26 June 2013 Oysterbed update from Chris Cockburn

Hello folks

New sightings today:

A very small developing Bee Orchid (please see attached photo) in fairly dense vegetation, NE of sign/bench at NE edge of lagoon – the single plant is close to the edge of the intertidal bay north of the lagoon – in a an apparent ‘pathway’ (thanks to a visitor).

One Clouded Yellow butterfly (thanks Martin)  seen near Hayling Halt car park and a Cinnabar moth by the “Sheltering Bramble” (presumably  rather annoyed that there are sheep instead of Ragworts in a certain nearby field!).

On the gull/tern front, lots of flying fledged black-headed gulls; at least 8 well-developed Med gull chicks (almost fledged); some common tern chicks (now mostly singles after the recent strong wind period but at least one 3-chick brood) – the burgeoning vegetation growth (mainly Spear Orache) is making it very difficult to see small common tern chicks) and  promising little tern activity.

Probably related to the recent run of big spring tides that started on Sat 22 Jun, a group of little terns (that probably failed on the harbour islands) have been active at the western end of the NW Bund (the vegetation-topped chalky bund that forms the northern edge of the lagoon). Today, at least 22 of these birds were showing considerable interest in this area. Observations throughout the day suggest that some of these birds are likely to attempt (re?) nesting. However, being little terns, they seem to be ignoring the recent shingle recharge and, instead, opting to nest on the chalky area just west of the recharge. The latter area is readily accessible and so a temporary and sign-posted fence was rapidly erected by Wez Smith (the RSPB’s Langstone Harbour Site Manager) to encourage ‘visitors’ to avoid disturbing the terns. Hopefully, more temporary signage will soon be put in place to deter people from venturing beyond the grassy footpath on the SE edge of the lagoon. There are no more big tides predicted for the next four weeks and the weather outlook  looks reasonable, so, there is an outside chance of successful little tern breeding at this amazing site.

Nesting wader news is not so good – the pair of Oystercatchers hat were nesting (very low down) on the western end of the westernmost island have failed – flooded out on Sat evening tide. It is interesting that despite their size and fearsome bills, oystercatchers do not seem to have the anything like the fierce territorial behaviour of the gulls and terns.

Regards

Chris C

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