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

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for January 1-15, 2015
in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Brook Meadow
After the storms and heavy rainfall overnight, I donned my wellies for this morning's work session on Brook Meadow. The meadow was very wet and full of puddles, but the morning was fine and the workday went ahead as scheduled. Jennifer Rye outlined the main jobs for the day, which included spreading the pile of wood chippings from the tree felling over the muddy paths. This will not be welcomed by the Siberian Chiffchaff which appears to favour the wood chips pile as a source of food.

For the full report and more photos go to . . .

I looked for Lesser Celandines but did not find any. However there was a good display of Hazel catkins on the west bank of the river south of the north bridge; some of the catkins were open.

Oaks retaining leaves
I was interested to see that leaves were still present on one of the Oak saplings that were planted on the Seagull Lane patch for the Jubilee year in 2012, actually the one that was planted by me! The other two Oaks that were planted at the same time have lost their leaves.

From the internet I learned that this persistent leaf trait is termed marcescence. There are quite a few members of Quercus family that behave this way - as well as other species, such as, Beech and Hornbeam. The Beech hedge in Bridge Road also retains most of its leaves. Wikipedia indicates some possible benefits of this behaviour in that marcescent leaves may deter grazing animals, help water balance and protect the plant from cold injury.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby dodged the showers this afternoon for a visit to the Langstone Mill Pond (12:53pm to 2:44pm - very low tide - blustery wind with bright sunny intervals).. The highlights were as followed:
Langstone Mill Pond: 5 Teal, Male & female Wigeon - showing well in the sunshine (photo attached),

All three Grey Heron nests occupied. The two nests in the Holm Oak just held a single sitting bird each and the one to the south had two birds standing on it. 30+ Goldfinch.
Female Goosander. Turned up on the pond from 2:20pm. Bathed vigorously, then stood on the tree at the very rear of the pond and preened.
Flooded Horse Paddock: 101 Teal, 16 Moorhen, 2 female Pheasant, 12 Mallard, 14 Little Egrets roosting. Kingfisher perched for quite a while on the seaweed posts in the mill outflow.
Off Pook Lane: Searched for the Curlew Sand, but could not find it. Looking at Dunlin in bright sunshine is very difficult. Over cast conditions are much better to see subtle differences. 2 Greenshank (G//R+BRtag//-) - record phone photos attached,

416 Dunlin, 27 Knot, 82 Shelduck, 10 Grey Plover, 176 Lapwing, 150+ Golden Plover, 3 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Avocet - feeding in the deep muddy gullies and only seen occasionally.

Blackcaps in garden
Patrick Murphy sent me the following photo of a female Blackcap feeding on a bird cake in his garden taken about lunchtime yesterday. Patrick says she has been coming for the last 3 days.

I too have had a regular female Blackcap in my garden, but not to the feeders. This one feeds exclusively on the droppings beneath one of the sunflower heart feeders.


A Water Vole at last
At last, after so many hours searching for a Water Vole, Malcolm Phillips finally got his reward today when he saw one at 14.48 at the north west corner by the culvert. Here are two photos of the same animal for good measure.

This was our first Water Vole sighting on Brook Meadow since 30-Sep-14 and our first of 2015. So, well done again to Malcolm. Interestingly, it was in Section A of the river where we had no sightings at all in year 2014. As can be seen from the following chart, 2014 was a poor year for Water Vole sightings on Brook Meadow, despite the valiant efforts of Malcolm Phillips and others.

For all the Water Vole sightings and photos over the years go to . . . Water Voles

Siberian Chiffchaff
Malcolm also got another photo of the Siberian Chiffchaff by the gas holder.

The Brook Meadow Choir
Mike Wells did a loop of Brook Meadow this morning and saw at least two Chiffchaffs near the gasometer, one of which was probably the Siberian. Mike sent two photos of the 'Brook Meadow Choir', who were really 'going for it!

Reed Buntings on Peter Pond
Following Tony Wootton's sighting of two males last week, Neill Foster watched a pair of Reed Buntings this morning in the reeds on the south side of the Lumley Stream footbridge to the north of Peter Pond. He saw the female first, very close, feeding on the seeds. It was soon joined by the male. They were feeding around there together for about five minutes.

