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'Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day' (Ralph Hollins)

for January 2020
(in reverse chronological order)

Send wildlife observations and photos to Brian Fellows at . . . brianfellows at

Blog Archives . . . from 2015 to current


Elisabeth Kinloch
The funeral of Elisabeth Kinloch took place at Warblington Church this morning. Pam Phillips, Jennifer Rye and myself were present, representing the Brook Meadow Conservation Group of which Elisabeth was an important member in the early years of its development. Verity Ingram from Gooseberry Cottage adjacent to Peter Pond was also present. It was good to meet up with David Gattrell and his daughter Emma. David has managed Peter Pond on Elisabeth's behalf for the past 30 years or so and we trust this arrangement will continue.
For a short appreciation of Elisabeth with some photos go to . . .

In Lieu of flowers the family have set up a fund to plant trees at Peter Pond in Elisabeth's memory. David tells me they are likely to be disease resistant Elms in the copse to the north of the pond where there is already an abundant growth of young Elm suckers which sadly never grow to maturity due to Dutch Elm Disease.
If you wish to donate go to . . .


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby was out this morning for a short wander around Langstone Mill Pond from 9:05am to 10:21am - Low tide. His report follows . . .
A beautiful bright sunny morning allowing some photos to be taken of a Great Spotted Woodpecker that was feeding very distantly at the rear of the pond (See photo).

Other birds on the pond were 12 Teal, 2 Grey Herons loitering and the adult still sat on Nest 14. A Kingfisher dashed across the pond, upon which were two pairs of Tufted Duck (See photo).

A buzzard drifted over and headed inland to the trees along Wade Lane.
Off shore there were 26 Lapwing, 118 Brent Geese, 85 Shelduck, 44 Teal and a female Red Breasted Merganser,


Garden Blackcaps
I have news of Blackcaps reaching our area, so keep a look out for them in your garden. My son had a female Blackcap in his Cowes garden on Saturday for the RSPB Birdwatch and John Walton had both male (black cap) and female (brown cap) in his Waterlooville garden today.

I have not seen any as yet in my Emsworth garden. These wintering Blackcaps come from the continent and are a quite different population to the summer visitors from Africa that breed here. They are particularly partial to red apples and Victoria sponge cake!


Emsworth Harbour
Peter Milinets-Raby visited the Emsworth end of his patch this morning. It was dull, very grey and cold. 8:11am to 9:55am. Tide coming in. This was the the only bit of colour encountered on such a dull, grey day.

Beacon Square:10 Grey Plover 197 Dunlin 10 Wigeon 60 Brent Geese 3 Teal 1 Shelduck
Emsworth Harbour 11 Wigeon - a new monthly maximum, beginning to spread from Nore Barn. 9 Teal, 143 Canada Geese, 560 BrentGeese, 127 Dunlin, 1 Little Egret, Great black-backed Gull, 9 Lapwings, 13 Shelduck, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Red breasted Mergansers, 5 Grey Plover.
On the pond were 10 Coots and a female Red breasted Merganser showing well and close, but too dark to get any decent photos - shame.
Nore Barn: Greenshank with rings (G//R + GL//-) in stream on its own!!!!!??????. No Spotted Redshank. 2 Turnstone 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Shelduck, 272 Brent Geese, 58 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover, 265 Wigeon - excellent count, just a few shy of a record. 109 Teal, 1 Grey Heron over.
Still no Pintail. This is usual the peak month, so not looking promising. I hope this is just a blip and they return next year? Or is this reverse global warming? This time last year there were 33 Pintail in the area - 20 at Nore Barn and 13 at Conigar Point.


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby had an hour visit to Langstone Mill Pond this morning from 9:04am - tide was high, the sea as flat as a pancake and misty!!!!

Off shore were 68 Brent Geese feeding next to the wall by the pub (See photo) Plus 19 Teal, 39 Wigeon, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 55 Shelduck and 5 Red Breasted Mergansers.

On the pond were a pair of Tufted Duck, 15 Teal, a Kingfisher dashed from one section to the other and the first signs of spring . . . . A Grey Heron was sitting very tight on Nest 14 (Just its beak showing) with its mate towering above standing on the edge of the nest. A third Grey Heron was loitering with intent. I suspect that Nest One must have a sitting bird as well, as they are usually the first pair to get going!


Swan pairs galore!
I had a walk down to the Hermitage Millponds this morning where I found no less than three pairs of Mute Swans, one on Peter Pond, one on Slipper Millpond and a third on Dolphin Lake.

