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for October 2017
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Two Spotted Redshanks
Mark Wagstaff 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".

Here are Mark's photos of the two Spotshanks and the regular colour-ringed Greenshank.

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 stream.

Brent Goose count
Regarding the '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.


Emsworth Harbour
10:00-11:00 - 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.

Some of the roosting Godwits at Nore Barn

I found three colour-ringed birds among the Godwits, but only one seen fully with both legs:
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 it.
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 03-Jan-17.

Godwits G+GY and ROL

Brents galore
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.

Sue's photo of some of the Brent Geese in the harbour.


Nore Barn
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 G+GL.

Stansted Forest
Heather Mills reported on the Havant Wildlife Group walk in east Stansted.

They found Parasol mushrooms.

For Heather's full report (lots of birds) see . . .


Tern island success
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.

Here is a shot I got of the raft in June with Common Terns nesting and a few chicks
A Black-headed Gull can be seen in the foreground

Pochard decline
To investigate 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 breeding grounds.

A male Pochard that I took a few years ago on the millpond. A rarity!


Emsworth Harbour
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.


Morning walk
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 a photo.

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.

Green Woodpecker
Keith Wileman 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 favoured food.


Emsworth Harbour
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.

Brents are here!
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.

Nore Barn
Pushing my 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.

The Spotted 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 . . . Spotted 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.

Kestrel sitting pretty
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"

Here is one of the two that Peter sent me. Well done for taking the opportunity to get a fine shot.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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.

Brian's 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 Moorhens.


Nore Barn
4.30pm - 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

Interestingly, the 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.

Here are the two Brent Geese I saw today . . .

Emsworth to Warblington
Peter 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 Coot.

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 Plover.


Earthstar fungi
While walking 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.


Brook Meadow Workday
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.

Two unidentified insects: hoverfly and bush-cricket.

Ralph Hollins comments: "My guess at your hoverfly is Sphaerophoria scripta Long Hoverfly) - see

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."

Sorry, there's been no blog recently, but I have been out of action due to a nasty fall.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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 calling.


Emsworth Harbour
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 waders.

23 Black-tailed 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 years.

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.

More on ringed Godwits
Peter 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.

Garden birds
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 works.


Colour-ringed Godwit resolved
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.

Here is a shot I got of Black-tailed Godwit O+WL a couple of years ago in Emsworth Harbour
showing clearly the orange ring on the bird's left tibia in contrast to the red marker ring on its tarsus (ankle).

Ivy Bees
Ivy Bees (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.

John Norton's photo of an Ivy Bee is on the left and Peter Milinets-Raby photo of a probable Honey Bee on the right.

Ralph Hollins provides some useful sources of information about Ivy Bees . . .


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon from 1:30pm to 2:38pm - tide coming in to high.
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.

Peter's photo shows the difference between the Bar-tailed Godwit with slightly upturned bill
and the Black-tailed Godwit with a dead straight bill

This photo captures beautifully the Black-tailed Godwits in their alert mode

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.

Peter managed to find a photo of the godwit in question.
But the upper ring, is it orange or is it red?

LATE NEWS - 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.


Emsworth Harbour
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 for food.

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.

Nore Barn
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!

Garden Bird feeders
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,
"Pottery 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.

Sue continues, "Then 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.

Sue again: "So 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 droppings.


Nore Barn
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 the mudflats.

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 Pete Potts.

Ivy Bees
Regarding the 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, "Now 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 abdomen".

John's photo of an Ivy Bee is on the left below and Peter's photo of the Honey Bee on the right.

There is some useful info on the BWARS site:

Peter's comment: "At 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."

Brian's 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 do so.


Garden Bird feeders
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?

Finches in decline
Greenfinches 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 . . .

Nore Barn
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 time.

Later in the day, a couple of fishermen in waders off the millpond seawall caught my eye

Garden Sparrowhawk
Caroline 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.

Caroline writes:
"I 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.

Ray 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.

As you 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 developments.

Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Warblington shore this morning from sunrise (7:15am to 8:48am - A very, very low tide).
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 harbour.

Brian's note; That was the first Tufted Duck of the winter on Emsworth Millpond. Six Buzzards - what a sight!


Emsworth Harbour
Peter 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 a Kingfisher.
Beacon Square: Just a Chiffchaff heard in the gardens
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.

Heather Mills reported on this morning's walk by the Havant Wildlife Group at Chidham, which included the following sightings.

4 Grey Partridge

Bar-tailed Godwit. Curlew.

Hornet feeding on Ivy flowers.

For the full report go to . . . Havant Wildlife Group - 2017 reports


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby made a couple of visits today. The first was from 9am to 9:30am to Langstone Mill Pond - tide out.
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 Warbler.
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.

Nore Barn
Peter's second visit was to Nore Barn from 2pm to 4pm - high tide, until the last 30 minutes, when the tide fell away.
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+ Pied Wagtails.

Butterflies galore
This warm 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.

Peter's photos: Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral and Honey Bee - all on Ivy flowers



Nore Barn
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 11.

I had a walk along the beach where Golden Samphire was still flowering.

There are thousands of Acorns everywhere, including on the beach
where they are difficult to distinguish from the small pebbles.

Ichneumon Fly
Bryan Pinchen 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 . . .

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.

Caddis fly
Bryan also 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 genus/species."

Brent Geese
Mike Wells 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.

Chidham walk
Christopher Evans went out with the Havant U3A birdwatching group to Chidham.
"The 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."


Ichneumon Fly
While walking 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 eggs.

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 each one.

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.


Millpond News
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 day.

River surveys
This morning 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.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter 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 Grey Herons.
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.


The Snout Moth
Thanks to 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 . . .

Silk Button Galls
John Arnott 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.

He added, "The 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.

By the 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."

Brents arrive
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 Pagham Harbour.

Woodland walk
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 lawn."

Nuthatch taken on Brook Meadow a few years ago.


Brook Meadow - Work session
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 best effect.

Volunteers tackling the undergrowth around the Rowans

For the full report and more photos go to . . .

During the clearance around the Rowans I came across a light brown moth fluttering around. Any offers welcome!

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 nettle occurs.

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.

Oak galls
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 insects.

 Water Vole
Dan Mortimer 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.

For the previous month go to . . . September 1-30