Latest Sightings February 2021

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 February

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.


28/02 /21  Little Egret Rick Dawson saw 2 Common Crossbill and a Raven in Gorrick Woods in Area 1. Area 10 at lunchtime a Cormorrant flew over. In Area 4 a Little Egret was sat in its usual tree.

27/02 /21  Reed Bunting A calling Raven was seen flying over Area 4 and a Little Egret was in the Brook. Both sightings by Paul Bright -Thomas. In Area 10 a singing male Reed Bunting was by Bittern Hide.

26/02 /21  Little Egret and Grey Heron In Area 7A a Common Buzzard was soaring on the thermals and in Area 1 in the flooded fields near Ludgrove School a Grey Heron was joined by a Little Egret .

25/02 /21  Wren I'm not quite sure what this Wren was contemplating next to the river in Area 4. Flying up Sandford Lane in Area 10 at 06:30 this morning was a Barn Owl seen by Fraser Cottington.

24/02 /21 A group of Carrion Crow took an extreme dislike to a Sparrowhawk that flew across their field in Area 7A. The same or another Sparrowhawk was seen over Area 6 by Paul O'Neill.

23/02 /21 A Peregrine was seen circling/drifting over Area 6 by Paul O'Neill.

22/02 /21 A returning migrant Wheatear was seen in the Car Park field in Area 10 by Andy Bishop, an early spring migrant Paul Bright-Thomas was watching in his Area 4 garden and saw 4 Black-headed Gull flying high North West and 87 Wood Pigeon going high North , the largest flock of 41 birds.

21/02 /21  Little Egret In Area 7A a Little Egret was making full use of the viewing platform looking for its Breakfast from the Ashridge Stream.  Dunnock I took a stroll around Area 1 and Luckley, seen and heard were Great spotted Woodpecker , Green Woodpecker , Song Thrush , Mistle Thrush , Redwing , Blackbird , Robin Black headed Gull , Herring Gull , Dunnock , Robin , Skylark and Red Kite .Another Little Egret with the start of its breeding plumes  Little Egret was seen fishing in Area 4 near KIngfisher Bridge. Another superb photo from a local river watcher.

20/02 /21  Pied Wagtail When the sun came out a Pied Wagtail appeared on the shed roof in Area 7A. Paul O'Neill saw the same birds as yesterday in Area 7A Redwing , Fieldfare , Meadow Pipit and Linnet .

19/02 /21 Paul O'Neill was in Area 7A this morning and saw a female Kestrel over the Ashridge Stream,also 2 Redwing and 2 Fieldfare were in the streamside bushes a flock of 25 Linnet which also contained a male Yellowhammer and a Meadow Pipit .3 Mallard were seen flying off from Ashridge Meadows in Area 7A at 15.45.A Little Egret was also seen in Ashridge Stream by Sue Farrington.

18/02 /21  Grey Heron A Mute Swan was seen flying over Paul Bright Thomas's house in Area 4. A Grey Heron was seen from my window in Area 7A and an Oystercatcher was seen on Goat Island from the DAC in Area 10 by Tim James.

16/02 /21 5 Pochard were seen on Heathlake by Des Sussex in Area 1 .3 Little Egret were seen flying low over the DAC in Area 10 by Fraser Cottington,meanwhile Tim James saw a Manderin around the feeding area.

15/02 /21  Starling A Sparrowhawk was in the reeds seen from Bittern hide by Adam McTiernan in Area 10.Just to prove how stunning a Starling can be.Seen in Area 4.

14/02 /21 In Area 10 a Goldcrest was moving through the hedgerow in the DAC Car Park and a Common Buzzard flew from a tree before flying off over the A329M.

13/02 /21  Bullfinch 3 male Bullfinch were seen in Area 10 this morning in a bitter southeasterly wind.

12/02 /21 In Area 4, Paul Bright Thomas was in his garden and saw a female Chaffinch and a Fieldfare .

11/02 /21  Nuthatch In Area 4 a Nuthatch was at the garden feeders ,originally bringing in its own nut to jam in the fence to make it easier to eat. Nuthatch Also seen were 2 Starling just coming into breeding plumage, Blue Tit and Great Tit .In Area 7A a Kestrel was hovering over the long grass on the embankment  Kestrel looking for its lunch . For more information on Starlings click here Starlings

10/02 /21 In Area 10 a pair of returning Oystercatcher were seen flying over Sanford Lane, calling, by Anne Cronin and in Area 7A ,2 Ring necked Parakeet were seen flying from Garden feeders.

09/02 /21  Lapwing The cold snap continues so staying local, I scoured the fields in Area 7A. In the middle of the field during a light snow flurry was 16 Lapwing , Redwing were also seen flying from the trees to feed on the field. As the snow started to get heavier, I packed up and went home.

