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

for November 1-15, 2014
in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Chichester Gravel Pits
Heather Mills reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group
"9 met on a changeable morning to start with light rain, but no wind. Sunshine later in time for coffee break with a shower & rainbow, all at the same time. We began by walking in a westerly direction and as we passed one garden that had a pile of cooking apples rotting in a heap, it was surrounded with wasps & other insects taking an interest. As we looked over east Trout Lake, instead of Trout some of us were able to discern a huge fish launching out of the lake. I could only think of a Pike, being long and silver colour. As we started to survey Copse lake, a Kestrel looked like it was chasing the Kingfisher who gave us good views as it skirted the edge of the lake under the tree cover, only to sit at the end fishing. This was one of at least 5 views of Kingfisher this morning and I certainly heard calls from 2 in a dispute, or more likely a male & female. On this lake there were the most Greylag that I have seen in recent visits, 77.
A strange duck dived regularly here but we did not know whether it had interbred and what with. Derek took pictures for possible I.D.
Brian's note: It looks like a female/juvenile Red-crested Pochard with distinctive white cheeks and dark head. The white primaries show well on the first photo.

There were good views of family Great Crested with the juvenile still with a striped head pattern. Coots in abundance on every lake that we surveyed, and Tufted ducks with at least circa 40 Pochard on Ivy lake. To finish our visit we went north along a rubbish strewn path alongside the holiday homes. Here we had a very good view of a Tree Creeper and Goldcrest, with 3 Buzzards soaring overhead. 45 birds seen/heard."

Garden birds
It was only yesterday that I was bemoaning the absence of birds in my garden apart from the regular female Great Spotted Woodpecker. Well, the situation changed dramatically this morning when I had a real bonanza of 12 different species: 4 House Sparrows, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Goldfinches, 2 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Robin, 1 Dunnock, 1 Woodpigeon and 1 Magpie in addition to the woodpecker. But the crowning glory was a bright blue Kingfisher which perched very briefly (for no more than 20 seconds) on the back wall where the Westbrook Stream runs down to the town millpond. This was only my 5th Kingfisher sighting in the garden; my last one was in Jan 2008. It was too quick for me to get a photo, but here is a photo I got a few years ago of a Kingfisher perched on the wall at the end of the garden overlooking the stream. Not a patch on Malcolm's from yesterday, but at least you can see what it is!

Thorney photos
Malcolm had a walk down the west side of Thorney this afternoon and got a couple of good images.

Female Reed Bunting on the reeds on Little Deeps

Cormorant swimming in the harbour

Late butterfly
Brian Lawrence had a walk around Brook Meadow this afternoon and spotted what looks like a late flying Small White butterfly. I have not heard any reports of these recently.


Emsworth Harbour (west)
11:30 - 12:30. I walked along Western Parade from the Emsworth Sailing Club building to Nore Barn with the tide rising to high water in about 4 hours. About 100 Dunlin were feeding along the edges of the channel near the sailing club.
On the western mudflats were 81 Brent Geese including four families of 3, 3, 2, 1 juveniles.
Also, 62 Black-tailed Godwits mostly at the end of Kings Road including three colour-ringed birds. Two regulars W+WN and ROL+RLR. Also, L+LL which I last recorded in Emsworth on 27-Aug-14. It has been a regular in Emsworth Harbour for the past 5 winters since 06-Nov-09.

The Spotted Redshank was in the lower stream area plus Greenshank G+GL. There were two more Greenshanks one with rings, probably RG+BY tag though I did not see the right leg clearly. Also, the obligatory single Dunlin with the godwits.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had a good afternoon round the meadow today. I know Malcolm has been stalking the Kingfisher for a long time and today he got his best ever shot of one. And it was brilliant. He first saw the bird about 50 yards up from the south bridge and followed it up river until it came to rest on the large Ash tree on the railway embankment which overhangs the north path. As shown in the photo, it was a female bird, having a red lower mandible. The male's bill is all dark.

