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

for November, 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

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Staunton Park
Mike Wells took a walk around the lake in Staunton Park this morning with the temperature about 2 degrees above zero! However, the sun was shining and his luck was in with a lively Goldcrest flitting around in the bushes.

Mike also spotted two butterflies sunning themselves despite the low temperatures, a Red Admiral and a Speckled Wood.

Red Admiral is now an all-year round butterfly and can be seen anytime in winter in warm sunshine. However, Speckled Wood is not usually seen this late in the year. It normally hibernates either as a caterpillar or as a chrysalis, but this adult is hanging on. Maybe it will start a trend of hibernating as an adult? I have suggested to Mike that he sends the Speckled Wood sighting to the Hants butterfly conservation at . . .


Hedge laying on Brook Meadow
A cold and frosty morning with bright sunshine. I went over to the meadow for the start of the special hedge laying work session on the Seagull Lane patch led by Mike Probert (centre). Other volunteers from left to right were Colin, Maurice, Tony and Rachel from TCV.

The first job was to cut out the rose bushes from the Jubilee hedge as they would hinder the hedge laying. Two Field Maple saplings were also cut down leaving one to grow as a standard.
Once the hedge had been cleared, Mike demonstrated the art of hedge laying which would be carried out after lunch and continued on Thursday. Mike, of course, was also instrumental in laying the Hawthorn hedgerow on the west side of the main meadow several years ago which is now well and strong.

This Jubilee hedge on the Seagull Lane patch was originally planted in March 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and has grown magnificently. Here is a reminder of the planting day. The three Pedunculate Oaks were planted on the same occasion.

From the north bridge I caught sight of one and possibly two wintering Chiffchaffs flitting around in the Crack Willows over the river. I did not get a photo, but here is a shot of one that Malcolm Phillips got at about this time last winter.

Nore Barn
After lunch I went over to Nore Barn by 2pm to catch the falling tide. The tide was still well in, though the stream was emptying. The usual gathering of Wigeon was in the stream area though nothing else of special interest apart from the regular Spotted Redshank snoozing on one leg.

The western harbour was full of Brent Geese, I would estimate 300-400. Most exciting, in view of the scarcity of juvenile Brents this winter, was the presence of a family with 4 juveniles close to the shore. This was the best photo I could get of them into the sun. The four juveniles on the left followed by one of the parents.

Avocets at Nutbourne
Brian Lawrence had a walk around Nutbourne today and was lucky enough to see the Avocets as they were disturbed and took flight. Brian managed to get this splendid shot of several of them in flight.

He also saw huge numbers of Brent Geese in flight over Chidham.


Brook Meadow
I had a walk through the meadow on a cold but sunny morning. Entering the Seagull Lane gate I met Maurice Lillie and Michael Probert who were unloading some sticks in preparation for the special hedge laying work session along the west side of the Seagull Lane patch tomorrow.

Out of the chilly wind the sun was very warm and I was not at all surprised to see a Red Admiral fluttering by on the main river path. Red Admirals are now all-year-round butterflies. This one did not stop for a photo, but here is one that Malcolm Phillips got at this time last year.

A view of the meadow in winter sunshine looking north from the main river path.

There was not much of interest on the plant front, though I did see plenty of fresh spikes of Cocksfoot on the north meadow along with some False Oat-grass and Tall Fescue.

I had a closer look at the Polypody growing on the north bridge which John Norton thinks is Intermediate Polypody (Polypodium interjectum), which is strongly triangular frond shape, whereas Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare) is usually almost parallel-sided. Here is a view of the underside of a frond showing the clusters of sori where the spores are made.

And here is a microscopic close up (x20) of the sori which appear yet to ripen.


Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby was out early this morning to count the whole area from Emsworth to Langstone, but discovered that the tide was already in, so he just checked the Emsworth end (7:20am to 8:34am - high tide). Not much about, though the Sandwich Terns were worth getting up before sunrise for.
Emsworth Harbour: 1 Little Egret, 292 Brent Geese, 69 Canada Geese, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Little Grebe, 10 Shelduck, 6 Red-Breasted Merganser, 1 Turnstone. 5 Sandwich Terns wheeling about and actively fishing (one was a juvenile, still begging with squeaking calls for food).

Beacon Square (from 8:04am): 2 Shelduck, 32 Brent Geese, 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Turnstone, 17 Grey Plover, 55 Dunlin, 1 Jay in the back gardens, 1 Grey Heron over.
Nore Barn: 112 Wigeon, 10 Teal (where do they go at high tide?), 3 male and 2 female Pintail, 48 Brent Geese. 1 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank (both roosting along the edge of the salt marsh)


Barnacle Geese movement
Ralph Hollins reported that an astonishing 18,080 migrant Barnacle Geese had arrived in the Netherlands yesterday. Here is a shot of Barnacles on their wintering ground in Scotland

Ralph says, "We do not normally see migrant Barnacles here in southern England but on 26 Jan 2015 Peter Raby watched a flock of 75 fly west over Langstone which were almost certainly migrants and it will be interesting to see if some of the migrants that have just arrived in the Netherlands do fly on to England." Here is Peter's photo of the Barnacle Geese passing over his head in Jan 2015.

The only Barnacle Geese we normally see locally are the feral variety, ie descendants of captive populations which do not migrate. There used to be a famous group of 42 Barnacle Geese on Baffins Pond in the 1990s and early 2000s, affectionately referred to as the 'Baffins Gang' by birders at Titchfield Haven, but they have long since gone. Here are a few of the Barnacle Geese at Baffins Pond with a couple of Snow Geese that I took in 2004.

More recently, there is a pair that have managed to breed successfully on Baffins Pond over the past two years, producing one chick each time. Here is a photo of a family on Baffins Pond taken by Eric Eddles in 2015.

Water Rail
Pam Phillips saw the Water Rail again today on Brook Meadow, this time it was on the river bank at the back of the old gas holder.

Chris Oakley spotted these Amethyst Deceivers (Lacaria amethystea), growing beneath the beech tree on the Nursery Close wayside. He says the recent wet spell has brought out quite a variety of fungi, whereas a couple of weeks ago there were none to be seen.


Nore Barn
The tide was already well out by the time I got to Nore Barn this morning (11.30). The stream was empty, but the usual gathering of ducks, gulls and waders could be seen in the low water channel drinking and washing in the fresh water. What I assume was the regular Spotted Redshank was among them, deep in the clear water. Its distinctive profile can be seen on the left of the photo. The others are Wigeon and Black-tailed Godwits.