08/02 /21  Male Tufted Duck With Storm Darcy (Beast from the East 2) still bringing cold winds and light snow, It was the briefest of visits to Heathlake and Area 1 at lunchtime. On an ice free lake were male and female Tufted Duck , (this Male showing a particularly fine tuft), Teal, Pochard and Mallard . Cormorrant The Cormorrant that was sat on the Island, wasn't covered in snow . Adult Cormorants develop these white 'filoplumes' on the head prior to breeding , they disappear gradually as the breeding season progresses. The amount of white varies , this is a particularly frosty one.

07/02 /21  Female Stonechat It was a bitterly cold day to be out, however Bec was at Ashridge Meadows in Area 7A and was rewarded with a female Stonechat . Stonechats are robin sized birds. Males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, Female Stonechat orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back. Females lack the male's black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests. Birds are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often doing so on the tops of low bushes. As its name suggests, birds utter a sharp loud call that sound like two stones being tapped together.

06/02 /21  Robin All along the Emm on this damp,misty and dull morning there is in fact spring sunshine. The winter soundtrack of Robin , Dunnock song has been replaced by a joyess and eclectic mix of Dunnock, Wren, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit  Blackbird Blackbird,and of course still the very much appreciated Robin. We are nearly there, Spring is on its way.Allbeit a few weeks away.

05/02 /21 Heard in Area 7A at 00:30 was a calling female Tawny Owl .

04/02 /21  Long-tailed Tit  Sent to me yesterday was a magnificent photo of a Long -tailed Tit taken alongside the Emm Brook in Area 4.  Feral Pigeon  Not to be outdone 20 of the local Feral Pigeon population were massing on TV aerials before arranging an invasion of local garden feeders.

03/02 /21  Red Kite  Wandering around Area 1 this morning I was reminded that although now a daily sighting, I never tire of the slow and elegant flight of the Red Kite , showing a profile that is unmistakable in the sky. Red Kite  Its a forked tailed and long winged bird of prey that effortlessly wheels over the landscape.

01/02 /21 Whilst clearing out nest boxes in Area's 4 & 5 this morning in readiness for the upcoming breeding season the following birds were heard and seen. A flyover Grey Heron , 5 Mute Swan , a singing Song Thrush a Magpie with a stick in its beak.Drumming Great spotted Woodpecker , calling Nuthatch , Blue Tit, Great Tit , Jay and 25 Redwing feeding under the trees.


27/02/21   7 Spot Ladybird As the sun came out so did the Insects. My first Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Butterfies of the year were seen.There is a view that the word 'butterfly' originates from the yellow colour of male Brimstones. Several Honey Bee Apis mellifera were feeding on the flowers of Gorse. What looked like a freshly emerged 7 spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata was also seen at the same spot.

26/02/21   Satellite The moth trap was out in Area 7A overnight and emptied this morning. The results were 12 moths of 4 species . The catch was 2 Satellite Eupsilia transversa their common name comes from the white stigmata on the reddish -brown ground colour, 1 Chestnut Conistra vacciniia,   Chestnut , 5 Small Brindled Beauty Apocheima hispidaria , and 4 of the Micro Moth Tortricodes alternella . Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught was released.

23/02/21   Hoverfly What I believe to be a Marmalade Fly Episyrphus balteatus was enjoying the delights of a Lesser Celandine in the lunchtime sunshine. This a very common Hoverfly.

21/02/21   Oak Beauty The moth trap was out again in Area 7A overnight from sunset to sunrise and emptied this morning.I obviously hadn't read the forecast correctly and there was a reasonable amount of rain from 05:00. This didnt however deter them from paying a visit. The results were 17 moths of 4 species . All of the Macro moths were outside of the trap on the barn wall, whilst the Micro's preferred the inside.   March Moth .The catch was 1 Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia, 1 Oak Beauty Apocheima hispidaria ,   Tortricodes alternella 7 March Moth Phigalia pilosaria and 7 of the Micro Moth Tortricodes alternella .  Minotaur beetle Also outside the trap were 2 Ophion obscuratus agg an Ichneumon Fly. Inside the trap was a Minotaur beetle Typhaeus typhoeus .So-named for its three bull-like horns, the Minotaur beetle is a large dung beetle. Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught was released.

20/02/21 In a bizarre moment a Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris , flew through my open window landed on a Hyacyinth on the window sill filled up on nectar and dissapeared as quick as it had arrived.

