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


for JANUARY 1-16, 2013
in reverse chronological order



Firecrest still here

I met Malcolm Phillips at about 10.30 this morning, who told me he had just had yet another sighting of 'the' Firecrest close to the south bridge. I made my way to the south bridge and was lucky to get my first, albeit somewhat fleeting, sighting of the Firecrest beneath the south bridge before it flew off up the flooded path from the south bridge. Malcolm e-mailed me later to say he had some good views of the Firecrest at the S-bend which is where 'my bird' must have been heading. Malcolm returned to Brook Meadow after his trip onto Thorney Island and saw the Firecrest yet again, this time by the observation fence. I really must stay with Malcolm in future!

Here is just one of Malcolm's many photos of this smashing bird

Other birds

Malcolm also reported seeing several Wrens on the river bank and a Goldcrest near the north bridge as a nice comparison with the Firecrest.

Water Voles

Yesterday, Maurice Lillie saw a Water Vole near the S-bend and today saw what was probably the same animal in much the same place. Malcolm Phillips also saw a Water Vole today swimming in the river near the observation fence. These three take the total sightings for 2013 to seven.

Here is Malcom's photo from today


Fox on Thorney

From Brook Meadow Malcolm Phillips went down to Thorney Island where he got this photo of a very healthy-looking Fox basking in the sunshine.

Pied Wagtail

As he passed by Slipper Millpond, Malcolm saw this Pied Wagtail sitting on the door handle of what I am fairly sure is Brendan Gibb-Gray's house in Chequers Quay. I recall Brendan telling me about this bird which taps on his French doors for food.


I went round Emsworth Harbour on a rising tide, starting at the millpond and finishing at Nore Barn.

Black-tailed Godwits

I am pleased to report that a few Black-tailed Godwits are back in the harbour after an absence of a some weeks. I found six Black-tailed Godwits on the edge of the main channel in the eastern harbour and another 14 at Nore Barn. The latter group included one colour-ringed bird: ROL+RLR. This is a Kent-ringed godwit which has been a regular in Emsworth this winter.

Here is a photo of this bird taken in Nov 2010


I watched the 14 Black-tailed Godwits feeding in shallow water at Nore Barn as the tide came in and clearly noticed some examples of 'spurting'. Interestingly, I noticed one bird in particular that appeared to be washing out its beak in the manner suggested by Tom Bickerton in last night's entry. It inserted its bill just below the surface of the water and not deep enough for feeding, then withdrew it and spurted water. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of this.

Here is a photo I took earlier in the year

Two Spotted Redshanks

At about 12:30 two Spotted Redshanks were feeding in the stream at Nore Barn. They were not actually feeding together as one of the birds (the 'resident') chased off the other one if it came too close. Finally, I had a magical experience as I stood on the shingle at the end of Warblington Road watching the resident Spotted Redshank feeding close to the shore. I remained completely still as the bird walked along the shore towards where I was standing. I was taking photos of it as it came, until it was almost right beneath me, too close for my zoom! I got probably my best ever photos of this astonishing bird.

Other birds

There were very few Brent Geese in the harbour, not more than 20 in all. I think they must be feeding on inland fields as they have done in previous years. However, there were good numbers of Wigeon and Teal in the Nore Barn area, which have also been quite low recently. Also, I counted 41 Shelduck and 10 Pintail on the western mudflats.

Winter insects

I noticed a few Bluebottle flies on what remains of the flowers on the large Ivy hedge at the end of Warblington Road at Nore Barn.


More Coal Tits visiting gardens

Earlier this winter, BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme revealed that Coal Tits were reported in nearly 75% of gardens which is far more than usual. Patchy natural seed production in 2012 and last autumn's wet weather are the likely reasons for the increase. Rain causes the cones of conifers to close, making the seeds they hold inaccessible to Coal Tits. . . .



Yet another Firecrest

Malcolm Phillips had yet another sighting of a Firecrest on Brook Meadow this morning. This one was from the observation fence overlooking the river in Palmer's Road Copse. The Firecrest came right in front of him which meant he could get more excellent photos of this normally elusive bird. Here is one of Malcolm's photos, showing a male bird unusually with its orange crest raised. I gather it only does this when excited, which it must have been seeing Malcolm yet again with his camera pointing at him!

Malcolm returned to Brook Meadow After lunch and saw the Firecrest again, this about 50 yards further south, close to where he saw it yesterday near the south bridge.

