HAVANT NATURE NOTES for Havant Cemetery in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016

Mon 20th June

(Link to previous day’s entry)

Cemetery visits on June 18 and 19.

I have now selected and edited the photos I took during my June Cemetery visits (to Havant Cemetery and St Faiths churchyards on Sat 18 June and to Warblington Cemetery on Sun 19 June). The results are shown below.

Starting with Havant Cemetery one of the first things I saw was Chicken of the Woods fungus growing from the heavily pruned old Cherry Plum tree close to the vehicle entrance (after entering from Eastern Road turn right then look on the north side of the tree). The photo below is of the easier to spot specimen on a tree stump on your right as you exit the St Faith's area onto New Lane. To accompany this fungus I have chosen a patch of gelatinus algal growth called Nostoc commune but which I call 'Land-weed' as it is similar to Sea-weeds but growths on land. For more info on this strange but not rare growth see Nostoc Commune.


Chicken of the Woods fungus and Nostoc commune alga/cyanobacterium

Next I turned to more familiar flowers left from the Borough Council's sowing of wild flower seed in past years - several species persist where they were sown within the stone frame of graves, making them safe from grass mowing.


Common Toadflax and Red Campion growing under a Copper Beech tree

Next are young fruits developing on Cherry and Walnut trees.


Cherries and Walnuts starting to develop on trees in the main area

Moving to the St Faith's area I found a small patch of Yellow Rattle which was having little effect on the long grass around it (this species is said to be parasitic on grasses) and I also found a couple of tall stems of Crow Garlic (aka Wild Onion) which only occasionally develop flowers - normally they skip the flower stage and put their energy into developing small bulbils which will eventually drop from the flower head to become separate new plants.


Yellow Rattle flowerhead already developing the seed pods which 'rattle' when dry. Also Crow Garlic 'flower heads' developing bulbils rather than flowers

Leaving the cemetery I walked up New Lane to the allotments where several plants of 'Weasels Snout' (aka Lesser Snapdragon) were flowering on the pavement (I could only see a couple of plants left inside the fence) and when I arrived back home I took a shot of the self sown Wild Strawberry plant growing on my driveway and now bearing rich red fruit.


Weasel's Snout growing on the pavement outside the New Lane allotments and Wild Strawberry fruits growing in my driveway

After a coffee break I walked to St Faith's churchyard where recent rain was encouraging Umbrella Liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha) to reproduce and extend its hold on the damp, shaded gully along the north side of the church nave. A diagram of the life cycle of this Liverwort can be seen at Liverwort life cycle. This tiny organism produces female organs (the prominent 'palm tree' like umbrellas) and male organs (flat topped umbrellas) and when these are fully developed a shower of rain causes the female umbrellas to develop eggs between the 'ribs' of its umbrellas and the male umbrellas to eject sperm which 'swims' through the water and up the stems of the female umbrellas to reach the eggs. From this union a new 'thallus' (the ground hugging flat 'leaves' which can be seen below the umbrellas) will develop and will eventually generate new 'gametophores' (the scientific name for the umbrellas)


A close look at the Umbrella Liverworts and a view of where to look for them

Coming round to the rich grassland south of the church I took a photo of the notice reflecting the recent agreement between the Church Biodiversity Group and the Norse organisation which is responsible for mowing and other maintenance of the Churchyard. This is to be welcomed in so far as it prevents the destruction of the wild flowers which give pleasure to humans visiting the church for relief from the stress of modern life and at the same time supports the biodiversity of the planet. It does not, however, ensure sensitive management of the area unless both parties (Norse and the Church) take an ongoing, active role in both controlling unwanted plant growth in response to day by day natural conditions. 'No mowing' of an area for several months is bound to lead to a loss of biodiversity, giving carte blanche to the 'bullies' of the natural world (coarse grasses, brambles, nettles and shrubs) to crowd out the smaller, more colourful species, while the drawing of lines between areas of sensitive wildlife mangement and the insensitive use of chemicals to control the growth of White Comfrey where the plants cannot be mown (under the metal railings separating the churchyard from the public path along its southern boundary) does not give a good impression of the area being 'sensitively managed'.


One of several 'No Mowing' areas and the Ox-eye Daisies it protects

Where the No Mowing agreement does not apply a yellow Welsh Poppy was flowering under the protection of the popular bench seat in the Dewhurst Garden though other natural growth around the bench had been killed off with weedkiller and along the railings separating the Churchyard from the public path connecting Homewell St to South St the mass of White Comfrey plants (which are now past flowering) have been killed off in the same way.


A yellow Welsh Poppy seeking sanctuary under the Dewhurst bench and the southern railings which offer no such protection

A final look round the churchyard picked out the prominent bush of wild roses with the still healthy Ash tree (no signs of Ash Dieback so far) dominating the scene plus a fresh branch of Red Oak leaves obscuring the view of the Robin Hood pub on the far side of Homewell Street.


The still healthy Ash tree and Dog Rose bush dominating the southern view and fresh leaves of the young Red Oak overhanging Homewell St.

Normally several Wall Lettuce plants would now be flowering on the wall outside Homewell House but recent development here has discouraged them but on my way home I found they now enjoy the protection of the stone flagged 'garden' of the Empire Court flats which have replaced the Empire Cinema which provided East Street entertainment in the 1970s.


Flowers and the general structure of the Wall Lettuce plants in the 'garden' of the Empire Court flats

To complete this month's Cemetery Visits I will include my visit to Warblington here although it actually took place on the next day, June 19.

The hedgerow around the Warblington Cemetery extension has plenty of flowering Elder bushes but one flowerhead caught my eye in having very few of its florets open. The following pair of photos show the normal open flowerhead and contrast it with the unusual 'skeleton' flowerhead.


Normal and 'skeleton' Elder flower heads

More colourful items seen in the Extension were this fresh Small Tortoiseshell butterfly and a very deep red Poppy


Small Tortoiseshell and a deep red Poppy

Reaching the southernmost track across the western block of the old cemetery I found a plant which was not yet in flower but still gave me great pleasure to see it flourishing in profusion along both sides of the tarmac path. This is Round-leaved Fluellen which will soon have tiny, furry backed, brown and yellow flowers - until they appear you can have a foretaste of the pleasure that this plant gives me by seeing a photo at Round Leaved Fluellen. Nearby was a commoner wild flower that is only just starting to open its yellow flowers - Ladies Bedstraw.


Round-leaved Fluellen leaves and Ladies Bedstraw flowers.

A fresh growth of Chicken of the Woods fungus attracted me to a elderly ornamental Cherry Tree in which a pair of Green Woodpeckers had made their nest in the past. Later, as I was passing the Toilet block near the entrance gate, I found a colourful clump of Opium Poppies which had sown themsleves into the tarmac of the roadway but were flourishing despite to absence of normal soil.


Chicken of the Woods fungus growing above an old Green Woodpecker nesthole and some flourishing Opium Poppies.

Mon 16th May 2016

(Link to previous day’s entry)

Cemetery visits give me ten first flowers, five butterflies and a new site for Hairy Garlic

My monthly visit to the three Havant area cemeteries started with a view of a massive Horse Chestnut tree in full flower at the corner of New Lane at its junction with Eastern Road though my first photo, of a flowering Laburnum tree, was taken in Beechworth Road.


Laburnum and Horse Chestnut in full flower

Within the cemetery Common Dog Violets were flowering profusely in the south east and as I moved further north I came on my first plant of Salad Burnet in flower.


Common Dog Violets and first flowers opening on Salad Burnet

Still in the north east area I found Black Knapweed (also known as Hardheads) opening its first flower of the year before spotting the much more eye-catching flowers of the two Cockspur Thorn trees against the eastern wall.


First flowers of Black Knapweed and Cockspur Thorn

Along the northern wall dividing the cemetery from the allotments the flower buds of Himalayan Giant Brambles were not yet open though the purple flowers of Russian Comfrey could be seen but on the cemetery side of the wall a Holly tree was flowering as one of the Holly Blue butterflies that are now on the wing flew by. Moving on to the wall of the Dissenters section the cascade of apparently lifeless vine hanging over the wall proved to have a few first flowers.


First flowers of Holly and the Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree

The St Faith's area had nothing new to offer (though a Speckled Wood butterfly offered me a good photo but closed its wings as I pointed my camera at it) but I did get a picture of Ivy-leaved Toadflax on the outside of its New Lane wall as I headed for the Dissenter's area where the minute flowers of Cleavers (aka Goosegrass) greeted me at the gate.


Ivy-leaved Toadflax and the tiny flowers of Cleavers

In the Dissenter's area another inconspicuous flower, Hairy Tare, became another first on my year list while the shaded ground at the back of this area had a more colourful patch of Ground Ivy.


My first Hairy Tare flowers and a patch of Ground Ivy in the Dissenter's area.

Walking through the Railway Station forecourt on my way to St Faith's Church I found flowers on two more plants opening their first flowers of year. One of them, White Clover, was a genuine 'first', but the other, Broad-leaved Willowherb, had been seen for the first time two days ago and was mentioned in my previous blog entry.


White Clover and Broad-leaved Willowherb in Havant Station forecourt.

Reaching St Faith's I found this was a 'Speedwell Day' with examples of five species in flower - surpisingly I did not spot any Common Field Speedwell which is normally the commonest species. Walking down Homewell Street the Churchyard wall gave me Slender Speedwell and completing my external circuit in South Street I found the deep blue flowers of Grey Field Speedwell flourishing in another crack in the wall and making its first appearance at this site. Also present here were Germander Speedwell, Wall Speedwell, and Thyme-leaved Speedwell.


Slender and Grey Field Speedwell in the external walls of St Faith's Churchyard.

While making my external circuit along the path from Homewell St to South St I was pleased to find Maidenhair Spleenwort Fern still surviving on the old wall where Ivy and recent lack of rain have reduced the show of Fern species and in the churchyard I spotted Cut-leaved Cranesbill hiding among the grass


Maidenhair Spleenwort Fern and Cut-leaved Cranesbill

This afternoon I cycled to Warblington, starting my visit as usual in the extension where the first things to catch my eye were a couple of Iris flowers, one blue and yellow and the other white and yellow. I think both fitted the description of Spanish Iris (Iris xiphium) of which white flowered varieties occur as well as the bright blue petalled normal form. These were growing in the north east corner of the extension very close to the northern hedge and a little further west along this hedge I came on my first open flower on an Elder bush.


Brightly coloured examples of Spanish Iris and the pure white first Elder flower.

In the main cemetery my first surprise was to find Hairy Garlic close to where the machinery for the site is stored - my photo shows the flourescent jacket of one of the staff draped over the bench beside which the plant was growing - for me this species is new for this site. Nearer to the east end of the cemetery I was on the look out for the small tree with the zig-zag trunk and white flowers that I became aware of in August last year on account of its unusual bladder-like seed pods. Today I saw this tree's flowers (which give it the name Carolina Silverbell) for the first time.


Hairy Garlic, a new plant for the cemetery, and a first view of the Carolina Silverbell tree in flower

Below is a close up of the flowers I saw today plus a photo of the seed pods which drew my attention to the tree in August last year.


I often find the memorials to those buried here of great interest but hesitate to include photos which might intrude on the grief of relatives but the career of one man which I read today is both unusual and can only be remembered with pride. So, omitting the name, this career was stated as starting in the Royal Military Police where he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant before becoming a Chief Inspector in the RSPCA and finally one of the select Chelsea Pensioners. To follow that I added two wild flower 'first for the year' alongside the southern wall of Warblington Church as I walked back to collect my bike. The first was the unassuming Pineappleweed and the second my first Poppy of the year - I assume it was some garden cultivar with wild Common Poppy in its ancestry.


