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for October 2013

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Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Nore Barn

11:30 - I did my daily check of the small stream at Nore Barn about 3 hours after high water. The only birds in the stream were 8 Mute Swans. The family with one cygnet from Peter Pond was also present. So the mystery of the missing Spotted Redshank continues. Despite my daily visits, it is now 9 days since I last saw the bird here on Oct 22 and another 11 days since my first sighting of the season on Oct 11. Clearly, the bird has not settled into its usual feeding routine in visiting the stream around high water. It may well well have found a better feeding area, though I would be surprised if it had completely abandoned the Nore Barn stream.

Black-tailed Godwits: 65 in Nore Barn Creek including six regulars G+WR, L+LL, R+LG, W+WN, WO+LW flag and ROL+RLR.

Nutbourne Bay

12:15 - I drove over to have a look at the stream in Nutbourne Bay just in case the Spotted Redshank had gone there. But, like Nore Barn, there were no birds in the stream, not even the regular colour-ringed Greenshank GY+GY. 47 Black-tailed Godwits and about 100 Dunlin were feeding on the shore. I checked all the Godwits but there were no colour-rings. Interestingly, I noticed a lot of 'spurting' as the birds were feeding in the shallow water.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips was back on Brook Meadow today looking for Water Voles again and this time he was successful. He saw this one swimming in the river near the sluice gate.



Nore Barn - 11:00 - 12:00 - Tide falling from high water at 08:19. Mute Swan family with one cygnet, probably from the Peter Pond nest. Black-tailed Godwits - 98 gathered in the Nore Barn channel as I watched. I only checked a few of them for colour-rings and found two regulars: W+WN and WO+LW flag.

On the western mudflats - 14 Shelduck and 56 Brent Geese - with 3 juveniles in broods of 2 and 1.

Here are two Brent juveniles from one family showing their white wing bars

While walking along the path south of Nore Barn Woods I spotted this bright Red Admiral basking in the sunshine on a notice asking people to watch out for dogs attacking swans at Nore Barn.

Emsworth Millpond

The Mute Swan family with one cygnet was on the millpond. There were three other swans on the pond and the resident pair did chase the intruders with wings raised, but not with serious intent from what I could see.

Here is the once scraggy cygnet from the 'litter nest' which now looks very healthy


Two Cormorants were fishing in the millpond along with a Little Grebe.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips spent 3 hours on the meadow today. He looked in vain for a Water Vole. However, he did get this excellent image of a Little Egret perched in a Crack Willow tree.

Malcolm also captured this delightful Long-tailed Tit in the act of singing.

As always at this time of the year and in warm weather, the banks of Michaelmas Daisies attract a variety of insects seeking a good nectar source. Malcolm saw Red Admiral and this Comma.


Nore Barn

09:30 - 10:00 - About 2 hours after high water. The Black-tailed Godwits gradually arrived on the emerging mudflats in Nore Barn Creek building up to 54 birds by the time I left. I noted the following colour-ringed birds, all regulars : G+WR, R+OG, WO+LW flag. The only birds in the stream were a Greenshank and a Grey Plover which has been regular here for the past few days. Still no sign of the Spotted Redshank. Where has it got to? Will it come back?

Emsworth Millpond

The pond was still empty of water, but for a central channel from the Westbrook Stream. The regular nesting pair were in the stream together with their cygnet which was absent yesterday when I think I saw it at Nore Barn. It was looking very good and healthy and is almost certainly now flying well. There were 5 other swans on the millpond - not yet driven off by the resident pair.



Brook Meadow - storm damage

There was surprisingly little damage following last night's storm which was certainly of much less magnitude than the storm of 1987 which brought down thousands of trees everywhere along the south coast. A large willow branch had split off just north of the north bridge over the Seagull Lane patch, but was not blocking anything.

The inner fence has been removed from the kissing gate at the Seagull Lane entrance and is currently leaning on a lamppost on the north side of Seagull Lane. The removal of the fence by the gate was so neat I thought it had been planned. It does make it easier to negotiate with bikes. Maybe that was the reason?

Emsworth Millpond

An adult Great Black-backed Gull along with a juvenile was on the town millpond this morning. They are probably birds from the Slipper Millpond nest this spring.

Just two Mute Swans were on the pond, probably the pair that nested here. They are clearly still doing a good job in deterring the rest of the swan flock from returning, apart from the lone swan that sits on the grass verge of Bridgefoot Path. I found what is probably the cygnet from this nest at Nore Barn later - see below.

A Little Grebe was fishing in the pond, the first I have seen there this season.

Nore Barn

15:00 - 16:00. Tide rising to high water at 18:00. The conditions were better than I expected after last night's storm, though I did get caught in a torrential downpour. The sun was very bright at times, but created a nice light as it went down in the west. A good variety and number of birds gathered in the Nore Barn area as the tide rose.

Brent Geese: 25 adults and 6 juveniles in broods of 3, 2, 1. Shelduck: 11 - the first I have seen for a while. Wigeon: 168, Teal: 14

In the stream at 16:00 were Greenshank, Common Redshank, adult Black-tailed Godwit and Black-headed Gull, but no sign of the Spotted Redshank. I have had only two sightings of the Spotted Redshank in the stream this season, 11-Oct and 22-Oct. The early season sightings were very irregular last year, so I hope this is similar to that and does not indicate an abandonment of the stream.

Mute Swans: 16 including two cygnets. There has been a single cygnet with parents at Nore Barn for a couple of weeks, which I assume are from the Peter Pond nest. The other cygnet was alone and my guess is that it is the abandoned offspring of the town millpond pair which were both on the millpond when I passed by this morning. Clearly, this pair are still defending the pond as their territory from intruding swans.

