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WEEKLY SUMMARY

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Summary for June 29 - July 5 (Week 26 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

After the revelation that the Hawk Conservancy had removed the leg ring showing one of their Black Kites to be a captive bird before letting it escape into the wild last April (it's thought to be still flying around Hampshire) birders are asking their priests to absolve them of the crime of adding a non-wild bird to their year lists and the conservation storm troopers which shot a Peregrine in Sussex earlier this year because it was wearing the 'wrong trousers' (not made of pure Scottish Peregrine Plaid) are possibly loading their guns to get the 'illegal Kite'. Next on the list may be a female Red-footed Falcon seen several times recently in the Itchen valley - where did that come from and is it licensed to be listed?

Getting back to proper birding news Avocets, Lapwing, Ruff, Green, Wood and Common Sandpipers are now appearing in large numbers in southern England. Rarities reported this week are Gull-billed Tern, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-crowned Wheatear, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike and Rose-coloured Starling. Less uncommon, but an iconic sign of autumn, was the first Willow Warbler song since spring.

Less controversy about the sport of Purple Emperor watching (no questions asked as to where you get your supply of rotten shrimp paste) and you don't even have to belong to an authorised clique to enjoy the current magnificent show of Silver Washed Fritillaries in the woods and Marbled Whites in grassland. This week has increased the scope for butterfly watching with the emergence of the first Chalkhill Blue (free to view) and Grayling (can you watch that with a free conscience without first undergoing the Sussex Grayling Society initiation rituals? I think they are available for free in Hampshire.) The week also brought out the summer broods of Peacock and Holly Blue. At least one Hummingbird Hawkmoth visited Langstone but the first Convolvulus Hawk chose to show itself in Dorset and a Spurge Hawk in Kent. Older naturalists such as myself will miss out on one of this week's special offers - the start of the Bush Cricket song season. Among other insects the discovery of a new site for Glow-worms (in central Emsworth) is notable.

Wild Orchids may have their secret societies of worshippers but thankfully the great majority of wild flowers are open to the enjoyment of all and this week I had great enjoyment from the first sight of Marsh Woundwort and Betony and even from the subdued presence of the first Upright Hedge Parsley in shaded woodland. Commoner species making their first flowering appearances this week were Common Fleabane, Dwarf Thistle and Mugwort plus Golden Samphire (common enough round the Solent harbours but nationally rare). Also new on the scene were Hemp Agrimony, Lesser Burdock and Wood Sage.

The severe drought which brought death to one Mole seen by me did not prevent the growth of a clump of apparently thriving Weeping Widow toadstools. The sight of a Hedgehog crossing an Emsworth road by day (and not getting run over) was a notable event, as was the sudden sufacing of a Grey Seal among terrified bathers in Rye Bay. This week's mystery concerns the identity of a 'small vole' picked up on the busy footpath around Langstone pond and moved to safety - was it a baby Water Vole? We may never know ....

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Sooty Shearwater: One off Portland on June 30 was only the second on the south coast this year (first in Poole Bay on May 17). There was also one seen in the Sillies that day - maybe the same bird?

Storm Petrel: I'm not sure if I read the entry on the Cornwall Birding werbsite correctly but it seemed to say that 300 Storm Petrels were caught and ringed off the county on the night of June 21. A pelagic boat trip from the Scillies on June 30 reported more than 50 of them

Cormorant: A minor indication that the breeding season is now over was the return of two Cormorants to the rafts in the Emsworth Slipper Pond on July 2

Bittern: One was booming every 3 to 4 minutes in the early morning of June 26 at Stodmarsh in the Kent Stour valley. Another was at Radipole (Weymouth) on June 30 and July 1

Little Bittern: One reported in the Bembridge Harbour area (IoW) on June 28 - no further news of it. Other than one in the Scillies from May 11 to 18 this is the only other one in the south of England this year

Little Egret: All eleven birds which I could see around the Langstone Pond area at low tide on June 25 were juveniles. On July 4 five of the juveniles had ventured a few yards from the nest trees and were standing in the pony field north of Langstone pond (the field in which a Fox was seen last year at this time with one Egret in its mouth)

Great White Egret: Just two definite reports this week - one at Reculver in the Thanet area of Kent on June 29 and one in the West Moors area of Dorset (not far from Ringwood) on June 30

White Stork: Three 'probable' reports - one over Amberley Wild Brooks on June 30 and two different birds on July 1, one over Arundel and the other over Romsey. I think all three were different birds heading north.

Spoonbill: One in the Brading Marsh area of the IoW on June 28

Mute Swan: The pair which nest on the Thorney Little Deeps are usually one of the first to start and usually hatch a good sized family. This year the first report of a pair having a nest there (on Apr 21) was more than a month later than usual and when I was there a month later (May 19) there was no evidence of the nest being in use and just three adult Swans on the water. My next visit (July 4) found one adult and one small (late hatched?) cygnet. Back on June 2 Brian Fellows saw a family group (two adults and four tiny cygnets) on the water of Emsworth Harbour and he assumed they had come from the Little Deeps though they could have come from the nest in the Northney marina.

Black Swan: The single female on the River Itchen at Riverside Park in Southampton (among 50+ Mute Swans) was still (July 1) sitting on an nest with eggs 49 days after mating with a Mute Swan on May 14 (a Mute Swan's eggs would have hatched about 10 days ago)

Brent Goose: Just one seen at Farlington Marshes on June 28 (there are probably at least 9 birds summering in Langstone Harbour - 9 seen on May 19). More interestingly one was seen to fly in from the sea at Cuckmere Haven on July 1 and to continue upstream.

Shelduck: On June 25 I saw two adults with six juveniles (plus a second group of three unaccompanied juveniles) on the Budds Farm Pools here in Havant and on June 30 Brian Fellows saw two adults on the Hayling Oysterbeds pools where Jason Crook had seen a new family of nine ducklings on June 28 - in addition to the family of 9 which Jason saw on the Budds Farm pools on June 22.

Teal: Two reports this week could indicate that these are starting to return from distant breeding sites (though they could have attempted breeding locally). On June 28 five were seen at Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire and on July 3 there were fifteen at the Breech Pool north of Pagham Harbour.

Tufted Duck: These are alway late breeders and my first sight of ducklings came at the Thorney Little Deeps on July 4.

Goldeneye: A male made a surprise appearance at Radipole (Weymouth) on July 2 and was still there next day - I wonder if it came from the same place as last summer's surprise Hooded Merganser (which I believe is still hanging around at Radipole)

Honey Buzzard: One was photographed on July 3 as it circled fairly low over woods somewhere in east Hampshire.

Black Kite: At least six reported sightings in Hampshire between May 11 and June 23 may have been of a bird which escaped from the Hawk Conservancy near Andover on Apr 27 - the Conservancy at first denied losing any birds but it eventually admitted to doing so and, even worse, removing the white leg ring (which showed it was a captive bird) before letting it go. Since that news came out there has been another probable sighting over west Fareham on June 30.

Marsh Harrier: This year's young are starting to take to the air. On June 27 one juvenile was among 9 seen over the Stour Valley in Kent and on June 29 one of the young at the Dungeness RSPB reserve fledged. No news of the breeding pair at Lodmoor (Weymouth) which we were told of during the TV Springwatch program - last mention of a bird there was on June 21.

Montagu's Harrier: One reported in the Wimborne area of Dorset on July 3

Red-footed Falcon: Four separate birders have reported sightings of a female in the Twyford/Shawford area of the Itchen Valley just south of Winchester in the last three weeks of June. It has not been seen again despite numerous searches.

Merlin: One at Radipole (Weymouth) on July 1 was the first reported in southern England since Apr 24

Quail: Three reports this week - one at Maiden Castle in Dorset on July 1, two heard near Bopeep Farm at the east end of the South Downs on July 2, and one on Cleave Hill not far north west of Stockbridge in Hampshire on July 4

Water Rail: On June 28 two juveniles were seen 'jumping to catch insects' at Farlington Marshes

Avocet: The Pett Level pools near Hastings had 48 Avocet present (including 30 juveniles) on June 28 but this number had increased to 85 by July 4, presumably the result of birds starting to head west from their breeding areas and stopping off at Pett.

Lapwing: Several south coast sites have reported increased numbers this week including Rye Harbour where 100 new birds were present on the morning of July 3. On July 4 I saw my first returnees (more than 12) near the Thorney Great Deeps

Ruff: Two seen at Christchurch Harbour on June 28, increasing to three there on June 29, seem to be the first birds returning south this autumn. On July 3 more than 15 appeared at Rye Harbour (the first there since Mar 19)

Black-tailed Godwit: Around 100 were seen at Farlington Marshes on June 28 (with just 4 at Pulborough Brooks that day)

Green Sandpiper: Among many other reports of waders now heading south I picked out a count of 31 Green Sandpipers at Stodmarsh in the Kent Stour Valley on June 27 (there were six at the Lower Test near Southampton on June 26 and six at Pulborough Brooks on July 1). On July 3 four were seen at the Pagham Harbour Breech Pool

Wood Sandpiper: Maybe the first autumn bird in southern England was at Dungeness on June 25 followed by one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on June 26 (and 17 at one Dutch site on June 27). June 28 brought reports of one at Brading Marsh (IoW) and another at Pulborough Brooks. July 3 brought three more at different sites (Sandwich Bay, Weir Wood reservoir and Rye Harbour)

Common Sandpiper: Single figure counts from seven sites this week were all beaten by a count of 21 at Peveril Point near Swanage on July 3

Med Gulls: Chris Cockburn (Langstone RSPB warden) reports some good breeding success among those which nested on the shingle areas of the Langstone Harbour Islands this year and (while I have not yet seen local reports of juveniles away from those islands) the first juvenile arrived in Christchurch Harbour on June 29. At the Hayling Oysterbeds (where no Med Gulls have nested) some make raids on the other species nesting there and Jason has seen at least on Black-headed chick and one Common Tern chick taken by Med Gulls recently. At Rye Harbour Med Gulls regularly 'mug' Sandwich Terns and steal the food they are carrying back to their young terns.

Black-headed Gulls: The first four juveniles turned up at the Budds Farm pools on June 25. Elsewhere the first were on the north Kent shore at Swalecliffe on June 26, then at Weston on Southampton Water on June 28 with one reaching the more distant (from its nest) Peter Pond in Emsworth on June 30. Chris Cockburn gives a rough count of 5000 pairs nesting on the Langstone Harbour Islands this year but says that many of the young have been eaten by Foxes.

Common Gull: It won't be long before these start to re-appear all along the south coast. This week a first summer bird was at Hook/Warsash on June 27, two (unspecified age) were at Farlington Marshes on June 28 and one was a newcomer to the Scillies on June 30

Herring Gull: More than 500 were 'anting' over East Dean in the Beachy Head area on June 28

Iceland Gull: At least one was seen in the Netherlands on July 4

Glaucous Gull: One reported in the Scillies on July 1

Gull-billed Tern: One had been reported in Holland on June 27 and there was a 'possible' report of one at Titchfield Haven on July 4

Sandwich Tern: Many young in nests at Rye Harbour are going short of food as their parents are robbed by both Med and Black Headed Gulls of the food they are bringing. In Langstone Harbour these terns have only raised a few young as a result of predation by both Foxes and Gulls

Common Tern: Pairs nesting at the Hayling Oysterbeds had managed to hatch 35 young in the week ending June 31 but by July 2 Brian Fellows could only see one live chick there (which reminds me that there has been no mention of predation by rats at this site this year)

Little Tern: None have nested at the Oysterbeds but 40 pairs were reported to be nesting on the RSPB Islands on June 8 and that number may have increased since then. Currently some of the chicks are already growing their first feathers but it will probably be another month before breeding success can be determined. A report from Pagham Harbour on July 2 estimated that six pairs were bringing to food to young there (on May 26 I saw a report of 3 pairs nesting there but have heard nothing since then until now)

Swift: The pairs which are nesting this year are already feeding young and this week there have been two reports of non-breeding birds not only flying past potential nest sites which they may use next year but actually landing to check them out - the first came from somewhere in Sussex on June 30 and the second from Emsworth on July 1 (after this years peak count of around 30 birds circling over Emsworth on June 30). Until July 4 I had not seen more than seven birds together over my home area in Havant whereas on June 30 Martin Hampton saw round 25 over the Bedhampton area in the west of Havant. The evening of July 4, however, gave me the biggest count over my home area so far this summer when at least 15 birds were in the sky. On July 3 three Swifts were seen flying south in mid-Channel but this does not (as it would with most species) mean that Swifts are starting to leave us as it would be quite normal for birds nesting in England to collect food for their young over northern France.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater: Two reports of this species (for which I have no previous records) in this week's news. One is reported to have been at the Beaulieu River mouth (Needs Ore Point) on June 21 (report delayed by rules which say that if you visit the Beaulieu Estate - where admission is restricted to ticket holders who have to accept the rules as a condition of getting a ticket - you must not publish reports that could result in a 'twitch'). On June 30 another sighting (again with a photo of the bird) was reported from Braunton Burrowes in Devon - this seems to be only the tenth record of the species in Britain. Perhaps this bird is a sign of rapid global warming as it normally breeds in sandy deserts (does it expect to find such habititat in Britain in the near future?)

Lesser-spotted Woodpecker: A male was seen among a tit flock in woods on the north west fringe of Southampton on July 4

House Martin: Good news from Chichester where it was reported on June 6 that no birds could be seen at traditional nest sites above shops in East Street - a further report on July 2 states that four birds are now present with at least two occupied nests.

Robin: I have not heard Robin song since June 15. Wrens are still singing regularly and Dunnock could still be heard occasionally on June 30

White-crowned Wheatear: A possible report of one at The Lizard in Cornwall on July 1 (it could have been an even rarer Black Wheatear). If true this could be another bird that has heard of desert habitat in Britain!

Blackbird: Still singing on July 1 as were Song Thrushes

Mistle Thrush: One seen carrying food for young in Southsea on June 29 to prove they are not quite extinct in Portsmouth! On June 30 one was also seen in the Scillies where the species has always been rare.

Dartford Warbler: One in the Hook/Warsash area on July 2 was the first seen there since February and so probably marks the start of post breeding dispersal.

Willow Warbler: This bird's song is one of my favourite signs of autumn passage and July 3 brought the first report of it from Sandwich Bay in Kent

Golden Oriole: A male at Rye Harbour on July 3 was a good find

Red-backed Shrike: A male at Rye Harbour on July 3 made the day even better there.

Rose-coloured Starling: One reported at Falmouth among normal Starlings on July 2

Siskin: Several recent reports have indicated that many of these birds have ceased to be just winter visitors to much of southern England and are now widely resident and breeding. This week Martin Hampton suggests that this is now true in the Petersfield area.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Eight species reported so far this week but nothing new

Butterflies

31 species mentioned in reports this week.

White Letter Hairstreak: Four new reports this week include a count of 41 at Peartree Green in Southampton, another three seen near Pigeon House Farm on the north face of Portsdown and the discovery of a new site where six were seen at Fort Rowner (within the MoD HMS Sultan area) alongside Military Road in Gosport. Another new site was found in Brighton on July 3 (four butterflies seen there)

Small Copper: Second brood butterflies are now emerging and on July 1 one was seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth where none of the first brood had been seen. On July 4 I saw another on Thorney Island

Chalkhill Blue: In my mid-week summary I said that the first for the year was seen on July 1 at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester but subsequently entries on the Sussex Butterfly website claim a first near Eastbourne on June 30 with another at Brighton on July 1 plus one at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on July 2

Holly Blue: An entry for July 1 on the Planet Thanet website reports Holly Blue being seen daily there in Thanet. This is the first report I have come across since June 14 and I presume it reflects an early appearance of the summer brood in that part of Kent.

Purple Emperor: Acolytes of Emperor Worship are still driving miles to see the small numbers of these large, fierce, beauties at a few hotspots such as Botany Bay near Chiddingfold in Surrey, Southwater woods at Horsham in Sussex and the Alice Holt Forest near Farnham (but in Hampshire). Perhaps if more of them stayed nearer home and searched their local woods more 'hotspots' would be discovered? This week one was seen in woods at Ampfield near Romsey, another in Micheldever Wood (east side of the M3 half way between Winchester and Basingstoke), and another in Huntbourn Wood (between Denmead and the Meon Valley).

Painted Lady: The Hampshire Butterfly Conservation website on July 1 carried a photo of a Painted Lady caterpillar in its larval web spun around the stems of what looks like Creeping Thistle. The green caterpillar migh easily escape the human eye (looking like one of the green stems) but the guazy web should catch the eye and it is worth keeping an eye out for them at the moment.

Peacock: The first of the fresh summer brood was seen in the Newhaven area on July 3

Dark Green Fritillary: More than 157 were seen at Martin Down on July 1 - hopefully there are a few to be seen on Portsdown but I have not yet seen any reports from there.

Silver Washed Fritillary: 75 were counted in Pamber Forest (north Hampshire) on July 1 when there was a more limited, but equally colourful and exciting, show of more than 20 in Hammonds Land Coppice in Staunton Country Park, just north of Havant.

Marbled White: These can be found almost anywhere at present but a count of 600 at Dungeness on June 30 was impressive.

Grayling: First for the year, 8 of them, seen at Browndown west of Gosport on June 28. On July 3 others were seen on Beaulieu Heath in the New Forest.

Moths

Emmetia marginea (0125): First report of this Bramble Leaf Miner comes from Thanet in Kent on June 26

The Festoon (0173 Apoda limacodes): First at Amberley Wild Brooks on June 27

Orange-tailed Clearwing (0378 Synanthedon anthraciniformis): First report is of around seven of these in the Poynings area of Sussex on June 29

Bird-cherry Ermine (0424 Yponomeuta evonymella): First at Portland on June 27

Willow Ermine (0428 Yponomeuta rorrella): First in Thanet area of Kent on June 27

Diamond-back moth (0464 Plutella xylostella): By no means the first but a count of 1224 of these migrants at Portland on June 30 was impressive

Eulamprotes wilkella (0733): First in the Thanet area on June 26

Cosmopterix pulchrimella (0896b): First at Portland Bill on July 3

Limnaecia phragmitella (0898): First at Portland on June 29

Large fruit-tree Tortrix (0977 Archips podana): First in Thanet on June 26

Aleimma loeflingiana (1032): First in Thanet on June 26

Endothenia oblongana (1098): First in Thanet on June 26

Endothenia quadrimaculana (1104): First at Portland on June 30

Zeiraphera isertana (1165): First at Portland on June 30

Epiblema scutulana (1184): First in Thanet on June 26

Twenty-plumed moth (1288 Alucita hexadactyla): First in the Gosport area on June 27

Catoptria margaritella (1314): First of the year on June 27 in the Thanet area of Kent - this species breeds in bogs and had presumably come from the Netherlands (Third record for Kent)

Catoptria verellus (1317): First in Thanet on June 27

Schoenobius gigantella (1328): First in Thanet on June 26

Water Veneer (1331 Acentria ephemerella): First at Portland on June 29

Sitochroa palealis (1370): First in Gosport on June 27

Fenland Pearl (1380 Phlyctaenia perlucidalis): First in Newhaven area on June 26

Nascia cilialis (1387): National rarity - first found at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Udea prunalis (Pyralid) (1390): First in the Gosport area on June 27

Long-legged China-mark (1399 Dolicharthria punctalis): Firsts found at both Newhaven cliffs and Shoreham Fort on June 26

Synaphe punctalis (1414): First in Gosport area on June 27

Orthopygia glaucinalis (1415): First in Thanet on June 26

Meal Moth (1417 Pyralis farinalis): First in Thanet on June 26

Epischnia bankesiella (1456): First at Portland on June 28 - a coastal species feeding on Golden Samphire but only where that plant grows away from saltmarshes

Gymnancyla canella (1464): First at Portland on June 30

Least carpet (1699 Idaea vulpinaria atrosignaria): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 26

Dwarf Cream Wave (1705 Idaea fuscovenosa): First at Ringmer near Lewes on June 30

Wood Carpet (1739 Epirrhoe rivata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 25

July Highflyer (1777 Hydriomena furcata): First at Shoreham Fort on June 26

May Highflyer (1778 Hydriomena impluviata): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Brown Scallop (1791 Philereme vetulata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 27

Dark Umber (1792 Philereme transversata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 27

Twin-spot Carpet (1809 Perizoma didymata): First at Dungeness on June 26

Lime-speck Pug (1825 Eupithecia centaureata): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on June 30

Yarrow Pug (1841 Eupithecia millefoliata): First at Dungeness on June 26

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): First of this large and impressive migrant at Portland on June 27

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Seven new records of singles this week including my first seen feeding at Vipers Bugloss by the old rail bridge at Langstone on June 25

Spurge Hawkmoth (1986 Hyles euphorbiae): First in Thanet on June 27

Puss Moth (1995 Cerura vinula): First in Thanet on June 26

Brown-tail (2029 Euproctis chrysorrhoea): First at Shoreham Fort on June 26

Yellow-tail (2030 Euproctis similis): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on June 30

White Satin Moth (2031 Leucoma salicis): First at Newhaven cliffs on June 26

Rosy Footman (2037 Miltochrista miniata): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Dingy Footman (2044 Eilema griseola): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Buff Footman (2049 Eilema deplana): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Short-cloaked Moth (2077 Nola cucullatella): First in Thanet on June 26

Scarce Black Arches (2079 Nola aerugula): First in Thanet on June 27

Crescent Dart (2090 Agrotis trux): First at Portland on June 28

Purple Clay (2122 Diarsia brunnea): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Double Square-spot (2128 Xestia triangulum): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on June 30

The Lychnis (2173 Hadena bicruris): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on June 30

The Clay (2193 Mythimna ferrago): First at Shoreham Fort on June 26

Lunar Underwing (2270 Omphaloscelis lunosa): First at Shoreham Fort on June 26

Poplar Grey (2278 Acronicta megacephala): First at Dungeness on July 2

The Miller (2280 Acronicta leporina): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Heart Moth (2315 Dicycla oo): First for this rarity at Broadbridge Heath (Horsham) on June 30

Slender Brindle (2335 Apamea scolopacina): 0627 foy

Small Dotted Buff (2345 Photedes minima): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on June 30

Mere Wainscot (2349 Chortodes fluxa): First at Portland on June 30

Ear Moth (2360 Amphipoea oculea): First in the Lymington area on June 29

Fen Wainscot (2377 Arenostola phragmitidis): First in Thanet on June 26

Silver Hook (2412 Deltote uncula): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Cream-bordered Green Pea (2418 Earias chlorana): First at Portland on June 29

Oak Nycteoline (2423 Nycteola revayana): First at Pagham Harbour on July 2

Plumed Fanfoot (2488a Pechipogo plumigeralis): First in Thanet on June 27

Dotted Fan-foot (2493 Macrochilo cribrumalis): First at Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough on June 27

Other Insects

Large Marsh Horsefly (Tabanus autumnalis): This fly is large (an inch long) - found at Rye Hrbour on July 4

Lesser Stag Beetle: Rye Harbour recently had its first ever female of this species and on June 28 a male also appeared there

Glow-worm: Normally only females are seen by us because they alone 'light up' to attract the unlit males (though sometimes a male can be found nearby when you get close to a female). On June 27, however, the lights of moth traps at the Amberley Wild Brooks near Pulborough seem to have attracted four males to them. Locally a new site for the species was found in a central Emsworth garden on July 3

Mesosa nebulosa (Longhorn beetle species): This species normally stays in the tops of oak trees and is not seen by humans but on June 29 one was seen on a leaf at ground level in Brede High Woods north of Hastings. The species is nationally rare and had not previously been recorded by the Sussex Biodiversity Centre

Grasshoppers and Crickets: On June 29 Rye Harbour reported this year's first 'song' by Common Field Grsshopper, Short-winged Conehead and Roesel's Bush Cricket

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Perennial Wall-rocket: First flower seen in Havant on June 30

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea: This was flowering at Brook Meadow for the first time this year on July 2.

Goats Rue: The blue flowered plants at the Hayling Oysterbeds carpark have probably been out as long as the white flowered plants nearby on North Common (which were flowering on June 22) but were not reported until June 30

Sweet Chestnut: This tree has also probably been in flower for a week or more but I did not see it until July 1

Upright Hedge Parsley: Just starting to flower in Staunton Country Park on July 1

Thorn Apple: Three of these plants had started to flower at Havant rail station on June 30

Marsh Woundwort: This had just started flowering at the Gipsies Plain orchid ditch site (close to where the track emerges from Hammond Land Coppice) on July 1

Betony: This also was first seen in flower at the Gipsies Plain orchid ditch near Rowlands Castle on July 1

Wood Sage: First report of this in flower at Durlston on July 4

Common Fleabane: First flowers fully open in Havant on June 25

Golden Samphire: First flowers out by the Slipper Pond in Emsworth on June 30. By July 4 a lot of this was flowering along the Warblington-Emsworth shoreline.

Hemp Agrimony: First flowers found by Brian Fellows at Bosham on July 2 and more seen on Thorney Island on July 4

Mugwort: First flowers seen in Havant on June 25

Dwarf Thistle: This had started to flower at Durlston on June 30

Lesser Burdock: First flowers at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 30

Chicory: First flowers (from wildflower seed sowing) out in Southmoor Lane at Havant on June 25

Stinking Hawk-bit: This species had become extinct in Britain but was re-introduced in 2000 at Dungeness where it is now thriving within fencing to prevent Rabbits eating it. On July 2 a count of 1035 plants was announced.

Musk Orchid: This is now flowering at Noar Hill and probably has been for some time.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Common (Harbour) Porpoise: One found dead of unknown causes on the shore at Rye Harbour on June 28 - the RX website has a good photo of its many strangely rounded teeth

Grey Seal: On June 28 one popped up in Rye Bay among a group of human bathers which frantically fled to the safety of the beach

Mole: One found dead on very dry ground in the Staunton Country Park (Havant) on July 1 - see diary entry for that day below

Hedgehog: These are now rarities, at least in my experience, so I am delighted to hear that (after having one in his Emsworth garden on June 17) Brian Fellows had another (daytime) sighting of one on July 2 - the latter sighting was of one crossing Warblington Road, also in Emsworth, narrowly missed by a passing car.

Water Vole: Last summer I personally saw a young Water Vole in the open on brickwork at the edge of Langstone Mill Pond with many people with children and dogs only yards away from the vole (which emerged into the open more than once before retreating to safety). On June 25 this year I was again near the pond where a reliable observer told me that she had just picked up 'a small vole', which was on the path close to last year's incident, and placed it in a safer place at the foot of the Mill property fence (where Nature Notes posters are displayed). By the time I got there there was no sign of the vole .... I cannot be sure it was a Water Vole.

Common Newts: A night time visit to an unimproved meadow near Rye on June 29 found several Common Newts out in the damp grass where they could feed on a rich supply of slugs and other invertebrates to recover their strength for the coming winter after the breeding season.

Fungi: Despite the current drought I found a fresh cluster of Weeping Widow toadstools in a shady ride in the Hammonds Land Coppice woodland of Staunton Country Park in Havant on July 1. Nearby the base of the massive trunk of an old Oak tree had several fungal growths which from a distance (I could not get close) might have been early stages of some Ganoderma species (brown globular shapes each perhaps 30 cm across). With my binoculars I could see that the brown 'upper' surfaces were peppered with small triangular slits which I think were the result of the drought causing splits in the flesh of the fungus but I cannot be sure what I was looking at.


Summary for June 22 - 28 (Week 25 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Signs of approaching autumn this week include the arrival of the first summer plumaged Grey Plover, the second Wheatear at coastal sites where they have not bred, and a small flock of around 30 Sand Martins flying south out to sea at Selsey. Also moving south are Golden Plover, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers. Juvenile Black-headed Gulls are starting to fly from their nest sites and young Med Gulls will soon follow them. A juvenile hybrid Lesser Blackback x Yellow-legged Gull has been seen in Southampton with its parents and a Common x Arctic Tern pair are nesting at Lodmoor (Weymouth). Two unanswered questions are first, why did the Spotted Flycatcher keep crashing into the Cherry Tree leaves?, and second, what were the two Barn Owls doing in the nest box that was hardly big enough to hold them on Hayling? We also have news of Storm Petrels being lured by tape recordings to a small boat off Portland Bill, and of local breeding success by Shelduck and Gadwall as well as the Little Egrets.

Purple Emperor butterflies and Lulworth Skippers took to the air this week as did this year's Gatekeepers. In Kent Heath Fritillaries are present in large numbers and in Sussex more than 500 Silver Studded Blues could be seen at Iping Common while for tennis fans a Purple Hairstreak had a small part in the BBC TV coverage of Wimbledon. Moths have been enjoying the warm night air and by day Summer Chafers are now flying but few Glow-worms have been reported so far.

Harebells, Marjoram and Squinancywort are now flowering on Portsdown with Travellers Joy, Basil Thyme and Vervain. Sea Lavender and Sea Aster have started to flower on the shore, and both Frog and Fragrant Orchids are out at Noar Hill. Near West Marden Nettle-leaved and Clustered Bellflowers were out and Deadly Nightshade was in flower. This year's count of Southern Marsh orchids at Langstone South Moors shows a good average result (but will the site soon dry out completely before the sea floods it?)

Items to catch my eye on the Other Wildlife scene this week are news of an abundance of Natterjack Toad tadpoles at Christchurch Harbour, sighitings of Sunfish and Blue Shark off the Scillies and a Herring Gull in Cornwall adding variety to its diet by swallowing a Mole.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Northern Diver: One in summer plumage flew east past Durlston on June 28. What were probably the last of the winter birds (not breeding this year) were four off Portland on May 19. Since then there have been six isolated reports of singles seen from Portland before the current sighting which sounds like the first of the (presumably failed) breeders returning south

Storm Petrel: Although these are normally only seen from the mainland in stormy conditions it would appear that they are not far away even in the current calm, good weather. Martin Cade, in charge of the Portland observatory, took a small boat a short distance out to sea and used a tape recording to lure 7 of these Petrels to the boat, where they were caught and ringed, on the night of June 21/22. The tape was used again on the next night, catching 4 more Petrels. On June 23 another boat off Hartland Point on the Devon coast caught and ringed 26 birds while boat trips around the Scillies found 30 on June 22 and more than 50 on June 23

Bittern: One reported at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on June 21 and one at Rye Harbour on June 23

Night Heron: One seen in flight over the Scillies on June 22

Cattle Egret: One at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on June 19

Little Egret: Still plenty of activity at Langstone Pond on June 22 - at least two juveniles seen at the water's edge

Grey Heron: 13 juveniles recently out of their nests were seen at Pulborough Brooks in June 25

Shelduck: When I was at the Budds Farm pools on June 20 I was pleased to see two adults and six juveniles after thinking that both breeding pairs had failed this year but the news is even better as on June 22 Jason Crook took a look at the pools and saw two families - one pair with nine ducklings and the other with three smaller ones. Also on June 22 when I was at the Hayling Oysterbeds I saw two Shelduck flying north over Bridge Lake, one of them very noticeably smaller than the other. I know there is a small size difference between the sexes but I was left with the impression that the smaller bird was a juvenile already fledged. Still quite a few adults with us - on June 23 Newtown Harbour on the IoW had 24 and Christchurch Harbour had 11

Gadwall: While at Budds Farm Pools on June 22 Jason Crook saw three pairs of Gadwall, each with a family of ducklings, and sometime between then and June 27 he saw a family group with 11 ducklings at Farlington Marshes.

Eider: Andy Johnson saw three in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on June 22 and remarked that they were summering there

Red-breasted Merganser: The male and female pair which have been seen in Southampton Water on June 9 and 13 were in the Hamble estuary off Warsash on June 23

Black Kite: On June 23 Nigel Jones saw one flying low south east over the Crampmoor Fish Farm a little east of Romsey (between the railway and the road to Hursley and Winchester)

Golden Plover: The first to be reported in the south since Apr 5 were four in the Scillies on June 24 and 5 at a Dutch site on June 27

Grey Plover: Quite a few stay here through the summer (e.g. around 40 seen near the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 7) but on June 22 one was seen at the Pennington Marshes (Lymington) in full summer plumage, suggesting the first bird to return from (attempted) breeding.

Lapwing: A flock of around 40 seen at Pagham Harbour on June 18 were reported as the first to return to our part of the coast. (Christchurch Harbour had 137 back on June 16)

Black-tailed Godwit: Local reports of non-breeding birds in our area this week have been 49 at Yarmouth (IoW) on June 20, 60 at Titchfield Haven on June 20, 14 at Lymington on June 22 and maybe the same flock of 14 at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 23. On June 27 a group of 6 at the Pagham North Walls included a colour ringed bird.

Spotted Redshank: These were back at five south coast sites this week, including a group of 5 at Brownsea Island (Poole Harbour) and a regular ccolour ringed bird at the Thorney Deeps - this individual is known to have been in Sweden within the past month.

Greenshank: I have only three reports of singles on the south coast in May and nine in June as they start to return from breeding

Green Sandpiper: Eight reports since June 23 including six birds at the Lower Test marshes on June 26

Wood Sandpiper: A total of 17 seen at one Dutch sites on June 27 with just two reports from southern England this week (singles at Dungeness and Lodmoor)

Common Sandpiper: This week reports of returning birds include one at Black Point on Hayling on June 25 with others seen at Farlington Marshes, Pagham Harbour and Lymington

Med Gull: A count of 48 at Badminston Common (New Forest) on June 24 suggests the start of post breeding dispersal

Black-headed Gull: On June 23 one juvenile was seen in Stoke Bay (adjacent to the south bund of the Hayling Oysterbeds) to show that the youngsters are now reaching the stage at which they will disperse from the gulleries where they hatched and may turn up anywhere along the harbour shores where their bright orange plumage easily separates them from the grey of the Med Gull juveniles that will also be seen soon. First actual report of a juvenile having flown some distance comes from the Weston Shore on Southampton Water on June 28

Yellow-legged Gull: One seen in the Northam area by the River Itchen in Southampton on June 26 was paired with a Lesser Blackback and both parents were feeding and protecting a hybrid chick

Gull-billed Tern: One seen in Holland on June 27

Arctic Tern: On June 24 one was seen mating with a Common Tern and then preparing a nest scrape at Lodmoor (Weymouth)

Black Tern: This species has been reported almost continuously since mid-April with no clear gap between arriving spring birds and departing autumn ones so I suspect that a small number of non-breeding birds are spending their summer in the English Channel and that a report of 16 of them at a Dutch site on June 27 may be of the small flock (estimated to be 15 birds) seen at Titchfield Haven on June 2.

Guillemot: By June 28 many of the breeding pairs had already left the breeding cliffs at Durlston and headed out to sea with their young. Most of the smaller number of Razorbills nesting there have also left.

Barn Owl: In June 2008 there were several sightings of one in the small triangular nest box mounted on a telgraph pole near the entrance to the North Common open space at Northney on Hayling Island. Since then a much bigger nest box has been put up elsewhere on that site but nevertheless when I was there in the afternoon of June 22 I could see not one but two Barn Owl heads within the box. I very much doubt that they are a breeding pair but I suppose they could be a couple of last year's young which have not mated this year and are still 'hanging out together'?

Swift: It seems likely that one or two pairs still have nest sites in or near the Manor Close area of Havant, bringing fairly regular sightings of between one and six birds which appear at any time of day - I suspect they come daily but I only see them on some days. On June 27 there were more than five over the Havant area and up to eight have been seen around Emsworth houses this week

Bee-eater: One was seen on the Pennington Marshes (Lymington) on June 21 and what may have been the same bird was over Portland on June 23

Sand Martin: On June 13 Dungeness reported the 'first of the autumn' passing over (8 birds) and on June 14 a group of nine birds flew in off the sea at Worthing (reluctant to leave?) with three turning up at Portland on June 16. At least one was over Budds Farm Pools here in Havant on June 20 and two were seen at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on June 22 when a total of around 30 flew south out to sea from the Selsey West Fields area. Latest reports are of ten over Portland on June 25 and more than 20 were over Durlston on June 27.

Grey Wagtail: A pair has probably bred in the Langstone area on the Langbrook stream and another pair has been seen in the Homewell spring area of central Havant where I saw a juvenile on June 27

Wheatear: The first departing bird was reported on the north coast of the Isle of Wight on June 12 and the second was at the Selsey West Fields on June 18. Two were seen in the Scillies on June 24

Mistle Thrush: One passing over Sandy Point on Hayling on June 22 was an unexpected rarity there.

Spotted Flycatcher: A bit of unexplained behaviour was reported on the SOS website on June 22. The bird was seen bathing (nothing unusual in that) but then it several times flew up and deliberately 'crashed into' the leaves of a Cherry Tree. The reporter asks if anyone can say why .. they suggest that the bird might have been using the leaves as 'towels' (seems unlikely) or might be disturbing insects from the leaves in order to catch them (surely they are able to pick the insects off the leaves without the disturbance). My guess would be that the bird was tryng to rid itself of parasites which were not dislodged by bathing.

Raven: On June 23 at Hurst beach (Lymington) Colin Allen watched a family group of five birds come within 30 feet of him.

Siskin: These are probably spreading in southern England as breeding birds with one garden in Crawley regularly seeing them coming to feeders since October of 2007 while a garden in the Bordon area of east Hampshire had its 'first ever' midsummer visitor on June 23

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

A single Red-veined Darter at Portland on June 23 and a couple of Golden Ringed dragonflies in Southampton on June 24 are the only report so far this week

Butterflies

30 species reported this week, including ...

Lulworth Skipper: First reported sighting at Durlston on June 28

Green-veined White: Summer brood now emerging nearly a month early

Small White: Summer brood now emerging also very early

Purple Hairstreak: First had been seen on June 6 but there was a general emergence on June 16 with reports by now from Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex (also one surprisingly caught in the lens of a TV camera as the butterfly walked across the grass at Wimbledon on June 25)

White Letter Hairstreak: Four reports out of eight so far have come from the Portsmouth area - first of year was at the North Harbour ex-IBM site on June 7, four were in Gosport (Carters Copse in the Alver valley) on June 18, and twelve (peak count so far) were in the MoD Defence Munitions site also in Gosport on June 21. Since I wrote that for my mid-week summary I have seen a report of 46 found in the Peartree Green area of Southampton on June 24 with another of 15 on the Sussex Downs at Firle near Lewes that day. Also on June 24 another visit to the ex-IBM site at Portsmouth found the number there had increased to 12

Small Copper: Summer brood starting to emerge in the Gosport area on June 23

Silver Studded Blue: Impressive numbers of 500+ at Iping Common near Midhurst on June 27.

White Admiral: These began to appear locally in the Hollybank Woods north of Emsworth on June 22 - the Hollybank Woods website has had a recent facelift and once more has regular news updates in its 'Blog' page at http://www.hollybank-woods.hampshire.org.uk/woodland_blog.html

Purple Emperor: The first of the year appeared in both Surrey and Sussex (Southwater near Horsham) on June 23 with the first for Hampshire seen in Alice Holt Forest near Farnham on June 24

Painted Lady: The first report of finding the young caterpillars of this butterfly came from the Keymer area near Brighton on June 21

Heath Fritillary: This species seems to be having a bumper year with a report of more than 1300 being seen in the Blean Woods at Canterbury (close to my old school!) on June 25

Gatekeeper: First reports for the year come from Gosport and Thorney Island on June 22 with Dungeness reporting its first on June 25 (by which time they were out in the Emsworth Hollybank Woods though no first date is given). I saw my first on Portsdown on June 26 when two were seen on Mill Hill at Shoreham.

Ringlet: The first was seen at Arundel on June 10 and by June 26 (when 132 were counted at the Bedelands site near Haywards Heath) they were widespread.

Moths

Six-belted Clearwing (0382 Bembecia scopigera): First at Portland on June 23

Gynnidomorpha luridana (0931): The first was at Portland on June 25 but when I looked it up on the UK Moths website there was no picture available and little info about the species but luckily Mike Wall's excellent Hants Moths website ( http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/ ) had a picture and background info.

Yellow-spot Twist (1011 Pseudargyrotosa conwagana): First in the Newhaven area on June 20

Green Oak Tortrix (1033 Tortrix viridana): A count of 135 in the Portland moth trap on the night of June 22 was exceptional

Common Marble (1076 Celypha lacunana): First in Newhaven area on June 20

Triple-strip Piercer (1241 Grapholita compositella): Found at Ardingly Reservoir near Haywards Heath on June 26

Calamotropha paludella (1292): First on June 24 at Woods Mill in the Adur valley

Catoptria pinella (1313): First on June 24 at Portland

Trachycera suavella (1438): First on June 25 at Dungeness

Thistle Ermine (1458 Myelois circumvoluta): First in Newhaven area on June 20

Assara terebrella (1461): First at Portland on June 22 - a long way from a Norway Spruce forest where this moth can cause damage to the trees when its caterpillars stunt too many of the tree cones

Plume Moth (1497 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla): Not a first (recorded near Lewes on Feb 21) but noted as a personal find (and probable identification) after finding a number of the moths around a Restharrow plant on Hayling by day on June 22

Twin-spot Plume (1508 Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla): First in the Newhaven area on June 20

White Horehound Plume Moth (1515 Pterophorus spilodactylus): First on June 24 at Rye Harbour

Oak Eggar (1637 Lasiocampa quercus): First on June 23 at Durlston

The Lappet (1642 Gastropacha quercifolia): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Buff Arches (1653 Habrosyne pyritoides): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Grass Emerald (1665 Pseudoterpna pruinata): First on June 23 at Portland

Sussex Emerald (1672 Thalera fimbrialis): First on June 22 at Dungeness

Satin Wave (1709 Idaea subsericeata): First on June 21 at Ambersham Common near Midhurst

Riband Wave (1713 Idaea aversata): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Oblique Carpet (1719 Orthonama vittata): First at Portland on June 21

Barred Straw (1758 Eulithis pyraliata): First on June 22 at Pulborough Brooks

Blue-bordered Carpet (1766 Plemyria rubiginata): First on June 24 at Woods Mill in the Adur Valley

Small White Wave (1875 Asthena albulata): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Peacock Moth (1889 Semiothisa notata): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Bordered Beauty (1907 Epione repandaria): First on June 22 at Pulborough Brooks

Lilac Beauty (1910 Apeira syringaria): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Scalloped Oak (1921 Crocallis elinguaria): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Brussels Lace (1945 Cleorodes lichenaria): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Brindled White-spot (1950 Ectropis extersaria): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Common White Wave (1955 Cabera pusaria): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Four more singles bringing this year's tally of reports to a miserly 16

The Vapourer (2026 Orgyia antiqua): First on June 24 at Woods Mill in the Adur valley

Round-winged Muslin (2035 Thumatha senex): First on June 24 at Woods Mill in the Adur valley

Red-necked Footman (2039 Atolmis rubricollis): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Scarce Footman (2047 Eilema complana): First on June 26 at Shoreham

Common Footman (2050 Eilema lurideola): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Kent Black Arches (2076 Meganola albula): First on June 24 at Woods Mill in the Adur valley

Sand Dart (2093 Agrotis ripae): First at Dungeness on June 19

Northern Rustic (2104 Standfussiana lucernea): First on June 23 at Portland

Ingrailed Clay (2120 Diarsia mendica): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Double Square-spot (2128 Xestia triangulum): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Grey Arches (2150 Polia nebulosa): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Dot Moth (2155 Melanchra persicariae): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Broom Moth (2163 Ceramica pisi): First on June 22 at Pulbroough Brooks

Striped Wainscot (2196 Mythimna pudorina): First on June 21 at Ambersham Common near Midhurst

Smoky Wainscot (2198 Mythimna impura): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Alder Moth (2281 Acronicta alni): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

The Coronet (2291 Craniophora ligustri): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Brown Rustic (2302 Rusina ferruginea): First on June 21 at 0621 Ambersham Common near Midhurst

Light Arches (2322 Apamea lithoxylaea): First on June 26 at Shoreham

Reddish Light Arches (2323 Apamea sublustris): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Clouded-bordered Brindle (2326 Apamea crenata): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

The Rustic (2382 Hoplodrina blanda): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Clancy's Rustic (2387a Platyperigea kadenii): First on June 25 at Portland

Green Silver-lines (2422 Pseudoips fagana): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19

Plain Golden Y (2443 Autographa jota): First on June 24 at Friston near Eastbourne

Pinion-streaked Snout (2484 Schrankia costaestrigalis): First on June 24 at Woods Mill in the Adur Valley

The Fan-foot (2489 Herminia tarsipennalis): First on June 26 at Shoreham

Olive Crescent (2495 Trisateles emortualis): First at Friston near Eastbourne on June 19 (38 of these rarities taken at Friston on a 'massive moth night' - June 24)

Other Insects

Large Crane Fly (Tipula maxima): A couple at Portland on June 21 were vagrants and I do not know if one in my Havant garden on June 23 was local or not

Summer Chafer (Amphimallon solsitialis): First report from Durlston on June 20

Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata): Probable id for brightly coloured insects seen in the Newhaven area on June 21

Glow-worm (Lampyris noctiluca): Three more were seen in Havant Thicket on the evening of June 20 - fourth report for the year and the first with more than one seen

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis): First report from the Eastbourne area on June 22

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Traveller's Joy (aka Old Man's Beard): Starting to flower on Portsdown on June 26

Field Pepperwort: A few plants found in compartment 9 (below Fort Widley) of Portsdown on June 24

Hairy St John's Wort: Flowering in the West Marden area on June 27

Strawberry Clover: This had just started to flower on north Hayling on June 22 with an especially fine show in the shore carpark area immediately southwest of Langstone Bridge (across the road from the one time Texaco garage)

Yellow vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca): First report from Durlston on June 22 - I believe this can still be found on Milton Common in Portsmouth (the only local site I know for it)

Goat's Rue: The white flowered plants were out at North Common (Northney) on Hayling on June 22 (a new colony has established itself well east of the original site in the big dip behind the blackberry bushes) and I suspect the blue flowered plants will now be flowering in the Oysterbeds carpark area.

Fragrant Agrimony: Flowering at North Common on Hayling on June 22

Pepper Saxifrage: Flowering at Durlston on June 27

Equal-leaved Knotgrass: First found in Havant on June 27

Bell Heather: Flowering in Gosport on June 23 (and presumably now out on the Hayling Golf Course across the road from The Kench)

Vervain: First flowers on Portsdown on June 26

Deadly Nightshade: First find in the West Marden area on June 27

Great Mullein: First seen at Northney (Hayling) on June 22 with another find on Portsdown on June 24

Basil Thyme: This lovely plant was flowering on Portchester Common (Portsdown) on June 26

Marjoram: Just about to flower in the Hayling Oysterbeds area on June 22 and a cluster well out on Portsdown on June 24

Nettle Leaved Bellflower: First found on Nore Down near West Marden on June 27

Hare Bell: A few of these lovely flowers already out on Portsdown on June 24

Clustered Bellflower: First found on Nore Down near West Marden on June 27

Squinancywort: Lots in flower on Portsdown on June 24

Small Scabious: First flowers on Portsdown on June 24

Sea Aster: Brian Fellows found a single early plant in flower at Newtown Harbour on the IoW on June 20 and I found another at Northney on Hayling on June 22 but no sign of general flowering yet.

