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Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day (Ralph Hollins)


for September 2013

in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current



Nore Barn - 12:00 About 3 hours after high water. The Greenshank was in the stream along with the Little Egret, both regulars this autumn. 5 Mute Swans in the channel.

104 Black-tailed Godwits assembled on the western mudflat. By 12.45 many of the godwits had moved onto the mudflats either side of the Emsworth Sailing Club building. Three colour-ringed birds.
G+WR - 4th sighting this autumn.
G+BY - Second sighting this season.
G+BG - First sighting this summer. A regular over the past 4 winters.

One Greenshank - GY+YY - My first ever sighting. Possibly one of the newly ringed birds?


Annual cut

Martin Cull was doing his second cut of the meadow when I went over this afternoon. I had no idea he was coming; he said it was a last minute arrangement. He had already finished the Lumley area and the northern part of the orchid area and was working on the uncut part of the centre meadow. I was particularly pleased to see the Lumley area cut as this is our best area for sedges and rushes and was not cut at all last year. Martin said he would be pleased to return to cut the remaining areas if the conservation group requested.

Here is Martin at work with the already cut Lumley area in the background.


I found just one plant of Pepper-saxifrage that had escaped Martin's cutters on the east side of the Lumley area, but as the plants are perennials they should be back again next year. The first of the Michaelmas Daisies is now open on the Bramble path. Some of the grasses are starting to flower again, False Oat-grass, Tall Fescue and Cocksfoot. There are also fresh flowers on the Hogweed.

Water Vole

After a couple of weeks of intense searching Malcolm Phillips at last spotted a Water Vole on the north bank near the railway embankment. He got this very fine image of the animal. Does anyone take better Water Vole pictures than Malcolm I wonder?


Malcolm also captured a lingering Chiffchaff in the north-east corner of the meadow. This could possibly be one of those that spend the winter with us.

Millpond Swans

Last Friday (Sep 27) I met Ralph Hollins at Nore Barn and we discussed when, if ever, the Mute Swan pair that nested this year at the northern end of the pond might cease to defend their nest site to allow the flock of non-breeding swans back onto the pond. Ralph expressed the opinion that as there was a distinct housing shortage for Swans - far more birds of breeding age than suitable nest sites - and that as Swans pair for life, and live a long time, any pair with a good nest site will defend it year round to ensure its availability next spring. If this is the case then the prospects for a return of the large Mute Swan flock to the millpond appear to be slim. See Ralph's diary for Fri 27 Sep . . .

As I was passing this morning I saw a flotilla of 13 Mute Swans in the harbour below the millpond seawall, presumably hoping to be allowed onto the pond. But not yet I suspect.

Thorney news

On Saturday (Sep 28) Barry Collins reported 2,000 Brent Geese on the mudflats off the southern end of Thorney Island. At Pilsey Sands throughout the morning there was a steady movement of at least 500 Swallows all flying E. There was also an Osprey on a wooden structure out on the mudflats yesterday afternoon.

On Sunday (Sep 29) Barry reported the Osprey with primaries missing on the right wing was perched on a wooden structure on Pilsey Sands at 10.15. Then at 10.50 it made several attempts to catch a fish before finally catching one and then flew W over to the mudflats near Marker Point at 11.20. On a falling tide 22 Harbour Seals hauled their selves up on to the mudflats of the southern end of Thorney Island. Butterflies of note included 4 Clouded Yellows and 5 Red Admirals.


Water Voles in Havant

Malcolm Phillips could not find any Water Voles on Brook Meadow, so he went over to Havant where he found at least three in the small pond in front of the old Dolphin pub. Here is one of the photos he send me. A cracker.

Water Voles have been seen frequently here this summer - probably for the first time ever? Ralph Hollins thinks they are not resident breeders, but are wanderers from some, as yet, unknown birthplace (most likely on the banks of the Langbrook Stream).

Sparrowhawk takes Goldfinch

Patrick Murphy watched an interesting confrontation this afternoon in his garden between a juvenile Sparrowhawk with a Goldfinch in its talons and a Magpie. Patrick said the hawk didn't move, but just kept a beady eye on the Magpie even though it got to within about 18 inches. Finally, the Sparrowhawk made off with its meal.


Emsworth Harbour

10:30 - 11:30 - Tide falling to low water at about 11:00. 48 Black-tailed Godwits in eastern harbour. I checked about 20 for colour-rings, found one. L+LL - My second sighting this season. A regular in Emsworth Harbour since 06-Nov-09.

Here is a digiscoped image of Black-tailed Godwit L+LL in poor light. Left leg has lime L ring on tibia and red R on tarsus (ankle). Right leg has two lime rings on tibia. All Farlington godwits have a red ring on the left tarsus so that is usually not reported. The photo also shows the metal BTO ring on the right ankle.

Others included 12 Turnstones - the most so far this autumn and 4 Greenshank - including RG+BY geo which was also here yesterday.

Nore Barn

15:00 - About 2 hours to high water. Greenshank and Little Egret in the stream, plus 7 Mute Swans. In the main channel were two Shelduck - the first of the season, probably local breeders rather than migrants from North Germany, according to Ralph Hollins who was passing. One (partially under water in the photo) appeared to be moulting.

Also, in the channel were a few Teal and Wigeon. About 30 Oystercatchers were on the edges of the channels.

Tamarisk was flowering in front of the reedbeds at Nore Barn. The photo shows a ginger Bumblebee feeding on the flowers. This is probably Bombus pascuorum which is the most common of the ginger Bumblebees.

Beacon Square fungi

Beacon Square is well known for its fungi. I found several fungi on the grass verge on the southern side today. This one is easily identified as a Roll-rim from the inrolled edges of the cap - probably Brown Roll-rim (Paxillus involutus) which is the more common of the Roll-rims.

The others were Boletes, but as yet unidentified. Possibly Brown Birch Bolete. See photo.


Slow-worm recovery

Peter Milinets-Raby has been removing Slow-worms from a demolition site in Denvilles. He sent me this image of one of them emerging from under one of the mats.

Peter also found this grasshopper sunning itself on top of one of the mats. It looks like a Meadow Grasshopper - probably a male from its relatively long wings.

Meadow Grasshoppers are the only flightless grasshopper in Britain. In females the wing cases (covering vestigial wings) extend only a short way down the abdomen while males have longer wing cases extending to almost the tip of the abdomen, but are not adequate for flying. So they just hop!
See . . .

Brent Geese arrive

Chris Cockburn reported large numbers of dark-bellied Brent geese arrived in Langstone Harbour on Sep 26. Today he counted 1081 feeding off the West Hayling shore . They included one group of 247 birds of which 9 were youngsters (broods of 3, 2, 2, 1 and 1). See Chris's full report below.

