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for January 2017
(in reverse chronological order)

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Hollybank Woods
I had an hour to spare this morning so I decided to try out my new Derry boots for a walk in Hollybank Woods. It was certainly very wet, but the boots were excellent. Incidentally this is now my 4th pair in about 20 years. I parked on Emsworth Common Road and did a short circuit in the north-east sector. I have not been in the woods for a few months and it was so good to walk along the eastern bridleway with the trees glistening and the birds singing, notably Robin and Great Tit.

There were masses of Sweet Chestnut husks beneath the trees, indicating a bumper autumn harvest which I missed.

Young Andrew was not in his usual work area, but he is still very busy cutting stakes, etc. He also has erected a gazebo to shelter from the rain since I was last here.

Wandering around this area, I noted plenty of bright green Bank Haircap moss which I can identify.

Nearby I found another green moss (or liverwort?) with crinkly edged leaves growing on a dead twig which I recognised as familiar, but could not identify. My very tentative guess is Marchantia polymorpha though I would appreciate help.

Return of the winter Blackcaps
It is now well known that a population of Blackcaps over winter in UK gardens and research evidence provided by the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme has established a firm link between increased in Blackcaps over wintering to both garden feeding and warmer temperatures. See . . .

More recently, there was excitement in November when a Blackcap fitted with a tiny tracking device was recaptured by Glynne Evans in his Hampshire garden where it was tagged nine months earlier. Preliminary analysis of the tag data indicates that the bird left Britain at the end of March and spent the summer in France, before returning by early November. But is this pattern the exception, or the rule? And why did this bird decide to come north for the winter when it was already in southern France? BTO hope to find the answers to these questions and many others as the project continues. See . . .

For a general summary of this fascinating project on the movement of Blackcaps organised by BTO, and Oxford and Exeter Universities see . . .

Personally, I have not seen any wintering Blackcaps in my Emsworth garden, though I certainly have had them in previous years. However, Barrie Jay has had a female in his Waterlooville garden - see blog for Jan 22.


Nore Barn
I had a walk around Nore Barn this afternoon. The tide was right out, so no chance of Spotted Redshank. I walked along the north path looking in vain for Firecrests. Came back through the woods where Robin and Great Tit were singing strongly. Coming back along the south path, my attention was attracted by a small group of Brent Geese feeding quietly on the shore, so took a few snaps.

Eric Eddles popped up to where the Great Salterns jetty once stood on the west side of Langstone Harbour and saw these two Avocets and a Spotted Redshank (no photo).


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby managed to time a dry, but gloomy visit to Langstone Mill Pond late this afternoon 3:50pm to 4:21pm - tide very low.
Off shore: The highlight was the sight of a huge Brent Goose flock flying off the fields at Warblington and landing on the muddy shore. I took several photos and counted them at leisure at home. I could not see any odd looking geese amongst them! 544 Brent Geese, 36 Lapwing, 16 Teal, A pair of Pintail, 5 Turnstone, 4 Grey Plover,
On Langstone Mill Pond: 1 singing Cetti's Warbler, 1 Teal, 2 Mute Swan.
In the flooded horse paddock - fast drying out: 32 Teal (see photo), 14 Moorhen, 1 Grey Heron, 4 Oystercatcher, 1 Green Sandpiper, 15 Magpie, 1 Buzzard perched on one of the fence posts.

Spillage in the Ems
On Saturday Jan 27, Juliet Walker noticed what appeared to be an spillage of oil in the River Ems just by the north bridge. Very psychedelic and photogenic maybe, but not good for wildlife.

The oil, if that is what it was, has now gone, but we would appreciate any information as to how it got into the river and where it came from. Please contact Maurice Lillie at . . .


Garden Hawfinch
Jo Bray & David Wagland did an hour's Big Garden Birdwatch this morning in their Westbourne garden with some interesting results. Although some of their 'regulars' failed to appear, like Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Collared Dove, they were rewarded with two exceptional birds .... Hawfinch and Redpoll! The Redpoll happily shared the nyger seed feeder with the Goldfinches

While the Hawfinch ate sunflower seeds from the bird table.

The Redpoll is perhaps not entirely unexpected, but to get a Hawfinch in the garden is in my experience totally amazing! I have certainly never seen a Hawfinch in my garden, nor have I ever heard of anyone else seeing one. In fact, I can't recall the last time I saw one anywhere!
However, a quick internet search indicated that there has been an unprecedented influx of them into this country this winter due, it is thought, to a seed crop failure on the continent. So it might be worthwile keeping a special look out for one in your garden - or elsewhere! Read more at . . .

