Latest Sightings November 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 11 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 November

All sightings unless stated are from personal observations by Eddie Napper.

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What is this life if full of care , we have no time to stand and stare. Leisure - W. H. Davies.


30/11/20 Working from home in Area 7A and occasionally glancing out of the window produced flyovers of 6 Herring Gull a solitary Black headed Gull , 3 Mistle Thrush , Great spotted Woodpecker , 20 Wood Pigeon , Jackdaw , Carrion Crow ,Magpie ,Ring necked Parakeet and a Jay .

25/11/20  Little Egret In Area 7A at Ashridge Meadows a Little Egret was feeding in the Ashridge Stream before being spooked by an overflying Red Kite and taking to the air. Later in the day a Common Buzzard was perched in a roadside tree at 15:30.A lunchtime visit to Area 1 produced the usual farm land species. Seen were Carrion Crow ,Rook , Jackdaw , Wood Pigeon ,Magpie and Pied Wagtail . At Ludgove School on the flooded field were 4Grey Heron and 25 Mallard .

23/11/20 Paul O'Neill was at Ashridge Meadows in Area 7A and saw a Little Egret heading South East, a female Kestrel , a Grey Wagtail on the telegraph wires and a female Stonechat on the Reed Mace. He then went to Old Forest Road Meadows in Area 8 and saw another female Kestrel . In Area 4 Paul Bright Thomas heard a calling Tawny Owl near the Balancing pond at 22:30 , earlier in the day he also saw a Raven distantly in Area 3 and 2 Redwing , 3 Siskin and 4 Fieldfare heading over his garden. At Heathlake in Area 1 were 6 Pochard , 5 male and a female seen by Patrick Crowley.

22/11/20 A Grey Wagtail was on the beach in front of the Dinton Activity Centre in Area 10 seen by Richard Marsh. 7 Ring necked Parakeets flew over Area 7A calling also seen was a Pied Wagtail bravely calling as it flew behind a Sparrowhawk , seeing it off at a safe distance.

21/11/20 The nightly murmaration of about 250 Starling at dusk flying into the Area 10 reedbeds to roost has caught the attention of 2 Sparrowhawk looking for an evening snack. Also seen flying to roost nearby were approximately 60 Ring necked Parakeets . All sightings by Paul Bright Thomas.

18/11/20 A Sparrowhawk was seen flying over Area 5 this morning and later in the day a Grey Wagtail was seen.

15/11/20 A Grey Wagtail was seen in Area 8 near Old Forest Road Meadows by Paul O'Neill.

14/11/20  Pochard It was definitely a dark,dismal,dank and rainy day. I went to Heathlake in Area 1 and walked around the lake and the woods. On the lake were the usual Mallard and Black-headed Gull waiting for the next bag of bread. 4 Mute Swan at the far end,  Pochard 7 Pochard a lot of Tufted Duck, Coot , Moorhen and on the Island, 2 Cormorrant were perched on the tree branches. Cormorrant The day was however brightened by the site of a Kingfisher fishing on an inlet into the lake. In the woods Goldcrest were heard from the top of the Pines.At Ludgove School on the flooded field Grey Heron numbers had increased to 5.

12/11/20 I was alerted by Herring Gulls calling over Area 5 and looked up to see the reason, 3 were mobbing a Common Buzzard that was moving effortlessly on the thermals. After a few minutes it moved off and much to the Gulls annoyance was swiftly replaced by a Red Kite. Needless to say the whole process started all over again.

10/11/20  Leucistic Blackbird A Sparrowhawk was seen in Area 10 at the Car Park field by Les Blundell. In Area 4 a Leucistic Blackbird was seen by Paul Hopcraft.Leucism, is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers.

08/11/20  Little Egret In Area 10 a Green Woodpecker flew up after feeding in the Car Park field grass and a Little Egret was again in the flooded field in Area 1.Area 4 was again watched by Paul Bright-Thomas, results were a Lesser Redpoll a Bullfinch heading along the Emm Brook ,2 Meadow Pipit and a Siskin flying over.