Hayling Oysterbeds news

Chris Cockburn reports on the end of the seabird breeding season.

"The breeding season is finally finished following the last common tern youngster fledging on 17 Sep - and here's wishing it the best of luck - it will certainly need plenty of luck if it is to survive the trip to W Africa. So, final common tern result was 57 fledged youngsters from 73 pairs.

Meanwhile, numbers are getting higher for passage and over-wintering waders and wildfowl. At the Oysterbeds, oystercatcher roosts are frequently greater than 1000 birds - it's quite a sight when the whole flock moves! Good numbers of ringed plovers and dunlins are sometimes roosting on the imported shingle at the western end of the NW Bund. Hopefully, the vegetation will be cleared soon and we should see some very good small-wader roosts during the big spring tides (and there might even be a chance of a returning shorelark!)

Yesterday, 26 Sep, saw the arrival of large numbers of dark-bellied Brent geese and widgeons (there were at least 1500 widgeons in the harbour yesterday - but many of these birds are transient and will be moving westwards soon. Today, there were 1081 Brent geese feeding off the West Hayling shore and the flocks included one group of 247 birds of which 9 were youngsters (broods of 3, 2, 2, 1 and 1). There was also a male red-breasted goose with the Brent - presumably the bird that was at Farlington in the spring. An osprey was today seen eating a fish on one of the Sinah Lake marker posts.

There are still a surprising number of white butterflies, particularly on the Billy Trail, also a few Speckled Woods & Small Coppers and a Comma. Oh and the blackberries are tasting good!"



Alex Maxted e-mailed me asking if I knew anything about the little white duck that has recently appeared on the millpond. White ducks often appear on the millponds and I assume they are some domestic breed and have escaped from a collection somewhere or have been released onto the pond as unwanted pets. Who knows? They occasionally interbreed with the Mallards, producing the strange mixed hybrids we sometimes see on the ponds.

I counted 98 Mallards on the millpond this morning, which is about the norm for this time of the year. Clearly, they have not been put off by the resident Mute Swans.

The Mute Swan pair were both defending their territory again this morning from four swans that had ventured onto the pond. The four did not last long as they were quickly driven off. So, the pond remains empty of swans, but for the 'litter nest' family.

The cygnet from the 'litter nest' that started off so poorly, is now looking fine and healthy.


11:30 - 12.30 - Tide rising to high water at 16:30.

80 Black-tailed Godwits - two were colour-ringed, both first sightings this season.
G+GY - Ringed Farlington 14-Sep-05. First sighting in Emsworth on 27-Oct-06. Seen in most winters in Emsworth Harbour, but not a mega regular. This was my 13th sighting in Emsworth.
W+WN - Ringed 05-Sep-10 Farlington Marshes. First seen in Emsworth Harbour the following month on 18-Oct-10. It was a mega regular in Emsworth in winter 2011-12 with 41 sightings. But I only saw it once last winter on 17-Jul-12.

4 Greenshank - one was colour-ringed:
RG+BY geo - This is one of 3 Greenshanks that Pete Potts caught at Thorney and fitted geolocators to the blue rings. I previously saw it here on 12-Jul-13. The geo tab shows up clearly on this photo.

There has been a big influx of Redshank since yesterday - I counted 120. They probably included some of those that Peter Milinets-Raby found missing from the Warblington shore Also, 30 Dunlin, 4 Curlew, 10+ Oystercatcher, 10 Turnstone, 2 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron.


Fungi in Stansted Forest

This is a good time of the year to see fungi and there is no better place locally than Stansted Forest to get a good selection of species. Jill Stanley enjoyed a walk through this fine woodland yesterday and obtained some excellent images of fungi, including these two beauties.

Magpie Ink Cap - gets its name from the the pattern on the cap
and the fact that the whole plant quickly dissolves into a black inky substance.

Porcelain Fungus - there is no mistaking this one.

House Sparrow recovery

During the last few decades, the population of British House Sparrows has declined by roughly half, but the latest data from the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) Garden BirdWatch indicates the decline is levelling off in gardens. The decline of the House Sparrow has been dramatic, falling from around 12 million British pairs in the 1970s to between six and seven million pairs currently, with a greater reduction in population size in urban and rural areas, than in suburban ones.

The reasons behind the decline very much depend on population location, as House Sparrows are fairly sedentary birds. Populations across Britain were affected by loss of nesting sites and food sources, especially the lack of invertebrates to feed their young. However, in rural areas, changes in farming practices are thought to have had a large effect but in urban and suburban populations causes were more complex and may have included increased competition with other birds and increased pesticide use in gardens.
See . . .



12:30 - Eastern harbour. About 3 1/2 hours to high water. Viewing from the millpond seawall.

I counted 52 Black-tailed Godwits resting on the edge of the channel. They included three colour-ringed birds:
G+WR - 4th sighting this season. A very regular wintering bird in Emsworth Harbour since Sep-08.
G+BY - This was the first sighting this season. First seen in Emsworth on 23-Nov-10. Not seen at all in Emsworth last winter.
L+LL - This was the first sighting this season. First seen in Emsworth on 06-Nov-09. Regular in 2011-12, but seen only once in 2012-13.

There were also 22 Mute Swans in the harbour, the first time I have seen them here since the spring. They were attracting attention from walkers by drinking the fresh water that had collected in the bottom of one of the moored boats near the seawall.

Maybe, this marks their return to the millpond? But not yet as I watched the cob of the pair that nested on the millpond chase off one that had ventured onto the pond.

13:15 - Nore Barn. One Greenshank and one Little Egret were the only occupants of the stream. There were no Mute Swans in the area, confirming that those I saw earlier in the eastern harbour were from Nore Barn.

The Mute Swan was back on Peter Pond its nesting site with its one remaining cygnet. The family left the Hermitage ponds a few weeks ago for the harbour. Two days ago they were at Nore Barn.


I had a nostalgic walk around Baffins Pond this morning, thinking about the weekly visits I used to make to the pond in the 1990s and early 2000s. I was very pleased to see how well the newly constructed wetland wildlife areas had developed, so much better than the barren concrete edges during my period there.

I was even more pleased to see four Barnacle Geese on the water.

There used to be a substantial flock of feral Barnacles on the pond during the 1990s, peaking at a maximum of 42 birds in 1998-99. They were usually accompanied by 2-3 Snow Geese and were known as the 'Baffins gang' when they all made regular trips to Titchfield Haven. However, numbers dropped dramatically until by 2005 there was no more than a handful left (max of 7). I have not been keeping track of them since then, but I gather the pond does get the occasional Barnacle visitors, so it was good to see some on the pond today.


