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

Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day (Ralph Hollins)

for March 1-16, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

Send wildlife observations and photos to Brian Fellows at . . . brianfellows at


Spotted Redshanks
John Arnott went for a walk down the east side of the Chidham peninsular to Cobnor Point yesterday early evening 15th March and saw a small flock of six Spotted Redshanks feeding in the (probably) brackish lagoon next to the new Harbour Conservancy path at SU 79608 03125. The most he has ever seen in one place! He saw five to start with half way down the lagoon, then they flew the short distance to the north end of the lagoon. They were distinctive in lacking the white rear wing pattern of Common Redshank. There they were joined by a sixth bird, forming a tight flock, all feeding busily up to their bellies in the water. They had all started to develop their dark breeding plumage. No rings or other marks were visible. John says there was also a Great Northern Diver out by the Chalkdock Beacon.
John did not get a photo, but here is one I borrowed from the internet of a small flock of Spotted Redshanks in flight - rather like those described by John. This shot was in fact taken in Hong Kong!

Collared Doves
Patrick Murphy had a pair of Collared Doves picking out niger seeds from the bird bath which is sited below a niger seed feeder in his North Emsworth garden. Collared Doves are fairly common garden birds, ranking 9th in the BTO Garden BirdWatch list for this time of the year. However, this has not always been the case as they only came to the UK in the 1950s, after a rapid spread across Europe from the Middle East.


I had a walk around the local area this morning looking for any signs of spring. I started with the wayside to the north of Emsworth Railway Station where I knew Coltsfoot has flowered in previous years. I was not terribly optimistic of finding any following the extensive clearance of much of the area during the construction of the new cycle racks. However, walking up the access ramp to the north of the station I spotted just one bright yellow Coltsfoot flower close to the yellow railings. This was my first of the year. There was no others that I could see from the ramp.

I noted the embankment vegetation had been cut by the Hollybank Woods group which was good to see and should encourage new wild flower growth.

Interbridges Site
Next I decided to have a nose around the Interbridges Site to the east of the Horndean Road which is scheduled for light industrial development. On the way along the path from the end of Seagull Lane just north of the railway arch, I noticed a nice patch of Sweet Violets, which I do not recall having seen before. It had just a few dark blue flowers hiding away in characteristic shrinking fashion so I pulled out one for a photo. I also had my first Peacock butterfly of the year further along this path.

The Interbridges Site itself has been largely cleared of trees and other plants to make way for the development, which means lots of disturbed and fresh soil. This might be good for wild flowers. There is a casual access onto the site just past the electricity sub station. Here is a view looking east towards the railway station which can be seen in the distance in this photo.

I did not find much of interest today, though it will be worth looking again later. When I did some initial surveys for the planning application way back in 2004, I got a list of some 80 plant species, though nothing special enough to stop the development. Today I recorded Common Field Speedwell, Red Dead-nettle, Lesser Celandine, Dandelion, Sticky Mouse-ear, Daisy, Groundsel. Here are Red Dead-nettle - a surprisingly neglected but attractive plant - and Sticky Mouse-ear.

I also found my first 7-spot Ladybird of the year resting in the sunshine.

North Thorney
I decided to have a walk along the old NRA track to look and listen for any early summer migrants (of the feathered variety!). Parking on the corner of Thornham Lane, I first checked the Alexanders which are a good feature of this roadside. They were still in flower, though starting to go over. Walking up the track to the seawall, there was no sound of either Chiffchaff or Blackcap which I was hoping for. I heard a burst from a Cetti's Warbler, though that is not a migrant.
I walked down to Little Deeps, but there was still no sign or sound of any migrants. Are they late coming through this year?
I checked the regular Coltsfoot site in front of the Little Deeps and found 18 flowers, not brilliant, but good to see.
I returned to the car at Thornham Lane via the footpath that goes through the old Marina Farm stables. The whole site is still closed up 'following a bereavement' according to a sign on the gate (not locked). It has been like this for over a year and the place looks derelict with no sign of life or horses. Let's hope the Swallows still find a place to nest in the stables.
Nore Barn
At about 2.30 I went over to Nore Barn to check on the Spotted Redshank which is still here, feeding happily among the seaweed on the shore at the end of Warblington Road. The colour-ringed Greenshank was waiting in the stream.

