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for December 2016
(in reverse chronological order)

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Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Spotted Redshank
I paid a quick visit to Nore Barn this afternoon to catch the falling tide. The weather was dull and overcast. The place was over run with people and dogs, but my day was brightened by the presence of our ever faithful Spotted Redshank in the stream.

The full history of this remarkable bird and lots of photos can be found on the special web page at . . .

Warblington shore
This morning Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington shore from 8:05am to 10:33am.
It was a foggy start with the tide pushing in, eventually. Halfway round he bumped into the local Havant Wildlife Group on their regular Saturday morning walk and pointed out a few birds to them. For their own report go to . . .

Peter also bumped into the Warblington Farm farmer who told him that the farm had had over 25 newly born calves in the last two weeks and the herd were in the fields northeast of the Farm and cress beds out of harms way and to reduce disturbance. Many more calves on the way! As a result, the Egrets were hard to find. Peter saw 5 Little Egrets and 1 Cattle Egret, but these soon flew off and hopped over a hedge into one of the fields not viewable. He thinks these birds will hang around for the next couple of months and thus could potentially breed with the Little Egrets. Little Egret numbers in the area will increase come early February and if the five Cattle Egrets are still around, you never know! Peter added that up to 65% of breeding colonies are mixed with only 10% of Cattle Egrets breeding in their own colonies. So, there is a good chance, especially with 40 other birds in the UK at the moment. Warblington currently holds 11.1% of the UK population - what an amazing claim to fame!

The highlights of Peter's visit were as follows:
Ibis Field: 7 Moorhen, Male Pheasant, Singing Song Thrush, 1 Lonely Brent Goose.
Conigar Point: 33 Wigeon, 41 Teal, 1 Greenshank, 9 Shelduck, 126 Brent Geese, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 94 Dunlin, 1 Male Pintail, 2 Red Breasted Merganser.
Off Pook Lane: 212 Dunlin, 1 winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper, 47 Wigeon, 152 Teal, 10 Grey Plover, 251 Brent Geese, 27 Shelduck, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 51 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank, 8 Red Breasted Merganser, 10 Mute Swan.
Horse Paddock: Male Kestrel, Jay Heard.
Langstone Mill Pond: 4 Grey Heron - two on nest after flying around chasing each other like two young lovers. This is the first sign of any interest in breeding from the herons. They were on Nest 3: South of the Holm Oak, obscured and to the rear, in the lower branches of tall tree: Female Tufted Duck

Langstone - Warblington
Heather Mills reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. Her full report and photos are on the regular Havant Wildlife Group web page at . . . Here are the group assembled on the Langstone shore outside The Ship Inn.

Colin's gallery
Colin Vanner send me a few of his latest beautiful shots Kingfisher from Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust plus female Stonechat and Short-eared Owls from Farlington Marshes. Stunning images, I think you will agree.


Garden Song Thrush
I was delighted to catch a brief glimpse of a Song Thrush in the garden this afternoon. It was only there for about 30 seconds before being driven off by one of the local Blackbirds. In fact, this was my first sighting of a Song Thrush in the garden for two years, the last being in December 2014. The one today was too quick for a photo, so I here is the one I took in Dec 2014 in which the thrush perched nicely on the garden wall.

Song Thrush in my garden Dec 2014

Robin pairing
We had a pair of Robins in the garden this afternoon for the first time this winter. Although this is not particularly early, as pairing can take place by the middle of December, it is about 3 months before the birds actually nest. (Ref: David Lack. The Life of the Robin).

Photo of a pair of Robins from the internet.

Water Rail
Pam Phillips saw the Water Rail swimming down the river at the back of the old gas holder at 9.30 am this morning. I have yet to get a sighting of this bird which Pam has seen several times this winter in this area of the river.

Photo taken on Brook Meadow by Malcolm Phillips in October 2014.

Spotted Redshank
This afternoon Anne de Potier saw a Spotted Redshank feeding in the western end of the channel south of Nore Barn Woods, not far from the tide flap. It was enjoying the fresh water and totally ignoring a Labrador trying to pick up a rock the size of a loaf of bread! That sounds just like our regular Spotted Redshank that usually feeds in the stream at the end of Warblington Road, quite unfazed by big dogs.

Photo taken in early December this year

Cattle Egrets
Anne said the fog was too thick to see if there were any Cattle Egrets on Warblington Farm when she was there this afternoon. However, there was an astonishing report on the HOS Going Birding web site from A D Tindale of five Cattle Egrets at 10.30, four in field opposite church and a fifth in field opposite Pook Lane junction. Only three had been previously seen! Anne says it's a season of Cattle Egrets, with some sort of influx going on.

Three Cattle Egrets on Warblington Farm by Michael Duffy - Dec 20.


Fox catch - one or two?
While he was at Titchfield Haven, Tony Wootton got an excellent photo of a Fox running off with what looked like a Wigeon or a Lapwing in its mouth (see the blog for Dec 22). Tony had watched the Fox steal the prey from a Buzzard that was feeding on the ground.

It seemed there was only one animal in the Fox's mouth, but Peter Milinets-Raby thought he could see two animals, a Lapwing and a Wigeon. From Tony's photo one can clearly understand Peter's point of view. The Lapwing is on the left side of mouth (on the right in the photo) with its crest visible plus purple/green gloss to plumage and the duck is on the right side of the Fox's mouth (left on the photo) showing a webbed foot (a Lapwing's feet are not webbed).
However, today Tony sent me some more photos that he recovered from recycle which show the fox from different angles which clearly indicate that the Fox has a single male Wigeon in its mouth and no Lapwing. As Peter admits, this just goes to show that it is very difficult to ID anything from photos, especially from just one.

Warblington Cattle Egrets
Mike Wells found two Cattle Egrets in the field north of Warblington farm/church plus a Little Egret. Mike added that there were no cattle in the field with the Egrets - "just in case people think that they're always with cattle, as a passer-by thought".

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had a spare hour this morning from 9:06am, so visited Langstone Mill Pond as the tide was pushing in. The highlights were as follows:
68 Dunlin, 13 Shelduck, 5 Grey Plover, 28 Lapwing, 163 Teal - good numbers this winter. 28 Wigeon, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Red Breasted Merganser, Male and 3 female Goldeneye, 209 Brent Geese, Grey Wagtail.
On the pond: Female Tufted Duck - still lingering, Female Wigeon - no sign of the male today, 1 Teal. 3 Grey Heron roosting. They were breeding this time last year. No sign yet!?
Horse paddock: 6 Moorhen, Fox.