Langstone Mill Pond

Peter Milinets-Raby walked along Wade Court Lane to Langstone Mill Pond (10:30am to mid-day). The best bird of the walk was a Hobby hunting over the pond for five minutes before it moved off towards Langstone.
On the pond were: Mute Swan family still with three very grown up youngsters, 3 eclipse plumaged Shoveler, 6 eclipse plumaged Teal, 1 eclipse plumaged Gadwall, 20+ Meadow Pipits passing over, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 loitering Little Egrets.
Due to the hazy sunshine it was very difficult to see anything on the low tide mud. Could hear Greenshank, could see Dunlin, Redshank and Lapwing.

Warblington shore

Yesterday (24th) Peter was out birding briefly before high tide along the Warblington shore (from 12 noon to 1:30pm) and bumped into Anne de Potier for the very first time. We were off Conigar Point where we talked at great length about coloured rings on Greenshank. It was a pleasure to meet her. Again, because of the glare from the sun on the mud it was difficult to see stuff properly, though waders were surprisingly low in numbers. Brian's note: I think harbour numbers may go up and down at this time of the year as birds pass through on migration.

The best sightings were as follows:
Off Conigar Point (west of Point - little stream outlet): 7 Greenshank (no coloured rings identified through the glare), First SHELDUCK of the winter, 80+ Teal, 3 Curlew Sandpipers.
Off Pook Lane: 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin. ONLY 20+ Redshank (where did they all go?). It felt like the aftermath of a bird of prey attack? Nothing around. A constant stream of Swallows over (200+), 80+ Meadow Pipits over, 7 Yellow Wagtails in with the cattle.




Vandals have struck for the second time on Brook Meadow. A couple of weeks ago the observation fence in Palmer's Road Copse was broken down and the rails by the steps to the main seat had been broken off.

The damage was promptly made good by Havant Borough Council. A completely new and very sturdy observation fence was erected and the rails replaced on the posts behind the seat.

However, yesterday John Dewars reported that he found the newly repaired rails had again been torn off the posts. John retrieved two of the rails from the river where they had been used as a walkway across the stream. I had a look this afternoon. The rails had been torn off the posts with considerable force, leaving bent screws jutting out from the posts and the concrete base of one of the posts uprooted. The route taken by the vandals is clearly visible across the low water river from the bank beneath the observation fence (which is undamaged) to the bank by the sluice gate.

Grey Wagtail

Malcolm Phillips got this fine image of the new regular Grey Wagtail on the river on the meadow.


Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Roy Ewing sent me the following photo of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth that visited his garden in west Emsworth today. Roy's picture shows the moth typically hovering in front of a flower (in the manner of a Hummingbird) into which it inserts its long proboscis to feed on the nectar.

The moth migrates here from Southern Europe, appearing throughout the British Isles, in some years arriving in sufficient numbers to breed. In Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight it appears annually in varying numbers and was particularly abundant in 2003. It has been recorded in winter, and is known to hibernate, and therefore spring records may refer to overwintering individuals rather than new immigrants.

Water Voles in Havant

Yesterday, Nik Knight visited the Dolphin spring in Havant and found several strips of bare earth on the roadside bank of the spring. This made him wonder if a predator had been digging for the Water Voles, but it was soon clear that a Water Vole was doing the digging. Ralph Hollins thinks the voles are 'young explorers' forced to leave their maternal home somewhere else this summer. Ralph says, the bank where Nik saw one digging is probably the only possible site to create burrows around that pond, but it is very visible to passers by and if there was a resident population there it seems unlikely that they would not have been spotted before now.



Black-tailed Godwits

11:00 - 11:30 - Emsworth Harbour (east) Tide rising. 65 Black-tailed Godwits including two colour-ringed birds.
O+WL - First sighting this season. Seen 5 times last winter from 25-Sep to 19-Nov.
G+WR - Second sighting this season. Ringed at Farlington on 10Sept08 as ad male. Seen regularly each winter in Emsworth Harbour since then.

12:00 - 12:30 - On the western mudflats: 146 Black-tailed Godwits - the largest count so far this season. I suspect these included those I previously saw in the eastern harbour which would by this time be full of water.

Also, 20 Grey Plover, 30 Dunlin. 50+ Teal in the channel at Nore Barn, 23 Mute Swans including the Peter Pond family with one cygnet.

Godwit with attached shell

From the millpond seawall I spotted a Black-tailed Godwit with a shell of some sort attached to it right foot.

I recall Tony Wootton photographing a Dunlin with a similar problem on the Norfolk coast a few years ago. Tony consulted the RSPB who told him that this was not uncommon in wading birds feeding on the shore where shellfish were feeding. They said the shell would eventually come off when the creature got hungry and released its grip.


In Emsworth Harbour (east) 5 Greenshank, three of which were colour-ringed. I have not seen any of these before. G+YG - LN+RN - (not 100%) - R+NY - (not 100%)

Lesser Black-backed Gull - ssp graellsii

On the eastern harbour was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, which, from its slate grey back, dark wing tips and speckled head, looked like a member of the British graellsii race.

Birds of this race breed in Britain, Western Europe and Iceland and winter south to West Africa. They are usually the first to appear on autumn migration on the south coast, with Gulls of the darker backed European races called intermedius showing up later. I often see them in the local harbours and on the millponds.


Warblington birds

Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington Shore this morning between 10:15am and mid-day, just ahead of an incoming tide. The highlights were as follows: 29 Yellow Wagtails feeding in with the cattle, Swallows seen constantly moving south east 3 or 5+ every five minutes, giving a rough total of 100+ in the time Peter spent on site.

Off Conigar Point: 94 Teal (all in eclipse except two smart looking males), 9 Greenshank ( 7 with coloured rings GR/GO, NG/YY, LR/NL, GR/YN, NL/YY, RW/BtagY, NR/RO), 11 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 12 Dunlin, 22 Grey Plover. Whitethroat and Chiffchaff in the bushes here.

Off Wade Court track: Pre-roost gatherings of 132 Oystercatcher, 33 Curlew, 73 Bar-tailed Godwit, 168 Redshank, 3 Lapwing. A further 5 Greenshank up to their knees in water so 2 incomplete coloured ringed details. 20 Dunlin.

Langstone Mill Pond: 34 Little Egrets roosting, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Chiffchaff and female Redstart in nearby horse paddock.

Swan attacked

Maggie Gebbett informed me that a Mute Swan was mauled by a pointer dog last week and the police were called out. She is not sure if the swan survived, but it looked badly injured according to neighbours who saw the incident. An official gathered it up. This is not the first swan incident at Nore Barn. I recall seeing a headless swan corpse here on 24-Nov-11, though I am not sure a dog was responsible.

Roy Ewing remembers the headless swan in 2011, but is not sure as to reason of death. But in Nov 2012 he says they had one swan killed and two injured by a dog. RSPCA took away one swan and it survived. This is not the first swan incident at Nore Barn, I recall seeing a headless swan corpse here on 24-Nov-11, though I am not sure a dog was responsible.

