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

for October, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

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Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Two Spotted Redshanks
I spent about an hour at Nore Barn from 2pm this afternoon watching the tide slowly fall from high water at 11:30. There were very few birds about at first, though they started to arrive as the tide fell. The first birds in the stream were two Pied Wagtails that spent most of the time splashing and preening.

The regular Spotted Redshank was the next on the scene feeding in the stream, but there was no sign of its usual Greenshank feeding companion. After a few minutes I noticed a second Spotted Redshank further down stream, gradually making its way upstream towards the first Spotted Redshank. Eventually, the two met and fed quite happily almost side by side until they were disturbed by a person walking along the shore. This was my first sighting of two Spotted Redshanks this winter session, though two feeding in the stream have been fairly common in previous years. Sorry about the lousy picture, but my camera can't cope with bright sunshine.

Later a flock of about 50 Wigeon arrived, but no sign of any Teal with them. I also spotted two Black-tailed Godwits.

Coots return
Brendan Gibb-Gray counted 24 Coots on Slipper Millpond this morning, the most seen there so far this autumn. These will be the first of the migrants arriving to spend the winter on the pond and in the nearby harbour. Some years numbers build up to more than 150, though that is dependent on cold weather up north.

Here is part of a gathering of Coots near Emsworth Quay a few years ago.

Shore Lark on Hayling
At 17:00 on Friday 28 October, ace birder Andy Johnson discovered in Hayling Bay, Eastoke what I think was the first Shore Lark seen in Hampshire for 4 years. Andy says he watched the bird until 18:00 on the beach/promenade at the south end of Nutbourne Road. The area was heavily disturbed by walkers, cyclists and dog-walkers, but the bird remained in the vicinity.
The Shore Lark was seen again in the same area by several birdwatchers over the next couple of days. The sightings are on the HOS Bird Sightings web site. One person said, "You won't get a better view of a Shore Lark than this, particularly in the beautiful conditions. Park in Nutbourne Road, walk towards the sea, then left and it was on the sea wall and around the embankment". Grid Ref: SZ741981.
Yesterday (Oct 30), Colin Vanner went down to have a look and came back with this cracking photo of the Shore Lark in question, which was still showing very well. There was no sighting today on HOS.

Here is a photo of the last Shore Lark seen in Hampshire in January 2012 taken by Tony Wootton - this one was at Hayling Oysterbeds. Prior to that the last one was in 2009 and before that in 2003.

The Shore Lark is a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor to this country, mainly to the North Sea coasts. It rarely gets down as far as the South Coast. Birds of Hampshire describes it as a rare late autumn migrant and winter visitor. It nests on moors and mountain plateaux in Scandinavia.


Bosham Harbour
Jean and I had a walk around the harbour at Bosham this afternoon at low water. My attention was caught by masses of bright red plants on the edge of the saltmarshes, including both Glasswort species and Annual Seablite.

I also noticed a few flowers of what looked like a Sea-spurrey though the flowers were white not the usual pink.

Ash Dieback?
In response to my comment about possible Ash Dieback in trees on Brook Meadow, Chris Oakley has also found what appears to be the same disease in some self set Ash saplings in his garden. In contrast, Chris says, the parent tree on the other side of the road is in its seasonal golden glory and completely clear of any rot. Chris thinks this is the norm for Chalara dieback which affects the Ash tree, saplings are highly susceptible to the disease whereas many of the adult trees appear immune.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington shore this morning from 6:54am to 9:52am - tide slowing pushing in - misty to start. Ibis Field held 8 Moorhen.
Conigar Point was devoid of birds caused by two shooters sitting out in the channel shooting at everything that flew over and trying to call in Mallard with their comical sounding "Mallard quack Lure". I noticed they had bagged 4 Teal and 3 Wigeon. When they came ashore I chatted to them and they happily boosted of their very recent White-fronted Goose prize. It sounded like it was shot in the Pagham area! Such a shame.
Eventually after 40 minutes some of the wildfowl returned: 41 Wigeon (numbers drastically down on a couple of weeks ago), 20 Teal, 117 Brent Geese, 5 Grey Plover, 24 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, a single Sandwich tern was fishing.
In the Tamarisk hedge a Cetti's Warbler was singing occasionally. 13+ Skylark over, 9+ Meadow Pipit over.
Off Pook Lane: 174 Brent Geese, 182 Teal (some probably displaced from Conigar Point), 60 Wigeon (As there were only 2 birds here a few days ago, then all of these birds were probably displaced from Conigar Point), 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 49 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plover, 33 Shelduck, 7 Greenshank (RG//- + YY//-), 16 Lapwing, 7 resting Sandwich Tern, Female Red-breasted Merganser, Female Pintail. Kingfisher dashing over the salt marsh, occasionally hovering.
Horse paddock: 4 Moorhen and 4 Stock Doves.
Langstone Mill Pond: 70+ Goldfinch flock in alders. Water Rail heard. Little Grebe being very elusive and very shy. Took me a lot of patience to get a photo.

New sea defence wall at the end of Wade Lane path is now complete and looks okay (see photo).


Short-eared Owls
Colin Vanner was at Farlington Marshes today where he was delighted to see Short-eared Owls again. He says they were showing well in the end field. He got some typical excellent photos despite the poor weather.

He also got this female Kestrel.


Ash Dieback?
While I was collecting plants on Brook Meadow this morning for display at this evening's AGM I noticed that the large Ash tree on the railway embankment that partially overhangs the north path had lots of brown withered leaves. The small sapling on the river bank by the path was similarly affected. I was immediately alerted to the possibility of Ash Dieback disease which has been spreading from the Continent over the past few years. Here are a couple of photos showing some of the leaves on the large tree and those on the sapling. None of the other Ash trees along the north path appear to be affected. I would appreciate other people's views about this.

Garden Woodpecker
I was very pleased to see a male Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on the fat balls in my town garden this afternoon. This was the first Woodpecker sighting for almost a year, the last one being in November 2015. Since I saw both male and female birds on the feeders regularly through the winter last year, I hope to see them back again this year.