Warblington shore
Peter Milinets-Raby I visited the Warblington shore this morning 7:40am (8 minutes before sunrise) to 10:14am high tide, slowing going out.
Warblington cemetery: Jay heard.
Ibis Field: 1 Moorhen, 2 Long-tailed Tits, Grey Wagtail Heard,
Rotting wheat stems pile: 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 3 Roe Deer and a Fox.
In field behind Conigar Point: 12 Skylark.
Conigar Point: 1 Little Egret feeding along the shoreline (see photo),

41 Wigeon (nice and close until dog walkers flushed the feeding flock (see photos),

51 Brent Geese (one juvenile in this flock), 40 Shelduck, 863 Dunlin (amazing tight flock feeding on the first bit of exposed mud), 29 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Red breasted Merganser.
Off Pook Lane: 270 Brent Geese, male and female Goldeneye, 46 Wigeon, 65 Teal, 14 Shelduck, 4 Grey Plover, 171 Dunlin.
Flooded Paddock north of Langstone Mill Pond: No godwits, 11 Wigeon, 7 Oystercatcher, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 pretty and lonesome Curlew, 19 Teal, 11 Moorhen, 1 Redshank, 3 Grey Herons collecting sticks, 2 Foxes.
Langstone Mill Pond: 3 Teal,
Grey Heron colony: Five nests up and running, one with possible young, two clearly sitting on eggs and the other two not far from starting: Details below:
Top of Holm Oak: Looks like tiny chicks present, but not seen. Male visited twice while I was there.
Lower down Holm Oak: Male bringing sticks to the nest, female sitting on nest helping to rearrange
Other Holm Oak Very top nest on right side: adult sitting tight on nest
Nest Number 9: Adult sitting tight on nest, just forehead and bill sticking out - on eggs no doubt
Nest 10: Adult standing on this nest.


Firecrests at Nore Barn
Peter Milinets-Raby had already alerted me to the presence of Firecrests along the path north of Nore Barn Woods, so this afternoon at about 2pm I made my way there, but, I must admit, more in hope than expectation of seeing these tiny active birds whose voices are way too high for my aged ears to pick up. Fortunately, Peter was already in place on the path with his scope and camera and as soon as I arrived he pointed out a male Firecrest in a bush on the edge of the path. Wonderful.
Peter told me he had found another male Firecrest about 70 metres further along the path Peter found along with 2 Goldcrests and 2 Long-tailed Tits. And again, about 70 more metres further along by 2 or 3 small Holly trees by the path he had discovered an active pair of Firecrest. Peter said these birds are in great habitat and maybe tempted to stay to breed and wouldn't that be exciting! So in total four birds. A great record for this part of the world.

Here is Peter's cracking photo of a male with flaming orange crown and white 'eyebrow'.

Peter went off to count the birds in the harbour while I mooched slowly along the path stopping here and there to examine the bushes. I saw at least another one Firecrest along the path, plus a Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tits. Here is my best effort at a Firecrest. It looks more like a female with yellow crest and greenish back. At least you can see what it is!

The Spotted Redshank was a much easier bird to photograph in the stream.

Harbour birds
Here is Peter's report of the birds in the harbour: Spotted Redshank (regular bird) in the stream, 246 Wigeon, 79 Teal, 10 Pintail, 94 Brent Geese, 2 Shelduck, 18 Grey Plover, 22 Turnstone, 10 Dunlin.
In the distance off Beacon Square were 285 Brent Geese, 93 Wigeon, 1 male Pintail and 100+ Dunlin (did not have time to count)

Colour-ringed Godwit
Pete Potts sent through details of the history of the colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit WNG+YRY that Peter Milinets-Raby saw yesterday at Langstone.
It was ringed on 07-Feb-15 by the Axe Estuary Ringing Group. It has been recorded many times subsequently in the Solent area, mainly at Titchfield Haven. The last sighting was on 27-Jul-16 at Titchfield Haven, so its appearance in our local area was a bit out of the blue.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had a very brief visit to Langstone Mill pond late this afternoon 3:15pm to 3:45pm - still drizzle and high tide.
Nothing on the pond except 2 Mute Swan, 40+ Mallard and a single Little Egret. So concentrated on the flooded paddock which is fast becoming a mini Avon Valley.
52 Teal, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Grey Herons, 7 Oystercatcher, 1 Greenshank, 1, Redshank, 4 Wigeon, 185+ Black Headed Gulls, 7 Common Gulls, 1 nice looking Curlew, 12 Moorhen, 1 Grey Wagtail and 22 Black tailed Godwit (including Ringed bird WNG//- + YRY//- from the other day). Great stuff.
Brian's note: I don't know this colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit, but will ask Pete Potts.


