. . from 2012 to current
SEPTEMBER 30 - 2015
I had my
regular constitutional walk around the millpond on a
beautiful sunny morning. The resident Mute Swan
family with 5 cygnets was present along with the
second swan pair a bit further to the south. They are
not allowed any closer. I suppose it will not be long
before the cygnets are driven off as is happening at
Langstone Mill Pond - see Peter Milinets-Raby report
below. However, I have not seen them flying yet.
The regular Little Egret was standing like a
sentinel on the edge of the channel near the small
fresh water outlet beneath the quay. This is a
favourite fishing spot for this bird.
11:30 - I had
another look for the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn at
about 2 hours to high water for the second day
running, but it did not show up again. I did find two
Greenshanks further out, including a colour-ringed
one, but they were disturbed by a man rowing his boat
and flew off towards Fowley island. No sign of any
Mute Swans today either. I could just make out a few
Shelduck and about 50 Teal in the distant main
the main concrete raised path from the end of
Warblington Road I spotted what looked like a very
dead Hornet lying on the ground being attacked
by a Common Wasp. I assumed it was a Hornet from its
size which was considerably larger than the wasp. The
Hornet was headless and appeared to have been well
savaged before I spotted it. How did this happen I
wonder. What would take on a Hornet? A large dragonfly
Malcolm Phillips was back on the meadow today. He got
a couple of nice photos.
The first is (I think) an immature Southern
Hawker. The other is an old favourite and easily
recognised as a Four-spot Spider (Araneus
quadratus). This spider varies a lot in colour
from pale to dark red like this one.
was up in the woods at Stansted again this morning and
came across a couple of real two beauties! Jill thinks
she has identified them correctly. The first is
False Death Cap (Amanita citrina)
which is found in woodland from midsummer to autumn.
Apparently, it smells of radish! It is not poisonous,
but can be confused with others which are very
poisonous, such as Destroying Angel and Death Cap.
The second one is
Horn of Plenty (Craterellus
cornucopioides) which I gather is a favourite
in restaurants where it is served stuffed. Personally,
I don't really fancy it! Jill hopes to find lots more
interesting fungi as the season progresses. Go for it
Milinets-Raby was down the Warblington shore this
morning 6:53am to 8:29am - very low tide, brisk east
wind, but alas clear blue skies:
Ibis Field: Blackcap female, 1 Goldcrest, 4
Moorhen, 1 Chiffchaff.
Conigar Point - Literally devoid of birds. Not
even a single gull. Very low tide:
However, after five minutes of arriving a head pops up
in one of the distant muddy gullies (in full
camouflage gear, complete with mask and long rifle -
very spooky!). Plus he had a hefty black Labrador on a
lead with him. No wonder there were no birds!! With
the lack of duck generally over the last couple of
weeks, I doubt if he even took aim this morning! He
wasn't talkative when he waded back to the shore. He
did however, flush a single Greenshank and a single
Redshank from one of the gullies.
Other birds noted were all migrating: 7 Pied Wagtails
over east, 40+ Swallows over east, 1 Goldcrest, 1
Chiffchaff and a Cetti's Warbler in the Tamarisk
Off Pook Lane: 6 Greenshank, 15 Little Egrets
feeding in the tiny trickle of water in the middle of
the channel, 7 Siskin over east, 2 Meadow Pipits over
east, 2 Chiffchaff and a young male Stonechat in the
hedge. In the channel the pair of Mute Swan were
chasing their six offspring and making them fly back
and forth along the channel. The male was very
aggressive at times. Looks like it is time to go
Cemetery: 1 Goldcrest, 4+ Chiffchaff.
SEPTEMBER 29 - 2015
10:30 - 11:30
- I went over to Nore Barn hoping to catch the Spotted
Redshank that Peter Milinets-Raby saw for the first
time this year on Sunday. The tide was rising and the
weather fine, but the bird just did not turn up. In
fact, nothing turned up apart from eight Mute Swans in
the stream and a few Shelduck and Teal further out. I
have noticed in previous years that the Spotted
Redshank takes some time to settle into a feeding
routine in the stream, so we need to be patient.
I walked over to Emsworth Railway Station to have a
look at the wayside to the north of the station. This
site was first adopted as a wayside in August 2012.
The wayside has areas which are currently dominated by
brambles which is not ideal, this however, I am told,
will be addressed when the late autumn cut is carried
out. But the wayside remains a rich area botanically
and today I noted a good number of plants in flower as
Michaelmas Daisies, Canadian Goldenrod,
Perforate St John's-wort, Wild Carrot, Hoary Ragwort,
Hedge Bindweed, Common Toadflax, American
Willowherb (?), Marsh Woundwort,
Bittersweet, Cat's-ear, Black Medick, Red
Bartsia, Meadow Vetchling, Guernsey Fleabane, Common
Fleabane, Bristly Ox-tongue, Yarrow, Tufted Vetch,
White Clover, Common Knapweed, Bramble, Red Clover.
