MARCH 16 - 2014
This morning at 7.30am
Pam Phillips saw a Water Vole on the west bank just
north of the Williams unit. That was the first
sighting from that section of the river (C) this year.
Pam also met a dog
walker who told her she had seen a man fishing north
of the north bridge where he caught a large trout. He
looked "professional" and was wearing orange clothing
with a black hat. Is that illegal? Catching the fish,
Malcolm Phillips saw a Water Vole on the north bank by
the railway embankment. This was our 10th sighting on
Brook Meadow this year.
Kite over Emsworth
Tony Wootton told me
that a Red Kite flew over Bridge Road car park going
northwards at 9am this morning. He considered knocking
on my door, but thought it too early. I would have got
out of bed for that one!
MARCH 15 - 2014
I had a walk through
Brook Meadow this morning and was pleased to hear the
song of a Goldcrest from the west bank bushes
in front of the old gasholder, particularly since I
had thought, like Firecrest, it might be out of my
range of hearing. Newly flowering near the Seagull
Lane gate is Ivy-leaved Speedwell.
Pam Phillips e-mailed
me to say the sandbags that were lining the river bank
in the north-east corner of Brook Meadow were back in
the river again this morning. That's the third time
this has happened! Pam said cycle tracks along the
path on the east side of the meadow were wider than
those of a bicycle. Clearly, the lads have been back
again. Also, an old tree trunk had been floated down
the river and was stuck just south of the culvert.
However, Malcolm Phillips told me that he and another
person had managed to retrieve the tree trunk from the
river. Well done, Malcolm.
Malcolm and I were
interested to see a group of 'hippies' on the meadow
this morning, in flowing costumes and drumming
tom-toms. Apparently, they were celebrating water.
Well, there has certainly been no shortage of that
this winter. A couple of weeks ago they would have
been knee deep in it. I guess those whose homes were
flooded would not have much sympathy with their
Malcolm got this
excellent image of a Cormorant celebrating catching
what looks like a Flounder in Slipper Millpond.
Meanwhile, I have been
celebrating the many superb displays of Lesser
Celandines along our roadside verges. The display in
Bridge Road car park is particularly fine this year. A
queen Buff-tail Bumblebee (Bombus
terrestris) was feeding on the flowers while I
was there, though I could not get its photo.
Ros Norton reported on
this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group:
There were 14 on todays walk , a lovely sunny morning
with lots of birdsong. First we saw a buzzard and a
few song thrushes on the ground in High Lawn field. We
heard drumming from greater spotted woodpeckers and
some of us heard a lesser spotted woodpecker. Green
woodpeckers were yaffling , chiffchaffs and skylarks
singing. Long tailed , blue, great and marsh tits were
seen. Three treecreepers were active around a tree in
Cedar Avenue, a nuthatch was feeding near the Stables
and there were a few rooks in the rookery nearby. On
the lake were 2 Canada geese, Mute swans, mallards ,
coots and moorhens. A jay was seen in a tree. A
speckled wood butterfly and a male brimstone were
flying in the sun. A bumblebee disappeared into a
hole. Flowers included primroses, celandines, hazel
catkins and pussy willow.
MARCH 13 - 2014
I cycled down to
Thorney Island hoping for early migrants. The only
possible migrant was a Chiffchaff singing near the
Lumley gate on Brook Meadow. No sign of any Wheatear
on Thorney. Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock
butterflies on the Cherry Plum blossom by Gooseberry
Millpond I was interested to see two adult Herring
Gulls on the centre raft. Possibly thinking about
nesting there now the Great Black-backed Gulls have
constantly calling over the pond. About 100 Brent
Geese were in the harbour at high water, but nothing
else. A pair of Tufted Ducks was on the Deckhouses
Estate pond. They could be nesting there.
I walked along the old
ERA track across North Thorney, but no sign of any
Swallows at Marina Farm. Mute Swan pair was on the
Little Deeps, plus 12 Tufted Ducks and male and female
Pochard. Little Grebe were whinnying. Coltsfoot was in
flower in the usual spot in front of the Little Deeps.
At least three
Skylarks were singing in the fields down to Great
Deeps. I met Sid Davies at Great Deeps who pointed out
a male Red-breasted Merganser on the edge of the
deeps. On the way back I came across a notice on the
bank to say that the west security gate was closed
until further notice.