Mute Swan pair on Peter Pond

Mute Swan pair on Slipper Millpond

Mute Swan pair on Dolphin Lake

All three pairs were swimming around peacefully while I was there, though I suspect there will be friction between them as each tries to establish territorial nesting rights.
The best nesting site is certainly Peter Pond where swans have nested successfully for many years. Peter Pond became vacant when the pen swan of the previous owners was discovered dead last autumn. The remaining cob stayed around for a while and we had hopes of his finding another partner, but I believe he left, or was driven off, by an incoming pair which now appear to be establishing themselves on the pond. I have seen courtship behaviour and mating in the current Peter Pond pair so I am hopeful that this pair will settle down to nest. One element of uncertainty concerns whether the swans have reached breeding maturity which is usually at age 4-5 years.
Slipper Millpond is generally not a favoured nesting spot, though a pair of Swans has occasionally nested in the reedbeds on the east side of the pond. It is unusual for swans to nest on both ponds simultaneously, though it has happened a few times in the past. Nesting for swans on Slipper Millpond has been extra difficult in recent years with the presence of Great Black-backed Gulls and Canada Geese nesting on the floating rafts. However, a determined pair could make it happen.
As for the third pair of swans, there is no suitable nesting site on Dolphin Lake. The nearest nesting place would be the embankment near the entrance to Emsworth Marina where a pair has nested successfully in previous years, though not recently. It is certainly not impossible that all three pairs will nest in the area; this has happened, though not in recent years.

Hairy Garlic
On the way home from Slipper Millpond I walked along the path behind Lillywhite's Garage and was pleased to see a fresh growth of Hairy Garlic (Allium subhirsutum) at the eastern end of the path.

These unusual plants have been growing at this spot for many years and can be easily identified from the hairy leaves (from which the plant gets its common name). These leaves give off a faint garlic aroma when crushed.

The only other Hairy Garlic I know of in the Emsworth area are along the path north of Nore Barn - see this blog entry for Jan 9 for photo.

Magpies galore!
Eric Eddles had a sight to behold opposite his house with a dozen Magpies. The 'One for sorrow, two for joy' rhyme only goes as far as 10. Does anyone know what 12 might be?


Peter Milinets-Raby had a good wander around Warblington this morning for a couple of hours from 9am. The tide was going out. His report follows . . .
In the fields to the west of Castle Farm there were 14 Little Egrets, 22 Redwings, Fieldfare 5 Stock Dove, 5 Song Thrush and eventually I found just 3 Cattle Egrets.
In the big field out to the east were 4 Brent Geese and 5 Skylark.
In the straw dump were 5 Pied Wagtails, 2 Rock Pipits, 3 Water Pipits and 1 Meadow Pipit.

Photos of Water Pipits

Off Conigar Point - 246 Brent Geese, 50 Shelduck, 51 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 58 Grey Plover as the tide dropped along with 593 Dunlin and 2 Knot. 1 Great Crested Grebe. 3 Red breasted Mergansers.

Brian's note: Peter captured this interesting cloud formation off Conigar Point in the morning sunshine. I think this is a cumulonimbus front - please correct me if not.

Off Pook Lane: 24 Golden Plovers, 11 Lapwings, 1 male and 2 female Goldeneye, 1 Sparrowhawk. 2 Ravens calling softly to one another drifted over from north Hayling and headed north inland. 70 Dunlin, 156 Brent Geese, 37 Wigeon, 11 Grey Plover, 4 Meadow Pipits, Also I heard a Whimbrel call - Just could not locate the culprit - shame.

A nice clump of Snowdrops in Warblington Cemetery.


Sweet Violets
The first Sweet Violets are starting to flower in the usual spot on the grass verge on the north side of Warblington Road east of the junction with Valetta Park. Give them a couple of weeks and they will be quite wonderful!

Good to hear that Redwing are back in the local area with the onset of winter weather. Christopher Evans spotted this fine fellow in the bushes alongside the horse paddock next to the stables opposite the end of Thornham Lane.

Stansted Forest
Valerie Mitchell reported on this mornings walk by the Friends of Wildlife group
A group of 10 met at Stansted House Garden Centre car park on a sunny, cold morning, with blue skies.

