Birdwatching in Emsworth
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What I am fairly sure is the same Spotted Redshank has turned up at the Nore Barn stream to the west of Emsworth without fail every winter since 2004. It is not ringed, but its timing and behaviour strongly suggest a single bird. It arrives usually early October and remains throughout the winter period leaving in mid-March.
It is an amazingly 'tame' bird, feeding very close to where people and dogs regularly walk. It is easy to see without binoculars and is a dream bird for photographers. It must be the most well-known and watched Spotted Redshank in the whole country.
It usually feeds in company with other birds, such as Greenshank, Little Egret, and Black-tailed Godwit. On occasions, a second, and sometimes a third, Spotted Redshank are present, but these are not regular

Spotted Redshank - 2021-22 . . . Spotted Redshank - 2020-21

Spotted Redshank - 2019-20 . . . Spotted Redshank - 2018-19

Spotted Redshank - 2017-18 . . . Spotted Redshank - 2016-17

Spotted Redshank - 2015-16 . . . Spotted Redshank - 2014-15

Spotted Redshank - 2013-14 . . . Spotted Redshank - 2012-13

Spotted Redshank - Photo archive - before 2012

First and last dates for the regular Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

1st Year: 2004-05: first sighting on 26-Dec-04 . . . Last sighting 11-Mar-05.

2nd Year: 2005-06: first sighting on 15-Dec-05 . . . Last sighting 20-Mar-06

3rd Year: 2006-07: first sighting on 09-Nov-06 . . . Last sighting 22-Mar-07

4th Year: 2007-08: first sighting on 05-Nov-07 . . . Last sighting 17-Mar-08

5th Year: 2008-09: first sighting on 08-Nov-08 . . . Last sighting 18-Mar-09

6th Year: 2009-10: first sighting on 21-Oct-09 . . . Last sighting 24-Mar-10

7th Year: 2010-11: first sighting on 19-Oct-10 . . . Last sighting 19-Mar-11

8th Year: 2011-12: first sighting on 21-Oct-11 . . . Last sighting 9-Mar-12

9th Year: 2012-13: first sighting on 09-Oct-12 . . . Last sighting 27-Mar-13

10th Year: 2013-14: first sighting on 11-Oct-13 . . . Last sighting 13-Mar-14

11th Year: 2014-15: first sighting on 03-Oct-14 . . . Last sighting 20-Mar-15

12th Year: 2015-16: first sighting on 27-Sep-15 . . . Last sighting 21-Mar-16

13th Year: 2016-17: first sighting on 11-Oct-16 . . . Last sighting 16-Mar-17

14th Year: 2017-18: first sighting on 22-Oct-17 . . . Last sighting 22-Mar-18

15th Year: 2018-19: first sighting on 29-Oct-18 . . . Last sighting 23-Mar-19

16th Year: 2019-20: first sighting on 31-Oct-19 . . . Last sighting 04-Apr-20

17th Year: 2020-21: first sighting on 08-Oct-20 . . . Last sighting 23-Mar-21

18th Year: 2021-22: ?? For latest news see year entry at . . . Spotted Redshank - 2021-22

Is it the same bird?
This is a question people often ask me . . . 'Is it the same bird that has been coming for the past 15 years?'
My answer is that I have no definite proof as it is not ringed or tagged. But having monitored and watched the bird very closely and taken lots of photos and videos of it over the past 15 years I am sure it is the same bird for the following main reasons.

1. The arrival and leaving dates of the Spotted Redshank are always roughly the same - arriving mid to late October and departing mid to late March.

The relatively late arrival date suggests our bird is a male as the females tend to come through on passage much earlier Aug-Sep. In Spotted Redshanks the female leaves the nest soon after laying and leaves the male to brood, hatch and fledge the young before leaving himself. Hence, his lateness in arriving on wintering territory.

2. Its timing in the stream has been constant. It returns to the same small tidal area which is fed by a fresh water stream from inland. It arrives at the stream 2-3 hours before and after high water, depending on the height of the tide, and remains there feeding for at least an hour each visit. It sometimes roosts on the saltmarshes.

3. Its general tameness in the stream is a distinguishing feature of the Spotted Redshank. It is often referred to as 'the tame Spotted Redshank' It is so confiding allowing close approaches with no obvious fear, though it is always alert to anyone of thing getting too close. It is a cinch to photograph and video. It has been called 'A photographer's dream bird'. I have hundreds of good images on my computer and I only use a simple point and shoot camera. People come from far and wide to take its photo.Surely, it must be the most photographed Spotted Redshank in the world! It annoys me to see photographers creeping to within metres of the bird, often with huge lensed cameras which are totally unnecessary. But the bird takes no notice.

4. Its feeding behaviour in the stream in much the same way each time. I can now spot it easily a good 50 yards away at the end of Warblington Road. It often feeds with a regular feeding companion - a colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL). Occasionally a second, or even a third, Spotted Redshank turns up to feed with the regular bird which it tolerates and they are often quite friendly together. Generally, the Spotted Redshank does not tolerate the presence of a Common Redshank, though it is indifferent to other regular feeders in the stream, including Mute Swans, Black-headed Gulls, Black-tailed Godwits and Little Egrets.

3. Its tolerance to disturbance. This is a very heavily used area for dog walking and visitors birdwatchers are often disturbed when they see dogs dashing into the stream to chase the birds. However, I have learned not to worry too much as the bird always flies off to the saltmarshes if the dog gets too close, returning once the unruly animal has gone. Whenever I get the chance, and have the courage, I speak to the dog owners hoping to impress on them the importance of not disturbing a rare bird that has flown such a long way to spend the winter with us. I have done my bit towards educationg the local people to see how lucky they are to have such a wonderful visiting their area. My policy is always education before legislation. Local people have certainly adopted the bird and adopt a policing policy of their own which is good.