A huge Bumblebee was
feeding on the Michaelmas Daisies. It was jet black
but for a red tail. My guess is a queen Bombus
lapidarius. Both Garden and Four-spot
Spiders were seen, the latter typically watching
its web from the edge.
Phillips went down the west side of Thorney Island
this morning and got a good selection of photos
including a Redshank in flight showing clearly how it
got its name. Other sightings included a Meadow Pipit,
a Goldfinch on Teasel and a Small Copper.
SEPTEMBER 28 - 2015
I got up at
about 2.30am this morning to watch the dramatic
eclipse of the so-called 'super moon'. The eclipse was
just starting when I got up and was complete by about
3.15am. It was interesting to see the gradual increase
in hue of the blood red disk as the white crescent got
progressively smaller. Also, it was noticeable how
dark the night became as the moon dulled. I took some
photos but my simple camera could not cope. Here is my
best effort from towards the end of the first stage of
phenomenon occurs when the moon is full at its perigee
- the closest part of its orbit around Earth, meaning
it appears larger in the sky. This particular
combination of supermoon and eclipse had not occurred
since 1982 - and since it will not be repeated until
2033, I thought I should get in while the going is
Environment Agency was present this morning doing
their annual clearance of vegetation in the Westbrook
Stream. Sadly, they cut down the lovely Bulrushes
which could easily have been left. However, the
clearance is necessary to keep the stream running
Mute Swan family of two adults and 5 cygnets
(including the white 'Polish' swan) was on the town
millpond. Here is a shot of the cygnets which are now
almost as big as their parents and looking very
healthy. What a change from the puny broods of
previous years on the pond. I think the supply of
reeds for the nest made the big difference.
The cob was engaged in
its now regular activity of sparring with the cob of
the visiting Mute Swan pair near the end of Nile
Street, but with no overt aggression.
The male Mallards now
have their bright plumage back after moulting for the
past couple of months.
I had a walk
round the meadow late morning where I met Malcolm
Phillips who was looking forward to his Cuba trip in a
week's time. Malcolm showed me where to look for the
Pike in the river north of the gasholder. I would
never have spotted it without Malcolm's help as only
the bent tail could be seen.
I walked back via
Peter Pond and the Lillywhite's path where I noticed
Japanese Knotweed with red spots on a few of
its leaves - probably a fungal infection.
Phillips got some good images of local wildlife today,
including a handsome Brown Trout, a Grey Wagtail and a
couple of butterflies.
Admiral and Speckled Wood
SEPTEMBER 27 - 2015
Milinets-Raby walked the shore from Emsworth to
Langstone Mill Pond (6:40am to 10:35am - tide slowly
moving in). Here are his observations:
Emsworth Harbour (from 6:40am): 42 Black-tailed
Godwit, 151 Canada Geese (half the flock left after 10
minutes and flew over Thorney Island - partially
white-headed bird amongst them), 1 Greylag Goose
amongst them. Siskin Heard flying over on three
occasions, 5 Coot, 1 Greenshank, 5 Little Egrets, 26
Turnstone, 1 Peregrine sitting on red channel
marker post, 1 Sand Martin over, 2 House Martin over,
3 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Grebe.
Emsworth Mill Pond: 3 adult Mute Swan and 5
juvs (Polish included), 7 Coot.
Off Pond outflow (from 7:15am): 2 Meadow Pipit
over, 20 Grey Plover, 5 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank.
Beacon Square (from 7:24am): 4 Swallow over, 1
Grey Plover, 2 Chiffchaff in gardens.
Nore Barn (from 7:38am): 8 Black-tailed Godwit
(including one in the stream), Siskin heard going
over, then 3 over north, 2 Meadow Pipit over, 8
Long-tailed Tits with 1 Chiffchaff in gardens.
1 Greenshank (G//R+GL//-) feeding in stream with . . .
. . . . . . 1 Spotted Redshank (very spotty
along the edge of the wings and tail end - see
photos). Probably the old faithful - a bit
note on the Spotted Redshank : Yes, This is almost
certainly the famous Emsworth Spotted Redshank back in
the Nore Barn stream for the 12th winter running. You
can't really tell from the appearance, though the
behaviour is exactly what we would expect, feeding in
the stream with Greenshank G+GL, which has been its
regular feeding companion for many years. As Peter
says, it is early. In fact, this is the earliest date
on record, though the first sighting dates have been
getting earlier year by year. Last year it was Oct
(from 8:06am): 1 Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler heard
singing distantly from cress beds, 77+ House Martin
over north, Skylark Heard going over, 1 Stock Dove, 2
Moorhen, Female Blackcap, 1 Sparrowhawk.
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 2
Conigar Point (from 8:25am): 5 Chiffchaff in
Tamarisk Hedge with 5+ Great Tit and 4+ Blue Tit and
male Blackcap, Skylark heard going over, 2 Grey
Plover, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, Siskin heard going
over, 17 House Martins heading north.
