Latest Sightings March 2014

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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 ).

All sightings unless stated are from personal observations by Eddie Napper

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28/03/14 A Kingfisher was seen flying downstream along the Emm in Area 8, by Toutley Bridge on Old Forest Road. In Areas 4, 5, 6,7 & 8 singing male Blackcap and Chiffchaff were seen and heard .

25/03/14 Paul Bright Thomas heard 2 singing male Blackcap along the Emm in Area 4 at 08:00.

24/03/14 A hooting Tawny Owl was by the Emm before moving North. Heard by Paul Bright Thomas at 01:00. In Area 10, Fraser Cottington did an hour in the car park field and had another pair of Raven over low from the East, then flew off SW.



Bullfinch A cold but sunny start to the day. Around the Balancing pond in Area 4 the Chiffchaff was picking insects of the sunlit trees. What I assume was a newly arrived migrant Blackcap was singing its lovely song to the rear of Morrisons in Area 5. The first Bullfinch that I have seen this year along the Emm were near Kingfisher Bridge.

20/03/14 The first returning Sand Martin were seen over Area 10 today by Fraser Cottington.


Chiffchaff  A morning visit to Area 10 produced several Chiffchaff singing in the car park field on my arrival. 2 Egyptian Geese were noisly calling from the golf course. A Green Woodpecker was foraging on the floor and a male Pheasant was calling from the nearby bushes. In Area 5 Buzzard & Red Kite were riding the midday thermals and Great spotted Woodpecker was drumming to attract a mate..

15/03/14 Spring see's the arrival of summer visiting migrants from southern Europe and Africa. This morning, possibly fresh in ,2 Chiffchaff were singing, 1 was in Area 5 behind Morrisons and the other in Area 4 by the Smiths Walk balancing pond. There are still birds that have wintered along the Emm visible with at least 6 Redwing feeding in the open spaces. A Kingfisher was seen flying downstream by Dragonfly Bridge at 07:20. There is evidence of the breeding season ahead with Starling , Magpie and Blackbird all seen collecting nesting materials. 3 Canada Geese flew W and aGrey Wagtail was seen near the Area 4 Balancing pond.

14/03/14 With the warm weather came some good raptor sightings over Area 4 by Paul Bright Thomas. 5 Buzzard over S then circling back N. A Peregrine was circling in from E then flew fast NW .

12/03/14 In the Area 10 car park field were, 40 Redwing and at least 1Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush seen by Alan Rymer. Meanwhile in Area 4 , Paul Bright Thomas saw 2 Lesser Redpoll a Redwing and a Mistle Thrush .

11/03/14 On the walk to work this morning , I spotted a Long tailed Tit flying into the brook side bushes with a feather in its beak. This was quickly joined by another. The male and female work together to build their nest, taking nearly three weeks if it's early in the season, or doing a rush job of less than a week, if it's getting late. The nest is one of the most intricate that you will see along the Emm. Shaped rather like a bottle, usually with a roof and an entrance hole near the top. They construct it in a bush or in the fork of a tree, from moss, camouflaged with lichen with interwoven cobwebs and sometimes bits of paper stuck on the outside. To make the inside cosy for the eggs and chicks, a feather lining is added. They need a lot of feathers - as many as 1,500. Grey Wagtail to the rear of Morrisons In Area 4 a Blue Tit was in and out of Nestbox 13 by Kingfisher Bridge.


Blue Tit  A day off so I thought I'd walk a few Areas of the Emm. I decided to walk from my house to Gorrick Woods and back, Basically Areas 5 to 1. This proved to be extremely fruitfull . Highlights were A5 a Kingfisher flying up the Emm and a Grey Wagtail to the rear of Morrisons In Area 4 a Blue Tit was in and out of Nestbox 13 by Kingfisher Bridge.

Lapwing  In Area 2 in the fields behind Tesco's , 3 displaying Lapwing . The birds have unusual shaped wings which are broader at the tip than at the body, enabling them to perform fantastic aerial displays. During the breeding season, from February until June, male lapwings put on an impressive acrobatic display to attract the ladies.As the birds tumble and roll through the sky you'll see flashes of their largely black and white plumage.Its distinctive 'peewit' call, gives the bird its nickname.

Little Owl  A bit further along the footpath and a Little Owl flew up from the grass to sit in a nearby bush, before flying off. A hastily grabbed record shot was taken. This is a first for me along the Emm. Over the same field a Kestrel was being mobbed by Jackdaws In Area 1 a Skylark was singing its heart out over the fields of poly tunnels.

