FEBRUARY 28 - 2015
nothing unusual to hear a Robin singing at this time
of the year. However, one does not often see one
singing so lustily as was the chap that Malcolm
Phillips captured in Palmer's Road Copse today. What a
voice it must have. Malcolm also got a Chiffchaff, but
I thought the Robin was much better!
John Bogle had
his first frog spawn of the year. He writes, "I saw my
first frogs in our garden pond in mid-January before
it turned cold and sent them back into hibernation.
This afternoon I checked out my regular frogspawn
hotspot in Southleigh forest with no success, but
decided to have a wander of some of the paths I can
never find in the summer when everything is grown up.
I stumbled upon barely a puddle where I counted over
50 clumps of spawn. There was almost more spawn than
water in that puddle! A sign that spring is slowly but
surely on it's way!"
This was not actually
the first local frog spawn of the year as David Drew
had dozens of frogs cavorting in his Horndean garden
pond on Feb 16th and on Feb 20th there was one dollop
of spawn. Reported on John Goodspeed's Nature Notes .
. . http://www.havantnature.net/Forms/Feb%2022%20NN.pdf
and Thomas Irons enjoyed another great visit to
Baffins Pond today. They were hoping to see the
ducklings that Eric Eddles spotted last week, but did
not find them. However, they saw lots of other birds
and young Thomas made friends with a Feral Pigeon.
got this great photo of a Short-eared Owl just north
of Arundel yesterday.
Tony sent another
photo to put the first in context. Phew, that was a
reports on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife
Go to . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2015.htm
FEBRUARY 27 - 2015
difference a day makes. After yesterday's rain, the
weather this morning was fine and warm, completely
blue sky and definitely a touch of spring in the air.
Walking round the town millpond I found the two
Mute Swan cobs circling round each other with
wings raised while their mates remained at a safe
distance. However, there was no physical conflict
while I was watching.
lots more Brent Geese in the harbour than yesterday
with a good 300 or so on the mudflats. They all went
up as I was passing in a cacophony of 'krunking'.
The regular colour-ringed Greenshank RG+BY tag
was feeding in the low water channel near the quay
with 2 Common Redshank. This was the 6th sighting of
this bird in Emsworth Harbour this winter season.
Also, in the channel
was a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, probably the same
one that was here yesterday.
As I was
walking down Queen Street towards the Hermitage
Millponds I was stopped in my tracks by what sounded
like repeated loud bird calls coming from the vicinity
of one of the houses. At first I thought it might have
been a Rose-ringed Parakeet, but I could not see
anything of the bird and the sound was less of a
screech than I would have expected. After listening to
the sound for several minutes, I finally, concluded
that it must have been coming from a malfunctioning
alarm on the outside of Newham House on the north side
of Queen Street. But it was very bird-like!
Bunting was singing from the reedbeds to the north
of Peter Pond, a brief and rather inconspicuous song,
but distinctive. I also heard a Cetti's Warbler
from the same area, so the bird we first heard on
Brook Meadow on Feb 19th must be still in the area.
It was great
to stroll through the meadow in the warm sunshine,
thinking of what will be coming up in the months
ahead. Meanwhile, I love to see the yellow leaves of
Reed Canary-grass which show up really well
with the sun on them at this time of the year, a
golden swathe across the meadow. I cut a few strands
for my wild flower vase display on my desk at home.
I had a walk around
the Lumley area which has yet to be cut by the
conservation group this winter. This is a very
valuable area botanically, for sedges and rushes, but
it has become overgrown with rank vegetation and
really needs to be cut and cleared quickly to give the
new plants an opportunity to develop. It is on the
The main wild flower area in the centre of the north
meadow is looking good; it has been well cleared and
has a very low growth of grasses, just right for the
orchids and other plants, hopefully. Further north the
meadow is dominated by a sea of fescue grass
tufts, which in close-up look like a assembly of
wigwams, but look more like a stormy sea in this
Reaching the far
north-east corner of the meadow where the River Ems
emerges from under the railway, I was surprised to
find the wall of concrete bags (constructed to prevent
the river flooding onto the meadow) has been boxed in
around the sides with Hazel hurdles. This certainly
improves the appearance of the wall and it might be
possible to lay soil on the top of the bags and
encourage wild plants to grow.
