A look back on 2017 – an amazing year!

A very Happy New Year to everyone! As the new year starts, this is a look back on 2017, which has been an amazing year for the Friends of Weston Shore.

Our first event of the year was a spring clean and litter pick on the shore with friends from Surfers Against Sewage. They were an enthusiastic bunch and we quickly cleared up a lot of rubbish. It was a sunny day and cleaning up the beach after the winter months was enjoyable fun.

During April 2017, the Friends of Weston Shore were honoured to be the recipients of the Southampton City Care for the Environment Award at the St George’s Day Community Awards held at Solent University.  To receive such kind recognition was a wonderful surprise for the group and the award was presented to the group by well known Southampton celebrity Lawrie McMenemy MBE and the Worshipful the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Catherine McEwing.

We held our own spring clean litter pick on the shore in May and were joined by Bruce Larner, a volunteer who has helped several groups in the Southampton area.

We are regularly contacted by companies and organisations who want to help with our aim of making sure Weston Shore is as clean as possible and in June, new friends from the Royal Bank of Scotland did a great job of picking up lots of litter.  They were an energetic group and we are grateful for all their hard work.

In August, we were delighted to help with a special event on the shore, the Sea Life Discovery Day organised by Owain Masters from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.  Capturing Our Coast also participated in the full day event, looking at the plants and animals to be found on the shore. It was a wonderful day, helped with some lovely summer sunshine in the afternoon and thoroughly enjoyable.  We have a short vlog about the day, which you can watch here:


In September, we joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society as part of their Great British Beach Clean. This is a regular event run by the society with the help of volunteers, in which they carry out a survey of the litter to be found on the shore. We were again, as we often are, helped by a day of sunshine and it was great to see so many people getting involved. The survey is important in understanding what, exactly, ends up on our shores and has helped highlight the dangers of plastic debris.

The next event, in what was a very busy year for us, was another beach clean up on the shore – the biggest one ever!  This was part of the Autumn Beach Clean campaign from Surfers Against Sewage. Volunteers from Southampton Greenpeace, Solent Students’ Union and the Marine Conservation Society from the University of Southampton also took part. In total, we estimate around seventy people were involved and a huge amount of rubbish was cleared up. Special thanks to Mairin Williams from Surfers Against Sewage for all her hard work in organising the event.

Last year, 2017, has been a very busy one for the group and special thanks to all our volunteers for the invaluable work they do.  Being a volunteer is not only satisfying, its also great fun. As well as our core aim of trying to keep the shore as clean as possible, we are also learning more about the precious wildlife on the shore.

We hope more that more people can join us as we look forward to 2018! We are hoping for another action packed year and continuing to learn more about the shore and the wildlife that lives there. If you would like to get involved, please contact us at westonshore@gmail.com.


Weston Shore – Recent Discoveries

from ecologist Philip Budd

Since the completion of my much-acclaimed Wildlife Survey of Weston Shore 2015 Report (published December 2015) there have been a few new discoveries on the shore. Two new plants were added to the list for the shore on 17th June 2016, these were Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris and Annual Beard-grass Polypogon monspeliensis, both at the eastern end of the shore. The Annual Beard-grass often occurs as a casual by walls and on bare ground in urban areas, but it is also a scarce coastal grassland and dry saltmarsh native and listed in the Hampshire Rare Plant Register (Rand & Mundell, 2011). It was found in this latter habitat at Weston Shore. Another species in the Rare Plant Register, Slender Hare’s-ear, continues to thrive at its site near the children’s playground on the shore. Another important discovery was of 30 spikes of Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera, reported to me in June 2016. I have not described the location as it would be disastrous if these flowers were ever to be picked because orchids invest a lot more energy in flower production than other plants do. There is also a single Bee Orchid coming up along Jurd’s Lake Way.

A new leaf beetle to the shore, Chrysolina banksii (nothing to do with the famous street artist of similar name) was discovered at the eastern end of the shore in August 2016 and a Stonechat was a welcome sighting in scrub in the rolling mills area in January 2017. Also at the western end of the shore on the low, crumbling cliffs near the sailing club a colony of many thousands of Yellow-legged Mining Bee Andrena flavipes was discovered in April 2017 along with much smaller numbers of their parasite homeless bee Nomada fucata. This colony is extensive and continues, intermittently, all the way NW along the coast to the Centenary Quay area at Woolston. Other Andrena bee species could also be present in the same but these are often difficult species to identify. These bees have stings but they are too week to penetrate human skin.

Philip Budd.


