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WEEKLY SUMMARY

These Nature Notes are now available from two hosts.
If the one you visit seems out of date try the other. The two addresses are
"http://ralph-hollins.net/"
"http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ralph.hollins/"

Why no recent updates?

Since February 2010 my wife's physical and mental health has declined sharply (she has Lewy Bodies Syndrome giving the physical aspects of Parkinson's plus Dementia). Though I remain fit and well the needs of 24 hour caring have made it impossible for me to get out for any length of time or to spend the time at my computer necessary to gather salient observations from other websites and then to analyse and report them in my Weekly Summaries.

Hopefully normal service will eventually be resumed but that may not be for a long time

In the meantime I am sending my own observations to Brian Fellows and they appear from time to time in his excellent Emsworth Community Website at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm


Wildlife diary and news for Mar 8 - 14 (Week 10 of 2010)

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The demands of now being a 24 hour carer for my wife (constant interruptions by day and loss of sleep by night!) have reduced my ability to produce as full a summary as I would wish but I still take great interest in the daily output of a list of wildlife websites and still try to note significant (to me!) observations in my database from which I have picked out some recent highlights

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Migrant bird arrivals (somewhere in England) include Wheatear (First on Mar 3 in Cornwall), Sand Martin (Mar 5 in Poole Harbour), House Martin (Mar 5 over Pagham Harbour), Swallow (Mar 12 in both Lincolnshire and the Adur valley in Sussex), Garganey (First definite migrant at Dungeness on Mar 1 with Hampshire sightings on Mar 3 passing Titchfield Haven and Mar 4 near Basingstoke), Osprey (First definite sighting on Mar 12 in Lincolnshire and Mar 13 in Cornwall), Little Ringed Plover (seen at various sites since Mar 2 and in Hampshire on Mar 14 at both Testwood Lakes and The Vyne near Basingstoke), Sandwich (a flock of 20 were off the Brittany coast of France on Jan 29 and several sightings since then were probably migrants - e.g. one passing Portland on Mar 3 and one flying in from the south at Selsey Bill on Mar 12) and Common Terns (one turned up at Dungeness on Feb 28) and almost certainly Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap (three new singing males at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 12). Four reports of Ring Ouzel in January were probably of wintering birds but news of three birds at a Dutch site on Mar 13 indicates that migrants are about to arrive in the UK

Passage birds now include a regular stream of Meadow Pipits heading north and Alba Wagtails (unspecified mix of Pied and White) with the first definite White Wagtail seen at Slimbridge on Mar 2 (others at Portland on Mar 12 and near Worthing on Mar 13)

Best vagrant is a Bufflehead, thought to have been blown from the Gulf of Mexico with some Red Breasted Mergansers, and present on The Fleet near Weymouth from Mar 6 to 12 at least. Lee Evans considers it to be the star attraction in the UK this week and says .. "It represents the 10th considered 'genuine vagrant' Bufflehead in Britain since 1950. It is the first record for Dorset."

Raptor interest includes a Golden Eagle seen at Luccombe Down in the Isle of Wight on Mar 11 and 12 - almost certainly an escape or even being used for hunting by a Falconer (on Dec 12 I reported the chance sighting of a group of Falconers hunting Hare in north Hampshire using no less than 5 Golden Eagles). This is also the time when Buzzards show themselves in good numbers but so far as I know no UK site has reported as many as the 120 Buzzards seen in one day as a Dutch site did on Mar 13. Ospreys were seen in Yorkshire on Mar 12 and Cornwall on Mar 13 - an earlier report from Wiltshire on Mar 2 was probably mistaken

See the Three Amigos website for photos illustrating by how much Black Tailed Godwits can flex the tips of their bill when using them as 'tweezers' to grab, hold and extract wriggling worms from mud - see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/14656/Black-tailed+Godwits+dispalying+Rhynchokinesis..html

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Most interesting butterfly report was of a Painted Lady flying strongly in the New Forest on Mar 5 (there had been another 'probable' sighting of a Painted Lady in Sussex on Mar 1) Other species flying this week were Brimstone, Red Admiral, and Small Tortoiseshell (at Gosport)

New moths for the year were the White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) on Mar 2 in Kent, a Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) in Sussex on Mar 8 - this one taken by the method of driving down country lanes at night and jumping out with a net when a moth appeared in the car headlights - and the first of the commoner spring moths, a Common Quaker taken in Kent on Mar 12

Other insect news was a find of hibernating German Wasps at Rye Harbour ( see entry for Mar 13 in http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/insects/ for tips on separating Common from German Wasps). Also seen in Sussex were some tiny Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillars on Borage

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The only new flowers this week were on Common Storksbill at Broadmarsh on Mar 10 and on Wild Daffodils at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Mar 13 but there was other interest in a Hawthorn tree at Broadmarsh already bearing some leaves and flower buds and a Dog Rose bush already unfurling some leaves.

OTHER WILDLIFE

The absence of any Water Vole sightings at Brook Meadow (Emsworth) so far this year is worrying - last year there had been at least five sightings between Jan 12 and Feb 15. Has the strong flow and increased depth of water in the R Ems drowned or washed away these animals?


Wildlife diary and news for Mar 1 - 7 (Week 9 of 2010)

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BIRDS

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Red-throated Diver: Some 150 were fishing off the north Kent coast on Mar 5, presumably on their way north to breed

Black-throated Diver: One off Selsey Bill on Feb 27

Great Northern Diver: Seen at three points off the Hampshire coast this week but no more than three together

Slavonian Grebe: Seen at seven south coast sites this week with more than 20 off Pagham Harbour on Mar 2

Black-necked Grebe: Still at least 15 off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Mar 1 (and 18 on Studland Bay on Mar 2). There had been one at the Blashford Lakes on Jan 1 but on Mar 1 four turned up there and have stayed until at least Mar 5

Fulmar: After a report of 17 pairs on 'roost sites' in Thanet on Feb 24 there is a definite claim for 6 pairs to be nesting in the Brighton-Rottingdean area on Feb 27. Others are probably nesting at St Catherine's Point on the IoW

Shag: After the excitement of finding one settled on the R Itchen by Winchester College in December I was interested to read of one in breeding plumage well inland at the Loder Valley nature reserve near Wakehurst Place in Sussex on Mar 5

Bittern: Several still around but the sighting of one flying high northeast at dusk from Bransbury Common near Andover on Mar 1 indicates that they are now leaving. One whose departure will be delayed was rescued in an emaciated state (and with a broken claw) in the Ditchling area of Sussex on Mar 4 and will be given treatment by a vet before being released. One was still at Titchfield Haven on Mar 6 and one was still being seen nearby at Brownwich Pond on Mar 5. On Mar 2 Burton Pond west of Pulborough had four birds present.

