MARCH 31 - 2017
on bird feeder
I was very
surprised this morning to see a Brown Rat on the
sunflower heart feeder on the Buddleja bush in our
back garden. We do occasionally see a rat on the
ground, but have never before seen one on a feeder. I
took a few photos before it ran off along the back
Rats do not really
stand much of a chance as one of our neighbours has
three cats which use our garden as part of the
territory. I do find the occasional dead rat.
Interestingly, only today, Rosi Woods wrote a message
to hoslist with exactly the same observation - a rat
on her bird feeders. In view of this 'unwelcome'
visitor, Rosi decided to remove the feeders for the
time being. I think this is premature as the feeders
are a important source of food for a host of birds
that visit the garden. I shall certainly leave my
feeders out and wish the rat all the best in its
tussle with the local cats.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond late morning
from 11:34am to 1:06pm - tide pushing in. Main
Off shore: 17 Brent Geese, 103 Black-tailed Godwit, 62
Bar-tailed Godwit, 17 to 107 Med Gulls flew over the
pond in a 30 minute period - all were heading south
west towards the Oysterbeds. 7 Teal, 3 Grey Plover, 8
Shelduck, 1 male Red Breasted Merganser, 1 Greenshank,
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 adult summer Sandwich
Tern - probably my first migrant, 1 Buzzard. 20 Grey
Plover and 9 Dunlin off Conigar Point
Langstone Mill Pond: 18 Teal, 33 Little Egret - lots
of activity - probably the start after nothing 2 days
ago! Cetti's Warbler (moving about the pond singing -
seen and quickly photographed).
Good news on the Grey
Heron front. The male on Nest 10 has found a mate and
both birds were building up the nest together AND, an
eleventh nest is being started with a pair bringing
sticks to the very top of the other Holm Oak (above
and slightly to the left of Nest 4.).
Horse paddock: 2 Teal, 3 Grey Heron, 7 Moorhen, 1
pair at Baffins
sends the following photo of a male and female pair of
Gadwall that have been appearing on Baffins Pond for
the past 3 years. The male is very easy to pick out,
but the female, as Eric says, is easily confused with
a female Mallard. Things to look out for in the female
Gadwall, apart from its proximity to the male (the two
are rarely seen apart in my experience), are the dark
culmen (top of the bill) which is usually all orange
in the Mallard, the more solid dark brown feather
centres and white on the wing, which can be seen
easily in flight, and which can be seen in Eric's
For comparison, here
is a female Mallard with two males on Emsworth
MARCH 30 - 2017
in the 2 hour parking area at the end of Southmoor
Lane and before going onto the Southmoor reserve, I
walked up to the Budds Farm mound. On the way, I
stopped to admire a fine flowering of White
Comfrey alongside the road onto the mound.
I could not see
anything special on the ponds, so went down the steps
to the shore where I found a flock of 112 Brent
Geese feeding near the shoreline, clearly late
I was pleased to meet
Martin and Margaret Baggs who were parked in the small
area overlooking the harbour. Martin used to count the
Heronry in Old Park Wood in Chidham, but he tells me
that the woods have now been sold and divided up and
access is difficult. He was interested to hear about
the heronry at Langstone Mill Pond which is being
currently monitored by Peter Milinets-Raby.
On the way back along Southmoor Lane I heard my
first Willow Warbler song of the year from the
bushes. Such a delicate and sweet song.
I carried on to the
Southmoor reserve and climbed over the simple two
barred stile onto the area where the Southern Marsh
There was no sign of
any orchids as yet, but I saw lots of other
interesting things. First up was a good patch of
Marsh Horsetail with fresh stems and some
already with cones. Why does it not grow on Brook
But, by far the best
sighting of the morning were my first Cuckooflowers
of the year, of which I counted at least 50, all
with delicate clusters of pale pink flowers.
Beautiful! Here is also one with a hoverfly feeding on
I also spotted the
first Meadow Foxtail spike and the first spikes
of Divided Sedge.
On the way home I
passed the magnificent plant of Cow Parsley
which has been in full flower for a week or more on
the grass verge just past the Warblington roundabout
coming into Emsworth. Sorry no photo, but look out for
The swan nest
on the island has successfully survived the 4.8m high
tide and as there are no further high ones until the
end of April it may be safe. However, the swan pair
were busily collecting grass and reeds to reinforce it
when I visited at 3pm this afternoon. I could not see
any eggs in the nest. A little later the pen settled
down on the nest, hopefully to start laying in the
From the small
footbridge on the Lumley Path I watched a pair of
Coot swimming in the channel the reedbeds. These
will be nesting somewhere on the pond.
The Coots are
definitely nesting in the nest box on the north raft.
One Coot was in the box while its mate was collecting
Great Black-backed Gulls were both present on
the centre raft, though it is still a little early for
nesting which on the basis of previous years I would
expect in the second week of April. But you never
know! One bird was snuggled down when I arrived while
its mate was in the water nearby. When the second bird
came onto the raft it was greeted with a loud cawing,
which is promising.
information about the gulls nesting in Emsworth is on
a special page at . .
Black-backed Gulls on Slipper Millpond
I had a look
around the Lumley area for any signs of sedges. I did
find the first brown spikes of Greater Pond
Sedge which continue to spread across this area -
see left side photo below. There are also many spikes
of Divided Sedge - the earliest I have ever
recorded them on the meadow. The silvery leaves of
Silverweed continue to develop, though the
flowers will not be out yet.
Walking down the new
path on the east side of the south meadow created by
the flood defence work around the Gooseberry Cottage
garden, I came across several fresh plants of
Wintercress with flower buds not yet open, but
I am not sure what variety of Wintercress.
A couple of Comma
butterflies were chasing each other around the
Lumley area. I managed to get a quick shot of one,
showing its distinctive 'comma' on the underwing. I
also spotted this 7-spot Ladybird sunning
Mike Wells had
a wander around the Staunton Park lake this morning
and saw two Blue Tits enthusing about a hole in a
tree, when suddenly his attention was drawn to the
'neighbour' about eight feet further up the same tree,
a very active male Great Spotted Woodpecker! Oh dear.
