. . from 2012 to current
DECEMBER 26 - 2015
Phillips says one day inside is enough for him at
Christmas, so he was back out on Brook Meadow again
this morning with his camera. His best birds was a
pair of Goldcrests which provided good photo
opportunities. On the left below is what is probably a
male with its crest raised. Malcolm also got some
shots of Long-tailed Tits.
Malcolm also noted the
first blossom on the Cherry Plum tree on the causeway
and a Lesser Celandine on the river bank just north of
the gas holder. There are several Lesser Celandine
flowers open on the grass verge at the southern
entrance to Bridge Road car park. They are certainly
early this 'spring'.
Fungus at Nore Barn
Kingsmith spotted a Earthstar fungus in the northern
woods at Nore Barn on Christmas Day. It is a bit old,
but certainly worth recording as they are not common;
in fact, this is the first Earthstar I recall in the
Nore Barn area. Initially like a pointed Puffball the
thick fleshy outer skin splits in lobes which open
flat in a star-like pattern as shown in Barry's photo.
DECEMBER 23 - 2015
Phillips was up early this morning to see the sun rise
over the harbour from the millpond seawall.
While he was there he
got a nice shot of the male-female pair of
Red-breasted Mergansers on the millpond.
There was no sign of
the Mergansers when I walked round the pond later this
morning, though I did find four Cormorants
perched prominently on a raft structure near the
Slipper Mill Sailing club building.
My attention was
attracted by two very noisy Common Gulls which
appeared to be doing some pair bonding with each
other. Their dark bills and grey patchy heads and
necks suggest immature birds, probably 2nd winters.
They could be pair bonding for nesting in the spring?
Here is a link to a
short video clip on YouTube . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnxfotds6Eg
went round Brook Meadow where he spotted
Kingfishers in 5 different places but only
managed one photo looking north from the south bridge.
At the top end of Peter Pond he saw a cracking male
on Baffins Pond
says a pair of Shovelers have been on the on the pond
for a few weeks but to-day they were close enough to
get a few shots. They are superb ducks and Baffins
Pond is the best place locally to see them well.
Numbers may build up to over 50 in winter - if it ever
took his camera around Farlington Marshes today and
got some really nice photos. One was a male Marsh
Harrier in flight, showing its distinctive
tricoloured upper wings and rufous belly.
Colin also got this
beautiful photo of one of the Short-eared Owls
that have been a feature at Farlington Marshes this
DECEMBER 22 - 2015
showers, I had a stroll through Brook Meadow this
afternoon down as far as Peter Pond. I was interested
to see a spanking new seat installed on the south
embankment of the pond right next to the old one. The
inscription says 'In memory of George and Audrey
Phillips - Lumley was their home'. I do not know the
Phillips's, but I met my friend Isobel Hilton who was
passing. Isobel lives on Lumley Road and knew Audrey
well and said what a nice lady she was. The lone Mute
Swan was on the pond immediately in front of the
seats, hopefully one of a pair for next spring's
This set me wondering
when, if ever, the interpretation board that was
vandalised some years ago, will ever be replaced. It
was an excellent board that I helped to design along
with Elisabeth Kinloch, the pond's owner, and Marian
Forster the artist.
Here is a photo from my archives of the ceremony for
the installation of the board on 17 March 2000.
Elisabeth Kinloch is on the far left, David Gattrell
who still manages Peter Pond fourth from the left and
Marian Forster second from the right. The lady at the
front was from the Brent Lodge Wildlife Santuary, but
her name escapes me.
DECEMBER 21 - 2015
Phillips walked round the town millpond yesterday and
got a cracking photo of one of the Pied Wagtails that
can often be seen flitting around the edges of the
pond, particularly near dusk.
Malcolm also had a
look around the meadow where he got this cracking
photo of a Blue Tit.
is a photo of a Marsh Harrier quartering the marshes
at Thorney Island
Milinets-Raby was down Langstone Mill Pond this
morning (from 10:15am to 11:57am - tide going out and
very windy and dull.
On the pond: 4 Teal, All four Grey Heron nests
occupied as per my last visit. 56+ Goldfinch flock
with a male Siskin amongst them.
Flooded Horse paddock: 4 Grey Herons, 4 Little Egrets,
99 Teal, 22 Moorhen, 2 Oystercatcher.
Off shore: 11 Red Breasted Merganser, 3 Great Crested
Grebe, 7 Teal, 8 Common Gull, 10 Wigeon, 263 Dunlin, 8
Grey Plover, 3 Golden Plover west down the channel, 2
Greenshank, 8 Knot, 9 Shelduck with 31 off Conigar
Point, 2 female and 1 male Goldeneye, 6 Black-tailed
70 Brent Geese, then after gun shots heard to
scare the flock off the fields off North Hayling, 126
flew in to the shore and the other 400+ flew over
towards the Castle Farm fields. These scaring tactics
have been carried out several times now. Is this
legal??? - See
note on Duck shooting
The bird of the morning was a splendid male Marsh
Harrier that was blown along the channel, until it
started to quarter over the marshes south of Emsworth
Harbour, then drifted onto Thorney Island.
taken by Richard Somerscocks in
got this photo of a Fieldfare in the hedge on the road
down to Southwick yesterday. That is the nearest local
location I have heard of Fieldfare so far this winter.
