OCTOBER 30 - 2017
are Mark's photos of the two Spotshanks and the
went to Nore Barn this morning hoping to see the
returning Spotted Redshank. Well, his hopes were
doubly fulfilled for when Mark arrived there was not
just one Spotted Redshank feeding in the stream but
two! Mark said, "The weather was sunny and beautiful -
it was heaven".
This is the first
sighting of two Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn this
winter. In fact, we do regularly get two each year in
late October - my first sighting of two last year was
on Oct 31. There should be more sightings of two at
least until January or even three! My guess is that
our regular Spotted Redshank is occasionally joined by
others of its species that it roosts with (maybe on
Thorney Island?) to feed in this highly nutritious
'thousands of Brent Geese' seen in Chichester Harbour
by Sue Thomas yesterday, Tom Bickerton reports that he
actually counted them yesterday as a trial run for the
low-tide count for Chichester Harbour, Mengham to
Black Point - Hayling side of the channel. Tom counted
2250 birds, including 1 Brant and 1 Light Bellied. He
thinks you can add another 600-1000 birds for the
Chichester side, but as for juveniles, hardly any.
OCTOBER 29 - 2017
Some of the
roosting Godwits at Nore Barn
I had a walk around the millpond and along Western
Parade to Nore Barn this morning. There was an ebb
tide so still lots of water even at low water. There
were few birds in the harbour until I got to Nore
Barn. There I found 116 Redshank roosting on the edge
of the main channel and 77 Black-tailed Godwits. A few
of the Godwits were feeding on the mudflats, but most
of them were roosting on one leg by lower stream.
I found three
colour-ringed birds among the Godwits, but only one
seen fully with both legs:
G+GY and ROL
G+GY - Ringed Farlington 14-Sep-05. First seen
in Emsworth on 27-Oct-06, it has been a fairly
regular, though not frequent, winter visitor to
Emsworth since then. This was my 15th record of
ROL+RLR - Left leg only seen, but it was almost
certainly the very regular Kent-ringed bird in the
roosting flock. My 101st sighting.
R+GL ? - Only red left leg ring seen, but
possibly R+LG which was last seen in Emsworth
Sue's photo of
some of the Brent Geese in the harbour.
Sue Thomas was
sailing in the harbour today and she saw 'thousands'
of Brent Geese (too many to count) on the mudflats on
Thorney and Hayling sides and as far as the eye could
see towards East Head.
OCTOBER 28 - 2017
I paid a brief
visit to Nore Barn at about 3pm this afternoon on a
rising tide. It was a fine afternoon with lots of
people about. Plenty of birds were out in the channel,
but too far to get good views or photos. I counted 88
Brent Geese, 42 Wigeon, 38 Teal, 15 Black-tailed
Godwits, 64 Redshank, 1 Grey Plover, 3 Curlew, 7
Greenshank and the Spotted Redshank. 3 Little Egrets
were feeding in the woods channel - quite unusual. The
Greenshank were all roosting on one leg; one had GY on
one leg and I think one of the others was the regular
reported on the Havant Wildlife Group walk in east
They found Parasol
For Heather's full
report (lots of birds) see . . . http://familyfellows.com/hwg-walk-reports-2017.htm
OCTOBER 27 - 2017
is a shot I got of the raft in June with Common Terns
nesting and a few chicks
In the current
issue of Kingfisher (the Hampshire Ornithological
Society Magazine), RSPB Warden Wez Smith reports on a
very successful first year for the Common Tern raft on
Hayling Oysterbeds. Adults and chicks were present on
the raft for the whole summer and the final total was
44 Common Tern chicks, plus a bonus of 3 Black-headed
Gulls which also nested on the raft. The vast majority
of gulls nested on the natural islands in the lagoon.
With the year now complete, they will be making a few
minor tweaks to the raft to provide a good breeding
habitat for the arrivals next spring.
A Black-headed Gull can be seen in the foreground
male Pochard that I took a few years ago on the
millpond. A rarity!
further a sharp fall in wintering Pochard not only in
the UK, but throughout Europe and North Africa,
volunteers carrying out the regular WeBS counts were
asked to note relative numbers of males and females in
flocks. It was found that the proportion of male
Pochard to female Pochard increased from 61% in the
last survey in 1989-90 to 70% in 2016. It is thought
that one factor that could be adversely affecting
females is their vulnerability to predation while
incubating eggs and tending to their young on the
OCTOBER 26 - 2017
12 noon. Low
water - tide rising. I counted 158 Brent Geese
on the mudflats to the east and west of the Emsworth
Sailing Club building this at morning at low water. So
numbers are now building up nicely in the harbour. I
looked through most of the geese, but did not find any
juveniles. I have yet to see one in Emsworth this
winter period. Here is a shot of a small group of
Brents feeding and lounging around.
I found about 50
Black-tailed Godwits scattered around the
western mudflats off Western Parade. Here is a couple
feeding peacefully on some green weed.
They were not easy to
see or count on the grey mud, but I did see the
Kent-ringed Godwit - ROL+RLR - which was my
100th sighting of it in Emsworth Harbour. My first
sighting of ROL+RLR was on 23-Oct-09, so this is the
9th winter it has spent in our harbour. A real good
friend! Not a particularly good photo for its 100th,
but the light was terrible.
OCTOBER 25 - 2017
On such a warm
morning I was not surprised to see several Red
Admirals, mostly on Brook Meadow. Here's a rather
tatty one, near the end of its life, which perched for
From the main
causeway, I stopped to admire the two tall Black
Poplars (hybrid 'Robusta', I think) which have
just a canopy of leaves remaining at their pinnacle.
They must be the tallest trees on Brook Meadow and
among the youngest, having been planted in November
2004 in memory of Frances Jannaway's mother.