White Stork: 13 were seen on the near continent on Mar 2 with 4 and 1 being reported as 'remarkable observations' on Mar 3 and 4

Spoonbill: On Feb 27 there were 8 in Poole Harbour and 1 at Lodmoor (Weymouth)

Bewick's Swan: On Mar 6 Slimbridge reported that most had left (only 75 left where there had been over 300). The last date I have for the group of 13 at the Blashford Lakes is Feb 25

Whitefront Goose: The flock of around 300 at Slimbridge has not been seen (I think) since 189 were there on Mar 5.

Cackling Canada Goose: The minima bird at Titchfield Haven was reported on Feb 28

Brent Goose: On Mar 6 the Havant Wildlife Group found a flock of 400 in the grass field west of the south end of Pook Lane where no Brent have been seen earlier this winter (though it is a regular feeding place for Brent in previous winters). The fact that no Brent have fed in any of the fields on either side of Pook Lane this winter until now suggests to me that the geese seen there are different from those that have been in the area earlier in the winter, i.e. they are probably migrants stopping off at a site they recall from previous years stopovers. A similar arrival of passage birds in the Pagham area on Feb 28 may help to account for the presence of a flock of 1770 birds in the field north of Pagham Harbour that day.

Garganey: Reports of Garganey in Dorset on Feb 10 and possibly the same bird at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Feb 11 were subsequently discounted as being sightings of an escape from a collection but genuine migrants started to arrive on Mar 1 with a pair at Dungeness RSPB (earliest ever date there) and on Mar 2 the RBA news included reports from Kent, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. On Mar 3 three birds were at a Belgian site and more RBA reports came from Hampshire (one flew east past Titchfield Haven), Kent and Cheshire. Mar 4 brought news of a drake at Overton (headwaters of the R Test) and on Mar 5 there was another report of a drake at the Dungeness RSPB site

Eider: On Mar 3 Christchurch Harbour had their first sighting of passing birds - four flying east (on their way north to breed?)

Buzzard: The bird which turned up in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Feb 12 (and was still there on Mar 6) was (I assumed) a young bird trying to find a place for itself but it was not until now that I actually checked its features against those on Brian Fellows photo (on his new website - note the change of address) at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-734-buzzard-a-bm-06.03.10.jpg - this photo clearly shows the two main features that separate a juvenile from an adult (streaking in place of barring on the breast, and absence of a clear dark terminal bar to the tail)

Osprey: First migrant arrival to be reported (by RBA) was seen in Wiltshire on Mar 2

Coot: Evidence that these have now entered their breeding season comes from the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth where, on Mar 4, four birds were fighting each other.

Crane: On Mar 3 another offcourse migrant was seen in the Sheffield area of Yorkshire. Birds with better navigational ability are now being seen in large numbers on the near continent - e.g. on Mar 3 two sites in Belgium reported 1022 and 1163 birds respectively

Little Ringed Plover: First migrants arrived in Nottinghamshire and Lancashire on Mar 2 with another in Cornwall on Mar 3 and one in Devon on Mar 5

Ringed Plover: One seen at Slimbridge (where they are not normally seen) on Mar 4 was taken to be an early migrant

Purple Sandpiper: A count of 16 at Southsea Castle on Feb 28 is the highest of this winter so far at that site.

Woodcock: What are probably migrants returning to the continent are currently giving sightings in unexpected places - this week one was seen at Sinah Warren (south Hayling) and another at Denmead Creech Woods (both on Mar 5)

Black-tailed Godwit: Some of this week's reported counts include around 1000 on Pagham Harour north fields on Mar 5, 500 at Ringwood Blashford Lakes on Feb 27 and 418 at Titchfield Haven on that same day

Bar-tailed Godwit: Large flocks appear sporadically in the area between Langstone village and Northney Marina and they must, I think, have one or more alternate sites in Chichester or Langstone Harbour to which they move when they are not in the Northney area. On Mar 5 found some 370 there

Spotted Redshank: The Emsworth Nore Barn bird was still there on Mar 6

Med Gull: On Mar 1 Bob Chapman found 50 calling and displaying at the Hayling Oysterbeds

Little Gull: Last spring passage through the English Channel started on Mar 2 and peaked (with 1744 seen at Cap Gris-nez) on Mar 24. This year the first report of more than 9 birds came on Mar 6 with 951 birds seen at Cap Gris-nez.