One of the three Cattle Egret was seen mid morning. The cattle have been moved to fields to the north of the farm cress beds out of sight, so the birds are a little harder to find.


Sparrowhawk attack
There was a pile of feathers on the grass in the garden this morning indicating yet another Sparrowhawk attack. This is the 4th indication of a Sparrowhawk attack we have had in the past month, all I think Collared Doves of which there are some dozy young ones about at the moment. Again, I failed to see the acxtion.

Morning walk
I had a stroll through Brook Meadow and down to Slipper Millpond where I found a new north raft had been installed. It is just a flat platform with no nesting box like the old one, so the resident Coots will have to take their chances nesting in the open where they will be particularly vulnerable to attacks from the nesting Great Black-backed Gulls.

The centre raft where the gulls have nested for the past 4 years has been moved back to its original position in the centre of the pond, so they should have no problem finding it for another nesting season.

Walking through Brook Meadow I was pleased to see a Song Thrush, which I have not seen for months in my garden, and a Little Egret in the river.

On the way home I noticed a Grey Wagtail in the Westbrook Stream in Bridge Road car park. It would not turn around.

Wild flowers included Winter Heliotrope in several places, including Brook Meadow. Sweet Violets are out on the Lillywhite's path. A couple of days ago, I also noticed some on the usual grass verge on the north side of Warblington Road near the junction with Valetta Park.

Kestrel dive
Joyce Sawyer got this excellent photo of a Kestrel diving to take prey in Havant Thicket.

Other news
The three Cattle Egrets were still on Warblington Farm at 11.15 this morning in the field east of Church Lane (just south of Pook Lane junction) as reported by M.Rolfe on GoingBirding.

Mr Rolfe also reported 42 Great Crested Grebe, 48 Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Long-tailed Ducks on Hayling Oysterbeds.


Mink on the River Ems?
Apparently, the South Downs National Park (SDNP) have reported concerns from local landowners about the possible presence of American Mink on the upstream reaches of the River Ems at Westbourne.

Christopher Mills, Shutterstock

If true, this could explain the observed loss of Water Voles along the upper flowing reaches of the Ems near Watersmeet since they were positively surveyed for the river restoration works in 2014/15. It might also help to explain the loss of Water Voles along other parts of the Ems, including here on Brook Meadow. Mink are serious predators of Water Voles and have been a major factor in their decline over the past 30 years. However, Mink have never actually been sighted on Brook Meadow throughout the 16 years of management by the conservation group. In the New Year, the SDNP plan to put out Mink rafts to help determine if Mink are present, so watch this space!

Three Cattle Egrets at Warblington
December 20 - Ralph Hollins reported there were 3 Cattle Egrets on Warblington Farm at the north end of the field immediately west of the cemetery. Previously only two had been seen. Here is a nice photo of the three Cattle Egrets taken by Michael Duffy.

Ralph also noted that the Cornwall Birding website reported 13 Cattle Egrets at Newquay on Dec 19 - which is the biggest count he has seen for one area.

Fox with prey
December 22 - Tony Wootton was at Titchfield Haven watching a Buzzard having a good feed on some prey on the ground, whilst being harassed by 2 crows. Tony didn't know whether it had killed it or just found it. Then a Fox appeared and made off with the prey in its jaws, but not before Tony got this dramatic photo. Tony thought the prey was a Lapwing, but wondered if the Buzzard could have killed a Lapwing. Tony later got a photo of what was probably the same fox licking its mouth having enjoyed its meal.

I agree with Tony that the prey looks like a Lapwing; one can just make out the crest and partially webbed feet. I also agree that it is unlikely that a Buzzard would be able to catch a healthy and alert Lapwing, so the poor Lapwing was most likely unhealthy or injured.

Tony also got a female Snow Bunting at Titchfield Haven

Fewer garden Blue Tits
British Trust for Ornithology Garden BirdWatch results show the lowest number of Blue Tits using gardens during November since 2003. See . . .
They think this is mainly due to a poor breeding season and the absence of young birds. Blue Tits have had their worst breeding season on record leading to fewer fledged young than normal. It is likely that this was caused by the wet weather across the south of the UK, hampering the birds' ability to feed their chicks. See . . .

Brimstones in winter
For the first time, BTO Garden Bird Watchers have recorded Brimstone butterflies on the wing in December. They overwinter as adults but are usually dormant at this time of year, hiding in evergreen vegetation. See . . .


Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby walked from Emsworth Harbour to Nore Barn starting at 7:51am on a very grey, dull day with low cloud and the tide miles out!
Emsworth Harbour: 2 Greenshank, 5 Teal, 15 Black-tailed Godwits, 402 Brent Geese, 131 Canada Geese (again left for Thorney Island after 20 minutes in one big noisy exodus!), 12 Turnstone, 11 Grey Plover, 3 Little Egret, 7 Lapwing, 24 Shelduck, 45 Dunlin, 178 Knot (It is so amusing to watch them march across the mud at speed all in one direction). 1 Wigeon, 1 Great Black-backed Gull.
Emsworth Mill Pond: 28 Coot.
Beacon Square from 8:41am: 168 Brent Geese, 13 Wigeon, 17 Teal, 19 Pintail (ten males, 9 females), 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Shelduck.
Nore Barn from 9:01am: 172 Brent Geese, 51 Teal, 186 Wigeon, 74 Black-tailed Godwit (ringed WO+LW flag & ROL+RLR - both regulars at Nore Barn), 1 lonesome Knot (canutus lonesomeus!), 4 Shelduck, 1 Little Egret, 11 Pintail, 4 males, 7 females - the Beacon Square flock were flushed by dogs at 9:15am and flew in to join the Nore Barn flock. A very impressive sight!
Apart from 3 Redshank and about 20 Oystercatchers, there were no other waders present at Nore Barn. Most of the Curlew I observed today were passing overhead going inland!
Finished at 9:37am. Peter will do the Warblington shore tomorrow.

Cattle Egrets at Warblington
While doing the Emsworth to Langstone WeBS count by bicycle this lunchtime Anne de Potier found the two Cattle Egrets with Little Egrets and cattle in the field on the corner of the A259 and Church Lane at Warblington. Not the best view, peering through the hedge, but good to see.


