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MONTHLY HIGHLIGHTS


SORRY - THIS PAGE REMAINS A GOOD INTENTION THAT I HAVE NOT HAD TIME TO IMPLEMENT


Summary for January 2007

BIRDS

Leach's Petrel - although the great 'wreck' of these occurred between Dec 3 and 11 there have been several subsequent sightings including one at Bournemouth on Dec 31, one at Milford on sea on Jan 1, four at Portland on Jan 11 and (oddest of all) one in Langstone Harbour on Jan 20, last seen flying into Chichester Harbour

Black-necked Grebe - the expected flock in Langstone Harbour seemed to remain at a peak of 19 birds thorugh December and January until a surprising count of 26 birds in one flock off the Oysterbeds was made on Jan 28. While I am not sure of my facts I have believed that Langstone Harbour was the main stronghold of these birds in southern Britain but this winter numbers in the Poole Harbour/Studland Bay area of Dorset have roughly equalled those in Langstone (and on Jan 8 a total of 20 there seemed to exceed the 19 in Langstone)

Little Egret - there has been less evidence that these birds have moved away from the coast to inland sites this winter and a count of 72 using the Langstone Pond night roost on Jan 15 was higher than average (though there have been counts of 74 in Jan 2006 and a peak of 92 in Jan 2005)

Bittern: A Bittern arrived at Titchfield Haven as early as Sep 15 last autumn but none were reported there from Oct 11 to Jan 27 (usually they are present through the winter)

Red-breasted Goose - the bird which was to be seen in Dorset from Nov 4 until Jan 25 then moved into Hampshire and has been in the Lymington area from Jan 26 until the month end (at least). This bird shows no reason why it should not be classed as a genuine wild bird.

Eider - the flock on the sea off Titchfield Haven peaked at 116 birds on Jan 26 (a fraction under the 130 there last year in January)

Black-tailed Godwit - in January 2006 big groups of these could be seen feeding in Chichester Harbour along the west Emsworth shore throughout the month (peak count of 154 on Jan 23) but this winter there were effectively none to be seen there after Dec 6 right through January. This was not reflected in a general shortage of the birds (700 to 800 were in the Pagham Harbour area, 200 were at Titchfield Haven and more than 2000 in the Avon valley between Ringwood and Christchurch and up to 75 were to be seen in the Pulborough area where half a dozen would normally be a good winter count) though the shortage did seem to affect Langstone Harbour as well was the western part of Chichester Harbour.

So far there is no conclusive evidence to explain the difference in the distribution of the birds - the mild weather may have had an effect, there could have been a food shortage in the Emsworth and Langstone areas, or there may have been disturbance in the places where the birds roost at high tide and at night (possibly the ponies in the flooded field by the Thorney Little Deeps disturbed their rest?). We also lack information about the birds in Portsmouth Harbour - on 14 Jan 2006 there were 364 birds (34 of them colour ringed) in the Gosport Defence Muntions site and if the flock there increased this winter that site could have attracted birds from Langstone and Chichester Harbours.

Although there has been a noticeable difference in the January counts at Emsworth between 2006 and 2007, a look at the Sussex Bird Reports for 1999 to 2005 shows that the January WeBS counts of Blackwits in Chichester Harbour are always lower than in the preceding and following months while most years January figures show a dramatic increase in numbers on the fields north of Pagham Harbour, and this same move away from harbour shores also occurs in Hampshire with birds leaving the shore to feed on wet grassland at Titchfield Haven and the Avon Valley after Christmas.

Wintering summer birds: January brought reports of a Whinchat at Horsham on Jan 5 and a Common Whitethroat at Christchurch Harbour from Dec 28 to Jan 5. (There were no January sightings of the Common and Lesser Whitethroat which had both been seen at the Portsmouth IBM site in December). One 'believe it or not' report was of a Swallow at the Tesco store in Poole on Jan 7. Several wader species that are uncommon in winter (Whimbrel, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank) were present through the month. Common Sandpipers were on the Hermitage Stream in Havant and the Hamble at Burridge and a Little Stint remained at East Head in Chichester Harbour

Winter Thrushes - both Fieldfares and Redwings were reported from a few sites but neither were as widespread or numerous as in past winters

