Return to . . . Emsworth Wildlife - Homepage
----------------------------------------------------

FRIENDS OF EMSWORTH WILDLIFE
A community web site dedicated to the observation, recording
and protection of the wildlife of the Emsworth area

Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day (Ralph Hollins)

 * * * CURRENT DAILY WILDLIFE BLOG * * *
for December 2017
(in reverse chronological order)

Send wildlife observations and photos to Brian Fellows at . . . brianfellows at tiscali.co.uk

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current

. . .

SUNDAY DECEMBER 10 - 2017

Coal Tits in gardens
The BTO reports that winter 2017 is turning out to be exceptional for garden Coal Tits. In the summer Coal Tits normally remain within woodland, and are recorded in less than a third of gardens, but in winter they move to gardens in search of food. Usually in November they are recorded by about 40% of Garden BirdWatchers, but this November they have been seen in an unprecedented 70% of gardens. It is thought this maybe due the scarcity of tree seed crops in the wider countryside.
For more details see . . .
http://bto-enews.org/NXK-5AHE5-3UEDCR-2X7EDO-0/c.aspx

I have seen the same effect here in my garden in central Emsworth. Coal Tits have always been a rare bird, usually seen only 3 or 4 times in a year in winter and none at all last year. However, this winter I have had regular visits from a single Coal Tit almost every week over the past two months. So far, I have not been quick enough to capture the bird on camera; the bird hops onto the sunflower heart feeder, snatches a seed and then flies away to nibble it in the bushes. However, here is a nice shot from my files taken by my friend Patrick Murphy who sadly passed away last year.


SATURDAY DECEMBER 9 - 2017

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby had a walk along the Warblington shore from 7:45am to 9:25am - low tide - apparently -3C. It was cold, but not as icy as it could have been. His report follows . . .

"Ibis Field: At the back resting on the dead tree was the Cattle Egret, with a male Pheasant in the field and 2 Jay over.
Rotting wheat stem pile in the big field: 4 Meadow Pipits, 2 Pied Wagtails, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Skylark. Conigar Point - a bit quiet?: Reed Bunting calling from the hedge behind the point, 3 Wigeon, 3 female Pintail, 10 Teal, 8 Brent Geese, 1 Little Egret, 1 Buzzard chased off the SSSI field by Carrion Crows and headed south to Hayling Island.
Off Pook Lane: 302 Brent Geese, 44 Teal, 6 Redwing over and 2 in the hedge along the SSSI field, 4 Lapwing, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 81 Shelduck - best count of the winter so far. Will we get into double figures like last winter? 3 Greenshank.
A Pair of Shoveler flew west along the channel (possibly the Langstone Pond birds). 8 Little Egrets feeding in the trickle of water left from the tide going out. 19 Dunlin, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit.
3 Redwing in the cemetery (see photo). Very flighty birds, not settling. Oh, and 1 Blue Tit, 2 Robins and 10+ Blackbirds in the pristine cemetery habitat!!"


Solar Boat sightings
John Arnott had a very good bird watching trip today on Solar Heritage boat in Chichester Harbour. Chris Berners-Price was skipper and, as the weather was ideal, he took the boat further towards the entrance to the Harbour than usual to increase the chance of seeing Diver species. Good for you Chris, for they saw both Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver, plus three Peregrines and a Harbour seal resting on a mud bank. They also had great views of all the usual water bird species, including Knot which is not often seen on these boat trips. Here is John's 'record shot' of the Black-throated Diver.


FRIDAY DECEMBER 8 - 2017

Southmoor flood plan
Peter Milinets-Raby is ecstatic about the Environment Agency plan to flood part of the Southmoor at Langstone.
He says . . .
"these plans will make Southmoor into another Medmerry in West Sussex, so I will expect breeding Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Glossy Ibis within four years of the work being completed. You heard it here first. I like the sound of this. It will be a great addition to improve the pitiful numbers of birdlife in this eastern corner of Hampshire.
However, my logical mind is asking. Why it is being done? To stop houses being flooded. What houses - there are none! And, if the sea levels are expected to rise, then surely the whole coastline floods. If the water levels rise to six metres, then it rises to six metres along the whole stretch of the coast. Making a breach just allows water to run in more quickly, not really alleviating the rest of the coastline, which will flood as the tide washes over the five metre sea walls. Surely to stop flooding you build the sea wall up higher to six metres. QED.
I think someone in the bird department is fed up of the lack of birds seen at Southmoor and likes the idea of a Hampshire "Medmerry".