Common Gull: These are now passing east in small numbers - Christchurch Harbour reported 15 on Mar 3 and Durlston had 20 on Mar 4 (these are by no means the first passage birds of the spring)

Lesser Blackback: On Mar 4 Durlston also noted 15 of these heading east

Glaucous Gull: An adult was seen and photographed in the Cuckmere valley on Mar 5

Sandwich Tern: Migrants are now definitely in the English Channel. The first which seems to have been definitely a migrant was off Dungeness on Feb 28. Portland had its first fly by on Mar 3 and by Mar 6 one had been seen at Cap Gris-nez and two at Rye Harbour

Common Tern: One reported at Dungeness on Feb 28 and seen again there on Mar 1

Puffin: Portland had its first sighting of the year on Mar 2 and Durlston saw one on Mar 3

Sand Martin: First of the year reported from Wiltshire on Mar 3

Yellow Wagtail: Not yet in England but a 'Blue Headed' was in the Netherlands on Mar 6

White Wagtail: First of the year reported at Slimbridge on Mar 2 with another in Cornwall on Mar 3. Portland has been reporting 'Alba Wagtails' arriving in off the sea since Mar 2

Waxwing: Highest RBA reported count for the whole of England this week was 76 birds on Mar 4

Wheatear: First seen in Cornwall on Mar 3 with three in that county on Mar 4 when one was at Keyhaven near Lymington. At least 5 other birds seen on Mar 5

Fieldfare: On Mar 1 Sandwich Bay reported 100 seen departing high north east (with another 140 on the ground)

Redwing: It seems that most have now left but around 50 were still on Warblington Farm fields on Mar 6. On Mar 1 one was heard singing at Sandwich Bay

Mistle Thrush: Until this year at least two singing birds could be heard in the east Havant area near my home but I have neither seen nor heard one this year so it is good that a pair made at least a one day appearance in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Mar 4

Dartford Warbler: A report on Mar 1 indicates that a pair is once again present in the south Haylin Sinah Common area

Lesser Whitethroat: John Clark has photographic evidence that one has been wintering in the Southampton area and has been seen regularly in one garden since Jan 23. Other wintering birds are present in Notts, Wilts and Bucks - some of them look like eastern race birds, maybe hinting that birds which breed in central Europe will in future head west to winter with us (as the Blackcaps already do)

Chiffchaff: Song heard on Mar 4 and 5 in the Basingstoke and Titchfield areas

Goldcrest and Firecrest: Both heard singing this week

Mealy (=Common) Redpoll: A 'probable only' at Eastleigh Lakeside on Feb 28

Bullfinch: A male seen in Pook Lane at Warblington on Mar 6 was a good local sighting but more unusual was one heard singing in the Henfield area on Mar 4 (the song is quiet, jumbled and unimpressive but clearly different from the normal call).

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Brimstone: After four reports of disturbed hibernators in Jan and Feb the main emergence started on Mar 1 with reports from Portsmouth and Crowborough. Four more reports came on Mar 2 from Swanmore (Meon Valley), Staunton Country Park at Havant, Eastbourne and Alresford areas

Small White: Late news of a second early emergence in Gosport - we already know of one there on Jan 21 and now we hear of one seen on Feb 8

Red Admiral: Widespread sightings this week

Small Tortoiseshell: Two reports on Mar 1 from Winchester and Shoreham, and two more on Mar 2 from Lewes and Rye

Peacock: Five reports this week including one from St Peter's Church, Northney, on Hayling where one flashed it wings on the carpet around the altar during a butterfly enthusiast's wedding rehearsal on Mar 3

Moths

Several leaf-miner micro species have taken wing in Kent this week. Other firsts have been the Brown Plume (Emmelina monodactyla), the March Moth and the Oak Beauty

Other Insects

Two reports of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee out foraging this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common Yew: This had started to flower (release pollen in the wind) on Mar 5 in both Havant and Warblington cemeteries

Lesser Celandine: General flowering starting from Mar 4

Common Whitlowgrass: Coming into full flower this week

Small Nettle: A single plant starting to flower at Havant rail station (entrance to Havant Park) on Mar 1

Coltsfoot: Best new flower of the week out at Durlston Mar 2

Butterbur: The normal male plants in Brook Meadow at Emsworth were starting to push up through the damp ground on Mar 3

Pot Marigold: Plants around the Havant Multi-storey carpark in flower on Mar 1

Hairy Garlic: Leaves of the plants at Nore Barn can now be seen before nettles grow around them and the plants become difficult to find.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Roe Deer: The deer on the north Hayling fields numbered 11 on Mar 1 and included a young buck to which the established buck seemed to object and which will soon, I suspect, be forced to leave the group and find its own mate (rather like the cygnets which have recently been forced to leave their parents at the start of this year's breeding season)

Adder: First to be seen above ground this year was at Pulborough Brooks on Feb 24. By Feb 27 a group of 7 were sunning themselves at Durlston and since then I have heard of them out at two other sites and read a plea for people to try to avoid disturbing their sunbathing which is vital to their well being at this time of year.

Grass Snake: Just one report so far from the Crawley area on Mar 2

Common Lizard: Also just one report of this species, also at Holmbush near Crawley on Mar 2

Fungi: A specimen of Yellow Brain fungus was found in the Nore Barn woodland at Emsworth on Mar 6 and John Goodspeed has been told of many Scarlet Elfcup being found at some un-named site probably in the greater Havant area on Mar 2


Wildlife diary and news for Feb 22 - 28 (Week 8 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: On Feb 24 the first breeding pair were back at Alresford Pond by the R Itchen. Two had been seen displaying on the Isle of Wight on Feb 15 and a pair were displaying at Rye Harbour on Feb 26

Bittern: Among the many currently in southern England two reports caught my eye - locally one was seen feeding in the open in fields by the Titchfield Canal path on Feb 22 (and probably the same bird was at Brownwich Pond on Feb 23) and on Feb 21 someone driving down a lane near Ditchling (north of Brighton) was very surprised to find one feeding at the roadside. (Years ago someone driving up Prospect Lane from Leigh Park to Rowlands Castle saw one in the roadway, adopting its beak up posture in the hope of making itself invisible, but requiring the car to swerve round the bird - that one was seemingly sickly and died soon after)

White Stork: None currently in England but on the near continent it would seem that birds are returning to their nest sites. Totalling the numbers reported on Trektellen for different sites on the same day, and thus possibly including duplications, we have 9 on Feb 19, 11 (maybe 20) on Feb 20, 3 on Feb 22, 46 on Feb 25, 18 on Feb 26 and 5 on Feb 27

Spoonbill: On Feb 26 the RBA reported an overall total of 18 in the UK of which up to 8 were in Poole Harbour and 5 in Cornwall

Bean Goose: On Feb 26 the 9 Tundra birds were thought to be still at Lymington (but in an area where the birds are elusive) and another 7 were still at Reculver on the north Kent Coast

Whitefront Goose: On Feb 27 there were still 325 at Slimbridge with much larger numbers in the Low Countries where, on Feb 26, the four sites with the largest totals that day reported 38180, 35340, 11726, and 9218 respectively

Barnacle Goose: Totals in England of 160 at Slimbridge, 49 on The Fleet (Weymouth), and just 7 at Sandwich Bay as against continental reported figures on Feb 26 of 31370, 21320 and 5000

Red-breasted Goose: The south Devon bird was still there on Feb 24

Shelduck: Two (presumably a pair back on breeding territory) were at the Budds Farm Pools on Feb 22. Last year they returned on Feb 17 and were last seen there (with 6 juveniles) on July 6.