A good flock of 56 Black-tailed Godwits was feeding on the mudflats. I found three colour-ringed birds among them, all good friends of Emsworth Harbour.

G+WR - ringed at Farlington Marshes on 10-Sept-08 as ad male. A regular in Emsworth Harbour. 6th sighting this winter and 118th in all.
W+WN - ringed 05-Sep-10 Farlington Marshes. A regular in Emsworth Harbour. 2nd sighting this winter and 64th in all.
ROL+RLR - ringed on 27-Oct-08 at Kingsnorth Power Station, Medway Est. Kent as an adult male. A regular in Emsworth Harbour. 4th sighting this winter and 90th in all.

I counted 164 Brent Geese on the mudflats, but no sign of any juveniles.

Winter tomato
Chris Oakley was amused to see this tomato plant growing in a pavement in a car park at the end of November. Just goes to show how determined some plants are to grow, despite the conditions.


Guillemot in Emsworth
This afternoon, Kate Gillard saw a Guillemot (presumably blown in on the storm and taking shelter) just next to the outflow from the millpond right beneath the quay next to the Slipper Sailing Club. Kate attached what she described as a "terrible photo" but worth its weight in gold for its rarity! Well done, Kate!

A Guillemot (probably not the same one) was also reported in Chichester Harbour today on the HOS Sightings web site by Andy Johnson and by S. Smith. They also reported Kittiwake, Slavonian Grebe and two Great Northern Divers, so the strong winds have clearly driven quite a few sea birds into the harbour.

I have only two previous recorded sightings of a Guillemot in Emsworth Harbour. The first one was seen swimming near the quay by Ros Norton on 3 Nov 2001. The second was when I saw a Guillemot sail past me drifting towards the town as I was sitting on the marina seawall at high water on 30 Sep 2004. Here is my photo of the bird, not much better than Kate's!

We only see Guillemots in the winter (or on passage) on the south coast. They nest on bare narrow ledges on steep coastal cliffs in large colonies and spend the winter months on the sea around the coasts. In Hampshire Guillemot is 'a scarce but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant' (Birds of Hampshire) and is mostly seen at the eastern and western extremities of The Solent. In our area Black Point and Hayling Bay are the most likely spots.


Emsworth Millpond
Walking round this millpond this morning I counted 36 Coot. This is the start of the winter gathering which often tops the 100 mark and usually overlaps into the harbour near the quay. One of a pair of Cormorants caught a wriggly Eel which attracted the attention of a Great Black-backed Gull that was resting nearby. I did not wait to see the results of the encounter, though the Cormorant will need to get it down fast. Excuse the photo taken on my phone.

Garden birds
Barrie Jay says, "Thank goodness for our colourful garden birds on this dismal day! We certainly have some beautiful indigenous species which brighten up these dull winter days. All shots taken this morning in the garden." I am very envious, Barrie.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this morning, once the strong winds from Storm Angus had died down (9:31am to 11:10am - low tide).
Off the Pub in the Mill Outflow: 1 juvenile Black Swan (looking very lost, feeding well, but bullied by the Mute Swans).

10 Mute Swans, 1 Greenshank (R//G + BRtag//-), 2 Little Egret. A splendid Rock Pipit flew in and foraged around the wreck.
Off Pook Lane: 1 Sandwich Tern, 20 Wigeon, 41 Red Breasted Merganser (an amazing count - feeding together), 216 Brent Geese, 25 Shelduck, 36 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Gull, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Turnstone, 42 Dunlin.
1 winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper feeding with the Dunlin. Seen in flight and occasionally walks around with wings partially drooped revealing a blotch of white on the rump (distant, so really poor photos). - The middle one?

Langstone Mill Pond: 5 Teal, 4 Grey Heron, Water Rail (heard),
Extremely Flooded Horse paddock: 99 Teal, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 1 Moorhen, 4 Wigeon, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 12 Mallard.

More about the Black Swan
The presence of four Black Swans in the Langstone area prompted Ralph Hollins to look into their present status. He found that they seem to be increasing in number and quotes the north Kent Reculver website which said - "The Black Swan population has doubled and breeding figures tripled in the last few years. In fact it has increased at such a rate the population may be considered to be self-sustaining and the species could be added to the British list in the not too distant future." That quote was accompanied by a photo of two Black Swans in flight which shows the extensive white in their wings which will surprise those who have only seen them on the water.

Ralph thinks the reason that there are a lot of recent sightings is that it is the start of their breeding season and unmated individuals are cruising widely in search of a mate. The lone bird at Langstone may be the one that was in the Lymington area on Nov 7 and the family of four that was at Langstone on Nov 13 was reported off Tipner Lake in Portsmouth Harbour on Nov 14. The species still retains its habit of breeding in the winter - this year the pair breeding in the Southampton Riverside Park hatched 6 cygnets on Mar 31 and had 5 cygnets from the previous year forming a group of 13 there. Ralph says this is the nearest regular breeding pair to us and the most likely source of the four seen recently at Langstone. Another local bird is a female that has been on the Chichester Canal since 2014 and which built a nest and laid 5 eggs in it this year without a male (black or white) being involved.
The species was first introduced to England in 1791, though the earliest record of successful breeding in the wild was not until 1902. The species, though rare, now has a wide geographical spread throughout the British Isles. Up until 2005, fewer than 20 pairs were reported to be breeding across the UK. However, new research from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has found the number of locations at which the birds are found has more than doubled in the past five years, while the number of breeding sites has more than tripled.

Eiders in Chichester Harbour
John Arnott saw these four young first winter male Eider Ducks 'heading out early for a Saturday night on the town in Chichester Harbour yesterday' during a Chichester Harbour Conservancy bird watching trip on the Solar boat. They were just south of Thorney Island. Their scientific name Somateria mollissima means 'very soft body wool' (Greek somatos = body and erion = wool, plus Latin mollis = soft) relating to the down that females produce to line their nests and which we humans have in eiderdowns.

John says a Red-throated Diver was in the same area, but too far away to photograph, as were two Harbour Seals hauled out onto the bank of Green Rithe behind the Stakes Islands. However, as a consolation, he sent a picture of quite a late Harbour Seal pup with mum on 27th September during the Conservancy's monthly count of seals. These counts coordinate with counts by the Langstone Harbour Board at the same time.

