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

for February 1-15, 2014


Flooding news

For last night's and today's flooding news and photos please go to . . .

Mystery stones - further clarification

Following the discussion in yesterday's blog about the 'eaten stones' from the Hampshire Farm site, John Arnott wants to make it clear that the rock boring bivalves and polychaete worm that he referred to in his reply are marine not freshwater creatures. Thus, his supposition that the stones were dumped at this inland site after being collected at a shore location near to chalk cliffs. They may have been mixed with other ballast collected from other sites which include the limestone rocks. John emphasises that freshwater bivalves usually lie buried in mud, sand or gravel beds and that there are no rock boring freshwater species.

Tony's news

Tony and Hilary Wootton walked to Westbourne and back this morning, as the planned Havant Wildlife Group walk had been cancelled. They had the pleasure of hearing a Chaffinch in song near Westbourne - one bird I have yet to hear, though Ralph Hollins has heard at least one in Havant. They also spotted what must be the first Lesser Celandine flower open on Brook Meadow - just to the west of the main seat. They are late, or unusually sparse, this year. There are very few open in Bridge Road car park.


Flooding news

The rain was torrential for most of today until about 3pm. So I was not all that surprised to find the River Ems a raging torrent through Brook Meadow, the highest I have seen it this winter. The water was roaring through the tunnel under the railway in the north-east corner of the meadow and was lapping over the top of the line of black sandbags on top of the brick wall. A couple of residents of the cottages on Lumley Road were inspecting the river when I arrived. They were naturally concerned as their gardens would be vulnerable if the river went over at this point. They used some of the bags from the river bank where the water was not overtopping to raise the level of bags on the wall, though extra bags would be needed to do the job properly.

Further down the river the S-bend had virtually disappeared and water was gushing over the sluice gate into the already flooded south meadow, which was deeper than ever. The water was just a couple of inches below the level of the Local Nature Reserve sign on the signcase.

Walking through the northern part of Palmer's Road Copse as far as the Water Vole signcase I came across a mass of tiny white polystyrene beads, of the sort used in bean bags, washed up on the edge of the flood. I have seen some of these at this spot before, but not in the quantity that were there today. I wonder where they came from?

I walked a little way up Lumley Road where the stream was racing along in front of the cottages, perilously close to the top of the bank, though many of the cottages were well protected with sandbags.

Mystery stones and shells

Ralph Hollins provided information about the 'eaten stones' imbedded with mollusc shells that Chris Oakley found on the Hampshire Farm site (in yesterday's blog). Ralph says bivalve molluscs do occur in freshwater as well as in the sea. There are, in fact, 31 species of freshwater bivalve that occur in Britain. See . . .

John Arnott also replied and said the wider and deeper holes were probably made by the American Piddock Petricola pholadiformis, a rock boring bivalve. For more information go to . . . John has seen the shells washed up in Chichester Harbour and this species is well established in the local chalk. He says there are other rock boring bivalves such as the Common Piddock Pholas dactylus and Wrinkled Rock Borer Hiatella arctica, but it is difficult to tell without getting the shell out of the burrow. As for the tiny burrows they were probably made by the polychaete worm Polydora sp. - again, very common in the local chalk.

John thinks the stones were probably dumped as part of the ground restoration at Hampshire Farm. They are not fossils anyway. The other indentations may be the result of differential solution of minerals by seawater, but he's not sure. Some others are eroded rock partially exposing the burrows of piddocks at an oblique angle.

Brent Geese

Maurice Lillie enjoyed the sight of thousands of Brent Geese in flight during a walk down the west side of Thorney Island as far as the Great Deeps. He says the geese were constantly breaking up and re-forming, flying towards the harbour, then wheeling back, dividing into relatively small groups of a one or two hundred and then re-gathering into untold numbers.



Quite a nice day in comparison with yesterday with very little in the way of rain. I walked through Brook Meadow this morning where the river remains very high with the water lapping the wall of sandbags in the north-east corner. However, there was significantly less water in the south meadow than over the previous week. The regular clusters of Crocuses on the Lumley Path are just starting to open their purple florets.