We walked along the bridleway in front of Stansted house, then continued up Rosamund Hill, keeping an eye out for any hares in Hare Warren, through the woods, across the field to Lumley Seat, along Monarch's Way and back to the Pavilion to enjoy coffee sitting out in the sunshine at the end of a very pleasant morning
At the beginning of the walk, we stopped to admire the Highland cattle in the field

Everything was very peaceful and quiet, the sun highlighting the clumps of old man's beard at the top of the trees, the short willow catkins and the long catkins on the hazel, yellow in the sunshine, the very small cones on the larch trees were well defined against the blue sky, and the shiny white bark on the silver birches was gleaming.
A marsh tit could be seen on the path ahead of us and we watched it until it flew up into the tree, blue, coal and long tails were also spotted. Green woodpecker and Jay were heard. Whilst watching a buzzard in the distant trees, a hare was briefly seen disappearing at the edge of Hare Warren. Nuthatch, tree creeper, goldcrest, wrens, robins, blackbirds, goldfinches, jackdaws, pheasant, spotted woodpecker and thrush were also seen.

For more information about this wildlife group go to . . . Havant Wildlife Group

Thorney Island
Romney Turner had a walk down Thorney Island as far as the sluice at Great Deeps. She saw a female Harrier quartering the field of reeds on the main road opposite Thornham Lane - into the sun so not the greatest photo.

Romney also saw a male Goldeneye on its own diving in the sea and on the way back a collection of about 10 Tufted Ducks snoozing on Little Deeps.


Brook Meadow Workday
There was a good turn out of volunteers for this morning's conservation work session led by Reg.

The weather was fine, though rain was forecast and did come at the end of the session. The main task was to cut away the undergrowth around the small trees on the south side of the north path

and to remove the cuttings to the Seagull Lane patch for a future bonfire.

This work will benefit the general area by giving space for the trees to grow and small plants to flourish, as well opening up the view of the meadow from the north path. A large area was cleared of brambles and other undergrowth but more work needed for completion.

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

Elisabeth Kinloch dies
Pam passed on the news from David Gattrell that Elisabeth Kinloch had died over the Christmas period aged 97 years! She had been ill with dementia for many years and had been cared for at her home in Westbourne. Elisabeth is the owner of Peter Pond and we trust David will be able to carry on with his excellent management of the pond. Elisabeth was also an active member of the committee of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group in the early days of the group. She was also a distinguished architect and designed the present Emsworth Surgery. I plan to make a tribute page for Elisabeth on this web site, so would be grateful for any appreciations and memories from those who knew her.

Here is a nice shot I got of Elisabeth and David together
on Peter Pond in 2008 before her illness.


New swan pair
This afternoon I walked through Brook Meadow which was very wet after the heavy rain; lots of small branches and twigs were down and the south meadow flooded with the south gate locked by the Environment Agency.
Down at Peter Pond a pair of Mute Swans were clearly indulging in courtship behaviour with close contact, synchronous dipping of heads into the water and at one point and attempting to mate.

My guess is that they are a new pair to the pond and the old cob, who lost his mate, has departed or been driven off. Several others including Dan Mortimer, Brendan Gibb-Gray and Pam Phillips have reported a new pair in addition to the old cob which was nowhere to be seen today. But things could still change, so please keep looking!

These video clips show the courtship behaviour and mating activity.

Courtship behaviour . . .

Mating behaviour . . .

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby went out at Noon and as expected, there was nothing blown in after Brendan past through. The tide was nearly high.
Off shore from the Langstone Mill Pond were 200+ Brent Geese, 26 Wigeon, 4 sleeping Red Breasted Merganser that floated inshore with the tide. They drifted close for a half decent photo

On the last bits of sea marsh were 28 Lapwing, 9 Redshank and 1 Greenshank (NR//- + YY//- Seen last year in July).
On the pond were 2 male and a female Tufted Duck. Not much else.
The flooded paddock was truly flooded after yesterday's relentless rain (see photo via phone - the white blobs are the egrets). Probably the most water I have seen in seven years!!!

In the paddock were 2 Grey Herons, 8 Little Egrets, 98 Teal and 2 Wigeon,
Finally, as the tide pushed in I found a Great Northern Diver in the distance off Conigar Point, enjoying diving for crabs. Also out there was a single Great Crested Grebe.

Red-breasted Mergansers
Christopher Evans reports six Red-breasted Mergansers were near the sluice on the western side of Thorney this afternoon. One of the males was nice and close the females less so.

Also in the same general area was a pair of Goldeneyes but they were too far away for a decent photo.


New swan pair?
As I passed by Peter Pond this morning at about 11am I was interested to see a pair of Mute Swans feeding together near the Hermitage Bridge. Is this a new breeding pair? There have been hints of a new pair for a few weeks, but this looked fairly serious! We shall need to keep an eye on them for signs of courtship behaviour. Pam Phillips says this "pair " have been around for a few days and seem to be in addition to the one remaining cob.

