Latest Sightings March 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 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 March

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.


31/03/20  Coal Tit An out of focus Coal Tit was on my garden feeders this afternoon. In Area 8 at Old Forest Road Meadows Paul O'Neill saw a Little Egret in the Emm Brook. 2 Song Thrush feeding on the footpath and 3 singing Chiffchaff . A further 2 Chiffchaff and a Song Thrush were seen in Emmbrook Walk (Area 7).

29/03/20  Jackdaw On my walk this morning in a chilly North wind around Area 1 by Ludgrove School a pair of Jackdaw were seen clearing out an old nest site of debris ready for this years tenancy. Disaster has struck my house. The Robins nest in my Greenhouse appears to have been abandoned overnight as no one was sitting on the nest when I looked from the house this morning with binoculars. As it was positioned quite low I can only assume that the sitter has fallen foul of the neighbourhood cats that visit my garden.

28/03/20  Mallard In Area 1 seen by Mark Callaghan from the footpath adjacent to Ludgrove School were 3 Ring-necked Parakeet . In Area 5 a pair of Mallard were on the pond.

27/03/20  Robin One half of the dynamic duo of Robin nesting in my greenhouse.

26/03/20  Blue Tit During my one a day walk I visited Areas 7 & 8. By the bridge,over the Emm in Area 7 nest box 24 was being visited by a moss gathering, nest building Blue Tit and as they say what goes in must come out.  Blue Tit Chiffchaff were singing at numerous locations, and a solitary Blackcap was heard.

25/03/20  7 of 9 Magpie Seen from my window this morning, 9 Magpie were in the trees by the river in Area 5 .Unfortunately I only got 7 in the photo.  Robins Nest At home and looking for things to do I started to tidy up the greenhouse. I moved a bag on one of the shelves to find a Robins Nest with 4 eggs. I assumed that it was an abandoned nest from last year however on my return a Robin was sat on them. Unfortunately another job I can't now do.Flying over the Woosehill Roundabout a Grey Wagtail was calling. At the car park field in Area 10 seen by Fraser Cottington were 3 Redwing and a Fieldfare .

24/03/20  Goldfinch At 06:30 in my garden, 4 Goldfinch visited the hanging basket liners to pick off loose fibres. Nest building on the way?. Life for them goes on. A Jackdaw also unexpectedly appeared on the bird table. Putting out the rubbish a Canada Goose flew over heading towards Dinton Pastures. Blue Tit A Blue Tit was also on the baskets. In Area 4 by Kingfisher Bridge a pair of Grey Wagtail were on river bank, and a Chiffchaff was calling from the tree tops against a very blue sky.A male  Chiffchaff Dunnock and Wren were also singing on the Riverside bushes.

23/03/20  Mute Swan My Area 5 garden feeders were visited by a Coal Tit this morning.In Area 10 a pair of Mute Swan and 2 Mallard were feeding in the Emm by the Dinton Activity centre.

22/03/20  Song Thrush In Area 5 a Song Thrush was sitting on the FOTEB notice board by Dragonfly Bridge. The Great spotted Woodpecker was hammering out its prowess to impress anybody that might be listening and a Mistle Thrush was again heard with its rattling call.  Song Thrush Paul Bright Thomas from his Area 4 garden is reporting Kingfisher and Chiffchaff calling along the Emm Brook near Kingfisher Bridge.

21/03/20  Male Blackcap Seen by the river in Area 5 this morning on my way to get the paper from Morrisons , were 3 Mistle Thrush , a singing Dunnock and Song Thrush ,a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker , a calling Nuthatch and a few House Sparrow . The male Blackcap was back on the Sunflower feeders this afternoon in my Area 5 garden.

20/03/20 In a slightly bizarre moment at 05:00 this morning a couple of Canada Goose flew over the house and garden calling heading North into the darkness. Maybe they were on their way home after celebrating the Spring Equinox. On the feeders a bit later were a Greenfinch and a male Blackcap .

19/03/20 In and around the Area 10 car park field, 30+ Redwing , 2 singing Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch were seen by Anne Cronin.