Nomada fucata – left;  Andrena flavipes– right

Both reproduced with kind permission of Gary Palmer, New Milton.


Notes on some of the plants and animals on Weston Shore

The shore is a rich habitat and the Friends of Weston Shore are learning more about the natural treasures to be found here! Click on the photos for a closer look.

Sea purslane

This is a distinctive looking plant. It is a low lying greenish-grey shrubgrowing in discrete patches on the shore. It is an evergreen and flowers between July and September. It is also a habitat for numerous insects including the Lesser Marsh Grasshopper and coneheads. It can be found in most of Europe, western Asia and parts of Africa.Sea PurslaneGutweed

Distinctive for it’s bright green colour, gutweed blooms during the summer months and can be found on the shoreline. There are several similar types. It is often seen with bubbles of air trapped inside its long fronds which have the look of intestines, hence its name. It is a summer annual so will decay and form masses of bleached fronds towards the end of the season.

Gutweed Bladderwrack

This is the most common types of seaweed found on our shores and get the name for the pairs of air bladders which float its fronds towards the light. A strong plant, it grows rapidly.

The seaweed is a habitat for the Seaweed Fly, any of several species, and these flies are food for some of the birds on the shore. Small insects called sandhoppers can also be found. The seaweed on the shore is an important habitat for many species.

BladderwrackCommon (or Green) Shore Crab

This crab, often found on the shore, is native to the British Isles but has now spread to many other places around the world. It sheds its shell at various stages in its life cycle and so the shells that are found are normally the discarded ones. It feeds on a variety of molluscs, worms and small crustaceans.

crabPurple (or Flat) Top Shell

This mollusc found on Weston Shore is part of a large group of colourful seashells. The inside lip of the shell has a mother of pearl effect of multiple colours. They graze on algae on the shore.

IMG_6512The Friends of Weston Shore are looking forward to being involved in more field studies at the shore to learn more about the plants and animals to be found there.  If you would like to know more about the Friends of Weston Shore, please contact us at westonshore@gmail.com.

The Big Beach Clean Up 2014!

This year there’s another chance to tackle an environmental problem everyone can get a grip on – Litter!  The Friends of Weston Shore are back in action on Sunday 3rd August 2014 between 10am to 1pm helping to clean up the shore and are looking for heroes to help join them.

Weston Shore is truly one of Southampton’s hidden gems. It is designated as an international Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the importance of the inter-tidal mudflats, which each year attract thousands of wading birds including egrets and curlews.

The Friends of Weston Shore would like to invite everyone with an interest in protecting one of Southampton’s most beautiful locations to come along to their annual “Big Beach Clean Up” and show their support for the area by helping to take part in a short litter pick along the seafront.


Litter pickers and bags will be provided but please wear sensible shoes and gloves if taking part.  Come along at any time between 10am and 1pm.  The starting point will be near the car park near to the former Pitch and Putt course on Weston Shore. For more information please contact the Friends of Weston Shore at westonshore@gmail.com.

About the ‘Friends of Weston Shore’Image

The Friends of Weston Shore are a constituted Friends’ group comprised of local residents. Established for four years, the Friends’ group has made a dramatic impact on protecting and enhancing the SSSI habitat, improving the area for all to enjoy and encouraging the diverse wildlife to flourish.

The Friends of Weston Shore are supported by Groundwork Solent and Southampton City Council.

For more information about the Friends of Weston Shore or to join the group, please contact them at westonshore@gmail.com or on twitter @WestonShore or check out their blog at www.westonshore.wordpress.com.

Big Beach Clean Up on Weston Shore with the Marine Conservation Society

We’re very pleased to announce that the Marine Conservation Society is running a litter pick on Weston Shore on Monday 28th April 2014 from 12.30pm onwards. The Marine Conservation Society is a UK charity for the protection of the seas around the UK and for their shores and wildlife.  It’s great news that beautiful Weston Shore is part of their nationwide programme of clean ups on our beaches and we hope that lots of people support this wonderful event.

The meeting point at 12.30pm is the car park opposite the Westwood Local Nature Reserve.  To take part you need to register and you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.mcsuk.org/foreverfish/register.php?beach=Weston%20Shore%20Beach

This is a great chance to get involved and the Friends of Weston Shore are hoping to be there as well!

2013 – Our Best Year Yet!

Hello and a very Happy New Year to you all!  2013 has been the best year yet for the Friends of Weston Shore and the following is a brief look back at our escapades over the last twelve months.

In April we held our first litter pick and beach clean up of the year. We were joined by new friends from Solent University who were there to film our clear up. They produced a wonderful short documentary about our work which you can view here:

It was a fun day and we managed to clear up a lot of rubbish from the shore.