Pike in River Ems
Returning home through Brook Meadow, I stopped by the main seat to listen to a Song Thrush belting out its loud repetitive song from tall trees on the south meadow. Robin, Wren, Great Tit and Woodpigeon were also singing. Pam Phillips came by with her three dogs and told me she had recently met three chaps in waders fishing in the river. When she asked them what they had caught they said a Pike and that they threw it back! Pam explained to them the presence of Pike in the river was not good news for our attempts to promote the return of Water Voles, so maybe in the future they might consider 'losing it'! Good for you Pam. Pike are not easy to see from the river bank as they tend to lurk without moving in the shallows at the side of the river, waiting for their prey. Our last definite Pike sighting with photo was 08-Aug-19.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby was out for an hour this morning (from 9an) to visit Langstone Mill Pond before Brendan moved in!!! Some early sunshine, but clouds building (see photo).

It was low tide, but coming in. Not much to report, the highlight being a short chat to Emily from Solent Aware. Off shore were a single Sandwich Tern roosting with 9 Common Gulls.
On the shoreline were 96 Shelduck, 43 Teal, 289 Brent Geese, 25 Wigeon, 6 Lapwings and in the channel were 4 Red breasted Mergansers and a single Great Crested Grebe. Very little. Needs to turn colder, otherwise this will be our winter lot - nothing new to add.
And still no Pintail!!! On the pond were 2 male Tufted Ducks with 2 females, 5 Teal and on the flooded horse paddock a further 35 Teal and 3 Grey Herons. I wonder if Brendan will blow in anything??

Here is a link to Peter's excellent annual report on the past year from Emsworth and Warblington, including his dramatic discovery of the first breeding Cattle Egrets in Hampshire. . . . . Peter's Annual Report

Nore Barn history
The Friends of Nore Barn Woods have put out a request in their recent Newsletter for information on the history of Nore Barn and the woods. It is known that Havant and Waterloo Urban District Council bought the woods for £575 in 1952, but little is known about the wartime years or how the trees arrived. And when did farming die out? In the Newsletter Roy Ewing included this delightful watercolour view of Nore Barn painted by H Glanville Spooner in 1924. Thank you Roy for permission to reproduce it here.

As well as the barn the picture shows the Church Path leading to Warblington and the main bay, saltmarshes and outlet from the stream, which are much as they are now. The woodland is of more recent origin. The barn does not exist any more, but the foundations can still be seen.
If you have any information about the history of the woods, or anecdotes about the woods please contact Roy Ewing at

Ralph's news from Scotland
I was very pleased to hear from Ralph Hollins with some nature observations from his new home near Carlingwark Loch in Castle Douglas, Scotland.

"Yesterday (Jan 12) I was surprised to hear my first woodpecker (presumed Great Spotted) drumming in the trees above me as I sat on a lakeside bench watching a very smart group of 5 Goldeneye (3 male with two females) plus another group of 6 Dabchick nearby. Other birds in the trees were numerous Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves (several singing) and Jackdaws plus my first singing Wren.
Also of note were several patches of Snowdrops coming into flower and a couple of plants which I had first noticed on Jan 11 of what I believe to be Spring Sowbread (Cyclamen repandum) (page 112 of Fitter, Fitter and Blamey's 'Wild Flowers').
It's good to see your website back on the air - I would like to be able to contribute photos but am still unsteady on my feet and have to use a four-wheel 'Rollator' to get around without falling over so can only take photos when sitting on a firm seat - hopefully I will get stronger as the spring advances."
Thanks Ralph. We hope so too and look forward to getting more of your observations.

No one has reported Snowdrops down south as yet. Personally, I have never seen Spring Sowbread here. Looking though my files I have found a diary entry from Ralph about his finding Sowbread on Hayling Beachlands on Monday 21 August 2017. Ralph noted at the time that this form of Cyclamen goes under the strange name of Sowbread because wild pigs are said to enjoy digging up and eating the bulbs.
Here is a picture of Sowbread from the internet. Spring Sowbread (which presumably flowers in spring) is similar with purpler flowers and angles leaves.


The Kench
Valerie Mitchell reports on this morning's walk by the Friends of Wildlife group
Twelve of us met at the Sinah heavy anti- aircraft battery car park on Hayling Island, it was a damp, overcast, windy morning, and as we discussed the very bright Wolf moon on the previous evening, a kestrel hovered overhead.

We headed to the Kench and followed the footpath along the shore, past Sinah Holiday Village, until we could go no further, then looking at the height of the high water, we decided to retrace our steps and enjoyed walking close to the water's edge.
At the start, we spotted 3 grey herons sheltering in the lee of a shingle bank, thank you Derek for this photo and others taken today.

