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* * * DAILY WILDLIFE BLOG - NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012 * * *
in reverse chronological order



I attended this morning's conservation session on the meadow, mainly to take photos of the workers. The main job was to make use of a pile of tree chippings, that had been left on the edge of Palmer's Road Car Park by Council workers, to lay down on muddy paths on the north meadow and in Palmer's Road Copse.

Mystery waterweed

I managed to get a sample of the dark green filamentous waterweed from the river. The plants are attached to stones on the bed of the river and their long stems have branches with numerous very thin grass-like filaments.

Here is a shot of it in the river

It reminded me of Eel Grass, though I realise that is a marine plant. However, I gather from a web search that there are freshwater Eel Grasses, used in aquaria, which can become a pest when they escape into natural waterways. Can anyone help?

Here is another photo of the weed taken at home with a plant still attached to a stone.

Hemlock Water-dropwort

Following my discovery of Hemlock Water-dropwort flowering in the Lumley pool yesterday, I found several more plants in full flower further north up the Lumley Stream. The plants looked quite fresh, so I guess this is a second flowering rather than left overs from earlier flowerings.


15:45 - 16:15 - Tide falling from high water at 11:45. Weather overcast and very dull with a November chill in the air.

Spotted Redshanks

Stream was still quite full of water, but the Spotted Redshank was already present along with the regular Lapwing. A second (unringed) Spotted Redshank arrived in the stream at 15:00 and was immediately confronted by the 'resident' bird and they both flew off. I saw the resident Spotted Redshank later on the shore around the point, but there was no sign of the second bird.

For all the current news and photos go to . . . Spotted Redshank 2012-13

Swan Attack

I met Roy Ewing of the Nore Barn Woods Conservation group who gave me some more information about the dog attack on Mute Swans at Nore Barn on Nov 7. The attack was witnessed by HBC workers who were present for the seawall construction and one of them helped to fend off the dog, but not before it had killed one swan and injured another. Roy has put a photo on their notice board of a the Council worker and a member of the RSPCA removing the injured swan for treatment.


Martin Jenner e-mailed to say the insects feeding on Ivy flowers on the web site (Nov 8 and Nov 6) which I labelled as bumblebees were in fact hoverflies. He said they look like Eristalis tenax (a bee mimic), though it is difficult to tell from the angle. Martin says, if you look closely you will see it has only one pair of wings, whereas Hymenoptera which include bees have two pairs. Its flight period is March to November, so seeing it now is not unexpected.

The fact that the Eristalis hoverfly is a bee mimic makes me feel not so bad over the misidentification, though I really should have recognised it as I also had one pointed out to me on Nov 3 by Ralph Hollins and Tony Davis. I trust I shall not make the same mistake again (though don't hold your breath!).



14:00 - 15:00 - About 3 hours after high water. The tide was still well in when I arrived, though the stream was emptying. The weather was fine with bright sunshine, but too bright for decent photography. John Hilton from Winchester was already in place with his camera on the saltmarshes. Ron from Emsworth was on the beach with his brand new scope.

The stream

The first birds in the stream were a Lapwing and a Black-tailed Godwit, both regulars. The Spotted Redshank followed fairly soon after, but there was no Greenshank and no second Spotted Redshank. The Spotshank and the Godwit fed together much as the Spotted Redshank and the Greenshank usually do and I got a nice photo of them together.

About 200 Brent Geese were feeding on the western mudflats along with Wigeon and Teal. I also saw about 50 Black-tailed Godwits, but they were too far away to go through for colour-rings.

Seawall reconstruction

I met Roy Ewing who told me the good news that phase one of the construction work on the shoreline has been completed on time and within budget. However, the second phase involving the placement of concrete blocks will be more expensive and will take time to complete. In the mean time, the group hope the new earthworks will survive the winter storms.

Mute Swans attacked

Roy also told me some nasty news that two Mute Swans had been savaged by dogs at Nore Barn. One swan was killed and the other badly injured. The RSPCA removed both animals. This is not entirely surprising as swans cannot move quickly to avoid an attack like the small ducks and waders, but it is disturbing that some owners have so little control over their animals.




The dark green waterweed is far more extensive in the River Ems than I first realised. It is very dense in front of the gasholder as well as below the S-bend. I previously referred to it (Nov 11) as Canadian Waterweed (Elodea canadensis), though the long thin, almost grass-like, leaves of the plant are quite different from that described in the guides. I need to get some out to look at it more closely. Does anyone know what it is?

Black Poplars

The two Black Poplars can now be seen very clearly from the main seat overlooking the meadow. They have grown to their present height from small saplings when they were planted in November 2004. The one on the left was blown over in 2008 and had to be lopped and hauled back upright, but it does not seem to have suffered as it is not far behind the height of the original unlopped tree.

Hemlock Water-dropwort

I was surprised to see several plants of what I assume is Hemlock Water-dropwort in full flower in the open area of the Lumley Stream (called the Lumley Pool) just north of the Lumley Path footbridge. According to the books its flowering period is May-Aug.


Great Black-backed Gull

What looks very much like a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull was on Peter Pond. I wonder if it was one of the two from the nest on Slipper Millpond?

Common Gulls

One adult Herring Gull and about 6 Common Gulls were on Slipper Millpond along with the usual 100 or Black-headed Gulls.