During the spring we were invited to have a stall at a fare run by our friends at Sholing Valleys. It was a great opportunity to spread the word about our activities.


Later during the spring we had a group walk on Weston Shore to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area.  It was great to simply take in the sights and not tear round with a litter pick trying to pick up every drinks can or plastic straw that happened to catch the eye!


On Sunday 4th August, we had our yearly Big Beach Clean Up and this was our most successful to date with around sixty people taking part.  It was rather windier than expected, which meant we had to take down our marquee to avoid it taking off parachute style! We are very grateful to all those who got involved in helping us keep the shore looking beautiful and clean.


We were very pleased to be invited to take part in the Friends’ Forum which was a meeting of a number of the local groups in the Southampton area who carry out voluntary activities like ourselves and we are looking forward to being involved in further events with the Forum in the future.

We were also invited to the autumn fare at Sholing Valleys and again were delighted to meet new friends and share our enthusiasm for Weston Shore.


In the autumn, our friends at Groundwork press ganged us into helping with a pirate themed event at the Pirates’ Playground on Weston Shore. This was great fun and much piratical malarkey was to be had. One local family were kind enough to come along with some cakes decorated with pirate motifs which was very much appreciated.  We are looking forward to a similar event next year, although we might run this during the summer in the hope that we have some better weather.


Also in the autumn we ran another litter pick on Weston Shore and were lucky in having some beautiful autumnal sunshine to help us along. We cleared up a massive amount of rubbish including bits of old fireworks.  We are grateful for help from Southampton City Council with our clean ups.  During the autumn we were fortunate in receiving a donation of £100 from the Ford Britain Trust towards the costs of running the group and this was much appreciated.

In November, we had our Annual General Meeting and were delighted to welcome some new faces. We had a productive and useful meeting and have come up with a plan of action for 2014 to build on our success.  We are always looking for people to join us and our next meeting is on Thursday 30th January 2014 at 7pm at the Woolston Community Centre, 39 Weston Grove Road, Woolston, Southampton SO19 9FU. If you would like to come along please let us know by emailing westonshore@gmail.com or simply turn up on the day!

Autumn clean up on Weston Shore

The Friends of Weston Shore were in action on the beach recently on a beautiful autumn morning for a litter pick. Within just a few hours we managed to clear up a lot of rubbish on what was a morning of sparkling sunshine.

ImageGraham from Friends of Weston Shore, hard at work!


Matthew, a long term supporter of the work of Friends of Weston Shore


Peter from Friends of Weston Shore


Our clean up was on a Sunday after Guy Fawke’s Night and so there were many bits of fireworks to clear up!


Sarah from Friends of Weston Shore


Is it Captain Robert Reneger? No, Adam from Friends of Weston Shore..


Our pickings at the end of the morning on Weston Shore!

It had been a wonderful, enjoyable morning and we are looking forward to more clean ups next year.  Our next meeting is on Thursday 30th January 2014 at 7pm at the Woolston Community Centre, Church Road, Woolston, Southampton. If you would like to come along let us know or turn up on the day!

Big Beach Clean Up – Big Success!

At the start of the day!

Setting up our base of operations at the start of the day.

Weston Shore was abuzz last Sunday with keen volunteers scouring the beach for litter.  The Friends of Weston Shore held their regular clean up with the assistance of our friends at Southampton City Council and Groundwork South.

Virginia from Friends of Weston Shore

Virginia from Friends of Weston Shore

We were particularly excited as a group of 24 volunteers had travelled long distances to help with our event before going onto take part in a sailing adventure.


When we set up it was rather too windy to put up our usual gazebo so we had to brave the elements and run the event in what you might call an al fresco manner. Our volunteers soon turned up, hungry to get out on the shore and pick off the litter.


The event was a great success, one of our most well attended with around fifty volunteers taking part.  This was the first event in which our volunteers were able to cover the whole of the area that the Friends of Weston Shore cover, from Netley Castle at one end down to Southampton Sailing Club at the other.


The shore looked pristine afterwards and we are so grateful for all the help we received and to all the volunteers who took part.

The HUGE amount of rubbish that was cleaned up!

The HUGE amount of rubbish that was cleaned up!

Weston Shore

Weston Shore

One wonderful moment was wandering up to the stream near Weston Yacht Club.  There is a growth of teasel on the banks of the stream and this was alive with bees, flitting between the flowers.  To see them busy at their work was a thrilling end to a great day.

Teasel and Bees

Teasel and Bees