Brian Lawrence also saw a Firecrest today on Brook Meadow, but this one was at the other end of the meadow at the side of the north bridge, close to where Malcolm had his first Firecrest sighting on Jan 3. Brian's photo also shows the orange crest of a male, so it could have been the same bird that Malcolm saw.


I had a short walk through Brook Meadow late this afternoon. A Nuthatch revealed itself to me by calling very loudly from one of the tall Crack Willows on the north path. I managed to locate it climbing swiftly around on the tree trunks, but could only get a rather distant photo.

Bird song

I heard one short burst of song from a Wren; this was the first Wren song I have heard for quite a while. Great Tits were in particularly good voice on this morning with several singing around the meadow.

Water Vole

Walking through Palmer's Road Copse at about 3pm, I spotted a Water Vole basking in the late afternoon sunshine on the east bank of the river, opposite the Deep water sign. This is our first sighting in this area of the river since 20 Oct 2012.


Richard Hallett was at Nore Barn this morning. He found "A nice little group on the rising tide at 11.30. This consisted of two Spotted Redshanks together with a Common Redshank and a Greenshank. One Spotted Redshank and the Common Redshank went off together along the shore towards the West . Legs were well covered and for a time they were swimming so I was unable to see rings. The other Spotted Redshank and the Greenshank carried on up the stream towards the bridge as the tide rose further."

Peter Milinets-Raby and John Norton did a long circular walk around the Warblington area this morning, starting at Nore Barn, walking along the coast, cutting inland along Pook Lane then coming back across the fields passed Warblington Church. They also saw 2 Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank at Nore Barn (around 1pm), Here is one of the Spotted Redshanks.

Other birtds seen on their walk included, Reed Bunting, 7 Little Egrets feeding in the fields off Pook Lane, Rock Pipit, 7 to 12 Stock Doves, 5 Curlew feeding in the fields north of the church, 54 Brent Geese feeding on fields away from the coast, 15 Song Thrush together with 20+ Blackbirds feeding at a field edge off the main A259 Emsworth Road.


More white blossom has opened in the past few days on the Cherry Plum tree on the causeway of Brook Meadow. Five new flowering plants for the January list today were Knotgrass, Sticky Mouse-ear, Thyme-leaved Speedwell and Field Forget-me-not, all on the roadside verge on New Brighton Road outside the gate onto the Railway Wayside, plus Wood Avens on the Lillywhite's path wayside. This takes my personal list to 28 species.


Regarding the spurting behaviour in Black-tailed Godwits (see yesterday's entry) Tom Bickerton writes: "I think it's mouth rinsing, when they eat the Godwits not only take in the food item, but salt, grit and detritus. They can't manipulate the tongue around as we do, so they take in fresh water and force the bits out, therefore cleaning the inner mandibles. It can't be that pleasant or healthy to have grit within your bill."


Tom adds this note for anyone who wants to watch Peregrines hunting: "The Oysterbeds are particularly good at the moment, with 3 different birds giving us a 2 hour show on Sunday. There is a resident male juvenile there at present with both adults putting in a spectacular attack. Best time would be a morning high tide about 1.5- 2 hours before, as the waders start to roost, clear sunny conditions, not much wind and just wait for them, the juvenile does like perching on the outer bung. He's not that successful at the moment, but highly entertaining."



Firecrest again

Malcolm Phillips got round Brook Meadow this morning before the rain and got another good sighting of what maybe the same Firecrest that has been seen twice before on the meadow, but all the sightings were in different locations. Today, Malcolm saw it in Palmer's Road Copse near the south bridge, the patch between the river and the flooded path.

Garden Goldcrest

I had a yet another Goldcrest in my garden near the centre of Emsworth today. This was the 4th week running I have recorded this bird, which previously has been a very rare visitor. Here is my photo through the window in light rain. Nice to compare with Malcolm's Firecrest above ie no white supercilium on the Goldcrest.

Just a quick shot of the snow falling on my garden this morning. It did not last.

Other bird news

Brendan Gibb-Gray e-mailed to say they have a Kingfisher regularly fishing again on Dolphin Quay near his house. Kingfishers seem to be a bit scarce this winter. I have yet to see one.

Susan Kelly saw a group of at least 5 Little Grebes feeding around the boats in the harbour on a very wet Saturday morning (Jan 12).