Black-tailed Godwits: 150+ with 10 colour-ringed birds, including a first for Emsworth :
G+BG - Emsworth regular. 4th sighting this season.
G+WR - Emsworth regular. 7th sighting this season.
L+LL - Emsworth regular. 6th sighting this season.
R+GY - First sighting in Emsworth. My only other sighting was on 09-Jul-09 at Farlington.
R+LG - Second sighting in Emsworth this season. New one.
R+OG - Second sighting in Emsworth this season. New one.
R+YN - Second sighting in Emsworth this season.

W+WN - Second sighting in Emsworth this season.
OY+LR - Emsworth regular. 2nd sighting this season.
WO+LW flag - Emsworth regular. 3rd sighting this season.

Other birds in the area: Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank.


Insects on Hogweed

Walking through Brook Meadow this morning I noticed several insects feeding on the open flower heads of Hogweed.

The photo on the left shows a very familiar hoverfly Helophilus pendulus which is fairly easy to identify from the longitudinal stripes on its thorax - also known as 'The Footballer' for its striped 'shirt'.

The photo on the right shows very bristly black fly with red bases on its wings. My very tentative guess is a Tachinid Fly whose larvae are internal parasites of caterpillars and other young insects. See . . .

Sparrowhawk in garden

Patrick Murphy has had a Sparrowhawk visiting his garden in North Emsworth a couple of times this week. Today it landed on a bird feeder stand about 8 ft the other side of the window giving Patrick a good photo opportunity. From the rufous barred underparts this bird looks like a male.

Blashford Lakes

Heather Mills reports on yesterday's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. The group were delighted to see a Great White Egret close to in their first hide. The yellow colour of the bill (dark in the breeding season) and pure white plumage showed up well. It soon got chased off by the local Grey Heron.

Heather's full report is on the 2013 reports web page at . . . Havant Wildlife Group



12:30 - 13:30 Tide rising to high water at 15:20. The tide was already filling up the western harbour by the time I arrived.

Brent Geese - were up on yesterday with 48 on the western mudflats including 10 juveniles in families of 4, 3, 2 and 1. The families with 3 and 2 juveniles were new from yesterday. My current percentage of juveniles to adults is approaching 20%, though I am sure some of the juveniles have been counted more than once.

Black-tailed Godwits - These were also well up on yesterday with a total of 136 in the western harbour, including Nore Barn. In general, they were too far away, or in water, for me to check for colour-rings. However, I did find WO+LW flag - the 3rd sighting in Emsworth this season.

Buzzards - Two Buzzards flew out of Nore Barn Woods making quite a racket and flew off together towards Warblington. Nest site prospecting?

Nore Barn stream - The only birds in the stream today were 6 Mute Swans. No sign of any shanks, godwits or egrets.


Malcolm Phillips is back from his hols and had a walk around the meadow today. He had a Red Admiral feeding on the bank of Michaelmas Daisies. He also got this unusual perspective on a bright Comma. It should soon be looking for somewhere to hibernate for the winter.



11:30 - 12:30 - Tide rising to high water at 14:45. An incredibly strong SW wind was blowing into my face while cycling along Western Parade towards Nore Barn.

Black-tailed Godwits

104 were feeding and roosting on the edge of the rising tide at Nore Barn with some handsome male Wigeon mixed in with them. They included 9 colour-ringed birds. Four regular Emsworth godwits. The rest first timers.

G+BG - Regular in Emsworth since Sep 2010. 3rd sighting this season.

G+WR - Regular in Emsworth since Jul 2009. 6th sighting this season.

WO+LW flag - Regular in Emsworth since Nov 2010. 2nd sighting here this season.

ROL+RLR - Regular in Emsworth since Oct 2009. 4th sighting here this season.

O+OG - First sighting in Emsworth since Jan 2006. Seems to have been a Fishbourne - Bosham regular since then.

B+RN - This is my first ever record of this bird.

R+LG - This is my first ever record of this bird. It could possibly be O+LG.

R+OG - Previously seen by Peter Milinets-Raby at Warblington on 17-Oct-13. This is the first sighting in Emsworth.

R+OY - This is my first ever record of this bird.

For all the Black-tailed Godwit news in Emsworth go to . . . Black-tailed Godwits


Brent Geese - 26 were on the western mudflats with 5 juveniles in broods of 4 and 1. In the Nore Barn stream were one Little Egret and one Greenshank. 12 Mute Swans. No sign of the Spotted Redshank today.


I sent a copy of the photo of the insect I photographed on Oct 21 on Hogweed on Brook Meadow to Bryan Pinchen for his opinion.

Bryan said the insect was not a Psyllid bug, but was a true fly (diptera). A Psyllid bug would have the wings held roof-wise or tent-like over the abdomen, not flat across it like this insect. He thought it may be one of the Drosophlildae or Agromyzidae, but the wing venation was not clear enough on the photo to be certain.

Images of Drosophlildae on Google have the same large red eyes as the insect in my photo with wings held flat over the abdomen, but there are hundreds of them, so that is as far as I can go. See . . .



11:00 -12:00 - Tide rising to high water at 14:00. I spent an hour at Nore Barn with intermittent rain and strong wind blowing from the SW. Black-tailed Godwits - 52 arrived to feed on the mudflats, with three colour-ringed birds: RLR+ROL - Kent ringed. 3rd sighting this season. L+LL - 5th sighting this season. WO+LW flag - Ringed as a chick in north Iceland on 13th July 2010 by Ruth Croger and Pete Potts. A regular in Emsworth over the past 3 winters. First sighting this season.

Two Greenshank and a Little Egret at the top of the Nore Barn Woods channel. One Greenshank was colour-ringed - LG+YY. This was my frst ever sighting of this bird - probably one of those ringed at Thorney Island earlier this month.

The Spotted Redshank was back in the Nore Barn stream - first sighting since 11-Oct. It was feeding with Greenshank.

Common Redshank, Little Egret and juvenile Black-tailed Godwit were also in the stream. Six Mute Swans were in the lower stream along with 9 Brent Geese and 100+ Wigeon and Teal.


