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WEEKLY SUMMARY

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Wildlife diary and news for June 27 - July 3 (Week 26 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

First Goosander family at Christchurch Harbour: Two ducklings and a parent appeared in the harbour on July 2, presumably having swum down stream from a nest in either the Avon or the Stour. A female with 9 ducklings had been seen on the Exe estuary as early as June 19

Dorset Bird News reports that there were 45 Spotted Redshanks at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on July 2 (all in summer plumage) but I have no confirmation that this is not a misprint for a more likely figure or '4 or 5'

Here in Havant on July 3 I was surprised to hear the menacing chuckles of a pair of adult Herring Gulls which seemed to have taken over the rooftop of the house opposite mine. While these gulls fly over daily I have never seen them land on houses here - maybe next year they will be back to nest and to fill our ears with sounds to replace those of the Swifts that have ceased to breed this year (I would much prefer the Swifts!)

The British Dragonfly Society reports a mass emergence of Common Darter dragonflies in Essex on July 1 and the appearance of the first Black Darters at Thursley (Surrey) on June 30 - perhaps the latter are now out in the New Forest?

George Spraggs has a photo of a smart Gold Triangle moth, caught in Hayling West Town area on July 2, on his blog at http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm - below it is the colourful Orache Moth which he caught the previous night

Also on July 2 Graeme Lyons went to Beachy Head to search for a very small plant which hides in short turf disguised as Dwarf Spurge (only the leaves look similar, not the flowers!). He did not find the plant but did make me aware of a species which has only two sites in mainland Britain (Beachy Head and south Devon). The plant in question is Small Hare's-ear (Bupleurumn baldense) which flowers earlier than its 'common' relative (Slender Hare's-ear). To get an idea of its size see http://www.ukwildflowers.com/Web_pages/bupleurum_baldense_small_hares_ear.htm

Round-headed Rampion: This attractive dowland speciality was seen on Nore Down near West Warden (north of Stansted Forest) for the first time during the Havant Wildlife Group outing on July 2

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-necked Grebe: These have been known to breed in Hampshire but while there is not hint of that this year there have been three sightings off the Netherlands this week plus one (an adult in summer plumage) on the north Kent coast at the Oare Marshes near Faversham on June 30

Storm Petrel: These have been appearing for some time off the West Country and as far up channel at Selsey but I was surprised on July 1 to see that one had been seen off Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast

Night Heron: On June 19 one turned up in Hertfordshire and on June 29 one caused great excitement to Kent birders by turning up in the Stour Valley east of Canterbury

Little Egret: Reports of increasing numbers at several sites where these do not breed seems to show that post breeding dispersal is now under way. On July 1 the number at Weir Wood near Crowborough had shot up to 17 (from 4 on June 23) while the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton suddenly acquired 14 Egrets and Christchurch Harbour had 23. On July 2 Weston Shore on Southampton Water had 12 which had not been there in June. There is no clear evidence of more birds in the Solent Harbours but at Langstone Pond the young have mostly left their nests for lower perches around the edge of the water.

Glossy Ibis: One spent the day on June 27 in the Kent Stour Valley but does not seem to have been seen anywhere before or after.

Brent Goose: Still no reports of summering birds in Langstone Harbour but one was seen in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour on June 19 - in recent years I have come to expect at least half a dozen to stay in Langstone and probably around a dozen in Chichester Harbour. At Hook (Warsash) it seems that one of last year's young has stayed on (though it shows no sign of injury) while in Devon the Exe estuary is hosting singles of both Dark and Pael-bellied birds

Garganey: The number of sightings has dropped off as the males loose their flight feathers but two males were seen in the Warsash area on June 24

Eider: The flock of around 2000 Eiders which is moulting on the sea off Murcar golf course (just north of Aberdeen) continues to attract other birds (Common and Velvet Scoters plus rarer Surf Scoters) including a second north American rarity to add to the White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) that was reported last week - this time it is a Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)

Hen Harrier: A ringtail was an unexpected sight over Beaulieu Heath in the New Forest on June 30

Osprey: Another sign of an 'early autumn' is an Osprey back on the south coast - one has been fishing at Christchurch Harbour daily from June 27 to July 1 at least. Other June Ospreys have been seen at Weir Wood in north Sussex on June 1 with a gap in sightings until June 21 when singles were seen on the Test near Romsey and at Lodmoor on the coast at Weymouth

Peregrine: On June 29 an adult was still taking food to its nest on the cliff of Paulsgrove Chalk Pit at Portsmouth while on June 30 one of the young in the Chichester Cathedral next was flying well enough to chase off a Kestrel which drifted into the local airspace

Quail: Heard at 11 different sites across Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex (plus one in Cornwall) between June 19 to July 1

Stone Curlew: One seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 1 seems to have been a very early departure (maybe it had encountered disturbance at its breeding site?)

Lapwing: The first to return to the Langstone village shore was seen by me on June 29 but there were already 51 back at Christchurch Harbour that same day

Temminck's Stint: On June 26 singles were in Norfolk and Orkney and a Pectoral Sandpiper was also in Norfolk to start the summer 'vagrant' season

Ruff: Unlike the Phalaropes it is the Reeves (female Ruffs) which stay on in the north to rear the young so it is normal for males to start to return to southern England around now and males have been seen in the Kent Stour valley on June 28 and at the Oare Marshes near Faversham on June 29 and 30

Black-tailed Godwit: A good number of non-breeding birds stay with us through the summer but a report of 11 birds in summer plumage at Pulborough Brooks on June 29 (where I have not heard of any summering birds) suggests that some are starting to return from Iceland (perhaps having suffered from volcanic disturbance to their breeding?)

Spotted Redshank: Elmley Marshes on Sheppey had already seen a 'flock' of 8 returning birds last week and Brownsea in Poole Harbour had reported two birds there in June 29 but there was nothing to hint at the flock of 45 birds reported to be back there on July 2

Redshank: A flock of 40+ were at the Exe estuary in Devon on June 27. Greenshank and Whimbrel are also now returning to the south coast

Green Sandpiper: Reports this week show that this species is now present throughout southern England and that numbers are increasing at seveal sites - Pulborough Brooks had 12 on July 1 and Rye Harbour had 15 on July 2 while one Netherlands site had 73 as early as June 27

Wood Sandpiper: Present at five southern sites this week with three together at Pulborough Brooks on June 28

Common Sandpiper: Returning birds can be seen at many sites with six together at Christchurch Harbour on June 27 and 5 at West Bexington north of Weymouth on July 1

Med Gull: These are just coming to the end of a very successful breeding season in which a not inconsiderable part of the success is due to the parent birds' ability to take chicks from the nests of other gull species in order to feed their own young. Newly fledged young were seen in both Christchurch and Pagham Harbours on June 28 and the families are already moving away from coastal breeding sites - Med Gulls may find the safety of harbour waters desireable for their night roosts but they always prefer to spend their days (when not tied to nests) on field away from the water, either following the plough during spring and autumn ploughing or catching insects on hot summer days. Even when not with their parents it is possible to distinguish their juveniles from those of Black Headed Gulls by their plumage - Black Headed have bright gingery patches of juvenile plumage where the young Meds are greyish.

Laughing Gull: The first to be reported around British coasts this year was on the Lothian coast in Scotland on June 29

Black-headed Gull: These, along with Little, Common and Sandwich Terns, have had a disastrous breeding season on the RSPB reserve islands in Langstone Harbour thanks to high tides in May which washed out nests built to low on the shoreline plus predation of their chicks by both the Med Gulls and Foxes. Those which nested at the Hayling Oysterbeds were more succcessful, as I think were those based in Pagham Harbour where juveniles began to fledge by June 28 - other juveniles were seen on June 30 by the River Itchen in Southampton and at Bishopstoke on the R Avon the other side of Southampton.

Glaucous Gull: The first winter bird which was at Dungeness last winter is still there on July 1

Sandwich Tern: At Rye Harbour, as in Langstone Harbour, the terns have lost the majority of their chicks to Mediterranean Gulls

Roseate Tern: These have been seen recently at Rye Harbour, Dungeness, Lodmoor and Portland

Little Tern: Just one chick remains this week to reward the efforts of all 50+ pairs that tried to nest in Langstone Harbour this year. I have so far been unable to find out what success the colony has had on the Chesil Bank at Weymouth where round the clock volunteers have been protecting the nests of 17 pairs of Little Terns - even they had failed to stop one Hedgehog getting through and eating one clutch of eggs when the first 10 chick hatched on on June 13

Rose-ringed or Ring-necked Parakeet: Just two sightings in Hampshire this year, both on June 27 when what may have been the same bird was seen at both Eastleigh and Lymington (I see there had been one earlier sighting at Lymington on Feb 3)

Swift: A sudden surge of these birds (probably weather induced) brought a report of 8098 of them passing over Spurn Point in Yorkshire on June 27, and on June 28, just after a belt of heavy rain had passed over my house (and most of England!), I saw my very first two Swifts of the year (probably benefitting from flying insects sucked up by the rainbelt). On the following day (after the weather had moved east) Sandwich Bay reported 800 Swifts overhead

Alpine Swift: At least three of these were among the thousands of Common Swifts over Spurn Point on June 27

Wryneck: A sighting of one on Fair Isle on July 1 may have been a precursor of others travelling south.

Sand Martin: Several reports now indicate that some of these have finished their breeding season and are already heading south while from south Devon comes the first report on July 1 of more than 500 entering a night roost on the coast at Thurlstone Bay

Yellow Wagtail: Another species showing the first signs of autumn passage - on June 27 a few flew over Dungeness and others were seen at Durlston

Common Redstart: Singles at Pulborough Brooks on June 29 and at both Christchurch Harbour and south Devon on June 30 were seemingly heading south

Dartford Warbler: One seen at Portland on June 30 appeared to be a dispersing juvenile

Carrion Crow: The large flock which seems to be present year round at Weston Shore on the east bank of Southampton Water had increased from around 150 to around 250 by July 2 - presumably joined by newly fledged young and their parents now relieved of domestic duties

Starling: A report last week from the Hastings area said that autumn flocks were assembling early this year and this week a report from south Devon on July 1 is of the first autumn reedbed night roost

Crossbill: These have been pouring into this country in small family groups since the start of March (if not earlier) and this week two reports show that Hampshire and West Sussex are immune from these movements. On June 23 one was seen flying south along the River Hamble at Curbridge near Botley and on June 30 a family of four dropped in briefly at the Arundel Wildfowl reserve before flying on north

Corn Bunting: I think numbers in the south of England may be increasing - they do not seem to be endangered in Sussex but it seemed likely that they might soon cease to breed there. This year shows encouraging news of birds singing in the Martin Down area now (June 30) and in early April, at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on May 21, and at Danebury Hill near Stockbridge on May 31 and June 11

Foreign Birds: I have created this new 'species' under which to record the many fascinating species pictured by Steve Copsey on the Three Amigos website during his world tour on board HMS York. You too can enjoy Steve's pictures by following http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo

Vagrants: The latest addition to the Scoter/Eider flock on the sea of Aberdeen ( the American Black Scoter ) was still present on July 1

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Migrant Hawker: The Migrant Hawker which we see every year in numbers is at least partially resident here but this week I have come across a new Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) which is an uncommon migrant starting to appear on our shores (one seen in Essex on June 29). It looks similar to the Migrant Hawker but has a distinct bluer tinge to its colouration - for pictures and details see http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/species/southern-migrant-hawker (the first photo is of one seen by the River Adur when the species first reached Britain in 2006

Norfolk Hawker: This species is supposedly resricted to Norfolk and Suffolk but this summer one was reported to have been in the Kent Stour Valley from June 4 to 8 at least

Ruddy Darter: The first report came from Oare Marshes in Kent on June 28 and on June 29 more than five were seen in Essex (since then the first Black Darters have been seen on June 30 at Thursley in Surrey)

Common Darter: Dungeness had the first sighting on June 24 and since then a mass emergence in Essex has been reported on July 1 (White-faced Darters were seen in Cumbria on June 27)

Emerald Damsel (Lestes sponsa): The first report came from Graeme Lyons at Graffham in West Sussex on June 24

Southern Emerald Damsel (Lestes barbarus): Two migrants were reported in North Kent on June 30

Small Red-eyed Damsel: More than 28 were seen at an Essex site on June 27 - this species first reach Britan in 1999 and can now be found throughout most of England (including Farlington Marshes and Hayling Island)

Dainty Damsel: Last year the only evidence of its presence in Britain were one or more exuvia found on Sheppey. This year on live specimen was found there on June 19 and 2 were present on June 30

Butterflies

Notable reports have been ...

Wood White: Second brood had emerged at Botany Bay in Surrey on June 27

Small Copper: Summer brood have been seen since June 14

Holly Blue: Three sightings of summer brood insects reported on June 26 (and I have seen them in Havant on July 1 and 3)

Purple Emperor: First seems to have been at Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) on June 24 and I have now seen reports of them at 11 sites. One interesting find was of a 'small, battered specimen trapped inside the window of an office in the Aldershot area'

Large Tortoiseshell: One reported in Cornwall on June 28

Dark Green fritillary: apparently having a great season with one report of more than 200 in the Friston Forest area north of Eastbourne on June 23 and another of more then 40 in the Worthing area on June 26

Wall Brown: An isolated report of one in the Southwater Country Park at Horsham on June 26 was presumably an early emerge of the summer brood as the first brood have not been seen since June 1

Species on the wing this week have been ...

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Wood White, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Common Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Large Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet.

Moths

The Lappet: This strangely shaped moth has been photographed by George Spraggs and and be found on his website at http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm though I think the moth was actually caught by Simon Wright elsewhere on south Hayling on June 28

July Belle: An early report of this from Dungeness on June 14

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Along with many other migrants arriving this week there has been a surge in these with a total of 23 reports this week (one from Southwater Country Park at Horsham on June 29 being of more than ten moths seen there in a two hour period). Local sightings around Havant have included one in a Denmead garden on June 26, one on Thorney Island that day, three moths seen in Kingley Vale on June 30 and one at The Kench on Hayling on July 1

Orache Moth: Another colourful moth which you can see on George Spraggs' website

Other Insects

Amblyteles armatorius: This is probably the name of a large black and yellow Ichneumon which landed in my garden on July 1

Stag Beetle: After finding one in Havant on May 21 and hearing of one in Henfield on May 31 the only other report I have come across is also from the Henfield area on June 26 but is a report of finding bits of a Stag Beetle on the ground - I have watched one being devoured by a Magpie in the past.

Great Green Bush Cricket: A sighting of one on Portsdown on June 29 was hopefully of the first fully adult insect

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Water Cress: The first flowers that I know of for this species were seen on June 30

Hairy St John's Wort: First flowers foundby Brian Fellows at Nore Down near West Marden on June 24

Slender St John's Wort: First flower in Havant Thicket on June 27

Rock Sea Spurrey (Spergularia rupicola): Brian Fellows found this on Sinah Common (Hayling Island) on July 1 and if correct it would be a great find for Hayling but I think the plants will need expert examination before they can be accepted as the only previous records of the species anywhere in Hampshire east of Southampton Water have been at Portchester and the differences between species are not easy to determine.

Bastard Toadflax: This seems to having a good year and has by now been found in perhaps half a dozen places on Portsdown and also on the Sussex Downs at Kingley Vale this week

Wild Liquorice: This 'new to me' plant was found flowering in the Arun valley (near Bury) by Graeme Lyons on June 28 and his picture of it can be seen at http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-d8IvEoHRJc0/Tgi1kZtnh9I/AAAAAAAABgM/MNMFRehOOT4/s1600/Henbane+053.JPG

White Melilot: First flowers seen at Broadmarsh in Havant on June 30

Spear-leaved Willowherb: This is a rare Willowherb in Hampshire (the distribution map in the Hants Flora show just 10 locations for it) and although there was a find in the Sinah area of Hayling Island in 1969 I do not expect to find it there today. On June 28 however Graeme Lyons did find some plants near Stedham in Sussex but only managed to photograph one leaf of the plant (during a thunderstorm!)

Upright Hedge Parsley: I think this 'last of the series' Cow Parlsey is about to appear and I found one example of it at Broadmarsh on June 30 which I can't claim as a first having already claimed an odd very early plant on Hayling on May 30

Wild Parsnip: The first plant I have seen this year was in the process of unfurling its yellow flowers on Portsdown on June 29

Sea Holly: First flowers found by Brian Fellows in the Gunner Point sand dunes on Hayling on July 1

Henbane: Flowering in West Sussex on 28 June - found by Graeme Lyons

Wild Basil: Flowering on Portsdown on June 29

Skullcap: First flowers found by Brian Fellows on the wall of the stream flowing alongside Lumley Road at Emsworth on June 29

Betony: Flowering on Portsdown on June 29

Sticky Groundsel: Flowering in a Havant garden on July 2

Golden Samphire: First flowers seen near Farlington Marshes on June 30 and more seen at The Kench next day

Shasta Daisy: First flowers at Broadmarsh on June 30

Cotton Thistle: Flowering in a Westbourne garden on June 28 and probably occurring as a garden escape elsewhere locally

OTHER WILDLIFE

Serotine Bat: On the evening of June 27 Nik Knight took his bat detector into the fields east of Langstone Mill Pond and north of Langstone High Street and that both Serotines and Noctules as well as Pipistrelles were active there. Over at Arundel a Hobby was seen chasing, but not catching, a Noctule

Marsh Frog: Birders at Swalecliffe on the north Kent coast heard Marsh Frogs on June 14 and I suspect they have been calling in several places in Kent and in the New Forest on recent warm nights

Grass Snake: A Mallard dosing beside the water at Titchfield Haven this week suddenly hurled itself into the water and a nearby Moorhen led its chicks away to safety when a Grass Snake suddenly appeared where the Mallard had been sleeping.

Sun Fish: These strangely shaped large fish which swim like a large dinner plate balanced on its rim have started to appear in our water with reports of them from the Scillies on June 20 and from Durlston on July 1 (for a photo see http://www.whitewatercharters.co.uk/images/sunfish/sunfish-100-l.jpg ). Also seen at Durlston this week have been Smooth-hound Sharks, Gurnard, Undulate and Cuckoo Rays, Tope (another small shark species), Bass, Mackerel, Garfish, Tub Gurnard and Black Bream.

Basking Shark: More than 8 of these were seen off Lands End on June 28 with others present around the Scillies

Turtles and Alligators in Florida: Among Steve Copsey's photos taken in the Florida Everglades and appearing on the Three Amigos blog this week are images of Alligators plus Florida Softshell and Florida Red-bellied Turtles (see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/21018/Everglades+National+Park+-+Alligators+and+Turtles%2C+.html )

Fungi: Still no great outburst but I did see the first of the large boletes in Havant Thicket on June 27 (possibly a Brown Birch Bolete and definitely a Leccinum species by the black flecking on its stem) and also during the week I came on two examples of the edible Agaricus bitorquis which likes to grow in dusty and gravelly soil.


Wildlife diary and news for June 20 - 26 (Week 25 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

Common Fleabane: First flowering of the year in Emsworth yesterday (June 25)

Red-breasted Merganser: A summering female was photographed at Mill Rythe (east shore of Hayling Island) yesterday - see Brian Fellow's website at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm

Osprey: See entry in main text below which includes mention of an almost complete project to attract Ospreys to breed at Arne in Poole Harbour and hints at a similar project to be run in Chichester Harbour (perhaps based on Thorney Island?)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Sooty Shearwater: On June 18 six were seen off Brittany, on June 20 one was seen in the Scillies and on June 23 two were off Polzeath in Cornwall with a single off Lands End on June 25

Manx Shearwater: Plenty of these around, mainly in the West Country (peak counts of 2000 off Cornwall, 1475 off Devon and 1000+ off Portland) but on June 22 Sandy Point on Hayling had 39 with another 3 there in June 24.

Balearic Shearwater: Seven reports during the week but the peak count was only 17 off Christchurch Harbour on June 18

Storm Petrel: I suspect there have been a good number of these in the English Channel during the week but few being seen from coastal sites. Pelagic expeditions from the Scillies found a peak count of 100+ on June 20. Two were seen off Selsey on June 21 and four were off Brittany on June 18. Just one Wilson's Storm Petrel was reported off the Scillies on June 20

Night Heron: One in Hertfordshire on June 19

Squacco Heron: The bird which turned up at Dungeness on June 15 was not reported after June 19

Little Egret: I anticipated that juveniles would start to appear in the Langstone area around June 17 but the closure of the foot path around the Langstone Pond meant that all I could be sure of was that some young were still in their nest trees on that day. The only report of a juvenile seemingly out on a fishing trip with its parents came from Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex on June 23

Great White Egret: The long staying bird at Dungeness was still there on June 23

Grey Heron: A report of a juvenile out with adults came from Farlington Marshes on June 21 but I think juveniles were out with their parents as early at May 15 at the Weir Wood near Crowborough.

White Stork: A couple of reports of singles at Netherland sites on June 18 and 23 qualified as 'remarkable' and I take this as an indication that these birds may already be starting their autumn passage.

Brent Geese: There has been a surprising lack of reports of summering birds in our Solent Harbours so far this year but one Dark-bellied Bird was seen by the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on June 19. Elsewhere one Dark-bellied bird at the Exe estuary was joined on June 21 by a Pale-bellied bird, another of which has been seen at the Hayle estuary in Cornwall from June 13 to 20

Eider: The summer moult flock of 2,000 birds was still to be seen off Murcar Links a few miles north of Aberdeen on June 22 (with them were still 1200 Common Scoter, 92 Velvet, 3 Surf, and one North American White-winged Scoter). Down here in the Solent the Eider flock off Lymington increased to 33 (the highest number there since the end of April and the second highest for the year after 39 on Mar 23)

Red-breasted Merganser: Late news is of a female seen off the east coast of Hayling Island on June 25 (maybe the single female that has been summering in Pagham Harbour though that one was reported on June 21 to have an injured wing and the photo of this latest bird (see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-356-red-breasted-merg-CV-25.06.11.jpg ) looks fit (and does not have the white patch on the wing that would appear on an eclipse male).

Goosander: One at Dungeness on June 21 was unexpected at this time of year but a female with 9 juveniles on the River Exe in Devon was clearly a local breeder (we will probably soon hear of similar families on the Hampshire Avon )

Honey Buzzard: What are presumably non-breeding birds were seen this week over the Scillies and over Ringmer near Lewes in Sussex

Black Kite: One over Anglesey in Wales on June 20

White-tailed Sea Eagle: 'Our' Hampshire bird from last winter is still in Lincolnshire

Marsh Harrier: Two newly fledged juveniles are now flying at Rye Harbour and one (presumably adult) was seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) where one or two have been reported in each month of this year (and a pair bred last year though the first mention of young did not come until the end of July) A pair also bred there in 2009, stated to be the first breeding in Dorset for 50 years.

Osprey: Singles were seen at Romsey and Lodmoor on June 21, presumably non-breeding birds, but it may not be long before we do have them breeding in southern England. On Springwatch we saw chicks had hatched in Wales and another three seem to have hatched at Rutland Water (despite the suspected killing of one male there this year and two(?) last year). Also this year Roy Dennis (Osprey expert from the Scottish Highlands) has visited Poole Harbour to support an RSPB project there and you can find out what they are doing there by visiting http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/a/arne/work.aspx and watching the video at the foot of that page - it includes a mention of a similar project in Chichester Harbour but I have no information as to how far that has got but I would not be surprised if Thorney Island was involved.

Peregrine: The nest on the cliff face of the Paulsgrove chalkpit (south face of Portsdown, Portsmouth) had three chicks in it on June 14 but they may have fledged by now (June 26)

American Golden Plover: Photos of one at Isley Marsh (on the Taw estuary in North Devon) appeared on the Devon Birding website on June 25

Whimbrel: Ten reports from sites all along the south coast this week suggest that a good many birds are already returning from breeding

Curlew: These are also returning to our coasts - on June 22 the Christchurch Harbour website reported seven as 'returning birds heading west.'

Spotted Redshank: 8 were back at the Elmley Marshes on Sheppey by June 18 and a summer plumaged bird was seen at Pett Levels on Rye Bay on June 21

Green Sandpiper: Reports of returning birds come from 8 southern sites this week including 7 seen on Sheppey, 3 at Sandwich Bay, 6 at Rye Harbour plus singles at Pulborough Brooks, Portland and Cornwall

Wood Sandpiper: The first to be reported in the south since mid May was at Dungeness on June 23

Common Sandpiper: Six reports of birds returning south this week come from Dorset, Sussex and Cornwall

Red-necked Phalarope: One was seen at Slimbridge on the River Severn, well south of its breeding grounds, on June 22

Med Gull: A visitor to Rye Harbour on June 23 was impressed by the ease with which Med Gulls could take Black-headed Gull chicks to feed their own young

Lesser Black-backed Gull: The first autumn bird was back the the Emsworth Slipper Mill pond on June 23

Little Tern: Some are already leaving their breeding sites to start their autumn travels - on June 24 eight were on the Lymington shore and on June 25 two were at Christchurch Harbour.

Black Tern: Indications that these are starting thier autumn passage come from reports of one in the Scillies on June 14, one passing Spurn Point on June 18 and one seen off Selsey Bill on June 21

Cuckoo: At Gunner Point on south Hayling on June 21 a Cuckoo flew west low along the shoreline and into the wind giving the impression it was looking for a good place from which to start its journey to Africa

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: On June 20 a male spent 15 minutes on a bird feeder somewhere in Sussex

Meadow Pipit: Recently I was lamenting the absence of breeding birds on the Langstone South Moors so I was very pleased to hear and see the song flights of an estimated five birds there on June 20

Blyth's Reed Warbler: The first report of this species came from Orkney on June 23

Wood Warbler: Concern was expressed this week about tree felling in the New Forest when at least one tree was seen to be marked for felling despite the likelihood that it would fall a Wood Warbler's nest

Spotted Fycatcher: Very few still breed in south east Hampshire but this week reports of breeding birds came from Hoe Gate north of Wickham in the Meon valley, from the hamlet of Dean just north of Bishops Waltham, and (just across the Sussex boundary) from Stansted House. Other reports of young being fed in and near their nests suggest that those like myself who have not yet seen a Flycatcher will have a chance of doing so as family parties move south and pause at the coast.

Starling: Although we are still in June there was an indication of autumn flocks already building up at Catsfield near Hastings where a flock of 40 seen on June 22 increased to 120 on June 23.

Foreigners: While HMS York is temporarly berthed in the US Naval Base at Key West in Florida Steve Copsey has taken the opportunity to photograph many bird species that he would not see when back at home in Portsmouth. See his entries on the Three Amigos website ( http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ) dated June 22, 23 and 24. Species which caught my eye were of Double-Crested Cormorant plus Grackles, Cardinals and Red-winged Blackbirds, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture and Osprey, Brown Pelican and Magnificent Frigatebird, Eastern Kingbird and Black Vultures plus a Great White Heron

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: First for the year was an immature seen in Devon on June 23

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa): The first I have recorded was one seen by Graeme Lyons at Graffham on the West Sussex Downs on June 24 but a search of the British Dragonfly Society website show the species has been on the wing since June 13 in Norfolk, June 14 (Cumbria), June 19 (Hants - seen by Richard Carpenter in Botley Woods) and June 21 in Cornwall

Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum): A much rarer first was recorded on Sheppey on June 19 when one of these was found after several hours of searching at a site where two exuvia had been found last year. Photos of this species can be seen at http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/species/dainty-damselfly followed by a description of its Status and Distribution which reads .. "Found in Essex during 1946–1952, when its known breeding sites were then destroyed during the catastrophic floods of winter 1952–53. Recently (June 2010) re-discovered in Kent, where apparently breeding (two exuviae found)."

Butterflies

Significant Sightings

Essex Skipper: A 'probable' sighting on the Sussex Downs above Storrington on June 14 was not confirmed and the first definite report came from the Botley Woods north of Fareham on June 19. Brian Fellows had the third of the year on Nore Down at West Marden (north of Emsworth) on June 24 and took a photo showing the ink black tips to its antennae ( see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-357-essex-skipper-nore-down-24.06.11.jpg ) as it rested on the opening flowers of Common Ragwort.

Lulworth Skipper: On June 24 Durlston had its first but Portland had the very first on June 18 ( see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/wp_lulworth_skipper_4_180611_500.jpg ). Looking at this photo you might think it too had black tips to its antennae but its the underside of the antennae which counts and in the Lulworth Skipper this is cream coloured (you can just detect that colour as a sort of halo around the left antenna) while the id is confirmed when you look at the right wing and see a 'Peacock's Feather' pattern with the tips of the 'feathers' showing as a semicircle of lightish streaks near the wingtip and the outline of the feather marked with faint black lines curving back to the body end of the wing

Grizzled Skipper: None this week (last was seen on June 14)

Brimstone: None reported this week - maybe last summer's brood have finished and we should soon be seeing this summer's fresh emergence

Green-veined White: This week's sightings were probably all of the year's second brood which began to emerge on June 14

Small Copper: One seen at Cissbury Ring above Worthing on June 19 was noted as 'pristine' and probably marked the emergence of the main summer brood which normally appears in July

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: None seen since June 4 and the single Small Pearl-bordered seen this week was probably the last of the year

Species on the wing

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver-studded Blue, Common Blue, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Ringlet

Moths

Leopard Moth: On June 24 Ralph Cousins, who lives in the Stockheath area of Leigh Park here in Havant, sent me a photo of a moth clinging to the clothes line in his garden and I was able to suggest it was a Leopard Moth based on the distribution of black dots on its otherwise white 'plumage'. See http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0161.php for photo and detail for this very distinctive moth which I have not seen reported by other observers so far this year (normally it does not appear until July)

Dystebenna stephensi: One of these found at Cowdray Park near Midhurst by Graeme Lyons on June 23 - searching for a photo of it I found that the UK Moths website does not have a photo of it but I found one at http://www.suffolkmoths.org.uk/cgi-bin/mos/account.cgi?code=0907 and found out more about its habits from Mike Wall's Hantmoths site at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0907.php

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Just two of this migrants seen this week - one at Portland and the other at Billingshurst near Pulborough

Puss Moth: One freshly emerged specimen photographed hanging on a leaf at the Arundel Wildfowl Trust site on June 18

Cinnabar Moth caterpillars: First report of these yellow and black striped caterpillars feeding on Ragwort is dated June 19

Other Insects

Unknown Bush Cricket (?) in Florida: During his current visit to Florida Steve Copsey took a photo of a colourful insect which is well worth a glance - see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/uploads/a/amigo1/30441.jpg

Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria): An impressive insect that is fully at home in our south coast counties was seen near Horsham on June 21 (first reported for this year)

Chrysotoxum cautum (Hoverfly): On June 24 George Spraggs photographed this 'unknown hoverfly' resting on a leaf at Northney on Hayling Island (see http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm ) and after seeing his picture I discovered its identity on a webpage which has a lot of info about hoverflies including how to distinguish males from females by looking at the size and separation between their eyes (males have bigger eyes which meet in the centre of the head, females are smaller and distinctly separated). See http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artmay07/cd-hoverflies.html

Other hoverflies: On June 23 Graeme Lyons found a rare Hoverfly called Xylota florum inside the Sussex Wildlife Trust HQ at Woods Mill (Henfield) and on June 25 Sam Smith at Rye Harbour found another unusual hoverfly called Anasimyia contracta which occurs with Bulrushes (See http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2011/06/25/castle-water-137/#more-14968 - on this same page the photo of the hoverfly is followed by one of a Dark Bush Cricket nymph showing the light coloured band along its 'spine' which appears to be a feature distinguish a nymph from an adult of the species)

Robin's Pincushion gall caused by Diplolepis rosae Gall Wasp: This relatively common and easily spotted gall was photographed for the first time this year on Harting Down by Colin Vanner on June 19 (see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-359-rose-bedeguar-gall-CV-19.06.11.jpg )

Other Beetles found by Graeme Lyons this week: See Graeme's blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ for the names of several beetle species including Tomoxia bucephela whose larvae live on deadwood but which cannot bore their own way into trees and have to rely on the 'tunnels' made by other species to reach their food (perhaps not an ideal arrangement).

Harlequin Ladybird: One of the reasons why this recent invader is not liked in England is its penchant for eating our native ladybird species and this week George Spraggs has captured one in the act of having such a meal (albeit of a Ladybird larva rather than an adult). See the entry for June 24 on http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm Incidentally all the entries on this blog have a slight problem in that a small section of the text or picture is obscured by part of a Web Error Message saying that "The webpage cannot be displayed" and in the case of this entry it obscures part of the George's text about weather at the coming weekend - if this frustrates you it is possible to reveal the text by using your mouse to highlight the area of the visible and hidden text then using CTRL+C to copy it and CTRL+V to paste it into a text box (e.g. Wordpad, Notepad or other Word Processing document) when the text will appear without the obscuring error message.

