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for MARCH 16-31 2013

in reverse chronological order

SUNDAY MARCH 31 - 2013



As Jean and I walked along Lumley Road this morning we had a great view of two Buzzards soaring over Peter Pond. One of the Buzzards was pursued by a Carrion Crow and swooped low down over our heads before disappearing over the houses towards Hermitage. This could well have been the bird that has been frequently seen on Brook Meadow over the past few weeks. Sorry no picture.

Great Black-backed Gulls

The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond, both sitting, but not, so far as I could see, on a nest. But, clearly they are back for a second nesting season!

Pair of Great Black-backed Gulls on the centre raft of Slipper Millpond

The full history of the gulls nesting on Slipper Millpond is on this special page . . . Great Black-backed Gull nesting


Spotted Redshank

I arrived at Nore Barn at about 13:00 which was two hours before high water. There was no sign of the regular Spotted Redshank in the stream and I think we can now safely assume that it has gone. My last sighting of it was on Mar 27 which was the latest last recorded date for the bird since it was first seen at Nore Barn in Dec 2004. For all the previous first and last sightings go to . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

The second Spotted Redshank which now has rapidly developing breeding plumage was on the pond at the top of the creek feeding with a unringed Greenshank. I do not recall having seen a Spotted Redshank in such advanced breeding plumage here in Emsworth before.

Spotted Redshank is fast developing its black breeding plumage - in the Nore Barn pond

Early Dog-violets

While walking back through Nore Barn Woods, I found a small patch of Early Dog-violet in flower beside one of the small paths in the centre of the wood. I do not recall having seen this plant at Nore Barn before. Early Dog-violet is distinguished from Common Dog-violet by its narrower upper petals, not overlapping, and looking rather like rabbit's ears (as described in Rose New Ed p.186). Also, its spur is darker than the petals, straight and unnotched. The spur of Common Dog-violet is curved, blunt and notched and often pale.

Early Dog-violet showing narrow upper petals looking like rabbit's ears

Early Dog-violet showing dark unnotched spur

Early Dog-violet is a very early flowering plant. Ralph Hollins recorded the first flowers on the self sown Early Dog-violets in his Havant garden on Jan 25, but they were not fully open until Feb 2. Meanwhile, Ralph noted the first Early Dog-violet flower in Havant Cemetery on Feb 11 with a mass flowering by Mar 6.


Malcolm's news

Malcolm Phillips went for a long walk today starting at Brook Meadow where he saw a Water Vole by the gas holder. That is the first sighting we have had from that location.

Water Vole swimming in the river below the gasholder on Brook Meadow

Malcolm then went to Nore Barn where he found a Common Redshank in the stream, looking remarkably like a Spotted Redshank. Malcolm's photo had me going for a while, but the relatively short bill with extensive red base was the give-away.

Common Redshank on the Nore Barn stream

He went onto Warblington, but there was no sign of the Glossy Ibis. I am pretty sure it has gone. While he was there Malcolm got this superb shot of a Fox which he says walking around as if he owned the field.

A beautiful Red Fox at Warblington Farm

Baffins Pond

Eric Eddles reports that a pair of Pochard (male and female) are still present on Baffins Pond. Eric apologises for the poor photo; the birds were far out by the central island. Pochard are a very infrequent visitors to Baffins Pond.

Male and female Pochard on Baffins Pond


Nore Barn

16:00 - 16:30 - About 3 hours after high water. There was no birds in the stream nor on the shore at the end of Warblington Road, not even the Greenshank. However, the second Spotted Redshank with the dark breeding plumage marks was on the pond in the field at at the top of the creek. I got the impression that the bird had been roosting there during the high water.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips had his daily walk around Brook Meadow. He saw but could not get a photo of the Great Spotted Woodpecker in the tree on the north path. However, he did get this nice shot of a Great Tit with food (for chicks, maybe?) at a nesting hole in one of the Crack Willow trees.

Farlington News

Mike Wells braved the freezing easterly winds to walk round Farlington Marshes yesterday and got a photo of a male Wheatear.

Bob Chapman in his regular blog said there were at least four Wheatears on the reserve yesterday, two males and two females. Bob has some cracking photos of the long-staying Red-breasted Goose which was looking very fine and much brighter than earlier in the winter. But, the Spoonbill, which has been on the reserve for the past three three weeks, has gone, though I hear no less than five were reported on Titchfield Haven earlier this week! Also noted by Bob were Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Black Brant, Raven, Little Ringed Plover and Marsh Harrier. Bob's blog at . . .

Another Firecrest

Brian Lawrence had a walk from Havant station along the Hayling Billy trail to Hayling this morning saw a Chiffchaff and yet another Firecrest, though this could have been the same bird that Peter Milinets-Raby saw on Mar 23 beside the trail near Lower Grove Road. Brian's Firecrest has the same yellow crest (indicating a female?) as that of Peter.

Wild flowers

Wild flowers are a bit scarce with all this cold weather. However, on Thursday Mar 28, Ralph Hollins found Green Hellebore in flower at the traditional site for this plant at the top of Woodlands Lane at Walderton. He also discovered the first Greater Stitchwort that I have heard of. This always flowers before the smaller flowered Lesser Stitchwort. See Ralph's daily diary for these and lots of other observations at . . .

FRIDAY MARCH 29 - 2013


I got down to Nore Barn at about 10:30 by which time the tide was well advanced and the stream filling up. The Greenshank was feeding alone as it was yesterday with no sign of the regular Spotted Redshank. I met Ian and Helen at Nore Barn who told me they had just seen the second Spotted Redshank (with partial breeding plumage) feeding in the pond at the top of the creek. This was surprising since I had not seen this second Spotted Redshank since Mar 24 and assumed it had moved on, but there it was with the distinctrive black breeding marks on its belly and flanks.

