MARCH 31 - 2015
Ralph Hollins's discovery of Slender Speedwell
flowering in Havant yesterday I had a look at the
wayside in Bridge Road car park where this plant has
been fairly abundant in previous years. I could not
find any, though this plant is not easy to distinguish
from Common Field Speedwell which was present on the
wayside. My main distinguishing feature is the shape
of the leaves, which are more rounded in Slender
Speedwell. I shall need to look again later.
Much easier is the fine display of Lesser
Celandines on the verge at the southern entrance
to the car park.
I also had a quick
walk around the wayside to the north of Emsworth
Railway Station. I was very pleased to find a nice
crop of flowering Coltsfoot on the embankment
near the ramp. They were mostly yellow flowers, but
some were a deep orange hue. This is the only site for
Coltsfoot that I know of in Emsworth.
Also on the Railway
Wayside I found a Bumblebee feeding on a Dandelion
flower in the warm sunshine. From its ginger thorax
and dark abdomen I tentatively identify it as
Bombus hypnorum - a species which was
first recorded in Hampshire in 2001, but has become
Phillips today discovered a new menace on the meadow -
off-road motor bikes. He sent me a photo of one of the
lads and hopes someone can put a stop to it before it
gets out of hand. Information passed to the
Malcolm also had some
nice butterflies despite the stormy conditions,
including Peacock, Comma and Small
Malcolm met a young
lad on the south bridge who showed him a photo he had
just taken of a Pike which he said about 1ft long. So
maybe we have at least two Pikes in the river! Extra
bad news for the Water Voles.
paid his first visit to the Swan nest on the town
millpond this morning and got this photo just as the
pen swan got off the nest revealing 7 eggs.
This was surprising news, as by my calculation with
laying beginning on Mar 20 and with eggs laid at the
rate of one every 48 hours, then the 6th egg should
have been laid yesterday and 7th tomorrow! Oh, well
that's swans for you!
Milinets-Raby popped down to the Langstone Mill Pond
this afternoon as thee tide fell (12:30pm to 1:30pm).
Very, very windy.
Langstone Mill Pond: 20 Teal (see photo),
Cetti's Warbler singing its heart out from the north
reed bed and line of Sallows, 2 Chiffchaff singing,
Mute Swan still sitting on nest - male chasing
Colony: Top Holm nest - one juvenile left resting.
Lower Holm - Grey blob viewable, but no idea what age
it was. South Nest - Bird sitting. Middle nest - Bird
sitting. Fifth nest (now furthest south) - adult
sitting. SIXTH NEST - In front of south nest is yet
another nest under construction. Adult standing
guarding and other bird flying in with sticks and big
Horse Paddock: 16 Little Egrets roosting out
the strong wind, 3 adult and 4 juvenile Grey Herons -
probably the Holm Oak top nest youngsters, 10 Moorhen,
Off Pook Lane: 3 Red Breasted Merganser, 26
Grey Plover, 122 Dunlin, 60 Knot, 1 Shelduck, 54 Brent
Geese, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 101 Black-tailed Godwits,
16 Med Gulls roosting on the salt marsh, 1 Great
Black-backed Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving
inland - windy movement?
MARCH 30 - 2015
The pen Mute
Swan was on the reed nest on the town millpond when I
passed this afternoon, presumably brooding six eggs,
with the 6th having been laid this morning. It will be
interesting to see if she lays any more; up to 10 is
Emsworth Harbour was largely deserted. I could see
only 6 Brent Geese in the eastern harbour plus a
couple of Canada Geese.
There were no Great Black-backed Gulls or Mute Swans
on Slipper Millpond. The lone cob swan was not on
Peter Pond either, so it looks as if he may have given
up on his mate, the pink-legged 'Polish' pen which has
been missing for 3 weeks or so.
The cat-like calls of Mediterranean Gulls were a
constant accompaniment of my walk.
I did the
annual count of Butterbur flower spikes on Brook
Meadow this afternoon. I counted a total of 792 spikes
which slightly down on last year's count of 824, but
still very high in comparison with the years before
2011 as shown in the following chart.
distribution of the spikes has changed from last year
with more spikes in the area below the main seat 728
(last year was 630) and less in other areas. I could
only find 30 spikes at the east end of the causeway as
opposed to 118 last year and numbers on the river bank
by the sluice gate and on the south meadow were also
In fact, this shift in
distribution of the Butterbur spikes towards the seat
area and away from other areas has been going on for
some years. For example, in 2011 there were 248 spikes
on the river bank and 142 on the eastern causeway. I
recall 10 years ago there were no Butterbur spikes at
all on the meadow below the seat. I have no idea why
these changes have occurred.
Phillips had a walk round the meadow this afternoon.
He spotted another Common Lizard on one of the
felt mats. There are several of these mats around the
meadow. They are being used in a survey of reptiles.
From the footbridge at
the top of Peter Pond, Malcolm got the first photo of
the year of a Cetti's Warbler. I have had
several reports of people hearing this bird, first
heard on Feb 19th by Tony Wootton. However, it is
rarely seen and even more rarely photographed. So,
good one, Malcolm.
Malcolm also got this
Chiffchaff from the foot bridge. Common or
Siberian Chiffchaff? Take your pick.
spent an hour at Baffins Pond this morning. Mike's
report as follows:
"A local walker directed me to one of the 'wetlands'
where he'd recently seen a Water Rail. After about 30
minutes I was aware of something hidden in the grass,
and, it was only when it opened its eyes that I
realised it was a cat. A number of locals informed me
that two cats 'work' these 'wetlands' and take a huge
number of young birds. Is this just accepted as
letting nature take its course or could something be
done about it? These 'wetlands' were surely designed
as a safe haven, not a deadly trap."
Mike also spotted two
terrapins on the island.
As for cats I am
afraid, Mike, there is not a lot one can do. They are
by far the great predators of wildlife, but are much
loved by a large proportion of the population. So,
with dogs. I am afraid birdwatchers and nature lovers
have to live with the fact. As I see it, education is
the only way. This has been our approach on Brook
Meadow over the years - to get dog owners to
understand and appreciate the wildlife that is
present. That must be the only possible approach at
Baffins Pond with cat owners.
As for Terrapins, they too are serious predators of
wildlife, particularly young birds. They are almost
certainly discards from garden ponds. They were there
when I was doing my counts at Baffins Pond in the
1990s and early 2000s. Maybe they are breeding? That's
not nice to contemplate.
MARCH 28 - 2015
When I got to
the town millpond at about 10am the cob swan (with
protruding wings feathers) was guarding the reed nest
by the bridge watched, as always, by an admiring
audience. The nest now has 5 eggs in it - the 5th one
having been laid this morning on schedule. The pen
swan was further down the millpond having a wash and
brush up. All looks well.
has had it confirmed by the RSPCA that the swan that
was involved in the fight on the nest last Saturday
and which they had to put down was a normal
black-legged swan. So, that eliminates the missing
Peter Pond/Slipper Millpond pen which is a 'Polish'
variety having pink legs and feet. Jackie's conclusion
is that the dead bird was the pen from the second pair
on the town millpond which is also missing. What has
happened to the Peter Pond pen remains a mystery.