Farlington Marshes

Chris Cope reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group
Go to . . .



Slipper Millpond

A pair of adult Great Black-backed Gulls were back on Slipper Millpond this morning, probably the pair that nested here and probably the same ones that I saw in the harbour yon Sep 18. Ominous for next year? Shaggy Soldier is still in flower on the traffic island on the A259 opposite Peter Pond.

Emsworth Harbour

10.30 - Tide rising. The Greenshank was on edge of the Nore Barn stream where a pair of Mute Swans were swanning around.

11:00 - The Mute Swan family with three cygnets, that I saw being chased from the town millpond by the resident swan pair on Sep 18 were in the harbour beneath the quay, looking none the worse for their battering.

Southleigh Road (west)

I was surprised to find the verge still uncut; the council usually cut this one in late summer. The western end of the wayside is being taken over by young Ash saplings which are springing up all along this section. Montbretia was flowering - a new plant for this wayside. There were a few 'Nursery-web spider' and shield bugs, but no where near the hundreds I saw here two autumns ago. The photo shows two Dock Leaf bugs (Coreus marginatus).


Malcolm Phillips had a good couple of hours round the meadow today. He saw the Grey Wagtail again under the south bridge and a Brown Rat. Later he had this rather perky Chiffchaff near the gasholder. I wonder if this is one that will be staying with us for the winter?

There was a Moorhen in the bushes eating the blackberries. At the north bridge Malcolm again saw an Eel swimming around, but further on the river was completely dry past the culvert. Coming back across the meadow he saw a Common Darter, Red Admiral and Small Copper plus what looks like a rather aging Dark Bush-cricket with one leg missing.


Barry Collins watched the juvenile Osprey eating a fish on the landing lights next to nest platform on the east side of Thorney Deeps on Sep 18. Barry also reported a male Redstart and four Whinchats on Thorney Island.



I did a quick check around a few of the local waysides this morning.

Railway Wayside

I was interested to walk up the newly cleared track from the railway to the Washington Road path. I wonder what the purpose of this clearance is. Maybe to link up with the new service station, now under construction on the A27? Or for an access route to the proposed industrial development to the west of the Washington Road path?

This track now provides easy access to the small culverted stream that comes from under the A27 road. The Narrow-leaved Water-plantain that I found last year is still there and is in flower. I also found some Fool's Water-cress, Guernsey Fleabane and Field Horsetail. These take this year's total for the site to 137. Although this is an increase over last year's total of 123, a number of the more interesting plants that came up last year have not been seen this year, eg, Marsh Cudweed, Sharp-leaved Fluellen, Small Toadflax, Small-flowered Crane's-bill and Swine-cress.

Christopher Way verge

Three plants of Wild Clary were showing well on the main Christopher Way wayside, at least one of which had flowers. Here it is.

There were another 10 or so Wild Clary plants on the mown Council verge a little further long the road. This is good news that we have not lost them all. There is a good crop of ripe Elderberries on the bush at the western end of the main verge.



I cycled over to Nore Barn this afternoon, mainly to have a look at the stream about 3 hours after high water. I knew from Maggie Gebbett that a Greenshank had been in the stream and there it was feding happily in the stream.

It was an unringed bird, possibly the same one that usually associates with the 'tame' Spotted Redshank. On the basis of previous years, the regular Spotted Redshank, if it does return for its 10th winter with us, is unlikely to be here for another 2 weeks. Last year it was back in the stream on 09-Oct-12 though was the earliest on record.

Other observations

A Sandwich Tern was fishing in Nore Barn Creek south of the woods. Lax-flowered Sea-lavender was flowering in the usual place on the small area of saltmarshes to the east of the stream, but not it seems as much as last year. I was surprised to see a a single plant of Chicory in flower on the southern shore of the woods where the reconstruction has been taking place. I suspect this plant (or its seeds) came with the soil brought in to reinforce the bank.


Black-tailed Godwits

I arrived on the millpond seawall at about 3pm with the tide falling, though still fairly well in. A small group of 16 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the town shore, but there were no colour-ringed birds. The group included three juveniles, which have a pale cinnamon wash over the neck and breast and neat warm buff fringes to the brownish upperpart feathers. They stand out clearly from the adults.

Great Black-backed Gulls

Two adult Great Black-backed Gulls were in the harbour along with two juveniles. These were most likely to be the family that nested on Slipper Millpond this year. I recall last year the family also remained in the harbour for some months after leaving the nest site. Here is one of the gulls perched on a marker post.


Swan aggression

I was very surprised to find the Mute Swan family with three cygnets (including the white 'Polish' one) on the town millpond when I arrived there at 3.30pm. This is the family from the nest on the marina embankment and I have never seen them on the millpond before, though they are often in the main harbour outside.

This family was clearly unwelcome on the millpond and the cob of resident pair of swans from the 'litter nest', sometimes accompanied by the pen, relentlessly pursued the intruding mother swan. However, the marina family was still on the millpond when I left about 30 minutes later, though confined to the southern extreme.

The resident cob also saw off another group of 4 swans that had strayed onto the millpond. These observations leaves me in little doubt that the disappearance of the Mute Swan flock from the millpond is due to the aggressive territorial behaviour of the resident Mute Swan pair. However, I am surprised that the swan's territoriality is still present.


Vandalism repaired

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow today and admired the renewed observation fence constructed promptly by Havant Borough Council following vandalism to the old one. Malcolm noted that the hand rail to the seat had also been replaced. Well done, chaps for both and thanks.

River wildlife

Malcolm got this rather nice photo of a Grey Wagtail showing its bright yellow rear end on the river near the S-bend, probably the same bird that I saw near the south bridge on Monday.

He also spotted another dead Eel in the river by the south bridge with a Brown Trout next to it.



Andy Rothwell, a professional Zoological Surveyor, carried out a Water Vole survey of the Lumley Stream and the River Ems on Brook Meadow this morning on behalf of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group. Today, Andy was assisted by David Search of the conservation group who had previously taken part in Water Vole surveys on the meadow. I accompanied them from the safety of the river bank, observing and taking photos. Andy previously did a Water Vole survey for the group in October 2007, the report of which is on the web site at . . .

They started at Peter Pond and moved up the Lumley Stream to Constant Springs. From there they went along the Seagull Lane path to Brook Meadow to survey the River Ems starting at the north-east corner at the railway tunnel and carrying on down river to the south bridge. Here they are in the Lumley Stream, north of the small footbridge.

Water Voles

As would be expected from the large number of sightings we have had this year, Water Vole signs were discovered all along the River Ems, including burrows, latrines, droppings and food larders. The signs were less frequent on the Lumley Stream where fewer sightings have been had.

