Latest Sightings August 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 11 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 August

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.


31/08/20 Long tailed Tit In Area 7A, Paul O'Neill saw 11 Pied Wagtail sat on 2 adjoining house roofs on Queens Road. In Area 10 a flock of Long tailed Tit were seen with several Chiffchaff moving through the trees, feeding. Spotted Flycatcher A Spotted Flycatcher was in the copse in the Car Park field seen and photographed by Geoff Emmett. On the beach by the Dinton Activity Centre were 2 Grey Wagtail and 4 Pied Wagtail feeding on the tide line.In Area 1 a Little Owl was seen in the Oak trees on the road to Ludgrove school by Ralph Watts.

30/08/20 Grey Heron In Area 10 a Redstart was still in the Copse in the middle of the Car Park field,with another also seen at the top of the field. Several Chiffchaff were calling from the hedges. By the Dinton Activity Centre a Grey Heron was sitting ,preening on the pontoon and around 350 Sand Martin and House Martin were feeding over Black Swan Lake and the Emm Brook.4 Raven flew over seen by Peter Scudamore.

29/08/20 Redstart & Female Blackcap In Area 7A a Green Woodpecker , Sparrowhawk and a charm of Goldfinch numbering 40 plus were seen in Ashridge Meadows. Goldfinch Meanwhile in the Area 10 Car Park field a Redstart was still lingering in the Copse in the middle of the field and was seen by Caroline Moore. Redstart photo courtesty of Caroline Moore.

28/08/20 Area 10 and the Car Park field again. Seen today were a Lesser Whitethroat by Fraser Cottington and Paul Bright Thomas saw a flyover Yellow Wagtail heading South , Whitethroat , Raven and 2 Reed Warbler in the bushes on the east side . A Redstart was seen by Brian Bennett on the fence at the car park field middle copse. In Area 8 at Old Forest Road Meadows a Chiffchaff and Whitethroat were seen by Paul O'Neill along with 50 House Sparrow in a small bramble bush in nearby Toutley Road.

27/08/20 In the Area 10 Car Park field this morning seen by Richard Marsh were Chiffchaff , Lesser Whitethroat , Whitethroat , 2+ Blackcap and a Redstart on the fence near the stile.

26/08/20 Several Chiffchaff were heard calling from the bushes in the Area 4 Balancing Pond.

24/08/20 Over Area 7A it was a bit of a Raptor fest. A Kestrel was hovering over the fields, looking for breakfast and a Common Buzzard was sharing the skies with a Red Kite .

23/08/20 Blackbird In Area 7A at Eldridge Park a male Blackbird was seen with a beak full of Worms.It must be feeding a 2nd brood of young nearby. in Area 3 along the river near Lidl at Molly Millars LaneHerring Gull 6 Herring Gull were noisly calling on the roof of the flats and a Grey Wagtail flew from the banks upstream. A Chiffchaff was also heard calling.

18/08/20 A Hobby was seen over the landfill in Area 10 by Fraser Cottington.

16/08/20 At 04:20 a Tawny Owl was heard calling in Area 7A. Ralph Watts was in Area 1 and saw Common Buzzard , Little Owl, Ring necked Parakeet and 10 + Goldfinch .

15/08/20 Swallow An early morning visit to Area 1 paid dividinds with at least 30 Swallow feeding around the cattle fields adjacent to the path to Ludgrove School and  House Martin 1 House Martin . They all settled on a fence before heading south on their reverse migration. Ring necked Parakeet 8 Ring necked Parakeet were noisily flying across the meadows before landing in a tree Later in the day 2 adult Little Owl were seen feeding a juvenile at the same location by Sean Stevenson.

11/08/20 In Area 10, 2 Hobby were the over far end of Car Park field briefly, 15+ Blackcap approximately in the big Hawthorn,a Willow Warbler and 3+ Chiffchaff , seen by Fraser Cottington

10/08/20 A Kingfisher was heard flying up the Emm Brook in Arae 4 and a Willow Warbler was seen by Paul Bright Thomas whilst looking for a Black Redstart seen on a neighbours roof before flying towards Kingfisher Bridge. 4 Red Kite were on the evening thermals over Area 5.