Dipper in the Hermitage Stream?
Responding to yesterday's blog entry about a possible Dipper sighting in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton, Peter Milinets-Raby says that piece of stream is very good and is potential Dipper winter habitat. Peter always visits the stream for his annual "January 1st Day List" for Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler. He will look out for Dipper, but thinks Susan's bird was most likely to be a Green Sandpiper of which there are often two in this section of the stream.
Here is a photo of a Green Sandpiper taken a few years ago on the Deckhouses Estate pond, North Thorney.

There is no doubt that Green Sandpiper fits Susan's description of a bobbing bird with pure white under-parts much better than Grey Wagtail does. I did not think of it at the time. I phoned Susan this morning and, having consulted her Collins Bird Guide, she agreed wholeheartedly about the Green Sandpiper. She was never very happy with my Grey Wagtail theory!

Ladybird invasions
After seeing so many Ladybirds yesterday, Roy Hay Googled "Ladybirds" and got a link to a Plymouth newspaper where residents were also experiencing a mass invasion of Harlequin Ladybirds. A fascinating story.

My only experience of such a swarm of Ladybirds was on Friday 8th October 2010 when walking along the main avenue in Stansted Forest with my wife, Jean. We encountered hundreds of them, they were simply everywhere, on clothes, hands, faces, arms, etc. We felt a few bites, but not serious. The insects varied considerably in pattern and colour, but were unmistakably Harlequins. Here is a photo I took at the time of Jean with another lady walker who was similarly plagued with Ladybirds.

These insects vary considerably in colour and pattern, but the most common ones are black with red spots and most have bright white cheeks. Here is a typical example on my wife's hand in Stansted.

The sudden appearance of Harlequin Ladybirds at this time of the year is not unusual. It is an annual event in which thousands of them seek places to hibernate over winter. Harlequins are not native to this country and first arrived in the UK in 2004, but are now widespread through the country and apparently threatening our native Ladybird species. Originally from Asia the Harlequin Ladybird was introduced into the USA to control aphids, but spread rapidly to become the dominant Ladybird on that continent. The lesson here is do not introduce an alien species without fully understanding the impact it might have on native species.

Pesticide action conference
Pesticide Action Network UK is holding a Pesticide-Free Towns Conference in Brighton on the 18th of November. Aimed at Councillors and Local Authority Officers, the event will provide talks, information and practical guidance on how to go pesticide-free in your local area. The Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1YD. Date: 18th November, 2016. Time: 9.30- 17.00. Price: Free to attend. Lunch will be provided.


Dipper in the Hermitage Stream?
Yesterday, I had a phone call from a lady named Susan to say she thought she had seen a Dipper in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton. I explained to her that Dipper was an extremely rare bird in our area. In fact, I could not find any mention of it at all in the Birds of Hampshire. Doing a search in Hampshire Bird News revealed only one authentic Dipper sighting at Fordingbridge in December 2012. However (just in case), I agreed to meet Susan at 10am this morning at the site, though I was fairly sure the bird must have been a Grey Wagtail.
We met in Meyrick Road Bedhampton and walked over to the stream where almost the first bird we saw feeding on the edge of the canalised stream was a Grey Wagtail! Susan reluctantly agreed that this must have been the bird she saw. It was an easy mistake to make for someone not familiar with these birds and their habitats.

Here are Grey Wagtail (taken on Brook Meadow) and a Dipper (taken in Scotland) for comparison.

As I was not familiar with this area, I was pleased to accompany Susan down the public footpath as far as Mill Lane. The path runs adjacent to the stream, though is shaded from it along most of the way, so not much can be seen. However, we did get a good view of 6 Gadwall (males and females) feeding in the stream just past the main waterworks.

Susan explained that the small area of grassland between Meyrick Road and the stream had been set aside as a wildlife open area by the developers of the nearby housing estate and that there had been a translocation of Slow-worms to the site, much as happened on Brook Meadow. She pointed out the rather fine Slow-worm interpretation board which unfortunately was large hidden from view by vegetation. This area needs a conservation group to look after it.

On the way down the path Susan pointed out an old and gnarled Mulberry Tree just inside the fence of the waterworks at Grid Ref: SU 70511 06271 which she says she gathered fruit from this summer.

Nore Barn
I called into Nore Barn on the way home at 11:15 which was about 3 hours after high water. There were a good number of birds feeding in the stream, including Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Greenshank (G+GL), 5 Black-tailed Godwits, Oystercatcher and Little Egret. I was surprised to see the Spotted Redshank and the Common Redshank feeding closely together as the former does not normally tolerate the latter. However, after a few minutes I saw the Spotted Redshank chase off the Common Redshank. There were 146 Wigeon in the main channel with a few Teal mixed in and 40+ Black-tailed Godwits in the creek, but too far to read any rings.

Hedge Cutting
When I got home I found a HBC (Norse) team of chaps busy cutting the old Beech hedge on the edge of Bridge Road car park. I was very pleased to see them doing this as the hedge was badly overgrown with brambles hanging over the footpath. They have done a very good job as shown in the photo.

I asked the men about cutting the wayside on the other side of the car park, but was firmly told they were not allowed to touch it as it was 'a wildlife area'! Well, at least, the wayside is now recognised for what it is. However, it does need its annual cut which I believe will be done by the Hollybank Woods group.

Ladybird plague
Roy Hay and his wife were walking near the Trundle at Goodwood this morning and found themselves covered with ladybirds. Then this afternoon when they got back home to Fishbourne, Ladybirds were on and in the windows. They are clearly all Harlequin Ladybirds, probably gathering for hibernation. Has anyone else seen Ladybirds in this number recently?

Roy also got his first sighting of a Water Rail near Fishbourne Meadows since last winter. We have seen nothing on Brook Meadow so far, but keep looking!


Brook Meadow
I had a walk through the meadow on a rather bleak and chilly afternoon. No special observations. I checked the Lumley Stream as usual, but no sign of any Water Vole. The Pepper-saxifrage is still in flower on the east side of the Lumley area. A hoverfly was actively feeding on the flowers - it looks like a Marmalade Fly (Episyrphus balteatus) which typically fly all year round in the south of England and just love umbellifers.