Some of the other birds seen on the Solar boat this morning included around a dozen Shelduck, a flock of around 60 to 70 Lapwing and good numbers of Dunlin, Cormorant and Grey Plover.


Hampshire Farm opening
This morning, I was pleased to attend the formal opening of Hampshire Farm, which is a new open space in the north of Emsworth, created as part of the development of the Redlands Grange housing estate. The site which is now under the ownership of Havant Borough Council was formally opened by The Mayor of Havant at a tree planting ceremony at midday.

The newly formed Friends of Hampshire Farm were present along with Greening Westbourne, Havant Borough Tree Wardens, and members of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group, ie, Jennifer Rye, Maurice Lillie, Pam Phillips and myself. It was also good to see Frances Jannaway and husband Richard there, having travelled down from their new home in Suffolk.

The official opening was organised by Michelle Good (HBC Norse) who will be writing an article for a future issue of the HBC newsletter 'Serving You' to celebrate the strength of the volunteer groups within the borough and to highlight the value that they contribute throughout the borough for the whole community. Norse (HBC) was also represented by Jayne Lake who is mainly responsible for the Havant open spaces. Michelle gave a short address to the group during the ceremony.

The new sculpture for the site, along with its creating artist (in the cap), is now on display, though still fenced off.

I think I can speak for all other conservation groups in Emsworth that we wish the new Friends of Hampshire Farm all the best for the future. Their site is a new one, large and somewhat daunting, but with good leadership, vision and a dedicated group of volunteers, one can see it becoming a fine asset for the Emsworth community. Fare forward!

Water Rail at Fishbourne
Roy Hay saw two Water Rails at Fishbourne Meadows at lunchtime today. He managed to get a shot of one of them. With the one reported yesterday on Brook Meadow by Pam Phillips they are clearly in our the area.

Tony Wootton was at Farlington Marshes yesterday and managed to get another (and better) shot of the resident Dartford Warbler. He also captured a collection of waders. Grey Plover and Dunlin?


Water Rail on Brook Meadow
On her regular early morning walk through Brook Meadow, Pam Phillips had the good fortune to see a Water Rail at 7.30am wading south of the S bend amongst the lush vegetation. At the same time, the Kingfisher flew by. What a nice bonus on a dank November morning, indeed. This was, in fact, the first Water Rail sighting on Brook Meadow this year, apart from a possible sighting by Malcolm Phillips had on Sep 7, but without a photo. On the basis of previous years this Water Rail could hang around for a few weeks at least, so please keep a look out. Here is a photo of a Water Rail taken on the river by Malcolm on Brook Meadow a couple of years ago.

Brook Meadow Polypody
Ecologist, John Norton thinks the Polypody that I photographed on the north bridge of Brook Meadow on 16th November is probably not Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare), but Intermediate Polypody (P. interjectum).

John writes, "As you know Common Polypody is mainly an acid-loving species found in woodland and on mud-capped dry stone walls in the West Country, but Intermediate Polypody is a base-demanding species, and the usual one on old brick walls and other man-made structures (and occasionally on base-rich bark). There is some growing in the drain outside my house, and a few years ago I watched someone remove a lorry load from the roof of a church just down the road from me in Gosport! What gives it away in the photo is the strongly triangular frond shape. Common Polypody is usually almost parallel sided. There are various other characters which are not consistent, but you'll find details in any good fern book. There is even a remote possibility that it could be the much rarer Western Polypody (P. cambrica), which is even more triangular in shape and likes limestone. If you want to send me a single pinnule with ripe sporangia on, I could check it microscopically for you."

Waxwings get closer
John Clarke reports 12 plus Waxwings over B3342 Botley Road Snakemoor Lane roundabout towards crematorium at 0830 this morning. So they are coming closer. Here is a shot of a small flock of Waxwings I got on a tree outside Havant College in the last local influx I can recall in December 2010. It does not do justice to the beauty of the bird's plumage.


Hampshire Farm fungus
On Nov 11 Chris Oakley discovered an unusual white fungus on Hampshire Farm which both he and Ralph Hollins thought might be the very rare Bearded Tooth or Tiered Tooth fungus (Hericium erinacium or Hericium cirratum).

Ralph suggested asking Dr. Stuart Skeates of the Hampshire fungi group to take a look. Chris has just contacted me to say that the fungus has now been identified as Tryomyses chioneus - commonly known as the white cheese ploypore. This is a more common form of fungus and is, as Chris says somewhat philosophically, "Somewhat disappointing but at least it's ended the speculation".

BTO News
The BTO reports that Waxwings have been on the move all week with new flocks noted on the east coast. Will they reach us down here in the south I wonder?
Read more migration news on the BTO Migration blog at . . .


Brook Meadow
This morning I went out for a walk through Brook Meadow where the Common Polypody on the north bridge continues to grow luxuriantly.

The large Ash tree on the railway embankment which I have been concerned about has lost all its leaves and the seeds are shrivelled up. However, there is a good crop of black buds which look heathy so maybe there is hope?

The north path is looking very picturesque with leaning willows and luxuriant bushes with the path itself carpeted with leaves.

While walking down the main river path a Hogweed caught my eye with a bright pink umbel flower head.

Other news

Continuing my walk down to Peter Pond, I found one of the breeding Mute Swans and a cygnet from last year, plus the regular collection of Mallard and Black-headed Gulls, were being fed bread by a family from the seat.

Walking back along the path behind Lillywhite's Garage I was interested to see the black berries of Garden Privet (on the left in the photos) and Japanese Honeysuckle (on the right) growing in the hedge, not all that easy to sort out at first. Our native Honeysuckle would have red berries.

I met Jennifer Rye on the Lillywhite's path who told me she had been seeing at least one Kingfisher fairly regularly while walking her dog around the town millpond. Susan Kelly has also seen these Kingfishers which occasionally perch on the walls at the south of the pond. Here is a shot of a male Kingfisher (with all black mandibles) taken a few years ago on the millpond wall by Richard Somers Cocks.

A reminder to people who have not yet renewed their subscriptions to the Brook Meadow Conservation Group. Although you are no longer getting the fortnightly newsletters, your continued support is vital to the continuing health of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group. Still only £3 a year after 16 years! Please contact Pam Phillips at . .


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this morning just as the tide was pushing in (9am to 10:37am).
The highlight was watching the delightful family group of 4 Black Swans (looking very tired after their migrational flight from Australia!). The adult (minus knob on bill) was probably a female with three fully grown cygnets. They were mesmerising to watch with their Lernaean Hydra-snake like head/neck movements as they dipped into the water for food. A slighter build than the beefy Mute Swan.

