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A local 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)

Restricted blog during lockdown

(in reverse chronological order)

Blog Archives . . . from 2015 to current

* * * You can now find all my current wildlife blog reports on the Brook Meadow wildlife blog * * *

Go to . . .

I am also still updating pages on these two special birds . . .

. . . . Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond

. . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

. .

MONDAY MAY 24 – 2021
Great Black-backed GullsLooking from Slipper Road I could see 3 Great Black-backed Gull chicks on the centre raft of Slipper Millpond being tended to by one of the parents, presumably the mother. The father was on the pond nearby and later joined his mate on the raft.  

One can't help but admire these birds which have successfully bred on the pond for the 10th year running despite the very determined efforts of the Slipper Millpond Association to deter them.
Here's a nice little video I captured of mother and chicks.

SUNDAY MAY 23 – 2021
Great Black-backed Gull chicks
I went to Slipper Millpond to check on the Great Black-backed Gull chicks that Pam Phillips reported yesterday. The weather was chilly with a strong blustery wind, whipping up waves on the normally calm millpond. However, I could just make out two chicks next to their mother under the wire netting on the main centre raft. So, they have actually succeeded in breeding successfully on the pond for the 10th year running despite the determined efforts of the pond association to deter them. What determined and resolute birds they are. Well done! Now the big problem for the adults will be getting sufficient food to the chicks through the wire netting.
Here is a shot of the raft showing the two little bundles of fluffy chicks beside their mother.

SATURDAY MAY 22 - 2021
Pam Phillips tells me that the Great Black-backed Gulls which have been nesting on Slipper Millpond have hatched chicks despite the efforts by the Pond Association to deter them. Pam couldn't see how many chicks there were but there was grey fluff on the nest.

Peter Milinets-Raby got a shot of the two Great Black-backed Gulls on the centre raft with one bird seemingly sitting on a nest beneath the wire netting. It will be interesting to see what progress they make in such difficult conditions.

Peter also noted a young Great Black-backed Gull on the pond (maybe one of last year's brood visiting home)

Great Black-backed Gulls are back!
The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were both on the centre raft at about 11am this morning. Clearly they had crept under the wires which have been strung across the raft. These very determined birds appear to be settling in for a 10th year of nesting on the pond. I shall be interested to see if they manage to build a nest despite the wires. There also appears to be a pair of Coot bravely attempting to nest on the same raft. They will need a lot of luck!

Here's a short video clip on YouTube of the birds . . .


MONDAY MARCH 29 - 2021
Nore Barn
I did not get on with my early chest clearance again, so decided to venture down to Nore Barn in the car to check for the Spotted Redshank on a rising tide. 2½ hours to high water. Time: 10.10am. A very pleasant spring day. The colour-ringed Greenshank was on the edge of the stream when I arrived. No other birds in the immediate vicinity.

To allow the tide to rise a bit more, I had a walk around the woods. Very pleasant. Nut no sounds of any migrants, Chiffchaff or Blackcap.
I found a cluster of what I think were Common Dog-violets - (with slightly notched spurs) beside the path, though they could be Early (Wood) Dog-violets.

More interesting was a Bee-fly sunning itself on a nettle leaf.

When I got back to the stream at about 10.40 I saw a Redshank scuttling along the stream. At first I thought it might be the Spotted Redshank, but on closer examination turned out to be a Common Redshank. Our Spotted Redshank may well have left on its journey north to its breeding grounds in Northern Scandinavia.


There was still no sign of the Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond which probably means the wire netting covers that the Association erected over the nesting rafts has had it intended effect. Sadly I feel that is the end of the long nesting history of these magnificent birds on Slipper Millpond - nine years producing a total of 16 fledged youngsters. That's pretty good.

So it is goodbye Great Black-backed Gulls - it's been good knowing you!

Please see their special web page for the history of the nesting and lots of photos and videos.
Go to . . .
Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond


MONDAY MARCH 22 - 2021
Spotted Redshank
As I have not been able to get over to Nore Barn as often as I would like during lockdown I have asked Susan Kelly to keep a look out for the Spotted Redshank on her daily walk. It should be leaving us shortly for its migration back to its breeding grounds in Northern Scandinavia and I always try to get a final sighting date.Susan last saw the bird on 15 March and since then she's only been on the shore at very low tide, so would not expect to see it. She has been marking sightings on the calendar and has asked a couple of other people to keep a lookout. Thank you, Susan.

Peter Milinets-Raby has made several recent visits to Nore Barn and on Saturday (Mar 20) managed to get the video footage he needed of the Spotted Redshank to finish his movie - "Birding the Warblington and Nore Barn area."  
Here is a link to Peter's excellent movie, about a typical wander around the area in March.

FRIDAY MARCH 19 - 2021
The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls that has nested on Slipper Millpond for the past 9 years was back on the main centre raft despite the presence of wire netting designed to prevent their nesting! They had clearly found a way through the netting, so it will be interesting to see if they manage to make a nest. When it comes to nesting birds are determined creatures.

Video clip . . .


Great Black-backed Gulls
This morning at Slipper Millpond I was dismayed to see that the north raft had been netted in addition the other two. So all three rafts on the millpond are now fully covered over with wire netting - meaning there's no where for the Great Black-backed Gulls to nest or the Canada Geese, if it comes to that, as they also nest on the centre raft. Maybe the Coots will find a way through. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this radical step taken by the Slipper Millpond Preservation Society to stop the large gulls nesting on the pond.


