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A community web site dedicated to the observation, recording
and protection of the wildlife of the Emsworth area

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

for November 16-30, 2014
in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Kingfisher photos
We rarely see Kingfishers in the summer, but come winter and they are seemingly everywhere, over the meadow, on the river, over millpond and down by the marina. I get daily reports from people delighted to have seen a blue flash as this iconic bird flew swiftly past. But rarely is one able to get a good view of one perched and even more rarely get a photo of one. However, today the redoubtable Malcolm Phillips did just this at Peter Pond Emsworth. Malcolm's first shot shows a female Kingfisher (with red lower mandible) perched on the table in the reedbeds at the northern end of Peter Pond.

If that was not good enough, Malcolm went one step further and got a shot of the bird as it flew off over the pond in a typically fast straight flight. What a cracker!

Little Egret exploring
A Little Egret is a fairly common bird to see on the river on Brook Meadow, but this morning I saw one doing something quite unusual in my experience. It was wading through the long and very gloomy tunnel beneath the railway in the north-east corner of the meadow. The egret actually went straight through the tunnel into the garden of Constant Springs, giving the impression of having done this journey many times before. Its first time must have been a bit scary? Sorry, no photo as the tunnel was too dark.
Red Admiral
David Gillett had this beauty on his Emsworth house in warm sunshine this afternoon. Red Admirals are fast becoming an all-the-year-round butterfly, to be seen in every month of the year. Pity David's sighting was not tomorrow!


Emsworth Harbour (west)
13:30 - 14:30 - Tide rising to high water in about 2-3 hours. 4 Ringed Plover were on the mudflats to the west of the Emsworth Sailing Club building, in the same area that I saw just one on Nov 27. 6 Shelduck were in the channel; I have not seen them for a while. There was no sign of Knot or Pintail.
At Nore Barn the Spotted Redshank was in the stream with 2 juvenile Black-tailed Godwits and a Little Egret, but no Greenshank. I just can't resist this bird, even after 11 years.

The Black-tailed Godwits were not easy to count as they were well spread out over the western mudflats. I counted 40 at the end of Kings Road and another 76 near to Nore Barn, making a grand total of 116. As the tide came in many of the godwits moved into the Nore Barn channel where they fed in the low sun.

I found three of our regular colour-ringed godwits: G+WR, WO+LW flag and ROL+RLR. There was also a new colour-ringed bird which I puzzled over. All the rings were blue or green (except for the red marker on the left leg), but it was very difficult to make out which was which in the bright sun. I was inclined to go for G+BG which is regular in Emsworth. But my best guess based on observations at the time and photos was for B+BG which I have not recorded before. I shall need to check this combination with Pete Potts as it might be a new ringing. You will appreciate the problem from this photo.

Late bumblebee
Ralph Hollins thinks the bumblebee that I saw yesterday feeding on Meadowsweet on Brook Meadow was not, as I suggested, Bombus pascuorum because that has a prominent orangey-brown look and no distinct yellow bands. In contrast, my photo showed a black bee with two distinct yellow bands (and a hint of a different coloured tail) which Ralph thinks is Bombus pratorum. The life history of this Bumblebee seems to support Ralph as young B. pratorum queens prefer to set up a new nest rather than go into hibernation in a mild winter. Hence their presence on Brook Meadow in late November. Here is my photo again.

Brent Geese massing again
Today, Malcolm Phillips captured the Brent Geese massing again in Emsworth Harbour prior to their departure to the fields of Southbourne. A truly magnificent spectacle, as I witnessed yesterday.

and there they go on their way to Southbourne

Somewhat less than magnificent were the slugs that Graham Petrie uncovered while planting some onions in his garden today. He thinks they might be Hedgehog Slug, Common Garden Slug and a Yellow Slug. Any other offers welcome!

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby reports: "I had a quick visit to the Warblington shore via Langstone Mill Pond (9:25am to 11:05am - sunshine causing poor viewing conditions - Very low tide).
The highlights were: Langstone Mill Pond: No sign of the Wigeon? Chiffchaff heard calling for five minutes, but not seen, 5 Grey Heron on the salt marsh and 2 roosting on the pond. Flooded Paddock north of pond: 2 Teal, 11 Moorhen.
Pook Lane: Winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper again found after lots of searching with about 20 Dunlin. 38 Teal, 437 Brent Geese on the mud after being flushed from the fields by a dog, 316 Knot (best count), 300+ Dunlin, 2 Greenshank (RG//-+YY//-), 69 Black-tailed Godwit (OL//-+LR//- and B//R+GO//-), 5 male and 7 female Red Breasted Merganser, 9 Shelduck.

