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.



Wildlife Studies at Weston Shore

The Friends of Weston Shore took part in an initial field study of the wildlife on the shore last year and we are looking forward to learning more about this in 2015.

We had help from Phil Budd of the Southampton Natural History Society who discussed the outline of a wildlife survey and then lead us on a short walk along the shore to talk in more detail about what was to be found there.

Phil points out a specimen of Sow Thistle

Phil points out a specimen of Sow Thistle

In a very short time Phil highlighted for us what a rich habitat for plants and animals Weston Shore really is. We started off by looking at the different types of seaweed on the shore, including gutweed and bladderwrack, and how these provide a home for different types of insects.  Moving slightly away from the shore, the grassy areas on the shore are host to a diversity of plants including sea beet and sea purslane.  In turns these plants are home to lots of animals including coneheads and different types of grass hoppers.

There really is so much to learn and we found it very exciting to get a taste of the natural diversity to be found on the shore. We are looking forward to teaming up with Phil again this year to learn more about the ecology of Weston Shore and in the long term hope to conduct fuller surveys to draw up more detailed information about the natural riches to be found there.

studying Sea Purslane on Weston Shore

studying Sea Purslane on Weston Shore

If you would like to get involved and find out more about the Friends of Weston Shore, please join us at our next meeting on Thursday 19th March at 7pm, at Woolston Community Centre, Church Road, Woolston, Southampton SO19 9FU.  Everybody is welcome!