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for October 1-16, 2014
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Conservation work session
I went over to the meadow this morning for the regular conservation work session. It was a fine and warm autumn morning and there was a good turn out of volunteers. The main task was to complete cutting and clearing the orchid area on the north meadow. This was achieved with one volunteer operating the power scythe and numerous others raking, bagging and removing the arisings.

Flood defence wall
At the end of the session I met one of the workers from the Environment Agency contractors who had been summoned back to inspect the damage to the concrete bag wall. He said they would repair the wall with new bags and pins. He also said it had been mentioned about 'naturalising' the wall with soil and shingle. That's good. The message has clearly got through about the need to improve the general appearance of the concrete bags.

Wildlife observations
I heard two Wrens singing, adding their voices to those of Robins which have been singing for a couple of months.
I saw several hoverflies (Helitopus pendulus) on the south meadow.

Bumblebees were feeding on the Michaelmas Daisies. Here is an all over ginger Bumblebee which I think must be Bombus pascuorum . This is one of the last Bumblebees to disappear in the autumn.

I saw 2 Red Admirals in different parts of the meadow, basking in the warm sunshine. I saw another two Red Admirals in my garden when I got home.

Plants in flower included Bristly Ox-tongue, Red Clover and Common Comfrey.

Differing fortunes of migrants
The State of the UK's Birds 2014 report is published today by the British Trust for Ornithology. It highlights the trends for 59 winter migrant birds, those that breed at higher latitudes and spend the winter months in the UK, along with the trends for 29 summer migrants, those that breed here and winter further south from southern Europe to sub-Saharan Africa.
It finds that the winter migrants are doing much better than the summer migrants. Of the 59 winter migrants, eg Pink-footed Goose and Whooper Swan, only 5% have declined drastically, and just over a quarter have shown moderate declines; the remainder being stable or increasing. However, of the 29 summer migrants, 41% are in long-term decline, 31% are stable and 28% are showing increases in their populations.
The report also highlights interesting variations in the fortunes of the summer migrants depending on where they winter. The report sub-divides the migrants into three categories:
1. those wintering in the arid zone of Africa immediately south of the Sahara (the Sahel and Sudan savannah)
2. those wintering in the humid zones of central Africa (the Guinea savannah and forest)
3. those wintering further south in the tropical and subtropical zones of Africa.
The review shows particularly dramatic declines in those species wintering in the humid zone of Africa, ie Common Sandpiper, Turtle Dove, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Nightingale, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Tree Pipit. This contrasts sharply with species wintering in the arid Sahelian areas of Africa which show less decline overall, eg Sand Martin, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler.
Species wintering furthest south in tropical areas e.g. Cuckoo, Swift, and Swallow also show a substantial decline since the early 1980s, but not as much as those wintering in the humid zone.
Finally, the group of species that winter north of the Sahara, ie the partial/European migrants show a substantial increase since the mid 1980s. This latter group includes Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Chiffchaff and Stonechat.
Download the report here . . .


Garden birds
My garden has been bereft of birds for the past few weeks, but there was a veritable bonanza early this morning with two Blackbirds, Blue Tit, Robin, Magpie and a splendid female Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on the bark of our cherry tree. When it saw me through the window it slid around the back of the tree as is its custom. I got my camera out, but could only get a blurry (but colourful) image through the window.

Great Spotted Woodpecker is very unusual in my town garden, this being only the third sighting since moving into this present house in 1997. The last one was another female in late October 2012. All this gives me an incentive to start recording birds regularly for the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme which I have somewhat neglected recently.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby had a short walk along the Warblington shore ahead of the high tide just before the rain came down (12:05pm to 1:30pm). The highlights were as follows:
Off Conigar Point: 1 Greenshank, 25 Brent Geese, 31 Teal, 32 Wigeon, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Lapwing, 3 Dunlin, Spotted Redshank with colour rings W//R+GR, 1 Sandwich Tern.
In Tamarisk hedge: 1 Chiffchaff, 1 singing Cetti's Warbler.
Flying over on migrant: Skylark 7 over south, 1 Meadow Pipit over south, 1 Snipe over south, though briefly dropped in the field behind the point for three minutes, then resumed heading south (see photo).

Off Pook Lane: 16 Knot, 18 Brent Geese, 10 Dunlin, 21 Lapwing, 88 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50+ Redshank (one noted with coloured rings B//-+B//BG), 7 Greenshank (colour rings - G//R-+YN//- and G//R-+NY//-).