Winter flowers

Hazel catkins are now open for the first time this winter on the east side of the north meadow of Brook Meadow.

There is a fine display of Winter Heliotrope on the roadside embankment in the centre of Emsworth near the Emsworth Surgery.

Red-breasted Goose on Thorney

Today, Barry and Margaret Collins found a Red-breasted Goose feeding amongst ca. 1000 Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Thorney Island airfield. This could be the bird that has been on Farlington Marshes for several weeks. They also enjoyed a superb adult male Marsh Harrier quartering the reed bed at the Little Deeps late afternoon.

Missing Godwits

During a WeBS count, Peter Hughes counted 590 Black-Tailed Godwits split more or less evenly between the Pulborough and Amberley Brooks. That is probably where some of the missing godwits from Emsworth Harbour have gone. Others are no doubt at Pagham Harbour where over 1,000 have been reported recently.

Good stuff at Arundel WWT

Harry Ramm had some cracking sightings at Arundel WWT Reserve today, including a Bittern that landed right in front of the Scrape Hide. He also had a Cetti's Warbler and two Water Rails from the same hide plus two Snipe and two Kingfishers. From the Sand Martin Hide there were at least four Kingfishers at one time and four Bullfinches, plus an Egyptian goose on Swanbourne Lake. Worth a visit!

Spurting behaviour

I have just submitted a short paper to the Wader Study Group Bulletin, at the request of The Editor, about some unusual behaviour that I and others have observed in Black-tailed Godwits and certain other waders, in which water and other objects are actively spurted from their bills during feeding in shallow water.

Our photos of this spurting behaviour have been seen by several wader experts, but no one seems to know anything about it, which I find surprising considering how common it appears to be at least in Emsworth Harbour. You can see photos of the behaviour on a special 'spurting' web page at . . . Spurting behaviour

I have also put a short digiscoped video of some Godwits feeding and spurting at Nore Barn in Jan 2012 on YouTube. The link is at . . .



Jean and I walked through Brook Meadow on our way for coffee in the Deck Cafe in Emsworth Marina on a bright but very chilly morning.

Brook Meadow

We had a quick look along the river bank north of the north bridge, but there was no sign of the Water Vole that has been seen here in the past two weeks. The buds of Butterbur are now poking up out of the ground on the edge of the river path near the sluice gate. Soon they will be showing their pink flower spikes which always emerge in early spring. A pair of Great Tits were busy in the bushes alongside the causeway. We stood for a few minutes on the Lumley Path bridge at the north end of Peter Pond, but there was no sign of the Firecrest which Malcolm Phillips saw here on Jan 11.

First blossom

We noted the first flower blossom, just one was open, on the Cherry Plum tree on the causeway across Brook Meadow, which Roger Mills spotted a couple of days ago. This is the tree that the conservation group chopped down about 12 years ago and which has now regrown to an impressive bushy tree. It produces a white blossom which smells very good. I am told that it is a purple-leaved cultivar Pissardii, commonly grown in suburban gardens.

Slipper Millpond

What I am sure is the pair of Great Black-backed Gulls that nested here last spring was back on the pond, no doubt staking out their territory, though there is no competition apart from the resident Coots.

We watched a pair of Cormorants fishing in the pond; one with a grey head caught an Eel and finally swallowed it after several minutes of thrashing around. A Little Grebe was also fishing, though not for Eels!


Richard Somerscocks reports from his new home in Findhorn in Northern Scotland with photos, including Great Northern Diver, Shag with Long-tailed Duck swimming by and, agonisingly for us southerners, no less than 19 Waxwings in his garden! See Richard's excellent photos on the special Findhorn web page at . . . Findhorn News


Patrick Murphy had some nice birds on his fat ball feeder on a very wet Saturday (Jan 12). They included two male Blackcaps and two Long-tailed Tits. Patrick says there is a male Blackcap at the back of the feeder with the Long-tailed Tits, though we will have to take his word for it!

Graham Petrie already has 19 species on his garden bird list for 2013. These include a re-appearance of Coal Tits, regular visits from Nuthatch, and now fairly regular visits from Greenfinch, Chaffinch and up to 15 Goldfinch.

My own garden list is now up to 14 so far for 2013, including the following in good numbers: 14 Chaffinches, 10 Collared Doves, 6 Woodpigeons, 4 Goldfinches, 3 Magpies. We have also seen a female Blackcap, a Goldcrest and notably a House Sparrow!


Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn

Brian Lawrence was at Nore Barn on Thursday Jan 10) and got some cracking pictures of the Spotted Redshank. Here is one Brian sent me for the web site.

John Walton went to Nore Barn this morning at about 09:30 where he found two Spotted Redshanks feeding together in the stream. A little further downstream the Greenshank was taking a nap.

All the Spotted Redshank news and photos is on the special web page at . . . Spotted Redshanks

First Siskin for Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips got what I think was another first for Brook Meadow when he saw and photographed a male Siskin feeding on the Alder catkins near the Lumley Stream.

Partial albino Blackbird

Terry and Paul Lifton met up with Malcolm on the Lumley Path bridge where the Firecrest was seen on Friday, and although they stayed with Malcolm for well over an hour the bird did not turn up. However, They did see the pair of Siskins, a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest, along with Robin, Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits., They also saw and photographed the female Blackbird with a white patch on its wing, which has been frequently seen in the Lumley area for a couple of years at least.

Dunlin display

Tony and Hilary Wootton walked down the Billy Line today and had a wonderful display of the Dunlin at the oysterbeds performing near to high tide. A Peregrine flew straight for the Dunlin very low and quickly across the water, before scattering the birds.



Tony and Hilary also had a good view of a Kingfisher flying across the harbour near Nore Barn.  



Two Spotted Redshanks

I had just finished delivering my usual batch of Brook Meadow Conservation Group Newsletters in west Emsworth and it was such a beautiful morning with bright sun and barely a breath of wind that I decided to go down to Nore Barn to drink my flask of coffee. It was 10.30 and the spring tide was fully in. From the end of Warblington Road I casually glanced over to the stream, now completely full of water, with my binoculars and my great surprise there was what looked like a pair of Spotted Redshanks roosting on the edge of the saltmarshes on the west side of the stream. I have never before seen two Spotted Redshanks roosting there at high water before.

To make absolutely sure, I rushed back home for my scope and confirmed the sighting. Although I could not be certain the Spotted Redshank on right appeared to have rings on its legs and, if so, was W+GY which I have only seen at Nore Barn once before on 27-Oct-12.

While I was there I had the company of Wally and Rosemary Osborne for coffee on the sea at the end of Warblington Road. And Anne de Potier arrived just as I confirmed the presence of the two Spotted Redshanks.

Ros Norton e-mailed me this evening to say she was at Nore Barn about 2 hours after me and saw a Spotted Redshank fly into the stream at 12:46. Ros watched it feeding alone for half an hour. So, presumably the second bird had gone.


Water Vole

I was pleased to get my personal first Water Vole sighting of 2013 this morning at about 12 noon. It was on the west bank of the river north of the north bridge, just before the outfall where the river bank opens out. I watched it scuttling around on the lower part of the bank near the river for about 5 minutes before it disappeared into a burrow hole beneath the water level. This is probably the same vole that has been seen several times over the past couple of weeks.

Another Firecrest

Malcolm Phillips got some more very good photos of a Firecrest on Brook Meadow this afternoon, this time from the Lumley Path bridge over the Lumley Stream.

This could possibly have been the same Firecrest that Malcolm photographed in the north west corner of the meadow on Jan 4, though it is impossible to tell from the photo. This was an exciting sighting and I encourage everyone to go looking for it. Here is another photo from Malcolm showing a very penetrating gaze from the Firecrest.

Early blossom

Roger Mills sent me this photo of an early spring blossom flower that he found yesterday on a large red leaved tree by Lumley Gate. My guess is that it is a Prunus, possibly Cherry Plum which does flower early, though that does not have red leaves. I will try to find the tree over the weekend to confirm.




Malcolm Phillips went round Brook Meadow early this morning. He saw just the usual birds until he got to the bridge over Lumley stream where a pair of Goldcrests were playing around. Are Goldcrests particularly abundant this winter? Malcolm managed to get one good photo.

Little Grebes

Malcolm walked down by Peter Pond where he saw two Little Grebes fishing. He got this rather fine image of one of them in winter plumage with its breeding gape spot already starting to show.


Ros Norton walked down to Thorney Great Deeps today and saw the regular Kingfisher fly into south west corner of the Deeps. However, Ros did not see the Dartford Warbler or the Stonechat that have been in that area recently, though she was looking out for them today and also a couple of days ago between the deeps.



