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.


Amongst the most likely birds to be seen in the gardens, woodlands and fields alonside the Emm are flocks of roaming Tits and Fnches (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.

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.

For more information click the linkDecember 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 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


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 2017 AGM was held on Monday 15th May at 19:30 at Woosehill Community Hall, Emmview Close, Wokingham RG41 3DA.


Balsam Bash A total of 40 hours was spent during 2017 bashing the Balsam along the Emm Brook.

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.


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.

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


1st April 2017 Litter Pick

As part of Wokingham Borough Council's Annual Spring Clean there was a litter pick on Saturday 1st April 2017. Approx 16 people attended. Pickers visited the open space around Emmbrook walk and the surrounding streets. In approx 2hrs ,10 full bin bags were filled with rubbish.


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.