We recently went on a boat trip out in Langstone Harbour with our cameras looking for birds and wildlife but if you want something at a bit of a more leisurely pace Portsmouth Watersports are running photography kayak trips out in the harbour in July. Portsmouth Watersports are offering the photographers of Portsmouth the chance to kayak out with a guide to the many islands and mudbanks that appear at low tide around the harbour to visit the bird sanctuaries and to see the seals that also call the local harbours home. You do not have to be a competent kayaker to take part on these tours and you will be supplied all the kit you require.
There are two kayak trips planned:
Sunday 12th July, from 2.30pm to 5.30pm
Saturday 22nd August, from 10am to 1pm
The trips cost only £35 per person and spaces are very limited, if you would like to book on, please contact Joanne on 02392 663873.
Below are a few photos from a seal boat trip in neighbouring Chichester Harbour. These seals travel up and down the Solent and the mud banks down by the Watersports centre is a particularly popular sunbathing spot for them.
Don’t forget this summer we are running our wildlife photography competition with the RSPB, so if you are out on a kayak and get great shots of the three different birds we a re after, send them in for a chance to win some Strong Island and RSPB prizes.
On a grey yet thankfully dry Sunday morning if I had a Portsmouth bucket list, I had one of the items near the top ticked off with a boat trip with the RSPB. Personally, I’ve always loved Langstone Harbour. When I first moved to Portsmouth I lived at the Furze Lane Langstone campus of the University of Portsmouth and the harbour was on my door step and one of the first places I explored with my bike and camera. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky enough to explore every yard of its edge plus the sandbank and the Phoenix Breakwater with my camera, from high tide to low, but I haven’t had a chance to explore the islands.
The thing, for me, that makes Langstone Harbour extra special is that it is a wild habitat right on the doorstep of the most densely populated city in the UK. Considering the close proximity to well over two hundred thousand people, the harbour is surprisingly biodiverse and a key nesting location for birds on the south coast. More surprising is that for birds, Langstone Harbour has way, way more calling it home through the seasons than its neighbour Chichester Harbour. So…all of this wildlife shares Portsmouth with us, and us with them. Particularly at this time of year: nesting season. So for the very, very novice twitcher side of me, a boat trip out to see the birds with the RSPB was a fantastic opportunity.
We set off from the slipway at Broadmarsh Costal Park south of Havant with Wez at the boat controls and Dawn to help both myself and Tristan find out more about the wildlife and what the RSPB do in regards to the harbour and the bird populations. It was a good start with lots of Mute Swans seeing us off from the quayside and even a low flying Heron passing overhead. We travelled south, in parallel with the shore of Long Island, one of many different islands in the harbour that have (since the late 1970s) become protected bird preserves of the RSPB. We passed the southern tip of the island, which is one of the few areas where the public can land (we saw kayakers taking a break on the small shingle beach) before moving south west to Round Nap Island.
I’ve always been intrigued by the harbour’s islands and as they are off limits to the public this was my first chance to see them up close. Round Nap Island is quite small and at high tide seemed like a very flat and precarious home to the nesting birds and visiting birds too. On the shingle we saw Black Headed Gulls with their brown, fuzzy and big chicks who will be very soon flying themselves. Also on the island we saw quiet Cormorants taking a rest from fishing and curious Oyster Catchers exploring the shingle and waterline for food.
Round Nap Island.
Cormorants on Round Nap Island.
The RSPB routinely (at times, daily) check the nesting islands to ensure the birds aren’t effected by the many different dangers to them, their nests and their young. At low tide some of these islands are accessible by the mudflats so some islands have electric fences to protect against foxes and other predators. Another serious danger to these birds are storms and surging tides. Recently a storm washed away nests and seriously effecting the breeding of some of the harbours most important visitors.
Black Headed Gull.
From Round Nap Island we set off to the much larger South Binness Island, the most southerly of the islands in the harbour. As we travelled along the southern shore of the island we saw hundreds and hundreds of Black headed Gulls and their young plus the sharp edged Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and our first sighting of the beautiful Little Terns that visit the harbour each year. The Little Terns have struggled in recent years to raise young due to weather and tides and in 2013 this island was raised up with 500 tonnes of aggregate with the hope that their ‘scrapes’ would be better protected.
