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 1-15 MARCH 2013

in reverse chronological order

FRIDAY MARCH 15 - 2013


Spotted Redshank

11:15 - Nore Barn. Tide rising to high water in about 2 hours. Strong SW wind with heavy showers. Here is my daily check on the Spotted Redshank. It was feeding with a Greenshank in the rapidly filling stream when I arrived. The Greenshank flew off, but the Redshank continued to feed as the tide gradually filled up the stream. It was right at the top of the stream near the little bridge when I left at about 12:15. I asked if it was coming back next year. I am sure it nodded in reply!

The Spotted Redshank gave me a nice wave as I went


I was interested to see from some of my photos that the Spotted Redshank appeared to be losing some of its flight feathers. This was also evident in some of yesterday's photos. Consulting my BTO 'Guide to Moult in Birds', I learn that Spotted Redshank has two moults; one complete moult post breeding (Jul-Oct) and a partial pre breeding moult in March to May. This latter one may be what our bird is currently undertaking, though it does seem to be an unusual time to moult just before a long migration.

Other birds

Numbers of wintering harbour birds continue to fall. I could only see nine Brent Geese, including 3 juveniles, at Nore Barn, plus about 50 Wigeon and Teal in the creek.

Hollybank Woods lichen

Ralph Hollins was very impressed with my lichen photo from Hollybank Woods (Mar 13). He says he can safely record it as 'Usnea spp', but points out there are two similar species that grow on Silver Birch trees with a clear difference between the two which is not shown on my photo. The main stem of U. subfloridana is black at the base where it joins the tree whereas the U.cornuta stem is grey/green throughout. See for cornuta and for subfloridana. Clearly, the way to decide this is to go to Hollybank Woods again to check which I shall do as soon as the weather improves.

There were in fact several other lichens growing on the Silver Birch tree on the Holly Lodge clearing. Here is one of them which is clearly fruticose and my tentative identification of this is Ramalina farinacea

. . . and a fungus?

Also, growing high up in the same Silver Birch tree was a bright yellow growth, which I thought at first was another lichen, but I am more incllined to go for a fungus, possibly Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica).

Malcolm's news

Malcolm Phillips went round Brook Meadow yesterday and got this smashing photo of a Water Vole having a snack on the river by the railway embankment near the tunnel at about 11.30am.

Malcolm went to Warblington but there was no sign of the Ibis but he did see 2 Buzzards together over the castle.

Hayling Oysterbeds news

Tom Bickerton passed on this photo of a male Wheatear from Chris Cockburn that Mike Johnston took near the Oysterbeds on March 13th.

Chris says the same, or another, bird was in same place on mar 14 on Stoke Bay beach, just west of 'ye olde sheltering bramble bush'. Chris watched the first copulation of Black-headed Gulls and noted a pair of Herring Gulls sleeping on the eastern island.


Two Spotted Redshanks

It was quite late by the time I got down to Nore Barn today (12.00) and the tide was almost fully in. The stream was full, but the ever faithful Spotted Redshank was there all alone, snoozing near the boats moored on the shore. I watched it for about 30 minutes as the water crept higher and higher; it was quite unfazed by people and dogs walking nearby. As shown in the photo the bird's plumage is darkening noticeably with the white tips to the feathers starting to show as spots of the breeding plumage.

Eventually at around 12.30 it flew onto the saltmarshes on the western side of the stream. When I looked over to see where it had landed I realised it had joined a second Spotted Redshank that had presumably been snoozing on the edge of the saltmarshes all the time. I left at about 12:45 and I assumed the two birds would be roosting there over high water.

Garden Siskins

Siskins continue to visit the garden of Caroline French; amazingly, she had six on Monday. They were mainly feeding on sunflower hearts, but one did take niger seed. Caroline says for a small number of birds they make a surprising amount of noise with their cheerful chattering in the tree. Here is Caroline's photo showing both female and male on the feeder.

Warblington Wagtail

Malcolm Phillips photo of the Wagtail at Warblington Farm on March 12 prompted two comments, both of which prefer Pied Wagtail rather than White Wagtail. I am inclined to agree with them (not that I am any sort of expert on Wagtails!).

Tom Bickerton says . . . "Very difficult from this image, I'm erring for this one on Pied Wagtail. I thought the first image (Mar 4) looked pretty good for a White Wagtail. The trouble is these birds are in moult, that's why a good look at the back and tail gives an indication. We usually get the birds that breed further North, so it's not impossible, but more likely to see them in the Autumn."

Peter Milinets-Raby says . . . " Again, I do not think it is a White Wagtail, but what do I know. I always believe that if it is what you think it is, it will jump out at you. This does not 'jump'. A White Wagtail is very pale grey and very clean white underneath and stands out like a soar thumb! The following reasons spring to mind: The median coverts are black centred and white edged. Too dirty grey on the flanks (White Wagtails look white and very grey - not black and white) There seems to be dark feathers in the mantle."

Local Ravens

In his Spring Notes in the current Newsletter of the Friends of Stansted, Head Forester Michael Prior indicates that the winter visiting Ravens have been very noticeable with up to four birds being seen in Stansted Park some days. Ralph Hollins also points out that Ravens are regularly reported from Thorney Island, Hayling, Portsmouth and Farlington Marshes and they have been known to nest in the Racton Folly. So, please keep looking up for big birds!



I popped down to Nore Barn this morning by 10am on a rising tide to check on the Spotted Redshank which was in the stream as usual. It is now later now than it was last year when it had gone by Mar 9, but there is still some way to go to beat the record of 24 March 2010. An unringed Greenshank was feeding in the pond in the wet field at the top of Nore Barn Creek. The only other waders I noticed were a Common Redshank and a Grey Plover.

