Latest Sightings December 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 December

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.



31/12/20  Male Gooseander With some of Heathlake in Area 1 iced up it brought the male Gooseander even closer and I couldnt resist a photo.

30/12/20  Common Buzzard Seen around the bottom of the car park field in Area 10 by Fraser Cottington were 50 + Meadow Pipit flying away. In Area 1 at Heathlake a male Gooseander was still present and in Area 7A a distant Common Buzzard was seen perched in a tree.

29/12/20 A Kestrel was seen sitting on a roadside tree in between flights hunting for its lunch in Area 7A. In Area 1 a Kingfisher was seen briefly on the small pond adjacent to Heathlake.

28/12/20  Redwing In Area 1 at Heathlake the Male and female Gooseander were still there in the afternoon seen by Kev Colbran. In Area 2 behind Tesco a small flock of Redwing were flying between the hedges and the horse paddock.

27/12/20  Male Gooseander Seen around the bottom of the car park field in Area 10 by Fraser Cottington were 2 Fieldfare a flyover Mistle Thrush and Great Black-backed Gull . A possible Linnet was heard. Patrick Crowley was out again in Area 1 at Heathlake. On the lake was a male Gooseander 12 Pochard 10 male and 2 female and 16 Tufted Duck 14 male and 2 female. 13 Cormorrant were also seen.

26/12/20  Rook and Jackdaw A bit of a dull and dank start to the day and with Storm Bella predicted to bring its apocalyptic wind and rain to the area I was out early. I started in Area 10 with 7 Ring necked Parakeets that flew over the car park field, a Song Thrush was singing from the treetops and a small flock of Blue and Great Tit were moving through the hedgrerows.Predictabily Red Kite were also patrolling the skies.Small groups of Canada Goose flew back and forth from the lakes. On the Emm Brook 2 male and 2 female Mallard were moving downstream . In Area 1 it was the usual farmland species with a field full of Corvids Jackdaw , Carrion Crow and Rook .

25/12/20 On a lovely bright sunny morning with a cloudless blue sky in Area 7A a Great spotted Woodpecker was sat like a fairy on top of tallest dead branch of its favourite tree.Also seen were a Black headed Gull and 8 Carrion Crow .

24/12/20  Grey Heron A Christmas Eve walk was taken around Area 1 at the drive to Ludgrove School. The only thing of note were 8 Grey Heron on the edge of the flooded field.

23/12/20 Patrick Crowley was in Area 1 at Heath Lake and saw a male and female Shoveler , 15 Tufted Duck and 2 male and 3 female Pochard on the water. 21/12/20  Male House Sparrow On the "Shortest Day" of the year I took an appropriately quick lunch time stroll in Area 4. Nuthatch was calling from the riverside trees, Blue Tit and Great Tit were also moving through the trees. A noisy Jay was picking Acorns off the ground and a Buzzard was patrolling the area. A small flock of House Sparrow were moving between the safety of the nearby bushes and the lure of Garden feeders.

20/12/20  Lapwing With Berkshire now in Tier 4, I went out for an exercise stroll around the Emm Brook to try and search for solace in the latest lockdown. I chose Area 1 and took in Gorrick Woods and then the footpath back to Ludgrove. In the Cattle fields were 15 Herring Gull and at a particularly muddy patch near the Hay feeders were 8 distant Lapwing . On the walk to the woods  Goldfinch 2 Goldfinch were feeding on the Ash seeds. Coal Tit were seen in the pines.At Ludgrove 7 Grey Heron  Little Egret were on the flooded field and in with the cattle was a Little Egret . Several Ring necked Parakeet were calling from the trees and a Green Woodpecker was heard calling. Earlier in the day at 07:25 Sean Stevenson saw a Barn Owl flying through the gloom across the drive to Ludgrove.

19/12/20 In between the bouts of sunshine and heavy rain a Song Thrush was heard singing stridently from the trees in Area 2 as I came out of Tesco with Christmas provisions. Staring and Jackdaw were on the power lines nearby.

16/12/20 In Area 1 on a wet and cold lunchtime visit to the flooded fields at Ludgrove School 7 Grey Heron were sat around the edges of the flood, whilst 15 Mallard were on the flood. A Kestrel flew over and landed on power cables surveying the world.