17/03/20 Despite all that is going on in our world, the seasons are moving on, and today this was very noticeable with the the first returning Sand Martin of the year seen in Area 10 flying past at about 100ft also 2 Mandarin were seen by the Green Bridge. Both sightings by Fraser Cottington.

15/03/20 Starling In the Area 5 jungle that is currently the back garden a Starling was gathering what I can only assume is nesting material. I must mow the lawn . but its still wet.

14/03/20 In Area 5, this morning a Great spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming away on a tree as if its life depended on it and 2 Canada Goose were calling as the flew over my garden.During a walk along the river a male Bullfinch was seen as were several Jay a calling Nuthatch and numerous Blackbird . In Area 10,2 Mediterranean Gull flew over the car park field heading west seen by Fraser Cottington, a calling Raven flew over the Dinton Activity Centre Car Park seen by Alan Rymer and later a Chiffchaff was calling from a tree near the boat compound.

13/03/20 The Barn Owl was seen again at the entrance to the box in the Wet Meadow in Area 10 by Anne Cronin.

12/03/20 I was stood by Dragonfly Bridge in Area 5 this morning, when a Kingfisher flew downstream calling before alighting on a branch over the river.

11/03/20 A Raven was seen flying over the Car Park Field in Area 10 by Tim James.

09/03/20 Egyptian Goose 2 Egyptian Goose were drinking from the puddles in the fields around Chapel Green in Area 1. In Area 10 a solitary Skylark was seen on the landfill by Geoff Emmett, 9 Redwing were in the Car Park field, a Siskin flew over and a Chiffchaff was still singing near the big Hawthorn, sightings by Fraser Cottington.

08/03/20 3 Chiffchaff were seen , two were singing but highly mobile near a big Hawthorn the third was in an Ivy covered Oak on the West side of the car park field in Area 10 singing and feeding actively. 2 Raven were also seen heading west . Both sightings by Fraser Cottington.

07/03/20 Stock Dove 2 Barn Owl were seen in the box in Area 10 this morning and a Chiffchaff was heard singing by the Dinton Activity Centre by Les Blundell. Meanwhile in my Area 5 garden Stock Dove had joined the Wood Pigeon feeding under the feeders.

04/03/20 Mallard Lunchtime spent in Area 5, meant a visit to the pond where a fine looking male Mallard was on the water. Nearby were singing Nuthatch , Blackbird calling Wren and 2 Chaffinch were feeding under the trees.

02/03/20 Dunnock Checking river levels in Area 10, and from a Bramble bush a male Dunnock starting singing.Dunnocks are often overlooked, not only are they small, brown & grey with a slender beak, they also like to creep around under bushes.The Dunnock's song is a pleasant surprise, an unhurried sweet warble which can be confused with the Wren or Robin, but lacks the Wren's intensity and the Robin's sweetness. The main call is shrill, persistent "tseep", which often betrays its otherwise inconspicuous presence.

01/03/20 Buzzard and Jackdaws Its was very nice to see a male Blackcap feeding on the Apples that I had placed out in my Area 5 garden.Probably not a migrant but one that has overwintered. In Area 1 late morning one of the Common Buzzard was being closely monitored by an attentive gang of noisy Jackdaw .


27/03/20 7-spot ladybird In the grass in my Area 5 garden was a 7-spot ladybird Coccinella septempunctata .The very common Seven Spot Ladybird is usually red, occasionally yellow. Its seven black spots are arranged three on each wing case and one at the back sitting across the two wing cases.

26/03/20 Peacock On my one a day walk I visited Area 8.Seen was a 100% Peacock Aglais io butterfly in Old Forest Road Meadows.

24/03/20 Utilising my one form of exercise a day I went for a walk through Area 5 & 4 to the rear of Morrisons observing all the correct protocol.Seen were the following butterflies 2 Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni a Comma Polygonia c-album and my first Peacock Aglais io of the year (99% sure).

23/03/20 In Area 6, 2 Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni butterflies were seen flying across Emmbrook Road by the Railway Bridge. Tapered Drone Fly  In Area 10 a Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax was sitting on a Laurel bush soaking up the sun.