To end a good day I went home via Langstone Pond, where strange but not unexpected gurglings were coming from Egrets on their nests, and then through the 'new Langstone' housing where the tiny yellow flowers of Least Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis exilis) were seen for the first time this year.

Thu 14th April

(Link to previous entry)

My monthly visit to Havant Cemetery and St Faith's chuchyard.

Turning right on entering the cemetery gate from Eastern Road I was confronted by a magnificent display of Primroses but these were flowering last month - this month the striking new display was a combination of Common and Early Dog Violets with the Squill-like Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii)


Massed Primroses and an eye-catching show of Glory of the Snow.


Carpets of Common Dog Violets (left photo) and Early or Wood Dog Violets.

My way of distinguishing Common from Early Dog Violets is to look at the spurs which protrude behind the flowers and to show what I mean I took one flower of each species, removed the flower stalks from each specimen before laying the flowers face down so that the spurs (normally hidden behind and below the flowers) are in full view. In the photo below the smaller, darker flower is the Early Dog Violet which not only starts to flower earlier in the year but concentrates its deepest violet colour in the narrower, pointed spur. The larger, paler flower is the Common Dog Violet which has a broader blunter and paler spur (not shown in this photo is that the sides of the spur are almost pure white). A second distinguishing feature mentioned in Stace's Flora is the length of the sepal appendages which are shown in my photo as the narrow green strips grasping the spur where it joins the back of the petals. These are longer in the Common than in the Early Dog Violet. Stace does not mention the groove (or notch) along the spur and my photo shows that both species have this feature though it is more prominent in the Common species.


The left hand photo shows the features distinguishing Common from Early Dog Violets. The right hand photo is of this year's first flowers on Red Campion.

The next new flowers to catch my eye were the bright yellow ones on a Norway Maple tree.


Flowers on a Norway Maple tree - striking in close up but less obvious from a distance.

Moving to the St Faith's area I found the catkins on the young Hornbeam tree had opened but there was little else new to be seen here or in the Dissenters section though a poor specimen of a Ragwort was starting to flower on the New Lane wall near the entrance. After leaving the Cemetery to head for St Faith's church I found a much better specimen of this Oxford Ragwort under the railings separating New Lane from the station carpark


Hornbeam catkins in the St Faith's area and the first Oxford Ragwort flowers near the disused railway signal box.

The dominant flower at St Faith's today was the White Comfrey now flowering around much of the periphery of the churchyard but I also found Slender Speedwell had started to flower both on the grass and on the wall separating the churchyard from Homewell Street.


The mass of White Comfrey and a few flowers of Slender Speedwell photographed from Homewell Street.

Before leaving the site I found one cluster of the tiny blue flowers of a species of Cornsalad (likely to be Keel-fruited but maybe Common Cornsalad - the difference cannot be determined until the plants have set seed). On the way home, walking through the Twittens, I took a final photo of a plant of Beaked Hawksbeard which I first saw and mentioned in this blog on April 7th - I do not expect this to be in flower until May but its flower buds indicate that it may flower well before the end of April.


Cornsalad flowering in the churchyard and Beaked Hawksbeard soon to open its flowers in The Twittens.

Sat 19th March

(Link to previous entry)

Full report on this months Cemetery Visits on Mar 16 plus more recent news

Mar 16th was sunny, if not very warm, and I started my Cemetery visits at Havant New Lane where the Primroses planted last year outside the Cemetery Wall at the New Lane/Eastern Road junction were in full flower though they did not show up well in the photo I took so I waited till I was inside the site to set the scene.


Massed Primroses within the Cemetery plus one of a few mauve flowered specimens

By March I expect to see a mass of Early Dog aka Wood Violets flowering under the conifers beside the eastern section of the perimeter path but this year I could only find one specimen (though several have already appeared in my own garden) - hopefully they will carpet the ground in April. Another new flower was the first Buttercup to be seen here.


The first lone specimens of Early Dog Violet and Creeping Buttercup

Still in the Borough section I found a good show of fresh Blue Anemones planted to enhance a grave, unlike the 'escapees' which I featured last month, half hidden by Ivy and with no obvious association with a particular grave, in the south west corner of the St Faith's section. Throughout all areas Yew trees can be found but each of them is either male or female. Earlier in the winter the females revealed them selves by bearing bright red berries (technically these are called arils as unlike e.g. Blackberries they are not a collection of many soft, sweet globules of fruit, each containing a tiny seed, but have a single large poisonous 'nut' enclosed in a single bright red sweet outer coating designed to attract birds to eat them and then defecate the nuts without having a chance to poison the bird - humans should never attempt to eat these arils as our digestive system will attempt to consume the nut. For more on this subject see Poisonous fruits. The birds have by now stripped the female trees of their arils but the males are now easy to spot as nearly all their branches are laden with hundreds of tiny yellowish sacs of pollen ready to burst open an scatter a clearly visible cloud of pollen in response to any shaking of the branch by the wind or a human hand.


Blue Anemones around a grave and a distant view of a male Yew whose pollen sacs give the branches a yellow tinge

In the St Faiths section I found Cherry Laurel in full flower and also took a photo of two small patches of Primroses planted by the Conservation Volunteers last year.


Cherry Laurel and Primrose flowers in St Faiths section

In the Dissenters section the Mahonia bush just inside the entrance has at last come into full flower and further inside I found flower buds just starting to open on a Bay tree.


Mahonia and Bay tree now starting to flower in the Dissenters section

From the Havant Cemetery I walked to St Faith's churchyard but found nothing new there though the number of Sweet Violets under the big Yew Tree have increased significantly in the past few days and there are now several plants of White Comfrey in full flower.


Sweet Violets and White Comfrey in St Faith's churchyard.

After lunch I cycled to Warblington where Serbian Squills had started to flower in the New Burial Area and an ornamental type Apple Tree had opened is first flowers at the east end of the old cemterery.


Serbian Squills and ornamental Apple blossom at Warblington

Near the Apple Blossom I took a close up of the pollen sacs on a male Yew tree and when walking back to the Extension to collect my bike I took a final picture of some Ivy Leaved Speedwell showing its tiny, very pale blue flowers growing at the foot of the church wall.


Yew pollen sacs and Ivy Leaved Speedwell at Warblington.

Tue 16th February

(Link to previous entry)

My monthly cemetery visits discover the grave of a brave Methodist Minister and add one wildflower to my February list

A hard overnight frost had not been completely cleared from the ground by the sun rising in a cloudless sky when I reached Havant Cemetery this morning but the first thing to catch my attention was the sound of a chain saw disposing of wood which was left on the ground after major 'crown reduction' of two mature trees.


Tree surgery in Havant Cemetery letting in more light and enhancing the views.

The trees which had been reduced were alongside the main 'road' into the cemetery from Eastern Road and continuing along that road we come to the Holocaust Memorial where the annual commemoration ceremony was held on Jan 27 and plenty of Remembrance Poppies where still left on the ground - for anyone who does not know about the annual ceremony they can read about it at Holocaust Memorial Day. Continuing north to the wall of the allotments the bright sunlight caught the inscription on a grave with no headstone which I have never before noticed in many years of monthly visits to the cemetery. The inscription told me that this was the grave of a Methodist Minister but what attracted my interest was that he had been awarded both a Distinguished Service Order and a Military Cross, presumably during the First World War, as well as a CBE. If you want to know more about him see George Standing and if you are as unaware as I was about Primitive Methodism see Primitive Methodism


The Havant Holocaust Memorial and the grave of George Standing CBE DSO MC.

The main wildlife feature today was birdsong from Great Tits, Dunnocks, Wrens and Chaffinches but noticeable by their absence were the noisy Herring Gulls that will soon be nesting on the rooves of the industrial buildings to the north of the cemetery. There was quite a lot of colour from flowers planted by the graves (Primroses, Daffodils, Crocuses and Snowdrops) but the nearest I could get to wild flowers were the Blue Anemones which look as if they had been thrown away a good many years ago in the south west corner of the St Faith's area though they have lost the bright blue colour they had last month. One other wild visitor that I saw was a single queen bumblebee searching in vain for pollen to keep herself alive through the remainder of the winter.


The clump of Blue Anemoness still flowering among brambles at the foot of the wall at some distance from the long neglected headstone in the south west corner of the St Faith's area

On my way to St Faiths I paused at the Prince George St carpark to check on the Common Whitlowgrass which has been much reduced in number this winter and has been more reluctant than usual to flower. My first photo shows a couple of plants at the edge of Prince George St just south of the carpark and the second shows a couple of the few remaining under the fence of the private carpark on the north side of Waterloo Rd where it has been abundant in the last few years.


A poor show of Common Whitlowgrass this winter

At St Faiths one of the first plants of White Comfrey was flowering with Crocuses on the West St frontage near the main entrance but a walk round the churchyard found very few flowers - a few Daffodils and Sweet Violets - but nothing of special interest so I took a shot of the church against the sunny blue sky before heading for Warblington Cemetery.


Little to report at St Faith's today

I cycled to Warblington along the new cyclepath running along the north edge of the Warblington School playing fields and on the new earth bank within the school fence I noticed a couple of plants of what I am pretty sure (by the size of the flowers) was Common Ramping Fumitory to add to the Common Fumitory I have already seen this month, bringing my February species count to 74. Reaching the Cemetery there was again a shortage of wild flowers and my only worth while photos were of the tall Grey Alder, liberally covered with fresh catkins, growing where the public path to the shore enters the old cemetery at the southern end of Church Lane. In the meadow south of the old cemetery a substantial flock of Brent Geese were feeding and providing a background noise to my visit and to the north of the Extension the cattle were 'standing like statues' in a sea of mud while the usual host of Crows were perched in the tree tops.


An impressive Grey Alder in Warblington Cemetery

Havant Cemetery, St Faith's Churchyard and Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 19 January 2016

(Link to previous entry)

Cemetery visits give me my first Chaffinch song and other surprises.

Despite a hard frost bright sunshine confirmed that this was a good day for my monthly cemetery visits though the frost made me wonder if there would be anything of interest to be found. First visit was to the Havant New Lane cemetery and the first thing I noticed looking over the Eastern Road wall was the naked lady shown below freezing in a corner where she did not even have a grave to ornament. Entering the main gate I realised that there had been an influx of small birds seeking food and shelter away from the open fields and woods - Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Robins, Great Tits, Greenfinches and Chaffinches could all be seen searching for food and too occupied with hunger to have time for song. Other than occasional blossom on Cherry Plum trees and the Daffodils and Primroses that have been flowering since last month there few fresh wild flowers but I did find one new patch of Snowdrops shown in my second photo.


Luckily this naked lady cannot feel the frost which these Snowdrops are making a valiant effort to defy.

After disturbing the Chaffinches from their search of the leaf litter I began to hear them practicing their spring song which I normally do not hear until nearer the end of January and in the St Faith's area I found an even greater surprise in the form of very early, though frost bitten, flowers on the clump of Blue Anemones (Anemone apennina) - last year I did not see these flowers until Feb 26. Near by I also found a lone toadstool which I have not identified but think it may be a Tricholoma species by its white gills. Another 'first flower' found here today was the soon to be much commoner Grape Hyacinth


Early Blue Anemone flowers and a late toadstool.

