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WEEKLY SUMMARIES FOR APRIL TO JUNE


Summary for June 25 - July 1 (Week 26 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: On June 30 Bob Chapman was puzzled by the behaviour of an adult Grebe at the Blashford Lakes. In heavy rain the bird climbed onto the nest from which young have recently departed, turned onto its side and raised one leg to expose its belly to the rain. Bob could not suggest a reason for this but I suppose it maybe had a parasite or skin problem on its belly which normal washing and preening would not cure?

Manx Shearwater: On June 26 as many as 2100 were seen off Portland (only 100+ recorded on June 25 and 700 on June 27 but 500+ again seen on June 30)

Balearic Shearwater: Counts off Portland were 50 on June 25, 35 on June 26 and 16 on June 27 (the peak of 52 on June 22 still not beaten). Two seen off Selsey Bill on June 30 where the year's first for that site though one had been off Worthing on May 29

Storm Petrel: Selsey Bill saw 1 on June 24 and 2 on June 26. Christchurch Harbour had around 30 on June 25 when Portland had 12 and more than 20 were in the West Bay area of the west Dorset coast on June 28 with an estimate of 40 off Christchurch Harbour on June 29

Squacco Heron: There have been seven reports since May 28 and five of these have been in the Weymouth area though the bird has been elusive and moving between sites. On June 27 it was at Abbotsbury and on June 30 it was back at Radipole (where it had been seen on June 6 and 7)

Little Egret: First report of a juvenile out of the nest comes from Gosport where Ian Calderwood saw just one fledged bird on June 26

Greylag: By June 26 the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood had a flock of 400 that are likely to stay for some time while they moult. With them were 200 Canadas and a single Bar-Head.

Egyptian Goose: Three were at Blashford by the end of June

Shelduck: A flock of 12 or 13 adults at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 26 was the first double figure count there since mid-March. As these seemed to be all adults with no young among them they may have been a flock pausing on its way to their summer moult grounds on the north German coast. Not leaving us to moult were 8 Shelduck seen at Budds Farm pools on June 29 - six of these were well grown ducklings seen in two widely separated family groups of three each - with them were two adults.

Gadwall: Two broods of 7 and 8 ducklings were seen with a total of 10 adults at the Chichester lakes on June 26

Shoveler: Two seen at Budds Farm pools on June 29 were the first I have seen there since March 29

Eider: 25 were on the water off Pennington (Lymington) on June 28 - the biggest count I have recorded for that area this year.

Red-breasted Merganser: An adult female was seen on Hook spit near Warsash on June 27. There is usually at least one summering bird in Langstone Harbour but this year this is the first report of a bird anywhere on the south coast since Apr 30

Honey Buzzard: One was reported as having visited the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on June 22

Red Kite: Sightings of these all across southern England are no longer unusual but of local interest there was one right over Stansted House on June 27

Kestrel: With no Little Tern chicks left at Rye Harbour the local Kestrel was seen to take a Common Tern chick on June 29

Quail: One more report from Dorset - a single bird heard on June 24 at Cheselbourne (halfway between Blandford and Dorchester) - bringing the total of this year's reports to just 11. Since then two were heard on the downs above and west of the R Arun on June 28

Lapwing: Of local interest only - the first seven birds returning from breeding were back on the Langstone shore off The Ship inn on June 26

Knot: A single summer plumaged bird was seen off Church Norton in Pagham Harbour on June 26 and three were seen at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on June 30

Curlew Sandpiper: Two 'possible' sightings of a small wader with a white rump (but in non-breeding plumage) have come from the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 21 and 27 but there has been no confirmation of either sighting.

Black-tailed Godwit: When a flock of 57 Blackwits was seen at Hook (Warsash) on June 27 it was suggested that they were newly returned from Iceland, rather than birds which had never left us, and this provoked a discussion on Hoslist. Lee Evans produced some evidence in favour of early return when he said .. "Although a little on the early side, probably because of the dismal weather that Britain and much of Northern Europe has experienced this spring, large numbers of adult Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits have already returned south, including sizeable flocks in NW England and in East Anglia. This past weekend saw a trickle of birds displaced at Midlands sites and it seems likely that your 57 are like-minded, early returning, failed breeding adults, including both males and females. In normal years, large flocks of predominantly moulting males appear from mid-July, leaving females and young behind in Iceland. The latter then generally reach Britain in early to mid August". Against the suggestion was the fact that a flock of 58 Blackwits had been reported at the same site on June 23 with no special comment (though they were the first seen there since Apr 25), plus an absence of reports from other local coastal sites (e.g. only 2 birds present at Farlington Marshes and just 12 at Pennington)

Spotted Redshank: One at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on June 30 was presumably a returning migrant

Redshank: A group of 12+ coming to high tide roost on the walls of the Hayling Oysterbeds lagoon on the evening of June 26 were the first such 'autumn flock' that I have heard of there since April

Common Sandpiper: Also at the Hayling Oysterbeds the first returnee was seen on June 25 - another was new on the Titchfield Haven shore on June 26 and by June 29 one was back at Christchurch with three at Brownsea Island and one at the Blashford Lakes (both on June 30)

Little Gull: Lee Evans tells us that at least one pair bred in Britain this year at Titchwell in north Norfolk - by no means a first for Britain, and they were unsuccesful.

Black-headed Gull: The first report of a juvenile away from its nest in the local area came from Emsworth where Brian Fellows' photographed a very be-draggled specimen showing none of the normal ginger colour on June 27

Roseate Tern: One seen off the Hook links (Warsash area) on June 27 was the first to be seen in Hampshire since May 17

Common Tern: A pair hatched three young at Blashford Lakes on June 28 but on June 30 a count of 44 adults flying west past Christchurch Harbour (mostly in pairs) was thought to indicate early passage of failed breeders.

Little Tern: Of at least 10 pairs (maybe up to 25 pairs) which attempted to nest at Rye Harbour only three were still sitting on June 26 and all chicks which have hatched since the first chick was seen on June 22 have been taken by Kestrels. By June 30 we were told that the last bird of 16 pairs which had nested there had abandoned their nests with no young having been raised (and that the local Kestrel had since turned to taking Common Tern chicks)

Guillemot: On June 30 an adult with a very small youngster were seen on the sea off Birling Gap. These were assumed to have nested locally on Beachy Head and, if so, that would be the first breeding recorded there since 1904

Swift: During the recent bad weather several people have commented on the absence of Swifts from sites where they should still be nesting but on June 30 Nigel Driver said on the SOS website .. "Swift numbers have been down for a couple days, they often move off to the continent in bad weather, though the chicks seem to suffer no ill effects, going in to a state of torpor".

Roller: A 'possible' was seen on the Dorset coast near the Dancing Ledge (Swanage area) on June 26. The Roller is a member of the Bee-eater family but almost as big as a Jackdaw, with a brown back and the rest of the plumage a light blue. Its nearest breeding area is in Morocco. Birds of Hampshire lists four records between 1904 and 1987, two in late May, two in mid-September and one in July. The latest genuine report for Britain is of one in Northumberland from Oct 16 to 19 in 2006

Sand Martin: Two of the first to head south had been at Portland on June 22 and by June 28 four had appeared at Brading Marshes on the IoW

House Martin: Also on June 28 Brian Fellows was surprised to find some 20 House Martins hawking for insects in the Ems valley just north of Emsworth where he is not aware of any nesting birds nowadays. While they may have been breeding birds that had flown some distance to a good feeding area they too may have been already heading south. On June 29 several were similarly feeding over the Budds Farm pools where they normally only appear when on passage.

Ring Ouzel: The first report of one already heading south comes from Patching Hill (north of Brighton) on June 24.

Spotted Flycatcher: Michael Prior found a pair feeding young in a nest in the east park area of Stansted on June 27 - as far as I know this is the only breeding pair in the immediate vicinity of Havant.

Golden Oriole: Another bird on its way south was singing in a garden at Rusper (close to Crawley) on June 26

Serin: One sang briefly at Selsey on June 26 and another was at Portland on June 27

Corn Bunting: 'Good numbers' were seen on the Sussex Downs immediately south of Amberley on June 28

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

White Letter Hairstreak: 27 were seen during a visit to the MoD Defence Munitions site on the north west shore of Portsmouth Harbour on June 22

Purple Emperor: The first appeared in Surrey on June 19 and since then they have been seen in Alice Holt Forest (11 there on June 23) and at Bentley Wood on the Hants:Wilts border (just a single here on June 23 and June 26)

Large Tortoiseshell: In addition to the four records before April 7 and the three records already reported on June 20 (Titchfield Haven), 21 (Seaford in Sussex), and 22 (Barton on sea in Hants) we now have a record of one in the Fort Cumberland area of Eastney (Portsmouth) on June 21. The entry on the Hampshire Butterfly Conservation website reads .. "John Vallender reports:- I’m a member of Butterfly Conservation living in Wiltshire but working in Hampshire. I’d like to report a sighting of a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) at English Heritage Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth (SZ683992) on 21/06/2007. It was present for much of the day, basking in various locations and returning regularly to feed on a flowering bramble patch. I’ve attached the best photograph that I managed to take." Since then there have been new sightings at Littlehampton on June 26 and at Hurstmonceux Castle near Eastbourne on June 29

Marbled White: A total of 108 were seen at the Gosport Defence Muntions site on June 22

Gatekeeper: The first was seen at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on June 12, and this was followed by two sightings made by Brian Fellows (Hayling Oysterbeds on June 19 and Emsworth on June 21). Since then two were seen at the Gosport Defence Munitions site on June 22 and one was seen near Eastbourne on June 26 with a further single at Farley Mount near Winchester on June 28 - still no general emergence.

Common Ciliate Blue: One of these was photographed on a car at Farlington (Portsmouth) on June 16 and has only now been identified. It seems to have originated in South Africa from where the person who found it at Farlington had recently returned after playing golf there - he thinks the butterfly hitched a lift in his golf bag

Moths

Leopard Moth: First record from Brighton on June 23

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet: On June 19 I passed on a report of a Five-spot Burnet seen at Haywards Heath but the originator of that report has now been told that Five-spots are extinct in Sussex and he has changed his report to be of a Narrow-bordered Five-spot.

Caloptilia robustella: A new species for my database, found at Horsham on June 29

Currant Clearwing: One had been recorded at New Milton on May 26 but one seen on June 27 was a new species for Portland Island

Cameraria ohridella: This moth, new to Britain in 2002 and now widespread across England, has not been seen but the effect of its caterpillars, which can defolitate Horse Chestnut trees, can be clearly seen at Wade Court, Langstone - see diary entry for June 30

Helcystogramma rufescens: Another species new to my database was recorded at Horsham on June 29

Aleimma loeflingiana: Another first for the year at Horsham on June 29

Bramble-shoot Moth (Epiblema uddmanniana): Another first at Horsham on June 29

Water Veneer (Acentria ephemerella): Another first at Horsham on June 29 (59 of them were in the trap)

Euzophera pinguis: Also a first at Horsham on June 29

Phycitodes binaevella: Another first at Horsham on June 29 that was new for my database

Buff Arches: First of year at Horsham on June 29

Single-dotted Wave: First of year at Horsham on June 29

White-pinion Spotted: First of year at Horsham on June 29

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: I saw at least 47 reports of this species between Jan 31 and May 22 but have seen none since until now when one was seen on June 24 sheltering from rain under a supermarket trolley at the Hayling Co-Op store. The same trolley also had an Elephant Hawkmoth sheltering under it.

Yellow-tail: First of year at Horsham on June 29

Round-winged Muslin: First of year at Horsham on June 29

Scarce Footman: The first was seen at the Park Corner butterfly reserve near Eastbourne on June 26

Least Yellow Underwing: First at Portland on June 29

The Clay: First at Portland on June 23

Southern Wainscot: First of year at Horsham on June 29

Minor Shoulder-knot: First of year at Horsham on June 29

The Dun-Bar: First of year at Horsham on June 29

The Rustic: First of year at Horsham on June 29

The Blackneck: First of year at Horsham (Southwater Park) on June 20

The Fan-foot: First of year at Horsham on June 29

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars: The first sighting of these feeding on Ragwort was made on June 24 at Haywards Heath

Other Insects

Drab Wood-Soldier: Several of these Soldier Flies were found on a Poplar tree at Rye Harbour on June 26 - a first for the reserve and only the fifth known record for Sussex. This is a nationally notable species and its larvae live under the bark of Poplar trees

Cleg-fly: Present at Hastings by June 28 provoking the comment that in Ireland it is known as 'The Silent Doctor' becuase of its ability to settle on your flesh and insert its needle-like proboscis without you being aware of its presence (until afterwards!)

Scaeva pyrastri: This bold black and white hoverfly was first seen at Emsworth by Brian Fellows on June 27

Robin's Pin Cushion: I first noticed one of these at Sandy Point, Hayling on June 28 where a female gall wasp called Diplolepis rosae had laid her eggs in the stem of a wild rose. This species has very few males and generation after generation of females all practice 'virgin birth'

Harlequin Ladybird: A large number were seen at Dungeness on June 28 (new in from the continent?)

Strangalia maculata: A photo on the Rye Bay website shows that there can be great variability in the pattern of black and yellow markings on this Long-horn beetle species

Great Green Bush Cricket: Two nymphs seen at Durlston on June 26 - no reports of adult insects anywhere so far.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Viola tricolor: Where an earth bank was recently scraped clear of its previous vegetation (on the right side of the north entrance to the pedestrian underpass by the Langbrook stream south of Tesco) I recently found Corn Spurrey in flower and on June 29 both Viola tricolor and Lobelia erinus (the common small garden Lobelia) had appeared

Proliferous Pink: What was originally mistakenly call Childing Pink at Hayling Beachlands seems to be near the end of its appearance there. On June 28 I found just four tall stems each surmounted by an empty husk with neither flower nor seed.

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria): Many of these lovely flowers were out on Hayling Beachlands on June 28

Rough Clover (Trifolium scabrum): On June 28 this was flowering the sand beside the causeway approach road to the Black Point Sailing Club on Hayling

Hare's Foot Clover: This was also flowering at Black Point on June 28

Meadow Vetchling: The first which I can be sure of as flowering in the Havant area was seen by the Hayling Coastal Path on June 26

Rosebay Willowherb: A single spike of this was flowering on the bank of the Hayling Coastal path at Stoke Bay on June 26 - the first I know of this year

Horse Chestnut tree: On June 30 the trees around the entrance to Wade Court at Langstone had suffered severe damage from the larvae of the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner Moth - see diary entry for that day to find out more about this.

Sea Spurge: Flowering profusely at Sandy Point on June 28

Rough Chervill: Well in flower (some seed already) at Sandy Point on June 28

Corn Parsley: Plants seen beside Sandy Point Road on Hayling on June 28 - not yet in flower

Wild Parsnip: First report of this in flower comes from Durlston on June 27

Rock Samphire: Just starting to flower at Sandy Point on June 28

Sea Holly: First few flowers had turned blue by the Black Point causeway on June 28

Wood Dock: This hybridises freely with Clustered Dock and there is an overlap of characteristics between the two species but on June 26 I found a cluster of docks, close to the County Council Countryside Service notice proclaiming the start of the Hayling Billy Line coastal path just south of Langstone Bridge, which met the strictest definition of what a Wood Dock should look like and which could not possibly be confused with Clustered Dock

Sea Knotgrass: A good show of flowering plants on the shingle off the north east corner of Sandy Point reserve on June 28

Great Mullein: First flowers seen on Hayling on June 28

Small Yellow Foxglove (Digitalis lutea): I think I omitted to record my first find of these in flower on Portsdown on June 7 but I was reminded of it when John Goodspeed found the plants still flowering on June 26. They are said to have appeared at the same site each year since the cutting for the M27 was dug through the shoulder of the hill above Portchester and can be seen on a steep south facing bank above Monument Lane just before, heading uphill from the bridge over the M27, the lane disappears into trees and resumes the line it had before it was diverted to go over the bridge.

Small Toadflax: This was another plant which I found on Portsdown on June 7 but failed to record at the time

Pink Water Speedwell: A single small plant was flowering on Brook Meadow at Emsworth on June 27

Field Cow-Wheat (Melampyrum arvense): This is a plant which officially does not exist in Hampshire but can be found growing naturally on the Isle of Wight. Sometime in the last 20 years it is thought to have been 'introduced' to the south facing bank of the M27 cutting through the shoulder of Portsdown above Portchester and for at least the last ten years it has flowered and multiplied there but growth of trees and shrubs has been shading out the plants in recent years. This year they were first seen on June 26 and only 26 plants could then be seen.

Common Calamint: Although not yet in flower the plants found last year close to the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth had re-appeared on June 27

Basil Thyme: This was again found flowering for the first time this year on Portchester Common (Portsdown) on June 26

Marjoram: This was in full flower beside the coastal path on Hayling on June 26 where the first flower had been seen on June 14

Hound's Tongue: By June 28 some of the plants at Sandy Point on Hayling had already gone to seed (first flowering was reported at Durlston on May 30)

Ivy Broomrape: The yellow form (monochroma) of this was found in the Portchester Red Barn housing estate near the M27 west of Hill Road a few years ago and re-appeared there on May 12. By June 26 John Goodspeed found more plants than usual there.

Field Scabious: Although Small Scabious was flowering by May 7 Field Scabious was not reported (at Durlston) until June 25

Ploughman's Spikenard: Also flowering at Durlston on June 28

Lesser Burdock: Flowers starting to open in the Budds Farm area of Havant on June 29

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fallow deer: These drop their kids from mid-June, a few weeks after the Roe which give birth in May or early June, and on June 27 Michael Prior told us that the first young could now be seen at Stansted (but I'm pretty sure they are not eaily spotted by the casual visitor).

Hedgehog: These rarely get a mention nowadays and this year I have only recorded five reports, three of them road casualties, one seen alive but 'looking sickly' and only one being an apparently healthy individual that was on Brian Fellows' doorstep when his wife went to collect the milk bottles on the morning of June 29. All these reports have been since May 14 and I wondered if they might be sightings of this year's young and inexperienced animals. That however seems unlikely as I read that they normally do no mate before May, have a gestation period of 4 or 5 weeks, and that the young do not leave the nest in which they were born for another month. That seems to say that young would not normally be out on their own until well into July (when they would still look noticeably smaller than adults). The mother usually mates again in the summer and has a second 'brood' of six or seven young in the autumn (and these young have to feed up fast to gain sufficient body mass to survive hibernation). I guess the animals that are seen out and about at this time are either males searching for a mate or females looking for extra food to enable her to produce the milk needed by her young.

Water Vole: Although sightings at Emsworth remain few there was good news on June 27 when one was seen in a new area, heading upstream from Peter Pond on the west side of Brook Meadow (normally they are only seen in the main branch of the River Ems flowing down the east side of Brook Meadow).

Hare: On June 27 Michael Prior reported the presence of at least four Hares in the East Park area of Stansted.

Fungi: Despite the wet ground and warm air there has been no upsurge in reports of fungi but on July 1 both fresh Field Mushrooms and old Parasol mushrooms were seen at Durlston while I saw my first Fairy Ring in roadside grass on South Hayling on June 28


Summary for June 18 - 24 (Week 25 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Fulmar: A boat trip around Durlston Head on June 22 gave a view of a Fulmar sitting on a ledge with a 'ball of fluff' which was probably a new hatched chick. In East Sussex on June 20 ten pairs were on nests at Cliff End, north east of Hastings

Sooty Shearwater: A 'probable' sighting from Selsey Bill on June 22 should be given credence as the observer was Richard Ives. This would be the first sighting for the year

Manx Shearwater: Although 330 had been seen off Portland on May 9 the count on June 20 was 300+ and on June 21there were 350 there in the morning and another 300 (probably the same but maybe different) present in the evening

Balearic Shearwater: June 21 brought what was then a year peak count of 26 off Portland but there were 52 there on June 22 (with one flock of 22) and 48 on June 23. I also see that one got as far east as Dungeness on June 22 (previously there have only been two reports from sites east of Portland - one at Worthing and one at Christchurch Harbour)

Storm Petrel: 32 were seen from a boat in the West Bay area of the western Dorset shore on June 17 and on June 21 four were off Portland. June 23 brought a surge in numbers with at least 10 (maybe 20) lingering off Christchurch Harbour and 6 off Selsey plus 5 off Portland

Cormorant: On June 17 a juvenile was found in a garden at Sopley (just north of Christchurch and a couple of miles south of a Cormorant rookery). It was captured by a Swan Rescue team and released at Christchurch Harbour

Little Egret: Although not specifically saying that he had seen a juvenile Egret Jason Crook asked on June 22 if anyone knew if juveniles showed dark marks in their wings and Trevor Carpenter referred him to pictures he (Trevor) had taken last year showing a brownish colouration to much of the closed wing on a juvenile/first winter bird. Bob Chapman added that he had seen similar marks on one adult. I presume this question only arose because juveniles should now be out of their nests though there have so far been no reports of them. From the discussion so far it seems that faint brown markings on the closed wings are not uncommon but they cannot be used as confirmation that the bird is a juvenile. This reminds me that a little while ago I was told that at least a dozen Egret nests had been occupied this year at a heronry in the east of Chichester Harbour

Black Swan: One arrived in Christchurch Harbour on June 17 to join the massive summer moult flock of Mute Swans which assembles there each year.

Canada Geese: The sight of seven flyng past Selsey Bill on June 22 shows that some at least are not yet flightless in moult

Brent Geese: Two summering birds were seen on June 19 on Gull Island in the mouth of the Beaulieu River

Teal: The sight of five at Hook (Warsash) on June 23 raised the question as to whether they had remained in the area until now or were the first 'returnees'.

Buzzard: On June 20 one of the two birds based on Warblington Farm caused the male of the resident Kestrel pair to go into a frenzy of resentment when the Buzzard perched in a particular tree. My attention was attracted by the continually agitated calls of the Kestrel and I watched it for some time hovering low over the tree, circling its upper branches and at one point flying through the canopy in an attempt to dislodge the Buzzard. When the Buzzard eventually emerged the Kestrel repeatedly dive bombed it - seeming to hit it hard in the back at one point - but twenty mintues later I noted that the Buzzard was still in the same area though the Kestrel had ceased to remonstrate. On June 23 three Buzzards were seen over fields east of Pook Lane and south of the Havant bypass - the third was probably a wandering adult but raises the possibility that the Warblington pair have bred and now have a youngster out of the nest

Osprey: It would seem that these have now started to move south on their autumn passage - there was a probable sighting of one over a pond just north of Crowborough on June 20 and one flew over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on June 21

Kestrel: A pair nesting on or near Stansted House probably now have young requiring lots of food and on June 19 Michael Prior described how the pair of adults took advantage of his work cutting weeds on the estate. The cutting disturbed and exposed a lot of invertebrates and possibly some small mammals and both Kestrels came repeatedly to hover very close to the tractor Michael was driving giving him very close views from the cab but also causing him to swerve on one occasion when one of the Kestrels was slow in taking off with prey right in front of the tractor wheels.

Peregrine: On June 17 Brian Fellows was at Chichester cathedral and found that one of the four young Peregrines had left the nest but was still perched nearby on the building - I guess that means that it is now too late to expect to see the juveniles on the webcam.

Quail: So far this year I have seen ten reports of Quail with the first on May 10 at Rye Harbour and the latest on June 23 at Tarrant Rushton (east of Blandford in Dorset).

Common Crane: In addition to the established flock of Cranes in north Norfolk we have had 16 reports of sightings in southern England so far this year. This week one was seen at Lydd near Dungeness in Kent on June 17 and on June 19 one was over the upper Cuckmere valley area of Sussex (coming from and returning to some point west of there)

Avocet: By June 23 the last Avocet chicks were hatching at Rye Harbour and I guess there will be few left to hatch at other sites. In the Rye Bay area on June 20 there were 12 adults with 10 young at the Pannel valley, 18 adults and at least two juvs at Pett - no count from Rye Harbour but there were 14 adults there in late May. At Titchfield Haven there were at least 14 adults with young on June 23 and I will not be surprised to hear later in the year that a pair have bred at Pagham Harbour (where one pair nested in both 1996 and 1997 and attempted a nest in 2000)

Lapwing: At Havant Thicket on June 19 I was surprised to see at least three pairs still present on the Gipsies Plain grassland where apparently breeding birds have been seen since Mar 24. On this latest visit there was no sign of a family party which John Goodspeed thought was present recently but one bird of the three pairs seemed to be again sitting on a nest

Curlew Sandpiper: On June 22 Frank Foulger saw a wader on the west Hayling shore, a little south of the Oysterbeds, which he thought might be a Curlew Sandpiper. It was noticeably smaller than a nearby Oystercatcher and had a down curved bill, a white rump and a whitish supercilium. The upper plumage was described as mottled and the underparts pale. The most recent report of Curlew Sandpiper was of one at Pett Level (Rye Bay) on June 9 and 10, and last year one was at Farlington Marshes on June 17 (with a group of three at Rye Harbour on the same day). My only reservation about this sighting is that it would describe a juvenile, and that it is much too early for one to have arrived from the arctic. I suppose it could be a failed breeder that never acquired breeding plumage and I am aware that in some wader species there are odd individuals which are out of synch with the rest and wear breeding plumage in the winter and winter plumage in the summer.

Whimbrel: Three were seen at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on June 20 where they have been present since May 31

Green Sandpiper: Returning birds have been back in Hampshire since June 5 at the Lower Test and since then they have been seen at Titchfield Haven, Needs Ore and the Blashford Lakes. Latest report is of one at Farlington Marshes on June 19

Pomarine Skua: No recent sightings but this year's winner of the Selsey 'Pom King' title has just been announced as going to a newcomer (now resident in Selsey) called Justin Atkinson who saw 19 of the 37 Poms recorded as passing Selsey this spring

Black-headed Gull: One June 19 a juvenile arrived at Christchurch Harbour (probably having flown from a nest in Poole Harbour). This is the first report I have seen of one away from its nest.

Common Tern: The seven pairs nesting on the north island at the Hayling Oysterbeds lagoon escaped predation by rats but by June 23 all seven pairs had lost their chicks to predation by the Black-headed Gulls. I am not sure if the gulls actually ate the Tern chicks (and benefitted from them as the Rats did from eating the Little Tern eggs) or just destroyed them as potential threats to their own young (as Mute Swans kill ducklings). In the first case I suppose their actions are in some way 'better' than those of squabbling Arabs in the Middle East - if the killing was just out of spite or fear I suppose the bird's actions are on a par with those of humans. Both reasons for killing are perhaps higher up the human ethical scale than the treatment of tern chicks on a remote Scottish island where, several years ago, I read that the sheep on the island suffer a mineral deficiency in their diet which they attempt to rectify by searching out tern chicks in their nests and eating the legs only of the chicks leaving them still alive.

Little Tern: On June 22 the first chicks started to hatch at Rye Harbour. Last year 21 pairs raised 9 chicks there and there could be a few more this year as 53 birds were present on May 14 this year. No news of numbers nesting at Pagham spit but at the Oysterbeds it seems that only two pairs were still nesting on June 19.

Collared Dove: At Warblington farm on June 20 I disturbed a 'flock' of 20 or more birds feeding around the cow sheds and later saw a flock of nine in flight - a sign of the change from breeding behaviour when the birds are seen in pairs or families to autumn flocking.

Cuckoo: First sighting of a juvenile Cuckoo away from its foster nest came from Titchfield Haven on June 17

Woodlark: Birds were heard singing at Horsham on June 14 and at Pulborough a few days later - maybe failed breeders?

Sand Martin: Reports of one or two seen at Portland Bill on June 22 and 23 suggest that autumn passage may be starting. Mention of Sand Martins reminds me of the concern expressed earlier this year about the loss of their nest sites in Hampshire as quarries came to the end of their working life and were filled in to restore them to some other agricultural use as farming land or forestry. Until now I had the impression that this forcible restoration of habitat was an inevitable result of our strange laws but there is good news in the latest British Wildlife mag which has just arrived. The first article in it is entitled "Nature after Minerals: major role for quarries in nature conservation" and tells us that while the law requires 'restoration to a beneficial end use' as a condition for getting a licence to extract minerals that end use can be the creation of a nature reserve

Cetti's Warbler: The bird which has been singing at Warblington Farm on each census visit from Mar 27 to June 2 was not heard on my June 20 final visit.

Great Reed Warbler: The bird which arrived in the Lydd area near Dungeness on June 10 was still singing there on June 20

Melodious Warbler: The first report of one for this year that I have heard of came from Dungeness on June 20

Garden Warbler: One singing strongly in Havant Thicket on June 19 gave me another year list tick to bring my personal year list to 130 species

Red Breasted Flycatcher: First report for the year came from Portland on June 19 (no hint of red on its white breast in the photos shown on the Portland website!). On June 23 the same or another bird was again seen at the observatory.

Red-backed Shrike: Two new finds this week. On June 18 a male was seen in the Bembridge area of the IoW and on June 20 one was seen briefly at Yately Common in north Hampshire

Corvid roost: On June 22 Trevor Carpenter told us of his recent discovery of a large Corvid night roost in the Fareham area into which went at least 100 birds - mainly Jackdaws - at dusk. The location is close to Spurlings Farm by the Wallington river just north of the M27. This could well be the unknown roost site referred to in the past by watchers of birds going into the huge winter roost in the wood within the Bedenham-Frater MoD site on the shore of Portsmouth Harbour - some of the reports from there refer to birds going to another site somewhere to the north.

Serin: The first report of these since mid-May is of two birds seen at Portland on June 22

Yellowhammer: Two were singing in Havant Thicket on June 19 and on June 20 the bird which had arrived on territory at Warblington Farm on June 2 was still singing close to the farmhouse.

Vultures: On June 19 the Rye Bay website told me that flocks of up to 90 Griffon Vultures were currently being seen in the low countries (Belgium and Holland) though none have yet crossed the channel.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Brown Hawker: First of the year was reported on June 21 at Rye Harbour

Golden Ringed Dragonfly: First report for the year comes from Whiteley Pastures north of Fareham on June 17

Ruddy Darter: First report was also from Whiteley Pastures on June 17 followed by a sighting on the IoW on June 19

White Legged Damselfly: More than 15 were seen at a site (Iden moat) near Rye on June 22 - a new site for the species

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Seven reports on June 20, 21 and 22 indicate a new influx

Large White: A noticeable increase in the numbers I have seen in the Havant area this week suggests that they too are starting to invade us from the continent.

Holly Blue: The second brood does not normally appear until we are into July but the appearance of one in my garden on June 19 was the first here since May 24 (prior to which they were regular visitors) and when two (maybe three) were seen together in the garden on June 20 I had the impression that these must be the summer brood.

Purple Emperor: First of the year are said to have appeared in Surrey on June 19 and at least five were seen in Alice Holt Forest near Alton on June 20. White Admirals and Silver Washed Fritillaries remain numerous.

Painted Lady: There have been seven reports of these this week but an entry on the Sussex Butterfly Conservations website on June 19 referred to 'an enormous swarm of Painted Ladies currently to be seen on the Farne Islands'

Large Tortoiseshell: Three new reports this week all seem to have been genuine migrants. On June 20 one was seen well at Titchfield Haven, resting on a wall for a time. On June 21 another was seen at Seaford near Beachy Head, feeding on Privet flowers and on June 22 one was seen twice in a garden at Barton on sea. These are the first batch of 'normal immigrants' but they were preceeded by four very unusual sightings along the south coast between Jan 28 and Apr 6.

Comma: There have been many widespread sightings of the fresh summer insects since June 9 but only one was described as of the 'Hutchinsoni' form so it may be of interest that I saw one of these bright orange specimens resting on a leaf by the Langbrook stream here in Havant on June 22

Dark Green Fritillary: A report of 31 seen in the 'Chilgrove area' on June 20 was also posted on the Sussex website - not sure where this would be unless the observer was over in the Kingley Vale area..

Gatekeeper: So far only three reports - the first at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on June 12, the second at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 19 and the third in Brian Fellows' Emsworth garden onJune 21. They should be out in force very soon (first sightings shown in Hampshire Butterfly Reports have been June 10 in 2006, June 21 in 2005 and June 25 in 2004)

Moths

Zeiraphera isertana: First at Portland on June 19

Donacaula forficella: First at Rye Harbour on June 20

Evergestis extimalis: Also Rye Harbour on June 20

Cynaeda dentalis: This rarity (a shingle beach specialist which feeds on Vipers Bugloss) appeared at Rye Harbour on June 18

Synaphe punctalis: Another rarity at Rye Harbour on June 18

The Phoenix: First at Portland on June 19

Blue-bordered Carpet: First at Portland on June 19

Swallow-tailed Moth: First at Portland on June 19 and another on the IoW on June 20

Brown-tail: This unwelcome moth appeared at Portland on June 19

Lesser Yellow Underwing: Also first at Portland on June 19

Dot Moth: First at Portland on June 22

Other Insects

Black Colonel (Odontomyia tigrina): This rare Soldier Fly was found at Rye Harbour on June 18 but the finder had to wait until the Crab Spider which had caught it had finished sucking out its juices before it would release the specimen for close examination and identification. The spider concerned was the Common crab-spider (Xysticus cristatus)

Volucella pellucens: The first of this hoverfly species was seen on the Isle of Wight on June 16

Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus investigator): A specimen of this was found at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 18 drowned in the water trap created at the base of a pair of Teasel leaves.

Eyed Ladybird: First report of this uncommon species comes from Dungeness on June 20

Oak Bush Cricket: A bright green bush cricket nymph, probably this species, was seen in Havant Thicket on June 19

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Traveller's Joy (aka Old Man's Beard): The first flowers were seen on this in Havant on June 22

White Water Lily: This has probably been flowering for some time but I first noticed it in Havant Thicket where the trees have been cleared around the small pond in the centre of the Thicket

Welsh Poppy: This yellow flowered species was found on June 18 flowering (probably as a garden escape or wildflower seeding) in the Palmers Road copse at Brook Meadow in Emsworth - a new addition to the site list though another specimen was seen in Nore Barn wood at Emsworth last summer.

Narrow-leaved Bittercress: The plants at the north west 'corner' of the Langstone roundabout, which were in flower in mid-April and which subsequently went to seed, are re-flowering now.

Field Pennycress: On June 22 I found a big display of this (mainly already in seed) in a Grove Road house garden where building work was completed this spring and the lawn subsequently re-sown - the Pennycress has come up at the edge of the lawn.

Slender St John's Wort: Lots of this colourful and elegant species was just starting to flower in Havant Thicket on June 19

Corn Spurrey: Work connected with the widening of the A27 Langstone roundabout caused an area of grassland beside the westbound sliproad coming into Havant to be scraped clear and among the weeds now growing on the bare earth is a lot of Corn Spurrey.

Musk Mallow: The first of these lovely pink flowers could be seen on the side of Wade Lane just north of Wade Court on June 22

Bitter Vetch: I found several plants of this flowering in Havant Thicket on May 3. When I returned on June 19 the area had been mown but a few plants were newly in bud just outside the mown area. In past years there has been a great display of this plant on Blendworth Common, east of Havant Thicket, near its border with Bells Copse.

Goat's Rue: The first flowers of this had appeared in the overflow carpark at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 14 and on June 18 a lot more was flowering on the Hayling North Common where both blue and white flowered plants occur.

Field Rose: These have probably been in flower for some time but I only found my first examples (with their low arching branches and prickle-like thorns) in Havant Thicket on June 19

Great Willowherb: Although I saw a single flower of this as early as June 9 it was not until June 20 that the plants started to flower in good numbers

Pepper Saxifrage: A single plant was in flower at Havant Thicket on June 19

Bog Pimpernel: This delicate little plant was flowering profusely in the SSSI at Warblington Farm on June 20

Common Centaury: Although this was flowering at Durlston on May 11 (maybe Apr 22) and I found lots out by the A27 in Havant on June 9 it was not until June 19 that the first flowers were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds where in some past years it has been the dominant summer flower on the 'earth mound'.

Round-leaved Fluellen: Although I found some flower buds on plants in the Warblington cemetery on June 16 (and more there on June 20) I have not yet seen an open flower.

Danewort: The first flowers on the plants by the Hayling Billy Trail at the end of Grove Road in Havant were open on June 22

Heath Groundsel: This has probably been flowering for some time but I found my first examples in Havant Thicket on June 19

Golden Samphire: The first open flower was seen on the Nore Barn shore at Emsworth on June 20

Canadian Fleabane: This plant has now become a relative rarity compared to the mass of Guernsey Fleabane that has invaded the Havant area in the past few years. While the Guernsey species could be seen in flower in Jan and Feb, and had fresh flowers by May 1, it was not until June 22 that I came on a small flowering plant of Canadian Fleabane.

Mugwort: The white buds on several plants in Havant had opened to show the dark red-brown petals of the flowers by June 22

Dwarf Thistle: This was in flower at Durlston on June 23 and can probably be found now on Portsdown.

Wall Lettuce: Two plants were flowering on the old wall outside the door of Homewell House in Havant on June 22

Prickly Lettuce: One plant growing by the Havant Bus Station had buds nearly ready to open on June 22 - to see the first flowers look for them early in the morning as they usually close up by mid-morning.

Lesser Hawkbit: Lots of this was in flower on the Langstone South Moors on June 22 - this was the first time I have seen it but it must have been out for some time.

Hawkweed Oxtongue: The first report of this in flower came from the Hayling Coastal Path in the Oysterbeds area on June 23

Perennial Sow Thistle (Sonchus arvensis): This was flowering in Emsworth on June 18 and on Hayling on June 19. (Although some books call this Corn Sow Thistle I am sticking to the English name given by Stace).