I don't hold out much hope for the Tits.
spent a profitable day with his camera at the
Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve. He sent a selection of
images from which I have chosen the following.
The Orange Tip
butterfly is the first I have heard about locally. The
Bee-fly is identified from its long proboscis
which it uses to suck nectar in spring. The Wren
singing I could not resist. What a voice to rival
the great Caruso! The Grass-snake is probably a
first for this blog.
MARCH 29 - 2017
hours after his last report and Peter Milinets-Raby
was back down at Langstone Mill Pond from 9:05am to
10:02am. It was wet.
The highlight was a flock of 43 Bar-tailed Godwit
that flew in from Langstone direction and landed
on the shore where 2 others were feeding amongst 87
Other birds of note were: Just one Brent Goose could
be found, 11 Teal, 2 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//-), 8
Shelduck, 8+ Med Gull, 5 Grey Plover, 2 Lesser
Off Conigar Point in the distance were 2 Red Breasted
Mergansers, 1 Shelduck and 2 Grey Plover.
On the flooded horse paddock were just 4 Teal.
On Langstone Mill Pond: Cetti's Warbler singing again
along with Chiffchaff. Only 3 Little Egrets this
morning, all in the Holm Oak, standing by old
Below is Peter's revised Grey Heron colony photo.
He explains "This has been revised after checking old
photos from 2015 and realising that I have numbered
the nests wrong as currently nest 6 does not exist any
more, the last few sticks being taken by an adult from
nest 1. The view point is from the bench, just along
from the bridge, as from this vantage point all the
nests can be seen a little better. Sorry for any
So the correct state
of play is as follows: There are 8 nests with breeding
birds, plus one with a male displaying and one nest
(No. 6) has almost disappeared by thieving
Nest 1: No
young? Yesterday there were two juveniles flying
around. Not present today. This pair were on their
nest, bringing in sticks and looking very lovey dovey
again as if they are going to attempt a second brood.
I observed two young on this nest on 13th
Nest 2: Adult
standing guard on nest
Nest 3: Three
young in this nest - quite old, constantly begging for
food - will be leaving soon.
Nest 4: Three
young in this nest up in the other Holm
Movement of at least one tiny chick noted - more
Impossible to see any more, as only a few sticks of
the construction are left. Last season, this nest was
built up late, so maybe the owners have still to
Nest 7: Adult
sitting tight on nest.
Nest 8: Adults
swapping over quite regularly. This nest is only
visible from the paddock gate and is difficult to
observe. Probably has young.
Nest 9: Adult
sitting on this nest. Seen mating
Nest 10: As can
be seen from the photo, the adult male is still there
displaying. No female has shown an interest, though to
be honest, there appears to be no spare birds
(who used to walk with Malcolm Phillips at Brook
Meadow) responded to the recent report from Kate
L'Amie of a Red Kite over the Emsworth Channel last
Saturday. Neal saw what was probably the same Red Kite
heading North over Portsdown Hill late on Sunday
morning. Neal thinks the Kite might be a local
resident flying this route regularly. So, we need to
keep looking up. Please let me know of any other Red
Kite sightings. Here is one of Neal's excellent images
of the Portsdown Hill Red Kite. What a cracking bird!
MARCH 28 - 2017
e-mailed me to say she saw the Water Rail just
north of the old gas holder site on the west bank of
the river this morning. This was the 10th sighting of
what is probably the same bird this winter period. On
the basis of previous years, it is likely to leave the
site very soon. Pam's may well be our last sighting.
Here is the only decent photo we have got of this
bird, taken by Brian Lawrence in February.
I heard my first
Blackcap song of the year in Palmer's Road Copse
on Brook Meadow this morning. This was two days
earlier than last year but generally about average for
timing. Here is a photo of a male singing taken by
Richard Somers Cocks several years ago.
The old NRA
track on North Thorney is a good spot for early
migrants, so I had a walk along there this morning. I
heard another Blackcap singing along with two
Chiffchaffs. So it looks as if there has been a
general arrival of Blackcaps. There was nothing else
of interest apart from the regular Cetti's Warbler
belting out its song - unseen as usual.
The old Marina Farm stables are in a bad state and I
hope the Swallows manage to find their way here as
usual for nesting. A new fence has been erected which
indicates some sort of ownership. There is a nice
flowering of Alexanders along Thornham Lane.
I checked the
Mute Swan nest on Peter Pond twice today. On my first
visit this morning, the nest was occupied by a pair of
Mallards. There were no eggs in the nest. The swan
pair was on Slipper Millpond. Can you spot the female
Mallard in the photo?
On my second visit in
early afternoon, both swans were busily building up
the nest which is good to see as the nest is low and
could be swamped by a high tide.
A Grey Heron
was standing proudly on the raft in the centre of the
briefly at Marlpit Lane on my way to Ashling Wood, not
to hear Nightingales, which will not be here for
another 3 weeks or so, even if they come at all. As
noted before in this blog, there an awful lot of
digging activity on the old gravel pit site to the
east of the lane. A notice says 'Ecological Area'
whatever that means and areas are taped off. I gather
from Roy Ewing that the area is being restored to
grazing land, though that is a long way off.
I saw my first
Ground-ivy flowering along the public footpath.
This is the
woodland that I always target for early Bluebells and
I was not disappointed. Many flowers are now open,
with lots more to come, mingled in with the abundant
Wood Anemones. The Bluebells should be at their best
in a couple of weeks. This is about the right time,
though last year they were in flower on March 18 which
is very early.
Where have the Rooks
gone? The first thing I noticed when I entered the
woodland was the total absence of any Rookery! In past
years I was always greeted with a cacophony of harsh
calls of the Rooks tending their nests, but today all
was silence. There are usually around 20 nests in the
trees by the entrance to the public footpath from the
road. I realise it is not unusual for Rooks to
relocate their nesting colonies, but this one has been
here since, at least, 2007.