Crossbill  In Gorrick Woods themselves a noisy flock consisting of mostly Siskin and Lesser Redpoll but with several male and female Crossbill were demolishing the Pine trees. A Common Buzzard was being harried by a Carrion Crow and a solitary Chiffchaff was calling from the nearby Deciduous woodland. At least 70 Redwing were feeding in the fields adjacent to the footpath from Gorrick Woods to Luckley Road. A total of 43 species seen and heard. Not bad for 3 and a half hours. This brings the FOTEB Bird List to 62 species for the year.


Common Buzzard  Fraser Cottington was leading the Friends of Lavells Lake monthly bird walk this morning and had 2 Chiffchaff each end of the car park field in Area 10. This brings the FOTEB Bird List to 57 species for the year. A pair of Mandarin also flew over low, heading just to the East of the car park field, no doubt looking for a breeding site and a pair of Mistle Thrush on the ground may well be nest site prospecting too. In Area 5 a Common Buzzard was enjoying soaring on the thermals before a Carrion Crow decided to spoil the fun. Red Kite were also on the wing. 2 Canada Geese flew E . In Area 8 a Green Woodpecker was calling from trees adjacent to the Emm and a Moorhen was on the Emm in Area 6.


Male & Female Siskin  A morning spent mostly in my Area 5 garden was not unproductive a male and female Siskin appeared on the feeders. A pair of Goldcrests were working their way through a Yew tree. The sun was getting the birds singing heard were Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Robin . My neighbour told me that a male Blackcap was seen in her garden on Monday the 3rd.

06/03/14 A brief car park field walk (Sandford Lane) in Area 10 by Fraser Cottington at 09:30 produced a flock of around 40 Redwing, 4 Fieldfare and a singing Nuthatch. In Area 4, 2 Redwing were seen and a Lesser Redpoll was heard singing by the Emm Brook by Paul Bright Thomas.

05/03/14 A calling Ring necked Parakeet flew to the rear of Morrisons in Area 5 this morning. Also 4 Lesser Redpoll were in the trees by the Area 4 Balancing Pond

04/03/14 In Area 10 a pair of Mandarin were seen flying towards the Emm Brook by Richard Marsh with 27 Redwing and a Mistle Thrush seen on the car park field . A Green Woodpecker was also seen on the car park field and a Kingfisher flew up stream from bridge over the Emm near the car park both seen by Linda Garner-Langham.

02/03/14 More of the same this morning in Area's 4 & 5 , so I went for a stroll in Area 10 and Dinton Pastures. Adjacent to the Emm at the Junior Rangers area to the rear of the Loddon Room's a Green Woodpecker flew from the ground to alight in a nearby tree. Fraser Cottington was at the other end of Area 10 at the Lavells Lake ,Sandford Lane car park field and heard the calls of an Oystercatcher flying over the car park and the Emm towards Lea Farm Gravel Pits.


Sparrowhawk A frosty start to the day but soon the Emm was bathed in glorious sunlight. A good search was undertaken in Area's 4 & 5 this morning and a total of 28 species of birds were seen . Highlights included a Cormorrant flying E and 16 Magpie noisly calling from a riverside tree. The warm afternoon lured out a Sparrowhawk and a Red Kite , which was inspecting back gardens in Brookside. A Kingfisher was flying up and down the Emm, probably wondering where its next meal was coming from, as the river level was high following yesterdays rain. There was also some evidence of the approaching breeding season with Magpie flying about with sticks in their beaks and a Nuthatch and a Great Tit having a dispute over a natural nest hole in an Oak tree( this had been last year used by the Nuthatch ) and a Great spotted Woodpecker drumming to lure in a mate. A Moorhen was calling from the Balancing pond and approx 30Redwing were still on the open space to the rear of Morrisons . The Lavells Lake car park field on Sandford Lane was also bathed in sunlight and Fraser Cottington had 5 Buzzard up and displaying and untold numbers of Red Kite . ,2 Ring-necked Parakeet were flying around and a Mistle Thrush was also seen .

Insects & Spiders


Nursery Web Spider The Nursery Web Spider Pisaura mirabilis was in Area 5 this afternoon it is a large and common spider of grassy areas in woodlands . Known commonly as the Nursery Web Spider, the female Pisaura mirabilis is regularly seen guarding her obvious egg sac in grass or other low vegetation. This is the only UK spider, in which the male passes the female a prey item as a gift prior to mating.

29/03/14 A warm afternoon brought out Comma Polygonia c-album , Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni , Peacock Inachis io and Small Tortoiseshell , Aglais urticae Butterflies in Area 5.

20/03/14 Despite the drop in temperature this afternoon a Comma Polygonia c-album was seen in Area 10.


Peacock A visit to Area 10 and Butterflies were everywhere. Seen were . Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni ,Small Tortoiseshell , Aglais urticae , Peacock Inachis io and Comma Polygonia c-album . A miday visit to Area 5 behind Morrisons and the Sallow catkins produced the same Butterflies but in greater numbers.