Phillips went over to Nore Barn this afternoon where
he found the Spotted Redshank in its regular
spot in the stream. On the basis of previous years I
expect it to be present for another couple of weeks or
so. Last year's last sighting was on March 13th though
it has been as late as March 27th.
Malcolm also captured
a Common Redshank as it came into the Nore Barn
stream, showing its distinctive broad white trailing
edge to the wing and white wedge up its back. No other
wader combines these two features. The Spotted
Redshank has the white wedge, but lacks the white
Nik Knight saw that a swan had begun nest building at
Langstone millpond, further back into the reedbed this
year. This is the first swan nest building that I have
heard of this year.
FEBRUARY 26 - 2015
I decided to
get out for a walk despite the steady light rain.
Actually, it was not too bad as it was warm and the
wind was manageable. The town millpond was drained due
to the threat of flooding which meant the ducks and
swans were having a hard time getting around. I was
interested to see two Black-tailed Godwits
feeding on the mud in the southern section of the
millpond. They looked like juveniles, of which there
has been plenty around this winter.
A few minutes later, I
found one of the juveniles feeding in the low water
channel near the town; this has been a favoured
feeding area for juvenile godwits this winter.
It was low
water and the eastern harbour was almost deserted. The
only Brent Geese I could find were two family
groups on the shore near the conservancy wooden
pontoon with 4 and 3 youngsters respectively. Clearly,
the Brents are on the move towards their breeding
grounds, though I expect we shall see good numbers of
them passing through from places further west and
A flotilla of 7
Red-breasted Mergansers were swimming up the main
channel with a couple of females leading the way.
Mergansers are also winter visitors to the south
coast, but tend to stay a bit longer than the Brents
as they have shorter journeys to their breeding
grounds, probably in West Scotland.
The regular Little
Egret was feeding near the millpond outlet beneath
the quay. What a magnificent bird and we do so take it
for granted these days.
The Mute Swan
pair were back on the Hermitage Millponds with the
male on Slipper Millpond and the female (with pink
legs and feet) on Peter Pond. Generally, it was a very
nice day for ducks, not so good for humans!
FEBRUARY 25 - 2015
I had to go
into Southsea this morning, so I decided to have a
look around some of my old birdwatching haunts.
Starting at Canoe Lake I counted 39 Mute Swans which
is down from 51 on my last visit on Feb 5th. However,
what is clear is that the wintering swans are back on
the lake after an absence of about 10 years from 2005.
And they are being fed!
It was such a
pleasant morning, warm and calm that I walked along
the prom to Southsea Castle. This is the best place
locally to see Purple Sandpipers on the shore
in front of the castle and I was not disappointed
today. I found three of them snoozing on one of the
large rocks overlooking the sea, while another four
were actively feeding among the weeds on the concrete
shore - only two of them shown in the photo on the
I also spotted a
Rock Pipit on the concrete, but did not see any
Sanderlings that the Havant Wildlife Group saw here on
their walk on Feb 14, although I have often seen them
here in previous years.
I stopped off
at Baffins Pond on my way home where it was feeding
As always, the pond
was crowded with ducks, mostly Mallard and Tufted
Duck, though I did spot one handsome male
Pochard among the melee. Pochard was never a
common or numerous bird on Baffins Pond when I used to
do regular counts from 1992 to 2005, so it was good to
see one present today. I did not spot a female, though
they are not so easy to pick out from the mass of
other ducks as the male.
The hybrid Embden
Goose was in the north west corner of the pond
with its close companion a regular Canada Goose.
Having seen the bird in the flesh I certainly agree
with Eric Eddles and Peter Milinets-Raby that this
bird is not a pure Embden Goose and I am fully
prepared to accept the expert's verdict that it is a
Embden x Canada hybrid.
There were about 14
Shoveler on the pond, mostly in pairs, circling round
and round with their heads under the water sieving
food. The Mallard family with six tiny ducklings that
Eric Eddles reported on yesterday are still
in the air
garden Snowdrops were attracting dozens of Honey
Bees in the warm sunshine today, each with their
pollen sacks full of bright orange pollen. I did not
realise they were active this early in the year. Chris
also noted a Drone Fly on some tiny Iris
flowers. There was even a Bumble bee but it passed
through too quickly for him to get a picture. Spring
was certainly in the air.