Brian's note on colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits: B+GO previously seen twice in Emsworth this season: 10-Nov-14, 26-Nov-14. OL+LR is an Iceland ringed bird which I have no records for.

Little Owl in the same tree as yesterday, which also contained 2 mating Stock Doves - that did it four times!!! - spring has arrived early!!!).

A very late Red Admiral butterfly seen over the fields

Pulborough Brooks
Heather Mills reports on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. They saw several butterflies including this stunning male Brimstone. Full report is on the Havant Wildlife Group page at . . .


Brent Geese galore
I walked round Emsworth Millpond this morning and got to the eastern seawall by 10.30am where I saw a huge number of Brent Geese in the eastern harbour. I don't recall having seen this many here before. I tried counting and reached 1,200 when they all started to move. I would estimate there was at least 1,500 in total. They took off in small flocks of 200 or so and flew inland over the houses, heading, I am sure, for the large fields (of winter wheat?) at Southbourne. They did not fly direct, but skeins of them swirled around in the sky before gradually moving in the Southbourne direction. What a great spectacle! I should say there were not more than 200 left in the harbour when I left. I have seen this happen in previous years and the Southbourne fields are certainly a favourite feeding destination for the Brents.

Great Black-backed Gull returns
A couple of days ago (Nov 25) I saw a Great Black-backed Gull in the eastern Emsworth harbour and wondered at the time if it could have been one of the pair that have nested on Slipper Millpond for the past three years. Well, this morning, there was a Great Black-backed Gull back on Slipper Millpond, most likely one of the nesting pair from previous years. It was present for about 20 mins as I walked round the pond, swimming quite close to the centre raft which was occupied by 5 Cormorants and a some Black-headed Gulls. It did not actually board the raft, but was clearly interested in it. The gull eventually flew off towards the harbour. My guess is that the Great Black-backed Gulls will be nesting on Slipper Millpond again this year - if allowed!

Cormorants are always a prominent feature on the centre raft of Slipper Millpond at this time of the year. Charlie Annalls was inspired by my recent blogs to come over to Emsworth to see them yesterday. She hadn't realised the significance of the pale colouring of the juveniles and was also pleased to see adult birds preening and stretching their wings. Here is one of Charlie's photos showing an adult Cormorant stretching its wings, showing well the yellow colouring at the base of the lower mandible. I don't know the significance of the white patches in the wings, but the breeding Cormorant will have distinctive white thigh patches in the spring.

Here is a shot I got today of two juvenile Cormorants showing off their pale underparts.

Brook Meadow
I walked home via Brook Meadow where I got distracted by the variety of insects feeding on the flowers of Hogweed, Wild Angelica and Meadowsweet. I think all these insects are relatively common late in the year. Any corrections welcome.

Eristalis tenax

Episyrphus balteatus and Syrphus ribesii

Scathophaga stercoraria

Possibly Bombus pascuorum

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley had some interesting birds on the farm today, including a Grey Wagtail, which he says has been around the pond for a while, a Kestrel and this handsome Meadow Pipit.

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby reports from Warblington: "Late this morning, I had a walk along the shore from the Langstone Mill Pond to Conigar Pont and back (10:15am to 12:30pm). The highlights were as follows: 3 Sandwich Tern on the mud off the mill, Greenshank (G//R+BRtag//-) in the mill pond outflow, 1 Kingfisher briefly perched on the bow of a boat in the outflow, before dashing off to the pond.
On the Pond: 4 roosting Grey Heron, 1 juvenile Wigeon, No sign of the Ringed Teal. Flooded horse paddock north of the pond: 37 Teal, 18 Moorhen.
Off Pook Lane: 61 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 13 Grey Plover, 267 Dunlin.
After many sweeps, I eventually found a winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper foraging in the deep gullies (A dreadful digiphone scope record photo attached, against the light). It was with about a dozen Dunlin, before being swamped with the rising tide and the horde of Dunlin. Some good flight views as well.

9 Teal, 17 Shelduck, 25 Brent Geese, 64 Lapwing, 346 Golden Plover, 2 Greenshank (one with rings G//R+BB//-), 238 Knot (best count so far - left early to roost towards Thorney).
Warblington fields: 573 Brent Geese spread over three fields, with 4 Curlew and 6 Oystercatchers, And calling frequently and seen perched in a tree was a Little Owl (first I have seen here, after loads of looking!!!).
Conigar Point: 51 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 172 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plover, 1 Ringed Plover, 2 Wigeon, 12 Shelduck, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 male Goldeneye.

