Latest Sightings April 2020

Click on the link to send in your sightings to help us monitor Emm Brook wildlife.This type of ‘citizen science’ allows us to get a clearer picture of what is happening along the Emm.

For previous months sightings see Archive

The "Area Seen" refers to the 10 sections that the Brook has been split into for monitoring purposes (see Wildlife page under Monitoring ).

For what you can expect to see on the Emm this month, click here April

All sightings unless stated are from personal observations by Eddie Napper

Click on any picture to see a larger image

What is this life if full of care , we have no time to stand and stare. Leisure - W. H. Davies.


What is the Dawn Chorus

30/04/20 Carrion On my Area 5 feeders this morning for what might be the first time ever was a Carrion Crow .

29/04/20 A Nuthatch has recently become a regular feeder to the Sunflower Hearts in my Area 5 garden.

28/04/20 Over the Emm in Area 10 by the Dinton Activity Centre were hundreds of Swallow , Sand Martin and House Martin . Also thrown in for good measure were a few Swift .

26/04/20 At 05:45, 2 Grey Heron flew over my Area 5 garden heading for the river.At Old Forest Road Meadows in Area 8 at lunchtime a Willow Warbler was briefly seen and heard from trees adjacent to the A329M. In Area 7 Rik Dawson saw a male Kestrel It flew from an oak on the building site on the North side of Queens Road, seen from end of Potter Crescent.Paul O'Neill saw a female Kestrel sat in a dead tree at Matthews Green Farm. A male Sparrowhawk was flying South to North over Matthews Green Farm.

25/04/20 Male Area 10 was the place to be early this morning. On the Old Golf course at Dinton Pastures at 07:00 a male Wheatear was feeding on one of the higher mounds. Even earlier at 06:24 , 2 Cattle Egret were seen by Fraser Cottington flying over the landfill site. Relocated later in a pony field in Hurst.Grey A Grey Wagtail dropped on to the pontoon by the Dinton Activity centre also mentioned to me by a dog walker was an Oystercatcher feeding on the old golf course and on my return across the golf course a Little Egret flew out of the Emm.In Area 7, Paul O'Neill heard a Tawny Owl calling at 23:00 and earlier in the day saw a Swift fly over. Another Swift was seen by Paul Bright-Thomas in Area 4.

24/04/20 In Area 8 an Oystercatcher was seen flying SW over Old Forest Road Meadows and in Area 7 a Raven was seen flying West to East over Queen's Road both sightings by Paul O'Neill. Meanwhile in Area 10 a male and female Cuckoo were seen.

23/04/20 Over his Area 4 garden Paul Bright Thomas saw 2 Rook .

22/04/20 Blackbird On my garden feeders were 2 Greenfinch a bit of a rarity these days.Greenfinch numbers have declined by 59 per cent in the UK in just 10 years, prompting concerns for its status. The decline is caused by a widespread and severe outbreak of a disease called trichomonosis, which was first noted affecting bird populations in 2006.Unfortunately no NHS for the Greenfinch. On a slightly happier note in Area 5 by Ripplestream Bridge a Blackbird was feeding a persistent recently fledged juvenile. It was following the parent wherever they went and begging for food.In Area 4 Paul Bright Thomas was adding to his garden lock down list with a Swallow heading East and 2 House Martin heading North.Little Elsewhere a Little Egret was seen perched up but keeping a watchfull eye on the river.

21/04/20 Grey In the Emm Brook by Dragonfly Bridge to the rear of Morrisons in Area 5 a Grey Heron was fishing. In the channel by the outlet from the Area 4 Balancing Pond a Grey Wagtail was busily feeding.

20/04/20 Kingfisher"title="Kingfisher On the Emm Brook a Kingfisher was seen with food.Kingfishers eat mainly fish, chiefly minnows and sticklebacks, but they also take aquatic insects, freshwater shrimps and tadpoles etc to top up their diet. They prefer fish about 23 mm in length, but can handle anything up to 80mm long. Once it has caught a fish it returns to the perch, it repeatedly strikes the fish against the perch to kill it. Only then will the spines in the fins of some species such as sticklebacks relax to allow the bird to swallow it, head first. Each bird must eat at least its own bodyweight of fish each day.

19/04/20 My one a day exercise today was cycling to Area 1 and Gorrick Woods.Not a lot of excitement however. It was standard woodland stuff with Robin , Wren , Chiffchaff , Carrion Crow , Wood Pigeon and a pair of Jay . In Area 10 distant Swift were seen. The first of the year. In Area 7, Paul O'Neill had a calling Oystercatcher flying E over Matthews Green farm towards Wokingham. A Swallow was also seen along with 4 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel 10m above his garden. In the Balancing pond opposite the Dog and Duck a Grey Heron was fishing. Over his Area 4 garden Paul Bright-Thomas had a Swallow and a Swift .