The Mute Swan family
with 5 cygnets was on Peter Pond, while over on
Slipper Millpond at least 6 Cormorants were busily
fishing. A Great Black-backed Gull was standing
proudly on the centre raft, most likely one of the
pair that has nested on the pond for the past 5 years.
got this cracking photo of a Green Woodpecker standing
on his garden fence. Keith says the woodpecker usually
spends 20 minutes digging in the lawn, but this time
perhaps it wasn't hungry. It stayed there until a
squirrel ran along the fence when it dived into next
door's garden. Ants are the Green Woodpecker's
OCTOBER 24 - 2017
It was a very
dank and dismal morning with light rain in the air and
a stiff westerly blowing; far from ideal conditions
for harbour birdwatching. However, the tide was rising
to high water at about 15:00, so I decided to venture
out with the scope strapped to the back of my bike. I
was pushing not riding it, mind you, as I could not
risk another fall! Despite the conditions I had a
really good morning on the bird front.
I got to the
millpond seawall by 12 noon from where I enjoyed my
first flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the
mudflats to the east of the Emsworth Sailing Club
building. How good it was to listen to their gentle
croaking again, so atmospheric with the occasional
bubbling call of a Curlew. These calls will be a
feature of harbour walks throughout the winter. I
never cease to marvel at just how far these birds have
travelled from their breeding grounds in Siberia to
Emsworth Harbour - roughly 2,500 miles, though they do
have stop offs on the way. Here is part of the flock.
I scanned through the
flock and counted 92 adult Brent Geese, but there was
no sign of any juveniles. This is no cause for alarm,
as Brent families often arrive after the main bulk of
adults, having spent more time in the breeding
grounds. Brent breeding success varies considerably
from one year to the next, with some very poor years,
with hardly any juveniles around, followed by good
ones with juveniles everywhere. From my own counts,
last year was on the low side (about 4% juveniles),
though I did hear reports of good numbers of
juveniles. Wait and see what turns up this year.
Juveniles are easily recognised from the white bars on
their wings. Several people stopped to ask about the
birds and I was pleased to inform them that the Brents
had returned! I was also pleased to see my first Grey
Plover of the winter.
bike along Western Parade, I saw nothing of special
interest on the western mudflats until I got near Nore
Barn where I spotted a mixed flock of Wigeon and
Teal on the far channel. My rough counts came to
18 Wigeon and 34 Teal.
Redshank, colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) and
Common Redshank were feeding closely together in the
small stream, just like good friends meeting up again
after the summer break. There were also a few Godwits
in the stream.
For all previous first
and last Spotted Redshank sighting dates go to . . .
Redshanks at Nore Barn
I counted 82
Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the ever
decreasing mudflats - my best count so far this
winter. As the tide pushed in they moved up the creek
south of the woods where they were a lot easier to see
and count. Here are a few of them I took from the path
near the woods. There is a Curlew in the foreground.
I found just one
colour-ringed Godwit - the very familiar Kent ringed
bird with three rings on each leg: ROL+RLR. This was
my 99th sighting of this Godwit in Emsworth Harbour.
Here is a photo of the bird I took a few years ago.
Here is one of
the two that Peter sent me. Well done for taking the
opportunity to get a fine shot.
Every now and
then, a bird just, "sits pretty" begging for a
photograph. Well, this happened to Peter Milinets-Raby
today. In his words, "Whilst
in Bedhampton, driving between pupils, I noticed a
Kestrel fly low over the road in front of me and land
to my amazement on the window sill in the front garden
of a house, just metres from the pavement. I stopped
the car by the side of the road, stuck the camera out
the window and managed to take just five photos before
it flew off"
OCTOBER 23 - 2017
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond late morning
for an hour just before high tide (from 11:43am). Here
is the report.
On the last blobs of mud were: 13 roosting Sandwich
Tern (see photo of one on the boat after the tide had
finally pushed in),
19 Brent Geese, 7
Common Gull, 6 Grey Plover, 13 Teal, 24 Dunlin, 37
Black-tailed Godwit (G//R + BG//-), Female Pintail -
Looked like that Pond bird from last winter - so back
for another stay! 3 Greenshank (G//R + BR//-), 3
female Red-breasted Merganser.
note on colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit G+BG - I
first recorded this one at Nore Barn Emsworth on
24-Sep-10 and has been fairly regular each winter
since then with 56 sightings in total. The only two
records I have this winter were both from Langstone by
Peter, though I expect it will be in Emsworth as well
as winter progresses.
On the pond: Juv
Tufted Duck, 3 female and 1 male eclipse Shoveler, 2
Teal, 1 Kingfisher low over the pond, Cetti's Warbler
heard singing several times, 4 Little Egrets roosting,
2 Mute Swan.
In the distant off Conigar Point were 25 Brent Geese
and 2 Wigeon.
In the flooded horse paddock - ah, it feels like
winter: 4 Grey Heron, 2 Mallard, 1 Green Sandpiper, 10
Teal, 1 Little Egret, 1 Pied Wagtail, Jay, 2
OCTOBER 22 - 2017
5.00pm. I went over to Nore Barn for the first time
since my fall over a week ago. The tide was falling
and the stream gradually emptying. Just right for our
Spotted Redshank and, hey presto, there it was! From
its general behaviour I am fairly sure it is the
famous 'tame' Spotted Redshank that has been visiting
Nore Barn for the past 14 years. It was feeding in the
stream in the usual leisurely manner with its
'companions' the colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) and a
Common Redshank nearby. Here are a couple of shots,
one of it with a small morsel in its bill and the
other looking around its winter home. This is quite
late for a first sighting, though it could well have
been here for a week or so while I have been absent.
It has been this late several times in previous years,
e.g, 21-Oct in 2011 and 08-Nov in 2008.
For all previous first
and last sighting dates go to . . . Spotted
Redshanks at Nore Barn
Greenshank and Common Redshank, which have been
feeding in the stream for some weeks, appear to have
struck up a close friendship.
I also had my first
sighting of Brent Geese - just two birds off
the point to the west of Nore Barn. Jennifer Rye also
reported seeing a small flock of Brents in Emsworth
Harbour today. They have been in the local area for
some weeks, but they always take time to come into the
inner harbours. It will be interesting to search the
flocks for juveniles.
are the two Brent Geese I saw today . .
Milinets-Raby says there was no aftermath that he
noticed after storm Brian passed through - nothing
displaced and blown asunder! He visited Emsworth
Harbour at sunrise - bright blue skies, with a brisk
breeze - 7:28am and then Langstone Mill Pond .
