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for September 2017
(in reverse chronological order)

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Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby has had two brief outings to Langstone Mill Pond recently as follows:
Wednesday 27th September:
Noon to 1:38pm - in along Wade Lane: The highlight was a Firecrest in the garden of the house opposite the "castle" (see photo), along with a fairly tame Rabbit (see photo). Also seen were a Goldcrest, a Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff. On the pond were 2 eclipse Shoveler (male and female) and off shore on the mud were 11 Sandwich Tern and 2 Dunlin.

Friday 29th September:
9am to 9:38am - tide going out. The highlight were 2 Green Sandpiper in the partially flooded paddock (see photo). The bird close to the camera was a spotty juvenile, with the second bird being a darker and larger adult. Both birds were flighty and gave good views as they flew around the paddock visiting all the fresh pools of water from last nights heavy rain.

Off shore were 10 Black-tailed Godwits, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, a Dunlin, 178+ Redshank and 6 resting Sandwich Terns. On the pond were 29 Teal (a bit of an increase from the last few days), along with 4 juvenile Tufted Duck, a Chiffchaff and a singing Cetti's Warbler was heard several times.


Autumn flowers
I had a gentle stroll through Brook Meadow and down to Peter Pond on this rather dank and dismal morning with rain constantly in the air. I kept myself occupied by making a list of the flowering plants I came across on the way. Here is the complete list of 46 plants (including 4 grasses) in alphabetical order.
Annual Meadow-grass, Autumn Hawkbit, Bristly Ox-tongue, Broad-leaved Willowherb, Cat's-ear, Cocksfoot, Common Chickweed, Common Comfrey, Common Field Speedwell, Common Fleabane, Common Nettle, Common Reed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy, Dandelion, Dogwood, False Oat-grass, Groundsel, Hairy Tare Gooseberry Cottage path), Hedge Bindweed, Hoary Ragwort, Hogweed, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Large Bindweed, Lesser Stitchwort (Bridge Road car park), Michaelmas Daisies, Nipplewort, Pellitory-of-the-wall (Bridge Road car park), Perennial Sow-thistle, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Toadflax, Red Clover, Red Dead-nettle, Red Valerian, Ribwort Plantain, Russian Vine (Seagull Lane), Shepherd's Purse, Smooth Sow-thistle, Wall Lettuce (Bridge Road car park), Water Bent (Victoria Road), Water Mint (Brook Meadow), Wavy Bitter-cress, White Dead-nettle, Wild Angelica, Wild Carrot, Yarrow.

Here are a few I snapped: Creeping Thistle, Red Clover, Red Dead-nettle, Water Mint

Insects included a couple of Red Admirals on the Michaelmas Daisies on the Lillywhite's patch - here is one of them that I snapped. And a solitary Ladybird (possibly 24-spot).

There were lots of Nursery-web spiders on the nettle leaves, as usual, including this one - surely not taking on a shelled snail?
. . . and a Garden Spider suspended on its web high above Peter Pond. How does it get its web up there?


Emsworth Harbour
It was a superb morning so I set off for the harbour with my scope strapped to the back of my bike. I started at the millpond, where I happened to meet Susan Kelly who was delighted to tell me that her book on the travels of a medieval monk named Willibaum (I think) had been nominated for a literary prize which will enable her to get it published. Well done, Susan. I promise to get a copy!
I had intended to go along Western Parade to Nore Barn, but from the millpond seawall I could see lots of birds on the far side of the harbour, so I decided to make my way over there. The tide was out, but being a neap tide the water was still fairly high.

Got to the marina seawall at 11am with a great view across the harbour to the village

I counted 75 Black-tailed Godwits, 95 Redshank, 7 Greenshank, 9 Oystercatchers, 4 Dunlin, 19 Turnstones, 2 Curlew and 1 Grey Heron. There was no sign of any Brent Geese as yet, though Ralph Hollins has seen them in Langstone Harbour. They always take their time to come into Emsworth Harbour.

Turnstones packed closely together on a red buoy

I did not see any colour-ringed Godwits, but their legs were not always visible
Black-tailed Godwits with Redshanks and Black-headed Gulls

The 7 Greenshank were all in the low water channel near the marina entrance
Here are three of them together.

Five of them were colour-ringed, but I could only read two of the colour rings completely as the others were either standing on one leg with the other tucked up or were partly in water.
G+BL - This is a regular in Emsworth Harbour since 2014. It used to have a geotag, but I could not see one today, so I assume it has been removed for analysis in a recatch of the bird.
RG+BY - I have seen this Greenshank regularly in Emsworth Harbour since 2013 when it was caught at Thorney and fitted with a geolocator to the blue rings. This is probably another case where the tag has been removed for analysis.

This one could be OO+YY which has been seen in Emsworth Harbour over the years
I did not see the other leg

While I was looking at the Greenshank a Kingfisher flew across the channel. Black Medick and Hedgerow Crane's-bill were in flower on the marina seawall. I had my coffee break sitting at one of the two picnic tables on the marina seawall overlooking the harbour eating a chunk of Jean's superb apple cake. Cheers!


Nore Barn
I cycled over to Nore Barn to catch the rising tide this afternoon. The conditions were calm and still, but there was hardly anything about on the bird front. A Common Redshank and a few Black-headed Gulls were present in the stream, but no sign of Spotted Redshank. However, it is still quite early for the regular bird which was not here until 11 Oct last year. The regular Little Egret was also present in the stream feeding in its characteristic manner with the tip of its bill dipped into the water.

The arrival of a second Little Egret caused some consternation and it was quickly chased off by the resident Egret, presumably to protect its feeding territory.

I stopped to have a chat with Nick and a colleague from Norse who were engaged in cutting the grassland in the woods. They had two machines, one for mowing the grassland and the other for collecting and taking away the arisings to a composting site. This was interesting since earlier this month Nick had cut the grassland on Brook Meadow, but the arisings were left on the site. Nick explained that the problem was the difficult access for the truck and trailer through the narrow Lumley gate.

