Latest Sightings February 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.

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 February

All sightings unless stated are from personal observations by Eddie Napper

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


29/02/20 Canada Goose The month ended pretty much as it had started wet,windy a named storm and generally horrible. Even the extra February day on this leap year didn't help as it was Storm Jorge's turn to test the defences. In the fields in Area 1 Canada Goose numbers reached 8 along with good numbers of Black headed Gull and Common Gull . Also out in Area 1 was Sean Stevenson who saw a Grey Heron narrowly escape the clutches of a Fox that burst through the hedgerow.

26/02/20 Kestrel With the sun just about shining a quick trip to Area 1 at lunchtime paid dividends with a good Raptor count. Patrolling the skies were Red Kite and Buzzard . Meanwile a Kestrel was taking a more low level approach to hunting, checking out possible victims from fence height.A Little Owl Little Owl was again in its usual Oak tree at Chapel Green. Over the fields Skylark were singing. In Area 10 a Grey Wagtail was seen by the pontoon at the Activity Centre by Richard Marsh. A Skylark was over the landfill seen by Nick Kightley and Coal Tit and Nuthatch were calling by the car park field, topped off by a fly through Peregrine all seen by Simon Proddow.

23/02/20 Black headed Gull Blue Tits and Great Tits seem to have deserted my well stocked Area 5 garden feeders today , perhaps for richer pickings elsewhere, or maybe its because its so mild. Seen this morning were the usual Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove , Starling and Goldfinch . Song Thrush and Robin were both singing before dawn. Please disregard anything thats been written before. Once the aforementioned had left the area both Blue Tit and Great Tit appeared. I guess that this is the current "pecking order". Word came of a Brambling and 4 Ring necked Parakeet seen by Shaun Stevenson in Area 1 adjacent to the path to Gorrick Woods. I decided to pay a visit but in windy conditions both were not seen. However the adjacent fields were heaving with birds.Common Gull A solitary Grey Heron, numerous Black headed Gull many starting to show "Summer plumage". Between early autumn and late winter they have white heads with a dark smudge on the cheek; only in early spring do they acquire the ‘black’ hood, which is actually chocolate brown. Also seen were a fly over Buzzard, several Black headed Gull , Jackdaw and Starling that seemed to be lapping up the conditions on the wet fields.

22/02/20 Area 10 again and the Barn Owl was seen in its box by Fraser Cottington.

21/02/20 In Area 10 seen and heard calling over the Car Park field, heading towards Winnersh were 8 Linnet . Seen by Nick Kightley

18/02/20 Finally someone was able to get out and about, although there is still plenty of flooding out there. In Area 10 seen from the Car Park field by Fraser Cottington were 8 Little Egret, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark and 6 Fieldfare.

16/02/20 Emm Brook Nothing to report again today with Dennis still menacing his way across the area. Wind speeds reached 31.1 mph and 17.7mm of rain fell during more than 12 hours of continious raifall. Sandford Lane in Area 10 was closed as the Emm breached its banks and the rest of the river was running full bore. The above picture is from Area 5.Emm Brook River Levels The Enviroment Agency has a river level monitoring station in the Emm Brook, in Area 2 at the Tesco roundaboutThe Environment Agency Website where it flows under Finchampstead Road. You can see how the levels rose significantly during the storm but also dropped quickly.

15/02/20 As Storm Dennis tracks its way across the UK with wind gusts locally of 33.6 mph and 5mm of rain it was another day spent staying dry. With worse apparently to come tomorrow I'll keep an eye on the river.

14/02/20 Des Sussex was at Heathlake in Area 1 and saw a pair of Gadwall and a pair of Shoveller on the lake.

13/02/20 At 17.54 a male Tawny Owl was calling and showing in trees just south of the Green Bridge where the Emm Brook meets the Loddon in Area 10 seen by Brian Bennett.

12/02/20 At 16:30 a Common Buzzard was seen flying over Lowther Road in Area 6 being mobbed by Carrion Crows and then later over Area 5.

11/02/20 A Little Owl was sitting in the Oak trees at Chapel Green near the road to Ludgrove School in Area 1 seen by Rik Dawson. In Area 10 at the Car Park field a Common Buzzard was sitting on a fence post seen by John Kearns.