18/04/20 Swallow"title="Swallow On the wires by the Dinton Activity Centre in Area 10 at least 38 Swallow were resting before joining all the others feeding over the lake. Also seen were Sand Martin and House Martin A male Whitethroat was singing from the hedge in the carpark field, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing from the copse in the middle of the field and a Cuckoo was calling nearby.3 Wheatear were on the landfill seen from the bottom of the Car Park field.In Area 4 Paul Bright Thomas had 4 Blackcap in his Area 4 garden. 2 male and 1 female in the same tree, with a 4th in amongst the Sloe Blossom.Out walking his dog this morning in Area 7 (Emmbrook Walk), Will Day saw a pair of Bullfinch .

17/04/20 Buzzard"title="Buzzard Over my Area 5 garden a Common Buzzard was being tracked and harassed by a Carrion Crow .

16/04/20 A male Sparrowhawk flew low over Paul O'Neill's Area 7 garden this afternoon, harassed by a very vocal Carrion Crow .

15/04/20 Robin"title="Robin Proof again that you dont have to go far for nature. On top of my Area 5 garden Yew tree, a male Robin was singing its beautiful song against a cloudless blue sky.In Area 4 Paul Bright-Thomas had a male and female Blackcap , feeding amongst fading sloe blossom in his garden in quick succession and in Area 7 Rik Dawson who was out for his daily exercise saw Skylark and Black Redstart .

14/04/20 In Area 10 an Oystercatcher flew to old golf course to feed. In Area 7 seen by Rik Dawson were 2 Linnet .

13/04/20 Ring necked Parakeet A Greenfinch was on my garden feeders . The first for a while. My excercise today was a bike ride to Dinton Pastures and Area 10.On the old golf course was a noisy Ring necked parakeet a green bird in a green tree, you can just about see it. On Black Swan Lake adjacent to the Emm, Sand Martin , House Martin and Swallow were all feeding over the lake.Moorhen A Kingfisher was on the Emm before flying upstream when it saw me. Also seen was a Moorhen.

12/04/20 In Area 1 and 2 at Chapel Green a Little Owl was heard but not seen along with 2 displaying Lapwing by Sean Stevenson.Paul O'Neill had 2 Swallow flying over his Area 7 garden. Meanwhile in Area 10 a Willow Warbler was seen around the top of the Car Park Field.

11/04/20 Paul O'Neill went for his one a day walk around Area 7 and saw a Little Egret on the Ashridge Stream by Toutley Road, Skylark singing over the site and a Black Redstart on the shut Construction site. 2 Song Thrush were seen in EmmBrook Walk and a male and female Sparrowhawk and a female Kestrel were also seen.

10/04/20 In Area 1 and 2 at Chapel Green a Little Owl was seen out sunbathing by Sean Stevenson.Also seen were 2 male and 1 female Blackcap . The males were singing. A male Blackcap was also singing in Paul Bright Thomas's garden in Area 4.

09/04/20 Robins Nest I received a phone call from a neighbour to tell me that in a bag normally set aside for leaves they had found an abandoned nest. Once again it is unfortunately that of a Robin . Looking at the large amount of moss involved the female bird will have put in a huge effort to construct it. The cup nest, built by the female alone, is made of dead leaves and moss, lined with hair. The birds are very sensitive to any disturbance during the nest building and egg laying, and will easily desert the nest if they think that the nest has been discovered. In Area 7 Paul O'Neill had a Ring necked Parakeet flying over .

08/04/20  Mute Swan and Canada Goose One of the fussier Magpie in my Area 5 garden doesn’t like the way that I present the mealworms in the morning. It takes them off the tray and drops them into the Birdbath before removing them again once suitably moistened. I will get a picture. On a bike ride to Area 1 and Heath lake a Male Mute Swan was relentlessly pursuing a pair of Canada Geese until after 15 minutes of harassment they flew from the lake. On the Island in the trees were Cormorant andGrey Heron . Black headed Gull  A slightly oiled looking Black headed Gull was also on the lake. Still in Area 1 at Chapel Green Skylark were singing in the fields over Grays Farm.

06/04/20  Male House Sparrow In Area 4 a male House Sparrow was seen gathering nest material.