Off Pook Lane (from 8:40am): 2 Grey Plover, 1
Dunlin, 14 Teal, 3 Greenshank, 6 House Martins over
north, Siskin 3 + 3 going over west, Skylark heard
going over, 1 Meadow Pipit, 204 Redshank, 9 Canada
Geese west over Hayling Bridge, Yellow Wagtail 2 over
east, 114 Oystercatcher on island in middle of
channel, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit.
Langstone Mill Pond (from 9:02am): 4 roosting
Grey Heron, Cetti's Warbler singing, 3+ Chiffchaff, 1
Teal, Female Mallard and tiny duckling hanging in
there!!!! 3 Swallow over, 9 House Martin north, 35+
Goldfinch, 6+ Redpoll dropped in to the Alders for two
minutes then moved on, Grey Wagtail in Horse paddock
Castle Farm (field by
barn and along the hedge: 110+ Goldfinch feeding on
thistle in field - spectacular flights, 2 Whinchat
(see photo), 1 Stonechat.
at Hampshire Farm
fairly common sightings in our local area these days.
However, it is not often one gets such a good view of
one as Chris Oakley got yesterday in the plantation on
the Hampshire Farm site. As can be seen from Chris's
photo, the bird is balancing on one of the tree
support tubes by hanging on with its hind claws.
SEPTEMBER 25 - 2015
Phillips spent a couple of hours around Brook Meadow
and Peter Pond today. He expressed some disappointment
with his photos - 'not my best', but for me they are
still pretty good. The male Kingfisher was on the
table by the reeds on Peter Pond. The Crane-fly is
probably a female Tipula oleracea.
has had three Chaffinches in his garden in the past
few months, each with badly deformed feet and wondered
if other people had noticed similar deformities. As a
chicken keeper, he has come across a complaint in
poultry know as 'scaly leg', caused by mites that live
under the leg scales. Chris says, it can be treated
quite effectively but in the wild it would be inclined
to spread. He has not seen it in other birds that come
to the garden, just Chaffinches.
The RSPB has a useful
page on their web site about disease and deformities
in birds. See . . .
They say that foot deformities in finches are normally
caused either by Chaffinch viral papilloma or by
burrowing mites that cause cnemidocoptiasis. Both of
these show up as pale, crusty growths on the feet of
the affected bird. Neither condition is
life-threatening, although they can cause visible
SEPTEMBER 24 - 2015
I had a walk
through the fields behind Westbourne Avenue this
afternoon, mainly to check on the Oak trees that Dave
Lee has been recently measuring for age. On the way I
was pleased to see a fine flowering of Russian
Vine in the hedge at the bottom of Seagull Lane
There is an equally
fine showing of bright red leaves of Virginia
Creeper further along the track towards the
I was curious to find
just one solitary bullock grazing the grass,
and completely ignoring the abundant Common Ragwort,
in the first field north of the road.
Here is the now
truncated fallen Oak in the centre of the main
As well as removing
most of its branches by chain-saw the fellers painted
on symbols on the main trunk which I do not
understand. Anyone got any idea what they mean?
I last aged the Oak
trees in the Westbourne fields in 1994 when most were
around 110 years. This roughly agrees with Dave's
current estimate of 130-140 years 20 years later. I
will do a fuller report comparing the two studies in a
Milinets-Raby was down at Langstone Mill Pond this
morning as the tide was falling 10:14am to 11:50am.
Here are the highlights.
Pond: On arrival two little Mallard ducklings were
swimming around on the Swan free pond, looking as cute
as ever. Whilst I was busy with searching through the
waders, the family of Mute Swans with the juveniles
startting to show white in their plumage walked over
the mud and entered into the pond. When I wandered
back passed the pond, one of the ducklings was
floating in the water dead. The female Mallard was
calling to it and twice swam up to it and pecked it.
The other duckling said 'goodbye' to its sibling (see
photo) then dashed off to get some bread, tussling
with the Coot and Mallard. The Mute Swan family
slinked over and the female and duckling slipped into
the reeds and out of sight.
Elsewhere on the pond:
37 Collared Dove roosting, 8 Teal, Cetti's Warbler
singing frequently, 5+ Chiffchaff (see photo), 8
Swallow over, 15+ Goldfinch in Alders with 3+ Siskins
feeding on Alder cones (see photo), 1 Meadow Pipit
Off shore as the tide
dropped: 4 Sandwich Tern in winter plumage, 10
Greenshank (G//R+YR//- & B//R+GR//-), 5 Dunlin, 48
Lapwing, 226 Redshank (one of my best counts - helped
by a Peregrine dashing across the marsh and herding
them together! (11 with colour rings -//B+B//OY &
-//B+B//RY & -//B+B//YY & -//B+B//WW &
-//B+B//RO & -//B+B//GW & -//B+B//BN &
-//B+B//LG & -//B+B//OO & -//B+B//NY &
Flooded horse paddock: 15 Teal, 1 Kingfisher dashed
across the paddock and headed towards the pond.
