2020 NEWS

15/09/ 20


Have you ever stood in your garden at dusk and watched bats swooping through the air at lightening speed? It's a truly wonderful sight. These fascinating little animals are a valuable part of nature in the UK, but sadly they are becoming increasingly rare. A gradual loss of habitat and roost sites are making numbers decline at an alarming rate, but there are things that you can do to help. There are estimated to be over 15 million gardens in the UK, covering an area greater than all the National Nature Reserves combined! So our gardens and public green spaces are vitally important habitats for wildlife, including bats. Did you know that a single pipistrelle bat eats 3,000 flying insects per night? By making your garden a good place for insects, you can make it a great place for bats, and lots of other wildlife too. Even a window box or tiny town garden can attract insects, which in turn attract bats. Find out more by downloading . Bat Box Factsheet You can also provide alternative roost sites for bats by putting up a bat box, giving these night-time creatures somewhere safe to roost, raise their pups and sleep during the day.


Hedgehogs are one of our most loved mammals. Sadly, over a third of hedgehogs have been lost since the millennium but there is plenty that we can all do at home to help our hogs. Hedgehogs eat a wide range of creepy crawlies, so create homes for these bugs and you can help hedgehogs get in the best shape for hibernation. Log piles, compost heaps and overgrown corners over your garden are fantastic habitat and may even provide nesting opportunities for hedgehogs. Make a hedgehog hole Hedgehogs roam about a mile every night on their search for food, which makes solid garden boundaries a serious barrier. Work with neighbours to make holes or channels at the bottom of walls and fences to enable hedgehogs to freely pass. A 13cm by 13cm hole is big enough for a hedgehog, but too small for most pets to push through. Find out more by downloading a . Hedgehog Factsheet

04/09/ 20


Summer Branch Drop In Area's 4 and 5 at least 3 Oak trees have had large boughs fall off them in the last few weeks. Speaking with Wokingham Borough Councils arboriculturalist it appears this is a case of a Summer Branch Drop resulting from the prolonged dry weather, higher than average temperatures and droughts followed by more recent heavy rainfall and gusting wind. Summer Branch Drop This has long been considered a phenomenon characterised typically by ‘apparently healthy and stable trees’ shedding ‘large limbs during the summer for no obvious reason’ often with trees exhibiting no prior obvious visual defects or signs of reduced structural integrity and in almost all cases following extended dry periods in summer.

21/08/ 20


Heavy Horses Currently grazing the Area 10 Car Park field are 2 of the UK’s largest land Mammals the Horse (Equus caballus). The black horse is a Shire horse,the original war horse. They are a traditional English breed and there are only 1500 left in the world, making them rarer than the giant panda. The brown horse is a Suffolk Punch, they are on the critically endangered list and only 60 breeding mares are left in the UK and 300 left in the world.

22/07 /20


Friday 17 July to Sunday 9 August is Dragonfly Week You can find out more about Dragonfly week on the British Dragonfly Society website. Dragonfly Week 2020

13/07 20


Between Friday 17 July and Sunday 9 August choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes. Then record which species you see. You can find out more about the Big Butterfly Count on their website. Big Butterfly Count

27/06 20


The South East Rivers Trust working with various Agencys including FOTEB propose to make improvements to the Emm Brook through Area's 4 & 5 in Woosehill You can find out more about South East Rivers Trust proposals on their website. Restoration of the Emm Brook

26/06 20


The Environment Agency has confirmed that the chemical spill has been contained on site (where the spill occurred) & has not affected the Emm Brook. As a precaution, an Environment Officer attended the Emm Brook & Dinton Pastures & found no signs of negative impact.THe Emm Brook has therfore been declared safe.

24/06 20


It was announced this afternoon by the Environment Agency that 8,000 litres of Nutriox had been discharged to the ground approx 1.5 miles upstream of the Emm Brook. The chemical has not entered the adjacent stream and it has not entered the underlying groundwater table . Nutriox is classed as a hazardous substance.The chemical is dangerous to eyes and harmful if swallowed.Advise is to rinse well with fresh water. Nutriox is used in a process which eliminates septicity , which produces dangerous and odorous hydrogen sulphide gas in sewer networks. Whilst this is being investigated please do not enter the Emm Brook or allow your dog to swim in it.

