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




December 21st is the Midwinter Solstice and our shortest hours of daylight. Plants are in their dormant stage and there are very few signs of growth at this time. It also marks the official arrival of winter. This month is, of course, dominated by the run up to Christmas. It is now, perhaps more than any other time that we bring plants from the countryside into our home. Evergreens such as Holly, with its rosy berries (only on the females plants) are used in wreaths, along with Ivy and fir cones too. The custom of decorating homes with evergreen branches dates back to pre-Christian times. Holly,Iivy and Mistletoe were thought to have magical powers. A European tradition states that whoever brings the first Holly into the house at Christmas will rule the house for the following year.


Cold nights and damp days make winter inhospitable for lots of insects and plants, while most amphibians and some mammals have gone into hibernation. But while the rest of the animal kingdom sleeps, the landscape is flooded with visiting and resident birds. Amongst the most likely birds to be seen in the gardens, woodlands and fields alonside the Emm are flocks of roaming Tits and Finches (such as Chaffinch and Brambling). These are often joined by the occasional Tree creeper and Nuthatch. With every year that passes there are more reports of Blackcaps and even Chiffchaffs over wintering; you may be lucky to see them amongst these flocks. Rooks and Crows seem to be everywhere once out of town, and Jays and Magpies are hard to miss also.Robins are one of the first species to start singing in earnest, with the males marking out their territories in readiness for the coming breeding season Read more at

At night Tawny owls may be heard staking out territory, with both the male and the female birds creating the classic owl 'tu-wit tu-who'.

Wood Pigeon Love them or hate them, huge numbers of woodpigeons will be on the move within December. Individual flocks can number in the tens of thousands. The movement is generally from the north to the south-west and is most obvious on clear cold days with light winds. We aren't really sure where these birds come from or where they are going to but it would seem likely that they are moving from northern Europe and are making their way to France and possibly southern Europe. When this migration is underway it is a very impressive sight and one that a lot of people overlook.


Very few insects can be found flying around during December. The exception may be clouds of male Gnats dancing in the hope of attracting a passing female. Look into your shed or attic now and you may come across adult Small Tortoiseshell or Peacock butterflies waiting out the winter.

Some Slugs and Snails still brave the conditions. Their slimy trails differ in that snails trails are not continuous, unlike Slugs. Why do leaves change colour

For more information click the link December 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

2018 NEWS



A litter pick will take place on 18th March 2018 @ 10.00. Meet at Morrisons, between the Community Centre and Morrisons entrance in Woosehill. Please wear suitable clothing including gloves. Litter pickers and bags will be provided.


The FOTEB 2018 AGM was 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 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 the 2018 Balsam Bashing season are as follows:

Wed 4 July Area 6. Emmbrook school to Railway bridge at 17:00.

Sun 08 July Area5. Dragonfly bridge to Barkham Road bridge. Meet at 0900 at Dragonfly Bridge at the rear of Morrisons.

Thur 12 July Area3. Barkham Road to Finchampstead Road meet by Lidl car park on Ashville Way at 17:00.

Sat 14 July Area 8. Old Forest Road to M4 Bridge, meet at 0900 at the lay by on Old Forest Road.

Sun 5th August Area 5. Dragonfly Bridge to Railway Bridge meet at 0900 at Dragonfly Bridge (rear of Morrisons).

Thur 9th August Area3. Ashville Way to Barkham Road Bridge meet by Lidl car park on Ashville Way at 17:00.

Sun 12th August Area7. Old Forest Road to Emmbrook School meet at 09.00 at the lay by on Old Forest Road.



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.

2018 NEWS


18/06/18 Burnt Oak Tree

In an act of mindless vandalism an Oak tree near Kingfisher Bridge was recently set on fire. The Fire Brigade were called to put it out.


03/04/18 Woosehill Meadow Pond Sign

The observant ones of you will have noticed that the Woosehill Meadow Pond Sign is not in its rightfull place in Area 5. The sign was found uprooted, and has been removed, prior to reinstatement at a later date .


The annual clearance of the nest boxes along the Emm took place this year on in January 2018. This was undertaken by Malcolm Dunmore, Charles Stickler, Eddie Napper and Mike Saynor.

checked the nest boxes along the Emm in January 2018. A high proportion of the nest boxes were used again. A full report can be found here. 2017 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