Emsworth Millpond
For my regular constitutional, I had stroll around the town millpond in light drizzle this morning. It was good to see the regular Goosander on the pond, constantly diving and accompanied by a small group of Black-headed Gulls, no doubt hoping to snatch any bits the duck misses. This is the 10th week that this handsome bird has been in Emsworth since it was first sighted by Peter Milinets-Raby on 16-Nov-17.


Brook Meadow
I donned my wellies this afternoon for a rather squelchy walk around Brook Meadow. Annoyingly, the deep puddles revealed a leak in one of my boots which will need replacing. However, it was an interesting, though uneventful walk.
The view of the river from the north bridge is much improved followed the clearance work on the bankside by the conservation group. Maybe, it will help to attract back our missing Water Voles.

More good work by the conservation group can be seen in the two laid hedges near the river which have been recently spruced-up.

Good to see the first signs of Cow Parsley flowering on the Seagull Lane patch with white buds starting to unfurl and the first blossom on the Cherry Plum tree on the causeway - which Roger Mills alerted me to a couple of days ago.

Most of the Osier twigs on the trees on the east side of the north meadow have been removed by the conservation group for hedging, but those remaining are showing catkins opening. The new Alder sapling that was planted by the group near the Lumley Stream a few years ago has plenty of old cones from last year and new cones forming for this year as well as new leaf buds.

There is a fresh growth of Jew's Ear fungi on a dead stump of a Crack Willow tree on the east side of the river. This is a fairly common fungus on the meadow.

Finally, while walking back up the main path a Kingfisher flew low up the river towards the north bridge. I crept towards the bridge and managed to get a few shots before it flew off under the bridge. The photo shows the bird as a male Kingfisher with all black mandibles; a female would have a red lower mandible.

Garden birds
I am very envious of the birds that Barrie Jay sees in his Waterlooville garden which include several that I rarely see in my Emsworth garden. Here are some photos he sent of the stars, all taken in the past week.
Barrie has a resident pair of Bullfinches but both are male! No sign of females. He says Goldcrests are quite common this winter - sometimes 3 at a time flitting about! The female Blackcap was just a passing visitor. Has anyone else had Blackcaps in the garden this winter? A Song Thrush has taken up residency for the winter.



Garden birds
The past week was a fairly average one for birds in my garden. I recorded a total of 16 species as follows: Blackbird 2, Blue Tit 1, Chaffinch 6, Collared Dove 5, Dunnock 1, Goldfinch 9, Great Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, House Sparrow 6, Long-tailed Tit 4, Magpie 1, Robin 2, Starling 12, Stock Dove 1, Woodpigeon 3, Wren 1. I also saw a Kestrel flying overhead, though I cannot count this in the Garden BirdWatch scheme as it did not land or obviously feed.

Long-tailed Tits love the fat balls. Goldfinches always go for sunflower hearts

The most interesting bird of the week was the Stock Dove that appeared today feeding with a Woodpigeon. I got a photo through the window which shows the distinctive iridescent neck with no collar, back eyes and short dark bands on the inner wings. Up to last year Stock Dove was a rare bird in my garden, not seen at all until 2013, but 2017 was an exceptional year with sightings on 9 weeks with a maximum of 2 at any one time. Today's was the first sighting of 2018.

The Havant Wildlife Group met in Bridge Road car park yesterday (Jan 20) for their walk in Emsworth. I was sorry I was not well enough to join them. However, despite the wet weather they had a great time and Emsworth certainly lived up to its rightful reputation as one of the best birdwatching spots in the country! Here is Fay Durant's report along with a few photos of the highlights.

"Eight brave souls met on a very grey, misty, damp morning at Bridge Road car park. ( The venue had to be changed due to the state of the terrain.) I had no great expectations of the morning but it turned out to be quite exceptional . We started off along the west shore of the mill pond, noting how much cleaner it looked. There was the usual collection of mallards , coots and swans then Ros saw the flash of a Kingfisher and it landed on a low branch of a bush, hanging down in front of the pond wall and there it stayed for all to admire! Photo by Steph Dale.

When we reached the sailing club we turned west towards Nore Barn. The tide was well out but a large group of dunlin were noted, also wigeon, shelduck, pintails, oystercatchers and a few grey plovers. Plenty of Brent geese, of course. Later very good close ups of oystercatchers and wigeon.

We approached the famous stream where the spotted redshank was slowly making its way to where we were. It seemed to have no fear of us and came really close, walking across the pebbles, providing an excellent opportunity for good photographs.

