NATURE NOTES for Warblington 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.

Wed 20th April 2016

(Link to previous entry)

A visit to Warblington Cemetery.

Before reaching the cemetery I found one new flower for the month - Field Madder - beside the cycleway just after emerging from the A27 underpass on the Emsworth side and half way down Church Lane I turned right towards the Old Rectory where Tony Gutteridge had seen a Redstart yesterday. I did not expect to see the Redstart but I wanted to have another look at the trees half-way between the Rectory and Church Lane in the field north of the Pook Lane link road where Peter Raby has had three sightings of a Little Owl during the past month and Tony Gutteridge has also seen it sitting out in the open during the same period - all evidence that there is a pair nesting there with the female hidden on the nest and the male forced to perch in the open nearby. Needless to say I did not see it.

The big surprise on reaching the cemetery was to find a team of tree surgeons removing the lowest branches from the Yews in the churchyard, letting in light to the ground below the trees and giving views of the Church from the approach road to the cemetery extension - in my opinion this is a great improvement (see photo below).

My first four photos were taken in the Natural Burial Area where the trees planted over the graves are flowering and putting out their leaves.


Cowslips on the ground and Cherry blossom against the blue sky on one of the trees.


A fresh leaf on an Oak tree and some eye-catching Tulips.

Moving north across what has for several years been the colourful result of sowing a mass of 'Wildflower seed' I found that the area had been sprayed with weed killer - temporarily this is not an attractive sight but will in the long run produce a more natural effect as well as saving money. As the area is rapidly filled with graves the unnatural features of the commercial wild flowers will no doubt be replaced by the unnatural features provided by the public in the form of grave ornaments such as the Meerkats to be found nearby.


The recently sprayed 'Wildflower seed' area and a possible form of wildlife interest to replace the un-natural flowers.

Leaving the extension to visit the main cemetery I found some Garlic Mustard starting to flower and also took a photo of the result of the Tree Surgeons work on the ancient Yews in the churchyard.


Flowers on Garlic Mustard and the new view of Warblington Church resulting from the 'crown raising' work of the Tree Surgeons.

At the west end of the main cemetery the first flowers were opening on an Ash tree which showed no sign of suffering from Ash Dieback while towards the east end a Norway Maple was covered in yellow flowers.


The first flowers opening on an Ash Tree and the more colourful flowers on Norway Maple.

Last year on my August visit to Warblington I noticed strange seed pods on a small tree which I could not then identify but which I subequently thought I had identified as a California Silverbell (Halesia california) (to see what these seeds looked like go to my entry for August 2015 and scroll down to three photos of the tree and its distinctive seed pods at Mystery seed pods. Today the tree appeared to be opening new flowers which looked nothing like what I expected (see The Silverbell flowers I expected to see.) but maybe they will look different in a few days time.


Today's photos of the Silverbell tree and its opening flowers.

To end today's visit I photographed the blossom on an ornamental Apple tree and a general view of the opening leaves on trees in the central avenue of the eastern end of the main cemetery.


Sat 19th March 2016

(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.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 29 December 2015

(Link to previous entry)

A visit to Warblington Cemetery where I find a Eucalyptus tree.

When the sun eventually broke through this morning I was on my bike heading for Warblington Cemetery extension. There seemed to be very little natural plant life so I began by taking a photo of the overall scene taking in the Castle tower and the Church spire, matching it with the first appearance of some Narcissi flowers planted in the Natural Burial area.


General view of the Cemetery extension and flowering Narcissi

Walking round the periphery of the extension the sun lit up the coming year's purple catkin buds and the remants of last years cones on a Common Alder while the northern hedge had fresh leaves sprouting on Elder bushes. Through this hedge some bird life could be seen around the motionless cattle - Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Moor Hens and a Black-headed Gull were added to the Pied Wagtail already seen in the cemetery while the ubiquitous Crows flew over.


Common Alder catkin buds and fresh Elder leaves

Moving to the main cemetery I had the same difficulty in finding natural interest so started with a general view focussing on the Warblington Church spire, backing that with a shot of fresh flowers opening on a Cherry tree. One or two Robins were singing here and House Sparrows could be heard chattering around the farm. From a hedgerow south of the cemetery came a noisy burst of sound from an unseen cock Pheasant and along the public path crossing the field west of the cemetery a line of Black-headed Gulls seemed to be finding something to eat but there was a complete absence of the Brent Geese that I was expecting.


A view of the main cemetery and a close up of fresh Cherry blossom.

Absence of wild flowers persuded me to photograph the first white flowered Camellia I have seen, and puzzlement as to its identity caused me to focus on a tree whose white trunk and long thin evergreen leaves caused it to stand out as clouds obscured the sunshine. The tree almost certainly is of the Eucalyptus tribe originating in the southern hemisphere and probably arriving here as a cultivar engineered by some UK plant breeder. My investigation into giving it a species name showed me that earlier in its life the shining white of the trunk will have been clothed in a greenish outer covering which has now peeled off and that the leaves of some Eucalypts can be boiled to make a tea-like drink - but beware that young leaves are said to contain cyanide. Before ingesting anything coming from a Eucalyptus have a look at the following two webpages - Warning re toxicity of Eucalyptus oil and Warning re Cyanide in Eucalyptus leaves


My first white flowered Camellia and a view centred on a Eucalyptus tree.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 18 October 2015

(Link to previous entry)

Fungi and some unexpected flowers at Warblington Cemetery

This morning I went to Warblington Cemetery expecting little new in the way of wildlife but was pleasantly surprised with what I found in the way of wild flowers and fungi plus the autumn colours of the trees.

Parking my bike at the east end of the Cemetery Extension the first surprise was to find that the great mass of wild flowers, resulting from the sowing of wild flower seed several years ago, was looking as if this were springtime rather than autumn and I spent some time photographing them. I will include some of those photos later but will start with an uncommon fungus which I found here for the first time last year growing on wood in the southern hedge of the area. I only found it today at the very end of my visit by searching for the dead wood on which I found it last year - by now much fresh growth of the hedge had almost completely hidden the fungus and made it impossible to photgraph in situ so I extracted one of the fungal growths (leaving several others to continue to spread their spores) and photographed it on the bench where I intended to have my lunch. This fungus has the English Name of Wrinkled Peach and is increasingly uncommon as it only grows on Elm wood and that tree has now almost vanished from our countrside as a result of Dutch Elm disease. That disease is caused by another fungus called Ophiostome ulmi wich blocks the channels which carry water around the tree and that fungus is spread by Elm Bark Beetles which infest mature Elm trees but show no interest in young shoots arising from the roots of dying Elms and the fungi I found were on such shoots which had been cut down during hedge trimming. My example had a delicious Peach colour but no hint of wrikles!