Nore Barn
10:00-11:00 The tide was rising to high water at about 12:30 - just right to visit Nore Barn. It was a misty morning and one could not see the Hayling Bridge or the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth which are usually visible from here.

Hundreds of Brent Geese and Wigeon were milling around in the gradually filling channels. I was pleased to see a small group of 8 Pintail, 3 males and 5 females. There were also lots of Black-tailed Godwits though I did not get time to check them for rings before the incoming tide covered their legs.

My best sighting of the morning was two Spotted Redshanks feeding close together for much of the time in the stream. Maggie Gebbett arrived as I was watching them and we both reflected on how lucky we were to get such good views of these delightful, but scarce, winter birds.

Although we regularly get one Spotted Redshank in the stream, having two is not all that unusual. This was the 5th time I have seen two here this winter, which is about the same as in previous years.
I managed to get a short video clip of the two birds using my Lumix FZ18 on full zoom which can be seen on YouTube at

For more details on the history of the Spotted Redshanks in Emsworth go to . . . Spotted Redshanks

Yesterday's news - Brook Meadow workday
There was an excellent turn out of 20 volunteers for the last workday of 2016. The main task was to clear the hedge cuttings left from the hedge laying on the Seagull Lane patch.

Some of these were used to build up the hibernacula on the main meadow and the rest went onto a bonfire. It was lovely to see a real bonfire and to feel its warmth.

Here is a short video clip of the fire on YouTube . . .

Debi cleared rubbish from the river and others picked litter and cleaned the signcases. Phil and his team finished laying the new steps down onto the meadow.

We finished up with mulled wine, stollen and mince pies provided by Maurice. An excellent morning's work. Happy Christmas to everyone.

Jennifer Rye's detailed report of yesterday's work session plus lots more photos can be seen on the Brook Meadow web site at . . . . . .


Winter Heliotrope
Yesterday, Ralph Hollins found 25 flower heads of Winter Heliotrope at the southern end of Wade Lane in Havant. Ralph says some were in full flower but not yet giving off the strong vanilla scent which earns this plant the name Petasites fragrans. Winter Heliotrope flowers will soon be out generally. There is a particularly good patch on the roadside embankment near the doctors' surgery in Emsworth. Here is a photo of some in full flower I took a few years ago.

Winter Heliotrope was introduced to Europe from North Africa and is now common in southern England where it has managed to spread despite the total absence of female plants. Its leaves prevent sunlight from reaching the ground and this has caused it to be named as an undesirable invasive species. However, it is virtually impossible to get rid of as its long rhizomes reach very deep into the soil and small pieces readily regenerate. So let's just relax and enjoy the flowers and the aroma.

Caroline's extras
While she was at Warblington yesterday Caroline French came across a young couple flying a drone with a camera on it along the shore. She spoke to them to ask them to be careful about bird disturbance. Maybe they will, likely they won't. Caroline also got a photo of a first winter Pied Wagtail. Such dainty little birds!

Winter fungi
Ralph Hollins queried Chris Oakley's identification of the white finger-like fungi in Tuesday's blog as Clavicorona taxophila. One reference quoted by Ralph says "Habitat on damp rooting twigs, leaves and other debris of coniferous and deciduous trees. Season autumn. Rare. Not edible. Found In Europe." Chris's fungi are clearly on wood, not on a damp woodland floor and look rather like Candle Snuff (or Stagshorn) fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) which is a common wood-rotting fungus.

Warblington Cattle Egret
Two Cattle Egrets are still on Warblington Farm where they were seen today at 14:15 by Andy Johnson who said they were with Little Egrets and cows in the field at the junction of Church Lane and Pook Lane "before being (deliberately) flushed by the farmer". Reported on
In a previous blog I said the last Cattle Egret at Warblington in my records was in Dec 2010. However, after looking through the Hampshire Bird Reports, Ralph Hollins found that a Cattle Egret was also seen at Warblington the following year on Dec 18 2011 and stayed there until Feb 11 2012.


Warblington Cattle Egrets
Peter Milinets-Raby was at Warblington Farm this afternoon - 2-3pm. Apparently, the Cattle Egrets hit the Rare Bird news today! Peter saw the two Cattle Egrets very briefly (very wary as usual) before they flew into the field beside the cress beds (private land and out of view). This is where the majority of the herd of cattle is being grazed at the moment. He also had a pleasant chat with a local lady who came in search of the egrets via your website. That lady was Caroline French. She had a brief view of one before it flew over the hedge and into the next field.
Caroline walked to Nore Barn where she saw the regular Spotted Redshank with the regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL.

Returning to the car at Warblington she caught sight of an egret in a tree - it turned out to be one of the Cattle Egrets!

Mike Wells also went over to Warblington Farm this morning to look for Cattle Egrets but did not find them. However, he came close to witnessing a new arrival in one of the fields. The mother was licking and nudging until the calf raised its head, all very touching.

Warblington shore
Peter walked to Conigar Point and counted the shore as the tide dropped - very impressive! 181 Wigeon (amazing sight, his best count since he started checking this area since 2013!). It is a shame they might get shot at this weekend for someone's Christmas Dinner. See the following website, for what looks like an excellent Christmas choice:
300+ Brent Geese (they soon moved off to the fields behind the point, so difficult to count accurately). 23 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover, 7 Shelduck, 5 Red Breasted Merganser,
In the Ibis Field on the walk back were: 13 Moorhen, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Goldcrest, 1 male Pheasant.

Other news
Pam Phillips saw the Water Rail again on the River Ems on Brook Meadow this morning at 7.30am. It was just north of the gas holder site and Pam said she was only able to see it with the help of the full moon and red sky.

Chris Berners-Price saw a Black Swan on Thorney Little Deeps today.

Eric Eddles says Shoveler numbers are building up on Baffins Pond; there were 6 males and 4 females on the pond today. They could rise to 50 or more.


Warblington Cattle Egrets
Peter Milinets-Raby had some spare time today and had two quick trips to the Warblington area in awful weather. On the morning visit, despite the weather, Peter managed to see and photograph the two Cattle Egrets which had been seen yesterday by Ann Catherine. Peter says the egrets were again wary and flighty and flew off from their preferred field and headed east to the field by the cress beds (private land and not truly viewable). Lots of milking activity and moving cattle around probably did not help. However, as he was leaving 3 Little Egrets and 2 Cattle Egrets returned to the field north of Castle Barn. Peter apologises for the quality of the photos taken in the drizzle and through the hedge, but they look perfectly fine to me. Well done, Peter.