On my way home I did visit St Faith's Churchyard where all I found was a single Sweet Violet hidden among its leaves and a few flowers of Red Dead Nettle and Sow Thistle which I did not photograph.

After some lunch I cycled to Warblington Cemetery where the treetops around the Extension were, as usual, full of Crows keeping a watchful eye out for any potential food and Moles were also being driven by hunger to dig new tunnels in search of earthworms.


Crows in the tree tops and hungry Moles underground.

Along the north hedge of the Extension fresh leaves were sprouting on many Elder bushes, one of which was already opening its flower buds. Also in this hedge I enjoyed the sight of Common Alder catkins, as yet still in tight bud, silhouetted against the cloudless blue sky.


Very early flower buds on Elder and eye-catching Common Alder catkins seen against the blue sky.

In the main cemetery trees were being pruned and I noticed the memorial to a lady who may be the oldest to rest there - born in 1904 and died in 2008. The only wildlife which caught my eye were the long green catkins of a Grey Alder and to make up for the absence of other interest I photographed the magnificent display of colourful flowers placed on the Cremation memorials.


Grey Alder catkins and cut flowers on cremation memorials.

Havant Cemetery and St Faith's Churchyard Wildlife Observations on 26 December 2015

(Link to previous entry)

My first Snowdrop in Havant Cemetery and a Sweet Violet in St Faith's churchyard

Boxing Day gave me the chance to make my December visit to Havant Cemetery, where I came on my first Snowdrop, and to St Faith's Churchyard, where a single Sweet Violet flower was the first I have seen this month, and in walking between the two sites I also added Common Whitlowgrass to my flowering list.

Walking along Eastern Road towards the Cemetery entrance I was expecting little of wildlife interest (despite the bold show of Lesser Celandines outside the wall at the corner of New Lane) so I took a photo of a prominent Lichen on the wall (I think it is called Diploica canescens or maybe Buellia canescens but I may be wrong!) and another of a grave onto which what looked like a Reindeer had crashed in the recent strong winds.


Lichen on wall and a crashed Reindeer

Inside the entrance gate Daffodils were in full flower below the Conservation Volunteers Interpretation Board and with them my first Snowdrop flower of the winter was in bud.


Daffodils and my first Snowdrop bud

Other than Primroses and Daffodils there was little in the way of flowers though some attractive Cyclamens (planted, but now well established) caught my eye. Even the Holly Berries were in short supply, hopefully as a result of having provided Christmas food for birds.


Long established Cyclamen and Holly Berries

In the St Faith's area I was pleasantly surprise to find a couple of fungi - one was tiny and bright yellow (probably the last of the Hygrocybe quieta which I discovered here on my November visit) and the other could not be identified as they were only just starting to push up though the soil near the Eastern Road gate but I guess they will soon become prominent and may turn out to be edible Horse Mushrooms or the similar (but not to be eaten) Yellow Stainers. Near these the Conservation Volunteers had earlier this year cleared a couple of small patches of the long grass and planted a few Primroses which were just starting to flower (though I suspect they will have vanished into the grass before the spring of 2017).


Three fresh white fungi and one old yellow fungus

Just inside the entrance to the Dissenters area the Mahonia aquifolium bush was at last starting to flower and further into the area the Ivy berries were the first I have seen to reach the final stage of their development into large black fruit to sustain birds through the depths of the winter.


Mahonia starting to flower and fully mature Ivy berries

Walking to St Faith's churchyard I was coming out of the Prince George Street carpark when I took a photo of the now fully open catkins on a Grey Alder before starting south down Prince George Street where, on its east side, I spotted the first hint of tiny white flower buds opening on a single plant of Common Whitlowgrass.


Fully open Grey Alder catkins and tiny flower buds on Common Whitlowgrass

St Faith's churchyard seemed to be devoid of any flowers or other wildlife interest with one exception - under the big Yew tree I found a single Sweet Violet flower. Their usual autumn re-flowering started here on Oct 16 but I have not been able to refind any here since then (I suspect they were mown down in a pre-Remembrance Day tidy-up) - I hope they will be left to flower this time! As a token of the absence of any other flowers I have included a photo of a single Red-deadnettle which was the only other blossom I could find.


Sweet Violet and Red Deadnettle

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 17 October 2015

(Link to previous entry)

A look around both St Faith's churchyard and the Havant cemetery

Spurred on by yesterday's discovery that Sweet Violets were already flowering in the Havant Churchyard I took my camera round there this morning for my regular monthly cemetery visit but before reporting what I found in the Churchyard I have more good news in an email from Nik Knight who walked past the Havant Town Milllpond early this morning and saw two Water Voles in it. In yesterday's notes I said that I thought the Voles had departed as I could see no evidence that they had been eating any of the Water Cress which is abundant in this pond and which seemed to be their main food here. Nik saw one of them this morning collecting grass from the land on the north side of the pond and carrying it down to the water (presumably to eat in the privacy of its burrow). This surprised me as I had thought that they ate a variety of plants but only those which grew in the water. My ignorance of their diet was revealed when I checked what Wikipedia had to say, namely ... "Water voles mainly eat grass and plants near the water. At times, they will also consume fruits, bulbs, twigs, buds, and roots. In Europe, when there is enough food to last water voles a long time, water vole "plagues" can take place. Water voles eat ravenously, destroying entire fields of grass and leaving the fields full of burrows, during these plagues. Ecologists have discovered that normally vegetarian water voles living in Wiltshire, England have started eating frogs' legs and discarding the bodies. This has also been observed at a pond in Lincolnshire. The predation in 2014 was severe and no tadpoles were observed in the pond for the first time in about 8 years.It has been speculated that this is to make up for a protein deficiency in the voles' diet."

When I arrived in the Churchyard the first flower that I saw was a single Daisy so I am beginning my photos with that, closely followed by a couple of Sweet Violets.


A single Daisy and two of half a dozen fresh Sweet Violet flowers

Next I turned my attention to the most numerous flowers, those of Ivy, and to the many insects they were attracting. Most of these insects were Honey Bees whose legs were laden with full pollen baskets, but among them were Flies Wasps,Hoverflies and Bumblebees.


One of many Honey Bees and a single Chrysotoxum cautum Hoverfly


A white-tailed Bumblebee and a small sample of the Yew arils (fruits) which will attract the winter thrushes now arriving in this country

Among the flowering plants there were several examples of Red Deadnettle and one of a newcomer to the site - Prickly Sowthistle.


Red Deadnettle and the first Prickly Sowthistle I have seen here

A Cotoneaster bush was laden with small red berries to provide more winter food for birds and Common Polypody (one of the five fern species to be found on the old wall south of the Churchyard) - I have deliberately turned one of its leaves over to show the spore cases holding the seeds which it will release when the rains arrive.


Cotoneaster berries and the leaves of Polypody Fern

Later in the morning I visited Havant Cemetery where the most interesting find was of a plant which I believe to be Borage seen over the wall growing in the allotments. To end this visit report I have a picture of a Holly tree, laden with bright red berries, in the St Faith's area.


Bright blue flowers of Borage in the adjacent allotments and bright red Holly berries

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 15 September 2015

(Link to previous entry)

My monthly round of Havant Cemeteries finds Early Dog Violets reflowering, Ivy flowers starting to attract insects, and several fungi including Poison Pie

As the clouds receded and the sun came out I was in Havant Cemetery where Council workers were giving the St Faith's area a much needed grass cut. With these workers was Graham Palmer, the senior Council Officer in charge of their work now that Rob Hill has moved on. I was able to have a brief chat with him after he had finished talking to the mowers to congratulate him on the way the cemeteries are still being mangaged and I gathered that Rob Hill's position is not being replaced but that the functions he performed are being absorbed into the wider remit of Graham Palmer's job.

My own observations started with finds of three new species of Fungi of which I took the photos shown below. I think the first, whose cap felt slimy, was probably Hebeloma crustuliniforme aka Poison Pie. The second species had a brown centre to an otherwise pale cap and white gills which indicated a Tricholoma species, possibly inocybeoides. The third find seemed to be an edible mushroom, probably Agaricus pilatianus but if it is that species it would be poisonous to eat.


Fungi under the eastern conifers of Havant Cemetery

Under the conifers lining the eastern peripheral path there is a great show of Early Dog Violets in the Spring but I was delighted to find one of these re-flowering today. My photo of this flower shows the straight and narrow spur which distinguishes this from the Common Dog Violet. At the north end of these conifers a Rowan tree brought more colour to the scene with its mass of red berries.


Early Dog Violet flower and Rowan berries

There were planty of other wild flowers still on show both in the Cemetery and over the wall in the Allotments but none of these were new or surprising. Just two more photos taken in the St Faith's section and the Dissenters section respectively are worth inclusion here. First was a fresh Comma butterfly and second came the first Ivy flowers of the autumn opening and attracting Wasps and Flies for whom nectar is becoming scarce as winter draws on.


Comma butterfly and the first Ivy flowers of the autumn

Moving on to St Faith's Churchyard I discovered a species of Puffball fungus which I have not seen there before. I believe it is called Scleroderma areolatum. Equally typical of the autumn season was the rich crop of Blackberries covering some of the tombstones.


Scleroderma puffballs and blackberries in St Faith's churchyard

My final visit of the day was to Warblington Cemetery where one newcomer among the plants was the small Cyclamen, almost certainly planted to adorn a grave but which has now established itself. I gather that once planted it is spread to new areas by ants which carry the seeds (as they do with Snowdrops) and soon becomes established over a wide area. It gets the name of Sowbread as it is a favourite food of pigs in those woods where the pigs occur. Another seaonal sight here were the red berries on a Cockspur Thorn tree


Sowbread (Cyclamen) flowers and Cockspur Thorn berries

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 18 August 2015

(Link to previous entry)

Signs of autumn in my monthly round of Havant cemeteries

Yesterday I visited the Havant cemeteries where common themes were the first appearances of autumn fungi; developing fruits such as Blackberries, Elderberries and Sloes; and the start of re-flowering of several wild flowers that have not been seen since the spring. I also found a couple of firsts for the year with a show of Cockspur Grass (Echinochloa crus-galli) and Autumn Hawkbit, both in St Faith's churchyard in central Havant. Continuing this theme of autumn this morning brought the first prolonged Robin song here in Havant (following the brief appearance in my garden last Saturday of a Robin - which I assumed to one of this year's young - wearing a 'half grown' red breast)


Cockspur grass growing in the south gutter of St Faith's church

The first new fungus was Sulphur Polypore (Laetiporus sulphureus) aka 'Chicken of the Woods' which was growing on a tree in Havant Cemetery that had been reduced to a bare trunk earlier in the year and which was now starting to shoot new branches - to see it enter from Eastern Road and turn right at the first junction to find the tree second on your left. With it is a photo from the internet of the Fairy Ring Champignon species that I found in the short grass of St Faith's churchyear


Sulphur Polypore in Havant Cemetry and Fairy Ring Champignon at St Faith's

The next fungus was the massive Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus) on the north side of Emsworth Road just after the junction with Meadowands, seen en route to the Warblington Cemetery.


