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WEEKLY SUMMARY


Summary for June 30 - July 6 (Week 26 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Increasing numbers of Balearic Shearwaters led me to refresh my memory on the recent history of this species. The only rarities this week have been Black-winged Stilt at Beaulieu and Melodious Warbler at Portland but most of the week's news is taken up with the beginnings of autumn passage.

Golden Ringed dragonflies are new this week, as are Lulworth Skipper, Chalkhill Blue and Grayling butterflies. New moths include the Yellow-tail (close relative of the dreaded Brown-tail) and a very rare Sussex Emerald which is not to be found in Sussex

Three very colourful new flowers this week are Marsh Woundwort, Betony and Round-headed Rampion. Another very colourful plant, Red Hemp-nettle, is only likely to be seen at Rye Harbour (or on the Rye Bay website), but the local high spot of the week was a find of Moth Mullein at Prinsted (also locally noteworthy was Crown Vetch at its only Havant site). Common plants that everyone can enjoy from now on include Great Willowherb, Fleabane, Vervain and Golden Samphire on the harbour shores

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: One seen off the north Kent coast on July 1 was very unexpected so far south at this time of year - it was not in breeding plumage so presumably one of last year's young

Black-necked Grebe: The last report of winter birds in Langstone Harbour which got into any news that I see was of 9 birds seen from the Oysterbeds on Feb 24 but a couple of these birds were reported at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood up to Mar 21 and a single bird was in the Pagham Harbour lagoon until Mar 31. That seemed to be the end of the winter birds but a few occasionally stay on in southern England and they have bred in Hampshire but an isolated report of one at Rye Harbour on May 19, and now in this week's news a report of one in Langstone Harbour on June 6, are more likely to be of vagrants rather than breeders.

Balearic Shearwater: On July 3 Portland reported 40 of these offshore and on July 4 that number increased to 60, beating an estimated count of 50 seen passing Portland on Jan 13. As these birds are said to be a rare and endangered species, while at the same time apparently increasing in number in the English Channel each year, I have had a look into the available info on the species.

It seems that until about 30 years ago the Shearwaters found in the Mediterranean were regarded as variants of the Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus), but they were then separated off as Mediterranean Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), and when Birds of Hampshire was published in 1993 these two are the only ones which are listed, the Mediterranean Shearwater having only four Hampshire records to its name. The situation was similar in Sussex with a single bird seen in 1992 and then none until 1996 when 6 were seen, and in 1997 another 5 appeared while 1998 saw the start of the more frequent sightings nowadays with more than 25 seen.

The 1999 Sussex Bird Report is the last to list Mediterranean Shearwater as P. yelkouan, sightings in the 2000 report are under the same English name but with P. mauretanicus as the scientific name, reflecting the designation of these western Mediterranean based birds as a separate species (P. yelkouan is still the name for the birds found in the eastern Mediterranean but they do not come into the English Channel - and never did!)

Coming back to the increasing numbers seen off our south coast I have no firm information - global warming? lack of food in the Mediterranean? more and better observer coverage here?

Storm Petrel: Still being seen in the Channel - on June 29 one was seen from Sandy Point on Hayling and on July 2 one flew west past Christchurch Harbour

Mute Swan: The saga of the six cygnets continues. I think we can be sure that the Langstone Pond pair do have six surviving cygnets and that they do wander away from the Langbrook stream mouth at times but the pair seen with six young on a couple of occasions in Emsworth Harbour do not necessarily come from Langstone as on July 4 I saw a family of this description on the Thorney Little Deeps and I doubt the Langstone family would climb the high Thorney seawall to get to the Little Deeps - so maybe a pair did breed on the Little Deeps in some new hidden nest site and it is this family that has twice visited Emsworth Harbour.

A second 'surprise' Swan family was 'discovered' on July 2 by Brian Fellows in Emsworth marina where they must have nested late as their four cygnets are still tiny compared to the family of six. Two of these four have the pale white down of 'Polish' birds.

Brent Goose: Fewer than usual seem to have stayed in Langstone Harbour this summer. A group of 13 seen at the mouth of the Langbrook stream on Apr 22 were thought likely to be staying but the only reports since then have been of a group of three birds seen in the harbour on June 6 and 14,

Tufted Duck: These are late breeders and the first brood of ducklings was seen at Rye Harbour on June 26 with a second brood of five tiny ducklings on the Thorney Little Deeps on July 4

Goosander: One or two pairs have bred in the Avon valley in recent years and so reports of a single female at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on June 2 and 22 are not unexpected - hopefully they do not reflect failed breeding.

Red Kite: On June 15 one flew low over a conservation work party at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and waggled its tail in approval of their efforts.

Eagle species: On June 28 a non-birding couple were driving from South Harting over Harting Down towards Chichester and had to slow down and swerve to avoid an Eagle hungrily devouring prey and not going to let anyone else muscle in on its meal. The bird was almost certainly an escape (maybe one recently lost in France) and perhaps its familiarity with humans accounted for its lack of fear when the car came close to it. A similar sighting on June 29 of an Eagle eating carrion on the road near Kirdford (headwaters of the R Arun some 25 km north east of Harting Down) may have been the same bird

Osprey: I have now seen eight reports of Ospreys heading south since the first was seen near Canterbury on June 11. On June 29 one reached Langstone Harbour and was still there next day, seen fishing from the Hayling Oysterbeds. Latest reports are of one in Poole Harbour and another heading for the coast at Worthing, both on July 1. Late news of a bird staying in Chichester Harbour during June comes in Keith Betton's monthly summary of Hampshire birding for June - he reports sightings from the Black Point area of Hayling on five dates between June 7 and 28.

Kestrel: A family of four young in a nest on Christchurch Priory were said to be near leaving their nest on July 4 and I assume other broods are currently fledging which means that we may soon enjoy the sight of the parents teaching their young to catch prey by hovering - during this process lines of up to half a dozen Kestrels can be seen hovering, spaced out up to 100 metres apart, over open country such as Sinah Common on Hayling

Peregrine: The people of Paulsgrove, an area of dense housing by the M27 at the foot of Portsdown, are currently able to watch a pair of adult Peregrines perching on electricity pylons as a base from which to catch local pigeons and take them to two young still in their nest high on the chalk cliff of the big Chalk Pit that is visible from anywhere in the Portsmouth Harbour area.

Quail: Two heard in crops at Over Wallop near Andover on July 1- the fourteenth site where they have been reported this year

Oystercatcher: Recent correspondence on HOSLIST has shown that it is not uncommon for Oystercathers and other wader species that would breed on shingle beaches to nest on flat rooves of buildings, especially if the rooves are covered with pea gravel (intended, I think, to prolong the live of the tarred felt roofing material, not to simulate a beach environment). Oystercatchers have nested on a Fareham roof for several years and now Geoff Farwell tells us of a pair doing so on a Portsmouth office roof

Black-winged Stilt: Two birds seen and photographed by a good many birders in the Beaulieu River/Pond at Beaulieu village on June 30 were initially reported as female with a juvenile (suggesting local breeding) but later thought by more experienced observers to be a male and female pair, very likely the pair which had just flown south from a failed attempt at breeding in Cheshire. It seems that this was a one day stand, the birds stopping to feed up before heading south-east across the channel.

Little Ringed Plover: An increase in the number of adults at The Vyne (National Trust estate at Basingstoke) is said to be a sign that these birds are already moving south on their autumn passage

Ruff: One was back at Rye Harbour on July 4, the first seen there since Apr 6 and so presumably on autumn passage

Lapwing: Many birds have now left their breeding sites and returned to the coast so I was surprised to find 6 birds still present on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket on July 1 (there may have been more as I did not look at the areas where most birds have been seen on previous visits)

Black-tailed Godwit: The arrival of 5 summer plumaged birds at Christchurch Harbour on June 28 seems to mark the start of the return of the Iceland birds. On June 29 Pulborough Brooks reported some back there and 3 were back at Ferrybridge (Weymouth). On July 2 some 20 were seen at Farlington Marshes, probably returning birds but the report did not say if they were summer plumaged to confirm this. Looking at reports from the Oare Marshes (near Faversham in north Kent) I see that the flock there has been increasing since mid-June (when just one bird was present) to a total of 330+ on July 4 but I am not sure if these are returning Icelandic birds, non-breeders with no settled abode, or even birds of the main race (not the Icelandic sub-species). Looking further back I see that the Oare Marshes attracted around 200 birds in mid-April but then presumably left to breed and are now returning.

Whimbrel: The first autumn passage bird flew over Sway (New Milton) on June 28, another went over Wareham Forest (west of Poole Harbour) on June 29, a third was heard over Durlston on June 30 and the first passed over Portland on July 3. One or two summering birds have remained in Chichester Harbour (two seen on June 3), Langstone Harbour (3 on June 6) and Southampton Water (1 on June 9)

Spotted Redshank: The first arrived back in Kent on June 9 but it was not until June 30 that the first returning bird was reported elsewhere on the south coast (one summer plumaged bird at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour)

Greenshank: Two at Christchurch Harbour on July 3 were said to be the first there for some time and both Brian Fellows (on July 2) and myself (on July 4) heard their calls at the Thorney Deeps. On July 5 two more were heard ont the shore of Southampton Water indicating a general movement of passage birds

Green Sandpiper: These two are starting to move through in good numbers - on July 2 5 were at Pulborough Brooks and by July 4 the count at Rye Harobur was up to 7 - on July 5 the first was seen at The Vyne near Basingstoke

Common Sandpiper: These are now numerous and widespread along the south coast

Med Gull: Juvenile Black-headed Gulls are now being seen at several coastal sites and no doubt we will soon be seeing the duller plumaged juvenile Med Gulls locally as 34 juveniles were already fledged at Rye Harbour by June 28 when 3 juveniles were visible at Newtown Harbour on the IoW. Another sign of the times, following the end of the breeding season, is the gathering of gulls at their 'summer holiday resorts' where they can feel safe during their moult to replace all their worn feathers with a new set to carry them through the coming winter. One such place for Med Gulls is the Badminston Common gravel pits in the south east of the New Forest area near Fawley, and on July 2 more than 174 Med Gulls were already there.

Black-headed Gull: On June 30 ginger plumaged juveniles were seen locally at Budds Farm pools and in Langstone Harbour at the mouth of the Langbrook stream and on July 4 a gathering of more than 100 Black-headed Gulls on the Thorney Little Deeps was a reminder that they too are coming to the end of their breeding season and moving to moult areas (the water of the Little Deeps is not one of these but there are big areas of open grassland around the Great Deeps which will suit them)

Yellow-legged Gull: This species breeds in the Mediterranean (a few now breed on the south coast of England, sometimes pairing with local Herring Gulls) but many arrive here post-breeding and a sizeable flock builds up at the head of Southampton Water (Eling Great Marsh area) from July onwards. On July 2 the first seven of these gulls could be seen looking across the water from Redbridge on the Southampton side and by August the flock may increase to the peak of 174 seen there in 2004. Other sites they favour are Poole Harbour (177 there on 31 July 2007) and Pagham Harbour (108 present on 2 Aug 2007).

As an aside here some Hampshire birders will recollect that the leucistic Herring Gull which has been seen in Southampton Water for five years or more was originally found (I think) by Richard Bonser when he was a student at Southampton University and the bird became unofficially known as Larus argentatus bonserii. When making a Google search for Yellow-legged gull for this summary I mis-spelt Larus michahellis as Larus micahellis and Google gave me a link to Richard Bonser's current website (as he had made the same spelling error) so if anyone who has lost touch with him wants to know of his recent birding they should go to http://www.freewebs.com/richbonser/

Little Tern: Just one of the thirty chicks hatched at the Hayling Oysterbeds was still alive on July 1 but it has already been seen airborne (just lifting briefly off the ground as it exercises its wings) and it seems to know where to take cover from aggressive gulls when its parents are away fishing so there is a good chance that it will survive

Ring-necked Parakeet: These remain rarities in Hampshire so a sighting of one eating apples in a garden five miles from Alresford on July 3 is of interest.

Tawny Owl: On July 2 I was told that hesitant hooting coming from the trees lining the Hayling Billy Trail just north of the A27, where the track runs parallel to Lower Grove Road, suggested that a recently fledged young owl had recently moved in there. I suspect that the night-long noise from the A27 may not be to the liking of the owl's sensitive hearing and the bird may well seek a more peaceful site elsewhere.

Swift: Increased numbers are being seen at many sites, presumably reflecting the increased need for parents to being food to nests which now contain hungry young. This was reflected locally by the presence of 8 birds over my part of Havant on the evening of July 1.

Sand Martin: More than 800 flew south at Sandwich Bay on June 29 - failed breeders leaving already? By July 4 there had been reports of birds moving south at six other sites and a report of 9 juveniles at Cuckmere Haven near Beachy Head indicates that this is a normal end of breeding movement, not just the departure of failed breeders.

Whinchat: A male at Culver Down (near Bembridge, IoW) on July 4 is the first indication of the autumn departure of this species

Melodious Warbler: One was trapped at Portland on July 4 (another had been seen at Beachy Head on May 29)

Long-tailed Tit: On July 3 a combined flock of 38 Long-tailed Tits, accompanied by Blue and Great Tits, moved past the Sandwich Bay Observatory

Corvid flocks: On July 4 the Sandwich Bay Observatory reported a mixed flock of 560 Crows and Jackdaws in a field near the Observatory and on July 5 a flock of 100 Crows were on the shore of Southampton Water at Weston

Crossbill: Latest reports are of 7 at Wareham Forest on June 29, 11 over Christchurch Harbour and 3 over Durlston on June 30. Since then July 3 brought 13 to Portland and 7 to Stedham Common near Midhurst

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Golden-ringed Dragonfly: First of the year in Pamber Forest, north of Basingstoke, on June 30 and another was seen at Iping Common near Midhurst on July 3

Common Darter: Several were seen in the Peasmarsh area near Rye on July 1

Butterflies

Small Skipper: After early isolated reports on June 17, 22 and 24 they began to emerge in strength from June 28 when they were seen in Havant Thicket, and on June 30 more than 200 were seen in the Friston Forest area near Eastbourne. I saw my first around the Havant Thicket area on July 1 when more were seen at Farley Mount near Winchester

Lulworth Skipper: First seen at Durlston on June 29

Green-veined White: Regular sightings of the first brood ceased at the end of May and a report of 2 at Gosport on June 19 was probably the early start of the summer brood. Another two were seen in woods at the west end of Portsdown on June 24 and one was seen in the New Forest on July 2, then on July 4 they started to emerge in force with sghtings of four in the Kingley Vale area north of Chichester, two on the Langstone South Moors and one in Pamber Forest north of Basingstoke.

Small Copper: A very fresh specimen at Stockbridge Down on June 30 was probably the second of the summer brood following one near Newhaven on June 28 (none seen previously since May 31). On July 4 two were at Kingley Vale in the Chichester area

Chalkhill Blue: 5 seen on July 1on the Downs behind Brighton were the first reported this year and they were out on Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on July 4

Painted Lady: One seen near the shore in the Worthing area on July 1 may have been a newly arrived migrant but it has not yet been followed up by others

Grayling: First of the year seen at Durlston on July 4

Gatekeeper: In 2007 the first was out in Hampshire on June 3 but this year we had to wait until June 23 for a single to appear at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester. The next were 2 on Thorney Island on June 27 followed by 1 at Stockbridge Down on June 30 but maybe they have now got going with 6 seen near Brighton (and 1 in Havant Thicket) on July 1 - since then there have been reports from four other areas.

Moths

Orange Pine Twist (1001 Lozotaeniodes formosanus): First at Friston near Eastbourne on July 4

Eucosma obumbratana (1202): First at Portland on July 2

The Lackey (1634 Malacosoma neustria): First at Friston near Eastbourne on July 4

The Drinker (1640 Philudoria potatoria): First at Friston near Eastbourne on July 4

The Lappet (1642 Gastropacha quercifolia): First at Friston near Eastbourne on July 4

Sussex Emerald (1672 Thalera fimbrialis): First at Dungeness on June 30 - this is a very rare species in England, found only on shingle sites (although the foodplant is the universally found Yarrow) and no longer found anywhere in Sussex.

Bordered Beauty (1907 Epione repandaria): First at Portland on July 2

Early Thorn (1917 Selenia dentaria): First in Sussex on July 2 (early for a moth normally appearing in August)

Brussels Lace (1945 Cleorodes lichenaria): First in Sussex on July 2

The Vapourer (2026 Orgyia antiqua): First of year at Horsham on June 28

Yellow-tail (2030 Euproctis similis): First in Sussex on July 2

Dingy Footman (2044 Eilema griseola): First at Dungeness on July 2

Silvery Arches (2149 Polia hepatica): First at Friston near Eastbourne on July 4

Grey Arches (2150 Polia nebulosa): First at Portland on June 30 - only the fifth record there in recent years

Brown-line Bright-eye (2192 Mythimna conigera): First at Friston near Eastbourne on July 4

Other Insects

Volucella pellucens: At least three of these large hoverflies (black with a distinctive white band around the 'mid-riff') were seen in Havant Thicket area on July 1, typically hovering more than 2 metres off the ground.

Four-jawed Spider (Tetragnatha extensa): First mention of this common wetland spider comes from Brian Fellows who saw and Photographed on Thorney Island on July 2. This is sometimes called a Long-jawed Spider

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

White Water Lily: I don't know how long these have been flowering but they first went onto my list on July 1 when I visited the Leigh Park Gardens Lake

Slender St John's Wort: Plenty of these colourful plants newly flowering in Havant Thicket on July 1

Fat Hen: This very mundane plant had started to flower by July 4

Glasswort species: On July 2 the Rye Bay website carried a piece by Cliff Dean outlining some of the history behind the use of these species in the glass making process. The use of Glasswort as a source of soda ash required as a flux in the glass making process was seemingly first recognized by Venetian glassmakers recently arrived in England but use of the plants ceased in the late 18th century when the necessary soda ash began to be produced on an industrial scale after one Nicholas Leblanc patented a process using salt, sulphuric acid, limestone and coal. This process caused so much pollution that it led to the first modern air pollution legislation, when the British Parliament passed the first of several Alkali Acts in 1863.

Spanish Broom: This must have been in flower for some time but I first noticed it at Emsworth Marina on July 4

Crown Vetch: The plants which have survived the mowing of the council flats 'garden' in Wakefords Way here in Leigh Park were in full flower on July 1

Great Willowherb: First reported from Emsworth on June 25 this was flowering abundantly by June 30

Hoary Willowherb: First flowers seen in the Havant Thicket area on July 1

Small Nettle: First sighting of this in flower was at Prinsted market garden plot on July 4

Hop: First flowers seen on a male plant here in Havant on June 30

Fool's Parsley: Started to flower in the Havant area on June 30

Knot-grass: First flowers seen in Havant on June 30

Pale Persicaria: First found in flower in Stansted East Park on July 3

Black Bindweed: First flowers seen in Havant on June 30 in new soil introduced after road works

Rhododendron ponticum: The wild 'pest' species had started flowering in the Havant Thicket area on July 1

Yellow Loosestrife: The native species (not Dotted Loosestrife) was in flower at two places in the Havant Thicket area on July 1

Vervain: First found flowering on Thorney Island on June 30

Moth Mullein: This is a plant that I have not come across before so I had a 'lifetime tick' when I found a plant at Prinsted on July 4 - see my diary page entry for that day for more detail

Red Hemp-nettle: Unlikely to be found in Hampshire nowadays but if you want to know what you are missing see recent pictures on the Rye Bay website (it is now flowering on shingle at Rye Harbour)

Marsh Woundwort: First flower found at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 29 and a good show seen in the Havant Thicket area on July 1

Betony: First found on July 1 on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket.

Round-headed Rampion: Flowering on Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on June 28

Fleabane: Very nearly out on July 1 in more than one place - fully out in several places by July 4

Golden Samphire: Starting to flower on the Thorney seawall on July 2

Michaelmas Daisies: Flowers on garden escape plants in Havant on June 30

Shaggy Soldier: Plenty of this flowering in the Prinsted market garden plot by July 4

Scented Mayweed: Also found at Prinsted on July 4

Lesser Burdock: Flowering at the Hayling Oysterbeds on July 1

Lesser Hawkbit: First report of flowering from Durlston on July 4

Stinking Hawksbeard: Protecting plants at Rye Harbour from rabbit grazing with wire net fences has resulted in a good show of this rarity despite drought conditions - well in flower by July 3

OTHER WILDLIFE

Slow-worm: A photo of one swimming at Rye Harbour proves that they can do so (as if anyone thought they could not!)


Summary for June 23 - 29 (Week 25 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

I hear that there was a Cattle Egret at Farlington Marshes this week, a Hoopoe was seen near New Milton and the first brood of Tufted Ducklings has hatched at Rye Harbour. Of more significance it seems that Black-tailed Godwit have started to return from Iceland. Among the many birds now starting to move south through our region are Osprey, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Black Tern. Juvenile Avocet and Black-headed Gull have started to move from their nest sites. Local observation of non-breeding Swifts regularly night-roosting in an artificial House Martin nest has shattered my long held belief that Swifts always sleep on the wing unless they have an active nest. The Crossbill irruption continues in low key and the week's rarity was an Eastern Race Subalpine Warbler at Portland

Brown Hawker, Red-veined Darter and Small Red-eyed Damselfly have all made their first appearances this week and the second Common Darter that I know of turned up in my Havant garden. 31 butterfly species were seen during the week including the first Purple Emperor, Essex Skipper and Gatekeeper while it seems that second broods of Green-veined White, Small Copper and Holly Blue are now flying. White Admirals and Silver Washed Fritillaries are now common in several woods. (Do check out the web reference to the 'Purple Empire' website to see how some people can get carried away by the sight of a Purple Emperor). 37 new moths were added to the year list including Garden Tiger and Chimney Sweeper (beauty and the beast) while Sussex seems to have acquired a new species with Scarlet Tiger in Friston Forest

Plant news includes the first Basil Thyme (a personal favourite) and the sight of Bell Heather in profusion on the Hayling Golf Course plus a reminder that there may still be hidden treasure near Black Point on Hayling in the shape of Sea Heath (Frankenia laevis) - see the photo on the Rye Bay website and then go and find it on Hayling if you can!. Common summer flowers making their first appearance include Rosebay and Great Willowherb plus Marjoram.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Balearic Shearwater: A count of 22 off Portland on June 28

Storm Petrel: After a gap in sightings from June 7 to 22 there has been another run of reports from Christchurch Harbour with counts of 1 on June 25, 4 on June 27 and at least 8 on June 28 (when singles were also seen at Portland, Selsey and Worthing)

Cattle Egret: After almost daily reports from Dorset and Sussex during May (with rumours of a small breeding colony having established itself in Cornwall) I have only seen two June reports - June 1 brought the last report from Poole Harbour and now I am told that one was seen at Farlington Marshes on June 23 (though I have seen no confirmation of this)

Little Egret: By June 24 it seemed that all the young had left their nests at Langstone but at least two pale legged juveniles were still to be seen standing at the edge of the pond with seven more birds of uncertain age perched in the trees. My next visit there was on June 27 at high tide when I saw at least 22 birds including one definite juvenile.

Spoonbill: It looks as if the group of six birds in Poole Harbour may be starting to break up as on June 28 only 5 were seen in the harbour with 1 at Lodmoor.

Shelduck: A count of 495 Shelduck at the RSPB Cliff Pools reserve on the Thames estuary just east of Gravesend on June 21 caught my eye - I don't know if this is a normal number to be there at this time of year but it did make me wonder if this site is a regular gathering point for birds about to fly east to moult off the north east German coast, or even if some birds stay at this site to moult.

Tufted Duck: These are late breeders compared to some duck species and June 26 brought the first report of a brood seen on the water at Rye Harbour

Hooded Merganser: The bird of obscure origin which turned up at Weymouth on June 6 was still there on June 24 and has since been reported near the Gurkha restaurant in Weymouth - I hope it does not end up on the menu! It is now being identified as a first summer male

Osprey: A sighting of one over the Elmley Marshes on Sheppey in northwest Kent on June 14 probably marks the start of southward movement by non-breeding birds. The next sighting was on June 26 in the Thanet area of Kent with a further sighting over the Pevensey Levels on June 27

Avocet: The first juvenile has been seen away from its nest site - on June 28 one seen at the Oare Marshes north of Faversham in Kent was said to have flown across the wide Medway estuary from a nest on Sheppey

Ringed Plover: A total of five pairs are nesting at the Hayling Oysterbeds - one has already lost its young, a second nest is yet to hatch and three more nests have yet to be found

Golden Plover: One at Portland on June 23 was the first to be reported on the south coast since May 1 and presumably marks the start of autumn passage

Black-tailed Godwit: Five birds in full summer plumage seen at Christchurch Harbour on June 28 are probably the first returning Iceland birds (In 2006 the first arrived at Pulborough Brooks on June 27 but in 2007 the first major return was of 170 at Titchfield Haven on July 11 with 70 at Farlington and 19 at Lymington both on July 13) A report of 200 at Elmley Marshes on Sheppey on June 18 (presumably non-breeding birds) may also be of interest to our Godwit devotees.

Whimbrel: The first returning bird flew over Sway (near New Milton) on June 28, disrupting a village cricket game while Steve Keen (one of the players) took time out from concentrating on the game to search the skies.

Spotted Redshank: First back at Elmley Marshes in north west Kent on June 9

Redshank: 28 were back at Christchurch Harbour on June 24

Common Sandpiper: Single birds were back at Lodmoor on June 16 and on the northwest Kent coast on June 20 but a group of 5 new in at Christchurch Harbour on June 25 was a definite indication of return passage

Black-headed Gull: Christchurch Harbour is the first to report the arrival of a juvenile Black-headed Gull away from its nest site on June 22 and another was seen at Highcliffe on June 23 (probably having flown from the Lymington area)

Iceland Gull: One seen at Portland on June 22 was unexpected and the first anywhere on the south coast since May 6

Common Tern: By June 24 there were 30 pairs nesting at the Hayling Oysterbeds, quite a few of them displaced from South Binness island out in the harbour by high tides or Fox predation

Little Tern: On June 24 only 3 chicks remained alive at the Hayling Oysterbeds out of the 30 present a week before - cause of death in each case is either assassination by a few rogue Black-headed Gulls or more justifiable predation by Kestrel (so far the precautions against the rats which ate most of the eggs last year seem to have worked). No information so far about breeding on the Langstone Harbour RSPB Islands but we are told that the breeding colony in the Lymington area has 43 pairs this year compared to around 57 last year. In Sussex the Rye Harbour site has no birds nesting there for the second time since the reserve was set up in 1970 (no breeding in 2000 or in 2008) and I have little hope of hearing of successful breeding at Pagham Harbour where around 8 birds were seen on June 3.

Black Tern: Since the unexpected report of two at Paxton Pits near Bedford on June 16 (with another back at Dungeness that day) there have been three further reports of returning birds at Selsey, Dungeness and the Oare Marshes (Medway estuary)

Swifts: The presence of two or three birds flying over my home area, usually just before sunset, on most recent evenings seems to show that they are breeding somewhere in or near to the Manor Close houses. To add to the interest there were five birds concurrently in the sky at dusk on June 24, three of them giving the impression of being a family group. This led me to check the time it takes for young to leave their nest, and I see this varies from 8 to 11 weeks (3 weeks incubation followed by a variable time in the nest depending on the food supply which is mainly determined by the weather) - egg-laying by Apr 29 is possible and would permit young to be flying now if we take the minimum time of 8 weeks and the first reports of of Swifts in Hampshire this year were on Apr 15 and 16, just allowing a 10 week period.

While looking up the details of the breeding cycle I noticed that my reference book mentions that Swifts will occasionally nest in House Martin nests (and Sand Martin burrows), giving added interest to the recent report of Swifts 'night roosting' in an artificial House Martin nest on a house here in Havant - maybe they were checking it out as a potential nest site for next year?

Further news of the 'night roosting' birds confirms that they have been entering the House Martin nest box at dusk each evening for at least 10 days, and I am told that a mirror has been used to look into the nest to confirm that there is no sign of nest material or eggs. This destroys my long held belief that Swifts always sleep on the wing except when they are forced to spend the night in a nest with eggs or young but it also sheds new light on the behaviour of the Swifts which I see over local houses each evening towards dusk. In past years I have occasionally seen the Swifts gather in the sky as dusk approaches and I have then seen them form a loose ball which gradually rises into the sky until lost to view - I assume they remain in this loose ball through the night, sleeping as best they can - but on the majority of evenings the birds which have been flying low suddenly disappear, which would tie in with them entering roost places in or on houses. I use the word 'on' with reference to the Alpine Swift which was seen to 'cling to the County Hall' building in Lewes during the nights of May 28 and 29 this year, something that House Martins regularly do overnight when on passage (and probably every night).

Hoopoe: One was reported to be in the Sway area near New Milton on June 27

Wood Lark: A report of two birds singing at an atypical site in Sussex led me to look at the photo of the site - certainly not the sandy heathland woodedge with pine trees but also not atypical of habitat used by the birds in the local Forestside area. The picture showed the edge of a broad leaved woodland abutting on abandoned arable fields now growing a thin (not dense) crop of tall weeds

Sand Martin: A report from Dungeness of 27 Sand Martins flying over on June 24 presumably marks the start of their autumn departure

Cetti's Warbler: On July 4 in 2005 I heard harsh 'tucc, tucc' calls from reeds around Langstone Pond and at first thought a family of Blackcaps had got into this atypical habitat but I was later assured that the calls came from a brood of young Cetti's Warblers just out of their nest. I mention this as on June 26 the Dungeness website reported that the first juveniles were out of their nest there, and as Cetti's Warblers have probably been breeding at several local sites these calls made by the young may soon be heard here.

Subalpine Warbler: One was at Portland on June 26 (photos on their website) but was not of the western subspecies that we normally see - this was an Eastern (albistriata) subspecies bird from the region around Turkey (not usually getting nearer to us than southern Italy).

Red-backed Shrike: A new report of a female seen in Morden Bog (just west of Poole Harbour) on June 23 - possibly a failed breeder on the move

Jay: Two adult birds appeared in my garden (where I cannot recall seeing them ever before) at dusk on June 24, pecked at some unripe Rowan berries and apples, and moved on.

Crossbill: This year's irruption continues with reports now received from 23 sites across southern England since mid-May though no large flocks have been reported (one of 40+ and one of 50+ might have been local birds near Lymington and Midhurst).

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Common Darter: The first appeared in my Havant garden on June 29, long after the first of the year was reported on June 9 but surprisingly it is the first I have seen mentioned since then (they normally fly from mid-June)

Southern Hawker: There has also been a substantial gap between the first (seen on Portsdown on June 13) and the second to be reported from the Isle of Wight on June 24

Brown Hawker: First of the year reported from Rye Harbour on June 23 - one of ten species currently on the wing there

Red-veined Darter: First to be seen flying was at Sandwich Bay on June 26 so possibly a cross Channel migrant although there are now several breeding colonies in Britain.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly: First of year at Rye Harbour on June 23. This species invaded Britain in 1999 when it was found in Essex. It has now spread widely and can be found locally at Farlington Marshes and the Sinah gravel pit lake on Hayling.

Butterflies (31 species mentioned in this week's reports - one person saw 16 species in an day in Sussex)

Essex Skipper: First report comes from Dungeness on June 23 - also found on Thorney Island on June 27 and in Havant Thicket on June 28

Green-veined White: A gap in reports from May 31 to June 19 suggests that we are now seeing summer brood insects (at Gosport on June 19 and in woods near Boarhunt (below Portsdown) on June 24

Purple Hairstreak: Since the first was seen at Gosport on June 18 I have seen five more reports including one of 30+ in the Southwater Woods at Horsham on June 24

White-letter Hairstreak: After the first of the year on the Portsmouth IBM site on June 13 I have seen five more reports including a find of 8 on the Gosport Defence Munitions MoD site on June 26

Small Copper: A sighting on June 28 on the downs above Newhaven is the first since May 31 and suggests the emergence of the second brood.

Holly Blue: A sighting in Kent on June 20 after a gap since the previous sighting on June 1 suggests that the summer brood has started to emerge with one other sighting so far in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on June 23

White Admiral: Ignoring the abnormal sighting in the Emsworth Hollybank Woods on May 11 the first regular appearance was on June 10 and the season began to peak with reports of 18 in the Boarhunt woods northwest of Portsdown and 26 in the Horsham Southwater woods, both on June 24. 'Many' were seen in Havant Thicket on June 28

Purple Emperor: The first three were reported in the Horsham Southwater area (Madgelands, Dogbarking and Marlpost Woods) on June 24 and 9 were seen there on June 26 (including one that was aggressive enough to chase a Great Spotted Woodpecker). They have also been seen in Alice Holt Forest near Farnham and Bentley Wood west of Stockbridge. If you have any interest in this superb butterfly you must visit http://www.thepurpleempire.com/whatsnew.html and see how this butterfly can derange the mind of an otherwise sane person (not just in modern times - scan down the pictures on this webpage to the black and white photo of the 'the great I R P Heslop: holding his 30 foot (?) long butterfly net and then go on to read the text at the bottom of the page). When you have got over this webpage pick up the latest edition of British Wildlife mag and read what Matthew Oates has to say about 'Master Trees'.

Comma: Three were out in the Hollybank Woods on June 23 and another three in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on June 24 as their summer brood gets off to a good start - plenty seen elsewhere too

Dark Green Fritillary: These are also doing well with sightings at seven sites since the first was seen on Beachy Head on June 17. Best count was of 11 seen in the Meon Valley on June 22. I had a 'probable' (brief glimpse in flight) on Portsdown on June 23 and one was almost certainly seen on west Hayling on June 24.

Silver Washed Fritillary: Now well established with a count of 13 seen in the Boarhunt woods northwest of Portsdown on June 24 and some seen in Havant Thicket on June 28 (I suspect that these were in Hammonds Land Coppice in Staunton Country Park south of Havant Thicket proper but cannot be sure)

Gatekeeper: The first was seen on June 23 at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester and the only other report so far is of two on Thorney Island on June 27.

Ringlet: Now well established with 14 seen in the Boarhunt Woods on June 24 and 'many' in Havant Thicket on June 28

Moths

Leopard moth (0161 Zeuzera pyrina): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Burnet Moths: A second report of Six-spots comes from Martin Down on June 22. I am now convinced that I wrongly reported the specimen that I saw at the Langstone South Moors on June 16 as a Six-spot when it was in fact a Narrow-bordered Five-spot, and this conviction was re-inforced when I had a second close view of a newly emerged Narrow-bordered Five-spot on June 23 (at Portchester Common on Portsdown)

Red-Belted Clearwing (0379 Synanthedon myopaeformis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 26

Six-belted Clearwing (0382 Bembecia scopigera): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 26

Coleophora follicularis (0555): A specimen bred from Fleabane emerged in the Thanet area of Kent on June 23

Agapeta hamana (0937): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (0970 Pandemis cerasana): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Large fruit-tree Tortrix (0977 Archips podana): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Bramble-shoot Moth (1175 Epiblema uddmanniana): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Eucosma metzneriana (1196): First in the Thanet area of Kent (where it is now resident and breeding) on June 24

Chilo phragmitella (1290): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Chrysoteuchia culmella (1293): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Agriphila tristella (1305): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Schoenobius gigantella (1328): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Eudonia pallida (1336): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

European Corn-borer (1375 Ostrinia nubilalis): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Perinephela lancealis (1377): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 24

Rosy Wave (1691 Scopula emutaria): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 24

Bright Wave (1696 Idaea ochrata): This only occurs as a resident at a small number of colonies in Kent though it can occasionally be seen as a migrant elsewhere. One of the genuine residents was seen in the Thanet area of Kent on June 21 (first for year)

Single-dotted Wave (1708 Idaea dimidiata): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Ruddy Carpet (1735 Catarhoe rubidata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 24

Royal Mantle (1736 Catarhoe cuculata): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Wood Carpet (1739 Epirrhoe rivata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 24

Barred Straw (1758 Eulithis pyraliata): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Blue-bordered Carpet (1766 Plemyria rubiginata): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Chimney Sweeper (1870 Odezia atrata): This relatvely common daytime flyer was first seen at Martin Down on June 22

Scalloped Oak (1921 Crocallis elinguaria): First at Rye Harbour on June 23

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: One at Dungeness on June 22 was only the tenth to be reported this year - very slow going so far!

Common Footman (2050 Eilema lurideola): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Garden Tiger (2057 Arctia caja): First at Rye Harbour on June 23

Scarlet Tiger (2068 Callimorpha dominula): Has been seen in Hampshire since June 19 but three seen in Friston Forest near Eastbourne on June 28 were claimed as the first ever found in Sussex

Kent Black Arches (2076 Meganola albula): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 24 followed by a find at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on June 25

Short-cloaked Moth (2077 Nola cucullatella): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Square-spot Rustic (2134 Xestia xanthographa): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Dot Moth (2155 Melanchra persicariae): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Smoky Wainscot (2198 Mythimna impura): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Dingy Shears (2314 Enargia ypsillon): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 24

The Blackneck (2466 Lygephila pastinum): First at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on June 25

Beautiful Snout (2476 Hypena crassalis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 23 - possibly new to the Thanet area

The Fan-foot (2489 Herminia tarsipennalis): First at Pagham Harbour on June 24

Other Insects

Longhorn Beetle species (Rutpela maculata - was Strangalia maculata): First of these relatviely common black and yellow beetles seen at Rye Harbour on June 23

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Rough-headed Poppy: First seen on Portsdown on June 23

Sea heath (Frankenia laevis): This could still be found at Black Point on Hayling Island up to 1995 but is I fear now extinct in Hampshire but on June 28 it was flowering at Rye Harbour 'better than I have seen before' according to Barry Yates who has put a photo on the Rye Bay website.

Rose Campion: This was flowering profusely on Sinah Common at Gunner Point on June 26

Sea Beet: This started to show the yellow anthers of its flowers on June 24

Little Robin: I could only find one plant on the shingle at Gunner Point on Hayling on June 26 - admittedly I did not make much of a search but it has been fighting a losing battle for some years against grass and Restharrrow advancing over the open shingle

Spiny Restharrow: I pricked my fingers on some this when on Sinah Common on June 26 to be sure of its identity among masses of common Restharrow.

Strawberry Clover: First flowers seen on Hayling on June 26

Hare's Foot Clover: I first saw this on Hayling on June 26

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea: First flowers seen on Portsdown on June 23

Tall Melilot: It is always difficult to separate Tall and Ribbed Melilot until the seed appear but I judged by the equal length of all parts of the flowers that I found the first Tall Melilot on Portsdown on June 23. Brian Fellows had found the first Ribbed Melilot at Eastney Beach on May 29

White Melilot: Flowering at several places on Hayling on June 26

Bladder Senna: The 'wild' bush on the east side of the Kench (south Hayling) was in flower on June 26

Wild Strawberry: Fruits were seen in Hollybank Woods on June 23 by Brian Fellows (John Goodspeed had also found fruit on Chalton Down on May 28)

Lax Sea Lavender: I wrongly reported this in flower on June 24 (early stages of flowering of common Sea Lavender can be mistaken for Lax) but by June 26 flowers were starting to open on a distinctive plant just below the seawall path passing Langstone Mill Pond (look immediately opposite the 'dog fouling' red bin by the 'duck feeding point')

Great Willowherb: Flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 25 but not seen elsewhere yet.

Rosebay Willowherb: One plant flowering on June 26 on the seawall of the Hayling Coastal Path passing Stoke Bay but not elsewhere so far

Large flowered Evening Primrose: Plenty out on Hayling on June 26

Sweet Chestnut: This last tree of the year to flower revealed that it was now doing so in a photo of two White Admirals taken in the Emsworth Hollybank Woods on June 26 (it has probably been flowering for some time)

Bell Heather: I used to think of this as an autumn flower coming out after other Heathers but it is in fact the earliest and a mass could be seen on the Hayling Golf Course opposite the Kench on June 26

Sea Bindweed: Flowers were out on south Hayling on June 26

Round-leaved Fluellen: This had started to flower in Warblington cemetery on June 27

Hybrid Water Speedwell: Flowering in the River Ems at Emsworth on June 28

Red Bartsia: First flowers seen on Portsdown on June 23

Basil Thyme: A better than usual showing of this lovely plant at five locations on Portchester Common (Portsdown) on June 23

Marjoram: First flowers on Portsdown on June 23

Black Horehound: Flowering profusely in many places by June 28

Wood Sage: Flowering in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on June 23 and on south Hayling on June 26

Harebell: Surprisingly the first of the year was seen on Brook Meadow at Esmworth on June 22

Danewort: The first open flowers seen by the Billy Trail in Havant on June 27

Teazel: Reported as in flower at Durlston on June 24

Small Scabious: First seen on Portsdown on June 23

Sticky Groundsel: Flowering on south Hayling on June 26

Sea Mayweed: First noted on the shore at Emsworth on June 22

Perennial Sowthistle: The tall golden flowers of this started to open at Langstone on June 24

Marsh Helleborine: First report of flowers from East Kent on June 21

OTHER WILDLIFE

Marsh Frog: A small colony of these is established in the Shatterford area of the New Forest near Beaulieu Road station and it was most likely these that attracted the attention of a birder who saw them on June 28 and asked for help in identifying them. They were seen here on June 2 in 2007 and in May of 2005. No one has commented on the noise they make though they are said to be very noisy at this time of year in the Rye Bay area. How long they will survive may depend on the spread of a disease called Chytridiomycosis brought in on American Bullfrogs and Alpine Newts

Slow-worm: I found one Slow-worm road casualty on Wade Court Road this week


Summary for June 16 - 22 (Week 24 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Local bird news this week includes the story of a Barn Owl living in a Council Flat (or at least a nest box provided by Havant Borough) and an observation of adult Little Egrets teaching their young to fly (or at least hop out of their nests onto nearby branches), plus an observation of Swifts apparently night roosting in artificial nest boxes designed for House Martins. News for more serious birders is of a White-rumped Sandpiper and a breeding Spotted Crake, both in Kent, and a Red-breasted Flycatcher on Portland with numerous indications of the start of autumn passage

24 butterfly species have been seen during the week including the first Small Skipper, Purple Hairstreak and Dark Green Fritillary while summer broods of Small Tortoiseshell and Comma (probably plus Holly Blue and Green-veined White) have started to emerge. Fourteen new moth species are reported, including Scarlet Tiger, the nationally rare Olive Crescent and two species of Burnet Moth (I now think that the Burnet Moth which I saw on the Langstone South Moors on June 16 was a Narrow-bordered Five-spot and not a Six-spot hiding its sixth spot under the fifth!). A second migrant Spurge Hawkmoth for the year has been found - in a bedroom of a house at Winchester.