Unusually, Peter also had 109 Black-tailed Godwit some with coloured rings, as follows: W+LO, W+YN, Y+GY, G+YY, R+YG, R+RG, B+GG, Y+YB.
Brian's note:
Peter wondered if these were the missing Emsworth godwits, but I think not. I have checked through all my records and I have no sightings for any of them in Emsworth Harbour, except G+YY way back in 2005. The three I personally have records for were seen west of Emsworth as far as Farlington.
G+YY - Last record -12-Sep-10 Farlington Marshes
W+YN - Last record - 11-Aug-11 Farlington Marshes
Y+GY - Last record - 04-Mar-13 'Texaco Bay' Hayling Island
I have no previous records for B+GG, R+RG, R+YG, W+LO, Y+YB.

Squirrel antics
Graham Petrie has been laughing this afternoon at one of his local squirrels balancing on the head of an ageing sunflower to steal all the seeds.


Vandalism on Brook Meadow
I had a stroll through the meadow on the way to the shops. Four of the concrete bags are now in the river in the north-east corner as reported by John Tagg on Oct 12. Another bag on the wall is loose and could easily be thrown in with the others. Overall, I think the wall of bags is very ugly, so maybe the kids who threw them in the river are telling us something?
I went over there again this afternoon when I happened to meet a young chap from the Environment Agency who had come to check on the work carried out by the contractors. He did not know anything about the damage to the wall, but said he would report it to his superiors. I also requested that he bring to their attention that the conservation group were not pleased with the appearance of the concrete bags. One possibility I mentioned to him was that the bags could be covered with an embankment of soil which could then be planted to create a feature. That would also make the wall of bags more secure.

Emsworth Harbour
12:30 - Tide rising to high water in about 3 hours. From the marina seawall I counted 32 Brent Geese including a family with 3 juveniles. This could well have been the same family that I saw yesterday in a different flock. The family with 2 juveniles that I saw yesterday was not here today. There were another 7 Brent Geese in the upper channel near the town, but no juveniles. Juveniles can easily be identified from the white bars on their wings.

The Brent family with three juveniles

Barry and Margaret Collins stopped for a chat. They were going for a walk down the west side of Thorney. Just as he was leaving Barry called out 'Wheatear' as one of these delightful birds perched very briefly near where we had been standing. No time for a photo. I counted just 17 Black-tailed Godwits in the harbour with no colour-rings.

It's a Dunlin
Peter Milinets-Raby says the possible 'Curlew Sandpiper' that I saw in Emsworth Harbour yesterday is almost certainly a Dunlin.

"The bill does look long, but some Dunlin can have very long bills, so not a reliable feature. Curlew Sandpiper bills have a snout-like appearance, emerging from the lores, while Dunlin look stuck on with a broad base. Jizz is the best feature, though not always captured well in photos. On closer inspection, it is dumpy, rounded and appears to have short legs. No real neck (though it could be tucked in). The crown is very grey (I would expect Curlew Sandpiper to have a darker, streaked crown). The wings seem to be too plain. I would expect Curlew Sandpiper to have more patterning in the wings.The following website might help:
The last few Dunlin I have seen have been in "early" winter plumage, like this bird. A bit of a dramatic difference from the autumnal birds that I have got used too over the last two months. The first "Winter" plumaged Dunlin fooled me the other day. Made me look at them more closely than usual. I think the winter birds that are here to stay are just moving in. My last visit on 12th October had no Dunlin and the six on 7th October were all in winter plumage. So my conclusion is 95% Dunlin, unless other photos hint at anything else."

Slipper Millpond
I was interested to find 24 Coot on Slipper Millpond, the most so far this autumn, and possibly marking the start of the traditional winter gathering?

Westbrook Stream
The Westbrook Stream that runs adjacent to Bridge Road has been cut and cleared by the Environment Agency. All the Bulrushes have gone. What a shame. How is it the agency are not willing to cut and clear the River Ems on Brook Meadow in the same way?

Waiting room display
I have up dated the wildlife display board in the newly refurbished waiting room on Platform 2 of Emsworth Railway Station. The new display contains a mixture of wildlife and people which I thought would be of more general interest than the straight forward wildlife pictures which I did last time. The waiting room is now warm and nicely decorated and has tables chairs where you can have a coffee and a cake from the cafe which is next door. A very pleasant and friendly environment.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley says the contractors were back on Hampshire Farm today to cut the paths around the site, which are now twice the width they were after the last cut in September. Chris found four types of fungi including a Mycena which were everywhere. Chris hesitated to specify which one as there are 102 varieties.


