Natural History

Ralph Hollins used to carry out regular surveys of plants and wildlife in the cemeteries.  Rather than duplicate his work we have included a link to his website.

As Ralph now visits the cemeteries less frequently we have started adding to this page.

There is a good selection of trees in the cemeteries and a separate page has been devoted to them.

White Bryony seen in Dissenters’ Cemetery 19th June 2018.

During our work party on 27th May 2015 we saw an impressive fresh specimen of Chicken of the Woods fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus) (pictured) on a yew stump near the New Lane gate. The fungus is also known as sulphur shelf, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because it is yellow and said to taste like chicken. It is claimed to be edible and can be prepared in most of the ways chicken meat can be used. As with any fungi, accurate identification is important if you are thinking of eating it.

Chicken of the woods 260515

Eating the mushroom can cause mild reactions in some people, such as swollen lips or in rare cases nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation. Causes can range from allergies to the mushroom’s protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on (including yew) or eating specimens that have started to decay.

5 Spot Burnet Moth

5 Spot Burnet Moth 24th June 2015

Seen in the Dissenter’s Cemetery. This a sub species and is usually seen only between May and July.

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel seen in a yew tree at New Lane.

Cinnabar Moth

Cinnabar moth caterpillars on ragwort.   St Faith’s cemetery 25th July 2017

Cinnabar moth caterpillars on ragwort in Dissenters’ Cemetery 27th June 2017.

The moth is named after the mineral cinnabar because of the red patches on its predominantly black wings.  Unlike most moths, cinnabar moths fly during the day as well as after dark.  The main food plant for the caterpillars is ragwort which is poisonous to animals.  The larvae absorb toxic and bitter tasting substances from the food plants, and assimilate them, becoming unpalatable themselves.  The bright colours of both the larvae and the moths act as warning signs, so they are seldom eaten by predators.

Wasp Spider seen in St Faith’s cemetery. Illustration by Terry Smith

This colourful spider is a recent arrival in the UK from Europe and has slowly spread over the south of England.  The large orb web, built in grass, has a wide, white zig-zag strip running down the middle. Males wait at the edge of the web until the female has moulted into a mature form, then take advantage of her jaws being soft and rush in to mate. However, many males are still eaten during this time.   An example was pointed out in St Faith’s cemetery by Ralph Hollins.

Crab Spider on Ox-eye Daisy seen in Dissenters’ Cemetery 31st May 2017.  Illustration by Terry Smith.

Crab spiders do not spin webs.  They wait on flowers and pounce on visiting insects.  They can change the colour of their bodies (from pale green to yellow or white) to match the flower they are on.

Violets. Illustration by Penny Munday.

Small Skipper seen in St Faith’s Cemetery 27th June 2017.

Great Bindweed in Dissenters’ Cemetery 7th June 2017.

Common Field Speedwell in Dissenters’ Cemetery 7th June 2017

Knapweed in Dissenters’ Cemetery 7th June 2017

Cut-leaved cranesbill seen in the Dissenters’ Cemetery 7th June 2017.

A close-up of the flower 31st May 2017. Possibly Grass Poly(?) a member of the Loosestrife family.

Gatekeeper on ragwort in St Faith’s Cemetery 25th July 2017.

Primroses in New Lane Cemetery 10th April 2015

Snowdrops in triangle outside Eastern Road  Cemetery 16th February 2015.

Lesser Celandines in triangle outside Eastern Road Cemetery 28th February 2016.

Wild Onions forming bulbils in Dissenters’ Cemetery 27th June 2017

Wild Onion (also known as Crow Garlic) only occasionally develop flowers; normally they skip the flower stage and put their energy into developing small bulbils which will eventually drop from the flower head to become separate new plants.  (Source: Ralph Hollins)

Common Poppy in Dissenters’ Cemetery 27th June 2017.

Yellow Rattle in flower 31st May 2017.

Yellow Rattle seed pods in Dissenters’ Cemetery 27th June 2017.

Yellow rattle seeds were sown in the Dissenters’ Cemetery the previous year in an attempt to control the grass and allow wild flowers to flourish.  Yellow rattle is said to act as a parasite on the roots of grass. The seed pods rattle’ when dry, hence the name.

Fungi near gate from St Faith’s Cemetery to New Lane 31st May 2017.

Spring Cinquefoil in Dissenters’ Cemetery 31st May 2017.

Field Mouse-Ear in Dissenters’ Cemetery 31st May 2017.

Stinking Iris in Dissenters’ Cemetery 31st May 2017.

Common frog in the St Faith’s section             30th October 2018


A young blackbird and two young robins were seen in the Havant Borough Council cemetery on 19th June 2018.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Seen at New Lane/Eastern Road Cemetery on Saturday 28th January 2017 between 2.20pm and 3.20pm.

Blackbird 2, Chaffinch 1, Dunnock 1, Goldfinch 12*, Great Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, Magpie 1, Robin 1, Song Thrush 1, Wood Pigeon 4

* Might have been slightly more – difficult to count.

NB To avoid counting birds more than once, numbers relate to the most seen at any one time, not total numbers for the hour.



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