Here are two of the Common Gulls on the south raft with a few Black-headed Gulls

Tufted Duck

The first Tufted Duck (male) of the year was on the town millpond this morning. They are a bit later than usual arriving on the millpond. Last year we had the first pair on Oct 28.

Mallard family

Stephanie Bennett of Bath Road, Emsworth provided interesting observations about the development of the Mallard ducklings which were born in August on Emsworth Millpond. There were originally 10, but 9 survived. They are all grown up now, but they still spent a lot of time together. They have learnt to fly recently, but they don't venture far so can easily spotted as a distinct group.

I too have been watching this Mallard family and mum has certainly done a sterling job keeping them out of harm's way. Mallard ducklings are so vulnerable and often get taken or die in the early stages of life.


14:00 15:00 - From the end of Farm Lane I walked along a very muddy path to the coast. I came back by an easier route along the dry track through the old Chichester Harbour Conservancy conservation area. It is worth knowing about this alternative route when conditions are muddy. There is a well used route through the hedge at the start of the path and another casual path up to the seawall at the end.

I caught the tide just right for the birds with about 4 hours after high water. The tide was falling fast and the mudflats emerging. I was greeted by masses of birds in the bay with hundreds of Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal. I saw just one pair of Pintail in the channel. There were some spectacular flights of Dunlin.

Des Barker and Pam, his sister in law, were on the seawall when I arrived, looking for Avocets, but they had not seen any. However, as we were talking, 14 Avocets flew into the bay. They did not stay long and flew further out to feed on the edge of the main channel. Much too far for a photo. I think the maximum so far this winter for Nutbourne is 19 or 20.

The fresh water stream that enters the bay is very similar to the one at Nore Barn and attracts similar range of birds. Today, the colour-ringed Spotted Redshank W+GY was feeding in the stream with the regular colour-ringed Greenshank GY+GY and another un-ringed Greenshank and a Common Redshank for about 30 minutes until the tide fell.

I counted 74 Black-tailed Godwits which included just one colour-ringed bird: W+LW. I thought at first it was the familar WO+LW flag which I have seen several times in Emsworth this winter period. but I could not see the orange ring or the flag. My only previous record of W+LW was by Richard Somerscocks in Emsworth Harbour on 06-Nov-11.

I spotted two Bar-tailed Godwits feeding with the Black-tails which stayed feeding when the Black-tails flew off. These were the first Bar-tailed Godwits I recall having seen at Nutbourne.

I aged 280 Brent Geese and found just 3 juveniles in two families of two and one. My proportion of juveniles to adults for the winter so far stands at 1.66 - not a good breeding season for the Brents.



A Red Admiral was fluttering around in the drizzle this morning. I got the following snap as it came to rest on a tree with its wings closed.


Here are a few snippets from the wildlife summary for the past week from Ralph Hollins. See for the complete version . . .

Little Egret: Ralph thinks the Langstone Pond trees may have been abandoned as a night roost. They probably now head for Thorney Little Deeps east which had a roost of 75 birds on Oct 28.

Mute Swan: Ralph saw two flying past Langstone Pond on Nov 5 though he suspects some have been flying for a month or more . I have certainly seen Mute Swans flying from Emsworth Millpond into the harbour in the past week.

Red-Breasted Goose: The bird that has been at Farlington Marshes since Oct 25 was still there on Nov 10 and it remains the only one currently in southern England.

Goldeneye: So far November had brought two to the Pagham Lagoon on Nov 3 and five to Langstone Harbour on Nov 7 but we are still waiting for the influx that normally occurs before the end of October.

Avocet: By Nov 2 more than 190 were already in the Exe estuary in Devon and on Nov 3 a party of 20 were seen in Nutbourne Bay (east of Thorney Island) where some have spent the winter in past years.

Waxwing: It could be another good year. BTO Bird Migration Blog reported 2000 in the UK and latest local news is of 8 near Basingstoke on Nov 11

Sweet Violet: Two weeks ago Ralph announced the find in Havant St Faith's churchyard of the first Sweet Violet flower of the new season. This week he discovered that the flowers are attractive to Pigeons and Sparrows for the sugars in them and when few are emerging they tend to get eaten up as soon as they open. Has anyone seen this happening?


At my request, Richard Somerscocks sent me this fine image of two Twite. Richard tells me they were seen on 1 Nov at Burghead, a small fishing village about 7 miles east of Findhorn. The local bird recorder says they are relatively uncommon in Moray and apparently most of the sightings are in the Findhorn area. Although he suspects there may be more among the flocks of Linnets, but they simply don't get looked at.

The Birds in Moray and Nairn web site has a number of Richard's photos. See . . . There are also many sightings of Waxwings on the web site, though Richard has yet to see one. If he does he promises to send us a photo to savour! Maybe, we shall get some down here this year?

The last Twite I saw locally were two on the shore at Langstone near the entrance to the Langbrook Stream on 14 January 2003. I think there were three sighted, but I only saw two. Here is my photo from the time.