Strangalia maculata Longhorn Beetle: Unlike the unusual beetle species reported by Graeme Lyons this fairly common and easily identified species was seen this week at the Hook Heath Nature Reserve at the north foot of Portsdown. If you are not familiar with the species see http://www.adriandaviesimaging.com/photo_6529115.html

Dark Bush Cricket: Brian Fellows captured an image of an adult on Brook Meadow at Emsworth this week. It can be difficult to distinguish adults and nymphs of these Bush Cricket species but in this case the all dark adult ( see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-361-dark-bush-cricket-bm-19.06.11.jpg ) is easily distinguished from the nymph which has a pale stripe down its 'spine' (see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/rxdarkbushdsc03226.jpg

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Old Man's Beard (aka Traveller's Joy): This had started to flower in Havant on June 21

Field Pepperwort: I have had doubts about my own identification of this plant earlier this year and this week a photo taken by Graeme Lyons at Friston near Eastbourne gives me further doubts as I expect Field Pepperwort to have lance shaped leaves which grow pressed up against the stem (as with Arabis hirsuta - Hairy Rock Cress) where Graeme's plant has broader leaves held out at right angles to the stem. See http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2PhPAzg9Ffs/TgNnTjEr8BI/AAAAAAAABfs/Y1RCEiR2iYw/s1600/Friston+012.JPG and compare the plant shown to the seven photos at http://www.aphotoflora.com/d_lepidium_campestre_field_pepperwort.html (to display the different images run you cursor over the panel to the left of the main photo). My conclusiion is that this species is varable in appearance and changes with age

Hairy St John's Wort: First flowers for the year found by Brian Fellows on June 24 at Nore Down

Proliferous Pink: During the years 2003 to 2006 a plant thought to be Childing Pink grew at just one site on Sinah Common (South Hayling) but it displayed differences from the Childing Pinks which grew on the Worthing shore (the only other known site for the species) and it was re-identified as Proliferous Pink - at that time only found in East Anglia. In 2007, after clearance of Gorse to 'conserve' this rarity, the plants appeared to vanish so I was delighted on June 21 to find some 30 stems of these plants (more than I ever saw in the past) back in the original area but the plants were long gone over so I cannot be positive that these 'husks' were genuine Proliferous Pinks (though I am personally convinced by the size and shape of these 'husks' that they were).

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria): Plenty of these on the sandy ground south of the Hayling Golf Course on June 21

Nottingham Catchfly: Also seen at its usual site on the Hayling Beachlands near Gunner Point on June 21 and in greater numbers than usual (estimated 70 plants, some still in flower but mostly gone over)

Night Flowering Catchfly (Silene noctiflora): Seen 'somewhere in Sussex' by Gaeme Lyons on June 19

Bastard Toadflax: Although this has been found in flower in both Sussex and Dorset since May 25 I have failed to find it on Portsdown so I was pleased to see that John Goodspeed has seen it in flower at a regular site above the Paulsgrove chalkpit on June 24

Little Robin: On June 21 I managed to find just one plant on the shingle of Hayling Beach south of the Golf Course

Dyer's Greenweed: Two finds this week - on June 19 I found just two plants flowering beside the Lavant Stream alongside the Bartons Road playing fields on the northwest fringe of Leigh Park here in Havant and on June 23 John Goodspeed found plenty in flower on Northney Marsh fields accessed by the permissive path from St Peter's Road in Northney village to the east sea wall of north Hayling.

Hare's Foot Clover: Freshly flowering on the sandy South Hayling shore on June 21

Bladder Senna: A single woody stemmed bush of this yellow flowered plant has grown for many years beside the path (about two thirds of the way from Ferry Road to the shingle) up the eastern side of The Kench at South Hayling. This was flowering on June 21 and will later have translucent 'bladder' seed pods.

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: Both flowers and fruit could be seen at the Juniper Square site in Havant on June 20

White Stonecrop: This is not uncommon in the Warblington cemetery (presumably planted on graves) but a couple of plants which I found on June 21 were on the sand dunes near Hayling's Gunner Point and might be 'native'

English Stonecrop: Masses of this flowering on the Gunner Point area sandy grassland on June 21

Evening Primrose: Many of these plants were flowering for the first time at South Hayling on June 21

Pepper Saxifrage: Reported as flowering at Durlston on June 20

Rock Samphire: Flowering for the first time this year on the South Moors sea wall at Langstone on June 20

Bell Heather: In full flower on the Hayling Golf Course close to Ferry Road at The Kench on June 21

Lax Sea Lavender: First flowers seen in the saltings east of Nore Barn at Emsworth on June 21

Brookweed: This was already in flower in the Warblington SSSI on May 24 but I was interested to see that it still grows at the Langstone South Moors (close to the Tamarisk pool)

Sea Bindweed: This was in flower in many places on the south west Hayling shore sands on June 21

Cocks Eggs (Salpichroa origanifolia): Masses in flower at the usual Sinah Common site (opposite the south end of Staunton Avenue on Hayling) despite earlier close mowing of the area

Deadly Nightshade: First report of flowering comes from Brian Fellows on Nore Barn near West Marden (north of Stansted Forest) on June 24. If anyone still thinks this another name for Bittersweet (or Woody) Nightshade they should see Brian's photo at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-357-deadly-nightshade-nore-down-24.06.11.jpg

Dark Mullein: First flowers seen in Emsworth pm June 23

Pale Toadflax: This was already flowering by June 21 at its only South Hayling site

Marjoram: Already in flower at Nore Down near West Marden on June 24

Marsh Woundwort: Flowering at the Langstone South Moors on June 20

Cut-leaved Self Heal (Prunella laciniata): Flowering at is only Sussex site on a roadside near Brighton on June 18 - found by Graeme Lyons

Wood Sage: Just starting to flower on South Hayling on June 21

Nettle-leaved Bellflower: First report of this in flower comes from Nore Down near West Marden on June 24

Clustered Bellflower: First report of this in flower comes from Nore Down near West Marden on June 24

Sheep's Bit: This was newly out at South Hayling on June 21

Danewort: This is probably flowering now at its Havant site alongside the Hayling Billy trail passing the end of Grove Road but it was well in flower at an unspecified Sussex site where it was seen by Graeme Lyons on June 19

Narrow-fruited Cornsalad (Valerianella dentata): This whitish flowered downland species was found by Peter Raby in the Fort Widley area of Portsdown on June 22

Heath Bedstraw: First flowering seen on Sinah Common near the Cock's Eggs site on June 21

Wild Madder: Flowering at Durlston on June 19

Squinancywort: Flowering at Durlston on June 20

Field Scabious: Flowering at Durlston on June 23 and at Nore Down near West Marden on June 24

Marsh Ragwort: Seen flowering at two Havant sites on June 19 and 20

Lizard Orchid: Flowering at an East Sussex site on June 19

Southern Marsh Orchid: The annual count of the plants flowering in the Langstone South Moors 'orchid field' found 8805 plants on June 25, not quite as high as last year's total of 9234 but way above the annual average of counts since 1995 which have ranged from 6763 down to 491. Although I do not have exact figures I recall a peak count of around 8000 before the site was partially detroyed by the construction of what is now Southern Electric offices on Penner Road so that regretable change to the habitat has not destroyed the site!

OTHER WILDLIFE

Florida Wildlife: Steve Copsey has been in Florida this week having some time off while HMS York is visiting Key West. As usuual his photos taken there are well worth seeing - go to http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo to see his entry for June 25 and his pictures of American Alligator, Florida Softshell Turtle, Florida Red-bellied Turtle and Key Deer (a subspecies of White-tailed Deer)

Durlston Marine Life: The Durlston Rangers report for June 22 lists some of the fish and other marine life now on offer there including Undulate and Cuckoo Ray, plus Tope, Bass, Mackerel, Garfish, Gurnard, Tub Gurnard and Black Bream

Scillies Marine Life: Pelagic boat trips have this week seen the first Sunfish of the year and tagged more Blue Sharks

Fungi: No doubt a good many species have responded to the rainfall but the only one that I saw was Dung Roundhead in several places on the Langstone South Moors


Wildlife diary and news for June 13 - 19 (Week 24 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

With sunshine this morning I made a quick cycle trip to the Bartons Road playing fields, adding two new plants to my 'first flowering' list. The first was Lesser Burdock growing beside New Lane, the second was Marsh Ragwort on the banks of the Lavant stream where it runs between the Bartons Road playing fields and the railway. Back in my own road I was able to add a third plant with flowers on the Tree of Heaven towering over Glenhurst School from the next door garden.

Back at home I made a quick scan of my 'favourites' on the internet and came up with the following items posted since my final scan yesterday and so not yet in the database from which the main summary is taken.

Glowworm: I already have reports of these seen glowing at Durlston on May 13, on Portsdown on May 31 and in Broadwater Forest near Crowborough on June 4 but none of these stated whether the glow was coming from larvae or mature beetles and that is still the case with a report of them in Parkhurst Forest on the IoW seen last night (June 18)

Lulworth Skipper: The first report I know of for this year was of one at Portland on June 18

Wild Madder: The Durlston Ranger's report for today (June 19) says that Hemp Agrimony flowers are open (first I know of) and more interestingly that Wild Madder is in flower. This is an uncommon relative of the very common Field Madder, is slightly 'bigger and bolder' and has whitish green flowers to be followed by black berries. It grows on exposed chalk at coastal sites and so is only found in Hampshire on the New Forest shoreline but it is plentiful around the Isle of Wight

Cut-leaved Self-Heal: This is thought to be extinct in Hampshire (Stace marks the species with a single R to indicate it is found in less than 100 Ten Km squares in south and central England) but it was found and photographed yesterday (June 18) by Graeme Lyons on a roadside near Brighton (its only known Sussex site). See Graeme's blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ for this find and the Large Thyme which he found on Friday (June 17)

Puss Moth: Although there was an early report of this moth from Kent at the end of April it is well worth a look at the June 18 entry on http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html for a magnificent photo of one seen at Arundel (not at a moth trap) showing 'red veins' in its otherwise black and white 'plumage' that I have not noticed in other photos of the species.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Sooty Shearwater: These birds breed in the southern hemisphere and so are now 'wintering' in the northern hemisphere where we do not normally see them from coasts until the August to October period when they are heading back south but this year's unusual weather patterns have brought a few of them to our shores from the start of May. The first six reports (from May 7 to June 16) were all of singles and most were off Devon and Cornwall though June brought two reports from Portland and on June 14 one was found in very poor health on the shore close to Titchfield Haven - although it was taken into care it died next day. It seems we may see more casualties as on June 17 eleven of the birds were seen off Berry Head (just south of Torbay in Devon), and three were seen from Portland, all heading west and probably victims of the severe storms which have been hitting the north of Scotland and which have probably been ejecting battered and hungry Shearwaters into the North Sea from which they have been trying to make their way back to the normally calm (in June) north Atlantic, but forcing the birds to take the long way round the British Isles in order to do so.

If you want to extend your knowledge of other sea birds which are normally never seen in British inshore waters do check out Steve Copsey's blog entries on the Three Amigos site at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo Steve, on HMS York, has been taking photos of birds we do not normally see since HMS York Portsmouth on Feb 22, crossed the Equator on Mar 18 and reached the Falklands on Apr 10. Since then he has rounded Cape Horn, sailed up the Pacific coast of South America and then through the Panama Canal. On June 18 he was photographing birds on a Jamaican golf course.

Manx Shearwater: Numbers of these seen off south Devon have shot up this week with peaks at Berry Head of 1394 on June 12 and 2884 on June 17. I assume that many of these are birds on extended fishing trips to feed young in burrows on Skokholm but have no evidence for this. Berry Head has also seen a sharp rise in the number of Balearic Shearwater with a peak of 56 passing on June 17

Storm Petrel: Peak counts this week have both come from boats rather than the coast - on June 10 more than 50 were seen off Start Point in south Devon and on June 13 a pelagic trip from the Scillies recorded more than 60 (with one Wilson's Storm Petrel). Some do come inshore and one was seen from Selsey Bill on June 12 while Portland succeeded in catching three on the night of June 13 after luring them ashore with tape recordings.

Squacco Heron: The first I am aware of for the year arrived at the Dungeness RSPB site on June 15 and was still there on June 17

Pale Bellied Brent: In mid-April the birds which had been wintering on the shore of the Bay of Biscay stopped off on the Dorset and Devon coast (214 in Weymouth Bay and 274+ in the Exe estuary on Apr 16) on their way back to Greenland/Canada, provoking comment that these numbers were higher then ususal. Since then it seems that at least one is thinking of staying for the summer at the Hayle estuary on the north Cornish coast (still there on June 16) and on June 15 Lee Evans commented - "Many unseasonal PALE-BELLIED BRENT GEESE have been seen around our coastlines of late". Just before this, on June 9, Simon Woolley saw one out of the water feeding on the Titchfield Haven foreshore (giving a view of the white underparts) though it soon flew off towards the Isle of Wight and has not been reported again. On June 11 a group of three Brent were photographed in Tipner Lake at Portsmouth which were originally misidentified (by John Clark) as Pale Bellied though Andy Johnson quickly corrected this to Dark Bellied.

Tufted Duck: A pair of these have been resident on Langstone Pond this spring and I am half expecting to see their ducklings in the near future following the first report of a Tufted Duck with 9 ducklings seen in Devon on June 11.

Eider: Not local but impressive is news of a moulting flock of around 2000 Eider off the Aberdeen coast in Scotland. Twitchers are being drawn to this area as there are also 1200 Common Scoter there and among them is just one North American White-winged Scoter which (if accepted) will be a first for Britain. (See http://birdingfrontiers.com/2011/06/12/american-white-winged-scoter/ ) To add spice to this assembly of birds there are also 90 Velvet Scoter and 4 Surf Scoters there and a single King Eider in the Ythan estuary (just north of Aberdeen).

Red-breasted Merganser: The last of the wintering birds left us at the start of May (one past Seaford on May 5) and a pair seen off the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 7 were probably intending to stay for the summer. No more sightings were reported until June 13 when a pair were at Ferrybridge (Weymouth), followed by a female in Pagham Harbour on June 14 and then on June 17 the pair re-appeared off the Oysterbeds. I presume something triggered this sudden burst of re-appearances (maybe a last look at the outside world before their summer moult forces them into hiding?) but cannot be sure what it was that brought these sightings.

Peregrine: A report of two juveniles over Christchurch Harbour on June 11without an adult escort is a reminder that other young birds, such as the four from the Chichester Cathedral nest, will soon be leaving their nest sites and learning to fend for themselves.

Quail: A bird was heard at a new site for the year on June 11 when one was reported at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley

Spotted Crake: The first to be reported in England this year (other than a single report from Warwickshire on Apr 5) was in Orkney on June 11 - presumably an early autumn passage bird.

Coot: Another indication of autumn came from Emsworth this week when 28 Coot appeared near the entrance to the marina on June 16

Avocet: No news so far of breeding in Hampshire or Sussex but June 10 brought news of more than 80 chicks at Elmley on Sheppey

Ringed Plover: On June 16 a Heron landed on the north Kent shore at Reculver close to a Ringed Plover nest in which four chicks had recently been rung. Thanks to a prolonged 'broken wing' display by one the Plover parents the Heron was drawn away from the nest and the chicks survived.

Greater Sand Plover: A sighting of a smart adult on June 17 at Dornoch on the Scottish coast in Sutherland has been adding to the travel expenses of British twitchers

Whimbrel: Although a few have remained in southern England I am pretty sure that some of this weeks sightings (e.g. six at Dawlish in Devon on June 12, four at Landulph in Cornwall on June 11 when two were at Christchurch Harbour - the first there this year) strongly suggest that autumn passage is starting.

Spotted Redshank: Seven 'black' breeding plumaged birds at Elmley on Sheppey and one on the Lymington shore, both on June 15, seem to have been the first autumn passage birds (this was supported by the appearance of three more in the Netherlands that day)

Green Sandpiper: These too are now returning to southern England with sightings of new birds at Slapton in Devon (one on June 12), Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour (one on June 13), Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex (one on June 14), Elmley marshes on Sheppey (three on June 15), Testwood Lakes near Southampton (three on June 16), plus singles at Longparish near Andover and at Rye Harbour (both June 18)

Common Sandpiper: One was back at Pagham Harbour on June 16 - the first there since Apr 30.

Phalaropes: Red-necked females seen this week were in Ireland (two in Wexford on June 9) plus singles in both Leicestershire and Worcestershire on June 10. More surprising was Grey Phalarope in full breeding plumage on the Ythan estuary in Aberdeenshire on June 17

Common Gull: None had been reported from Hampshire since May 4 until one was seen in Southampton Water on June 18 and claimed as the first autumn bird

Herring Gull: Reports of pure white individuals have been made for a good many years (many causing confusion with Iceland Gulls) and one even acquired the pseudo name of Larus argentatus bonserii when Richard Bonser was a student at Southampton University in 2002. Latest in this long line of 'white Herring Gulls' was captured on camera at Christchurch Harbour on June 18 and can be seen with the entry for that day at http://www.chog.org.uk/Pages/Sightings.htm

Little Tern: The first ten chicks hatched at the Chesil Bank site (Weymouth) on June 13

Guillemot: The first chicks were jumping from the nest ledges at Durlston on Jun 16 to join their parents on the sea

Tawny Owl: One was seen at Furze Hill (South Gorley just north of Ringwood) attempting to catch Pipistrelle Bats in flight - despite some great aerobatics the owl failed to make a catch.

Roller: The first to be reported in Britain this year was seen in Suffolk on June 13 and a second was reported from the Isle Mull in Scotland on June 16

Short-toed Lark: One was on Portland from Apr 3 to 11 and one was on St Mary's in the Scillies from May 13 to 20. There was also a brief sighting in Cornwall on Apr 9. Now there has been an equally brief sighting at Christchurch Harbour on June 16

Sand Martin: These are usually among the first of our summer visitors to start to head south and this year the first to depart were four seen leaving Portland on June 14 (many more are still with us caring for young)

Nightingale: Several were still singing at Pulborough Brooks on June 13

Mistle Thrush: The few that have bred in southern England this year seem to have had good breeding success and one indication of this has been a report of an 'autumn flock' of 16 birds on Stockbridge Down near the River Test west of Winchester on June 14

Marsh Warbler: One was heard singing at Weir Wood reservoir on June 17 and may be still there. Another was in Norfolk on June 12 and other reports came from Shetland on June 11.

White-throated Robin: The bird which turned up at Hartlepool (possibly having flown from Turkey) on June 6 to become the third for Britain was still there on June 10 but has not been reported since.

Nuthatch: While these are very common in woodland they seem to have an aversion to the sea and are rarely seen within half a mile of the coastline so the sighting of one at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 14 was a bonus for that site

Red-backed Shrike: Another sign of autumn has been three reports of these birds this month. A male was at Dungeness on June 7 (it may have been lurking in that area after sightings there on May 9 and 10), an adult female was on the Essex coast on June 11 and a pair arrived in the Orkneys on North Ronaldsay on June 17

Rose Coloured Starling: The adult first seen in north Devon on June 7 was still there on June 18

Corn Bunting: Still holding on as a breeding species in Sussex singing birds were heard at three West Sussex downland sites on June 14

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

The only item of note this week is confirmation that Emperor dragonflies are now out at two local sites - Brook Meadow at Emsworth and the IBM Lake at Portsmouth

Butterflies

Noteworthy reports:

Essex Skipper: First and so far only report is of one seen on June 14 on the Sussex Downs above Storrington (and which flew off before it could be recorded on camera)

Lulworth Skipper: The first for the year was seen on Portland on June 18

Dingy Skipper: None reported this week for the first week since they appeared on Apr 8

Green Veined White: Fresh second brood specimens seen on June 14

Holly Blue: None reported this week

Peacock: No butterflies reported but 200 caterpillars were found at a site near Fareham

Comma: Several of the bright orange Hutchinsonii summer brood seen

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: None seen this week

Glanville Fritillary: None seen this week

Ringlet: One seen at Brook Meadow on June 16 was surprisingly battered for a freshly emerged specimen - probably the result of emerging during a period of high winds. If we accept the record of one on Hazeley Heath in north Hampshire (reported on the exceptionally early date of May 29) the Emsworth sighting was the third for Hampshire and earlier than any sighting reported in Sussex (a report on the Sussex butterfly website of a sighting on June 15 was in the Botany Bay woodland near Chiddingfold in Surrey)

Full list of species reported this week:

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Large Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Purple Hairstreak, White Letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet

Moths

Five Spot Burnet: A report of 'numerous Five Spot Burnets' at a site a little south east of Henfield in West Sussex on June 18 contradicts the UK Moths website which says that Five Spots are only to be found in the west country and in Wales and I suspect that the moths seen at Henfield were the Narrow Bordered Five Spots

Orange-blotch Cosmet (Chrysoclista lathamella): A photo of one in the Eastbourne area on June 11 turns out to be only the second Sussex record, the first being back in 1880

Pine Hawkmoth: First for the year was found on Heyshott Common near Midhurst on June 11 and the species was taken by George Spraggs on Hayling on June 16

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Four more reports this week bring the total of reports which I have seen for the year to just 26 so no massive invasion of migrants yet!

Other Insects

Hornet Robber Fly (Asilus crabroniformis): A noteworthy report of one seen carrying a moth which it had just caught came from Portsdown on June 11

Ruby-tailed Wasp: One seen by George Spraggs on Hayling on June 9

Hornet: One seen in the Staunton Country Park at Havant on June 11

Bilberry or Mountain Bumble-bee (Bombus monticola): This was a new species to me when I saw it reported on the Devon birding website on June 10 but on checking I found this is a species of moutain and moorland, only likely to be found on Dartmoor in southern England

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Rough Poppy: First report for this year comes from Graeme Lyons in Sussex on June 17

Bastard Cabbage: On June 14 I visited the Hayling Island site where I have found this new invader since 2008 and found it had spread to the full length of the short stretch of seawall which protects the Saltmarsh Lane area of west Hayling

Dyers Greenweed: After seeing reports of this in flower at Durlston I visited the Thornham Marshes site on the east shore of Thorney Island and found a mass in flower there on June 13. On June 14 I found more starting to flower on west Hayling and on June 19 a couple of plants were in flower at the Bartons Road playing fields on the north east fringe of Leigh Park in Havant

Goats Rue: The plants around the Stoke Bay carpark by the Hayling Coastal path were in full flower by June 14 but remain the first I am aware of this year

White Stonecrop: Plants on graves in the Warblington cemetery had started to flower when I was there on June 17

Wild Celery: First flowers for the year seen by Langstone Mill Pond on June 17

Vervain: First report of this flowering comes from Brian Fellows who found it out in the Emsworth Bridge Road carpark area on June 14

Great Mullein: Although caterpillars of the Mullein Moth have been seen eating the leaves of this plant for some time the first report of flowers comes from the Hayling coastal path on June 14

Round-leaved Fluellen: First flowers seen at Warblington cemetery on June 17

Large Thyme: Flowering in Sussex on June 17 when it was found by Graeme Lyons

Salsify: I was not aware of how many species of Tragopogon exist nor of the hybrids that can occur until June 15 when I saw the photo of a Salsify plant with brown petals on the Rye Bay website and followed up the link to Wikipedia - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salsify

Chicory: The wildflower seed sown by Havant Borough in the Warblington cemetery extension was starting to flower on June 17

OTHER WILDLIFE

Minke Whale: One seen from a boat off the Scillies on June 13. A much larger but un-named Whale can be seen on the Three Amigo's blog entry for June 16 by Steve Copsey - taken from a Lynx helicopter just after HMS York (with Steve on board) had left Lima and was heading for the Panama Canal. This impressive creature is probably a Blue Whale which can be 33 Metres in length. To see it go to http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo and scroll down until you come to the photo taken from above.

Blue Sharks: Boat trips off the Scillies recently caught and tagged several Blue Sharks (four on June 6 and 5 on June 13)

Brown Hare: At least one was seen near the Breech Pool by the North Walls of Pagham Harbour on June 14

Adder: An unusual sight at Furze Hill (eastern edge of the New Forest near South Gorley) on June 14 was of an Adder in the process of swallowing a Linnet - sadly there was no way of telling if the Adder caught the Linnet alive or came across it already dead. In trying to check this out I looked at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/adder which says they will take young birds from their nests (I think Adders are quite cable of climbing to a nest) and I suppose an adult Linnet might have returned to its nest while an adder was there, and I guess the bird's feathers would not give it protection from an Adder bite

Pointed Snail (Cochlicella acuta): On June 16 Durlston mentioned a find of this small snail and this is around the time which they become large enough to be noticed (especially in a heat wave when they climb plant stems and wooden posts to escape being 'fried' on bare ground) so I had a good look for them on the Thorney Island seawall at the west end of the Great Deeps when I was there on June 13 but although I found half a dozen empty shells I could not see any live specimens


Wildlife diary and news for June 6 - 12 (Week 23 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

Hornet Robber Fly: First news of this rarity for the year comes from Mark Tutton who saw one on Portsdown (struggling to carry a large moth) on June 11. He also found 8 White-letter Hairstreaks at the North Harbour ex-IBM site in Portsmouth

Tree Creeper: Paul Palmer saw a pair on the exposed wood of the electricity poles a few yards north of the bridge over the Lymbourne Stream from the Billy Trail in Havant to Wade Lane. I wonder if these were birds that have nested there (I saw one at the northern end of the trees running north beside the stream to the A27 embankment back on Jan 24 exploring Ivy stems that would make a good nest site for them)

Inca Tern: If you want to see a bird species that you have probably not come across before have a look at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/uploads/a/amigo1/30146.jpg and for much more bird variety from the southern oceans do follow Steve Copsey's posts on the Three Amigos blog at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: The only reports this week were of single Black-throated seen in the North Sea off Whitburn (near the mouth of the Tyne) and one Great Northern also in the North Sea off Spurn Point plus one sighting from Portland on June 9. Further north a White-billed Diver in breeding plumage was a more unusual sight in the Orkneys on June 7

Great Crested Grebe: Singles seen in Langstone and Chichester Harbours this week were probably of non-breeding birds that have been there for some time but could be the first returning birds (maybe failed breeders). Another possible sign of birds moving south towards the coast came in a report of 83 seen on Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex on June 7 (though I think that at least 20 pairs breed there and if each had two juveniles with them at this time of year that means a base count of 80 birds)

Sooty Shearwater: One (maybe two) were off Portland on June 8 - the first ever June record of the species at Portland. There have also been sightings of up to 10 in the Bay of Biscay recently with a single bird seen several times off Cornwall, and another in the North Sea, during May. I see that the group name for Shearwaters is 'an Improbability' but maybe the sightings will become more probable as food becomes less readily available in the southern oceans where they breed and they start looking for other parts of the world that may be more hospitable.

Mute Swan: Late breeding pairs have produced first reports of cygnets at two local sites this week - a pair had 4 cygnets at Emsworth Marina on June 4 and the pair at Budds Farm pools had five cygnets on June 6

Greylag Goose: These are uncommon in south Hampshire but this week 6 adults were seen with 9 goslings on the River Itchen north of Southampton

Pale-bellied Brent: Simon Woolley was surprised to see one in the Hill Head harbour area close to Titchfield Haven on June 9 before it flew off to the Isle of Wight - he wonders if this is the first ever summer record of a Pale-bellied bird in Hampshire. The reports that I have seen show that the last Pale-bellied bird for Hampshire this year was at Stokes Bay on Apr 14 while the last anywhere on the south coast were in Weymouth Bay on Apr 17

Mandarin Duck: A count of 27 birds on Ardingly reservoir on June 8 was the first I have seen reported there this year. In Dorset a pair were seen with young near Wimborne Minster on June 4

Pintail: Two males were still present at Brading Marshes (IoW) on June 5 and one was at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on June 10

Goldeneye: I was surprised to see a report of ten at a Netherlands site on June 11 (in southern England the last I know of was at Radipole (Weymouth) on May 8)

Red Kite: These continue to be seen almost daily in the west country with a peak count of 10 over Hayle on the north Cornwall coast on June 5. Many of the birds seem to be moving east (as was a single Honey Buzzard seen over Devon on June 6) making me wonder if continental birds from perhaps Spain are moving north, then turning east when the reach the Scillies or Cornwall - they could of course be coming from Wales to escape the rain!

Kestrel: On June 6 I saw four well feathered juveniles huddling in a nest box near the view point for the Budds Farm pools in Havant and they were photogaphed that day by Roy Ewing from Emsworth who said there were six young in the box

Quail: In England this week up to three were observed at Sixpenny Handley in north east Dorset and one was on nearby Martin Down in Hampshire while Sussex had at least one on Lancing Downs near Worthing. I also investigated the French site where relatively large numbers are regularly reported (max 32 on May 30) and find it is a ringing station catching the birds in mist nets - it is called the Site ornithologique des Cinq Tailles and is located a little inland from the Calais area. Some of the birds are resident there but of the 32 birds recorded on May 30 only one was a 're-capture' and 31 were 'new'.

Little Stint: One was seen in summer plumage at Christchurch Harbour on June 10 - these birds breed in northern Europe and Asia and do not normally return to our shores on passage until August so maybe this one was still heading north east though it was the first I know of since May 18 (when one was at Ferrybridge at Weymouth)

Black-tailed Godwit: The flock of summering birds at Hook (Warsash) increased from 102 on June 3 to 156 on June 9

Common Sandpiper: Reports of sightings in the Scillies on June 4, at Lee on the Solent on June 5 and at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on June 10 were the first since May 11 and probably reflect the end of the breeding season for these birds

Black-headed Gull: On June 9 an observer at Cuckmere Haven in Sussex reported .. "A first-summer Black-headed Gull was making repeated shallow feeding dives into the water, although somewhat unsuccessful in its attempts to catch anything!" .. and I take this to mean that the first of this year's young has fledged and left its nest and is attempting to feed for itself.

Herring Gull: For several years I have suspected that Herring Gulls had nests on industrial buildings in Havant beside the railway going north alongside New Lane but I have never seen any firm evidence other than the presence of adult birds. This week, however, Martin Hampton has seen at least one nest when walking along Brockhampton Lane between Solent Road and West Street (behind the Retail Park across Solent Road from the Tesco store)

Little Tern: A nesting colony at the Weymouth end of the Chesil Bank is having good breeding success despite financial cutbacks which have reduced the number of paid wardens from four last year down to one this year - a number of volunteers have stepped in to provide round the clock protection against human disturbance and predation by foxes and crows (though it seems that a Hedgehog got through and took one clutch of eggs). Within a week of the first pair starting to nest there were 17 pairs there by May 23 and most pairs laid three eggs which started to hatch on June 5.

White Wagtail: Another hint of autumn passage comes from Eastbourne where a male White Wagtail was seen on June 8 - the first I know of in southern England since Mar 25

Dunnock: An albino juvenile was found in a nest at Emsworth on June 5

Nightingales: Still singing in Sussex this week

Wheatear: A few migrants are still arriving and a male bird seen at Latchmore Bottom in the north west of the New Forest on June 6 was almost certainly just passing through rather than being paired to a nesting female

Blue Rock Thrush: A bird seen closely on Dartmoor on June 2, and very probably of this species, has not been re-found

Dartford Warbler: A pair with two fledglings was seen in the New Forest on June 8 - I hope it is not the only one to breed in the Forest this year.

White-throated Robin: On Jun 6 only the third known to have visited Britain turned up in mist nets at Hartlepool on the Cleveland coast - even the ringer did not recognize it and thought it was a Blue-throat. It was still there on Jun 10 but the many twitchers who rushed there to tick it have had difficulty in getting a glimpse of it - see http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/animal-magic/2011/06/08/twitchers-flock-to-see-rare-robin-115875-23186830/ for a picture of the lucky few who brought ladders with them peering over the high brick wall of the local bowling club. Others were luckier when a local doctor let them into his garden (but he refused to open up again next day). Best view of the action was captured on video by the Peterlee Mail - well worth taking a look at this see http://www.peterleemail.co.uk/news/local/the_bird_that_had_them_all_in_a_flutter_1_3456583 In case anyone is interested in the bird rather than the antics of the birders they should go to http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=130057#status and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-throated_Robin

Golden Oriole: Only one reported this week - a female at Farley Mount near Winchester on June 7

Red-backed Shrike: A smart male was at Dungeness on June 7 (where there had been another sighting on May 9 and 10 after one at Portland on May 7 and 8) Before that one was reported in Chichester Harbour on Apr 18 (perched on a pontoon near the Chichester marina).

Jackdaw: A lonely looking fledgling was on the ground in St Faith's churchyard in Havant on June 11

Crossbill: The irruption of continental birds into Britain continues in a steady trickle - the largest count this week was of 23 flying east over Folkestone on June 4

Common Rosefinch: One was in the Scillies on June 1 and maybe the same bird was singing at The Lizard in Cornwall on June 6 and 8

Cirl Bunting: The first to be seen in the Channel Isles for 7 years was singing in Jersey on June 6

Yellowhammer: The decline in numbers of this species in southern England was brought home to me when I realised that a couple of birds that I heard calling and singing on Portsdown on June 10 were the first I had come across this year bringing my paltry year list to 125 species

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Species reported this week were Emperor, Broad-bodied Chaser, Common Darter, Beautiful Demoiselle and Azure Damsel. The only general interest is that the list includes the start of emergence of Common Darters, reported by Rye Harbour on June 7

Butterflies

Small Skippers began to make a general appearance from June 4 when they were seen in Sussex near Lewes and in Hampshire at Fleet but the highest count so far is only 4 seen near Lewes on June 7

Purple Hairstreak: One had been reported near Pulborough in Sussex on May 15 but none others were seen until June 4 when one was recorded on Browndown near Gosport in Hants

White-letter Hairstreak: The first were seen at the ex-IBM site at Portsmouth on June 3, followed by reports from Brighton on June 4 and 5

Small Blue: These have been doing exceptionally well everywhere this summer but a site in the Hollingbury area of Brighton deserves a special mention. Not long ago the developers of new warehouse buildings here called in a local ecologist (Ben Kimpton from Lewes) and asked him to make good use of the excavated chalk on site and he designed a tiered mound (to minimise slippage) facing south west. There is no mention of planting vegetation on the chalk so I presume the plants are minimal and are natural invaders from the local Downs and this, coupled with the south-west facing aspect of the mound, generates a hotter than average ground temperature which suits the Small Blues with the result that up to 1000 were seen there this week

Large Blue: The re-introduction site at Collard Hill in Somerset was visited this week by Colin Knight from Sussex who has described his visit at http://colinknight.blogspot.com/2011/06/large-blues-at-collard-hill.html

White Admiral: Seen at ten sites this week including both Havant Thicket and Stansted Forest

Comma: Fresh Small Tortoiseshells and Commas have been emerging in good numbers this week and at least two of the Commas were of the rich orange coloured Hutchinsonii form

Gatekeeper: Not yet widespread but a report of four at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on June 4 shows that they are about to emerge in force

The full list of species reported during the week is Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Wood White. Brimstone. Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Green Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Large Blue, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillay, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath.