Giant Polypore around a old tree stump beside Emsworth Road in Havant

In St Faith's Rose Hips and Elderberries were ripening and at Warblington Sloes had acquired their autumn colour and Alder cones (not edible!) had reached their full size


Rose Hips and Elder berries in St Faith's churchyard


Sloes and Alder Cones at Warblington

Also at Warblington a small tree in the old cemetery, growing on the north side of the northernmost path near its eastern end, has so far defeated all my attempts to identify it - the most puzzling thing about it are the seed pods which hang from the branches like uninflated green bladders, each having a thin stalk around 2 cm long, then the bladder like seed pod aroud 3cm long ending in a needle-like spike 1 cm long. I assume when they are ripe they will fall to the ground and the spike is intended to hold the bladder in an upright position while it bursts to scatter the seed. Below are my photos to illustrate what I mean


Mystery tree overview and leaf shape

A closer view of the seed pods

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 22 July 2015

(Link to previous entry)

Around Havant Cemeteries and an evening roost count of Egrets at Langstone

My news in this update relates to yesterday (July 21) starting with a visit to Havant Cemetery where Himalayan Giant Brambles were starting to fruit and several butterflies were on the wing - as well as the Comma which I photographed there were many Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns plus at least one Small Skipper.


Giant Himalayan Bramble fruit and a Comma butterfly

Two less common observations were of Caucasian Stonecrop in flower and a Wild Rose stem which had been denuded of its leaves by hungry Rose Sawfly caterpillars (not visible as they will already have pupated).


Caucasian Stonecrop signs of hungry Rose Sawflies

En route to St Faith's Churchyard I photographed the Thorn Apple (Datura stramonium) plants growing in Havant Rail Station adjacent to the Taxi turning circle. These are now in flower but do not yet have their distinctive knobbly fruit. When I reached the churchyard I found it had once again suffered a very short 'back and sides' haircut leaving no plants for me to photograph though I did find my first flowering Black Nightshade of the year - a very small plant cowering on some steps to evade the mowers.


Thorn Apples Black Nightshade in flower

At Warblington Cemetery in the afternoon I parked my bike near the Natural Burial area where Chicory was now the dominant flower but amongst it were several Butterbur plants which looked unlike both the common Lesser Burdock and the less common Greater Burdock. I have not yet come to any firm decision as to their identity but rather suspect they have a foreign source and arrived here in a packet of wildflower seed.


Chicory and an unidentified species of Burdock

While still in the Cemetery Extension I found Sloes starting to develop in the hedge before moving to the main cemetery where I encountered a tree bearing 'strange fruit' (not the bodies of lynched negroes but a strangely shaped type of fruit on a tree that I had not noticed as being unusual on past visits).


Early signs of a good crop of Sloes and a tree bearing 'strange fruit'

At the west end of the main cemetery Round-leaved Fluellen (Kickxia spuria) was flourishing in places where it could escape the clearance of the path edges and the mowing of the grass


Round-leaved Fluellen leaves evading mowing and showing flowers

To end this visit I found two more signs of oncoming autumn in the form of Bittersweet Nightshade with berries changing from green to yellow and then to red plus one newly flowering plant of Black Nightshade


Bittersweet Nightshade aquiring coloured berrie and Black Nightshade newly flowering

With low tide co-inciding with sunset and the weather dry but windy I made my second count of Little Egrets coming in to roost at Langstone Pond. My first attempt at a roost count this year (on June 23) found a good number of Egrets in the trees but very few coming to roost and my experience this evening was the reverse. On arrival I found the growth of the reeds greatly reduced my ability to see birds already in the trees and my starting count of birds seen in the trees was less than 30 but by staying on for half an hour after sunset I ended with an arrival count of 52 birds, the majority arriving in the last ten minutes. Most of the young are now fledging and I had a good example of this when two parents arrived at a nest with food which was immediately devoured by the two young in the nest. The youngsters clearly wanted more and pestered the parents so actively that they both flew off with both young also taking wing to follow them. While all this was going on a Magpie had been perched close to the nest, obviously intent on taking any left over scraps (of which it got none).

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 17 June 2015

(Link to previous entry)


Inside the Eastern Road entrance the Horse Chestnut trees had ceased to flower and the leaves looked green and healthy. In a month or so I expect these leaves will turn brown as the larvae of a tiny moth (Camereria ohridella) which was new to Britain in 2002 eat them from inside where they are safe from predators. For a fascinating account of the moth life cycle click the link to a video in the bottom line of the text when you go to http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?bf=366a. Many other insects use the same leaf mining technique to feed and protect their caterpillars and nearby I photographed the mines of a tiny fly (Ophiomyia beckeri) in a Sow Thistle leaf.


Lime Trees are now flowering and Sycamores have already developed their ‘helicopter’ seeds.


At the Holocaust Memorial I found both natural and artificial Poppies and the grass had newly flowering Self Heal.


In the St Faith’s area tall grasses were elegantly waving in the breeze everywhere other than the close mown paths and where Yellow Rattle plants had been sown to act as a natural control on the over-exuberant grass.


Also among the grass were yellow flowered Meadow Vetchling and the tiny white flowers of Lesser Stitchwort.


In the Dissenters area vines of White Bryony covered Privet bushes near the road entrance and on one of its flowers I found this Syrphus ribesii hoverfly.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 15 May 2015

(Link to previous entry)


Today the dominant feature was that all the trees were in leaf and many were covered with colourful flowers. Still growing its leaves was the Walnut on the right of the first photo and it does not have showy flowers, just small male catkins and even smaller female flowers which will become the nuts we are familiar with.


Much more prominent were the white flowers on male Holly trees which are separate from the female trees which are covered with red berries in the autumn and winter. No such separation of the sexes for the Cockspur Thorn trees which grow in the north east corner of the main cemetery – their white flowers (larger than those of a Hawthorn) will soon become large red berries (again larger than Hawthorn).


The Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant in the north west corner of the main cemetery now has a ‘waterfall’ of purple flowers showing its relation to the Nightshades. The second photo shows that the ornamental Cherry trees which were in flower last month have now become small fruits.


There were few new wildflowers this month but the yellow flowers of Birds Foot Trefoil and Wood Avens were just starting to appear


Looking over the wall into the New Lane allotments this Russian Comfrey is just starting to flower in the ‘wild flower conservation area they started to develop last year. The second photo is of Ivy-leaved Toadflax seen on the New Lane wall of the Dissenters area.


The first photo here was also taken in the Dissenters area and shows the easily overlooked tiny white flowers which have recently appeared on the very common weed usually called Goosegrass or Cleavers (on account of the way its leaves stick to the coat of any passing animal to assist in distribution of its seed to new sites). The second photo was an unexpected find on a tree stump close to the gate from the St Faith’s area onto New Lane. This is the edible wild fungus called ‘Chicken of the Woods’ on account of its edibility and good taste.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 9 April 2015

(Link to previous entry)


While looking for Primroses planted by the Friends of Havant Cemeteries in this patch of grass at the junction of New Lane with Eastern Road (the Primroses are now flowering) I was excited to find my first wild Creeping Buttercup flower of the year – it is shown among its distinctive three lobed leaves with a Celandine flower above it to contrast its pointed petals with the rounder flower of the Buttercup.


Inside the Cemetery Gate this
Horse Chestnut tree will soon be lighting its ‘white candle’ flowers while in the south east corner Primrose flowers were already ‘floodlighting’ the ground.


The warm sunshine in this corner had brought out several
Bee Flies –in the first photo one of them is resting on a dead twig to show its furry ‘bottom’ and wings with dark, opaque leading edges and translucent trailing edges; the other is taking nectar from a Celandine flower through its long,rigid proboscis. The second photo is of Common Dog Violets (note the ‘chubby’ whitish spurs behind the flowers)


Within the peripheral path around this corner the ground had a sparse covering of
Early (aka Wood) Dog Violets (Viola reichenbachiana) – the seccond photo shows them growing within an old grave area while the first photo shows the flower spur to be thin, pointed and violet coloured to distinguish this from the Common Dog Violet.


Near the northern wall separating the Cemetery from the Allotments bright yellow blossom was starting to appear on a
Norway Maple tree – you will soon find this planted along many roads. Another new flower for the year is the tiny Thyme-leaved Speedwell which was also growing here but easily overlooked – it forms mats of ground hugging dull green leaves from which it sends up occasional flower spikes (here no more than 3 cm high)


On my way to the St Faith’s area I found this
Queen Wasp checking the wooden frame of the notice board in search of wood soft enough for her to chew and use to build her first ‘paper’ nest in which she will raise the team of workers who will take on this building work as the nest grows to accommodate her growing progeny. In the St Faith’s area I had a brief encounter with the first Speckled Wood butterfly I have seen this year. In the Dissenters area my only discovery this month was of the first unspectacular flowers on a Bay Tree.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on March 17 2015

(Link to previous entry)


In the area outside the cemetery wall at the junction of Eastern Road with New Lane the very common but usually overlooked (because of its small size and tiny flowers)
Ivy Leaved Speedwell dominated the ground, greatly out-numbering the more obvious Lesser Celandines.


Looking over the wall further along the Eastern Road I had my first view of the interior of the Cemetery but it was not until I was inside the gate that I began to appreciate
the variety of the Primrose species now in flower. I chose this example with its Puce coloured flowers as the most eye-catching and on checking this colour was the shade called ‘Puce’ I read that the colour is named after the French for a ‘Flea’ because it resembles Flea droppings of digested blood ….


In past years the area under the easternmost trees has been thickly carpeted with these Early Dog Violets but this year I could only find four flowers (all hidden in this photo!). To compensate for this loss I pointed my camera towards the Holocaust Memorial where Havant Borough holds a Memorial Service on Jan 27 each year.


Moving to the St Faith’s area I found the usual lovely show of Blue Anemones hiding in the long grass in the foreground of the second photo in front of the apparently unremembered tombstone in this remote south west corner of the area.


Three more unremembered tombstones suggested to my imagination that they were a goup of four eyed Martians keeping a watch on us humans – returning from this unlikely thought I spotted these tightly closed flower buds on a Holly Tree (the tiny white flowers will be opening soon).


In the Dissenters section I was welcomed by these bright yellow flowers on the Mahonia aquifolium bush just inside the gate but I had to search for some time to find these flowers of Ivy-leaved Toadflax on the wall of the property which forms the northern boundary of this area.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on February 10 2015

(Link to previous entry)


This visit was made on chilly, dull, but dry day when the plants in flower were Snowdrops, Croci. Daffodils and Primroses planted to provide colour at this time of year when most wild plants are reluctant to show themselves while the air temperature is still likely to drop to freezing point during the night. The only genuine wild flowers seen today were a few Lesser Celandines outside the Cemetery Wall at the Eastern Road/New Lane junction.


Most of the Primroses had not yet started to flower but a few were opening single flowers and the cluster shown in the second photo were exceptional.


In the St Faith’s area this young Hornbeam tree appeared to be lifeless but a close look showed that its leaf buds were getting ready to open.


Still in the St Faith’s area Yew Trees were bearing male pollen sacs ready to open and scatter clouds of pollen when the temperature rises a little more and the Cherry Laurel bushes sheltering under the Yews were equally ready to open their white candle-like flowers but were wisely waiting for the signal that Spring had really arrived.


On my way round the eastern end of the Borough Cemetery I came across this recently cut branch on one of a small group of large conifers whose identity I had never bothered to discover so today I had a closer look at one and am pretty sure it is a form of Thuja plicata (Western Red-cedar) though that naturally has a single straight trunk where this group of trees all have the form shown in the second photo with multiple branches curving out from the base to give the tree a giant ‘U’ shape which I cannot find mentioned in my books or on the internet – I suspect the trees were artificially given this form by pruning in their early stages of growth. The species is very common along the west coast of North America where it can grow to well over 200 ft tall and can live for over 1000 years – one specimen is said to be 1460 years old. It thrives in our climate and is often used for hedging.