I took the single
track back road towards Funtington to check the
embankment outside the entrance to Bowhill House for
Hairy Wood-rush (Luzula pilosa).
Grid Ref: SU 81625 08923. There were several spikes. I
also noted the usual Early Dog-violets.
When I got
home I found a pair of Stock Doves feeding happily on
the grass in the back garden along with 4 Collared
Doves and two Blackbirds. After several years of
absence, Stock Doves are becoming fairly regular
visitors to our garden in central Emsworth.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this morning
just as the cloud started to move in and cover the
early morning sunshine 9am to 10:20am. The highlights
were as follows:
Mill Pond: Mute Swan on nest. The nest is
surrounded by loads of down feathers, recently
plucked, so she has probably started to lay eggs.
Cetti's Warbler singing several times and moving
around a bit, so probably a new arrival. It may stay.
Chiffchaff singing. 17 Teal,
Swallow flew over - the earliest I've had for this
piece of coast.
Little Egrets. Up to mischief, pinching sticks from
Grey Herons nests, displaying to one another, flying
around and croaking. I think this is the start of
their breeding season. At least 6 birds were active on
the "island" and in the Holm Oak.
Nest 1: Two adults. I think the young were flying
around - two juvs seen flying around and causing
Nest 2: Adult bird stood by this nest.
Nest 3: Two old young, nearly ready to depart
Nest 4: Three young with change over observed from the
adults and lots of begging as the adult regurgitated
goldfish from my pond!
5: Probably young in this nest - adult very
Nest 6: Looks empty
Nest 7: Adult pair mating
Nest 8: Hard to see this nest, but watched adults swap
over - probably young in this one.
Nest 9: Empty
Nest 10: Gorgeous plumaged adult displaying on this
nest. Photo shows blue cere around eye, blushed red
base to bill, blushed red legs, beautiful twinkling
silver streaks on the grey mantle.
was an extra Grey Heron at the top of the Holm Oak
prospecting! Watch this space?
At 9:40am, high over the pond, heading north east, I
had a male Hen Harrier.
horse paddock: 9 Moorhen, 8 Teal, 2 Pied Wagtail,
1 Green Woodpecker,
Off shore: 6 to 17+ Med Gulls constantly over, 1
Greenshank, 10 Teal, 16 Brent Geese, 123 Black-tailed
Godwit (see photo), 10 Red Breasted Merganser, 12
took an early walk along the shore near the Hayling
Ferry this morning.
was just before high tide and the water was ripping
through the inlet . Quite scary. The gorse around the
golf course is magnificent now and full of bumble
bees. The short turf around the tees was covered in
funnel webs still glistening in the morning mist. The
only birds on the shore were a group of Sanderling
running through the waves like tiny clockwork toys.
picked some young leaves of the Seakale growing along
the shingle, which was added as a vegetable with
dinner. It tastes like a strong cabbage but has an
unpleasant bitter aftertaste. I wouldn't recommend it.
Otherwise it was beautiful day."
sent the following excellent photo of the lone male
Gadwall which has returned to Baffins Pond and is
showing well. Gosh, what a beautiful bird.
MARCH 27 - 2017
is the Redshank looking quite
I went over to
Nore Barn by 10am with about 2 hours to high water. A
beautiful spring morning. The stream was filling up.
The regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) and
a Common Redshank were feeding in the stream,
but no sign of the Spotted Redshank which has almost
certainly left for its breeding grounds in Northern
I had a walk along the
shore. The channel to the south of the woods was
largely empty except for about 20 Teal and 4 Brent
Geese. There is a fine display of Blackthorn
blossom on the bushes along the shore south of the
Oak leaves are
sprouting in the woods. I have not seen Ash leaves, so
this must be a good sign for summer?
Two Chiffchaffs were
singing in the woods, but no Blackcaps as yet.
I spotted a few Lords and Ladies spathes
emerging from among the lush leaves, but none as yet
open to reveal the spadix.
Also, Early Dog-violets (?) are also showing
well in the woods.
Scurvygrass is now in full flower on the
saltmarshes to the west of the stream at Nore Barn.
Ralph Hollins also had
his first sighting of English Scurvygrass yesterday at
the edge of The Kench on Hayling Island.
English Scurvygrass is
a native plant belonging to the family Brassicaceae.
As the name might suggest, it rich in Vitamin C, a
deficiency of which causes the condition known as
'Scurvy'. It is also known as Spoonwort due to the
shape of its lower leaves. It can be eaten in salads
though, not surprisingly, it is quite salty. For more
information on this plant see . . . http://www.wildflowersofireland.net/plant_detail.php?id_flower=354&wildflower=Scurvygrass
has had some interesting wildlife sightings from his
little garden in the centre of Emsworth. On the bird
front, David has four young Robins bouncing around
from a nest in his ivy and Blue Tits nest-building in
a box with camera high on the back wall. He has seen a
Buzzard flying over, mewing as it headed towards Brook
Meadow, plus Med gulls calling overhead.
As for insects, David has had Peacock, Brimstone and
Red Admiral in the past few spring like days, plus a
bumble bee with an off-white rear and Wasps. I have
seen several of Bumblebees bumbling around; they are
most likely Queens looking for suitable nesting
Evans had a walk down to Langstone and back this
morning between 11 and 12.45. Tide was high. Here are
the flooded horse paddock there were circa 40 Teal. On
the pond were 10/12 Teal but only 2 Gadwall (1m/1f),
as far as I could see. In the trees at the back there
were 9 Grey Herons and 6 Little Egrets, with another
Heron spotted at the water's edge as I continued round
the pond. By The Royal Oak were 2 Mute Swans and there
were 24 Brent Geese between The Royal Oak and The
As I crossed the Hayling Road, 3 Mute Swans flew over
and headed towards Northney Marina. In Langstone
Harbour there was a single Mute Swan but it was
quickly joined by another 4.
down to the sea wall from the end of Mill Lane there
was flock of about 40 Starlings in bushes to the west
of the path and 9 Little Egrets hunkered down by the
small stream that runs across Southmoor and joins the
tidal part of Langbrook Stream. Offshore there were
30+ Wigeon, with some Red Breasted Mergansers mixed in
with those that were a bit further out. Difficult to
pick them out when looking into the glare of the sun.