04/02/21   Spring Usher With the prospect of a second dry night of reasonable temperatures, the moth trap was out again in Area 7A and emptied this morning. The results were 12 moths of 3 species . All of the moths were outside of the trap on the barn wall.   Small Brindled Beauty The catch was 7 Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia, 1 Small Brindled Beauty Apocheima hispidaria ,   Pale Brindled Beauty and 4 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. Ophion obscuratus agg Also outside the trap was a Ophion obscuratus agg It is an Ichneumon Fly. It flies most of the year and readily comes to light.Females lay their eggs in the caterpillars of various noctuid moths. Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught was released.

Plants/ Trees

27/02/21  Dog Violet Whilst down by the pond in Area 5, I noticed that Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris are emerging. In Area 10 were Dog Violet Viola riviniana Caltha palustris  Blackthorn The flowers of Dog Violet are unscented.A sign of Spring is the first Blackthorn Prunus spinosa The white flowers appear on short stalks before the leaves

23/02/21  Lesser Celandine Along the river Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria are starting to appear.An early sign of spring and a good early source of nectar. This one was being visited by a hoverfly.

15/02/21  Swan’s-neck thyme moss In Area 10 on a rotting piece of fence was Swan’s-neck thyme moss Mnium hornum .This dark, dull green moss is the commonest species of the genus and one of Britain’s commonest mosses.

14/02/21  Old man’s beard  In Area 9 on the fence over the A329M and the Emm Brook at Robin Hood Lane was Travellers Joy Clematis vitalba . Also known as Old man’s beard, this woody member of the buttercup family is the only British native Clematis.

06/02/21  Snowdrop  In Area 7A were Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis Snowdrops earned their name from the combination of two Greek and Latin words. Galanthus, from the ancient Greek means milk white flower, while the Latin word nivalis means resembling snow. Seeing a swathe of snowdrops is one way to brighten the winter months. Despite the cold, these hardy little flowers can be found thriving in woods and ditches everywhere. After a long winter their brilliant white petals and green leaves are a welcome sight, signalling the growth of new life.

02/02/21  Hart's-tongue fern  In Area 1 on the outskirts of Gorrick Wood were several Hart's-tongue fern Asplenium scolopendrium The hart's-tongue fern is a hardy fern of damp, shady places in woodlands. It has simple, tongue-shaped, glossy, green leaves that have orange spores on their undersides.


01/02/21  Jelly Ear Down by Kingfisher Bridge in Area 4 on a dead branch was Jelly Ear Fungus Auricularia auricula-judae its an ear-shaped bracket fungus resembling tan-brown, gelatinous, jelly-like flesh.

Amphibians and Reptiles

27/02/21  Common Frog The Common Frog Rana temporaria in the Area 5 pond are still putting on a great display. Common Frog . Whilst observing thisnatural phenomenon, I was amazed at the variation's in the Frogs.This presumed female being very rufous.

25/02/21  Common Frog At lunch time there were between 50-100 Common Frog Rana temporaria in the Area 5 pond, doing whatever Frogs do at this time of the year. Their heads are just about visible Common Frog above the water. Get to close and they all dissapear.  Fog Spawn There was also the first signs of some frog spawn as well.We will see what happens in 3 weeks.

20/02/21 In the pond in Area 5 there were signs of Amphibian Activity. Common Frog Rana temporaria . The breeding season for common frogs begins in early spring, when they venture to ponds and lakes to mate. Male frogs croak to attract a mate and to compete against other nearby males. When the male has selected a mate, it uses swollen nuptial pads on its forelegs to grasp the female, in a mating behaviour known as ‘amplexus’. Eggs are laid in clusters of spawn in shallow water. The eggs are small and black, encased in clear jelly. Up to 2,000 can be laid in a single clump. After around three weeks (depending on the weather) young tadpoles emerge. The tadpoles take up to 16 weeks to grow into froglets, losing their tails and growing legs..


27/02/21  Roe Deer In fields alongside the Emm Brook in Area 10 were 2 very distant Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus .

19/02/21 At 20:30 a Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi was seen in my headlights crossing Sandford Lane in Area 10.

13/02/21  Wood Mouse Under the bird feeders in an Area 5 garden a Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus was feeding on the spilled seeds .The tiny, brown Wood Mouse is one of our most common rodents and is very likely to be found in the garden. It is similar to the house mouse, but has larger ears and eyes relative to its size.

12/02/21 At 21:00 a Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi was seen in my headlights crossing Sandford Lane in Area 10.

11/02/21  Squirrel In Area 4 a Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis was feeding from the Bird table.

05/02/21  Roe Deer Feeding in fields alongside the Ashridge Stream in Area 7A were 6  Roe Deer Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus in 2 groups of 3 . All females.

03/02/21  Rabbit Feeding in the flooded fields in Area 1 amongst the sleeping Mallard was a solitary Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus .

Fish/ Crustaceans