Emsworth Harbour: 5
Little Egret, 6 Greenshank, 2 Great Black-backed
Gulls, 10 Turnstone, 8 Grey Plover, 96 Brent Geese, 2
Mute Swan, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank with
colour ring in pond outflow stream (-//G + G//YG), 6
On the millpond: 4
Cormorants, 32 Coot, 2 Little Grebe.
Beacon Square from
8:11am: 2 female Red-Breasted Merganser (first
returning birds), 1 Black-tailed Godwit.
Nore Barn from 8:25am:
4 Greenshank in stream outflow (not as good as 7 the
other day), 1 Jay, 39 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Little
Egret, Siskin heard flying over south, 2 Kingfisher
dashing about chasing each other.
Langstone Mill Pond
from 8:48am until finish at 9:25am. 19 Teal, 1 male
and 3 female Shoveler in partial eclipse, 2 Little
Egrets, 5 Grey Herons, 3+ Skylark over (all heard
only) and 2+ Meadow Pipits heard flying over. 1 Green
Sandpiper flew into the rear of the reed bed onto
secret pool, Cetti's Warbler heard several times. 1
Kingfisher dashed across the pond. 1 Sparrowhawk over.
2 Grey Wagtails in the paddock along with 2 Moorhen.
Off shore on the mud
were: 4 Greenshank, 3 Teal, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 7
Common Gull, 2 Sandwich Tern, 31 Brent Geese. 3 Grey
OCTOBER 21 - 2017
on Brook Meadow this afternoon, Rayner Piper found
four Earthstar fungi on the east bank of the river
just down from the north bridge. He sent me the
following two photos. I think they are Collared
Earthstars (Geastrum triplex). They are
like Puffballs with an outer skin which splits and
peels back in a star-like pattern. The lobes surround
a thin-skinned inner bag full of spores, which escape
through a small opening at the top. They are
relatively uncommon and a first for Brook Meadow, so
we are grateful to Rayner for spotting them.
OCTOBER 19 - 2017
I went over to
Brook Meadow to take photos for the regular third
Thursday in the month work session - my first outing
since my fall last Saturday. The rain held off, though
my wellies were useful as the vegetation was very wet.
There was a very good turn out of 14 volunteers led by
Jennifer Rye. It was particularly good to see Lesley
Harris returning to the meadow for the first time
since her serious illness.
The main task was
raking and clearing the Lumley area and the two small
experimental areas in the north meadow which had been
cut by Nigel with the power scythe yesterday.
They did a magnificent
job and all was completed. This is the most important
botanical area on Brook Meadow for sedges and rushes,
plus a regular crop of Ragged Robin and orchids, so it
is vital to cut and clear the site each year.
Jennifer served cakes at coffee break to celebrate her
wedding anniversary. I explained to everyone that the
awful appearance of my face was the result of a nasty
fall in Portsmouth last Saturday. I was persuaded to
join the volunteers for a group photo (taken by
Jennifer) around the newly installed green oak bench
in memory of our sadly departed colleague Frank
Styles. Lesley is sitting with me on the bench.
For the full
workday report and more photos go to . . .
There is a good
flowering of Meadowsweet and Michaelmas
Daisies. The latter usually attract butterflies,
but there were none there today, just one or two small
bees. However, Jennifer said she counted 4 Peacocks
and 3 Red Admirals on the daisies yesterday.
insects: hoverfly and bush-cricket.
comments: "My guess at your hoverfly is
Sphaerophoria scripta Long
Hoverfly) - see http://www.naturespot.org.uk/species/long-hoverfly
I can't see enough of
the 'Bush Cricket' to make a confident guess
(especially the wings) but my feeling is that it is a
Conehead - probably Short-Winged."
there's been no blog recently, but I have been out of
action due to a nasty fall.
OCTOBER 18 - 2017
Milinets-Raby had a brief hour this morning to visit
Langstone Mill Pond. He walked in along Wade Lane and
by the "Wade Court Castle Tower" he found 2
Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest and a handsome
Firecrest, all virtually in the same clump of
trees and bushes by the road.
At the pond (it was high tide) and consequently all I
had on the water were 57 Brent Geese and a Sandwich
Tern. On the pond were 47 Teal, 3 eclipse plumaged
Shoveler, another foraging Chiffchaff and briefly a
Green Sandpiper flew low over hectically
OCTOBER 13 - 2017
11:30 - 12.30
Low water. Strong westerly wind. Greenshank and
Redshank feeding in the outfall from the town
millpond. This is a popular spot for these small
Godwits feeding in the main channel from the millpond
seawall, including colour-ringed bird: ROL+RLR. This
colourful Kent ringed Godwit has been with us in
Emsworth each winter since 2008. It is getting on in
This was my 98th
sighting of ROL+RLR, but it still trails G+WR
(also ringed in 2008) which is currently on 122 and
W+GO (now deceased) on 113. Here are a couple
of shots of these Godwits from earlier years. I have
yet to see G+WR this winter.
on ringed Godwits
Milinets-Raby reminded me that the colour-ringed
Black-tailed Godwit he had in Emsworth on 07-Oct was
clearly R+WW. Pete Potts would like to see this bird
again and photograph it, if possible. There's a
challenge for Peter Milinets-Raby. R+WW was one of
those birds ringed way back in Nov 1998 that have not
been seen for certain for many years. Many of them are
assumed to be dead, though Pete says that 2-3 birds
are still alive from that Nov 1998 catch of c.95
godwits made at Farlington.
Pete also pointed out that these birds ringed many
years ago were fitted with the old style 7mm tall
'short rings' (other than the 14mm tall red left
tarsus 'marker ring'). Since then 14mm 'tall rings'
have been used. The white rings discolour to, or stain
to, dirty off-white/yellowish/orange with time as do
lime rings. See the photos above of G+WR with tall
rings and W+GR with short rings.