Walking back there was a Buzzard riding the thermals
above West Mill and probably the same bird visible as
I walked back home up the Hayling Billy
Trust for Ornithology reports it has been a good
winter for seeing thrushes. Redwings were seen in 4%
more gardens this January compared to 2016 and Song
Thrushes were recorded in more gardens in December
than they had been for the last five years It was also
a good year to see Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes. The
wealth of thrushes in gardens could be due to a lack
of food in the wider countryside, with birds coming
into gardens to find berries and fallen fruit.
New research led by
The University of Exeter, in collaboration with the
BTO, has found that watching birds near your home
could be good for mental health. People living in
neighbourhoods where there were more birds about in
the afternoon, as opposed to early mornings, reported
lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression. See .
. . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-4SW20-3UEDCR-2JY6ZE-0/c.aspx
The first Cuckoo of
the year was reported on 16 March in West Sussex.
Meanwhile the seven satellite-tagged Cuckoos are on
their way home, with four of them currently in West
Africa, feeding up and resting before they make their
desert crossings. You can track their progress online
at . . . http://bto-enews.org/NXK-4SW20-3UEDCR-2JY6ZF-0/c.aspx
MARCH 26 - 2017
It was a fine
spring morning with a slight chill in the air, for a
walk around my local patch. I went through Brook
Meadow where I heard two Chiffchaffs singing, but no
Blackcaps as yet. Despite the warm weather I only saw
one Peacock butterfly.
Field Horsetail stems with cones at the top are
now out both in the orchid area and on the Lumley
I could not find any
brown spikelets on the Greater Pond Sedge, but they
should be coming soon. Lots of fresh growth on the
Lumley area, including Silverweed, Common
Comfrey and Sharp-flowered Rush.
Mute Swan was snuggled down on her nest on the
Peter Pond island and has probably started laying. We
need to keep a look out for eggs.
The north raft
on Slipper Millpond has become a popular roosting spot
for Black-headed Gulls. There is no sign of any Coot
nesting in the box. The resident Coot pair were on the
water nearby. The nest box on the south raft is
also unoccupied from what I could see, though the
southern Coot pair was on the water.
Black-backed Gulls were both on the centre raft,
but there is no sign of any nesting activity.
Fresh leaves of
Hemlock are now showing well on the eastern
side of Slipper Millpond.
nest on millpond
There is no
substantial change to the swan nest near the bridge on
the town millpond. It is just above water level, but
vulnerable. The swans were not present.
Kite over Emsworth
saw a Red Kite soaring over the Emsworth Channel
yesterday morning. It struck her as rather unusual to
see one so far south, and also apparently searching
for food over the sea. Kate did a little googling and
it seems that Red Kites have been known to pick up
fish from waterways, though she didn't see it dive.
Red Kites do seem to
be spreading slowly in our direction and we get the
occasional sighting over Emsworth. All the more reason
to remember to look up to the sky from time to time!
Mrs Salter saw one flying north across North Emsworth
on Feb 6 last year. Here is a nice shot that Tony
Wootton got of a Red Kite in flight near Arundel, on
Feb 24 last year. On that occasion Tony saw a dozen
Red Kites and 6 Buzzards.
MARCH 25 - 2017
identification of the mystery worm that Barry
Kingsmith found in his garden recently as a common
Earthworm, Ralph Hollins stressed that my conclusion
that the mystery was now solved is somewhat
Ralph says ".
. . there are some 27 species of earthworm, as
distinct from marine worms, to be found in the UK and
a website that should help with their identification
is at . . . https://www.opalexplorenature.org/earthwormguide
- use the link to Less Common Earthworms to complete
your search. This also has a link to the New Zealand
Flatworm which Michael Prior found at Stansted in
February. No doubt there are other exotic species in
the UK. When you have named the species you will be
entitled to say that the problem is
Thanks and point taken, Ralph.
photo of a Black Swan nesting at Chichester Marina
taken by Roy Hay on Mar 17, Ralph says this is almost
certainly of a lone female which has been there
without a mate for over a year. She nested there last
year but her infertile eggs were eventually
After 49 years and 8 months living in the same house
in Havant Ralph Hollins has moved into a flat near St
Mary's church on Hayling Island from where he will be
able to start his personal natural history of the
island . For his first entries after the move see his
wildlife diary at . . . http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm
thought we might be interested to see this photo he
got of some of a group of 25 Eider Ducks in the sea
off Titchfield Haven yesterday. Yes, that's a great
Derek also got this
fine image of a Snipe which had just dug up a
reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife
Group. 11 had a lovely Spring walk this morning. Just
occasional blasts of a Northerly wind reminded us that
Winter hasn't quite gone yet.
We saw butchers broom,
ivy leaved speedwell, Alexanders, primrose, celandine,
and more coltsfolt than anyone can remember anytime
anywhere. Here are just some of them snapped by
Both male and female
brimstones and 2 commas (does that make a full stop).
Numerous bees and a common lizard.
mallard, moorhen, sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrels
gave us a courting display. Stock dove, green
woodpecker, GS woodpecker, skylark, meadow pipit,
wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, heard cetti's and
blackcap. Dartford warbler, chiffchaff, long tailed
tit, blue tit, great tit, treecreeper, jay, magpie,
carrion crow, greenfinch.
more details about the Havant Wildlife Group walks go
to . .
MARCH 24 - 2017
I had a couple
of replies to my tentative suggestion that the 'worm'
that Barry Kingsmith photographed in his garden near
the Nore Barn stream yesterday was a Lugworm. Both
strongly insist it is not a Lugworm, but an Earthworm.