Green-winged Teal: I have seen no reports of the Budds Farm bird since Feb 19 - maybe co-incidentally one has been at Slimbridge from Feb 21 to 27 at least

Smew: On Feb 23 there were 15 at the Dungeness RSPB pools with 4 at Rye Harbour on Feb 26 and one still at Blashford Lakes on that day.

Goshawk: Reports from three widely separated New Forest sites this week (including a pair displaying over an eastern wood) plus a more unexpected sighting in the Basingstoke area

Buzzard: The bird which turned up at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Feb 12 was still being seen there daily up to Feb 25 and is (I suspect) a young bird which has decided to settle in there. On Feb 27 one was soaring high over central Havant but that was probably a bird on an outing from somewhere like the Southleigh Forest.

Kestrel: In addition to the Buzzard the Brook Meadow site may have gained a new resident pair of Kestrels - a pair were displaying there on Feb 25 but it would be premature to assume they will stay and breed there

Common Crane: No further news of the bird in the Sussex Ouse valley since Feb 20 but one was seen to fly over Bedfordshire on Feb 25 (over Stotfold) and 26 (over Biggleswade). I guess this is an off course migrant as there has been a massive passage through the low countries between Feb 22 and 27 (e.g. on Feb 25 substantial numbers were seen at more than 10 sites with a peak site count of 721 birds - if no reports were duplicates the total would have been in excess of 2000 birds, while on Feb 27 at least one site reported 708 birds).

Golden Plover: The first report of summer plumage came from Slimbridge on Feb 21 when three of 157 birds were in colour. No doubt there is still a flock in Chichester Harbour (19 birds seen at Sandy Point on Feb 23) and on Feb 24 Titchfield Haven had 209 birds

Lapwing: These are probably starting to head back to breeding sites (report of 2 pairs displaying in Kent on Feb 20) while over in the Netherlands on site reporte 21980 birds on Feb 24 and another had 21235

Knot: These too are getting into breeding mode - an estimated 1500 birds in the south of Pagham Harbour on Feb 25 contained 'some pinkish birds'.

Little Stint: One was still in the Fishbourn Channel near Chichester on Feb 23

Black-tailed Godwit: This week's reports are of 50 in Christchurch Harbour on Feb 21, then 110 at Amberley Wild Brooks on Feb 22, 500 at Ibsley (Ringwood) on Feb 23, 78 on Eling Great Marsh (head of Southampton Water near Totton) on Feb 24, 38 at Yarmouth (IoW) on Feb 26, and 418 at Titchfield Haven on Feb 27.

Greenshank: Of local interest there was one on the flooded meadow south of Wade Court (immediately north of Langstone Mill Pond) on Feb 22 - I have never seen one there before.

Turnstone: Also of local interest, again suggesting birds on the move appearing at sites where they are not regularly seen, was a flock of around 40 Turnstone on the shingle by the Langbrook Stream mouth (South Moors shore) on Feb 22

Med Gull: These are now moving into breeding sites- Feb 25 brought the first news of 25 back at the Hayling Oysterbeds while on that same day an entry on the Rye Bay website commented on hearing the evocative calls of these birds back at Rye Harbour for the first time.

Sandwich Tern: No firm evidence for the arrival of the first migrants yet but one flying east past Selsey Bill on Feb 23 could have been one and one seen at Arne in Poole Harbour on Feb 24 was reported as a migrant (though there have been wintering birds in Poole Harbour, migrants are always seen moving along the coast long before entering harbours, and the comment that this bird 'had been around for a few days' almost proves it was not a migrant - they do not stop in one place but obey the instinct to keep moving on.

Barn Owl: A report of a pair already sharing a nest box at Arne in Dorset on Feb 25 is by no means early. That report does however give me a peg on which to hang the news that Havant Borough (Rob Williams) has erected another Owl Box on their land - this one is above your head as you walk up the Budds Mound approach road and turn right through the new gap in the earth wall to the new wooden viewing bench above the Budds Farm pools

Swift: Not a bird I expected to see in the current news but Trektellen tells us that on Feb 21 what may have been the first to return to Europe was over Punta de Calaburras, just east of Gibraltar

Hoopoe: What seem to be the first two migrant arrivals of the spring were one in Cornwall on Feb 21 and another in the Scillies on Feb 23 (a wintering bird in the IoW Brighstone area was still being seen there on Jan 12)

Skylark: A report of song over the Thorney Deeps on Feb 24 is not the first of the year - Durlston reported song on Jan 20 and may were singing on the Sussex Downs on Jan 21

Waxwing: These started arriving in England on Feb 12 but so far there have been few of them (max total in the whole UK seems to have 72 around Feb 17 and on Feb 26 the RBA service give 35+ as the total in the country)

Blackbird: I personally enjoyed my first full Blackbird song in Havant on Feb 25 but I am aware of at least four earlier reports starting with one heard by Brian Fellows in Emsworth on Jan 16. No general start of song yet.