Malcolm also got photos of a Red Admiral, Robin and Blackbird eating red berries.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley was tempted onto the Hampshire Farm site by the warm sunshine this afternoon. He reports:
"I was concerned about the water levels after so much rain. The water in the pond was above the outlet pipe; the level having risen considerably in the past twenty four hours. I crossed through the Wren Centre to check the outfall. The water was certainly rushing out very fast but well within norm. I was much relieved after so much trouble last winter. I checked the river Ems level at the point above the weir, it is standing at 4 feet. Again, about normal, considering there had been so much rain. There is some work being carried out in the river above the weir. It seems that one of the Westbourne houses is having its garden wall heightened; a flood prevention measure I assume, so the flow has been diverted to one side. The site is extremely wet with a lot of surface flooding and the water in the stream is much higher now but far from bank-full. The meadows were relatively quiet with just a few Black-headed Gulls and some Carrion Crows. I did find one of the Clouded Yellow butterflies flying around the top hedge. I wonder how long they will be around?"

Garden birds
Patrick Murphy was interested to read the commentary on Tuesday's blog about the white winged Carrion Crow that he regularly gets in his North Emsworth garden. He said the crow visits once or twice a day; in fact, yesterday it came 3 times!! If there are no scraps, it has taken to eating the fallen sunflower hearts and fat ball pieces from the feeders. As for it being a 'nervy bird' his wife, Brenda, went into the garden to throw it a chicken bone and it didn't stir. Well, that just goes to show, birds are fickle creatures!
This morning lucky Patrick had the following birds in his garden: Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Blackbird (M&F), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Goldfinches, Dunnock and Magpie. The female Great Spotted Woodpecker was back on the fat ball holder in my garden, but hardly anything else. And, yes, my bird feeders are full of sunflower hearts!


Sweet Violets
While walking along Warblington Road this morning I noticed a patch of Sweet Violets flowering on the grass verge outside house number 14 on the south side of the road.

Although Sweet Violets are usually regarded as spring flowers, it is certainly not unusual to see them flowering early in mild winters. I often see them along the verge of Warblington Road. There is also always a good display of them in St Faith's churchyard in Havant, though this year Ralph Hollins regrets they have been totally eliminated by close mowing, he thinks in preparation for Remembrance Day.

Garden woodpecker
This morning the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the cherry tree in our garden, nibbling at the fat balls in the holder. This was the 4th week running that this normally very rare garden bird for us has been present in the garden. The only other birds I have seen in the garden over the past few days have been a Blackbird and a Woodpigeon.

Graham Petrie had a walk around Havant Thicket this morning and spotted plenty of fungi. Here are a couple of his favourites.
The first one he calls Orange Coral though I could not find this name in the official list of English fungus names. My guess is that it might be Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa). The greasy look of the fungi in the photo suggests this, unlike true coral fungi which are dry. But, I wait to be corrected! It is similar to the Small Stagshorn found on Hampshire Farm by Chris Oakley on Nov 4.
It always grows on wood, although sometimes the substrate is not immediately evident if it has become buried beneath leaf litter or moss on the forest floor. It is common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland.

The second one Graham and I thought was a Common Puffball. But Ralph Hollins responded to say he had never come across a 'double-decker' Puffball species nor one with such prominent 'flecking' on its cap. He suggested looking at . . . which shows an Amanita citrina (False Death Cap) at a very early stage of its development before the cap has separated from the volva (the bag at the base of Amanita species stems). That could well be Graham's fungus.


Nore Barn
I got down to Nore Barn at about 11am with the tide rising to high water at 14:30. I counted 134 Brent Geese in the main harbour with two families of 4 and 3 juveniles. So far this season I have aged a total of 714 Brent Geese, finding 84 juveniles, giving a proportion of 11.76%. This looks like a reasonable, though not outstanding, breeding season for the Brents.
Others: 5 Shelduck, Wigeon not counted. 80+ Dunlin. Spotted Redshank in stream. Greenshank G+GL snoozing on edge of channel. 32 Black-tailed Godwits - no colour-rings.