New flowers include Musk Mallow, Sea Lavender, Marsh Ragwort and Ladies Bedstraw with the jury still out on a Broomrape found by John Goodspeed in the carpark shrubbery around the Havant Tesco store carpark - it seems to be Ivy Broomrape but may be a new species or form specialising in the nourishment to be found in wood chippings and being spread around the country by landscape gardeners.

A garden in my road at Havant still has the blessing of hosting a Hedgehog and further afield the first report of a Smooth Snake comes from birders listening for Nightjars on Ambersham Common near Midhurst

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Manx Shearwater: An estimated 25,000 were seen from Portland on May 1 as the majority of these birds arrived in British waters at the start of thiei breeding season. Since mid-May there have been no three figure counts along the south coast until Portland recorded 100 on June 18 and then 300 on June 21, presumably marking the start of dispersal of failed breeders

Balearic Shearwater: Counts at Portland of 11 seen on June 19 and 14 on June 21 are the highest along the south coast since January and may also reflect the arrival of failed breeders

Bittern: A group of Kent birders spent the whole night from June 13 to 14 observing the nightlife of the Stour Valley marshes with regular reminders to keep awake from a booming Bittern

Little Egret: As I was passing Langstone Mill Pond on June 16 I was left in no doubt that at least two of the Egret nests had young in them. In both cases I saw an adult bird flapping its wings, then making a short jump/flight to a nearby branch, followed by a juvenile imitiating its action - after this short flying lesson the adult soon flew off, no doubt to collect food with which to reward the youngster and give it strength for longer flights. In one of the two cases where this occurred three birds were involved and I could see that one was an adult when it flew off but I could not be sure that both the other birds were juveniles though I think they were (at least one was seen to be a juvenile). By June 20 more juveniles had left their nests and had moved to more exposed branches with several down around the edge of the pond allowing me to count a total of 15 birds (mostly adults)

Storks: On June 16 one hard working office worker in Brighton (naturally equipped with binoculars on his desk) clearly saw a Black Stork fly past the office window and maybe the same bird was seen that day from Mount Caburn near Lewes (and reported as a White Stork). Another White Stork on June 15 flew north over Junction 5 of the M27 and on over Eastleigh to be misssed by all the local birders (all of whom, unlike the Brighton office worker, were usefully employed at the time). June 19 brought another White Stork sighting from a motorist on the A2 in Kent

Mute Swan: A total of 284 birds were counted in Christchurch Harbour on June 20 reminding me of the days not too many years back when summer flocks of around 100 regularly congregated at the mouth of the Hermitage Stream in Langstone Harbour and in at least one year there were 200 in Emsworth Harbour. I rather suspect that the reason the birds do not come here nowadays is related to their food supply during the moult period when they cannot easily move elsewhere if the weed runs out - could this be connected with the cessation of the raw sewage supply from Budds Farm and elsewhere? I would be interested to see a correlation between the size of the summer flock in the Fishbourne Channel (off the Apuldram sewage works) with measures taken to clean up the water there - more than 100 were present there in Aug 2005 and 154 in July 2006

Pochard: A count of 116 birds (mostly adult males) on June 18 at the RSPB Cliffe reserve on the Thames estuary north of Rochester in Kent seems unusual but I have seen no explanation of it.

Eider: 19 first year birds were on the Solent off the Lymington marshes on June 15

Red-breasted Merganser: The very last departing birds that I am aware of were a group of three passing Beachy Head on May 22. Since then we have had a report of a pair in the west Solent on June 7 and now a single female has been seen on June 20 in Sweare Deep where the Langstone Wadeway crosses to Hayling Island. It is not unusual for one or two to remain in Langstone Harbour through the summer but this is the first report for this summer that I am aware of.

Hen Harrier: The bird that is being reported as a juvenile male Hen Harrier and which has been seen sporadically around Washington village (north of Worthing) since Apr 13 was seen again on June 15

Sparrowhawk: There is nothing very unusual about seeing a Sparrowhawk take a young passerine at this time of year but I had an exceptionally good view of one on June 16 as I was walking down Langstone High Street towards the sea and was passing the Towers Gardens turning. My attention was drawn by a few squeaks from the victim followed by a plop as it fell out of a bush onto the roadside grass with a male Sparrowhawk on top of it - I was only the roadwidth away and had my binoculars to give a real close up of the Sparrowhawk during the minute or so before the prey gave up the ghost and was carried off by the silent predator. When a Sparrowhawk takes a bird in flight and brings it to the ground the hawk usually mantles its prey - no need for that in this case which was almost a case of taking a joint of meat off the slab of the local butcher's shop with no effort required in making the kill.

Kestrel: These mainly feed by hovering and then dropping on small mammals, beetles or worms and they have been known to use the same technique to catch ground feeding birds (or to drop on them as they go to roost in bushes). Much less frequently do they use their flying abilities as falcons to pursue and catch other birds in flight but on June 20 one was seen to catch a juvenile Sand Martin in flight at Reculver on the north Kent coast.

Peregrine: On June 21 a newly fledged juvenile at Portland was found on the ground by 'a member of the public' after its feathers became water-logged in heavy rain. It was taken to the bird observatory, allowed to dry out and then released in better weather when it happily flew back to a cliff re-union with one of its parents.

Quail: A bird which was first heard on June 7 in the area between St Catherine's Point and Niton village on the IoW was still there on June 15 and two more birds were heard 'somewhere in west Hamsphire' on June 17

Spotted Crake: I think of this species as an early autumn passage migrant through Hampshire but I see it has bred in the county at least once (at Titchfield Haven sometime around 1990) and while I do not know its status in Kent I was surprised to see that one had been heard 'singing' in the Stour vallley marshes by the birders who stayed in the Stodmarsh area throughout the night of June 13 to 14

Lapwing: These are now flooding back to the coast with Rye Harbour reporting 500 there on June 21. Locally the first seven were back on the Langstone shore on June 13 and by June 20 I found 15 on the Northney shore. Christchurch Harbour had 52 on June 20

White-rumped Sandpiper: One was found in the Kent Stour valley on June 19 and was still there on June 20 - the identity of this bird was confirmed by several birders whereas a claimed Temminck's Sandpiper on June 19 was only seen by one

Curlew Sandpiper: A moulting adult was seen with Dunlin on the Lymington marshes shore on June 15 (just one of half a dozen reports in the past few days showing that auutumn passage is already under way). Two more of these birds were seen at Cliffe (north of Rochester on the Thames estuary) on June 18

Black-tailed Godwit: A sudden increase from 5 to 120 birds on the Lymington marshes on June 15 was queried as a possible indication that birds were returning from breeding but expert opinion is that birds returning from Iceland will be in full breeding plumage which these were not so they are assumed to be first year birds which will have been roaming the south coast throughout the summer and have arrived at Lymington more or less by chance.

Curlew: One of the signs of autumn passage is reported by Kris Gillam from the Brading Marshes (IoW) where a couple of Curlew which had been seen to arrive there on June 13 flew on south at dusk. By June 21 five Curlew had arrived back at Christchurch Harbour and another four were seen there but flew on west.

Green Sandpiper: One seen at Brading Marshes on June 13 was the first I have seen reported there since Apr 18 and was probably on passage. The last report of a spring bird seems to have been on May 10 at the Pevensey Levels with a gap of nearly a month until one turned up at Rye Harbour on June 5 (followed by a second there on June 8). Folkestone then had one on June 12 before the IoW bird was seen on June 13

Common Sandpiper: One at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on June 16 is listed on the Dorset Bird Club website as probably the first autumn passage bird of this species.

Great Skua: The first Bonxie to be reported from the south coast for three weeks was seen at Portland on June 19

Great Blackback Gull: Sightings of around 30 in Langstone Harbour (mouth of Langbrook stream on June 16) and 34 off Ryde Esplanade on June 21 seem large counts for the date.

Common Tern: On June 21 both Dungeness and Rye Harbour both reported their first young birds of the year as 'first summer birds' so presumably fully fledged and away from their nests and parents

Black Tern: This species was reported more or less daily up to May 28 as spring passage tailed off. There was then a gap of nearly three weeks before the next reports on June 16 from Dungeness (one bird) and from Paxton Pits in Bedfordshire where two birds appeared 'out of the blue' - another suggestion of autumn passage.

Barn Owl: Havant Borough have installed at least two large nest boxes of the sort which I believe are intended for Kestrels to nest in, placing one on a tree overlooking the new Warblington cemetery extension and the other on a telegraph pole in the North Common open space at Northney on Hayling. Both boxes are in very exposed situations with no cover for birds approaching them, and with no shade to prevent them becoming hot on sunny days,though both have openings facing east so that the midday sun does not shine in. Similar even more exposed boxes, looking like dovecots mounted on tall poles, can be seen on the fairways of the Hayling Island golf course, and I did not expect any of these to be occupied by any nesting predator though I hear this year that a Barn Owl was regularly seen hunting over Sinah Common near the golf course in the early months of this year.

Nevertheless this week John Goodspeed has received a photo (from Rob Hill who is, I think, in charge of wildlife mattters such as the Oysterbeds nature reserve and involved in Brook Meadow local nature reserve at Emsworth) of a Barn Owl peering out of the North Common box and subsequent sightings by a number of people on several days, plus white streaking on the roof of the box, show that it is being regularly used by a Barn Owl. As the box does not have the dimensions of a Barn Owl breeding box (there is barely room for the one owl to stand up in it, and no room for it to hide away and avoid showing itself through the opening) I guess this owl is either an unpaired youngster or perhaps the male partner of a pair with a nest somewhere in the vicinity but required by the female, when not bringing food to the nest, to keep out of her way while she gets on with the work of raising a family. To see this bird go to the North Common carpark and walk through the kissing gate, then immediately look to your left through one of the few gaps in the bushes which permit a view of the box on the telegraph pole sited behind the first of the houses west of the carpark.

Long-eared Owl: These replace Tawny Owls on the Isle of Wight but elsewhere in southern England they are rarely seen even in winter, and certainly not in summer though a few do breed. One of the surprises (at least to me) in the list of observations in the Kent Stour valley marshes during the night of June 13 to 14 was the hooting of an adult and the squeaks of a juvenile (said to sound like someone riding an unoiled bicycle through the night sky!)

Swift: Young have already hatched in an artificial nest box at Cuckfield near Haywards Heath and faint squeaks could heard from the young as they were being fed on June 16. Interestingly this nest box was not occupied until the year after tape recordings of Swift calls had been broadcast from within the nest box and heard by Swifts flying by on one of their 'screaming parties', apparently showing that Swifts need re-assurance from a previous occupant that a nest site is suitable and then have to remember the site and the message through a year of travelling before coming back to use the nest.

Here in Havant it seems that one or two pairs probably do have nests this year as I have had three recent sightings in the past week of a group of three adults flying silently low over the area where they have nested in the past - two of the sightings were in the late evening. The most interesting news of Swifts this week comes from the Leigh Park area of Havant where Swifts seem to have started to use an artificial House Martin nest box alongside other boxes actively in use by House Martins - the person who built and put up these boxes tells me the Swifts have been seen entering the nest late in the evening 'to roost' but my understanding is that Swifts only touch down when forced to do so by the need for something on which to lay their eggs - otherwise they feed, sleep and mate on the wing (often high out of our sight), managing to remain airborne for years on end (no more remarkable than a fish remaining waterborne through most of its life)

Another item of Swift news this week comes from Dungeness where 180 birds were reported to have been seen flying south out to sea on June 18, followed by another 110 going the same way on June 19 - of course these birds are not necessarily leaving us as Swifts would think nothing of going over to the continent to feed during a period of bad weather in Britain, then returning with full crops a day or more later, but it could mean that a substantial number of Swifts are finding Britain uncongenial....

Bee Eater: Three flew over Sandwich Bay on June 13 bringing the total of birds in the 24 reports I have seen this year to 51 (obviously there may be some duplication but this species is becoming frequently seen in England!)

Woodlark: Birds were still singing at Ambersham Common near Midhurst and in Ashdown Forest, both heard on June 18. Tree Pipits were also singing at Ambersham that day

Yellow Wagtail: More surprising to me was news that a male was still to be heard signing at the Pevensey Levels on June 21 - is it intending to have a second brood? or is there such a scarcity of females here on the Sussex coast that he has not yet attracted a mate?

Black Redstart: A lone juvenile seen at Portland on June 20 was pretty good evidence of local breeding in that area this year.

Stonechat: On June 16 a pair was seen with two juveniles on the Nutbourne Marshes east of Emsworth showing that they have bred there

Ring Ouzel: One at Dungeness on June 17 could well be another sign of autumn passage under way...

Song Thrush: This spring I have heard more song from these birds than I remember in recent years, and I have recently seen several juveniles (including the one taken by a Sparrowhawk in Langstone High Street on June 16). By mid-summer day I would expected song to be greatly diminished but at 4am on June 21 one was singing at full volume from the roof of my neighbour's house (and has continued to do so in this vicinity)

Cetti's Warbler: Juveniles have fledged from some nests (see photo of a juvenile taken on June 20 by ringers at Reculver on the north Kent coast by visiting http://www.kentos.org.uk/Reculver/June2008.htm ) and young may well be heard at local sites now. A few years ago I was puzzled by Blackcap like 'tucc' calls coming from the reeds around Langstone Pond but luckily Barry Collins passed the pond and assured me these were the calls of a family of Cetti's Warblers.

Spotted Flycatcher: As these are in short supply nowadays I was grateful to be told that one can currently be seen in the grounds of Stansted House from the road leading to the house and on to Lumley Seat and Broadreed farm - look in the section between the entrance to the house and the track leading off across the East Park by the Irongate Cottages

Red-breasted Flycatcher: One was at Portland for most of June 16 - only the second for the year after one at Dungeness on May 25

Long-tailed Tit: A flock of 26 birds (at least two families) moved through David Parker's garden at Forestside (north of Stansted Forest) on June 20

Marsh Tit: Another rather unexpected sign of 'autumn passage' was the appearance of one in the Christchurch Harbour area on June 15 (there are only five records of the species at that site since 1992) - it was seen there again on June 18

Crossbill: More indications of an irruption come from Sandwich Bay (17 birds on June 14), and (all on June 15) from Pett Level on Rye Bay (9 birds), the Lake area on the IoW (10) and Ambersham Common near Midhurst (50+ birds). On June 18 small groups were seen at Ambersham Common and at Pulborough Brooks and on June 20 six flew west along the north Kent coast and 14 were seen in the Thanet area of Kent

Bullfinch: Four reports between June 18 and 20 probably show that birds are now dispersing after breeding. Locally I heard one or two in the Warblington area on June 13 and I see David Parker had one in his Forestside garden on June 20. Of more general interest is news of a pair seen more than once in a Coldwaltham garden near Pulborough feeding on Thistle seeds (some years ago I heard of a pair regularly visiting an Emsworth garden to feed on Violet seeds)

Corn Bunting: On June 16 one was heard singing in the Chidham village area in fields beside Steel's Lane (around SU 792 043)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Scarce Chaser: After recent good news of this species in Sussex (particularly the Ouse valley) one was seen in the New Forest near Lymington on June 15 but excitement about this find of a rarity was somewhat dampened by further news that this species is now spreading as rapidly as Little Egrets have done and can be seen in Christchurch Harbour and all along the Hampshire Avon valley with an outlier being seen recently in a Christchurch garden

Butterflies

Small Skipper: First and so far only sighting for the year comes from the Eastbourne area on June 17

Green-veined White: These were being seen fairly regularly up to May 31 but the only report for this month is of two seen in the Gosport area on June 19 - maybe the first of the summer brood?

Purple Hairstreak: First for the year seen in Gosport on June 18 with two being seen there on June 20

White-letter Hairstreak: First of the year seen on elms at the IBM Portsmouth HQ site on June 13, followed by sightings in the Gosport area on June 14, along Priors Leaze Lane at Hambrook (west of Chichester) on June 16 and of six in Brighton on June 19

Silver Studded Blue: Around 70 were seen on Silchester Common (north of Basingstoke) on June 15 and 85 were counted at Iping Common (west of Midhurst) on June 17

Holly Blue: The first to be reported since June 1 was seen in north Kent on June 20 (first of summer brood?)

White Admiral: The one seen at Henfield on June 11 (and reported by me as the first for the year barring the odd sighting on May 11 in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth) has now been ousted by one at Gosport on June 10. We now have 14 reports of the species including a count of 11 in the Horsham area on June 17 when two were seen in Havant Thicket

Small Tortoiseshell: The first summer brood insects started to emerge on June 18 in the Brighton area (one seen). Another was seen in north Kent on June 20 and June 21 brought reports of two at Beachy Head and four at the Pevensey Levels

Comma: These two are starting to appear. I remarked on a fresh specimen seen at Warblington on June 13 after one had been seen by the River Ems on June 9 and on June 20 a fresh specimen of the Hutchinsonii form was seen in Gosport

Dark Green Fritillary: First of the year seen on Beachy Head on June 17 followed by one in the Adur valley and two on Pitt Down near Winchester, both on June 19

Silver Washed Fritillary: The first had been seen at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 12 and two were seen there on June 17

Moths

Six-spot Burnet (0169 Zygaena filipendulae): One seen closely by myself on the Langstone South Moors on June 16 seems to have been the first of the year. Had I not known that Five-spot Burnet is a rarity now only to be seen at Martin Down in Hampshire or on the Isle of Wight I would have said this was one as I could only make out one spot at the wingtip (not two spots closely overlapping). Seeing reports of Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnet (see below) I am now thinking that it was this species that I saw but there is one other report of two Six-spots seen at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton on June 19 (along with 12 empty cocoons)

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet (0171 Zygaena lonicerae): First seen at Edburton (north of Brighton) on June 19 and two were seen in the Gosport area on June 20. This was probably the species I saw on the Langstone South Moors on June 16 (see above)

Large Tabby (1421 Aglossa pinguinalis): One was seen and photographed on the wall of a building in a Portsmouth street on June 12 - as this was a new species for my database I looked it up in UK Moths and read that it inhabits old dilapdidated rural buildings with chaff and sheep droppings on the floor so I will not bring shame on the street concerned by repeating its name!

Blotched Emerald (1667 Comibaena bajularia): First seen in the Blean woods at Canterbury on June 18

Common Emerald (1669 Hemithea aestivaria): First seen at Edburton (north of Brighton) on June 19 or just before that date

Swallow-tailed Moth (1922 Ourapteryx sambucaria): First seen at Edburton (north of Brighton) on June 19 or just before that date

Common White Wave (1955 Cabera pusaria): First seen in the Blean woods at Canterbury on June 18

Spurge Hawkmoth (1986 Hyles euphorbiae): First report was from Shoreham on June 9 but there has now been a second report from the Winchester area on June 17 when one was found in a bedroom

Rosy Footman (2037 Miltochrista miniata): First seen in the Blean woods at Canterbury on June 18

Red-necked Footman (2039 Atolmis rubricollis): The first for the year has already been reported from Abbot's Wood near Hailsham on June 11 and the species was said to be close to extinction as an East Sussex resident (though currently recovering in numbers). On June 16 a further report from Newhaven queries this status and points out that the Red-neck shown in the photo of the first report is not obligatory - the same species can come with a Yellow-neck. As to the status it is thought that occurrences at Newhaven may well be of migrants - the near extinction status referred to residents breeding in the county.

Scarlet Tiger (2068 Callimorpha dominula): A pristine insect was found at the Southampton Testwood Lakes on June 19 though I have seen a reference to two seen mating at Kingcombe in Devon on June 7

True Lover's Knot (2118 Lycophotia porphyrea): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 18

Green Arches (2138 Anaplectoides prasina): First taken in the Rother Woods near Rye on June 21

White-line Snout (2482 Schrankia taenialis): First seen in the Blean woods at Canterbury on June 18

Olive Crescent (2495 Trisateles emortualis): This rarity was found at Friston near Eastbourne on June 18

Caterpillars

Back in mid-April an unusual number of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were reported to be in the Ferring Rife wetland area at Worthing and at a time when you were lucky to see one or two Small Tortoiseshells anywhere else 16 were seen here during one visit on Apr 16. Currently this same site has more than 40 Peacock caterpillars and a nearby garden had three Large White caterpillars (not many years ago every garden that grew cabbages had these in profusion!)

Other Insects

Helophilus trivittatus hoverfly: First report of this species from Rye Harbour on June 15

Robins Pincushion gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae): My first sight of the work of this tiny wasp came on June 16 when I found two fresh red 'Pin Cushions' on Dog Roses at Langstone South Moors

Honey Bees?: A visitor to the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 15 reported 'a swarm of bees' in bramble bushes - no further details and no confirmation from others but I have to assume these were Honey Bees

Stag Beetle: A female Stag Beetle was crawling through the grass of my front lawn here in Havant on the evening of June 17 shortly after I had passed the crushed body of another female on a nearby road

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Narrow-leaved Pepperwort: A few plants were flowering on the pavement edge at the northwest 'corner' of the A27 Langstone roundabout on June 16

Musk Mallow: First flowers found by Wade Lane at Langstone on June 20

Sea Pea: This is a great rarity in Hampshire which has only been found on one or two occasions between 1953 and 1993 on shingle around Hurst Castle in the west Solent but it flourishes in shingle at Rye Harbour and has done particularly well this year thanks to rain after drought. Pictures of it there can be seen on the Rye Bay website in an entry for June 20 ( http://rxwildlife.org.uk/?cat=39 )

Crown Vetch: The plants which had been growing in profusion in the 'front garden' of council flats on Wakefords Way in Leigh Park at Havant were recently mown down but luckily some had grown in among a clump of 'lilies' and these have survived though they were not in flower on June 20

Fragrant Agrimony: The plants at North Common on Hayling had started to flower on June 20 and their leaves had a detectable fragrance at this early date as did those I found on the Hayling Coastal Path on June 12

Slender Hare's Ear: Not likely to flower for another month but I did find a well grown plant on the Langstone South Moors seawall on June 16

Redshank: The first flower seen in a Havant street on June 16

Sea Lavender: The first I have seen was flowering on June 20 on the Hayling Northney shore where the Wadeway from Langstone reaches the island

Ivy Broomrape?: On June 17 John Goodspeed found a sizeable show of Broomrape plants gowing in wood chippings under planted shrubs at the edge of the carpark of the Havant Tesco store (on the Tesco side of the path running south beside the Langbrook stream at the east end of the Tesco site) but he was uncertain of their id. I collected and examined a fresh specimen on June 18 and came to the conclusion they were probably Ivy Broomrape though I could not be certain. The best identification feature was the stigma on which the two 'balls' were fused together (Common Broomrape has them held apart), and as the plants were growing with Ivy (but no clover or wild flowers of any sort growing in the woodchippings covering the ground around the planted shrubs) and as they had various other features not usual for Common Broomrape I guess they are either Ivy Broomrape or some non-British species imported (as are most Supermarket flowers) from distant lands. Interestingly the wood chippings and shrubs with some Ivy is the same mix that produces the yellow form Ivy Broomrape found in the Red Barn estate on the slopes of Portsdown above Porchester.

Greater Plantain: Each year these plants creep into flower almost un-noticed - this year some spikes were already going over when I first noticed them on June 16

Danewort: Flower buds are already developing on the plants by the Billy trail in Havant

Ladies Bedstraw: This has been looking yellow for some time but the first with open flowers was found on June 19 in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery

Marsh Ragwort: Newly flowering on the Langstone South Moors on June 16

Lizard Orchid: 14 flowering spikes were found in the Rye area on June 20

Glaucous Bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani): Flowering on the Langstone South Moors on June 16

OTHER WILDLIFE

Hedgehog: I hardly ever come across these nowadays, even as corpses on the roads, so I was very pleased to hear from a neighbour in my road here in Havant that he has seen a large Hedgehog visiting their garden recently

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: On June 15 a pod of five were seen off Durlston where they were said to be the first seen there for several weeks - with the exception of a couple seen from Selsey Bill on May 22 they are the first I have seen reported since the end of March.

Noctule Bat: Other than one seen on the Isle or Wight on May 11 one reported from the Kent Stour Valley on June 13 is the first of the year

Smooth Snake: Three birders visiting Ambersham and Heyshott Common near Midhurst on the evening of June 18 for Nightjars also came on a Smooth Snake


Summary for June 9 - 15 (Week 23 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Interesting to learn that Tape Lures can be used to bring Storm Petrels close to the observer playing a tape of their calls and that a nosy Buzzard seems to have been killed by a Peregrine for coming too close to the latter's nest. Oystercatchers are nesting on building rooves in Fareham and Southampton while Lapwing have already started to return to coastal sites. The TV Springwatch programme has cast a new light on the breeding habits of Dotterel and Red-necked Phalarope and the internet has revealed a few breeding colonies of Common Gull in southern England. Latest news gives evidence for the start of a Crossbill irruption and the week's rarities include Black-headed Bunting, Thrush Nightingale, Pectoral Sandpiper and an out of season Redwing.

New dragonflies are Southern Hawker and Keeled Skimmer and new butterflies are Silver Studded Blue, Silver Washed and Heath Fritillaries and White Admiral as well as Marbled White and Ringlet. 50 new moths for the year list include an unexpected Spurge Hawkmoth, a tiny micomoth Donacaula forficella whose larvae construct boats to get from one foodplant to another, and an uncommon migrant (the Rannoch Looper) flying south from Scotland to Kent. The beautiful Scarce Merville du Jour has been seen in Sussex and the dreaded Brown-tail moth caterpillars at Hurst Castle in the Solent. The first Glow-worms have been found glowing in Havant Thicket

Plant news includes the first colour of Dyers Greenweed and Goat's Rue plus the tiny white stars of Bastard Toadflax found with a new mass of Squinancywort. Two personal favourites found this week were Bog Pimpernel and Skullcap while Fragrant Agrimony let me identify it by scent for the first time ever! An easily overlooked newcomer this week is Rough Chervil looking very like the Cow Parsley it supersedes

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Storm Petrel: I was interested to see that a tape lure was used successfully to attract one of these birds in to St Catherine's Point on the IoW on June 7 - apparently this technique has worked there before

Little Egret: On June 13 one juvenile was seemingly wing-flapping in its nest at Langstone and another nest seemed to have two well grown young in it leaving no room in it for the parents that were both perched nearby. No young seem to have left their nests yet but it cannot be long before they do. At Portland three Little Egrets flew in from the sea on June 8

Great White Egret: On June 10 a Great White flew in at Dungeness and may have been responsible for three other sightings this week - on June 11 there was a possible sighting at Rodmell near Lewes, on June 12 one was in the Stour Valley near Canterbury and on the morning of June 13 one left the Rye Harbour roost with 22 Little Egrets

Mute Swan: The pair which nested at Langstone Pond were reported to have had seven cygnets with them when they moved to the safety of the sea immediately after hatching on May 1 or 2, and a clear view of them at the mouth of the Langbrook stream on May 7 showed that all seven have survived the critical first month. This number of cygnets is unlikely to have been raised by any other local pair so the mysterious appearance of a pair with seven cygnets in Emsworth harbour on May 25 is pretty good proof that this family group ranges between Langstone and Emsworth. To add to the mystery surounding the Langstone pair I saw what I assume was them back in the ouftall of the Lymbourne stream on June 13 with apparently only 6 cygnets

Brent: Three summering birds were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 14

Teal: A few do stay and breed in Hampshire and Sussex but a total of 18 seen together at the Sidlesham ferry pool (Pagham Harbour) on June 11 was unusual

Buzzard: Of local interest I hear that four Buzzards have been seen circling over Warblington farm on more than one occasion recently and what may have been a fifth bird (with a damaged wing) has been seen on the ground there - this suggests that we now have two pairs breeding locally. From further afield on the Hants/Wilts border I see that one seems to have paid the penalty for intruding too close to a Peregrine nest - the Buzzard was found dead on the ground with injuries to the back of its neck that were consistent with a Peregrine strike

Peregrine: I have in the past heard suggestions that a pair may have nested on high rise buildings near the Portsmouth docks and this year there are rumours of a pair nesting on Portsdown (possibly on one of the old forts or perhaps high on the Paulsgrove chalk pit), recently seen feeding two chicks in the nest.

Quail: Five new reports over the three days June 8 to 10 may indicate the start of an influx. Three of the birds involved seem to have settled on the Isle of Wight and another somewhere in Sussex while the fifth bird was heard at Portland and was presumably not yet at its destination

Common Crane: Latest sighting is of three seen togethers over the village of Crossbush a little east of Arundel

Oystercatcher: A pair are once again nesting on the roof of a Shopping Centre building in Fareham and are said to have two chicks at least a week old while from Southampton comes a report of three more pairs nesting on rooves close to the River Itchen

Lapwing: On June 8 half a dozen Lapwing on a sandbar at Christchurch Harbour suggested that failed breeders are already heading back to the coast. On June 9 the first returnees were back at the coast at Folkestone and on June 13 seven birds were back on the shore at Langstone village. A less positive report came from Sandwich Bay on June 12 saying the the number there had increased to 82.

Pectoral Sandpiper: An unusual report for June was a of a Pectoral Sandpiper in the Kent Stour Valley on June 12

Dotterel: I was already aware that females of both Dotterel and Red-necked Phalarope leave their males to do all the incubation of their eggs and to care for their young, and I had assumed these females were either lazy or clever at avoiding chores, so I was interested to hear Simon King on the Springwatch TV programme suggesting that they are not lazy but that their behaviour is part of a strategy to ensure the maximum productivity of young for their species. Because the species chooses to nest in sites that are prone to unpredictable cold weather (snow in summer making it impossible to raise young in some years) the females make themselves available to males at more than one site. Simon suggested that after a female has mated with a male and laid eggs in a nest in the Scottish Cairngorms she is free to fly across the North Sea and mate with a different male in northern Scandinavia - thus if bad weather in Scotland kills her young there there is at least a chance that her eggs laid in Norway will survive

Ruff: A female was seen at Ibsley Water near Ringwood on June 7.

Common Gull: A photo on the Rye Bay website showing a pair of Common Gulls mating at Rye Harbour on June 9 led me to check how many pairs of this species nest in southern Britain and I find that my previous impression that virtually none nest in England south of the counties adjacent to the Scottish border is more or less correct. The latest seabird survey in the years 1998 to 2002 discovered 6 pairs in north Norfolk, 20 pairs in Suffolk and 11 at Dungeness in Kent. Older sources speak of breeding at Anglesey in Wales from 1963 onwards and a survey in 1969-70 found one pair in East Sussex. The Rye Harbour pair in the current photo may have mated but have not yet built a nest so I think that my impression that you have to go to Scotland to see Common Gull nests is still more or less correct.

Herring Gulls: Chicks had just started to hatch in rooftop nests in Bexhill on June 8, initiating a prolonged period of noise pollution (and other forms of pollution) for the human inhabitants of that town and the many other towns and cities where Herring Gulls increasingly nest.

Roseate Tern: Single birds have been seen this week at Dungeness on June 9, Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on June 13 and at Christchurch Harbour on June 14

Little Tern: By June 11 the eggs in 9 of the 27 nests at the Hayling Oysterbeds had hatched and so far there have been no observed losses of chicks. Elsewhere news is not so good - at Rye Harbour Little Terns have nested in every year since 1970 other than 2000 and now 2008 - none there this year. No positive news so far from Pagham Harbour but I have the impression that there are no more than 4 pairs there, and no definite news of any nests.

Guillemot: On June 9 the cliff ledges at Durlston held at least 70 Guillemot chicks. Puffins and Kittiwakes have also been seen around nests on the Purbeck cliffs from bird-watching boat trips this week.

Turtle Dove: On June 9 the bird which had first appeared at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 1 was still there though no one has yet seen a mate for it.

Owls: In the last few days I have seen reports of Tawny, Little and Long-eared owlets being seen out of the nest (the Long-eared were heard 'squeaking' on the Ventnor Downs on the IoW). Another sign of the end of the breeding season is a sighting of an adult Little Owl perched boldly on a telegraph pole beside the Chichester to South Harting road in the section from Racton to Walderton. An odder report comes from Portland where a Long-eared adult was photographed hunting by day on June 8, presumably hungry after flying in from a long sea crossing, and to make it even odder another apparent migrant from the continent was seen flying west along the north Kent coast on June 9 (the first to be seen in that area at any time for several years)

Nightjar: The number of reports of these is now increasing. The first reports were on May 11 from both Parkhurst Forest (IoW) and the Basingstoke area but I only saw four other reports during May whereas I have seen eleven reports for the period June 4 to 13, coming from Havant Thicket (max 2 birds), the Chilgrove/Hooksway area north of Chichester (5 birds on June 10), and from Coates Common near Pulborough, Ashdown Forest, Darwell Wood near Battle (Hastings), Parkhurst Forest on the IoW (3 birds), Christchurch Harbour, Firestone Copse at Newport (IoW) and St Leonard's Forest near Horsham (2 birds on June 13)

Swallow: I recently reported the apparent absence of local breeding birds around Warblington Farm but on June 9 I found two pairs back at the farm and am told by Tony Gutteridge that there are also two pairs at the Pook Lane stables - a decline in numbers but not extinction yet! Many people will have seen on the Springwatch TV programme film of a male Swallow killing the new hatched chicks in what seemed to be its own nest (though the killer was probably a different male to that which had fertilised the eggs) and on June 12 the SOS website had a report of similar behaviour by a male somewhere in Sussex.

Pied Wagtail: I have not seen any at Warblington Farm since Apr 5 this year but Tony Gutteridge assures me that a pair have been seen feeding young at the farm since then

Thush Nightingale: One has already been reported at Portland on May 18 and now I see that one was heard and seen at Folkestone on June 9

Redwing: One at Portland on June 11 was the first ever June record for Portland

Pied Flycatcher: A female at Portland on June 12 was another unusual record

Golden Oriole: In most years I am lucky to hear of more than half a dozen birds arriving on the south coast during April and May but this year I have already seen 19 reports and they are still coming in with seven since the beginning of June, all in Kent or East Sussex (almost certainly too late to breed here this year)

Crossbill: A run of 11 reports between June 7 and 14 shows that an irruption of continental birds is underway. Some reports may be of birds which have bred here (e.g. a flock of more than 40 seen in Roydon Woods near Lymington on June 7) but others from Portland, Folkestone and the Thanet area of Kent must have been new arrivals though the largest count among these coastal sightings has so far been of only 15 birds

Hawfinch: A female was an unexpected find in the ringing nets at Portland on June 9 and made an impressive photo while still in the hand before being released, the large size of the bird and its bill can both be judged by comparison with the size of the ringers hand

Black-headed Bunting: What was either a Black-headed or a Red-headed Bunting was seen at Portland on June 13 - this species is a rare visitor to Britain though common in the Middle East (breeding) or India (wintering)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: First report for the year comes from Portsdown (John Goodspeed's garden pond) on June 13 when John saw a female emerge. Although this is an early date I see one was out on June 10 last year and the first for 2006 was seen on June 2

Keeled Skimmer: The first of these was seen at Durlston on June 11

Common Darter: First of the year seen on June 9 in the Brede valley near Rye and on June 10 they were emerging at Rye Harbour

Butterflies

Silver Studded Blue: First of the year seen near Lymington (at Shirley Holmes, south of Setley Plain) on June 7 followed by sightings on June 8 of 23 at Silchester north of Basingstoke and at least one on Iping Common near Midhurst

White Admiral: Leaving aside the unusual early appearance of one in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on May 11 the more normal first of the year was seen at Woods Mill at Henfield in the Adur valley on June 11 and the next was seen in Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 14

Red Admiral: Although the first fresh resident butterfly emerged in the Newhaven area on May 3 and I had a pristine specimen in my Havant garden on May 24 sightings of fresh specimens in Emsworth on June 11 and Hayling Island on June 12 probably reflect the start of a more general emergence

Painted Lady: Two more sightings at Beachy Head on June 7 and on the Hampshire coast west of Lymington on June 8

Comma: These are getting a bit thin on the ground now until this year's new generation appear in July so Brian Fellows did well to see one in the lower Ems valley on June 9 (only two others have been reported so far in June). Since then I have seen a very fresh specimen at Warblington on June 13 and others on Hayling so maybe the new generation is already emerging.

Silver Washed Fritillary: First and only report so far is from Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 12

Heath Fritillary: A few were already flying in the Blean woods near Canterbury on June 10 - we are not likely to see these in Hampshire or Sussex but they are of sentimental value to me as the woods where they still occur in Kent are very close to my old school.

Marbled White: First of the year seen on the downs behind Brighton on June 8 with Portsdown not far behind with its first on June 9

Ringlet: These were out at two Sussex sites on June 11 and at a third site on June 12. On June 13 the first were seen at Portland

Moths

Ghost Moth (0014 Hepialus humuli): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 7 (National Moth night)

The Festoon (0173 Apoda limacodes): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 7 and another on Thorney Island on June 8

Monopis obviella (0229): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11

Red-tipped Clearwing (0380 Synanthedon formicaeformis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 8

Cocksfoot Moth (0391 Glyphipterix simpliciella): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10 - this is a common day flying tiny moth found on flowers in grassland - it is the caterpillars which rely on Cocksfoot grass

Bryotropha domestica (0789): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11

Hollyhock Seed Moth (0809 Pexicopia malvella): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11 - this is a pest species for gardeners of Hollyhocks and similar plants

Cochylis hybridella (0965): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11 (normally out in July)

Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (0972 Pandemis heparana): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11

Cherry Bark Moth (1216 Enarmonia formosana): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 7

Pammene regiana (1234): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11 (Larvae feed on Sycamore seeds)

Donacaula forficella (1329): First report came unexpectedly from Portland on June 9 - presumably a vagrant from reed beds at Weymouth as the entry in UK Moths reads .. "Inhabiting marshy areas, ditches and similar habitats, the larva of this species has a peculiar habit of cutting part of a leaf to act as a raft, using this to float on the water to a new foodplant when necessary".