Andy found burrows on the river bank beneath the railway embankment near the north-east corner, where we have had a good number of sightings this year. He thought there could well be up to three family territories along this stretch of the river (Section A1) which would spread around the bend towards the north bridge.

The best cluster of Water Vole signs were found in and around the dense patch of Branched Bur-reed on the west bank of the river opposite the sluice gate. Andy thought this vegetation could be a general gathering area for the voles, including those from the Lumley Stream on the other side of the meadow and should not be removed. Water Voles love Branched Bur-reed which provides them with food, cover and protection

For details about the Water Vole sightings on Brook Meadow for this year go to . . .

Brown Rats

Andy and David also found a good number of Brown Rat droppings, particularly near the north bend, infront of the gasholder and in Palmer's Road Copse where rat sightings have been most frequent. However, Andy thought the rats were probably not much of a threat to the voles as they are would have reached a state of steady co-existence by now. Malcolm Phillips was also on the meadow this morning and got this photo of a Brown Rat on the river bank beneath the south bridge.

Bank Voles

Andy also found evidence of Bank Voles, with droppings being seen on both the Lumley Stream and the River Ems. There was one burrow on the east bank just north of the south bridge which Andy thought, from its small size, was that of a Bank Vole. I was surprised to hear that Bank Voles would inhabit wet areas, but Andy said that was not uncommon and they could also swim quite well. So, that could possibly account for the sightings of small swimming creatures that I have previously put down as possible Water Shrews. Bank Voles and Water Shrews are about the same size, but look quite different. What we really need is definite proof in the form of a photo. Here is a Bank Vole I took from the internet as an example. It is rather like a miniature Water Vole.

Other observations

Andy saw two Kingfishers fly north while he was surveying the Peter Pond channels. These are probably juveniles moving towards the coast for the winter.

I saw a Grey Wagtail beneath the south bridge, but it only stayed for a few seconds before flying off.

Three medium sized dragonflies with bright blue bodies were flying around the main river path near the gasholder. I am fairly sure they were Migrant Hawkers, though they did not come to rest. Here is one that Tony Wootton captured in flight last year.

Apart from white butterflies, there were plenty of Speckled Woods and just one bright Red Admiral.

Andy discovered an Eel in the Lumley Stream close to the railway bridge in front of the house called 'The Arches'. I have not heard of one in this area before. Andy also noticed a Bullhead or Miller's Thumb.

Andy showed me some tiny fresh water Mussel shells that he found on the river bank near the north-east corner.

Bindweed leaves on the river bank near the S-bend have been seriously nibbled by some small creatures, I know not what.

Andy pointed out some healthy Bulrush leaves in the area north of the observation fence. This was a relief as I had been a little concerned that we may have lost them as there have been no flowers this year. The Bulrush leaves are much taller than the Branched Bur-reeds and even tower over David Search who is 6 foot tall. Andy is pointing to them in this photo.

Work is now in progress on the erection of a new observation fence to replace the one that had been pushed over last week. We happened to meet William who is the Council litter man for Brook Meadow. I was surprised to hear that he had not been off work as the bins were not emptied for a few weeks recently. I encouraged him that he was doing a good job for the meadow environment.


Roy Hay took this photo of a Black Swan with the regular Mute Swans at the top of Fishbourne Creek this morning at high tide. Black Swans are not uncommon visitors to Fishbourne; they probably come from the small colony on West Ashling pond.


North east Thorney

Tony Wootton reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. Go to . . .

Mute Swan news

On Sep 12, Ralph Hollins found 26 Mute Swans at Nore Barn including a family of two adults and a single cygnet. He wondered if they were from the 'litter nest' on the town millpond, but that family is still on the millpond. My guess is that it is the family that nested on the Peter Pond island with one cygnet which have now moved from the Hermitage millpond complex.

Warblington birds

Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to the Warblington shore from 4 pm to 5:30 pm this afternoon to see what was about as the tide pushed in.

Off Conigar Point: 54 eclipse plumaged Teal, 5 Little Egrets, 6 Greenshank (4 with rings RW/BtagY and GR/YN and GR/GO and LR/NL), Single Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Dunlin, Common Tern, Chiffchaff in the bushes

Off Pook Lane: 54 Dunlin, 6 more Greenshank (2 with coloured rings NR/RO and RG/YtagY - this bird has a serious limp on the leg with it's new addition!), 3 Curlew Sandpiper (feeding with the 100+ Redshank - none with coloured rings?), 54 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, Single Ringed Plover, 4 Little Egrets, 15+ Grey Plover, 50+ House Martin flying over Langstone Mill Pond (and another 50+ passing over).



Mudflats and channel

Parking outside Warblington Church I walked through the cemetery and through a field occupied by a herd of very peaceful milking cows, through the kissing gate to the seawall. This is where Peter Milinets-Raby does his regular birdwatching sessions and I can appreciate what Peter likes about the place. The tide was well out by the time I arrived this morning (10.30) and the birds were very distant, but I could still make out a good variety of birds feeding on the mudflats and on the edge of the main channel.

Three Greenshank included colour-ringed bird NL+YY which Peter recorded here two days ago on 11-Sep-13. This could be one of the newly ringed birds that Pete Potts caught on Thorney on Sep 8 as I have no previous records for it. The other Greenshanks were too far away to discern leg rings. Other birds of interest were 14 Grey Plover, many of which were still in their summer plumage 'waistcoats', 8 Little Egrets, 4 Grey Herons, plus Bar-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatcher. I did not see any of Peter's Curlew Sandpipers, though they could well have been out on the mudflats somewhere.

Church and cemetery

I had a look around the churchyard while I was there. I found a good flowering of Black Nightshade right where I parked the car in the church car park beside the wall of the barn.

The large Lime tree in front of the church is covered in clusters of pale green fruits hanging beneath the strap-like bracts. These bracts look like leaves, but are much paler and more lanceolate than the normal heart-shaped leaves.

The wild flower area in the cemetery extension is a jungle of dead and dying plants, though lots of blue Cornflowers are still showing brightly. A charm of 20 or so Goldfinches flew past me in the cemetery extension.

I was watching a magnificent 4-spot spider (Araneus quadratus) with a large rounded yellow abdomen building its web in the wild flower area when a Cranefly landed in the half completed web. The spider broke off from its work to subdue the fly and wrap it up for later consumption maybe.


Emsworth Harbour

10.30 - 11.00 - Low water. I cycled over to the marina seawall to have a look at the harbour at low water. I counted 62 Black-tailed Godwits, but there were no colour-ringed birds. Also on the mudflats were 3 Greenshank, 2 Little Egret, 8 Turnstone, 4 Curlew, 50+ Redshank, 1 Grey Plover (summer plumage), 2 Dunlin - first of the year and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The Mute Swan family with 3 cygnets (including the white 'Polish' cygnet) from the nest on the marina embankment was still together in the main channel.