Among the expected bird song I was surprised to see and hear several Chaffinches – I only heard the first song of the year from one of these birds yesterday but today they seemed to be singing everywere with several heard while I was in the Cemetery - II suspect that they were members of a large winter flock that happened to be passing through the Havant area. One or two pairs usually nest here.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on January 11 2015

(Link to previous entry)


Outside the cemetery wall, at the junction of Eastern Road with New Lane, these Lesser Celandines were already in flower when I arrived this morning.


Just inside the Eastern Road entrance both Snowdrops and Crocuses were starting to flower in the weak sunshine


At the Holocaust Memorial this Christmas Rose Hellebore was in flower and just inside the Eastern Road wall west of the entrance some White Coral fungus, first seen on Boxing Day, was still flourishing


Other than the Celandines I did not find any wild flowers today but there was promise of spring in the pollen sacs on the Yew trees and in these flower buds on a Bay tree in the Dissenters area (these also attracted a Queen White-tailed Bumblebee which seemed to be searching the tree for open flowers but failing to find any - hopefully she found nectar in the Mahonia flowers just opening at the entrance to this area).


I admire those who meet bereavement with a refusal to be overcome by grief and so I was heartened to find one grave adorned with a Christmas tree plus a Father Christmas with a red-nosed Reindeer.


Overnight frost was yielding to morning sunshine and that in turn was causing several birds to sing - hopefully next month's visit will yield more in the way of signs of spring.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on December 6 2014

(Link to previous entry)


Looking over the wall from the Eastern Road the low sun in a cloudless sky had cleared the frost from the grass exposed to sunshine but the second photo shows that it was taking some time to do so and the only wildlife in sight were four Squirrels urgently seeking food and not waiting to be photographed.


Reaching the entrance I took a photo of the lichens on the stonework and in so doing noticed a number of flies had survived the overnight frost and were warming themselves in the sunshine.


The flies had attracted the attention of a small spider who was enjoying one for breakfast. Although not often seen this species, Zygiella montana, takes three years to reach maturity using both webs and ‘stalking’ to catch enough food to survive the winters on the tree trunks, rocks and walls where it lives. Its webs are distinctive in having a missing segment from their circular shape.


Inside the cemetery the number of berries had been reduced by numerous Blackbirds, probably coming from the continent, and most of the wild flowers had succumbed to the recent drop in temperature.


This Holly tree and most of the Yews were crowded with birds feeding on the berries but at the same time hiding from surprise attack by Sparrowhawks. The second photo shows how the birds benefit the tree by sowing the inedible tree seeds after digesting the soft edible and colourful outer covering of the berries.


The Dissenters section had not yet felt the warmth of the sun but the trees at its east end provided a shield from the overnight frost though I found nothing taking advantage of this shelter. Out in the exposed area the Wasp nest in the ground behind this prominent tomb, which had been active last month, was now still and silent. Maybe the Queen had found winter shelter in the trees.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on November 10 2014


These views from the Eastern Road entrance typify the damp, dull November day which I chose for my visit as it was not actually raining and the strong wind had temporarily subsided.


This rain soaked tree trunk, now leafless and thus without protection from the rain and wind, has become so wet that a leaf blown by a strong wind has become firmly fixed to the trunk. Unlike the deciduous trees the form of conifer in the second photo (a Cypress species?) gave me shelter when a brief rain shower started.


When the rain ceased I took these photos of trees (Scots Pine and Sycamore?) providing less shelter but addding to the variety of species on view here.


This Holly tree in the St Faith’s area had an excellent show of bright red berries but they will not last long if the weather turns cold and brings flocks of winter thrushes – I was reminded of this when I heard the rattle of a Mistle Thrush flying over which attracted me to look up to the overcast sky shown in the second photo.


The Dissenter’s Section had more Holly Berries but I was more interested in these developing berries on Ivy –the first sign of the end of the Ivy flowers which have until now attracted and fed many insects but are now giving way to the bulkier berries that will feed birds in the winter.


These last two photos show that a few wild flowers (Red Campion and Common Ragwort) are still providing a little colour. More surprisingly the active underground Wasp nest which I saw here last month still had a continuous stream of Wasps coming and going through its entrance – they were presumably finding pollen somewhere but I did not see any doing so.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on October 14 2014


At the junction of New Lane with Eastern Road the external wall of the Cemetery cuts across the junction leaving a triangle of ‘No Man’s Land’ which is in fact part of the Cemetery and this month the newly formed local Friends of Havant Cemeteries group which has taken over from the national Conservation Volunteers has planted Primroses in this triangle (can you spot them in the photos?) to make the approach to the Cemetery more colourful in the spring. If you want to know more (and hopefully to join them) visit http://www.friendsofhavantcemeteries.org.uk.


Along the eastern wall these tall Poplars have almost shed their leaves but their neighbouring Cockspur Thorn trees are still bright with colourful berries.


Down at ground level relatively warm and damp conditions have brought out some early spring flowers of which this Red Clover and Thyme Leaved Speedwell plants are good examples.


Moving into the St Faith’s area I took this colourful picture of red Holly berries against yellow Ivy flowers but was surprised to find edible looking Blackberries below the Holly.


In the Dissenters section I had two surprises. Hiding in an Ivy flower was a Woodlouse with ‘antlers’ and twin tails but I could not get a good photo of these features which identify the species as Porcellio scaber – to see it clearly go to http://www.the-piedpiper.co.uk/th11c(2).htm . My second surprise was to find I was standing above a large hole in the ground (possibly dug by a Fox?) with many Wasps continuously streaming in and out to feed on the Ivy – if you look closely in the centre of my hopeless picture you may just make out three of the wasps in flight!


To end I have a photo of a new ‘wildflower seedbed’ in the adjoining Allotments which should add interest next year whereas the Borough Cemetery is already showing a new style of grave.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on September 15 2014

(Link to previous entry)


Two typical September sights were this Speckled Wood butterfly and these ‘ready for battle’ Conkers.


Self-sown Cyclamen flowers are becoming common in the English countryside as it becomes more like their Mediterranean homeland. Autumn is when they flourish but this single Early Dog Violet was very unexpected. I recently discovered pigs enjoy eating the Cyclamen corms, hence the English name ‘Sowbread’.


Although it is difficult to separate this ‘yellow daisy’ from the many others in the cemetery it was a species I have never seen here before – a Hawkweed called Hieracium subaudum . I also had difficulty in naming this fungus growing at the foot of a tree but I think it is Agaricus Placomyces which is a woodland species.


In the St Faith’s area the grass is in need of its annual cut but the dense ground layer has not hampered the development of the Holly Berries (just visible in this photo!) which are beginning to redden on this tree and the first few Ivy flowers are now starting to open and will soon attract a mass of insects to their rich supply of nectar.


When I took this photo of ‘an insect’ on this Field Scabious flower I was not aware that it was a mating pair of Helophilus pendululus Hoverflies whose ‘striped jerseys’ give them the unofficial name of Footballers. The snail in the second photo is a species called the Strawberry Snail and can be identified by its shape and thin white belt.


The flowers which enhance this Holocaust Memorial were planted by the Conservation Volunteers who have done much good work in this Cemetery in support of the work done by the Borough Council staff but I will end this month with a word of praise for those individuals whose personal efforts make the Cemetery a pleasant place to visit – in particular I was impressed by the artistic use of a pile of stones and artificial flowers in this final photo.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on August 12 2014

(Link to previous entry)


Ripe berries on a Rowan tree and Blackberries coming over the wall from the New Lane allotments showed that we were already into autumn


Seeds on this Sycamore tree were also nearing the time when their ‘helicopter-like’ flight will spread those seeds but Ivy is only now starting to develop flowers that will attract autumn insects and the provide winter food for birds


Grave digging cultivates the soil and encourages whatever seeds have arrived in it by the various means of seed dispersal used by plants to germinate. Here a healthy clump of Common Fumitory and a single plant of Black Nightshade (so named for its black berries) are benefitting from this activity.


This is a Flesh Fly which will have developed from a maggot feeding on rotting flesh. Adult females do not lay eggs but give birth to live maggots. The other insect is a Dock Bug which becomes an adult in August after emerging from an egg and passing through five larval stages. It is a herbivore eating Dock leaves


Ladies Bedstraw with Bird’s Foot Trefoil were still freshly flowering on one grave as was Marjoram on another.


This Field Scabious and Common Toadflax provided colour in the long grass of the St Faith’s area

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on July 15 2014

(Link to previous entry)


The dry mown grass and sharp shadows cast by the hot sun were indicative of high summer and the developing Walnuts on this tree were signs of approaching autumn.


Colourful flowers could still be found if you knew where to look – the north-west corner of the main cemetery still had its hanging curtain of purple flowers on the Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant and by peering over the nearby wall into the allotments I was pleased to see the small pink flowers of Weasel’s Snout (an uncommon wild form of Antirrhinum for which the New Lane allotments are the only place it can be found in the Havant area)


An indication that we are now moving from the season of spring flowers to that of autumn fruits could be seen in this first edible Blackberry among fresh Bindweed and Bramble flowers. The large fruits on this bramble show it to be the ‘Himalayan Giant’ species which is native to Iran and Armenia but which has now successfully invaded most of the temperate zone of the world and is still spreading rapidly in Britain.


My visit to the St Faith’s area, where the grass away from the mown paths has been left uncut to encourage wildlife, found several wild flowers that have benefitted from this policy but we will have to wait until next month when Grasshoppers become active to see if the Wasp Spiders which feed on them have survived the winter. Among the plants seen today were this Common Toadflax and Field Scabious.


Flowers within the long dry grass had attracted numerous butterflies, mainly Gatekeepers, but I did have a brief glimpse of this fresh Green-Veined White though it flew off before I could get it into focus.


Two insects which I did manage to capture on film were this red and black Cinnabar moth (some of whose caterpillars in their black and yellow ‘football jerseys’ I also saw today) and this small Syrphus ribesii hoverfly

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on June 11 2014

(Link to previous entry)


First impression on this visit was that there was little new or of interest on show here and the best likely to be found were ‘left overs’ such as this Common Dog Violet.


The first new feature was a result of the cool shade offered by these tall tress along the eastern path now that their leaves are fully grown but this feeling of calm was disturbed when I noticed the mass of Blister Galls on these Poplar leaves. I suspect they are the result of over-wintering Aphid eggs laid on Poplar tree twigs and hatching when the leaves start to open. The tiny Aphids eat their way into the young leaves causing the leaves to blister providing shelter and food for the baby Aphids until other, more succulent, host plants are ready for them when the mature Aphids probably fly down from the trees to, perhaps, Cudweed plants where they will multiply through the summer before finally flying back to the trees to lay eggs that will over-winter (not sure any sex is invoved!).


Before leaving the Borough section of the cemetry I found the Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant was having a second flowering after a first flush in mid-April. Other colour here came from the yellow flowers of Creeping Cinquefoil.


Entering the St Faith’s area well worn paths led off through the umown tall grass which provided a setting which turned this pair of gravestones into irate aliens complaining about the lack of food and shelter for their species.


In the Dissenters section some of the fresh Large Bindweed flowers had this delicate pink striping which seems to be an increasingly common feature (and not a definite indication of the rare Hairy Bindweed which has hairy stems and flower stalks). In the right hand photo the seed capsules of Yellow Rattle are still green and will become much more obvious when they dry and rattle in the breeze.