It really needs to be much colder to push them down
south. I have yet to see one. Ralph Hollins reported
that a flock of some 80 Fieldfare and 20 Redwing were
in the Bembridge Marshes area on the Isle of Wight on
Dec 15 and 30 were at Titchfield Haven on Dec 3.
Colin has been
walking round Farlington Marshes over the past couple
of weekends and was saddened to see hunters shooting
ducks from the sea wall on the east side of the
reserve. As Colin rightly says this not only kills
birds, but more importantly disturbs thousands of
migrant birds during rest and feeding. I fully agree
with Colin, there is no sense in it at all, even more
so considering Farlington Marshes is a nature reserve
and a SSSI. Can't the RSPB do anything to stop it?
They should have plenty of political clout with over 1
Peter Milinets-Raby also sees wildfowling regularly on
the mudflats off Langstone - see the blog for Nov 12.
Bird scarers are also a problem. Peter reports today
that a flock of Brent Geese was disturbed off the
fields off North Hayling by gun shots. He asks, Is
this legal? Good question. I thought Brents were
DECEMBER 18 - 2015
Not a lot to
report today. When I walked round the town millpond
this morning I was surprised to see the three swan
cygnets flying off the pond into the harbour. Maybe
this means they are leaving fairly soon? The cygnets
at Langstone Mill Pond are also restless - see Peter's
Malcolm Phillips walked round Slipper Pond and Peter
Pond where he snapped a superb Grey Heron.
Milinets-Raby popped down to the Langstone Mill Pond
this morning for an hour from 10:10am - low tide. The
highlights were as follows:
Off Pook Lane: 15 Common Gull, 1 adult winter
Mediterranean Gull resting on the mud - suddenly so
scarce! 1 adult winter Sandwich Tern resting on the
mud, 7 Teal, 13 Knot, 29 Shelduck with 3 in the
distance off Conigar Point, 30+ Dunlin, 30+ Brent
Geese (probably all on the fields in and around the
area), 21 Wigeon, 7 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank (R//G +
BRtag///-), 7 Red Breasted Merganser, 11 Black-tailed
Godwit, 16 Golden Plover.
Peter's best sighting
was a first winter Little Gull flying up and
down over the water in the channel showing off
diagnostic dark "W" (My third record and always a
pleasant surprise, now that would have been a good
bird to see for my January The First Day List!)
Brian's note: Peter did not get a photo of the Little
Gull, so I have included a first winter bird from my
files taken by Tony Wootton at Warsash in 2013 which
shows well the dark 'W' pattern on the upper wings
mentioned by Peter as well as the typical dipping
Langstone Mill Pond:
Nesting Grey Herons - four nests now occupied. Top of
Holm Oak - two birds on nest. Lower Holm Oak - two
birds on nest. South Nest - two adults making lots of
noise, with lots of "frank" calls whilst bringing in
many sticks to the nest. Other Holm Oak (middle nest)
- adult on nest serenely arranging sticks. Far south
nest not occupied and sixth nest also empty. Mute Swan
family with 5 juveniles - only days left . . .
Flooded Horse paddock: 61 Teal, 17 Moorhen, 2 roosting
Little Egret, 3 roosting Grey Herons, 1 Oystercatcher.
DECEMBER 17 - 2015
I went over to
the meadow this morning for the scheduled work session
led by Maurice Lillie. There was a good turn out of 11
volunteers. The main task was to cut and clear the
Seagull Lane patch, though this was not easy work as
the vegetation was quite wet. However, it was a job
well done. The session finished earlier than usual for
Christmas festivities! Maurice had brought along warm
mulled wine and delicious warm stollen and we all
celebrated Christmas with a round of 'cheers'.
I had a stroll around
the meadow during the work session looking for any
signs of wildlife. A Song Thrush was singing
strongly from one of the fir trees on the edge of the
south meadow, probably the same bird that Malcolm
Phillips snapped yesterday. The only other songsters
were Robin and Wren. Several plants of Hogweed
are still in flower and one of them on the river bank
had several Bluebottle type flies feeding on it. There
was just one Wild Angelica still in flower in
the south meadow by the gate.
I was interested to
see the Oak tree that I planted on the Seagull
Lane patch in 2012 still had brown leaves, whereas the
other Oak saplings that were planted at the same time
had lost theirs. The more mature Oak near the Seagull
Lane gate also has retained its leaves.
The retention of dead
plant organs that normally are shed in winter is
called 'marcescence' and is most easily seen in
deciduous trees, like Oak and Beech. Apparently, it
does no harm to the tree and may be of benefit.
There is a very good flow of water in the River Ems at
present. This photos shows the north river by the
DECEMBER 16 - 2015
notable feature of my walk around the town millpond
this morning was the noise made by the Coots. There
was lots of chasing around,splashing and wing raising
which suggested to me that spring was in the air!
Peter Milinets-Raby had a similar observation at
Langstone Mill Pond this morning with Grey Herons
laying sticks for nests. And it is not yet
The pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were busy fishing
together, but not easy to capture in a single image.
Phillips was on the meadow for about an hour this
morning. A Song Thrush was singing and Malcolm
caught the bird in action. Clearly, the thrush is
warming up for the spring.
Malcolm also found a Bumblebee (B.
terrestris) feeding on Gorse flowers, probably
not really unexpected in this warm winter.
Malcolm also spotted a
couple of fungi growing on trees. I don't know what
they are. Any offers?