To try to
solve the problem of seeds falling from the feeders
hung from a tree in the garden and rotting on the
ground, I decided to remove the bird table, which had
previously provided my regular flock of Collared Doves
with their daily food supply. Success! Today, eleven
of them gathered around the base of the tree gobbling
up the fallen seeds. Early days, but let's hope it
OCTOBER 12 - 2017
is a shot I got of Black-tailed Godwit O+WL a couple
of years ago in Emsworth Harbour
Pete Potts has
resolved the mystery over the correct colour-ring
combination of the Black-tailed Godwit that has been
seen by Peter Milinets-Raby and myself over the past
week in Emsworth Harbour and at Langstone. Pete says
the combination is definitely O+WL and not R+WL. In
fact, R+WL has not seen since 2005 and is probably now
deceased. It also had small rings whereas the Godwit
that Peter and I have been seeing has tall rings.
showing clearly the orange ring on the bird's left
tibia in contrast to the red marker ring on its tarsus
photo of an Ivy Bee is on the left and Peter
Milinets-Raby photo of a probable Honey Bee on the
(Colletes hedera) were first seen in the British Isles
in Dorset in 2001, having arrived from continental
Europe. They feed exclusively on the nectar of ivy
flowers and to cash in on this autumnal bounty, they
emerge in mid- or late September and are on the wing
until early November. They are the latest solitary
bees to emerge and because there are so few other bees
around at this time of year, are easy to identify.
Look out for their distinctly banded abdomens. They
can look a bit wasp-like, due to the more pointed tip
of the abdomen.
Ralph Hollins provides
some useful sources of information about Ivy Bees . .
OCTOBER 11 - 2017
shows the difference between the Bar-tailed Godwit
with slightly upturned bill
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this
afternoon from 1:30pm to 2:38pm - tide coming in to
On the last patch of mud were: 10 Sandwich Tern, 2
Common Gull, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 71 Black-tailed
Godwit - O//R +WL//-, 8 Grey Plover, 4 Teal, 51
Redshank (-//B + B//YG & -//B + B//YL), 1
Greenshank, 1 Sparrowhawk.
and the Black-tailed Godwit with a dead straight
This photo captures
beautifully the Black-tailed Godwits in their alert
Off Conigar Point in
the distance were: 18 Grey Plover, 1 Turnstone, 4
Brent Geese, 17 Dunlin.
On the pond were: 44 Teal, 3 Juv/female type Tufted
Duck, 2 male and 1 female eclipse plumaged Shoveler,
20 Little Egret roosting, 4 Grey Herons.
A Green Sandpiper flew off from the reed bed and
headed to the flooded paddock.
Grey Wagtail on the paddock.
Brian's note on
Godwit O+WL: I have 13 records of colour-ringed
Black-tailed Godwit O+WL in Emsworth Harbour dating
back to 2010. It seems possible that the Godwit Peter
and I recorded as R+WL on 07-Oct and 09-Oct could be
O+WL. The right leg ring certainly looked red on the
bird I saw and photographed, though red and orange are
easily confused in the field. I have yet to hear
confirmation from Pete Potts.
managed to find a photo of the godwit in question.
But the upper ring, is it orange or is it
- Pete Potts
has resolved the mystery over the correct colour-ring
combination of the Black-tailed Godwit that has been
seen by Peter Milinets-Raby and myself over the past
week in Emsworth Harbour and at Langstone. Pete says
the combination is definitely O+WL and not
R+WL. In fact, R+WL has not seen since 2005 and is
probably now deceased. It also had small rings whereas
the Godwit that Peter and I have been seeing has tall
OCTOBER 10 - 2017
I had a walk
along the millpond promenade with my scope from 10.30
to 11.30 this morning. Dull conditions, quite chilly
in the strong breeze. The tide was well out and I was
on the look out for Brent Geese, but did not see any.
They always take some time to come into the inner
harbour. However, I did have the pleasure of seeing a
flock of 52 Black-tailed Godwits on the edge of
the main channel. Godwits regularly assemble at this
point as the tide rises. I could not see any
colour-rings, though many were in water. They are
easily visible from the millpond with the naked eye.
Another 5 Godwits were
feeding close to the millpond seawall, but again no
rings. Here is one of the close Godwits digging deep
There were also about
25 Turnstones feeding on the mudflats.
On the millpond itself I counted 2 Mute Swans, 22 Coot
and one Cormorant. I did not count the Mallard, though
there was no as many as usual.
John Jury was
at Nore Barn today where the regular colour-ringed
Greenshank (G+GL) was in the stream, with a Common
Redshank, but still no Spotted Redshank. It is not too
late, but I am getting increasingly despondent!
Sue Thomas was
interested to read about the mess the birds make
around my garden feeders in last night's blog. She's
had the same problem and felt more seed was being
wasted than eaten - exactly my feeling, Sue. Anyway,
she set about tackling the problem using her pottery
skills. She writes,
is one of my hobbies so I set to designing some
feeders that I hoped would produce less mess. I
started with niger seeders for goldfinches and made
them with a saucer on the base to catch seed. This
works fairly well. I believe you can buy plastic
feeders for niger seeds with a large detachable
saucer. Have you ever tried one of them?"
Brian's reply: Yes, I
have used niger seed feeders in the past, and with
saucers underneath to catch the dropping seeds. But I
gave up on niger seed many years ago, partly because
of the mess underneath the feeders and partly because
the Goldfinches preferred sunflower hearts. I think
many people have found the same.
I set to producing a feeder for small birds, and came
up with a round pot just with a hole for the seeds.
This works very well because the bird has to pop its
head right inside and so doesn't scatter the seeds so
much, but the downside is that it needs filling every
day as it's small."
Brian's reply: I like
this one. It is original and I have seen nothing like
it on sale. Will you make one for me, please? I would
love to give it a try.
I made a tall pot with lots of holes in it which I
fill with nibbled peanuts and mixed seed. No mess but
only suitable for Coal Tits, Great Tits and Blue Tits
but I'm not complaining about that! The Goldfinches
use all the feeders except this one and I think they
are the messiest birds. However, we have a regular
Woodpigeon, nicknamed 'the Hoover' and it clears up
all the fallen seeds under the feeding station.
Perhaps you should get one of those!?"