Moths

A small selection of this week;s new moths

Six-spot Burnet: An estimated count of 300 at Magdalen Hill Down on June 4 was matched by a very large count of Narrow-bordered Five-spots at Langstone South Moors on June 10

Rannoch Looper: The massive invasion of southern counties by this moth from the Scottish Highlands continues with reports from seven sites this week. These include both Pagham Harbour and Fareham

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Also seen at seven different sites this week

Lobster Moth: First of the year was photographed by Tony Tindale on June 5 when he attended a Fareham Moth Group meeting near Wickham Common in the Meon Valley - see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/20828/Twenty-one+new+moth+species+at+Wickham+that+included+Scarce+Merveille+du+Jour.html for pictures of this and several other good moths

Scarce Merveille du Jour: Also taken by the Fareham Moth Group of June 5 but not photographed by Tony Tindale

Other Insects

Spotted Cranefly: Brian Fellows photographed this distinctively marked insect near Emsworth rail station on June 9 and his photo can be seen on his website ( or directly at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-370-spot-crane-fly-station-09.06.11.jpg ). A clearer view of the insects markings can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crane_fly (click the photo to see a larger version)

Honey Bee: Following the swarm found in a Hawthorn tree near Emsworth Marina May 30 another swarm was seen on the Sussex Downs near Eastbourne on June 3. For advice on contacting the nearest Bee Keeper prepared to come and collect the swarm (thus helping counter the dire shortage of bees to pollinate our crops and flowers) see http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php

Glow-worm: A report of one seen at Fort Purbrook on Portsdown on the early date of May 31 did not state whether what was seen was a well developed larva or a mature female beetle and a look at http://www.uksafari.com/glowworms1.htm will show you that both the larva and adult look fairly similar and both can 'glow' in the dark. This site will tell you how to distinguish between them and has photos of both (click the link to 'female' on the first page to see the details of the adult). I knew that the larvae fed on snails but I did not know that they have a brush on the tip or their tails wipe the snail slime from their mouth parts after a meal

Meadow Grasshoppers: These are not abundant and active on Brook Meadow a Emsworth

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Hairy Buttercup: I have always had difficulty in distinguishing Hairy from Bulbous Buttercup as both are hairy and have downturned sepals but I believe I can recognize a difference in the flower colour (Hairy flowers being a lighter and more glossy yellow) and I twice came on what I thought were Hairy rather than the commoner Bulbous plants this week. One was on the Langstone South Moors which is of course a nature reserve and in part an SSSI so I did not dig up plants there but when I found them again on the Broadmarsh abandoned playing fields I dug one up and found that (while the multiple stems were swollen above ground) there was nothing but normal roots below ground. I have not yet done the same for bulbous but I have seen one photo on the internet showing what looks like a small potato which would be totally hidden below ground (1 to 3cm below ground level and up to 3cm in diameter). I will no doubt change my opinion when I have investigated more plants but I am currently of the opinion that the illustration of Bulbous Buttercup by Marjorie Blamey in the Fitter and Fitter Domino Guide is actually of a Hairy Buttercup (more anon ...)

Creeping Yellow Cress: I found a couple of patches of this on the abandoned Broadmarsh playing fields this week - the first I have seen this year

Narrow-leaved Pepperwort: When at the Portsdown hilltop roundabout on June 10 I left the carpark there by walking south over the road (James Callaghan Drive) to find a new site for this plant in the tarmac along the south side of the road

Large Bittercress: On June 10 Brian Fellows refound the plant I had seen at the Langstone South Moors and took a photo of it which you can see at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-369-large-bittercress-zz-southm-10.06.11.jpg

Slender St John's Wort: First flowers seen on June 8 during an HWT walk at "Creek Woods" which I think may be a typo for Creech Woods at Denmead - anyway it should soon be widely distributed

Field Pansy: Plenty of these (the first I have seen) flowering in the Top Field on Portsdown on June 10

Musk Mallow: First flowers seen on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' on June 9

Dyer's Greenweed: Reported to be in flower at Durlston on June 10

Alsike Clover: The red-tinged white flowers of this uncommon clover were out on Portsdown on June 10 and in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery next day.

Tufted Vetch: Flowers first seen at Broadmarsh on June 9

Hairy Vetchling: Great masses of this had started flowering on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' when I was there on June 9 making it hard to believe that this is the only site in Hampshire (and I believe in all the adjacent counties) where it grows.

Ribbed Melilot: First flowers seen on the roadside at Broadmarsh on June 9

Meadow Sweet: This started to flower by the Langbrook Stream in Havant on June 6 and was out in Brook Meadow at Emsworth next day

Great Willowherb: A single flower was open on a plant by the Langbrook stream in Havant on June 9

Hoary Willowherb: An early flowering plant seen by Emsworth rail station on June 9

Square-stalked Willowherb: Flowering in Havant on June 6

Knotted Hedge Parsley: Yet another plant found in a totally new site (roadside outside 17 Juniper Square in Havant) on June 7

Fools Water Cress: Another first seen on June 8 in the Westbrook stream at Emsworth

Knotgrass: First flowers seen in Havant on June 6

Black Bindweed: First flowers seen on Portsdown on June 10

Common Sea Lavender: First flowers at Bosham in Chichester Harbour on June 4

Common Centaury: First flowers at Broadmarsh cycle way on June 9

Yellow-wort: Also flowering at Broadmarsh on June 9

Hairy Bindweed (Calystegia pulcra): Flowering by Apuldram Lane near Fishbourne church (Chichester) on June 5 - photo on Brian Fellows website

Thorn Apple: Three plants (one in flower) at Havant rail station on June 7 - see my Diary page

Lesser Snapdragon or Weasel's Snout (Misopates orontium): First flowers appeared along the roadside of the Havant New Lane allotments on June 3 and a good number of them could be seen by June 11

Red Bartsia (or Red Rattle): Flowering at Durlston on June 7 and on Portsdown on June 9

Gipsywort: Found in the Westbrook Stream at Emsworth on June 8 (presumably in flower)

Water Forget-me-not: First flower along the Langbrook Stream on June 6

Buddleia: First flowers in Havant on June 7

Common Marsh Bedstraw: A mass of this in flower at Langstone South Moors on June 6

Lady's Bedstraw: Reported flowering at Durlston on June 11

Mugwort: First flowers seen in Havant on June 9

Marsh Thistle: Seen by me at the South Moors on June 6 but I think I have failed to note an earlier sighting by Brian Fellows

Creeping Thistle: Also opening its flowers in Havant on June 6

Perennial Sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis): Also flowering in Havant on June 6

Narrow-leaved Water Plantain: 28 plants found flowering in the Westbrook Stream at Emsworth on June 8

Spiked Star-of-Bethlehem: 42 spikes flowering by Apuldram Lane near Fishbourne (Chichester) on June 5

Hairy Garlic: This has been appearing at several new sites this year, one them being Durlston where it was found on June 8

OTHER WILDLIFE

Stoat: Michael Prior (Head Forester of Stansted Park) wages war against Grey Squirrels and last weekend he reported an unexpected way in which a Stoat had recently come to his aid. Michael uses baited traps to catch Squirrels which he then kills, leaving the corpses in open ground as food for Buzzards. Last week he described a variation on this routine .. he says "I found a stoat in one of my squirrel cages that had despatched the two squirrel occupants, feasted on one and was released unharmed."

Bottle-nosed Dolphins: Up to 10 were seen off Wembury near Plymouth this week and a bigger pod of 30 were in the North Sea off Whitburn in County Durham (between South Shields and Sunderland in the Newcastle area)

Noctule Bat: One was seen by a birder visiting Martin Down on the western fringes of Hampshire south of Salisbury

Adder: These normally feel the vibrations of your approaching footfalls and slide away into cover long before you are close enough to see them but the snakes are more lethargic on cold mornings when possibly they climb onto e.g. a heather bush to get more of what sun there is and the heather insulates them from the vibrations which (not possessing ears) they would otherwise feel through the ground. This may account for Bob Eade's encounter with one at Iping Common early on June 7 which he described on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation website thus .. "Well, it took about 45 minutes to even find any Silver Studded Blues at Iping Common which was very frustrating after all the reports coming in to the web site. However, it was cool and breezy. Eventually I found a couple and on approaching a male I almost trod on a female adder that hissed loudly at me and even got into striking position!!" The careful approach intended to avoid disturbing the butterfly would also reduce the warning given to the snake.


Wildlife diary and news for May 30 - June 5 (Week 22 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

This week the advent of summer was marked at the weekend by a drop in temperature and the arrival of some rain but also by the emergence of Marbled White, White Admiral, Silver Washed and Dark Green Fritillary butterflies plus White-letter Hairstreak, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper and Ringlet

An influx of late bird migrants brought Cuckoos to many places in southern counties where hope of hearing one this year had almost been abandoned. Another unexpected report confirmed that the White-tailed Sea-Eagle which spent the winter in Hampshire has failed to leave the country and is still present in Lincolnshire.

Among Other Insect news I have included links to the Bee-keepers Association website which enables you to contact a local bee keeper who will come and collect a swarm of bees such as the one seen on Thorney Island - with Honey Bees dying at an alarming rate and the need to fertilise our crops being urgent we should not neglect such a find.

My Plant news refers to a series of good finds on Portsdown on June 2 and points readers to my diary entry for that day which has more detail and photos of the Field Cow-wheat, Small Yellow Foxgloves and the thriving colony of Ivy Broomrape.

Other Wildlife news explains how I have at least reached an understanding of the sex life of Roe Deer.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Grebes: A Slavonian was in the Exe estuary on June 1 and 2 suggesting that it may remain for the summer and a Black-necked Grebe in breeding plumage was at the RSPB Northward Hill reserve in Kent on June 2

Storm Petrels: A good number of Storm Petrels are now present in the west country with more than 40 seen during a boat trip off the Scillies on May 31 and on May 29 one was seen as far east as Selsey. On June 1 the first Wilson's Storm Petrel of the year was reported from the Scillies

Little Egret: At Langstone Pond on May 30 I could see at least 5 well grown juveniles around their nests. As I first saw nests here in mid April, and Wikipedia tells me that the incubation time is from 21 to 25 days with the young remaining at their nests for 40 to 45 days, I calculate that these young birds hatched around May 7 and will leave the pond around June 16. The footpath running past the Mill building (from which the nests are visible) may now be closed for repairs but if you are not able to see the young there you should be able to pick them out in the harbours after they have fledged by the grey-green colour of legs and bills which contrast with the black of the adults

Great White Egret: One was near Wadebridge in Cornwall on May 29 and it or another was at the Dungeness RSPB reserve from Jue 1 to 3 at least

Mute Swan: The pair which nest on Langstone Pond have in past years protected their young from the local Foxes by leading them away from the pond and onto the harbour water as soon as they have all hatched but this year they failed to do so and the 7 cygnets which hatched on or just before May 9 were down to 3 cygnets by May 30.

Gadwall: On June 3 a single duckling was with two pairs which have remained to nest at Hook (near Warsash)

Honey Buzzard: The majority of those which breed in England should be back at their nest sites by now and on June 1 Lee Evans told us they can now be seen at Wykeham Forest in north Yorkshire from a public 'raptor viewpoint'. The Forestry Commission website tells you how to get there and the Scarborough Birding website says the Buzzards were back by May 24 with three different birds seen on June 1

Red Kite: The general increase in numbers has stepped up in Cornwall this week with 25 flying over the Penzance area on June 3 and more than 40 over Porthgwarra on the morning of June 4

White-tailed Sea Eagle: According to Lee Evans the bird which arrived in the Pulborough area on 11 Dec 2010 and flew across the Hampshire birder on Dec 12 to stay in the New Milton area of Hampshire from Jan 6 to Feb 2 (and then near Basingstoke from Feb 23 to Mar 13 this year) is currently in north Lincolnshire. It was seen on the Norfolk coast on Apr 3, moving north to Lincolnshire on Apr 28 and being seen at Spurn Point on May 15 - latest sighting was of it flying over Manby Flashes in Lincolnshire on May 31

Montagu's Harrier: One was hunting the banks of the R Arun south of Arundel on May 30

Kestrel: On May 11 Alistair Martin told me that the 'owl box' mounted on a telegraph pole near the houses west of the entrance to the North Common Open Space (Northney, Hayling Island) seemed to be occupied by Kestrels feeding young and when I visited the site on May 30 a male Kestrel was perched in the entrance to the box, blocking any view of the interior.

Merlin: An unusually late bird flew over Sheppey in Kent on May 28

Hobby: 20 were still present in the Kent Stour Valley on May 29

Quail: On June 1 a Gloucestershire site had five birds. In Dorset one has been heard regularly near the village of Sixpenny Handley, not far from Martin Down in Hampshire where another was heard on June 2. On June 3 one was on Steep Down at Lancing near Worthing.

Corncrake: Two reports from different sites in Cornwall on May 31 and June 1

Avocet: By May 31 one of 21 chicks at the RSPB Elmley reserve on Sheppey was attempting to fly

Ringed Plover: Four chicks had hatched at Dungeness by May 30

Lapwing: Post breeding flocks were starting to assemble at Elmley by May 31 - no doubt they will soon be starting to appear back along the south coast

Sanderling: As the Lapwing come to the end of their breeding season a good number of Sanderling have still to set out on their journey north to their breeding sites - Christchurch Harbour had flocks of 47, 50 and then 40 on May 31, June 1 and 2 respectively and two were an unexpected inland site at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on May 30

Snipe: First report of Snipe 'drumming' comes from the Kent Stour valley on June 1 - as Snipe normally start breeding in April I'm pretty sure this was not a 'first'

Black-tailed Godwit: A flock of 102 was at Hook (Warsash) on June 3 (probably all summering birds by now?). In Devon more than 80 were at Exmouth on June 1

Turnstone: The last report of a flock was from Rye Harbour where 20 birds were present on May 2 so the presence of 2 at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 30 was a surprise. Christchurch Harbour also had one on June 4 - could these be already returning failed breeders?

Little Gull: One or two have been at Hook near Warsash since May 26

Caspian Gull: Both a male and female (both first summer birds) have been at the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton from June 1 to 4

Little Tern: Those who follow the Three Amigos adventures (Steve Copsey is now off the coast of Chile getting pictures of e.g. a Chilean Skua downing a less manoueverable Blackbrowed Albatross into the Pacific Ocean, and Mark Cutts was last heard of photographing butterflies at Taranto in Italy) will know that Tony Tindale has had to put up with the less exciting wildlife in his Fareham moth trap but did have to adventure as far as the Hayling Oysterbeds this week and got excited by seeing a group of Little Terns apparently nesting on the shingle topping of one of the 'fingers' of land separating the north pools. It did not take him long to discover these were dummies placed on the shingle nesting area that was created last year but has not yet attracted any interest from live Terns. In the end Tony was successful in seeing a single live Little Tern flying close to the Oysterbeds. I still haven't seen one anywhere but I understand that there are some 50 Little Terns attempting to breed on South Binness Island and that among the Black-headed Gulls nesting at the Oysterbeds there may be 150 Common Tern and 16 Sandwich Tern nests at the Oysterbeds (I may have misheard this info and will be waiting to see it confirmed in print!)

Cuckoo: A large number of Cuckoos seem to have reached southern England in the past couple of weeks. This week at least one was singing continuously in the Langstone village area and Brook Meadow in Emsworth had its first ever recorded sighting of one in the reserve area. Elsewhere three were present on the Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne and another three were heard on Ibsley Common near the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood and on June 2 one was heard on Sinah Common (south of Hayling Island) where they are usually uncommon.

Long-eared Owl: These replace Tawny Owls on the Isle of Wight so the 'rusty bicycle' calls of families of young in both Parkhurst Forest and Walter's Copse at Newtown Harbour were not unexpected this week. A few do nest in southern mainland counties so the distinctive hooting of an adult in wood near Arundel on June 3 was good news (they are also hopefully nesting on the Downs above Brighton where they were discovered in recent years)

Swift: Still no sign of them in my home area of Havant (this is the first year since I arrived here in 1967 that they have not nested locally) but Brian Fellows did see a group of five flying around houses in Emsworth on June 2 (a group of 4 were seen here on May 12)

Kingfisher: A very unexpected glimpse of one at Langstone Mill Pond on May 30 may have been a juvenile which had fledged early and been driven out of its home territory by parents anxious to get on with a second brood or may have been an adult which has failed to find a nest site or sufficient food to raise its first brood.

Hoopoe: Almost daily reports of these birds (mainly in Cornwall and the Scillies) from Mar 6 onwards dried up on May 16 but this week has brought a new report of one at Acres Down near Lyndhurst in the New Forest on June 2

Wheatear: One seen at Ocknell Plain in the New Forest on May 29 roused hopes that they were breeding again - none are known to have even attempted to breed in Hampshire since 2005 (two juveniles seen in 2007 were thought to have been hatched outside the county and were just passing through)

Marsh Warbler: One was at Dungeness on June 1 and a Great Reed Warbler was in Somerset on May 30

Spotted Flycatcher: A migrant paused briefly at Sinah Warren (south Hayling) on May 29

Golden Oriole: Reports of singing birds this week came from Dungeness, the Downs near Eastbourne (and maybe the same bird on nearby Lullington Heath next day) with late news of one in a Birdham garden near Chichester on May 3. Since the first report from Devon on Apr 12 I have collected 47 reports (possibly covering 67 individuals) with the last (so far) in Cornwall on June 3.

Magpie: An unusual 'colour defect' caused the black areas of a Magpie's plumage seen at Wickham in Kent to be the pale brown that a Jay normally shows

Escapees: 5 Helmeted Guineafowl were an unexpected sight in Eyeworth Wood (near Fritham in the New Forest) on June 1. If you are unfamiliar with the species have a look at http://www.arkive.org/helmeted-guineafowl/numida-meleagris/

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

With many very early appearances of insect species this summer I have checked the British Dragonfly Society News Reports to try to establish the first dates for Dragonfly species, coming up with the following tentative list:

Southern Hawker May 24 at Lower Test near Southampton

Brown Hawker May 19 Berkshire (very early)

Emperor Apr 28 (I think this may be a mistaken id for a Hairy Dragonfly as general emergence is only now getting under way with reported firsts from Dorset and Devon sites on June 3 and a probable first sighting at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on June 2)

Lesser Emperor First and so far only report from Lands End on June 3

Norfolk Hawker May 19 in Suffolk

Green Ringed Dragonfly May 24 in New Forest

Club Tailed Dragonfly May 8 in Oxfordshire

Downy Emerald Apr 26 Mill Hill at Shoreham

Brilliant Emerald May 10 Berkshire

Black Tailed Skimmer May 8 Norfolk

Keeled Skimmer May 15 Cornwall

Broad-bodied Chaser Apr 16 Devon

Scarce Chaser Apr 29 Testwood Lakes nr Southampton

Ruddy Darter May 19 Surrey

White-faced Darter Apr 29 Shropshire

Scarce Emerald Damsel May 30 Essex

Willow Emerald May 30 Reculver in Kent

White Legged Damsel May 1 Gloucestershire

Small Red Damsel May 25 Lymington area

Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel May 19 Devon

Variable Damsel Apr 23 Rye Harbour

Southern Damsel May 31 New Forest

Butterflies

First appearances this week have been:-

White Admiral seen at Markstakes Common near South Chailey (Haywards Heath area) in Sussex on June 2 and in Friston Forest near Eastbourne plus Pamber Forest (north Hampshire) both on June 3 then in both north and south Hampshire on June 4 with another on the Wiltshire border that day

Silver-Washed Fritillary - first seen on June 3 at Broxhead Common in north Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight with more sightings at Pamber Forest in north Hampshire and Botley Wood in south Hampshire both on June 4

Dark Green Fritillary - seen at Lullington Heath near Eastbourne on June 1 and at two other nearby sites plus Beeding Hill in West Sussex on June 3 and Whitely near Fareham in Hants on June 4

Marbled White - seen on Downs above Brighton on May 31 and on Portsdown on both June 3 and 4

Gatekeeper - Reported at Sheffield Park near Crowborough on June 2 and backed up with a report of 4 at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) on June 4

White-letter Hairstreak out at the Portsmouth ex-IBM site on June 3 and in a Brighton cemetery on June 4

Small Skipper - after several mistaken id reports of Large Skipper Gary Palmer has at last seen a genuine Small Skipper near Lymington on June 3

Ringlet - one seen at Hazeley Heath in north Hampshire on May 29 (but no other reports during the week)

Noteworthy sightings:-

Painted Lady - start of a major invasion on June 1 when many were seen on the beach and cliff top at the South Foreland in Sussex. Six other coastal reports between May 30 and June 3

Small Tortoiseshell - Four reports of newly emerged butterflies including a report of 11 seen near Henfield on June 3

Glanville Fritillary - said to be widely spread across the Isle of Wight this year with one found by the Medina River south of Cowes

Wall Brown - first brood nearly over - only one to be found on June 1

Butterfly species seen this week have been:-

Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Wood White, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Heath Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, White-letter Hairstreak, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet (Total 37 species)

Moths

Goat Moth: On May 31 Rye Harbour had its first adult moth of this species for ten years

Rannoch Looper: Unlike many species that are moving north in response to global warming this moth has recently invaded southern England from central Scotland. This moth was unknown in Sussex until 2009 but a trap in Rewell Wood near Arundel on June 3 found it the most numerous species caught. One was also taken at Portland on the night of June 3, becoming the second ever to be recorded there, and its photo (together with that of the first Red-necked Footman) can be seen on the Portland website above the June 4 entry

Scarlet Tiger Moth: A late report of one at Eastbourne on May 14

Dewick's Plusia: It is some time since George Spraggs put out his moth trap in the West Town area of Hayling Island but when he did on June 3 he was rewarded not only with this rare vagrant but at a date outside its previous expected dates (never before recorded other than between July and October)

Other Insects

Helophilus pendulus Hoverfly: I feel fairly confident about the id of this Hoverfly (which was in my Havant garden on June 1) on account of the pattern of longitudinal black and yellow stripes on its thorax and the latitudinal markings on its abdomen but it could have been the slightly larger and more boldly marked H. trivittatus

Yellow Meadow Ant: Durlston reported these on June 1 'farming black aphids from which they get honeydew to drink'

Honey Bee swarm: The May 31 diary entry on Brian Fellows Emsworth website ( http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm ) has a photo taken by Richard Somerscocks of a swarm of Honey Bees hanging in a Hawthorn tree near the deck houses beside the coastal path south of Emsworth Marina. Richard says the swarm was there for several days and if it is still there he should visit http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/find_a_swarm_coordinator.php and enter the post code of the location of the swarm to find contact details for the nearest Beekeepers Association Swarm Collector who will collect the swarm and transfer it to a hive where it will help to counteract the dramatic loss of bees which we have witnessed in recent years - a much more practical way of 'saving the planet' than most such ideas! Before contacting a Bee-keeper make sure that the insects concerned are Honey Bees (they have a help page at http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php ) and be aware that the bee keeper may ask for money to cover travel expenses (though I would think that the value of the swarm to them should cover this in most cases).

Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum): This species was new to Britain in 2001 but is now widespread (see photos and map at http://www.bwars.com/bombus_hypnorum_map.htm ) The combination of ginger hairs on its thorax, a black abdomen with a pure white tail end is unique and there should be no difficulty in identifying one if you get a good look as I did on the evening of June 4 when pulling Bindweed out of my garden hedge and finding one within a few inches of my hand (investigating Snowberry flowers and in no hurry to move on). I had just read up on the description after seeing reports of it on the Devon Birding blog.

Stag Beetle: I had close views of a male on my neighbour's house wall on May 21 but have seen no other reports until May 31 when one was seen at Henfield in Sussex

Nursery Tent spider (Pisaura mirabilis): Brian Fellows is the first to report seeing the silk tents in which these spiders hang their eggsacs when near hatching (previously they carry the sacs around under their bodies) - he saw them in Emsworth on May 30

Sailor Beetle: I was puzzled by the use of this name on the Durlston website but it turns out to be a common 'English name' for the black bodied version (Cantharis rustica) of the 'red bodied' Soldier Beetle (Cantharis livida)

Rose Chafer: Graeme Lyons has had a holiday in the New Forest and come on these beetles there on June 2. As usual his blog has much more interest than that (including observations from the Isle of Wight) - get his news from http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Lesser Meadow Rue: Flowering on Portsdown on June 2 by the entrance gate from Skew Road to Portchester Common on Portsdown - established here for many years

Opium Poppies: Started to flower in the Havant area on June 3

Pale Flax: This has been flowering since May 2 but on May 30 I found a new site for it on the seaward site of the Hayling Coastal path just south of Stoke Bay (the car park area for the Hayling Oysterbeds)

Long-stalked Cranesbill: Brian Fellows has been told by Peter Milinets-Raby of a 'new to me' site for this plant at around SU 785076 in the south east of the Marlpit Lane 'waste land'. Previously the only local site I knew of for this plant was at SU 753154 in field edges on Old Idsworth Farm south of Huckswood Lane - this site straddles the Hampshire Sussex border but is on private land.

Bloody Cranesbill: On May 30 Brian Fellows made a surprising discovery of one plant in flower hiding beneath a Spear Thistle plant alongside Southleigh Road connecting Havant to north Emsworth - the site is at SU 740073 approx and the plant is obviously a 'garden escape' but in an odd place

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea: This imposing wild Sweet Pea was flowering on Portsdown on June 2

Biting Stonecrop: This bright yellow plant of walls and rocky places only gets a mention here because I was puzzled by the name of 'Wall Pepper' used for it on the Durlston website

American Willowherb: This is the second Willowherb I have seen this year, found on May 31 and separated from Broadleaved Willowherb by having club shaped stigmas where Broad Leaved stigmas are cross shaped.

Enchanter's Nightshade: This is the third Willowherb of the year and first flowers were found by Brian Fellows in Stansted Forest on June 1

Upright Hedge Parsley (Torilis japonica): A surprisingly early find of a single plant starting to flower in Hayling Island on May 30

Argentine Vervain (Verbena bonariensis): First flowers on this common garden escape seen by the Billy Trail in Havant on May 30

Small Yellow (or Straw) Foxglove (Digitalis lutea): Starting to flower at its Portsdown site on June 2 (see diary for that day for details and photos)

Common Toadflax: First flowers seen on Hayling on May 30

Weasel's Snout or Lesser Snapdragon (Misopates orontium): Two plants had started to flower as 'weeds' in the Havant New Lane allotments on June 3

Field Cow-wheat (Melampyrum arvense): First flowers seen at the Portsdown Skew Road site on June 2 (see diary entry for that day for more details and photos)

Self Heal: First flowers seen on June 2

Viper's Bugloss: First flowers seen on Hayling on May 30

Ivy broomrape (Orobanche hederae): Flowering on Portsdown at a long established site among new housing on June 2 (see my diary entry for more details and photos - the plants are flourishing here and one resident seems to have set aside a whole flower bed for part of the colony.

Small Scabious: First flowers seen on Portsdown on June 2

Sticky groundsel (Senecio viscosus): What I am pretty sure were the first flowers of this species were on show at the Havant New Lane level crossing on June 3 (but I have not been back to check them out)

Spear Thistle: First flowers seen by Brian Fellows at the Langstone South Moors on May 31

Milk Thistle: Around 50 plants were in full flower at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 30

Bristly Ox-tongue: First flowers seen on Hayling on May 30

Stinking Iris: One plant flowering in the wild on Hayling on May 30

Pyramidal Orchid: First flowers out on Portsdown on June 2

Bog Orchid: Found by Graeme Lyons at an un-named site on the Isle of Wight on June 1 - see photo on his website at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ which also now has photos of Bithynian Vetch which he found at Brighton on June 4

OTHER WILDLIFE

Roe Deer: Earlier this year in March marks on bushes at Brook Meadow at Emsworth seemed to indicate that Roe Deer were present and that a buck had been 'thrashing' the bushes to clear 'velvet' from his growing antlers and now, on May 30, there is further proof the Roe frequent Brook Meadow at night in the shape of a very young kid discovered in the long grass by dog walkers (more probably by their dogs!) around 6am. Another report of Roe this week came from Durlston where a buck was seen with his antlers 'ready for action' and in the course of checking on the internet I was able to clarify my own understanding of their breeding cycle. I have long thought that their 'rut' (i.e. mating) occurred at this time of year but what I have now learnt is that the activity at this time of year (including the creation of the circular or figure of eight 'race tracks' around prominent trees) is a 'male only' affair in which the bucks are establishing their territories. The mating does not occur until later (end of July into August) but ( to make it more complicated) the fertilised eggs remain floating about in the doe's uterus for five months until the end of December when (to quote from the full account given in http://www.roedeer.com/roereproduction.htm ) .. "At the end of December or early January, when the embryo is little more than 0.3mm long, it is genetically programmed to reactivate from the period of delayed implantation. The embryo sends a message to the mother in the form of a protein unique to the roe deer. When the mother receives this message she starts a ‘cascade’ effect of hormones (mostly oestrogens), which enables the embryo to rapidly expand. After a short period of very fast growth, the embryo attaches to the inner wall of the uterus, forming a link with the mother through the placenta, and normal fetal growth follows for a further five months." This source explains the reasons for this strategy.

Brown Long-eared Bat: On May 29 a cat owner in East Sussex was presented with a bat of this species - I rather suspect the bat did not survive but the report does not make that clear. Another item of Bat news comes from Peter Milinets-Raby via Brian Fellows website (diary entry for June 1) on which there is a photo of a hairless baby Pipistelle bat which Peter took on May 30 at Bodium Castle (I think this is a spelling error for Bodiam Castle, a National Trust property close to the A21 at Robertsbridge, north of Hastings). I think this is a few weeks early for the normal birth time and I assume the photo was taken during night-time when the mother would be out feeding (leaving her young unattended, possibly in a creche). The photo shows numerous 'ticks' on the bat and I suspect this is not unusual.

Basking Shark: One was seen off Chesil Cove at Portland on May 28 - this seems to be as far east as these creatures go in the English Channel. Little seems to be known about where they spend our winter months but when the plankton blooms and attracts them to our waters the sightings cluster around the south coast of Cornwall and Devon in the south and the whole west coast of Scotland with some seen at the north end of the east coast


Wildlife diary and news for May 23 - 29 (Week 21 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: This week there have been no reports of Black-throated and only one of Red-throated Divers along the south coast. Great Northern seemed to dry up after May 23 when 5 were seen from Christchurch Harbour but at the end of the week there were still two in the Exmouth area of Devon

Black-browed Albatross: 44 years ago (in 1967) an Albatross from the Falkland Islands lost his bearings and found itself in Shetland. Since then he has returned each spring to the Scottish Islands in the hope of finding a mate but the Gannets which he has approached have all turned him down. As these birds can live for more than 70 years he is likely to keep trying for many more years and he is back again this year, reported off Ayrshire on May 21.

Sooty Shearwater: After 8 winter sightings in Jan and Feb there were no more until May 7 when one was off Cornwall with another report from Devon on May 11. This week there has been another report from Lands End on May 26

Manx Shearwater: These return to our coasts to nest in April and by now they are to be seen off the west country on their daily fishing trips. Most of the sightings are on the north coast of Cornwall (e.g. 7500 of them off Pendeen on May 26) but quite a few are to be seen in the English Channel (e.g. 150 off Portland on May 22) and on May 26 Sandy Point on Hayling has a sighting of six birds

Storm Petrel: These also are back with us to nest and 85 were off Start Point in Devon on May 23 but the report which caught my eye came from Portland on May 25 when 6 birds were lured in by tape recordings to be caught, ringed and released

Bittern: One was heard booming in the Kent Stour valley on May 21

Little Bittern: First report for the year came from St Martin's in the Scillies on May 18. According to the BTO around four of these birds visit Britain each year and breeding was confirmed in 1984 when a pair raised three young in Yorkshire

Red-breasted Goose: On May 21 one flew low and close to the observer on the shore at Goring (Worthing), near enough to see it was not ringed, possibly indicating that some escapees from captivity have now started feral breeding in this country (young 'born free' would not be ringed)

Shelduck: More ducklings appeared this week at Testwood Lakes near Southampton and at Christchurch Harbour (brood of 11 on May 25)

Mallard: One was seen on the Itchen near Winchester on May 22 with 19 ducklings. The brood of a single female does not normally exceed 10 so I suspect this was a merging of two broods.

Hen Harrier: One was seen in the Findon Valley area at Worthing on May 23 making me wonder if this could in fact have been a Montagu's Harrier but a look at Birds of Hampshire shows that even in the early 1990s the 'winter and passage' period when the species could be expected in the county had extended into June

Red-footed Falcon: Since May 17 there have been sightings in Cornwall, Somerset and Kent

Hobby: These have by now mostly dispersed to their breeding sites but as many as 19 could still be seen in the Kent Stour Valley on May 24

Quail: This could well turn out to be a good 'Quail year' with a dozen reports this week, half of them from different sites in southern England and the rest from the continent where e.g. May 26 saw 12 at one Fench site, 13 at a Netherlands site and 43 at a different Netherlands site. On May 22 a French site had 28 birds.