results about Blackcaps were published today by the
BTO. Since the 1950s, Blackcaps breeding in southern
Germany and Austria have increasingly migrated to
Britain for the winter rather than taking the
traditional route to wintering grounds in southern
Spain. As a result, we have seen a rapid increase in
the number of Blackcaps wintering in Britain over the
past 60 years, such that the species is now a familiar
visitor to garden feeding stations across the
This change in behaviour has coincided with the wider
introduction of commercial wild bird foods. Kate
Plummer, using BTO Garden BirdWatch data, has shown
that supplementary feeding in British gardens is one
factor in the recent evolution of Blackcap migratory
behaviour. Another important factor is the milder
winters in Britain, which have led to better survival
rates for the Blackcaps choosing to winter here.
The increasing association with supplementary food
over time suggests that Blackcaps are adapting their
feeding habits to exploit human-provisioned foods.
This complements recent evidence that those Blackcaps
migrating to Britain in winter are diverging
phenotypically, as well as genetically, from those
that winter in Spain. Blackcaps wintering in Britain
have relatively narrower and longer beaks than those
wintering in Spain, suggesting that British migrants
have adapted to a more generalist diet. This is the
first time that garden bird feeding has been shown to
affect large-scale bird distributions. For more
details see . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-3OB2A-3UEDCR-1S3G59-0/c.aspx
SEPTEMBER 23 - 2015
at Up Marden
I decided go
to Up Marden this morning to have a look at the rare
plants of Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
that Heather Mills found during Saturday's walk by the
Havant Wildlife Group. I found them fairly easily
following Heather's directions. From the parking area
next to the barn near the church I walked down the
main track towards Compton until the footpath turned
left. The plants were on the corner of the Sweetcorn
crop, where one path goes left and the other goes
right. Grid Ref: SU 79438 14170
I found just two
plants in flower though there could well have been
more hidden amongst the corn stalks. One was large
with two stems each having a row of developing
Here is a close-up
shot of the flowers.
The BSBI New Atlas
describes Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) as
an 'Archaeophyte' and says there is a continuous
archaeological record of it in Britain from the Bronze
Age onwards. But declines in the plant before 1930
were evident in the 1962 Atlas and have continued
markedly since then, mostly through the increased use
of herbicides. As an archaeophyte H. niger has a
Eurosiberian Southern-temperate distribution, but it
is widely naturalised so that it is now Circumpolar
I checked the New Flora of the Sussex Botanical
Recording Society Atlas and found that
Hyoscyamus niger is recorded in for
Tetrad SU71X - so these plants are probably known. The
Hants Flora describes it as 'rare'.
Like its relative Deadly Nightshade, Henbane is highly
poisonous. I gather that in 1910 Dr Crippen used a
chemical derived from Henbane to murder his wife.
Historically, small amounts of Henbane have also been
used medicinally to treat various disorders.
I noted a variety of
other plants growing around the Sweetcorn at Up
Marden, including Black Nightshade and
Fool's Parsley with its conspicuous bracteoles
hanging down from the umbels. Quite a little botanical
Meadow - Flood defence update
provides an update on the Environment Agency work on
the flood defences on the bund between the south
meadow and the garden of Gooseberry Cottage.
(information from Maurice Lillie)
"Last weekend we managed to dodge the weather and
finished the bottom layer. As you understand it has
become very wet in the meadows at the moment and we
will struggle to go back and finish the second layer.
Keeping in mind that we don't want to create any
"mess" in the meadows we will leave the bottom layer
and will monitor it over the winter months and if
needed we can go back in Feb/March to finish the top
layer. The bank seems in good condition and we are
expecting that with your new footpath running next to
toe of the bank will give us opportunity to monitor
the condition of the bank more frequently. At the
moment, considering the condition of the bank I think
we need the second layer but as I said earlier we will
still monitor the condition over the winter and will
make a decision in Feb 2016. The works on screen
replacement are going to start at the end of this
Dave Lee has
returned to measure the age of the other dead, but
still standing, Oak tree at the Westbourne end of the
field behind Westbourne Avenue - see his previous
aging of the other oaks in this field in yesterday's
blog. He found it was also about 130 years old, which
probably means that both the dead oaks were planted
together. As they are both in isolated positions you
would think that they would still be healthy growing
trees, but sadly not.
Milinets-Raby was out this morning for a walk along
the Warblington shore (6:50am to 8:45am - it was a
glorious morning. High Tide).