Phillips had a walk around the meadow, but did not see
anything of special interest. He did however, get some
nice shots, including this Chiffchaff, but
whether it was a wintering bird, a summer migrant or
even a Siberian Chiffchaff, who is to say?
Malcolm also captured
this Song Thrush with a loose downy feather, in
a pensive mood.
managed to get to over to Emsworth from her home in
Portsmouth to have a look at the swan nest on the town
millpond and later had a walk around Brook Meadow in
fading light. The cob was on the nest while she was
there and looking very clumsy, almost treading on the
eggs at one point.
Meanwile, on Brook Meadow Charlie said she could hear
many birds but mostly could only see silhouettes, so
took more interest in the plants. She loved the
delicate primroses and the brash daffodils and admired
the Cherry Plum tree flowers and thought they must be
quite stunning when there are blue spring skies. Yes,
Charlie, they are! She also thought the Weeping Willow
looked beautiful and made her walk well worthwhile,
despite the weather. It needs a visitor to to make us
appreciate things we almost take for granted.
Charlie was puzzled by
some "white bell-type flowers which were quite tall
and looked like some early form of bluebell. Very
lovely to see and brightened the late afternoon
gloom." These are Summer Snowflakes
(Leucojum aestivum) a garden escape but now
living happily in the wild.
says the Mute Swan pair on Baffins Pond has also
started laying. One egg was in the nest this morning
with more to come, no doubt.
MARCH 27 - 2015
there is no change on any of the Emsworth millponds.
The pen swan was snug on the reed nest near the bridge
on the town millpond and looking fine. The cob
was patrolling further south on the pond, keeping a
very close watch on the cob of the other pair of
swans; both cobs were circling around each other with
wings raised at the end of Nile Street, but there was
no overt aggression while I was there.
The eastern harbour was virtually empty with just a
few Brent Geese and Oystercatchers, plus a Greenshank
or two and a Redshank.
Over on the Slipper Millpond the cob swan of
the nesting pair was still all on its own on the pond
with still no sign of its mate, the 'Polish' pen. I am
now very concerned about this swan which has been
absent for over a week. Jackie-Michelle Daines has
asked the RSPCA about the dead swan that they rescued
from the culvert on the town millpond. They are going
to get back to her, but the the officer did say he did
not remember the swan having pink legs! So, it is
possible that the dead swan could be the pen of the
second swan pair that has been on the town millpond
for some while, competing for territory with the
resident pair, as Jackie says this pen is also absent.
The mystery of the missing pens deepens!
There was no sign of any Great Black-backed Gulls
on Slipper Millpond. They appear to have
abandoned nesting on the raft this year.
A lady informed me that there was a family of 4
Coot chicks on the pond at the top of Sadler's
Walk; they were born yesterday. This is the first
brood I have heard about this year.
While standing on the Lumley path I spotted three
substantial Grey Mullett swimming about in the
pool just north of the footbridge. These fish come in
from the harbour at high water.
I met Malcolm
Phillips on the south bridge watching the
Treecreepers on the Crack Willows north of the
bridge. He had seen both birds moving around the area
and visiting the nest site under the loose bark on one
of the trees and was hoping to get both on one photo.
Malcolm is seen in this photo chatting to a passer by
about the Treecreepers. They are our real stars of the
spring on Brook Meadow, and so easy to see.
Here is a cracking
shot that Malcolm got of one of the Treecreepers
Malcolm had also
located a pair of Wrens nesting in a tree stump
a bit further up river than the Treecreepers.
He had also seen bird which he thought might have been
the Firecrest that Peter Milinets-Raby saw here last
week, but on looking at some of his snaps there was no
sign of any white eyebrow and we both concluded it was
a common Goldcrest. This one looks as if it is
Malcolm also saw the
first Common Lizard of the year on one of the
black felt pads near the north bridge. These pads, of
which there are several scattered around the meadow,
have been placed by an ecology team for a reptile
I spent an
hour or so at Nore Barn on the rising tide from 2-3pm.
The western harbour was almost completely empty,
rather like the eastern harbour this morning. Clearly,
the Brent Geese have taken advantage of the
change of wind to head north towards their breeding
grounds. So goodbye until October.
I had a walk along the creek south of the woods but
only found about 20 Teal and one colour-ringed
Greenshank (too far to read with just bins) and one
It is goodbye also to the Spotted Redshank of
which there was no sign. The only birds in the stream
when I left were a Common Redshank and an
At the far end of the woods I found a couple of
patches of pink coloured Sweet Violets - they
are characteristic feature of Nore Barn Woods.
Chiffchaff was singing, but not Blackcap as yet.
had both male and female Blackcaps in his garden. Here
is the female on the fat balls. I think these are
still the wintering birds. The summer visitors head
straight for their breeding areas, like Brook Meadow
or Hollybank Woods.
Milinets-Raby spent a couple of hours at Langstone
Mill Pond this afternoon from 1:35pm. He walked in via
Wade Lane: 2 Buzzard - seen mating in their usual tree
(See photo - male on the left), 2 Great Spotted
Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff singing, 8
Little Egrets in the paddocks, Coal Tit singing, 2
paddocks: 22 Moorhen, Green Woodpecker, 5 Teal.
Langstone Mill Pond: Cetti's Warbler creeping
along the reed edge by the small bridge and singing. 6
Teal, 2 Chiffchaff singing, 2 Med Gulls over, Mute
Swan on nest with male attacking everything in sight,
Reed Bunting calling, Just 2 Little Egrets roosting on
Grey Heron Colony: Top Holm Oak - 4 very old
looking juveniles and adult still bringing sticks in
to the nest? Lower Holm Oak - 1 juv viewable and
asleep. Middle Nest - Adult sitting on nest. South
Nest - Adult sitting on nest with another adult
standing very close. FIFTH NEST - Just a metre away
from the south nest - Two adults displaying on a pile
of sticks that has definitely got bigger since my last
Off Pook Lane: 3 Greenshank (G//R+BB//- and
RG//-+YY//- and G//R+BRtag//-), 40 Shelduck, 56 Brent
Geese, 32 Teal, 10 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 Grey
Plover, 2 summer plumaged Sandwich Tern sitting on the
mud - first of the spring migrants, 9 Med Gulls on the
mud (7 adult summer and 2 1st winter/summer - One
adult had white ring on left leg with "C774"), 136
Dunlin, 17 Black-tailed Godwit (six in summer
says the male Gadwall has returned again to
Baffins Pond along with a female Mallard
MARCH 26 - 2015
The cob Mute
Swan was guarding the reed nest by the bridge on the
town millpond when I passed by at about 10am
this morning. The pen bird was having a swim and a
feed further up the pond having successfully delivered
egg number 4 in the nest this morning. The pen was
back on the nest when I passed by about half an hour
tells me that the RSPCA caught the injured pen in the
culvert, but after inspection she had to be put down
due to a very badly broken leg. Jackie adds "This is
such a waste of life but life in the real world is
cruel in many ways."