Stone Curlew: A late migrant was at Sandwich Bay on May 26

Kentish Plover: The third for this spring was at Pegwell Bay on May 21 while others have been seen in Somerset and Lancashire (plus Belgium and the Netherlands, but none yet on the Pilsey Sands of Thorney Island!)

Least Sandpiper: The first to be seen in Britain this year was in Yorkshire on May 26

Pectoral Sandpiper: The second for the year was at Wadebridge in Cornwall on May 26 and 27 (first was on the Lymington shore on May 7

Curlew Sandpiper: Singles were at Christchurch Harbour and the Bembridge Marshes (IoW) on May 21 (possibley the same bird?)

Purple Sandpiper: More than 20 were still on the Cornish coast in the Penzance area on May 24

Broad-billed Sandpiper: One was in Norfolk on May 27 after the first of the year in Nottinghamshire on May 13

Black-tailed Godwit: A report from the Elmley Marshes on Sheppey on May 22 is of "hundreds of Icelandic Birds heading north". The first report fo birds heading for Iceland came from Christchurch Harbour on May 10. I wonder how the eruptions and dust clouds will affect their breeding this year?

Red-necked Phalarope: I do not normally hear of these birds in England (presumably females returning south after completing their egg-laying duties) until mid-June but this year the first was seen on May 6 and this week a second was seen on May 20 while May 24 brought news of three birds in England and another two in the Scottish Islands (these may be nesting there) - have these been forced to retreat from Iceland without breeding?

Long-tailed Skua: On May 24 observers on North Uist reported 304 birds heading north to breed - I see these birds are dependent on Lemmings to fuel them and thus their breeding success varies with the numbers of these animals each year so maybe they influence the breeding success of the Brent (if the Skuas eat too many Lemmings the Arctic Foxes are forced to eat Brent goslings?)

Little Tern: On May 21 Rye Harbour reported that Little Terns were only then pairing up (but another report on May 27 was of just 15 Little Terns at that site). No further news from Langstone Harbour.

Guillemot: Durlston reported the first chicks hatching on May 25

Cuckoo: A strange second hand story from Groombridge (near Crowborough in north Sussex) says that on April 22 a bird which looked like a Cuckoo was seen to fly up out of a chicken pen and what was thought to be its egg was subsequently found in one of the chicken nests. The only theory which seems to make sense of this is that the wild bird nest in which the Cuckoo had intended to lay had been destroyed just when the egg had already formed within the Cuckoo, which could not stop the egglaying process and laid its egg in the first available nest. Without further information I can't make sense of this story - most chicken nests are within a wooden coop where they would be hidden from the Cuckoo and in any case I would have thought the Cuckoo would be more likely to abort its egg on the ground than to enter the Chicken coop (though some Chickens do create their own outdoor nests)

Nightjar: There were probably five present in three different clearings of Havant Thicket on May 18 (assumed date) and two were in the West Walk woods near Wickham in the Meon Valley on May 26. On May 18 what was presumably an exhausted migrant was seen on a garden fence in Selsey village and it was still around that area on May 22.

Rock Pipit: These have gradually been extending their breeding range eastward along the Hampshire coast in recent years and on May 27 there were signs that a pair were breeding in West Sussex for the first time at Shoreham

Bluethroat: One was singing at Seasalter on the north Kent coast on May 17 and maybe the same bird was heard and photographed at Oare Marshes near Faversham on May 21

Chiffchaff: On May 25 yet another report of one of these warblers singing both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler songs came from Sandwich Bay in Kent

Spotted Flycatcher: One was seen at Sinah Warren (south Hayling Island) on May 29

Golden Oriole: Reports this week of birds in the Scillies, Cornwall, Dorset and Kent with others in Belgium and the Netherlands. The Dorset report is of a bird trapped and ringed at Portland on May 25

Woodchat Shrike: There have been at least 25 reports of this species on Scilly Islands since Apr 4 but on May 19 one bird that has been on St Martin's since May 10 was pronounced to be of the Balearic Race (Lanius senator badius) which was added to the British List in 2004 after one was seen at Portland. The Briish Ornithologists Union announcement of this included:- "This is the first, and to date, only British record of this subspecies of Woodchat Shrike which is known to breed only on Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. It is distinguishable mainly by the absence of (or greatly reduced) white primary patch, and this feature was accurately detailed in the written descriptions submitted to support the record. Other features are the slightly less black on the forehead and a slightly heavier bill, but these two features are difficult to determine in the field and are best considered as 'in the hand' features."

Magpie: Two reasons for this species to be in the news this week. The first is that the parents of a family regularly seen in my garden have changed their behaviour and turned into avian equivalents of Apache ground attack helicopters as they seek to capture nestlings and fledglings of other bird species in order to feed their own fast growing young. This aggressive behaviour was also exhibited this week by a Carrion Crow, described on Hoslist by Richard Creer (who I think lives not far from Havant) who said:- "Yesterday (May 23) my partner was mobbed by a crow and received a peck on the head, hard enough to draw blood. It then followed her for some distance as she beat a retreat. Presumably there were nestlings nearby but is this unusual?"

The second story comes from Simon Ingram in Eastleigh. When he came home on May 23 he found a sickly Magpie in his garden and at daybreak on May 24 he was woken by the noise of at least 100 Corvids (mainly Jackdaws) perched everywhere in and around his garden, all focussing their interest on something he could not see at the end of his garden. Eventually he saw the cause of the mass gathering was the sick Magpie which was struggling to hop over a fence around a compost heap. After a short while (long enough to brew and drink a cup of tea) the mass of corvids fell silent and dispersed and when Simon went into the garden he found the Magpie was dead. So far as I know they had not attacked the Magpie but had somehow been summoned to assemble in order to witness its death throes - as soon as it died they lost interest. Maybe this was a version of a Rooks Parliament (something I have only seen once near Portchester Castle) when many Rooks formed a noisy circle on the ground with one bird in its centre seemingly being tried for some misdemeanour under Rook Law.

Common Rosefinch: The first that I have heard of this year was at Portland on May 25

Corn Bunting: At least one was singing (and presumably breeding) in Hampshire this week - seen at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on May 21

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Golden Ringed Dragonfly: First sighting was near Brockenhurst in the New Forest on May 21

Southern Hawker: First seen at the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton on May 24

Brown Hawker: First in Berkshire on May 19

Norfolk Hawker: First in Suffolk on May 20

Keeled Skimmer: Seen at Cadnam in the New Forest on May 19 after the first report from Cornwall on May 15

Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel: First sightings in Devon and Glamorgan both on May 19

Ruddy Darter: First seen in Surrey on May 19

Butterflies

Species seen this week have been Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Large, Small and Green-veined White, Orange Tip (now becoming scarce but 5 caterpillars were seen near Portchester Castle), Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue (Durlston reports their highest ever numbers of 1000 or more and at Brighton they are doing so well that there is no room for more at the Dorothy Stringer School 'Butterfly Haven' site causing them to overflow into a tiny front garden lawn which happens to have downland turf), Silver Studded Blue ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver-studded_Blue tells us that the caterpillars are protected by Black Ants which enjoy the 'honeydew' exuding from the caterpillars and this relationship with ants continues after the emergence of the adults - witnessed at Iping Common near Midhurst on May 26), Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Red Admiral, Painted Lady (four reports of probable migrants this week), Small Tortoiseshell (I was reluctant to report a couple of fresh specimens seen on Portsdown on May 19 as early summer brood insects but this week the emergence has been reported from Gosport on May 24), Peacock, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered and Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary (seen not only on the Isle of Wight but also at Farnborough where 2 have been present for six days - probably an attempted introduction), Heath Fritillary (large numbers in the Blean Woods at Canterbury on May 24 - they emerged there on May 18), Speckled Wood, Grayling (one seen on the Lymington shore on May 21- previous earliest for Hampshire was 3 June in 1992), Meadow Brown (seen in Dorset, Hants and Sussex this week after the first emerged near Battle in East Sussex on May 19) and Small Heath.

Moths

Selective list of newly emerged species

Six-spot Burnet: First reported in West Sussex on May 24

Privet Hawkmoth and Eyed Hawkmoth: First reports on May 26 and May 24 respectively. These join the Poplar (first seen May 5), Narrow-bordered Bee (May 4), Broad-bordered Bee (May 3), Humming-bird (Feb 24), Elephant (May 13), and Small Elephant (May 8) Hawkmoths which have been out since the dates shown

Cinnabar Moth: Only now becoming common this species has been seen since Apr 22 (many were reported on Oxenbourne Down back on May 8)

Mullein Moth caterpillars: These gaudy creatures are reported to have been seen on Oxenbourne Down as early as May 8 and have since been found in Langstone (Havant) and Shoreham (both on May 22)

The Concolorous (Chortodes extrema): This species was new to me when I saw a report of it from Thanet in Kent on May 26. UK Moths tells me it is a .. "A very local species occurring mainly in the Huntingdonshire fens. There have been a few records in the south, which are attributed to migrants, and its larvae feed internally on the stems of Small Reed species"

Other Insects

For those interested in extending their knowledge of Bumblebees, Spiders, Flies, Insects and the like I strongly recommend that they follow the regular contributions by Chris Bentley and Brian Banks to the Rye Bay website at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/ and Graeme Lyons blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ as I am not qualified to comment on their curious finds (which I nevertheless find facinating)

Green-legged Sawfly: A photo of a long-bodied, winged insect was published on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation website entry for May 23 inviting anyone to identify it and what sounds likely to be the correct name of Green-legged Sawfly (Tenthredo mesomelas) was contributed by Mark Colvin. See http://www.naturespot.org.uk/species/tenthredo-mesomela for photos, distibution map and a full description of this insect and its lifestyle (although based in Leicestershire this website seems to be an excellent source of information on almost all branches of wildlife and I thorough recommend adding it to your Favourites - the homepage is at http://www.naturespot.org.uk/home )

Hornet: A close-up photo of a 'Hornet devouring a Drone Fly' which appeared on the Kent Stour Valley birding site ( http://www.kentos.org.uk/Stodmarsh/Maysightings2011.htm ) in the entry for May 24 may convey a wrong impression of the diet of adult Hornets - in fact the adults are gentle creatures which love a good meal of pollen but their larvae insist on being fed insect meat and the Hornet which has just chewed up a hoverfly will carry it back to its nest and disgorge the pre-digested meal for its larvae to consume

Uncommon Bumblebees: Two or three of the Large Garden Bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) were seen in the Pett Level area (Rye Bay) on May 27 and on May 28 one of the Tree Bumblebees (B. hypnorum) which are now spreading through England became the 9th to be seen in Devon (only two known to have reached Cornwall so far). Other Bumblebee species are suffering from the drought in south east England which is withering the wild flowers on whose pollen the Bees depend.

'Thigh Beetle' (Oedemera nobilis): A report for May 17 on the north Kent Seasalter website made me aware for the first time that these easily identifiied beetles are all males - the females do not have the swollen legs. This fact can be checked out on the Naturespot website recommended above where you can see a photo of the thin, graceful legs of the female (and become aware that there are other somewhat similar 'swollen leg' beetle species in the group called 'False Blister' Beetles

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Black Mustard: The first mention of this in flower comes from Durlston on May 24

Perennial Wall-Rocket: This had begun to flower again on May 23 at its site south of the disused railway signal box by the New Lane level crossing in Havant but it was difficult to detect the new growth and flowers among the mass of dead stems from last year.

Perforate St John's Wort: First flowers seen beside the railway track east of Havant Station (and just west of the disused Signal Box)

Tree Mallow: First report of this in flower came from the Slipper Millpond site at Emsworth on May 25

Bastard Toadflax: First report (with a close photo of the flowers) appeared on May 26 (see Graeme Lyons website at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ which also has photos of several New Forest specialities such as Lesser Bladderwort, Hampshire Purslane and Lesser Marshwort taken today (May 29) and so not yet incorporated in my database from which I extract my new flowering plant info) On May 28 Durlston also reported Bastard Toadflax with the 'new to me' information that the plant is host to a rare rust fungus call Puccinia thesii

Hedgerow Cranesbill: A patch of white flowered plants which has been flowering in a tuny strip of earth around a lamp-post in the Havant Bus Station annually since at least 2007 has in the past been wrongly identified by me as a garden escape of Pencilled Cranesbill but a closer look at it on May 27 showed that it is a white flowered form of Hedgerow Cranesbill

Dyer's Greenweed: Reported to be in flower at Durlston on May 24

Rest Harrow: The first flowers that I know of where seen by me in an unlikely situation beside the Petersfield Road running through Leigh Park (Havant) on May 23

Sea Clover: This had started to flower at a regular site on the Warblington Farm fields on May 24

Clustered Clover: Brian Fellows found this had started to flower again on May 20 in its only known SU 70 site by the A27 underpass at Warblington. A good photo of the tiny flowers is on his website at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm

Grass Vetchling: This was flowering abundantly at several places in the Broadmarsh area at Havant on May 25

Hop Trefoil: First flowers were seen on May 22 on the North Thorney seawall

Parsley Piert: Flowering in St Faith's Church yard (Havant) on May 24

Agrimony: First flowers reported at Durlston on May 24

Caper Spurge: A mass of flowering plants seen on the Portsmouth Water Company's private waste tip at Bedhampton on May 23

Fool's Parsley: One plant flowering in Havant Park flowerbeds on May 28

Knotted Hedge Parsley: This species is flourishing this year with finds during this week of multiple plants appearing at three sites in the Havant area where they have not been seen before

Brookweed: This had clearly been flowering for some time before I came across it for the first time this year in the marshy SSSI at Warblington Farm on May 24

Dotted Loosestrife: The first garden plants were flowering in Havant on May 24, probably indicating that the wild Yellow Loosestrife is also probably flowering on the Gipsies Plain near Rowlands Castle (by the north east exit from Hammond's Land Coppice)

Sea Milkwort: Also seen in the Warlington SSSI on May 24 was a great mass of these flowers

Tufted Forget-me-not: Also well in flower at the Warblington SSSI on May 24 (and no doubt also on the Langstone South Moors by the central stream)

Carrot Broomrape: Reported flowering at Durlston on May 28

Corn Chamomile: On close inspection involving dissection of the flowerhead to see the shape of the scales among the disk florets I am pretty well certain that the semi-aromatic plants I found on the old Broadmarsh playing fields on May 12 and re-visited this week on May 25 are not the alien Chamaemelum mixtum that I suggested in my diary entry for May 25 but are in fact examples of the sadly declining British native Corn Chamomile which I have never seen before ( a different species from the continental Anthemis austriaca which is sold and widely planted under the name of name of Corn Chamomile, making money for the wildflower seed companies and supplying a feel-good factor to those who unknowingly plant it as a 'native British' species)

Dwarf Thistle: The first of these 'picnic thistles' was flowering at Durlston on May 26

Musk Thistle: Also first flowers at Durlston on May 28

Wall Lettuce: I came on the first flowers on May 23 and it is now widely flowering in the Havant area

Hawkweed Oxtongue: First flowers in Havant on May 23

Wild Onion (aka Crow Garlic): First find in Emsworth by Brian Fellows on May 27

New Zealand Cabbage Palm (Cordyline australis): Although a garden plant I first noted the white flowers on these trees in Havant gardens on May 23

Bird's Nest Orchid: Flowering at Ebernoe near Midhurst on May 27

Fragrant Orchid: Just starting to flower at Noar Hill near Petersfield on May 22

OTHER WILDLIFE

Slow Worm: A reptile survey of the very dry ground at the Marlpit Lane site between Funtington and Woodmancote over the past couple of months was described in Brian Fellows website entry for May 22 - he wrote:- "Peter Milinets-Raby has just completed a six visit survey of the site for reptiles using Roofing Felt Mats. A total of 80 mats were put down in various locations around the site. Two visits produced counts of over 50 Slow Worms. Only a maximum of 4 Common Lizards were noted and a maximum of two Grass Snakes were seen. Peter believes the male "eating" the female in the photo is mating behaviour."

Medicinal Leech: The entry for May 24 on the Kent Stour Valley birding website includes the sentence:- "The deep pool along the Nature Trail between the Lampen Wall and the Alder Wood had a small jack Pike and at least one Medicinal Leech in it." I am intrigued as to how the birder discovered the presence of the Leech as I understand that the only practical way to prove their presence is to wade into the water and wait for the Leeches to attach themselves to you in the hope of drawing your blood (this does not involve too much loss of blood if you are wearing wellies!)


Wildlife diary and news for May 16 - 22 (Week 20 of 2011)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Little Bittern: First report of this species for the year came from the Scillies on May 18

Heron: Three reports on May 15 started with news from Weir Wood near Crowborough that the first youngsters had left their nests and were catching fish for themselves. The second report came from the Hartley Witney area of north Hampshire and concerned a young Heron taking bread from the hands of children - I found this worrying and fear that the children involved are in serious danger of losing their eyes to the Heron's bill, and this worry is re-inforced by the third report of a Heron at Cuckmere Haven in Sussex stabbing and then carrying off a baby Rabbit

Black Stork: On May 20 one was seen in Worth Forest near Crawley

Peregrine: John Goodspeed reports at least one chick in the regular nest on the cliffs of the Paulsgrove Chalkpit (Portsdown) on May 18

Sparrowhawk: One seen carrying food towards its nest site at Christchurch Harbour on May 21 probably implies that other nest sites will soon be revealed by the loud and persistent cries for more food made by the youngsters.

Shelduck: At least three reports of young Shelduck this week. On May 15 a pair was seen with 9 tiny ducklings on the sea off Lundy and on May 20 a pair had 11 duckings at Christchurch Harbour

Buff Breasted Sandpiper: First report of the year is of one in Cheshire on May 16

Woodcock: Roding reported this week from Havant Thicket, Parkhurst Forest on the IoW, and Morgaston Wood near Basingstoke

Med Gull: The appearance of four adults at Christchurch Harbour on May 20 was thought to be possibly the result of recent high tides in Langstone Harbour which had washed away several nests

Gull-billed Tern: One was an unexpected sighting at Christchurch Harbour on May 17 (possibly the same bird that was at Pulborough Brooks on May 8)

Little Owl: These are usually difficult to see during their breeding season but once their young have fledged they become very visible (often perching openly on telegraph poles well before dusk). That does not usually happen until well into June but maybe we will see them out earlier this year as one was reported on May 20 perched on power lines by the B2188 road at Groombridge on the Kent/Sussex border near Tunbridge Wells

Nightjar: Four were churring in Parkhurst Forest (IoW) on May 16, three were heard in Broadwater Forest near Crowborough on May 17 and at least one was heard in Havant Thicket on May 19

Swift: These were back at nest sites in Emsworth last week (May 12/13) but by May 22 none had been seen in the area of Havant where I live - sadly it seems that the birds which have been nesting here for more than the 40 years I have lived here have abandoned the town

House Martin: At least two pairs are apparently nesting close to my home despite the dry ground and absence of mud for nest building - maybe these birds have artificial nests and are not forced to the dangerous practice adopted by birds somewhere in Sussex where Martins have been seen taking hot liquid tar from road repair sites as an alternative to mud.

Willow Warbler: In recent years there have been an increasing number of reports of birds singing songs which mix up the songs of Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler and on May 19, when I was on the south slope of Portsdown in the Paulsgrove area I heard two separate Willow Warblers singing their normal songs plus a third bird which began its song with notes suggesting it was a Chiff Chaff but ended each burst with the downward scale of a Willow Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher: At least a dozen reports this week including a peak count of 20 at Portland on May 18

Bearded Tit: The first report of juveniles out of the nest came from the Kent Stour Valley on May 16

Long-tailed Tit: Similarly a report of a pair out with 15 juveniles in north Hampshire on May 15

Willow Tit: Now a rarity in Hampshire there is evidence that the species is not yet extinct with news of a bird (or birds) in a wood lying between Ropley and Four Marks in east Hampshire. Hopefully there are others in the area of the northern end of the 'Wayfarer's Way' long distance path and at a site nearer Andover where at least three pairs were found in 2007

Blue Tit: 14 chicks fledged from a nest box in the Gosport area on May 21

Golden Oriole: This week migrants have been seen on Lundy, in the Scillies, at Christchurch Harbour, Pulborough Brooks and Sandwich Bay. Here in Havant a commuter cycling to work around the north of Langstone Harbour clearly saw one fly across the cycle way on May 17

Woodchat Shrike: Singles have been seen this week on Lundy, in the Scillies and at Sandwich Bay in Kent

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Species on the wing this week were Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer (first seen at Rye Harbour on May 19), Broad-bodied Chaser, Four Spotted Chaser, Banded Demoiselle, Beautiful Demoiselle, Red-eyed Damsel, Blue-tailed Damsel, Common Blue Damsel, Azure Damsel and Variable Damsel

Butterflies

On May 19 an observer in Sussex saw his first Skipper of the year and carefully checked its antennae to ensure that it was not an Essex Skipper before putting it down as a Small Skipper without perhaps considering that it was much more likely to be a Large Skipper at this date so without the evidence of the pure orange upper wings of a Small Skipper I feel reluctant to pass on the report.

Butterflies confidently reported this week were Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Clouded Yellow (one migrant at Portland on May 19 - sixth for the year in my list), Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak (one at Kirdford near Pulborough was the first for the year at a very early date of May 15 - previous earliest in Sussex was 14 June and in Hampshire 1 June), Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver studded Blue (male near Lymington was first for the year on May 17), Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary (many out at Cerne Abbas in Dorset in May 19), Glanville Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Meadow Brown (surprisingly only one report so far - first for the year near Battle in Sussex on May 19), and Small Heath.

Moths (Selective list only)

Fox Moth: First of year was a female in Brighton on May 14 with another at Durlston on May 21

Oak Hook-tip: First at Ebernoe near Midhurst on May 16

Silver-ground Carpet and Yellow Shell: Also at Ebernoe on May 16

Little Thorn: First at Barton on sea near Lymington on May 16

Obscure Wainscot: First in Kent on May 12

Levant Blackneck: One in Kent on May 7 was only the second seen for the county (first in 1952)

Marbled Minor: First in Kent on May 13

Silky Wainscot: First in Kent on May 8

Late news of Scarce Forester moths seen at the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve at Southerham near Lewes on May 21

Other Insects

Urophora cardui: If you are not familar with the insect that causes the commonly seen galls on thistle stems see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/urophora-cardui.jpg

Checkered Beetle (Thanasimus formicarius): This 10mm 'ant mimic' beetle was found in the Rother Valley north of Hastings on May 17 for photo see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/checkered.jpg

Stag Beetle: The first that I know of was a male on brickwork by the front-door of my neighbour's house when I went to visit on May 21

'Thigh' beetle (Oedemera nobilis): First sighting of this common species was in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on May 15

Great Green Bush Cricket nymph: On Portsdown on May 19 I saw what was almost certainly a nymph of this species but still less than half the size of the monster it will become

Earwig nymphs: Cutting open an acorn found in Brede High Wood (north of Hastings) on May 16 revealed the 'earwig nursery' shown in the photo at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/dscn6931.jpg

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Small-flowered Buttercup: This is a plant which I have never yet seen and a photo taken recently by Peter Milinets-Raby shows me that the plant looks different to what I had expected - I was aware of it having small flowers and distinctive hooked spines on its fruits but the illustration in Francis Rose's Wildflower Key shows un upright plant looking much like the commoner species whereas Peter's photo show a sprawling plant with greyish hairy leaves, flowers more like Celery-leaved Buttercup than Meadow or Bulbous species and with hooks on its achenes looking like big bramble thorns. I had also not appreciated its preference for bare ground such as is found at the Marlpit Lane site near Funtington where Peter found the plant

Celery-leaved Buttercup: Brian Fellows was the first to find this in Emsworth on May 16

Yellow-horned Poppy: Brian also found the first of this species at Fort Cumberland in the Eastney area of Portsmouth on May 18

Common Fumitory: The first flowers that I know of opened in my garden in Havant on May 22

Smith's Pepperwort: This has probably been in flower at south Hayling for a couple of weeks but the first that I am sure of was found by myself of Portsdown on May 19 - although it had mainly gone to seed there were enough flowers left to show the diagnostic purple anthers that separate it from Field Pepperwort

Rockrose: On May 19 I made a chance discovery of this plant flowering on Portsdown - no doubt it was once common there (the nearest road to my find in the Paulsgrove housing estate is named 'Rockrose Way') but this is the first time I have found it here (though I know of sites for it in the South Downs area)

Fairy Flax: This had also just started to flower on Portsdown on May 19

Corn Cockle: First report of this in flower came from Ravelin Park, part of the Portsmouth University campus in the city, on May 18

Hybrid Red x White Campion: I found a patch of this growing (with both parents) on Milton Common in Southsea on May 16

Subterranean Clover: First flowers found by Brian Fellows in the Fort Cumberland area of Eastney (Portsmouth) on May 18

Clustered Clover: First flowers also found by Brian Fellows at its only known site in SU 70 near the pedestrian underpass of the A27 between Havant and Emsworth on May 17 - see Brian's photo at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-389-clustered-clover-warb-ws-20.05.11.jpg

Meadow Vetchling: First flowers seen on May 19 on Portsdown

Lucerne: First flowers seen at Fort Cumberland in Eastney by Brian Fellows on May 18

Sainfoin: Although the first flowers were reported at Durlston on May 9 I was greatly impressed by the size of the flowering colony on Portsdown which I saw on May 19 - photos on my diary page

Dwarf Spurge: First flowers at Durlston on May 18

Knotted Hedge Parsley: Brian Fellows has discovered two new sites in Emsworth where this plant is flourishing this year - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm entries for May 18 and 13

Rough Chervil: This was first reported in flower at Durlston on May 16 and then found on Portsdown on May 19

Wild Parsnip: First flowers reported at Durlston on May 18

Early Gentian: First flowers reported at Durlston on May 16 and at least 12 flowering plants found on Portsdown by John Goodspeed on May 19 (photo of one of these plants on my Diary page for that day)

Large Bindweed: First flower seen on Portsdown on May 19

Black Horehound: Flowering at Fort Cumberland at Eastney on May 18

Hoary Plantain: First flowers on Portsdown on May 19

Sea Plantain: First flowers at Eastney on May 18

Broad-leaved Harebell (Campanula rhomboidalis): What I believe to be an escape of this garden plant was flowering by the approach road to Farlington Marshes on May 16

Venus looking glass (Legousia hybrida): Richard Jones (Portsmouth City's Conservation Warden for Portsdown) discovered this flowering on Portsdown on roughly the same day (May 19) that I was mourning its loss from the hill with the end of cultivation of fields west of Fort Southwick. Richard's find was in what he called the Portsdown Top Field which is the arable field west of the Portsdown hill top roundabout and this led me to discover from http://www.portsdown.hampshire.org.uk/places.htm that this field had been abandoned by the previous farmer and had passed into Richard's care last year

Hedge Bedstraw: Just starting to flower on Portsdown on May 19

Field Scabious: First flowering at Durlston on May 19

Common Ragwort: Just starting to flower on Portsdown on May 19

Greater Knapweed: Flowering on Portsdown on May 19

Smooth Hawksbeard: Flowering in Portsmouth on May 18

Fly and White Helleborine orchids: Both were newly flowering in the Heyshott Down area near Midhurst (together with Greater Butterfly and Twayblade) on May 21

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A pod of up to six were in the Christchurch to Swanage area of the Dorset coast on May 17 and 18

Mole: On May 15 there was a report on the Planet Thanet website of a Mole seen swimming in the River Stour in Kent. I wondered if this might be a mistaken identity and the swimmer was in fact a Water Vole but the video at Ahttp://www.arkive.org/mole/talpa-europaea/video-06.html offers proof that Moles can swim. While on this subject have a good laugh at http://www.themouthpiece.com/vb/archive/index.php/t-26608.html (read it right through to the end). Note that Scalopus aquaticus is a North American Mole species.

Hare: I used to see these regularly in the Eames Farm fields (immediately north of the west end of the Thorney Island Great Deeps) but thought they had now vanished from Thorney Island so it is good to read on Brian Fellows' website that Martin Hampton has seen at least four and maybe six there earlier this year (no dates given so not necessarily this year)

Wall Lizard: I would imagine these are flourishing at their south coast sites in this year's hot and dry weather but I had not seen any mention of the species until May 15 when two photos taken on the island by Paul Baker appeared on the Portland website (see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/wp_wall_lizard_9_150511_500.jpg and http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/wp_wall_lizard_10_150511_500.jpg ). Spurred by this news to check up on the status of Wall Lizards in the UK I discovered a website detailing 46 sites in the UK - well worth a look at http://www.surrey-arg.org.uk/SARG/02000-Activities/SurveyAndMonitoring/WallLizard/PMSitePicker.asp if you have any interest in this subject. 46 sites (with a minimum English population of 20,400 Lizards!) is a great deal more than I had expected and it set me off searching for information about whether this apparent recent spread of the creatures is connected with global warming but so far all I have learnt is that most of the creatures have been introduced (probably escaped pets) though this seems to have been going on since the 1860s ( see http://ventnorblog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=716 re the Ventnor colony on the Isle of Wight)


Wildlife diary and news for May 9 - 15 (Week 19 of 2011)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Slavonian Grebe: One was seen in summer plumage at the Exe estuary in Devon on May 8

Black-necked Grebe: One was seen in summer plumage at Abbotsbury in Dorset on May 12

Bittern: One was booming in the Kent Stour valley on May 8 after one had been seen at Sandwich Bay on May 7

Night Heron: No reports from the Bournemouth area since May 3 but on May 8 one turned up at Radipole (Weymouth) and was still there next day

Little Egret: On May 7 one fell prey to a Peregrine on the Sheppey

Glossy Ibis: One turned up in Buckinghamshire on May 7 to be the first seen in that county

Mute Swan: One adult with seven cygnets was seen on Langstone Mill Pond on May 9 (not sure when they hatched nor what had happened to the other parent - normally both parents would lead the young to the safety of the sea very soon after hatching) Elsewhere in the Havant area the summer moult flock at the mouth of the Hermitage Stream at Broadmarsh had grown to 31 birds by May 12

Greylag: A pair at the Eastleigh Lakeside site had 9 goslings on May 9

Brent: 8 (probably summering) were on the Lyndhurst shore on May 8 and in Chichester Harbour 10 summering birds were in the Fishbourne Channel on May 10

Wigeon: On May 11 one pair were at the Oare Marshes (north Kent) and three pairs were in Pagham Harour

Gadwall: A pair were still on Bedhampton Mill Pool on May 12 and another pair were at Christchurch Harbour on May 10

Garganey: On May 8 what was probably the same pair flew east past Stokes Bay (Gosport), Selsey Bill and Splash Point at Seaford. Single males (possibly with nesting partners) were seen at Titchfirld Haven, Farlington Marshes and the Cuckmere valley while Lodmoor (Weymouth) had sightings of up to three birds and others were seen in the Kent Stour Valley and at the Oare Marshes

Pochard: Also at the Oare Marshes near Faversham a female had 7 ducklings on May 11

Goosander: A female with 8 ducklings was seen from a train in Devon between Buckfastleigh and Totnes on May 7

Honey Buzzard: Nine reports of singles from southern England during the week, mostly over Kent, plus four from the near continent where one Danish site recorded 99 on May 9

Marsh Harrier: Also on May 9 a Netherlands site recorded 158 of these Harriers

Montagu's Harrier: One was hunting over the Sandwich Bay site on May 11

Goshawk: One was photographed flying north over Portland Bill on May 10 while on May 11 the New Forest public nest camera showed a baby Goshawk being fed by its parent the leg of another bird which still had a large green plastic ring on it - hopefully the ring was coughed up by the youngster with bits of leg bone.

Sparrowhawk: On May 9 one Danish site recorded the passage of 131 Sparrowhawks plus 22 Red-footed Falcons

Osprey: One was at Fishlake Meadows in Romsey from May 8 to 10

Kestrel: 52 were seen at a Netherlands site on May 9 (with 14 Merlins)

Hobby: May 13 brought the first substantial flock of migrants to Kent when 45 were seen in the Stour Valley

Quail: One French site had 24 on May 9 but I have only seen three reports from this side of the Channel during the week - one was in the Kent Stour Valley, another in the Scillies and the third on downland above Worthing

Black-winged Stilt: Four were at Gwithian in Cornwall on May 8

Avocet: Two families have chicks at the Oare Marshes in north Kent while across on Sheppey just one chick hatched on May 10

Collared Pratincole: One was hawking over a lake at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on May 10

Temminck's Stint: on May 8 nine were seen at a Netherlands site and two were at Rye Harbour. On May 12 one was at Pulborough Brooks and on May 14 one was at Hayle in Cornwall.

Curlew Sandpiper: At least one was at Rye Harbour on May 8 and 11 and another was at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on May 12 and 14.

Broad-billed Sandpiper: The first of the year was in Nottinghamshire on May 13

Woodcock: These have been roding at three sites near Romsey (including Emer Bog) but over in Sussex several reports have been of their absence from regular sites and I am wondering if this is a reflection of the recent drought - the birds having abandoned the drier sites and moved to wetter ground where they may find food for themselves and any young (still to come in the future).