Fly fishing

I had an early morning stroll through the meadow where I met a very knowledgeable young lad fly fishing in the river near the north bridge. He said he had seen some good sized Brown Trout and had a few bites, but no catches. He showed me his fly which he had made himself. Maurice Lillie who had done some fly fishing as a youngster came along with his three little dogs. Maurice and the young lad had a fishing chat during which I learned the difference between wet and dry fly fishing. Although the conservation group do not encourage fishing in the river, I certainly see no harm in a single enthusiastic lad indulging in his hobby. Good to see.

Canadian Waterweed

As we were walking along the main river path south of the S-bend, Maurice and I noted a several lush growths of waterweed in the river. There appeared to be two species, one with long thin dark green leaves stretching out in the current and the other with shorter light green leaves. Maurice thought the former was Canadian Waterweed which he had also seen growing on the River Itchen.

Canadian Waterweed (Elodea canadensis) is native to North and South America and was first recorded in Britain in 1842, subsequently spreading rapidly. It can form dense stands in ponds and water courses and relies entirely on vegetative reproduction for its spread. Although it is now regarded as a naturalised aquatic plant, it causes problems by competing for nutrients and outgrowing many native species. There are some large areas of this weed in the River Ems, particularly near the Bulrushes.

The Hants Flora says it has now been supplanted in some places by the very similar Nuttall's Waterweed (Elodea nuttallii) which is another introduced species. The description of this plant would seem to fit the dark green plants in the river better than Canadian Waterweed. I shall need to fish some out to have a close look at them.

Andy Powling discovered some Canadian Waterweed beneath the south bridge during his survey of the River Ems on Brook Meadow on 13 June 2005.


11:15 - 12:15 - Tide falling from high water at 08:38. The stream was still full of tidal water when I arrived, but the 'resident' Spotted Redshank was already present. It was joined later by the regular Lapwing, the Greenshank and 4 Black-tailed Godwits. But there was no sign of the second Spotted Redshank. The sunshine created some great reflections in the water.

For all the Spotted Redshank news go to the special web page at . . . Spotted Redshank

I was pleased to meet up with David Holloway at Nore Barn. David had previously e-mailed me about the best time to see the Spotted Redshank in the stream. He will soon be moving to Emsworth to live in one of the deck houses near Emsworth Marina and we look forward to his contributions to local bird sightings.

I counted 180 Brent Geese on the western mudflats, but no juveniles. The Black-tailed Godwits were relatively few in number today (c50) and scattered around the mudflats, so there was no real opportunity to look for colour-rings.

Several Golden Samphire flowers were still open on the seawall south of the woods.


As a supplement to yesterday's news, Richard Somerscocks says they never get Spotted Redshank up in Scotland, but make up for this with masses of Common Redshank.

Here is Richard's shot of a roosting flock of Common Redshank in Findhorn bay.



Winter Blackcap

We had our first 'winter' Blackcap in the garden today. A female with her distinctive brown cap was first seen feeding in the Buddleja bush. Then she dropped down to have a bathe in the plastic tray which passes for a bird bath.

Blackcaps which winter in this country are generally considered to be a different population from the summer migrants from the Mediterranean. Ringing studies have established that Blackcaps regularly migrate from The Continent to spend the winter in this country, often visiting gardens.

Wintering Blackcaps are not uncommon in my garden; I have recorded them in most of the 15 years I have been in my present house in Bridge Road, both males and females. In fact, this year, for the first time I had a pair visiting the garden in June which must have been summer migrants. Today's sighting takes to 14 the number of species recorded in my garden this week, which is a very good tally.


Water Vole

Maurice Lillie saw a Water Vole at 08.55 north of north bridge yesterday (Nov 9). About 45 metres north of the north bridge a water vole emerged from long grass. It ran seemingly very determined, southwards about 50cms above water level for about 25metres in a random route, exposed to view as there is little cover there now. En route it stopped once for about half a minute, out of sight, then resumed its journey to a concealed behind overhanging ivy. Throughout it seemed to be unaware or certainly unconcerned by my presence or that of my three dogs.


Maurice Lillie asks if anyone else seen the female pheasant that seems to be lurking in the north meadow? He has seen it four times. The answer is Yes. Debbie Robinson reported this Pheasant to me on Nov 6.

Ash saplings

Maurice counted 55 Ash saplings along the north path beside the river. He also noticed the huge quantity of seeds on the large Ash tree in the north west corner, which must account for so many saplings in that area. Maurice wonders if we should gather these and keep them for the time when die back destroys the stock of trees.


Roadside Fungi

Keith Wileman sent me the following photo of a big clump of fungi growing on the grass verge between New Brighton Road and Lewis Road opposite the end of Conigar Road. He thinks they might be Honey Fungus again, like those in Danbury Court. Quite possible I would think.


Janet Hider walked today from Nutbourne to Prinsted, about three hours after high tide. She counted 15 Avocets on the shore in Nutbourne Bay and got the following photo. Janet also noted lots of Brent Geese, Wigeon and Dunlin. Curlew, Oystercatchers, Little Egrets and Turnstone plus a few Godwits were at Prinsted. Janet's verdict: A brilliant day for birdwatching!

Water Rail migrants

BTO reports that ring recoveries show that the British and Irish Water Rail population is augmented in the winter by birds from Fennoscandia and central Europe, coming to take advantage of the generally milder weather over here. Although freezing weather conditions in some winters generally offer the best opportunities to see Water Rails, the arrival of these autumn migrants, and the subsequent increase in 'sharming' (squealing calls), contributes to a sharp rise in the Water Rail reporting rate at this time of the year see . . .