Tony Wootton had a good photographic session at Nutbourne this morning. He sent me a load of photos from which I have selected a couple. First and foremost Tony counted a maximum of 22 Avocets of which he got several dramatic shots of them in flight including this one.

Tony also took a number of snaps of what he called "a pair of amorous or aggressive Redshank". They looked more aggressive to me, but here is one shot of the two of them flying off.


Emsworth Harbour
I started this morning's birdwatching from the millpond seawall looking over the eastern harbour at about 10:30 with the tide rising to high water in 4 hours.
I was surprised to find at least four juvenile Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the low water channel near the quay. They were doing a bit of chasing and squabbling, rather like the ones I saw at Nore Barn yesterday. Here is one of them.

A Little Egret was fishing at a water outfall on the north side of the town channel near the quay. This is a regular feeding spot for the egret and today it was being carefully watched by a Black-headed Gull, no doubt hoping to catch some morsels that the egret missed.

Moving round to the western harbour I spotted my first Ringed Plover of the winter in Emsworth, just one sitting alone on a vast mudflat. There was no sign of the Knot that Ralph Hollins saw here yesterday.
At Nore Barn the tide was coming in quickly. As expected, a good flock of around 60 Black-tailed Godwits were gathered along the shore line. In addition seven more mostly juvenile godwits were in the stream feeding along with the resident Spotted Redshank, Little Egret and a Grey Plover. I could not check them all, but most appeared to be juveniles. It looks as if the godwits have had a good breeding season. I shall need to check with Pete Potts.

Another juvenile bird attracted to the stream was a Brent Goose. There was no sign of its parents anywhere.

Selangor Path
This is the path that runs from the main Havant Road opposite the junction with Selangor Avenue down to Nore Barn Woods. I noticed today there was a box at the northern entrance with leaflets encouraging people to help in the conservation of this path. Cycling down the path I saw there had already been a good deal of clearance of vegetation from the ditch running beside the path and piles of gravel had been dumped presumably for repairing the path. But note, the path remains badly flooded about half way down and boots are necessary.
It sounds a jolly good idea to get local people involved in looking after their environment, though I am not too keen on what the leaflet says about planting 'wild flowers'. From what I recall there are lots of interesting resident wild plants already present along the path and it would be a pity rush in and to spoil it. As with all conservation projects the first thing is to establish what is there already with a proper survey. There is an e-mail address to contact if you would like to help in this work . . .

Wrinkled Peach fungus (Rhodotus palmatus)
I had a look at this attractive fungus with pink-orange caps that Ralph Hollins mentioned in his wildlife diary for yesterday. The fungi are growing on a dead log just inside the main metal gate leading to the Warblington underpass coming from Emsworth. They are fairly easy to find. Its status is infrequent in Britain and only where dead Elm is found, so that presumably is a dead Elm log. This area is one of the Emsworth conservation waysides.

Ralph has found specimens of this fungus at three new sites this autumn. See his web site for Wed Nov 26 for full details . . .

Water Rail
Malcolm Phillips was pleased to see the elusive Water Rail again near the S-bend on the river on Brook Meadow and got a reasonable photo of the bird having a good swim. The Water Rail has been present in this area for two months. Last year we had one until late December.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby reports: "I visited the Langstone Mill Pond this lunchtime as the tide rushed in (Noon to 1:45pm). Again, I was just a little late for the Knot and Bar-tailed Godwits - if of course they are still feeding along this stretch at low tide? The highlights were as follows:
2 Sandwich Tern on the mud, 605 Dunlin, 63 Lapwing, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 62 Black-tailed Godwits (two with colour rings G//R+YY//- and R//R+RG//-), 10 Greenshank (up to their bellies in water, so lucky to get one ring details RG//-+YY//-), 12 Grey Plover, 138 Golden Plover.
On the flat, ripple less water: 20 Red Breasted Merganser, 2 Great Crested Grebes, A pair of Shoveler, 18 Wigeon, 20 Shelduck, 12 Brent Geese (probably on the field again).
On the pond: 1 juvenile Wigeon, still coming to bread, 1 Kingfisher darting about, 2 male Ringed Teal (obviously the Emsworth duo on a little holiday), 4 roosting Little Egrets, 5 Grey Herons roosting. In the flooded horse paddock: 46 Teal, 8 Moorhen.

Here is Malcolm Phillips's photo of the birds taken on Peter Pond Emsworth on Nov 12

Brian's note on colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits
G+YY - was ringed on Farlington Marshes as an adult on 14-Sep-05. It has been seen mainly around Langstone and Farlington with a couple of sightings in Emsworth in Nov 2005. Peter's last sighting was at Warblington on 15-Oct-14.
R+RG - Personally, I have no records for this bird.