Meadow Grey (1333 Scoparia pyralella): First in the Newhaven area on June 14

Brown China-mark (1345 Nymphula nymphaeta): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 7 (National Moth night)

Mother of Pearl (1405 Pleuroptya ruralis): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 7 (National Moth night)

Dioryctria abietella (1454): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 9

Buff Arches (1653 Habrosyne pyritoides): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 7 (National Moth night)

Birch Mocha (1677 Cyclophora albipunctata): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 7 (National Moth night)

Flame Carpet (1722 Xanthorhoe designata): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 7 (National Moth night)

The Spinach (1757 Eulithis mellinata): First on Thorney Island on June 7

Barred Yellow (1765 Cidaria fulvata): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 7

Pine Carpet (1767 Thera firmata): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Scallop Shell (1789 Rheumaptera undulata): First in the Rother Valley woods near Rye n June 7

Sharp-angled Carpet (1794 Euphyia unangulata): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Slender Pug (1811 Eupithecia tenuiata): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Lime-speck Pug (1825 Eupithecia centaureata): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 7

Ochreous Pug (1844 Eupithecia indigata): First at Dungeness on June 11

Small Yellow Wave (1876 Hydrelia flammeolaria): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Small Seraphim (1882 Pterapherapteryx sexalata): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 7

Latticed Heath (1894 Semiothisa clathrata): First report from Silchester Common by day on June 8

Rannoch Looper (1896 Itame brunneata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11 - a rare migrant from Scotland where it is a common day flying, butterfly like, species

Lilac Beauty (1910 Apeira syringaria): First at Shoreham on June 12

Mottled Beauty (1941 Alcis repandata): First in the Hastings area on June 9

Bordered White (1954 Bupalus piniaria): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Pine Hawkmoth (1978 Hyloicus pinastri): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Four of these were seen in February and three more in April but only one report in May (29th) and now one in June (7th) at Beachy Head area

Spurge Hawkmoth (1986 Hyles euphorbiae): The first of these rare and impressive migrants trapped at Shoreham on June 9

Poplar Kitten (1998 Furcula bifida): First at Portland on June 9

Red-necked Footman (2039 Atolmis rubricollis): First in Abbot's Wood near Hailsham on June 11 (until recently classed as extinct in East Sussex)

Four-dotted Footman (2040 Cybosia mesomella): First also in Abbot's Wood on June 11

Broom Moth (2163 Ceramica pisi): First at Park Corner Heath on June 7

Shore Wainscot (2201 Mythimna litoralis): First at Rye Harbour on June 10

Sword-grass (2242 Xylena exsoleta): First in the Hastings area on June 9 - a rare species in southern England

Scarce Merveille du Jour (2277 Moma alpium): First in Rother Valley woods near Rye on June 7

Small Clouded Brindle (2331 Apamea unanimis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 11

Middle-barred Minor (2340 Oligia fasciuncula): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 9

Bordered Sallow (2399 Pyrrhia umbra): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 9

Cream-bordered Green Pea (2418 Earias chlorana): First at Rye Harbour on June 10

Beautiful Golden Y (2442 Autographa pulchrina): First at Abbot's Wood (Hailsham) on June 11

Beautiful Hook-tip (2473 Laspeyria flexula): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 7

Caterpillars

Brown-tail moth: First mention of this annual menace to life (!) comes from Hurst Castle near Lymington on June 8

Other Insects

Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum: A recent invader of Britain gets a mention as it has appeared in a new area near Rye but perhaps of more interest here in Hamsphire is that it was first found in Britain in 2001 by Ben Darvill in the New Forest area when he was still at student at Southampton University (he is now a kingpin of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust)

Stag Beetle: The first of the year that I know of was in my Havant garden on May 26 and since then we have had a couple more reports but my find of a female on the road between Havant and Emsworth on June 9 is the first female I have heard of (since then I have found another female on a road in Havant - sadly this one was squashed)

Glow-worm: John Goodspeed is the first to report these 'glowing' - he saw a couple in Havant Thicket on June 8

Bush Crickets: None yet mature but instars of both Great Green and Dark were reported from Durlston on June 13

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Pale Flax: This had been reported at Durlston on May 22 and seen recently by Alistair Martin at the Denhill Close open space off Saltmarsh Lane on Hayling where I saw it on June 12

Thyme leaved sandwort: First reported by John Goodspeed who saw it on Portsdown on June 10

Greater Sea Spurrey: The bright mauvish flowers of Lesser Sea Spurrey have been out since Apr 25 this year but I did not find the larger, whiter flowers of Greater Sea Spurrey until June 9 in the muddy harbour shore at Langstone (which reminds me that in recent years Lesser Sea Spurrey, like Danish Scurvygrass, has widely spread inland on roadsides where salt spread on the roads in winter has got washed to the roadsides to form an equivalent muddy, salty 'shoreline')

Bastard Toadflax: This was reported to be in flower at Durlston on June 8, then found at two regular sites on Portsdown on June 10

Dyer's Greenweed: Flowering on west Hayling on June 12

Restharrow: This was widely in flower on Portsdown by June 10

Yellow vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca): Reported as in flower at Durlston on June 8 and hopefully still to be found at Milton Common in Southsea, one of the very few sites where it can still be found locally

Goat's Rue: First flowers seen in the carpark for the Hayling Oysterbeds area on June 12

Agrimony: First of the year seen on Portsdown on June 10

Fragrant Agrimony: Just starting to flower by the Hayling Coastal Path on June 12 - identification confirmed by a strong scent from the fresh leaves

White Stonecrop: Newly flowering in Warblington cemetery on June 13

Enchanter's Nightshade: This delicate Willowherb (not sure where the Nightshade part of the name comes from) was flowering as a weed in a neighbour's garden on June 7 though you are probably more likely to see it in woodland

Common Lime: Flowers fully open on roadside trees in Havant on June 13

Rough Chervil: Several flowering plants flowering in the Warblington area on June 13 and must have been out for some time as the first umbel to open on each of several plants had gone to seed

Fool's Water Cress: Flowering in a wet ditch at Warblington on June 13

Bog Pimpernel: A good show of these flowers found in the Warblington SSSI on June 13

Great Mullein: A cluster of a dozen plants had started to flower by the Hayling Coastal Path on June 12

Common Toadflax: First of the year on Portsdown on June 10

Eyebright: Reported at Durlston on May 22 but not seen locally until found on Portsdown on June 10

Skullcap: The lovely blue flowers of this were out beside the Lumley Mill stream in Emsworth on June 9

Carrot Broomrape: Not a species we are likely to find locally around Havant but this was flowering at Durlston on June 10 - their website tells us that it is the only one of the Broomrapes that is totally dependent on the Wild Carrot which it parasitises for all its sustenance

Buddleia davidii: The common Butterfly Bush started to flower in Havant on June 12

Squinancywort: Lots of this in flower on Portsdown by June 10

Field Scabious: First flowers found on Hayling on June 12

Pineappleweed: This has probably been flowering un-noticed for some time - I first recorded it on June 13

Wall Lettuce: Flowering in Havant on June 14

Wild Onion (Crow Garlic): Plants with well developed bulbils seen at Warblington on June 13

Man Orchid: Flowering on Wolstonbury Hill near the A23 just north of Brighton on June 8

Fragrant Orchid: Flowering on Wolstonbury Hill near the A23 just north of Brighton on June 8

Heath Spotted Orchid: Flowering in the Hookheath nature reserve at the north foot of Portsdown on June 8

Common Cord Grass (Spartina): First flowering seen at Langstone on June 9

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: One seen on June 12 in the Kent Stour valley carrying a Mole as prey

Squirrels: Young Grey Squirrels have been on our lawn for some time now and on June 10 I see that young Red Squirrels could be seen at Binstead on the Isle of Wight

Lesser Horseshoe Bat: At least one seen on June 11 at Christchurch Harbour with the ususal Pipistrelles


Summary for June 2 - 8 (Week 22 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

A Common Crane has turned up near Arundel, an unseasonal Bittern was seen near Lewes, a White Stork was 'following the plough' on the Isle of Wight, a Trumpeter Finch was on the cliffs at Newhaven and an American Golden Plover was at Pegwell Bay in Kent. Oddest bird of the week was a Hooded Merganser at Portland. A single Black-tailed Godwit of the nominate race (not the Islandic subspecies) has been seen on the River Adur at Shoreham. Both Terek Sandpiper and Whiskered Tern are again in the news and a 'genuine' Common Rosefinch has turned up at Dungeness to be first for the year.

White-legged and Small Red Damselflies, and Banded Demoiselle feature in reports for the first time and early Meadow Brown butterflies were seen on Thorney Island, Portsdown and later at Emsworth. A long list of 62 moths (including Broad Bordered Bee Hawkmoth and Privet Hawkmoth) feature as firsts, partly because an exhaustive list was published of those trapped on the night before the Open Day at the Sussex Butterfly reserve at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield - also listed but from the Kent coast is a Plume Moth whose larvae feed on Sea Lavender and which may thus be found in our harbours. Eye catching Mullein Moth caterpillars have been seen at Rye Harbour and both Peacock butterfly and a probable Knot Grass moth caterpillar at Brook Meadow in Emsworth, while among other insects are the first Scorpion Flies (and a Stag Beetle brought down in flight by a House Sparrow but saved from pecking to death by human intervention - the first observation of emerging Stag Beetles comes from Portsmouth).

Best new flowers this week have been Hairy Vetchling at Broadmarsh and Bastard Cabbage at a new site in Havant, with a good list of summer favourites now flowering (including Meadowsweet, Meadow Vetchling, Greater Knapweed, Common Centaury and Yellow-wort)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: One was on the sea close in off East Wittering on May 30

Storm Petrel: Sightings from Portland, Durlston and Selsey during the week with the biggest count of around 10 from Selsey on June 5

Bittern: One was seen to fly out of reeds on the Lewes Brooks on May 31 - very unexpected for anywhere in Sussex at this time of year though the booming of Bitterns can be heard nightly in the Kent Stour valley

Cattle Egret: Just a single report of one bird in Poole Harbour on June 1 but from further afield I hear rumours that the first breeding of this species in this country has been recorded this year

Great White Egret: One was at Abbotsbury in Dorset on June 2 and another was new in the Kent Stour Valley on June 6

Black Stork: One flew low over East Grinstead in Sussex on June 5 and another 'Stork species' was in the Wareham area of Dorset on June 7

White Stork: What was presumably the bird seen in the Luccombe Down area on May 31 was still on the IoW on June 1 when it was found in the Samber Hill area south of Shorwell not far from the Shepherd's Trail going to Shepherds Chine on the coast west of Atherfield and St Catherine's Point. Photographs show it 'following the plough' with gulls. Since then there have been sightings of one flying east over Christchurch Harbour on June 4 and and two reports of one in East Kent on June 5

Mute Swan: The pair which hatched at least six cygnets on Langstone Pond quickly moved their family to the mouth of the Langbrook stream on the west side of Langstone village and when I last saw them there they seemed to be down to 3 cygnets. On June 2 what I think was the same Swan family had moved east to the stream flowing out from Warblington reedbed and was seen to have four cygnets - further investigation is called for! On June 7 I found the pair on the Budds Farm Pools had 5 healthy cygnets

Black Swan: A single Black Swan joined the massive summer flock in Christchurch Harbour on June 6

Hooded Merganser: At dusk on June 6 a tame, unringed and full winged female appeared in a pool by the Chesil Bank near Portland and it was still there next day - no one knows where it came from.

Red-breasted Merganser: Single birds are regularly seen each year at a few south coast sites during the summer but a sighting of a pair together off the Lymington shore on June 7 was interesting - if Goosanders regularly breed in the Avon valley nowadays why not Mergansers?

Hen Harriers: Two birds, both described as ring-tail Hen Harriers were seen in Sussex on June 1. One was in the south west of the county at Washington Common north of Worthing, the other in Ashdown Forest. Then on June 5 a ringtail was seen at Newhaven and a male Harrier of uncertain species was seen from a train heading towards Chichester in the Nutbourne area.

Montagu's Harrier: Whether or not either of the above two Hen Harriers were in fact Monties there was a genuine first summer male Montagu's in the Kent Stour valley on May 31 as well as the one already reported at Portland that day

Red-footed Falcon: The first summer male which has been in the Beaulieu Road station area of the New Forest since at least May 13 (probably May 10) was still there on June 1 and an adult female was in the Kent Stour valley on both May 31 and June 1 (and may be the bird seen on Sheppey prior to May 9 when it was at Oare Marshes near Faversham)

Peregrine: The four young in the Chichester Cathedral nest were close to fledging when Brian Fellows saw them (via video cam) on June 1

Quail: One was reported from St Catherine's Hill area (Isle of Wight) On June 7. Before that one was in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5 and another was 'singing' in the Northward Hill area of Kent (near the Thames estuary north of Rochester) on June 2

Crane: Another new sighting on June 3 of one feeding in flooded fields south of the A27 a few miles east of Arundel (between Poling and Angmering) and it was seen again over Angmering on June 4. On June 5 another flew west over The Fleet area near Weymouth.

American Golden Plover: A bird in full summer plumage turned up in Pegwell Bay (south of Ramsgate) on June 1 and was still there up to June 5. After the fiasco of the mis-identified Grey Plover at Lymington recently you may wish to check the photos of this bird which can be seen at http://www.planetthanet.org/american_golden_plover.htm (most angles are covered but no view of the critical underwing area!)

Grey Plover: High counts in Newtown Harbour on the IoW (44 birds on June 1) and Pagham Harbour (40 birds on June 3) suggest that there should be a lot remaining in Langstone Harbour.

Lapwing: At least two pairs each had one fledged youngster on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket on June 5 and another 9 adult birds were seen in the air together there giving a minumum of 15 birds but my guess would be that there were at least 25 present including several more young

Temminck's Stint: One arrived in Pegwell Bay on June 1 with the American Golden Plover

Woodcock: At least one was roding in Havant Thicket on the evening of June 4 and more than 5 were flying in Parkhurst Forest (IoW) on June 7

Black-tailed Godwit: Some of the Icelandic birds that have stayed with us seem to have been on the move - on June 1 a flock of 30 flew east over Christchurch Harbour, stopping only for a quick lunch break, and on the same day 18 went over Newtown Harbour on the IoW. Perhaps more interestingly June 3 brought a report of a bird of the nominate race (not the Islandica subspecies) seen on the banks of the R Adur opposite Shoreham airport. This was seen by an experienced observer, Richard Fairbank, who writes .. "A summer-plumaged limosa Black-tailed Godwit on the River Adur opposite the airport at low tide (6pm). This race has a longer bill and paler, less extensive, red underparts than islandica".

Terek Sandpiper: The great rarity which appeared at Rye Harbour on May 31 was refound later that day at a pit called the Midrips between Camber and Lydd in the Dungeness area and was seen there again on June 1

Black-headed Gull: On June 7 some of the chicks at Rye Harbour were very close to fledging so there is a chance that we will start to see ginger juveniles locally during the coming week

Little Tern: Latest news from the Hayling Oysterbeds comes from Brian Fellows, who was wardening there on June 3, and who tells us that there are probably 27 Little Tern nests and that those birds that started to lay eggs on or soon after May 13 are coming to the end of their three week incubation so some chicks should hatch before the end of this week. Within the first day of hatching the chicks can be expected to leave their nests though they cannot go far on the small island as it will be another four weeks before they 'fledge' (i.e. grow feathers and become able to fly). I would imagine that they will be exposed to even more danger during that month than they have been during the incubation period - the only advantage of being mobile is that they can retreat from high tides. Brian describes one of the problems that will occur when both Tern and Gull chicks are mobile and wander into each others 'territories' - he says .. "The big change was the presence of about 30 Black-headed Gull chicks on the two islands, with lots more to come. There appeared to be some tension between the Terns and Gulls with lots of dive-bombing from the former. Jason is a bit concerned about this". Add to that the threats posed by Kestrels, other large hungry gulls whether or not they have young of their own, and potential waterborne forays by Foxes, Rats, and possibly 'pet' dogs, the outlook for the young Terns is fraught with danger (including the weather - young chicks can quickly die of cold brought on by rain or cold nights)

Whiskered Tern: One, probably two, of these have already been reported in the Weymouth and Lymington area between May 5 and 8 and now we have another report of one at Stodmarsh in the Kent Stour Valley from May 31 to June 3 at least - for a couple of pictures of this bird in flight go to http://www.kentos.org.uk/Stodmarsh/junesightings2008.htm

Turtle Dove: One was purring in Brook Meadow on June 1 to become a new species for that nature reserve, and it was still around on June 4. At a guess this was probably a newly arrived young migrant that will not breed this year - those that will breed will have arrived some time ago (they started to come in from Apr 15) and will have settled down in the first half of May, but others continue to arrive - two came in at Dungeness on June 1, two reached Portland on May 30, and 8 others have arrived there since May 20. Singles arrived at both Portland and Dungeness on June 7

Barn Owl: One was seen distantly in Havant Thicket on the evening of June 4 along with both Nightjar, Woodcock and Tawny Owls

Nightjar: On the evening of June 4 at least two were churring in Havant Thicket, on June 5 one was heard on Coates Common near Pulborough and on June 7 at least three were active in Parkhurst Forest (IoW).

Swift: As with Turtle Doves many of these are still arriving and are unlikely to breed this year - on June 3 Dungeness logged 210 Swifts arriving . Here in Havant four birds (two pairs) were seen briefly over Havant on each of June 5, 6 and 7 but it seems unlikely that any will breed here this year. While on the subject of Swifts, and with their demise as breeding birds here in Havant in my mind, it is appropriate to quote an entry which has recently appeared on the Dorset Bird Club website (I am not sure if this applies to counties other than Dorset) ...

"The UK breeding population of Common Swifts is in big trouble (down by 42% in the South West and more in some areas) and if action is not taken soon it is likely to reach an unrecoverable level. The most obvious reason for the decline is human interference in the Swifts' traditional nesting habitat, ie. in our homes and other buildings. An important part of attempting to protect breeding colonies is locating them. Most people will be familiar with the low level, high speed "screaming party" displays with which Swifts announce the presence of a breeding colony. Geoff Beale has established a Google Group ( http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/uk-swifts ) to enable people to send in details of past and future sightings."

Bee Eater: Reports of singles at Folkestone, Selsey and Dungeness this week brings my total of reports for the year so far up to 23

Hoopoe: One was seen on a bungalow roof at Horsted Keynes (near Haywards Heath) on June 4 making 27 reports of the species so far this year.

Willow Warbler: A single bird seen to be singing both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff song in the Lewes area on June 7 was the third heard doing so this year - the first was at Martin Down on May 14 and the second was in the Adur valley on May 18

Golden Oriole: Five more birds have just arrived in Britain. On June 1 one was heard singing at the Park Corner Heath butterfly reserve close to the A22 south of Uckfield before it flew north and on both June 2 and 3 birds were heard at Dungeness, then on June 6 one was in the Thanet area of Kent and on June 7 another was heard at Dungeness.

Red-backed Shrike: The bird at Shopham Bridge in the Pulborough area was still there on June 7 (first seen May 24) and on June 1 there were sightings of a female at Brading Marshes (IoW) and another vague report of one 1 kilometre south of Beaulieu Road station in the New Forest

Rose-coloured Starling: An adult was seen at Beachy Head on May 30 and another at Portland on June 4 (when yet another was at Dungeness)

Trumpeter Finch: A first summer male was heard and seen well in the Newhaven area from June 2 (first seen in a private garden) up to June 6

Common Rosefinch: One was singing at Dungeness on June 3

Hawfinch: A party of three flew over Beachy Head on May 30

Reed Bunting: Of local interest on June 2 I saw a female perched on reeds at the Warblington reedbed with what seemed to be a faecal sac in her bill before she flew off with it - they are almost certainly breeding there but I am not so sure if they are doing so at Langstone Mill Pond this year - I only have one record of a male singing there on May 15 (he may have moved to the Langstone South Moors where I heard and saw one on May 30)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Downy Emerald: Although these had been seen in the Rye area on May 13 they only started to emerge at Rye Harbour on June 5, showing their green eyes as they hover over the water

Black-tailed Skimmer: First seen at Rye Harbour on May 27 they only started to emerge at Dungeness on June 7 (and at Christchurch Harbour on June 6)

Scarce Chaser: Last week we heard of these being found on the Sussex Ouse north of Lewes and then of one being found on the Isle of Wight (where they have not been recorded previously). Now, on June 1, comes a report of them at Broadbridge Heath near Horsham

Banded Demoiselle: These have almost certainly been on the wing for some time but the first mention that I have seen of them only comes on June 1 when 'hundreds' were said to be flying at Broadbridge Heath. Locally the first was seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 6

White-legged Damselfly: Another first for Broadbridge Heath on June 1

Small Red Damselfly: The Large Red is traditionally the first dragonfly to be seen each year but the first Small Red was not seen until June 6 (at Christchurch Harbour)

Butterflies

Large Skipper: After the first of the year on the Isle of Wight on May 21 there were more sightings on May 31 at Thorney Island, Farley Mount (Winchester), and Bonchurch (IoW). I saw several in the Havant Thicket area on June 5

Painted Lady: The twelfth report of the year since the first at Portland on Apr 27 came from Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on June 4 - the nearest we have to an invasion so far is four sightings on two successive days (Martin Down and the M3 at Eastleigh on May 29 and Thanet in Kent plus the Hurst sighting on May 30)

Glanville Fritillary: The count of 30 at Hurst Castle on May 25 has now been beaten by a total of 54 in the Ventnor area on May 31

Speckled Wood: A count of 17 fresh specimens in the Cuckmere valley area near Eastbourne on June 3 suggested a new emergence of these butterflies

Meadow Brown: First of the year has already been attributed to the Downs behind Brighton on May 31 but further reports now show that they were also flying on Thorney Island and on Portsdown on that same day. Locally the first was seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 7

Moths

Currant Clearwing (0373 Synanthedon tipuliformis): First reported from a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden on June 7

Argyresthia trifasciata (409a): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

Argyresthia cupressella (409b): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

Timothy Tortrix (0989 Aphelia paleana): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

Lozotaenia forsterana (1002): First reported from a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden on June 6

Green Oak Tortrix (1033 Tortrix viridana): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

Crambus lathoniellus (1301): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

Bee Moth (1428 Aphomia sociella): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 4

Ephestia parisitella (1474): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

Agdistis bennetii (1488): This large plume moth with a very distinctive 'three bladed propeller' shape when at rest was found at Pegwell Bay in Kent on May 30. The larval food plant is Sea Lavender and the moth is a south coast speciality that should be found locally.

Oak Hook-tip (1646 Drepana binaria): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Satin Lutestring (1656 Tetheella fluctuosa): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Small Emerald (1673 Hemistola chrysoprasaria): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Dwarf Cream Wave (1705 Idaea fuscovenosa): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Riband Wave (1713 Idaea aversata): First at Newhaven on June 6

July Belle (1734 Scotopteryx luridata): First at Dungeness on June 5

Galium Carpet (1740 Epirrhoe galiata): First at Newhaven on June 5

Cypress Carpet (1771 Thera cupressata): First at Cosham (Portsmouth) on June 6

Broken-barred Carpet (1773 Electrophaes corylata): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Foxglove Pug (1817 Eupithecia pulchellata): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Netted Pug (1823 Eupithecia venosata): First at Newhaven on June 5

Freyers Pug (1827 Eupithecia intricata): First taken somewhere in Sussex on May 31

Green Pug (1860 Pasiphila rectangulata): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

The Magpie (1884 Abraxas grossulariata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 4

Peacock Moth (1889 Semiothisa notata): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Scorched Wing (1904 Plagodis dolabraria): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Orange Moth (1924 Angerona prunaria): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Pale Oak Beauty (1944 Serraca punctinalis): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Clouded Silver (1958 Lomographa temerata): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Privet Hawkmoth (1976 Sphinx ligustri): First found on Portsdown by day on June 4 then trapped at Newhaven on June 5

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (1983 Hamaris fuciformis): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield on June 4

Dew moth (2036 Setina irrorella): First taken at Hurst Castle near Lymington on May 30

Wood Tiger (2056 Parasemia plantaginis): First was a female in Old Burghlere lime quarry near Basingstoke on June 2

Clouded Buff (2059 Diacrisia sannio): First at Newhaven on June 7

Water Ermine (2062 Spilosoma urticae): First at Rye Harbour on June 7

Heart and Club (2088 Agrotis clavis): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Lesser Yellow Underwing (2109 Noctua comes): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

Ingrailed Clay (2120 Diarsia mendica): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Cabbage Moth (2154 Mamestra brassicae): First at Newhaven on June 6

Tawny Shears (2167 Hadena perplexa): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

Marbled Coronet (2171 Hadena confusa): First at Newhaven on June 5

The Lychnis (2173 Hadena bicruris): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

L-album Wainscot (2202 Mythimna l-album): First at Cosham (Portsmouth) on June 6

Shoulder-striped Wainscot (2205 Mythimna comma): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

The Shark (2216 Cucullia umbratica): First taken somewhere in Sussex on May 31

Toadflax Brocade (2223 Calophasia lunula): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

The Sycamore (2279 Acronicta aceris): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

The Coronet (2291 Craniophora ligustri): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Bird's Wing (2301 Dypterygia scabriuscula): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Small Angle Shades (2305 Euplexia lucipara): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Dark Arches (2321 Apamea monoglypha): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 4

Light Arches (2322 Apamea lithoxylaea): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 4

Clouded Brindle (2327 Apamea epomidion): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

Dusky Brocade (2330 Apamea remissa): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

The Uncertain (2381 Hoplodrina alsines): First taken somewhere in Sussex on May 31

The Rustic (2382 Hoplodrina blanda): First at Pagham Harbour on June 5

Rosy Marbled (2396 Elaphria venustula): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Marbled White-spot (2410 Lithacodia pygarga): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Green Silver-lines (2422 Pseudoips fagana): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

The Snout (2477 Hypena proboscidalis): First taken somewhere in Sussex on May 31

Buttoned Snout (2480 Hypena rostralis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 4

Pinion-streaked Snout (2484 Schrankia costaestrigalis): First at Park Corner Heath near Uckfield during their Open Day on May 31

Caterpillars

Mullein Moth: Full grown specimens seen at Rye Harbour on June 3

Knot Grass Moth: Probable only at Emsworth on June 4

Peacock butterfly: Nest of caterpillars at Emsworth on June 5

Other Insects

Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis): First report from Bartley Heath near Hook in north Hampshire on May 31

Horntail (Urocerus gigas): A possible identity for a large yellow insect seen in Denny Wood (New Forest) on June 7 - not confirmed

Red Mason Bee (Osmia rufa): These bees filled 100 tubes in artificial nest boxes put up for them in a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden by June 7

Stag Beetle: On June 3 somewhere in Sussex one was intercepted in flight by a House Sparrow which brought it to the ground and was belabouring it with its beak when a human intervened to save the beetle. On the evening of June 6 there was an emergence of at least six in a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden

14 Spot Ladybird: One of these small yellow and black beetles seen at Brook Meadow (Emsworth) on June 4

Raft spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus): Several of these large spiders were seen in Holmsley Inclosure (south west New Forest) on May 31

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Brackish Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotii): First flowers on the plants in the Homewell spring at Havant on June 5

Black Mustard: First of this years new flowers at Emsworth Marina on June 4

Bastard Cabbage: When I saw yellow flowers on June 5 by the Langbrook stream where it goes under Solent Road in Havant I expected them to be Black Mustard but found they already had some of the 'chianti flask' shaped seeds showing they were my first Bastard Cabbage of the year in a new site.

Perforate St John's Wort: First flowers on the north west Thorney seawall on June 4

Smooth Tare: Hairy Tare has been in flower since May 1 and the first report of Smooth Tare came from Rye Harbour on June 3 - not only are the flowers generally blue where Hairy are white (and the seed pods hairless on Smooth) but the report by Barry Yates points out that the flowers on Smooth Tare generally come in pairs (two to a flower stem) - although I did not see this feature on the plants I saw at Havant Thicket I did notice it on plants at Broadmarsh.

Meadow Vetchling: A good show of fresh flowers on Broadmarsh on June 7 - first of the year

Hairy Vetchling: First flowers found on Broadmarsh on June 7

Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil: First seen at Broadmarsh on June 7

Field Rose: First flowers seen in the Havant Thicket area on June 5

Meadowsweet: First flowers found at Emsworth on June 7

Square-stalked Willowherb: Starting to flower on June 2

Wild Celery: First flowers found in the Warblington marsh SSSI on June 2

Brookweed: First flowers seen in the Warblington marsh SSSI on June 2

Creeping Jenny: First flowers seen among ivy at the foot of Bulbeck's Wall in Havant on June 5

Common Centaury: Although this was reported to be flowering at Durlston last month I saw my first at Broadmarsh on June 7

Yellow-wort: As for Centaury above

Self-heal: First flowers found on Thorney Island on June 4

Common Marsh Bedstraw: Flowering at Havant Thicket on June 5

Greater Knapweed: A single first flower seen on Portsdown on June 6

Bristly Ox-tongue: Flowering in Havant on June 5

Southern Marsh Orchid: A rough count of flowering spikes in the Warblington marsh SSSI on June 2 found 81 and on June 6 a total of 279 were found in the Fishbourne church meadows (probably with more to come - last year's max count here was 439). In Emsworth's Brook Meadow the two plants planted there last year have become three already this year (all flowering) - considering that some orchid species can take five years or more to start to flower after first germination this is fast growth.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Nothing to report though my lawn currently has a small crop of Panaeolus foenisecii toadstools and I have seen Fox and Roe Deer during the week


Summary for May 26 - June 1 (Week 21 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Storm Petrels have re-appeared in the English Channel 'out of season' as they did last year and a Brent Goose has been seen heading north up the A1 north of Bedford. A Black-winged Stilt was briefly at Dungeness this week as was an even rarer Terek Sandpiper at Rye and 'rare' Black-tailed Godwits are nesting in East Anglia (see my notes on the different sub-species involved). Also see Barry Yates notes on the perils of mixed species gull breeding sites. Dorset has had a White-winged Black Tern and East Sussex has had an Alpine Swift clinging to its County Hall. Red-rumped Swallow and Tawny Pipit sightings pale beside the week's run of River Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Melodious Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Emperor dragonflies and Black-tailed Skimmers are now flying and the Isle of Wight has had its first Scarce Chaser (the latter record unconfirmed). 25 butterfly species seen during the week include the first Meadow Brown, Large Skipper and Wood White. A good list of 13 new moths includes Burnished Brass and the first of the year's Clearwings (found by Peter Pond at Farlington Marshes). Also this week we have had the first, and so far the only, Stag Beetle of the year.

Poppies, Thistles and Bindweeds have started to flower but perhaps more interesting has been finds of Vipers Bugloss, Lucerne, Deadly Nightshade and Weasel's Snout with Crown Vetch and Meadowsweet about to flower. Already in flower are most orchid species with good news of the Southern Marsh Orchids on Langstone South Moors

Other Wildlife includes white coated Fallow Deer, flourishing Water Voles, and Cuttlefish bones starting to wash up on our shores. This week's 'special' is also marine - the Long-spined Sea Scorpion

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Northern Diver: One was still present off Selsey Bill on May 29

Black-necked Grebe: These have been known to breed in southern England so a report of one on inland water in the Rye area on May 19 is of interest - the previous last report of the species was of one on Pagham Lagoon on Mar 31

Balearic Shearwater: Last year these began to appear regularly in the English Channel from May 29 on (ignoring sightings in Jan and Feb) . This year they seem to be slightly earlier with sightings of singles off Christchurch Harbour on May 21, 23 and 26 plus at least three seen off Worthing on May 25

Storm Petrel: These are again appearing (as they did last year) in the Channel 'out of season'. This year the first was seen from Selsey on May 22 (more than 9) with further sightings on May 23 and 24. New sightings are from Portland and Durlston (4) on May 26 and from Portland (11) and Christchurch Harbour (3) on May 27. On May 28 Christchurch Harbour had the highest count so far with 15 seen and one was even seen that day going west off Sandy Point on Hayling and they may be seen there again as on May 30 ten were back off Selsey Bill

Little Egret: Looking from the public path along the seawall passing Langstone Mill Pond on May 26 I thought I could glimpse a downy youngster in one of the four nests that can be seen (with difficulty) from a point just south of the bridge over the sluice through which the pond could be drained into the sea. The comings and goings of birds from different places in the mass of trees suggested that there are several other nests which cannot be seen.

Black Stork: Ten days after the first was reported in the Cuckmere valley on May 18 one flew low over the A22 on the outskirts of Eastbourne on May 28 provoking the thought that one may have taken up residence in the Eastbourne area (or could it be an escapee?)

White Stork: One was in the Hampshire Avon Valley near Ringwood on May 30 and maybe it went on to give further sightings in the New Forest and over the Isle of Wight on May 31 (though the latter could well have been a new arrival as it seems to have been over the Island in the Shanklin/Newchurch area from 10:45 to 13:30 at least while the sighting in the Beaulieu Road Station area was at 14:52)

Brent Goose: One migrant that is unlikely to get to its destination in Siberia was seen on May 25 heading north up the A1 some 50 miles north of London and 19 miles west of Cambridge. It paused briefly at the Paxton Gravel Pits nature reserve close to St Neots before flying on north - of course it may have been a Pale-bellied bird heading for Greenland but I still think it unlikely to get there.

Eider: I have always been puzzled by the erratic appearance of these birds along the south coast. Many years ago I learnt that they are not just winter visitors to the English Channel when a flock of up to 110 or so spent the summer of 1989 in Chichester and Pagham Harbour (in July that year there were 70 in Chichester and 40 in Pagham). More recently I have learnt to expect from 80 to 120 to be in the Solent from December through to April but also to hear of 30 or 40 remaining right through the summer. I assume the summer birds are mainly young non-breeders which have learnt that the Solent is a good place for a summer holiday with sheltered watet and plenty of crabs to eat. Reports from Christchurch Harbour indicate that these summer visitors are arriving slowly in small parties - counts of birds heading east past the harbour have been Apr 26 (2), Apr 28 (1), May 5 (2), May 17 (1), May 26 (2), May 31 (5) - several of the more recent sightings seem to have been of adults (e.g. a drake on May 17, a pair on May 26)

Honey Buzzard: One was over Dungeness on May 30 heading south - maybe it didn't like the look of England and thought it would be better off in France

Black Kite: A 'probable' was in the Crawley area on May 25 but one at Icklesham (close to Rye) on May 26 was clearly seen for 20 minutes. Since then there have been reports from the Lewes area on May 29 and Eastbourne on May 30

Montagu's Harrier: One flew in over Portland on May 31

Red-footed Falcon: The Shatterford area bird was still being seen in the New Forest on May 30 when a different bird was reported from the Dorchester area

Quail: One at Portland on May 25 was the fifth potential migrant to be reported this year and on May 30 two more turned up at Beachy Head and the nearby Cuckmere Valley

Black-winged Stilt: One was at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on May 28

Stone Curlew: The eighth to be reported this year was on Ballard Down near Swanage on May 30

Temminck's Stint: Two were at Rye Harbour on May 26. There had been a string of ten reports between May 3 and 18 probably marking the main passage of these birds with this one on May 26 probably indicating late stragglers.

Curlew Sandpiper: Three seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 25 were also the first to be reported anywhere since May 18

Black-tailed Godwit: I chanced on a web page (for the Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust Welney reserve in the East Anglian Ouse Washes) which described Black-tailed Godwits as being rarities which winter in Africa with a few (well under 100 pairs) coming to Britain to breed - the majority of these doing so in the Ouse Washes with another cluster nesting at Derwent Ings in Yorkshire. If anyone else out there is under the impression that Black-tailed Godwits are common birds that can be seen around our coasts all year round (though with much reduced numbers in the breeding season since none breed in Britain and any wishing to breed fly to Iceland to do so) then they have to realise that this species comes in three different subspecies. The mainstream birds are known as Limosa limosa and these do winter in Africa and breed in a broad east-west band across Europe with a very small minority doing so in Britain (where they ceased to breed in the 19th Cent - the name Godwit is said to be a contraction of 'Good to eat' - and only resumed breeding here from 1952 onward). The great majority of the birds we see are of the subspecies Limosa limosa islandica which are slightly larger in size, breed in Iceland and winter here in Britain and northwest Europe. Brian Fellows tells me that a third subspecies Limosa limosa melanuroides breeds in eastern Siberia and migrates down the Pacific coast of Asia to winter in Australasia. Yet another related species is the Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica which breeds from Alaska across the north of Canada to Hudsons Bay - these spend the winter in South America

Terek Sandpiper: One turned up at Rye Harbour on May 31 - their web entry sums up the visit by saying .. "A Terek Sandpiper was present at Rye Harbour at 9am, fairly mobile and moving between saltmarsh and the new pits close to Lime Kiln Cottage. It was last seen at about 2.30pm, having been seen by hundreds of birdwatchers". I can imagine the congestion on the local roads as these hundreds of birders got the message on their pagers - those who didn't get there in time will probably have to wait at least another year before one turns up again in this country.

Black-headed Gull: More than 100 pairs are now nesting at Rye Harbour among 300 pairs of Sandwich and 150 pairs of Common Tern plus a few Med Gulls. Not unexpectedly in these conditions the Rye Harbour warden (Barry Yates) wrote on May 28 .. "Poor weather often sees an increase in gull chick mortality and today I saw a Black-headed Gull eating a small Mediterranean Gull chick and a Lesser Black-backed Gull eating a large Black-headed Gull chick".

Roseate Tern: A few singles are still going up channel and on May 27 one which was not in a hurry to get to the Farne Islands landed on a sand bar off Chichester Harbour and then flew into the harbour but I doubt it will nest on Pilsey Sands.

Little Tern: Brian Fellows was at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 27 and gives the latest estimate of 26 Little Tern nests, a big increase on the 11 nests he could see last week. He also found 8 Common Tern nests, 2 Ringed Plover nests and 1 Oystercatcher nest all struggling to co-exist with some 85 nesting pairs of Black-headed Gull. It seems that the Langstone Harbour Little Terns are doing well compared to Rye Harbour where no more than a 8 Little Terns have been seen so far, none of them attempting to nest. Hopefully those on the beach at Pagham Harbour are doing better than that but I have no news from there.

Black Tern: These are still passing through with a peak count of 11 seen at Dungeness on May 27

White-winged Black Tern: The first to be seen this year was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 27. A couple of good photos can be seen on the Dorset Bird Club website at http://www.dorsetbirdclub.org.uk/Sightings.htm

Puffin: A boat trip to look at the cliff nesting birds at Durlston Head on May 30 saw 5 Puffins there.

Swifts: In the past Swifts would arrive in Havant on May 1 and be seen daily until they left on July 31. In recent years numbers have decreased and dates become more erratic but until this year some have always arrived in early May and settled down to nest. This year none appeared until May 15 when two flew silently over my garden. Three birds did the same thing on May 16 then nothing until May 25 when two birds were seen low over trees in the Hayling Billy trail, almost certainly feeding on insects rising from the trees. Not until the evening of May 27 did a few birds (max 4) start diving and screaming over old nest sites in Manor Close houses and the same 4 were back again on the morning of May 28 but they have not been seen since. I am pretty sure these birds are not intending to nest this year but they are probably birds that were hatched in Havant and have come back to check out the nest sites in preparation for their first attempt at breeding next summer. More regular sightings of birds around breeding sites have come from Leigh Park and Emsworth this year, hopefully birds are still breeding at both places.

Alpine Swift: One appeared in Lewes, flying around the County Hall building, on May 28. It was still there, clinging to the wall of the building on May 29 and was still there on May 30 but not since

Bee Eater: The 18th report for this year was of a single in the Rye Harbour area on May 25 followed by one flying east over Fontwell (near Arundel) on May 29 and another at Portland on May 31

Hoopoe: The Canford Heath (Poole) bird was seen again on May 25 and on May 31 a new bird entered the country at Dungeness

Red-rumped Swallow: May 31 brought singles to Beachy Head and to Portland to bring the total of reports for this year to 9

House Martin: Good news from Leigh Park is that Martins are now nesting in all six home made nest boxes on a house near the Hermitage Stream

Tawny Pipit: One was seen and photographed at Rye Harbour on May 25 and 26 and on June 1 one was seen at Hurst spit near Lymington

Wheatear: Mention of a newly fledged bird at Rye Harbour on May 26 is a reminder that the species does still breed in Sussex.

Ring Ouzel: A female was at Beachy Head on May 30 and a female has been seen in the Folkestone area from May 18 to 29 (with two of them present on May 24)

River Warbler: One seen by several birders at Beachy Head on May 30 was a new species for Sussex

Marsh Warbler: One is said to have been identified by its song at Durlston Country Park on May 27 and the same or another was heard and seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 28

Icterine Warbler: One was at Dungeness on May 25 and one was at Sandwich Bay on May 30

Melodious Warbler: One was reported at Beachy Head on May 29

Red-breasted Flycatcher: One was at Dungeness on May 25 - the photo shows no red breast but the large white patches on the base of the outer tail feathers pick it out.

Golden Oriole: One was at Durlston on May 29 - the twelfth report for the year

Red-backed Shrike: On May 24 one was seen briefly perched on barbed wire at Byworth (a small village just south east of Petworth) and it has remained in the area near Shopham Bridge up to May 31 at least. Different birds have been seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 28 and in the Thanet area of Kent on May 30

Rose-coloured Starling: An adult was reported at Beachy Head on May 30

House Sparrow: Fledged juveniles have been mentioned in several recent reports and on May 26 two juveniles were being fed by their parents on the lawn of my house in Havant

Common Rosefinch: A 'possible' sighing in the New Forest near Rhinefield House on May 30

Serin: One was singing at Portland on May 27 - this is the 24th report for the year since the first was seen at Bognor on Apr 3

Corn Bunting: Good to hear of at least three singing from hedges and telegraph poles along Ham Road which runs across the open fields of the Manhood penninsula from Sidlesham to Earnley on May 29

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Emperor: Only now starting to emerge - first report from Rye Harbour on May 27 - almost a month after the similar looking Hairy Dragonfly appeared on May 2

Black-tailed Skimmer: Also first seen at Rye Harbour on May 27

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva): Some 30 of these rarities were found on the River Ouse upstream of Lewes in an organised search on May 25. A sighting of just one at the Brading Marshes RSPB reserve on the Isle of Wight on May 30 is thought to have been a first for the Island

Butterflies

25 species reported this week, including ...

Large Skipper: Seen at Gosport on May 23 a couple of days after the first had been seen on the Isle of Wight

Wood White: First seen in the Plaistow area near Horsham on May 21 (just one out) and another single seen nearby in Ashpark Wood on May 24

Common Blue: Numbers slowly increasing - peak count so far is 23 on Chalton Down north of Rowlands Castle on May 25

Adonis Blue: The first were seen on the Isle of Wight on May 18, Old Winchester Hill had two out on May 23 and on May 24 Malling Down near Lewes had 101 on show

Painted Lady: Sightings of singles at Martin Down on May 29 and in the Thanet area of Kent on May 30 bring the total of reports for the year since the first at Portland on Apr 27 to just eight so no invasion yet

Glanville Fritillary: An estimated 30 were seen at Hurst Castle on May 25

Meadow Brown: First of the year in the Brighton area on May 31

Moths

The Forester (0163 Adscita statices): The first report was of a male and female on Odiham Common on May 24

Yellow-legged Clearwing (0374 Synanthedon vespiformis): First of the year at Farlington Marshes (Peter Pond area) on May 23

Fox Moth (1638 Macrothylacia rubi): First two flying near Barton on sea on May 25

Blood-vein (1682 Timandra griseata): Frist in the Thanet area of Kent on May 30

Pretty Chalk Carpet (1784 Melanthia procellata): First seen on May 24 on the Downs north of Brighton near Edburton

Argent & Sable (1787 Rheumaptera hastata): First seen in Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) on May 29

Grey Pug (1837 Eupithecia subfuscata): First for the year taken by a visitor to Hamsphire in the Alton area on May 29

Shaded Pug (1840 Eupithecia subumbrata): First in the Thanet area on May 30

Ash Pug (1849 Eupithecia fraxinata): First in the Alton area on May 29

Common Wainscot (2199 Mythimna pallens): First in the Thanet area on May 30

Porter's Rustic (2392a Proxenus hospes): First at Portland on May 28

Burnished Brass (2434 Diachrysia chrysitis): First at Pannel Valley near Rye on May 28

Straw Dot (2474 Rivula sericealis): First at Pannel Valley near Rye on May 28

Other Insects

Stag Beetle: One male which appeared on my garden lawn on May 26 is the only one I have heard of so far this year

Oedemera nobilies (commonly called Thigh Beetle): On May 29 this species first appeared in Stansted Forest and on the Portsmouth shore at Eastney

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common Poppy: First seen on May 27 on waste land which was previously Broadmarsh playing fields in Havant

Opium Poppy: First also seen on May 27 at the old Broadmarsh playing fields

Clustered Clover: At least one cluster of plants had flowers showing pink buds when I checked the site (in the middle of the old south coast trunk road immediately east of the new A27 at Havant) on May 26

Ribbed Melilot: First flowering at Eastney in Portsmouth on May 29

Lucerne: First flowering at Eastney in Portsmouth on May 29

Crown Vetch: On May 31 I found the plants growing wild in the 'garden' of council flats on Wakefords Way in Leigh Park, Havant, have once again survived a garden clean up and are close to giving another great display of flowers (not yet out)

Creeping Cinquefoil: First flowering on May 26

Biting Stonecrop: Bright yellow flowers were starting to appear on top of the wall of Church House in The Pallant here in Havant on May 30

Field Bindweed: First flowers seen in Havant on May 27

Large Bindweed: First flowers seen in Havant on May 26

Deadly Nightshade: First flowers seen in Chalton Down north of Rowlands Castle on May 28

Lesser Snapdragon or Weasel's Snout (Misopates orontium): One plant flowering in the New Lane allotments in Havant on May 26. Several others have appeared since then.

