JANUARY 30 - 2017
I did my
regular morning patrol through a slightly misty, calm
and peaceful Brook Meadow. The meadow is very wet
after yesterday's rain, but the main paths remain
fairly dry. Here is a view looking north along the
main path in the south meadow with one of the
signcases on the right.
The river is now
running quite high with murky water from the silt
brought down from the upper reaches. This is quite a
change from Saturday when the north river was bone
dry. Here it is with a nice flow of water from beneath
There was lots of bird
song, mostly from Robins which were everywhere.
Several House Sparrows were chirruping away as usual
from the bushes at the end of Seagull Lane. During my
walk I was particularly pleased to hear three Song
Thrushes in full song, one in Palmer's Road Copse,
one on the north meadow and one in Seagull Lane patch.
Three Song Thrushes is our regular quota on Brook
Meadow. This photo was taken a few years ago.
I watched a pair of
Dunnocks displaying with lots of wing fluttering
and chasing on the west bank. Here is a shot of a pair
indulging in pre-coital behaviour taken a few years
ago on the meadow. Dunnocks are, in fact, quite a
There is a nice
flowering of Winter Heliotrope on the river
bank below the south bridge. There may be enough for
an aroma from the bridge. Has anyone smelt it?
Yesterday, I happened
to meet a couple who were measuring the two bridges on
Brook Meadow in the rain! They explained that they
have been asked by the Brook Meadow Conservation Group
to repair and replace the badly worn surfaces on both
bridges in the near future. That will be good as they
have got into a dangerous condition.
Milinets-Raby had some spare time this afternoon, so
despite the high tide, visited a few sites around the
area in grim drizzle (12:55pm to 2:17pm - high tide
Langstone Mill Pond: 7 Grey Heron present, with 6 of
them standing on or by nests, 2 Adult Mute Swans on
Flooded horse paddock: Perfect for birds with 176
Teal, 8 Wigeon, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2
Pied Wagtails, 2 Little Egrets and 2 female
Off shore on the high water were: 58 Wigeon and 20
Beacon Square: 2 Red Breasted Merganser, 130 Brent
Emsworth Harbour: 8 Little Grebes, 8 Brent Geese. 1
Greenshank feeding at the base of the wall by the
town. 27 Coot with 17 on the Millpond.
JANUARY 29 - 2017
Milinets-Raby was out this morning visiting Conigar
Point before the rain moved in and forced him home
7:40am to 8:46am - tide coming in, but still low.
4 Little Egrets in the field north of the barn, 6
Little Egrets in the field west of the cemetery, along
with a male Pheasant, 2 Oystercatcher and a
Ibis Field: Green Woodpecker, 12 Pheasant, 5 Moorhen,
2 Long-tailed Tits.
Conigar Point: 46 Teal, 136 Wigeon, 66 Brent Geese,
Pair of Pintail, 1 Red breasted Merganser, 10
Shelduck, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, with 2 flying over
heading for Nore Barn.
1 Snipe flushed from the SSSI Orchid field
JANUARY 28 - 2017
I had a late
morning walk through Brook Meadow where I found a
Little Egret feeding in the River Ems below the
north bridge. I managed to get a few shots before it
spotted me a flew off to another location on the
river. Little Egrets are fairly common on the river in
I made my way down to
Peter Pond where I found David Gattrell laying
the reeds along the edge of one of the newly cut
channels. I think he calls this thatching.
The nesting Mute
Swan pair was on the pond, though I suspect they
will actually nest in the reeds on the neighbouring
Slipper Millpond as they have done in the past.
I also spotted this
Song Thrush with what looks like a snail or
possibly an insect pupa.
From there I decided
to walk over to Emsworth quay at the bottom of South
Street to have a look for the Black Swans which Chris
Berners-Price and Brian Lawrence saw there yesterday.
I had no trouble finding them, all five of them with
some Mute Swans and a very attentive and fascinated
Black Swans are
certainly unusual in Emsworth Harbour, this being the
most I have ever seen in this location. From the pale
edges to their wing feathers I would guess that some
of them were juveniles. Peter Milinets-Raby thinks
there are 3 adults and 2 juveniles.
The next question
concerns from where they came. The only local Black
Swan breeding site I know of is at West Ashling
millpond, but Paul Cooper informs me that for the last
two or three years there's only been one Black Swan on
the West Ashling pond, so they won't be from there!
JANUARY 27 - 2017
Swans in Emsworth
Berners-Price found 5 Black Swans in Emsworth Harbour
by the quay at high water this morning. Quite a catch!
to the carcass he found on the beach at Nore Barn,
Chris Berners-Price estimates it was 2/3rds the size
of these adults, so definitely not a Black Swan. Chris
still prefers a Black-throated Diver.
Tom Bickerton is also
adamant that the carcass was not a swan. He says, a
juvenile Black Swan will show white in the
secondaries, but there was no sign of this in Chris's
photo. Also, the shape of the carcass is wrong for a
swan and the legs should extend past the tail, which
is squarer than in a swan.
However, Peter Milinets-Raby is fairly confident that
the carcass was a Black Swan. He adds "There are not
many other Black/Dark/White species of bird in this
country that have an overall length over 57 cms and
have a black tail, black vent (area where the leg
meets the body - clearly black), dark wings and white
somewhere along the wings or lower mantle (hard to
work out from the position of the corpse where this
I will draw this discussion to a close unless anyone
else comes in with any first hand evidence, ie who
actually saw the dead bird.
was at Nore Barn today and found the regular Spotted
Redshank and its friend the colour-ringed Greenshank
(G+GL) feeding in the stream. He also saw the group of
5 Black Swans that Chris Berners-Price saw in the main
harbour near the quay.
sent a fine selection of images he has taken of birds
in his garden or fields nearby apart from the
Fieldfare which was taken at Popham
JANUARY 24 - 2017
I had a stroll
around Nore Barn this afternoon. The tide was right
out so there was nothing of interest to see in the
harbour. I walked through the woods where Great Tit
was singing its full 'teacher' song. I also heard
snatches of the 'ooo-wu - ooo-wu' song of a Stock
Dove. Such a peaceful scene, though several dogs
rushed out soon after I took this photo!