The resident Mute Swan family were chasing them all morning, especially the very aggressive cob!! The Black Swans eventually settled down on the water at the end of the Wade Lane track, giving great arty photographic opportunities.
See a short video at

Other birds seen off shore were: 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Grey Plover, 114 Teal, 49 Wigeon, 189 Brent Geese (only contained 2 juveniles), 29 Shelduck, 24 Lapwing, 3 Sandwich Tern (resting on the boat by the Pub), 4 Common Gull, 3 Greenshank (G//R + LG//-), 2 Little Egret, Pond Pintail female, 2 female Red-Breasted Merganser.
Sparrowhawk over flushing everything. Kingfisher off pond on two occasions to dash around over the salt marsh.
In the distance off Conigar Point were 29 Shelduck and 34 Canada Geese.
On the pond: 1 Little Grebe, 14 Teal, 2 Grey Heron, 3 Little Egrets. And, later a pair of Wigeon flew in to rest out the high tide - Are these the birds from last year?


Jay on Brook Meadow
Ralph Hollins saw a Jay in Brook Meadow when he was there on Nov 11. He says, "I guess it was one of the few which cross the channel from the continent at this time of year and then move about in southern England without settling down in any one site, but maybe you have one or more resident birds in the Emsworth area?"
In fact, Jays are quite uncommon birds in the Emsworth area. I have not had one recorded on Brook Meadow this year (until Ralph's, that is), but we usually get not more than one or two sightings each year. The only Jay sighting I have received this year was from Frank Naylor who had one turn up in his garden in Markway Close Emsworth on Friday 27 May.

Here is Frank's photo of his garden Jay

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby only had time for an hour's birdwatching this morning, walking along the Warblington shore from Conigar Point to Pook Lane (7:04am to 8:16am - tide slowly pushing in).
Conigar Point: 236 Brent Geese (with 52 of them flying off the field from behind the point.), 177 Wigeon - obviously no shooting this morning - my best count at this section - These large numbers are due to the inland areas not being flooded yet - just too dry.

Here is a shot of some Wigeon taken by Peter a few years ago

39 Teal, A pair of Pintail, 9 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 349 Dunlin, 1 Great Black-backed Gull,
170+ Bar-tailed Godwit flew west along the channel and landed in the Pook Lane section for 20 minutes to rest, then they all flew off towards Thorney Island to roost.
1 Buzzard, 1 Goldcrest in the Tamarisk Hedge.
Off Pook Lane: 273 Brent Geese, 57 Wigeon, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Shelduck, 25 Teal, female Pintail, 2 Sandwich Tern flying around feeding, 16 Lapwing, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, Redshank with rings (-//B + B//GG - seen once in 2014 and twice in 2015), Reed Bunting heard, 3+ Meadow Pipits over, Skylark over.
Chiffchaff with 13 Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest in the cemetery.

Southsea Snow Buntings
The long-staying pair of Snow Buntings are still in the Southsea Castle area. They were seen today by M Rolfe at 08:30 by the bandstand and also sitting on the wall by the promenade, unconcerned by the joggers and walkers passing by. K J Ilsley also saw both birds at 11:25 very close together between bandstand and seafront, west of castle.

The Southsea Snow Buntings taken by Peter Milinets-Raby on Nov 8


Sparrowhawk in garden
Rain, rain and more rain. Not a day for going out birdwatching, so I was restricted to peering at the garden through the raindrops on the window. There were plenty of birds on the feeders, as always, dominated by 10+ Goldfinches, along with 2 Greenfinch, 2 House Sparrow, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Chaffinch with the regular flock of 20 or so Collared Doves mopping up the bits from underneath the feeders. Then, to my great surprise and joy I spotted a very small raptor standing on the wall at the end of the garden.
It remained on the wall for a good 10 minutes so I was able to look at it closely and get some photos, albeit through the window.

Here are two photos of the bird in slightly differing poses.

It spent the time looking around, occasionally changing its position before it shot off to perch in my neighbour's tall Silver Birch tree. My first thought was that it might be a Kestrel, which would have been a first for the garden. But this idea was dashed when closer inspection showed brown barring on the underparts which clearly indicated a Sparrowhawk. But, I am not complaining, a truly magnificent bird to see in one's back garden. From its small size and brown plumage my guess is that it is a juvenile male.

Nore Barn photographer
John Jury wrote to say that he was the "… photographer with a long lensed camera at a sensible distance away . . " in yesterday's blog. John sent me a link to his web site showing some of the images that he captured on that day and nice ones they are too. He actually got a shot of me looking at the two Spotted Redshanks!! Thanks, John, and sorry I did not recognise you!

Pigeons shower
The Havant Wildlife Group walk at Warsash was cancelled due to rain. Tony Wootton says "What wimps we all are, fancy calling off the walk because of a drop of rain. We should have taken a leaf out of these woodpigeons' book and had a good shower. Not forgetting the armpits of course".

Ravens in Westbourne
Caroline French saw a pair of Ravens on a pylon just north of Westbourne yesterday afternoon. She sent this photo of one of them. What a magnificent beast.

Clouded Yellow
Barrie Jay took this Clouded Yellow at Lee on the Solent yesterday in that glorious sunshine. He said "I counted 3 separate Clouded Yellows along the Esplanade at Lee during a pleasant walk. It is a good spot for Clouded Yellows every year but we have never seen them so late in the year. Might they be an indigenous colony now?"

I have always thought of Clouded Yellow as a migratory butterfly that cannot survive the British winter, but, with all this climate warming, you never know.


Nore Barn
10:30 - It was a beautiful morning at Nore Barn, calm sea, sunny and quite warm. The tide was well in when I arrived, but the Spotted Redshank was already present feeding in the flooded stream.

I decided to go for a little walk while the tide fell along the south path which was particularly atmospheric with the sun shining through the trees and bushes, making dark lines across the path.

I went as far as the point from where I got excellent views west to Langstone Bridge and east to Nore Barn.

While I was there, basking in the sunshine and admiring the views, Susan Kelly came past on her way to Langstone. She told me with some excitement about her latest literary project, funded by a billionaire! Meanwhile, she is seeking a publisher for her book about the adventures of Monk Willibaum.
Coming back along the shore I spotted a late male Common Darter sunbathing on the concrete seawall, where Golden Samphire was still in flower.