Fieldfare: Still plenty to be found in southern England - biggest flocks this week were 400+ on the Pevensey Levels on Feb 21 and 130 at Sandwich Bay on Feb 25. In the Netherlands 2572 were reported at one site on Feb 24

Redwing: Few of these with a peak count of just 54 at Christchurch Harbour on Feb 21

Blackcap: First report of song from a male in Bognor on Feb 25 - several people are reporting newcomers in their gardens with Martin Hampton having four feeding in his Havant garden by Feb 26

Chiffchaff: Also first reported singing on Feb 24 in the Seaford area - other new songsters reported by Cliff Dean in the Rother valley near Rye on Feb 26 were Treecreeper, Marsh Tit (first reported Jan 31) and Nuthatch (first reported Jan 17)

Firecrest: These remain apparently more common than Goldcrests and among those seeing them this week were Kevin Stouse's local walk party in the Buriton area near Petersfield on Feb 21

Great Grey Shrike: The scarcity of these this winter is borne out by the RBA report on Feb 25 that there are only 4 in the whole UK

Hooded Crow: One seen in East Kent on Feb 21 and 25 with continental reports of 4 birds on Feb 27 (wintering birds moving north?)

Brambling: The number at the Blashford Lakes was up from 50 on Feb 18 to 80 on Feb 25 but no other large flocks in the news

Siskin: Also likely to be reflecting the northward movement of these birds was a count of 165 at Eastleigh Lakeside on Feb 24

Twite: Three were still at Paxton Pits near Bedford on Feb 21 with another 4 in East Kent near Pegwell Bay on Feb 26

Snow Bunting: The only southern flock I know of is on the north Kent coast - 16 birds there on Feb 26

Reed Bunting: Three males were singing atYarmouth (IoW) on Feb 26 (one had been heard at Arundel on Feb 19)

Corn Bunting: Of some 65 birds at Cheesefoot Head (east of Winchester) on Feb 21 some were singing

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

A couple more Red Admirals seen flying this week - no other butterflies reported.

Three new moths for the year were Common Flat-body (Agonopterix heracliana) in Sussex on Feb 24, Winter Shade (Tortricodes alternella) on Feb 23 and Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) in a Brighton house since Feb 12

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Cherry Plum: First flowers seen on Feb 22 on one branch of one tree beside Southmoor Lane in Havant

Hawthorn: See my Diary entry for Feb 26

Spurge Laurel: First seen flowering on Portsdown on Feb 3 with a second find on Feb 20 by Fareham Creek

Lungwort: First flowers on a garden escape in Havant on Feb 22

Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus): Plants by the Langbrook stream in the Langstone South Moors area were fully out on Feb 25

OTHER WILDLIFE

Common Frog: Their breeding season is at last beginning to get under way with the first report of Spawn from a garden in the wider Havant area on Feb 26. In the past I have known Frogs to spawn in mid-December but the start date has always been variable between then and early March - this year is definitely a late one as is indicated by a report from someone living in north Emsworth who says that for the past 10 years the Frogs have started to mate in her garden pond precisely on Feb 14 (that precision may be partly a function of that being the date on which the pond is checked) while this year no Frogs were in that garden until Feb 24. Another factor in the shortage of reports of Frogs is the ongoing disease which has over the past ten years or more killed the majority of Frogs in southern England - nowadays no Frogs breed in most of the ponds that used to be overflowing with them

Great Crested Newt: Males were in breeding 'dress' on the night of Feb 24 at the Dungeness RSPB site when Brian Banks checked the pools. The temperature was up to 6 Centigrade and the air was damp. Brian wrote .. "26 animals were present in one of the ponds, the males in full breeding dress, displaying to the females. No sign of any eggs as yet, but it will not be long now, if the weather stays mild. Rather pleasing also were the numbers of juvenile great crested newts in the water too, indicating that last year was a good breeding season. Walking to the ponds required a degree of care because there were also newts crossing the path, to join their kin in the ponds. This migration was also apparent at Northiam where numbers of newts in our garden pond have increased over the past few days. Roll-on springtime!"

Adder: The very first to be reported as out of hibernation (probably earlier than is good for it) was seen at Pulborough Brooks on Feb 24


Wildlife diary and news for Feb 15 - 21 (Week 7 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: A good count of 792 of the Dutch coast on Feb 13 (when 188 were off Dungeness, 33 off Christchurch Harbour and 27 off Selsey Bill)

Great Crested Grebe: On Feb 15 the big winter flock off Bournemouth (which had reached a Dorset record of 332 on Jan 27) was down to 68 birds (and a pair were seen displaying off Puckpool Point IoW)

Fulmar: On Feb 15 8 were around Gore Cliff nest sites on the IoW while one (possible from the same colony) was seen from Sandy Point on Hayling.

Cormorant: The night roost in the Kent Stour Valley was counted as being around 270 birds on Feb 15

Bittern: A new site with one present on Feb 17 was Twissells Pond (TN 594596 ) at Heathfield near Crowborough

Great White Egret: The Sandwich Bay bird was still there on Feb 17 and the Harbridge (Ringwood) bird was still there on Feb 18 (but may have then left as one flew south over the Avon Causeway on Feb 20)

Glossy Ibis: 3 were still present in Somerset on Feb 16

Bean Goose: The party of 9 which arrived on Feb 7 were still at Lymington on Feb 20 (when the flock at Dwingerveveld in Holland numbered 2638)

Red-breasted Goose: The bird at Dawlish Warren was still there on Feb 18

Green-winged Teal: The bird at Havant Budds Farm pools was still there on Feb 19

Pintail: Locally 5 were in Emsworth Harbour on Feb 19

Velvet Scoter: The three birds off Tichfield Haven were still there on Feb 20

Red Kite: Three were soaring wth four Buzzards over East Meon near Petersfield on Feb 17

Marsh Harrier: The Langstone Harbour bird was seen again on Feb 18

Common Buzzard: A pair were making a territorial/courtship display flight over the west fields of Warblington Farm on Feb 19

Grey Partridge: One (of at least 25 in the area) was heard singing on Steyning Round Hill near Worthing on Feb 20