I walked a little way
up the path (sometimes called the Selangor Path) at
the far end of the woods leading to the main Havant
Road. There are some magnificent old Oak trees along
Quite close to the
Nore Barn entrance, I found several Butcher's-broom
plants covered in bright red berries. There were
lots of flower buds and just a few open flowers. One
tiny pale flower can be seen in the centre of the
photo below. The flower buds appear to be attached to
oval 'leaves' with sharp spines, though these 'leaves'
are in fact flattened stems. The plant flowers from
February to May and sporadically throughout the year,
so they were not unexpected today. I was looking for
The remains of last
year's Great Horsetail plants were also
prominent by the side of the path. This is one of the
few places that this plant grows in our area. In some
places they are a plague, particularly on allotments!
Milinets-Raby spent 40 minutes down the Langstone Mill
Pond this morning from 9am - high tide. The highlights
were as follows: 1 Greenshank, 85 Lapwing, 60
Shelduck, 5 Goldeneye, 4 Red breasted Merganser, 55
Off shore: 193 Brent Geese, 54 Wigeon, 2 Adult Mute
Swans chasing off 4 juveniles as far as Conigar Point
- Its that time of the year!
Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Little Egret looking very cold,
8 Grey Herons: 2 on the top Holm Oak nest together
looking lovey dovey! 2 on the Lower Holm Oak nest -
one adult pinching sticks from other nests (see below)
1 guarding the Other Holm Oak nest - chasing off the
Heron pinching sticks from its nest!! Funny to watch -
so aggressive, 2 on the "Old South Nest" behind the
vegetation. Looked liked they may have laid as they
were very lovey dovey to one another and fiddling with
sticks etc. And 1 Grey Heron loitering on furthest
South nest. Chiffchaff heard calling, 26 Teal.
Horse paddock - frozen - 11 Moorhens.
And in the distance, through the scope, on the usual
field was one Cattle Egret!
Peter had a
re-look at his Black Swan youngster photos and reckon
the corpse found on the beach by Chris Berners-Price
at the end of Warblington Road is one of these type.
He thinks the markings on the wing shoulder look like
the marks on Black Swan. What do you think?
took a very cold stroll along Old Liss Railway this
morning and got photos of Treecreeper, Buzzard, a fox,
and his first photo of a Firecrest - nice one! Other
birds seen were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Goldfinches,
Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes
and a solitary Little Egret which I disturbed on the
Rother. There were no Redwings that Mike had seen in
JANUARY 23 - 2017
yesterday's unbroken sunshine, the weather today was
very different with dense fog at first and lingering
all day, enveloping the whole area. I would not liked
to have been driving, but walking was a surprisingly
pleasant experience, peaceful, a bit like after a
snowfall. I decided to walk round the town millpond
which still had a layer of unfrozen ice over much of
the surface supporting a variety of gulls.
Wagtails kept me amused dancing around the edge of
the pond with their loud 'chick-chick' calls. A
Great Black-backed Gull was perched on a post
in the harbour and a Greenshank and two
Redshanks were feeding in the low water channel near
the quay. They are in the centre of the photo in the
channel, but not easy to see.
Dove in garden
I put some
spare bread on the bird table which, as I hoped,
attracted several marauding Black-headed Gulls, though
they were extremely nervous about coming down to my
relatively enclosed garden. The Gulls are always
flying around on the look out for food in gardens.
However, far more interesting was a Stock Dove, which
I have only seen twice before in my present garden, in
May 2013 and in April 2009.
Stock Dove is easily
distinguished from the Woodpigeon as being much
smaller and in having no white collar patch. However,
telling it from Feral Pigeon is not so easy as they
are much the same size and both have green iridescence
on the neck. The key difference that I look for is the
overall slate grey plumage of the Stock Dove; the
Feral Pigeon is usually much lighter with a more
varied plumage. Their behaviour and songs also differ.
The Stock Dove is also largely a woodland bird with a
distinctive 'ooo-wu . . . ooo-wu' song, whereas the
Feral Pigeon is seen mostly in large flocks in towns
and cities and has the familiar 'look-at-the-moon'
cooing song. For comparison here is a Feral Pigeon
that I took on Baffins Pond a couple of years ago.
Pam Phillips got a really good view of the Brook
Meadow Water Rail in open water, south of the S bend
in the River Ems, catching something from the flow of
the river. As Malcolm Phillips is no longer in
Emsworth, it would be good if someone could get a
photo of the bird.
Here is the
original carcass and Chris's measurement
Berners-Price has been back to the exact spot where he
found the headless bird carcass on the beach at the
end of Warblington Road on Jan 15. Chris sent a photo
of a tape measure on the beach showing the size of the
carcass. From the tail to the top of rib-cage is 57cm
(22.5") and the body diameter is 18cm (7"). Everyone
has told him that it cannot be a Black Swan, as he
first thought, so he asks, "Could someone tell me what
it is, please?"
thoughts: I think we can rule out Black Swan
(length 110-140cm) as it would have been considerably
larger than this carcass. Also, I think we can rule
out Brent Goose (length 55cm-62cm), which was many
people's suggestion, as this bird is clearly smaller
than the carcass. My initial thought was Cormorant
(length 77-94cm) which seems to be about the right
size, but the white tip to the tail in the carcass
does not fit. Chris's suggestion (or hope?) was that
it was a Black throated Diver (length 63-75cm) which
was also mentioned as a possibility by Tom Bickerton.
