Latest Sightings May 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 May

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.


What is the Dawn Chorus

31/05/20   Whitethroat A male Whitethroat was singing in Area 8 at Old Forest Road Meadows heard by Paul O'Neill. Another one was singing from the trees in Area 10 by the Dinton Activity Centre.

30/05/20 A Greylag Goose was heard calling as it flew over Area 5. In Area 4 Paul Bright Thomas saw a Kestrel and heard a singing Goldcrest .

29/05/20 In Area 5 a juvenile Goldfinch was tentatively trying to understand how the garden feeders work , meanwhile the daily raid of 20 + Starling , juvenile and adult are a lot bolder,noiser and definitely more messy.

28/05/20 Seen at the confluence of the Emm Brook and Loddon at the Green bridge swimming upstream by Fraser Cottington in Area 10 was a family of Mandarin Duck , one Female and 7 ducklings.A Mistle Thrush was seen on the old Golf course.

27/05/20 In Area 7 a male and female Kestrel , Mistle Thrush , a flyover Oystercatcher and 5 Swift were seen by Paul O'Neill.

26/05/20  Carrion Crow  Both the Carrion Crow and Jackdaw are still early morning daily visitors to my Area 5 garden feeders.

25/05/20 The male Great spotted Woodpecker is still visiting the garden fat feeder on a daily basis. Also in Area 5 a Little Egret was seen flying along the Emm towards Woosehill Roundabout. In Area 10 a Cuckoo was heard calling from the Carpark field and a Little Egret was seen on the Wet Meadow. A Little Owl was heard joining in with the Dawn Chorus in Area 7 by Paul O'Neill at 04:00. In Area 5 a kettle of up to 10 Red Kite were seen over Brookside at 13:00 for 20 mins. Coming down to roof top level at times.

24/05/20  Little Egret  A Little Egret was seen in the Emm Brook in Area 5 at Dragonfly Bridge by John Walsh. It was a day for the young at my Area 5 garden feeders as they were visited by Juvenile Robin , Starling , Magpie and Goldfinch . Fraser Cottington had his "eyes to the skies" for an hour at the Carpark field in Area 10 looking for Raptors, seen were countless Red Kite , Buzzard , Kestrel and Hobby , Also seen were Swallow , Bullfinch ,Skylark and a Garden Warbler .

22/05/20  Mallard In Area 10 by the Dinton Activity Centre a Mallard parent was teaching its 5 ducklings the ways of the world.

21/05/20 In Area 4 Paul Bright Thomas had a Bullfinch again in his garden and a Linnet flying East along the Emm Brook. Paul O'Neill was out again in Area 7 and a female Kestrel was seen flying high heading North East, a Lesser Whitethroat was heard singing and a Common Tern flew over heading North West.A Whitethroat was singing by the Dinton Activity Centre in Area10 and another one was heard singing in Area 8.

18/05/20 I think that the Nuthatch that has been feasting on the Sunflower hearts in my garden all this week must be feeding young nearby.

17/05/20  Red Kite At 06:00 a Red Kite flew into an Area 5 tree by the river and was promptly harrased by a Magpie . Juvenile Starling My first juvenile Starling was seen this morning in my Area 5 garden begging for food from its parents.In Area 10 an Oystercatcher was seen around the old golf course.

15/05/20 I would imagine that the Great spotted Woodpecker that has been visiting the fat feeders in my garden all this week must have young nearby.In Area 7 Paul O'Neill heard 2 male Lesser Whitethroat singing 30 metres apart. In Area 10 a Hobby flew over ,a drake Gadwall was seen on the Wet Meadows along with a Little Egret .

14/05/20 A sign of a good breeding season with both juvenile Starling and Robin seen in Paul Bright Thomas's Area 4 garden. Also seen was a male and female Bullfinch .

13/05/20  Male  Great spotted Woodpecker On a gloomy start to the day at 06.30 a male Great spotted Woodpecker was on my Area 5 fat feeders.

12/05/20 Circling high over Area 7 were 2 Hobby seen by Paul O'Neill from his garden.

11/05/20  Starling Mealworms placed out for the Robin were soon found and being eaten when unfortunately Starling also noticed them and 6 appeared and devoured the lot.