When I got back to the stream, I found two Spotted Redshanks with a Common Redshank and several Black-tailed Godwits. They were being watched by a photographer with a long lensed camera. But he was at a sensible distance away, on the seat by the woods. I missed getting a photo as the Norse litter lorry drove onto the beach just as I was getting organised and put everything up. But what the hell! It was a beautiful morning and good to be alive!

Daytime Hedgehog
Caroline French was pleased to hear about the Hedgehog that Peter Milinets-Raby saw yesterday. However, she says it is her understanding that any hedgehog out in the daytime is in trouble - sick, injured or starving - and should be given special treatment from the staff at Brent Lodge. Caroline added that she still has two hedgehogs coming to the garden for food each night.

Hampshire Farm
On his regular walk around Hampshire Farm today Chris Oakley found a couple of interesting fungi. He thinks the yellow one is Sulphur Tufts, but white one is not so easy. Chris suggests Creolophus cirrhatus or Hericium cirrhatum (Tiered Tooth fungus). He says the spines are not clearly shown in the photo but they are present. This fungus is said to be a very rare sight in Britain where it is only found in Southern England from July to November (see So Chris may have hit on a good one here!

Chris also noted four Skylarks over their usual territory and a pair of Buzzards, again, over their normal area. There was a tree planting ceremony this morning, an apple in remembrance of a recently deceased gentlemen. It was well attended.


Nore Barn
The tide was already well out by the time I got to Nore Barn this morning at 10.15 and the stream was virtually empty. The conditions were good, though the bright low sun off the sea made viewing and photography difficult. I was pleased to meet up with Malcolm Greenwood whom I had first met at Nutbourne Bay on Nov 8 when we saw the Avocets. Malcolm had hoped to see the Spotted Redshank, but it was not there, but did turn up later after he had left. Here it is feeding in company with Wigeon and Teal.

I counted 28 Black-tailed Godwits including three colour-ringed birds, all recorded this winter.
ROL+RLR - Ringed in Kent in Nov 2009. A regular wintering bird since then. This was my 89th sighting.
WO+LW flag - This bird was ringed as a chick in Iceland in July 2010 and has been regular in Emsworth Harbour since then. This was my 58th sighting.
R+LG - This was my 10th sighting in Emsworth since 2013 when it was ringed.

Godwits and Avocets at Nutbourne
Today, Anne de Potier visited Nutbourne and saw some 375 Black-tailed Godwits feeding and bathing in the bay, along with 21 Avocets. Looking back over her records since 1994 the godwit flock was the largest she has ever seen at that site. Wow, I wish some would come over to Emsworth. That is also the best count of Avocets at Nutbourne this winter.

Brent breeding success
This morning in Emsworth Harbour I counted 138 Brent Geese, but found no juveniles among them. This has been the pattern of my local sightings which has led me to believe that the Brents must have had another poor breeding season. However, at Pagham Lagoon yesterday Alan Kitson saw 86 Brent Geese of which 7 were juveniles in broods of one, two and four. Even better today, when Anne de Potier was at Nutbourne Bay she saw over 1,000 Brent Geese including 86 youngsters.
Adding up these three recent counts we have 1,224 with 93 juveniles giving a breeding success of 8%. So, maybe things are not as bad as I thought! If you have done any Brent counts recently please let me know and I can add them to the list.

Here are a few Brent Geese juveniles I took a couple of years ago in Emsworth Harbour.

Hedgehog surprise
Peter Milinets-Raby had quite a surprise as came home this afternoon - a Hedgehog ran across the cul-de-sac and nipped into his neighbours front garden where he took the following photo. The creature looked small, but considering he has not seen a LIVE hedgehog this century, it might have been normal size. Peter was "Sooooooooo excited to see a live one!!!!!"

Farlington Marshes
Tony Wootton went to Farlington today and saw 3 Short-eared Owls and his first ever Dartford Warbler. He apologised about the quality of the latter.

Photographers and birds
Further to the discussion about bad behaviour of photographers (on Nov 8), Tom Bickerton refers to Jeff's Blog (The Financial Birder) who has also been complaining about photographers approaching too close to birds, and even 'chasing' them to get the so-called 'perfect picture'. Jeff gave examples from the Snow Buntings at Southsea and the Shorelark at Hayling.
Here is a link to Jeff Goodridge's interesting community blog based in Portsmouth . .

Tom added: "With modern digital cameras you don't need to get that close, as most of the images are used/viewed on the web, so they don't have to be high resolution. If they were selling or commissioned to take them then I can understand, but not excuse their actions. Plus, they should have a better professional approach if they get paid for them.
My set-up, as I explained in my last comment, is geared towards high-end reproduction, where you can wait for hours at a time and still don't take a single shot. I did that recently at Titchfield, but that how its goes. My view over the last few years is not to report the whereabouts of these iconic birds, doesn't go down well, but tough!"

At the Nore Barn stream a few days ago


Pomarine Skua at Funtington
On Sunday Nov 6, Caroline French was carrying out her Sussex Winter Bird Survey on the BBS square SU7808 at Funtington which, incidentally, I used to do before Caroline took it over a few years ago. As she was passing the MOD research establishment, Caroline spotted an unusual brown bird sitting on the ground inside the security fence. It looked like a Pomarine Skua, but what was it doing there? Caroline sought confirmation of the ID from Pete Potts before she sent me the report. I shall let Caroline take up the story in her own words.

"The bird appeared sick or injured. It was sitting with its body tilted to the left, suggesting injury or discomfort to the underside, and a Carrion Crow was tugging at its tail/wing feathers without reaction from the Skua. Photos later revealed something red around the base of the bill. However, its eyes were bright and it looked reasonably alert.

I contacted the MOD to see whether access to the site might be possible in order to rescue the bird if necessary, but when I returned about five minutes later, the bird had gone.
About an hour and a half later, what is almost certainly the same bird was seen by Pete Potts, John Arnott, Geoff Osborne and presumably others from the Chichester Harbour Conservancy solar-powered boat, on the east side of the entrance to the Bosham Channel. It was again being harassed by crows. I attach a flight shot sent to me by John Arnott and one of the bird on the water, taken by Geoff Osborne.

John and Geoff's photos show the bird looking a bit more lively than when I saw it. Let's hope the bird is sufficiently healthy to complete its migration to Africa, and recovers from whatever is ailing it. This is a scarce record for this species at this time of year, especially seen inland, so it was fortunate there were plenty of eyes and cameras around on the day to record it."