Black-throated Diver has a white rear flank patch
which might be what can be seen on the carcass. But,
Black-throated Diver is quite a rare bird in these
waters, so the odds would seem to be against that. Has
anyone else got any ideas?
I can really
recommend the WinterWatch series of four programmes
from Arne RSPB Nature Reserve that started on BBC2
tonight at 8pm. It should soon be available on iPlayer
if you missed it. It is on the rest of the week.
Avocets, Spoonbills, Black-tailed Godwits galore in
Poole Harbour feasting on the rich invertebrates in
the mud. My highlights tonight were the Waxwings on
the Rowan berries in Sheffield, the catching and
ringing of a Woodcock at nightime, a wonderful
Starling murmuration and close-up views of Foxes
tearing flesh from a carcass. How this programme has
improved over the past few years!
JANUARY 22 - 2017
It was another
glorious winter's morning for a stroll with my bins
and camera through Brook Meadow and down to the
millponds. Here are a few of the things that delighted
my eyes as I went along.
A Little Egret
was perched high in the large Ash tree that
overhangs the north path on Brook Meadow from the
railway embankment. It flew off just after I took the
photo. They often perch in the trees over the river.
What I assume is the
regular nesting pair of Mute Swans was back on
Peter Pond feeding with the Mallard and Coot. They
have nested in the reeds on Slipper Millpond for the
past few years.
seedheads are almost as attractive as the flowers.
Look on the south facing wall of the bridge at the
north of Slipper Millpond.
One of the breeding
Great Black-backed Gulls was back on the
partially frozen Slipper Millpond along with a variety
of other gulls. The gulls often recce their nesting
area in the winter months. The centre raft is ready
and waiting for them!
It was good to see a
Coot pair back on the south raft on Slipper
Millpond, though they are unlikely to nest for a month
or so. But beware the Great Black-backed Gulls. The
north raft is as yet unoccupied, but needs a nesting
I liked this straggly
bush of Rose Hips on the east side of Slipper
The orange berries of
Stinking Iris were hiding away in the
undergrowth on the wayside by Dolphin Creek.
The town millpond was
largely frozen over, which meant most of the ducks and
Coots were gathered in the open water in the northern
end of the pond. So far this winter there have been no
Tufted Duck, Red-breasted Merganser or Great Crested
Grebe on the pond.
was also out on this glorious morning when he got this
excellent photo of a Grey Wagtail perched on the
canopy above the Methodist Church hall in Emsworth. It
was with two Pied Wagtails, or what his wife likes to
call them, 'Polly dishwashers'.
Grey Wagtail is
sometimes mistakenly called a Yellow Wagtail because
of its colour, but the latter is a rare summer migrant
to this country and is never seen in winter. Grey
Wagtails are, however, relatively common in towns and
JANUARY 20 - 2017
Swan in Emsworth
Berners-Price found this Black Swan in the channel by
Emsworth Quay today. Definitely alive and well (unlike
the poor corpse that Chris found at Nore Barn last
week). Chris noted the interesting white flash visible
at the back.
"In case any readers of your blog think that the
white showing in Chris Berners-Price's Swan photo
today is evidence that the dead swan photo (with a V
shape white patch on its rump) might be a Black Swan
corpse have a look at the photo in the link given
below. Black Swans have no white on their rumps but do
show a startling amount in their wings.
See . . . https://thumb7.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/3250928/332306615/stock-photo-black-swan-stretching-out-black-swan-in-western-australia-332306615.jpg
Evans spotted 5 Cattle Egrets in the first field on
the left down Church Lane, as you come off the
roundabout at Warblington. Christopher also went to
Nutbourne, where there were a few Avocet, as well as
plenty of Teal and Wigeon.
Mike Wells had
a walk around Farlington Marshes this morning and got
this shot of a ' lone' Avocet in the midst of Pintails
and Teal. Mike noted that some ducks chose to stand on
the ice, while the remainder stayed in the freezing
Christopher Evans went
round Farlington Marshes yesterday and on the western
side found 13 Pintail and approx 30-40
Mike also got this
very clear photo of a colour-ringed Black-tailed
Godwit. Left leg green with red on ankle and right leg
red over blue (G+RB). I don't have any records for
this bird, though it was certainly ringed at
Farlington by Pete Potts and his team. I will pass the
sighting onto Pete.
JANUARY 19 - 2017
It was another
glorious winter morning for the regular second
Thursday in the month work session on Brook Meadow
attended by 10 volunteers. The tasks clearing logs and
trimming off branches from overhanging Willows. Many
of the sawn logs were moved to the Lumley gate where
people were invited to help themselves for their
fires. We were very pleased to have a visit from
Michelle Good of HBC who is our main contact regarding
conservation matters now Jayne Lake has been moved to
The full report on the
work session plus lots more photos can be seen on the
Brook Meadow web site
Go to . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/
There are more
fresh Molehills coming up alongside the main paths
through the meadow. Moles appear to be particularly
attracted to paths, maybe from the vibrations caused
The frost create some
interesting images around the meadow. My attention was
caught by the Spear Thistle rosette.
Dan tells me the Water
Rail is regularly present on the east side of Peter
Pond when he puts food out for the ducks.
JANUARY 18 - 2017
Berners-Price tells me he went back with a tape
measure the day after he found the dead bird on the
beach at Nore Barn on Jan 15, but it was gone.
However, he provided the following observations.
wish I had left my foot in the picture to give a scale
to it. My guess is that it was 20" or 50cm from the
end of it's tail to the hole at it's shoulders where
the neck was missing. The volume of the chest area was
bigger than a Jack Russell dog, at least 6"/15cm
across. The front of the body had been eaten -
probably by the foxes that live by the bins there.