Pam Phillips saw her
second Water Vole this morning at 7.30am. This one was
along the north bank, under the tree trunk which spans
the river. It was on a low branch to start with which
had been stripped of bark. It then swam several yards
towards the NE corner. It was larger and a darker
colour than the one she saw on Monday. Malcolm
Phillips also saw a Water Vole near the gasholder -
Section B. Malcolm got a very good image of the vole
eating a leaf. This was a particularly welcome
sighting as we have only had one previous sighting in
on Peter Pond
Ken and Romney Turner
were down on Peter Pond today watching people feeding
the ducks by the seat. After the people had left the
Brown Rats came out of the rocky wall to clean up.
These rats have been a permanent feature of this area
for many years, despite attempts to poison them, etc.
Although rats are not normally Ken and Romney's cup of
tea they thought this one was particularly cute. A
nice contrast with Malcolm's Water Vole above.
Barn - Warblington
took a walk this morning from Nore Barn and along the
shore to the Warblington church and back (7am to
9:40am - incoming tide, high tide due at 9:30am).
Nore Barn: 136 Brent
Geese, 10 Wigeon, 79 Teal, Greenshank and Spotted
Redshank in the stream (At 9:30am when I returned they
were both roosting on the salt marsh by the stream,
however, the Greenshank was flushed by a photographer
and it headed off towards Thorney). 79 Dunlin, 7
Turnstone, 6 Grey Plover, 3 Little Grebes, 4 Red
Breasted Mergansers. Singing Chiffchaff in the north
west corner of the wood, plus very vocal and obliging
Song Thrush (see photo).
Singing Skylark very high in the sky, 2 Song Thrush,
15+ Stock Dove.
Off Conigar Point: 94
Bar tailed Godwit, 61 Grey Plover (very good count),
220+ Dunlin, 2 Knot. saw a Wren go into a bush with
nesting material saw a Wren go into a bush with
nesting material, 9 Shelduck, Little Egret, 48 Brent
Geese, 3 Wigeon, 4 Teal, Greenshank, 11 Red Breasted
Merganser, 1 male & 2 female Pintail. Reed Bunting
calling from little reed bed behind sea wall and 3
Meadow Pipits over heading north.
Off Pook Lane: 123
Brent Geese, Black Brant. 5 Med Gulls over heading to
the Oysterbeds, 31 Wigeon, 2 Greenshank, 5 Turnstone,
A single Lapwing. A short video of the Brant is at . .
MARCH 12 - 2014
As Jean and I were
sitting having coffee in the garden on this warm and
sunny morning we were serenaded by the song of a
Blackcap from some tall conifers in a neighbour's
garden. I also heard a Blackcap song in the garden on
Mar 3. Could today's bird possibly be a migrant?
On my way to Nore Barn
I came across a 'NO LANDING' - RSPB sign in the dinghy
park west of the Emsworth Sailing Club building. It
has clearly been washed up on the beach from the
recent storms probably originating from Hayling
Oysterbeds or possibly the Langstone Harbour islands.
I checked with Chris Cockburn who said he will pass
the information onto Wez Smith, the RSPB Site manager
for Langstone & Chichester harbours.
10:00 - Tide falling.
Spotted Redshank was in the stream with a Greenshank.
On the basis of previous years, it might be present
for another week or two. There was no sight or sound
of any migrants in the woods.
There is a new poster
on the fence overlooking the stream asking people not
to disturb the birds feeding on the mudflats at Nore
Barn. That is a good idea, though it should have gone
up at the start of the winter not now when most of the
winter migrants have left.
There is a very good
patch of Sweet Violets in flower on the grass verge of
Warblington Road just east of the junction with
The lad's camp, which
I first noticed a couple of days ago in the north of
Palmer's Road Copse behind the recycling bins, has
been cleared of all litter, etc, presumably by Council
workers. All that remains is a wooden bench with a
plaque indicating that it belongs to the Meadow Court
residence. Maurice Lillie will be dealing with this.
I met Malcolm Phillips
on Brook Meadow. He was busily taking photos of
butterflies, of which Small Tortoiseshells were the
most numerous and feeding mainly on Lesser Celandines.