I got to Nore Barn at 11:00 with the tide still fairly high though the stream was gradually emptying. The Spotted Redshank was already present feeding on the edges of the stream with a Greenshank.

Nothing else in the stream but for two Mute Swan cygnets. There was a flock of some 86 Brent Geese on the water creating a wonderful soundscape of gentle 'kerunking' calls.

I cycled back along Western Parade and round the millpond seawall where I found yet more Brent Geese scattered over the emerging mudflats, but very few other birds; even the Wigeon and Teal appear to have disappeared along with the waders.

There was little else to see from the marina seawall apart from a scattering of Redshank and a small group of 5 Black-tailed Godwits, the first I have seen for a while. None was colour-ringed.


I cycled down to the western track to Great Deeps examining the posts and Gorse bushes hoping or the Dartford Warbler that was reported as still showing well in this area yesterday by Barry Collins. I did not see any sign of it, or of the Stonechat that is said to be in the area. I also listened in vain for any pinging by Bearded Tits that Barry reported yesterday on Little Deeps. In fact, I saw very little of note apart from several small flocks of Brent Geese flying over the seawall onto the Eames Farm field from the harbour. A Cormorant was fishing quietly in the canal, taking no notice of me as I passed by on my bike.


Pete Potts asked for my photo of colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit B+YB which I saw at Nore Barn on 25 Sept 12. He says the last time it was seen for sure was 12 Feb 2000 but there are two possible sightings for 2003 and 2005.

I was not entirely sure at the time about the colour-ringed combination on this godwit and the photo was not conclusive. My notes indicated the Godwit was feeding on the edge of the saltmarshes west of the Nore Barn stream. It had a red marker on the left 'ankle' indicating a Farlington bird and small rings indicating an older ringing. The upper ring on the left leg was very dark, probably blue. The upper ring on the left leg stood out clearly as yellow, but the lower ring was dark, again probably blue. B//R+YB was my best estimate, which was new for Emsworth.



Peter Milinets-Raby was in Southsea yesterday (Jan 7) doing his usual Brent Geese survey and got photos of three races of Brent Goose. Peter's excellent images give us a good chance to examine the main differences between these handsome birds.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose - Branta bernicla (nominate race) which we are all familiar with as they winter in their thousands in local harbours. They breed in Western Siberia and migrate through The Baltic to winter in NW Europe. They have a greyish belly, but this varies greatly and can be often be difficult to separate from the Pale-bellied.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Branta bernicla ssp hrota. These breed in Greenland and NW Canada and migrate mainly to Ireland via Iceland. A few usually get down to the South of England. They have much paler bellies than the Dark-bellied with a clear contrast with the black breast. The bird in the centre of the photo is shown feeding with some Dark-bellied birds.

Black Brant - Branta bernicla ssp nigricans. This is the most rare of the three races that we see in Southern England, though one or two do frequently turn up in flocks of dark-bellied birds. It breeds in Eastern Siberia, Alaska and NW Canada and so has a long way to come, though it is thought they summer with the dark-bellied Brents and migrate with them. The Black Brant on the left in the photo has a strong contrast between the white flanks and the dark belly and has a much wider white neck band than the other two sub species, often merging at the front. The other two birds in the photo are regular Dark-bellied birds.


I cycled over to Nore Barn by 10:30 hoping to catch the Spotted Redshank as the tide fell, but I think I was a bit too late as the tide was already well out. Also, the stream had just been cleared of birds by two boisterous dogs.

Brent Geese

So I cut my loses and walked east along Western Parade admiring the Brent Geese scattered around the mudflats as I went. There was a particularly dense gathering of Brents on the mudflats to the west of the Emsworth Sailing Club building. I would estimate the total in the harbour at around 500. Here are a few I digiscoped on the mudflat.

Following the news from Peter Milinets-Raby I checked a good few of the Brent Geese, but did not see any Pale-bellied or Brant. However, I did find four small families of Brent Geese with 2, 2, 2 and 1 juveniles which is one more than I have previously seen in the Nore Barn area. Another one Brent family with one juvenile was in the main channel on the eastern harbour.

Other birds

From the millpond seawall I could see 32 Lapwing roosting on one of the seaweed covered islands and just 4 Gadwall in the channel.

One adult Great Black-backed Gull was snoozing on the mudflats, probably one of the pair that nested on Slipper Millpond last spring and which have remained in the local area ever since. The juveniles appear to have gone.