Narrow-leaved Water Plantain: One plant growing by the Westbrook stream in Emsworth had started to flower on June 20

Southern Marsh Orchid: On June 17 a couple of plants were introduced to the Brook Meadow site where I hope they flourish and on on June 20 I found only 116 flowering spikes at the Warblington Farm SSSI site where numbers have dwindled year by year from a peak of 800 or so in the 1980s

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: On June 23 the Portsmouth NEWS had a page of wildlife pictures sent in by readers and pride of place was given to a superb picture of a sunlit Vixen with one of her cubs taken recently at the Langstone South Moors by Mike Collins

Fungi: Rain and warmth can produce a good crop of fungi at this time of year so I was not surprised to find a specimen of The Blusher (Amanita rubescens) in Havant Thicket on June 19 followed by some 'Yellow Cowpat toadstools' (Bolbitius vitellinus) at Warblington farm on June 20


Summary for June 11 - 17 (Week 24 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: On June 16 one flew east past Christchurch Harbour into the Solent

Balearic Shearwater: The first of this summer was off Portland on May 12 and by June 12 nine or more were with feeding gulls there. By June 15 the count was up to 16.

Gannet: A count of 590 off Portland on June 15 was the highest of the year so far.

Squacco Heron: Maybe there is more than one of these in the country at the moment but reports this week give me the impression of one very restless bird flying in over Hampshire on June 5 to be seen at the M3 Hook junction before it did an about turn to spend June 6 and 7 at Weymouth, then going east up channel to be seen at Dungeness on June 9

Mute Swan: Three successful pairs are in the news this week. One at the gravel/sand pits east of Chichester had 6 cygnets as did the pair on Swan Lake at Milton Common in Southsea while further north on Portsea Island the pair on Baffins Pond had 5 - all seen on June 15

Canada Goose: The last birds which I have seen flying were over Bedhampton on June 11. By June 15 a herd of 82 were at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth for their summer moult but maybe there are more still to fly in there as there are usually between 150 and 200 there in late June and July.

Barnacle Goose: There was only one of these at Baffins Pond on June 15 without even the hybrid goose which has been the mascot of the 'Baffins Gang' for at least the pas five years. As an reminder of the demise of this gang this is what I wrote in July 2000 ..

"In the spring of 1999 there were 42 Barnacle Geese regularly present at Baffins Pond (one or two pairs bred successfully) but in that summer, when the pond was hit by disease, 17 were found dead and the rest dispersed to Titchfield Haven and other unknown locations. Although the pond is now healthy and the Canada Geese have returned in more or less full strength (there are 142 moulting there at present - in past years there have been close on 200) the Barnacles have never returned in any great numbers but maybe that is about to change as two new ones have turned up there since last week (total now only 14)."

The count of 14 Barnacles was down to 10 in 2001 and 2002, increased to 11 in 2003, was down to 9 in 2004, 7 in 2005 and 4 in 2006. Those four were still present in May of this year so maybe they are still alive somewhere in the area.

Brent Goose: Four of the eleven Brent thought to be summering in Langstone Harbour were seen in Stoke Bay (immediately south of the Hayling Oysterbeds) on June 12. In Chichester Harbour there were 13 Brent seen on May 18 and one was seen at the mouth of the Beaulieu River on June 10 (maybe the same bird that was seen at Yarmouth (IoW) on May 2 and June 6)

Bar-headed Goose: One was with the Canada Goose flock at Titchfield Haven on June 3

Gadwall: Two females, each with 7 ducklings, were seen at the Chichester pits east of the city on June 15. Three Pochard and a pair of Ruddy Duck were with them.

Tufted Duck: The first ducklings of this species which I have heard of was a single family at Titchfield Haven on June 3

Common Scoter: A single female drifting up the Langstone Channel in Langstone Harbour on June 14 was an addition to my year list when I saw it from the Oysterbeds

Kestrel: One took an adult Little Tern from its nest at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 8 (but this predator is not thought to be the reason for the mass departure of the Terns from their nesting island)

Grey Partridge: A pair was seen in the Stansted 'Bunny Field' (the grass field at SU 756101 between Forestside Road where it passes the Saw Mill and the access road running to the Garden Centre) during the week ending June 10. A pair had been seen in the access road on June 1

Quail: Three new reports this week. One June 11 one was heard at Steep Down north of Lancing and on June 13 one was on Beachy Head and another at Christchurch Harbour

Oystercatcher: Jason Crook has found ten pairs nesting in the Oysterbeds area

Avocet: In last week’s summary I quoted the saga of Hampshire’s first Avocet chicks (in 2002) walking four or five kilometres from their nest at Hook/Warsash to the Titchfield Haven shore where they were given sanctuary and stayed until they could fly. Until now I had assumed this was unusual behaviour caused by attempted predation at Hook but this week the Rye Bay website reports the unexpected appearance of some young Avocets at one of the Pett Level pools where there had been no Avocet nexts, and also the discovery of some more chicks behind a patch of Gorse with no nests anywhere near. It may well be that Avocets, like Shelduck, often take their new hatched young on long journeys from their nest to somewhere with a good food supply.

Lapwing: These can be expected back on our harbour shores any day now. Big flocks (up to 300) were back at Rye Bay from June 3 and on June 12 the first flock of 40 appeared at Christchurch Harbour. On June 15 more than 30 were back at the Chichester east Lakes where two pairs were still defending territory. On June 16 I saw a single bird on the Warblington shore but guess this was the single bird that has been hanging around the Warblington farm throughout the breeding season.

Ruff: One was reported at the Lymington marshes on June 12

Black-tailed Godwit: 70 were at Titchfield Haven on June 9

Green Sandpiper: The first back at Titchfield Haven was seen on June 13 when another was at the mouth of the Beaulieu River. The first to be seen at the Blashford Lakes was there on June 15 but a late report tells on one or more at the Lower Test on June 5

Red-necked Phalarope: We have already reported one at the Sidlesham Ferry (Pagham Harbour) on May 29 and 30 and now one has spent most of one day (June 16) at the Pannel Valley (Rye Bay). Both were presumably adult females which have laid their eggs in the arctic and then left their male mates to provide all the child care needed to raise a family.

Med Gull: Brian Fellows quotes Chris Cockburn (Langstone Harbour RSPB warden) as saying that numbers of Med Gulls nesting on the RSPB Islands this year are well down on those of recent years though he gives no numbers. I doubt there is an overall diminution of numbers breeding in Britain but the exponential growth at a few sites in recent years may well have persauded the growing population to seek new sites (as with Little Egrets).

The only numbers I am aware of show that in Langstone Harbour 20 pairs nested in 2003, 57 pairs in 2004, 110 pairs in 2005 and 264 pairs in 2006 - could we really have expected this rate of growth to continue and give us another doubling to 520 pairs in 2007? The same trend was recorded at Rye Harbour where there were 37 pairs in 2005, 75 pairs in 2006 and 285 individual birds were present on 5 Apr 2007. At Titchfield Haven the first breeding (just one pair) took place in 2006 but this year Keith Betton tells us that 26 birds were there during May.

One clue that there may more birds breeding in the Southampton Water/West Solent area this year lies in the 'discovery' (reported by John Clark on June 10) of a large number (100+) of immature birds spending their days at a pond in a pit near a scrapyard on Badminston Common - an area of open ground close to the heavily populated Blackfield and Fawley villages near Calshot. Another place where the birds may have started breeding this year is Poole Harbour where 44 birds were present in April

Black-headed Gull: On June 12 Brian Fellows estimated that there were 27 nests on the Tern island at the Hayling Oysterbeds and it seems that these nests escaped the predation of tern nests , thought to be the work of Rats, which started on the night of June 10. So far I have seen no local reports of juvenile gulls away from their nests but by June 14 Rye Harbour was reporting that many of the young had left nests there.

Roseate Tern: Two were seen off Selsey Bill on June 14

Little Tern: When Brian Fellows did his wardening stint on June 12 he reported that the number of nests at the Hayling Oysterbeds was still around 50 and he passed on news from Chris Cockburn that the RSPB Islands have only 9 pairs nesting there.

When I visited the site on the evening of June 14 I could only see at most three Little and one Common Tern, and Mike Collins (wardening at that time) confirmed that virtually all the nesting birds had abandoned their nests.

On June 15 Jason Crook told us that he had detected a problem on June 11 when he could not find the chicks of the first brood (which had hatched on June 6), and he is almost certain that rats have once more invaded the island, eating all the eggs and chicks on the southern island during the nights of June 10 to 14.

Black Tern: Four late birds flew past Selsey Bill on June 10

Turtle Dove: At least one pair may be nesting in Stansted Forest where Michael Prior heard one purring by the Main Avenue during the week ending June 10

Swift: It seems that at least one pair may be nesting in east Havant again this year despite total absence of the birds in the first week of June. One or two have been seen almost daily since June 9

Woodlark: At least one pair may have been succesful in nesting on the Stansted estate this year - Michael Prior (Head Forester) says he has seen three birds there during the past week and believes one of them was a juvenile. A bird seen at Christchurch Harbour on June 11was presumably the first to leave its breeding area for the coast.

Great Reed Warbler: One has been heard and occasionally seen near Lydd in Kent (not far from Dungeness) from June 10 to 16 inclusive

Dartford Warbler: The birds which have been seen and heard in the mini-golf course area of Hayling Beachlands earlier this spring seem to have bred successfully - John Goodspeed has heard reports of two juveniles seen there in the week ending June 10

Lesser Whitethroat: Although the birds which may have bred locally have gone silent, with none reported since mid May (other than one on North Hayling on June 2), Brian Fellows found two on Milton Common (Portsmouth) on June 15

Red Backed Shrike: One at Rye Harbour on June 11 was the fourth report for the year but it may be the bird that was at the Pannel Valley (near Rye) on June 1. No more news of the bird seen in the Lymington area on June 9.

Jay: More than one has been seen at garden peanut feeders but one which comes to the feeder in a Wisborough Green garden in Sussex is said to be scared off by any other birds (even Tits) which also feed there. This is in contrast to the behaviour of another Jay in a Sussex garden which took a Blackbird chick from its nest and was not in the least but off by the remonstrations of both Blackbird parents.

Crow: Most people will have noticed that a small proportion of Carrion Crows have ‘white lines’ along their extended wings. Clearly some of the birds suffer (like some Blackbirds) from a problem with the pigment colouring their feathers but I believe that the apparent ’white line’ is produced by the failure of the ’cellophane wrapping’ (which surrounds the quills of all bird feathers as they emerge from the bird’s body and which normally then splits and falls off to allow the feather barbs to expand) to break. If a small length of the wrapping of each primary and secondary feather fails to break the feather barbs cannot expand and the whitish wrapping, plus the absence of the black feather barbs, gives the visual impression of a white line. It also greatly reduces the lift given by the wings.

When I was in Havant Cemetery on June 15 an adult Crow was clearly concerned by my presence and after a time I found that its concern was for a juvenile on the ground - the youngster had a lot of ‘white’ in its wings (at first I thought it was a Magpie) and was probably unable to fly because of the state of its wings.

My only direct proof that my theory does apply in some cases came many years ago when I found the corpse of an adult bird in the winter (long after it should have completed its moult) and found the ‘cellophane wrapping’ present on a short mid section of every primary and secondary feather.

Rose-coloured Starling: One was reported to have been seen with other Starlings at the Lymington marshes on June 10 (no further sightings)

Crossbill: A group of five which flew over Durlston country park on June 13 were thought to have been continental birds arriving here after their breeding season. Are we in for a Crossbill irruption?

Hawfinch: A non-birdwatcher claims to have seen a Hawfinch on their bird table at Crawley on June 10 - the description sounded good but we are not told what may have attracted it to the bird table - maybe someone had put out cherry stones?

Corn Bunting: Three (family group?) seen on Steep Down to the north of Lancing on June 11

Escapee: These often escape from cages or aviaries and their noisy calls attract attention to them as they fly around. One such flew over Langstone on June 15 but, as with escaped Budgies, they rarely survive in the wild for more than a day or so as they are easy prey to other birds including Gulls

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: The first of the summer was seen at Bentley Woods near Stockbridge on June 10 - no more reports so far

Red-veined Darter: Several were out in the Gosport Alver Valley on June 8 with more seen at Slufters Pond in the New Forest on June 13

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa): The first of the year had started to emerge at Rye Harbour on Jue 16

Small Red-eyed Damsel (Erythromma viridulum): First report for the year (and first record for the site) was at Castle Water (Rye Harbour) on June 10

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: On June 10 one was seen at Iping Common near Midhurst and on June 11 one was at Durlston but there is no evidence of a major invasion of these as there is with Painted Ladies and Red Admirals

Purple Hairstreak: First of the year was in a Christchurch garden on June 10 followed by reports from Bentley Wood and Pamber Forest on June 12, then from Horsham on June 14. and by the evening of June 15 at least a dozen were seen by Jason Crook around an Oak tree at Stoke Common (east of the Hayling Coastal Park where a pair of field gates allows access from the marshy field at the north end of the old rail line into the field north of the Oysterbeds).

White-letter Hairstreak: A second hand report said that on June 10 'they were out in Surrey' and subsequently I heard that three had been seen on that day at the IBM site in Portsmouth. On June 13 ten were seen near the R Arun north of Littlehampton and on June 15 at least one was around one of the old Elms which have so far escaped Dutch Elm disease in Brighton

Black Hairstreak: Sadly none in southern counties but they had emerged at a traditional site (Glapthorn meadows) near Oundle in Northamptonshire on June 10

White Admiral: After singles had been seen on June 3 near Winchester, and on June 6 at an IoW site, there have been 13 new reports including a count of 52 seen at the Southwater Country Park near Horsham on June 15 and at least one (maybe three) on the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on June 16.

Purple Emperor: A ‘possible’ sighting was reported at the Swanwick nature reserve on the River Hamble on June 12

Red Admiral: On June 12 these were said to be arriving in numbers from the sea at Portland

Painted Lady: On June 10 more than 30 were seen at Seaford near Beachy Head. These were also arriving at Portland on June 12 when singles were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds and the Langstone South Moors

Comma: The summer brood seems to have started to emerge on May 22 with two seen near Eastbourne but no more were reported until June 9 when two more were seen at Horsham. They really got under way on June 10 with a total of five seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth followed by seven reports from different sites since then.

Queen of Spain Fritillary: One was seen and photographed at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on June 14 (Another had been photographed in Sussex on Apr 18 this year)

Heath Fritillary: These were out in Blean Woods near Canterbury in Kent by June 10 (more than 70 on the wing by then)

Gatekeeper: First of these was seen at Magdalen Down (Winchester) on June 12

Ringlet: First of the year was flying at Bentley Wood (Stockbridge) on June 10 and by June 16 had been seen at six other sites.

Moths

Five-spot Burnet: One was reported from the Crawley area on June 12

Schoenobius gigantella: First at Rye Harbour on June 12

Nephopterix angustella: First at Rye Harbour on June 12

The Lackey: First at Portland on June 11

Small Blood-vein: First at Portland on June 9

Rosy Wave: First at Rye Harbour on June 12

Barred Straw: First at Portland on June 9

Toadflax Pug: First seen at Dungeness on June 13

Small Yellow Wave: First at Portland on June 12

Orange Moth: First of year (a female) seen in the Eastbourne area on June 16

Great Oak Beauty: First seen in the Lovedean area of Waterlooville on June 9

Barred Red: First of year and first ever for site at Rye Harbour on June 9

Striped Hawkmoth: First of these large and colourful migrants arrived on June 14 (singles at both Portland and Dungeness)

Muslin Footman: First at Portland on June 12

Four-dotted Footman: First at Barcombe near Lewes on June 10

Water Ermine: First in the Rye area on June 12

Shore Wainscot: First of this nationally scarce species at Rye Harbour on June 9

The Sycamore: First at Portland on June 9

Dark Spectacle: First at Dungeness on June 13

Oak Eggar caterpillar: One measuring 75mm was seen (presumably searching for somewhere to pupate) at Rye Harbour on June 16

Other Insects

Long-horned General (Stratiomys longicornis): This rare soldier fly (associated with brackish water near the sea) was at Rye Harbour on June 12

Long-horned Bee (Eucera longicornis): This rarity was present in numbers on the undercliff east of Hastings on June 10. The crumbling clay cliffs give it ideal nesting habitat and there is much food available in the wild flowers there.

Bombardier Beetle (Brachinus crepitans): On June 12 one was hiding under a boot belonging to Barry Yates, warden of Rye Harbour, in his house and demonstrated it's ability to fire off a cloud of smoke when Barry picked up his boot and exposed the beetle

Glow-worm: First report of one shining its lamp comes from Durlston on June 14

Harlequin Ladybird: On June 12 Brian Fellows photographed one nibbling at Jason Crook's flesh at the Hayling Oysterbeds

Nursery Tent Spider (Pisaura mirabilis): On June 12 I came across one on top of the tent it had constructed on grass at the Langstone South Moors and on June 15 one was seen guarding its nest at Brook Meadow in Emsworth

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Creeping Yellow-cress: Newly flowering outside the Ranelagh Road allotments in the Bedhampton area of Havant on June 11

Rockrose: First mention of this in flower came from Durlston country park on June 11

Hairy St John’s Wort: This was first seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 15

Lesser Sea Spurrey: This was first seen in flower on Langstone South Moors shore on June 9 but it may be of interest to know that this, like Danish Scurvygrass, probably flourishes as much along our main roads as at the seaside, thanks to the salt put on the roads each winter. On June 12 I found lots of the little mauve flowers by the roadside near the A27 Langstone roundabout

Tufted Vetch: This had been reported at Durlston on June 10 but I did not see my first in flower until June 14 (in the Hayling Oysterbeds area)

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea: The plant on the southern bund wall of the Hayling Oysterbeds lagoon was in flower on June 14

Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil: On June 12 I found one cluster of plants flowering in the Langstone South Moors orchid field

Kidney Vetch: I saw this in flower on Portsdown on June 7 failed to record it so a further sighting on Portsdown on June 15 has come up as first of the year

Goat’s Rue: This was newly in flower in the overflow carpark for the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 14

White Stonecrop: This had started to flower on old graves in both Havant and Warblington cemeteries on June 15

Enchanter’s Nightshade: First flowers seen in Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on June 16

Large Flowered Evening Primrose: One plant flowering on Portsdown on June 15 was the first of the year that I know of.

Sweet Chestnut: This late flowering tree was just opening its flowers in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on June 16

Wild Celery: This was newly flowering in the Hermitage stream at Bedhampton on June 11

Lesser Water Parsnip (Berula erecta): Just starting to flower in the Lymbourne stream at Wade Court on June 12

Fool's Water Cress: I spotted the first flowers on this at the Langstone South Moors on June 12

Vervain: The first flowers of this were seen on Milton Common in Southsea on June 15

Common Dodder: John Goodspeed found a lot of this flowering on gorse at south Hayling Beachlands on June 13

Marjoram: Just one floret had opened on plants beside the Hayling coastal path when I was at the Oysterbeds on June 14

Wood Sage: Brian Fellows found the first of this flowering in the Hollybank Woods on June 14

Hoary Plantain: This was flowering on Portsdown on June 15 as it had been on June 7 though I do not seem to have recorded it then

Harebell: My first sight of normal plants was on Portsdown on June 15 though John Goodspeed had seen both Harebell and Common Valerian last week

Heath Bedstraw: Brian Fellows saw the first example of this in flower in the Hollybank Woods on June 14

Marsh Bedstraw: One plant flowering at the South Moors on June 12

Squinancywort: First in flower at Durlston on June 11 and lots out on Portsdown on June 15

Buttonweed (Cotula coronopifolia): No more than 100 'buttons' flowering on the edge of the Hermitage stream at Bedhampton (the only place in Hampshire where this plant has established itself in the wild). I fear that we will not see it there for more than one or two more years - see Diary entry for June 11

Welted Thistle: This was flowering on Portsdown on June 15

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: On June 11 I was woken at 2am by a Fox cub yelping repeatedly on my front lawn where it had met a determined cat which would not grant it passage across the lawn

Stoat: On June 13 a family of six young Stoats were playing in Durlston country park with two Rabbits placidly nibbling close by

Terrapin: Hopefully fewer of these are being kept as pets nowadays and then dumped in the nearest pond when they grow big enough to bite off the fingers that feed them but one such monster was seen this week at Slufters Pond in the New Forest where it will continue to eat up any dragonfly larvae and any other native water life if it is left in situ (I think Terrapins live for 20 years or more).

Fungi: Lots of rain in warm summer weather should bring out a good show of fungi but all I have seen this week is one large (and too old to eat) Horse Mushroom in Havant cemetery


Summary for June 4 - 10 (Week 23 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-throated Diver: One was seen in Poole Harbour on June 4 but there is no mention of any breeding attempt!

Great Northern Diver: Still passing up channel - one seen from Selsey Bill on June 3 and two were off Christchurch Harbour on June 4

Great Crested Grebe: The appearance of three juveniles at Titchfield Haven on May 27 marked the first breeding on the reserve.

Storm Petrel: Four were still to be seen off Portland on June 3 when another three were seen from Selsey Bill

Cormorant: Passengers on a boat trip around the Needles area of the IoW coast found around 300 Cormorant and about 100 nests on the cliffs

Squacco Heron: One had been seen going to roost at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 28 and there is now a second record for the year of one flying low northeast over the M3 Hook interchange in north Hampshire on June 5. I think this latter was a different bird to the former and on June 6 and 7 the Weymouth bird was still showing well, now at Radipole.

Spoonbill: The bird which had been at Titchfield Haven in mid May was not seen after May 19 until it or another appeared there on May 31

Mute Swan: The Langstone Pond pair still had all five cygnets with them on the harbour when I passed the Royal Oak on June 4 and saw someone feeding the parents in the stream near the Mill at low tide. A pair in the Bosham channel had 8 cygnets on June 4 and another pair at Yarmouth (IoW) also had 8 cygnets on June 5. On June 7 the inexperienced pair which had built a nest of litter on the edge of the Emsworth Town Millpond hatched 2 cygnets, leaving one unhatched egg in the nest when they left it.

Brent Goose: Keith Betton's summary of birding in Hampshire during May (to be published in one of the Birding mags, tells us that 11 Brent have stayed in Langstone Harbour for the summer this year.

Ruddy Duck: A male was seen at Brading Marshes (IoW) on Mar 31. On Apr 23 two males were seen. On May 13 two males were seen fighting over a female and now on June 3 a pair has been seen there - it looks as if the Isle of Wight will get it first breeding record for this popular species this year!

Black Kite: On June 6 one was seen flying low over the Stubbington area south west of Fareham and heading towards Titchfield Haven but there have been no further reports of it from the Haven or elsewhere. This is the first Hampshire report for the year but there have been four sightings in Dorset between Apr 25 and May 22 plus one in Sussex (at Beachy Head) on Apr 29)

Osprey: Three recent reports, presumably all of young birds with no intention of breeding this year. On June 2 one flew over Ringmer near Lewes in the Sussex Ouse valley, on June 3 one was over Langstone Harbour and on June 4 one came in off the sea at Portland

Hobby: One seen over David Parker's garden at Forestside on the north edge of Stansted Forest on June 3 is just one of eight sightings reported since my summary for last week

Peregrine: I know that Peregrine are increasingly numerous nowadays but I think there may have been some unintentional mistake on Derek Hale's IoW website entry for June 4 when he was at West High Down near the Needles and lists a sighting of around 10 Peregrines including a juvenile being fed - such a number could easily be accounted for by just two families, each with four fledged young, but I have not so far heard of any young leaving their nests. Derek also states that the conditions were foggy, which would mean that all the birds were in close proximity and I would be interested to know if adult Peregrines would tolerate the close presence of a second family group.

Red-legged Partridge: One was seen in the Tournerbury area of Hayling Island on June 7

Grey Partridge: Two (maybe a pair) were seen near the Emsworth Lodge on the Stansted estate on June 1

Quail: Two recent reports bring this year's tally of reports up to 6. On June 7 at least one was heard on Steep Down above Lancing in West Sussex and on June 8 at least 3 (maybe 6 or more) were heard at a Hampshire site thought to be Martin Down near Salisbury

Common Crane: Up to two birds were regularly seen at Pulborough Brooks throughout April and in May there were two reports of two in north Sussex. Now, on June 6, we have a 'probable only' report of three heading south over Mountfield in the Hastings area.

Oystercatcher: Jason Crook reports that 8 pairs are nesting at the Hayling Oysterbeds but so far only one pair (the only one nest on the Tern Islands) has hatched two chicks from four eggs. Within two days of hatching the parents led the chicks to greater safety by swimming from the islands (which are a target for many predators) to other parts of the reserve.

Black-winged Stilt: One bird spent the day of June 4 at the Pannel Valley reserve near Rye Bay before vanishing

Avocet: Keith Betton's report on Hampshire birds in May for the birding magazine tells us that there were 'up to 30 Avocets at Titchfield Haven throughout May', a good increase on the 22 he reported there in April and a lot more than the count of 18 adults plus 7 chicks which Peter Raby saw on the Haven notice board on June 1. I do not know if Keith's figure of 30 includes chicks but it does seem a pity that we have no access to official figures on the Haven website (which is only updated about once a month in arrears and which gives no official counts of 'sensitive species'). All I know is that the very first Avocet breeding in Hampshire occurred as recently as 2002 when a couple of pairs nested at Hook/Warsash on 28 June 2002 I wrote more about this event as follows ….

"Birders in the Hamble area of the Solent shore have for several weeks kept quiet to protect two pairs of nesting Avocet from unwanted attention but I understand that we are now free to tell a part of the story of Hampshire's first recorded breeding by these birds after an extraordinary occurrence last Monday (June 24). That was the day when two parent Avocets and two chicks were seen on the shore outside the Titchfield Haven reserve and were led into the safety of the Haven by rangers (I hear they carried the chicks, making sure the parents could see them at all times as they followed across the road and into the reserve). Knowing that there had been regular sightings of Avocet at the Haven recently I assumed that the report of two chicks and six adults at the Haven which came from Mike Rafter on Tuesday meant that they had nested at the Haven, but I now understand that these youngsters had in fact come from a nest some six kilometres along the coast and must have walked or swum all the way to the Haven unaided. From what I hear it seems that at least one chick of this brood perished before arrival at the Haven (my guess would be that it was taken by a fox and the upheaval caused by that event was the trigger for the remaining birds forced march in search of safety), but I have no knowledge of what happened to a second nest in the same area".

Ringed Plover: Up to six pairs are nesting at the Hayling Oysterbeds and just one pair has so far hatched two young from a nest on the outer sea wall. Two of the other pairs are sitting on nests on the islands.

Lapwing: The return of a flock of 110 Lapwing to the Pannel Valley (Rye Bay) is a sign that we may soon expect to see a few back on local shores. By June 6 the number of Lapwing at Castle Water (Rye Harbour) was an estimated 300.

Sanderling: A few are still heading north - 15 were at Portland on June 3 and another 4 were at Hayling Oysterbeds (one in full summer plumage) on June 4

Little Stint: Keith Betton's summary for May add to my knowledge at report of two Little Stints at Lymington Marshes on May 23

Temmincks Stint: Also from Keith's summary is news of at Temmincks Stint at the mouth of the Beaulieu River on May 22 and 23

Curlew Sandpiper: One in summer plumage was at the Pett Level Pools (Rye Bay) on June 8 and 9

Black-tailed Godwit: A few are still in the west Solent area with 32 at Yarmouth (IoW) on June 6 and I suspect there are more than that in our local harbours (June max count in 2005 was 114 birds in Langstone Harbour plus 150 in Chichester Harbour) but I have seen no reports of them.

Turnstone: Two unusual inland records this week - one was at the Balshford Lakes near Ringwood on June 3 and another was at Pulborough Brooks on June 8

Laughing Gull: A summer plumaged adult was seen at Dungeness for a few moments on June 6

Black-headed Gull: On June 5 Brian Fellows counted 19 nests on the 'tern islands' at the Hayling Oysterbeds but so far only one brood of two chicks has hatched

Herring Gull: The boat trip party around the cliffs near the Needles on June 6 saw 116 Herring Gulls with 68 nests (and 11 Great Blackbacks with 4 nests)

Kittiwake: At least 32 nests on the cliffs of Durlston Head in Dorset were occupied on June 4 with another 12 'possible nests'

Common Tern: 13 nests could be seen on the Hayling Oysterbeds 'Tern islands' on June 5 but no chicks have yet hatched

Little Tern: 50 nests were occupied at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 5 with up to 60 pairs present in the area. The first pair started sitting in mid-May and the first hatching could occur on June 7. On June 8 Ivan Lang (Pagham Harbour warden) published a plea for people to keep away from the Pagham spit shingle where Little Terns have returned to nest after an absence of 11 years

Guillemots: The IoW birders boat trip on June 6 saw an estimate 420 Guillemot on the cliffs near the Needles and Kris Gillam adds that this is the highest count for the IoW for 40 years (though the count in 1937 was of around 3000 birds)

Razorbill: Just one Razorbill and no Puffins were seen at the Needles on June 6 - the 1937 count of Razorbills was 1000 with 'several hundred' Puffins

Turtle Dove: Two were 'purring' at Marlpit Lane near Funtington on June 7

Ring-necked Parakeet: On June 2 one was seen in the Titchfield Haven area with another sighting that day in Southampton. Since then one has been seen at Sway (near New Milton) on June 7 and these records provoked news of an earlier sighting in the Keyhaven area on Apr 14

Cuckoo: On June 8 one was calling at Warblington Castle (only the second time I have heard one there this year - normally they are heard on each visit to the farm after they have arrived) and on June 9 one was heard from a house in the centre of Emsworth.

Little Owl: One was seen on June 4 somewhere along Cot Lane (the western of the two roads serving Chidham village and the road used to access the Old House at Home pub in the village)

Swift: A group of 14 over east Havant on the evening of June 8 and 10 birds over Emsworth on the following evening may have been the same birds unattached to either site.

Alpine Swift: Keith Betton's summary of Hampshire birds in May includes the only report of an Alpine Swift that I am aware of anywhere on the south coast this year - one was seen flying north over the Lower Test at Southampton on May 11

Bee Eater: One made a very brief visit to Dungeness on May 27 (Keith Betton has a report of one at Greatham in east Hampshire on May 18)

Red-rumped Swallow: One was seen with Swifts over Ventnor Downs (IoW) on June 2. This is the eighth report of this species that I have seen this year and the third for the Isle of Wight this year

House Martin: On June 4 I saw several around the Norfolk Crescent building on the Hayling seafront near the Beachlands Centre - it seems they are still nesting there.

Meadow Pipit: One was making repeated song flights over the Langstone South Moors on June 9

Nightingale: These rarely sing after the end of May but one was still singing at the Marlpit Lane site near Funtington on June 7

Stonechat: On June 4 families with juveniles were away from their nests on the IoW and at Durlston, and at the latter site the parents were not only caring for their first brood of young but also carrying material for a second nest.

Song Thrush: I have a strong impression that there are more Song Thrushes about in the Havant area this spring than in any recent year and on June 5 the Christchurch Harbour website voices the same opinion

Sedge Warbler: When in my Havant garden on June 10 I was surprised to hear a Sedge Warbler singing from trees along the Hayling Billy trail - I think this is my first garden record in the 40 years I have lived here.

Marsh Warbler: One has been seen and heard well at Sandown on the IoW from June 2 to at least June 5 (see photo on Kris Gillam's website) and on June 4 a different bird was at Abbotsbury in Dorset.

Firecrest: An SOS birding party visiting the West Dean Woods (north of Chichester) on June 3 found 'several' Firecrests as well as Goldcrests

Spotted Flycatcher: These are still arriving with a count of 17 new in at Portland on June 4 and another 5 at Christchurch Harbour that day (one of these narrowly escaping the clutches of a Hobby).

Long-tailed Tit: A party of 13 birds moved through my garden on June 10 - if they were all one family that was good going but families do tend to join together into quite big 'flocks'

Golden Oriole: One was again seen at Portland on June 8

Red-backed Shrike: The first to be reported this year was a male which spent June 1 at the Pannel Valley (Rye Bay). Since then there has been one near Wareham in Dorset on June 6 and maybe the same bird in the Lymington Marshes area on June 9

Common Rosefinch: One was at Portland on June 6 and sang briefly

Yellowhammer: These are normally late breeders and it seems that the birds are only now appearing in our local area to claim territories. On June 3 one was heard near Fishbourne church (Chichester) and on June 4 I heard two signing males and one calling bird at separate sites along the Hayling Coastal Path.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Four-spotted Chaser?: A dragonfly seen in a Havant West St garden on June 3 was confidently reported as being a female Scarce Chaser but I think this unlikely (though anything is possible) as the Scarce Chaser really is 'scarce' and the nearest known colonies occur on the River Arun to the east and the River Avon to the west. Identification of dragonflies is often difficult and may involve keen eyesight to spot small markings on just one segment of the body, while all species take a few days after emergence to acquire their full colour and in old age they can change colour dramatically. I suggest that this insect in Havant may have been a Four-spotted Chaser or possibly the black markings towards the tip of the abdomen may have indicated the much commoner Black-tailed Skimmer.

Common Darter: The first of these to emerge were seen at Rye Harbour on June 9

Butterflies

Silver Studded Blue: The first had been seen on Stedham Common near Midhurst on May 29 and we now have a second report of 12 seen at Silchester Common (north of Basingstoke) on June 3 with a further sighting at Beaulieu Heath on June 6

White Admiral: Two very early reports - one was seen well in woods at Micheldever near Winchester on June 3 and on June 6 some 'people from Cumbria' visiting the Isle of Wight saw one at Ningwood (south of the Newport to Yarmouth road)

Painted Lady: Further proof of a migrant invasion comes in the form of 21 sightings for June 1 to 9 inclusive. On June 5 more than 12 were seen at Portland with many newly arrived Red Admirals

Small Tortoiseshell: 14 reports from June 1 to 9 indicates the emergence of the summer brood on which next year's population is dependent. Numbers were generally low but on June 9 there were counts of 5 at Levin Down in the Midhurst area and 8 at Horsham

Comma: After only one report during May (on May 22) a couple of Commas at Horsham on June 9 were probably the first of the summer brood.

Dark Green Fritillary: The very early sighting of one at Old Winchester Hill on May 29 has now been followed by two new sightings. One was elsewhere in the Meon Valley on June 2 and the other was at Stockbridge Down on June 3. June 8 saw reports of two more singles at Cissbury Ring (north of Worthing) and Ovingdean (east of Brighton)

Marbled White: After the first two singles appeared on June 1 the main emergence seems to have occurred on June 6 with 9 seen at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) and 'lots' on Portsdown

Moths

Nemophora degeerella (Longhorn moth): Back in mid April I thought the Longhorn moths which I saw then in Stansted Forest were of this species but I have now checked Mike Wall's Hantsmoths website which shows that this one is only seen in May and June so my sighting was probably of Adela Reaumurella. June 9 brought this year's first genuine report of Nemophora degeerella.

Six Spot Burnet: Following Brian Fellows sighting of one on Portsdown on June 1 I found three or four flying around the north pier of the old railway bridge at Langstone on June 6. In checking that these were 6 and not 5 Spot Burnets I discovered that 5 Spot Burnets are now rare in Hampshire and are very unlikely to be seen anywhere other than at Martin Down though they are still present on the IoW.

Lozotaeniodes formosanus: First seen at Portland on June 7

Green Oak Tortrix: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3 and another was trapped at Portland on June 4.

Chrysoteuchia culmella: First seen at Horsham on June 9.

Small Magpie: The first was in a Haywards Heath garden on June 4

Bee Moth: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3 and another was trapped at the Pannel Valley on June 5

White Plume Moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla): First of the year seen in my garden on June 8

Blotched Emerald: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3

Common Emerald: First at Portland on June 8

Least Carpet: First at Portland on June 8

Riband Wave: First at Portland on June 6

Freyer's Pug: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3

Chimney Sweeper: First seen (by day) in the Ashford Hill area of north Hampshire on June 1

Yellow-barred Brindle: First trapped on Portland on June 5

Privet Hawkmoth: First taken at the Pannel Valley near Hastings on June 5

The Vapourer: First seen at Chesworth Farm, Horsham, on June 3

Red-necked Footman: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3

Clouded Buff: First recorded at Silchester Common north of Basingstoke on June 3

Kent Black Arches: First at Portland on June 8

Short-cloaked Moth: Also first at Portland on June 8

Crescent Dart: First report from Portland on June 4

The Flame: First was at Pannel Valley on June 5

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing: First at Portland on June 5

The Campion: First at Portland on June 3

Varied Coronet: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3

Brown Rustic: First at Portland on June 6

Small Angle Shades: The first was trapped 'somewhere in Sussex' on June 3

Silky Wainscot: Previously recorded first at Pagham Harbour on May 22 but one was taken at Titchfield Haven on May 18

Bordered Sallow: First at Portland on June 3

Marbled White-spot: First at Portland on June 7

Beautiful Golden Y: First at Rusper (Crawley) on June 8

Small Fan-foot: First at Portland on June 6

Cream Bordered Green Pea: Previously recorded first at Rye Harbour on May 23 but one was taken at Titchfield Haven on May 18

Caterpillar: Rye Harbour website on June 6 reported the first of the well known and colourful Mullein Moth caterpillars for this year - the web entry adds to my knowledge with the fact that when these pupate they do so in an underground coccoon and can remain underground for up to four years before emerging

Other Insects

Hornet: A couple more reports - two seen at Haywards Heath on June 6 and one in the old section of Redlands Lane in north Emsworth on June 8.

Stag Beetle: On June 8 I found the head and antlers of a male Stag Beetle on my lawn - the body had presumably been eaten by (maybe) a Magpie. On May 18 a large emergence of these beetles at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton included 5 half eaten corpses.

Great Green Bush Cricket: First report for the year comes from the Culver Down area of the Isle of Wight on June 8

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Greater Celandine: Anyone shopping at Waitrose in Havant should be able to look across North Street and see a display of Greater Celandine along the edge of the Meridian Centre delivery road on the south of the Wilkinson store. They say this plant grows 'near buildings' but this is ridiculous (the plants may of course have been 'weeded out' by the time you look for them).