This one shows a Cattle Egret with a Little Egret for comparison.

This one shows the two Cattle Egrets feeding together.

Other observations. Conigar Point at 10:15am to 11:15am - Very high tide (5 metres). Surprisingly nothing on the water except for 292 Brent Geese that had just flown off the field behind Conigar Point (where 23 Brent were still feeding). Three Meadow Pipits over the fields. 1 Goldcrest in the hedgerow. Peter heard the Green Sandpiper depart the little puddle where Ann Catherine saw it yesterday. It flew off to the river further south.
Later in the afternoon Peter visited Langstone Mill Pond on a dropping tide (2pm to 3:47pm - weather only slightly improved). Off shore as the mud exposed were 57 Teal, 7 Wigeon, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 565 Dunlin - an impressive number, but too distant to check thoroughly, 5 Grey Plover, 11 Red Breasted Merganser, 125+ Brent Geese, 84 Shelduck, 2 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-).
On the Langstone Mill Pond were 26 Teal and the lingering female Tufted Duck.

Winter fungi
Chris Oakley writes, "This is a dark, dull time of the year when the blaze of summer flowers gives way to the browns and greys of winter. But there is still a lot of colour to be found if you look for it, particularly in fungi. These two that have appeared in my North Emsworth garden certainly add a splash of colour."

Chris identifies them as Clavicorona taxophila (common name Yew Club) on the left and Phlebia merisoides also called Phlebia radiata (common name Wrinkled Crust) on the right. Chris adds that he is always open to identity correction, especially with fungi which are notoriously difficult.

Birds of Gambia
Tony Wootton has recently been on holiday in Gambia and circulated a selection of splendid photos of the colourful birds that he saw in that country, as he says, ... "to brighten up this dull day". The following caught my eye in particular.

From top left to bottom right: African Golden Oriel, Red-billed Hornbill, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Spelndid Sunbird.


Warblington Cattle Egret
John Norton, who accompanied Peter Milinets-Raby on yesterday's walk at Warblington when they discovered a Cattle Egret, sent another shot of the Cattle Egret and an inquisitive cow taken whilst Peter and he were trying to look through gaps in the hedge at Warblington roundabout.

John also sent two more photos of the moss and the lichen which were not identified in yesterday's blog. John says the moss is Syntrichia ruralis, which is the main one on the corrugated asbestos roof of the lean-to of the farm at Warblington Church. John's new photo shows a general shot of it cascading into the gutter. It is a common species on concrete and other artificial base-rich substrates.
The lichen was Physconia perisidiosa, which is fairly common on urban trees, especially Lime and Ash in Gosport, but here was on the Crack? Willow at Langstone Mill Pond. John's photo is a general shot of the lichen mosaic on the trunk, with the round patch of dark green Physconia in the middle. It becomes a pale brown colour when dry.

Two Cattle Egrets at Warblington
Ann Catherine was at Warblington today and confirmed that there are in fact two Cattle Egrets in the Warblington farm fields as Peter Milinets-Raby suspected in last night's report. Although initially seen separately in adjacent fields Ann later saw them both together in the Ibis field - ie the large field to the east of the cemetery extension. Ann also saw a Green Sandpiper in large puddle at field entrance just east of the Ibis field.


Cattle Egret at Warblington
Peter Milinets-Raby was joined this morning by ecologist John Norton for a walk down the Pook Lane track, along to Langstone Mill Pond and back to Warblington Church and Castle Farm (10:45am to 1:05pm). Foggy to start, then the sun pushed out. Tide dropping very slowly. The highlight was a Cattle Egret in the field north of the Castle Farm Barn with 9 Little Egrets.
Peter says,
"Poor visibility first thing with dull misty conditions. The bird was very wary and soon flew off to another field, then flew over a hedge into another field! At this point we left it and went on our walk.
Later (almost two hours later) when we had finished our walk, we explored the fields again and found the bird in the same field as earlier on. It again was very wary and alas flushed and flew east into the distance.
However, about 2 to 3 minutes later we checked the field further north and found what was probably the same bird on its own amongst cattle. The bird had a faint wash of ginger-orange on the arm of the folded wing on its left side, nothing on the right. There is a slight possibility that there were two birds?

Off Pook Lane: 1 Rock Pipit, 3 Meadow Pipit, 26 Teal, 86 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 6 Grey Plover, 7 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 Female Goldeneye, 282 Brent Geese, 2 Lapwing, 58 Shelduck, 2 Black-tailed Godwit.
Langstone Mill Pond: 21 Teal, Female Tufted Duck. 2 Grey Herons loitering with intent - with this mild weather I am sure they have things on their minds! John pointed out loads of different mosses and lichens (see photos).

Brian's note: The last Cattle Egret at Warblington on my records was in December 2010. Prior to that one was one in January 2006 that stayed for a few weeks from what I recall. Here is a cracking shot of the 2010 Cattle Egret at Warblington from Richard Ford.


Barrie's garden birds
Barrie Jay makes me very envious of the variety of birds that visit his garden in Waterlooville. Recently he has seen both Great and Green Spotted Woodpeckers, Bullfinch, Song Thrush and Wren.
Here are Barrie's cracking photos of female Great Spotted Woodpecker and female Green Woodpecker (on top) and male Bullfinch and Song Thrush (below).

Barrie says Song Thrushes were once common in his garden but are becoming increasingly rare. Bullfinches only seem to visit in transit. A few years ago he had a resident family of them that visited daily. Lucky Barrie, for I have not seen either in my garden for some years.

Another Woodpecker
For the first time in 33 years of living in Emsworth, Juliet Walker saw a Green Woodpecker in her garden this morning - very exciting! This one was a male having a distinctive red whisker on the dark moustache.

She says, "It was not pecking wood, but mostly jabbing into the grass with its beak, and stayed doing so for about 40 minutes, getting nearer and nearer to the house. I managed to open the window without disturbing it (until I got too confident, and it flew off) and took some pictures".

Baffins Shovelers
In response to my request for information about the Shovelers at Baffins Pond, Eric Eddles says they arrived last month on the 10th but just two pairs. The most he's seen so far are five. Eric sends a nice shot he got of a male-female pair feeding in their distinctive circling manner on the pond earlier in the winter.