Mystery plane
Barrie Jay cleared up the mystery plane with 'OIL SPILL RESPONSE' printed on the side that Malcolm Phillips photographed flying low over Brook Meadow on Mar 12.

Barrie says . . . "the plane is a Boeing 727 - previously an airliner with several airlines before being retired from passenger carrying duties. This example, plus two more are to be converted into tankers carrying oil dispersant for use against major oil spillage disasters at sea. To date, thankfully, this aircraft, the first of the three, has not been called for! They are based at Lasham airfield, near Alton, so not so far away. This aircraft G-OSRA regularly conducts tests along the Solent. The 727 is quite fast and with a good payload can get to any disasters much quicker than the old piston planes they replaced."

Barrie also provided a picture of a rather tatty, just out of hibernation, Small Tortoiseshell in his garden yesterday. This is the first Small Tortoiseshell of the year I have heard about locally. Good to see and I hope we get to see lots of them this summer.

Sexing Great Black-backed Gulls
Regarding the photos of the Great Black-backed Gulls tussling with a dead Eel in yesterday's blog, Tom Bickerton points out that one can see the size difference between the sexes - this is quite pronounced in the third photo showing both gulls with the Eel. The male is at the back, but its head is bigger and squarer, whereas the female's head is more rounded and petite (if you could call a GBBG petite!). Tom says it looks like the female started with the Eel, but the male ate it.

Herring Gulls in garden
Patrick Murphy had put out the remains of a chicken carcass assuming local Magpies and Crows would clear it up, but he was rather surprised when 3 Herring Gulls landed on the lawn in his back garden. Patrick says the Herring Gulls made short work of the chicken remains, but the poor Black-headed Gull hardly got a look in.

This observation by Patrick does not surprise me at all. Gulls are constantly flying over the houses on the look out for any substantial food that gets put out. They are not at all interested in bird food!

MONDAY MARCH 14 - 2016

Black-backed Gulls with Eel
Steve Dennett is a regular reader of this blog - Hi Steve. He sent me three fascinating photos of a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls (maybe the Slipper Millpond breeding pair) struggling with a large Eel on Thorney Island Great Deep. The Eel was about two feet long and probably weighed 2lb and well and truly dead before the gulls started playing with it. One of the gulls almost got the Eel down, but on this occasion not quite. However, I would suspect the gulls would have no problem in breaking up the Eel into smaller pieces for easier consumption.



Spotted Redshank is still here!
I went over to Nore Barn again late morning to check on the Spotted Redshank. It was a beautiful morning with no wind and a dead calm sea. There was nothing at all in the stream when I arrived, but I decided to hang around for a while just in case the bird turned up. I had a chat with the members of the Nore Barn conservation group who were just finishing their work session in the woods. Then at about 12 noon when I was about to give up I saw our feathered friend flying into the stream from the harbour with a cheery 'chewitt' call. So, contrary to my speculation yesterday, the famous Emsworth Spotted Redshank is still here. I took some photos just in case we don't see it again, though I have thousands already in my computer files.

For the full history of the Emsworth Spotted Redshank go to . . . Spotted Redshanks

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips sent his last contribution to the blog for a while as he is off to Cuba on Monday. As a parting gift he managed to get the first Peacock butterfly of the year on the meadow. He also got a spider which I have not been able to identify. I think it is one of the Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae), though I don't think it is the regular one we usually find on the meadow - Pisaura mirabilis.

Malcolm also got a couple of regular year round flies - Drone Fly and Bluebottle.

Finally, Malcolm photographed this plane flying quite low over the meadow with the message on its side OIL SPILL RESPONSE. He wondered if there was a spillage somewhere in the channel. Does anyone know anything about this?

Swan's eggs!!
During his walk at Chichester Marina yesterday with the Havant U3A Photography group Christopher Evans saw a Swan's nest with 5 eggs in it. I queried this since it would be much too early for Mute Swan eggs. Christopher thinks it must have been the nest of a Black Swan, one of which was seen in the vicinity. Black Swans being Australian birds will, of course, nest 'out of season' and this could be the answer. Christopher provided a link to a story in a Torquay newspaper which appears to confirm this. See . . .