Emsworth swans
There is little change in the swan situation on the town millpond where the resident Mute Swan pair continue rule the roost with their one cygnet, keeping all other swans at bay. However, yesterday, I did notice a second pair of Mute Swans patrolling the southern section of the pond, which I thought might be the same pair that were here last spring and constantly in conflict with the resident pair. There was no sign of them today so I presume they had been driven off, but it will be interesting to see how the situation develops on the millpond as spring approaches. Golly, it is hardly winter and I am thinking about spring!
Meanwhile, the Mute Swan family with two cygnets from the Slipper Millpond nest were swimming around in the harbour beneath the quay, not allowed on the millpond. I know this is the Slipper Millpond family as the pen bird is 'Polish' with pink legs and feet.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips had an early walk to Slipper Pond in the hope of seeing the Kingfisher. When he got to the kissing gate to near the Chequers Quay houses he got a nice shot of a Pied Wagtail which I think is a resident in this area. Brendan Gibb-Gray used to leave scraps for it.

As Malcolm looked round the corner of the wall he spotted a Kingfisher on one of the ropes of one of the boats and got the following shot of the bird just as it was taking off. I think this is the first photo of a Kingfisher in flight that I have included on the blog.

Malcolm got a much easier picture of these two exotic ducks perched on the wall of Peter Pond. They are both male Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys). I had one on Peter Pond on Nov 3rd, but have not seen it since. However, today it was back with its partner. They are South American birds, east of the Andes, with confirmed breeding only in Argentina and Paraguay. There are numerous sites selling Ringed Teal so it is clearly a popular duck for wildfowl collections. But where the heck are these ducks coming from? Does anyone know of a local wildfowl collection nearby?

Havant Water Voles
Brian Lawrence had a walk in Havant today to have a look for Water Voles by the wavy railings opposite the big Tesco's store. He saw two of them and got a nice photo of one having a meal. That is the place to go to see Water Voles. Brian spoke to a lady who said she had seen a ginger cat a while ago catching and killing young water voles. That is not good news.

He also got a photo of a Grey Wagtail in the stream

Bewick's Swans' late arrival
The first of the winter's Bewick's Swans has finally turned up at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), the latest arrival since 1969. They arrived on 6 November - around two weeks later than usual. Normally these small wild swans, which reliably migrate from Russia to Slimbridge each winter, make their first appearance in mid to late October. This year's late mild weather and unfavourable wind directions delayed their arrival. Good news was that the first arrivals were a family because the swans desperately need more cygnets to bolster the dwindling population.
See . . .


Crow with white in wings
Patrick Murphy sent me a photo of a Carrion Crow which has been coming into his North Emsworth garden for the past 7-8 years. It is characterised by the white feathers in its wings. Patrick says it is a regular visitor to the garden and amuses them with its actions. On one occasion they put out some broken biscuits, which the crow stacked up into a pile so it could pick them up to fly off to eat in peace.

Patrick is quite lucky to get a Carrion Crow in his garden since they are nervy birds and don't readily come into urban gardens for food. They are around 18th in the BTO garden bird league. I very rarely get one in my central Emsworth garden, probably once or twice a year, though I regularly see them flying around.
As for the white in the wings, this is not an unusual feature of crows. I often see crows with these aberrations on Portsdown Hill where they gather in good numbers in front of the main observation area. This type of aberration is usually referred to as leucinism, which is a partial albinism, and occurs in many species of bird. Here in Emsworth we have a well-known Blackbird at Lumley with a good deal of white in its wings. There are lots of images of crows with white patches on their wings on the internet, though exactly what causes them does not seem to be clear.