Brian's reply: That is
an interesting one. As there are no perches, I assume
the birds cling on while they grab some seeds. I can't
imagine Goldfinches going for this one! I agree, they
are the messiest of eaters. Concerning bird 'hoovers'
I have a small flock of Collared Doves that do a
reasonable job, though they don't keep pace with the
OCTOBER 9 - 2017
12 noon. I
cycled to Nore Barn in rising tide. A nice flock of
Black-tailed Godwits were on the mudflats. Common
Redshank, Greenshank (G+GL) and Black-headed
Gull were in the steam, but still no Spotted Redshank.
Three Curlew were a bit further out and their
haunting bubbling calls were constant.
A small flock of
around 25 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on
I managed to located
two colour-ringed birds among them as follows:
ROL+RLR - was ringed on 27-Oct-08 at Kingsnorth
Power Station, Medway Est. Kent as an adult male.
Today's sighting means the bird would be at least 10
years old. It has been a regular wintering bird in
Emsworth since then and this was my 97th in total.
R+WL - This is my first record of this
colour-ringed Godwit in Emsworth Harbour, though Peter
Milinets-Raby did report a colour-ringed Godwit in
Emsworth Harbour as R+WW on 07-Oct which could well
have been the same bird. Looking through my
Black-tailed Godwit records I do have some old
sightings of R+WL at Broadmarsh in year 2000. I also
have one other record by Ruth Croger in Jan-Mar-07 in
the Avon Valley. I will check this combination with
John's photo of
an Ivy Bee is on the left below and Peter's photo of
the Honey Bee on the right.
Honey Bees on Ivy flowers reported by Peter
Milinets-Raby on Oct 6th, John Norton thinks most of
these would have been Ivy Bees (Colletes
hederae), though the photo that Peter took for
the blog may well be a Honey Bee. John added,
that Ivy is in full flower, it is not unusual to see
large numbers of these gathering pollen. Usually they
have more distinctly banded abdomens and can look a
bit wasp like, due to the more pointed tip of the
There is some useful
info on the BWARS site: http://www.bwars.com/content/colletes-hederae-mapping-project
the time I did note a couple of these, but dismissed
them as funny wasps with the stripes and consequently
did not approach to take photos. I was using the
mobile phone to take pictures and was within 5 to 10
centimetres from the subject. There was, what looked
like a hornet also present, but this could have been a
hover fly. Again, I did not go near. I will look out
more carefully next time."
comment: Ivy Bees are completely new to me, so
thanks to John for pointing out this interesting
variation. It is always good to look closely at Ivy
flowers at this time of the year and I will certainly
OCTOBER 8 - 2017
In the garden
at present I have three seed feeders and two fat ball
holders hanging from the cherry tree with a bird table
and water bowl nearby. Lots of birds are attracted to
the feeding station, particularly Goldfinches, House
Sparrows, Starlings, Blue Tits, Great Tits and
Long-tailed Tits. The big problem with the feeders is
the seed falling to the ground and rotting there. I
had a good clear up this morning, digging out all the
smelly stuff and replacing it with fresh compost, but
I have done this before and it is bound to happen
again. I can't put any smooth surface down due to the
tree's roots. Goldfinches are the main culprits, but
House Sparrows also drop stuff.
I have recently
changed the composition of the seeds in the feeders
from pure sunflower hearts to a mixture of standard
bird seed and sunflower hearts. The reason for this is
that the birds were getting through a vast amount of
sunflower hearts which are very expensive! However,
this makes the droppings worse since the birds usually
reject the seeds in favour of the hearts. So, I can't
win! Any suggestions?
and Chaffinches are having a rough time. BTO reports
falling numbers over the past 10 years, mainly due to
disease. I have also seen their numbers go down in my
own garden. Greenfinches used to be my number one
garden bird with up to 20 birds on the feeders. Then
came the disease trichomonosis in 2007 which decimated
the population and produced a dramatic drop in
Greenfinches in the garden. Although there does seem
to be some sign of recovery, I only get the occasional
Greenfinch on the feeders.
Chaffinch numbers have
also been affected by trichomonosis. In addition, they
are subject to another disease affecting their legs.
Today, I noticed one of the two Chaffinches in the
garden had a white encrustation on its right leg.
According to the RSPB this is most likely to be
Chaffinch viral papilloma which is a virus specific to
Chaffinches, but is rarely fatal. It is caused by a
wound in the leg becoming infected and has low
contagiousness; birds need to be in close contact for
it to be passed on.
See . . . http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/f/902/p/9885/70731.aspx
I cycled over
to Nore Barn this morning to catch the rising tide. I
got there just in time to see a flock of 31
Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the mudflats
before they were pushed off onto the far saltmarshes,
too far away for me to see any colour-rings.
Fortunately, two of the Godwits came close to the
shore where I could get a nice photo of them feeding.
The only birds in the
stream were a Common Redshank and a Black-headed Gull
and still no sign of our regular wintering Spotted
Redshank. I am getting twitchy, but there is still
Later in the day, a
couple of fishermen in waders off the millpond seawall
caught my eye
French has had a male Sparrowhawk in her area (North
Emsworth) over the past couple of weeks and has seen
it shooting through the garden. Today, she was in luck
for the Sparrowhawk made a kill in her garden.
heard a 'bang' from the garden and when I looked out I
saw a Sparrowhawk standing on the back of a Collared
Dove in the flower bed. The Dove must have flown into
the fence in panic I should think. It was still alive
but thankfully didn't last more than a few minutes
once the Sparrowhawk had started tearing at the head
and neck area.
and I were careful not to disturb the Sparrowhawk but
were surprised that it took more than and hour and a
quarter to finish its meal, leaving little more than a
mess of feathers and a few entrails to show for it. I
noticed it seemed to deliberately discard the
entrails, or a least some of them.
I was surprised to go down the garden to the compost
heap about an hour later to find a new Collared Dove
corpse next to the remains of the first one! I didn't
see the Sparrowhawk this time, and assume it was
disturbed by me or something else. Either that or it
had eyes bigger than its stomach and decided it
couldn't quite manage two whole Collared Doves in one
afternoon after all.
can see from the photos, it started on the head, then
the back. This is the same pattern as with the first
bird, before it progressed to the tail area and
finished by turning the bird over and eating the
breast. I hoped the Sparrowhawk might return for the
second bird, but it didn't, and is presumably too
heavy for it to carry away. It will be interesting to
see whether the Hedgehogs eat it tonight."