The situation on the Slipper Millpond Peter
Pond complex remains unchanged. The pen of the
nesting pair is still missing and the cob is alone on
Peter Pond looking rather lonely. I have asked Jackie
if she could find out from the RSPCA if the swan they
put down had pink legs and feet. This would indicate
conclusively if it was the Peter Pond pen, as I fear
it could be.
There were no Great Black-backed Gulls on Slipper
Millpond. Have they given up for this year?
Tony Wootton heard two calls from Cetti's
Warbler at about 3.30pm while standing on the
small bridge on the Lumley Path
I heard two
Chiffchaffs singing on the meadow this morning;
migrants have certainly arrived. Blackcaps are next to
come. One Brimstone butterfly over the river.
I met up with Ros Norton on the south bridge watching
the nesting Treecreepers. We had good views of
two birds moving rapidly up the gnarled bark of the
Crack Willow trees and occasionally flying across the
river to other feeding spots. Ros said she could hear
the thin, sibilant, high-pitched Treecreeper calls
(like 'tsree') though, I am afraid, these calls are
now way beyond my hearing range.
MARCH 25 - 2015
I had my usual
walk/cycle around the local millponds. No real change
anywhere. The Mute Swan cob was guarding the reed nest
(with 3 eggs) by the bridge on the town millpond while
the pen bird had a swim and feed elsewhere on the
pond. There was no sign of the vanquished swan in the
culvert or elsewhere.
There was no activity at all on Slipper Millpond with
no Mute Swans or Great Black-backed Gulls. What I
assume was the cob of the local swan pair was on Peter
Pond, but I could no see the 'Polish' pen with pink
legs anywhere. I have a growing anxiety that the pen
might have been involved in the fighting on the town
millpond last Saturday in the attempted take over of
the reed nest. It would be interesting to know if the
swan in the culvert has pink legs and feet.
There is a Coot on a nest on the edge of the
reeds on Peter Pond to the right of the Kingfisher
There was a Chiffchaff busily feeding in the
Cherry blossom tree right next to Gooseberry Cottage.
I had a quick
walk through the meadow. I stopped at the south bridge
from where I got a good view of our resident
Treecreeper. It was mostly feeding on the
gnarled Crack Willow which has bits of bark hanging
off it, but it made several sorties across the bridge
to trees on the south side while I was there.
Malcolm Phillips was also on the meadow today and
actually saw two Treecreepers in the same
vicinity which is very promising news for breeding.
Here is Malcolm's shot of one of them collecting
Malcolm also saw the
dreaded Pike again, this time half way along
the north bank river by the railway embankment.
Malcolm also saw a Blackbird collecting nesting
material and got the (Siberian) Chiffchaff at
the top of Peter Pond. He saw a large Rat running
across the garden of Gooseberry Cottage.
The number of
birds coming into gardens for extra food tends to
diminish at this time of the year, as they turn their
attention towards nesting. However, I am still getting
a good variety of species in my Emsworth town garden.
This week so far I have had Blue Tit, Blackbird, House
Sparrow, Starling, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch,
Collared Dove, Chiffchaff, Blackcap (female),
Goldfinch, Woodpigeon and two Long-tailed Tits.
Long-tailed Tits are probably more common visitors to
the garden than I think, as they remain for such a
short time and are no doubt frequently missed.
However, two arrived this afternoon as I was watching
and I managed a quick photo before they disappeared.
is the second of the dead mice measuring about 7
inches from nose to tail
winter we have had Wood Mice living in our shed. They
made themselves a rather cozy looking nest using soft
wood which they nibbled into sawdust. Each evening, I
have left them a small pile of peanuts on a shelf and
by the morning the nuts had inevitably gone. However,
a couple of mornings ago we found one dead Wood Mouse
on the ground near the shed presumably the work of one
of the local cats, of which there are many. This
morning there was another corpse on the ground which
is probably the end of a breeding pair. I am not
usually sentimental about wild animals, but I had
built up a little relationship with these creatures
over the winter period with the food I put out for
them. I just wish the predator had been something
decent like an owl or even a fox, which would have
eaten and made use of the mouse. For cats it was all
just a game.
spent 3 hours on Farlington Marshes today and
witnessed quite a unique and dramatic wildlife
encounter. His report follows:
"I was advised by a walker that she had seen a
Short-eared Owl on the eastern side of the marshes,
and this was confirmed by two enthusiasts from Reading
when I reached the approximate sighting area. I then
spotted the owl in flight over the bushes where it
disappeared from sight. Looking skywards I spotted a
Red Kite, and as the three of us enthused over this
latest sighting, the kite was immediately hustled by
the owl which came suddenly from nowhere.
continued for a few minutes when they were joined by a
second kite. This melee went steadily skywards until
for a second or so, they were joined by a peregrine!
This vanished as quickly as it arrived. The three of
us agreed that we'd never seen anything like it.
Moments later we were joined by another gentleman who
innocently enquired if we'd seen anything of interest
and was rather bemused by the width of our grins! I've
attached the best that I could do showing the various
combinations of protagonists, sadly no peregrine".
also saw a
nesting season for the Peregrines on Chichester
Cathedral is back again. There is a useful blog
showing the arrival of the birds on the cathedral and
and photos of them. There is a lot of restoration work
going on at the cathedral, but hopefully it will not
disturb the birds. The web cam should be operating
again as normal fairly soon once nesting starts in
See . . . http://chichesterperegrinesblog.co.uk/2015/01/
MARCH 24 - 2015
Daines delivered more straw to the nesting swans on
the town millpond yesterday.
She called the RSPCA at 10am today to tell them about
the injured swan trapped in the culvert. They arrived
on site by 11.15am which is pretty good. Jackie says
they were unable to see the pen swan in the culvert,
but they will look in again tomorrow. Meanwhile, they
have asked that anyone seeing the swan under the grill
takes note of her condition and, if she is looking
distressed, to call them with information. They will
be contacting the Environment Agency to see if they
would do a walk through the culvert to flush the swan
back in to the pond so they can then assess her
injuries and take the necessary action.
When I walked past this afternoon at about 3pm there
was a swan immediately beneath the grill near the
junction with St James Road looking in good condition
and feeding from the bottom of the stream. I could see
no blood or sign of injury. I did not have my camera
A little later at 4pm I checked the millpond and found
the cob swan guarding the nest with the pen having a
swim and feed further down the pond. There were three
eggs in the nest.