09/08/20 Greenshank  In Area 4 a Ring necked Parakeet was heard calling whilst flying over Paul Bright-Thomas's house. In Area 10 a Greenshank flew in to the Balancing Pool from Lea Farm seen by Fraser Cottington.

08/08/20 Flying over Lavells Lake in Area 10 Nick Kightley had 8 Little Egret and a Grey Wagtail

07/08/20 Whitethroat  A Whitethroat was in the reeds to right of the hide on Lavells Lake in Area 10 seen by Fraser Cottington.Photo courtesy of Tony Ward.

06/08/20 Grey Heron At Heathlake in Area 1 on the edge of the lake was a juvenile Grey Heron it was fishing with reasonable success as was a Cormorrant catching several fish. A juvenile Coot was very noisely begging for food from its parents.Grey Heron In Area 4 a juvenile Green Woodpecker was feeding on lawns.

05/08/20 In Area 7 a Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen on top of a street light by Paul O'Neill

04/08/20 On the scrape at Lavells Lake in Area 10 variable numbers of Green Sandpiper can be seen on a daily basis.

02/08/20 Little Owl Sean Stevenson was by Ludgrove School in Area 1 this morning and sitting on a post was an adult Little Owl feeding a juvenile,another adult and a juvenile were nearby.Walking along the river in Area 5 near Woosehill roundabout and a Kingfisher was flying upstream towards me before veering off.Green Woodpecker 2 Grey Wagtail were feeding by the railway bridge in Area 6. Earlier in Area 7A a Green Woodpecker was silhouetted on top of its favourite tree.

01/08/20 In Area 7A at Eldridge Park Ring necked Parakeet were heard calling and Skylark were singing up high. A juvenile Grey Heron was stood on the banks of the Ashridge Stream and the male Yellowhammer was still singing .Around the Car Park field in Area 10 a Whitethroat was with 2 Blackcap a male and juvenile female and a Green Woodpecker seen by Trevor Guyatt.


30/08/20  Oak hook-tip With reasonable night time weather predicted and it being National Moth Night, the moth trap went out overnight in Area 7A and was emptied this morning . Numbers were down on previous night due to recent colder nights, totalling 50 moths of 20 species including  Blood-vein Oak hook-tip Drepana binaria , Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria and a battered Blood-vein Timandra comae. Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released. Common Carder bee In Area 8 a Common Carder bee Hemistola chrysoprasaria was feeding on a Teasel head and a Rose sawfly Arge ochropus .

29/08/20  Red-tailed bumblebee On Knapweed in Area 7A at Ashridge Park was a Red-tailed bumblebee Bombus lapidarius looking a bit lethargic in the cool weather.

26/08/20  Common Darter In Area 4 in the Balancing Pond at lunchtime, 3 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum dragonfly were stopping everynow and then on a log over the central channel. Also seen was several Small White Pieris rapae .

23/08/20  Ophion luteus Also caught in the moth trap from last night in Area 7A and finally identified today were the nocturnal Ichneumon wasp Ophion luteus . It is attracted to light so is often found in moth traps.  Orthops kalmii . The plant bug Orthops kalmii that can often be found on umbellifers during the day and  
Phytocoris tiliae Phytocoris tiliae Phytocoris species have a distinctive appearance due to the long hind femora and long 1st antennal segment. Ruby Tiger Found attracted to an outside light this morning was a Ruby Tiger Phragmatobia fuliginosa . Nail Gall .In Area 3 at Molly Millars Lane the Galls of the gall mite Eriophyes tillae known as the Nail Gall were on a Lime tree.