Emsworth Harbour
I got to the marina seawall at 11:30 with the tide rising to high water at 15.30. The first birds to greet me were a small flock of Brent Geese - my first of the winter season. They have been around for a few weeks in Langstone Harbour, but always take their time to come into Emsworth. I counted 24 Brent Geese in this small group with 5 juveniles in two broods of 3 and 2. That's a very good start! I could see another 35 Brent Geese on the far mudflats, but they were too far away to check reliably for juveniles.

Other birds in the eastern harbour: 85 Redshank, mostly in water so checking for colour-rings was difficult, but I did not see any. 18 Black-tailed Godwits well scattered. 2 Little Egrets, 1 Grey Heron, Mute Swan family with 2 cygnets, 6 Turnstone, 1 Grey Plover, 2 Curlew, 1 Greenshank.
I also spotted what I thought at first was a solitary Dunlin, but on closer inspection the bird the bird appeared to have a longer bill than I would have expected on a Dunlin. So, my tentative conclusion is that it might have been a Curlew Sandpiper! I shall be interested to hear from Peter Milinets-Raby as he has had plenty of experience with Curlew Sandpipers at Warblington.

Nore Barn
12:00 - Plenty of Wigeon and Teal close to the shore. 16 Shelduck much further out in the main channel. Nothing in the stream but for Little Egret and the usual flock of Mute Swans. No sign of the Spotted Redshank and the Greenshank, but I did not wait until the stream filled up.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley has added a new page to his web site on the archeology of Hampshire Farm. It is amazing the things he has found there. If you are into this subject then take a look.
Go to . . .

Nightingale survey
The BTO survey conducted in 2012-2013 of breeding Nightingales in Sussex (which I took part in) has just been published and here is a very brief summary of its main findings.
1. Most strikingly, the survey found no evidence for a decline in Nightingale numbers in Sussex since the previous national survey conducted by the BTO in 1999, and it is possible that numbers have remained stable, as there have been no significant changes in distribution in Sussex since 1999.
2. There has been a continuing shift, also noted in the 1999 survey, towards scrub as being the most important habitat type for Nightingales in Sussex, with 64% of all territories in 2012-2013 containing scrub habitats of various kinds, and there is also a clear association with wet habitats such as ponds, streams and ditches.
Overall, the range of Nightingales in the UK is contracting towards the south-east and the continent, though it is interesting to note that this range contraction is occurring despite a projected northward expansion in response to climate change.


Value of Ivy
David Minns who lives in North Street, Emsworth, had at least five Red Admirals on his ivy the other day, and more today, feeding avidly on the flowers in the sunshine. It just goes to show the value of ivy flowers at this time of year. I have two hedges of Ivy in my garden which, like David's, attract a variety of late flying insects.
David also noted lots of bees of several different types, including some bumble bees with white rumps. These will probably be Bombus terrestris as the queens often start new nests in the autumn and David's bees might be early workers collecting pollen and nectar.

Rare bug?
Chris Oakley discovered what he is sure is a Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) on the Hampshire Farm site yesterday. He says it can be found in British Bugs an on line identification guide to UK Hemiptera under family Coreidae. It was introduced from the USA in 1999 and is found principally scattered along the south coast. It didn't like the rain and kept dodging under the wood, so Chris had to keep turning wood over until he got a decent shot.

Chris also had a bit of a surprise yesterday with seven House Martins around the pond. They didn't stop long and flew off to the west. He thought that this gall looked interesting, made by a Thistle Gall Fly which has a particular fancy for Creeping Thistle.

More vandalism
John Tagg reports that vandals have returned to the north-east corner of Brook Meadow and have thrown the four concrete bags back in the river. These were presumably the ones that were retrieved from the previous vandalism, but only placed back on the wall, not secured, so easy enough to pick up again for a strong and determined youth. It also looks as if they have loosened some others from John's photo.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning to have a stroll along the Warblington shore (7:05am to 9:02am - a very , very low tide). A very quiet morning.
Ibis Field: 7 female, 1 male Pheasant, 2 Moorhen, Water Rail heard squealing, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Chiffchaff .
Visible migration: Linnet 3 over south east, Pied Wagtail 11 over (mostly singles), Chaffinch 23 over, Skylark 9 over west (two singles and a flock of 7), 3 Mistle Thrush over, Snipe over heading south.
Conigar Point: 36 Brent Geese, 30 Teal, 19 Little Egret feeding in the channel with 2 Grey Herons, 3 Grey Plover.
Pook Lane: (not much around due to bait digger out in the trickle in the channel).
87 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Grey Plover, 41 Brent Geese (12 of them juveniles), 3 Greenshank (one colour ring RG//-+YY//-), 40+ Redshank (one with rings B//-+B//RR-), 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Lapwing.
Brian's note: excellent news about the Brent Goose juveniles. Looks like they've had another reasonably good breeding season.