Swan eggs are laid at
the rate of one every 48 hours, usually in the
morning. So, the record for the millpond pen will be:
(1) first egg - Mar 20, (2) second egg - Mar 22, (3)
third egg - Mar 24. So she should have six eggs by Mar
30. This is the average number, though eleven have
been recorded in one nest! Incubation of the eggs
takes 36 days from the laying of the last egg. So, if
all goes according to schedule (and that is a big if),
the first hatching should be around May 6th (depending
on how many eggs were laid).
Jean and I
were in Petersfield this morning and had a walk around
Heath Pond. We saw a good variety of wildfowl
including the usual Egyptian Geese which are
long standing residents of this pond. There were, in
fact, three of them. Below is a photo of two which
were walking along the path in front of us. My guess
is that the bird on the left, without the distinctive
brown eye patch, is a juvenile. The other adult was on
the pond as shown below.
This must mean the
pair successfully bred on the pond. Maybe last year?
Egyptian Goose is a widespread tropical African
sheldgoose, with a well-established feral population
thanks us for pointing out the Treecreeper nest
site by the south bridge on Brook Meadow; he came
over this morning and was able to get prolonged views
of a bird collecting nest material. Malcolm Phillips
was also on the meadow this morning and got this
excellent photo of what was probably the same
Treecreeper that Ralph saw.
Both Ralph and Malcolm
also saw two Buzzards soaring over the north of
Brook Meadow. Ralph noticed that one of the Buzzards
folded its wings back and did a Peregrine-like
vertical dive. Ralph thinks this is something Buzzards
do over a chosen nest site which would be in the
Lumley area north of the railway. I know that Buzzards
have nested over the years on the Lumley Mill Farm
site, so I guess this is where these birds might be
coming from. Malcolm got this photo of one of the
Buzzards in flight.
Malcolm Phillips had
another look for the Firecrest that Peter
Milinets-Raby saw a couple of days ago near the south
bridge, but still without luck. I think we must
conclude that the bird was either just moving through,
or is now elsewhere on the meadow.
visited the meadow yesterday and saw male and female
Bullfinches and a Common Chiffchaff in the Cherry Plum
tree on the causeway, plus this male Reed
Bunting in the reedbeds of Peter Pond. A good
catch from a short visit!
noted that Neapolitan Garlic was starting to
flower on four or five plant clumps in so-called
'Allium alley' in Nore Barn Woods just south of the
path to the north of the woods, eastern end.
At Langstone Mill Pond Ralph found around a dozen
Little Egrets were back as if keeping an eye on
nest sites and one bird was up in the trees close to
the Mill where there was a nest last year. This was
the first time he had seen them, apparently thinking
MARCH 23 - 2015
10am - All was
well with the Mute Swan nest on the town millpond; two
eggs were in the nest and the cob was standing on
guard. The cob is easily distinguished by its loose
feathers hanging off. The pen was having a swim
further down the pond. Jackie-Michelle Daines tells me
she delivered more reeds to the nesting area today as
a precaution against rising water level in the pond,
though it appears to be fairly steady at present.
The Irons family
provided extra information on the fate of the
intruding swan that was driven into the culvert on
Saturday. They found it stuck at the other end of the
culvert in Bridge Rd right up against the grate with
blood still on its head and a cut foot. Thomas took
some grain to it tonight so it had something to eat,
which it shared with some Mallards. I think the RSPCA
should be informed of the plight of this poor creature
if they have not already. But how the heck would
anyone be able to get it out?
I also checked Slipper
Millpond where I found the pair of Great
Black-backed Gulls on the water together, but no
indication of any nest on the raft as yet. Strangely,
there was no sign of the Mute Swan pair on either
Slipper Millpond or Peter Pond. Where have they gone
10.30 about 3
hours to high water. About 250 Brent Geese were
in the channel with more further out. I also saw
several hundred Brents flying over Hayling Island.
I went through the gulls in the harbour. They were
mostly Black-headed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls
mixed in. There were also a good number of
Mediterranean Gulls - with many flying overhead
calling. I counted 15 Med Gulls in the harbour itself,
but I reckon there were far more in the area.
I got to Nore Barn at
about 11.30 with about 2 hours to high water. The
regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL was in
the stream along with a Common Redshank and a Little
Egret, but no Spotted Redshank. I suspect our prize
bird may now have left on its journey back to its
breeding grounds, probably in Northern Scandinavia.
Coming back along
Warblington Road I stopped to admire the fine display
of Sweet Violets on the northern grass verge
east of the junction with Valetta Park and opposite
house number 26. This is the best display I can recall
at this location. My wife tells me there is another
good display of Sweet Violets on the verge in Valetta
I had a look
around Palmer's Road Car Park and the copse for the
Firecrest that Peter Milinets-Raby saw here
yesterday, but I saw nothing. Malcolm Phillips also
spent about an hour and a half looking for the
Firecrest but saw no sign of it. It could have been
just passing through.
However, Malcolm's time was not wasted as he found a
Treecreeper building its nest close to the
south bridge. This is an excellent confirmation of
breeding of this species on Brook Meadow. The last
confirmed nesting was 13 March 2012 by Peter
Milinets-Raby who watched two Treecreepers bringing
nesting material into a crack in the bark of a Willow
tree in Palmer's Road Copse.
In the north-east
corner of Palmer's Road Car Park the bottle banks were
brimming full and there were masses of bottles in
front of the bins. A nice job for the council
'Pussy' Willow on the southern grass verge now has
some of its male catkins open showing their bright
yellow anthers. The other Willow in the north-east
corner of the wayside already is well in flower with
male catkins. Female catkins grow on separate trees
and are greenish in colour. We only have males on
Bridge Road, but there are several female Goat Willows
on Brook Meadow.
I also spotted a
Grey Wagtail in the stream at the northern end
of the wayside, just where the houses begin. This is
probably the same bird that was seen and photographed
during the Havant Wildlife Group walk last Saturday
morning (see blog for Mar 21). As before it appeared
to be jumping onto the steep bank where it could be
I also noticed some new Mistletoe in a tree on
the northern verge which has been recently cleared of
scrub by the Council. This is in addition to the
Mistletoe on the bush in the central shrubbery. Both
probably originate from seeds brought across by birds
from the luxurious growth of Mistletoe on a fruit tree
in the garden on the corner of Bridge Road and Bosmere
Milinets-Raby popped down to the Warblington shore
this morning (6:35am to 8:45am - very, very low tide).
The bird highlights were as follows:
First thing - Ploughed field south of Pook Lane: 140+
Black-headed Gulls, 44 Mediterranean Gulls (all in
summer, except for one adult winter), 2 Pheasant, 3
Pied Wagtails. When I walked back this way, there was
nothing in the field.
Castle Farm tower: 2 male Mallard perched on the top,
looking a bit odd, Plus 2 Stock Doves.