Emsworth Harbour
10:00 - 11:00 - I checked both the western and eastern harbours on a falling tide.
Starting at Nore Barn, the stream was already fairly empty, but the Spotted Redshank was present. This was my first sighting of the bird for almost 2 weeks and I was getting a bit concerned for its safety, but there was no need to worry as it was feeding happily in the stream alone. There was no sign of any Greenshank.

There were plenty of Wigeon and Teal in the lower reaches of the stream, more Teal than I have seen previously this winter (60+) along with 19 Pintail, 8 males and 11 females.
Also, in the area were 42 Black-tailed Godwits including two colour-ringed birds
W+WN - ringed 05-Sep-10 Farlington Marshes. A regular in Emsworth Harbour. 4th sighting this winter.
O+GG - that I have not seen here before. Maybe it is a recently ringed bird? Possibly O+GL?

There were another 25 Black-tailed Godwits in the eastern harbour with one colour-ringed WO+LW flag - chick ringed in north Iceland by Ruth Croger and Pete on 13th July 2010. Regular in Emsworth Harbour. 4th sighting this winter.

I am having to eat my words about the Brent Geese having had a poor season. Brent families were everywhere today! I have not seen this many all winter. Maybe this was the flock that Anne de Potier saw at Nutbourne on Nov 10th.
I aged 332 Brents on the western mudflats including 35 juveniles in families of 5, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1.
I aged 306 Brent Geese in the eastern harbour with 14 juveniles. This makes a total of 638 aged with 49 juveniles giving a proportion of juveniles to adults of around 7%. My overall proportion for the winter stands at 3.77%, so maybe the true figure is somewhere between these two. Here is a family with 4 juveniles.

While I was on the millpond seawall a passing lady told me she had a regular pre roost evening display of Starlings around her house in Nutbourne.

Peter Pond
The Water Rail was present again feeding with two Moorhens on the eastern side of Peter Pond along with a Brown Rat.


Sparrowhawk kill
I had another Sparrowhawk kill in the garden this afternoon and I missed it. The last one was less than a week ago on Dec 2 and I missed that one too. The light was fading fast when I took this photo but the symptoms were exactly as before - a circular area of plucked white feathers on the grass - clearly the work of a Sparrowhawk plucking a Collared Dove.

Brook Meadow Hedge-laying
The hedge laying on the Seagull Lane patch of Brook Meadow is now complete and looks quite splendid. Mike Probert and his team are to be congratulated on a very fine piece of work. Here is Mike with the finished work.

Mike's full report with more photos of the work in progress and completed is now on the Brook Meadow web site.
Go to . . .

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had some time this morning to quickly visit the Langstone Mill Pond from 8:58am to 9:51am - tide out. Main sightings:
Off shore: 1 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 1 Kingfisher feeding from the posts in the mill pond outflow, 152 Teal, 77 Wigeon, 17 Red Breasted Merganser with 4 off Conigar Point, 6 Little Egrets, 12 Grey Plover, 71 Dunlin, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 42 Shelduck with 24 off Conigar Point, 414 Brent Geese, 1 Rock Pipit over, 1 female Goldeneye, 24 Lapwing
Langstone Mill Pond: 35 Teal, Female Tufted Duck.

Baffins Pond
In response to my query in yesterday's blog about the relative absence of Shoveler on Baffins Pond, Eric Eddles wrote to say "the Shovelers arrived last month on the 10th but just two pairs, the most I've seen so far are five. Of the resident pair of swans sadly three weeks the cob flew into our next door neighbours telephone wire bringing down their guttering and facia board and was killed. The pen now comes and goes and is missing for days on end.


I had to go down to Portsmouth this morning which gave me the opportunity to have a look at some of my old birdwatching haunts.

Starting at Canoe Lake I counted 27 Mute Swans along with the usual collection of gulls. Good to see the swans back on the pond, though not in the numbers there were in the late 1990s and early 2000s when there were regularly over 80 in mid winter with a record peak of 94 in January 2000.

On to Eastney Lake where the tide was low. Here I counted 282 Brent Geese with just one juvenile! This is proof that the breeding season has been poor for the Brents. My current percentage of juveniles to adults is 1.23%. Here are a few of the Brents feeding in a fresh water channel close to the shore. Not a single juvenile to be seen.

I walked around Baffins Pond where Tufted Ducks were fairly numerous as usual, but I could only find 4 Shoveler which is surprising at this time of the year. Again, in the early 2000s I used to count at least 40 Shoveler on the pond, circling around in their distinctive feeding behaviour. My record count was 83 in Nov 2001.


Warblington shooting
Peter Milinets-Raby sent another photo of the abandoned dead Wigeon taken on Sunday Dec 4 from the Warblington shore. This photo captures a bit of the shoreline in the back ground and one of the boats which might help to locate the bird on the mudflats.

He says the shooters usually shoot from the main gully/stream outlet to the west of Conigar Point, at least 100 metres from the shore. The dead Wigeon was about 50 metres further west of their normal shooting position, a bit too far away for the dog to pick up the scent. Dorian Tennyson actually witnessed the shooting from the Northney shore and thought there were about 30 birds killed.

Wildfowlers reply
I received the following reply from the secretary of the Chichester Wildfowling Association regarding the shooting at Warblington on Sunday Dec 4.

"We've read with interest the account you have put on your blog of the shooting that occurred at Emsworth over the weekend. Whilst wildfowling by our members is a legitimate activity in this area of the harbour there are several aspects that we are investigating, in particular the bird shot but not retrieved you have reported.
In case you are not aware all wildfowling is controlled by the Chichester Wildfowlers Association, you can find out more about us by visiting our web site at . . . You will see from the web site that we have clear standards our members are expected to adhere to and that new members are only accepted after a probationary period to prove their competence.
You will also see that we place a high value on the well-being of the harbour by undertaking many conservation activities, in particular the maintenance of the reed beds and associated habitat in Fishbourne.
If you or your colleagues notice any other behaviour that you believe contravenes legitimate wildfowling activity, we would appreciate you making us aware of it so that it can be investigated via our web site".

Meadow Pipits
Brian Lawrence had a walk from Prinsted to Nutbourne yesterday and got a couple of nice shots of the resident Meadow Pipits that can usually be seen in bushes along the seawall path.