Richard Somerscocks provided the following news up date from his new home in Findhorn in Northern Scotland

"Black-tailed Godwits are still present in Findhorn Bay. I counted 6 today and that included WN+OY flag which has now been with us for about 2 weeks.

It has been fairly windy here for the last few days which has made birdwatching more challenging. Quite a lot of ducks are in the bay though at the moment, including both Red-breasted Mergansers and Goosanders. These birds, particularly the females, can look fairly similar at a distance but when seen close up the differences become apparent. The Mergansers tend to favour the more open sea, whereas the Goosanders stay almost exclusively in the bay. This behaviour was also apparent in the sightings I got when I was at Emsworth. The Mergansers were often seen off Thorney Island and the few sightings I had of Goosanders tended to be on Great Deep.

I notice that you are getting Pintails at Emsworth and we also have around 50 in Findhorn Bay at the moment.

Another bird I saw yesterday were a number of Sanderlings. They tend to favour long sandy beaches where they can rush around endlessly feeding by the water's edge. It does make photographing them difficult! I cannot recall seeing them at Emsworth but I expect somewhere like the Witterings may have some. The ones I saw were on the beach at Lossiemouth which is just along the coast.

Finally, on the shore I have also seen a few Snow Bunting here at Findhorn.



09:45 - 10:45 - Tide falling from high water at 06:42, so about 3 hours after. The weather was cloudy and dull with a brisk and very chilly westerly wind. I was pleased to meet up with Richard Hallett who was making his first visit to Emsworth of this winter season.

The stream

Richard and I were in luck as we both had excellent views of the two Spotted Redshanks in the lower stream. We were able to see the difference in leg colours between the two birds, with the 'resident' bird having paler red legs than the 'visitor'. There was a little bit of chasing by the resident bird, but not serious enough to drive the visitor away. There was a nice collection of other species in the lower stream, including 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Lapwing, 2 Teal and 6 Wigeon. The Greenshank was there when I first arrived but it moved away.

Malcolm Phillips was at Nore Barn a little later and got this nice image of the Lapwing in the stream.

The mudflats

I counted 47 Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the mudflats at Nore Barn, including two colour-ringed birds, both regulars this season: ROL+RLR and WO+LW flag. I also spotted two Knot feeding among the godwits, the first in Emsworth this autumn. I counted 146 Brent Geese on the western mudflats including 3 juveniles. The juveniles were well spread out suggesting they were in three separate families.

Richard's news

After I left Richard had a distant but clear view of a Knot on the mudflats and a very close view of a very tame Greenshank in the small stream at the top of Nore Barn Creek. It could be the one that usually feeds with the Spotted Redshank in Nore Barn Stream, though there are at least two Greenshank in this area. Richard was also pleased to get close views of a Grey Plover and a tame Curlew all of which made him wonder what is it about the Emsworth birds that makes them so approachable! I suppose it must be that Emsworth is such a friendly place!


Sparrowhawk in garden

Patrick Murphy had two visits from male Sparrowhawk this morning. Patrick says, "The first caught me unawares when it landed on a feeder stand about 5 ft the other side of the window. Unfortunately, my camera was in its case and by the time I had it ready the bird flew off. It returned about 10 minutes later and this time camera was at the ready. As you can see the bird landed in our apple tree and stayed only briefly as all the feeding birds had disappeared. The hawk was unlucky on both occasions."

Patrick's excellent photo shows the barred rufous underparts of the male Sparrowhawk very well. As well as being much larger than the male, the female Sparrowhawk has darker and finely barred underparts and also has a pale supercilium which the male bird does not have.

Garden caterpillar - Buff Ermine

Regarding the photo of the caterpillar that I took in my garden yesterday, Ralph Hollins reminded me that I had a similar caterpillar back in September which seemed likely to be a Buff Ermine moth and he believes the current one is the same species. Ralph referred me to a photo of a caterpillar on the ukleps website in which the white stripe down the back matches my photo.

Here is the one I took yesterday



Grey Squirrels

For the second day running I had a surprise when I got down this morning and looked out of the back window. Two Grey Squirrels were frolicking around on the grass in the back garden. They took it in turns to explore the bird table which was almost bare of any food and the hanging feeders. We have had a regular Grey Squirrel for a few weeks, but never before have two been seen in the garden.

The BTO have reported an increase in Grey Squirrels in gardens with the reporting rate for this autumn being well up on those of the previous 3 years. This sharp increase in garden presence presumably indicates a lack of natural food, ie nuts, in the environment. See . . .


I could only see one late insecxt feeding on the Ivy flowers in the garden, though most of the flowers do appear to have finished. This looks like Bombus pascuorum which is the latest Bumblebee to be found feeding in late autumn.

CORRECTION - Martin Jenner e-mailed to say the insect feeding on Ivy flowers is in fact a hoverflly. He said they look like Eristalis tenax (a bee mimic), though it is difficult to tell from the angle. Martin says, if you look closely you will see it has only one pair of wings, whereas Hymenoptera which include bees have two pairs. Here is one for example.


We have had a very hairy caterpillar on the outside wall of our house for the past few days. It crawls around very slowly, maybe looking for somewhere to hibernate? My tentative identification is Garden Tiger Moth ie 'Woolly Bear.