Ibis Field: Chiffchaff singing, 3 Moorhen, 2 Med Gulls
Conigar Point: Chiffchaff singing, Cetti's Warbler
singing, Reed Bunting calling, 2 Stock Doves, 2 Med
Gulls over north, 37 Teal, 2 pairs of Pintail, 6
Wigeon, 32 Brent Geese, 2 mating Great Black-backed
Gulls (I doubt if these are the Slipper Pond
Pook Lane (just barely a trickle of water left in the
channel): 5 Red Breasted Merganser - So funny watching
these birds trying to fish. Just enough water to sit
in, but they had to push themselves along by pushing
their feet along the bottom! 24 Brent Geese, 42
Shelduck, 58 Wigeon, 2 Pintail, 1 Lesser Black-backed
Gull, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 51 Teal, 57 Dunlin, 2
Greenshank, 8 Little Egrets, 6 Grey Plover, 3
Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 2 Black-tailed Godwit,
2 Canada Geese heading west along the channel, 2 Stock
Langstone Mill Pond: Mute Swan sitting on nest,
Grey Heron colony
- Top Holm Oak nest - 4 juveniles sitting still
and watching the world pass them by. Lower Holm Oak -
two young making lots of noise - not old enough to
leave the nest. Other two nests - adult birds still
sitting. An adult is stood on what looks like a "mini
nest" about 1.5 metres away from the south nest. Is
this a fifth nest, or just a place to roost near to
the female on the south nest? 3 adults roosting in the
big tree nearby. Now the confusing part. A very vocal
juvenile Grey Heron was obviously 'lost' and
eventually it flew into the big tree to join the 3
adults. This bird did not interact with the adults.
The bird was clearly a fleshly fledged young Grey
Heron. Now where did this come from? From the Top Holm
Oak? I have only seen four birds. So perhaps the Lower
Holm Oak? The youngsters in this nest look about a
week from fledgling, so could it be an older sibling
of this nest OR is there a hidden nest that no-one
even knows about?? Very intriguing!
Flooded Horse paddock:
12 Moorhen, Chiffchaff singing, 2 Med Gulls over
north, 4 Meadow Pipits over north, Green
Along Pook Lane track: 2 Chiffchaff singing, Green
Woodpecker, 2 Stock Doves.
spent some time in his favourite spot for Dartford
Warblers in the New Forest recently. Here is a good
shot he got of a Dartford with a male Stonechat. Tony
wonders if the white belly is the female's brood patch
being preened. Anyone know the answer?
MARCH 22 - 2015
fracas yesterday I did not know what to expect from
this morning's visit to the town millpond. However,
all was peace and tranquillity with the pen swan
tucked up on the reed nest as if nothing had happened
and the cob patrolling nearby.
Clearly, the swan on
the nest this morning not the same one that was
ejected so violently yesterday afternoon. It showed no
sign of injury or blood on its feathers. The cob is
clearly identifiable by it tatty feathers and was the
major force in the attack yesterday. This morning I
saw the cob go into the culvert where the attacked
swan went yesterday, presumably to check it out.
was also down at the millpond this morning and saw
what I saw. She spoke to a couple of residents who
told her that an intruding swan had attempted to take
over the nest and was attacked by the nesting pair.
Jackie has not been able to confirm, but the egg in
the nest may have been damaged in the fight by the
intruding pen as someone saw a hole.
Clearly, I got it wrong yesterday when I thought the
attacking swans were the intruders. In fact, the swan
being attacked was the intruder and the attacking
swans the nesting pair. However, all is well,
hopefully and more eggs will be laid.
Phillips did his regular circuit of Brook Meadow today
and had several good sightings including a Treecreeper
and a Great Spotted Woodpecker by the south bridge and
a Chiffchaff, probably common not Siberian. He was
also attracted by this marble gall which is formed on
Oak trees by a small gall wasp called Andricus
kollari. You can see the insect's exit hole on
was also on Brook Meadow this afternoon (2:45pm to
4pm) to play a recording of a Siberian Chiffchaff
song. He saw two to three Chiffchaffs, but
there was no response to the recording from them or
from anything else. However, Peter did hear a
Cetti's Warbler singing from reed bed on Peter
Pond opposite Gooseberry Cottage. He also saw 2
Buzzards soaring and 2 Mediterranean Gulls flying over
going north. The distinctive mewing type calls of
these gulls can be heard frequently as they pass
However, Peter's best bird of the trip was a male
Firecrest which he heard singing immediately on
stepping out of his car in Palmer's Road Car Park.
(Gosh, I wish I had hearing like that!) He says the
Firecrest was heard in the narrow line of trees at the
south end of the car park, moving about in the Ivy and
giving good views. When Peter returned back to the car
park the bird was still singing by the south bridge in
the Ivy covered trees that protect the area from the
This was the first Firecrest we have had on the Brook
Meadow site since those two very obliging birds along
the river banks in early 2013 and is clearly something
for Malcolm and other Brook Meadow regulars to watch
out for! Here is a photo of a male taken by Malcolm
Phillips from that period to remind us what the bird
Francis Kinsella was
also on Brook Meadow a couple of days ago when he had
an interesting experience at the top north east corner
of the meadow where the river emerges from the railway
tunnel. First he watched a Goldcrest bathing on the
edge of the stream; it then flew up into the bush for
preening. Moments later, he saw a Wren bathing in more
or less the same place. Francis has discovered the
favourite bathing spot for birds on Brook Meadow, but
you need to approach gingerly to avoid disturbing
Owl at West Dean
sent me this photo of a Little Owl which was spotted
by Ros Norton and Hilary Wootton during a walk near
Staple Ash Farm at West Dean. Good spotting. Not an
easy bird to find.
MARCH 21 - 2015
asked me if I would lead this morning's Havant
Wildlife Group walk through Brook Meadow which I was
delighted to do. It was good to see the group is still
going strong with some new members joining. Fourteen
members plus me assembled in Bridge Road car park at
9am where I took a group photo. The weather was fine
and sunny, but with a chilly wind. The sun went in as
the morning progressed and it became quite cold by
11.30 when we made our way back to the car park.
Before we left the car
park, a Grey Wagtail was spotted feeding in the
Westbrook Stream. This is a fairly regular bird in
this stream, but good to see. Here is Sue Hill's
excellent photo. Sue said the wagtail flew in and out
of the bank just above and windered if could it be
visiting a nest. That seems fairly likely as it is
good nesting habitat. I will keep a look out.
We also noted the
Willow leaves were starting to sprout as were the
catkins on the Goat Willow in the north-east corner.
In addition, Ros noted Hairy Bittercress, Red
Dead-nettle and Groundsel flowering on the edge of the
car park kerb.