Finches - Siskin and Redpoll were also in short supply, as were Brambling

Bird song - Robin, Wren and Dunnock were all heard occasionally throughout the month as were a few Great, Blue and Coal Tits and Goldfinch seemed happy to sing occasionally throughout the month. Song Thrush was heard on Jan 1 and 6 but did not start generally until Jan 15. Mistle Thrush was heard sporadically (as it had been since November) and Blackbird had not started by the month end though several birds were heard on the evening of of Jan 19 and one was singing by day on Jan 30. Starling, Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove could be heard on most days. The first Chaffinch was heard on Jan 22 but no others sang until Jan 29 when at least one Greenfinch was making song flights over Havant. Less common songsters were Goldcrest (occasional from Jan 21), Tree Creeper and Rock Pipit were heard at Durlston on Jan 31 and single Corn Buntings were heard at Dungeness on Jan 1 and 30. Woodlarks were heard on Jan 9 and 30 and Skylarks started up on Jan 27.

New Year's Day bird race results included a score of 107 species seen in west Hampshire by Simon Ingram while in West Sussex Richard Ives and his 'Bald Eagles' team also scored 107. Steve Keen scored 96 in the Lymington area and Dan Houghton got 91 in the Gosport area. On the Isle of Wight the best score was 97

PLANTS

75 species were seen flowering during the month. Highlights among these were .

First flowerings (normal - affecting most plants of the species)

Dog's Mercury - I saw one plant with male flowers on Jan 2 and flowering became general through the month

Sweet Violet - an increasing number of plants had flowers through the month

Common Whitlowgrass - first flowers seen in Jan 3 with numbers increasing during the month

Lesser Celandine - a single first flower had opened by the Lymbourne stream in Havant on Dec 23 and it was not until Jan 9 that flowers began to be found in many places (and mass flowering had not started by the end of January)

Spurge Laurel - first flowers are expected in January and I found them in Markwells Wood, Idsworth, on Jan 25

Cherry Plum - these started to flower on Jan 23 but only some trees were flowering by the end of the month

Grey Alder - one tree which opened its catkins in Havant on Jan 4 was probably typical of others

Coastal Redwood - trees in the Stansted Groves were flowering on Jan 5 and had ceased to shed pollen by the end of the month

First flowerings (abnormal - affecting individual plants)

Cow Parsley - one plant seen on Jan 1 - no others seen this month

Wild Radish - just one plant seen on Jan 1 - none since

Blackthorn - one tree at the Hayling Oysterbeds had flowers from December through January into February

Hawthorn - a single tree by the Hermitage stream in Leigh Park had flowers but no leaves on Jan 1 and had many flower buds later in the month

Dog Rose - a dozen or more plants in several locations had flowers from December into the first half of January

Holly - a few bushes had flowers at the start of the month but none at the end.

Larch species - a single tree in a Havant garden was covered with fresh green leaf shoots on Jan 9 but no others were seen during the month

Goat Willow - a single tree on Southmoor Lane in Havant was (as usual) covered in golden Pussy-paw catkins by Jan 19

Another surprise find was of Borage still flowering on Jan 7 (since Nov 12) growing on the dungheap at the Forestside Farm pony stables

INSECTS

Red Admiral butterflies were seen on 16 days of the month from Jan 1 to 31. In total there were 45 reports and in mid-month one observer saw 33 different Red Admirals in Stansted Forest in a single visit

Peacock (5 reports), Small Tortoiseshell (2 reports) and Brimstone (1 report) were all seen flying during the month but I guess these had all been distrubed from hibernation while the Red Admirals behaved as if they were unable to settle into hibernation.

Moth species reported during the month included Winter Moth, Early Moth, Mottled Umber, Mottled Grey, Pearly Underwing and Pale Brindled Beauty

OTHER WILDLIFE

Adder - what I think is an unusually early emergence from hibernation was reported from Durlston country park in Dorset where a male was seen basking in the sun (but only half out of its hibernation tunnel) on Jan 23

Common Lizard - five were basking in the sun at Hastings on Jan 15 and one had been seen at Horsham on Jan 14

Common Newt - newts were reported to be active in the Sway area of south west Hants on Jan 15

Bat species - on Jan 29 a small bat (probably a Pipistrelle) was seen apparently feeding by day in Wade Lane at Langstone but there has been no general emergence of bats from hibernation.

Frogspawn - first report came from a garden pond in the Eastleigh area on Jan 20 (the day after a female had been run over on a south Hayling road leaving her body surrounded by spawn)

Roe Deer - a few years ago Roe were very unusual on Hayling Island but in common with the growth in numbers elsewhere there was a resident group of six seen there early in 2006 and by Jan 2007 that group had become 8.