There was not much else at Nore Barn, but for a sprinkling of Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal. I was interested to see four juveniles in the group of 20 or Brents, which were probably the families of 2, 1 and 1 that I have been seeing from time to time during the winter. Are the families the last to leave I wonder?


Although it was very cold, a hint of sunshine from time to time prompted me to head for the woods to see if I could find any butterflies. Brimstone and Comma should be emerging from their hibernation about now and could be about. However, there were none at all! I walked through both the eastern and western sections without seeing a single butterfly! I met Andy Brook who told me Brimstone had been seen in the woods this year along with the regular Speckled Woods.

There was a regular conservation work session taking place (Wednesdays and Fridays). The main job was coppicing the Sweet Chestnut in the area to the west of the main path. Here is the group of volunteers busy at work.

The group have also constructed a number of pedestrian friendly hurdle gates, mainly to restrict access of horse riders and motorcyclists through the main woodland. I think these are a very good idea and create a more 'walker friendly' feel to the woods.

The woods were very quiet on the bird front. A Nuthatch was singing noisily from near the southern entrance to the woods. The only other birds heard singing were Robin, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker and Stock Dove. I saw Long-tailed Tits working their way through the trees.

Lichen - Usnea subfloridana?

I found a good variety of lichen growing on an old Silver Birch tree on the Holly Lodge clearing.

Here is one example of a fruticose lichen which I tentatively identify as Usnea subfloridana

Ralph Hollins checked my photo against those in the Irish Lichens web site as well as the Lastdragon web site and in doing so found an obvious(??) difference between U. subfloridana and U. cornuta which is another common species that also grows on Birch. Ralpgh says my photo and the majority of those available on the web do not show this feature which is that the main stem of U. subfloridana is black at the base where it joins the tree whereas U.cornuta stem is grey/green throughout
see . . for cornuta and for subfloridana - the first photo here shows the blackening very clearly). The best way to decide this is to go to Hollybank Woods again to check.


Malcolm's news

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow for half an hour this morning. There was not much movement but he did see the Great Spotted Woodpecker at the north east corner. He returned at 11.45am and, after a while, saw a Water Vole having a snack by the sluice gate. Interesting to see the damage to fur on the animal's back, like we have seen many times before. A sign of fighting.

Finally, the Firecrest which has been OWOL for the past 10 days or so, finally showed up, though not well enough for photo. But, at least we know that one of them is still here.


I met Pam Phillips at Nore Barn who told me that she too had seen a Buzzard in trees on Brook Meadow on several occasions during the past week from her bedroom window in The Rookery. Pam can see the Lumley area of the meadow from her window.

Water Rail in snow

Yesterday (Mar 12) Nick Haigh had a cold morning, but very worthwhile morning on Brook Meadow. He got good views and photos of his first ever Water Rail in the snow, on the west bank of the river just south of the S-bend. Nick also had the pleasure of seeing his first ever Firecrest the other week after bumping into Malcolm Phillips on Brook Meadow and being shown the best spot. Nick's conclusion was, "A great patch and worth the trek from Southampton".


Buzzard on Brook Meadow

On my morning constitutional through the meadow I met Mike Wells on the main river path with camera at the ready, but he had not managed to catch anything as yet. He had just got back from a very cold Budds Farm where he had seen the two Scaup on the ponds. Mike told me he had seen a Buzzard on the meadow yesterday being hassled by two Carrion Crows. This was our second Buzzard sighting in a week, suggesting a more regular visitor like we had in February 2010.

New nest box on Peter Pond

Here is a photo of David Gattrell's new covered nesting box which is sited on the floating raft in the centre of the pond. Previously, David has tried similar raised nest boxes on poles in the pond itself with not much success.

Great Black-backed Gulls

The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were on the centre raft when I walked round this morning. One of the birds (female?) was settled down on a flat area of the raft with twigs evident, though I cannot for certain say it was a nest.

Many of the Black-headed Gulls were in breeding plumage and one needs to look closely to make sure they are not Mediterranean Gulls.

A perky Robin

Malcolm Phillips had a walk round the meadow early afternoon, but there was not much in the way of bird activity on this very cold day. The only photo he got was one of a perky Robin on the river bank.

Wagtail at Warblington

Malcolm then went over to Warblington Farm where he found the Glossy Ibis in the usual field east of the cemetery extension along with the regular Curlew. Malcolm also saw a Wagtail in the field, but is it a Pied or a White? I am definitely not prepared to say which Wagtail this is as there was some dispute over the last one that Malcolm snapped here on Mar 4. However, here is Malcolm's photo of today's bird for you to ponder over.


Malcolm wondered why the birds kept running for cover and found the answer when he looked up and saw a Buzzard. This is probably one of the birds that regularly nest on Warblington Farm.

MONDAY MARCH 11 - 2013



I went for a walk in the snow this morning, through Brook Meadow to The Rookery where I delivered the fortnightly Brook Meadow e-mail notes to Ted and Penny Aylett as I usually do. The snow was light but the wind was strong and cold which made birdwatching impossible. However, I enjoyed taking a few snaps of the snow including the favourite view of the River Ems from the south bridge.

Here is a Daffodil full of snow with Crocuses in the background in a garden in The Rookery.

I found the pair of Great Black-backed Gulls hunched up against the snow on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond

Malcolm Phillips was also on the meadow today and got this image of the path through Palmer's Road Copse after the snowfall.