We entered Brook
Meadow at the Seagull Lane gate and had a walk around
the patch. We admired the Jubilee hedgerow which is
growing really well on the western edge of the meadow
and the three Oak saplings which were planted at the
same time in 2012. I also pointed out the new tool
store which is the pride and joy of the conservation
group. Looking up Des Barker spotted two
Buzzards soaring almost overhead; these are
probably birds from the Lumley Mill Farm nesting site.
We walked along the
north path to the north-east corner where I explained
the purpose of the flood barrier new wall. While we
were there we noticed a Chiffchaff flitting
around on the river bank. From photos taken by Sue it
appeared to have quite a bit of yellow and green in
its plumage, which would make it a Common Chiffchaff
than the Siberian variety.
Malcolm Phillips, whom
me met later, agreed with us. He later did get a shot
of the Siberian Chiffchaff in the usual spot on
the Lumley Path. The Siberian is an overall grey bird.
We stopped by the
Rowan plantation on the east side of the north
meadow to pay our respects to the memory of Gwynne
Johnson who was a well loved member of the Havant
Wildlife Group until she died 10 years ago. The Rowans
are looking very good and always have a great crop of
We walked across the now cut and cleared Lumley area
and clambered up the muddy bank onto the causeway
where we admired the Cherry Plum which is now in full
blossom and smelling good.
We met up with Malcolm Phillips who walked round to
the Lumley Path with us where we got a good view of a
Treecreeper scuttling up one of the trees
around the pool.
is Malcolm's photo of another Treecreeper that he
found this morning near the south bridge.
So we have at least two on Brook Meadow.
was seen by some members of the group on a tree by the
pond in the garden of Gooseberry Cottage. This was
probably the female Kingfisher, with a red lower
mandible, which has been present in this area all
winter and has been photographed umpteen times.
Some of the group were also lucky enough to see three
Bullfinches in the bushes by the Lumley Path.
These birds have been around this area for a few
After a break for coffee at the main seat we walked to
Palmer's Road Copse from where some members of the
group left to walk back to the car park. We walked
through the copse passing a very friendly Robin and
looking for any sign of Water Voles on the river bank;
there were plenty of burrow holes but no voles.
We then walked back through the meadow along the main
raised path where we were rewarded with an excellent
view of a Water Rail scuttling around on the
river bank below the old gasholder. This is exactly
where Malcolm Phillips saw it 2 days ago. We have had
a Water Rail on Brook Meadow since 22-Sep-14, but
whether it is the same bird each time is difficult to
say, but probably. Here is a Water Rail on Brook
Meadow taken earlier this year by Malcolm Phillips.
The morning's bird
list was 28 species as follows: Grey Heron,
Mallard, Buzzard, Water Rail, Moorhen, Stock Dove
(heard), Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Grey
Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush,
Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit,
Treecreeper, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House
Sparrow, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.
As for insects we did not see any butterflies, it was
probably a bit too cold for them. However, we did see
several large Bumblebees; these were most likely to be
queens looking for suitable nesting sites.
This report and more photos is also on the Havant
Wildlife Group web page at . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2015.htm
attack on millpond
I went down to
the town millpond at about 2.45pm this afternoon to
check on the swan's nest only to be met with the sight
of a fierce fight taking place on the nest by the
bridge. In fact, it was not so much a fight as a
relentless attack by one swan (an intruding cob?) on
what I assumed was the resident pen.
continually pecked at the neck of the pen, pushing its
head down and climbing on top of its victim. The pen
held its ground for about 10 minutes, but when another
swan joined in the attack (the cob's mate?) it finally
gave up and fled with blood splattered over its neck
and chest. The attacker chased the pen into the
culvert under the bridge from which it emerged after a
few minutes, but there was no sign of the pen. I
waited for another 10 minutes, but the pen still did
The impression I was left with that this was a
'take-over' bid for the nest site by a pair of
intruding swans. These intruders could have been the
swan pair that has been present on the southern part
of the pond for a few weeks now. However, there was
another pair of swans on the pond and I reckon they
might well have been responsible for the attack. As
you could imagine the fight attracted the attention of
quite an audience on the bridge!
I did try to video the attack but my camera
unexpectantly gave out after the first first filming.
This meant I only had a video of the initial attack on
the pen, plus a few still photos of the incident.
Here is a link to the video on YouTube . . .
When I left at about
3.15pm the two pairs of swans were circling around
each other with wings raised near the end of Nile
Street, but there was no overt aggression. There was
also another single swan which was continually chased
by the cobs.
The cob that was
involved in the original attack was very tatty with
feathers hanging off its wings.
I had another look at
the pond an hour or so later. The nest was still open
with its solitary egg. There was no sign of the
injured pen which had sought refuge in the culvert.
The swan with tatty feathers that was involved in the
original attack was preening close to the nest - lying
in wait for the injured pen?
MARCH 20 - 2015
I checked the
Mute Swans on the town millpond twice today.
11am - the nest was unoccupied. It was well
constructed with the reeds, though not lined. It had
one egg in the centre. The two swans were on
the pond further south.
5pm - The pen was
tucked in snugly on the nest for the night with the
cob elsewhere on the pond.
11.30 - On Slipper
Millpond both Mute Swans were on the pond. I had a
look at the reeds where they nested last year, but
there has been no clear signs of any nest building.
The two Great Black-backed Gulls were on the
pond and one gull got onto the centre raft while I was
there. No sign of a nest.
There were also 12
Herring Gulls on the pond, including 9 adults and 3
immatures. One Little Grebe was fishing in the
southern part of Slipper Millpond. It was in breeding
plumage with chestnut coloured face and neck and a
distinctive yellow breeding spot on its gape which can
even be seen in this rotten photo.
is flowering on the Lumley Path - the first of the
year. This attractive plant with bell-shaped flowers
and white spotted leaves comes up every year in this
area. It is a perennial herb.
introduced from Central Europe in 16th Century and it
is now commonly grown in gardens. It is naturalised in
woodlands and scrub, on banks and rough ground, and
also occurs on rubbish tips and waste ground.
The Butterbur flower spikes are now standing up
prominently in the area below the main seat. I will
carry out my annual count in a week or two. I had a
look for the Pike but did not see it. However, I did
see two small Brown Trout swimming side by side
in the river by the old gasholder.
Jean and I had
a short walk in the east park of Stansted Forest this
afternoon. On the path in front of the house there is
a notice indicating that Cowslips grown from
English seed have been planted with wire guards to
protect them from browsing deer.
We did not see any Cowslips, but we did enjoy the
sight of swathes of 'wild' Primroses at various
points along the walk.
We heard the distinctive croaking calls of a
Raven from the top of the tall conifer tree
opposite the Iron Gate Cottages. Michael Prior told me
that two pairs of Ravens were nesting on the estate
last year. On Feb 26 last year I had my best ever view
of a pair of Ravens at Stansted. Here is a pic I got
of one of the Ravens on that occasion perched on the
fence in front of Stansted House.