Tony's gallery
Tony Wootton got a good number of fine images from his visit to Southmoor yesterday. Here is a selection:

Male Goldeneye, Mediterranean Gull in flight, Ringed Plover and Red-breasted Mergansers taking off

FRIDAY MARCH 11 - 2016

Spotted Redshank gone?
I cycled over to Nore Barn at about 11am this morning mainly to check on the Spotted Redshank. The tide was rising to high water in about two hours and the stream was gradually filling. The colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL was present in the stream, but there was no sign of the Spotted Redshank. I waited around for about an hour as the tide came in, but the Spotted Redshank still did not make an appearance. The Greenshank was present all this time. This could be significant as it could well mark the departure of the Spotted Redshank for its breeding grounds, though I shall need to check again. My last sighting of the Spotted Redshank this year was on Mar 8 which could be a record latest sighting for this bird, the previous latest was on 09-Mar-2012.

Poorly Gull
We have had a what looks like a poorly Black-headed Gull wandering around in the garden for the past day or so, picking here and there at morsels of food on the ground. I have tried shooing it off, but it did not go. However, when I got back from Nore Barn this morning it had gone, so I suppose it either flew off or, more likely, got picked off by one of the local cats.

Bank Vole
Malcolm Phillips was on Brook Meadow as usual today and got a photo of a little creature that he has been seeing for a week but, until today, he had not got a photo of. He said it was on a pile of logs at the south bridge. I think it could be either Bank Vole or Field Vole, but from its chestnut-brown coat my guess is Bank Vole. Well done, Malcolm. This was our first sighting of this elusive animal for over a year. Malcolm also got our last sighting (and photo) of Bank Vole in 2015 on 13-Jan-15.

Southsea birds
Barrie Jay had a good walk along Southsea promenade in the sunshine today - like I did yesterday. He saw 2 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks in front of the Castle. He asks if others have now moved off towards their breeding grounds. That is likely, though these birds do tend to hang on later than most. Barrie also has a query about this duck on the side of Canoe Lake. Yes, that's a funny one, Barrie. It is a some sort of hybrid Mallard probably mixed with a domestic duck.

Chichester Marina
Christopher Evans was at Chichester Marina this afternoon with the Havant U3A Photography group enjoying glorious weather and the mix of wildlife and numerous opportunities for photos featuring reflections. At the end of the afternoon, Doug Yelland found a Great Northern Diver by the pontoon that leads away from the lock which caused great excitement. Earlier the group had seen a Black Swan - probably on migration from West Ashling Pond where there has been a small breeding colony for many years.

Postcard from Turkey
Peter Milinets-Raby is enjoying a family holiday in southern Turkey. He says there are not many birds to be seen - in comparison with Langstone Mill Pond - but he did get this little chap called a Yellow vented Bulbul with his phone.


Jean and I went down to Southsea this morning and had a walk along the prom towards South Parade Pier. The regular immature Shag was on Canoe Lake along with 34 Mute Swans. We stopped at the ever-popular 10th Hole Cafe for lunch from where we saw a flock of roughly 400 Brent Geese feeding on the adjacent golf course.

They later moved onto the cricket field to the west. As we were coming home along the Eastern Road, we saw another large flock of Brent Geese on the Salterns Golf Course. These are pre-migration gatherings, where the birds fatten up before their journeys.

Goldcrests have been prominent this winter, particularly on Brook Meadow where Malcolm Phillips has had lots of sightings and got numerous excellent photos of these tiny delightful birds. But today, even he was surprised. As he was watching a pair of Goldcrests near the S-bend in the river, trying to get a photo of them, a third Goldcrest arrived which had what Malcolm described as "an amazing crest, much brighter and bigger than I have seen before". Male Goldcrest has a bright orange crown which becomes flared open when the bird is excited. My guess is that Malcolm saw an intruding male attempting to impress a female with the size and colour of its crest.

Great Crested Grebes
Tony Wootton went over to Chichester Gravel Pits this morning searching for courting Great Crested Grebes - certainly the best place locally to see these splendid birds in action. Tony did not see any courtship displays - maybe it is a bit early in the year for them? However, he did get this fine male displaying its ornately crested black and orange head. Tony did get one clear sign of spring - a Chiffchaff song, the first I have heard about this year.


Nore Barn
I walked to Nore Barn early this afternoon, mainly to check on the Spotted Redshank. The water was still well in, but the ever-faithful bird was there as usual feeding on the seaweed on the shore. A Little Egret was in the stream nearby. But little else.