Summary for January 2006

BIRDS

Best New Year's Day Birdrace total in Hampshire was 109 by Simon Ingram with Tim Parminter in south west Hampshire, while Peter Raby and John Norton saw 101 in the south east of the county

Red-necked Grebe: One in Chichester Harbour from Jan 1 until Jan 20 (three seen from Black Point on Jan 2)

Slavonian Grebe: one was in Langstone harbour through the month with a peak of 4 on Jan 13

Black-necked Grebe: Peak count in Langstone Harbour of 20 on Jan 12 (19 seen on Jan 3 and Jan 7).

Shag: Three in the mouth of Langstone Harbour on Jan 2 and one still there on Jan 26

Bittern: One (probably two) was at Titchfield Haven through the month, a single was seen at Alresford Pond on Jan 15, and another single was reported at Langstone Harbour on Jan 31. In Sussex one was at Rye Harbour through the month with two there after Jan 25. Another single was at Burton Mill Pond through the month.

Cattle Egret: A single bird was at Warblington Farm from Jan 9 to 27. In Sussex up to three were in fields north of Pagham Harbour and a flock of 8 were at Piddinghoe (upstream from Newhaven) through most of the month.

Grey Heron: By Jan 16 at least 15 pairs were back at nests in a heronry near Fordingbridge (Midgham Wood)

Bewick's Swan: Peak of 14 in the Avon Valley at Ibsley on Jan 14 with varying numbers through the month (12 on Jan 1 and 10 on Jan 31). In Sussex the Arun valley had a peak count of at least 59 on Jan 3.

Pale Bellied Brent: Three were in the Farlington Marshes area all month with a few occasional singles elsewhere.

Black Brant: One was near Farlington Marshes all month and at least two were on the Gosport area all month with just one in Sussex in the West Wittering area

Mandarin: A total of 76 were said to be on Headley Mill Pond in east Hants on Jan 24

Scaup: A young male was at Normandy (Lymington) through the month and two were on the lake behind Fort Gilkicker (Gosport) from Jan 1 to 12

Eider: Although there were none on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Jan 1 the count there reached 130+ on Jan 25

Long-tailed Duck: Four were off West Wittering on Jan 31

Goosander: One was on Sinah gravel pit lake on Jan 19 but that was the only Havant area report. In the New Forest there were at least 27 birds based at the Blashford Lakes but flying into the New Forest ponds by day

Ruddy Duck: Up to 14 were at Pett Level near Hastings and 6+ were at Lymington on Jan 1

Buzzard: John Simons reported a communal night roost of up to 10 Buzzards in one northern section of Stansted Forest.

Avocet: Seen at Farlington Marshes throughout the month with 17 there on Jan 4, 6 and 20. Another two birds were at Lymington through the month. In Sussex there were more than 10 in Pagham Harbour on Jan 2 and a flock of 26 in Nutbourne Bay (Chichester Harbour) on Jan 11 (and 21 on Jan 17).

Golden Plover: A count of 6500 in the Northney area of Chichester Harbour (just east of Langstone bridge) on Jan 10 set a new Hampshire record. Other flocks were in the Lymington area (around 1000 birds there in mid-month), in the Alresford area (180+), Eastleigh Lakeside area (302), Basingstoke area (80+), Fareham creek (215), Test valley south of Romsey (110), and Hambledon (300)

Knot: Although generally scarce in Hampshire in winter there were two major influxes into Langstone Harbour - more than 1000 were there on Jan 14 and 1300 paid a brief visit on Jan 22. In Chichester Harbour there were counts of just over 70 on Jan 19 and 25. The only other notable sighting was of 29 in Southampton Water on Jan 21.

Green Sandpiper: Single birds seen at seven sites during the month with only two reports of more than one bird (3 at Ibsley near Ringwood and 2 on the Itchen near Eastleigh). One bird was on the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park (Havant), probably there throughout the month.