Black-headed Gulls

As often happens when it snows I get some uncommon birds turning up in my garden. This morning I had two Black-headed Gulls, one of which was a juvenile. They remained on the bird table for a few minutes, which is quite unusual as they usually just swoop down and go. This enabled me to get my camera out and take a few photos.

My last sighting of Black-headed Gulls was in January also during a snowy spell, though I rarely get more than one visit each year. Black-headed Gull is ranked 32nd in the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme for this region at this time of the year with a reporting rate of just 4.6%.

Pied Wagtail

The other surprising bird was a rather fine Pied Wagtail which came and went several times from the bird table where it was taking seeds and chopped peanuts.

I have only 6 previous records of Pied Wagtail in my garden going back to 1997 when we first moved into Bridge Road. All sightings were in the winter period from Nov-Feb and the last one was in November 2010 (the others were February 2009 January 2008 February 2003 January 2000 December 1998 December 1997). Pied Wagtail is generally a more common garden bird than Black-headed Gull. It is ranked 25th in the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme for this region at this time of the year with a reporting rate of 15%.


Mandarin Ducks

Regarding the four Mandarin Ducks that Barry Kingsmith had on his garden pond on Mar 8, Ralph Hollins says there is a distribution map on the DEFRA web site indicating the 10Km Squares in which the species has been recorded, which is almost everywhere in Britain from Lands End to John O'Groats. Ralph adds, "The spread of this non-native species is of little concern to DEFRA since the only known impact of these duck on other wildlife is that they compete for tree hole nest sites with Jackdaws and Grey Squirrels. from

Ralph was right about them not staying since Barry told me they flew off as soon as they saw his camera and have not returned.

Mute Swans wandering

Mute Swans do tend to wander into dangerous situations at this time of the year as their hormones get the better of them. Malcolm Phillips came across this pair being shepherded across the busy main road through Emsworth.

Garden sightings

Rod and Angela Storey (new contributors to the Emsworth Comminuty Wildlife web site) sent me recent garden sightings from their home in North Emsworth. Green Woodpecker visits roughly twice a day since January especially if wind from north or north west. It stays stays 20 to 30 minutes, pecking in the lawn. It is likely to be looking for ants which it catches with its long sticky tongue. Goldcrest has been seen twice since 1st March, in front garden on large very bushy rose tree. It is probably hunting for small grubs and other invertebrates. Willow Warbler seen since last summer, but still appears to be around, although supposed to be a summer visitor. This is almost certainly a Chiffchaff, which is virtually identical to a Willow Warbler, but some of them do over winter. Frog spawn in garden pond 7th March.

Derek and Heather Mills have had a male Blackcap coming regularly to their feeder for a few weeks. Heather also makes sponge cake for him as well as providing ample suplies of sunflower hearts, apple and nijger seed. That bird knows where he is well off.

SUNDAY MARCH 10 - 2013


Water Voles

Malcolm Phillips had a quick walk round the meadow this morning. He saw a Water Vole swimming by the observation fence at 9am.

Graham Petrie was excited to see his first ever Water Vole on Brook Meadow today, not the best sighting but a definite. He said it was smaller than expected and was actually spotted by his partner Christina on her first visit to the meadow with their little boy. It scurried along the north bank about 20 metres west from where the River Ems comes under the railway line, then settled down about a metre back in the reeds for a minute or so before disappearing back completely out of sight. Interestingly, this is Section A1 for Water Vole sightings and only the second one there this year.

Graham provided the following link to an interesting video about the restoration of habitat for Water Voles on a Dorset river. . .

Has Firecrest gone?

Malcolm could not find the Firecrest anywhere and wonders if it could have moved on. Our last sighting of the Firecrest was over a week ago on Mar 2, which clearly suggests the bird(s) have left. But what an experience it has been while they have been here. So easy to see and giving people such great pleasure as well as splendid photos. Farewell Firecrests, and fare forward!

The Firecrest(s) were on Brook Meadow for about two months. The first sighting was in north west corner of Brook Meadow on Jan 3. The bird then moved to its favoured spot near the observation fence on Jan 15. On Feb 1 we got photos of what looked like male (with orange crest) and female (with yellow crest), but I am now doubtful about the female identification which relied entirely on photos which can easily mislead. We had several sightings during February of two males, which I think was what we had.

Water Rail

Brian Lawrence got a good view of the Water Rail this afternoon with the following photo. So, that bird is still with us at least!



Night time songster

Caroline French woke in the middle of the night one day last week to hear a Robin singing heartily outside the front of her house in North Emsworth. It was singing from 2.10am for at least an hour and a second Robin was also singing somewhere nearby. Caroline says she has heard of urban birds singing at night but this was the first time she had experienced it. There is a bright streetlamp just outside her neighbour's house. In the spring, urban Robins singing at night are often mistaken for Nightingales. Do any other birds regularly sing at night I wonder? Blackbird possibly?

Raven sightings

In view of the recent discovery of Ravens nesting on Portsdown Hill, I thought it would be useful to keep a record of local Raven sightings. At about 8am on Mar 6 this year, I saw from my bedroom window what I am fairly sure was a Raven flying north across the gardens - my first ever in Emsworth. Other recent local sightings included a pair by Peter Milinets-Raby flying south west over his Havant garden on 12-Dec 2012. On the same day, Tony and Hilary Wootton were walking around Walderton when they saw two Ravens hassling a Buzzard over Inholmes Wood, possibly the same birds. Tony also saw two over Thorney on 16-Nov-12, where Richard Somerscocks also saw one on 12-Apr-12 and got a photo of the bird as it flew over. So, keep looking out and up for these magnificent birds. Please let me know any records I might have missed.