Hairy Rockcress (Arabis hirsuta): John Goodspeed found plenty of this in flower on Portsdown on June 6

Nottingham Catchfly: John Goodspeed found this starting to flower on May 16 in the Gunner Point area of Sinah Common on south Hayling and on June 9 he commented that there were more plants at this site than in recent years

Sea Mouse-Ear: Probably out for some time but I found my first specimen on Sinah Common, Hayling, on June 4

Greater Sea-Spurrey: First flowering was on the Emsworth shore on May 31 but this slipped through my net and I was only reminded of it by finding more of the plant flowering at Langstone on June 4

Lesser Sea Spurrey: First report of this from the Langstone South Moors shore on June 9

Restharrow: One plant flowering under railings at the north end of Langstone Bridge (east side) on June 4

Tufted Vetch: This was flowering at Durlston country park on June 10 - I was hoping to see this at Broadmarsh on June 9 but found that mowers had completely destroyed all the vegetation on both sides of the cycleway running below the A27.

Meadow Vetchling: First for the year found flowering at the Langstone South Moors on June 9 with Durlston country park reporting it on June 10

Hairy Vetchling (Lathyrus hirsutus): On 9 July 2002 I found this species at Broadmarsh in Havant and discovered that there had only been two previous Hampshire records - one at Crampmoor on the eastern fringe of Romsey in 1942 and the other at Chilbolton near the River Test north of Stockbridge in 1968. I also discovered that the nearest known current site for the species was on the Essex Marshes. Since then the plants have appeared each year and this year the show seems better and more widespread than ever when I found them on June 9. The origin of the Broadmarsh plants is unknown but they probably arrived with soil used to cap the high mountain of rubbish sometime in the 1980s (I think) so the plants here may have been established for some 25 years.

Lucerne: The first report of this in flower comes from the Fort Cumberland area of Eastney (Portsmouth) on June 6

Agrimony: Single plant starting to flower by the Hayling Coastal path on June 4

Meadowsweet: The first in flower this year was at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 7

English Stonecrop: Just starting to flower on Sinah Common, Hayling, on June 4

Great Willowherb: Just one flower was open here in Havant on June 9

Square-stalked Willowherb: First flowers seen in my Havant garden on June 4

Knotted Hedge Parsley: I found flowers on this at the Southmoor Lane in Havant back on May 12 but the plant was not reported at Durlston country park until June 6. On June 9 it was also found (to my delight) near the newish kissing gate as you leave the Langstone South Moors to enter Mill Lane, a spot where I have seen it in the past. Quite a few years ago the plant was moderately plentiful along the bank of the Langbrook stream south of Mill Lane but this site was 'eliminated' by English Nature when they took the opportunity of the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak to fence off the South Moors so that walkers on the path beside the stream could not mingle with cattle on the moors - this also meant that the cattle could not graze the banks of the stream and the Hedge Parsley was soon lost in long grass though some was left around the site where it has just been refound. This appeared to have been lost in the installation of the kissing gate, and its recovery is why I am so pleased.

Rough Chervil: Durlston country park is the first to report the flowering of this second generation of Cow Parsley type umbellifers on June 6

Fool's Parsley: Brian Fellows found the first example of this in flower in Emsworth on June 4. This plant comes in two distinct subspecies - Arethusa cynapium cynapium is a large plant which can grow to 1 metre tall and is said to be the commoner plant while A. c. agrestis is (as its name implies) normally found in arable fields and does not grow more than 20 cm tall. Except for the size both look very similar though Stace says they can be distinguished by comparing the length of the 'beard like' bracteoles to the length of the pedicels which support the 'partial umbels' - with agrestis they are the same length while with cynapium the pedicel can be twice as long as a bracteole. Using this feature the photo of the plant which Brian found shows it to be the commoner subspecies A. c. cynapium

Water Pepper: This had started flowering in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on June 8

Redshank: This was also in flower at the Hollybank Woods on June 8

Pale Persicaria: On June 4 Brian Fellows confirmed that the plants he had found in Emsworth on May 30 had the glands on the flower pedicels to prove they were Pale Persicaria and not Redshank

Lax Sea Lavender: I found the first flowers of this on June 8 at Langstone where a new cluster of the plants has appeared just below the edge of the sea wall path east of the Mill building (immediately opposite the Dog shit bin close to the main duck feeding point)

Common Centaury: This has been reported flowering at Durlston country park since May 11 but I did not see my first until June 9 when there was plenty of it on the banks of the A27 near to Broadmarsh

Sea Bindweed: The lovely flowers of this plant were putting on a good show on the Sinah Common shore of Hayling Island on June 4 (and on the Eastney shore of Portsmouth on June 6)

Cock's Eggs: This had started to flower on Sinah Common (Hayling) on May 11 but by June 4 it was much was much easier to spot the flowers and on June 9 John Goodspeed saw a 'good show' there

Common Toadflax: The first flowers of this were to be seen by the Hayling Coastal Path on June 4

Black Horehound: One plant was starting to flower near the Hayling Oysterbeds car park on June 4

Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis): This was flowering near the Beachlands skatepark on June 4 (and can probably also be seen at the entrance to the Hayling Island Sailing Club at Black Point). Apologies for a mental aberration causing me to call this Alkanet in my Diary entry for June 4 (now corrected).

Buddleia davidii: I found the first bush with open flowers in Havant on June 8

Harebell: A form of Harebell (maybe an escaped garden plant) with upward pointing, larger than normal, flowers, which has appeared in the Fort Cumberland area of Eastney (Portsmouth) for several years, was flowering on June 6

Sheep's Bit: This was also in flower on Sinah Common on June 4

Danewort or Dwarf Elder: This local rarity which grows by the Hayling Billy Line at the end of Grove Road in Havant had started to form flower buds on June 4. While it is not a national rarity and has large plants growing in profusion where it does occur there are gaps of many miles between the few sites where it is found (not more than 30 in the whole of Hampshire).

Hedge Bedstraw: Buds were looking as if they were about to open in several places on June 4

Ladies Bedstraw: This was also very close to flowering on south Hayling on June 4 and was out at Durlston on June 10

Silver Ragwort: Plants were found flowering on the Eastney beach at Portsmouth on June 6

Fleabane: A single early plant had flowers in Havant on June 9

Golden Samphire: The flowers of this were not fully open but were already showing as yellow discs on June 9

Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula): Flowering (and stinking) on fields at Chidham on May 29

Sea Wormwood: I find it impossible to tell when this plant is in flower but by June 9 it had started to put up to silver-grey fingers on which those flowers will appear.

Stinking Iris: While the red berries of this plant can be seen almost throughout the year it is in flower for a very brief period but was out at several places on Hayling Island on June 4

Fragrant, Musk and Frog orchids were all in flower at Noar Hill on June 6 in addition to other species already reported

Greater Butterfly Orchid: A few were flowering in West Dean Woods (north of Chichester) on June 3

Southern Marsh Orchid: The Havant Wildlife Group made their annual count of the flowering spikes at the Langstone South Moors site on June 9 getting a low count of 1367 (past counts have reached 8000)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Sika Deer: The 'unwelcome' arrival of one at Durlston country park on June 3 set me on a search for info about the distribution of these deer and Google gave me all I needed at www.deer-uk.com/sika.htm This tells me that, while they have escaped from numerous parks and zoos throughout the British Isles and can be found flourishing in Scotland and Ireland, in England feral Sika are only numerous in south-east Dorset and the southern New Forest where they have been present as escapes since around 1900. The New Forest herd had become so prolific by 193o that regular culling has been necessary ever since. In Dorset the deer released on Brownsea Island in 1896 swam ashore on their first night on the island and another herd introduced to a park near Wareham in 1895 were all turned loose during the second World War when the government took over the Hyde House estate. It seems that they are sufficiently widespread problem for one firm to advertise their culling services with a dedicated website advertising themselves as 'The Sika Deer Unit'

Fungi: Not much to be seen in this dry weather but on June 9 I was impressed by a cluster of extra large fresh Egghead Mottlegill (Panaeolus semiovatus) fungi growing on horse droppings atop the Broadmarsh mountain.


Summary for May 28 - June 3 (Week 22 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Balearic Shearwater: Sightings of this species are starting to become frequent along the coast. The first was seen off Portland on May 12 but there were no more reports until one was seen off Worthing on May 29 followed by a single off Portland on May 31 and four seen there on June 1

Storm Petrel: These have been seen almost daily since May 7 this year, the latest report being of 10 or more off Christchurch Harbour on May 28. Since that date there have been twelve more reports from May 30 to June 2, mostly of ones and twos seen from the shore but on June 1 someone out in a boat in Lyme Bay off the west Dorset coast has reported seeing more than 100. It seems very unusual that we are seeing so many in the channel after the gales have ceased and the sea has become flat calm. I now have records of 38 reports all between May 7 and June 2.

Squacco Heron: First report for the year comes from Lodmoor at Weymouth where one was seen on May 28 and thought to have stayed the night in reeds there.

Cattle Egret: Three turned up at Lewes Brooks on May 29, probably a different party to the single bird seen at Pulborough Brooks on May 26

Little Egret: At high tide on May 29 a group of 11Egrets were in the pony field immediately north of Langstone Pond. These were probably a group that has very recently returned to the Langstone area as I have not noticed a group together there in day time for several months, and they were distinctive in that most if not all had prominent breeding plumes which I have not noticed before on the local birds. On June 1 I went to Langstone in the evening and counted 18 birds coming to roost.

Purple Heron: One was reported to have been seen at Hastings country park on June 2

Mute Swan: On May 29 the pair of Swans on Langstone Pond had five new cygnets with them. Later that day I was puzzled to see a single adult with a single small cygnet on the Thorney Little Deeps (from which the pair which regularly nest there have taken this year's brood of five cygnets across the harbour to the Emsworth west shore). Back at Langstone Pond on June 1 I found the Swan family had left but the pair with all five cygnets could be seen in the harbour where the young are much safer from predation by Foxes (and where they probably have a better supply of weed for food).

Black Swan: All seven of these were on West Ashling pond on June 2, seen by Brian Fellows - if the two birds that he say in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour on May 18 had come from here they have now returned.

Canada Goose: On the evening of June 1 and the early morning of June 2 I saw a party of seven Canada Geese flying low east over the Langstone-Warblington area (can't say if they were the same birds) but the fact that they were flying reminds me that within the next month all Canada Geese will become flightless during their summer moult. It also suggests that the birds will now want to make sure they are in a good place to remain safe and have sufficient food to last through the month long flightless period and maybe these flights were of birds heading for the Thorney Deeps for those reasons.

Shelduck: Shelduck families with ducklings have been reported since May 7 and they have been seen in Langstone Harbour since at least May 20 but the first to be reported on the water of Chichester Harbour between north Hayling and Warblington were on the water of Sweare Deep off Northney on June 2 - a family of seven seen with both parents by the Havant Wildlife Group who were exploring North Common. There may well be others to come as I saw two Shelduck near the Langstone Wadeway that same morning, and one of the pairs at Budds Farm pools may have already hatched their young.

Gadwall: A pair at Titchfield Haven had 12 ducklings with them on May 25 - these ducklings were under attack from Shelduck and were potential targets for other residents at this crowded site so there are probably fewer of them by now

Pochard; A few pairs breed in Hampshire each year with five reports of breeding recorded in 2005 (at Alresford Pond and at four locations in the Test Valley). This year the first brood has been reported from the Timsbury area of the Test but the reason for the report was that one of the three ducklings showed signs of being a Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid.

Goldeneye: A female on the sea off Christchurch Harbour on May 28 was a surprise at this time of year.

Honey Buzzard: Singles came in off the sea at Portland on both May 28 and June 1 (some excellent photos on the Portland website with the May 28 report) and a third arrival was reported from the Hastings area on June 2

Hobby: I was amused to read of one using a picnic table at Christchurch Harbour as a perch on which to enjoy eating its prey on May 28

Quail: So far no evidence that this will be a Quail year - I have only seen four reports with the latest being of 2 birds calling at Tarrant Rushton (near Blandford in Dorset) on May 30

Avocet: Peter Raby went to Titchfield Haven on June 1 and saw a count of 18 Avocet listed on the notice board but he personally saw only 13 adults with a total of 7 chicks

Lapwing: On four occasions when I have visited Havant Thicket between Mar 24 to May 3 I have seen 6 Lapwing apparently on territory in the open grassland of the Gipsies Plain south of the Thicket. These have all been individual birds well spaced out on what I assumed to be breeding territories. More recently John Goodspeed led a walk to see Nightjar and Woodcock in the Thicket on the evening of May 30 and he reports a sighting of five Lapwing looking like a family group.

Green Sandpiper: These were being reported regularly up to the end of April with a final spring passage report from Abbotsbury in Dorset on May 4. Now, on June 1, one arrived at Rye Harbour and appears in a list of birds considered to be returning birds, i.e. the start of 'autumn passage'. The Rye Bay website for June 1 includes the following .. "At Castle Water today there were several waders that may be on their return migration already, 30 Lapwing, 14 Curlew, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper". As early as May 21 the Christchurch Harbour website mentioned .. "early returning Curlew feeding inside the harbour".

Red-necked Phalarope: One was seen at Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) on May 29 - presumably a female which has already laid her eggs somewhere in the Arctic and is now off on her summer holiday leaving her mate to do all the work of raising a family unaided. This bird was still present at dusk on May 30 but has not been reported since.

Sandwich Tern: The first report of chicks comes from Rye Harbour on June 1

Common Tern: Brian Fellows saw 14 at the Oysterbeds on May 29, worryingly 12 of them were on the southern island which has so far had no competition for the Little Terns nesting there

Little Tern: 56 were on the southern island at the Oysterbeds on May 29. For more information on the progress of the Terns at the Oysterbeds site go to http://www.natureandpictures.co.uk/articles.htm where Jason Crook has written a preliminary article about the Little Terns (this is preceded by an introduction written by Ian Julian) and it is intended that Jason will add an update at least once a fortnight during the breeding season.

Black Tern: These were still moving east on May 30 when two were seen at Titchfield Haven - maybe the same two which were at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on May 28

Puffin: Two were seen off the Purbeck coast of Dorset on June 2 but visitors have little chance of seeing them - this sighting was the eighth report from the Dorset coast since the first were seen on Mar 11 and the highest number seen there was just 3 birds on Apr 29. Of course you can strike lucky as Simon Ingram did when he saw two off Hurst Spit in the west Solent but that was the only non-Dorset sighting I know off this year! Prior to that the most recent Hampshire sighting was of two birds seen by Jason Crook from Sandy Point on Hayling Island on 25 Apr 2003 and before that you have to go back to 2000 when three dead or dying individuals were washed up on Hampshire shores, and to 1998 when two healthy birds were seen (again from Hurst beach), one in May and one in November

Turtle Dove: Birds have been heard 'purring' recently in the Farm Lane area of Nutbourne on May 29 and 31, and at Marlpit Lane near Funtington on June 2 (both sites are not far east of Emsworth). These late arriving migrants have presumably only now arrived to settle locally

Barn Owl: Bill Oddie has reminded watchers of the current Springwatch TV programme that Barn Owls normally refuse to hunt in the rain and John Eyre tells us of one which did go out in the rain and was found in such a saturated state after the heavy rain on Bank Holiday Monday that it could be picked up and taken to a Bird rescue centre - that bird may have survived but it was probably only out because of pressure to feed its young and I suspect the young will not have survived.

Little Owl: During their breeding season Little Owls are very difficult to see (or so we have found over the years of monitoring the birds on Warblington Farm) but sometime in June of most years they suddenly become easy to spot perched in prominent place such as telegraph poles in full daylight. Maybe that time has come early for one pair on south Hayling near Tournerbury Wood where, in the early evening of May 26, one sat openly on a fence post for two hours.

Nightjar: At least one was heard in Havant Thicket on May 30

Swift: From May 27 to 29 thousands of Swifts seem to have been pouring into England from the south with a peak count of 2000 around Swanage in Dorset on May 28. Normally Swifts vanish when bad weather comes but this time they seem to have headed into the heavy rain of our Bank Holiday and Bob Chapman describes how they were hunting for flies around the Blashford Lakes, not so much over the water but flying under the canopy of trees to get out of the worst of the rain. John Eyre adds that at least one Swift became so waterlogged that it was grounded and had to be rescued by a human. Going back to the birds at Swanage David Taylor subsequently added to the bare count of 2000 birds, telling us that .. "there was a huge gathering of 2000 Swift low over Swanage with some then roosting in tight groups on the faces of buildings and a couple even being picked up of the ground" .. giving a different picture than that of thousands of Swifts happily screaming overhead. Here in Havant a group of up to seven Swifts were seen on most evenings from May 10 to 24 but none have been seen since.

Wood Lark: Still on the subject of the rain John Eyre's main comment was that in one of several Wood Lark nests which he has been monitoring this year all four chicks died of the cold and wet while at least one chick died in another nest. Bob Chapman added to this the thought of what is bound to have happened to many Reed Warbler and Bearded Tit nests - any eggs or chicks that did not succumb to the cold and wet are likely to have been thrown out of the nests by the excessive swaying of the reeds in the strong wind.

Skylark: At Warblington Farm on June 2 I not only heard two separate singing birds over the wheat fields but also saw a group of three birds flying together and not singing - just possibly this was a family group and I have given some supporting evidence for the possibility of their breeding success in my diary entry for June 2

Swallow: On May 31, following the dreadful cold rain and wind of May 28, a birder visited nine nests in the Lewes area and found all the young which had been in them were dead - I suspect this same sad tale was repeated in many other places.

Red-rumped Swallow: One was seen closely for about 20 minutes on May 28 near the Ferry Pool at Pagham Harbour - it was seen perched with other Swallows and in flight.

House Martin: An estimated 1000 House Martins were feeding over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on May 27 but on June 2 one local site at Northney on Hayling Island, where several pairs have nested each year up to now, only one bird was seen with no evidence that any were nesting.

Wheatear: Nowadays very few still nest in southern counties but a few do so and I was reminded of this by the inclusion of Wheatear in a list of species that currently have chicks at Rye Harbour. The suggestion that a bird seen on Portsdown on May 22 might have been thinking of nesting there is possible but unlikely, though the clearance of scrub in recent years makes it slightly more likely that they will once again nest on the hill.

Yellowhammer: Last year one pair appeared to breed on the Warblington farm and this year a male was heard singing there on Mar 27 but there was no sign of its presence after that until I heard one singing again in June 2 - probably a bird that has failed to breed elsewhere and is unlikely to do so now.

Reed Bunting: One was singing at Langstone Pond on May 29 - the first I have heard of there this year - and it was still present on June 1

Corn Bunting: One has been reported singing from wires above Cot Lane at Chidham (the western of the two roads serving the Cobnor penninsula) on both May 26 and 31.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Emperor: First mention of this species came on May 28 from Rye Harbour and on June 2 I saw one over the Warblington Farm cress beds showing the distinctive down curled tip to its abdomen in flight

Black-tailed Skimmer: This also gets its first mention from the Rye Bay website which said on June 2 that several had emerged at Castle Water in the preceding few days

Red Veined Darter: The first was seen at Dungeness on May 23 and on June 2 Paul Winter almost certainly saw a couple at Keyhaven

Butterflies

Small Skipper: Although one had been reported from Surrey as early as May 1 I think this may have been a mis-identification of a Large Skipper but a report from the Haywards Heath area of Sussex on May 31 probably was the first of the year

Essex Skipper: The first sighting of Essex Skipper this year was reported from the Isle of Wight on May 26, around five weeks earlier than the date for their emergence shown in Jeremy Thomas' RSNC Guide to Butterflies (published in 1986). This discrepancy sent me to check first dates given in the Hampshire Butterfly Reports for the past few years and here I found the following dates - 2000=June 16, 2002=June 26, 2003=June 20, 2004=June 20, 2005=June 16, 2006=June 11

Lulworth Skipper: While on the subject of early emergence I have already reported in my summary for May 14-20 Adrian Hoskins' very early sighting of a Lulworth Skipper on May 18 when he was visiting Ballard Down and if you want to know more about this he tells us he has put photos and more info on his website - www.learnaboutbutterflies.com Jeremy Thomas gives the very end of June as the earliest time to see this species which he does not really expect to find until August. Early emergence this year is supported by a first sighting at Durlston country park on June 2

Large Skipper: Jeremy Thomas indicates that this normally emerges in mid-June but may be seen at the start of that month. This year the first was seen on May 16 with others at separate sites on May 17 and 19 and this is not so out of line with recent years (in 2000 the first was seen on May 8). Since May 23 there have been seven reports so they are now being seen almost daily.

Small Blue: This species was also out early - first seen on the IoW on Apr 21 against Jeremy Thomas' earliest date of mid May - but my comment on this species is that it is not only out early but doing very well with 56 seen in Paulsgrove chalk pit at Portsmouth on May 24 and an estimated 70 seen at Martin Down on May 26

Painted Lady: After nine isolated sightings between mid-March and the end of April it seems that a small scale migrant invasion started on May 22 giving eight more sightings at a wide variety of coastal sites between then and June 2

Small Tortoiseshell: Reports of 'very fresh' individuals seen on May 23, 25 and 31 show that this year's first brood has now started to emerge. Of the nine reports since May 22 one was of a single fresh specimen on North Common, Hayling Island, on June 2. Sadly only one of these nine reports indicates a mass emergence and that was of just 6 individuals seen at the Testwood Lakes (Southampton) on May 31

Dark Green Fritillary: These typically start to emerge in mid-June but last year the first was out in Hampshire on June 7 while this year one was flying at Old Winchester Hill on May 29

Marbled White: This is another species which typically emerges in mid June (Hampshire firsts have been June 15 in 2006 and June 14 in 2005) so two sightings this year on June 1 (Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester and Portsdown) were exceptionally early

Meadow Brown: One was seen at Testwood Lakes (Sotuhampton) on May 31 and that was followed by sightings on four sites on June 1 with another two sites recording them on June 2 (one of these was Warblington Farm)

Moths

The Forester: First seen in the Chilbolton area near Andover on May 23. On May 26 Odiham Common had 53 of them

Six-spot Burnet: The first of these was seen on Portsdown by Brian Fellows on June 1

Currant Clearwing: First report from the New Milton area on May 26

Garden Pebble: First report is from Rye Harbour on June 2

Evergestis limbata: First report of this migrant from the Worthing area on May 25

Rush Veneer: First report from Horsham on May 30

The Drinker: First at Portland on May 31

Peach Blossom: First at Portland on June 1 with another at Rye Harbour on June 2

Figure of Eighty: Also first trapped at Worthing (Findon) on May 25

Barred Yellow: First at Rusper (Crawley) on May 30

Scallop Shell: First at Portland on May 30

Grass Rivulet: Durlston country park is the first to report this with 'many in the meadows' on June 1

Common Footman: First at Portland on May 31

The Delicate: Portland had the first of year on May 27

Light Arches: First at Rye Harbour on June 2

Green Silver-lines: May 30 brought two firsts to Sam Bayley both at his Rusper (Crawley) home and at his Warnham nature reserve at Horsham

Other Insects

Stag Beetle: I have already reported the first emergence (at Totton, Southampton, on May 18) and this has been followed by three separate reports from the Havant area all on or around May 23 - a male and a female were seen in Orchard Road in Havant, others were seen in Langstone on or about that date, and a group emerged in Northney on Hayling Island also on May 23 - of five seen by the road through the village a pair were already coupled.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Bladder Campion: First sighting of this downland species by Brian Fellows on Portsdown on June 1

Greater Sea-Spurrey: This was found in flower on May 31 at Nore Barn saltings on the Emsworth west shore

Procumbent Pearlwort: May 28 was the first date on which I noticed this in flower

French Cranesbill: This pink flowered garden escape was in flower by the Slipper Mill pond at Emsworth on May 29

Dyers Greenweed: This was just starting to flower at Thornham Point and on the shore of Nutbourne Bay on May 29

Strawberry Clover: This was first seen in flower at North Common on Hayling Island on June 2

Lesser Trefoil: In flower at Thornham Point on May 29

Subterranean Clover: I had seen this flowering at Warblington Farm back on Apr 25 and only mention a find of it on June 2 (at North Common, Hayling Island) in connection with a remark said to have been made on that occasion implying that the plant gets its name because it 'opens its flowers underground'. As I only heard this at second hand there may well have been a misunderstanding along the way to me but the remark caused me to check info about the plant on the web where I learnt two things.

The first is that the flowering stems of this plant can burrow through the ground, and it sometimes produces imperfect flowers without petals, but I can find no evidence that the flowers open underground. What leads to this name seems to be its habit of extending its flower stems after flowering and curving its seed head down to bury the seeds in the earth (giving a new meaning to 'self sown').

The other thing that caught my attention (particularly in view of the 'Colony Collapse Disease' which is currently spreading throughout north America, killing all Honey Bees, and which threatens to destroy all agriculture that relies on Honey Bees for the pollination of crops) is that this clover is self fertilising and flourishes without bees. Allied to this I learnt that this plant is already a very important commercial fodder plant for sheep and perhaps cattle in Australia where it is grown in a mixture with grasses such as Alfalfa.

Clustered Clover: I now have confirmation that a patch of small red clover found by chance on May 29 was the rare Clustered Clover and not the commoner Knotted Clover. In confirming the id Martin Rand (Plant recorder for south Hampshire) told me that the species is a 'national notable' and that this is the first find in the SU 70 ten kilometre square (though the species is not uncommon in the New Forest and up the Avon valley). The site where I found it, close to the A27/A259 interchange just east of Havant, was interestingly on what would have been, prior to the completion of the A27 extenstion from Havant to Chichester in 1988, the white line down the middle of the main south coast trunk road! Since then the old road has been partly covered with soil and now looks like well trimmed grass alongside the A27 underpass approach for pedestrians and cyclists. At a guess the plants arrived with soil during the landscaping of the new underpass and so may well have been there undiscoverd for the best part of 20 years - they are still difficult to spot but cover an area of around 5 by 1 metre.

Fodder Vetch: A little of this was found on the south face of Portsdown in the Fort Southwick area by John Goodspeed on June 2

Grass Vetchling: This was flowering in the Portchester area on May 23 - same day as my find on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' above the slipway - and was also flowering on North Common, Hayling, on June 2

Yellow Vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca): On June 2 John Goodspeed refound this on the south face of Portsdown in the Fort Southwick area and was pleased to see more of it than he did last year.

Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma): I am by no means certain that I have the right name for these spurges which have bright yellow flowers and are present in good numbers along the earth bank separating Slipper Road from the Mill Pond at Emsworth. No doubt they are of garden origin but now seem to be flourishing on their own.

Pale Persicaria: Brian Fellows found this flowering in Emsworth on May 30 (he expressed some uncertainty about the id so I suppose this might have been Redshank but it is a good early date for either species

Sea Lavender: This was starting to flower at Emsworth (Nore Barn area) on May 31

Brookweed: Many but not all plants of this were in flower at Warblington Farm SSSI on June 2

Dotted Loosestrife: This is another yellow flowered garden escape which has started to flower this week

Early Gentian: This plant gets the highest rarity classification (RRR) in Stace and was first recorded on the south face of Portsdown near the Paulsgrove chalk pit by Michael Bryant in 1975 where it can still be found - John Goodspeed found just one flower on June 2 (last year also just one plant was found on June 12 but the flowers are so small that they are easily overlooked)

Wild Thyme: This was first seen flowering on Portsdown on June 1 (one day after its first mention at Durlston country park)

Hounds Tongue: This had started to flower at Durlston country park on May 30 and can probably be seen close to the fence of the Sandy Point nature reserve.

Knapweed Broomrape: First find this year was on Portsdown on June 1

Greater Plantain: This very common weed had put up its first flower spikes by May 28

Sea Plantain: First flowering on the Emsworth shore near Nore Barn on May 31

Corn Chamomile: There is a tremendous display of this which has been sown as a wildflower meadow at the east end of the Warblington cemetery extension - my attention was drawn to it by the aromatic scent which was detectable from the public path running along the south side of the extension and which lured me in to see the display which covers around half an acre and already has many Poppies and a few Corn Marigolds showing their flowers. Botanic purists may detect that the Corn Chamomile is not our native species but a look-alike substitute (Anthemis austriaca) supplied by wildflower seed merchants but you have to dissect the flower heads and use a microscope to detect the difference between the two species!

Marsh Cudweed: This first caught my eye at Warblington Farm on June 2

Bristly Oxtongue: The first flower of this soon-to-be-dominant species was found by Brian Fellows on May 28

Three-cornered Garlic (or Leek): This was flowering in many places around Apr 12 and so I was surprised to find a clump in fresh flower when on the Chidham penninsula (east of Thorney Island) on May 29. I mention it here because my first impression when I saw this plant was of whitish Bluebell flowers and this ties in with what Fitter and Fitter say about it being 'often called White Bluebell'. While on the subject of its name many people call it Three-cornered Leek (following Francis Rose) but nowadays Stace (and Fitter and Fitter) use the english name Three-cornered Garlic.

Wild Onion: The 'cellophane covers' on the flower heads of this plant had begun to split by June 1

Twayblade Orchid: The first mention of this in flower comes from Durlston country park on May 31

Pyramidal Orchid: These were in flower on Portsdown by May 27, one day after the very first had been reported from Durlston. Bee and Common Spotted orchids were also out on Portsdown on May 27

Bee Orchid: 48 were found in excellent health on North Common, Hayling Island on June 2 where it seems they have not been seen in past years

Fly Orchid: Only 10 flowering plants were found at a regular site on Portsdown on June 1 - fewer than in past years

Southern Marsh Orchid: The number of flowering spikes at Warblington Farm was 41 on June 2 and on June 3 Brian Fellows found at least 141 flower spikes in the meadow near Fishbourne church, Chichester.

Large Timothy: This grass had started to flower on Warblington Farm on June 2

Meadow Barley: This was also found at Warblington on June 2

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: On May 29 Tim Doran saw 'a cetacean' close in off Southsea Castle and the Portsmouth NEWS that day carried a photo of what was probably the same animal in Portsmouth Harbour. They suggest that it is a Bottle-nosed Dolphin similar to the one which spent some time in the harbour last year until a boat's propeller injured its back

Roe Deer: These are now well established in fields north of the A27 at Emsworth, and south of the road east of Emsworth but are so far not a regular sight along the coastal strip west of Emsworth so it was of interest to me to find fresh Roe droppings on June 2 in the thick wetland vegetation by the eastern stream of Warblington farm (not far north of Nore Barn and close to the footpath leading north to Selangor Avenue)

Water Vole: A professional survey of the River Ems running through the Brook Meadow area on June 2 found 12 burrows and 10 latrines with other signs of active Water Vole presence but if I understood the report aright these finds were grouped around just two centres and may indicate the presence of no more than two Vole families.

Marsh Frog: The sound of loud and distinctive croaking was heard on June 2 in the Shatterford area of the New Forest close to Beaulieu Road rail station where it was heard at the same time of year in 2005 but there is little or no information about the status of the species in Hampshire. The Herpetofauna website tells us that Marsh Frog (Rana ridibunda) was "First introduced to Walland Marsh, Kent in 1935, this frog is now found in several areas of Kent and East Sussex. Other introductions exist, including colonies in Southwest and West London". From the Rye Bay website I know it is well established at Rye Harbour. The Herpetofauna site goes on to say "The marsh frog has been deliberately introduced to the UK. It is by far the most successful introduction, thought to occupy an ecological niche; they choose breeding sites such as dykes and ditches not generally chosen by our native amphibians. However, the marsh frog is a voracious predator and further spread of this species in the UK is inadvisable due to unknown impact on native herpetofauna, and is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981". Another website (www.introduced-species.co.uk) tells us "This large frog species was a garden escapee from a home on the edge of Romney Marsh in the 1930s. It has spread since to cover a large area of Kent and East Sussex. It has a distinctive laughing call and is rarely found very far from water" This 'laughing call" is no doubt the reason for the species having the specific name of "ridibunda", and it is all that the casual naturalist is like to have as a record of the frog's presence.

Pipistrelle Bat: No doubt these have have been out and about nightly for the best part of three months now but I had my first sight of one hunting over my garden on May 30 (probably this sighting is due to the later time of sunset - probably the bats are still emerging at roughly the same time each evening but it is not until now that the evenings are light enough for them to be seen by casual viewers).

Fungi: Recent rain and heat will have induced quite a few fungi to fruit and on June 2 I found not only a small cluster of Jew's Ear on fallen wood at Warblington Farm but also a vast display of some medium sized Coprinus (similar to C. lagopus) covering many square yards of the remains of a silage clamp at the farm yard. On June 3 a single small cap had appeared in my garden lawn with the distinctive umbo suggesting the Fairy Ring fungus (Marasmius oreades) which I see appeared in numbers near Titchifeld Haven on May 24 last year.


Summary for May 21 - 27 (Week 21 of 2007)

BIRDS

Little Grebe: The first mention of juveniles this year comes from Kevin Stouse at Farlington Marshes on May 20 when he saw at least one family group on the Deeps.

Slavonian Grebe: There have been quite a few records of Black-necked Grebe breeding in southern England in past years but I have not been aware of Slavonian Grebes staying here in the south so I was interested to hear on May 26 that a summer plumage bird is currently on show at Topsham on the River Exe in Devon. This is the only report I have seen for May but there were several April reports of summer plumaged birds starting with one at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on May 30 followed by two birds there on Apr 7 and one in summer plumage on Apr 17. Another report came from Seaford where a pair swam past Splash Point in summer plumage on Apr 13 (heading west). Later in the month one was seen off Worthing on Apr 20 and there was another sighting of two at Spalsh Point on Apr 29

Masked Booby: I have already reported the sighting of one passing St Catherine's Point (IoW) on May 19 as a first for Britain but we now have to put that first date back by two days to May 17 when one was seen passing the Channel Light Vessel off Portland (news of this has just appeared on the Dorset Bird Club website)

Cormorant: Both Cormorants and Shags had chicks in nests at Durlston by May 26

Cattle Egret: An adult in breeding plumage was at Pulborough Brooks for at least six hours on May 26 (and may well still be there)

Little Egret: Bob Chapman adds yet another 'new behaviour' of this versatile species with an observation he made at the Blashford lakes (near Ringwood) on May 26 and (tongue in cheek) gives this behaviour the full scientific name of 'Mandabilovibratory feeding'. What he actually saw was an Egret up to its belly in the water with its neck stretched out parallel to the water surface with the bill tip just touching the water surface. It was repeatedly opening and closing it's bill, doing so gently enough to create a series of ripples spreading out over the water as if a large insect or other creature had fallen in the water and was struggling to get out. Bob did not see any outcome of this technique but assumes the intention was to lure fish. Even if you never see this behaviour you will almost certainly have seen these birds in shallow water 'doing the hokey cokey', shaking one foot, then the other, to stir up any small creatures lurking on the sea bed, and thanks to Bob you can now describe this behaviour using the scientific term ‘podifaciliphagy’ or feeding facilitated by use of the feet

Great White Egret: So far as I know there have been no sightings since Jan 21 of the bird that was regular at the Blashford Lakes up to that date. I did see one report of a bird in Poole Harbour on Apr 4 and now we have a new sighting of a bird flying in over Christchurch Harbour on May 26 and being seen later at Winkton on its way up the Avon valley (heading back to Blashford?)

Spoonbill: On May 20 two were at Keyhaven, probably the same two that were at Christchurch Harbour on May 19, and on May 21 one of them had perhaps flown back to Dorset to be seen at Studland (mouth of Poole Harbour) while the other had flown east to be at Cuckmere Haven, just east of Beachy Head, on May 22. Since then there was a sighting of two at Titchfield Haven on May 23, another of two at Pett Level on Rye Bay on May 24, and on May 25 the wheel went full cycle to bring two back to Keyhaven. (I am not seriously suggesting that the same two birds have generated all these reports!)

Pintail: A male seen on the River Itchen near Eastleigh on May 20 may have been a genuine wild bird but could, I suppose, have escaped from a collection. ‘Birds of Hampshire’ gives one possible breeding attempt when a pair were at Farlington Marshes through May and June of 1983. The only summer record for Hampshire in recent years seems to have been a male at Farlington Marshes on 3 June 2002

Black Kite: One was reported to have been seen flying east over Ballard Down near Swanage on May 22 but so far no further reports.

Red Kite: Among seven widespread sightings this week there was one seen over the Chichester Lakes on May 23

Marsh Harrier: A female was seen over Farlington Marshes on May 24 and I hear that this was not the only sighting there during the past week.

Kestrel: While Kestrels normally catch their food (mammals, insects, worms and birds) by dropping on them from above they are able to catch birds in flight and this latter mode was seen at Titchfield Haven on May 23. Next to that observation I have a sighting of a Kestrel flying over the Langstone South Moors on May 25, hotly pursued by several Meadow Pipits but none of them caught the Kestrel. (More seriously it is good to know that there is more than one pair of Meadow Pipits there and hopefully this mobbing of the Kestrel may mean that one or more pairs now have young chicks in ground nests where they might well attract a Kestrel to pounce)

Quail: The first of this summer's migrants arrived at Hastings country park on May 10 and now two more have been reported - on May 23 David Thelwell heard the 'whiplash' call of one flying north up the Test valley as it passed over his house at Romsey and on May 24 that same call was heard from a setaside field at Hastings country park (so possibly the same bird that arrived on May 10?)

Common Crane: Since Mar 31 there have been 12 reports of Cranes in Sussex - 8 of the 12 sightings have been at Pulborough but the two latest sightings have been in the Crawley area - two flying west over Hartfield on May 10 and two also going west over Handcross on May 16

Kentish Plover: One has been in Pagham Harbour from May 20 to 25 at least, mainly seen at Church Norton but on May 23 it was at the Ferry Pool.

American Golden Plover: One was seen at Farlington Marshes Deeps by Jason Crook as long ago as May 11 but no more was heard of it until May 20 when Pete Gammage spotted it at the back of the Farlington Marshes just at the time when Kevin Stouse and his party of walkers were passing and able to see the bird. It was still at the lake on May 22 when Richard Ford took photos of it which are now available on his website. The latest sighting that I have heard of was on May 24

Curlew Sandpiper: One was at the Farlington Marshes lake on May 23 and 24

Purple Sandpiper: A very late bird was at Portland on May 25

Curlew: Some seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 21 were described as 'early returnees' - perhaps they should be described as 'the first of the autumn wine'

Wood Sandpiper: One in the Hook/Warsash area on May 22 seems to have been the eighth bird seen on the south coast this spring.