The presence of this second Spotted Redshank makes determining the last date for the regular Spotted Redshank is not quite so simple as in previous years. However, I am fairly sure that my last sighting of the regular Spotted Redshank (without the partial breeding plumage) was on Mar 27. However, I shall continue checking the area for the next few days just in case.


Jean and I went over to Ashling Wood near West Stoke to see if there were any Bluebells out. There had been a fine display of on March 27 last year, but today, although there was plenty of leaves, we could not find a single flower. I assume the cold weather has delayed their opening. However, we did see a few Wood Anemones along with lots of Dog's Mercury.

I counted just 26 nests in the Rookery at the eastern entrance to Stoke Wood, which is significantly fewer than my count of 44 at this time last year. It is also well down on my 2009 survey which found 42 nests.


Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow this morning in the hope of seeing the Water Vole with the injured eye, but no sign of it today. However, he did get a quick sighting of another one at the foot of the railway embankment in the north-east corner near the tunnel (Section A1).

Malcolm caught these two Woodpigeons in what looks like pretty passionate French kissing

and later on in full scale copulation.


NORE BARN - No Spotted Redshank

10:00 - 10:30 - Tide rising to high water at 12 noon. The tide was perfect for the Spotted Redshank - but it was not there! The Greenshank was feeding in the stream all alone! I walked to the top of the creek to check the pond in the field, but there was nothing there at all. The Spotted Redshank was still not there when I got back to the stream. So, has it finally left Emsworth? My last sighting was yesterday (Mar 27) at about 14:30. This is the latest last sighting in the 9 years I have been monitoring this bird. See the Spotted Redshank web page for all the previous first and last dates . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

Here is the lonely Greenshank

BROOK MEADOW - Injured Water Vole

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow early again today. The Song Thrush was singing as yesterday along with the Blue Tits on the north bank. As he walked back towards the north bridge Malcolm saw a Water Vole on the west bank and watched it as it ran along towards the railway embankment (Section A). Sadly, Malcolm's photo shows the Water Vole with a bad eye and damage to its fur. This could be due to a fight, but the eye could be diseased. Malcolm said the vole appeared to be moving OK.

Here is the eye in close-up

PETER'S WALK - Nore Barn to Warblington

Peter Milinets-Raby had his last walk of the season from Nore Barn to Warblington yesterday (Mar 27). The Spotted Redshank and the Greenshank were both in the stream at Nore Barn and the former was still there at 12:10 when Peter got back.

Also at Nore Barn were Brent Geese 79, Wigeon 11, Teal 35+, Little Egret 1, Rock Pipit 1. At Conigar Point were Pintail 17, Red Breasted Merganser 2, Greylag Goose 1, Shelduck 53, Wigeon 15, Brent Geese 10. At Pook Lane were Wigeon 51, Brent Geese 118.

Other observations. 3 to 7 Med Gulls in various fields, 9 Meadow Pipits flying north (seen, plus 5 others heard going over), 22 Redwing and 16 Song Thrush in the field next to Pook Lane, 7+ Stock Doves, 2 Buzzards, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Water Rail heard at the Ibis field (no sign of that again or the usual Curlew). It looks as if the Glossy Ibis has left. 6+ Chiffchaff by the stream here, plus a Willow Warbler (bird of the day just beating the Redwing).


I left the branch with the fungus that I collected from Hollybank Woods on Mar 19 for Ralph Hollins to have a look at. Here is his verdict. "The yellowish brackets at the thicker end of the branch fit the description of Tyromyces caesius (Phillips p 233) in having an upper surface covered with 'fine long hairs', in measuring 3cm across the bracket (within limits of 1 to 6 cm), and in having 3 or 4 pores per millimetre (though Buczacki says "Pores 4-5/mm, angular, finely toothed" and Phillips says "Pores 3-4 per mm, circular ..."


SUMMER MIGRANTS - arrive early

Ralph Hollins reports that despite the abnormally cold weather we are currently experiencing, summer migrant birds not only continue to arrive but they are turning up much earlier than usual. He has been astonished to see reports of Hobby and Swift in the past few days. Ralph has assembled a list of the migrants with their arrival dates.
See . . .

GARDEN BIRDS - up during cold snap

BTO reports a big increase in garden birds over the recent cold spell. The most remarkable increase has been in the Siskin, which visited almost two in five gardens last week - its highest reporting rate since 1995. Others showing a big increase over the past two weeks are Woodpigeon, Long-tailed Tit, Fieldfare, Redwing, Goldfinch, Chaffinch,Jackdaw, Blackbird and Robin.

BTO says the current cold snap could not have come at a worse time for birds. Late winter is a period when natural foods are scarce. Seeds and fruits that were abundant during autumn have been depleted over winter, while many insects - which are cold-blooded and, therefore, are slower to emerge when the weather is cold - are yet to appear this year. Amidst the unseasonably cold conditions, many birds are being forced to postpone nesting activities and, instead, to focus on survival. 

BUTTERFLIES - 2012 a disaster year

Butterfly Conservation reports that 2012 was the worst year for UK butterflies since records began, with 52 out of the 56 species monitored suffering declines. Some of our rarest species, such as the fritillaries, bore the brunt of the second wettest year on record and now face the real threat of extinction in some parts of the UK. Last year's relentless rain and cold created disastrous conditions for summer species in particular, as they struggled to find food, shelter and mating opportunities; butterfly abundance plummeted to a record low as a result and 13 species suffered their worst year on record. Many common species struggled. The Common Blue plummeted by 60%, the Brown Argus collapsed by 73% and the Large Skipper fell by 55%. 'Whites', including Green-veined White, Large White and Small White, saw their populations tumble by more than 50%. The Orange-tip fell by 34% and the alarming slide of Small Tortoiseshell continued, with its population slipping 37% from 2011 figures.