Although the white wings are usually accepted as some sort of plumage abberation, I recall Ralph Hollins offering an alternative explanation several years ago. I have kept all Ralph's wildlife diaries back to 1998 and fortunately came across it in the first one I looked - 1998. On Sun 28 Dec, Ralph wrote "'White winged black crows' is my own name for the increasing number of Carrion Crows which show more or less white in their wings in flight. Over the past 10 (or 20?) years these have become more and more frequently seen in our area, and I am reminded of them now both by the fact that one of four which currently visit my garden most mornings has this characteristic, and by the sighting of one on the 'Gipsies Plain' this morning which had so much white that I had difficulty in deciding that it was not a Magpie. I have heard that this 'variant' of the standard Carrion Crow plumage started to appear in the Channel Islands in the 1960s, has become dominant there, and is rapidly spreading north across Britain.. Although it looks like a plumage colour variation the only bird with this feature which I have handled was one that I found dead at the IBM North Harbour site a good many years back and which had been seen alive for some time before its death. The corpse showed that the feathers were not partially coloured white, but many of the wing feathers were still partially enclosed in the 'plastic covering' which surrounds the barbs of growing feathers and which normally splits and drops off when the feathers are ready for use - these had remained as seals, holding in the barbs and giving the impression of white feather patches in flight."

Early Spotted Redshank?
On this rainy day I spent an hour or so browsing through Ralph's 1998 diary and a fascinating read it was. I came across an entry for Spotted Redshank on the shore to the west of Emsworth - Sat 6 Dec. This set me wondering if this could have been a very early sighting of our familiar Nore Barn Spotted Redshank? Probably not, but a thought.
In fact, Ralph did have what was probably the first definite sighting of the long-staying Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn on 26 Dec 2004. He wrote: "While counting the Emsworth Western Parade shore I heard a brief 'Chew-it' but could not see the bird and disregarded it. A little later, just after passing the end of Kings Road, a pale bird running fast across the mud caught my eye, and when I put my bins on it I saw it was a Spotshank - pale, with long legs and bill and having a prominent pale eye-stripe. It's speedy progress across the mud reminded me of the cartoon road-runner!"
The first time I personally saw the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn was the following winter on 15-Dec-05, but I normally attribute Ralph's as our first ever sighting.

Hayling Shellfish
Joyce Sawyer saw this cluster of shellfish down on Hayling beach and wonders what they are. She said they were soft and rubbery on black tubes. They look like some sort of mussel to me, though I am no shellfish expert by a long shot. Chris Oakley says they are Barnacles. Mike Wells confirms they are Goose Barnacles. The shell has five shiny white plates with a blue-grey sheen. They are attached to debris by a tough stalk. Although Barnacles resemble molluscs they are in fact crustaceans. This is the group that includes crabs and prawns, though barnacles have taken up an immobile attached existence.

East Head wader flocks
Tony Wootton was down at East Head yesterday and got some great shots of masses of swirling Dunlin. Look closely, he says, for Grey Plover, Turnstone and Curlew. Anything else?


Emsworth Harbour (east)
09:30 - Tide rising to high water in about 4 hours. Plenty of water already in the main channel. I was a bit late for most waders. Birds in harbour seen from the marina seawall: 340 Dunlin, 40+ Redshank, 12 Turnstone, 16 Lapwing, 8 Black-tailed Godwits,
84 Brent Geese in the upper channel near the town, but only 4 juveniles in families of 3 and 1.

Nore Barn
10:00 - 57 Black-tailed Godwits, including 4 colour-ringed birds:
B+GO - I have no previous records of this bird. Recently colour-ringed maybe?
W+WN - Regular winter in Emsworth since 2010. 4th sighting this season.
WO+LW flag - Ringed in Iceland 2010. Regular wintering in Emsworth. 5th sighting this season.
ROL+RLR - Ringed in Kent 2009. Regular winter in Emsworth. 5th sighting this season.
Just 1 Dunlin feeding with the godwits - How often do I find that?

I managed to capture godwits B+GO and ROL+RLR feeding close together.