Milinets-Raby popped down to Pook Lane and visited the
Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon from 12:50pm to
2:56pm - tide pushing in and 15.1C with heat haze!
Here are his observations:
Pook Lane: 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Turnstone, 6
Black-tailed Godwit, 255 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey
Plover, 247 Dunlin, 34 Shelduck, 10+ Teal (see photo),
23 Lapwing, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 Knot, 4
Greenshank (G//R+BB//- and G//R+BRtag//-), 35 Wigeon,
1 Buzzard soaring around on the thermals.
Flooded Horse paddock:
26 Moorhen, 8 Teal.
Pond: Chiffchaff heard calling, 2 Stock Doves, Male
Kestrel over, 1 Little Egret roosting, No sign of
Wigeon or Goosander, 2 roosting Grey Herons.
Grey Heron top nest in Holm Oak has three
chicks. I managed to get good views today - photo
below. South nest looks like the adult is still
sitting on eggs as I observed the bird fussing over
the nest as if it had eggs, rather than
FEBRUARY 24 - 2015
Redshanks at high water
It was a
lovely afternoon for a stroll around Nore Barn. I
arrived at about 2.30pm with about one hour to go to
high water and did not really expect to see much in
the harbour. There were a few Brent Geese, Wigeon and
Teal pootling around on the still water, but then I
noticed two little heads poking up from behind the
grasses on the shore to the west of the stream.
Redshanks certainly, but were they both Spotted
Redshanks? I manoeuvred myself into position to get a
better look and decided that one was definitely a
Common Redshank - the one on the left in the picture.
As I was watching, the
Common Redshank swam off quite a good distance into
the harbour, leaving its companion behind on the edge
of the saltmarshes.
I left them to it and
walked along the shore to the south of the woods. When
I got back to the stream area at 3.30pm the tide was
fully in, but the two Redshanks were back together on
the edge of the saltmarshes, clearly roosting there
over high water.
interested to see what had been going on along the
Selangor Path and was surprised to find the first 50
yards or so from the southern kissing gate had been
laid with gravel. There was a notice on the gate
indicating that this work had been carried out by
volunteers under the leadership of the Chichester
Harbour Conservancy in co-operation with Havant
Borough Council. The gravel gave way to wet mud after
about 50 yards, but the presence of large piles of
gravel further north must mean the intention is to
relay the whole path. Trees and scrub had been cleared
along the edges of the path to open it up and help it
to dry out.
There were notices on
the edge of the large field to the east of the
Selangor Path indicating that the access to the site
was prohibited except for 'recreational use consent
for which is expressly given by Markfields
Investments'. This would seem to be a very public
spirited thing for the owners to do (to soften the
blow of housing development when it comes?). Actually,
walking down the edge of the field is a good dry
alternative to the very muddy path.
I was also
interested to see the work that the Nore Barn Woods
group have been doing on the hedge along the path
north of the woods in co-operation with Jon Stokes of
the Tree Council. A section was laid in the 'South of
England' style, rather like we have been doing on
Brook Meadow. Also, many old Hawthorns had been
coppiced and in-filled with new saplings including
Wild Plum. The coppiced trees will also be laid after
5-6 years to form a new hedge. It all looks very fine
and the Nore Barn Woods group have to be congratulated
on their excellent conservation work.
ducklings on Baffins Pond
had a wonderful surprise this afternoon when he
discovered this Mallard family on Baffins Pond. This
is the first one I have heard of. Eric says the mother
looks like a 'mix and match' hybrid.
Geese on the move
I have noticed
a marked fall in numbers of Brent Geese in Emsworth
Harbour over the past week or so and wondered if this
marked an early movement of the birds towards their
breeding grounds in the north.
This was tentatively confirmed by Ralph Hollins who
reported the following in his daily wildlife diary
yesterday: "There have been many reports of Brent
Geese heading east past coastal sites such as
Dungeness since Jan 4 but I think these early
departures originate from the west coast of France and
only follow the English south coast for convenience of
navigation (others follow the north coast of France).
What may be the first report of Brent that have been
wintering at English sites starting to leave came in a
report on the Selsey Blog for Feb 22 of a total of
just over 1500 Brent taking off from the Pagham
Harbour area to head east. See . . . http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm
FEBRUARY 23 - 2015
I had a walk
this morning after the rain through Brook Meadow and
down to Slipper Millpond. A Song Thrush was
singing strongly from the south meadow. Also, a
Chaffinch was singing its 'bowling song'.