Saw Wort: First reported at Durlston on June 27

Autumn Hawkbit: First found in Havant on June 27

Lesser Hawkbit: Plants flowering on Portsdown on June 24

Spotted Hawkweed (Hieracium maculatum): One plant flowering on Portsdown on June 24

Fragrant Orchid: Flowering at Noar Hill by June 21 (also 9 spikes found on Nore Down near West Marden on June 27)

Frog Orchid: Flowering at Noar Hill by June 21

Southern Marsh Orchid: This year's count of the plants on the Langstone South Moors found 4142 spikes on June 20. The results of the annual counts at this site vary greatly from as few as 333 in 1999 to 5561 in 2004 (and 6763 in 1995)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Mole: A photograph taken in Cornwall shows a Mole being eaten by a Herring Gull at a rock pool!

Common Dolphin: 30 seen from a boat off the Scillies on June 22 - also half a dozen Common Porpoise

Hare: One seen in woodland south of West Marden on June 27 (north end of Watergate Hanger at Oldhouse Lane)

Natterjack Toad: Christchurch Harbour reports an abundance of Natterjack tadpoles (no news of the colony at Woolmer near Alton)

Sunfish: Five of these unlikely looking fish (shaped like a large dinner plate balanced on its rim) seen during a boat trip off the Scillies on June 22 and two more seen next day. During the first trip a Blue Shark was also caught and tagged.


Summary for June 15 - 21 (Week 24 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Several bird species are starting to re-appear on the south coast as they leave nest areas and head south on autumn passage - this week we have news of Lapwing, Curlew, Whimbrel, Redshank, Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper along the south coast with a probable Osprey overhead. Best of these passage birds are Red-necked Phalaropes in Kent and at Titchfield Haven (maybe the same bird) and the claim that the bird at Titchfield is a male is unusual in that it is normally the females that are seen here in June as they take no responsibility for the upbringing of their young but leave that to the males. Another unexpected bird was a probable Woodchat Shrike seen in the New Forest and there are also reports of even more unlikely species - Smew and Red-breasted Goose. More credible is a report of a Fulmar flying out of Chichester Harbour after (just possibly) searching for a nest site on buildings in Chichester, and finally we have disproof of the notion that Swifts, if they fall to the ground, cannot get airborne again without human assistance.

The week has brought news of a rare migrant Lesser Emperor Dragonfly (of which Britain only gets one or two each year) among a total of 13 species on the wing including the first Keeled Skimmer and Brilliant Emerald. 34 butterfly species include the first White Admirals and Silver Washed Fritillaries plus the common Small Skippers and their Essex cousins. Here in Havant we have seen our first Marbled Whites and everywhere there seems to have been a recovery in Small Tortoiseshell numbers. 39 new moth species include the uncommon Dewick's Plusia by night as well as many 'black as soot' Chimney Sweepers by day. Also out in force is the colourful and easy to find Narrow-bordered Five Spot Burnet moth (even experts find difficulty in separating them from the regular Five Spot Burnets but those experts tell us that regular Five Spots are quite rare and can, in Hampshire, only be found at Martin Down). Among Other Insect news is an account of how a fly called Sturmia bella (first found in Britain as recently as 1998) has been killing off our Small Tortoiseshells without ever coming into direct contact with the butterflies.

Among common plants just starting to flower are Slender St John's Wort, Musk Mallow, Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil, Agrimony, Great Willowherb, both Sea Lavenders, Centaury and Yellow-wort, Wild Thyme, Heath and Ladies Bedstraw and Musk Thistle. More unusual finds this week have been Cushion Spurge, Bugloss, Sea Bindweed, Creeping Jenny, Yellow Loosestrife, Rough Clover, Spiny Restharrow, Pencilled Cranesbill, Trailing St John's Wort and Greater Celandine. Complaints against spraying of weedkiller on wild plants in the Havant Borough area have an echo in the near extinction by spraying of the rare Longleaf umbellifer in Kent, while at Fishbourne near Chichester the mowing of 80+ plants of Spiked Star of Bethlehem and 8 of Hairy Bindweed, all in full flower and with notices at the site intended to protect them, turns out to have been a deliberate act by some self-appointed vigilantes whose motives are unknown (and perhaps unfathomable)

Other Wildlife news includes info on Hedgehogs climbing walls and the news that a fungus that normally grows with Hornbeam trees can also be found with Hazel. Both Roe Deer and Water Vole have been seen out with their young.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Northern Diver: Sightings off Portland on June 15 and 16 must have been of a non-breeding bird.

Black-necked Grebe: A report of one at a Dutch site where up to six were present in March may indicate attempted breeding there - (one was there on May 8 and again on June 16)

Fulmar: Continuing the reports of Fulmars apparently seeking inland nest sites on Sussex buildings there was a sighting on June 13 of one exploring streets in Shoreham almost a mile from the sea and another sighting on June 14 of one flying south out of the mouth of Chichester Harbour which might indicate that one bird with social ambitions had been assessing the possibilities of finding an 'up market' nest site in Chichester.

Cattle Egret: One flew over the Brading Marshes (IoW) on May 14 - the first report anywhere on the south coast since May 24-26 when one was in the Pevensey Levels

Little Egret: By June 20 at least one of the juveniles at Langstone pond was flying competently above the nest area.

Mute Swan: On June 20 the pair which have nested at Budds Farm Pools in Havant had three cygnets on the water with just one parent. The Langstone Pond pair still had their six cygnets at the mouth of the Langbrook stream.

Red-breasted Goose: One flying north over a Dutch site on June 14 was probably an escape from captivity

Shelduck: Despite previously expressed fears that the Shelduck at Budds Farm had failed to raise young this year I found two broods of juveniles there on June 20 - a well grown group of four with no adult and a pair of adults with two smaller juveniles

Smew: A redhead of this species was seen by a reliable observer (Nigel Jones who currently runs the Ornitholidays travel firm) to fly from the Solent up the Beaulieu River on June 13 - sounds to me like an escapee returning home after a trip to the seaside.

Honey Buzzard: A sighting of one in mid-Sussex on June 14 caused me to check the latest Sussex Bird Report which tells us that four pairs breed in Sussex in 2007, each pair successfully raising two young.

Osprey: A probable seen over the Botley Woods (north of Fareham) on June 19 could be the first of the autumn passage.

Kestrel: There have been plenty of accounts of Kestrels mugging Barn Owls in the hope of stealing the prey the owl was carrying but an observation at Waltham Brooks (close to Pulborough Brooks) on June 15 shows how some Kestrels have perfected this technique of getting food. Phil Muzzall describes wrote on the SOS website .. "On an evening visit to Waltham Brooks I spotted a Barn Owl quartering the area hunting. As it slowly approached, I sat on the path to be out of its line of sight. At about 10m distance it dropped to the ground; at the same time a Kestrel flew over and perched on a nearby tree. As the Barn Owl took off with a small mammal in its right claw, the Kestrel reappeared, inverted itself underneath it and snatched the catch away - a privilege to observe."

Quail: Just two reports, both on June 16 when two were present at Sandwich Bay and another two at Tarrant Rushton airfield in Dorset

Common Crane: Two were at Pulborough Brooks on the evening of June 14 but flew south next morning

Avocet: On June 18 five juveniles at Rye Harbour were said to have fledged and on June 20 the juveniles were difficult to pick out among the adults at Titchfield Haven (the overall count of 26 there is one less than the 23 adults + 4 juvs reported on June 7)

Lapwing: A count of 137 at Christchurch Harbour on June 16 is the first sign of a mass return of these birds to the coast after breeding - these were probably failed or non breeders. Interestingly, when I was at the Gipsies Plain (south of Havant Thicket) on June 15 I could not see any sign of the pairs which have been breeding there and which are reported to have had two downy youngsters as recently as June 11 - maybe the young were taken by predators (Foxes, Kestrels, Buzzards all in the area) and the parents had left much earlier than expected?

Whimbrel: The Dungeness RSPB site reported on June 16 that 21 Whimbrel had been seen there 'recently' - at this date these are probably now heading back south

Curlew: On June 21 a flock of 19 on the Weston shore of Southampton Water was said to be the first big influx since the spring - with them was the first returning Redshank for that site

Spotted Redshank: Between June 14 and 16 singles were reported at three sites in Kent and one (Poole Harbour) in Dorset. On June 18 there were two new arrivals at Sandwich Bay in full summer plumage and on June 19 one was seen at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour

Green Sandpiper: More of these seen this week - on June 16 the first of the autumn was at the Eversley Gravel Pits on the Hants/Berks border and 4 were at Sandwich Bay with 3 over the channel in Holland, and on June 17 one was at Hook near Warsash. June 18 found 8 present in the Kent Stour Valley

Red-necked Phalarope: First of the autumn was in the Kent Stour Valley on June 18 followed by one which spent the day at Titchfield Haven on June 20. I was surprised to hear this one was reported as a male as it is much more usual for females to be the first to be seen in Britain in the autumn. I have always understood that, having laid the eggs, the females move on and leave the males to do all the incubation and other work of raising the young - this is not just laziness but a way of allowing one female to mate with several males and lay eggs in several nests before she heads south.

Black-headed Gull: A report of many gulls in the air over Horsham town on June 18 may well have been the result of the first mating flight of the summer by ants - these flights always attract a crowd of hungry gulls.

Cuckoo: 'Singing' birds still to be heard on June 14 at Pulborough Brooks and on June 16 at the Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire

Swift: On June 14 one crashed into a parked car in a Horsham street (outside houses where several pairs have nests) but managed to get airborne again unaided after recovering from the shock.

Bee Eater: A couple of reports of these on the move just across the channel could presage the arrival of some in this country. We did have eight reports of sightings in southern England between May 1 and 26 but none here since then

Sand Martin: The 'first of the autumn' were reported at Dungeness on June 13 and since then I have noted three reports of birds away from breeding sites (including a few at Budds Farm in Havant on June 20, giving me the first I have personally seen this year and bringing my paltry year list up to 124 species)

Nightingale: These have normally ceased singing by early June but four were still singing at the Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire on June 16 and one was heard in the Botley Woods (north of Fareham) on June 20

Garden Warbler: Three reports of these still singing in mid June - one in the Thanet area of Kent on June 15, another at the Arlington reservoir in Sussex on June 16 (where a Willow Warbler was also heard), with the third in the Botley Woods on June 20

Wood Warbler: One of these (and several Firecrests) were singing in the New Forest on June 14

Firecrest: Last week, when I reported hearing probable Firecrest song at Fishbourne near Chichester, I said I was unfamiliar with the song of this species. This week Lee Evans has suggested, on HOSLIST, that the best place in Hampshire to hear these birds is Jubilee Grove in the Bolderwood area of the New Forest. Lee goes on to say .. "There is a designated car park where two roads meet which is best accessed from Lyndhurst about 2.5 miles NW on the Stoney Cross - Bolderwood road. Park here and either explore the trackside conifers and Holly scrub that lead down to the Badger and Deer Watchpoint or the tall Douglas Firs that border the road as far SW as the house entrance. Firecrests number up to 25 singing males here but beware too of many Goldcrests. With experience, it is very easy to separate the two species on call. The Firecrest sound is less ringing, slightly lower in tone but more direct and finishes evenly and without an upslurred inflection. The call note is rather piping. In my experience, males sing throughout the season, from early April through to mid July."

Bearded Tit: It would seem that these have had a good breeding season - at the Farlington Marshes lake on June 16 Jason Crook and others had close views of at least 22 (including several juveniles) with some 'high flying'.

Golden Oriole: Yet another sighting in Kent - this time of a female at Sandwich Bay on June 16

Woodchat Shrike: While cycling along the Lyndhurst Road just north east of Burley in the New Forest on June 14 Simon Woolley saw a bird fly across the road in front of him and says that if he had been on the continent he would have unhesitatingly noted it as a Woodchat Shrike but here in Britain he cautiously reports it as a probable Woodchat Shrike!

Serin: One arrived at Portland Bill on June 18 and was still there on June 20

Corn Bunting: One was singing at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on June 14

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Thirteen species get a mention in this weeks news, including ...

Lesser Emperor Dragonfly: A 'possible' had been reported at Pagham Harbour on May 26 but there has now been a definite report of one at Sandwich Bay on June 16 (said to be only the second ever seen at that site). This species was not known in Britain until 1996 but is now a rare annual visitor and it has bred in Cornwall.

Golden Ringed Dragonfly: One at Ringmer near Lewes on June 14 was the second report I have seen this year - first was at Hookheath (north foot of Portsdown) on June 3

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica): First for the year at Warnham Pond (Horsham) on June 14

Keeled Skimmer: Another first for the year seen in the New Forest on June 14

White Legged Damselfly: One had been seen in the Rye area on May 22 (when we were told that this species was now called 'Blue Featherleg') but I have seen no more reports until June 14 when they were seen in the New Forest and in the Horsham area

Butterflies

34 species mentioned in this week's reports

Small Skipper: These have now joined the Large Skippers on the wing (first seen in Kent on June 7 then a more general emergence in Sussex on June 14)

Essex Skipper: First to be reported this year were some at Dungeness on June 14

White-letter Hairstreak: Three were seen on June 14 on the very few English Elms that have survived Dutch Elm disease in Preston Park at Brighton (first of year had been at the IBM North Harbour site in Portsmouth on June 7). Four were found in the Gosport area on June 18 with another four on June 19 in what may be a new site in the Cuckmere Valley (East Sussex)

Silver-studded Blue: 108 were seen during a visit to Iping Common near Midhurst on June 16

White Admiral: First of the year were out on June 16 with reports from Gosport in the south of Hampshire and Ashford Hill in the north (earliest ever there), followed by one at Ringmer near Lewes on June 17 (first for Sussex) . June 18 brought one in the Southwater Park near Horsham and four at a New Forest site.

Small Tortoiseshell: Things seem to be looking up for this species with 17 reports since the summer brood started to appear on June 2, building up to a count of 21 during single walk on the Sussex Downs on June 19 (see also my notes below - in Other Insects - on the parasitic fly Sturmia bella which is believed to be the main cause of decline in Small Tortoiseshell numbers)

Dark Green Fritillary: After the first had been seen on June 11 near Eastbourne one was on the Downs near Lewes on June 14 and six were seen in the Beachy Head area on June 16

Silver Washed Fritillary: The very first was in the Rother woods north of Hastings on June 10 followed by three sightings on June 14 (Botley Woods near Fareham, Southwater near Horsham, and Ringmer near Lewes). By June 16 and 17 these lovely butterflies were becoming plentiful and on June 19 a dozen had been seen within twenty minutes in Botley Woods.

Marbled White: The very first had been seen near Winchester on June 4 with another at Shoreham on June 10 before they appeared more generally on June 14. The first local sightings were on June 16 when one was at the Hayling Oysterbeds and more than 10 were seen on Portsdown.

Moths

Five-spot Burnet (0170 Zygaena trifolii palustrella): First report from Sandwich Bay on June 17

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet (0171 Zygaena lonicerae): The first of these has already been reported in the Gosport area on June 7 and 41 were seen in north Hampshire on June 8. By June 16 107 were found in the Gosport area and on June 18 a large number were out on the Langstone South Moors. Although it is difficult even for an expert to distinguish them from the regular Five-spot that species is now quite rare (in Hampshire you are only likely to find it at Martin Down) whereas the Narrow-bordered species is common (especially at sites away from chalk).

Eidophasia messingiella (0469): First in Kent (Thanet) on June 10

Juniper Webber (0862 Dichomeris marginella): One of these was seen earlier than expected on June 12 in the Ashdown Forest area

Common Yellow Conch (0937 Agapeta hamana): First in the Newhaven area on June 14

Large Tabby (1421 Aglossa pinguinalis): What ws probably this species (reported as a Long-legged Tabby) was at Rye Harbour on June 13

The Lackey (1634 Malacosoma neustria): First report from Durlston on June 16

Common Lutestring (1657 Ochropacha duplaris): First at Dungeness on June 13

Large emerald (1666 Geometra papilionaria): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

Blotched Emerald (1667 Comibaena bajularia): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

Rosy Wave (1691 Scopula emutaria): First at Dungeness on June 13

Small Dusty Wave (1707 Idaea seriata): First in Ashdown Forest area on June 12

Treble Brown Spot (1711 Idaea trigeminata): First in Ashdown Forest area on June 12 or a few days earlier

Galium Carpet (1740 Epirrhoe galiata): First in the Newhaven area on June 14

Purple Bar (1752 Cosmorhoe ocellata): First in Ashdown Forest area on June 12 or a few days earlier

Barred Yellow (1765 Cidaria fulvata): First in the Gosport area on June 12

Sharp-angled Carpet (1794 Euphyia unangulata): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

Haworth's Pug (1813 Eupithecia haworthiata): First at Dungeness on June 12

Netted Pug (1823 Eupithecia venosata): First in Sheffield Park (Ashdown Forest) on June 12

Lesser Treble-bar (1868 Aplocera efformata): First in Newhaven area on June 14

Chimney Sweeper (1870 Odezia atrata): First report for the year was of several in the Mayfield area near Crowborough on June 14

Swallow-tailed Moth (1922 Ourapteryx sambucaria): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

Great Oak Beauty (1943 Boarmia roboraria): First in Ashdown Forest on June 12

Grey Scalloped Bar (1969 Dyscia fagaria): First in the New Forest on June 14

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): One at Storrington near Pulborough on June 14 was only the elventh report I have seen so far this year. On June 16 another was seen in Ropley near Alton

The Flame (2098 Axylia putris): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

True Lover's Knot (2118 Lycophotia porphyrea): First at Portland on June 16

Small Ranunculus (2165 Hecatera dysodea): First in the Thanet area of Kent on or before June 16

Varied Coronet (2170 Hadena compta): First in the Thanet area of Kent on or before June 16

Marbled Coronet (2171 Hadena confusa): First in the Ashdown Forest area on June 12

Shore Wainscot (2201 Mythimna litoralis): First at Rye Harbour on June 13

Obscure Wainscot (2204 Mythimna obsoleta): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

The Shark (2216 Cucullia umbratica): First in the Ashdown Forest area on June 12

Black Rustic (2232 Aporophyla nigra): First at Durlston on June 16

Bird's Wing (2301 Dypterygia scabriuscula): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

Dark Arches (2321 Apamea monoglypha): First report is of 'many' at Rye Harbour on June 13

Dewick's Plusia (2436 Macdunnoughia confusa): First of this rarity at Hythe near Folkestone on June 13

The Blackneck (2466 Lygephila pastinum): First in the Gosport area on June 10

The Four-spotted (2465 Tyta luctuosa): First at Portland on June 19

Beautiful Hook-tip (2473 Laspeyria flexula): First at Pulborough Brooks on June 17

Moth/Butterfly Larvae (9998): Mullein moth caterpillars are getting ready to pupate but that does not mean they will soon be on the wing as moths - this species can spend up to five years in the pupal stage. There are also many batches of Peacock caterpillars now to be seen on nettles but at Magdalen Hill Down (at least 15 batches there) there are also the parasitic Sturmia bella flies (see below)

Other Insects

Sturmia bella: This is a Tachinid fly which was not found in Britain until 1998 (first found in Hampshire) and is currently reported as present on Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester. It lays eggs on nettle leaves, which are unwittingly consumed by feeding caterpillars. The eggs hatch and develop within the caterpillars as they grow, ultimately killing the host. In Britain, there have been records of these parasitoids attacking both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, as well as some other butterflies whose caterpillars feed on nettles. For more detail visit www.learnaboutbutterflies.com

Common Wasp: The sight of an active Wasp nest in the ground is very uncommon nowadays but one was seen at Mill Hill near Shoreham on June 14

Stag Beetles: A female Lesser Stag beetle was a new species for the Rye Harbour site when it was found on June 21. This week has also given me a sighting of a female Stag Beetle on the pavement of the busy Emsworth Road in Havant (I did my best to dissuade her from attempting to cross the road but she probably did so late after I had left!). On June 12 a male was seen in Gosport climbing a house wall to get high enough to take off without immediately crashing into low vegetation.

Glow-worm: Just one seen in Parkhurst Forest on the IoW on June 14

Field Cricket (Gryllus campestris): First report of these for the year come from Iping Common near Midhurst on June 16

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Greater Celandine: First of these to be seen this year was found flowering in the Compton/Up Marden area on June 15

Annual Wall-rocket: First sight of this in flower was in the Sandy Point area of Hayling on June 16

Sea rocket (Cakile maritima): First sight of this in flower was in the Sandy Point area of Hayling on June 16

Tutsan: First flowers seen in Havant on June 15

Slender St John's wort (Hypericum pulchrum): The first of these pretty flowers were out at Havant Thicket on June 15

Trailing St John's wort (Hypericum humifusum): First flowers seen at Havant Thicket on June 15

Musk Mallow: First flowers seen at Langstone on June 20

Pencilled cranesbill (Geranium versicolor): On June 15 I was very surprised to see that a couple of plants of this were flowering where I had seen them last year, among dead grass and a few weeds in a part of Havant Bus Station where a tiny strip of soil is surrounded by kerb stones the separate bus bays.

Least Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis exilis): This had started to flower in Langstone on May 25 but I have not heard of any more until Brian Fellows found some in Emsworth on June 19

Spiny Rest-harrow: Some found with the commoner species at Sandy Point, Hayling, on June 16

Rough clover (Trifolium scabrum): Found at two places in the Sandy Point area of Hayling on June 16 and also on the north pier of the old rail bridge at Langstone on June 20

Hare's Foot Clover: Flowering at Sandy Point on Hayling on June 16

Clustered Clover (Trifolium glomeratum): A colony of this which had been discovered in the Havant area in 2007 was still present on June 17 when it had all gone to seed.

Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil: First flowers found on June 15 on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket

Field Rose: First seen in flower on June 15 on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket

Agrimony: First flowers seen in Portsdown on June 14

Great Willowherb: First flowers seen in Emsworth on June 17

Sea spurge: Flowering in the Sandy Point area of Hayling on June 16

Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma): I have only seen this previously alongside the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth where it was probably deliberately planted (or at least thrown out from one of the gardens just across the road) but a single plant on waste ground in an industrial estate was unlikely to have been a deliberate planting - found on the waste ground beside Southmoor Lane in Havant immediately north of Penner Road on June 20

Knotted Hedge Parsley: On June 20 I was pleased to find that some was still present at the Langstone South Moors site on the bank of the Langbrook Stream immediately north of the second gate giving access to the Moors from Mill Lane.

Longleaf (Falcaria vulgaris): This rare umbellifer is unlikely to be found in Hampshire (mostly found in East Anglia) but does occur in the Thanet area of Kent. On June 14 an entry on the Planet Thanet website makes a common complaint against the local council for spraying the plants with weedkiller - luckily some have survived.

Sea Knotgrass (Polygonum maritimum): On June 16 I found a fair number of these plants (around 40) with fresh leaves and incipient flowers on the shingle east of the Sandy Point nature reserve (their only Hampshire site) but also saw up to 20 plants with no sign of life

Russian Vine: This rampant escape is now flowering in the Billy Trail behind my house in Havant

Sea Lavender: Both Common and Lax Sea Lavender were just starting to flower in the saltings below the seawal passing Langstone pond on June 20

Yellow Loosestrife: Genuine wild plants (not the Dotted Loosestrife now to be seen in gardens) was flowering in the Gipsies Plain area south of Havant Thicket on June 15

Creeping Jenny: Also flowering for the first time this year on the Gipsies Plain area south of Havant Thicket on June 15

Common Centaury: First report of flowering from Durlston on June 16, then out at a couple of Hayling sites on June 16. Widespread by the end of this week.

Yellow-wort: First sighting was by Brian Fellows on Portsdown on June 14, followed by a report from Durlston on June 15 and anothe find by Brian Fellows at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 16

Sea Bindweed: In full flower on the sand of the Hayling shore near Black Point on June 16

Blue water speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica): Plants found flowering in the Fishbourne village area near Chichester by Brian Fellows on June 11 and 13 have been accepted by the Sussex Plant Recorder as examples of the true species (not the common hybrid)

Red Bartsia (or Red Rattle): First report of flowering from Brook Meadow at Emsworth on June 19

Wild Thyme: This was flowering on Portsdown on June 14

Black Horehound: First flowers found in the Hayling Oysterbeds area on June 16

Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis): Flowering at the Black Point sailing club on Hayling on June 16

Ivy Broomrape: Flowering in the Thanet area of Kent on June 14 - the yellow form may well now be on show at Portchester (Fareham) and the normal plants could be surviving the reconstruction of the Tesco store in Havant.

Greater Plantain: Some plants in the Havant area had flower spikes on June 15

Heath Bedstraw: First report of this came from the Gipsies Plain (Havant Thicket) on June 16

Ladies Bedstraw: First flowers in Havant Eastern Road cemetery on June 15

Musk Thistle: First flowers found on Portsdown by Brian Fellows on June 14

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A pod of around 30 were off the east Dorset coast this week, the first sightings from the shore that I have seen since two were off Selsey on May 2. Prior to that there had been several Dorset sightings in Feb and March ending with a group of around 10 (including two youngsters) off Selsey Bill on Mar 28

Roe Deer: This year's young have been seen both on the north Hayling fields and in the Up Marden area

Hedgehog: Brian Fellows was delighted to find one in his Emsworth garden on June 17 (they have become very scarce in recent years and it has even become unusual to find road casualties). Brian wonders how the creature got into his garden which has high walls around it and this reminded me of a similar garden in the North End area of Portsmouth where I was shown a garden shed under which a Hedgehog sow had given birth to her young - the owner of the property told me the adult Hedgehog had no difficulty in climbing the wall, using her claws as 'crampons', on regular nightly foraging trips (I believe the average Hedgehog covers several kilometres each night, visiting many gardens en route). Getting down from the walls was even easier - the animal just turned itself into a ball and jumped off!

Water Vole: Sightings in the River Ems at Brook Meadow this week include at least two young animals - hopefully there are a lot more than two present.

Fungi: Although autumn is the main season for seeing fungi there are species to be found throughout the year and the current warm weather plus some rain brings up a good show. Last week there was a Stinkhorn 'egg' to be seen in a Langstone garden and that has almost certainly 'fruited' by now. In Emsworth a good show of large Dryad's Saddles has appeared and in my own garden I discovered one that I have not seen there before - a Milkcap called Lactarius circellatus which is normally found in association with Hornbeam trees. I was very doubtful of my identification until I found a webpage www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk which says that the species can also be found with Corylus avellana (Hazel) and my specimen is at the foot of a large Hazel tree


Summary for June 8 - 14 (Week 23 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Locally the most exciting bird news is the fledging of the first Little Egrets to leave their nests but on a wider screen we have several signs that autumn passage has already started (maybe part of it were two Little Ringed Plovers seen in the Havant Thicket area)

Insect News has three new dragonfly species and five new butterfly species (giving us a total of 30 species seen during the week - highest count so far). We have the usual list of first sightings of moth species but we also have an enigma in the discovery of a hungry horde of 20 Lackey Moth caterpillars in a tree that showed no sign of nibbling and had no silk tent to protect them. The first Scorpion Fly has been seen along with the first of the large hoverflies (Volucella pelluscens).

Plant News also has a 'who dun it' mystery - the day after I saw two eye-catching plant species that I had never seen before (Spiked Star of Bethlehem and Hairy Bindweed), and which were growing in a 'protected' wildlfower verge, all of them (nearly 100 individual plants) were cut down with a strimmer (possibly just a case of ignorance and vandalism but possibly the result of a bureaucratic agreement over the management of the site which e.g. allowed for strimming any time after the end of May). Luckily our local rarity (Hairy Vetchling) has started to flower with no such death threat (though I hear that Havant Borough's current passion for sowing wildflower seed has been extended to the adornment of 'Budds Mound' above Budds Farm Pools - it will soon be difficult to establish the authenticity of any unusual plant found in the borough)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: A Great Northern flew past Portland on June 7 and a Red-throated was seen there on June 9

Sooty Shearwater: Four were seen in the North Sea from Spurn Point (mouth of River Humber in Yorkshire) on June 6 - second report I have seen this year after one in Poole Bay on May 17

Cormorant: Fishermen in Britain often call for a cull of Cormorants but I think there may be more justification for reducing their numbers over on the continent - on June 12 one Dutch site recorded 1226 Cormorants flying over North East with another 134 going South West

Bittern: One was still present at Rye Harbour on June 12, and on June 13 at least one was booming in the Kent Stour valley

Little Egret: On June 13 I had definite proof that some of the juveniles at Langstone Pond had fledged - one youngster with a 'punk hairstyle', drab plumage and a pale bill was sitting openly on a branch of the tree on the island in the pond, not far from a nest in that tree, and at least three other juveniles could be seen either out of their nests or 'jumping up and down, wing flapping' in nests. I estimate there have been at least thirteen nests here this year (probably more). The other breeding colony in the Chichester Harbour area (Oldpark Wood near Bosham) is said to have 14 nests this year (more than the Grey Herons which only have 12).

Grey Heron: Several sites have reported small numbers of Herons making long flights this week - maybe failed breeders dispersing from Heronries?

Mute Swan: A summer flock of at least 200 birds is currently to be seen at the head of the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester when the tide is high - they were seen on June 11 and 13 but there have been no reports of the breeding pair in this area which in the past have had up to six cygnets with them by this time of year.

Brent Goose: A small number of summering birds were seen in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on June 13

American Black Duck: Still present at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall on June 10 (arrived May 24)

Pochard: No doubt some have bred in Hamsphire this year (nine pairs probably bred in the county in 2007) and June 9 brought news of 5 broods of young at Oare Marshes (Faversham in north Kent)

Merganser: A few non breeding birds spend the summer in Hampshire but a report of a male + female pair in Southampton Water on June 9 is intriguing - the more so as the pair was still there on June 13. Goosanders do breed in or near Hampshire but I have no knowledge of Mergansers doing so.

Black Kite: I have noted 20 reports of Black Kites in southern England this year, seemingly a noticeable increase on past years, and June 11 brought another (very probable) sighting from the area near Ower to the west of Southampton.

Sparrowhawk: I associate this species with hunting prey on the wing but I see that on June 7 one took two Gull chicks from the ground at the Hayling Oysterbeds.

Osprey: One flew over Titchfield Common near Fareham on June 7 (going south east rather than north)

Hobby: On May 3 the Kent Stour Valley reported a total of 37 Hobbies and I expressed the opinion that this was probably a newly arrived flock which had banded together for company on migration and which would soon disperse to separate breeding territories but a report of 32 Hobbies in the same area on June 13 suggests otherwise - maybe a lot of non-breeding birds or perhaps birds travelling some distance to a place where the feeding is good?

Quail: One was flushed from downland in the Seaford area of Sussex on June 5 and another was calling at Oare Marshes (north Kent) on June 13 - so far I have only heard of them at eight sites in southern England this year so we are unlikely to have a 'Quail year'

Little Ringed Plover: Two were seen on the Gipsies Plain grassland south of Havant Thicket on June 11 - I have never heard of them here before and can only assume they were failed breeders elsewhere dropping in as they head south

Little Stint: Two were seen at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on June 6 and one in summer plumage was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on June 13. The Lodmoor bird is probably the same that has been at Ferrybridge since at least May 12 but the Dungeness birds may be failed breeders already on autumn passage

Woodcock: Of local interest four were roding in the West Walk woods near Wickham in the Meon valley on the evening of June 12

Black-tailed Godwit: There were an estimated 300 European race birds at Oare Marshes in north Kent on June 7 and an estimated 500 there on June 11. Reports of what I assume are Icelandic non breeding birds this week come from Pulborough (15 at Waltham Brooks on June 9), Hook/Warsash (91 on June 10), Yarmouth IoW (50 on June 10). In Dorset on June 10 there were 23 at Lodmoor (Weymouth) and 11 at Brownsea Island.

Whimbrel: Around 12 were near the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 7 - possibly the very last passage birds?

Curlew: The first of these are now returning from breeding areas - Christchurch Harbour reported one going west on June 12 and 17 following it on June 13 when 'the first for some time' was seen at Southampton Water and four flew west over north Kent.

Green Sandpiper: One at Avington Lake (Itchen valley north east of Winchester) on June 2 may have been the first 'autumn passage' bird and one in the Kent Stour Valley on June 4 was regarded there as their first autumn bird. By June 9 there were 3 seen at the Dungeness RSPB reserve and on June 10 one was seen flying west along the north Kent coast and Hampshire had its first since Apr 15 at the Testwood Lakes (Southampton area)

Common Sandpiper: One at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on June 13 was the first reported in southern England for a month and was almost certainly on autumn passage.

Black-headed Gull: On the evening of June 9 more than 3000 of these gulls were seen streaming south through Christchurch Harbour with many of them still to be seen in the harbour next day - it was suggested that this might be the result of massive disturbance causing the break up of a breeding colony.

Herring Gull: Although I have not yet found proof of nesting on industrial units in the West Leigh area of north Havant I have long suspected it and had further potential evidence for it at dusk on June 13 when (at around 21:45) I watched half a dozen flying inland over my garden - normally gulls which have been foraging inland during the day would have flown south by that time of day to spend the night in the safety of the harbours and the only reason I can think of for the birds going inland when it was almost dark was if they were returning to nests after feeding in the harbours.

Kittiwake: A count of the nests on the cliffs in the Newhaven area on June 10 recorded 109 nests - a slight increase on 103 recorded in 2008

Common Tern: The first chicks hatched at the Hayling Oysterbeds (where 35 pairs are nesting) on June 7

Little Tern: On June 8 Chris Cockburn (Langstone Harbour RSPB warden) reported 40 pairs currently nesting on the RSPB islands where the first chicks have hatched. Also on June 8 there was news from Rye Harbour that the few birds there (9 reported on May 3) had all failed to nest. No further news from Pagham Harbour since May 26 when 3 pairs were nesting there.

Black Tern: One was seen at Dungeness on June 9 and one was at Hook/Warsash on June 10

Ring-necked Parakeet: Outside the massive population in the London area I am only aware of two established colonies, both very small. One is in the Thanet area of Kent, the other at Swanage in Dorset and five birds of this colony were seen at Durlston on June 10

Barn Owl: One was seen to catch a vole at the Kench in south Hayling on June 6 - presumably one of a pair that seems to be based in that area (and may possibly nest in one of the nest boxes on poles to be seen in the Golf Course).

Little Owl: One or two were reported intermittently in January and March this year in the Stoke Common area west of the Hayling Oysterbeds and they may have bred successfully as I hear from Brian Fellows that there have been several recent sightings in the northernmost field on the east side of the Hayling Coastal Path.

Nightjar: Three were churring in the West Walk Woodland (near Wickham in the Meon Valley) on the evenign of June 12

Swift: I occasionally see one over Havant leading me to assume that one pair is still nesting here but on the evening of June 13 the single bird came over in the dusk, followed at a short distance by six others in a tight flock - maybe the latter are birds that will breed for the first time next year and are now checking out potential nest sites (none of the usual screaming from these birds - perhaps an indication that they could not see any 'desireable nest sites' worth shouting about?)

Great Spotted Woodpecker: One was seen feeding on a road kill somewhere in Hampshire on June 8 and the observer expresed surprise at this choice of food but since then Mike Wearing has told us of seeing similar 'meat eating' by Woodpeckers on the continent.

Wheatear: The presence of a female at Thorness Bay (north coast of Isle of Wight) on June 12 suggests that these have started to move south as I am not aware of any Wheatears breeding on the Island (or at least not on the north coast) and there have been no reports of the species on the Island since a Greenland bird was reported passing through at the Bembridge RSPB reserve on May 23

Mistle Thrush: A pair with five juveniles was seen on the Gipsies Plain (south of Havant Thicket) on June 11

Firecrest: See my diary entry for June 12 for my description of what I think was Firecrest song heard in the Fishbourne area near Chichester that day

Marsh Tit: It is not too many years since Willow Tits bred in Stansted Forest - they are no longer to be found there and Marsh Tit numbers have also declined but at least one Marsh Tit was still there on June 8

Tree Creeper: One seen in Stansted Forest on June 8 carrying food for young.

Golden Oriole: Another late arrival in southern England was heard singing at Sandwich Bay on June 12 before flying on north.

Carrion Crow: The regular flock in the Weston Shore area of Southampton Water numbered 160 on June 13 - last year there were 250 there in August and in 2005 there were 320 in October

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: First for the year was in Stansted Forest on June 8 - these are not usually seen until nearer the end of June

Brown Hawker: First of year at Rye Harbour on June 13

Gold Ringed Dragonfly: Another local first for the year with one at the Hookheath nature reserve by the Wallington River (north foot of Portsdown) on June 3

Red Veined Darter: These long distance migrants might be seen anywhere and one was seen on June 7 near Nelson's monument at the west end of Portsdown

Butterflies

30 species reported this week

Small Skipper: First of the year seen on June 7 in the Folkestone area with one at Dungeness on June 9

Clouded Yellow: A pristine male seen on the north Kent coast on June 11 was the fifteenth report for this year and was probably a newly arrived migrant but Clouded Yellows have now established several resident breeding colonies in southern England (particularly in Dorset) and this might be an emergence from such a colony in Kent (if there is one!)

Purple Hairstreak: First of year at Pulborough Brooks on June 6 - the report said .. "A beautiful male Purple Hairstreak was a very welcome visitor to our centre at RSPB Pulborough Brooks on during our Springwatch event. The butterfly flew through our open doors and settled on our picture window, before we gently escorted it off the premises and onto a nearby oak tree. Lots of people managed to get great close up views of a butterfly which I've only seen fluttering around high up in the tree canopy before."

White Hairstreak: One seen at the IBM site at North Harbour in Portsmouth on June 7 was first for the year and especially pleasing since IBM have relinguished control of this site and the new management has abandoned the wildlife friendly approach to site management.

Duke of Burgundy: Five were still on the wing at the late date of June 11 at a private site on the Sussex Downs

Painted Lady: On June 5 an observer on the Cote D'Azur in southern France noted thousands more coming across the Mediterranean and by June 8 this second wave had begun to reach southern England with 25+ at Portland

Comma: One seen at Fishbourne near Chichester on June 13 was the first to be reported anywhere since May 31and was probably the first of this summer's new brood rather than a survivor of last year's generation

Dark Green Fritillary: Definitely the first of the year was seen in the Windover Hill area north of Eastbourne on June 11

Marbled White: The first for Sussex was in the Shoreham area on June 10 (one had been seen at Magdalen Hill Down in Hampshire on June 4)

Ringlet: First for the year seen in Rewell Wood near Arundel on June 10

Moths

Gold Swift (0016 Hepialus hecta): First seen at Bordon in east Hampshire on June 5

Eudonia pallida (1336): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Pyla fusca (1451): First of the year at Bordon in east Hampshire on June 5

Figure of Eighty (1654 Tethea ocularis): First at Dungeness on June 9

Satin Lutestring (1656 Tetheella fluctuosa): First of the year at Bordon in east Hampshire on June 5

Grey Pine Carpet (1768 Thera obeliscata): First of the year at Bordon in east Hampshire on June 5

Currant Pug (1832 Eupithecia assimilata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Narrow-winged Pug (1846 Eupithecia nanata angusta): First at Portland on June 11

Green Pug (1860 Pasiphila rectangulata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Rannoch Looper (1896 Itame brunneata): At least 8 more found in Kent on June 9 and 10

Willow Beauty (1937 Peribatodes rhomboidaria): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Mottled Beauty (1941 Alcis repandata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Pale Oak Beauty (1944 Serraca punctinalis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Bordered White (1954 Bupalus piniaria): First of the year at Bordon in east Hampshire on June 5

Barred Red (1962 Hylaea fasciaria): First at Dungeness on June 9 (third record for the site)

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Four more records for the year list - two at Portland, one at Dungeness and another somewhere in Sussex - all between June 7 and 10

Four-dotted Footman (2040 Cybosia mesomella): First for the year (and fourth for the site) at Dungeness on June 7

Clouded Buff (2059 Diacrisia sannio): First in the New Forest near Lymington on June 7

Water Ermine (2062 Spilosoma urticae): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Scarlet Tiger (2068 Callimorpha dominula): First of year had been seen at Eastbourne on June 1 but first for Hampshire were a pair mating on a house door in Winchester on June 9

Shoulder-striped Wainscot (2205 Mythimna comma): First at Dungeness on June 9

The Sycamore (2279 Acronicta aceris): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Dusky Brocade (2330 Apamea remissa): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Small Clouded Brindle (2331 Apamea unanimis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Middle-barred Minor (2340 Oligia fasciuncula): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 10

Rosy Marbled (2396 Elaphria venustula): First of the year at Bordon in east Hampshire on June 5

Caterpillars: More than one report of Peacock larvae on nettles and a curious find of some 50 Lackey Moth caterpillars on a Cherry Plum tree beside the Hermitage Stream at Broadmarsh (Havant) on June 9 - the curious feature being the presence of so many almost full grown caterpillars in a tight cluster on one tree with no sign of them having eaten any of the foliage and with no white larval tent to house them - see my diary entry for June 9 for my theory of why this was as it was.

Other Insects

Scorpion Fly: First seen at Fishbourne near Chichester on June 13

Volucella pelluscens: First large hoverfly of the year in Botley Woods near Fareham on June 12

Hornet: One seen in Thatcher's Copse near Titchfield Haven on June 9

Stag Beetle: Another male seen flying in my garden at dusk on June 13

Pea Weevil (Sitona lineatus): This pest of pea and bean crops had been taken large chunks out of the leaves of the rare Sea Pea plants at Rye Harbour on June 10

Nursery Tent Spider (Pisaura mirabilis): First tent seen in grass at Fishbourne (Chichester) on June 13

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Mare's Tail: A bigger than usual display of this in Fishbourne village pond near Chichester on June 13 (the only other local site which I know of for this plant is Aldsworth Pond north of Emsworth)

Opium Poppy: This started to flower around Havant on June 9

Dittander: The usual display of this plant (which does not occur in Hampshire) will soon be seen at Fishbourne (Chichester) - on June 12 the first flowers were about to open.

Rockrose: First report of this in flower from Oxenbourne Down (south of Butser Hill) on June 8

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria): This is abundant on the sandy grass south of the Hayling Golf Course and is probably flowering there now as garden escape versions here in Havant were out on June 9

Common Orache: First sight of these plants in (or about to) flower at Fishbourne on June 12

Bastard Toadflax: Worth looking for these 'stars in the grass' on Portsdown after the first report of plants flowering at Durlston on June 9

Restharrow: First flowers seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 9

Tufted Vetch: Flowering on the Broadmarsh Mountain on June 9 - first for year

Hairy Vetchling: This rarity, which has its only known Hampshire site on the Broadmarsh Mountain, had some 13 plants in flower on June 9

White Melilot: First flowers seen in June 9 beside the railline just west of the Havant station signal box

Meadowsweet: First flowering at Fishbourne on June 12

Dropwort: Flowering on Portsdown on June 10 (west end of Compartment 9 roughly south of the Churchillian pub)

Hoary Willowherb: First flowers found on June 9

Enchanters Nightshade: Flowering at Durlston on June 8 and should be out in shady places everywhere now (there is a mass of these plants at Hurstwood in Waterlooville) - seen in Southleigh Forest area north of Emsworth on June 12

Large Flowered Evening Primrose: First flower seen by the roadside at Nutbourne (east or Emsworth) on June 12

Wild Celery: Flowering at Fishbourne on June 12

Fool's Water Cress: First flowering in Fishbourne village pond on June 13

Bog Pimpernel: This was flowering in the SSSI wet meadow at Warblington Farm on June 3 and seen at a new site somewhere on the Gipsies Plain (south of Havant Thicket) on the same day.

Hairy Bindweed (Calystegia pulchra): I was unaware of this species of Bindweed until June 7 when Brian Fellows discovered a small cluster of perhaps 8 plants flowering by the roadside of Appledram Lane at Fishbourne (Chichester) close to the Spiked Star of Bethlehem plants. I saw the plants for myself on June 12 but on June 13 both they and the Star of Bethlehem plants had been cut down (the reason for cutting is not yet known - possibly the plants are protected by an agreement not to clear the roadside vegetation until June?)

Thorn Apple: On June 9 one small plant had started to come up in a flower bed immediately west of the Havant Rail Station building (south side) where plants have grown in previous years (but have been eliminated as soon as the station staff recognise the plant)

Black Nightshade: One very early plant with one flower open found at Fishbourne on June 12

Blue Water Speedwell: One or two examples of what is thought to be the rare pure form of this plant (and not the common hybrid form) were found flowering at Fishbourne by Brian Fellows on June 11 and 13

Skullcap: The beautiful blue flowers of this were found at a regular site in Emsworth (by the Lumley stream outside the Lumley road cottages) on June 11

Buddleia davidii: This common 'butterfly bush' started to flower here in Havant on June 10

Common Valerian: First report of this in flower come from Oxenbourne Down (Butser Hill) on June 8

Hedge Bedstraw: First flowers seen in Stansted Forest on June 8

Bristly Ox-tongue: Flowering in more than one place around Havant on June 9

Perennial Sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis): One plant in flower at Broadmarsh on June 9

Narrow-leaved Waterplantain: First flowers seen on June 8 beside the Westbrook Stream in Emsworth (along the course of which this plant is spreading)

Spiked Star-of-Bethlehem: Plants at the north end of Appledram Lane at Fishbourne (Chichester) were well out when Brian Fellows saw them on June 9 (see http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm entries for June 10 and 11). I understand from Brian that the largest number of spikes found here in previous years was 48 but this year there was a massive increase to the 83 spikes I found on June 12 (the day before the plants were all cut down - see entry above for Hairy Bindweed)

Stinking Iris: Flowers out at Durlston on June 10

Greater Butterfly Orchid: First report of flowers from Oxenbourne Down (Butser Hill) on June 8

Lesser Butterfly Orchid: Flowering in the New Forest on May 31

Common Spotted Orchid: An estimated count of 5000 plants seen in the Botley Woods north of Fareham on June 12

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: Three were seen on the deck of a boat moored in Christchurch Harbour just before midnight on June 9 by a marine security patrol

Roe: The deer on north Hayling fields have at least one kid this year - on June 12 a Buck was seen with 2 does and a tiny kid following them with difficulty.

Hare: A Havant Wildlife Group walk party saw one on the north face of Portsdown as they were climbing the hill on Pigeon House Lane at the end of an evening walk on June 10. Three were seen in the Folkestone area of Kent on June 4

Pipistrelle: Until the evening of June 13 I had seen no bats in my Havant garden despite some warm evenings but a Pipistrelle was feeding here on that evening. On June 14 I was told of an unusual sighting recently near Stoughton Church (head of Ems valley) - several people, none of the able to identify bats, saw a bat hanging in full sight from a low branch of a tree, apparently asleep and not disturbed by the noises made by the people crowded round it.