Hermitage Ponds
I checked both Peter Pond and the Gooseberry Cottage pond, but there was no sign of the male Mandarin Duck that has been seen there recently. Over on Slipper Millpond we still have the pair of Mute Swans back on their breeding territory with one of their original three cygnets still present. The other two have probably joined the swan flocks in the harbour.

Garden birds
I had three Chaffinches in my garden for the first time for several months. Here is a shot of a male on the bird table.

In his recent wildlife diary Ralph Hollins reports large movements of Chaffinches on the continent, including a report of 118,932 on Oct 16 at one site in the Netherlands, so more should be expected.
Ralph also heard his first Dunnock song in his neighbours garden, just enjoying the sunshine, he thinks, or maybe warning off continental Dunnocks looking for a good place to spend the winter. I have not heard one as yet, though one has been a daily visitor to the garden over the past week or so.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this lunchtime (Noon to 1:45pm tide out)
Off shore: 2 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 103 Teal on the mud - an increase over the last visit. 16 Sandwich Tern, 5 Common Gull, 1 adult winter Mediterranean Gull, 2 Wigeon, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 adult Mute Swans with 8 juveniles still hanging around, 121 Brent Geese (close enough to check - only 3 juveniles - a family group - early days yet), 25 Shelduck, 10 Dunlin, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Grey Plover, 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 18 Lapwing, 2+ Skylark over, 1 Meadow Pipit over, 1 Kingfisher dashed across the mud.
On the pond: 22 Teal, Water Rail heard several times.
Horse paddock: pair of Pheasant, 1 Buzzard on post (see photo). 51+ Goldfinch, 56 Brent Geese off Conigar Point.

A safety fence has been erected alongside the fallen wall at the end of the Wade Lane footpath. I spoke to the workmen and they will spray a special marine concrete on the wall with a metal mesh underneath. It will only take a few days. They are not putting the bricks back. Sounds good! See photo before the work starts.

Colin Vanner on Autumnwatch
Congratulations to Colin Vanner on having his photo of a Swallow in flight included in the BBC Autumnwatch programme this evening. Colin has been a fairly regular contributor to this blog with many excellent photos. Here a Swallow from my files that Colin took at Farlington Marshes in July 2011 - not the same as the Autumnwatch one, but just as good!


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had another visit to the shore alongside Langstone Mill Pond this morning (9am to 10:22am - low tide). But hardly any waders around this morning. What a difference from yesterday.
Off shore: Just 8 Sandwich Tern resting on the mud, 51 Teal, 16 Dunlin, 53 Brent Geese, 5 Shelduck, 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Lapwing, 41 Golden Plover.
Langstone Mill Pond: 14 Teal up-ending (see photo), 1 Little Grebe (hanging around), 2 Grey Heron. Reed Bunting female - nice and close for 10 seconds and just long enough for a photo. 5 Chiffchaff. Water Rail heard. Male Siskin feeding with 15+ Goldfinch in the Alders.


Brook Meadow
It was a very nice morning for the regular 3rd Thursday in the month work session on Brook Meadow with a good turn out led by Wally Osborne. The main job was cutting and clearing the Lumley area.

For a full report along with more photos go to . . .

The Lumley area is probably the most valuable area on the meadow from a botanical view as it houses most of the sedges and rushes as well as flowering plants, such as, Ragged Robin and Pepper-saxifrage. In fact, Pepper-saxifrage was still in full flower on the east side of the area and I made sure this rare plant was avoided by the cutters. Michaelmas Daisies are also putting on a good show immediately behind the Pepper-saxifrage.

The large number of reptile mats that had been scattered around the meadow were collected up as the survey was finished. The results showed a good population of Slow-worms, both adults and young, but no Common Lizards.

During the cutting two frogs were discovered and were moved to safety to the edge of the area. I also rescued a rather handsome snail from the cutting.

I was interested to see a number of plants still in full flower. In addition to the already mentioned Pepper-saxifrage I found Common Comfrey, Charlock, Guernsey Fleabane and Wild Angelica.

The seed heads of Hemp Agrimony are also showing well on the orchid area.

I also found several grasses flowering on the north meadow, including, very surprisingly, Meadow Foxtail ( usually a spring grass) and Cocksfoot which are shown in the photos below.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Langstone Mill Pond this morning 9:25am to 11:16am - tide very low, then coming in.

Off shore on the mud: 19 roosting Sandwich Tern (good count), Female Pintail with rings, 76 Teal, 55 Brent Geese, 10 Grey Plover, 4 Little Egrets, 2 Wigeon, 9 Common Gull, 3 Grey Wagtails with 2 Pied Wagtails on the mud! 10 Shelduck, 4 Greenshank (RG//- + YY//- & G//R + BRtag//-), 29 Bar-tailed Godwits, 66 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 adult winter Med Gull, 3 Meadow Pipits over, 9+ Skylarks over, 128 Golden Plover dropped in - nice views and every individual checked! 10 Lapwing with 29 over heading NW over Southmoor, 10 Dunlin. 2 Adult Mute Swans with just one juvenile out in the channel. In the distance off Conigar Point: 92 Brent Geese, 7 Wigeon.

I heard Redwing passing over, however, when I looked up all I saw was a flock of 50+ Fieldfare heading quickly north inland (I didn't see any small thrushes amongst them, though they passed over within seconds - I note on Going Birding that probably the same flock of Fieldfare was noted going over Leigh Park at roughly the right time!

Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Little Grebe - so uncommon on the pond, 1 female eclipse Shoveler, 2 Teal, 4 Grey Herons, Water Rail heard squealing several times.


