RETURN TO . . . Emsworth Wildlife Homepage


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)

Please send wildlife observations and photos to Brian Fellows . . . brianfellows at


for NOVEMBER (16-30), 2012
in reverse chronological order



Magpie in garden

After about 7 months without seeing a Magpie in my garden, one now seems to have taken up residence. I first saw it a few days ago when it was trying to get some fat that I had rubbed into the bark of the cherry tree. This was hard work and it had little success. Now, it has discovered the bird table on which I provide a liberal supply of seed and chopped peanuts. It is a nice smart bird, but appears very nervous and aware of me when I move around behind the window. Most other birds take no notice of my moving. However, I managed to get this photo through the window without disturbing it.

In view of its scarcity in my garden I was surprised to find that Magpie stands at number 10 on the all Britain list of garden birds for this quarter of the year and is even higher at number 6 on lists for the southern areas. About half of participants in the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme report Magpies in the garden, with peaks in winter and the nesting season. There is a low point in September when many birds forage on farmland.

November flower list

I completed my personal list of flowering plants in the month of November today with a Three-cornered Garlic in New Road Westbourne. This takes the final total to 72 species. See the full list at . . . Winter flowering plants

Ralph Hollins has found lots more in the Havant area, probably over 100 in total. See his web summary . . .

Ferns in Westbourne

Maidenhair Spleenwort is still growing very well on the flint wall in New Road Westbourne along with Common Polypody on the high brick wall at the far end of the lane. Both plants have been there for many years.

Nuthatch on Isle of Wight

Responding to yesterday's entry about the Richard Grogan talk about the Island wildlife, Ralph Hollins provided the following extra information:

"Until recently Nuthatches did not occur on the Isle of Wight but there was one in the St Helens area in March 2009 and there has been one in the Binstead area (just west of Ryde) since Jan 2011. I rely on Derek Hale's website for most of my news from the Island and I have just checked his personal sightings which shows that he does see one through the year now." See . . .

Brook Meadow frosty

Maurice Lillie captured this beautiful image of Brook Meadow on a frosty morning, looking north towards the railway line.

Red-breasted Merganser

Derek Mills got this excellent image of a male Red-breasted Merganser struggling with a fish in Thorney Deeps. Help with the type of fish would be most welcome.

and in Findhorn Bay

Meanwhile, Richard Somerscocks also had some splendid Red-breasted Mergansers in the Findhorn bay in Northern Scotland. Richard said there were 13 this morning, most of which were females. There were 5 others just offshore although these were mainly males. He sees the ones in the bay catching fish quite regularly.

Here is a female Red-breasted Merganser with a small flounder .

Richard also gets good views of the males offshore displaying.



I had a Starling in the garden today. They are now very rare visitors to the garden, but they used to be very common. This is clearly shown by the following chart which plots the mean weekly count since 1998.

I also had a Greenfinch feeding on the sunflower hearts. This is another bird that used to be very common, in fact my number one garden bird for many years, but is now only an occasional visitor. Their numbers were badly affected by the disease trichomonosis.

Woodpigeon is a bird which has gone the other way and become far more frequent in the garden than it used to be. Several are now daily visitors to the garden, including this juvenile Woodpigeon which prefers feeding on the bird table to the ground. The juvenile differs from the adult by having dark eyes and no white collar. It differs from the similar Stock Dove by its white wing flash and longer tail which extends well beyond the wing tips at rest.


Ivy hedge

The Ivy hedge near where the coastal path meets the end of Warblington Road still has a good number of open flowers attracting insects.

They seemed to be mainly bluebottle type flies, though I did see one or two Drone Flies and a Common Wasp. The Drone Flies are very easy to photograph as they stay for some time on each flower head whereas the Wasps are constantly restless. There was also a single Garden Spider on its web.

The stream

14:30-15:00 - About 3 hours after high water. Spotted Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit were feeding together in the stream. A flock of 54 Black-tailed Godwits were on the mudflats in Nore Barn Creek, but I did not have my scope with me to check them for colour-rings.


While passing by Peter Pond this morning I spotted a smart Pied Wagtail looking for scraps of food on the grass verge near the seat.


Last night I attended the Hampshire Wildlife Trust talk by Richard Grogan (the Trust's chief conservation officer on the Isle of Wight). Like the previous talk by Chris Cockburn this one was had a bumper audience on what was a chilly night. The talk was excellent with Richard displaying his deep knowledge (and love) of the island's wildlife. Here are a few things I jotted down of interest.