Fungi: A troop of half a dozen what were assumed to be Dung Roundheads seen on saline turf close to the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on June 12 (no obvious dung here where no cattle feed). Also this week I hear that the 'egg' of a second Stinkhorn is present in a Langstone garden where one came up recently and was decapitated (probably by Foxes).


Summary for June 1 - 7 (Week 22 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Unexpected birds in this weeks new have been Black-eared Wheatear, Greenish Warbler, Gull-billed Tern, and Eleonora's Falcon plus an American Black Duck in Cornwall and a recantation of the claim to have seen a Stilt Sandpiper recently in Kent. Local interest lies in counts of birds nesting in Langstone Harbour, an unexpected Nightingale singing in Havant Thicket and the apparent demise of House Martin nesting on Stansted House and in East St at Chichester

New Insects include Common Darter and Scarce Chaser dragonflies and the first Marbled White butterflies. Thirty new moths include a micro which has followed the Painted Ladies north from Africa and is only the third to be recorded in Britain and another which flies south from Scotland to be seen as a rarity on the English east coast - this year one has gone further than ever and been recorded as a first for Dorset at Portland. Here in Havant the first Glow-worm of the season has lit up in Havant Thicket

New Flowers include a cluster of Sea Clover found at Warblington Farm as a new species for the SU 70 ten km square

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: One off Portland on June 4 and maybe the same bird in the Solent off Titchfield Haven on June 5 (possibly both reports are of the bird that was off Hayling Island on May 25 - both the Hampshire sightings were of a bird in winter plumage)

Black-throated Diver: Two off the Dutch coast on June 5

Slavonian Grebe: The summer plumaged bird is still in the Exe estuary (Devon) - seen June 3

Black-necked Grebe: Two summer plumaged birds at Paxton Pits (by the Bedforshire Ouse on the Cambridgeshire border on May 31

Fulmar: One flew inland from the Titchfield Haven shore on June 5 - maybe prospecting for inland nest sites like those seen in Sussex recently and noted in my summary for Week 20

Bittern: Nothing new in a report of one booming in the Kent Stour Valley on June 4 but one seen at Rye Harbour that day was I think unusual for Sussex at this time of year

Great White Egret: June 1 brought two reports of one flying west along the south coast - one seen from south Hayling and the other at Christchurch Harbour (could they have been the same bird?). The bird seen at Christchurch was almost certainly the one seen in the Poole Harbour area on June 3

Spoonbill: A juvenile seen flying east just north of Bognor on May 29 and two newly arrived at Sandwich Bay on June 4

Mute Swan: A late hatching family appeared in Emsworth Harbour on June 2 - a pair with four tiny cygnets. These may have come from the Little Deeps on Thorney Island where a pair were present (with one sitting) on Apr 21 though I could not be certain if they were there on May 19 (nothing to be seen of either nest or sitting bird in the nest area which was then concealed by new growth though there were three other adults at the east end of the Deeps) but they could have come from the Northney marina saltings where a pair were nest building on Apr 2 and one bird was sitting on May 20. So far there have been no white plumaged ('Polish') cygnets in the Emsworth area but two out of six cygnets in a family currently at the Oare Marshes in north Kent are of the Polish type (no mention of their parents)

Shelduck: The adults will soon be leaving us for their moult area on the north German shore and when they do go they will leave this years young in flocks with one or two adults in charge of the young (most of which will not be their own offspring). A first sign of this is reported from the Rye Bay area where a pair of adults which had recently been seen with 7 ducklings (presumably their own) were seen on June 1 to have suddenly acquired a flock of 21 ducklings apparently all in their care (and with no other adults around). At Christchurch Harbour there were still 24 adults on June 5 but no juveniles yet seen there

American Black Duck: This is a close relative of Mallard and is resident in north America but occasionally reaches Britain and it seems that one has been on Colliford Lake (Bodmin Moor in Cornwall) from May 24 to June 4 at least

Garganey: Quite a few are probably attempting to breed in southern England (I have 108 reports for this year so far, coming from at least 19 sites) so a report of a female with ducklings at Rye Harbour on June 4 is not surprising

Hooded Merganser: The young male which turned up at Weymouth in June last year is still at Radipole but is no longer in the news as the consensus among birders is that it is an escapee with no urge to do what a wild male might do - i.e. go in search of a mate

Red Breasted Merganser: A first summer female seen off Titchfield Haven on June 5 is the first to be reported since one was at the other end of the Solent (off Barton) on May 11

Honey Buzzard: One seen going east over Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on June 2 and another going west over the Southwick area of Brighton on June 3

Black Kite: One is reported to have flown south over the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on May 31. This is the tenth bird to be reported over southern England since May 5 and since (as far as I know!) Black Kites do not breed in England I presume these have all come from the continent. This must increase the likelihood that some if not all the many Red Kites currently being seen in southern England (often heading north from the channel coast) have come from the continent and are not just 'English' birds that have been on a day trip to the south coast and are seen returning to (perhaps) Luton or Birmingham where immigrants to this country like to settle!

Red Kite: Latest news of possible immigrant Red Kites comes from Bognor where, on May 31, a group fo five were seen for some time closely enough to see that none had wing tags and the only two had the rich red tails of adults, making it likely that this was a family group. Another coastal sighting was of two heading east over the Leigh Park area of Havant on June 1. Red Kite sightings now occur daily in Hampshire and Sussex and a group studying the birds in southern England is aware of at least 11 breeding pairs with nests in Hampshire (though that is a probably only a small part of the total in the county)

Montagu's Harrier: A 'probable' was seen of the Creekmoor residential area of Poole (north of Holes Bay and adjacent to Upton Heath) on May 31

Hobby: One spent a couple of hours chasing Swifts over the Leigh Park area of Havant on the morning of June 1 (presumably failing to catch one).

Eleonora's Falcon: A report of one over Christchurch town area on May 31 has not had any subsequent confirmation.

Peregrine: The four chicks in the nest on Chichester cathedral are thought to be very close to fleding and are expected to feature in theTV Springwatch programme during the coming week

Common Crane: Two flew south over Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire on May 31 (first report I know of since May 11 when one flew over Rye Harbour)

Oriental Pratincole: The bird which was a one day wonder at Pagham Harbour north walls on May 28 made another one day appearance at Dungeness RSPB reserve on June 3 (and I hear rumours that it may then have moved to north Kent)

Little Ringed Plover: One seen at the Farlington 'Deeps' on May 31

Stilt Sandpiper: The report in last week's summary of a sighting in the Kent Stour Valley on May 30 has been retracted - the observer now thinks he saw a Curlew Sandpiper

Ruff: A single female (Reeve) was seen at the Oare Marshes (near Faversham in Kent) on June 6

Woodcock: At least two were roding in Havant Thicket on May 31

Black-tailed Godwit: 10 seen at Pulborough Brooks on June 1 may have been breeding birds still heading for Iceland but other flocks reported in Hampshire, Dorset and the IoW this week are probably non-breeding birds of the Icelandic race (e.g. 150+ in Poole Harbour, 32 in Christchurch Harbour, 45 at Farlington Marshes, and 42 at Yarmouth on the IoW). The flocks in north Kent (at least 280 at Oare Marshes on June 5) are, I think, of the race which breeds in East Anglia and across Europe but a recent sighting of one in north Kent wearing a colour ring which was thought to identify it as an Icelandic bird threw doubt on my assumption but it is now known that the ring concerned was fitted to a chick hatched in East Anglia, suggesting that my idea that these birds in Kent are of the European race is probably correct.

Whimbrel: Spring passage is drawing to an end for these birds - two passing Portland on May 30 and 5 at Christchurch Harbour on June 5 may have been on passage but singles at Farlington Marshes on June 3 and at Hook/Warsash on June 6 may well have given up the race and settled here as non-breeders for the summer

Green Sandpiper: One in the Kent Stour Valley on June 4 could be the first bird on 'autumn passage' - that is suggested by the observer there and the same thought entered my mind when I read of one at Avington (between Winchester and Alresford) on June 2

Wood Sandpiper: One seen at Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire on May 31

Pomarine Skua: The annual 'Pom King' race between seawatchers at Selsey Bill has been won by someone known as Sam Hill with a score of just 16 birds seen this spring. The odd bird is still passing up Channel - one in the Seaford area on June 3 and another off Hengistbury Head on June 6

Med Gull: 137 pairs are nesting on South Binness Island in Langstone Harbour, exceeding the 90 pairs at Rye Harbour

Black-headed Gull: Some 5278 pairs are nesting on two of the RSPB Islands in Langstone Harbour (with another 450 prs at the Oysterbeds) compared to just 1600 pairs at Rye Harbour (where the first chicks are already starting to fly)

Lesser Blackback: These are rare in Langstone and Chichester Harbours at this time of year when compared to the many (mostly immature) Great Blackbacks but at least one pair of Lessers were nesting on the Langstone RSPB Islands until a Chinook helicopter recently made a low pass over the islands. The pair (named after ruthless Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Dennis, and famed for their predation of eggs and chicks belonging to other species) survived the airborne attack and may re-nest.

Herring Gull: Horsham has joined the list of inland towns where these gulls nest on roof tops - one pair has already raised two chicks and four other birds have been showing interest in nesting there.

Glaucous Gull: The Newlyn Harbour bird in Cornwall was still there on June 4

Gull-billed Tern: One seen flying west in the Keyhaven area (Lymington) on June 4 may be the same bird that was at Topsham in Devon on May 23 and so may be seen again.

Sandwich Tern: 153 pairs were nesting on South Binness in Langstone Harbour until the high tides at the end of May washed out many of their nests

Roseate Tern: Two have been seen at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on May 29, 31 and June 2 and one was in the Hurst area near Lymington on June 1 but all these may now have moved on as Dungeness reported 2 on June 4 and 1 on June 5

Common Tern: 93 pairs nesting on the Langstone RSPB islands

Arctic Tern: We may not see many of these on our south coast but a Dutch site reported the passage of 1125 on June 5

Little Tern: Despite the failure of any of these to nest at the Hayling Oysterbeds this year around 35 pairs are nesting on the RSPB Islands out in Langstone Harbour

Black Tern: At least 12 and maybe 15 were seen briefly in a loose flock off Titchfield Haven on June 2

Little Owl: These are often difficult to see when they are breeding but suddenly appear when their chicks have fledged and this weeks reports reflect this with more than one report of e.g. Owls perched on telegraph poles well before dusk but there are also reports saying that these Owls cannot be found in traditional sites and asking if the species is in decline...

Nightjar: Five were detected during an evening visit to Havant Thicket on May 31

Kingfisher: A breeding pair can rear up to three broods, each of up to 7 young, each summer, While the young are in the nest they are well fed by their parents but as soon as they can fly and leave the nest their parents chase them out of their territory without any fishing lessons. This permits the adults to get one with raising the next brood but also means that many of the juveniles soon die from starvation, drowning or flying into things - if you do come across a corpse at this time of the year the feet and bill will show if it is an adult (bright orange feet and black-tipped bill) or a juvenile (black feet and white tip to the bill). The reason for these remarks is that a single Kingfisher unexpectedly appeared at Christchurch Harbour on June 1- I suspect this was a juvenile which had, against the odds, made its way down river to the harbour (adults would not normally reach the coast until September when their breeding season is over)

Red-rumped Swallow: One was seen on June 2 at the west end of Portsdown near the M27 Fareham junction (it was reported over Pook Lane which runs parallel to the north side of the M27 from this juction to the A32). Another was reported on June 4 in The Lizard area of Cornwall

House Martin: Lawrence Holloway has been to Stansted House and failed to detect a single active nest there on June 6 - he also says that there are no pairs nesting on the tall buildings in East Street at Chichester this year

Nightingale: One was unexpectedly heard singing in the Havant Thicket area on the evening of May 31 - possibly a failed breeder elsewhere which had come here in search of a new mate (this is the first time I have heard of Nightingale song in Havant Thicket though the Inhurst and Outhurst woods were once a hot spot for them further west where most of the woodland was cut to build the A3M and to build the new housing which now lines the west side to the A3M)

Black-eared Wheatear: One was seen and photographed on St Agnes in the Scillies on June 2 and 3

Greenish Warbler: One seen and heard siging near Brixham in Devon on June 5

Golden Oriole: One singing on St Mary's (Scillies) on June 4, one singing at Reculver (north Kent) on June 5 before flying on north and another joining the dawn chorus in the hamlet of Plastow Green in Hampshire (north of Kingsclere and close to the Berkshire border) on June 5

Starlings: Small flocks of these can be seen almost anywhere now that the young are out of their nest but the first report of a large flock (around 500) comes from the Oare Marshes in north Kent - adults and young emerged from a reedbed roost there at dawn on June 6

Corn Bunting: Another local sighting by Brian Fellows on June 5 in the Funtington area west Chichester. His bird was in the fields between the MoD site by the road west of Funtington and Racton Park Farm.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Broad Bodied Chaser: I was pleased to see one by the pond close to Park Road South (opposite Solent Road) on June 1 and on June 4 Brian Fellows had one at Brook Meadow in Emsworth (first of year was out on Apr 19 near Rye)

Scarce Chaser: Several were out at Woods Mill in the Sussex Adur valley on June 3 (first of year) and others were seen in the New Forest on June 4

Common Darter: The first were seen on June 4 at both Rye Harbour and Durlston

Banded Demoiselle: One male was seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 1 after a single female had ben reported there on May 23

Beautiful Demoiselle: John Goodspeed reports masses of these seen at the Hookheath Nature Reserve (by the Wallington River at the north foot of Portsdown) on June 2

Butterflies

31 species reported during the week, including the first Marbled White and Heath Fritillary

Clouded Yellow: A few of these migrants have arrived with the Clouded Yellows and one was seen in Clanfield (north of Waterlooville) on May 22 (the second earliest I know of in our area after one seen at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on May 11). Since May 22 I have heard of 14 more up to May 30 and on June 1 a female was seen in Gosport

Small Blue: A good count of 75 at Martin Down on May 30 was followed by signs that the species is spreading - on June 4 one was found at Hurst Castle in the Solent and on June 6 a newly created butterfly garden at a school in Brighton had a female seen egglaying

Silver Studded Blue: The first had been seen on Stedham Common near Midhurst on May 29 and they have now appeared at two places in the New Forest area

Adonis Blue: Although these have been on the wing since Apr 29 and a couple of sites had counts of 60 and 100+ on May 20 and 24 there have been no reports from Old Winchester Hill until June 1 when just one male was seen

Painted Lady: Although the great majority have moved on north by now there were stiil around 500 to be seen in the Pevensey Levels area east of Eastbourne on June 1

Small Tortoiseshell: Although I had recorded 68 reports of this 'endangered species' up to the end of April I only saw seven reports in May but a cluster of eight reports over three days from June 2 to 4 hopefully indicates that this year's new generation are starting to appear - best report was of 10 fresh individuals seen at Barcombe Mills near Lewes on June 2

Heath Fritillary: Around 40 were seen in the Blean Woods at Canterbury on June 6

Marbled White: First for the year was seen at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on June 4

Meadow Brown: This common species is normally on the wing well before the end of May and with so many people reporting their sightings on the Hampshire and Sussex Butterfly Conservation websites I am very surprised that I am only aware of two sightings in May this year (One near Lymington on May 29 and two seen at Newtown Harbour on the IoW by Brian Fellows on May 30).

Moths

Ghost Moth (0014 Hepialus humuli): An evening walk on the Sussex Downs near Brighton came on a group of 6 forming a 'lek' around a gorse bush - first for year

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet (0171 Zygaena lonicerae): First seen in Gosport are on May 31

Syncopacma polychromella (0850 ): One in a garden moth trap in the lower Avon valley near Christchurch on June 2 was a first for Dorset (and prior to this year there had only been two British records - one in 1952 and the other in 1999). This species comes, like the Painted Lady, from north Africa and I gather there has been a cluster of reports from the west country in the past few days)

Pseudargyrotosa conwagana (1011): First on Mill Hill at Shoreham on June 3

Green Oak Tortrix (1033 Tortrix viridana): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 30

Epinotia bilunana (1133): First at Mill Hill Shoreham on June 3

Bramble-shoot Moth (1175 Epiblema uddmanniana): First at Mill Hill Shoreham on June 3

Crambus lathoniellus (1301): First in Brighton on June 6

Crambus perlella (1302): First in Brighton on June 6

Scoparia pyralella (1333): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 30

Small China-mark (1354 Cataclysta lemnata): First in Brighton on June 6

Dark Bordered Pearl (1356a Evergestis limbata): First in Brighton on June 5

Udea olivalis (1392): First at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on June 3

Stenoptilia pterodactyla (1509): First in Brighton on June 6

Peach Blossom (1652 Thyatira batis): First at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on June 3

Lesser Cream Wave (1692 Scopula immutata): First seen by day on Park Hill near Goodwood Race Course on May 31 (I may have the wrong species as this was reported as Small Cream Wave and it could have been a Dwarf Cream Wave)

Yellow Shell (1742 Camptogramma bilineata): First at Magdalen Hill Down, Winchester, on June 4

Pine Carpet (1767 Thera firmata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 30

Netted Pug (1823 Eupithecia venosata): First in Brighton on June 5

Rannoch Looper (1896 Itame brunneata): First of year was in the Thanet area of Kent (where it appears as a migrant in most years) on May 29 and at least four had been found there by June 1 when one also turned up at Portland (first for site and first for Dorset), followed by half a dozen separate finds in Sussex. This moth is resident in Scotland and occasionally moves south to be found along the east coast and it is very rarely seen along the south coast (though I see one was recorded at Bentley Woods west of Stockbridge in 1946

Scorched Wing (1904 Plagodis dolabraria): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 30

Privet Hawkmoth (1976 Sphinx ligustri): First was moth of the day at Durlston on June 2

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Six reports so far this year - the first near Eastbourne on May 15 and the latest is of two in a garden at Alresford near Winchester on June 3

Scarlet Tiger (2068 Callimorpha dominula): First emerged in an Eastbourne town garden on June 1

Heart and Club (2088 Agrotis clavis): First in Brighton on June 5

Setaceous Hebrew Character (2126 Xestia c-nigrum): First in Brighton on June 5

Dog's Tooth (2159 Lacanobia suasa): First in the Thanet area of Kent on June 5

White Spot (2172 Hadena albimacula): First seen on May 28 around its larval foodplant (Nottingham Catchfly) at Browndown near Gosport

The Delicate (2195 Mythimna vitellina): A very early find of this migrant was made in Gosport back on Mar 22

Mottled Rustic (2387 Caradrina morpheus): First at Ringmer, Lewes, on May 30

Caterpillars: An impressive full grown green Emperor Moth caterpillar was found on heather in the New Forest on June 2 and the first Mullein Moth caterpillar was seen on a Great Mullein plant in Brighton on June 5

Other Insects

Short-haired bumble-bee (Bombus subterraneus): This species, which is now extinct in Brtain, is to be re-introduced to Romney Marshes in Britain in 2010 from New Zealand where it was imported from Britain to fertilise Red Clover (also taken from Britain as a fodder crop but which had no natural fertilising insect in New Zealand)

Glow-worm: First report is of a single seen inHavant Thicket on the evening of June 3

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Mousetail: Flowering at Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight on May 30

Water Cress: First flowers at Warblington Farm on June 3

Perforate St Johns Wort: Found flowering on Thorney Island on June 3

Corn Cockle: At least one plant started to flower on Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 4 - presumably a garden escape as this was not an area where wildflower seed was deliberately sown.

Bog Stitchwort: First flowers seen at a regular site beside the eastern stream of Warblington Farm on June 3

Dyer's Greenweed: First flowers seen at Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight on May 30

Yellow Vetch: First flowers seen at Camber Castle on Rye Bay on May 31

Sea Clover (Trifolium squamosum): This new plant for the 10 Km square SU 70 has suddenly appeared in large numbers in the south-west most field of Warblington Farm adjacent to Nore Barn wood at Emsworth. On June 3 I found a couple of large clumps from which specimens have subsequently been confirmed as Sea Clover by Martin Rand (south Hants plant recorder) and on June 6 Brian Fellows spent some time in the field and found three times as many plants as I saw.

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea: First flower seen on June 1 outside the Havant multi-storey carpark

American and Square-stalked Willowherbs: A number of Willowherbs which to my eyes looked like Square-stalked Willowherb have appeared in Havant recently and on June 6 I cracked the id problem when I looked at the plant stems under a microscope. The American species has a noticeable number of glandular hairs at the top of the stem and on the flowers and has no ridges on its round stems. Square-stalked has no glandular hairs and does have ridges running down the stem.

Common Lime: These trees were in flower in Havant on June 1

Pale Persicaria: Flowering at Warblington Farm on June 3

Brookweed: Flowering in the marshy SSSI at Warblington Farm on June 3

Bog Pimpernel: Flowering in the marshy SSSI at Warblington Farm on June 3

Sea Milkwort: Flowering in the marshy SSSI at Warblington Farm on June 3

Large Bindweed: First flowers seen in Emsworth on June 4

Lesser Snapdragon aka Weasels Snout (Misopates orontium): Many plants flowering at the New Lane allotments in Havant in a Potato patch on June 6 (with no need to weed around these plants the Snapdragon thrives)

Hybrid Water Speedwell: First flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 4

Sea Plantain: First flowers in wet areas of Warblington Farm on June 6

Marsh Valerian: More plants than usual beside the eastern stream on Warblington Farm but when I first saw them on June 3 the flowers had all gone to seed

Scented Mayweed: First flowers found at Warblington Farm on June 3

Corn Chamomile look-alike (Anthemis austriaca): This had started to flower on June 3 in the area of the Warblington Cemtery extension where wildflower seed has been sown

Marsh Cudweed: Starting to 'flower' at Warblington Farm on June 3

Marsh Thistle: One or two flowers starting to open at Warblington Farm on June 3

Creeping Thistle: Flowering in Emsworth on June 6

Milk Thistle: First of year was a single flower at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 2

Wall Lettuce: Flowering on the walls outside Homewell House in Havant on June 1

Smooth Hawksbeard: Coming into flower from June 1

Southern Marsh Orchid: On June 3 I counted 230 flowering spikes in the Warblington Farm SSSI (where in the past I have had as many as 800). I also read that the only known cluster of plants near Pegwell Bay in Kent have been dug up and removed (presumably to die in some garden where the soil and fungus are not suitable)

Arrowgrass: Both Marsh and Sea Arrowgrass were flowering in the Warblington Farm SSSI on June 3

OTHER WILDLIFE

Surprisingly, nothing to report this week


Summary for May 25 - 31 (Week 21 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Summer flocks of Mute Swans are beginning to assemble on the sea but the arrival of summer birds (both regulars and vagrants) has not yet ceased. A Hoopoe has visited Stansted House, a Spotted Crake has been heard in Poole Harbour and a Black Guillemot has been off south Devon though the most unexpected visitor is probably a Laughing Gull seen near Southampton (though that has now been eclipsed by an Oriental Pratincole at Pagham Harbour). Several groups of Bee Eater have been roaming southern England and there are reports of Citrine Wagtail, Marsh, Melodious and Subalpine Warblers. Golden Oriole and Red-backed Shrike also get a mention. The fascinating Springwatch TV programmes has made me aware that there may be 500 pairs of Goshawk breeding in the UK and recent comments have made me revise my opinion that Parakeets seen in Hampshire come from the feral population in the London area. Many fledgling youngsters are now out of their nests and these include young Bearded Tits.

The Painted Lady invasion is the main topic in the Insect news but we also have the arrival of very common migrants such as Large Yellow Underwing and others that are much rarer - Green-veined White butterflies, Striped Hawkmoths and Lesser Emperor dragonflies. Clouded Yellows and Hummingbird Hawkmoths are now starting to be regular sights. A very early Silver Studded Blue has been seen near Midhurst and the first Large Skippers and Burnet Moths are now out as is the Marsh Fritillary. More than 40 new moth species have been seen including Pine and Elephant Hawkmoths. Among other insects the first wave of Stag Beetles has appeared (though fewer than in past years)

New orchid species now in flower include Bee, White Helleborine, Pyramidal, Burnt and Man Orchids while Southern Marsh and Heath Spotted have joined the Common Spotted and Twayblades. Other good flowers include Vipers Bugloss and Bog Pimpernel plus a couple of my favourites - Grass Vetchling and Sweet Briar rose. Significant first finds of common plants have been Rough Chervil and Corky Fruited Water Dropwort. Top billing among my finds have been the Field Cow-Wheat still flowering on Portsdown and what may be a second find of a Mullein species that was 'new to Europe' in 2007 - this time on south Hayling rather than the north of the Island.

Reports of Marsh Frog and Smooth Snake have added to my knowledge of both species but I am still puzzling over why a Hare was seen on a shingle beach in Kent.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: The only diver of any species to get a mention so far this week is a lone Red-throated in winter plumage seen by Andy Johnson off Sandy Point (Hayling) on May 25.

Slavonian Grebe: Another 'left over' from the winter is a solitary Slavonian Grebe in the Exe estuary (Devon) still there (in summer plumage) on May 30

Storm Petrel: These began to appear off the coast of Devon and Cornwall on May 16 and there was a peak count of 21 off Newquay on May 17. On May 27 one was seen from Portland Bill and on May 28 five were off Selsey (some reported there also on May 27)

Cattle Egret: One touched down in the Pevensey Levels on May 24 and it (or another) flew west over that area on May 26. Two were seen in Cornwall on May 23 but there have been no further reports of the group of 9 in Cornwall from Mar 28 to Apr 1 (maybe because they are, not for the first time, breeding there?)

Great White Egret: An isolated sighting of one at Oare Marshes near Faversham on the north Kent coast on May 26

Grey Heron: The first report of young out of the nest comes from Horsham on May 24 when newly fledged birds were fishing at Warnham Mill Pond

Spoonbill: A group of four flew east along the north Kent coast on May 24 - could these be the same four seen at Titchfield Haven on May 21 and then at Dungeness on May 22? We may soon see more of this species as a total of 18 went over one Belgian site on May 25 and on that day one flew up the River Arun south of Arundel

Flamingo: One at a Dutch site on May 30 - presmably an escape but could be a lost migrant which has flown too far north (some breed around the Mediterranean)

Mute Swan: On May 25 the pair on Budds Farm pools had at least 4 cygnets with them (and all six of the Langstone Pond cygnets were still with their parents in the mouth of the Langbrook stream). On May 25 the summer flock of non-breeding birds had started to form at Christchurch Harbour with a count of 151 there - there should soon be a similar build up in Chichester Harbour in the Bosham or Fishbourne areas. On May 29 one adult of a pair with two cygnets was found dead at Keyhaven - possibly the work of uncotrolled dogs?

Shelduck: The Budds Farm Pools is one site around Langstone Harbour which has still contributed young birds in recent years but on May 25 I saw both adults of the only pair there this year were together on the water as if they had failed to breed (after seeing two there for some time only one was visible from Apr 25 to May 25 and I assumed that one of the pair was on a nest). On May 30 a pair in the Kent Stour valley had six 'fresh from the egg' ducklings with them.

Pochard: The single female which arrived on the Budds Farm Pools on May 14 was still there (with around 15 Tufted Duck) on May 25 but may have left as a single bird appeared at Sandown boating lake on the IoW on May 30

Eider: Two were on the sea at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on May 25

Honey Buzzard: Eight reports between May 23 and 30 are all of singles at widely different sites from the Scillies via the Pulborough area to Pevensey Levels and Folkestone with one in Belgium. The latest was seen flying east on the downs above Worthing on May 30

Black Kite: One in the Scillies on May 24 and two in the Sandwich Bay area on May 27

Red Kite: Further evidence that may point to immigration of birds from the continent being a major factor in the large numbers of Red Kite sightings in southern England comes on May 24 when three were seen to come in off the sea at Worthing with another two arriving from the sea over the Southwick area of Brighton that day.

Hen Harrier: Last week I remarked on the unexpected sighting of one over Weymouth on May 20 after a period of three weeks in which I thought we had seen the last of the winter birds. Now we have another sighting of one on May 24 though this one was passing along the French coast over Cap Gris-Nez. (See Pallid Harrier below)

Pallid Harrier: One is reported to have been seen over Cap Gris-Nez on May 24 where a different observer reported a Hen Harrier - as the two species are difficult to tell apart, and Pallid Harrier is a very rare summer visitor to western Europe (it breeds in the south of eastern Europe and winters in India) I would put my money on Hen Harrier being the more likely.

Montagu's Harrier: A ringtail was in the Thanet area of Kent on May 25 and another was seen to fly north over Oxenbourne Down (southern part of Butser Hill near Petersfield) on May 29

Goshawk: Two of these were calling as they circled over the Totton area of Southampton, drifting west towards the New Forest, on May 25 and the species is also in the news as a result of the Springwatch TV programme focussing on the species this week. During the TV programme Chris Packham gave us a figure for the number of pairs breeding wild in Britain which I found surprisingly high - I did not note his figure and don't want to misquote him but the RSPB Birdguide website gives a figure of 410 breeding pairs in the UK

Osprey: A late arriving bird (presumably young and not intending to breed) flew west over Eastleigh on May 24 and another came in off the sea in the Thanet area of Kent on May 28

Quail: Three could be heard at Tarrant Rushton airfield in Dorset on May 26. This is the sixth report of Quail in England since the first was on the Scillies on May 6 - one of these was at Ttichfield Haven on May 13. Since then one has been flushed by butterfly hunters on Truleigh Hill (Sussex Downs north of Brighton) on May 30

Spotted Crake: One was reported to have been heard on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour calling after dark on May 25 and it was heard again on May 27 I see that Dorset is one of half a dozen areas in the UK having wetlands where these migrant birds breed - here in Hampshire they are regularly seen in the autumn but do not breed. (Birds of Hants says the species has bred but only in the distant past and probably in the area around Christchurch which is now in Dorset)

Oriental Pratincole: When a Pratincole turns up in southern England it is assumed to be a Collared Pratincole until proved otherwise. Farlington Marshes had two Collared in 2008 and one on 2005 but this year none have been recorded in southern England so far though a Black-winged Pratincole has been in Kent and now a much rarer Oriental Pratincole has been around the Breech Pool (behind the North Wall of Pagham Harbour) for a day or two. I think it arrived on the evening of May 28 and was still there on May 30 - see it in full colour and close up on Richard Ford's photo website at http://www.digitalwildlife.co.uk/birds/CollPrat.htm

Black-winged Pratincole: The bird which was first seen in the Kent Stour Valley on May 8 seems to have left on May 25

Western Sandpiper: The presumed Western Sandpiper (but may be a Semi-palmated) was in the Dawlish area of Devoen from May 3 to 29

Stints: On May 26 there was a report of two Little Stints and one Temminck's all seen by Bernie Forbes in the Church Norton area of Pagham Harbour among 130+ Dunlin

Stilt Sandpiper: One was seen briefly but well in the Kent Stour valley on May 30

Black-tailed Godwit: On May 26 a flock of 210 were at the Oare Marshes in north Kent. I believe these are birds of the Islandic race but on May 25 another Blackwit in the Kent Stour Valley was thought to be of the European (limosa) race but was wearing colour rings from the Iceland ringing scheme. I think it is difficult to separate the races in the field and I suspect this was an Icelandic bird but I suppose that, just as we find Brant and Pale-bellied Brent living among the flocks of Dark-bellied birds, birds of the three different races of Black-tailed Godwit occasionally find themselves among a population of another race and stay with them. Latest reports indicate that there may be around 500 in north Kent and 160 at Titchfield Haven

Laughing Gull: There is a confident report that an adult of this species was at the Testwood Lakes at Totton (mouth of River Test) on May 24. This is the first time I have heard of this species in southern England this year (the only records I know of relate to 2007 or earlier - one was in Hampshire at several sites in Nov and Dec 2005)

Black-headed Gull: Of local interest Jason Crook tells us that, as warden of the Oysterbeds nature reserve, he visited the nest islands on May 21 and made an accurate count of 450 Black-headed Gull nests on the two islands in the lagoon (along with 30 Common Tern nests and no Little Tern nests)

Iceland Gull: One of these was still present on Tresco in the Scillies on May 23 and on that same day a single Glaucous Gull was still present in Newlyn Harbour (Cornwall). On May 27 Radipole (Weymouth) reported an Iceland Gull there.

Roseate Tern: The two which were at Titchfield Haven on May 21 may still be in the Solent as two were seen from Ryde Pier on May 29 when 2 others were at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

Little Tern: At least three pairs were nesting on the shingle spit at the entrance to Pagham Harbour on May 26, along with 20 pairs of Common Tern

Black Guillemot: This species gets its second mention for the year on the south coast with one seen off Dawlish Warren (Exe estuary) on May 25 after one was seen at Portland on Feb 28

Ring-necked Parakeet: Although thousands of these can be found throughout the year in the London area (with a few more in Kent) they are extremely reluctant to expand into the surrounding countryside. In the past I had assumed that the occasional birds seen in Hampshire probably originated from the feral population in London but a couple of recent reports (and associated comments) make it much more likely these are escaped cage birds. One was seen in a densely populated part of Portsmouth on May 21and another was flying around houses in Seaford on May 26 - both following warm weather when house windows might have been left open allowing the birds to escape. Comments on these birds tell me that Ring-necked Parakeet is the third most common cage bird kept in houses in southern England (coming after Budgie and Cockatiel, both of which make regular appeareances 'in the wild' in similar weather conditions). Escapees of this sort normally meet a quick end but they can survive for long periods (I had a couple of Parakeets coming to my bird table throughout the winter of 1974)

Tawny Owl: On May 14 we reported the death of a chick which had fallen from its nest in a Scots Pine in the Crawley area of Sussex and on May 24 two other luckier juveniles are reported out of their nest in the Horsham area - Tawny chicks regularly leave their nests and crawl around in tree branches long before they acquire feathers and the ability to fly.

Bee Eater: Quite a few of these are now roaming southern England with current reports from Rye Harbour (three on May 26), Poole town (three in the Broadstone district on May 24), St Mary's in the Scillies (seven there on May 24). On May 23 one was seen to fly out to sea from Lands End (I hope it found the Scillies!). Two other sightings have already been reported by me last week (one on the IoW on May 23 and six near Weymouth on May 20)

Hoopoe: The first to be reported for a month (one was at Shaftesbury in Dorset on Apr 23) is a single bird at Stansted House near Rowlands Castle on May 26

Red-rumped Swallow: In addition to two that have been in the Scillies for over a week one flew over Eastleigh on May 23

Citrine Wagtail: A female was briefly at Sandwich Bay on May 21

Marsh Warbler: One singing from roadside shrubs in Poole Town on May 25 may have been the bird that was ringed at Abbotsbury on May 23

Meolodious Warbler: On May 23 one was at Lands End in Cornwall and on May 24 one was singing at Beachy Head.

Subalpine Warbler: One was also singing at Lands End on May 23

Bearded Tit: First report of this year's juveniles comes from the Oare Marshes near Faversham (Kent) on May 24

Golden Oriole: Seven new reports since May 21 but five were in Cornwall/Scillies with one in Belgium. The latest, however, was a male seen from a car (by a passenger) on the Rustington bypass (A259 passing Worthing) on May 30

Red-backed Shrike: One was in north Kent on Apr 25 and now we have a second report of one in the Scillies on May 24. Two more were seen in Belgium on May 23

Woodchat Shrike: One in the Middlebere area on the west shore of Poole Harbour on May 28 was new to that area.

Hooded Crow: One on Portland on May 30 was an unusual bird for Dorset.

Tree Sparrow: One was reported from the Horsham area on May 23 and three were seen at St Catherine's Point (IoW) on May 30

Common (or Mealy) Redpoll: One at Portland on May 30

Common (or Scarlet) Rosefinch: One in Holland on May 30 was only the second I have heard of this year (the first was a female in a garden at Birdham south of Chichester on Apr 8)

Corn Buntings: On May 20 Kevin Stouse found two singing on the Chidham penninsula (east of Thorney Island) in the same place that two were heard on Apr 18 (at the right angle bend in Steels Lane just north of Middleton Farm - SU 791043) On May 24 at least six were at The Burgh on the Sussex Downs above Amberley

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Ten species get a mention in the latest reports, including ...

Lesser Emperor: A possible sighting of this rare vagrant at Pagham Harbour on May 26 by the Harbour Warden (Ivan Lang). This species comes from southern Europe and could well have been brought here by the winds bringing the Painted Ladies. It was not known in Britain until 1996 when one was identified in Gloucestershire but is now seen at least once in each year

Four-spotted Chaser: On May 24 180 of these were seen to emerge at Dungeness and on May 25 450 were counted there

Red Veined Darter: This species only established a foothold in Britain as a resident species in 1995 and now breeds in several places but one seen at Martin Down on May 26 was presumably a vagrant carried along by the winds bringing the Painted Ladies (I am not aware of any dragonfly waters on or near the Down). Other migrants this week have been at Portland and Compton Down on the Isel fo Wight.

Beautiful Demoiselle: The first for this year were reported on May 25 at both the Rother Woods near Rye and in the New Forest

Butterflies

30 species reported as seen so far this week.

Large Skipper: First of the year seen on May 24 at Crowlink near Eastbourne and at Newtown on the Isle of Wight. On May 25 another was reported at Crawley and the first in Hampshire was at Gosport on May 26

Clouded Yellow: A female had been seen on Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on May 11 but the potential invasion of this species began on May 24 with one seen at the north end of the A3M where you turn off for Clanfield and on May 25 there was a report of one at Eastney (Portsmouth) and of 2 at Dungeness (one of these a helice variant). May 26 brought another two to the mouth of Pagham Harbour and since then there have been six more reports of singles

Black-veined White: Another vagrant species from the continent arrived at Durlston on May 25. This large butterfly was once fairly common in England but mysteriously died out, becoming extinct as a resident here in 1925 but remaining a fairly common species in the near continent and throughout Europe south of Scandinavia

Small Blue: This seems to be a good year for the species - on May 22 'hundreds' were said to have been seen in the Paulsgrove chalk pit on the south face of Portsdown and on May 28 another quarry near Cocking (south of Midhurst) had 128

Silver Studded Blue: An early first for the year was seen on Stedham Common (west of Midhurst) on May 29

Adonis Blue: Well over 100 seen on Bonchurch Down near Ventnor (IoW) on May 24

Red Admiral: A few arriving with the Painted Ladies (one Dutch site on May 30 counted 19 Red Admirals among 4124 Painted Ladies in an all day count)

Painted Lady: Although not unprecedented the current invasion of these into Britain is truly astounding with millions now present - probably many more than in the most recent mass invasion during the summer of 1996. They have been arriving all along the south coast and the counts which have been reported inevitably omit the great majority of arrivals. The first I know of was one near Winchester on Apr 2 (reported as being the sixth for the UK this year) and I have 21 reports of singles during April (but on Apr 12 Andy Barker saw more than 200 while on holiday in Mallorca). They continued to reach Britain in the early part of May (26 reports between May 1 and 20) and on May 20 a report from Brussels told of some 300 seen heading our way. May 21 saw both Dungeness and Durlston report 'many' coming in off the sea with Portland recording more than 100 that day. By May 24 someone in the Lewes area counted around 1000 pasing through a single woodland ride and this same volume was being repeated all along the south coast. On May 25 Dungeness reported 1500 and in the Candover Valley (south of Basingstoke) more than 2000 were seen. Also on May 25 it seems that the butterflies launched a pincer movement with 12,000 pouring in from the east off the North Sea at Scolt Head in Norfolk but this did not deplete the numbers on the south coast as on May 26 Dungeness had a minimum of 2250 counted in a corridor no more than 50 metres wide. To show that this great movement was not confined to Britain the SOS website carried a message on May 25 from Cliff Dean in Venice - it said .. "In the last few days there has been a stupendous migration through NE Italy. On Friday (May 22) I noticed them flying through the streets of Venice, but on Saturday and Sunday they were pouring through the surrounding countryside. I counted 30+ per minute crossing ca. 100m of suburban street yesterday morning. The spectacle has even made the newspapers there". By the end of May they had reached the west coast of Ireland and had continued north of John O'Groats to the Shetlands and Orkney. First specific mention of mass egglaying comes from Sussex on May 30

Painted Lady migration: I have yet to find a detailed account of how the current migrants have reached us. Some suggest that they have all come non-stop from North Africa (which is possible - Monarchs make regular migratory journeys of thousands of miles in America and we occasionally hear of Saharan sand falling on Britain when there has been a strong southerly wind). An alternative answer was given by Chris Packham on the Springwatch TV programme. Chris suggested that these butterflies started to emerge early in the year in North Africa where their parents had laid eggs during our winter. When they emerged the increasing heat was already drying up the foodplants for their caterpillars in North Africa so the first wave of butterflies flew north over the Mediterranean and laid eggs on fresh plants (Thistles, Mallows, Nettles, etc) but when these eggs emerged the plants to feed the next generation of caterpillars were also drying up and wilting as the summer sun moved north so the butterflies again moved on, and those now reaching us are a third or fourth generation. That sounds a reasonable argument and I have done a rough calculation based on the time taken from laying an egg to the adult emerging (7 weeks - 1 week for the egg to hatch, 4 weeks for the caterpillar to feed and 2 weeks for the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly in the pupa). If the first eggs were laid early in December in North Africa the first generation of butterflies would set out across the Mediterranean sometime in February and the next generation would move north in April. Allowing for delays caused by vagaries of the weather this theory ties in with the pattern of arrivals we have seen (first comers in April and then a second major wave in late May) and it does explain why they majority of the butterflies we see are still looking far too fresh to have flown all the way from North Africa, though some among them do look sufficiently battered to have come all the way. Nothing in the natural world is clear cut and my conclusion is that the butterflies we are seeing are a mixed bunch containing a few that actually have flown from North Africa but the majority are the offspring of later generations and have only travelled from, say, central France or the Pyrenees (those coming north from Italy could well now be floating on the water of the North Sea unless they were lucky enough to be among those blown west into East Anglia)

Marsh Fritillary: First I have heard of this year was seen at Martin Down (south of Salisbury) on May 26 an at least 5 were there on May 28 when 25 were present in Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge)

Glanville Fritillary: More than 91 were counted in the Ventnor area of the IoW on May 24

Moths

The Forester (0163 Adscita statices): First seen on May 25 at Winchfield Common near Odiham

Six-spot Burnet (0169 Zygaena filipendulae): Also first at Winchfield Common on May 25

Monopis obviella (0229 Monopis obviella): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 28

Yellow-legged Clearwing (0374 Synanthedon vespiformis): First in Christchurch on May 22

Cocksfoot Moth (0391 Glyphipterix simpliciella): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 23

Cypress-tip Moth (409b Argyresthia cupressella): First at Blackcap Hill near Lewes on or around May 23

Alabonia geoffrella (0652 ): First at Newhaven on May 29

Tachystola acroxantha (0656 ): First at Portland on May 24

Aethes williana (0944): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 26

Cochylis molliculana (0964a): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 28

Timothy Tortrix (0989 Aphelia paleana): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 27

Lozotaenia forsterana (1002): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 28

Bactra lanceolana (1111): First at Hothfield Common near Ashford in Kent on May 24

Epiblema cynosbatella (1174): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 28

Common Grey (1334 Scoparia Ambigualis): First in Thanet area of Kent on May 27

Brown China-mark (1345 Nymphula nymphaeta): First at Hothfield Common near Ashford in Kent on May 24

Garden Pebble (1356 Evergestis forficalis): First near Brighton on May 26

European Corn-borer (1375 Ostrinia nubilalis): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Silver-ground Carpet (1727 Xanthorhoe montanata): First at Woods Mill near Henfield on May 30

Scallop Shell (1789 Rheumaptera undulata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28 (and first for the site)

Grass Rivulet (1807 Perizoma albulata): First at Lindfield (Haywards Heath) on May 25

Sandy Carpet (1808 Perizoma flavofasciata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Rannoch Looper (1896 Itame brunneata): A good first in the Thanet area on My 29

Scalloped Hazel (1920 Odontopera bidentata): First at Durlston on May 24

Pine Hawkmoth (1978 Hyloicus pinastri): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): One had been seen near Beachy Head on May 15 but it was only on May 28 that therse migrants started to arrive daily - so far only half a dozen have come to my attention in Kent and Sussex but the Butterfly Conservation national website shows 86 reports with sightings as far north as Edinburgh and in both northern and southern Ireland

Striped Hawkmoth (1990 Hyles livornica): The first had been seen at Durlston on May 22 but we now have two more of these immigrants at Wadhurst near Crowborough and at Lindfield (Haywards Heath), both on May 25. They come from north Africa along with the Painted Ladies

Elephant Hawkmoth (1991 Deilephila elpenor): The first was reported in the Brighton area on May 23

Maple Prominent (2009 Ptilodontella cucullina): First in Thanet on May 27

Large Yellow Underwing (2107 Noctua pronuba): This common migrant was first seen on May 21 at both Brighton and Gosport

Pearly Underwing (2119 Peridroma saucia): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Small Square-spot (2123 Diarsia rubi): First in the Brighton area on May 26

White Colon (2152 Sideridis albicolon): First at Rye Harbour on May 26 - this is a nationally rare coastal species illustrated on the Hants Moths website by a photo taken in 2006 by George Spraggs on Hayling

L-album Wainscot (2202 Mythimna l-album): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Flame Wainscot (2209 Mythimna flammea): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Large Nutmeg (2333 Apamea anceps): First somewhere in Sussex on May 24

Silky Wainscot (2391 Chilodes maritimus): First at Pagham Harbour on May 28

Bordered Sallow (2399 Pyrrhia umbra): First at Durlston on May 24

Bordered Straw (2403 Heliothis peltigera): First in Thanet on May 28

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): These have been seen in England since Mar 27 but there has been a great increase in numbers as a result of the current wave of migrant arrivals

Straw Dot (2474 Rivula sericealis): First at Woods Mill (Henfield) on May 30

The Snout (2477 Hypena proboscidalis): First in Brighton on May 26

Moth/Butterfly Larvae (9998): Pale Tussock moth caterpillar eating Wych Elm in Emsworth on May 28

Other Insects

Giant and Green Lacewings: Both reported for the first time on May 25, the Giant in the Rother Woods near Rye and the common species seen on Langstone South Moors

Large Rose Sawfly (Arge pagana): A troop of these colourful garden pests were photographed in a Waterloovill garden on May 27

Hornet: One in Romsey on May 24 was only the fourth report for the year and I suspect these have all been sightings of Queens that have over-wintered and have not yet produced workers.

Brown banded Carder Bee (Bombus humilis): This uncommon species was present at Dungeness on May 24 in double the expected numbers as were several other Bumblebee species

Stag Beetle: I had seen just one in Langstone on May 10 and came across no others until May 25 when a male was in our Havant garden and a female was seen at Emsworth - remarking on this to other people on May 26 I heard that the species had been seen in both Havant and the Farlington district of Portsmouth during the week ending May 24 but do not have dates.