There is a good crop of Celandines on the meadow.
Malcolm pointed out his favourite butterfly bush on
the west side of Peter Pond opposite Gooseberry
Cottage, a Cherry Plum in full and glorious white
The Cherry Plum was
teeming with Honey Bees with leg baskets bulging with
I got a nice photo of
a Peacock butterfly showing all its eyes.
Later, Malcolm sent me
a photo he got of a Blue Tit investigating the
concrete nest box at the north end of Palmer's Road
Copse above the Water Vole signcase. Blue Tits have
often used this box in the past.
Finally, the puddles
in the south meadow are useful for birds to take a
bath, like this Woodpigeon captured by Malcolm this
was out this morning visiting first Bidbury Mead, then
Langstone Mill Pond and along the shore to Pook Lane.
(9:40am to Noon). The highlights were as
Bidbury Mead: Singing
male Firecrest showed fairly well and a second
bird was seen with it but not sexed. 3 singing
Chiffchaff, 1 singing Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk over and
a second bird perched briefly before dashing off to
zoom along and over a hedgerow (missed the Blue
Langstone Mill Pond:
Water Rail showing on and off in the small reed
bed by the Mill.
Normally there are
ducks to be fed, but the male Mute Swan is being
highly aggressive and chasing all the Mallard, Coot,
Moorhen, Dogs, pushchairs and bird photographers - see
photo - That's what happens when you are concentrating
on the Water Rail and you take your eye off the Mute
The Mute Swan pair
have built a nest (as per Ralph Hollins), the female
spent just two minutes on it re-arranging sticks
before leaving and helping her mate to chase a few
passers-by! I think they will try and nest here in due
course, but not at the moment.
Reed Bunting calling and Chiffchaff singing from rear
of the pond. 3 Grey Herons (one roosting, the other
two with rosy flushed bare parts preening and staying
up high in a very rich dark green vegetated tree - the
same one I observed display the other week. Can not
see a nest, but I would not be surprised if there is
one here! 1 Little Egret roosting and 3 feeding on the
mud flats, 2 Med Gulls over pond, Peregrine circling
on thermal over pond with a Buzzard.
In horse paddock north of the pond: 43 Teal, 11
Off Pook Lane: (tide falling quickly) 220 Brent Geese
(too distant and too hazy to pick out the Black
Brant), 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 112 Bar-tailed
Godwits, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank (both un-ringed),
MARCH 11 - 2014
fungi - The Deceiver?
Ralph Hollins says,
"The name which came to mind when I saw Malcolm
Phillips photo was 'The Deceiver (Laccaria laccata)
and the main feature which suggested this was the
flattened and wavy stem (together with the overall
colour, size, shape and gill spacing (gills of Waxcaps
tend to be even wider apart).
This common fungus is
called The Deceiver because every example looks
different from the last one you saw. The main thing
against this id is that the books say it's season is
from summer to winter (not winter to summer) but I
think we can agree that this year the seasons are all
out of kilter.
Despite the chilly
north west wind Peter Milinets-Raby walked along the
Warblington Shore this morning repeating the walk he
did yesterday - ie from Warblington church, through
fields to Conigar Point, then back along the shoreline
(9:58am to 11:17am - low tide).
Castle Farm cow
fields: 7 Little Egrets.
Ibis Field: 6 Song Thrush, 2 Redwing, 2 Moorhen and a
pair of Mallard, Med Gull (full summer) over.
Further sightings of 3 Song Thrushes along the
hedgerows by the stubble fields out to the point (all
probably migrants), along with 30+ Stock Doves, 5
Skylarks (plus one singing very high) and male
Off Conigar Point; 40 Shelduck, 64 Bar-tailed Godwit,
1 Greenshank (G-R/BtagB), 16 Knot, 8 Grey Plover, 1
male Wigeon, 2 Teal, 8 Red Breasted Merganser in the
Off Pook Lane: 67 Dunlin, 38 Brent Geese on the mud
close to the shore-path, with 5 Wigeon. Black Brant
in the orchid field behind seawall. Excellent
close views before a dog walker flushed it and it flew
and joined its mates on the shore.