Just goes to show how much I know about these lowly
creatures, which, incidentally, Charles Darwin
treasured so highly.
Mike Wells says, "I've
dug thousands of Lugworms in my younger, fitter days,
as well as Harbour Ragworm and King Ragworm. I take it
that it was seen where the stream is still fresh
water, where marine worms would not survive. It
certainly looks like a large common Earthworm. If it
had been injured, the open end could look like a
mouth. Possibly a predator could have picked it up and
dropped it in the stream."
Chris Oakley agrees that it is certainly not a Lugworm
which is only found in shore mud or sand and is
completely different in appearance. Chris agrees the
worm is a standard Earthworm which has probably been
living under leaves instead of beneath the soil, hence
the flat appearance. The black 'mouth' is part of the
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon from 1:45pm to 2:45pm - very low tide.
Grey Heron colony
Peter sends a photo of the Grey Heron colony trees
at the pond and with the aid of phone technology he
has scribbled the nest locations. The numbers relate
to the order they were found, 'that's why the numbers
are all over the place'.
1: Top of the Holm Oak
- best viewable from the gate by the horse paddock -
2: No movement, not
visible, so status uncertain
3: Obscured behind
lots of vegetation, just visible, only because there
are three large young o the nest
4: Top of the other
Holm Oak. Adult sitting and standing, suggesting very
small chicks - not visible yet
5: Adult sitting and
standing - movement of tiny chick noted
6: Doesn't appear to
be occupied yet - adults can sit surprisingly low in
7:: Adult sitting very
low in nest
8: The rear of Holm
Oak and only viewable from paddock gate - adult
sitting and standing - there must be young in
9: Appears to be
10: An adult started
building this a week ago, but now seems to have
abandoned it. This is behaviour I have noted before,
so I expect this nest to be occupied soon
Other birds of note
were as follows:
Walked in via Wade Lane: 2 Med Gulls over, 1 male
Kestrel, 2 Stock Doves.
Horse paddock: JUST 34
Teal, 7 Moorhen, No Wigeon. This looks like it, all
the wildfowl have nearly gone! Chiffchaff singing,
Green Woodpecker heard.
Off shore: Virtually
empty. 20 Black-tailed Godwits, 2+ Little Egrets
(where the 20 disappeared to, from last week I do not
know). 11 Red Breasted Merganser, 4+ Med Gulls, 4 Grey
Plover, 26 Brent Geese, 2 Shelduck, 1 Teal, 2 Common
Langstone Mill Pond:
20 Teal, Chiffchaff singing, 5 Meadow Pipit
MARCH 22 - 2017
Kingsmith spotted this worm in Nore Barn Stream, at
the end of his garden in Maisemore Gardens. It is
about 8" long, moves slowly, has a mouthpiece that is
It looks like a
standard Lugworm to me though I really know little
about these creatures. Can anyone help?
took another photo of the Mistle Thrush he saw at
Langstone yesterday, this time carrying a beak full of
nesting material. That's a good sign for a bird that
has become increasingly scarce over recent times.
on South Downs
French requests help to protect breeding Lapwings on
the South Downs.
the help of volunteer surveyors and the South Downs
National Park, the RSPB is monitoring Lapwings on the
South Downs. The aim is to find out how many chicks
are fledging each year, and which factors might be
affecting fledging success at each site. This
information will help the RSPB give appropriate
management advice when working with local landowners,
with the aim of improving fledging success for this
declining species. If you come across breeding
lapwings on the South Downs it would be helpful if you
would let me know so that we have an opportunity to
Here is a shot of
what might have been a breeding Lapwing on Thorney
Island in 2007
encourage birders to always report sightings of
Lapwings during the breeding season through whichever
recording method you normally use - BirdTrack, Going
Birding or directly to the Country Recorder. Please
include a 6-figure grid reference, breeding status
and, if possible, some brief habitat notes.
details are as follows: Caroline French,
Conservation Monitoring Officer.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mob: 07736 722208
Office: 01273 775333
MARCH 21 - 2017
through the meadow this morning on my way to check the
swan's nest on Peter Pond. The weather was bright and
sunny, though there was a deceptively strong and cool
March wind from the west. I noted both White
Dead-nettle and Red Dead-nettle in flower
on the main path by the river. These plants are called
Dead-nettles as, unlike Common Nettles, the leaves do
not sting. Both Dead-nettles are ancient introductions
to Britain, but are now so common and widespread as to
be classified as native.
A Red Admiral
was fluttering around in the vegetation in Palmer's
The path behind
Lillywhite's Garage is covered with a wonderful canopy
of Blackthorn blossom.
I spotted a good
flowering of Ivy-leaved Speedwell on the
pavement of Bridge Road near Beech hedge around the
car park - my first of the year. This is another
ancient introduction which is now widespread and
Brian Lawrence had a
couple of hours on the meadow today. He noticed the
large Ash on the north east of the meadow is
flowering. The flowers, which come before the leaves,
are petalless with tufts of purplish stamens. Many
trees have both sexes, but on different branches.
These look like female flowers with stalks bearing
nesting on Peter Pond
The pen Mute
Swan was sitting on her new nest on the island on
Peter Pond with her mate nearby. It remains to be seen
if the nest is high enough to avoid being swamped by
the high tides. The last nesting on this island was in
2013. Since then the swans have nested in the reedbeds
on Slipper Millpond. However, the individual swans
have changed since the last Peter Pond nesting.
Brian Lawrence also
saw the swan on her nest and got a nice close-up
Meanwhile, all was
quiet on Slipper Millpond. So far, the Coots have
taken no interest in the new nest box on the north
raft. The Great Black-backed Gulls were not present.