Two banded Longhorn (Rhagium bifasciatum): Another uncommon beetle seen in Brede High Wood near Rye on May 25

Asparagus beetle (Crioceris asparagi): Several of these pests were in John Goodspeed's Portsdown garden on May 27

Garden Cross spider (Araneus diadematus): First example of a species that will soon be common was found on the Langstone Sotuh Moors on May 25

Hedgerow green spider (Araniella cucurbitina): This pretty green spider was in Brian Fellows' Emsworth garden on May 29 and he was able to photograph the underside of the abdomen which has a distinctive red spot at the rear end. As I was typing these notes on May 31 with my window open what may have been a young version of the species blew in and landed on my arm but I was unable to get a view of the underside as the spider was worried by the absence of green vegetation around it and would not stop running in search of more suitable surroundings

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Lesser meadow rue (Thalictrum minus): A colony of this has long been established in the gateway from Skew Road into Portchester Common on Portsdown and on May 29 it was near to flowering

Yellow-horned Poppy: I feel sure that others have reported this before I saw it in flower on the west shore of Hayling on May 30 but I have no other records in my database

Bastard Cabbage: My first encounter with this for the year was on the west Hayling seawall where the Saltmarsh Lane wetland drains into Langstone Harbour - here the yellow flowered plant is dominant for around 100 metres and has already developed its distinctive 'chianti bottle' seed pods

Large Bittercress (Cardamine amara): I found just one plant of this in flower at the Langstone South Moors on May 25 - although the plant was small I measured the width of the flowers and found they were at least 1cm across, much too big for the similar looking Watercress which I have yet to find in flower.

Chalk Millkwort: On May 29 on Portchester Common at the west end of Portsdown I was for the first time confident that I had found this species - see my Diary entry

Heath milkwort (Polygala serpyllifolia): Reported as in flower on Hothfield Common near Ashford in Kent on May 24

Pale Flax: Brian Fellows found this on Hayling Beachlands (east of the fun fair) on May 29 - the first local report though it was flowering at Durlston on May 8

Thyme-leaved Sandwort: A couple of plants in flower on the pavement at the junction of the Twitten and South Street in Havant on May 25

Greater Sea Spurrey: Though I have seen Lesser Sea Spurrey in flower since Apr 14 I had not seen Greater until May 30 when the large white stars of its flowers could be seen in the lowlying field at the north end of the Hayling Coastal path as I cycled past

Least Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis exilis): On May 25 this had started to flower in its Langstone village stronghold at the junction of Southbrook Road and the footpath going north from Langstone Mill to Havant town centre

Hop Trefoil: This was flowering for the first time at several places on Hayling on May 30

Smooth Tare: This started to flower on May 25 (found in Southmoor Lane that day and lots more at Broadmarsh on the day after)

Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia): This was also first found in Southmoor Lane on May 25 with masses on the top of the Broadmarsh 'mountain' next day. While at Broadmarsh I found a few developing plants of Hairy Vetchling but they were nowhere near flowering.

Ribbed Melilot: First flowers seen by Harts Farm Way in the Broadmarsh area on May 26

Toothed Medick (Medicago polymorpha): Plants which had already started to set seed were found by Peter Pond in Emsworth on May 25

Kidney Vetch: This had started flowering at Durlston on Apr 30 but I did not see any locally until May 29

Sainfoin: The pink colour of the flower was already showing on Portsdown on Apr 29 but it was not until May 29 that I came across plants in full flower

Bladder Senna: On May 30 the yellow flowers of this were well out on the one gnarled bush of this species to be found on the east side of The Kench (south Hayling)

Burnet Rose: First flowers reported at Durlston on May 24 (so worth checking the Hayling beach)

Sweet Briar: A good display started to appear in the Havant Arts Centre carpark on the Billy Trail (southern end, west side) on May 25. I have come to recognize these among the very similar Dog Roses by their deep pink flowers and 'apple' scent but this year I checked the leaves with a hand lens and found the veins under the leaves, and the edges of the 'teeth' on the side of the leaves, both had many dark red glandular hairs to make the id more certain.

Round-leaved Sundew: Found on May 24 at Hothfield Common near Ashford in Kent so no doubt now appearing in the New Forest bogs

English Stonecrop: First flowers reported from south Hayling by Brian Fellows on May 29

Square-stalked Willowherb: One example of this found in flower on May 25 among the mass of Broad-leaved Willowherb now in flower

White Bryony: First flowers seen on May 25 long after Black Bryony started to flower on May 2

Rough Chervil: Just one fresh plant of this flowering on Portsdown (Portchester Common) on May 29 marking the start of the second generation of common umbellifers as Cow Parsley wanes

Corky-fruited Water Dropwort: Another significant first find of an umbellifer by Brian Fellows on Hayling on May 27

Bog Pimpernel: First flowers at Hothfield Common (Ashford. Kent) on May 24 - last year I did not find this on the Warblington SSSI until June 13 (its flowering is probably delayed there by shade from trees)

Wild Privet: Starting to flower on Portsdown on May 29

Field Bindweed: Flowering at Durlston on May 30

Hedge Bindweed: On May 26 quite a few flowers were open on plants which (for lack of taller vegetation) crawl along the ground among the grasses on the top of Broadmarsh mountain

Mullein species: A couple of tall plants growing on Sinah Common (immediately opposite Staunton Avenue) on May 29 could possibly be the Verbascum macrocarpum species which was found on North Common (Hayling) in Aug 2007 and said to be a 'first for Europe' (possibly having arrived from Iraq). They will need more investigation!

Small Yellow (or Straw) Foxglove: Not quite flowering on Portsdown on May 29

Common Toadflax: First flowers seen on north Hayling on May 30

Field Cow-Wheat: Some 24 plants flowering at the only Hampshire site on Portsdown on May 29

Eyebright: This had been reported at Durlston on May 14 but the first local sighting was on Portsdown on May 29

Lousewort: This had started to flower on Hothfield Common at Ashford on May 24

Self Heal: First flowers in Havant on May 25

Water Forget-me-not: Flowering at the Langstone South Moors on May 25 near to the smaller flowered Tufted Forget-me-not which has been out since May 14

Viper's Bugloss: One impressive tall plant in full flower beside Harts Farm Way at Broadmarsh on May 26

Hoary Plantain: My first sight of this in flower was on Portsdown on May 29

Sheep's Bit: This lovely flower was out on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 30

Honeysuckle: What seem to be genuine wild plants in my garden hedge started to flower on May 25 and by May 29 this was in full flower on south Hayling

Field Scabious: First flowers found by Brian Fellows on May 29 alongside the Langstone Harbour entrance (close to the Golf Course fence north of the Ferry Sailing Club)

Black Knapweed: First flowers seen at Broadmarsh on May 26

Greater Knapweed: First flowers on Portsdown on May 29

Salsify: Although Brian Fellows had found the first flowers on the Hayling Coastal Path on May 19 the massive display of more than 50 plants growing on top of the Broadmarsh mountain is worth a mention (look for them in the morning as the flowers close around midday)

Orange Hawkweed (Fox and Hounds): Flowering in Kent (Thanet) on May 26

White Helleborine: These orchids were flowering in Inholmes Wood near Staughton on May 25 with Birds Nest Orchids nearby

Burnt Orchid: A few of these were out at Martin Down on May 26 (14 spikes counted on May 28)

Man Orchid: These were flowering on Wolstonbury Hill at Pycombe (north of Brighton) on May 24

Pyramidal Orchid: An early specimen had started to flower in the Staughton area (head of the Ems valley) on May 26

Bee Orchid: I was surprised to find a full grown specimen (though with its flower head still sheathed) near the Langstone roundabout on the A27 at Havant on May 25. First flowers reported in Kent on May 26 and by May 30 130 plants were flowering at Durlston. My first local flowers were seen by the Hayling Coastal Path on May 30

Heath Spotted Orchid: These were out at Hothfield Common at Ashford on May 24 and can probably now be found at Hookheath (northern foot of Portsdown)

Southern Marsh Orchid: At least 50 had started to flower at the Langstone South Moors on May 25

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: One was seen crossing a path near the rubbish tip adjacent to Keyhaven Marshes on May 25. I believe there is a thriving Otter population in the Lymington river, the estuary of which is 4 km east of this point but the Avon Water stream is only some 500 metres west of the point and this sighting could either be of an Otter making a direct overland crossing between the two streams or of one that has used the Solent as a route between Lymington River and Avon Water, then done some exploratory scouting of its new area (do Otters scavenge on rubbish tips??)

Porpoise: One seen off the south Devon coast on May 27 was only the second to be mentioned on the websites which I monitor since the beaching and death of one near the Oysterbeds in Langstone Harbour on Feb 11

Bank Vole: Walking along Mill Lane at Langstone on May 25 I had a brief view of what was probably a Bank Vole in the roadside flower bed opposite the entrance to Harbourside. As soon as it saw me the Vole shot back into cover, unlike the one which I saw at the junction of Solent Road and Brockhampton Road on Mar 21 - that one was happy to emerge from cover onto the bare pavement time after time despite the close presence of three or four human watchers

Hare: On May 26 birders on the shore of the Swale estuary in north Kent commented on the presence of a Hare on what I think was a shingle beach - was it about the swim the estuary to the Isle of Sheppey?

Marsh Frog: One was reported to have been heard on the 'Railway Land' near the Sussex Ouse where it passes Lewes on May 26. I was not aware that they had spread that far west from the original introduction into the Romney Marshes though I have heard reliable reports of them in the Shatterford area of the New Forest (whether either or both of these sites are the result of natural spread or are the result of further introductions is not known). The following facts are given on http://www.introduced-species.co.uk/Species/amphibians/marsh%20frog.htm (a website that might be useful in connection with other introduced species (it seems to cover everything from mammals to algae) - this site says about Marsh Frogs .. "Description: This large frog species was a garden escapee from a home on the edge of Romney Marsh in the 1930s. It has spread since to cover a large area of Kent and East Sussex. It has a distinctive laughing call and is rarely found very far from water. Introduced: 1934 Origin: Eastern Europe Location: South West England (Kent and E Sussex) Status: Increasing Problems: None known " The WildaboutBritain website confirms that they occur at Lewes and says .. "Marsh frogs are relatively easy to see if you visit one of their known haunts though you may have to be stealthy - the Lewes Brooks in Sussex and Romney Marsh in Kent. Imitating the call of the male can sometimes trigger a responding chorus from nearby individuals (though people will look at you very strangely) are strongholds."

Smooth Snake: One is reported to have been seen at Noar Hill near Selborne on May 25 but this came from a butterfly hunter and they may have been deceived by an Adder which did not have a strong zig-zag pattern on its back. The National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme has a map of sites where the species had been seen up to 2007 at http://www.narrs.org.uk/pop_up_map.html and their website also tells us that .. "The smooth snake is the UK’s rarest native reptile, being restricted to lowland heathland areas of southern England. Its natural range shrank to Dorset, Surrey and Hampshire due to massive historical loss of its heathland habitat. However, a reintroduction programme led by the HCT has brought smooth snakes back to Sussex and several parts of Surrey and Hampshire where it had become extinct. The largest area of heathland occupied by the smooth snake is the New Forest, though it is by no means ubiquitous across the area." Another website (www.wildlifebritain.com ) says .. "The Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) is a non-venomous snake and is exceptionally rare in the British Isles, it’s sightings are not helped by the fact that it is easily mistaken with the adder at a glance, although it does not have the same distinct solid zigzag appearance on its back." As Noar Hill is not a heathland site and does not appear on the 2007 map I am dubious about this report.


Summary for May 18 - 24 (Week 20 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Fulmars are still increasing in number on the south coast and are checking out potential nest sites on town buildings as Herring Gulls and Lesser Blackbacks have done before them. Another seabird that may be extending its breeding range into Hampshire is Common Gull. Late migrant Brent are only just leaving us and large flocks are still moving north on the near continent. The first Sooty Shearwater of the year has been seen off Dorset and a White-winged Black Tern in Holland while the first Purple Heron has arrived in England. Another new arrival this week is Bee-eater. The decline of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker may well be linked to increasing numbers of Great Spotted - one of the latter has been seen eating the chicks in a Lesser Spotted's nest. Another species that seems to have ceased to breed in Hampshire is Wheatear. Local news is of a pair of Lapwing on Westbourne Common near Emsworth and a couple of singing Corn Buntings on the Chidham penninsula - less exciting are the first young House Sparrows and Starlings out of their nests. Other highlights are the first Marsh Warbler trapped in Dorset where a couple of Woodchat Shrikes have turned up (two Red-backed have reached Belgium). For this week's light relief we have a Golden Oriole singing to a Mermaid on Portland.

The dragonfly season is now under way with 12 species in the news including the first Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer and Banded Demoiselle. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has joined the butterfly species on the wing and an army of Painted Ladies has started to arrive bringing 100+ to Portland with Red Admirals and Rusty Dot Pearl moths. Other new moths include both Broad- and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoths, plus Cream Spot Tigers . Hampshire has its first Hornet and May-bug on the wing. For macabre interest we have a Lesser Stag Beetle whose pincers were still active 24 hours after its thorax and abdomen had been dismembered by a Magpie.

A newcomer on Portsdown is Knapweed Broomrape while colourful Salsify has been found on north Hayling (although the Flora of Hants lists this plant as very rare it is now common to abundant in the Havant/Portsmouth area and continues to spread). The genuinely rare Hairy Garlic has flowered in the Emsworth area and other new flowers are Hawkweed Oxtongue, Biting Stonecrop and Bird's Nest Orchid. For local interest Southern Marsh Orchids are starting to flower

Coot on Ivy Lake at Chichester were happy enough to mob a Fox swimming across the lake but soon scattered when the Fox reached dry land and turned on them.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Slavonian Grebe: One could still be seen at the Dungeness RSPB reserve in its full summer plumage on May 15.

Fulmar: These continue to increase in number as breeding birds on the south coast and a shortage of available cliff nest sites seems to be causing the birds to prospect for places to nest on buildings here in the south as they do in the north of England. A report on the SOS website on May 16 of one apparently prospecting for a site in the middle of Seaford town brought several further observations of similar activity in various Sussex towns. (I am not aware of any record of nesting on buildings in Sussex so far)

Cory's Shearwater: Two 'probables' were seen on the Devon coast on May 17

Sooty Shearwater: First report of this species for the current year is of one on Poole Bay on May 17

Manx Shearwater: Large number seen off both Devon and Cornwall this week with a max of an estimated 1200 at Sennen on the Cornish coast on May 18 (Devon had 1182 off Berry Head on May 19)

Balearic Shearwater: Reported at Portland on five days this week with a peak count of 4 on May 19

Storm Petrel: Seen off the Devon and Cornish shores on May 17, 18 and 19 with peak counts of 21 at Newquay in Cornwall on May 17 and 15 off Berry Head in Devon on May 18

Little Bittern: The female which has been on St Mary's (Scillies) since May 11 was still there on May 18

Little Egret: Both sound and sight suggested that several young had hatched in the trees at Langstone Mill Pond on May 20 but there was no definite evidence

Purple Heron: These have been reported at several Dutch sites since Mar 13 and fifteen were reported at one site on Apr 30. On May 17 the first to be reported in Britain this year flew in from the east at Dungeness on May 17 and 'continued inland'.

Spoonbill: On May 17 two were seen at the Exe estuary in Devon and on May 21 four were briefly at Titchfield Haven with another report of four over Dungeness on May 22

Brent Goose: 9 seen at Stoke Bay on the West Hayling shore on May 19 were almost certainly intending to spend the summer in Langstone Harbour but on that day 13 flew east out to sea from the Norfolk coast while a total of 105 went north over a Dutch site on May 20. That was not the last sighting as another Dutch site had 269 going north on May 23

Velvet Scoter: One was seen among 200 Common Scoter passing Selsey Bill on May 20

Honey Buzzard: On May 20 a 'probable' flew high over Southampton city centre and on May 22 Lee Evans watched a pair in the New Forest, commenting that .. "both birds appeared to already be paired up and rather than displaying, were engaged in mainly low feeding exercises just above the canopy of the trees". I found this puzzling as I have always understood that Honey Buzzards were ground feeders, digging out nests of wasps and some bee species to eat the grubs - do they also catch and eat adult insects on the wing?

Black Kite: On May 17 one was seen over Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and on May 20 one flew in from the sea at Dungeness and continued west

Marsh Harrier: A female was hunting over the Fishlake Meadows by the River Test just north of Romsey on May 21 and another arrived in this country on May 22, seen over Christchurch Harbour

Hen Harrier: A late bird was over Littlesea at Weymouth on May 20 - the first seen in southern England since Apr 28

Montagu's Harrier: Two Hoslist messages from Lee Evans this week revealed a couple of things that I did not know about this species - firstly that there are at least 27 pairs breeding in the UK this year and secondly that they like to breed in small groups close to others of the same species

Quail: One on St Mary's in the Scillies on May 19 was the third report from southern England this summer - the first was at Titchfield Haven on May 13 and the second in Kent (Thanet) on May 14. Latest news is of one calling in the Adur valley (near Coombes Farm where the river cuts through the Downs) on May 23

Black-winged Pratincole: The bird which was first seen in the Kent Stour valley on May 8 was still there on May 18

Lapwing: I was surprised and pleased to hear that a pair was present on Westbourne Common (the pony fields north of Westbourne village in the Ems Valley) on May 21. This species has almost entirely ceased to breed in south east Hampshire. There may still be one or two pairs at Farlington Marshes (but Foxes take almost all the eggs laid there) and up to a dozen pairs still nest on the Gipsies Plain (south side of Havant Thicket) but I am not aware of any other attempts at breeding in the Havant area.

Western Sandpiper: The bird which was in the Dawlish area of Devon from May 3 to 8 seems to have been still there on May 24 - its photo was taken by one Ivan Lakin on May 17 (is this the Ivan Lakin who once lived in Cosham?)

Little Stint: One at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on May 17 and 18

Purple Sandpiper: Two seen at Southsea Castle on May 17 and again on May 20

Pomarine Skua: Small numbers (max 5) at various south coast sites on May 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22 but the big numbers are still being seen heading across northern Britain along the line of the English/Scottish border with 57 recorded going north east over Bowness on Solway on May 19

Long-tailed Skua: Four went north east over Bowness on Solway on May 19 when just one was seen passing Dawlish in Devon

Med Gull: 90 pairs are currently breeding at Rye Harbour along with 1600 pairs of Black-headed and 500 pairs of Sandwich Tern

Common Gull: A pair in the Keyhaven area of the Lymington Marshes was an unusual sight on May 17 when all other Common Gulls have left the south coast to breed in northern England and Scotland. A few Common Gulls breed in south east England but until this report I have not come across any breeding attempts west of East Sussex so this pair at Keyhaven may be making a significant extension to the breeding range of the species. Last year at this time I wrote the following in my summary for the week from June 9 to 15 ...

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.

Gull-billed Tern: One seen at Topsham in Devon on May 23

Roseate Tern: A bird in full summer plumage was at Titchfield Haven on May 20 (not sure if this is a new arrival or one that has been there since May 11) and two were there on May 21

Little Tern: Still no sign of any attempting to breed at the Hayling Oysterbeds - on May 19 Brian Fellows saw one land on the nest island carrying a fish in its beak as if intending to present it to a mate but, seeing there were no other Little Terns there, it flew off again after a few seconds.

White-winged Black Tern: First report of this species for the year comes from a Dutch site on May 23

Turtle Dove: Brian Fellows has been lucky enough to see single Turtle Doves at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 13, 14 and 19 - the birds have been heard to sing but there has been no sign of a second bird and the one seen on May 19 could not be re-found on May 20

Ring-necked Parakeet: One flying low over the Paulsgrove housing estate (southern foot of Portsdown) on May 21 is likely to have been an escape from captivity

Barn Owl: When I was at North Common (Hayling) on May 20 the small owl box near the entrance to this open space had seemingly fresh white splashes on its roof as if it was currently being used as a perch. If a pair are present they are probably using a larger owl box recently erected in another part of the open space area.

Nightjar: On the evening of May 22 a pair in the New Forest were not only heard and seen in the air but were also seen to land and then mate on the ground.

Swift: Birds are showing signs of intending to nest in both Emsworth and Havant. On May 20 at least three birds spent an hour or more circling over the houses in Manor Close, Havant, and in Emsworth on that day seven birds were screaming around the house tops - some birds have been seen in both areas on other recent days.

Pallid Swift: One has been seen well over St Mary's in the Scillies from May 17 to 19 at least

Bee-eater: First report for this year is of a party of six at Rodden Hive (by The Fleet north of Weymouth) on May 20. This has been followed on May 23 by a sighting of one going west across Culver Down from the Bembridge Foreland on the Isle of Wight

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: One reason for the diminishing number of these birds is revealed in an observation from Partridge Green near Horsham in Sussex. The observer had found the nest of a pair of Lesser Spots but on Apr 28 (shortly after the young had hatched) he saw that the entrance hole had been enlarged and he watched a Great Spot emerge after eating the young of the Lessers. The fact that Lessers chose habitat of the type also favoured by Greaters is emphasised in another report from the New Forest were a Lesser was seen drumming on a branch with a Great Spot also drumming only four feet away on the same branch

Red-rumped Swallow: One arrived at Dungeness on May 16 and maybe the same bird was seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 18. In the Scillies two were seen on St Mary's on May 18 with one seen there on May 19. On May 23 there were two independent sightings in the Eastleigh area north of Southampton

House Martin: Scolt Head on the Norfolk coast reported 2112 flying west (presumably newly arriving in Britain) on May 19. On May 20 I was delighted to have a party of 7 low over my garden and to see them flying up to inspect the eaves of my house and my neighbour's - they did not stay on this occasion and it is some 30 years since they did nest on my house but today's observation shows that they could return. On May 21 some were still in the area and one was seen checking out the eaves of a block of flats opposite the Havant Post Sorting Office in Beechworth Road.

Wheatear: These are already feeding young in nests at Rye Harbour and this makes be wonder if any are nesting in Hampshire this year (as recently as 1993 the Hampshire Bird Report estimated up to 25 pairs were breeding in the county). At least one pair seems to have been still breeding here up to 2005 but no evidence of breeding was reported in 2006 and in 2007 the only evidence was a sighting of two juveniles on one date in July (no proof that they nested here) and last year I came across no reports of the species in the county between Apr 22 and Aug 6 (though I would not expect evidence of breeding to be made public)

Marsh Warbler: One was trapped and ringed at Abbotsbury In Dorset on May 23 - first for this year.

Spotted Flycatcher: This week has brought a peak of this species' arrival in Britain with 9 at Portland and 6 at Pagham North Walls on May 21 and more than 9 at Christchurch Harbour on May 22

Golden Oriole: On May 19 one was heard singing outside the Mermaid pub on Portland and on May 20 several excellent photos were taken of a male in flight around the observatory there. On May 22 there was a brief probable sighting of one at the Sainsbury's store at Hedge End near Southampton.

Red-backed Shrike: One had been seen on the north Kent coast on Apr 25 but the only other sighting so far is of two in Belgium on May 23

Woodchat Shrike: No reports from The Scillies or Cornwall since May 16 but one was at Portland on May 23 and 24 with a separate bird at the Dancing Ledge of the Purbeck coast on May 23

Starling: The first juveniles were out of their nests in the Christchurch Harbour area ( and elsewhere ) on May 22 and a small group of them flew over my house on May 24

House Sparrow: Juveniles out of the nest were being fed in Brian Fellows' Emsworth garden on May 19

Corn Bunting: Up to 25 are currently resident/breeding at Martin Down in Hampshire (but near Salisbury) and more than 10 were singing on Tarrant Rushton airfield in Dorset on May 22. On May 20 Kevin Stouse heard two singing on the Chidham penninsula (east of Thorney Island) in the same place that two were reported singing on Apr 18 (SU 791043 where a footpath coming across the fields meets Steels Lane where it makes a right angle bend just north of Middleton Farm)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Emperor Dragonfly: First report of this species comes from Rye Harbour where the empty cases of 36 larvae were found on May 22

Black-tailed Skimmer: Rye Harbour also has the first report of these with 4 empty cases found on May 22

Banded Demoiselle: The first report of this comes from Brook Meadow in Emsworth were a female was seen on May 23

White-legged Damselfly: First report comes from Iden near Rye where one was photographed on May 22 (the report adds that a recent guide book suggesst re-naming this species as Blue Featherleg)

Other species getting a mention this week are Downy Emerald, Four-spotted Chaser, Large Red Damsel, Azure, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damsels plus Red-eyed and Variable Damsels showing that the Dragonfly season is now under way.

Butterflies

26 species reported so far this week with only one newcomer (Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary) and a significant increase in Painted Lady migrants

Small Blue: A good count of 50 at a quarry in the Newhaven area on May 22

Common Blue: An estimated 50 were flying at Cissbury Ring, north of Worthing, on May 20

Adonis Blue: 60 were seen on Mill Hill at Shoreham on May 20

Holly Blue: The appearance of one (maybe two) in my garden on May 24 after not seeing one since May 11 was a pleasant surprise

Duke of Burgundy: 75 were seen at Porton Down (north of the A30 about 10km north east of Salisbury) on an unpropitious windy day (May 16) and among 22 seen at an un-named Sussex site on May 19 was one nectaring on Common Spotted Orchid (a previously un-recorded food plant for adults of the species)

Red Admiral: The appearance of 3 at Portland on May 21 and others at Durlston on May 23 suggests that these are migrants coming to us with the Painted Ladies and Silver Y moths

Painted Lady: At least 21 reports in the past week show that more migrants are now reaching England. On May 21 the count at Portland was over 100 following news from an observer in the Brussels area on May 20 of around 300 seen there all heading west towards us.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary: The first report for this year is of a single seen in Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) on May 16

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: Only six were seen in Bentley Wood on May 16 but there were 26 at Porton Down that day despite the wind

Glanville Fritillary: The first of these was seen on the Isle of Wight on Apr 24 with more than 60 in the Ventnor area on May 9 but the small colony at Hurst Castle on the mainland has only recently started to emerge with just six seen there on May 23

Wall Brown: Although this species is becoming very scarce in Hampshire (the Keyhaven area of the Lymington Marshes is the only site in the county to report it this year with a maximum of 5 butterflies there on May 6) it seems to be surviving in Sussex with many reports from at least 8 sites so far this year (max count of 39 on downs above the Cuckmere Valley on May 22)

Small Heath: This seems to be having a poor season - of 20 reports since the first appeared on Apr 21 only one has a count of more than six butterflies - the exception being Butser Hill near Petersfield where 26 were seen on May 11

Moths

Plum Tortrix (1082 Hedya pruniana): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 19

Rusty-dot Pearl (1395 Udea ferrugalis): First of these migrants at Portland on May 21

Rush Veneer (1398 Nomophila noctuella): First for the year on Walland Marsh, east of Rye, on May 20

Mullein Wave (1689 Scopula marignepunctata): First at Rye Harbour on May 23

Cream Wave (1693 Scopula floslactata): First seen on Edburton Hill east of the Adur valley on May 16

Oblique Striped (1718 Phibalapteryx virgata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 16

Pretty Chalk Carpet (1784 Melanthia procellata): First seen on Edburton Hill east of the Adur valley on May 16

Clouded Silver (1958 Lomographa temerata): First at Hastings Country Park on May 23

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (1982 Hemaris tityus): First seen on Porton Down (by the A30 northeast of Salisbury) on May 16

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (1983 Hamaris fuciformis): First seen on Porton Down (by the A30 northeast of Salisbury) on May 16

Striped Hawkmoth (1990 Hyles lineata): First at Durlston on May 22

Dew moth (2036 Setina irrorella): First at Folkestone on or before May 10

Cream-spot Tiger (2058 Arctia villica): First at Durlston on May 22

Buff Ermine (2061 Spilosoma luteum): First at Durlston on May 22

Common Wainscot (2199 Mythimna pallens): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 19

Small Angle Shades (2305 Euplexia lucipara): First at Hastings Country Park on May 23

Marbled Minor (2337 Oligia strigilis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 18

Small Yellow Underwing (2397 Panemeria tenebrata): First by day at Castle Hill near Brighton on May 18

Burnished Brass (2434 Diachrysia chrysitis): First at Portslade district of Brighton on May 16

Gold Spot (2439 Plusia festucae): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 16

Other Insects

Crane Fly species (Ctenophera atrata): Seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 23

Hornet: Although one had been seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 22 there have been no more reports until May 14 when one was seen in the Sway area of Hants (near New Milton) and on May 21 another was seen in the Botley Woods north of Fareham

Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus): A male was in my Havant garden on the evening of May 22 when it was caught by a Magpie - see my diary entry for May 23 for an account of how the wing and 'pincer' muscles were still working up to 24 hours after the insect had been separated into three parts (head, thorax and abdomen) by the Magpie giving the Magpie a problem when trying to eat its prey and giving my finger a sharp nip when I picked up the bodiless head next day.

Cockchafer (May Bug): Although one had been seen at Rye on Apr 22 there have been no more reports until May 14 when one was seen in the Sway area of Hants

Four-jawed Spider (Tetragnatha extensa): A full grown specimen of this long-bodied spider of damp places was found at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 23

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

White Water-lily: Plants flowering on a pond in the Oyster Quay housing area south of Emsworth marina on May 19

Common Fumitory: Although I have seen several plants of Common Ramping Fumitory since Apr 27 I did not find this smaller plant until May 21 when I saw it flowering in the Havant New Lane allotments.

Black Mustard: Many plants in full flower on the western seawall of Emsworth marina on May 19 were the first I know of

Dame's Violet: The colony at the Hayling Oysterbeds is currently at its best and seems to have increased considerably in number thanks to clearance of bramble and other plants by volunteers last year.

Hedgerow Cranesbill: On May 6 I recorded a single plant with flowers on the roadside of Southmoor Lane as the first for the year despite it having been cut down. On May 19 a great display of living plants was seen on the western seawall of Emsworth marina and subsequently I have seen flowers at Hayling North Common

Spanish Broom: This had started to flower in Emsworth marina on May 19

Subterranean Clover: This was found by Brian Fellows flowering in the south eastern field of Warblington Farm on May 18

Biting Stonecrop: Flowers had opened on this in the pavement of Swallow Close (Denvilles area of Havant) on May 21

Hemlock: The first plant in full flower was beside the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on May 23

Ground Elder: This pernicious weed had started to flower in Havant on May 18

Purple Toadflax: Started to flower in Havant on May 18

Hedge Woundwort: The first open flower on this was seen in Havant on May 18

Russian Comfrey: Although I had seen a cluster of plants flowering in the Havant New Lane allotments on May 1 I was pleased to find a large colony of genuinely wild plants on the north east sea wall of the old boating lake at North Common on Hayling on May 20. To see them go to the north end of the path along the east side of the marina area and then turn right for a short distance on a little used path through the rough grass.

Knapweed Broomrape: Brian Fellows found a couple of these tall yellow Broomrapes in the Fort Purbrook area on May 20 (no flowers were then open)

Common Broomrape: The three plants flowering on the north side of the path from the main road at the south end of Langstone Bridge to the north end of the Hayling Coastal Path, found by John Goodspeed on May 13, had become four when I was there on May 20 (look at the east end of the final straight section of this path around the south end of 'Texaco Bay' before reaching the old rail track)

Red Valerian: The colony of white flowered plants on the grass of the southern pier of Langstone Bridge were in full flower on May 20. (Look on the east side at the very north end of the pier)

Common Ragwort: A plant at the south end of Langstone Bridge was starting to open its flowers on May 20

Salsify: First find of this in flower was made by Brian Fellows on May 19 at the north end of the Hayling Coastal Path (coming north from the Oysterbeds look on the east side of the track about 26 metres south of where you turn east along the path around the south end of Texaco Bay). These flowers (like Goatsbeard or 'Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon') close up and become difficult to spot after mid-day. There should soon be a great display of Salsify on the very top of the Broadmarsh 'mountain' above Broadmarsh slipway. Salsify is not listed in Pete Durnell's 'Wildlife of Hayling' though I have come across it on Sinah Common in 2005 and it is fairly common in the Portsmouth area

Hawkweed Oxtongue: I was surprised to find this already in flower near the New Lane level crossing in Havant on May 18 though I see I found it on Portsdown on May 19 last year.

Garden Asparagus: This plant devlops into flowering plants which remind me of very delicate Christmas trees with their branches decked with tiny round baubles of flowers (nothing like the Asparagus tips that we eat) and I found two of these at the west end of the Hayling North Common area on May 20

Hairy Garlic: Brian Fellows has a photo of this in flower at Nore Barn (Emsworth) on May 18 (flowers were found on these plants on May 10 last year - the first time that I had heard of them flowering). I hope that my nettle clearing around the plants this year as last year helped with the eventual flowering!

Turkish Iris (Iris orientalis): I found a plant of this flowering at North Common on Hayling on May 20 though I am slightly dubious about the id. Turkish Iris is normally shown as having white flowers with a prominent splash of yellow at the tip of the petal where these flowers are more generally suffused with yellow (but are not, I am pretty sure, flowers of Stinking Iris and certainly not Yellow Iris). I have found several examples of this plant around the North Common area old boating lake in past years and suspect they were planted by the old Holiday Camp management.

Bird's Nest Orchid: The SOS birding website had a photo of one of these orchids in full flower on Ebernoe Common (north of Midhurst) on May 16

Common Spotted Orchid: Brian Fellows found 66 of these in flower at Fort Purbrook on Portsdown on May 20 (and another has been mentioned in the Insects section as providing nectar for a Duke of Burgundy butterfly)

Southern Marsh Orchid: Durlston reported this in flower on May 23 and on that day Brian Fellows could see the colour of flowers about to open at Brook Meadow in Emsworth

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: On May 19 a Fox was seen to swim from the island in the middle of Ivy Lake (Chichester) to the shore followed by a fleet of 50 Coots and 2 Swans who felt safe from attack while the Fox was in the water but which scattered like frighened chickens as soon as the Fox reached dry land and shook the water out of his coat

Roe Deer: One seen at Durlston was wearing its bright chestnut summer coat on May 21 and a mid-week note from an observer whose house backs onto the north Hayling fields says that he is still having regular sightings of a group of six (adult and young bucks plus four does). In the past few years the number on these fields had increased to more than 12 with evidence of breeding over several years. The reduced number seen this week is probably the result of the total group having split into several groups using different areas but it may be significant that on Apr 28 a doe was seen to swim across the Emsworth channel from Hayling to Thorney Island - have others also left Hayling?

Water Vole: Increase activity seen along the River Ems at Brook Meadow has brought the total of sightings there up to 90 for this year

Frog: Common Frog tadpoles are now quite a rarity so a good show of them in a pond at Brandy Hole Copse (on the north western fringe of Chichester) was a welcome sight on May 19. The name Brandy Hole Copse seems to have been adopted by a conservation group caring for this wood but the Ordnance Survey maps show it as East Broyle Copse.

Slow-worm: While clearing dead bluebells from my garden on May 21 one handful of the soggy leaves started wriggling as a large Slow-worm make its escape from my grasp (in recent years I have seen a Magpie catch one in my garden but was able to rescue it before it was badly injured)

Fungi: A tight cluster of small, greasy capped, fungi seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on May 18 were probably a Tricholoma species - maybe T. ustale?


Summary for May 11 - 17 (Week 19 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

This week's bird news has as its star a Black-winged Pratincole in Kent, closely followed by a probable Bulwer's Petrel in the English channel. Also in the news are both Cory's Shearwater and Storm Petrel, and for 'comic relief' the observation of a Mute Swan mating with a Black Swan. Also seen mating in mid-air were a pair of Swifts and from the Lewes area comes evidence that several passerine bird species are successfully raising larger broods than they have done in recent years. Still on the subject of breeding we have an observation of Kittiwakes flying inland from their cliff nest sites to collect grass clippings from a sports field in order to line their nests. A couple of Quail have arrived and a large influx of Red Kites seems to have occurred in Cornwall (birds from Spain coming here of their own volition and not press-ganged by the RSPB?). Roseate Terns are starting to reach us and the Langstone RSPB warden is very upbeat about the likelihood of Little Terns breeding on his islands (but not at the Oysterbeds). A big surge of birds on the move this week brought Icterine, Melodious, Sub-alpine and a Great Reed Warbler across the Channel plus several more Golden Orioles.

No new Dragonflies but we have news of the first Clouded Yellow of the year and a sizeable invasion of Painted Ladies together with 29 new moth species on the wing including the first Elephant and Hummingbird Hawkmoths. Other insects include the first Stag Beetle of the year.

Two plant finds in the Broadmarsh area were of Rosy Garlic and Montpellier Broom (a species I had never come across in the wild before). I also found a name (Rosa spinosissima) for a Burnet type rose growing in the Eastern Road cemetery. In Emsworth the first Common Spotted Orchids started to flower and leaves were found on the first Southern Marsh orchids at Langstone South Moors

Other Wildife news includes the find of a Fox Cub playground, signs of Wild Boar in East Sussex and the unlikely tale of a Southsea resident finding a living Sea Horse on their lawn (and getting it to the Sea Life Centre before it expired)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Bulwer's Petrel: In my mid-week summary preface I mentioned a mystery seabird seen from Portland and Selsey Bill on May 13 and I reported one opinion that it was a Nightjar. Later contributions on the subject have convinced me that it was almost certainly a Bulwer's Petrel and would have been reported as such were it not that no self-respecting experienced birder wanted to expose himself to the shame of having his report arbitrarily thrown out of court by the Rarities Panel (as it would almost certainly have been). Bulwer's breed in the Azores, Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde islands area (which I read to my surprise is called 'Macronesia', not to be confused with Micronesia in the Pacific, and properly written as 'Macaronesia' from the ancient greek name of 'fortunate isles' which they used for this area ) so it is not impossible for a dis-oriented bird to fly into the English channel. In the breeding area the birds are nocturnal but in the open oceans they must fly by day so the fact this bird was seen by day is no objection and the descriptons given (all dark plumage, short body so that neither head nor tail could be made out at a distance. long wings, and the regular flap, flap, flap, flap and then glide on bowed wings) all agree with what I have read of Bulwers. Owen Mitchell's account of the sighting from Selsey reads .. "An all dark petrel-like bird headed E about 3/4 mile out and was watched by 6 observers for 10 mins. First thought was a possible small falcon, but no, flight was wrong, flap flap flap flap short glide low over the waves, it was surely an all-blackish sea-bird, eventually lost to view well out. Dark-rumped petrel???". Although some reports of Bulwer's Petrels on the English South Coast in the early 20th centure were thought to have been false claims (the 'Hastings rarities') Ads Bowley contributed the following to the discussion of the current mystery bird .. "On July 14th 1998 at 10.46, I was sitting at the Bill with 5 other observers watching Storm Petrels. We'd just followed one flying west until it disappeared from our view behind the wall, then began to pan back eastwards when myself and another got onto the same bird flap-flap-gliding westwards. "I've got a small skua" says he "That ain't a small skua, that's a bloody big petrel!" says I. Sure enough, the bird (about 1/2 distance out) showed it's tapering cigar shaped body, long pointed wings and the greyish panel was even visible as it banked - a Bulwer's Petrel! It was also seen past St Catherine's Point a couple of hours later."

Cory's Shearwater: On May 16 one was seen flying west past Portland, then at three sites in Devon and one in Cornwall.

Manx Shearwater: Among a good number of smaller counts this week has brought reports of 500 off Portland on May 15, followed by 226 off Selsey and 910 off Prawle Point in Devon on May 16

Balearic Shearwater: These have been seen in the English Channel daily from May 7 to 16 with a peak count of 5 at Portland and singles in the Hurst/Milford area east of Lymington on both May 11 and 16. Another was seen at Selsey on May 16

Storm Petrel: This week has brought the first two reports of these for this year. On May 16 two were off Prawle Point in Devon and one off Portland

Little Bittern: A female was found on St Mary's island in the Scillies on May 11 and was still there on May 16

Cattle Egret: One at the Bembridge Marshes on the IoW on May 16 is the first report since the one at Sandy Point on Hayling on May 5

Great White Egret: On May 13 one flew over the roundabout in the Fishbourne area at the west end of the Chichester bypass.

Spoonbill: One has been at Christchurch Harbour from May 12 to 16 at least and another flew high NW over the Worthing area on May 14

Mute Swan: I see from John Goodspeed's website that the Langstone pond pair were photographed with their six cygnets on May 6 (four days before I first found them in the Langbrook stream). All six cygnets were still with the parents on May 14. Over on the R Itchen in Southampton one male Mute Swan out of some 65 in the area was seen mating with a Black Swan on May 14 (leading to a series of jokes on Hoslist regarding the likely colour of their offspring)

Garganey: A male was seen on the Drayton pit pool to the south east of Chichester on May 12 but it may not be attached to that area as on May 13 a similar bird was seen at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (both sightings were first reports for their sites this year)

Pochard: A female was unexpectedly seen on the Havant Budds Farm pools on May 14 among an influx of around 15 Tufted Duck

Red Breasted Merganser: These are now very scarce but Bob Chapman saw 4 fly east past Barton on Sea on May 11

Honey Buzzard: A female was seen in the New Forest on May 9 and another flew north over Pagham Harbour on May 10 while a third flew east over the Blashford Lakes on May 13. Further afield one was seen on Tresco in the Scillies on May 11 and four went over a Dutch site on May 12 followed by 15 (probably heading for Scandinavia) seen there on May 16

Black Kite: One was seen in the Beaulieu area of the New Forest on May 11 and on May 12 one was probably seen in the Embley Wood area by someone driving from the M27 at Ower towards Romsey on what is now the A3090 (was called A31). Another was over the Marazion area of Cornwall on May 12

Red Kite: A further indication that some of the many Red Kites currently being seen in the south of England are coming from the continent is given by a report of a mass influx to Cornwall on May 11. If we add the number of birds listed in the many sightings at different places in Cornwall we get a possible count of 55 birds though I am sure most of the reports were of the same birds - nevertheless one site reported 14 birds passing over, setting a minimum count. Maybe more arrived on May 12 when 9 were seen over Polgigga (close to Lands End) and at least three others were reported elsewhere.

Montagu's Harrier: One over the Thanet area of Kent on May 15 was the fifth sighting of a ringtail in that general area since Apr 27

Goshawk: Chicks can now be seen via a webcam at the Reptillary near Lyndhurst in the New Forest - to see a pre-recorded video and for details of how to get to the Reptillary go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/sites/newforest/index.asp

Hobby: Among many arrivals this week one was seen to fly in off the sea in the Hayling Beachlands area on May 14

Quail: One was seen at Titchfield Haven on May 13 after it was 'flushed' by a Magpie and it is rumoured to have still been there on the morning of May 14 when a quite separate bird was reported in the Thanet area of Kent

Common Crane: Latest sighting is of one flying over Rye Harbour on May 11

Great Bustard: The birds which have been introduced to the Salisbury Plain area are free to fly and the first to come to my attention as doing so this year was seen from a bus in the Sparsholt area west of Winchester on May 13

Avocet: Seven birds with 5 chicks were reported at Titchfield Haven on May 8 and 9 but this week a report on May 15 indicated the presence of six adults with four chicks (one pair having 3 chicks, another just 1 chick)

Stone Curlew: One flew in and landed at Christchurch Harbour on May 12 and was still there next day - presumably a young bird with no intention of breeding this year.

Black-winged Pratincole: Last week I reported the probable presence of a Pratincole (presumed to be a Collared Pratincole) in the Kent Stour valley on May 8. This week what must be the same bird has been seen by many birders in the Reculver area on the coast between Herne Bay and Margate on May 10 (frequenting a stream - more a drainage ditch - rejoicing in the name of the River Wantsum) before it returned to the Stodmarsh area of the Stour valley on May 12 and 13. It is clearly the rarer Black-winged species

Ringed Plover: A flock of 176 was just one part of a large number of waders seen on Pilsey Sands (Thorney Island) on May 13 by Barry Collins who reported .. "Good fall of small waders at Pilsey Sands this afternoon included 168 Sanderling, 176 Ringed Plover, 150 Dunlin, a summer plumage Little Stint and whilst counting these I found a male and female KENTISH PLOVER in amongst them. The female took off at 14.15 with 21 Ringed Plover and flew high and went north. The male was still there when I left at 15.30."

Kentish Plover: In addition to the two mentioned above there was a female at Dawlish Warren in Devon, also on May 13

Grey Plover: Three seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 11 were in full summer plumage.

Lapwing: Although I did not spend long searching for them I estimate there were at least eight adults still present on the Gipsies Plain grassland south of Havant Thicket on May 11

Sanderling: The flock of 168 on the Pilsey Sands on May 13 was the largest reported in the past few days but reports from Selsey, Dungeness, Hayling Island, Ferrybridge (Weymouth) and the Hurst area at Lymington show that this species (one of the last to leave us) is now on the move

Knot: These are now dropping in at unexpected places as they move east. One was at Farlington Marshes on May 14 and one at Keyhaven Marshes on May 16

Little Stint: In addition to the summer plumage bird seen on the Pilsey Sands there were two at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) also on May 13 with another at Rye Harbour that day

Temminck's Stint: One reported at Ibsley Water (Ringwood) on May 13 after one had been seen near Wadebridge in Cornwall on May 12. Sandwich Bay also had one on May 13

Pectoral Sandpiper: One seen at the Lymington Marshes on May 9 and one at the Dungeness RSPB reserve from May 10 to 13 at least

Curlew Sandpiper: One at Dungeness on May 10 and another at Christchurch Harbour on May 12, maybe moving on to the Lymington area where one was found on May 13

Purple Sandpiper: Three were still at Southsea Castle on May 15

Ruff: A party of 21 dropped in at Sandwich Bay on May 13 and one was at the Blashford Lakes on May 15 with one at Yarmouth on the IoW on May 16

Black-tailed Godwit: Ten of these were an unexpected sight flying east past Selsey Bill on May 13 and the presence of around 16 at Pulborough Brooks on May 16 probably marks the overland departure of south coast birds to Iceland

Bar-tailed Godwit: 109 went past Seaford on May 10 and 100 stopped off to feed in Stoke Bay (immediately south of the Hayling Oysterbeds) on May 12

Whimbrel: 56 went past Sandy Point on Hayling on May 11 and 21 were seen crossing Southampton Water and heading up the Itchen Valley on May 13

Wood Sandpiper: The first spring passage bird seen in southern England was at Dungeness on May 8 with 2 in Cornwall on May 11 and one at Rye Harbour on May 13 when the first for Hampshire was found at Lymington (maybe the same bird seen at Christchurch Harbour that day but another was in Devon then). The Lymington bird stayed until at least May 15 when another arrived at Rye Harbour

Turnstone: These are now getting scarce on the south coast and only one was left at Christchurch Harbour on May 16

Pomarine Skua: The first of this spring's passage up the English Channel was seen on Apr 16 and there was a peak count of 12 at the South Foreland on Apr 25. A second surge brought 13 to Dungeness on May 10 (when 1 was seen at Hurst Beach, 2 at Seaford and 3 off Portland). On May 13 Selsey had 2, Portland 1 and Dungeness 7. Since then Titchfield Haven has seen one pass on May 15 and Selsey has had two more singles on May 14 and 16 (when 3 were at Dungeness). Back on May 8 I reported a count of 61 passing throught the Hebrides and we have further evidence of the popularity of the route around Scotland with these birds - on May 16 the Solway estuary reported 27, plus a single Long-tailed Skua.

