NOVEMBER 30 - 2014
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
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!
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.
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
NOVEMBER 29 - 2014
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.
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.
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.
Geese massing again
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.
there they go on their way to Southbourne
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
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.
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
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 . . .
NOVEMBER 28 - 2014
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.
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!
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.
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
balteatus and Syrphus ribesii
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
NOVEMBER 27 - 2014
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
Another juvenile bird
attracted to the stream was a Brent Goose.
There was no sign of its parents anywhere.
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
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 . . .
Peach fungus (Rhodotus
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 . . .
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.
is Malcolm Phillips's photo of the birds taken on
Peter Pond Emsworth on Nov 12
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
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.
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.
NOVEMBER 26 - 2014
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
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 . . .
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 . . .
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.
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
A single Spotted
Redshank was in the stream, along with the
Greenshank G+GL which I had not seen for a
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.
Dunlin were feeding along the shore along with
the usual masses of Wigeon with a few Teal
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.
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
For more details and a map showing the route taken by
Andres see . . . http://www.wwt.org.uk/swans/swan-news/2014/11/wwt-slimbridge-diaries/wwt-slimbridge-diaries-bewicks-swan-diary/andre-has-made-it-to-the-uk/
do well on RSPB reserves
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 . . .
NOVEMBER 25 - 2014
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
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
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!
NOVEMBER 24 - 2014
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.
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
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.
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!
queen will be overwintering and will make a new nest
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.
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!"
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.
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
"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
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
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
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 . . .
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
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 . . . http://bto-enews.org/IG4-2XFPA-3RN36S-1CTKN6-0/c.aspx
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.
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.
NOVEMBER 21 - 2014
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
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.
NOVEMBER 20 - 2014
clearing the Osier cuttings on 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
Heliotrope is in flower (the first of the winter)
on the main river path and on the south west corner of
is also still in flower and smelling sweet as
demonstrated by Jennifer
Fescue is one of the grasses showing spikelets on
the north meadow
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
Phillips went down Thorney again today. He got nice
photos of both Great Crested Grebe on the deeps and
Little Grebe on Emsworth Marina.
NOVEMBER 19 - 2014
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.
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.
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 . . .
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
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
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
Milinets-Raby went down to the Warblington shore as
the tide started to drop (11:35am to 1:20pm).
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
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
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.
NOVEMBER 18 - 2014
at Nore Barn
west across the western mudflats with Black-tailed
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Phillips had a walk round the Brook Meadow where he
got a cracking photo of a Kestrel hovering.
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.
NOVEMBER 17 - 2014
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
- 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.
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?
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!
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.
NOVEMBER 16 - 2014
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!!
earlier observations go to . . November