 On the way along Warblington Road I stopped to take a photo of the Sweet Violets on the grass verge near the junction with Valetta Park - still looking very good! I also stopped to admire the profusion of Three-cornered Garlic plants near junction with Kings Road.

Meanwhile, the newly crowned King and Queen Mute Swans of the town millpond were busy guarding the small entrance wall to the pond near the Slipper Sailing Club to repel any invaders. They have shown no interest whatsoever in nest building as yet.


Malcolm's gallery
Malcolm Phillips went to Langstone today and then walked back to Havant along the old railway line. He sent me a large collection of photos from which I have selected the following which caught my attention. He also got the Langstone Water Rail, but we have had a surplus of those this winter!

Collared Dove - a sadly neglected bird in this blog, but this one is a beauty
Starling exploring a tree hole as a nest site. Mmm, this is a nice one.

Pied Wagtail having a drink
House Sparrows mimicking Swallows

Mallards vigorously mating. But does the poor female really enjoy it?


Malcolm's gallery
Malcolm Phillips was on Brook Meadow today and got a couple of action shots with Long-tailed Tit and Magpie taking off.

Mike's gallery
Mike Wells spent a very pleasant, although rather cool, morning at the Hayling Billy Line/ Oyster Beds and got a number of excellent images of the local birds: Curlew, Rock Pipit, Great Crested Grebe, and Greenshank.

Early Bluebells
While dog walking yesterday in Ashling Wood, Dave Perks spotted a very small number (less than 10) Bluebells just coming into flower. This is incredibly early, though this is an incredible winter, so I suppose we have to expect the unexpected! I must get over there to have a look for myself, though, as Dave rightly points out, we may have to wait awhile to see them in their full glory. My earliest ever sighting of flowering Bluebells in Ashling Wood was on 23 Mar 2014 and last year they were not open until well into April. Here is a shot I got of them in late April last year.



Clean for the Queen on Brook Meadow
I went over to Brook Meadow this morning for the special work session focussing on the 'Clean for the Queen' litter clearance campaign. There was a good turn out of about 12 volunteers, including Jayne Lake from HBC and newcomers Jo Jenkins and her daughter Rhiannon. Volunteers were allocated to various litter picking jobs in and around the meadow. Meanwhile, Maurice and Nigel planted the two Silver Birch trees on the causeway which were donated by Alison West of Oak Meadow Close, Emsworth. Jo brought a delicious home made jam sponge cake which we all sampled at coffee break. At the end of the session all the bags of litter and other rubbish were collected together for collection by Council workers. Unusual items included an old wheelbarrow and a car wheel.

More photos to come late on the Brook Meadow web site at . . .

Scarlet Elf Cup fungus
While they were clearing litter from the Lumley copse Jo and her daughter Rhiannon came across some small bright red fungi growing on a rotting twig. I personally had not seen this fungus before, but putting 'red fungus' into Google quickly gave me the identification as Scarlet Elf Cup (Sacroscypha coccinea). This attractive fungus was a first for Brook Meadow.

The habitat in which the fungi were found in was exactly right as it grows on decaying sticks and branches in damp spots in woodland areas, usually buried under leaf litter or even in the soil. This was the case with the present samples as I had to pull the twig they were on out of the soil. Scarlet Elf Cup is not a rare fungus and is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere and usually appears in winter and early spring. It is also an edible fungus and Dan, one of the volunteers, who does some foraging, says they are quite tasty!
There is a delightful video on YouTube of a lady discovering some Scarlet Elf Cups at . . .

Other observations
A Buzzard was soaring overhead during much of the work session.
Pam Phillips reported a Rabbit on the meadow a couple of days ago. Rabbit is quite a rare animal on the meadow with only one or two sightings each year. In fact, the last sighting reported to me was by Malcolm Phillips on 27 June 2014.

I received excellent photos of Blackbirds today, a male from Malcolm Phillips on Brook Meadow and a female from Barrie Jay in his garden. Barry adds that the female Blackbirds are more mottled brown than usual this year. I can't say I have noticed this, but will look out for them. Note many of the Blackbirds we see at this time of the year will be migrants from the Continent that spent the winter here, though they will soon be returning. Incidentally, I have noticed a sharp increase in Blackbird song over the past week, particularly near dusk. A wonderfully rich and relaxed delivery. Only the male sings.