Nore Barn
10:30 - 12:00 - I was undecided what to do this morning. Shopping or birdwatching? The weather was dull threatening rain, but I choose the latter and was very pleased I did. I cycled along to the end of Warblington Road where the tide was coming in slowly. The weather was perfect for birdwatching, no sun and dead calm. In the end I spent almost 2 hours just watching birds, taking photos and chatting to people. Good job I had my coffee with me.
Black-tailed Godwits were the main interest this morning. There was a good flock of around 40 feeding on the mudflats when I arrived and numbers swelled to 74 as the tide came in and pushed most of them into the Nore Barn channel south of the woods by the time I left. I noticed a good amount of 'spurting' as the godwits ejected water from their bills during feeding in shallow water. For more information and photos on this behaviour which continues to mystify the boffins go to . . .
Spurting behaviour

I located three colour-ringed godwits. Two were 'old friends' in Emsworth, the other a relative newcomer:
Note: The notation refers to left leg then right leg. For more on colour-ringed go to . . .
Colour-ringing information

WO+LW flag - Ringed as a male chick by Pete Potts on 13 July 2010 in Iceland. This bird has been a regular in Emsworth Harbour over the years. This was my 7th sighting this season taking the grand total of sightings to 46. It is distinctive in having a small flag attach to the white ring on its right leg.

ROL+RLR - Ringed on 27-Oct-08 at Medway Estuary. Kent as an adult male. It has been regular in Emsworth Harbour since then with a total of 78 sightings. This was my 6th sighting of the present winter season.

B+GO - Just one previous sighting in Emsworth on 10-Nov-14. This is most likely a recently ringed bird. Note: There is no need to report the red ring on the lower left leg as all the Farlington ringed birds have this as a marker ring.

A single Spotted Redshank was in the stream, along with the Greenshank G+GL which I had not seen for a while.

Also, in the stream were 6 Black-tailed Godwits, at least four of which were juveniles. There was some chattering and chasing among the young birds. Here is a group of four juvenile godwits. Look out for the pale fringes on the wing coverts, shown clearly on the bird in the centre of the photo. Some marked more clearly than others.

Several hundred Dunlin were feeding along the shore along with the usual masses of Wigeon with a few Teal mixed in.

Ralph Hollins came up as I was watching the godwits and we had a chat for a while about various aspects of local wildlife, including the possible American Wigeon at Langstone Mill Pond yesterday. Several people stopped to ask about the birds and I was very pleased to answer their questions and to generally enlighten them about the wonderful range of wildlife in the harbour. Once a teacher always a teacher I suppose.

Bewick's Swan news
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reports that the first of Bewick's Swans fitted with GPS transmitters has arrived back at Welney Reserve where it was tagged. This is a male bird named Andres and it has found a partner! Andres spent his summer months in and around the Pechora Delta in Arctic Russia, a key breeding site of international importance for the species. Data from the transmitter allows us to see the bird's flight-path on its migration back to the UK. Researchers will be analysing data over the coming months to assess any possible risk to the swans from wind turbines, particularly when crossing the North Sea.
For more details and a map showing the route taken by Andres see . . .

Lapwings do well on RSPB reserves
The declining Lapwing has had a successful breeding season this year in grassland habitats managed by the RSPB. The RSPB manages a number of sites in lowland England where the species nests, such as Otmoor in Oxfordshire and Rainham Marshes on the outskirts of London. See . . .


Emsworth walk
My morning constitutional walk around the town millpond was uneventful. The resident Mute Swan pair was on the northern section of the pond along with their single cygnet. The lone swan, which is not allowed onto the pond by the residents, was in its regular spot on the grass verge of Bridgefoot Path. I found the visiting pair of Mute Swans peering over the retaining wall near the Emsworth Slipper Club building. They appear to have established themselves on the pond for the second year running, gearing themselves up for battles to come with the resident pair.

The only other observation of interest was an adult Great Black-backed Gull perched on top of one of the marker posts in the harbour. This could be one of the birds that have nested on the raft on Slipper Millpond for the past three years. My money is on them being back there again in the spring, despite the attempts of the local residents to keep them off. The Great Black-backed Gull can be distinguished from the Lesser Black-backed Gull by its pink legs; the Lesser has yellow legs.