Brian's note: Wow! This was some sighting from Caroline. I have just taken the 'Birds of Sussex' off my shelf to check it out. (I shall soon be needing a crane to get this massive tome down!) The book says that the Pomarine Skua, which breeds in the Arctic tundra and winters in the southern oceans, is usually seen on spring passage in our area; it is very scarce in autumn and rare in winter. It is usually seen over the sea, but is very rare inland. In fact, Birds of Sussex has only two inland records, one in 1865 and one in 1991. Well, now there are three! Well done Caroline.


Parking at the end of Farm Lane, I was interested to read a notice on the gate to the meadow to the effect that the Chichester Harbour Conservancy has taken on a 10 year lease of the land (called Nutbourne Farm) which is part of the Chichester Harbour SSSI. They will be managing it for wildlife, particularly wading birds and wildfowl. This is very good news as the meadow has been badly neglected for many years. It always used to be particularly good for Snipe and I hope they return. Today, the meadow was being grazed by four Belted Galloway cattle.

11:30 - I walked along the footpath to the shore. The tide was low, but being a neap there was still plenty of water around. There were plenty of Wigeon and Teal with a few Pintail. I counted a dozen Black-tailed Godwits (no rings) and several Common Redshank. A Greenshank was feeding in the stream, but not ringed.

Greenshank in the stream at Nutbourne Bay today

Of course, this is where we always used to see the famous Nutbourne Greenshank ringed GY+GY. It was a real regular just like the Emsworth Spotted Redshank. Greenshank GY+GY was ringed way back in 2002, but has not been seen in the past couple of years, so I think we can assume that it has died.

I met Malcolm Greenwood who, like me, was on the seawall with his scope. He was on the look out for Avocets which had been reported here yesterday. He finally located 15 of them on a mudflat in the far distance, too far for a photo, but clearly identifiable. They are regular birds at Nutbourne and the first of the year.

Avocets feeding on the Nutbourne shore a few years ago.

Emsworth Harbour
12:30 - Back to Emsworth where I parked at the corner of Thorney Road and Thornham Lane and walked along the track to the seawall. On the way I spotted a Buzzard perched some distance away on one of the overhead cables. I counted 108 Brent Geese in the main harbour, but no juveniles. Many of the Brents were in the channel near the town which is where I expect to see juveniles, but there were none today. Of the waders, I counted 70 Common Redshank and 6 Black-tailed Godwits (no rings).

Brent Geese digiscoped today

Nore Barn
13:30 - I went on to Nore Barn where the tide was still well out. The usual gathering of Wigeon were in the main channel along with 7 Pintail, two males and 5 females which is the same number that Peter Milinets-Raby found here on last Sunday. I expect Pintail numbers to build up as winter progresses to 30 or so.

Here is one pair of Pintail digiscoped today at NoreBarn.

I counted 41 Brent Geese, but no juveniles. This count confirms my impression that this has been another poor year for Brent breeding success following last year's almost wash out.

Photographers and birds
Tom Bickerton commented on my criticism of photographers getting too close to birds feeding at Nore Barn. Here is a photo I took yesterday.

Tom says, "On the photographers I'm not going to defend some of their actions, but try to balance up the situation for the readers. The image shown shows a medium sized set-up, I've got the real super-telephoto rig. It's very heavy so mobility is limited unless you are Hercules. So most of the time you are stationary, it's a waiting game, sometimes, not that often, you get lucky and the birds feel at ease to come close. It does look ridiculous with a thumping huge lens and a bird 15ft away, but you may have waited several hours for this opportunity. As long as the birds feel you are not a threat then I'm OK with this type of photographers conduct.
What I disagree with is them harassing and chasing the birds, this was evident a couple of years ago with the Long-Eared Owl at Farlington, where this bird was not left alone by bird watchers and photographers. Worse still was last year's harassment of the Short-Eared Owls at Farlington, where they trespassed into the Hay Field to get even closer to these birds. They didn't need to do this, as the birds hunted the field margins, so all their images could have been taken from the paths, its just they couldn't be bothered to wait."
What do others think about this?

Hampshire Farm
On his morning walk around Hampshire Farm Chris Oakley found the pond was partly frozen but several Mallard and a Heron were present along with two young Moorhens.

Chris says last night's frost put paid to the remaining Ox-eye daisies but he was pleased to find a few Grass Vetchling hidden in the undergrowth. He says the new sculpture is growing on him. At the moment it is missing the weather vane which he understands has gone away to be gilded, but thinks it should look quite splendid when it's all complete.

Langstone Mill Pond
This morning Peter Milinets-Raby visited briefly Langstone Mill Pond (-2.6C and a little covering of frost/ice on the pond in the northern section - tide out 9:05am to 10:12am). But what a lot he packed into that hour!
Off shore - Plenty of stuff, now that the weather has turned colder. 290 Brent Geese, 2 Sandwich Tern resting on the mud, 36 Teal, 62 Wigeon, 1 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 7 Grey Plover, 128 Bar-tailed Godwit - lovely sight, 45 Knot - great watching them march across the mud flats in a tight group. 17 Dunlin, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 12 Shelduck, 1 Lapwing, 2 adult and 8 juvenile Mute Swans.
The surprise bird of the morning was disturbing a single Fieldfare drinking from the outflow stream. It landed on the wreck by the mill for a minute, then headed off north.
On the pond: 82 Teal, Water Rail heard.
Horse Paddock: 1 male & 2 female Pheasant, 13 Moorhen, 23 Collared Doves, 1 Stock Dove, 2 Pied Wagtails.

Southsea Castle
At lunchtime, Peter had 30 minutes to spare and coincidentally found himself in the Southsea area, so could not resist a quick look at the 2 Snow Buntings. Very close for 4 minutes before a dog scared them off .

On the rocks of the castle were 3 Rock Pipits and 6 Purple Sandpipers.


Nore Barn
14:00-15:00 - High water at 16:00 at 4.0 The weather was fine, though there was a very cold north wind. Fortunately, one can always shelter from a north wind at Nore Barn. It was close to high water while I was there, but the neap tide meant the water did not come right in, so the birds remained in the stream area all the time.
Two Spotted Redshanks and the colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) were feeding together in the stream. This is the third time this year I have seen two Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn. Towards the end, all three came up the stream near the small bridge, so close, one felt one could almost touch them. A few people passing by stopped to ask about the birds and I told them all about our famous Spotted Redshanks and said they would never get a better view of them anywhere in Britain!