Barry Collins caught a Convolvulus Hawk-moth in his garden last night. This is a large species, with a wingspan of over 10cm. It is a migrant in Britain, appearing sometimes in fairly good numbers, most often seen in late summer and autumn, usually with influxes of other migrant species, when it turns up in light traps and feeding at garden flowers, especially those of the tobacco plant (Nicotiana).



I did a tour around the Emsworth waysides this afternoon. It was great to see that all of the Waysides have been cut - courtesy of Richard Denman and his team at Havant Borough Coucil. The team have done a good job and all of the Waysides. The Friends of Emsworth Waysides are very grateful for the ongoing support from the Borough. Here is the Washington Road path where the Greater Burdock used to stand tall. They should be back next year.

Here are the large berries on the American Hawthorn - Broad-leaved Cockspur Thorn - on the Westbourne Open Space. Much smaller berries on the native Hawthorn growing nearby.


Walking through Brook Meadow this morning I noticed a number of insects feeding on the flowering umbels of Hogweed along the main river path. These included drone flies and hover flies (Scaeva pyrastri)

Psyllid bug ??

I also noticed what looked like a Psyllid bug with gingery wings and big red eyes . Psyllid Bugs are small homopteran bugs, which are often called jumping plant lice from their ability to leap well with the hind legs. From the British Bugs web site the best match for my photo was the Boxwood Psyllid - Psylla buxi. This is said to be widespread in Britain, but only on box trees. So, what was it doing feeding on Hogweed flowers on Brook Meadow where there are no Box trees to my knowledge.

Correction - I sent a copy of the photo to Bryan Pinchen for his opinion. Bryan said the insect was not a Psyllid bug, but was a true fly (diptera). A Psyllid bug would have the wings held roof-wise or tent-like over the abdomen, not flat across it like this insect. He thought it may be one of the Drosophlildae or Agromyzidae, but the wing venation was not clear enough on the photo to be certain.

Images of Drosophlildae on Google have the same large red eyes as the insect in my photo with wings held flat over the abdomen, but there are hundreds of them, so that is as far as I can go. See . . .


Barry Collins reports that the colour ringed Spotted Redshank W+GY was back at the Thorney Deeps on Thursday 17th Oct. His first sighting since March this year.Keep a look out for it in the small stream that flows into Nutbourne Bay which is where it likes to feed.



Nore Barn

I paid two visits to Nore Barn today, one before high water (10am) and the other after high water (2.30pm). The birds in the stream were much the same on both occasions with Greenshank, Little Egret, juvenile Black-tailed Godwit and four Mute Swans prominent, but no sign of the regular Spotted Redshank. The same thing happened last year when the bird was absent from the stream for over a week after the first couple of sightings. I suspect the bird has not yet settled down into a feeding routine. I checked the pond in the field at the head of the Nore Barn Creek where I did see a Spotted Redshank occasionally last winter, but there has been nothing there.

On the afternoon visit I found two Spotted Redshanks quite a long way out. I suspect these were the two I previously saw here on Oct 7. I do not think either of them was our regular Spotted Redshank as they made no attempt to feed in the stream and stayed close together on the edge of the mudflats. My apologies for a lousy digiscoped photo, but they were a long way off and it was dark!

About 30 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the mudflats at the end of Kings Road, but were too far away to read any colour-rings. On the first visit I saw three Pied Wagtails flitting around on the edges of the stream.

I met Chris Berners-Price who told me that the Spoonbill was still at West Wittering yesterday. It would be good to see it in Emsworth - the last Spoonbill we had in the harbour was in December 2002 and I remember it as if it was yesterday. Here is one of the many photos I took of it at the time.

A visiting photographer was at Nore Barn present in the afternoon, squatting on the edge of the stream with a huge lens camera. He got photos of the Greenshank and the Godwit. But, do photographers with such big cameras really need to get so close to the birds? Fortunately, these birds are well used to people and were not disturbed.

Several local residents saw two dogs attacking swans in the harbour again this morning. They obtained photos and have been interviewed by the police. Let's hope they can put a stop to this unpleasant behaviour. (see entry for Oct 14).

Brent Geese

I found a total of 34 Brent Geese on the eastern and western mudflats including 8 juveniles in broods of 4, 3, 1 and 1. This brings my current percentage of juveniles to adults to 20% which looks like a good breeding season, though the figures may be misleading as Brent families usually assemble in the safety of the harbour away from the large flocks. I suspect the final percentage will be lower.


There were 10 Mute Swans on the town millpond when I passed this afternoon, including the nesting pair and their cygnet. The cob of the nesting pair continues to strut around the pond with wings raised, but with far less effect on the other swans. It looks as if we may have our swan flock back?

The usual autumn influx of Coot onto Slipper Millpond has not taken place so far this year. There's only the two resident pairs on the pond along with 10 on Peter Pond, including some of the juveniles from this year's brood.

I have not seen the Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond for a while. The Millpond Association AGM takes place on Nov 1 at which the policy concerning future nesting of the gulls on the centre raft will be discussed.


I found a Helophilus pendulus hoverfly feeding on Hogweed flowers on Brook Meadow.

A few yellow petals of Greater Celandine were just hanging on at the end of the path from Seagull Lane to Lumley Mill.
There is a good crop of red Crab Apples on the tree in the front garden of Boundary Cottage in Lumley Road. Hopefully they will attract some wintering thrushes. The tree had no fruit on it at all last year.


Andy Johnson posted a message on Hoslist this morning that he had discovered a Semipalmated Plover on the wader roost at Black Point Hayling Island. This is a North American bird which is a rare vagrant to Europe and there have only been two British records according to the Collins Bird Guide, but is probably overlooked. Clearly, you need to be an expert to identify the poor bird and Andy is an expert! Naturally, Andy's news produced quite a 'twitch'.