09/02/20 With Storm Ciara battering the South it was another day watching the feeders in my Area 5 garden and catching up with Household chores. With the wind gusting at 41.2mph locally it was no suprise that there were 10 Goldfinch enjoying an easy meal under arduous conditions. Most other birds seemed to remain hunkered down, waiting for the storm to pass and who can blame them.

08/02/20 In Area 10 and the Car Park field. A Common Buzzard was sitting on a fence post seen by Anne Cronin.

06/02/20 Little Owl When the mist and fog finally disappeared, I ventured out into Area 1 in the glorious sunshine late afternoon. In the Oak trees at Chapel Green off the footpath to Ludgrove School, 2 Little Owl were sunbathing (top left and bottom right in the picture). Hopefully this a pair getting ready for Spring. Ring necked Parakeets were calling andGrey Heron 3 Grey Heron also appeared to be taking in the sun, with 4 Jackdaw on the big dead tree at the very end of the "flooded field".

05/02/20 Bar headed Goose A Kingfisher flew over the scrape at Lavell’s Lake in Area 10 heading towards the Emm Brook seen by Richard Marsh.In the "Wet Meadow" to the rear of Bittern Hide were Canada Goose, Greylag Goose and 1 Bar headed Goose grazing on the grass. Photo courtesy of Geof Slocombe. Also on the island nearest the Dinton Activity Centre on Black Swan Lake an Oystercatcher was seen by Fraser Cottington.

04/02/20 Area 10 again and the Car Park field. A Green Woodpecker was seen by John Kearns.

03/02/20 2 Raven flew over the landfill heading east in Area 10 seen from the top of the Car Park field by Fraser Cottington.

02/02/20 Great spotted Woodpecker A Great spotted Woodpecker was on my garden Sunflower feeders again this morning. Picture taken through window.In Area 10 a Grey Wagtail was at the puddles in the car park before flying off. On the Old Golf Course 55 + Fieldfare , 30 Redwing and 2 Mistle Thrush all seen by Fraser Cottington.

01/02/20 Heathlake in Area 1 was visited this morning 1 Grey Heron and 4 Cormorrant were roosting in the trees on the island. The lake itself held the usual mixture of Mallard, Coot , Moorhen , 2 Mute Swan , Great crested Grebe and approx 40 Black headed Gulls .



Assisted by the wind , a Queen Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris was seen moving quickly through Area 5.


Wasp Beetle In a slightly bizzare evening moment a Beetle was removed from my partners glass of Red Wine and placed on a piece of kitchen towel for later identification . However on my return it had moved and was clearly alive although probably inebriated. It was relocated and placed in a pot. It turned out to be a Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis .These Wasp mimics are not usually out till May and usually in Woodland I can only assume that it had pupated and emerged from the warmth of the fireside log pile.


Spring Usher With the weather forcast predicting mild and cloudy weather the Moth trap was put out overnight in my Area 5 garden for the first time this year and turned off before the ealy morning rain. In defference to my neighbours the 125W Mercury Vapour bulb was switched to a 20W Actinic Lamp.These often work better at gathering what few moth species are on the wing at this time of year.  Male Pale Brindled Beauty Only 2 moths appeared and not in the trap but on the sheet behind . The first was a male Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria The females of this species are completely wingless, a feature which is often found in moths which emerge in the winter months. The males fly from January to March, searching for the females which have climbed up tree-trunks. The second was a Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia . Wood Ant Hill A visit was also made to Gorrick Woods looking for active ant hills. A small one was found occupied by Southern Wood Ant Formica rufa Wood Ant hills/nests are made from a mass of gathered pine needles, which are typically placed on top of old tree stumps. Nests can reach a few metres in height. Southern Wood Ant The Southern Wood Ant, is an aggressive predator, equipped with large, biting jaws and the ability to spray formic acid in defence. It feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates, which the workers collect from the area surrounding their colony. Southern Wood Ants build large nests out of soil, twigs, leaves and pine needles. Colonies can sometimes number up to half a million individuals comprising non-reproducing female workers, a queen (or queens) that produces eggs, and males that mate with the queen.

Plants/ Trees

23/02/20  Common gorse  Alongside the path to Ludgrove School in Area 1 Common gorse Ulex europaeus is now in flower. This large shrub is a member of the pea family. It generally flowers from January to June ,although it may flower sporadically throughout the year.It provides shelter and food for many insects and birds.It is covered in needle-like leaves and has a distinctive, coconut-perfumed, yellow flowers during the spring and summer. Fallen Oak  I assume brought down by the recent high winds one of the mighty old Oaks was lying less than majestically prone on the floor.