Milinets-Raby braved the dull drizzle this afternoon
to have a look at the Langstone Mill Pond 1pm to
On the pond: Female Goosander asleep on the
pipe at the back of the island after first having a
wash in the far corner of the pond,
2 Teal, Family of Mute
Swan with 5 juveniles, Grey Herons nesting -
ridiculous and it is not even Christmas!! Top Holm Oak
nest - Two adults on nest arranging sticks and
indulging in some light courtship. Lower Holm Oak nest
- One adult stood on nest and the other bird standing
only 2 metres away. Two other Grey Herons roosting.
30+ Goldfinch with a female Siskin amongst them
Flooded Horse Paddock: 5 Grey Herons - two actively
looking for sticks!!!! 6 Little Egrets, 67 Teal, 1
female Wigeon, 2 Oystercatcher, 14 Moorhen, Water Rail
heard from rear of paddock.
Off shore (high tide): 17 Wigeon, 27 Red Breasted
Merganser, 14 Shelduck, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 78+
Grey Plover flew off the submerging island and flew
west towards the Hayling Oyster beds, along with 60+
Dunlin and 28+ Knot.
Over Castle Farm in the air briefly before dropping
back down to one of the fields were 420+ Brent
DECEMBER 15 - 2015
Phillips had a cold wet morning on the meadow, but did
get a few photos. First was a Kingfisher giving
a fish a good shake at the top of Peter Pond, not the
best photo as there was very little light, says
Malcolm, but it shows the activity well. Nearby a
female Great Spotted Woodpecker arrived just off the
foot bridge at the top of Peter Pond and posed very
nicely for him. He makes it sound so easy!
As he walked round
Palmer's Road Copse Malcolm spotted a Blue Tit
investigating the nest box near the Water Vole
signcase. And finally, a Robin for
DECEMBER 14 - 2015
I arrived at
the millpond seawall at 10am with the tide rising to
high water in about 3 hours. The water was already
well advanced in the eastern harbour and all the
waders had gone, leaving just a small gathering of
Brent Geese. I aged 112 of them, but found no
I found 44 Knot to the west of the Emsworth
Sailing Club building, probably some of the 500 or so
counted by Peter Milinets-Raby yesterday. The more
dumpy stature and demure style of feeding of the Knot
clearly distinguished them from the more frenetic
feeding activity of the smaller and slimmer Dunlin.
Digiscoped photo on a very grey morning.
I was pleased to see
the Pintail in the western harbour that both
Peter Milinets-Raby and Chris Oakley commented on
yesterday and very fine they were too. I counted a
total of 44, which was a few more than the 35 counted
by Peter. They were well spread out and there could
have been more. Here is a male female pair. They are
often seen in pairs.
From some distance I
could see the Black-tailed Godwits gathering in
the Nore Barn area and so I quickly made my way along
Western Parade to check them out. Unfortunately, the
tide was well advanced and most of them were up to
their bellies in water, which made reading
colour-rings difficult. I counted a total of 146
Godwits which included three colour-ringed birds, all
regulars in Emsworth this winter. R+LG. W+WN. WO+LW
In the stream the same two Spotted Redshanks
that Peter Milinets-Raby had yesterday, were feeding
closely together all the time I was there, with no
hint of the aggressive behaviour which I had noted in
previous years. Clearly these were 'friends' and good
feeding companions. Neither was ringed. The
colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL was feeding
closely with the two Spotted Redshanks for much of the
I was pleased to meet
up with Barry Kingsmith who used to live near Racton,
but now lives in Maisemore Gardens and is involved in
the Nore Barn Conservation group. We both watched the
Spotted Redshanks and the Greenshank feeding in the
upper part of the stream. Also, present from the Nore
Barn group were Roy Ewing and Maggie Gebbett.
is the single flower on Warblington Road
On the way home along Warblington Road I stopped near
the junction with Valetta Park to check the Sweet
Violets on the grass verge and found just one
flower already open! This was my first Sweet Violet of
the winter. It is not unusual to get them coming out
this early particularly in mild weather. Ralph Hollins
even found some in flower in St Faith's Churchyard in
Charlie Annalls had a walk around the shore Langstone
yesterday and also across the road to Southmoor and
identified 21 different bird species. 'A lovely
gentleman' pointed out a Great Northern Diver
out at sea which Charlie was very excited to see
for the first time. However, her photo of it looks
more like a Great Crested Grebe to me.
A Great Northern Diver
was reported on the HOS sightings today at 15:00 at
Hayling Oysterbeds by B Lyle, so the lovely gentleman
was probably correct, but Charlie got the wrong bird.
She also saw two or
three Grey Herons which appeared to be having a
Charlie also got some
interesting shots of birds on the electricity masts on
Southmoor. One was clearly a Green Woodpecker. The
other pair of birds look like Kestrels with a Carrion
Crow standing guard.
DECEMBER 13 - 2015
to Nore Barn
Milinets-Raby was out this morning and surveyed the
shore from Emsworth to Nore Barn as the tide pushed in
(7:31am to 10am). He reported as follows:
"Lots of bird activity as the channels filled up with
water. On mornings like this, you realise that 'we'
have a very productive, over-looked, little jewel of
an back-water that is not over run with birders. A
wonderful mornings birding! The highlights were as
Emsworth Mill Pond (from 7:31am): 27 Coot, the
female Red Breasted Merganser flew into the pond at
8am, just two minutes after sunrise.