Where the neck had been there was an inverted hole as
though the neck had been pulled back into the chest
cavity. I latched onto a swan because of the size - it
was significantly bigger than a Brent Goose, which I
am very familiar with. I note a Cormorant is longer
than a Brent, but it was a powerful bird not a scrawny
thing - I am now wondering about a large Black
It was light
enough at 7.30 this morning for Pam Phillips to see
the Water Rail at the back of the old gas holder site.
Good to know it is still about.
Milinets-Raby had a visit this lunchtime to the
Warblington shore from 11:50am to 2:11pm - tide slowly
The highlights were as follows: 10 Little Egrets in
the field west of the cemetery with 2 Oystercatcher
and 3 Redwing.
Next field west were 3 Stock Doves, 27 Curlew and 3
Cattle Egret, but no cows.
Field south of cemetery held 333 Brent Geese.
Off Conigar Point: 99 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 2 Pintail (a
pair), 2 Shelduck, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, 70 Brent
Snipe flushed from SSSI orchid field and Meadow Pipit
as I walked around with intent
Off Pook Lane: 46 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Red Breasted
Merganser, 181 Lapwing (loads because the fields were
frozen, but no Golden Plover?), 66 Dunlin, 6 Goldeneye
(4 males), 99 Shelduck, 11 Grey Plover, 126 Teal, 27
Wigeon, 2 Greenshank, 24 Curlew in field by Pook Lane
track, 5 Common Gulls, 1 adult winter Mediterranean
Gull, Female pond Pintail, 120 Brent Geese.
Horse paddock. 11 Moorhen, 1 Lapwing, 1 Grey
Langstone Mill Pond; 6 Grey Herons - two on nests
numbers 3 and 7, 2 adult and 5 juv Mute Swan - seemed
to have lost three?
Mike Wells got
this cracking photo of a Goldcrest taken mid-morning
at Petersfield Heath. The temperature was zero! Only
other small birds in evidence were Long-tailed Tits,
Robins and Blue Tits.
JANUARY 17 - 2017
I took the
opportunity of a glorious winter's day to update the
three signcases on Brook Meadow with fresh
photographic displays. I had not done them since early
October, so it was certainly not before time. All went
well and I received several compliments about the
quality of the displays from members of the public
walking through. It is good to know they are
appreciated. I really must try to do them more often.
Here is the signcase near the north bridge which
includes details of the recent hedge laying
I was accompanied by
bird song for much of the morning, mostly from Robins
plus a single loud Song Thrush. A Great Tit was
also singing its full 'teacher' song from the bushes
on the west bank of the river south of the north
bridge for the first time this year. Here is a nice
shot of a Great Tit singing in December that Malcolm
Phillips got on the meadow a few years ago.
I also heard snatches
from a Blue Tit warming up its song. Ralph Hollins has
also heard Dunnock and Blackbird in song in Havant.
Most of the common birds will be singing from time to
time in the next few weeks in preparation for the
great spring choral.
I could not resist
including this shot that I took from the causeway
looking north across the centre meadow towards the two
tall Black Poplar trees. Brook Meadow is looking so
have raised doubts about the bird corpse that Chris
Berners-Price found on the beach at Nore Barn being a
Tom Bickerton says it
is the wrong shape for a swan and thinks it could be
one of two birds. The upper white tail coverts fit
Dark-Bellied Brent, but also Black-throated Diver. The
legs look like they extend past tail which would
indicate diver species.
Ralph Hollins is
confident that it is not a Black Swan as, while these
have lots of white in their flight feathers (normally
hidden in their closed wings), they do not have the
broad white rump shown in the corpse - this appears in
several Goose species including Greylag.
Anne de Potier also
thinks the tail pattern and general streaky/stripy
appearance suggest a Brent Goose, though one needs to
know the bird's size. I will have to check the size
with Chris. I had a look along the beach this
afternoon, but there was no sign of the corpse.
Anne also provided the
following a link with information about what to do if
you find a dead water bird in the context of bird flu
- see What to do.
JANUARY 15 - 2017
This morning I
had a walk through Brook Meadow and down to Peter Pond
in light drizzle. I was very pleased to meet up with
and have a chat to my friend David Gattrell who was
just finishing his regular Sunday morning stint
clearing channels on Peter Pond. David allowed me to
snatch this quick photo as he finished his work on the
It is very heavy work,
but he says it keeps him fit. Below is a view of the
channel that David had been working on this morning
taken from the footbridge on Lumley Path.
David has done a truly
magnificent job managing Peter Pond single-handed for
the past 36 years, in keeping the water flowing and
maintaining a healthy population of waterfowl. He is
rightly very proud of his achievement which is a fine
natural asset for the local community. Here is a shot
on this murky morning looking across the pond from the
path to Gooseberry Cottage to Lumley Road.
While on this path, my
attention was caught by the seedheads of the Common
Reed on the west side of Peter Pond hanging wet with
moisture from the steady rain.
Milinets-Raby was out this morning to walk along the
Warblington shore 7:50am before sunrise to 9:34am -
Ibis Field: 10 Pheasant - 2 males and 8 females.
Conigar Point: 56 Wigeon, 16 Teal, 140 Brent Geese, 17
Shelduck, 8 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, Female Pintail.
Pook Lane: 6 Red Breasted Merganser, 103 Shelduck (the
first time in four years that I've reached triple
figures!), 6 Grey Plover, 7 Dunlin, 181 Brent Geese,
Skylark heard flying over, 31 Wigeon, 28 Black-tailed
Godwit, 122 Teal, 2 adult & 6 juv Mute Swans.
Adult winter Med Gull (very unusual to see one in this
month. It is usually a sign that they are thinking of
returning to breed????).
1 Sandwich Tern, 1 Greenshank, 4 Common Gull, 58
Lapwing, 2 Little Egret.
Langstone Mill Pond: 5 Grey Herons, 30 Goldfinch.