Chiffchaff calling from the Tamarix Trees
(first proper migrant - Summer has
MARCH 10 - 2014
Pam Phillips was
excited to see her first Water Vole of the year this
morning at 7.30am along the north bank. She says it
was sitting just above the wooden shuttering, around
the bend from the culvert, to the left of the large
Ash tree on the railway embankment and seemed to be
eating bramble leaves.
Malcolm Phillips (no
relation to Pam, by the way) had two Water Vole
sightings today, both on the northern section of the
river by the railway embankment - section A1. The
first was near to the outfall on the north bend at
10.35am, quite close to Pam's earlier sighting; the
second in the afternoon was about 30ft from the
railway tunnel in the north east corner. It is
difficult to know if these were different voles, but
Malcolm's photos do show clear differences in colour
of their fur, suggesting two different voles.
All the Water Vole
news and photos is on a special page at . . .
Malcolm also spotted a
small fungus which he took photos of. It looks like a
type of Waxcap of the genus Hygrocybe though I have
not idea which one. Can anyone help.
Malcolm said there
were plenty of butterflies fluttering around the
meadow today again, though yesterday he saw up to
15 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. This seems to
herald a revival in the fortunes of this once common
butterfly, which has been very scarce in recent years.
I noticed a female
Mallard settled down on what could be a nest on a
pile of twigs which has been left on top of a fallen
trunk across the river south of the north bridge by
the flood. She had two male Mallards in attendance. I
shall keep an eye on this.
From the south bridge
I could see lots of tiny creatures - possibly
Whirligig Beetles - darting around in the calm
water at the edge of the river.
A lad's camp
has been constructed in the north west corner of
Palmer's Road Copse behind the recycling bins. It is
full of clothes and litter, but it is out of well
sight and does not appear to be causing any problems.
I had a walk along the
Lillywhite's path where both Cherry Plum and
Blackthorn are now in full blossom, giving one a
opportunity to compare their flowers. As can be seen
from the photos the Cherry Plum flowers are much
larger than the Blackthorn.
As always there are
plenty of Lesser Celandines in flower on this wayside.
The Sweet Violets are still out, but there are no
white ones this year as there has been in previous
years. There is a new patch of Primroses in flower to
the west of the Sweet Violets which I have not seen
Yellow catkins are
open on the Goat Willow tree on Bridge Road
Wayside; they were attracting Bumblebees and a Small
Tortoiseshell butterfly when I passed by this morning.
was tempted by the chance of an early migrant to go
for a short walk along the Warblington shore (10am to
11:17am). From the church he walked along the path
passing the "Ibis Field" to Conigar Point, then walked
back to the car via the mud flats at Pook Lane (Low
Cow fields by Church:
4 Little Egrets, Buzzard circling, 2 Stock Doves in
castle tower, Sparrowhawk circling.
Nothing along the walk
through the fields to Conigar Point except one singing
Skylark very high in the sky and 3 Long-tailed Tits in
Off Conigar Point: 20
Shelduck, 7 Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank, 7 Red Breasted
Mergansers in the channel with a Great Crested Grebe.
Off Pook Lane: 57
Dunlin, 7 Knot, 28 Shelduck (combined with Conigar
point, one of my best counts for awhile), 43 Wigeon,
108 Brent Geese, 31 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 male and 2
female Pintail, 1 Greenshank (with rings, but too far
away), 3 Grey Plover, 1 Little Egret.
The only migrational
movement observed were 2 Meadow Pipits heading north
and three others heard and a Buzzard drifting north
coming off north Hayling and flushing the
MARCH 9 - 2014
Today's warm weather
brought out a good variety of butterflies on Brook
Meadow for the first time this year, including,
Brimstone, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.
Malcolm Phillips had his trusty camera at the ready
and got good images of most of them.
Malcolm also got a
photo of a Blue Tit going in and out of a
possible nesting site in a hole in a Crack Willow on
the north path, possibly using it as a nesting site. I
think we saw this happen last spring too.
I got a good view of a
pair of Mediterranean Gulls on Slipper Millpond
this afternoon. As I saw on Mar 7, they were joined a
many more Med Gulls flying in from the east, giving
their 'woowee' whining calls.
Patrick Murphy found the pair of Red-breasted
Mergansers on the town millpond this evening. They
are becoming regulars
Roy Hay had this partially albinistic Blackbird
in his garden in Fishbourne today.
sport a variety of white patches in their plumage,
though I have not personally seen one quite as white
as this one. Sometimes they can be pure white.