22/02/20  Lesser Celandine  As a harbinger of Spring, the sight of Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna is a sure sign of brighter & warmer days to come. Charming and cheerful, the star-shaped flowers of this member of the Buttercup family brighten up the woodland floor. As one of the first flowers to appear after winter, they provide an important nectar source for queen bumblebees and other pollinators emerging from hibernation, and other early insects.

21/02/20  Mistletoe On trees by the river in Area 5 Mistletoe Erinaceus europaeus is still easy to pick out in the bare branches.


Blackthorn Flowers In Area 7 by Emmbrook Secondary School Blackthorn Prunus spinosa are in flower.The flowers are white and appear early , before the leaves. They have 5 petals, either singularly or in pairs on the stems and often occur in huge numbers. They are one of the first sources of nectar and pollen for insects that emerge early in the spring.


Cuckoo Pint Back to Area 4 at lunchtime, rummaging around in the wooded area adjacent to the Emm and the green leaves of Cuckoo Pint Arum maculatum can be seen. Cuckoo Pint has large arrow head shaped leaves, which are glossy green and have black or purplish blotches. When spring arrives, these leaves may be one of the first to emerge from the ground in shady habitats. The extraordinary flower has a white-green blotched sheath, which form a pitcher shaped surround ( called a spath ) to the purple finger-like spadix. The spadix arises from the real hidden flower below. The Cuckoo Pint has an interesting way of being pollinated, flies can go into a hidden chamber in the flower, but an arrangement of hairs prevents them from flying out again. However this is not meant to be a death trap, but a simple way to ensure that the insects stay for the night to pollinate the flowers. The next day the stamens will mature and shed pollen on the flies. This process results in the withering of the hairs and the insects are free once more to fly off to find another similar hotel room for the night. Later on in the year, all that remains of the plant is the fruiting stalk with bright orange-red berries. Also seen was the Italian Cuckoo Pint Arum italicum Cuckoo Pint This is almost identical but has green and white variagated leaves.


Alder Alongside Kingfisher Bridge in Area 4 the catkins of Alder Alnus glutinosa can be seen. Its natural habitat is moist ground near rivers, ponds and lakes and it thrives in damp, cool areas. Flowers are on catkins which appear between February and April. 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. Once pollinated by wind, the female catkins gradually become woody and appear as tiny, cone-like fruits in winter. They open up to release their seeds, which are dispersed by wind and water.The seeds are a favourite of Siskin , Goldfinch and Redpoll.


Hard Fern Seen in Gorrick Woods in Area 1 was the Hard Fern Blechnum spicant Hard Fern is a hardy evergreen fern. It can grow 45–60cm tall and 45–90cm wide, and remains green and fertile for most of the year. The Leaves/fronds are single pinnate, which means that the individual leaflets the frond is divided into, known as the pinnae, aren’t further divided. They grow directly opposite each other on the stem which gives them a herringbone appearance. They taper in at both the tip and the bottom of the stem.

Why do leaves change colour


01/02/20 Purplepore Bracket On a small dying Conifer in Gorrick Woods Area 1 was Purplepore Bracket Trichaptum abietinum . Purplepore Bracket is a distinctive bracket fungus with a deep brown or purple pore surface. It generally appears as fan shaped brackets up to 5 cm across with thin, undulating margins, usually in rows or overlapping tiers. The upperside of the bracket is bumpy and ridged with a felty or hairy surface. It is faintly concentrically zoned in grey, white and pale brown with a pinkish-purple margin. It can often be discoloured green by algae. The underside of the bracket has rounded or elongated pores stretching into a net-like pattern. It is violet at first becoming brownish, but with the margin retains the original purple colour as can be seen in the photo.

Amphibians and Reptiles


06/02/20 Grey Squirrel Area 1 was bathed in glorious sunshine late afternoon. In the Oak trees at Chapel Green off the footpath to Ludgrove School, 2 Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis were up to their usual antics at this time of year chasing each other through the trees. However one of them seemed to take a "time out" and hang upside down motionless on the tree trunk for 3 minutes sunbathing. Suitably replenished it then continued its amourous pursuits.

Fish/ Crustaceans