Nore Barn
11:00 - 12:00 - I went over to Nore Barn this morning to catch the rising tide to high water at 14:13. When I arrived I could see plenty of Wigeon and Teal in the channels along with clusters of Common Redshank and the odd Curlew and Oystercatcher here and there.
Looking eastwards, I could see a gathering of around 200 Brent Geese near the Emsworth Sailing Club building, so I walked along Western Parade to have a closer look at them. Most of the Brents were too distant for aging, but I went through a group of 25 which were fairly close to the shore and found two small families, each with just one juvenile. Here is a digiscoped photo of a juvenile (with white wing bars) with one of its parents that I took today.

By the time I got back to Nore Barn the stream was filling up, but a lady was launching her boat so there was no chance of any waders. The only birds in the stream at that time were a Mute Swan and a pair of Herring Gulls. No sign of the Spotted Redshank.

Out on one of the fast diminishing mudflats, a flock of 36 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding. I had a good view of them through the scope and found two colour-ringed birds:
W+WN (left - white; right - white over black) - ringed 05-Sep-10 Farlington Marshes. It has been seen regularly in Emsworth Harbour since then. Total sightings = 63.
R+LG (left: red; right - lime over green) - This bird has been seen in Emsworth Harbour for the past 3 winters between Oct and Dec. It then probably moves further south. Total sightings = 9. Peter Milinets-Raby has also recorded it at Warblington.

My digiscoped photos of these Godwits today were terrible, so I am including some taken of the two birds in previous years.


Cormorant with Eel
Barrie Jay witnessed a not uncommon sight on Emsworth Millpond today when a Cormorant caught and consumed a very wriggly Eel. Barry added, "It swallowed it so quickly and after looked very pleased with itself!" Barrie's excellent sequence of photos captures the action perfectly. I must admit Eels often put up a much sterner resistance than this one appeared to do, but all succumb in the end.


Meeting with Nick and Jayne
I bumped into Nick Medina and Jayne Lake (of HBC and now Norse) at Slipper Millpond this morning. They were mainly discussing watercourses and flood defences. I asked Nick about the disappearance of the north raft on Slipper Millpond; he said it had disintegrated and would be replaced. The centre raft, which had moved, would be repositioned - in time for the nesting Great Black-backed Gulls no doubt!
Brendan Gibb-Gray arrived and had a discussion with Jayne about the decorative boat that had been planned for the south entrance to Bridge Road car park. We all thought it would be an attractive enhancement for the area.

I accompanied Nick and Jayne through Brook Meadow to the north-east corner to examine the Environment Agency flood defence wall. I pointed out to Jayne the bolts protruding from the barrier, where vandals had removed some of the cement bags and which are a risk to walkers.

I also asked Jayne if she could have a word with Andy Skeet about clearing the Willow branches that had fallen across the river after the pollarding of trees by the Artec factory.

Jayne asked about the waysides project which I said was now run by Jane Brook. Jayne said she would like to meet up with us both and maybe have a tour of the waysides to familiarise herself with the locations and any problems regarding management. Hopefully, Norse might be able to help with the cutting.

Juvenile Brents
I mentioned in last night's blog that there had been no sightings of Brent Goose juveniles so far this year, but I had not read Ralph Hollins diary entry which indicated that 7 juveniles were among a newly arrived flock of 53 in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 14 and another 4 juveniles in Pagham Harbour on Oct 15.

In addition, Tom Bickerton e-mailed me that on Oct 15 he saw some juveniles among a flock of 920 Brent Geese during his WeBS count on South Hayling, but he thought they were well below 3% of the total flock (ie less than 27) which would be a poor year. However, it is early days and Brent Goose families often arrive later than the main flocks.

Here are a couple of juvenile Brent Geese that I photographed at Nore Barn a couple of years ago. They show the white wing bars which are distinctive of juveniles.


Emsworth to Langstone
Peter Milinets-Raby did a very comprehensive bird survey of the shoreline from Emsworth to Langstone early this morning from 7:10am to 10:10am with tide pushing in. Here are his main observations. It is good to see Brent Geese are now back in numbers, but there is no indication as yet of any juveniles. Also, good to see Black-tailed Godwit numbers building up.

Emsworth Harbour at sunrise, from 7:20am (see photo). 4 Greenshank, 5 Little Egret, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 113 Brent Geese, 7 Turnstone, 2 Canada Geese, 4 Grey Plover.

Off Beacon Square from 7:48am: 75 Teal, 15 Wigeon, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Brent Geese.

Nore Barn from 8am: 206 Teal, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 152 Wigeon, 3 Mute Swan, 12 Brent Geese, 1 Buzzard over, 1 Greenshank (G//R + GL//-), 1 Spotted Redshank.

Warblington 8:25am: 27 Collared Dove on wires over the farm.

Ibis Field contained 1 Moorhen and 1 Grey Wagtail.

Conigar Point: 68 Brent Geese, 23 Wigeon - gun shot heard this morning at 7:15am from this direction, so no wonder numbers were down, 15 Teal, 8 Shelduck, 7 Grey Plover, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 13 Dunlin, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler heard and seen from Tamarisk Hedge - see photo.

Off Pook Lane from 8:49am: 14 Shelduck, 3 Knot, 23 Dunlin, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 27 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 70 Brent Geese, 64 Teal, 19 Lapwing, 8 Greenshank, 3 Little Egrets, Female Pintail with rings, 1 Snipe - first this year, 1 Kingfisher - dashed back and forth over the incoming tide line, hovering occasionally, dived just the once, before flying back t the pond. 1 Stonechat, 1 Chiffchaff in hedges

Horse paddock: pale juvenile Buzzard being mobbed by a single Jay (see photo), 2 Song Thrush.

Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Grey Wagtail, pair of Shoveler - still in eclipse plumage, 1 Teal, 15+ Goldfinch with 1 Siskin amongst them.

'Star bird' of Emsworth
The Havant Wildlife Group walked from Warblington to Emsworth this morning. When they reached Nore Barn they were rewarded with what Heather called the 'star bird' of Emsworth - with its friends Greenshank and Common Redshank. What an excellent group photo by Derek.

This Spotted Redshank is now back in Emsworth for the 13th winter running. First seen this year on Oct 11, a bit later than expected. But it's here and we all celebrate! For more on the history of this bird and photos go to . . .