See the RSPB web site for more information at . . .
MARCH 8 - 2014
The Butterbur flower
spikes are now showing very well in the usual places
on Brook Meadow with some spikes very well grown. I
shall do a count towards the end of the month. Last
year was a record count and it looks like this year's
total could be high as well. For details about
previous Butterbur counts see . . . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-plant-counts.html
on Baffins Pond
Eric Eddles had a nice
surprise this afternoon to find a handsome male
Pochard on Baffins Pond. Pochard are quite a rarity on
Baffins Pond; they were fairly regular in the 1990s,
but not since then as far as I am aware. I did not see
one when I visited Baffins Pond on Mar 5.
MARCH 7 - 2014
Both pairs of Mute
Swans were on the pond when I walked round this
morning; the north pair was on the mud near the bottom
of Nile Street, while the south pair was on the water
near the quay, displaying to one another.
Water in the pond
remains low, which means that movement around the pond
is not easy for the swans. There is no sign of any
nest building. Finally, after weeks of looking and
hoping, I managed to see the elusive pair of
Red-breasted Mergansers among the gulls on the
millpond. And here is my proof!
I walked round Slipper
Millpond this afternoon and, for the second time in a
week, watched the Mute Swan pair (with the Polish pen)
messing around in the reedbeds in the north-east
corner of the pond, but there does not appear to have
been any obvious nest building.
While I was there a
group of gulls flew onto the millpond from the east
with the distinctive whining calls of Mediterranean
Gulls very prominent. Once all the gulls had settled
down on the pond to wash, I counted 27 Med
Gulls among the Black-headed Gulls. Also present
on the water were the two Great Black-backed
Gulls, probably pining for their old nest site on
the centre raft which is not longer available to them.
Ducks at Stansted
This morning Jim Berry
made a brief visit to see the floods in Woodberry
Lane, Rowlands Castle and was very surprised to see
two male Mandarin Ducks in the lake which has formed
at the bottom of the Sling. Jim gathers from locals
that 3 males and 2 females have been seen in the area
for at least three days.
apparently are not all that unusual on the Stansted
Estate. I have had a few reports over the years. Most
recently, Caroline French came across two males in a
tree near The Avenue on 21 April 2013. When Caroline
contacted Michael Prior (Head Forester of Stansted) he
told her that there were breeding records for Mandarin
Duck on the estate. Here is Caroline's photo of the
for Brook Meadow
Sam Lunn from Azure
Ecology, a small ecology consultancy based in West
Sussex, has approached the Brook Meadow Conservation
Group for permission to relocate a small population of
Common Lizards and Slow Worms onto the meadow from a
site in Fishbourne. Sam indicated that managing fee
would be paid for the use of the site and a reptile
survey would be conducted to determine the size of the
existing populations on the meadow. The Brook Meadow
Conservation Group has agreed to the proposal and the
survey is planned to take place on March 19th. All the
data collected would be provided to the group to help
with conservation work on the meadow.
MARCH 6 - 2014
Malcolm Phillips went
round Brook Meadow for an hour today. He saw no Water
Voles, but did get a good view of what is probably our
resident male Kestrel hovering.
Mike Wells adds his
name to the growing list of people (except for me) who
have seen the pair of Red-breasted Mergansers on
Emsworth Millpond. He got this shot of the male having
just emerged from a dive with his usually shaggy crest
Each spring Chris
Oakley fills an old bird-feeder with sheep's wool to
help the garden birds with their nesting. He says,
"Usually Great Tits are the first to use the service,
but this Greenfinch was obviously curious. He pulled
out great lumps but didn't take any away. Perhaps
he'll come back another day. In the autumn, if I clean
out a nest box, it's fascinating to see just how much
wool has been used and how intricately it's been
MARCH 5 - 2014
I had to take Jean
down to Southsea this morning so I took the
opportunity to have a look around some of my old
haunts that I used to survey regularly for about 15
years in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The first stop was
Canoe Lake where I was very surprised to find 23 Mute
Swans on the water and around the edges.