Common Crane: The single bird that has been in the Ouse valley south of Lewes since Feb 11 was still there on Feb 20

Lapwing: Two pairs were already displaying over Bedgebury Pinetum (TQ 718335 just in Kent east of the A21 north of Robertsbridge) on Feb 20 - maybe its worth checking the Gipsies Plain (south of Havant Thicket) for them there

Knot: Maybe these are now starting to move east - on Feb 14 there were 59 at Lymington, on feb 15 two were seen at the mouth of the Hamble, ob Feb 16 there were 400 in Pagham Harbour and on Feb 19 Emsworth Harour had 82 with another 2 seen off the Warblington fields;

Long-billed Dowitcher: One has been at Bude in Cornwall from Feb 15 to 19 at leasr

Black-tailed Godwit: Feb 15 brought a count of 75 at Christchurch Harbour with 31 at Yarmouth (IoW) on Feb 17 when 480 were at the north of Pagham Harbour. On Feb 19 there were 40 at Amberley Wild Brooks

Whimbrel: A wintering bird was seen in the Emsworth Channel off the Thorney Great Deeps on Feb 20 (another has been seen recently at the head of Southampton Water at Eling Great Marsh)

Spotted Redshank: I at last managed to see the Warblington Nore Barn bird west of Emsworth on Feb 19

Med Gull: There has been some discussion about these birds becoming restless and moving from winter sites recently and I see that on Feb 13 there were 196 at Ferrybirdge and on Feb 14 Lymington marshes had 128 but I have not heard of any ariving back in Langstone Harbour yet. At Lymington the birds were said to be feeding on marine organisms but when they get back to Langstone for breeding it is noticeable that Med Gull do not feed in the harbour but exclusively forage inland on fields and tips.

Laughing Gull: The first (unconfirmed) report of one in Biritsh waters this year came from Cooden Beach (at Bexhill west of Hastings) onFeb 20

Iceland Gull: A second winter bird has been seen around Land's End recently and a third winter bird flew east along the north Kent coast on Feb 15

Long-eared Owl: One heard calling in the Kent Stour Valley on Feb 14 and another seen on the power station at Dungeness by day on Feb 17 may suggest that wintering birds are now moving north

Woodlark: It seems that these are now arriving back at breeing sites - on Feb 17 two were seen at Woolmer Pond near Alton and on Feb 19 four were in the Ashley Walk area near Godshill in the extreme north west of the New Forest

Water Pipit: A small flock of these usually builds up at the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton at this time of year and at least 11 were there on Feb 16 while a mixed total of 25 Meadow and Water Pipits was put up there on Feb 19

Pied Wagtail: A night roost of 259 birds was seen at the Princess Royal Hospital (Haywards Heath in Sussex) on Feb 19

Waxwing: The RBA service reported a total of 72 located across seven English counties on Feb17

Fieldfare: On Feb 13 an estimated 500 were in north Kent a Seasalter, 300 were at Sandwich Bay on on Feb 14 with 80 at the Pagham Harbour North Walls on Feb 17

Song Thrush: Several have been singing regularly since Feb 15 here in Havant

Redwing: Fewer of these currently in southern England than the Fieldfare. Locally more than 20 were in the Staunton Country Park near Rowlands Castle on Feb 12 and 220 were south of Daw Lane (Hayling) on Feb 13. A single lone bird was at Warblington Farm on Feb 19.

Mistle Thrush: On Feb 19 one was singing in north Emsworth and another at the Arundel Wildfowl reserve - these are the first reports I know of for this year other than one in the Alton area on Jan 19

Dartford Warbler: Five widely scattered reports of sightings this week including one singing in the northwest New Forest on Feb 19

Blackcap: The Cosham (Portsmouth) garden in which Theo and Graham Roberts have studied wintering Blackcaps since 1969 has had at least 6 birds present this winter.

Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler: One reported at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk on Feb 13. If you want to know the difference between a standard Yellow-browed and the Hume's see http://www.warbler.phytoconsult.nl/humei.htm I have seen no reports of Hume's this year or last (and only two reports of Yellow-browed since Nov 9 when the autumn peak of reports ended.

Dusky Warbler: One of these has been around Lockwood Reservoir (TQ 353 903) in the Lee Valley passing through the Walthamstow area of London since Feb 14 (the species should be wintering in south east Asia after breeding in east Asia) Wikipaedia says .. "This small warbler is prone to vagrancy as far as western Europe in October and has wintered in Britain despite a 3000 km distance from it breeding grounds." It has in the past been found in West Sussex and Dorset and just once in Hampshire (on 2 Nov 2006 at Sandy Point on Hayling)

Starling: An evening roost of 3400 birds was reported at the Pagham Harbour North Walls on Feb 17

Brambling: The number at the Blashford Lakes shot up to 50 on Feb 18 - maybe a sign that these birds are now moving north from the continent and will soon appear in some local gardens?

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

This week's major item of butterfly news is the first sighting of a Speckled Wood in the Worthing area of Sussex on Feb 19. This is the earliest ever emergence in Sussex though there are earlier records elsewhere - 16 Jan 2007, 26 Jan in both 2007 and 2008, and 4 Feb in 2004. Also this week there have been five sightings of Red Admiral and one female Brimstone in a house near Winchester on Feb 18

In Thanet (Kent) the first wingless female Dotted Border Agriopis marginaria was found on Feb 7 (before any males)

There were also reports of Honey Bee and Bumblebee flying in Kent

On Feb 15 there was a more significant report from Portland of a Western Conifer Seed Bug. Sightings of these have been quite frequent along the south coast in autumn months (12 reports between Aug 24 and Oct 30 last year) since the first arrived here in 2008 (they reached Europe from America with timber shipped to Italy in 1999 and have since spread across Europe). All previous sightings seem to have been of newly arrived migrants flying on the autumn - the current sighting seems to be the very first record of one settled and surviving in England