These flowers of White Bryony were the first I had seen this year but will soon be widespread. My final photo was taken by the gate as I was leaving – why had this Snail climbed more than two feet up a Nettle? Does the slime on which it moves give it immunity from the Nettle stings?

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on May 14 2014

(Link to previous entry)


At first glance recent mowing of the grass in the Borough section of the cemetery and the absence of any eye-catching new wild flowers or insects gave me the impression that I would find little of interest on this visit but that was not the case – the two photos above show that much had changed since last month although you had to look hard to spot the new interest. The left hand photo is of the first flower of Rough Hawkbit that I have seen anywhere this year but from now on its tall, leafless, but very hairy, stems will be a regular sight here though generally uncommon in the Havant area. The second photo features what I think is a new species for the cemetery, the yellow flowered Yellow Rattle which is parasitic on grasses and is often planted to control over exuberant growth of grasses.


In tne north east corner of the site I found these delicately coloured fresh leaves on a hybrid Black Poplar close to the two Cockspur Thorn trees on which fresh white blossom has now succeeded the large red berries of the autumn


This Meadow Buttercup shows that some native wild flowers can still attract attention but growth of leaves on the XXX Dog Violets now hides their flowers that were prominent last month.


Two more examples of newly flowering wild plants that do nothing to catch our eyes are the Lesser Stitchwort (on the left) and the Hairy Tare, both of which have only started to flower in the last few days.


The reddish purple of Common Vetch makes itself slightly more prominent but you have to look closely to spot the tiny white flowers on the Cleavers (aka Goosegrass)


One prominent wild flower just about to become a common sight is the Foxglove but I only found this example in a garden across New Lane and one whose two metre height and sizeable stem and leaves does not do itself justice in this photo is a plant of Hogweed just within the entrance to the Dissenters section.

Not seen on this visit but when I happened to be here couple of days ago I recorded a new bird for the site with a singing Goldcrest searching for insects in one of the Yew trees. Also seen on that visit, looking over the wall into the Allotments spoil heap was my first flowering Horseradish for the year

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on April 15 2014

(Link to previous entry)


The fresh green of new leaves on the Lime Trees lining the Eastern Road contrasted with their rugged old bark and inside the cemetery gates fresh white 'candles' had appeared on a big Horse Chestnut to show the rapid advance of spring which had brought Speckled Wood and Holly Blue butterflies around other trees.


Still near the Eastern Road a large patch of small blue flowers, shown here with Daisies to indicate their size, were on Slender Speedwell while nearby the deeper blue of Germander Speedwell could be found (and will become more noticeable as more flowers open on the 'spire' of blossom above each branch of this multi-stemmed plant.


Easily overlooked among the mass of bright colours were patches of Field Woodrush whose flowers have no need for bright colours to attract insects as they rely on the wind to carry their pollen from male to female flowers (and the success of this strategy can be seen in the speed with which the plants spread across suitable grassland). In contrast Buttercups are insect pollinated though my photo picks out the downturned sepals below the yellow petals which help to identify most of those currently flowering as Bulbous Buttercups (not the Creeping or Meadow species).


Over on the north side of the main cemetery, above the wall separating it from the Dissenters area, the Duke of Argyll's Teaplant formed the cascade of beautiful blue blossom shown in the right hand photo. Later in the year it will bear a few orange berries which are supposed to have magical health-giving properties which you can currently test by buying a carton of 'GOJI BERRY' cordial in Waitrose (the store offers no guarantee of results!)


Still in the main cemetery I found the sight of this flowering tree made a lovely contrast to the pure blue sky and the greens of other trees which were already clothed with leaves. The close-up of the yellow flowers seems to indicate that this is a full grown specimen of a Norway Maple.


In contrast to the tall trees and wide sky the shade under the trees was still getting enough light to generate plenty of colour and I ended my visit with these photos of Ground Ivy in fresh flower despite being a regular sight elsewhere for over a month, and with one of the first flowers of Red Campion to open. Among the many other newly flowering plants which were not sufficiently eye-catching to have their own photos were clumps of Bluebells, Cow-Parsley and several Cowslips while the Common Dog Violets which have now replaced last month's dominant Early Dog Violets would not appear to be 'new' to the non-botanist.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on March 13 2014

(Link to previous entry)

Before entering the cemetery I was enjoying the golden colour of the Celandines that was starting to cover the dead remnants of last year’s plants, and once inside the gates warm sunshine was firing the enthusiasm of many plants, birds and insects to outdo their neighbours and rivals in the race to grow and reproduce.


March brings the peak of the show of Early Dog Violets under the trees at the east end with their colour being offset by that of the Primroses which thrive where they get most sunshine near the Eastern Road. Soon the Early Violets, with dark, pointed spurs at the back of their flowers, will be joined by Common Dog Violets with their blunter, paler spurs, but today I could only find the Early flowers


Moving through the central area of mature trees where the planted Daffodils were at their best I was crossing the grassed area when a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flew by and, finding a warm patch where bare earth reflected the sunshine, it paused to charge its ‘solar powered’ muscles.


The bare earth which created the ‘hot spot’ for the butterfly was on a fresh grave and I noticed it was marked with a simple number only – nearby another such simple grave was immediately adjacent to a much more ornately marked tomb, causing me to reflect on how death is the great leveller, making the bare earth of a pauper’s grave more welcome to the living butterfly than the expensive stonework of a once rich but now forgotten man’s monument (the narrow grave to the right of the imposing memorial has a number only)

Another apparently forgotten memorial in the south west corner of the St Faith’s area still attracts my attention at this time of year on account of the beautiful blue Anemones (Anemone appenina) which continue to flower there until they become swallowed up by the long grass.


Finally I visited the Dissenters section where a Mahonia bush provides some rather untidy colour, and to end I could not resist another look at the eminently tidy buds on the Hornbeam in the St Faith’s area


Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on February 13 2014

(Link to previous entry)

This visit was made during a brief respite from the wind and rain currently affecting the whole country. Robins, Great Tits, Chaffinches and Woodpigeons were singing and overhead the Herring Gulls, which have arrived to nest on nearby factory rooves, were making their distinctive calls.


Since my January visit Daffodils had come into flower and the number of Snowdrops had greatly increased. Several Blackbirds were searching the damp ground, giving the impression that they needed extra food to meet the demands of parenthood though I have yet to see positive proof of nests or young.


More Primroses were flowering and a second wave of Crocuses was appearing as wild Celandines started to flower outside the cemetery walls at the New Lane/Eastern Road junction and in the impressive Fielder family tomb shown below. A year ago this tomb (and the majority of the Dissenters section) were submerged in a mass of brambles so these Celandines are the first fruits of the good work done by the Conservation Volunteers.


A Robin can just be seen on the right pinnacle of the monument shown below and an old nest (maybe of a Greenfinch) was discovered near ripe Ivy berries, the latter two photos taken in the Dissenters section.


Male Yew trees were starting to release their pollen and a tug at the branch shown below created a yellow cloud to drift on the wind in search of a female tree. In the Dissenters section more yellow from Mahonia flowers was beginning to brighten the entrance. The last two photos below show that further into this section flower buds were prominent on a Bay tree while just over the wall in St Faith’s section the young Hornbeam tree was covered in its distinctive buds from which both leaves and catkins will soon emerge.



Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on January 14 2014

(Link to previous entry)


January is the month in which Havant remembers the horror of the Holocaust on January 27 each year (the day on which the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated) and I thought it appropriate that behind the plaque recording this the first Snowdrop of the year had started flowering.


Although the sun was shining from a clear sky the overnight frost had not cleared from shaded areas, making the Snowdrops appropriate as the only fresh flowers seen on this visit although song was heard from several bird species including the very first Chaffinch I have heard this year – Song Thrush, Great Tit and Robin were all heard and a couple of Greenfinch were present.


The sun was quickly thawing the frost and caught the bright red of the Cockspur Thorn berries in the north east corner – the birds have so far left these though they have eaten most of the Holly Berries and Yew Arils elsewhere


With little in the way of natural colour to photograph I turned my thoughts to history and set out to find the location of the chapel built here by St Faith’s Church soon after the land for this cemetery had been acquired from Sir George Staunton in 1850. Although the building has long been demolished the location is easy to find by entering from New Lane through the gateway shown in the first photo, then continuing straight ahead to where a large rectangular space between the tombstones indicates the area on which the chapel stood.

Finally, on my way home, I took a photo of a wildflower growing under the wire fencing of a private carpark on the north side of Waterloo Road. This is Common Whitlowgrass which I think of as the wild equivalent of the Snowdrop and very soon thousands of its tiny plants will create a white line in the moss at the foot of this carpark fence – today I could only see minute white flower buds on two plants.

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on December 17 2013

(Link to previous entry)


This visit was made on a drab December day when the most cheerful wildlife observation was of birdsong, principally the strident piping of a Song Thrush, though Robin, Blue and Great Tits were also heard along with Wood Pigeon and the loud calls of the Herring Gulls which are present throughout the year on the industrial buildings lining the railway north of the cemetery.


In contrast the lack of visible wildlife both Conservation Volunteers and Havant Borough professionals were at work, keeping the cemetery functioning both as place for burying and remembering our dead and as a place of quiet recreation for the living and the wildlife which is an essential element in their enjoyment of the area.


Searching for evidence of winter wildlife I found a stream of thrushes and other birds coming and going to the line of Yew trees along the eastern wall of the St Faith's area to enjoy the sugary outer covering of the Yew arils whose poisonous central seeds pass safely through the birds' gut. The birds were not attracted to the Holly berries nor the bare branched Lime trees along the Eastern Road boundary and remained hidden from my camera.

Moving towards the Dissenters area I found the Conservation Volunteers hard at work trying to eradicate the brambles, and this involved hard work in digging out the roots as well as removing the briers which are more easily cut away.


One of the first things I found on arriving at the cemetery this morning were beer bottles littering the ground and I was able to tidy these away but as I left I came on far worse examples of vandalism. At first I thought that the 'fallen angel' in the first photo below might have been moved from the grave by a strong gust of wind but I had to change my mind when I saw that the heavy memorial stone of a nearby grave had been forcibly twisted out of its intended position. I wonder when the perpetrators will 'grow up' and come to value the work done for their community by the Borough staff and the Conservation Volunteers.


Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on November 19 2013

(Link to previous entry)


By November the grass in the St Faith's area, which has not been strimmed (though the footpaths through it have been kept close mown) was looking rough but ideal for the over-winter preservation of insect life for our enjoyment next year. In contrast the Havant Borough section, seen over the wall, was mown though wild flowers were still to be seen growing within some graves.


One wild flower escaping the mowing was this clump of Ox-eye Daisies (more to be expected in May than November) and another was the Spotted Deadnettle persisting from the sowing of wildflower seen a few years ago. By the eastern wall a Cockspur Thorn tree was covered with the rich red berries shown below.


Before leaving the cemetery I took pictures of the low but bright sunlight coming through the area around the Eastern Road entrance and the fallen leaves lit by the sun.


While in the area I walked a few yards up New Lane to the Allotments which border the cemetery on its north side and photographed two wild flowers which are uncommon in Havant but are still flowering by the New Lane pavement bordering the allotments.


The first of these flowers has the unusual name 'Weasel's Snout' but is also known as Lesser Snapdragon (Misopates Orontium) and the other (below) is Common Ramping Fumitory (Fumaria muralis).


Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on October 14 2013

(Link to previous entry)


These views set the autumnal tone of this visit - still sunny and warm but the Holly berries and Yew arils shown below indicate that winter is fast approaching


Insects still enjoying the autumn 'fruits' included Honey Bees and Wasps taking nectar from the Ivy flowers. I did see one Speckled Wood butterfly but could not catch it on film.