Emsworth Harbour
Starting at the marina seawall at 09.30 with the tide rising to high water at 13:13. I counted 47 Black-tailed Godwits scattered around the mudflats. No colour-rings that I could see.
Over to Nore Barn by 10:30 where the tide was still not fully in. The Spotted Redshank and the colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) were feeding together in the stream, and were still there when I left at about 11:00. Here is today's picture of the two 'chums'.

In addition, 26 Wigeon, 12 Teal and 4 Black-tailed Godwits were in the bay. No sign of any Brent Geese as yet.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley had wet trip around the Hampshire Farm site this afternoon. He says there were still Common Darters, he saw two females, one by the pond and the other up on the reserve. Also, a bright Red Admiral. The fox was in his usual place but took a well aimed dive into the hedge when he spotted Chris. There was a Skylark hovering over the plantation.
Chris sent me a photo of a 'grass' which he could not identify. He said it was obviously a runner as this specimen is 48 inches long. The gap between each node varies from 2 to 5 inches, progressively longer toward the root which is quite small and stubby. It looks a bit like Common Reed (Phragmities australis) to me which does creep extensively, though I am far from sure. Maybe someone else can say?

Brent Geese
Ralph Hollins saw at least four families (one group of four juvs seemed to be a single family - the others had two juvs each) among some 300 Brent Geese on the Budds Farm shore this morning.
Ralph also notes the first appearance of any Brent (at least 100) on the South Moor shore was on Oct 4. He says they used to take much longer to pluck up courage to approach places where humans could be seen. They have not yet plucked up enough courage to venture into Emsworth Harbour.

Migrant birds
The British Trust for Ornithology reports that most of our summer-visiting breeding birds are well on the way towards their wintering grounds. Many Cuckoos are already in the Congo basin, where they'll spend the next few months.
See . . .

Despite the prolonged easterly airflow in September, we are still waiting for the main arrivals of winter thrushes and finches. First Redwings, then Fieldfares, should start appearing in numbers over the next couple of weeks though, as the temperature drops in Scandinavia. For a full round up of what's arriving and what to expect next, check out the BTO Migration blog at . . .


Brook Meadow vandalism
Yesterday Dave Lee reported that vandals have attacked the new flood defence work in the north-east corner of the meadow just days after its completion. Four of the pinned concrete bags had been wrenched from their pins and dumped in the river. Dave informed the police and suggested more monitoring of this area.
I went over this morning only to find the bags back on the wall, presumably retrieved from the river by the Environment Agency contractors. But the bags had just been placed back on the wall, not fixed in, and so could easily be thrown back in the river.

Stunned Firecrest
Patrick Murphy sent me the following photo from one his neighbours in North Emsworth of a bird that had flown into the kitchen window but flew off a few minutes after the photo was taken.

Although Patrick called it a Goldcrest, there is more than a hint of a white supercilium over the eye which strongly suggested a Firecrest and not a Goldcrest. I would be interested in anyone else's view of this. I suppose this could be a breeding bird making its way south for the winter. However, Firecrests do winter here as we found on Brook Meadow in Jan-Mar 2013 with at least two long staying birds.

Local seal sightings
Peter Milinets-Raby says he also saw what was almost certainly the same seal as that seen by Doug Outram on Oct 7, swim past Pook Lane on Oct 5th at 9:15am. It popped its head above the water on two occasions as it swam eastwards. It was surprisingly close in, but it was too quick for his camera. At the time Peter wondered how much depth of water it had to play with as the area it was swimming in could only have been one metre or less deep!
Peter has had two other sightings of Seal along the Warblington Shore during the last couple of months, but has not bothered to report them. He will do so in future.

Butterfly Sightings
Ralph Hollins provides a useful review of what butterfly species are still being seen in October. Surprisingly, thanks to the warm weather of the first five days of the month, Ralph reports that 16 species have been seen in Hampshire and Sussex. They include:- Clouded Yellow, Large White, Small Copper, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. See . . . for Wed 8th October 2014


Nore Barn
I was a bit later getting down to Nore Barn than I had planned. It was about 09.45 when I arrived and the tide was already well advanced. Two hours to high water. The stream was pretty well full of water with the regular flock of Mute Swans there along with the Little Egret feeding near the bridge.
The Spotted Redshank and the Greenshank G+GL were resting together on the western edge of the stream by the saltmarshes. However, they will not be roosting there as it is a high spring tide and the saltmarshes will be covered. The rain started at about 10am so I headed back to the car.