Colour-ringed Spotted Redshanks
There are also two colour-ringed Spotted Redshanks in the local area, which are also occasionally seen at Nore Barn. They are coloured W+GY and W+GR.
For more details on these go to . . .
Spotted Redshanks - colour-ringed

Going east along the A27 towards Chichester, take the A259 into Emsworth. Then take the third turn to the right down Beach Road and at the end turn right into Warblington Road. You can easily park near the end of the road overlooking the harbour. Walk another 50 yards to get to the bridge over the small stream at Grid Ref: SU740053. This photo shows a view of the Nore Barn area looking west. The stream where the Spotted Redshank feeds is just before the woodland in the distance.

Discovery of the Emsworth Spotshank
Ralph Hollins was the first to report a Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn on 26 December 2004. He had two more sightings of the bird for the winter 2004-5. Martin Hampton saw it on Feb 6 (and was surprised by the close view he had!), then Ralph himself saw it again on 11 Mar 2005, which was the final sighting for that winter. Ralph had no earlier sightings before 26-Dec-04, so it seems as if that was the winter it first discovered the joys of the Nore Barn stream.
I first saw the bird the following winter (2005-06) on 15 December 2005 and I remember the occasion well, as I had never seen a Spotted Redshank that close before. I certainly did not realise at the time what an attraction this bird was to become over the next few years, nor that it would put Emsworth firmly on the local (and even, at times, on the national) birding map.

Note on longevity
From the BTO web site the maximum recorded age for Spotted Redshank is 7 years 5 months 16 days (set in 1983). The present bird clearly beats this record. However, I suspect the BTO record simply reflects lack of data, as the the longevity record for the more closely studied Greenshank is over 16 years and that of Redshank over 20 years.

Note on nesting and migration
Nesting grounds of the Spotted Redshank are almost entirely within the Arctic Circle from Norway eastwards through Finland to the forest zone of Siberia. Most migrate southward to winter in the Mediterranean region and in Africa south to the Equator and even to South Africa. A few over-winter locally in the South of England. Spotted Redshank share their forest-marsh nesting grounds with Wood Sandpipers, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Jack Snipe and Broad-billed Sandpipers. They are noisy birds on their breeding grounds and their distinctive 'tchuet' flight calls are constantly heard.

Spotted Redshank plumage
We only see the Spotted Redshank in its winter plumage in Emsworth. As shown in the following photo this is bright and clean looking, grey above and white below with orange to reg legs. The bill and legs are much longer than in the Common Redshank.

The Emsworth Spotted Redshank in winter plumage
(Photo by Trevor Carpenter 7 November 2007)

The summer breeding plumage of the Spotted Redshank is totally different from the winter plumage. It is jet black and liberally spotted with white - from where it gets its name. Its legs in summer are almost black as well. I took the following photo in mallorca in April 2005. The bird was on passage back to its breeding grounds and was already in its breeding plumage.

Spotted Redshank in breeding plumage

We had a one-off sighting of a juvenile Spotted Redshank beginning its moult into first-winter plumage in Emsworth Harbour in October 2008. Here is a photo of that bird.

Juvenile Spotted Redshank feeding near the quay in Emsworth Harbour - 03.10.08

Text of article published in 'Kingfisher' - the Newsletter of the Hampshire Ornithological Society

Since I live 15 minutes walking distance of Nore Barn I have been able to keep an almost daily check on this delightful bird and study its behaviour closely. It prefers feeding when the tide is fairly high, usually around 1-2 hours either side of high water. It is best seen on spring tides, when can come right onto the beach within a few yards of where you are standing. No wonder it is often referred to as the 'tame' Spotted Redshank.

The Spotshank is certainly amazingly tolerant of people, and even of dogs, walking over the small bridge over the stream, not more than a few yards away. I have often watched an unruly dog rushing into the stream, chasing Mute Swans with the Spotshank nonchalantly standing its ground, quite unperturbed at this silly intrusion into its space.

The stream at high water showing the Spotted Redshank with a Greenshank - February 2008


I realise many visiting birdwatchers do worry about the dog problem which is quite intense at Nore Barn. I too was concerned about the disturbance at first, but I have learned to live with it. My policy is education not confrontation. I try, whenever possible, to speak to the dog walkers and tell them about this wonderful bird that visits their area every year and attracts people from far and wide to see it. I think I am winning, since the bird (and me!) are now well known by locals who look forward to its arrival each year.

Company it keeps
It often feeds in the stream in company with other birds, such as Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. On occasions, a second, and sometimes a third, Spotted Redshank has been seen with it, but these are not regular.

Spotted Redshank feeding with a Greenshank on 23 February 2009
The Nore Barn area is in fact very good for Greenshank, more often than not with a variety of coloured rings on their legs. It also used to be good for Black-tailed Godwits, but sadly they seem to have largely deserted Emsworth over the last couple of years.

I have wondered about what sex the Emsworth Spotshank is. Since, it arrives relatively late, my guess is that it is probably a male. Male Spotted Redshanks are left with the job of looking after the young, while the females flit off early to warmer climes once the eggs are laid.

I think it was Richard Ford who described the Emsworth Spotshank as a photographer's dream bird. It certainly has attracted a large number of photographers over the years. It must be the most photographed Spotshank in the whole world. Personally, I have lots of fantastic photos, fantastic for me that is. I have done some digiscoping, but often it is not easy to get far enought away from the bird to make it work. Generally, I have found my Panasonic Lumix FZ5 on 12x zoom perfectly adequate.
Here is Kevin Crisp getting a close-up of the Spotshank

Dave Savage and myself delighting in the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn
26.02.08 - Photo for the Portsmouth News