For the first time this season we had not one, but two Spotted Redshanks feeding in the stream, along with the regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL.

Interestingly, the first time I saw two Spotted Redshanks in the stream last winter was on 12-Nov-13 just two days later than today. More than a coincidence?

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley went round the Hampshire Farm open space site before the rain set in. Here is his report:
"Twenty Black-headed Gulls were on the pond. The water is rather muddy at present because of the field run-off off. The stream is running fast now and you can hear it some yards away, it's becoming a real 'babbling brook'. The whole area is very wet underfoot. I saw one lone Peacock butterfly sunning itself on a post and there was a single Common Darter over the pond.
All three Buzzards were airborne but didn't seem to be hunting they were just circling and calling to each other. One pair of Skylarks has now taken up residence in the plantation, perhaps they will nest there instead of out in the open, it would be a lot safer. I managed to add two more plants to my list today Borage and Zigzag Clover.

Here is the late Borage showing well the last of its bright blue petals and dark column of stamens

The Stinking Iris is now clearly visible in the hedge because of its pods of bright orange seeds.

I was able to spot two more clumps that I had missed in the summer. There are not nearly so many flowers around at the moment but the Ox-eye Daisy has managed to stand up to the heavy rain and there are some stunted Corn Marigolds. Some plants like the Spear Thistle, Bristly Ox-tongue and Ribwort Plantain are forming rosettes of new leaves close to the ground. The patterns created are fascinating. It would seem that we are in for twenty four hours of rain so I doubt if I'll get a chance to get back over there until mid week."

Farlington Marshes
Colin Vanner was back on Farlington Marshes on Sunday where he got some excellent images. Bearded Tits are fairly regular at Farlington, but I think this is the first photo I have ever seen of male and female together in one shot. I think the pale female at the back maybe a juvenile female.

Caolin also got his first ever shot of a Cetti's Warbler, an easy bird to hear singing, but hard to see and even harder to photograph. A cracking photo. Well done Colin.


Emsworth to Warblington
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning at sunrise and checked the shore all the way from Emsworth to Pook Lane (7am to 10:20am) Tide slowly pushing in.
Emsworth Harbour 7am to 7:40am Off Mill Pond sea wall in channel adjacent to Emsworth town: 167 Brent Geese, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank in the stream in front of the town, 3 Lapwing, 218 Dunlin, 16 Turnstone, 7 Grey Plover, 2 Little Grebes in the channel, 3 Little Egrets. Further out along the channel 1 male Red Breasted Merganser and 52 Brent.
On the town millpond were 1 male Tufted Duck, 1 Little Grebe and 1 Kingfisher.
Off Mill Pond outflow (7:40am ): 36 Dunlin, 29 Brent Geese, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank (G//R+BNtag//-), 1 Grey Plover, 1 Grey Heron.
Off Beacon Square (7:45am to 7:55am): 21 Wigeon, 3 Grey Plover, 11 Brent Geese, 8 Teal.
Nore Barn (8am to 8:16am): 48 Black-tailed Godwit (WO//-+LW//-), Spotted Redshank (not in the stream, but in one of the deep muddy gullies), 49 Brent Geese, 31 Dunlin, 10 Shelduck, 1 Grey Wagtail. Difficult to count the duck as in the gullies. At least 34+ Teal and 15+ Wigeon.
Warblington (8:20am to 10:20am):
Ibis Field: 67 Collared Dove on the wires over the cressbeds, 2 Mallard, 2 Moorhen, 2 Redwing over with a Meadow Pipit. Cetti's Warbler singing from stream near Conigar Point.
Conigar Point: 27 Brent Geese feeding in the field behind the point, 1 Little Egret, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank (G//R+BB//-), 26 Dunlin, 8 Grey Plover, 1 Shelduck, 10 Teal, 10 Wigeon, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 32 Brent Geese.
Pook Lane: 148 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Red Breasted Merganser (1 male, 1 eclipse male and 4 females), 371 Dunlin, 141 Knot, 13 Shelduck, 312 Brent Geese (on and off the fields, lots of disturbance from dogs), 26 Lapwing, 2 Curlew Sandpiper (not seen together, but two birds in different plumage - clear juv and a moulting bird into winter), 2 Mistle Thrush and a Skylark over, 11 Golden Plover, 1 Spotted Redshank (could not see its legs!), 1 Turnstone, 11 Greenshank (at least 5 had no rings - RG//-+YY//-), 44 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Grey Plover, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Wigeon, 40+ Redshank (-//B+B//RR).