See . . . 


Brent Geese

As I was driving along the promenade at Eastney this morning I saw several groups of Brent Geese flying in from the sea and onto the grassland in front of the Teapot Row houses. I stopped to look at the flock feeding on the grass and counted 550. This is a popular feeding area for Brent Geese during the winter but I was surprised to see them so late in the year.

I took this photo of the flock of Brent Geese from behind the railing at the western entrance

Canoe Lake

I also counted 24 Mute Swans on Canoe Lake which is the most I have seen there for many years. I used to do regular weekly counts of the swans from 1996 to 2005 with a peak count of 94 in Year 2000. But numbers fell dramatically in 2005 and there have been only a handful since then - until now! See details of my earlier counts at . . . Canoe Lake, Southsea

Baffins Pond

This is another site where I used to do regular counts in the 1990s and 2000s. I had a walk round the pond this morning, admiring the newly planted wetland areas which provide a very good habitat for the wildlife. I was pleased to meet up with Eric Eddles who lives near the pond. He said he would send me a regular bulletin of sightings. I managed to locate one of the three Water Rails that have been regularly seen on the pond this winter in the wetland area to the south of the pond.

Here is one of the Water Rails - Yes it really does come that close!


I counted 24 Shoveler on the pond, unusually there were more males than females. These birds are usually in pairs. I am sure Baffins must be the most reliable place to see plenty of Shoveler throughout the winter in our area.

There was also a pair of Mute Swans which regularly nest on the island and the pair of Embden Geese. Other birds included 4 Canada Geese, 64 Tufted Ducks and many Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. Plus the usual gulls and c150 Feral Pigeons being fed at the side of the pond.


Spotted Redshank

Nore Barn - 14:00 - 14:30 - High water at 12:14 falling. The stream was still fairly full but the regular Spotted Redshank was present feeding among the seaweed.

I checked the pond at the top of the creek, but there was nothing there. The second Spotted Redshank (with breeding plumage) appears to have moved on. When I got back to the stream the Spotted Redshank was feeding with a Greenshank on the shore. I counted 16 Teal and 6 Wigeon plus 13 Brent Geese.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow at 8.30am today. He got a nice shot of a Song Thrush singing away.

Then about 1.30pm he saw a Kingfisher flash past while up at the north bank. No sign of any Water Voles. But he did see a Chiffchaff again. 

Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler?

Peter Milinets-Raby responded to my request for help in identifying the warbler photos from Brook Meadow in yesterday's blog. He said the bird was a Chiffchaff because; 1. Drab supercillium, 2. Distinct crescent under eye, 3. Black (dark) legs (the soles of the feet can often appear pale), 4. Short dark bill, 5. Primary projection too short for Willow Warbler - In Chiffchaff the length of the exposed primaries is roughly half the length of the tertials (top three feathers nearest the mantle). In Willow Warbler the primaries are the same length or more than the tertials. He says all these features clearly visible in the Malcolm's first photo on the blog.

Peter includes a photo of a Chiffchaff he had in his garden today. He has marked the primary projection for our benefit. Thanks.

Here is Malcolm's photo from yesterday with the projection marked in the same way.



Nore Barn

I got to Nore Barn at about 12:30pm which was a about 2 hours after high water. The tide was still well in and the stream full. However, the regular Spotted Redshank (without the black breeding marks) was feeding among the seaweed on the edge of the stream. The very cold easterly winds are forecast to continue for the rest of this week which suggests it may be around for a while yet.

I walked to the top of the creek to check the pond, but the only bird feeding there was a unringed Greenshank with no sign of the second Spotted Redshank. Birds numbers in the creek were well down with only 13 Brent Geese and 2 each of Wigeon and Teal.


I counted 22 nests in the Rookery behind the flats in Victoria Road opposite the entrance to the Emsworth Primary School.

Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler?

Distinguishing these two very similar warblers on appearance alone is very difficult. As soon as they sing or even call then the difference is obvious, but until then things are tricky. However, both Malcolm Phillips and Brian Lawrence got very good photos of what could be Chiffchaffs or Willow Warblers on Brook Meadow today which deserve close attention. Basically, the books tell us to look at several features to distinguish these birds. The Willow Warbler has pale legs, whereas the Chiffchaff has dark legs is probably the best indication. The Willow Warbler also has longer wings than the Chiffchaff which show up as a longer primary projection.

We can only see one leg on Malcolm's first photo which looks dark. However, the primary projection looks fairly long which could indicate Willow Warbler.

The legs are shown clearly on Malcolm's second photo with the bird upending - something I have not seen before. The left leg looks dark, but the right leg is pale. I don't know what to make of that! However, it does show very pale underparts which is said to be a feature of the Willow Warbler.

Brian Lawrence's cute photo shows the bird with very yellow face and breast which is also said to be characteristic of Willow Warbler.

In general the features shown in the photos could indicate Willow Warbler but my doubts remain as they have not yet arrived in any numbers from their wintering grounds and they are, after all, very rarely seen on Brook Meadow. I would appreciate any help from people more experienced in identifying these two birds.

Ralph Hollins comments in his recent weekly summary . . . "With Chiffchaffs now present and singing almost everywhere, I have only seen 6 reports of Willow Warbler with the first report from south Devon on Mar 13. The latest report on Mar 23 comes from the Lymington Marshes and is the first from anywhere east of Dorset."