Phillips had a quick look round Brook Meadow but saw
nothing of special interest. However, he did find what
looks like a Siberian Chiffchaff at the top of
Peter Pond. If this is the same bird, it has now been
with us since 11-Dec-14.
He then went down to
Nore Barn where he found the Spotted Redshank
feeding in the stream with the regular colour-ringed
Greenshank G+GL. The Spotted Redshank has now remained
longer than last year when the last sighting was on
Mar 13th. However, in 2013 the last date was Mar 27th.
Milinets-Raby was out this morning to walk along the
Warblington shore (6:48am to 9:35am - tide pushing in
- total grey cloud cover giving dull and gloomy
conditions: getting strangely murkier with a sombre
shadowy quality at 9:27am. Was that it? Thank goodness
the birds made up for the lack of any solar event.
Ibis Field: Green Woodpecker, Moorhen, Chiffchaff
singing, 2 Long-tailed Tits,
Conigar Point: Cetti's Warbler singing several times
in the hedgerow behind the small reed bed, Chiffchaff
singing, 34 Teal, 6 Wigeon, Little Egret, 3 Pintail
(male with 2 females), 3 Mediterranean Gulls on the
mud, 53 Brent Geese, Great Black-backed Gull, 2
Chiffchaff in the Tamarisk hedge, 2 Shelduck, Water
Rail flew from the orchid field into the small reed
bed, 37 Dunlin, 3 Grey Plover, Pheasant - male.
A small Peregrine (probably a male) flew around
for a minute, then landed on one of the channel
navigation posts where it put its solar glasses on in
case the eclipse showed.
Pook Lane: 2 pairs of Pintail, 79 Teal, 52 Wigeon, 227
Brent Geese, 26 Shelduck, 8 Grey Plover, 101 Dunlin,
adult winter Curlew Sandpiper (some nice flight
views as well as feeding in with the Dunlin - overall
rather flighty - see photo below), 73 Bar-tailed
Godwit, 1 Knot, 2 Stock Dove, 6 Red Breasted
Merganser, Mediterranean Gulls (so many milling about
calling 2 to 4+), however in a five minute spell 16
flew north inland (2, 8, 5 and 1), Sandwich Tern -
alas not a migrant as it was in moult and still in
winter plumage, 14 Black-tailed Godwit
Langstone Mill Pond: Med Gulls 8 flying north inland,
Mute Swan on nest after being away for five minutes
(could not see clearly into the nest, so nothing to
report), 2 Chiffchaff milling about occasionally
Grey Heron Colony: Top Holm Oak nest - two juvs
left in nest, other two in trees 20 metres nearby,
stretching wings and lots of calling. Lower Holm Oak
nest: Adult standing with two boisterous youngsters
fighting each other. South Nest: Adult sat firmly on
nest. Middle nest: Adult sat very low in the nest,
Flooded Horse Paddocks: 9 Goldfinch, 16 Moorhen, 2
No visible reaction to the slight change in light by
Peter took 40 photos of the Curlew Sandpiper this
morning and deleted 39 of them. The bird was too far
away and it was too dark and gloomy.
Here is the only poor quality photo that Peter got
that is identifiable. Curlew
Sandpiper is upper right (I think)
* Long legged jiz
shows well (more leg above the knee than the squat
* Slightly attenuated jiz to the tail tip
* And very characteristic way of feeding with body and
tail end held up at the back, unlike the horizontal
tank-like look of Dunlin
On his way
back from a walk down to Langstone and Broadmarsh,
Christopher Evans spotted a Water Vole in the stream
by Tesco. As it kept to the bank and then swam very
quickly across the stream, he could only manage a very
poor photo. However, Christopher got a much better one
of this magnificent Mute Swan in flight just off The
Ship pub at Langstone. Maybe one of the nesting pair
getting some exercise?
MARCH 19 - 2015
I went over to
Brook Meadow at 10am this morning for the regular 3rd
Thursday in the month work session. About 12
volunteers attended the session which was led by
Jennifer Rye who outlined the various jobs for the
day. These included raking off the arisings from the
Lumley area of the meadow which had been previously
cut and partially cleared by Maurice Lillie and
helpers. This is a very valuable area of Brook Meadow
botanically, as it houses most of the sedges and
rushes on the meadow list as well as an annual
flowering of Ragged Robin.
Other jobs included
erecting a new 'Local Nature Reserve' sign at the
northern entrance to Palmer's Road Copse, clearing
debris from the river and making an earth topping to
the new Hazel hurdle enclosure around the concrete bag
flood control barrier in the north-east corner of the
I met Andy Skeet from HBC who was checking the state
of trees on the Brook Meadow site with regards to
safety. He found several that would require some
cutting which would be undertaken by Council
Phillips had a very cold hour on Brook Meadow this
afternoon. However, he did get to see a Water Rail
this time by the observation fence, but it was to
quick for a photo. We have had a Water Rail on Brook
Meadow since 22-Sep-14, but whether it is the same one
is difficult to say, but maybe.
Malcolm also found the Pike down by the old
gasholder. This is be useful information if we are to
catch this large fish which is a serious threat to our
Water Vole population on Brook Meadow. I assume (pray)
there is only one of these!
Malcolm also got the
inevitable female Kingfisher and saw 2
Bullfinches in the tree by the five-barred gate of
I went down to
the town millpond this afternoon at about 3pm to see
how the Mute Swans were getting along with the recent
delivery of reeds for nesting material by
Jackie-Michelle Daines. Both swans were at the nest
site beneath the bridge busily arranging the mound of
reeds into something resembling a nest. While I was
there the cob went off, no doubt to make sure there
was no invasion of its territory by the other pair of
swans further south on the pond. The pen swan remained
working on the nest for a while before plodding across
the mud to have a swim in the narrow channel formed
from the outflow of the Westbrook Stream.
As I was taking a few
photos of the swans at work, Jackie-Michelle came up
and introduced herself. She was delighted at the
response of the swans to the reed material and clearly
hoped they would be able to build a substantial nest
to resist any rise in the level of water in the pond.
The pond is, at present, drained though this could
change if the Environment Agency opened the sluice
gates to allow the high tide to fill up the pond. I
believe last year the Agency agreed to control the
level of water in the pond so that the nest was not
inundated which would be the best policy this year
PS Jackie-Michelle can be seen in the above photo of
the swan on the nest.
is Peter Milinets-Raby's photo showing some of the
hedgerow that has been cut
Lane hedge cutting
very angry report from Peter Milinets-Raby yesterday
about the destruction of the hedgerow along Wade Lane
in Havant, I contacted Rob Hill the open spaces
manager at Havant Borough Council who told me the land
in question was not owned by the council and the
hedges are clearly in the fields and so are private.
Rob thinks the land owner could have been trying to
'regenerate' the hedge.
I also spoke to Andy Skeet the Council arborist about
Wade Lane when I met him on Brook Meadow this morning.