Richard said an astonishing 6,000 Chalkhill Blue butterflies were recorded on Arreton Down.

Four pairs of Nightjar and two pairs of Ravens nested on the new heathland area in Bouldner Forest.

Water Voles are doing well on the island as there are no Mink. Unlike on the mainland there has only been a small decline their population over the past 50 years.

The absence of Deer and Grey Squirrel means woodland growth is much better than on the mainland.

Other absentees on the island included Tawny Owl and Nuthatch.

Richard related the story of how Field Cow-wheat used to be a serious arable weed as the seeds made the flour distasteful and people were employed to pull it up. This plant is far more common on the Isle of Wight than on the mainland. In fact, the Hants Flora describes it as 'extinct', though I know some is well established on Skew Road on the hill above Portchester. Ralph Hollins checks them every year and has a story that they were originally 'introduced' several years ago from the Isle of Wight by someone referred to as 'the Portchester Postman'.

Common Cow-wheat is unlikely to be confused with Field Cow-wheat as it has small deep yellow and white flowers in contrast to the bright pink flower spikes of Field Cow-wheat. I recall coming across some Common Cow-wheat in flower during a walk around Northwood Cemetery in Cowes on July 2 this year. It is fairly common on the Isle of Wight and in the New Forest, but Ralph Hollins is not aware of any in the Havant area.


BTO have just published the preliminary finding for the nesting "success" of 25 species in 2012. The results clearly show what a bad year it has been for nesting birds with most birds performing worse than average. However, many of the species have the potential to bounce back rapidly following a poor breeding season provided conditions improve. However, the extreme conditions in 2012 were due to a shift in the jet stream and it is difficult to predict how its position may be influenced by future climatic warming and the melting of the Arctic icecaps. If wet summers become more frequent, then we may witness long-term changes in the numbers of some bird species. See . . .


Tom Bickerton provides more details about what Peregrines prey on.

"It's difficult to give a definitive answer. The best response would be seasonal species. If we take our birds, they have been taking advantage of the influx of European feral/wood pigeons along the back of Portsdown Hill towards Butser Hill, during mid-October to mid- November. You are now seeing them back within the Harbour, as to what they prefer, well, there's nothing within the harbour which a female doesn't have on her menu, it's more of a question of whether she can be bothered.

As to what species are taken, well both male and female usually take the easier option; both are not averse to bushwhacking a passing wader. As regard my own records, mainly from Cornwall, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Europe, these are species I've recorded as prey items, either seen caught or witnessed eating: Feral/Wood Pigeon, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Sandwich Tern, Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Shelduck, Wigeon, Green Woodpecker, Magpie, Starling, Jackdaw, Crag Martin, House Martin, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Lapwing.

The following are species I've seen hunted but the outcome was either a failure or I just wasn't in a position to see the end result: Curlew, Ringed Plover, Teal, Herring Gull, Dunlin, Redshank, and Turtle Dove, Red Billed Cough, House/Spanish Sparrow, Carrion Crow and Rook.

The following are species' remains found, which I can safely attribute to Peregrine. Golden Plover, Dunlin, and Avocet. So, it's quite a selection of prey items, undoubtedly there's more smaller passerines taken and probably larger species too."



It was a fine morning, with a winter chill in the air, for a walk through this beautiful woodland. The paths were extremely muddy after the rain, but easily negotiable in wellies. I walked the circular path through the western section and then walked round the eastern section, but did not go onto Longcopse Hill.

Conservation work

I had not been to the woods for a couple of months and was surprised to see how much work had been achieved by the conservation group, with large areas of the woodland opened up with tree clearance and coppicing. I also noticed several dead wood hurdles at key entrance points, which were designed to control horse riding in those areas. There was a work session in progress this morning in the area to the west of the central path with Sweet Chestnut trees being coppiced and harvested for posts.

Wildlife observations

I was struck by the almost complete absence of Holly berries. There was very little in the way of bird activity, though I did see two separate Buzzards both flying low through the woodland. The only flowering plant I noticed was Wavy Bitter-cress with its wavy stems and 6 stamens on the flowers.

I had a walk along my favourite mosses path at the far eastern side of the woods near the conifer plantation. The Bank Haircap was looking especially fine. I think the pale spikes are new capsules forming.

I was not looking for fungi, but I did notice what looked like a small Common Earthball nestling among the fallen leaves.