Arctic Skua: On May 10 Seaford had an exceptional count of 70

Little Gull: One was in the mouth of Langstone Harbour early on May 17

Black-headed Gull: On May 12 Brian Fellows estimated that 200 pairs had nests on the islands in the Hayling Oysterbeds lagoon, leaving little or no room for Little Terns (which have yet to settle anywhere in the Oysterbeds area)

Lesser Black-back Gull: After last week's report of one stealing chicken eggs inland in Sussex this week we have a mention of one of their more regular activities - eating the chicks of Black-headed Gulls which have already begun to hatch at Rye Harbour

Iceland and Glaucous Gulls: Both can still be seen in Cornwall - one Iceland Gull was still in Newlyn Harbour on May 12 and one was still at St Mary's in the Scillies on May 17. A Glaucous was at Sennen on May 11

Kittiwake: On May 14 many of the Kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs at Seaford were seen to fly inland in pairs to collect cut grass from a playing field to line their nests (my book of Bird Nests says a Kittiwake nest is "a mud cup of seaweed, grass and moss built by both sexes")

Caspian Tern: Two were seen at one Dutch site on Apr 18 and two were in Belgium on Apr 24 - now one is back in Holland on May 12

Roseate Tern: The first reports of a single bird were from Devon on May 3 and 4 and now what is maybe the same bird is passing through our area - on May 11 it was seen in the Stokes Bay area at Gosport and then at Titchfield Haven, and on May 13 it flew east past Selsey Bill. Perhaps we now have a second bird as one was seen again at Titchfield Haven on May 16

Common Tern: On May 10 there was a massive count of 4725 'Commic' Terns at Seaford with 500 Common at Dungeness. The count at Dungeness was up to 700 on May 12 and then shot up to 2500 on May 13 when more than 300 were seen from Hurst Beach (Lymington)

Little Tern: The number at the Hayling Oysterbeds remained at a paltry 4 (showing little sign of starting to nest) on May 12 but there may soon be more as more seem to have been in the English Channel on May 13 with a count of 113 off Selsey Bill and 55 at Dungeness.

On May 16 John Goodspeed's website carried a report from Chris Cockburn (Langstone Harbour RSPB warden) saying .. "Following the shingle charging (i.e. importing shingle to increase and raise the level of the availble nesting area) on Baker's Island and South Binness Island, things are looking promising for the little terns at Langstone Harbour. Despite the recent cool, windy and damp weather, little terns have been seen regularly nest prospecting on the newly charged areas. They have been seen mostly on South Binness Island and seem to favour the areas that consist of ballast shingle (0/20) overlying the 'rejects' shingle (20/40). As a bonus, nearly all of these birds are prospecting within the areas enclosed by electrified fences, and the vegetation clearance has resulted in only one or two black-headed gulls nesting on the bare shingle areas. Presently, there are at least 50 little terns in the harbour, but I am hoping for some decent weather to make a proper count of them. On 14 May, a count from a boat gave 27 little terns on South Binness, 32 on Baker's Island and 5/7 at Hayling Oysterbeds - but none elsewhere on the islands. The remote video system is running for 18 hours per day (12:00 to 15:00 and 18:00 to 09:00) and it is likely that at least one little tern 'nest' might be in reasonable view. On 15 May, the numbers were enhanced by the arrival of 18 'static' birds on Baker's Island - least tern decoys, placed there in the hope of encouraging little terns to nest!"

Black Tern: 93 went past Cap Gris-Nez on the French coast on May 10 and on May 13 Dungeness had 81 with 11 (maybe 17) seen in Southampton Water, another 11 at Selsey, 6 (maybe 8) in the Titchfield Haven area, 5 at Ibsley Water (Ringwood), and 4 flying east past the mouth of Langstone Harbour (only one of these was clearly seen). Elsewhere on May 13 three were seen at Exmouth in Devon, two at Durlston in Dorset and one off Portland.

Puffin: Seven were seen off Portland on May 14 and one had got as far east as Seaford on May 16

Turtle Dove: May 13 also brought a few more of these including one at Sandy Point on Hayling which then (maybe) flew north to be heard singing at Brook Meadow in Emsworth later that day. Among other sightings on May 13 was one of a pair nest building at Martin Down (by the A354 south-west of Salisbury) and the arrival of ten at Portland

Little Owl: The Portland website has a suerb photo of one plunging onto prey on the ground with the comment that they are now hunting by day and that probably means they have young to feed so now is a good time to keep a look-out for them

Tawny Owl: The sight of a dead chick at the foot of a Scots Pine in the Buchan Country Park near Crawley shows that some of their young have hatched. I have not heard of them nesting in Scots Pines before and I would think it is an inappropriate tree to choose knowing the habit that the young have of climbing out of their nest long before they can fly.

Nightjar: One was churring at Burton Common in the lower Avon valley on May 9 and May 13 brought three reports of singles at Dungeness, Christchurch Harbour and (more dubious) off Selsey Bill where it was suggested that a dark coloured, falcon like, bird seen distantly out over the sea might be a Nightjar (see entry for Bulwer's Petrel above)

Swift: These are now being seen in the Havant and Emsworth areas more or less daily but (as far as I know) none have been seen entering buildings. In the damp air on May 13 four were seen over Brook Meadow and a group of eight were feeding on insects above the Hayling Billy trees where at least six were doing the same on the morning of May 15. On May 12 more than 200 were over Drayton pit lake just east of Chichester and on May 13 one site in Holland reported 4000. The first report of a pair seen mating in mid air comes from Horsham railway station on May 16 (this event is reported using the following words .. "While the carriages of our train were being uncoupled at Horsham station we watched a pair of Swifts doing the exact opposite directly above us").

Pallid Swift: First mention of this species for the year comes from St Mary's in the Scillies were one was seen on May 17

Alpine Swift: The seventh and eighth reports of this species come from Lodmoor (Weymouth) in Dorset on May 13 and from Adversane (a tiny village on the A29 between Pulborough and Billingshurst in Sussex) on May 15 (this latter another 'seen while driving' observation)

Wryneck: May 11 brought a report of one at Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire

Red-rumped Swallow: One seen at St Mary's in the Scillies on May 12 and two at Portland on May 13. Further reports from St Mary's on May 14, 16 and 17 show that there are two there

Richard's Pipit: One at St Martin's in the Scillies on May 11

Meadow Pipit: Of local interest two males were making song flights over the Langstone South Moors on May 14

Red-throated Pipit: A summer plumage bird at St Agnes in the Scillies on May 12, 13 and 14

Grey Wagtail: A pair was seen with 3 fledglings in Sussex on May 9, and the presence of one at the Langstone West Mill on the Langbrook Stream on May 14 probably indicates breeding there (when I was at Hurst Wood on Waterlooville on May 12 a local told me he had recently seen at least one on the Hermitage Stream there)

Whinchat: One was among the birds seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on May 13

Stonechat: On May 11 I found a family group of three plus a separate female in the northwest corner of the rough grassland south of Havant Thicket - I could find none in the Gipsies Plain area east of the long Avenue, these were in the area adjacent to Bells Copse

Mistle Thrush: Still no sign of breeding in the Havant or Emsworth areas (one was seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Jan 5, two were near the railway east of Mill Lane at Bedhampton on Feb 7 and a group of up to four were in the Staunton Country Park area on Jan 24 and Feb 4). Singles seen at Brook Meadow on Apr 2 and 8 and again on Apr 28 are the best possibility so far. A little further afield one was heard singing at Butser Hill on May 9 and a family of four were found in Selsey village on May 13 with another family of 5 at Ryde (IoW) on May 16

Great Reed Warbler: One at St Mary's on the Scillies from May 13 to 16 at least

Icterine Warbler: A male was at Dungeness and two were at Sandwich Bay on May 13 when another was found by Peter Gammage at Sandy Point on Hayling and subsequently enjoyed by a number of birders (for an account and photo see the excellent Three Amigo's Blog entry for May 13 at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ). On May 14 one was singing at Folkestone and a group of five (two of them singing) was at Dungeness. May 15 saw one at Christchurch Harbour where the species has not been seen since 2000

Melodious Warbler: One at Dungeness on May 13

Subalpine Warbler: One at Dungeness on May 13

Garden Warbler: One was singing loudly and continuously on May 11 at the corner of Bells Copse opposite the end of the long east-west path from Rowlands Castle across the grassland south of Havant Thicket.

Wood Warbler: One was at Sandy Point on Hayling with the Icterine Warbler on May 13 and one had been heard singing (with several Nightingales) in the Botley Woods north of Fareham on May 12

Spotted Flycatcher: These are traditionally late arrivals but it seems that the majority of the few that still come here have now arrived - the first was on Portland on Apr 21 and we now have 16 reports of them including 6 or more at Sandy Point on Hayling on May 13 (when 75 were reported at Portland). 21 arrived in the Scillies on May 12.

Blue Tit: A birder recording breeding success in the Plumpton Agricultural College area near Lewes commented on May 16 that this seemed to be a year with better than usual success among local birds there. Unlike some recent years when the emergence of caterpillars was out of synch with the hatching of tits there was an ample food supply this year and both Blue and Great Tit nests had been found with 10 or more young while one Chiffchaff had seven young in its nest and more than one Whitethroat nest had 6 eggs.

Golden Oriole: One lucky birder saw one near Eyeworth Pond at Fritham in the New Forest on May 10 and one was ringed at Portland on May 13 (when one Dutch site had four of them). The Portland bird was the sixth report from an English site since the first was seen at Dungeness on Apr 12. On May 14 a new bird was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) and on May 15 there was one (maybe two) in the Ramsgate area of Kent

Woodchat Shrike: One at Bryher on the Scilies on May 12 and 13, possbly flying to Bude in Cornwall where one appeared on May 16

Serin: Three were on Portland on May 11 (eleventh report for the year - first on Jan 5 in Dorset) and singles were there on May 14 and 16

Siskin: First three juveniles seen at a garden feeder in East Sussex (Robertsbridge) on May 15

Lapland Bunting: One at St Agnes in the Scillies on May 12 and still there on May 14

Corn Bunting: A flock of 25 was seen at Martin Down (south west of Salisbury) on May 15 after three had been seen there on May 14

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: Still flying at Rye Harbour on May 10

Downy Emerald: One seen in the Botley Woods north of Fareham on May 12

Broad-bodied Chaser: The first report came from Rye on Apr 19 but the first mention of them at Pulborough Brooks was not until May 14

Variable Damsel: Four seen at Dungeness on May 9 (first report was from the Kent Stour valley on Apr 25)

Butterflies

Just 24 species reported this week. Although the main impression of the week has been of windy and then wet weather Monday was a good day as shown by the following entry by Ashley Whitlock on the Hampshire Butterfly Conservation website ...

Monday 11 May Butser Hill "Today I have been out and about on Butser Hill surveying the site with Dr Dan Hoare who is the South-East Regional Butterfly officer and he and I spent up to 3 hours looking at potential sites and sites which are already known for the Duke of Burgundy. He and I counted [80] in an hour, and overall we counted well over [100] in other smaller areas known on the large complex. Despite the windy conditions, it was very warm and the wind did not affect their numbers, or there flying at all. In fact on several of the sites the wind was little more than a breeze. We made a lot of notes and discussed habitat management, and the other butterfly species seen were as follows: Small Heath [26] Speckled Wood [2] Green Hairstreak [18] Peacock [1] Brimstone [22] Common Blue [5] Small Copper [1] Orange Tip [6] Green -Veined White [4] Dingy Skipper [59] Grizzled Skipper [46]. I would like to thank Dan for his time which turned out to be a most enjoyable mornings work."

Clouded Yellow: A female at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on May 11was the first to be reported anywhere this year

Small Blue: After the first sightings at Portsdown on May 2 these are now being seen in north Hampshire (3 at Old Burghclere Lime Quarry on May 9) and in Sussex (2 in the Bevendean district of Brighton on May 10). Also on May 10 one was an unexpected sight on a Thanet Golf Course where weed killer used on the course will not favour breeding there.

Common Blue: Numbers are still low at mainland sites (max 5 at Butser Hill on May 10) but more than 20 were out on May 9 at Bonchurch near Ventnor on the IoW.

Adonis Blue: A good showing of these at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on May 10. These are now out at three Sussex sites and at single sites in Dorset and the IoW - none so far in Hampshire.

Holly Blue: These seem to be flourishing but I had only seen one in my Havant garden (on May 9) before seeing a female just outside the garden on May 11

Duke of Burgundy: These are now appearing at several Sussex sites including Heyshott Down and Harting Down (both near Midhurst). A tour of several Sussex sites on May 9 scored a total of 87 insects while in Hampshire the Butser Hill area on May 11 had more than 100.

Painted Lady: Five sightings between May 9 and 12 including 4 at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) and 6 at Uckfield near Crowborough with an unspecified number on Portland and at least one on the Isle of Wight. Since May 12 there have been sightings at 10 different sites with a peak count of 15+ at Dungeness on May 15. Locally there have been sightings in the Stansted Forest area on May 13 and at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on both May 14 and 16

Pearl Bordered Fritillary: 28 seen by one observer in Parkhill Inclosure near Lyndhurst on May 10

Glanville Fritillary: More then 60 seen at Bonchurch (Ventnor, Isle of Wight) on May 9

Moths

At least 29 new species for the year list

Diamond-back moth (0464 Plutella xylostella): There has been a major influx of these migrants with a maximum count of 180 in a trap in the Thanet area of Kent on May 13. Another 30 arrived at Portland on May 14

Blastobasis decolorella=old name (0874 Blastobasis lacticolella = new name): First taken in Thanet on May 14

Cyclamen Tortrix (0993 Clepsis spectrana): First taken in Thanet on May 14

Scalloped Hook-tip (1645 Falcaria lacertinaria): First at Rye Harbour on May 14

Poplar Lutestring (1655 Tethea or): First at Dungeness on May 14

Blood-vein (1682 Timandra griseata): First taken in Thanet on May 14

Common Marbled Carpet (1764 Chloroclysta truncata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

The Fern (1782 Horisme tersata): First at Rye Harbour on May 14

Foxglove Pug (1817 Eupithecia pulchellata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Mottled Pug (1819 Eupithecia exiguata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Freyers Pug (1827 Eupithecia intricata): First at Rye Harbour on May 14

Small Seraphim (1882 Pterapherapteryx sexalata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Clouded Border (1887 Lomaspilis marginata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Sharp-angled Peacock (1890 Semiothisa alternaria): First at Rye Harbour on May 14

Tawny-barred Angle (1893 Semiothisa liturata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on May 13

Light Emerald (1961 Campaea margaritata): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Poplar Hawkmoth (1981 Laothoe populi): One at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 11 was second for the year after one in the Rye area on Apr 30

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): First for the year at East Dean near Eastbourne on May 15

Small Elephant Hawkmoth (1992 Deilephila porcellus): First at Rye Harbour on May 16

Buff-tip (1994 Phalera bucephala): First at Rye Harbour on May 14

Heart and Dart (2089 Agrotis exclamationis): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Flame Shoulder (2102 Ochropleura plecta): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11 (39 of them in the trap)

Nutmeg (2145 Discestra trifolii): First at Rye Harbour on May 16

The Shears (2147 Hada nana): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

White-point (2194 Mythimna albipuncta): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Dark Dagger (2283 Acronicta tridens): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Clouded Brindle (2327 Apamea epomidion): An early specimen found indoors somewhere in Sussex on May 11

Treble Lines (2380 Charanyca trigrammica): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

The Uncertain (2381 Hoplodrina alsines): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Vine's Rustic (2384 Hoplodrina ambigua): First at Ringmer near Lewes on May 11

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): The first of these migrants had been seen at Portland on Mar 27 where another three were seen on May 14 followed by one near Worthing and another near Eastbourne on May 16

Other Insects

Stag Beetle: First and so far only one reported this year was a handsome male on its back in the middle of Wade Court Road on May 10 - it was righted and placed off the roadway.

Harlequin Ladybird: A pair of these was photographed mating on a nettle leaf at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 9 and another was seen there on May 16

Wasp Beetle: First report for the year comes from Rye Harbour on May 10

Nursery tent spider (Pisaura mirabilis): First of these for the year reported in the Rye area on May 15 (found in moth trap eating moths)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Rusty-back fern: I only know of one local site for this which is on the external wall of the West Mill property at the end of Mill Lane at Langstone and each year there are more to be seen there - on May 14 I counted 65 plants

Celery-leaved Buttercup: First report of this in flower came from the Oysterbeds area on May 12. A great mass was flowering on the Langstone South Moors by May 14

Lesser Spearwort: This was just starting to flower in the Havant Thicket area on May 11

Field Pennywort: First find of this in flower was on rubble beside Harts Farm Way (opposite the Amenity tip) on May 16

Narrow-leaved Pepperwort: This had started to flower at a regular site in the roadside by the A27 Langstone roundabout on May 14

Corn Cockle: First flower for this year seen by the side of Southmoor Lane on May 14 (from last year's wildflower seed)

Annual Pearlwort: First flowers noticed with the Rusty-back Fern at Langstone West Mill on May 14

Sea Beet: Starting to flower on the Emsworth shore on May 13

Common Mallow: First flowers found in the Eastney beach area of the Portsmouth shore on May 10

Montpellier Broom (Genista monspessulana): A new plant to be seen in the wild by me - see my diary entry for May 16 when I found a plant in a ditch beside the Harts Farm Way/A27 junction at Broadmarsh

Bush Vetch: Although this has probably been out for some time the first find to be reported was dated May 11 in Havant Thicket

Meadow Vetchling: The first clump of yellow flowers was seen on May 12 on a Waterlooville roadside near Hurst Wood.

Bitter-vetch (Lathyrus linifolius): The first report of this in flower came from Kent on May 5 causing me to check the Havant Thicket/Bells Copse/Blendworth Common sites on May 11, finding flowering plants in all three areas

Sea pea (Lathyrus japonicus): This had started to flower at Rye Harbour on May 14

Scots Rose (Rosa spinosissima): When I was in the unkempt section of the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on May 13 I found a long established rose bush that is clearly of the Burnet Rose type was starting to flower. It is too tall for the genuine Burnet Rose and does not have the dense prickly spines of that species and a search of the internet gives me a good match for the plant under the name of Rosa spinosissima which is called Scots Rose or Burnet Rose and which is sold for hedging. Until I am corrected I will call it that.

Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa): Although the white flowered (var alba) plants have been flowering in Havant for some time I saw the first red flowered (normal form) plants in flower by the Langstone South Moors seawall on May 14 for the first time

Creeping Cinquefoil: The first flowers of this were seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on May 13

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: Until now I have only been aware of one site for this in Havant (at Juniper Square) but on May 14 I discovered a new site beside the Langbrook Stream just south of the Langstone Technology Park approach road (look where the chicane gateway has recently been removed from the streamside path)

Broad-leaved Willowherb: The first flower of this was open in the Havant Pallant carpark area on May 13

Broad-leaved Dock: First flowers seen on May 14

Wild Carrot: First flowers found on Eastney Beach (Portsmouth) on May 10

Foxglove: First open flower seen on May 14

Heath Speedwell: A good showing of flowers seen on May 11 alongside the 'yellow brick road' running across Havant Thicket from the Castle Road entrance - the flowers were along the south side of the road near its west end.

Brooklime: Many flowers already out by May 11 in the normally wet area beside the Hayling Billy trail north of East St in Havant - presumably the flowering has been brought forward in response to the current drought.

Eyebright: First for the year reported at Durlston on May 14

Tufted Forget-me-not: Plenty flowering at the Langstone South Moors on May 14 (first report - the commoner Water Forget-me-not has not yet appeared)

Changing Forget-me-not: First flowers for the year seen in Havant Thicket on May 11

Houndstongue: Reported at Durlston on May 14

Common Broomrape: First few spikes seen by John Goodspeed on May 13 beside the footpath leading from the main road at the south end of Langstone Bridge to the north end of the Hayling Coastal Path (old Billy Line)

Guelder Rose: Starting to flower in Havant Thicket on May 11

Woodruff: Although not yet reported 'in the wild' I found plants flowering in a Havant garden on May 14

Feverfew: First of the new season flowering at Havant Eastern Road cemetery on May 13

Yarrow: First of the new season flowering at Eastney in Portsmouth on May 10

Pineappleweed: First flowers in Havant on May 11

Spear Thistle: Several plants newly in full flower by the east bound slip road from the A27 to the Langstone roundabout

Goatsbeard: First flowers seen in Brook Meadow area at Emsworth on May 16

Rosy Garlic: Several plants in flower on May 16 in the Broadmarsh west carpark - a new site for this plant.

Common Spotted Orchid: Three plants had just started flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 16

Southern Marsh Orchid: First leaves of two plants seen in the Langstone South Moors orchid field on May 14

Lady Orchid: The plant which had been reported flowering near the roadside on Beachy Head on May 9 has since been stolen or destroyed

Sedges and Grasses: I am not competent to record these correctly but many species are now being found for the first time including Spiked Sedge at Brook Meadow and Rough Meadow-grass, Meadow Fescue, Tall Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Yorkshire Fog and Creeping Soft-grass plus Marsh (or Floating) Foxtail at various sites

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: Although I have not seen any Foxes or cubs on the South Moors recently they regularly breed there. When there on May 14 I found clear evidence of this years cubs in a patch of 'lawn short' grass hidden behind tall Yellow Iris in the extreme north east corner of the 'orchid field' abutting a big bramble patch under which the current earth must be located - the large area of totally flattened vegetation would be the result of several cubs having used it as a playground for a couple of weeks or more.

Wild Boar: A party of Sussex birders visiting Flatroopers Wood (between Peasmarsh and Beckley in the Rother Valley area north of Hastings) on May 14 were shown evidence of the continuing presence of Wild Boar there

Common Dolphin: A school of 30 were passing Orcombe Point in Devon (mouth of River Exe) on May 13

Dormice: These are known to occur in the woodland which grows in the narrow valleys ('ghylls') which penetrate the coast of Hastings Country Park but on May 11 at least one Dormouse was found in the scrub growing on the cliffs between the ghylls proving what had been suspected that the Dormice can move between these isolated strips of woodland.

Common Frog: A birder in the Thanet area of Kent on May 8 saw a Grass Snake shooting off in advance of his approach and then found a Common Frog showing bloodstained marks where the Snake had bitten it (and presumably injected its poison to subdue the Frog - in this case allowing the birder to pick up the Frog and take it to what he considered to be the safety of the pool near which it was found). I have no idea as to whether the poison would be fatal to the Frog but I am fairly sure that the birders impression that the Snake was not large enough to swallow the Frog was not necessarily true. Snakes can separate their upper and lower jaws, and can distend their skin, in order to swallow items much larger than the normal girth of the snake and I hope that in this case the Snake was not deprived of its meal merely to give the Frog a longer time to die from the poison.

Marsh Frog: The huge (13cm long) tadpole found at the Lade Pits near Dungeness on May 4 and reported in last week's notes is now known to be a Marsh Frog tadpole which did not become a frog last year but which has remained as a tadpole for a whole year. The proof of identity rests with the development of glandular folds which can now be seen down the sides of its body and which show that it is a Marsh Frog and not an American Bullfrog. In the past some Bullfrogs had escaped into the wild in the Tunbridge Wells area and were a serious threat to our native pond life - hopefully eight years work has been succesful in tracking them all down and eliminating them.

Sea-horse: The local TV news this week carried a story of how someone in Southsea found a live Sea-horse on their garden lawn and got it to the Sea-Life Centre before it expired - the only explanation seems to be that it was taken from the sea by a gull and then dropped during a dispute between the gulls as to which one would eat it!


Summary for May 4 - 10 (Week 18 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Cattle Egret, Great White Egret and Spoonbill all seen in Hampshire along with Monatagu's Harrier, Kentish Plover and Black Tern. In other south coast counties we have news of Dotterel, Golden Oriole, Wood Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Citrine Wagtail, Quail, Bonaparte's Gull, Roseate Tern and Curlew Sandpiper plus a probable Collared Pratincole in Kent. Balearic Shearwaters have resumed their appearances in the English Channel. and local news includes the first Avocet chicks hatched at Titchfield Haven this week along with six Mute Swan cygnets at Langstone and Long-tailed Tits had their first young out of the nest by the Titchfield canal. In Sussex a Lesser Blackback Gull (brought up to steal the eggs of other gulls nesting nearby) has adapted to the modern world and learnt to take chicken eggs from an inland Chicken Farm.

The Bank Holiday weekend saw several teams of Hampshire birders chasing round the county to see who could record the most species in 24 hours and the highest scoring team was led by Nigel Jones and ticked 135 birds. Simon Ingram (who organised the event) had to make do with 132 for his team and other good scores were 128 for third place and 123 for fourth with the fifth team scoring 122 and the sixth on 115. There should be news of the equivalent event in Sussex before long but meanwhile all credit goes to Martin Hampton (from Havant) and his brother who scored an excellent 95 species in west Sussex on May 4 using public transport only

Downy Emerald has been added to the dragonfly year list and the first Small Blue butterflies of the year have been seen on Portsdown plus Glanville Fritillaries on the Isle of Wight along with 37 new moth species which include the first Eyed Hawkmoth and Lobster Moth for this year. On May 10 the first Stag Beetle (a male) that I know of was seen in Langstone.

38 new plant species have been found in flower including Dog Rose, Common Poppy, Scarlet Pimpernel, Herb Paris, Early Gentian, Lady and Twayblade orchids. The lovely yellow Tree Lupins are now flowering on Hayling (Sinah Common) where the Green Winged Orchids were at their best and Yellow Rattle had started to flower. Two uncommon species found along the side of Southmoor Lane in Havant were Knotted Hedge Parsley and Slender Thistle.

Unexpected animal finds during the 24 hour Hampshire bird race were Polecat and Muntjac and an oddity seen near Dungeness was a huge tadpole nearly three times the size of the biggest Common Frog tadpole. With few fungi seen at this time of year some magnificent specimens of Dryad's Saddle were a good find at Butser Hill

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: When flying these normally stretch their necks forward in line with their body but on May 8 one was seen in the Pett area on the shore of Rye Bay flying with its neck up in the position it would be when the bird was on the water - first time I have heard of this.

Balearic Shearwater: The first to be seen along the south coast since Mar 12 were a goup of three seen off Portland on May 7 (maybe the same three were seen there again on May 8 and 9)

Night Heron: One was seen well by many birders in the Folkestone area from Jan 4 to 24 but the species has not been mentioned again until May 8 when one was at a Dutch site

Cattle Egret: The last report of a Cattle Egret in Hampshire was on Jan 7 in the Lymington area and the most recent sightings in other counties have been in Dorset on Apr 12 and East Sussex on Apr 19 and 20 so Andy Johnson was pleased to find one perched in a tree at Sandy Point on Hayling for two hours on May 5 before it flew west

Great White Egret: Sightings in the Shatterford area of the New Forest on May 2 and 3 may indicate that one is lurking there in some as yet undiscovered spot. There have been no reports in England since Apr 18 when one was in Dorset but there was a sighting in Holland on May 1 and it could be that that one had just arrived in England (though the bird in Holland was back at the same site on May 8)

Spoonbill: The bird that was at Farlington Marshes from Mar 25 to Apr 23 has not been seen since then but on May 3 two adults were at Newtown Harbour on the IoW and from May 4 to 9 one has been at Titchfield Haven. Another has been seen at two different sites in the Rye Bay area on May 8 and 9 (probably the same mobile bird was at the Dungeness RSPB site on May 8)

Mute Swan: The pair on Langstone Pond seemed to start sitting on their nest on Mar 25 and should have completed their 5 week incubation by the end of April but I had not heard news of cygnets until May 10 when I found a family of six with their parents in the Langrook stream pool at the end of Mill Lane - the first to hatch at Abbotsbury in Dorset hit the national media on Apr 29 so must have hatched a day or more earlier

Brent Goose: Five were seen in the Stoke Bay area just south of the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 5 - these are likely to be staying in Langstone Harbour for the summer.

Gadwall: On May 6 John Clark found 27 on Alresford Pond near Winchester and another 28 at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood. Locally three males were on the Havant Budds Farm Pools on May 6

Pintail: A pair were at the Blashford Lakes on May 9 and have been there since at least Apr 25

Pochard: Some usually stay and breed in Hampshire and the Test valley is a good place to find them - I see at least one was in the Romsey area on May 3

Red-breasted Merganser: A late bird seen from Selsey Bill on May 3 and another flew east along the north Kent coast on May 9

Honey Buzzard: One came in from the sea at Portland on May 3 and another did so at Exmouth in Devon on May 8.

Black Kite: One was in the Glynde area of the Sussex Ouse valley on May 5

Montagu's Harrier: A ringtail was a bonus for the bird racers visiting the Lymington Marshes on May 3 - it then flew to Christchurch Harbour to allow Dorset birders to tick it before continuing west to be seen by more birders at Portland. It may well have continued west as a similar bird was seen in Devon on May 3 and 4. Since then there have been two sightings of a ringtail in the Reculver area of the north Kent coast on May 7 and 9

Osprey: These are still arriving. One came in off the sea at Titchfield Haven on May 2, one was seen in Dorset on May 3, one was at Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex on May 6 and 7 and another was near Wakehurst Place (southeast of Crawley) on May 8

Hobby: Up to six at Titchfield Haven on May 9 with up to four seen at the Blashford Lakes that day. At this time of year much larger groups are sometimes seen in the New Forest and it is assumed that these are birds which have migrated as a flock and are feeding together before dispersing. No such flock in Hampshire but a count of 37 in the Kent Stour Valley on May 3 was typical.

Peregrine: The chicks in the nest on Chichester cathedral are being well cared for by their parents and are expected to fly in about a month

Quail: First report of one in the British Isles was of one on St Agnes in the Scillies on May 6

Avocet: The first family to hatch at Titchfield Haven had four chicks on May 8 and five on May 9.

Collared Pratincole: One observer had a brief view of a bird that he did not recognize on the morning of May 8 at Grove Ferry in the Kent Stour valley - his report said .. "It flew tern like with a pale belly, dark wings, and a white rump. When I arrived at the Harrison Hide, it landed on the dried mud and something in the back of my brain said Pratincole. I first saw the bird flying about 8.30am and it was still viewable from the Hide when I left about 9.30am. " Sadly it could not be found when the experts arrived at lunchtime. Last year there was an unconfirmed report of three of these birds at Farlington Marshes on July 31and prior to that one was at Farlington Marshes on May 1 in 2005 and that was identified by both Jason Crook and Bob Chapman.

Kentish Plover: One was seen in Pagham Harbour from Church Norton on May 3 and then moved to Sandy Point on Hayling on May 4 (staying the whole day there but disappearing during the night)

Dotterel: Three birds were seen on both May 5 and 6 feeding in a bare stony field on the Sussex Downs near Chantry Hill above Storrington (south of Pulbrough)

Western Sandpiper: What may have been one of this species or may have been a Semi-palmated Sandpiper was in the Exe estuary area of Devon from May 3 to 8 when it was seen to fly off

Little Stint: One at Pulborough Brooks on May 4

Pectoral Sandpiper: One was at Keyhaven (Lymington) on May 9 - first for Hampshire this year although there had been one at Pagham Harbour on Apr 21 and 22 and another in north Cornwall on Apr 29

Curlew Sandpiper: The first to be seen in southern England this year turned up at Abbotsbury in Dorset on May 6 after an early bird was reported at Cap Gris-Nez in France on Apr 18. Last year there was a May sighting at the Lymington Marshes and in 2007 there was not only one there but also three sightings (maybe two birds) at Farlington Marshes.

Purple Sandpiper: Eleven were at Southsea Castle on May 2 and four were in the Bembridge area of the IoW on May 6

Dunlin: The sudden arrival of some 400 in the Christchurch Harbour area on May 6 after a count of 160 there on May 5 shows that passage of these waders is now under way

Whimbrel: These can still be seen all along the south coast but a count of 805 in the Dawlish area of Devon on May 3 set a new county record.

Spotted Redshank: One in full summer plumage was still in the Lymington area on May 6

Wood Sandpiper: The first had been seen in Holland on Apr 15 and there have been several reports from Belgium and Holland (including a count of 11 on May 1). First to be seen in England was at Dungeness RSPB on May 8

Pomarine Skua: The highest count anywhere on the south coast so far this spring has been of 12 passing the South Foreland in Kent on Apr 25 but maybe only a minority of these birds pass through the English Channel as on May 6 a flock of 26 were seen in the Solway Firth area and on May 8 there was a count of 61 passing North Uist

Bonaparte's Gull: First report for the year is of one seen from Tresco in the Scillies on May 6

Lesser Blackback Gull: These larger gull species regularly steal eggs from the nests of other seabirds nesting on the same cliffs but I was surprised to read of a Lesser Blackback seen flying over the Wivelsfield Green area near Haywards Heath with a chicken's egg in its bill (seen close to a chicken farm - maybe battery farming does given the hens some protection against such raids on free range birds!)

Iceland Gull: Two could still be seen at a rubbish dump on St Mary's in the Scillies on May 6

Roseate Tern: First for the year had been in the Dawlish area of the Devon coast for more than one day prior to May 4

Little Tern: The prospects of successful breeding in Langstone Harbour look to be pretty poor this year - one or two were first seen in the harbour on Apr 26 and a peak count of 6 were seen entering the harbour on May 1 but none have started to nest in the harbour so far. The first to be seen at the Oysterbeds were a group of three seen on Apr 28 apparently prospecting for nest sites on a bare area of the bund wall in the south west corner of the lagoon (seemingly having decided that there was no room for them on the 'nest island' which is occupied by up to 400 Black-headed Gulls). By May 5 as many as 5 were again seen around the outer bund walls - though also that day one pair visited the island four times during the afternoon (on one of these occasions they were joined by a second pair). On May 6 at least one pair were caught on video camera visiting the new area of shingle created by the RSPB this year on South Binness island in Langstone Harbour (they co-opted the Army to bing a JCB onto the island using an Army landing craft a month or so ago)

Whiskered Tern: The bird which was at the Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire on Apr 27 and 28 has not been seen since (and may be the bird seen in Holland on May 6)

Black Tern: The first for Hampshire this year were two seen flying west past Titchfield Haven on May 4

Short-eared Owl: I see these are still returning from the south with birds at both Portland and Christchurch on May 3 plus another at Portland on May 6. Latest two have been singles at Portland and Christchurch Harbour on May 9

Nightjar: The first report of one churring came from Dorset on Apr 27 (reported as 'heard' so I suppose that could mean 'wing clapping') and now we have a report from Denny Wood in the New Forest where one was heard by Bird Racers on the night of May 2-3

Swift: As early as Apr 24 one Dutch site reported a count on 947 and now similar numbers have been seen in England with 664 over Scolt Head in Norfolk on May 6. On the south coast there were 250 over the Blashford Lakes on May 4 and another 250 over the Stour Valley in Kent on May 5. Here in the Havant area the first two were over my garden on May 5 and what may have been the same group was seen in Leigh Park and over Emsworth that day. Similar reports of small numbers visiting breeding sites are now being made all along the south coast but for big numbers we have to go to East Anglia where, on May 8, 3873 flew south over Hunstanton and 5528 flew west at Scolt Head. On May 9 there was an unsual report of one hitting a window of a house at Uckfield near Crawley (it bounced off and was able to continue flying)

Wryneck: Several have been seen in East Anglia on their way north since Apr 14 and now there is a report of one on Lundy Island off Devon on May 4 following the Apr 29 sighting near Lewes in Sussex

Crested Lark: The lone bird which arrived at Dungeness on Apr 29 left there early on May 4 and has not been seen again

Shorelark: The first report for this year is of one on the Scillies on May 2

Red-rumped Swallow: We have now had 8 reports of this species in England since one was seen in the Scillies on Apr 10. That was followed by one over Andover on Apr 21 and the latest is of one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 5 (the others have been in Norfolk, Kent and Devon)

Yellow Wagtail: A report of one feeding among cattle at Farlington Marshes on May 5 caused me to check on when they ceased to breed anywhere in Hampshire and I see it was as recently as 1999 - in 2000 there were 5 males at Farlington but no females and nowadays they hardly bother to pause there on their way north in the spring

Citrine Wagtail: One at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 6.

Nightingale: A group of enthusiasts in the Henfield area of the Adur valley in Sussex has been making regular circuits to locate birds in that area and on the evening of May 3 they counted 29. At Pulborough Brooks there have been up to five birds heard but only one could be heard at Marlpit Lane near Funtington in our area - I think the next nearest site to hear them currently would be the Botley Woods north of Fareham.

Whinchat: One was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on May 5 and one at Farlington Marshes on May 7

Mistle Thrush: One singing in the Butser Hill area near Petersfield on May 9 - this is only the second report of one singing anywhere in Hampshire that I am aware of so far this year (first was in the Forestside area near Rowlands Castle on Mar 12)

Eastern Subalpine Warbler: One was at Portland for a one day stand on May 8 - this subspecies is less common than the Western Subalpine Warbler which can be found in western Europe - the Eastern race is normally found from Italy to Turkey.

Willow Warbler: Although the majority of these arrived around Apr 21 there had been a count of 250 at Portland on Mar 31 and latecomers are still arriving with a count of 200 at Portland on May 1 and 40 at Dungeness on May 2

Spotted Flycatcher: A single at Christchurch Harbour on May 6 was only the eighth report for the year after an early first in Dorset on Apr 21 - the first five reports were all from Dorset but on May 7 one was a Sidlesham (Pagham Harbour), on May 8 one was at Reculver in Kent and on May 9 one was again at Portland

Long-tailed Tit: The first family party with their juveniles out was seen at Titchfield Canal on May 9

Willow Tit: These can still be found in Hampshire but the Bird Racers had to go to the Faccombe area north of Andover to tick the species. On May 4 one was seen and heard during a bird race in Sussex.

Golden Oriole: I have seen just six reports so far this year - one at Dungeness on Apr 12, one in the Scillies on Apr 29, one in Holland on Apr 29 and now a female flying over an open topped car as it drove through Polegate north of Eastbourne on May 3 (I wonder if bird watching from moving cars will soon be banned by law? it's much more distracting than the use of mobile phones). Most recent sightings have been at Sandwich Bay on May 6 and one on the French coast on May 9

Woodchat Shrike: The bird at Plymouth has not been reported since May 3 but one has been seen at Portland on May 7 and 8

Raven: A flock of 6 flying over Badminston Common in the New Forest area near Calshot may have been a pair with their four juveniles already on the wing.

Brambling: A late bird arrived at Portland on May 6

Little Bunting: One seen on the Scillies on May 4 and 6 was not the first of the year - one was in the Ashdown Forest area from Apr 10 to 13

Corn Bunting: Still not extinct in Hampshire - two were seen and heard at a downland site on May 6

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Downy Emerald (was Cordulia aenia now Cordulia linaenea): Exuviae (empty larval skins from which the adult insect has emerged) show that this species was on the wing at Rye Harbour by May 9. This is the only new species this week'

Butterflies

25 species in this week's reports

Small Blue: So far these have only been seen in the Portsdown area of Hampshire with the first three seen on May 2. On May 6 a total of seven were seen in the Paulsgrove chalk pit with at least two seen there on May 8. I had my first on the down above the chalkpit on May 9

Common Blue: Just 13 reports so far from 10 sites over the period Apr 29 to May 9. All but two reports were of single butterflies (Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester and Malling Down near Lewes had counts of 2 each) and so far it would appear that this species has become a real rarity

Adonis Blue: This already seems to be 'commoner' than the Common Blue with a count of 8 at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on May 7

Holly Blue: These have at last started to appear in the Havant area - Emsworth had four seen on May 2 (the first in Emsworth was seen on Apr 26), then one was in the Paulsgrove Chalkpit area of Portsdown on May 8 and one in my Havant garden on May 9

Duke of Burgundy: On May 3 a total of 56 were seen at sites in the Meon valley suggesting the species is having a good year

Glanville Fritillary: Nine were seen in the Ventnor area (IoW) on May 3 'nectaring on vermillion' and the reporter says he has heard that the first were seen in that area back on Apr 24. (I am at a loss to know what sort of plant 'vermillion' is as I only know it as a mineral substance)

Wall Brown: The first was seen in Dorset on Apr 19 and there have now been 11 reports from Dorset, Sussex and the Isle of Wight before the first were seen in Hampshire (three at Keyhaven on May 3)

Small Heath: These have been out since Apr 21 and have been seen at eleven sites but all reports have been of single sightings with the exception of totals of 4 in the Friston Forest area near Eastbourne and 6 in the Meon Valley

Moths

Common Swift (0017 Hepialus lupulinus): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 4

Nematopogon swammerdamella (0140): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Adela rufimitrella (0152): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Skin Moth (0227 Monopis laevigella): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 1

Oak Leaf miner (0320 Phyllonorycter quercifoliella): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Phyllonorycter messaniella (0321): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Hornbeam Leaf miner (0343 Phyllonorycter esperella): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Argyresthia trifasciata (0409a): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 7

Parsnip Moth (0672 Depressaria pastinacella): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

Phtheochroa rugosana (0925): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 29

Syndemis musculana (0986): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Lichen Button (1061 Acleris literana): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Eudonia angustea (1342): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 7

White-spotted Sable (1381 Anania funebris): First at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on May 6

Fox Moth (1638 Macrothylacia rubi): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Pebble Hook-tip (1648 Drepana falcataria): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Birch Mocha (1677 Cyclophora albipunctata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Small Phoenix (1759 Ecliptopera silaceata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Spruce Carpet (1769 Thera brittanica): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

Broken-barred Carpet (1773 Electrophaes corylata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

The Rivulet (1802 Perizoma affinitatum): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

White-spotted Pug (1835 Eupithecia tripunctaria): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

The Seraphim (1879 Lobophora laterata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Yellow-barred Brindle (1883 Acasis viretata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 30

Square Spot (1949 Paradarisa consonaria): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Grey Birch (1951 Aethalura punctulata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Eyed Hawkmoth (1980 Smerinthus ocellata): First at Pagham Harbour on May 6. Lime Hawk and Poplar Hawk have already been reported.

Lobster Moth (1999 Stauropus fagi): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Pale Prominent (2011 Pterostoma palpina): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

Pale Tussock (2028 Dasychira pudibunda): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 30

Orange Footman (2043 Eilema sororcula): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Light Brocade (2157 Lacanobia w-latinum): First at Ringmer (Lewes) on May 1

Broad-barred White (2164 Hecatera bicolorata): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 7

The Campion (2166 Hadena rivularis): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

Grey Dagger (2284 Acronicta psi): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

Rustic Shoulder-knot (2334 Apamea sordens): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 2

Dark Spectacle (2449 Abrostola trigemina): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent on May 6

Other Insects

Stag Beetle: First I know of was seen on May 10 - a large male on its back in Wade Court Road at Langstone

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Marsh Horsetail: Many fertile spikes seen in the Langstone South Moors 'orchid field' on May 6

Love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena): First flowers in Havant on May 6

Common Poppy: The first single flower seen beside Harts Farm Way in the Broadmarsh area on May 6

Smith's Pepperwort: Flowering on Sinah Common (South Hayling) on May 5

Shepherd's Cress (Teesdalia nudicaulis): Still some flowers left at Sinah Common on May 5

Sea Kale: My first sight of this in flower along the shingle of the Hayling shoreline on May 5 but flowering at Rye Harbour on Apr 29

Horse Radish: One plant in full flower by the gate into the new carpark at the south end of Southmoor Lane on May 6

Weld: Just starting to flower in Havant on May 6

Fairy Flax: Plenty in flower on Portsdown on May 9

Pale Flax: Flowering at Durlston on May 8

Field Pansy: First flower on Portsdown on May 9

Bladder Campion: Just one flower open on Portsdown on May 9

Nottingham Catchfly: Not yet in flower but while checking the Green Winged orchids on Sinah Common on May 5 I found at least two plants with flower buds at the usual site

Lesser Stitchwort: An early first plant among the wildflower seed area at the south end of Southmoor Lane on May 6

Sea Sandwort (Honckenya peploides): First flower seen at Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 5. By May 10 masses were in flower on the north pier of the old Hayling rail line

Small Flowered Cranesbill: First flowers found on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on May 5

Hedgerow Cranesbill: First flowers of the new season on a plant which had been recently mown in roadside grass beside Southmoor Lane in Havant seen on May 6

Tree Lupin: The first yellow flowers seen on Sinah Common on May 5

Bitter vetch (Lathyrus linifolius): Flowering in the Thanet area of Kent on May 5 - time to look for it in Havant Thicket and the edges of Blendworth Common north of Bells Copse

Dog Rose: Flowers out on one bush on the mound south of Budds Farm in Havant on May 6

Silverweed: My first sight of these flowers at Broadmarsh on May 6 but this had been seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth as early as Apr 19

Pellitory of the Wall: First flowers for this year seen on the wall of St Thomas church at Old Bedhampton on May 6

Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma): This has been growing 'wild' on the Slipper Mill roadside at Emsworth for a good many years and Brian Fellows found it in flower on May 7

Knotted Hedge Parsley: One of the plants in a tiny patch of grass between entrances to industrial premises half way down Southmooor Lane in Havant had flowers on May 6

Fool's Parsley: One plant starting to flower on May 6 among the wildflower seed plants at the south end of Southmoor Lane in Havant

Sanicle: This was flowering in the Thanet area of Kent on May 5 and is now common on Portsdown and in local woodland.

Wild Parsnip: A very small plant was in flower on Portsdown on May 9

Scarlet Pimpernel: First plant with a mass of flowers seen in Havant on May 6

Early Gentian (Gentianella anglica): Up to six plants flowering on Portsdown shortly before May 8 when a couple of the plants were seen by John Goodspeed. It is also starting to flower at Durlston (and hopefully at Noar Hill near Petersfield). Not to be confused with Spring Gentian (Gentiana verna) which is a rarity only found in northern England and west Ireland

Common Figwort: At least one open flower among many buds on plants along the Broadmarsh cycle track on May 6

Yellow Rattle: This was flowering at Durlston on May 1 but no local reports until I found it flowering on Sinah Common on May 5

Slender Thistle: This had started flowering in two areas at Havant on May 6 - Brian Fellows found it in the Southmoor Lane site and I found some on the old Broadmarsh playing fields

Cornflower: Several new flowers out among the wildflower seed sown area at the south end of Southmoor Lane in Havant on May 6

Rough Hawkbit: The first I know of were plants flowering on Portsdown on May 9

Hieracium exotericum: I was confused as to how to name this Hawkweed when I found the first specimens on Portsdown on Apr 29 but I am now pretty sure it fits into the exotericum group - many more plants flowering on Portsdown on May 9

Black Bryony: Flowers open on plants beside the Hayling Coastal Path on May 5

Herb Paris: Plants flowering in the Rake Bottom area north of Butser Hill were seen by the Havant Wildlife Group on May 9

Solomon's Seal: Also flowering in the Butser Hill area on May 9

Twayblade Orchid: First report of this in flower also came from the Havant Wildlife Group at Butser Hill on May 9

Lady Orchid: One plant was starting to flower on May 9 by the roadside in the Belle Tout area of Beachy Head

OTHER WILDLIFE

Polecat: Two more sightings of Polecats in Hampshire - one seen somewhere in Hampshire during the night of May 1-2 by birders driving around the country on a 'bird race', the other a corpse seen by the Alton bypass on May 2. In neither case was the animal examined closely enough to say whether it was a genuine wild Polecat or an escaped Polecat type Ferret

Muntjac: One of these also seen somewhere in Hampshire during the night of May 1-2 by bird-racers and another was seen in the Alton area on May 4

Frog??: A huge tadpole 13 cm long was found in a Kent pond (one of the Lade pits near Dungeness) on May 4. A normal Common Frog tadpole would at most measure 5 cm and a Marsh Frog no more than 8 cm. This one may have been a genetic anomaly or possibly the offspring of an American Bullfrog.