What a fascinating
story, Caroline. Please keep us posted on any
Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington shore this
morning from sunrise (7:15am to 8:48am - A very, very
In the cemetery to start with were 2 Jays, a Coal Tit
and a Kestrel.
In the hedgerow beside the Ibis field, I had brief
close views of a Firecrest as well as a Chiffchaff.
Heard flying over were 3+ Meadow Pipits.
Along the hedgerow behind Conigar Point I encountered
another Chiffchaff and had a Siskin fly over.
In the mini reed bed behind Conigar Point I heard a
Water Rail and a Cetti's Warbler
Off Conigar Point there was virtually nothing, just 7
Teal and 4 Great Black-backed Gulls. After a scan I
discovered the culprit for the lack of birds, which
was a handsome adult Peregrine perched on one of the
red marker posts. It was still present when I left the
shore at 8:30am!
Conigar Point also held 5 Shelduck, 10 Brent Geese and
2 Sandwich Terns. Flying over on migration I had 3+
Meadow Pipits and 3 Skylark.
Off Pook Lane I had a further 16 Skylarks flying over
heading south east, along with 2 Meadow Pipits.
Off shore were 8 Greenshank, 8 Grey Plover, 7
Black-tailed Godwit, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, 6
Dunlin, 15 Little Egrets feeding in the trickle of
water and resting on the mud were 7 Sandwich Tern.
Perched on the hedgerow and along the fence posts were
2 male Stonechat (see pic of one)
Emsworth at high tide
(2pm ish) Tufted Duck female on the Emsworth Mill
Pond, with 6 Buzzards in the air at once and a single
Sandwich Tern and 3 Great Black-backed Gulls in the
That was the first Tufted Duck of the winter on
Emsworth Millpond. Six Buzzards - what a sight!
OCTOBER 7 - 2017
Milinets-Raby visited Emsworth Harbour this morning
from 7:10 to 8:28 in awful weather, with a fine
drizzle and blustery wind and very low tide. The
details as follows:
7 Little Egret, 4 Greenshank in the trickle of stream
by the wall of the town, 1 Lapwing, 33 Black-tailed
Godwit (R+WW), 6 Turnstone, 23 Brent Geese, 4 Canada
Geese, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Great Black-backed Gull.
Mill Pond held 25 Coot, 2 Mute Swans, 5 Cormorants
feeding together and in the outflow stream was perched
Beacon Square: Just a Chiffchaff heard in the
Nore Barn: Usual coloured ringed Greenshank (G+GL) in
the stream with a Redshank and Little Egret. 3
Black-tailed Godwits nearby and 3 Shelduck further
out. Flying over I heard 1 Siskin.
Brian's note: I
have no previous records of colour-ringed Black-tailed
Godwit R+WW in Emsworth. I will check with Pete Potts.
reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife
Group at Chidham, which included the following
Hornet feeding on Ivy
For the full report
go to . . . Havant
- 2017 reports
OCTOBER 6 - 2017
Milinets-Raby made a couple of visits today. The first
was from 9am to 9:30am to Langstone Mill Pond - tide
Off shore 11 resting Sandwich Tern on the mud. Feeding
along the tide line were a single Bar-tailed Godwit
and a single Greenshank (G//R + BR//-). Further out
were 5 Brent Geese and 6 Teal.
On the pond were 17 Teal, 2 juv/female type Tufted
Duck, an eclipse plumaged male Shoveler. Flying over
were heard only Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Pied
Wagtail. Calling from the reeds was a Cetti's
A Kingfisher was seen briefly dashing inches above the
pond, along with 2 Swallows (a late date for this part
of the world - possibly the last of the summer).
In the paddock was a Grey Wagtail and a lovely charm
of 55+ Goldfinch.
visit was to Nore Barn from 2pm to 4pm - high tide,
until the last 30 minutes, when the tide fell
A Peregrine was dashing about over the marsh - seen a
couple of times during the two hour visit.
Three Sandwich Tern were feeding off shore for the
entire two hours.
Also present 2 Shelduck, 8 Brent Geese and in the
stream a single Little Egret.
In the gardens I had one calling Chiffchaff, a
laughing Green Woodpecker.
As the tide dropped away, in flew 14 Greenshank from
Thorney Island (RG//- + BY// & G//R + GR//- &
G//R + GG//-), along with 5 Dunlin and 33+ Curlew. In
the Beacon Square part of the shore were 9
Black-tailed Godwit and a flock of 67 Brent Geese were
seen heading into Emsworth Harbour. Noted flying over
on migration were 1 Siskin, 2+ Meadow Pipits and 2+
photos: Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral and Honey Bee -
all on Ivy flowers
spell of weather along with the opening of the richly
scented nectar Ivy flowers has produced an exceptional
emergence of butterflies. During his visit to Nore
Barn, Peter Milinets-Raby noted that one Ivy bush held
7 Red Admirals, a Peacock, a Comma, 2 Whites and 40+
Honey Bees!! Along the whole stretch of back gardens,
he had a further 8+ Red Admirals, another Peacock, 3+
Whites and a further 15+ butterflies flying across the
water. An impressive number.
Susan Kelly was also struck by the number of
butterflies she saw on Western Parade. Eleven Red
Admirals and innumerable bees were feeding on the
flowers of a big clump of ivy. What a valuable plant
is Ivy at this time of the year.
OCTOBER 5 - 2017
I had a walk
along the beach where Golden Samphire was still
I went over to
Nore Barn on a falling tide this afternoon. I stayed
for about an hour from 2.30 to 3.30 as the tide fell
and the stream gradually emptied, but there was no
sign of our regular Spotted Redshank. The only bird
feeding was a Common Redshank. I am getting a little
anxious, though there is still plenty of time for our
Spotted Redshank. Last year it was not seen until Oct
There are thousands of
Acorns everywhere, including on the beach
where they are difficult to distinguish from the small
checked last night's blog entry and thinks the
Ichneumon Fly that I identified as Pimpla
rufipes is, in fact, Apechthis
compunctor . The ovipositor looks too short
and stout for Pimpla and in the second photo certainly
appears to be down curved at the tip which is the main
feature to separate the two species. The Brook Meadow
one also has orange coxae whereas in Pimpla these are
generally dark to almost black.