06/04/20  Chiffchaff A male Chiffchaff was calling in a neighbours tree this morning in Area 5 .The random arrangements of high-pitched “chiff” and lower “chaff” notes constitute the distinctive call .They are one of Britain’s earliest summer visitors and their calls are characteristic of early spring. With the Construction sites in Area 7 closed due to the virus, Paul O'Neill heard Skylark singing once more at lunchtime.  Female Grey Wgtail In Area 4 a female GreyWagtail was seen on the Emm. Males have a grey face with a black throat bib and a white 'moustache'.( See yesterdays picture) While females are much less yellow and do not have the black bib.

05/04/20   Male Grey Wagtail On my daily walk a pair of Grey Wagtail were seen in the Brook by the Bridge over Emmbrook Road in Area 7. At 04:45 a female Tawny Owl was calling from somewhere very close to my Area 5 garden.The tawny owl is our largest common owl and is known for making the familiar 'twit twoo' owl call during the night and early hours. Yet this call this is actually made by both a male and female owl calling to each other - the female makes a 'ke-wick' sound and the male answers with something more like 'hoo-hoo-oo'.In Area 7 a hunting female Kestrel was seen by Paul O'Neill.

04/04/20 In Area 7 a Sparrowhawk was seen flying over Paul O'Neills garden.

03/04/20 In Area 7 a male Black Redstart was seen by Paul O'Neill singing from top of a large tree at Matthews Green Farm, then on a wooden fence at junction of Eamer Crescent/Trinder Road.

01/04/20  Male Kingfisher At an undisclosed location on the Emm Brook a pair of Kingfisher have been seen and possibly may be nesting. Female Kingfisher The key to telling the difference between a male and female Kingfisher is the beak colour. The males beak is all black, the female has a pinky orange tinge to the lower part of the beak. Little Egret Also seen along the river was a Little Egret . Not a bad way to start the month.A Grey Heron flew over my garden in the afternoon.


27/04/20  St Mark's fly  Along the Emm at the moment are St Mark's fly Bibio marci .The St Mark's fly is small, black and shiny. It is so-called because it emerges around St Mark's Day, April 25th. It hangs in the air over the vegetation, drifting along with its legs dangling underneath it.Shuttle-shaped Dart   New for the year in the overnight moth trap were Shuttle shaped Dart Agrotis puta,  Nematopogon swammerdamella  Large Long-horn Nematopogon swammerdamella , Oak-tree Pug Eupithecia dodoneata and Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea.

26/04/20  Green Dock Beetle On the Dock in the Area 4 Balancing Pond Green Dock Beetle Gastrophysa viridula are doing what they do best at this time of year. They have bright green metallic coloured bodies which can look gold and green in sunlight. The females are usually larger than the males with an enlarged abdomen as can be clearley seen in the photo.At Old Forest Road Meadows in Area 8 at lunchtime Butterflies were on the wing including  Green veined White Green veined White Pieris napi , Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria , Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus , Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines and a Peacock Aglais io .A Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula was also seen.

24/04/20  Large Red Damselfly Down by the pond in Area 5 to the rear of Morrisons was a Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula resting in the sun, Azure  Damselfly also seen was an immature Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella . Another first for the year.

23/04/20  Swarm Whilst working on my Area 3 allottment, I was distracted by a swarm of European Honey Bee Apis mellifera ,which flew into a nearby tree from one of the active hives on site.Like us, bees need space in which to live their lives. They need a place to raise brood, to store honey and pollen and more. In the spring and summer, a colony can expand quite dramatically, both in numbers and in the space needed. When space starts becoming too limited, bees need a solution.Their solution is to swarm. Alder fly In Area 10 a Alder fly Sialis lutaria was seen enjoying the sun.Alder flies are blackish-brown, with dark, lacy wings which they fold in a tent-like manner along the length of their body. The Alder fly is a large, sluggish insect often found on vegetation near to water. The larvae are aquatic carnivores that live in the silt at the bottom of ponds and slow-flowing rivers. Adults are seen in early summer, emerging in large numbers and living for just for a few days in order to mate. Mating takes place at night and the females lay their eggs on overhanging vegetation. The larvae hatch and drop into the water where they develop over one to two years.

22/04/20  Brimstone Moth In my Area 5 garden the moth trap was put out overnight and I returned to the 125W MV lamp in an attempt to increase the catch. Highlights were Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata , Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria , Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata , Lunar Marbled Brown Drymonia ruficornis ,2 White Shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella , Knot Grass Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana , Knot Grass Acronicta rumicis and Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata Following inspection and recording/photographing the moths are released.

21/04/20  Green veined White In my Area 5 garden this afternoon was the years first Green veined White Pieris napi butterfly.In the Area 4 Balancing pond was a camera shy  14 Spot ladybird 14 Spot ladybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata on a Nettle patch, along with the Hoverflies Helophilus pendulus and Myathropa florea both enjoying the sun.