I also chatted to Roy Ewing who had come to have a look at the grass cutting and to mark some shrubs along the north path that were due to be cut by Rachel Bryan of TCV. I asked him to keep a look out for the Spotted Redshank.


Emsworth walk
This afternoon I had a stroll through Brook Meadow down to Slipper Millpond and back via the town millpond. Nothing to note on Brook Meadow, but the large area of Michaelmas Daisies on the Lillywhite's patch, immediately south of the garden of Gooseberry Cottage, is now in flower; these flowers always attract late butterflies, but there were none today.

On Lumley Road, I stopped to chat with workers inserting stakes to reinforce the banks of the small stream that runs into the east side of Peter Pond. Some of them were ex-volunteers from Hollybank Woods, now working in Barton's Copse near the Havant Crematorium, from where the stakes were sourced.

The Mute Swan family with mum and 5 cygnets was on the water near the Hermitage Bridge, but no sign of the cob.

I also did not see the other Mute Swan pair that has been hanging around the area. Sharon, who lives in Slipper Road opposite Slipper Millpond, rang me last night to say she had an adult swan ensconced on the road outside her house, presumably one of the 'intruders' that had been driven off the pond by the resident pair. Sharon had tried to coax the swan into the pond, but it would not budge. I did not hear the outcome of this story.

Deep orange Sea Buckthorn berries are now on the bush at the far end of Slipper Road on the east side of Slipper Millpond.

Slipper Millpond and the town millpond (shown below) are currently covered with large patches of green algae. These are sometimes regarded as pollution, but they are in fact naturally occurring growths at this time of the year and most ponds have such growths. The harbour is also full of it. Strictly speaking, algae are not plants; they can photosynthesise, but they lack true roots, stems or leaves.

Dolphin Lake path
I had a walk along the public footpath on the west side of Dolphin Lake which used to be one of the Emsworth Waysides. The land alongside the path is owned by the Wardle family who used to live in Wharf House at the far end of the lane on King Street. Mr and Mrs Wardle (now deceased) bought the land on the west side of Dolphin Lake to conserve it as a wildlife area and they were delighted to have it included in the Emsworth Waysides scheme.

I was interested to read in the current Newsletter of the Slipper Millpond Preservation Association that in view of the impending development on the old Dolphin Quay site, the two Wardle daughters want to ensure that the strip of land bought by their parents remains a 'public open space' and have offered the land as a gift to the Slipper Millpond Preservation Association. The offer will be formally considered at the next SMPPA AGM on Oct 27th.

Grey Seals
John Arnott, who has provided useful and interesting information about Seals recently in this blog, will be guiding on a Chichester Harbour Conservancy boat trip from Itchenor to look at the Seal haul out on 30th September at 12 noon for 3 hours.
See . . .

John is also giving a presentation about the seals for the Conservancy on 21st October 15.30 to 17.00 at the Hayling Island Lifeboat Station.
See . . .

Booking is essential for both events . . . 01243 513275


Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby had a 'Red Letter Day' down Warblington shore this morning from 7:06am to 9:21am - Low tide and a beautiful sunny morning. Here is Peter's report:

On arrival I could hear a Chiffchaff singing from the cemetery.
I walked down to the shore by Pook Lane and one of the first birds I noticed as I scanned the low tide trickle in the channel was a single Avocet (a good species for the area, with just a few sightings). Seeing this bird put me in good spirits and a small flock of 8 duck drifting in from North Hayling turned out to be Wigeon. They settled down to the east at Conigar Point. Next, a group of 7 Cormorants dropped into the low tide channel and fed as a pack dashing through the shallow water, with lots of splashes etc. On further scans, I added 15 Grey Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Greenshank. Then a Snipe flew over heading east, calling as it did so (another scarce species in the area). Plus 15 Little Egrets and 3 Grey Heron feeding in the "stream"

Migrational movement was obvious all morning with an almost constant stream of Meadow Pipits passing over (I heard 7+ and actually managed to see 7 birds fly over in the blue, cloudless sky). Also observed 2 Pied Wagtails over, along with two heard Yellow Wagtail, 3+ Linnets, 3 House Martin and 11+ Swallows.
Conigar Point held 13 Teal, 2 more Grey Plover, 3 Dunlin and in the splendid blossomed Tamarisk Hedge were at least 3 Chiffchaff.

On the way back to the car, 2 Ravens flew over "kronking" heading west (only the second sighting I have had of this species). So all in all a great morning, but then the icing on the cake occurred when I noted a Wryneck skipping along the coastal path by the main "Kissing Gate". It was heading away from me, very busy nipping into the grass verge of the path and then skipping further away from me. I held my ground, as a dog walker and a jogger were fast approaching the Wryneck and I was intrigued to see what the Wryneck would do? The jogger arrived first and the Wryneck dashed off out over the low tide mud and I thought that was it, but fortunately it curved around and headed back to the path and landed less than 20 feet away from me. Alas, I was looking straight into the sun and cursed the silhouetted photos I had to take! However with a bit of jiggling on Photoshop, the photos are not bad.

The dog walker alas caught me up and flushed the Wryneck into the nearby hedge. I waited 15 minutes before it appeared. It perched on the top of the hedge for a minute or so before flying off across the field into the hedge that leads south of the Warblington cemetery. I hung around for 15 minutes with no further sightings. It could well be in the same area, but the habitat is a bit sparse and not conducive for keeping migrants put. So a wonderful way to finish off a lovely Red Letter Day


More on Grey Seals
Following his comment about the difference between Harbour (Common) Seals and Grey Seals in blog entry for Sep 21, John Arnott provides more information about Grey Seals in the Solent area as follows . . .