Emsworth stroll
Leaving Peter to do the tough stuff, I was satisfied with a stroll around the local area this morning and what a beautiful morning it was, only to be followed by a rotten afternoon!
I noted down the flowering wild plants during the walk which were: Bristly Ox-tongue, Hoary Ragwort, Creeping Thistle, Common Knapweed, Red Clover, Yarrow, Smooth Sow-thistle, Common Mallow, Groundsel, Purple Loosestrife, Herb-Robert, Michaelmas Daisy, Common Comfrey, Shepherd's Purse, Common Nettle, Dandelion, Daisy. Grasses: Cocksfoot, False Oat-grass, Tall Fescue, Wall Barley.
Other observations: I heard my first Great Tit song of the winter period in Palmer's Road Copse, not a full 'tea-cher' song, but instantly recognisable. A Red Admiral was basking in the warm sunshine on the river bank on Brook Meadow. It had a badly damaged wing. Had a bit of a battering in the storms I suspect.

Thorney Island
Malcolm Phillips sent me a selection of photos he took on a walk down to Thorney Island this morning. Several were of Stonechats. But I have picked out a couple of interesting ones, both fairly common on Thorney, but not all that easy to see (unlike the Stonechat). The first is a female Reed Bunting with its well marked face and streaks along the flanks.

At first glance, Malcolm's second photo looked like a female Linnet, more brownish than the Reed Bunting and less marked on the face, but very pale underparts and well streaked. Though, on second thoughts, maybe it is another Bunting?


Garden woodpecker
We had another garden visit this afternoon from a female Great Spotted Woodpecker for the third week in four. I assume it was the same one that has been here previously as its behaviour was much the same as before, scuttling behind the trunk and branches of the flowering cherry tree when it caught sight of me in the window, in true woodpecker fashion. This time it clung onto the tree to feed from the fat balls in the holder hanging from a branch. In fact, this was the only bird I have seen in the garden all week!

Nore Barn
Malcolm Phillips found Brook Meadow very quiet today, so he walked along to Nore Barn where he found the Spotted Redshank was back in the stream after an absence of near 3 weeks. Phew!

There were plenty of other birds in the area including the usual Wigeon and Brent Geese.


Nore Barn
13:45 to 14:15 - About 3 hours after high water. Plenty of water still in the main harbour, but the stream was emptying fast. Not good conditions for bird watching with a very strong SW wind blowing straight into my face. I hate south westerlies at Nore Barn.

Missing Spotted Redshank
I was hoping to find the Spotted Redshank and friends which have been missing from the stream for a couple of weeks, but a single Little Egret was the only bird feeding there today. We have had no sighting of the Spotted Redshank since Oct 24, though looking at last year's records I see it was also absent from the stream for a period of 2 weeks from Oct 22 to Nov 3, so this looks like a regular behaviour pattern. We shall see.
There were plenty of birds in the area when I arrived, though they gradually dispersed as the tide receded. A mass of birds were in the lower stream including 9 Mute Swans, 74 Wigeon and 34 Brent Geese including good numbers of juveniles. Another 68 Wigeon were in the upper part of the Nore Barn channel south of the woods along with 2 Teal and a couple of Black-tailed Godwits. Total Wigeon = 142.