Down to Slipper Millpond where Brendan Gibb-Gray was tending to his small garden. He had seen a Great Black-backed Gull back on Slipper Millpond near the centre raft with what looked like one of the juveniles from last year. But there is little chance they will nest on the raft this year as it has got numerous wires stretched across it to deter them. Brendan also told me he had seen two Little Grebes in Dolphin Lake. The regular nesting pair of Mute Swans was back on Slipper Millpond this morning no doubt with a view to prospecting their nesting site on Peter Pond.

Over to the town millpond where the two pairs of Mute Swans were well separated, one pair in the north and the other in the south. The lone swan was in its usual spot on the grass verge outside number 14 Bridgefoot Path where I think it gets fed.

Mystery stones

Chris Oakley gathered this group of stones from Hampshire Farm. He keeps them in the garden just for decoration and asks what on earth it was that could 'eat' through stone. Looks like the action of sea water to me, Chris.

Chris points out there are several holes with shells imbedded in them. Here is a close-up of one. It looks like a cockle to me. This suggests the river may have been tidal as far as Westbourne at some point in history. Does anyone know?


Flooding news

The weather was so dreadful today that I did not get out until about 4pm after lots of heavy rain. Brook Meadow was very wet. The river was about the same level as yesterday, though the flooded south meadow was about 6 inches lower than yesterday. However, the north meadow was much worse, inundated with water a good 6 inches deep in parts. In amongst all this water, it was good to see a couple of tufts of Primroses brightening the path from the south bridge to the car park. But, how is it I can never get a decent photo of these flowers?

Water Vole survey - 16th September 2013

Andy Rothwell carried out his second Water Vole survey on Brook Meadow on 16th September 2013 and his report has just been received by the conservation group. Good evidence of Water Voles was found particularly on the River Ems and to less extent on the Lumley stream. The predictive equation using the number of maintained latrines produced an index of 25.4 Water Voles along the 500m stretch of river, which is double that of 13.1 found in Andy's 2007 survey. Thus, not only is the River Ems supporting a very healthy population of Water Voles, but it has increased since 2007. This finding mirrors our log of Water Vole sightings which also shows a large increase since 2007.

In contrast to the River Ems, relatively few sightings are got on the Lumley Stream and Andy's estimated number of Water Voles using this stream has fallen since the earlier survey, predictive index down from 8.3 to 2.2.

The survey also found evidence of Brown Rats in both the River Ems and the Lumley Stream, but clearly they do not appear to be having a particualrly negative effect on the Water Voles. Andy found no evidence of Otter or Mink. However, he did find many signs of activity of the smaller Bank Vole, throughout the entire river system surveyed. Andy makes no mention of Water Shrews, which suggests that our occasional sightings of them could be misidentified Bank Voles.

There is a link to the full report on the Brook Meadow web site at . . . Brook Meadow

Warblington Langstone

Peter Milinets-Raby checked the Langstone Mill Pond this morning as well as the Warblington shore just ahead of high tide (7:55am to 9am) before the rain and wind came.
Walked in from Wade Lane. In fields here: 4 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Little Egrets/.
Flooded horse paddock near mill pond: 71 Teal, 21 Moorhen (no Little Egrets).
On Mill Pond: 3 roosting Grey Herons and 2 Little Egrets.
Off shore: 6 Goldeneye (3 pairs), 18 Red Breasted Mergansers, Great Crested Grebe.
Fields empty off Pook lane except for 14 Oystercatchers, 120+ Black-headed Gulls and one ad winter Med Gull.
Last bits of mud/salt marsh off Pook Lane held 22 Lapwing, 128 Dunlin, a single Knot, 5 Grey Plover, a single Turnstone (so uncommon), 2 Greenshank - both colour-ringed; RG/YtagY and G-R/BtagR. The former is probably one of those newly tagged by Pete Potts on Jan 13.


Brook Meadow

What a change from yesterday! But the rain eased which meant I could get out by 11:00. Everything in the meadow was very wet, though the river was about the same level as when I checked it two days ago. The water was lapping the bottom of the sandbags in the north-east corner. I walked down through the north meadow which was very squelchy and inches deep in water in many parts, probably due to the height of the water table.