"Just four years ago one might expect to see one or two Greys. They've been slowly increasing since then and this August our count was eight, the greatest number so far. They are increasing in their traditional rookeries down the east coast of England and the annual count in the Greater Thames Estuary carried out in August by the Zoological Society of London found a jump from 203 in 2013 to 449 in 2014 with 454 in 2015, while the number of Common seals stayed about the same (482, 489 and 451). The National Trust at Blakeney Point, Norfolk, reckon that Grey seals have reached capacity there.
See . . .

So I suspect that we are seeing the edge of an advancing front of Grey seals into the Solent area from the east, maybe of younger animals. Will they compete with our local population of breeding Common/Harbour seals? Not in these low numbers, though declines in populations of Common seals in Scotland may be due to competition from and even predation by Greys.

There is definitely one female Grey in our area and at least four of the male Greys have been bickering amongst themselves and showing mating interest in her. I've attached a photo from last month's count showing a male Grey Seal (darker with some pale blotches) trying to mount the female Grey Seal (paler with some dark blotches). She wasn't interested though and because the male is about the same size as her I think he is still relatively young. Male (bull) Greys are some 50% bulkier than females when sexually and socially mature - not much longer but with 50% more weight. And yes, he has a small bit of skin scraped off his back.

Grey seal pups are unable to swim for the first three weeks of their lives (there are exceptions) while they are covered with long white fur, so pupping is usually in remote areas such as islands, rocky coves or the 4 mile long shingle spit of Blakeney Point. Neither Chichester Harbour or Langstone Harbour offer such remote and safe locations. If this female does get pregnant she may leave our area to search for a safer pupping spot. But you never know . . ."

Bee-fly correction
Bryan Pinchen says the 'Bee-fly' photo from Romney Turner in the blog for Sep 21 was is actually the hoverfly Myathropa florea, easily told even from the side angle by the pattern of yellow hairs on the thorax. Thanks Bryan.

Medmerry RSPB Reserve
Tony Wootton reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group at Medmerry.
For full report and photos see . . .
Havant Wildlife Group


Nore Barn
I cycled down to Nore Barn by 11am with the tide rising to high water in 2½ hours. It was a lovely morning, a bit bright, but calm. I stayed for about an hour as the tide slowly filled up the stream. Two Common Redshanks were feeding at various times, but no sign of Spotted Redshank. Here is one of the Common Redshanks.

I think the two Spotted Redshank sightings by Anne de Potier and Peter Milinets-Raby a couple of weeks ago was a rogue bird stopping by on passage further south. On the basis of previous first arrival dates I would not expect the regular bird to arrive until the beginning of October.
All previous arrival dates are on the special Spotted Redshank web page at . . .
Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn

I chatted to people passing by, several of whom asked about the Spotted Redshank, if it had arrived, when it was expected, how long it had been coming here and where it comes from. It is indeed a truly famous bird!

The most interesting sighting of the morning was of a small group of 10 or so ducks way out on the edge of the main channel. I did not have my scope, so could not see them clearly, but felt fairly sure they wereTeal which always arrive before Wigeon. They are probably the same group of Teal that Peter Milinets-Raby saw at Conigar Point yesterday - see his report below. Here is a shot of a few of them with my camera on its full 30x zoom.

Warblington shore
Yesterday (Sep 21), Peter Milinets-Raby had a couple of hours free from 9am, so quickly visited the Warblington shore along with Nore Barn before the tide pushed in. His report follows:

"Over the Ibis field, I had a Sparrowhawk, followed by a very mobile Peregrine that flushed all the pigeons and doves, then it headed to the shore where it no doubt flushed everything else, especially as I saw very little when I reached the shore.
Just before reaching the shore by Conigar Point a Hobby flew over, so some great birds of prey to start the outing, but consequently no birds to bee seen!
Conigar Point as expected held just 10 Teal.
And off Pook Lane, very little else, 4 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Greenshank. A pre-roost gathering of 13 Sandwich Terns were on the mud , with a single bird fishing off Conigar Point.
At Nore Barn (from 10:30am for 30 minutes) were 6 Teal, a Shelduck and the usual Greenshank (R//G + GL//-). Also 3 Sandwich Tern were seen - probably coming from Pook Lane, but not certain!


Brook Meadow
I spent most of the morning on Brook Meadow taking photos of the regular 3rd Thursday in the month work session led by Mike Probert. 12 people attended and their main tasks were clearing arisings from the orchid area, which was cut during the previous work session, and trimming branches from a toppling willow near Beryl's seat.

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

Grey Seal
John Arnott writes to say the Seal photo taken by Heather Mills at Farlington Marshes (Sep 18) is of a Grey Seal. John attached a couple of his own photos of a Harbour (or Common) Seal (on the left) and a Grey Seal (on the right) taken on seal counts in Chichester Harbour. They show how the head profile of a Grey Seal is flat topped compared with the Harbour (or Common) Seal which has a concave profile along the top of the head and a proportionately shorter snout. Thank you John.

Here is Heather's original photo

Mystery beetle
Bryan Pinchen confirmed that the beetle photo taken on Brook Meadow by John Tagg was looked good for Chrysolina Banksi.

He has been able to 'key it out' using one of his ID guides based on the features visible in the photo and says there doesn't seem to be a lot else it could be. Bryan added that it is considered widespread and common in SW and Central southern England and Wales, often near the coast where it feeds on the roots of various plants including Ribwort Plantain, Black Horehound and White Dead-nettle. He has seen it on the coast in his area, so is not surprised it's on Brook Meadow. Thank you, Bryan.

Roy Hay got a cracking, if distant, shot of a pair of Kingfishers at Fishbourne Meadows this morning. You can just see the orange colouration on the female's lower mandible on the left and the all black mandible of the male on the right.

Romney's wildlife
Romney Turner sees some interesting wildlife in her garden. Firstly, she has a regular Wood Mouse which feeds quite happily at the feeding tray in company with Hedgehogs. What eyes and what ears! Romney also discovered this nest of Bank Voles a few years ago.

She also got this cracking shot of a Bee-fly,
though I don't know which species it is. Can anyone confirm.