Warblington Cemetery at sunrise (see photo): 1
Yellow Wagtail over north, Chiffchaff heard, 3
Swallows over north, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Goldcrest,
1 Grey Wagtail over. Male & female Pheasant.
Off Pook Lane:
Kingfisher on the posts by Pook Lane, all
morning and giving wonderful views and photo
opportunities, female Red Breasted Merganser,
Roosting on the island
in the middle of the channel were 19 Lapwing, 2 Brent
Geese, 87 Oystercatcher, 132 Redshank, 2 Greenshank
(G//R+BRtag//-), 2 Sandwich Terns and 5 Dunlin. Meadow
Pipit heard going over several times. Siskin heard
going over on three occasions.
Langstone Mill Pond: 5 roosting Grey Heron and
7 Little Egrets, 11+ Swallows passing over, 10 House
Martins passing over, 1 Grey Wagtail over, 30+
Goldfinch feeding in Alders with 6 noisy Siskin, 5+
Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1
Cetti's Warbler seen well singing, 2 Teal. AND, alas a
33% decrease in the tiny ducklings - The female
Mallard now only has two! The Mute Swan family were
off shore, but again only 3 juvs. Where do the other
three hang out?
SEPTEMBER 22 - 2015
10:00 - 10:30
- Not a nice morning for harbour watching with a
strong wind blowing into my face and rain in the air.
However, I gave it a go for 30 mins or so on the
marina seawall. The tide was falling from high water
Lots of Redshank were in the harbour as on my
previous visit last week. I did not count them
accurately, but I estimated at least 130. There were
also a few Greenshank rushing around in typical
fashion making it difficult to see the colour-rings on
their legs. I identified two of them:
RG+BY tag - This bird was ringed and fitted
with a geo locator on Thorney Island by Pete Potts and
his team on 13-Mar-13. It is regular in Emsworth
Harbour, but this was my first sighting of it this
G+LY - I have no information or previous
records of this bird. Maybe it is recently ringed?
Phillips did not get much in the way of wildlife
today, but he did capture a great view of a slightly
misty River Ems looking south from the S-bend on Brook
Since I wrote
about the fallen Oak tree in the field behind
Westbourne Avenue in this blog on Aug 18, Dave Lee has
been to have a look at it and says it has fallen prey
to the 'eco warriors who are saving the planet by
their use of wood burning stoves'. However, he thinks
the main trunk will probably elude them unless they
can acquire a particularly large saw to cut it up.
Let's hope they don't as there must be plenty of
wildlife living in its crevices. Referring to the
Woodland Trust website regarding the age measurement
of Oak trees, Dave has measured the circumference of
the fallen oak 1.5m above ground height, at 3m 15cms.
This would put its at around 140 yrs old. Here is my
original photo of the tree on Aug 18th, though I
suspect most of the limbs that were then present will
have been removed.
Dave has estimated the
ages of nine other Oaks which are aligned along the
original footpath that ran through the fields from
Emsworth to Westbourne. They range between 80 years
to, the daddy of them all at the Westbourne end which
has a girth of 5m 06cms which makes it 306 years old.
Dave still has two Oaks to measure but they are
surrounded by brambles. One of the two is another
"dead" oak. I have asked Dave to let us know their
ages if he manages to measure them.
Dave pointed out there
is a BBC program 'Timestudy of a year in the life of
an oak tree' on Saturday 26 September that should be
couldn't understand what a Wood Pigeon was finding so
fascinating in the Hydrangea flowers in his garden,
until he spotted that the sunflower seed feeder above,
was being used by a Greenfinch and the spilled seeds
were falling into the flower heads. The pigeon had
obviously spotted this and taken advantage of the
is not one of the tagged Cuckoos but one taken on the
overhead cables on North Thorney
The tagging of
Cuckoos by the BTO which started in 2011 has been a
great success and much has been learned about their
migration routes and wintering grounds. Currently,
most of the 11 remaining active Cuckoos seem to be
making their way across the Sahara Desert. One or two
appear to have reached their destination. For example,
Stanley, tagged at Cranwich Heath, Norfolk, on 31 May
2014 is now in northern Cameroon. It is interesting to
see that they all travel as individuals, not
For latest news go to . . . http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking
However, there is no sign of Chris (the one that was
named after Chris Packham) and is presumed dead. There
is a nice piece in celebration of Chris' journey at .
. . http://bto-enews.org/IG4-3OFFR-3RN36S-1RTPH0-0/c.aspx
newsletter of the Friends of Nore Barn Woods announced
the death of Bruce Darby. Bruce was co-founder of the
Nore Barn Woods group in 2002 and chairman until 2014.
He was also a long-standing supporter of the Brook
Meadow Conservation Group.
SEPTEMBER 21 - 2015
walk round the town millpond revealed the presence of
a second Mute Swan pair - probably the same pair that
were competing with the resident pair for nesting
territory earlier in the year. As before, the cobs of
the two pairs were circling around one another with
wings arched without coming to blows. I suspect the
second pair are making an early bid for territory for
next year. This clearly is a good nesting spot with
the resident pair having successfully raised 5 healthy
cygnets this year. But it will be a tough job trying
to oust them.