Garden birds
The bonanza of birds in our garden continues for the third week running. It's brilliant to see them after such a long absence. They all arrive together in a burst of activity, usually at lunch time, and stay for about 30 mins. I also see them in early morning and in late afternoon. Today they included 6 Goldfinches, 2 Blue Tits and 1 Great Tit on the feeders, up to 8 Chaffinches on the ground along with Blackbird, Dunnock and Robin. The female Great Spotted Woodpecker now a daily visitor came to the fat balls and, yesterday, she was accompanied very briefly by her mate, though he did not feed.
The highlight of the day was the arrival of the local Little Egret on the back garden fence that overlooks the Westbrook Stream at about 2pm. This was the first I have seen here since February 2013, though most likely it has been here in the meantime, though I have missed it. I first saw a Little Egret on the garden fence in 1999 and have seen it every year since them, mainly in winter. My guess it is the same bird returning to a known feeding habitat. The blurry white line across the picture is our washing line which was in the way!


Little Egrets feeding
Three Little Egrets were feeding in the small stream beside the Emsworth Sailing Club building yesterday afternoon. It is not unusual to see Little Egrets feeding in this small channel, but I do not recall ever having seen three feeding there in such close proximity. There was another one in the channel near the quay and another one in the Westbrook Stream in Bridge Road car park.

As I was passing Slipper Millpond this morning, I noticed three juvenile Cormorants resting on the centre raft along with the usual collection of Black-headed Gulls. Juvenile Cormorants are easily distinguished from adults by their very pale, almost white, underparts.

Nore Barn
I got over to Nore Barn by 3pm which was about 3 hours after high water. The sea was calm, but the sun was very low in the sky and dazzling, not good for photography.
Two Spotted Redshanks were in the stream. There was a bit of chasing, probably the resident chasing the visitor, but they were still reasonably close together for most of the time I was there. Also, in the stream were two juvenile Black-tailed Godwits, one Little Egret and 8 Mute Swans. There was no sign of the Greenshank G+GL which I have not seen since Nov 14. This is somewhat surprising as the Greenshank has been such a regular companion to the resident Spotted Redshank over the years.
A flock of 44 Black-tailed Godwits arrived to feed on the emerging mudflats at about 15:30. They included two colour-ringed birds: G+WR and L+LL.
G+WR - ringed at Farlington Marshes on 10-Sept-08 as an adult male. It has been a mega regular wintering bird in Emsworth Harbour ever since. Today's sighting was the 8th this season and the 107th overall.
L+LL - has been a fairly regular wintering bird in Emsworth Harbour since Nov-09. Today's sighting was only my 3rd of this season, the last one being on Nov 14 at Nore Barn.

Ringed Plover
Tony Wootton got this rather fine image of a Ringed Plover which was flying around and finally settled on the sea wall between the Thorney Little Deeps and the deck houses. Ringed Plover are fairly common around our harbours in winter, though not in great numbers. It is always good to see one, especially that close!

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports from the Hampshire Farm open space:
"There was still some frost on the ground when I went over to the site this morning but the sun was already warming the air. Despite the heavy rain of the past couple of days the pond level was quite low but the outlet grill was partly blocked with weed so I clambered down and cleared it out. I spotted this beautiful queen Common Wasp on one of the willow saplings. I'm not a fan of wasps but they really are stunningly colourful insects. Their body patterns are almost geometric.

This queen will be overwintering and will make a new nest next spring

The hedge held a good selection of smaller birds including Greenfinches, Dunnock and Great Tits and the meadow had attracted a group of Carrion Crows.
I worked my way round to the top of the field and had yet another close encounter with a Buzzard. It dropped down over the hedge and missed me by about eight feet. The log piles had a good variety of fungi including the usual brackets, Stags Horn and two different varieties of bonnets. At the plantation boundary there were nine Pheasants, this was the first group I have seen there, usually it's just one individual. The Buzzard flew low over them but made no attempt to attack. Each of the birds ducked as it passed, it looked just like a Mexican wave!"

Bearded Tits
Malcolm Phillips went down the west side of Thorney Island again today and managed to capture images of both male and female Bearded Tits on the reedbeds at Thorney Little Deeps. Malcolm was lucky to see these birds, which can be very elusive. However, in my experience, when they show they show really well - and quite close to the path.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond this morning ahead of the incoming tide. He missed the Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit, as these leave early. The water was further in than he expected. 10am to 11:32am. The highlights were:
"274 Dunlin (very, very busy and mobile feeding as the tide rushed in), 67 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 58 Lapwing, 6 Greenshank, 1 Golden Plover, 7 Grey Plover,
4 Sandwich Tern on the mud. Armed with an empty cardboard toilet roll holder, some Velcro and a rubber band, I strapped my mobile phone to the scope to photograph this bird. There were alas no other opportunities to try this combo out!