On my way to the marina, I met Nick Medina who was inspecting the growth of Common Reeds in the north-east corner of Slipper Millpond. He said they needed to be contained from spreading into the main pond and had the idea of digging out a deep channel to restrict their growth. But he emphasised there was no intention of removing or damaging what is a very fine wildlife habitat.

Old wall

Nick also pointed out a fine old garden wall, backing onto the reedbed, which had recently been cleared of bramble. He said there were discussions about whether to plant bushes in front of the wall, but I argued strongly that the wall itself was such a fine wildlife habitat that it should be left as it is and not covered. Currently, it has a good growth of Pellitory-of-the-wall and some Hartstongue Fern, with the possibility of more fern growth in the future. Also, the warmth of the wall facing south would be a great attraction to insects, as would the cracks in the brickwork.

Common Darter

As if to prove my point, as we were talking, a male Common Darter flew in and perched on the wall, basking in the warm sunshine. This was the first Common Darter I had seen since Oct 16, though I have had a couple reported more recently. Brooks and Lewington say that their flight season in mild autumns has been known to last through until November or, in rare instances, December.




12:00 - Viewing from the marina seawall. The tide was well out, though rising to high water at 17:47.

Black-tailed Godwits

I counted a total of 142 Black-tailed Godwits on the mudflats, which was the largest count in Emsworth this autumn. Most of them were snoozing on one leg, so I was only able to check a few of them for colour-rings. I found two colour-ringed birds, both regulars in Emsworth this autumn.

G+WR - This was the 9th sighting this season.

WO+LW flag - This was the 5th sighting this season.

Brent Geese

I counted 186 Brent Geese in the main channel with no juveniles. That brings my current juvenile to adult proportion down to 2.19% which clearly suggests a very poor breeding season for the Brents.


Martin Gillingham reported on HOS News seeing an astonishing 126 Red-breasted Mergansers in Langstone Harbour on Nov 7 along with what are probably the first 5 Goldeneye of the winter.


The Forestry Commission have a very useful web page giving details of this potentially catastrophic disease caused by a fungus Chalara fraxinea which could kill most of our Ash trees. The fungus blocks the channels that carries water up the trunk of trees and starves them of water. Ash is our 3rd most numerous tree after Oak and Birch.

This link illustrates the main symptoms and also has a very good video demonstrating the main features of the disease. There is also a map showing the present extent of the disease. Most cases are in East Anglia, but there is also a cluster in Kent and scattered sites around the country. There is also information about reporting the disease. However, the prospects of stopping the disease seem remote as it is carried by airborne fungus spores. The best chance seems to be by discovering how 10% of trees in Denmark have resisted the disease.

See .. . .



Birds return

After several weeks with very few birds in the garden, the cold weather has finally prompted a return. Over the past two weeks I have recorded 15 species. Most are regular daily visitors - Goldfinches (up to 10), Woodpigeons (up to 6), Chaffinch (up to 3), Greenfinch (up to 4), Collared Dove (up to 4). Others are occasional, not daily, like Blackbird, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Robin. I have also had brief visits from Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit (about 20 came through one day), Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) and Starling (now a great rarity). The Grey Squirrel is now a regular visitor to the garden for the first time in 15 years. It comes and goes frequently during the day.


When I came down for the first time this morning, three Goldcrests were flitting around the shrubs outside the back window. They were constantly on the move and did not stay long, but I grabbed my camera nd managed to get a few snaps through the window. This was the best I could get.

Goldcrests are very rare in my garden, usually not more than one or two sightings each year. The last one was in December 2011 and before that February 2009. Interesting to hear that Tony Wootton also had Goldcrests on Brook Meadow today. Not the same ones surely?

Goldcrest is ranked 25th in the BTO garden bird list for this quarter of the year in the south-eastern area, having been reported in about 7% of gardens.


Brook Meadow

Tony Wootton had a lovely walk around Brook Meadow this morning and saw Great Spotted Woodpecker and heard Green Woodpecker. Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were also about. Tony also saw two Goldcrests on the causeway and a Treecreeper in the willows next to the sluice gate. The Blackbird in the photo was bathing on the bend north of north bridge. , the GCs where on the path from the seat to the Lumley gate, and the TC was in the willows next to sluice gate.

Emsworth Harbour

Later, Tony had a look at the harbour. In the stream to the east of the Emsworth Sailing Club, Tony found a Greenshank and a Little Egret feeding. He got some photos of the Little Egret, one clearly showing a shrimp in its beak.

One of Tony's photos also showed the Little Egret seemingly 'spurting' (like we have often seen in Black-tailed Godwits and others), though he thinks it was just the water running back out of the bird's open beak.

Tony also went over to Nore Barn for the Spotted Redshank, but did not see it. He blamed the noise from the dumpers trucks going back and forth in rebuilding the seawall, but in my experience it would take much more than a few trucks to disturb our Spotshank.



12:45 - 13:45 - Tide rising to high water in about 2-3 hours at 15:30. Conditions were very good with hazy sunshine and just a light wind. The tide was rising fast and gradually filling the stream.