Fungi: Some excellent specimens of Dryad's Saddle seen by the Havant Wildlife Group in Rake Bottom at the north foot of Butser Hill (Petersfield area). One example of Hare's Foot Inkcap (Coprinus lagopus) was seen nearby


Summary for Apr 27 - May 3 (Week 17 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

News of raptors includes mentions of Honey Buzzards, Black Kites (a flock of 271!) and Montagu's Harriers with possible Rough-legged Buzzard and Red-footed Falcon but I was most intested in the observation of a Common Buzzard catching food on the ground after hovering above it like a Kestrel (separate news says the Buzzards last year took all the Avocet chicks off the ground at Titchfield Haven before they could fly). Little Terns have started to show up at the Hayling Oysterbeds (but will find little room left for them on the nesting islands) and passing Black Terns are now being seen along the south coast. Firsts reported this week are Long-tailed Skua, Whiskered Tern, Bee Eater, Crested Lark, Red-throated Pipit, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, and Rustic Bunting. More expected firsts are the first Robin and Stonechat juveniles seen out of the nest.

Six new dragonfly species have joined the Hairy Dragonflies and Large Red Damsels and among the 24 butterfly species reported during the week are the first Wood White, Common Blue and Adonis Blue while more and more reports of Painted Ladies show that an invasion is under way. Moth news includes a sighting of a Hornet Moth at Bognor and the first two Hawkmoths of the year (Lime and Poplar). Mother Shipton and Burnet Companion have joined the day flying Cinnabar moths. Among other insects Brian Fellows has introduced me to a 'new to me' Ladybird species (26-spot) which does not eat aphids but can be eaten by the dreaded Harlequin Ladybirds. I also have news of the first Oak Apple and what goes on within it plus the saga of the House Spider which caught me with my trousers down.

At least 34 plant species started to flower this week, among them White Clover, Hogweed, Bur Chervil, Lesser Trefoil and Cut-leaved Cranesbill.

Other Wildlife this week has a first ever observation of a Roe Deer swimming across the Emsworth Channel from Hayling to Thorney Island plus two more sightings of migratory bats coming in off the sea.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: All three common species are still passing up the English Channel (93 Black-throated went past Cap Gris-Nez on Apr 28 with 32 Red-throated). Great Northern seem to prefer our side of the Channel and one paused on the sea off Sandy Point (Hayling) on Apr 28 while 4 were still in Weymouth Bay on Apr 29. On May 1 a single Black-throated plus a single Red-throated were seen to fly north into Langstone Harbour

Fulmar: For many years this species has been pushing south around the British Isles and they now breed on the Sussex, Isle of Wight and Dorset coast. This week they have been seen in ones and twos at Lymington, Gosport and Hayling Island in Hampshire and 26 were seen from Selsey Bill on May 2

Bittern: One was still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve this week and at least one was regularly booming in the Kent Stour valley reedbeds.

Purple Heron: These are uncommon visitors to Britain (just one in Cornwall on Mar 29 so far this year) but are regularly reported on the near continent in small numbers (max 4 at one site on Apr 15) but on Apr 30 there seems to have been a surge in numbers with 15 at a Dutch site near Rotterdam.

Sacred Ibis: One was seen at a Dutch site on May 1 but I am not sure of the status of this species on the continent (maybe it was an escape, though apparently wild Glossy Ibis are occasionally seen in Britain)

Barnacle Goose: There is a sedentary feral population at few sites in southern England (the biggest, I think, is a flock of more than 300 in the north east of the Isle of Wight originating from Flamingo Park near Ryde) and we occasionally see what are probably escapes from collections (and much more rarely flocks of migrants) but in Holland there is not only a big feral population but large scale migration - on Apr 24 a total of 1895 flew north over one Dutch site

Brent Goose: Only three reports this week - on Apr 26 two flew east in the Lymington area and Apr 29 two went east past Sandy Point on Hayling while on Apr 28 two went past Cap Gris-Nez. Two which I saw on May 2 at Cutmill Creek (north end of the Bosham Channel in Chichester Harbour) were presumably staying for the summmer.

Red-breasted Merganser: I do not record all reports of this species but I believe that the great majority have now left. On Apr 28 I recorded 38 passing Selsey but since then I have only noted a sighting of 3 in the Lymington area on Apr 26 (when 8 were seen at Selsey) following a couple on Apr 25 and 10 passing Seaford on Apr 24

Hooded Merganser: The bird which has been at Weymouth since last June was last mentioned on Apr 7 and seems to have vanished as mysteriously as if arrived.

Honey Buzzard: The first heard of this year was seen crossing the Isle of Wight on Apr 3 and on Apr 28 one flew over the visitor centre at Pulborough Brooks. Latest report is of one flying west over Patcham in the Brighton area on May 2. Needless to say the majority of arrivals go unreported if they are in potential breeding areas.

Black Kite: Mark Cutts Apr 29 entry on the excellent Three Amigos website ( http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ) has a photo of a flock of 271 Black Kites arriving over Gibralter when he was there on Apr 29 (the website has lots of local news and marvellous photos and is well worth having on your Favourites list)

Montagu's Harrier: A probable was back in England at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 18 with a definite sighting of a male in Devon on Apr 25 followed by a female in the Scillies on Apr 27 and 29 (four more came back from Africa to be seen over Gibralter on Apr 29). Latest sightings in Britain were both on Apr 30 - one at Reculver on the north Kent coast and one in the Scillies.

Sparrowhawk: We tend to think of these as residents here in southern England but a good number of them are migrants (probably to and from sites further north where they would not survive the winter). On Apr 26 four seen at Selsey and five at Dungeness were probably arriving migrants while on Apr 29 thirteen flew over one Dutch site and more than 40 were seen arriving at Gibralter from Africa. On May 1 one flew in from the sea at Selsey Bill

Common Buzzard: Hovering is supposedly a charactertic of Rough-legged Buzzards but in the New Forest on Apr 29 Andrew Walmsley not only watched a Common Buzzard hovering (coming lower in stages like a Kestrel) and saw it pounce on prey on the ground which it took to a nearby post to eat. Last year one Buzzard at Titchfield Haven ate all the Avocet chicks there before they could fly

Rough-legged Buzzard: Reports of these in Hampshire are usually received with scepticism so Steve Keen is careful to report one which he saw heading south east over Barton on sea on Apr 29 as a probable though he is fairly confident of its id.

Red-footed Falcon: Late news of what was probably one of these in the Climping area near the mouth of the R Arun on Apr 25 - both the jizz and call were not those of a Kestrel or Hobby. On May 2 an adult female was seen over the Fairlight Country Park on the coast at Hastings

Hobby: Four were seen at Titchfield Haven on Apr 30 - since the first arrived at Portland on Mar 27 some 40 have been reported.

Quail: First report of these that I have seen this year is of two at a Dutch site on Apr 29 (one was seen at the same site on May 1)

Common Crane: One was reported to have landed on Horsea Island (Portsmouth Harbour) and to have been seen from the M275 but there has been no further confirmation and the most recent sighting in southern England was of one flying south east over Horsham on Apr 19

Avocet: Four pairs were present at Titchfield Haven on May 3 - last year all the chicks hatched there were eaten by a local Buzzard.

Dotterel: There was an early sighting of one in a field near Climping (mouth of R Arun) on Apr 18 and now four have been seen together at Cap Gris-Nez on Apr 28

Temmincks Stint: One present in Cornwall on Apr 29 when a Pectoral Sandpiper and Little Stint were present at the same site (Walmesley Sanctuary north of Wadebridge) and an Alpine Swift flew over

Bar-tailed Godwit: Peak count of this spring's passage so far in of 735 seen at Dungeness on May 1

Whimbrel: Plenty of these now passing through - at dawn on Apr 28 one hundred came out of the roost at Rye Harbour

Common Sandpiper: What must have been a newly arrived migrant was sleeping off its long overnight journey on one of the rafts in the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on Apr 26 (migrants have been arriving since Apr 11). Migrants are now turning up in small numbers all along the south coast - four were at the Testwood Lakes (Totton, Southampton) on Apr 23 but the biggest number in the current news is of three at Peveril Point near Swanage on Apr 30.

Pomarine Skua: These have been passing up Channel since Apr 16 and some 60 have been reported since then with a maximum day count of 12 at Bockhill (South Foreland) on Apr 25

Long-tailed Skua: First report of this species for the year was of one at Dungeness on Apr 25

Little Tern: First report of them back in Langstone Harbour came from Kevin Stouse when he was leading a walk round Farlington Marshes on Apr 26 and on Apr 28 I saw three fishing and landing on the outer bund wall of the Hayling Oysterbeds (no room for them on the nesting island in the lagoon - it was too crowded with Black-headed Gulls though two pairs of Common Terns had squeezed in)

Whiskered Tern: One was at Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire (on the Bedfordshire border) on both Apr 27 and 28 (distant photos on the Paxton website at http://paxtonpits.blogspot.com/ )

Black Tern: Singles were seen at Paxton Pits (Cambridgeshire) on Apr 19 and 24 but the only other sightings so far in England are of one passing Selsey on Apr 24, two at Dungeness on Apr 25 with one there on Apr 26. Over the Channel 17 went past Cap Gris-Nez on Apr 28 and 15 were seen at a Dutch site on Apr 30 (when we had the biggest count so far of 8 seen at Dungeness)

Puffin: The first Hampshire sighting of the year was of 2 at Hurst (Lymington) on Apr 30

Turtle Dove: The first was seen at Sidlesham (Pagham Harbour) on Apr 14 and there have been 20 reports since then including one in Stansted Forest (East Park) on Apr 25, at least one near the Thorney Little Deeps on Apr 26 (with two seemingly established there since Apr 27), and one in Creech Woods at Denmead on Apr 28. At least one could be heard near the Little Deeps on Thorney on May 1

Nightjar: A report of one seen feeding by day in the New Forest on Apr 22 has now been followed by a report of one churring on Upton Heath (north of Poole) on Apr 27

Swift: Plenty of sightings since the first was seen near Weymouth on Apr 9. Sussex had its first on Apr 13 at Selsey and Hampshire had one over Romsey on Apr 14. By Apr 25 there were 20 over the Blashford Lakes and on Apr 28 there were 20 over Titchfield Haven while on Apr 29 more than 15 were circling round Lewes Castle (possibly intending to nest there). On Apr 30 more than 100 were over the Blashford Lake and more than 9 were seen at Titchfield Haven.

Alpine Swift: One at Wadebridge in Cornwall on Apr 29 was the sixth seen in Britain this year.

Bee-eater: First report for the year comes from Holland on May 1 - none yet in Britain.

Wryneck: Two were seen in East Anglia on Apr 14 and one was at Folkestone on Apr 18. Latest news is of three at Spurn Point on the Yorkshire coast on Apr 29 when another was seen at Glynde by the Sussex Ouse upstream of Lewes

Crested Lark: These birds are so common just across the channel that they are called 'Carpark Larks' by visitors to Calais but they rarely cross the channel so one at Dungeness on Apr 30 was a great surprise - it was still there on May 1.

Red-rumped Swallow: The fourth to reach Britain this year was at Bockhill (South Foreland) on Apr 26 and the fifth was seen at Dungeness (RSPB) on May 1

House Martin: A flock of 50 were over a sewage works at Barcmbe near Lewes on Apr 27. Of local interest one was over my garden on May 2 and has subsequently been heard several times - presumably the birds which normally nest in the Bellair Road area of Havant are back

Tawny Pipit: One had been seen in Holland on Apr 15 and now singles have been reported at two different Belgian sites on Apr 30 and May 1

Red-throated Pipit: First mention for the year goes to a Dutch site where one was seen on May 1.

Robin: Probably not the first to leave its nest this year (but the first I know of) a fledgling was photographed at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 2

Stonechat: A pair at North Baddesley (near Romsey) had a fledged juvenile with them on May 1

Wheatear: Three arrivals at Christchurch Harbour on May 2 were thought to be the first of the larger Greenland race birds for this year.

Ring Ouzel: One was close to Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire on Apr 29 and was still there on May 2 (maybe one of the last to be seen in Hampshire this spring)

Mistle Thrush: These are now real rarities in south east Hampshire so one at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 28 was not only the first for that site (at least this year) but also a notable sighting for the area.

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler: Western race Bonelli's are rarities but an Eastern race bird seen at Portland on May 1 was even rarer and a first for both Portland and Dorset. It seems there have only been four previous sightings of the species in Britain, the first was in the Scillies in 1987 and the most recent was in Devon in 2004. In 1995 one was in Northumberland and in 1998 one was in Shetland.

Wood Warbler: So far this spring I have seen 16 records of this relatively rare species and one of them was of a bird singing by the IBM Lake in Portsmouth on May 2.

Spotted Flycatcher: Second for the year following one at Portland on Apr 21 was another single in Dorset at Morden Bog (southwest of Poole Harbour) on Apr 28

Collared Flycatcher: A male at Portland on Apr 28 was a first for both Portland and Dorset county. It was still there on May 2 and has attracted so many birders that a field has had to be taken over for parking to avoid bringing Portland traffic to a standstill. No more than one bird of this species reaches Britain each year since the first record in 1947 - it has been seen in West Sussex (in 2002) but not previously in any south coast counties west of Sussex.

Pied Flycatcher: A female was seen near Fort Widley on Portsdown Hill on May 2 (last year we had an even more local record for the Havant area when one was seen on the Langstone shore near Pook Lane on both Apr 6 and 7)

Golden Oriole: One has already been reported at Dungeness on Apr 12 and now we have reports of two more on Apr 29 (one in the Scillies and one in Holland)

Woodchat Shrike: One was in Cornwall on Apr 18, then there were reports of one on the Scillies on Apr 24 and 26 and then one in a cemetery at Plymouth on Apr 27 and 28. Now we are told of one at Sherborne in Dorset on Apr 29 - is this all the same bird?

Rustic Bunting: On Apr 28 one was seen near Arlington reservoir in the Cuckmere Valley (the single observer only had a brief view but claims to be 100% sure of the id). While it is similar to a Reed Bunting the male has distictive white markings on the black parts of the head and a bright rufous colour on its breast and mantle. This is not a mega rarity (the BTO gets some 9 reports each year) and it has been recorded in Hampshire as well as both East and West Sussex

Reed Bunting: One was back at Langstone Pond on Apr 27.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Eight species currently on the wing including Hairy Dragonfly and Large Red Damsel. New this week are ...

Four Spotted Chaser: Out at Rye Harbour by Apr 30

Red Eyed Damsel: Several out at Rye Harbour by Apr 28

Blue-tailed Damsel: First seen at Dungeness on Apr 23

Common Blue Damsel: First at Dungeness on Apr 24

Azure Damsel: First at Rye Harbour on Apr 27

Variable Damsel: First reported in the Kent Stour valley on Apr 25 with others in the Rye area on Apr 27

Butterflies

24 species listed in the latest reports, including ...

Wood White: First seen in woods on the Kent Surrey border near Plaistow (between Horsham and Haslemere) - two out on Apr 26

Brown Argus: First to be reported (on Apr 24) was already worn when seen at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester). Since seen at Newhaven in Sussex and near Andover

Common Blue: First was seen at Noar Hill on Apr 26 - no further reports so far.

Holly Blue: I now have 34 reports covering potenially 64 butterflies but while they have been seen in Emsworth and Gosport I have still to see one in the Havant area.

Adonis Blue: An early male seen at Durlston on Apr 29 with another on May 3

Duke of Burgundy: 32 were counted at Noar Hill on Apr 26 where the first appeared on Apr 15

Painted Lady: No big counts yet in England but large number are reported coming north on the continent. I have 23 reports between Apr 2 and May 2 including a possible in my Havant garden on Apr 26 and three definite sighting at Chidham (east of Thorney Island) on May 2

Pearl Bordered Fritillary: Now flying at Rewell Wood (Arundel), Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) and Parkhill Inclosure in the New Forest. First appeared on Apr 19 but no counts of more than 8 so far.

Wall Brown: None in Hampshire but they can now be seen at three Sussex sites, two places in the Isle of Wight and at Durlston where the first was seen on Apr 19

Small Heath: Now out at three Sussex sites since the first was seen at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Apr 21. By Apr 26 there were six seen in the Meon Valley and on Apr 29 one was seen on Chalton Down north of Rowands Castle

Moths

Feathered Bright (0130 Incurvaria masculella): This is the first of the Longhorn moths to be reported - seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Hornet Moth (0370 Sesia apiformis): One settled on a plastic box beside a gardener in Aldwick (Bognor Regis) on Apr 26 and was subsequently identified from the photo taken by the surprised gardener,

Nettle Tap (0385 Anthophila fabriciana): First at Denton (Newhaven) on Apr 26

Elachista atricomella (0597): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Elachista rufocinerea (0608): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Elachista argentella (0610): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Esperia sulphurella (0649): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Garden Cosmet (0893 Mompha epilobiella): First at Denton shortly before Apr 26

Gynnidomorpha vectisana (0929): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Grapholita compositella (1241): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Grapholita internana Gorse moth (1242): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Grapholita jungiella (1251): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Cydia succedana (1255 aka Cydia ulicetana): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Pyrausta cingulata (1367): The first report of this species that I have ever seen came from Chalton Down (Rowlands Castle) on Apr 24. The UK Moths website says of this species:.. "One of our lesser-known species, being rather local, mainly in chalky districts and by the coast. It is found in suitable areas throughout Britain to mid Scotland. The foodplant is believed to be wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus). The adults are quite distinctive and fly during the daytime. They are on the wing in May and June, and as a second generation from July to August"

Adaina microdactyla (1517): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Ground Lackey (1635 Malacosoma castrensis): Seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 26

Frosted Green (1660 Polyploca ridens): Seen at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 30

Brown Silver-line (1902 Petrophora chlorosata): First seen in the Beckley Woods north of Hastings on Apr 25

Yellow Belle (1968 Aspitates ochrearia): First on Malling Down (Lewes) on Apr 26

Lime Hawkmoth (1979 Mimas tiliae): Seen at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 30

Poplar Hawkmoth (1981 Laothoe populi): Seen in the Rye town area on Apr 30

Puss Moth (1995 Cerura vinula): A male seen in the Beckley Woods north of Hastings on Apr 25 was a good find

Sallow Kitten (1997 Furcula furcula): Seen in the Findon valley at Worthing on May 1

Cinnabar moth (2069 Tyria jacobaeae): We have already reported the first of these moths (at Newhaven in Apr 21) and now there is another report from Friston Forest near Eastbourne on Apr 26

Bright-line Brown-eye (2160 Lacanobia oleracea): First of year in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 24

Mother Shipton (2462 Callistege mi): Several of these day flying moths were seen in the Meon Valley on Apr 26 (first for year)

Burnet Companion (2463 Euclidia glyphica): First for year on Malling Down (Lewes) on Apr 26

Moth/Butterfly Larvae (Brown-tail Moth): The second report of a single larval tent of Brown-tail moth caterpillars comes from Farlington Marshes on Apr 25 - it continues to seem that this species is at a low point in its long term cycle of population

Moth/Butterfly Larvae (Peacock caterpillars): A nest of small black caterpillars on a nettle at Chidham (east of Thorney Island) on May 2 were probably Peacock butterfly larvae

Other Insects

Crane Flies: These are now appearing in grassland and I found two specimens of one of the smaller species mating when I was at Chidham on May 2

Biorhiza pallida (Gall Wasp): A fresh Oak Apple on an Oak at Warblington on Apr 27 was my first evidence of the presence of this species this year - the sexual generation of wasps will emerge in June (each Oak Apple contains many wasps but all of the same sex - some apples are all male, others all female). After mating the females crawl down the Oak tree and lay eggs on its fine terminal roots underground. When these eggs have hatched (in small round galls attached to the roots) the next (parthenogenic) generation - all flightless females - will crawl back up the tree in the early spring of the following year and will lay eggs (which become Oak Apples) without further mating.

Red-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis): First report from Guestling Wood (north of Hastings) on Apr 27

24-spot Ladybird (Subcoccinella 24-punctata): Brian Fellows found and photographed one of these tiny red and black beetles (3 mm long) on a nettle at Brook Meadow (Emsworth) on Apr 28. Unlike the majority of Ladybirds which are carnivores (eating aphids) this species is strictly vegetarian (but that does not prevent it being eaten by one of the large Harlequin Ladybirds if the two chance to meet). This is a new species for my database.

"Thigh beetle" (Oedemera nobilis): I came on a pair of these mating in a Buttercup flower on Portsdown on Apr 29 (first for year)

Lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii): This bright red garden pest species was first seen this year in a Portsdown Hill garden in the week ending Apr 26

House Spider (Tegenaria gigantea): These 'hairy monsters' are our British version of the Tarantulas of 'foreign parts' and I had a big surprise during the week when, sitting on the loo with my trousers down, I reached for the loo paper only to find one of these spiders cowering beside the paper holder within an inch of my hand. Luckily neither party panicked and a transfer of the spider to the garden shed was achieved after I had made myself presentable.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Small Flowered Buttercup: This had started to flower at Durlston on Apr 30 and could be seen in the carpark there but it is very unlikely to be found in south east Hampshire (maybe still occurs in south west Hampshire?)

Thread-leaved Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus trichophyllus): Flowering at Durlston on May 3 and probably to be found around Havant area (in the small ponds at Farlington Marshes?) but I have not yet come on it or heard of it here.

Garden Aquilegia: A frequent garden escape (not to be confused with the wild Columbine). In full flower on Portsdown on Apr 27

Dames Violet: Both white and violet flowers were open on the cluster of plants at the Hayling Oysterbeds (east of the north end of the 'earth mound') on Apr 28

Hairy rock cress (Arabis hirsuta): Several plants starting to flower on Portsdown on Apr 29

Sea Kale: First flowers reported at Rye Harbour on Apr 29 - no doubt also out along the south Hayling shore now.

Wild Mignonette: Starting to flower on Portsdown on Apr 29

Common Milkwort: Also in flower on Portsdown on Apr 29

Ragged Robin: First flowers out at Brook Meadow (Emsworth) on Apr 28

Cut-leaved Cranesbill: One plant of this had started to flower in Havant on May 2

Yellow Oxalis: This was still flower on Jan 5 but has just started its new season - flowers found in Havant on May 2

White Clover: First flowers of this seen at Chidham on May 2

Lesser Trefoil: First flowers of this seen at Chidham on May 2 - I compared it to nearby Black Medick and saw it had hairless leaves without apical points and had less than 20 flowers per head - all three differences confirming my id.

Bird's Foot Trefoil: First local sighting near Langstone Bridge on Apr 28

Horseshoe Vetch: A couple of flowering plants seen on Portsdown (above the Paulsgrove chalk pit) on Apr 29 - this had been reported as out at Durlston on Apr 20

Kidney Vetch: Flowering at Durlston on Apr 30 (and in Cornwall earlier in the month)

Sainfoin: The plants which flower in the unmown grass just downhill from the Portsdown carpark immediately east of London Road should be flowering next week - on Apr 29 there were many flower buds, one of them already showing the lovely pink colour of the flowers.

Rowan: These ornamental trees started to flower in the Havant area on Apr 27

Dewberry: The first of the early flowering white flowered brambles which I call Dewberry was out at Chidham on May 2

Salad Burnet: This had been reported as flowering at Durlston on Apr 24 and was out on Portsdown on Apr 29

Nettle: Flowering in Emsworth on May 1

Holly: This started to flower in Havant on Apr 27

Spindle: First flowers seen at Warblington on Apr 27

Bur Chervil: First flowering plants found on the seawall of Nutbourne Bay on May 2

Hogweed: One plant in full flower on Portsdown on Apr 29 is the first I know of anywhere this year

Bittersweet Nightshade: One old plant which has survived the winter at Warblington had one flower open on Apr 27

Yellow Rattle: This had started flowering at Durlston on May 1

Wild Clary: Flowering at Durlston on May 3 but unlikely to be found in south east Hants (though it could be found in several places near Portsmouth as recently as the 1980s). It was in the past often brought from Portland (where it is common) with shipments of Portland stone.

Common gromwell (Lithospermum officinale): Just starting to flower on Portsdown on Apr 29

Russian Comfrey: Common Comfrey was flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 24 and has subsequently been seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds but the first Russian Comfrey that I know of was seen in the New Lane allotments at Havant on May 1

Buck's Horn Plantain: First flowers for the year seen at Langstone on Apr 28

Nipplewort: This had started to flower in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 15 but it was not until May 2 that I found any in Havant

Hieracium species: The first two examples of Hawkweeds which I have found flowering this year were seen on Portsdown on Apr 29. These were medium sized (22cm tall) plants with basal rosettes of stalked leaves and stems covered with white bristly stubble hairs having in one case no stem leaves and in the other one stalked stem leaf. Both had three widely separted clusters of terminal flowers on separate branches. I suspect these were Hieracium exotericum but the exact name would require a specialist to determine! Also seen on Portsdown that day was one plant of H. maculatum (Spotted Hawkweed) not yet in flower

Mouse-ear Hawkweed: This had started to flower on Portsdown on Apr 29

Southern Marsh orchid: First leaves detected at Brook Meadow (Emsworth) on Apr 28

False Fox Sedge: Also seen at Brook Meadown on Apr 28 - first report for year. Other first flowerings of Sedges at Emsworth have been Hairy Sedge (May 1), Greater and Lesser Pond Sedge (Apr 28), and - in Havant - Grey Sedge (May 1)

Soft Brome (Lop Grass): Flowering on north Thorney on May 1

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: Two were seen passing Selsey Bill on May 2 and a Common Porpoise was off the South Foreland on Apr 25

Roe Deer: Until now the means by which the Roe deer which are now established on Hayling Island (at least a dozen, and more each year, on the north Hayling fields) arrived on the island - did they walk across Langstone bridge?, did they swim?, or were they introduced by human agency? Now, on Apr 28, one doe was seen to cross from east Hayling to Thorney Island by swimming the Emsworth Channel taking about five minutes for the swim and much longer to struggle through the mud on either side of the water channel. This seems the most likely method and route for their arrival as well as departure but of course other options are still open.

Bats: On Apr 17 a medium sized Bat was seen to fly in off the sea at Portland and on Apr 25 a small bat was seen to fly in to the South Foreland in Kent. Presumably they mainly fly at night and it is only the stragglers or long distance travellers that are seen by humans but the fact that some are seen shows that they do migrate across the sea.

Marsh Frog: These are new being very noisy - many were heard at Lade Pit near Dungeness on May 3 and maybe they can be heard in the Shatterford area of the New Forest


Summary for Apr 20 - 26 (Week 16 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Great Crested Grebes now have chicks and Guillemots have laid their first eggs, taking more care to keep them on cliff ledges than a young Mute Swan did in Emsworth - she failed to build a nest and laid four eggs on the beach where they would be washed away by the tide. Montagu's Harrier is one of the new species to reach Britain this week - others are Red-footed Falcon, Temmincks Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Nightjar, Short-toed Lark, Spotted Flycatcher and Red-backed Shrike. Swifts are now becoming numerous and Black Terns have at last been seen on the south coast (over in Holland both Caspian and Gull-billed Terns have been seen). Greenshank passage is starting and both Pomarine Skuas and Common Sandpipers are in the news. For a bit of fun an ASDA store in Gosport had a Sparrowhawk in to entertain the customers this week.

Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies are now out and Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Wall Brown, and Small Heath butterflies are new this week Among the new moths are the common Speckled Yellow of woodland and the Cinnabar moth of grassland - also making the news is the first larval tent of Brown-tail moth caterpillars. Top of the list of other insects as far as I am concerned was a Violet Carpenter Bee in Havant but we also have news of the first Cockchafers, Hornet, St Mark's Flies and a Minotaur Beetle

New flowers include Bird's Foot Trefoil, Yellow Rattle, Tormentil and Silverweed but an outstanding personal find was of Purple Gromwell, albeit in a neglected garden. Commoner plants marking the advent of summer are Ox-eye Daisy, Cat's-ear, Beaked Hawksbeard and Elder

Other Wildlife starts with the death of the first first Fox cub to come above ground but we also have a link to a good website for learning about bats.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Diver species: Nothing special on this side of the Channel but there has been a large movement back to northern breeding areas on the French side - 48 Red-throated and 131 Black-throated past Cap Gris-Nez on Apr 21 (when just one Red-throated landed on the sea at Selsey Bill and repeatedly uttered its 'loon' call) with another 17 Red-throated off Holland on Apr 22. The increase in passing Black-throats was reflected on our side of the Channel on Apr 24 when 16 were recorded at Seaford

Great Crested Grebe: The first three chicks of the year were with their parents at Ifield Mill Pond (Crawley) on Apr 22. I have been told that each chick is 'adopted' by one of the two parents and that chick is only fed by that parent from then on - if a chick fails to attract the attention of both parents when it hatches it will never be fed and will die (is this true??)

Slavonian Grebe: One was still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve in summer plumage on Apr 23

Black-necked Grebe: Two, both in summer plumage but we are not told if they are a pair, were at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 23 and a single summer plumaged bird was at Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire on Apr 24

Manx Shearwater: 1000 were off Portland Bill on Apr 25 (when at least 34 were in the Hurst area of Lymington)

Bittern: One was still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 24

Cattle Egret: One was in a sheep field by the A259 near Rye on Apr 19 and was then seen leaving the Rye Harbour Egret roost at dawn on Apr 20. Also on Apr 19 at least three were still pesent in Cornwall (at Sennen)

Grey Heron: Another single migrant flew in off the sea at Sandwich Bay on Apr 22

Spoonbill: The Farlington Marshes bird was still at the Deeps on Apr 23 (it has now been there since Mar 25)

Mute Swan: A recent battle between the males of two pairs nesting near each other at Emsworth has resulted in the Peter Pond male being injured and taken to hospital and next day the lonely female deserted her nest leaving 9 eggs to perish - the aggressor pair from nearby Slipper Mill Pond have since been seen proudly claiming Peter Pond as their territory. A short distance south, near the entrance to Emsworth marina, a young pair are learning the facts of life the hard way - the female seems to have been 'caught short' when the time for egg-laying came round - no nest was made and four eggs were laid on the bare shore where they will probably be washed away by the next high tide. Further south again a Swan is sitting on a nest at the Thorney Little Deeps but the nest was not seen until Apr 19 and the first report of a pair there (before the nest was built) was on Apr 10 (seen by Brian Fellows in the morning). The Little Deeps site has in the past been home to a very early nesting pair which regularly won the race to be first in hatching cygnets locally - I am pretty sure that the current pair are new and they will certainly not be the first to produce young. I suspect they are still of interest as they are likely to be the pair which Brian Fellows saw in the afternoon of Apr 10 on the seawall near the deckhouses not far north of the Little Deeps and on this occasion Brian could see that one of the pair had pink (not black) feet showing it was of the 'Polish' variety whose cygnets have white (not brown) down which gives way to a first plumage of white (not brown) feathers. If the Little Deeps nest has this unusual parent bird the interest will be in the young - will some of them be 'Polish' (I understand this variation is called 'Polish' because the first one of this kind seen in Britain had been shipped here from Poland in the 17th or 18th century in the mistaken belief that the bird was a new species and as such was 'collectable')

Brent Goose: On Apr 22 one Dutch site recorded 120 passage birds. and Apr 24 brought a further small movement on the English coast with 12 seen at Seaford, 9 at Christchurch Harbour and 3 at Selsey Bill. Latest news is for Apr 25 when 3 were seen going east at Hurst (Lymington) and 1 passed Selsey.

Egyptian Geese: A pair were seen at Cowards Marsh (west bank of R Avon just north of Christchurch) on Apr 19. They flew up to the Blashford Lakes on Apr 20 and then back to Cowards Marsh on Apr 21. On Apr 23 one flew over Christchurch Harbour and one was back at Blashford on Apr 25

Shelduck: Some movement is still taking place and on Apr 24 Dungeness recorded 47 heading east. On Apr 25 I could only see one of the pair at Budds Farm pools in Havant and assume the other is now sitting.

Long-tailed Duck: One on the sea off the Lymington marshes on Apr 19 is the latest record other than one passing Seaford on Apr 24 (no report of the Hayling Mill Rythe birds since Apr 13)

Velvet Scoter: There seem to be more of these than usual recently - 7 were off Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 20 and probably the same 7 off Selsey Bill on Apr 21. Five passed Seaford on Apr 24 and on Apr 25 one was still in the Keyhaven (Lymington ) area

Black Kite: On Apr 19 one flew north over the north fields at Pagham Harbour and on Apr 21 one circled over Littlehampton (mouth of R Arun) and then flew north west.

Red Kite: An unusually large number of reports in the past week (plus the Black Kite sightings above) may indicate an influx of continental birds to southern England (but it is equally likely that these birds are enjoying the good weather and making long day trips south from their heartland in the Chilterns). Locally Barry Collins saw three going north over Thorney Island on Apr 19 while Peter Gammage saw one on Apr 21 going north over the Bedhampton area of Havant.

Montagu's Harrier: There had been a 'possible' sighting at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 18 and a more confident report of a ringtail near Buddleigh Salterton in Devon on Apr 25 has been followed by a sighting of a male at Hazelbury Bryan in Dorset on Apr 25

Sparrowhawk: The Portsmouth NEWS tells of a Sparrowhawk chasing its prey into an ASDA store at Gosport and then, unable to find its way out, it remained for some time among the 'rafters' of the building watched by customers below.

Osprey: One was still 'resident' at Thorney Island on Apr 19

Red-footed Falcon: A 'probable' was distantly seen at Boughton Park (south of Maidstone in Kent) on Apr 23 and on Apr 25 a female was seen at Portland Bill

Merlin: On Apr 22 the bird which has been sitting on the beach at Rye Harbour for some time feeding off easy prey as weary migrants approach the shore had changed its diet to even easier prey - it was seen eating a Lapwing chick. One was still at Rye Harbour on Apr 24

Hobby: First arrival was at Portland on Mar 27 and they have been arriving regularly since Apr 11. On Apr 19 Hobbies were seen at four sites - Pett on Rye Bay, Fishlake Meadows at Romsey, Fritham Plain in the New Forest and Portland - and on Apr 21 five were seen together over the Kent Stour Valley

Common Crane: Maybe two arrived from the continent on Apr 19 - one was seen near Horsham going high southeast and the other was going north up the Test valley at Michelmersh

Stone Curlew: One was seen to arrive at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 20, flying north without stopping

Kentish Plover: A male arrived at Sandwich Bay on Apr 17 and a male+female pair were at the Hayle estuary in Cornwall on Apr 19

Lapwing: 14 birds (including 2 apparently sitting females) were seen on the Gipsies Plain grassland south of Havant Thicket on Apr 21 (where 8 birds were back on territory as early as Feb 25). The current count could indicate the presence of 12 breeding pairs.

Temmincks Stint: First for the year was seen on St Mary's island in the Scillies on Apr 21

Pectoral Sandpiper: One seen in the Pagham Harbour north walls Breech Pool area by Bernie Forbes on Apr 21 and still there on Apr 22

Bar-tailed Godwit: Spring passage seems to have begun on Apr 5 and on Apr 13 Dungeness recorded 350 birds passing but there have been no counts of more than 50 since then until Dungeness had 176 past on Apr 22. On Apr 23 Seaford reported a count of 515

Whimbrel: Their preference for feeding in damp grass fields rather than on the shore was illustrated by the sight of 5 in the field south of the Thorney Little Deeps on Apr 21. Latest report is of 52 at Farlington Marshes on Apr 25

Spotted Redshank: One bird at the Lymington marshes on Apr 19 was already in its full breeding plumage.

Greenshank: A count of 14 at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 24 (with another unexpectedly seen at Alresford Pond near Winchester ) suggests that their spring passage is now under way. There was also a count of 45 passing birds at a Belgian site on the same day.

Common Sandpiper: One migrant was at the Hook scrape near Warsash on Apr 21 and one was at Eyeworth Pond in the New Forest on Apr 19 (when one had already reached Paxton Pits on the Beds/Cambs border). Since then a single has been seen at the Chichester Lakes on Apr 23 when four were reported at the Lower Test site.

Pomarine Skua: The first spring bird was seen at Hurst beach (Lymington) on Apr 16 and one was at Selsey on Apr 18. Apr 23 brought reports of one passing Portland, 3 at Selsey and 4 at Seaford. On Apr 24 one was at Portland and three at Seaford, and on Apr 25 at least on passed Selsey.

Little Gull: One was at Titchfield Haven on Apr 20 and another at Cowards Marsh north of Christchurch on Apr 21 but we are missing out on the passage taking 345 past Cap Gris-nez on pr 21 and 1922 past Holland on Apr 22

Gull-billed Tern: One seen in Holland on Apr 25

Caspian Tern: Two were first seen in Holland on Apr 18 and were still there on Apr 24

Little Tern: On Apr 24 there was a count of 105 passing Selsey with lower numbers at other sites along the south coast. On Apr 25 Selsey reported 29 and Hurst beach had 32.

Black Tern: Singles have been seen in Holland on Apr 15 and 22 and the first report from an English site is of one at Paxton Pits on the Beds/Cambs border on Apr 19. Since then one has been seen at Selsey on Apr 24 (when the number at Paxton has gone up to 4)

Guillemot: First eggs were laid on the cliffs at Durlston on Apr 25

Turtle Dove: There have now been just five reports from English sites. First was in the Pagham area on Apr 14 with one in Kent on Apr 17 and one in Cambridgeshire (Paxton) on Apr 19. Latest news is of one settled and singing near stables in the Beckley area north of Hastings on Apr 23 and 2 at Rye Harbour on Apr 24

Cuckoo: The first to be heard on Thorney Island this year was calling near the Deeps in the dusk after sunset on Apr 22. Latest news is of one at Farlington Marshes on Apr 25

Barn Owl: On Apr 17 one was seen by day close to Stansted House

Snowy Owl: One was still present at Gwithian in Cornwall on Apr 19

Short-eared Owl: These are still coming in from the continent and heading north - on Apr 21 five were on Portland and one at Christchurch Harbour

Nightjar: One is reported to have been seen feeding by day at Broomy Plain in the New Forest on Apr 22 - if this is true it would be the earliest ever to be recorded in Hampshire by four days (earliest ever in Sussex is given as Apr 8)

Swift: There have now been 23 reports of Swifts seen in England, the first being at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 9. Apr 19 brought a report of one at Stokes Bay in Gosport and on Apr 18 one was in the Hook/Warsash area. By Apr 24 there were 693 over a Belgian site (with 10 over the Chichester Lakes) and on Apr 25 there were 600 at one Dutch site and around 20 at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood with another 6 at Titchfield Haven and 3 over Farlington Marshes

Alpine Swift: The fifth report for the year was of one over the Isle of Wight village of Brighstone on Apr 20 - seen there among a wave of incoming hirundines

Hoopoe: One was in the Scillies on Mar 21/22, another in Suffolk on Apr 15, then one at Dungeness on Apr 18. One was at Portland on Apr 19 and another in the Pebsham valley (west of Hastings) on Apr 21 with one in Dorset (nr Shaftesbury) on Apr 23

Short-toed Lark: First for the year was on the Scillies on Apr 20

Sand Martin: A wave of new arrivals brought around 300 to the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Apr 25

Red-rumped Swallow: One reported in the Rooksbury Mill area of Andover on Apr 21 (following the first seen in the Scillies on Apr 10). The Andover bird may have flown on to Norfolk where one was seen at Winterton on Apr 24.

Yellow Wagtail: The only significant numbers come from Rye Harbour where 34 left the reed bed roost to continue north at dawn on Apr 19 and 65 came out of the roost on Apr 20. In Hampshire one was seen with cattle in a field at Goodworth Clatford (just south of Andover in the Anton valley) on Apr 21 and another was seen on the cliffs west of Titchfield Haven on Apr 20

Grey Wagtail: One pair is probably breeding in the Homewell area of Havant and on Apr 17 the male uttered a brief burst of song as it flew from the Homewell spring

Fieldfare: Possibly the last to be seen in Hampshire this winter were four at Lee hamlet on the River Test just north of the M27 on Apr 19

Wood Warbler: Apr 23 brought reports of singles from three sites - Portland, Christchurch and Acres Down in the New Forest

Willow Warbler: Misty conditions at dawn on Apr 20 brought a large fall of migrants including 330 Willow Warblers at Christchurch Harbour and similar conditions on Apr 21 gave a count of around 400 at Portland

Spotted Flycatcher: First of the year was at Portland on Apr 21

Red-backed Shrike: First of the year came in from the sea at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Apr 25

Great Grey Shrike: One was still around in the Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire) on Apr 20

Woodchat Shrike: One of these was still on the Scillies on Apr 24

Corn Bunting: One seen at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on Apr 20 and another was singing in the Birdham area on the shore of Chichester Harbour on Apr 22

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: These started to emerge on Apr 15 and by Apr 22 several were on the wing at Rye Harbour

Broad-bodied Chaser: First for the year seen in the Rye area on Apr 19 and another was out near Arundel on Apr 22

Large Red Damselfly: The first report was on Apr 2 but I have only seen two other mentions of this species - on Apr 13 and 19 (when several teneral insects were seen at Horsham). By Apr 24 they were said to be widespread.

Butterflies

19 species reported in the latest news. These include the first Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Wall Brown and Small Heath as well as an increase in Painted Lady sightings

Dingy Skipper: Seven reports of these since the first appeared on Apr 15 - latest report is of 9 seen on Chalton Down north of Rowlands Castle on Apr 22

Grizzled Skipper: These also are flourishing - Apr 20 brought news of 'many' on Levin Down (north of Goodwood) and more than 10 on Stockbridge Down. On Apr 22 five were seen on Chalton Down

Green Veined White: I am pleased to find that this species is still on my garden list though I had to wait until Apr 24 before one settled close enough for me to be sure of its identity

Green Hairstreak: Reports from four different sites on Apr 20 and 21show this species is now generally out

Small Copper: Five reports over the three days Apr 20 to 22

Holly Blue: Six reports for Apr 20 and 21 include a report of three in the Gosport area - I have still to see one in Havant. One report from the east end of the Sussex Downs on Apr 24 was of 7 seen.

Duke of Burgundy: The first was seen near the Noar Hill reserve on Apr 15 and the first for Sussex appeared on Apr 20. By Apr 21 more than 14 were seen at Noar Hill and the total count for three sites visited that day was 21 - especially encouraging was the first sight of several on a part of one reserve where scrub was cleared a couple of years ago and the butterflies have responded to the opening up of new habitat. By Apr 24 more than 20 could be seen at Noar Hill

Painted Lady: It would seem that the promise of an influx is being fulfilled with news of four sightings spread over Kent, Sussex and Hampshire between Apr 20 and 22 though the highest count was just 4 (at Farley Mount west of Winchester on Apr 21)

Small Tortoiseshell: I have at last seen one of these in the Havant Thicket area. A count of 5 at Martin Down and 3 on the Downs above the Cuckmere valley were reported in the latest news with singles at Chalton Down and Levin Down

Pearl Bordered Fritillary: These emerged on Apr 19 in both Hampshire (Bentley Wood on the Wiltshire border) and at Rewell Wood near Arundel in Sussex - by Apr 22 Rewell Wood had at least 8 on show

Wall Brown: First report came from Durlston on Apr 19 with one seen on Mill Hill at Shoreham on Apr 23

Small Heath: Mill Hill at Shoreham had the first and so far only sighting of one on Apr 21

Moths

Viper's Bugloss Moth (0720 Ethmia bipunctella): First seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 20 - normally seen in May and June

Pyrausta purpuralis (1362 Pyrausta purpuralis): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 21

Common Carpet (1738 Epirrhoe alternata): First of year seen at Martin Down on Apr 19

Maiden's Blush (1680 Cyclophora punctaria): First in the Beckley area of the Rother woods north of Hastings on Apr 24

Common Carpet (1738 Epirrhoe alternata): First seen at Martin Down on Apr 19

Pinion-spotted Pug (1820 Eupithecia insigniata): First of year in the Rye town area on Apr 20

Speckled Yellow (1909 Pseudopanthera macularia): First in Rewell Wood near Arundel on Apr 22

Peppered Moth (1931 Biston betularia): First in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22

Scarce Prominent (2010 Odontosia carmelita): First in the Beckley area of the Rother woods north of Hastings on Apr 24

Ruby Tiger (2064 Phragmatobia fuliginosa): Although these have been out since Apr 15 and have been reported from both Sussex and Hampshire I was delighted to watch a colourful female apparently egg-laying on plants close to my feet on the seawall at the west end of the Thorney Great Deeps on Apr 21

Cinnabar moth (2069 Tyria jacobaeae): First in the Newhaven area on Apr 21

Chamomile Shark (2214 Cucullia chamomillae): First in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 22

Reed Dagger (2290 Simyra albovenosa): First of year at Rye Harbour on Apr 20 - normally out in May

Small Purple-barred (2470 Phytometra viridaria): First at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 23

Caterpillars

Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillars: These were thought to be restricted in Sussex to a small area around Eastbourne but on Apr 20 some were identified in a Brighton garden where they are reported to have been present last year

Brown Tail moth larvae: I saw a large but lone larval tent, almost certainly of Brown Tail moth caterpillars, on a half eaten small Hawthorn bush at the Thornham marshes on Apr 20. I suspect this moth is at a low point in in one of the population cycles which have been noted since the 18th century.