Pook Lane/Castle Farm: 4 Cattle Egrets with a single
Little Egret with cattle in the 'Little Owl' field,
one west of the field west of the cemetery.
of Warblington & Emsworth 2016
Milinets-Raby has completed a report for the Birds of
Warblington & Emsworth 2016 which summarises his
personal observations over the past year along this
stretch of coastline. The comprehensive report has
lots of facts and figures along with many fine photos
of the birds. We are certainly all very grateful to
Peter for his meticulous reports throughout the year
published in this blog which have provided a
comprehensive and always interesting view of local
bird life. Langstone Mill Pond is now firmly on the
ornithological map thanks mainly to Peter's logging of
the nesting Little Egrets and Grey Herons. Peter also
discovered the Cattle Egrets in December on
Warblington Farm which have generated so much interest
in the birding community. Brilliant, Peter and keep up
the good work!
See the following link for a abridged version of
Peter's report on his personal web site. He has a
longer verion on a PDF file and if anyone wants it
they should email him. The report is at . . . .
Berners-Price came across this carcass of a large
headless bird 100 yards east of the beach at the
bottom of Warblington Road. From its size and
colouring, Chris thinks it could it be a Black Swan.
There certainly have been Black Swans in the Nore Barn
area recently and this could be one of them. I did
wonder about Cormorant but size is difficult to
determine. Any other ideas?
JANUARY 11 - 2017
Evans had a walk down the western edge of Thorney this
afternoon. On his return leg, he spotted a Marsh
Harrier over the reed beds at the northern end of
Thorney. He says, "At that point, it appeared to be
over by Thorney Rd. When I got back to my car, which
was parked at the junction of Thorney Rd and Thornham
Lane, I saw it again. This time, sods law, it was over
nearer to the sea wall! Given the distances and
failing light, it was 4ish by then, views weren't
brilliant, but good to see it nonetheless."
Marsh Harrier is not an uncommon bird in this area,
but certainly very good to see. Here is a photo that
Tony Wootton got of one a few years ago over the
At 4.30pm this
afternoon, Steve Dennett had the good fortune to see a
Kingfisher on the millpond steps where two big square
planters are on Bath Road. This has been a good winter
for seeing these delightful birds around our
millponds. Here is a nice shot that Richard
Somerscocks got of a Kingfisher on the millpond
seawall a few years ago.
Steve asks if I know
anyone with a knowledge of fossils? I don't but there
may well be someone out there who does.
JANUARY 10 - 2017
beautiful day it has been. This morning I really
enjoyed my walk around the town millpond which was
looking so good that I could not resist taking a snap
of it looking north. What a lovely place we live in!
I found the regular
Mute Swan pair 'guarding' the sluice gate by
the Slipper Mill Sailing Club, as they have done in
previous years, to deter any intruding swans from
getting onto the pond. They are so protective, but
will they nest? They did not last year, but we shall
The tide was high in
the harbour which was also flat calm, just like the
millpond. I took the following snap of some gulls
resting on one of the boats near the quay, mostly
Black-headed Gulls, but including one Common Gull.
Tony Wootton was also
at the millpond this morning to try out some new
techniques. Here are some images of the gulls he sent
to me 'because he likes them'. Tony says . . .
Gull because I love the detail in the markings. 2nd
winter Common Gull because I don't pick out too
really on the turn. Springs coming.
I got to Nore
Barn just after 12 noon with the tide falling. It was
a truly beautiful morning, calm sea, no wind and a
gentle sun, not too bright. 'Perfick' for birdwatching
as Pop Larkin would say. And here were certainly lots
of birds to see. The regular Spotted Redshank was
feeding in the stream closely stalked by a
photographer with a long-lensed camera.
Several hundred Wigeon, Teal and Brent Geese were
mostly in the channel south of the woods, plus a good
flock of 125 Black-tailed Godwits which is my
highest count of the winter. This is not a record for
the site which is 180 in Oct 2011.
I also found four
colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits:
G+BG - Sightings of this bird go back to Sep-10
and it was a regular visitor until Sep-14 when there
was a gap of about 3 years before it was seen again
here at Nore Barn on 03-Jan-17.
G+WR - This bird was ringed at Farlington
Marshes by Pete Potts and his team on 10-Sept-08 as
adult male. It has been a mega regular in Emsworth
Harbour ever since and today's was the 121st
O+WL - I first saw this bird in Emsworth
Harbour on 25-Sep-12, but it has been an irregular
visitor since then with only 12 sightings up to
17-Aug-15. Today's sighting was the first since then.
ROL+RLR - This
is a recognisable Kent ringed bird with 3 coloured
rings on each leg. It was ringed on 27-Oct-08 at
Kingsnorth Power Station, Medway Est. Kent as an adult
male and has been a mega regular in Emsworth Harbour
since then. Today's was my 93rd sighting!
I walked on to the
head of the channel where I found another Spotted
Redshank feeding in the fresh water stream from
the field along with the colour-ringed Greenshank
G+GL. This Spotted Redshank is probably the bird
that Anne de Potier saw here on 30 Dec 2016.
When I got back to the
main stream, the regular Spotted Redshank was
feeding at the top end of the stream near the bridge,
close to the path and quite unfazed by people and dogs
Here is an
unusual shot of the bird feeding deep in the stream
with its left wing raised.
I also saw a Rock
Pipit walking around in the grasses near the
JANUARY 8 - 2017
Greenfinches on this feeder with a
When I fill up
the bird feeders in my garden I know I am being
watched by dozens of eyes from surrounding trees and
bushes. This morning was no exception, for no sooner
had I finished filling up the sunflower hearts and got
back into the house the birds were down and on the
feeders. There must have been around 10 Goldfinches,
plus a couple of Chaffinches and House Sparrows. But I
was most pleased to see 5 Greenfinches. We have been
getting get one or two Greenfinches fairly regularly,
but 5 was the most I have seen for a year.