07/11/20 In Area 10 at the car park field 2 Mistle Thrush flew East and 2 Raven were seen moving low North West calling, seen by Fraser Cottington. In Area 4, Paul Bright Thomas was watching his garden. A Ring necked Parakeet flew over calling, a Golcrest and Mistle Thrush were also seen. A Lesser Redpoll was in an Ash with Goldfinch . A Common Crossbill flew South East and 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen together in a Poplar tree near Kingfisher Bridge. In Area 7A a Little Egret was seen flying along the Ashridge Stream towards Old Forest Road Meadows and a Sparrowhawk was sitting on rooftops in Area 6 at Clifton Road. Both sightings by Paul O'Neill.

06/11/20  Kingfisher Bird of the day has to be a stunning male Kingfisher seen and photographed obligingly perched in the sunshine in Area 4 by Paul Hopcraft.  Black headed Gull At lunchtime in Area 1 the fields around Ludgrove School were being ploughed, 30 Black headed Gull were looking for worms along with  Little Egret Jackdaw and Wood Pigeon . In the flooded field was a Little Egret and a Grey Heron . In Area 7A a total of 11 Meadow Pipit were seen on the ground and perched on fences by Paul O'Neill.

04/11/20 Paul Bright-Thomas was in his Area 4 garden and saw a Little Egret flying over low South,a Common Gull heading South West. A calling Ring necked Parakeet going South and with the annual migration of Wood Pigeon well under way 275 were seen moving South in an hour. The largest flock was 100 birds. In Area 10 a female Tawny Owl was heard calling in woods near the Jolly Farmer pub on Davis Street at 20:30.

01/11/20  Blackbird Area 7A was visited this morning and the sun came out briefly. Skylark were singing up high on the wing, whilst several Meadow Pipit flew from the grass. A Ring necked Parakeet flew over calling and Red Kite was also seen. In Area 4 a Song Thrush flew from the bushes and in Area 5 Great spotted Woodpecker , Jay were rummaging through the fallen Acorns and a male Blackbird was greedily feeding on the Sloes on the Blackthorn bushes.


29/11/20 Despite the fact that the weather has finally become more wintry and moth numbers have plummeted the moth trap was out again overnight in Area 7A the and emptied this morning. The results were 21 moths of 3 species . The catch was 10 December Moth Poecilocampa populi , 10 Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria and 1 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata .Outside the trap was an as yet unidentified Weevil. Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

25/11/20 Seen in Area 5 flying around was a queen Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris .

22/11/20   Nursery Web Spider The moth trap was out again overnight in Area 7A and emptied this morning. The results were 16 moths of 7 species . The catch was 5 December Moth Poecilocampa populi , 2 Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx , a single Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria , 5 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata , 1 Red -Green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata and a Turnip Moth Operophtera brumata . A Nursery Web Spider Pisaura mirabilis was on the outside of the trap. Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

18/11/20  Silver Y With a dry night forecast and a mild wind from the South West, the moth trap was out in Area 7A overnight and emptied this morning. The results were 10 moths of 5 species . The highlight was 2 Silver Y Autographa gamma .Probably the UK's most common immigrant moth. Each forewing has a conspicuous unbroken metallic silver Y-marking. 2 December Moth Poecilocampa populi , 3 Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx , 2 Feathered Thorn Colotois pennaria and the Micro moth Acleris sparsana . Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

07/11/20  Male December Moth With a favourable forecast the moth trap was out in Area 7A overnight and emptied this morning. The results were fairly lean. Highlights were 3 December Moth Poecilocampa populi mostly males. The flight time for this moth is, as the name suggests, late in the year. In fact it can be found from October until mid or late December.2 Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria , 2 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata , 6 Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx and 2 Feathered Thorn Colotois pennaria . A total of 15 moths of 5 species. Ophion obscuratus agg Also in the trap were 2 Ophion obscuratus agg It is an Ichneumon Fly. It flies most of the year and readily comes to light.Females lay their eggs in the caterpillars of various noctuid moths.We have been informed recently that there is some debate about Ophion obscuratus and it may need to be split into more than one species. We have therefore decided to treat it as an aggregate until things are resolved. Following inspection and recording/photographing anything caught is released.