Two Spotted Redshanks

Two people were on the beach when I arrived, Graham Petrie from Bedhampton who I had not met before, and Ron from Emsworth who I met here last week. They were both admiring the Spotted Redshank and the Greenshank, which were showing very nicely in the stream area. They were pleased when I pointed out a second Spotted Redshank a little further out in the harbour; this was the one with the darker legs. The second Spotted Redshank did not join the other two shanks in the stream.

Other birds

The first Lapwing of the autumn was on the bank of the stream, this is probably the regular bird that feeds in this area each winter. What a cracking bird this is.

The Black-tailed Godwits were rather flighty today and I did not have the time to catch up with them. There were the usual Brent Geese and Wigeon on the water, along with just two Teal. I think the ducks should build up in numbers as winter kicks in.

Another first for this winter season were four Pintail (two males and two females) that I spotted with my scope in the main Emsworth Channel in the eastern harbour. Again, I expect numbers of these to build up as winter progresses.


There were plenty of insects feeding on the mass of flowers of the large Ivy hedge at the end of the coastal path to Nore Barn. What a fine nectar source this hedge is. In addition to the Drone-flies (Eristalis pertinax) that I saw here on Nov 3, there were also several flies (e.g. Bluebottles), Common wasps and some Bumblebees, which looked like Bombus pascuorum which I have previously seen this autumn. The one in this photo is covered in pollen from the flowers.

CORRECTION - Martin Jenner e-mailed to say the insects feeding on Ivy flowers which I labelled as bumblebees are in fact hoverflies. He said they look like Eristalis tenax (a bee mimic), though it is difficult to tell from the angle. Martin says, if you look closely you will see it has only one pair of wings, whereas Hymenoptera which include bees have two pairs.



Water Vole

Maurice Lillie was surprised and delighted to see a Water Vole this morning at 08:40 located 25 metres north of north bridge on west bank. This was our 202nd sighting on Brook Meadow this year. Maurice said the animal sped southwards along the almost bare river bank for about 2metres, hid behind ivy then emerged into shadowy sunlight. It sat motionless for about two minutes then ran behind an ivy growth appearing seconds later in the water, swam behind overhanging ivy in and out of view.

Maurice did not manage to get a good photo of the Water Vole, but he did turn his camera to capture the view from the north bridge looking south. What a beautiful autumn morning on Brook Meadow.

Cormorants raft

The local Cormorants have a nice new raft to perch on, and hang their wings out to dry, on the town millpond, inadvertently provided, I suspect, by one of the Emsworth sailing clubs.

Honey Fungus on verge

Keith Wileman sent me a couple of photos of fungi growing on the grass verge opposite no.1 Danbury Court. They look very much like those he found in December last year (06.12.11) which were identified as Honey Fungus. They are growing near a tree which is not good news for the tree, I suspect.

Nuthatch in Bedhampton garden

Graham Petrie, whom I met for the first time at Nore Barn this morning, has had a good selection of wildlife in his Bedhampton garden, including Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Slow-worm, lizards, newts in the pond, along with dragonflies, damselflies and lots of butterflies. Graham sent me this photo of a Nuthatch on a bird feeder. Now, that is what I call a really good feeding station for birds!

Grey Squirrel feast

Tony Wootton got this image of a Grey squirrel having a sloe feast at Pulborough today. So that's what they really like!


Pheasant on Brook Meadow

Debbie Robinson saw a hen pheasant in Brook Meadow a couple of weeks ago (Mon 22 or Tues 23 October). She (the Pheasant that is) was walking nonchalantly through the nettles near the sacrificial area only a few feet away. Debbie thinks she'd been hiding out behind the sacrificial area for a few days, because her dog, Rosie, galloped into that boggy tree-y area over the weekend - very much on a hunting mission. Pheasants are not often seen on Brook Meadow, but there are a few sightings each year. Debbie's was the second this year.

The Havant Water Vole

Ralph Hollins provided the following information about the Water Vole seen on Oct 27 munching Water Cress in broad daylight in the central Havant pond beside the main road into Havant from the A27 (opposite the turning into Solent Road where the Havant TESCO is sited)

Ralph says, "This was very surprising but the description did not fit that of a Brown Rat, the only species likely to be confused with Water Vole, so I searched the Internet for evidence that Water Voles do wander away from the places where they are normally seen and found it in a BBC article at

This confirms that they do occasionally travel long distances. A study of small isolated groups of these Voles in Scotland showed that younger animals which, for whatever reason, feel the need to leave their family and its limited territorial area of few hundred square metres, would wander several kilometres before settling down in a new territory - the longest recorded journey in this limited study was one of 15 kilometres. This study shows that occasional sightings of Water Voles in places where there is no known established colony of them are probably of individual animals engaged in these youthful wanderings and , although not stated in the summary published on the BBC website, the autumn seems the most likely time for such journeys to take place (when young born earlier that year have grown sufficiently to travel and are most likely to feel the urge to do so before they are stuck at home for the winter).

The pond where this sighting was made is a likely place for a Vole to pause in its travels after coming up the Langbrook Stream and, after passing under the A27, taking a right turn off the narrowing main stream north of the 'Water Wheel' into the less polluted water of the minor stream which flows out from the Homewell Spring near St Faith's Church. After coming to a dead end there the Vole might well have turned back and decided to stock up on food while wondering where to go next."