More Greenshank geolocators

During a catch of 35 Greenshank on 8 September 2013 Pete Potts and his team fitted geolocators to two retrapped birds, RG+YY and OO+YY. Both were first ringed by Pete at Thorney on 28th October 2007: RG+YY as an adult and OO+YY as a juvenile. Note: RG+YY geo was seen by Peter Milinets-Raby on the Warblington shore on Sep 11. In addition Pete colour-ringed 33 new birds, 20 of which were juveniles. Also in the catch were 64 Redshanks, 8 Lapwing and a Dunlin.
See . . .

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow early afternoon and saw Small Copper and Common Blue butterflies along with a Great Spotted Woodpecker but no Water Vole today. Here is Malcolm's photo of the Small Copper. This is a fairly regular butterfly on Brook Meadow, particularly at this time of the year when they are having a 3rd brood. It is a good indicator of ancient grassland and lays eggs on Common Sorrel and docks.

Sparrowhawk in garden

Patrick Murphy had a welcome visitor to his garden this lunch time. A male Sparrowhawk came for lunch and managed to catch what Patrick thinks is a Goldfinch. What a cracking photo!

Small Tortoiseshells rocket!

British Trust for Ornithology report that the hot, dry weather at the beginning of July was a turning point for many butterflies. They highlight in particular the Small Tortoiseshell which has made a remarkable recovery this summer after several years of scarcity. Although their numbers normally increase at the end of the summer, with new butterflies emerging from the second brood, the BTO's Garden BirdWatch reporting rate for the Small Tortoiseshell exceeded expectations for the time of year, and was double that seen the same time last year. See . . .

Hayling Oysterbeds - latest news

Chris Cockburn provides the latest news from the oysterbeds

The breeding season is still not officially over! There are still two non-flying Common Tern youngsters and it is hoped (fingers crossed) that these two will successfully fledge very soon because they are the only brood of two (all other fledged common terns were singletons). So, despite the late and protracted starts at the Oysterbeds and with the adults not in prime condition, the productivity for these terns is reasonably good (at least 56 - possibly 58! - fledged youngsters from 73 pairs). Hopefully, next year there will not be such a protracted nesting period for the common terns - it has been a bit of a nightmare keeping track of the numbers of pairs and fledged birds!

Like for the Mediterranean & Black-Headed Gulls, predation of eggs or chicks has not been a serious issue for the common terns this year. There does seem to have been some problems with food supply (at times; Pipefish and 'flatfish' were frequently seen being fed to chicks and there were many periods with winds of F5 or above, making it difficult for adults to hunt for fish prey). Also, few nests were flooded during the big spring tides on 22 & 23 August.

In summary, an excellent breeding season at the Oysterbeds (Mediterranean gulls had a productivity rate of 1 fledged young per pair while the Black-Headed Gull rate was at least 1.65).

The third year of enthusiastic RSPB Volunteer Guides being regularly on site and armed with telescopes (to enable any passing person to see the birds close-up) has proved to be a great success. Good relationships have been struck up with a wide range of people from daily dog-walkers to once-a-year holiday-makers and, especially encouraging, Island residents on their first-ever visits - many of these folk then acquire a keen & sympathetic interest and enthusiasm for what happens at the site (with human nature as an excuse, it seems that we remember more dogs' names than their owners' names!). It would be great if even more people could offer a few hours of their valuable spare time to become Volunteer Guides.

As soon as the last common terns have left the site, it is hoped that volunteer work parties will clear the vegetation from the two islands in the lagoon and thereby encourage even more waders to roost there over high tide periods. Despite the present copious amounts of vegetation (mostly annual plants such as Spear-leaved Orache and Chamomile species) the islands have recently held high spring tide roosts of oystercatchers, ringed plovers, dunlins, turnstones, redshanks, greenshank (OK, only 1 or 2!), common sandpiper and even the occasional superb summer-plumaged grey plover. Prior to high tide, Stoke Bay has been busy with many little egrets and waders, particularly good numbers of ringed plovers.. Apart from (close by) kestrel and (distant) views of foraging & roosting ospreys, raptor activity has been very low so far. However, it has been good to see a larger-than-in-recent-years flock of starlings often feeding on the inter-tidal areas.

The first of the returning brent geese (failed/non breeders) should be in the harbour soon - hopefully, there will be very few in September but a massive arrival of family groups in mid-Oct.


Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips saw the Water Vole again at the north bridge about 10.20am this morning. And the vole saw him!

Malcolm also saw Brown Trout and an Eel in the river near the bridge, the latter for the first time that far up stream.

Warblington birds

Peter Milinets-Raby walked the Warblington shore at lowish tide from 11 am to 12 noon. He found 2 Curlew Sandpipers in one of the muddy gullies away from the Dunlin. Also on the exposed mud were: 71 Dunlin, 12+ Grey Plover (too spaced out to count properly at this point in the tidal state), 7 Greenshank (3 with coloured rings NR/RO and NL/YY and RG/YtagY - Peter has not noticed the tag on this one before or something has become attached to the ring - it did not seem happy, limping!). 14 Bar-tailed Godwit (3 in summer plumage), Yellow Wagtail 4 over, 4 Meadow Pipits over, Common Tern 2, Ringed Plover 2, up to 50 Swallows over all heading north. Plus one Sand Martin. Note on Greenshank RG+YtagY - Pete Potts says RG+YY was one of two Greenshank retrapped and fitted with a tag at Thorney last weekend.

Colin's pics

Colin Vanner has not been out lately but he got the chance to nip out when working over Arundel and got two super shots which he would like to share with us. Brilliant.

A Hobby being chased by what looks like a Rook

A couple of Red Kites playing above the fields. Colin says there were about 6 Kites in the sky at one time.



Malcolm Phillips had another Water Vole on Brook Meadow this morning, just up from the north bridge. Here is Malcolm's delightful photo with the vole looking up and almost saying, "Hallo, nice to see you again".


Osprey on Thorney

Tony Wootton spent a couple of hours this morning looking for the Osprey on the east side of Thorney Island. First, he parked down at the far end of Thornham Lane, where 'a very pleasant and polite lady' informed him that the area was now "residents only" parking. He got down to the eastern army gate when the rain came, but there was the Osprey, sitting on a post about as far away as possible along the southern bank. Tony then went round to Thorney Road and along to the gate opposite the entrance to Eames Farm where he had another view of the Osprey. After about 20 mins it flew off, not to return, but at least it gave Tony a photo opportunity.