I went over to
Nore Barn at 14.30 with high tide about 2 hours away
mainly to check on the Spotted Redshank. The water was
still fairly low when I arrived with only 6 Brent
Geese, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and a few
Oystercatchers feeding in the channels. I had a walk
along the south path to wait for the tide. I found 26
Teal in the channel south of the woods along with the
regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL).
I returned to
the stream at about 15:15 where I found a Common
Redshank and two Oystercatchers feeding there, but no
Spotted Redshank. The Redshank has caught a small crab
in the photo.
The last sighting of
the Spotted Redshank was by Peter Milinets-Raby on Mar
16, so I have to assume the bird has probably left our
area and is now on its way to its breeding grounds in
Northern Scandinavia. Our last sighting in 2016 was on
this day - Mar 21. I will continue to check, but my
gut instinct is that it has gone. Maybe it will return
yet again in October for its 14th winter with us in
the history of this remarkable bird go to
. . .
Redshanks at Nore Barn
Mike Wells was
at the Langstone 'Horse Paddock' this morning and
photographed a thrush but was unsure which one it was,
Song or Mistle. Mike got two shots of the bird which
is undoubtedly a Mistle Thrush. Mistle Thrush is a
larger sturdier bird than the more delicate Song
Thrush. It has a harder look about it than the softer
Song Thrush. On plumage, Mistle Thrush has colder,
greyer, upperparts and head and underparts with
heavier more rounded spots than Song Thrush.
Here is a Song Thrush
in full voice for comparison
Milinets-Raby had a surprise today when he looked in
the pond. The floating mat of vegetation was covered
in tiny tadpoles looking as if they have only hatched
a few days ago. So, it seems that what was observed
last week was a feeding frenzy of baby newts on frog
spawn and possibly on baby tadpoles. Why just baby
newts? See Blog for Mar 15. Those newts are nowhere to
be seen, probably going down into the depths of the
pond. What remained of the frog spawn (hidden in the
floating vegetation, so not easily seen) produced
tadpoles today. Very fascinating stuff. But, why just
baby newts were involved in the feeding frenzy.
MARCH 20 - 2017
I was very
pleased to find what looks like Early Dog-violet in
flower on the western edge of Lumley Road by the
stream. Narrower petals straight dark violet spur, not
notched. As this area is within the Brook Meadow site
the plant can go down as a first on our plant list.
I found some
fresh growth of Greater Celandine leaves at the start
of the path from Lumley Mill to Seagull Lane. This is
a regular spot for this delightful plant with very
delicate yellow flowers. It resembles the far more
common Lesser Celandine, but the two are botanically
unrelated. The only other place for Greater Celandine
in Emsworth that I know of is the garden of a house at
the top of Queen Street where it meets King Street.
Greater Celandine was introduced into Britain in Roman
times and was once cultivated as a medicinal plant.
I could see
the fairly substantial swan's nest on the island on
Peter Pond that David Gattrell mentioned to me
yesterday. However, it is on a low part of the island
which always gets flooded at high water. The nest is
built up, but is it high enough? The same question
applies to the new swan's nest near the bridge on the
town millpond. We shall just have to see how things
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond on a rather
wet morning. Walking in via Wade Lane 9:06am to
10:45am. The highlights were as follows:
Wade Lane: 11 Little Egrets feeding in the churned up
pony paddock, 1 Kestrel.
Flooded Horse paddock: 3 more Little Egrets - None on
the pond today! 2 Grey Heron. 13 Wigeon - numbers
dropping on every visit, 23 Teal - The 120+ seen five
days ago, seem to have departed, 2 Chiffchaff singing,
1 Curlew, 7 Moorhen, 2 Med Gulls over, 2 Stock
off shore: 10 Red Breasted Mergansers, 13 Dunlin, 11
Teal, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 45 Brent
Geese - numbers beginning to drop - in fact the
channel looked rather empty of waders today with only
3+ Redshank, 5+ Curlew and 20+ Oystercatchers. 3
Greenshank (ringed bird G//R + BRtag//-). 4 Med Gulls,
63 Black-tailed Godwits - I note from previous years,
the months of March and April have little influxes. 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Common Gull.
Langstone Mill Pond: The top Holm Oak Grey Heron nest
contains 3 young. The nest below the other Holm oak
and obscured badly by vegetation has three very grown
up young (so easily overlooked this nest). The nest
slightly left and below this nest has tiny young
(watched adult regurgitate food and saw a very tiny
head move). I will update a colony photo for the next
post and number all the nests.
Also on the pond were Chiffchaff, 3 Teal and the Mute
Swan pair (female on nest, but when she stepped off
for a moment there was no sign of any eggs just
MARCH 19 - 2017
Jean and I had
a very breezy walk down to The Deck for coffee via
Brook Meadow and Slipper Millpond. We met David
Gattrell and Dan Mortimer on Lumley Road. David told
us that the swans had started nest building on the
Peter Pond island. I shall have to keep an eye on how
it develops. For the last three years the pair have
nested in the reeds on the east side of Slipper
Over on Slipper Millpond, I noticed that a new nest
box had been installed on the north raft since I
was last here. The box and what looks like bags of
nesting material should help the Coots nesting.
Black-backed Gull pair was on the centre raft as
usual, but no sign of any nest as yet.
A Coot was
peeping out of the nest box on the south raft which
probably means they are nesting there. Meanwhile, a
pair of Cormorants came onto the raft to dry
Emsworth Harbour was
largely deserted, but for a scattering of Brent Geese.
The town millpond was also largely empty, though we
did notice a grey-headed Cormorant fishing
The swan nest near
the bridge has had some work done to it since I
was last here, though there was no sign of the
builders. The nest is largely constructed from twigs
with a few bits and pieces of litter material mixed
in. It still needs to go higher to avoid being swamped
by the high tides.
MARCH 17 - 2017
The Mute Swan
pair have been working on their nest again near the
bridge on the town millpond. The nest is built up to
just above the water level, but really needs to go
higher to avoid being swamped. No sign of any eggs.