Nore Barn
It was a fine morning with no wind, so, not having a car at the moment (my old Citroen ZX died on us during our holiday break), I opted for a bike ride to Nore Barn. Arriving at the end of Warblington Road at 9am, I stayed for about an hour watching the tide slowly fill the stream, but there was no sign of a Spotted Redshank. The colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) and 2 Common Redshanks were in the stream much as usual, but nothing else apart from 6 Mute Swans and a few Black-headed Gulls.

I am growing in the view that the Spotted Redshank that Anne de Potier and Peter Milinets-Raby saw earlier this month was not the regular one that has been coming here for the past 13 winters. Based on previous years, I would not have expected it for another week at least. But you never know. Please keep looking.

Brook Meadow
I had a walk through the meadow late morning. Cocksfoot and False Oat-grass are now flowering with anthers showing.

The young Alder near the Lumley Stream is looking good and stands about 15 feet high.

Pepper-saxifrage in flower attracting an unusual fly
- looks like Graphomya maculata in the book. .

I spotted this lone hairy caterpillar resting on nettle leaves.
Looks like the larva of either the Grey or Dark Dagger moth.

Peter Pond
The Mute Swan family with mum and 5 cygnets were preening on the side of Peter Pond. Lots of white feather indicates moulting.

I happened to meet Brendan Gibb-Gray and Debbie both armed with litter pickers and a bag picking up rubbish along the main road. Debbie who lives opposite Peter Pond saw the cygnets flying for the first time this morning.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby reports:
"I visited Langstone Mill Pond this morning before the tide really pushed in to high (8:56am to 9:47am).
The highlights were: Off shore were 5 Greenshank on the last piece of marsh before the tide covered it, along with 2 Lapwing, 4 Teal and 3 Sandwich Tern.
On the pond were 8 roosting Little Egrets, 3 Grey Heron, 4 female and 1 male eclipse plumaged Shoveler, 8 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck juvs, 2+ Chiffchaff and a very briefly singing Cetti's Warbler (which gave the usual views as it dived for cover).
Flying over I noted 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Skylark (heading Southeast), 2+ Meadow Pipits and 4 Swallow.

Back at the car, I discovered I had 20 minutes to spare, so armed with my passport, my inoculation certificate and with all sharp items safely stowed in the boot, I ventured across the Hayling Island bridge into unchartered waters. It took me just four minutes to drive over the bridge, park and walk the 50 metres to the northern flooded section of the Oysterbeds where the Grey Phalarope was showing very well indeed. Also present were 2 Dunlin, 6 Redshank and 3 House Martins flew over. And, I managed to arrive home in time for the windscreen repairman to arrive and sort out the car (the second time this year!).

Seal at Farlington
Heather Mills was thrilled to see so many Ringed Plover in with Dunlin off the point at Farlington Marshes during yesterday's walk with the Havant Wildlife Group. Also, a Spotted Redshank dropped in at the lake in front of the hut. However, what really took her by surprise was a big bull Harbour Seal that swam nearby.

Mystery beetle
Eric Eddles thinks the mystery beetle photo from John Tagg on Sundays blog looks very much like Chrysolina Banksi. Thanks, Eric. That looks right to me too.

Status: widespread, especially in the south-west, usually coastal, can be locally common. Habitat: Open, but also valley woodland. Host plants: Ribwort Plantain, Dead-nettles and Mints. Over wintering: usually as larvae and as adults in warmer places. Food: leaves.


Emsworth walk
I went for a walk this morning through Brook Meadow and down to Slipper Millpond. It is so good to get out again with the camera after our short break, even though there is not a lot to take at the moment. Nursery-web spiders on Common Nettle leaves. Fresh flowering of False Oat-grass, not only on Brook Meadow, but also around Slipper Millpond. Solitary ginger Bumblebee (probably Bombus pascuorum) feeding on Common Comfrey.

Hoary Ragwort still looking good on the side of Peter Pond.

Mute Swan family with 5 cygnets on Peter Pond with a multitude of ducks.

Another pair of Mute Swans at the top of Dolphin Lake - there could be trouble ahead?

Common Reed in full flower on the west side of Peter Pond - it flowers from late July onwards and is said to be the most widely distributed of all flowering plants in the world! I picked a few stems for my desk display.

David Gattrell is making steady progress digging out a new channel through on the west side of Peter Pond.

Mystery beetle
While walking around Brook Meadow on the morning of Friday 15 Sep, John Tagg saw what looked like a glint of gold on a nettle leaf. On closer inspection, he saw that it was a Beetle with the sun reflecting from its shell, which appeared to be black. John sent a couple of pictures, adding that although they show its bright red legs and hooks on its limbs they do not show just how bright or gold the reflection was. I can't find it in my book. Does anyone know what it is?

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby reports:
"I was out this morning to check the Warblington shore before the tide pushed in (6:42am to 8:53am). It was chilly enough to wear hat and gloves!
The highlights were as follows:
Off Conigar Point:4 Grey Plover, 5 Teal, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin, 10 Cormorants flying east, 1 Turnstone, 2 Greenshank, 5 Meadow Pipit over, 4 House Martin over, 6 Little Egrets, 3 Sandwich Tern, 8 Swallow, 68 Oystercatchers at pre-roost gathering on the "island".
SSSI field: adult and 2 juvenile Whinchats, 1 Buzzard, 4 Chiffchaff in the Tamarisk Hedge
Off Pook Lane: 2 Stock Dove, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Teal, 2 Dunlin, 1 Wheatear, And a further 8 Cormorants heading east along the channel and heading into Langstone Harbour.
This afternoon at 4pm, I had two Honey Buzzards pass over my Havant garden with a Common Buzzard. I grabbed the camera quickly pointed and took just the one photo)"

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby had the following highlights from a couple of previous visits to the Warblington shore over the past week:
Wed 13th Sept: 9am to 11am
There was an adult Yellow-legged Gull off Conigar Point along with 5 Knot, 2 Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit
Langstone Mill Pond had 3 Sand Martin flying over, along with 3 House Martin. A dozen Teal and 2 female eclipse plumaged Shoveler.
Surprisingly there were no adult female Tufted Duck, just 5 grown up young and a lost looking duckling, that was diving happily on its own. Where has Mum and his siblings gone?
Friday 15th Sept:1:40 to 2:30pm:
3 Greenshank, 8 Common Gull, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Sandwich Tern off Pook Lane.
Over Langstone Mill Pond were another 4 Sand Martin and two (on the verge of fledgling) Little Egret juvs were still being fed.
There were 3 eclipse plumaged Shoveler (two females and a male).