Having read Tony's report, and not having seen the Thorney Osprey myself this year, I decided to cycle down to the end of Thornham Lane this afternoon to have a look. It was still there, perched on one of the old landing lights, and did not move during the 15 minutes or so that I was there. But it was good to see, nevertheless. Who is the mystery walker with scope behind the Osprey, I wonder? It must be official conservancy staff as this area has no public access.

'Infestation of Caterpillars'

Terry Lifton who lives in Westbourne Avenue has had what she called 'an infestation of caterpillars' in her garden. She sent me a photo of a couple of them.

I agree with Terry's identification as the larvae of the Buff-tip Moth. The caterpillars are seen from July until October and overwinter as a pupa. My book says they feed on many deciduous trees and are gregarious when young, which seems to fit with Terry's observation. The adult moth looks like a twig from a tree and is seen from May to July, if you can spot it, that is.

Vandalism on Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips was dismayed to discover some serious acts of vandalism on Brook Meadow this morning. The observation fence in Palmer's Road Copse had been pushed over, the rails up the steps to the main seat had been broken off and the fence by the water vole notice had been pushed over. This is the first serious vandalism we have experienced on Brook Meadow for several years. Here is Malcolm's photo of the observation fence down.

Water Vole

Malcolm saw a Water Vole on the north bank near the railway embankment but was unable to get a photo as it was too quick for him. This was our first Water Vole sighting anywhere on the river, except for the south bridge area (Section D), for 6 weeks.


Emsworth Harbour

I checked the eastern harbour this morning at 10.30 on a rising tide. I counted 76 Black-tailed Godwits, but not a single colour-ringed bird. Other birds in the harbour included 2 Greenshank, 2 Little Egret, plus a few Redshank, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Curlew.

Thorney Deeps

I carried on down the west side of Thorney as far as Great Deeps looking for the missing Mute Swans from Emsworth Millpond, but there was no sign of any. The regular Mute Swan pair was on the Little Deeps with no cygnets. Sea Asters were in flower alongside the track down to Great Deeps.

Privet Hawkmoth

Dave and Paula McVittie who live in Pagham Close Emsworth sent me this photo of what they referred to as "an enormous caterpillar that is in the process of eating or bush in our front garden".

This is a fine Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar which feeds on a variety of plants apart from Pivet, including Lilac, Ash, Elderberry, Guelder-rose and Snowberry. It usually feeds in an upside position, as it is in Dave and Paula's photo. The larva changes to a dull brown before it burrows into the ground to form a chrysalis nearly 6 ins deep in the soil - the deepest of any moth larvae. It may remain dormant for up to two years before hatching out into a handsome moth. The Privet Hawkmoth is confined to southern England and may be seen in June and July, though the caterpillar is more often seen than the adult moth.



A Great Black-backed Gull was standing on the north raft on Slipper Millpond when I passed by this morning. It was probably the female of the pair (with a softer face) that nested here this season on a nostalgic visit. Or prospecting for next year, maybe? There was no sign of the Mute Swan family from the Peter Pond nest; they must have moved off into the harbour.

Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow today and got photos of Clouded Yellow - good to know they are still on the meadow. He also got yet another male Common Darter - they really are common at this time of the year.

Maggie Gebbett went swimming in the sea at Nore Barn today in company with 26 Mute Swans, probably deserters from the town millpond. I gather there are also good numbers of swans on Thorney Deeps, which probably accounts for the rest. As they get back their powers of flight after the annual moult, I would not be surprised to see them coming back to the millpond fairly soon.


Heather Mills reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group:
See . . .


Water Voles in Havant

Dave Bull was pleased to see two Water Voles playing in the watercress pond Tesco Superstore. In fact, there has been a flurry of Water Vole sightings in this stream that runs beside the Tesco store in Havant, on the west side of Park Road South. Ralph Hollins is sure there are at least two Water Voles currently present in the area, but thinks they are not resident but are wanderers from some as yet unknown birthplace (most likely on the banks of the Langbrook Stream), but would welcome any further information about breeding places or about the highways that bring these animals to Havant, seemingly each summer. See his diary for Sep 2 for full details . . .

Little Egrets at Langstone

Last night Ralph Hollins counted 107 Little Egrets entering the roost in the trees behind Langstone Mill Pond which he thinks will be the highest count for the year. See his diary for full details . . . I have not heard any news recently about the Little Egret roost on Thorney Island.

Ospreys locally

Ospreys are moving through our area on their way to their wintering grounds in Africa. One regular stopping off place is the deeps on the east side of Thorney Island. The most recent sighting was by Barry Collins who saw two Ospreys fishing off Pilsey Sands at the southern end of Thorney Island at 10.20 yesterday morning (Sep 5).

The other popular stopping off place for Ospreys is Farlington Marshes where two have been seen over the past weeks or so, usually on the RSPB islands. Bob Chapman has a photo of one of them on North Binness Island on his blog for Sep 4 . . .



Oak Leaf Galls

The young Oaks on the Seagull Lane patch have lots of galls on their leaves. The most common ones are the brown Common Spangle Galls that lie flat on the under surface of the leaf.

They are caused by a gall wasp called Neuroterus quercusbaccarum which lays eggs on the leaves and the grubs induce the formation of the galls. The life history is quite complex. The spangle galls fall to the ground and parthenogentic females emerge early in spring to lay eggs in Oak buds. A new generation of grubs then induces the formation of currant galls on young leaves and catkins. Male and female gall wasps emerge from these galls and, after mating, the whole process is repeated with eggs being laid on leaves leading to more spangle galls.

I also noticed a few very tiny spherical galls on the leaves which I think might be those of the gall wasp called Cynips divisa. Here are two of these galls with red markings, attached as you can see to a vein on the leaf, as they all were.

My copy of Chinery (p.229) has an illustration showing these galls which closely matches those I found on the Brook Meadow leaves. The galls are attached by a short stalk and I easily dislodged one on a leaf I brought home with me. It literally rolled around on the leaf, as if it were alive - which, of course, it is!

Common Darters

From the south bridge I watched a pair of Common Darters flying around in tandem with another male in close attendance. This was the best shot I could get of the lone darter, the pair was quite impossible.


Peter Milinets-Raby had another good sesion on the Warblington shore this morning from 9am to 10am about 2-3 hours to high water. On arrival the waders were were spread out, but after only five minutes a Peregrine flew through the horde and caught a Dunlin, then flew off inland with its catch. The waders obviously scattered and then congregated together on the mud adjacent to Pook Lane. A spectacular sight.

184+ Redshank, Winter plumaged Spotted Redshank, 45+ Dunlin, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 28 Grey Plover (though these however, did not move from their pre-roost gathering spot off the church?), 8 Greenshank (two coloured ringed NR/RO and RG/YY - the usual two of late), 11 Curlew Sandpiper (all juveniles).