Plenty of bird activity on the meadow this morning with both Robin and Dunnock in good voice. A Song Thrush was singing strongly from the west bank by the industrial units. I spotted a number of pairs of birds, including Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds and Robins.

Yet another Cow Parsley is in flower, the third one we have had on Brook Meadow this winter, which is most unusual. It is located in the gap in the Willow line between the centre and north meadows. The other two were both on the causeway. In contrast, I have yet to find a Lesser Celandine on the meadow.

Emsworth Harbour

I walked from the Fisherman's Walk along the shore to the quay. The tide was still well in - about 3 hours after high water. I could see 5 Greenshank feeding among the seaweed along the edge of the water, at least one of which was colour-ringed RG+BY geo. This was one of 3 Greenshanks that Pete Potts caught at Thorney in March 2013 and fitted geolocators to the blue rings. This was the 6th sighting of this bird in Emsworth Harbour and the 4th so far this winter period.

A Brent Goose family of two adults and four juveniles swam along in a line close to the shore. The photo shows mum (or dad) and the four youngsters. The juveniles are starting to lose their white wing bars.

I found another colour-ringed Greenshank G+BN geo in the channel to the east of the Emsworth Sailing Club building. I have only one other sighting of this ringed bird in Emsworth Harbour which was by Peter Milinets-Raby on 30-Jan-14. This bird could be one of the 13 caught and ringed by Pete Potts and his team at Thorney Deeps on Jan 13. The colour-ringed information of both the Greenshank seen this morning will be passed to Anne de Potier who manages the data base for this species.

Two large flocks of Knot were feeding on the western mudflats, probably the same birds that Peter Milinets-Raby saw in the eastern harbour on Feb 1. The birds were a long way out and I did not have my scope with me, but I took several photos of each flock and, like Peter did before, I counted the birds in each flock from the photos. My total count came to 770 which is a little less than the 934 counted by Peter, but still a substantial flock for the Solent area. Here is a photo of the larger flock, typically with the birds clustered closely together in a bunch (or knot). They can always be told at a distance from Dunlin which tend to feed in a line along the edges of channels.

Emsworth Millpond

The two pairs of Mute Swans were well separated on the millpond when I passed this morning, one pair north of the old mill and the other pair to the south. The south pair might well attempt to nest in the far south west corner of the pond, where I recall a 'litter nest' was created a few years ago.



Oh, what a beautiful morning!! I felt like bursting into song when I felt the warm sun on my face and the lack of wind. It was the first time for weeks that I really felt like going birdwatching down at the harbour.

I started at the town millpond where the water was low with the sluice gate open. The two ends of the promenade are still closed with bags and barriers, but it is easy enough to clamber over them. The low water gave me an opportunity to go through the Black-headed Gulls for colour-rings as most of them were standing on the mud. I did not see any rings, but did notice several individual birds were starting to develop their brown hoods.

Nore Barn

10:30 - 12:00 - I made my way along Western Parade to Nore Barn. The tide was still quite high even though high water was at 8.00. The sea was dead calm and there was a great view across the harbour to the towers of Portsmouth which this photo does not do full justice to.

I met Pam Phillips who said she'd seen the Spotted Redshank about 30 mins ago being stalked by a chap with a long lensed camera. The stream was empty when I arrived at about 11:00, though I could see a Spotted Redshank roosting at the point of the saltmarshes with gulls. A little later I watched two Spotted Redshanks feeding along the seaweed shore at the end of Warblington Road along with a Greenshank. None of the birds was ringed. I stood still on the beach and they came to within 5 metres of me, quite unconcerned at my presence and the constant traffic of people and dogs behind me. The strong sun and the seaweed background did not make for a good photo, but here's the best I could manage. The second Spotted Redshank is half off the photo on the right.

As I was standing on the beach I looked across the harbour to where a Sandwich Tern was perched on one of the buoys. This is probably one of the wintering Sandwich Terns that Peter Milinets-Raby has seen on several occasions at high water this winter.