Emsworth Harbour (from 7:44am): 40 Coot, 7
Gadwall, 14 Teal, 5 Greenshank resting along the edge
of the stream outflow by the town quay. 3 Lapwing, 39
Canada Geese (including the one with more white on the
face), 482 Brent Geese (at least 70% of them checked
and not a single juvenile found), 52 Dunlin, 4
Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Shelduck, 2 Grey Plover, 2
Little Egrets, 2 female Red Breasted Merganser, 14
Turnstone. An impressive, tight, oval shaped wisp of
478 Knot flying around, before settling down for me to
count - in flight, very compact, I estimated 220+, so
very surprised to count nearly 500!
At 8:15am 4
Barnacle Geese flew in from the west and landed in
the outflow adjacent to the town quay (see record
photo - they were "Grrrrring" so very wild??).
outflow (from 8:25am): 1 Teal, 105 Dunlin, 2 Knot,
2 Grey Plover, 50 Brent Geese, 2 Shelduck, 1
Beacon Square (from 8:34am): 13 Ringed Plover
(close enough to notice that two birds had colour
rings on: -//- + G//YL & -//- + Y//NW). 85 Dunlin,
6 Grey Plover, 34 Wigeon, 35 Pintail (very
impressive), 4 Teal, 2 Knot, 10 Shelduck, Great
Black-backed Gull. Grey Heron flying over towards
Thorney Island. 10 Brent Geese. And a Redshank with
colour rings, one of the newly ringed lot I think:
-//O + O//GW Not easy to read with the Redshank's
Nore Barn (from 9:05am): 2 Spotted Redshank
feeding together in the stream, 139 Black-tailed
Godwit (Three with colour rings G//R +R//- & B//R
+GO//- & W//R + WN///-), 21 Pintail, 171 Brent
Geese (none of these were juvs), 3 Grey Plover, 141
Wigeon, 112 Teal, 19 Shelduck, 5 Mute Swan, 1
Greenshank resting right up the far end of the Nore
Barn Wood channel. Then, at 9:32am, 7 Greenshank flew
in and promptly dropped off to sleep - two with rings
but no details!
on the Barnacle Geese from
Very occasionally we do get Barnacle Geese turning
up in Emsworth, but their origins are never easy to
discern as they are favoured geese in wildfowl
collections and do escape. A pair arrived in Emsworth
in August 2008 and were seen on Peter Pond, Slipper
Millpond and in the harbour which were almost
certainly feral/escapes. The Barnacle Geese seen by
Peter in Emsworth Harbour this morning certainly could
be wild, but their presence in amongst a flock of
Canada Geese strongly suggests to me they are from a
domestic origin. There are also several feral breeding
flocks of Barnacle Geese in the area. I believe there
is a large feral flock on the Isle of Wight which
could be the source of these birds. There was a famous
flock of up to 42 feral Barnacle Geese present on
Baffins Pond for many years in the 1990s -
affectionately referred to as the 'Baffins Gang' by
birders at Titchfield Haven - now sadly, much
also enjoyed a walk round the harbour and the western
shore a little later than Peter. He noted a male
Red-breasted Merganser on the pond despite the
model yachts. This bird was also here yesterday, but
was not seen by Peter earlier this morning. Both male
and female Red-breasted Mergansers clearly come and
go. Off the western shore he saw a flotilla of
Pintails, probably the same ones that Peter
noted earlier. Chris sent me this snap of some showing
males with the distinctive sharp tail.
On his way back up
Warblington Road this morning Chris saw a mystery
bird which he described as . . . "a small bird,
about Tit size, generally fawn/brown but with a very
prominent black on white eye stripe. Definitely not a
Coal Tit, in fact I don't think I've seen its like
before." From Chris's description of a 'very prominent
black on white eye stripe', I think it could have been
a Firecrest which, of course, we have been seeing
recently on Brook Meadow.
DECEMBER 12 - 2015
On my regular
walk around the town millpond this morning I watched
the two Mute Swan cobs aggressively sparring
with each other, rising up and wing flapping. So, the
territorial battle I have been expecting is beginning,
with the visiting pair of swans attempting to take
over the territory of the resident pair. I am sure
this is the same pair that tried last year and failed.
Maybe they will succeed this year, but I doubt it.
Meanwhile, the three remaining cygnets from this
year's brood are still hanging on, but will soon be
The female Red-breasted Merganser that has been
on the town millpond for the past week all alone has
been joined by a handsome male. The two are easy to
pick out as the male is black and white and the female
reddish-brown. Here is the male. Apologies for the
image - taken with my phone.
Phillips had a walk round the meadow this morning, but
did not see much apart from the usual Goldcrests, Blue
Tit, Robin, Blackbird, etc. No sign of any Firecrests.
If they are still on the meadow I am sure Malcolm will
find them! Here is a Goldcrest to go on with.
sent me her report of this morning's walk by the
Havant Wildlife Group: It was a pretty dismal day, but
was enlivened by good sightings of Fieldfare and Marsh
Tit. I wonder if we shall get any Fieldfare or Redwing
down our way this winter?
For full report go to
. . . Havant
Wildlife Group -
DECEMBER 11 - 2015
I had some
interesting sightings during my regular constitutional
walk around Emsworth Millpond this morning. The two
Mute Swan cobs were 'busking' on the pond at the
end of Nile Street, circling around each other with
wings raised, with the pens nearby, but at a safe
distance. There has, as far as I am aware, not been
any actual physical aggression between the cobs, but
it is early days and sparks could fly when hormones
start to flow in the spring.