Drinker moth caterpillar: One almost full grown was seen in the Newhaven area on Apr 23

Other Insects

St Mark's Fly: These were flying in the Havant Thicket area on Apr 17 and are now out generally

Hornet: First report for the year is of one, presumably an over-wintering queen, at Rye Harbour on Apr 22

Tawny Mining Bee: One was flying in my garden on Apr 26

Mason Bee (Osmia bicolor): First of these seen in the Arundel area on Apr 22 - this bee builds its nest in an empty snail shell after camouflaging the shell with pieces of wood

Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa violacea): First report for the year is of one I saw in St Faith's churchyard in Havant on Apr 25. This is a new species for me (and relatively new to Britain) - see my Diary entry for Apr 25

Minotaur Beetle (Typhaeus typhoeus): First report for year from the New Forest on Apr 23

Cockchafer or May Bug: One in a moth trap at Rye town on Apr 22 - first of season

Common Green Shield Bug (Palomena prasina): This had come out of hibernation at Rye Harbour on Apr 24

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

So far I have recorded 242 flowering plant species for the year and 184 for April

Adders tongue fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum): Fertile plants seen at Durlston on Apr 24 - it should now be worth looking for them on the south side of Hilsea Lines at Portsmouth and at other regular sites

Meadow Buttercup: First of the new season was flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 20

Garden Aquilegia: An escaped plant beside the A27 near Broadmarsh had opening flowers on Apr 25

Annual Wall-rocket: First flower of the year seen in Havant on Apr 23

Wintercress (Barabarea vulgaris): First flowers of year at Brook Meadow on Apr 17

Early Wintercress (B. intermedia): First flowers also seen at Prinsted on Apr 17 (but the plants had been flowering for some time)

Red Campion: This was in flower in the Havant area on Apr 25

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum): Although this is a garden plant it easily establishes itself in the wild (e.g. round the Ferry Inn area roadside on Hayling) so I was happy to see and record plants flowering beside the A259 near Selangor Avenue in Emsworth on Apr 21 - first for year.

Three veined sandwort (Moehringia trinervia): Fresh leaves of this found in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 25. In 2007 I found the first flowers out on Mar 16 so I suspect they can now be found.

Tree mallow (Lavatera arborea): Plants were in flower beside the Slipper Mill at Emsworth on Apr 24

Dove's Foot Cranesbill: I saw the first flowers for the year on Apr 17 and since then it has become widespread in flower

Laburnum: Another garden plant whose first flowering I always enjoy - out this year on Apr 22 (Lilac was out a few days earlier)

Bird's Foot Trefoil: Flowering at Durlston on Apr 25

Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa var alba): These council planted white flowered roses were in flower at three places in Havant on Apr 25

Tormentil: First flowers seen in Havant Thicket on Apr 17

Silverweed: First flowers seen in Emsworth on Apr 19

Parsley Piert: Flowering on dry banks at St Faith's churchyard in Havant on Apr 25

Salad Burnet: Flowering at Durlston on Apr 24

Rue-leaved Saxifrage: Rebulding of the old wall at the west end of the Pallant carpark in Havant, and weed-killer spraying along the nearby pavement edges, have both contributed to a severe drop in the number of plants in the East Pallant area but I was able to find more than 50 flowering plants there on Apr 23 (and my garden driveway has another dozen or so). First flowers seen this year on Mar 28.

Caper Spurge: One plant flowering on Apr 25 in the area where wildflower seed was seen beside Southmoor Lane last year

Hemlock Water Dropwort: One plant flowering in the Brockhampton stream in Havant pm Apr 25

Common Sorrel: First flowers found in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Apr 17

Yellow Pimpernel: First flowers out in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 25

Wall Speedwell: First flowers out in Havant on Apr 21

Yellow Rattle: Flowering at Durlston on Apr 24

Purple Gromwell: I have only seen this species once before in my life so I was pleased to find a large cluster of flowering plants on a dry earth bank alongside Prinsted Lane (east of Emworth) on Apr 21. Although there was no fence separating them from the road and they had clearly been planted a good many years ago in the now neglected garden of this house (currently for sale) they are not eligible for recording as wild plants until they manage to propagate themselves elsewhere without intentional human assistance. They can be seen on your left (east side of road) about 100 metres south of the A259. Not having seen them in other gardens I was interested to know if the plants or seeds were commonly available to gardeners and a scan of the internet found only two suppliers (the Beth Chatto Garden of Unusual Plants in Colchester and B & T World Seeds in France) so I assume that whoever planted them was not the average gardener but had a special interest.

Common Comfrey: First flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 24

Elder: Flowers out in Havant on Apr 25

Ox-eye Daisy: One fully out among many half open flowers in Havant on Apr 25

Perennial Cornflower: Another garden plant (which I record as wild as it has flourished in my garden through 40 years of total neglect) started to flower on Apr 220

Cat's-ear: One plant in flower in Havant on Apr 25

Beaked Hawksbeard: Several plants had opened their first flowers here in Havant on Apr 17

Yellow Iris: First flowers out on Apr 17

Early Purple Orchid: These have been out since Apr 9 but a count of 644 flowering spikes at the Hollybank Woods site north of Emsworth on Apr 25 indicates a good year for the species.

Early Spider Orchid: An attempt is being made to survey the whole population in the Durlston area this year and by Apr 25 46,000 plants had been found.

Dense-headed Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora congesta): This was flowering in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 25

Divided Sedge: This was first flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Apr 22

Pendulous Sedge: This started to flower on Apr 17

Glaucous Sedge: My first find of this in flower was at Havant Thicket on Apr 17

Distant Sedge: Started to flower at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 20

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: A dead cub was lying on my front lawn on the morning of Apr 25 with injuries to its head and neck - my guess is that it was hit a glancing blow by a car on the road outside, was able to run into the garden where it collapsed and died. This is the first cub above ground that I know of for the year. Its body length was only 28 cm with another 15cm of tail.

Common Dolphin: 20 were seen on Apr 21 a couple of miles south of Portland - this is my first record of Dolphins in the English Channel this year,

Bats: A report from Ifield Mill Pond at Crawley says that on the evening of Apr 22 four bat species were on the wing - Pipistrelle. Leisler's, Noctule and Daubentons. This is the first report of both Daubentons and Leisler's for the year. To read about Leisler's try http://www.jwaller.co.uk/batgroup/leislers.asp - a page on the Warwickshire Bat Group website which has similar comprehensive info on other bat species. The site has links to other county bat groups but they do not have the full species info which the Warwickshire one does - the Sussex site does however have a 'Bat Jokes' section which includes .. Mother vampire to son: Hurry up and eat your breakfast before it clots!!

Grass Snake: One was sunning itself on one of the bridges over the River Ems at Brook Meadow in the week ending Apr 18 - surprisingly this is the first record of a Grass Snake on that site since it became a nature reserve.

Common Lizard: My first sight of one this year came in the Havant Thicket area on Apr 17. The first sighting of the year was on Feb 27 near Eastbourne and one had been reported in Havant Thicket on Apr 2

European Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata - was L. viridis): The Christchurch Harbour (CHOG) website on Apr 24 carried a picture of a Green Lizard taken recently in the Southbourne area of Bournemouth and the UK Safari website tells us that Dorset is the only county in the UK (other than the Channel Isles) where this large lizard is established and can be seen from March to October

Ghost Carp: I was not aware until now that there is a hybrid carp which is often very pale in colour and this can be seen can be seen in a photo of two Ghost swimming with a group of normal Carp near the surface of the lake at the Boughton Park site south of Maidstone in Kent - scroll down the page http://www.kentos.org.uk/boughtonpark/April2009.htm to find it between the entries for Apr 22 and 23

Fungi: A ring of large St George's Mushrooms was seen in the grassland on top of the 'Broadmarsh moutain' above the Broadmarsh slipway in Havant on Apr 25. The only other fungus report comes from the Hollybank Woods in Emsworth on Apr 25 where an unidentified species was found on the trunk of a live Scots Pine - a picture can be seen at http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm at the end of the Apr 25 entry. My guess is that this might be one of the slime moulds, probably Enteridium lycoperus (was E. lycoperdon).


Summary for Apr 13 - 19 (Week 15 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Among the new bird 'ticks' available in southern England this week are White Stork and Common Crane, Montagu's Harrier (id not certain), Kentish Plover, Dotterel, Sabine's Gull, Turtle Dove, Wood Warbler, Golden Oriole, Wryneck and Woodchat Shrike. Curlew- and Wood-Sandpiper, Black and Caspian Tern are just across the channel but not yet seen in England, while two Pom Skuas have arrived to start the race for Selsey 'Pom King'. Of local interest is Nightingale song at Marlpit Lane and Corn Buntings on the Chidham penninsula plus a Garden Warbler seen near Langstone Pond. No Little Terns yet seen in Langstone Harbour but they are 'knocking at the door' as are Swifts.

The dragonfly season proper has opened with the emergence of the first Hairy Dragonfly and butterfly enthusiasts have added Dingy Skipper and Duke of Burgundy to their year list (with a promise of Painted Ladies on the way). Lots of moths have made their first appearance - the majority of them a month ahead of schedule. News of emerging Brown Tail moth caterpillars in the Midhurst may refer to one of the other tent making larval species but the find of a Purple Emperor caterpillar in Sussex gave genuine excitement. Among the Other Insects is a furry jumping spider - well worth following the link to its picture.

Another link worth following is to a photo of a Spring Squill in Cornwall but there are plenty of good flowers newly out in Hampshire including Goldilocks Buttercups, Common Fumitory, Early Wintercress, Shining Cranesbill, Horseshoe Vetch, Yellow Archangel and Yellow Iris - all seen this week

Other Wildlife has a surprising tale of a birthday party in Gosport gate-crashed by a squealing cat being chased by a grunting Badger

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Manx Shearwater: Andy Johnson had a sighting of four passing Sandy Point (Hayling) on Apr 15 (when 7 went past Selsey and 3 were seen from Worthing)

Bittern: One was still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 16

Great White Egret: One over Wareham in Dorset on Apr 12 and two flew north over Cowards Marsh, immediately north of Christchurch (maybe heading for the Blashford Lakes?), on Apr 18. I see that the Trektellen website (which has up to now puzzled me by using the name Great White Heron for what I am fairly sure is this species) has just started to use our common name, reporting singles passing over two Dutch and one Belgian site all on Apr 15. Trektellen has also just started to report Little Egrets (another oddity was that while we have so many of these on our side of the Channel they never got a mention over there)

White Stork: One was seen on the Scillies on Apr 13 and Lee Evans' regular bulleting of UK Bird News issued on Apr 15 includes the line .. "A LESSER YELLOWLEGS was at Heybridge Basin GP (Essex) on Apr 12, with a few WHITE STORKS of unknown origin at a variety of locations" Since then one has been seen on Apr 17 at Frampton (beside the River Frome a little north west of Dorchester)

Spoonbill: Just three (all in Dorset) get a mention this week but maybe more are on their way as one Belgian site recorded 46 passing over on Apr 15 and 33 went over a Dutch site on Apr 18

Mute Swan: Of local interest two more nests have been seen this week. On Apr 15 the small pond at the southern of the 'stilt houses' (southern end of Emsworth Marina) had a pair near a nest site which has been used in past years and Brian Fellows thinks that one of the two adults involved is a 'Polish' bird (so far this pair have not built a nest this year). The other nest was seen at Aldsworth Pond on Apr 13. In Emsworth one pair nests on Peter Pond and another on the adjacent Slipper Mill Pond (the two being connected by the Lumley Stream) - on Apr 17 it seems that the male of the Slipper Mill pair attacked the male of the Peter Pond pair and injured it sufficiently for theRSPCA to take it away for hospital treatment. Brian Fellows hopes it will recover and be back in time to help with looking after any chicks that may hatch.

Brent Goose: Few migrant flocks reported in the latest news - 90 birds were in Southampton Water on Apr 12 and 74 went past Selsey Bill on Apr 13 (maybe six of these tired of flying and were seen on the sea off Worthing that day). On Apr 16 18 flew east at Seaford and on Apr 17 there were still 4 heading east past Selsey Bill. The latest report is of 21 in Southampton Water on Apr 18

Egyptian Goose: A pair at Petworth had 5 goslings on Apr 13 - no comment on the age of the goslings but this could be the pair which hatched 8 young on Mar 15 and still had 5 goslings on Mar 19. More unusual was the sight of one adult on a long distance flight over the Seaford area on Apr 14 - did it come across from the Continent? What was probably this same loner flew over the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 16 and then past the Dungeness Bird Observatory on Apr 18.

Shelduck: Very few pairs nest on the shores of the Solent harbours (though quite a few fly several miles inland and nest in places from which any young have little chance of walking back to any suitable water, let alone the sea) but on Apr 17 one pair was on the Chichester Harbour water south west of Warblington church and another pair were near the flood in the pony field south of Wade Court.

Garganey: Pairs may be nesting at Titchfield Haven, the Blashford Lakes and the Lymington marshes. Birds of Hants gives 1940 as the last year when Garganey were known to breed in Hampshire (though they may well have done so in other years before the publication of this book in 1992). The 2007 Hampshire Bird Report indicates breeding at two Hampshire sites

Long-tailed Duck: The Mill Rythe pair off east Hayling were still there on Apr 13 but have not been reported since

Velvet Scoter: Nine reports of these during the week with counts of 10 in the Hurst (Lymington) are on Apr 18 and 16 passing Selsey on Apr 17

Black Kite: On Apr 12 one flew north over the Hayle estuary in Cornwall, on Apr 14 one was seen over Seaford and on Apr 15 one flew north over Lancing near Worthing (the last two were both reliable sightings). Maybe more are heading north and will reach Britain as there was a report of 20 over the south coast of Spain on Apr 13 and one was seen in the Scillies on Apr 16

Montagu's Harrier: Apr 17 brought the first mention of this species when one flew over a Dutch site and on Apr 18 there was a possible sighting of a ringtail in the Pulborough area

Sparrowhawk: Another 7 migrants were seen arriving in Britain over Dungeness on Apr 13 after 20 arrived on Apr 11. Locally one shot low over hedges at Warblington Farm on Apr 17 - maybe one of the pair which nest nearby.

Buzzard: I had my first sight for this year of one over Warblington Farm on Apr 17 - last year a pair nested nearby.

Eagle species: The possible Imperial Eagle which has been reported over the Isle of Wight since Apr 2 was reported again over Luccombe Down on Apr 15 and over the Ventnor Downs on Apr 16

Osprey: Recent reports include birds over Titchfield Haven and Pagham Harbour on Apr 13 and one over the Thornham Marshes area of Thorney Island on Apr 14. One was eating a fish on the Gutner Point saltings, just across the Emsworth Channel from Thorney, on Apr 18

Kestrel: One was hovering over the rough field to the rear of the Langstone High St houses and the Royal Oak on Apr 17

Merlin: A female which has been seen on the shingle beach at Rye Harbour for some time was seen to get an easy meal on Apr 14 when she took a tired Yellow Wagtail as it came in from the sea crossing.

Hobby: An early arrival was at Portland on Mar 27 but no others arrived until Apr 11 when one was seen at Osmington near Weymouth and on Apr 13 another reached Durlston (on Apr 15 three more were seen passing over a Belgian site). By Apr 18 a pair were hunting together over New Forest heathland and single birds were seen at the Blashford Lakes and heading north at Seaford.

Common Crane: What may have been the same bird flew west over the Pulborough area and then landed at Morden Bog on the south west of Poole Harbour, both on Apr 18. These are the first two reports from southern England for the year.

Stone Curlew: I have already reported the first arrival seen at Dungeness on Apr 3 and by Apr 14 two of them were seen on likely breeding territory somewhere in the north of Hampshire. I also see that one was seen in Cornwall on Apr 12

Kentish Plover: The first in southern England this year was a male at Sandwich Bay on Apr 17

Dotterel: Another first arrival was a Dotterel which spent some time in a field at Climping (near the mouth of the R Arun) on Apr 18

Curlew Sandpiper: Yet another first of the year but this one was in France at Cap Gris-nez on Apr 18

Purple Sandpiper: A good count of 14 at Southsea Castle on Apr 14 (last sighting anywhere on the south coast last year was of 2 at Southsea on May 19)

Ruff: One was still in the Fishbourne Channel area near Chichester on Apr 9 and two were at the Bracklesham Bay RSPB reserve (west of Selsey) on Apr 14

Bar-tailed Godwit: The first sign of spring passage came on Apr 5 when 16 birds suddenly appeared at Christchurch Harbour - the same number being seen at Dungeness next day. On Apr 13 Dungeness recorded a count of 350. No other counts of more than 53 this week but birds have been seen going east at more than seven sites during the week.

Whimbrel: The first non-wintering birds were a party of 6 that flew in off the sea in the Thanet area of Kent on Mar 27 with a few singles seen at other sites up to Apr 6 when 14 passed Seaford. The next big flock was of 51 or more seen at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 15 (also on Apr 15 three were seen at Sandy Point on Hayling and five were seen at Hurst near Lymington). The real action was across the Channel with a count of 553 passing one Belgian site and 370 seen at a Dutch site, both on Apr 15. Some passage Whimbrel regularly fly inland to feed in wet fields so a report of 38 arriving in Christchurch Harbour from the north on Apr 16 is not surprising.

Lesser Yellowlegs: One reported at an Essex site on Apr 12. Last spring one was at Pagham Harbour from Apr 18 - 22 but I doubt the bird will return there this year

Green Sandpiper: These are now on spring passage and the latest news has reports of one in the Lewes area on Apr 13, one at Sidlesham Ferry and another at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Apr 15. Apr 15 also brought reports of passage from across the Channel - one Belgian site recorded 52 birds and one in Holland recorded 35.

Wood Sandpiper: None in Britain but one was seen in Holland on Apr 15

Common Sandpiper: One at Eastleigh Lakeside on Apr 15 was certainly a migrant and while it is always difficult to separate new arrivals from wintering birds (especially when the latter get the urge to move and appear at sites where they have not been seen during the winter) it seems that a trickle of migrants has been turning up in southern England since Apr 11 if not earlier

Pomarine Skua: After two winter reports from Christchurch Harbour on Jan 26 and from the Hebrides on Mar 22 spring passage seems to have started on Apr 16 with one in the Hurst (Lymington) area followed by one going east past Selsey on Apr 18

Arctic Tern: Two were reported in the Lymington area on Apr 10 when a single was at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire. Latest news is of 18 at Lymington on Apr 15

Little Gull: Twelve reports from southern England this week (including one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 12) but none to compare to the passage of 1258 birds over a Dutch site on Apr 15

Sabine's Gull: The first that I have heard of flew past The Lizard in Cornwall on Apr 16 and next day it was still in Cornish waters off Gwennap Head

Lesser Blackback: These have probably been moving through the Channel since mid-March but there have been no reports from the English side of the Channel to compete with the 1403 birds going over a Dutch site on Apr 18 or the 1286 recorded there on Apr 3

Iceland Gull: One has been in the Scillies this week up to Apr 17 and there was one sighting at Brighton marina on Apr 16

Glaucous Gull: One reported at Newlyn in Cornwall on Apr 17

Caspian Tern: Two were seen at a Dutch site on Apr 18

Common Tern: The first was seen on Mar 22 at Selsey but the main arrival seems to have started on Apr 18 with 386 at Dungeness and around 100 in the Hurst (Lymington) area

Little Tern: Since the first report of three at Dungeness on Apr 6 I have now seen 30 reports potentially covering 112 birds. While this total included 20 birds at a Dutch site on Apr 15 there were counts of 13 off Selsey Bill and 10 off Titchfield Haven, both on Apr 14. No reports from within Langstone Harbour as yet...

Black Tern: Apr 15 brought three reports of single birds seen at three continental sites in Belgium and Holland (maybe all were of one bird passing through). No other reports so far.

Turtle Dove: The first to be seen in England was near the visitor centre of Pagham Harbour on Apr 14 (but did not stay there!). A second was on the north Kent coast north of Faversham on Apr 17 and two more were at a Dutch site on Apr 18

Cuckoo: These are now widespread and I heard my first in the East Park at Stansted on Apr 15

Barn Owl: One was seen by day near the north end of Stansted House on Apr 17 - this is probably the same bird that was reported hunting in the Stansted East Park in January and seen to the south of Stansted House in February.

Common Swift: The first to be reported in England was at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 9 followed by two at Portland on Apr 10. Next was seen at Selsey Bill on Apr 13 with another over Romsey that day (and again over Romsey on Apr 14) before one was seen at Andover on Apr 15 and two more were at Rye Harbour on Apr 16. Apr 18 brought one over the Hook area near Warsash

Kingfisher: I had an unexpected sighting of one flying off south from Aldsworth Pond (north of Emsworth) on Apr 13

Hoopoe: One had been in the Scillies on Mar 21 and 22 and on Apr 15 we have news of another on the Suffolk coast at Landguard (the point of land where the River Orwell flows out to sea past the Felixstowe docks). On Apr 18 one was at Dungeness

Wryneck: One had been reported in Holland on Apr 11 but the first to reach England were two birds in Suffolk on Apr 14 (and a third had apparently reached the Orkneys by that date). One was at Folkestone on Apr 18

Tree Pipit: Quite a few are already here but Apr 15 gave signs of a new wave of arrivals with reports of up to three at each of four English sites plus a count of 190 over a Dutch site

Meadow Pipit: A big wave of these is probably presaged by a count of 22,434 birds passing over a Belgian site on Apr 15. Another 10361 went over Holland on Apr 18

Water Pipit: On Apr 12 four were seen at Sandy Point on Hayling and three of them were seen again as they made their way north up the east coast of Hayling that day. On Apr 18 one seen at the Pennington Marshes (Lymington) was in full summer plumage

Yellow Wagtail: Andy Johnson was lucky enought to have a European race Blue Headed bird at Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 12 and on Apr 13 three British race birds flew north over Mill Rythe on Hayling. More came into Britain on Apr 15 and there was probably a wave of arrivals that night as on the morning of Apr 16 some 40 birds left their roost at Rye Harbour to continue northwards. Another Blue-headed bird was at Portland on Apr 18

Waxwing: No reports of the birds in the Locks Heath (Fareham) area since Apr 9 but 40 birds were still in northern Britain on Apr 15

Nightingale: Two were heard at Marlpit lane near Funtington (west of Chichester) on the morning of Apr 12 and single birds were heard there that afternoon and the next morning. One was still there on Apr 18 when another was at the north end of Titchfield Haven. Nightingales can now be heard in most parts of southen England at traditional sites

Whinchat: There had been reports in early February of wintering birds near Worthing and at Manston in Kent but the first migrant arrival I know of was at Worthing on Apr 12 with two more at Portland on Apr 14 and another at Sidlesham Ferry (Pagham Harbour) on Apr 15. Portland recorded 20 on Apr 18

Ring Ouzel: 38 reports of up to 97 birds since the first arrivals in mid March but of local interest one was seen in the Mill Rythe area of Hayling on Apr 13

Song Thrush: I used to believe that the continental birds which had been wintering here would have left us by now but this year reports seem to indicate a recent push of birds north through Europe to arrive in southern England. On Apr 11 a Dutch site reported the passage of 68 birds (and another 18 were noted in Belgium) while on Apr 15 a Belgian site reported the passage of 211. In England 7 arrived at Sandwich Bay on Apr 10, another 7 at Dungeness on Apr 13, and in the Havant area there has been a sudden outburst of Song Thrush song that may come from new birds or from locals defending their territories against new comers. More evidence of an influx from the continent came when 85 arrived at Dungeness on Apr 17

Reed Warbler: Plenty now back with us including two at Langstone Pond on Apr 17

Lesser Whitethroat: Migrants started to arrive on Apr 10 and are now widespread. I heard one at Warblington Farm on Apr 17 when five arrived at Christchurch Harbour to be followed by five at Portland on Apr 18

Common Whitethroat: Plenty of these now in southern England - on Apr 18 Portland Bill recorded the arrival of 50 ( and I had my first that day at the Hayling Oysterbeds)

Garden Warbler: There had been an isolated arrival at Southampton on Apr 7 but a more definite sign of their presence came with four being recorded at Portland on Apr 14 (while on Apr 15 I am pretty certain I heard one in the Stansted Forest area though I did not see it). On Apr 17 I again heard the same song while I was near Langstone Pond and this time I saw the bird clearly in an Oak tree just above my head.

Wood Warbler: Just two reports both on Apr 16 when one was at a New Forest site and another at Hellingly in the Eastbourne area.

Pied Flycatcher: The first was at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 4 with another at Durlston on Apr 5 and one in Devon on Apr 8. Apr 13 brought two birds - one to Christchurch and one to the New Forest. Another was in the New Forest on Apr 15 and one was at Dungeness on Apr 17 while Portland had 10 on Apr 18

Marsh Tit: One was singing in the Stansted Forest Groves on Apr 15

Golden Oriole: The first I know of was at Dungeness on Apr 12

Woodchat Shrike: A male was at St Just in Cornwall on Apr 18

Raven: These are now widespread and established throughout southern England but I am not sure of their status on the continent, nevertheless I thought a count of 53 at a Dutch site on Apr 18 was surprising. I also noted that one flew north over the Seaford area on Apr 18 as if it might have just arrived from the continent.

Serin: One seen on the Dorset coast near Swanage on Apr 18 and another in Cornwall that day.

White-throated Sparrow: The Old Winchester Hill bird was still present on Apr 18

Little Bunting: On was in Ashdown Forest from Apr 10 to 13 (and one was seen in Holland on Apr 15)

Corn Bunting: Although these have more or less vanished from Hampshire I may still have a chance to hear one this year as on Apr 18 two were heard on the Chidham penninsula to the east of Emsworth. They were found on Steels Lane which is the right turn (when going south) from Chidham Lane heading past Middleton Farm to Chidham church

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Hairy Dragonfly: First report for the year from the Rye area of East Sussex - a teneral specimen seen on Apr 15

Large Red Damselfly: After the first to emerge was seen at Farlington Marshes on Apr 2 we have had to wait to Apr 13 for a second and that was unfortunately caught in a cobweb at Midhurst

Butterflies

16 species in this weeks reports including the first Dingy Skipper and Duke of Burgundy

Dingy Skipper: First for the year were 8 seen on Mill Hill at Shoreham on Apr 15

Grizzled Skipper: The first of these were seen at Mill Hill on Mar 30 and they have now been seen at six other sites in Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Large White: There have been several reports of caterpillars and pupae surviving last winter and giving us a 'home grown crop' of this species but on Apr 12 a report of one at Dungeness probably shows that we are also getting immigrants

Orange Tip: Nothing special to report except that there seem to be far more than usual about this spring

Green Hairstreak: The first was seen at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on Apr 4 but there were no more reports until Apr 14 when a general emergence between Apr 14 and 16 brought reports from Hampshire, Sussex and the Isle of Wight

Small Copper: 'Lots' were seen on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Apr 16

Holly Blue: After two early reports on Mar 18 and Apr 7 regular reports started on Apr 12 and I have now seen a total of 11 reports to add to the first two - three were seen together near Rye on Apr 15 and four were found in Gosport on Apr 16

Duke of Burgundy: First for the year seen at Noar Hill (but just outside the reserve) on Apr 15

Red Admiral: The overwintering adults seem to have vanished from the scene and this week I have only seen one report of the species

Painted Lady: We may soon see an invasion of migrants. One reached Portland on Apr 11 and another was at Beachy Head on Apr 13 (with a second at Portland) while Andy Barker, holidaying on Mallorca, found masses of these butterflies on the wing there.

Small Tortoiseshell: Still thriving with reports from four different Sussex sites on Apr 13 (four seen at one site near Midhurst)

Moths

Aspilapteryx tringipennella (0294): First report comes from Kent on Apr 15 (normally not out until May)

Diamond-back moth (0464 Plutella xylostella): Two more reports of migrant arrivals - the first was on Apr 12

Semi-skimmed Moth (0667 Semioscopis steinkellneriana): I see one reporter uses the name 'Semi-skimmed Moth' but I think the proper new English name is 'Dawn Flat-body'. First of year on Apr 12

Small Purple Flat-body (0691 Agonopterix purpurea): First of year near Midhurst on or before Apr 13

Brindled Flat-body (0697 Agonopterix arenella): First of year near Midhurst on or before Apr 13

Agonopterix rotundella (0716): First report for the year from Portland on Apr 12 (adult emerging after hibernation)

Aethes smeathmanniana (0947): First of year near Midhurst on or before Apr 13 (normally not out until May)

Mint Moth (1361 Pyrausta aurata): Another early first at Noar Hill on Apr 15 (normally seen in May). The forewing of this species has only a single gold blob on the forewing near its outer edge - if you see one with a gold band (three adjacent blobs) across its forewing it will be P. purpuralis

Pyrausta nigrata (1366): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 14 (This one not normally out until June)

Chinese Character (1651 Cilix glaucata): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 (normally out in May)

Light Orange Underwing (1662 Archiearis notha): First at Dungeness on Apr 10 - a scarce species that can be found in March

Clay Triple-lines (1681 Cyclophora linearia): First seen in Sussex on Apr 15 (no location given) First brood normally out in May

Red Twin-spot Carpet (1724 Xanthorhoe spadicearia): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 (Another normally seen in May)

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (1725 Xanthorhoe ferrugata): Found somewhere in Sussex on Apr 15

Garden Carpet (1728 Xanthorhoe fluctuata): First in Thanet on Apr 13 - a common species throughout the summer from April on

Green Carpet (1776 Colostygia pectinataria): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 - normally seen in May

Small Waved Umber (1781 Horisme vitalbata): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 - normally out in May

The Tissue (1790 Triphosa dubitata): First to emerge from hibernation with wings already worn was seen at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12

Common Pug (1834 Eupithecia vulgata): First taken in a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden on Apr 13 - a common species normally out in May

Oak-tree Pug (1853 Eupithecia dodoneata): First taken in a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden on Apr 13 - normally seen in May and June

Treble-bar (1867 Aplocera plagiata): First seen by day at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 18 - first generation normally seen in May

Barred Tooth-striped (1880 Trichopteryx polycommata): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 - normally out in March

Scorched carpet (1888 Ligdia adustata): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 - normally out in May (larvae feed on Spindle)

Latticed Heath (1894 Semiothisa clathrata): First seen in Kent on Apr 15 - normally seen in May

Brimstone Moth (1906 Opisthograptis luteolata): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 12 - flies from April to October

Purple Thorn (1919 Selenia tetralunaria): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 12 - first brood out in April

Waved Umber (1936 Menophra abruptaria): First at Ringmer near Lewes on Apr 11 - flies from April to June

Iron Prominent (2000 Notodonta dromedarius): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 12 - not expected until May

Pebble Prominent (2003 Eligmodonta ziczac): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 12 - normally seen in May

Great Prominent (2005 Peridea anceps): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 12 - flies from April to June

Lesser Swallow Prominent (2006 Pheosia gnoma): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 12 - normally out in May

Swallow Prominent (2007 Pheosia tremula): First seen somewhere in Sussex on Apr 15 - normally out in May

Coxcomb Prominent (2008 Ptilodon capucina): First at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 11 - early for May

White Ermine (2060 Spilosoma lubricipeda): First seen somewhere in Sussex on Apr 15 - normally out in May

Ruby Tiger (2064 Phragmatobia fuliginosa): First seen somewhere in Sussex on Apr 15 - first brood out from April to June

Least Black Arches (2078 Nola confusalis): First of year at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 12 - normally out in May

Shuttle-shaped Dart (2092 Agrotis puta): First seen in Kent on Apr 15 - normally out in May

White-marked (2140 Cerastis leucographa): First in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 10 - can be out in March

Mullein The (2221 Cucullia verbasci): First somewhere in Sussex on Apr 9 - flies from April to May

Toadflax Brocade (2223 Calophasia lunula): First in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 13 - residents appear in May, migrants come later

Knot Grass (2289 Acronicta rumicis): A very early first at Dungeness on Apr 10 - normally out in May

Nut-tree Tussock (2425 Colocasia coryli): Firsts at two Sussex sites on Apr 11 - first brood seen from April to June

The Spectacle (2450 Abrostola triplasia): First somewhere in Sussex on Apr 15 - normally flies in June

The Herald (2469 Scoliopteryx libatrix): First somewhere in Sussex on Apr 11 - overwinters as an adult and normally seen before April (as 'Herald of Spring')

Moth/Butterfly Larvae

Brown Tail moth: First report of larval tents comes from the Bexleyhill Common area near Midhurst on Apr 13 - this species is usually coastal and there are other species with similar tents???

Purple Emperor: Caterpillar found in Sussex on Apr 18

Brown Hairstreak: Eggs just hatched into caterpillars

Other Insects

St Mark's Fly (Bibio marci): I think this is the true identity of an insect photographed at Kingley Vale (north of Chichester) on Apr 18 and described as a Beetle species. The big black flies with their drooping abdomens are supposed to appear on Apr 25 (St Mark's Day)

Red Mason Bee (Osmia rufa): An articial nest box in a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden was found to have some of its chambers empty on Apr 13 - presumed successful emergence of this year's bees.

Devil's Coach Horse beetle (Staphylinus olens): One found on the shingle beach at Rye Harbour on Apr 16 - maybe it had fallen into the River Rother, been carried out to sea and then washed up? (Pure speculation)

Hawthorn Shield Bug (Acanthosomah haemorrhoidale): First report for the year from a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden on Apr 13

Jumping spider species (Marpissa muscosa): A couple found on fence posts at Rye Harbour on Apr 15 - photos taken there in 2007 can be seen at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2007/09/08/wooly-jumper-2/ - impressive beasts!

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Ferns: Some Bracken fronds are now fully expanded as are some Broad Buckler blades but the fronds of Male Ferns are only just unrolling and are at their most photogenic. Adder's Tongue ferns could be seen at Durlston on Apr 17

Bay Tree: Flowers on this and Lilac opened this week

Goldilocks Buttercup: Flowering in Sindles Copse (south east of Stansted East Park) on Apr 15 - a new site for me.

Common Fumitory: First flowers seen in the Warblington cemetery extension on Apr 17

Wintercress: The first flowers seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 17 - this must be the Early flowering species Barbarea intermedia (Medium Flowered or Early Wintercress)

Lesser Swinecress: Starting to flower in Havant on Apr 17

White Campion: I saw an unusually early plant in full flower on Mar 21 but have seen none since so some found in the West Stoke/Kingley Vale area on Apr 18 is probably a bettter 'start of season' record.

Lesser Sea Spurrey: First flowers out on the Langstone seafront on Apr 14

Shining Cranesbill: I saw a single flower out on Apr 8 but it was not until Apr 17 that these plants were in general flower along the path from Wade Court Road to Pook Lane (at the Pook Lane end)

Bush Vetch: First flowers seen in the Kingley Vale area north of Chichester on Apr 18

Black Medick: First flowers of the new seas on Havant on Apr 14 - also seen for the first time in Emsworth this week

Horseshoe Vetch: Reported as flowering at Durlston on Apr 14

Crab Apple blossom: A possible candidate for this species (though maybe just a self-sown domestic Apple) was seen in Stansted Forest on Apr 15 - on checking the distinctive features which separate the true Crab Apple I find there is one I could have used to make a positive identification at this time of year with the tree in blossom. The flower stems (Peduncles supporting a cluster of flowers - they are only called Pedicels if they support a single flower) and outer surface of the calyx are hairy in all domestic forms but are glabrous (hairless) on true Crabs

Hawthorn: First flowers open in Havant on Apr 17

Wild Strawberry: The first flowers seen in Stansted Forest on Apr 15 (along with a lot of Barren Strawberry). The Wild Strawberries are not only generally larger but a check on the leaf tips shows a central point sticking out on Wild where Barren have 'recessed' leaf tips (there is a point but it is in a recess at the leaf tip and does not stick out beyond the front end of the sides of the leaf)

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: Two flowers out in Juniper Square at Havant on Apr 17 to mark the start of a new flowering season

Wood Avens: Just one flower out in my garden on Apr 13 but it has fallen and I could not find any more until I came on another single flower in Langstone on Apr 17

Beech: The first fresh leaves now starting to emerge

Pedunculate Oak: Several of these had put out their combined leaves and flowers by Apr 15 and Brian Fellows has asked why so many of the twigs bearing this fresh growth fall to the ground. I would love to hear an authoritative answer as I am pretty sure this is not the work of Squirrels, Birds, or insects and my current hypothesis is that the 'rush of sap' to the tips of these twigs (which have been dormant in the winter) causes excessive pressure in the 'tubes' which carry the sap and this pressure weakens the structure of the tiny twigs making them susceptible to snapping in a light breeze, let alone a strong wind.

Horse Chestnut: One or two individual flowers out on a tree in Stansted Forest on Apr 15

Ash: A tree at Brook Meadow in Emsworth had put out its male flowers on Apr 14

Sheep Sorrel: Flowering on south Hayling on Apr 13

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant: First new season flowers seen at Langstone on Apr 14

Wood Speedwell: This has probably been out as long as its cousin Germander Speedwell (first seen on Mar 27) but I did not find Wood Speedwell flowers (and check the hairs on the stems) until Apr 15

Yellow Archangel: Lots of this spring delight coming into flower at Stansted Forest on Apr 15

Bugle: My first sight of these flowers also at Stansted on Apr 15

Red Valerian: New season flowers out in Chichester on Apr 12

Cleavers or Goose Grass: The tiny white flowers were out on one or two plants in Havant on Apr 17

Crosswort: First flowers seen in the Locks Farm area of Havant on Apr 13

Field Madder: First new season flowers in Havant on Apr 14

Nipplewort: First flowers in Hollybank Woods on Apr 15

Prickly Sow-thistle: Just one plant flowering in Havant on Apr 17

Spring Squill: Not a species you will find in Hampshire (it grows by the sea from South Devon westward) but I much enjoyed my first ever sight of it in a photo recently taken by Steve Copsey in Cornwall and to be seen on the Three Amigos website at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo (click the Cornish Flora Update link in the right hand panel)

Yellow Iris: A good stand of these was in flower in the Wade Court Chinese Water Gardens at Langstone on Apr 18

Early Purple Orchid: I enjoyed the sight of another 59 flowering spikes beside the footpath through the Park Slip are on the south east boundary of the Stansted East Park area on Apr 15

Southern Woodrush: Another first flowering seen in the Stansted Redwood Groves on Apr 15

Pendulous Sedge: One plant had its flowers/catkins full extended in the ditch beside the Hayling Billy Trail in Havant on Apr 18

Cock's Foot grass: Found by Brian Fellows flowering in the Emsworth area on Apr 12 - Brian also found the first Wood Melick in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 15 but I am not sure if it was yet in flower

OTHER WILDLIFE

Badger: The Gosport area has quite a few Badgers and there is a place in Gosport (I've forgotten the name) where school children could spend a night in a cabin outside which they could watch Badgers feeding on peanuts - this may be the same place where a Badger Watch was advertised for 31 May 2003 with the advert saying .. "There have been badgers at this sett for over 40 years. The badgers are fed regularly in a special floodlit area in front of the hide, which has been built up so that the badgers can be seen at eye level, only four to six feet away. Up to six badgers are frequently seen during the evening, and we have planned the watch for a time of year when there is the best chance of seeing cubs." Such artificial set-ups for badger watching are all very well but I prefer the chance encounter such as Dr Daviid Tinling had in broad daylight in the garden of his home in the Haslar district of Gosport on Apr 16 - his contribution the Hampshire Butterfly News for that day includes .. Both Orange Tip and Holly Blue "joined me for my birthday lunch with music provided by Blackcap,Blackbirds & Curlews, a much appreciated birthday present, briefly interrupted when a grunting badger chased a yelping cat into my garden."

Bat species: An unidentified medium sized migratory bat flew in off the sea at Portland on Apr 17

Fungus: I have occasionally seen white lumps (looking a bit like a very large Marsh Mallow sweet and having the same toughish skin with a soft interior which yields to the touch) on the trunks of trees and the Boughton Park website (south of Maidstone in Kent) currently has pictures and a suggested name for this Slime Mould species. The website is at http://www.kentos.org.uk/boughtonpark/April2009.htm and the two pictures taken on Apr 3 and 9 show the great difference in the appearance of the fungus in a few days. The web site uses the name Enteridium lycoperus but I used Enteridium lycoperdon (given in Michael Jordan's Encyclopaedia of Fungi) to search further on the internet, finding a further variety of pictures of what is said to be the same fungus.


Summary for Apr 6 - 12 (Week 14 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

New birds in southern England include vagrant White Stork, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Rosefinch and White-throated Sparrow as well as the expected arrivals of Hobby, Swift, Nightingale, Pied Flycatcher, Arctic Tern and Little Tern. Bar-tailed Godwit passage has started and both Sparrowhawks and Song Thrushes have been arriving from the continent while an Alpine Swift, a Red-rumped Swallow and a Richard's Pipit have made brief visits. This week both Little Grebes and Coots have joined the 'early parents' club and are feeding chicks along with Mallards and Blackbirds while at least one Osprey nest now has an egg in it and a clutch of Lapwing eggs has been photographed at Rye Harbour

Holly Blue and Painted Lady both get a mention in Insect News along with 21 new moths (several of them out around a month early) which include the first Diamond-Back migrants

Both Early Purple and Green-winged orchids have started to flower locally this week among a list of 23 new flowers for the year. Not include in this count are Wood Sedge, Meadow Foxtail grass and Sweet Vernal grass that are also now flowering

On the River Test near Southampton Otters can be seen at night in the light coming from an industrial estate and there is news of Roe Bucks now 'out of velvet' as well as Adders shedding their winter skins. Also up for comment is the sex life of Water Voles

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Little Grebe: A pair were already feeding three young chicks on the River Ouse north of Lewes by Apr 10

Great Shearwater: One was seen on Feb 19 from a boat off Lyme Bay in Dorset and the news was passed on by me at the time but it is not until now that I have seen a couple of close up photos of the bird on the Dorset Bird Club website

Manx Shearwater: These are now returning to British waters for the breeding season and Portland recorded 200 on Apr 9 increasing to 380 on Apr 10

Bittern: One was still at Dungeness RSPB reserve on Apr 6 with another seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 10

Little Egret: Passing Langstone Mill Pond on Apr 6 when the tide was out I could see a dozen Egrets around the pond suggesting that at least six pairs were intending to nest. On Apr 8, at high tide, there was a minimum of 38 Egrets around the pond (at this time last year I never saw more than 32 here) and the presence of one bird in an ivy covered tree in the centre of the pond suggested that the birds are increasing the number of trees in use for nesting this year.

Great White Egret: After the arrival of one in Kent (passing over Sandwich Bay on Apr 3) one flew high north west over Littlehampton (mouth of R. Arun) on Apr 5 and one or two more were seen passing Durlston on Apr 6

Stork: An unidentified Stork species flew east high over the Sherborne area of Dorset on Apr 8. White Storks have been reported from various sites in the Low Countries since Feb 20 but this is the first report this year of one in southern England.

Spoonbill: The single bird at Farlington Marshes Deeps was still there on Apr 10 and it may be that more have recently come to southern England - on Apr 5 two flew west over Christchurch Harbour, on Apr 6 one went east across the mouth of Southampton Water seen from Lepe, on Apr 8 one flew north over Horsham and three others flew east over Christchurch Harbour. On Apr 11 two circled over the Arlington Reservoir near Beachy Head before continuing east and that day also brought reports of four in Poole Harbour.

Mute Swan: The pair which I found with a new nest in the Corn Wharf area of the Brockhampton stream here in Havant on Mar 30 may have already suffered some disaster as on Apr 6 the nest was deserted (but not noticeably damaged) and only one Swan was anywhere near though it was south of the barrier which holds water in the Corn Wharf regardless of the state of the tide.

Whooper Swan: Contrary to previous suggestions David Thelwell tells us that the bird on the River Test at Romsey, which was still there on Apr 5, shows no evidence of being injured nor of being anything other than an genuine wild bird.

Greylag Goose: Although these are almost as abundant as Canada Geese in some parts of Hampshire the sight of one flying east over Black Point on Hayling cause Andy Johnson to remark that he feels lucky to see one on south Hayling as often as once a year

Brent Goose: These are still coming from places unknown to pass east up the English Channel. On Apr 4 Dungeness reported 1076 passing with another 142 there on Apr 5. On Apr 6 Splash Point at Seaford recorded 97 passing and on Apr 7 Dungeness had another 331 while Apr 8 saw 25 off Titchfield Haven (no doubt there will be more reported later). Here in Langstone Harbour the only birds I know of still around this week are a party of seven that were at the mouth of the Langbrook stream on Apr 6 (assumed to be summering birds). The north Solent is often the last place to record passing migrants and there were 305 at Lepe (mouth of Southampton Water) on Apr 11

Pale Bellied Brent: On Apr 8 Portland reported 25 passing there while there were 140 more off Dawlish Warren on the Devon coast (both reports are presumably of birds coming from north west France and heading north west towards Canada)

Ruddy Shelduck: A report of an adult female on Sturt Pond at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Apr 11 seems to be the first report of the species in southern England for the year.

Mallard: First report of ducklings that I know off came from Broughton Park in Kent where 12 young appeared on Apr 3 - the next report came from the Blashford Lakes on Apr 5 and Langstone Pond had its first family of ten on Apr 6. Titchfield Haven then had a family of 8 on Apr 10

Pintail: A pair were still to be seen at the Badminston Common pit lakes in the New Forest area near Calshot on Apr 11

Garganey: I am not sure if these are becoming more common visitors to our shores but so far this year I have seen 69 reports of them, potentially reflecting the presence of 236 birds. This week there has been a drake at the Keyhaven Marshes, 4 drakes and 1 female at Ttchfield Haven, 2 flying past Selsey Bill on both Apr 6 and 9 with others at Weymouth and passing St Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight

Ring-necked Duck: The Poole Harbour bird has not been mentioned since Apr 7

Scaup: A single drake was still at Titchfield Haven on Apr 10 though the great majority of other duck species have now departed.

Long-tailed Duck: The long staying pair in the Mill Rythe channel off east Hayling were still there on Apr 5 and they were reliably reported to be still there on Apr 11

Common Scoter: Large numbers have been moving east this week with a peak of 1810 recorded at Seaford on Apr 6

Velvet Scoter: 11 went east off Dungeness on Apr 6 and another 11 were recorded passing Selsey on Apr 7 (at least one was seen in the Lymington-Hurst area on Apr 6 and there seemed to be references to more being seen there but I have not seen any news of them). Since mid-week there have been further reports of singles at Hurst beach and Stokes Bay in the Solent with 3 at Selsey Bill on Apr 9 and 5 passing Goring (Worthing) on Apr 10

Goldeneye: Seven could still be seen at the Blashford Lakes on Apr 10

Red Breasted Merganser: Numbers passing Dungeness peaked with 122 seen on Apr 6

Goosander: A pair were present at the Blashford Lakes on Apr 10 and six females were seen there on Apr 11

Black Kite: One seen in the Pegwell Bay area of East Kent on Apr 7 was the second mention of the species for the year - first was seen in the same area on Mar 21

Marsh Harrier: A male flew north over the Pilsey area of Thorney Island on Apr 4

Hen Harrier: One flew north east over Pilsey on Apr 3. One was still seen in the Denny Wood area of the New Forest on Apr 10 but on Apr 11 a pair flying southwest over Christchurch Harbour were thought to be leaving the New Forest. Also on Apr 11 a bird that has been in the Middlebere area of Poole Harbour this winter was still there.