Slipper Millpond

Back to Slipper Millpond where I went through the gulls standing on the mud of the pond, but none were colour-ringed. However, there were a good few juvenile Black-headed Gulls from last year's successful breeding with their brown primaries, orange legs and pale bills.


The current low water in the pond gives us a good opportunity to see the coral like growths of the Tube worms (Ficopomatus enigmaticus) which form colonies on hard objects in the pond. Looked at closely one can see the coral is made up from hundreds of tubes projecting from the base to which they are attached. The one in the photo has grown on the top of a plastic bottle.

Cherry Plum 'Pissardii'

Martin Rand responded to my my plea for help with the identification of the cherry tree on the causeway on Brook Meadow (see Feb 6):

"Naming your Plum - in a way both you and Ralph are right; if you have a red-leaved Cherry Plum that has very pale or white flowers, then it goes under the scientific name of Prunus cerasifera var. pissardii. This is also known by gardeners as Prunus 'Atropurpurea'. It was originally collected in Iran in the late 19th century. Varieties with deeper pink flowers are known as Prunus 'Nigra'. 'Hessei' has blotched bronzy leaves and white flowers; 'Lindasayae' is another pink-flowered form with upswept branches. But they're all derivatives of P. cerasifera. The English name Myrobalan Plum is applied to the species (both type and cultivars). There are other named subspecies and varieties but they are mostly quite localised geographical races and I'm not aware of them being grown in Britain." In view of Martin's comments I think we can safely call the tree Cherry Plum - Prunus cerasifera var. pissardii

Hayling Oysterbeds news update

Chris Cockburn provided the following up date from the Oysterbeds:

"Things are beginning to happen at Hayling Oysterbeds - as I walked towards the lagoon I was serenaded by several Mediterranean gulls and as I got closer to the lagoon, I heard a more raucous but familiar medley off sounds. There were c60 Black-headed Gulls acting territorially atop the lagoon's two islands and six Med gulls doing likewise. Not one of the gulls was in 100% breeding plumage - but it will not be long..!! I am not sure if Med gulls have been on the islands at such an early date before; but given the ideal feeding conditions on the grasslands this wet-winter, they are probably in tip-top condition. Also present were a few Common Gulls and two Herring Gulls - none of which were acting territorially.

No Goldeneyes or Red-breasted Mergansers this afternoon; but six Little Grebes, four Oystercatchers and one Curlew were present (along with the usual Brent Goose family group with three youngsters). So territorial behaviour has started four days earlier than in 2012; it is, presumably, unlikely that any nesting attempts will be made before the end of March.

Fishbourne Channel

More exciting news from Fishbourne Channel comes from the Sunday's SOS walk led by Andrew House which he said was surprisingly productive despite the gale force winds with 3 or 4 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, at least 500 Black-tailed Godwits. I really must get over there again. I wonder just how many Spotted Redshanks there are in the local area? It would also be interesting to see if any of the shanks were colour-ringed - ie from the Thorney Island catch on Jan 18.


Warblington - Langstone

Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington shore (arriving along Wade Lane) and Langstone Mill Pond (10:50am to 12:10pm). So many Med Gulls were about that it felt like early spring! The highlights were as follows:
Wade Lane: Flooded fields, Pied Wagtails 6, Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker.
Adult winter Med Gull with 77 Black-headed Gulls on one of the small puddles
Langstone Mill Pond: 5 roosting Little Egrets, 4 roosting Grey Herons, 4 Teal.
In nearby flooded paddock: A further 41 roosting Little Egrets (see photo - not quite all of them), Grey Heron, 46 Teal, 21 Moorhen, 2 Pied wagtails, Male Pheasant.

Warblington shore and fields south of cemetery: 2 Med Gulls (both in full summer plumage on mud flats), 31 lapwing, 7 Grey Plover, 5 Knot, 120+ Dunlin, 2 Shelduck, 2 Red Breasted Merganser, And in fields; 566 Brent Geese, Black Brant, 10 Oystercatcher, 550+ Black-headed Gulls with 5 Med Gulls (various ages, 3 ad winters, two partial summer). Plus 6 Common Gulls.