Heath Speedwell: First flowers seen in Stansted Forest main avenue on May 29

Hedge Woundwort: First flowers seen in Havant on May 27

Tufted Forget-me-not: First flowers on Langstone South Moors on May 30

Vipers Bugloss: First flowers on Eastney beach in Portsmouth on May 29

Clove-scented Broomrape (Orobanche caryophyllacea): Noted for interest only this was flowering on the golf course at Sandwich Bay in Kent on May 30

Creeping Thistle: First flowers on this seen in Havant on May 27 (Spear, Marsh, Welted and Slender Thistle all out prior to this)

Slender Thistle: Flowering since Apr 15 but discovered at a new site on May 27 on the waste ground which was once the Havant Broadmarsh Playing Fields

Milk Thistle: First flowers seen on May 27 at the Hayling Oysterbeds site

Nipplewort: First flowers in Havant on May 30

Rosy Garlic: I have now had confirmation that the plant which I found on May 23 flowering on Portsdown was this species, and a reminder that a colony of around 50 plants of it were discovered flowering on Milton Common in Southsea in May last year, and they are flowering again this year and can be seen in Brian Fellows' photo at http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-133-rosy-garlic-flowers-milton-cm-cu-28.05.08.jpg

Stinking Iris: First flower reported at Durlston on May 29

Bee Orchid: First local flowering that I know of was on Portsdown on May 22. Since then others have been spotted on May 27 in the grass triangle dividing the two carriageways of the Havant Road immediately west of the Forty Acres roundabout under the A3M at Bedhampton. Others have appeared on the Crookhorn Golf Course (on Portsdown) and half way down the coastal path (old railway) on Hayling Island

Fly Orchid: These had started to flower in Kent on May 20 and were found locally on Portsdown on May 29

Common Spotted Orchid: Plenty of these can now be seen in many palces but a good site with more than 500 spikes (including two white flowered) is easily accessed alongside the Hulbert Road close to its junction with the A3M on the east (Havant) side of the motorway. If coming from the A3M there is a lay by opposite the site as you come down from the roundabout and if coming from Havant there is a layby as you emerge from the trees just before you reach the site

Southern Marsh Orchid: A visit to the Langstone South Moors on May 30 found 70 fresh heathy flowering spikes so fears that salt water had damaged the plants seem to have been un-necessary

Early Marsh Orchids: John Goodspeed has seen a site somewhere north west of Southwick Village (north of Portsdown) where these can be seen among many Southern Marsh and Common Spotted orchids. I believe this species can also be found locally in the 'Hay Field' at Farlington Marshes and in the Lye Heath area

Fern Grass: Although I do not normally cover grasses here I was pleased to see the rigid fan shapes of Fern Grass blades on May 30 in a place where others should be able to spot them - right between the 'legs' of the first pair of twin power line poles as you enter the South Moors area from Mill Lane at Langstone heading for Southmoor Lane

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fallow Deer: There has long been a 'rogue gene' in the Fallow population of the wider Chichester area of West Sussex givng rise to white coated animals. Like the 'white' Grey Squirrels of the Portsmouth area these are not true albinos but from a distance they appear pure white. On May 30 Brian Fellows took a photo of a bunch of 8 Fallow in a cereal crop somewhere between Up Marden and Uppark House which captures two of the white ones - I think this is a group of last year's young with some already well on the way to growing their first set of antlers though the white ones show no sign of antlers - maybe they are does, maybe they are late developers? Have a look for yourself at http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-131-deer-up-marden-30.05.08.jpg

Roe Deer: The population of these continues to increase and on May 24 a doe was seen in the pony field north of Langstone Mill Pond where I am not aware of any previous sightings. There is now an established group of at least 12 on the north Hayling fields a mile to the south and another similar sized group in the fields between Havant and Emsworth immediately north of the new A27 but I cannot recall finding them in the Warblington/Langstone fields south of the A27

Water Voles: These are flourishing in the River Ems at Emsworth - the current year to date total of sightings stands at 76 compared to the highest previous total of just 50 for the whole year of 2005. This increases is probably due more to increased observer coverage than to the number of voles but the figure still shows a flourising Vole population.

Scorpion Fish: These are a group of species of small fish found world wide which rely on perfect camouflage to remain motionless on the bottom of rock pools and other shallow water until they can grab their prey. The Scorpion name results from the sharp upward pointing, poison filled, spines on their backs - humans suffer intense pain if they walk barefoot in shallow water and tread on one of these fish (I think they are not life threatening and the recommended treatment is to immerse the affected foot in hot water - as hot as you can stand - to ease the pain). It seems this potential hazard did not spoil the enjoyment of a group of children doing a bit of supervised rook pooling at Rye Harbour as part of their recent Wildlife Festival - the group netted eight of these small monsters (Long-spined Sea Scorpions or Taurulus bubalis) and you can see a couple of them pictured at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/?p=5697#more-5697 To learn more about them visit http://www.glaucus.org.uk/bullhead.htm which is run by Andy Horton based in Shoreham and is an excellent website for all matters concerning marine wildlife. Note that while there are marine creatures in British waters which can cause the pain mentioned at the start I am not sure if the creature found at Rye (Taurulus bubalis) is one of them.

Cuttlefish: At this time of year Cuttlefish come inshore to breed and die after which the remains of their bodies wash ashore to leave cuttlefish bones for cage birds. This has now started in north Kent where a birder found 160 of them in one 200 metre stretch of beach.

Fungus: This is also the season for Dryads Saddle fungus to appear - on May 30 Brian Fellows found one unusuall high on a tree near Up Marden and on the same day came on one more usually sited low on a log pile though this was also unusually in being considerably damaged despite being young and fresh - I ususally find them intact even when old and I suspect the damage may have been inflicted by humans rather than super Slugs.


Summary for May 19 - 25 (Week 20 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Bird news includes the start of Storm Petrel sightings in the English Channel and the first Black Stork sighting of the year. A webcam in the New Forest is now showing young in a Goshawk nest and nearby there has been a possible sighting of a Booted Eagle. The first Avocet chicks have hatched at Titchfield Haven and the first juvenile Tawny Owl has been seen out of its nest. Bee Eaters continue to invade England and rarities at Portland have been Thrush Nightingale and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. At least one Firecrest has shown it can sing both its own and Goldcrest song equally well. A Crossbill irruption may have started.

Variable Damselflies have started to emerge and up to 700 Four-spotted Chasers have been seen at Dungeness while one Broad-bodied Chaser was seen to catch and then free a Hornet. New butterflies are Large Skipper and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary while an exceptionally early White Admiral has been seen flying at Emsworth. 33 new moth species seen this week include both Elephant and Small Elephant Hawkmoths and a very rare migrant Great Dart has been trapped near Newhaven

Newly flowering orchids include Bee, Fly, Pyramidal, Bird's-nest and White Helleborine. Two Hayling rarities (Cock's Eggs and Sea Knotgrass) are out and both Rosy Garlic and Spotted Hawkweed were flowering on Portsdown

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Balearic Shearwater: Singles were seen from Christchurch Harbour on May 21 and 23, the first seen anywhere since Apr 29 (and before the Mar 30)

Storm Petrel: More than 9 were seen passing Selsey Bill on May 22 with at least one there on May 23 and an estimated 5 on May 24. In the past Storm Petrels were only seen after autumn gales but last year more than 100 were off Dorset and the Isle of Wight from May 7 until July 17 (peak counts were 160+ on May 10 and 12 with numbers dropping off after June 1)

Little Bittern: The female which arrived at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 17 was still there on May 20

Cattle Egret: At least one remained in Poole Harbour until May 23 while another appeared in the Marsh Farm area (north of Pagham Harbour north wall) on May 21 and 22

Great White Egret: One was in the Pevensey Levels area on May 21 and 22

Black Stork: One was at Arlington in the Cuckmere valley on May 18 (first for the year). Uncommon in western Europe

White Stork: One over the New Forest on May 20 was the third in southern England this spring (first at Portland on Apr 15, then one near Basingstoke on May 10). The New Forest bird may have flown east to appear in the Kent Stour valley/Thanet areas on May 22 and 23

Spoonbill: Six still together in the west of Poole Harbour on May 24

Barnacle Goose: In the spring of 1999 there were 42 Barnacle Geese regularly present at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth (and one or two pairs bred there successfully) but in the summer, when the pond was hit by disease, 17 were found dead and the rest dispersed to Titchfield Haven and other unknown locations. In 2000 no more than 12 Barnacles were seen at Baffins and by 2007 the peak count at the pond was just 6 birds dropping to 4 or 5 this year, but on May 22 Ian Julian visited the pond and gave us news that two of the remaining birds had paired up and raised a family of 5 young goslings.

Brent Goose: On May 23 sea watchers at Spalsh Point (Seaford) were surprised to see 3 apparently migrant Brent flying east.

Gadwall: These have now become widespread but I was suprised on May 22 to see a male (apparently paired with a female Mallard) on the tiny pond alongside the Hayling coastal path in a field just south of the Stoke Bay area (known to older birders as the 'Hoopoe Field' having hosted both Hoopoe and Sub-Alpine Warbler in past years but perhaps nowadays more associated the shipping container apparently dumped on the coastal path by Hertfordshire County Council when they had no further need for it)

Garganey: May 24 brought sightings of a pair together at Titchfield Haven and two drakes in the Arne area of Poole Harbour plus a single male associating with a female Mallard in the 'Breech Pool' by the Pagham Harbour north walls - this bird had been seen there on May 21 and 22 and shows no concern about showing itself to birders and others so at least one person has suggested that it is the same bird which was at Pagham lagoon from Mar 15 to Apr 8 showing no sign of being a wild bird.

Red-breasted Merganser: Three late birds flew east past Splash Point at Seaford on May 22

Honey Buzzard: On May 18 one was seen over Battle Great Wood north of Hastings and on May 20 one flew in off the sea at Portland with another two seen over West Bexington further west along the Dorset Coast - another arrived at Portland on May 21 These make a total of 14 sightings along the south coast since the first was seen in the Hastings area on Apr 24 - I suspect that most of these birds are just passing through Britain on their way to Scandinavia.

Black Kite: On May 18 one was reported going east over Came Wood (east of the A354 half way between Weymouth and Dorchester) and on May 20 there was a definite sighting in the Pevensey Levels area - the bird not only flew over low but landed in a field. On May 24 one flew west low over Worthing. I have seen 16 reports of this species so far this year but several are dubious (probably sightings of Red Kites) and I think that the four which escaped from London Zoo this year have not been recaptured yet!

Montagu's Harrier: A first summer male has been regularly seen in the Hartland Moor and adjacent Arne RSPB reserve areas west of Poole Harbour from May 14 to May 20 at least and on May 22 a female was in the Thanet area of Kent.

Goshawk: A webcam is once again showing life in a New Forest Goshawk nest to vistors to the Reptiliary (just west of Lyndhurst). By May 23 the nest had three 10 day old chicks

Booted Eagle??: Wayne Percy, a very experienced raptor enthusiast, feels sure that a bird which he saw flying north in the north west sector of the New Forest on May 24 was a Booted Eagle and was defnitely not a very pale Buzzard (so white it has been mistaken for a seaull when perched) nor a pale Honey Buzzard.

Red-footed Falcon: A first summer male has been seen by many birders in the Shatterford area of the New Forest from May 10 to 23 at least, and on May 22 an adult male was also seen in the same area

Merlin: A late returning bird flew in off the sea at Birling Gap (Beachy Head) on May 23

Hobby: Kent holds the record this year for the greatest number of Hobbies hunting at one site with a count of 36 in the Stour Valley in May 5. Dorset had 5 together in the Wareham Forest area on May 23 and Hampshire has had 7 in the Bishops Dyke (Beaulieu Road station) area on May 22 while Sussex peaked at 12+ over the Pevensey Levels on May 22

Quail: Two different birds were heard on Steep Down behind Lancing (Worthing area) on May 20 but there is no sign of a 'Quail year' developing so far. The only previous reports have been on Apr 30 (one ion Beaminster Down in Dorset), Apr 17 (two flushed at Durlston on the Dorset coast), Mar 26 (a possible early migrant flushed on the north Kent coast), and Jan 15 (at the foot of the Downs south of Pulborough - probably an escaped 'cage bird')

Common Crane: The three birds which were at Pulborough Brooks on Mar 18 (two of them staying there until Apr 4 when they were seen mating) were all back at Pulborough on May 18. The group of three may have arrived together on Feb 21 when three flew north over Horsham, and more recently the same three may have been the birds seen over the Medway estuary in Kent on May 6 while at other times the two that were seen mating may have succeeded in ridding themselves of the unwanted third bird which was seen in the Alton (Woolmer Pond) area three times during April and on May 15 was over East Dean near Beachy Head.

Avocet: By May 24 the first four chicks could be seen at Titchfield Haven.

Stone Curlew: Yet another late arrival (after the bird at Dungeness on May 13) was photographed crouching in the shingle at Rye Harbour beach on May 18

Ringed Plover: One or two pairs normally nest in the Hayling Oysterbeds area but this year they seemed to be absent until this week when three birds were seen there on May 20

Little Stint: Two were seen on the Lymington marshes on May 18 and 19, the first reported in Hampshire since one was at Farlington Marshes up to Mar 9

Temminck's Stint: This has been a good spring for sightings of this species on passage - I have reports of 11 sightings since Apr 25 (including 3 together at Pulborough Brooks from May 6 to 8). Latest report is of one well inland at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on May 18

Curlew Sandpiper: Ignoring the 'winter bird' seen in the Thames estuary on Mar 10 there have been three reports of birds on spring passage. On Apr 27 one was in Poole Harbour, on May 4 one was in the Lymington area and now one has been seen at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on May 18

Purple Sandpiper: A group of more than 20 birds seen at Barton on Sea (west of Lymington) on Apr 9 seemed to mark the normal end of spring passage but one was at Portland on May 6 to start a second phase of passage which has so far generated another seven reports, the latest being of two at Southsea Castle on May 19 (after three were at Newhaven on May 18)

Wood Sandpiper: Two more sightings of single birds, both on May 18, at the Blashford Lakes in west Hampshire and Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex.

Black-headed Gull: On May 23 there were more than 100 active nests at Rye Harbour, many of them having newly hatched young but a few having young already half grown. The Wildlife Discovery Day at Rye on May 25 featured an unsual Black-headed Gull being paraded through the streets of Rye which can be seen at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/?p=5673#more-5673 (the other pictures in the series are worth a look)

The number of active nests at the Hayling Oysterbeds had increased to 75 by May 20. I don't know how many more pairs are nesting on the RSPB Islands this year but the official count in 2004 was 4587 pairs and in 2006 it was up to 4923. No doubt it also increased in 2007, so no wonder that these gulls are grateful for any suitable habitat on which to nest.

Little Tern: By May 20 the number of nests at the Hayling Oysterbeds was thought to have increased to 11 but I have seen nothing to say that the total number in Langstone Harbour has increased above the 100 estimated last week (60 or 70 of these 100 birds will probably attempt to nest on the RSPB Islands in Langstone Harbour)

Tawny Owl: The first report of a juvenile out of the nest comes from Nyman's Gardens near Haywards Heath on May 24

Bee Eater: These continue to arrive in Britain - latest sightings have been of one arriving at Portland on May 18, one flying north in the Shatterford area of the New Forest on May 23 and another going northwest over the Chichester West Dean woods on May 24

Hoopoe: One photographed flying over Canford Heath on the western fringe of the Poole built up area on May 24

Thrush Nightingale: One turned up at Portland on May 18 and sang for a couple hours before vanishing. This species replaces our Nightingale in countries east of Poland and looks very like our bird but has a less attractive song (recording can be heard on the Portland website). As far as I know this species has never been recorded in Hampshire but I see that there had been 41 records of it in Britain prior to 1983 when my Shell Guide to Birds was published

Common Redstart: First report of a pair with a fledged youngster out of the nest comes from Ashdown Forest on May 24

Cetti's Warbler: These could almost be described as 'abundant' in Hampshire nearly 50 years after the first reached Britain at Titchfield Haven in 1961 but they are only now becoming frequent in east Sussex and Kent and I was interested to read on the Rye Bay website that they have not achieved the same westward spread on the continent and are still rare in Belgium

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: The bird which arrived at Portland on May 17 (see last week's summary) was still there on May 18 but has not been reported since.

Firecrest: John Eyre had a clear view of a Firecrest somewhere in Hampshire on May 24 and saw that it was singing not only its own distinctive song but alternating that with the song of a Goldcrest. John saw the bird on a bare branch and says .. "I could clearly see it singing both regular Firecrest - an accelerating, rising Zu Zi Zi Zizizzzz - and the Goldcrest-like cyclical, rising and falling song".

Golden Oriole: These were reported from Dungeness, Portland, the Kent Stour valley and Lodmoor (Weymouth) during the period May 16 to 18 and I have just seen that there was also one heard singing somewhere in the New Forest during that wave of arrivals. Latest report is of one on the golf course behind Climping beach (between Bognor and the mouth of the R Arun) on May 21

Woodchat Shrike: First sighting of the year was of one at East Holme near Wareham in Dorset on May 18.

Starling: First report of young out of the nest and being fed on the ground by their parents comes from Brian Fellows in Emsworth on May 20

Crossbill: A couple of recent reports of one or two Crossbills flying west across Kent were probably of birds arriving from the continent but it was not until May 23 when a flock of 18 was seen in Ashdown Forest that there was a mention of this marking the start of an irruption - worth keeping eyes and ears open in Stansted Forest

Corn Bunting: One was seen at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on May 23 (last report of any Corn Buntings in Hampshire was on Mar 27 in the Andover area).

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Broad-bodied Chaser: Brian Fellows made a very unusual observation at Stansted House on May 21 when he saw a Chaser dragonfly in the air over a small pond carrying a Hornet, seemingly in its jaws. After a short time the Hornet managed to free itself and fly off so my guess is that while the dragonfly was patrolling its territory the Hornet happened to cross its path and the dragonfly instinctively scooped it up in it legs which have spines to prevent prey from escaping. Whether the dragonfly realised 'it had bitten off more than it could chew' or whether the Hornet broke the grip of the leg spines cannot be determined but neither insect showed any observable damage.

Four-spotted Chaser: The unusual sight on May 16 of 600+ of these clinging to reeds at Dungeness as a result of dull and damp weather (after emerging from the water they climbed the reeds to pump-up and dry out their wings but the absence of sun meant that their wings did not dry and so the dragonflies could not fly) was repeated on May 17 (when 650 were counted on the reeds) and May 19 brought another count of 110 there. The saga continued with a count of 700 on May 22. No news of Hobbies visiting the site!

Variable Damselfly: Two seen at Rye Harbour on May 18 were the first for the year.

Butterflies

26 species seen in the past week with first appearances of White Admiral, Large Skipper and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Large Skipper: First of the year seen on the Isle of Wight on May 21

Clouded Yellow: Still no major invasion but on May 22 a fast flying Clouded Yellow was seen heading north at Durlston on the Dorset coast where others had been seen on Apr 16 and 23. The current sighting is the seventh for the year.

Brown Argus: May 18 saw a mass emergence of these with more than 60 seen together at one site on Bonchurch Down (IoW) and on May 20 more than 20 were seen on the Sussex Downs above the Cuckmere Valley

Common Blue: These are now being seen at all the expected sites with counts of 16 together on Chalton Down (Rowlands Castle) and 19 at Southwater Country Park (Horsham)

Adonis Blue: Also seen at Bonchurch Down on May 18 were more than 60 of these beauties. On May 24 Mill Hill at Shoreham had 30 but Martin Down only had 12 on May 21

Duke of Burgundy: I had thought that these were only seen on open downland but it seems that when they were more numerous in the past they could also be found in woodland glades. A sighting of three in woodland near West Meon shows that they can still occur there.

White Admiral: One was reliably reported to have been seen in Hollybank Wood at Emsworth on the exceptionally early date of May 11 - the first ever recorded before June 1 in Britain as far as I know. I certainly could not find a May emergence reported in any of the Hampshire Butterfly reports from 2007 back to 1989 when the first was seen on what was then regarded as the remarkably early date of June 11, and the report goes on to say that June 11 was the earliest county record since 1943 while the earliest ever Hampshire record was 2 June 1918. That report also talks of a major population crash in 1988.

The RSNC Guide to Butterflies written by Jeremy Thomas shows the flight period for White Admiral as being limited to July with a few sightings in late June and with late sighting up to the third week of August. In 2006 the flight period seemed to end on Aug 7 but an abnormal second generation started to fly on Sept 3, lasting until Oct 15. This was not unprecedented but did not recur in 2007 (last sighting was on Aug 7) though the 2007 emergence did start on the early date of June 3. I wonder if the conditions which effectively brought forward (for some individuals) the spring emergence of 2007 to the autumn of 2006 has been at work again, bringing the spring emergence in 2008 forward by a month for at least one individual?

Red Admiral: The appearance of a very fresh individual to sun itself on my garden path on May 24 may well reflect the local emergence of insects from caterpillars which fed here through the winter. On May 3 one Red Admiral is known to have emerged from the pupa of an overwintering caterpillar in the Sussex Ouse valley and local emergence is supported by the absence of reports of migrant arrivals.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary: The first of the year was seen in Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) on May 19 with 15 males flying there by May 21

Glanville Fritillary: Aroung 20 of these were seen on the undercliff at Wheeler's Bay, Ventnor, on May 18

Grayling: Not yet on the wing as butterflies but on May 17 a nocturnal search for caterpillars of this species (normally as elusive and cryptic as the adult butterflies) was organised somewhere in East Sussex and succeeded in finding 11 caterpillars in downland grass.

Moths

33 new species this week

Alabonia geoffrella (0652): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 20

Pancalia leuwenhoekella (0899): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 20

Arched Marble (1080 Olethreutes arcuella): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 24

Marbled Orchard Tortrix (1083 Hedya nubiferana): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Small Magpie (1376 Eurrhypara hortulata): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

White-spotted Sable (1381 Anania Funebris): First of these distinctive day flying moths in the Thanet area of Kent on May 20

Udea olivalis (1392): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Thistle Ermine (1458 Myelois circumvoluta): First at Durlston on May 22

Silver-ground Carpet (1727 Xanthorhoe montanata): First in Pannel valley (Rye) on May 22

Yellow Shell (1742 Camptogramma bilineata): First in the Adur valley on May 20

Grass Rivulet (1807 Perizoma albulata): First at Durlston on May 22

Light Emerald (1961 Campaea margaritata): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Elephant Hawkmoth (1991 Deilephila elpenor): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Small Elephant Hawkmoth (1992 Deilephila porcellus): First at Denton (Newhaven) on May 21

Buff-tip (1994 Phalera bucephala): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Alder Kitten (1996 Furcula bicuspis): First at Catsfield near Hastings on May 23

Cream-spot Tiger (2058 Arctia villica): First at Rye Harbour on May 21

Great Dart (2094 Agrotis crassa): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23. Described on UK Moths as .. "A very rare migrant to Britain, with less than 20 records in the last 100 years".

Purple Clay (2122 Diarsia brunnea): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

The Shears (2147 Hada nana): First at Rye Harbour on May 21

White Colon (2152 Sideridis albicolon): First at Rye Harbour on May 21

Light Brocade (2157 Lacanobia w-latinum): First at Denton (Newhaven) on May 21

The Campion (2166 Hadena rivularis): Two taken somewhere in Sussex on May 23

Obscure Wainscot (2204 Mythimna obsoleta): First at Pannel Valley (Rye) on May 22

The Miller (2280 Acronicta leporina): First at Ringmer (Lewes) and at Catsfield near Hastings on May 23

Alder Moth (2281 Acronicta alni): First at Catsfield near Hastings on May 23

Dark Dagger (2283 Acronicta tridens): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Clouded-bordered Brindle (2326 Apamea crenata): First at Pannel Valley (Rye) on May 22

Treble Lines (2380 Charanyca trigrammica): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 23

Gold Spot (2439 Plusia festucae): First at Pannel Valley (Rye) on May 21

The Four-spotted (2465 Tyta luctuosa): First at Portland on May 21

Small Purple-barred (2470 Phytometra viridaria): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 20

Caterpillars: Lackey Moth caterpillars found at Durlston on May 22

Other Insects

Hornet: One seen on Portsdown on May 23 and one at Stansted on May 21 (see Dragonflies above)

Bloodsucker Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva): Seen on umbellifers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 18

Eyed Ladybird: First report from Dungeness on May 21

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Rock Rose: First of year flowering at Fort Purbrook on Portsdown on May 20

Pale Flax: First flowers reported at Durlston on May 22

Procumbent and Annual Pearlwort: Both noticed flowering this week

Spanish Gorse: Flowering at Black Point on Hayling on May 22

Tree Lupin: In full flower at Black Point on May 22 - probably out for some time

Hop Trefoil: First flowers at Fort Purbrook on Portsdown on May 20 (one day earlier thatn 2007)

Tufted Vetch: Flowering on Portsdown from May 19

Tormentil: First report of the year from the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on May 24

English Stonecrop: Starting to flower on south Hayling on May 22

White Bryony: First flowers on Portsdown on May 19

Ground Elder: First flowers seen in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on May 24

Wild Parsnip: Although this had been reported in flower at Durlston on Apr 29 the first local report was from Portsdown on May 19

Wild Carrot: Late flowering plants seen in Feb and Mar but the first fresh flowering not seen until May 23

Wood Dock: Found flowering in the Hollybank Woods on May 24

Sea Knotgrass (Polygonum maritimum): This very rare plant is still to be found on the shingle east of Sandy Point reserve on Hayling and was in flower on May 22

Wild Privet: Just starting to flower on Portsdown on May 20

Cock's Eggs (Salpichroa origanifolia): This still flourishes on Sinah Common (south Hayling) and first flowers were seen on May 22

Purple Toadflax: This started to flower on May 23

Eyebright: Flowering at Durlston on May 22

Alkanet (Anchusa officinalis): Flowering at Hayling Island Sailing Club (Black Point) on May 22 - not to be confused with Green Alkanet

Common Broomrape: Found freshly flowering at two local sites on May 19

Hoary Plantain: First flowers seen on Portsdown on May 20

Sheep's Bit: This lovely blue flower was out on south Hayling on May 22

Guelder Rose: First seen flowering on Portsdown on May 23

Honeysuckle: Wild hedgerow plants had started to flower on Hayling on May 22

Hedge Bedstraw: Just starting to flower on Portsdown on May 23

Silver Ragwort: Just starting to flower in Hayling beach gardens (hardly separable from the beach environment) on May 22

Seaside Daisy: Just starting to flower in Hayling beach gardens (hardly separable from the beach environment) on May 22

Welted Thistle: One first plant flowering on Portsdown on May 23

Black Knapweed: Flowering well on Portsdown by May 23

Hawkweed Oxtongue: One first flowering plant on Portsdown on May 19

Spotted Hawkweed (Hieracium maculatum): One plant unexpectedly in flower on Portsdown on May 23

Red-hot Poker: A bank of plants well out at Black Point on Hayling were my first on May 22

Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum): A very pretty plant that I have never seen before was in flower (with bulbils) on Portsdown on May 23 - presumably a garden chuck out which had established itself on the downland in long grass

White Helleborine: Flowering in Kent on May 20

Bird's nest Orchid: Flowering in Kent on May 20

Pyramidal Orchid: Several had started to flower on Portsdown by May 23

Bee Orchid: First flower seen at Durlston on May 21

Fly Orchid: Flowering in Kent on May 20

Sea Club-rush: Flowering at Emsworth on May 22

Quaking Grass: Abundant on Portsdown on May 23

Hare's Tail Grass: A great show in two area of the Sandy/Black Point area on Hayling on May 22

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: As I was cycling down the Billy Trail in the Langstone area on May 22 a small Fox popped out in front of me but quickly vanished again - my first impression was that it was one of this year's cubs but the animal's tail seemed to have no fur on it so it was probably a small mangy adult.

While thinking of animal fur coming out I was very puzzled to go out onto my front lawn this morning (May 25) and to see a large amount of ginger fur covering a small area of grass around a central flattened hairless area. There was no indication of any struggle and my best guess was that a local old ginger tom had been sleeping on the lawn (during the overnight rain!!) while some unknown and unskilled cat barber had been all round the cat cutting off chunks of ginger fur and scattering them around the sleeping cat's body. Not a very likely story but can you make a better suggestion?

Dolphins: Bird watchers at Selsey Bill on May 22 saw two Bottle-nosed Dolphins and one Common Dolphin (first report of this species for the year)

Rabbits: Baby Rabbits are now being seen everywhere

Fungus: Just two reports this week. On May 24 Brian Fellows found a fresh specimen of Chicken of the Woods aka Sulphur Polypore (Laetiporus sulphureus) on a large tree stump in the Hollybank Woods north of Emsworth. On May 23 I was on Portsdown Hill and noticed that a lot of the short grass had tight white 'collars' some 1 to 2 cm high around the middle part of the grass stems - I think this was a fungus called Epichloe typhina or 'Grass Choke'


Summary for May 12 - 18 (Week 19 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Bird highlights include Bittern and Long-eared Owl heard through the night in the Kent Stour Valley; Little Bittern, Purple Heron and Great White Egret in the Weymouth area; Glossy Ibis at Weymouth before stopping at Lymington; Raptor sightings include Red-footed Falcon, Honey Buzzard, Hen and Montagu's Harrier and lots of Red Kites plus a wandering Eagle of disputed identity; a reported American Golden Plover proved to be a Grey after drawing in the twitchers to Lymington; Purple and Wood Sandpipers still being seen; lots of Bee Eater sightings and many Wood Warblers (one managing to eat a caterpillar and sing at the same time); bird of the week was an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Insect news includes 600+ Four Spotted Chasers got caught out by the weather to give a good photo opportunity; Small Blues are out and Butser Hill has a very good showing of Duke of Burgundy; 41 new moths include a Dorset Cream Wave and Eyed + Poplar Hawkmoths

Plants: Yellow Horned Poppies are out with Sea Pea at Rye Harbour; Grass Vetchling can be seen at Broadmarsh and I had an exciting 'lifer' first when I found Manna Ash in flower on Portsdown; Foxgloves, Wild Thyme and Common Mallow are common firsts for the year while Wild Clary, Hounds Tongue, Ivy Broomrape and Herb Paris were much more exciting finds; Man and Common Spotted Orchids are now out as are Southern Marsh but there are fears that flooding with sea water has had a dire effect on the Langstone South Moors colony

The first Roe Deer kid has been dropped and I have been introduced to the subject of Squid Eggs

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Bittern: A group of birders in the Kent Stour Valley undertook an all night vigil at Grove Ferry from May 16 to 17 and enjoyed the night long booming of Bittern

Little Bittern: One turned up at Lodmoor in Dorset late on May 17

Cattle Egret: At least two remain in Dorset (seen in Poole Harbour on May 16 and at Radipole on May 17) but there have also been reports of one in the Sussex Ouse valley on May 14 and 16

Great White Egret: A photo of one at Radipole on May 17 (see Dorset Bird Club) shows the black bill and yellow legs they have at this time of year.

Purple Heron: One flying over water at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 17

Glossy Ibis: One seen briefly at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on May 17 before flying on to be seen at Keyhaven (Lymington) on the May 17 and 18

Spoonbill: One was seen in Langstone Harbour on May 15 by the Litttle Tern warden at the Oysterbeds who only got a distant view of it in the Broadmarsh area. As many as six were still in the Poole Harbour area on May 13

Brent Goose: The first week with no reports!

Bar-headed Goose: Of local interest I see that one was with Canada Geese in the flooded field by the Main Road onto Thorney Island on May 12

Shoveler: A pair made a surprise appearance in Emsworth Harbour on May 13 and a single drake also popped up at Christchurch Harbour that day

Pochard: Another late traveller was a male Pochard seen flying past Spalsh point at Seaford on May 11

Honey Buzzard: On May 11 one flew in over Christchurch Harbour and was said to be heading 'straight for the New Forest'. Several others have arrived this week - at Folkestone singles flew in off the sea on My 9 and 11, in north Sussex one was seen near Ashdown Forest on May 12, and on May 15 two probable sightings in the Brighton area (at Southwick and Falmer) may have been of the same bird.

Black Kite: Two 'probable only' sightings this week - one over Brighton, the other over Pilsdon Pen in west Dorset. These may well have been more Red Kites (see below)

Red Kite: I have seen 23 reports of Red Kite sightings along the south coast during the four day period from May 10 to 13, one of them relating to at least 6 seen in the Kent Stour valley on May 10, another report of 9 Kites seen together over the Rother Valley north of Hastings on May 11 and another of 2 or 3 over West Grinstead near Pulborough on May 12. Local sightings have been over Chichester city centre and north Emsworth on May 11, and over Langstone village on May 13. Latest report is of one going low over Bishopstoke (Eastliegh area) on May 17. While there is no common direction in which these birds were heading the majority were seen within a mile or so of the coast and at least four of them were said to be heading north so I think it is not unreasonable to guess that we have seen a wave of non-breeding birds drifting over from the continent (it is equally plausible to imagine these are young birds hatched in Britain in the last couple of years and with nothing better to do than to take a day trip to the seaside). We know there are lots of Red Kites in Britain nowadays but I was surprised to see John Clark illustrating the numbers in Hampshire by saying that he knows of at least one winter roost in the county which held more than 50 birds, and with these numbers around it is very likely that one or more pairs are breeding 'somewhere near where you live'.

Hen Harrier: We normally only see these in winter month but this week has brought two more sightings - one on May 13 over Hartland Moor (just west of Poole Harbour), and the other was a male over Dungeness on May 16.

Montagu's Harrier: Kent has had three recent sightings - one over Folkestone on May 9, one in the Stour valley near Canterbury on May 12 and one at Reculver on the north coast on May 15. Dorset has also had three sightings on May 14, 15 and 17, all in the area west of Poole Harbour.

White-tailed Sea Eagle? Around a dozen sightings of unidentified Eagles have been reported this month, mostly in the New Forest but with at least one report from the Christchurch area of Dorset and a couple from south east Hampshire (Bedhampton and Fareham). Several of the earlier reports specifically denied that the bird was the White-tailed Sea Eagle which spent much of last winter in the Andover area (coming from a nest in Finland where it was hatched and ringed last spring) but the consensus (not unanimous) now seems to be that it is that same bird that is wandering round Hampshire. The question now is will it stay? (and if so where?)

Osprey: One was over Thorney Island as recently as May 12 followed by two sightings in Dorset on May 12 and 14 and one at Cuckmere Haven near Eastbourne on May 16

Red-footed Falcon: A male was seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 11 and one was reported in the Bishop's Dyke area of the New Forest (near Beaulieu Road station) on May 13

Hobby: Plenty of recent sightings but the Stour Valley in Kent continues to be a good place to see them with a total of 25 there on May 12 (they had reported 36 there on May 5)

Common Crane: On May 15 one was seen flying over East Dean in Sussex but unfortunately the reporter did not say which East Dean he meant - it could be a local sighting near Goodwood north of Chichester but is more likely to have been at the East Dean which is just inland of Beachy Head.

Oystercatcher: I have heard in the past that this species is subject to 'phantom pregnancies' and will occasionally sit on what seems to be nest with no eggs in it. Brian Fellows now tells us that one at the Hayling Oysterbeds has gone one better and is sitting on a nest with eggs, but not of her own - it seems she has taken over a Ringed Plovers nest and eggs.

Stone Curlew: These birds normally arrive in this country before the end of March so one seen at Dungeness on May 13 was either very late in arriving or had already decided to quit this season's attempt at breeding (more likely this was a young bird not intending to breed this year).

American Golden Plover: What looked very like an American Golden Plover arrived at Pennington Marshes (Lymington) early on May 13, attracting a fair number of twitchers who duly arrived and ticked it on their lists without checking the only two sure identification features which separate the American bird from our Grey Plover (one is the colour of the axillary feathers which are hidden by the closed wing, the other is the call). Even Britain's leading twitcher (Lee Evans) had to admit to being misled by appearances when the bird lifted its wings to show it had black axillaries and was thus a Grey Plover

Temminck's Stint: These have already been seen this month at Lymington and Pulborough Brooks as well as the Kent Stour Valley before one appeared at Farlington Marshes (at the Deeps) on the evening of May 13. Since then two were seen together at Sandwich Bay in Kent on May 16 and one was at the Lymington Marshes on that same day (probably not the same bird seen there on May 6 and 8)

Purple Sandpiper: The single bird which turned up at Portland on May 6 seemed to be a lone straggler but now May 11 saw the appearance of a group of 8 at Southsea Castle and on May 13 there were two at Portland - another or the same two were at Portland on May 15 and yet another (this time a group of 4) was on the Dorset coast near Lyme Regis on May 17

Woodcock: These were seen roding on May 11 the The Vyne near Basingstoke and at Parkhurst Forest on the IoW.

Wood Sandpiper: These are uncommon on spring passage but there have been at least 10 reports this spring - the latest are of one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 11, five in the Kent Stour Valley on May 12, and two at Sandwich Bay on May 14

Common Tern: Approximately 10 birds (5 pairs?) were seen around the nest island at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 13 and are in the middle of the pecking order there - the big bullies are around 50 pairs of nesting Black-headed Gulls which harry both Common and Little Terns, the latter being also harried by the Common Terns.

Little Tern: By May 13 one pair had already laid eggs at the Hayling Oysterbeds (earliest recorded date of laying at this site) and up to 30 birds (another 14 pairs) may be intending to nest at the site with another 70 birds basing themselves on the RSPB islands in Langstone Harbour. At the Oysterbeds the Little Terns have to compete for nest sites on the islands in the lagoon with some 50 pairs of Black-headed Gull that have already settled down to nesting, and with around 10 Common Terns and two pairs of Oystercatchers. One pair of Oystercatchers had already seemingly driven off a pair of Ringed Plover that tried to nest on the island.

Black Tern: On May 15 two were seen fishing in the Langstone Channel off the Hayling Oysterbeds

Cuckoo: On May 13 one was regularly calling in the scrub area around the Hayling Oysterbeds and another had been heard in the Milton area of Portsmouth (I suspect that one was just passing through). On May 16 one was heard repeatedly calling on the Warblington Farm fields so that site has not been abandoned.

Long-eared Owl: As Tawny Owls are absent from the Isle of Wight and are replaced there by Long-eared I was not surprised to see that a Long-eared was present in Parkhurst Forest on May 11 when the first Nightjar were churring there but I was surprised to see that the birders undertaking an all-night vigil in the Kent Stour Valley heard one 'hooting through the night'.

Nightjar: By May 11 one was back and churring in the Vyne Park area near Basingstoke and another was in Parkhurst Forest on the Isle of Wight. On May 13 another was seen flying in off the sea at Christchurch Harbour but sadly it was struck by a Peregrine before it reached the shore - whether the blow killed it is not known but it was seen to fall into the sea and, while the Peregrine made a couple of attempts to retrieve the body it was not successful and the Nightjar is now presumably crab food.

Swifts: Half a dozen birds have been regularly screaming around houses in Emsworth where they presumably have, or are searching for, nest sites in the older buildings. Here in Havant a couple were seen on May 9 and again on May 15 and 16. May 16 bought the first sighting of a pair copulating on the wing over Worthing. Many were still arriving at Portland on May 17 but I suspect that these late birds will not breed this year.

Bee Eater: I have now seen 14 reports of these (potentially totally 40 birds) since the first were seen in Dorset on Apr 27. The latest reports include three from the New Forest area - on May 11 some five birds were seen at Cadman's Pool near Stoney Cross and on May 13 two were seen at this same site, then on May 14 five were seen flying north in the Furze Hill area of South Gorley (north east of Ringwood). The other new sightings come from Kent - on May 14 there were sightings at Folkestone, Sandwich Bay and the Thanet area, and at Seasalter near Whitstable.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Of local interest one was seen or heard about half way along the Main Avenue of Stansted Forest in the week ending May 11

Ring Ouzel: Two seen at Dungeness on May 9 were late comers for this species

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida elaeica): This rarity turned up at Portland on May 17 and was caught and ringed - maybe only the second at Portland after the first turned up in July 1999. Several very similar species occur and I think the bird can only be safely identified in the hand by close examination of the plumage (e.g. feather lengths). There is also a Western Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais opaca) which, despite its name, is probably even rarer in this country. See many photos and details of today's bird on the Portland website.

Wood Warbler: This seems to be a good year for a species that has been in long term decline (it's many years since they could be heard at West Walk woodland in the Meon Valley though luckily they have persisted in the New Forest). On May 17 David Holland asked if others were also seeing more of them this year after he had just seen 7 together at one site in the New Forest (including one singing with its mouth full - eating a large caterpillar without impeding the delicious flow of its shivery song). I know that birds can breathe in and out at the same time in a continuous circle of moving air, unlike humans who can only sing as they expel air and who have to pause to breathe more air in, but I was surprised that singing seems to have a separate air passage from the throat used for swallowing food - I would like more info on this!

Spotted Flycatcher: A pair had returned to the buildings around Stansted House by May 11 and others are still arriving (ten were present on Portland on May 13). On May 15 Portland had a huge fall of an estimated 225 Spotted Flycatchers on or over the island, with 60 there on May 16 and 30 on May 17

Bearded Tit: First mention of juveniles out of the nest comes from the Kent Stour Valley on May 17

Long-tailed Tit: On May 16 I watched a family of at least eleven pass me heading along a hedgerow at Warblington Farm, the rattle of the adult birds almost drowned by the tiny Goldcrest-like contact notes of the young birds

Red-backed Shrike: A smart male bird was seen at Dungeness on May 11 (the only other report so far is of one on the Dorset coast on May 9)

Golden Oriole: Two more reports of singing birds - one at Dungeness on May 16 (when another bird was logged at Portland) and another singing in the Canterbury area of Kent on May 17

Tree Sparrow: It is clear that a few of these regularly cross the channel but I was surprised to see a run of them appearing at Portland - they report one present on May 13, two on each of May 14. 15, 16 and three on May 17

Reed Bunting: Of local interest one was back and singing at Langstone Mill Pond on May 15

Escapes: A Red-tailed Hawk flew over the centre of Winchester on May 13

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: 15 of these were flying at Dungeness by May 12

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea): The first two of the year were flying in the Rye area on May 13

Broad-bodied Chaser: First two reports for the year came onMay 11 from the Hastings area and from Selborne Common in Hampshire

Four-spotted Chaser: These have been out since May 2 and by May 12 around 15 were flying at Dungeness. On May 14 I heard of one having been seen in a south Hayling garden and on May 16 the weather conditions gave rise to an extaordinary sight at Dungeness. An estimated 600+ of these dragonflies emerged from water there at first light and climbed the reeds to pump up and dry out their wings prior to flying but damp, misty air and the absence of the sun prevented them from doing this (at least for some time) allowing a mass of them to be photographed clinging to the reeds.