As is well known,
there was a catastrophic crash in the Greenfinch
population following the outbreak of the disease
trichomonosis in 2006. Up to then, Greenfinch was my
number one garden bird, but numbers plummeted. The
current BTO Garden BirdWatch Magazine 'Bird Table'
states categorically that the decline in Greenfinch
populations caused by this infection continues
are my records from my present garden for Greenfinch
The chart shows the dramatic fall in the mean weekly
count from 2006
Barrie Jay always makes me envious of the birds he
gets in his Waterlooville garden. Barrie often gets a
Green Woodpecker pecking around the garden in the
search for ants. This one is a male - with the red
moustache which is absent in the female. Grey Wagtail
is far less common than the Pied Wagtail which visits
daily. This photo was taken early in the morning and
quite dark. Interestingly, the bird has a metal ring
on its leg, but not readable.
Yesterday, Barry also
had a Grey Heron on the neighbour's tree
licking its lips while observing his fishpond!
Regarding Redwings and
Song Thrushes, Barry has seen many in his area over
the last couple of weeks but says they are camera shy
at the present.
his pupil on a driving lesson through Emsworth this
morning, Peter Milinets-Raby spotted the blue flash of
a Kingfisher cross the road in front of them at about
5 metres height, heading east towards Brook Meadow and
completely ignoring the 'Rules of the Road'! Good to
know that the pupil kept his/her eyes on the road
(unlike the instructor).
Based on records compiled from the Nest Record Scheme
and Constant Effort Sites Scheme, the British Trust
for Ornithology reports the 2016 breeding season
was a late and poor breeding season. Great Tit,
Chaffinch and Blackcap were particularly affected by
cool and damp weather in April, with many laying eggs
a week later on average. Species nesting in June, such
as Reed Warbler, were also affected by heavy
See . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXN-4OSVL-3GJW16-2FV8TJ-0/c.aspx
But Chiffchaff did
well. There was a higher adult abundance of short
and long-distance migrants at the start of the season.
Chiffchaff in particular were noted in the greatest
numbers since 1983. Survival rates may have been
helped by warmer than average conditions in their
wintering grounds. Similarly, the survival rate of
cold sensitive species such as Wren and Cetti's
Warbler was up on previous years, no doubt helped by
the milder winter in 2015-16.
to arrive BTO reports that October and early
November 2016 saw one of the largest arrivals of
Waxwings into Britain in recent years. Large flocks
were noted on the east coast, and especially in
Scotland with a peak count of 600. Some have been
reported down here. I would love to hear of any local
JANUARY 7 - 2017
Milinets-Raby was up and out down to the Warblington
shore before sunrise, a gloomy day, with the tide
dropping very slowly (7:47am to 10:38am).
At first light, 16 Little Egrets were in the field
west of the main cemetery with 3 Cattle Egrets. I
found a fourth Cattle Egret on its own in the next
field west from the cemetery.The shore was perfect
this morning with the tide dropping very slowly,
allowing for a wader & wildfowl frenzy, especially
at Conigar Point. Great stuff.
Off Conigar Point: 41 Shelduck, 6 Pintail (3 males),
169 Wigeon, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Black-tailed
Godwit, 481 Dunlin, 382 Brent Geese, 14 Teal, 4 Grey
Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Red Breasted Merganser, 1
Buzzard passed over flushing everything -
Off Pook Lane: 2 Red Breasted Merganser, 7 Lapwing, 33
Shelduck, 41 Wigeon, 138 Brent Geese, 5 Grey Plover,
289 Dunlin, 1 winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper
(spent over an hour going through the 700+ Dunlin,
until I eventually found this bird!). 2 Teal, 2 male
& 2 female Goldeneye, Meadow Pipit over, 10 Curlew
in field south of cemetery.
Finished off the morning taking photos of the Cattle
Egrets for 30 minutes. I had them to myself, shame
about the gloomy light. I took 350 photos and
virtually deleted 300 of them!!!
Link to Peter's short
YouTube video of the Cattle Egret feeding . . .
The first of
Tony Wootton 's puzzling photos of the two birds in
silhouette at Farlington was recognised correctly by
several people as Shovelers.
Pretty easy really as
there is no other duck with that profile. Ralph
Hollins said he was surprised to surprised to see them
feeding in the sea (rather than a pond), though he had
previously seen several feeding in the sea off the
mouth of the Langbrook Stream.
Ralph was much more
intrigued by Tony's mystery sea man and felt he should
be in Portsmouth Harbour south of Horsea Island where
the Navy had their long lake for testing Torpedoes. He
recalls trainee sailors being forced to do runs
through the harbour mud which tested their stamina to
the point of death and wonders (tongue in cheek) if
this is one of those young men who failed to survive!
was the only one to correctly identify the 'man' as a
seaweed covered post is off Thorney Island shore
viewable from the Emsworth Mill pond wall.
Tony added the 'man' is standing at the foot of the
slipway that's on the corner of the deck houses and
the sea wall that leads out to the Western gate of
Thorney. Right by where the official footpath comes
out from the Thorney Lane sewage farm. It is
apparently a lady made structure that has been there
since just before Xmas. That's all I know and that was
gleaned from a passer by.
is a nice shot of a Redwing that Mike Wells got a
couple of years ago
been several recent reports of Redwing in the local
area. The Havant Wildlife Group saw a flock of around
20 at Warblington during their New Year's Eve walk.