10/05/20  Mute Swan A cycle ride to Heathlake and Area 1 this morning was not very productive. A pair of Mute Swan were patrolling the waters with their 6 cygnets, lots of Mallard were on display, with a few nesting Coot, a solitary Cormorrant in the trees on the island and a couple of Black headed Gull.  Little Egret On the way home Area 7 & 8 was also visited a Little Egret flew across Old Forest Road and landed in Ashridge Stream in Area 7 and started fishing, with some success . A Garden Warbler was singing in the hedges around Area 8. In Area 7 at 11:15 a male Cuckoo was heard calling distantly.

09/05/20  Goldfinch I went out early this morning to try and avoid the "social distancing dance"that happens when you invariably meet someone coming the other way. At 06:15 a Little Egret was seen heading North past my Area 5 garden. At Old Forest Meadows a male Goldfinch was giving it everthing it had from the top of a riverside tree like an avian Pavarotti. With Chiffchaff and Blackcap as the backing group. A male Cuckoo was heard calling in Area 7 by Paul O'Neill.In Area 8 a pair of Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler were heard singing in Old Forest Road Meadows by him as well.

08/05/20  Jackdaw I dont know whats happening in the Corvid world these days ,but today it was the turn of 2 Jackdaw to appear on my Area 5 bird table. I think that its a first. Robin Both the Robin are still frantically feeding their family in my garden and were seen feeding a fledged youngster on the back garden lawn. Isn't nature wonderful.In Area 4 Paul Bright-Thomas saw a Little Egret fly from Emm Brook, past his garden and over to the balancing pond. 2 Little Egret were also seen by Will Day flying from the Emm Brook by Old Forest Road bridge in Area 7.

07/05/20  Little Egret In Area 10 a Little Egret was perched on the wires by the car park field.Singing Whitethroat and Garden Warbler  Whitethroat were in area 8 Old Forest Road Meadows and in Area 7 Paul O'Neill saw a male Kestrel and a Skylark that was singing for over an hour over the fields.

06/05/20  Female Great spotted Woodpecker In Area 4 Paul Bright-Thomas had a Hobby circling to the South of his house. A House Martin heading North West and 2 Swift . In my Area 5 garden a female Great spotted Woodpecker was forced to queue at the busy feeders . Word seems to have got around as there were 2 Carrion Crow on my Area 5 garden bird table today.

05/05/20 Carrion Crow  A Carrion Crow has become a regular early morning visitor to my Area 5 garden bird table. A Robin keeps stopping of at a suitable perch in the garden with a beak full of food , before disappearing into a neighbours hedge. Hopefully I will see the fruits of their labours soon.

04/05/20  Little Egret  In the river in Area 4 a Little Egret has been seen most days recently. A Grey Heron was also seen.

03/05/20  Dawn Chorus  Heard this morning from his Area 4 garden by Paul Bright -Thomas at 00:45 was a calling Tawny Owl .Today was International Dawn Chorus Day and I believe that the birds knew and were singing with even more gusto. Heard from about 05:30 onwards from my Area 5 garden were Song Thrush, Blackbird , Robin , Chiffchaff , Starling , Carrion Crow , Blue Tit , Great Tit , House Sparrow , Wood Pigeon , Collard Dove , Goldfinch and Magpie . In Area 1 Sean Stevenson was out for his daily walk and saw Kestrel , displaying Lapwing and 2 Ring necked Parakeet . In Area 8 a Linnet was seen at Old Forest Road Meadows by Paul O'Neill.

02/05/20  Oystercatcher  My exercise walk for today took me to Area 10 (Dinton Pastures ) including the Old Golf Course and the Car Park field. On the golf course an Oystercatcher was probing the ground for worms, as we are a bit short of Oysters. A Green Woodpekerwas calling and a Ring necked Parakeet flew over calling noisily.Approx 20 Swift were screeching and feeding over the Emm In the Car Park field a pair of Red Kite were sky dancing. The hedges were full of singing male Blackcap and Chiffchaff. A pair of Pheasant flew across Sandford Lane and scurried into the hedgerow. A male Cuckoo was also calling constantly. In Area 1 a pair of Swallow were seen by Sean Stevenson at the Riding stables to the rear of Tesco. By the bridge on Emmbrook Road in Area 7 , Will Day on his dog walk saw a Grey Wagtail . In Area 8 a Kinfisher was seen flying upstream from the bottom of the Emmbrook Walk section

01/05/20 In between bouts of heavy rain, hail stones, thunder, lightning and brilliant sunshine Paul Bright-Thomas had the following in and around his Area 4 garden: a Coal Tit , 4 Stock Dove , 2 Grey Wagtail a Rook flying West and a Hobby flying low North East. On my Area 5 feeders this morning a Carrion Crow was back again. Will Day saw a Kingfisher near Kingfisher Bridge in Area 5.