Beautiful Demoiselle: The first was reported on May 7 and by May 12 'many teneral' specimens could be seen near Lewes with around a dozen seen perching on brambles at the foot of the Downs north of Brighton on May 13

Red-eyed Damselfly: Several flying at Dungeness on May 12

Common Blue Damselfly: Seen at Rye Harbour again on May 13

Butterflies

25 species reported so far this week, including ...

Dingy Skipper: Said to be having an exceptionally good year in Sussex

Clouded Yellow: The sixth sighting for the year was the first for the Isle of Wight, seen on Afton Down on May 11

Green Veined White: Unlike the Large and Small Whites which are far roaming migrants that can be seen anywhere Green-veined Whites are restricted to a colonial life in areas with grass that is to their liking. It seems that the grass on Milton Common in Southsea is very much to their liking as as a confetti-like cloud of them could be seen there on May 12, reported by Richard Jones (Portsmouth's Wildlife Warden in charge of Portsdown Hill wildlife)

Small Blue: The first reports for the year both came on May 11 when they were flying at Afton Down near Freshwater on the IoW and 11 were seen at Upper Beeding in the Adur valley. May 12 brought a further sighting at Cocking near Midhurst plus a dubious sighting of my own on Portsdown (a tiny speck of blue hurtled past me and disappeared) but their presence on Portsdown that day was confirmed by a report of 8 being seen in the Paulsgrove Chalkpit area

Duke of Burgundy: Although Noar Hill is probably the best known Hampshire site for these the highest count from there so far this year has been 16 insects whereas a total of 46 were seen on May 11 at 'Grandfather's Bottom' in a very steep ravine at the northern foot of Butser Hill. These were described in a report on a Hampshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation outing by Ashley Whitlock, who wrote about this 'bottom' .. "Here we stopped for lunch, and in such glorious sunshine and fantastic scenery who wants to be on a beach? On the flat grasses at the base of the hill we counted about (5) Duke of Burgundies, however when everybody was busy eating lunch, I slipped away up behind the Hawthorn and other scrub bushes, and about 30 minutes later came back with a tally of (41) here the Dukes really mark out their territories, being roughly 5-10 yards long, doing battle with other males and any Grizzled Skippers and Dingy Skippers as well".

Painted Lady: Sixth report for the year was of one at Ladle Hill near Basingstoke in north Hampshire on May 12

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: On May 10 at Rewell's Wood west of Arundel 26 were counted and on that same day there were 17 in Abbot's Wood near Hailsham.

Small Heath: Although this species is in decline Hampshire is doing fairly well with them - on May 11 some 20 were seen at Butser Hill and on May 12 Chalton Down (north of Rowlands Castle) had 6 while Magdalen Down near Winchester had 4. At least one more has been seen at East Meon and in Sussex 8 were counted at Uppper Beeding in the Adur Valley on May 11

Moths

41 new species for the year list this week

Common Swift (0017 Hepialus lupulinus): First at Pagham Harbour on May 7

Bucculatrix ulmella (0274): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Aspilapteryx tringipennella (0294): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Argyresthia trifasciata (0409A): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Elachista argentella (0610): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Tachystola acroxantha (0656): First at Portland (and new species for that site) on May 11

Phtheochroa rugosana (0925): First at Pagham Harbour on May 8

Aethes smeathmanniana (0947): First at Pagham Harbour on May 10

Plum Tortrix (1082 Hedya pruniana): First at Pagham Harbour on May 9

Small China-mark (1354 Cataclysta lemnata): First 'somewhere in Sussex' on May 14

Garden Pebble (1356 Evergestis forficalis): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 10

Meal Moth (1417 Pyralis farinalis): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Nephopterix angustella (1465): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Figure of Eighty (1654 Tethea ocularis): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 11

Maiden's Blush (1680 Cyclophora punctaria): First at Pagham Harbour on May 8

Mullein Wave (1689 Scopula marignepunctata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 10

Satin Wave (1709 Idaea subsericeata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 10

Garden Carpet (1728 Xanthorhoe fluctuata): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on May 10

Small Phoenix (1759 Ecliptopera silaceata): First in Rother Valley woodland north Hastings on May 9

May Highflyer (1778 Hydriomena impluviata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 10

White-banded Carpet (1786 Spargania luctuata): First in Friston Forest near Eastbourne on May 13. This is a rare species first discovered in Kent in 1924 and restricted to the extreme south-east. This has only been known in Sussex since 1950

Sandy Carpet (1808 Perizoma flavofasciata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 5

Mottled Pug (1819 Eupithecia exiguata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 7

Pinion-spotted Pug (1820 Eupithecia insigniata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 10 - new species for the site

Treble-bar (1867 Aplocera plagiata): What I think was this species was seen by myself on Portsdown on May 12 (disturbed by day). It should be flying in this sort of habitat (food plant is St John's Wort) by now but I can see no previous reports of the species so mine is a possible first

Clouded Border (1887 Lomaspilis marginata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 8

Dorset Cream Wave (1888a Stegania trimaculata): A very rare find at Portland on May 11. Despite its name this is a southern European species which very rarely visits this country (but gets its name from the fact that it was first found in Dorset as recently at 1978)

Sharp-angled Peacock (1890 Semiothisa alternaria): First on May 11 in Thanet area of Kent

Peppered Moth (1931 Biston betularia): First on May 11 in Thanet area of Kent

Willow Beauty (1937 Peribatodes rhomboidaria): First on May 11 in Thanet area of Kent

Eyed Hawkmoth (1980 Smerinthus ocellata): First on May 11 in Thanet area of Kent

Poplar Hawkmoth (1981 Laothoe populi): First of year at Pagham Harbour on May 7 (on May 12 one was found in Langstone village)

Maple Prominent (2009 Ptilodontella cucullina): First on May 11 in Thanet area of Kent

Buff Ermine (2061 Spilosoma luteum): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

The Flame (2098 Axylia putris): First at Pagham Harbour on May 8

Pearly Underwing (2119 Peridroma saucia): First at Portland on May 14

Small Square-spot (2123 Diarsia rubi): First on May 10 in Thanet area of Kent

Broad-barred White (2164 Hecatera bicolorata): First on May 11 in Thanet area of Kent

White Spot (2172 Hadena albimacula): First at Portland on May 14

The Delicate (2195 Mythimna vitellina): First at Pagham Harbour on May 8

Poplar Grey (2278 Acronicta megacephala): First at Pagham Harbour on May 5

Marbled Minor (2337 Oligia strigilis): First at Pagham Harbour on May 8 - this may have been the look-alike Tawny Minor

Vine's Rustic (2384 Hoplodrina ambigua): First at Pagham Harbour on May 5

Mottled Rustic (2387 Caradrina morpheus): First at Pagham Harbour on May 7

Oak Nycteoline (2423 Nycteola revayana): First in Rother Valley woodland north of Hastings on May 9

Dark Spectacle (2449 Abrostola trigemina): First at Pagham Harbour on May 9

Other Insects

Froghopper: The presence of these at Durlston on May 14 was obvious from the presence of Cuckoo-spit containing the young insects on plants

Lily Beetle: These pretty but highly destructive pests had arrived on lily plants in Brian Fellows' Emsworth garden on May 12

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Garden Aquilegia: Several large and brightly coloured plants were incongruously flowering on the grassy slopes of Portsdown Hill on May 12

Yellow Horned Poppy: Flowering at Rye Harbour on May 15

Hairy Rockcress (Arabis hirsuta): This was more widespread and abundant than usual on Portsdown on May 12

Lesser Swine-cress: Growing abundantly and just starting to flower on disturbed earth forming banks around the carparking bays on Portsdown (Mill Lane site) on May 12

Horse Radish: This must have been out for some time but the first I saw was at Broadmarsh on May 17

Wild Mignonette: My first find of this in flower was on Portsdown on May 12

Weld: Probably seen on Portsdown on May 12 but definitely seen at Broadmarsh on May 17

Field Pansy: This continued to flower until the start of March and has now resumed with a find at Walderton on May 15

Fairy Flax: A few first flowers seen on Portsdown on May 12

Bladder Campion: Just starting to flower on Portsdown on May 12

Lesser Stitchwort: First flowers seen on Langstone South Moors on May 18

Bog Stitchwort: Out at Warblington Farm east stream on May 16

Sea Sandwort: Flowering on the shore at Langstone old rail bridge on May 15

Common Mallow: General start of flowering on May 16

White Clover: First flowers out on Portsdown on May 12

Bush Vetch: Although I often find this in April this year's first was on Portsdown on May 12

Grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia): First report of this lovely plant in flower came from Durlston on May 14 - locally I found the first on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' on May 17

Sea Pea: Something we are unlikely to see locally, this was flowering at Rye Harbour on May 16

Broad-leaved Willowherb: First plant in flower in my garden on May 12

Pink flowered Horse Chestnut: Brian Fellows reports an impressive tree now flowering in King St at Emsworth but I am not sure of the species or cultivar. I suspect it was the cross between the standard Horse Chestnut and Red Buck-eye (Aesculus pavia)

Common Lime: Although this has not yet started to drip sticky juices on parked cars it now has the flowers ready to do so soon

Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus): A new plant for my 'life list' - seen in full flower on Portsdown on May 12 (see diary entry for that day)

Knotted Hedge Parsley: This had started to flower at the Southmoor Lane site on May 18

Corky-fruited Water Dropwort: One plant was in flower on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' on May 17

Docks: Broad-leaved and Curled Dock plus Common Sorrel are now in flower

Brookweed: Not quite in flower at Warblington on May 16 but one bud was seen to be opening and showing the white colour of the flower.

Sea Milkwort (Glaux maritima): Fully out on many plants at Warblington on May 16

Yellow Wort: Reported to be in flower at Durlston on May 13 but not seen locally yet

Bittersweet Nightshade: First plant in flower seen on Portsdown on May 12

Common Figwort: Flowering at Broadmarsh on May 17

Water Figwort: Flowering at Langstone South Moors on May 18

Foxglove: The first wild flower opened in my garden on May 15

Brooklime: Flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 12

Yellow Rattle: Several plants in flower on Portsdown on May 12

Wild Thyme: Just one plant flowering in Portsdown on May 12 (but soon followed by others)

Wild Clary: Flowering at Durlston on May 14

Water Forget-me-not: This ceased flowering at the end of January and resumed on May 16 at Warblington

Hounds Tongue: Close to flowering on Butser Hill on May 14 and definitely out at Durlston on May 17 (also likely to be out at Sandy Point on Hayling)

Common Gromwell: I had seen this in flower near Fort Purbrook on Portsdown at least a week before I saw it again further west on Portsdown on May 12 when it was more widespread and abundant than usual

Ivy Broomrape: The yellow flowered variant plants growing in the Red Barn estate at Portchester (near the Hill Road bridge over the M27) were flowering and flourishing on May 17

Spear Thistle: One bush had two flowers open on May 17 here in Havant

Marsh Thistle: Start of flowering at Warblington on May 16

Musk Thistle: Not properly in flower by May 12 but sufficiently colourful then to attract my attention from a distance on Portsdown

Goat's Beard: First flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 14

Salsify: This had been reported flowering in Kent on May 6 but my first find was of a mass on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' on May 17 where they made a very pretty sight

Rough Hawkbit: Flowering on Portsdown on May 12

Smooth Hawksbeard: Several plants flowering on Portsdown on May 12

Prickly Sowthistle: Not seen in flower since Jan 7 until fresh flowering resumed on May 16

Black Bryony: One flowering plant seen at Broadmarsh on May 17

Herb Paris: Flowers found in the 'Grandfather's Bottom' valley on the northern slope of Butser Hill on May 14

Solomon's Seal: First report of this flowering 'in the wild' from Lowton's Copse on the southern slope of Butser Hill on May 10

Wild Onion (Crow Garlic): First unsheathed flower heads seen at Warblington on May 16

Man Orchid: Flowering in the Thanet area of Kent on May 12

Common Spotted Orchid: First flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on or before May 14 (probably out on May 12). No reports from elsewhere until May 17 when they were reported at Durlston.

Southern Marsh Orchid: One plant at Brook Meadow in Emsworth was showing colour on May 16 (and I think others were in bud in a south Hayling garden on May 14). Durlston reported flowering on May 17 and on May 18 I managed to find just one spike flowering at the Langstone South Moors site where I think the plants have been adversely affected by flooding with sea water in mid-March (see my diary entry for May 18)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Roe Deer: The first kid was dropped at Durlston on May 12

Hare: A count of 14 in the area called The Burgh on the Sussex Down above the River Arun on May 15

Noctule Bat: While looking for Nightjar and Woodcock to perform in Parkestone Forest (IoW) on the evening of May 11 a Noctule repeatedly flew over a clearing in the trees.

Sea Slater: These seashore 'giant Woodlice' can grow to 3 cm long but the biggest of a group of 4 found at Rye Harbour on May14 was only 2 cm long

Squid Eggs: On May 13 a large mass (perhaps about 50cm across) of what look like small whitish worms was photographed on the beach at Rye Harbour and described as 'Squid Eggs' with the comment that they would normally only be found well underwater firmly attached to a rock or similar solid substrate. Presumably these had been dragged form their 'moorings' by the trawl of a fishing boat - a disaster for them but a reminder to me that Cuttlefish are not the only members of the Squid family (which also includes Octopi) to be found in our coastal waters. We have all come across the 'cuttlefish bones' that remain on the shore after the flesh of the Cuttlefish has vanished but I don't recall finding Cuttlefish eggs on the shore - they are illustrated in my Reader's Digets book of Water Life, which calls them 'Sea Raisins' or 'Sea Grapes', as a cluster of small dark 'globules' with one pointed end which makes them look a bit like some form of small Winkle-like shellfish, and are apparently to be found in shallow water attached to Eel-grass or Seaweed. These are nothing like the 'Squid Eggs' in the photo and so I looked at other members of the Squid tribe which might have produced them, and while I cannot find information about their eggs I have found that at least four species of Squid occur in the Channel and that the most likely parent of these eggs is one of two species in the genus Loligo - either L.vulgaris (Long-finned Squid) or L. forbesi (Common Squid), the two being very difficult to separate by their appearance. These two are both large creatures growing to 50 or 60cm long. The other two species are Ptodarodes sagittatus and Alloteuthis subulata


Summary for May 5 - 11 (Week 18 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Bird highlights include an Eagle (species not identified), Red-footed Falcon, Black-winged Stilt, the first Long-tailed Skua and many Pomarines, two Whiskered Terns and a flock of 16 Bee-eaters, two Short-toed Larks, a Pallas's Warbler on Hayling, Golden Orioles in East Sussex and Kent and a Red-backed Shrike in Dorset. Also in the news are Great and Blue Tit families sharing a joint nest

Eight species of Dragonfly are now flying (including Beautiful Demoiselle), as are 25 butterfly species (including Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady migrants, Brown Argus, Adonis Blue, Pearl-bordered and Glanville Fritillaries. Many new moths include the first Hawkmoth (Lime) and three common day fliers (Cinnabar, Mother Shipton and Burnet Companion). Hornets, Cockchafers and Yellow Dung Flies have all appeared

New flowers include the first Dog Roses, Sainfoin, Ragged Robin, Subterranean and Clustered Clover plus the first of many Willowherbs. Surprise of the week was Hairy Garlic in flower at Emsworth.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Balearic Shearwater: These were regularly seen through January with a couple of sightings at the beginning of February followed by four isolated reports between Mar 6 and 30. The only April sighting was of one off Ventnor on Apr 29 - a good spring record for the IoW

Little Egret: The growth of fresh leaves on the Alders around Langstone Pond makes it easier to pick out the dead wood used by Little Egrets to construct their nests and on May 5 I thought I could see half a dozen occupied nests (with no doubt more unseen)

Great White Egret: On May 5 one was reported flying high east over Ovingdean beach (east of Brighton) and on May 6 there was another sighting claimed at Seaford (the entry on the SOS website said .. "Two egrets east past Splash Point, Seaford at 17.45, the second bird being larger with long black legs and bill." .. and on checking the books I find that the black bill, which sounds wrong for Great but right for Little, is in fact a feature of the breeding plumage of Great White - strangely its normally all yellow bill becomes black in the breeding season)

Purple Heron: On May 6 one was at the Dungeness RSPB reserve

White Stork: One was seen briefly at the edge of a ploughed field near Tadley (east of Basingstoke) on May 10 before it flew north

Spoonbill: One remained in the Lymington area up to May 5 at least and one was seen at Farlington Marshes that day. One was seen again at Farlington on May 9 and the Keyhaven bird was still there on May 10

Canada Goose: One pair had at least four goslings in the flooded field beside the main road onto Thorney Island on May 10

Brent Goose: A late straggler flew past Selsey Bill on May 6 and two went past Splash Point at Seaford on both May 8 and 9. On May 10 a total of 16 flew past Hope Gap near Seaford and on May 11 a total of 11 were seen in Southampton Water

Gadwall: The first report of Gadwall ducklings comes from theBlashford lakes where one family was seen on May 8

Garganey: Reported from five coatal sites this week with five birds together at Rye Harbour on May 4 and a smart pair together in the Lymington area on May 10

Eider: Keith Betton's monthly summary of bird news from Hampshire gave a peak count of 86 Eider off Titchfield Haven in March and 66 there sometime in April

Velvet Scoter: A lot of these have been moving up channel recently and on May 4 watchers at Lymington Hurst area saw 14 and those at Selsey saw 13 (2 were seen from Sandy Point on Hayling). On May 5 one had time to stop off in the Lymington area to fish for crabs.

Red-breasted Merganser: On May 4 Selsey Bill recorded 11 flying east (and 5 were seen from Sandy Point on Hayling)

Black Kite: Recent reports of Black Kites have come from Dungeness (May 2 and 6), Overton at the head of the R Test (May 5), Shipley village by the R Adur near Horsham (May 5) and the Fareham area (May 5). The last of these was seen to have tags on both wings and was almost certainly a Red Kite while the others remain sub judice (after writing this I saw a note saying that quite a few Black Kites do have wing tags attached by continental ringers so the presence of tags is no proof of identity on its own)..

Red Kite: May 5 brought a local sighting of one over Aldsworth, north of Emsworth. During the week John Clark (Hampshire county bird recorder) made an interesting comment on the status of the species in Hampshire - he is aware of more than 50 birds coming together to share a communal roost in the county during winter months.

Hen Harrier: A late male flew in off the sea to the Isle of Wight on May 4 and on that day another Hen Harrier flew south from Portland against the normal flow

Rough-legged Buzzard: One flew low over Dungeness on My 7 going west

Eagle Species: An unidentified large eagle was reported soaring over Fareham on May 5 (it was said not to be the White-tailed Sea Eagle from Andover!). At least five reported sightings of an Eagle species (at widely spaced locations across Hampshire with one sighting at Bedhampton in Havant and another at Christchurch in Dorset) have been published during the past week and while no one has been able to make a positive identification there are several suggestions that these sightings are all of the Finnish White-tailed Sea Eagle which was regularly seen in the Andover area during the past winter.

Red-footed Falcon: An adult male was seen at Sandwich Bay in Kent on May 8 and a female flew over from Sheppey to be seen at the Oare Marshes near Faversham in Kent on May 9 while May 10 brought a sighting of a 'probable' in the New Forest

Merlin: Still passing north - 2 over Dungeness on May 2 and one over the Isle of Wight on May 4

Hobby: Last week we gave a peak count of 23 in the Kent Stour valley but May 5 brought a count of 36 from the same area.

Peregrine: The four young in the Chichester cathedral nest were said on May 8 to be matched by four more in the nestbox on the Sussex Heights Tower block in Brighton

Black-winged Stilt: Two were on the Isle of Sheppey on May 3 and these both flew across the Medway to be seen at the Oare Marshes near Faversham on May 4. On May 10 one turned up at Ibsley Water near Ringwood.

Avocet: I have no idea how many are currently at Titchfield Haven but Keith Betton tells us that the peak count for April was 23 and at Rye Harbour the count on May 5 was 25 (31 there on May 1)

Grey Plover: On May 4 a flock of around 200 was in the north of Pagham Harbour and on May 6 the count at Dungeness was 143 (both were presumably birds on passage)

Lapwing: A few can be seen at two or three sites around Havant and while I have not heard any local reports of chicks I note that one birder in another county wrote that there were so few interesting birds around that he was forced to count Lapwing chicks to maintain his interest.

Temminck's Stint: The four birds which arrived on May 6 (three at Pulborough Brooks and one at Lymington) were still at both sites on May 8

Curlew Sandpiper: After one in Poole Harbour on Apr 27 a second spring bird was on the Lymington shore on May 4

Purple Sandpiper: The last of the winter birds seemed to have gone after Apr 9 but on May 6 a single appeared at Portland

Ruff: Although 22 were seen together on the Oare Marshes (north west Kent) on Jan 16 and 29 were at Rye Harbour on Feb 19-21 the great majority of the 38 reports I know of for this year have been of single birds so a report of 12 seen together at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 4 is surprising. Latest sighting have been singles at Lymington on May 4 and 5 plus three at Pulborough Brooks on May 7

Whimbrel: To judge by the daily reports of the number roosting at Rye Harbour the peak of their spring passage occurred on May 1 when the roost held 287 birds. By May 4 the count had dropped to 210 and on May 7 it was down to 85

Wood Sandpiper: The fifth report of one this spring came from Rye Harbour on May 4. Subsequently six turned up in the Kent Stour valley on May 7 and one was at Sandwich on May 8 with another at Oare Marshes (north west Kent) on May 9

Pomarine Skua: May 4 saw the peak of their spring pasage with an extraordinary day total of 75 passing Splash Point at Seaford, a peak which was not reflected at other coastal sites to the east or west of Seaford. I do not know what route these birds take but they must come north from far out in the channel when Beachy Head comes into view and then they probably climb high to pass overland to the Thames estuary. There is no evidence that I know for this but it is the only logical conclusion when reports show that they were not seen following the coast past Dorset, Hampshire & IoW, and West Sussex (highest reported count from sites east of Seaford on May 4 was 9 birds passing Selsey) and only 46 went past Dungeness (and those were maybe birds that had continued east in mid-channel and had not veered north to be seen at Seaford). This pattern of seeing large numbers at Seaford which are not seen either east of west of Seaford applies to most seabirds moving up channel and is not peculiar to a few species or odd days. One factor which could be relevant is the dedication and co-ordination of sea watchers at Splash Point (they might see more because they watch for longer and are careful to add their sightings together accurately) but I know that contenders for the Pom King trophy at Selsey are not wanting in these matters!

After writing the above for my mid-week report I find that the picture is even more confused by news from Owen Mitchell (who normally watches at Selsey but on May 7 went to Seaford). Describing his experience at Seaford he wrote .. "My phone was red hot with calls and queries from Selsey (especially Chris Janman) who forewarned me of flocks of 6, 4 and 9 Pomarine Skuas on their way. Sure enough they passed us in due course (about an hour and a half to two hours later) - but then he told me of a magic flock of 20 close in at 13.15. In short, it wasn't until 16.20 that a flock of 19 passed, followed by the single straggler two minutes later". The count at Selsey was 29 on May 7 and the counts at Seaford were 66 on May 7, 40 on May 8 and 34 on May 9

Long-tailed Skua: First report for the year is of one bird off Dungeness on May 2

Iceland Gull: A first summer bird was seen off Ovingdean (Brighton) on May 6

Little Tern: By May 5 some had started prospecting for nest sites on the shingle spit at the mouth of Pagham Harbour and on May 4 there were at least 7 birds at the Hayling Oysterbeds with at least 14 there on May 7 (but having to compete for nest space with some 200 Black-headed Gulls and one or two Common Terns, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plover). Many birds are still passing up the chance of coming to nest in Langstone Harbour and heading on east - on May 4 Selsey recorded 133 flyng east while Seaford had 28 and Dungeness 40. 66 seen at Selsey on May 6 may have been birds intending to nest at Pagham but 32 passing Seaford on May 7 were presumably going further east.

Whiskered Tern: A bird in perfect breeding plumage arrived at Radipole (Weymouth) on May 5 and was still there on May 6 before it (or another) turned up at the west end of the Solent to be seen by watchers on Hurst spit. The Dorset Bird Club website has a superb photo of this bird - see the May 6 entry at http://www.dorsetbirdclub.org.uk/Sightings.htm Subsequent news that the Radipole bird was still there on May 7 and was at the nearby Lodmoor site in May 8 (before leaving the area) so it seems that the Hurst bird was different

Black Tern: Seaford may have had the best showing of Poms on May 4 but Selsey got its own back with a record count of 74 Black Terns against Seaford's count of just 48. Hampshire birders had a fair share of these lovely birds on May 4 - counts were of 14 passing Hurst Spit, 13 off Titchfield Haven and 17 passing Stokes Bay at Gosport with 8 seen from Sandy Point on Hayling

Turtle Dove: The 31 reports of this species so far this year only account for at most 73 birds (of which 15+ were at Portland on May 3 and 11 at Portland on May 6) so there cannot be many of them in the country but luckily one or two have been heard in the east of the Stansted estate (one near Broadreed Farm on May 3 and one somewhere in the East Park on May 4).

Short-eared Owl: Some non breeding birds do remain in the south of England through the summer occasionally and one which has been in the Swineham area of Poole Harbour for some time may be intending to do so but birds turning up in the Rye area on May 9 and at Portland on May 10 were presumably passage birds

Cuckoo: Stansted Forest is also a good place to hear a Cuckoo if you have not yet done so - one was heard in the north west of the Forest on May 2 and another in the East Park on May 5 (Still no reports from Langstone or Warblington)

Swift: These are back around nest sites in many places but not in east Havant. May 4 saw 5 in Westbourne village on the R Ems and 6 in Emsworth itself, and on May 5 at least 100 flew in over Portland while a number were seen around the rooves of Chichester and one actually entered a nestbox at Cuckfield near Haywards Heath. Two did fly low over my house in Havant that day but they have not been seen again.

Bee Eater: On May 5 one was seen flying north up the Sussex Ouse towards Lewes and another was logged at Dungeness. On May 7 one was at Portland Bill and on May 8 another was in the Bere Regis area of Dorset while on May 9 a flock of 16 were seen at Beachy Head

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: These are easily overlooked unless you hear them or know where they are likely to be seen - a new place in the latter category was reported on May 4 when one at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough was seen pecking at the stems of Reedmace (aka Bulrush) around the water's edge - not somewhere I would expected them but well suited to the size of this little bird.

Short-toed Lark: One flew in to Portland on May 8 and on May 10 another turned up at Newhaven

Red-rumped Swallow: One seen at Dungeness on May 4 and another at Radipole (Weymouth) on May 6. On May 7 a party of 5 arrived at Portland Bill

House Martin: I have heard that these birds readily use artificial nests and that it is well worth putting up a cluster of them - local proof of this comes from Tony Tupper who lives near the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park here in Havant. Tony has built six artificial nests from cement and sawdust and the birds have already returned to them this year (fourth year in a row)

Blackbird: A pure white bird has been hatched somewhere in our area and has appeared on BBC South News - I hope it survives as I recall a similar bird (pure white) in a nest which could be seen from the glass walled corridor between buildings at the IBM Portmouth site. There appeared to be nothing wrong with it but when the rest of the brood left the nest it stayed behind and was later found dead on the ground below the nest - it seemed that it was afraid to go out into the world dressed in white, stayed in the nest where its parents ceased to feed it, and died of starvation

Pallas's Warbler: One spent a short time singing at Sandy Point (Hayling Island) on May 8 but has not been seen or heard again.

Spotted Flycatcher: Excluding one reported on Apr 7 (which was probably a female Pied Flycatcher) the first was reported on Apr 27 followed by singles on May 1, 2 and 4. May 5 saw the arrival of 10 at Portland and 2 near Horsham in Sussex, and May 6 saw 12 at Portland and another near Horsham. Since then there has been an arrival of 15 more at Portland on May 9

Great and Blue Tits sharing a nest: A report on May 7 of both species laying, and sharing the brooding of, eggs in a single nest in a nest box was thought to be unique by the person making the report but expert opinion is that this is not unknown in places were breeding birds outnumber the available nest sites.

Golden Oriole: One had been reported on Mar 27 in East Sussex with no more until May 4 when one was heard singing at Dungeness. On May 5 two were seen at Dungeness bringing the year total up to 4 birds (hopefully a few more will have overflown the south coast to reach East Anglia by now). On May 7 there was another report of song at Dungeness but no clear indication if this was an additional bird.

Red-backed Shrike: First report for the year is of one seen on the Dorset coast near Charmouth (west end of the Dorset coast)

Raven: John Clark has had reports of as many as 25 Ravens sharing a single winter roost somewhere in Hampshire

Tree Sparrow: One was a surprise arrival at Portland on May 8

Serin: On May 4 singles were at Selsey Bill and Dungeness, and on May 6 one flew in off the sea at Durlston

Mealy Redpoll (now called Common Redpoll): One turned up at Portland on May 5

Escapee: I hear that a huge Eagle Owl was sitting in the trees of a north Emsworth garden on May 8

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: These started to emerge at Rye Harbour on May 2 and on May 5 they were also seen at Dungeness

Four Spotted Chaser: First seen at Dungeness on May 2

Beautiful Demoiselle: Seen at Filsham reedbed west of Hastings on May 7

Red-eyed Damselfly: First out at Dungeness on May 3

Large Red Damselfly: Flying since Apr 25

Blue-tailed Damselfly: First definite report from Dungeness on May 3

Common Blue Damselfly: First at Dungeness on May 4

Azure Damselfly: First reported in the Rye area on May 7

Butterflies

25 species seen in the past week- the more significant were ...

Clouded Yellow: Another seen to fly in off the sea at Seaford on May 7 - first arrival at Portland on Apr 3

Green Hairstreak: These were out in force on the Sussex Downs by May 5 when 25 were seen north of Brighton. By May 7 they were to be seen locally on Portsdown

Brown Argus: First for the year on Afton Down (IoW) on May 4. Hampshire's first was at Magdalen Hill Down on May 7 and in Sussex 3 were seen on Levin Down on May 9

Common Blue: After the first (a single at Noar Hill on Apr 26) we had to wait until May 5 for the second (a single at Mill Hill, Shoreham) but that was followed by at least one at Durlston on May 7 when I saw two on the Thorney seawall south of Emsworth

Adonis Blue: A single at Durlston and two at Mill Hill at Shoreham (including an early female) on May 7 were firsts for the year

Duke of Burgundy: The number at Noar Hill had increased to 16 by May 7. On May 5 at least one was seen somewhere in Sussex (I think at a 'new site' for the species not far from Arundel)

Red Admiral: Migrants were arriving off the sea at Portland on May 4

Painted Lady: One at Dungeness on May 2 and more arriving off the sea at Portland on May 4 followed by one in the Sussex Ouse valley 'defending territory' on May 6 and one at Magdalen Hill Down in Hampshire on May 7

Pearl Bordered Fritillary: After the first 5 had emerged in Rewell Wood at Arundel on May 3 the count there was up to 12 on May 6 after 6 had been seen near Eastbourne on May 4. They started to be seen at Bentley Wood on the Hants/Wilts border on May 6 and by May 9 more than 25 were seen at a New Forest Inclosure

Glanville Fritillary: First seen at Ventnor (IoW) on May 3

Wall Brown: These have now been seen in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex but with a peak count of only 3 at Mill Hill (Shoreham) so far

Small Heath: Hampshire had the first at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on Apr 28 and the Isle of Wight had the next at Afton Down on May 3 since when there have been sightings at two Sussex sites

Moths

Plain Gold (0005 Micropterix calthella): First at Horsham on May 7 - normal date for this species to appear

Common Oak Purple (0006 Eriocrania subpurpurella): First at Horsham on May 4 - normally appears in April

Small Hazel Purple (0007 Eriocrania chrysolepidella): First at Horsham on May 3 - a new species for my database - normally appears in April

Longhorn moth (0150 Adela reaumurella): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 7 - normally out in May

Saltern Bent-wing (0267 Bucculatrix maritima): Another new species for me but not uncommon at coastal sites (the photo on the UK Moths website was taken by Ian Thirlwell in the Portsmouth area). A 'probable' taken in the Newhaven area on May 4. This species not normally seen until June.

Azalea Leaf Miner (0285 Caloptilia azaleella): First at Horsham on May 4 - normally first seen in May

Brown Apple Midget (0326 Phyllonorycter blancardella): Another 'new to me' leaf miner seen at Horsham on May 4 - normally out in May

Nettle Tap (0385 Anthophila fabriciana): First at Newhaven on May 6 - normally out in May

Sulphur Underwinged Tubic (0649 Esperia sulphurella): First at Rye Harbour on May 7 - day flyer normally seen in May

Viper's Bugloss Moth (0720 Ethmia bipunctella): First at Rye Harbour on May 7 - normally emerges in May

Epiblema cynosbatella (1174): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 8 - flies from May to July

Common Grey (1334 Scoparia ambigualis): First at Horsham on May 4 - flies from May to July

Phlyctaenia coronata (1378): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 8 - not normally out until June

Rush Veneer (1398 Nomophila noctuella): One at Horsham on May 3 was the first I have seen mentioned since January. This is a common migrant normally arriving between May and September but can turn up at other times

Pebble Hook-tip (1648 Drepana falcataria): First at Pulborough Brooks on May 5 - a normal time of emergence

Chinese Character (1651 Cilix glaucata): First at Horsham on May 3 - normal time for emergence of this moth which looks like a bird dropping

Peach Blossom (1652 Thyatira batis): First at Horsham on May 4 - a much prettier moth that does not normally appear until June

Oblique Striped (1718 Phibalapteryx virgata): First at Rye Harbour on May 8 - normally appears in May

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (1725 Xanthorhoe ferrugata): First at Holmsley in the New Forest on May 3 - normal time of emergence

Common Carpet (1738 Epirrhoe alternata): First on the Sussex Downs (Devils Dyke) on May 5 - normal time of emergence (and often flushed by day)

Common Marbled Carpet (1764 Chloroclysta truncata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 8 - normally emerges in May

Grey Pine Carpet (1768 Thera obeliscata): First at Horsham on May 4 - normal time of emergence

Spruce Carpet (1769 Thera britannica): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 8 - normally flies from May to July

Green Carpet (1776 Colostygia pectinataria): First at Newhaven on May 4 - a pretty moth normally out in May

The Rivulet (1802 Perizoma affinitata): First on the Glynde levels near Lewes on May 7 - flies from May to July

Currant Pug (1832 Eupithecia assimilata): Newly emerging in the Hastings area on May 6 from bred caterpillars - normal time for emergence

Common Pug (1834 Eupithecia vulgata): First at Newhaven on May 4 - normal time for emergence

White-spotted Pug (1835 Eupithecia tripunctaria): First at Dungeness on May 3 - normal time for emergence

Narrow-winged Pug (1846 Eupithecia nanata): First at Pulborough Brooks on May 5 - a little late as this normally emerges in April

Lesser Treble-bar (1868 Aplocera efformata): Two seen at Cissbury Ring north of Worthing on May 6 - flies in May and June

Small White Wave (1875 Asthena albulata): First at Horsham on May 4 - this one does not normally appear until July

Drab Looper (1878 Minoa murinata): First in Rewell Wood at Arundel on May 6 - a day flying moth normally emerging in May

Yellow-barred Brindle (1883 Acasis viretata): First at Horsham on May 3 - normal time of emergence

Scalloped Hazel (1920 Odontopera bidentata): First at Horsham on May 4 - normal time of emergence

Ringed Carpet (1939 Cleora cinctaria): First at Holmesley in the New Forest on May 3 - can emerge in April, this is I think an uncommon species and UK Moths says .. "Occurring as two distinct races, the nominate race has its headquarters in the New Forest."

Lime Hawkmoth (1979 Mimas tiliae): First at Glynde levels near Lewes on May 7 - a normal first date

Puss Moth (1995 Cerura vinula): First at Rye Harbour on May 7 - normal date

Lobster Moth (1999 Stauropus fagi): First at Horsham on May 4 - UK Moths does not give flight times

Iron Prominent (2000 Notodonta dromedarius): First at Horsham on May 4 - first brood normally out in May

Lesser Swallow Prominent (2006 Pheosia gnoma): First at Horsham on May 4 - normal date

Swallow Prominent (2007 Pheosia tremula): First at Horsham on May 4 - normal date

Chocolate-tip (2019 Clostera curtula): First at Dungeness on May 3 - usually appears first in April

Pale Tussock (2028 Calliteara pudibunda): First on house window in Rye area on May 10 (male) - flies in May and June

Orange Footman (2043 Eilema sororcula): First at Horsham on May 3 - normal date

White Ermine (2060 Spilosoma lubricipeda): First at Horsham on May 4 - normal date

Ruby Tiger (2064 Phragmatobia fuliginosa): First out at both Brighton and Horsham on May 4 - can be seen first in April

Cinnabar moth (2069 Tyria jacobaeae): First at Rye Harbour on May 7 - common day flying species

Dark Sword-grass (2091 Agrotis ipsilon): First at Portland on May 8 - a common migrant appearing at any time from March to November

Flame Shoulder (2102 Ochropleura plecta): First at Horsham on May 4 - normal date

Bright-line Brown-eye (2160 Lacanobia oleracea): One had been seen somewhere in Sussex on Feb 23 but one on May 5 was at the right time for the first of the year

Lead-coloured Drab (2185 Orthosia populeti): One had been reported at Horsham on Mar 1 but this one on May 5 was a more normal first date

Red Sword-grass (2241 Xylena vetusta): First in the New Forest at Holmesley on May 3 - this would be an adult emerging from hibernation

Angle Shades (2306 Phlogophora meticulosa): One at Horsham on May 4 was the first of the year other than one reported on Jan 29 - May is the normal time of emergence but adults can be seen in all months

The Spectacle (2450 Abrostola tripartita): First at Pulborough Brooks on May 5 - normal date

Mother Shipton (2462 Callistege mi): First of these day flying moths seen in the Adur Valley on May 6

Burnet Companion (2463 Euclidia glyphica): First of these day flying moths seen in the Adur Valley on May 4

Other Insects

Cranefly: The leatherjacket grubs which the Starlings have been taking to feed their young are now starting to emerge as adult Craneflies - I saw one of the smaller Tipula species at Warblington on May 5

Yellow Dung Flies: I also saw the first mass of these on cowpats at Warblington Farm on May 5

Common Wasp: These often make their nests underground and maybe the Queen Wasp which I saw crawling around in grass on a grave at Warblington cemetery (on May 5) was searching for an entrance to the cavities that often occur in old graves.

Hornet: First to get a mention this year were two in the Eastbourne area on May 7 shortly followed by one in the Southwick Woods north of Portsmouth on May 9

Mason Bee (Osmia bicolor): One of these was seen on May 6 in Rewell Wood west of Arundel constructing its nest. It uses an empty snail shell as the 'building' in which to house its nest but collects bits of grass to construct a 'wigwam' over the shell in order to conceal the nest.

Cockchafer (aka May Bug): First to get a mention this year is one seen on a north Emsworth house window on May 5

Cardinal Beetle: First report from Abbots Wood near Eastbourne on May 7

Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus): A large female of this species was seen at Durlston on May 4

Bloody Nosed Beetle: Not the first appearance of these but I was interested to read on the Durlston Web site (May 4) that both the standard and the Lesser Bloody Nosed Beetles could be seen there 'eating Goosegrass'.

Great Silver Water Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus): First to get a mention this year was one found in a moth trap in the Rye area on May 7

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Total species in flower for the year to date is now 300 with 263 seen by myself. Totals for May to date are 172 and 156

Small-flowered Buttercup: This seaside species was flowering at Durlston on May 4

Common Fumitory: Common Ramping Fumitory has been seen flowering since Feb 20 but the smaller Common Fumitory was first seen by me at Warblington on May 5

Dames Violet: Having recently seen this at the Hayling Oysterbeds I made a second find on May 5 in the Wade Farm field west of Pook Lane - the plants can be seen on a dump just within the corner of the field when you climb onto the upper path used to get back to Langstone at high tide

Ragged Robin: Flowering in the Emsworth area by May 7

Tree Mallow: The plants along the east side of the Slipper Mill pond at Emsworth had started to flower by May 4

Shining Cranesbill: The plants lining the twitchel path from Wade Court Road to Pook Lane in east Havant were sprayed with weedkiller by the local Council just as they were stating to flower on Apr 18 but by May 5 a few had recovered from the poison and were flowering

Small-flowered Cranesbill: Found in Emsworth on May 10

Subterranean Clover: A great show of this in flower in the short grass just inside the seawall of the Warblington SSSI marsh on May 5

Clustered Clover: One flower bud found where I discovered this species in Havant last year indicates that it will soon be flowering properly there

Sainfoin: The very first flowers were opening on Portsdown when I was there on May 6

Rose species: The first rose flowers of the year were open on May 5 here in Havant - not sure of the species but they were council planted bushes of the Burnet Rose type

Dog Rose: First flowers of the year seen on Budds Mound in Havant on May 8

Dewberry: The first of these blackberry flowers was open in Havant on May 8

Silverweed: This had started to flower on the Langstone South Moors on May 8

Wood Avens: Although I had seen one flower in my garden as early as Apr 20 (and last year's flowers could still be seen in January) general flowering started this week from May 5

American Willowherb: Just one plant had a couple fo flowers open here in Havant on May 7 - the club shaped stgma distingushing it from the four lobed stigma of the lookalike Broad-leaved Willowherb.

Common Nettle: The first were flowering in Emsworth on May 2 and flowering become general this week

Pellitory of the Wall: Flowers were out on plants that were recovering from spraying with weedkiller - seen in Havant on May 5

Tamarisk: Spring flowering had started on May 8

Dogwood: This had also started flowering on May 8

Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma): This colourful garden escape was brightening the shore of the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on May 10

Pignut: Found flowering in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on May 6

Yellow Pimpernel: Another first in Hollybank on May 6

Scarlet Pimpenel: Suddenly in full flower at Warblington on May 5

Tufted Centaury: This is a small form of Common Centaury and I am surprised that it was flowering at Durlston as early as May 6

Common Figwort: Just coming into flower at Warblington on May 5

Changing Forget-me-not: My first find of this in flower was on May 8 at Langstone South Moors

Hoary Plantain: Flowering at Durlston by May 7

Marsh Valerian: Just one plant in flower by the east stream on Warblington farm on May 10

Salsify: Flowering in north Kent on May 6 so both it and its close realtion Goatsbeard shouls now be out.