Langstone swan nest
Ralph Hollins was very surprised to see the photo by Christopher Evans (in yesterday's blog) of the Mute Swan apparently settling on a nest on the narrow bank of the Mill Stream at Langstone close to where it flows under the footbridge. Ralph has never seen this site used by Swans in the forty years he has been walking past the Mill Pond.
When Ralph checked the site this morning he saw neither a Swan nor a nest-shaped depression where Christopher saw the Swan yesterday. However, he did see the Swan apparently on a nest at the north end of the island near the footpath. At first the Swan appeared to be asleep with its neck and head resting on its back but it soon raised its head and started collecting material to add to the nest from the area it could reach without rising from its 'sitting' position on the nest.
Ralph added, "I feel certain that this is the chosen nest for this year and that the absence from view of the female Swan on my visits over the past week or so have been because the Swan has been working her way around the periphery of the pond checking out all the possible nest sites before deciding on the one I saw today".


Millpond News
This morning a Cormorant was sitting really snugly on the south raft of Slipper Millpond, enjoying the warm sunshine. There was no sign of the Great Black-backed Gulls, but three adult Herring Gulls were on the water, but unlikely to stay.

A pair of Mute Swans was on Peter Pond and looking very settled. I am quite optimistic they will get around to nesting. Here is a nice photo of the pair that Malcolm Phillips got when he was here this morning.

It was good to see Hazel catkins shining in the sunshine to the north of Peter Pond.

I met my friend John who reported seeing a Water Vole in the millstream at Westbourne. Let's hope they move downstream onto Brook Meadow.

Bird song
During this morning's walk, I was interested to hear several different Great Tit calls in addition to the classic 'teacher-teacher' song. I gather that over 60 different Great Tit calls have been recorded, which clearly accounts for the birder's adage 'if in doubt, go for Great Tit'. Malcolm Phillips got a photo of what could have been one of the songsters when he was on the meadow this morning.

This afternoon I heard two Blackbirds singing, one from gardens behind Bridge Road car park and the other from a garden close to the Community Centre.

Malcolm Phillips got a photo of a Bumblebee feeding on a Cherry Plum blossom.
From its ginger thorax my guess is Bombus hypnorum.

Langstone swans
Christopher Evans went down to Langstone late this afternoon and noticed that Mute Swans had selected their nest site. Going west past the millpond towards the Royal Oak, it is in the reeds on the right just before you cross the stream. More visible than last year. Is this the first local Mute Swan of the year?

At the eastern end of the pond, Christopher a Kingfisher flash across the pond into the reeds at the rear. Earlier, he had another sighting of the Southmoor Short Eared Owl.


Blackcap song
While replenishing the bird table this morning I heard the unmistakable rich fluty song of a Blackcap from a neighbour's garden. What a great sound for a fine and spring-like morning. However, this is almost certainly one of our wintering birds from the continent limbering up in preparation for its journey back to its breeding grounds in Germany possibly. It was not unexpected as I usually hear one at this time of the year; last year I heard Blackcap song on Mar 10 also from a local garden adjacent to Bridge Road car park.
Wintering and summering Blackcaps tend to overlap at this time of the year and are not easily separated. However, they tend to go for different habitats; wintering Blackcaps head for gardens where they are often seen on feeders; summer birds generally avoid gardens (unless they are large ones) and go for breeding habitats, such as Brook Meadow or Hollybank Woods.

Here is a nice photo of a male Blackcap in full voice
taken by Richard Somerscocks in April 2012.

Spotted Redshank
I popped over Nore Barn this afternoon at about 3.15pm. The tide was still well out and the stream was virtually empty. However, the ever-faithful Spotted Redshank was present on the edge of the stream, all alone. It could be here for a little while yet, as my final sighting last year was 20 March, though this was late. I have a feeling that it will be gone early this year. Most other wintering birds seem to have gone already; there was hardly anything else in the harbour this afternoon apart from a few Teal, Oystercatchers and gulls.