Full history of the Emsworth Stotted Redshanks and lots of photos are on the special web page at . . . Spotted Redshanks

I was a bit annoyed with a photographer sitting on a stool on the edge of the stream with a long lensed camera. The fact that he did not move much meant he did not disturb the birds, until he got up to leave that is. He came over to introduce himself and apologise for putting the birds up. He also realised he did not need to be so close. In fact, the birds were too close for his camera at times. I told him not to worry as the birds were used to much worse disturbance. I hope he enjoys his pictures.

I counted just 22 Brent Geese in the Nore Barn channel, but not juveniles among them. This looks like another bad breeding season for the Brents.


Brook Meadow
Due to grandparental duties, I was an hour late in getting over to Brook Meadow for the regular first Sunday in the month work session. It was a chilly morning, but sunny and I found a good group of volunteers hard at work finishing off clearing the Lumley area when I arrived. The Lumley area is the most important area on the meadow from a botanical view with a good variety of sedges and rushes as well as an annual flowering of Ragged Robin and Pepper-saxifrage, so it is important that it is cut each year and cleared of arisings. The group did an excellent job this morning, though they gave the Pepper-saxifrage a miss as it was still in flower.

The workers were overlooked by one of the magnificent Black Poplar trees that were planted in November 2004. Only two of these trees now remain, the third, being planted too close to the Lumley Stream, died. They have grown to an astonishing height in just 12 years. The top of the second Black Poplar can just be seen on the left of the photo.

I also noted the poppies which at this time every year are attached to the north bridge by the plaque commemorating two airmen who died in an accident when two planes collided over Brook Meadow in February 1944.

For a full report of the work session and more photos go to . . .

Emsworth to Langstone
Peter Milinets-Raby was out before dawn this morning from 6:54am to cover the shore from Emsworth Harbour to Langstone Mill Pond - the tide was out throughout and he finished at 10:04am. Bright sunshine, keen wind and -0.2C to start.
Emsworth Harbour from 6:54am: 1 Greenshank (RG//- + BY//-), 8 Grey Plover, 3 Lapwing, 2 Little Egret, 192 Brent Geese, 33 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Teal, 4 Shelduck, 9 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstone, 1 Wigeon.
Emsworth Mill Pond: 1 Grey Wagtail with 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 Kingfisher sitting on the edge of the pond wall, 3 fishing Cormorants, 20 Coot.
Beacon Square from 7:35am: 94 Brent Geese - contained just 3 juveniles (3.2%), 89 Teal, 4 Grey Plover, 1 Wigeon, 1 Greenshank.
Nore Barn from 7:51am: 47 Wigeon, 7 Pintail - 2 males and 5 females, 135 Teal, 25 Black-tailed Godwits, 11 Brent Geese, 1 Greenshank in one of the gullies.
Warblington cemetery from 8:11am: Green Woodpecker.
Ibis Field: 3 Moorhen, 4 Skylark over, Water Rail squealing from stream vegetation, 1 Grey Wagtail heard, 1 Chiffchaff in hedge.
Conigar Point from 8:29am: 3 Greenshank in the outlet stream (G//R + GL//-) - Nore Barn bird I assume! 1 Lapwing, 70 Wigeon, 21 Teal, 78 Brent Geese, 1 Shelduck, 9 Grey Plover, 1 Grey Wagtail on outflow stream.
Off Pook Lane from 8:46am: 256 Brent Geese (A small flock of 65 close to shore held 3 juveniles (4.6%), 23 Shelduck, 49 Wigeon, 106 Teal, 5 Pintail - 4 females together and the female "pond" bird feeding on the mud adjacent to the pub - Not looking like the female Pintail at all, darker plumage, so I wonder if this is a runt female. 11 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, 10 Dunlin, 48 Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 6 Sandwich Tern resting, 3 Little Egrets.
Horse Paddock from 9:16am: 5 Moorhen, 1 Grey Wagtail.
Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Little Grebe, 7 Teal, 1 Grey Heron.
Castle Farm field: 26 Lapwing, 13 Stock Doves.

Chris's news
Chris Oakley had a walk around the millpond on a beautiful winter morning in a cold north wind. He says, "The harbour had that wonderful clarity that you only see at this time of the year" He noted that the new raft on the mill pond is attracting a lot of cormorants and that there was also two Canada geese cruising up and down on the Bath Road side for a short while, then they flew off north. They rarely stay for long on the millpond.

Finally, Chris noted the Honey Fungus growing on the old tree stumps along Warblington Road. I have seen this fungus in previous years on the stump of a tree along this road which I think it must have destroyed.


Hampshire Farm opening
This new open space in the north of Emsworth is to be formally opened by The Mayor of Havant at a tree planting ceremony at midday on Saturday 19th November 2016. The newly formed Friends of Hampshire Farm as well as, Greening Westbourne and Havant Borough Tree Wardens will be represented. Michelle Good of Norse hopes for a good turn out of volunteers from other Emsworth conservation groups to support this new venture. Michelle hopes to produce an article for a future issue of the HBC newsletter 'Serving You' to celebrate the strength of the volunteer groups within the borough and to highlight the value that they contribute throughout the borough for the whole community.
Although the opening ceremony will happen at midday, there will be some tree planting preparation work from 10.30am - anyone prepared to lend a hand will be very, very welcome!

Foreign Blackbirds
Ralph Hollins points out in his daily blog (Nov 3) that some of the Blackbirds we see in our gardens and elsewhere at the moment are likely to be winter visitors. The British Trust for Ornithology estimates that at least 12% of Blackbirds present in Britain & Ireland in winter are from continental Europe. The arrival of many thousands of Blackbirds during the autumn months from the continent goes largely unnoticed, primarily because they look the same as those birds that are here all year round. The winter visitors are on average slightly larger than home-grown Blackbirds, though they can't be reliably told apart.
Information from ringed birds has revealed that our winter immigrants originate in Finland, Sweden and Denmark, with others arriving from the Netherlands and Germany. Some of these birds are only passing through, and will continue south to winter in Spain, France and Portugal. See . . .

Cuckoo migration
The British Trust for Ornithology reports that after a journey of 5,000 miles, three of the nine tagged Cuckoos are now within 50 miles of each other in Angola. You can read the latest news and follow the progress of the satellite-tagged birds on the Cuckoo tracking pages at . . .

Interestingly, this year, for the first time, Cuckoos have also been satellite-tagged in China, and one bird has just crossed the Indian Ocean! Read more about the Beijing Cuckoo Project here . . .