Prickly Lettuce: It may be some time before this flowers but complete flowerheads were in bud at Warblington on May 5

Cats Ear: One plant flowering in Havant on May 8

Mouse-ear Hawkweed: Flowering on Thorney Island on May 10

Solomon's Seal: Full size white flower buds (unopen) were hanging from garden escape plants in Havant on May 5

Hairy Garlic: The plant growing by the footpath along the north side of Nore Barn wood at Emsworth has never been known to flower and has never looked as if it had the energy to raise a flower stem but it had done so on May 10

Early Purple Orchids: Many years ago I recall counting around 800 flower spikes at the Hollybank Woods site north of Emsworth but since then counts have been much lower until this year when Brian Fellows found 745 there on May 6 (including one pure white flowered spike)

Lady Orchid: Orchid fanatics may like to know that Lady Orchids had just started to flower at Bonzai Bank in Denge Woods (Thanet area or east Kent) on May 8

Marsh Arrowgrass: Just starting to flower in the Warblington SSSI on May 5

Hairy Sedge: First flowers found in the Ems Valley south of Westbourne on May 4

Wood Melick and Wood Millet: Both flowering in woods near Walderton (north of Emsworth) on May 9

Large Timothy: This grass had started to flower on May 6

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: The first Fox cubs are usually seen before the end of April but the first I have heard of this year came in a second hand report when I was on the Langstone South Moors on May 8 and met a dogwalker who had seen two cubs there recently - this in response to my saying that I had just seen an adult fox crossing the 'orchid field' on the west side of which a family of cubs is to be seen in most years.

Harbour Porpoise: First report of the year comes from Portland on May 6

Hare: At Peasmarsh north of Hastings on May 7 a Hare came to within two feet of a motionless watcher and passed on without detecting his presence. Here on May 9 there was a more normal sighting of one in the Lyecommon area north of Emsworth - all that was seen of it was the two black tipped ears showing in a field of young wheat.

Adder: One seen on Oxenbourne Down south of Petersfield on May 9 was busy swallowing a mouse

Grass Snake: On May 6 the Rye Bay website has a couple of photos of a Grass Snake gradually getting its body around that of a full grown Marsh Frog. I know that Grass Snakes are not venomous and I still wonder how the Snake persuades the Frog it has just caught (probably by one of its back legs) to go head first into the Snake's mouth. As I understand it the Snake has backward pointing teeth which are very good at holding anything it catches and wants to eat, and I know that Snakes have the ability to separate their upper and lower jaws to create a capacious entrance for their food, but it seems to me that getting the prey positioned so that it's head goes into the Snake first, and then gradually swallowing prey which is still alive requires the victim's co-operation. Do Snakes have hypnotic powers? A Google search gave no answer to this but did remind me when a Grass Snake gets seriously annoyed it will bite (causing pin-pricks but doing no serious harm) and will spray a nasty smelling fluid from its rear end. I guess the answer to my question is that the Snake's prey knows when it is beaten and accepts the inevitable.

Fungi: A cluster of Common Inkcaps was found on the mound south of Budds Farm here in Havant on May 8


Summary for Apr 28 - May 4 (Week 17 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Kentish Plover, Temminck's Stint, Curlew and Wood Sandpipers are among uncommon spring waders and the first Bee Eaters have been seen in Dorset. Other rarities of the week have been Night and Purple Herons in Sussex and a Montagu's Harrier heading into Hampshire while Dorset has had its first Quail. Four Peregrine chicks hatched at Chichester cathedral and there is controversy over a most unusual report of 16 Roseate Terns seen passing Gosport.

Hairy Dragonflies have started to emerge and Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are among 21 butterfly species seen during the week (which include an isolated report of one Common Blue, a single Small Heath and the first migrant Painted Lady). Plenty of new moths include the day flying Speckled Yellow and Burnet Companion that we may all see soon

New plants seen on south Hayling include Spring Vetch and Shepherd's Cress as well as Thrift, Sea Kale and Sea Radish. Red, White and Sea Campion are in flower as is Dames Violet

Other Wildlife news is of a half drowned Water Shrew at Emsworth and a Fox seen with an Egret in its jaws at Langstone

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-necked Grebe: Regular sightings continued at Weir Wood reservoir until Apr 16 after Portland Harbour had their last regular sighting on Apr 6. One was seen passing Hastings on Apr 17 but none have been reported since then until Portland reported one passing there on May 2

Manx Shearwater: An exceptional high number in the Channel recently with an estimated 25,000 off Portland on May 1 and 6,000 on May 2. I had previously thought that the birds seen off Portland (but hardly ever appearing in reports from further east) had entered the channel from the Atlantic and were feeding off the south coast before heading to nests on the Welsh Islands and elsewhere up the west coast. To contradict this idea I see that these huge numbers seem to have been off birds heading west, while a count of 35 going west off Dungeness may indicate that a number of these birds have circumnavigated Britain and are now escaping from the North Sea via the English Channel (I think this unlikely - more likely the birds seen at Dungeness were a few that had flown east into the southern North Sea and were returning west)

Bittern: Birders in the Kent Stour valley are now regularly hearing the booming of breeding Bittern

Night Heron: An adult or second summer bird was seen in the Pevensey Levels area on Apr 29

Cattle Egret: On May 1 at least one was still at Clobb Farm in the Bucklers Hard area of the Beaulieu River and on May 2 at least one remained at each of two Dorset sites (Lodmoor at Weymouth and Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour)

Little Egret: A group of 11 seen on the east side of the top of the Fishbourne channel on Apr 29 may well have been a food gathering party from the nearby Heronry where Little Egrets have nested for several years. At Langstone the birds which appear to be nesting there for the first time seem to be happy to remain in the area round the pond (occasionally dropping down into pond edge and neighbouring fields to collect a snack to keep them going) but this may indicate that no young have yet hatched and consequently no extra food supplies are yet needed. This is of course pure conjecture and may be contradicted by the fact that a local Fox was able to catch one of these Egrets on Apr 28 (see Other Wildlife re Fox) - the capture might be the result of pure chance but could have been the fate of an inexperienced juvenile (or an adult weakened by prolonged lack of normal diet).

Purple Heron: One was seen on the afternoon of Apr 28 in a roadside pond near Arlington in the Cuckmere valley (spotted in comfort by a birder driving by). Next morning another birder, unaware of the first sighting, saw one fly overhead and apparently land at the edge of the Arlington reservoir - determined to get proof of this exciting find this second birder spent several hours struggling through what he describes as a 'mangrove swamp' around the edge of the reservoir, but to no avail. When he returned to civilisation, exhausted and frustrated by his efforts, he was not well pleased to find that the first birder had 'gazumphed' him with such an easy find on the previous day..

Spoonbill: No reports from Poole Harbour since Apr 30 when four birds were still in the Middlebere area but one was still at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 2

Mute Swan: The pair on Langstone pond had six healthy new cygnets with them on May 2 but the family could not be seen there on May 3 - almost certainly because the adult pair have learnt by experience over the years that the only way to keep their young safe from Foxes is to take them over the seawall and onto the open sea at the first high tide that allows this. None have yet hatched at Emsworth but Brian Fellows told us something that I did not know - on Apr 28 he noticed that one bird of a young adult pair there had pink feet (adult Swans normally have black feet) and Brian has found out that this anomaly is the result of a genetic disorder which causes a few cygnets to have white down and feathers instead of the normal brown colour - the white youngsters and pink footed adults are known as 'Polish' Swans

Canada Goose: Two families of 4 and 5 goslings respectively were seen at the Chichester Lakes on May 3 but the first family was reported at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Apr 27 - the birder reporting this referred to the young as 'fledged', showing a confusion that I once had over the meaning of this term. I may still have the wrong idea but while I used to think that fledged meant either that the young birds had grown adult feathers, or more simply that they had left their nest (as seems to be the meaning in this case) I now believe that most birders use the word 'fledged' to mean that young have acquired the ability to fly (which the Canada Geese will not do until July)

Brent Goose: Still being seen on passage with reports from different sites on five of the past seven days. On Apr 27 one badly off course landed on Weir Wood reservoir after flying in from the west, and later flew off east so it had the right general direction. On Apr 29 four flew east off Stokes Bay (Gosport) and on May 1 a flock of 48 (plus 1 Brant) were seen in the Medway estuary in north Kent. On May 2 ten flew east off Portland (maybe the last on passage) and on May 3 eight birds, almost certainly staying in Chichester Harbour for the summer, were in the Fishbourne channel.

Pale Bellied Brent: Four flew past Portland on Apr 28 and on May 2 one (possibly two) were in Christchurch Harbour.

Black Brant: One seen with 48 Brent in the north Kent Medway estuary on May 1

Teal: 70 were seen on or over the sea at Newhaven on May 2

Green-winged Teal: No more news of the bird at Hook scrape near Warsash after Apr 28

Garganey: A group of five male and one female were st Rye Harbour on May 2 and on May 3 singles were at the Blashford Lakes and Pulborough Brooks.

Pochard: On Apr 27 a female was on the River Test at Romsey with five ducklings - a month earlier than expected

Honey Buzzard: On May 3 one flew north east over Hannington village to the west of Basingstoke after an unconfirmed report of one over Gosport on May 2

Hen Harrier: Although it is late for them a couple of birds (female plus young male) were seen over the Downs south of Pulborough on May 2 and a smart adult male flew in off the sea over West High Down on the Isle of Wight on May 3

Montagu's Harrier: An adult male flew north through the Christchurch area and presumably on up the Avon valley on Apr 27. This was the second report of the year after one over Pagham Harbour on Apr 23.

Osprey: Still arriving - latest was seen on May 2 over Abbotsbury in Dorset

Kestrel: A pair at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex were feeding young in thier nest on Apr 27 and on May 2 one was hunting in Brook Meadow at Emsworth, probably working overtime to feed young somewhere nearby.

Merlin: Still coming north with sightings of singles t Dungeness on May 1, Selsey on May 2, and Christchurch on May 3

Hobby: Plenty of sightings of ones and twos but in May it is not unusual to see 'flocks' of them which have migrated together (but soon break up after arrival). A count of 23 in the Kent Stour valley on May 3 was probably the first such flock for the year

Peregrine: I recently expressed surprise that we have not heard more about the birds nesting on Chichester Cathedral and my only source for the information that four chicks hatched in their nest on the cathedral spire in the 24 hours from Apr 27 to 28 is the Portsmouth local paper (THE NEWS) on Apr 29. I suspect this information is correct but I am dubious about the date of June 21 when they go on to say that "From June 21 the RSPB team will be at the cathedral between 10am and 5pm to show people close-up views of the Peregrine family through a nest cam" as these chicks should have flown from the nest by June 8.

Quail: One on Beaminster Down in Dorset on Apr 30 is the third presumed migrant reported this year - a very early bird was flushed at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Mar 26, another was flushed at Durlston on the Dorset coast on Apr 17 and now this one becomes the third.

Moorhen: First report of chicks comes from the Chichester Lakes on May 3 when one adult was seen with two chicks.

Kentish Plover: First for the year was a female seen in Pagham Harbour on Apr 28

Grey Plover: We normally do not see these in their glorious silver and black breeding plumage until they return in July but one well dressed bird was seen at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 28 and another was at Rye Harbour on Apr 29

Knot: A flock of around 80 in Pagham Harbour on May 2 had several in brick red breeding plumage

Temminck's Stint: One in the Kent Stour valley on May 3 was the third reported this year after one was seen at Slimbridge on the river Severn on Feb 12 and another was at the Pett Pools on the shore of Rye Bay on Apr 25

Curlew Sandpiper: These are not normally seen on spring passage (last year only five or six were reported with the first not arriving until May 10) so one in Poole Harbour on Apr 27 was a good find.

Black-tailed Godwit: Although quite a few non-breeding birds will remain with us through the summer the departure of breeders is reflected in counts from Christchurch Harbour where 120 were present on Apr 3. 75 were still there on Apr 20, dropping to 41 on Apr 27, 20 on Apr 28 and 11 on May 2

Bar-tailed Godwit: A peak of 286 went past Dungeness on Apr 29 with 250 passing on Apr 30 - no subsequent reports

Whimbrel: Daily dawn counts of the number of passage birds leaving the Rye Harbour roost have been 150+ on Apr 27, 212 on Apr 28, 269 on Apr 29, 287 on May 1, 258 on May 2 and 210 on May 4

Wood Sandpiper: We have already heard of one being seen on the Hants/Berks borders on Apr 21 and now have two more reports of this species which is rare on spring passage. One was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Apr 27 and another was in the Kent Stour valley on May 2

Pomarine Skua: Apr 27 brought high counts of 45 at Dungeness and 22 at Seaford though counts further west were much lower (7 at Selsey and 3 t St Catherine's Point on the IoW while Portland only recorded one bird). On Apr 30 the situation was reversed with only 6 seen at Dungeness and 1 at Seaford while the Lymington area had 13 and Selsey had 8. The highest count since then has been just 8 off Portland on May 1

Little Gull: The Little Gulls reported at Budds Farm pools in Havant between Apr 16 and 22 were not mentioned again until May 2 when two first summer birds were there

Iceland Gull: These continue to figure in the news with reports on May 3 of singles at Portland, Christchurch and Gosport

Roseate Tern: Singles were seen at various coastal sites on four days this week but controversy was roused on Apr 29 by a confident report from several experienced birders at Stokes Bay (Gosport) who all believe they saw 16 different birds fly east through the Solent though watchers at nearby sites recorded one at the most. It was pointed out that no one in the past 50 years has recorded more than 6 birds on any one day and that 16 birds equals the highest total record in any spring passage season recorded in Hampshire (set in 1999 for the period May 4 to June 3).

Little Tern: These have been in the English Channel since Apr 13 (there was an isolated report of three at Weymouth on Apr 5) and as many as 74 were recorded at Selsey Bill on Apr 29 but they have been reluctant to show up at the Hayling Oysterbeds where just three were present on May 1 while a count of 15 over the RSPB Islands on Apr 30 seems to have been the highest count within Langstone Harbour up to that date.

Black Tern: These have been passing through since Apr 16 and maybe as many as 151 have been reported so far with a highest count of 19 at Dungeness on Apr 29 followed by a day total of 15 passing through the Solent on May 3. Several have flown over inland sites including the Blashford Lakes, Chichester gravel pits and Weir Wood reservoir in the north of Sussex. On Apr 29 a flock of 8 together plus one seen separately flew past Sandy Point on Hayling Island

Puffin: One at West Bay on the west Dorset coast on Apr 28 and two off Portland on Apr 29 were not unexpected but a sighting of one in the Seaford area of east Sussex on May 3 was unusual.

Turtle Dove: A count of more then 15 at Portland on May 3 may indicate that we now have an increased chance of seeing or hearing one at local sites such as Marlpit Lane near Funtington and at Nutboutne on the north shore of Chichester Harbour. A few years back we could expect to have a pair in trees just south of the Hayling Oysterbeds but they seem to have abandoned that site recently.

Cuckoo: These have been hear at the Thorney Island Great Deeps on May 1 and in Stansted Forest on May 2 but so far I have not heard of any back in the Langstone or Warblington areas.

Swift: Plenty of these now in the this country but none have yet shown up over Havant where at least one pair nested last year - maybe we will see none based here this year. Last year Emsworth seemed to have more than Havant but again none have shown up there yet.

Bee Eater: Four were in the Wimbrone Minster area of Dorset on Apr 27 and one was over Portland on Apr 28

Hoopoe: Latest reports are of singles at Lodmoor on Apr 27 and at nearby Portland on Apr 29. These are probably of the same bird which has been alternately reported at Portland and Lodmoor on seven dates since Apr 13. May 2 brought news of a different bird in the Hastings area.

House Martin: By Apr 27 five nests had been built and were ready for use in the Romsey area and at least two other reports tell of birds back at nests in Chichester and Ringmer (near Lewes). Here in Havant it might be worth seeing if any are back at the artificial nests on houses immediately south of the railway in Staunton Road which is close to Bedhampton rail station and (more importantly) to the canalised section of the Hermitage Stream. A surge of new migrants on Apr 28 (when 74 passed over Christchurch Harbour in 90 minutes) adds hope ...

Nightingale: At least two of the three or four birds which arrived back at the Marlpit Lane site near Funtington (west of Chichester) on Apr 25 were still singing there on Apr 28 when I had the bonus of a good visual sighting of one plus the accompaniment of both Blackcap and Willow Warbler song

Wheatear: With so many passing through the south coast it was a minor shock to read of one 'singing on territory' in the Seaford area near Beachy Head on May 3 and to be reminded that some still breed in Sussex. Here in Hampshire they were not uncommon as breeding birds in the New Forest when 'Birds of Hants' was written in 1992 but the last mention of breeding in a Hampshire Bird report was in 2004 when it was reported that just one nest was located in the New Forest but the outcome of the breeding attempt was unknown.

Ring Ouzel: Passage seems to have tailed off and the only report for this week in of a single female in the Seaford area of Sussex on May 2

Lesser Whitethroat: Reports of these have become regular in the past week and even I have heard one near the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 3 (Brian Fellows had his first on Thorney Island on May 1)

Garden warbler: These too have begun to arrive in force during the past week - Brian Fellows had two in Stansted Forest on May 2 and I heard one at the Hayling Oysterbeds that same day.

Wood Warbler: An eighth report of this increasingly rare migrant for this year comes from the Isle of Wight on Apr 27 where it was the first of the year for the Island. Since then at least three were heard in the New Forest on Apr 28 and one was singing at Pulborough Brooks on May 3

Spotted Flycatcher: What was probably the first of the year was on the Dorset coast at Ballard Down on Apr 27 (the bird said to have been seen in the Highclere area of north Hampshire on Apr 7 was more likely to have been a female Pied Flycatcher) More recently there was one at Portland on May 1 and another at Christchurch Harbour on May 2

Serin: The bird that stayed at Portland from Apr 27 to May 1 seems to have moved on and on May 3 singles were found on the Isle of Wight and at Gosport

Linnet: In addition to the large numbers recently arriving in this country some have been here (and been busy nesting) for some time as May 3 brings news of a female feeding a juvenile out of the nest at Beachy Head and a report of many nesting in the nearby Cuckmere Haven area that day.

Corn Bunting: On May 2 one was seen in the Seaford area and around 10 were on the Sussex Downs above Amberley

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: This species was starting to emerge at Rye Harbour on May 2

Blue-tailed Damselfly: This is the most likely species seen in the Kent Stour valley on May 3 by a birder who included a number on insect observations with his sightings of birds. His list ended with "a female White-tailed Damselfly" which I think must have been a teneral Blue-tail.

Butterflies

A total of 21 species have been reported this week

Dingy Skipper: Both this and Grizzled Skipper were seen with Green Veined Whites on Chalton Down, north of Rowlands Castle, on May 2

Common Blue: The first and so far only specimen to be reported this year was one seen at Noar Hill near Petersfield on Apr 26

Holly Blue: A general emergence of this species brought one to Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 2 and another into my Havant garden on May 3 after I had had a distant glimpse of one in Langstone on May 2

Duke of Burgundy: The first had been seen at Noar Hill on Apr 22 and the only other report so far is of four there on Apr 26

Red Admiral: The only one to be reported this week is one which emerged on May 3 from a pupa in the Sussex Ouse valley area six whole months after the egg which gave it life was laid

Painted Lady: One was seen in a Gosport garden on Jan 25 where it had previously been seen in December. No further news of that one but the first of the year, seemingly a migrant, was at Portland on Apr 27

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: Five of these were flying in Rewell Wood, west of Arundel, on May 3

Wall Brown: May 2 brought the first Hampshire sighting at Keyhaven near Lymington (they were first seen in Sussex on Apr 26 and have since been seen in Dorset)

Small Heath: First of the year was seen at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on Apr 28

Moths

Feathered Bright (0130 Incurvaria masculella): First for the year seen at Robertsbridge near Hastings on Apr 30

Mint Moth (1361 Pyrausta aurata): An early first sighting at Lower Froyle near Alton on Apr 26

Pyrausta purpuralis (1362): First was seen on Mill Hill, Shoreham on May 2

Frosted Green (1660 Polyploca ridens): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Purple Bar (1752 Cosmorhoe ocellata): First at Portland on Apr 26

The V-Pug (1858 Chloroclystis v-ata): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Early tooth-striped (1881 Trichopteryx carpinata): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Scorched carpet (1888 Ligdia adustata): First seen at Playden village near Rye on Apr 27

Brown Silver-line (1902 Petrophora chlorosata): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25. The caterpillars of this moth feed on Bracken but have little impact on it.

Speckled Yellow (1909 Pseudopanthera macularia): First of these common day flying moths seen at Ringmer near Lewes on May 3

Purple Thorn (1919 Selenia tetralunaria): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Waved Umber (1936 Menophra abruptaria): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Common Wave (1956 Cabera exanthemata): First seen at Ringmer near Lewes on May 3

Yellow Belle (1968 Aspitates ochrearia): First at Portland on Apr 26

Sallow Kitten (1997 Furcula furcula): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Light Feathered Rustic (2084 Agrotis cinerea): First at Durlston on May 2

The Nutmeg (2145 Discestra trifolii): First at Portland on Apr 26

White-point (2194 Mythimna albipuncta): First at Durlston on May 2

Knot Grass (2289 Acronicta rumicis): First seen in the Rother Woods near Rye on Apr 25

Rustic Shoulder-knot (2334 Apamea sordens): First at Portland on Apr 26

Pale Mottled Willow (2389 Caradrina clavipalpis): First at Portland on Apr 26. These can appear at any time but the majority emerge in July

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): Portland had their first migrant on Apr 26 but the first had been recorded in Kent on Apr 10

Burnet Companion (2463 Euclidia glyphica): First of these day flying moths on Bevendean Down at Brighton on May 2

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Total number of plants found flowering since Jan 1 is 269 with 236 seen by me. Equivalent totals for Apr 1 to 30 were 190 and 161

Water Horsetail: Brian Fellows discovered a substantial colony of this growing in the wet Fishbourne Meadows near Chichester when he was there on Apr 29 - the species was new to him as it is to me though it is no rarity and is described in the Hants Flora as locally frequent "in still water, bogs and swamps, both acid and basic"

Field Horsetail: John Goodspeed found Field Horsetail at the Langstone South Moors on Apr 28

Marsh Horsetail: Brian Fellows found these also on the South Moors on Apr 30

Wintercress: Flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 2

Intermediate (=Early) Wintercress: Flowering in the carpark on the Billy Trail below the East Street bridge in Havant on May 1 despite plants here having been mown recently

Sea Radish: Flowering in Eastney beach in Southsea on Apr 27

Dame's Violet: The colony at the Hayling Oysterbeds had a good show of both Violet and White flowers on May 2

Smith's Pepperwort: Several plants already flowering on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 3

Shepherd's Cress (Teesdalia nudicaulis): A small colony of plants in flower on Sinah Common on May 3

Sea Kale: Starting to flower on Eastney beach (Southsea) on Apr 27 but by May 3 very few plants were flowering on the Sinah Common shingle

Red Campion: After Brian Fellows found White Campion flowering in Stansted Forest on Apr 25 John Goodspeed found Red Campion in another part of Stansted Forest on Apr 29 and I found one plant of the pale pink hybrid form among a mass of White Campion on the Hayling Saltmarsh Lane shore on May 3

Sea Campion: This was flowering on Sinah Common on May 3

Cut-leaved Cranesbill: Just one plant flowering in Havant on May 1 - none seen since

Tree Lupin: On May 3 the wild Lupins on Sinah Common had flower buds but none were yet open

Laburnum trees were in full flower by Apr 28

Lesser Trefoil: First found on Sinah Common on May 3

Spring Vetch: These tiny imitations of Common Vetch could be found at a regular site on Sinah Common on May 3

Hairy Tare: In flower in Havant on May 1

Bird's Foot Trefoil: I had seen buds about to open on Portsdown on Apr 22 and Durlston reported this plant flowering by Apr 29 but I did not see it in flower until May 3

Kidney Vetch: Durlston also reported this in flower on Apr 29

Rowan: I saw the first (planted) tree in flower on Apr 29

Parsley Piert: A specimen collected from St Faith's churchyard in Havant on May 1 proved to have flowers when examined under a hund lens

Rue-leaved Saxifrage: Not new but I am proud to have at least 97 plants flowering the block paving of my driveway while nearly all the roadside plants in Havant have been sprayed with weed killer (a good reason for not voting Conservative as I walked to the polling station along streets lined with a mass of dead and dying plants in the interests of a 'Cleaner and more prosperous Havant' run by the Conservatives)

Common Nettle: Brian Fellows started to find flowering plants in Esmworth on May 2

Holly: I found my first flowering tree on May 1

Spindle: First flowers seen on Hayling (Sinah Common) on May 3

Sanicle: Brian Fellows found the first flowers in Stansted Forest on May 2

Wild Parsnip: A single plant was in flower at Durlston on Apr 29

Sheep Sorrel: Starting to flower on Sinah Common on May 3

Thrift (=Sea Pink): Starting to flower at Durlston on May 1 and on Hayling on May 3

Field Forget-me-not: A great mass of this was flowering on the earth mound at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 2 (and the much smaller flowers of Early Forget-me-not were still flowering at the Ferry Inn roundabout on south Hayling on May 3)

Russian Comfrey: A great display of this in flower beside Bartons Road immediately west of the Havant BUPA hospital on Apr 29 was the first that I have seen this year

Ribwort Plantain: First flowers found in Havant on Apr 29

Sea Plantain: Flowering on Eastney beach at Southsea on Apr 27

Honeysuckle: First flowers (albeit of a cultivated variety) seen in Havant on May 1

Green-winged Orchid: First flowers were reported back on Apr 9 and by May 3 the colony at Gunner Point on Hayling was at its peak with (uncounted) thousands of plants at their peak and spread over a larger area than usual.

False Fox Sedge: First found on Langstone South Moors on Apr 30

Divided Sedge: Also found at the South Moors on Apr 30

Wood Sedge: First found in Stansted forest on May 2

Brown Sedge (Carex disticha): Found in the Fishbourne Church Meadows near Chichester on Apr 29

Grey Sedge: Found in Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Apr 29

Common or Black Sedge: Found in the Fishbourne Church Meadows near Chichester on Apr 29

Soft Brome or Lop Grass: Found at Eastney in Southsea on Apr 27

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: On Apr 28 Brian Fellows took a photo of a Fox in the pony field south of Wade Court and immediately north of the Langstone Pond trees in which about a dozen pairs of Little Egrets appear to be nesting. In the jaws of the Fox was the corpse of an Egret (Brian said it appeared to be still alive and struggling before he took the photo) and my guess is that this may have been a juvenile newly out of the nest and unaware of the potential dangers awaiting it on the ground but so far we have no evidence of this.

Water Shrew: These smart little creatures have dark (almost black) hair on their upper parts contrasting with pure white on their bellies and throats. Despite their name they are not restricted to living in or near water and are in fact widely distributed throughout the country (sometimes found up mountains and in very dry areas) and are not specially adapted to aquatic life (though they do have hairs on their tails to make the tail a slightly more effective rudder but they do not have large webbed feet). If living near water, however, they regularly swim underwater in search of food which no other Shrew or Mouse species do (though other species will swim across a water surface when necessary). On Apr 30 what appears to be a Water Shrew was found and photographed in a moribund state on the bank of the River Ems at Brook Meadow - it seems that the swollen, fast running river may have been too much for the creature's swimming ability.

Water Vole: It now seems that the short stretch of the River Ems running through Brook Meadow at Emsworth probably has four breeding females operating in well separated stretches of the river and serviced when necessary by two roaming, polygamous males. In addition to the regular reports of Water Voles in Brian Fellows Wildlife Diary (to which there is a link on my Links page) Brian maintains a Water Vole page on the Brook Meadow website which you can access at http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-water-voles.html

Fungi: I have found St George's Mushrooms in two places this week but despite a lot of rain and some warm weather the only other species I have noticed this week is Panaeolina foenisecii growing in my lawn. Stefan Buckzacki calls this the Brown Hay Cap but the recent renaming of most species lists it as Brown Mottlegill.


Summary for Apr 21 - 27 (Week 16 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights of bird news are an unexpected White-billed Diver and a singing Little Bunting, both at Dungeness, and first reports of Honey Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Dotterel, Wood Sandpiper and Wood Warbler. Also unexpected were a Green-Winged Teal at Hook and a Temminck's Stint at Pett Level. Swift, Nightingale, Lesser Whitethroat and Reed Warbler became widespread during a week in which one Hampshire day-lister managed to tick 125 species

Large Red Damselflies emerged to start the Dragonfly season and Duke of Burgundy and Wall Brown both emerged to give 17 butterfly species on the wing. Lots of new moths included a Large Yellow Underwing that is not normally seen until July. Other insects newly out were the big black St Marks Flies

Among new flowers were Wild Pansy, White Campion, Common Comfrey, Lesser Sea Spurrey and Buck's Horn Plantain

Other Wildlife includes the first sighting of a Grass Snake

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-throated Diver: Twelve reports of these during the week, including a count of 7 passing Durlston on Apr 21, make the species apparently more common than the Red-throats which have only six reports.

White-billed Diver: The first sighting of the year was a real surprise at Dungeness on Apr 26 when an adult in summer plumage flew past.

Cattle Egret: At least two (probably three) were still present on Apr 26 at a farm on the west side the of the River Adur not far north of the A27 while one was still in Poole Harbour on that day. Apr 24 brought a possible sighting from the Haywards Heath area but there have been no reports of the Hampshire birds (in the Bucklers Hard area east of Lymington) since Apr 22 while the last report from Abbotsbury was on Apr 21, and the bird seen in the Udimore area at the head of Rye Bay on Apr 20 has not been reported again.

Little Egret: Whenever I have been passing the roost trees at Langstone Pond during this month there have always been some Egrets in the trees, which is unusual during the day time except at high tide, and on Apr 14 I had an email telling me of "20 Egrets behind the Millpond at Langstone, mainly in pairs. One landed on the back of another briefly. It all looked as though they were intending to breed but couldn't quite work out how to do it". On Apr 25 at midday I could see 27 birds (there were probably more hidden in the dense cover) and the tide was well out, so it seems that once again these birds are demonstrating the unpredictability of their behaviour. All I know is that many of the birds have a good show of breeding plumes.

The roost trees are within the private property of the Mill with no possibility of closer access - even with permission to enter the land I know, from past experience when I have had access, that it would be impossible to see what is really going on without disturbing the birds with a high probability that they would desert the site altogether (as they have already deserted the Wade Court trees as a result of human activity there)

Purple Heron: On Apr 20 one was seen, looking exhausted, at Sandwich Bay. It seems to have recovered from its jet lag during the day and moved on.

Brent Goose: On Apr 23 Selsey Bill recorded 122 flying east and at Dungeness that day they logged 585. Another 75 were seen at Selsey on Apr 24 and on Apr 26 there were still 15 in Southampton Water with 5 flying east past Gosport. A group of 13 were at the mouth of the Langbrook stream west of Langstone village on Apr 22 and at least 5 were in Chichester Harbour on that day - these are likely to stay for the summer though probably hiding themselve from general view (only one bird could be seen at the Langbrook stream mouth on Apr 25). I am not aware of summering birds staying at places east of Chichester in previous summers so do not know what to make of a group of 11 seen on the shore of Rye Bay on Apr 20

Pale-bellied Brent: The family group at Lymington was down to one bird on Apr 20 and that has not been seen since but on Apr 24 a total of 30 passed through the Portland area (maybe coming from somewhere on the continent).

Shelduck: On recent visits to the Budds farm pools two pairs of Shelduck were regularly seen on the water but when I visited on Apr 22 only one bird could be seen, probably an indication that the females of the two pairs were now on nests.

Green-winged Teal: One appeared on the scrape pool at Hook (Warsash) on Apr 22 and was still there on Apr 25.

Garganey: A pair was on the flood in the northern part of Titchfield Haven area on Apr 20 and were still there on Apr 24. On Apr 22 a single male was to be seen near Keyhaven and on Apr 26 a pair turned up at Radipole (Weymouth)

Eider: 21 were seen off Titchfield Haven on Apr 20.

Long-tailed Duck: A female turned up at Rye Harbour on Apr 22 and was still there on Apr 26. Apart from one bird seen at Dungeness on Apr 13 regular reports of these ceased on Mar 30

Velvet Scoter: This week has brought reports of 20 passing Selsey Bill on Apr 24 and another 10 flying east through the Solent on Apr 25

Smew: Another unseasonable bird was a redhead Smew which appeared at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Apr 21. The last previous report that I have seen was of four still at Dungeness RSPB on Mar 8

Goosander: Yet another straggler was a Goosander in the Fleet near Weymouth on Apr 21

Honey Buzzard: First report comes from the Hastings area on Apr 24

Black Kite: What is likely to have been a genuine wanderer from the continent (rather than an escapee from the London Zoo) flew north over Portland on Apr 20

Marsh Harrier: I am not sure where the many birds seen arriving on the south coast end up (i.e. how many stay in Britain and how many go on to Scandinavia) but, as with Buzzards and Red Kites, I am beginning to wonder how so many find food and habitat in our de-naturalised landscape. At least a dozen more have been reported between Apr 18 and 26 including three seen together over the Thorney Little Deeps on Apr 20 (when another two were seen to fly east past the entrance to Chichester Harbour).

Hen Harrier: Five separate reports of late birds passing north - on Apr 20 one came in over Portland, on Apr 21 one was over Rye Harbour, on Apr 22 another was seen at St Catherine's Point (IoW), and on Apr 26 one was recorded at Dungeness. A ring-tail seen hunting in the New Forest on Apr 23 was reported as Hen Harrier but might have been a Montagu's

Montagu's Harrier: A bird over Pagham Harbour on Apr 23 was reported as Montagu's

Osprey: The peak of their passage now seems to be past with only two new reports, both on Apr 20, in the Weymouth area and over the Arundel Wildfowl reserve

Merlin: A few are still arriving from the south - on Apr 20 one (maybe two) was in the Lymington area, on Apr 21 one came in at Portland, and on Apr 22 singles were at Dungeness and Ferrybridge (Weymouth). Since then one has been seen on the Dorset coast (Winspit) on Apr 24

Hobby: Although some of these will continue to arrive in late May there are plenty coming in now with reports of 19 seen between Apr 19 and 23 including one flying north over the west Hayling fields on Apr 20 when 4 arrived at Portland. By Apr 25 the rate of arrival was increasing, bringing reports of 5 together in the Test valley at Romsey and 10 in the Stour valley east of Canterbury.

Peregrine: A report of one circling the spire of Chichester Cathedral on Apr 21 reminded me that I have seen no news of them nesting there so far this year though the first egg was laid in the Sussex Heights (tower block) nest box in Brighton on Mar 18, and the pair that are presumably nesting on the Shoreham power station chimney were present at their nestbox on Mar 13

Common Crane: The bird seen at Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire on Apr 8 and 9 is unlikely to have stayed there so one seen flying north west over the area on Apr 24 was presumably different.

Stone Curlew: One dropped in on the beach at Rye Harbour on the morning of Apr 19, a month after the first of the year was seen at Dungeness. No doubt quite a few have arrived at their nest sites without being seen en route and no one is broadcasting news of them.

Dotterel: An unconfirmed report of one in the Hastings area on Apr 23

Golden Plover: Around 80 could still be seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 22

Lapwing: With their almost complete disappearance from southern farmland during the breeding season it was good to see 12 birds (probably representing 8 pairs) still present on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket on Apr 21 (but their stay here is limited by the start of construction of the new reservoir - I doubt they will be here in five years time)

Knot: Reports of 60 at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Apr 20, 50 passing Splash Point at Seaford on the same day, and more than 100 in Pagham Harbour on Apr 24, show that many of these birds are on the move (though maybe not yet leaving us)

Temminck's Stint: Other than one seen at Slimbridge in February one seen at the Pett Level Pools near Hastings on Apr 25 was the first for the year. The bird was found by Keith Hackett but was reported on the Rye Bay website by Cliff Dean who added (for those not familiar with Temminck the man) .. "Temminck was the first director of the National Natural History Museum at Leiden from 1820 until his death. His Manuel d’ornithologie, ou Tableau systematique des oiseaux qui se trouvent en Europe (1815) was the standard work on European birds for many years. He inherited a large collection of bird specimens from his father, who was treasurer of the Dutch East India Company".

Ruff: On Apr 20 two passage birds were seen on the Sidlesham Ferry pool (Pagham Harbour) and on Apr 21 a male was in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour. Since then there have been singles in the Titchfield Haven area on Apr 24 and on the Lymington shore on Apr 25.

Woodcock: When carrying out a bird survey in Ractonpark Wood on the east side of the Ems valley on Apr 26 soon after 6am Brian Fellows heard the unmistakeable 'grunting' of a Woodcock. I had always thought that Woodcock were totally silent except when roding late in the evening (and except for the noise of their wings as they take off if you approach too close to the spot where they are hiding by day).

Black-tailed Godwit: Although a good number of young, non-breeding birds will remain with us during the summer we can expect a sharp decline in numbers in the next week or so as the breeding birds make their flight to Iceland. Pete Potts (one of the Hampshire County Council rangers) and his team that will be monitoring the breeding of the birds in Iceland are already there and you can learn about their project by visiting the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/worldonthemove/reports/postcard-from-iceland/

At Christchurch Harbour the flock of Godwits, which had peaked at 120 birds on Apr 3, and still had 75 on Apr 20, was down to 30 on Apr 22, with none at all to be found there on Apr 26. In Chichester Harbour, where the birds have more chance to move around within the harbour, and where there is not the same daily coverage by birdwatchers that is possible in the more restricted area of Christchurch Harbour, the numbers I have seen for Fishbourne channel declined from 127 on Mar 25 to 95 on Apr 7, 68 on Apr 21 and 54 on Apr 23

Bar-tailed Godwit: These are now streaming up channel and on Apr 20 450 were logged passing Dungeness with many reports of smaller numbers (probably included in the 450) from other sites

Whimbrel: Their passage too is in full flood with reports from 14 sites on Apr 20 - the peak count among these was of 200+ from the Hurst area where birds enter the Solent but a count of 131 passing St Catherine's Point on the IoW that day was almost certainly of different birds. Interestingly only 56 were reported passing Dungeness and I think this is because Whimbrel, unlike the Bar-tails, do not follow the coast but head north overland when they reach places that they regard as turning points (on Apr 20 I heard and saw a small party going north high over my house in Havant). As Whimbrel tend to visit wet fields near the coast to feed up on passage their choice of where to turn north may be connected with memories of good places to feed inland en route north.

Lesser Yellowlegs: The bird which arrived at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) on Apr 18 was still there on Apr 22 but has not been reported since then.

Wood Sandpiper: This species is very uncommon in spring and, ignoring the report of a bird that turned up on the Isle of Wight on Mar 5, there is just one report of a bird seen on Apr 21 on the Hampshire/Berkshire border at Mortimer West End (a tiny hamlet north of Silchester and Basingstoke).

Common Sandpiper: Passage birds are now being seen in many places (including two on Thorney Island on Apr 20) but the wintering bird at Christchurch Harbour is still there and so one which I saw near the Broadmarsh Gravel Quay on Apr 22 may or may not have been a migrant. On Apr 24 a surge of immigrants brought 27 birds to a lake in the Sherborne area of Dorset with 5 at the Longham Lakes just north of Poole that day and on Apr 26 a group of four were new arrivals at Christchurch Harbour

Pomarine Skua: After a dozen winter reports between Jan 1 and Feb 3 there have been no more sightings until spring passage began on Apr 20 with five reports of sightings from Portland to Dungeness including one of four birds going east through the Solent, seen off Lymington, and another of a single passing St Catherine's Point. By Apr 27 there were 12 reports of passage birds including 2 seen passing Stokes Bay at Gosport on Apr 27. Birders at Selsey got their first on Apr 26

Arctic Skua: There was also a surge of these on Apr 20 with around 40 seen in the Portland area and 37 at Dungeness but the movement has continued through the week with another 35 at Dungeness on Apr 26

Great Skua: The peak count during the week was 18 at Portland on Apr 24

Little Gull: These continue to be seen in good numbers with 73 at Dungeness on Apr 20. The three birds at Budds Farm pools which arrived on Apr 16 were still there on Apr 22 when there were four inland at the Blashford Lakes. Towards the end of the week there were counts of 87 passing Seaford on Apr 24 and 44 passing Dungeness on Apr 26

Common Gull: Although these seem to have left us some time ago others are still on the move east and north with 109 seen passing Splash Point at Seaford on Apr 20

Lesser Black-back Gull: These are also now passing us - 25 went east through the Solent (with 23 Great Blackbacks) on Apr 19 and on Apr 20 127 were recorded at Christchurch Harbour.

Iceland Gull: Two Iceland Gulls were seen on Apr 20 at Portland and Newhaven with another two sightings on Apr 22 at the same two sites. Latest sightings were on Apr 24 when one was seen at Newhaven and another near a posh hotel in the Sandbanks area of Poole.