While only yesterday, Ralph Hollins also spotted a
flock of about a dozen Redwing and Song Thrushes in
the pony fields north of Wade Court. Pam Phillips also
had the first Redwing sighting in Emsworth when she
saw one along Thorney Road yesterday. So, keep looking
out for them and for Fieldfare.
showing all its major features very well, the red
flanks and bold creamy
Deer on Brook Meadow
spotted three Roe Deer at 09.15 this morning running
through Brook Meadow from the bottom of his garden in
Lumley Road, but too speedily for him to take a photo.
Deer do occasionally come through the meadow, but this
is the first confirmed sighting for over a year. Here
is a nice shot of one from my files taken by Richard
Somerscocks a few years ago on Thorney Island.
got some good views and photos of the Short-eared Owls
while on Farlington Marshes today.
JANUARY 6 - 2017
through Brook Meadow this morning, I was interested to
see a line of freshly created molehills along either
side of the path through the centre meadow from the
seat. In fact, I could see soil moving on one of them
which indicated a Mole was active below ground.
This Blackbird was
also taking an interest in the hills, probably as a
look out post, but maybe also for any tit bits the
Mole may have thrown up with the soil.
Fresh mole-hills are
commonly seen on Brook Meadow and else where during
periods of frosty weather. I also noticed a large
number of them along the grass verges in the Stansted
Estate yesterday. Molehills indicate that tunnel
systems are being enlarged in preparation for the
breeding season. The tunnel system is the permanent
habitation of the mole and also acts as a food trap,
constantly collecting invertebrate prey such as
earthworms and insect larvae. As the Mole moves
through the soil, invertebrates fall into the run and
often do not escape before being detected by the
Some years the
molehills are very abundant. I recall an occasion in
February 2005 when I counted an astonishing 1,110
hills on the meadow in 21 clusters. Here is a map of
Brook Meadow showing the distribution of clusters and
the number of molehills in each cluster.
sent a couple of puzzling photos that you might like
to ponder over. The first one was taken on open water
at Farlington Marshes in the evening. What birds are
Tony's second photo
query is, Where is the mystery man? He is life size.
Let me know if you have seen it.
Evans was at Warblington Farm yesterday afternoon at
2.30 and saw 5 Cattle Egrets in the field immediately
west of the main cemetery, along with a similar number
of Little Egrets. He says they are certainly
attracting plenty of birders.
of the Snipe
Evans reports on the monthly Havant U3A walk at
Pulborough Brooks on Jan 5.
"We met at Pulborough Brooks on a cold but gloriously
sunny morning and joined one of their regular guided
walks. Star attractions at the moment are 5 Bewick
Swans, which we had good views of through the guides'
telescopes. Other sightings included male and female
Bullfinch, Greenfinch (looking fantastic in the
sunshine), Tree Creeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Linnets,
Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Snipe,
Peregrine, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Canada Geese,
Wigeon, Teal, a single Black Tailed Godwit and
recommends Chilgrove for 'pretty much guaranteed
sightings of Red Kites'. She says, 'I do it as a
winter walk along lanes with my mother and have seen
them every time. On our first winter walk there this
year we had the treat of 3 at once. We have also had
good Yellowhammer sightings there. We have realised
that we haven't done it in the summer, something we
Thanks for that Fiona. They do seem to be spreading
slowly in our direction. We even got the occasional
one over Emsworth. Mrs Salter was 'absolutely
thrilled' to see a Red Kite flying north across
southern part of Birch Tree Drive in North Emsworth on
Feb 6 last year. It was being mobbed by Carrion
Here is a shot that Tony Wootton got of a Red Kite in
flight at The Burgh, which is just East of Arundel, on
Feb 24 last year. On that occasion Tony saw a dozen
Red Kites and 6 Buzzards.
JANUARY 4 - 2017
This morning I
had a walk through Brook Meadow where I looked for the
Water Rail that I saw in the river on Jan 1, but there
was no sign of it anywhere. Just the odd
Moorhen mooching lazily around.
I came back along
Lumley Road to check on the milky sediment in the
Lumley Stream. I discovered that it was coming from
work on flood protection around Rose Cottage where a
substantial brick wall has been built along the side
of the stream.
Walking back along the
path from Lumley Mill to Seagull Lane I noticed a
large tiered bracket fungus on one of the
pollarded Crack Willows in the garden of Constant
Springs. Possibly Grey Polypore
(Bjerkandera adusta)? The photo also
shows a truncated branch with a covering of what I
assume is a white fungus. Possibly Bleeding
was the same tree that had the splendid Chicken of the
Woods growing on it in Sep 2014, though the present
fungus looks quite different to that one. Could it be
just an aged Chicken of the Woods?
Milinets-Raby had a spare hour early this afternoon
and almost wasted it at Warblington. He arrived, saw a
"crowd" of nine birders looking into an empty field
and thought, "too many", so headed to the peace and
quiet of Langstone Mill Pond instead. Good man! So,
Langstone Mill Pond it was then - 1:05pm to 2:05pm -
tide nearly in.
Off shore on the last piece of salt marsh: 9 Dunlin, 6
Grey Plover, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 81 Teal (see
photo), 98 Lapwing, 3 Greenshank, 31 Shelduck, 63
Wigeon, 1 male and 2 female Goldeneye, 8 Red Breasted
Merganser, 1 Turnstone.
On the pond: After
high tide there were 118 Teal on the pond, 1 female
"Pond" Pintail, 1 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron just
loitering, Reed Bunting calling (heard only).
Horse paddock: 9 Moorhen, 1 Lapwing, 1 Curlew, 2 Pied
Wagtail, 3 Teal.
From the HOS
Going Birding sightings: J.Simons reported 5 Cattle
Egrets on Warblington Farm at 9.30, but he says he
could not get a definitive count as the birds were
being disturbed by people and were moving around from
field to field. There were definitely five but there
could have been more.
Interestingly, J. Simons also saw 2 Cattle Egrets farm
geese and ducks on Northney Farm which is across the
channel from Warblington. He thought they would not
stay as the farm birds were quite aggressive.