MONDAY MARCH 25 - 2013

Bumblebee in Lumley Road

I met Fred Portwin in Lumley Road Emsworth and he showed me a bird's nest in an ornamental fir tree in his front garden. We were not sure what nest it was though I thought it could have been a Blackbird's. While we were there we spotted what looked like a Buff-tail Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) feeding on the Lungwort flowers. The fact that it had no pollen sacs on its legs suggests it was probably a queen feeding, unlike the worker photographed by Brian Lawrence in the same area on Mar 4 which had full pollen sacs.

Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond

The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were back on Slipper Millpond this morning, with one bird on the south raft and its mate on the water nearby. The centre raft was occupied by two Cormorants. The first nest build last year was not until Apr 24, so they have plenty of time.

Spotted Redshank breaks records

I got to Nore Barn Emsworth at 12 noon which was about 2 hours after high water. The stream was still fairly full but, what I assume was the regular Spotted Redshank (without the black plumage marks), was feeding in the muddy shore much as usual. I got a couple of photos of the bird catching what is probably a Common Ragworm. However, the worm looked very hairy and I am including these two photos just in case anyone has any other ideas as to what it might be.

I walked to the top of the Nore Barn creek to have a look at the pond in the field over the seawall, but there was no sign of the second Spotted Redshank which has been here on several occasions over the past week or so. When I got back to the stream at about 12:30 the regular Spotted Redshank was feeding around the seaweed on the shore at the end of Warblington Road in company with a Greenshank.

This is now the latest last date for the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn, the previous one being 24-Mar-10. This bird has also been present at Nore Barn for much longer period this winter than in any previous year. I first recorded it on 09-Oct-12 which means it has been present for exactly 23 weeks. See all the first and last dates at . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

Other birds at Nore Barn were 24 Teal at the top of the creek with a few Wigeon. Only about 20 Brent Geese.

Chiffchaff on Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips had a quick look round the meadow this afternoon. He saw a bird on the river bank that he thought at first was the Firecrest as it was moving in the same way. However, it turned out to be a Chiffchaff and Malcolm got the following rather nice photo of it. This is very likely to be a summer migrant.

Redwing at Fishbourne

Roy Hay counted 12 Redwing on Fishbourne Meadows this morning. Roy apologised for the quality of the photo, but it is fine as everything we needed to see shows well and is quite atmospheric!

Mute Swans nesting at Langstone

Ralph Hollins found the Langstone Pond Swan was sitting on her nest as he went past today, He suspects the Budds Farm bird was also sitting although he could not spot her and assume she may have a new nest site. There is no sign of anything happening as yet on Peter Pond here in Emsworth.

Ravens and Peregrines on Portsdown Hill

Ralph Hollins reported in his weekly summary that there was a bit of aggro on Mar 19 between the Peregrines which have just returned to their established nest site on the Paulsgrove Chalk Pits (Portsdown Hill) and the pair of Ravens which started building a nest there on Feb 28 and have been sitting for about a month. Ralph thinks they will learn to co-exist as they do not contend for the same food and the nests are well separated.

SUNDAY MARCH 24 - 2013


12:00 - I got the tide time wrong this morning due to the official Tide Tametable having brought the start of British Summer Time forward by one week! However, the regular Spotted Redshank was present in the stream despite the low water, thus equalling the record last sighting date in 2010. See all the first and last dates at . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

The other Spotted Redshank with the dark markings on its chest and flanks was feeding on the pond at the top of the creek. If this one stays any longer we shall be seing it in full breeding plumage! See on the right below.

I have arranged the photos side by side for comparison with the stream bird on the left and the pond bird on the right

Other birds

A Common Redshank was also feeding at the top of the Nore Barn creek. The only other waders I saw were a Curlew, a Grey Plover and a couple of Oystercatchers. About 150 Teal were clustered in the creek along with fewer Wigeon and 50 Brent Geese.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow at 10.15am today. The Water Rail was again just under the observation fence.

He did a walk round the meadow, but there was not much to see other than a Chiffchaff by the gas holder. In the north east corner Malcolm noticed there was a new sign on one of the Crack Willow trees reading 'Danger Keep Off' I wonder who put that there and why. On the way back there was nothing to be seen except children looking for Easter Eggs.

Red Kites

Tony Wootton saw two Red Kites flying over Goodwood racecourse about noon today.


Spotted Redshanks

10:30 - About 2 hours after high water. Weather dull with a very cold easterly wind blowing. Two Spotted Redshanks were together on the point shore to the west of the stream. A Common Redshank was also nearby, though I think it had been driven off. After a few minutes, one of the two Spotted Redshanks took off and flew west up the creek. I found it about 5 minutes later feeding in the small outlet stream at the top of the creek.

I managed to get some fairly close photos of this bird which was clearly showing signs of its black breeding plumage coming through on its chest and flanks. The bird has a clump of mud stuck on its foot.

When I arrived back at the stream, the other Spotted Redshank was feeding on the shingle shore with a Greenshank. With this cold easterly wind due to continue for a few more days, I can see these birds remaining here well past the previous last recorded date of Mar 24 in 2010.

Hayling Billy Trail

This afternoon Peter Milinets-Raby and his wife walked down the Hayling Billy Trail from Havant Town centre to the Hayling Bridge and back. On the way they spotted a Firecrest feeding along the trickle of water beside the trail near Lower Grove Road. It was still there roughly an hour later when they were on their way back - opposite house number 24. The yellow crest on Peter's photo suggests it is a female; however, as we have found with the Brook Meadow Firecrests, one cannot always rely on photos to give an accurate colour. It is amazing how many Firecrests have been around this winter. Today, Dick Senior reported on the SOS Sightings that he had a Firecrest in his Emsworth garden this week following two previous records (a single in December and a pair at the end of November).