Nore Barn
10:15 - 11:00 - Tide rising to high water in about 3 hours. Another beautiful autumn morning, sunny though with a chill in the air. Cold enough this morning for our first frost of the year on the roof.
Going through the crowd of Wigeon at the end of Warblington Road, I came across my first Pintail of the winter season, one male and two females. They are a bit earlier than usual. I tend to see the first ones in Dec-Jan. Numbers may build up over the winter to 30-40. Here is the best digiscoped photo I could get of them with a Wigeon to the right.

Altogether I counted 220 Wigeon in the Nore Barn area, though there must have been some I missed. There were also 24 Teal which is the best count this winter.
A small flock of 33 Brent Geese were present, but with no juveniles among them. Although this is early days, my gut feeling is that this could be another poor breeding year for the Brent Geese. Last year there were hardly any Brent juveniles anywhere.
I counted 48 Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the shallow water including one very familiar colour-ringed bird: ROL+RLR.

This bird has been a regular winter visitor to Emsworth Harbour ever since it was ringed on 27-Oct-08 at Kingsnorth Power Station, Medway Est. Kent as an adult male. This was my 88th sighting in Emsworth. I am thinking that the bird I saw here on Oct 11 which I read as OYL+RLR was most likely ROL+RLR.
I noted one lame Black-tailed Godwit with a missing left foot; it was hobbling, but feeding well with the others.

The regular Spotted Redshank was feeding in the stream as usual, but today was alone, but for a single Black-tailed Godwit. There was no sign of a second Spotted Redshank or Greenshank which have been with it recently. The famous Spotted Redshank continues to attract wildlife photographers with their massive long-lensed cameras at the ready. Today, they were a bit close but not too close to disturb the bird. But with cameras like that, why approach so close as to risk disturbance?


I took some photos of the Spotted Redshank with my trusty point-and-shoot Lumix FZ18 much further away which were not bad!


Westbrook clearance
When I got back home I found two workers from the Environment Agency clearing the vegetation from the Westbrook Stream in Bridge Road car park and in the channel behind my house right up to the Victoria Road culvert.

When they finished I congratulated them on a job well done. I asked them about clearing the River Ems through Brook Meadow which, I said, was very overgrown and the worst I have seen it in 20 years. They told me they had not been asked to clear that stream, but promised to have a word with their superiors about getting it done. I emphasised to them the importance of keeping the River Ems and its banks in good order for the possible return of Water Voles which had been lost over the past couple of years.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond late morning (10:50am to 12:22pm) just as the tide was finally pushing in. Birds of note were as follows:
11 resting Sandwich Tern - still hanging on and likely now to stay the winter - best count in Hampshire at the moment. 205 Brent Geese - I did not look thoroughly, but there were no obvious juveniles. I have only seen a handful so far, though Southsea had three family groups the other day. 94 Teal, 33 Wigeon, 72 Black-tailed Godwit (G//R + GG///-), 4 Grey Plover, 1 Lapwing, 8 Shelduck, 7 Greenshank, 50+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 30+ Dunlin, 2 adult Mute Swan with 4 juveniles. The water was as flat as a pancake, making the Seal head easy to see on each occasion it popped to the surface to look around!
Skylark over. Kingfisher dashed off pond and flew around over salt marsh, occasionally hovering.
Langstone Mill Pond: 3 Little Egrets, 2 Grey Heron, Water Rail heard several times - maybe three birds on site, 4 Teal, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Grey Wagtail,
Paddock: 10 Moorhen, 2 Stock Dove.
Way in the distance off Conigar Point 200 Brent Geese and 95 Wigeon

Tony Wootton had his first Fieldfare of the winter up at Inkpen Beacon today. He counted about 40 of them. Winter's coming.

Little Auk
Christopher Evans went with the Havant U3A Birdwatching Group to Blashford Lakes and spotted the Little Auk that had been previously reported in Ibsley Water. They had some quite close sightings initially but it then went to the far side, where the views weren't so good. Christopher did not get a photo, but attached a Little Auk from the internet.

Sadly, their visit ended on a rather sour note. Christopher says, "On leaving, we were enthusiastically telling a newly arrived couple about the Little Auk and got the response - 'They're not rare, we see thousands of them at Flamborough Head'".
Chris, that ireally was a pathetic example of a birder's ignorant boasting. They should be firmly told that Little Auk is a rare bird in Hampshire, seen usually only after strong northerly gales. In fact, they are also rare on the NE coast in the numbers claimed. Although there are occasional large influxes on the NE coast, such as in 2006 when 18,000 were recorded, usually numbers are much smaller. I checked the Flamborough Bird Observatory web site which recorded just 14 Little Auks on the sea today.

Stansted fungi
Chris Oakley spotted these fungi growing in the flower beds at the entrance to the Stansted Garden Centre. He said they are a soft grey fading to white around the outer edge. Some of the older ones have a shaIIow umbra depression. Maybe introduced with the wood chippings? There are hundreds of them scattered among the beds. Chris thinks they are Clouded FunneI (Clitocybe nebuIaris).


Nore Barn
I got to Nore Barn at 10am in time to catch the rising tide. What a beautiful morning! The sun was shining and the water calm and a good number of birds were gathering in the stream. We had two Spotted Redshanks, as yesterday, plus the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) that was not here yesterday, one Common Redshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Mute Swans and a collection of whistling Wigeon, but no Teal. There were more Wigeon further out in amongst which I found a small family of Brent Geese comprising two adults and two juveniles. I have yet to see any large Brent flocks at Nore Barn.

Left: Greenshank and Spotted Redshank. Right: Common Redshank

Spotted Redshank with Black-tailed Godwit

At about 10:30, as I was chatting to Chris Knight, all the birds suddenly took off with a whirring of wings, geese, ducks and waders; all flew towards the saltmarsh islands in the harbour, leaving just the swans in the stream. Wow! The show was over and all was peaceful.

Other news
Tony Wootton and friend Peter went to Hayling Oysterbeds today and saw the Long-tailed Duck and almost certainly 3 Black-necked Grebes. No photos of them, but Tony did get a flock of Dunlin in flight.

Colin Vanner sent me a few more photos from his visits to Farlington Marshes. A Short-eared Owl in flight.

A fine action shot of two Kestrels fighting that I have never seen before.

Both Tony and Colin looked for the Shore Lark but there has been no sightings since Sunday, so it has probably moved on.

For earlier observations go to . . . October 2016