Red-breasted Mergansers

Charlie Annalls saw the photo of the Red-breasted Merganser in yesterday's blog, which helped her to identify the two birds she had seen near the Bedhampton slipway. They were male and female Red-breasted Mergansers and here is Charlie's photo of the male to complement the female from yesterday.

Seaweed 'Passenger'

Chris Oakley was interested in Heather Mills's picture of the Spider Crab with 'passengers' that the Havant Wildlife Group found on Southsea beach yesterday. He believes the passengers may be a type of seaweed called Jelly Buttons (Leathesia difformis). He also pointed out on Heather's photo a scar where another one has become detached.
Leathesia difformisi are shiny lobe-like growths which attach themselves to rocks or other seaweeds. When small, as in Heather's photo, the capsules are solid, but become hollow and thick-walled as they grow.
Chris also photographed a small Spider Crab with a similar seaweed 'passenger' on his Christmas Day trip to Hayling beach. He thinks they must be one of the larger varieties as the rooted hold-fast is pretty sturdy.


Godwits return

The first sign of a return of godwits to the local harbours from the flooded fields was the presence of around 450 Black-tailed Godwits in Fishbourne Channel, including many colour-ringed birds reported by Peter Hughes on the SOS Sightings yesterday (Feb 8). Pete said the wind/rain/hail made note-taking impossible. So, keep a look out for them in Emsworth Harbour.

Signs of spring

On Feb 5 Ralph Hollins reported that the first Chiffchaff song has been heard near Hastings, though the Chiffchaff's traditional role of Harbinger of Spring could be usurped by Mediterranean Gulls, whose yelping calls will soon be heard. Ralph says there is "something magical about hearing the first Med Gull call, especially when it comes from a clear blue sky in which the bird's pure white plumage makes it almost invisible".

Ralph also says bird nesting is already under way for some species and active nests can now be seen at most Heronries. Closer to home Ralph saw a newly finished Magpie nest complete with overhead 'roof' last Sunday (Feb 2) and has strong suspicions that the recent absence of female Blackbirds is because they are already sitting on nests.



Brook Meadow

I had a walk round Brook Meadow this morning where the river level was a few inches higher than it was yesterday. It was lapping against the black sandbags in the north-east corner, but not coming through. The water in the south meadow was also higher, almost reaching up the Local Nature Reserve sign on the signcase by the south gate. Here is a view from the path behind the seat.

The jolly yellow flowers of Gorse on the south west corner of Peter Pond brightened up a stormy morning.


Chris Oakley had a walk into Westbourne where the river at the road bridge was about six inches higher than on his last visit.

The river had also has broken over into some of the gardens further upstream. However, Chris was puzzled that the water level in the Hampshire Farm pond has remained unchanged for some weeks and is still only just level with the inlet and outlet pipes. So where is all the water from the new estate going? A good question. Does anyone know the answer?

For all the flooding news and photos go to . . .


Merganser on the millpond

Maurice Lillie managed to capture a photo of the female Red-breasted Merganser that has been visiting Emsworth Millpond from time to time over the past few weeks. I keep missing it!

Avocets at Nutbourne

Janet Hider says anyone brave enough to walk in this weather may still get a view of the Avocets at Nutbourne. Her husband got this excellent image of some of them in flight this week.

Southsea adventure

The Havant Wildlife Group braved the stormy weather this morning and as a reward had quite an adventure on the beach where they found masses of things washed up on the beach including this Spider Crab apparently with 'passengers'.

For the full report go to . . .


Flooding news

I went over to Brook Meadow this morning to check on the state of the flooding after last night's rain. The level of the River Ems was as high as it has ever been, a good 6 inches up on the past week. The water was lapping against the bottom of the black sandbags in the north-east corner. The Environment Agency has been here to reinforce the wall of bags with an extra layer along the top and another layer along the top of the brick wall. They have done a good job in difficult circumstances, so lets hope the bags do not get thrown into the river as they were last time.

The south meadow is now totally flooded with the water level just a couple of inches below the Local Nature Reserve notice on the signcase at the south gate.