We proceeded further along the shore and saw four black tailed godwits, curlew, redshank, teal and on our return a great crested grebe. As we turned inland, at the edge of the wood, quick sighted Heather saw two birds flash by: a goldcrest and a firecrest , the latter seldom seen. Glimpses of these birds were seen again, further on, and the firecrest actually flew up from our feet. We stood by the gate leading to Warblington church and, whilst looking for grey wagtail, a nuthatch was noted on the thick branch of a tree, beside the stream. It was busy throwing moss off the branch, looking for insects. It remained for a long time.

We walked a little way up the path opposite and heard song thrush etc but no sign of bullfinches. Walking back, eastwards, Heather saw some greenfinches. We had seen numerous sparrows, dunnocks, robins and blackbirds during the walk plus blue tits, great tits, long tails, goldfinch, crows and a wren. Later a sparrowhawk was seen diving in to the woodland. We had a nice coffee break sitting by the waters edge, with ducks etc in the background . Photo by Sue of some of us gathering for coffee at Nore Barn, left to right Stephanie, Heather, Fay and Helen.

When we returned to the mill pond we saw the elusive goosander and another good siting of the kingfisher - twice in one day!

Plus a dab chick. In the wood we had seen a very nice bush of butchers broom with red berries and one flower noted. Photo by Heather from her phone.

Also in the lane a good number of common horsetail. Celandine were starting to flower. My, what a morning and the moral being, never let the weather put you off! Thanks to all those who made the effort to turn out "


Emsworth late afternoon walk
After a day shopping and arting (in the Pallant Gallery) in Chichester, I had a late afternoon walk to Nore Barn. By the time I arrived (4pm) the tide was well out, but the Spotted Redshank was still present feeding in the low water channel downstream. I could not resist taking a couple of shots of it in the late afternoon sun.

Walking back round the millpond I counted 36 Coot on the water. A fair winter gathering, but far less than I have counted in some previously. My record count was 186 in January 2011, but numbers have been generally below 100 in recent years.

Most Coot stay in Britain over the winter period and tend to form quite large flocks at reservoirs and gravel pits, such as Chichester Gravel Pits. These home based flocks are added to by birds from Scandinavia, especially around the southern coast, and the winter population can then be up to half a million birds.

Pied Wagtails were prominent around the edge of the pond as is usual near dusk. They must roost somewhere local, though I don't know where.

I found colour-ringed Greenshank RG+BY feeding and preening in the low water channel near the quay. This is an old friend frequently seen in Emsworth Harbour. First seen on 04-Apr-13 and subsequently each winter in total 21 times.

This was one of 3 Greenshanks that Pete Potts and his team caught at Thorney on 19-Mar-13 and fitted geolocators to the blue rings. The geolocator has since been removed.

Langstone, Nore Barn, Warblington
Peter Milinets-Raby was "All over the place today, with gaps in my schedule at odd times of the day" Here is the report . . .

Langstone Mill Pond from 8:57am to 9:32am - tide pushing in:
Off shore: 67 Brent Geese, 4 Red breasted Merganser, 38 Teal, 10 Wigeon, 91 Shelduck, 1 Great crested Grebe, 1 Ad winter Med Gull.
Pond: Adult Grey Heron on lower Holm Oak nest.
Flooded horse paddock: At the rear in the bramble hedge 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Firecrest.
12 Little Egrets. 1 Greenshank G//R + BR//-, 8 Black-tailed Godwit (one with colour rings WNG//- + YRY//- Amazingly I have seen 46 individual colour ringed Godwits, BUT not this one!!
7 Oystercatcher, 38 Teal, 2 Grey Heron, 11 Moorhen, 3 Pied Wagtails, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Curlew, 1 Redshank.
Nore Barn 12:12pm to 1pm - tide high, but slowly dropping.
Roosting were 1 Redshank, 1 Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshank (see below for details and photos). 312 Brent Geese (all lovely and close by the real Conigar Point and no Black Brant - however, more importantly this flock contained 2 juvs). 51 Teal, 1 Kingfisher feeding from the trees that overhand the water from Nore Barn Wood, 1 Great crested Grebe, 7 Shelduck,
By the real Conigar Point: 1 Skylark, 1 male Reed Bunting, 9 Stock Doves.
Warblington 1:30pm to 2:16pm
Field west of the cemetery: 1 Cattle Egret, 8 Little Egrets.
Field south of the cemetery: 42 Curlew, 15 Oystercatcher.
Field west of black barn: 311 Brent Geese. Contained 7 juveniles and one very dodgy goose that had about 30% Black Brant in it.
Off Pook Lane: 1 female Goldeneye, A further 84 Brent Geese close along the shore.