Cap and gills of the uncommon Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) fungus

The most numerous fungus was the Weeping Widow (Lacrymaria velutina) of which a large number were to be found in the Natural Burial area where, among many decaying specimens, I found this fresh example showing (in the underside view) the ragged edge around the cap which is supposed to resemble the tattered edge of a Widow's Veil.


Cap and underside of the Weeping Widow fungus

I think my next find was a single example of Melanoleuca arcuata.


Cap and underside of Melanoleuca arcuata

My next two fungal species were, first, what I think is Pluteus cervinus, or the Deer Shield fungus, which was growing out of the base of a very dead tree trunk and, second, a tight cluster of what I assume were Common Inkcaps.


Cap and underside of the Deer Shield fungus and a tight cluster of young Common Inkcaps

Turning to the wild flowers I will start with Chicory in the wild flower seeded area and for a second choice here is a freshly flowering Poppy


Chicory was one of many freshly flowering species in the Wildflower seeded area, along with the first flower on a Common Poppy plant.

My next two flowers are Cutleaved Cranesbill and Anthemis austriaca which is supplied in seed mixes as a substitute for Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis)


Cut-leaved Cranesbill and Anthemis austriaca

My last two flower photos are of Pencilled Cranesbill (distinguished from French Cranesbill by the white background colour) and Round-leaved Fluellen, still flowering when I thought its season was well over.


Pencilled Cranesbill and Round-leaved Fluellen

Lastly a group of miscellaneous subjects starting with some autumn colour and falling leaves


Examples of Red and Yellow fallen leaves

Next come colourful berries of Hawthorn and Holly


Hawthorn and Holly berries

And finally a general impression of leaf fall and a reminder of the colourful lichens which will persist through the winter


General view of falling leaves and of a lichen (Xanthoria parietina) that ignores the changing seasons

Havant Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 15 September 2015

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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

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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. (Subsequently I identified the tree as a Carolina Silverbell - Halesia carolina. For a description of the species see Description of Carolina Silverbell tree. ) 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

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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).

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 17 June 2015

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I started this visit in the Natural Burial Area where the trees are now large enough to shade the ground but outside their shade remnants of the wild flower seeding can still be found including the red of Poppies, the yellow of Corn Marigolds and the white of Corn Chamomile.


Among the mass of wild flower sown species I found one not spotted before – the Salad Burnet in the first photo whose round flower heads have not yet fully opened to show their reddish colour.


Moving to the main cemetery many tree species now dominate the scene – among them this Copper Beech and Willow were the first to catch my eye and further east I enjoyed the grey of this Silver Pear.


Among flowers planted to ornament the graves I enjoyed the pink of this Pencilled Cranesbill and the yellow flowers and red berries of Tutsan.


My most exciting find was a ‘weed’ called Round-leaved Fluellen which I used to find here each year but has been absent for more than three years until now when it once more lines the tarmac path running west from the end of the broad path running south from the vehicle entrance. The first photo shows its eagerness to grow in all directions from the bare tarmac and the second shows its tiny ‘yellow faced and dark velvet eared’ flowers.


Another flower which I do not recall seeing here before is this bright yellow flowered Creeping Jenny which is grown in some gardens and also grows wild in the marsh east of the main cemetery. Finally I found this Tree Cotoneaster in full flower overhanging the roadway to the Cemetery Extension

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 15 May 2015

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I started this visit in the Cemetery Extension where I was expecting to find a substantial show of wild flowers in the part of the Natural Burial Area not yet occupied by graves but the flowers that I found were among the existing graves . First to catch my eye was this Spotted Medick while under the adjacent hedge this Hedge Mustard was living up to its name.


These two photos are of Salsify, a Mediterranean plant which was uncommon in the early 1980s but is now widespread. My first photo shows it as you are likely to spot it from a distance and how a botanist will see it – the second is the view which a photographer who is after a ‘pretty picture’ will prefer. From a Greengrocers viewpoint the interest lies underground – I first came across the species as a root vegetable available from Waitrose!


I could not have named this ‘Bluebell – like’ flower until a few days ago when I found it growing on the Portsdown chalk grassland and identified it from an American website which called it Siberian Squill and warned us to be wary of planting it as it is likely to spread out of control – hopefully it will not become a problem here. The Nettle growing nearby is perhaps preferable as food for caterpillars (and humans prepared to collect its fresh tips to make a soup).


In the main Cemetery I found my first Creeping Cinquefoil flowers of the year and also this Cut-leaved Cranesbill which only started to appear this week.


This Common Fumitory is a weed of arable fields and probably arrived here on the wind. My second photo is of Wall Speedwell and has the smallest flower of any of the Speedwells (though these tiny spots of blue on the tiny upright stems are not fully open). As its name implies it does not need much soil and can grow on the bare stone of walls.


I could not omit the wildflower of the month – these are known as May Daisies or Ox-eye Daisies. To match them in size and bold colour I found Common Sorrel.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on 4 April 2015

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I started this visit in the Natural Burial Area where these Snakeshead Fritillary flowers added elegance to the rough grass and weeds under the newly planted trees. Nearby Tulips were starting to flower under another tree.


Still in the Natural Burial area a Cowslip caught my eye while near the north hedge a bold planting of Daffodils contained several strangely shaped plants with a crown of yellow flowers topping a tall bare flower stem. This plant is called a Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis lutea) and was brought to Europe with the first Tulips in the 17th Century but failed to become popular as its leaves gave off a pungent smell of Fox though this feature has been used to protect other plants from being eaten by animals including Deer.


These cattle had attracted a newly arrived summer migrant Yellow Wagtail (not in the photo) hoping to feed on insects after their flight across the channel –the Wagtails will move on northward unlike the ever-present Crows.


I suspect this exuberant Green Alkanet plant was self-sown and hopefully it will long outlast the cut flowers decorating a nearby burial.


In the main Cemetery I enjoyed this profusion of Cherry Blossom set against the fresh green of opening leaves. Several other trees were laden with blossom to attract pollinating insects.


The catkins on this Silver Birch tree could only be appreciated in close-up while the Pear blossom could be seen right across the Cemetery.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on March 17 2015

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On this sunny morning several people were taking the opportunity to visit their loved ones but there were no obvious signs that I would find new manifestations of wildlife responding to the feeling that spring had arrived.


Although the wildflower area had not yet sprung into colourful life a substantial strip of the north east corner of the extension had a great show of flowers from planted bulbs and my first photo here gives an impression of what is to be seen there. Near the eastern hedge an Alder tree was adorned with fresh catkins.