There was no sound of the Cetti's Warbler on
Brook Meadow, though I did get a brief burst of its
song from the reeds to the north of Peter Pond. While
standing on the small footbridge to the north of Peter
Pond I spotted a Chiffchaff flitting around in
the reedbeds, moving quickly across from one side of
the channel to the other. Too quick for a photo.
Meanwhile, over on Slipper Millpond Black-headed Gulls
and a Cormorant were the only occupants on the centre
raft; no sign this morning of the Great Black-backed
Gulls that I saw here last week.
A pair of Coot were taking an interest in the
nest box on the north raft for the first time this
year. The photo shows the raft still with its covering
of wires designed to deter the Great Black-backed
Gulls from nesting; however, they would not attempt to
do that as that raft is far too small for them.
The pair of Mute
Swans that nested in the reeds on the east side of
Slipper Millpond were back on the pond, the female
'Polish' variety showing her distinctive pink legs and
feet. I assume they will try to nest there again this
year. The two cygnets from last year's brood are in
the harbour with other juveniles in various stages of
maturity, plus a few unattached adults.
is John's superb sequence of photos showing the grebe
catching and swallowing the
John Bogle was
also down at Slipper Millpond yesterday where he had
what he described as his "best wildlife experience of
the year so far" watching a Little Grebe fishing near
the sluice at the end of the pond.
"I was walking past and saw it there in the fast water
and thought I'd watch it for a few minutes. Almost
instantly it dived under and came up a few seconds
later with, for the size of the bird, quite a large
fish! Fortunately I already had my camera in hand and
was able to fire off a few shots to capture the
moment! The whole sequence lasted just 8 seconds from
surfacing to fish gone, and I watched it catch and
swallow a further two baby mullet of similar size in
the space of 2.5 minutes! Clearly a very efficient
little hunter! It had then clearly had it's fill went
off to settle down under the hull of one of the
FEBRUARY 22 - 2015
Mediterranean Gull is in the centre of the photo with
the slightly faded black
Peter Milinets-Raby covered all the main sites from
Emsworth to Langstone (7:22am to 10:55am - low tide).
Here are his observations:
Emsworth Harbour off the Mill Pond (4/5th frozen
-3.4C): 3 Pied Wagtails on the sea wall, 10 Lapwing, 1
Grey Plover, 4 Greenshank, 22 Coot, 348 Brent Geese, 2
Canada Geese, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 7 Gadwall, 1
Mediterranean Gull (see photo), 91 Dunlin, 1 Little
Egret, 46 Shelduck, 4 Teal, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 6
Red Breasted Merganser, 2 Little Grebe.
Mill Pond outflow
(from 7:59am): 1 Rock Pipit, 68 Brent Geese, 8 Teal, 3
Grey Plover, 9 Wigeon, 69 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck.
nest: Sitting bird with adult standing less than a
Beacon Square (from 8:08am): Singing Goldcrest in tree
by footpath, 57 Brent Geese, 19 Teal, 2 Shelduck, 75
Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover.
Nore Barn (from 8:17am): 42 Wigeon, 49 Teal, 9
Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Pintail, 7 Grey Plover, 43
Dunlin, 1 Rock Pipit.
Ibis Field (from 8:40am): 1 Moorhen, Song Thrush
singing, Green Woodpecker calling, 3 Pied
Conigar Point (from 8:50am): 11 Wigeon, 13 Pintail, 2
Grey Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Teal, 12
Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 6 Shelduck, 27 Dunlin, 4
Lapwing, 3 Red Breasted Merganser, Reed Bunting
Pook Lane (from 9:03am): 207 Dunlin, 69 Brent Geese,
39 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Red Breasted Merganser, 48
Wigeon, 56 Teal, 15 Black-tailed Godwit (R//R+GR//-),
11 Knot, 22 Shelduck, 8 Lapwing, 135 Golden Plover, 11
Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank, 1 Great Black-backed
Castle Farm fields: 302 Brent Geese.