JANUARY 3 - 2017
I went over to
Nore Barn at about 11.30 this morning to catch the
incoming tide. It was a fine and sunny morning, with
no wind and not too bright. There were masses of birds
everywhere on the western mudflats and at Nore Barn.
They were mostly Wigeon and Brent Geese, but there was
also an unusually large number of Pintail.
Peter Milinets-Raby counted 76, which is by far the
best count of the winter (see Peter's report below).
I waited for the tide
to push the Black-tailed Godwits up the creek
south of the woods where I counted 98 - my best count
of the winter. They gathered close to the shore,
feeding feverishly, before the tide finally pushed
them off. Here are a few of them in this photo.
Here is a YouTube link
to a short 1 minute digiscoped video I made of a few
of them . . . https://youtu.be/xAO6BWtYwV0
I noted four
colour-ringed birds: R+GL - was a bit of a
surprise. I had not seen this bird for 4 years. In
fact the last sighting was on 20-Dec-13, though it had
been fairly regular in the harbour before then.
G+GB - was also
a bit of a surprise as I had not seen it in Emsworth
since Sep-2014. The other two colour-ringed Godwits
G+WR and ROL+RLR are both mega regulars
Redshank was in its regular place feeding in the
As I was leaving, the
Spotted Redshank was being very closely monitored by
two photographers with long lensed cameras standing on
the bank. Although the bird was typically quite
unfazed, I do wish bird photographers would respect
feeding birds and keep their distance to avoid
disturbance. Interestingly, Anne de Potier was at Nore
Barn a little later this afternoon and saw the Spotted
Redshank roosting on the saltmarsh by the picnic table
at high water with a photographer standing within 5m
Square - Nore Barn
Milinets-Raby visited the western shore from Beacon
Square to Nore Barn at about the same time as I was
there, though we did not meet up. Peter's highlights
were as follows:
Beacon Square: 15 Teal, 1 Red Breasted Merganser,
38 Pintail (17 males), 79 Wigeon, 9 Ringed
Plover (two with colour rings -//- + G///NB & -//-
+ R//LY), 14 Dunlin, 105 Brent Geese, 10 Grey Plover.
Two colour ringed Redshank (-//G + G//LW & -//O +
Nore Barn: 66 Teal, 38 Pintail (18 males). So a
grand total of 76 - by far the best count I have had
in the area!!! Great looking birds! 273 Wigeon, 101
Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin, 5 Shelduck, 1
Greenshank - asleep in water, 12 Mute Swan, 1 Spotted
Redshank, 172 Brent Geese.
News from the HOS Going Birding web site: Stephen
Bassett reported all 8 Cattle Egrets together in the
field at the very end of Church Lane to the right of
the Cemetery at 10am this morning.
Catherine Mant spotted a Dartford Warbler on the
brambles at the end of the west Thorney Island track
just before the army gate. Another birdwatcher
confirmed the ID. Catherine did not get a photo, but
here is one from my files taken by John Bogle on
Thorney in December 2012.
JANUARY 2 - 2017
is Peter's close-up shot of four of the Cattle
Anne de Potier
was right about this being 'a season of Cattle Egrets,
with some sort of influx going on'. When she said that
on Dec 30 there were 4 Cattle Egrets on Warblington
Farm. However, today the number had doubled to 8, in
what might be the largest ever gathering of these
birds in Hampshire.
Peter Milinets-Raby was probably the first to count
this number when he visited the farm early this
morning (at 7:49am). He found them in the corner of
the field to the west of the main cemetery, just by
the gate by the cattle feeding pen. He says, "after
several unbelieving counts, I reached a total of 8
Cattle Egrets with 2 Little Egrets, plus a single
Redwing. With low cloud on the horizon, the sun did
not initially come up and as usual the photos are poor
and grainy in the pre-dawn gloom. After twenty minutes
they were disturbed by a dog walker and flew over to
the north east of the farm. Again, the main herd of
cattle are in fields away from public view."
here are all eight in one
Later in the day,
Chris Oakley counted 7 Cattle Egrets in the field at
the northern end of Church Lane close to the
Warblington roundabout which is where they must have
flown to after being disturbed.
of the Rock Pipits
excitements of Warblington Farm, Peter walked down to
the shore to view the birds in the harbour: Off Pook
Lane: 123 Brent Geese, 55 Shelduck, 110 Teal, 17
Black-tailed Godwit, 82 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plover, 13
Wigeon, 9 Red Breasted Merganser, 54 Lapwing, 3 Golden
Plover, Common Gull, Turnstone, 2 Rock Pipit,
off Conigar Point: 43
Brent Geese, 3 Grey Plover, 10 Dunlin, 15 Shelduck, 2
Year's Day News
On a walk through Brook Meadow on New Year's Day I was
delighted (and relieved) to see the Water Rail
that Pam Phillips has been reporting to me throughout
the winter, but that I kept missing. It was in the
regular place under the west bank of the river beneath
where the old gasholder used to stand. This was the
best photo I could get of the bird. I badly needed
Malcolm Phillips, but he's far away in Cuba.
is a photo of a Guillemot I found in similar
The New Year got off to a very unexpected way for Anne
de Potier with a rare sighting of a Guillemot
paddling slowly westwards in Emsworth Harbour (west)
just off Kings Road at 3pm. Sea birds that end up in
harbours are often ailing, but Anne said this
Guillemot looked OK and was perky enough.
drifting into Emsworth Harbour (east) on 30 Sep
Tony Wootton got what he thinks could have been 'world
beating photos of Red Kites' if he had only
'pushed the right buttons at the right time'. Does
anyone know what they might be up to. Food passing? Or
A nice New Year's Day surprise for Eric Eddles was
this pair of perky domestic ducks on Baffins Pond.
earlier observations go to . . December