The natural burial area had some attractive large Crocuses in various colours with more colour supplied by Red and White Dead-Nettles.


Along the northern hedge the leaves and flower buds on Elder bushes had not changed much from last month but among them several Blackthorn bushes which had shown no sign of life in February were covered with white flower buds with quite a few having already opened their flowers.


Common Field Speedwell was outdoing the blue sky with its bright flowers and a close look at these Nettles will show two Ladybirds soaking up the warm sunlight to revive them after their winter hibernation.


My last two photos are of early Ground Ivy flowers of which I saw my first of the year only yesterday.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on February 10 2015

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This visit was on a dull, chill but dry day and the only flowers seen in the Extension were these buds of Elder on bushes in the northern boundary hedge where their leaves had started to to shoot last month


Before leaving the Extension I took a photo of these lichens growing on one of the wooden benches. I think the main species, providing the bright yellow colour, is called Xanthoria parietina but I cannot name the grey species growing with it. In the main Cemetery the Wood Pigeons in the second photo set the tone for the day, saving energy by perching motionless in the high branches where they should escape the attention of predators while at the same time keeping an eye out for potential food on the ground


I think this tall conifer is an Arizona Smooth Cypress (Cupressus glabra). The second photo shows the small round cones which are its female ‘flowers’ – the tips of the ‘leaves’ are covered with incipient male flowers which will soon become bright yellow as they open and scatter pollen (they are said to flower ‘all winter’ so they may now be over).


Another tree species currently in flower was Grey Alder (Alnus incana) with several trees formng part of the tree lined main avenue. Looking through the southern boundary hedge I could see this large flock of Brent Geese which currently spend their days feeding on grass and cereals in the fields (sometime several miles inland) in preparation for their return flight to their Arctic breeding grounds. Those with last year’s young will be here for a couple more months but some ‘childless’ birds have already started their slow journey stopping to feed en route.


In the backgound of the first photo one of the Cemetery staff can be seen already mowing the grass which has already started its spring growth. Another spring task for the staff is tree pruning and evidence of this can be seen in the second photo.


After a colourless walk round I could not resist including this attractive floral tribute of Yellow Roses and what I think are Blue Globe Thistles but on a nearby tree the natural world showed that it could match the eleganceof the flowers with these beautifully patterned leaves of Common Ivy.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on January 11 2015

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I could only find three wild plants in flower on this chilly but initially sunny day so it was a surprise to find leaf shoots well advanced on the seemingly dead wood of Elder bushes in the Cemetery Extension north hedge.


In the main Cemetery this red-nosed 'Log Dog' was a grave ornament that hopefully helped bereaved children come to terms with the loss of a parent and this dead tree stump illustrated the continuance of life in the form of the two fungi growing from its base (Pluteus cervinus)


On a couple of occasions during my visit the hundreds of Brent geese feeding on the grass west of the Cemetery were spooked into taking flight, filling the sky before returning to the ground.


While at the west end of the Cemetery a Song Thrush and a Blackbird were both hungry enough to overcome their fear of humans to continue their search for food despite my close presence.


This scatter of Wood Pigeon feathers on the ground showed where a Sparrowhawk or Peregrine had satisfied its hunger. The second photo shows that the feathers had been plucked by a bird, leaving the quill points intact, rather than bitten off by at Fox, leaving the quill point in the bird's flesh and a ragged end to the quill on the ground.


In the same way that Fungi send up Toadstools high enough to allow the wind to scatter their spores, so Mosses are currently growing these 'seed pods' which will burst and scatter their 'seeds'.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on December 6 2014

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A clear sky after a frosty night suggested that there would be few wild flowers to be seen but there were plenty of common birds to be seen and my first picture is of Crows and Jackdaws in the now leafless treetop while nearer at hand was a flock of Starlings. All these birds were attracted here in the hope of insects and other food items left by the young cattle feeding in the field below the trees and north of the Cemetery Extension.


Here are some of the Starlings feeding on the ground in the cattle field. The fresh Molehills are in the Cemetery.


These Marsh Thistle leaves were still dusted with frost at midday. The second picture is not as eye-catching but is of a plant that I have not noticed here before – Wild Radish.


Moving to the old Cemetery I found two new additions since my last monthly visit. I also was pleased to see that an old, unused and unsightly old notice board had been removed.


Without moving far from the entrance I found this lone example of a Lepista irina toadstool (aka Flowery Blewit) and as it was mature enough to have dropped most of its spores I felt free to have a look at the underside to check that its stem did not have the bluish-lilac colour of its close relative the Field Blewit or ‘Blue Leg’.


Nearby a cultivated Primula was giving a good imitation of a spring Primrose. A close look found that one of its flowers had attracted a late Long Hoverfly which had been overcome by the overnight frost and was now comatose but I could not be certain that it was dead.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on November 10 2014

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By November most wild flowers have succumbed to frost and lack of sunshine but this year a combination of mild temperature, more sunshine than usual, and plenty of rain have allowed many wild flowers to survive well into the toadstool season. The Corn Marigold in the first photo has hedged its bets by growing inside one of the Tully Tubes intended to protect sapling trees but the Corn Chamomile is flourishing without any extra protection.


Two species which have become dominant in the wildflower seed sown area of the cemetery extension were both found today. The introduced Chicory continues to brighten the area with its tall stems and bright blue flowers while the irrepressible native Wild Carrot is already putting up fresh flower heads (umbels) surrounded by their distinctive geometric pattern of thin, pointed bracts.


The drain cover of the underground drain taking farmyard slurry around the new burial area has acquired bright yellow-green camouflage from a Moss which I think is Homolothecium sericeum (Silky Wall Feather Moss) which is common and prefers to grow on hard surfaces. The nearby southern hedge still has fresh specimens of the uncommon Wrinkled Peach fungus growing from a small fallen tree trunk.


This cluster of fungi around a tree stump in the old Cemetery puzzled me at first sight but was easily identified as Honey Fungus when I had a look at the underside with its stem-ring and honey-coloured tints.


Japanese Honeysuckle is becoming increasingly widespread in southern England and was one of the few wild plants flourishing in the old Cemetery where I also found a good example of what used to be called Jew’s Ear fungus but is now known as Jelly Ear to avoid giving offence to Jews (and to avoid thoughts of Cannibalism as this is an edible species). As it can survive hard frosts it may be found throughout the winter.