22/08/20  Light Emerald Despite the wind and the prospect of a bit of overnight rain the moth trap went out in Area 7A . Again about 100 moths of 20+ species were attracted to the light. Highlights were a Light Emerald Campaea margaritaria , Large Ranunculus Polymixis flavicincta ,  Large Ranunculus , Green Carpet Atethmia centrago and the micro moth Catoptrici falsella a first for the FOTEB list. Catoptrici falsella Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

21/08/20  Male Migrant Hawker The sun came out again in Area 10 at the Car Park field and I saw 2 more Male Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta Dragonfly. Male Migrant Hawker A Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum anda Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum

20/08/20  Male Migrant Hawker Following a few days that have not been condusive to Insect watching, Paul Hopcroft visited the Area 4 Balancing Pond and saw a Male Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta Dragonfly.

16/08/20  Chinese Charecter With the weather forcast predicting no overnight rain the moth trap went out in Area 7A. 150 moths of 30 species greeted me in the morning. Highlights were a worn Chinese Charecter Cilix glaucata .When fresh this moth has delicate silvery markings on some of the veins, and these suggest a character in the Chinese alphabet, hence its common name. This mixture of white with brown markings provides excellent camouflage, Male Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar .  Male  Gypsy Moth , Centre-barred Sallow Atethmia centrago Maple Prominent Ptilodon cucullina and  Centre-barred Sallow Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

10/08/20  Knopper & Artichoke Gall A quick "mad dogs" lunchtime visit in the midday sun to the Balancing pond in Area 4 saw me inspecting a small Oak tree, which had been visited by various Gall-causing invertebrates. The various varities of Oak in the UK play host to approx 50 different galls. Seen were Artichoke Gall Andricus foecundatrix on the left in photo and Knopper Gall Andricus quercuscalicis on the same branch. Common Spangle Gall . Also seen were Common Spangle Gall Neuroterus quercusbaccarum each gall has a central "pimple" and scattered tufts of red hair and  Silk button spangle Gall Silk button spangle Gall Neuroterus numismalis a spectacular gall especially when looked at closely. The raised edges of the cup appears to have been embroided with silky golden hairs.

09/08/20  Burnished Brass With the warm weather continuing the moth trap was out overnight in Area 7A and just to prove that all moths aren't boring and brown was a Burnished Brass Diachrysia chrysitis A total of 100+ moths of 25 species and for some bizarre reason about 50 Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris which made going through the catch interesting.  September Thorn & Dusky Thorn Also caught was September Thorn Ennomos erosaria on left in photo and Dusky Thorn Ennomos fuscantaria, Ear Moth Amphipoea oculea, Ear Moth Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea and Orange Swift Triodia sylvina.Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

08/08/20  Purple Hairstreak I was out in the Balancing pond in Area 4 with my sweep net this morning. A first for me and FOTEB was a Purple Hairstreak Miltochrista miniata butterfly, resting on vegetation, this brings the years total to 21 species.Several Bishops Mitre Shieldbug Aelia acuminata a large and distinctive striped shieldbug with an obviously pointed head and ridged pronotum , a Bishops Mitre Shieldbug 16 spot Ladybird Tytthaspis sedecimpunctata , numerous Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus , Roesel's bush-cricket Metrioptera roeselii , Cicadella virdis 4 male Common Darter Chorthippus parallelus dragonfly were chasing each other around the channel and a Leaf hopper Cicadella virdis .

07/08/20 Rosy Footman The moth trap was out overnight in Area 7A. Emptying it this morning revealed 26 species of moth and a lot of other insects. Highlights included Rosy Footman Miltochrista miniata , Black Arches Lymantria monacha ,Iron Prominent Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius and Sallow Kitten Furcula furcula .Sallow Kitten Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

06/08/20 Male Brown Hawker Late news from 29th July 2020. A male Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis dragonfly was seen in the Area 4 Balancing pond by Paul Hopcroft.

05/08/20  Copulating Common Blue Damselfly In Area 10 Damselflies were on the wing. Seen were male and female Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens and male and female Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum along the Emm by the Dinton Activity Centre.