Here is a photo that Malcolm Phillips got of a female Reed Bunting
in the reedbeds on Peter Pond a couple of years ago

Neill asked if Reed Buntings breed in the locality? My guess is they probably do though I have no direct evidence of it. The habitat is certainly right on Peter Pond and they are seen here in spring and summer as well as winter. The nearest place for confirmed breeding of Reed Bunting is Thorney Little Deeps (Birds of Sussex p. 581).
Overall, BTO research indicates a rapid decline in Reed Bunting numbers during the 1970s, but since then it has fluctuated without a clear trend. The initial decline placed Reed Bunting on the red list but in 2009, with evidence from BBS of some recovery in numbers, the species was moved from red to amber. There has been a widespread moderate decline across Europe since 1980.
See . . . 

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby popped briefly to the Langstone Mill Pond this morning (10:02am to 11:16am - very low tide). The highlights were as follows:
Langstone Mill Pond: male and female Wigeon, All three Grey Heron nests occupied, with birds that look like they are already sitting! 2 Teal, Kingfisher,
Flooded Horse Paddock: 8 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 109 Teal, 21 Moorhen, 4 Mallard,
Off shore off Pook Lane: 16 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 female Goldeneye, 60 Shelduck, 7 Knot, 29 Lapwing, Just 46 Dunlin, 1 Avocet (feeding for once along the waters edge). 53 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank (G//R+BRtag//-), 70+ Brent Geese.


Brook Meadow
It was a beautiful morning for a walk through the meadow. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and spring was in the air! The main birds in song were Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Great Tit and Collared Dove, though the distinctive notes of a Song Thrush could be heard wafting across from the east side of the meadow.
I met the ever-present Malcolm Phillips on the main path. He had just seen a Goldcrest in the Palmers Road copse, probably the same bird that Francis Kinsella photographed for the blog on Sunday Jan 11. Malcolm also saw two Blue Tits investigating one of the concrete nest boxes in Palmer's Road Copse and got this shot of one emerging. Spring is certainly in the air!

Nore Barn
13:30 - 14:00 - I got to Nore Barn about 3 hours to high water. A fierce SW wind was blowing which made birdwatching a little tricky. A flock of Brent Geese were feeding on the near shore, including a good number of juveniles which still have their white wings bars.

Wigeon were the most numerous of the ducks with a few Teal only. No sign of any Pintail today. A flock of around 130 Dunlin were feeding busily on the edge of the shore along with 15 Black-tailed Godwits. None of the godwits were ringed. There were several hundred more Dunlin on the fast receding mudflats to the east of Nore Barn. Two Spotted Redshanks were in the stream at about 2pm as I was leaving, one feeding in the stream the other snoozing nearby. Here is one feeding in the stream.


Firecrest in Havant
Martin Hampton saw my comment in last night's blog entry hoping for a Brook Meadow Firecrest, so he thought he would share his own sighting of one today whilst working on his group's tiny conservation area in south Havant. He thought it might be the same one he saw briefly in a Birch in his front garden earlier this week. He said, until that sighting, there had only been Goldcrests in the Hollies and Bay Trees, so perhaps it is also not too late for one or more to turn up at Brook Meadow too. Hope so.

Here is one we had on the meadow in January 2013 as a reminder

Spotted Redshank W+GY
Caroline French did a circular walk from Prinsted to Nutbourne yesterday (Jan 11) and saw a colour-ringed Spotted Redshank (W+GY) feeding in the channel at Nutbourne Bay SU776048 at about 12:00. This bird was ringed by Pete Potts in Oct 2008 and has been seen each winter since then, usually at Nutbourne and Thorney. Caroline also saw 21 Avocets roosting at the end on the shingle spit 258 Brent Geese feeding on the field (horse pasture) at Prinsted.

Here is a photo of W+GY that I took in the Nutbourne stream in 2012


Brook Meadow
Jean and I had quite a sociable morning while walking through Brook Meadow on this pleasant winter's day. We first met up with a family near the S-bend with their young son, Thomas, who was a keen birdwatcher! Thomas's mother told me they had only recently moved to Emsworth and loved my Emsworth wildlife blog! Thomas was looking for the Siberian Chiffchaff with his binoculars. It was so good to see a youngster keen on birdwatching. In fact, while we standing there a Chiffchaff was flitting around in the trees above our heads. I was not sure if it was the Siberian or a common Chiffchaff, but probably the latter as it seemed to have some yellow colouring in its plumage. The Siberian Chiffchaff is really all grey.
As we were chatting a chap came up with a smile on his face and a big camera in his hands and introduced himself as Francis Kinsella. Francis is a regular visitor to Brook Meadow and often sends me photos of birds, but we have never met before. It was good to meet up at last. Francis told me he was on Brook Meadow only yesterday and had sent me a photo of a Goldcrest taken in Palmer's Road Copse. Look at that lovely golden crest. Maybe, it is not too late for a return of the Firecrests that we had the winter before last?