The flowers on this fresh grave drew my attention to the young tree near by and I realised it was a species that I could not name. I am still uncertain but my attempts to name it suggest it is a species of Hickory which comes from North America, possibly Carya cordformis (Bitternut), which is a rarity in this country.


The two trees below are much easier to name and both have seed pods which eventually flutter to the ground, spinning like the blades on a helicopter. On the left is a young Hornbeam tree, on the right a Sycamore.


Thyme-leaved Speedwell on the left and Red Campion were among a number of wild flowers managing an extra generation before the frosts arrive

Havant Cemetery on September 16 2013

(Link to previous entry)


I was pleased to find these insect-attracting Ice Plants (Sedum spectabile) around the Holocaust Memorial, backed by a great show of yellow flowered shrub around the building - although this is a widely planted shrub I had to spend some time finding its name only to be told that it is Hypericum x moserianum (Gold Star) and that it is a popular plant with gardeners and is bred from a native of China.


The single red berry and purple flower is on the Duke of Argyll's Teaplant hanging from a tree in the north west corner of the main cemetery after climbing from roots in the United Reformed Church section. This is also native to China and is the source of 'cure all' Goji berries (usually much bigger than this example and often called Wolf Berries). Next to it is a closer view of the Ice Plants by the Holocaust Memorial.


These two hoverflies are Helophilus pendulus (called The Footballer for its striped 'shirt') and a male Syrphus ribesii


The breeze blowing during this visit caused the long, thin, stems of the leaves of this tree to 'Quiver like an Aspen' which is only to be expected as the tall tree growing by the eastern wall of the main cemetery (close to the much shorter Cockspur Thorn tree which are now bearing fruit - not yet bright red) is an Aspen. Less easy to recognise, the 'slimy mess' growing on decaying grass is something which I call 'Landweed' on account of its similarity to 'Seaweed' though its proper name is Nostoc commune. Wikipedia describes it as a "colonial species of cyanobacterium" and you can learn more about it online.


My best find on this visit was of two lovely Argioppe bruennichi Wasp Spiders (topside and underside) in the remaining long grass but if these are to be here next year they must lay their eggs in these 'Chinese Lantern' egg sacs (which they have not yet done) and the spiderlings must hatch and disperse before the grass is strimmed. (Not my photo of Egg Sac). These spiders are large, beautiful and harmless to us, living on grasshoppers and smaller insects.

Havant Cemetery on August 14 2013

(Link to previous entry)


This is the Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi) which I was hoping to see this month. Harmless to humans it feeds on Grasshoppers which it catches in an almost invisible web cunningly set in the middle of a gap in the grass (central photo) across which the Grasshoppers have to jump giving the spider a better chance of subduing them when they are unexpectedly caught in the web. The vertical centre of the web is strengthened to take the weight of the spider and this re-inforcement (see third photo) can look like a wisp of smoke when the spider is not present. These beautiful spiders are female (males are tiny 'matchstick men' which roam in search of females getting what food they need 'on the move'). Next month the spider will construct a silk 'Chinese Lantern', hang it from tall grasses, lay her eggs in it and leave her hundreds of tiny spiderlings to survive for some nine months until next summer after which those that have survived will repeat the cycle. The presence of the spider in the St Faiths area (previously it could only be found in the URC area) is, for me, a complete justification of the new grass management regime even without the many wildflowers and insects it has also brought.


The first two pictures are of a Gatekeeper (aka Hedge Brown) and a Common Blue and I saw several of each, as well as numerous Large Whites, but the best butterfly was a fresh Red Admiral which landed on my trousers but got away long before I could take a photo. The small hoverfly resting in a Field Bindweed flower is a common species seen throughout the year (with some hibernating over winter). It's proper name is Episyrphus balteatus but most people call it the 'Marmelade Fly'. As well as being a resident in Britain it is also a cross-Channel migrant sometimes arriving in huge numbers like the Silver Y moth of which I had a fleeting glimpse when I disturbed one from its daytime rest in the long grass


The start of the autumn fruit season was marked by developing berries on Bittersweet Nightshade (you may know it as Woody Nightshade) which still had flowers alongside green and red berries (the final stage). Far more edible are the black berries of the Himalayan Giant Bramble which has spread widely throughout the northern hemisphere from its native Armenia (close to Iran) and is now listeed on a US website of the Top Ten Most Unwanted Plants. Despite its habit of stealing the land rightfully belonging to our native plants its large and delicious berries make it difficult to summon up the enthusiasm needed to eradicate it


The Marjoram in the first photo (with Ladies Bedstraw) may be a welcome newcomer to this cemetery but the Burnet Saxifrage in the central photo is not new (it has increased in number this year). The third photo is of Teasel flowers which are less welcome newcomers to the site - if not controlled they could become a problem and it seems they know this as they were doing their best to escape attention by hiding in deep shade.


Above the dry grass in which I found the Wasp Spider an Ornamental Apple tree showed red in its ripening apples (first two photos) while among the grass some was still flowering - see the open flowers of False Oat Grass in the third photo. Another facet of autumn is shown by Garlic Mustard in the fourth photo - in spring it will have been covered in white flowers and may have attracted Orange Tip butterflies to lay their eggs on its leaves. The caterpillars will have fed on those leaves before pupating on the plant where they will remain on the dead skeleton of the plant until they emerge next spring (if the dead plant remains standing through the winter).


Entering the cemetery from Eastern Rd I was confronted with these badly blotched leaves of a Horse Chestnut tree but the tree is not about to die - the development of healthy 'conkers' is a sign of the tree's ability to survive the ravages of a moth called Cameraria ohridella whose tiny caterpillars feed by 'mining' the flesh from within the leaves. The species was unknown in Britain before 2002 but has now spread nationwwide after a dramatic march across Europe following first appearing in Macedonia as recently as 1984. Many species of 'micro moths' have caterpillars which find 'leaf mining' is a good strategy to avoid being eaten by birds or other predators - you can often see similar blotches on many different plant species but none are as eye-catching as this one.

Havant Cemetery on July 17 2013

(Link to previous entry)


I started this visit in the less formal URC section (north west area accessed from New Lane) where the Large Bindweed flowers showed faint 'candy striping' indicating hybridisation with the uncommon Hairy Bindweed which has much strong pink stripes. The central picture shows the Oedemera nobilis flower beetle which is often called a 'Thigh Beetle' on account of the very swollen 'thighs' on its rear legs (this feature is only seen on the males). Numerous butterflies were on the wing and I managed to catch this Hedge Brown (often called a Gatekeeper as, unlike the Meadow Browns which fly low over grassland, it prefers hedges and likes to guard gaps or gateways through them)


The first picture above is of the 'Nursery Tent' of spider silk woven by the Pisaura mirabilis spider to protect her spiderlings from both rain and predators. Initially the long-legged mother spider carries her eggs around under her body but as the time of hatching approaches she binds grass stems together with silk to create a Nursery Tent for them and takes no further part in their upbringing. The second and third photos are of a grave in the main cemetery which at first sight seems full of dead plant matter but a close look shows that tiny cactus like flowers are now opening - this is called Caucasian Stonecrop.


One wild flower that was flourishing in the long grass of the St Faith's section (nearest New Lane) was Field Scabious though the blue of its flowers seemed to have been washed out by the strong sunlight. Hidden from the sunlight by the long grass the Musk Mallow plant had retained its refreshing pink colour - no doubt there were other hidden gems which I missed but the element of surprise in finding these hidden treasures is one of the benefits of the current management regime.

. The closer mowing of the main section of the cemetery reduces the number of hidden surprises to be found there at this time of year but there are still areas where the stonework of the graves denies access to the mowers. One beneficiary of this were the bright yellow Californian Poppies (Eschscholzia) growing against the west wall and at the north end of this west wall the hanging 'vines' of the Duke of Argyll's Teaplant evade mowing by having their roots in the URC section on the other side of the wall, then climbing up trees to hang freely over the main cemetery. The central image here is another view of Musk Mallow flowers from the St Faith's area.


One surprise on this visit was to hear non-stop Chaffinch song - elsewhere Chaffinches have ceased to sing for several weeks and here the only other bird sounds heard were the inevitable Wood Pigeons and Wrens. Another surprise, considerering the cemetery does not have a pond, was to find a small Common Blue (or maybe Azure) Damselfly resting on a grass stem while several butterfly species included a Comma, a Small Skipper, and several Meadow Browns and Whites (probably Small and Green-Veined) were present.

One insect which I have found in previous years in the rough grass of the URC section, and hope to see during next month's visit, is Argiope bruennichi, a very attractive and totally harmless (to us) spider whose colouration has earned it the English name of Golden Orb Spider (some people call it a Wasp Spider but I think this discourages people from getting to know it). Here, in anticipation, is a photo taken in the past ....

Havant Cemetery on June 13 2013

(Link to previous entry)


On this visit the grass in the main cemetery was newly mown and the air was full of the scent of hay but there was little colour from wild flowers so my photos here are of flowers on a Cockspur Thorn tree, orange Eschscholzia (Californian Poppy) and two Roses.


Wildflowers were visible in the adjacent allotments where Russian Comfrey contrasted with the temporary hay field in the cemetery. In the St Faith's section the grass (other than pathways) had not been cut and there I found the very first yellow flowers of Meadow Vetchling, a mass of the tiny white stars of Lesser Stitchwort, the developing seed pods on a young Hornbeam tree and was lucky to catch a Helophilus species Hoverfly taking a brief rest.


In the URC section I was lucky to capture a photo of a newly emerged day-flying Cinnabar moth and a fresh flower of White Bryony.


Havant Cemetery on May 16 2013

(Link to previous entry)


This was one of the few sunny days in May, the trees were in leaf and blossom, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Wren were singing, and I was able to creep up on the Green-veined White and Speckled Wood butterflies as they paused to soak up the warm sun while several other species 'fluttered by' without stopping.


Less obvious new flowers included those on a Red Currant bush (third photo above) which has managed to grow in the deep shade of an ornamental conifer bush, and some people might not notice that Holly trees (first photo) are now flowering though they could be forgiven for not noticing the Hawthorn blossom which will very soon dominate our hedgerows - I only found this specimen in the United Reformed Chuch section where very few florets were yet open. There can be no such excuse for missing the many Dog Violets still flowering in the shaded eastern section.


The bright blue Germander Speedwell and the Ivy-leaved Toadflax above were growing on the outer brickwork of the New Lane wall, seen as I walked from the main cemetery to the United Reformed Church section where the healthy growth of both the Cow Parsley and Bulbous Buttercup was their reaction to the recent clearance of brambles, etc, from that area by the Conservation Volunteers.


At this time of year some wild flowers are so common as to be ignored by most people - the Garlic Mustard in the first photo above, and the multiplicity of grasses typified by the last photo, are in this category while others are ignored because, like the Red Campion flowers in the second photo, they are difficult to separate from the mass of background greenery. Others, like the Common Vetch in the third photo, are quite as pretty as the Sweet Peas which we have cultivated from them but they are quite content to get on with their own lives without swelling to a size that will attract our attention. This thought came to me when I found that the Duke of Argyle's Tea Plant (on which the commercial trade in 'cure all' Goji Berries is based) has just started to flower but the flowers are too small, and hang too high above the ground, for me to be able to take a photograph worth including here!