I had a pleasant couple of hours this morning wandering through the northern areas of Stansted Forest near Forestside. The sun was warm, but there was a chilling north wind. The paths were extremely muddy. The autumn colours of the forest were most beautiful.

Norway Spruce cones

I found a good quantity of long cigar-shaped brown cones on the ground along the path going west from the Forestside Road towards Rowlands Castle. They are from Norway Spruce which is the familiar Christmas tree, though not so familiar these days with many new varieties being sold.

Black Bryony

I found several growths of Black Bryony hanging from the hedgerows with red, green, orange and yellow berries. The berries are poisonous. I have often wondered why this plant was called Black Bryony. In fact, it gets its name not from its fruits but from the colour of its fleshy underground roots.

Wasps on Ivy flowers

I looked carefully at the Ivy flowers along the paths, but found only what I think were Common Wasps feeding on them. There was no sign of any bees or hover flies.

Wild flowers

I found several plants of Wavy Bitter-cress in flower (with 6 stamens) along the very wet path going east from the Forestside road. But more prominent was an abundant growth of Water-pepper with what seemed to be fresh flower buds, though I could not see any open.

Sweet Chestnuts

I could not see many Sweet Chestnuts on the ground and what there were small and not ripe. This contrasts with the Hollybank Woods where, according to Andy Brook, there has been an excellent crop.

Medlar fruits

The Medlar tree just inside the gate to the Stansted arboretum from the walled garden has lots of fruit. The medlars come away from the tree very easily, though I gather they cannot be eaten raw until 'bletted' ie allowed to become over ripe to the point at which the flesh softens and starts to rot, but before the outer skin shows signs of decay. If the fruit is left on the tree the frost will start the bletting process.


12:15 - 13:00 - About 2-3 hours before high water.

Two Spotted Redshanks

Two Spotted Redshanks were already feeding in the stream when I arrived along with a Greenshank, one with darker legs than the other. Two other birdwatchers, Ann and Sylvia, were also present and were particularly excited to see the two Spotted Redshanks in the stream. I tend to get a bit blasé, but it really is quite exceptional to get such a good close view of two Spotted Redshanks.

The chase

Ann, Sylvia and I then watched the 'resident' Spotted Redshank chase the visiting, darker legged, Spotted Redshank along the stream.

They had a mini confrontation, beak to beak, before the visitor flew off to the saltmarshes not to be seen again.

The chase was not what I would call aggressive, but the resident bird seemed determined to defend its feeding territory. The resident Spotted Redshank then returned to feeding in the stream with its 'friend' the Greenshank which had carried on feeding while all this was happening.

Spotted Redshank feeding

The stream was filling up with the tide and I was interested to observe and take photos of the Spotted Redshank feeding. The feeding behaviour was active and fairly vigorous with the bird frequently digging its head deep into the bed of the stream searching for food.

For more Spotted Redshank news and photos go to . . . Spotted Redshank

With one, two and possibly three Spotted Redshanks in Emsworth, we still have some way to go to catch up with the 14 that were present on the Lymington shore on Oct 28.


Tony Wootton was at Nore Barn this afternoon and got this excellent image of a Long-tailed Tit.

On Sat 3rd Nov Dave Oliver saw a Short-eared Owl at Chidham, Bosham side. It is some years since hen last saw one and presumes they are moving through.


Drone Fly

Many thanks to Ralph Hollins and Tony Davis for pointing out that the hoverfly I photographed on Nov 3 on Ivy flowers at Nore Barn is in the genus Eristalis, and not, as I tentatively suggested, Syrphus ribesii.

Tony thinks it could be Eristalis pertinax but could not be sure from the photo. The genus Eristalis is also known as Drone-fly from its remarkable resemblance to a Honey bee drone. Eristalis pertinax is called Tapered Drone Fly from the more tapering abdomen in the male, but the species are very similar. Flight period: March to November, with peaks in May and August. It visits a wide range of flowers, very often in company with the honey bees it mimics.

See . . .



10:00 - 11:30 - I walked from the Emsworth Sailing Club along Western Parade to Nore Barn basically following the rising tide. High water was due at 13:30.

Brent Geese

Brent Geese were scattered around the western mudflats. I counted a total of 172, but could only find one juvenile. This is a regular in Emsworth, but there was no sign of the other families with two juveniles that I have seen here. My current proportion of juveniles is 3.00%. About 200 Dunlin were lining the edges of the main channel.

Black-tailed Godwits

10:30 - A small flock of 12 Black-tailed Godwits were in the lower stream where it merges into the main harbour. Over the next 30 minutes small groups of Godwits flew in from the east to swell the numbers at Nore Barn to 56. There were no colour-rings that I could see.

Spotted Redshanks

Spotted Redshank and Greenshank were already in the stream when I arrived at Nore Barn at 10:30 and remained there until I left about an hour later at 11:30. They were feeding close together for a while. Then the Spotted Redshank moved up the stream to feed near to upper bend, close to where I was standing to the west. I had not seen it feeding this far up the stream this autumn.

The Spotted Redshank was constantly digging deep in the stream and in one of my photos I discovered that it appeared to be spurting out water from its bill at the end of a feeding episode.