Many birds were on the island, flocks of dunlins, oyster catchers, (looking very smartly lined up), grey plovers, a cormorant, egrets, redshanks, and curlew who stayed on the island until near high tide.
Plenty of Brent geese, many gulls were flying around, common, black headed and herring, a solitary great black backed gull was spotted on a smaller island just before we left the Kench.

Two mergansers and a crested grebe were seen diving around, and at coffee time, in the far distance, Heather, using her 'scope, spotted 2 Goldeneye, finally confirmed when she saw their white breasts.

Just past the Sinah Holiday Village we spotted large flocks (possibly about 50) of redshanks and oystercatchers, they flew up and down several times, making their lovely calls.

Although it rained on our return, we arrived back at our cars having enjoyed the walk.

For more details about this group and their walks go to . . . Havant Wildlife Group


Brook Meadow
This morning I walked through Brook Meadow and down to Slipper Millpond. The meadow is very wet and muddy underfoot and the river is flowing strongly. So much rain! Not much to report on the wildlife front. Robin and Great Tit were singing well, but no Mistle Thrush. Wild flowers were very scarce, but for White Dead-nettles and the occasional Groundsel. There are plenty of Lesser Celandine leaves (as shown in the Groundsel photo), but no flowers as yet. However, Celandines are out on the Westbrook Stream in Bridge Road car park.

Hazel catkins are showing well on the tree near the north bridge
with a hint of anthers starting to emerge on the right side catkin

Hermitage Millponds
The lone cob swan which lost its partner late last year was on Peter Pond with Mallards. More significantly a new pair of Mute Swans was on Slipper Millpond, looking as if they intended to stay. Definitely a male-female pair - the cob is at the rear in this photo with Chequers Quay in the background. This could be interesting!

Peter Milinets-Raby reports on his morning's birdwatching in the Warblington area . . .
"A bright sunny morning with two plus hours out and around the Warblington area from 9:04am. Tide virtually high.
14 Little Egrets with 5 Cattle Egrets in the field west of the black barn, along with 7 Stock Doves and a Green Woodpecker.
Off Pook Lane - tide nearly in. 48 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 29 Lapwing, 55 Grey Plover in pre-roost on the island in the middle of Sweare Deep. 2 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Meadow Pipit, 3 Red Breasted Merganser.
Conigar Point: Female Marsh Harrier flew east along the entire length of the channel from Hayling Bridge to Thorney Island where it dropped quickly out of sight. Great Views in the scope.
Straw dump: 5 Water Pipits (see photo)

Also 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Stock Doves, 39 Skylark in the stubble nearby, 2 Rock Pipits, 5 Meadow Pipits - causing ID problems amongst the other pipits, 1 Buzzard and 1 Kestrel over.
16 Brent Geese in the Winter Wheat field - four adults with 12 juveniles - very nice".

Here is a link to Peter's excellent annual report on the past year from Emsworth and Warblington. You will need to download the pdf file . . .

Shovelers on Baffins Pond
Eric Eddles reports that the Shovelers have been back on Baffins Pond for some weeks. To-day he counted 24 and posted a photo of a small group of them feeding in their distinctive circling fashion. Baffins Pond is certainly the best local spot to see these attractive birds. The photo shows two males and three females.

Eric also reported 60-80 Tufted Ducks plus the remaining 2 swan cygnets of the original 7.

Farlington Marshes
Romney Turner was delighted to see some Bearded Tits while at Farlington Marshes today. On the left below is Romney's cracking male - and interestingly it was ringed, presumably by the Farlington Ringing group. On the left is a female.

Romney also saw this fine female Marsh Harrier flying overhead - always a nice bonus from a Farlington trip. Female Marsh Harriers are larger and browner than their male counterparts as it common in birds of prey. The distinctive silvery 'palm of the hand' shows well in Romney's photo.


Brook Meadow
I had a pleasant walk this morning through Brook Meadow and down to Slipper Millpond. The meadow is still very wet and muddy and the river flowing strongly. Robin and Great Tit were singing. White Dead-nettles were in flower abundantly on the Seagull Lane patch. I found some Groundsel in flower on the Butterbur patch near the seat with plenty of Lesser Celandine leaves (as shown in the photo), but no flowers as yet.


Hermitage Millponds
The lone cob swan which lost its partner late last year was on Peter Pond with Mallards. But more significantly a new pair of Mute Swans was on Slipper Millpond, looking as if they intended to stay. Definitely a male-female pair - the cob is at the rear in this photo with Chequers Quay in the background. This could be interesting!