Black-tailed Godwit: On May 10 a party of 29 were seen to head purposefully north west from Christchurch Harbour and it was assumed these were birds starting their journey to Iceland

Audouin's Gull: One at Minsmere in Norfolk on May 9 was only the sixth to be seen in Britain.

Gull-billed Tern: One was seen at Pulborough Brooks heading east on May 8

Sandwich Tern: Rye Harbour reports at least 750 pairs nesting there

Roseate Tern: Several reports this week include one seen at Titchfield Haven on May 8

Little Tern: Still no reports of them showing signs of nesting at the Hayling Oysterbeds though a few have been seen at the RSPB Islands out in Langstone Harbour

Oriental Turtle Dove: The bird which has been in a Chipping Camden garden since last December is said to have left on May 9

Cuckoo: Anyone in the Havant area who has not yet heard a Cuckoo could try the northern fringe of Stansted Forest where one was 'heard all day' on May 13 from David Parker's home on the east side of the road in Forestside

Nightjar: Churring has been heard this week at Havant Thicket (3 birds on May 11), Wiggonholt Common near Pulborough Brooks, Ambersham Common near Midhurst, Great Covert near North Baddesley (Romsey area), and Chailey Common near Haywards Heath.

Swift: None yet seen in Havant but six birds were back at Emsworth on May 12 with four of them investigating nest sites on May 13

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Trevor Carpenter had a close view of one flying low over the Cattle Market carpark in Winchester on May 12

Woodlark: One was singing over Ambersham Common at midnight on May 12 and it seems this is not unusual

Red-rumped Swallow: Reports of singles seen this week at Folkestone and Christchurch Harbour

Mistle Thrush: Although I have seen one or two this winter I have not heard one singing so far this year until May 13 when one was heard distantly in the Havant Thicket area near Bells Copse. Elsewhere a fledgling was seen at Christchurch Harbour on May 13 and one was collecting nest material for a second brood at Ryde on the IoW on May 7

Savi's Warbler: One was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on May 13 and 14

Melodious Warbler: One was singing on St Mary's (Scilly) on May 9 after a previous report on May 4

Spotted Flycatcher: 20 reports this week indicate a major arrival which peaked with more than 50 birds (plus 2 Pied Flycatchers) at Portland on May 14 (when another 17+ were at Christchurch Harbour)

Collared Flycatcher: The first report for the year is of one in Norfolk on May 8

Golden Oriole: 2 were at Christchurch Harbour on May 13 and 14 and during the week singles were seen at Portland, in Thanet and on the Scillies

Red-backed Shrike: A male was at the RSPB Dungeness reserved on May 9 and 10

Woodchat Shrike: One was in the Scillies on May 9 and 10

Starling: These have been bringing flocks of noisy and hungry fledglings out since May 9

Crossbill: A steady trickle of continental immigrants continues to arrive with 4 at Dungeness on May 10 and 4 seen to fly in off the sea at Folkestone on May 14

Trumpeter Finch: One has been reported on Lundy on May 13 and 14 but has been there for some time

Escapees: Reports this week are of both Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at the Vyne Park Lake (Basingstoke), a Cinnamon Teal at Titchfield Haven, and a California Quail in Thanet (see its picture at http://www.planetthanet.org/images/2011%20Folder/May%202011/May%209th%202011/Thumnails/100_0053.jpg )

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Vagrant Emperor: At least a dozen have reached this country since Apr 15 and they are now probably pressing on northward (this species is the only dragonfly ever to have been recorded (in the past) in Iceland). The first for Hampshire was seen in the New Forest on May 8 by Paul Winter and Sussex seems to be the only south coast county with no sightings so far. Further north they have been seen in Glamorgan and Leicestershire

Other Dragonfly species reported this week have been Hairy, Emperor, Club-tailed, Downy Emerald, Brilliant Emerald, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied, Four-spotted and Scarce Chasers.

Damselfly species have been Beautiful Demoiselle, Banded Demoiselle, White Legged Damsel, Red-eyed Damsel, Large Red Damsel, Blue-tailed Damsel, Common Blue Damsel, Variable Damsel and Azure Damsel

Butterflies

Large Skipper: First seen at Brighton on May 8 but only other report is from Storrington on May 9

Also seen during the week were Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Wood White, Brimstone, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Brown Argus, Common, Adonis and Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Small Pear-bordered Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown and Small Heath.

Moths (Selective listing only)

The Forester: First on Odiham Common on May 7

Poplar Hawk: First for Hampshire at Fareham on May 11

Broad-bordered Bee Hawk: One in a Lee on Solent garden on May 12 (not first)

Elephant Hawk: First taken by George Spraggs on South Hayling on May 13

Small Elephant Hawk: First in Brighton on May 8

Wood Tiger: First seen on Butser Hil on May 8

Other Insects

A fascinating list of invertebrates can be found by following Graeme Lyons Blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ I enjoy and learn from almost everything he has to say and highly recommend everyone to read it regularly as I cannot do it justice here

Glow-worm Larva: A report of one seen at Durlston on May 13 is a reminder that we will soon be seeing the adult beetles (in less than a month if the weather remains dry and warm)

Speckled Bush Cricket larvae: Photos on both the Rye Bay website and George Spraggs blog well worth seeing - go to http://rxwildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/rxspecnymphdsc08354.jpg and/or http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm (entry for May 13)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Marsh Horsetail: Fertile cones seen on plants at Langstone South Moors on May 11

Western Hemlock Spruce: When I see cones on this tree they are usually spheroid, brown and open. looking somewhat similar to the cones of Scots Pine, but when I encountered very young cones in Havant Thicket on May 13 I did not recognize the cigar shaped form coloured with red and green tinges. See my diary entry for May 13 for a link to a photo of the young cones.

Lesser Spearwort: First flowers seen in Havant Thicket on May 13

Common Poppy: First flowers seen in Havant on May 12 (Pricklly Poppy seen in Sussex on May 8)

White Ramping and Fine Leaved Fumitory: Flowering on roadside near Henfield in Sussex on May 4

Hoary Stock: Flowering at Roedean (Brighton) on May 8

Dames Violet: More than 50 plants in full flower at the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 9

Lesser Swine Cress: Flowering in Emsworth on May 8

Horse Radish: First sight of this in flower on May 12 at Havant Broadmarsh

Weld: First flowers on Portsdown on May 11

Childing Pink: Plants near to flowering at Shoreham on May 8 - it may be worth having a look for the Hayling Island (Sinah Common) plants soon but these are Proliferous Pinks (not Childing).

Ragged Robin: Flowering at Brook Meadow (Emsworth) on May 8

Sea Spurrey: Lesser was in flower at Langstone on May 9 and Greater on May 15

False Acacia: These trees started to flower in Havant on May 12

Rough Clover: In flower at Shoreham on May 8

Tufted Vetch: Flowering at Durlston on May 10

Smooth Tare: Flowering at Broadmarsh on May 12

Sainfoin: First flowers on Portsdown on May 5

Yellow Vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca): Flowering at its last remaining Portsmouth area site on Milton Common on May 11

Short-styled Field Rose: Flowering at Broadmarsh beside the Hermitage Stream on May 12

Sweetbriar: First flowers in Havant on May 11

Biting Stonecrop: Flowers open in Havant on May 9

Broad-leaved Willowherb: First flowers in Havant on May 9

Black Mulberry: The tree overhanging the Wayfarer's Way at the Bedhampton Springs was in flower on May 12

White Bryony: First flowers at Broadmarsh on May 12

Alder Buckthorn: Flowering in Havant Thicket on May 13

Portland Spurge: Flowering at Durlston on May 9

Knotted Hedge Parsley: Flowering at Roedean (Brighton) on May 8 and in Emsworth on May 13

Shepherd's Needle: Flowering at Roedean (Brighton) on May 8 (see Graeme Lyons' Blog referred to at head of Other Insects above)

Ground Elder: First flowers in Havant on May 10

Marsh Pennywort: Leaves seen in Havant Thicket on May 13 (see my Diary)

Wild Carrot: Starting to flower at Durlston on May 14

Early Gentian: Flowering at Durlston on May 11

Dodder: Flowering at Ningwood (IoW) on May 8

Water Figwort: Flowering at Bedhampton on May 11

Common Figwort: Flowering at Havant Thicket on May 13

Foxglove: First fully open flowers in Havant Thicket on May 13

Small Toadflax: Flowering in Sussex on May 8

Heath Speedwell: Flowering at Broadmarsh beside the cycleway on May 12 and at two sites in Havant Thicket on May 13

Brooklime: In flower at Bedhampton on May 12

Eyebright: Starting to flower at Durlston on May 14

Cut-leaved Dead Nettle: Flowering with Henbit Dead Nettle somewhere in Sussex on May 8

Wild Clary: Flowering at Emsworth on May 13

Hedge Woundwort: First flowers at Broadmarsh on May 12

Changing Forget-me-not: First flowers seen in Havant Thicket on May 13

Hound's Tongue: A plant flowering near the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 9 was a new find for SU 70

Common Broomrape: One plant flowering near the Hayling Oysterbeds on May 9

Trailing Bellflower: Garden escape flowering in a Havant back alley on May 9

Blue Fleabane: First flowers at Langstone on May 9

Feverfew: First flowers in Havant on May 9

Pineappleweed: Starting to flower in Havant Thicket on May 13

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): Found on the Broadmarsh ex-Playing Fields not yet quite in flower on May 12. Before this find I only knew of one local site for this plant (on the Purbrook Heath playing fields) - did it arrive at Broadmarsh on a Council mowing machine which had been used at Purbrook?

Black Knapweed: First flowers at Broadmarsh and Portsdown both on May 12

Salsify: First seen on the Hayling Coastal Path on May 3 but a colony of around 300 plants on the 'Broadmarsh mountain' seen on May 12 is worth a mention

Rosy Garlic: Flowering at several sites recently - Henfield in Sussex on May 4, Milton Common (Southsea) on May 11 and the Broadmarsh small carpark on May 12

Green-winged Orchid: A couple of spikes have appeared in what was arable land recently returned to Parkland at Stansted

Greater Butterfly Orchid: Flowering at Ningwood (IoW) on May 8

Bee Orchid: One plant with two flowers opening on May 12 beside the Broadmarsh cycleway

Common Spotted Orchid: First flowers on Portsdown on May 5

Southern Marsh Orchid: Flowering at Durlston on May 9 and at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 14

Marsh Arrowgrass: Flowering at Langstone South Moors on May 11

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: Another photo of a vixen with young cubs out in the open came from north Kent on May 12

Stoat: Birders at St Catherine's Point (IoW) watched a Stoat lugging a Rabbit off to feed its young on My 8

Water Shrew: Although these are said to be widespread throughout the UK and not restricted to water habitat they are not often seen - a photo of one at Christchurch Harbour taken on May 14 was the first seen there since 1990

Flounder: Common on the sea bed, I have never heard of one being found in fresh water until this week when one was seen in the River Ems at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on May 9. Others may easily escape detection as they lie inert at the bottom of the water - this one was only seen because it was disturbed by another fish and moved to a safer spot

Fungi: A spectacular show of Dryad's Saddle was seen this week at Purbrook Heath on May 8


Wildlife diary and news for May 2 - 8 (Week 18 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-throated Diver: This species is normally less numerous than Red-throated and Great Northern along the south coast in winter but this week has brought more reports of Black-throated than of the other two species (both of which were still present). Dungeness reported 10 passing on both May 1 and 3, increasing to 15 on May 5 (when 1 was seen from Sandy Point on Hayling and 2 from St Catherine's Point (IoW). Biggest count of Great Northern was of 5 off Selsey on May 1 (Selsey also had the peak number of Red-throated with 14 on May 2)

Red-necked Grebe: One was off Selsey Bill on both May 2 and 3

Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe: Singles of both species (both in full summer plumage) were in the Exe estuary up to May 6 (but not seen on May 7)

Fulmar: The cliffs east of Seaford Head had at least 15 pairs at their nests on Apr 30

Sooty Shearwater: After several sightings in Jan and Feb there have been no more reports until May 7 when one was seen off the Cornish coast

Storm Petrel: A party of 8 had been seen from Durlston on Feb 13 and 3 were off south Devon on Apr 25 with a single seen off the Scillies on Apr 27. This week one was off the Dorset coast on May 4 and more than 5 were seen 30 miles off the Scillies. For those interested in less usual Petrel species Steve Copsey's wonderful photos from Antarctic waters this week introduced me to the Black-bellied Storm Petrel and the Common Diving Petrel (which looks much more like an Auk than a Petrel) as well as Wilson's Petrel which is not unknown in British waters - see the Three Amigos blog at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo

Night Heron: The Bournemouth bird was seen again on May 3 in the Stour Valley nature reserve

Cattle Egret: One which turned up at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Apr 30 moved north to Abbotsbury on May 1, then a little south to West Bexington on May 5 and was last seen at Swyre near Dorchester (maybe heading east to Hampshire?)

Great White Egret: One was at Lodmoor on May 7 (and another near Penzance in Cornwall that day)

Purple Heron: Last year a pair nested in the Dungeness area and on May 6 a male plus a juvenile (one of last year's young?) were seen in that area

Glossy Ibis: After sightings in Berkshire and at Dungeness in January I have not heard of others until this week when one was in Essex on May 2 and another at Rutland Water on May 5

Canada Goose: 10 goslings were hatched in north Kent on Apr 27 and on May 5 another pair hatched young on the Portland Harbour breakwater

Barnacle Goose: I am puzzled by the large number of these geese currently in Germany and the Netherlands. Trektellen reports a surge of 'remarkable reports' over the three days from May 4 to 6 with a minimum of 30,000 birds on May 4 and 5, dropping back to 2000 on May 6 (if we assume no double counting between the reporting sites there were 82,000 in the area on May 5). Wikipaedia tells me that the Netherlands area supports a wintering population of around 130,000 birds which breed in Novaya Zemlya (north of the Ural mountains in Russia) and I can only suppose that these birds are now leaving their wintering grounds and becoming 'remarkable' by turning up at sites where they are not normally seen

Brent Goose: Very few seen as migrants this week - biggest count was 13 flying east past Seaford on May 5

Garganey: 17 reports this week, the majority of them being of males only, probably indicating that the females have already settled to nesting at (maybe) six sites in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset but others are still arriving (one flew in from the sea to Titchfield Haven on May 7)

Long-tailed Duck: One was seen at Hurst Beach (Lymington) as late as May 5

Common Buzzard: 136 were reported at a German site on May 6 when 74 Sparrowhawks were reported from the Netherlands - presumably passage birds still heading north

Rough-legged Buzzard: A very unexpected species for southern England at this time of year but we have three confident reports this week. On May 1 one was seen over Pegwell Bay in Kent, another was seen near Basingstoke on May 3 and a third was over Dungeness on May 6. All three may have been part of the passage indicated by the continental reports of Buzzards and Sparrowhawks.

Osprey: One was over Langstone Harbour on May 1 and the latest I have heard of flew north at Seaford on May 4

Black-winged Stilt: RBA reported a group of four in Essex on Apr 30

Avocet: The first two chicks were hatched at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on Apr 6

Dotterel: A party of 4 were seen in the Cheesefoot Head area east of Winchester from May 1 to 4 (On May 2 RBA reported a total of 50 Dotterel in the UK)

Lapwing: The first three chicks were seen at Farlington Marshes on Apr 29 and at Puborough Brooks on May 1

Knot: Counts of over 1000 came from continental coastal sites this week and on May 1 Seaford saw 303 passing while Dungeness recorded 668

Little Stint: On May 1 four were seen on the Lymington shore with 3 there the next day

Temmincks Stint: On May 1 one was seen at Sandwich Bay and on May 4 one was at Christchurch Harbour

Pectoral Sandpiper: On May 7 the first to be seen anywhere along the channel coasts was on the Lymington shore

Curlew Sandpiper: On May 1 one was at Rye Harbour and on May 3 three were seen across Rye Bay at The Midrips while another was in the north of Pagham Harbour. On May 4 one was in the Cuckmere Valley and on May 7 more than 15 were at two sites in Belgium

Long-billed Dowitcher: The bird which has been at Lodmoor (Weymouth) since Nov 8 last year (after first appearing in Cornwall on Sep 30) was last seen at Lodmoor on Apr 30 with no further reports until one turned up in the Netherlands on May 3

Bar-tailed Godwit: Peak counts for this year's spring passage have been 5475 past Dungeness on May 1 with 2124 past Seaford that same day. Dungeness had another 703 on May 2 and 630 on May 3. Seaford still had a count of 11 on May 7

Whimbrel: These have also been moving all week but the peak count I have seen was of only 150 in Rye Bay on May 3. I think these low numbers are the result of many Whimbrel heading north over land when they reach the Hampshire coast

Wood Sandpiper: One was at Farlington Marshes on both May 1 and 2. There were two in the Kent Stour valley on May 2 and three at Pulborough Brooks on May 3 while over the Channel a couple of Netherlands sites had at least 44 on May 3. Latest report is from Sheppey where the warden (Gordon Allison) saw 2 on May 5 and told us that when they reach their northern breeding sites the birds may well nest in old thrush nests up in trees.

Spotted Sandpiper: RBA reports one in Worcestershire on May 3 and says it is the county's first ever record

Red-necked Phalarope: Also from RBA comes news of one 'somewhere in England' on May 6. I know that females often appear in England on return passage as early as June (leaving the males to feed the young which they have incubated) but I think it is rare for one to be seen in England on the way north.

Pomarine Skua: It seems that numbers along the English coast are larger than usual this spring and by May 3 Chris Janman (current leader in the Selsey Pom King competition) already had 76 to his credit though the numbers seen at Selsey are usually much lower than those at sites further east (at Dungeness they had 77 birds in one day on May 1 when Seaford had 40). Sandy Point on Hayling had 11 on May 1

Gulls: The first winter Glaucous was still at Dungeness on May 7 and an Iceland Gull was seen in Belgium on that day with a Ross's Gull in the Netherlands. In Sussex at least 500 pairs of Kitttiwake were seen nesting on the cliffs east of Seaford on Apr 30

Roseate Tern: Nine reports this week include one at Selsey on May 4, two in Stokes Bay (Gosport) on May 6 and one off Sandy Point on Hayling on May 7

Little Tern: I'm not sure if reports of these back at the Hayling Oysterbeds are being censored because they breed there but so far there have been no such reports (there was just one report of a single bird seen from Farlington Marshes on Apr 26). In 2009 the first were at the Oysterbeds by Apr 28 and this year Little Terns have been in the Channel since Apr 2 and by May 1 Dungeness was reporting 125 passing while Titchfield Haven area had 57 on May 2

Black Tern: Local reports this week are of 6 in Stokes Bay (Gosport) on May 1 and 18 there on May 2. Selsey Bill had 27 on May 2 and 15 on May 3. On May 4 there were 19 off Titchfield Haven, 7 at Lymington and 6 in Hayling Bay. On May 5 there were 17 at Selsey and on May 7 Sandy Point on Hayling had 5

White-winged Black Tern: On May 2 one was over Ivy Lake at Chichester and on May 3 it had moved to the Westhampnet Lake

Short-eared Owl: Seen at five coastal sites this week including one at Farlington Marshes on May 5

Nightjar: First reported sighting was on Apr 20 in Dorset and first reports of churring came from Devon on Apr 28 and the New Forest on May 3

Swift: There was a major arrival on the other side of the Channel on Apr 30 when more than 8,000 were in the Netherlands and they have been filtering into southern England this week with 100+ over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on May 1, 50 in the Romsey area on May 2, 30 at Christchurch Harbour on May 3, around 100 over Chichester on May 6 and 26 over Winchester Cathedral on May 7

Bee-eater: Seven reports this week from Poole in Dorset, St Catherine's Point on the IoW, Selsey and Portland

Wryneck: These have been in England since Apr 1 (Scillies) and this week they have been seen in Kent (Thanet), Christchurch Harbour and Pulborough Brooks

House Martin: Still in short supply but this week there were 30 at Eastleigh sewage farm on May 1 and a dozen over Budds Farm at Havant on May 2

Yellow Wagtail: Still trickling into Britain with a max of 11 at Portland on May 1

Grey-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava thunbergi): Just one seen at Reculver on the north Kent coast on May 7

Whinchat: At least ten reports this week with a peak of 22 at Portland on May 1. On May 2 one was seen on Thorney Island

Stonechat: A pair were feeding young at Waltham Brooks (Pulborough) on May 4

Blue Rock Thrush: A surprise visitor to St Agnes in the Scillies on May 5

Blackbird: On May 5 a Blackbird was feeding three fledged young at Cosham (Portsmouth) and in the Lymington area that same day a Song Thrush was out with three young

Fieldfare: Several still around this week at least up to May 5

Melodious Warbler: One singing at Nanquidno in Cornwall on May 4

Spotted Flycatcher: Five new reports this week including one singing in the New Forest on May 6 (first report was on Apr 22 near Basingstoke - total of 14 reports so far)

Golden Oriole: One singing at Portland on May 6 and two more in Cornwall and the Scillies

Red-backed Shrike: One arrived at Portland on May 7 and was still there on May 8

Woodchat Shrike: One was still at Prawle in Devon on May 1 but no other reports this week

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Emperor: First of the year seen near Eastbourne on May 5 with another at Portland on May 6

Vagrant Emperor: Another specimen in a Weymouth town garden on May 2 (see previous week)

Hairy Dragonfly, Broad-bodied chaser and Four spotted chaser: All seen again this week

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva): First report from the Kent Stour Valley on May 2

Beautiful Demoiselle, Large Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damsel, Common Blue, Azure and Variable Damsel: All seen again this week

Butterflies

Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Brimstone, Large, Small and Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper and Small Blue, Brown Argus, Common, Adonis and Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Small Heath: All these seen during the week - no newcomers

Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars: A larval nest of 60 seen at Great Fontley Farm north of Fareham on May 2

Moths

Plain Gold (Micropterix calthella): First in Thanet on May 4

Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus): First at Durlston on May 2

Lampronia flavimitrella: First seen in Brede High Wood north of Hastings on May 5 (Nationally rare)

Adela rufimetrella: A new Longhorn species for the year seen in Thanet on May 4

Skin Moth (Monopis laevigella): First in Thanet on May 1

Monopis obviella: First in Thanet on May 7

Tinea semifulvella: First at Newhaven on May 3

Tinea trinotella: First in Thanet on May 7

Azalea Leaf Miner (Caloptilia azaleella): First in Thanet on May 6

Oak Leaf miner (Phyllonorycter harrisella): First in Thanet on May 4

Phyllonorycter maestingella: First in Thanet on May 7

Leaf Miner Horse Chestnut (Cameraria ohridella): First at Newhaven on May 1

Metriotes lutarea: First in Thanet on May 4

Bluebell Conch (Hysterophora maculosana): First in Brede High Wood north of Hastings on May 5 (larvae live and feed in Bluebell seed capsules)

Syndemis musculana: First in Thanet on May 6

Epiblema cynosbatella: First in Thanet on May 5

Epiblema scutulana: First at Newhaven on May 3

Cydia succedana now called Cydia ulicetana: First at Newhaven on May 3

Thisanotia chrysonuchella: At Portland on May 8 - first ever at Portland and first in Dorset for 50 years

Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis): First in Thanet on May 7

Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata): First at Beacon Hill in Meon Valley on May 1

Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata): First in Thanet on May 6

Grass Rivulet (Perizoma albulata): First near Haywards Heath on May 6

Sandy Carpet (Perizoma flavofasciata): First in Thanet on May 7

Square Spot (Paradarisa consonaria): First at Portland on May 7

Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria): First at Newhaven on May 3

Light Emerald (Campaea margaritata): First at Thanet on May 6

Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populi): First in Thanet on May 5

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris tityus): First at Bentley Station Meadow near Alton on May 4

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (Hamaris fuciformis): First in Bentley Wood west of Stockbridge on May 3

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala): First in Thanet on May 7

Cream-spot Tiger (Arctia villica): First near Eastbourne on May 3

Patton's Tiger (Hyphoraia testudinaria): This rare migrant from southern Europe was first found in Britain in May 2005 by Sarah Patton (Ivan Lang's predecessor as Pagham Harbour warden) and the first to be seen this year was a new species for Portland on May 7

The Flame (Axylia putris): First in Thanet on May 1

Alder Moth (Acronicta alni): First in Thanet on May 1

Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens): First in Thanet on May 7

Vine's Rustic (Hoplodrina ambigua): First in Thanet on May 5

Plain Golden Y (Autographa jota): First in Thanet on May 6

Other Insects

Large Crane Fly (Daddy Long-legs): First in Thanet on May 6

Marmelade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus): This and two other Hoverfly species seen (at Rye Harbour on May 7) laying their eggs on leaves already infested with aphids which the Hoverfly larvae will start to eat as soon as they emerge from the eggs

Tachinid Fly (Phasia hemiptera): Mating pair seen on May 1 at Bixley Wood (Peasmarsh) north of Hastings

Ruby-Tailed Wasp (Chrysis ignita): Seen in the Newhaven area on May 1 searching walls for the nests of Mason Bees in which to lay their eggs

Melecta albifrons: Seen at Rye Harbour on May 2 this Cuckoo Bee is a cleptoparasite of the Hairy Footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes). For an account of cleptoparasitism see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee

Minotaur Beetle (Typhaeus typhoeus): This impressive beetle was found dead near Eastbourne on May 1 but a live example was seen in Thanet on May 3

Soldier Beetle (Cantharis rustica): The first report of these comes from Portsdown on May 6

Cardinal beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea): First seen in Thanet on May 6

14-spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata): First at Newhaven on May 1

Kidney-spot ladybird (Chilocorus renipustulatus): First at Newhaven on May 1

Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis): Also at Newhaven on May 1

Tibellus oblongus: First report of this wet grassland spider from Thanet on May 6

Nursery tent spider (Pisaura mirabilis): First report of one carrying her egg-sac comes from the Hastings area on May 1

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Great Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia): Plants at Warblington Farm (Havant) were already a metre tall on May 3

Thread-leaved Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus trichophyllus): Flowering at Durlston on May 4

Mousetail (Myosurus minimus): Seen flowering in Newtown Harbour nature reserve (IoW) on May 2

Oriental Poppy (Papaver pseudoorientale): This impressive garden escape was flowering by the Lavant stream north of Havant rail station on May 6

Hairy rock cress (Arabis hirsuta): Flowering on Portsdown on May 6

Narrow leaved pepperwort (Lepidium ruderale): Flowering by the Langstone roundabout at Havant on May 2

Sea kale (Crambe maritima): Flowering at Rye Harbour (and no doubt Hayling Island) on May 7

Wild mignonette (Reseda lutea): Lots of this flowering on Portsdown by May 6

Pale Flax (Linum bienne): Reported flowering at Durlston on May 2 and seen locally in Paulsgrove Chalkpit (Portsdown) on May 6

Pale dog violet (Viola lactea): Flowering near Ningwood Common (IoW) on Apr 30 - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/isle-wight-may-2011.htm for Brian Fellows photos of this and the Heath Dog Violet.

Heath dog violet (Viola canina): As for Pale Dog Violet

Bladder Campion: Flowering on Portsdown on May 6

Lesser Stitchwort: Flowering at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on May 2 and in Havant on May 6

Three veined sandwort (Moehringia trinervia): First flowers seen at Nore Barn (Emsworth) on May 3

Annual pearlwort ( Sagina apetala): Starting to flower at Langstone on May 2

Common Malllow: First flowers in Havant on May 2

Least Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis exilis): Flowering in Langstone on May 2

Sea pea (Lathyrus japonicus): Flowering at Rye Harbour by May 7

Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa): Flowering in the Havant area by May 2

Creeping Cinquefoil: Flowering in Havant on May 6

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: First mass flowering in Havant on May 2

Purging Buckthorn: Flowering on Portsdown on May 6

Spindle: First flowers at Nore Barn (Emsworth) on May 3

Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus): First flowers seen at Egham in Surrey on May 4 and then on Portsdown on May 6

Burnet Saxifrage: Flowering in the Havant cemetery on May 6

Sanicle (Sanicula europaea): Flowering on Portsdown on May 6

Wild privet (Ligustrum vulgare): Flowering on Portsdown on May 6

Bittersweet (Woody) Nightshade: Flowering at Durlston on May 2 and in Havant on May 6

Foxglove: Starting to flower in Havant on May 2

Yellow Rattle: Flowering at Durlston on May 4 and on Portsdown on May 6

Common gromwell (Lithospermum officinale): Flowering on Portsdown on May 6

Buckshorn Plantain: Flowering in Havant on May 2

Harebell: A single flower seen on Portsdown on May 6

Yarrow: Starting to flower in Havant on May 2

Slender Thistle: First flower seen in Southmoor Lane (Havant) on May 2

Hairy Garlic: Flowering at a new site in Mill Lane at Langstone on May 2 and at Nore Barn in Emsworth on May 3

Twayblade orchid: Flowering at Durlston on May 5

Sea Arrowgrass: Flowering at Newtown Harbour (IoW) om May 2

Dense-headed Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora congesta): Flowering in Hollybank Woods (Emsworth) on May 7

Yellow Sedge (Carex viridula): Flowering at Ningwood Common (IoW) on Apr 30

Common Spike Rush (Eleocharis palustris): Flowering at the Langstone South Moors on May 2

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: First report of a cub above ground on May 4 when a cub was was seen with its mother at Pulborough Brooks

Stoat: On Mar 25 one was seen hunting at Reculver on the north Kent coast and it showed no reluctance to plunge into water and swim in search of prey. Now on May 1 the warden at the Elmley RSPB site on Sheppey came on a dripping wet Stoat which had just emerged from swimming a water filled ditch

Red Squirrel: While on holiday on the Isle of Wight last week Brian Fellows put up a bird seed feeder in the grounds of his holiday home and it was visited daily by a Red Squirrel, giving him close views from a window. On most visits it appeared to 'suck' seed from the feeder but on a couple of occasions it knocked the feeder to the gound and ate the spilt seed avidly.

Hybrid Newt: On May 2 Brian Banks re-visited a pond at Staplehurst in west Kent (where he had found a hybrid Common x Palmate Newt on Apr 27) and found a second specimen (the pattern of spots on its belly showed it was a different animal to the previous find)

Grass Snake: After several reports in March when they were starting to emerge there was no news of these snakes in April but on May 1 a large specimen (more than 3 feet long) was seen on Wolstonbury Hill at Pyecombe near Brighton

Tope (Galeorhinus galeus): Birders seawatching at Seaford Splash Point on May 1 saw a fisherman land on one of these small Sharks which hunt for fish in shallow coastal waters (often doing so in small packs). Among the interesting facts about this species I see that it has a nictating membrane (as do birds) with which to protect and clean its eyes and that females give birth to as many as 20 'pups' at one go. Its flesh is not edible but its liver is a good source of vitamin A and it's fins are used in making Sharks Fin soup. Luckily the larger Tiger Sharks (fellow members of a group appropriately called 'Requiem Sharks') do not normally come into shallow waters - they are known to be man eaters.


Wildlife diary and news for Apr 25 - May 1 (Week 17 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: All three regular species are still present in southern waters with five or six Great Northern on the sea off Selsey Bill being a regular sight for the birders there and a summer plumaged Black-throated was still off Penzance on Apr 30. More unusual was a group of 5 White-billed Divers off the Aberdeenshire coast in the north while one was still to be seen off the French coast on Apr 27

Grebes: Trektellen has three reports of Red-necked Grebe this week (two off the Netherlands and one in British waters). Both Slavonian and Black-necked seem to have left British waters but one Slavonian and two Black-necked were still off the Netherlands at the start of this week

North Atlantic Little Shearwater (Puffinus baroli): Little Shearwater is possibly the most numerous bird species in the southern hemisphere but it does not cross the Equator. There is a similar but distinct northern hemisphere species and I became aware of it as a 'mega rarity' in British waters when one settled on Lundy during the breeding season last year and could be heard 'singing' for a mate from its chosen nest hole. This year it was back on Lundy on Apr 26 (still, so far as I know, without a mate)

Storm Petrel: A group of 8 birds were reported off the Dorset coast on Feb 13 but I am not aware of any others in the English Channel until Apr 25 when a fishing boat off the south Devon coast saw three of these Petrels on Apr 25

White Stork: Many Devon birders were excited to see a White Stork this week until someone noticed a metal ring on its foot and Shaun Barnes did some research showing ..

"Fylde Bird Club (Blackpool area of Lancashire) noted that on 26th March 2011 Bob Danson and Barry Dyson discovered a White Stork feeding in a flooded field at Pilling Lane Ends, before it relocated to a field alongside Taylor's Lane, Stake Pool. However, the presence of a narrow metal ring above the bird's left foot proved it to be an escape from captivity, and the same individual that had earlier been noted in Scotland over Fairlie, Ayrshire on 13th March 2011, then at Ormiston, Edinburgh and Whitecraig, Lothian on 17th-19th March. After leaving the Fylde it overflew Halton, Lancashire then Tebay, Cumbria on 27th March before visiting Lockerbie and Moffat, Dumfriesshire on 9th-10th April and Banchory, Aberdeenshire on 11th-12th April 2011. The bird originated from Harewood House, north of Leeds, West Yorkshire, where free-flying White Storks are known to have been kept as exhibits since at least April 1997, and they successfully fledged young later that year. Ringed White Storks from this source are occasionally recorded at large around northern England and southern Scotland, particularly in the early spring

Goslings: Both Greylag and Canada geese hatched young this week

Garganey: Reports this week have come from Dorset (Abbotsbury and Poole Harbour), Sussex (Rye Harbour), Kent (Dungeness and Sheppey), and Cornwall (The Lizard). Locally a female was on Baffins pond in Portsmouth on Apr 30

Long-tailed Duck: One was seen at Hurst beach (Lymington) on Apr 27 and 28, and maybe this bird was the one seen passing Dungeness on Apr 30. Two othere were off the Netherlands on Apr 28

Sawbills: All three species still reported this week. A single Smew was off the Netherlands on Apr 30, a Red-breasted Merganser went past the South Foreland in Kent on Apr 28 and two Goosanders flew past Dungeness on Apr 30

Honey Buzzard: Of local interest Martin Hampton had a very brief view of what was almost certainly one flying north over his Havant garden on Apr 22 and another flew east over Newlands Farm (south of Fareham) on Apr 29

Black Kite: Several seem to have crossed the Channel to be seen in southern England this week. For a comparison of Red and Black Kites see Graeme Lyons photos at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-often-do-you-get-to-write-this-on.html - elsewhere at least one has been in south Cornwall, one at Folkestone, one at Dungeness and one at West Meon near Petersfield in Hampshire with another over Ibsley near Ringwood.