Wayside flowers
I had a walk from home, through Brook Meadow and into Emsworth, noting any wild flowers I saw out on the pavements, etc. I found two interesting ones:
(1) There is a good growth of Water Bent (Polypogon viridis) in the semi-wild front garden of my neighbour in Victoria Road, usually expected no later than mid-September. I also found some growing in the gutter along Bridge Road.

(2) The first flower buds of Winter Heliotrope are now showing, but not yet fully open, on the roadside embankment by the doctor's surgery in the centre of Emsworth.

Other wild plants in flower: Shepherd's Purse, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Common Chickweed, Annual Mercury, Groundsel, White Dead-nettle, Hogweed, Gorse, Daisy, Common Mallow, Red Dead-nettle, Ivy, Common Nettle, Knotgrass, Petty Spurge, Pellitory-of-the-wall, Common Field Speedwell, Smooth Sow-thistle, Cocksfoot, False Oat-grass, Annual Meadow-grass.

Annual Mercury and Pellitory-of-the-wall

The best bird of the morning was a Water Rail that I found feeding on the east side of Peter Pond where David Gattrell puts the food for the ducks. This is the first one I have seen this year, but what a pity it was not on Brook Meadow.

Farlington Barn Owl
Regarding the Barn Owl photographed in flight by Heather Mills at Farlington Marshes yesterday, Pete Potts agrees it is a wild bird and could be one they ringed at Northney, Hayling as a chick in recent years. Of course, they won't know for certain unless it is retrapped or picked up dead or injured, but let's hope not the latter!

Shooting at Warblington
Peter Milinets-Raby e-mailed Mark Greenhough, Wildfowling Officer at The British Association for Shooting and Conservation to ask if the duck shooting at Warblington on Sunday 4th December was legal. Mr Greenhough confirmed that it is legal to shoot below the mean high water mark from 1st September until 20th February inclusive. He adds that the timing of visits is to coincide with the movement of birds which mainly happens pre dawn. So, that is the end of that, I suspect, apart from getting the law changed!

Shooting at Farlington Marshes
Nicola Hammond and her husband had a walk around Farlington Marshes this afternoon during which they encountered two men planning to shoot wildfowl on the reserve and were naturally rather concerned. Here is Nicola's account:

As we joined the footpath on the western side to walk back to the car park, we stopped for a while to watch a Short-eared Owl flying very close. There was a large 4 x 4 vehicle parked with two chaps in camouflage gear who we thought might be wardens. They were very friendly and started to chat to us and then said they had permission to be there as they were members of the local shooting club who leased the land to the west of the footpath.
They wanted to give us warning that they would be shooting during the half hour before dusk. A bit taken aback we walked off. The field had a large number of Brent Geese that we could see, and a Short-eared Owl was flying back and forth over it - would they differentiate that from the birds they were licensed to shoot we wondered? Also, we found it very strange that there was an area licensed for people to shoot between a Wildlife Trusts reserve and RSPB managed land on North Binness.

When she got home Nicola Googled 'wildfowling at Farlington' and came across the following from the Solent reserves blog:

"The Langstone & District Wildfowlers and Conservation Association are a long standing local group who have had an agreement with all the relevant partners in the harbour for nearly 60 years - longer than the wildlife trust has managed Farlington. They always provide the data for what they shoot and the species of what they shoot is always closely policed by the group or any of the harbour partners. Also the number of birds they can shoot is limited (only a small number is ever annually taken) and the group pride themselves in eating what they shoot.
The wildfowlers are allowed access across the nature reserve on the main access tracks. But must not shoot on the seawall or towards the reserve. This is the agreement with Portsmouth City Council who own the whole of Farlington Marshes (we [HIWWT] only manage it on a lease). This is often when they are seen and come into contact with the public before they head out into the harbour. Also the controlled and licensed shooting activities in the harbour reduces the likelihood of poaching and helps the RSPB, Portsmouth City Council and ourselves keep a track of the groups activities. If this was to become unsustainable, serious questions would be asked about the future operations of the group. "

Despite all this Nicola added that she still found it distasteful! I wholeheartedly agree, but there is not much we can do about it - except possibly put pressure on the RSPB to buy that land?

Emsworth Kingfishers
Kingfishers typically move down the rivers to the harbour in winter where they fish in the streams and millponds of Emsworth. Many people have reported seeing them, always with much pleasure. They have been seen on Peter Pond and Slipper Millpond on the east of the town, but the one that frequents the town millpond obligingly perches on the edge of the pond wall giving excellent views. On Sunday, Ian Mears walked from Northney to Emsworth for the first time in a few years and was rewarded with a sighting of a female Kingfisher perched on the edge of the town millpond. And got this excellent shot of the bird. Nice one!


Red Kite encounter
Maurice Lillie's account of his encounter with a fox in yesterday's blog, reminded Chris Oakley of an incident that happened to him last week. "We were driving to Petersfield along the B2147 just before Compton when a Red Kite came down in front of us. It was trying to retrieve a road kill rabbit, which itself is an unusual find nowadays. With the sun behind us it was a spectacular site, the bright russet body and black and white under wing, coupled with its yellow extended claws showed just how big these raptors are. It flew off without its prize. Red Kite are becoming more frequent along this valley road and it is probably the best area to get a good look at them. I will certainly not forget that dramatic moment".

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby was up early this morning with the lyric, ". . . . deep, crisp and even" running through his head as it was another frosty morning with temperatures below zero. He walked the Warblington shore from 7:28 am to 10:03am - low tide throughout.

Sunrise from the Warblington shore

Warblington cemetery: 1 Buzzard, 1 Jay, Goldcrest heard. Ibis Field: 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 female Pheasant, 2 Moorhen.
The hedgerow behind Conigar Point and along the stream has been drastically cut back along its entire length, getting rid of the low scrub that was good for migrants. Shame! At least I can see the stream now!

Conigar Point: Absolutely NOTHING. The mud was empty and the gullies were devoid of birds, very eerie. I was there at sunrise, but obviously the shooters had been and gone - I know they had been there because they left the tell-tale sign of a kill that obviously the dogs had missed picking up. From the photo (below) the bird is a young male Pintail. Now this is a real shame, as this species is uncommon in the area. One less and I suspect that they probably shot a male as these birds usually hang around together and when I last spoke to these guys they so wanted to bag a Pintail! A few birds did return: 72 Brent Geese, 5 Shelduck, 1 Grey Plover, 5 Wigeon.