See a 2 minute video
of the busking on YouTube video at . . .
Further south three
Cormorants were busy diving for fish. As I was
watching them a Kingfisher flew fast and low
across the pond to come to rest on the garden wall of
the cottage that used to be called Tenerife Cottage,
but now renamed Swan House. I managed a distant shot
of it before it shot away towards the sailing club.
Red-breasted Merganser was present on the pond,
quite close to the millpond seawall from where I got
this shot. Note the bird's typically shaggy 'hairdo'.
Meadow - Crests
Phillips spent a long time on the meadow yesterday
(Dec 10) looking for Firecrests and Goldcrests and
getting cold and wet in the process. However,
Malcolm's perseverance paid off as he did eventually
see both birds near the south bridge and also in
Palmer's Road Copse and managed to get photos of them
as shown below, though the Goldcrest was far more
obliging than the Firecrest.
Malcolm was out on
Brook Meadow again this morning but could not find the
Firecrest anywhere, but Goldcrests were about as
usual. Malcolm got nice photos of resident Blue Tit
and Great Tit.
aberrant Robin in Devon
ghostly looking Robin completely lacking a red breast
was seen by birdwatcher Rob Jutsum on one of his local
patches in Chivenor, Devon. See photos at . . .
DECEMBER 9 - 2015
Meadow - Goldcrests
walk took me inevitably to the south bridge at Brook
Meadow at about 11am where I found Malcolm Phillips,
Tony Wootton and Brian Lawrence all poised, with
cameras at the ready, waiting for the Firecrests that
Malcolm had seen here yesterday. They had been there
an hour already, but there was no sign of Firecrests.
Here they are frustrated, but still smiling!
We chatted for a
while, then hey presto, much excitement. Three tiny
birds appeared in the tree immediately above the
bridge. They were definitely crests, but which type?
While they others were snapping away I tracked the
birds with my bins, hoping to pick up any sign of
white above the eyes. They were constantly on the
move, giving one little time to check the colours, but
I was fairly sure there was no white supercilium,
which meant they were all Goldcrests. None the less it
was a great sighting. Two of the birds were definitely
a pair, with the male having a bright orange crown.
are the three photographers snapping the Goldcrests
with their long lenses
And here are their
best pics. I think they were all a bit disappointed
with the results, but the birds were constantly moving
around in the tree and against the bright sky.
However, the evidence is clear, the birds were
photo is on the left and Brian's on the right
captured the bird in flight
waited round the meadow until 1.30 and did actually
spot what he thought was a Firecrest but the light was
too low for a photo. Try, try, again!
Derek Mills walked around Farlington Marshes today and
counted 30+ Avocets to the west of the reserve
on the high tide. They also saw 2 Sandwich
Terns fishing and a Short-eared Owl. Here is one
of the Terns with a catch.
DECEMBER 8 - 2015
I had a quick
look at Nore Barn from 1pm to 1.30pm. The tide was
already well out and the stream empty. A strong chilly
wind was blowing from the south west. However, there
were plenty of birds in the lower stream and on the
mudflats, including a flock of 75 Black-tailed
Godwits. They included two regular Emsworth
colour-ringed birds: W+WN and WO+LW flag.
The lower stream was
packed with mainly Wigeon and a few Teal and
Black-tailed Godwits. The regular Spotted Redshank was
also present, though not feeding.
There were just 10
Brent Geese, but no juveniles. Here are a few of them.
is a cracking shot Malcolm got of one of the
on Brook Meadow
Phillips was back on Brook Meadow this morning
determined to make up for lost time while he was away
in Cuba! He hit the jackpot with a pair of Firecrests,
a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest all by the south bridge.
What a day! That was the first Firecrest on Brook
Meadow since that flurry of sightings of two birds in
Jan-Mar 2013. Let's hope these two stay as long as the
others did and give good views. That is great news!
another two images that Malcolm got - probably a male
with crest raised and a female flapping
for good measure, here are a couple of shots Malcolm
took of the Treecreeper
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon from 2:15pm to 3:37pm - very low tide. The
highlights were as follows:
On the pond: 5 Teal, Mute Swan family - 2 adults with
5 juvs in harmony at the moment. Many male Mallard
getting very fruity with the females - spring is in
Flooded horse paddock: 90 Teal - many of the males
displaying in little groups swimming around in the
flood, 27 Moorhen, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Grey Wagtail.
Off Pook Lane: 508 Golden Plover in a very long,
neatly spaced out line demanding to be counted! The
flock took off only moments after I finished counting
and about 400 birds flew off to north Hayling. 42
Lapwing, 16 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 4 Common Gull, 13 Grey
Plover, 1 Greenshank (Usual G//R+BRtag//-), 1 Knot,
30+ Dunlin, 11 Red Breasted Merganser, 3 Great Crested
Grebe, 2 female Goldeneye, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 2
Shelduck with 35 off Conigar Point, 60+ Brent Geese. 1
male Kingfisher feeding from a post by the mill in the
stream outflow - nice views, despite the fence being
in the way.
saw this live Green Lacewing in a hide at Titchfield
Haven NR today. Unfortunately for it, it flew into a
spider's web, though there was no spider.