For news, history and photos of the Emsworth Spotted Redshank go to . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley said a Grey Heron was on the Hampshire Farm pond again and is becoming a regular visitor. Despite the weather a Skylark was singing over the central grass area. Cat's-ear flowers are again dotted around the site despite their earlier pruning, their bright yellow flowers are a welcome sight. There is water once again in the stream at the top end after many weeks but not yet running. Chris found this Bush-cricket in the nature reserve, but hesitates to say what species. I think it could be a Speckled Bush-cricket, but I am certainly no expert. Maybe John Arnott could help?

Harbour Seals
Following the Doug Outram's report of a seal at Nore Barn on Oct 7, I guessed it could be one of about 15 in the harbour. However, Ralph Hollins informed me that recent counts put this figure much higher; Barry Collins had 28 seals on the Pilsey Sands off Thorney Island on Aug 31 this year. Numbers have been increasing over the years, so my initial guess was somewhat out of date. For further information see . . .

Here are some of the Harbour Seals in Chichester Harbour that Malcolm Phillips took from the solar boat


Nore Barn
I got to Nore Barn at about 2.15pm with the tide falling - 3 hours after high water. The stream was pretty empty, but there was nothing in it but for a Mute Swan family with one cygnet and a few gulls. There was a brisk westerly wind blowing so I sheltered in the small path leading to Maisemore Gardens to wait for the birds to arrive.
After a few minutes Neil and Jill Foster arrived and we did not have long to wait for the birds to show up. A Little Egret was first to come in, feeding actively in the stream. After about 10 minutes the Spotted Redshank arrived along with its friend the, now, colour-ringed Greenshank - G+GL - and they all proceeded to feed in the stream, just as they always have done. All good pals! Note: Greenshank G+GL was ringed on 22-Sep-2014. This is likely to be the same Greenshank that regularly fed with the Spotted Redshank in the Nore Barn stream, but as an unringed bird.

The next person to turn up was Peter Milinets-Raby who had been watching a good collection of Greenshank in the channels on the western mudflats, including at least 6 colour-ringed birds. See his report below. The Greenshanks included G+GL from the stream which had joined them. I also got this photo of a Greenshank with YO on the left leg which I have not been able to identify. It looks like yellow on the right leg too. I don't think Peter got this one. Anne de Potier says it was probably YO+YY, ringed last year 8.9.2013.

Peter also picked up a Sandwich Tern perched on top of the post with the red can.

Emsworth Harbour (east)
I got to the millpond seawall by 3.15pm. The tide was still well in the eastern harbour, but I found a small group of four Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the town shore, including the familiar flagged colour-ringed bird: LO+LW flag. This bird has been a regular wintering bird in Emsworth since Nov-2010. It was last seen on 17-Sep-14.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby reports: "After a wash out yesterday, it was good to be out this morning ahead of a perfect incoming tide. Again, it feels like the area is waiting for winter to arrive with wader numbers (like Dunlin) being way down. I visited the Warblington shore (7:04am to 8:57am), the highlights were as follows:
Chiffchaff in the cemetery.
Off Conigar Point: 37 Teal, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Brent Geese, 2 Lapwing.
Off Pook Lane:
90+ Redshank - colour rings -//B+B//BG and -//B+B//NO and -//B+B//WL and -//B+B//RR),
9 Greenshank - colour rings RG//-+YY//- and N//R+RY//- and R//G+YN//- and B//R+GR//- {Seen later at Nore Barn} and NR//+YY//- and G//R+GR//- and G//R+LL//- {Seen later at Nore Barn} and G//R+BB//- and the 9th bird had rings, but was too far away!)
Spotted Redshank - colour rings W//R+GR. Feeding with Redshank. Note: W+GR was ringed by Pete Potts and his team on Thorney Island on 18-Jan-14.
138 Bar-tailed Godwit (best count so far), 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover (later a flock of 22 headed west down the channel towards Langstone Harbour), 4 Lapwing, 1 Knot, 6 Dunlin, 2 Brent Geese, 2 Sandwich Tern feeding along the channel, 2 Skylark over on migration south.