South Binness Island.
Oyster Catcher and Black Header Gulls on South Binness Island.
South Binness Island.
Black Headed Gull chicks on South Binness Island.
South Binness Island.
Little Terns are very special visitors to Portsmouth. Unknown to me until fairly recently, Portsmouth and Langstone Harbour is home to one of the largest colonies of these special birds, along with Blakeney Point and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Minsmere in Suffolk. You might find the birds in much smaller groups around the coast of the UK, including Scotland…but right here in Portsmouth is a key nesting site in the UK. Sadly these birds have difficulty in producing young as our weather has been bad in consecutive years but they will continue to try through the rest of the season. There are only 1,900 (approx.) breeding pairs in the UK so the work done locally by the RSPB to support and help these birds is vital. To put it in context, on South Binness Island alone in 2008 the island had 4,886 nesting pairs of Black Headed Gulls.
We travelled west past the island and out to a place I have wanted to visit for years, Oyster Island. Many years ago this small island was home to an oyster watchman’s house built in 1819. I had heard that you could still see the foundations and remains of the house (which was possibly washed away in a storm) still on this tiny island south of Farlington Marshes. As we approached you could clearly see on this tiny island the timber beams of the house plus bricks and more. Hard to believe that someone could live out here, right on the harbour.
From here we travelled to Baker’s Island with it’s northerly wild side. The RSPB obviously tries to not disturb the birds but there are occasions when it is necessary to land on one of the islands. Routinely the RSPB need to count the nests and check for any issues. Sometimes they have to fix fencing and maintain signs, etc, on this occasion Wez had to replace the electric fence battery so we grounded the boat on the beach for a few minutes. Obviously it is vital these islands are not visited by the public so this was an unexpected privilege to see this habitat up close for a minute or two.
Oyster Catcher on Baker’s Island.
Surrounding the boat at Baker’s Island.
We set off from here and travelled east across the harbour and midway saw a large commercial vessel leave the quay at the Lafarge Tarmac site and travel towards the harbour entrance. It was a good reminder that despite being a quiet harbour there is still commercial activity on a day to day basis. There are also fishing vessels that work within the harbour too.
Commercial vessel passing Round Nap Island.
The old oyster beds on Hayling Island’s north westerly edge (next to the ‘Billy’) have a long history, from farming huger amounts of oysters for consumption in London (ending due to pollution) to them being neglected until recent years when they were restored and made a protected RSPB area. These interlinking beds are now home to many different birds and access is prevented from Hayling Island as well as from boats. From here we saw a harbour favourite the Little Egret and also a solo Great Crested Grebe before it dived under the water and disappeared. On the way back to Broadmarsh we were lucky to see about a dozen Common Terns feeding, with them circling, hovering and then diving in to the harbour waters. We also saw some Little Terns too, who only feed around one kilometre from their nesting sites.
Little Egret at Hayling Island Oyster Beds.
Diving Common Tern.
In only a matter of two hours we had an incredible trip around the harbour and were introduced to not just the birds that call Portsmouth home but also the dedicated work by the RSPB, who with a very small team have to protect the habitats and birds. If you want to keep up to date with the work done by your local RSPB team be sure to follow their blog HERE. A huge thank you to Wez and Dawn for the trip!
Interested in seeing some of these birds yourself? It is actually pretty easy from the shoreline of the city of Portsmouth. We’re working with the RSPB on a series of articles starting tomorrow and we’ll be running a competition too. More details tomorrow.
This July 23rd-26th Sir Ben Ainslie and the America’s Cup World Series is coming to Portsmouth. Aspex and Teamorigin, the organisers of the World Series event, are offering local artists the chance to design the official poster of the America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth event.
Artists are asked to submit an existing portfolio of work, limited to 10 pieces, in a single PDF document with a maximum file size of 20MB — along with an outline idea for their poster design.
From these submissions, they will commission one winning artist to create the official poster for the Portsmouth event. The commissioned artist will be paid a fee of £1,000 for this work. However please note that copyright of the poster will then be passed to Teamorigin Events.