On the water: 15 Wigeon, 10 Shelduck, 1 male Goldeneye, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 20+ Brent Geese (the rest were inland on the fields).
Flying over: One flock of 11 Skylark and on 3 other occasions the species was heard going over.
On the pond: 3 Grey Heron and 7 Little Egrets roosting. The juvenile Wigeon, getting very tame now and coming to bread. Because the bird was this close Peter managed to eliminate any chance of it being an American Wigeon!

Ralph Hollins provided the following link to a photo of an American Wigeon which he thinks looks very like the one on the millpond. What do you think? See . . .

Jays in garden
Martin Hampton had an exciting few minutes with three Jays present simultaneously in his smallish garden in Havant yesterday, hunting about for who-knows-what in a plum and an apple tree. He's only ever seen one in the garden before. I have mentioned before about this time of the year being a good for seeing Jays. Malcolm Phillips got a good photo of one in his garden on Nov 17.

The BTO have actually nominated the Jay as their bird of the month for November. Jays are at their most conspicuous during autumn and winter often collecting acorns. These will be cached away, typically in a hole that the Jay has made in the ground with its beak, and will provide the bird with food over the coming months. Numbers during the autumn and winter are influenced by acorn crops. When crops elsewhere have been poor, substantial numbers of Jays are thought to arrive here from northern and eastern Europe. For more information go to . . .

Avocets at Nutbourne
Avocets are regular winter visitors to Nutbourne and it was good to hear from Dick Senior who saw a minimum of 60 Avocets in the Bay yesterday afternoon (Nov 23). Here is a cracking shot of about that number that Tony Wootton got last winter at Nutbourne.

Song Thrush song
Ralph Hollins has heard prolonged Song Thrush song soon after sunrise from his garden in Havant starting on Nov 18. This will be the start of this songster's loud and prominent outpouring which is likely to continue right through the winter and into summer. Here is one that Malcolm Phillips captured in full song in March last year on Brook Meadow.


Active Little Egrets
A couple of days ago on the west coastal path of Farlington Marshes, Mike Wells was fascinated by the antics of two Little Egrets. He says, "They were both feeding about 50 metres apart, but if one egret got any closer to the one in photo, the featured bird would adopt this pose and make a ridiculous sound. This was a constant reaction to any slight encroachment by the other bird. It seemed a typical action of a youngster 'baiting' an adult just for the annoyance factor!"

Herring Gull
Malcolm Phillips went down to Thorney again, but says the weather was not good for photography. However, he did capture this excellent image of an adult Herring Gull perched on a post. Malcolm's photo shows well the bird's pale grey upper parts, slight flecking on the head and neck, which gulls get in winter plumage, and pink legs. This bird also has the distinctive red spot near the tip of the lower mandible, which youngsters will peck to prompt the adult to regurigate food.


Brook Meadow
I went over for the work session to take photos of the volunteers at work. A good group of 13 volunteers attended, including Pat and Graham Walsgrove. The main jobs were trimming down the Osiers which had grown very tall over the years and cutting and clearing the south part of the south meadow. It was interesting to see how the Osiers had retained their long thin leaves, in contrast to the Crack Willows which have lost all theirs.

Volunteer clearing the Osier cuttings on Brook Meadow

Winter Heliotrope is in flower (the first of the winter) on the main river path and on the south west corner of Peter Pond.

Meadowsweet is also still in flower and smelling sweet as demonstrated by Jennifer Rye.

Tall Fescue is one of the grasses showing spikelets on the north meadow

Tony's photos
Tony Wootton was at the work session this morning and he told me about a cracking photo of a Kingfisher flapping its wings and calling that he got at Blashford Lakes earlier this month. Here it is.

Tony also got this interesting shot of Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing leaping around in one of the scrapes at Titchfield Haven yesterday.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips went down Thorney again today. He got nice photos of both Great Crested Grebe on the deeps and Little Grebe on Emsworth Marina.


Emsworth swans
No change on the town millpond with the two swan pairs now in occupancy of the north and south sections. The swan family from the Slipper Millpond nest with 2 cygnets is in the harbour near the quay. The photo shows the pink legs and feet of the pen bird.

Budds Farm Ponds
I had some garden rubbish to take down to the tip this morning, so I decided to drive down Southmoor Lane to have a look at Budds Farm Ponds where I have not been for some while. It is now possible to drive onto the mound where there are convenient parking spaces. The mound gives excellent views over the ponds to the north and Langstone Harbour to the south. You get a fine view of Teal on the ponds, what beautiful birds they are. My photo does not do them justice. Other birds on the ponds included Pochard, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, and others. Walked round the mound, but nothing to see apart from two female Red-breasted Mergansers in the harbour. Tide too high.