Later in the morning, I met Malcolm Phillips who was stalking two Chiffchaffs along the river bank near the old gasholder in company with Barry, a birdwatcher from Waterlooville, who was making his first visit to Brook Meadow. Malcolm managed to get excellent photos of both birds which clearly are very different in plumage. I think the first is the now familiar very grey Siberian Chiffchaff of which we have many photos and the other, presumably a common Chiffchaff, which has a much browner plumage.

Update on yesterday's fungi
I had an e-mail from Jon Stokes to say that the Crack Willow I located yesterday with the bracket fungus in Palmer's Road Copse was, in fact, the same tree as that on which he found the rare Big Smokey Bracket fungus earlier in the week. However, the photo he took was of a fungus on the other side of the tree, but he confirmed that my photo was of the same species. Jon also said he had taken a sample of the fungus for close analysis, the spores were checked and discussed with the Hampshire society and the record sent in. So, that seems to confirm the presence of the Big Smokey Bracket.
Jon also noticed the Velvet Shank near the south bridge and is working on what the mystery fungus spikes might be. Stag's Horn Fungus was his first thought also but it did not feel quite right so he is doing some homework and will let me know when he more information.

Hairy Garlic
The Hairy Garlic plants were showing well at the eastern end of the Lillywhite's path wayside with fresh green leaves when I walked through this morning.

Hairy Garlic (Allium subhirsutum) is a rare garden escape, probably overlooked in recording. It is a Mediterranean species with a scattering of broad, more or less prostrate, shiny green leaves, with slightly hairy edges, from which the plant gets its common name. Its leaves give off a faintly garlic aroma when crushed. Here is a close-up of a leaf with hairy edges.

Spotted Redshank
After leaving us on Brook Meadow this this morning Francis Kinsella went over to Nore Barn where he found the Spotted Redshank performing well as usual.

Rose-ringed Parakeet
Today, Terry and Paul Lifton saw a Rose-ringed Parakeet in a tree in Westbourne Avenue, Emsworth. This is probably the same bird that was seen by Pam Phillips in the open grassland area at the northern end of Westbourne Avenue on Dec 17 and prior to that by Susan Kelly in Westbourne on Nov 30.

Tony Wootton sent me this photo of some flowering Snowdrops that he found during the Havant Wildlife Group walk in Queen Elizabeth Country Park on Saturday morning.


Rare fungus
Jon Stokes from the Tree Council had a walk around Brook Meadow earlier in the week and came across a bracket fungi 10 feet up on one of the Crack Willows in Palmer's Road Copse adjacent to the car park behind Tescos. It turned out to be Big Smokey Bracket (Bjerkandera fumosa) which is nationally scarce with only 2 previous Hampshire records.

It occurs on decayed wood of deciduous trees, most frequently on large stumps of Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) but is also known on other species including Willows (Salix) as in this case. It is described as 'Occasional but widespread, sometimes locally common, especially where Sycamore scrub is cleared. Basidiomes in active growth often smell strongly of anise'. According to my book, it differs from the more common Grey Polypore (Bjerkandera adjusta) in having cream coloured pores rather than dark grey ones.

More fungi
I went over to Brook Meadow have a look for the fungus this afternoon. I found what I thought was the Big Smokey Bracket on the large Crack Willow tree (numbered 000605) that leans over the main path through Palmer's Road Copse.

The white line on the photo indicates the site of the fungus on the tree.

However, comparing my photo with that of Jon Stokes the two are of similar fungi, but clearly not the same. I have no idea what mine is, but it looks like a bracket, though it is rather flat against the bark of the tree. I shall need to get a more precise location for the Big Smokey Bracket from Jon.

While I was in the copse I had a look at the prominent jelly like fungus growing on a couple of the small smaller trees at the eastern end of the south bridge - meadow side. I thought at first it looked like Jelly Ear though I am now fairly certain that is not correct as these fungi are far too bright orange and have gills. My guess is that they are Velvet Shank which continue fruiting through the winter.

Growing alongside the Velvet Shank fungi were a group of stick-like objects about 1 inch in length, very stiff and pointed. My very wild guess is they are old Stag's Horn Fungi.