Note on Medmerry
Medmerry is one of the newest of the RSPB nature reserves near to Bracklesham Bay in West Sussex. It was created between 2011 - 2013 when the Environment Agency breached the seawall and flooded the interior fields, much as is proposed for the Southmoor, but on a much larger scale. In fact over 4 miles of new flood bank was constructed inland from the sea before the existing shingle beach was breached to create the largest managed realignment scheme on the open coast in Europe.
It became an RSPB reserve in 2014 and since then the intertidal habitats have been developing fast, attracting a wide range of wetland birds. Brent Geese, Curlew and Grey Plover winter there, whilst in summer Avocets and Lapwings breed on the lagoons and saltmarsh.

Ralph Hollins is cautiously optimistic about the Southmoor plan. He says . . . "My reaction is that it is the best that can be done in the circumstances. I doubt it will have a significant effect on the orchid population and I fear there are few ground nesting birds left in the area. I think the flooding will provide a few years delay in the ongoing deterioration in the wildlife of the area and many even bring in some new species (Avocets?? Black-winged Stilts??)"

I asked orchid expert, Nigel Johnson if the flooding would affect the growth of Southern Marsh Orchids on the moor. Nigel thought as the new bund will be to the south of the orchid field the orchids should not be unaffected.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had a high tide visit to Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon 2:45pm to 3:23pm
He said . . .
"it produced an amazing record count of 3 male and 9 female Goldeneye. They were together in the bay by the entrance to the Pook Lane track. My highest count. The males were busy displaying to one another whilst the females ignored them and dived for food.
Other birds of note on the impressive 5 metre tide (very high - water as far as the eye could see and only a few centimetres from the top of the sea wall!) were 12 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Great Crested Grebes. A Kingfisher dashed across the water heading towards the paddock, in which were 5 Grey Herons, 5 Little Egrets, a Grey Wagtail and 2 Oystercatchers.
On the pond there was nothing of note, except a single Little Grebe, 36 Mallard and 2 Mute Swans. No Teal and alas no sign of the male Shoveler. Icy tomorrow - should be interesting???"


Red Kites fighting?
Tony Wootton got a sequence of photos of two Red Kites apparently fighting at a site close to East Meon Has anyone seen any example of this before? I have seen Buzzards fighting over food, but to see Red Kites in action must be pretty special.


THURSDAY DECEMBER 7 - 2017

Southmoor flooding plans
I gather the Environment Agency is planning to change the sea defences at Southmoor, Langstone to mitigate the effects of flooding caused by rising sea levels. The plan is to breach the present seawall about half way along the path to allow the sea to flood the moor. A new earth embankment would be built across the moor, roughly where the present fence is located, to prevent to sea flooding any further north. There would be a footpath on top of the embankment for access across the moor. The present seawall footpath would be stopped at the breach. It is thought that as well as helping to prevent flooding of houses, the plans would create a new wetland habitat for wildlife inside the present seawall.
Here is a Environment Agency plan of the area showing the main features of the new project. The red annotations are mine just to make the map clearer.

From a wildlife point of view one can see some advantages in that the new wetland area could provide extra feeding habitat for migrant waders, ducks and geese. However, ground nesting birds in the present area would be affected by the flooding. More serious is the potential effects the salt water flooding could have on the botanically rich fields to the north of the proposed embankment, where some 10,000 Southern Marsh Orchids flower.
If you have any views about this scheme please let me know.

Here is a link to the planning application at HBC https://planningpublicaccess.havant.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=DCAPR_242378


Barred Warbler
Christopher Evans went on a walk in Titchfield Haven reserve today with the Havant U3A group and got very lucky with this Barred Warbler. Barred Warbler is described as a 'rare vagrant' in the current Hampshire Bird Report. There was only one recorded in 2016 at Sinah Common on Hayling Island and only five previous records this century. So Havant U3A were very lucky. What a Christmas present! Photo courtesy of Doug Yelland,


WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 6 - 2017

Warblington Hedgerow
Despite the gloom, Peter Milinets-Raby had a stroll around the Warblington cemetery area 1:15pm to 2:15pm - High tide. As it was high tide he concentrated on the cemetery and the big fields east of the church. His report follows . . .