I walked up Lumley Road to Lumley Mill where the water was rushing through the new sluice gates and also spilling over onto the footbridge across the river. The path through to Seagull Lane was totally flooded as was the large field to the north of the path. I have never seen it this bad.

Bird song

Dunnocks were singing merrily around the meadow this morning, what a cheery little song they have. Here is the bird I was listening to singing from the west bank north of the north bridge.

In fact, Dunnock seems to have taken over from Robin as the main songster for the time at least. Other birds singing included Song Thrush, Wren and Great Tit. I also heard my first Blue Tit song of the winter period from the garden of Holmwood House in King Street.


Feverfew is in flower along Lumley Road. I also spotted just one cluster of Snowdrops on the bank down to the Lumley Stream, the first of the year on the Brook Meadow site, though others may well be beneath the water on the south meadow. Flower buds are forming on the Cherry Laurels in the northern end of Palmer's Road Copse.

Nore Barn

14:45 - 15:30 - I arrived at Nore Barn with the tide rising to high water in about 2 hours. The Spotted Redshank was feeding in the stream closely watched by two birdwatchers, Dave Potter and his friend Martin.

We chatted for a while about the Spotted Redshank and its 'friends' though only the Little Egret turned up today. Dave reminded me of the day in May 2012 when he detected 6 singing Nightingales along Marlpit Lane, plus two Turtle Doves. I was doing the official BTO Nightingale survey at the time and was able to use his sightings.

Other news

Tony and Hilary Wootton Hilary had a good walk around Stansted Forest this afternoon in warm sunshine. Spring's coming!! They saw a flock of at least 100 Fieldfares flying over, making Mistle Thrush type clacking call.

Peter Milinets-Raby thinks the resident winter population of Chiffchaffs have decided that spring is on the way and have decided to move inland as I had three birds today in different localities. The first was in his Havant garden, calling and very active as if on a mission.

The second was at Bidbury Mead and the third along the Hermitage Stream near Barncroft Road, Havant. With Snowdrops, Crocus and Daffodils out everywhere Peter wonders if spring has started! That's a bit premature I reckon.


Myrobalan Plum?

The Cherry Plum tree on the causeway on Brook Meadow has just started to flower for the first time this year. I put report and this photo of the flower on the blog yesterday.

This prompted the following query from Ralph Hollins: "Seeing your reference to this tree at Brook Meadow today I had a look for the species on Google and I see that it has the same botanic name (Prunus cerasiferus) as the Cherry Plum which is also starting to flower now. P. cerasiferus appears in Stace, in the Hampshire Flora, and in Fitter, Fitter and Blamey with the only English name for it being Cherry Plum. When I looked at your tree last year the flowers looked like Cherry Plum but I could not find any fresh shoots coloured green which is supposed to be a distinguishing feature of Cherry Plum. Do you have any further info on Myrobalan Plum to distinguish it from Cherry Plum?"

My answer is that I have always regarded this tree as a type of Cherry Plum, but not the regular one that one sees growing wild. As Ralph says, there are some differences, notably the colour of the leaves which are green in Cherry Plum and purple in what I have been calling Myrobalan Plum.

From my researches, the tree on Brook Meadow is probably the purple leaved cultivar Pissardii, which is widely grown in suburban gardens. In fact, we have one in our garden. The Plant Advice web site gives its common name as Purple-leaved plum - Prunus cerasifera Cultivar: 'Pissardii'.

Much more information on purple-leaved plums is provided by Arthur Lee Jacobson together with a long list of clones and hybrids. To quote him, "About 109 years ago (1880), M. Pissard immortalized his name in the annals of horticulture by introducing from Persia to France the first purple leaf plum tree. That original clone, Prunus cerasifera 'Pissardii' has in turn produced many seedlings, including hybrids, with more or less of "purple" color in their foliage.

To be on the safe side, it might be best to refer to the tree on the causeway on Brook Meadow as a Cherry Plum 'Pissardii' cultivar, until I hear otherwise. There are some standard Cherry Plum trees in Palmer's Road Copse near the car park.