20/04/20  Brindled Beauty Not a lot again in my Area 5 garden moth trap overnight. However highlights were Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria and a Frosted Green Polyploca ridens  Frosted Green  In the afternoon a very early Large red damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula alighted on a bush in the garden.

19/04/20 In Area 1 a Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria was on the wing and resting on Nettles. In Area 10 a Stonefly was seen.

13/04/20  Common Ground Beetle In Area 10 at Dinton Pastures under the Bug trapdoors in the Junior Ranger Garden was a Common Ground Beetle Pterostichus madidus . Thanks to Jon Cole for help with ID.There are over 4000 species of beetle found in Britain, Ireland and surrounding islands many of them very similar.

12/04/20  Sallow Kitten The overnight mothtrap was opened this morning and once again it was unfortunately a bit of a dismal catch. Highlight was however a Sallow Kitten Furcula furcula with a supporting cast of 5 Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata and 2 Hebrew character Orthosia gothica . Eupeodes luniger Walking around Emmbrook Walk in Area 7 the Hoverfly Eupeodes luniger was warming up on a Nettle patch.  Dock Bug Also seen was my first Squashbug of the year, in the shape of a Dock Bug Coreus marginatus .Squashbugs are generally brownish in colour and longer and more elongated than shieldbugs.

11/04/20  Speckled Wood My one a day walk around Areas 4 and 5 again paid dividends. In a small copse my first Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria Butterfly of the year was seen. Bringing the FOTEB total to 6 species so far this year.Speckled Woods often perch in sunny spots, spiralling into the air to chase each other.The aptly named Speckled Wood flies in partially shaded woodland with dappled sunlight.Hence the markings. Isn't nature wonderful. Dock Beetle Eggs Meanwhile in the Balancing pond in Area 4 on the underside of Dock leaves were the eggs of the Green Dock Beetle Gastrophysa viridula .

10/04/20  Orange Tip Under lockdown its amazing what you see in the garden. Its starting to make me wonder why I go anywhere else. My first Common wasp Vespula vulgaris of the year was seen, maybe not such a good thing and the following Butterflies male Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines very quick , flighty and out of focus, Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus , Comma Polygonia c-album and an unidentified White butterfly which refused to stop.

08/04/20  Tree Bee Whilst working from home, I looked up briefly to see my first Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus butterfly fly across the garden.Also in my Area 5 garden was a Tree Bee Bombus hynorum . One of the ‘Big 7’ widespread and abundant species, found in a wide range of habitats across the UK despite only first arriving in the country in 2001. Double-striped Pug I moved the moth trap in my garden to what I hoped would be a better location. The nights catch wasn’t huge but included 3 Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata , a solitary Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata 2 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi and a Hebrew character Orthosia gothica .

05/04/20 In Area 6 my first male Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines butterfly of the year was seen.

04/04/20  Brindled Pug Highlight of the overnight moth trap in my Area 5 garden was a Lunar Marbled Brown Drymonia ruficornis .This is a male as it has feathery brown antennae. In the sunshine on my one a day walk today in Area 5 a Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae and a Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Butterfly were seen by the pond.

01/04/20  Brindled Pug I wasnt expecting the overnight temperature to go as low as it did, when I put the moth trap out in my Area 5 garden. This resulted in only 2 moths a Hebrew character Orthosia gothica and a Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata . This is an early spring species, and one of the first Pugs of the season to be regularly encountered.

Plants/ Trees

25/04/20  Horse Chestnut  By the river in Area 5 Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum is currently in flower and we can all enjoy the candelabra display of delicate pink and white flowers.

19/04/20  Bluebell  In Area 1 in Gorrick Woods patches of Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta are coming into flower. Enchanting and iconic, bluebells are a favourite with the fairies. When a bluebells bell rings, it calls all the fairies to a gathering, but if a human hears the bell, they will be visited by a malicious fairy and die soon after.Bluebell woods are also enchanted. Fairies used them to lure and trap people in their nether world. It is also a sure sign spring is in full swing. The violet glow of a bluebell wood is an incredible wildflower spectacle. Almost half the world's bluebells are found in the UK, they’re relatively rare in the rest of the world. Give it a week and it will be magnificent. Pincushion Moss  Also seen were what I believe to be Pincushion Moss Leucobryum glaucum and  Broom Fork-moss  Broom Fork-moss Dicranum scoparium Mosses are distinctive from flowering plants because they produce spores. They have stems and leaves but not true roots.

18/04/20  Hawthorn  All along the Emm Brook Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna is coming into flower. Just as the flowers of the Blackthorn begins to fade the Hawthorn explodes into flower, matching the floral show of the Blackthorn in colour and intensity.