14:00 - About 3 hours after high water. The Spotted Redshank was present in the stream being watched by a photographer with a long lens who was standing far closer than he needed to get good photos. The Spotshank appeared to be unconcerned, though the Greenshank, which was approaching from the point, was I think deterred by the photographer's presence.


Malcolm Phillips got the following rather fine photo of a Nuthatch from the window of his Emsworth flat. Nice one.

Charlie Annalls captured this nice image of an adult Great Black-backed Gull and what is probably one of this year's youngsters near the Ferryboat Inn Hayling Island on Nov 26. The adult was intent on his lunch, which looks like a fish head, and unwilling to share. Charlie wondered whether this could have been the same bird that I have been seeing on Slipper Millpond. I think this is unlikely as the two sites are several miles apart and there would be a number of Great Black-backed Gulls in the local area.



Nore Barn

12:00 - I popped along to Nore Barn about 2 hours after high water. Tide still well in and the stream was full of water and I was not expecting to see the Spotted Redshank or any other birds in the stream. However, the Spotted Redshank was present along with a Common Redshank, both waiting patiently on the saltmarshes to the west of the stream for the tide to fall. But I did not stay.

Slipper Millpond

An adult Great Black-backed Gull was on the centre raft of Slipper Millpond along with 4 Cormorants. This is most likely one of the paiur that nested here this summer. They appear to have taken up residency, though without threatening any of the other birds on the pond. I wonder if they will nest again next year?

Magpie taking fat

After 2 weeks of having absolutely no customers for the fat-filled coconut shell, yesterday, I decided to break it up and smear some of the fat into cracks in the bark of our flowering cherry tree. I recall having done the same a few years ago and this attracted several species of bird. I had a totally unexpected first customer to the new fat display this morning in the form of a Magpie, which spent several minutes leaping up to the tree from the ground to snatch pieces of fat from the bark. Magpies are a fairly scarce visitors to the garden but I have never seen one behaving in this way. Intelligent creatures.

Stinking Iris

I found a Stinking Iris plant on the edge of Lumley Road with clumps of bright orange fruits.


Spotted Redshank W+GY

Barry Collins reported another sighting of the colour-ringed Spotted Redshank W+GY on the Thorney Great Deeps west side on the 18th Nov at 1430.

Avian pox latest

This nasty disease affecting Great Tits and Dunnock appears to be on the increase. This disease causes large tumour-like growths and can result in death. Scientists at the Institute of Zoology, Edward Grey Institute, BTO and RSPB have charted the spread of this disease from southeast England in 2006 into other parts of the country. See the BTO news bulletin . .
You can download an avian pox factsheet from

Godwit news from Pulborough Brooks

Peter Hughes reported that Black-tailed Godwit numbers had been high in the Arun valley over the last few days. He found about 185 this morning on the north brooks, though up to 300 had been reported last week. I assume this increase follows flooding in the valley.

Today, Pete saw the following colour-ringed birds:

L//R+LO - My last personal sighting of L+LO was on 16-Mar-11 at 'Texaco Bay' North Hayling. Nothing last winter.

O//R+LL - Ringed as first summer male on 26-Jun-05 on Thorney Island. There have been numerous sightings over the years in Hayling Island, Emsworth, Pagham Harbour, Pulborough Brooks, Fishbourne and Bosham. The last record I have is actually from Pete at Pulborough Brooks on 10-Nov-09. Nothing over the past two winters.

Y//R+GR - My last record of Y+GR was on 01-Jan-12 at Pulborough Brooks by Ruth Croger. My only personal sighting was on 09-Feb-10 at Fishbourne.

and from the Avon Valley

Kevin Sayer reports on extreme flooding along the Avon Valley. The current levels are as high as he can remember - certainly as high as 2002. The Black-tailed Godwits appear to be moving up and down the valley looking for a suitable feeding site. With water levels varying so much it is no surprise they cannot settle. They have been seen over the last few weeks between the coast at Christchurch right up to Hucklesbrook. Today Kevin found a flock of at least 1,000 at Bisterne - there may be more in other quiet spots.



11:30 - About 2 1/2 hours after high water. The stream was emptying of tidal water and the Spotted Redshank was already in place feeding along with a Black-tailed Godwit and a Black-headed Gull. From the slightly mottled plumage I would guess the godwit was a juvenile. With rain threatening I did not stay to see the tide recede any further.