DECEMBER 7 - 2015
On my regular
morning walk round the millponds, I met Ros Norton
outside the newsagents in Emsworth. She was off to
Thorney Deeps, so I walked with her to Slipper
Millpond where we pleased to see a Kingfisher
flying across. I also found just one flower open
on a Tree Mallow on the west side of the pond -
a very early flowering?
DECEMBER 7 - 2015
Phillips had a nice couple of hours on the meadow
today, but said there was still not much around. He
found the first Primrose (of the spring?) in
flower on the north bank.
He also got more
photos of the Goldcrest and the Pike with the
twisted tail. Here is the perky Goldcrest. We shall
need to keep a look out for a Firecrest which we have
had on Brook Meadow in previous years. It has a
distinctive white stripe above the eye.
we need to look out for is a Siberian Chiffchaff
(Phylloscopus collybita tristis) which
we had on Brook Meadow at this time last year. One has
been seen at Portland and Ralph Hollins gives this
link which has photos, a video and a sonogram of the
bird's calls which might find useful in identifying
the species. See . . . http://portlandbirdobs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/26th-november.html
Phylloscopus collybita tristis is an eastern
race of Chiffchaff which breeds in coniferous taiga
forest from the Ural region eastwards. It winters
mainly in India, though odd birds stray to Western
Europe annually in autumn (end Sep-Oct).
It is not at all easy to distinguish a Siberian
Chiffchaff from a Common Chiffchaff in the absence of
song, but generally it has a very grey, cold cast to
its plumage in contrast to the warmer colouring of the
Common Chiffchaff. Last year Peter Milinets-Raby was
pretty we had a Siberian Chiffchaff. Key ID features
are more prominent supercilium, more prominent black
alula, fine off-white wing bar along the edge of the
scapulars and whitish panel in the closed wing. Here
is a photo of the supposed Siberian Chiffchaff on
Brook Meadow last December taken by Malcolm Phillips.
One method used last
year to tempt the bird to show itself was to play its
song on a smart phone. This actually worked quite
well. For songs see . . . http://www.xeno-canto.org/explore?query=Phylloscopus+collybita+tristis
DECEMBER 6 - 2015
I was on Brook
Meadow this morning for the regular 1st Sunday in the
month work session. There was a good turn out of 13
volunteers. The main task was cutting and clearing the
main orchid area in the north meadow which completes
the cutting of all the main areas. An excellent job.
For the full report
and more pictures go to . . . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-diary-current.html
DECEMBER 5 - 2015
Phillips spent an hour going round the meadow this
morning. He said there was not much to see due to too
much wind. However, he did manage to get a nice shot
of a Long-tailed Tit sheltering against the
Malcolm also got an
excellent photo of our regular Pike with the
twisted tail just south of the north bridge.
to attract birds in the garden - update
was interested to read Rosemary Osborne's request for
help in attracting birds to her garden in North
Emsworth in this blog for Dec 2 and offered the
"My wife and I had the same issue when we moved to
Cumberland Avenue some seven years ago. When we had
settled and the refurbishments were completed we
bought a feeder and then several (and nesting boxes).
The breakthrough came when we moved the feeder station
near to a small tree so that the birds could roost and
feel protected. Rosemary has the advantage of
well-established trees in her garden.
As you can see from
the photo we now have Goldfinches and Greenfinches
enjoying the sunflower hearts to the point where we
now purchase 30kg sacks of the seed about four times a
year! We are, of course, feeding the local Squirrel as
well who regularly empties the feeder early in the
morning. We also have visiting Blue Tits, Long-tailed
Tits, Robins, Blackbirds, Starlings, Great Spotted
Woodpeckers and Woodpigeons.
The Blue Tits have nested for the last two years, this
year, whilst we missed the actual fledging, we spotted
five babes in the garden."
DECEMBER 4 - 2015
special in the millpond when I walked round this
morning. However, there was a flock of 118
Black-tailed Godwits resting on the edge of the
far channel - I counted them from this photo. They
were too far away to check for colour-rings with my
Greenshank RG+BY tag was feeding in the town
channel, as yesterday with a Redshank. The rings show
up quite well in this photo.
A lady stopped by to
say she had just seen a Kingfisher flying
around the boats. Needless to say, I did not see it.
French was in Southsea today so took advantage of a
window of improved weather to check out the Purple
Sandpipers at Southsea Castle. She was in luck,
with 9 picking through the surf in front of the Castle
at 13.15, about 3 hours after low tide.
Caroline also found a group of 29 Brent Geese
on Southsea Common, which included 7
juveniles. Well, well. That's the most I have
heard of this winter in one flock. Caroline also
checked a group of 276 Brents feeding in front of
Teapot Row at Eastney but could find only one
juvenile. However, things are not quite as bleak as I
first thought for the Brents.
is one I snapped in Emsworth Harbour a couple of years
of the Curlew
I was very
surprised to hear that the BTO is launching an appeal
to help save the Curlew. Yes, this very familiar
wading bird with the long, decurved bill and evocative
bubbling call has just become one of the newest
additions to the British Red List of Birds of
Conservation Concern and deemed to be of the highest
The Breeding Bird
Survey (BBS) shows a 46% decline across the UK in the
last two decades. Critically, the UK holds 28% of
Europe's breeding Curlew, meaning that declines here
represent the loss of a substantial portion of
Europe's total breeding Curlew population. British
breeding Curlew are joined in winter by birds from the
Continent and Scandinavia, but the Wetland Bird Survey
(WeBS) estimates about a 20% decline in Curlew numbers
over the last 15 years.