Derek also got this excellent shot of a Grey Wagtail leaping over the stone wall at the head of the Nore Barn channel.

Painted Lady migration
Ralph Hollins tells me he was not overly impressed by the scientific calibre of the two main presenters of the recent BBC TV programme on the Painted Lady migration. So, he decided to ask Google what it knew about 'Painted Lady Migration'. Well, it confirmed that each year Painted Ladies do migrate north to the Arctic Circle over several generations and then shoot back to Morocco in one high speed high altitutude flight. However, far from being the 'new discovery' trumpeted by the TV programme, this was the conclusion of a large study conducted 7 years ago in 2009, the findings of which have since been accepted by the BBC, Butterfly Conservation and the scientific community as a whole. The documents cited by Google are well worth looking at to appreciate the amazing journeys made by these tiny insects.

Here is a Painted Lady that Malcolm Phillips recently got on Brook Meadow, maybe on its way to Morocco? But with wings in that condition, I find that hard to believe!


Malcolm's final news
Malcolm Phillips sent his last photos before he leaves Emsworth on route for his new life in Cuba. He wished they had been at Emsworth but they were from Havant. Nevertheless, it was good to see him leave with two cracking photos of his favourite wildlife, namely Water Voles. But how poignant that they were not from Brook Meadow where they are no more.

To send Malcolm on his way, I thought I would include a few of my favourites from Malcolm's early Water Vole photos on Brook Meadow, all were taken in 2012. PS Malcolm used to tempt the voles with apples. Those were the days!

One final photo that Malcolm got today in Havant shows a charm of Goldfinches vigorously bathing in the stream. Adieu Malcolm and all the best for the future.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond today at 9:05am to 10am (high tide). He caught the last of the waders on the salt marsh before they flew off towards Thorney Island. 2 Greenshank, 73 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Lapwing, 2 Sandwich Tern, 25 Brent Geese, 6 Teal.
On the Pond: Cetti's Warbler singing and seen (first he's heard for many months. None were present this summer. One was singing in the Tamarisk Hedge on Wednesday). Water Rail calling and seen flying across the pond from one reed bed to another. 1 Grey Wagtail, Pintail female, 62 Teal, Female Shoveler, 1 Mistle Thrush, 29 Goldfinch.

The highlights from Peter's Wednesday visit were 99 Black-tailed Godwits, 27 Grey Plover, 61 Bar-tailed Godwit and 8 Knot. 108 Wigeon off Conigar Point (his equal highest count for that area. He thinks they have turned up this winter in larger numbers than usual - weather permitting he will count the whole area this weekend ahead of the early morning high tide).


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had only a short time on the meadow today, but got a couple of good shots: A Red Admiral with broken wing feasting on the Michaelmas Daisies on the Lillywhite's patch and an adult Slow-worm under one of the mats.


Nore Barn
I went over to Nore Barn at about 11.30am with the tide falling. There were plenty of Wigeon and Teal on the mudflats along with 44 Black-tailed Godwits - the best count so far this winter. I spotted one bird with a white flag on its right leg; I could not see the other rings clearly, but I think it is WO+LW flag (white over orange on left leg and lime over white flag on right leg). This bird has been a regular visitor to Emsworth since the winter of 2010-11 and always turns up in early October. It is a male ringed in Langhus, north Iceland by Ruth Croger and Pete Potts on 13th July 2010. Here is a photo I took of the bird at this time last year.

The Spotted Redshank was feeding in the stream along with the colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL, a couple of Black-tailed Godwits and a Little Egret. It is looking as sprightly as ever.


Nore Barn
I got down to Nore Barn at 10am this morning which was about 2 hours after high water. A lovely autumn morning with little wind. Waders were already gathering in the stream area including 13 Black-tailed Godwits. There was one colour-ringed godwit with three rings on each leg, marking it as a bird ringed in Kent. I think the colours were OYL+RLR which I have not seen before. I will need to check this combination with Pete Potts.


Most important was the first sighting of the Spotted Redshank which I have been waiting anxiously for the past few weeks. It is much later than last year when I had my first sighting on Sep 27 and bucks the trend for progressively earlier arrivals. This will be the 13th winter that this bird has come to Emsworth. Here it is feeding in the stream along with the colour-ringed Greenshank and two Black-tailed Godwits. Spotted Redshank is second from the left.

Chris Berners-Price happened to arrive on the shore and we both were able to enjoy this wonderful bird. There was another unringed Greenshank in the stream, but it was chased off by the colour-ringed bird. Other birds in the stream were two Little Egrets, a Common Redshank and some Black-headed Gulls.

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

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips did not find much of interest on the meadow today, though he did send me this nice shot of a male Common Darter which are simply everywhere at the moment.

Thorney Ospreys
Colin Vanner went over to Thorney Deeps on Sunday and got some superb images of the Ospreys in flight

Ring Ouzel
Tony Wootton spent 4 hours on Butser Hill today looking for Ring Ouzels and he got his just rewards with this cracking photo of what he thinks is a male.


Brook Meadow
I walked over to the meadow this morning. Lovely sunshine, but a chilly easterly wind. I met Malcolm Phillips who had just seen a Grey Wagtail and a Blackbird bathing in the river near the north bridge.

Malcolm confirmed that he would be leaving Emsworth this weekend for good, so this might be our last meeting. He will be staying with friends in Wales until his flight to Cuba at the end of October. He told me that his house in Cuba was safe after the hurricane, though there had been damage to others in the village. I told him how much we appreciated his help with the wildlife and took a final photo of him taking aim with his camera. Goodbye, Malcolm and good luck!

We passed by Gooseberry Cottage where the male Mandarin Duck was on the pond with a number of Mallard. Malcolm also spotted a Kingfisher fly past.
Finally, we both clambered over the wire fence onto the Lillywhite's patch next to Gooseberry Cottage and stood for several minutes watching the butterflies and the hordes of bees that were feeding on the Michaelmas Daisies. We saw at least three Red Admirals, but no Painted Lady though Malcolm did see one very briefly. There were lots of Honey Bees and small Bumblebees, but the best was a large queen Bombus terrestris with a distinctive dirty white tail. These are my pictures.