"On December 1st the council had employed Norse to cut the hedgerow along the northern boundary of the new cemetery extension. I was shocked to see how drastic it had been cut down! What was once 4 metres high and at least a metre thick was butchered to what can be seen in the bright sunny photo (Ironic - nice views of the castle tower). The workers on site said that they were not cutting any more of the hedgerow down.

To my astonishment this afternoon I discovered that the whole length of the hedge had been felled (the seat in the distance in the photo is the one in the sunny photo - over 80 metres of hedge gone - good breeding habitat gone, good winter thrush feeding area gone (Redwing and Fieldfare seen recently in this hedge). Total shame. The council just do not know how to look after this so called conservation area. It has become too clinical over the last few years, clearing all the good "wild bits". No wonder I hardly see any passerines when I walk around this area!

Onto the birds. With all the disturbance and noise, there were very little birds to report: In the big field by the rotting wheat stems: No sign of the Water Pipit, though 2 Pied Wagtails present with a Grey Wagtail, 3 Skylarks and a Meadow Pipit.
In the field south of the cemetery: 138 Brent Geese (contained 2 juvs. Are these the only ones, just moving around slightly, or are there four birds?). 46 Curlew, 1 Mistle Thrush, 6 Redwing feeding in the hedge, 1 Green Woodpecker.
In the field west of the cemetery: Briefly (literally only two minutes worth - before a dog walker flushed them) were 4 Little Egrets and 1 Cattle Egret. Could not find them later, obviously flew into the central fields out of sight!


TUESDAY DECEMBER 5 - 2017

Goosander returns
I decided to have a late afternoon walk (about 3.30pm) around the millpond, not really expecting to see much, though fortunately I did take my trusty Lumix TZ70 camera with me. I was striding in time with Beethoven's 4th symphony on my bluetooth earphones when a ripple on the surface of the pond caught my eye. Maybe it was a Coot, but wait for it to come up. Wow, it was the juvenile Goosander which I had not seen since Nov 20, though it was reported to me by Nicola Hammond on 24 Nov. I took some pictures, but the light was awful, almost dark and this was the best I could manage. This follows the two redhead (female) Goosanders that Barry and Margaret Collins saw on the Great Deep west side on Dec 3, so there are more about.


Red-breasted Mergansers
Interestingly, Susan Kelly saw 4 Red-breasted Mergansers in the harbour this morning near the Slipper Sailing Club. If they also come onto the millpond it could make for a nice comparison with the Goosander. Here is a cracking shot that Richard Somerscocks got of some male Red-breasted Mergansers displaying to females in Emsworth Harbour a few years ago.


WW2 aircraft collision over Brook Meadow
Here is a link to some memories by Adrian Voller of the collision between a Wellington bomber and a Mosquito Nightfighter over Emsworth in 1944 which claimed two airmen's lives . This WW2 incident is commemorated in a plaque on the north bridge on Brook Meadow.

Here is the link to the story . . . http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/22/a1138222.shtml


MONDAY DECEMBER 4 - 2017

Emsworth walk
I had a stroll around the local area before an early lunch. I stopped to admire the nice contrast between the red Hawthorn berries and the green Mistletoe on the tree in Bridge Road car park.

Walking down Bath Road I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of workers from Norse clearing the weeds from the edge of the roadside by hand! I congratulated them for not using a spray which has been the custom in the past. Let's hope HBC (Norse) has abandoned this awful unecological practice which contaminates the environment and leaves ugly burnt scars. The three Norse workers were happy for me to take a photo of them at work.

Two Cormorants were fishing on the Millpond but no sign of the Goosander - but see Barry's note below. No sign either of the Black Swans that were in the harbour yesterday.

I came back home via Brook Meadow where I stopped to admire the neatly trimmed Hawthorn laid hedge and the newly woven dead hedge on the river bank from yesterday's work session.

 


Goosanders on Thorney
Barry and Margaret Collins had two redhead Goosanders on the Great Deep west side yesterday (Dec 3) and a juvenile Marsh Harrier foraging over the Little Deeps.