The regular Little Egret was feeding in the low water channel near the quay with its reflection showing in the water.



Water Vole

Malcolm Phillips got to see the Water Vole again by the north bridge. This seems to be the only one active at present. Malcolm got this nice image of it before it swam off heading south.

Bird song

I spent a couple of hours this morning and this afternoon up dating the three signcases with new photos. During this time I heard six songsters all going strong, Robin, Dunnock, Great Tit, Song Thrush, Collared Dove and Woodpigeon.

Malcolm Phillips got this fine image of a Song Thrush while he was on the meadow today. It could have been the same one that I heard singing.


Winter flowers

I thought all the Hogweed plants on Brook Meadow had succumbed to the bad weather. However, this morning I noticed a single plant with withered leaves, but with a complete flower head at the foot of the steps leading down to the meadow from the north bridge.

 Ralph's winter flowers

Ralph Hollins reports the following plants seen in flower in the past week:-

Creeping Buttercup, Lesser Celandine, Charlock, Hedge Mustard, Shepherd's Purse, Sweet Violet, Herb Robert, Gorse, Common Nettle, Small Nettle, Ivy, Hazel, Grey Alder, Dog's Mercury, Sun Spurge, Cow Parsley, Hogweed, Wild Carrot, Ivy Leaved Toadflax, Common Field Speedwell, Red Deadnettle, White Deadnettle, Water Forget-me-not (single last flower!), Garden Forget-me-not, Japanese Honeysuckle, Oxford Ragwort, Groundsel, Ox-eye Daisy, Daisy, Winter Heliotrope, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sowthistle, Butcher's Broom (35 Species)


Dartford Warbler

Today Sid Davies saw what he calls 'the now locally famous' Dartford Warbler on the west side of Thorney about two thirds along the track, between the two deeps. Sid had a marvellous view of a bird which seems to have befriended a Stonechat which is a good indication as to its location. The Stonechat typically bobs up and down between the grass and the posts.

Winter flowers

During this morning's work session on Brook Meadow, Lesley Harris pointed out some flowering Primroses near the path through Palmer's Road Copse. These are the first I have seen this year. I looked for Snowdrops in the usual areas around the meadow, but there was no sign of any.

Black-tailed Godwits

There were no Black-tailed Godwits in Emsworth Harbour in the past week. They do often move away from the harbours and onto inland fields during wet weather to feast on worms brought to the surface by the rains. Andrew House reported that 800 were on the North Fields at Pagham Harbour on Jan 5 and Jon Winder counted 229 at Amberley Wild Brooks on the same day. These sightings probably account for most of our local birds. I gather also some 4,000 have been seen in the Avon Valley.



Still no Firecrest

I went over to the meadow this morning to have another look for the Firecrest in the north west corner. Malcolm Phillips turned up and we looked together, but we did not see it. There were lots of other birds in the area, including Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Wren, Blue Tit and Great Tit, but the Firecrest must have moved on.

House Sparrows galore

However, Malcolm and I did enjoy a fine flock of some 12 House Sparrows chattering and busying themselves in the large patch of Brambles. They appear to move between Brook Meadow gardens to the west. Malcolm got the following nice photos of male and female House Sparrows.

Male House Sparrow with dark bill, white cheeks, brown nape and wings, black bib and grey crown

Female House Sparrow overall is much paler with a yellowish bill and a pale band behind the eye.

Water Vole

Malcolm stayed for about an hour after I left for home and it was worth it as he saw and got photos of the Water Vole that has been seen several times just recently north of the north bridge. Malcolm watched it for about 10 mins as it slowly worked its way up the river to where the water comes from the outfall. Here is Malcolm's photo - the first Water Vole photo of 2013.

Bird song

A Song Thrush was singing strongly in Palmer's Road Copse for the first time this winter period, just north of the south bridge. This is in addition to the other new songsters over the past week, Dunnock, Great Tit and Blackbird.

Winter flowers

Three flowers of Creeping Buttercup were open on the Bridge Road Wayside near the stream, which take my personal January list to 18 species.



No Firecrest

I went over to the meadow twice this morning to look for the Firecrest that Malcolm Phillips saw in the north west corner brambles yesterday. There was a good deal of bird activity in this large patch of brambles, including Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, and House Sparrow, but no sign of the Firecrest. Malcolm also went looking for the Firecrest, but only found what looks like a Goldcrest investigating a tree trunk for insects.