Plants/ Trees

As the leaves on the trees and hedgerows start to change colour to a yellowey gold, find out why at Why do leaves change colour .

28/11/20 Mistletoe The Coronavirus has put paid to kissing under the Mistletoe this year, but no one has told the Mistletoe as it looks to have been a good year. In Area 5 in an Ash Tree by the pond Mistletoe Viscum album is in the top of the tree. Mistletoe is a small semi-parasitic evergreen shrub which forms large spherical balls in the tops of trees. Balls of mistletoe can be up to 1m wide. Mistletoe leaves, stems and berries are all poisonous.

25/11/20  Great Reed Mace In Area 7A Great Reedmace Typha latifoli can be seen. Great Reedmace, is also commonly known as 'Bulrush'. It is a familiar plant of freshwater margins such as the edges of ponds, lake, ditches and rivers. Its impressive stance - with long leaves and tall stems - makes it stand out from other wetlands plants. And its sausage-like flower heads are unmistakeable.

07/11/20  Acorns 2020 will be remembered as a mast year (and possibly for other reasons). But why? Mast years generally occur between every five and ten years and are when trees across the country produce a bumper crop of fruit or nuts. This is very striking when you are walking along the Emm Brook and the acorns are raining down on your head and crunching under your feet. Mast years are thought to be advantageous for the trees as it is usually accompanied by a boom in populations of seed and fruit-eating animals (known as frugivores) taking advantage of the bounty.This means frugivores will be unable to consume all the bumper crop produced during mast years, ensuring seeds have a chance at germination during spring months. Naturalists have also concluded that excess fruit production takes a great deal of energy, after which species must recuperate, and accumulate new energy reserves before being able to mast again. 2013 was the last big mast year, but why do they occur?  Squirell The simple answer is - we don't know. As the phenomenon tends to occur across the whole country it is clearly not down to local factors. Weather is thought to be involved, with the right combination of temperature and rainfall in the spring being needed. The weather was certainly nice around the start of the first lockdown. The trees produce lots of flowers, but in addition, since Oak trees are wind pollinated, a dry and warm spring is needed. On the other hand, producing lots of fruit is costly and reduces the growth of the tree, so they don't want to do this every year. What will happen in 2021?  Jay Probably not another mast year, whatever the weather, because trees have spent a lot of energy on fruiting this year. And likely, a boom in rodents and Jays that will have a good winter feasting on acorns.

02/11/20  Autumn The recent rain and wind seems to be making short work of the autumn splendour of the trees this year, still they look good on the ground too.


03/11/20  Parasol Mushroom On a rotting tree stump in Area 5 was a small clump of Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera .

01/11/20  Fly Agaric In Area 5 was the battered remains of a Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria . Down by the weir pool on a dead tree branch were King Alfred's Cakes Daldinia concentrica  King Alfred's Cakes Legend has it that King Alfred, when in hiding from the Danes, once burnt some cakes by failing to take them out of the oven. These fungal growths, which look as if they have been burned, are a reminder of his poor cooking and hence their common name.

Amphibians and Reptiles


10/11/20 On a mild night a Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus bat was seen flying round an external light picking off moths in Area 7A.

08/11/20  Rabbit On my wanderings along the Emm Brook today it was time to enjoy the often overlooked mammals. In Area 10 several Rabbit Orytolagus cuniculus were feeding on the longer grass   Grey Squirreland in Area 8 at Old Forest Road Meadows a Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis was sat in a Riverside tree.

03/11/20  Male Roe Deer In a field adjacent to the Ashridge Stream in Area 7A a male Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus was  Female Roe Deergrazing on the woody bushes with 3 females.

Fish/ Crustaceans