Brook Meadow

I had a walk through the meadow this afternoon to check on the state of the flooding. The river level remains very high and the water is lapping at the base of the sandbags in the north-east corner, but not getting through. Water is still rushing over the sluice gate into the south meadow which remains a lake. The river is still flooding over the area known as Palmer's Road Copse.

More news and photos of flooding on Brook Meadow is on the following web link . . .

I stopped to admire the new willow fence on the river bank near the S-bend that the conservation group constructed on their work day on Sunday.

The first flowers are now open on the old Myrobalan Plum tree on the causeway, about 2 weeks later than later year. This is the tree that got blown over in the early 2000s in similar storms to what we are having now. The conservation group cut it down to a stump, but it has sprouted again and is now a substantial and attractive tree.

Millpond news

Chris Oakley found the promenade around the millpond completely closed at high water this afternoon. The path along Western Parade to Nore Barn was also inaccessible due to the high tide.

Chris observed that the Swans on the town millpond remain very territorial with the north and south pairs each having a demarcation line, constantly pushing to see how much the other will tolerate. The encounter is likely to become more physical as the spring approaches and their hormones really start to flow.

Colin's photos

Colin Vanner said the Bearded Tits were showing well at Farlington Marshes on Saturday. Here's a fine image of a female that he captured.

Colin also saw (and was seen by) this Roe Deer in woodland near Southwick.


Nore Barn

Just one Spotted Redshank was feeding in the stream when I looked in at about 12 noon. The wind was too strong for any serious birdwatching.

Colin's photos

Colin Vanner said the Bearded Tits were shoing well at Farlington Marshes on Saturday. Here's a fine image of a male that he captured.

Colin also saw (and was seen by) this Roe Deer in woodland near Southwick.






The level of the river was much higher this morning than over the past week, following yesterday's rain. And there is more rain to come today. The mini wall of black sandbags has been replaced on the river bank in the north-east corner of the meadow to keep the flow inside the corner. The water was lapping at the base of the bags, but well below the top. The water level was about 6 inches from the top of the brick wall. Thanks to Maurice Lillie for the photo.

The water level in the south meadow was also up on the past few days as it is in Palmer's Road Copse where the Deep Water sign is almost completely submerged. The S-bend had also virtually disappeared in the flooded river. Thanks to Maurice Lillie for the photo.


Malcolm Phillips went looking for birds this morning. Not a lot about he said, but he managed to capture these nice images of two of our most common birds.

Great Tit singing its 'teacher' song

Wren is probably our most numerous resident

Emsworth to Warblington

Yesterday (Jan 31) Peter Milinets-Raby walked along the shore from Emsworth Mill Pond to Nore Barn (8am to 8:55am) and then later to the Warblington shore (9am to 10am). Here are the highlights:

Emsworth Harbour: 934 Knot (counted from a series of photos - the birds were closer to shore and clearly in larger numbers - chilly weather perhaps). 17 Shelduck. 800+ Dunlin. 140+ Brent Geese. 1 Sandwich Tern hawking along the channels. 2 Pintail. 7 Grey Plover.

Nore Barn: 212 Dunlin, 8 Knot, 91 Brent Geese, 107 Wigeon, 104+ Teal, 9 Shelduck, 2 Spotted Redshank (not quite in the stream). 6 Gadwall, 4 Pintail.

Warblington: In cemetery - Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker. Med gull ad winter in with 350+ Black-headed Gulls and 12 Common Gulls in churned up field next to farm.

Off Conigar Point: 177 Dunlin, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 21 Grey Plover, 27 Lapwing, 3 Pintail, 23 Curlew, 29 Shelduck, 125 Brent Geese, 41 Wigeon, 4 Red Breasted Merganser. In field behind point - 15 Skylarks and 7 Stock Doves.

The first section of sea wall south of the cemetery has three huge chunks of concrete panelling removed by the sea and I fear that more damage could be done, especially with the high tides expected over the next few days!

Garden birds

Patrick Murphy had a busy time in his garden yesterday with 7 Goldfinches ground feeding and a further 4 or 5 on the feeders above them. He also had a Song Thrush, one of a pair of daily visitors and a flock of Long Tailed Tits invading his fat ball container.

For earlier observations go to . . . January 17-31