Spotted Redshank
It was good to see the famous Spotted Redshank feeding among the seaweed at Nore Barn this morning at 12.30pm - about 2½ hours after high water. It was feeding alone, no sign of the colour-ringed Greenshank anywhere. These two birds usually, but not always, feed together. I could not resist getting a few photos and a video clip of the Spotted Redshank to add to several hundred I have in my files.

Video clip . . . .

The bird should be with us for another couple of weeks or so before it starts back on its long journey to its breeding grounds in Northern Scandinavia. Our last sighting is usually towards the end of March, though last year it was still present on April 4th which is exceptional.

Dave Long, Seasonal Ranger, Bird Aware Solent posted a piece about the Emsworth Spotted Redshank on Facebook. Here's the link . . .

While I was at Nore Barn, inevitably the Spotted Redshank was disturbed by a dog chasing into the water. But, as always, it returned to its preferred feeding ground when the dog had gone. I did have a quick word with the owner about her dog chasing birds which I think she responded to as later I saw the dog being led away on a lead! When you can it's worth having a friendly word with dog owners to help them appreciate the importance of the birds.


Slipper Millpond
The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls was on the as yet unnetted north raft when I passed by this morning. However, I fear the Pond Association will soon be covering this raft as well as the other two to prevent the large gulls nesting. One can just discern a small collection of twiggy material to the right of the standing gull in the photo which might be the start of a nest. This is the time when nest building has begun in previous years, so watch this space!

I was not surprised to find the centre raft on Slipper Millpond had been netted, like the south raft, to discourage the nesting of the Great Black-backed Gulls.

The north raft is at present clear, but will no doubt follow suit.

The Pond Association has tried netting the rafts before (in 2014) but the gulls found a way around the wires and managed to nest. The netting this time looks more substantial so we shall see what if anything happens. There was no sign of the gulls this morning, but I am sure they will be back.
Here's a shot I got of the pair of Great Black-backed Gulls last Thursday on the centre raft.

Interestingly, on the same occasion a handsome Great Crested Grebe was swimming and diving on the pond, once coming very close for a nice photo.

Brook Meadow
Spring like weather on Brook Meadow this morning, such a change from the freezing conditions and strong winds of recent days. The birds were in good voice: a Green Woodpecker was yaffling from the east side, Robin singing everywhere, plus the occasional Wren, Great Tit and Woodpigeon.
The first Primroses are just coming out on the north bank. Lesser Celandines struggling to open on the Butterbur area in front of the seat. There's no sign of any flowers on the Butterbur spikes as yet, the frost must have slowed them down. Counting the Butterbur will be hard this year with lots of dead grasses and other plants strewn over the area.
Lungwort is remarkably still in flower on the causeway despite the hard frosts. The first white blossom is now showing on the Cherry Plum on the causeway.

Hermitage Millponds
Two pairs of Mute Swans are established on the two ponds, the regular nesting pair on Peter Pond and a new pair on Slipper Millpond. There is bound to be some friction between the two pairs before nesting. Here's the Slipper Millpond pair.

The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls appear to have taken up residence on the centre raft. The south raft where the large gulls have nested for the past 4 years has been netted by the Association to prevent gulls nesting there, but the centre raft where they have nested in the past is not netted. It will be interesting to see what happens when/if the pair of Canada Geese which have nested on the centre raft return.

Emsworth Harbour and millpond
A large flock of Mute Swans has been milling around the quay over the past few days. They are not easy to count, but today I counted 44 including about 10 juveniles. This is not a resident flock and I suspect they have come from Fishbourne or maybe Langstone.

Meanwhile, over on the town millpond three Cormorants were perched on the sailing club jetty hanging out their wings to dry. All of them had definite signs of breeding plumage.

I was surprised to see no sign of the resident pair of Mute Swans which are usually so vigilant in defending their territory from outside invasion. Maybe they have gone elsewhere for nesting grounds as there's no where on the millpond for them to nest. It is possible that they are the new pair that have turned up on Slipper Millpond - a far more favourable site for nesting except for the close proximity of the Peter Pond pair.

Brian Lawrence saw the Spotted Redshank and the colour-ringed Greenshank today at Nore Barn.

I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at Nore Barn this morning with the tide rising. The main purpose of the visit was to check on the Spotted Redshank which I have not seen for a while. It was not in the stream when I arrived so I walked to the top of the channel south of the woods and there it was - the famous Spotted Redshank! So good to see it again and looking so healthy. Its behaviour was unmistakable, feeding actively close to the edge of the shore.

PHOTO - digging deep into the mud

As always the Spotted Redshank was quite impervious to people and dogs passing close by.

VIDEO - Spotted Redshank feeding at the top of the channel with a dog racing past.

Walking back along the shore I enjoyed the spectacle of masses of birds feeding close to the shore as the tide pushed in. They included good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal. The Black-tailed Godwits were feeding close to the shore, before the tide finally pushed them off to the saltmarshes.

PHOTO - Black-tailed Godwits in flight.

VIDEO - Black-tailed Godwits feeding . . .

I looked carefully through the Brent Geese hoping to see the Black Brant seen here on 29-Jan by Amy Robjohns. The neck bands of some of the Brents were pretty close, but none of them had the strong contrast between white flanks and very dark belly of a true Black Brant.

PHOTO - Brent Geese

When I got back to the stream the only birds there were the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL), a Common Redshank and a pair of Mute Swans. The Spotted Redshank presumably had stayed in the upper channel.

PHOTOS - Greenshank (G+GL) and Common Redshank.

For earlier entries . . . April-December 2020 (restricted blog during Covid lockdown)