Peter Milinets-Raby is not one for twitching, but today he was very lucky to have a driving instruction pupil that lived on Hayling Island and finished the lesson at 11:30am which just coincided with the Semipalmated Plover being re-discovered on Black Point. In the hour gap before his next pupil Peter managed to get this rather nice photo of the first winter Semipalmated Plover on the left along with what looks like a snoozing Dunlin on the right.

Latest news - Andy Johnson reported that at 14:30 it flew off high NE into Sussex. Goodbye?



I went over to the meadow for the regular Thursday work session on a fine warm morning after early rain. There was a good turn out of 10 volunteers who were mainly concerned with removing the recently lopped Crack Willow branches to a safer location.

For the full report on the work session and more photos go to . . .

Wildlife observations

A Grey Wagtail was flitting around the river just north of the south bridge. Too quick for a photo. A very fresh Red Admiral was seen close to where the branches were being stacked. I saw another (presumably different) one about an hour later on the Seagull Lane patch.

Lots of 'Nursery-web spiders' (Pisaura mirabilis) were sunbathing on the nettle leaves along the main river path. Some were in the distinctive posture with their front two legs on either side extending forward and very close together.

Plants in flower on the meadow included Wood Avens, Yarrow, Herb-Robert, Michaelmas Daisies, Hogweed (white and pink), Bramble, Black Horehound, Hedge Woundwort, Red Dead-nettle, Groundsel, Common Field Speedwell, Scentless Mayweed, White Dead-nettle, Dandelion, Large Bindweed, Hedge Bindweed, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Ragwort, Purple Toadflax, Smooth Sow-thistle and False Oat-grass.

Plenty of bright red berries adorn the Bittersweet plant on the river bank in Palmer's Road Copse.


13:30 - 14:30 - 2-3 hours after high water. I watched the stream for about an hour during which time four regular birds arrived to feed, Little Egret, juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Black-headed Gull. There was no sign of the Spotted Redshank while I was there.

Honey Fungus

On the way to Nore Barn I came across a cluster of fungi growing at the base of a Silver Birch tree on the roadside verge on the south side of Warblington Road opposite house Number 39. It looks like Honey Fungus to me which is not good news for the Silver Birch tree. This is a destructive species which kills a variety of trees and shrubs and spreads to new hosts by sending what look like 'black bootlaces' up the trunk just below the bark, choking the vessels which carry the tree's nutrients.


Peter Milinets-Raby was on the Warblington shore from 7:35am until 9:25am. The birds of note were as follows:

Ibis Field (east of the cemetery extension): male and 3 female Pheasants, Chiffchaff Green Woodpecker.

Off Pook Lane: 9 Wigeon, 67 Brent Geese, 7 Grey Plover, 32 Dunlin, 30+ Teal, 2 Black-tailed Godwits (one with coloured rings R-R/OG - where Red is above and below the knee. The first I have recorded - probably one of the new batch! 60+ Bar-tailed Godwits (Flew off just as I was counting them!)

Off Conigar Point: Migrant movement noted by 12 Skylarks (mostly singles, one group of 4), 22 Meadow Pipits and 2 Siskin. 3 Pintail (male, female and eclipse male), 48 Wigeon

133 Teal, 12 Brent Geese, 11 Grey Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, Greenshank (coloured ringed RW/BtagY. Cetti's Warbler heard singing just the once from reedbed. Chiffchaff in Tamarisk Trees. 35+ Linnet flock in big field next to point. Rock Pipit.


Keith Betton reports on the latest official figures on farmland birds released today by the RSPB which show they are continuing to decline. The Farmland Bird Index - which covers 19 species reliant on the farmed countryside - has seen a five year decline of eight per cent. Looking back over 40 years the long term decline in farmland birds is 50 per cent, however the decline has slowed in recent years.

Turtle Doves are the fastest declining species - down 95 per cent since 1970 - and reports from earlier this year suggest it is the worst year ever for sightings. Other species hit hard include Lapwings, which are down 63 per cent since 1970; Corn Buntings, down 90 per cent; and Skylarks, down 59 per cent. Species that are doing well include Jackdaws, whose numbers have increased by 140 per cent since 1970, and Woodpigeons, which are up 134 per cent.



14:30 - 15:30 - Viewing from the millpond seawall. About 4 hours after high water. Conditions were good with a bright sun from behind, but a strong wind.

A good flock of 78 Black-tailed Godwits was close in on the near side of the channel, a few were feeding, but most were snoozing while standing on one leg. They only moved once in the hour I was there, but as that was to change legs, it gave me the chance to check for colour-rings. I managed to read four combinations, all are Emsworth regulars and have been previously seen this season. L+LL - G+BG - R+YN - RLR+ROL (Kent ringed).

Four Greenshank were feeding on the edge of the main channel including two colour-ringed birds:

RG+BY (geo) - caught at Thorney and fitted geolocators to the blue rings. The blue ring is looking black. Last seen in Emsworth Harbour on 26-Sep-13.

YN+LG ? - Not 100% sure about this one. Not seen it before in Emsworth. Here is my poor digiscoped photo.

Two Little Egrets. No sign of the Spoonbill that was at West Wittering yesterday. Three Brent Geese swimming up the main channel. A Curlew was settled on the edge of the town channel - quite an unusual sight.


Kent sightings

Dudley Hird reports there are over 3,000 Black-tailed Godwits on the three main sites around the Kent estuaries at present. Some of the colour-ringed Godwits that have been recorded this autumn in Emsworth Harbour have also been seen in Kent. The first two clearly dropped into Kent on the way here. The third one was a maverick and went the other way!

ROL-RLR was in Kent on 6-Oct-2013 and in Emsworth 8 days later on 14-Oct-13

W+WN was in Kent on 5-Aug-2013 and in Emsworth on 26-Sep-13.

L+LN went the other way as it was in Emsworth on 27-Aug-13 and was seen a month later in Kent on 25-Sep-2013. I recall Godwits in the past flying to and from Kent on occasions.