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Lesser Celandine: The only flowers I know of so far are those by the Lymbourne stream which have had no more than 2 flowers of buds since I found the first on Dec 26 until this week when I coulted 7 flowers on Feb 20

Winter Aconite: Brian Fellows found the first of these flowers out in the Bishops Palace garden at Chichester on Feb 15 (at a new site in the garden)

Common Whitlowgrass: As with the Celandines the number to be found flowering has started to increase ( though only half a dozen plants were flowering on Feb 15)

Blackthorn: The bush on the seawall of the Nore Barn woodland at Emsworth still had at least one flower open on Feb 19

Speedwell: Common Field Speedwell has never stopped flowering through the winter but this week I found the first Thyme-leaved (Feb 15) and later the first Grey Field Speedwell (Feb 18) around Havant

Oxford Ragwort: I found this flowering twice during Januayr but a single flower seen on Feb 20 was the first I had come across since Jan 18

Smooth Hawksbeard: A single flower (first of the year) was seen on a plant growing as a weed in a flower pot in my garden on Feb 17

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: After a couple of recent reports of a single male Otter in the lower Avon and Christchurch Harbour Feb 18 brought news of a female Otter with three cubs seen more that once in Christchurch Harbour recently

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: Ten were off Portland on Feb 16

Common Seal: One described as a 'young Seal' was at the mouth of the R Hamble on Feb 15

Flat fish: The Durlston Rangers Diary for Feb 18 says that most fish leave coastal waters at this time of year and that Flounders and Dabs are the main species still to be found close to the shore


Wildlife diary and news for Feb 8 - 14 (Week 6 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

White-billed Diver: One was seen at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Feb 11(the last south coast sighting that I am aware of was at Dungeness on 26 Apr 2008)

Great Crested Grebe: The flock on the sea off Southbourne (Bournemouth) which had peaked at a Dorset record 332 birds on Jan 27 was down to 224 on Feb 8

Red Necked Grebe: One was in Christchurch Harbour on Feb 8 and 9 (first seen there on Feb 6)

Slavonian Grebe: One was in Langstone Harbour off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Feb 7. Although there have been 8 reports of this species in the Hayling Bay/Black Point area this year I have only one previous report from Langstone Harbour (on Jan 19)

Black-necked Grebe: Also off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Feb 7 were 23 Black-necks - marginally the highest count for the year here

Bittern: The Testwood Lakes at Totton (Southampton) has been a new site for Bitterns this week with two seen there on Feb 7,8, and 9. Two other 'new sites' this week were Brownwich Pond (west of Titchfield Haven) and the AnnaValley immediately south of the A303 at Andover

Night Heron: A second hand report with a good description of the bird seen comes from Ditchling Common near Burgess Hill in West Sussex where a possible juvenile bird was seen in a garden on Feb 10

Little Egret: Simon Ingram was at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Feb 10 and, after listing other sightings, he writes .. "Did my good deed for the day by rescuing a Little Egret that I spotted leaving east from the back of the Fishtail. Its feet were tangled in fishing line and as it flew low away from me I suspected that if the line snagged in brambles, the bird would be brought down. 300yds later I saw it disappear out of view where I would not expect it to disappear. I found the bird perched in the top of a bramble bush next to the Little Auk pool just east of the flooded track leading to jetty. Camera/ rucksack and bins down, I then found myself wading across to try and help bird.

After safely securing the head end I managed to free the wings and legs from the bramble and with a quick tug the line too. Then with Little Egret under arm with one hand securing upper neck, I managed to pick up my bins, camera and rucksack and make my way to the sea wall.

Of course there is never anybody around when you need help. My bird handling skills did not allow me to hold neck and wings while trying to untangle fishing line from two gangly legs!!! Eventually help arrived and after the guy did a double take when I asked for help, he kindly whipped out his penknive and a few moments later we were watching it fly strongly towards the Pile of Shite and then looping back onto saltmarsh. The bird had a few superficial injuries but was fine".

Great White Egret: A single bird was seen in the Ibsley (Ringwood) area on both Feb 7 and 9 - it was still to be seen on Feb 13

Bewick's Swan: 14 or more were present in the Blashford Lakes area from Feb 7 to 10 and 43 were seen at Burpham (Arundel) on Feb 7 where there had been 62 on Feb 6

Bean Goose: On Feb 9 the entry on Lee Evans blog recording rare birds in the UK included .. "Hampshire has been rewarding birders with some quality birding in recent days, with a party of 9 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE taking top billing, showing distantly with 3 Eurasian White-fronted Geese in grassy fields along Iley Lane, Keyhaven" .. These 9 birds were still there on Feb 14 but the accompanying Whitefronts have not been reported since Feb 10

Green-winged Teal: The bird which has been on Budds Farm pools at Havant since Jan 9 was still there on Feb 13 (with what was thought to be the regular 'Fudge Duck')

Pintail: On Feb 7 John Clark reported 150 near the Avon Causeway south of Ringwood

Garganey: A male was reported on the River Stour near Blandford in Dorset on Feb 10 and a group of four were said to be at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Feb 11. While the four at Keyhaven may have been misidentied (the reporter is a new name to me) the male should be unmistakeable. The 2008 Hampshire Bird Report gives the earliest arrival date for the species as 2 Mar 2003, the latest ever date as 29 Nov 1953, and does not indicate that the species has ever wintered in the county. The Sussex report for 2008 gives the earliest date as 2 Feb and the latest as 13 Dec. My own information is that the last sighting in Hampshire last year was Oct 16 at Farlington Marshes while the latest anywhere in southern England was Oct 22 at the Hayle estuary in north Cornwall.

Scaup: Both a male and female were on Ivy Lake at Chichester on Feb 14. Four Scaup were on Ivy Lake on Feb 12

Velvet Scoter: The three birds which have been off Titchfield Haven since Jan 13 were still there on Feb 9 and the single which has been in Langstone Harbour since Jan 21 was seen on Feb 13

Goosander: The night roost count at the Blashford Lakes on Feb 7 was once again 98 but the peak daytime count of birds at Eyeworth Pond in the New Forest was up to 38 on Feb 8

Smew: News of two flying past Dungeness on Feb 13 probably indicates that these birds are starting to leave us.