17/04/20  Cowslip  I went for a quick lunchtime walk in Area 5. In the remnants of the "Wildflower Meadow" 4 Cowslip Primula veris have appeared through the grass. Elder  For all you keen wine makers out there the flowers of the Elder Sambucus nigra) are just starting to appear. Elder is the very essence of summer with its fragrant flowers and soot-dark fruits. It was said that an elder planted by your house would keep the devil away.

14/04/20  Dandelion  In Area 5 Dandelion Taraxacum officinale are setting seed and "Clocks" are starting to appear.

12/04/20  Cuckoo Flower  In Area 5 my first Cuckoo Flower Cardamine pratensis, also known as Ladys Smock was seen.It is an important food plant for the caterpillars of the orange-tip and the green-veined white butterfly.

10/04/20  Garlic mustard  On my wanderings around Area 5 today Garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata is just starting to appear. Garlic mustard, also known as 'Jack-by-the-hedge', likes shady places.It can grow to over a metre tall and has small white flowers that appear from April. It is a biennial plant, so takes two years to complete its lifecycle. It grows young leaves in its first season, which it keeps over winter, and then flowers in the spring of its second year.The heart-shaped leaves of Garlic mustard are smooth and hairless, and rather like those of nettles; when crushed, they smell of garlic.

04/04/20  Marsh Marigold At the pond in Area 5 the Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris have finally come into flower, no doubt aided by the sunshine.

Why do leaves change colour


08/04/20  Slime Mould Walking through Chapel Green in Area 1, I came across this very odd species which looked exactly like the expanding foam used in cavity wall insulation oozing from the bark of a very old and dead tree, alongside one of the tributaries to the Emm. It is infact the Slime Mould Reticularia lycoperdon . Slime Moulds are a strange class of amoeboid protozoa, previously thought to be fungi but now known to be Myxomycota, which are organisms which prey on microbial food webs. This particular species is a bacterial predator and usually very tiny and unlikely to be seen, but this particular stage of it’s life cycle is a fruiting body known as a sporangium. This is a globular formation which swells up to around 50-80mm , whereupon it hardens and then eventually splits to release brown mass of spores. It usually likes to exit the wood via insect holes.

Amphibians and Reptiles


25/04/20  Roe Deer At 02:50 a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was barking in Area 5 somewhere near the river. At 04:30 another or maybe the same Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was seen on the footpath between Brookside and Rotherfield Avenue in Area 5. In Area 4 a young male Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus was seen.

23/04/20 In Area 4 near Kingfisher Bridge a Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus was seen by Fran Stickler.

21/04/20  Hedgehog Now there's 2 European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus in my Area 5 garden. Both can be seen entering the feeding station.

20/04/20  Hedgehog In my Area 5 garden a European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus is still in night-time residence. It appears to be only 1 though.At 21:00 in Area 5 a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was seen wandering through Brookside.

13/04/20  Rabbit In Area 10 with Dinton Pastures just about deserted the Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus are getting bolder and sitting out.

10/04/20 In Area 2 a male Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus was seen running across 2 fields to the rear of Tesco. At 20:00 in Area 5 by Dragonfly Bridge several Pipistrelle sp Pipistrellus pipistrellus bats were seen feeding over the river. It was recently discovered that there are actually three species of pipistrelle bat formerly grouped together as Pipistrellus pipistrellus. All three (Common, Soprano and Nathusius) are very similar but differences in the frequency of the echolocation calls and genetic differences distinguish them. P. pipistrellus echolocates at 45 kHz, and P. pygmaeus at 55 kHz. Using my bat detector these seemed to operate at 55 kHz. But I wasnt sure.

04/04/20  Hedgehog As suspected a European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus was wandering about in my Area 5 garden overnight.

02/04/20  Hedgehog Poo In my Area 5 garden this morning was evidence of fresh European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus Poo. I belive that they are back.

Fish/ Crustaceans

13/04/20  Common Shiny Woodlouse In Area 10 at Dinton Pastures under the Bug trapdoors in the Junior Ranger Garden were Common Shiny Woodlouse Oniscus asellus . Though they look like millipedes, woodlice are actually crustaceans, related to shrimps and crabs. This makes woodlice some of the few truly land-living crustaceans (most have to return to the water to breed). Like their aquatic relatives they do not have a waxy body covering so they easily dry out. This is why woodlice hide away in cool, damp places during the day and come out at night.


13/04/20 Yellow Slug In Area 10 at Dinton Pastures under the Bug trapdoors in the Junior Ranger Garden were at least 8 Yellow Slug Limacus flavus .