Flooded Horse paddock: 11 Moorhen, 1 female Pheasant,
Langstone Mill Pond: 2 Mediterranean Gulls calling,
Female Wigeon, 2 Roosting Grey Heron in big tree with
2 Stock Doves,
Grey Heron nests: South nest: Sitting bird with adult
standing less than a metre away (see photo). Holm Oak:
Top nest:- lots of activity from adult male bringing
sticks in, plus young chick observed raising its head
up on several occasions. Lower nest:- Both adults in
attendance with lots of young begging noises, but
nothing to really see with too much vegetation in the
FEBRUARY 21 - 2015
For the first
time this winter we had two Blackcaps on the feeders
in our back garden. I have previously seen the female
and the male separately, but today both were present
at the same time. I did not manage to capture both
together, but here is my first photo of a male this
winter, appropriately with a sunflower heart in its
chips for path
Phillips went round the meadow this morning and down
to Thorney, but did not find much of interest. So, he
came back to Palmer's Road Copse where he spent a
couple of hours moving the wood chips from the tree
cutting onto the path, with just his hands and a
carrier bag as the only tools available. Good job,
FEBRUARY 20 - 2015
Ralph Hollins' discovery of Coltsfoot in flower at
Hayling Oysterbeds on Feb 17, I had a look on the
wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station where
I had previously found this plant. However, there was
no sign of it today, or anything else in flower, if it
comes to that.
The most reliable spot to see Coltsfoot locally that I
know of is alongside the west Thorney track close to
the Little Deeps. I have not had the chance to go down
there yet, but here is a photo I got of the flowers in
through Brook Meadow I heard a Green Woodpecker
calling from the east side of the north meadow, the
first I have heard this year. Another first of the
year for me was a full Chaffinch song from the tall
Alders just opposite the outside of the Lumley gate. I
could not get a photo of the bird, but here is a super
photo of a male Chaffinch that Malcolm Phillips got a
couple of years ago on Brook Meadow.
At 12:15pm I
heard a Cetti's Warbler singing from the bushes on the
west bank north of the sluice gate, immediately behind
the large Crack Willow that has fallen across the
river. This was probably the same bird that Tony
Wootton and Pam Phillips heard on Brook Meadow
yesterday and it might be staying with us for a while.
I listened and looked closely for about 10 minutes,
but, needless to say, I did not see the bird, or even
get so much as a brief glimpse of it. But the
characteristic 'cetti .. cetti .. cetti' song was
unmistakable. No photo of today's bird alas, but here
is one I am proud of. It was taken while the bird was
on the Goat Willow tree on the north of Peter Pond on
17 May 2010. My best Cetti's Warbler ever though not
up to Tony's standards!
One of the
large Crack Willows on the path through Palmer's Road
Copse has had three of its main branches lopped,
presumably for safety reasons.
This is the tree where
Jon Stokes from the Tree Council discovered the Big
Smokey Bracket fungus (Bjerkandera fumosa)
on Jan 17th. This is a nationally scarce fungus and
one with only 2 previous Hampshire records. I was
interested to see if the fungus was still there.
Fortunately, some of the fungi was still present on
the north facing side of the tree right next to a
label with the numbers 000605 printed on it.
The high 4.9m
spring tide had partly flooded the Lumley area, but
nowhere near so extensively as last year.
I tried to walk down
the path in front of Gooseberry Cottage but this was
totally flooded by the tide. It would normally have
been impossible to walk down Lumley Road to the main
A259 at such a high tide, but today the new bunds on
the east side of Peter Pond were doing their job in
keeping the water off the road.
Black-backed Gulls return
The pair of
Great Black-backed Gulls were back on the centre raft
on Slipper Millpond . This is the time of year when
the gulls will be staking out their territory and we
can expect them to be present on most days until
nesting begins in the next few weeks.
This pair of gulls
have nested on the centre raft for the past three
years, producing 2 youngsters in 2012 and three in
2013. In December 2013 the Slipper Millpond
Association decided to try to deter the gulls from
nesting again due to their predatory habits on the
other avian inhabitants on the pond, notably Coot. To
achieve this the three rafts on the pond were covered
with wires, but this did not put the birds off and
they nested again successfully in 2014 rearing one
See the special web page for more details at . . .
Black-backed Gulls nesting
FEBRUARY 19 - 2015
Meadow conservation work
I went over to
Brook Meadow this morning for the regular Thursday
morning Conservation work session led by Wally
Osborne. The weather was fine and 11 volunteers
attended. The main task was to repair the dead hedges
at the top of the river banks to protect the Water
Vole habitat from damage. This was done using branches
and twigs from willow trees.