Having an hour or so to spare this morning while Jean did some shopping in Chichester, I had a walk along the main track through the gravel pits. Ivy Lake was, as usual, crowded with mainly Coot and Tufted Duck, though I suspect numbers are down on midwinter as the birds start to leave for breeding areas further north. The Great Crested Grebes were looking superb in their finery, though I did not catch any displaying.

Pochard were very scarce with only about half a dozen seen, though I did not look at New Lake where most of them tend to reside. I counted just 16 Gadwall on Ivy Lake, though again there could well have been more on the lakes towards Vinnetrow.

I would estimate about 50 Canada Geese scattered around the lakes. Among the group on East Trout Lake was the white-faced Canada Goose which I last saw in Emsworth Harbour on 29-Jan-2012. The usual group of tame Greylag Geese were on the far shore of Copse Lake.

There were lots of immature Herring Gulls on Ivy Lake along with some Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls. I had a good look for the Bittern that the Havant Wildlife Group saw last week in the reedbeds on West Trout Lake but there was no sign of it. I saw my first Coot with its nest on the side of Ivy Lake.

I was pleased to see my first Coltsfoot flowers of the year along the path by Ivy Lake, though I suspect they have been out for a while.


Malcolm Phillips saw his first Kingfisher in the meadow today. He was taking photos of the Water Rail by the observation fence when the Kingfisher flew south, too fast for a photo though.

Water Voles

He had another good day for Water Voles with three sightings: first one by the sluice gate going north at 10am, the second by the deep water sign going south at 10.45am, the last was by the south bridge at 12.15pm. Here is Malcolm's photo of one of the voles having a snack.

Water Rail

The Water Rail was out in the open quite a long time today so Malcolm managed some good photos.

He also got a good shot of a Wren bathing in the river.


Caroline French reports on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. Go to . . . Havant Wildlife Group


Ivy-leaved Speedwell flowers

While walking alongside the A259 embankment wayside into the village this morning, I noticed Ivy-leaved Speedwell in flower at the western tip of the wayside. This was my first of the year, though I see Ralph Hollins found his first Ivy-leaved Speedwell flowers in Havant on Feb 5, so they have probably been out for some while.

This is a more or less prostrate hairy annual with ivy-shaped leaves. According to Blamey, Fitter and Fitter (p.242) its flowers are either blue (ssp hederifolia) or lilac (ssp lucorum), the latter being the most frequent, though Rose (New Ed) just says they are pale lilac. The flower on the sample I picked from the wayside this morning looked blue to me though I must admit I am pretty hopeless on colours. When I compared my flower with the chart on the Wikipedia web page, it seemed to match best the colour labelled 'pale lilac', so maybe Rose is right. See . . .

The Hants Flora states that Veronica hederifolia ssp lucorum is frequent and locally common, though says no attempt has been made to map the two subspecies.

Stock Dove in garden

We had an unusual visitor to the garden this afternoon in the shape of a Stock Dove. It remained in the garden for about 10 minutes feeding with three Woodpigeons. I took some photos through the window which show the main features of the bird; a green iridescence around the neck (but no collar), two black bands on the wings, dark gentle-looking eyes and a pink yellow tipped bill.

I often hear Stock Dove singing its 'ooo-wu' song in the Brook Meadow area and elsewhere. However, my only other sighting of Stock Dove in my garden was in 2009 when I had two sightings, the first on Jan 19 and the second on May 1. The BTO does not publish data for Stock Dove in the Garden BirdWatch scheme, though I suspect the frequency is fairly low in gardens.

Generally, following release from the lethal and sublethal effects of the organochlorine seed-dressings used in the 1950s and early 1960s, Stock Dove populations increased very substantially, but then levelled off in the early 1980s, and entered a further increasing phase in the early 1990s. Recent indices suggest that numbers have fallen significantly in the last few years.


Caroline French continues to get Siskins in her north Emsworth garden. She had another visit from a pair this afternoon as shown in the photo. Siskin ranks 23rd in the BTO Garden BirdWatch league table for this area at this time of the year with 21% of participants reporting them.

Mandarin Ducks

Barry Kingsmith sent the following photo of what must be one of the rarest garden birds - four Mandarin Ducks (three males and a female) sitting on the jetty of his pond at Racton this evening.

Peter's walk to Warblington

Peter Milinets-Raby chose a pretty wet day for his regular walk to Warblington, starting at Nore Barn at 7:35am and finishing roughly two hours later. He went along the shore to Pook Lane, then passed the church to check all the fields. Peter's photo of unidentified buds covered with rain drops sums up the weather.

Despite the weather Peter had a very good haul of birds. The highlights were as follows:

Adult winter Little Gull on the water at Conigar Point, before flying east. 2 Sandwich Terns feeding off the point (both winter plumaged birds). Whimbrel heard calling off Conigar Point but too misty and wet to see!! Brent Geese (Nore Barn - 119, Conigar Point - 147, Pook Lane - 147), Wigeon (Nore Barn - 61, Conigar Point - 71, Pook Lane - 167), Teal (Nore Barn - 77, Conigar Point - 120+, Pook Lane - 10). Spotted Redshank in the stream, Greenshank on the pond at the end of Nore Barn Creek. Med Gull at Nore Barn, 8 Pintail, 2 female Goldeneye and 4 Red Breasted Mergansers at Conigar Point,

2 Med Gulls, 13 Oystercatchers in a field south of the cemetery (A must watch field?), Glossy Ibis in the usual field along with Curlew, 4 Teal and Little Egret. This field, plus a few others are superb for birds and should be watched daily - no wonder stuff has been found since the Ibis turned up. The whole area (away from Nore Barn) is under watched.