Little Tern: When doing his wardening stint at the Oysterbeds on May 22 Brian Fellows found that the number of Little Terns had increased to at least 62 with many of them now apparently on nests. Brian added that Jason Crook has seen around 125 Little Terns at the Oysterbeds with others choosing to nest on the RSPB islands to give a harbour population of at least 150. By May 26 I found more than 40 birds apparently nesting on the southern island at the Oysterbeds and was particularly pleased to see them all using the new surface which should be well above the highest tide. It was also good to see that the Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns were nesting on the northern island, leaving the southern one more or less exclusively to the Little Terns. On the other hand the Little Terns seemed very jittery - desterting their nests on two occasions in the short time I was there, apparently spooked by nothing more than the alarm call of an Oystercatcher.

Guillemot: The first chick had hatched on the cliffs at Durlston Head by May 26

Turtle Dove: At least one has been heard regularly at Catherington Down recently.

Cuckoo: I still have not heard of one in the Langstone village area this year and I did not hear one anywhere on the Warblington farm during a four hour visit there on May 22, but at the end of that visit I did see one, presumably a female, perched high on an old oak tree from which it could observe the comings and goings of small birds with nests in the hedgerows of a number of fields. This Cuckoo was perched on a dead branch high on the tree with no leaves to obscure the view of the ground around the tree, and to make herself inconspicuous she was perched along the branch (Nightjar fashion) and not across it - I only saw her quite by chance when scanning the tree with my binoculars. The nearest bird that can be heard calling on a regular basis seems to be one in the Lumley area of Emsworth

Barn Owl: Jason Crook tells me that he has had recent sightings of different birds at both Farlington Marshes and at the Hayling Oysterbeds.

Nightjar: On May 20 a Nightjar churring in the Creech Woods could be heard from a Denmead garden. Other local sites at which churring has been heard are the West Walk woods near Wickham in the Meon valley and Stansted Forest where at least one male can be heard in the north of the woodland with a female also seen in that area.

Swift: It would seem that the Swifts have not abandoned east Havant this year. Each day they can be seen from my garden in the early morning and at dusk with numbers ranging from 2 to 7 birds.

Swallow: A pair nesting in outbuildings in a Catherington village garden had fledged young out of the nest by May 26

Dartford Warbler: On Mar 5 I saw a male singing openly perched on a bush near the mini golf course on Sinah Common (south Hayling) and on Mar 12 a pair were seen together there. Now, on May 26, there is a new report of a male seen singing in the same area - possibly an indication that the pair have already fledged one brood and are ready to have another go.

Chiff Chaff: Each year recently we seem to have had reports of birds singing a mixture of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler songs, and this year one was heard doing so in the village of Ripe (north-west of Eastbourne).

Spotted Flycatcher: This week saw counts of 30 arriving at Portland on May 20 and 29 at Dungeness on May 22 with another major influx on May 26 bringing 95+ to Portland and 22 to Christchurch Harbour that day. On May 24 one was heard singing at Pulborough Brooks

Blue Tit: On May 26 at least four young came out of a nest box in Brian Fellows' Emsworth garden - I hope they survive the chilling rain over the next few days.

Golden Oriole: This week one was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 20 (possibly the same bird that was seen there on May 18) and another was seen at Durlston that day. On May 22 one was singing at Dungeness and another arrived at Portland on May 23 where one was trapped and ringed on May 24

Woodchat Shrike: First report for the year was of one at Portland on May 20 and that same day one also turned up near the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour area) - this one was still there on May 22. A third arrival was at Dungeness on May 23

Bullfinch: Some 40 bird species were seen within the perimeter of Gatwick airport including a pair of Bullfinches with food for their young and a Chaffinch feeding a fledgling. Bullfinches are also regular visitors at present to Michael Prior's garden bird table on the edge of Stansted forest

Linnet: One of a party of around 10 Linnets seen at West High Down on the IoW on May 23 was feeding a juvenile (presumably already out of its nest)

INSECTS

Dragonflies

Club Tailed Dragonfly: A newly emerged specimen was at Pulborough Brooks on May 22 - first for the year

Banded Demoiselle: First of the year that I am aware of was a female seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 22 (Beautiful Demoiselle was first seen on Apr 29)

Butterflies:

Painted Lady: After a string of sightings in March and April there have been non from Apr 26 until May 22 when one was seen in West Sussex near Plaistow, followed by a sighting in Lower Froyle near Alton on May 23 - possibly these two mark the start of an new wave of migrants?

Marsh Fritillary: The sighting of a male and two females in a wood near Plaistow (in Sussex but near both Hampshire and Surrey borders) roused fierce indignation on the Sussex BC website, as a sighting of Pearl Bordered Fritillary on Castle Hill between Brighton and Lewes had done on Apr 15. These butterflies were officially extinct in these areas and must remain so! Unauthorised releases confuse the statistics showing the succes (or otherwise) of professional conservation management ...

Glanville Fritilary: On May 24 between 30 and 40 of these were seen around Hurst Castle in the west Solent by Mike Duffy who had heard last year that a new colony had been found around the Castle. At the end of a long trudge back to the mainland along the shingle of Hurst spit Mike saw another of these Fritillaries near the Cut Bridge - maybe a scout on its way to seek out new places to colonise?

Moths

Gold Swift: First was seen in woods on the eastern fringe of Horsham on May 24

Crambus pascuella: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Dioryctria abietella: Another first at Horsham on May 24

Thistle Ermine: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Satin Lutestring: Another first at Horsham on May 24

Dwarf Cream Wave: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Satin Wave: First trapped at Portland on May 21

Treble Brown Spot: First trapped at St Leonard's (Hastings) on May 24

Small Waved Umber: First trapped at Portland on May 20

Sandy Carpet: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Shaded Pug: First trapped at Portland on May 21

Dingy Shell: First at Horsham on May 24

Small Seraphim: First at Horsham on May 24

The Magpie: First sighting in New Forest on May 20

Latticed Heath: First seen in Bentley Wood near Stockbridge on May 20

Scorched Wing: First was at Portland on May 23 (only 4th record for the island)

Pale Oak Beauty: First at Horsham on May 24

Brussels Lace: First at Portland on May 24

Alder Kitten: Another first at Horsham on May 24

Buff Ermine: First trapped at Portland on May 19 with another at Pagham on May 20

Heart and Club: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Sand Dart: A coastal speciality with a first for Rye Harbour on May 23

Broom Moth: First at Horsham on May 24

Smoky Wainscot: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Obscure Wainscot: First at Pagham Harbour on May 22

Shoulder-striped Wainscot: First trapped at Portland on May 19

Flame Wainscot: Another first at Pagham Harbour on May 22

Dusky Brocade: First trapped at Portland on May 19

Common Rustic: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

The Uncertain: First of the year trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 20

Silky Wainscot: First at Pagham Harbour on May 22

Rosy Marbled: First at Horsham on May 24

Cream-bordered Green Pea: First at Rye Harbour on May 23

Buttoned Snout: A first for West Sussex - came to a bedroom light at Horsham on May 17

Other Insects

Green Lacewing: The first I have heard of was flying over a wetland area of south Hayling on May 26

Scorpion Fly: Chinery tells us that, as adults, these eat dead animal matter and fruit, and on May 21 this was illustrated by a photo on the Rye Bay website showing one tucking into a ready wrapped dead fly in a spider's web - presumably the spider had more than it could eat on its own.

Sawfly Tenthredo mesomelas: This was photographed at Rye Harbour on May 24

Hornet: These are now becoming more widely seen with three sightings this week - at Bartley Heath in north Hampshire on May 20, at Hook in south Hampshire on May 22 and at Haywards Heath on May 23

Stag Beetle: Both a male and a female were seen in Orchard Road, Havant, on or just before May 23. This is only the second report I have seen this year after an emergence in Totton (Sotuhampton) on May 18

Soldier Beetle (Cantharis rustica): First report for the year from Durlston on May 25

Ladybird larvae: On May 26 Brian Fellows found some 100 larvae of an unspecified Ladybird species on nettles at Brook Meadow in Emsworth

Two banded Longhorn Beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum): Photo on Rye Bay website of this 'new to me' species found in Brede High Wood north of Hastings on May 20

PLANTS

Opium Poppy: First of these was open in Havant on May 23

Dame's Violet: A larger than usual colony, with more colour variety (usually all white here) flowering at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 22 and more flowering on May 24 by the Lumley Mill Stream where it crosses (underneath) the A27 between Westbourne and Emsworth

Field Pepperwort: I found my first at the Marlpit Lane site near Funtington on May 25 but there was plenty of it and it had obviousely been flowering for some time

Perforate St John's Wort: First flowers found on the north edge of Langstone Harbour on May 23

Turkish Tutsan (Hypericum xylosteifolium): This plant is a long term survivor from a 'houseboat garden' on the bank of the Brockhampton Stream in Havant - the houseboat concerned was washed away many years ago but the plant survives, intertwined with a Fuchsia bush

Ragged Robin: Brian Fellows found some with white flowers at the Langstone South Moors on May 25

Lesser Stitchwort: This started to flower on May 21, seen on the Langstone South Moors

Sea Beet: This had started to flower at Emsworth on May 24

Bastard Toadflax: This was in flower on Portsdown above the Paulsgrove chalkpit on May 25

Meadow Cranesbill: Plants in a field adjacent to Catherington Down were flowering on May 26

Hop Trefoil: First flowers in Havant on May 21

Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia): Lots of this flowering in long grass on top of the Broadmarsh 'rubbish mountain' on May 23 (but no sign of Lathyrus hirsutus there yet).

Yellow Vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca): John Goodspeed has confirmed that the flowers found at Milton Common (Southsea) on May 9 were of this species, and this week on May 25 he found flowers at two more sites on the south face of Portsdown below Fort Southwick

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea: Flower buds about to open at the New Lane allotments in Havant on May 23

Hemlock: A single damaged plant,determined to flower before it died, had white flowers at the end of March but the start of general flowering came on May 22 at the Hayling Oysterbeds site.

Ground Elder: Flowering in Havant on May 21

Corky-fruited Water Dropwort: One plant of this was in flower by the Hayling Coastal path in the Saltmarsh Lane area on May 26

Sea Milkwort (Glaux maritima): The humble pink flowers of this were out en masse in the Warblington SSSI field by the sea on May 22

Yellow-wort: Buds showing yellow and about to open by the cycle way between Broadmarsh and Farlington Marshes on May 23. In flower at Durlston on May 25

Field Bindweed: First flowers seen in arable fields at Warblington on May 22

Common Figwort: A little behind Water Figwort, Common Figwort was in flower at Broadmarsh on May 23

Viper's Bugloss: I found several plants flowering at the Marlpit lane site near Funtington on May 25 and am surprised that I have no earlier records.

Spear Thistle: A single plant had flowers near the A27 in Havant on May 21

Creeping Thistle: This had just started to flower in Havant on May 23 and on that day Brian Fellows found a possible hybrid between Creeping and Milk Thistle with its first flower open at the Hayling Oysterbeds. (This may well have been Slender Thistle)

Milk Thistle: Most of the plants at the Hayling Oysterbeds were in flower when I was there on May 26

Meadow thistle: These lovely, prickle-free plants were flowering at Hookheath (northern foot of Portsdown) on May 26

Cotton Thistle: Although nowhere near flowering a plant of this was growing prominently by the cycleway passing the eastern entrance to Farlington Marshes on May 23

Salsify: On May 21 this was flowering beside Redlands Lane in north Emsworth and on May 23 I found a lot more on the summit of the Broadmarsh 'rubbish mountain'.

Smooth Hawksbeard: I have for some time been trying to turn plants of Beaked Hawksbeard in the Smooth species when I find them with leaves ending in a long thin wavy point but none have flowers small enough to qualify as Smooth. On May 26 however I did find one genuine example with one flower open in my own garden where lots more are waiting to open their flowers.

White and Sword Leaved Helleborine: Both were flowering at Chappets Copse near West Meon on May 20

Pyramidal Orchid: At least one was in flower at Durlston country park on May 26

Bee Orchid: John Goodspeed was told of a dozen plants in flower by the Hayling Coastal Path on May 23 and on May 26 at least 34 were on show half way down the old Billy track in the straight section between the large open West Lane fields and the 'midway saltings' in the harbour. Most plants were under the wooden rail fence separating the tracks for horses and other users of the path though more were to be found on the horse side.

Fly Orchid: These were also in flower at Chappetts Copse on May 20

Common Spotted Orchid: Brook Meadow at Esmworth had the first on May 17 but they have now been reported from three other sites

Heath Spotted Orchid: Flowering at Hookheath (north of Portsdown) on May 26

Southern Marsh Orchid: Now flowering at four sites

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: I had another prolonged sighting of the Vixen and five cubs at the Langstone South Moors on May 21

Polecat: This species has been spreading east over southern England for some years and is probably breeding in both Hampshire and Sussex. The first sighting which I have seen reported this year comes from Whitcombe Bottom which runs south from Harting Down where one was seen on May 23.

Roe: A doe was seen suckling a very young kid at Durlston country park on May 24

Hedgehog: On May 23 Brian Fellows found a freshly dead road casualty in the Lumley area of Emsworth and on May 21 John Goodspeed reported that one was seen recently in a Portsdown garden in daytime 'looking sickly' but making an exit on its own legs as if good for a little longer. This sent me off to check my impression that Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and Wikipaedia tells me this is true but that they do occasionally appear during the day. On the subject of 'looking sickly' I read that chemicals used in gardens are almost as great a cause of hedgehog mortality as are road deaths, but I was more interested to read something I did not already know about the ability of Hedgehogs to 'froth at the mouth' (something that could give the impression of being sick). I had previously thought that this frothing, followed by 'annointing' their spines with the froth, was something to do with 'having a wash' or attempting to get rid of fleas, but I see that there is a view that the animals do this when they come across a new scent on the ground which might indicate that a predator is in the area. The Hedgehog mixes its froth with the new scent and then pastes the mixture on to its body in the hope that this will camouflage its own scent from the predator which will smell its own scent, not that of the Hedgehog.

Water Vole: Last week I was very surprised to find a Water Vole in the centre of Havant, and Kevin Stouse now adds another surprise sighting which he and his walk party had when visiting Farlington Marshes on May 20. Coming north up the eastern sea wall of the marshes they were near the point at which a track leads off towards the reserve building when they saw a Water Vole in a watery section of the ditch inside the sea wall. I am not sure if Water Voles are resident at the Marshes but if they are I would expect to find them along the stream, and probably in the well vegetated and little disturbed area north of the A27, so I take this sighting to be a further indication that this is the time of year at which the voles get the urge to set out on voyages of discovery to find new habitat.

On May 23 Brian Fellows watched one busy Water Vole in the River Ems at Brook Meadow repeatedly taking vegetation into a burrow, almost certainly as food for young.

Adder: Simon Woolley was very surprised when in the New Forest on May 20 to find an Adder coiled up with a Grass Snake. When I read this I assumed that the two were twined around each other as male Adders do in a form of 'arm wrestling' to decide who is going to mate with a female. This intertwining could also, I suppose, be a genuine fight to kill or put to flight an invader of an established territory (or even some form of sexual perversion!) but I must point out that on reflection Simon's phrase could just refer to the two snakes being coiled up close to each other (as one might find a varied collection of reptiles under a sheet of metal).

Slow-worm: In the Hook area Bob Marchant saw a Magpie attacking a Slow-worm on May 22 - this is something I have seen in my own garden, with the Magpie getting a big meal for its family. Luckily for the Slow-worm a human drove off the Magpie before it could deliver the coup de grace (but I suspect the Magpie will have returned to do that as soon as the humans were out of sight).

Another interesting sighting came from Emsworth on May 25 when Brian Fellows was clipping a tall hedge (much of it Ivy) and came on a live Slow-worm seven feet off the ground. Whether the Slow-worm had climbed there for its own purposes, or had perhaps fallen from the beak of another Magpie, is not known but the Lizard was well enough to move off on its own (and without falling!). My Reader's Digest book of Animals has an illustration of a Slow-worm which has climbed to the top of a Heather bush in order to sun-bathe and I am pretty sure one could climb among ivy easily enough but in this case I guess it would be doing so in search of food - plenty of spiders can be found in ivy and they are regular in Slow-worm diet, and when clipping my own hedges I have been surprised by the number of snails that climb at least seven feet high (but do Slow-worms eat snails with their shells? they certainly enjoy eating slugs)


Summary for May 14 - 20 (Week 20 of 2007)

BIRDS

Great Crested Grebe: On May 12 a pair had three young chicks with them on Petworth Park Lake (by no means the first to hatch as we had three reports of young already hatched in March this year)

Fulmar: On May 14 a total of 91 flew west past Dungeness. This is the third highest count I have seen recorded anywhere this year - the highest was 166 passing Seaford on Apr 30 and next was 154 off Dungeness on Jan 18. I had assumed that Fulmars breed early in the year but a look at my small book about bird nesting tells me that they breed from May to September so maybe these birds are only now thinking of heading for their breeding cliffs (although some have been back at nests for a little while - the first specific mention of a nest that I have seen this year was of one at Hope Gap near Beachy Head on Apr 22)

Storm Petrel: Eleven reports so far this week from five sites with the latest being of five birds going west at Christchurch Harbour on May 19. Sightings came from as far east as Selsey Bill (three seen on May 13) and a possible was reported from Seaford. Best site was still Chirstchurch Harbour with 10 on May 13 and 5 on May 19 (not much in comparision to 160+ on May 12), and all birds seen are still moving west (having come from the North Sea?)

Masked Booby (Hydrobates pelagicus): At 9:30am on May 19 a party of birders at St Catherine's Point on the IoW watched an unusual bird fly east and it was identified by one of them (listed on Derek Hale's website as 'Dave W') as a Masked Booby, which will be a new species for Britain if the sighting is 'accepted'. It would seem that Derek Hale was one of the party which saw the bird and he describes it as "dark above but all white below". Kris Gillam reports this as an 'outstanding sighting' and adds to what Derek Hale has said that the bird was a 'juvenile' (by which I assume that he means 'first year' rather than hatched this year)

Gannet: 530 of these flew west past Dungeness on May 13 (same day as the 91 Fulmars)

Glossy Ibis: The saga of this year's Ibis invasion continues with a sighting of 9 flying west over Southbourne (Bournemouth) at dusk

Spoonbill: Two arrived at Christchurch Harbour early on May 19 and spent several hours feeding there.

Mute Swan: The 'summer flock' which builds up in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester numbered 110 birds on May 18. In Emsworth the nest low on the banks of the marina was lost to the high tide on May 17 (but the 'litter nest' in the Town Millpond, which has at least four eggs in it, is still in business)

Black Swan: Two of these were a surprise addition to the birds on Fishbourne Channel near Chichester when Brian Fellows was there on May 18 - he guesses they may be two of the seven which he saw at West Ashling Pond (around 5km north west of Fishbourne Channel).

Canada Goose: Following the first sighting of goslings at Budds Farm on May 12 a pair was seen with 2 goslings at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth on May 14 and on May 16 Kevin Stouse saw 7 goslings at the IBM Portsmouth site. On May 17 a pair had three goslings at what is I think a new site first used this year - the Stubbermere Pond west of the Stansted Saw Mill

Cackling Canada Goose: Brian Fellows found two newcomers at Baffins Pond on May 14 which he noted as 'small Canada Geese'. He rightly points out that there are some 12 different races of Canada Goose and isn't going to commit to naming these but his mention of them has led me to revise my previous idea of recording these small geese as a subspecies (Branta canadensis minima or Cackling Canada Goose) of the normal Canada Goose.

Wikipaedia tells me .. "The Cackling Goose was originally considered to be the same species or a subspecies of the Canada Goose, but in July 2004 the American Ornithologists' Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature split the two into two species, making Cackling Goose into a full species with the scientific name Branta hutchinsii. The British Ornithologists Union followed suit in June 2005". (Wheels turn slowly in these matters and I see that in the latest version of the list of Euring Codes which I downloaded in order to find the code for the Masked Booby this change from Branta canadensis to Branta hutchinsii has not yet been made!)

I think we now have to be aware of two species, each with subspecies. The larger sized Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) appears to have subspecies named B.c.occidentalis (Dusky Canada), B.c.maxima (Giant Canada), B.c.interior (Todd's Canada), and B.c.moffitti (Moffitt's Canada Goose). The smaller Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) has subspecies named Richardson's Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii hutchinsii), Aleutian Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii leucopareia), Small Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii minima) and one with no common name (Branta hutchinsii taverneri).

Wikipaedia says .. "The distinctions between the two geese have led to a great deal of confusion and debate among ornithologists" but for my purposes I will continue to record under just two names - large birds as Canada Goose and small birds as Cackling Goose with the two small birds at Baffins going under the latter name when I have changed its scientific name from B.c.minima to Branta hutchinsii.

Brent Goose: The summering flock in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester numbered 13 birds on May 18, Another summering bird is staying at the Pannell Valley near Rye - I think the first time one has summered in the Rye Bay area.

Barnacle Goose: Also back at Baffins Pond were just 4 Barnacles (the last remnant of the flock of 40+ that could once be seen there) and the 'hybrid goose' that has tagged along with them for some years. For some reason I thought this hybrid was at least in part Bar-headed but Brian has now provided a picture of it (my first sight of the bird) which shows it to be mainly white in plumage but with pink legs and bill suggesting the possibilty of a liaison between a Greylag and a Snow Goose.

Wigeon: Four were still present in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on May 18

Velvet Scoter: A late bird flew past Dungeness on May 13

Ruddy Duck: On May 13 Kris Gillam saw two males apparently fighting over a female at the Brading Marshes RSPB reserve on the IoW - Kris adds that this could mean the Island will soon record its first Ruddy Duck breeding.

Honey Buzzard: The tenth record of this species that I have seen this year was of one heading north up the Sussex Ouse near Isfield (north west of Lewes) on May 12

Osprey: An unusual sighting of an Osprey was made on May 15 by the driver of a train on the line running from Ashford to Hastings via Rye. The driver writes .. "I was driving the train from Appledore, and as I was nearing the overhead power cables that run northwards from Dungeness I saw a large bird of prey perched on a low branch over a drainage ditch. It was below my cab about 5 metres from the track and I was looking down on a bird about the same size as a common buzzard that I often see in the Glynde area, but with a white head and neck and a dark back and wings. I only saw it for 5 seconds but when it looked round at me I thought the eyes were a yellowish colour".

Peregrine: Another unusual observation comes from 'somewhere on the Sussex coast'. The observer writes .. "Amazing Peregrine watching on 12 May commenced when the male flew in with a pigeon and was greeted noisily by the female. Then the male settled on the cliff to eat the pigeon. After 10 minutes he was harrassed by three Herring Gulls forcing him to fly from the cliff carrying his prey. Then one gull attacked the falcon grabbing him around the neck with its beak. The Peregrine was forced to release the pigeon and then much tumbling in the air followed as he broke free from the gull's grip. He then dived angrily many times at the gull before settling elsewhere on the cliff to recover. The gull proceeded to eat the pigeon on the cliff where it landed."

In Chichester the Peregrine nest on the cathedral had 4 chicks doing well on May 17 - Brian Fellows was told that these chicks were new three weeks old and were expected to fly in another three weeks

Common Crane: At least one Crane has been seen at Pulborough Brooks on at least nine days between Mar 31 and Apr 28 (two were there on Apr 18 and 19), and since Apr 28 one was seen in Sussex on Apr 29 (the location was not very precise - just 'flying over the A27' which stretches from the Hampshire border all the way to Eastbourne). No more sightings until May 16 when two were seen flying west together over Handcross (on the A23 just south of Crawley)

Avocet: The first chick hatched at the Pannel Valley site near Rye on May 12. On May 17 there were 26 Avocet present at the Pett Level pools to the south of the Pannell Valley

Kentish Plover: We have already had one definite sighting from Portland on May 4 and now we have a second, less definite, report from the River Adur in the Shoreham area on May 13

Sanderling: Good numbers of these continue to be seen along the south coast this week with 30 at Christchurch Harbour on May 19 being the latest report.

Temminck's Stint: One had been reported from the Severn estuary near Slimbridge on Mar 15 and the second of the year is now reported at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on May 16

Curlew Sandpiper: First of the spring was on the Dorset coast on May 10 followed by one at Farlington Marshes on May 11 and now we have a fifth report of another on the Hampshire coast at Lymington. There have also been three recent sightings in Poole Harbour which are now reported (but with no dates) on the Dorset Bird Club website.

Purple Sandpiper: These are still on the move with two birds at Portland on May 14 and two (maybe the same) there on May 15

Spotted Redshank: Last year the last report of a spring passage bird was from Titchfield Haven on May 7 (with the first autumn bird at Lymington on June 30). This year what may be the last spring bird was at Brading Marshes (IoW) on May 13

Greenshank: Another late bird was a Greenshank at the Blashford Lakes in the Avon valley on May 15

Turnstone: Last spring the last bird to be seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds was a single there on May 23 (and 37 were back in Langstone Harbour on June 28). This year two were at the Oysterbeds on May 15.

Pomarine Skua: A total of 14 seen around Portland on May 19 is the 57th report of this species I have seen this year, and the total number of birds in these reports (including no doubt many duplicates) is 355.

Mediterranean Gull: Several were already feeding their chicks at Rye Harbour by May 19

Audoin's Gull: A second summer bird was seen for 40 minutes on the beach at Dungeness on May 16 before it flew west. This is the first report of the species for the year and a good photo appears on the Dungeness website showing a gull of small Herring Gull size with a white head having a long sloping forehead, pale grey closed wings some black in the wing tips and a bill that is red at the base for at least half its length and has a broad black band near the tip (there may be a small yellow tip though I think that impression comes from a pebble on the beach and the whole tip is actually black)

Iceland Gull: One reported to have been seen in the West Bay area of Dorset on May 14 was described as a 'juvenile' which suggests to me that the observer was not a gull expert.

Little Tern: 28 birds were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 15, several of them carrying fish as courtship gifts for their mates. The count at Rye Harbour on May 14 was 53 birds.

Long-eared Owl: Two family groups of juveniles could be heard 'squeaking' in Parkhurst Forest (IoW) on My 12

Swift: Around 600 were over the Blashford Lakes on May 15, possibly newly arrived birds, while locally a few birds are settling down to nest. In east Havant one pair has been seen daily since May 13 and in Emsworth 12 were around the houses on May 14 with 5 seen over Brook Meadow on May 15. Locally I saw a group of four Swifts flying low over houses at the north end of Fourth Avenue in Denvilles (east Havant) on May 17 and at my home the evening party on May 19 was of six birds (with four seen again the following morning)

House Martin: These now seem to be back with us in numbers that are at least as good as last year and there is good news from one house near the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park at Havant where three pairs were back at artificial nest boxes on May 16

Robin: On May 18 I came on a nest with four orange-red tinged eggs well hidded in an ivy covered tree stump in my garden.

Mistle Thrush: A family group of 2 adults and five young were out of the nest at Ryde (IoW) on May 14, and on that same day I was surprised to hear one in full song from high on a metal pylon here in Havant, possibly indicating a male ready to start a second brood.

Cetti's Warbler: One of these is again resident around the IBM Lake in Portsmouth this summer along with both Sedge and Reed Warblers

Wood Warbler: Although I have seen 16 reports of these since the first arrived on Apr 15, and one was back on territory at Stanley Common (just east of Liphook) by Apr 22, an SOS party visiting Black Down (between Midhurst and Haslemere) on May 17 failed to find them there as they had been last year.

Spotted Flycatcher: Counts of 29 at Portland on May 14 and another of 30 there on May 16 probably mark the peak of their arrival

Long-tailed Tit: A family group was seen at the IBM Portsmouth site on May 16 with young Blue Tits also out of their nests. Other birds seen around the site were Cetti's, Reed and Sedge Warbler plus Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat

Coal Tit: I have the impression that this species is thriving locally. As well as being heard on almost every visit to woodland all round the year I often find them in town or residential areas where they seem content to have a single Scots Pine for their territory. This week John Gowen reports that a pair are feeding young in a nest in a cavity in a neighbour's house in Langbrook Close (adjacent to the Langstone Road entrance to the Langstone Technology Park, and this led me to check on what sort of nest sites they favour. My book tells me that the nest is usually on or near the ground in a hole, often in a bank or tree stump, but also in walls and trees. It goes on to say that they will use nest boxes. I was a little surprised to learn that a bird which I think of as normally high in the trees will nest in holes on the ground.

Golden Oriole: One at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 18 was only the third which I have heard of this year since the first at Dungeness on Apr 21. Interestingly the second was singing at Radipole (also in Weymouth) on Apr 28

Starlings: These have become more noticeable here in Havant during the past week as the parents ferry food to young in their nests, and from the Pett area on the shore of Rye Bay comes the first report of young already out of their nests on May 15

INSECTS

Dragonflies:

Four-spotted Chaser: The first was reported from Dungeness on May 2 but we have had to wait until May 13 for a second report (this time from Rye Harbour)

Butterflies:

Lulworth Skipper: A male which looked as if it had been on the wing for several days was seen at Ballard Down near Swanage in Dorset on May 18 - this is almost two months before they are usually seen

Large Skipper: The first of the year was seen in the Crawley area of Sussex on May 16 and the second was at Browndown (Gosport) on May 17 while by May 19 three were seen on Portsdown.

Chalkhill Blue: These do not normally emerge until July but one was seen on the Sussex Downs above Amberley on May 16 - it was a male

Small Tortoiseshell: The first report of a nest of caterpillars comes on May 14 from Great Funtley Farm in the Meon Valley immediately north of where the M27 crosses the river north west of Fareham

Wall Brown: Although these have been seen from Apr 16 (at Durlston in Dorset), and I now have 15 reports of them, butterfly transects on Portsdown have failed to discover any there yet this year (and I have also not heard of any on Thorney Island). Last year the first was on Portsdown on May 13 and the last were there on Aug 27. Latest reports for this year are of 9 in the Keyhaven (Lymington) area on May 17 and of 2 worn specimens at Ballard Down (Swanage) in Dorset on May 18

Moths:

Barred Hook-tip: First was seen at Broughton Down near Stockbridge on May 3

Cream Wave: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Yellow Shell: This was flying by day at Broughton Down near Stockbridge on May 16

Cypress Carpet: First was seen on May 12 'somewhere in Sussex'

Green Pug: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Drab Looper: First seen in Pamber Forest (north of Basingstoke) on May 19

Clouded Border: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Brown Silver-line: More than 5 seen in Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) by day on May 16

Willow Beauty: The first of these were taken at both Portland and Pagham on May 17

Light Emerald: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Marbled Brown: First report from the Pannell Valley near Rye on May 17

Wood Tiger: First for the year seen at Martin Down on May 5

Dingy Shears: First seen on May 12 'somewhere in Sussex'

Dark Arches: First report from Portland on May 16

Rufous Minor: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Tawny Marbled Minor: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Small Yellow Underwing: Several seen by day in Friston Forest near Eastbourne on May 16

The Snout: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on May 17

Pinion-streaked Snout: First record from the Pannell Valley on May 17

Other insects:

Scorpion Fly: First sighting of one comes from Newtown Harbour (IoW) on May 14. Two more reports of them came on May 17 - another sighting on the IoW and a report of many in Guestling Woods north of Hastings

Rhingia campestris hoverfly: First report from Rye Harbour on May 15 - this long snouted hoverfly is found near cattle as the larve feed on cow pats though the adults delicately sip nectar (to take away the taste of cow dung?)

Mason Bee (Osmia bicolor): Seen on May 19 by a group on the Sussex Downs above Amberley. This looks like a small red-tailed bumblebee and nests in empty snail shells on the ground, covering them with dry grass and twigs

Stag Beetle: First report of the year from Totton (Southampton) where 15 emerged on the night of May 17. Only three of them were females but we are not told if any of the six half-eaten corpses found on a lawn the next morning were males or females, nor are we told what killed them (perhaps Magpies or maybe Rats?)

Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis): This red-headed Cardinal Beetle was seen by me in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on May 17 while another was seen at Rye Harbour on the same day (first equal for the year)

'Thigh Beetle' (Oedemera nobilis): This well known flower beetle was first seen at Rye Harbour on May 14. I read that adults eat flower pollen and nectar while the larvae feed on soft decaying wood and the pith inside some dead plant stems. Barry Yates adds something that I did not know - he says that only the male has the enlarged 'thighs' which he uses when mating.

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis): First of year in Guestling Wood north of Hastings on May 17

PLANTS

Yellow-horned Poppy: This had started to flower at Rye Harbour on May 13

Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris): I found this for the first time on May 17 in the East Park of Stansted Forest and I believe it had been found earlier at Brook Meadow in Emsworth but I cannot find any record of that. Early Wintercress (B. intermedia), with its pinnate leaves, has been flowering in Havant since Apr 13.

Nottingham Catchfly: John Goodspeed found at least 6 plants flowering at the Sinah Common site south of the Hayling Golf Course when leading a walk there on May 16

Little Robin: John Goodspeed also found this flowering on the shingle near Gunner Point (south Hayling) on May 14 and 16

Meadow Vetchling/Yellow Vetchling: When at Milton Common (Southsea) on May 9 John Goodspeed found the first flowers of what he named Yellow Vetchling and I assume this to be the rare Lathyrus aphaca which can still, I think, be found there and nowhere else in the Portsmouth area.. There is however a possibility that there was confusion with Meadow Vetchling which is often called Yellow Vetchling by those not familiar with the rare species, and as Meadow Vetchling is usually in flower before Yellow Vetchling and would almost certainly occur at Milton Common, I am uncertain which was seen (no one has yet reported Meadow Vetchling, and I have not seen it myself).

White Clover: First flowers seen in Havant on May 14

Sea Pea: This is a great rarity in Hampshire which has only been found on Hurst Beach near Lymington where one or two plants have been seen in 1953, 1963, 1993 and 1994. Maybe it's worth looking for it again as plants started to flower at Rye Harbour (where it is more regularly seen) on May 18

Wild Strawberry: A good show of both flowers and unripe fruit was clustered round the interpretation board welcoming you to the Hollybank Woods as you enter them from Hollybank Lane when I was there on May 17

Biting Stonecrop: The first flowers were open on May 17 along the little used north side pavement of Swallow Close in Denvilles here in Havant.

Broad-leaved Willowherb: I had found American Willowherb in Havant back on May 4 and on May 17 it was joined by Broad-leaved Willowherb which I have seen flowering in several places since then

Clustered Dock: I first noticed this in Havant on May 14 and as usual had to check that this Dock, with branches at nearly 90 degrees from the stem, was Clustered and not Wood Dock (which has branches at angles of less than 30 degrees)

Broad-leaved Dock: This also was flowering in Havant on May 14

Common Sorrel: Brian Fellows was the first to note this in flower at Emsworth on May 13 - on the next day it was out in my garden.

Knotgrass: I found the first tiny flower on this when walking through Juniper Square in Havant on May 18

Early Gentian: Although this has had an earlier mention on the Durlston website May 15 is the first date on which it has been positively named as flowering there.

Water Figwort: This had started to flower at Emsworth on May 17

Weasel's Snout or Lesser Snap-dragon (Misopates orontium): The very first flower was open in the New Lane allotments in Havant on May 19

Heath Speedwell: Flowering by one of the rides through the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on May 17

Brooklime: First flowers were seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 16 (and it was out here in Havant on May 19)

Wild Clary: This was also listed as flowering at Durlston on May 16

Hedge Woundwort: The first was flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 16 (and I found my first at Stansted on May 17)

Self-heal: I saw the first flowering in St Faith's churchyard in Havant on May 18

Carrot Broomrape: This was reported as having appeared at Durlston country park on May 16 but, although Carrot Broomrape is listed in Francis Rose's Wildflower Key (first edition) as Orobanche maritima, it seems it is no longer recognised as a separate species and Stace now shows it only as a variety of Common Broomrape (O. minor var maritima). The Hampshire Flora says that Francis Rose named plants found parasitising Sea Holly at Sinah Sand Dunes on Hayling Island in 1951 as O. maritima but the flora adds that there has been no subsequent record of this and concludes that 'unless or until it re-appears it seems best to leave this plant un-named'

Black Knapweed: I found this in flower for the first time this year on waste ground in Havant on May 14 (my first sight of Common Poppy in large numbers was also at the same site)

Burnt Orchid (aka Burnt-tip Orchid): These were starting to flower at Martin Down on May 18

Common Spotted Orchid: First flower of the year was found in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 16

Perennial Rye-grass: First of the year seen at Emsworth on May 16

Marsh Foxtail: First record of the year is from Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 16

OTHER WILDLIFE

Hedgehog: Finding a very old corpse of one on May 14 in the Havant cemetery by New Lane reminded me of how few are seen nowadays - this is my first record of one this year and last year I had just one record (again of a corpse). The only other local records for last year both came from Emsworth - in July Brian Fellows had a live animal in his garden but at the end of April he also had a corpse on Thorney road

Water Vole: On May 18 at 10am I was very surprised to see one grazing waterweed in the pool of the Homewell stream immediately east of the busy Park Road South/Solent Road junction in Havant. I watched it out in the open for at least two minutes before it trotted back into the cover of a Water Cress 'jungle', and had plenty of time to ensure that it did not have the prominent ears and snout of a Brown Rat, and as it departed I could see that the tail was shorter than the body length and was brown, not the flesh colour of a Rat's tail.

I went back next day with my binoculars and was able to see that an area of about 1 square metre had been grazed flat on either side of the rampant Water-cress, suggesting that the vole I had seen had been there for several days.

I assume it had arrived by chance after coming up the Langbrook stream and from that coming along the Homewell stream which joins the Langbrook just upstream of the 'Water Wheel' situated on the north side of the A27 sliproad taking eastbound traffic down to the Langstone roundabout. It seems unlikely that any other voles will arrive at the same place (unless more than one arrived together) so I am not expecting this to become a regular Water Vole site, and with the amount of cover available in the pool I doubt I (or anyone else) will be lucky enough to see this vole again but the evidence of grazing can be seen (look for a point on the main road pavement close to the a large tree stump on the bank going down to the pool).