Milinets-Raby popped down to Langstone Mill Pond this
morning from 10am to 10:47am when the rain
Langstone Mill Pond: No sign of the Wigeon reported
from Ralph Hollins's web site. Female Mallard still
with 3 tiny ducklings. There is hope!!! Cetti's
Warbler singing frequently, 17+ Swallows swooping low
across the water and drinking, 9 Teal.
Off shore: 5 Common Gull, 3 Sandwich Tern, 2 Grey
Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Greenshank (three with
rings G//R+BRtag//- & G//R+YN//- &
G///R+LN//-), 14 Dunlin.
The BTO the
Sussex BBS population trends from 1995 to 2014 have
been published and can be viewed on the web site at .
. . . http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/bbs/latest-results/trend-graphs
They make very interesting reading. Here are some of
the more notable trends that caught my eye.
Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat - three regular
summer visitors are doing well.
Goldfinch - massive garden increase.
Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Jay,
Pheasant, Red Kite, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Tree
Increase to 2005
and then sharp decline
Chaffinch, Greenfinch - probably due to
Collared Dove - not surprising. They have declined in
my garden too.
House Martin - not surprising. I have not seen any
nesting in Emsworth for years.
Grey Heron, Rook, Coot, Moorhen - not sure of the
reason for this decline.
Steady decline with
a recent upturn
Nightingale, Cuckoo - Good news
Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Kestrel, Linnet, Pied
Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Little Owl, Mistle
Thrush, Skylark, Swift, Turtle Dove, Willow Tit, Wood
Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Yellowhammer.
SEPTEMBER 20 - 2015
As it was such
a beautiful autumn morning, after watching my youngest
grandson playing football for the Castle United Under
8s at the Rowlands Castle Rec, I stopped off at
Hollybank Woods on the way home for a stroll. These
woods are quite magical at this time of the year with
the low sun slanting though the trees.
I did the circular
walk on the western side of the main track which was
in very good condition considering the recent heavy
rain. The tracks are not being churned up by horse
riders as they used to be in the old days. I had a
lovely encounter with a young Roe Deer on the
southern section of the walk. We stood looking at each
other and I wondered if it would tolerate my getting
the camera out of my bag. It did and I got a few nice
shots of it before it moved away.
There was not much
activity on the bird front except for the raucous song
of the Woodpigeon and the wistful autumn song of the
Robin I also heard a Buzzard calling over head. I did
not see much in the way of Holly berries. Maybe it is
a poor year?
I had a look at the newly coppiced area to the east
and west of the main path where new Sweet Chestnut
shoots are growing among the standard trees. Logs are
stacked up for sale? The conservation group are doing
a fine job of management.
While walking through
the coppiced area I noticed several little groups of
puff-ball type fungi which resembled baked potatoes in
various stages of disintegration. I think are Scaly
Earthballs (Scleroderma verrucosum)
They have solid rounded caps with a leathery skin and
scales. On the older specimens the caps have curved in
at the centre producing an irregularly shaped
This fungus is
generally considered as at best inedible and suspect.
They are usually found growing on well drained, sandy
soil or dry humus-rich soil under hardwood trees. The
season is July to early December in Britain and
I returned through the
eastern section going past the Lawton seat and along
the northern path adjacent to the road. It was there I
found Yellow Pimpernel in flower (May-Sep, so
not particularly late), Bluebell leaves ready
for flowering in the spring, unidentified lichen
on small logs and masses of what I think might be
Creeping Feather-moss (Amblystegium
we had this cracking Red Admiral feeding on the
Michaelmas Daisies in the garden. What a beauty. I
hope this is one of the few that finds somewhere warm
to survive the British winter.
Milinets-Raby was up at the crack of dawn to do his
monthly Emsworth to Warblington wander (6:40am to
9:15am). A very valuable service too, Peter. Thanks.
Emsworth Harbour from Emsworth Mill Pond (from
6:40am) - tide high, but dropping - Sunrise at 6:47am
1 Little Grebe, 1
Greenshank, 6 Mute Swan (one juvenile), 16
Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Egrets, 3 Dunlin, 2
Turnstone, 4 Grey Plover, 1 Great Black-backed
Emsworth Mill Pond: 1 Chiffchaff in Tamarisk at
edge of mill pond, 2 Kingfishers dashing around
chasing each other low over the water in
butterfly-like flight - fascinating to watch as they
zipped close to me on several occasions. 4 adult Mute
Swan and 5 juveniles (polish still present).
Beacon Square (from 7:12am): 37 Teal, 1
Black-tailed Godwit, Chiffchaff in back gardens.
Nore-Barn-in-the-Fog (from 7:23am - fog rolled
in and reduced visibility to less than 60 metres!!!):
3 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Teal, 1 Chiffchaff , 2
Redshank in stream, 1 Greenshank in stream
Conigar Point (from 7:55am - low tide - still
foggy): 8 Teal, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, Siskin
Heard going over, 5 Grey Plover, 4 Chiffchaff in
Tamarisk Hedge along with a Willow Warbler, 3 Pied
Wagtails over heading south.