Colour-ringed Greenshanks
There is an important local colour-ringing scheme involving Greenshanks with the result that quite a lot of the Greenshank we see in the harbour have these rings on their legs. A large amount of data has already been collected from these ringed birds about their patterns of movement on migration. For more details go to . . .

Malcolm Phillips walked down west Thorney today and saw a couple of the colour-ringed Greenshanks. The first is clearly colour-ringed Greenshank G+YB which Malcolm also photographed on 17-Sep-14 in the Slipper Mill basin.

The second Greenshank (in company with a Common Redshank) is also ringed though the rings on the right leg are not clear, though the tag is obvious. My guess is that it is G+BN tag which was recently seen at Nore Barn on 26-Oct-14 by Peter Milinets-Raby.

On his way back through Brook Meadow, Malcolm saw the Water Rail by the old gasholder. It's good to know it is still there!

Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley reports from the Hampshire Farm site: "I was going to make today's trip a quick one because of the cold wind but, as always, I was sidetracked. Firstly a Grey Wagtail caught my eye by the pond then a Peacock butterfly. The hedge provided a group of Dunnocks and two Wrens and over the top a lone Buzzard. I see that some of the fungi is returning including this strange sample, which I will stick my neck out and name as Nectria peziza, it looked as though someone had spread marmalade on the log.

Flowering plants are now thin on the ground but I came across some Wild Radish and down by the pond was a fine clump of Kidney Vetch.
The pond is now back to normal and the flow from the main inlet and the swale is down to a trickle. The water from the eastern French drain is still flowing strongly and I am beginning to wonder if there is a leak from the stream where it runs beside the drain. There's just too much water coming through to be soak-away."

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby went down to the Warblington shore as the tide started to drop (11:35am to 1:20pm).

"Waders were everywhere and coming in to the exposing mud in good numbers, then everything was up in the air swirling around. The culprit was a Peregrine. I was standing next to the pub by the Langstone Mill Pond at the time and the Peregrine was soaring and gaining height way above the Warblington shore, probably over the cemetery. It then plunged into a dive, beating its wings with purpose, then closed them against its body and controlled its dive at a 45 degree angle and came straight at my vantage point at an incredible speed. It levelled off at a metre above the mud and zoomed passed me (only 40 metres away), then banked up high without catching anything. What a long way to come for nothing. Great and exhilarating views though!
It gained height, then was attacked by a second Peregrine and they had a minute long aerial battle showing talons to one another before flying off west over the Mill Pond. As they departed, unbelievably a third Peregrine attacked the two. Then all three flew off roughly towards Southmoors. One bird was clearly an adult and one was a young bird, but I could not see what the third bird was.
Consequently there were no waders after this point and it took ages for some of them to return.
The highlights were as follows: 1 Kingfisher dashed passed the mill over the mud before returning back to the mill pond, 1 Greenshank in the outflow stream of the mill pond by the mill (colour ringed G//R+BRtag//-) with a fairly confiding Little Egret (see photo), 22 Moorhen on the flooded horse paddock with a single Stock Dove, 16 Teal on the mill pond.

Off Pook Lane: 29 Lapwing, 101 Dunlin, a nice flock of 168 Knot eventually came back, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50+ Brent Geese, In the middle was an impressive roosting flock of 468 Golden Plover.
1 Black Brant with a second bird which was clearly a hybrid with white flanks , but grey/browner mantle. These two birds were away from the main group of Brent and eventually flew off together and I watched them fly south east, heading towards the mud flats east of Hayling. Almost certainly the birds seen in Fishery Creek, Hayling on 24th Oct by Andy Johnson.
I note Trevor Carpenter was on site today, so maybe he took photos of them, for they were close to shore early on, but drifted out together with the tide.
Off Conigar Point: 19 Shelduck, 2 male and 2 female Red Breasted Merganser, 21 Black-tailed Godwit. "


Godwits at Nore Barn
I spent an hour or so at Nore Barn watching the tide fall from 11:30 to 12:30. A large flock of 128 Black-tailed Godwits was west of the stream - the largest count so far this winter in Emsworth. They were in two distinct flocks; one of 82 birds was roosting for much of the time I was there on seaweed close to the shore; the other flock of 46 was busily feeding on the mudflats.