Slow-worm: On May 17 I had to swerve my bike sharply to avoid running over a Slow-worm which had been basking on the surface of the rough road leading west from the Stansted Saw Mill to Holme Farm and Stubbermere. When I was only a yard from it it suddenly moved - straight towards my on-coming wheel.


Summary for May 7 - 13 (Week 19 of 2007)

BIRDS

Diver species: All three common species are still passing up channel and on May 10 a Red-throated was seen in summer plumage on the sea off Milford near Lymington while on the same day a summer plumaged Black-throated was on the water at Selsey Bill. No mention of breeding plumage with any of the 9 sightings of Great Northern this week but at least two were seen on each of the six days up to May 11 when a total of 6 went past Portland.

Manx Shearwater: Plenty of these around currently with 20 separate sightings during the week. Counts at Portland were 500 on May 7, 100 on May 8 and 330 on May 9. Locally 15 were seen from Hayling Bay on May 9.

Balearic Shearwater: The first for the year was seen off Portland on May 12 though a report of '3 large shearwaters' seen from Worthing Beach on May 11 may indicate that the Portland bird was not the first!

Storm Petrel: 13 different reports this week from four sites, of which Christchurch Harbour was easily the best with sightings of more than 150 birds on both May 10 and 12 but only 45 on May 11. One was seen off Selsey Bill on May 10 and three were reported there on May 12

Little Egret: The relatively small number of these to be found along the south coast at this time of year usually stick to the sea shore for their fishing but at least two seem to have resumed winter habits of fishing inland as a result of this week's high winds and stormy seas. In Havant on May 11 one was in the Lymbourne stream where it runs alongside the Billy Trail and Wade Court and at Emsworth one was in Brian Fellows' garden (through which the Westbrook stream runs) on both May 11 and 12

Purple Heron: Golfers using a course at Hamptworth near the Avon valley just north of Fordingbridge (but east of the river) had sightings of one exploring a small stream there on the morning of May 12 - maybe the bird's tolerance of the human presence indicates that it was an escape, but if it was the same bird seen at Titchfield Haven on May 2 that one was said to be very shy and elusive.

Glossy Ibis: What is probably the same bird has now been seen at Sidlesham Ferry Pool on Apr 30, at Pagham Harbour north walls breech pool on May 1, at Carters Farm (east of Pett at Rye Bay) on May 5 and at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on May 9. This seems to have been a loner that was never part of the large group of Ibis which invaded Cornwall in mid-April and from which 17 birds flew on to the Slimbridge area of the River Severn around Apr 25. Derek Hale went there on Apr 6 when all 16 were still there though he only saw 3 on a second visit on May 10.

Mute Swan: The pair which nested at the Emsworth Slipper Mill pond this year hatched five cygnets on May 10, leaving three unhatched eggs in the nest when they left. By May 12 the parents had only 2 cygnets with them though there was no proof of death of the other three. At Budds Farm pools on May 12 the pair were alone on the water well away from their nest but again there is no proof of a calamity.

Canada Goose: Also at Budds Farm pools on May 12 a pair of Canada Geese had 4 small goslings with them on the grass north of the pools.

Shelduck: The first duckling of the year was seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 7, among a total of 67 adult birds. By May 10 a brood of 9 ducklings could be seen at Pulborough Brooks.

Gadwall: A single male was still at the Budds Farm pools on May 12

Shoveler: The first brood of juveniles was seen at Titchfield Haven on May 6 - not sure how many pairs have stayed to nest there but the last previous news was of 12 birds there on Apr 14

Eider: The flock on the water off Titchfield Haven still numbered 60 on Apr 18 but subsequent counts have been of 24 birds on Apr 22 and just 1 on Apr 24

Honey Buzzard: One flew in off the sea in the Ventnor area of the IoW on May 11. This is the eleventh bird of which I have seen reports that may be of birds intending to stay in this country this year.

Osprey: One was seen at Thorney Island on May 6 - it caught a fish in the harbour and flew to a tree by the Great Deeps to eat it, indicating that it migth stay around there for a few days. Since then one flew in off the sea near Worthing on May 10 and another was in the Lymington area on May 11.

An interesting bit of behaviour which I heard on the radio (and thus cannot vouch for the details) was that when the male of an Osprey pair nesting in Scotland disappeared, after the female had laid her clutch of eggs, a new male arrived and was accepted by the female but insisted on destroying the orginal clutch of eggs and getting the female to lay a new clutch that would have the genes of the new male, not the old one.

Hobby: Around 30 migrants seem to have arrived in the period May 6 to12. On May 8 at least 6 were at Pulborough Brooks and there have been sightings in the past few days at Fareham, Denmead and Chichester.

Quail: One flushed at Rye Harbour on May 10 was the first I have heard of this year

Avocet: In the light of the many reprimands handed out to people mentioning sightings of 'rare' birds (mainly species that are rapidly increasing their numbers in this country) seen in places where there is minimal chance that they are breeding, or where everyone with an interest in the subject knows that they are breeding, I welcome the decision of the assistant county recorder to tell the birding world that we have had 22 Avocets at Titchfield Haven during April, especially as the reserve management seems want to hush up the fact that any Avocets are present there (by omitting any reference to them in the news put out on the Haven website).

American Golden Plover: One was found by Jason Crook at the Farlington Marshes Deeps on May 11. It stayed for three hours, allowing Jason to confirm its identity by raising its wings to show a grey-brown rather than white 'arm-pit' (this alone does not preclude Pacific Golden Plover but the American bird has longer wings which give a longer projection behind the tail when the bird is on the ground, and Jason noted this) . Its eventual departure seems to have been caused by an aggressive Crow.

Sanderling: This year's spring passage may now be tailing of after a count of 122 passage birds at Rye Harbour on May 1 but May 10 still brought 89 birds to Christchurch Harbour with 55+ there on May 12

Curlew Sandpiper: This week's news contains the first four reports of Curlew Sand for the year. On May 10 one was at Lodmoor near Weymouth, on May 11 one was by the stream at Farlington Marshes, and on May 12 there was one at Bewl Water reservoir in north east Sussex with 2 more at Pulborough Brooks.

Purple Sandpiper: Nine reports this week come from Portland, Christchurch Harbour and Southsea Castle where five were seen on May 8, seven on May 9 and 12 on May 12 (none of the other sites had more than three birds together)

Dunlin: These are now keen to get back to their breeding sites and at Christchurch Harbour 225 were seen on May 9, more than 500 on May 11 and 300+ on May 12. The highest count reported from any other site was of 12 at Titchfield Haven on May 12.

Black-tailed Godwit: Titchfield Haven had 32 on May 4 and 34 on May 6 with no other significant sightings elsewhere.

Bar-tailed Godwit: The last three reports I have seen are of 8 birds at Titchfield Haven on May 6, 4 at Christchurch on May 7 and just one there on May 12 - it seems their passage is over.

Whimbrel: Although these have been seen at more sites than the Godwits in the past week a count of 66 at Christchurch on May 7 was the last of any size (15 were at Portland on May 8 but there has been no double figure count since May 10)

Long-tailed Skua: First report for the year is of a single seen off Portland on May 12. Poms, Arctics and Bonxies continue to flow past

Med Gull: The presence of up to 112 at Titchfield Haven during April suggests that some of them may have stayed to nest there but I have no news of that happening.

Laughing Gull: Last year I recorded 8 reports of this species - ignoring one in the Thames Valley in January the others were in East Sussex in April, May and July. In 2005 there were 18 reports, all between Nov 4 and Dec 11 - twelve of these reports came from Hampshire, mostly centering on Gosport. So far this year I have seen three reports, the first in the Exeter area in the first half of April and now two more possible only sightings in Dorset - Poole Harbour on May 11 and Lodmoor at Weymouth on May 12

Roseate Tern: This week brought the first three reports of the year. The first was at Christchurch Harbour on May 9, then one off Selsey Bill on May 10 and lastly a full summer plumage bird at Titchfield Haven on May 12

Common Tern: The initial shortage of this species seems to be over with counts of 1214 at Dungeness on May 5 and 547 going east through the Solent at Hurst on May 10

Little Tern: I have been wondering what was going to happen about wardening the Hayling Oysterbeds site this summer and on May 9 Jason Crook told us that he has once again got the job of organising the wardening - all he now wants is a few wardens and a few terns. (No doubt both will be forthcoming).

Nightjar: Still no news of any locally but we now have news that at least one was churring at Pulborough Brooks on May 5 following reports from the New Forest, Parkhurst Forest (IoW), Arundel and Portland

Swift: An impressive cloud of 1100+ mixed Swifts, Swallows and Martins, with Swifts in the majority was feeding on insects over Ivy Lake at Chichester on May 10. 261 flew in at Dungeness that day and even Havant saw some - three over in the morning and more interestingly six in the afternoon under low dark clouds with a high wind.

Woodlark: Two birds were seen in eastern parts of the Stansted estate on May 6

Swallow: Christchurch Harbour reported an estimated 2500 newly arrived birds passing over on May 7 and on May 10 the day total at Portland was estimated at 8000 birds.

Red-rumped Swallow: The fourth report for this spring came from Brading sewage works (IoW) on May 10

House Martin: These have been arrving in fair numbers this week and the influx even brought a dozen to the Budds Farm Pools on May 12

Stonechat: A pair were feeding two fledged juveniles on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 12

Willow Warbler: One heard singing in a south Hayling garden on May 11 may have been a newly arrived migrant but could have been breeding there.

Spotted Flycatcher: Tim Doran was lucky to find two passing through the residential area of Cosham (north of Portsmouth) on May 12. Thirty years ago quite a few would have regularly stayed to nest in such gardens

Blue Tit: A pair using a nest box in my neighbour's garden here in Havant seemed to be feeding young by May 12

Chough: An unconfirmed report of one seen on the Culver Cliffs near the Bembridge Foreland (IoW) on May 3 would, if confirmed, have been the first Island record of the species for 125 years.

Raven: I have already seen several reports of young Ravens having already left their nests and on May 12 came news of four more young ready to leave an Isle of Wight nest in a part of the Island where I was not aware that they were nesting. Earlier, on May 7, I read of Ravens near Rye Bay feeding on Swan Mussels in pools that were drying out and exposing the Mussels.

White-throated Sparrow: This is really a Bunting, not a Sparrow, and does not often hitch a trip across the Atlantic as one seems to have done, arriving at the QE Terminal in Southampton Docks on May 12. When last seen it was alive and well but in an area not open to the public.

INSECTS

Butterflies:

22 species were recorded during the past week, none of them new. Common Blue started to become common and both Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Wood White were among the sightings.

Moths:

Tischeria ekebladella (Oak Leaf Miner): First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Caloptilia elongella: New species for my database - first trapped at Horsham on May 6

Elachista argentella: New species for my database - first trapped at Horsham on May 6

Alabonia geoffrella: First record from Bedelands Farm near Burgess Hill on May 11

Celypha lacunana: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Crambus lathoniellus: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Small China-mark: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Cryptoblabes bistriga: New species for my database - first trapped at Horsham on May 6

Fox Moth: First of year at Portland on May 5

Blood-vein: First of year at Pannell Valley near Rye on May 8

Flame Carpet: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Silver-ground Carpet: First of year at Edburton below the Sussex Downs on May 6

Common Marbled Carpet: First at Rusper (Crawley) on May 8

Pine Carpet: First at Rusper (Crawley) on May 8

Mottled Pug: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Ochreous Pug: First at Rusper (Crawley) on May 8

The Seraphim: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Peacock Moth: First of year at Pannell Valley near Rye on May 8

Small Brindled Beauty: First of year at Lovedean near Waterlooville on Apr 20 (Date uncertain)

Clouded Silver: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Small Elephant Hawkmoth: First at Rye Harbour on May 8

Sallow Kitten: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Orange Footman: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Light Feathered Rustic: First at Portland on May 5

Northern Drab: An uncommon species in Hampshire, new to my database, taken at Lovedean (Waterlooville) on May 4

Alder Moth: Firsts of year taken on May 6 at both Lovedean and Horsham

Burnished Brass: First trapped at Horsham on May 6

Straw Dot: First of year at Pannell Valley near Rye on May 8

Other insects

Froghopper: The appearance of 'Cuckoo spit' at Durlston country park on May 12 shows that Common Froghoppers have been at work

Alder Fly: These had started to appear at Rye Harbour on May 12

Birch Sawfly: One seen in Hollybank Woods on May 11 had probably emerged from pupation when it was raining with the result that its wings were washed away before they could dry and harden. The absence of the wings made it difficult to recognize the insect as a fly and its size and large, orange-tipped, clubbed antennae suggested it was a beetle.

Bristly Millipede (Polyxenus lagurus): Photos on the Rye Bay website on May 10 introduced me to this small but distinctive creature. Most millipedes are at least 1 cm long and are easily visible to the naked eye whereas this creature is at most 5 mm long and looks more like a tiny wood louse than a long thin wormlike millipede, but it falls into that group as a result of having two pairs of legs for each of its body segments. It normally lives under loose bark on conifer trees but can turn up almost anywhere - the ones in the photo were on stones at Camber Castle (Rye Bay) and were only spotted when looking closely at the photo of a spider which had been the subject of the shot. When you do see them with a lens you can see why they are named 'Bristly' - tufts of bristles appear at every possible point on the insect's body

PLANTS

Hairy Buttercup: This is difficult to distinguish from the commoner Bulbous Buttercup without pulling up a specimen to see if it has a bulb at the base of its growth and I did this on May 12 to prove that many plants which have just started to flower in the South Moors area are this species (which has no bulb, flowers later than bulbous, has a different tinge to the yellow of its flowers and does not, I think, grow tall as many Bulbous plants do)

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena): Garden escapes flowering in Havant on May 7

Black Mustard: I should have noted this as starting to flower at Emsworth on May 1when Brian Fellows found it 'just starting to show yellow petals' but I have now had a reminder when it was reported as flowering at Durlston country park on May 10

Large Bittercress: I first came across this in full flower with seeds in a south Hayling garden pond on May 11 and then found more of it flowering at the Langstone South Moors on May 12

Lesser Swinecress: This was still flowering in early January but May 7 saw the first of the new season

Sea Kale: This is now at the peak of its flowering season with lots out on the south Hayling shingle on May 11

Horse Radish: The tall white flowers of this appeared by the Hayling Billy trail in Havant on May 8

Fairy Flax: Probably now out on Portsdown but the only report I have seen is from Durlston country park on May 12

Pale Flax: This has been out at Durlston since Apr 17 but my first sighting of it locally was not until May 11 in the Denhill Close open space in the Saltmarsh Lane are of West Hayling

Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum): This garden escape was in flower by the Ferry Inn roundabout on south Hayling on May 11

Annual Pearlwort: I first noticed this in flower on an old wall in Havant on May 7

Tree Lupin: These wild lupins were in full flower on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 11

Sainfoin: This had been reported as in flower at Durlston on Apr 26 but the first local report of it comes from the eastern viewpoint carpark area on Portsdown (just east of the A3 London Road) on May 6

Bladder Senna: The 'tree' on the east side of the Kench (south Hayling) had flowers on May 11 but several of the stems of this plant are now dead and I am not sure how many more years it will survive,

Sweet Briar: The very first lovely pink flowers were open in the old Town Hall carpark (southern end) on the Billy Trail in Havant on May 7. There should soon be a massive bank of it on show there.

Holm Oak: One tree in Havant was covered with fresh catkins on May 10

Common Lime: One tree had flowers in Havant on May 7

Spreading Hedge Parsley: Plants of this are reported to be growing in the arable area of the East Park at Stansted now (but they are not expected to flower until late June or July)

Knotted Hedge Parsley: The flowers are now opening on the plants to be found on the east side of Southmoor Lane in Havant, just south of the Lewmar factory.

Pignut: Brian Fellows found this in flower at the Hollybank Woods (Emsworth) on May 11

Ground Elder: This will be in flower much sooner - one plant had flower buds on May 7

Wild Carrot: The first flowers since January were to be seen at north Hayling on May 11

Common Centaury: Reported as in flower at Durlston on May 11

Privet: Flowers opening on bushes at Hayling Oysterbeds on May 11

Large Bindweed: Two flowers were open on Bulbeck's Wall in Havant on May 7

Cock's Eggs (Salpichroa origanifolia): First few flowers out on the Sinah Common (south Hayling) plants on May 11

Chinese Teaplant: On May 7 masses of the lovely flowers of this plant were hanging over the garden fence immediately north of the 'Lymbourne triangle' wild flower meadow in Havant (now closed to the public by a stout wooden rail). They should also be out in the garden next to the Seagull Lane entrance to Brook Meadow.

Foxglove: First flowers seen on a plant growing beside the Hayling Billy trail in Havant on May 11

Yellow Rattle: Many plants in flower on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 11

Wild Thyme: This was starting to flower at Durlston on May 7 and is probably coming out on Portsdown now.

Field Forget-me-not: What seemed to be the first genuine plants of this were seen by me on May 7 - much smaller than the Wood Forget-me-not look alike which has been seen everywhere as garden escapes for some time

Russian Comfrey: One plant flowering beside the Hayling Coastal Path at the Osyterbeds on May 11

Borage: More of these lovely plants were seen flowering by the Purbrook Heath Road in the Waterlooville area on May 6

Honeywort (Cerinthe major): This is a plant which I had never heard of until John Goodspeed found it on Milton Common in Southsea on May 9. I could not find the name in any wild flower books but see it is a well known garden plant which grows wild on Malta (where they call it Qniepen)

Ivy Broomrape: The distinctive yellow form had re-appeared in the Red Barn estate area of Portchester on May 12 when John Goodspeed found an estimated 12 plants.

Common Broomrape: I first noticed one plant of this flowering in my garden drive way on May 2 and it is now accompanied by two new fresh plants which look extremely like the photos which John Goodspeed took on May 12 of plants with unopen flower spikes growing on Portsdown

Honeysuckle: The first of the 'wild' variety started to flower in my garden on May 7

Sticky Groundsel: I had found this still flowering at south Hayling on Feb 15 and on May 11 I found 'new season' plants in flower there.

Yarrow: Although this seems to flower year round it has in fact not been seen by me since Feb 23 until fresh flowers appeared on May 7

Slender Thistle: A very impressive mass of these plants is now in flower around Southmoor Lane in Havant

Salsify: First report of this comes from Rye Harbour on May 10

Mouse-ear Hawkweed: This was flowering in St Faith's churchyard in Havant on May 7

Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum): John Goodspeed found up to 100 plants making a very pretty and impressive display as garden escapes on Milton Common in Southsea on May 9 (they have apparently flowered there for more than five years)

Early Purple Orchid: Although most flowers are now over Brian Fellows was able to find 323 flower spikes at the Hollybank Woods (Emsoworth) site on May 11 (not as many as the last two years but more than in the preceding three years)

Dense-headed Heath Woodrush: Brian Fellows found this flowering on May 11 in the expected place in Hollybank Woods (Emsworth) along with Compact Rush, Remote Sedge and Spiked Sedge

Wood Millet: This was flowering for the first time on May 11 in the Hollybank Woods

Hare's Tail Grass: The lovely heads of this could be seen at Sinah Common sand dunes on May 11

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: At the Langstone South Moors on May 12, with few other people out on a very windy day, I found a family of four young Fox cubs enjoying the chance to explore the open ground around their bramble covered den and was able to watch them for several minutes at close range. I also had good views of what I took to be the mother of these cubs but she saw me and soon ran for cover.

Common Seal: Ten of these were hauled out on the Thorney Island mudflats when Barry Collins led an SOS party around the island on May 6

Fungus: A Clathrus ruber 'Red cage' fungus was just starting to expand its 'cage' at Durlston country park on May 11


Summary for Apr 30 - May 6 (Week 18 of 2007)

BIRDS

Slavonian Grebe: Two seen off Seaford on Apr 29 may well have been the last until next winter

Black-necked Grebe: One was still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 30 - this species does occasionally breed in southern England so it may not be the last

Fulmar: A count of 166 off Seaford on Apr 30 was presumably a surge of birds heading back north to breed as the only report of more than 40 birds anywhere on the south coast so far this year was a similar peak of 154 going west past Dungeness on Jan 18

Bittern: There have been no reports of them at Titchfield since Jan 27 and reports from the Hastings/Dungeness area ceased on Feb 26 since when the only reports have been from Hatch Pond at Poole in Dorset and they ceased on Mar 26 so news of one flying the wrong way (south) from the Lymington area towards Hurst Castle sounds strange - the more so as the observer originally thought he had seen a Purple Heron, then changed his mind.

Night Heron: Another unconfirmed report is of a Night Heron seen 'somewhere in Hampshire sometime in April'.

Little Egret: It is unusual to hear reports of these seen on cross Channel trips but one was seen to fly in to St Catherine's Point from the south on Apr 30

Glossy Ibis: I have previously mentioned reports of 17 Ibis at Slimbridge on the River Severn, plus another 7 at the Lizard in Cornwall, both present around Apr 25. Now one has turned up at the Breech Pool on the north walls of Pagham Harbour, first seen there on Apr 30 and seen again on May 1 but moving around restlessly, Another arrived at Carters Flood in the Brede valley (Rye Bay area) on May 5. Maybe this is the year in which Ibis start pouring into Britain as the Egrets did in 1989 (or perhaps not)

Mute Swan: A brood of four cygnets had hatched at Southwater country park (Horsham) on Apr 22. Another brood had started to hatch at Sandown (IoW) on Apr 2. Locally a sixth nest has been found in the Emsworth area at the southern end of the Town Millpond - it seems to be the work of an inexperienced pair using litter to construct their nest as they did last year - and as last year they are unlikely to bring off a successful brood.

Brent Goose: Some migrants are still passing along the coast - on Apr 29 a party of 38 flew east past Seaford and on May 1 another 17 were seen there with another 4 on the sea off Christchurch Harbour. Also on May 1 the group of summering birds in the Fishbourne Channel at Chichester was up from 9 to 11 in number. Some migrants still seem to be leaving our area with 9 seen flying east off Stokes Bay at Gosport on May 3 and another 5 going east there on May 4. At Yarmouth (IoW) one of last year's young was seen on its own on May 2 - maybe injured and unable to fly with the others?

Shelduck: On May 5 a pair were still present on the mud just off Warblington farm where there are plently of rabbit burrows for them to nest in.

Red-breasted Merganser: The majority of these have left but one was seen passing Selsey Bill on Apr 30 while Apr 29 brought two sightings of a single passing through the Solent and what may have been the same bird was also seen from Selsey and Seaford

Ruddy Duck: A male was on Ivy Lake at Chichester on Apr 29

Honey Buzzard: May 3 brought coastal sightings from Dungeness and Durlston of birds not necessarily intending to stay in Britain but perhaps straying north of the line many hundreds of these birds take to get to breeding areas in Scandinavia and eastern Europe

Black Kite: One came in off the sea at Beachy Head on Apr 29 and continued north and another flew over Christchurch Harbour on May 2 (only the fourth record for the site).

Montagu's Harrier: A male flew over Dungeness on May 3 and one was tentatively reported going over the Hurst area near Lymington on May 2

Goshawk: An adult male seen flying north over Pagham Harbour on Apr 28 could well have been a genuine arrival from the continent coming to swell numbers of this species in Britain

Sparrowhawk: There are plenty of good reasons for Sparrowhawks to be seen flying with prey (e.g. after being disturbed from the place where they made a kill) but the most likely reason at this time of year is that they have young in the nest and the Christchurch Harbour website suggests that a sighting of an adult there seen carrying prey on May 3 did indicate that some young have now hatched. On May 4 another adult was seen with prey on the IoW and on May 2 I heard plaintive repeated calls from a dense part of Havant Thicket which might have come from hungry young Sparrowhawks in a nest.

Red-footed Falcon: Following reports last week of birds seen in Norfolk and on the Hants/Surrey border near Fleet two more of these falcons turned up at Dungeness on May 3 (with one of them staying to May 4) and another was seen flying north over the New Forest on May 4.

Hobby: We are approaching the time of year when these birds are seen in flocks of 20 or more that have come together on passage (or possibly they have arrived separately but then congregate over insect rich sites to feed up). They soon separate after arrival in breeding areas. I am reminded of this by a report from Dungeness on May 3 saying that at least 9 Hobbies arrived there that afternoon (it does not say they were together)

Grey Partridge: Anyone desperate to tick this species could try the Hunston Golf Centre (just south of Chichester) where ten were seen on May 3

Kentish Plover: First of this year was seen at Portland on May 4

Golden Plover: Most of these have already flown north but a party of six was at Pagham north walls on May 1

Lapwing: The first chicks had hatched at Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Apr 29 and at least one had hatched at Rye Harbour on May 1. Another pair had two chicks in the Pevensey Levels area on May 5. On May 3 at least five birds were still present on the Gipsies Plain (south side of Havant Thicket) but I could not see any chicks there.

Knot: There have been several reports of moderate sized parties (between 20 and 50 birds) in recent days with a peak count of 141 passing Dungeness on Apr 29

Sanderling: These too have decided it is time to start leaving us and May 1 brought counts of 150 passing Seaford and a similar number at Rye Harbour

Little Stint: First passage bird seen at Portland on May 1

Purple Sandpiper: A few still passing - 3 were at Portland on May 3, 8 were at Christchurch Harbour on May 3 and at least 2 were in the Bembridge Foreland (IoW) area on May 4

Woodcock: One was roding in Parkhurst Forest, IoW, on Apr 30. Birds had been seen roding in the Romsey and Lymington areas on Apr 4 and 10 but it is now that we can expect more regular reports of them

Bar-tailed Godwit: A major passage of these started on Apr 27 and on Apr 28 there were counts of nearly 1900 birds seen from both Hurst Spit and St Catherine's Point - latest news for that day is of 3800 passing Dungeness. On Apr 29 the Dungeness count was up to 4120 and on Apr 30 Dungeness had 2255 (with 170 seen from Sandy Point on Hayling and 1875 passing St Catherine's Point). On May 1 Dungeness reported 3985 and Seaford had 1000 birds but with fewer watchers at other sites on a weekday reported numbers were inevitably lower. The biggest counts since May 1 were of 1000 at Dungeness on May 3 and 265 at St Catherine's Point that day

Whimbrel: May 1 brought the biggest counts of passage birds so far with 300 seen at Seaford and 246 leaving the Rye Harbour roost after a night's rest (219 were there on May 2). A count of 415 at Dungeness on May 3 was probably the peak of the passage.

Spotted Redshank: A summer plumage bird was in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Apr 29 and one bird was still present in Poole Harbour on May 4

Wood Sandpiper: One was in the Hastings area at Pett Level on Apr 29

Pomarine Skua: Highest day count to date is of 38 passing Dungeness on Apr 29 and on May 1 Hampshire had a good score with 8 seen in the Lymington/Hurst area

Sabine's Gull: Birdguides reported a first summer bird flying over Hurst beach at Lymington on May 6 and John Clark expressed surprise, saying that this would be the first ever spring record for Hampshire - I wonder if there was confusion with a Little Gull? Subsequently we have been told it was a genuine sighting by Marc Moody and Simon Ingram

Black-headed Gull: First brood chicks were starting to hatch at Rye Harbour on May 1

Arctic Tern: A high count of 280 was reported by Dungeness on Apr 30

Black Tern: Two were at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Apr 29 and a single was seen passing Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 30. On May 1 four birds were off the mouth of the Beaulieu River

Turtle Dove: The first of the year was at Christchurch on Apr 15 and by now I have seen 23 reports covering Hampshire, Sussex and the Isle of Wight. Local news is that on May 1 one was back on north Thorney Island, purring from the wires cross the Little Deeps

Cuckoo: In contrast to Turtle Dove this should be easily heard locally in the second half of April but, while I have heard of 54 reports since the first arrived on Apr 7, the first to arrive in the Havant area were not seen until May 5 when two flew west across Warblington Farm and another was heard calling there. Up to that time the nearest reports were of 2 or more in Stansted Forest where one was in the East Park area for a few days before Apr 25.

Tawny Owl: On May 4 one or more was heard calling by day in the woodland around the Hookheath nature reserve at the northern foot of Portsdown. There could be various reasons for these birds being disturbed but one reason could be concern for young which may now have hatched and climbed out of the nest as they do well before they are able to fly

Nightjar: The first seem to have arrived on Apr 29 when two flew in at Portland and two more were churring in Rewell Wood (just west of Arundel). On Apr 30 one was heard in Parkhurst Forest on the IoW. So far no reports from Havant Thicket or Stansted though several could be heard churring at New Forest sites by May 4

Swift: The first local birds were seen in Emsworth on Apr 29 and 30 with seven over east Havant on May 1 - I have heard no more from Emsworth but here in Havant there has been no further sighting and I suspect none will breed here this year.

Bee Eater: One, maybe two, were seen briefly in the Fleet area west of Weymouth on May 1 but they did not stay. On May 4 one may have flown over the St Catherine's Point area of the IoW but it was heard only and not seen.

Hoopoe: Single birds were at Calshot on Southampton Water and in residential gardens in Weymouth, both seen on Apr 29. On May 4 one turned up in the Lighthouse garden at Portland and was still there on May 5 with a second bird elsewhere on Portland.

Skylark: Four new hatched chicks were seen in a nest near Rye Harbour on Apr 30. It will be at least three weeks before they fledge and have some chance to escape ground predators.

Red-rumped Swallow: One was seen well on May 1 flying along the north Solent shore near the mouth of the Beaulieu River and on May 2 one flew past St Catherine's Point on the IoW

House Martin: Some were seen inspecting last year's nests on houses in the Burgess Hill area of Sussex on Apr 29 and on May 2 I had my first sight of them hawking for insects over the field containing 9 Alpacas on the Prinsted shore, bringing my year list of bird species to 123

Yellow Wagtail: After last week's news of a dead Black-headed bird being found on a container ship at Southampton it is good to be able to report a live sighting of a Blue-headed bird at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Apr 30

Grey Wagtail: On Apr 30 a pair were seen feeding four chicks in a nest near Shide on the IoW and on May 1 I saw two birds at the 'water wheel' in the Langbrook stream passing the Tesco store here in Havant - one was an adult and the other may have been its mate or a youngster.

Robin: One of the birds in my garden comes to perch very close to me when I restock the bird table for it each morning but in Emsworth I hear that one Robin will come to take Corned Beef from the hand of its human friend.

Blue Rock Thrush: One flew in at Selsey Bill on Apr 30 and was seen in nearby fields for about 20 minutes before it flew on.

Fieldfare: What was probably the 'last of the winter wine' was seen at Portland on May 1

Sub-alpine Warbler: Keith Betton tells us that HOS has received a report of one being seen in the Itchen Valley country park on or around Apr 18 (which would tie in with a report of one in Cornwall around Apr 16)

Willow Warbler: These were still arriving on May 1 when 150 reached Portland Bill and on May 4 a major 'fall' brought an estimated 1000 of them down on Portland. Other birds in that fall were 250 each of Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat plus 100 Wheatears, 60 Sedge Warblers, 50 Spotted Flycatchers, 30 Redstarts, 15 Reed Warblers, 12 Pied Flycatchers, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 5 Grasshopper Warblers, a Merlin, a Turtle Dove and a Nightingale.

Firecrest: On May 5 a discussion on the number of Firecrests now breeding in Hampshire, and the variability of the habitat they use, concluded that there has been a noticeable increase in this population, particularly this year.

Spotted Flycatcher: An early arrival was at Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 27 but there had been four earlier reports including one seen in Yorkshire before mid-April. One the south coast one was at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 17 and one at Portland on Apr 22. By May 4 as you can see above there were 50 on Portland.

Raven: The continuing spread of Ravens brought two birds to fly over Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 30 (first record for the site)

Tree Sparrow: A tiny influx of these brought brought around 6 to Portland and another 4 to the IoW on May 3 with some of the birds hanging around at both sites.

Greenfinch: The first juvenile to be reported as out of the nest was in a garden near Crawley on May 3 and the first young House Sparrow was seen in the same gaden on May 4

Yellowhammer: The pair which may have nested on Warblington Farm last year seem unlikely to do so this year (the male returned early, found the bramble bushes around which they were seen last year had been cut down, and vanished), while the three reports of a single bird on the Hayling coastal path that I have for last year may well be down to zero this year, so it is good to hear that Martin Hampton heard one singing as he cycled through Northney village early on May 1. Not far from Havant May 3 brought a report of more than 8 seen at the Hunston Golf Centre just south of Chichester

Corn Bunting: A flock of 10 was on the Sussex Downs at Chantry Hill above Storrington on May 5

INSECTS

DRAGONFLIES

Downy Emerald: First seen in Bentley Wood west of Stockbridge on May 4

Four-spotted Chaser: One at Dungeness on May 2 was first for the year

Beautiful Demoiselle: A young male was seen in the Test valley south of Romsey on Apr 29 was the first and up to 20 were seen in the Crawley area on May 3

Red-eyed Damselfly: First report is of six at Rye Harbour on May 3

Common Blue Damselfly: May 2 brought the first report from Dungeness

Azure Damselfly: The first report comes from the Isle of Wight on Apr 29 followed by one from Rye on Apr 30

Variable Damselfly: A male at Rye Harbour on May 3 was the first

BUTTERFLIES

Small Skipper: A very early sighting on May 1 comes from a site near Dorking in Surrey

Small Blue: The very early report of their emergence on the IoW on Apr 21 has now been followed by five more reports starting with the discovery of at least 8 in the small Portsdown chalkpits beside Hill Road at Portchester on Apr 28. On Apr 29 two were seen on the Sussex Downs and by Apr 30 there were more than 35 flying at the original IoW site on Afton Down and one was seen at Martin Down near Salisbury with another at a different Portsdown site near Fort Widley

Adonis Blue: After three reports from Mill Hill at Shoreham between Apr 24 and 29 this species was seen at Durlston country park on May 1

Red Admiral: Not only have local butterflies been emerging from over-wintering caterpillars but many have arrived as migrants. On Apr 29 Portland reported that there were over 1000 on the island with more pouring in off the sea.

Painted Lady: Two new reports of singles come from Martin22 Down (Apr 22) and Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester (Apr 26) to bring the total of reports for the year so far to eight. Half of the reports have been coastal and I think all the butterflies seen are isolated migrants (as with most of the 26 reports of Clouded Yellow)

Small Tortoiseshell: On May 3 many well grown caterpillars were to be seen in the Crawley area

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary; The fiirst of these was logged at Bentley Wood on May 3

Pearl Bordered Fritillary: These started to appear in mid-April and by Apr 29 at least 118 were seen at one New Forest site

Glanville Fritillary: More than 70 were flying in the Ventnor area on Apr 27 and on Apr 30 half a dozen were out on Afton Down at the other end of the IoW

Wall Brown: A count of 28 on May 2 comes from the Hordle Cliffs near Barton on sea

MOTHS

Skin Moth (Monopis laevigella): First at Rusper (Crawley) on Apr 27

Scoparia pyralella: First report from Mill Hill at Shoreham on Apr 30

Mullein Wave: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

The Gem: First report of this migrant from Portland on Apr 29

Shaded Broad-bar: The first two were seen at Bentley Wood on May 4

Galium Carpet: First report from Portland on May 3

May Highflyer: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

Common Pug: First at Rusper on Apr 27

Small White Wave: First at Rusper on Apr 27

Scalloped Hazel: First record from Portland on May 4

Eyed Hawkmoth: First found at Rye on May 4

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth: Seen at Martin Down on Apr 30 and May 1

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth: The first had been seen near Eastbourne on Apr 20 and on Apr 30 one was seen in Hampshire at Bentley Station Meadow near Alton

Elephant Hawkmoth: First report from Barcombe near Lewes on May 4

Cream-spot Tiger: First at Portland on May 4

White Ermine: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

Turnip Moth: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

Large Yellow Underwing: First found at Portland on May 3

Small Square-spot: Also a first at Portland on May 2

Setaceous Hebrew Character: First report comes from Portland on Apr 29

The Shears: Another first from Portland on May 3

Light Brocade: Also a first at Portland on Apr 29

Common Wainscot: Also Portland on Apr 29

L-album Wainscot: As above

The Miller: First at Southwater (Horsham) on Apr 30

Grey Dagger: First at Portland on May 3

The Coronet: First at Portland on May 4

Treble Lines: First at Barcombe near Lewes on May 4

Vine's Rustic: First at Portland on Apr 29

Mottled Rustic: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

Clancy's Rustic: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

Purple Marbled: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 27

OTHER INSECTS

Hornet: Second report of the year from the New Forest on Apr 29 followed by one from Burgess Hill on May 4

Green Tiger Beetle: The first of these was out hunting in Havant Thicket on May 3

Cardinal beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea): First seen in woods south of Ashford in Kent on May 1

Glow-worm: First report of a female comes from Horsham on Apr 30 but I am not clear if it was glowing by night or found by day

Harlequin Ladybird: First report for this year (also from Horsham on Apr 30) shows they have got off to a good (?) start as it is of a pair mating

Fungus Weevil (Platystomos albinus): Another good find in woods north of Hastings

Shield Bug (Verlusia rhombea): Found at Playden near Rye on Apr 30

PLANTS

Adder’s Tongue Fern: Reports from Durlston on Apr 22 were not clear as to whether the plants there were flowering but a photo of one at Rye Harbour on May 3 shows they wre definitely out by then

Brackish Water-Crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotii): This started flowering at the Homewell Spring in Havant on May 1

Garden Aquilegia: Various garden escapes were flowering in Havant on May 1 suggesting that it might now be worth looking for Wild Columbine at Coulters Dean Bank above Buriton.