Nore Barn
Later in the day, Peter had a couple of hours to kill, so he waited at Nore Barn for the tide to drop (1pm to 2:51pm - high tide at 11:04am). That is where I met up with him.
Highlights: Summer plumaged Little Grebe in the bay of the stream from 1pm to 2pm. 2 Little Egrets roosting at stream entrance, 2 Jays over, 3 Sandwich Tern feeding out in the harbour, 7 Brent Geese, 10 Teal & 6 Wigeon loitering out on the salt marsh north of Fowley Island, flock of 37 Lapwing flew west over the harbour heading towards north Hayling, 45+ Black-tailed Godwits dropped into the salt marsh north of Fowley Island at 1:46pm. One flew into Nore Barn stream for ten minutes until dog flushed it.
At 2:05pm a flock of 12 Greenshank dropped onto the edge of the salt marsh north of Fowley Island. With this flock was the Spotted Redshank that eventually flew into the Nore Barn stream with a single Greenshank at 2:30pm.
Colour rings on Greenshank RY//-+BYtag//- and YO//-+YY//- and B//R+GR//- and G//R+GL//- and G//R+LL//- and G//R+YB//-) Note: G+YB was last seen in Emsworth 17-Sep-14 in the Slipper basin by Malcolm Phillips.
Kingfisher over stream and along past Nore Barn Wood.

Seal at Nore Barn
I had an e-mail from Doug Outram to say that at about 10am on Sunday 5th October, when the sun was out and the sea was dead calm, he and Sally watched a Harbour Seal swimming around the bay at Nore Barn, very close to the shore. That was a very interesting sighting, probably a first for Nore Barn! It is certainly something I have never seen over the years at Nore Barn, though apparently there is in excess of 15 Harbour Seals in Chichester Harbour.


Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley managed to get a picture of the elusive Clouded Yellow butterfly which has been fluttering around on the Hampshire Farm site for some while. Chris says there were two of them around the pond. There was also a Buzzard on one of the fence posts which he hadn't noticed and it gave him quite a start when it came up only a few feet from him.

New web site
Chris has created a splendid web site for the Hampshire Farm open space area, which he says is still 'under construction' but it looks pretty good already with lots of excellent photos. It has a very useful history of the site from farmland to building site, an account of its ecology and a special feature on the attenuation pond, which Chris rightly sees as an important attraction for wildlife on the site. Chris also devotes a page to discussing the enigma of the so-called 'nature reserve' in the northwest corner of the Farm, while another page is devoted to Chris's favourite dragonflies, which abound on Hampshire Farm.
I am sure Chris would welcome feedback about the web site, so go to . . .


Brook Meadow
There was a good turn out of 14 volunteers for today's workday on a fine but chilly morning. The tasks for the day were outlined by Jennifer Rye who also showed us all the formal certificate for the CPRE Award for Hampshire which the Brook Meadow Conservation Group had won. The main task was cutting and clearing the flower rich area in the centre of the north meadow that I usually refer to as the orchid area.


I managed to rescue a couple of Four-spot Spiders (Araneus quadratus) from the orchid area before they were swallow up by the power scythe. I relocated them on the east side of the meadow.

I stopped to admire the dark green Osier leaves on the trees to the east of the orchid area on the north east path. They are much longer and thinner than the leaves of Crack Willow.

Jennifer told me that the men working on the new wall in the north-east corner reported seeing Water Voles along the stretch of river adjacent to the railway embankment. That's interesting as we have had no sightings from that area since the spring.  

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was up before sunrise and out for a walk along the Warblington shore. Tide pushing in and just a bit too late for waders - maybe tomorrow might be better.

He was able to watch the waders depart this morning for their high tide roosts. Interesting! (7am to 9:22am) with the highlights being:
Off Pook Lane: 4 Greenshank (one with colour rings GR//- + YY//- ) - Flew off towards Thorney, 80+ Redshank (4 with colour rings -//B+B//NG and -//B+B//RR and -//B+B//GG and -//B+B//NL) - Most flew off to roost along the north Hayling shore by the hotel, 19 Lapwing - Departed high inland towards Southmoors, 98 Bar-tailed Godwit (highest count so far) - Departed towards Thorney, 23 Brent Geese - Loitered, 34 Teal in eclipse feeding ahead of the incoming tide - Then at high tide they flew into the mill pond, 3 Grey Plover - Flew off towards Langstone Harbour, 111 Oystercatchers pre-roost before departing towards Langstone Harbour, 48 Golden Plover - Flew off with the godwits towards Thorney (first birds in this part of the world), Sandwich Tern.
Langstone Mill Pond: Winter male Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail, 5 Teal before the 34 flew in, 16 Little Egrets and 4 Grey Herons roosting in the trees. Stock Dove

Passing over on migration: 5+ Pied Wagtails, 12+ Skylarks (Mostly in singles roughly heading northwest - one group of 6).


Brook Meadow wall
The job building up the brick wall and repairing the eroded river bank in the north-east corner of the meadow is now complete. It is a hefty construction, but should fulfil its main job in keeping the river off Brook Meadow. We have been assured that the sandbag extension to the brick wall (containing over 400 bags) is secure from vandalism as the bags are filled with concrete and fixed with spikes. The barriers have been removed and it is now possible again to walk around the north path. The contractors will be clearing their work site on the Seagull Lane patch on Monday after attending to the repair of the junction between the path and the eastern end of the north bridge which has been damaged.