Nore Barn
I arrived at Nore Barn at 11.30am with the tide still quite high. The weather was dull and cloudy, but remarkably mild for the time of year and the sea calm. There were few birds on the water in the main bay apart from a small flock of Brent Geese peacefully swimming around and grunting gently to each other. I could only see one juvenile, which is unusual this winter as there have been plenty of young Brent about. They have had a good breeding season for a change.

The regular Spotted Redshank and colour-ringed Greenshank (G+GL) were on edge of the saltmarshes at the far side of the stream when I arrived.

But I did not have to wait long for them to fly onto the stream which is their main winter feeding site. They spent the next hour or so mostly feeding together, close to where the fresh water stream emerges from beneath the small bridge. While there, they provided me with wonderfully close-up views for some photos and videos.

Video of Spotted Redshank and Greenshank feeding . . .

Video of Spotted Redshank . . .

I was the only person to take any more than a passing interest in these splendid birds until Roy Ewing arrived on the scene with rake and slasher in his hands, fresh from conservation work in the woods. He deserves a medal! We admired the birds feeding in the stream until they were disturbed by a dog chasing into the water and they flew off to the saltmarshes. We gently admonished the lady owner for not having her dog on a lead and reminded her of the ecological importance of this stream and the rare migrant birds that her dog had disturbed. One can but try and hope the message gets through. The birds actually returned to the stream after the dog had gone as they always do, so no great harm was done, but the principle is that wild birds should not be disturbed when they are feeding.

For the full history of this astonishing bird go to . . . Spotted Redshank at Nore Barn

Hairy Garlic
I had a walk round the woods while I was there and was delighted to see that Hairy Garlic (Allium subhirsutum) was still growing alongside the new hedgerow on the north path. This plant has been growing at this exact spot for many years and the local conservation group are aware of it and try to protect it. But it looks vulnerable!

It is a rare garden escape of Mediterranean origin. I know of only one other site in Emsworth where it grows - on the footpath behind Lillywhite's Garage. It has a scattering of broad, more or less prostrate, shiny green leaves, with slightly hairy edges, from which the plant gets its common name. Its leaves give off a faintly garlic aroma when crushed.

The following photos show the plant in situ and a close-up of a leaf with hairy edges


Swan Goose goes home
I had a message from Brenda Scott this morning to say she seen two men removing the Swan Goose from Peter Pond and had challenged them (while still in her pyjamas!). Brenda learned the men were the owners of the missing bird which had escaped from Westbourne millpond.
A little later I had a e-mail from the owner Nick Rule to explain that he had been down to Emsworth this morning to collect the goose - a female named Franny - and that she was now back with the others at Westbourne. Apparently, she had fallen over the sluice gate at Westbourne Millpond and disappeared downriver before Christmas. Nick thought a fox had got her and had given up searching until he was alerted through this blog to her presence on Peter Pond - for which he was very grateful. Nick says he has had two others go missing over the last couple of weeks (it is the fighting season and testosterone is rising ready for spring), so if anyone sees any please let him know. He can identify them by the ring colours. Franny had a pink ring. I will pass on any sightings to Nick.

Call duck on Baffins Pond
Eric Eddles writes to say that a very noisy Call Duck has been on Baffins Pond for seven weeks.

These interesting domesticated ducks are in fact fairly common visitors to Baffins Pond where Eric has been recording them for several years, sometimes up to 10 in number.
The Call Duck is a very small breed of domesticated duck now raised primarily for competition showing or as pets. They look similar to Mallards, but are smaller in size. They were initially used in the Netherlands in hunting as decoys as their loud high pitched calls would attract wild ducks towards the hunter's guns. This practice has been replaced by artificial calls.


Swan Goose
The Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) was still present on Peter Pond when I went down there at about 12 noon. It was first reported to me by Pat Atkin on Jan 1. Today it was swimming quite close to the millpond wall near the seat, probing the wall for any bits of food. It was making noisy honking calls as if trying to attract attention.

It is certainly a very handsome bird, as noted by Maurice Lillie who happened to be passing by at the time. I took some photos and a video for the blog. Can you spot Maurice in the video?

Video clip of Swan Goose . . .

I got a close-up of the ring on its left leg which is made up of a series of coils and has no markings. I wonder who it belongs to? It must be an escape from a fairly local collection. Does anyone have any idea where it might be from?

The bird's natural breeding range is inland Mongolia, north eastern China and south eastern Russia. It is migratory and winters mainly in central and eastern China, though there is no way it could fly as far as Britain! The birds we see in Britain are escapes from domestic collections. It is widespread in Britain.