Common Fumitory: First for the year found on Idsworth Down on Apr 30

Rock Rose: Flowering on hills north of Andover on May 4

Field Pansy: Another first on Idsworth/Chalton Down on Apr 30

Small-flowered Cranesbill: First flowers at the Juniper Square site in Havant on May 1

False Acacia: Planted trees in Havant were flowering on May 1

Bush Vetch: First of year found beside South Lane leading from Chalton to Finchdean on Apr 30

Smooth Tare: The white flowered Hairy Tare was flowering at Broadmarsh in Havant on Apr 28 and now has been joined by the blue flowered Smooth Tare found in Havant Thicket on May 3

Bitter Vetch: As expected this was flowering in Havant Thicket on May 3 with more plants than usual on show

Rowan Tree: Planted trees in Havant starting to flower on May 1

Bird Cherry: As above

Dog Rose: First flowers seen at Finchdean on Apr 30 with others in Havant on May 1

Tormentil: The first flowers had been seen in Hollybank Woods on Apr 17 so by May 3, when I first came across these flowers in Havant Thicket, they were abundant

Creeping Cinquefoil: First flowers found on tombstones in the old Havant cemetery on May 1

Silver Weed: This was starting to flower at Butser Hill on Apr 28 and I found it in full flower at Havant Thicket on May 3

American Willowherb: The first of the Willowherb tribe had started to flower in Havant by May

White Bryony: Flowering in the Finchdean/Chalton area on Apr 30

Beech: Planted trees in Havant starting to flower on May 1

Ash: This year Oak was flowering exactly a month before Ash had even put out its first leaves which I saw on May 5. I have heard that Oak flowers in response to temperature whereas Ash responds to day length.

Bogbean: Flowering at Durlston country park on Apr 30

Foxglove: Although none were in flower when I visited Havant Thicket on May 5 many plants had buds close to opening and one was showing the colour of its still furled petals

Purple Toadflax: One plant had started to flower in Havant on May 4

Hybrid Water Speedwell: Several plants were flowering at Warblington on May 5

Tufted Forget-me-not: This small flowered plant of wet places was in flower at Warblington on May 5 along with the larger flowered Water Forget-me-not which had first been seen at Emsworth on Apr 26

Common Broomrape: A flowering plant was in my Havant garden on May 2

Guelder Rose: Planted bushes in Havant starting to flower on May 1

Guernsey Fleabane: Two plants in flower in Havant on May 1

Pineappleweed: First found flowering in Havant on May 1

Marsh Thistle: One was flowering in Havant Thicket on May 5

Musk Thistle: In past years I have been surprised by the early dates at which this starts to flower and while I have not seen any locally I saw a lot in flower in the central reservation of A1 in Bedfordshire on Apr 30

Common Cats-ear: Flowering in Havant on May 1

Black Bryony: One plant was flowering at Warblington farm on May 5

Lily of the Valley: The large colony of apparently wild plants which I found in Havant Thicket last year had started to flower on May 5 (I counted 15 plants in flower) but many plants were still pushing up through the ground and there should be more flowers to come.

Garden Asparagus: Self sown plant flowering on the edge of the New Lane allotments in Havant on May 1

Marsh Arrowgrass: This had started to flower in the SSSI marsh at Warblington by May 5

OTHER WILDLIFE

Roe Deer: By May 5 a buck seen at Durlston was in its summer coat and its antlers were free of velvet and ready for use

Dolphin species: A pod of around 6 Dolphins were seen off the mouth of Chichester Harbour from Sandy Point on Apr 28 by someone unfamiliar with cetaceans. He thought they might be Common Dolphins and I thought this likely as there had been a sighting of 25 Common Dolphins off Portland on Apr 22 but two people have suggested they are more likely to have been Bottle-nose Dolphins. One person said Common rarely come east of Portland (and this is borne out by the reports I have seen in recent years) while the other said he had regularly seen Bottle-nosed there when sailing out of Chichester Harbour to go fishing.


Summary for Apr 23 - 29 (Week 17 of 2007)

BIRDS

Manx Shearwater: Now starting to appear in the channel in large numbers. First report of 50+ was from Portland on Apr 26 and 100 were seen there on Apr 28 when a group of 15 were seen in Hampshire waters west of Hurst spit

Glossy Ibis: Not local but on Apr 25 a flock of 17 Ibis (in summer plumage) were in the Severn estuary near Slimbridge (and I think there was a second group of them in Cornwall)

Black Swan: The 'captive' birds at West Ashling pond near Chichester numbered 7 when Brian Fellows was there on Apr 24. Up to Aug 2005 I had never seen more than 2 birds there but at the end of Oct 2005 Brian found 6 birds there and in 2006 one pair had 4 cygnets. Maybe there is an area there where the birds can be out of sight of the public (though the whole of the pond seems to be open to public view) as I could only see four adult birds there on Jan 1 this year but maybe there are at least 10 birds are actually present with only some of them appearing on the lake at any one time?

Greylag Goose: The first Greylag gosling of the year was seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 21

Brent Goose: Although all the local migrant birds seem to have departed they are still passing through the channel - 216 were seen to go east past Bognor on Apr 20 and seawatchers at Seaford counted 192 heading east on Apr 21 and another 232 on Apr 22 (when 179 were seen passing Dungeness). Summering birds include 9 seen in Fishbourne Channel (Chichester) on Apr 23 and 8 seen in the mouth of the Hermitage stream at Broadmarsh (Langstone Harbour) on Apr 27

Mallard: Mallard ducklings have been on view at Langstone pond through the past week and on Apr 27 there were 14 ducklings on the Warblington cressbeds - probably all one family as just one male has been on regular guard duty there for some time.

Garganey: On Apr 26 a party of 4 birds (presumably newly arrived) were on the sea off Worthing before flying north east

Common Scoter: As with Brent these are still passing up channel in large numbers. On Apr 21 a total of 569 were seen from Seaford and on Apr 22 Dungeness logged 930. At least 80 flew past Rye Harbour on Apr 28

Velvet Scoter: 3 flew past St Catherine's Point on Apr 21 and 4 were seen from Seaford on Apr 22

Goosander: These have been breeding intermittently in the Hampshire Avon valley since the first record of breeding in 1998 and it seems that at least one family has already hatched 'somewhere in Hampshire' this year as on Apr 28 John Clark announced that he had just received a photo of one adult with 10 ducklings (though he does not say when the photo was taken - presumably it is current but it could be from a previous year)

Honey Buzzard: The sixth report for this year comes from Pulborough Brooks where an adult female flew over on Apr 25

Black Kite: Lee Evans tells us on Apr 25 of one in Norfolk and on Apr 28 one was seen in Dorset at Longham on the River Stour just north of Bournemouth

Montagu's Harrier: A few of these are hopefully now arriving in this country and news of them will, quite rightly, not be broadcast but a close sighting of one at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough was reported on Apr 20. Since then there has been a late report of a Hen Harrier at Portland on Apr 24

Buzzard: Of local interest there was another sighting of two (maybe three) over Warblington Farm on Apr 27

Osprey: There were sightings at Pagham Harbour on both Apr 22 and 23, probably of different birds passing through. Since then one has been seen over Horsham on Apr 25 and another over the west side of Poole Harbour on Apr 27

Red-footed Falcon: A motorist on the M3 thought he saw one in the Camberley/Hawley area on the Hampshire border on Apr 24 .... Lee Evans summary of rare birds in Britain for the week preceding Apr 25 lists one in Norfolk

Merlin: A few are still passing through on their way north and Apr 21 brought sightings from both Pagham Harbour and Hurst near Lymington and the latest report comes from Portland on Apr 28

Hobby: We now have 37 reports of perhaps 45 birds. The first was at Horsham on Apr 3, the latest reports are of birds in Dorset, Hants, Isle of Wight, Sussex and Kent with reports on Apr 28 from Fishbourne (Chichester) and Stokes Bay (Gosport)

Avocet: It looks as if it will not be many years before these are as common along the south coast in the breeding season as they have been for a long time in East Anglia. Currently there are at least 17 birds at Titchfield Haven, 11 at Rye Harbour and 'many' at Pett Level pools and I am pretty sure there will be others in Poole Harbour and other Dorset coastal sites.

Lapwing: A long walk taken by Alan Kitson around the Adur valley area on Apr 28 passed through places where at least 5 pairs should have been found breeding based on experience up to and including last year but none could be found on Apr 28. In contrast to that Tony Gutteridge found 'many' in fields around West Dean (Chichester) on Apr 26 and he even saw one on the Warblington fields on Apr 27 (probably the same bird that he saw there in Apr 18 and not thought to be breeding - just lost)

Godwits: Although I have not seen any definite news of Blackwits leaving the south coast (though on Apr 29 there was news of just one of our local birds arriving in Iceland) it looks as if there was a substantial departure sometime between Apr 20 (when a flock of 130 birds was in Fishbourne Channel near Chichester and 100+ were to be found at Farlington Marshes) and Apr 23 (when the Fishbourne count was down at 23 or less and there were less than 50 at Farlington with all other sites showing similar decreases). These Blackwits fly north overland when they leave us and so are not reported at seawatching sites along the channel but Bar-tails do follow the coast and there was a significant peak in their numbers on Apr 22 when 190 went past Seaford and 607 were logged at Dungeness. Another surge went through on Apr 27 bringing counts of 116 at Seaford, 310 at St Catherine's Point, 138 at Portland and 520 at Dungeness. Next day saw an even bigger movement with 1885 logged passing St Catherine's Point and 1842 (probably the same birds hugging the south coast of the Island) seen from Hurst spit

Whimbrel: The lovely repetitive whistling of these birds has become common in the Langstone area within the past week but I have yet to hear the magnificent sound of a group of them heading north high overhead. Plenty have been moving east along the coast and the number roosting at Rye Harbour reached 109 on Apr 21 and then increased to 132 on Apr 22 and 135 on Apr 25 (counts since then have declined slightly to 116 on Apr 28)

Wood Sandpiper: A single bird was seen at Titchfield Haven on Apr 14 and 15, then on Apr 25 and 26 one appeared at Brading Marsh on the IoW. Now, on Apr 28, one has been seen at Stokes Bay (Gosport). In view of the scarcity of spring reports of this species, and the absence of any other reports from south coast sites, I suggest this is the same bird alternating between the Hampshire mainland and the Island.

Pomarine Skua: The first bird of the year passed Portland on Apr 19 and by Apr 25 I had recorded 19 reports seemingly covering 111 birds. Birling Gap on Beachy Head recorded 13 birds on Apr 20 and Dungeness logged 27 on Apr 22 and 22 on Apr 27. Counts from Selsey so far total just 19 birds. Both Arctic and Great Skuas have also been seen in large numbers - 50 Arctics at Seaford on Apr 22 and 21 Bonxies at Dungeness on Apr 23 with smaller numbers daily.

Little Gull: Huge numbers have been reported passing along the French side of the Channel this spring but a few have come over to the north giving counts at Seaford of 415 on Apr 21, 268 on Apr 22 (at nearby Birling Gap). Highest count was 500 at Dungeness on Apr 21

Lesser Blackback Gull: One seen at Longham on the R Stour north of Bournemouth on Apr 25 was possibly a Baltic race bird (and one adult British race bird at Broadmarsh on Apr 28 gave me my 120th species tick for this year)

Common Tern: A count of 575 at Dungeness on Apr 21 shows that there are now plenty in British waters. The first few were in the north of Langstone Harbour off the South Moors on Apr 28

Little Tern: These started to arrive in the English Channel on Apr 12 and are now being widely seen in small numbers. I went to the Hayling Oysterbeds at high tide (when they are most likely to be seen) on Apr 24 and found three there (two actually landing on the island in the lagoon) and at the next high tide on the morning of Apr 25 two were briefly seen over the water between Warblington and Northney. On Apr 28 the count at Selsey Bill was 34

Black Tern: The first to be seen on the south coast was at Beachy Head on Apr 21 with others seen at Dungeness, St Catherine's Point. Titchfield Haven and the Lymington area on the same day. I now have 13 reports of Black Tern up to Apr 28 (when one was heading up the Hampshire Avon past Blashford)

Guillemot: The first report of a Guillemot egg being laid came from the Dorset cliffs at Durlston on Apr 24

Puffin: These are not often seen in Hampshire waters so a sighting of two at Hurst Spit (Lymington) on Apr 21 was noteworthy

Turtle Dove: These have now been seen at seven coastal sites between Apr 15 and 27 - all sightings of single birds until two were seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 25

Ring-necked Parakeet: One flying in off the sea at Selsey Bill on Apr 21 was a surprise to those who saw it (but I'm pretty sure it was a bird of British origin and had not come all the way from central Africa or southern Asia!).

Swift: I now have 45 reports covering some 377 birds and including counts of 26 over the Chichester lakes on Apr 23 and 30 at Longham (near Bournemouth) in Dorset that day. 10 were seen at Titchfield Haven on Apr 21 and 75 went over Christchurch Harbour on Apr 28

Hoopoe: One was at Calshot (mouth of Southampton Water) on Apr 24 and may still be there. A different bird was at Swanwick on the R Hamble on Apr 25 and sightings at Portland on Apr 25 and at Sherborne on Apr 27 may be of the same bird

Red-rumped Swallow: One flew south at Dungeness on Apr 21 and on Apr 28 two were reported from the Pett Level area on Rye Bay

Yellow Wagtail: There have been no definite reports of these birds breeding anywhere in Hampshire since 2002 and none are expected this year but thankfully the birds still pass over the south coast in spring and autumn allowing me to get one on my year list at Warblington on Apr 25. The 76 reports I have seen this spring total something like 319 birds, including a 'fall' of more than 77 at Portland on Apr 22. One Blue-headed bird was at Portland on Apr 24 and on Apr 28 a Black-headed bird (of the Middle Eastern feldegg race?) was found dead on a container ship being unloaded at Southampton.

Dunnock: A pair feeding young at Pennington on Apr 28

Robin: A pair had fledged young out of the nest near Crawley on Apr 23

Nightingale: One was back and singing at the Marlpit Lane site (east of Emsworth) on Apr 22 and two were singing there on Apr 26

Whinchat: These have been back since Apr 11 and I now have 39 reports of them including my own close view of a smart male on the north pier of the old Hayling Billy rail bridge at Langstone on Apr 28

Reed Warbler: One arrived back at Peter Pond in Emsworth on Apr 21 when they had already been back for a few days at Farlington Marshes (no first date given). By Apr 25 the first was at Langstone Pond and on Apr 27 one had reached the Warblington reed bed

Dartford Warbler: A male was feeding young at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 28

Wood Warbler: Just eight reports so far including on singing on both Apr 22 and 24 at Stanley Common (just east of Liphook near Haslemere)

Spotted Flycatcher: The first to be reported from the south coast was at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 17. The next was at Portland on Apr 22 and the latest was at Christchurch on Apr 24

Golden Oriole: The first report came from Dungeness on Apr 21 when a single bird flew east over the Bird Observatory. Since then one has been singing at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 28

Starling: Since the winter flocks left us at the end of February I have not seen a single report of anyone seeing more than 8 birds together (and days go by without my seeing one at all here in Havant) so it was a pleasant surprise to find a flock of at least 40 birds together in the Warblington farm fields around the feet of cattle on Apr 25.

Serin: One was at Portland on Apr 21 and one was heard calling as it flew over the Hurst area of the west Solent on Apr 27

Linnet: Two pairs were feeding young in the Lymington area on Apr 28

Bullfinch: It is rare to hear a report of this fairly common bird singing but Cliff Dean managed to hear one in the Pett area north of Hastings on Apr 21

Cirl Bunting: I believe that these were saved from extinction on Britain at farms in Devon where fields were left with seed crops through the winter, starting many years back, and we may now have a sign that these birds are now spreading out again - one was seen in the Abbotsbury area of Dorset on Apr 26. The internet tells me they reached a low of just 118 pairs in 1989 and there are now at least 700 pairs (so their status is still critical)

Reed Bunting: One pair is still present on the Warblington farm this year where I had seen them on three dates in March but not recently. This week the male has been heard singing on both Apr 25 and 27. Others can be heard at Thorney Little Deeps

Corn Bunting: There is still a possibility of hearing one within cycling distance of Havant this year - on Apr 26 Brian Fellows heard one singing near Racton Park Farm (in the Ems valley) where it seemed to be holding territory last year also. Further off one has been heard in the Adur valley area of West Sussex while in Dorset a flock of 20 was found at Tarrant Rushton airfield (just east of Blandford) on Apr 27

INSECTS

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: First of the year at Titchfield Haven on Apr 21 followed by on at Rye Harbour on Apr 22

Broad-bodied Chaser: There was a long gap between Tony Gutteridge's sighting of one at Warblington on Apr 18 and the next report from Heyshott Common near Midhurst on Apr 27

Blue-tailed Damsel: The first of these came out in the Hastings area on Apr 25 to join the Large Red which first appeared on Apr 8

Butterflies (New species for the year only)

Wood White: First seen at Botany Bay wood near Chiddingfold in Surrey on Apr 21

Small Blue: Just one report of more than ten seen at Afton Down (Freshwater IoW) on Apr 21 - assuming they were correctly identified it seems odd that there have been no other reports of them so far

Brown Argus: The first report of these also came from Afton Down on Apr 21 but there have now been six subsequent reports from three other sites

Common Blue: First was seen at Browndown (Gosport) on Apr 22 and this has been followed by sightings at Kingley Vale (Chichester) and Stockbridge Down (where 4 were out) plus others in Sussex. I have not included a garden sighting reported from Havant on Apr 26 as this could have been a mis-identified Holly Blue sighting.

Adonis Blue: The first was seen on Mill Hill at Shoreham on Apr 24 and two were there on Apr 28

Glanville Fritillary: These were out in force on Apr 27 when more than 70 were seen at the Wheeler's Bay (Bonchurch undercliff) site at Ventnor, IoQ

Moths (First records)

Eriocrania subpupurella: Five taken in woodland at Horsham on Apr 24

Common Swift: First report from Portland on Apr 24

Incurvaria masculella: Also in Horsham woods on Apr 24

Nemophora metallica: This was a tentative name put forward for a species of Longhorn moth seen on Chalton Down north of Rowlands Castle on Apr 28 but as this is listed by Mike Wall as a Hampshire rarity whose only records are in July (and which has never yet appeared in any of the reports I have seen over the years) I think this name is dubious.

Tinea trinotella: First record from Horsham on Apr 24

Roeslerstammia erxlebella: A new one to me - also taken at Horsham on Apr 24

Brown House-moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella): Taken at Rusper (Crawley) on Apr 24

Agonopterix yeatiana: Taken at Horsham on Apr 23

Neofaculta ericetella: Also taken at Horsham woods on Apr 24

Syndemis musculana: As above

Pine Bud Moth (Pseudococcyx turionella): As above

Spotted Shoot Moth (Rhyacionia pinivorana): As above

Pammene argyrana: As above

Pyrausta despicata: Seen at Stockbirdge Down on Apr 28

Oak Hook-tip: First seen on Apr 23 at both Horsham and Pulborough Brooks

Pebble Hook-tip: First seen by day on Great Litchfield Down near the A34 in north Hampshire

The Mocha: Seen at two sites in Horsham (where the species is relatively common) on Apr 23 and 24

Birch Mocha: Also seen at Horsham on Apr 24

Maiden's Blush: First report is from Pulborough Brooks on Apr 23

Red Twin-spot Carpet: First seen at Horsham on Apr 24

Water Carpet: As above

Broken-barred Carpet: As above

Oak-tree Pug: First at Rusper (Crawley) on Apr 22

Sloe Pug: First seen at Horsham on Apr 24

Treble-bar: First at Shoreham Mill Hill by day on Apr 24 - pair seen mating

Tawny-barred Angle: First seen at Horsham on Apr 24

Speckled Yellow: First report from Hastings country park on Apr 26 followed by Stansted Forest on Apr 27

Peppered Moth: First at PulboroughBrooks on Apr 23

Square Spot: First seen at Horsham on Apr 24

Common Heath: First seen by day on Apr 27 at a site just south of Fawley Power Station on Southampton Water

Bordered White: Another first at Horsham on Apr 24

Common White Wave: First seen in the Horsham area on Apr 22

Common Wave: As above

Yellow Belle: First report from Rye Harbour on Apr 25

Pine Hawkmoth: First seen at Horsham on Apr 24

Poplar Hawkmoth: First seen at Horsham on Apr 23

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth: First seen in Abbot's Wood near Hailsham (Eastbourne) on Apr 20

Buff-tip: First seen at Fernhurst near Haslemere on Apr 27

Coxcomb Prominent: First at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 23

Ruby Tiger: First seen at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 22

Cinnabar Moth: The first isolated report was from Rye on Mar 30. Not until Apr 22 did the start to appear generally with further reports from different sites on Apr 23, 24 and 28

Heart and Dart: First seen at Horsham on Apr 23

Beautiful Yellow Underwing: First seen on the Sussex Downs above Worthing on Apr 22

Tawny Shears: First at Rye Harbour on Apr 25

Small Clouded Brindle: First at Horsham on Apr 23

Marbled Minor species: First at Portland on Apr 25

The Four-spotted: First at Portland on Apr 28

Other Insects

Bibio hortulanus: A fairly common relative of St Mark's Fly - looks similar but females have red colouring on them. Seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 26

Myathropa florea: This fairly common hoverfly was out at Rye Harbour on Apr 27

Hornet: First sighting of the year was one flying in the Idsworth area north of Rowlands Castle on Apr 21

Andrena cineraria: This black and white mining bee is a relative of the Tawny Mining Bee and was seen in the Hastings area on Apr 22

Cockchafer: These have appeared two weeks earlier than usual. First seen at both Rusper (Crawley) and Rye town on Apr 22

Pine Weevil: One found near Hastings on Apr 22 was apparently only the second record for Sussex but this is probably due to others being misidentified at the much commoner Vine Weevil

Bridge spider (Larinioides sclopetarius): This is one of a group of spiders which make untidy orb webs and prefer to do so on human constructions near water (hence a preference for bridges). They are apparently very common in northern Europe and have now invaded Britain since Dick Jones published his comprehensive 'Country Life Guide to Spiders' (my main source of Spider info) in 1983 as the whole genus is absent from that book.

Google takes you to http://www.nicksspiders.com/nicksspiders/larinioidessclopetarius.htm which is well worth a visit to see pictures of a waterside underpass in Lincoln (similar to the one here in Havant under the A27 taking the footpath south from Tescos beside the Langbrook stream) which is so infested with these spiders that someone has painted a dividing line along the middle of the walkway and marked one side for human walkers and the other for spiders (in the way we share paths between cyclists and walkers).

This website also told me two things I did not previously know about Argioppe bruennichi (Wasp Spider) - one is that the tiny male mates with the huge female just after she has shed her last juvenile skin and while her chelicerae (the ‘jaws’ with which she would normally grab and eat the impudent male) are still soft and lack the strength to hold him. The other thing was the females method of dealing with a Bombardier Beetle should he get caught in her web - fearful of the noxious liquid which he tries to fire at her she does not attempt to kill the beetle but quickly wraps him in silk which prevents the liquid from spraying out onto her body - he continue to fire his ‘gun’ in vain within the silk cloak.

The reason for this mention of Bridge Spiders is that a related species (Larinioides cornutus) was found at Rye Harbour on Apr 24

PLANTS

Marsh Horsetail: Seen on the Langstone South Moors on Apr 27

Adder's Tongue Fern: A mention of this being seen at Durlston country park on Apr 22 suggest that it might now be found at local sites (e.g. Farlington Marshes 'Slip Field' or beside Scott Road on the south side of Hilsea ramparts)

Common Poppy: One flower seen in a Bedhampton garden on Apr 23

Greater Celandine: Flowering in Havant town on Apr 27 (and at Pyle Farm near Horndean on Apr 29)

Field Pennycress: This had been still flowering in January but the first flowers of the new season were out at Southmoor Road in Havant on Apr 28 (seeds showed they had been flowering for some time)

Sea Kale: This was nearly in flower on the south Hayling shore on Apr 20 and by Apr 24 it was fully out at Rye Harbour

Ragged Robin: The first few plants were in flower by the two streams at Warblington farm on Apr 25

Bog Stitchwort: This was also out at Warblington by the eastern stream on Apr 25

Tree Mallow: This had started flowering beside the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on Apr 22 and on Apr 28 I saw one of the distinctive flowers on the eastern island at Budds Farm

Cranesbills: Although neither is a first flowering it may be of interest to know that both Shining and Round-leaved Cranesbills are starting to appear at new sites in Havant. This week I found Shining Cranesbill at the south end of the footbridge over the railway where it meets Staunton road in Bedhampton and later found more in Fairfield Road close to my home while Round-leaved is once again flowering in the small flower bed south of the main entrance to Havant Railway Station (among lots of Common Storksbill)

Hedgerow Cranesbill: This year's first flowers were seen on the seawall of Emsworth marina on Apr 21

Subterranean Clover: The first two flowers caught my eye when in the Warblington Farm SSSI field on Apr 25

Hairy Tare: First flowers seen on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' on Apr 28

Sainfoin: This lovely plant was flowering at Durlston on Apr 26 and may be out on Portsdown

Silverweed: Just starting to flower on Butser Hill on Apr 28

Spindle: A tree in Warblington churchyard was in flower on Apr 25

Sycamore: Flowers were dangling from at least one tree in Havant on Apr 24

False Oxlip: Seven flowering plants seen at Bentley Station Meadow near Alton on Apr 22

Common Centaury: This is mentioned on the Durlston country park website as if it were in flower there on Apr 22. As it normally does not flower until June I am not sure if this was entry was a mistake

Bittersweet: This nightshade was flowering in Southmoor Lane, Havant, on Apr 27

Germander Speedwell: My first find of this in flower was on Apr 23

Eyebright: This was also listed on the Durlston website as being in flower on Apr 22

Water Forget-me-not: This had started to flower by the R Ems at Brook Meadow on Apr 26

Marsh Valerian: First flowering at Warblington Farm by the eastern stream on Apr 25

Slender Thistle: Just two ro three of the thousands of plants at the southern end of Southmoor Lane had started to flower on Apr 28

Herb Paris: Flowering on the northern slopes of Butser Hill on Apr 28

Solomon's Seal: Also flowering on Butser on Apr 28

Sea Club Rush: Flowering at Emsworth on Apr 26

Spring Sedge: What seems very likely to be Spring Sedge was found in the South Moors orchid field on Apr 27

Grey Sedge: Flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and in my Havant Garden on Apr 26

Spiked Sedge: Found in Brook Meadow on Apr 22

Meadow Grasses: Both Rough and Smooth species were flowering at Brook Meadow on Apr 26

False Fox Sedge: Out in the Warblington Farm SSSI marsh on Apr 25

Plicate Sweetgrass: Spreading its spikelets prior to flowering at Warblington Farm on Apr 25

OTHER WILDLIFE

Common Dolphin: A pod of at least six Dophins seen feeding off the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Apr 28 were probably Common Dolphins, of which 25 had been off Portland on Apr 22

Water Vole: One was seen in a new site (in the canalised section of the Lumley Mill Stream immediately south of Westbourne church) shortly before Apr 21. There have been few sightings in Emsworth this year - the eleventh report from Brook Meadow came on Apr 23

Slow Worm: These have recently become active with three sightings since Apr 20, the latest being of a family group seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 26 - the youngster in this group was boldly coloured gold and black and the female was the largest of the three and had a black stripe down the front part of her body. In this report it is said that Slow Worms can live for 54 years (maybe more).

Brook Lamprey: We recently heard that Lampreys had been seen in the Dockens Water stream near Ringwood on Apr 6 and I now read of a recent sighting in the Brede valley (west of Rye) with news of Brown Trout in the same stream.

Dryad's Saddle fungus: A large specimen was found on Apr 28 growing on a fallen tree at Butser Hill


Summary for Apr 16 - 22 (Week 16 of 2007)

BIRDS

Late news

The following entries relate to input received since my Saturday cut-off

Black Tern: The first Hampshire sighting was at Hurst in the west Solent on Apr 21 (along with 2 Puffins). Another Black Tern was seen at Titchfield Haven on the same day and what was probably the same bird appeared briefly at Budds Farm on the same day

Yellow Wagtail: Portland had an exceptionally large count of more than 75 Yellows Wagtail on Apr 22

Bullfinch: One was heard singing in the Pett Level area on Apr 21, something I have only heard once in my life. Cliff Dean, who heard this one, writes .. "A Bullfinch was singing in the blackthorn - not rare but rather reclusive, and not everyone would realise that this melancholy little wheezing was meant to be a song"

Hairy Dragonfly: First of the year seen at Titchfield Haven on Apr 21

Wood White: The first of the year were seen at Botany Bay wood in Surrey on Apr 21

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth: First of the year seen in Abbots Wood (north of Eastbourne) on Apr 20

Hornet: The first to be reported this year was seen in the area of Old Idsworth Farm on Apr 21

Pine Weevil: One was found and photographed near Hastings recently and the finder believes that the only other Sussex record of this species was in 1973

Hedgerow Cranesbill: This was flowering on the wall of Emsworth Marina on Apr 21

At Durlston on Apr 22 Common Centaury, Eyebright, and Adder's Tongue Fern were all reported as 'flowering'. Interestingly they only found their first Rue-leaved Saxifrage in flower on that day whereas it has been out in Havant since Mar 11

Common Dolphin: 25+ off Portland on Apr 22

Earlier news

Cattle Egret: Although there had been a couple of brief one-off sightings in February (one in Sussex, one in Devon) the first indication that spring movements may bring some of these into our area comes from the arrival of two of them at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 15. No more news of them up to Apr 21

Little Egret: I watched the Langstone Pond roost on the evening of Apr 19 and saw at least 27 Egrets come to the roost but only 13 seemed to stay after three separate disturbances caused parties of the birds to come out of the trees and head for Thorney Island. What caused the disturbances was uncertain - I think the first three birds to arrive, which remained in the trees for 15 minutes, may have decided that no others were coming to join them and so flew off to find somewhere with a busier night life, later eleven birds shot out of the trees when a Pheasant 'crowed' loudly while at other times birds would arrive and circle the roost as if checking who was there, then eventually fly off as if they could not see any of their friends and were going to look for them elsewhere.

Grey Heron: I think of these as always nesting in tall trees whenever they are available (though I am aware that they will nest on the ground in some treeless places such as the northern isles) so I am surprised to read two reports on Derek Hale's Isle of Wight birding website of up to five Herons being seen at 'nests in reeds' somewhere in the Fishbourne-Binstead area of the north eastern shore of the island. I realise that this phrase may be a loose one and refer to nests in trees standing among reeds but I would like to find out more ... By Apr 20 there were young in seven tree nests at Winchelsea.

White Stork: One flew west over the Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset on Apr 16 but has not been reported since. The only other report of a White Stork that I have seen this year was of one over Worthing on Mar 25

Mute Swan: Brian Fellows saw five different Swan nests in a short walk on Apr 15 from Brook Meadow in Emsworth to the Little Deeps on Thorney Island. The first two (on Peter Pond and the Slipper Pond in Emsworth) have had several previous mentions but the next two (one near the boat entrance to Emsworth marina and the other on the pond in the grounds of the Osprey Quay 'Stilt House' complex south of the marina) get their first mention this year. The fifth nest in the Little Deeps has also been mentioned before. All five have sitting birds and the Peter Pond nest has a full clutch of 8 eggs.

Black Swan: A report from Richard Ford that a pair at Headley Mill Pond in east Hampshire currently have small downy cygnets immediately raised a question in my mind as this seemed a significant deviation from what I have always understood to be the 'unalterable' antipodean biological rhythm of these birds, causing them to nest in our autumn and to hatch their chicks in the depths of our winter. Before I could fire off a query about this several other people raised the same point, and I think the outcome has been that, while the majority of Black Swans still breed in our autumn and winter these birds at Headley may be among the first to start to adapt to their new environment in the northern hemisphere (natural selection should eventually cause them to change their habits!), but more pertinently this pair failed in their first attempt at breeding last autumn and the recent hatching of young is the outcome of a second, late in their season, nest.

Brent Goose: The departure of the winter birds seems to be effectively complete by now. Counts of birds flying east past Dungeness were 340 on Apr 9 and 600 on Apr 10 with none seen there since. I was still able to see 31 birds in the north of Langstone Harbour on Apr 12 and there was a count of 90 birds passing the Worthing area on Apr 15 but on Apr 16 the biggest flock I could find was of just two birds at the mouth of Stoke Bay (south side of the Hayling Oysterbeds). There was a further small passage on Apr 20 when up to 25 were seen passing St Catherine's Point and 44 went past Selsey.

Egyptian Goose: A group of 6 birds at Petworth Park had a single gosling with them on Apr 15

Shelduck: While a good many pairs still nest in our area the majority of the birds we see in winter move elsewhere to breed and small parties are still moving east. A group of 12 birds on the Warblington shore on the evening of Apr 19 were probably pausing there to rest and feed before moving on overnight.

Teal: A count of around 70 still at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 16 seemed to show that either Teal are the last of the winter wildfowl to leave us or that large numbers are planning to stay and breed here this year.

Garganey: Six reports this week, all from different sites, show that the birds are still arriving (once they get to their destinations and settle down to nest they are likely to become 'invisible' to us). One pair that were clearly still en route were seen on Apr 18 on the sea off the south west shore of the Isle of Wight near the Hanover Point 'fossil forest'

Common Scoter: These are still moving east in fair numbers - the peak day this week was Apr 19 when 130 went past Portland and 114 were seen from St Catherine's Point. Some fly close inshore giving sightings of 45 from Sandy Point (Hayling) on Apr 16 and 35 from Stokes Bay (Gosport) on Apr 20

Velvet Scoter: The long staying bird in Portland Harbour has not been seen since Apr 8 and I thought the report of one passing Dungeness on Apr 9 was the last but one was seen from Selsey Bill on Apr 20

Goldeneye: These too seemed to have left us at the start of April but three redheads were still at the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on Apr 17

Red-breasted Merganser: Reports of these seemed to end on Apr 15 but a flock of 22 flew past Dungeness on Apr 17

Goosander: Just two isolated reports of late birds - on Apr 14 one was seen at Cowards Marsh on the Avon just north of Christchurch and on Apr 19 a male was at Testwood Lakes near Southampton

Honey Buzzard: I am not sure if there is someone in the Bournemouth area who has difficulty in distinguishing Honey from Common Buzzards or if all sightings from more rural areas are suppressed 'to prevent knowledge of the birds' presence reaching the dreaded eggers' but there is a report of 2 Honey Buzzards flying north west over Christchurch on Apr 14 and another of 2 also going north west over Bournemouth on Apr 16. These two reports follow three other reports of single birds arriving over Pagham Harbour on Apr 3, 5 and 6 and give an impression the 'ponies are in' early this year. (I believe that the phrase 'the ponies are in' was once a code used between birders who targetted this species in the past - but perhaps that code is better known to the eggers than to innocent birders)

Goshawk: The videocam trained on a New Forest Goshawk nest is now in operation at the Reptiliary just off the A35 a little west of Lyndhurst. Through it you can see a nest with four eggs parented by a female still wearing the remains of jesses to show her origin as an escaped falconer's bird and a male wearing a BTO ring to show that it is perhaps a second generation escapee (ringed in a nest where perhaps both parents were escapees).

Buzzard: When at Warblington on Apr 18 I had another sighting of two birds though they were not over the farm but over the Denvilles residential area of east Havant

Osprey: One was seen in the Pilsey area of Chichester Harbour on Apr 16 - first in the morning and then in the afternoon so maybe the bird will stay longer though I have heard no more of it later in the week.

Hobby: These are now arriving daily with six reports this week, all from different sites from Dorset to the Kent border

Golden Pheasant: In the past 20 years feral populations of these have vanished from the QE country park in Hampshire and from several Sussex sites (principally Kingley Vale and the West Dean Woods). The 2005 Sussex Bird Report is the first to have no mention of the species and the 2004 report has only one mention of a bird seen in the Dean Lane End area between Stansted Forest and Finchdean. Perhaps the species is not yet extinct as we now have two early April sightings of a young (first summer) bird being seen in the Ringmer area near Lewes

Coot: The first report of chicks hatching came from Rye Harbour on Apr 5 and on Apr 16 the first local report of them came from a nest in the Emsworth Slipper Pond. On Apr 19 Brian Fellows noticed the parents of these birds passing food items between themselves before giving them to the chicks (perhaps the concept of 'modern man' has just reached the Coots, leaving them puzzled as to whose job it is to feed the children?)

Common Crane: Two birds flew in to Pulborough Brooks on the evening of Apr 18 but left again at 10am next morning.

Stone Curlew: In my last weekly summary I reported the first of the year as being seen at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 13. I now see from Lee Evans latest national round-up of rarity news that two other arrived sometime in that week, one in south Devon and the other in Hertfordshire

Purple Sandpiper: These were still with us on Apr 20 when 3 were seen at Barton on sea in the west Solent and 9 were at the Bembridge Foreland on the IoW

Whimbrel: Passage birds have been moving through the Channel since Apr 3 and counts at Dungeness were up to 125 by Apr 13 and 190 by Apr 16. By Apr 15 the first had been seen inland at Pulborough Brooks and on Apr 17 nine birds were seen (probably heading inland) at Cams Bay on the north shore of Portsmouth Harbour. I heard and saw my first on the west Hayling shore on Apr 20

Wood Sandpiper: The first of the year was seen at Titchfield Haven on Apr 14 and what was probably the same bird was seen again on Apr 15. On Apr 15 one was seen at Beachy Head and another in the Pannell valley near Rye.

Common Sandpiper: Migrants are certainly now arriving, the most recent report being of three birds seen at Pagham Harbour on Apr 17

Pomarine Skua: The first report came from Portland on Apr 19 and on Apr 20 at least 13 came through (13 reported from Birling Gap on Beachy Head though only 11 were seen at Dungeness and only 1 at Portland)

Med Gull: While there is no difficulty in hearing or seeing these birds whenever you go out anywhere in the Havant area at the present time there does seem to have been a significant change in the coastal distribution of these birds this year. The tremendous increase in numbers breeding at Rye Harbour (going from 37 breeding pairs in 2005 to 75 in 2006 and a likely 140 pairs this year) may be just a reflection of an increase in numbers moving to Britain from the south, but here in Hampshire an apparent recent drop in current numbers around the east Solent harbours has been matched by an equally unexplained increase in the west Solent (where 100+ are currently being seen).

In previous years it has been clear that after returning to Langstone Harbour in March and early April the birds do not spend their days feeding in and around the harbour shores but spend them inland, either following the plough or at rubbish tips.

