and some large flocks of migrating Meadow Pipits and Swallows; also a pair of Ravens, but no sign of any Yellowhammers which sometimes gather in large numbers here. I took some photos of Traveller's-joy which at this time of year is more aptly called Old Man's Beard.

Spindle fruit

Garishly-coloured fruit of Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)

Spindle fruit

Spindle fruit

Chalton downs

Farmland below Chalton Down (despite idyllic appearance soon to be a sea of sterile oilseed rape)

Idsworth church

View of Idsworth church from Idsworth Down

Clematis vitalba

Developing fruit of Traveller's-joy (Clematis vitalba)

Clematis vitalba

Old Man's Beard

Idsworth church

Closer view of Idsworth church

Monday 3rd October

Gosport

I went to see a Black Swan which had recently arrived in Gosport at Workhouse Lake (at the end of one of the main Portsmouth Harbour creeks). Just an escape of course (native to Australia). It was probably a juvenile bird that had originated from a breeding pair in Southampton. I have never really looked at this species closely before and was interested to see the ornamental feathers on its back, forming scroll-like patterns, which don't occur in our native swans. The intense pink-red bill and iris, and white wing patches make this a very smart bird. After this date it stayed a couple of weeks but then disappeared and may have moved on to Chichester Harbour.

Black Swan

Black Swan at Workhouse Lake

Black Swan

Black Swan

Black Swan

Black Swan showing off wing-pattern

Saturday 22 October

Alien hunt at Peel Common Roundabout

Following our interesting haul of aliens plants at Cherque Way car park (see September's blog), Debbie and I investigated the disturbed ground around Peel Common roundabout, just over the border in Fareham borough, where work to upgrade the roundabout had taken place over the last year or so. A few days after our visit most of the weeds had been mown off, so we got there just in time. The first photo below shows the area where the contractor's compound was situated. This was covered in the usual Chenopodium species, but also had numerous plants of Weasel's-snout Misopates orontium and a single plant of Dense-flowered Fumitory Fumaria densiflora (neither of these were photographed). The latter species is usually restricted to arable fields on chalk, but has also turned up in a few places on roadworks in the Gosport area in the last few years, so appears to be spreading. Weasel's-snout is a declining arable weed (classed as Vulnerable in England), though is still widespread on allotments and gardens in Gosport (see June 2016). On the nearby verges and traffic island there were at least three plants of garden Beetroot (a form of Beta vulgaris), unusual as an alien, but the surprise of the day was finding a plant of Milk Thistle Silybum marianum in flower. This attractive thistle is common in warmer parts of the continent and is a long-established alien in the UK, especially in the south and east. However, I don't remember seeing it before in Hampshire. I also photographed what I think was Red Goosefoot Chenopodium rubrum (usually a species of muddy pool-edges), Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta) and Heath Groundsel Senecio sylvaticus. The last species is locally abundant at nearby Browndown Common in Gosport, so may have colonised via a wind-borne seed.

Disturbed area

Disturbed area by Peel Common roundabout

Garden beetroot

Beetroot growing on disturbed verge

Red Goosefoot

Red Goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum)

Red Goosefoot

Red Goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum)

Silybum marianum

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Silybum marianum

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Malva neglecta

Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta)

Malva neglecta

Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta)

Malva neglecta

Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta)

Senecio sylvaticus

Heath Groundsel (Senecio sylvaticus)

Senecio sylvaticus

Heath Groundsel (Senecio sylvaticus) close-up showing the distinctive reflexed ray florets

Sunday 30 October

BBS meeting, New Forest, Hampshire

I helped organise a joint meeting of the British Bryological Society Wessex and Southern groups at Linford Bottom in the west of the New Forest. Weather was warm and sunny, but recent rain had kept the mosses nice and moist. We had a slow walk up the Linford valley looking at species along the river bank and in adjacent grassland and scrubby woodland. Eventually the ground turned more heathy and we came out into Akercome Bottom where we explored some good quality mire and bog habitat. In the more base-rich areas we found some nice patches of Sphagnum subsecundum, along with other typical but uncommon species such as Campylium stellatum, Scorpidium revolvens and possibly S. cossonii. Also a good range of Sphagnum-inhabitating liverworts, including Cephalozia connivens, C. macrostachya, Kurzia pauciflora and Odontoschisma sphagni. Other noteworthy species included Sphagnum molle and Splachnum ampullaceum. In all about 104 taxa were recorded, including several new for the 10km square, but unfortunately we ran out of time for a decent look at the area, so a return visit some time in the future will still be worthwhile.

Akercome Bottom

Bryologists at Akercome Bottom, New Forest

Sphagnum subsecundum

Sphagnum subsecundum

Sphagnum subsecundum

Sphagnum subsecundum