Update on fungi
I had an e-mail from Jon Stokes (11-Jan) to say I did find the correct tree for the Big Smokey Bracket fungus in Palmer's Road Copse, but the photo he took was on the other side of the tree. He had to hold his camera up on a pole to get his picture. Both his and mine were the same fungus.
Jon was also puzzled by the spike fungi near the Velvet Shank. Stags horn was his first thought also but it did not feel right so he is doing some homework and will let me know when he more information.

Butterbur buds
I found a good number of Butterbur buds starting to push up and sprout in the area below the main seat. One can just see the first signs of the distinctive pink flower spikes inside the partially open bud in this photo. Weather permitting they will soon be emerging in all their glory.

While I was looking at the bright orange fungi I could hear the call of a Chiffchaff coming from the trees along the path to the south bridge. I could clearly see the bird high in the branches, but could not say if it was a Siberian Chiffchaff. However, the call sounded very much like that of a regular common Chiffchaff.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips was also on Brook Meadow this morning between the showers, but did not see much apart from the usual friendly Robin.

Then went down the bottom of Slipper Pond and again saw the female Kingfisher as it dived in for fish. Is this always the same female bird we are seeing over and over again?


Nore Barn
11:00 - I cycled over to Nore Barn by about 3 hours to high water. I was forced to walk along Western Parade against a strong SW wind. When I got to Nore Barn I headed for some known sheltered spots behind bushes. However, the wind appeared to slacken when I was there.
Just one Common Redshank was feeding in the upper stream when I arrived. About 70 Dunlin were feeding in their typical fast and furious manner on the mudflats, but there was no sign of any Knot. Three pairs of Pintail were swimming in the channel with the elegant males showing very well.
What was probably the regular Spotted Redshank was snoozing on the edge of the lower stream. A bit later (11:30), it was joined by a second Spotted Redshank which settled quite close by. Surprisingly, I have seen nothing of the regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL since Dec 5. I think it must have found another feeding site.


I counted 48 Black-tailed Godwits variously feeding and snoozing along the edge of the channel from the stream. I could only find one colour-ringed bird among them, the very regular, WO+LW flag, its flag standing out very clearly as an aide to identification. As the tide came in, most of the godwits moved into the channel south of the woods where I could see lots of 'spurting' behaviour as they fed in the in the shallow water. The sun was in the wrong place for photos, but this silhouette shows the bird on the right spurting water from its bill.
For more information about spurting behaviour in waders see . . .
Spurting behaviour

Garden Greenfinches
This winter I have seen definite signs of a return of Greenfinches to my garden after a fairly lengthy absence due to the illness trichomonosis which first struck the species in 2006 and, according to the BTO reduced their total population by about a fifth. When the disease started Greenfinch was my number one garden bird with 100% weekly presence throughout the year and a peak count of 54 in 2003. However, from 2007 Greenfinch sightings dropped dramatically and they became very scarce as shown in the following chart of the average weekly counts in the garden.

For the past 3 weeks I have seen up to 7 Greenfinches feeding on the sunflower heart feeders. Here is a shot of them taken this afternoon.

Though I have to admit their presence is a mixed blessing as I have to fill up the feeders on a daily basis and sunflower hearts are not cheap! But the birds love them, especially Goldfinches, which usually share the feeders with the Greenfinches.

I forgot to mention, yesterday we had a Red Admiral butterfly fluttering around in the garden - the first of 2015.

Mystery Chiffchaffs
Malcolm Phillips went round Brook Meadow this morning and saw a Chiffchaff in the south meadow. He then walked up to the cleared area south of the S-bend in the river and saw another Chiffchaff. He is not sure which of the two is the Siberian Chiffchaff. Or maybe they both are Siberian Chiffchaffs! Malcolm has put the two shots together on one image to get a better comparison. The lower one was from the south meadow and the upper one from the S-bend. Note neither of them is ringed.

Kingfisher at Gooseberry Cottage
Yesterday, Malcolm Phillips walked round Brook Meadow but did not see a lot apart from water. The river was running high and flooding its banks in Palmer's Road Copse. Malcolm also got yet another snap of our now very familiar female Kingfisher perched as usual on the decking on Gooseberry Cottage.

Early buttercup
Chris Oakley sent me this very welcome picture of an early Buttercup which his wife Ann took in Warblington Road. In such a mild winter one never knows what might suddenly spring up, as if it were spring.

Mystery moth
Caroline French I came across a well-camouflaged moth on the wall at Emsworth railway station on 6th Jan. She has not been able to identify it and wonders if anyone else knows what it is. My very very tentative guess is an Eggar Moth.