Patrick Murphy got this great shot of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker feasting on the sunflower hearts in preference to the usual fat balls.


Spotted Redshank returns
I got to Nore Barn at about 09:45 which was about 3 hours after high water. The first thing I saw was a small pale wader snoozing on the far bank of the lower stream and my heart soared! Yes, this was the Spotted Redshank - back at Nore Barn for the 11th year running. I watched it for the next 30 minutes or so as it continued to snooze on one leg, opening one eye from time to time and occasionally having a stretch.

Eventually, the Spotted Redshank made its way down into the stream to feed in the same active manner that it always has. It looked totally 'at home'.

It was joined in the stream by a colour-ringed Greenshank, which which was probably its old feeding companion from previous years. My guess is that this Greenshank was recently caught and ringed by Pete Potts and his team on Thorney Island. I also saw it yesterday, but this time I could read all the colours, which were G//R+GL - not previously recorded.

This was the earliest first sighting date for the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn though the dates have been getting gradually earlier over the years. See the special Spotted Redshank web page for all the details . . .

Rob Hill of HBC turned up at Nore Barn just in time to see the famous Spotted Redshank feeding in the stream. Rob was there to check on the clearance work in the woods by Martin Cull and the council and to have a look at the new sea wall defences. He told me that Andy Paffett was leaving Havant Borough Council after 35 years!
Other birds in the Nore Barn stream included the regular Little Egret, three Black-tailed Godwits, one was limping with a damaged left foot and the usual collection of gulls.

Emsworth Harbour
I arrived on the marina seawall at 10:45 with the tide falling, though very slowly.
Main sightings: 5 Little Egrets, 74 Redshank - none with colour-rings. 9 Black-tailed Godwits - no colour-rings. 6 Greenshank - four with colour-rings, but I could only read one of them entirely: G//R+NL - again I have not previously recorded this combination. 7 or 8 Little Grebes swimming in the main channel.
It was good to meet Neil Foster on the marina seawall whom I previously met for the first time yesterday at Nore Barn. Neil had his scope with him and hopefully will be able to make a valuable contribution to birdwatching in the local area.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had a walk along Wade Court to the Langstone Mill Pond this morning at 10am for an hour. There was very little to be seen, with low tide and glaring sun. The highlights were:
Horse Paddocks: 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Pied Wagtails, 12+ Long-tailed Tits, 2+ Chiffchaff.
Langstone Mill Pond: 12 eclipse Teal, 2 Shoveler (See photo), Chiffchaff singing, 45+ Goldfinch feeding in the trees, 4 Grey Heron roosting in the trees. Off shore, miles out at the edge of the mud: 4 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank ( one with colour rings B//R+GR//- ), 5 Sandwich Tern loitering on the mud.

Winnall Water Voles thrive
Hampshire Wildlife Trust reports on a recent Water Vole survey at their Winnall Moors Nature Reserve, near Winchester. The survey found 185 latrines along a 400m stretch of the River Itchen, compared to only 20 last year. This shows a healthy population that has bounced back from winter floods. Rachel Remnant, Winnall Reserves Officer, puts this down to the Trust's maintenance of Water Vole friendly habitat, such as thick bankside vegetation, which provides escape from aerial predators and quick recolonisation once high waters recede. See . . .
This type of habitat is also present on Brook Meadow (by default), but it does not appear to have helped the Water Voles population, at least as far as the sightings are concerned.


Nutbourne Bay
15:00 - After parking at the end of Farm Lane I walked along the usual footpath to the sea wall to have a look at the bay. It was about 3 hours to high water and the tide was already fairly high. There was a good number of Wigeon and Teal milling around close to the shore - I would estimate 300 ducks in total with 75% or so of them Wigeon.
Also in the bay were a good number of Pintail with their distinctive profile of long narrow necks and small heads and long pointed tail. I counted 9 in a separate group from the other ducks though there were others mixed in with the Wigeon, not easy to separate. All the Pintail had scalloped brown backs and flanks indicative of females or males in eclipse plumage. There were no males in mature breeding plumage.

I scanned the bay with the scope hoping to see Brent Geese, but there was no sign of any. I still have yet to see one, though I gather there are plenty in Langstone Harbour. I did spot 8 Great Crested Grebes in the bay.
There were no waders to be seen apart from a roosting flock of over 100 Redshank and 4 Black-tailed Godwits on the shingle spit. There was no sign of the regular Greenshank GY+GY or Spotted Redshank in the stream.