Looking west across the western mudflats with Black-tailed Godwits

The roosting flock began to break up after about 30 mins, but I was surprised how long they remained in the same spot without moving. There were at least two colour-ringed birds in the roosting flock, but I could only see one leg clearly.
I managed to log several colour-ringed birds from the group on the mudflats. They included three Emsworth regulars W+WN, WO+LW flag and ROL+RLR. Others recorded were not regulars:

L+WR - was a new sighting this winter and only the 4th sighting in Emsworth. The last sighting was on 31-Mar-12 by Richard Somerscocks. It was also seen last winter on the Warblington shore by Peter Milinets-Raby on 03-Nov-13.

Y+LN - This was the first sighting in Emsworth since the winter of 2010-11 when it was fairly regular with 10 sightings. However, it has not been seen since 08-Feb-11, clearly preferring to feed elsewhere.

Another two colour-ringed godwits I was not sure about were Y+BN or Y+GN and LO?+OLO. These will have to wait for another time. The Spotted Redshank was feeding in the stream but there was no sign of the Greenshank while I was there.

Malcolm Phillips had a walk round the Brook Meadow where he got a cracking photo of a Kestrel hovering.

Red-breasted Mergansers
Graham Petrie was at Hayling Oysterbeds today where he saw a Kingfisher and managed to get this atmospheric shot of a flock of Red-breasted Mergansers in flight over the lagoon with Portsdown Hill in the distance.


Mute Swan confrontation
While walking round the town millpond last week I noticed that a second pair of Mute Swans, in addition to the resident pair with their cygnet, was patrolling the southern section of the pond. I wondered at the time if this could be the pair that was here last spring and produced such friction with the resident pair. Well, after witnessing a minor confrontation between the two pairs this morning, I am fairly sure that this is the case. The confrontation was not violent like some of the encounters last spring. The two cobs simply circled around each other with wings raised and heads down, at least that's all they did while I was watching. The following photo shows the intruding pair on the right, the cob with its wings raised, and the resident cob standing firm nearby, while the resident pen and her cygnet stay a safe distance away.

It will be interesting to see how the situation develops as spring approaches. I guess the resident pair will be building their 'litter nest' again by the bridge. The second pair did not nest build and left the pond in early summer.

Jays - bird of the month!
The BTO has nominated the Jay as their bird of the month. Jays are at their most conspicuous during autumn and winter and may be seen collecting acorns. These will be cached away, typically in a hole that the Jay has made in the ground with its beak, and will provide the bird with food over the coming months. Individuals may hoard as many as 3,000 acorns and use their amazing ability to recall the location. Numbers during the autumn and winter are influenced by acorn crops. When crops elsewhere have been poor, substantial numbers of Jays are thought to arrive here from northern and eastern Europe. For more information go to . . . The BTO Bird Atlas data also reveal an increase in the range of Jay since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas, with parts of Scotland and Ireland newly occupied.

Interestingly, today, Malcolm Phillips got this photo of this Jay from the window of his flat. But is the object it has in its bill an acorn?

Goose Barnacles
More about the Goose Barnacles that Joyce Sawyer found washed up on Hayling beach on Nov 11.

My son tells me they were in season when he and his family were on holiday in northern Spain this summer and are considered a real delicacy with the taste and texture not dissimilar to lobster. He says, "We ate them by the bowl full!" I don't really think I fancy them!

Sweet Violets
Regarding my discovery of flowering Sweet Violets on the grass verge of Warblington Road on Nov 13, Martin Rand commented that these very early-flowering Sweet Violets are mostly a variety called Viola odorata var. praecox (logically enough; praecox means "early"). The flowers are often of a very rich violet-purple colour. They are probably always introductions, whereas most of the other varieties except for var. sulfurea are probably native some of the time.


Garden birds
Just to say, the bonanza of birds in my garden that happened yesterday continued today with one extra species, namely 2 Greenfinches feeding on the sunflower hearts. These were the first Greenfinches I had seen in the garden since March this year. It is hard to believe that up to Year 2007 Greenfinches were the number one bird in my garden with 100% presence and a maximum of 54 at any one time in 2003. Now I hardly ever see one. Let's hope they recover soon. Here is one of the Greenfinches on the sunflower heart seed holder with a couple of Goldfinches.

One bird missing from my list was Coal Tit but Patrick Murphy had one in his North Emsworth garden yesterday and confirmed it with a nice photo.

Today, Patrick found a Goldfinch lying outside his garden window clearly having stunned itself by flying into the window. He attached a photo of the concussed bird showing its brilliant wing details. Patrick said the Goldfinch stayed there for some 25 minutes, but then flew off apparently unhurt. Good job the Sparrowhawk wasn't around looking for breakfast!!

For earlier observations go to . . November 1-15