Farlington ringing

There was a successful colour-ringing session at Farlington Marshes yesterday (October 15). In total, Pete Potts and his team caught and ringed around 90 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Shoveler, 3 Knot, 12 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 14 Teal and a Bar-tailed Godwit. So, there will be a few more colour-ringed Godwits to look out for locally. For the full report along with some photos go to . . .



Tide falling from high water at 09:23. Weather, calm, bright sun.

Birds in the Nore Barn stream - 11:30-12:00 - Two hours after high water. Little Egret and Greenshank were present when I arrived later joined by the juvenile Black-tailed Godwit. But there was no sign of Spotted Redshank, though it came in quite late yesterday. I do recall last year that the bird took some while to settle down into a routine of visiting the stream.

Insects - I saw two Red Admirals along the shore by the woods, one of which settled for a photo.

Lots of insects were feeding on the Ivy flowers on the large hedge at the end of Warblington Road.

Swans on the Millpond - 10 Mute Swans were on the town millpond when I passed by, plus another two in the harbour near the quay. The nesting pair were also present and made half-hearted attempts to chase off the other birds, but with no effect. I think they have now come to tolerate the presence of these companions.

No Godwits

Unlike yesterday, there were no Black-tailed Godwits on the town shore, but I did not wait for them to arrive.


14:30 - 15:30 - I had a walk along the coastal path from Nutbourne Bay towards Prinsted this afternoon. The tide was way out and the sun was too strong for easy birdwatching. There were masses of Wigeon in the bay along with a few Black-tailed Godwits. I managed to age a flock of 103 Brent Geese which included 15 juveniles in broods of 5, 4, 2, 3 and 1.

Meadow Pipits were active in the bushes, along with the occasional Stonechat. This female Stonechat perched for a photo surrounded by autumn fruits.

I got a good view of a pair of Kestrels hunting on the old Conservancy meadow at the end of Farm Lane. I used to found Snipe in this meadow, but sadly no longer as it is seriously overgrown with scrub.



Tide falling from high water at 08:14. Weather, light wind and occasional sun.

Birds in the Nore Barn stream - 10:00 - 11:30

10:00 - The Greenshank was already present in the stream when I arrived shortly to be joined by the Little Egret. A little later a second Little Egret arrived, but was not tolerated by the resident Egret and was chased off. The same happened to a second Greenshank which landed very briefly in the stream only to be promptly seen off by the resident Greenshank. I have noticed this behaviour on other occasions before - defending a good feeding site? The Greenshank and Egret fed together quite happily for the next hour or so as the stream gradually emptied of water. They were joined on occasions by a Black-headed Gull and a Woodpigeon, but they did not stay for long.

10:45 - a Grey Plover arrived in the stream, feeding on the far bank.

11:30 - the Spotted Redshank finally turned as I was about to leave. It immediately attracted the attention of its 'friend' the Greenshank and both birds began feeding together in the lower part of the stream.

I counted a total of 40 dog walkers passing the Nore Barn stream in the hour and a half I was present, but fortunately there was no disturbance of the birds feeding in the stream at all. However, I met a lady, whose house overlooks the stream, who was very concerned about the lack of control displayed by one owner in particular whose two dogs daily are allowed to run loose into the stream and over the mudflats, disturbing the birds. These were the dogs responsible for savaging the Mute Swan a few weeks ago, when the owner was spoken to by the police and the local dog warden, but seemingly with little effect.

Black-tailed Godwits

Nore Barn - about 10 Black-tailed Godwits settled on the saltmarshes on the far side of the channel. and some came onto the mudflats to feed of which one was colour-ringed:

OY+LR - Ringed as a chick in Iceland in July 1999 which makes it 14 years old! It has been seen fairly regularly in Emsworth Harbour since 2004, usually early in the winter season (Aug-Dec) with a total of 33 sightings. First sighting this season.

Eastern harbour - 11:45 - 12:30 - From The Fishermans outlook I got a very good view of a flock of 132 Black-tailed Godwits on the town shore. Most were snoozing on one leg, but some were feeding on the edge of the channel. I went through most of them for colour-rings and found the following two combinations - first sighting this season, but fairly regular visitors in previous winters.

LY+RO - Ringed in Iceland as a breeding male in June 2003 which makes it at least 11 years old. It has been seen in Emsworth Harbour occasionally since 2003, usually in autumn (Oct-Nov) with a total of 13 sightings.

ROL+RLR - Ringed on 27-Oct-08 at Kingsnorth Power Station, Medway Est. Kent as an adult male. This bird has been seen very regularly in Emsworth Harbour each winter since 2009 with a total of 65 sightings. It is also seen early in the season by Dudley Hird in Kent.

I found a small group of 5 Brent Geese on the mudflats east of the Emsworth Sailing Club building. They were the only Brents I saw all morning.

EMSWORTH MILLPOND - Mute Swans return

I was surprised to find 12 Mute Swans on the southern part of the millpond. These are probably the ones that have been regularly gathering in the harbour beneath the millpond seawall and have finally ventured onto the pond without being driven off by the resident nesting pair.


Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning for a walk along to Langstone Mill Pond via Wade Court Lane (9am to 11am) then across the main road via the Billy Trail to overlook Langstone Harbour from the bridge.

Migration was still in evidence with three flocks of Meadow Pipits flying over (totalling 32 birds), 2 Skylark 4 Pied Wagtails, 2 Swallows and 2 Siskin flying over. 1+ Chiffchaff calling from trees along Wade Court Lane.

On the pond: 2 Shoveler (still in eclipse), 27 Teal (half in eclipse, some nice males), 6 roosting Little Egrets and 8 Grey Herons siting out high tide (the most I have seen). Grey Wagtail fly over. Kingfisher heard twice, but not seen. Only 2 juvenile Mute Swans with their parents. Other cygnet probably flown? In the air at once over the pond Peter had Buzzard, male Sparrowhawk and a female Kestrel.