Other birds of interest included 16 Siskin in one of the tall trees before the main Hayling Road, 3 Chiffchaffs moving up the stream and a Mute Swan sitting on a nest on Langstone Mill Pond. On the opposite side of the bridge beside the Billy Trail were 200+ Dunlin, 70 Black-tailed Godwits and 13 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Pulborough Brooks

To see Tony Wootton's report on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group go to Reports 2013 on the Havant Wildlife Group web site.

FRIDAY MARCH 22 - 2013

Spotted Redshank still here

10:00 - Tide falling about 2 hours after high water. The Spotted Redshank was feeding very actively in quite deep water in the stream, sometimes immersing almost its whole body under the water.

I also have some photos of the bird apparently 'spurting' water from its bill.

I walked to the end of the creek where a single unringed Greenshank was feeding in the stream that comes from the pond. However, there was no sign of the second Spotted Redshank either in the creek or on the pond. The latest date for the Spotted Redshank is 24 March 2010 and this could well be beaten this year. There was still plenty of Teal in the creek along with a few Wigeon and Brent Geese.

Water Rail

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow at 11.45am today and got a good view of the Water Rail just by the observation fence. This was a good sighting as our last one was over a week ago on Mar 13 and I thought it might have gone. However, Malcolm has had no further sightings of the Firecrests and it looks as if they have departed, probably for breeding grounds on the Continent.


Resupinate fungus defined

Ralph Hollins has been delving into the literature to get a definition of resupinate which I incorrectly applied to the fungus from Hollybank Woods on Mar 13. Ralph found one in Stefan Buczacki's Collins New Generation Guide. In a section on 'Pore Bearing Members of the Polypores', Stephan says .. "Some species adopt a fruit body form called resupinate where they are flattened against the surface on which they grow, and spread widely and irregularly in a manner called effused ... Sometimes the margin of a resupinate fruit body is curled upwards and outwards; this is described as effuso-reflexed". So now we know! Used in a general way the term apparently just means upside down.

Here is an image I got from the internet of an unidentified resupinate fungus to illustrate this definition



Conservation work session

I went over to the meadow this morning mainly to take photos of the conservation work session. The main task was clearing dead vegetation from the south meadow and repairing the gravel path which had been damaged during recent bad weather.

The full report along with more photos will shortly appear on the Brook Meadow web site at . . .


I was walking down the main river path with Patrick Murphy when we both spotted a Buzzard flying across the meadow from the Lumley area going north towards the railway line. It had probably been disturbed by the volunteers gathering at the Lumley gate. This is probably the same bird that has been seen several times over the past couple of weeks. Pam Phillips told me she regularly sees it in the centre line of Willows during her early morning walk through the meadow at about 7.30am. Later I met Mike Wells who had also seen the Buzzard in the trees on the east side of the north meadow, but it was chased off by a pair of Carrion Crows and flew over the railway towards Constant Springs.


The flower spurs of Butterbur are now showing prominently on the river bank and on the embankment in front of the seat. I particularly like the spikes when they are just emerging from the star-shaped casing.

The flowers seem to be slower this year and most are probably not quite large enough to count. However, I would hope to do the regular annual count in the next week or so weather permitting.


Spotted Redshanks

I did my daily check of the Spotted Redshank at about 4pm this afternoon - about 3 hours to high water. The weather was wet and cold and conditions were nasty for photography. There was nothing in the stream when I arrived so I made my way up to the end of the creek to check the pond in the field over the seawall. A Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank were on the pond. When I returned to the stream I found a Spotted Redshank and an unringed Greenshank feeding together. I am not sure which Spotted Redshank was which, but clearly they are both still present.

Colour-ringed Greenshank

The Greenshank on the pond was colour-ringed - RW+BflagY. I have no previous records of this one, though Peter Milinets-Raby did see it yesterday at Conigar Point. See Peter's report below. The record has been sent to Anne de Potier who now manages the Greenshank colour-ringed sightings. Pete Potts replied that this is one of 3 Greenshanks they caught this week at Thorney and fitted geolocators to the blue rings.

Geolocators record changes in light levels. The smallest are archival types that do not use satellite or radio telemetry and recapturing the bird is necessary to retrieve the device to download the data to a computer for analysis. The disadvantage of having to recapture is offset by the miniature size to which archival loggers can be made. By using low power design techniques and data compression they can record data for long periods of time. For more detail on geolocators see . . .



Peter Milinets-Raby did his regular walk from Nore Barn to Warblington and back yesterday. He started at 6:55am at Nore Barn on a falling tide. Peter's impressive bird list just demonstrates the value of an early start and timing the tide.

Nore Barn creek held the following: 2 Spotted Redshank (the pale bird was in the stream this time, with the other in the creek), 195 Teal, 37 Wigeon, 39 Brent Geese, 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover. When he returned at 9:30am there was nothing to be seen in the creek except for a few Wigeon!

At Conigar Point: Skylark heard singing inland from here, plus 2 Chiffchaff singing. 15 Pintail, 1 Med Gull, 82 Shelduck, 43 Teal, 32 Wigeon, 128 Brent Geese, 4 Turnstone, 3 Grey Plover, 310+ Dunlin, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, Greenshank with colour rings RW on left leg BY on right. (PS: I have no Emsworth records for this one)

At Pook Lane: 120+ Dunlin, 2 Med Gull, 59 Brent Geese, 6 Shelduck, 5 Grey Plover, Greenshank with colour rings RG on left leg, YY on right. (PS: My last Emsworth record for this one was on 18-Dec-08. Good to see it is still going strong!).