Farlington Marshes
The Havant Wildlife Group visited Farlington Marshes on Saturday morning. Here are some of the highlights:

Bearded Tits, Black-tailed Godwits fighting, Ruff, Yellow Wagtails.

For the full report see . . . Havant Wildlife Group


Nore Barn
I went over to Nore Barn this afternoon at about 1.30pm mainly to look for the Spotted Redshank that has now been seen by two people, Anne de Potier (Sep 5) and Peter Milinets-Raby (Sep 9). In each of these two occasions the Spotted Redshank was feeding with the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL). If this was the regular Spotted Redshank that has been feeding in the stream at Nore Barn for the past 13 winters running then it is some 3 weeks earlier than any previous first sighting date.
For all the previous first and last sightings go to . . .
Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn

This afternoon, the tide was rising to high water at about 4pm, so I was quite hopeful of seeing the bird which I have missed in previous visits this month. I stayed until about 2.30 by which time the tide was well advanced and filling the small stream. A Common Redshank was present for the whole period I was there and was joined by the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) and they were feeding together quite amicably.

Here is a shot of them bathing together in the shallow stream
and the Greenshank showing its rings when it came up stream

But, alas, there was no sign of the Spotted Redshank. I know the regular Spotted Redshank usually takes a little while to settle into a feeding routine after it first arrives, so I am not entirely surprised about its non presence today. However, the question remains, is it or is it not our regular Spotted Redshank? Only time will tell.

I was interested to see the new Nore Barn Woods interpretation board on the edge of the south path by the shore. The board is said to be a joint project of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy and the Friends of Chichester Harbour. It is nicely laid out with photos of some of the wildlife that can be seen in the area, including our old friend the Spotted Redshank!

There appears to have been a bumper crop of Acorns this year. The paths were strewn with fallen ones and there were still plenty of fresh ones on the trees.

I happened to meet Roy Ewing on the north path tending to the Hawthorn hedge on the other side of the wire fence. Roy explained that the landowners gave permission for the group to plant the hedge inside the boundary fence. The fence had the advantage of protecting the new saplings as well as preventing dog walkers gaining access to the field where Brent Geese feed in winter.


Purple Moor-grass
The mystery grass that Caroline French and I found in Southleigh Forest yesterday was identified by John Norton, Ralph Hollins and several Facebook correspondents as Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea). John added that he found a tiny single stem the other day with an unusually compact spike of flowers, and didn't immediately recognise it. Then he remembered the purple anthers = Purple Moor-grass!

Purple Moor-grass is native in the British Isles and occurs in most of Europe and has been introduced into N America. It has a wide range of habitats including open moorland, heaths, grassland, bogs and open woodland, but the common feature of all these habitats is the permanently or seasonally wet ground ('Grasses of The British Isles' by Cope and Gray).

Nostoc alga
As for the mass of soft squishy algae that Caroline and I found in the forest, John Norton and Ralph Hollins thought it looked like Nostoc commune which, John says, is very common on gravel and concrete, etc. wherever there is a bit of dampness. It is getting very abundant at the moment due to all the rain. Because of its similarity to Seaweed, Ralph calls it Landweed adding that it suddenly appears en masse on rocks (such as gravestones in churchyards) for a few days then vanishes.


Southleigh Forest
I had a very pleasant walk through Southleigh Forest with Caroline French this morning despite the wet conditions. It was just like the old days when we used to do the BTO Bird Atlas surveys in SU71 together. Today, we walked along the regular path used by Chris Berners-Price where he has had the best sightings of Goshawks, but saw nothing of special interest. We did hear a single raptor-like call which could have been a Goshawk calling. We also explored some of the other paths through the woodland which I have not been along before, but did not see anything special. However, we both agreed the habitat is ideal for Goshawks, so we shall try again. Caroline managed to pick up various crest calls and saw a group of Long-tailed Tits.
We stopped to admire many interesting grasses, sedges and rushes along the edges of the paths. One patch of grasses in particular attracted my attention and I picked a stem (85cm long) for identification at home - see photo below. I have not yet been able to name it. Can anyone help?

Here are the grasses by the path

Here is a panicle with a close up of the spikelets

We also saw some really nice clumps of Hard Fern and some Tutsan with black berries.

Probably the most puzzling find was some soft algae which Caroline thought she also saw on Hayling yesterday during a walk with the HWT Flora Group. Anyone know what it is?

Several species of fungi attracted our attention during the walk. An attractive bright yellow one growing on a log covered in green mosses is called Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa). Another group of fungi with pale cream caps and a strong mushroomy smell were growing around the base of an old tree stump - tentatively identified as The Miller (Clitophilus prunulus), but I am far from sure. Corrections welcome.

Greenshank ringing
Anne de Potier reports on a colour-ringing session yesterday in which 10 more Greenshanks were ringed with combinations all with B//R on the left leg. Greenshank G//R+BR was also caught and its geolocator tag removed for analysis. Anne says, "We won't know for some time what the geolocator tells us - but of course we do know that it spends a lot of time off Langstone, thanks to all Peter Milinets-Raby's reports. These definite sightings help to validate the electronic data."