More harbour birds
Ralph Hollins sent me two photos - see below - from an ex-IBM friend, Paul Heyes, who now lives in Horndean, but visited Emsworth this afternoon. One is of a male Goldeneye taken in Emsworth Harbour. The other is a fine image of our regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL which I assume was taken in the stream at Nore Barn. I also assume the Spotted Redshank was not present at the time else Paul would have got that one too. I saw Greenshank G+GL on the shore to the east of Emsworth yesterday, but it was not at Nore Barn when I got the Spotted Redshank this afternoon.

Sexing Water Rails
Regarding the query from Maureen Power in yesterday's blog about how to sex Water Rails, Ralph Hollins says, "The short answer is that there is no reliable way of distinguishing males and females." Ralph referred to Wikipedia which says that males typically weigh 114-164 g (4.0-5.8 oz) and females are slightly lighter at 92-107 g (3.2-3.8 oz) and that the sexes are similar; although the female averages slightly smaller than the male, with a more slender bill, determining sex through measurements alone is unreliable.

However, Tom Bickerton, to whom I referred yesterday, is fairly sure the Water Rail sexes can be distinguished. He says, " The male has a broader bill at the base, it can be quite distinct, if you can get a good side elevation view of the bird. You can't really tell from this from Maureen Power's image as the bill is open, but it looks male. Somehow it seems easier in the field than from an image, just like male and female Buzzard. "

Short-eared Owls on Thorney
Christopher Evans went out with the Havant U3A Birdwatching Group on Thorney today and was delighted to see at least three Short-eared Owls. I happened to meet Barry and Margaret Collins in Havant this afternoon. Barry was a conservation warden on Thorney Island until recently and knows more about the island than anyone else! He confirms that this has been a bumper year for Short-eared Owls, though not up to 1991 which was the best in his memory when they had two roosts on the island. I think that was the year when I had my best ever sighting of seven Short-eared Owls quartering the Tournerbury Farm marshes during a WeBS count.

Here is a cracking shot of one in flight taken by Tony Wootton at Farlington Marshes on 16 Feb this year.

Early Bluebells?
Tony and Hilary Wootton walked around a Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve called The Moors today, just South of Bishops Waltham, and saw some Bluebells in flower. Tony says he doesn't know if they're Spanish but they are the first they have seen this year.

From Tony's photo the flowers look rather upright and remind me of the Spanish variety. I would expect native Bluebells to be more drooping. In any case, it is really far too early for native Bluebells. I usually check them at Ashling Wood in West Sussex and my earliest ever sighting was on 23 Mar 2014. Last year they were not open until well into April. Bluebells are always later emerging in Hollybank Woods. Here is a classic native Bluebell which I took in Hollybank Woods a few years ago for comparison.

Leighton Barrable was very impressed with this Starling which he took today in Southsea. What a cracker! The bird still has lots of the white speckling of its winter plumage, but the iridescent blues and greens of the breeding plumage are coming through. Leighton was not sure of its sex, but from the blue-grey colouring at the base if its bill I would guess at a male.

Barrable also sent me a photo of a gull, wondering if it was a Black-headed or a Mediterranean Gull. Barrable's photo is on the left and is clearly a Black-headed Gull - a Med Gull is on the right for comparison - taken a few years ago at Eastney. The main differences are in the head pattern, the bill colour but, critically, the absence of black wing tips in the Med Gull


Langstone Water Rail
Maureen Power got an excellent photo of the Langstone Water Rail yesterday (March 1st) afternoon, as it was feeding on some bird seed. Gosh, this bird is so tame, a photographer's dream bird. It reminds me of a similarly tame bird that we had at Baffins Pond many years ago which also used to come onto the path to take food. Sadly, we have had no sighting of Water Rail at all on Brook Meadow this winter, despite a lot of searching.

Maureen asked if there was more than one Water Rail at Langstone. I don't know the answer, but we have never had a sighting of two birds, so probably not. Maureen also asks about telling the sex of the bird. I recall Tom Bickerton telling me how this could be done, but I can't remember how. It's pretty difficult I should say.

New Forest wildlife
For those interested in the New Forest and its wildlife, Russell Wynn and Marcus Ward (Wild New Forest co-ordinators) have set up a new resource called 'Wild New Forest' with the primary aim of supporting local conservation and outreach activities. The website can be found at the link below, and contains an illustrated blog, monthly sightings, survey details, forthcoming events and more. Recent blogs include topics as diverse as nocturnal Woodcock ringing, Raft Spiders and Water Crickets, Sea Trout, colour-ringed Firecrests, and Hawfinch roost surveys. Blogs coming up this month are likely to cover Jackdaw roosts, False Widow Spiders, mammal camera trapping, and a Hawfinch survey update. The February sightings report will be uploaded this weekend.
Web site . . .