Montagu's Harrier: As well as several continental sightings this week this species has been reported from Kent (Folkestone, Oare Marshes and nearby Sheppey, Thanet and Sandwich Bay) and The Lizard in Cornwall

Rough-legged Buzzard: Trektellen reports show that a few of these were moving north over the Netherlands this week so a couple of reports from southern England on Apr 25 are made the more likely- two were reported at Folkestone and one was seen well in the New Forest

Osprey: More than seven reports this week include one eating a fish in the Pilsey area (Thorney Island) and another seen carrying a fish over the Fareham end of Portsdown (both on Apr 25) and another seen in Langstone Harbour on Apr 28

Red-footed Falcon: In addition to three reports from the Netherlands this week one flew in from the sea at Folkestone on Apr 30 and there is a late report of one over the Axminster area of Devon on Apr 22

Merlin: I had thought that most of these had now returned to Britain but on Apr 29 at least 15 were seen in the Netherlands (probably birds intending to spend their breeding season a lot further north)

Hobby: At least 32 reports this week as these lovely birds flood into southern England - locally one flew north over Martin Hampton's house in Havant on Apr 22 and two were over Portsdown on Apr 30. In Kent more than 17 were hunting over the Stour Valley on Apr 27 and I expect to hear similar reports from e.g. the New Forest as flocks of 20 or 30 birds that have travelled together feed up before dispersing to their own territories.

Peregrine: A Sussex birder reported hearing one making an unusual 'honking' noise as it checked out a couple of radio controlled gliders which had invaded its air space in the Newhaven area on Apr 27

Stone Curlew: A late arrival was seen on the Isle of Wight on Apr 16

Collared Pratincole: On Apr 24 one was seen in Yorkshire and on Apr 27 and 28 what was presumably the same bird was in Lincolnshire

Lapwing: One was seen with three chicks at Farlington Marshes on Apr 29

Little Stint: One on the Lymington shore on Apr 29 (a Temmincks Stint was seen in Belgium on Apr 30)

Curlew Sandpiper: One was at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Apr 24 and another was in the Rye Bay area on Apr 29

Purple Sandpiper: Most of these have now left us but one was still at Southsea Castle on Apr 30

Ruff: Among more expected reports from Lymington, Sheppey and the Isle of Wight was a sighting of 2 pausing briefly with Sanderlings on the shore of Hayling Island at Sandy Point on Apr 30

Jack Snipe: Another unexpected report was of one at Durlston on Apr 29

Bar-tailed Godwit: This has been the week in which huge numbers of Barwits have been streaming up the English Channel. On Apr 28 Dungeness reported a total of 7317 falling back to 2450 on Apr 29 and 1151 on Apr 30. Just to show that it was not just Barwits that were on the move the Dungeness website entry for Apr 30 included ...

"Preliminary totals include two Black-throated Divers, five Gadwall, two Pintails, 32 Shoveler, five Velvet Scoters, a Long-tailed Duck, two Goosanders, 193 Grey Plover, 97 Knot, 1151 Bar-tailed Godwits, 128 Whimbrel, singles of Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, 79 Pomarine Skuas, 18 Arctic Skuas, six Great Skua, seven Mediterranean Gulls, 110 Little Terns, 50 Arctic Terns and three Black Terns."

Marsh Sandpiper: Not yet reported in England, but one to look out for, was a single Marsh Sandpiper seen in Belgium on Apr 30

Wood Sandpiper: Reports this week from Sheppey, Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex, the Kent Stour valley, Blashford Lakes at Ringwood, Christchurch Harbour and the Selsey west fields (on Apr 30 a count of 259 was reported from a Netherlands site)

Common Sandpiper: Reported from at least 10 sites this week including 2 in the Portsmouth docks and 5 at Sandy Point on Hayling.

Pomarine Skua: Dungeness recorded 79 on Apr 30 when Seaford had 63 but coastal sites further west struggled with counts of 7 at Selsey Bill and St Catherine's Point but only 1 at Titchfield Havant

Little Gull: On Apr 25 there were 13 seen in Hayling Bay and on Apr 26 Stokes Bay at Gosport had just 3. Across the Channel the Netherlands had 1498 on Apr 27; 2978 on Apr 28; and 3459 on Apr 29

Little Tern: Just one report from Langstone Harbour of a single bird seen from Farlington Marshes on Apr 26 - plenty of others all along the Channel shore and round into the North Sea

Black Tern: 11 reports from sites along the English Channel shore this week but 7 was the maximum count on our shore compared with 103 at a Netherlands site on Apr 27 and 61 at a French site on Apr 28 (when 3 were inland at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood). Just one report of a single White-winged Black Tern from a Netherlands site on Apr 25

Turtle Dove: On Apr 25 two were heard purring at Marlpit Lane near Funtington in the Chichester area and on that day I heard my first a mile or so to the south in Hambrook village (just east of the Chichester Grain Storage site). At least one was back at Martin Down in the west of Hampshire on Apr 20.

Tawny Owl: First report of owlets out of the nest comes from Hythe on Southampton Water on Apr 24

Long-eared Owl: An unexpected report of one at Portland on Apr 30 while Short-eared have been seen at seven coastal sites (including Farlington Marshes) this week

Nightjar: First report of churring comes from Devon on Apr 28

Swift: A major arrival in mid-week brought reports of 38 in the Romsey area on Apr 26 and 16 over the Blashford Lakes on Apr 27 (when one Netherlands site had a count of 305). On Apr 30 there were reports of 51 over Portsdown Hill and 75 at Christchurch Harbour (and 8277 at a Netherlands site)

House Martin: Plenty of Swallows now back with us but House Martins are still in short supply. Locally three pairs were back at the six nest boxes provided by Tony Tupper on his house near the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park (Havant area) on Apr 24 and on Apr 30 John Chapman reported a dozen birds over the Hayling Bay shore (of the 34 reports I have noted this spring this count was only beaten by one of 20 birds in Devon on Mar 31 and equals one of 12 birds near Crowborough on Apr 2)

Yellow Wagtail: Still few and far between with a maximum count of 16+ in north Kent on Apr 23 followed by a count of 14 at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 25 (on Apr 24 there was a Citrine Wagtail in Norfolk)

Waxwing: Still 11 in the Poole area of Dorset on Apr 26 but nothing since then

Nightingale: This continues to be a bumper year for the species and on Apr 25 we even had one singing on the Langstone South Moors as it paused to recover its composure before flying on to a breeding site

Savi's Warbler: This week one has been heard reeling at Slapton Ley in Devon from Apr 24 to 27 at least

Subalpine Warbler: What was probable the bird ringed at Portland Bill on Apr 24 decided to stay on in the area and was seen again on Apr 27 at the south end of Tavern Lawns opposite The Nothe Tavern at The Nothe, Weymouth

Willow Warbler: A big surge of these arrived this week - totals at Portland were 200 on Apr 27 and an estimated 300 on Apr 30

Spotted Flycatcher: Since the first reached us on Apr 22 (near Basingstoke in Hampshire) there have been eight more reports, all in Dorset and Devon

Golden Oriole: These have been reported since Apr 12 (mostly in the Scillies but there was one in Sussex on Apr 19). This week Devon had its second with a report of a male singing at Berry Head in Devon on Apr 29

Woodchat Shrike: On Apr 28 a female was found at Prawle in Devon (no recent news from the Scillies where up to 5 have been seen earlier this month)

Crossbill: Reports of 13 in the Thanet area of Kent on Apr 27 and 32 at Dungeness on Apr 30 might be signs that these early breeding birds are planning an invasion of this country from European breeding sites

Escapees: This week we have reports of a male Peacock at the Isle of Wight Brading RSPB site and of Japanese Quail found in a Midhurst town garden

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Vagrant Emperor: After a 'probable' report of one at Portland on Apr 23 we now have sightings of this sub-Saharan species from The Lizard in Cornwall, Dungeness and Folkestone in Kent and Christchurch in Dorset. The Dungeness sighting was seen on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation website which added news that there had already been an invasion of this insects in France but I still have not discovered if the invaders have actually come from south of the Sahara or from colonies that the species has recently established north of the desert.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea): First report of this species comes from Mill Hill at Shoreham on Apr 26

Four-spotted Chaser: A report from Fort Purbook on Portsdown (on Apr 25) must have been of a newly emerged insect on its pre-breeding fly-around which can take dragonflies to places they would never otherwise visit

Also seen again this week have been Hairy Dragonfly, Broad-bodied Chaser, Large Red Damsel, Blue-tailed Damsel, Common and Azure Damsels plus a Variable Damsel seen in Kent (Thanet)

Butterflies

Species reported in previous weeks and seen again this week are:

Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Continental Swallowtail (in the Netherlands and Belgium), Wood White, Clouded Yellow (now seen as far west as Portland and Devon), Brimstone, Large, Small and Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Large Tortoiseshell (one seen in the Netherlands after reports from the Isle of Wight on Mar 14 and Bentley Wood near Stockbridge on Apr 6), Peacock, Comma, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown and Small Heath.

New species were:

Small Blue: First seen at Martin Down on Apr 23, then on Portsdown on Apr 25 and on Kithurst Hill above Storrington on Apr 28.

Brown Argus: First was on Levin Down near Midhurst on Apr 24 with eight at Bonchurch (IoW) on Apr 25 followed by Butser Hill (Hants) and Kithurst Hill (Sussex) on Apr 29

Adonis Blue: First at both Mill Hill (Shoreham) and Durlston on Apr 26 followed by Bonchurch (IoW) on Apr 29

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary: Seen at Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne on Apr 28

Marsh Fritillary: Second hand news that these were flying in Somerset on Apr 27 (normally expected in the second week of May)

Glanville Fritillary: First seen in the Ventnor area (IoW) on Apr 23

Marbled White: Reportedly seen on the Sussex Downs near Lewes on Apr 27 (the very early Gatekeeper reported at Folkestone on Apr 22 did not figure again this week - possibly a misidentification of a Wall Brown or even a Small Heath?)

Moths

Adela reaumurella Longhorn Moths: After a first report from Emsworth last week I found the species in Havant on Apr 25 when 'hundreds' were seen at Park Corner Heath in the Eastbourne area with subsequent reports from two sites on the Sussex Downs

Elachista biatomella: One found at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24 was said to be the first recorded in West Sussex for 100 years

Esperia sulphurella: First in Thanet on Apr 25

Plum Fruit Moth (Grapholita funebrana): First in Thanet on Apr 23

Peach Blossom (Thyatira batis): First at Cuckfield (Haywards Heath area) on Apr 26

Maiden's Blush (Cyclophora punctaria): First in Thanet on Apr 24

Flame Carpet (Xanthorhoe designata): First in Thanet on Apr 25

Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata): First in Thanet on Apr 24

Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata): First at Noar Hill near Petersfield on Apr 25

Galium Carpet (Epirrhoe galiata): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata): First at Thanet on Apr 24

The Fern (Horisme tersata): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

Lesser Treble-bar (Aplocera efformata): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata): First at St Leaonard's Forest near Horsham on Apr 24

Lime Hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae): First at Portslade (Brighton) on Apr 24

Puss Moth (Cerura vinula): First in Thanet on Apr 23

Pebble Prominent (Eligmodonta ziczac): First in Thanet on Apr 24

Great Prominent (Peridea anceps): First at Cuckfield (Haywards Heath area) onApr 26

Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina): First at Portslade (Brighton) on Apr 24

Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina): First at Cuckfield (Haywards Heath area) on Apr 26

Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula): First in the West Town area of Hayling Island on Apr 16

Garden Tiger (Arctia caja): First at Ventnor (IoW) on Apr 25

Light Feathered Rustic (Agrotis cinerea): First at Durlston on Apr 29

Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis): First at Portslade (Brighton) on Apr 24

The Shears (Hada nana): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

Light Brocade (Lacanobia w-latinum): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

Broad-barred White (Hecatera bicolorata): First in Thanet on Apr 28

Toadflax Brocade (Calophasia lunula): First on Thanet on Apr 25

Reed Dagger (Simyra albovenosa): First seen as a migrant in Thanet on Apr 24

The Coronet (Craniophora ligustri): First at Cuckfield (Haywards Heath area) on Apr 26

Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata): First at Cuckfield (Haywards Heath area) on Apr 26

Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

The Spectacle (Abrostola triplasia): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 24

Mother Shipton (Callistege mi): First on Butser Hill (Petersfield) on Apr 29

Other Insects

Hemyda vittata: This very uncommon Tachinid fly was found by Gordon Jarvis at Peasmarsh in East Sussex on Apr 28. The species was new to Britain in the 1950s and is a parasitoid of small bugs. In reporting it on the Rye Bay website Chris Bentley commented that its life style is a dangerous one - he says he has heard of one of these flies being devoured by the bug in whose abdomen it had been developing and from which it had emerged while the bug was still alive.

Dance Fly (Empis tessellata): A new species for me equipped with a dagger like proboscis used both for sucking the juices out of small insects as a first course, then taking up nectar from flowers for dessert - reported at Rye Harbour on Apr 26

Syrphus ribesii Hoverfly: First report from Thanet on Apr 24

Helophilus pendulus Hoverfly: First report from Thanet on Apr 24

Myathropa florea Hoverfly: First report from Thanet on Apr 24

Epistrophe eligans Hoverfly: First report from Thanet on Apr 4

Amblyteles armatorius Ichneumon: First report from Thanet on Apr 24

Dolichovespula media Wasp: This large 'German Wasp' found in Sussex by Graeme Lyons on Apr 24

Andrena nitida Mining Bee: A 'new to me' species reported by Graeme Lyons on Apr 26

Mason Bee (Osmia bicolor): First report from Kingston near Lewes on Apr 25

Ground Beetle Leistus fulvibarbi: Seen by Graeme Lyons at Dungeness on Apr 25

Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha): First reported by George Spraggs at Hayling West Town on Apr 15

Helops caeruleus Darkling Beetle: Reported at Rye Harbour onApr 26

Cepero's Groundhopper (Tetrix cepero): Reported at Dungeness on Apr 25

European Turtle Bug (Podops inuncta): Reported at Rye Harbour on Apr 26

Denticulate Leather Shieldbug (Coriomeris denticulatus): Found at Kingston near Lewes on Apr 25

Segestria florentina Spider: See http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-04-24T13%3A30%3A00%2B01%3A00&max-results=7 for pictures of this fearsome spider found by Graeme Lyons in old walls at Chichester. In the same post Graeme writes of finding two other impressive spiders at the same place but while I have heard of one of them (Steatoda nobilis) the name he uses for the second (Armadillidium depressum) is the name for the Southern Pill Woodlouse - some mistake here

Four-jawed Spider (Tetragnatha extensa): This more common species was seen in Thanet on Apr 24 along with a species that I am not familiar with called Anelosimus vittatus which you can discover at http://www.stevehopkin.co.uk/cornishspiders/042ANEvit/

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Wild Radish: My first find of this for the year was in an arable field near Funtington on Apr 25

Red Campion: First flowers to be seen in the wild by myself were found on Apr 25

Ragged Robin: First flowers reported at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 26

Small-flowered Cranesbill: First flowers seen in Havant on Apr 30

Cut leaved Cranesbill: First flowers by the roadside at Broadmarsh in Havant on Apr 27

Horseshoe Vetch: First flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 29

Kidney Vetch: First flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 30

Dog Rose: First flowers seen on Thorney Island on Apr 25

Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa): These semi-wild plants started to flower on Apr 25

Dewberry: The large white flowers of this first Bramble were first seen at Hambrook near Chichester on Apr 25

Silverweed: First flowers seen at Broadmarsh by Langstone Harbour on Apr 27

Common Nettle: The first tassel flowers seen on Apr 25

Pignut: First flowers found in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth by Brian Fellows on Apr 28

Yellow Pimpernel: First flowers found in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 25

Purple Toadflax: Flowering in Havant on Apr 30

Heath Speedwell: First flowers in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 25

Wall Speedwell: First flowers seen in Havant on Apr 30

Eyebright: First flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 29

Wood Sage: First flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 27

Hoary Plantain: First flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 25

Elder: First fully open flowers seen at Hambrook near Chichester on Apr 25

Perennial Cornflower: First flowers in my Havant garden on Apr 25

Cornflower: Wildflower seed plants in Havant cemetery started to flower on Apr 25

Cat's Ear: First flower found at Broadmarsh (Havant) on Apr 27

Rough Hawkbit: First flowers open in Havant cemetery on Apr 25

Beaked Hawksbeard: First flowers open in Havant cemetery on Apr 25

Mouse-ear Hawkeed: Reported flowering at Durlston on Apr 26

Yellow Iris: After an isolated early flowering plant had been seen on Apr 7 general flowering began on Apr 27

OTHER WILDLIFE

Stoat: The warden of the Elmley Marshes RSPB site on Sheppey smelt burning as he got out of his little used car on Apr 26 and on lifting the bonnet he found the source of the smell in a some padding which had fallen onto the hot engine - luckily it had not ignited and after he had removed it he checked the engine compartment, finding a rabbit's skull and other left overs indicating that a Stoat had been using the engine compartment as a dining room in which it thought it would be safe from disturbance. Luckily the Stoat seems to have been out hunting for its next meal when the vehicle was started up.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A pod of around ten was seen off Christchurch Harbour on Apr 25

Basking Shark: One was seen off the Kent coast at Folkestone on Apr 28 (I think they are unusual so far east in the channel)

Water Vole: I am aware that Water Shrews can be found far from water but I was not aware of Water Voles living away from running water until this week when the Rye Bay website quoted an email from Dave Bunney, a resident at Dungeness, who said .. "I realised a Water Vole was coming to the pond in my wildlife garden at Dungeness, but capturing it on camera proved impossible, so we bought a Bushnell camera trap, and straight away got these images. The Vole has several holes around the pond, I think the pond attracted him because of the vegetation around it and I have an open compost heap with lots of vegetable peelings right next to the pond, although it can attract undesirables such as a Brown Rat a few years ago. I don’t know if many people have any records of Water Voles in their garden." .. This email does not indicate how the Vole might have reached the pond and this raises another question as to how far a Water Vole is prepared to travel across dry land. If the house was one of those strung out along the shore from the Dungeness village pub ('The Pilot' near the Lifeboat station) down to the Lighthouse and Power Station it would seem that this Vole must either have crossed a minimum of 500 metres of dry shingle from the nearest fresh water on its own feet or been transported by 'other means'.

Black Common Seal: See my diary for Apr 27 for the story of someone swimming near the entrance to Chichester Harbour who found a metre long, all black, Common Seal pup 'breathing down his neck' and follow the link to the BBC Wales video of a similar black seal pup being cared for at a Seal rescue centre

Hedgehog babies: Also in that Apr 27 diary entry is the unconfirmed report of baby Hedgehogs 'squeaking' in a Hayling garden. Available information on when baby Hedgehogs are born tells me that they should not be born until early May but I got the same information regarding the appearance of Seal pups and it is clear that they have been 'out' for a couple of weeks or so.

Hybrid Newts: Brian Banks recently found a newt showing features of both Smooth and Palmate species and he suggests that if more people looked carefully at the newts in their ponds more hybrids could be found. Take a look at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2011/04/27/another-smooth-x-palmate-newt-hybrid/#more-14816 for Brian's entry for Apr 27 which has a photo taken at Staplehurst (south of Maidstone in Kent) and his comments on the features indicating hybridisation.

Fungi: Back on Apr 2 I found early examples of St George's Mushrooms here in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Apr 2 and shortly after that some small specimens appeared in my own garden. This week another visit to the Havant cemetery on Apr 25 gave me a much better timed 'fairy ring' of more than 20 large specimens which must have been out on Apr 23 to celebrate their patron saints day


Wildlife diary and news for Apr 18 - 24 (Week 16 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Slavonian Grebe: One was seen at Castle Water (Rye Harbour) in full breeding finery on Apr 17 and maybe the same bird was off Folkestone on Apr 19

Bittern: Reports of 'booming' this week come from the Stour Valley and Dungeness RSPB reserve in Kent and also from the Walland Marsh area near Rye

Night Heron: One has been at the Stour Valley nature reserve in the Eynesbury area of Bournemouth from Apr 17 to 23 at least. There have been no reports of the West Bexington bird since Apr 18 but it may have moved to the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood where there was 'probable' sighting on Apr 23. Tony Tindale from Fareham saw the Bournemouth bird on Apr 22 and you can see his photo of it at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/20322/Black-crowned+Night-heron+on+the+River+Stour%2C+Dorset.html

Little Egret: A dusk visit to Langstone Pond on Apr 20 showed me at least 12 Egrets are now on nests there

Purple Heron: No reports of the Sussex Ouse bird since Apr 16 but there was still at least one in Cornwall (Falmouth) on Apr 22 and a flock of 18 at a Netherlands site on Apr 19 shows potential for more arrivals in southern England

Black Stork: The New Forest bird was still being seen on Apr 22

Brent Goose: Still a few moving along the south coast - on Apr 19 Seaford had 117 and on Apr 22 there were 39 there

Pale Bellied Brent: Last reports that I am aware of were on Apr 17 when there were more than 150 in the Exe estuary and 31 in Weymouth Bay

Teal: A duckling was seen with its mother on the Scillies on Apr 18 (no doubt there are others in most southern counties)

Mallard: Ducklings were seen on Langstone Pond and the Westbrook in Emsworth this week (first ducklings were at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 5)

Honey Buzzard: Reports this week from Weir Wood in north Sussex, Fishlake Meadows at Romsey as well as the New Forest

Hen Harrier: On Apr 18 a female was reported twice perching in trees in the Langstone area to escape mobbing by gulls and crows but I think this would be unusual behaviour for a Harrier (which normally nests and roosts on the ground) and the presence of a Harrier along the Hayling Billy old rail track in the Langstone village area would also be unusual. Without having seen the bird I tend to think that it was more likely to have been a Buzzard

Montagu's Harrier: In addition to sightings in Cornwall this week a male was at Dungeness on Apr 17 and another(?) in the Thanet area on Apr 21

Sparrowhawk: I was surprised by the number passing through the Netherlands this week (27 on Apr 18, 50 on Apr 19, 59 on Apr 20 and 93 on Apr 23)

Buzzard: Also still on passage over the Netherlands were 122 Buzzards on Apr 20

Osprey: These are still passing through the Havant area - on Apr 17 one was fishing in Tipner Lake beside the M275 and another was at the Blashford Lakes while a third was at Aresford Pond near Winchester. On Apr 19 one was over Stokes Bay at Gosport and on Apr 22 one was eating a fish on Pilsey Sands in Chichester Harbour

Kestrel: Also moving over the Netherlands were 43 Kestrels on Apr 19 and 50 on Apr 23

Red-footed Falcon: One had been seen in Lincolnshire on Apr 6 but the next two reports came this week with one in Devon on Apr 22 and 2 over the Netherlands on Apr 23

Hobby: This year saw a very early bird at Arne in Dorset on Mar 23 with another in the Test valley on Mar 31. I now have 35 reports from all along the south coast

Corncrake: First report of the year is a 'possible' at West Bexington in Dorset on Apr 22

Black-winged Stilt: Following the first for the year (a pair in Lancashire on Apr 15) a pair has been seen at Bude in Cornwall on Apr 17 and another in Belgium on Apr 22

Kentish Plover: First for the year was seen in Belgium on Apr 20 followed by one (probable only) at Pegwell Bay in Kent on Apr 21

Dotterel: On Apr 19 the RBA website mentioned that there were 22 Dotterel in England but I have no idea where they were seen or if they were a single flock. What I do know is that the Trektellen website is reporting a total of 22 seen at three sites on the near continent since Apr 19.

Woodcock: Three were seen roding in Ashdown Forest on Apr 2 and now I see a second report of one bird roding at the Flexford nature reserve (Chandlers Ford near Eastleigh) on Apr 23

Bar-tailed Godwit: It seems that their spring passage up the English Channel is getting under way with 21 passing Splash Point at Seaford on Apr 19 and 69 passing Portland on Apr 22

Whimbrel: These are now well into their spring passage with many reports including 395 passing Splash Point on Apr 22 and 256 off Portland that day. Dungeness had 188 on Apr 19

Lesser Yellowlegs: First report for this year is of one at Shapwick in Somerset on Apr 20

Pomarine Skua: Spring passage through the Channel got under way this week with two passing Dungeness on Apr 18 and three there on Apr 19 when one was seen at Selsey. Splash Point had its first on Apr 22

Little Gull: Splash Point had 41 on Apr 19 when Dungeness had 20, Sandy Point on Hayling had 16, Selsey Bill had 10 and Stokes Bay had 6. As usual these birds prefer the other side of the Channel and the Netherlands had 492 on Apr 19 increasing to 1093 on Apr 21, 2205 on Apr 22 and 1996 on Apr 23

Iceland Gull: Apr 23 brought reports of three different birds on the Sussex coast - a first summer was reported at Selsey, an adult at Worthing and a second year bird at Spalsh Point

Roseate Tern: First for the year were 2 at Stokes Bay (Gosport) on Apr 17 and another (probable) was there on Apr 22

Arctic Tern: Apr 19 brought the first of year sightings to both Stokes Bay and Splash Point. Lymington then had a couple on Apr 21 but Stokes Bay reported 30 on Apr 22

Little Tern: Still no reports from Langstone Harbour but Chichester Harbour had 5 on Apr 20 and plenty have passed our Solent Harbours by (Dungeness had 41 as early as Apr 19)

Black Tern: These have been in the Channel since Apr 9 and this week the Netherlands had 183 on Apr 19, 429 on Apr 20 and 281 on Apr 21. No English site has had more than 5 birds in a day so far but Sandy Point on Hayling has had 1 and Lymington 2 (both on Apr 22)

Guillemot: There are now at least 250 on the Durlston breeding ledges and the first eggs were seen there on Apr 24

Nightjar: First for the year was in the Poole area of Dorset at Broadstone on Apr 20 and on Apr 22 three birds were seen at somewhere called 'Gus Common' which I have so far failed to track down (probably also in east Dorset)

Swift: I now have 27 reports of Swifts covering all the south coast counties but they are still thin 'on the ground' (perhaps in the air is better!). Cornwall had a Pallid Swift on Apr 8 and now reports two Little Swifts on Apr 21

Bee Eater: Reports of these are no longer confined to the Scillies - Devon had one on Apr 19 and Dorset on Apr 21 with 5 over Kent on Apr 22

Red-rumped Swallow: Single birds were in both Sussex and Dorset this week

House Martin: On Apr 20 some were collecting mud from the Otter estuary in Devon and on Apr 22 a group of 11 were seen at Laughton near Seaford in Sussex

Yellow Wagtail: On Apr 23 at least two seen at Reculver on the north Kent coast were described as 'Channel Wagtails' which are hybrids between our Yellow Wagtail and the continental Blue-headed Wagtail. These can be picked out by having a combination of blue crown and white throat

Waxwing: No reports since Apr 18 when 14 birds were still in the Poole (Dorset) area.

Subalpine Warbler: One was caught and ringed on Portland in Apr 24

Sardinian Warbler: One was singing at Orcombe Point in the Exmouth area of Devon on Apr 20

Spotted Flycatcher: First of the year was in the Candover Valley (south of Basingstoke) on Apr 22 and the second was seen at Portland on Apr 23

Willow Tit: On Apr 19 there were two independent reports of one seen and heard singing in Old Down Wood (SU 6533) between Four Marks and Ropley in east Hampshire

Golden Oriole: Now four reports - on Apr 12 one was in Devon, on Apr 16 a male was in the Scillies, on Apr 19 a male was near Beddingham in the Adur valley (west Sussex) and on Apr 20 the Scillies bird was seen again

Red-backed Shrike: After an isolated report of one in the Scillies on Mar 24 there is now another sighting on Apr 18 of a male perched on a pontoon in the Chichester Channel off the Chichester marina at Birdham

Woodchat Shrike: I now have 26 reports of this species, nearly all of them in the Scillies where a maximum of 5 were recorded on Apr 16 and at least one was still present on Apr 20

Corn Bunting: I have not heard of any in Hampshire since Apr 4 when a couple were at Martin Down on the Hampshire border south of Salisbury but on Apr 22 Brian Fellows found one at a regular site only a few miles into West Sussex from Emsworth - it was singing from a tree beside the highest section of Hare's Lane which runs from Racton in the Ems valley to Funtington

Escapees: It is possible that there has been a mass breakout from captivity by Crimson Rosella parrots of Australian origin. One of these was at Dungeness from Apr 9 to 11 but this week there have been reports of the species from Bockhill (south Foreland in Kent) on Apr 17, Belle Tout wood on Beachy Head on Apr 21, Sandwich Bay on Apr 22, and I even heard a report on Radio 4 of one having been recently captured and being kept in a cage in the hope of re-uniting it with its owner (I didn't catch the location of this one)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Vagrant Emperor (Hemianax ephippiger): There is a possibility that a distantly seen dragonfly at Portland on Apr 23 was of this species and may have come from sub-Saharan Africa. All parts of that statement are open to question as insects of this species do not normally arrive from Africa until August but I think the species may now have established colonies north of the Sahara with different timing to it's life cycle.