Black-tailed Godwits
I counted 48 Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the edge of the far saltmarshes along with 4 Greenshank. They were really too far away to read rings with any accuracy, but I am pretty sure I got O+WL.
O+WL - This bird is an occasional visitor to Emsworth Harbour, only the 9th sighting. Previously seen this season 18-Aug-14.
Towards the end of my stint a small flock of 8 Black-tailed Godwits came to feed in the lower stream area including two colour-ringed birds, both mega regulars:
W+WN - Ringed Farlington Oct 2010. Regular winterer in Emsworth. 3rd sighting this season.
ROL+RLR- Ringed Kent Oct 2008. Regular winterer in Emsworth. 3rd sighting this season.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow this morning. Nothing much of interest except for a Little Egret fishing in the river at the S-bend. Malcolm did well to get this shot as egrets usually see you coming and fly off.

Havant Water Voles
Malcolm had to go to Havant in the afternoon so went to have a look at the Water Voles in the pond by the wavy railings opposite the big Tescos store. He saw four voles in all, including one with a bad eye - not the one in this photo.

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley got this photo of a female Stonechat on Hampshire Farm site today. Chris says she was a real poseur, staying around for several minutes. Looks like she took a fancy to Chris!


Chris also spotted these fungi looking just like fried eggs. They look like Sulphur Tufts to me. If so, they are definitely not be to had for breakfast!

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had a walk along past the Langstone Mill Pond to Pook Lane as the tide fell (1pm to 2:48pm). The highlights were as follows:
Off Pook Lane: 109 Black-tailed Godwits (just one close enough for colour ring details R//R+LG//-), 355+ Dunlin, 111 Knot, 15+ Grey Plover, 8 Sandwich Tern on the mud by the pub, 59 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 adult winter Med Gull, 60+ Redshank (-//B+B//WL), 1 eclipse male Red Breasted Merganser, 4 Greenshank ((G//R+BRtag//-), 13 Golden Plover, 12 Shelduck, 1 Lapwing, 511 Brent Geese flew off the fields at Warblington and landed on the shore. As I scanned through them for rarities, I counted 107 juveniles. Not a single Brent Goose was in the channel before this happened!
Langstone Mill Pond: 69 Teal, all displaying and chasing the females, 1 female Wigeon, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Grey Herons roosting, 1 Goldcrest in with a tit flock (6+ Long-tailed Tits, 4+ Blue Tits and 4+ Great Tits).

Brian's notes:
Black-tailed Godwit R+LG - I think this was one of those ringed by Pete Potts in autumn 2013. It was seen in Emsworth Harbour last winter and has been recorded just once this year in Emsworth.
Brent Geese - 107 juveniles in quite a large flock of 511 Brent Geese clearly indicates a very successful breeding season for them.


Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports: "This morning was bright and sunny and despite the chill in the air the sun still felt warm on my back; but a sure sign of winter ahead was the flight of ten Redwing moving west to east.
The ground is heavy with surface water and the stream is full and running quite fast now. The French drains are working well with a steady run into the pond as is the main drainage ditch.
The fungi have all gone after the heavy rain, the only survivors are some brackets and these tiny yellow ones called Small Stagshorn (Calocera cornea), which seem impervious to any weather.

The two Clouded Yellow butterflies are still on the bank above the pond and the Heron is now a regular visitor to the east meadow. There are still two Common Darters, but their territory now seems limited to the pond. Two of the deer were in the reserve and well aware of my presence, choosing to ignore me. I also found 14 rocket sticks - they are always useful in the garden."

A male Sparrowhawk popped into Patrick Murphy's garden at lunchtime, but left empty handed. It stayed in the apple tree for a few minutes preening and waiting to see if any unsuspecting birds returned to the feeders, but there were no takers. This male Sparrowhawk with its distinctive barred rufous neck and underparts, is a regular in Patrick's North Emsworth garden - lucky chap.


I did a count of the birds on the three Emsworth millponds this afternoon, not including gulls.