He had received a complaint from a member of the
public about the cutting and would be looking at it
later. However, Andy was told by Jamie Gargett in
Planning that the landowner has not contravened any
Conservation Area or Tree Preservation Orders and so
there was no point in visiting the site.
The other issue
concerns the legality of hedge cutting at this time of
the year when birds are nesting. I checked with the
RSPB site which gives some details of the law on
cutting hedges in springtime. It states: "It is an
offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and
Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage
or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in
use or being built." Gov.UK advises: "If you suspect
an offence has been committed in relation to nesting
wild birds you should contact your local police force
and report the incident to them. Ask for the case to
be investigated by a Wildlife Crime Officer if
possible and ask for an incident number so you can go
back to them if needed." See . . . https://www.gov.uk/countryside-hedgerows-regulation-and-management
took a brief trip over to Hampshire Farm this
afternoon and discovered that they too have been hit
by tree felling. Chris says, "A row of conifers
between the Wren Centre and the pond have been cut
down. They formed a beautiful barrier between the pond
and the centre and were always full of birds.
The resident Kestrel
used the end one as a refuge and lookout. They stood
about thirty foot high and stretched about fifty
yards. Their loss will undoubtedly have a diverse
effect on the birdlife. I just don't understand this
vandalism and can see no good reason for it. That end
of the Wren Centre is now open and a complete
eyesore". Clearly, the same legal issue of the
disturbance of birds nesting in the felled tres arises
here as in the Wade Lane case.
spent 3 hours at a cold and gloomy Pulborough Brooks
today, but was rewarded by getting superb photos of
Fieldfare and Redwing. Unfortunately, the
winter was not cold enough to drive these winter
visitors down onto the south coast.
MARCH 18 - 2015
Phillips had another good day on the meadow for
butterflies seeing Peacock, Comma, Brimstone, Small
Tortoiseshell and Small White. Both Small
Tortoiseshell and Small White were firsts
of the year for Brook Meadow. This reminded me that
last year Brian Lawrence got a Small White on Mar 1st
which was the earliest one ever seen on the meadow.
Today's was more in line with normality.
Malcolm also got a
Treecreeper by the south bridge, not a first of the
year as Malcolm also had one on Feb 15th, but a good
bird to get. Malcolm also got a Chiffchaff
singing in the Cherry Plum tree, probably the same
bird that I heard yesterday. Peter Milinets-Raby heard
6 Chiffchaffs singing during his Langstone walk this
morning (see below), so clearly the migrants have
Finally, Malcolm says,
"I know it is only the same Kingfisher but a
different view. I thought she was looking at me saying
'I am fed up with having my photo taken'". A bored
Kingfisher? Surely not.
Milinets-Raby walked along Wade Lane to the Langstone
Mill Pond this morning 10 am to Noon - high tide,
slowly trickling away. What a lovely spring morning!
However he came across . . . DISASTER: All the trees
along the western edge of Wade Lane itself (from the
A27 tunnel to the horse stables - at least 200 metres
worth) had been chopped down and burnt!!!!
Peter says, "I counted
17 substantial trees gone and many large hedges. The
noise from the A27 is now obviously much louder with
no vegetation to absorb the sound. And no Robins,
Dunnock and singing Song Thrush to be seen. How can
this be allowed to happen? A tidy up? More like a mass
extinction! Shame! It will take years for the hedges
and small trees to grow back to the height they were.
And what the digger is up to is anybody's guess! More
to do, perhaps?
Another moan - Warblington cemetery has also been
drastically tidied up with perimeter hedges cut down
and huge bramble bushes destroyed. It looks a bit
clean and clinical now. It has lost its birding charm
- again the small birds will be affected - Dunnock,
Wren, Robin etc.
Back to the birds: Wade Lane: 8 Magpie in one field, 1
Little Egret feeding, 1 Sparrowhawk over, Chiffchaff
singing, 2 Stock Dove, 2 Buzzard displaying and 2 high
up heading north.
Flooded Horse paddocks: 5 resting Little Egrets, 1
Grey Heron, 21 Moorhen, 44 Teal, 1 male Wheatear,
Chiffchaff singing, Male Green Woodpecker (see photo -
last bird I took a photo of was a female), 2 Mistle
Thrush (see Photo), 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Med Gulls over
Off Pook Lane: 222
Brent Geese, 14 Wigeon, 5 adult Common Gulls, 1 Great
Black-backed Gull, 3 Shelduck, 1 Black-tailed
Langstone Mill Pond: Grey Heron nests: Holm Oak: Top
nest the only one with action - Four very grown up
young flapping furiously and soon to leave! (see
photo). And an adult bird flew inn with a huge stick.
Are they planning another brood? Begging calls from
the lower Holm Oak nest. No activity from other two
2 Little Egrets and 2
Grey Herons roosting, 5 Chiffchaff singing and feeding
behind mill, Cetti's Warbler singing from bramble
clump on pond behind mill (possibly a new arrival -
hopefully it will stay), Mute Swan firmly on the nest
asleep, then pilling sticks in close to bulk up the
nest, 4 Med Gulls over north, 6 Meadow Pipit over
north, 2 Teal on pond, Reed Bunting male calling.
MARCH 17 - 2015
On the town
millpond this morning, the pair of Mute Swans was busy
trying to construct a nest in the same place as in the
last two years, near the road bridge already with an
It was not an easy job
for the swans due to an acute shortage of nesting
material, but the swans were sticking to their task
using twigs and other material. Last year their nest
was largely composed of litter, but following the big
litter pick over the past weekend there is barely a
scrap of litter to be seen on the pond. I will contact
the lady who said she would be providing reeds for the
nest to tell her the swans had started.
The second pair of swans were on the southern section
of the pond, not nesting as yet, though there are a
couple of promising spots, e.g. in the corner by the
old Mill House.
Over on Slipper Millpond the Mute Swan pair was on the
water with no clear signs of nest building. The centre
raft was occupied by Black-headed Gulls with no sign
of the Great Black-backed Gulls. Have they given up
this year, I wonder?
A line of
Common Whitlowgrass lines the edges of the pond along
Bridgefoot Path. This is not a grass as the name would
suggest, but a pretty white flower with deeply cleft
Brook Meadow I spotted a Chiffchaff actively feeding
in the blossom of the Cherry Plum tree on the
causeway. While I was trying to take some photos of
the bird, it started to sing its cheery 'chiff-chaff'
song, the first I have heard this year. I think there
is a good chance that this is an early summer visitor
rather than a wintering bird, though I have no proof.
However, the location, time and song are suggestive of
Phillips had a good day on Brook Meadow for
butterflies, Comma, Red Admiral and Peacock.
He also had a
Kingfisher and a Buzzard overhead. In the river
Malcolm had two Brown Trout, but no sign of the Pike.
Finally, Malcolm got a
nice photo of a Honey Bee feeding in the Cherry Plum
earlier observations go to . . March