Purple Sandpiper: Seen at Southsea Castle on six dates from Jan 8 to 26 with a peak of 9 birds on Jan 11

Black-tailed Godwit: The mid-month WeBS count found 364 at Portsmouth harbour in the grassland on the MoD Defence Munitions site - another 108 were in the south-east Hayling area that day. Elsewhere the flock feeding at the west end of the Emsworth shore peaked at 154 birds on Jan 23 and Titchfield Haven had 190 on Jan 31. In Sussex the fields north of Pagham Harbour had 120 birds on Jan 27

Bar-tailed Godwit: The flock on the Warblington shore peaked at an estimated 1100 birds on Jan 4 (next highest figure was only around 400 on Jan 25)

Med Gull: There were concentrations of 81 birds in Pagham Harbour on Jan 2, 50 in the Bembridge Foreland area of the IoW on Jan 15, and up to 29 in Portland Harbour on Jan 21

Iceland Gull: A third winter bird was found at Winchester sewage farm on Jan 4 and was seen there again on several occasions up to Jan 31 when there was also an adult there with it (maybe the same adult that was at Pagham Harbour on Jan 14).

Sandwich Tern: up to five in Chichester Harbour throughout month and at least one in Langstone Harbour

Long-eared Owl: One spent a couple of days on Hayling North Common at the end of the month - the only Hampshire bird this month. The only communal roost was on the Isle of Wight at the foot of Mersley Down (south east of Newport) where 10 were found on Jan 6 and at least 5 on Jan 7

Hoopoe: One was in the Felicia Park area of Gosport (near the Portsmouth Harbour shore north of Forton Lake) from Jan 7 to 29 (but probably arrived there on 14 Nov 2005 and stayed to 21 Feb 2006)

Water Pipit: Up to four were at the Lower Test through the month, one was at Normandy (Lymnington) from Jan 23 to 29 and there was a report of three in Langstone Harbour on Jan 27 only

Great Grey Shrike: Max of just 3 in the New Forest and only 1 in Sussex (Ashdown Forest)

Raven: 8 were seen in the New Forest on Jan 22 (maybe some duplicates?), one was in the Idsworth area on Jan 5 and one was south of Fareham on Jan 1. Five other sightings (at places including Sway, Fordingbridge and the Lower Test marshes) through the month were probably of the New Forest birds.

Brambling: A flock in the Kingsclere area of north Hampshire numbered 250+ on Jan 27 and a flock in the Longwood Warren area east of Winchester was up to 150+ on Jan 15. In Sussex up to 300 were in West Dean woods on Jan 5

Siskin: Numbers in Hampshire built up at the end of the month with 100+ at the Testwood Lakes on Jan 29 and 150 at Fleet Pond on Jan 31.

Twite: Singles were reported from Langstone Harbour area on Jan 1 and 11 (not sure how confident these reports were)

Common (or Mealy) Redpoll: From 3 to 5 of these were reported throughout the month from Burton Mill Pool (west of Pulborough) among a flock of around 200 mixed Lesser Redpoll, Linnet and Chaffinch.

Bullfinch: On Jan 14 and 15 flocks of 10 were at Hastings and Brighton respectively, and in Hampshire another flock of 10 was at Titchfield Haven on Jan 30 and smaller groups of what were probably winter visitors from the continent were seen at several sites.

Hawfinch: A flock of nine were at the Testwood Lakes from 27 Dec 2005 to at least Jan 2 and further up the Test at Romsey there were sightings from Jan 1 to 25 of four to six birds. Eastleigh Lakeside Park had one or two birds seen on Jan 4, 6, 14, and 25. There was the usual night roost in the New Forest (Rhinefield area) where the only report was of five birds on Jan 7 and in Sussex a single was seen at Buriton on Jan 15 but the main flock, which peaked at 66 on Jan 28, was in the West Dean Woods from Jan 2 to 29 at least.

Snow Bunting: One on south Hayling ( Beachlands west carpark) - present since 20 Dec 2005 and stayed to Jan 18 at least. Two others were at Calshot from Jan 6 to 25 and a single was in the Hurst area on Jan 1 may have stayed on there.

Corn Bunting: Only four reports of these in Hampshire, three of them in the Cheesefoot Head area (max 6 birds) and one report of 3 birds from Hoe Cross near Hambledon. In Sussex the peak count at Rye Harbour was 75 and there was another large (but un-counted flock) on the Downs north of Brighton, and just one sighting of 4 birds in the Ouse valley. On the Isle of Wight there was just one sighting of one bird on New Year's Day.