Here is a shot Peter Milinets-Raby got of G//R+BR with its geotag


Emsworth to Warblington
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning as the sun rose (6:28am to 9:41am - low tide throughout) looking for birds along the shoreline from Emsworth to Warblington.
Emsworth Harbour: 6 Pied Wagtail, 7 Little Egret, 1 Canada Goose, 1 Greenshank, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 26 Turnstone, 1 Chiffchaff Heard singing, 41 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Dunlin, 4 Cormorant, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Common Tern, Redshank with colour rings (-//G + G//YG).
Beacon Square: 26 Mallard and 34 Teal feeding on the mud at first light. 6 Pied Wagtails
Nore Barn (from 7:28am): Redshank with colour rings (-//O + O//BY), 2 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank feeding together. 76 Teal.
Ibis Field (from 7:40am): 5 House martin, 3 Swallow, 2 Yellow Wagtails heard flying over.
Hedgerow behind Conigar Point: 9+ Chiffchaff along hedgerow, Garden Warbler (My second ever record).
Conigar Point (from 8:13am): 8 Yellow Wagtails flew over, 2 Common Tern, 2 Common Gull, 1 adult winter Med Gull with white ring - too far to read, 1 Greenshank, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Shelduck.
Tamarisk Hedge: 11+ Chiffchaff, 3+ Willow Warbler.
SSSI Field/Hedge: Two pairs of Yellow Wagtails in amongst the cattle and showing well (see photos of adult male and adult female - the female having some characters of a possible flava - the other pair female was more typical with paler appearance, with nor hint of any bluish tinges - such a difficult group to sort out).

1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 4 male Blackcaps, 2 Meadow Pipit.
Pook Lane: 1 Common Tern, 13+ Swallow, 4 Linnets, 1 Dunlin. In hedge 2 more Whitethroats.

Adder in Havant Thicket
Pam and Roy Ewing had a walk around the perimeter of Havant Thicket today and tripped over an Adder literally) and then a few yards on, a Slow-worm. Both were basking in the fine sunshine, probably drying out after yesterday's deluge! Wow, what a find and a cracking photo.

Havant Thicket
Heather Mills reported on this morning walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. Among their sightings were two species of Hawkers: Southern Hawker and Migrant Hawker

For Heather's full report go to . . .


Goshawk in Southleigh Forest
Chris Berners-Price went for a last walk today in the forest before his 2 weeks holiday. Having not seen anything at all yesterday, his luck changed dramatically today. He was about to give up and started to walk for home and there she was - a female Goshawk flying away from him, 50 yards to 150 yards away, 10 feet up - a massive bird, beautiful solid colour on her back (dark brown/battleship grey) then she flew up into the trees near the road - amazing!
Chris takes up the story, "I followed her up towards the road and scanned the trees, but it started to rain so I went along the path (that we have not been on) that goes from the bicycle track/road junction, parallel to the road, back to where the cars are parked. About 100 yards along there, when..... I heard motion above me and she flew out of the tree above me!!! I could even see the tiny bit of white on the end of her tail feathers. I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever now. I am still buzzing!"

He did not get any photos, but sends a couple of Goshawks from the internet. The first photo shows the male colour. The female looks more like the second photo - a solid block of colour that changes if you see her in light or shade. As he always sees the backs of the wings as they fly away, he will look for the white tip to the tail now.

Langstone shore birds
Peter Milinets-Raby's recent commitments has made it difficult for him to get good quality bird watching time in along the Langstone shore. So, he sends a summary of 20 minute visits over the past three of days, two of them at high tide:
Wednesday 6th:
From Beacon Square, lunchtime at high tide: 15 Little Egrets roosting in the marsh, 3 Sandwich Tern, 2 Common Tern, 1 Hobby flew south out into the harbour.
Thursday 7th:
Langstone Mill Pond early afternoon - high tide: 61 Little Egrets roosting out the high tide, 1 Chiffchaff, 10 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 3 Sandwich Tern offshore fishing.
Friday 8th:
Langstone Mill Pond at 9 am - low tide: 2 Greenshank, 5 Grey Plover, 14 Dunlin, 3 Black-tailed Godwit. On the pond were 10 Teal, 3 eclipse Shoveler and a female Wigeon!? And one solitary House Martin swooping over the pond, looking like something rare!
Chiffchaff is a Willow Warbler
Steve Hooper pointed out that the photo of the Chiffchaff taken by Brian Lawrence's grandson in yesterday's blog looks rather more like a young Willow Warbler. The supercilium is very bright, and the wings look a bit long for a Chiffchaff. There is also a hint of light pink or brown in the legs and feet, whereas he would expect the legs of a Chiffchaff to look much darker.


Nore Barn
I went over to Nore Barn at 10am with the tide rising to high water in 3 hours. This is the state of tide when Anne de Potier saw the Spotted Redshank with the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) on Sep 5. When I arrived the tide was still a bit low and only the Little Egret was feeding in he stream. I had a walk round and returned before 11am to find the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) feeding happily in the stream with a Common Redshank. There was no sign of a Spotted Redshank.

PS: Anne added she was in no doubt about the Spotted Redshank ID, size, bill, legs, behaviour etc. Also there were a number of Common Redshanks in the area at the time she saw the Spotted Redshank.

Goshawk in Southleigh Forest
Chris Berners-Price got another good view of what surely must be the female Goshawk in Southleigh Forest this morning. It was just past the kill site and towards the motor cycle path. He described it thus: "A very large bird crossed ahead of me from right to left, only 15-20 yards ahead flying lazily through the pines at about 15 feet up. Huge bird, bigger than a Buzzard, solid-colour battleship grey and brown above. It then turned just as I lost sight of it and got a flash of white from underneath at the back of the wings."

Brian's news
In the past week Brian Lawrence has been going around Brook Meadow, Emsworth Harbour and Hayling Oysterbeds and got some interesting shots. A lovely Wren in Brook Meadow. Juvenile (1st winter) Dunlin at the Oysterbeds.