Please note two new pages . . . Emsworth's Millponds . . . Great Black-backed Gull nesting


Emsworth Harbour

13:00 - Viewing from the millpond seawall. Tide right out. I kept an eye on the low water channels for the Spoonbill that was seen flying towards Emsworth Harbour earlier this week, but there was no sign of it. A Greenshank (unringed) was feeding in the town channel with Common Redshank and Grey Plover. About 40 Coot were in the main channel, the first of the winter gathering. About 50 Lapwing were on the mudflats.

A flock of 104 Black-tailed Godwits were asleep on the edge of the main channel. They included three colour-ringed birds of which I could only see one leg.

WR was most likely G+WR (an Emsworth regular).

OL could have been ROL+RLR (another Emsworth regular). The upper red rings are often hidden in the bird's plumage.

GY was probably G+GY which I first saw on Nov 19.

Great Black-backed Gulls

An adult Great Black-backed Gull was on the pond along with a juvenile, probably birds from the family that nested here in the spring/summer. These birds look as if they have settled here for the winter. I wonder if they will try to nest again next year?


Red Valerian was out on the millpond seawall. Wild Carrot in flower on the Wickor Bank on the west side of Thorney Island. These take my personal November flowering plant list to 69 species. See full list at . . . Winter flowering plants

Spotted Redshank W+GY

This is not to report a sighting, but to say that I have opened a special page on this bird which was ringed on Thorney Island in 2008 and which is often seen on Thorney Deeps or in the stream in Nutbourne Bay. This is where I last saw it on Nov 13.
See . . .
Spotted Redshank colour-ringed W+GY

Short-eared Owl

Tony Wootton was in luck again with a Short-eared Owl about 4pm down at the end of Thornham Lane on the east side of Thorney Island. However, there were no ravens today.

Little Deeps

Malcolm Phillips got some good images when he went down the west side of Thorney Island this afternoon. He saw both male and female Bearded Tits in the reeds on Thorney Little Deeps. Here is a female.

Malcolm also found some Reed Buntings in the reeds. The sexes of Reed Buntings are not easy to discern at this time of the year, but this one could be female or possibly a first winter male or female.

More on Sparrowhawk kills

Tom Bickerton replied to the observations of Ralph Hollins on Sparrowhawk kills in yesterday's blog as follows:

"This is good stuff, I think Ralph's correct and Sparrowhawks do eat the head. If only we could find what's left, whether they puncture the head or crunch it like a cough sweet.

Re: Peregrines, which is probably the bird I've studied the most, their hunting behaviour patterns change depending on what situation they find themselves in. With young, juveniles and bonded pairs, etc. if we take the period when generally they are alone (August - mid-December), they usually strike large prey i.e. curlew, black-tails and the bigger duck. Both male and female however will catch medium prey. If they take similar sized birds, pigeons, and Grey and Golden Plovers, they grasp from below, i.e. the breast area, and then bite the neck.

I have held medium prey items, pigeon, gull and dunlin, and the heads are pulled off, with the spine still there, and it's like a lolly stick, with a head. Now what I don't have is evidence of the bigger prey birds with longer necks such as Curlew, Barwits, Avocets and no duck. This is partly due to the fact that they have taken the prey to an inaccessible area. I've found some remains, and looked for the head, but can't find it. My theory is that it comes off just below the bill and the neck length is picked clean. Whether the head, because bigger, is then devoured as a delicacy, I can't tell. Now, if hunting gets difficult, do they then eat the lot, but difficult to tell locally because there are so many potential prey items for them. Juvenile feeding behaviour for the first part of their independence is different from the adults."


Nore Barn

15:00 - I made a very brief visit to Nore Barn this afternoon. The conditions were awful with a gale force wind blowing into my face. However, I managed to make out the Spotted Redshank in the lower stream which was chasing a Spotted Redshank while I was watching. No sign of anything else of interest.

I got away from the wind by walking along the sheltered path north of the woods. A flock of around 400 corvids were feeding on the large field of stubble north of the path, mostly Carrion Crows and Jackdaws. Also, about 100 Starlings were perched on the overhead telephone wires.

Stonechat on Thorney

Malcolm Phillips had his first walk at Thorney Island for a long time and certainly picked the wrong day with very strong winds blowing in from the west. However, he managed to get this nice shot of a female Stonechat on a sheltered perch in her autumn plumage of warm rufous underparts, plain head and pale throat. The male was probably not too far away.