22/06 /20


This week is National Insect Week. Organised by the Royal Entomological Society, it encourages everyone to appreciate and learn more about the ‘little things that run the world’. Insects are by far the most diverse and ecologically important group of animals on land and there are over 24,000 known species in the United Kingdom alone, with hundreds of species to be found in almost every garden and green space. With so many to study they are grouped into orders, for example the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) and Coleoptera (beetles) to name a few. Insects have a huge role to play and without them our lives would be very different: they pollinate fruit, flowers and vegetables; they are food for amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals; and they feed on lots of living and dead things themselves, breaking down waste and helping to keep the balance of nature. You can find out more about National Insect Week on their website. National Insect Week

12/06 20


Area 7A The FOTEB committee have decided to incorporate a new wildlife monitoring area to the list. It will encompass the Ashridge Stream (a tributary of the Emm Brook).With the building of the new houses in the Emmbrook area it has opened up the Ashridge Stream.It will be known as Area 7A of the Emmbrook for monitoring purposes . It will be from its emergence at Warren House Road (SU 816698) to its confluence with the Emm Brook (SU 798704) close to Toutley Bridge on Old Forest Road. Eldridge Park Area 7A incorporates Eldridge Park a 25 acre SANG.


In case anybody is wondering whats going on at Old Forest Road Meadows with Heras fencing everywhere it is part of the Flood Allevation Works for the new road. This involves the realignment of the existing footpaths and construction of flood bunds and Balancing ponds. The plan above is attached to the Heras fencing. Old Forest Road Meadows Works


NWDR I have recently been contacted by concerned residents, regarding the current tree and hedgerow removal at the junction of Old Forest Road and Toutley Road. These works have also included removal of several trees on Old Forest Road Meadows and also Emmbrook Walk.Clearance has also been undertaken around the Ashridge Stream. These areas are owned by Wokingham Borough Council. These works are in preperation for the proposed North Wokingham Distributor Road. FOTEB has been speaking with WBC to try and make this process as less invasive as possible to the wildlife of the area.NWDR Further information on the proposed route can be found by following this link NWDR . Any residents concerns should be addressed to: NWDR@balfourbeatty.com > Click here to send an email

Events 2020

21/03 20




Litterpick flyer

FOTEB will be holding a Community litter pick on Saturday 28th March between 10:30-12:30 meet at Dragonfly Bridge to the rear of Morrisons .Please wear suitable clothing including gloves. Litter pickers and bags will be provided.



The FOTEB 2020 AGM will be held on Monday 11th May 19:30-21:30 at Woosehill Community Hall ,Emmview Close,Wokingham,RG41 2TS


Elm Planting

On 03/01/2020, Friends of Emm Brook joined forces with Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association and Butterfly Conservation Upper Thames volunteers along with Duncan Fisher of Wokingham BC and Peter Cuss (Butterfly Conservation Upper Thames)to plant 20 disease resistant Elms at 4 sites, including Emmbrook Walk (Area 7) and Old Forest Road Meadows (Area 8). Thanks to all who helped. It is hoped that this habitat will help the White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) a diminutive dark butterfly with a white W on its underside. It has declined by 93% since the 1970s because Dutch elm disease has destroyed the trees on which its caterpillars feed.


Balsam Bash

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam is an invasive non-native plant that is found along many rivers and waterways in the UK. It was introduced in the 19th century before spreading rapidly into the wild and is now the dominant species along the river bank in many areas of the country. It has a very effective seed dispersal mechanism as it has “exploding” seed pods allowing each plant to spread 600 seeds up to 5 metres from the plant. These seeds can then be transported downstream and colonise new areas quickly. These plants are are a problem as they grow in very dense stands and suppress the growth of native vegetation. In winter this becomes an issue as the plant dies back and leaves the banks vulnerable to erosion, with increased silt inputs potentially degrading spawning habitats for fish. It is therefore important to manage Himalayan balsam to prevent it getting out of control along our rivers.