Langstone Mill Pond
This afternoon Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond at 1:38pm and watched the tide drop until 3:15pm. As it did so, the birds moved in . . .
59 Shelduck, 200+ Brent Geese, 8 Red-breasted Merganser, Male Goldeneye, 19 Wigeon, 5 Grey Plover, 49 Teal, 22 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank (G//R + BR//-), 1 Kingfisher - very mobile. One minute on a boat out in the harbour, the next dashing over the pond. 5 Little Egrets, 8 Common Gull. 11 Black-tailed Godwit (R//R + LG//- see photo - though in one photo it looks white???),

On the Pond: Nothing when I arrived, just the lingering male Shoveler (see photo), which after ten minutes flew out into the channel to feed. When I left, the pond held 34 Teal, 2 Little Grebes and the female pond Pintail. Most of the Teal (34 on the pond and the 49 on the mud) were observed flying in from Thorney Island.
Of interest were a pair of Grey Heron on the big obvious nest, moving sticks around and attempting to mate.

Brian's note on colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit R+LG - First seen at Nore Barn on 23-Oct-13 and seen each early winter since then. It seems to be a Langstone - Nore Barn bird. I have never seen it on the east side of Emsworth.


SUNDAY DECEMBER 3 - 2017

Brook Meadow work session
It was a relatively mild morning compared with recent ones for the regular first Sunday in the month work session on Brook Meadow. There was a good turn out of 11 volunteers led by Mike. The main tasks were to reconstruct the dead hedges along the river bank and to trim and tidy Mike's laid Hawthorn hedge.

Here is Mike discussing the hedge trimming with one of the volunteers

For the full report and more photos see . . . https://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/


Black Swans return
We have had a single Black Swan in the Emsworth area for the past week or so, but this morning Chris Oakley alerted me to the presence of three of them in Emsworth Harbour. So this afternoon I went down to take a look for myself and, true to form, three Black Swans were in the low water channel at the end of the wooden jetty.

Here they are with one showing off its white underwings

They may well be part of the family of six which were in Emsworth Harbour from Jan 27 until Mar 11 earlier this year. These birds came from a nest site at Riverside Park on the River Itchen in Southampton. It will be interesting to see if any more turn up.


Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington shore this morning from 7:36am to 9:30am - nearly high tide.
Warblington cemetery: 17 Redwing, 1 Jay, 1 Meadow Pipit over.
Ibis Field: 1 male and 3 female Pheasant.
Big field with rotting wheat stem pile: 4 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Water Pipit feeding amongst the pile - worth checking this area again as this bird may hang around. 2 Meadow Pipit over, 2 Skylark.
Water Rail heard squealing from mini reed bed behind Conigar Point
Conigar Point: 1 Greenshank, 145 Wigeon (good numbers), 17 Shelduck, 7 male and 16 female Pintail (good numbers), 233 Dunlin, 11 Grey Plover, 31 Teal, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. 41 Curlew and 2 Brent Geese in the field south of the cemetery.

Little Egret obligingly feeding close in the stream until "Maizie" the dog flushed him!!!

Off Pook Lane - tide nearly in: 1 Kestrel, 45 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 48 Brent Geese, 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Lapwing, 2 Grey Plover, 21 Shelduck, Shoveler male on the shore.


Nore Barn
In the afternoon, Peter took the family for a walk along the shore of Nore Barn and around the corner to the real Conigar Point - 1:38pm to 2:45pm - tide dropping.
Spotted Redshank in the stream with a Redshank. 2 female Pintail, 233 Brent Geese, 33 Teal, 1 Greenshank at the top end stream (G//R +GL//-), 173 Wigeon - very good count, 6 Black-tailed Godwit with a further 127 around the corner (G//R +GY//-)


SATURDAY DECEMBER 2 - 2017

Black-throated Diver
John Arnott saw a Black-throated Diver from the Ellanore bird hide (West Wittering) this afternoon at 15:06h . . .