04/08/20 Red Bug In the Car Park Field off Sandford Lane in Area 10 was a Red Bug Deraeocoris ruber in the grass.This bug feeds on small insects. There is still time to sit back and count butterflies for the Big Butterfly Count, all you need is 15 minutes and a sunny spot, so if you get the chance between now and Sunday 9th August it is well worth it, you never know what you might see. Details can be found on their website, Big Butterfly Count . along with a downloadable chart and you can also use smartphone apps which make recording your sightings even easier.At the car park field in Area 10 at lunch time were Brown Argus Aricia Agestis , Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina and Small White Pieris rapae .

01/08/20 European hornet in Area 7A my first European hornet Vespa crabro of the year was seen.

Plants/ Trees

31/08/20   Hops  By the bridge over the Emm Brook adjacent to the Car Park field in Area 10 are Hops Humulus lupulus . Hop is a sun-loving, climbing plant that is most famous for its role in beer-making. Hop bears male and female flowers on different plants: the male flowers are small, but the female ones are like large, scaled apples and are unmistakeable. The cone-shaped fruits are known as strobiles.

30/08/20   Common Toadflax  Walking around Area 8 this morning I saw Common Toadflax Linaria vulgaris , Cornflower Centaurea cyanis ,   Ladys Thumb  Ladys Thumb Polygonum persicaria Also known as Redshank is common on roadside verges.  Wild Carrot Wild Carrot Daucus carota It is closely related to the cultivated Carrot and Wild Radish Raphanus Raphanistrumand

21/08/20   Guelder Rose  In the hedgerow around the Car Park field in Area 10 is Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus , in the Autumn the leaves turn to red and round, translucent, bright red berries appear in hanging bunches.

18/08/20   Sloe  Sloe berries the fruit of Blackthorn Prunus spinosa are starting to ripen in the hedgerows all along the Emm.

12/08/20 Common Fleabane  Along the Emm most of the plants, like me seem to be suffering in the heat. However a Common Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica, which has found a handy position on the banks of the Ashridge stream seems to be coping.

08/08/20 Purple Loosestrife  In the Balancing Pond in Area 4 is a sea of Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria also seen was Common Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Fennel Scrophularia auriculataFennel  and Spearmint Scrophularia auriculata

02/08/20 Water Figwort  Along the banks of the Emm in Area 5 Water Figwort Scrophularia auriculata can be seen .Its maroon flowers are pollinated by the Common wasp.


29/08/20 Field Mushroom In the Area 10 Car Park field were what I believe to be Field Mushroom Agaricus campestris . But I wouldn't trust my judgement enough to eat them.

02/08/20 Chicken of the woods On the FOTEB notice board in Area 5 is a fine example of Chicken of the woods Laetiporus sulphureus .

Amphibians and Reptiles


29/08/20 Rabbit Grazing the grass in the Area 10 Car Park field, this morning were quite a few Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus .They were first introduced to the UK by the Normans for food and fur. They live in large groups in underground burrow systems known as ‘warrens’. Female rabbits, called ‘does’ produce one litter of between three and seven babies every month during the breeding season – that’s a lot of little ones!

21/08/20 Heavy Horses Currently grazing the Area 10 Car Park field are 2 of the UK’s largest land Mammals the Horse Equus caballus . The black horse is a Shire horse,the original war horse. They are a traditional English breed and there are only 1500 left in the world,making them rarer than the giant panda. The brown horse is a Suffolk Punch, they are on the critically endangered list and only 60 breeding mares are left in the UK and 300 left in the world.

17/08/20 At 06:00 in Area 7A 2 Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus bats were feeding around my house.

04/08/20 Roe Deer In Area 4 a male Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus is still being regularly seen.

02/08/20 Running along the bottom of the Railway embankment in Area 6 was 3 Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus 2 Adult and 1 juvenile.

01/08/20 At 01:00 in Area 5 a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was seen running around Brookside by Fran Stickler

Fish/ Crustaceans