The deadline for submissions is Sunday 29th March. You can email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timeline and Key Stages
Sunday 29 March 2015 – Deadline for submissions
w/c 30 March – Artist selection
Early April – Selected artist notified and commission agreed
Early-mid May – Artwork delivered by artist
End May – Poster finalised/printed
23rd-26th July – ACWS event
As mentioned back in December, the volunteers of the South Parade Trust are teaming up with the academic might of Portsmouth School of Architecture in order to bring you all an exciting new project:
“The South Parade Trust would like to invite all interested locals and supporters to attend a public consultation event where YOU will be able to give your thoughts on how South Parade Pier could be re-developed. In partnership with the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture and overseen and planned by Catherine Teeling, a senior lecturer at the school, Masters students from the School of Architecture have begun a project that will explore creative ideas and strategies for the regeneration of South Parade Pier.
The project will develop solutions for reuse of the pier that respond to the community’s desires and interests and supports the SPT vision that the pier can once again become both a hub for the local community, a functioning business and an asset for the City.
Students bring a range of expertise to the project from Sustainable Architecture, Historic Building Conservation, Urban Design and Interior Design, however for the ideas to truly represent the future vision as the ‘Peoples Pier’ this live event has been organised for the community to ‘Have Your Say’ on its potential future, to get your thoughts and ideas on what this could be.
Catherine Teeling, Senior Lecturer at the Portsmouth School of Architecture, had this to say:
“This is an exciting project, we try to use local structures for the students and what better than an iconic structure such as the pier. We are also very proud to partner with the Trust on this event, it will be of huge value for the students to speak to the local public and hear their thoughts on how South Parade Pier can be re-imagined for the 21st century”
Vanessa Cooter, travel and tourism lecturer at Highbury College, added: “This is a great example of how the Trust can engage directly with local organisations such as the University and use their skills to collate and quantify local opinion on their pier. We all have an interest in how it is rebuilt in the future, this project will deliver bold and exciting plans which may one day be implemented or at least demonstrate what would be possible with imagination, innovation and drive.”
We hope that as many of you as are able to will visit us during the day at the Royal Beach Hotel opposite the pier and contribute to the Students projects which will, we very much hope, deliver exciting visions for the future use of South Parade Pier. More details will be announced in the coming weeks in the lead up to the event. We hope you will be able to come along! We want to hear from YOU!”
This public engagement event will be held on the 21st of February 2015 at the Royal Beach Hotel, from 9am to 4pm.
The fine folks over at the South Parade Pier Trust have released their new range of enamel pin badges, available here. Show your love to the pier and your support to this non-profit organisation by having one in your stocking. Also be sure to keep an eye out for their exciting new project, in partnership with the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture, landing in early 2015. You can keep up to date with all the going ons of the Trust by giving them a like here and follow here.
The enamel pin badges are also for sale at Southsea Rock on Marmion in Southsea, and at the reception of Highbury College Library on Winston Churchill Avenue. Hurry, whilst stocks last!
This weekend sees the 70th anniversary of D-Day being remembered on Southsea Seafront. An event in history that shall never be forgotten as it affected so many millions of lives both then and now.
There is a wide programme of events starting today, running through until Sunday including a Red Arrows display, mock beach landings performed by the Royal Marines and a live performance by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Many veterans will be attending alongside top leaders from around Europe. The events are free for all to attend and commence from around 10am each day.
You may also have heard this week about the fantastic news the D-Day Museum in Southsea is to receive some funding to help towards a complete redevelopment to upgrade and modernise the museum, making it the biggest D-Day commemorative attraction in the world. A huge honour for the city of Portsmouth, who played such a pivotal role in the D-Day operations from planning through to implementation.
This funding will bring the museum just short of it’s target for the development to be completed in time for the D-Day 75 celebrations. Various local businesses have pledged to carry out fundraising drives over the coming months the help the museum achieve it’s target, as well as the news that Victorious Festival will be donating a percentage of ticket sales towards the museum’s initiative.
You can read the D-Day museum plans of development and fundraising strategy here in more detail.