Glaucous Gull: The Shoreham Harbour bird was still there on Apr 23

Roseate Tern: After one 'possible' off Shoreham on Apr 16 there was a definite sighting of two in the Solent off Stokes Bay on Apr 20 and then another probable off Selsey on Apr 22

Common Tern: On Apr 23 the count of these reported by Dungeness was 2850

Arctic Tern: The first definite report came from Dungeness on Apr 13 and Apr 23 saw 85 at Dungeness and brought a count of 80 pausing briefly over Fleet Pond in north Hampshire (showing that a good number of these birds cut the corner by going overland to the North Sea without following the coast around Kent)

Little Tern: After an isolated sighting of three near Weymouth on Apr 5 these birds began to be seen daily in the Channel from Apr 16 but so far I have only seen one report of birds within the Solent Harbours - that was on Apr 20 when two birds were in Chichester Harbour seen from Thorney Island. The highest count so far was of 40+ off Selsey Bill on Apr 26

Black Tern: First of the year was seen at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 16 and since then there have been 19 reports along the coast as far as Dungeness, with up to three birds seen on Ivy Lake at Chichester on Apr 17 and 19. Hampshire has had one off Gosport on Apr 27 and Sussex has had the highest count so far with 7 off Seaford on Apr 24

Guillemot: More than 250 were on the Durlston cliff ledges on Apr 24 with at least two eggs seen through the webcam

Puffin: Just one seen at Durlston on Apr 26

Turtle Dove: The first was seen at Thorney Island on Apr 15 and by Apr 26 there had been seven reports, the last being of one heard at the old HMS Mercury site on the hill ridge east of Old Winchester Hill (above the Meon valley)

Short-eared Owl: No reports since Apr 22 when what may have been the last birds were seen in Dorset, the Isle of Wight and at Rye Harbour

Swift: These began to be seen more or less daily from Apr 16 and on Apr 17 more than 3 were over the Blashford Lakes and another had reached the Thames estuary area near Sheppey. Apr 20 brought sightings at Portland, Lymington and Rye Harbour and on Apr 23 the Isle of Wight had two birds as did the Ouse valley near Lewes. Apr 25 brought news of 17 in the Test valley at Romsey

Hoopoe: On Apr 20 birds arrived at Portland and Selsey and on Apr 23 the Portland bird was seen again. What was probably the same bird was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Apr 26

Wood Lark: At least one was still in the Stansted Forest area on Apr 25

Sand Martin: Apr 24 brought news of some birds checking nest holes at a sand pit between Midhurst and Cocking and on Apr 26 some 10 pairs were doing the same in the Storrington area

Red-rumped Swallow: One at Portland on Apr 20

House Martin: Still relatively few but on Apr 21 at least one pair were checking old nests above shops in the centre of Chichester.

Nightingale: At least three birds were back and singing at the Marlpit Lane area near Funtington (west of Chichester) on Apr 25 and 6 were at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 26 (when 16 were recorded at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe on the Kent Thames estuary shore)

Reed Warbler: After single birds had been heard at Peter Pond in Emsworth on Apr 4, 14 and 22, three were singing there on Apr 26 when birds were newly back at Langstone Pond (first heard on Apr 25) and at the Warblington Farm reed bed.

Icterine Warbler: One was photographed during a very brief visit to Portland Bill on Apr 24

Lesser Whitethroat: I have now seen 29 reports of these birds since the first was singing on Apr 17 in north Kent but the nearest to Havant so far was one singing at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 22. The only Hampshire report so far comes from the Lymington area on Apr 23

Garden Warbler: After an isolated arrival at Weir Wood reservoir on Apr 13 these began to be seen and heard more generally form Apr 20 but I have only seen nine reports so far with the only Hampshire record coming from the Blashford Lakes on Apr 24

Wood Warbler: Two arrived on the Isle of Wight on Apr 22 and three were at Portland on Apr 23 when singles were at Christchurch Harbour and at Arne (Poole Harbour). On Apr 25 the first Hampshire bird was at the Blashford Lakes and on Apr 26 one was heard in the New Forest during a day list 'bird race' which recorded 125 species.

Willow Warbler: Counts of birds arriving at Portland were 400 on Apr 20, 250 on Apr 21 and 600 on Apr 23.

Great Grey Shrike: A late bird was reported to be in the Ringwood area on Apr 21 but there has been no confirmation of this

Tree Sparrow: Maybe not quite extinct on the south coast - Apr 26 brought a report of a single pair at at farm near Rye Bay and another observer in that area heard a single bird flying over

Serin: After reports from Bognor on Apr 3 and Portland on Apr 9 a third bird reached the IoW on Apr 22, being seen at St Catherine's Point. Another flew over Christchurch Harbour on Apr 25 and one was at Portland on Apr 27

Linnet: Quite a few have been arriving from the south in the past week - On 22 Apr 68 were seen at St Catherine's Point (IoW), on 23 Apr 93 were recorded at Christchurch Harbour and on 25 Apr 50 were in the Hook (Warsash) area

Common (=Mealy) Redpoll: After reports of two at Christchurch Harbour in mid-Feb and one at Studland in Dorset on Apr 5 another has been trapped at Portland on Apr 20

Little Bunting: On Apr 23 a smart male was at Dungeness and was heard singing.

Corn Bunting: On Apr 26 one was singing from the fence of the MoD site at Funtington and a group of 6 were seen near Steyning (north of Worthing) while on Apr 24 one was at Westhampnett (just east of Chichester)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Large Red Damselfly: This section of Insect news gets off the ground with a very vague report among Hampshire Butterfly news of the first Damselfly. The vagueness can be forgiven when we know that the observation was made by a soldier based at Aldershot while he was on a cross country run by the Basingstoke Canal on Apr 22 - he said .. "A run between Queen's Avenue and Ash Embankment produced the butterflies listed. First Damselfly also seen (sp unknown)." It is my guess that it was a Large Red Damsel as that is normally the first to get in the news each year but I see the Blue-tailed Damsel is the next. Dan Powell's Guide to Dragonflies agrees with this and shows that only one of three more species that come out before mid-May is common - that is the Red-eyed Damselfly which is I think becoming more common (the other two are the Southern and Irish Damsels, neither of which is really likely).

Following that uncertain first report there have been three definite reports of Large Red Damsel - two from the Hastings area on Ap 25 and 26 and the third from the Eastbourne area on Apr 26

Butterflies

17 species on the wing in the past few days - highlights follow ...

Dingy Skipper: First seen at Windover Hill north of Friston Forest near Eastbourne on Apr 22 and then at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Apr 25

Grizzled Skipper: This has been out since Apr 10 but Apr 22 brought the first local sighting on Chalton Down north of Rowlands Castle

Clouded Yellow: On Apr 17 the Durlston Ranger's log had an entry reading .. "Yesterdays survey saw a Clouded Yellow" .. and I passed this on their first of the year. On Apr 23 that same log had an entry saying .. "The first Clouded Yellow butterfly of the year seen this morning - a migrant or could it be a resident?". Luckily there is no need to resolve this internal argument among the Durlston Rangers as to who saw the first since one had been reported at Portland as early as Apr 3. Apr 26 brought another 'possible only' report of 3 seen in the Rother Valley near Rye Bay

Green Hairstreak: Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester reported this species on Apr 14 and on Apr 22 with a third sighting now coming from the Downs near Eastbourne where three were seen on Apr 26

Small Copper: Apr 22 gave Sussex its first at Windover Hill north of Eastbourne but Hampshire has had three sightings since Apr 8 and Portland had one on Apr 15.

Holly Blue: I have seen 21 reports since the first at Gosport on Feb 9 (earliest ever for Hampshire) but they are not yet common (no report of more than 2 together) so a sighting of one at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 22 (following one there on Apr 10) is good local news

Duke of Burgundy: First of the year seen at Noar Hill near Petersfield on Apr 22

Large Tortoiseshell: We have already reported some very unusual sightings of this at Portland (four reports between Jan 27 and Feb 10), at Ventnor on the IoW on Feb 18, and at Lymington marshes on Mar 14. Now David Tinling of Gosport excitedly reports that when reviewing some photos taken earlier this year one taken at Gosport on Feb 10 (originally assumed to be of a Small Tortoiseshell) is now thought by him to be definitely of a Large Tortoiseshell. This tends to confirm that we have had a mini-invasion of migrant Large Tortoiseshells since five of the seven reports are in the period Feb 6 to 18 (three of them are on Feb 9 and 10) and this cluster of dates covers reports from Portland, Gosport and the Isle of Wight.

Speckled Wood: Although the first of these was seen on Mar 21 the first 20 reports up to Apr 15 were of ones and twos. Reports from Gosport of 10 seen on Apr 16 and 15 seen on Apr 20 seems to indicate the real start of their season.

Wall Brown: First seen on Apr 26 in the Cuckmere Valley near Eastbourne with another seen on the same day at Durlston in Dorset

Moths

Hawthorn Leaf Miner (0303 Parornix anglicella): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22 - A common species normally emerging in April

Poplar Leaf miner (0368 Phyllocnistis unipunctella): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22 - Probably this had overwinered after emerging in the autumn

Elachista cannapennella (0607): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22 - this name not known in UK Moths website

Elachista rufocinerea (0608): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22

Esperia sulphurella (0649): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 23 - normally does not appear until May

Grapholita jungiella (1251): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22 - normally out in April

Cydia succedana (1255): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22 - early - normally out in May

Twenty-plumed moth (1288 Alucita hexadactyla): First report comes from the Newhaven area on or just before Apr 21. This moth looks like a delicate black and white Japanese paper fan and can be found all round the year

Pyrausta nigrata (1366): This day flying moth of chalk downland is listed in the UK Moths website as flying in June and July with a second generation in the autumn so one seen at Mill Hill, Shoreham on Apr 20 was unusually early. However the photo on the UK Moths website shows the moth on a fresh Germander Speedwell flower and this is already out this year.

Red Twin-spot Carpet (1724 Xanthorhoe spadicearia): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22 - another moth that normally emerges in May

Water Carpet (1750 Lampropteryx suffumata): The first had been recorded near Eastbourne on Mar 26 but on at Dungeness on Apr 23 was new for the site

Brimstone Moth (1906 Opisthograptis luteolata): First record from the Lewes area on Apr 25 with a second find at Durlston on Apr 26 - usually out in April

Common Heath (1952 Ematurga atomaria): This day flyer first seen in Ashdown Forest on Apr 26 - normally not out until May

Pebble Prominent (2003 Eligmodonta ziczac): First in the Rother woods on Apr 25 - also normally out in May

Great Prominent (2005 Peridea anceps): First in the Rother woods on Apr 25 - normally out in April

Coxcomb Prominent (2008 Ptilodon capucina): First in the Rother woods on Apr 25 - normally flies in May

Scarce Prominent (2010 Odontosia carmelita): First in the Rother woods on Apr 25 - does fly in April

Pale Prominent (2011 Pterostoma palpina): First in the Rother woods on Apr 25 - normally out in May

Lunar Marbled Brown (2015 Drymonia ruficornis): First at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 22 - normal in April

Muslin Moth (2063 Diaphora mendica): After an early first near Worthing on Mar 30 the second of the year has been seen on Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on Apr 22

Least Black Arches (2078 Nola confusalis): First report from the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 23 - another May species

Heart and Dart (2089 Agrotis exclamationis): First at Durlston on Apr 26 - normally not out until May

Shuttle-shaped Dart (2092 Agrotis puta): First at Ringmer near Lewes on Apr 22 with another in the Thanet area on Apr 23 - also normally out in May

Large Yellow Underwing (2107 Noctua pronuba): An early find near Lewes on Apr 25 - normally not seen until July

Chamomile Shark (2214 Cucullia chamomillae): First in the Thanet area on Apr 23 - an April species

Nut-tree Tussock (2425 Colocasia coryli): First report from the Newhaven area on or just before Apr 21 - a fairly normal first date

Other Insects

St Mark's Fly: The first cluster of these large black flies was seen near sewage works at Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Apr 22 (St Mark's Day, when they traditionally emerge, is Apr 25)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Species seen in flower so far this year number 233 (211 seen by me) and the equivalent figures for April are 174 (150

Celery-leaved Buttercup: First flowers seen on Apr 26 at Warblington marsh

Hairy Buttercup: Flowering plants on the Langstone South Moors on Apr 22 were likely to be this rather than Bulbous Buttercup

Lesser Spearwort: First flower found in Warblington marsh on Apr 26

Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor): First flowers found on a section of the old Billy Line in the Langstone Mill Lane area on Apr 25

White Campion: First of the year flowering in the Stansted area on Apr 25

Lesser Sea Spurrey: A mass flowering on the sea wall at Langstone village on Apr 25 was my first for the year

Dove's Foot Cranesbill: Although I had seen an odd plant flowering at the end of March the main flowering only started this week

Bird's Foot Trefoil: One flower seen showing the 'eggs and bacon' colour on Portsdown on Apr 22 was very nearly open

Wood Avens: One plant had a flower in my garden on Apr 21 but so far no others have followed its lead

Horse Chestnut: Apr 23 brought the start of full flowering with whole 'candles' lit rather than single flowers

Wall Speedwell: The first date I have for this is Apr 22 but I had seen it earlier - by Apr 26 its flowering was widespread

Field Forget-me-not: The large flowered garden version (corresponding to Wood Forget-me-not) has been flowering since the end of March but it was not until Apr 26 that I found the smaller flowered wild Field Forget-me-not in Warblington cemetery

Common Comfrey: First flowers found in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Apr 24 by Brian Fellows

Buck's Horn Plantain: First flowers seen by the roadside in Langstone village on Apr 25

Crosswort: One very early plant was seen flowering on Mar 23 but I did not see another until Apr 22 when many were out on Portsdown (with more seen in Stansted Forest on Apr 25)

Common Ragwort: Late flowering plants were still out in February but the first fresh plants of this year did not appear until Apr 26 whe they were found in Emsworth

Beaked Hawksbeard: One plant was flowering near Havant Bus Station on Apr 21 but I have not yet seen any more

Lily of the Valley: The wild colony which I first found in Havant Thicket in 2006 is now pushing up new flowers with white buds seen on Apr 21 - as the area where they grow has recently been mown to reduce Bracken growth I have informed the Forestry Biodiversity Manager of their presence and been assured they will be taken into account when for future management.

Yellow Iris: A second lot of plants was seen in flower on Apr 26 in the ponds of the newly restored Chinese Water Garden at Wade Court in Langstone

Remote Sedge: Flowering in Racton Park Wood near Funtington on Apr 26

Lesser Pond Sedge: Flowering in Emsworth on Apr 21

Barren Brome: First flowers on this seen at Emsworth on Apr 26

OTHER WILDLIFE

Water Vole: A couple more sightings at Brook Meadow in the northern section of the river indicate the presence of at least one pair in addition to those more frequently seen voles further downstream by the sluice gate.

Grass Snake: Although Adders have been seen out of hibernation since the end of January it was not until Apr 25 that the first Grass Snake has got a mention with a young one seen in the Northiam area north of Hastings

Common Lizard: The first report of these came from the New Forest on Mar 30 when 20 Lizards were seen sunning themselves in Pignal Inclosure near Brockenhurst - no more reports that I have seen until one was spotted in the Haslar area of Gosport on Apr 21


Summary for Apr 14 - 20 (Week 15 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights of bird news are the arrival of Turtle Dove, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Black Tern (plus a possible Roseate). Whimbrel and Barwits are now passing up channel in numbers and Yellow Wagtails are at last arriving in flocks (with two Blue-headed). A Lesser Yellowlegs at Sidlesham Ferry is a good local rarity as were a White Stork at Portland and a Hooded Crow at Dungeness while the Sussex Downs have had a possible migrant Quail

Insect news is of 15 Butterfly species on the wing including the first Green Hairstreak and Grizzled Skippers plus a second migrant Clouded Yellow. The first Queen Wasp was in my garden and a White Plume Moth (should not be flying until June) was on the window of an Aldershot Fish and Chip shop.

New flowers include Wood Avens and Salad Burnet, plus Bugle, Slender Thistle and Elder. Also noted were Bird Cherry and Least Yellow Sorrel

Other Wildlife news includes the attempted murder of a Slow-worm by a Magpie

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Plenty of these still moving east up channel with a few Black-throated and Great Northern but the behaviour of one Red-throated on Apr 18 was interesting when it flew north from the sea off Selsey Bill and kept going inland as if it knew a short-cut to the north.

Black-throated Diver: One seen from Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 16 (when 5 Great Northern were still 'resident' on the sea off Selsey Bill)

Red-necked Grebe: The summer plumaged bird was still resident on the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Apr 16 and another flew east past Hastings on Apr 17

Slavonian Grebe: None reported locally but five came from somewhere to fly past Dungeness on Apr 18

Cattle Egret: No reports from the Lavant at Chichester since Apr 4, nor from Abbotsbury in Dorset since Apr 15 but on Apr 19 one was still in Poole Harbour and the id of three birds still in fields north of Worthing (near Coombes Farm) was confirmed

Purple Heron: A possible only sighting of one in flight over Cuckfield near Haywards Heath on Apr 15

White Stork: A definite sighting of one flying in from the sea at Portland on Apr 15 - it went on north but may later have realised it had overshot its destination and returned to the continent.

Spoonbill: A young bird was still in the Keyhaven area near Lymington on Apr 19 but the birds which have been in Dorset seem to have left (last report was of two in Poole Harbour on Apr 17).

Mute Swan: By Apr 14 a pair had settled to nest at Aldsworth Pond north of Emsworth

Snow Goose: On Apr 16 a pair were present at Stratfield Saye on the northern edge of Hampshire together with more than 25 Barnacle Geese, of which 2 pairs were on nests, and 5 Egyptian Geese comprising one pair with 6 goslings, another pair which had had goslings three weeks ago but now had none, and a single dead bird probably killed by a Fox.

Brent Goose: The east shore of Southampton Water offers some shelter from the recent strong and chilly east and north easterly winds and is thus still attracting Brent Geese that are not keen to battle with those winds - on Apr 19 a total of 52 were seen there when reports of passage birds along the coast have virtually ceased

Red-breasted Goose: A pair have been flying along the north Kent coast recently - not thought to be wild birds

Gadwall: The large numbers seen recently may now start to diminish as Apr 17 brought reports of departing birds from several coastal watch points (though the highest count was of only 27 passing Dungeness)

Teal: The surge of departing wildfowl on Apr 17 included 90 Teal (and 18 Pintail) passing Dungeness but on Apr 18 there were still 63 Teal (and 15 Shoveler) apparently resident on the Lymington marshes

Garganey: Eight new reports this week included a pair on Budds Farm Pools at Havant on Apr 17 and two seen briefly at the Chichester lakes on Apr 19

Shoveler: 81 flew past Dungeness on Apr 17 and four more birds (probably the same two pairs) were seen passing Lymington and Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 19

Long-tailed Duck: A single bird passing Dungeness on Apr 13 was the first reported anywhere since Mar 30

Velvet Scoter: On Apr 16 there was an impressive count of 130 passing Dungeness (with 29 seen from Selsey Bill that day) and another 21 went past Dungeness on Apr 17 with no reports anywhere since that day.

Hen Harrier: Three late birds reported - One at Woolmer Pond near Alton on Apr 13, one in the New Forest on Apr 15 and one at Ambersham Common near Midhurst on Apr 17

Merlin: Two reports of late birds in Dorset - one at Winspit near St Albans Head on Apr 17 and two grounded at Portland in the foul weather of Apr 19

Hobby: I now have reports of some 14 birds seen since the first came in at Gilkicker Point at Gosport on Apr 2. After a run of singles three came in at Portland on Apr 18

Chukar Partridge: A sighting of one on the cliff top at Beachy Head on Apr 15 sent me off to check the differences between these and the standard Red-Legged Partridge. These are different species but real ornithologists show their contempt by allocating the same Euring number to both. To identify them in the field concentrate on the throat - Red-legged has a small white area under the head bounded by a black band going horizontally across the top of the neck, with the lower side of this band becoming diffuse black streaking around the lower part of the neck and onto the top of the breast; Chukar has a much larger creamy patch continuing down the throat and around it is a narrow solid band of black making a V shape with its base at the top of the breast. This black band has a hard edge on both sides and outside it the blue grey colour, which the Red-leg has only on the lower breast, extends upwards in the Chukar to reach the back of the neck and the nape.

Quail: Two flushed at Durlston on Apr 17 were probably newly arrived migrants as may have been one flushed from the north Kent coast on Mar 26.

Pheasant: A cock bird seen in Kent on Apr 14 was pecking at something which turned out to be a Shrew which disappeared when the Pheasant tossed it in the air before catching and swallowing it whole.

Avocet: The Pett Level pools (east of Hastings) had a new site record when 50 Avocet were seen there on Apr 13

Ruff: On Apr 19 one was in the Lymington area and another at Sidlesham Ferry pool at Pagham Harbour

Snipe: One was reported as 'displaying' at Woolmer Pond near Alton on Apr 13 - I assume that the display included drumming in flight

Bar-tailed Godwit: It seems that their spring passage is now underway with 27 passing Splash Point at Seaford on Apr 16 and 66 passing on Apr 17, increasing to 123 passing Dungeness on Apr 19. Although some scorn was poured on a report of an estimated 80 going east through the Solent on Apr 15 seen distantly from Titchfield Haven there is a good chance that these were Bar-tails as reported.

Whimbrel: These are now streaming east in large numbers - on Apr 16 Dungeness reported 131, Portland reported 166 and Splash Point at Seaford reported 321; on Apr 17 the Hurst area near Lymington had 100+, Splash Point had 153, Dungeness had 162 and Christchurch Harbour reported a total of 186+. Of local interest I happened to be out in my garden in the afternoon of Apr 20 and heard Whimbrel piping high in the sky above me where four birds were heading north away from the coast.

Spotted Redshank: On Apr 19 one flew past Dungeness but several remained - one at Christchurch Harbour (with a belly now completely black), one in the Lymington Keyhaven area and five were in Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour

Lesser Yellowlegs: A smart bird appeared at the Sidlesham Ferry pool (Pagham Harbour) on Apr 18 and was still there on Apr 19. This is the first I know of on the central south coast since one was in Poole Harbour on Aug 20 and 21 last year but I read that this north American vagrant turns up in Britain in all months at the rate of around six a year. It is slightly smaller than a Redshank and has a long thin dark coloured bill and long yellow legs. When feeding it moves its head rapidly and erratically from side to side, and in flight it reveals a square white rump and legs protruding well beyond the tail

Common Sandpiper: 15 reports this week, with a peak count of 12 together at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Apr 17, shows that the migrants are now arriving

Little Gull: Counts of 79 at Dungeness and and 111 at Splash Point, both on Apr 16, are just two of many reports this week and we have seen them locally with three at Budds Farm pools from Apr 16 to 19 at least, and a similar number of different birds were seen at Farlington Marshes

Iceland Gull: One flew past St Catherine's Point (IoW) on Apr 16, and on Apr 18 singles were seen at Seaford, Poole Bay and Radipole (Weymouth)

Glaucous Gull: Just one report from Newhaven on Apr 18

Roseate Tern: Just one possible sighting off Shoreham Fort on Apr 16

Common Tern: Dungeness recorded 334 on Apr 18

Arctic Tern: Six reports this week including a total of around 16 seen at Splash Point, Seaford, on Apr 16

Little Tern: Nine new reports include two from Sandy Point on Hayling (2 there on Apr 13 and 4 seen on Apr 16). Biggest count so far is of 7 at Rye Harbour on Apr 18

Black Tern: First for the year was one at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 16. On Apr 17 two were at Ivy Lake (Chichester) and three were there on Apr 19. Meanwhile the first had reached Dugneness on Apr 18

Guillemot: On Apr 18 a webcam at Durlston Head showed that the first egg had been laid on a cliff ledge but the weather has been such that the parents seem to have given up hope of incubating it. They abandoned the egg on Apr 19 and flew off to sea leaving the gulls a small breakfast.

Turtle Dove: At least two have arrived - the first was flying north up the east side of Thorney Island on Apr 15 and another was heard singing in the Rotherfield area near Crowborough on Apr 19

Cuckoo: I now have 17 reports since the first was in the Brighton area (Hurstpierpoint) on Apr 5. The only bird close to Havant was one at Farlington Marshes on Apr 8 with another on Midhurst Common on Apr 13

Barn Owl: A report of one over Sinah Common (south west tip of Hayling Island) on Apr 8 caused me to ask around to find other sightings in that area and I hear that there were regular sightings there 'earlier in the year' (no detail but it sounds as if at least one bird is settled there)

Short-eared Owl: Three sightings on Apr 16 may be the last of the winter (one was Poole Harbour, one at Brading on the IoW, and the third at Portland)

Swift: There was an odd sighting of one over the IoW on Mar 17 and a couple more were seen on Apr 2 and 5 (at Sandwich Bay and near Rye) but the first real arrival ws probably one seen at Chilcomb near Winchester in Apr 16 followed by one at Sheppey (Kent) on Apr 17 and another over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood that day. Apr 19 brought two more singles at Rye Harbour and Lodmoor (Weymouth)

Hoopoe: One seen at Lodmoor on Apr 13 and another nearby at Portland on Apr 18 may have been the same bird. Earlier in April one was seen twice in the Ashdown Forest area near Crowborough and before that there was a long stayer on Kingsley Common near Alton from Jan 2 to 11 at least with another reported at Alresford near Winchester on Feb 8

Woodlark: Apr 13 brought reports of song from the Stansted and Liss Forest areas

Yellow Wagtail: I have now seen 35 reports of these since the first was at Dungeness on Mar 30. Until Apr 15 no reports were of more than 6 birds but on Apr 15 a flock of more than 130 was seen in the Thanet area of Kent, plus a separate report of a Blue-headed male in Kent around that date. A second 'flock' was in fields beside the Titchfield canal on Apr 19 - only 36 birds in this group but one of them was also a Blue-headed male. The only other sightings of more than 6 birds were of 10 at Portland on Apr 16 and 7+ in the Avon valley on the Dorset side of the Avon Causeway on Apr 19 when another flock of 12 was in the Longham area where the A348 road crosses the River Stour immediately north of Poole.

Nightingale: These have now been heard at eight different sites including Pulborough Brooks where more than 6 were reported as singing on Apr 17

Whinchat: First of the year arrived on Apr 16 when 2 were at Christchurch Harbour and another two were at Portland. Another was at Portland on Apr 18

Fieldfare: A flock of around 90 was on Beacon Hill by the A34 near the Hampshire/Berkshire border on Apr 16 - no reports since then

Lesser Whitethroat: Just one report so far of a single bird heard singing on Apr 17 at Reculver on the north Kent coast

Common Whitethroat: Although the first was heard near Rye on Apr 3 I have only seen 25 reports so far with none of more than four birds together. I was lucky to see and hear one briefly near Aldsworth Pond (north of Emsworth) on Apr 14 but I have not heard of any others in the immediate area around Havant until one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 19

Garden Warbler: Only three reports so far - two singles singing in Sussex on Apr 9 near Haywards Heath and Horsham and one at Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex on Apr 13 (by comparison Blackcaps are now abundant)

Willow Warbler: Christchurch Harbour had an influx of around 100 birds on Apr 13 and 200 on Apr 14 (when Portland had an additional 100). By Apr 16 the count of birds arriving at Portland was up to 500.

Carrion Crow: The large flock which seems to be resident in the Weston Shore area of the Southampton Water shore south of Southampton had 120 birds on Apr 19

Hooded Crow: Although these are common in Scotland and in parts of southern Europe they are rare in southern England and so one at Dungeness on Apr 19 was only the third I know of this year after singles in the Sheppey area of north Kent on Jan 5 and 9

Starling: When I was at Warblington Farm on Apr 18 the presence of several small groups of Starlings landing in the grass fields and then flying purposefully back to the residential area of Havant, where they probably have nests, suggested that they have already started collecting Leatherjackets from the fields to feed young in the nest.

Brambling: These seem reluctant to fly north (where snow is still falling) and on Apr 16 there were still more than 65 at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire. Apr 18 brought a report of 50+ still at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood and a Crowborough garden had 20+ on Apr 19

Linnet: These are now returning to the areas where they will nest, most of them arrving from across the English Channel - on Apr 16 some 400 arrived at Portland with another 170 coming in next day

Cirl Bunting: 10 were seen in a quick visit to Prawle Point (the southernmost tip of Devon) on Apr 12 by a birder who had been in that area to twitch a Little Crake at Exminster

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Including the four species mentioned below there have been reports of a total of 15 species on the wing this week (including Holly Blue and Small Copper)

Grizzled Skipper: I have already reported 2 seen at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Apr 10 as first of the year but I now see that one was flying at Levin Down (north of Goodwood in the Midhurst area) on that same day. Since then up to 10 have been seen at Mill Hill and two were out at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on Apr 14.

Clouded Yellow: One presumed migrant had been seen at Portland on Apr 3 and on Apr 16 another reached the Dorset coast at Durlston

Green Hairstreak: One at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on Apr 14 seems to be the undisputed first of the year.

Small Tortoiseshell: These seem to be doing well this year despite the parasitic fly Sturmia bella which has only arrived from Europe in the past few years. One place where Tortoiseshells are doing especially well seems to the Ferring Rife at Worthing (where 11 were seen on Apr 15 and 16 were counted on Apr 16) and that seems to be the result of an agreement to leave continuous banks of rough vegetation where in the past it would all have been mown flat

Caterpillars: Red Admiral caterpillars which have continued to feed through the winter in Sussex were starting to pupate on Apr 10

Moths

White-shouldered House Moth (0648 Endrosis sarcitrella): As the name implies this moth lives indoors (the larvae eating dried plant and animal debris) and this allows it to breed all round the year. Two were reported at Newhaven on Apr 13

White Plume Moth (1513 Pterophorus pentadactyla): These moths normally fly in June and July with an optional second brood in September so I do not know why one should chose to appear on the window of a Fish and Chip shop serving soldiers in Aldershot on Apr 14

Pine Beauty (2179 Panolis flammea): This pretty moth is fairly common where there are pine needles for the caterpillars to eat - adults fly in March and April so this one seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 12 was late as first of the year

The Mullein (2221 Cucullia verbasci): First report also from Thanet on Apr 14, this species flies in April and May and is fairly common in the south

Other Insects:

Bee Fly: One gave me a close view on Apr 16 when I found it hovering around my front door in the late afternoon before it settled on a sunlit rock

Queen Wasp: The first I know of out and about this year was in my garden on Apr 16

Nursery Tent Spider (Pisaura mirabilis): Two large specimens were typically resting on the sunlit leaves of low vegetation in my garden on Apr 20

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

220 species have been found in flower so far this year (200 seen by me). The same totals for April so far are 153 and 142

Adders Tongue Fern: First mentioned in the Durlston rangers log on Apr 15

Bracken: Not flowering but some leaves fully unfurled by Apr 14

Nootka Cypress: Not yet flowering but the leaf tips of trees at the south end of South Moor Lane (just inside the Budds Farm fence) were bright yellow with the buds of male flowers on Apr 15

Marsh Marigold: Now at the peak of their flowering with some 60 small clumps found on the Langstone South Moors on Apr 15 and bigger plants seen elsewhere

Shining Cranesbill: The large mass of plants lining the footpath from Wade Court Road to Pook Lane in Havant had just started to flower when they were sprayed with weedkiller by council workers - starting to wilt on Apr 18.

Least Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis exilis): Just one flower had opened by Apr 18 when I visited the only site that I know of for this plant (beside a footpath close to Southbrook Road running through the new Langstone housing).

Bird Cherry: The first flowers I have seen this year were on a tree growing where the footpath mentioned above meets the Langstone A27 round about (seen Apr 18)

Salad Burnet: Very early flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 19

Wood Avens: The very first flower I have seen was out in my Havant garden on Apr 20

Pellitory of the Wall: First flowers seen in Havant on Apr 17

Wood Speedwell: First flowers found by Brian Fellows in the Hollybank Woods north of Emsworth on Apr 14

Wall Speedwell: This was flowering in an Emsworth carpark flowerbed on Apr 16

Bugle: Two plants in flower in the marshy SSSI at Warblington Farm on Apr 18 did something to cheer up a day of miserable weather

Toothwort: This had been found in Lowtons Copse at Clanfield (north of Waterlooville) on Apr 12 but was omitted from last week's summary

Elder: The first two flowerheads had open flowers at Langstone on Apr 18

Guernsey Fleabane: This had started flowering at Warblington on Apr 18

Slender Thistle: Just one plant was in flower at Budds Farm on Apr 15 - good to see that the species is surviving as the site where it occurred in thousands for many recent years had been reclaimed and turned into a new carpark this year.

Distant Sedge: What seemed to be this species (with the female spikelets well spaced down the stem but not yet developed although the upper male flowers were out) was found in the Warlbington SSSI on Apr 18

OTHER WILDLIFE

Badger: One dead at side of Marlpit Lane on Apr 16

Common Seal: A wanderer swimming east off Stokes Bay at Gosport on Apr 19

Fallow Deer: A small bunch of 12 females and youngsters seen by day in a field east of Pitts Copse (north of Aldsworth Pond) on Apr 14

Water Vole: A report of a pair seen (possibly mating) in the R Ems at Brook Meadow on Apr 16 could show that at least 3 pairs are present there

Hare: Michael Prior, head forester at Stansted, reported sightings of 3 on plough in the East Park and 3 in the arable field between Woodberry Lane and Horsepasture Farm - both reports dated Apr 13 and the latter report co-incides with a sighting of one on Woodberry Lane on Apr 10

Slow-worm: While at my computer on Apr 16 I saw a Magpie fly down from the garden wall into long grass from which it brought out a large Slow-worm which it dropped, wriggling violently, on the concrete garden path. I was able to get down in time to drive off the Magpie and move the Slow-worm to dense cover under bushes where the Magpie could not reach it. The Slow-worm had a fleck of blood showing where the Magpie had gripped it but seemed to have escaped serious damage. This is not the first time I have had Magpies do this in the garden at this time of year.


Summary for Apr 7 - 13 (Week 14 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights of bird news are the first Greylag Goose and Great Crested Grebe chicks; first Little Tern seen in Dorset and Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher (plus local excitement with Pied Flycatcher and male Redstarts seen well at Langstone); several Hobbies and a Wood Warbler have been seen and Nightingale, Willow Tit and Tree Pipit have been heard; vagrant rarites have been Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilts, Hoopoe, Bluethroat, Red-rumped Swallow, Penduline Tit and Dark-eyed Junco; one of several migrant Cranes overshot France and landed in Hampshire while four Black Kites escaped from London Zoo.

Insect news includes the first Small Copper, Grizzled Skipper (and probably Wall Brown) on the wing and both Silver Y and Emperor Moth seen while I discovered more about Mining Bees.

The first Green-winged, Early Purple and Twayblade orchids flowered, as did Horseshoe Vetch in Dorset. Locally a strange cherry type tree is giving me trouble with its identification. Several other first flowerings included Tartarian Honeysuckle, Spring Beauty, Bur Chervil and Duke of Argyll's Teaplant, all found on Hayling. In Havant Spring Sedge has appeared on an old grave.

And in Dorset Roe Deer are turning reddish as they acquire their spring 'pelage' (or more simple their summer coat).

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: First chicks had hatched at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough by Apr 7

Red-necked Grebe: Three were still present in England on Apr 6 - singles now in summer plumage at Weir Wood, Weymouth Harbour and Buckden gravel pits in Bedfordshire. The Weir Wood bird still there on Apr 10

Slavonian Grebe: One still at the Swineham gravel pits on west shore of Poole Harbour on Apr 12 - photo on Dorest Bird Club webpage

Manx Shearwater: Now back in British waters to breed - at Portland an estimated 1000 birds were seen on Apr 11 and 500 on Apr 12 when one or two were in the Hurst area west of Lymington and two were as far east as Seaford

Cormorant: An inland tree nesting bird was on its nest in the Haywards Heath area (St George's Retreat Lake) on Apr 7

Bittern: One reported at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 9 was the first reported there since Feb 20. More interestingly one had started 'Booming' at Stodmarsh (east of Canterbury) on Apr 10

Little Bittern: One arrived at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 8 - first to be reported this year.

Cattle Egret: Where there have been two birds in the Lavant area of Chichester since Feb 14 there were four present on Apr 7. In Britain as a whole there were - at the start of this week - still a total of 33 birds (19 in Cornwall, 5 near Plymouth, 2 elsewhere in South Devon and singles in Cheshire and Gloucestershire (Slimbridge) plus the Chichester birds and one still at Abbotsbury in Dorset. By the end of the week the only reports were of one at Abbotsbury in Dorset (still there on Apr 12) and two in the Bucklers Hard area near Lymington on Apr 11 (though only one seen there on Apr 12)

Great White Egret: A 'probable' flew east over the Lewes area on Apr 11

Grey Heron: Several young are now well grown in nests at Weir Wood

Purple Heron: One present in Somerset on Apr 8

Spoonbill: The bird at Titchfield Haven has not been reported since Apr 6 and the one at Lymington was last reported on Apr 9 while Apr 10 was the last report of 3 in Poole Harbour and 1 at Lodmoor. On Apr 12 one was at Abbotsbury and another seems to have been flying around the Langstone and Pagham Harbour areas (seen going north over the Hayling Oysterbeds and also going over Pagham towards Selsey - the latter sighting reported rings on both legs).

Greylag: The first goslings were seen on Apr 6 at Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) and on Apr 7 (though probably hatched Apr 6) in the Pannel Valley (Rye Bay)

Barnacle Goose: Two were seen at the mouth of the Langbrook Stream west of Langstone village on Apr 10 - presumably the same two that were first seen at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Mar 3, then at Farlington Marshes on Mar 9 where they were present on Mar 16 and 26.

Brent: On Apr 7 there were 48 in Christchurch Harbour, 20 in the Lymington area and 12 off the Langstone South Moors. On Apr 8 a total of 230 flew past Seaford and Dungeness reported 162 flying east (probably including 87 that were seen passing Selsey). 10 were in Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Apr 9 and 24 flew past Selsey Bill on Apr 10. Latest sighting is of 69 in Southampton Water on Apr 12

Pale-bellied Brent: The family of 4 were still at Lymington on Apr 7 but have not been reported since.

Gadwall: On Apr 10 there were still 4 birds (2 pairs) at Budds Farm pools in Havant with another 2 pairs (plus a spare male) on Bedhampton Mill Pool

Teal: On Apr 7 four were still on the flood behind Langstone Pond (closely watched by a Fox sitting back on his haunches within a few yards of them) and a similar number were still on Budds Farm pools

Garganey: The 'tame' drake was still at Pagham Lagoon on Apr 8 and four more genuine wild birds were at Rye Harbour on Apr 11

Pintail: One drake was still at Bembridge (IoW) on Apr 8

Shoveler: Still seven at Budds Farm on Apr 10

Red-Crested Pochard: A very tame pair were almost coming for bread at the Farlington Deeps pool on Apr 11

Scaup: What seems to have been a genuine female was in the Alver Valley at Gosport on Apr 12

Eider: These are still trickling past on their way north. 14 went past Dungeness on Apr 8, Selsey Bill reported 3 on Apr 10 and Seaford had 6 go by on Apr 12

Velvet Scoter: On Apr 8 five flew past Selsey Bill and two were seen passing Portland while one was with the estimated 600 Common Scoter still in Rye Bay. Another flew past Portland on Apr 10

Merganser: A flock of 42 at the mouth of the Langbrook Stream (west of Langstone Bridge) were presumably passing migrants

Black Kite: The birds seen recently near Salisbury and near Aldershot were not necessarily early migrants which had overshot France as we now hear that 4 of these birds recently escaped from London Zoo and have not been re-captured.

Red Kite: Among the almost daily reports of these one was seen over north Hayling, then over Portsdown, on Apr 9

Goshawk: The number of these in southern Britain increases year by year and a young male seen over a garden in Romsey at midday on Apr 9 was probably the progeny of birds breeding in Hampshire last year. Apr 10 brought a sighting of an adult male over Stodmarsh east of Canterbury in Kent.

Osprey: These continue to appear as they pause for refreshment on their way north - on Apr 8 one was again seen eating a fish on Thorney Island and others have been seen recently at Ringwood, Southampton and Bembridge. Apr 12 brought sightings from Lepe at the mouth of Southampton Water and from Littlehampton

Merlin: These are getting scarce by now but one was seen at The Fleet in Dorset on Apr 6

Hobby: On Apr 2 the first of the year flew in off the sea at Gosport and since then one was seen going north over Horsham on Apr 4 and another came in off the sea at Selsey Bill on Apr 8. Since then there have been sightings at Southampton (Lower Test) and Shoreham on Apr 10 and at Weir Wood near Crowborough on Apr 12

Golden Pheasant: These seem to be absent from Hampshire and West Sussex nowadays so a report of a male at Arlington in the Eastbourne area on Apr 11 is a reminder of the days when they could be found at Kingley Vale, long after they had vanished from the Q E Park near Petersfield

Crane: More than 30 of these seem to be permanently resident in Britain nowadays, most of them as a resident flock in Norfolk, but at this time of year huge numbers of these birds are on passage, returning to nest in northern Europe and a few of these stray into Britain. One of these (I assume) dropped in at Woolmer Pond near Alton on the evening of Apr 8 and was still there next morning (i.e. today). In addition to this bird (and the two which were seen mating at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 4) Lee Evans tells us of "migrant COMMON CRANES over Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs), Birchmoor (Warks) and Upper Caldecotte (Beds)"

Oystercatcher: On Mar 6 we heard of one being drowned by an Oyster which had closed on the birds foot and would not let go as the tide rose on the west Hayling shore. A similar saga has recently occurred on the north Kent coast, but this time the bird was luckier as it was found by dog walkers while still alive but unable to move. The finders took it to a vet who removed the Clam (or was it a Whitstable 'native' oyster?) and released the bird where it was found.

Black-winged Stilt: Three of these arrived at The Lizard in Cornwall on Apr 6 and were still there on Apr 8

Avocet: These are now returning to breeding sites in large numbers. On Apr 11 there were 48 at Pett Level on Rye Bay and on Apr 12 the count at Rye Harbour was up to 26

Little Ringed Plover: A good number of these have already arrived in Britain (the first was at the Blashford Lakes as early as Feb 29) but a local sighting of one in the flooded pony field beside the main road on Thorney Island on Apr 8 is worth reporting

Golden Plover: Still some pausing on their way north - on Apr 12 there were 53 at Rye Harbour

Knot: Three were among a mixed flock of migrant Godwits sitting out the high tide on Apr 7 at the mouth of the Langbrook stream west of Langstone village. A bigger flock (85 birds) on the move was at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Apr 9

Little Stint: One at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Apr 9 was an unusual spring passage bird.

Purple Sandpiper: On Apr 6 Trevor Hewson watched a number of these birds flying in to form a continually growing flock on the shore off Barton on sea (west of Lymington) - by the time he left more than 30 were present and he speculated that these birds were gathering into a large flock intending to make a long distance passage flight together. If this was true it seems the birds did not depart immediately as there were still more than 20 there on Apr 9

Godwits: Black- and Bar-tailed Godwits normally keep themselves to themselves and are not often seen together so it was a surprise to find two mixed flocks on either side of Langstone village on the morning of Apr 7. To the east of the village there were at least 80 of each species, the smaller, paler Bar-tails gathered into a tight flock on dry ground while the longer legged and more colourful Black-tails continued to feed in the rising water. When I ceased watching them and head west to the South Moors shore I was surprised another mixed flock (about 15 birds of each species) on the shingle spit at the mouth of the Langbrook stream - neither species is normally seen here and the presence of three Knot in the flock was even more unusual so I concluded that this whole group of birds were unfamiliar with the area but had been travelling together and had just paused here for rest and refreshment (having to delay the refreshment until the rising tide had dropped to expose the mud). I guess the bigger flock was present for exactly the same reason.