Off Langstone Bridge: 97 Brent Geese, 48 Wigeon, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Common Scoter, male Goldeneye, 2 Rock Pipits and 3 Grey Plover on the shore.



Spotted Redshank returns for 10th winter

14:30 - 15:00 - about two hours to high water. It was pouring with rain when I arrived at Nore Barn which continued during the whole of my stay. But that did not dampen my spirits at all, as the first bird I saw in the stream was a Spotted Redshank.

But was it THE Spotted Redshank? I watched it feeding and it began to look more and more like the 'tame' bird that had been coming here to feed for the past 9 winters. I became more certain when the Greenshank arrived to feed in very close company with its 'friend'.

Other birds arrived to feed in the stream as I was watching, including the now regular juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, the Little Egret and a Common Redshank, plus a group of Mute Swans.

Dog disturbance

I managed to take a few photos from under my umbrella before a boisterous dog chased all the birds from the stream. I had a word with the owners asking them politely if they would consider putting their dog on a lead when passing by the stream in future, as the dog had just disturbed several migrant birds which had just arrived after a long journey from Northern Scandinavia. They replied that they were not aware of the presence of the birds and would do so in future. Whatever happens they are now aware of the birds and let's hope come to appreciate the need to allow them to feed undisturbed.


I was finally convinced that the Spotted Redshank was the regular wintering bird when it returned about 5 minutes after being chased off along with the Greenshank, Little Egret and the juvenile Black-tailed Godwit. This Spotted Redshank has now returned to feed in the Nore Barn stream for the 10th winter running.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is the same bird that has come back each year; it arrives and leaves on schedule and behaves in exactly the same manner and is 'tame'. This year it was two days later than last year, but is the second earliest on record. See all the arrival and departure dates at . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn


While looking around the Bridge Road Wayside I came across a badly decayed and eaten corpse of a large dog-like animal, probably a Fox.



Tide rising to high water at 15:42

Eastern harbour - 12:00 -13:00 - From the Fishermans lookout I got a good view of the Black-tailed Godwit roost that was progressively developing as the tide pushed in. My final count was 134 all clustered together on a small mud island near the south shore. They included two colour-ringed birds: O+WL - 2nd sighting this autumn. G+WR - 5th sighting this autumn.

16 Mute Swans had gathered in the harbour beneath the quay, no doubt awaiting their chance to get back onto the millpond, though this is still dominated by the resident nesting pair.

Western harbour - 13:00 - 14:00

As I made my way along Western Parade towards Nore Barn I spotted a bright yellow Clouded Yellow. It came to rest on the back lawn of one of the houses overlooking the harbour.

I got to Nore Barn at 13:30 by which time the tide was well advanced. I found 56 Black-tailed Godwits feeding on one of the remaining mud islands in the harbour. I have no idea if they were some of the birds I saw in the eastern harbour, though I did not see any flocks in flight.

By the time I left Nore Barn at about 14:00 birds in the stream included 3 Mute Swans, the juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, an unringed Greenshank and two Little Egrets. There was no sign of Spotted Redshank, which last year had arrived by now, though that was specially early.

Here is the Greenshank standing on a rock as the water rises around


Ros Norton walked down the west side of Thorney this morning as far as the deeps and saw 2 Stonechats, 1 Wheatear, 1 Clouded Yellow and a Small Copper.


Keith Betton reported on Hoslist a decline in Collared Doves in his garden (from up to 10, down to maybe just 2), and noted a couple of similar comments in the Hampshire Bird Report. Keith noted also that results just in from the BTO's Garden BirdWatch show that the Collared Dove has declined by a quarter in gardens in the last decade. One reason for this could be the increasing Woodpigeon numbers - the two birds perhaps competing for similar food and habitat. However it is thought that Collared Doves could be more susceptible to the illness trichomonosis than Woodpigeons and that the rise in disease incidents might be having an effect on the Collared Dove population. Keith also noted that Sparrowhawks killed at least four Collared Doves in his garden in the last three years. He asked what others have experienced.

My own experience since I started the GardenBirdwatch recording in my present urban garden in the village of Emsworth in 1997 mirrors that reported by Keith and the BTO. After a steady increase from a weekly mean of 1.9 in 1997 to a peak of 8.2 in 2008 with a constant 100% presence, the weekly mean plummeted to 3.4 in 2009 and was only 2.2 in 2012, with only around 80-90% presence. However, there does appear to be signs of a recovery this year with a weekly mean of 3.9 and a 100% appearance.

Keith mentions Woodpigeons as a possible reason for the decline. In my garden (as in the Garden BirdWatch generally) Woodpigeons have increased over the past 15 years with the weekly mean steadily rising from 0.3 in 1998 to 2.1 in 2008 after which it stabilized. But I have not seen any obvious signs of the two species competing for food that I put out for the birds.

I did not realise that Collared Doves were subject to the illness trichomonosis which has so devastated the Greenfinch population since 2006. But that could be a factor certainly as the decline in Collared Doves began two years later in 2008. Interestingly, Chaffinches. which also suffered from trichomonosis, declined in my garden at the same time as the Collared Doves, down from a weekly mean of 5.5 in 2008 to 2.5 the following year. And, like Collared Doves, Chaffinches are showing signs of recovery this year - up to weekly mean of 4.5 so far.

As for Sparrowhawk attacks, I only recall seeing one pile of feathers, probably from Collared Dove in the garden over the past year. I do not see this as a likely cause.



Eastern harbour - 11:00 11:30. Tide rising to high water at 14:50. I counted 58 Brent Geese off the Thorney seawall - my biggest count so far this autumn. They were too far away for aging.

A flock of 120 Black-tailed Godwits assembled at their regular roost on the western edge of the main channel as the tide rose - best seen from the outlook at the end of Fisherman's Walk.