Emsworth Millpond
The resident Mute Swan pair was on the town millpond with their single cygnet. The only other Mute Swan allowed anywhere near the pond these days resides on the grass verge on Bridgefoot Path. All the remaining flock of 100+ swans, that Emsworth used to be famous for, have been driven off by the resident pair which have nested near the road bridge for the past two years.
Also on the town millpond were 108 Mallard and a white duck and 9 Coot.

Slipper Millpond
Another 8 Coot were on Slipper Millpond along with a female Tufted Duck (the first of the winter season), a Little Grebe, a Cormorant and a Little Egret.

Peter Pond
Finally, over to Peter Pond where I found another 34 Mallard, 2 Coot, 5 Moorhen.
Also feeding with the Mallards was an unusual Teal, which I have never seen before, except maybe at Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

It was fairly easy to identify from the books as there are not many Teal species. It was a male Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys) which is a South American bird, east of the Andes with confirmed breeding only in Argentina and Paraguay. A quick search on Google revealed numerous sites selling Ringed Teal so it is clearly a popular duck for wildfowl collections. This one has probably escaped from somewhere. Interestingly, I noticed what was almost certainly the same Ringed Teal featured on South Today this evening.

Mute Swan 4, Mallard 142, Tufted Duck 1, white duck 1, Coot 19, Little Grebe 1, Cormorant 1, Little Egret 1, Ringed Teal 1.

Emsworth Harbour
Walking back along the millpond seawall towards the town I spotted a small flock of 15 Brent Geese quite close to the wall containing two families, one with 4 juveniles and the other with 3 juveniles. This strengthens my belief that the Brents have had a pretty good breeding season.

Here is the family with 4 juveniles


Brook Meadow
Torrential rain severely curtailed this morning's work session on Brook Meadow. Only four stalwart volunteers turned up at the new tool store HQ, Maurice, Jennifer, Nigel and Pam, plus myself as photographer. Maurice and Nigel cleared away the hedge cuttings that had been dumped over the gate at the Seagull Lane entrance. We were pleased that Pam had brought coffee and biscuits which we had in the dry interior of the tool store.

I had a short walk around the meadow where I noted some magnificent flower heads of Hogweed which continues to flourish in spite of the weather.

Nore Barn
Trevor Carpenter visited Nore Barn yesterday and despite an unpleasant encounter with a uncontrolled dog, got this excellent photo of the regular Nore Barn colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL.


Malcolm's photos
Malcolm Phillips had a productive early afternoon walk through Brook Meadow and down to Peter Pond. First he got this excellent shot of a Jay in flight over the meadow; not an easy one to get as they are swift fliers. What a cracking bird.

Malcolm also saw the Water Rail in the river near the S-bend. Our sightings had tended to dry up while Malcolm was away!

Next he got a snap of a very late Holly Blue butterfly, one of a late summer brood. They are usually over by October at the latest, but this year (like so many recent years) is exceptional.

Finally, Malcolm got what must be the best photo of Grey Mullett that I have ever seen. They were clearly swimming near the surface on Peter Pond, but what a great shot. They look as if they are flying.

More vandalism
John Tagg came across yet more vandalism to the new flood defence construction in the north-east corner of Brook Meadow. He found another one of the heavy concrete bags had been wrenched from the wall and tossed into the river. John's photo shows two of the iron spikes that were holding the bag.

John also noted the presence of a plastic bag which he thought probably contained drugs of some sort.

Dead Dolphin
Ralph Hollins told me that a Bottle Nosed Dolphin had been washed up dead on a Langstone shore. The Dolphin was male and 2.7m in length, first sighted by a local resident at around 1pm on Wednesday 29th Oct. No obvious cause was clear as to why it stranded but the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme were contacted to collect the body in order to perform an autopsy to determine its cause of death. Here is a link to a website with a photo of the Dolphin.
See . . .

For earlier observations go to . . October 17-31