Bird song

While I was on Brook Meadow I heard at least two Great Tits singing their 'teacher' song for the first time. A man who was passing told me he had heard a Blackbird singing on the east side of the north meadow. That would be another first for this winter. I had a listen but did not hear it.

Scentless Mayweed

I found several plants of Scentless Mayweed still in full flower on the new Emsworth Railway Station wayside. Despite its name this plant does not flower in May but from July onwards and is not unusual in winter. The name is derived from the Old English word for maiden and refers to its use in the treatment of female disorders. But, true to its name, the flowers are not scented, unlike the very similar Scented Mayweed, which also grows on the Railway Wayside, but is not currently in flower. Sea Mayweed is very similar to Scentless Mayweed, but it grows by the sea, on shingle and on muddy shores. One needs to examine the fruits to distinguish them conclusively (see Rose, new Edition).


Blackcaps in garden

Patrick Murphy had several visits this morning from a male Blackcap eyeing up the tasty fat balls on offer. Another bird that came looking for food in Patrick's garden was a Grey Heron, but it found the pond well netted and the tasty fish out of reach. It will try again.

Caroline French also has Blackcaps in her North Emsworth garden. She has a regular male Blackcap feeding on both apple and fat balls, and a couple of days ago there was a female feeding on a different fat ball feeder. They were feeding only about 2 metres apart, but there was no aggression between them. Why should there be? Food for all.

Peter's New Year's birds

Peter Milinets-Raby had a fine time compiling his New Year's Day list of birds. Here is his photo of a Sanderling taken at Sandy Point on Hayling Island. What a bright bird, caught in the winter sunshine.

Peter has also produced one of his videos as he says, "to capture the thrill of year listing on New Year's Day and the unparalleled joy of adding a number of birds into that oh so important little red note book (tongue firmly in cheek)." Here is the YouTube link to the video . . . Look out for the interesting entries in his red book.



First Firecrest

Pride of place in today's news undoubtedly goes to Malcolm Phillips who saw and photographed the first ever Firecrest to be recorded on Brook Meadow. Malcolm saw it on brambles in the far north west corner of the meadow.

The photo shows nicely the white supercilium, clashing with the dusky eye stripe and grey cheeks. The crest does not show too well, but the yellow hue suggests the bird may be female. The male would have more of an orange crown stripe.

Firecrest is a fairly scarce but increasing resident and winter visitor to the South of England, seen in winter mostly near the coast. The last one we had in Emsworth was last year from Feb 10 to Feb 23 in Nore Barn Woods. If this one keeps to the same pattern then it might be around for a while and worth looking for.

First Water Vole of 2013

Terry Lifton has the honour of seeing the first Water Vole of the year; he got a good view of one eating Ivy leaves near the north bridge on Brook Meadow. This, in fact, must be the earliest record we have for a Water Vole on Brook Meadow. It could be the same animal that Jane and Andy Brook saw on Dec 26.


11:00 - 12:00 - I had a look at the eastern harbour this morning about 3-4 hours to high water. Viewing the eastern harbour from the marina seawall there were very few birds in the main harbour. Certainly no sign of any Black-tailed Godwits. I counted 18 Gadwall in the main channel, an increase on the 8 that I saw there yesterday. There were also some Teal but no other ducks. Brent Geese were less numerous than yesterday. Are they also moving inland to feed as they did last year?

I walked as far as Little Deeps where I found some Goldfinches feeding on the Lesser Burdock seeds on the Wickor Bank. Just Tufted Duck and Teal were on the Little Deeps.


Bird song

I heard a Dunnock singing from the bushes in Bridge Road car park. This was the first full Dunnock song I have heard this winter.

Winter flowers

Plants in flower I saw during this morning's walk to Thorney Little Deeps included Hedge Mustard on the marina seawall, Greater Periwinkle on the east side of Slipper Millpond and Sweet Violets on the path behind Lillywhite's Garage. These take my personal January total to 14. Ralph Hollins found 27 plants in flower on New Year's Day around the Havant area. For my monthly winter lists go to . . .

Ems Valley

On a walk from Lumley to Westbourne walk, Terry Lifton saw a Green Sandpiper and a couple of Snipe in a flooded field north of the A27. I regularly used to see Green Sandpiper and Snipe along the River Ems between Emsworth and Westbourne in the 1990s, so it is good to hear they still frequent the area.