Hairy Dragonfly: First report for the year from Rye Harbour on Apr 19 but some must have emerged earlier for the females to be ready for egg-laying which was seen on Apr 21. This species was seen on Apr 23 at both Reculver in Kent and the Thorney Little Deeps

Broad-bodied Chaser: After the appearance of this species in Devon on Apr 16 it was seen again in Devon on Apr 19

Large Red Damselfly: Now being widely reported (first emerged Apr 7)

Blue-tailed Damselfly: Out at Rye Harbour on Apr 23

Common Blue Damselfly: Out at Rye Harbour on Apr 21

Variable Damselfly: First seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 23

Butterflies

Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper: Not new

Swallowtail: Seen in the Netherlands on Apr 23

Wood White: First seen on Apr 18 (male at Plaistow near Horsham)

Clouded Yellow: First two presumed migrants at Beachy Head and Newhaven on Apr 22

Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma and Speckled Wood - all seen but not new

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: First seen in Rewell Wood near Arundel on Apr 17 and subsequently at other Sussex and New Forest sites

Wall Brown: Seen in the Eastbourne and Folkestone areas on Apr 22 and at Portland on Apr 23

Gatekeeper: One seen at Folkestone on Apr 22

Small Heath: Seen on Malling Down near Lewes on Apr 19 and at Folkestone on Apr 22. For a new tentative theory of a seven year cycle (five poor years followed by two good years) governing the numbers of this species see http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4270

Moths

Phylloporia bistrigella: First in Thanet on Apr 21

Nematopogon swammerdamella: First in Rewell Wood (Arundel) on Apr 19

Nemophora degeerella: Possible id for Longhorn moths seen near Alresford onApr 18

Adela reaumurella: First in Rewell Wood (Arundel) on Apr 17

Caloptilia leucapennella: First in Thanet on Apr 20

Zelleria hepariella: First in Thanet on Apr 19

Brown House-moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Small Purple Flat-body (Agonopterix purpurea): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Agonopterix rotundella: First in Thanet on Apr 19

Garden Cosmet (Mompha subbistrigella): First in Thanet on Apr 20

Eudonia angustea: First in Thanet on Apr 20

Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Poplar Lutestring (Tethea or): First in Thanet on Apr 20

Frosted Green (Polyploca ridens): First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 19

Blair's Mocha (Cyclophora puppillaria): First at Pagham Harbour on Apr 22

Lead Belle (Scotopteryx mucronata): First in the New Forest on Apr 22

Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata): First in Thanet on Apr 18

Grey Pine Carpet (Thera obeliscata): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Currant Pug (Eupithecia assimilata): First at Portland on Apr 22

Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata): First in Thanet on Apr 21

Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata): First in Thanet on Apr 19

The Seraphim (Lobophora laterata): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Yellow-barred Brindle (Acasis viretata): First in Thanet on Apr 20

Scorched carpet (Ligdia adustata): First at Durlston on Apr 20

Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia): First at Rewell Wood (Arudel) on Apr 17

Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius): First at Lewes on Apr 22

Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula): First in Thanet on Apr 18

Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa): First in Thanet on Apr 20

Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae): First in Eastbourne area on Apr 22

Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea): First in Thanet on Apr 19

The Campion (Hadena rivularis): First in Rye area on Apr 19

Chamomile Shark (Cucullia chamomillae): First in Thanet on Apr 19

Poplar Grey (Acronicta megacephala): First in Thanet on Apr 22

Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis): First in Thanet on Apr 22

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 16

Other Insects

Oak Apple gall wasp (Biorhiza pallida): First Oak Applea in Havant Thicket on Apr 18

Hornet: First sighting of a Queen at Langstone on Apr 18 with two more seen in Sussex on Apr 22

Minotaur Beetle (Typhaeus typhoeus): First seen at Rye Harbour on Apr 20

Dock Leaf Bug (Coreus marginatus): Probable id of many beetles seen on Nettles at Emsworth on Apr 18

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Adder's Tongue Fern: Photos of a Portsmouth colony on my diary page for Apr 22

Meadow Buttercup: First flowering on Apr 20

Brackish Water-Crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotii): Flowering the Homewell spring pool at Havant on Apr 23

Garden Aquilegia: Seen in Emsworth on Apr 18 but described as Columbine (see my diary page for Apr 22 and http://www.plantpress.com/wildlife/o1113-columbine.php )

Sea sandwort (Honckenya peploides): First flowers at Langstone on Apr 20

Large-flowered Pink-sorrel (Oxalis debilis): Garden escape flowering in Havant on Apr 20

Lesser trefoil (Trifolium dubium): First flowers found at Langstone on Apr 22

Bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus): First flowers found at Langstone on Apr 22

Greater bird's foot trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus): First flowers on Portsdown on Apr 22

Horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa): First flowers at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 17

Wild Plum (Prunus domestica): First flowers seen in Emsworth area on Apr 17 (already mostly over)

Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris): Also flowering in Emsworth Hollybank Woods on Apr 17

Tormentil (Potentilla erecta): First flowers in Havant Thicket on Apr 18

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor ssp. minor): First flowers reported at Durlston on Apr 18

Wood avens (Geum urbanum): First flowers at Emsworth Brook Meadow on Apr 23

Beech (Fagus sylvatica): Trees in full flower at Havant Thicket on Apr 18

Broad leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius): First flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 19

Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis): First flowersat Hayling Oysterbeds on Apr 22 (probably flowering a day or two earlier in Emsworth)

Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor): First flowers at Durlston on Apr 24

Wild Clary (Salvia horminoides): This normally flowers in early June but a report of 'Wild Clay' in flower at Durlston on Apr 24 probably referred to this species

Field forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis): Flowering at Langstone on Apr 22

Common comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Flowering in Emsworth on Apr 20

Ox eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare): In full flower at Havant on Apr 20

Nipplewort (Lapsana communis): First flowers at Emsworth on Apr 23

Prickly sowthistle (Sonchus asper): First flowers open in my Havant garden on Apr 23

Black bryony (Tamus communis): First flowers in Portsmouth on Apr 22

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis): The wild colony in Havant Thicket had started to flower on Apr 18

Wood Sedge (Carex sylvatica): Flowering in Emsworth Hollybank Woods on Apr 17

Distant Sedge (Carex distans): Flowering at Brook Meadow, Emsworth, on Apr 21

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: Cubs will by now be large and hungry so when waiting for the Egrets to come to roost at Langstone pond at dusk on Apr 20 I not only saw the expected male Fox set out on his evening hunt but also, shortly after, he was followed by a Vixen

Dolphins: On Apr 22 around 40 Bottle Nosed Dolphins were seen off Portland and on Apr 13 a much larger group of 177 Common Dolphins were off the Spanish coast

Common Seal: At least five were seen in Langstone Harbour on Apr 18 while on Apr 16 a report from Swalecliffe on the north Kent coast was of a Common Seal pup - this sent me to check on when Common Seal pups are born and I found that they arrive in the period from May to July. Does that mean that the one seen at Swalecliffe was born earlier than usual this year? or that it was nearly a year old but still distinguishable as a pup?

Common Lizard: These are not uncommon but the only views I ever get of them are at best of a tail disappearing into cover as they are very quick to hide when danger threatens. This was not the case with one found by Brian Fellows in Emsworth on Apr 18 - Brian found one on (I think) a roadside pavement and was able to get a photo of it before helping it to safety away from road traffic and human feet. The photo shows that this creature had already lost its tail in some previous encounter with danger but the tail seemed to be re-growing (indicating that the loss was not very recent) leaving me to speculate on the Lizard's. apparent lack of safety consciousness

Basking Shark: The first that I have heard of this summer was off the Lizard in Cornwall on Apr 22


Wildlife diary and news for Apr 11 - 17 (Week 15 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

The highlights below are followed by news of a wider range of species - both parts are arranged in four sections (Birds, Insects, Plants and Other Wildlife)

Highlights

(Skip to Birds)

Bird News highlights

New this week were reports of Night Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork and Glossy Ibis in England.

Little Egrets can now be seen on their nests at Langstone

Big flocks of Pale-bellied Brent moving north through southern England from the Jersey and the French Atlantic coast

First Montagus Harrier back in England

Red Grouse seen on Dartmoor, Black-winged Stilts in Lancashire and a Black Scoter off Northumberland

Little Crake has been showing well at dawn and dusk at Arundel

Black Tern, Little Terns and Wiskered Tern all seen in southern England with Sabine's and Bonaparte's Gulls in Cornwall

Turtle Dove, Swift, Wryneck, Lesser Whitethoat,Whinchat and Golden Oriole have now all arrived in southern England

Savi's Warbler was unexpected at Farlington Marshes as was Great Reed Warbler plus Subalpine Warbler in Cornwall

Woodchat Shrikes arrive as the Great Greys depart

Insect News highlights

Broad-bodied Chaser makes a second dragonfly now on the wing

Home bred Red Admirals, hand reared Pearl-bordered Fritillary and probable migrant Painted Ladies now flying

New moths include the day flying Burnet Companion and Latticed Heath

Link to George Spragg's Blog for good local insect finds

Plant News highlights

Green Hellebore flowering near Walderton in the Ems valley

1000+ Green-winged Orchids now flowering on Sinah Common (Hayling) with plenty of commoner plants

Other Wildlife highlights

Orca (Killer Whale): Although they have a worldwide distribution they are very uncommon in the English Channel so a sighting of four off Dungeness on Apr 9 was the first time I have ever had reason to mention the species

Hare: Did you know that Brown Hare female regularly produce three litters of four leverets each year?

Black Adder and Medicinal Leech: Learn something about both these species through items in this week's news

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Red-throated still being seen all along the south coast this week with a peak of 50 going east off Dungeness on Apr 14. 30 Black-throated were off France that day and by Apr 16 a site in Latvia reported 1400 mixed diver species. Great Northern were still to be seen

Grebes: No Slavonian mentioned in British reports this week but three summer plumaged Black-necked were off Titchfield Haven on Apr 14

Night Heron: Two were in the Scillies on Apr 10 and one was in a private garden at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Apr 15

Little Egret: At least 12 birds were on nests visible from the seawall footpath at Langstone Pond on Apr 16

Purple Heron: One flew in off the sea at Lands End on Apr 2 and the species has been reported in the Scillies and Cornwall since then. Apr 10 brought a surge of more than 18 to the Netherlands and on Apr 15 one was found on the Sussex Ouse at Southease on Apr 15 and was still there on Apr 16 but could not be found on Apr 17

Black Stork: One was seen in the New Forest on Apr 11 and was still there on Apr 16 but had maybe become fed up with being pursued by birders and it has not been reported since then

Glossy Ibis: One had been in southern England in the first half of January but no further sightings after Jan 19 until this week when RBA reported a flock of 8 over Leytonstone in London on Apr 11 (no further news of them)

Spoonbill: On Apr 10 a flock of 107 were seen in the Netherlands and since then what may have been a single bird has been wandering about southern England, seen on Sheppey on Apr 12, at the Posbrook flood at Titchfield on Apr 14 (where it was seen to have a prominent ring marked FJ9) and in the Southampton area (Lower Test and Testwood Lakes) on Apr 16. Also on Apr 16 a different immature bird was seen at Wadebidge in Cornwall where it had been reported on Apr 8

Mute Swan: On Apr 14 the start of a regular summer moult flock was at the Broadmarsh slipway area of Langstone Harbour with 20 birds seen (in past years up to 100 birds have spent several months here). Also that day Brian Fellows saw two eggs in an established nest at the Camber Docks in Portsmouth

Dark Bellied Brent Goose: Small numbers still flying east along the south coast (100 passing Portland on Apr 13; 18 passing St Catherine's Point, IoW, on Apr 14; 11 passing Selsey Bill on Apr 15; 12 passing Gosport on Apr 16)

Pale-bellied Brent: On Apr 14 a flock of 38 seen off Stokes Bay at Gosport (also seen as 34 off Titchfield Haven) were thought to be on their way north after wintering on Jersey. Apr 16 brought two more reports of birds making their way north (probably from the French Atlantic coast) seen at the Exe estuary in Devon (270+ birds) and in Weymouth Bay (214 birds)

Garganey: 15 reports this week probably referred to just over 20 birds, including one at Newton Harbour on the IoW and 4 flying east off Worthing

Long-tailed Duck: Just one was seen off Gosport on Apr 16 when a site in Latvia reported a flock of 3450.

Velvet Scoter: Latvia reported 4000 of these on Apr 16 while Dungeness had 12 on Apr 14 and Christchurch Harbour had 6 on Apr 15

Montagu's Harrier: First of the year was near Hayle on the north coast of Cornwall on Apr 10, and presumably a second bird was at the Lizard on the south coast on Apr 16

Sparrowhawk: For a 40 minute period on Apr 14 motorists on a busy Devon road had to slow down while a Sparrowhawk devoured a Woodpigeon which it had brought down in the centre of the road

Osprey: At least 9 birds reported making their way north this week over sites from Devon to Kent as more Merlin and Hobby arrived from over the Channel

Red Grouse: A few do breed on Dartmoor and a pair were seen there on Apr 16

Little Crake: The bird at the Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site which arrived on Apr 9 was last seen on the evening of Apr 12. Many birders saw the bird lawfully but those reponsible for switching off the electric fence around the site and breaking in at night are to be deplored not only for criminal damage but also for potentially exposing the whole of the wildfowl collection to deadly attacks by Mink and Foxes.

Black-winged Stilt: The first arrivals for the year were two Stilts seen at Martin Mere in Lancashire on Apr 15

Black-tailed Godwit: The birds that fly to Iceland to breed usually leave in the second half of April though they may be off early this year on account of the good weather we have been having. No evidence of departure so far but I have been surprised to see that up to 100 have been feeding on the mud of the River Itchen in 'downtown' Southampton recently. Elsewhere the most recent reports have been of 42 at Titchfield Haven on Apr 15 when 122 were in the Fishbourne Channel at Chichester and, on Apr 16, 150 were in the Hook area at Warsash.

Bar-tailed Godwit: The arrival of 18 in the Hook/Warsash area on Apr 16 may mark the start of their spring movement through the channel

Whimbrel: A count of 65 in th Stokes Bay area at Gosport on Apr 10 (and 26 there on Apr 14) shows that their passage is under way

Spotted Redshank: Still being seen daily - one at the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester was in full summer plumage on Apr 15

Wood Sandpiper: Since the first for the year turned up in Cambridgeshire on Apr 2 there have been reports from the Scillies, the Netherlands, and Brading Marshes on the IoW.

Common Sandpiper: 20 reports since Apr 8 show that migrants are now arriving. Spotting on the plumage of one seen at Weir Wood reservoir in northern Sussex may indicate it was a Spotted Sandpiper.

Med Gull: Looking up this species in Birds of Hampshire (published in 1992) I see that the status is given as "a scarce but regular visitor which has bred". By 2006 Langstone Harbour had 264 breeding pairs with others nesting at Titchfield Haven and Lymington and since then, though the number of pairs in Langstone Harbour may have decreased this is almost certainly due to some of the birds moving east to nest at Rye Harbour where 280 birds were present by Mar 26 and 300+ were reported there on Apr 15. My reason for giving these figures is that on Apr 10 around 150 birds were at Elmley Marshes on Sheppey, said to be twice the number there at the same time in 2010. Not only are total numbers likely to breed in Britain this year likely to be higher than ever but the number of sites where they breed is likely to continue to expand around our coastline.

Sabine's Gull: On Apr 13 a first winter bird was at Hayle on the Cornish north coast

Bonaparte's Gull: On Apr 14 a young bird of this species arrived at Hayle and stayed until at least Apr 16 while another which had turned up at the Otter estuary in south Devon on Apr 13 was still there on Apr 15

Little Tern: I have not yet heard of any within Langstone Harbour but on Apr 15 more than 10 were in the Lymington Hurst beach area and 11 were seen at Selsey Bill

Wiskered Tern: On Apr 10 one was at Elmley on Sheppey and another was in Poole Harbour, then on Apr 14 one was perched on a buoy at Stokes Bay, Gosport. This is a marsh tern species which nests in Spain and France - maybe global warming is urging it to move north?

Black Tern: 26 were at a French site on Apr 10 when one was off Portland Bill

Puffin: One flew east at Selsey Bill on Apr 16

Barbary Dove: On Apr 12 Brian Fellows had what he thought was a very pale coloured Collared Dove in his garden but after investigation he now thinks it may have been a Barbary Dove - I had not previously heard of this species but a Google search quickly told me that I could have one for £10

Turtle Dove: The first normal migrant (excluding the Oriental Turtle Dove still on show at Chipping Norton and the possible wintering bird seen in December and February at Folkestone) was in the Scillies on Apr 9 and another was in the New Forest on Apr 10 followed by one at Bewl Water near Crowborough on Apr 14 and one at Oare Marshes in Kent on Apr 16

Cuckoo: 20 reports this week with a maximum of 4 birds at a New Forest site. Locally one was heard in the Langstone area on Apr 15 but did not stay.

Swift: Singles seen this week at Pett Level and Rye Harbour (same bird?) and at Lodmoor (Weymouth)

Hoopoe: In addition to three or more birds in the Scillies, Cornwall and Devon there have been sightings at Dungeness power station and Arne in Dorset

Wryneck: First for the year was in the Scillies on Apr 1 with sightings in Devon on Apr 4 and Cornwall on Apr 11. Nearer to Havant was one at Cissbury Ring (Worthing) on Apr 8

House Martin: One was inspecting artificial nests on a Leigh Park house on Apr 13 - this will be the 7th year that the nests have been used

Yellow Wagtail: Plenty of reports this week from sites including Lymington, Fareham, Gosport and Chichester but none of goups exceeded 10 birds

Waxwing: Four reports still this week from the Romsey, Eastleigh and Fleet areas in Hampshire and Canford Heath in Dorset. Max counts of 12 and last date was Apr 15

Nightingale: Plenty around this week including one singing at Marlpit Lane near Funtington west of Chichester on Apr 15

Whinchat: First was in the New Forest on Mar 26 and the latest was number 11 for the year at Forton Lake in Gosport on Apr 16

Ring Ouzel: I now have 54 reports for the year including one seen this week at Steyning Round Hill near Worthing which had white spotting on its underparts, possibly making it a southern sub-species Turdus torquatus alpestris

Savi's Warbler: One was singing from reeds at Farlington Marshes on Apr 15

Great Reed Warbler: One in Cornwall on Apr 10 - a Subalpine Warbler was also in Cornwall that day

Lesser Whitethroat: Regular reports of this species since Apr 11

Golden Oriole: Just one report from Devon on Apr 12

Great Grey Shrike: No reports since Apr 10 when one was still in the New Forest

Woodchat Shrike: Since the first report from the Scillies on Apr 4 I have seen 15 reports, the majority from the Scillies and Cornwall with a max count of 3 on Apr 10. One has also been seen in Poole Harbour and another in Essex (this last bird is reported to have been killed after being seen catching Bumble Bees on Apr 12 but I cannot discover the cause of death).

Black Scoter: On Apr 14 RBA announced a sighting off the Northumberland coast and said it was the second for England (there have been others in Wales)

Crimson Rosella: This colourful Australian parrot was seen at Dungeness from Apr 9 to 11 (photos on http://www.dungenessbirdobs.org.uk/lateframe.html )

Golden Eagle: One reported in the Ashdown Forest area on Apr 11

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Broad-bodied Chaser: First to emerge anywhere in Britain were flying at Stover in Devon on Apr 16

Large Red Damselfly: Following the first report from Devon last week (Apr 7) more were seen on Apr 16

Butterflies

Dingy Skipper: More sightings this week but all at Shoreham Mill Hill

Grizzled Skipper: In addition to Shoreham Mill Hill these have been flying at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) since Apr 7 and at Freshwater (Afton Down) on the IoW since Apr 10

Brimstone, Large, Small and Green Veined Whites, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Holly Blue all on the wing during the week

Duke of Burgundy: Still only seen at Noar Hill near Petersfield with a max count of 7 on Apr 15

Red Admiral: The first to emerge from pupation this year flew this week

Painted Lady: Seven more sightings this week were mainly at coastal sites and suggest the arrival of migrants

Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma all on the wing

Pearl Bordered Fritillary: No sightings 'in the wild' so far but a captive bred specimen was flying in the Eastbourne area on Apr 16

Speckled Wood: Now becoming numerous

Moths

Caloptilia syringella: First in Thanet on Apr 11

Semioscopis steinkellneriana: First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Agonopterix ciliella: First in Thanet on Apr 11

Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata): First in Thanet on Apr 15

Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Small Waved Umber (Horisme vitalbata): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Latticed Heath (Semiothisa clathrata): First in Henfield area on Apr 10

Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 11

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica): First at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 8

Other Insects

St Marks Fly: First seen in Thanet on Apr 6 and then in Emsworth on Apr 16

Abia sericea sawfly?: See report and photo on the Rye Bay website for Apr 13 at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/insects/

George Spraggs Havant area finds: See http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm for photos of Green Tiger Beetle, 16 spot Ladybirds, a European Tortoise Bug, a Green Shield Bug and a Common Crab Spider (Xysticus cristatus)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Adder's Tongue Fern: First find at Durlston on Apr 15 - time to check the Farlington Marshes and Hilse Lines local sites

Goldilocks Buttercup: On Apr 12 I found two new sites for this species - see my Diary for details

Green Hellebore: Flowering on Apr 12 beside Woodlands Lane east of Stansted East Park

Greater Celandine: First flowers at Bidbury Mead in Bedhampton on Apr 14

Annual Wall-rocket: First flowers in a Mengham area pavement on Hayling on Apr 15

Wintercress: First flowers in the Stansted area on Apr 12

Eastern Rocket: I had found this flowering at Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Apr 6 but did not take photos until Apr 15 (see my Diary for that day)

Hoary Cress: Starting to flower generally in the Havant area on Apr 14

Field Pansy: First reported in flower on the Sussex Downs on Apr 9

Red Campion: First flower on wildflower seed planting in Havant Cemetery on Apr 11

Sea Campion: Flowering on Sinah Common on Apr 15

Hedgerow Cranesbill: Flowering at Southmoor Lane in Havant on Apr 14

Wood Sorrel: Flowering in Stanuton Country Park on Apr 7

Broom: Flowering at the Broadmarsh road intersection on Apr 14

Red Clover: Flowering at the Broadmarsh road intersection on Apr 14

Common Vetch: Flowering at the Broadmarsh road intersection on Apr 14

Hairy Tare: Starting to flower in Havant on Apr 11

Wild Strawberry: Flowering at Racton in the Ems valley on Apr 12 and in the Emsworth Hollybank Woods on Apr 13

Pellitory of the Wall: Flowering at Bidbury Mead in Bedhampton (Havant) on Apr 14

Horse Chestnut: First flowers seen in Havant on Apr 12. Other trees flowering this week were Sycamore, Field Maple and Pedunculate Oak

Bur Chervil: This umbellifer of sandy soil was flower on Sinah Common on Apr 15

Sorrel: First flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Apr 15 when Sheep Sorrel was also out at Sinah Common

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant: Flowering the Havant Cemetery on Apr 11

Wood Speedwell: Flowering in the Hollybank Woods on Apr 13

Thyme Leaved Speedwell: First flowers found at Marlpit Lane near Funtington on Apr 9

Yellow Archangel: Flowering in Woodlands Lane near Walderton on Apr 12 after the garden cultivar had been seen in the Hollybank Woods on that same day

Bugle: First flowers beside the cycle track at Broadmarsh on Apr 14

Crosswort: First reported flowering at Durlston on Apr 11

Ramsons (Wild Garlic): Flowering at Racton on Apr 12

Orchids: On Apr 15 more than 1000 Green-winged were flowering on Sinah Common and the leaves of Twayblade and Lizard orchids were seen in Kent (Thanet)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Whale: On Apr 13 a pod of 11 (including a calf which at one point jumped out of the water and over one of the adults) was seen off Durlston and on Apr 14 Portland reported a pod of 10 (probably the same animals)

Orca (Killer Whale): This is the largest and probably the most numerous species of Dolphin. It has a worldwide distribution and those who watched the first Springwatch programme on TV this week will know that it is regularly seen off the northern isles of Britain but it seems to be very rare in the English Channel so a pod of four feeding a mile off Dungeness on Apr 9 was the first I have recorded on my website and the species is not listed among the Dolphin species to be found in British waters on the British Marine Life Study Society website at http://www.glaucus.org.uk/

Hare: Michael Prior (Head Forester at Stansted) this week reported the presence of four hares in the Horsepasture Farm fields south of the Stansted Main Avenue (west end) and another three (plus a leveret) in the East Park fields. The finding of a leveret made me search for information on their breeding habits - I had assumed that breeding took place in March or April when females cease to 'box off' the Mad March Male Hares but I see that they in fact breed throughout the year and a healthy female will have three litters of four leverets each year (fertility does not seem to be the cause of the great decline in Hare numbers during my lifetime)

Black Adder: One was seen by several people at Shoreham Mill Hill this week and you can see pictures of it mating with a normal female by visiting Colin Knight's blog at http://colinknight.blogspot.com/ in his Apr 15 entry

Medicinal Leech: If you are interested in these have a look at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2011/04/16/east-guldeford-medicinal-leech/#more-14780 My first introduction to them was in the New Forest but I subsequently found that there is a more local population in the Portsmouth area in Cunigre pond at SU 589053 in the Cams Hall golf course at Fareham (probably accessible without difficulty though it is on private land)


Wildlife diary and news for Apr 4 - 10 (Week 14 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

The highlights below are followed by news of a wider range of species - both parts are arranged in four sections (Birds, Insects, Plants and Other Wildlife)

Highlights

(Skip to Birds)

With the clock showing a few minutes before 1am as I finish writing the main text below I am omitting the highlights sections for this week!

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: All three common species still being seen off our south coast

Grebes: Slavonian and Black Necked still being reported in the south up to Apr 8 with a group of 8 Red-necked off the Netherlands on Apr 8

Shearwaters: Sightings of 100+ Manx Shearwaters from both Devon and Cornwall this week as the birds return to breed

Leach's Petrel: Last week I expressed some disbelief about a report of one in Berkshire on Apr 1 but I have since seen that this bird which turned up at Theale lakes was part of a windblown 'wreck' of these birds and was no April fool's joke

Immature Imperial Shag: Those who like me have been extending their knowledge of south Atlantic bird life by following Steve Copsey on board HMS York as the ship has been heading to the Falklands will have been introduced to this indecent sounding bird this week and despite all the talk about defence cuts we have also been able to share Mark Cutts' shipboard encounters with migrants heading our way as HMS Liverpool has been on patrol on the Mediterranean while at the same time following Tony Tindale monitoring bird populations on Ascension Island. There's never a dull moment on the Three Amigo's blog and as UK Taxpayers who make these birding expeditions possible we might as well get the benefit of their observations and photographs - if you don't have the link among your Favourites it is http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo

Little Egret: Walking with grandchildren around Langstone Pond this afternoon (Apr 10) I was able to see at least half a dozen Egrets already on their nests

Great White Egret: Also on Apr 10 a Great White flew south over Pagham Harbour but continued out to sea

Purple Heron: On Apr 2 18 of these were seen at a Belgian site and may be one that was part of the same northward movement of the species flew in off the sea at Lands End that day and from then until Apr 9 at least there have been daily sightings of the species in both Cornwall and the Scillies

Black Stork: One appeared over the Scillies on Apr 2 may have been seen in Somerset next day and over Southampton on Apr 8 - it may not be the only one in southern England as Apr 8 also brought a report of one over Hythe in Kent

Spoonbill: A group of three were seen in the Lymington area on Apr 2 and Apr 3 when they moved west over Christchurch Harbour and Poole Harbour and perhaps further west to be seen at Wadebridge in Cornwall on Apr 8. What must have been another group of three were over Pagham Harbour on Apr 7. Perhaps it was one of these that flew south west over Thorney Island on Apr 8 to appear over Titchfield Haven on Apr 9 (the Farlington bird has not been reported since Apr 1)

Mute Swan: 172 were counted at Harbridge on the River Avon on Apr 7

Brent Goose: Reports on Apr 2 of 167 east past Seaford and then 169 passing Dungeness that day seemed to mark the final departure of our winter birds. No more reports of them until Apr 10 when a flock of 51 were seen at Weston Shore on Southampton Water.

American Wigeon: One reported at Dawlish Warren in Devon on Apr 7

Mallard Ducklings: The duckling season has now begun with a family of 9 at Pulborough Brooks on Apr 5, one of 10 ducklings at the Leigh Park Gardens lake in Havant on Apr 7 and another of 6 ducklings on the Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne on the same day

Garganey: Between Apr 2 and Apr 8 there were sightings at the Exe estuary in Devon, Christchurch Harbour, Titchfield Haven, Lewes Brooks, Dungeness and Sandwich Bay. On Apr 9 a flock of 18 were seen at Cap Gris-nez in France

Marsh Harrier: Of local interest among several reports of Harrier species this week was a sighting of both Marsh and Hen Harrier hunting over the east end of the Thorney Deeps on Apr 8

Osprey: 16 reports of birds heading north this week - the one that caught my eye was of an Osprey over Chichester on Apr 6 which was 'seen off' by the Peregrines nesting on the Cathedral

Hobby: The first to arrive was seen at Arne in Dorset on Mar 23 and I now have 11 reports including two in Hampshire (an early bird in the Southampton Test area on Mar 31 and another over the Blashford Lakes on Apr 6)

Red-legged Partridge: These have a habit of turning up in unexpected places but the most unusual I have heard of came this week when a birder watching an Eider off the north kent coast at Seasalter was surprised when a Red-leg Partridge flew into the same field of view and promptly fell into the sea and drowned.

Spotted Crake: One seen in Warwickshire on Apr 5 and 6

Little Crake: One was picked out by a visitor to the Arundel Wetlands Centre on Saturday Apr 9 and when the photo of it was seen by the staff they arranged to extend their opening time on Sunday to 8pm - a good many people paid the £10-30 admission to see it and were not disappointed on Apr 10

Purple Sandpiper: 15 were seen at Southsea Castle on Apr 4 and 17 were at Start Point in Devon on Apr 5

Woodcock: First roding flights seen at Ashdown Forest on Apr 2

Whimbrel: Spring passage now getting under way - first passage birds seen around Mar 20 but the highest count so far has been just 11 at Lymington on Apr 8

Wood Sandpiper: Lee Evans reported the first of the year in Cambridgeshire on Apr 2 and so far the only other report I have seen is of 3 at a Netherlands site on Apr 9.

Gull-billed Tern: One has been at Sennen near Lands End from Apr 6 to 9 at least

Sandwich Tern: These started to move up the English Channel in mid February and counts began to exceed 100 by mid March but they only started to move into Langstone Harbour on Apr 4 and into Portsmouth Harbour on Apr 5

Common Tern: One was over Ivy Lake at Chichester on Apr 5 and the count of Commic Terns at Selsey Bill reached 135 on Apr 10

Little Tern: First of the year was at Dungeness on Apr 2. Locally two were over Pilsey in Chichester Harbour on Apr 8 and counts of birds flying east at Selsey Bill were 2 on Apr 9 and 5 on Apr 10

Wiskered Tern: One was in the Western Isles of Scotland on Apr 5

Black Tern: Apr 9 brought four birds into the Exe estuary in Devon and reports of one at Cap Gris-nez plus three off the Netherlands

Cuckoo: The first was heard near Hastings on Mar 30 and I now have 14 reports including one of three birds in Ashdown Forest on Apr 6 and 2 at Acres Down in the New Forest on Apr 8 but I fear that the ongoing decline in Cuckoo numbers is unlikely to be reversed this year

Swift: Cliff Dean from Pett in East Sussex was on a train near Shoreham in West Sussex when he saw the first of the year on Apr 5. Two more were seen at Sennen near Lands End on Apr 8, and on Apr 9 one was over Pulborough Brooks (with three more over the Netherlands)

Pallid Swift: One was over Dungeness on Apr 5 (and reported again on Apr 6) followed by a 'possible' sighting at Sennen in Cornwall on Apr 8

Alpine Swift: One reported over Norfolk on Apr 2 when another was reported over Belgium. On Apr 3 there was one in Yorkshire

Bee Eater: First was at Fowey in Cornwall on Apr 2 when another was seen in the Scillies and on Apr 3 there was a sighting over the Lizard (plus one in Norfolk). Still in Cornwall were sightings over the Lizard and then Lands End on Apr 7 and 8

Hoopoe: Between Mar 6 and Apr 9 I have picked up 53 reports, all of single Hoopoes, from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Scillies plus the Crondall village area in north Hampshire and a couple of isolated sightings at Castle Hill north of Newhaven on Apr 2 and the Paulsgrove chalk pit at Portsmouth on Apr 7

Wryneck: Between Apr 1 (when one turned up on the Scillies) and Apr 8 (when one was at Cissbury Ring near Worthing) one was also seen on the edge of Dartmoor plus another in the Netherlands

Short-toed Lark: One was present on Portland from Apr 3 to Apr 8 and on Apr 9 there was a sighting in Cornwall which was probably a different bird

Red-rumped Swallow: Apr 2 brought reports from The Lizard and from Ireland, then on Apr 4 one was in the Wareham area of Dorset and on Apr 8 one was over Portland (spotted by Joe Stockwell from Andover though Martin Cade thought Joe was asleep in an armchair when he called the sighting!)

House Martin: Still in short supply but by Apr 6 a group of four were back inspecting artificial nestboxes at Ringmer near Lewes

Yellow Wagtail: These have been reaching England since Mar 15 but so far no sighting has been of more than the 18 at Rye Harbour on Apr 5. The first in Hampshire were three at Farlington Marshes on Apr 6 (with one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Apr 7 and one at Lymington on Apr 8 followed by one at Stubbington south of Fareham on Apr 9)

Waxwings: Still hanging on in southern England though some have changed their diet from berries to flower buds. This weeks sightings have been at six Hampshire sites, half a dozen Sussex sites, a couple in Dorset and one in Kent. Poole in Dorset had the highest count with over 100 on Apr 5 but Folkestone had 60, Winchester had 40 and locally there were 28 in Waterlooville and 27 at Denmead. Latest reports were on Apr 9 at Fleet Pond and Bursledon in Hampshire and Canford Heath in Dorset

Nightingale: A wave of reports on Apr 6 shared the honour of first for the year between the Eastbourne area, Pulborough Brooks, Farlington Marshes. On Apr 7 reports came from the north Kent coast and Warsash in Hampshire and on Apr 8 they were heard in the Test valley and at two Dorset sites. With news from some 16 sites by Apr 9 I checked out the Marlpit Lane site near Funtington in Sussex but had no luck

Whinchat: Although there had been singles seen on Mar 26 and 28 (in the New Forest and near Littlehampton) this week has only brought three more reports from Christchurch Harbour on Apr 8 and from Dorset and Cornwall on Apr 9

Ring Ouzel: 16 more sightings this week

Grasshopper Warbler: The first eleven reports for the year were all in this weeks news with the first in Norfolk on Apr 3 and the first in the south on Apr 6 at Ashdown Forest. As well as Sussex they have been heard in Dorset and Kent but not Hampshire nor west of Dorset

Sedge and Reed Warbler: Both are now abundant

Subalpine Warbler: One in Lincolnshire on Apr 3

Sardinian Warbler: One in Norfolk on Apr 7

Lesser Whitethroat: Just two reports so far - first at Titchfield Haven on Apr 8 and second at Christchurch Harbour on Apr 9 (there had also been early reports of a wintering bird at Ramsgate on Jan 28 and of one thought to be of a central Asian race in Ireland on Mar 24 plus an unconfirmed report of one singing on the Isle of Wight on Mar 23)

Common Whitethroat: 28 reports since the first in Sussex on Apr 3

Garden Warbler: Since one was reported on Apr 3 in Cambridgeshire there have been reports from Dorset and the Test valley but I suspect uncertainty over separating their song from that of a Blackcap has deterred many people from claiming this species so far.