**See Dorian Tennyson's report below for more about the Warblington shooting

Off Pook Lane: 107 Dunlin, 12 Grey Plover, 337 Brent Geese (one flock of 192 held 26 juveniles - 13.5%), 139 Teal, Adult winter Curlew Sandpiper (feeding with 34 Dunlin - some good views for once, but difficult to pick out in the bright sunshine), 11 Red Breasted Merganser, 68 Shelduck, 40 Wigeon, 16 Lapwing (with an extra one on the field south of the cemetery), 59 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Gull, 1 adult winter Mediterranean Gull, 1 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 1 Rock Pipit over, female Common Scoter feeding/diving with 9 mergansers in the trickle of water in the channel - a new addition to the area for me!
2 Stock Doves, 2 Chiffchaff in the Tamarisk Hedge.
Langstone Mill Pond: 7 Teal, 1 Grey Heron, female Tufted Duck.
Horse paddock - dry now! 3 Moorhen

More about the shooting at Warblington
Dorian Tennyson says he has been reading with concern the reports by Peter Milinets-Raby on this blog detailing duck shooting at Warblington. Dorian says, "I was out this morning walking along the North Hayling shore and heard and counted some 60 shots being fired by two individuals. There was also a dog present and from observing through my binoculars I noticed they picked up about 30 birds whilst also chasing and other injured birds with the dog".

Barn Owl at Farlington
Heather and Derek Mills had a big surprise during their afternoon walk at Farlington - a Barn Owl. It was a first for them, but Heather wonders if it is an escape as she can see a ring on its leg. Anyone any ideas about this?

A Barn Owl was also reported today on the HOS Sightings 'GoingBirding' web site. It was also reported on 25 Nov so it looks as if it has been around for a while.


Fox encounter
Maurice Lillie had an early morning encounter with a Fox. Here is the story in his own words:

At 06.15 this morning, I had just left home, across the gardens in front of the house and was walking with one of the dogs up Sadlers Walk. We were only a few metres away from the house and the dog stopped and growled. I caught a glimpse of a cat dodge behind a shrub about 25metres away. The dog refused to move and remained silent. He just stared across the road. A few seconds later the animal reappeared and it was then that I realised it was a young fox. The fox took a few paces in our direction and stood stock still. It remained thus for a good half minute before turning and casually crossing to our side of the road about 15metres ahead. It went down a path that runs in front of our houses and trotted away.

We continued our walk down Sadlers Walk to Lumley Road. Looking left towards the sea there was the fox on the triangle of grass by the letterbox, seeming to have found something to eat. It saw us and walked across the road looking at us the while, towards the wooden seats that overlook Peter Pond and then walked casually behind a car where it found the packaging remains of a takeaway. I perched on a garden wall to see what would happen. The fox emerged about 4 metres away from behind the car, with the packaging in its mouth. As I was stationery and the dog sitting quietly it dropped the package and ate whatever remains were it could extract. Shortly, it strolled off up Lumley Road on its foraging. This is the closest I gave come to a fox for many years. We sometimes them at night parents calling to their Cubs and them 'talking' back. I just love nature.

Maurice did not have his camera with him, so I have included this cracking shot taken by Chris Oakley in his garden in 2014 of what looks like a youngish Fox like the one Maurice saw.

Regarding aging of Foxes, I gather it is not easy to tell young from adults after the age of about 6 months. The female fox typically gives birth in March and April and by now youngsters will be well developed and fending for themselves. See the following web site for more information . . .

Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the shoreline between Emsworth and Nore Barn this morning (a puncture to the front tyre - a nail - forced him to search for a repair garage and ended his outing). Dull grey start from 7:38am to 9:16am - low tide throughout.
Emsworth Mill Pond: Kingfisher sitting on the wall side of the pond, 33 Coot, 1 Rock Pipit flew over.
Emsworth Harbour: 3 Little Egret, 129 Canada Geese - departed in dribs and dabs towards Thorney Island, 355 Brent Geese, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 4 Greenshank, 10 Lapwing, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover, 161 Dunlin, 9 Turnstone, 5 Mute Swan, 17 Shelduck, 8 Teal, 33 Knot, 3 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Ringed Plover, Redshank with coloured rings (-//G + G//YG) off mill outflow.
Beacon Square from 8:25am: 17 Ringed Plover (2 with colour rings: -//- + G//NB & -//- + R//LY), 6 Dunlin, Redshank with coloured rings (-//O + O//GW), 3 Grey Plover, 184 Brent Geese, 9 Teal, 25 Wigeon, 3 Pintail (male & 2 females), 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Shelduck.
Nore Barn from 8:48am: 15 Pintail (6 males & 9 females), 99 Teal, 80 Wigeon - hard to count with most hiding in the muddy gullies, plus too much disturbance from runaway dogs, 151 Brent Geese, 38 Black-tailed Godwit (two with colour rings W//R + WN//- & G//R + WR//- both regulars in Emsworth Harbour), 8 Mute Swan, 2 Grey Plover, 12 Shelduck. No sign of Greenshank or Spotted Redshank?

Avocets at Nutbourne
Christopher Evans went to Nutbourne, where the tide was well in, and on the edge of the spit near the outfall of the stream were 30 or so Avocets. He also saw Black Tailed Godwits, Redshank, Teal and Wigeon both on the spit and in the water. On the shoreline there were a dozen or so Turnstones, which were regularly disturbed by dogs wandering down to the water. A large flock of Brent Geese flew in and settled noisily on the water.

Budds Farm Ponds
After lunch Christopher Evans walked from Mill Lane, Langstone over to Budds Farm. By this time the tide was just starting to ebb and there was very little in the water apart from a few Wigeon. Budds Farm was more rewarding with plenty of Teal, small numbers of Tufted Duck and Shoveler, a pair of Gadwall, a pair of Pochard and a Little Grebe.

Chichester Harbour
John Arnott had another successful Solar boat trip in Chichester Harbour this morning. He reports as follows:
A Great Northern Diver appeared right next to the boat. Also a great view of an adult Peregrine on North Stakes Island but I was too busy trying to get someone to see it through my telescope and missed the opportunity of a good photo.