3 Chiffchaff seen in various hedgerows (possible sign of early migration, but more likely wintering birds moving). Up to 5 Pheasant. A pair of Bullfinch along Pook Lane and 2 Siskin over. 22 Stock Doves and 3 Med Gulls in the field off the main Emsworth Road. Only found 5 Curlew feeding in the fields, so where the other 40+ were was anybody's guess!



I was greeted by the cheery song of a Great Tit at the north bridge. Chaffinch was also singing nearby and a Song Thrush was sounding off in the north west corner near the railway embankment. I heard another Song Thrush on the east side of the meadow and the yaffling call of a Green Woodpecker from the Lumley area. A Greenfinch was churring near the Lumley gate. A Blackbird was serenading in Palmer's Road Copse. They are now singing generally. Dunnocks were chasing each other with flicking wings.

Marsh-marigold is starting to flower on the river bank in its regular spot in Palmer's Road Copse. This is about 2 weeks earlier than in previous years.

Slipper Millpond

The pond was very quiet with the male Mute Swan patrolling his territory. I was interested to see a line of white feathers along the western edge of the pond, probably the result of some recent Mute Swan skirmishes. There was just a pair of Herring Gulls along with a dozen or so Black-headed Gulls.

I found for the first time what appeared to be some Lesser Periwinkle in flower on the eastern side of the pond, immediately opposite the entrance to the caravan park. Its leaves were hairless which distinguished it from the more common Greater Periwinkle (Rose New Ed p. 352).


White Wagtail - comment from Ralph Hollins

Regarding the White Wagtail at Warblington Farm, Ralph Hollins confirmed this was another new bird for the site. However, he said Malcolm's photo of the bird (Mar 4) was certainly not a male, which is unmistakable, but the paleness of the back plumage makes it most likely to be a continental female.

However, this is a good early record as the first report of White Wagtail seen elsewhere was at Portland on Mar 4. See the web site at for good photos of White Wagtails. Although the numbers of White Wagtails in Hampshire which I quoted in the Mar 4 entry seems small Ralph is pretty sure that quite large numbers pass through southern England in both spring and autumn, but as it is difficult to pick out the continental birds in a mixed flock (especially in flight) the birds are lumped together as 'alba Wagtails'.

Osprey decoys - from Ralph Hollins

The Osprey decoys on the landing lights on the east side of North Thorney were the idea of Roy Dennis of the Highland Wildlife Foundation who is probably the UK's most experienced expert on Ospreys. For more information go to Roy's web site at . . .

Conservancy staff - from Ralph Hollins

Chichester Harbour Conservancy has a page on its website with the photos and job titles of all its staff including a nice shot of Barry Collins who is now based at Eames Farm and has the official title of 'Eames Farm and North West Deeps Warden'. See

Glossy Ibis is still present on Warblington Farm. In top corner close to hedge of field behind cemetery extn . Took off and circled several times before returning to original spot after being flushed by Sparrowhawk.

Two Scaup still present on Budds Farm Ponds yesterday. News from HOS -

Farlington news - from Bob Chapman

The Red-breasted Goose was there again and that there were two Spoonbills, in fact there were a few of these along the coast today so they must be on the move, probably to Holland after wintering in western France and Iberia.

Godwit News - from Pete Potts

Following my report of up to 250 Black-tailed Godwits feeding in 'Texaco Bay' at North Hayling, Pete said he had also been counting the Godwits at this site and logging the colour-ringed birds. At 16:00 yesterday (Mar 5) he counted 123 godwits either side of the Hayling Bridge and logged 16 colour-ringed combos. Earlier he counted 80 in Texaco bay and got 6 ringed birds. He also saw c.20 across near The Ship/Royal Oak and a handful by Hayling Oysterbeds and some below the sailing club.

Pete had 6 colour-ringed combos that I didn't see which means there are at least 28 ringed birds about. Finally, Pete confirmed my two queries as W+YN & W+RN which he saw well. Over the next 5-6 weeks he thinks we should get a load of sightings from this spot if we keep trying. Maybe we will get some birds that wintered further south.



I have been away for most of the day, but before I left this morning I had some interesting bird sightings from the windows. No photos of any of them, I'm afraid!


At about 8am this morning from the bedroom window, I saw what I am pretty sure was a Raven flying over the back gardens going north. It was black and of Buzzard size, certainly larger than a Carrion Crow or Rook. This was the first time I have ever seen a Raven in Emsworth, though Hampshire Bird Report states they are increasing in the county.

Blackcap song

Even better when I came downstairs and opened the back door was to hear the flutey song of a Blackcap, my first of the spring. I often hear Blackcap song from the garden at this time of the year and assume it is a wintering bird trying out its voice. Tony Wootton also had a male Blackcap in his garden today. So, maybe, just maybe, they could be early summer visitors?

Here is a photo of a male Blackcap singing which Richard Somerscocks got last year


About an hour later while having coffee, Jean and I spotted an unmistakable Sparrowhawk flying low across the garden. We watched it circle high overhead before settling in a tree. From its size I would guess it was a female.


Finally, we had a Goldcrest busily feeding in our neighbour's Silver Birch tree for the second day running. Goldcrest is not common in the garden, and good to see.


Siskins in garden

Caroline French had two Siskins on her feeders again and managed to photograph one of them. She says she needn't have bothered getting in any niger seed, as they were both feeding on sunflower hearts!

Another Brimstone

Like Tony Wootton, Caroline also saw her first Brimstone yesterday, this one near East Meon.

