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Emsworth has three millponds as shown in the map below.

The two eastern millponds have a more natural habitat than the town millpond, with reedbeds and bankside vegetation.

Peter Pond - is owned by the Kinloch family and is managed by David Gattrell.
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Peter Pond

Slipper Millpond - is owned by the Slipper Millpond Preservation Society who also manage its banks and sluices.
Go to . . .
Slipper Millpond

Emsworth Millpond - to the west of the town is usually referred to as Emsworth Millpond or simply the town millpond. It is owned by Havant Borough Council. Here are more details about this pond.  


Emsworth Millpond was originally a tidal inlet. Now the Westbrook Stream drains into the pond through a culvert under the A259 road from the north. Nowadays a remotely controlled sluice controls the opening of the millpond to the tide. The pond is flushed out every month and the sluice is also opened when flooding is threatened.

The town millpond has little in the way of natural vegetation, but the birds are well fed by locals and visitors. Feeding the ducks is a popular pastime. We encourage people to feed seed to the birds rather than bread, which contains salt and is not really very good for them. However, most people do feed bread to the birds and they do not appear to have suffered too much. The Westbrook Stream which flows into the millpond from the north, brings a regular flow of small fish which attract diving birds and gulls.

A view of the millpond looking north from the harbour wall


Updated May 2011 . . . . N = 40





Mute Swan

Common all year. Max 135 July 2001

Polish' Swan

Occasional on pond (Pink legs and feet)

Black Swan

Occasional visitor for periods




Common all year. More in winter. 100+

Tufted Duck

Regular in winter. Max 74 - Jan 8 2011

White Domestic ducks

Regular all year

Buff Orpington Duck

Two males on millpond Sep-Oct 2010


Occasional winter visitor


Occasional winter visitor


Rare winter visitor - 1996

Red-crested Pochard

Rare winter visitor - 2000

Muscovy Duck

Rare winter visitor - 2008



Canada Goose

Occasional visitor

Snow Goose

Rare winter visitor - 1992

Greylag Goose

Rare winter visitor - 1997

Brent Goose

Rare winter visitor - 27-Nov-94

Barnacle Goose

Rare winter visitor - 1997

Bar-headed Goose

Rare winter visitor - 1997

Emperor Goose

Rare winter visitor - Last in 2000




Common all year. More in winter.



Black-headed Gull

Common all year

Common Gull

Regular in winter

Herring Gull

Regular in winter

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Occasional in winter

Great Black-backed Gull

Regular in winter

Mediterranean Gull

Occasional in winter

Yellow-legged Gull

Rare winter visitor - Last in 1999



Little Egret

Regular in winter when pond is low

Grey Heron

Regular in winter when pond is low


Once only on 12-Dec-02




Regular in winter



Little Grebe

Regular in winter

Great Crested Grebe

Regular in winter



Red-breasted Merganser

Regular in winter


Rare winter visitor - Last in 2000



Common Tern

Occasional in summer

Sandwich Tern

Occasional in summer




Occasional when pond is low


Occasional when pond is low


Occasional when pond is low

Ringed Plover

Occasional when pond is low

Bar-tailed Godwit

One sighting - 11 May 2011


The pond is home to resident flocks of non-breeding Mute Swans, usually in the region of 50, though occasionally rising to over 100. Pairs of Swans have attempted to nest on the pond, though in the absence of natural materials they have to build their nest from litter and are rarely successful in raising young.

'Polish' swans can also be seen on the pond. As cygnets their plumage is white, unlike the brown plumage of regular cygnets. As adults they can be detected by their pink legs and feet. The regular swans have black legs and feet.

Here is one probably from a brood on Peter Pond in 2004

A Black Swan has visited the town millpond on a number of occasions over the years. The earliest record I have is of one on the millpond from September 1992 to February 1993. Another was resident on the millpond for three years from February 1999 to March 2002. The next one I know about arrived in August 2004, though that did not stay long. Further short visits were made in June 2006 and January 2008. Black Swans actually breed on West Ashling pond and it seems likely that the more recent of our visitors will have come from there.

Here is the Black Swan that visited in 2004

Mallards are also present on the millpond all the year round, usually around 100 in number, sometimes more in winter. There are usually a few hybrid ducks and white domestic ducks on the pond, though they are difficult to identify.

Tufted Ducks are regular winter visitors, usually arriving in October with numbers building up to 30 or so as the winter progresses. The cold winter of 2010-11 saw an unprecedented invasion of Tufteds onto the millpond with 50-60 regular and high of 74 on January 8 2011.

Pochard and Goldeneye are also occasionally seen on the millpond, though they are not regular visitors.

Cormorant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Mergansers are regular winter visitors on the millpond. We also had a Goosander on the millpond in Year 2000, but not seen since.


Coot are also resident on the pond, with more coming in the winter, rising to about 20. A pair regularly attempt to nest in the northern section of the pond, but the nest is always swamped by the rise and fall of the water.

Geese are not common on the millpond. Canada Geese occasionally turn up, but not regularly. We have also seen Snow Goose, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Barnacle Goose, Bar-headed Goose and Emperor Goose, but not on a regular basis.

Grey Heron and Little Egret are often seen on the pond, particularly in winter and when the water is low.

The most famous visitor was a Spoonbill which came onto the pond on one memorable occasion on 12-Dec-02, but has not been seen since.

When the water is low waders sometimes feed on the mudflats. Redshank are the most common, though Lapwing, Dunlin and Ringed Plover have been seen.

Kingfisher is a fairly common sight in winter flashing low over the pond.

Pied Wagtails are another special feature of the millpond; up to 100 may be seen flitting around the millpond wall, particularly at dusk. They must roost locally.

Black-headed Gulls

Black-headed Gulls are on the pond throughout the year, far more numerous in winter. Many young 'gingery' Black-headed Gulls are seen in early summer from the breeding colony in Langstone Harbour. The gulls provide great entertainment by catching food tossed into the air. Other gulls are also regularly seen on the pond, though in small numbers, including, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Mediterranean Gull. Sandwich and Common Terns sometimes fish in the millpond.

About 100 Black-headed Gulls are regularly on the millpond during winter. They are attractive birds to feed as they will fly acrobatically to catch bread tossed to them in flight. Here they are on the eastern side of the town millpond being fed with bread.

Ringed Black-headed Gull

I noticed that one of the gulls being fed had an engraved white ring on its left leg. I could not read the ring as the birds were constantly on the move, but took lots of photos and got one showing the ring and the engraving. It was EAS6. The right leg had a standard metal ring.

Reporting the colour-ringed gull

I checked the European colour-ringed birding web site to see to whom I should report the sighting. This led me to a Dutch birdwatcher ringer named Frank Majoor to whom I e-mailed the sighting details.

Frank's web site gave lots of information about his ringing activities as well as information about recoveries of his ringed birds. Web site . . . Apparently, most of the Black-headed Gulls which breed in The Netherlands migrate south (Belgium, France and Spain) or southwest (England and Ireland). So this one was probably a Dutch breeder. Frank sent the following link indicating the wintering destinations of the gulls that breed in Holland.

Ringing information: Bird was ringed by Benny Middendorp in Holland at Zoetermeer, Noordhovense pl on 05-Mar-2012. Since then it has been seen 9 times in Holland, all in the ringing area and mostly by Benny. The last sighting before today's was on 17-Jun-2013. Benny sent me this photo of the bird in its breeding plumage with a beautiful brown head.

Benny tells me the bird is a breeding bird from Zoetermeer, Benthuizerplas which is east of Den Haag.
See picture with islands at . . .

Here is the site where the gull was ringed. Looks like home from home?