No sign of Glossy Ibis on Warblington Farm, just the 'tethered' Curlew and 6 Moorhens.


Peter Milinets-Raby said he loved the photos of the mosses on last night's blog and says he has been trying to get photos of all 26 Bryophytes that botanist John Norton found in his garden. Not an easy task, but as Peter says, they are lovely things to photograph. Here is one Peter sent me (not identified!) that I particularly liked. My advice is just look and take pleasure in their beauty.

Herring Gulls

Frank Naylor is sure the gulls that he photographed on the roof in Markway Close on Mar 18 are a pair of Herring Gulls as both have a red spot on their bills. The larger male has been on his own the last two days and he was up on the roof making a racket as Frank sent the message. When together they behave like a pair and other gulls are soon chased off. I have asked Frank to keep a look out for any nesting.



Railway Wayside

I spent over an hour this morning doing a massive litter pick on the new Railway Wayside. There is a serious encroachment of Brambles which needs urgent attention before they engulf the whole site. I found a Coltsfoot in flower which is a new one for this wayside.

For the full report and photos go to . . .


15:00 - I did my daily check on the Spotted Redshank about 2 hours to high water. Both of the Spotted Redshanks were present, one on the shore at the end of Warblington Road and the other first at the top of Nore Barn Creek and then on the pond in the field. There was no sign of the Greenshank today. Only twice in the past nine years has the last sighting date of the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn been later than this; 22-Mar-07 and 24-Mar-10.

Spotted Redshank in Nore Barn stream / / / / / / / Spotted Redshank in Nore Barn creek

A Little Egret was feeding in the stream. I have not seen that for a while. There were far more geese and ducks on the water than yesterday with around 40 Brent Geese, 50 Teal and 30 Wigeon. Walking round Conigar Point I could see a large flock of several hundred Brent Geese in the air over Hayling Island, no doubt preparing for migration.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips went round Brook Meadow this morning. The first thing he saw was a Buzzard in the trees in the middle of the meadow. This is clearly the bird that has been seen several times on the meadow in the past two weeks, but the first photo we have.

He then had yet another Water Vole just up from the north bridge. This is our 66th sighting of 2013. Amazing!


Spoonbill at Farlington

Colin Vanner got this rather fine image of the long-staying Spoonbill on Farlington Marshes this evening. Look at those plumes.


Puzzling Herring Gulls

Tom Bickerton and I are puzzled by the photo of two 'Herring Gulls' on the roof of a house in Markway Close sent in by Frank Naylor

The right hand bird certainly looks like a Common Gull with soft dark eyes, rounded head and no red on bill. However, the left hand bird looks like a Herring Gull. What is puzzling is the two birds appear to be the same size, but the Herring Gull should be much bigger. Tom says the female Herrings are about 10% smaller than males, but the one on the left does look petite. The Common Gull on the right does look large, but he thinks it could be an optical illusion. Sometimes seeing the bird in real light is the only option. Our best option is to go along with Frank's identification as he was the only one to actually see the birds!

Garden birds

Leslie Winter writes "your blog continues to make interesting reading for Mary and myself in Cumberland Avenue (near Greville Green). We have also had a pair of Siskins as per another reader, four to eight Starlings feed every day, usually within minutes of my topping up the feeders with meal worms. We have also had a female Blackcap as a daily visitor, together with a beautiful Robin, lots of Blue Tits, a couple of Long-Tailed Tits, several pairs of Blackbirds and the bird in the attached photograph which we are hesitating to identify - so hope you can help."

Leslie's photo shows a Dunnock which is a fairly common garden bird, but is surprisingly difficult to identify as it tends to be rather more skulking than the others. It is unusual to see it so prominent as in Leslie's photo.  

First Moorhen chicks

Roy Hay sent me the following photo of a Moorhen with two chicks in the small stream below the block of flats north of Fishbourne Meadows on March 19th. The first Moorhen chicks of the year maybe?



Mosses are often overlooked, but they are often very beautiful and are present throughout the year. Jill Stanley sent me this photo of a lovely Tortula ruralis moss growing in her garden in North Emsworth.

Jill says it crops up in a number of places, particularly on bricks and on her stone patio. It only grows to about 1cm tall, including the capsules, so it is really tiny! Its common name is star moss and it has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring in North America, the Pacific, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North and South Africa, South America, and Australia. It grows in many types of climate and habitats.

I too found a nice moss with distinctive green drooping capsules on red stalks growing on the Washington Road path wayside. I think it may be Bracythecium rutabulum.


Mystery fungus

Ralph Hollins says I have got it all wrong about the fungus from Hollybank Wood. He pointed out that what I have in my new photo (see yesterday's entry) " . . . is not a resupinate (which is attached to the substrate rather like Sellotape with no particular stem), but a bracket with a clear horizontal stem, best shown in the small specimens at the bottom left of your picture though hidden from view in the larger examples."

Ralph says he can't name the fungus - the typical example of this type of zoned bracket is the Turkey Tail (Coriolus versicolor) but he has never seen that in this yellow/white form. Ralph suggests it could be what is shown on page 105 of Michael Jordan's Encyclopedia as Trametes ochracea. Putting this name into Google certainly produces lots of images resembling the Hollybank Woods fungus.



14:00 - About 2 hours to high water. Spotted Redshank was feeding on the edge of the stream. As yesterday, another Spotted Redshank was feeding in company with a Greenshank in the pond at the top of the creek. Interestingly, the Spotted Redshank on the pond had exactly the same feather moulting pattern as that in the one I photographed in the Nore Barn stream on Mar 15 and Mar 17. The Spotted Redshank in the stream today did not have this pattern and was like the one I had here yesterday. This suggests, not unsurprisingly, that the two Spotted Redshanks occasionally swop feeding areas. This makes it unclear which Spotted Redshank I am looking at in the stream, the regular one, or the new one?