31/05/20 Yellow Shell  Disturbed by the front door of my Area 5 house this morning was a Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata moth.

30/05/20 Maidens Blush  The moth trap was out again overnight in my Area 5 garden. Highlights of the catch were Maidens Blush Cyclophora punctaria , Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata, Peppered Moth Biston betularia , 2 Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria ,a Common Marbled Carpet Dysstroma truncata , Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria and a Marbled Brown Drymonia dodonaea .Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.Spiderlings  Visiting the bottle bank to the rear of Morrisons (for a friend) in Area 5 I noticed that "spiderlings" of the Garden Spider Araneus diadematus ) had emerged. The female Garden spider lays from three to eight hundred yellow eggs that she cements together and covers in a dense layer of coarse protective yellow silk and detritus. When spring comes the following year, bundles of tiny yellow spiderlings with a black spot on their rear emerge.

25/05/20 Bufftip  The moth trap was emptied this morning after trapping overnight in my Area 5 garden. Highlights were Bufftip Leptopterna dolabrata , 2 Poplar Hawk Moth Leptopterna dolabrata one alive and one dead, 2 Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria ,12 Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis , Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis , Poplar Hawk Moth Shuttle shaped Dart Agrotis puta , Knot Grass Acronicta rumicis, 2 Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana , Treble Lines Charanyca trigrammica and 2 May Bug Tetrix undulata .Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

24/05/20 Meadow Plant Bug  The sweep net was out in Area 8 Old Forest Road Meadows , found were Meadow Plant Bug Leptopterna dolabrata a large and common grass bug , Roesel's bush-cricket    a Roesel's bush-cricket Metrioptera roeselii. It favours damp meadows and grassland, but can be found elsewhere. It is usually wingless and a Drill Moth Dichrorampha petiverella This moth is on the wing during the afternoon and evening, flying in the sunshine, and rests on the flowers of the foodplants.

22/05/20 Miris striatus  In Area 10 on the Old Golf Course the Mirid Bug Miris striatus was on Nettles. This is a distincitive species and easily identified. Also seen was Cuckoo Spit Cercopoidea Cuckoo spit, begins to appear in late spring at a time when the familiar call of cuckoos can be heard, but otherwise has no connection with the bird.It is in fact a white frothy liquid secreted by the nymphs of a sap-sucking true bug known as a froghopper.

21/05/20 Mayfly  An afternoon walk around Area 8 and the years first Common Blue Polyommatus icarus Butterfly was seen.This brings the total along the Emm to 8 species.In Area 10 several Mayfly Ephemera vulgata were emerging.

20/05/20 Treble Lines  Another uninspiring night with the moth trap in my Area 5 garden produced a Treble Lines Charanyca trigrammica , Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria , Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana a Minor sp Oligia strigilis agg. and the micro moths Crambus pascuella and Chrysoteuchia culmella .Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

19/05/20 Blue tailed Damselfly  Adjacent to the Emm Brook and sitting on vegetation near the Carpark Field in Area 10 was a Blue tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans my first for the year.

15/05/20 Helophilus pendulus  Enjoying the sun in Area 10 was the hoverly Helophilus pendulus .As it’s a lover of fine sunny days, Helophilus pendulus is commonly known as The Sunfly, though some call it The Footballer because its stripy thorax resembles a team strip. Personally, I prefer its scientific name, which means ‘dangling marsh-lover’, a reference to its liking for watery places. Honey Bee Also making the most of the sun and nectar was a Honey Bee Apis mellifera

14/05/20 Female Broad- bodied Chaser  Down by the pond in Area 5 a female Broad- bodied Chaser Libellula depressa dragonfly was on the wing. Spotted Cranefly Also seen were copulating Spotted Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata .

13/05/20  Common Malachite Beetle  On Meadow Buttercup flowers in the car Park field in Area 10 were several Common Malachite Beetle Malachius bipustulatus The large red spot at the rear of each shiny green elytron is characteristic of this species.

10/05/20  Tipula vernalis  Seen today in Area 8 was the Cranefly Tipula vernalis Its a large cranefly with a distinctive wing pattern. It has a dark stripe along its back and a dark triangle on the thorax and striking green eyes.If you look closely, the male has a square-ended body, but the female has a long, sharp-ended body - this stinger-like 'tail' is her ovipositor, which she uses to lay her eggs in the ground.

09/05/20 In the moth trap this morning were Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria, Shuttle shaped Dart Agrotis puta , Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana , Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata , Common Pug Eupithecia vulgata , Tachystola acroxantha and only 1 May Bug Tetrix undulata . In Area 8 Old Forest Road Meadows , were male and female Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens , Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo , Large red damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula and a male Broad- bodied Chaser Libellula depressa Dragonfly.

08/05/20  Rose Chafer  Found inside his Area 6 house by Will Day was a Rose Chafer Cetonia aurata . Every home should have one of these lovely metallic coppery-green beetles.  Rose Chafer  A Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus Butterfly was seen drifting through my garden. Common Green Shieldbug  In Area 4 a Common Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina was seen in a Conservatory. Probably emerged from its winter hibernation.

07/05/20  Maybug  One of the occupational hazards of running a moth trap in my Area 5 garden at this time of year is May Bug Tetrix undulata . 3 were in the trap this morning. It isn't actually a bug and doesn't only fly in May, but it is the UK's largest chafer beetle.Seen for the first time, an adult cockchafer can be quite scary, especially if they are seen flying as they make a noisy hum . Pale Prominent Also in the trap was Garden Carpet Xanthorhoe fluctuata , Pale Prominent Pterostoma palpina , Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata and the Ichneumon Wasp Ophion obscuratus.Male Banded Demoiselle  My walk today was a slow amble around Area 10 and particularly the Car Park field. Dragonflies and Damselflies were on the wing in the sunshine. The following were all firsts for the year,Damselflies:Male  Beautiful Demoiselle  a male Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens , a male Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo ,Dragonflies: a female Broad- bodied Chaser Libellula depressa   Female Broad bodied Chaser  Male Beautiful Demoiselles have dark-coloured wings and metallic blue-green bodies; females have brown wings and green bodies. The Beautiful Demoiselle is similar to the Banded Demoiselle, but the males of the latter species have distinctive dark patches in the middle of their wings.

06/05/20  Common Groundhopper  I went for a quick lunchtime walk by the pond and along the river in Area 5. This resulted in my first ever Common Groundhopper Tetrix undulata. It was by the pond.The Common Groundhopper is a small relative of the grasshoppers, but is smaller in size and more heavily armoured. Also seen in good numbers were Azure  damselfly  Large red damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula and Azure damselfly Coenagrion puella .

03/05/20  Herald  It was a mothing night in my Area 5 garden overnight and whilst not a huge haul. It was better than normal with quality over quantity. 15 moths of 12 species were seen. Highlight for me was a Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix. This is the moth that inspired me to start trapping to see what was about at night 16 years ago. Also trapped were 2 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata ,2 V Pug Chloroclystis v-ata , a micro moth Incurvaria masculella ,  Campion a Campion Sideridis rivularis, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana , Red-green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata a Caddisfly Limnephilus affinis and 3 Spotted Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata . Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

02/05/20  Dryophilocoris flavoquadrimaculatus  It was a bit of an Insect fest this morning in Area 10. The sun was shining on some of the Bramble bushes and Nettles and all the insects were warming themselves up. Seen was the very distinctive mirid beetle Dryophilocoris flavoquadrimaculatus,  Scorpion Fly several Scorpion Fly Panorpa communis a Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria butterfly.An Immature female Common Blue damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and a lot of Large red damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula . A Spotted Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata was also seen.

01/05/20  Nomada flava  In Area 5 a Nomada flava Cuckoo Bee was seen on White dead-nettle.They lay their eggs in the nests of other species - usually Andrena bees. Nomada flava has a yellow abdomen crossed by broad black stripes and with red patches at the front end. It has red stripes on the thorax , the legs and antennae are orange-red.

Plants/ Trees

24/05/20  Ox eye Daisy In Area 8, Old Forest Road Meadows are swathes of Ox eye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare , this tall grassland flower also known as Dog Daisy is native to Europe and has edible flowers and flower buds.

22/05/20  Foxglove On the Old Golf Course in Area 10 a solitary Foxglove Digitalis purpurea was seen. Foxgloves are an important source of pollen for bees. The species has evolved to be especially attractive to long-tongued bees such as the common carder bee. The brightly coloured flowers and dark spotted lip attracts the bee, while the lower lip of the flower allows the insect to land before climbing up the tube. In doing so, the bee will drop pollen from other foxgloves, allowing the plant to reproduce.

17/05/20  Comfrey Rust In Area 8 at Old Forest Road Meadows some of the Comfrey Symphytum officinale plants are showing signs of Comfrey Rust Melampsorella symphyti .The rust fungus affects various members of the Comfrey family including Common Comfrey and Russian Comfrey. There is some yellowing of the upper surface of affected leaves, but the underside may be completely covered with the yellow-orange rust.

15/05/20  Dog rose  In Area 10 by Dinton Activity Centre car park Dog rose Rosa canina can be seen. Dog rose has strongly hooked, or curved prickles, to gain a purchase as it weaves in between other shrubs and uses them to support its growth.

09/05/20  Birds-foot-trefoil I discovered an area that I assume is a planted Wild Flower Meadow as part of the road works in Area 8 Old Forest Road Meadows , in it were Ragged-robin Lychnis flos-cuculi , Red Campion Silene dioica , Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas and Birds foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus One of the more evocative names for Common bird's-foot-trefoil is 'Granny's Toenails', which gives an instant, and perhaps not-so-pleasant, impression of the claw-like seed pods of this abundant and sprawling species

07/05/20  Comfrey In Area 8 Old Forest Road Meadows Comfrey Symphytum officinale both the Blue/Purple and White varities are in flower .It often grows in clumps and displays clusters of bell-shaped, pinky-purple flowers from May to July. Also just emerging is  Red Campion  Red Campion Silene dioica . It is a distinctive pink-red in colour with five petals that are fused at their base to form a tube surrounded by a purple-brown calyx (protective sheath).

06/05/20  Ragged-robin  By the Area 5 pond Ragged-robin Lychnis flos-cuculi is currently in flower .Also the first  Yellow iris  Yellow iris Iris pseudacorus are starting to open. The large, sunshine-yellow flowers of the Yellow iris brighten up the margins of the pond . Also called the 'Flag Iris', its outer petals have a characteristic 'droop'.

02/05/20  Crosswort  On the banks of the Emm opposite the Dinton Activity Centre in Area 10 Crosswort Cruciata laevipes is currently in flower. Crosswort gets its name from the position of its leaves - they surround the stem in groups of four, making a cross shape. The tiny, yellow flowers sit atop these crosses and bloom from April to June.

01/05/20  Cow Parsley  By the river in Area 5 the delicate white flowers and fern-like foliage of Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris is currently in flower It is an early source of nectar for pollinators and beneficial insects.It is also known fittingly as Oueen Annes Lace

Fungi/ Lichen

02/05/20  Pixie Cup Lichen  In Area 10 on the gate from the Car Park field to Lavells Lake is Pixie Cup Lichen . Shaped like Shreks' Ears or miniature golf-tees they are hard to pin down to a specific species.

Amphibians and Reptiles


13/05/20  Hedgehog  At least 2 European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus are still visiting my Arae 5 garden overnight..

03/05/20   European hedgehog    2 European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus were in my Area 5 garden at 22:00.

02/05/20  Male Roe Deer  A male Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus was seen by Will Day in Area 8 in the newly opened section of Old Forest Road Meadows.  Hedgehog  In my Area 5 garden 3 European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus were seen last night.

01/05/20  Grey squirrel  Brightning an otherwise gloomy afternoon in Area 5 was a Grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis . I never tire of watching the antics of these tree-climbing nut buriers. A European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus is still making its nightly visits to my Area 5 garden.

Fish/ Crustaceans