For more details see .
. . http://www.naturespot.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/british-ichneumonid-wasps-id-guide.pdf
Bryan added that
strictly speaking, these are Ichneumon wasps not
flies, they belong to the hymenoptera. He has never
understood why some books call them ichneumon flies.
Thanks Bryan. Point taken.
pointed out that my 'moth' is actually a Caddisfly -
looks like Limnephilus auricula, but
this is a notoriously difficult group with only a few
identifiable in the field.
Bryan adds, "This
species is one that I took recently on a survey and
have been able to compare your photo with my specimen.
It's a pretty good match. Note the wing membrane of
yours is quite glossy in appearance, whereas in a moth
they would be matt due to the complete covering of
scales that make up the colour patterns. In
Caddisflies the wings have a covering of fine hairs of
variable density depending on
found a small flock of Brent Geese from path at the
north end of Old Hayling Billy Line. I have not seen
any in Emsworth Harbour as yet, though Susan Kelly did
see a small flock a few days ago. They should be in
the harbour in the next couple of weeks.
Evans went out with the Havant U3A birdwatching group
main sightings on our walk to and from Cobnor Point
were: half a dozen Swallows, a heard but not seen
Green Woodpecker, a brief glimpse of a Sparrowhawk,
regular sightings of probably the same Kestrel, Meadow
Pipits, a pair of Reed Buntings, a lone Whinchat,
about a dozen Redshank, a small number of individual
Little Egrets, a couple of Lapwing, two Grey Herons, a
pair of Mute Swans and a small number of Brent Geese
in the main part of the harbour. Down by the point and
out of the wind it was quite glorious and a good site
for our coffee/lunch stop. What remained of the sand
spit off the point (it was high tide by then) was
densely packed with Oystercatchers, Curlew and Grey
Plovers, whilst a lone Sandwich Tern perched on a
nearby post. Approaching the point, two or three of us
had a brief sighting of a Harbour Seal, whilst
throughout the walk we saw a number of Red Admiral
butterflies, at least one Peacock butterfly and a
single Clouded Yellow."
OCTOBER 4 - 2017
down the raised path adjacent to the river on Brook
Meadow this afternoon, I noticed a single stem of
Common Nettle shaking, which was puzzling when
everything around it was still. At first, there seemed
no obvious cause for the shaking. However, there was a
black fly with bright orange legs and an ovipositor
was on the uppermost leaf and appeared to be trying to
lay eggs on or into one of the nettle leaves. The
photo on the left shows the fly with the ovipositor
and the photo on the right shows it seemingly laying
When I got home, a
little research in my insect books and on the internet
led me to identify the fly as an Ichneumon Fly
called Pimpla rufipes. The fact that it
appeared to be egg laying along with its thick and
short ovipositor clearly indicated it was a female.
Pimpla rufipes is quite common and widespread in
England and Wales. It is an autumn species and
predates butterfly and moth larva, laying an egg in
Back to the shaking
Nettle leaves, I could see some were bound together in
a cocoon and, when I prised it apart a little, the
origin of the shaking became clear. Inside the leaf
cocoon was a butterfly chrysalis hanging down and
distinctly shivering, probably due to the attempted
egg laying by the fly. Here is a photo of the
chrysalis which I think is a Small Tortoiseshell,
though Peacock is possibly.
During the walk
through Brook Meadow this afternoon I had the pleasure
of seeing a Kingfisher flash beneath the north
bridge where I was standing, going north. I walked
gingerly around the north path, but did not see any
more of the bird. Kingfishers are fairly common along
the river and over the millponds at this time of the
year as they have come down to the coast for the
winter period. No chance of a photo of today's bird,
but here is a cracker that Malcolm Phillips got on
Brook Meadow a couple of years ago.
Walking back through
Palmer's Road Copse a brown moth flew across
the path and landed on a plant allowing a photo to be
taken. Its wings were closed at rest and it has long
antennae. I have not identified it as yet.
OCTOBER 3 - 2017
Jean and I had
a walk around the town millpond this morning after
coffee in Flintstone's. We found the resident millpond
Mute Swan pair on patrol at the wall near Slipper
Sailing Club, as in previous years, defending their
millpond nesting territory from another pair lurking
just outside in the harbour.
Last year the resident
pair built a nest of sorts near the road bridge, but
no eggs were laid as far as I am aware. Maybe, this
year? The aggressive behaviour of this pair is the
main reason for the absence of the once regular flock
of 100 or so swans on the pond.
I scanned the harbour
for Brent Geese that Susan Kelly reported yesterday,
but none was to be seen. Walking back down Bath Road
we stopped to admire a Holly bush by the
millpond covered with bright red berries. Is it a good
year for them?
It seemed as
if Red Admiral butterflies were everywhere
today, enjoying in the warm sunshine; I saw one over
the millpond, two on the Ivy flowers at Nore Barn, two
on Brook Meadow, four on the Michaelmas Daisies near
Gooseberry Cottage and two on the Verbena flowers in
my back garden. I also saw several Peacock
butterflies at some of these locations. How it lifts
the spirits to see such beautiful butterflies. The Red
Admirals are unlikely to survive the winter unless it
is very mild, but the Peacocks should find somewhere
warm to hibernate. Here are the best photos of the
we received a letter from the Environment Agency
warning us of river channel surveys to be carried out
along the River Ems over the next 3 weeks which might
involve entry onto our land. I am not sure why we got
that letter as our house in Bridge Road is outside the
area designated for the surveys, which appears to be
confined to the Ems Valley north to Walderton. Anyway,
as Brook Meadow in inside the surveying area, I was
not surprised to find two surveyors at work by the
sluice gate when I walked through this afternoon. I
had a brief chat with them and they confirmed they
were contracted to the Environment Agency.
Surveying is OK as far
as it goes, but what is really needed on Brook Meadow,
is a good clearance of the burgeoning vegetation in
and around the river. I have never seen the river in
such a bad state over the past 20 years; in fact you
can hardly see the river at all except from the
bridges. Surely, clearance of in channel and bankside
vegetation would help the flow of water as well as
improving the habitat for Water Voles which we would
all like to see back on the river.
Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this morning
from 9am to 9:47am - tide nearly in. On the pond were
2 female/juv type Tufted Duck along with 37 Teal.
Roosting out the high tide were 14 Little Egrets and 2
In the reeds in the north section of the pond were 5
Chiffchaff, a autumn plumaged male Stonechat
and a Cetti's Warbler creeping about singing
quietly to itself.
In the flooded paddock were 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Pied
Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a Buzzard perched on one
of the fence posts.
OCTOBER 2 - 2017
Andrew Brown and Ralph Hollins for identifying the
brown moth in yesterday's report. It is called 'The
Snout' (Hypena proboscidalis)
A common species
throughout Britain, this moth can often be found in
numbers around dusk, flying over patches of the
foodplant, nettle (Urtica dioica). It is on the wing
from June to August, and again later in the autumn,
and is a common occurrence at the light-trap. It
occurs on waste ground, gardens, woodland and other
places where nettle occurs.
See . . . https://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/hypena-proboscidalis
enjoyed seeing the photos of the Oak galls in
yesterday's blog, particularly the golden doughnut
shaped ones, which are his favourite. They are called
Silk Button Galls and are caused by the little wasp
Neuroterus numismalis. John said they
used to be quite common, but have become quite scarce.
alternation of generations and the agamic generation
(female only) that emerges from these galls is
fascinating and you can find lots about them online.
In spring the females emerge from these galls and lay
their eggs by parthenogenesis (i.e. without the need
for fertilisation, since there are no males) into the
buds of oak leaves. These buds later form what are
called blister galls and produce the spring/early
summer generation which is bisexual. After mating
these new females lay their eggs on the undersides of
oak leaves and so we are back to autumn again. The
autumn is a great time to look for plant galls,
especially on oaks - leaves, buds, stems and acorns
are all galled, mostly by the various species of tiny
Cynipid wasps you mentioned.
way, some of your readers may not quite appreciate
that the size, shape and colour of galls is a
modification of the growth of the host plant caused by
chemicals either (depending on species) from the
female when she lays the eggs or from the mouthparts
of the larva as it eats its plant host tissues from
the inside. Also, the way a gall looks, the species of
hostplant and (usually) the location on the host plant
are all specific to the species of insect causing the
gall. Other organisms also cause galls, e.g. mites and
fungi. The well known Witch's Broom gall in birch
trees is often caused by a fungus Taphrina betulina
for example, though there are many other candidates
for causing this gall."
Susan Kelly is
pretty sure she saw Brent Geese in Emsworth Harbour
this morning. A flight of about 15, and another larger
group in the distance. This is almost certainly the
case. I have been expecting them as they have been in
the area for a couple of weeks, but always take time
to come to the inner harbours. Susan did not have her
camera at the time, but here is a shot of a flock of
Brent Geese in flight that I got a few years ago at
taken on Brook Meadow a few years
Susan had an
excellent walk from Westbourne to Stansted on
Saturday. She went through Hollybank woods and
Southleigh forest, up the lane past the stable to the
sawmill, then had coffee at Stansted house before
coming back via Sindles Farm. She says, "The highlight
was a Nuthatch only a few yards away going quite
bonkers with what sounded like an alarm call. I
couldn't see any threat (unless it was me), but the
tree also had a dozen or so tits flitting around, so
it was perhaps warning them off. Also a nice sighting
of a Jay, and a Fallow Deer and fawn in the garden of
a house on Hollybank lane, nonchalantly eating the
OCTOBER 1 - 2017
Meadow - Work session
tackling the undergrowth around the
There was rain
in the air for the work session this morning led by
Dan Mortimer with just 5 volunteers attending. They
had a productive session clearing the vegetation from
around the Rowans on the east side of the north meadow
which were engulfed by vast growth of Bindweed,
Bramble and Nettles. We counted 20 large Rowans which
were planted in 2005 and 6 small Rowans which were
planted fairly recently. I think it would be a good
idea to give this area a regular cut throughout the
year with the power scythe to prevent this happening
in the future and to allow the Rowans to show to their
For the full report
and more photos go to . . . https://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/
During the clearance
around the Rowans I came across a light brown
moth fluttering around. Any offers
Thanks to Andrew Brown
and Ralph Hollins for identifying the moth. It is
called The Snout Hypena
proboscidalis. A common species throughout
Britain, this moth can often be found in numbers
around dusk, flying over patches of the foodplant,
nettle (Urtica dioica). It is on the wing from June to
August, and again later in the autumn, and is a common
occurrence at the light-trap. It occurs on waste
ground, gardens, woodland and other places where
I heard my first Wren
song for several weeks. Meadowsweet is still in flower
near the Rowan plantation. Common Fleabane is hanging
on here and there. Wild Angelica standing tall and in
flower on the south meadow. Dock Shield Bugs
conveniently on Dock leaves.
I had a look
at the Oak saplings on the Seagull Lane patch which
are all growing well. Here is a snap of the
Pedunculate Oak that I planted in Year 2012 with the
Red Oak donated by the Wilkinson family in memory of
Tony in the background.
The under sides of
leaves of the Pedunculate Oak were spotted with
spangle galls, seemingly of different varieties. I am
most familiar with the flat disc galls which have a
slightly hairy central elevation. The other galls,
more numerous on this leaf, are ball-shaped with a
slight depression in the centre.
Here are close-ups of
them both through my microscope.
The galls are produced
by a Cynipid Wasp which lays its eggs on leaves and
the gall develops grows around the developing larvae
which feed on the leaf. The galls mature at this time
of the year and fall to the ground before the leaves
themselves. The larvae continue to develop in the
fallen spangle and, protected by the leaf layer, they
overwinter before emerging in the spring as adult
reports seeing a Water Vole this morning swimming
across the channel between the reeds in the north end
of Peter Pond. This is good news, so let's hope this
indicates the start of a new generation that may
disperse to the River Ems. However, the river at
present of seriously overgrown and hardly presents a
welcoming sight to any wandering Water Voles. It needs
a good cut and clear out.
the previous month go to . . . September