Ralph Hollins is pretty sure Caroline's moth is a male December Moth. He says, "My guess that it is a male is based on the broad antennae which males depend on to track down females by the pheremones they give off. My guess as to the name is based on the December Moth being one of the most numerous species at this time of year and by comparing Brian's photo with photos on the UK and Hants Moths websites. Note that both these websites give you a set of images to look at so if the main image presented when you visit the site is not convincing you can replace it with others - with UK Moths you click the smaller images to select them, with Hants Moths you click the left or right arrows below the main image".
See . . . . . . and . . .

Barry Collins also confirmed the moth's identity as December Moth.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to the Langstone Mill Pond this morning ahead of an incoming tide (10:14am to 11:40am). The highlights were as follows:
Flooded Horse paddock: 9 Little Egret roosting, 1 Grey Heron roosting, 2 Grey Heron collecting sticks in far corner of the paddock - more later. 119 Teal. 29 Moorhen. 15 Mallard. 1 Skylark over.
Langstone Mill Pond: Yes, 2 Grey Heron collecting sticks and flying to the trees with them - watched this happen on five occasions. So, went back to the pond and discovered 3 pairs of Grey Heron in the same three nest sites as last year. The pair halfway down the Holm Oak on the left were well ahead of the other two pairs with lots of displaying and stick fiddling as if there may even be eggs!! The other two pairs were just collecting sticks and re-arranging them. Spring is certainly in the air!
On the pond at the back were 2 further roosting Grey Herons (so 9 in total), Male and female Wigeon (though the male was not to be seen towards mid-day).
Off shore, towards Pook Lane: 6 Greenshank (RG//-+YY//- and G//R+BRtag//- and G//R+BB//-), 5 Knot, 181 Dunlin (no sign of the Curlew Sandpiper, though the waders left very early before the tide had pushed in). 5 Grey Plover, 21 Golden Plover, 66 Shelduck, 29 Black-tailed Godwit, Adult winter Med Gull, 85 Lapwing.
The same Kingfisher seen three times dashing over pond, over the mud flats and on the posts by the old mill (this bird has a chunk missing out of its wing, two or three feathers).
Out on the channel: 2 female Goldeneye, 5 Red-breasted Merganser.


Local news
The only report I had today was from Tony Wootton. He had a mooch around the local area this afternoon. Starting with Brook Meadow, he met Malcolm Phillips who has not seen the Siberian Chiffchaff since Thursday. Could it have left?
Tony watched a Kingfisher fly very high from over the railway and then up Seagull Lane. Probably going towards my back garden, he though, but I was not there to see it sadly. Kingfishers are everywhere this winter.
He met another walker who had a Goldcrest by the little bridge over the Lumley Stream. Finally, Tony saw two male Reed Buntings very close to the Kingfisher table on Peter Pond. Their head markings were showing nicely.


Brook Meadow
I had a walk round the meadow this morning. I met Brian Lawrence and we walked down the main river path together, stopping from time to time to play a recording of a Siberian Chiffchaff song on my digital recorder. There was no response from any Chiffchaff, though it did attract a Robin into song and also a Blue Tit which gave a brief burst of its sweet song, the first I have heard this winter.
We met Malcolm Phillips who had been on the meadow for some time already, but had seen little apart from Long-tailed Tits and Song Thrush. The three of us waited on the south bridge for something to happen, but nothing did.

Kingfisher on Peter Pond
Brian and I walked over to Gooseberry Cottage, but there was no sign of the Kingfisher which Malcolm photographed yesterday. Walking back down Lumley Road I spotted a Kingfisher flying fast and low over Peter Pond, probably coming from its regular perching table in the reeds. Yesterday, Malcolm Phillips got this great action photo of the female Kingfisher flying back to it perch on the table after fishing in the pond. Always the female!

Wintering Coot in Emsworth Harbour
I walked down to the main harbour at the bottom of South Street from where I could see a mass of Coot bobbing up and down on the choppy waves. This is the first of the winter gathering that I have seen this season. I counted a total of 104 Coot in the harbour, some near the quay, but most near the east shore. There was another 18 on the town millpond and a few more on Slipper Millpond, so the wintering population is building up.

Ringing records
The BTO website has published a page summarising all recoveries of ringed birds that have moved to or from Hampshire. The accompanying map shows all records of birds ringed in Hampshire and recovered abroad (purple) and birds ringed abroad and recovered in Hampshire (orange) from 2006-13.
For each species a table then summarises the number of birds that have moved between different counties of Britain and Ireland and other countries. First are listed the number of birds ringed elsewhere in Britain and Ireland and found in Hampshire then the number of birds ringed in Hampshire and found in another county in Britain or Ireland. In the next columns are listed the number of birds ringed in a country abroad and found in Hampshire and the number of birds ringed in Hampshire and found in other countries abroad. See . . .