A large flock of Oystercatchers roosting at the Oysterbeds

Brian also caught up with the Emsworth Mute Swan family still with their 5 cygnets in the harbour.

Finally, Brian's grandson (no age given) got a nice photo of what looks like a Chiffchaff.

Ivy in flower
This morning Ralph Hollins found two patches of Ivy in full flower during his walk on Hayling Island. They were buzzing with insects including a hoverfly Hornet mimic (Volucella zonaria) but no Wasps. Ralph says they seem to be scarce this summer.

Here is a photo ,I got of a Hornet mimic (Volucella zonaria)
on Brook Meadow a couple of years ago. Striking insects!


Goshawks in Southleigh Forest
I met Steve Hooper at 10.30am as arranged at the parking lay-by on the Emsworth Common Road for our walk through the woods to look for Goshawks. We walked to the end of the path that Chris Berners-Price has seen the Goshawks recently as far as the cycle track and the 'Private Keep Out' notice. Steve was a great fund of information about Goshawks and their behaviour. Here is a shot of Steve demonstrating the wing span of a female Goshawk. That is some bird!

We saw no sign of Goshawk, but Steve said it was not unusual for Goshawks to go quiet for several days. But he thought the habitat of tall erect trees with no undergrowth in Southleigh Forest was ideal Goshawk habitat. These large birds needed space between trees to pursue their prey. The tall firs with dead branches in particular made ideal perches to search for prey. He seemed to have little doubt that the birds Chris Berners-Price has been seeing are Goshawks.

We cut across to the official bridleway and walked down to the Emsworth Common Road. On the way I spotted more Hard Fern beside the path. We crossed the road and made a slight diversion back to the cars through Hollybank Woods. We stopped briefly to admire a fine growth of Heather by the bridleway.

We also had a look around young Andrew's very impressive woodland workshop behind the Lorton seat with numerous neat piles of sticks and various other constructions. Pity Andrew himself was not present to explain his work to us.

Nore Barn
After lunch I went down to have a look for the Spotted Redshank that Anne de Potier saw in the Nore Barn stream yesterday. The tide was falling and by 3.30pm the stream was fairly low. But there was no Spotted Redshank or Greenshank, only a Little Egret. I was interested to see its feeding technique of leaving the tip of its bill just under the level of the water, presumably waiting for passing fish.

On the way back I spotted a good growth of Lesser Sea-spurrey on the edge of the saltmarshes near the picnic table.


Southleigh Forest
This afternoon, I decided to do a walk through Southleigh Forest to look for Goshawks. It was raining lightly throughout the walk, making the paths a bit muddy, but still quite walkable with wellies. I walked to the end of the main path where Chris Berners-Price had reported seeing the Goshawks and back without seeing a thing. All I heard were several Jay's calling. With raindrops pattering down on the woodland floor, I paused several times peering through an army of tall, erect, trees, without seeing anything of ornithological interest.

I met Chris Berners-Price on his regular afternoon walk, but he'd seen nothing as well. He wondered if the Goshawks may have moved somewhere else. Maybe, as they have not been seen for a week. Regarding Tom Bickerton's comment in yesterday's blog that Goshawks like to take their prey to a favoured spot, Chris made the point that the kill was smack-bang on top of a small mound with good all round visibility, indicating that the bird had placed it there before it was eaten. Here is a photo of the (green) site that I took today.

I was interested to see a fine growth of Wood Spurge and a tuft what I think might be Hard Fern.

Spotted Redshank returns?
This morning Anne de Potier saw a Spotted Redshank in the stream at Nore Barn along with the regular colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL). If this was the same Spotted Redshank that has been visiting Nore Barn for the past 13 years, it would be the earliest arrival date on record. The previous earliest date was 27 Sep in 2015. How exciting.

Here is one of the last shots we got of the famous Spotted Redshank in the Nore Barn stream
before it left on migration to Northern Scandinavia in March this year.
Photo by Peter Milinets-Raby (16 March 2017).


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had two trips to Langstone Mill Pond today. One as the tide pushed in to high (9am to 10:46am) and another later in the day as the tide dropped (2pm to 3:47pm)
Early visit:
Pond: Amazingly there are two broods of Tufted Duck ducklings. Two females with 5 ducklings each, the second brood looking about a week old (see photo). the earlier brood are beginning to grow up, but have lost a couple of brothers/sisters.

4 Teal, 4 eclipse plumaged Shoveler, 26+ Swallows, Cetti's Warbler heard, 15 Little Egret roosting out high tide, 70+ Goldfinch, 3 House Martin, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk.
Off shore: 2 Teal, 2 Dunlin, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Sandwich Tern, 1 Grey Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 9 Greenshank (G//R + LL//-),
Off Conigar Point: 2 Greenshank, 25 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 4 Shelduck.
Off shore: 16 Ringed Plover, 32 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank (G//R + BRtag//- see photo), 74 Redshank (-//B + B//YG), 23 Grey Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit,

Off Conigar Point: 5 Knot, 1 Turnstone,
And further in the distance in Emsworth harbour: 6+ Common Tern, 3 Black Tern - tiny grey specks in the scope on 60x magnification!!! 1 Great Crested Grebe

More on Goshawks
Tom Bickerton has written to say that there is every likelihood that Chris Berners-Price did see a Goshawk in Southleigh Forest. He adds, "Goshawk is not easy to find at all, so he did well. The Forest is perfect for them with lots to eat. I did manage to see a female Goshawk a few years back, further north by Finchdean, which took me by surprise".
As for the kill, which Chris and I thought might have been by a Goshawk, Tom thinks this was more likely to be a Sparrowhawk kill. A Goshawk would have easily carried the kill away and it looks too messy. Goshawks take prey to a favoured spot.

As for the feather that Chris found, Tom confirms it was from a Buzzard. Adult Goshawks have an inverted 'V' along the spine.