Other species of note included: Sandwich Tern (full summer) and Common Tern feeding a juvenile. 6 Yellow Wagtails (3 over and 3 (2 juvs, 1 adult) in amongst the cattle that were grazing in the field next to the cemetery).


Common Darter

Malcolm Phillips got this excellent image of a Common Darter dragonfly on Brook Meadow today. The photo closely matches the illustration of what Brooks and Lewington refer to as an 'over mature female' in their dragonflies and damselflies guide. The normally mature female's body is yellowish. The male has a bright red abdomen. Common Darters are fairly common dragonflies on Brook Meadow in late summer, often seen perching near the south bridge or on grasses by the waterways, as in Malcolm's photo.


Elephant Hawkmoth

Frank Naylor had a beautiful Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar in his garden today. They are certainly dramatic creatures and I have known them to be mistaken for small snakes.

The trunk-like snout at the head end of the larva gives the creature its name. It can be extended or retracted as a defensive tactic; when threatened the caterpillar draws this trunk in towards its body which shields the head from danger and inflates the body, making the four eye markings look much larger and more threatening to any predator. They are common in gardens where they gorge themselves on fuchsia stems and leaves. When fully grown the caterpillar moves down to the ground to pupate and remains in this state until the following spring (around May) when it emerges as an adult moth.

Warblington birds

Peter Milinets-Raby had an excellent morning down along the shore south of Warblington Church (6:20am to 9am). Very few grounded migrants, but for 2 Chiffchaff and a female Blackcap in the bushes at the end of the new cemetery extension. The flock of Goldfinch had reduced to 15+. He had a total of 15+ Yellow Wagtails fly over this morning.

Peter's best birds of the day were 10 Curlew Sandpiper feeding in the muddy gullies on the incoming tide. They were a bit mobile and difficult to count, but he thought there could have been up to 13. They were feeding on their own for most of the time, only occasionally associating with a few Dunlin. As the tide came in they headed off to Langstone Harbour. These will have been passage birds, probably juveniles, on their way from their breeding grounds in Siberia to their wintering grounds in tropical Africa.

An Osprey flew west along the channel at 7:42am, flushing all the waders and gulls. It headed over the Hayling Bridge and out into Langstone Harbour. As the tide pushed in the following numbers were noted; 5 Greenshank (two coloured ringed birds NR/RO and RG/YY), 39 Dunlin, 28 Grey Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit (with a flock of 12 heading to Conigar Point and beyond). 6 Ringed Plover, A winter plumaged Spotted Redshank amongst the 100+ Redshank, 4 Little Egrets. 3 winter plumaged Sandwich Terns.



Conservation work session.

I went over to the meadow on a perfect autumn morning for the regular conservation work session attended by 14 volunteers, including two newcomers. I was the 'official' photographer as usual. The main tasks were clearing the casual paths in the south meadow, clearing around the hedgerow on the Seagull Lane patch and general litter picking. For more photos go to the Brook Meadow web page at . . .

Dead Sparrowhawk

During their clearance work in the south meadow the volunteers discovered a very dead Sparrowhawk. There was no obvious signs of any damage though it was full of maggots. There was no ring. I know Sparrowhawks do occasionally stun themselves by smashing into patio windows, so it is possible that this bird broke its neck when it inadvertantly crashed into a tree while pursuing some prey.

Dead Sparrowhawk from above

Birds of Britain web site states . . . " In full pursuit the Sparrowhawk can be extremely persistent, often getting into difficulties. It will blindly chase after its terrified quarry into a room, crash to death against a window, strike wires or become fatally wounded after crashing into a thick hedge or bush".

I bagged the Sparrowhawk up and brought it home to measure it. Wing span of 60cm and length of 40cm are in the range of a female bird; a male would be much smaller. The pale edges of the wing feathers and rather broken barring on the underparts suggests a juvenile.

Dead Sparrowhawk underparts

Other observations

Two Robins were singing their autumn song on the Seagull Lane patch.

Lots of white butterflies have been feeding on the flowers over the past week. Here is a rather nice female Small White showing its yellowish underwings, and dark marks on the upper wings with indistinctly marked tips.

Purple Loosestrife is flowering very well on the river bank south of the north bridge.

The Red Oak tree which was planted on the Seagull Lane patch in memory of Tony Wilkinson last year is not looking very healthy and has not had any new growth. The conservation group are giving it regular water, but the problem seems more serious. In contrast, the planted Pedunculate Oaks are doing fine.

Wally told me that Martin Cull will be returning in late September to do more cutting of the meadow, including the wet Lumley area and the centre meadow. The main orchid area on the north meadow will be cut by the group using the power scythe.


Sadler's Walk pond

The Moorhens appear to be thriving on this semi-natural pond at the top of Sadler's Walk in the new housing estate east of Lumley Road. There are now three generations of Moorhens on the pond with youngsters from the first brood helping to look after and feed small chicks from a second brood. The weed in the pond is so thick that the Moorhens can walk on the surface of the water. I am not sure of the weed, but I did notice some Marestail growing in the pond.

Juvenile Moorhen feeding a chick


Jill Stanley was gardening this afternoon and planning to plant a shrub that had been in a pot for several weeks just sunk into a hole in the ground. When she lifted the pot out she found two Common Frogs sitting in the hole. She rushed for her camera and got this cracking shot of one of them.

Godwit news from Iceland

Pete Potts said the Black-tailed Godwits had a mixed breeding season in Iceland. Cold winds in April/May delayed arrival and then cold weather with lingering snow esp. in the north of Iceland with snow still laying thickly in late May. The godwits in the south of Iceland seem to have done badly but in the north they have done well. Pete was there and marked c.75 godwit chicks and 5 adults.

He is planning to try and catch greenshanks and godwits on Thorney in coming weeks.. so wish them luck as they hope to retrap the 3 geolocator birds which are all now back at Thorney.

Warblington news

Peter Milinets-Raby walked from the Wade Court path to Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon (4pm to 6pm). The highlights were as follows: 3 Spotted Flycatchers along the fences in the horse paddocks along Wade Court, female Redstart here also. Plus a flock of 30+ Goldfinch. And walking about the feet of two horses were 3 Yellow Wagtails (2 adults 1 juv) (one other seen flying over), 2 Green Sandpipers were disturbed off the stream and flew around above the trees by the "castle" before flying off towards Southmoors. Several Chiffchaff heard

On Langstone Mill Pond: 16 Eclipsed plumaged Teal, 1 eclipsed plumaged Shoveler, 9 Little Egrets in the trees with 5 Grey Herons. Off shore on the mud were: 168 Redshank, 3 Dunlin, 4 Little Egrets, 12+ Grey Plover, 4 Greenshank, 3 Lapwing.

For earlier observations go to . . August 1-31