Slipper Millpond
The Mute Swan pair was back on their breeding territory on Slipper Millpond with just one of their cygnets, the other two having been jettisoned already.

The north raft has sunk, its position is marked by a buoy. The centre raft has also moved far more into the centre of the pond. The south raft remains in the same position. I will try to find out if these changes are deliberate.

Nore Barn
I popped over to Nore Barn in the late afternoon to catch the rising tide. I counted 176 Common Redshank on the edge of the main channel along with a few Black-tailed Godwits. In the stream were a Little Egret, a Common Redshank and the regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL, but no Spotted Redshank.

This does not look good for the return of the Spotted Redshank, but there is still hope. The first sightings in 2012 and 2013 were Oct 9 and Oct 11 respectively, so keep looking!

Ring Ouzels
Mike Wells was very excited to read in last night's blog entry about the Ring Ouzels at Butser, as he has never ever seen one! So off he went to Butser this morning and saw about 5-6 of them, mingled in, he says, with the Blackbird and Song Thrush 'decoys'.

Tony Wootton went searching for the Ring Ouzels which had been reported on Portsdown Hill. He spent a couple of hours mainly above the chalk cliff but to no avail. However he did find this rather sorry looking Painted Lady and wondered if it was really going to fly back to France. I doubt it, Tony.

Southsea Seal
Joyce Sawyer and her husband were sitting at Southsea Castle looking at the sea when a Seal's head popped out of the water close to the shore. As soon as it popped up it slid back into the water so they were unable to get a picture, but it really made their day. Here is a great shot of a Seal doing just that taken by Tony Wootton in Chichester Harbour in February 2010.

Warblington shore
After being stuck indoors all weekend, Peter Milinets-Raby was delighted to get out, but all the birds had gone! He visited the Warblington shore this afternoon 1:15pm to 2:52pm - low tide. 6 Stock Doves in fields that used to contain corn on the cob, now just dry earth, well flattened.
Conigar Point: 8 Brent Geese, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Grey Plover, An adult winter plumaged Med Gull (first I have seen for two months!), 42 Teal, 10 Wigeon, 14 Shelduck, 1 Greenshank, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Sandwich Tern, Female Pintail, 2 Common Gulls, 1 Kestrel.
2 to 4+ Chiffchaff in Tamarisk Hedge.
SSSI Field - male Stonechat and 3 Meadow Pipits - lots of berries, but no Ouzels
Off Pook Lane: 62 Bar-tailed Godwit, 158 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank (B//R +LO//-), 23 Dunlin, 16 Knot, 4 Lapwing, 7 Brent Geese.


Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips has been very busy with preparations for his move to Cuba. However, he did manage to visit Brook Meadow this morning and got a splendid selection of photos. Butterflies are still feeding on the Michaelmas Daisies on the Lillywhite's land by the Gooseberry Cottage garden. Here are Red Admiral and Small White.

But best of all Malcolm captured both the underside and the upper wings of a Painted Lady. Painted Lady is a migratory butterfly, but is unable to hibernate unlike, for example, the Peacock, and will perish once winter arrives.

Malcolm also found this Chiffchaff still active on the meadow. Unlike the Painted Lady butterfly it will probably head off fairly soon for the Mediterranean area where it spends the winter. However, a few do tend to hang around provided the winter is not too cold.

Thorney Deeps
Tony Wootton reported on the Saturday morning walk by the Havant Wildlife Group during which they saw 2 for sure and possibly 3 ospreys and a marsh harrier. For full report go to . . .

Ring Ouzels bonanza
John Clark says, "The records on Going Birding today suggest we may be experiencing our biggest ever autumn influx of Ring Ouzels. I took the opportunity to visit the Butser Hill car park this evening, where 35-50 were reported this morning, but unfortunately the weather was very inclement, with heavy downpours! There were several Ring Ouzels showing well in the berry laden bushes around the car park and I did see at least 7 apparently fly off NW to roost. There's also lots of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes there as well. Some other birders I spoke to who'd been around the area all day said there were Ouzels all over the area and thought the count of 35-50 was a bare minimum. It obviously worth checking all high points with berry-laden bushes tomorrow, and also the traditional spots in the New Forest. Someone who covers the Butser Hill/QEII Country Park area thoroughly tomorrow could well get a very high total."

Ring Ouzels are so rare in our area that I had a real trawl through my files to find a photo of one taken locally. I found this one taken by Caroline French at Stoughton on 18-Apr-2013 showing the very characteristic crescent shaped white bib. Ring Ouzel is often referred to as the 'mountain Blackbird' which breeds in the northern hills and mountains and is only seen down here when on migration in spring and autumn.


Baffins Pond - Feral Pigeons
While in Portsmouth this morning I managed a quick visit to Baffins Pond. There was nothing of special interest on the pond, but I was attracted by the rich variety of plumages of the 300 or so resident Feral Pigeons. What a joy they are! Here is a shot of some of them on the edge of the pond.

Real birders tend to turn their noses up at these gone-wild descendants of domesticated Rock Doves, but personally I love them, not only for their colourful glossy plumage, but also for their gentle and loving nature and crooning voice with which they court one another. Here's a close-up I got of one at Baffins Pond today.

I am not surprised to read in the recent 'Birds of Hampshire' that Feral Pigeons are grossly under-reported given their so-called 'plastic' reputation which means that data on their numbers is sketchy. This probably accounts for the absence of the Baffins Pond flock in this erudite tome, though to my knowledge they have been resident at the pond for at least 30 years. They must be one of the largest flocks in the Solent area?