The other task was to
cut back the large hedge opposite the Seagull Lane
gate which had been badly damaged. This hedge is a
wildlife haven and needs protection and conservation,
even though it is not strictly speaking on the Brook
For the full report
with more photo go to . . . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-diary-2015a.html
To join the Brook
Meadow Conservation Group
go to . . . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-membership-app-form.html
Wootton got a brilliant photo of one in April 2010 in
the reeds on Peter Pond
A Cetti's Warbler was heard singing from the
Lumley Stream area during the work session. Tony
Wootton heard it first and drew my attention to it.
Later Pam Phillips said she had also heard a Cetti's
Warbler near the sluice gate at 7.30 this morning,
probably the same bird. The last Cetti's Warbler song
on Brook Meadow was heard by Ralph Hollins on
23-Sep-14 from the river bank north of observation
fence. Previously, we had long staying Cetti's
Warblers in the springs of 2010 and 2011 giving good
photo opportunities. Let's hope this one stays.
Cetti's Warbler has a very loud song 'cetti-cetti' but
is very difficult to see.
I noted the pink
Butterbur flower spikes are now springing up
more generally in the area below the seat where this
plant grows most abundantly.
family (Tim, Glynis and young son Thomas) paid a visit
to Baffins Pond in Portsmouth and had 'a great
morning'. Keen-eyed Thomas spotted the hybrid Embden x
Canada Goose which has been extensively discussed on
this blog over the past 2 weeks. Thomas got a nice
photo of the bird which he has named 'Bruce'.
Here is young Tom
stroking a very tame Canada Goose.
I cannot speak too
highly of Baffins Pond as an excellent site for
relative beginners to get really good views of the
more common waterfowl, plus some not so common. I
certainly did a lot of my early birdwatching at this
pond and enjoyed every moment. I still call in there
from time to time when I am passing. The natural
environment of the pond has been greatly improved in
recent years by the creation of the new wetland areas.
For more go to . .Baffins
FEBRUARY 18 - 2015
on frozen millpond
millpond had a thin layer of ice on its southern part
when I walked round this morning. It was occupied by
around 200 Black-headed Gulls mostly snoozing. Gulls
do seem to like standing on the ice. I wonder why? I
went through them carefully looking for other species,
but they were all Black-headed. Presumably some of
them will be heading off to Hayling Oysterbeds where
the Black-headed Gull breeding colony is starting to
assemble according to Chris Cockburn's report in
yesterday's blog. The southern pair of Mute Swans can
be seen in the photo behind the gulls. The two pairs
of swans are still present on the millpond, but I have
seen no other signs of friction between them.
Wagtail on Slipper Millpond
Kinsella saw a good selection of birds during a walk
last evening. First he had a sighting of a Grey
Wagtail flitting round the rocks in the water near
the sluice gate at the bottom of Slipper Millpond. The
reflected light was very bright so it was only when
Francis looked carefully at the photo that he realised
what it was.
The Grey Wagtail flew
off past a female Kingfisher (with red lower
mandible) that was perched at that point on one of the
ladders along the wall down from Dolphin Quay.
from the archives - February
Spotted Redshank at
Sweet Violets on Lillywhite's path
Two Firecrests on Brook Meadow with some great photos
- from Feb 16
Two Water Rails - Feb 21
Water Vole sightings.
Great Black-backed Gulls back on Slipper Millpond for
nesting again - Feb 22 and Feb 25
Glossy Ibis on Warblington Farm - Feb 23 to end
First Blackbird song - Feb 25
Frog spawn by the sluice gate
FEBRUARY 17 - 2015
Phillips had a good time on the meadow today. He had
two sightings of what was probably the same Water
Vole in Palmer's Road Copse by the deep water
sign, first at 12 noon and again at 4.30pm. This was
our 3rd Water Vole sighting of the year and from
different locations which is encouraging news for the
future. For all the Water Vole news and photos go to .
. . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-water-voles.html
Malcolm also got a
good photo of a common Chiffchaff - the first
we have seen for a while on the meadow. The Siberian
Chiffchaff appears to have gone.