Warblington Farm

Malcolm Phillips went over to Warblington today and found the Glossy Ibis close to the path giving excellent close-up views for anyone who has not yet seen or photographed the bird. Whilst there Malcolm also saw a Chiffchaff, a Song Thrush and a male Pheasant all in the same field as the Ibis. Is it the Ibis or there something about this field that attracts all these birds? Or is it just lots of people watching? Curlew, Water Rail and White Wagtail have also been seen while the Ibis has been there.

Here is Malcolm's Chiffchaff which could be an early migrant, though it is impossible to say at this stage

Brook Meadow

Malcolm went back to Brook Meadow where he got yet another sighting of a Water Vole by the observation fence. He followed it all the way down to the south bridge which it swam under. Twenty mins later Malcolm saw what could have been the same Water Vole on its way back. This time it went to ground about 15yrds up from the deep water sign. Malcolm saw the Long-tailed Tits still collecting material for their nest and also noticed the first flowers coming out on the Marsh-marigold on the river bank in Palmer's Road Copse.



Slipper Millpond

Jean and I walked from home to Emsworth Marina this morning, passing Slipper Millpond on our way. The pond was very quiet with very few birds and hardly any gulls. The main birds of interest was a pair of adult Herring Gulls. Also, of interest was a Greenshank feeding in the low water Dolphin Lake to the west of the pond. I often see Redshank feeding in the lake, but very rarely a Greenshank.

Spotted Redshank

15:00 - Nore Barn. About 2 hours to high water and the tide well in with the stream filling The Spotted Redshank was on the mud near the stream when I arrived but flew over the saltmarshes to come to rest on the shore around the point to Nore Barn Creek. It was still there when I left at about 15:30.

Hairy Garlic leaves

Following negative reports by the Havant Wildlife Group and by Ralph Hollins I checked the usual spot for Hairy Garlic leaves on the northern path. Just a few leaves were showing, but not nearly so many as in previous years. There is a much better show of Hairy Garlic leaves on the path behind Lillywhite's Garage in Emsworth.

Herring Gull nest

I met a lady birdwatcher at Nore Barn who told me the pair of Herring Gulls that nested on the roof of house number 50 Selangor Avenue last summer were back there again. I checked on the way home, but did not see them.

First Brimstone

Tony Wootton had a male Brimstone butterfly over his Emsworth garden today. This is the first I have heard of. Spring has sprung !

Water Voles

Malcolm Phillips had a very good day for Water Voles on Brook Meadow. He saw his first at the north east corner just where the path from the meadow joins the river bank at 10.30am. The next one was opposite the Deep Water sign at 11.30am. Then he saw two more swimming together 30 yards up from the observation fence at 12.05pm and again at 1.45pm again opposite the deep water sign. At 11.15am Malcolm saw the Water Rail about 30yrds up from the south bridge on the east bank.


Black-tailed Godwits

14:30 - I went over to North Hayling again today to have another look at the Black-tailed Godwits in 'Texaco Bay'. I was about 2 hours later than yesterday and the tide was much higher resulting in fewer birds feeding in the bay.

However, they were a lot closer than yesterday and I was able to see the colour-rings more clearly. I counted 130, all actively feeding with lots of spurting clearly visible. Here is a photo of one bird I caught doing it.

I watched them for about 10 minutes before they all went up and flew east over the bridge onto the Northney shore. I had a look at them on the Northney shore, where I counted 220 plus a few more which were out of sight.

Over the two days I have logged a total of 22 colour-ringed godwits, most of them Farlington ringed birds. I have still to go through the list to check with my own records before sending them to Pete Potts.

Osprey Decoys

Ralph Hollins queries as to why plastic Ospreys were put in the man-made Osprey nest on one of the old landing light poles at Thornham Marshes on Thorney Island. The nest platforms are a good idea and should catch the keen eye of any Osprey visiting the area, but the plastic decoys, which must be firmly attached to the nests, would surely get in the way of any prospective nester. See Ralph's musings on . . .

Ed Rowsell from Chichester Harbour Conservancy explains

"The decoys are actually the idea of Roy Dennis of the Highland Wildlife Foundation, and have apparently been used successfully in other areas. The reasoning is that Osprey when settling in a new area seek confirmation that it is a suitable place to nest, with this in mind the artificial nests are made to resemble nests that were used in the previous season, i.e. filled up level to the top with material rather than formed into a nest bowl. The decoys are designed to add to this subterfuge, as Osprey are known to attempt to displace other pairs from nest sites. There are actually 2 platforms on the site and the decoys are installed in one, they are designed to be quickly removed if real birds are showing an interest. Out of interest the decoys are actually polystyrene, so will have a bit of give if an Osprey strikes them. They were created by one of our rangers. Just getting the platforms noticed by passing osprey would be a great starting point, we think it is worth a trial, this will be the first spring passage with the platforms in location. If anyone sees Osprey taking an interest in the platforms if they could let us know as soon as possible that would be great."



Following up a report on Feb 9 by Richard Jones (Portsmouth City's warden for Portsdown Hill) of a pair of Ravens taking an interest in the Paulsgrove Chalkpit area, and later of them nest building, Ralph Hollins visited the area on Feb 28 and (from a point around SU 636 067) saw one bird sitting on a nest built on the topmost arm of an electricity pylon and a second bird keeping a watchful eye on the nest from a perch on the cliff face where it could be seen at no more than 20 metres from where he was standing on the cliff top public path.
For more details, see Ralph's diary for Thu Feb 28 . . .