I found two colour-ringed birds: L+LL - Third sighting this autumn. R+YN - Only one other Emsworth sighting on 20-Nov-10. Other birds in the harbour included 80+ Redshank, 10 Turnstone (with the Godwits).

Western harbour 11:30 - 12:45. There was a good collection of ducks in the main channels, roughly 150 Teal and 60 Wigeon. There was no juvenile Black-tailed Godwit in the Nore Barn stream today, nor any sign of Spotted Redshank. However, the regular Little Egret and Greenshank did turn up just before I left at 12.45.

Interestingly, one of my photos showed the Greenshank 'spurting'. I have just one other photo showing a Greenshank spurting taken on 08-Feb-12 at Nore Barn. This is the first example I have of this behaviour (which so puzzles the experts) in any wader this season. For more information go to the special 'spurting' page at . . . Spurting behaviour


I had a quick look at the wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station this afternoon. I was surprised to find a new trench had been dug along the whole length of the land to the north of the wayside from New Brighton Road. The trench went beneath the path leading from Washington Road to the Recreation Ground and into the field where the new service station on the south side of the A27 trunk road is being constructed. This trench clearly accounts for the recent clearance of vegetation along this stretch.

I noticed a late flowering of Marsh Woundwort on the Railway Wayside close to the new ramp.



Tide rising to high water at 14:00. Beautiful morning, but the sun was a bit bright.

Eastern harbour - 10:30 About 50 Black-tailed Godwits were assembled in the usual spot on the edge of the main channel.

Western harbour - 11:00 - 12:00. Good numbers of Teal and Wigeon were in the channels, but no Brent Geese. No sign of the Spotted Redshanks that I saw yesterday. The juvenile Black-tailed Godwit was feeding in the Nore Barn stream for the second day running; it has clearly discovered a good source of nourishment.

I walked along the shore to the south of the woods where a group of Starlings were whistling and chattering away in a big Bramble bush just before the interpretation board. I have seen and heard them in this bush several times in the past. One of the Starlings perched conveniently on a small twig for me to take a photo.

A little further along the shore where the seawall reconstruction is taking place, I found the Chicory plant in full flower (previously seen on Sep 18), with a A Drone Fly (probably Eristalis tenax) feeding.

12:00 - Back to the Nore Barn stream I was pleased to meet Peter Milinets-Raby and his young son Aleksandr who were also looking at the birds. We waited watching the tide come in, but there was no sign of the Spotted Redshank. A Little Egret flew into the stream and immediately shooed off another Egret that had been feeding there.

I cycled along the coastal path towards the Emsworth Sailing Club building where I counted a flock of 136 Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the shore. Most of the birds were in water, so I was only able to check about 40 of them for colour-rings, but found none. This is clearly the regular Emsworth Godwit flock though they have not got around to feeding on the Nore Barn mudflats, which they usually prefer later in the winter.


Peter had just come from Brook Meadow where he saw 4 individual Chiffchaffs from various parts of the meadow, though he though some of the sightings might be duplicates.

He bumped into a very vocal Tit flock near the railway tunnel consisting of 7 Long-tailed Tits, 4+ Great Tits, 6+ Blue Tits and 1 Chiffchaff. Birds seen flying overhead included Grey Heron, Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and 3 Swallows. He saw good numbers of butterflies: Red Admiral (2+), Whites (4+), Comma (1) and Small Copper (1+) and other 'Little Ones' up high in the trees near the car park (3+), possibly Speckled Woods?



Tide rising to high water at 13:30. 09:30 - Looking across the western mudflats I counted 164 Teal - by far the largest count so far this season. Apart from gulls, the only other birds on the mudflats were a few Black-tailed Godwits (10+), Redshank, Dunlin and Curlew. What I assume was the regular Greenshank was in one of the small channels at Nore Barn.
10:30 - A juvenile Black-tailed Godwit was feeding alone in the stream at Nore Barn. It was still there an hour later when I left.

Two Spotted Redshanks were on the far side of the Nore Barn creek. I watched them for about 30 minutes as they fed together before they both flew off east, coming to rest on the edge of the main saltmarshes. Neither of them was colour-ringed. They did not come into the Nore Barn stream so I assume neither was the regular 'tame' Spotted Redshank that has wintered here for the past 9 years.

11:30 - I could see a line of about 140 Black-tailed Godwits on one of the fast disappearing mud islands far out on the western mudflats.


I have received three extra contributions about the recent sightings of Water Voles in Havant, in the small pond north of the Bosmere School grounds and south of the newish Mencap centre called Dolphin Court, where the Dolphin pub used to be.

Martin Hampton says "in the last year or two I have, on five or six occasions, seen Water Voles feeding in the stream alongside Tesco, just north of the A27. I guess the channel here is part of the old water mill. It would only be a short-ish trip from there following the stream, albeit under the road, to the pond".

I passed Martin's comments to Nik Knight who provided more details about the complex watercourses in that area. Nik says, "the the water from the Dolphin spring is joined by the water from the Homewell spring and then flows under Park Road South to the old millpond site (Langstone Gate, the ex De La Rue offices). That is later joined by the flow down the 'River Lavant' which has come from Rowlands Castle, under Havant town centre and then past the pet shop and Tesco. So all these watercourses link up, becoming what locals refer to as the 'Langbrook Stream' which leads under the A27 and past Bosmere field to reach the sea at the end of Mill Lane, Langstone."

Another significant contribution to this discussion comes from Tim Abel who indicates the voles have been there for longer than we have previously acknowledged. He says, "There have been Water Voles on that stream to my knowledge since the early 1970's. I used to travel along the river in front of what used to be IBM Havant (now Langstone Technology Park) every day and there was often a Water Vole to be seen munching the watercress just north of the road bridge into the site (off the Hayling road, I don't mean the A27 bridges). I saw them there as recently as last year so it has been a continuous habitation for over 40 years."