Havant Cemetery on Apr 17 2013

(Link to previous entry)


As I approached the cemetery the 'waste ground' outside the wall at the road junction once again caught my eye with the blue of Early Dog Violets among the softly hairy Thyme-leaved Speedwell with its minute whitish flowers but inside the entrance the mass of Primroses in the south-east corner could not be missed


Still at the east end there were masses of Early Dog Violet (first and last photos) but also a few Common Dog Violets (second photo) which can be distinguished by the shape and colour of the 'spurs' behind the flower (Early has a straight, violet spur; Common has a blunt, whitish spur)


New on this visit were the 'Glory of the Snow' flowers in the first photos, as was the Mothers Day balloon reminding us of the many human sorrows represented in the cemetery. The last two photos are of the untended grave by the New Lane wall where these lovely Blue Anemones have flourished for years next to nettles also growing without 'supervision'.


Still in the area nearest New Lane I had my first sight of Flowering Laurel for the year and near it the young Hornbeam tree, standing alone by the north wall, was just opening its pretty catkins. In the uncut areas of grass the inconspicuous flowers of 'Good Friday Grass' (Luzula campestris), named for its appearance on or near Good Friday each year, was making its regular appearance while in the URC section the Mahonia bush close to the entrance was in full flower.

Havant Cemetery on Mar 18 2013

(Link to previous entry)


Today the sun was shining brightly and there was no wind so it really seemed that Spring was here at last though plant growth was only just starting. Nevertheless Daffodils, Croci, Snowdrops and Primroses were all out.


Here is one of the better clumps of Primrose and one example of the many clusters of wild Early Dog Violets that abound at the eastern end. Here my eye was caught by the shining whiteness of this tomb, tastefully off set by the delicate choice of flowers.


Moving to the westen wall in the southern corner of the St Faith's section I rediscovered the self sown clump of Blue Anemones (which I noticed last year) starting to flower among a patch of nettles in this out of the way shady corner - those are nettles in the second photo.


Havant Cemetery on Feb 18 2013

(Link to previous entry)


Approaching along Eastern Road the Celandines now fill the space outside the cemetery wall and, when you get inside, the Ornamental Plum trees are in full flower with Chaffinches and Greenfinches singing from the branches in which Great and Blue Tits are seeking tiny insects for food. Moving to the east end Primroses are frequent but the Early Dog Violets which will soon be dominant under the trees today had just two small flowers so my fourth photo is of Blue Anemone flowers from what appears to be a self sown plant


Walking around I added Blackbird, Wren, Long-tailed Tit and Wood Pigeon to the bird list and heard the distant call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The contrast of black and white lichens on one memorial caught my eye, as did the moss 'cushions' some of which had already put up the long stalked male cells that will contribute to the reproductive process. The tomb with this moss was in the separate area used by the United Reformed Church and is behind the wall in the third photo of a young Hornbeam tree whose leaf and catkin buds are shown in the fourth picture


Entering the URC section from New LaneI found the Mahonia aquifolium bush on my left was now in flower but the only other things that caught my eye today were the occasional Celandines peeping up through the grass and the cushion of moss growing on top of the big stone tomb, both of which I have already mentioned, and a single Greater Periwinkle flower where many others will soon follow. Although the Celandines are few they are the first fruits of the good work done by the Conservation Volunteers in clearing this much overgrown site and letting light once again reach the ground

Havant Cemetery on Jan 8 2013

(Link to previous entry)


The first wild Celandines in Havant started to flower just outside the cemetery wall on Christmas Eve and today there was quite a show here. Entering from Eastern Road I found both Snowdrops and Croci beginning to flower but at this time of year there is not much else in flower. Below is a single Creeping Buttercup and the pollen sacs on a Yew tree that will not release their pollen for some weeks yet. I also found the elegantly symmetrical leaves of Hairy Bittercress on a wall and have included a photo of the first to flower this year seen today near Fairfield School.


I very rarely fail to find some wild life interest whenever I go out and today the cemetery added the 67th bird species to my year list with an unexpected Blackcap (seen among Long-tailed, Blue and Coal Tits plus Chaffinches) while a fallen leaf on the ground had a fungus on it which I have not come across before - I have included a photo of the fungus and added a couple of other snaps - one is of the first flowers of Common Whitlow Grass seen beside the northern pavement of Waterloo Road opposite the Prince George Street carpark, the other is of a cat which had chosen to have a snooze in the roadside flowerbed of Glenhurst School.


Havant Cemetery on Nov 28 2012

(Link to previous entry)


Die-back of summer wild flowers does not mean that there is no colour in the landscape and the central photo above proves the point - these three waxcap fungi were all found in the St Faiths section (though I admit to bringing them together for photographic effect) and Holly is not the only provider of eye-catching berries (the Yew arils had brought an unexpected Mistle Thrush into one of the Irish Yews) and in case we should not notice the year round green of the mosses someone has thoughtfully provided the contrasting white of these two Cherubs sitting patiently on an untended grave with the date 1963 visible through a gap in the moss.


An unexpected find on this visit was of an algal growth generically called Nostoc which I call "Landweed" to show its similarity to Seaweed. This blue-green alga can survive frost and ultra-violet radiation and contributes to plant growth in harsh environments by fixing Nitrogen from the air. See http://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Nostoc

Alongside it I have shown Creeping Cinquefoil, one of the few summer wild flowers still on show.


Under the Lime Trees which line the Eastern Road wall I found several species of fungi of which I show three which were in a sufficiently fresh form to be worth showing. Moving to the until recently 'abandoned to nature' north west section with its separate entrance off New Lane I was very pleased with the sensitive way in which the Conservation Volunteers are gradually opening up the area without destroying the environment which this section provides to support a wide range of wildlife (plants, insects, birds and other animals) which contribute to our human well-being

Havant Cemetery on Oct 16 2012

(Link to previous entry)

We have now moved from the season of flowers to the season of fruits and today I saw these


First photo is of Cockspur Thorn berries seen in square H5 of site map, next are Yew arils on the Irish Yew in square E3, followed by Bittersweet (Nightshade) berries which were green and will be black. Other berries seen today were red Holly Berries and red Dog Rose Hips ( at the gateway into the north west section - square A5) The Common Yews have similar fruits to the Irish Yews - unlike the other berries which enclose their seeds in the flesh the arils of Yews have a poisonous 'stone' exposed to the air at the end of the aril, wrapped round by sweet red flesh which Thrushes enjoy eating (the poisonous stone easily separates from the flesh and passes through the bird without poisoning it - don't try this at home!)

Many tombstones are encrusted with colourful lichens and I captured three examples


In the first picture there seems to be little of interest, just random black and white splodges obscuring any inscription but a closer look shows that some lichens are colourful and show some structure - the orange edges in the central photo will grow outwards over the years (but never by more than 1 mm per year). In the third picture four species can be seen - a total of 590 species can be found in Hampshire. Although the Lichens appear to be growing on the stone they have no equivalent of roots and draw no nourishment from the substrate to which they are attached - their sustenance comes from two sources - the rain and wind supply atoms of chemicals while the seaweed-like algae which live within the fungus forming the body of the lichen generate sugary products by photosynthesis. Their reliance on rain and wind is what makes them excellent indicators of pollution in either of these sources of sustenance

Also catching my attention today were the insects feeding on Ivy flowers and a few surviving flowers


Havant Cemetery wildlife observations on Sept 20 2012

(Link to previous entry)

Wild flowers are dying back but there is still plenty of interest as the following photos taken today show.




Row 1 of the pictures shows a tree that can be seen from square E5 of the 'You are here' plan - from it hang branches of an inconspicuous plant on which the purple flower seen in the second picture can be seen. Some will become orange fruits supposed to have magic 'cure all' properties and sold as 'Goji berries'. The plant is the Duke of Argyll's Teaplant - drinking tea made with Goji berries is supposed to give you the long life enjoyed by the Chinese villagers where the plant was discovered by westerners. This plant can now be found around our harbour shores but is rare inland. The third picture in Row 1 is of a Garden Cross spider (named for the faint white cross on its back) which is currently common everywhere on its circular webs.

Row 2 starts with Rough Hawkbit, a 'yellow daisy' that is unusually common in this cemetery - look for the bristles on its leafless stem. Next come Great Willowherb found in square B5 close to the smaller, paler Broad-leaved Willowherb shown in the third picture.

Row 3 has the migrant hoverfly Helophilus trivittatus (which may have flown here from the continent) at its centre with an unidentified small fly on a Bristly Oxtongue flower to its left and a larger fly to its right - all three were found in the URC section of the cemetery with its separate entrance off New Lane

Havant Cemetery wildlife observations on Aug 20 2012

My purpose for this visit was to see if the lovely Wasp Spiders were still present in the long grass of the small section belonging to the United Reformed Church for which the Conservation Volunteers have recently taken on the habitat management and I was delighted to find two big females on their webs in the grass which had been left undisturbed while paths had been cut in the grass allowing me to walk round the whole area. These paths also led me on a route which I would not normally follow and in doing so I discovered an uncommon wildflower (Calystegia pulchra), which I had never previously found anywhere in the Havant area, and saw a good number of Gatekeeper butterflies plus several species of Hoverfly which I could not name confidently (though one had the distinctive lengthwise black and yellow stripes on its thorax combined with the crosswise black bands on its yellow abdomen which put it in the Helophilus family)

Wasp Spider             Calystegia pulchra

Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi)   
This large web spider (body up to 2cm long) is harmless to humans though not to grasshoppers which it catches in a distinctive web hung across a gap in the grass - even if the spider is not present the web can be identified by what looks like a fine column of white smoke rising from the lowest point to the centre. The spiders you see are all females - males are tiny 'matchstick men' which risk their lives when visiting a female (they vibrate the web in a way that is different to that of prey item landing in it, then take a food offering to female's front end before dashing round to the back in the hope of completing their task and getting away before she finishes her snack). Around the end of September the female constructs what looks like a paper lantern and fills it with her eggs before hanging it in the grass at which point her job is done and she dies leaving the eggs to hatch and many tiny spiderlings to carry on the species but you are unlikely to see them until August of the nex year.

Calystegia pulchra (Hairy Bindweed related to Morning Glory)
We all wage war on Bindweed in our gardens but there is a related species which is distinguished by a variable amount of pink 'candy striping' on its white flowers and has minute hairs on its leaf and flower stalks plus ridges running down either side of the flower stem. I was aware of its presence at Fishbourne near Chichester and the Hampshire Flora says it originates from gardens but is uncommon in the wild. Despite taking an interest in wildflowers I have only come across it twice before today when I found several examples along the north side of the URC section of the cemetery. Probably it had been planted there in the distant past but it must have survived for many years on its own and in my book deserves recognition as a very attractive wild plant.

Other things noticed on today's visit were a couple of over-flying House Martins (nowadays becoming a rarity as they cease to nest on our houses, probably because of the scarcity of the insects which they feed on) and a single Blackcap moving through on its way south (the Blackaps which nest here fly south for the winter but others come to us for the winter from central Europe, probably due to a genetic defect in their 'migration compass setting'). The most colourful wildflower in the St Faiths section was the blue of Field Scabious - last year this section was full of the white umbellifer Burnet Saxifrage but this year I have seen only one plant. In the Borough section most colour came from plants introduced a few years ago by wild flower seed sowing - some native such as the Red Campion and Ox-eye Daisy, others more exotic such as the orangey yellow Californian Poppy. One private planting on a single grave which is only now coming into flower and is not particularly eye-catching but is unique in this cemetery is a red-flowered Caucasian Stonecrop