Nore Barn
It was quite a nice afternoon, so I got the bike out to deliver the Brook Meadow printed newsletters in the Beach Road area. I called in at Nore Barn where I haven't been for almost 3 weeks. I have missed it and so it was good to get back there to see some of my feathered friends again. The tide was falling and the old faithful Spotted Redshank was feeding in the stream along with a large flock of 18 Mute Swans. However, the very bright sun made photography difficult.

I could see the Black-tailed Godwits assembling on the emerging mudflats in the Nore Barn channel. Checking for colour-rings was not easy as I did not have my scope and the sun was very low and bright for photography. However, I managed to find three colour-ringed birds, all regulars at Nore Barn this winter: G+WR, B+GO and WO+LW flag. By the time I left I counted a total of 82 Black-tailed Godwits. Here are just a few of them in the winter sunshine.

Ralph Hollins came up on his bike from the Warblington direction, having seen the female Goosander on Langstone Mill Pond reported yesterday by Peter Milinets-Raby.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby took a walk along past the Langstone Mill Pond this morning as the tide pushed in and before the drizzle moved in (9:15am to 11:20am). The highlights were as follows:
Off shore from the pond: A single Avocet asleep and when the tide pushed in, it flew to the "island" in the middle of the channel and fell sleep again!! 33 Black-tailed Godwit. 220+ Brent Geese. 73 Shelduck. 7 Grey Plover. 190+ Dunlin. Single Turnstone. 63 Lapwing. 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. 25 Golden Plover with a flock of 65+ east down the channel.
Winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper - again good views, but vanished after 15 minutes.

Peter poses a puzzle in this photo. Find the Curlew Sandpiper among the Dunlin.
My guess is that it is the isolated bird on the right

8 Greenshank (RG//-+YY//- and G//R+BRtag//-). 22 Red Breasted Merganser. 4 female Goldeneye. 17 Wigeon. 2 male and 3 female Pintail off Conigar Point, then flew off and headed south. Kingfisher perched on the wreck by the old mill, then later seen perched briefly on the trees at the edge of the pond.
Langstone Mill Pond: Male and female Wigeon together at the rear of the pond. Grey Heron roosting. Flock of 25+ Goldfinch milling about all morning. Cetti's Warbler heard singing twice from the reed bed by the flooded horse paddock.
Met up with Ralph Hollins and his arrival brought that extra bit of luck. Initially there was no sign of the Goosander, but as the tide pushed in to its highest level, the female Goosander appeared at the rear of the pond. It was very busy having a thorough wash, then moved to the "beam/pipe" at the rear of the island where it preened until the drizzle forced me to leave.

Flooded horse paddock: The 55 Teal initially on the last bits of exposed mud, moved to the paddock as the tide pushed in to swell numbers to 96 Teal with 7 Moorhen.


Brook Meadow
I was determined to get out for a while this morning despite the chest infection telling me to stay in the warm. I was pleased I did. It was so good to hear bird song with both Robin and Great Tit singing well and I also heard a Song Thrush singing from the Lumley area.
I had a look at the bramble hedge around Gooseberry Cottage that had been cut during the special 'community' workday yesterday. I was surprised to find about 10 one metre gaps in the hedge giving clear access through to the garden. Apparently, this work has something to do with controlling the flood risk to the cottage, but I don't understand how.
I happened to meet up with my friend from the Havant Wildlife Group Ros Norton who was hoping to catch sight of our Siberian Chiffchaff. While we were talking, up came the man who first discovered the bird, Malcolm Phillips. However, he had not seen Siberian Chiffchaff either today, but pointed out the pile of wood chippings alongside the main river path as a favourite spot for the bird.
For recordings of the Siberian Chiffchaff song go to . . .

Malcolm showed us yet more photos of a female Kingfisher, probably the same one that Malcolm has been catching on Peter Pond and Dolphin Quay. This one was perched on a flower pot on the decking of Gooseberry Cottage overlooking the garden pond. Verity Ingram had tipped him off that this was a favoured place for the Kingfisher to fish. What cracking photos!