Sparrowhawk kills

Ralph Hollins commented on yesterday's discussion of what a Sparrowhawk eats of the prey it kills.

"I cannot remember where I read about this but I have for a long time been aware that Sparrowhawks do seem to regard the heads of their prey as being something to eat first before going on to other parts of the body and my memory is that I had read that this was because the brain of the prey had the most protein in it.

If that is true you would think that all raptors would do the same and I was not aware that Peregrines did not eat the heads first (if at all) but that might have something to do with the Peregrines method of killing. A Sparrowhawk normally kills by strangling its prey (squeezing the victim's throat in its claw) whereas a Peregrine kills by striking its victim with a high speed blow to the neck which may often sever the neck leaving the Peregrine with only the body of its prey (the head having fallen away and so not easily found). I cannot produce any evidence for these theories but would love to hear more on the subject (especially if backed with evidence!)"



On 19 Nov 2012 Jeff Goodridge reported a Spoonbill over Thorney Island on SOS Sightings. "While hoping to view a Short-eared Owl by the Landing Lights at the end of Thornham Lane late this afternoon, a Spoonbill (too distant to age without scope) flew east high over the main road then eventually flew back west towards Emsworth Harbour then lost to view." Please keep a look out and let me know if you see anything.

The last Spoonbill we had in Emsworth was exactly 10 years ago. I was first alerted to its presence in Emsworth Nov 16 2002 by Barry Collins, but I did not see the bird until about 2 weeks later on Nov 29. It remained in the Emsworth Harbour area for at least another two weeks and my last sighting was on Dec 16. All that time the bird was relatively easy to see regularly feeding in the low water channels and it even came onto Emsworth Millpond on one memorable occasion on Dec 12. Here are a few snaps from that time.

The Spoonbill out in the main harbour

Spoonbill showing off its strangely shaped bill

Spoonbill 'spurting'

Here is an interesting one that I discovered when going through my old photos. It shows the Spoonbill apparently spurting water from its bill. This so-called 'spurting' behaviour has been seen numerous times in recent years in Black-tailed Godwits, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, and other wading birds. It remains a mystery baffling even the ornithological boffins. See the following page for more information about this unusual behaviour . . . Spurting behaviour

Spoonbill 'spurting' while feeding in Emsworth Harbour in December 2002


Tony Wootton sent photos of the Sanderlings he took at East Head on Nov 19 to Pete Potts who confirmed they were all ringed in October 2011 at Eastoke, Hayling Bay. Here is just one of the photos that Tony sent.

Pete sent them on to Anne de Potier who maintains the Farlington ringing group database. Anne had seen some of Tony's birds at Pilsey on Thorney Island on 14 November. She said they do move a lot around the harbour, but most of the colour-ringed sightings they get are from Hayling because ace-birder Andy Johnson, lives there and is out almost every day! Here is the link for more details about the Sanderling research project . . .

Anne would very much appreciate receiving more colour-ringed Sanderling sightings preferably with photos, and date, time, flock size, to add to the growing knowledge of this delightful wader. Please send them to me in the first place and I will pass them on.


Having read the report (Nov 19) by David Minns about the Sparrowhawk kill in his garden, Tom Bickerton wrote to ask if the hawk left the head on the Feral Pigeon. Tom has a special interest in predators and says he has yet to find a Sparrowhawk kill with a head; they eat the lot. In contrast, Peregrines usually don't eat the head, they detach the head at the base of the spine.

The only Sparrowhawk kill I saw in my garden was on 1 August 2005. A juvenile male Sparrowhawk swooped in, took a House Sparrow from the bird table and went down onto the ground with the Sparrow trapped under its talons. I watched the whole process for about 40 minutes. First, the Sparrowhawk plucked all the feathers off its victim and then proceeded to tear off pieces of flesh and consume them. Finally, it used some of the feathers as a 'napkin', to clean off its beak. As predicted by Tom, nothing was left on the ground but for the House Sparrow's beak and a pile of feathers. All very smart and efficient.

Tom thinks garden kill gives a perfect opportunity, if undisturbed, to understand just what the Sparrowhawk eats and what it leaves. If you have had a kill in your garden then please let me know the details with a photo if possible. Tom can then give us his expert opinion.


Malcolm Phillips had this fine fellow in the garden of his Emsworth flat yesterday. This is clearly another indication of how common Jays are this winter in and around gardens. Has anyone else had one recently?