I went over to have a look at the nest this morning. It was easy to find, in fact, the nest of twigs can be seen clearly as one drives along the road in front of Forth Southwick. One bird was snug on the nest with only its head showing from time to time. There was no sign of the second bird while I was there. The nest is quite a long way from the path and is best seen with a telescope. I tried taking photos, but the very bright sun was almost directly behind the pylon, so the results were poor. Here is a record shot showing the location of the nest on the pylon.


I went on to Budds Farm to look for the two Scaup (male and female) that Ralph also saw on Feb 28, but I could not find them. There were plenty of other ducks on the pond, including 7 Pochard (6 male and 1 female) and 17 Tufted Duck on the western pond. There were hundreds of Dunlin feeding on the shore beneath the mound along with a few Brent Geese, but numbers are certainly well down.


My best experience of the morning was undoubtedly finding a large flock of 252 Black-tailed Godwits including a at least 12 colour-ringed birds in 'Texaco Bay' on North Hayling at about 12:30. This is a favourite spot for Godwits, but it was my first visit this winter (which is almost over). Here is just a few of them I got through my scope.

I have not had time to go through my colour-ringed photos, but will report on them later. Using the scope, I could see lots of 'spurting' from the feeding godwits, though I was too far away to capture any of the behaviour on camera. In among the godwits were two superb Shelduck.


My wife alerted me to the presence of a large Bumblebee resting on a white towel hanging on the line in our back garden. I am fairly sure it was a Buff-tail Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) from the single yellow bands on the thorax and abdomen and its whitish tail. Its size certainly suggested a queen which would be expected to emerge at this time of the year to set up a nest.

Brian Lawrence also saw what looks like a Buff-tail Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) feeding on Lungwort flowers in Lumley Road today. From the pollen sacks I would assume this was a worker providing for its nest, and what a worker from the size of its pollen sacks.


Glossy Ibis

Malcolm Phillips went to Warblington today to have another look at the Glossy Ibis and got the following splendid image of the bird showing its attractive green and purple glossy plumage from which it gets is name.

White Wagtail

As if the Ibis was not enough Malcolm also came away with a photo of what he was told was a White Wagtail, though he professed never having heard of the bird.

The White Wagtail was also reported on Hoslist in the field with the Ibis by Kevin Crisp who was probably the person who identified the bird for Malcolm. White Wagtail (ssp alba) is described in the Hampshire Bird Report as 'A scarce spring and autumn passage migrant'. In 2010 only 67 birds were reported in Hampshire between March 14th and May 4th, so the Warblington bird was a good sighting and early spring migrant.

Water Rail

No one reported the Water Rail at Warblington today, but on Saturday (Mar 2) Richard Fairbank saw two Water Rails in the Glossy Ibis field, plus a Fox out in the open. Take care Mr Ibis!


Red-breasted Goose on Thorney

Barry Collins reported that the Red-breasted Goose has been showing well over the past weekend on the airfield at Thorney Island with ca. 800 Dark-bellied Brent Geese which have been very restful all week and will soon be on there way back to their breeding grounds.

Blackbird song

Ralph Hollins reports that Blackbird song was first reported at Durlston on Jan 15 and in Emsworth on Jan 17 (by me), then again at Durlston on Feb 3. More recently song was heard in both Emsworth and Havant on Feb 25 and again at Emsworth on Feb 28 and several times subsequently by me. They are clearly starting up generally, though later than usual.

'Pink' Sweet Violets

On Feb 28 I found and photographed what I thought were the pink form of Sweet Violets that we regularly see in the western section of Nore Barn Woods. However, Ralph Hollins says what I saw were an intermediate form between the normal violet colour and the pure pink form. The pure pink flowers have been diminishing and may not appear this year (choked out by Ivy!). See Ralph Hollins's Weekly Summary at . . .



This afternoon, as I was walking down Seagull Lane towards the northern entrance to Brook Meadow, I met Graham Petrie, having had what he described as a 'wonderful birding day'. Not only did he get a good view of the Glossy Ibis at Warblington Farm, but had his best ever views of the Firecrest and the Water Rail near the observation fence on Brook Meadow. I have met so many people with the same story after seeing our beautiful birds. How good it is that Brook Meadow can provide such enjoyment. Graham's only disappointment was failing to see a Water Vole. Well, try, try again!

Mallard pair

A little way south of the north bridge I passed the 'resident' pair of Mallard swimming in the river. I assume the female will be nesting somewhere on the river bank and, hopefully, we can look forward to seeing her family of ducklings in the spring.

Water Rail

At about 3pm from the main path through Brook Meadow, I had an excellent view of the Water Rail, which was feeding on the river bank immediately beneath the observation fence. I watched it and took lots of photos for about 15 minutes before it moved into the mass of brambles to rest and preen.


A little later I met up with Ian Mears and Helen who had enjoyed a close-up sighting of the male Firecrest in Palmer's Road Copse. Here is a photo of what was probably the same bird taken by Malcolm Phillips (its 'best friend') earlier in the day.

Water Vole

My thanks to Ian and Helen for pointing out the presence of a Water Vole sitting happily on the west bank of the river opposite the observation fence where I was standing at the time. I watched it for a few minutes as it munched on vegetation. It also had a couple of quick plunges into the river before finally disappearing into the bank.

Malcolm had also seen what was probably the same Water Vole during his morning watch at the observation fence.


Mute Swans

The resident pair of Mute Swans were on Peter Pond this afternoon. There was no sign of the intruding pair of swans that caused such bother on Slipper Millpond yesterday.

Roy Hay asks if any work has been done to raise the nesting site of the Mute Swans on Peter Pond, as the nest has been flooded over the last few years. In fact, David Gattrell, who manages Peter Pond, has done a lot of work over the years in raising the level of the island and this can easily be seen from the road. However, last year the swans persisted in building their nest on a lower part of the island with the consequence that it became swamped by high spring tides and the eggs were lost.