The swans were not present.
delighted to hear my first Chiffchaff of the year on
this morning's walk through Brook Meadow, singing
strongly from a tree on the north path. This was
almost certainly an early migrant. This was 4 days
earlier than last year, though exactly the same date
as in 2015. Here is my shot of the 2015 Chiffchaff
singing in the flowering cherry plum tree.
The only other bird of
interest was a Green Woodpecker calling from the
I had another
look at the cluster of fungi that we found yesterday
growing on wood chippings on the Seagull Lane patch.
The caps have a distinctive radial cracking from the
centre of the cap. Some are going dark and the gills
and spores are almost black. But they are not
dissolving, so they certainly are not Ink Caps as I
I met Dan Mortimer who
is keen on fungi and is anxious to identify these
fungi. Dan took a few home with him for further study.
He emailed me later to say he thought they were
Hora Cap (Panaeolus rickenii).
That sounds like a good ID to me.
Butterbur flower spikes were showing so well in the
area below the seat, and with the surrounding
vegetation growing fast, I decided to carry out the
annual count this morning. The flower spurs are in
their prime and looking splendid.
This was a bit earlier
than I usually do the count, but I felt I could not
leave it any longer. As usual, to facilitate counting,
I divided the area on the meadow below the seat into
12 sections using dead stems to mark out each
The total number of spikes counted in the area of the
meadow in front of the seat came to 561 which is
slightly up on the 530 counted in 2016, but well below
the totals of the 3 previous years; 728, 630 and
Much as in the previous 3 years, there were very few
flower spikes in the other Butterbur areas; only 20 on
the river bank, 12 on the south meadow and 16 at the
east end of the causeway. The grand total came to 609,
which was similar to last year's 589, but well below
the previous 3 years of 792, 824 and 1,150 which was
the record count in 2013.
However, looking further back as shown in the chart,
Butterbur numbers remain high compared with those in
the early years of 1999 to 2010.
Overall, the pattern
has not changed from last year with over 90% of the
Butterbur spikes now to be found on the area of the
meadow in front of the seat. The rise in Butterbur in
this area and the fall in the other areas has taken
place mainly since 2010 when only 50% of the plants
were in the area below the seat. As to why this
migration has taken place, my guess it must have
something to do with the increasingly overgrown
habitat on the river bank and in the south meadow
where Butterbur used to flourish and the open area
where they now grow so well.
This shows the
main Butterbur area looking north from the seat
Roy Hay sent
me the following photo he took yesterday of a Black
Swan nesting in the canal adjacent to the Chichester
MARCH 16 - 2017
There was a
good turn out of volunteers for this morning's work
session on Brook Meadow. It was led by Maurice Lillie
who went through the various tasks for the day. Here
are the volunteers taking a coffee break.
The tasks included to
continue removing branches from the fallen Crack
Willow on the north meadow, clearing Ivy from the two
bridges (which are due for repair) and cutting up and
moving small branches and twigs for chipping. Wally
used the power scythe to clear certain areas of
the full workday report and more photos go
to . . .
I was interested to see a very noisy gathering of
about 20 Carrion Crows in one of the tall trees
in the garden of Constant Springs just north of the
railway line. I don't recall having seen this number
of Crows from the meadow site before. What were they
The Osiers on
the east side of the north meadow now have fully open
catkins and look beautiful. The Summer
Snowflake is flowering as usual on the Seagull
Dan pointed out
a patch of fungi growing among the wood chippings near
the tool store. I am not sure what they are, but they
look like a crumble cap or maybe an ink cap?
Milinets-Raby walked the whole area today from
Emsworth to Langstone and had the pleasure of bumping
into Kate L'Amie - the lady who reported two Jack
Snipe at Warblington earlier this month. Here is
from 9:05am - tide low at this point, 2 Brent Geese, 1
Wigeon, 4 Teal.
(east): 194 Brent Geese, 12 Canada Geese, 53 Med
Gulls with 200+ Black-headed Gulls on the mud with 4
flying over - very noisy with Med Gull calls! 1
Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 8 Grey Plover, 27 Teal, 4
Coot with 7 on the Millpond. Also on the Millpond were
2 Cormorants and 2 Little Grebes. 13 Shelduck, 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Wigeon.
Nore Barn from
10am. 2 male and 6 female Pintail, 16 Teal, 7
Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Med Gulls, 1 Spotted Redshank,
39 Brent Geese, 2 Wigeon, 1 Little Egret, 1 Common
from 10:18am: 2 Stock Dove, 2 Med Gulls over.
Ibis Field: 2
Canada Geese flew over and landed in the field south
of the cemetery - looking for somewhere to nest? 1
Chiffchaff singing (heard), 2 Moorhen, Cetti's Warbler
heard singing the once! Green Woodpecker laughing.
Conigar: 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Skylark in
the big field.
1 un-ringed Greenshank, 34 Brent Geese, 8 Teal, 2 Grey
Plover, 3 Dunlin, 1 Little Egret, 4 Lesser
Black-backed Gull (2 pairs), 1 Wigeon, 1 Red Breasted
Off Pook Lane:
No Snipe in the SSSI Orchid field after a clumsy
clapping hands walk around, 5 Grey Plover, 108 Brent
Geese, 89 Teal, 7 Shelduck, 1 Dunlin, 6 Red breasted
Merganser, 34 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Med Gull, Female
Pond Pintail, 11 Common Gull, 2 Stock Doves.
Wade Lane from
11:24am: 3 Med Gulls over, 2 Buzzard soaring around, 4
Song Thrush and 1 Mistle Thrush in the pony field, 3
Stock Dove, 2 male Pheasant.
paddock: 10 Teal, 31 Wigeon, Chiffchaff singing, 1
Little Egret, 1 Green Sandpiper, 6 Moorhen.
Pond: Grey Heron colony as it was last visit (7
occupied nests - some young). Chiffchaff heard
singing. 21 Little Egrets roosting - this is generally
early - maybe the nice weather has tempted them in?