It always pays to look
up from time to time. Doing this Malcolm spotted a
Buzzard flying overhead.
When I walked through
this afternoon I noticed the first blossom on the
Cherry Plum 'Pissardii' tree on the causeway to
the Lumley gate on Brook Meadow. It is a bit later
than usual; first flowers in 2014 were on 5th Feb.
Common Name: Purple-leaved plum (Prunus cerasifera
Cultivar: 'Pissardii'). This is the purple leaved
cultivar Pissardii, grown in suburban gardens.
Milinets-Raby says it was a lovely blue sky morning
visit to the Warblington shore just as the last bit of
mud was being covered by the rising tide (7:22am to
9:22am). Peter was pleased to get his scope back
repaired and restored to full functioning, all the way
from Austria! Highlights were:
Castle Farm fields: Spring has arrived when the first
sound you hear is the call of a pair of summer
plumaged Mediterranean Gulls flying over! 21
Oystercatcher. 33 Curlew. Mistle Thrush. Buzzard on
old tree. 2 pairs of Stock Doves in the big trees.
Green Woodpecker calling all morning.
Off Pook Lane: 2 feeding Avocet (A nice surprise, but
soon flew off), 310+ Dunlin (160+ flew off within five
minutes of arriving along with the Knot and Bar-tailed
Godwits - a pity did not get the chance to search
through them!). 15+ Bar-tailed Godwit. 118 roosting
Golden Plover. 30+ Lapwing. 2 Knot. 1 Turnstone. 3
Black-tailed Godwit. 40+ Shelduck. 2 female Goldeneye.
Skylark over calling. 140+ Brent Geese feeding on the
shore by Pook Lane along with 50
Langstone Mill Pond:
Male Reed Bunting singing and a handsome male
Two Grey Herons standing on the south nest and a bird
on the top nest in the Holm Oak that had a stretch
before settling back down with a lengthy hilarious
wobble back and forth before finally sitting.
Mallard numbers on the
pond down by 50% - probably a result of the aggressive
Mute Swans and the fact that spring is now officially
in the air! No sign of the Wigeon.
Flooded horse paddock: 26 Moorhen. 93 Teal.
FEBRUARY 16 - 2015
I had a stroll
this morning before the worst of the rain. A Grey
Wagtail was feeding in the Westbrook Stream that
runs alongside Bridge Road car park. This bird is
probably present more often in this fast running
stream than I see it there.
Walking up West Street towards the shops I heard the
sweet song of a Blue Tit from one of the
gardens. This was the best song I have heard this
winter. My only other Blue Tit song was not much more
than a call on Brook Meadow on Jan 7.
Greenshank G+BN tag was feeding with a Common
Redshank in the channel to the east of the Emsworth
Sailing Club building. This is an Emsworth regular. It
was caught and ringed by Pete Potts on 13 Jan 2014 and
this was my 6th sighting of this bird in Emsworth this
winter period. The photo is blurry as the bird was
constantly on the move.
season gets underway at the oysterbeds
reports on the start of the 2015 breeding season on
"The cheery noise of territorial black-headed gulls
has started. The first handful of them were on the
straight island on Sat 14 Feb when at least one
Mediterranean gull was heard but not seen.
Numbers of both species noticeably increased on Sun 15
Feb with much coming & going and lots of calling,
especially from the Med. gulls.
Are these gulls creatures of habit? Well, the 2014
season started on Feb 14th and the 2013 season on Feb
10th. Presumably daylight hours must be the trigger
(weather conditions were very different in those
years). Anyway, numbers and noise should increase soon
and it will great to see the Med gulls again
displaying on the islands (and perhaps an opportunity
to read some alpha-numeric Darvik rings).
Both of the lagoon islands have been significantly
eroded due to storm-wave action; so it will be
interesting to see how many nests are made this year
(677 black-headed gull nests and 10 Med gull nests in
There are at least three potential pairs of
oystercatchers in the lagoon area; but they
will probably have another abject season unless they
heed the advice to start nesting well before the gulls
get down to business in early April.
The high tide wader roosts are still giving good
value, especially during the higher spring tides
despite the relatively lower number of over-wintering
birds (Brent geese excepted); the likely result of
many waders and wildfowl staying in western Europe
(particularly Holland etc) whilst no major freeze-up
It will not be long before the northwards bird
movements start and it will be autumn before we see
birds such as common gulls: Hopefully, once spring
arrives, there will be more to report."