Here is the Spotted Redshank in the Nore Barn pond showing the flight feathers moulting

Other birds in the Nore Barn area included 42 Brent Geese, 2 Wigeon and 20 Teal.


15:00 - I went to the woods this afternoon to have another look at the lichen and fungus growing on the Silver Birch tree on the old Holly Lodge clearing. My previous visit was on Mar 13.

Lichen - Usnea subfloridana

Ralph Hollins pointed out that my photo taken on Mar 13 could have been one of two Usnea species depending on the colour of the main stem. This was not clear in the original photo. U. subfloridana is black at the base of the stem where it joins the tree whereas U.cornuta stem is grey/green throughout. I looked very closely at several specimens of this fruticose lichen on the Birch and I am fairly certain that the base of the stem is back which suggests the species is Usnea subfloridana. The black base does not show well on the photos taken in the field, but it does show clearly when viewed in a microscope. Here is a photo I took through my microscope at magnification x20 showing the black base.

Fungus - Hairy Stereum (Stereum hirsutum)

My first guess for the fungus on the Birch in Hollybank Woods was Yellow Brain Fungus, but Ralph Hollins thought this was unlikely and preferred a Stereum species. Today, I noticed that the fungus was growing on a dead twig which was just resting on the main tree, so I knocked it down to get a better look. The twig broke into two pieces when it fell so I took one home with me leaving the other beneath the tree. Having had a close look at the fungus I am fairly sure Ralph was right and it is Hairy Stereum (Stereum hirsutum).

I think what confused me about this fungus was that it was growing upside down! The fruiting body was facing away from the branch it was growing on and this is what I photographed on Mar 13. This is technically called resupinate. Roger Phillips in his book (p.236) indicates that the fruiting body of Hairy Stereum is occasionally resupinate. This spore bearing surface is initially bright yellow but fades to grey-brown. It was still pretty bright today as shown in the following photo.

Here is a photo of what should be the upper surface which is zoned and hairy


Where are they all? As it was such a fine and relatively warm day, I was really expecting to see one or two at least. I had a good look around everywhere I went, including Hollybank Woods, but nothing despite sunny glades. However, Peter Milinets-Raby did have a Comma butterfly in his garden.

Here is Peter's photo of the Comma just in case you had forgotten what it looks like


Malcolm had a good day. First, on Brook Meadow where he had two Water Vole sightings, one on the north bank at 11.45am (Section A1) then another Water Vole just up from the north bridge at 12.15am (Section A).

Malcolm also saw a Great Tit at the hole in the tree on the north bank. We have seen one here in previous years.

From there Malcolm went over to Warblington Farm where the Glossy Ibis was in the bottom right hand side of the field by the cemetery extension. A Chiffchaff was also close by.

Finally, he went Hayling Island and by the golf course saw the Kestrel on his box.

MONDAY MARCH 18 - 2013


I had a good start to the day with Goldcrest and female Blackcap in the garden, but both too briefly for a photo. The Blackcap will be a wintering bird. I was interested to see a Starling going into a hole under the eaves of next door's roof. Starlings always used to nest in this roof until a couple of years ago and I hope they try again this year. We very rarely see Starlings around the garden. Blue Tits have also been investigating our 'House Sparrow' nest boxes. They have nested there once or twice in the past, but not for a few years. They usually look but don't stay.

Peter Milinets-Raby has had a Black Redstart in his garden several times in the past week. Despite this, Peter tells me his garden is usually devoid of birds! However, he has seen a good number of rare ones flying overhead, including Alpine Swift, Black Kite, Red Kite, Raven, Med Gull, Hobby, Honey Buzzard, Peregrine and Sandwich Tern, which make up for the lack of birds actually in the garden!


There was plenty of bird song this morning, including two Song Thrushes, but no migrants as yet. A Bumblebee flew past me on the north path, but I did not get a good enough look at it for identification. The white fluffy buds of Goat and Grey Willow are starting to open.

The Osiers on the east side of the north meadow are now showing their yellow catkins. They are always the first of the Willows to open. Tufts of Hard Rush leaves are showing well in the orchid area on the north meadow. There is plenty of foliose lichen on the twigs of the Willows, most of it bright yellow, but some grey-green in colour. Not sure which one it is.


A pair of Mute Swans was on Slipper Millpond, which I assume was the regular pair from Peter Pond. There were no swans on Peter Pond. Interestingly, one of the birds was a 'Polish' variety with pale pink legs and feet. I am aware that a Polish Swan has attempted unsuccessfully to nest on Slipper Millpond several times in recent years and it will be interesting if she (I think it was the pen) manages to nest on Peter Pond.

A pair of Coot was very active around the nest box on the northern raft on Slipper Millpond where they regularly nest each year. However, I do not think they had built the nest as yet. There was no sign of the Great Black-backed Gulls.


14:00 - The tide was well in when I arrived with about 2 hours to high water. The regular 'dark' Spotted Redshank was feeding on the edge of the stream. Interestingly, the birds feathers were fairly well in place today, unlike yesterday when there appeared to be distinct signs of moulting. Maybe the loose feathers have been shed?

I walked to the top of the creek where I found the much paler plumaged Spotted Redshank feeding in the pond in the field in company with a Greenshank. These two birds have been seen here for the past three days.

Amazingly, apart from a few Black-headed Gulls and a single Teal, there were no other birds in the Nore Barn area! Have they all moved off towards their breeding grounds?