Meanwhile, all was quiet over on Slipper Millpond. There was no sign of the pair of Mute Swans on Slipper Millpond that Brendan Gibb-Gray had told me about earlier this morning. They had probably been driven off by the resident cob swan which was patrolling the southern part of the pond. The cob is still wanting a partner, having lost it long term mate a couple of months ago. It will continue to defend its prime breeding territory until a suitable female turns up.

Promising late news - Brendan e-mailed this afternoon with promising news that the cob seems to have detached one of the pair (the female?) and they are swimming around some distance apart with no sight of the third swan. Could this be the beginning of a romance? It could well be!

Interestingly, Pat Atkin sent me the following photo he got yesterday of the Swan Goose and the resident cob Mute Swan together on Peter Pond. Pat said swan was closely shadowing the goose, but appeared to be tolerating it.

Pat also noticed this Coot which seemed to have nest building in mind. Never too early to start!

Peter Milinets-Raby had a pleasant two hours down Warblington this morning from 9:10am. High tide - starting to drop.
The 5 cattle Egrets were with the cattle and 9 Little Egrets in their usual field. It was like Piccadilly Circus today with so many birders around!
The Ibis Field held 2 Redwings.
Out at the rotting "straw" dump I had an amazing 10 Water Pipits (see photos), 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail and 33 Skylark.

Water Pipit . . . . Pied Wagtail

It was high tide, so not much around.
Conigar Point: 15 Canada Geese flew east, 9 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 28 Shelduck, 215 Brent Geese, 51 Wigeon.
Off Pook Lane: 2 Sandwich Tern, 46 Shelduck, 30 Grey Plover roosting on the island in the middle of the channel, 41 Wigeon.

The Birds of Emsworth & Warblington 2019
Peter has finished his annual report for The Birds of Emsworth & Warblington 2019. It contains a very detailed account of the first breeding of Cattle Egrets in Hampshire.
The report can be found on Peters Purple Pages website under the obvious heading and once there you can download a pdf file. . . . . Go to :


Brook Meadow - Workday
I went over to the meadow this morning for the first workday of the year. The weather was cloudy and cool, ideal for conservation work. There was a good turn out of 12 volunteers (Dan Mortimer arrived after the photo)

The session was led by Colin Brotherston who outlined the main jobs for the day.

make a bonfire from the many tree cuttings (supervised by Debi),


remove the tree decorations from the Cherry trees from the Xmas school visit
(Dianne and new volunteer Juliette)

generally tidy up the area around the laid hedge on the centre meadow.

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

Wildlife observations
Mike discovered an attractive bright yellow small jelly-like fungus growing on a dead twig during the clearance. I know it as Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica) though more imaginatively it is also known as Witches Butter. It is fairly common on dead twigs in winter, though in dry weather it shrinks and darkens. It is not poisonous, but is not worth eating! As with most fungi, it is so much better to enjoy and appreciate it in situ. 

Winter Heliotrope is now in full flower on the river bank.

A Great Tit was singing a truncated song high in a tree

Several volunteers had seen the mystery goose that has been hanging around Peter Pond for the past week or so. Here is a photo of it taken by Patrick Atkin. The bird is a Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) whose natural breeding range is inland Mongolia, north eastern China and south eastern Russia. It is migratory and winters mainly in central and eastern China, but never flies as far as Britain!   The birds we see in Britain are escapes from domestic collections. The Peter Pond bird had a ring on its left leg which clearly indicates its domestic origin. It is widespread in Britain. Is it still around?

New wildlife group
Helen Mears is a member of the committee for the Havant, Hayling and Emsworth local group of the Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust and has set up a social media community group to raise awareness of wildlife in the Havant, Hayling and Emsworth area. She's planning to post something a couple of times a week. Helen will use the group to highlight local wildlife events that are happening, so if there is anything anyone would like to share on local wildlife then let Helen know.
The group is on Facebook, this is the link:


Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby spent an hour down Langstone Mill Pond this morning from 8:11am just as the sun was rising - a bit too cloudy for a decent sunrise shot. But not bad!

The tide was slowly dropping. On the exposed muddy foreshore were 47 Teal, 413 Brent Geese, 13 Grey Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 602 tightly packed feeding frenzy of Dunlin, 55 Shelduck, 12 Lapwings and 42 Wigeon. Diving in the channel were 4 Red breasted Mergansers.
On the pond were the Mute Swan family posing for a photo along with 7 Teal, a male, a female and a juvenile female Tufted Duck and two Grey Herons.