Nore Barn
I called into Nore Barn on my way home from Portsmouth. On my arrival I was dismayed to see a dog playing around in the stream with the owner standing nearby encouraging the activity. Forgive them for they know not what they do.
As a consequence, all birds that normally feeding in the stream area had moved out to the far channel. These included a mixed flock of Wigeon and Teal and the usual Common Redshank. I was particularly pleased to see 4 Black-tailed Godwits (no rings) and two Greenshank with colour-rings. YO+YY - Ringed 8 Sep 2013. Last seen on 07-Oct-14 at Nore Barn). G+YG - Ringed 08-Sep-13. Last seen on 12-Aug-15 in Emsworth Harbour.

Wild Clary at Hayling
The only local Wild Clary I know about is the colony on the grass verge in Christopher Way Emsworth. However, Ralph Hollins has discovered another one currently freshly flowering at the southern end of Langstone Bridge beside the path which connects the main road to the old rail line at approx SU 7192-0392 on the southern shore of 'Texaco Bay.
Ralph gives the following directions: "The quickest way to see it if you go by car is to cross Langstone Bridge and continue south past the Texaco Garage then make a difficult right turn to enter the shoreline car park. After parking, walk south and turn right on to the path heading towards the Billy Line but as soon as you emerge from the shade of the trees, and before reaching the first sharp left turn in the path, look for the lone Clary plant growing by the north edge of the path you are on".

Thorney Ospreys
Juliette Leach says she just couldn't resist returning to Thorney deeps (West side) with her camera today. She says, "The Osprey took a while to appear but when it did it came zooming in from nowhere. I had a new 250mm focal lens and a new contraption - a doubler so I could zoom in on my prey! Unfortunately, the double meant that most of my photos were out of focus and I had to focus manually but of the 180 photos that I took I was pleased with a couple of them! The Osprey made several attempts to dive (which were quite spectacular) but bombed out at the last minute. However on its 3rd attempt, I knew it was going for it, the legs came out and in it splashed! It caught a small fish in its talons which it proceeded to eat on a fence post at the far end of the water. Watching on, a few fences posts down was another Osprey (they had been circling together earlier).

Here is Juliette's sequence of photos of the Osprey diving

On her way home Juliette heard some small bird squeaking from the reeds only to see a Kestrel ploughing headlong into the reeds and out popped a Kingfisher in terror!.

Firecrest at Stansted
Brian Lawrence had a couple of hours at Stansted House this afternoon and got this excellent shot of a Firecrest in the Dutch garden. This is the first Firecrest photo of the year for the blog!


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Langstone Mill Pond this morning in very strong east winds (10:54am to 12:04pm tide half in):
The highlight of the visit was encountering four birds of prey. The first was a Buzzard species beating hard against the wind flying from Hayling Bridge towards Conigar Point (Should have been easy to ID, except that it was in the sun glare and virtually a silhouette - the long "head" troubled me and longish narrow looking wings confused and it was difficult to gauge jizz as it was flying very awkwardly into a very strong breeze - a possible Honey, but again will have to let it go unidentified - I should of tried to grab a photo, but just too windy!
Next a female Sparrowhawk flew across from north Hayling and kept very low over the mud before dashing up the Wade Lane footpath.
A Peregrine next (looked like a juvenile) dashed through the waders, failing to connect, but scaring off everything.
And, finally, in the distance over Thorney Island I had brief views of an Osprey trying to hover and plunge dive, but pulling out each time.
Other birds of note were off shore: 18 Sandwich Tern, 8 Common Gull, 36 Teal, 3 Greenshank, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Lapwing, 6 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover, 147+ Redshank, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Female Pintail with rings, A single Brent Goose.
On the pond were: 8 Little Egrets, 4 Grey Herons, 7 Teal, 3 male & 2 female Shoveler in eclipse, 1 Linnet, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtails.

Brian's news
Brian Lawrence was at Langstone this afternoon and did manage to get a photo of one of 4 Buzzards that he saw over the field by the pond - definitely a Common Buzzard.

Brian also saw the large flock of Redshank and got a photo of a few of them.

Thorney delights
Juliette Leach and her mother were very excited to get a great view of an Osprey today over Thorney Deeps and over their heads on the footpath. It was being harried by crows and seagulls but seemed unperturbed. They also saw two Crested Grebes fishing in the deeps at the water inlet and had a great view of a Kingfisher flying along the stream.
On the shore side as the tide was receding they saw a lone Grey Plover - the first either of them had ever seen so naturally they were very excited by that too. Nice one.


This morning Jean and I went to Stansted for coffees in the Pavilion Cafe. While there we were pleased to meet up with Chris Cope and Marion Harrington, members of the Havant Wildlife Group, who told us they had been friends for nearly 50 years!
After coffee we walked through the avenue of Michaelmas Daisies in the walled garden. These late summer flowers are excellent sources of nectar for late flying insects and today were attracting a variety of bees, including this magnificent white-tailed Bumblebee - probably Bombus terrestris - queen or worker? This species often nests late in the year.

Jean and I also had a walk round the arboretum during which we were constantly accompanied by the cries of Buzzards soaring overhead. I can never resist picking up a handful of bright brown conkers from the ground, though sadly kids don't play with them any more. Here is one I found just emerging from its prickly case. I find that just magical!

While walking through the arboretum, we came across a notice advertising the 'Tree of the Month' - called Henry's Lime (Tilia henryana). The notice from Head Forester, Michael Prior, informs us that Henry's Lime was introduced to Britain by the plant hunter Ernest Wilson in 1901 and named after Augustine Henry who first discovered it in China in 1888. This particular specimen in Stansted Arboretum is rather special as it was grown from wild seed collected in China by a specialist nursery and was planted as a small transplant in 1991. Michael says that modern nursery produced stock these days has a much tidier shape than this tree.

The small ivory flowers appear in the autumn in clusters of up to 20 and have a rich perfume and abundant nectar for late bees.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips had an hour on the meadow today and got several interesting photos, as always. Most interesting was a very furry orange caterpillar which I think is usually referred to as a 'woolly bear'. However, as pointed out to me by Ralph Hollins a few years ago (October 2011 to be exact), the common woolly bear type caterpillars of the Fox Moth and Garden Tiger Moth have some black hairs giving a two tone appearance and also they go into hibernation early in the summer. Malcolm's is almost certainly a Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar which waits until the autumn before it goes in search of a hibernation site.
See the UK Moths web site at . . .