The four immature male Eiders were still off Pilsey Island and there was a female type Common Scoter too. A large flock of Bar-tailed Godwit roosting on North Stakes Island on the way back, estimated 500-ish, as well as some smaller flocks of Knot fidgeting about. Red-breasted Mergansers were showing well with males definitely beginning to get frisky now . . . not long until spring! A large flock of either Knot or Golden Plover wheeling about very distant and high over Thorney Island, which I just couldn't make up my mind about I'm afraid. Luckily nobody asked me about those! Flocks of several thousand Dunlin each and lots of Grey Plover everywhere. Oh, and the obligatory Harbour Seal next to the boat, but again no photo as I was too busy trying to get everyone to see it.

Hayling Oysterbeds
Several interesting birds were reported on the HOS Going Birding web site today from Hayling Oysterbeds: Long-tailed Duck, , Common Scoter, Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebes and , most interestingly, a female Smew.
Both the Birds of Hampshire and the Birds of Sussex describe Smew as 'a very scarce winter visitor'. I always have associated them with Chichester Gravel Pits (New Lake), though I have not seen one for many years. The last local one I know of was a female on Thorney Deeps in Jan 2011. Here is a shot that Tony Wootton got of that bird.


Nore Barn
I spent a couple of hours at Nore Barn this morning from 10am to 12 on a rising tide. The weather was cold and dull, but fortunately there was no wind chill so conditions for birdwatching were very good.
When I arrived the bay was full of birds, mostly Wigeon, Brent Geese and Black-tailed Godwits, so I had judged the tide just right. I met my old friend Des Barker who was going on a walk with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy though I think he would have preferred to stay and look at this galaxy of birds.
As the birds appeared to be fairly settled into their feeding routine, I decided to tackle one species at a time. I counted a total of 222 Brent Geese in the bay including 5 juveniles in broods of 2, 2 and 1.

My personal percentage of juveniles to adults currently stands at 1.58% which suggests a very poor breeding season for the Brents. However, I am mindful of the count of 86 juveniles in a flock of 1,000 Brent Geese by Anne de Potier at Nutbourne on Nov 10 which means the overall breeding success might be better than I am seeing. We shall see. I would appreciate any other Brent age counts.
As for the ducks, I counted 208 Wigeon and 26 Teal - the latter is certainly an underestimate. There were also 14 Pintail feeding close to the shore including 5 males and 9 females - my best Pintail count of the winter so far. I found just one Shelduck.

As the tide came in the Black-tailed Godwits were driven into the channel south of the woods where they gathered on the edge of the saltmarshes.

They were fairly easy to see and count at this point. I counted 72 Black-tailed Godwits including two colour-ringed birds, both regulars in Emsworth Harbour for several years: ROL+RLR and WO+WL flag.

 I kept a close eye on the stream during my visit, but things did not change much. The only birds in the stream were the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL), a Common Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and, at one point, 4 Pied Wagtails. There was no sign of the Spotted Redshank! Its absence is very unusual and I hope is not ominous.

Sparrowhawk kill
The first thing I saw when I looked out of the back window this morning was a pile of white feathers scattered on the grass. This was clearly the work of a Sparrowhawk plucking what looked like a Collared Dove. I wish I had been there to witness the act. This was not surprising as I saw a male Sparrowhawk on the garden (without prey) on Nov 12, one of a local hunting pair. How exciting. Undoubtedly, the best garden bird of all!

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby spent 30 minutes visiting Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon (from 2pm - high tide). On the high tide waters offshore were:
44 Shelduck, 8 Goldeneye - male with seven females (first of the winter), 46 Wigeon, 5 Red breasted Merganser, 8 Teal (all left for their evening roost already?), 28 Brent Geese.
Langstone Mill Pond: Water Rail Heard, Tufted Duck female (see photo taken on 28th November when the sun was shining), 1 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron roosting, 1 Teal on the pond (half frozen still), 10 Long-tailed Tits.
Horse paddock (not flooded anymore). Nothing, except the weirdly looking pale plumaged Buzzard (see poor record shot as it flew off - beware this one!)


Hedge laying on Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow at 10am for the follow-up session of the hedge laying workshop on the Seagull Lane patch led by Mike Probert. The weather was fine, though cold and frosty. Mike was there with Phil and Maurice, joined later by Jennifer. They continued cutting and laying the shrubs in the Jubilee hedgerow. It was interesting to see how each main stem was cut and bent over before being woven into the stakes that had been driven into the ground.

I went over again this afternoon to record the end of the workshop where Mike, Jennifer, Phil and Colin were finishing off the first section of hedgerow. About one third of the whole length has been completed and the result looks very good indeed. In addition to laying the main hedge of Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Hazel, three trees have been left to grow as standards, two Hawthorns and a Blackthorn. Mike and the others are to be congratulated on a fine job.

A more detailed report from Mike with photos will soon appear on the Brook Meadow web site.

I had a look on the river for the Kingfisher that Mike got a good view of earlier this morning, but I did not see it. However, this is the ideal time of the year to see these iconic birds. However, here are a couple of more easily seen residents on the river.

On this morning's visit, I had a general stroll around taking a few picturesque shots of the meadow in the frosty conditions.

Frosty nettles on the main river path

Path through the south meadow

Looking down stream towards the sluice gate

View across the north meadow with St James Church tower in the distance

Today on HOS Going Birding, D Noble reported 53 Avocets at Farlington, west of the west wall and later roosting on island SW of marshes. That's the most I have heard of locally this winter.

Christopher Evans reports on the monthly Havant U3A walk today on the Chidham Peninsula.

Revelling in the glorious sunshine and the stillness of the day. Highlight of the day was a flock of some 40-50 Golden Plover. These were in the field immediately adjacent to the small car park at the bottom of Chidham Lane, where we had parked our cars. At some point they took off and we were able to admire them wheeling around but lost sight of them when they headed north. Happily, they were in the field when we returned. Other sightings of particular interest were: a male Kestrel devouring its prey on top of an electricity pole behind the Activity centre (it too was still there when we returned); a Kingfisher, which flew across the harbour from west to east: a female Reed Bunting and a female Stonechat. In addition, plenty of the ubiquitous Brent Geese, Teal, Redshank and Dunlin, as well as smaller numbers of Greenshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Curlew.
On my return, I paid a quick visit to Langstone, where I saw a fox on the bridge over the tidal section of the Langbrook Stream (I got a photo but not a particularly good one) and a very brief flash of blue near West Mill. Very little of interest on Langstone Mill pond, which was still partly frozen over. The Teal were mainly, if not totally, out in the harbour and I could only see one cygnet from the Swan family.

For earlier observations go to . . . November 2016