Pagham Harbour RSPB
Nicola Hammond reported on this morning's walk by the Friends of Wildlife group

A lucky group of 13 met at the RSPB Pagham car park for a walk down to Church Norton. We stopped at the new hide (not yet open for the day) to watch small birds flitting around the amply filled feeders nearby and saw a nice group of long tailed tits plus great and blue tits.
A brief look over Ferry Pool identified Shoveler and Wigeon. We carried on and saw a couple of redshank, coot and moorhen in the first channel, followed by tufted duck among a noisy group of mallard. A raptor, possibly a harrier, was seen in the distance and a buzzard soared above.
Unfortunately the path became too muddy to continue so we turned round to walk back past the visitor centre and on the path to Sidlesham Quay. More redshank were seen plus teal, curlew and in the distance shelducks. After coffee we returned to the hide to look out over Ferry Pool

where a large group of lapwing were in the adjoining field and treated us to a beautiful aerial display.

There was also a large group of wigeon in the field and on the water were teal and mute swans.
Turning back to the bird feeders we saw chaffinches, robins, great and blue tits, more long tailed tits and a song thrush.

Squirrels were busy hoovering up spillages and hanging from the feeders, with the usual blackbirds in attendance. As we walked back to the cars we saw three kestrels hovering at very close quarters.

Apologies for errors and omissions but there was a lot to catch up on after the Christmas break, including reminiscences of pink flamingos seen in times gone by!


Emsworth - Warblington
Peter Milinets-Raby got the new year/decade off to an excellent start with a fine selection of birds from his morning walk around the Emsworth and the Warblington areas. Here is Peter's report . . .
Emsworth Harbour from 7:40am
89 Brent Geese, 3 Wigeon, 4 Little Egrets, just 1 Greenshank, 23 Mute Swan, 9 Grey Plover, 32 Shelduck, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 87 Canada Geese, 7 Teal, 12 Turnstone, 19 Coot with 21 on Mill Pond, 175 Dunlin, 5 Lapwing, 2 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 single Knot feeding in with the Dunlin. 1 male Goldeneye in the channel near to the wall, 1 Little Grebe.
Beacon Square: 3 Shelduck, 2 Grey Plover, 31 Brent Geese, 16 Wigeon,
Nore Barn: 129 Wigeon, Spotted Redshank out feeding distantly in the channel, 28 Teal, 3 Grey Plover, 1 Turnstone. Still no Pintail??
5 Cattle Egrets and 8 Little Egrets in the fields north of the farm, though later they moved to their favourite field when the cattle herd were let out after their milking duties. 1 Redwing
Big field out to the west: 16 Skylark.
Hay dump: 13 Stock Dove, 2 Rock Pipits, 1 Water Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail,
Conigar Point: 75 Brent Geese, 208 Dunlin, 7 Grey Plover, 6 Shelduck, 4 Red Breasted Merganser.
Pook Lane: 158 Dunlin, 9 Grey Plover, 1 Avocet - typical, none last year! 35 Shelduck, 57 Teal, 3 Red Breasted Merganser, 9 Lapwing, 22 Wigeon, 220 Brent Geese, 3 Meadow Pipit.

Pat's news
For several years Pat Atkin has been waiting to get good pic of Kingfisher. Yesterday, on beaching kayak at the slipway by the Slipper Pond Apartments he spotted this excellent male just waiting for him.

Pat also noted a mystery goose on Peter Pond which he says has been causing a problem in Palmer's Road Car Park. It is certainly not a regular goose that sometimes turns up on the ponds. It is vaguely familiar, but I can't put a name to it.
I note it has a ring on its left leg which suggests it may be an escaped domestic bird. Alternatively, it may be one that David Gattrell has introduced onto Peter Pond, so I will ask David if he knows anything about it.

My Thanks to John Arnott for identifying the bird as a Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides), possibly named because its neck is quite long for a goose. Looks like a juvenile as it lacks the thin white stripe around the bill base. Also known as Chinese Goose from its country of origin.
For more information see any of the following: . . . . . .

Pat also had a male Red-breasted Merganser on Slipper Millpond in addition to the regular female on the town millpond.

Garden bird videos
I happened to come across a couple of delightful videos of garden birds bathing in bird baths which I thought I would share with you. Maybe you have one of your own to share with us? . . . This one has eight species coming to bathe in a bird bath . . . This one is from North America and has lots of exotic birds, including Cardinal, Blue Jay Lizards, etc. Fascinating. Skip the ads!

For earlier reports go to . . .
December 1-31