During my counts, I
used to get 40-80 swans until 2003 when they all
disappeared. I never found out why, though I know the
local council were discouraging people from feeding
the birds to avoid pollution of the water. I have
often had a quick look in the years since then, but
have never seen anywhere near the number that were
there today. Maybe, some of the evicted Emsworth
Millpond swans were among them?
There were many
Black-headed Gulls and a few immature Herring Gulls on
the pleasure boats in the centre of the lake, but no
Mediterranean Gulls like I used to see here.
Over to Baffins Pond
where the new wetland landscaping has been extended to
cover the western end of the pond in addition to the
eastern and southern banks, with useful breaks with
gravel inclines down to the water to allow for
families to get close to and feed the birds. It all is
looking quite splendid and provides an important
wildlife habitat. It is certainly a major improvement
on the dull concrete surround that was present when I
did my surveys in the late 1990s.
One bird that has
benefited from the wetland areas is the Water Rail
which is now a fairly common sight around the pond in
the winter period. Today I had good views of two Water
Rails, one in each of the two wetland areas on the
eastern side of the pond. Here is a photo of one that
showed particularly well.
A local photographer I
spoke to told me there was a third in the southern
wetland, though I did not see that one. Baffins Pond
has been well known for its Water Rails for some years
before the wetlands were created. I recall one bird
that was so tame it used to come out onto the southern
path to be fed. This bird provided locals and visiting
birders with excellent photo opportunities in March
2001 and again in 2003, when it was joined by a second
Baffins Pond is also
well known in birding circles for Shoveler in the
winter. I think the record count was 83, though the
number I got was usually more like 50. I always
enjoyed watching them feeding in their distinctive
circling fashion. Today I counted 22 Shoveler, though
we are getting a bit late in the season for them. They
are very photogenic. Here is a male snoozing close to
the edge of the pond, but keeping its beady eye on me.
Baffins Pond still
holds a good collection of around 150 Feral Pigeons,
which is probably the best local gathering of these
attractive but neglected birds. They are a
domesticated form of the wild Rock Dove and their
plumage is vary variable, though they usually retain
some of the features of Rock Dove, like the beautiful
iridescence on the neck and two black bands across the
wings. Here is a photo of one of them on the side of
There were lots of
other birds on the pond including 2 Mute Swans, 7
Canada Geese, 1 Embden Goose (there always used to be
2), and the usual collection of Tufted Duck, Mallard
and Coot. This is a good place to photograph gulls as
they perch conveniently on the many posts. Here is a
nice one I got of an immature Herring Gull.
more details of my old counts on Baffins Pond see
. . .
Road Brent Goose refuge
At 11:30 I stopped to
have a look at the large field behind Portsmouth
College which has been dedicated as a Brent Goose
refuge area. Plenty of Brent Geese were feeding on the
field today. I did not do a proper count but would
estimate 600 plus. I looked through them for Brant,
but there was not one there. Here are just a few of
On the way home I
stopped to have a look at the Common Whitlowgrass that
Ralph Hollins had told me was flowering on the grass
verge of the main Havant Road just a few yards to the
west of the junction with Selangor Avenue. My main
problem was separating it from Danish Scurvygrass
which was also growing abundantly along the edge of
the road. One big difference is in the flowers which
shows up well in the following photos of some I picked
from the verge.
has deeply divided white petals, whereas the petals of
Danish Scurvygrass are not divided. It also has
flattened oval pods which can be seen on the photo.
Here is Danish
Scurvygrass for comparison
I found a hoverfly,
possibly Syrphus ribesii, feeding on a
Dandelion flower on the wayside.
12:45 - Tide fairly
high and the stream filling up. A single Spotted
Redshank was on the edge of the saltmarshes, probably
hoping to roost there for high water, but there's a
long way to go. Two Mute Swans were in the stream
including a cygnet - possibly from the town millpond.
About 100 Brent Geese were in Nore Barn Creek.
Malcolm Phillips was
back on Brook Meadow today and, guess what? Yes, he
saw a Water Vole on the north bank! And he got some
rather good photos of the animal. One of them shows
the vole on a branch which has been stripped of bark.
I gather they do this in winter to supplement their
took a walk down Wade Lane to the Langstone Mill Pond
(9:50am to 11:20am). The highlights were as
Along Wade Lane: 2 Mistle Thrush, 4 Little Egrets in
the muddy horse paddock, 2 displaying Buzzards (great
stuff - lots of tumbling).