Nore Barn
15:30 - I drove over to Nore Barn where the tide was rising slowly - height only 4 metres today. There were still just 9 Wigeon in the bay; they came into the stream as I waited. No Teal at all.
I could hear the distinctive calls of Greenshank wafting over the water. The birds were on the far bank of the main channel and too far away to read colour-rings even with the scope. None of the Greenshank came across to the stream while I was present, so I was not able to check them. And, of course, there was no sign of the Spotted Redshank.
While standing overlooking the shore at Nore Barn, I was pleased to make the acquaintance of Neil and Jill Foster. They are newcomers to Emsworth, but are already avid readers of this blog! We all had a chat to Maggie Gebbett from over her garden fence. Maggie's house overlooks the bay at Nore Barn from where she has a grandstand view of birds in the bay and stream.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had a quick look round the meadow today. He managed to get another sighting of the Water Rail near the S-bend. But the photo I liked best was this splendid Comma butterfly - the first we have had reported for some while. This insect will be feeding voraciously on flowers in preparation for hibernation in woodland. It could possibly be an offspring of an hutchinsoni form Comma, which do emerge in September and look normal, unlike the parents which are very bright.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports on autumn time on the Hampshire Farm site:
"This time of the year always seems to be holding its breath. Summer is over and winter yet to come. The Swallows and Martins have disappeared, though some butterflies and dragonflies are hanging on. The Clouded Yellow which has been around for some weeks is still with us as are the Common Blue butterflies and even a Peacock. There are a lot less of the Common Blue Damselflies but there are still some flying over the pond. The Darters are plentiful and I saw one Broad-bodied Chaser this afternoon. We had a visit from a Heron yesterday but what it can find in this pond, I don't know.
I discovered a Badger sett on Sunday, tucked away in a quiet place. I set up the camera overnight but nothing appeared, although there were grunting noises, probably a Hedgehog. I set it again on Monday, but only a Brown Rat showed up. The next night a Tabby cat came to look round. I now believe that this is an old sett but I will keep an eye on it. One of my refuge mats was home for this young Common Lizard."

Titchfield Haven
Tony Wootton circulated some interesting photos that he got during a visit to Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve, including Snipe courting and a Little Stint dwarfed by an Avocet. But the one I liked best was of a Water Rail having a good stretch, displaying its wings, underparts and legs which are usually well hidden.


Brook Meadow
I had a walk through the meadow this morning where I met Malcolm Phillips on the main river path. The Mackey chaps were still complaining about the difficulty of getting the big posts in the riverbank in the north-east corner. They said the Environment Agency were on the scene and discussing the next step.
Malcolm had already seen and photographed the Water Rail and we walked back to the S-bend to have another look for it. The bird showed up, but very briefly. Here is the photo Malcolm took earlier.

Malcolm stayed on for a while after I left, but did not see the Water Rail again. However, he did get a nice visit from a Grey Wagtail. The first we have seen for a little while.

Nore Barn
14:30 - 15:00 As it was October I thought I should go over to Nore Barn to check on the stream. The tide rising quickly and already quite high. There was no sign of the Spotted Redshank as yet, but it is still a bit early for it. The first sighting last year was on Oct 11. The usual small group of Mute Swans was in the stream along with a Little Egret.
A little later a Greenshank turned up in the stream which I was surprised to see was colour-ringed. The regular Greenshank here has no rings. I could only see the rings on one of its legs which were GL (green over lime). This could be GL+YY.

A couple of Sandwich Terns were flying around noisily, one of which I think was a juvenile. Here is the adult perched on a post.

Five Wigeon were on the water in the bay, the most I have seen here this season. Here are four of them.

Walking over the small bridge towards the shore I spotted good numbers of Lesser Sea-spurrey flowering on the edge of the path. I then had a look at the main area of saltmarshes to the west of the stream and found what could be Greater Sea-spurrey. I am never sure how to distinguish these plants, except for the size of the flowers, much larger in Greater Sea-spurrey. According to Blamey, Fitter and Fitter, Greater Sea-spurrey should also have longer petals than sepals, though the one I photographed here does not.

Lesser Sea-spurrey
Greater Sea-spurrey

I met Roy Ewing clearing up after the cutting back of the brambles by the council. The clearance has opened up the glades through the woods which will certainly encourage wildlife. The grassland had also been cut by Martin Cull.

I continued walking along the shore to the south of the woods and noted the splendid new sea wall which is now complete and looking very good with flat concrete blocks the same as those used previously.

Roy told me about the special celebration to mark the completion of the new wall to be held on Friday October 17th at 3pm at the site.

For earlier observations go to . . Sept 1-30