Pallid Harrier: Not in England but on Apr 11 the Trektellen website had a report of one over a Dutch site (where a Crested Lark was also seen)

Sparrowhawk: A significant movement of these seems to have occurred on Apr 11 when 20 passed over Dungeness and one Dutch site counted 28 passing (with 15 recorded at a Belgian site)

Osprey: 20 reports during this week (plus news heard on the radio of the first egg having been laid in a Scottish nest). Locally Barry Collins tells us that one has been present around Thorney Island from Apr 3 to 11 at least

Merlin: Still moving north with reports of singles at Portland, Brighton and Rye Harbour on Apr 5, 6, 7 respectively. Latest news is of singles at both Christchurch and Rye Harbours on Apr 11

Hobby: First to reach England this year seems to be one that was seen at Osmington on Weymouth Bay in Dorset on Apr 11 (when another at a Dutch site seems to have been the first on the near continent)

Coot: First chicks for the year recorded at Rye Harbour on Apr 10

Stone Curlew: After reports from Kent on Mar 30 (Thanet) and Apr 3 (Dungeness) we have one from the North Mundham area just south of Chichester during the night of Apr 4 when two birds could be heard calling to each other in the night sky. This report caused another Sussex observer to get out his recordings of bird sounds and to realise that he too had heard the same calls over Bognor Regis 'a couple of weeks ago' (around Mar 25 which would make those bird(s) the first for the year)

Lapwing: The Rye Bay website carired a photo of an early clutch of four eggs in a nest there on Apr 10

Jack Snipe: The Titchfield Haven bird was still there on Apr 10

Bar-tailed Godwit: First sign of spring passage by these birds came on Apr 5 when 16 birds suddenly appeared at Christchurch Harbour and then on Apr 6 Dungeness also reported 16 birds. Last year passage birds started to be seen on Apr 16 with 450 at Dungeness on Apr 20

Whimbrel: Passage birds are now being seen daily in small numbers (max 14 at Seaford on Apr 6). Across the channel there were 52 at a Dutch site on Apr 11

Spotted Redshank: One of two birds still at the Keyhaven Marshes on Apr 9 was in full summer plumage

Iceland Gull: The Dungeness bird has not been reported since Apr 7 and it may be that it was the bird seen distantly from Sandy Point on Hayling, and more closely from St Catherine's Point on the IoW, both on Apr 10 (interestingly there was a report of a Glaucous Gull in the Hurst area - west end of the Solent - on the same day).

Sandwich Tern: There were some 900 of these at Dungeness on Apr 10 but it was not until Apr 11 that I managed to see one from the Hayling Oysterbeds in Langstone Harbour

Common Tern: Singles were seen from St Catherine's Point (IoW) and from Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 6 when Dungeness logged 31 and watchers at Seaford noted 46 'Commic' Terns. On Apr 8 one was seen far inland at Fleet Pond (using the short cut route from the Solent to the Thames estuary) and on Apr 10 two were at Fleet Pond.

Arctic Tern: This week brought the first two reports for the year - both on Apr 10 when one was seen at Fleet Pond and two in the Hurst area of the west Solent.

Little Tern: First report for this year comes from Dungeness where 3 Little Terns were seen on Apr 6. On Apr 9 three were seen from Sandy Point on Hayling Island and on Apr 10 there were reports from Seaford where 6 were seen, Selsey Bill (2), with singles at Goring (Worthing), Dungeness and the Hurst area of the Solent

Cuckoo: After an isolated report from Folkestone on Mar 31 birds began to arrive on Apr 5 when singles were reported at Lymington and in the Lewes area followed by one at Linchmere on the Hants/Sussex border east of Petersfield on Apr 6 and one at Titchfield Haven on Apr 8. Many had been reported by Apr 10 when one was heard locally in the Forestside area (north of Stansted Forest)

Swift: First to reach southern England was one seen at Radipole (Weymouth) on Apr 9 and then two reached Portland on Apr 10

Alpine Swift: One was seen well by a good number of birders at Pulborough Brooks for a little over an hour at midday on Apr 11 - it then flew east.

Wryneck: None in England but one was reported at a Dutch site on Apr 11

Red-rumped Swallow: First of the year seen over the Scillies on Apr 10

House Martin: There had been 17 reports of these in March (first on Mar 7 at Weymouth) but arrivals have speeded up in April with 36 reports during the month to date including birds back at nest sites on Apr 6 (Liphook and Lewes areas) and at artificial nests on houses near the Hermitage Stream running through the Leigh Park area of Havant on Apr 7. Not many birds so far - the highest count reported was only 6 at Fleet Pond on north Hampshire on Apr 8 but this changed on Apr 10 when more than 20 were over the Chichester Lakes and 25 were at Rye Harbour with a peak of 50 over Fleet Pond in north Hampshire. On Apr 11 Thorney Island had at least 27

Richard's Pipit: One was reported in Kent back on Jan 7 but we now have one seen near Weymouth on Apr 8

Tree Pipit: An influx on Apr 10 brought 9 birds to the Fleet/Aldershot area and on Apr 11 one Dutch site recorded 105 passing north

Meadow Pipit: Locally there were four birds apparently resident on the Langstone South Moors (one making regular song flights) on Apr 6 and on Apr 11 I saw one singing at Sinah Common on south Hayling

Water Pipit: Three birds showing summer plumage passed through the Sandy Point area of Hayling on Apr 11

Yellow Wagtail: Just two Hampshire reports so far this spring - one at Titchfield Haven on Apr 9 and 3 at Tundry Pond (west of Fleet in north Hampshire) on Apr 11. The highest count anywhere so far is of 10 at Rye Harbour on Apr 6 with 8 at Reculver (north Kent) on Apr 8

Waxwing: A very late flock of 20 arrived in the Locks Heath area (west of Fareham) on Apr 3 and there were still 14 there on Apr 8

Nightingale: First for the year was at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 7 and this was followed by two more birds on Apr 8 - one at West End near Southampton and the other at Wisborough Green near Billingshurst north of Pulborough. Apr 9 brought three more reports from Beckley Woods (north of Hastings), Botley Woods (near Fareham) and the New Forest shore of Southampton Water plus two birds singing at Pulborough Brooks

Song Thrush: There has been a noticeable increase in song from these birds in the last few days but I am not sure if there is any connection between this and a small influx of continental birds (indications of a lot of them on the move on the continent came from news of 18 passing through one Belgian site and 68 passing a Dutch Site, both on Apr 11, after at least 7 new birds arrived at Sandwich Bay in Kent on Apr 10)

Grasshopper Warbler: At least nine new arrivals in the latest news including one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 6 (first was in Devon on Mar 29 with another at Selsey on Apr 4)

Sedge Warbler: Among recent arrivals one was at the Thorney Little Deeps on Apr 3 and one at the Milton Lakes in Southsea on Apr 4. By Apr 10 there were more than 70 at the Dungeness RSPB reserve and on Apr 11 there were at least 7 on Thorney Island

Reed Warbler: Local firsts have been near Pagham village on Apr 6 and at Titchfield Haven on Apr 8. Emsworth had its first on Apr 10 and surprisingly Barry Collins only reported one on Thorney Island on Apr 11 (though many Reed Warblers skulk in unexpected parts of the general countryside until the new reeds have grown in the places where they will breed)

Lesser Whitethroat: A very few of these do overwinter here and this may account for reports of birds at Hove Lagoon in the Shoreham Harbour area on Feb 20 (though the habitat there suggested a new arrival which had turned up in an inappropriate spot), and of one heard singing at Durlston on Mar 2. Clearly the main arrival of migrants started on Apr 10 with reports from Dungeness RSPB and Reculver (north Kent coast) followed by three more Kentish sites on Apr 11 with three birds at Reculver on Apr 12

Common Whitethroat: First in our area was at Farlington Marshes on Apr 5. There have now been 19 reports between the first at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 4 and the latest at Thorney Island on Apr 11

Garden Warbler: One had been claimed (almost certainly!) at Titchfield Haven on Mar 19 but a more realistic first was at the Lower Test Marshes on Apr 7 (no others yet)

Chiffchaff: The number of reports of birds singing a mixture of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler song is increasing and it seems there is now some evidence that the two species do hybridise.... also of interest are photos on the Portland website comparing the 'primary projection' which is supposed to be the most sure way of separating the species by sight.

Pied Flycatcher: The first was reported at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 4 with another at Durlston on Apr 5 and now one in Devon (Yarner Wood) on Apr 8

Raven: A pair were seen mating at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 10

Redpoll: At least one Common/Mealy Redpoll was at Blashford Lakes on Apr 12 with the much larger and greyer Greenland (rostrata) Redpoll whose identity has been accepted by all the experts which have seen it or pictures of it.

Common Rosefinch: A female was seen in a garden at Birdham (east side of Chichester Harbour) on Apr 8

White-throated Sparrow: It seems that one has been present at Old Winchester Hill since 8 Nov 2008 but the news has not been publicised until someone let the cat out of the bag on Apr 11. The expected parking problems have resulted as birders flock to tick the bird but so far both the bird and the birders have all survived to crush. So far no one has suggested that this is the same bird which arrived by boat at Southampton Docks from the USA on 12 May 2007 but you never know ... (that was clearly a high class bird, only seen in the QE2 terminal)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

14 species have been reported this week (probably 15 as the first Green Hairstreak was seen last week and others are presumably now out but unreported). Three require a special mention.

Small Copper: After three isolated reports on March 17, 20 and 30 it looks as if there has now been a more general emergence with reports on Apr 6, 7 and 8, each of two butterflies (the first two came from Gosport, the third from Lewes)

Holly Blue: There was just one report of a sighting near Hastings on Mar 18 and now we have a second report from Worthing - not much to go on but it looks as if this is not going to be a good year for the species.

Painted Lady: Late news of one being seen at the Magdalen Hill Down butterfly reserve near Winchester on Apr 2 by the warden (Patrick Fleet). Painted Lady is a species for which Butterfly Conservation is trying to record all reports on a national database and we are told this sighting was the sixth of the year to have got onto that database. (No clues as to whether this was a genuine early migrant or an odd individual which had emerged from eggs late in this country last year)

Moths

Common Oak Purple (0006 Eriocrania subpurpurella): This is a day flying moth and the first was seen on Apr 6 in the Blean Woods near Canterbury

Caloptilia rufipennella (0284): First seen in the Thanet area of Kent. Although now fairly common in Britain it was not found here until 1970. This first sighting on Apr 6 would have been a moth that emerged last August but has hibernated until now

Diamond-back moth (0464 Plutella xylostella): These migrants first appeared in both Kent and East Sussex on Apr 10

Brown House-moth (0647 Hofmannophila pseudospretella): First of year found in Thanet (Kent) on Apr 10

Agonopterix subpropinquella (0692): Another first reported in Kent on Apr 7 which would have emerged last August and which has overwintered. I do not have the new English name for this species but it belongs to the family now called 'Flat-bodies'

Buckthorn Leaf Roller (1122 Ancylis obtusana): Another second hand report of a find by Patrick Fleet at Magdalen Hill Down on Apr 6 - mainly of interest for its early date as the species does not normally appear until May

The Streamer (1747 Anticlea derivata): A first for the year from Thanet in Kent on Apr 6

Water Carpet (1750 Lampropteryx suffumata): Another first in the Blean Woods at Canterbury on Apr 6

Brindled Pug (1852 Eupithecia abbreviata): Another first in the Blean Woods at Canterbury on Apr 6

The V-Pug (1858 Chloroclystis v-ata): This is normally not seen until May but one was found at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Apr 10

Common Heath (1952 Ematurga atomaria): First report on Apr 7 when several (including a mating pair) were found on the Downs above the Cuckmere valley in Sussex

Lunar Marbled Brown (2015 Drymonia ruficornis): First found in the Rother Woods north of Hastings on Apr 10

Chocolate-tip (2019 Clostera curtula): First in the Thanet area on Apr 9

Muslin Moth (2063 Diaphora mendica): Also a first in Thanet but on Apr 10

Dark Sword-grass (2091 Agrotis ipsilon): First of these migrants had been at Portland on Mar 11 with no more until this one in the Rother Woods on Apr 10

Flame Shoulder (2102 Ochropleura plecta): Another early first in the Rother Woods on Apr 10 (normally first seen in May)

Cabbage Moth (2154 Mamestra brassicae): First in Thanet on Apr 11 (another species normally not out until May)

Pine Beauty (2179 Panolis flammea): First of these colourful moths found in Thanet on Apr 6

Blossom Underwing (2183 Orthosia miniosa): First also in Thanet on Apr 7

Northern Drab (2184 Orthosia opima): A new species for Dungeness when the first of these for the year was found on Apr 1. UK Moths says of the species .. "Although the English name suggests otherwise, this species is actually more common in the south. It does however occur sporadically throughout northern England and the southern half of Scotland. The single brood flies in April and May, and the species inhabits heathland, downland and sand-hills." The picture of this moth also shows that 'Drab' is not the best description of the moth!

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): First of these migrants had been at Portland on Mar 27 and now one on Apr 9, also at Portland, is the second for the year

Caterpillars

Scarlet Tiger (2068 Callimorpha dominula): When three individuals of this species were found in Friston Forest near Eastbourne in June 2008 they were thought to be a new species for Sussex but when people started looking for these moths several examples were found both in the Forest and in the town of Eastbourne. This year caterpillars of the species were found in the Forest on Mar 14 and on Apr 5 one has been discovered in a new garden in Eastbourne.

Other Insects

Bee Fly (Bombylius major): These seem to be flourishing this year - on Apr 6 as many as 27 were seen on Chalton Down to the north of Rowlands Castle and I had another in my garden on Apr 8 nectaring on Lesser Celandine

Rove beetle (Staphylinus caesareus): Both these and Green Tiger Beetles were seen on Black Down near Haslemere on Apr 2

Glow-worm larva: One of these (whose multisegmented body might suggest it was related to the adult Rove beetles and whose colour is similar to that of the smaller Ladybird larvae) was seen at Durlston country park on Apr 7

Great Silver Water Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus): Two found in a moth trap in the Rother Woods north of Hastings on Apr 10

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Broad Buckler Fern: The blades of these leaves were unrolling in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 10 (with some bracken also opening its leaves)

Wallflower (Erysimum cheiri): The yellow flowers of this wild species were out on the walls of Camber Castle near Rye on Apr 11 so it may now be worth looking for them locally on the walls of Portchester Castle

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratense): Also known as Lady's Smock and by a number of other names this gets its main name from the co-incidence of the opening of its flowers with the arrival of the Cuckoo. This year the first report I know of was dated Apr 5 when someone walking south on the disused railway line (called the Downs Link and running south from Horsham) in the West Grinstead/Partridge Green area where the line meets the Adur valley remarked .. "The footpath leading west off the course of the old line at TQ183214 runs alongside a ditch, which is packed full of flowering Lady's Smock." More flowers were seen in Emsworth on Apr 6 and at Warblington on Apr 7, and on Apr 9 I found a lone plant under the Water Wheel where the Langbrook Stream running past Tesco in Havant goes under the A27. True to tradition the first Cuckoos to be reported in Hampshire and Sussex were recorded on Apr 5 with others following on Apr 6 and 8

Hoary Cress: This has now started to open its flowers - first seen at Broadmarsh on Apr 6 and by Apr 10 it was flowering in the Emsworth area

Shepherd's cress (Teesdalia nudicaulis): First flowers seen on Sinah Common (South Hayling) on Apr 11 but not easy to spot

Chalk Milkwort: First flowers at Durslton on Apr 7

Early Dog Violet: One white flowered plant found in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 10 along with an equally unexpected pink flowered specimen of Common Dog Violet.

Round-leaved Cranesbill: The first few flowering plants found among the Gunner Point sand dunes on South Hayling on Apr 11

Shining Cranesbill: Just one flower was open on Apr 8 in the Warblington area of Havant at the north foot of the bridge connecting the two halves of Pook Lane over the A27

Common Vetch: Also announcing the start of its flowering with a single flower in the Broadmarsh area of Havant on Apr 6

Spring Vetch: Half a dozen tiny plants flowering in the Gunner Point sand dunes on Apr 11

Hairy Tare: Plenty of flowers seen on a cluster of these plants near the East Street bridge over the Billy Trail in Havant on Apr 6

Wild Cherry (Gean): In full flower in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 10

Wild Plum: Also flowering on Apr 10 in the Longcopse Hill area of the Hollybank Woods

Cherry Laurel: The white candles of flowers on this were first lit on Apr 6 in Havant

Apple: A self sown tree in blossom on Sinah Common on Apr 11

Red Currant: Most of the many 'wild plants' in the Longcopse Hill area of Hollybank Woods were flowering on Ap 10

Field Maple: First few flowers open on trees at Warblington on Apr 6

Sycamore: Also flowering for the first time on Apr 6 in Havant

Basford Willow: Trees of this name figure prominently at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and on Apr 6 Brian Fellows wrote .. "As always at this time of the year, the tall Basford Willows on the south side of Palmer's Road Car Park are festooned with extra long yellow catkins, many of which are falling to the ground. Basford Willow (Salix x rubens forma basfordiana) is a hybrid between the Golden Willow (Salix alba var. vitellina) and Crack Willow (Salix fragilis). It has conspicuous orange-yellow twigs which glow in the winter sunshine and very long pendulous yellow catkins. There are others in the plantations on the west side and on the east side of Brook Meadow." A very comprehensive catalogue of Willows which I found on the internet adds .. "The Basford willow was originally discovered in 1870 by William Scaling in his Basford (Nottingham) Nursery. As a consequence of its upright appearance and orange-yellow winter twigs, pendulous catkins and lustrous leaves, it is now widely planted as a landscape tree and is common along the Trent Valley. It can also be used for basket making and produces brightly coloured year-old rods. This hybrid can be distinguished from the golden willow by the shining rather than matt-green leaves of the latter willow and more orange twigs."

Wood Spurge: I have seen garden cultivars of this flowering for some time but the first report of genuine wild flowers comes from Stansted Forest on Apr 8 where they must also have been out for some time.

Thrift (Sea Pink): Just starting to flower on Sinah Common on Apr 11

Bugle: I suspect that my report of this being in flower in Havant Thicket on Apr 2 was in error (the reporter having mis-identified Ground Ivy as Bugle) as I have seen no sign of it anywhere until Apr 10 in the Stansted Groves and the plants there were still not in flower

Ribwort Plantain: This was flowering in Havant on Apr 8

Tartarian Honeysuckle: First pink-red flowers open on Apr 11 on the bush to be found at the junction of the south Hayling Ferry Road with the track leading to the 'gun emplacements'.

Cornsalad (Valerianella locusta): This started to flower at several places in Havant on Apr 6

Snakeshead Fritillary: The plants at the east end of Mill Lane at Langstone were in full flower on Apr 6 (I had seen a flower bud as early as Mar 18)

Early Purple Orchid: Durlston reported the first flowers seen there on Apr 9 and there was a moderate showing of them in the Longcopse Hill area of the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Apr 10 (with just three spikes in the Stansted Groves that day)

Green Winged Orchid: A good start to the Sinah Common show seen on Apr 11 south of the Hayling Golf Course

Wood Sedge: Flowering in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 10

Sweet Vernal Grass: Flowering on Sinah Common on Apr 11

Meadow Foxtail Grass: Flower heads seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 7 and some by the Billy Trail in Havant were in full flower on Apr 11

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: A throw away remark at the end of a report of birds at the Southampton Lower Test Marshes on Apr 10 tells us that if you are there at night and near what is called Bell Crossing over the River Test and the railway at SU 367149 (the only access to the reserve from the Test Lane area just west of the M271 interchange) you may see Otters in the river by the light from the nearby industrial estates and motorway. (For more information about this area visit http://www.patchwatch.co.uk/patchltm.asp which is the ongoing website of Paul Winter, the originator of the HOSLIST Yahoo News Group).

Fallow Deer: A report of 16 seen in a 'Gentleman's Club' assembly in fields at Locksash (near West Marden north of the Ems Valley) was a reminder that the Fallow rut is now well over but that the bucks do not drop their antlers until May, so the bucks have nothing better to do at this time of year than to gather into male only groups to do the sort of thing that old men of any species might do - sit round in a circle and chat about serious matters.

Roe Deer: These start their rut in May and so it is now time for the bucks to make sure they are ready for battle and sex - on Apr 6 the rangers daily newsletter from Durlston country park included a sighting of a buck and doe already paired and with the buck's antlers now without velvet. Less prepared for the season was a Roe buck whose skull, still complete with a three pointed set of antlers, was found in Stansted Forest on Apr 8 by Brian Fellows.

Water Vole: These are getting more active now at Brook Meadow in Emsworth - on Apr 8 one was watched while it moved along a 30 yard stretch of the river bank and during that time it entered 15 different tunnels - it then swam across the river and became lost in the vegetation but was probably still exploring every hole it could find, probably it was a male seeking a female for purposes which are natural in the spring. This led me to enquire further into the life of the male voles - it seems that they live totally separate lives from the females with the one exception of the necessity to get together for breeding purposes. The two facts which I discovered which led me to this opinion are that each male has a territory which spans around 130 yards of the river whereas females do not stray outside a 70 yard stretch which they delimit by latrines at each end - this allows the males territory to give him access to up to three females, each of which require his presence five times a year (they raise five broods between April and September - normally they do not live for more than one year). The second fact is that during the winter months the females allow their daughters to share their burrow but exclude the males (I do not know whether males also share lodgings or continue to live a solitary existence through the winter)

Marsh Frog: In the past I have come across reports of these in the Walland Marshes between Rye and Dungeness but on Apr 5 the Planet Thanet website reported a find in the Minster Marshes on the Isle of Sheppey.

Adder: Mention of a sloughed Adder skin found at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 6 made me wonder if Adders (and other snakes) routinely shed their skins after hibernation and I found several entries on the internet which confirm that this is one of the times of year when sloughing occurs but other entries told me that sloughing occurs every three to six months, and is more frequent in young snakes which are growing fairly rapidly. I also discovered that snakes tend to look duller in colour before they shed their skin - a typical quote was .. "Snakes will periodically shed their skin to allow for growth and wear and tear. When emerging from winter hibernation you may see them basking in the sun with dull milky eyes. This is a sign that the snake will soon shed its skin which is also known as sloughing."


Summary for Mar 30 - Apr 5 (Week 13 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

First reports of summer migrants this week include Honey Buzzard, Stone Curlew, Cuckoo (?), Common Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Pied Flycatcher

A vagrant which may have been an Imperial Eagle over the Isle of Wight directed my attention to some interesting comments on the status of the species (some from HOS - the Hellenic Ornithological Society) and this led on to recently expressed thoughts about the effect of wind turbines on birds (do they really kill a million bird a year in Spain?). Also maybe of interest are reports of Jays imitating cats in their spring song and of the first Peregrine egg having been laid

This week has brought the first dragonfly of the year and two new butterflies (Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak) as well as news of moths, caterpillars and hoverflies

A dozen new flowering plants range from Early Spider Orchid, Early Gentian and Spring Sedge (which few will see) to the Garlic Mustard and Bracken leaves which no one can avoid.

Other Wildlife also has some interest ranging from 'Who killed the Mole?' to 'Are uncontrolled dogs killing deer in the Hollybank Woods?' and if you are not into guessing games then news of a Grass Snake hunting Great Crested Newts long after dark will give you a fact to interest fellow drinkers at your local (well maybe!)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Manx Shearwater: No more than four have been reported in any of the 7 sightings off the Dorset coast since the first was seen at Portland on Mar 21 but in Devon more than 50 were seen off Prawle Point on Mar 29

Cormorant: The continental race (sinensis) of Cormorant is now said to be commoner in Britain than our British race birds and it chooses to nest in trees where our Bristish birds generally nest on cliffs. I was reminded of both points when I read of a 'new' Cormorant nest site at Knepp Castle (Horsham area of Sussex) where 11 birds were seen in trees on Mar 31 with at least one pair having a nest.

Bittern: Single late winter birds were seen at Dungeness RSPB on Apr 3 and at Rye Harbour on Apr 4

Cattle Egret: The small new colony which I think bred last year is again present in Cornwall with at least 9 birds in the Hayle estuary area on the north coast

Little Egret: On Mar 30 I had the impression that three pairs had already started nest building at Langstone pond and on Apr 2 my impression was of four pairs at potential nests. There is also an intriguing report of one in breeding plumage at the Warnham Mill Pond nature reserve at Horsham on Apr 2 while the arrival of one at Portland on Apr 4 shows that some are still reaching us from the continent

Great White Egret: The number in Holland seems to be decreasing (max count of 4 at a Dutch site on Mar 31) while the arrival of one at Sandwich Bay coming in off the sea on Apr 3 may show that others are also heading our way.

Purple Heron: The first mention of this species for the year to my knowledge was of one at a Dutch site on Mar 13, then on Mar 29 one bird was seen in Cornwall and two more were reported in Holland on Mar 31 so maybe more will soon cross the channel.

Spoonbill: The bird which turned up at Farlington Marshes Deeps on Mar 25 had moved to the main lake on Mar 29 but then I think returned to The Deeps where it was still present on Apr 4. Seven were still together in Poole Harbour on Mar 29 when one appeared in the Cuckmere Valley. On Apr 4 two new birds arrived at Rye Harbour.

Mute Swan: I was surprised to find a pair had settled down to nest in the 'Corn Wharf' on the Brockhampton Stream when I was there on Mar 30. Several years ago a pair also built a nest here but easy access to it along the far bank of the stream resulted in the nest being destroyed by vandals - I hope the current nest is more successful.

Whooper Swan: The single bird which is said to have been on the Test at Romsey all winter but which has only just come to the notice of Hampshire birders was being seen in the Saddlers Mill area on Mar 29 - this area can be reached from the centre of Romsey by following a road called The Meads south west from the Abbey or by the Test Way on the west bank of the river a short distance north of the A27. This Romsey bird was still there on Apr 3 and by then it seemed likely that it was injured (it has difficulty in walking and grazes from the sitting down positon) and so may be forced to stay there.

Black Swan: On Apr 1 four were present at West Ashling pond (west of Chichester) and were thought to be an established pair with a couple of their offspring still with them.

White Front Goose: Large numbers are still moving north through Holland - 1513 were counted on Mar 30 and 3144 on Mar 31

Brent Goose: Although most birders visiting the Solent Harbours will currently get the impression that all the Brent have left there are still some migrants passing through. On Mar 30 there were 64 at Keyhaven and some 40 in the Broadmarsh area of Langstone Harbour. On Mar 31 there were 167 in the Titchfield Haven area and 76 at Christchurch Harbour with more than 30 flying east past Seaford in Sussex, but the only birds I could find in Langstone Harbour that day were 11 near The Kench (two parties of 5 and 6 birds that may well be intending to stay the summer). Latest reports of migrants are of 620 going east in the Beachy Head area on Apr 4 when 185 were seen passing Selsey Bill and 11 flew east out of the Solent

Egyptian Goose: A pair had 8 Goslings at Petworth on Mar 15 and now a pair has been seen with six tiny goslings at Eversley gravel pits on the Hants/Berks border on Apr 2

Wigeon: 39 still present at Hook/Warsash on Apr 3

Gadwall: On Mar 30 just one pair was left at the Budds Farm pools and on Apr 3 a single departing bird paused on the sea off Sandy Point (Hayling)

Teal: Also on Mar 30 there were only 11 in the Langstone area though Mar 31 found 22 in Nutbourne Bay (east of Emsworth) and on Apr 2 the flood on the Wade Court meadow at Langstone had 24 birds bathing in the fresh water before continuing their journey.

Pintail: A group of 4 were seen on the Thorney Island Great Deeps on Apr 2

Garganey: These have been seen at seven sites in southern England this week with up to three birds at one site (Titchfield Haven) and pairs at Longham Lakes on the north fringe of Bournemouth and at the Dungeness RSPB reserve

Ring-necked Duck: The female was still in the Swineham area of Poole Harbour on Apr 4 but on Mar 31 the male at Frithend in east Hampshire had moved to the Frensham ponds in Surrey (and has not been reported since)

Scaup: One was still being seen at Titchfield Haven on Apr 3

Eider: 11 were on the sea off the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Apr 3 but I guess these were passing birds hoping to find a crab in the shallow water of the harbour mouth before continuing their journey

Long-tailed Duck: A passing bird was seen from Birling Gap on Beachy Head on Apr 4 but the last reportof the pair at Mill Rythe on the east of Hayling Island was on Apr 2. Regarding this last pair (which have been reported there since Jan 18) I have been puzzled by the fact that many of the reports come from observers at Black Point from which you cannot see into the bay on whose southern shore is the Mill Rythe Holiday Camp. I have always thought of this bay as Mill Rythe and never bothered to check with the OS map - having done so I see that Mill Rythe is properly the name of the deep water channel branching west from the Emsworth Channel and effectively ending where it reaches the entrance to the 'bay' at the southern tip of the Gutner Point saltings. As you can see this channel both from Black Point to the south and from the east end of the southern shore of the 'bay' I now realise that there is no discrepancy in the validity of sightings from both places.

Velvet Scoter: Two flew east past Selsey Bill on Mar 29 and one went past Dungeness on Mar 30 - possibly the last of the winter.

Honey Buzzard: First report of one for this year came from the Isle of Wight where one flew over Shalfleet on Apr 3

Red Kite: The area in which these are seen roaming the skies seems to be extending further southward from the Chilterns - this week there were sightings of three south of the A303 at Andover, near Fawley in the New Forest, and another over the Hayling Oysterbeds on Apr 4

Hen Harrier: One was still being seen in the Sussex Ouse valley north of Lewes up to Apr 4

Imperial Eagle??: An eagle was reported over Brighstone on the IoW on Apr 2 and there was another sighting in the Ventnor area on Apr 4 when it was tentatively identified as an Imperial Eagle. Checking the status of the species on the internet I first read dire reports of its greatly endangered status throughout Europe in an article published by HOS (not the Hampshire but the Hellenic Ornithological Society) but then read a piece in a UK publication called Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/ ), written on Apr 1 2009 (hopefully not an April Fool piece) saying .. "Imperial Eagle Numbers Have Increased Six-fold In Spain. Despite being one of the most threatened species on the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN)'s red list, the Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) is recovering in Spain. The species has undergone an increase from 38 pairs in 1974 to 253 in 2008, data viewed as hopeful by the scientists who carried out the demographic study on the Iberian Peninsula." It goes on to say .. "Some of the most important reasons behind the failure of the Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) to increase its numbers have been premature adult deaths resulting from electrocution on electricity lines and the consumption of poisons used to control predators."

This is probably a good place to mention another report brought to the attention of HOSLIST readers on Apr 4 by John Clark. The original can be seen at http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/EN_ESPANOL/SEO_Directrices_Eolicos_2009.pdf but John has given us a summary of the main points which include the suggestion that .. "Spanish wind farms may be killing up to 1,000,000 birds a year" and offers as evidence .. "Spain has over 670 wind farms and 16,000 wind turbines. .. Bird mortality varies betwen 0.63 and 10 birds per turbine per year in the US ( National Wind Coordinating Committee, 2004 )" but the rate is as high as 64.26 at the El Perd wind farm in Spain. The paper goes on to give some examples which include .. "(i) At the Altamont Pass wind farm, California, the death of 30-40 golden eagles is registered yearly, i.e. 42% of the deaths of golden eagles in the area ( Hunt, 2002 ). (ii) In the province of Soria, Spain, 143 griffon vultures have been killed in one year at 15 wind farms. This amounts to 0.31 vulture per turbine, or 226 vultures for the 732 wind turbines of the Province. ( my comment : for the 16,000 Spanish wind turbines the total would be 4,960 vultures a year.)" John goes on to express his disapproval of what he states to be the RSPB policy of encouraging the building on wind farms ...

Osprey: 19 new reports this week include Barry Collins first sight of one at Thorney Island on Mar 31 (another sighting of one over the Pilsey area was made on Apr 4 from Black Point on Hayling) and the sighting of one flying north east over the Hayling Oysterbeds on Mar 30

Peregrine: The first egg was laid in the nest box on the Sussex Heights tower block in Brighton on Apr 2 and during the week there was a short piece on the TV News showing the birds at Chichester cathedral and the setting up of the webcam there for this year's viewing.

Grey Partridge: On Apr 2 two were seen in the Eames Farm field on the north side of the Thorney Great Deeps seen from the west seawall.

Stone Curlew: One party of birders who set out to look for this species at a well known Hampshire site last week end were disappointed but they might do better next weekend as there has been one reported sighting from the Thanet area of Kent on Mar 30 and another landed at Dungeness on Apr 3.

Golden Plover: Five reports of birds still heading north this week include a flock of 210 on Gander Down east of Winchester on Apr 3

Purple Sandpiper: 11 seen at Southsea Castle on Mar 29 with 12 at Brighton Marina on Mar 30 but the only April report so far is of 2 in the Folkestone area on Apr 2 (last year the last two were seen at Southsea on May 19)

Black-tailed Godwit: Brian Fellows was pleased to find 380 of these in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Mar 31 - as there have been few seen in Langstone or Chichester Harbours recently this large number was unexpected but may reflect a coastal movement (on Mar 28 there was another unexpected large count of 417 at the Keyhaven Marshes). On Mar 29 Steve Copsey photographed one of 44 birds in the Hook/Warsash area and asked for any expert to comment on his vew that that bird was one of the Icelandic subspecies - so far as I know no one has done so but my un-educated view is that the great majority of the birds wintering in Hampshire (if not all of them) are of the Icelandic subspecies and I see this opinion is supported by Birds of Hampshire. It is also I think well supported by the ringing of birds at their nests in Iceland and then finding them back at Hampshire sites after the breeding season.

Whimbrel: More evidence of early passage birds comes from Kent (where a party of 6 flew in off the sea in the Thanet area on Mar 27). This week one flew west along the north Kent coast on Mar 29, calling as it went, and on that same day two had turned up at the Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head. There was also one at a Dutch site on Mar 28. Latest reports include one heading north up the Avon valley over the Blashford Lakes on Mar 30, then sightings in Poole Harbour on Apr 2 and 4 when one flew past Selsey Bill (going west so maybe not a migrant)

Common Sandpiper: John Clark saw one at the Eversley gravel pits (Hants/Berks border) on Apr 4 - he does not suggest it was a migrant but these will soon be arriving.

Arctic Skua: Spring passage seems to have started on Apr 4 with three reports from the Sussex coast (including 10 past Birling Gap on Beachy Head)

Med Gull: The gravel pit lakes at Badminston Common near Fawley recorded a peak count of 554 Med Gulls present on Apr 1 - this is not a breeding site and is thought to be attractive as a source of fresh water for bathing to birds in Southampton Water (peak counts at the pits seem to co-incide with the times of high water on the sea)

Lesser Black-back Gull: Large numbers of Scandinavian birds are now returning to their breeding sites - major passage probably started on Mar 29 when one Dutch site reported 1181 birds passing, then on Apr 2 1088 went over one Dutch site and 1286 over another

Iceland Gull: The Dungeness bird was still there on Apr 3 and a couple of other transient birds have been reported with one seen flying out of Chichester Harbour on Mar 31 and another flying east past Worthing onApr 3

Kittiwake: One Mar 31 these were said to be present 'in abundance' at the nesting cliff in the Seaford area of Sussex where some had been reported on Mar 29

Sandwich Tern: I have not yet heard of any in Langstone Harbour but on Mar 30 one was seen fishing in the harbour entrance near the Hayling ferry.

Common Tern: The first report of one going east past Selsey Bill was on Mar 22 with 6 passing Cap Gris-Nez on Mar 24 and one being seen in Holland on Mar 31. April 3 brought sightings of two at Dungeness and on Apr 4 one landed on one of the scrape islands at Titchfield Haven and three 'Commic Terns' were seen at Seaford.

Cuckoo: The first is reported as being heard at Folkestone on Mar 31 (nothing since!) and the Great Spotted Cuckoo which arrived in Cornwall on Mar 22 was still being seen near St Just on Apr 2

Short-eared Owl: These are still moving north - 3 arrived at Portland on Apr 3 and 2 were hunting over the Barton-on-sea golf course on Apr 4

Common Swift: None in England but it is encouraging to see a first report of them on the Trektellen website - on Mar 30 a site in southern Spain reported 575 Swifts passing over.

Swallow: Quite a few of these are now in southern England - on Mar 29 Portland reported more than 200 arriving and on Mar 31 one was back at the stables where it will nest in Sussex

House Martin: No large numbers but by Mar 31there had been 16 reports potentially referring to 27 birds including one at Ivy Lake in Chichester and one in Romsey, both on Mar 29

Tree Pipit: On Apr 3 one was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling

Meadow Pipit: One was singing at the Langstone South Moors on Mar 30

Yellow Wagtail: A very early bird was in the Cuckmere Valley on Mar 14, then one turned up at Portland on Mar 17 and on Mar 29 one was seen at Reculver on the north Kent coast (with two there on Mar 31). I have now seen nine reports of sightings in southern England with a count of 6 together at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Apr 4 (an overshooting European race Blue-headed Wagtail was with them)

Waxwing: I thought we had heard the last of these for this winter on Mar 7 but maybe we are now seeing a few stragglers coming north after wintering on the continent. There was a party of 8 at Titchfield Common on Mar 25, then Mar 31 brought two reports (5 birds back at Goring rail station near Worthing and a single bird in the Thanet area of Kent)

Common Redstart: First of the year was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Mar 30, then on Apr 2 one reached Durlston and on Apr 3 they were seen at six sites including Sandy Point on Hayling and Denny Wood in the New Forest. Apr 4 brought them to 8 sites including the Botley Woods north of Fareham and Farlington Marshes with 3 at Sandy Point on Hayling.

Ring Ouzel: Although one or two arrived in the second half of March more birds have been seen in the first four days of April than were seen in March but so far none have reached Hampshire

Grasshopper Warbler: One was heard in Devon on Mar 29 and another was at Selsey Bill on Apr 4 (heard reeling in the Bill House garden right behind the beach on which the seawatchers assemble)

Sedge Warbler: The first was at Dungeness on Mar 30 and by Apr 4 they had been recorded at six sites including Fishlake Meadows at Romsey and the Testwood Lakes near Southampton

Reed Warbler: Only one report so far - a bird singing at the Testwood Lakes on Apr 2

Subalpine Warbler: A singing male was at Porthgwarra in Cornwall on Apr 2

Common Whitethroat: Two reports of single birds on Apr 4, one at Birling Gap (Beachy Head) and the other at Christchurch Harbour.

Blackcap: One of the first migrants to arrive was at Sandy Point on Hayling on Mar 19. By now they are everywhere - locally Brook Meadow at Emsworth had its first on Apr 2 and there were at least six in the Emsworth Hollybank Woods on Apr 4 while a silent male was in my Havant garden on Apr 5 showing its grey plumage and glossy black cap to advantage among brilliant white plum blossom.

Willow Warbler: Portland had a fall of 200 on Apr 3 and Christchurch Harbour had 360 on that same morning. They must have come in on a broad front on the previous night as Martin Hampton heard one singing behind the Waitrose store in Havant early that morning before catching the train to Portsmouth where he heard another. Among many other places to record them on Apr 3 Sandy Point on Hayling had 4 and the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood had 7.

Pied Flycatcher: First and so far only arrival was a male at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 4

Willow Tit: An anonymous report of one in the Fishlake Meadows at Romsey on Mar 31

Jay: As with other members of the Crow family Jays can make a range of sounds and sometimes imitate other birds but the 'meeow' calls heard at Titchfield Haven on Apr 1 were thought to be neither an April Fool report nor the imitation of a cat but part of the normal spring song of the Jay species (I have heard reports of this in previous years)

Rook: On Mar 31 Brian Fellows found a large rookery which I was not previously aware of - he counted 266 nests in trees lining the road to Chichester immediately east of East Ashling village, and returning to this site on Apr 1 he increased his count to 287

Carrion Crow: Flocks of 100 or more are not uncommon at coastal sites but on Apr 3 I see that John Clark had flock of more than 150 at the Sandhurst sewage works on the Hants/Berks border.

Linnet: It may be that more of these are now returning to southern England after wintering on the continent - on Apr 2 Christchurch Harbour logged 106 passing through with another 135 there next day

Redpoll. A relatively very large and pale coloured bird which has been seen for some time on feeders at the Blashford Lakes reserve is now thought to be of a Greenland based 'rostrata' subspecies which was previously considered as never seen in Hampshire. Further disproof of this assumption comes from Romsey were several more birds which seem to be of the same race have been trapped.

Bullfinch: Further indications of these being semi-migratory come from the arrival of 12 at Durlston on Mar 22 and of single birds at Portland on the last few days

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies:

Large Red Damselfly: First of the year seen on Apr 2 at Peter Pond in the area of Farlington Marshes north of the A27

Butterflies

Grizzled Skipper: First for the year at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Mar 30 with another at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on Apr 4

Green Hairstreak: First seen at Magdalen Hill Down on Apr 4

Moths

Pale Flat-body (0700 Agonopterix pallorella): First of year seen at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Apr 4

Emperor Moth (1643 Saturnia pavonia): A male was seen flying in the Thanet area of Kent on Mar 30 to be first for the year (males fly by day seeking the females which skulk under cover but presumably attract the males with pheremones)

Double-striped Pug (1862 Gymnoscelis rufifasciata): The first of these was also in the Thanet area, trapped on Mar 30

Lead-coloured Drab (2185 Orthosia populeti): First of year seen on Mar 29 at Stoke village on Hayling Island

Dotted Chestnut (2260 Conistra rubiginea): First seen in the Lindfield area of Haywards Heath on Mar 25

Caterpillars

Red Admiral: Many of this years first caterpillars were already in their 'tents' on nettles at Rookley (Isle of Wight) on Mar 28

Scarlet Tiger moth: Caterpillars seen on Forget-me-not plants in the St Cross area of Winchester (by the River Itchen) on Mar 30

Garden Tiger moth: First 'woolly bear' caterpillars seen in the Newhaven area on Mar 30

Other Insects

Bee Flies: One of the common Bee Flies was in my Havant garden on Mar 30 and as many as 12 were seen on Chalton Down (north of Rowlands Castle) on Apr 2, Dotted Bee Flies were out in the Rye Bay area on Mar 31

Hover Flies: The Marmelade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) was active in Havant on Apr 1. On Apr 5 I saw another medium sized hoverfly in my garden which I thought might be Myathropa florea but on checking I found that this species is not normally out until May and that it not only has the yellow abdomen with lateral black stripes across it (and one short longitudinal black stripe connecting the front two lateral ones) but it also has a distinctive 'Batman logo' on its thorax so the fly I saw was almost certainly Syrphus ribesii which comes out in April, is very common, and has a plain black thorax.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Bracken: First fronds (still unfurled) had pushed up on Hayling Island on Apr 2

Bulbous Buttercup: Although this had been found flowering in the Portsmouth area on Mar 18 my first find of a clump in full flower at Havant on Apr 1 was a real sign of spring

Eastern Rocket: A few plants were flowering on Mar 31 close to the ice-cream kiosk at the entrance to the Langstone Harbour entrance carpark on Hayling

Garlic Mustard: Another real sign of spring was a cluster of these plants in flower on Apr 1 alongside the main road into Havant from the A27

Sticky Mouse-ear: First flowers open in Havant on Apr 4

Sea Mouse-ear: Plenty of this flowering on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Mar 31

Spring Beauty: A surprise find under the Tamarisks alongside the Langstone Harbour entrance near Gunner Point on Mar 31 - millions of plants present in leaf but just one small clump had come into early flowering

Herb Robert: My first sight of the flowers of this plant for the year came in St Faith's churchyard in central Havant on Apr 1

Early Gentian: This had started to flower at Durlston on Apr 1 (and so may be expected at Noar Hill)

Bugle: Reported flowering in Havant Thicket on Apr 2

Field Forget-me-not: Plants in flower in the Denvilles area of Havant on Apr 4 (distinctly smaller than the escaped version of the garden cultivar of Wood Forget-me-not which has been out everywhere for some time)

Early Forget-me-not: A good show of these in the short grass of the roundabout east of the Ferry Inn on south Hayling on Mar 31 though you have to be on the grass and look down carefully before you can spot these tiny flowers

Spring Starflower: I had seen these flowering in gardens for a week or more before I found the established south Hayling colony of garden escapes flowering on Sinah Common (across the road from the south end of Staunton Avenue) on Mar 31

Early Spider Orchid: The first flowers had appeared at Durlston on Apr 1

Spring Sedge: Last year I discovered this on one grave in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery and it was flowering there agan on Apr 3 (the name on the tombstone is Shepheard making me wonder if he was a shepherd and had downland turf placed on his grave!)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: Among others appreciating the improvement in the weather on Mar 30 was a Fox seen sunbathing in the Wade Court south meadow within yards of a few late Teal also dozing around the flooded area.

Fallow Deer: When Brian Fellows visited the Longcopse Hill area of the Hollybank Woods (north of Emsworth) on Apr 4 he saw 10 Fallow Deer in or near the thick birch scrub which has grown up in an area that was cleared of mature trees some years ago. This has become a haven for the deer and some may even use it to give birth to their fawns in June. I have noticed that the paths used by the deer to squeeze between the birches (which were almost impenetrable to humans) now seem broader - maybe just because there are no leaves on the trees but maybe because people have started to use them. Brian also commented that the paths leading to the 'orchid area' seem to be inceasingly used by people and dogs and that on this visit he saw a group of dogs running wild, one of them with what might have been part of a deer's leg in its mouth. Just one more example of the ever increasing pressure from humans on the wildlife around them ...

Mole: A freshly dead mole was found in Brook Meadow on Apr 2 but no cause of death was given - maybe natural causes (old age) but maybe it had been killed by a Fox or Cat and then left as unedible? or maybe it had been poisoned? In dry hot summers when the worms go deep and the uppper levels in which Moles dig their tunnels become baked hard it is not uncommon to find dead Moles in a dessicated condition but apparently this one looked to be in good condition.

Water Vole: One was seen at Brook Meadow this week to come face to face with a Moorhen - both decided that caution was the best policy and retreated!

Hare: Two reports this week - one of several seen in the Martin Down area but of much more interest to me was a sighting of 3 Hares in the field south of the Little Deeps on Thorney Island where it is years since I used to see them regularly in the Eames Farm field north of the Great Deeps

Frog: On Mar 28 the Havant Wildlife Group watched Tadpoles emerging from spawn at Creech Woods south of Denmead

Great Crested Newts and Grass Snake: Another interesting item on the Rye Bay website - after dark on the evening of Apr 3 Brian Banks visited the pools in pits at Lade (between Rye and Dungeness) using a torch to check on the Great Crested Newt population. He found 115 of the Newts but also had the surprising sight of an active Grass Snake in the water and hunting the same Newts - the snake must have a good system of 'batteries' to store the energy derived from sunlight during the day in order to have the energy to catch its prey in cool water long after sunset.

Common Lizard: Several of these were seen in Havant Thicket on Apr 2 by Ashley Whitlock when he was there in search of butterflies


To see Summaries for January to March 2009 go to JAN-MAR 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2008 go to OCT-DEC 2008 SUMMARIES

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