22/03/20 Oak Beauty The moth trap was out again in my Area 5 garden overnight . New moths for the year were 2 Clouded Drab Orthosia incertra , a very worn looking Oak Beauty Biston strataria Clouded Drab  and a White shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella , 2 Hebrew Charecter Orthosia gothica were also caught.

21/03/20 Small  tortoiseshell  Out on a "Keeping myself sane" solitary walk in Area 5 in the sunshine this afternoon paid dividends. All the guidelines about social distancing were dutifully followed. On the Pussy Willow catkins, before flying to the floor was a Small tortoiseshell Aglais urticae butterfly Dark-edged bee-fly  and a Dark-edged bee-fly Bombylius major .The Dark-edged bee-fly, looks rather like a bumble bee, with a long, straight proboscis that it uses to feed on nectar from spring flowers, such as primroses and violets. It is on the wing in the early spring, when it can often be seen in sunny patches. Comma  In Area 4 by Smiths Walk 2 Comma Polygonia c-album butterflies and a Common Drone Fly Eristalis tenax were seen. This Drone Fly flies virtually all year round and as its name implies is our most numerous.

19/03/20 In the garden a Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana was in the Greenhouse.

18/03/20 Wasp Beetle Yet another Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis was found inside the house today.

17/03/20 Buzzing Spider  Not an Insect, but a Spider though still worth a mention. Another new species for the list in the form of a Buzzing Spider Anyphaena accentua . Although variable in appearance, the two chevron marks on the abdomen are the indicator of this species. This species gets its name from the fact that the male taps its abdomen on a leaf during courtship, making an audible buzzing sound.

16/03/20 March Moth Following a gloriously sunny day, what better way to end it than by putting the moth trap out.New moths for the year were a male March Moth Alsophila aescularia Females are wingless and the male has a distinctive resting posture and shape, with narrow, overlapping forewings and straight costa, giving the appearance of an arrow-head. Also new for the year were 2 Small Quaker Orthosia cruda . 8 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica were also caught.The trap is switched on at dusk and weather permitting switched off again at dawn. The moths collect in and around the trap and the following morning after inspection and recording/photographing are released.

15/03/20 Common Quaker The moth trap was opened this morning in my Area 5 garden . In it were only 5 moths , 4 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi and a Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica .

14/03/20 Comma  In a rather serendipitous moment I visited the Pussy Willow by the pond in Area 5. Feeding on the nectar in a brief bit of sunshine was a Comma Polygonia c-album butterfly.The first butterfly of the year and a sure sign that Spring is definitely on its way.

12/03/20 Hebrew Character Although a bit windy and a moonlit night, not usually a good combination for moth trapping I put it out anyway . Only 2 species were caught a Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica . The forewings of this species are greyish to rufous brown. Typically these are marked with a black mark shaped like the 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet nun.Hence the name. Also lured in was an Early Grey Early Grey Xylocampa areola .As the English name suggests, this is one of the earliest moths to emerge in the season flying from March to May and often a visitor to the garden light-trap.

09/03/20 In weak sunshine a Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris was seen on the outskirts of Heathlake in Area 1.

08/03/20 With the sun shining, I decided to visit the Old Golf Course in Area 10 to check for basking insects on the Bramble leaves. The only thing seen was an unidentified species of Drone Fly .

07/03/20 Wasp Beetle With a slight feeling of Area 5 deja vu my partner was moving like a whirling dervish around the lounge this evening screaming that something had crawled into her ear. Once thrown to the floor (the assailant, not her) it turned out to be another Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis .The first appeared almost a month ago in her glass of Red wine. Needless to say, the fireside log pile which is believed to be the culprit for harbouring the beasts is to be removed.She is clearly exuding too many pheromones. I must pay more attention.