12/12/20  Great Spotted Woodpecker In Area 7A a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was back again on its favourite dead tree.

10/12/20 Lunchtime was spent in Area 4 around Kingfisher Bridge a Nuthatch was calling from the trees, a Dunnock was moving through the bushes occasionaly singing and a dozen Fieldfare were in the Riverside trees, identifiable by their constant gentle chatter.

08/12/20 Heard calling as it flew through the fog and then just about seen was an Egyptian Goose flying over Area 4 found by Paul Bright Thomas.

10/12/20 Lunchtime was spent in Area 4 around Kingfisher Bridge Song Thrush was sin

06/12/20  Song Thrush With the "Shortest Day" not far away a Song Thrush was singing from the top of a tree in the Car Park field in Area 10, presumabely setting up a territory in readiness for Spring.

05/12/20  Grey Heron A cold start to the day, but the sun eventually came out at lunch time. I visited Area 10 in the morning, a Grey Heron was fishing near the Dinton Activity Centre on the edge of Black Swan Lake. A couple of Juvenile Mute Swan  Juvenile Mute Swan were also a bit further up the Beach and Tufted Duck were on the lake with Mallard . Several Jay were chattering away in the car park Laurels.  Common Buzzard I was also wandering around Area 8 when I noticed a Common Buzzard flying across Old Forest Meadows being harrased by a Magpie . The Buzzard decided to park up in a tree and was joined by the Magpie on the same branch. It then decided to tug at the tail feathers of the Buzzard not once but 3 times before the Buzzard got fed up with the annoying Magpie and left. Not the sort of behaviour that I have seen before.

02/12/20  Kestrel An altogether gloomier lunchtime was spent around Area 4. Only standout bird was a Kestrel that landed in the top of a fir tree, before flying off.

01/12/20  Robin Its that time of year again despite Lockdowns and now Tiers. So what better to do than post a picture of a Robin seen in a hedge in Area 5 enjoying the lunchtime sunshine as I was.


25/12/20 Despite a predicted cold night with the temperature hovering around zero, the moth trap was put out in Area 7A and was emptied this morning.The forecast was correct but at least no rain.The trap unfortunately produced the first zero return of the year .

20/12/20   Mottled Umber With no overnight rain and mild temperatures predicted the moth trap was out overnight in Area 7A and was emptied this morning.Unfortunately the forecast was slightly wrong however with 30 mins of rain between 04 00 and 04:30.This might account for the meagre catch with 3 moths of 2 species. They were 2 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata and 1 very worn looking Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria .Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

10/12/20  Winter Moth The moth trap was out overnight for the first time this month in Area 7A and was emptied this morning. Following nights of low temperatures and freezing fog, it was good to see what was about. It was however a fairly standard catch for the time of year with 11 moths of 2 species. They were 2 December Moth Poecilocampa populi and 9 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata . December Moth . Also in the trap was the Ichneumon Fly Ophion obscuratus agg .Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

07/12/20  Brachypera troilus The mystery Weevil found in the Moth trap in Area 7A on 29/11/20 has been identified by FOTEB Committee Member Jon Cole as Brachypera troilus . Both adults and larvae feed nocturnally on the upper parts , host stems and foliage of Clover.  Brachypera troilus This is a first for the FOTEB list. Many thanks to Jon for his assistance and for the superb photos .

02/12/20 We don’t expect to see many insects on the wing in winter, but just a little sunshine draws out swarms of tiny dancers. These are male Winter Gnats Trichocera annulata delicate leggy flies which are dancing to impress the females. Though they are active year-round, Winter gnats are most noticeable in the colder months when the males perform their courtship dances. Swarms gather in areas that are kept warmer by the sun. Sometimes following people purely for the heat they give off (though they resemble mosquitoes they do not bite). In low winter sunshine, the reflective wings of the dancing swarms can make them appear like apparitions. In fact the gatherings are sometimes called ‘ghosts’ This act of gathering together to attract mates is known as ‘lekking’ and is thought to make them easier for females to find. Each male flies up and down to his own rhythm, but they cleverly space and pace themselves out to avoid colliding with others in the swarm. If threatened, they are quick to scatter and re-join nearby. These swarms inevitably attract predators too. Small birds snap up the flies for a much-needed protein snack. Once mated, the female lays her eggs amongst decaying vegetation, which the larvae feed on. When the adults emerge they are often attracted to electric lights and can be found on windows after entering houses. They do no harm indoors. Instead, this is a chance to appreciate their delicate beauty.