In flooded paddock north of millpond: 14 Moorhen, 28
Teal, a Fox.
On Langstone Mill Pond: calling Reed Bunting, 2 Grey
Herons roosting, 2 Stock Doves.
Off shore (very low tide): Greenshank (coloured rings
- G/ BtagR), 2 summer plumaged Med Gulls, 28
Bar-tailed Godwit, 60+ Dunlin, 4+ Grey Plover. 4 Red
Breasted Merganser and 2 Great crested Grebes in the
When he got back home
Peter found this Bumblebee, probably a Buff-tail
(Bombus terrestris) covered in yellow
pollen while feeding on Crocus flowers in his garden.
MARCH 4 - 2014
I had a walk round the
local millponds this afternoon, mainly to check on the
swan situation. On the town millpond the north pair
plus the male of the south pair were on the water
north of Nile Street. I watched them for about 10
minutes as the two males continually sparred by
circling round and round one another, though they
never came into physical contact. Meanwhile, the
female of the north pair remained at a safe distance
as shown in this photo taken from Bath Road.
This is probably the
activity that Chris Oakley observed yesterday. The
female of the south pair was much further to the south
by the seawall. There was no sign of the Red-breasted
Mergansers. I must be the only person in Emsworth not
having seen them! Many of the Black-headed
Gulls are now in full breeding plumage with their
dark brown hoods - not black.
I walked down to
Slipper Millpond where I found the regular Peter Pond
pair (with the pink legged female) on the water. While
I was there the two swans entered the reedbeds in the
north-east corner of the pond and engaged in nest
building activity - ie picking up pieces of reed and
placing them into a pile.
I have seen swans
attempt to nest in these reeds in previous years, but
never with any success because the nest gets swamped
by the high spring tides. Let's hope they stay on the
relative security of the Peter Pond island, though
that too is not entirely safe from the tides.
Another feature of
interest on the pond was a regular late afternoon
gathering of gulls having a wash and brush up after a
day foraging in the fields and prior to settling down
for night in the harbour. They were mostly
Black-headed Gulls, but I could also hear the
distinctive whining calls of Mediterranean
Gulls of which I counted 16. These will be
gathering to return to their breeding colonies in
Langstone Harbour. I managed to capture 5
Mediterranean Gulls along with the few Common Gulls in
Romney Turner sent me
the following photos of Chiton and Goose Barnacles
which a friend of hers got on a local Goring beach.
Has anyone seen them around here?
MARCH 3 - 2014
It was not a
particularly spring-like morning, which made it more
than pleasing to hear the beautiful rich and fluty
song of a male Blackcap issuing from a neighbour's
garden at about 11am. I am fairly sure this was one of
the wintering Blackcaps limbering up before his
journey back to the Continent rather than a summer
migrant. I often hear one in the garden at this time
of the year; last year I heard one in the same place
on Mar 6. Summer migrants will not be here for a
couple weeks, although there is always some overlap
with the wintering birds. Also, they tend to sing in
breeding habitat, ie Brook Meadow or Hollybank Woods
and not in gardens.
Chris Oakley caught up
with the elusive Red-breasted Mergansers on
Emsworth Millpond this morning. They continue to evade
me! He got this snap of the male.
There were just 3
Mute Swans on the millpond, including what was
probably the regular north pair, but there was no sign
of the south pair. They could just have been having a
break. Or maybe, they have decided to try for a less
contended nesting site elsewhere? Chris watched the
pair of swans perform a display with wings held up and
spinning in contra-rotating circles, almost touching
each other. Maybe they were celebrating seeing off the
Chris was puzzled by a
upsurge of water from the mud at the bottom of the
millpond, almost like a low fountain, opposite 10
Bridgefoot Path. I have always assumed that this was a
spring feeding into the millpond. Does anyone else
have any other ideas?
This morning between
hefty showers/hail Peter Milinets-Raby did his regular
weekly bird count in the fields etc. around the
Bidbury Mead area in Bedhampton. Peter was amply
rewarded for his fortitude with a cracking male
Firecrest. It was quite fearless, perching in the open
and singing actively. It was highly mobile and Peter
had to take over 80 photos before the bird gave him a
brief opportunity when it perched close and long
enough for this one beautiful photo!
reminds me of the two Firecrests that we had on Brook
Meadow at this time last year of which we also got
some super shots. But there has been no sign of them
at all this year. I envy Peter's ability to hear the
Firecrest song which is way out of my age restricted
range of hearing.