To unpick the causes of Curlew population decline we
are planning a ground-breaking programme of research,
analysing existing datasets to investigate patterns of
extinction and colonisation and utilising
revolutionary new technology to track wintering
For more details see . . . http://bto-enews.org/102F-3OTZC-52JA9P-1W1NZA-0/c.aspx
DECEMBER 3 - 2015
I did my
regular constitutional walk round the town millpond
this morning. Still quite breezy. I managed to get a
shot of the male Tufted Duck that has been on
the pond for several days. No sign of any other Tufted
However, much better
was my first female/juvenile Red-breasted
Merganser of the year, but no sign of any male.
Since this is a solitary bird my guess is that it is a
millpond seawall I got a good view of a flock of 42
Black-tailed Godwits (and one Redshank) feeding on
the green seaweed quite close to the shore. They
included the very familiar colour-ringed bird: W+WN
which I also saw here on Tuesday Dec 1. Note, they are
not all in this photo!
There were plenty of
Brent Geese honking away on the mudflats, but I
did not have my scope to check their ages. However,
there were a few Brents in the low water channel near
the town including a family with one juvenile.
That was my first juvenile Brent Goose in Emsworth
this winter, though I did have two juveniles in
Southsea yesterday. Maybe things are looking up
Also in the low water
channel were two Redshanks and a colour-ringed
Greenshank - RG+BY tag - This bird was ringed
by Pete Potts on Thorney Island on 19-Mar-13 and
fitted with geolocator on the blue ring. I wonder if
we have any information back from the geolocator about
the bird's movements? It is a regular in Emsworth
Harbour, my last sighting was on 22-Sep-15.
Phillips was back on Brook Meadow this morning after 2
months away in Cuba. He says it was nice to be back on
the meadow and typically got a couple of excellent
shots of a Goldcrest near the south bridge. The bird
is kindly showing its gold crest in the photo on the
recent Seal sighting in Dolphin Lake from a Harbour
Way house at the end of King St in this blog for Nov
30, Ralph Hollins comments that many would be
surprised to know that, as with rats, Seals are often
very close to us without being seen. Reports on recent
Seal tagging projects show their ongoing presence
round every bit of the harbour coastline with trips
regularly extending to Selsey Bill, around the north
of the Isle of Wight and all the way up Southampton
Water. Official sources (like Chichester Harbour
Conservancy) give a Seal Population of 25 or less but
on 31 Aug 2015 there was a count of 28 Common Seals on
Pilsey Sands and there could well have been others on
the Sword Sands in Langstone Harbour or off on their
travels round the area. Finally Ralph notes that Grey
as well as Common Seals both breed in Chichester
For an introduction to the subject Ralph recommends a
one page summary of a talk given by Jolyon Chesworth
of the Hants Wildlife Trust to the Portsmouth Canoe
Club - see http://www.portsmouth-canoe-club.org/resources/seals
Milinets-Raby went to the Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon (1:12pm to 2:50pm - tide starting to push
in): No Goosander and no Diver, though with more mud
exposed there were more waders to look at. The details
were as follows:
Langstone Mill Pond: 3 Grey Heron roosting, 2 Teal,
Mute Swan family.
Flooded horse paddock: 25 Teal, Female Wigeon, 18
Off Pook Lane: 30 Common Gull, 1 Sandwich Tern, 21
Teal, 12 Wigeon, 11 Grey Plover, 255 Dunlin, 17
Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Red
Breasted Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe, Male &
female Goldeneye, 5 Knot, 36 Shelduck, 20 Golden
Plover, 21 Lapwing, 3 Greenshank (NR//-+YY//-) and 191
Brent Geese (all checked and not a single juvenile
Later three gun shots were used to scare the Brent
Geese off the fields at north Hayling (270+ flew off,
some flew beyond Conigar Point and 184 landed on the
Pook Lane shore - all checked and again not a single
juvenile amongst them). So that is zero juveniles in a
total of 375 Brent!
Peter also did a Brent Goose count in Southsea on the
St. Vincent's Cricket pitch on Dec 1. He found 161
Brent Geese with three juveniles, which must mean
there are at least two families of Brent Geese in the
area, as the one I saw on the nearby golf course on
Dec 2. definitely had only two juveniles.
DECEMBER 2 - 2015
I had to take
Jean into Southsea this morning and on the way back I
passed the Tenth Hole pitch-and-putt golf course where
I noticed a small flock of Brent Geese feeding on the
links, so I stopped to have a look. I counted 54
Brents and among them I was delighted to see a family
of two adults and 2 juveniles - the first youngsters I
have seen this winter. The family were in fact, as
often happens with Brent families, a little separate
from the main flock which enabled me to get a nice
photo of them through the wire mesh fence. I wonder if
there are any other juvenile Brents in the local area?
Has anyone seen any?
I had a quick
walk round Baffins Pond, but nothing special. Lots of
Mallard, Coot and Tufted Duck as usual with a pair of
Mute Swans and, of course, over 100 Feral Pigeons.
Milinets-Raby popped down briefly to Langstone Mill
Pond this afternoon at 2pm to 3:10pm (tide nearly in,
with some marsh left exposed). The highlights were as
Langstone Mill Pond: 6 Teal, 4 Grey Heron & 3
Little Egret roosting, Mute Swan family on the pond (2
adults with 5 juvs), Male & female Kestrel.