No special local news today, but Richard Somerscocks has sent a news up date of more sightings of Waxwings from his home town in northern Scotland. He saw another flock of 10 this morning in Forres which is a town neighbouring Findhorn. Here is Richard's photo of one of them to whet our appetites for their arrival down south.

Richard found a flock of 32 Fieldfares feeding in the same Rowan trees, with rapidly disappearing berries. Large flocks have been seen around the north of Scotland in the last few weeks: 350 in Lerwick, 250 in Ullapool, 420 in Aberdeen, and the largest flock at the Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast which numbered some 1200.

I have created a special web page for news and photos from Findhorn at . . . Findhorn News



11:00 - 12:00 - I was viewing the harbour from the marina seawall with tide largely out, but rising. High water at 15:00. Cloudy and dull with a brisk westerly wind blowing into my face.

Black-tailed Godwits

I counted 127 Black-tailed Godwits - feeding mostly along the edge of the main channel. They included four colour-ringed birds:

ROL+RLR - Regular in Emsworth. 6th sighting this season.

WO+LW flag - Regular in Emsworth. 7th sighting this season

O+WL - 5th sighting in Emsworth this season

G+GY - Ringed Farlington 14-Sep-05. Occasional in Emsworth over the years with 11 previous sightings. This was our first sighting here this season.

Brent Geese

Brent Geese 216 - all aged, but no juveniles. So far this season I have aged 1478 Brent Geese finding just 21 juveniles for a proportion of 1.42%. A very poor season.

Other birds

Lapwing 7 - in their usual spot on the seaweed bank near the main channel. Coot 30 - wintering flock starting to build up. Greenshank 4, Dunlin c200, Redshank c50, Turnstone 5.


I found Black Mustard still in flower on the marina seawall.


Garden birds

I had a fleeting visit from 4 Long-tailed Tits to my garden this morning. It was just as well I was looking out of the window at the time or I would certainly have missed them. Here are three of them looking for insects on the pruned roses.

David Minns woke this morning to find a female Sparrowhawk plucking a Feral Pigeon in his back garden in the centre of Emsworth. An amazing bird seen close-up. Having removed a lot of feathers and eaten some meat, it flew off with the remains of the carcass.

David also had a Blackcap singing in his garden in the sunshine the other day - the first singing Blackcap of the winter.

Millpond gull returns

An adult Great Black-backed Gull was on the centre raft of Slipper Millpond - possibly one of the pair that nested here this spring.

Sanderling at East Head

Tony Wootton saw about 100 Sanderlings down at East Head an hour before high tide this afternoon. One of Tony's photos shows several colour-ringed birds, which were probably from the catch organised by Pete Potts at Black Point Hayling Island on 22 Sept 2011.

Brook Meadow birds

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow today from 11.30 till 13,30 and saw a good selection of birds, including Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Chaffinch, Robin, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. What a striking crown has this Goldcrest.




11:00 - 12:00 - I went along to Nore Barn in time to see the stream on a rising tide. High water at 14:00.

Spotted Redshank

The first bird in the stream was the now regular Lapwing. A flock of 20 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the mudflats lower down in the stream channel, but none was colour-ringed. What I assume was the 'resident' Spotted Redshank was resting with the godwits and did not venture into the main stream, probably due to a high level of people activity with boats. It flew off to the saltmarshes with the godwits at 12 noon. There was no sign of Greenshank or the second Spotted Redshank.

Scandinavian Blackbird ?

I met Roy Ewing at Nore Barn who said a lady told him she had seen a 'Scandinavian Blackbird' with a black bill. I said I had never heard of such a bird, though I knew many of our wintering Blackbirds do come from that area of the Continent and at this time of the year they would have dark bills. The male Blackbird's bill is bright yellow only in summer and darkens in the winter; the female/juvenile's bill is dark throughout the year. I see there is a heated discussion on the web over the status of the black-billed Scandinavian Blackbird, but there is nothing about it in the Birds of the Western Palearctic, which is good enough for me.

Other observations

A Buzzard was overhead Nore Barn being mobbed by 8 Carrion Crows.

A Red Admiral was flying along the path to the south of Nore Barn Woods.


Starling singing

While cycling along Western Parade towards Nore Barn I heard the unmistakable chuckling and whistling song of a Starling which was perched high on a chimney pot of one of the houses. I could not resist taking this digiscoped photo of the bird with its plumage glistening in the morning sunshine.