"It was in the main channel opposite the entrance to Snowhill Creek, too far to photograph but easily 'scoped. At first it was facing away from me but was looking over its shoulder showing a peaked crown. My initial thought was Great Northern Diver but then it turned sideways and showed a text-book white half moon patch on its rear flanks. I examined it for the collar of a Great Northern Diver low on the neck but it was clean white all the way down the front and very black down the back of the neck. Typically, the top of the neck gave the impression of being thicker than the lower half of the neck and it was very full chested. It then vanished but I later saw it briefly as it headed for the west side of East Head and then I finally lost it to view behind the dunes of the Head.
Lots of other water birds from the hide - Dunlin, Knot, Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits (this is a good spot to compare Godwit species), Redshank, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Shelduck, Red-breasted Merganser and lots of Black-headed Gull.
Sorry no numbers but my wife went home with the notebook from our WeBS count at Bosham in the morning - that was my fault! Pretty quiet on our Bosham sector count but there was a Whimbrel, first heard then seen at the entrance to Furzefield Creek on the north side, sitting on a post of an old fence that runs down the shore to the waterline.

The Black-throated Diver was also seen by Bernie Forbes during an outing to East Head - reported on the SOS Sightings site . . . https://www.sos.org.uk/recent-sightings


FRIDAY DECEMBER 1 - 2017

Nore Barn
12 noon. Tide falling from high water at about 9am. The sun was low and very bright making conditions difficult for viewing and photography. However, at Nore Barn it is possible to shelter from the north wind. The area around the stream was crowded with birds, mostly Brent Geese, Wigeon and Black-tailed Godwits. Here is just a small section.

The Spotted Redshank was also present feeding among the Godwits. In this photo it is with a Godwit which appears to be having a little bathe in the fresh stream water.

Over 300 Brent Geese were scattered around the western mudflats including at least one juvenile - probably from the sole family of two youngsters. I found two Shelduck among the Brent Geese. I counted 174 Black-tailed Godwits, though there could well have been more. This is my best count of the winter so far. I picked out two Godwits with colour-rings, G+WR and ROL+RLR - both mega regular birds in Emsworth Harbour each with over 100 sightings.


Winter flowers
Quite a number of plants continue to flower right into winter, so I though I would include a regular spot on the blog for the ones I notice as I go around town. To start the ball rolling, here is a not terribly good snap of some Lesser Stitchwort that has been flowering for a few weeks by the Beech hedge adjacent to Bridge Road car park quite close to where I live. It would not keep still in the wind, but the white sharply divided petals are very distinctive. It is a perennial plant and I see it in this spot every year, though this year it is flowering later than usual.


Weasel on Brook Meadow
Whilst on a recce (for Sunday's work session) around Brook Meadow, Mike Probert was fortunate enough to see a Weasel (no black tip on tail) run across the River Ems from east to west on a thick, fallen tree trunk - the first one south of the North bridge. That is the first Weasel we have had reported on Brook Meadow since one seen and photographed by Malcolm Phillips on 09-Apr-2014. I suspect they are more common than this but elusive and not easily seen. Here is Malcolm's excellent image. We do miss him - Malcolm that is!


Garden Sparrowhawk
Keith Wileman just caught this magnificent female Sparrowhawk on his garden fence this afternoon a couple of seconds before it flew away. Wow! What a bird!


Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby had a couple of outings today in the bitter north wind.
The first was from Nore Barn to Emsworth for only 40 minutes from 9am - "just too cold!"
Nore Barn at high tide: 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Redshank resting by the stream. 234 Brent Geese, 73 Wigeon, 12 Teal.
Beacon Square: 44 Wigeon, 153 Brent Geese, 8 Shelduck.
Emsworth Harbour: 1 Sandwich Tern, 10 lapwing on the pier by the town wall.
On the Mill Pond were 3 Cormorants and 39 Coot.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter visited Langstone Mill Pond in the early afternoon (1:11pm to 2:46pm - very low tide):
Off Shore: 6 Red Breasted Merganser, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 114 Teal, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 62 Shelduck, 6 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, 366 Brent Geese (with 2 juvs), 9 Wigeon, 12 Grey Plover, 2 Grey Herons with 9 Little Egrets in the trickle of water in the channel, 100+ Dunlin.
On the pond were: 51 Teal, Male Shoveler, Female Pintail, 1 Chiffchaff.
1 Little Grebe with fish - Giving stunning views - Help needed on the ID of the fish - The bird caught three of these fish - all were this huge size - reddish tinge in the fins. Amazing sight as it swallowed them head first.


For the previous month go to . . November 1-30