Two Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn
Peter Milinets-Raby had two Spotted Redshanks during today's visit to Nore Barn. It is not unusual to find two there, but Peter provides photos to help distinguish the regular bird from the occasional visitor. Peter says the regular Nore Barn bird is the one with darker, thinner loral streak through eye: wider white eye-brow, extending further beyond the eye and a shade darker than the other bird - the regular bird is on the right.

Peter checked my recent video (Jan 14) and thinks this IS the regular bird, the pale Spotted Redshank we sometimes see is the intruder. See . . .

Peter also got two other nice photos one showing the two Spotted Redshanks with the regular Greenshank G+GL and a Common Redshank and the other with one of the Spotted Redshanks having a big yawn!

Brian Lawrence also got a shot of what looks like the regular Spotted Redshank today.

I think the one I saw later in the afternoon may have been the regular bird too, though the light was poor - see photos above.

I have a special page dedicated to the history of the Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn and lots of photos
Go to . . .
Spotted Redshanks at Nore Barn

Swans at Bosham
Brian Lawrence had a walk around Bosham yesterday and found a large flock of Mute Swans. He counted 33 but may have been more. Maybe that is where the Emsworth Millpond birds have gone to?


Nore Barn Greenshank
Russell Tofts got this rather nice shot of the regular colour-ringed Greenshank G+GL in flight at Nore Barn today. The left leg green ring over the red marker ring can be seen, but not the right leg rings.

Warblington Peter Milinets-Raby had another spare hour late this morning, so popped down to Warblington 11:10am to 12:30pm - high tide and windy.
Even less geese today, so not surprising the Black Brant did not show. I will have to check on the weekend at low tide, when it is quieter. At least 7+ birders milling about scaring everything off, the Brent were very jumpy! No idea where all the geese have gone. I will have to do a complete check of our area this weekend.
In field west of cemetery: 19 Little Egrets, 1 Cattle Egret, 20 Oystercatchers,
In field west of black barn: 79 Brent Geese (no juvs in this small flock). This flock was disturbed twice in the hour I was present. They only flew to the shore.
In field one further west from here (viewed from Pook Lane): 49 Curlew - a good number
On the shore: 58 Brent Geese, 39 Wigeon, 1 Great crested Grebe.
Cemetery: 1 Redwing, 1 Jay, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Green Woodpecker.
Not very exciting.


Peter Milinets-Raby visited Warblington this afternoon from 1:30pm to 2:37pm: He could not find the Black Brant, which was again reported today. His visit was as follows:
Field to the west of the cemetery: 13 Little Egret, 1 Cattle Egret, 8 Oystercatchers,
In the field one further west: 10 Curlew.
In the field south of the cemetery: 231 Brent Geese. The flock contained 3 juveniles (see photo). The birds were beautifully spaced out and not a dodgy goose amongst them.

Compared to yesterday's total, there were 120 Brent missing, obviously containing the Black Brant.
On the shore (high tide turning): 16 Brent Geese, 40 Wigeon, 21 Grey Plover, 109 Dunlin, 1 Great crested Grebe, 4 Shelduck, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Lapwing, 1 Black-tailed Godwit.

Don't forget to view Peter's Report of the Birds of Warblington & Emsworth 2017 at :


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Langstone Mill Pond late this morning just as the rain eased 11:30am to 12:35pm. High tide. Here is the report . . .
Off shore: 7 Red Breasted Merganser. Only 6 Brent Geese. The "flock" was on the fields at Warblington where I counted 349 Brents.
Towards the end of my visit I heard a report of a Black Brant at the Cattle Egret field. I looked through the flock again, four times at least and could not find anything in the flock. Mind you I was viewing the field from the Langstone shore, so the bird could be in the flock still. In the past I have picked out Black Brant from here!! It must be the one reported only a couple of times this winter from south Hayling. The geese have only just started to use the fields in the last two weeks and I personally believe that Black Brant prefer grass to mud!! So it is certainly possible. I noted that the north Hayling Field viewable from Langstone was packed with Geese, at least 400+. I think the Hayling flock have moved north! No sightings of Black Brant from Hayling via Andy Johnson. The bird maybe the one from Farlington seen last week?

Here is a shot of a Black Brant that Peter got a few years ago at Warblington

1 Buzzard over the Sweare Deep pestered by Lapwing. 12 Shelduck, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, Pond: Top Holm Oak. Watched the pair of Grey Herons swap incubating duties. 2 male Shoveler.
Flooded horse paddock : oozing birds!!! A record Teal count of 162, An amazing 39 Little Egrets (not quite my best count). 3 Grey Heron, 5 Wigeon, 1 Greenshank - usual G//R +BR//-, 6 Oystercatcher, 3 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Green Sandpiper, 15 Moorhen, 3 Pied Wagtail, 6 Redwing, 1 Chiffchaff at the rear hopping along the fence vegetation.