Here is the Kingfisher with a fish caught from the garden pond

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby went down to the Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon (1pm to 2:25pm - high tide mostly, then the last twenty minutes the tide started to go out). The highlights were:
Langstone Mill Pond: Female Wigeon on her own when I first walked passed, then at the end of the visit she was asleep at the back of the pond with the male next to her. A gun shot went off on the north Hayling shore and these two ducks were the only ones that flinched and actually looked alarmed - Wild!! Chiffchaff calling. 3 Grey Heron roosting. Stock Dove.
A female Goosander discovered at the very rear of the pond. Very agitated with the Mallard and consequently after only a few minutes it flew off and landed out in the channel where I watched it feeding on its own with 15 Red Breasted Mergansers nearby.

Horse paddocks: 14 Teal. Grey Heron (probably responsible for dislodging the Teal). 20 Moorhen.
On the high tide waters: 50 Teal. 2 female Goldeneye. 42 Shelduck with 10 off Conigar Point.

On the Castle Farm fields were 354 Brent Geese.
As the tide turned, a flock of 60+ Bar-tailed Godwits flew up the channel with 200+ Dunlin. In flew 10+ Dunlin, 20+ Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 55+ Golden Plover, and 3 Greenshank (one with rings - G//R+GR//-).

Farlington Marshes
Graham Petrie had a good time at Farlington Marshes today with Stonechats (M+F), Marsh Harrier, Red-breasted Merganser, a raft of 24 Great Crested Grebe, a group of 8 Snipe, and last but not least approx. 65 Avocets on the lake. Here is Graham's digiscoped pic of a few of them.

A species count of 43 today, but some really good numbers. Unfortunately, no Spoonbill or Bewick's Swans, both of which have been reported recently. Graham did manage to see a group of 40 Bewick's in Burpham, West Sussex last week.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips was present on the meadow this morning to take photos of a special workday which I was not able to get to. He noted a large group of workers cutting away the brambles around Goosebury Cottage so that the bank can be checked for leaks. This was a joint community effort by the Brook Meadow Conservation Group and Lumley residents along with volunteers from the company Opus who are the firm involved in the Flood action initiative in the Lumley area. The aim is to see how Gooseberry Cottage which was flooded twice in last winter's floods can be better protected. Today's objective was to examine the bund which surrounds the cottage on the Meadow side by making one meter wide clearance strips through the brambles at 10 meter intervals.

While he was on the meadow Malcolm got a photo of a very fine Song Thrush thrusting out its well marked chest.

Langstone shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning before sunrise to check out the shore beside Langstone Mill Pond (7:52am to 9:50am - tide slowly pushing in to high tide at 10:30am - grey overcast morning with no wind, so perfect for birding. The highlights were as follows:
Langstone Mill Pond: Male and female Wigeon. Male present at first light, but later when I walked passed, the female was on her own. 2 Grey Heron roosting when the tide pushed in. Stock Dove.
Flooded horse paddock: An impressive count of 92 Teal. 13 Moorhen.
Stream outflow by old mill: Kingfisher sat on one of the seaweed covered posts. Little Egret. Greenshank (usual colour ring bird - G//R+BRtag//-).
Off shore (towards Wade Lane footpath entrance): 483 Brent Geese. 870+ Dunlin (70% of them surprisingly departed early towards Langstone Harbour when there were still huge areas of mud exposed). In the remaining small flock of Dunlin, the winter plumage Curlew Sandpiper was picked up and for twenty minutes gave good views before flying off on its own across the channel before turning towards Langstone Harbour/Oysterbeds direction.
76 Shelduck. 2 Greenshank, eventually departed towards Thorney to roost. 1 Avocet (spent the entire time fast asleep - see photo. It then flew across to the "island" in the middle of the channel where it went back to sleep).

48 Golden Plover on the salt marsh and a flock of 140+ over north Hayling shore. 8 Knot. 3 Black-tailed Godwit. 55 Lapwing. 1 Turnstone (so unusual here). 22 Wigeon. 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit flock transferring from a submerging sandbar to the "island" to roost. A female Goosander seen briefly in flight heading west down the channel. 17 Red Breasted Merganser (8 males busy displaying).


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips tried to find you something different in the wind and rain this morning and he successed. He saw the regular Siberian Chiffchaff on the wood chips again, but this is getting to be rather old hat by now. If you have not caught up with it look out for it on the pile of wood chippings just south of the S-bend. This seems to be its favourite place now.