Dates for 2020 Bashing are to be arranged:


The date for Moth Night in 2020 has been set for 27 - 29 August . The theme for Moth Night 2020 is to be the various "Red" Underwings - Red Underwing Catocala nupta; Rosy Underwing Catocala electa; Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa and Light Crimson Underwing Catocala promissa. https://www.mothnight.info/home



A Date With Nature Monthly Saturday morning walk 1st Saturday of each month Location: Meet in the Dinton Pastures main car park in Wokingham RG10 0TH at 09:00. As the parking fee in the Dinton Pastures car park is £6 for 4 hours, the Local RSPB Group have arranged for participants to park for free in the car park of the Wheelwright Arms, which is close to the entrance to Dinton pastures but on the opposite side of the road. (Obviously, it would be appreciated if we give our custom to the pub RG10 0TR.) A three and a half hour walk around Dinton Pastures and Lavell's Lake (Area 10 of the Emm Brook) , suitable for everyone of all ages and we usually see/hear between 40 and 50 species of birds. Good cafe and toilets by the car park. Time: 9 am Price: £2 donation to the RSPB.


On the second Sunday of every month Lavell's Wetland Trust formally Friends of Lavell Lake (FOLL) run a guided bird walk around the park covering Area 10 of the Emm Brook. Routes will vary depending on the time of year and last up to three hours. Wear suitable clothing as at times paths can be very muddy. We meet at 9am in the car park on Sandford Lane (opposite the Dinton Activity Centre entrance) and ask for a donation of £1 with no charge for children. For more information visit the FOLL website . Click here

Car park charges apply.

This Month on the Emmbrook
What to look for if you are out and about in




September is a time of change as the tide turns from Summer to Autumn with the Autumnal equinox usually on the 23nd September. The hedgerows are full of ripening berries with Hawthorn haws, Rose hips, Sloes, Blackberries and Elderberries. However make sure that you pick your Blackberries before September 29th St Michaelmas Day . It was once believed that on the feast of St. Michael, the devil spat on the blackberries (or worse!) and it was therefore very unwise to pick and eat the fruit after September 29th. According to the old tale, when St. Michael cast Satan from Heaven, the devil landed on earth in a patch of brambles and he returns every year to spit on the plant that tortured him, breathing his foul breath over it and trampling it. The leaves of the trees are just starting to change to the reds and golds of Autumn and Winter as bird migrants start to appear.

When is the first day of autumn?

It depends on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological autumn. We often talk about it beginning to feel like autumn when the nights start to draw in and temperatures start feeling cooler. There are two separate dates which could be said to mark the start of autumn in calendars. One is defined by the Earth's axis and orbit around the sun and the second is a fixed date which is used by meteorologists for consistent spacing and lengths of the seasons.

Meteorological season

The meteorological autumn begins on the 1st of September and ends on 30th of November . The meteorological seasons consists of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each. These seasons are split to coincide with our Gregorian calendar making it easier for meteorological observing and forecasting to compare seasonal and monthly statistics. By the meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn is the 1 September. The seasons are defined as Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November) and Winter (December, January, February).

Astronomical season

This astronomical autumn began on the 22nd September and ends on the 21st December . The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the sun. Both equinoxes and solstices are related to the Earth's orbit around the sun.

Earth's axis and seasons

Solstices and equinoxes are considered to be the astronomical transition points between the seasons and mark key stages in the astronomical cycle of the earth. In a year there are two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter). The dates of the Equinox and Solstice aren't fixed due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the sun. The Earth's orbit around the sun means that in early January, the sun is closest (known as perihelion) and in early July it is most distant (aphelion). On the autumn equinox, day and night are of roughly equal length and the nights will become increasingly longer than the days until the spring equinox when the pattern is reversed. It also marks the time of year when the northern hemisphere begins to tilt away from the sun resulting in less direct sunlight and consequently the cooling temperatures.


Keep an eye out for Jays. These birds are more noticeable at this time of the year as they stash acorns away for the winter by burying them in the ground. Gathering Swallows & Martins herald the beginning of the great intercontinental shift as northern breeding birds head south.


Insect numbers decline massively as adults of many species die to leave the caterpillars or pupae to survive the winter; however certain insects are more noticeable at this time of year. Around the time of the harvest in August onwards the Craneflies (or Daddy-long-legs) appear in their greatest numbers. September really wouldn.t be the same without one of these clumsy charecters hanging around your porch light.On cold autumn mornings you suddenly realise how many spiders there are! Take an early morning walk and spot spider webs outlined in dew on hedgerows, in meadows and even on house windows and car wing mirrors. Spider silk is truly amazing

Other Wildlife

Squirells become more noticeable again hunting for and hiding acorns for the winter.

Plants & Trees

By September the Horse-Chestnut trees (conker trees) have been showing signs of the changing season for several weeks, already with their large palmate leaves browning at the edges like they have passed too near to a naked flame. The Horse-Chestnut also yields up its seeds this month in the form of conkers which drop to the ground in their spiky green cases.

Other tree species such as Ash, Beech and Sweet Chestnut are also turning with tinges of yellow, orange and light green tinges.

Ivy is one of the few late flowering plants and the nectar forms an important food sources for bees and wasps. There are seven different wasp species in Britain. Common and German wasps seemingly suddenly appear in September but this is because their pattern of obtaining food has changed. Their summer past time of killing insects to feed to the larvae in the nest has come to an end (the larvae provide a sweet saliva in return). This is because their queen has now stopped laying eggs and the food incentive has gone. As a result they then move onto other sweet substitutes, such as the sugars of fallen fruit or the jam in your picnic sandwiches. Unfortunately it is now that wasps, with their ability to sting and not die, become particularly unpopular in the garden.

It was once believed that on the feast of St. Michael, the devil spat on the blackberries (or worse!) and it was therefore very unwise to pick and eat the fruit after September 29th. According to the old tale, when St. Michael cast Satan from Heaven, the devil landed on earth in a patch of brambles and he returns every year to spit on the plant that tortured him, breathing his foul breath over it and trampling it. Many plants have or are setting seeds. Rosebay willow-herb plants are sending out fluffy seed umbrella like structures to carry the seed by the wind to a new location.

Fungi can be found throughout the year but a damp September and October will give rise to a multitude of fruiting bodies yielding billions of spores to spread the species far and wide.

For more information click the link September on the Emm Brook

Emmbrook Weather

Bernard Burton has been recording the weather alongside the Emm Brook since 1976. His weather station originally situated at Emmbrook Secondary School till 1996 and now at Emmbrook Junior School daily monitors the weather. For a more detailed anaylsis of the previous month's weather visit this link. Emmbrook Weather

For todays Emm Brook weather Todays Weather

For todays Emm Brook sunrise and sunset times Click here


At their meeting in November 2010 the FOTEB management committee took the decision to discontinue the printed newsletters for members. This decision was not taken lightly since there is of course a tradition of keeping members informed of events and sightings by way of regular printed newsletters. However, knowing that the majority of members have internet access and are regular visitors to our website - and having received an increasing number of representations from members expressing a wish to receive literature in an electronic format - your committee felt that the time had come to cease the time-consuming and costly production of regular printed newsletters and replace them with an online noticeboard on our website.

Click on Archive page at the top of the screen to view one of the previous News letters.

Emm Brook River levels now on line

The Environment Agency Website now has a daily update on river levels of the Emm near Tesco's in Area 2

2019 NEWS


The annual clearance and checking of the nest boxes along the Emm took place this year in January 2019. This was undertaken by Malcolm Dunmore, Charles Stickler,Mike Smith and Mike Saynor.

A full report can be found here. 2018 Bird Box Usage along the Emm


Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association was formed ten years ago in 2007 and have just launched the WDTVA’s 10th Anniversary Report. This report summarising WDVTA activities and achievements across the Borough is now available on the WDVTA website at Click here