Frank Naylor wonders if the Herring Gulls which appear to be nesting again in Selangor Avenue, might be the same pair that visit Markway Close every day to feed on scraps left put out in a garden nearby. Frank sent me this photo of the pair on a roof. I drove along Selangor Avenue this afternoon and noticed a pair of Herring Gulls on the roof of house number 66. I think they nested on the roof of number 50 last year.

Tony Wootton saw a Red Kite flying over Westbourne on Sunday morning (Mar 17).


New Forest - Lymington

Tony Wootton reported on Saturday's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. See . . . Havant Wildlife Group

SUNDAY MARCH 17 - 2013

Spotted Redshank

I did my daily check on the Spotted Redshank at about 12:30. The tide was rising to high water at about 15:00 and the stream was already quite full of water. When I arrived the Spotted Redshank was snoozing on the edge of the stream, but it quickly moved into action and I was able to get some good photos which show more evidence that the bird is moulting with flight feathers being shed from both wings. The first photo shows a feather hanging out on the bird's left wing.

Apparently, moulting in birds is timed to coincide with periods of less strenuous demands, such as after nesting or before migration; so moulting in the Emsworth Spotted Redshank as it gets ready to leave for its breeding grounds in Northern Scandinavia is to be expected, though I do not recall having seen moulting in previous years. This must be the bird's partial pre-nuptial moult. This photo shows a several feathers moulting on the bird's right wing.

Ralph Hollins pointed out to me that two of the famous 'Three Amigos' birdwatching group visited Nore Barn yesterday (Mar 16). They saw both the local Spotted Redshanks, the regular one in the Nore Barn stream and the other Paler bird with a Greenshank in the pool behind the sea wall at the top of Nore Barn Creek. Peter Milinets-Raby also saw the birds at these locations the previous day on Mar 15. Interestingly, I had to look fairly closely at their photo of the Nore Barn bird to see the moulting flight feather that was so obvious today. See . . .

News and photos of the Emsworth Spotted Redshank is on the dedicated web page at . . . Spotted Redshanks

Black Redstart

Peter Milinets-Raby had a Black Redstart in his back garden again today. It popped in on four occasions and Peter was pleased to get a half decent photo through the back window as it sulked around the patio. This was much better than his previous effort on March 15.

Peter does quite well for Black Redstarts in his garden. Previously, he had one on 1 Nov 2012. Black Redstart is rarely seen in gardens despite being extremely common in towns in many parts of Europe. Black Redstarts breed mainly on the Continent and are seen in the South of England as scarce passage migrants. Peter's bird is probably one that stopped off on its way to back to its breeding grounds. 


Sparrowhawk drama

Ian Mears witnessed one of the most dramatic wildlife spectacles in his Northney garden this morning when he saw a Sparrowhawk take a Starling. I shall never forget those rare occasions when I have seen the same thing in my garden. From its large size and clear barring my guess is that the Sparrowhawk was a female. And what a great supercilium she has!

Spotted Redshank

Ian Mears also had the pleasure of seeing the famous Emsworth Spotted Redshank all on its own in the Nore Barn stream at 12:40. This was a useful sighting as I was not able to get to Nore Barn to do my daily check as I had family down to stay. The bird's departure from our area must be fairly close now. The latest recorded date at Nore Barn was Mar 24 in 2010.

Water Rails at Baffins

Eric Eddles reports the presence of three Water Rail on Baffins Pond; one in the east reed bed with the trees and the two others in the south reed bed, all showing very well.

Emsworth - Warblington

Peter Milinets-Raby certainly picks some bad days to do his regular Emsworth to Warblington walk. Yesterday (Mar 15) was dreadful, but he ploughed on starting at 11:30am from Nore Barn and walking along the shore, up Pook Lane and back to Warblington.

The highlights were two Spotted Redshank, one dark plumaged bird (the regular) in the Nore Barn stream and the other a lighter coloured bird in the pond at the end of the creek. These were probably the same two that I saw in the stream on the previous day. In the hedgerow at Conigar Point were two very clean, newly arrived yellow washed Chiffchaffs. Peter found hundreds of Brent Geese on the fields south of the cemetery. In one field were 573 Brent Geese, 4 Oystercatchers and 6 Lapwing and in the field next door were another 218 Brent Geese, plus 6 Oystercatchers and 16 Curlew. Med Gulls were to be everywhere with 6 singles seen and a pair in the fields in Pook Lane.

The Glossy Ibis was still present and in the big muddy field next to it were 3 Buzzards on the ground feeding on worms. Peter also sent a photo of a Black Redstart that was his my Havant garden at 6pm, hence the very dark photo.

Hollybank Woods fungus

Ralph Hollins had a close look at photo of the yellow fungus which I found on the Silver Birch tree in the Holly Lodge clearing in Hollybank Woods (see yesterday's entry). I thought it might be Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica).

Ralph says, "At first I thought it might be a Crepidotus species as these attach themselves to the underside of branches and twigs (such as dead bramble stems) by the centre of the cap (i.e. instead of having a stem coming up from the subtrate to the centre of the underside of the cap the attachment (not a stem) is to the centre of the top of the cap). However Crepidotus is a gilled fungus and even when I increase the magnification of your photo to 200% I can see no hint of gills so I turned to the resupinates among which some are only attached to the substrate over part of their surface and have 'wings' sticking out free of the substrate and my best guess is currently that it is a Stereum species (perhaps Rameale though that is said to favour Beech). It certainly does not show the globular, jelly-like form or bright yellow colour of Yellow Brain Fungus."

Despite Ralph's doubts I am still inclined towards Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica) based on its bright yellow colouring. The Wikipedia entry has a photo almost exactly the same as the one I took in Hollybank Woods.

For earlier observations go to . . March 1-15