Mute Swan female standing over nest in reed bed and
sitting (no eggs noted). Male chasing everything as
Nore Barn from
12:40pm to 1:05pm - tide in: Spotted Redshank showed
obligingly to the camera - down to 8 metres! See
photos and video link, 3 Sandwich Tern on the buoys (2
adult summer and 1 winter bird).
Peter Milinets-Raby's photo of newts in last night's
blog, Ralph Hollins thought the they could be feeding
on baby tadpoles which is normal behaviour for newts,
except that they are normally seen doing so at night
by shining a torch into the pond. See . . .
Ralph wonders if this
very shallow and shelter less pond might have
influenced their behaviour? Is there nowhere for the
adult and young Newts/Frogs to hide away during the
day? Ralph gives the following link to a You Tube
video of a Newt eating a tadpole . . .
Peter's Newts also
prompted a response from Steve Hooper who saw
something very similar many years ago when he lived in
a very mild autumn, the newts in our pond (mostly
Great Crested newts, with a few Smooth newts to make
up the numbers) were still laying eggs in early
October, and quite a few baby newts (less than half an
inch long) were still visible in the pond when the
winter weather really set in.
I thought no more about them at the time, fully
expecting that the ice would kill them off, but the
next spring - one sunny morning around the end of
March, as I recall - as the remains of the 'jelly'
from the recently-hatched frog spawn was collapsing,
there were at least thirty or forty newts, each about
an inch or so long, feeding on the remnants.
The group were visible for several days until they
gradually dispersed, presumably because they had eaten
what was left from the frog spawn, and I wondered
whether something similar may have happened
MARCH 15 - 2017
On such a fine
spring day it was not surprising that some butterflies
would be about. I had a male Brimstone flying
through the garden this morning - my first of the
year. It did not stop for a photo.
However, a splendid Peacock did rest on a fence
post on the Railway Wayside this afternoon for a quick
snap. Interesting, there is what appears to be a
7-spot Ladybird on the bush to the left of the
butterfly in the photo. I did not notice it at the
Evans was down at Langstone Mill Pond and noticed the
female Mute Swan appeared to be nest building in the
reedbeds. The photo was taken shortly after
Christopher had crossed the little bridge, having
walked round the corner from the pub.
Peter Milinets-Raby checked around the garden and was
very surprised to find in the middle-sized pond a
crèche of tiny baby newts. He did not know they
bred like this. There were two patchiest of young in a
floating nest of about 30 centimetres across. Are they
colonial breeders? Peter assumes they are Palmate
Newts as that is all he ever sees in his Havant garden
Pond. Can anyone help please?
MARCH 14 - 2017
I had a walk from home
to through the streets to Nore Barn and back to
Emsworth village via Western Parade. After a welcome
coffee in the Pastoral Centre I went down to the
Hermitage Millponds and back home through Brook
Meadow. Here are a few bird and flower observations I
made on the way.
The tide was
right in by the time I arrived at Nore Barn at 11.30.
The ever reliable Spotted Redshank was still present
feeding on the edge of the stream, close to the path.
After 13 years this bird never ceases to fascinate and
amaze me. The photo shows the bird with a small
numbers were considerably down on yesterday with only
about 50 present at Nore Barn and far less in the
eastern harbour. There was nothing else around apart
from a few gulls.
Swans gone home
The six Black
Swans which have been resident in Emsworth Harbour
since Jan 27 have not been seen since Mar 11. Well, I
have just heard that they have gone back home to
Riverside Park, Southampton where they were born. M G
Painter reported the arrival of 6 Black Swans at
Riverside Park on Mar 13 on the HOS GoingBirding web
site. Mr Painter notes that the cob of nesting pair
was not happy to see them all arrive. Here is a photo
of them in Emsworth as a reminder. So, goodbye, it was
nice having you.
One of the
Mute Swans resident on the town millpond was in the
harbour near the quay when I passed by this morning,
busily driving off another swan from its territory.
Its mate was still on the pond. I watched the swan
drive its adversary right out into the harbour. There
is no sign of any nest building on the millpond by the
Over on Peter
Pond I found the Mute Swan pair on the island near the
main road with one of the pair indulging in some
preliminary nest building activity. However, the site
being worked on is far too low and would be readily
inundated by the water level at high tide. Any nest
site would have to be on a higher part of the island.
The swans have not actually nested on the Peter Pond
island for a few years, preferring the relative safety
and privacy of the reedbeds on the east side of
The pair of
Great Black-backed Gulls were both ensconced on the
centre raft on Slipper Millpond. As far as I could
see, there has been no nesting activity as yet, but
with both birds present this cannot be too long away.
Now for the
plants . . . .
A very nice Petty
Spurge caught my eye as I walked along Convent
Lane. Its stems of bright red stand out clearly from
the wall it grows against. The pale green flowers have
four crescent-shaped glands with long 'horns'. It
grows almost anywhere where there is disturbed soil,
including pavement cracks. Botanically it is
classified as an archaeophyte, ie an ancient
Very similar is
Dwarf Spurge, though this is an arable weed and
much rarer. One can usually find it growing on the
field behind Conigar Point in late summer. Here is a
photo I took of it on that field a few years ago.
I stopped to admire a fine Laburnum tree in
full blossom in a front garden on Clovelly Road.
Walking along Warblington Road I found Greater
Periwinkle in flower on the edge of the pavement.
Apart from its larger size, it can be distinguished
from Lesser Periwinkle by the line of hairs along the
edges of its leaves.
Also on Warblington Road I spotted my first Garlic
Mustard flowers of the year. Walking back from
Nore Barn along Western Parade I noted my first
Green Alkanet of the year.
Summer Snowflake (Leucojum
aestivum) was also in flower with its hanging
white bells with green spots at the tips of the
petals. Summer Snowflake (which is misnamed as it
flowers in spring) can be distinguished from
Three-cornered Garlic flowering nearby, the
petals of which have thin green lines running down
earlier observations go to . . March