Off Pook Lane (from 8:15am - fog lifting
eventually at 8:40am): 1 autumn male Stonechat
- the first I have seen in the area - however, a
regular 'walker' that I often bump into, commented on
their being two of them yesterday! (see photos).
Siskin heard going
over, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Common Gull, 2 Black-tailed
Godwit, Yellow Wagtail heard going over, 79+ Swallows
heading south, 1 Sand Martin heading south, 1 Ringed
Plover, 1 Dunlin. 2 Greenshank. 2 Meadow Pipit heading
south, 4 Stock Dove.
Peter also had 3 Green
Sandpiper on the Hermitage Stream seen from the bridge
along Barncroft Road on the way home. Very nice!
Phillips was out on the meadow as usual but did not
see much apart from a Kingfisher flying up and down
the river and this fearsome looking Pike in the
SEPTEMBER 19 - 2015
Phillips had a quick look at the harbour at the bottom
of South Street this morning and spotted this
Greenshank feeding in the low water channel.
Greenshank are fairly common birds in the harbour, but
seeing one without rings on its legs is quite unusual
Malcolm then went
round Brook Meadow and got this excellent image of a
male Kestrel in flight over the trees with a
pure blue sky in the background.
sent me a report on this morning's walk by the Havant
Wildlife Group around Up Marden. Only four people
braved the cold start, but they got a real treat with
over 100 Red-legged Partridges in the fields and a
couple of Red Kites flying over head. Derek Mills got
this cracking picture of one of them.
They also discovered
an unusual plant in a field of Sweetcorn which looks
suspiciously like Henbane from the photo.
Henbane is sticky hairy plant with a foul smell and
rather sinister-looking flowers. It was introduced to
Britain in the Bronze Age, but is now listed as
vulnerable. Like its relative Deadly Nightshade,
Henbane is highly poisonous. I gather that in 1910 Dr
Crippen used a chemical derived from Henbane to murder
his wife. Historically, small amounts of Henbane have
also been used medicinally to treat various disorders.
SEPTEMBER 18 - 2015
11:00 - 11:30
- I got down to the marina seawall by 11am at which
point the tide was rising to high water in about 4
hours. The conditions were good with light wind and
The first bird I noticed was a Wheatear
bouncing along the seawall with its white rear end
showing well. There was no chance of a photo, but here
is one I got a few years ago. This will be a bird on
passage moving south to its wintering grounds in
tropical Africa from its breeding grounds, probably in
North England or Scotland. Peter Milinets-Raby also
had a Wheatear at Langstone this morning, so maybe
there is a wave passing through.
I was very pleased to
see the seawall at the far end of the marina has been
cleared of rubbish and has been flattened out, making
it far more convenient for setting up one's scope to
view the eastern harbour. Redshank were by far
the most numerous wader in the harbour - they were
everywhere. I counted 192, though there could be more
hidden behind the boats. Here are a few of them.
Redshank do tend to
build up at this time of the year, presumably from a
new wave of migrants. My record Redshank count for
Emsworth was 200 in October 2009.
Godwits were not nearly as numerous. I counted
just 38 among which was one colour-ringed bird: LY+RO
- This bird has been a fairly regular visitor to
Emsworth Harbour each year since its ringing in
Iceland in 2003. This was my second sighting in
Emsworth this autumn. It has also been seen Pagham,
Fareham, Farlington, Avon Valley, Ireland, France and
Other birds included 2
Dunlin - the first I have seen this autumn in Emsworth
- and 1 Whimbrel. There was no sign of any Brent Geese
which have been seen in the past week in Langstone.
However, Peter Milinets-Raby had some at Langstone
this morning, so maybe they are moving our way.
11:45 - 12:15
- The tide was still well out by the time I got over
to Nore Barn with very few birds to be seen. The
regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL was snoozing in
the lower stream along with 3 Black-tailed Godwits. 19
Teal were in the main channel, my first of the autumn,
plus 5 Shelduck. I waited around for 30 mins or so,
but there was no change apart from a Lesser
Black-backed Gull which turned up.
Phillips got a good selection of photos from his visit
to Brook Meadow today as shown below: Blue Tit,
Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit and Garden Spider.
Milinets-Raby was out this morning to walk along the
Warblington shore (6:33am to 8:41am). He said there
was a distinct whiff of migration in the air.
Ibis Field: Male Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, Cetti's
Warbler heard briefly singing, 4 Moorhen, 11 female
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Stock
Dove, 1 Goldcrest, 4 Siskin flew over south.
Conigar Point: 1 Greenshank (G//RR+GO//-), Common Tern
juv, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Knot, Peregrine flew over
heading to the Oyster beds.
Tamarisk Hedge: 3 Chiffchaff, Female Blackcap.