Another common fungus which has the appearance of a large and nutritious specimen of the edible Field Mushroom is known as the Yellow Stainer on account of the faint yellow tints in the white cap (especially where cut or bruised). While not poisonous most people who eat it regret doing so as they suffer severe stomach upsets.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on October 14 2014

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By now autumn fruits such as these Haws on the Hawthorns are ripe and waiting for the arrival of winter Thushes to spread them round the countryside while remnants of late summer colour can still be seen in the Chicory flowers. (When I got home after this visit I found that the first large flocks of up to 500 Redwings had reached north Hampshire today).


As well as remanants of summer flowers the current mild and damp weather has brought many spring flowers (such as this Hedge Mustard) back into bloom as well as giving many species of Fungi the conditions they need to flourish.


Heading from the Cemetery Extension back to the original Cemetery the red berries of a Tree Cotoneaster gave me an additional red-berried species to add to the current variety before I reached the Holly Berries in the old Cemetery


Another red-berried species was the White Bryony (the only English native from the tropical Gourd family) and behind it a fieldful of contented Cows made a great backdrop to this 19th Century tombstone


These trees were the only ones so far exhibiting the autumn colour and leaf-fall expected at this time of year but a more autumnal scene was also foreshadowed by this large Brown Rollrim fungus – a common but poisonous species not to be eaten.


I took this photo of a Red Rose in the old Cemetery to provide a cheerful ending to this visit but on returning to the Extension I was also greatly cheered by the discovery of this delicate pink and rather uncommon fungus with the English nameof Wrinkled Peach which grows on dead Elm trees. Although not poisonous it is listed as inedible.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on September 16 2014

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Other than the blue of Chicory the wildflower seed sown area of the Extension showed little colour and a start has already been made on clearing the ground for next year’s display but there is still interest in the area as the first six photos show. My first photo is of a Knotgrass species flourishing in the Natural Burial area and the second is of Wild Radish.


On the left is Bristly Ox-tongue – the name refers to the many lumps and bumps on its leaves which resemble the ‘taste buds’ on the tongue of an Ox. On the right is a plant of Creeping Thistle re-asserting its right to flower here.


I think these dying fungi are the remains of Weeping Widow toadstools which are not new to this site. Of more interest and some concern is the powdery white coating on these very young Oak Tree leaves, newly out of the Tulley Tubes which protected them as saplings. I think the coating is Oak Powdery Mildew (Erisyphe alphitoides) which is now widespread and common in England, especially on young trees, but which was new to Europe in 1907 and is thought to have originated in the southern hemisphere as a disease of Mango and Rubber Trees. Luckily it is not fatal to our Oaks but does reduce their ability to photo-synthesise and thus slow their growth.


Moving to the old Cemetery several Cockspur Thorn trees were clothed in large red berries seen here against a rural background of farm buildings and this rural setting was echoed in the second photo by a group of cattle munching hay from a feeder in the adjacent field.


Along the southern boundary the warm sunshine had already persuaded many clusters of Ivy flowers to cast their whitish outer coating and make their rich nectar available to the many insects for which it is the main food source in the autumn. Several Wasps were feeding here and I also saw this less common Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana) which is usually seen in assocoiation with cattle (the female lays her eggs in Cow Pats).


Those Leather-jacket grubs which escaped being eaten by Starlings or Rooks earlier in the summer are now emerging as Crane Flies (aka Daddy-long-legs) of which there are thousands of species worldwide. The second photo shows a Green Woodpeckers nest hole which has been present for several years.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on August 13 2014

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The wildflower sown area was past flowering but you can just see that some Chicory has established a natural foothold across the roadway while trees in the Natural Burial area had grown well above the skyline


Grass mowing and grave digging are essential factors in conserving the habitat for the wild flowers which enhance the area – I was reminded of this by a feature in the local press showing the disappointment of a parish councillor who had sown Poppy seeds but omitted to till the soil with the result that none of the seed germinated.


Moving to the old Cemetery I was delighted to find Dark Mullein flowering on an old, untended, grave. Less surprising was a patch of Scarlet Pimpernel finding sustenance from pathside rain runoff.


The tiny black flies on this Bristly Oxtongue flower are, I think, Dance Flies. The males catch other small insects and perform a mid-air dance to attract females prepared to mate in return for a meal of the prey. The larger fruit on the Elder bushes make a more acceptable meal for humans.


Around the edges of the apparently flowerless Wildflower Seed area a few late developing plants such as this Chicory and Corn Marigold could still be found


Also still in fresh flower were a few wild flowers which had found damp soil sheltered from the hot sun. On the left is Great Willowherb and on the right Musk Mallow.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on July 15 2014

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On entering the Cemetery Extension in hot sunshine with the ground very dry I was not surprised to see that the Wildflower area had shot up in height since last month but seemed to lack the expected colour and variety.


As I got closer I saw that the bland look of the distant view was the result of the area being dominated by just two species – Chicory with its pale blue flowers and Wild Carrot with its pure white umbels – though there was a good mixture of yellow from Corn Marigolds, but their lower growth meant that their colour was to a great extent hidden.


Around the hedges Spear Thistles were flowering from well defended stems but more surprising were the defences against browsing animals on the underside of a Prickly Lettuce leaf – no wonder we do not include it in our salads.


Although it is not obvious this pair of Gatekeepers were mating and when I disturbed them the male had to flap extra hard to drag the passive female behind him. Many of the white flower umbels of the Wild Carrot had attracted groups of these ‘Bloodsucker’ Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) to a meal of pollen during their mating.


One unexpected find was this pink flowerhead on a bed of Caucasian Stonecrop (a not uncommon species but rarely seen in flower). The flowers of White Bryony are not at all uncommon and can be found climbing in many hedges.


To round off this visit I have included photos of two remote corners of the old cemetery which had no unusual species but offered oases of quiet and cool peace in which to escape from the heat and the activity of visitors and the staff busy with their unceasing work to provide the service we expect.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on June 12 2014

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At first glance there was no colour to be seen in the wildflower but a close look found all the usual plants were flowering but they had been overtopped by grasses and other vegetative growth


A huge mass of the white daisy flowers of the Corn Chamomile look-alike (Anthemis austriaca) were omni-present with smaller numbers of other species scattered among them – here we have a Corn Cockle on the left and a Cornflower on the right.


Here is a patch of yellow Corn Marigolds alongside the cauliflower-like flower head of our native Wild Carrot


Over in the original cemetery this Silver Pear tree is at its best – I think the species comes from New Zealand but has become popular in England after being featured in the Sissinghurst Castle garden in Kent. The silver colour of this tree is currently matched by the ‘gold’ of the Locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia).


In the hot, dry condition of the cemtery I was surprised (and pleased) to find Creeping Jenny in flower having recently failed to find it flowering among the Marsh Orchids in the wetland SSSI field east of the cemtery. Less surprising were the flowers on the Bittersweet or Woody Nightshade.