Colin Vanner sent some excellent images from his walks yesterday. First a Hornet in Southwick Woods. Colin said the insects were everywhere, not swarming just flying around separately and sitting in the sun.

and this female Kestrel with a kill at Farlington Marshes


Nore Barn

15:30 - About 3 hours after high water. No sign of the Spotted Redshank in the stream as yet, just one Greenshank and a Little Egret. However, there was a flock of 34 Shelduck far out in the channel - the best number so far. While I was watching them a group of 6 Brent Geese flew in, a family of 2 adults and 4 juveniles. This augurs well for the breeding success of the Brents. Perhaps this family will spend the winter here in Emsworth. There were no Black-tailed Godwits at all on the western mudflats and I only found 5 of them feeding on the mudflats east of the Emsworth Sailing Club building. Maybe, the flocks I saw earlier have moved on?

Ivy flowers are starting to open on the large hedge on the coastal path at the end of Warblington Road.

Emsworth Millpond

I was surprised to find two Mute Swan families on the millpond when I passed this afternoon. The regular family with their one cygnet was at the northern end of the pond near the bridge. A second family, also with one cygnet, was in the southern section of the pond. I suspect this was the family from the Peter Pond nest. The presence of 4 other swans on the millpond caused me to wonder if the 'resident' nesting pair was becoming more tolerant of the presence of other swans on the pond.

Brook Meadow

Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow yesterday when he saw Small Copper, Comma and a large Dark Bush-cricket and found two dead shrews and a dead frog where the grass had just been cut, presumably victims of the cutting that has taken place in the past week.

Patrick Murphy was walking back from the village through Brook Meadow when he found a Red Admiral sunning itself on a tree trunk in today's morning sun. Patrick says the butterfly's colouring looked fresh and vibrant - suggesting a recent hatching? He said the photo was the correct way up - the butterfly was face downwards situated on a tree trunk on east side of causeway path between sluice gate and S-bend.

Bridge Road Wayside

The Environment Agency have strimmed the edges of the Westbrook Stream in the Bridge Road Wayside for their annual autumn cut. Thoughtfully, they avoided cutting down the Bulrushes flowers in the southern part of the stream. They chopped branches from the Goat Willow and left them on the grass verge.

Rare birds on the Somerset Levels

BTO News reported "Conservationists in Somerset are celebrating this week with the news that the Avalon Marshes has had its best year ever for breeding birds. The Avalon Marshes is a huge wetland recreation site to the west of Glastonbury managed by Natural England (NE), Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT), Hawk and Owl Trust and RSPB.

Following the first UK nesting Great White Egrets last year in the marshes, this summer has seen two pairs nest; one again at Natural England's Shapwick National Nature Reserve (producing two youngsters) and a new pair within the boundary of the RSPB's Ham Wall nature reserve (producing three young).

The RSPB reserve at Ham Wall has also been host to a nesting pair of Little Bitterns. This is the only known UK breeding location for these remarkably shy and diminutive members of the heron family and this year two young birds successfully fledged.

And, to add to the totals, Great Bitterns have had yet another amazing year across the Avalon Marshes. On RSPB, NE and SWT land, as many as 33 "booming" males have been heard across the wetlands. This makes the area now one of the UK's hotspots for this rare and remarkable bird.

Alongside the nesting bitterns and egrets, the wetlands have also provided a home for Marsh Harriers, with four nests producing thirteen young."

I was pleased to make my first ever visit to the levels this summer and I can highly recommend them.



I visited the meadow this morning mainly to collect a few plants for display at the AGM this evening. There is a good late flowering of False Oat-grass on the edge of the cut area on the north meadow. There is a splendid crop of flowering Michaelmas Daisies on the Lillywhite's patch close the garden of Gooseberry Cottage. I collected some of these for the display.

Malcolm Phillips sent me this fine image of a late flying Comma that he took on the meadow which I used in my wildlife review of 2013 for the AGM.


I checked the western harbour from 1-2pm with the tide falling. The only birds in the Nore Barn stream were one Little Egret and 7 Mute Swans. A single colour-ringed Greenshank RY+YY arrived which I have not previously seen. Possibly a newly ringed bird? Surprisingly, the Black-tailed Godwits did not show up in the time I was there. I had two firsts for the winter season. A single Brent Goose was far out on the western mudflats and a Great Crested Grebe was swimming in the main channel.

Lesser Sea-spurrey was flowering on the edge of the tarmac path leading to the stream. Sepals longer than petals.



Peter Milinets-Raby had a good morning down Warblington shore (7:07am to 9:38am) on an incoming tide.

Off Pook Lane: 72 Dunlin, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Greenshank, 6 Grey Plover, 68 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Lapwing, 3 winter plumaged Knot, Snipe flew over heading south. Yellow Wagtail 3 over south east and 2 in with cattle. In the hedges were 3+ Chiffchaff and a male Blackcap. Here is one of the wagtails.

Off Conigar Point: 3+ Chiffchaff in Tamarisk trees (one singing), Whitethroat, Cetti's Warbler in Tamarisk trees (sang half its song on three occasions before singing its full phrase - first I have heard here - could just be a migrant), Male Bearded Tit in small reedbed, then flew into Tamarisk trees - handsome bird - Again, probably a migrant. 21 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Dunlin, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 139 Teal (still in eclipse plumage - 2 males), 5 Greenshank (one with coloured rings RW/BtagY), 2 Shelduck, 23 Wigeon (in eclipse plumage), 2 Brent Geese (with 13 flying west into Langstone Harbour), 2 eclipse plumaged Pintail (5 flying over east), 60+ Meadow Pipits over SE, 25+ Swallows over, 2 Ringed Plover, 20+ Linnets, Spotted Redshank heard on several occasions but not seen, Turnstone, 2 summer plumaged Knot, 6 Little Egrets.

For earlier observations go to . . September 1-30