They have also set up a Facebook page for more rapid dissemination of news, images and video. Posts from the last couple of days show camera trap images of Badgers and Red Deer, video and photo evidence of New Forest ponies stripping bark off beech trees (which has helped trigger management action by the relevant authorities), Great Crested Newt activity, and a Hawfinch bait station. Facebook page . . .

Local groups on Twitter
Two of our local conservation groups now have adopted Twitter feeds as a means of communicating news. There are links to both Twitter feeds on the regular web sites. Twitter and Facebook certainly have attractions, but for the time being I am happy to carry on with the old-fashioned web site blog. Here are the Twitter links.
Hollybank Woods -
Friends of Emsworth Waysides -
On the waysides link I learned that a team from the Hollybank conservation group had done a good job cutting the Railway Wayside to the north of the station on Feb 29.

Pesticide-free Havant
An organisation called Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has mounted a campaign calling on all local councils to stop using toxic chemicals on roads, parks, waysides etc. Their target locally is Havant Borough Council - so please give them your support. The sight of some young chap going round the roads spraying nasty chemicals is not pleasant and the resulting ugly brown marks are scars on the environment. They even do it around trees and posts!
When we first started the Friends of Emsworth Waysides a few years ago I did my best to persuade the Council to stop this unecological practice, but we did not get anywhere. 'It saves money' was the usual reply. But what about the environment? Personally, if I catch one of these chaps spraying the street where I live I tell him to stop. We should all do this. Don't allow your local patch to be defaced by these nasty chemicals.
But not just that go one step further to put a stop to this out-of-date and unecological practice by supporting this campaign by PAN. You can find out more from their web site at . . . .

The local co-ordinator is Patricia Williamson Tel: 01243 378560 E-mail:
I also urge you to sign the online petition at . . . My signature was number 1,133 so there is a long way to go to get to the magic 10,000 when the government are required to respond.


Little Egret in garden
We often see a Little Egret perched on the garden wall at the end of our garden prior to its leaping down into the Westbrook Stream for little fish. However, we have never ever seen one in the garden itself until this morning when my wife excitedly called me to the kitchen where she was watching one striding around on the grass. I quickly got a few shots with my camera through the window before the bird flew off to perch in a neighbour's tree. To think I had to go all the way to Spain some 30 years ago to see one of these birds and now here they are in my back garden. Amazing.

Mystery Grebe solved
A couple of days ago I had an e-mail from Ann Davies reporting what she thought was a Slavonian Grebe fishing in Emsworth Harbour just below her garden wall overlooking the harbour. Ann added that the bird was larger than a Little Grebe with a longer neck which sounded more like a Great Crested Grebe than a rare Slavonian Grebe. As luck would have it, I spotted a diving bird fishing close to the eastern harbour wall when I was passing this afternoon. I got a distant snap of the bird to confirm the identification as a Great Crested Grebe. Maybe this was Ann's mystery grebe? This was the first Great Crested I have seen in Emsworth this winter; they usually come onto the town millpond, but I have not seen one there this year.

While on the shore, I also found a Common Redshank and a colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL feeding among the seaweed. This is, of course, the Greenshank that regularly feeds in the Nore Barn stream in company with the Spotted Redshank.

Little Egrets at Warblington
John Jury counted 21 Little Egrets in the cattle field to north of Pook Lane in Warblington this morning. These will be assembling for the nesting season at Langstone Mill Pond.

Ringed Long-tailed Tit
Hot on the heels of the ringed Marsh Tit, Mike Wells photographed another ringed species at QE Park yesterday - a Long-tailed Tit. As he says, 'Someone's been very busy with the rings!'

Dolphin in Chichester Harbour
In his review of February's wildlife, Ralph Hollins discusses the Dolphin that was seen several times in Chichester Harbour this month - including one reported to this blog by Barry Kingsmith at Langstone on Feb 14. It seems that this was the first Dolphin to enter Chichester Harbour for a least ten years and Ralph thinks it could have been injured after a collision with a ship. For more details see . . .

For earlier observations go to . . February 15-29