Before I left the old cemetery I enjoyed the sight of this Spotted Medick flourishing in the dry heat on the tarmac pathway. Re-entering the Cemetery extension I noticed large yellow flowers apparently growing in the ‘garden waste’ bin at the gate and believe these were the flowers of what is called Stinking Tutsan (Hypericum hircinum) because it reputedly smells strongly of ‘Billy Goat’ though I did not detect any smell (pleasant or otherwise).

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on May 14 2014

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The mass of Daisies flowering in the grass of the Extension set the tone for a rather ‘in between’ month for wild flowers before the wildflower seeded area gets going. More Daisies could be seen below the northern hedge in which Hawthorn blossom is now profuse.


A couple of large and colourful flowers that I did spot near the Natural Burial area were this bright blue Iris which I see is sometimes called Iris croatica and is the national flower of Croatia (though I see another website calls it Iris germanica). The right hand photo is of Salsify whose roots look similar to Parsnips and are a popular culinary vegetable.


A few bright Poppies and several of these mauvish daisies (which I cannot name) were among the few plants already flowering in the wild flower seeded area where there will soon be a very impressive and varied show.


Fresh grass, buttercups and contented cattle, with a backdrop of Chichester Harbour at high tide, was the view from the old cemetery which best expressed the delight of this sunny May day. With Oaks now in full leaf the very late emergence of leaves on Ash trees, also seen in the boundary hedge, was a forceful reminder that, if the weather proverb is true, we should be in for a very dry summer.


The great mass of tiny, brillant blue, flowers of Wall Speedwell are difficult to see in the left hand photo (though you can’t miss them when using your unaided eyes!) and their small size is emphasised by contrast with the equally brilliant blue flowers of Germander Speedwell (shown at the same scale) in the second photo.


I had not noticed this unusual grave in the past and am including it for its wildlife interest – the metal plaque tells us it commemotates "the acclaimed nature writer" F H Atkins (1888-1921) whose book ‘The Way of the Wild’ (written under the name F St Mars) is still available on the internet. The final photo is the grave of another famous person that I would not have expected to find in Havant, prompting further historical research.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Apr 15 2014

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In today's warm sunshine fresh leaves and blossom on trees provided the main interest. My first photo is of a recently planted Oak in the Natural Burial area and my second is of mature trees in the hedge of the Church area. The latter shows continuity with the past going back to the time of the Castle tower and the former gives hope for the future.


The rough grass of the Natural Burial area held a surprise for me in the form of several clumps of Snakeshead Fritillary flowers which I don't recall seeing last year but it also had plenty of colour from the increasing number of Bluebells and Tulips. While enjoying these I heard the calls of a pair of Buzzards circling low overhead causing me to look up and see a summer migrant Hobby falcon high above them.


Two tiny wild Speedwells were of interest to me, Germander Speedwell on the left and Wall Speedwell on the right, both newly in flower this week.


At the east end of the old Cemetery there was an abundance of variety and colour among the trees making it difficult to pick out individuals for praise or comment.


This was not true at the older west end where the pure white flowers of what I think is called a Bird Cherry and this photogenic pair of Alder Cones among their fresh green leaves immediately caught my eye.


Less conspicuous were the flower buds of this unidentified tree, reminding me of Apple blossom, while the effusive new growth on the sawn off stem of an old Silver Pear left me with the message that it is difficult to extinguish the spark of life.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Mar 13 2014

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On arriving in the Cemetery Extension my first impression was that the local Crows were making a serious takeover bid for ownership with an assault force advancing over the grass while three well-placed sentries watched over the operation from tree tops by Warblington Church – luckily their offensive crumbled when I made a determined advance with my camera.


By the time I reached the northern hedge the Crows had flown and I was able to enoy the fresh Blackthorn blossom.


Not quite so advanced were the trees planted in the Natural Burial area which were just starting to put out their leaves and will soon reveal their identity and variety.

Leaving the Extension I enjoyed the sight of a rather beautiful ‘Lenten Rose’ type of hybrid Hellebore flowering in the waste tip area and adding to the pleasure of my visit


In the old cemtery area I was surprised to see how low and exposed was the nest hole of a Green Woodpecker and to see another nest site higher in a Weeping Willow tree which may attract the local Little Owls.


To end this visit I came on one very overgrown grave on which brambles and rose briers were trying to choke out the original planting of a Summer Snowflake plant and a cluster of Daffodils while nearby all that another neglected grave could offer was this ‘Woebegone Woollen Womble”


Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Feb 13 2014

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Today was the only day this week when it was not raining and the wind was not a gale so the blue sky in these pictures is not typical of this February but the weather cannot stop birds nesting or plants from flowering.


The Elder bushes in the hedge around the Cemetery extension had tiny flower buds last month but it seems they will be fully out by the end of this month and the Common Alder catkins will also be open then given the lengthening days and above average temperatures.


Under the north hedge, where the ground gets most of what sunlight there is, the first flower was out on this clump of Creeping Buttercup and several of the deep blue-flowered Grey Field Speedwell were seen.


Trees were the most prominent features in the old cemetery with the yellowy green foliage of what I think is a form of Cypress being the most eye-catching though the mature Silver Birches in the second photo were more elegant.


At the west end the yellow catkins of a Grey Alder, silhouetted against the Black Barn of the farm, differentiated it from the purple catkins of the Common Alder seen in the cemetery extension. Near the exit onto Church Lane one of several Cherry Plum trees was starting to open its white flowers.


Near the east end winter flowering Heather provided welcome colour while the east end offered a view (hardly visible in the photo) of many gulls and crows finding food in the sodden grass.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Jan 14 2014

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Today the leafless trees gave a clear view of Warblington Church behind the hedge at the west end of the Cemetery Extension while to the east trees in the farm fields provided a perch for many Crows digesting the breakfast they had earlier found in the stubble of long since harvested fields.


Very few wild flowers could be seen anywhere so I was quite excited to find (growing on the seemingly bare branches of Elder bushes which can just be made out in front of the distant wooden fencing in the middle distance of the right hand photo) fresh buds which included flower buds as well as tiny leaves. In the second photo you may just make out a Blue Tit enjoying seed from a well stocked bird feeder in the Natural Burial area, causing me to wonder who supplies the seed – is it provided by a relative of someone buried there or is it provided by the Council as part of their duty of care for the site (and if so could we say this photo is of a ‘Blue Tit on Benefits’).