01/12/20  Bluebottle I am often asked 'Where do flies go in winter?' it is a classic wildlife question, but there are over 7,000 species of flies in the British Isles, and although we may not notice the smallest ones, many of them remain active throughout the year.It’s the larger flies that attract our attention on sunny winter days when they bask on tree trunks or buzz at our windows. Many of these flies are muscids, which include the blowflies or bluebottles, and their relatives such as the common house fly (Musca domestica).Most spend the winter as adults in cracks and crannies and wake up in spring to lay their eggs on decaying matter. This Bluebottle Calliphora vicina was on the Lombardy Poplars by Kingfisher Bridge in Area 4.

Plants/ Trees

As the leaves on the trees and hedgerows start to change colour to a yellowey gold, find out why at Why do leaves change colour .

27/12/20 Alder Catkins All along the river Common Alder Alnus glutinosa can be seen. Particularly noticeable at this time of the year are the catkins. A catkin is a cluster of unisexual flowers that have no petals. On wind pollinated trees, most catkins are long and thin and hang down below the shoot.Alder is monoecious, which means that both male and female flowers are found on the same tree. Male catkins are pendulous, measuring 2–6cm, and turn yellow. Female catkins are green and oval-shaped and are grouped in numbers of three to eight on each stalk.

23/12/20 Black Bryony In Area 5 is all thats left of one of my favourite hedgerow plants Black Bryony Tamus communis . It scrambles over hedges and has exotic, glossy dark green, heart shaped leaves, which are followed in the Autumn by strings of red berries. It almost seems too exotic for this country and it is fitting that it is Britain’s only member of the mainly tropical Yam family, Dioscoreaceae. Black Bryony is a common plant. In autumn Black Bryony dies back and stores its energy underground in an irregularly shaped blackish tuber. In spring shoots appear and rapidly grow upwards, twining round the supporting hedge or fence. Black Bryony is a poisonous plant. It contains a variety of toxic compounds but it is calcium oxalate crystals (known as raphides) that are mainly responsible for the various symptoms that occur. Black Bryony is not related to White Bryony Bryonia dioica another twining hedgerow plant that is a member of the Cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae.

19/12/20 Gorse In Area 7A Gorse Ulex europaeus is in flower. Gorse is usually a large, evergreen shrub covered in needle-like leaves and distinctive, coconut-perfumed, yellow flowers during the spring and summer.It generally flowers from January to June (although it may flower sporadically throughout the year).

05/12/20  Loddon Lily Down by the Emm in Area 10 Loddon Lily Leucojum aestivum have emerged through the ground but not yet in bud.


20/12/20 Sulpher Tuft= Whilst wandering around Gorrick Woods in Area 1 today several fungi were seen. Sulpher Tuft Tremella mesenterica Yellow Brain Fungus On a dead branch was Yellow Brain Fungus Tremella mesenterica and on the end of a rotting log was an Orange Slime Mould Arcyria ferruginea Slime Mould . Slime Moulds were once considered to be fungi but are now classified in a completely different kingdom. -

Amphibians and Reptiles


27/12/20 Red fox Walking around Area 5 this morning at 10:00 a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was seen running across the open space from the river towards the back gardens of Arthur Road.

10/12/20 Squirrel In Area 4 by Kingfisher Bridge at lunchtime a Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis was foraging around the edge of the river. The Squirrel's winter fur is dense and silvery grey with a brown tinge along the middle of the back. Summer fur is yellowish-brown. The grey squirrel does not hibernate and it cannot store enough energy to survive for long periods without food. A larger, thicker winter drey is built, usually on a strong branch close to the trunk, and a squirrel will lie up in this in very cold weather, coming out now and then to search out hidden stores of food. These stores of single nuts and other items are buried in the ground in autumn, well spread out. They are found by smell, rather than memory. Often they are not found at all and later may grow, helping the dispersal of trees. Winter dreys are often shared for warmth. As it sleeps, the squirrel curls its tail around its body to act as a blanket.

Fish/ Crustaceans