Archive for the ‘Hampshire’ Category

This church was built within the walls of Portchester Castle around 1130. Originally it was intended to be part of an Augustinian Priory within the walls of the castle. There is evidence of a cloister and some domestic buildings present on the site, but shortly after it was completed the Canons moved to Southwick, perhaps because they lacked space to expand their monastery within the confines of the castle. The church was damaged by a fire set by Dutch prisoners of war in the castle in 1653 and was repaired in 1706 and further restored in 1888.

Adjacent to the church is a lovely cafe, which is highly recommended as a place to stop for a drink or lunch.

A military installation at Portchester dates back to Roman times. Excavations have revealed what was probably a base for the Classis Britannica, the Roman fleet based in the UK. It probably dates from 285-290 AD. The remains of the curtain wall of this base can be seen at Portchester today.

The fort continued in use after the Romans left Britain, as evidenced by the presence of a 10th century Anglo-Saxon hall within the walls and in 904 records show the castle passed into the ownership of the crown. The castle as we see it today dates from the 11th century and was built by William Maudit. He sought where possible to include as much as possible of the still-standing Roman walls within his construction. In 1154 the castle passed to King Henry II and it would remain in royal control for almost 500 years. King Henry and King John were recorded as visitors and it was used to house important prisoners. In 1216, Portchester surrendered to Prince Louis of France, who commanded the French forces supporting the Barons rebelling against King John. It was recaptured by John’s son, Henry III the following year and eventually, the French forces left Britain a few months later. Portchester was important as it was an embarkation point for troops going to France to defend the royal lands there.

The castle was refortified by Edward II in the fourteenth century and it continued to be used by armies campaigning on the continent. Queen Elizabeth, I visited the castle in 1603.

In 1632 Charles I sold the castle to Sir William Uvedale. It was used as a prison, often with prisoners of war from the Anglo-Dutch war (1665-1667), the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1712) and the Napoleonic Wars (19th century).

The morning dawned bright and sunny and I made my way to the north west side of Portsmouth harbour and the town of Portchester. I started my walk just south of the town and walked south towards the castle.

Portchester Castle

There were Redwings in the trees surrounding the water meadows plus a single Blackcap, presumably an overwintering bird rather than an early migrant.

On the mudflats were Oysercatchers, Redshank, Curlew and a single Greenshank.

Deeper water remained further out into the harbour and here there were Red-Breasted Merganser, a Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver.

Slavonian Grebe.
Photo by Anthony Pope (https://www.flickr.com/photos/4gyp/
Red-Breasted Merganser
Photo by JP Newell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpnewell/)

As I retraced my steps towards Portchester a Common Kestrel eyed me from its perch before flying off.

Common Kestrel

A few days in Portsmouth and a chance to explore the large natural harbours that are found in this area of southern England.

Arriving in Portsmouth in the early afternoon I made my way to Southsea seafront.

On the rocks below Southsea Castle, there is a winter roost of Purple Sandpiper, an uncommon wader which is a winter visitor to the UK and is only found in a few places in Southern England.

The waves are battering the rocks, but I manage to find 2 Purple Sandpipers braving the waves (there have been up to 12 there this winter).

Day one of our 2020 trip to Dorset saw us travelling down from London to Weymouth. We stooped off at Blashford Lakes in Hampshire for a couple of hours in the afternoon and although we didn’t record a large number of species, we did see some good ones.

Arriving at the reserve we went straight to Tern hide and were soon watching a distant Long-tailed Duck, a species which is more commonly found on the coast. Also present were 6 Common Goldeneye and 2 Goosander and large numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Gadwall plus smaller groups of Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Ducks and Common Pochard.

Goosander
Photo by Damian Walmsley (https://www.flickr.com/photos/damienwalmsley/)

The Woodland hide was quite quiet with only Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin and Goldfinch present. Elsewhere on the reserve we also saw Chaffinch, Blackbird, Dunnock and Long-tailed Tit.

After a couple of hours, it was time to recommence our journey west, but an excellent start to our trip.

Timsvideochannel1 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8mWulo_qPrlXZZw98nbR7g)

On our way home from Weymouth, Sue and I made a lunchtime stop at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve, near Ringwood in Hampshire. I had never been to this reserve before, in fact, I had never heard of it till a couple of days ago. Which is quite a surprise when I read what was on offer here. The evening Gull roost (which as lunchtime visitors we did not see) presently includes 5 rarer Gull species. The stars are 2 American Gulls, Thayer’s Gull and Ring-Billed Gull along with Caspian Gull, Iceland Gull and Yellow-legged Gull together with thousands of the commoner Gull species.

DSCN8828-49

Anyway, we were too early for roosting Gulls but we started on Ibsey Lake where there was an amazing 40 Goosander on the far bank along with 15 Pintail and a single Pink-footed Goose. Out on the lake were a few Goldeneye together with Common Pochard and Tufted Duck.

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Goosanders. Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Our next stop was the Woodland hide where we were treated to a wonderful display of woodland birds including some beautiful Siskin and Brambling along with Chaffinch, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Great and Blue Tits.

Brambling

Siskin (left), Wigeon (top right) and Deer (bottom right)

On the way back to the car park, we were directed to a spot where we could see a Great White Egret and Little Egret resting in the reed-bed and then were treated to a rather confiding deer (probably a Fallow Deer) which fed quite happily as we watched it from the path

This was a short visit but I would really like to visit again and spend a lot more time exploring this wonderful reserve.

Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Goosander / Common Merganser [sp] (Mergus merganser)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Naturelog: 3rd February

Posted: February 12, 2018 in Birds, Hampshire, Natural History, UK
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Not an auspicious start to our trip to Dorset as it poured with rain from the time Sue and I left London. We had planned to make a stop on the way and as we made our way south-west we debated whether or not to stop. As we approached Chawton in Hampshire, the rain eased a little and so we decided we would stop. Chawton is best known as the home of Jane Austen’s brother and the place where she spent her last years, but this is not the reason we are stopping. Chawton has become home this winter to a flock of Hawfinches, usually a rare bird in the UK. Last Autumn, however, there was an eruption and it is estimated that the wintering population is at least 10 times normal. In some places, flocks of up to 200 have been reported. Chawton village has hosted a flock of around 30 birds. As we park in the car park, the rain starts again but we decided to check out if the tea shop was open. It’s not but from the car park, we can see 4 Hawfinches in the top of a tree, so our visit is not in vain.

Hawfinch. Photos by Segey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

And so onto Preston, just outside Weymouth our base for the next week.