Moving to the main cemetery I found the entrance guarded by this vigilant Magpie, his black and white uniform looking smart against the clear blue sky (maybe this mental image of the bird as a soldier on guard duty does not fit with what I believe to be the origin of the name Magpie meaning a bird that lives on Maggots which it finds in Cowpat Pies). Another view of smartly dressed trees was seen later when I noticed the reddish tinge of the developing leaves of these Silver Birch trees, the colour emphasised by the pure white of the trees’ trunks and branches.


This tree stump appears lifeless but a closer view shows that it still supports the hidden life of an unnamed fungus

I have long wanted to know more about the Sisters of Bethany who are buried just south of the main vehicle entrance and have at last been able to do so by visiting a current exhibition at the Havant Arts Centre highlighting the work of Conservation Volunteers in helping to care for the Havant Cemeteries

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Dec 17 2013

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The forecast sun for this visit did not appear but the day was mild and almost windless though that did little to produce much in the way of wildlife. The time of year had, however, removed most of the leaves from the trees giving views through the surrounding hedges of Warblington Church and of cattle waiting patiently below the Castle tower to be allowed into the their byre.


The Natural Burial area, now cleared of its wildflower display for the winter, showed that Moles were still active below ground and that small birds were still enjoying what was left of the seed in the bird feeders - a close look at the right hand photo above shows a Blue Tit on a feeder though that was only one of several birds visiting it while I was there.

The photos below show the only other wildlife I found in the Natural Burial area - a few toadstools and half a butterfly (though the latter was of the ornamental variety, discarded with dead flowers when it ceased to represent a living insect!)


Moving to the old cemetery my eye was caught by some bright stars hanging from a tree and then by this little pig perched cheekily on an otherwise sombre conventional memorial stone - both helping to brighten an otherwise dull day


With dusk approaching the air suddenly filled with the unmistakeable calls of Brent Geese as flock of several hundred which had been feeding on inland fields flew low overhead on their way to spend the night on the harbour water where they would be safe from Foxes. I just managed to catch a photo of the tail end of the flock as they prepared to land

On my way out of the cemetery I did at last find some fresh flowers on an ornamental Cherry Tree and nearby the evening light caught some ornamental glass mixed with the shingle covering a grave which must have been there for years but which I had never noticed on previous visits.


Warblington Cemetery on Nov 20 2013

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This visit was made in a brief period of sunshine late on a drear and chill November day and there was little in the way of wildflowers to be seen - in fact on entering the extension and looking east I could see that the whole of the wildflower area had been cut down to ground level and that the only thing to catch my eye at the east end was a series of mole hills (too small to be visible in this photo) and the soggy remains of fungi in the Natural Burial area where, of course, the many trees planted to mark the burials stood leafless but not dead. As I walked around that east end I could hear the calls of a Pied Wagtail still able to find insects to eat among the plant remains and at one point I was startled by the loud whirr of wings as a Pheasant took flight from the hedge.


Moving to the old cemetery a couple of more mature trees still had colourful fruit which will possibly attract the hungry Fieldfares and Redwings that are expected to cross the North Sea on the cold north east winds forecast for the coming weekend but one Song Thrush was already here and lifted my spirits with the first song that I have heard from the species since the spring.


Just one reminder that winter does not suppress all wild life came with the discovery of these fresh PuffBalls which I think are of an uncommon species Lycoperdon molle which grows on grassy soil, not on wood. Also seen today was one tree still providing autumn colour from its leaves.


The density of the Cremation Plots brought an equal density of memorial flowers which caught the last rays of the setting sun to cheer the visitors, each saddened by the personal loss which had brought them here. Nature was also able to give them solace if they lifted their eyes to the sunlight on the harbour water where the tide was high ....


A reminder of the impact of death on young children and their perception of the loss of elderly relatives was brought home to me by two things I saw on this visit. The image that made me realise that young children brought to the cemetery are still living in their own world of toys and imagination was of these toys abandoned on a memorial that I am pretty sure was nothing to do with their family but which had served to distract them while their parents were absorbed elsewhere in their own grief. Another family with, I guess, older children able to appreciate the loss of their Grandad, and who have their names on his memorial, are named on the memorial stone in the third photo.


Warblington Cemetery on Oct 16 2013

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Despite the warm sunshine and blue sky there was a strong feel of autumn on this visit shown in the apparently colourless Wild Flower area and the appearance of Stubble Rosegill toadstools in the Natural Burial area


Despite the distant view of dead plants a close look at the Wild Flower area found many colourful flowers hiding among the dead stalks of their predecessors. Here is a faded Common Poppy, the still vibrant blue of a Cornflower and the yellow of Corn Marigold


A fresh plant of Millet (grass) among the bedding plants on the Martin Memorial was a surprise accidental addition but back in the Wild Flower area the yellow of Bristly Ox-tongue probably came from a self-sown 'weed' as did the bristly purple flowers of Burdock growing next to the Corn Chamomile sown with the Wild Flower seed.


Moving to the old cemetery Ivy was in full flower, Blackberry fruit was still attractively edible, but at the same time Holly berries were ready for Christmas decorations.


This Speckled Wood butterfly was not the first seen on this visit as one had been flying in the churchyard along with a couple of Common Darter dragonflies enjoying the warm brickwork of the Grave Watchers building, In the old cemetery plenty of Wasps were feeding on the Ivy flowers but these patriotic British insects were not attracted to the Japanese Honeysuckle in the central photo. The right hand photo of a Silver Birch dressed in autumn gold brought us back to what we should expect in autumn.


A patch of Sulphur Tuft toadstools were also normal signs of autumn though they are present hidden below ground all year supporting other plants by their recycling work, as are the Moles whose fresh hills have just appeared. Equally welcome as habitat for many insects and woodpeckers is this dead tree which I hope will remain in situ until it becomes in danger of falling.

Warblington Cemetery on Sep 18 2013

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Autumn fruits were abundant on this visit, typified by these photos taken in the Churchyard immediately on my arrival. The blackberries are a native species, not the invasive Himalayan Giant which is spreading worldwide.


Among the graves in the Extension two kinds of Toadstool were the first things that caught my attention in the new mown grass below the Castle Tower. The central photo is of Fairy Ring Champignons and the Puffball is Bovista plumbea


The wildflower area had a great variety of species including Small Flowered Cranesbill which has neatly trimmed hairs on its flower stems (unlike the straggly hairs on the commoner Doves Foot Cranesbill) and the uncommon native Green Field Speedwell with its white lower petal.

Two insects seen in the Extension were a male Long Hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta) enjoying Chicory nectar and a Common Wasp strangely attracted to the heat of the grass mower when it was switched off for the lunch break


Moving to the old cemetery I found more autumn fruits in the shape of Rose Hips and Acorns plus the first Field Mushrooms and a very contented Gnome, ending with a planted Rose and wild Black Nightshade.