Honey Bees on Ivy

I stopped in front of the large Ivy hedge near the end of Western Parade where I could hear the distinct buzzing of bees feeding on the flowers. There must have been at least 20 Honey Bees, all covered in yellow pollen and carrying huge pollen baskets on their back legs.

I did not realise the workers carried on collecting pollen so late in the year, but clearly they do. There is a web site with information about the activity of Honey Bees throughout the year at . . .

I addition to the Honey Bees there were several Drone Flies (Eristalis tenax) distinguished by their very short antennae and lack of pollen baskets. They also have only one pair of wings.


I was a little anxious about a luxuriant growth of a green filamentous weed in several parts of the River Ems on Brook Meadow - see blog entry for Nov 15. No one seemed to know what it was, so I sent photos of the plants to our botanist friend, Martin Rand who reassured me there was no need to panic! They are non other than the submerged leaves of a Water Crowfoot. Martin thought that given their long and drawn-out habit they were probably Ranunculus penicillatus subsp. pseudofluitans, ie Stream Water-crowfoot. We have had this on out Brook Meadow plant list for many years. You live and learn.


Flowering plants

I went looking for wild flowers around some of the local waysides, hoping to brighten up a very grey November morning. I was pleasantly surprised by how many I found. There were several flowers on the straggly Balm plant on the path from the end of Washington Road just past the railway bridge.

There was a nice show of white flowers on the Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy on the wire fence to the north of the Emsworth Recreation Ground wayside.

My first Winter Heliotrope flowers of the winter were open on the Horndean Road side of the New Brighton Road Junction wayside.

All the following were flowering on the new Emsworth Railway Station wayside: Guernsey Fleabane, Oil-seed Rape, Redshank, Prickly Sow-thistle, Scentless Mayweed, Field Forget-me-not, Common Field Speedwell, Wild Radish, Pineappleweed, Knotgrass, False Oat-grass, Common Fleabane, Black Medick, Common Knapweed, Bristly Ox-tongue, Cat's-ear, Dandelion, Michaelmas Daisy, Red Bartsia, Scentless Mayweed, Scented Mayweed, White Clover, Spear-leaved Orache, Creeping Thistle.

These take my flowering plant list for November to 69 species. For the full list see . . . Flowering plant lists

Caroline's news

Caroline French had a female Blackcap in her garden a day or two after you reported having one in yours (Nov 10).

Late yesterday afternoon, I spent about an hour with a friend on Butser Hill where we saw 120+ Fieldfares and 70+ Redwings moving between Hawthorn trees and a large open field with stubble in it. The Hawthorn did have some berries, but not a great deal.

Caroline asked me to draw your attention to the Brent Lodge Open Weekend on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November. As well as giving people the chance to see the great work the hospital does, these open weekends are an important opportunity to raise much-needed funds. Address: Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, Cow Lane, Sidlesham, Chichester, PO20 7LN.

Tony's news

Tony Wootton went down the east side of Thorney yesterday between 3 and 4.30. He saw two Short-eared Owls between the end of Thornham Lane and the army gates.

He was also sure he saw a pair of Ravens flying overhead, kronking away. They flew exactly along the line of the sea wall and carried on in a straight line northwards.

Findhorn News

Special page for Richard's news from Findhorn Bay go to . . . Findhorn News

Richard Somerscocks managed to spot some Waxwings today and as promised he sent some pictures - just to make us feel really envious! Richard had a very large flock in the country about 10 miles south of Findhorn. When he got home he counted 122 on his photos. Here are a good few of them in this shot. They are getting a lot of reports at the moment so it looks like a good year. But will they get down here - 600 miles to go!

Back at Findhorn Bay the numbers of Geese are an impressive sight. They roost on the bay overnight and depart at first light to feed on the nearby fields before returning just before dusk. Richard witnessed the spectacle yesterday when a huge flock of around 4000 Pink-footed Geese returned to the bay mid-afternoon. Richard says it is difficult to capture the spectacle from photos and you certainly cannot get an impression of the noise they make, but he sent the following image of a small proportion of the flock about to land on the bay.

Offshore they are getting quite a few sightings of Divers and there is a juvenile Red-throated Diver which is currently coming in very close and giving excellent views. This picture was taken this morning.

Most of the Divers, particularly the Black-throated Divers, stay further offshore. There were also a number of Slavonian Grebes feeding with the Velvet Scoters.

For earlier observations go to . . . . November 1-15