Nore Barn
I popped over to Nore Barn at 12 noon - about 2 hours after high water. The tide was still well in and the stream fairly full. However, the ever faithful Spotted Redshank was feeding as usual, first on the edge of the stream, then among the seaweed on the shore as the tide receded.

There was also a good 200 or so Brent Geese honking loudly at times in the bay, before they all took to the air in a fine spectacle that reminded me of a Peter Scott painting. It was good to meet up with Neil Foster and his wife (sorry forgot name) for a chat about birds and the amazing longevity of the Saturday walks group.

I made a short video of the Spotted Redshank feeding and Brent Geese in the distance which can be seen on YouTube on the following link . . .


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby visited Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon 1:14pm to 2:38pm - drizzle and low tide. Here is his report . . .

Off shore: 97 Teal, 20 Wigeon, 21 Grey Plover, 187 Dunlin, 1 Knot, 4 Great crested Grebe, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 male & 1 female Goldeneye, 2 Turnstone, 1 male & 2 female Pintail, 7 Red Breasted Merganser, 4 Lapwing, 84 Shelduck, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Common Gull, 54 Brent Geese - must be all on the fields on north Hayling! 1 Greenshank
Langstone Mill Pond: 2 Mute Swan, Grey Herons Top Holm Oak - pair swapped round and checked and turned eggs then sat down tight.
Flooded Horse paddock : (I had a Water Pipit here on 10th, but I could not find it today)
1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank, 1 very nice looking Curlew, looking surprisingly like a Curlew (probably the same one that has been here all year). 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Meadow Pipit (probably the same as the other day, feeding with the Water Pipit), 9 Moorhen, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 6 Oystercatcher, 4 Redwing, Jay heard.

Birds of Warblington & Emsworth 2017
Peter has finished his Birds of Warblington & Emsworth Report for 2017 which can be found at the following link. It is in a pdf file format download. Any comments welcomed.


Brook Meadow
I had a walk through Brook Meadow and down to Peter Pond on this very pleasant morning with the sun shining and feeling warm for a change. I half expected to see a butterfly, but no luck. However, birds were singing as if it was spring, including Woodpigeon, Wren, Carrion Crow and several Robins, one of which I managed to capture on camera.

Hazel catkins are now fully open in the north-east corner of the north meadow.

The Gorse bush is in full blossom on the causeway . . .

from where one gets a nice view of the tall, leafless and very pale Black Poplar trees.

I was surprised to find 6 Mallards (4 males and 2 females) in the Lumley pool, having strayed from their regular haunt on Peter Pond. They will be getting frisky any time now.

Coming back towards home along Bridge Road I was not surprised to see a few flowers of Lesser Stitchwort snuggled underneath the old Beech hedge. They must have been flowering all winter.

Godwit showing 'rhynchokinesis'
Ralph Hollins passed on details of a Black-tailed Godwit with a flexible upper mandible, called 'rhynchokinesis' seen and photographed at Arlington Reservoir in Sussex on Jan 7. Rhynchokinesis is defined as a form of jaw mobility found in some birds in which the end of the upper mandible can be raised or lowered independently of the rest of the bill. Is this an advantage to the bird or a deformity?

The BTO says January is the peak month for seeing Goldeneyes. Favouring large lakes, gravel pits and sheltered sea bays, Goldeneyes can be encountered throughout Britain and Ireland in the winter months. If present in mixed sex flocks, it is possible to see the male Goldeneye performing their striking courtship display . . .

Here is a nice shot of two males and a female Goldeneye by Derek Mills at Fareham

Goldeneye was only recorded breeding for the first time in Britain as recently as 1970. Since then, the population has expanded, with the aid of special tree mounted nest boxes, and now numbers around 200 pairs. The majority are found in the Speyside region of northern Scotland with breeding records from Chew Valley, Somerset and Northumberland, and summering birds occurring elsewhere.


Brook Meadow work session
I went over to the meadow this morning for the regular 1st Sunday in the month work session. It was bright, but cold with a biting northerly wind. 11 volunteers assembled at the new tool store for the initial briefing by Maurice Lillie.

The main job was to rebuild the dead wood fence near the S-bend. Sticks were collected from different parts of the meadow and also cut from the Osiers. They will sprout afresh.

During the work, one group of volunteers came across a cluster of
Jew's Ear fungi growing on the end of a small twig.