Off Pook Lane: 12 Brent Geese (Nice to see them
back - obviously wandered up from Chichester Harbour),
3 Dunlin, 1 Grey Plover, 5 Teal, 8+ Yellow Wagtails
over (Heard, six and two), 33 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1
Greenshank, female/juvenile type Wheatear (see
photo), 12+ Swallows.
Langstone Mill Pond:
7+ Chiffchaff (one singing), Female Blackcap,
Flooded Horse paddock: 3 female and 1 male Blackcap, 1
Chiffchaff, 4 Moorhen, 1 Meadow Pipit.
was in Stansted woods this afternoon with a friend
looking for fungi and they found this peculiar one. It
reminded her of a Stinkhorn though without the awful
smell. Having consulted her book, Jill identified it
as Dog Stinkhorn which is 'smaller, more
slender, and with a less powerful smell than
Stinkhorn'. It grows to 10cm high though the one in
Jill's picture seems to have fallen over under its own
weight. Nice one Jill.
SEPTEMBER 17 - 2015
Meadow work session
A very nice
morning after the rain. There was a good turn out for
the regular conservation work session of 10. We were
pleased to see Michelle Good from HBC who had come to
put new plastic barrier on the broken fencing on the
bridge, but stayed on to do some work!
The main job for the
morning was preparing the ground and sowing the seeds
from the ecologists in the experimental wildflower
area on the north meadow. They were Common Knapweed,
Corky-fruited Water-dropwort and Meadow Barley. We
were too late for the Yellow Rattle seeds, so Maurice
obtained some locally. This went all well and everyone
really liked the idea of doing something positive with
a definite practical objective. We shall have to see
how it turns out.
The area designated
for the sowing had already been cut, so the first job
was to rake off the arisings and remove them to the
cuttings tip in the north-east corner. When this was
done, Wally used the brush cutter to scarify 30 small
areas in the selected plot for the seeds to be sown.
It will be a good idea to cut the whole area again in
early winter and possibly again in early spring to
give the seedlings a better chance to grow. Just
disturbing the soil might help to bring up new plants
that we don't normally get here. I checked the plants
currently growing on the north meadow and they
included Tall Fescue, Hogweed, Common Fleabane,
Cocksfoot, Greater Plantain, Creeping Thistle, Common
Nettle, Great Willowherb, Bristly Ox-tongue,
Amphibious Bistort, Bramble.
I checked the
Alder sapling which I found infested with the larvae
of the Hazel Sawfly (Croesus
septentrionalis) yesterday. It was in a pretty
sorry state with about half its leaves gone, however,
there was no sign of any larvae which was amazing
considering I counted at least 50 on the tree only
yesterday. Maybe the heavy rain washed them off?
While I was
taking photos of the work session a chap named Bill
Dean introduced himself. He was interested in the
wildlife on the meadow, as he had been involved in
surveying nature reserves and was particularly
interested in hoverflies. So we went on a little walk
around to see what we could find. Bill had already
noticed the wasps around the Osiers and had also seen
a Hornet, but did not get a photo. He spotted an
insect near the wasp's nest that was parasitic on
wasps, but I cannot remember what he called it. Bill
only used scientific terminology!
On the way round the
Lumley area we found a couple of flies on the
Pepper-saxifrage which Bill said were Sphaerophoria
scripta (Long Hoverfly). He said there were both male
and female present. I think I got a photo of the
female as the male's body is longer than its wings; in
the female the wings are the same length as the body.
If you want to see
Bill's 876 photos of insects then go to . . .
. . .
Milinets-Raby popped down the Langstone Mill Pond this
morning from 10am for one hour. The highlights were as
Langstone Mill Pond: 2 Chiffchaff and a single Reed
Warbler feeding in the Weeping Willow by the small
bridge (see photo). 4 Little Egrets & 2 Grey
Herons roosting. 6 Swallow & 2 House Martins over,
Female Mallard (looking like a female Garganey) with 3
very tiny ducklings (probably only a day or two old -
so timid). How long will they survive?
The Mute Swan family
(with six cygnets) were off shore in the creek by the
pub, but they will be back on the pond for the weekend
rush of children bringing bread. Poor ducklings. I
think we should open a betting book on their survival!
I give them a 10% survival rate. The cob Mute Swan has
a good extermination record!
Flooded Horse Paddock: 2 Chiffchaff, 1 autumn male
Redstart perched on the fence posts at the rear, Fox
(looks a bit young in the photo).
Off shore (tide out):
16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin, 3 Turnstone, 1 Common
Gull, 2 Greenshank, 14 Teal, 4 winter plumaged
Sandwich Tern roosting on the mud.
got this lifer during a trip to Labrador Bay in South
Devon 2 days ago. Not a bird we are likely to see
around these parts, but regular in parts of Devon.
This looks like a juvenile or moulting bird as there
is no sign of its distinctive head pattern. Not all
that easy to separate from a similar Yellowhammer.
earlier observations go to . . September