This photo shows the swans trying to build up the level of the nest last year

Great Black-backed Gulls

The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls was back on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond, looking as if they intended to stay! There was no sign of the Lesser Black-backed Gull that was on the pond yesterday. Two's company three's a crowd!


Ros Norton reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group including a sighting of a Bittern.

For the full report go to . . .


For the second week running the Havant Wildlife Group turned up a rare bird. Their Bittern was not quite so rare and unexpected as the Glossy Ibis they had last week at Warblington Farm, but it was a good sighting nevertheless. A Bittern was previously reported by Geoff Lammas & Jude Barbour over West Trout Lake on the SOS Sightings web site on 19 Feb. Richard Somerscocks got the following photo of a Bittern in flight at Chichester Gravel Pits at this time last year. It could well have been the same bird that the group saw today.


Glossy Ibis

The Glossy Ibis was still showing well in the field on Warblington Farm where it was first seen last Saturday by members of the Havant Wildlife Group. Malcolm Phillips went over to have another look at it today. Alex Berryman reported that the Glossy Ibis was showing exceptionally well in a field south of the cemetery for half an hour this morning before returning to its favoured spot to the east of the cemetery extension. Here is Alex's super photo of the bird - the best I have seen by far.

Water Rail

Malcolm Phillips also saw a Water Rail in the same field as the Ibis. As far as I am aware, this was a first for this site. Ralph Hollins confirms that Water Rail is a new addition to the bird inventory of Warblington Farm - though he thinks it is more than likely that birds have visited with good habitat for them along the two streams plus the cress beds and marshy SSSI.


Yesterday's report of Siskins in Caroline French's garden prompted two replies. Mike West told me that his daughter, who lives at Liss, has had over a dozen Siskins on her garden feeders over the past month. Mike sent the following photo of a male Siskin on what looks like a sunflower heart feeder.

John Walton, who lives in the Cowplain end of Waterlooville, has had a Siskin visiting his sunflower heart feeders intermittently this year, including one this morning.



There was quite a lot of activity on Slipper Millpond when I walked round the pond this morning.

Mute Swans

The resident male Mute Swan from the Peter Pond pair was relentlessly pursuing what I assume was the male of an intruding Mute Swan pair. The resident male chased the intruder with the standard threatening posture of wings raised and head down.

The chase never got really violent, though there were several skirmishes.

The chase continued for the whole time I was present and was still going on when I left with the intruding swans still hanging on. A second pair of Mute Swans have nested on Slipper Millpond in previous years, though never successfully. We shall see what happens this year.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

A very fine adult Lesser Black-backed Gull in breeding plumage was on the south raft on Slipper Millpond. Note its bright yellow legs and feet, which clearly distinguishes it from the larger Great Black-backed Gull which has pink legs and feet. The very dark back of this bird suggests it is of the Danish race intermedius which breeds in SW Scandinavia. The birds of the British race graellsii has slate grey upper parts. Both races winter in Western Europe and south to West Africa, so can be seen in this area.

Little Grebes

Two Little Grebes were fishing in the southern part of the pond. I suspect they were a pair as I heard one of them giving the loud whinnying call. It would be nice if they stayed to nest on the pond, but my guess is that they are visitors from Thorney Little Deeps.

Little Egret

A watched a Little Egret fishing in Dolphin Lake which is adjacent to Slipper Millpond. It had fine breeding plumes which were much sought after for the costume trade in the 19th Century and which almost led to the extinction of this beautiful bird.


I walked back through Palmer's Road Copse where I met Malcolm Phillips who was having a good morning for birds. He had already seen the resident male Firecrest in the now regular area to the west of the main path through Palmer's Road Copse

Water Rail

Malcolm also had some fleeting glimpses of the equally resident, but elusive, Water Rail. While I was there the Water Rail showed itself several times as it slunk around in the tangled clump of brambles and ivy on the river bank just south of the observation fence. What a cracking bird this is. This is the best image Malcolm could get.

Long-tailed Tit

Malcolm got this excellent photo of a Long-tailed Tit collecting lichen for its nest. Birds of the Western Palearctic states that the nest of Long-tailed Tits is a compact, domed structure of moss woven with cobwebs and hair and covered on the outside with camouflaging greyish lichen. So that is what Malcolm's bird was collecting lichen for.

Water Vole

Malcolm got a good sighting of a Water Vole north of the sluice gate at about 12 noon. That was sighting number 45 for 2013 so far!


This morning at about 8am Caroline French had a single male Siskin on one of her garden feeders, and then, about an hour later, a single female Siskin turned up. This was the first time Caroline had seen Siskins in her garden in 6 years at the house. They were feeding on kibbled sunflower hearts, although she was tempted to supply some nyger seed as this is a favourite.

I have just checked my own garden bird records and I have only seen Siskins in Feb and Mar 2004. On one magical day I had three on the feeders! That must have been a good year. Here is my photo of a male on a peanut holder in March 2004.

Caroline added that the BTO are featuring Siskin as the March 'Bird of the Month' at They say, "The winter of 2012/13 already appears to be a bumper year for Siskins in gardens. From the sudden rise in garden activity, it looks as if stocks of sitka spruce and alder seed had become seriously depleted by early February. From previous years' data, we would not expect numbers to reach a peak until late in March, so this may be a good time to stock up on sunflower hearts or nyger seed!" So, please keep a good look out for them and let me know if you get any Siskins in your garden - with a photo if possible!

For earlier observations go to . . . February 16-28