Malcolm also got a female Blackbird eating one of the Rowan berries from the trees on the east side of the north meadow. Caught in the act!

Malcolm also spotted this interesting insect which looks vaguely like the Caddis Fly that he got on Sep 28, though I hesitate to give any pronouncement on this since I thought the last one was a moth! My thanks to Tony Davis who confirmed that this insect is also a Caddis Fly.

Wild Clary at Hayling
I thought the only local Wild Clary was the colony on the grass verge in Christopher Way Emsworth. However, Ralph Hollins has discovered another one currently freshly flowering at the southern end of Langstone Bridge beside the path which connects the main road to the old rail line at approx SU 7192-0392 on the southern shore of 'Texaco Bay.
Ralph gives the following directions: "The quickest way to see it if you go by car is to cross Langstone Bridge and continue south past the Texaco Garage then make a difficult right turn to enter the shoreline car park. After parking, walk south and turn right on to the path heading towards the Billy Line but as soon as you emerge from the shade of the trees, and before reaching the first sharp left turn in the path, look for the lone Clary plant growing by the north edge of the path you are on".

Ospreys on Thorney
Juliette Leach says she just couldn't resist returning to Thorney deeps (West side) with her camera today. She says, "The Osprey took a while to appear but when it did it came zooming in from nowhere. I had a new 250mm focal lens and a new contraption - a doubler so I could zoom in on my prey! Unfortunately, the double meant that most of my photos were out of focus and I had to focus manually but of the 180 photos that I took I was pleased with a couple of them! The Osprey made several attempts to dive (which were quite spectacular) but bombed out at the last minute. However on its 3rd attempt, I knew it was going for it, the legs came out and in it splashed! It caught a small fish in its talons which it proceeded to eat on a fence post at the far end of the water. Watching on, a few fences posts down was another Osprey (they had been circling together earlier).

Here are some of Juliette's photos of the Osprey diving.

On her way home Juliette heard a small bird squeaking from the reeds only to see a Kestrel ploughing headlong into the reeds and out popped a Kingfisher in terror!


Peter Pond
I was passing Peter Pond at 9.30am and was surprised to see a Mute Swan family of one adult (probably female) plus 3 cygnets. I assume they were from the Slipper Millpond nest earlier in the year.

There was no sign of the Mandarin Duck, but I counted at least 50 Mallards, plus a few Coot and Moorhen. I spotted a Brown Rat feeding on a bank of cut reeds which is where David Gattrell probably leaves food for the ducks.

Nore Barn
I nipped over to Nore Barn at 11.00am to catch the rising tide. I could see masses of Wigeon and Teal on the far mudflats - a good 500 at an estimate. There was also A good flock of 62 Redshank plus one Black-tailed Godwit and a Curlew. Seven Mute Swans were in the stream near to high water, but no waders. Four Greenshank were resting on the mudflats. I tried hard to turn one of them with rings on its legs into a Spotted Redshank!

I am getting a bit anxious about the Spotted Redshank. Will it not be with us for its13th winter running?

Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby had a look at the western harbour this afternoon to see the waders arrive as the tide dropped.
Beacon Square from 3:35pm: 1 Buzzard, 8 Sandwich Tern resting on Buoys and flying around, 24 Teal. Meadow Pipit heard flying over on three occasions.
16 Greenshank flew in at 4:08pm (G//R + GL//- & B//R + BB//- & G//R + LY//- The BB could be GB, so difficult to tell at distance.. Also had YO, but just the one leg noticed. If there is only one YO, then that's easy to work out).
Emsworth Harbour: 21 Turnstone resting on a yacht, 80+ Brent Geese deep in the harbour, 1 Great Black-backed Gull.
Nore Barn: 10 Teal.


Brook Meadow
I went over to Brook Meadow this morning for the regular first Sunday in the month work session. It was a nice autumnal morning with a chill in the air and a good group of volunteers assembled with one new lady. Jennifer asked Dan to lead the work session.

The main task was to finish cutting and raking the orchid area in the north meadow which was started on the last workday. It now looks fine, all ready for next year's crop of orchids hopefully.

Meanwhile, Jennifer and Debbie got into the river to clear rubbish.

For Dan's report on the work session plus more photos go to . . .

Wildlife news
Pam Phillips told me she regularly sees two Kingfishers in early morning in the Dolphin Quay area near Slipper Millpond. These birds will have come down river after breeding and will be around for the winter.
During the clearing of the orchid area one of the volunteers came across a beautiful Four-spot Spider (Araneus quadratus) which is easy to identify from its round abdomen with four spots on the top. After being well viewed by all the volunteers and photographed by me, it was placed out of harm's way in the bushes.

While walking around the meadow I noticed several grasses were flowering, including Tall Fescue, Annual Meadow-grass, False Oat-grass and Cocksfoot.

Another Crack Willow tree has come down across the south path, though one can easily get beneath it.

Malcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips was on the meadow this morning and stayed around until about 2.30. During that time he saw three Buzzards soaring over the meadow, probably from the Lumley Mill Farm site. Here is one of them.

A Kingfisher flew past him twice between the S-bend and north bridge, but they were too quick for a photo. But clearly Kingfishers are about as Pam said.
Malcolm also got a Comma on the Michaelmas Daisies - we have not had one of those for a while. He also got what I think is a male Migrant Hawker. This dragonfly tends to fly later than the more common Southern Hawker.

Finally, Malcolm had a look at Peter Pond where he found the male Mandarin Duck posing for a photo. Dan Mortimer whose house overlooks Peter Pond tells me he sees this bird regularly in the morning on the pond. But we have had no further sightings of the female.

Malcolm tells me he will be leaving Emsworth on Oct 16 to make a new life with a new wife and house in Cuba. We wish him well. As I have said before, Malcolm has made an important contribution to wildlife records of Brook Meadow and we shall miss his excellent photos.

For earlier observations go to . . .September 1-30