Car park litter picking
When I got back from Brook Meadow this morning I decided to continue the litter picking in Bridge Road car park that I started yesterday. Litter was literally everywhere in the car park, beer cans, plastic bottles, wrappers and take-away coffee cups and lots of other messy stuff. It's amazing what people chuck out of their car windows. I collected no less than 6 large bags full of rubbish plus an old lorry tyre.

In fact, Norse (HBC that was) do collect litter from Bridge Road immediately outside the car park, but don't do the car park itself. I think it must have something to do with the designation of the grass wayside as a wildlife conservation area. This is silly and I am hoping to persuade Norse to alter the litter pickers routes to include the car park.

Emsworth to Langstone
Peter Milinets-Raby walked from Emsworth to Langstone Mill Pond this morning and was joined at Nore Barn by John Norton. His report follows . . .

"I started at Beacon Square at 7:45am (20 minutes before sunrise): 72 Brent Geese, 51 Dunlin.
Emsworth Harbour: 26 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 56 Canada Geese by the town and all left before the sun came up. 8 Teal, 9 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 14 Lapwing, 148 Brent Geese, 1 Ringed Plover, 34 Shelduck, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, 6 Knot, Colour ringed Redshank (-//G + G//YG) - usual bird.
On Emsworth Mill Pond: 1 Goosander, 2 Cormorants. I did not count the Coot, as the bitter north east wind was impossible to deal with!!!
Nore Barn from 8:34am: Tide too far out for any decent counts. 45 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 34 Brent Geese, 8 Shelduck, 2 Grey Plover.
Warblington from 8:50am: 1 Cattle Egret with 14 Little Egrets in the field west of the cemetery, though they did all walk through holes in the hedge and go into the field west of the black barn, when the cattle wandered into this field! 4 Redwing in trees in cemetery.

Rotting Wheat mound in big field behind Conigar Point: 3 Pied Wagtail, 7 Meadow Pipits, 1 Water Pipit - eventually showed well in the scope alongside 3 Meadow Pipits. 1 Grey Wagtail, 9 Skylark, 15 Stock Doves.
Conigar Point: 6 Wigeon, 9 Brent Geese,

Off Pook Lane: 1 male and 2 female Pintail, 10 Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank, 51 Brent Geese with 3 juvs. And 6 in the field south of the cemetery - low numbers as most were on North Hayling fields. Adult winter Mediterranean Gull, 48 Shelduck, 12 Red Breasted Merganser, 2 Great Crested Grebe,1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Turnstone, 4 Black Swan - they were swimming from the east and then settled down in one of the gullies near the Wade Lane path - tide slowly coming in. 120+ Dunlin.
Wade Lane from 10:42am to 11:35am. 2 Little Egret, 1 Mistle Thrush.

Flooded horse paddock north of Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Oystercatchers, 2 Redshank, 1 very nice looking Curlew, Male Kestrel, 2 Pied Wagtails, 4 Moorhen, 5 Redwing (see photo), 3+ Song Thrushes.

Langstone Mill Pond: 2 Teal, 1 Little Grebe.
Off shore by the pub - Pook Lane: 103 Teal, 11 Common Gull, 2 Sandwich Tern, Plus probably the same adult winter Med Gull from earlier.
And the usual colour ringed Greenshank in the stream outflow - G//R + BR//- No tag now. Did we ever get info back on this bird???

Godwit update
Anne de Potier says the Black-tailed Godwits have pretty much vanished from our shore. As is typical at this time of year after a lot of rain they have relocated to the north side of Pagham Harbour. This afternoon she found ROL+RLR and several of the others that have been seen locally this autumn feeding busily in the creek just below the Salthouse as the tide rose. Fortunately she was able to stand in shelter and feel warm!

Black Swans
Christopher Evans got a photo of the 4 Black Swans at Langstone this afternoon. These are presumably the same birds that Peter Milinets-Raby reported this morning.


Millpond birds
I struggled along the main promenade by the town millpond this morning against a fierce SW wind. A Little Grebe was fishing in the harbour by the seawall, buffeted by the waves. Meanwhile, on the calmer waters of the millpond itself a male-female pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were fishing and displaying - the first I have seen here this winter, though they are regular winter visitors.

Finally, to crown it all, coming back along Bath Road I had an excellent view of the juvenile Goosander fishing and preening. It has now been on the millpond and surrounding waters for the past 6 weeks since it was first seen by Peter Milinets-Raby on 16-Nov-17. Here is a selection of shots I got of the Goosander preening and swimming.

Here is a link to a 1 min 30 sec video clip on YouTube of the Goosander busily preening itself . . .


First Celandines
It was pleased to see my first Lesser Celandines of the year in flower on the bank of the Westbrook Stream as I walked through Bridge Road car park this morning. I had my camera, so snapped them.