This pattern has been disrupted this year by the closure of the last of south east Hampshire's coastal landfill sites in Southleigh Forest north of Emsworth, and maybe some remaining activity at the tip in the Pennington area near Lymington may be a factor in attracting the birds to the west Solent. Another possibility (though I have no facts to support this) is that changes to the weather have caused changes to farming practice resulting in fewer fields being ploughed in March and April - I certainly have the subjective impression that fewer fields than usual have been ploughed in the past month. Two other factors having a possible impact on the number of birds choosing to breed in Langstone Harbour may be the reduction of sewage discharge into the harbour and the impact of stormy weather on the shape of South Binness island on which they normally nest.

Little Gull: Numbers passing along the English coast have increased to give sightings on Apr 20 of 19 at Selsey Bill, 15 at St Catherine's Point and 13 at Hill Head (Titchfield Haven). On Apr 21 another 10 were seen at Stokes Bay (Gosport).

Sandwich Tern: By Apr 17 there were 280 present at Rye Harbour

Common Tern: In 2002 something caused the normal breeding at the Chichester gravel pits to fail and the birds seemed to move to Stakes Island in Chichester Harbour but by 2005 they were back and using the rafts on New Lake at Chichester. I do not know what success they had there last year but a current report of three birds already back at the lakes (three birds seen on buoys in Ivy Lake on Apr 16) is encouraging. Coastal counts during the week included 37 at Rye Harbour on Apr 19 and 13 seen at St Catherine's Point on Apr 20

Arctic Tern: The only reports this week were of 9 at Dungeness on Apr 17 and 3 at Stokes Bay (Gosport) on Apr 21

Little Tern: No reports of them from Langstone Harbour yet but since the first two birds were reported from Dungeness on Apr 12 there have been sightings at Lymington and Selsey Bill on Apr 13, with daily sightings at Rye Harbour up to Apr 21 (when 12 birds were present). Apr 21also brought a sighting of 9 from Stokes Bay (Gosport).

Black Tern: Lee Evans reports the sighting of the first of the year at Rainham in Essex within the past week.

Turtle Dove: Just two have arrived so far, both at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 15 and 20

Cuckoo: I now have 20 reports of them since the first arrival on Apr 7 (Isle of Wight) but none have been nearer to Havant than the New Forest, Fleet in north Hampshire, or Pagham Harbour in Sussex.

Long-eared Owl: On the Isle of Wight there are no Tawny Owls and the common owl there (other than Barn Owl) is the Long-eared, but even there a daytime sighting of one at Luccombe Down on Apr 18 was unusual.

Short-eared Owl: Three new reports of birds arriving in off the sea at Pagham, Brighton, and Portland between Apr 14 and 17

Swift: First of the year seems to have been at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 15 followed by a small influx on Apr 17 bringing two birds to the Blashford Lakes in the Avon Valley and three more to Portland. Since then there have been 14 more reports giving a total of 61 birds seen up to Apr 20 (when 17 came in off the sea at Selsey).

Hoopoe: One flew east over Fishbourne (IoW) and another was seen at Portland, both on Apr 17. There has since been one further report from the Weymouth area on Apr 20

Wryneck: Eight reports since the first at Portland on Apr 14 seem to refer to at least five birds at Portland, Dungeness, Penzance in Cornwall, and Newchurch on the Isle of Wight (the last being seen on Apr 17)

Swallow: Two new reports of birds back at nest sites come from Racton Park Farm in the Ems Valley on Apr 16 and from a house in north Fareham on Apr 18 - hopefully most people have now seen at least some of the many birds back in this country (I now have 100 reports covering 848 birds)

House Martin: Although the first report was back on Mar 6 I still have only 36 reports of House Martins, covering a maximum of 73 birds (though they were said to be 'numerous' at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 20)

Yellow Wagtail: The highest count so far is of 15 Yellow Wagtails arriving at Portland on Apr 17 as part of a massive 'fall' of migrants but that only brought the overall number now reported as having arrived so far up to 135 birds. A report of 11 birds at Pulborough Brooks carried a little nostalgia with it when it mentioned that they were 'with cattle'.

Dunnock: The first report of a fledged juvenile comes from the Crawley area on Apr 15

Nightingale: Still none in the Havant area (nearest have been at Pagham and on the IoW) but we now have 17 reports covering 23 birds.

Whinchat: We now have at least 14 reports covering 26 birds including 6 at Portland on Apr 17

Stonechat: A pair were feeding young somewhere in the Test valley on Apr 15

Wheatear: The first mention of a Greenland race bird came from the Isle of Wight on Apr 15 and more arrived at Portland on Apr 16. The 'fall' of birds at Portland gave them an estimated count of 685 Wheatears

Ring Ouzel: 75 reports between Mar 3 and Apr 20 give a total of 175 birds. The latest reports on Apr 19 and 20 come from Beacon Hill (the one just east of the A34 in north Hampshire) and are of 9 or 10 birds there on each of the days

Fieldfare: A flock of 21 birds was still present in the Test valley on Apr 15 and a single late bird came in off the sea at Portland on Apr 18

Grasshopper Warbler: I now have 31 reports covering 82 birds (including 22 arriving together in the 'fall' at Portland on Apr 17)

Reed Warbler: These seem to have started to arrive in force on Apr 14 when there were 2 at Christchurch and I now have 12 reports of them from seven sites including Pagham Harbour where three were reported on Apr 17

Wood Warbler: The first report is of one at the Blashford Lakes on Apr 15 and that is backed up by a report in Lee Evans national summary of one in Worcestershire around the same date.

Willow Warbler: The 'fall' at Portland on Apr 17 included an estimated 1000 Willow Warblers. The Portland report for that day began by saying .. "Today comes well up the list of great Portland days with the heavy cloud cover that had rolled in from the north by dawn together with a brisk northerly headwind providing ideal conditions for a fall - and what a fall it was. In terms of birds ringed it was the best day in the 46 year history of Portland Bird Observatory with the total of 502 easily exceeding the previous record of 440 achieved on 19th April 1997 (to put these totals in perspective there are usually several 100 days and one or two 200 days each year; 300 days aren't annual and there's only ever been a couple of 400 days)".

It goes on .. "With birds on the move throughout the morning it was very difficult to arrive at meaningful 'in the field' migrant totals but very conservative estimates for the Bill area included 1000 Willow Warblers, 300 Wheatears, 300 Blackcaps, 250 Chiffchaffs, 80 Redstarts, 25 Tree Pipits, 15 Yellow Wagtails, 15 Grasshopper Warblers, 15 Whitethroats, 15 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Ring Ouzels, 6 Pied Flycatchers and 4 Short-eared Owls; the pick of the wide variety of lower totals included year-ticks in the form of Whinchat (6), Swift (3), Brambling (2), Sedge Warbler (3), Common Sandpiper and Reed Warbler, along with the island's second Corn Bunting of the year".

Spotted Flycatcher: A very early report of one at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 17 has been beaten by one from West Yorkshire on or before Apr 16

Pied Flycatcher: 15 reports of up to 24 birds seen since the first at Portland on Apr 6, including a pair at Pagham Harbour on Apr 15

Tree Sparrow: Although seemingly now extinct in Hampshire a faint hope that one could be seen comes from a sighting of a single bird a Durlston Country Park in Dorset on Apr 16

Corn Bunting: As with Tree Sparrow the arrival of a single bird at Portland on Apr 17 gives hope that one could fly in off the sea to be seen in Hampshire

INSECTS

Dragonflies

Broad-bodied Chaser: A sighting at Warblington Farm on Apr 18 by Tony Gutteridge of a 'broad bodied dragonfly, coloured brown with some yellow' sounds likely to have been this species but would have been at least two weeks earlier than normal. Despit the brown and yellow colour this could have been a male as both sexes have this colour initially.

Large Red Damselfly: After an early sighting of these emerging on Apr 7 near Hastings there has been a report of them at Hatchet Pond near Beaulieu in the New Forest on Apr 18

Butterflies

Dingy Skipper: The first were seen at Mill Hill near Shoreham on Apr 14 but have subsequently been seen at six other sites (in both Sussex and Hampshire)

Grizzled Skipper: The first had been seen back on Apr 7 and they are now numerous and widespread

Clouded Yellow: Two separate reports on Apr 13 are of butterflies seen coming in off the sea in the Eastbourne area, helping to confirm that all 13 reports from coastal sites since Mar 28 are likely to have been of cross-Channel migrants

Small Copper: Half a dozen isolated reports dated from Apr 1 to 12 have been followed by a more concentrated emergence with 17 reports between Apr 14 and 19

Duke of Burgundy: The first had been seen on Apr 13 at Noar Hill and since then there have been reports from Stockbridge Down and from the Sussex Downs above Storrington.

White Admiral: The Sussex Butterfly Conservation website says that one was confidently reported as being on the wing at Ebernoe Common (north of Petworth) in Sussex on Apr 15. This species has never before (I think) been flying before June but there have been 'second brood' emergences in the autumn of a few years when the caterpillars which normally hibernate manage to complete their development before the Honeysuckle on which they feed dies back at the onset of winter. Perhaps in this case the caterpillars did not develop fast enough to produce butterflies in the autumn but did carry on feeding and developing slowly through the winter, supported by the continuing presence of Honeysuckle leaves, and hence completed their cycle a couple of months early (as Red Admiral caterpillars have been doing this winter in the Sussex Ouse valley)

Red Admiral: On Apr 19 the Sussex BC website reports the mass emergence of Red Admiral butterflies in the Sussex Ouse valley after the nettles on which the caterpillars have been feeding through the winter did not die back as a result of winter frosts.

Camberwell Beauty: A butterfly which had been found hibernating at Peasmarsh (near Rye Bay) on Feb 4 came out of its coma on Apr 6 and was released - last seen flying strongly towards Kent where one was seen in Blean Woods near Canterbury on Apr 8. Another had appeared on Portland on Apr 5.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: Following a report that this species was already flying in Devon by Apr 12 there have been two sightings in Sussex. On Apr 15 one seen over the Downs between Brighton and Lewes was black-listed as being 'an unauthorised release' on the basis that downland colonies in Sussex were officially extinct. Luckily there has since been a sighting of 8 of these lovely butterflies on Apr 17 in an 'authorised site' (Rewell Wood to the west of Arundel).

Queen of Spain Fritillary: A fresh looking female was photographed in the Sussex Downs above Storrington on Apr 18

Wall Brown: First of the year seen at Durlston country park on Apr 16, followed by sightings in the Keyhaven area of Hampshire and at Portland

Small Heath: Following the first seen at Eastleigh on Apr 13 there have been two more sightings, both on Apr 17, at different places on the Sussex downs. On Apr 19 one was seen at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester and on Apr 20 one was found at Cissbury Ring (north of Worthing)

Moths

Longhorn Moth (Adela reamurella): These were first seen in Sussex on Apr 14

Diamond-back Moth: These were trapped at Pagham Harbour on Apr 13 and 15 and seem to have been the first of the year

Ethmia bipunctella: First report comes from Rye Harbour on Apr 15

Twenty-plumed Moth (Alucita hexadactyla): First seen at Rusper near Crawley on Apr 14)

Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata): First seen on Stockbridge Down on Apr 15

Pyrausta pupuralis: First reported from Stockbridge Down on Apr 15 but large numbers there suggested it had been out for some time

Rusty-dot Pearl: First date is Apr 13 at Pagham Harbour - surprisingly it was not recorded at Portland until Apr 15

Emperor Moth: The first, a male, had been seen on the Sussex Downs on Apr 2 but by Apr 18 a female had been 'obtained' at the Warnham nature reserve in Horsham and hung out of doors in a cage to allow her pheromones to attract another male which she did on Apr 18

Scalloped Hook-tip: First at Ringmer near Lewes on Apr 14

Rest Harrow: First was seen on the Downs at Cissbury Ring on Apr 20

Garden Carpet: First report comes from Portland on Apr 16

Purple Bar: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 14, then one at Portland on Apr 18

Green Carpet: First at Magdalen Hill Down on Apr 14

The Fern: Trapped at Rye Town on Apr 15

Pretty Chalk Carpet: A very early find of this day flyer at Cissbury Ring on Apr 18

Foxglove Pug: First record from Rusper on Apr 14

Lime-speck Pug: First at Portland on Apr 13

V-Pug: First at Rye town area on Apr 14 and another at Pagham Harbour on Apr 15

Lesser Treble Bar: First at Rye Harbour on Apr 18

Sharp-angled Peacock: First trapped in the Eastbourne area on Apr 13

Lime Hawkmoth: First two emerged on Apr 14, one in Brighton and another at Ringmer near Lewes

Great Prominent: First taken at Rusper on Apr 14 and another at Lindfield (Haywards Heath) on Apr 15

Swallow Prominent: First at Rusper on Apr 14, a second at Pagham Harbour on Apr 15 and a third at Portland on Apr 17

Pale Prominent: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 13 and then seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 14 with two subsequent reports

Chocolate-tip: First and so far only report is from Pagham Harbour on Apr 15

Pale Tussock: Also a first for Pagham Harbour but on Apr 13

Least Black Arches: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 15

Nutmeg: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 13 then one at Portland on Apr 16

Cabbage Moth: First at Portland on Apr 16

Bright-line Brown-eye: First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 13 and another at Portland on Apr 14

The Lychnis: First at Portland on Apr 18

Lead-coloured Drab: First and only report from Ringmer near Lewes on Apr 14

White-point: First taken at Portland on Apr 14

Reed Dagger: First at Portland on Apr 15

Treble Lines: First at Portland on Apr 19

Dewick's Plusia: A good first at Pagham Harbour on Apr 14

Silver Y: One of these migrants arrived at Portland on Feb 1 but no more were reported until Apr 5 and there have now been twelve reports from four coastal sites including a take of 6 at Portland on Apr 16

The Spectacle: Two firsts on Apr 14 - one at Pagham Harbour, the other at Rusper, then one at Rye Harbour on Apr 18

Mother Shipton: The first of these day flying moths was seen at Magdalen Hill Down on Apr 19

Burnet Companion: A very early find, seen by day at Magdalen Hill Down on Apr 14

Small Purple-barred: Although the id was not definite one was probably seen on Castle Hill near Brighton on Apr 15

Caterpillars: Many Brown-tail moth caterpillars were active on Beachy Head, noticeably stripping vegetation, by Apr 14 while at Rye Harbour a Cream-spot Tiger moth caterpillar was seen searching for somewhere to pupate.

Other Insects

St Marks Fly: The first report of these comes from Durlston Country Park on Apr 18

Scarlet Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii): aka Lily Leaf Beetle this is a serious pest species in Britain. Arriving in 1940 in Surrey it can now be found in every English county south of Yorkshire and in 2002 it first appeared in Ireland at Belfast. If you want to see one there are now plenty to be seen in at least one Portsdown garden pond (though this is not a water beetle - it also damages Fritillary plants in gardens)

Sloe Bug: More than 20 of these bugs (which resemble Shield Bugs) were seen on Old Winchester Hill on Apr 17

PLANTS

Sea Radish: My first sight of this in flower was on Sinah Common, south Hayling, on Apr 20

Narrow-leaved Bittercress: This had already started to flower by the A27 Langstone roundabout on Apr 16

Sea Kale: The flowerheads were fully formed on several plants seen on the south Hayling shore on Apr 20 but none yet had the white glow of fully flowering plants

Wild Mignonette: Flowering on Portsdown on Apr 18

Pale Flax: A very early record of a single plant in flower came from Durlston country park on Apr 17 and since then others have started to flower there

Sea Campion: Plenty in full flower on south Hayling by Apr 20 (my first sight of it)

Sea Sandwort: After scanning many plants on the south Hayling shore I found one with an open flower on Apr 20

Spring Beauty: This was flowering everywhere on south Hayling on Apr 20

Round-leaved Cranesbill: Plenty of this in flower along the eastern edge of the Hayling Golf Course on Apr 20

Shining Cranesbill: I had seen the first flower on one of these plants in east Havant on Mar 28 but it was not until Apr 18 that I found the plants lining much of the 'twitchel' footpath joining Pook Lane to Wade Court Road in full flower

Musk Storksbill: Common Storksbill can be found in many places and the plants are usually flat on the ground with feathery leaves. In past years I have come on Musk Storksbill only on south Hayling but this year, after my find of lots of it on the north side of the Texaco garage at Northney, I found more on Apr 16 in the pavement edge grass at the junction of the main road to Hayling with Southbrook Road in Langstone. Although these plants had been mown they still had the broad, scarcely toothed, leaves and the smell of musk when crushed.

Red Clover: Although not new there was an impressive outburst of this flowering everywhere on Apr 16

Common Vetch: Similarly this come out in abundance from Apr 16

Birds Foot Trefoil: I saw the first flowers by the side of Langstone Bridge on Apr 16

Pear: A garden escape tree was in full bloom at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Apr 16

Tormentil: Brian Fellows was the first to find this flowering in Hollybank Woods on Apr 17

Salad Burnet: This was flowering at Durlston by Apr 17

Common Nettle: This was flowering on Apr 18

Tamarisk: First flowers seen at Emsworth on Apr 20.

Horse Chestnut: This started to flower in many places during the week

Caper Spurge: I have previously commented on the mass of plants which can be found this year in several places and on Apr 20 I found one of a mass of plants on Sinah Common near houses (garden escapes) had fully open flowers

Bur Chervil: This was flowering in profusion on Sinah Common on Apr 20

Hemlock Water Dropwort: One bank of plants in a roadside ditch at Northney was just starting to flower on Apr 20

Sheep Sorrel: Another of the plants newly flowering on Sinah Common on Apr 20

Yellow Pimpernel: First of the year seen in Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 17

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant: Flowers were out on a plant growing against the wall of the Royal Oak pub garden at Langstone on Apr 19 and next day I found it in flower on south Hayling with many dead flowers to show it had been out for some time

Wood Speedwell: First positive identification of this in flower came from Racton Park Wood in the Ems valley on Apr 16

Common Comfrey: This started to flower at Emsworth on Apr 1

Buck's-horn Plantain: This had started to flower on Sinah Common by Apr 20

Field Madder: First flowers seen by the main road to Hayling at Langstone on Apr 16

Small Scabious: Flowering on Portsdown on Apr 18

Ox-eye Daisy: Flowers open for the first time on Apr 16 near the A27 Langstone Roundabout

Slender Thistle: The massive display of this normally rare thistle which occurs around the south end of Southmoor Lane opposite Budds Farm already had flowerheads (though no open flowers) by Apr 21

Goat's Beard: The first plant of this was flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 18 (you have to be out before midday to see this plant with its eye-catching flowers - later in the day the closed flowers will easily escape attention

Snakeshead Fritillary: Plants apparently growing wild or as garden escapes, but almost certainly planted, were flowering on grass beside the footpath connecting the main road (near Langstone High St) to Mill Lane were flowering by Apr 16 and had been out for some days as some were already dying back.

Ramsons (Wild Garlic): Plants were in full bloom beside the path connecting Wade Court Road to Pook Lane in Havant on Apr 18 - the first I have seen

Green Winged Orchid: This was first reported flowering at Durlston country park on Apr 16 but I suspect the plants on Sinah Common at Hayling would have beaten that date as by Apr 20 there were at least 1300 in flower (including a single 'albino')

Hairy Sedge: Seen flowering for the first time at Emsworth on Apr 14

Wood Sedge: Seen in three woods flowering in Apr 17

Distant Sedge: Flowering at Emsworth on Apr 18

Sand Sedge: Masses flowering on south Hayling by Apr 20

Common Spike-rush: Many plants flowering on Langstone South Moors on Apr 16

Soft Brome (Lop Grass): I came on a couple of examples of this on Sinah Common on Apr 18

Wood Melick: Nearly flowering in the Hollybank Woods by Apr 20

Sweet Vernal Grass: This was flowering in Surrey on Apr 15

Barren Brome: This, and Tall Fescue, were flowering at Emsworth on Apr 18

OTHER WILDLIFE

Badger: A roadkill corpse was lying on the footpath (used as a cycleway) alongside Southleigh Road in the Havant-Emsworth gap halfway between Locks Farm and Southleigh Farm as I cycled along there on Apr 17. To compensate for this loss the Durlston website reports the first sighting of a young Badger above ground - they just refer to a 'young Badger' but as the cubs can be born in mid-January and appear above ground after a couple of months the first young should be seen around now

Pilot Whale: A probable only distant sighting of at least three of these was reported at Portland on Apr 19 - first of the year.

Roe Deer: Durlston country park rangers report a sighting of 2 bucks with velvet dropping from their full grown antlers on Apr 15. They also commented that these bucks had not yet finished the changed from winter to summer 'pelage' (coat) but by Apr 20 they saw a female in full summer coat.

Slow-worm: The first report of these, said to be regularly seen recently in the bottom of a compost bin (I hope they can get out!) appeared on John Goodspeed's website on Apr 20 and presumably refers to somewhere in the Portsmouth area

Winkles: I was doubly surprised on Apr 16, firstly to find hundreds of these large sea shells clinging to the stone facing of the bank of the Langbrook stream where it runs under the footbridge at the end of Mill Lane, and secondly to learn that Winkles are listed on the internet among the world's top hundred worst invasive species. The latter point is an American view of the species.

My surprise at finding crowds of them in an apparently fresh water environment (and also mainly above the high water line even at high tide) was partly answered by reading that the species is tolerant of brackish water and rather likes sewage effluent. Mention of sewage led me on to wonder if their presence here (where I have never noticed them before) is some indication of a change in the availability of food (for birds, fish and invertebrates) in Langstone Harbour following the reduction of sewage discharge from Budds Farm.

On a similar subject there is a discussion among birders this week concerning the possibility that closure of all the open landfill sites in south Hamsphire last year has had an immediated impact on the Med Gulls which come to nest in Langstone Harbour but have, in previous years, built up their strength for breeding by feeding at landfill sites - more on this in the birds section above.


Summary for Apr 9 - 15 (Week 15 of 2007)

BIRDS

Late news

The following entries relate to input received since my Saturday cut-off for proper processing and so are not in correct order or correlated to previous data but I think they may be of interest and will be processed for next week’s summary

Peregrine: The nest at Chichester Cathedral now has four eggs and can be seen on a webcam

Mallard: Two new duckling families seen at Alverston (IoW) - one had 13 ducklings

Whinchat: Second report for the year from the IoW (Needles area) on Apr 14

Wryneck: First of the year arrived at Portland on Apr 14

Cattle Egret: 2 at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 15

Honey Buzzard: One flew over Christchurch on Apr 14

Wood Sandpiper: First of year at Titchfield on Apr 15

Stonechat: Pair near Romsey feeding young in the nest on Arp 15

Earlier news

Divers: All three common species are still being regularly seen passing up channel

Slavonian Grebe: Seawatchers at Seaford had a nice change from straining their eyes to identify dots on the horizon when a pair of Slavonian Grebes in full summer plumage swam slowly past close inshore (going the wrong way, i.e. west)

Manx Shearwater: The first birds returning to nest around northern Europe were seen at Portland on Mar 30 and on Apr 7 two were seen off St Catherine's Point. As their arrival speeds up numbers seen at Portland have been 7 on Apr 8, 6 on Apr 10, and 5 on Apr 12 (they do not breed there!)

Little Egret: The number seen leaving the roost at Rye Harbour on Apr 7 was down to 27 (from 52 at the beginning of March), and on Apr 13 my walk around the Warblington Farm fields found only 2 birds compared to 5 on Apr 2 and 13 there on Mar 31.

Brent Goose: Although we have almost certainly not seen the last Brent in Langstone Harbour, on Apr 11 I made my first visit to the shores from the Oysterbeds to Emsworth without seeing a single Brent anywhere. Counts at Dungeness show they are still passing there - on Apr 7 the count was 285, on Apr 9 it was 340 and on Apr 10 it was 600. Since then I have seen just one group of 31 Brent in the Broadmarsh area of Langstone Harbour on Apr 12 but the only reports since then are almost certainly of birds staying here for the summer - on Apr 13 there were 3 birds in Fishbourne Channel near Chichester, 4 in the Normandy area at Lymington and just one at Titchfield Haven.

Teal: After the survey of all Hampshire's birds during the 1980s 'Birds of Hampshire' said that breeding might have occurred in around 50 of the 1025 'Tetrads' which make up the whole of Hampshire and I suspect that the number of pairs trying to breed in Hampshire may well have increased since then, but very few broods of ducklings are ever seen (five broods seen at Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire in 2003 and four broods there in 2004 being exceptional) - Teal are either very unlucky in breeding here or very good at hiding themselves and their young from birders' eyes. My reason for airing this thought just now is that I saw a single pair together at Budds Farm on Apr 12 and saw a report of two birds at Titchfield Haven on Apr 10, plus my sighting on Apr 2 of what may have been a female Teal at the Warblington Farm cressbeds where I have been told by a wildfowler that they have bred in the past.

Mallard: On Apr 12 two families of ducklings were seen on Langstone Pond (one of 13 and the other of 6 ducklings). There had been two earlier sightings of young families - 9 ducklings at Titchfield on Mar 31 and 8 at Pulborough on Apr 2

Eider: Small numbers continue to move east into the North Sea with counts at Dungeness of 23 on Apr 7, 7 on Apr 9, and 8 on Apr 10. A considerable number however are expected to stay here through the summer. On Apr 11 Mike Rafter had the pleasure of hearing 20 of them 'cooing' at the mouth of the Beaulieu River.

Red-breasted Merganser: As these start to move back north they gather into small flocks for company on the journey (perhaps the less experienced young birds tag on to the older birds in the hope that they know the way!) and I had my first view of such a flock on Apr 13 when I was at Warblington Farm and looked out over the sea wall at high tide to see a tight flotilla of 28 Mergansers as the only birds on the water.

Red Kite: In the period from Apr 7 to 12 some 9 coastal sightings of Kite were reported from seven sites between Portland and Worthing, one of them being of a bird circling over the Hayling Oysterbeds on Apr 12 before drifting away to the east

Osprey: On Apr 8 one was seen perched on an electricity pylon near Compton (on the Chichester to Petersfield road), being mobbed by a Buzzard.

Hobby: The first arrival I know of was over Horsham on Apr 3 and the second was seen at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Apr 6. Since then there have been reports from Dorset on Apr 7 and Sussex on Apr 10 while on Apr 11 two were seen hawking for insects at Titchfield Haven.

Moorhen: The first young to hatch were seen on Apr 3 and on Apr 13 I saw one tiny chick being fed in the pool of the Homewell stream outside Dolphin Court on the east side of the main road into Havant from the A27

Avocet: Each year more pairs are breeding at south coast sites and reports on Apr 13 tell of 10 birds at Pett Level on the shore of Rye Bay, and of 16 birds at Titchfield Haven. Another report is of 8 birds at Rye Harbour on Apr 14.

Stone Curlew: First sighting of the year comes from Pulborough Brooks where one bird arrived on Apr 13

Golden Plover: More than 180 were at Rye Harbour on Apr 8 and 86 were there on Apr 13 - presumably birds passing through on their way back from wintering further south.

Lapwing: On Apr 13 the first chicks had hatched at Rye Harbour.

Purple Sandpiper: There may well have been a movement of these up channel on Apr 8, bringing a high count of 15 at Christchurch Harbour and 8 at Southsea Castle. It seems that the birds have already left a number of other regular winter sites - no reports from Portland since Apr 1 when the last were reported at Bembridge. None have been reported from Sussex since the end of February - last year the very latest date I know off for the south coast was May 1

Woodcock: After a first report of roding in the Romsey area on Apr 4 we now hear of 2 birds roding at Brockenhurst in the New Forest on Apr 10

Godwits: On Apr 11 new birds were seen in the Langstone area with totals of 120 Black-wits and 70 Bar-wits. The 120 Black-wits were still there next day, and on Apr 13 there were 68 birds in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester but those birds that intend to breed in Iceland will be off there any day now. Pete Potts tells us that a team of birders from Britain will once again be in Iceland, arriving there on Apr 14 and staying until early May, to observe the start of the breeding season and hopefully to correlate the arrival of colour ringed birds with observations of their last sightings here in England. The minimum time difference recorded in past years between a sighting here and arrival there is 36 hours. Some of the same team will no doubt be back in Iceland later to ring this seasons chicks.

Whimbrel: Their spring passage is now in full swing with a peak count so far of 125 birds passing Dungeness on Apr 13 but there have been 18 other reports of smaller numbers during the past week from many sites along the south coast (a very few of these, such as 2 birds in Pagham Harbour on Apr 7 and 1 in the Fishbourne channel of Chichester Harbour on Apr 13, may still be of wintering birds but a sighting of 14 at the Lymington Marshes on Apr 12 must have been of birds now passing through the Solent)

Common Sandpiper: As these summer migrants tend to arrive in ones and twos rather than large flocks it is always very difficult to distinquish new arrivals from wintering birds but this week has brought reports from sites where no wintering birds had been reported, giving the impression that migrants have started to arrive. The first may have been in the north of Portsmouth Harbour on Apr 6, followed by one in the Pannel valley near Rye on Apr 10, the same date as the first report of one at Christchurch Harbour. By Apr 12 there were 2 birds at Christchurch and on Apr 13 there were 3 birds further up the Avon valley at the Blashford Lakes.

Arctic Skua: The very first report of the year is of one off Portland on Apr 7 and that has been followed by four reports on Apr 11 (from Portland, St Catherine's Point, Seaford and Dungeness) with two more reports on Apr 12 and another two on Apr 13.

Great Skua: Although there had been odd sightings of single Bonxies in Jan, Feb and Mar there has been a surge of both sightings and numbers of birds since Apr 6

Med Gull: There is an established pattern over recent years of birds arriving back near the places where they intend to nest, and being seen there in large numbers, but then 'disappearing' for a short period until they suddenly rush back to start nesting. Here in Langstone Harbour we seem to be currently in the 'disappearing' phase with few seen at the Oysterbeds or around the harbour this week, but unlike the Black-headed Gulls which have started nesting at some sites, there have been no reports of Med Gull having yet started to nest though a sudden increase in numbers seen at Titchfield Haven (53 there on Apr 13 against just 11 on Apr 10 - and up to 60 in late March) is interesting. I am also interested to hear if any of the Langstone Harbour pairs have transferred their allegiance to Rye Harbour where a count of 285 birds was reported on Apr 5. In 2005 Rye Harbour had 37 breeding pairs, in 2006 there were 75 pairs there, and dividing the 285 by 2 could give 140 pairs there this season.

Little Gull: On Apr 10 four were seen at Chichester's Ivy Lake and another four flew north over Hook near Warsash. Since then it seems that some of the birds that had previously been following the French coast and ignoring us have come over to our side of the Channel. On Apr 11 just 12 were recorded at Dungeness but on Apr 12 the count there was up to 194, with 21 seen at Seaford. On Apr 13 one had even strayed as far north as Fleet Pond.

Sandwich Tern: The number seen at Rye Harbour was up to 225 on Apr 7 and each day has brought more up Channel so one which I saw from Budds Mound in the north of Langstone Harbour on Apr 12 could well mark the start of the second phase of their arrival when they cease being seen only on the open sea and start to come into the harbours (no doubt some people will say that my sighting was just one of the winter birds that have been in the harbour all the time!)

Common Tern: The first report came from Dungeness on Apr 6 and the first Hampshire bird was in the west Solent next day while Sussex surprisingly had its first report from Ivy Lake at Chichester on Apr 9 (though there had been a 'Commic' Tern off Selsey on Apr 6). Since I wrote those remarks for my latest mid-week summary there have been nine more reports including a sighting of 11 in the Solent off Stokes Bay at Gosport (and a day total of 70 at Dungeness that day). The tendency of these birds to stray overland has also been shown in sightings at both Eastleigh (Lakeside) and Fleet Pond, both on Apr 13 when two were seen at Titchfield Haven.

Arctic Tern: One was reported at Dungeness on Apr 10 and by Apr 12 the count at Dungeness was up to 52 with 5 being seen in the Solent off Gosport. Apr 13 brought another 20 at Dungeness.

Little Tern: Still no reports from Langstone Harbour but two birds had got to Dungeness by Apr 12 and on Apr 13 there was one in the west Solent off Lymington. Three more were seen from Selsey Bill on Apr 13.

Cuckoo: First of the year was at West High Down on the Isle of Wight on Apr 7, another was at Arne in Dorset on Apr 8 and a third was at Beachy Head on Apr 10. Since I wrote that in mid-week there have been reports of two near Lewes on Apr 11, one in the Fleet area on Apr 13 and another at Arlington reservoir near Beachy Head, also on Apr 13.

Little Owl: Two pairs are reported to be nesting in the area around the old walled garden on what was the site of Idsworth House until the 1840s when the owner took umbrage at the new railway line being built within eye and ear-shot of his house, causing him to dismantle the house and rebuild it in its present site on Wick Hanger north of Rowlands Castle

Hoopoe: Excluding a bird seen in Cornwall on Feb 25 one at Weymouth on Apr 6 was the first of the season!

Woodlark: Although numbers breeding in the general area north of Emsworth seem to have been increasing in the past few years John Simons tells us that ploughing up of what has been rough grassland around Markwell's Wood at Finchdean/Forestside has reduced the number of pairs there from 5 last year to 2 this year

Swallow: I saw my first two at Broadmarshon Apr 12 and at Warblington Farm on Apr 13 it was good to see the first bird back at its intended nest site perched on overhead wires above the farm buildings though there was no sign that its mate had also returned. On Apr 10 there was a similar report of one already back at stables in Sussex (near Horsham) eleven days earlier than expected. On Apr 13 I also had my first two Sand Martins, but they were just passing through.

House Martin: It is now over a month since the first bird was seen at Weymouth but so far I have only seen 20 reports covering a total of 28 birds so no major arrival yet.

Yellow Wagtail: We now have 15 reports since the first arrivals at three sites in Hampshire and Dorset on Apr 4 but so far the biggest party has been of just 5 birds at Christchurch on Apr 9 with another 4 at Rye Harbour on Apr 10. The Titchfield Haven single bird on Apr 4 remains the only report from Hampshire other than a bird at Farlington Marshes on Apr 12, and the largest group has been of 10+ birds at Rye Harbour on Apr 13.

Nightingale: Maybe three birds so far - one at Beachy Head on Apr 8 and another at Pagham on Apr 10 with a report from Greatham Bridge (south of Pulborough) on Apr 9 which reads strangely - it says "Also a Nightingale by Greatham Bridge churring to itself in a hedge" suggesting Whitethroat rather than Nightingale to me (presumably the bird was not seen)

Common Redstart: The first was seen at Portland on Apr 3 and we now have 22 reports coming from Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset. As well as the expected confirmation on Apr 13 that birds are back in the New Forest there has been an unexpected Hampshire sighting in a Woolston garden near the River Itchen in Southampton.

Whinchat: The first migrant of the year seems to have been a female seen in the Beaulieu Road area of the New Forest on Apr 11

Ring Ouzel: Although the first was seen on Mar 3 a total of only 21 had been reported up to Apr 8 and it is from Apr 9 on that numbers have noticeably increased with a total of 59 birds reported from Apr 9 to 13. The very first arrival (could it have been a wintering bird?) was in Hampshire at Chandlers Ford and since then there have been no Hampshire reports until one was seen in the New Forest on Apr 10

Cetti's Warbler: The Langstone pond bird was still there on Apr 11 and the Warblington Farm bird was still there on Apr 13

Grasshopper Warbler: 14 birds have been reported so far from five sites. The first was at St Catherine's Point on the IoW on Apr 6 and others have been in Dorset at Christchurch, Durlston and Portland (where 3 arrived on Apr 10) with two in Sussex at Seaford, also on Apr 10

Sedge Warbler: Sixteen reports so far. The first was at Pagham on Apr 6, a second was at Dungeness RSPB on Apr 7, and then on Apr 9 there were reports from five sites including Farlington Marshes and Titchfield Haven. Among the sightings since then was one bird at Warblington on Apr 13 (presumably just passing through as while Reed Warblers nest here each year Sedge Warblers have only stayed in 4 of the past 30 years)

Reed Warbler: One arrived at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 9 following a very early bird reported at Warnham nature reserve in Horsham on Mar 26. No further reports so far.

Lesser Whitethroat: One was at Rye Harbour on Apr 5 and 6, another was by the Beaulieu River on Apr 6. After that there was a gap until Apr 10 when a main arrival started which has so far brought another ten birds to various sites including Farlington Marshes (Apr 10)

Common Whitethroat: After reports of wintering birds at Portsmouth (IBM Lake), Christchurch Harbour and somewhere in Devon the migrants started to arrive on Apr 5 with one at Hastings country park (and maybe the same bird at Pett on Apr 6). At Christchurch Harbour there may have been some confusion about the wintering bird which was thought in January to be a female but may have been a young male which began to sing on Mar 29 and was heard again on Apr 6, 8 and 9. Less controversial were three birds arriving on Apr 10 at Dungeness, Rye Harbour and Pagham Harbour. Since then another 16 birds have been seen.

Garden Warbler: A bird which I heard in Racton Park Wood near the Ems valley on Apr 9 sounded like a Garden Warbler (fast gabbling with little variation in pitch) and was in suitable thick scrub but I never saw it and cannot be sure. Nevertheless there were definite reports of arrivals on Apr 10 from Pagham and Christchurch Harbours. Since then the only other report has been of a second bird at Christchurch.

Blackcap: Plenty now to be heard everywhere and since Apr 8 one has been singing all day long in the old rail track behind my garden in Havant

Willow Warbler: The first were singing at Christchurch and Portland on Mar 26 and the 52 reports I have seen up to Apr 14 indicate a massive arrival between Apr 9 and 13 (3000+ birds reported). I heard my first singing just behind my garden in Havant on Apr 15.

Pied Flycatcher: Just six reports so far, the first from Portland on Apr 6. Other sightings since then have come from Christchurch Harbour and Dungeness

Lesser Grey Shrike: One was reported to have been seen at a farm north of the A35 just east of Bridport in Devon on Apr 11. Possibly global warming will in future push more of these birds (which normally come no nearer to us than the east Mediterranean) to visit us in the summer and replace our winter Great Grey Shrikes?