Here is a
photo of some Black-headed Gulls nesting on the
shingle island at Hayling Oysterbeds taken in May 2010
at the start of my 5th and final year as a volunteer
warden. The number of Black-headed Gull nests had
risen to 667 last year!
During my wardening
period I witnessed the takeover of the original Little
Tern breeding islands by the Black-headed Gulls. When
I first started wardening there were around 40 Little
Tern nests on the shingle island; when I finished
there were none. This photo was taken in May 2007 when
the terns were doing well. Nostalgic!
FEBRUARY 15 - 2015
It was a very
pleasant almost spring-like morning for a stroll
through Brook Meadow and round Slipper Millpond. While
on Brook Meadow we met Malcolm Phillips who had just
seen and photographed a Treecreeper near the south
bridge, his first one of the year.
Malcolm also got a
shot of a Blue Tit with nest materials in its bill
emerging from what must be a nesting hole in one of
the large Crack Willows on the north path.
Malcolm said he had
not seen the Siberian Chiffchaff for some weeks (since
Jan 14 in fact) and thought it must have gone. He had
not seen any common Chiffchaffs either. The long
staying Water Rail has also not been seen since Jan 31
and may have moved on as well.
While on Brook
Meadow I checked the flower spikes of Butterbur
which are now starting to emerge from the buds in the
area below the main seat.
Along the path behind
Lillywhite's Garage I found a variety of plants in
flower including Sweet Violet, Common Field Speedwell,
Common Chickweed and a bright yellow flower of
Also along this path
there a fresh growth of Lords and Ladies,
including some with dark spotted leaves.
The now severely
truncated Gorse bush on the east side of
Slipper Millpond is flowering well and looks good on
this photo with the pool in the background.
Looking more closely
at its rich golden yellow flowers one can appreciate
why the plant botanically belongs to the pea group.
The flowers have the characteristic five petals of the
pea family with a standard petal at the top, two wing
petals at the sides and two lower petals forming a
Glynis and Tim
Irons had a lovely walk this morning with their 9-year
old son Thomas through Brook Meadow, Peter Pond, the
Harbour and then to the town millpond. Thomas, who is
a keen birdwatcher, spotted wading birds in the
harbour and took some photos. One of them was a
colour-ringed and tagged Greenshank - RG+BY tag
(ie left leg: red over green and right leg blue
over yellow with the geo tag on the blue ring).
Although Thomas's photo only shows the left leg rings
he also saw the colours on the other leg which enabled
me to identify it.
RG+BY tag was one of 3
Greenshanks that Pete Potts and his team caught at
Thorney on 19-Mar-13 and fitted geolocators to the
blue rings. The bird has been seen 10 times in
Emsworth Harbour since its ringing and today's
sighting was the 5th in this winter season.
As I was
writing this blog at 6pm this evening my wife called
me into the kitchen to hear a bird singing in the back
garden. It was our first Blackbird song of the year
and the song was full and rich, certainly not a
sub-song in any way. Last year I heard my first
Blackbird song on Feb 16th so it looks as if it is
about on time.
goose on Baffins Pond
helped to answer my puzzlement over why the hybrid
goose on Baffins Pond that he photographed on Feb 13
should be so different in appearance from one of its
assumed parents ie a Canada Goose. Eric said that
expert Dave Appleton wrote as follows: 'It is likely
to be a hybrid between a domestic goose such as
(Embden) and a Canada Goose. Such very white birds as
this are difficult to separate from domestic geese as
the white plumage masks the usual signs of Canada
Goose involvement, so I would shy from being 100%
positive, but it is as least consistent with how I
would expect a domestic goose x Canada Goose hybrid to
Thanks, Eric. I think that resolves my problem with
the ID, though I still think it is a bit strange that
things happen this way.
Milinets-Raby sends a link to breeding event between a
domestic goose and a lame female Canada Goose which he
says sheds some light on things and resolves the
situation. As Peter says, the offspring in the photos
that are white look just like the Baffins Pond bird.
See . . . http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/645769/just-for-fun-hybrid-geese
Wildlife Group at Southsea
reported on yesterday's walk by the Havant Wildlife
See . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2015.htm
earlier observations go to . . February