Malcolm's most interesting sighting of the morning was a small vole that he photographed in the vegetation opposite the deep water sign in Palmer's Road Copse. In view of the time of the year, I don't think it could be a young Water Vole. Its chubby appearance suggests either Bank Vole or Field Vole. My hunch is Bank Vole from its brownish colouring, though I have just shown them to my two granddaughters and they thought it looked more like a Field Vole when compared with the pictures in the Reader's Digest Guide to Animals of Britain! Anyway, here are Malcolm's two photos of the same animal if anyone else can throw some light on the ID.
Ralph Hollins's vote is for Bank Vole which he says is usually a brighter brown colour where the Field Vole is usually Greyer. Additionally, the Wildabout Britain character who calls himself Dogghound says that the ears of the Bank Vole stick out where those of the Field Vole are usually hidden in its fur - see

PS I myself am still out of action on the wildlife watching front, apart from garden watching and the occasional excursion to the millpond. This is partly due to my ongoing chest infection and partly due to the fact that Jean and I have been looking after two of our granddaughters for the past 4 days (6 and 8 years).


Siberian Chiffchaff
After about six hours of creeping around Brook Meadow today, Mike Wells finally spotted the Siberian Chiffchaff on the pile of wood chippings opposite where the trees have been cut down below the S-bend. Perseverance certainly pays off. Mike sent me two photos of the same bird, one taken in the shade and the other in bright sunlight. Good to compare plumages in different lights.

Malcolm Phillips also captured the Siberian Chiffchaff on the pile of wood chippings - that is clearly a good habitat to look out for it. Malcolm also included a photo of a common Chiffchaff for comparison. The Siberian Chiffchaff has now been on Brook Meadow for at least 3 weeks. Our first sighting was on Dec 11.

Malcolm Phillips had a great day for Kingfishers mostly around Peter Pond and Slipper Millpond. Here is a nice image that Malcolm got on a female sitting on the wall of the Lord Raglan pub overlooking Dolphin Lake.

Malcolm also got some dramatic photos of a Kingfisher (also female and probably the same bird) diving from the table at the north of Peter Pond and catching a fish and brining it back to the table.

From there Malcolm went over to the south bridge on Brook Meadow from where he stood with Brian Lawrence and watched another Kingfisher dive in and out of the river at least 20 times, amazing. This is clearly becoming the Kingfisher winter.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips says that with a cold coming he has had to join me on the hot lemon, honey and brandy brigade. However, he is a tough fellow and was determined to get out in the fresh air this morning. He went round Brook Meadow as usual and was rewarded with a couple of cracking birds with his trusty camera. First was a Goldcrest just south of the north bridge showing its golden crest to very good effect. Interestingly, Peter Milinets-Raby recorded three Goldcrests on the meadow during his New Year's Day birdwatch this morning - see below.

Next, in Palmer's Road Copse, he got a very grey looking Chiffchaff, which could well be the Siberian Chiffchaff that Malcolm has seen on many occasions in this location. The Siberian Chiffchaff was our star bird of last year, and looks likely to be our star bird of this new year as well.

Peter's New Year's Day List
Peter Milinets-Raby was out early and despite the very windy conditions (and a little bit of drizzle at times) persevered with his usual Jan 1st Day List (7:30am to 1:20pm).
Armed with lots of local knowledge he reached a very good total of 76 species for the day. If only the weather was a little better and he thought he could have clocked a few more! The highlights were as follows:
Bidbury Mead: Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Linnet, Sparrowhawk.
Hermitage Stream (Barncroft Road): Green Sandpiper, 2 Grey Wagtails.
Leigh Park shopping centre: Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Brook Meadow: Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest.
Nore Barn (Just as the tide was dropping): 2 Spotted Redshank in the stream with 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 40+ Wigeon and 80+ Teal. 1 male 2 female Pintail.
Off Beacon Square: 40+ Knot, 1 Ringed Plover.
Emsworth Mill Pond Sea Wall: 1 Greenshank (G//R+BNtag//-), Red Breasted Merganser male on pond, 1 Turnstone, 13 Gadwall, 6 Little Grebes, Another 40+ Knot, Great Black-backed Gull.
Warblington (Off Pook Lane): 1 Avocet (first I have seen here and undoubtedly the bird of the day), 1 Curlew Sandpiper in with 350+ Dunlin, 4 Pintail, 72 Shelduck, 2 Stock Dove, Female Goldeneye, Female Bullfinch along the lane.
Budds Farm: 12+ Shoveler, 22+ Tufted Duck, 3 male Pochard, Water Rail (heard), Reed Bunting (heard).

For earlier observations go to . . . December 16-31 - 2014