Great Northern Diver

At about 3pm today Ros Norton had a good view of a Great Northern Diver that was diving in Langstone Harbour between The Kench and Hayling Ferry and visible from both places. This bird has been reported on Hoslist for the past week and might be around for some time yet. Here is a photo taken by Tony Wootton of what could possibly be the same Great Northern Diver at the same place 2 years ago.



Emsworth Harbour (east)

10:00 - 11:00 Tide rising to high water at 14:00.

I started on the millpond seawall from where I could see the eastern harbour filling quickly as the tide came in.

The most interesting birds were the 8 Gadwall in the main channel, the first of the winter in Emsworth Harbour. I only recorded two last year in the Nore Barn area, but in 2011 we had a record 72 in the eastern harbour on 16 January.

Other birds in the eastern harbour included c200 Brent Geese and 15 Shelduck plus the usual waders, such as Grey Plover, Redshank, Turnstone, but with the notable exception of Black-tailed Godwits. An adult Great Black-backed Gull was on the mudflats, probably the same bird that now regularly comes to Slipper Millpond.

Two Little Grebes were fishing in the main channel and just one male Red-breasted Merganser. I was surprised not to se others, but this one was definitely alone. Maybe it will come onto the millpond?

Standing on the seawall east of the Emsworth Sailing Club building I watched a Little Egret feeding in the outfall from the millpond; this is probably the bird that feeds on the low water millpond and sometimes ventures up the Westbrook Stream to perch on our garden fence. An unringed Greenshank was feeding in the channel.

A few Dunlin were scattered around the mudflats to the east of the sailing club, which reminded me I had not seen any Ringed Plover in the harbour this winter. I could just make out a flock of around 150 Knot on the Thorney shore near the Great Deeps and a flock of about 80 Lapwing on the edge of the saltmarshes.

Emsworth Harbour (west)

11:00 - 11:00 - The dominant birds on the western mudflats were Brent Geese and Wigeon. I spotted just 2 Pintail, a male and female pair in one of the small channels.

I got to Nore Barn at about 11:15 by which time the regular Spotted Redshank was already present, waiting on the edge of the lower stream as it its custom.

The Spotted Redshank then ran quickly up the stream where it continued to feed for the next hour or so when I got this digiscoped image. Sorry for yet another photo, but I have been deprived for the past two weeks.

The Greenshank arrived a little later, though it spent much to the time snoozing on the edge of the lower stream as the tide pushed in.

I counted another 42 Shelduck at Nore Barn making a grand total of 57 for the harbour as a whole. There were plenty of Wigeon and Teal in the Nore Barn Creek

There was no sign of any Black-tailed Godwits anywhere in the either harbour. Clearly, they must have moved onto the flooded fields to feast on worms. They have frequently done this in past winters during very wet periods. Ralph Hollins reported a couple of probable record counts made on Dec 27 with 1070 at Pagham Harbour North Walls and 4000 in the Hampshire Avon valley at Bisterne. So, that's where they have gone.

Ralph Hollins arrived at about 11:30 and was pleased to add Spotted Redshank and Greenshank to his 2013 bird list. Ralph had a scare when he discovered the eyepiece was missing from his scope. We both searched the stony shore and I finally found it near the boats, much to Ralph's relief.


A couple of Bluebottle flies were feeding on the few remaining open Ivy flowers on the hedge at the end of Western Parade close to Nore Barn. No sign of any other insects, though it was fairly chilly. Maybe, the Bumblebees will return with warmer weather?



Heather Mills reported on this morning's traditional Hampshire Wildlife Trust New Year's Day walk.

Go to . . . hwg-walk-reports-2013


In response to the BTO report that Collared Doves were in decline, Mary and Keith Marriot sent me a photo of some 22 Collared Doves that they had in their Westbourne garden.

Interestingly, I have also been getting an increase in Collared Doves in my Emsworth garden over the past week or so. 10 Collared Doves were on the grass today feeding on the seeds and chopped peanuts, which is the most I have had since this time last year. However, the trend for Collared Doves in my garden shows a sharp decline in the last 5 years.

The BTO Breeding Birds Survey also shows a general decline in Collared Dove records since about 2005 as shown in this chart. The red line is the smoothed trend curve.

The BTO Garden BirdWatch records show a similar downward trend over the past 7 years.

For earlier observations go to . . . December 1-30