I have previously seen this behaviour mostly in Black-tailed Godwits, but it appears to be also not uncommon in Spotted Redshank and in Common Redshank. The experts are currently puzzling over this behaviour which, very surprisingly, has not been previously recorded. See the special page on spurting . . Spurting behaviour

While I was going through the godwits for colour-rings, I came across a second Spotted Redshank. It was not ringed and had darker legs than the bird in the stream, so this was probably the second Spotshank that I saw earlier in the week. I was hoping it might join the other Spotshank in the stream, but it remained with the godwits and flew off with them when the tide pushed in.

Insects on Ivy

There is a magnificent hedge of Ivy at the far western end of the path to Nore Barn, just before the end of Warblington Road. The flowers were attracting a number of insects.

Many thanks to Ralph Hollins and Tony Davis for pointing out that the hoverfly is in the genus Eristalis. Tony thinks it could be Eristalis pertinax but could not be sure from the photo. The genus Eristalis is also known as Drone-fly from its remarkable resemblance to a Honey bee drone. Eristalis pertinax is called Tapered Drone Fly from the more tapering abdomen in the male, but the species are very similar. Flight period: March to November, with peaks in May and August. It visits a wide range of flowers, very often in company with the honey bees it mimics.

See . . .


Malcolm Phillips sat down at Langstone and watched the tide come in. There was lots of bird activity, including Lapwings in flight.

Colin Vanner was at Farlington Marshes and captured this Red-breasted Goose on the marshes with a flock of Canada Geese. This bird was first seen on Farlington by Bob Chapman on 25 October.

Caroline French reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group inwhich they saw a Swallow and 20 Avocets. See the full report at . . . Saturday walks - reports 2012



10:00 - Tide rising to high water at about 13:00. The weather was nasty, with a cold westerly wind blowing constant showers of rain across the harbour. I sheltered for a while at the Emsworth Sailing Club where I was entertained by a mixed group of birds feeding amongst the seaweed to the west of the building, including Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Turnstone and Starlings.

There were plenty of Brent Geese and a small flock Black-tailed Godwits on the rapidly receding mudflats, but I did not have the chance to go through them for colour-rings. I struggled along to Nore Barn where the stream looked completely empty. That was when I gave up. Enough is enough!


Agrocybe cylindracea

What looks very much like Agrocybe cylindracea is growing on a tree stump beneath the eastern approach to the south bridge.

I have seen it growing in this area in previous years. However, this fungus is nowhere near as prolific as it was in the years 2002-2005 when I regularly discovered numerous caps growing on the Crack Willow stumps. I recall picking some for frying and they were very good!

Flowering Plants

I made a start on my flowering plants list for November today in the local area. I had a look around the new Emsworth Railway Station wayside, Bridge Road Wayside and Brook Meadow and found 41 in flower, including grasses showing fresh spikelets.


Peter Milinets-Raby had a few late flying insects in his Havant back garden during the bright sunny spells between the showers. They included a Red Admiral butterfly and a female Common Darter dragonfly. They were very lethargic in the cold and obviously warming themselves up in the sun. This enabled Peter to get some incredibly close photos, like the following one of the head of the Common Darter.

Both these species are not unusual at this time of the year, in fact, Red Admirals are now acknowledged as 'an-all-year-round' butterflies.

There was no sign of the Black Redstart which Peter had in the garden yesterday (see the photo for Nov 1), though he did have 15 Blackbirds in the garden, which was very unusual (2 to 3 is the norm). They were probably wintering migrants from the Continent.



09:30 - 10:30 - About 3 hours to high water at 12:30. Heavy showers with strong westerly wind made birdwatching a bit uncomfortable. However, the scene was idyllic with a good flock of Black-tailed Godwits and the calls of Brent Geese wafting over the mudflats.

The stream was still running fast when I arrived with the Greenshank feeding. The Spotted Redshank did not arrive until about 10:00. It remained on the shore at the point, snoozing and preening. It finally walked round the shore to the stream and by 10:15 it was feeding with the Greenshank.

By 09:45 most of the Black-tailed Godwits had moved into the Nore Barn Creek, where I counted 82. I checked them for colour-rings, but only found one - WO+LW flag - My 4th sighting this autumn. Ringed as a chick in north Iceland by Ruth Croger and Pete Potts on 13th July 2009 at Langhus, SW of Siglufjordur. It has been regular in Emsworth over the past two winters.

The flock of Mute Swans at Nore Barn was up to 19 this morning including the 4 cygnets.


Peter Milinets-Raby had a Black Redstart in his Havant garden this morning at 10:20am for 5 minutes. It hopped around the pond, then flew out on the waste ground at the back of the house where it loitered until 11:30am at least. Peter only had his mobile phone available so the photo is not up to his usual standard, but the bird is clearly identifiable. It looks like a female or 1st year bird.

Black Redstarts breed mainly on the Continent and are seen in the South of England as scarce passage migrants. Peter's bird is probably one that stopped off in his garden for a feed and a rest on its way to winter in Southern Europe. November is their peak passage month. A few Black Redstarts do remain for the winter in our area, so this one may hang around.

Black Redstart is rarely seen in gardens despite being extremely common in towns in many parts of Europe. My last record of one locally was of a male, still in breeding plumage, photographed by Mary Colbourne in her Emsworth garden on 17 November 2010.

For earlier observations go to . . . . October 16-31