This is quite early, though Ralph Hollins spotted his first Lesser Celandines on Hayling Island way back on November 14th, which is his words were "probably the earliest of my life!"

Winter Red Admiral
I also spotted a Red Admiral fluttering around the garden this afternoon. Although it was sunny the air temperature at 10 degrees C was pretty chilly. I did not get a photo, but here is a late flying Red Admiral that Malcolm Phillips got on Brook Meadow a few years ago.

Large numbers of this attractive butterfly migrate here from N Africa and continental Europe each spring and summer. The immigrant females lay their eggs producing a fresh emergence of fresh Red Admirals from July onwards. They continue flying into October or November, but very few manage to survive our winters, except here in the far south where we are privileged to live. The Red Admiral has for some time been regarded as an all-the-year-round butterfly.

Marine life at marina
John Arnott had a walk down to Great Deep this afternoon and on the way went through Emsworth Yacht Harbour where lots of pontoons were out of the water while the Yacht Harbour is being dredged. These pontoons were encrusted in calcareous tube worms, hydroids (sea firs), bryozoans (sea mats), sponges, sea squirts, a few barnacles, some mussels and a few oysters (Pacific unfortunately). John did not have his camera but thought it is a fascinating opportunity to see marine life that is normally hidden from us.
He thinks the tube worms may be the same species that grow on Slipper Millpond. These are called Bristle Worm (Ficopomatus enigmaticus) which can be seen as coral-like structures when the pond is drained.

Unusual Pheasant
Chris Oakley sent a photo of an unusually coloured Pheasant that has appeared in his friend's garden in Nutbourne and wonders if anyone knows why it is that colour. Moulting, maybe?


Warblington Cattle Egret
Today, Peter Milinets-Raby decided to have another look at the settled Cattle Egret. Peter reports . . .
"The Cattle Egret now has a favoured field as the farmer has at long last moved the cattle into the field west of the cemetery. Still very flighty, as are the regular wintering flock of 16 Little Egrets. The birds spook easily. Well, with two reports of this bird on Going Birding in as many days, I wasn't surprised to find nine very wet birders wandering around the farm looking in vain for the egret. It wasn't on show, probably seen by the first long gone birder on the scene, flushed as is its tendency and disappeared into the big field to the east of the barn and thus out of sight! I had a quick chat and decided to go elsewhere away from the crowds!"

Here is Peter's photo from last week - taken from the car, one quiet morning.

Peter also had a walk along Langstone Mill Pond. He reports . . .
"I was rewarded with a Black-throated Diver (my first in this area and obviously will have to go in next years report!!!!). The bird was really close to start, then moved further out. When it was under the water, it emerged yards away, so was very mobile. I note that two were seen off Broadmarsh this morning, so it could be one of these, but it could just as likely be the one from Black Point area. The Hayling Bridge is a bit of a barrier, but you never know."

Other birds of note were - high tide, 8 Shelduck, 17 Dunlin.
Pond: Grey Heron seen mating again on the top of the Holm Oak. I wonder if the first clutch failed, as the birds have been together on this nest for the last week.
There was nothing else on the pond. All the birds were in the flooded horse paddock: 67 Teal, 14 Little Egret, 5 Grey Heron, 14 Moorhen, 8 Wigeon, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Oystercatcher, 1 Redshank, 3 Pied Wagtails, 19 Mallard.


Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby had an unhurried walk (with just a pair of binoculars) around Emsworth this afternoon, even stopping off for coffee and ice cream (he had his son Aleksandr with him): From 12:48pm (still drizzle at this point) until 2:45pm Peter saw the following:
Nore Barn: (Tide still in, so little to see): 227 Brent Geese, 2 Cormorants, Male Red Breasted Merganser.
Then we walked from Beacon Square around the Mill pond to the cafe: Beacon Square: 47 Brent Geese, 1 Sandwich Tern, On the way back when the tide dropped - 50+ Dunlin.
Emsworth Harbour: 1 Sandwich Tern, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Skylark passed over, 3 Greenshank along the wall by the town, On the way back when the tide dropped - 30+ Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover and a Kingfisher perched on one of the yachts.
Emsworth Mill Pond: First winter Goosander showing well a couple of times - can be very confiding - see photo. 1 Little Grebe.

Back at Nore Barn: - just too busy with thousands of dogs (oh, and yes people) and tide well out: Redshank and a Dunlin in the stream - nothing else. Duck flighty - 40+ Wigeon, 20+ Teal and 2 Shelduck.
Noting down everything (well it was Jan the First), I actually saw a total of 46 species during my short little walk. Happy New Year!

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