Work session
I went over to the meadow this morning for the regular first Sunday in the month work session. Rain was forecast which probably accounted for the relatively small number of volunteers - 9 turned up. We welcomed three new members - John and Laura Brind and Terry Lay. The session was led by Dan Mortimer. The main task was to cut and clear the orchid area on the north meadow. Maurice, Jennifer and Phil took it in turns to use the power scythe to cut the area. I asked the cutters to leave clumps of still flowering plants as nectar sources for late flying insects.

The hard work of raking, clearing and hauling to the dump was done by the rest of the team.

In Pam's absence Jennifer provided tea, coffee and biscuits ably assisted by Laura.

There are more photos of the work session on the Brook Meadow web site at . . .

Wildlife observations
Two ecologists were carrying out a reptile survey during the work session, checking the black mats for reptiles. Apparently, they found 1 male and 3 female Slow-worms and one baby, but no Common Lizards.

Here is a female Slow-worm identified by a dark stripe down its back - not clearly visible in the photo.

During the cutting of the orchid area, Maurice pointed out a solitary seedhead spike of a Common Spotted Orchid. We had a good showing of orchids this year, so let's hope for more next year.

Mystery caterpillar is Red Admiral
Andrew Brown came to the rescue to identify the mystery caterpillar found yesterday by the Havant Wildlife Group during their walk at Testwood Lakes. The larvae is a pale form of Red Admiral.


The caterpillar feeds on Common Nettle leaves and lives hidden in a tent of one or several leaves folded over and fastened together by silk. No wonder I have never seen one! When fully grown it is plump, spiny and very variable in colour from light to dark. The chrysalis hangs suspended inside the caterpillar's last tent. The emerging adult feeds and flies around. Most perish in winter, but some manage to survive and can be seen fluttering around on warm days in mid winter.


Southleigh Forest
I met Chris Berners-Price at 9am for another walk through this fine area of woodland north of the Emsworth Common Road. It was a sunny morning, but chilly in the woods. It was such a good experience to walk along the paths with the low sun shining through the trees.

We looked and listened for any sign of Goshawks, but did not see anything. However, we did find that the half-eaten kill we saw yesterday had gone, leaving only a scattering of feathers. We assumed the hawk returned to finish its meal after we had left.

The main feature of the morning were the Fallow Deer which were racing around the woods in fairly large herds; I counted a good 15 in one group. The bucks were barking loudly, what a strange sound that is. I got a photo of one doe peering at me through the trees.

I was interested to see lots of Tormentil in flower along the edges of the paths. All seemed to have the standard four yellow petals, though I gather five petals are not uncommon in certain habitats.

Brent Geese are due
Ralph Hollins has been going through the records of Brent Geese for the past few years and concludes the time to look for the first migrants is the second week of September on a day with a morning high tide. See his diary for Wed Aug 30.

I would add that locally I always expect to see the first Brent arrivals in the south east corner of Langstone Harbour near the Sinah Warren holiday complex.

Ralph also gives a link to a useful document written from the perspective of an Essex birder but well worth reading by anyone interested in the three Brent species (Dark-bellied, Pale-bellied and Black Brant). At the very end of this document is a map of the route they take between their breeding grounds in Siberia and the British Isles.
See . . .

Testwood Lakes
Valerie Mitchell reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group. Among their sightings were Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter and a mystery caterpillar.

For the report and more photos go to . . . Havant Wildlife Group 


Goshawks in Southleigh Forest
I previously reported (Aug 27) that my friend Chris Berners-Price has seen what he thinks is a Goshawk in Southleigh Forest. Since then Chris has had good views of two Goshawks, a small male and a large female, in the same area of the woods. Grid Ref: SU745091. Goshawk is a rare bird which, as far as I am aware, has not previously been reported in our area. However, The Hampshire Bird Atlas states that Goshawk is an increasingly common resident of the larger forests, especially the New Forest so this pair is not entirely unexpected. Also, the Sussex Bird Report for 2015 reports up to 4 or 5 breeding pairs in West Sussex, so they are getting closer!

Today, I decided to accompany Chris on his regular morning (9.15-10.15) and afternoon (3.30-4.30) walks through Southleigh Forest, partly to confirm the location of the sightings and hopefully to get a sighting of the birds myself. Chris has been walking these complex uncharted woods daily with his dog since the spring and knows them very well. A maze of fairly well trodden footpaths run through the woods, but as I am not very familiar with the woods, I appreciated Chris's guidance. On each walk we took a circular route starting at the parking area on Emsworth Common Road opposite the north entrance to Hollybank Woods and headed north towards Woodberry Lane. Today, the woodland looked particularly beautiful in the late summer sunshine.

Here is a shot of Chris walking along one of the paths with his well-behaved dog on a lead

Southleigh Forest is a mixed unmanaged woodland with trees of varying ages, similar to those of Hollybank Woods on the other side of Emsworth Common Road. Chris thinks it is owned by Havant Borough Council, though I think it used to belong to Southern Water. The western area is privately owned and has many 'Keep Out' notices. There is one official public bridleway on the east side that runs from Emsworth Common Road to Woodberry Lane. We went around all the 'hot spots' where Chris has had sightings of the Goshawks.

Here is a shot of Chris looking out for Goshawks

We did not see anything in the morning visit, but in the afternoon we got a fairly good view of what Chris thought was the male Goshawk leaving a kill. I did not see the bird clearly enough to judge. We searched the local area with our bins, but did not get any further sightings. However, we did find the kill, which was a fresh half-eaten pigeon which we left it as it was for the hawk to finish off.

In a previous visit Chris found a feather which 'floated down from a tree' which he thought might be from a Goshawk, but it looks more like a Buzzard primary to me.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby has just returned from an evening visit to Langstone Mill Pond 6:30pm to 8:27pm Tide nearly in. Disappointing count of 144 Little Egrets coming in to roost.
Other birds of note were Cetti's Warbler singing, 9 Greenshank, 14 Dunlin, a Black-tailed Godwit and 160+ Swallow coming in to roost.

For the previous month go to . . . August 1-31