INSECTS

Brimstone butterfly: Two seen in flight, the first on Jan 11 near the Meon Valley and the other at Oxenbourne Down on Jan 21

Red Admiral: 27 widespread reports from Jan 3 to 29

Small Tortoiseshell: Just one report from the Corhampton Forest area on Jan 21

Peacock: Also a single sighting at Fareham on Jan 20

Moths: 14 species seen including the Diamond-back moth (migrant at Portland), a very early Mottled Grey (also at Portland on Jan 18), the more expected Winter moth, December moth and Light Brown Apple moth. Mottled Umber and the first Early Moth of the year were seen in Sussex. Hummingbird Hawkmoths were flying in Cornwall and the Channel Isles. Presumed migrant Large Yellow Underwings were found in Cornwall and the Scillies, also 3 Silver Ys in Somerset and the Scillies, In Hampshire a Mottled Umber was trapped near Southampton on Jan 7

Other insects included a 'Marmelade Hoverfly' which came out of hibernation near Titchfield on Jan 21. Also feeling the call of spring was a Minotaur Beetle which was in a moth trap at the HWT HQ near Southampton on Jan 23 (probably having flown Southampton Water from the New Forest in a springtime search for a mate).

PLANTS

42 species were found in flower during the month. First dates were:-

Creeping Buttercup at Havant on Jan 23

Lesser Celandine at Havant on Jan 4

Charlock at Havant on Jan 24

Wavy Bittercress at Havant on Jan 2

Hairy Bittercress at Havant on Jan 17

Thale Cress in Havant on Jan 23

Shepherd's Purse at Havant on Jan 1

Common Whitlowgrass in Havant on Jan 31

Sweet Alison in Havant on Jan 3

Sweet Violet in Havant on Jan 20

Common Chickweed in Havant on Jan 3

Common Mouse-ear in Havant on Jan 4

Gorse in Havant on Jan 1

Barren Strawberry in Stansted Forest on Jan 18

Common Nettle in Havant on Jan 2

Hazel - male catkins open in Havant on Jan 8 and female flowers seen at Racton Park Wood on Jan 13

Common Alder catkins open in Havant on Jan 26

Dogs Mercury - male flowers in Havant on Jan 18

Annual Mercury - male flowers in Havant on Jan 4

Petty Spurge in Havant on Jan 4

Cow Parsley flowering at Fishbourne on Jan 7

Hemlock in Havant on Jan 1

Hogweed in Chichester on Jan 1

Primrose in Winchester on Jan 15 (garden flower?)

Greater Periwinkle in Havant on Jan 4

Ivy-leaved Toadflax in Havant on Jan 10

Thyme-leaved Speedwell in Havant on Jan 8

Common Field Speedwell in Havant on Jan 3

Grey Field Speedwell in Havant on Jan 10

Red Dead Nettle in Havant on Jan 3

White Dead Nettle in Havant on Jan 4

Honeysuckle in Havant on Jan 10

Oxford Ragwort in Havant on Jan 3

Groundsel in Havant on Jan 3

Daisy in Portsmouth on Jan 14

Winter Heliotrope in Havant on Jan 3

Yarrow in Havant on Jan 4

Scentless Mayweed in Havant on Jan 4

Dandelion in Havant on Jan 31

Common Sowthistle in Havant on Jan 16

Butchers Broom in Havant on Jan 4

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: Vixen howling in Havant on Jan 2

Stoat: One seen near Burton (Petersfield) on Jan 15

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: Four off Portland on Jan 30 (and a single unidentified Dolphin off Bexhill on Jan 1)

Common Seal: Two in Rye Bay on Jan 20 and 21, and one seen from The Ship pub at Langstone on Jan 22

Roe Deer: A 'herd' of 20 seen southwest of Fareham on Jan 10 and another group of 15 in the Nutbourne orchards area near Farm Lane on Jan 21

Mole: Throwing up many fresh hills at Emsworth on Jan 7

Hedgehog: One which arrived in a Farnham garden on Dec 22 and settled to hibernate in a hay box woke on Jan 2 and walked off leaving a trail of hay across the garden.

Harvest Mouse: One seen at Titchfield Haven, where they breed in the reeds, on Jan 24

Hare: The first report of 'boxing' came on Jan 13 from the Isle of Wight where a group of three were seen on Brook Down. Highest reported count was of 9 in the Test Valley south of Romsey on Jan 21

Frog: First report of mating came from a garden pond at Clanfield (north of Waterlooville) on Jan 30

GO TO ... DAILY DIARY WEEKLY SUMMARY HOMEPAGE SPECIES LISTS MAPS ABOUT RALPH HOLLINS