Warblington Cemetery on Aug 15 2013

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Walking towards the Cemetery Extension through Warblington churchyard I was impressed by this mature Rowan tree - I hope when the trees planted in the Natural Burial area mature they will be as magnificent.


Entering the Extension the distant wildflower sown area seemed to have lost its colour but a closer look found plenty of interest though these eyecatching species do not appear in my Wild Flower book.


The large plants which dominated the sown wildflower area last month have given way to some of our self-sown native beauties such as the Common Mallow and Hoary Willowherb.


Moving to the old cemetery the story was the same with the most colourful plants being garden Roses though I was pleased to find one unexpected wildflower, Pale Persicaria, flourishing on the bare earth of one grave


Lichens are to be expected on the oldest gravestones but I was surprised to see such a good display of them on this apparently modern memorial. Looking around for other interest the best I could find was this Tree Frog.


To end this visit I returned to the bright colour of another garden Rose but managed to match it with a genuine fresh wild Poppy


Warblington Cemetery on July 17 2013

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On the hottest day of the year so far the sun was shining from a cloudless, windless blue sky and plants were struggling to survive in a desert environment which can be sensed in the first picture taken from the entrance to the cemetery extension but a walk to the wildflower and natural burial area gives a very different feel with a great variety of plant life providing a full spectrum of colour and the nectar to attract a mass of butterflies


A circuit of the wildflower area reveals far more interest than can be shown here and will have different high-lights from day to day so the pictures below represent only the flowers which caught my eye today starting with the bright yellow of Corn Marigold and the pale blue of Chicory with the stronger blue of Cornflower to be seen in both photos


The central image below is of the instantly recognizable Common Poppy surrounded by Corn Chamomile. On its left I have included one of a multitude of small 'Snapdragon' plants included in the wildflower seed mix though not to be found in the wild while on the right is the uncommon Small Flowered Cranesbill which does occur wild in Havant


Moving to the old cemetery I found more native wild flowers but had to search hard for them - my first shot is of Creeping Cinquefoil illustrating the far creeping stems and five lobed leaves that givie it its name and this is paired with Birds Foot Trefoil showing the red and yellow colours from which it gets it alternative name of 'Eggs and Bacon'.


Parched ground was very apparent but two common wild flowers able to cope with it were the Scarlet Pimpernel and Common Fumitory (getting its name from the 'smoke haze' look of its flowers)


Before leaving I had my first sight for the year of the increasingly common 'garden escape' Argentinian Vervain competing well with Brambles and my last shot is a reminder that summer heat will not last for ever and is of well developed but still green Holly Berries.


Warblington Cemetery on June 19 2013

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At first glance the Wildflower Area of the Cemetery extension had not yet opened its first flower but a close look found not only a dense patch of Scented Mayweed with a few Common Poppies near the northern hedge but also these cultivated 'Snapdragons' plus isolated stems of Salsify and Corn Cockle flowering within the main wildflower patch and the Natural Burial area.


In the main cemetery the first thing to catch my eye was a clump of Dotted Loosestrife which closely resembles out native Yellow Loosestrife - to separate them you have to look under their petals at the calyx segments - the wild plant has these coloured orange so the green segments which I found show this plant is the Dotted form.


Other cultivated forms of summer wild flowers were Meadow and French Cranesbill and the Gladioli of which wild plants can be found hiding under Bracken in the New Forest.


Last month I discovered a plastic 'Tree Lizard' and today my surprise find was of two Squirrels which I have chosen to associate with an attractive 'Silver Pear' (Pyrus salicifolia) tree.


Best of my more natural finds was my first sight of Ladies Bedstraw for the year, the thin strand of minute yellow flowers was hardly eye-catching but by next month bright patches of its flowers will be unmissable. Another plant soon to be very common everywhere is Self-Heal of which I could only find one example today - to show that wild flowers can be even smaller but still attractive I have included a mass of the tiny white stars of Lesser Stitchwort


To end this visit on what was probably the hottest day of the year here is the welcome shade of the tree avenue

Warblington Cemetery on May 16 2013

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The above two views are of Warblington Church graveyard, taken from the path leading from the carparking area outside the Farm to the gate of the Cemetery Extension, are included in this monthly review of wildlife in the Borough Cemeteries because the chief benefit of having a memorial in this cemetery is its beautiful rural setting which leaves mourners with a sense of peace and the ongoing (seemingly everlasting) life of the natural world.


From the churchyard I went to the Natural Burial area where a neighbour of mine was interred on a sunny day during the past month. This healthy Oak sapling is among the trees growing over the graves and the adjacent hedge had the first Elder blossom that will soon become edible and enjoyable berry fruit. Below are a Speckled Wood butterfly and a St. George's Mushroom from the main cemetery.



From the public path through the Cemetery there is a good view towards Langstone Bridge but I doubt many people have turned to look into the Cemetery from the same point and seen this (plastic) Tree Lizard


By this same section of public path I had my first sight of Bird's Foot Trefoil (left) and found a good specimen of Spotted Medick showing the 'spots' on its leaves.


Both the above flowers featured in last month's poster but both are now at their best and merit another viewing - to the left is Ground Ivy and to the right is Green Alkanet. Both can be seen near the western fence and both are self-sown.

Warblington Cemetery on Apr 18 2013

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On this visit sunshine and blue sky seemed to mark the end of winter which, despite the cold and damp, does give us wonderful views of bare branched trees so it seemed appropriate to record what we are losing and what summer is bringing in some tree views. My first picture is of the best specimen of a leafless tree showing its magnificent structure, the second attempts to show the colour of a flowering Cherry seen through an avenue of still leafless trees, the third shows a Crows nest that will soon be invisible to us on the ground and the fourth is of a graceful Willow in its 'petticoats' before it finishes dressing for the new year.


Despite the gale force wind and recent grass cutting I found the above wild flowers thriving in places where the mower cannot reach them. First photo is of Slender Speedwell that can only survive in places where mowing limits the competition of the grass. Second is Ground Ivy enjoying the protection of a path edge and third is of Primroses for which grave stones give excellent protection. Last is a shot of garden Forget-me-nots thriving untended.


Although the Natural Burial area currently looks very different from the mass of varied colour we will see in summer it had some wonderful surprises today - among the mass of minature daffodils in the north east corner were some magnificent tall, yellow-flowered lilies and in the burial area Snakes-head Fritillaries and Cowslips were flowering.