Remembering the allied forces who sacrificed so much for those of us today is hugely important for the future generations in so many ways. To see the D-Day museum reach these goals would not only be a fantastic achievement for the city, but also for the wider world to remember such a significant event in history.
Over the past couple of weeks quiet rumours about South Parade Pier being sold to a mysterious new owner/s have become more and more audible. So what truth is there to these whispers? The notion that Fred Nash and Dawn Randall are merely buying extra time in order to fend off any legal action from the council is perfectly plausible. However, it does appear that the structure is in the process of being sold to a group of local business men, with finalised contracts pending an ongoing survey. This group is believed to include local property and car dealer Tommy Ware, former owner of the Cambridge pub site before it’s bankruptcy. The group state that they are committed to reopening the entire pier and, incredibly, have been offered a grant of £100,000 by Portsmouth City Council who at this point are still shrouding the deal in secrecy. Malcolm Belcher of Vivid Surveyors has been retained by the prospective new owners of the pier to draw up a survey of what is required to restore the attraction. At the East Neighbourhood Forum held last night in the Royal Beach Hotel, Councillor Gerald Vernon Jackson (head of the city council) was severely criticised by local residents who doubted the good intentions of the secretive new owners. A real fear is that only the landward end of the pier will be restored in order to generate quick revenue, whilst leaving the rest to carry on slowly crumbling away into the sea.
As expected, this current outcome raises some serious concerns; have PCC carried out the appropriate company background checks on this group? If so, what financial assurances can they give regarding their intentions? How do we know this “consortium” are not acting as a pressure alleviating patsy for Fred and Dawn? And is it really wise to offer this grant to a non-charitable organisation? The next couple of weeks will be crucial for our pier’s survival: whilst the surveyors are outlining a repairs programme and the local elections are looming, the west side hole on the decking is slowly making its way towards the east side hole (see first photo below, courtesy of Howard Thompson). Should the two meet there could be catastrophic consequences.
Second and third photo my own.
As you may know The Camber some years back had a famous footbridge that crossed over the water from The Bridge Tavern (which it was named after) to the side now occupied by the fishing wharf. Back when the city walls ran north of the Camber this route gave quick access from The Point (on the inside of the gates) to the centre of the city and the dockyard. The bridge was removed as redevelopment work was done, including the building of the power station, which stored it’s coal where the carpark currently is by the Camber.
With more and more of the Portsmouth Council master design for the city being built it (Tipnor Park & Ride, the new junction, etc) we were hoping to see the plans for the proposed return of the footbridge and this week they were released by Owen & Partners, the architects for the project. The footbridge will return to it’s original position which will allow for the improved Millennium Walkway 2.0 route, speeding up the walk from the Hotwalls & Old Portsmouth through to Gunwharf.
The design of the bridge was commissioned by Portsmouth Council Councillor for Transport Henry Ayers who said:
“The Millennium Walkway 2.0 project was a key part of the master design for the city, with the Camber Bridge a vital link between two old and great parts of the city of Portsmouth. I’m proud to be seeing the return of a bridge that will again connect across the ancient waters of The Camber.”
H Ayrton from Owen & Partners described the innovative new bridge design:
“We wanted it to be striking, in the same way the Spinnaker Tower has captured the imagination and become a key landmark for both the city and the south coast. The bridge itself has sails which signify the history of The Camber, not just the current home to many fishing and pleasure boats but how it’s natural harbour for boats one thousand years ago was the reason for Portsmouth to take shape and become the great city it now is.”
Personally, I am really excited to see the bridge return, not only is it a part of the heritage of the city back in it’s rightful place but it also looks to be a stunning new design bringing more great architecture to Portsmouth.
Let us know what you think!
Chris Brunnen sent over this stunning aerial photo of the Solent from the other day (the one between the storms) and it is striking seeing a familiar view of the Isle of Wight from a totally different perspective. Plus, I am a huge fan of cloud shadows. Weird maybe but there you go.
Chris Brunnen runs CJB Photography a local photography studio that specialises in aerial photography (from a helicopter…very jealous) as well as studio work too. Find out more at: