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



Riverside Walk Winter

The month can be as harsh as any with snow and freezing winds. However it is possible to spot hints of better things to come. Although spring is still several weeks away the first signs are there to see.



Great Tit

Flocks of small birds moving through the trees including Great and Blue Tits accompanied by Finches, Nuthatches and Treecreepers are more easily visible in winter due to the lack of leaves on the trees. Their feeding has a real urgency . A few snatches of birdsong on a cold day remind us that winter is not for ever. By February, the birds will have begun to sing in earnest and we can think about looking forward to spring. Winter songsters are among those species that hold territories through the winter. Robins are one of the most vocal; they are unusual because both male and female hold their own territories in winter and both sing in their defence. Female song thrushes sometimes hold winter territories, but they do not sing. Wrens can be relied on for some powerful outbursts. Great tit, Nuthatch and Starling songs, while not tuneful, seem to me to be particularly cheerful. Out in the fields around the Toutley Bridge area, fine days also yield bursts of song from the Skylarks. And the mournful hoot of a Tawny Owl, heard as we lie warmly in bed, shows that the night is not dead. You may also be lucky enough to hear and see a Great- spotted Woodpecker drumming against a tree trunk in Riverside Walk.

Other Wildlife

Frogs are still emerging from their wintering hiding places and move towards their chosen breeding ponds.

Plants & Trees

Hazel Catkins (male) Hazel (female)

Hedgerows along side the Emm show little sign of life other than the Hazel catkins. Its yellow dangling catkins which are the male flower spikes (or inflorescences) . Instead of using insects, lured by bright colours, scent or nectar, to do their pollinating these flowers instead use the power of the wind to blow pollen from the catkins to the inconspicuous female flowers, which resemble a tiny shock of red hairs protuding from the tip of the bud.

In woodlands the most obvious leaves to emerge are those of the Cuckoo Pint (or Lord and Ladies). Their leaves push up through the leaf litter furled up but then open out once above ground.

Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is one of the first flowering plants to appear at the end of the winter (February to May). The plant itself is small (5-30cm tall) with dark, heart-shaped leaves The flowers, which appear on a short stalk, form a carpet of yellow stars in woodland, under hedgerows, in ditches and along streams. Lesser Celandine is an important early nectar source but, in wet and windy weather, the petals close.

For more information click the linkFebruary on the Emm Brook


Wolf Moon A beautiful supermoon will light up the sky on New Years Day and shine as a beacon of hope for all the people who over-celebrated the night before. Its called the wolf moon, because at this time of year hungry wolf packs would howl outside Native American villages during the chilly peak of winter.
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 Click here

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

2018 NEWS


NNBW takes place each year from 14-21 February, and after more than 19 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar. NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife Details of how to take part can be found here: Click here


A litter pick will take place on 18th March 2018 @ 10.00. Meet at Morrisons Car Park in Woosehill. Please wear suitable clothing including gloves. Litter pickers and bags will be provided.


The FOTEB 2018 AGM will be held on Monday 14th May at 19.15 - 21.15 at Woosehill Community Hall, Emmview Close, Wokingham RG41 3DA.


Balsam Bash

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam is classified as a Non Native Invasive Species and as such can take over large areas of river bank or damp habitat.It was introduced by the Victorians for use in ornamental gardens. As well as causing problems for native species, Himalayan balsam substantially increases the risk of riverbank erosion. It does this by stopping native bankside vegetation growing. The roots of these natives would bind the banks. With just balsam in the autumn, when it dies it leaves only bare soil that is easily eroded and washed away by any subsequent rain or flood events. It is possible to eradicate Himalayan balsam (not an option with most invasive plant species) from infested river catchments because its morphology and life cycle display a number of weaknesses that are uncharacteristic of such high profile invasive species. These include:

the plant has an annual life cycle, meaning it germinates, grows, flowers, seeds and dies in the one year;

the tall plant has a shallow root ball so easily removed by pulling;

the plant has no natural defence mechanisms, such as thorns or bristles, to make pulling difficult or hazardous;

the majority of the seeds germinate after one year and seeds are the only propagation method of this species. A full list of dates for the 2018 Balsam Bashinh season will be published nearer the date, but it is expected to start in June.



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 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.

2017 NEWS


25th November 2017 Strimmed Pond

The wildflower area arond the Woosehill Meadow Pond in Area 5 has been strimmed .


2nd September 2017

Malcolm Dunmore, Charles Stickler and Mike Saynor checked the nest boxes along the Emm in January 2017. A high proportion of the nest boxes were used again in 2016, although many of the tit chicks in the boxes along Emmbrook Walk perished. A full report can be found here. 2016 Bird Box Usage


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


The earth orbits the Sun in an elliptical path, which means that there is 1 point of the path when the Sun is at its closest to the Earth(Perihelion) and 1 point when it is furthest away (Aphelion). The Aphelion in Wokingham was on Monday, 3 July 2017, 21:11 BST . The distance from the Sun's center to Earth's centre was 152,092,504 km (94,505,901 miles) The Earth is closest to the Sun, or at the perihelion, about 2 weeks after the December Solstice, when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, the Earth is farthest away from the Sun, at the aphelion point, 2 weeks after the June Solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying warm summer months.