Blackcap: Now abundant

Wood Warbler: The first was in Devon (Yarner Wood) on Apr 2 and there have since been reports from the New Forest (Apr 6), Cornwall (Apr 7 and 8), and Christchurch Harbour on Apr 8

Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler: Both now well established

Pied Flycatcher: The first was back at a nest box in Yarner Wood (Devon) on Mar 27 and since then there have been a dozen more reports from Portland and other Dorset sites, Dungeness, Cornwall and Pagham Harbour

Red Backed Shrike: This week has brought a delayed report of one in the Scillies on Mar 24

Woodchat Shrike: First report from the Scillies on Apr 4 and RBA news says that two were somewhere in Britain on Apr 8

Escapees: Helmeted Guineafowl was a new species to me when I saw a report of one in the Exe estuary area on Apr 7 (but Devon Birding indicates that there is a local source of these birds which regularly escape)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Large Red Damselfly: First to fly this year were out on Apr 7 at Rye Harbour and at Chudleigh in Devon

Butterflies

Dingy Skipper: Just one sighting so far at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 8

Grizzled Skipper: First was also at Mill Hill last week on Apr 2 but they have now been seen in Hmpshire at Magdalen Hill Down

Brimstone: Abundant

Large White: After four isolated sightings starting on Mar 11 this species took off with three reports on Apr 6 from Portland, Northington near Winchester and Henfield in Sussex were followed by three more sightings on Apr 7 and 9

Small and Green-veined White: Both species now established

Orange Tip: Now abundant

Green Hairstreak: Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester had the first six out on Apr 7 and one was seen at Cissbury Ring in Sussex on Apr 9

Small Copper: Just one report of two seen at Darwell near Hastings on Apr 7

Holly Blue: Now well established

Duke of Burgundy: Apr 9 brought the first for the year at Noar Hill near Petersfield

Red Admiral: Only three reports this week

Painted Lady: 14 sightings this week, none of them further west than Hampshire, ( and with several migrant moth sightings) suggest that we are now seeing the first migrants of the year

Small Tortoiseshell: Plenty of new reports (one of 50+ insects at the Minster marshes in east Kent)

Large Tortoiseshell: Following a single seen well on the Isle of Wight back on Mar 14 we now have another report of the species at Bentley Wood on the Hants/Wilts border on Apr 6

Peacock and Comma: Both species now well established

Speckled Wood: After six early sightings from Mar 4 there have been regular reports from Apr 5

Moths

Common Oak Purple (Eriocrania subpurpurella): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Caloptilia robustella: First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Caloptilia stigmatella: First report from Thanet on Apr 3

Zelleria hepariella: First report from Thanet on Apr 3

Variable Smudge (Ypsolopha ustella): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Diamond-back moth (Plutella xylostella): First at South Hayling on Mar 28

Pammene argyrana: First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Twenty-plumed moth (Alucita hexadactyla): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Pyrausta purpuralis: First at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 3

Pyrausta nigrata: First at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Apr 3

Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia): First report from Thanet on Apr 7

Yellow Horned (Achlya flavicornis): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Birch Mocha (Cyclophora albipunctata): First report from the Eastbourn area on Apr 8

Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

The V-Pug (Chloroclystis v-ata): First report from Thanet on Apr 8

Early tooth-striped (Trichopteryx carpinata): First at Ashdown Forest on Apr 2

Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria): First at Ashdown Forest on Apr 2

Peppered Moth (Biston betularia): First report from Thanet on Apr 3

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Fifth sighting for the year was of an insect nectariug on the Eastbourne seafront on Apr 3 and this suggests a migrant arrival

Lunar Marbled Brown (Drymonia ruficornis): First at Ashdown Forest on Apr 2

Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica): The first date for this was given last week as Apr 2 but George Spraggs had on on south Hayling on Mar 28

Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum): First at Portland on Apr 4

Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon): This migrant species was first taken at Porland on Feb 10 but has re-appeared there on Apr 4 with a new wave of migrants

Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta): First report from Thanet on Apr 4

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba): An early first migrant at Portland on Apr 4

The Mullein (Cucullia verbasci): First in the Worthing area on Apr 6

Tawny Pinion (Lithophane semibrunnea): The previously given first date of Mar 30 has been ousted by George Spraggs on south Hayling where had one on Mar 24

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa): First at Durlston on Apr 5

Pale Mottled Willow (Caradrina clavipalpis): First report from Thanet on Apr 4

Oak Nycteoline (Nycteola revayana): A first for George Spraggs on south Hayling on Mar 28

Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli): Another first for George Spraggs on south Hayling on Apr 7

The Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix): A first for George Spraggs on south Hayling on Mar 24

Other Insects

St Mark's-fly (Bibio marci): First reported sighting from Thanet on Apr 6

Bee Fly: A lengthy discussion about the egg-laying habits of this insect last week left one feature unresolved - I could find no information about its ovipositor. This week I believe I have seen this 'organ' in a photo taken by Geoge Spraggs of a sleepy insect resting on leaves in the cool of the evening and seemingly 'sitting back' on its ovipositor as one might rest on a shooting stick. See the entry for April 8 on http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm

Violet Oil Beetle: A report of this insect at Durlston on Apr 9 led me to meet up in cyberspace with a well-remembered young naturalist from Hayling Island (John Walters) who has illustrated his account of this oil beetle with his own inimitable drawings on his webpage at http://www.johnwalters.co.uk/notebook/files/VioletOilBeetlesMarch2011.html

Pied Shield Bug: A photo of this species found at Brook Meadow in Emsworth by Brian Fellows on Apr 6 introduced me to a new species - see Brian's diary page for Apr 7 at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm

Wetland Crab Spider: Also to be seen on Brian Fellows diary page for Apr 6 is a Crab Spider which he thinks to be the 'Common Crab Spider' (Xysticus cristatus) but which I think could be elevated in status as a Brook Meadow species to the less common Xysticus ulmi

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Goldilocks Buttercup: Flowering near Pyle Farm at Horndean on Apr 7 (see photo on my Diary page)

Stream Watercrowfoot: Starting flower in the Langbrook Stream at Havant on Apr 4

Common Ramping Fumitory: Flowering on south Hayling on Apr 6 (see photo on my Diary page)

Eastern Rocket: Also first flowers seen on south Hayling on Apr 6

Chalk Milkwort: Flowering reported at Durlston on Apr 4

Spring Beauty: Flowering on south Hayling on Apr 6 (see photo on my Diary page)

Shining Cranesbill: First flowers seen in Pook Lane at Warblington on Apr 8

Dove's Foot Cranesbill: Flowering in the Havant area on Apr 4

Wood Sorrel: Reported flowering in the Staunton Country Park north of Havant on Apr 7

Spring Vetch: Flowers found in the south Hayling sand dunes on Apr 6

Bird Cherry: Flowering in Havant on Apr 4

Salad Burnet: Reported flowering at Durlston on Apr 4

Thrift (Sea Pink): Reported flowering at Durlston on Apr 8

Germander Speedwell: First flowers at Durlston on Apr 7

Thyme-leaved Speedwell: First flowers seen in Marlpit Lane near Funtington on Apr 9

Ribwort Plantain: First flowers in Havant on Apr 4

Tartarian Honeysuckle: The long established bushes near the gravel pit lake on Sinah Common (Hayling) were flowering on Apr 6

Cornsalad (Valerianella locusta): Plants flowering on top of the old wall around St Faith's Church Hall in Havant were out on Apr 9

Cleavers (Goosegrass): Normal flowers first seen on Apr 4

Woodruff: Flowering in The Holt woodland at Rowlands Castle on Apr 7

Field Madder: First flowers seen in Havant on Apr 8

Narrow-leaved Water Plantain: This uncommon plant which grows in the Westbrook Stream at Emsworth has secured SINC status for the Bridge Road carpark area in Emsworth and will soon be flowering there

Spring Starflower (Tristagma uniflorum): This garden throw-out was flowering on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Apr 6

Yellow Iris: Brian Fellows found the first flowers out on the Langstone South Moors on Apr 7

Arum Lily (Lords and Ladies): The sheaths began to open on these plants from Apr 6

Early Purple Orchid: One very early flower spike found in The Holt at Rowlands Castle on Apr 6 with another reported at Durlston on Apr 7

Green-winged Orchid: At least seven flowering spikes found at the Gunner Point site on south Hayling on Apr 6 and more flowers out at Northiam near Rye on Apr 9

Southern Woodrush: First flowers seen in The Holt woodland on Apr 7

 

OTHER WILDLIFE

Badger and Hedgehog: Singles of both species seen dead beside local roads this week. The Badger was beside the 'back road' to Chichester via Funtington where it crosses the Ems River valley east of Aldsworth and the Hedgehog on the main road to south Hayling where it runs through Stoke Common east of the Oysterbeds

Hare: Just one report this week of a sighting at Crondall in north Hampshire

Marsh Frog: First report of them being heard in the Rye area on Apr 3

Terrapin: Often bought as pets for young children there comes a time when either the child gets bored with its pet or the pet grows to a size when its sharp teeth are likely to cause injury to the child's fingers so the family take a journey to the nearest pond and 'liberate' their pet, transferring any danger from the child to the smaller wildlife in the pond. In the past I have often heard of Terrapins in Baffins Pond at Portsmouth (though Portsmouth City Rangers have devoted more effort to the management of that site in recent years and they have probably removed these unwanter alien invaders from that pond) but until this week I had not heard of Terrapins in the Staunton Country Park Lake at Leigh Park in Havant.

Fungi: On Apr 2 I found some early specimens of St George's Mushroom in the Havant cemetery and today (Apr 10) I found a couple of small specimens in my own garden. Also seen today at the seaward end of Pook Lane at Warblington were some rather dried out specimens of Agrocybe cylindracea


Wildlife diary and news for Mar 28 - Apr 3 (Week 13 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

The highlights below are followed by news of a wider range of species - both parts are arranged in four sections (Birds, Insects, Plants and Other Wildlife)

Highlights

(Skip to Birds)

Bird News highlights

Much of this week's news is taken up with reports of departing wildfowl and with details of all the summer migrant species that have reached us so far (including the first Cuckoo and Little Tern). A surprise is the arrival of Bee Eaters in the west country (will they breed again? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee-eaters_in_Britain for previous attempts at breeding). Perhaps an even more unusual sighting was of a Red-flanked Bluetail at Durlston on Apr 2. Fnally we still have lots of Waxwings (even if two found dead at Hove have been sent off for post-mortems)

Insect News highlights

The first Grizzled Skipper (and the second Painted Lady) has been seen and lots of Orange Tips are now out.

More rare moths have been found to be relatively common in Sussex while Farlington Marshes has lots of tiny Brown-tail moth caterpillars now out of their winter tents

In the Other Insects section read how Dotted Bee-flies play 'blow football' to get their eggs into the nests of the mining bees which their larvae predate (and I discover that those mining bees can excavate tunnels that go down 60 cm into the ground). I also learn how male Pisaura mirablis try to get away with their lives when mating with the larger females - the secret is to feign death while holding a food offering in your mouth, then (having lured the female close with the food offering) get on with the job and get away before she finishes eating'

Plant News highlights

Rue-leaved Saxifrage is 'flowering plant of the week' but Early Spider Orchid is a contender for that title (and Common Spotted Orchid leaves have appeared at Emsworth

Other Wildlife News highlights

Two fungi in the news are an early find of the common St George's Mushroom three weeks early for St George's Day and a find of an uncommon fungus Gymnosporangium clavariiforme on Juniper

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Apr 2 brought a surge in departing winter birds passing Dungeness among them were 31 Red-throated and 9 Black-throated. Great Northern reports were all of singles (inlcuding one off Selsey Bill on Mar 29). On Mar 28 a White Billed Diver was seen in Orkney. The long staying Pacific Diver at Penzance has not been reported since Mar 14

Grebes: No reports of Red-necked since Mar 27 but 6 Slavonian and 5 Black-necked flew past Splash Point on Apr 2 (when 2 Black-necked were still in Portland Harbour). Locally one Great Crested was seen on the Slipper Mill pond at Emsworth on Mar 22 and again on Mar 27 (no indication of any intention to breed there)

Manx Shearwater: The first birds returning to southern British waters were 15 off Portland on Apr 1 with 7 there on Apr 2 (one bird had been seen on Feb 17 but no others until now)

Leach's Petrel: A report of one in Berkshire on April 1 sounds like an April Fool spoof to me but it was included in the RBA news for that day

Bittern: Singles reported this week at Titchfield Haven, Lodmoor, Rye Harbour and at Penzance in Cornwall

Night Heron: On Mar 27 a site in Belgium reported the presence of 17 birds

Little Egret: A partial night roost count at Langstone Mill Pond on Apr 1 recorded a minimum of 53 birds compared to 42 on Mar 17

Grey Heron: On Mar 28 there were already some young in 23 nests at the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough and on Mar 30 the Heronry at Winchelsea was reported to have 17 nests (double the count for last year)

Purple Heron: On Apr 2 a Netherlands site reported 18 birds after the first report of the species back there on Mar 27

Black Stork: One seen in the Scillies on Apr 2 was the first I have heard of anywhere this year

Spoonbill: The single bird which turned up at Farlington Marshes on Mar 24 was still there on Apr 1. More have been arriving recently in Europe with 24 at a Belgian site on Mar 29 and 3 flying over the Lymington area on Apr 2 (probably the same 3 that were over the Isle of Wight on Apr 1 when 2 were at Saltash on the Devon Cornwall boundary)

Mute Swan: Still only two birds known to be nesting in the Hampshire area (Langstone Pond on the mainland and Fishery Pond on Hayling) but it seems these are early nesters as on Apr 1 the BBC were reporting that 31 nests at Abbotsbury was a significant increase on just two active nests there on the same date last year).

Black Swan: Brian Fellows visited the West Ashling pond (betweeen Emsworth and Chichester) on Mar 29 and found just two adult swans (apparently no young produced by them during the past winter)

Brent Goose: Very few migrants are still left along the English south coast (I could only see 64 on the Langstone South Moors shore on Apr 1). The tailing off in numbers passing Dungeness is recorded in the following recent figures - 1600 on Mar 26, 476 on Mar 29, 470 on Mar 30, 446 on Mar 31 and 169 on Apr 2.

Ruddy Shelduck: One was seen on Apr 2 at Mill Rythe on the east coast of Hayling Island - maybe the bird seen at West Wittering on Mar 17 after previously being seen there on Feb 12

Shoveler: Another indication of our departing winter wildfowl comes from counts of Shoveler passing Dungeness - 12 on Mar 27, 48 on Mar 29, 175 on Apr 2

Red-crested Pochard: A pair were seen at Ivy Lake (Chichester) on Apr 1

Scaup: Around 30 of these were at Abbotsbury in Dorset during Jan and Feb this year with only 8 left by Mar 17 and just 6 on Mar 28 since when none have been seen anywhere

Long-tailed Duck: One over the Netherlands on Mar 27 was the last I have heard of - last in southern England flew east past Titchfield Haven on Mar 26

Scoters: A final (?) surge of 2113 Common Scoter flew past Dungeness on Apr 2 along with |63 Velvet Scoters

Osprey: After the early report of 2 heading north east over Cornwall on Mar 18 I have picked up 19 reports from southern England including two sightings at Gutner point on Hayling on Mar 26 and 27. April sightings have been of one over Poole Harbour on Apr 1 and again on Apr 2, and one at Yarmouth (IoW) on Apr 2

Hobby: First was at Arne in Dorset on Mar 23 with one over the River Test near Southampton on Mar 31, another over the Charminster area of Bournemouth on Apr 1. Latest arrival flew in off the sea at Portland on Apr 2 (when another was seen in Belgium)

Peregrine: The pair nesting on Chichester cathedral laid their first egg on Mar 21 and had their full clutch of four by Mar 27

Grey Partridge: Two birds were seen in a field east of Prinsted (north east of Thorney Island) on Mar 22 and four were seen there on Mar 26. These were thought to be two pairs intending to nest but I somehow doubt they were entirely wild birds. Some years back I thought I was on the trail of a Grey Partridge on the Cobnor penninsula until I traced the calls to a 'hen coop' outside the back door of a farm cottage close to the approach road to the Cobnor Activities Centre and since then (during the five years I spent monitoring the wildlife on Great Idsworth Farm, north of Rowlands Castle) I witnessed a well meaning attempt to re-introduce Grey Partridges to the farm by the purchase and release of 50 birds, all of which had 'vanished' before the year was out. Nowadays I am of the opinion that any Grey Partridges seen in southern England (from which the native birds were driven by changes in agricultural practices which deprived the birds of the soft bodied insects which are necessary food for their young during the first few months of their life) are almost certain to have been cage-reared and puchased either to support the shooting on which some farmers are financially dependent or with the charitable intention of 'saving wildlife'. The introduction of 'beetle banks' running across fields and wider headlands around them does help breeding pairs to find the caterpillars to feed their young but does little to educate the adults in other aspects of survival in the wild which they might have learnt had they been hatched and reared in the wild.

Coot: The first newly hatched chicks were seen in a nest on one of the rafts of the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on Apr 2

Stone Curlew: One was seen in daylight at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 28 and another was heard flying north in the dark over Worthing on Apr 2. These were the fifth and sixth birds for the year after the first seen at Martin Down on Feb 21

Long-billed Dowitcher: Still at Lodmoor on Apr 2

Little Gull: Spring passage continues to increase with counts on Apr 2 of 74 passing Dungeness and 42 at Splash Point, Seaford. This week's sightings include one at Fleet Pond, one at Ivy Lake (Chichester) , three at Sandy Point on Hayling and four at the Blashford Lakes

Common Tern: Since the first English sighting at Dungeness on Mar 26 these have now been seen at Sandy Point on Hayling and at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire and by Apr 2 the number at Dungeness was 38

Little Tern: First for the year was reported at Dungeness on Apr 2

Cuckoo: Three reports so far. On Mar 30 one was at Battle near Hastings and on Apr 2 one was in Ashdown Forest near Crowborough and another at Bolderwood in the New Forest

Short-eared Owl: The bird which arrived at Farlington Marshes on Mar 19 was still there on Apr 1

Bee Eater: On Apr 2 one was reported in the Scillies and another (?the same?) in Cornwall

Hoopoe: This week there was at least one in Devon and another at Portland while on Apr 2 one was in Sussex at Castle Hill north of Newhaven

Sand Martin: The first started to arrive around Feb 23 and they are now widespread and numerous with an estimated 200 over Ivy Lake at Chichester on Apr 2

Swallow: First to arrive in England was on Mar 12 and now Apr 2 brings news of 775 at a Netherlands site

Red-rumped Swallow: First for the year were one in Cornwall and anther in Ireland, both on Apr 2

House Martin: First was at Fleet Pond on Mar 13 and only 13 reports up to Apr 2

Tree Pipit: First was in Belgium on Mar 24 - only two so far in England (Ashdown Forest on Mar 29 and New Forest on Apr 2)

Yellow Wagtail: First reached England on Mar 15 and so far only 7 reports from England

Waxwing: Still 27 new reports this week with Poole having two flocks totalling 140 birds on Apr 2. Other flocks seen in April were at Hove (Brighton), Horsham, Fleet in north Hampshire, a garden centre in Pulborough, Ivy Lake at Chichester, Worthing, and Hedge End (Southampton). Following reports of birds falling down dead at Hove two of these birds are being sent off for post-mortems

White-spotted Bluethroat: One in the Scillies on Mar 25 (after one in the Netherlands on Mar 21)

Red-flanked Bluetail: One at Durlston on Apr 2 and 3 was only the second ever record for Dorset (first was in 1993) and the more unusual for being here in spring rather than autumn. Only 20 previous sightings in Britain, latest were at Houghton Forest in Sussex 0n Mar 4, Dungeness on Nov 16 2010 and at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Oct 23 2010

Common Redstart: 13 reports so far: first was in Kent on Mar 26 and by Apr 2 there were sightings at Ashdown Forest, New Forest, Hayling Oysterbeds, Christchurch Harbour and Pagham Harbour

Whinchat: Just two reports: one in the New Forest on Mar 26 and the second at Climping (between Bognor and Littlehampton) on Mar 28

Wheatear: First arrival on Feb 12 in the New Forest with numbers increasing to 120 at Portland on Mar 23

Ring Ouzel: First was at Portland on Mar 20 and on Apr 2 the latest of 19 reports were of 3 at Portland and 4 at Dungeness

Fieldfare: Last sighting so far was of one on south Hayling on Mar 30

Redwing: Lst report from southern England was of 25 at Dungeness on Mar 30 but Apr 2 brought a report of 1478 at a Netherlands site

Sedge Warbler: The first was singing at Rye Harbour on Mar 28 and since then they have been reported at north Devon, Lodmoor, Pagham Harbour and Farlington Marshes (six on Apr 2)

Reed Warbler: Just two reports so far - one at Hook/Warsash (two birds) on Apr 2 and probably the same birds further up the Hamble river at Swanwick on Apr 3

Lesser Whitethroat: One was reported singing at Freshwater (IoW) on Mar 23 but no further reports (they normally arrive in mid-April)

Blackcap: First definite report of a new arrival was at Folkestone on Mar 12

Chiffchaff: Probable first migrant arrival on Mar 11

Willow Warbler: First arrivals on Mar 20

Pied Flycatcher: Just one report of two birds back near their nest boxes in Devon's Yarner Wood on Mar 27

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Grizzled Skipper: First for the year at Shoreham Mill Hill on Apr 2

Brimstone: Only three reports this week

Large White: A fourth report for the year on Apr 2 at Henfield (Sussex) after other singles on Mar 1 (Hants), Mar 18 (Kent) and Mar 27 (Hants)

Small White: Three reports this week

Green Veined White: Four reports so far on Mar 26 (first for year near Eastbourne), Mar 28 (Brighton), Apr 1 (Brook meadow at Emsworth) and Apr 2 (Haywards Heath)

Orange Tip: First for the year was on Mar 23 in Sussex and on Apr 1 Emsworth had its first (15th for the year) and on Apr 2 the village of Five Oaks near Horsham had 11 on the wing

Holly Blue: First was seen on Mar 20 at Arundel and Brook Meadow at Emworth had the third on Mar 23. We now have an eighth report on Mar 28 (I have included one reported in Devon on Mar 27 as a 'Common Blue')

Red Admiral: Only two reports this week

Painted Lady: Second report for the year comes from Abbots Wood near Eastbourne on Apr 2 (as with the first at Titchfield on Feb 14 this was almost certainly an insect emerging from hibernation rather than a migrant)

Small Tortoiseshell: Still doing well this year with another 8 reports this week (including 10 seen at Gosport on Mar 27) bringing the total of reports so far to 69

Peacock: More than 30 were seen at a Devon site on Mar 27 to bring the year total to 39 reports

Comma: Three more reports this week

Speckled Wood: Now starting to emerge seriously with four reports on Mar 27, 28 and 29

Moths

Pancalia leuwenhoekella and Pancalia schwarzella: Two rare micros seen at Shoreham Mill Hill on Mar 28 - see Graeme Lyons account of them at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ (you have to scroll down to 'older posts' before reaching his entry for Mar 29 but it is worth doing so)

Pyrausta despicata: Also recorded at Mill Hill on Mar 29 two weeks earlier than expected

The Streamer: First for the year in Sussex on Mar 29

Barred Tooth-striped: First at Lewes on Mar 27

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Numbers four and five for the year coming out of hibernation in Sussex on Mar 23 and 26

Brown-tail moth: A 'good' showing of their caterpillars around Farlington marshes on Mar 28

Muslin Moth: First at Worthing on Apr 2

Powdered Quaker: First in Sussex on Mar 29

Tawny Pinion: First in Kent on Mar 30

Small Purple-barred: Another first at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Mar 29

Other insects

Dotted Bee-fly: See http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2011/03/27/dotted-bee-fly-3/#more-14726 for Brian Banks' account of the Dotted Bee-flies which this year are common in his Northiam garden near Hastings. I learnt from this how the flies get their eggs into the nests of the mining bees which they parasitise. The technique is to lay their eggs on bare ground near the entrance to a mining bee tunnel, then to use the down draught from their wings to blow the eggs into the tunnel. See my correction to this entry at the end of this Other Insects section

Yellow-dung flies: These had first been reported at Rye Harbour on Mar 8 but I did not come across them until Apr 1 when young cattle were turned out to graze the Langstone South Moors and the flies were abundant on the fresh cow-pats

Mining Bees: The Havant wildlife group walk on Apr 2 was at Nutbourne and during it they came on a colony of mining bees actively digging their tunnels - they also got a photo of one of the bees which was thought to be one of the Andrena species and my comparison of this photo with one I found at http://www.omlet.co.uk/breeds/breeds.php?breed_type=Bees&breed=Mining%20Bees suggested the species might be Andrena carantonica (a species not in my Michael Chinery book but said to be common at this time of year). For further info on this species see http://www.gardensafari.net/en_picpages/andrena_carantonica.htm Another thing that surprised me during this investigation was that the Bumblebee Conservation Society website tells us that these mining bee tunnels can be as much as 60 cm deep (some digging!)

Oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus): The first find of one for the year is reported on the Devon Birding website at a site near Plymouth on Mar 27

Spiders: Several species now becoming mature and attracting attention. At Brook Meadow in Emsworth Brian Fellows found a Nursery Tent spider (Pisaura mirabilis) on Apr 1 and aroused my curiosity when he pointed out something that I did not know, namely that when you see a female walking around with her eggsac held under her abdomen between her long legs she is actually holding it in place with the 'fangs' at the tip of her 'chelicerae' which she she uses to grasp her prey and inject them with poison through the fangs. This must mean that she abstains from food during the period when she is carrying her egg-sac prior to hanging it up in her 'nursery tent'. Another new piece of knowledge about the males of this species came from Wikipaedia - I was aware that most male spiders are much smaller than the females (in this species they are 10 to 12 mm long whle the females are 12 to 15 mm long) and that the males are often eaten by the females during the mating process but Wikipaedia says .. "Males of this species offer food gifts to potential female mates. Some Pisaura mirabilis have also been observed to feign death, remaining still while holding the food gift in their mouths. When the female approaches and tries to take the food away, the male springs back to life and attempts to mate. The strategy of playing dead more than doubles a male's odds of successfully achieving copulation, from 40% to 89%" - in other words he gets on with his job while the female still has her mouth full and may get away with his life before she has finished eating.

Four more Spider species described by Chris Bentley on the Rye Bay website (entry for Mar 28) are .. "Phrurolithus festivus (The Pretty Ant Spider - great name!), Neon pictus and today several other jumping spiders, incuding Heliophanus flavipes, Euophrys frontalis, and best of all, Sitticus inexpectus, another species which, while not common nationally, is fairly regular at Rye Harbour."

Correction re Bee-Flies to my Weekly Summary for Week 13

When preparing my Weekly Summary last Sunday my imagination ran away with itself after reading an entry for Mar 27 on the Rye Bay website by Brian Banks about Dotted Bee-flies. Brian's intention was to help people to identify the species by pointing out that the dots on the wings (easy enough to see when the insect is at rest) become impossible to see when the fly takes off but even then you can identify the species by the black band around the tip of its abdomen which contrasts with the rich brown of the front of the abdoment.

He then added a paragraph which excited my imagination and led me to talk about the Flies 'playing Blow Football with their eggs' and he has asked me to point out that he never wrote anything to justify this incorrect fanciful idea.

Brian has now supplied me with a correct account of how the Fly's eggs are sent on a path which may or may not cause them to reach the Bee larvae which they predate. He says .. "The egg laying behaviour of the bee flies is summarised in the book “British soldierflies and their allies” by Alan Stubbs and Martin Drake. These insects land on bare earth and fill a chamber at the end of the body (the sand chamber) with small particles of soil. The minute eggs are coated with this material before they are flicked out onto the ground, using an ovipositor spine while the insect is hovering over suitable egg laying sites. The particles of soil may make the eggs heavier and easier to be accurately aimed when flicked. The eggs are laid on suitable looking ground where bees are likely to nest, rather than directly into the burrows, and they frequently lay eggs before bees actually start to make their nest tunnels."

Pursuing this new information Google took me to a photo (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/roly2008/4558070861/ taken at Durlston in Dorset) which shows the ovipositor at the back of the Bee-fly and the accompanying text says .. "Although it looks like this bee fly has a bad case of piles I am pretty certain the swollen behind is for egg laying as this one kept dipping down onto the ground in the same way as a dragonfly dips the surface of a pond while laying." (I presume the apparent absence of a forward pointing proboscis in this photo is a matter of it being out of focus in this shot and I must resist letting my imagination run away with the idea of the proboscis being a detachable item of the insect's anatomy which can be taken off the front end and plugged in to the back end when needed as an ovipositor!!!)

Yet another account of the egg-laying process is provided by the 'Bugs and Weeds' website. See http://www.bugsandweeds.co.uk/flies%20p2.html which says that the Bee-fly lays its eggs on the ground where they hatch out and the new-born larva which emerges makes its own way to and down the Mining-bee tunnel (and at the end of its underground development has to 'head-butt' its way out - no doubt swearing like Wayne Rooney as it does so!) Note that this link takes you to the top of a long page of fly species and you have to scroll down a long way to find the 'Bee Fly' section - alternatively you can use CTRL + F to find the words 'Bee Fly' and then scroll down the Bee Fly entry

Just one final reference - Brian Banks told us that prior to egglaying the Bee-fly scoops sand into a special chamber at the rear of her abdomen and that this sand sticks to her eggs to make them heavier (and so less likely to be blown away from the place where they land after laying?). Photos showing this behaviour can be seen at http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/forums/insects-and-invertebrates/52016-curious-bee-fly-behavior.html

Apologies for a lengthy correction but at least I now know a lot more about Bee Flies.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Great Horsetail: Fertile cones had started to appear on Warblington Farm on Apr 1

Marsh Marigold: The number at the Langstone South Moors had increased substantially to more than 64 plants, some of them having 30 or more flowers, by Apr 1 Other sites are also doing well

Medium flowered (or Intermediate) winter cress (Barbarea intermedia): This is likely to be the species which Brian Fellows found coming into flower near West Ashling on Apr 1

Cuckoo Flower: First report of flowering had been near Alton in east Hampshire on Mar 23 - it was then seen at Henfield on Mar 27, in Emsworth on Mar 30 and at the South Moors at Langstone on Apr 1

Garlic Mustard: This started widespread flowering from Mar 29

Honesty: First seen flowering in Havant on Mar 28

Great Stitchwort: First flowers found in the Locks Farm area of Havant on Mar 29

Herb Robert: First flowers found by the Havant Willdife Group at Nutbourne on Apr 2

Round-leaved Cranesbill: This species is spreading in the Havant area and I found a plant in flower on Apr 1

Spotted Medick: First flowers found in Emsworth on Mar 28 with others in Havant on Mar 29

Hawthorn: A single flower open on a tree in Havant on Apr 1

Rue-leaved Saxifrage: Started to flower in Havant on April 1 (photos on my Diary page)

Norway Maple: Bright yellow flowers seen on these trees from Mar 28

Silver Birch: First catkins seen in Havant on Apr 2

Hemlock: Just one of thousands of leafy plants had flowers on Mar 28 at Broadmarsh in Havant

Wild Angelica: An unconfirmed report of this flowering at Nutbourne on Apr 2

Oxford Ragwort: First flowers seen in Havant on Apr 2

Smooth Sowthistle: First flowers at Langstone on Mar 28

Spanish Bluebell: First flowers seen in Emsworth on Mar 28

Lords and Ladies: Sheathed spikes appeared on Apr 1 - none yet flowering

Early Spider Orchid: First flowers reported at Durlston on Mar 20

Common Spotted Orchid: Leaves seen at Emsworth (Brook Meadow) on Apr 1

OTHER WILDLIFE

Water Vole: Spring weather and plant growth has brought a significant increase in the number of sightings at Brook Meadow in Emsworth where (on Apr 1 but no hoax) one was seen nibbling a nettle. I can vouch for young nettle leaves also making an enjoyable addition to human meals (providing that only the topmost leaves are picked and then boiled they are quite as tasty, and a lot less expensive, than Spinach). Also this week on the Rye Bay website Kelly Payne of the National Trust staff at Winchelsea reported .. "2011 is the year of our Water Vole habitat management trial along one of the ditches just west of New Gate, Winchelsea. After completing vegetation management in February, creating a wiggly channel of open water with scalloped “bays”, the electric fence went live on 10th March. This will protect the bank from trampling and poaching by livestock and leave the voles a wider strip of grass to feed on. Their activity will be monitored from next month. " I wonder if we will see electric fencing used at Brook Meadow to keep livestock (in this case humans and their dogs) away from the voles.

Slow Worms: The first report I have seen of Slow Worms coming out of hibernation this year was on Mar 20 in Hollybank Woods at Emsworth. A couple of days later a couple were seen at Bovey Heath in Dorset and on Mar 28 three more were seen at |Northiam in East Kent. The first indication that I see of their presence in my garden is when the local Magpies start to take an interest in the long grass, watching it intently then dashing in to grab a Slow Worm that they have detected.

Fungi: On Apr 2 I found a fresh clump of four St George's Mushrooms in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery - see my Diary page for photos. These were three week's early for St George's Day on Apr 23. A much less common fungus was brought to my attention this week in Graeme Lyons blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/

His entry for Mar 31 has a picture of Gymnosporangium clavariiforme on Juniper at Stockbridge Down (west of Winchester) - this species was new to Graeme and contributed a tick to his personal 'pan species life list' for which his current ambition is to reach 4,000 species (so far he has reached 3,200 and he can find out more about this list in his blog


To see Summaries for April to June 2011 go to APR-JUN 2011 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for January to March 2011 go to JAN-MAR 2011 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2010 go to OCT-DEC 2010 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to September 2010 go to JUL-SEP 2010 SUMMARIES

No Summaries available for April to June 2010

To see Summaries for January to March 2010 go to JAN-MAR 2010 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2009 go to OCT-DEC 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to September 2009 go to JUL-SEP 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2009 go to APR-JUN 2009 SUMMARIES

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

To see Summaries for July to September 2008 go to JUL-SEP 2008 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2008 go to APR-JUN 2008 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for January to March 2008 go to JAN-MAR 2008 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2007 go to OCT-DEC 2007 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to Sept 2007 go to JUL-SEP 2007 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2007 go to APR-JUN 2007 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for Jan, Feb and Mar 2007 go to JAN-MAR 2007 SUMMARIES


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