Flooded Horse paddock: 65 Teal, 1 female Wigeon, 3
Mallard, 2 Curlew, 15 Moorhen, 30+ Goldfinch.
Off shore off Pook Lane: 4 Dunlin, 1 Black-tailed
Godwit, 16 Common Gull, 10 Greenshank up to their
bellies in water, lingering before flying off towards
Thorney Island, 22 Red Breasted Merganser, Female
Goosander feeding with a group of six female
mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Wigeon, 28
Lapwing, 2 Grey Plover, 36 Shelduck, Male & female
Distantly off Conigar Point: 10 more Shelduck, 1
Great Northern Diver diving regularly - the
first I've seen and overdue.
to attract birds in the garden
Osborne requests help with attracting birds to her
garden. I have given my reply. If anyone else would
like to offer Rosemary advice please get in touch and
I will pass it on.
moved to our lovely bungalow (in North Emsworth) a
year ago. We have quite a big garden heavily planted
with fruit. Soft fruit plus apple trees, pear and
damson. Which is of course lovely. There is a big
colourful border, but the plants dont really do much
for me - I'm more a wild flower person than a Fuchsia
And I want to attract birds to my garden. As well as
putting food out for them at various points I have had
no luck. All we have is Pigeons. Do they need a "feed
station" lots of nuts, etc, all in one place, or
should I scatter them about the garden? We do have
some water which will be expanded in the future. I
can't put food on the ground because my lovely dog
will eat it. We don't have cats."
Good to hear from you and I am pleased to hear you
want to encourage birds into your garden. It certainly
sounds the sort of garden that would be immediately
attractive to a good variety of birds with all those
trees, fruit and flowers. You have all the basic
ingredients already present and with a water feature -
pond - that would be ideal.
You don't specifically mention feeders in your letter
and really you should invest in some. Most garden
centres sell a good variety of feeders with the right
food to go in them. It sounds as if you have plenty of
branches to hang feeders from which will avoid the
need for a special feeding station.
I would start with the food birds like best, ie,
sunflower hearts. They are expensive compared with the
others but are what reliably attracts birds. I have
three sunflower heart feeders permanently hanging in
my small garden in the centre of Emsworth and they are
in constant use at this time of the year throughout
the day. Goldfinches, Greenfinches and House Sparrows
love them and will spend ages stationed on the perches
chomping away. All the tits will also take them plus
other common birds occasionally.
Here is a snap of a couple of Goldfinches on sunflower
heart feeder in my garden that I took recently.
I find having a fat
ball holder is a good idea and most of the common
birds will have a nibble from time to time. But best
of all they attract Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
I would not bother with peanut holders as they are not
used when there are sunflower hearts available.
As you don't want to put food on the ground, I would
strongly suggest a bird table - and a fairly wide one
which will take plenty of food and birds. You can
scatter bird seed on the table for the ground feeders,
who find it difficult or impossible to cling onto the
feeders, ie Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Starling,
Chaffinch, House Sparrow Collared Dove and Woodpigeon.
I think no-mess seed is the best idea as birds are
very selective and will pick out only the best stuff
and leave the rest. Peanuts can also be useful as many
birds like taking them including Magpies and Jackdaws
as well as the tits. Grey Squirrels also like them,
though they often prefer to bury them for later. I
also chop up some of the peanuts for the bird table
which stops them all going at once.
However, please don't expect instant results. Birds
will take some time to find your garden. It helps if
your neighbours also feed the birds so your garden can
then get you on their 'circuit'.
Finally, three important tips. 1. Always have your
binoculars handy for identification plus a good bird
guide. 2. Keep a camera handy just in case you get
something really interesting like Bullfinches or even
Bramblings. 3. Keep a list of the birds seen in your
garden each week and the maximum number of each
species. This will give you a good indication of how
you are doing.
I hope this helps.
Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes.
DECEMBER 1 - 2015
11:00 - The
wind had dropped a bit so I decided to have a look at
the eastern harbour from the millpond seawall. I
scoured 292 Brent Geese for juveniles but found
none at all.
I counted 114 Black-tailed Godwits on the
western edge of the channel with another 9 feeding on
the shore close to the wall. The latter included two
B+GO - First seen in Emsworth Harbour on
10-Nov-14. This was my 5th sighting since then and the
2nd this winter.
W+WN - Ringed on 05-Sep-10 at Farlington
Marshes. It has been a regular visitor to Emsworth
Harbour each winter since then. Today's sighting was
the first of this winter, but the 56th in total.
Here are the 12
colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits seen this winter in
Emsworth so far.
B+BL - B+GN - B+GO - G+WR - G+BY - O+WL - R+LG - R+RG
- W+WN - LY+RO - ROL+RLR - WO+LW flag
11:30 - Along
to Nore Barn where I found the regular Spotted
Redshank and colour-ringed Greenshank in the
stream, though the tide was still fairly low.
There were still no
juveniles among the Brent Geese. I walked a little way
along Western Parade where I came across at least 18
Pintail - my first of the year. Here are a couple of
males in one of the channels.
Farm - Stonechats
had a walk round Hampshire Farm this afternoon and got
the following snaps of male and female Stonechats near
the pond. Their presence is very good news for this
new site. Let's hope they stay.
earlier observations go to . . November