Whimbrel: There is no doubt that their spring passage is now under way - on Apr 11 the first two migrant males to be seen in Langstone Harbour were off Farlington Marshes and on Apr 12 a flock of 10 was at Christchurch Harbour with another 2 flying past while four more were in Rye Harbour

Spotted Redshank: On Apr 7 singles were still at Christchurch Harbour and Yarmouth (IoW), and on Apr 9 two were seen on the Lymington shore

Common Sandpiper: Wintering birds have been regularly seen in both Christchurch and Poole Harbours but until Apr 6 there had been no mention of them in Portland Harbour so the arrival of 2 there may have marked the arrival of the first migrants (but it could equally have shown that wintering birds already in Britain were feeling the call of spring and moving along the coast to new areas). Another possible migrant was seen flying up the River Stour near Wimborne Minster on Apr 12

Great Skua: An increase in numbers at Portland (6 passing on Apr 11 and 9 passing on Apr 12) probably reflects their spring passage getting under way

Med Gulls: Plenty of these now around but anyone wishing to get close views of them could try what I did on Apr 7 which brought me very close to six pairs in their full breeding plumage. I was wanting to get better views of the Godwits mentioned above and so walked out on the Langstone 'wadeway' to the very edge of the rising water - here I had the sun behind me and was as close as I could get to the Godwits but while watching them the calls of Med Gulls attracted my attention to a dozen of them resting on the mud in pairs much closer to me than they would have been on the Oysterbeds lagoon island, seen from the shore there.

Iceland Gull: The Newhaven bird was seen again on Apr 12

Kumlein's Gull: This is not a separate species but just a Canadian race of Iceland Gull. One was at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire on Apr 8

Glaucous Gull: The immature bird was still in Shoreham Harbour on Apr 10

Sandwich Tern: These have been passing along the coast since the beginning of March but have not so far started to come into the Solent Harbours - a report of 2 in Emsworth Harbour on Apr 10 may show they are now doing so but the birds concerned could well be ones that have been in Chichester Harbour all winter.

Little Tern: The first and only report so far this year is of 3 seen at Ferrybridge (where you cross from Weymouth to Portland Island) on Apr 5. Last year the first was at Dungeness on Apr 12 with sightings at Lymington and Selsey on Apr 13 followed by daily sightings at many sites though I was not aware of any in Langstone Harbour until Apr 24. In 2006 one was at Lymington on Apr 5 with the comment that it was two days later than the first in 2005

Guillemot: Durlston reported more than 400 on breeding ledges there by Apr 9

Puffin: Although one had been seen at Portland on Mar 15 what seem to be the first returning breeders were three at Portland on Apr 8

Cuckoo: The first seems to have been one at Hurstpierpoint north of Brighton on Apr 5 but I hear that one was at Farlington Marshes on Apr 6. These have since been Dorset sightings at West Moors on Apr 8 and in the Purbeck area on Apr 10 followed by one at Pulborough Brooks, also on Apr 10, and another over Ampfield Woods near Romsey on Apr 12

Short-eared Owl: These are still passing through with sightings at three different Dorset sites on Apr 7, 9, and 10 (the last being at Pilsdon Pen, north of Bridpoer, which I find is the highest point in Dorset with a long distance Jubilee Trail footpath running over it as it crosses the county from south west to north east). A later bird was seen at Pagham Harbour on Apr 12.

Hoopoe: On Apr 4 one was seen in a private garden in the Crowborough area before it flew off north but was seen again on Apr 11 in the Ashdown Forest area.

Red-rumped Swallow: One was in Norfolk on or around Apr 8

House Martin: The biggest group seen together so far was of an estimated 30 birds over Ivy Lake at Chichester on Apr 10

Tree Pipit: Although some of these birds may have been here since the end of March Portland did not record its first arrival until Apr 8. Since then there have been sightings at Seaford and Weir Wood reservoir in East Sussex, and at Marley Common, just outside Haslemere but in West Sussex and in Wareham Forest in Dorset - the last two were both on Apr 12 and both birds were singing, apparently back on territory.

Meadow Pipit: These are still moving north - on Apr 12 around 50 came in off the sea at Lymington

Nightingale: The first report came from Dungeness on Apr 5 and we now have a second report of one singing at Woods Mill near Henfield in the Adur valley on Apr 10

White Spotted Bluethroat: On Apr 8 one arrived at Dungeness and another was present in Lancashire

Common Redstart: Although the first arrived in Sussex on Mar 25 and there were 7 reports from widespread sites on Apr 4 and another 7 on Apr 5 there was an exciting local sighting on the afternoon of Apr 6 of one on the shoreline hedge of the Wade Farm field between Wade and Pook Lane (immediately east of Langstone pond) - even better, there were two stunning males in the same place next morning.

Wheatear: A very early bird of the Greenland race was at Farlington Marshes on Apr 11

Ring Ouzel: After a wave of arrivals on Mar 30 the only reports have come from Christchurch Harbour (Apr 4 and 6) and Portland (Apr 8 and 9) with one briefly in a Bognor grden on Apr 12

Sedge Warbler: These were back at the Little Deeps on Thorney Island by Apr 8 (they have been seen at several other sites since Mar 26)

Reed Warbler: No further reports of the early birds which were heard singing at Emsworth and Lymington on Apr 4 - at a guess they immediately moved on north as the BTO Birdtrack map shows that Reed Warblers have by now arrived at seven locations in the Midlands. Latest news on the south coast is of one singing at Rye Harbour on Apr 8

Garden Warbler: First two reports both dated Apr 9 and both singing at Wivelsfield Green near Haywards Heath and in the Horsham area

Wood Warbler: First of the year at Horsham on Apr 9

Willow Warbler: I heard song from at least three birds at Budds Farm pools on Apr 7 but I guess many others will have heard them since Apr 8 when there was a massive arrival of 200 at Portland. (First for the year was at Selsey on Mar 16)

Spotted Flycatcher: The first report which I have heard for the year is of one near Highclere in north Hampshire (south of Newbury) on Apr 7. Previously the 'earliest ever' was Apr 8 in both Hampshire and Sussex, and as this report has not been confirmed it could possibly have been a sighting of a female Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher: The first of this year was at Christchuch Harbour on Apr 1 and at least six birds are known to have arrived by now - one of them was a male which showed well on the shoreline hedge of Wade Farm just east of Langstone Pond on the afternoon of Apr 6 and still there early on Apr 7. By chance Richard Ford was visiting the area and has captured a picture of it which you can see at http://www.digitalwildlife.co.uk/birds/piedfly.htm

Willow Tit: One was singing in the Test valley north of Mottisfont on Apr 11 - the first to be heard in Hampshire this year

Penduline Tit: In his Apr 8 round up Lee Evans told us of 2 males in Suffolk

Great Grey Shrike: A late bird was seen at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 8 and another was in the New Forest ar Vereley Hill near Burley on Apr 9

Serin: After one in a Bognor garden on Apr 3 a second for the year was at Portland on Apr 9

Greenfinch: One was seen feeding young in a Worthing garden as early as Mar 17 and we now have a second report of young being fed on Apr 8

Dark-eyed Junco (also apparently now known in American English as a Slate Colored Junco): One has been showing well at Dungeness all day on Apr 7 and again on Apr 8. This species is the American equivalent of our Snow Buntings - breeding in the far north of north America and occasionally venturing south in the winter but rarely turning up on our side of the Atlantic. The first for Britain was also seen at Dungeness on 26 May 1960 (a bit late for a winter bird!)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Red-veined Darter: No, not yet on the wing but I was interested to see an entry by Sam Smith from Rye Harbour on the Rye Bay website telling how he had recently acquired a book on the identification of dragonflies from the exuviae left when they emerge from the larval state. Using this to check exuviae he had collected last summer he had been able to prove that Red-veined Darters seen at Rye Harbour had bred there and were not just visiting migrants

Large Red Damselfly: Again no reports so far this year but two teneral specimens were on the wing by Apr 7 last year when they started to emerge generally from Apr 18

Butterflies

Grizzled Skipper: First two of the year seen at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 10. Looking at the Hampshire dates this is a few days earlier than in the last two years but not as early as 2003 (Apr 5) or 2002 (Apr 8)

Green-veined White: One was photographed at Portland on Apr 1 but the only other report so far is of one in the Gosport area on Apr 9

Small Copper: First for the year were 2 seen at Browndown, west of Gosport, on Apr 8 with another in the Gosport area next day

Holly Blue: Of the 13 reports so far this year the 12th came from Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Apr 10

Peacock: This species is thriving this year and a late report from Gosport says that more than 50 were seen there on Apr 4 (which is the same day on which more than 40 were seen around Pagham Harbour with 23 seen near Rye on the previous day). A more recent surge of sightings came from a wood in the Eastbourne area on Apr 9 when 29 were counted.

Wall Brown: These are normally not seen until May but there was a Hampshire record of one out on Apr 7 in 2002 so a possible sighting of one at Friston Forest near Eastbourne on Apr 9 this year may indicate an early emergence of the few which are left on the south coast.

Moths

Phyllonorycter messaniella (0321): A moth of this species emerged on Apr 7 from a leaf mine taken from a Holm Oak in the Thanet area of Kent

Pale Flat-body (0700 Agonopterix pallorella): This is an uncommon species which I have not seen reported in previous years but one was found at Mill Hill, Shoreham on Apr 5. The new English name makes it sound drab but the photo on the UK Moths website shows the whole upper wing surface to be a delightful pale peach pink colour offset with a few tiny black dots. This nationally rare species will have emerged last year in August or September and then overwintered as an adult.

Grapholita internana (1242): One of these Gorse specialist Tortrix moths was found in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 4 and turned out to be the first recorded in Kent since 1954

Emperor Moth (1643 Saturnia pavonia): Two of these spectacular moths were seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 11 - these were males which hunt by day for females (which only fly by night but give off pheremones to attract males into their hiding places)

Barred Tooth-striped (1880 Trichopteryx polycommata): This was a normal first for the year (this nationally rare species flies in March and April) found at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 5

Siver Y (2441): An early migrant (the first I know of for this year) was in a trap in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 10

Other Insects

Yellow Meadow Ant: The first to be reported this year was seen at Durlston on Apr 10. It was emerging from the nest tunnel of a mining bee where it had been enjoying a breakfast of bee egg or food intended for the bee larva

Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes): This species came to my attention via a piece about it written by Brian Banks on the Rye Bay website after he had found the bees on Apr 6 on his garden lawn at Northiam, north of Hastings. This is a very common mining bee found in the short grass of lawns - The Garden Safari website reports a single colony of some 40,000 bees and where these large congregations occur gardeners naturally wish the bees would go elsewhere and not dig up their 'hallowed turf'. The species is said to be flourishing and extending its range northwards. There are around ten common Andrena species, all similar in size to Honey Bees but mostly blackish in colour, one exception being the Tawny Mining-bee (A. fulva) in which the female is covered in bright orange hairs.

Brian Banks adds to my knowledge with the following comment .. "These bees are the host of a number of other species. The Dark-edged, or Common Bee-fly Bombylius major and the Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor are frequently photographed on this website in earlier posts. Both have been sighted in our garden this weekend. These attractive insects hover over bare soil flicking their eggs over the ground in the hope that some will find their way into the nests of the mining bee. On hatching the larvae search for and then devour the solitary bee larvae. These are not the only enemies of the solitary bees. A rather attractive cleptoparasitic Cuckoo bee Nomada fucata also deposits its eggs in their nests where they feed on the pollen provisioned by the solitary bee".

Fabricius' Nomad Bee (Nomada fabriciana): This is another predator on the contents of mining bee nests

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The number of species seen in flower so far this year is 210 with 189 on my personal list. The figures for April so far are 134 with 123 seen by me

Field Horsetail: First find of the fertile cones of this species was made by Brian Fellows at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 8

Male Fern: Fronds were starting to unfurl in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 8

Hybrid Larch: Large trees with larger cones than those described for either European or Japanese Larch were already green with new leaves in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 8

Creeping Buttercup: This was found in flower during Jan and Feb but I have not recorded it in flower since Mar 1 until Apr 9

Stream Water Crowfoot: I had seen a couple of flower buds in the outflow from the Bedhampton springs (water works) on Mar 27 and by Apr 7 there was a fair show of flowers in the Langbrook Stream.

Early Wintercress (Barbarea intermedia): Ignoring the odd single plant seen in Havant since Feb 27 flowering on a last year's plant stem my first of the year was found on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Apr 12

Cuckoo Flower: The first of the year for the Brook Meadow site in Emsworth, a single plant, was found on Apr 8

Field pennycress: A single fresh plant in flower at Broadmarsh in Havant on Apr 10

Hoary Cress: Many plants in flower by Apr 10

Spring beauty (Claytonia perfoliata): This had just started to flower on the Sinah Common shores when I was there on Apr 12

Red Clover: A couple of flowering plants which had narrowly escaped road verge mowing on Hayling were the first I have recorded this year

Horseshoe Vetch: This was already starting to flower at Durlston on Apr 9

Wild Cherry: Trees in the Hollybank Woods were in full flower on Apr 8

Dwarf cherry (Prunus cerasus) or some sort of Wild Plum??: When visiting the extreme south east corner of the Hollybank Woods (the south slope of Longcopse Hill) in the early spring over a period of years I have been puzzled about the identity of some very small and unimposing trees which have clusters of white blossom at this time of year.

These trees stand no more than three metres high, most of which is taken up by a thin, dark-barked, trunk with a circumference of 7 or 8 cm, supporting a diffuse umbrella-shaped (semi-weeping) crown of very thin branches that would be termed twigs on a larger tree. The branches are also dark-grey to black in colour with a few clusters of flowers and leaves at their tips.

The flowers occur singly or in clusters of two, and have green pedicels 5mm long supporting a large cup-shaped hypanthium on the base of which the ovary is visible with a single style arising from it. A variable number of stamens (I counted from 9 to 15) arise from the rim of the cup and on the outside, below the rim, are a variable number (5 to 7) of what I assume to be calyx lobes. The petals, which fall easily and were mostly absent, seem to be consistently 5 in number and are 7mm long giving a flower width of 15 mm.

Around the base of each flower pedicel the twigs are minutely pubescent and there are some very small (<1mm) red-brown bud scales. These bud scales suggest the species must be a Plum but the shape of the hypanthium suggests Prunus cerasus (Dwarf or Morello Cherry).

The final evidence which I have is in the leaves - in the specimen I collected the flowers are spaced out on spurs along the last 3 cm of a twig with a single cluster of (in this case 5) leaves emerging (at the same time as the flowers) from the tip of the twig only. The leaves will no doubt grow somewhat larger but currently measure 25mm long by 7mm wide with 'sharp' (acuminate to aristate) forward pointing teeth along each serrate edge. Hopefully someone will eventually point me to the true identity of these trees but at the moment they remain a mystery - at least they are not the Alder Buckthorn which was my first guess years ago.

Crab Apple: This was starting to flower in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 8 as it had been in Havant Thicket area on Apr 3

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: Walking round Havant today (Apr 9) I found grass cutters had been let loose by the local council and had shorn much of the grass in which I have been watching flowers develop - just one flower of the Juniper Square Strawberry patch had survived (and the patch will no doubt benefit from having its competition removed as most of the leaves and runners have survived unscathed). Two other areas in which mowers had been at work had removed the early Ox-eye Daisies from the bank by the Langstone roundabout just as they were about to start flowering, and had cut down the newly grown spikes of Early Wintercress in the Town End House carpark near the Arts Centre, which had just shot up in the past week. The mowers working in Juniper Square had parked their lorry (used for transporting the mowing machines) in a cul de sac where the road edge was lined with Pigweed (Amaranth) plants last year - these plants probably dropped off the equivalent lorry last year so I cannot complain too much but the roadside along the frontage of the abandoned Texaco garage in Park Road south (where lots of Winter Heliotrope and other weeds have flowered unseasonally in recent years) has been apparently lost to nature in the complete demolition of the site since last week.

Rue-leaved Saxifrage: In recent past years thousands of these delightful little plants have flowered in Havant around the Pallant carpark close to Beechworth and Fairfield Roads. The plants centre of origin seemed to be the lime mortar in the old brick wall at the west of this carpark but in the past few months this wall (starting to fall of its own accord) has had its top removed and rebuilt so the plants are having to survive elsewhere where they are more exposed to death by order of the Borough Council at the hands of road cleaners. Some have reached the block paving in my garden driveway and others cower at the foot of new ornamental metal posts put up at pavement edges where there is a danger of vehicles driving on the pavements to avoid obstructions on the narrow roads. Today my count of the surviving plants reached a year peak of 30!

Red Currant: First flowers on this in Hollybank Woods on Apr 8

Field Maple: This started flowering on Apr 7

Basford Willows: The very long bright yellow catkins on these hybrid trees planted by the River Ems at Brook Meadow in Emsworth are now on show.

Bur Chervil: This had just started flowering in the sandy soil of south Hayling when I was there on Apr 12

Thrift (Sea Pink): Very nearly, but not quite, flowering on south Hayling on Apr 12

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant: This did have its first flowers open when I was on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Apr 12

Germander Speedwell: First flowers found in Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Apr 11

Yellow Archangel: The first genuine woodland flowers seen in Lowton's Copse at Clanfield on Apr 12

Rib-wort Plantain: First found flowering on Sinah Common on Apr 12

Wayfaring Tree: My first sight of one in flower came at Marlpit Lane near Funtington on Apr 8

Tartarian Honeysuckle: A hedge of this has been established on south Hayling for many years at the junction of Ferry Road and the road serving the Sinah Common gunsite and gravel pit. This was a mass of pink buds and flowers on Apr 12

Woodruff: This ancient woodland spring flower first seen in Lowton's Copse at Clanfield on Apr 12

Yellow Flag: Just one flower was out on the Iris plants in the 'Dolphin Pool' beside Park Road South in Apr 7 but it had faded by Apr 9

Italian Lords and Ladies: The common Arum now has spathes open in many places but on Apr 9 I saw my first example of an unopen spathe on the large garden version of the Arum.

Twayblade Orchid: One was starting to flower in Lowtons Copse on Apr 12

Early Purple Orchid: One plant had all its (few) flowers open in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 8. A second plant there had the lower flowers at right angles to the stem but non yet open and a third spike was merely starting to show colour on the lower flower still firmly pressed against the flower spike stem. Another plant was flowering in Blagdon Copse at Clanfield on Apr 12

Green-winged Orchid: This had started to flower at the Gunner Point (south Hayling) site and in the garden of Redlands House (north Emsworth) by Apr 9 and I found 23 spikes, many with all flowers open, when I was at Gunner Point on Apr 12

Spring Sedge: A surprising find on just one old grave in the Havant Eastern Road cemeteryon Apr 11 was a mass of Spring Sedge with the upper male spikelets already flowering

Sweet Vernal Grass: This also was flowering in the cemetery on Apr 11

OTHER WILDLIFE

Roe: One at Durlston was showing its reddish spring coat (or pelage) by Apr 7


Summary for Mar 31 - Apr 6 (Week 13 of 2008)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights of bird news are an early Black Kite over Aldershot on Apr 1; a Hobby seen at Gosport on Apr 2 seems to have been the first to reach Britain; a Corncrake was heard in Dorset near Bridport on Mar 31; two Common Cranes at Pulborough on Apr 3 and 4 proved they were a pair by mating; two Swifts flew over Sandwich in Kent on Apr 2 and one near Rye on Apr 5; first Nightingale was at Dungeness on Apr 5; first Ring Ouzels arrived at several sites on Mar 30 with the first Yellow Wagtail; first Grasshopper Warbler was at Seaford on Apr 5; first Reed Warblers were singing at Emsworth and Lymington on Apr 4; first Common Whitethroat was near Rye on Apr 2; first Pied Flycatcher was at Christchurch on Apr 1 and one was seen locally at Langstone on Apr 6 in company with a male Common Redstart; other firsts in the news are Serin and Common (was Mealy) Redpoll

Insect highlights were the first Clouded Yellow at Portland on Apr 3; first Green-veined White and Orange Tip seen this week; 12 new moth species include a very early migrant Diamond-back, and early residents were Small Waved Umber and Oak Tree Pug; other interesting species were the False Widow Spider and Black Millipede plus Gwynne's Mining Bee

Flower news is of Early Gentian and Early Spider Orchid flowering at Durlston as was Common and Chalk Milkwort; locally Crab Apple, Horse Chestnut, Wild Garlic and Cuckoo Flower were out and the fertile cones of Great Horsetail were seen

Among Other Wildlife 14 Common Seals was a good count on Thorney Island and elsewhere Hedgehog, Slow-worm and Brown Long-eared Bat were seen

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Manx Shearwater: These have become a regular sight off Portland since Mar 28 and 60 were seen there on Mar 31. 10 were seen (with 57 Fulmars) from St Catherine's Point (IoW) on Mar 29 and one went past Selsey Bill on Mar 30

Balearic Shearwater: One was off Portland on Mar 30 to become the third March sighting there (prior to 2008 March was the only month with no sightings of this species at the Bill)

Cattle Egret: None have been reported in Dorset since Mar 30 but two were still in the area near Bucklers Hard (east of Lymington) on Apr 3

Little Egret: Local numbers normally diminish at this time of year as Egrets return to their breeding sites (many of them, I think, returning to the continent) but maybe this year things will be different. My only reason for thinking this is that on Apr 2 one was seen arriving from the continent at Dungeness while on Apr 6 there appeared to be 25 or more high tide roosting in the Southmere field at Langstone village as I drove past and on Apr 4 at least 4 were in the trees above Langstone pond during high tide.

Spoonbill: More than a dozen of these have been in Dorset in January, February and March but the only reports from that county this month have been of a single bird in Poole Harbour on Apr 1 and two birds flying east over Christchurch Harbour to leave the county on Apr 5. Another new bird, which may have come from Dorset, was at Titchfield Haven on Apr 2 and 3

Mute Swan: In addition to the local birds already known to be nesting at Budds Farm, Langstone Mill and Peter Pond in Emsworth, this week has brought news of further pairs - one pair with a nest at Emsworth Marina, another pair seen together on Brick-kiln Pond at Stansted and likely to nest in the old 'boating lake' upstream of that pond, and the pair that normally nest in full view at the Thorney Little Deeps may have chosen a new site hidden in the reeds there as only one of the birds could be seen on the open water on Apr 2

White-front Goose: The single 'albifrons' bird which was seen at Farlington Marshes on Mar 1 and 2, and which has been at Titchfield Haven since Mar 14, is reported to have spent the intervening time on the IBM Lake at Portsmouth

Brent: The majority have now left but the past few days have brought several reports - on Mar 30 there were 125 in Southampton Water and 598 flew past Seaford; on Apr 1 there were at least 70 still around off Langstone village and Christchurch Harbour had 185. Reports since then include 94 on the Langstone South Moors shore on Apr 3 and on Apr 5 Selsey Bill watchers saw 35 flying east while 26 remained in Newtown Harbour (IoW)

Pale-bellied Brent: The family of four were still on the Lymington shore on Mar 31

Wigeon : Around 100 were still at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 3 with 135 Teal, 40 Shoveler and 4 Pintail

Teal: Another 172 (and 62 Shoveler) were in the Lymington area on Apr 4

Garganey: One flew east off Selsey Bill on Apr 4 and on Apr 5 there was a drake at the Lewes Brooks and 3 birds were at Rye Harbour

Scaup: Three seen at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Mar 30 and a single female was on the west Solent off the Beaulieu River on Apr 3

Eider: A peak of 86 birds is said to have been off Titchfield Haven during March

Long-tailed Duck: One was still on the Lymington shore on Mar 30 although all other wintering birds seem to have left

Surf Scoter: One still off Ovingdean (Brighton) on Apr 2

Velvet Scoter: On Mar 31 two were still in Rye Bay and five flew past Selsey Bill. Latest news is of three passing Portland on Apr 5

Black Kite: After the reported sighting in Wiltshire on Mar 28 one flew low north over Bourley Hill in the Aldershot area on Apr 1 leaving John Eyre in no doubt of its identity. This was almost certainly a visitor from the continent and maybe supports my feeling that quite a few of the Red Kites seen near the south coast recently are new arrivals.

Hen Harrier: An interesting report of one flying over the Stansted East Park on Mar 31 comes from Michael Prior who watched a local Peregrine attack it before the Peregrine went back to its perch in a Sweet Chestnut tree. Latest reports are of a ringtail over the Downs at Amberley and of a male flying west over Harting Down, both on Apr 4

Buzzard: An indication of the increasing number of these in our local Havant area come from sightings this week around a nest site in the Langstone area on Apr 5, and of pairs soaring and displaying in both the Leigh Park and Funtington areas on Apr 3

Osprey: The first to arrive at Thorney Island this spring was seen there on Mar 29 eating a fish before being disturbed by a passing jogger - it seems that did not prevent the Osprey coming back to the same perch with another fish on Mar 30. Other Ospreys have been seen in the last few days at Pagham Harbour, Poole Harbour, Christchurch Harbour, Lower Test Marshes at Southampton and Newtown Harbour (IoW) with inland sightings near Midhurst and Faccombe north east of Andover. Latest report is of one over Hastings on Apr 4.

Merlin: Three sightings on Mar 30 at Chilling near Warsash, Chanctonbury Ring north of Worthing and at Dungeness. They were still arriving from the south at Portland on Apr 3 and at Dungeness on Apr 5

Hobby: Although one was rumoured to have been seen in Suffolk during February the first genuine arrival that I know of was seen by Peter Raby arriving at Gilkicker Point (Gosport) on Apr 2 with the only other report so far being of a bird going north over Horsham on Apr 4

Corncrake: One reported to have been heard near a Dorset nature reserve in the Bridport area on Mar 31. Hopefully it was uninjured, unlike one found on Hayling in the 1990s after it had flown into overhead wires and dropped down dead in a cabbage patch

Coot: The nest on a raft at the Slipper Mill Pond in Emsworth which had 3 new hatched chicks on Mar 29 had a fourth chick showing on Apr 4

Common Crane: Two birds were seen at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 3 and 4 (seen mating on Apr 4) and wre probably the same two that were there on Mar 18 and 19.

Avocet: 18 were present at Titchfield Haven sometime during March and 11 were at Rye Harbour on Apr 4

Golden Plover: A flock of around 50 were seen in the Titchfield area on Apr 1, half of them in summer plumage, and 240 were roosting at Rye Harbour on Apr 4

Knot: 24 were still to be seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 4

Black-tailed Godwit: Christchurch Harbour had 95 on Mar 31 and on Apr 1 the count seen to the east from Langstone Bridge was around 120. Since then there have been reports of around 90 in Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Apr 5 with 63 at Christchurch Harbour that day.

Whimbrel: After an early burst of birds passing through in the first half of March there has been a lull until Mar 30 when one arrived on Portland Bill. Since then there have been reports of 2 at Durlston on Apr 2, 3 at Lymington on Apr 4, 1 at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 5 when Durlston had 3

Spotted Redshank: Since Apr 1 there have been up to five still in Poole Harbour and singles at Christchurch Harbour and at Yarmouth (IoW)

Med Gull: No recent news from Langstone Harbour but Titchfield Haven had approaching 200 on Apr 2 and Rye Harbour had 113 on Apr 4.

Little Gull: 12 were seen at Dungeness on Mar 30 and on Mar 31 there were 2 at Ivy Lake (Chichester) with one there on Apr 1 and another at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood. One was still at Chichester on Apr 3

Iceland Gull: Sightings reported at Dungeness, Newhaven and Portland in the past few days but there have been no reports from anywhere since Mar 31

Glaucous Gull: The Shoreham Harbour bird was still around on Mar 31, maybe after moving along the coast to Newhaven on Mar 30, and another has been at Dungeness. The Shoreham bird was still there on Apr 5

Common Tern: Following the firsts of the year at Milford (Lymington) and Selsey on Mar 28 there have now been sightings at Seaford, Rye Harbour and Dungeness

Short-eared Owl: One was at Portland on Apr 2 and two were there on Apr 4

Swift: After the single very early bird seen on the Isle of Wight on Mar 17 there have been two more recent sightings - two flew over Sandwich Bay in Kent on Apr 2 and a single bird was seen on Apr 5 over Icklesham in East Sussex near Rye

Wood Lark: At least one pair was still in the East Park at Stansted on Mar 31

Swallow: Numbers started to increase on Mar 31 with the arrival of 7 at Portland and on Apr 1 there were 15 in the Climping area near the mouth of the R Arun and 6 at Chichester Ivy Lake. On Apr 2 more than 40 flew in at Selsey and Portland record 100 on Apr 3. Apr 5 brought 50 to the Lewes Brooks and 25 to Stokes Bay at Gosport

House Martin: Highest count at any one site so far is 5 birds at the Chichester Lakes on Apr 5

Tree Pipit: Although one was reported to have been seen in the Bourley Hill area near Aldershot sometime before Mar 21 there have been no other reports of the species anywhere so one seen at Bourley Hill by John Eyre on Mar 30 may well have been first of the year in England. The next arrivals were singles at Portland and Christchurch, both on Apr 4

Meadow Pipit: The mass of birds that has been moving north since Feb 22 had reached a peak count of 1200 arriving at Portland by Mar 15 but plenty are still coming in with counts on Apr 2 of 200 at Portland and 530 at Christchurch Harbour. Quite a few are now on territory and on Apr 3 I heard at least three making their song flights over the Gipsies Plain to the west of Rowlands Castle

Yellow Wagtail: The first to be reported this year was at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Mar 30. Since then there have been reports form Christchurch Harbour, Haywards Heath, Sandwich Bay, Portland, Rye Harbour and Durlston though the sum of all birds reported is still only 14

Nightingale: First of the year was at Dungeness on Apr 5

Black Redstart: Sightings continue to be reported along the coast but the report which caught my eye was of one singing in a run down area of Hastings where it might possibly breed as many did in London bomb sites after the war. I wonder if global warming or a population increase will bring them back to breed in the forts on Portsdown Hill as they did in the 1970s?

Common Redstart: After the first early female at Ebernoe near Midhurst on Mar 25 a second bird was at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 30. By Apr 3 they were back at breeding sites in the New Forest and song was heard at two of these sites on Apr 4. Locally a male was seen on the Langstone shoreline between Wade and Pook Lanes on the evening of Apr 6

Stonechat: One or two pairs will probably breed at south Hayling sites but the only local place where I have seen apparently established territorial males is the Gipsies Plain west of Rowlands Castle with two birds seen in different places on Apr 3

Ring Ouzel: These arrived on a broad front on Mar 30 with reports from the Weymouth and Brighton areas plus one near Basingstoke and another in the Aldershot area. The only report since then is of one at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 4

Fieldfare: 55 still in the Pulborough area on Mar 31 and 47 there on Apr 4

Grasshopper Warbler: First of the year arrived at Seaford on Apr 5 and was still reeling there next day

Sedge Warbler: These have been heard singing in increasing numbers since Mar 26 in the Rye Bay, Dungeness and Christchurch areas but nowhere else so far

Reed Warbler: Apr 4 brought two very early birds to Emsworth and Lymington where both were heard singing

Common Whitethroat: First of the year was heard singing at the Pannell Valley near Rye Bay on Apr 2 with another heard at Durlston on Apr 3. Portland and Dungeness both had their first on Apr 5

Blackcap: Some of our summer birds may have arrived before Apr 1 but that day brought reports from eight widely separated sites, with song heard at three sites (at least). Apr 2 brought news of another singing bird at a new site (Pannel Valley near Rye), and Apr 3 gave reports of song at Stansted Forest, Hollybank Woods at Emsworth and Great Copse in Leigh Park, all close to Havant, plus more song in a north Fareham garden. On Apr 4 one was singing in Brook Meadow at Emsworth and on Apr 5 one was singing in the old rail line running behind my Havant garden

Willow Warbler: Now arriving in small numbers - several singing among 8 birds at Church Norton on Mar 30 when another 8 arrived at Dungeness, then 10 at Portland on Mar 31 increasing to 15 there on Apr 1, plus 12 in Christchurch Harbour and several other reports including 3 at Ivy Lake, Chichester, that day. Apr 2 brought a dramatic increase in numbers with 63 at Christchurch Harbour, and on Apr 4 there were 100+ at Portland and 350+ at Christchurch. On Apr 5 there were an estimated 500 at Portland and 370 at Christchurch

Firecrest: Thirteen reports between Mar 29 and Apr 1, with numbers up to 14 at Dungeness on Apr 30 and 10 at Portland on Mar 31, show that many are now reaching us from the south.

Pied Flycatcher: A male at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 1 was first for the year and Apr 5 brought another male to the Haywards Heath area and a female to the Christchurch area. A very good local sighting on the evening of Apr 6 was of one in trees on the Langstone shoreline between Wade and Pook Lanes

Serin: The first report for this year is of one eating grass seeds in at Bognor garden on Apr 3

Linnet: Small number seem to be arriving from the south and on Apr 4 some were said to be back on territory in the New Forest

Common (=Mealy) Redpoll: One was reported from the Studland area of Dorset on Apr 5

Yellowhammer: Small flocks are now being reported from several places including the East Park at Stansted,, Lewes and Hastings so hopefully some are now arriving from the south to breed here.

Corn Bunting: A report of more than 50 in the Maiden Castle area of Dorset near Dorchester on Apr 5 gives some hope of a few coming back to Hampshire....

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: An early first at Portland on Apr 3

Brimstone: 28 new reports with 17 in the Andover area, 20+ at Cissbury Ring north of Worthing and 12 in woods east of Arundel, all on Apr 4, show that a new burst of emergence has occurred this week.

Large White: At least one was seen in the Gosport area on Feb 12, and a female was out at Portland on Mar 19, but the real emergence of this species probably starts with a male seen at Gosport on Apr 1, with two there and another at Barton on sea on Apr 4

Small White: This species too had early examples on Feb 8, 13 and 18, followed by 8 reports in March, but the real emergence seems to have started on Mar 30 with 17 reports since then

Green-veined White: One seen and photgraphed at Portland on Apr 1 remains the only one reported so far this year.

Orange Tip: Early insects were flying on Mar 26 at Horsham, on Mar 27 at Titchfield Haven and at Alresford on Mar 30 but the season began properly on Apr 3 with one seen at Warsash. Apr 4 brought three reports from Emsworth, the A27 at Havant and Stoke village on Hayling while one flew round my Havant garden on Apr 5

Holly Blue: Two reports from Gosport on Feb 9 and 12 were clearly out of line with the rest of the species which had its first 'normal' report from Portland on Mar 31 followed by a sighting of 2 at Worthing on Apr 3 and four sightings on Apr 4 (at Gosport, Winchester, Southampton and Crawley) followed by one at Durlston on Apr 5

Red Admiral: Just six recent sightings, all of ones or twos

Small Tortoiseshell: This species seems to be doing well with 17 sightings between Mar 30 and Apr 5. I saw my first at Warblington on Apr 5.

Peacock: This is currently the most often seen species with 34 sightings in the latest news, including a report of more than 40 seen at Pagham Harbour on Apr 4, 23 near Rye on Apr 3, and 14 in the Gosport area on Apr 1

Comma: Also common with 24 recent sightings but with a maximun count of 8 at any one time

Speckled Wood: 11 recent sightings including my own first sighting of one at Warblington Farm on Apr 5

(Pearl-bordered Fritillary caterpillar): Seen feeding on violets in the New Forest on Mar 30

Moths

Large Birch Purple (0012 Eriocrania sangii): First report from Ashdown Forest on Apr 3 - this is the normal time to find this Birch tree leaf-miner on the wing

Diamond-back moth (0464): First record from Newhaven on Apr 2 - this tiny but common migrant normally only flies between May and September.

Brindled Flat-body (0697 Agonopterix arenella): First at Horsham on Apr 3 - this will have hatched last autumn and hibernated

Orange Underwing (1661 Archiearis parthenias): First in Basing Forest on Mar 30

The Streamer (1747 Anticlea derivata): First near Rye on Apr 2 - early but normal time of year

Small Waved Umber (1781 Horisme vitalbata): First at Findon (Worthing) on Apr 3 - very early as this normally flies in May and June with a second brood coming out in August

Oak-tree Pug (1853 Eupithecia dodoneata): First at Horsham on Apr 3 - another May-June species

Brindled Beauty (1927 Lycia hirtaria): First at Horsham on Apr 3 - a normal March-April species

Muslin Moth (2063 Diaphora mendica): First early male at Findon (Worthing) on Mar 30 - males are a dark grey colour, female a pure white with tiny black dots

White-marked (2140 Cerastis leucographa): First at Horsham on Apr 3 - normal time of year

Blossom Underwing (2183 Orthosia miniosa): First at Horsham on Apr 3 - normal time of year

Powdered Quaker (2186 Orthosia gracilis): First at Horsham on Apr 3 - normal time of year

Other Insects

Bee Fly: A couple more sightings (one from Rye Harbour where the normally rare Dotted Bee-fly occurs but this was the common species)

Hoverflies: On Mar 30 both Drone flies (Eristalis tenax) and Marmelade Flies (Episyrphus balteatus) were on the wing at Rye Harbour

Mining Bees: On Apr 1 the Durlston rangers web diary commented on the small mounds of earth being created by the efforts of mining bees without mentioning the species - probably the small black Halictus species that we may also see on banks of dry soil around now. At Rye Harbour on Apr 3 they saw a species new to me called Gwynne's mining bee (Andrena bicolor) - see photo on the Rye Bay website.

False Widow Spider (Steatoda grossa): One found indoors on a table at Dungeness bird observatory on Mar 30 was a first for that site - the species has been spreading in Britain and was new to Kent last year. This is a species which is said to prey on Black Widow spiders in America so it is probably best avoided by humans. If you want to know more about the species use the latin name given here and not the one quoted on the Dungeness website as the genus is Steatoda not Steatodes.

Black Millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger): On Mar 31 the Rye Bay website has a picture of this creature which is 3 cm long and has 160 legs (or is that pairs of legs?)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Great Horsetail: This species is just starting to re-appear at Warblington farm - on Apr 4 I came across three large fertile cones and one non-fertile spike

Bracken: The first fronds were starting to unfurl at Havant Thicket on Apr 3

Harts-tongue Fern: Tightly curled fresh fronds of this were seen in Pook Lane at Warblington on Apr 4

Goldilocks Buttercup: The first buds on plants at Pyle Lane in Horndean had started to break open on Apr 3

Wild Radish: One plant with white flowers seen on a Havant roadside on Apr 2

Cuckoo Flower: Although some had been found in flower as early as Feb 15 I only found my first in Warblington church yard on Apr 4

Common Milkwort: This had started to flower at Durlston by Apr 1 in reports of both blue and white flowers. More recent reports from there say they have Chalk Milkwort in flower and confirm this by writing of bright blue flowers only

Round-leaved Cranesbill: On Apr 1 one flower was open on the plants in The Ship inn carpark at Langstone where I last saw them flowering on Jan 29. By Apr 4 I had come on a second flowering plant in the Havant area.

Wood Sorrel: I found quite a lot of this in flower in the Long Avenue between Leigh Park Gardens and Havant Thicket on Apr 3 - the first I have seen but while I have no record of an earlier sighting I seem to remember John Goodspeed had found it last month.

Crab Apple: Close to the Wood Sorrel on Apr 3 I found a massive old Crab Apple tree covered with blossom in bud with some of the buds already open

Wild Strawberry: At Pyle Lane in Horndean on Apr 3 I found the flowers of this close to those of Barren Strawberry allowing the two plants to be compared.

Rue-leaved Saxifrage: This plant can be easily found on the Havant streets near my home, though in lesser numbers than in some recent years, so I was surprised to see it getting the treatment accorded to a real rarity at Rye Harbour in their website entry for Apr 5.

Beech and Field Maple: The leaves of both had started to appear in the Warblington area on Apr 4

Norway Maple: Bright yellow flowers were seen on this tree in Havant on Apr 2

Horse Chestnut: The first single white flower had opened on a tree in Havant on Apr 4

Wood Spurge: Although garden versions of this have been in flower for some time I found the genuine thing out in Havant Thicket on Apr 4 for the first time

Scarlet Pimpernel: Reported to be flowering at Durlston on Mar 30

Early Gentian: Also starting to flower at Durlston on Mar 31

Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta): One early plant showing its pale blue flowers in Havant on Apr 4

Cleavers (Goosegrass): Flowering in Havant on Apr 1 with more found on Apr 4

Nipplewort: One seen flowering in Havant on Apr 1 was my second for the year after one seen on Feb 1

Black Bryony: First leaves seen at Warblington on Apr 4

Ramsons (Wild Garlic): John Goodspeed found this flowering in Havant (Great Copse) on Apr 3

Early Spider Orchid: The first flowers seen on tiny plants at Durlston on Mar 31.

Pendulous Sedge: Also found by John Goodspeed flowering in Great Copse on Apr 3

Glaucous Sedge: Flowering on Portsdown on Apr 2

Spring Sedge: Flowering at Durlston on Apr 5

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: Two off Portland on Mar 23 were the first reported there since Feb 1, and on Mar 31 one came close in off Ovingdean (east of Brighton) to give the first report for the year from a site other than Portland

Common Seal: On Mar 30 Barry Collins found 14 Seals hauled out on the shore of Thorney Island in Chichester Harbour. Although there was a count of 14 there in Oct 2003 the next highest count was 11 in 2007 with peaks of just 10 in 2004, 5 and 6 and only 8 in 2000 and 2001 leaving 2002 with just 4.

Hedgehog: At least one was out of hibernation to be seen in a garden at Worthing on Mar 31

Brown Long-eared Bat: What was probably one of these was seen feeding by day at the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Apr 4

Common Lizard: At least 20 seen in Pignal Inclosure area of the New Forest on Mar 30

Slow-worm: These are now active and one was seen in a Portsdown Hill garden on Apr 3


To see Summaries for January to March 2008 go to JAN-MAR SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2007 go to OCT-DEC SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to Sept 2007 go to JUL-SEP SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2007 go to APR-JUN SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for Jan, Feb and Mar 2007 go to JAN-MAR SUMMARIES


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