Raven: One found dead on Portland on Apr 12 was thought to have been poisoned but if so it may not have been poisoned deliberately - scavenging is a dangerous way of life. (On April 7 two were seen eating dead Mackerel on the shore near Lymington)

Starling: We now know the reason for the massive decline in Starling numbers - they are being frightened away by domestic chickens. Maybe that will not stand up to scientific scrutiny but there is an amusing report from Sussex of a Wyandotte Bantam pouncing on a Starling though the victim did get away with its life! A reflection on the shortage of Starlings was that on Apr 13 I saw just two (a pair) during the four hours I spent at Warblington farm.

Serin: One had been seen at Christchurch Harbour from Apr 4 to 6, and previously there had been an unconfirmed report of one at Durlston on Mar 13. Now Portland has had its first for the year on Apr 12

Crossbill: A group of five seen in the New Forest on Apr 10 was thought to be a family party already away from their nest.

Yellowhammer: John Simons, living at Dean Lane End near Finchdean, maintains his optimistic view that Yellowhammers are flourishing and on Apr 10 contributed the following to the SOS website - "Yellowhammers - an exponential increase in breeding pairs, five on the banks of the flood channel in the village where previously there were two. I have also noted this elsewhere locally, hopefully I will get close to 50 pairs this year within 2 miles radius". By the flood channel I think he means the course of the Lavant stream where it runs parallel to the Finchdean road between Dean Lane End and the railway viaduct at Rowlands Castle

Little Bunting: One turned up at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 8 and gave a few local birders there some excitement. The CHOG website entry read .. "The old Chinese proverb of, "the big one always travels alone," came to fruition today, as a singing male Little Bunting was found amongst a dearth of common migrants on Hengistbury. After some "ticks" were heard in the Double Dykes, there was an unfamiliar song, then the source of the sound was located and the ID clinched. Fortunately, the finder could ask a dog walker to stay put until two others had got onto the bird, before it flicked over the ridge towards the HHC. Around 20 minutes later, relocation came in the field adjacent to the HHC, where the quarry was in the company of a Greenfinch and seen by four more of the regulars. It was last seen heading into the morass of vegetation that is Wick Fields". (HHC = Hengistbury Head centre). Just think that without that dog walker this one could have got away without confirmation. What was probably the same bird was seen on Apr 13 along the Dorset coast near St Aldhelm's Head

Escapees: Further confirmation of global warming comes from the second south coast Vulture sighting of the year. One flew over the Eastleigh area on Jan 27 and now one had been seen over the River Arun at Offham on Apr 7 (Offham is a short distance upstream from the Wildfowl Trust reserve)

INSECTS

Late news

The following entries relate to input received since my Saturday cut-off for proper processing and so are not in correct order or correlated to previous data but I think they may be of interest and will be processed for next week’s summary

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: One flying at Castle Hill between Brighton and Lewes on Apr 15 (thought to be an unauthorised release here)

Dingy Skipper: First of the year were 2 at Mill Hill, Shoreham on Apr 14. Also 9 seen at Castle Hill on Apr 15

Small Copper: Another IoW sighting near the Needles on Apr 14 (and others that day near Lewes and Beachy Head)

Clouded Yellow: Two seen coming in off the sea at Eastbourne on Apr 13

V-Pug: First at Rye on Apr 14

Pale Prominent: First at Rye on Apr 14

White-point: First taken at Portland on Apr 14

Bright-line Brown-eye: Also a first at Portland on Apr 14

Lime-speck Pug: First at Portland on Apr 13

Small Purple-barred: Probable only very early sighting at Castle Hill near Brighton on Apr 15

Foxglove Pug: First of year at Rusper (Crawley) on Apr 14

20 Plume moth: As above

Great Prominent: As above

Swallow Prominent: As above

Sharp-angled Peacock: Trapped in the Eastbourne area on Apr 13

Burnet Moth (species not stated): Seen near Eastbourne on Apr 13

Nutmeg: First trapped at Pagham Harbour on Apr 13

Pale Tussock: As above

Earlier News follows:

Dragonflies

Large Red Damselfly: The first teneral insects were seen by a garden pond in the Rye town area on Apr 9

Butterflies

Grizzled Skipper: Two were out at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on Apr 7, not an exceptionally early date, and since then there have been five more reports coming from the Basingstoke (Overton) and Shoreham (Mill Hill) areas as well as the Micheldever spoil heaps near Winchester.

Clouded Yellow: The eleventh report for the year came from Portland where several were seen on Apr 12. So far all reports have been coastal, indicating either genuine cross channel migrants (or possibly, as at Southbourne in Bournemouth, the establishment of more resident colonies on British soil). On Apr 10 one was seen on Portsdown.

Large White: Nine reports between Apr 2 and 13, all of single insects at seven different sites along the coast from Portland to Rye. The first report on Apr 2 was from Portsdown.

Green-veined White: Eight sightings so far between Apr 5 and 13. All have been in Sussex other than one in the Fleet area on Apr 9 and one at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on Apr 11

Orange Tip: There have been 28 reports so far since they started to emerge on Apr 1 (possibly even earlier) but I have still to see one though one was seen in Emsworth on Apr 11

Green Hairstreak: Six sightings between Apr 2 and 11, four of them being at Magdalen Hill Down, the other two being on Portsdown and at East Dean near Eastbourne (where one appeared in a garden as the lawn was being cut)

Small Copper: Another species with just five reports on dates from Apr 1 to 9. All were of single butterflies other than a report of 4 in the Gosport area on Apr 6

Holly Blue: Now 36 reports since the first on Mar 7 with a welcome increase in sightings since the start of April (eight different reports on Apr 6). Both Brian Fellows in Emsworth and myself in Havant have had them in or near our gardens.

Duke of Burgundy: The first of the season was seen at Noar Hill on Apr 13

Red Admiral: The caterpillars which have been seen throughout the winter in the Sussex Ouse valley started to emerge as adult butterflies on Apr 7. The observer said the adults appeared normal in size and colour after taking 4.5 months from egg to pupation, then a month in the chrysalid stage (In the summer they would normally complete the caterpillar stage in one month and then spend 3 weeks as a chrysalis)

Painted Lady: There have now been six reports of this species - four (on Mar 14, 27 and Apr 4, 10) being at coastal sites and possibly indicating migrants but the other two were at Amport near Andover on Apr 6 and at Stoke Clump (just south of Kingley Vale to the north of Chichester) on Apr 7 - could these have been hibernators?

Small Tortoiseshell: It is good to see that by Apr 12 I had collected 49 reports covering a total of 72 butterflies

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: No local news but by Apr 12 they were said to have started to emerge in Devon.

Small Heath: First of the year seen at Eastleigh (Lakeside country park) on Apr 13. I had to go back to 1997 to find an earlier date - then one was seen on Apr 8

Moths

Longhorn moth (Nemophora degeerella?): On Apr 14 I watched four male longhorn moths dancing around the end of a branch on a Hawthorn tree in Stansted Forest and think they were of this species.

Esperia sulphurella: An early micro taken in the Rye Harbour trap on Apr 7

Agonopterix alstroemeria: This was taken at Pagham Harbour on both Apr 6 and 7

Carnation Tortrix (Cacoecimorpha pronubana): One seen basking on a pavement in Gosport on Apr 4

Acleris literana: Although there had been a 'probable' claim on Mar 28 the first definite report came on Apr 9 from Rusper near Crawley.

Pyrausta nigrata: This was first seen (by day) on Mill Hill at Shoreham on Apr 9.

Chinese Character: The first had already been claimed at Portland on Apr 11 but now see that one was trapped at Horsham on Apr 10

Frosted Green: The first was taken in the Crawley area on Apr 9

The Streamer: Also taken at Rusper, near Crawley, but on Apr 6

Grey Pine Carpet: Taken at Pagham Harbour on Apr 6 (about a month earlier than usual)

Spruce Carpet: First trapped at Fernhurst (near Midhurst) on Apr 10

White-spotted Pug: As for the above.

Brindled Pug: At Rusper on Apr 6

Early Tooth-striped: Also at Rusper on Apr 6 and 9 but there had been an exceptional early record from Portland on Mar 15

Brimstone Moth: The first record is from Portland on Apr 7 but on Apr 9 another was rescued from a garden pond at Haywards Heath when another was recorded in Gosport

Purple Thorn: First of year taken in the Lindfield area near Haywards Heath

Brindled Beauty: First at Rusper on Apr 6

Waved Umber: First at Rusper on Apr 9

Puss Moth: First of year at Rusper on Apr 9

Poplar Kitten: First trapped at Fernhurst on Apr 11

Lobster Moth: Another first at Fernhurst on Apr 12

Iron Prominent: First taken at Horsham on Apr 10

Pebble Prominent: First date was Apr 9 with finds at Rye Harbour and Rye town

Lesser Swallow Prominent: Another first at Fernhurst on Apr 11

Lunar Marbled Brown: First at Rusper on Apr 6

Muslin Moth: First at Haywards Heath on Apr 6 and 3 more in the Rye Harbour trap on Apr 9

Dark Sword-grass: One had been taken at Portland on Mar 14 and now one has been found at Pagham Harbour on Apr 7

Flame Shoulder: One at Pagham Harbour trap on Apr 7 (one had emerged at Rye Harbour on Mar 29 from a pupa taken indoors on Feb 24)

Chamomile Shark: First record at Portland on Apr 11

The Mullein: First at Fernhurst on Apr 12

Grey Shoulder-knot: One at the Pagham Harbour trap on Apr 6 after one at Fernhurst (near Midhurst) on Feb 18

Knot Grass: First of year at Portland on Apr 8

Oak Nycteoline: Two equal firsts on Apr 6 at Portland and Rusper.

Nut-tree Tussock: First of year on Apr 9 at Rusper only

Oak Eggar caterpillar: One seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 14 had probably just come out of hibernation and will not be seen as a moth for at least a month.

Other Insects

Pond Skater: The first of these was spotted in Emsworth on Apr 9 by Brian Fellows' 8 year old grandson

Cinnamon Caddisfly: This is not something which I was aware of until I read of its emergence in a report by Sam Bayley, warden of the Warnham Mill Pond nature reserve at Horsham. He saw one there on Apr 6 but to find its scientific name (Ceratopsyche bifida) I had to resort to a fisherman's fly tying website on which I was amazed to see the variety of flies that can be used to lure fish

Burying beetle (Necrodes littoralis): Another insect for my acquaintance with which I owe thanks to Sam Bayley - one turned up in his moth trap at Rusper (Crawley) on the evening of Apr 6

Vine weevil: One of these pests was found in a moth trap at Rye town on Apr 11

Great Diving Beetle: We have already reported a find of one of these from Rye Harbour on Mar 31 (a female for some reason walking across a path) and we now have a find of one in a Horsham moth trap on Apr 10

Great Silver Water Beetle: The first of these to be reported this year turned up in a moth trap at Rye Harbour on Apr 9

Jumping spider (Sitticus species - probably S pubescens): A female of a Sitticus species was seen on Apr 8 at Rye Harbour on a woodpile. Checking with Dick Jones field guide it seems likely to have been S. pubescens, the only one of the four Sitticus species which he lists for which the habitat is given as houses and gardens and the only species likely to be found in Britain.

PLANTS

Just two late news items ..

Bush Vetch: At last flowering plants have been seen at Kingley Vale on Apr 14

Hairy Sedge: Flowering at Brook Meadow on Emsworth on Apr 14

Earlier News:

Ferns: By Apr 14 some Bracken, Male Ferns and Broad Buckler Ferns had already expanded their leaf fronds in the Hollybank woods.

Creeping Buttercup: First flowering plant of the year was at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 9

Celery-leaved Buttercup: Several plants already in full flower by Apr 13 in the Warblington farm stream running alongside the west edge of Nore Barn woodland

Annual Wallrocket: Several plants flowering on Portsdown on Apr 10 were the first I have heard of this year though by the presence of several seed pods they had been out for some time

Intermediate Wintercress: A large plant of this was in full flower outside Dolphin Court alongside Park Road South in Havant in Apr 13

Garlic Mustard: This came into flower in many places around Havant on Apr 11

Weld: One plant had started flowering on Portsdown on Apr 10. I thought I had seen its cousin Wild Mignonette in flower earlier this year but cannot now find any record of it.

Chalk Milkwort: Flowering was reported at Durlston on Apr 7 and 8 and on Apr 13 there was a mention of 'Milkwort' (probably Common rather than Chalk) flowering at Mill Hill north of Shoreham

Musk Storksbill: In addition to lots of Common Storksbill I found several much larger plants on Hayling on Apr 11. These stood more than 30 cm tall and had the broad, barely toothed leaflets and the smell of Musk (not that I know what Musk smells like but these had a distinctive sweetish smell after I had handled them). They were growing on the left of the main road onto Hayling in the grass patch after passing the turning to Northney and just before the Texaco garage.

Horseshoe Vetch: This was flowering at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 13

Wild Cherry (Gean): I found a tree in full flower on Longcopse Hill (Hollybank Woods at Emsworth) on Apr 14

Crab Apple: An old tree was covered in flowers in the Stansted Groves woodland on Apr 14

Apple blossom: On Apr 10 several 'wild' apple trees (growing from human apple core throw-aways?) had flowers fully open.

Parsley Piert: I find it difficult to detect flowers on this even with a hand lens but there was 'something' to be seen in the leaf axil 'pouches' of plants at St Faith's churchyard in Havant on Apr 13

Salad Burnet: Not strictly in flower but at least one plant on Portsdown (Apr 10) had a fully formed flowerhead with the upper florets changing colour.

Pellitory of the Wall: Brian Fellows found this starting to flower at Emsworth on Apr 7

White Bryony: Not yet in flower but with well formed flower buds looking ready to open - seen on Portsdown on Apr 10

Caper Spurge: On Apr 11 there was a massive show of young plants coming up at North Common on Hayling and I have seen similar clusters of plants in other places - it obviously finds global warming to its liking.

Sanicle: Small flowerheads standing above the leaves on Portsdown on Apr 10 but it will be a long time before these start to flower.

Brookweed: I noted the first basal leaves of these plants had already developed in the marshy channels of the Warblington SSSI on Apr 13

Germander Speedwell: First of the year at Fort Purbrook on Portsdown on Apr 10

Wall Speedwell: First of the year flowering in St Faith's churchyard at Havant on Apr 13

Bugle: First report of this flowering came from Rye town on Apr 11 and I found some flowering in an exposed situation at Broadmarsh on Apr 12 but in a more shaded situation none of the plants in the Hollybank Woods were actually flowering on Apr 14

Yellow Archangel: Some apparently wild plants seen on Apr 9 in flower beside the road from Westbourne to Aldsworth, well away from habitation and with no white on the leaves.

Common Gromwell: No sign of flowers yet but well grown plants were seen on Apr 10 near Fort Purbrook on Portsdown.

Russian Comfrey: Flowering near Rye town on Apr 11

Borage: Two plants were in flower outside Dolphin Court by Park Road South in Havant on Apr 13 (first of the season though I had seen flowering plants from last year in January)

Ribwort Plantain: Several flower heads had put out their ring of white anthers along Solent Road in Havant on Apr 12

Wayfaring Tree: Several bushes in full flower on Portsdown on Apr 10

Marsh Valerian: Flower buds starting to show at Warblington Farm on Apr 13

Corn Salad: After finding the first flowers here in Havant on Apr 7 I have since seen more in Westbourne on Apr 9 and others (with white rather than blue flowers) in my own road here in Havant.

Ox-eye Daisy: These had just started to open their flowers near the Langstone roundabout on the A27 by Apr 13

Butterbur: This is now coming to the end of its flowering season but has had a bad year - in Brook Meadow at Emsworth a count made by Brian Fellows found only 272 flower spikes compared to a peak of 458 in 2001 (but only 240 in 2002). There was an even poorer showing by the River Ems at Racton this year.

Scentless Mayweed: This continued over-winter flowering to at least Feb 23 but I have not seen any since then. Brian Fellows noted the first flowers of the new season at Langstone on Apr 12

Three-cornered Leek: Several plants flowering in Nore Barn woodland at Emsworth on Apr 10

Yellow Flag: I have seen eccentric winter flowering plants earlier in the year but three tall plants holding their flowers aloft in the Homewell stream pool alongside Dolphin Court on Apr 12 marked a proper start to their flowering season.

Early Purple Orchid: On Apr 14 I found 27 flowering spikes in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth and counted 29 in the Redwood Groves of Stansted Forest that same day.

Early Spider Orchid: This started to flower at Durlston on Mar 31 and by Apr 12 the Durlston website told us that in some patches they were by then more common than daisies (but they did not tell us how many daisies there were!)

Divided Sedge: This was flowering at Emsworth Brook Meadow on Apr 12 (and at Warblington farm next day)

Pendulous Sedge: This also had started to flower in Emsworth by Apr 12 and was out at Warblington on Apr 13

Glaucous Sedge: Flowering on Portsdown on Apr 11

Spring Sedge: Flowering at Durlston country park on Apr 7

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bat species: On Apr 12 seawatchers at Seaford were counting the birds flying east along the channel and also those summer migrants coming in off the sea and among the latter they listed 'a medium sized bat' but could not name its species

Grey Mullet: These fish come to coastal waters to spawn at this time of the year and on Apr 8 a shoal of perhaps 300 fish had got into the Emsworth Slipper Mill pool (of which the sluice gates are occasionally open to flush the water out)

Slow Worm: First sighting of the year comes from Kingley Vale on Apr 14


Summary for Apr 2 - 8 (Week 14 of 2007)

BIRDS

Black-necked Grebe: Last report of them in Langstone Harbour seems to have been on March 2 when 13 were still present. More up to date and exciting news comes from Rye Harbour where, on Apr 1, visitors could still see two birds, one of them in full breeding plumage. By Apr 6 one was still present but that was the one in drab winter plumage.

Little Egret: Any of these which intend to breed this year will by now be at the places where they nest and so numbers at the main winter night roosts are minimal. Figures from Rye Harbour show this with a peak count (for the current year) of 57 on Feb 5, decreasing to 30 on Mar 21 and just 27 on Apr 7. With high tide well after sunset in the week beginning Apr 16 we should be able to get a good count of the birds still using the Langstone pond roost in that week.

Great White Egret: After regular reports of on at the Blashford Lakes in the first three weeks of the year there have been no reports from anywhere since Jan 21 until now when there has been just one report from Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour on Apr 4.

Spoonbill: Still seven birds being reported from Dorset, five in Poole Harbour on Apr 4 when two were at Lodmoor (Weymouth). On Apr 5 a single first year bird was briefly seen at Titchfield Haven (and only three were reported from Poole Harbour, but that does not mean that others were not still present in that huge area).

Mute Swan: Eggs were seen in both the Emsworth nests on Apr 2 (4 eggs in the Peter Pond roadside nest and at least two in the less easily seen Slipper Pond). On Apr 4 a pair was sitting on a nest in the Northney Marina saltings but that may well be flooded by the spring tides in April and May. On Apr 6 the Budds Farm pools pair were apparently sitting on a nest on the bank dviding the middle from the landward pool.

Canada Goose: A pair were back on the Budds Farm pools on Apr 6, seen near the small island at the seaward end of the pools where they have nested before but which is now very over-grown with brambles.

Brent: On Apr 6 there were still at least 66 on the north shore of Langstone Harbour but that same day brought reports of 49 passing Selsey, 300 passing Beachy Head and 1290 passing Dungeness.

Shelduck: I have not seen a flock on the mud between Langstone and Northney since Mar 21 but there are still a few thinking of nesting locally and on Apr 6 I found three pairs on the Budds Farm pools and a fourth pair on the harbour just off the pools.

Mallard: A family of 9 ducklings had been seen at Titchfield Haven on Mar 31 and now there is news of 8 ducklings at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 2

Garganey: On Apr 2 I may possibly have seen one at Warblington Farm. Coming round some trees and bushes which hid me from a small pool in the stream a small brown duck got up from the pool about 5 metres from me and I had a clear view of the speculum which was brown, with no hint of green, suggesting that the bird was not a Teal. By size it could only have been a Teal or Garganey and the fact that it did not 'spring' into the air like a Teal, and did not swerve in flight as a Teal would normally do when flushed, all suggested that this might have been a Garganey. Against that was that I could see no white trailing edge to the wing, nor any pale supercilium, and if anything the bird looked smaller than, rather than slightly larger than, a Teal.

Honey Buzzard: On Apr 3 the SOS website had the following entry from one their regular contributors (Chris Seaton) - it said "Migrant Honey Buzzard drifting north across Pagham Harbour towards Sidlesham today at 10.00am viewed from the West Side path". This was followed up by an entry on Apr 6 from Ivan Lang, warden for Pagham Harbour, stating (with no reservations about the veracity of the observations). that Honey Buzzard had been seen again over the harbour on both Apr 5 and 6. This is a very early date for Honey Buzzard and a check in the latest Hampshire Bird Report shows the earliest arrival date recorded in Hampshire pre-2006 was 21 Apr 1996. A similar check in the latest Sussex Bird Report tells me that up to six pairs of Honey Buzzard have bred in Sussex in nine consecutive years (1997 - 2005) but the table of migrant arrival dates in the Sussex report does not include Honey Buzzard - looking at the species entries for the years in question the earliest reported date is 30 Apr 2005 (over Brighton) but the great majority of these birds manage to arrive without being seen at all at the coast - however several coastal sightings have been at Pagham, and with spring arriving earlier each year there seems no reason to suppose that Honey Buzzards should hold back their arrival dates.

Red Kite: There seems to be an assumption that the Red Kites now in Britain have only arrived here courtesy of British Airways (or whatever means of transport has been used by those importing birds into this country in order to improve our 'quality of life' now that is being measured by the British Government), and that the increase in Buzzard numbers has been solely due to expansion of the west country population pushing eastward. Yet in recent years there has been an increasing number of spring records of both species along our south coast and it seems to be becoming accepted nowadays that part of the population expansion in this country is due to birds arriving here from the continent of their own free will. As far as Kites are concerned the latest crop of new reports includes sightings of one going north west over Eastleigh on Apr 1, one low over Portsmouth going east on Apr 2, one east over Worthing on Apr 5, and three reports of north bound birds on Apr 6 from Shanklin (IoW), Worthing, and Burgess Hill. Just before these one flew north over Crowhurst (by the rail line north of Hastings) in the company of 5 Buzzards on Mar 28 (and on Mar 26 Paul James reported "Seven Common Buzzards flushed from a hawthorn thicket on the north side of Truleigh Hill late afternoon circled round and then departed west suggesting that they were probably migrants" Truleigh Hill is on the Downs north of Shoreham)

Osprey: There have now been 15 reports of arriving Ospreys and the rate of arrival is increasing with six reports in April including one at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Apr 2 and one in the Lymington area (at Normandy) on Apr 6 (one of the early birds was there on Mar 25).

Hobby: The first (and so far only) report of an arriving migrant came from the Warnham nature reserve at Horsham on Apr 3

Common Crane: The bird that was at Pulborough Brooks from Mar 31 to Apr 2 has not been reported since then.

Little Ringed Plover: A total of 17 reports since the start of April shows that these are now back in strength. At West Bexington (west of Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast) a party of seven arrived on Apr 2 and on Apr 6 there were Hampshire reports from both the Test and Avon valleys

Lapwing: These are now putting on a great show at Farlington Marshes and to the north of Havant the six birds seen on the Gipsies Plain (grassland immediately south of Havant Thicket) on Mar 24 were still holding territory and displaying there on Apr 5

Jack Snipe: The land north of Horsea Island in Portsmouth Harbour, which was washed by the tides until around 1970 (when it was reclaimed for construction of the M27 motorway), retained large pools favoured by birds until 1988 (when the pools were drained to provide landfill for rubbish and for the construction of Port Solent marina). Even now it not been totally lost as wildlife habitat as is proved by a report of a Jack Snipe seen there on Apr 6.

Woodcock: First report of roding for the year comes from Emer Bog, in the Baddesley area east of Romsey, on Apr 4

Black-tailed Godwit: The monthly update of the Titchfield Haven website took place this week and gives a count of 425 Blackwits there on Mar 11 (highest count for the reserve this year). There were still 135 at Titchfield on Mar 31, and the highest figure reported anywhere since the beginning of April has been 96 birds off Langstone village on Apr 3

Whimbrel: Five birds going east past Worthing on Mar 27 seemed to be the first passage birds but no others were reported until Apr 3 when 4 flew in off the sea at Cuckmere near Beachy Head, one arrived at Portland and both Rye Harbour and the nearby Pannell Valley reported two birds. Apr 4 brought one bird past Durlston Head (maybe the one seen in Poole Harbour next day) and on Apr 6 two birds turned up at Christchurch Harbour.

Common Sandpiper: One seen at Horsea Island on the north shore of Portsmouth Harbour on Apr 6 may have been a migrant as there have been no reports of wintering birds there....

Med Gull: There are now at least 285 birds at Rye Harbour where the birds returning to roost in the harbour after foraging in fields during the day were counted at dusk on Apr 5

Common Tern: First definite report of a migrant comes from Dungeness on Apr 6 and their arrival on that day is backed up by a report of a Commic Tern passing Selsey that day.

Wood Pigeon: Christchurch Harbour reported the first sign of spring passage when 165 went west over the Harbour on Mar 28 and we now have further reports of 289 over Hastings country park on Apr 5 and 200+ over Pett Level on Apr 6.

Tawny Owl: One pair nesting in an old beech tree at Stansted Forest had hatched two young by Apr 4 when tree surgeons climbed the tree, found the nest, and had to abandon their attempt to prune the tree (as they had to do with the same tree last summer when they found an active Hornets nest in the same cavity that the owls are now using).

Short-eared Owl: Apr 5 saw one fly in off the sea at Portland and also brought a report from Pagham Harbour of what was probably another migrant returning from the south

Yellow Wagtail: The first arrivals were on Apr 4 when single birds were reported from Portland, Poole Harbour, and Titchfield Haven. Three more reports came on Apr 6 from the IoW (Yarmouth), Pett Level on Rye Bay and Dungeness RSPB reserve.

Robin: I know that Magpies have no compunction about eating any eggs or young birds that they can find but on Apr 6 I was surprised to see, in my garden, a Magpie with a dying or dead adult Robin in its bill. Soon after this the Magpie flew off with the Robin's head in its bill, confirming that the Robin was definitely dead. I can only suppose that when the Magpie got uncomfortably close to the Robin's nest one of the parent birds confronted it and came off worst.

Common Redstart: First migrant arrival of the year was at Portland on Apr 3, with 2 seen there next day (followed by singles on Apr 5 and 6 - nothing to say if these were additional birds). Two more did turn up at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 6.

Fieldfare: A flock of around 550 birds was in the Cheesefoot Head area east of Winchester on Apr 3 and was probably the last substantial flock for the winter though 3 birds were seen near Romsey on Apr 4 and one came in at Portland on Apr 5.

Redwing: Last report to date was of one bird at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 6 (and last flock was of 15 birds by the R Itchen near Eastleigh on Apr 1).

Sedge Warbler: Just one was at Pagham Harbour on Apr 6 - first of the year.

Reed Warbler: We have already heard of an early bird at Horsham on Mar 26 but no more have been reported so far.

Lesser Whitethroat: First of the year was singing at Rye Harbour on Apr 5 and on Apr 6 one was by the Beaulieu River in Hampshire

Common Whitethroat: A female type bird which had been seen at Christchurch Harbour in the winter (in December and on Jan 5) was probably the one seen again at Christchurch on Mar 28. Definite migrants were one seen at Hastings country park on Apr 5 and (maybe the same bird) at Pett on Apr 6. There was also a singing male (plus a female which is thought to have been the winter bird) at Christchurch on Apr 6, and the CHOG website entry described this as being a migrant, but it was not their first as that had arrived on Mar 29 when their website said .. "a singing Whitethroat by the Barn definitely qualifies as a migrant" giving Christchurch the first migrant arrival on Mar 29.

Blackcap: Migrant birds have been heard passing north up the old rail line behind my house since Mar 26 but on Mar 7 one stayed in that area, singing all day (and again today - Apr 8). Major arrivals occurred on Mar 22 (25 birds at Christchurch), Mar 28 (24 at Christchurch), Apr 3 (15 at Portland), Apr 5 (14 at Hastings) and Apr 6 (10 at Portland and 30 at Christchurch).

Willow Warbler: These have been arriving since Mar 26 and major arrivals have been on Apr 3 (60 birds at Portland) and on Apr 6 when there were reports from seven sites including Portland (100 birds) and Christchurch (380 birds)

Pied Flycatcher: First and only report so far is of one at Portland on Apr 6

Bearded Tit: First hint of passage by these birds came on Apr 3 when three birds made a short flight over the top of the Hengistbury Head centre at Christchurch.

Jay: These are not normally seen around the South Moors at Langstone so one flying east and perching briefly in tree tops above the Langbrook stream on Apr 6 was probably on the move as were four birds seen on Apr 2 heading over Christchurch Harbour.

Magpie: As noted above one was seen in my garden on Apr 6 dismembering an adult Robin which it had presumably just killed (perhaps when the Magpie was intending to predate the Robin's nest and was confronted by the Robin).

Hooded Crow: These are the normal version of Carrion Crow to be found to the north of us in Scotland and to the south in Scandinavia, eastern Europe, Italy and all mediterranean countries east of Italy. How it comes about that a hybrid between the two races was to be seen at Christchurch Harbour for at least a week from Mar 27 to Apr 3 is unknown.

Starling: These are noticeable by their absence as breeding birds from the area around Havant this spring (just one or two pairs seen in any one birding expedition where they used to be omnipresent)

Serin: So far this year I have only heard of one (unconfirmed) report of one seen at Durlston on Mar 13, but there are now confirmed reports of a single female seen at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 4, 5 and 6.

INSECTS

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: We now have six reports - the first, on Mar 28, was on the Southbourne undercliff at Bournemouth and is thought to have been the emergence of a local resident but the five others, starting on Apr 2, were at Portland, Durlston and Rye and could well be early migrants

Large White: First of the year was seen on Portsdown on Apr 2 by Theo Roberts making his first butterfly transect during which he saw at least 8 species (Large and Small White, Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Peacock, Orange Tip and Green Hairstreak) - on the same day there were also Comma and Speckled Wood in his garden at the foot of Portsdown. Three more sightings were made on Apr 6 at Portland, Bignor on the Sussex Downs and Rye town.

Green-veined White: Three reports so far - the first at Heathfield (near Crowborough) on Apr 5, and the second at Edburton in West Sussex on Apr 6 when another was seen in Lewes.

Orange Tip: These have emerged in force since Apr 1 but the very first sighting is undated and comes at third hand (John Goodspeed heard of it from Richard Jones, warden for Portsdown Hill wildlife, who was told of it by a dog walker). My guess is that this could have been as early as Mar 30. From Apr 1 to 6 I have heard of 13 more sightings including at least three females.

Green Hairstreak: Two sightings, both on Apr 2. One was on Portsdown, the other on Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester

Small Copper: Again two sightings so far - one in the Warsash-Titchfield area on Apr 1 and the other at Portland on Apr 4

Holly Blue: These have now been out for a whole month (first at Gosport on Mar 7 when another was seen at Reading) but sadly there have only been nine subsequent sightings, the latest being at Steyning and Peacehaven, both in W Sussex, on Apr 6

Painted Lady: I have already reported one seen at Cissbury Ring on the downs north of Worthing on Mar 27 and there is just one further report from Brighton on Apr 4 - perhaps these were migrants as well as the Clouded Yellows?

Small Tortoiseshell: The news of these is not too bad with 39 reports to date this spring.

Large Tortoiseshell: Portland Bill has now reported three sightings of this species - one on Jan 28, one on Mar 3 and the latest on Apr 6. The first two were positively identified and photographed while the third is only possible. Some might think that a 'practical joker' is at work at Portland but if so they took a day trip to Crawley where a pristine butterfly was positively identified on Mar 7 (and may have been seen distantly and taken to be a Comma on Mar 3)

Camberwell Beauty: On Apr 5 one was seen and photographed at Portland - the first ever seen there. Maybe another effort by the 'practical joker'? I think not.

Peacock: I have recorded 81 reports of this species against 100 of Brimstone so far (and these are certainly not all that I have heard of!)

Comma: This comes in third with 56 reports.

Speckled Wood: Even I have now seen one (at Havant Thicket on Apr 5) but they do not seem to be as numerous as I would have hoped with only 22 reports getting into my database since the first was seen on the IoW on Mar 11

Moths

Emperor Moth: One male seen on the Sussex Downs at Cissbury Ring on Apr 2 is the only report so far

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: I now have 43 reports in my database, mostly from coastal sites suggesting that some may be migrant arrivals (though I suspect the majority have hibernated here)

Shuttle-shaped Dart: A very early emergence on Apr 2 suggests that the caterpillars of this moth (which normally hibernate and do not restart eating until around this time of year, well before they pupate) have been munching away non-stop through the winter.

Blossom Underwing: First was trapped at Pagham Harbour on Apr 5

Silver-Y: Another probably migrant was trapped at Pagham on Apr 5 (one earlier record at Portland on Feb 1)

Other insects

Tipula vittata: This cranefly is a small version of the Daddy Long-legs and the first report comes from Hastings on Apr 2 when females were already laying their eggs. With the apparent shortage of Starlings which normally consume many of the Craneflies Leatherjacket grubs I wonder if we will have more of these insects than we want in the early summer?

Bee Fly: The first report comes from Stockbridge Down (west of Winchester) on Apr 2. A second report was from Durlston country park on Apr 4 and I had one in my Havant garden on Apr 6

Oil Beetle: The first report of this large beetle species which has very short elytra (wing cases), leaving most of its abdomen uncovered, came from Durlston on Mar 28. We now have a second sighting from Lake on the IoW on Apr 5

PLANTS

Horse-tails: Fertile cones of both Field and Great Horsetail were found at Warblington Farm on Apr 3

Bracken: My first sight of unfurling fronds came on Apr 5

Small-flowered Buttercup: Durlston country park reported this uncommon species of coastal grassland in flower on Apr 1

Goldilocks Buttercup: Not yet seen in flower but on Apr 5 I found a good showing of plants with fully formed but closed flower buds at Pyle Lane near Horndean

Honesty: This had started to flower in the Langstone area on Apr 4

Hoary Cress: Several plants had started to open their flowers at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Apr 4 (a good couple of weeks earlier than normal)

Red Campion: The first fresh flowers were out by the Langbrook stream on Apr 6

Sea Campion: No local reports yet but this was flowering at Durlston on Apr 5

Wood Sorrel: A good show of flowers found on Apr 5 in the Havant Thicket area

Wild Strawberry: Plants with the larger flowers and 'leaf tip points' distinguishing this from Barren Strawberry were found at Rowlands Castle on Apr 5

Basford Willow: These were starting to show their catkins at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 6

Docks: Both Curled and Broad-leaved have begun opening their flowers this week

Scarlet Pimpernel: I saw the first flowers in Havant on Apr 6

Grey Field Speedwell: On Apr 6 plants in Havant churchyard, which have been flowering since Feb 23, had at last developed seed capsules to confirm their identity as Grey, not Green, Field Speedwell (which the all blue flowers should have told me from the start!)

Field Woundwort: I had found some roadside plants flowering on Feb 23 and have now (Apr 2) found more in one of the Warblington farm arable fields

Early Forget-me-not: I had first seen this near the Ferry Inn on Hayling on Mar 27 and on Apr 4 found more flowering on the 'earth mound' at the Hayling Oysterbeds

Blue-eyed Mary: This was flowering alongside Green Alkanet at Great Wellsworth Farm (Rowlands Castle) on Apr 5, enabling anyone confused by the similarities of the two species to see how very different they are (Apologies for calling this plant Bloody Mary in my diary entry for the day)

Ribwort Plantain: Many plants had flower heads (but not yet flowering) on Apr 6 - some must be out by now

Corn Salad: The pale blue flowers of this plant were to be found on the old wall of the Pallant carpark here in Havant on Apr 7

Cleavers: Just one tiny white flower had opened for me on Apr 7

Crosswort: The first show of yellow flowers had opened at Rowlands Castle on Apr 5

Beaked Hawksbeard: The first flowers of this were seen in Havant on Apr 6

Prickly Sowthistle: The first plant which I have seen since Jan 12 was in flower in Havant on Apr 6

Snakeshead Fritillary: What were presumably garden escapes were seen flowering at Rye on Apr 5 (I have been looking out for those at the main road end of Mill Lane at Langstone but not spotted them yet)

Neapolitan Garlic: Just one large white flowerhead poking out above nettles and thistle leaves on the side of Southmoor Lane (where cars now park before the road block near the Budds Farm pools) attracted my attention on Apr 6 and the distinctive flowerhead, plus measurement of the leaf width (2cm) confirmed the identity of this unexpected find (which should seen appear in Nore Barn woodland at Emsworth)

Lords and Ladies: Unsheathed flowers were found on south Hayling on Mar 28 and on Apr 2 others were found in Pook lane at Warblington.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Brook Lamprey: On Apr 6 Bob Chapman saw at least one of these strange creatures in the Dockens Water stream which comes down from the Fritham area of the New Forest and runs through the Blashford Lakes area before entering the River Avon above Ringwood. I have no idea how common they are but do recall hearing of them in two other streams back on 2003 when, on Mar 24, Charles Cuthbert found seven of them actively spawning in a tributary of the Itchen at Abbots Barton (north of Winchester) and later, on Nov 7, Richard Carpenter found dead Lampreys in what I imagine was the headwater of the Hamble at Titchfield. From what I have read about them they seem to have a really pointless existence - they spend the first five years of their life behaving like worms buried in mud and detritus in a stream bed, growing slowly by straining organic particles from the mud. In the last year of their life, when they are about 25 cm long, they look like small eels with a row of holes behind their eyes (allowing water to flow over internal gills) and sucker type mouth parts (which in the larger River and Sea Lamprey species clamp onto larger fishes which they parasitise). In this adult stage their guts atrophy and they do not feed but devote themselve solely to the business of mating and spawning. Their sucker mouths are then not used for feeding but do come in useful for lifting stones from the stream bed to clear a spawning area.


To see Summaries for Jan, Feb and Mar 2007 go to JAN-MAR SUMMARIES


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