Plants/ Trees

28/03/20  Red Dead -Nettle I was once again in Area 5 to the rear of Morrisons on my walk and Red Dead-nettle Lamium purpureum is on display. Red dead-nettle is a common plant and like other members of the dead-nettle family, it doesn't have stinging leaves. Dense whorls of pinky-red, 'hooded' flowers appear up the stem. Marsh Marigold . In the boggy area adjacent to the pond Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris is just coming into flower.Also known as 'kingcups' this stout wildflower could be one of our most ancient plants. Its thought it was growing here before the last Ice Age.  Marsh Marigold Marsh-marigold is a member of the buttercup family, a large, almost luxuriant version of its smaller cousin with bright yellow flowers and dark, shiny leaves. The latter are kidney shaped and quite waxy to touch, although doing so too often is best avoided,like all buttercups the marsh-marigold is poisonous and can irritate the skin. A few more days sun and it will be showing to its magniicent best.

27/03/20  Primrose  My walk today took me through Area 2 to the rear of Tesco and Greater Stichwort Stellaria holostea was seen .Greater Stichwort grows to 60cm usually amidst long grass in partial shade.

26/03/20  Primrose  By the last bridge in Area 8 ( Old Forest Road Meadows )was a Primrose Primula vulgaris . Im not sure if its wild or has escaped from a garden. One of surest signs that spring is on the way. Primrose's pale yellow flowers can be a common sight across the UK.The name derives from the Latin prima rosa meaning 'first rose' of the year, despite not being a member of the rose family.

21/03/20  Common dog-violet  Along the river in Area 5, carpets of Common dog-violet Viola riviniana can be seen.If you see a violet in the wild, it is most likely to be the Common dog-violet. This widespread plant flowers from April to June, but its flowers are not scented, unlike those of its cousin, the Sweet Violet, which was used as a perfume in Ancient Greece.

14/03/20  Ash Buds  Along the river the buds of the Ash Fraxinus excelsior are just starting to open revealing the flowers. Ash is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers typically grow on different trees, although a single tree can also have male and female flowers on different branches. Both male and female flowers are purple and appear before the leaves in spring, growing in spiked clusters at the tips of twigs.

12/03/20  Wood Anemone  The sun loving Wood anemone Anemone nemorosa can now be seen by Kingfisher Bridge in Area 4. Always an early flowering plant and said to be an indicator of ancient woodland.

08/03/20  White dead-nettle  Despite the family it's from, White dead-nettle Lamium album does not sting. It displays dense clusters of white flowers in whorls around its stem, and can be found currently in flower in Area 10.

02/03/20  Loddon Lily  In Area 10 despite the flooded river Loddon Lily Leucojum aestivum were standing resolutely in the coppice.

Why do leaves change colour


28/03/20  Turkeytail   Not new, but looking good in the sunlight, Turkeytail Trametes versicolor was on an old fallen tree. The turkeytail is a bracket fungus that forms semi-circular caps around tree trunks. The caps are thin and tough, with very clear, velvety, concentric rings of colour. Colours are variable mixes of brown, yellow, grey, purple, green and black, but the outer margin is always pale - either cream or white. The caps are often layered together, forming tiers.

Amphibians and Reptiles

04/03/20 Frog Spawn  In the pond in Area 5 a large raft of spawn of the Common frog Rana temporaria can be seen. Measuring at least 1m x 1m. Hopefully this will fill the pond full of tadpoles,  Frog Spawn  however as it appears that some of the spawn has turned cloudy in colour I'm not sure if its been fertilised but only time will tell.


At 20:45 in Area 5 a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was seen wandering through Brookside.

04/03/20  Mole Hill  By Dragonfly Bridge in Area 5 is evidence of European Mole Talpa europaea Molehills are actually leftover soil from when moles are digging or repairing their burrows. This means you usually find molehills above the line of a burrow.

Fish/ Crustaceans

12/03/20  Common Woodlouse  In with the Yellow Slug in the Bug trapdoor in the Junior Rangers Garden in Area 10 were several Common Woodlouse Oniscus asellus .Woodlice are actually terrestrial crustaceans, not insects, so are more closely related to crabs and shrimps. They breathe through gills which are attached to the swimming legs on their abdomen; moist tubes extract oxygen from the air but if submerged in water they can survive for about an hour.


12/03/20  Yellow Slug  11 Yellow Slug Limacus flavus were in the Bug trapdoor in the Junior Rangers Garden in Area 10.