Finally today's surprises. First was a cat which seemed to have brought its own mat to snooze among the cremation memorials adjacent to the Toilet Block. Next two views of Green Alkanet which I have never seen here before and probably arrived as a wind-blown seed though it may have been brought by a bird such as the cheeky Blue Tit with which I end.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observation on Mar 20 2013

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In the oldest part of the original cemetery adjacent to the carpark I noticed a worn Fox track and where it passed an old broom head in the hedge bottom the Fox had marked his territory. Across the entrance from Church Lane the Cherry Plum flowers were waning but I felt that the angles of the memorials were in tune with the advanced age of the farm barn seen through the hedge, and rounding the corner to the western hedge I found these Daffodils enjoying life after making their way through the wire fence to the free natural world of the fields.


Two memorials which caught my eye were that to the famous Emsworth sailor Sir Peter Blake which had acquired an interesting collection of New Zealand coins and a coating of 'gold' lichen. Nearby was this unexpected antipodean image of Kangaroos.


Moving further east I found this tree stump exhibiting its natural unadorned decay in contrast to our more formal recognition of the natural cycle of life and this prompted me to move to the cemetery extension from which I could look over the eastern hedge and get a distant view of the Glossy Ibis which has been attracting bird watchers for the past two weeks as it feeds on worms in the damp soil. As the image I captured would not give any idea of what the bird looked like I have borrowed this image from Malcolm Phillips of Emsworth (don't expect the bird to stay)


Also in the extension hedge I found these Alder catkins and cones but failed to spot the bird which had been perching on the Martin Memorial. My last image is a Hellebore flower growing happily within inches of the litter bin by the exit gate.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Feb 18 2013

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Entering the cemetery from Church Lane I found Cherry Plum blossom on a tree next to the gate and a few yards further in I passed under a display of catkins on what I think was a Grey Alder. There was not much else to see in the way of wild flowers but the trees were full of the Collared Doves which roost here in even greater numbers each night, and in the field west of the cemetery I spotted three Stock Doves (smaller and more elegant than Wood Pigeons) which nest in tree holes - you can watch them at their nests in the old trees east of the nearby Old Rectory.


With little in the way of wild flowers to photograph at this time of year I took one shot of a large cluster of Snowdrops flowering under the wire of the western fence (where they were not planted on a grave) before walking to the east end where at least 200 Jackdaws and Crows had settled in the tree tops above the stream which bisects the farm fields. As I could not capture the sight and sound of their natural presence I contented myself with photos of two unnatural birds which I had not seen on previous visits


In the extension the funeral of a young girl had just taken place so I waited until the mourners had left before wandering round with my camera but, other than the mass of floral tributes left by the open grave, there was little to catch the eye. The two things that I noticed beside the increased number of Mole Hills which I featured last month were some scattered Croci in the Natural Burial area and the very first flower buds on an Elder tree.

Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Jan 17 2013

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The first thing that caught my eye on this visit was a Holly Wreath hung on a young tree while on the ground both Snowdrops and Primroses were in flower - all three were not newly placed on graves and none of them were strictly wild but they were good examples of how nature takes advantage of our planting to spread its offspring and so brighten our view of the land on dull days


Less eye catching were a few late flowers on Germander Speedwell (very unexpected at this time of year) and even less obvious were flower buds on a plant of Japanese Honeysuckle which has become widespread in the last few years and which I suspect was self-sown on the grave where I found it. Our native Honeysuckle has a single cluster of flowers growing from the end of it stems - the Japanese version has single flowers growing from the leaf axils on each side of the stems towards the end.


Moving from the main cemetery, where the field west of the cemetery was crowded with crows, to the new extension I found a small flock of gulls searching for worms on the open grassland. Here the recently trimmed hedge already had fresh leaves sprouting from stems of Elder while elsewhere the purplish catkins of young Common Alder were not yet open but provided some colour


At the far east end, where the Natural Burial area is situated, fresh Molehills showed that there was life underground while on the newly planted trees several small birds were visiting the feeders hung from the branches - I just managed a poor shot of a Blue Tit.


Warblington Cemetery Wildlife Observations on Nov 26 2012

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There are few wild flowers to be seen now but the fresh white flowers on an ornamental Cherry tree caught my eye and a closer look showed an alabster angel hanging from the tree which was close to the western boundary, giving a peaceful view of cows in the field beyond with a Little Egret among them where last winter a rarer Cattle Egret (with a yellow, not black, bill) had attracted birders.


Moving through the view shown, towards the cemetery vehicle entrance, I found a couple of Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda) fungi beneath a tree where I had found a cluster of them at this time last year



Reaching the Cemetery Extension the sky was clearing and I took a couple of general views of the clouds and Warblington Castle before walking round and finding several specimens of the Clustered Domecap (Lyophyllum decastes) fungus in the now cleared wildflower area.


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By Aug 30 the wildflower seeded area in the cemetery extension had been cleared of dying plants but a walk round the old cemetery found several colourful plants still looking good. To me the most interesting was Green Bristle Grass which is an uncommon alien invader of unknown origin. My photos will give you an idea of what to look for but to see it for yourself walk west along the path that starts from the notice board just inside the vehicle entrance. It is growing in the third grave from the west end on the south side of this path and is shaded by the small memorial stone to Richard Aubrey Thomas.

    Green Bristle Grass

A little further south is a more colourful plant which has also arrived here by chance. This is Dark Mullein and can be found roughly opposite the footpath coming in from the farm fields. As you come in and turn north on the cemetery path you will pass the blank back of a large memorial stone to Frank Worley on your right and three rows east of this is a small urn commemorating Caroline Young and her parents - the Mullein (or Verbascum) is tall and thin with a long spike of bright yellow flowers that have interesting purplish centres. While in this area I snapped a couple of commoner wild flowers with yellow flowers. One is Birds-foot Trefoil (its seed heads looks like a three toed bird's feet) and another is Ladies Bedstraw which supposedly gets its name from a medieval use (stuffing the mattresses of ladies who seem to have enjoyed its scent)

Dark Mullein Plant             Dark Mullein flowers

Birds Foot Trefoil             Ladies Bedstraw

A small tree growing on your left just before you leave the cemetery on the path which leads north directly into Church Lane currently has a good crop of berries which look superficially like the 'haws' on a Hawthorn but are a lot bigger, and its leaves are a broad oval in shape (not the palmate - hand-shaped with 'fingers' - shape of Hawthorn leaves). This is a hybrid form of the North American Cockspur Thorn which is commonly planted where a small tree that has lots of white blossom in the spring and red berries in the winter is required. On your right in the area opposite this tree is a mass of Ivy that is only now thinking about opening its flowers which will soon be attracting many insects - late butterflies and brightly coloured hoverflies as well as a mass of flies and bees.