11/03/14 The micro moth Agonopterix heracliana was attracted to the light at my front door in Area 5 this evening.


Small Tortoiseshell A great day for Butterflies and Bumblebees all along the Emm . Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni was seen in Area's 5,3 and 7 ,Small Tortoiseshell , Aglais urticae was seen in Area's 5 and 7 and a Peacock Inachis io was in Area 7. Bumblebees seemed to be everywhere more details to follow.


7 spot Ladybird In Area 5 a 7-spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata was seen in my garden. This is the most abundant UK species and very common along the Emm . It is one of the largest of our native Ladybirds, measuring some 6-8mms long and most often found openly on low-growing plants. Over-wintering sites are usually obvious, adults being found in leaf litter, tucked within crevices on branches and on fences etc, but is easily located on small Pines.


Comma A lovely warm day and you could be forgiven for thinking Spring was here. In Area's 4 & 5 the first Butterflies of the year were seen Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni and Comma Polygonia c-album and at least 5 Bombus terrestris Bumblebees.

01/03/14 A sunny afternoon and it was no suprise to see the Bumblebee Bombus terrestris out and about .

Other Wildlife



Frog Spawn The first Common Frog Rana temporaria, spawn was found in Area 4 and the Smiths Walk balancing pond today.



Roe Deer What I believe to be the first Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, of the year was seen in Area 10 this morning.

01/03/14 The first Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus seen for a long time, was seen on the Emm by the Woosehill Roundabout. Possibly displaced by the recent bad weather.




King Alfred's Cakes In Area 5 on a fallen Ash branch was the fungi King Alfreds cakes Daldinia concentrica .Kind Alfred’s Cakes or Cramp Balls fruiting bodies are small, hard rounded balls which grow on dead trees. Each ‘cake’ varies in size from about two to ten centimetres. When the fruiting bodies first appear they are a reddish brown colour which then over time darkens to a black and becomes shiny. When the fruiting bodies are cut open concentric rings can be seen within.



Wood Anemone One of the first flowers of spring, Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa can been seen emerging in Area 4. As a species its surprisingly slow to spread (six feet in a hundred years!), relying on the growth of its root structure rather than the spread of its seed. Despite its penchant for wooded places, the wood anemone actually dislikes too much shade and will only open fully in bright sunshine. Its flowering time is thus well suited to the early part of the year, before the trees' foliage grows too thick and light is blotted out.


Blackthorn Along most of the Emm Brook now the Blackthorn Prunus spinosa can be seen in flower . This plant is often confused with the HawthornCrataegus monogynaas both are members of the same plant family – the Rose family or Rosaceae. . However at this time of the year its fairly simple as Hawthorn has leaves before flowers, Blackthorn has flowers before leaves.


Loddon Lily

Loddon Lily  In Area 10 (Dinton Pastures) by the Sailing Club I came across these Loddon Lily's Leucojum aestivum . The rare Loddon Lily resembles the Snowdrop in appearance, but with more open flowers of drooping white six petaled bells, having green spots to the petal tips.



Lesser Celandine  Goat Sallow Salix caprea or Pussy Willow provides a good source of nectar at this time of year for Butterflies and Bumblebees. It is just starting to appear all along the Emm. Also just starting to appear and bringing a welcome splash of colour is Lesser Celandine Arum maculatum It is also known as pilewort, as it was used to treat haemorrhoids


Cuckoo Pint Along the banks of the Emm Cuckoo Pint Arum maculatum can been seen emerging. The Cuckoo Pint or Lords and Ladies may or may not be native to the British Isles, but it grows wild there and is often seen under hedges. It likes moist ground and shade, and has an attractive flower and berries, which are poisonous. This plant is the only one of the Arum family to grow wild in Britain, and its leaves are among the first to emerge in spring. They are a glossy shade of green with purple blotches on them and the flower can also look stained with purple. It is said that these flowers grew under the cross of Christ and caught some of his blood. In this way they are the Holy Grail or Chalice of the British hedgerow. In the past children used to play a game to see which flower was first, the Lord or the Lady, differentiated by the colour of the stamens. That is how it came to have the name Lords and Ladies.


Alder Catkins In Area 5 the Catkins of the Alder Alnus glutinosa have appeared. Alder is monoecious, which means that both male and female catkins are found on the same tree, between February and April. Male catkins are yellow and pendulous, measuring 2–6cm, while the female catkins are green and oval-shaped, and appear 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 to release seeds, which are dispersed by wind and water.

Why do leaves change colour in the Autumn?

Find out here Autumn Leaves


For a review of 2012 sightings click here 2012 Sightings

For a review of 2013 sightings click here 2013 Sightings