MARCH 2 - 2014
I went over to Brook
Meadow this morning mainly to take photos of the
conservation work session. Ten volunteers attended and
the session was led by Lesley Harris. Here are the
group assembled by the Lumley gate.
The main job was to
continue repairing the badly worn north path with
gravel from the bags near the Seagull Lane gate. This
was successfully achieved. Another job was to clear
some willow branches from the path through Palmer's
Road Copse; they had come down as a result of one of
the large Crack Willows snapping.
For the full report and more photos go to . . .
The flood is now
virtually cleared from the south meadow and the
warning fences and notices have been removed by the
Environment Agency. It is now possible to walk down
the south path, though the far south eastern corner
remains under water. It was good to see dozens of
Lesser Celandines flowering alongside the path through
the south meadow despite the area being under water
for several weeks.
The level of the River
Ems remains high, though continues to fall gradually.
The path through Palmer's Road Copse is flooded,
though it is possible to walk through with wellies.
Following the vandalism last Wednesday resulting in
all the sandbags on the river bank in the north-east
corner being thrown into the river, the agency have
built another line of bags on the river bank at the
western end of the new wall. Let's hope these do not
go the same way as the others. The path from the end
of Seagull Lane through to Lumley Mill is still
The pair of adult
Great Black-backed Gulls were on the pond at about
10.30 this morning. While I was there, one of the
gulls flew around a few times then headed towards the
harbour. The other gull remained on the water bathing.
I can now see clearly that both the small rafts have
also been wired as a deterrent to the gulls.
For all the news and
photos of the Great Black-backed Gulls nesting on
Slipper Millpond over the past two years
go to . . . http://familyfellows.com/millpond-great-bb-gull.htm
The Mute Swan pair,
including the 'Polish' female with pink legs and feet,
was on Dolphin Lake this morning. The 'Polish' swan is
on the left in the photo.
This was the pair that
nested on Peter Pond last year and produced 8 cygnets
of which only one survived. However, there was no sign
of the other Mute Swan pair (including the male with
the metal ring on its left leg) that I saw on Peter
Pond on Feb 26. Maybe they have already been driven
off by today's pair. Very likely.
MARCH 1 - 2014
Brian Lawrence had a
couple of very exciting sightings while he was on
Brook Meadow this afternoon. First, and most
significant for our conservation work, Brian saw a
Water Vole on the river bank near the old gasholder
(not used for gas storage any more). This was, in
fact, our first sighting on the River Ems for 2014.
So, at least one vole has survived the floods! The
only other Water Vole sighting we have had reported
this year was on the Lumley Stream on 06-Feb-14.
Small White butterfly
Brian also saw and got
a photo of a female Small White butterfly. The female
Small White is distinguished from the male by having
two dark spots on the upperside of the forewing; the
male only has one spot.
Small Whites are
generally seen a few weeks before Large Whites. This
was not only the first Small White of the year on
Brook Meadow, but the first butterfly of any species
recorded this year on Brook Meadow, though some have
been seen elsewhere. It was also the earliest Small
White record on Brook Meadow and the earliest I can
recall having seen anywhere.
The earliest Small
White records on the Hampshire Butterfly Conservation
web site tend to be later into March; the earliest for
2012 was 12-Mar and for 2013 was 11-Mar. However,
there was an extraordinarily early sighting of a Small
White this year on 10-Feb-14 by Roy Symonds at Stoke
Farm, Hayling Island. There have been no other
sightings after that one. So I have suggested to Brian
that he reports this sighting. http://www.hantsiow-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.htm
Black-backed Gulls return
Brian had another less
exciting, but interesting, sighting when he noted that
the Great Black-backed Gulls were back on Slipper
Millpond. Brian's photo shows the two gulls on one of
the small rafts and not the large central one which
has been extensively wired to deter them from nesting
there this year. This small raft has also been wired,
though I doubt of they would try to nest on this one,
but you never know. So, watch this space!
earlier observations go to . . . February