Eider: On Feb 14 Andy Johnson saw at least 15 distantly offshore from Sandy Point on Hayling - presumably birds on the move back north.

Marsh Harrier: A female was again quartering the Thorney Island Little Deeps area on Feb 8 and on Feb 13 what may well be the same bird was seen over the RSPB Islands in Langstone Harbour

Sparrowhawk: These are now becoming more easily seen as spring approaches - the first to be seen soaring over my Havant garden was spotted on Feb 9 shortly after I had seen another bird hunting in Havant (it shot past the door of the Police Station at high speed only two feet off the ground). Another was seen this week perched on one of the high rise blocks of flats in the Mile End area off Portsmouth where the M275 enters the city.

Buzzard: Another item of local interest this week was the sighting of a Buzzard perched on a tree overhanging the Lymbourne stream by the footbridge just south of the A27. I have never heard of one in that area before and wonder if it was a young bird hatched by the Warblington farm pair and now seeking its own hunting area? The idea of young birds moving into new areas at this time of year (perhaps after being 'seen off' from their parent's territories) perhaps gets some support from my sighting of one by the Langbrook Stream/Langstone Technology Park on Jan 30 and by the arrival of another Buzzard at Brook Meadow in Emsworth this week

Gyr Falcon: This week one has been seen in Cornwall and another in County Durham - impressive ticks for those who see these birds

Quail: On Feb 10 Martin Cade put a record shot of a Quail seen at Portland on the observatory website and wrote .. "This bird has presumably been present since 7th January when a likely quail was flushed in the same area; following three more sightings in the last fortnight, a concerted flush through the area today produced this one flight view. There's no reason to suppose it isn't a Common Quail but in the light of Portland's recent run of dodgy gamebirds - all of which have presumably been released here - we wonder if it's really possible to rule out a released/escaped Japanese Quail on this sort of view.

On Feb 11 he added .. "Also some more Quail news: one correspondent at Southwell has been in touch to report that apparently Quail(s), together with Pheasants and Grey Partridges, have indeed been released at the Bill in recent months; we weren't really aware until having a trawl on the web that Common as well as Japanese Quails are routinely kept for the commercial egg trade and for sale as pets, and we don't know which species is supposed to have been released here. With regard to the specific identification, Nial Moores reports from east Asia that his experience is that Japanese Quail shows a more conspicuous pale trailing edge to the secondaries than shown by our bird (he also notes that he has recently seen and photographed a singing male Japanese Quail that had almost no/no rufous in its head pattern, suggesting that many field guides are not representing the full range of plumage variation); additionally, Nial reports that the typical flight call of japonica sounds fairly harsh (John Lucas has heard the Portland bird several times as it's taken flight and he notes the call to have a soft, whistling quality)."

This information may shed fresh light on John Eyre's encounter with a Quail at the Hayling Oysterbeds on 31 Jan 2003

Coot: In past winters there has often been a big flock of Coot on the Thorney Little Deeps but this winter they have chosen to use Emsworth Harbour and on Feb 1 more than 100 could be seen there (with few on the Emsworth ponds)

Common Crane: On Feb 11 one spent an hour by the Sussex Ouse in the Southease area before flying west - other than the resident flock of 34 in north Norfolk this is the first report of a Crane that I have seen this year and may indicate the start of spring passage ( or at least the urge to move that still influences birds that have long abandoned a regular migratory habit ). This bird was subsequently seen several times at Durham Farm in the Ouse valley up to Feb 14 at least. Late news tells of it flying in the Hunston area south of Chichester on Feb 8

Avocet: The Havant Wildlife Group were in the Prinsted/Nutbourne area on Feb 13 but could only see 4 Avocets where there had been 13 on Feb 3. The tide should have been fairly high when the group were there and so the Avocet should have been gathered together on the spit in Nutbourne Bay rather than feeding in distant parts where they could escape attention - this suggests that Brian Fellows is right in surmising that they have also felt the call of spring and abandoned their winter quarters.

Purple Sandpiper: 10 were seen at Southsea Castle on Feb 8

Woodcock: Eight reports this week show that plenty of these birds are still around - one was at Sinah gravel pit lake on Feb 11 and another was seen near West Meon on Feb 9. Two at Dungeness on Feb 11 and five at Sandwich Bay on Feb 12 may indicate that some of our winter visitors are now returning to the continent.

Black-tailed Godwit: These birds normally move from the harbour shores to flooded grassland at this time of year and a count of 2465 made by John Clark near the Avon causeway on Feb 7 (following a slighty less likely annonymous report of 5000 birds there on Jan 28). This move to grassland may have started as early as Jan 16 when a 'sudden influx' was reported at Titchfield Haven (with a count of 496 birds there that day and another of 'several hundred' on Jan 17 - no news from Titchfield since then). A similar move in Sussex brought 1400 birds to the fields north of Pagham Harbour on Jan 30.

Common Gull: On Jan 25 I noticed an increase in the number of these on the Langstone shore and reports from Sandwich Bay of 720 present on Feb 4 and then 1400 on Mar 12 seem to indicate that a spring passage northward is already under way.

Glaucous Gull: A first winter bird at Dungeness on Feb 7 may be the same that was there on Jan 4 (and possibly joined a secong at Rainham Marshes in Essex on Jan 23 and 24. The only other bird reported on the south coast so far this year is a 'probable' in Cornwall on Jan 1

Kittiwake: On Feb 5 200 pairs were occupying nest sites in the Seaford area

Sandwich Tern: One flew east through Hayling Bay on Feb 13 - almost certainly one of the local wintering birds but it could have been an early migrant

Barn Owl: One, sometimes two, could be reguarly seen before dusk hunting over the reeds and rough grass inland of the spit at Nutbourne Bay in past years but I have not heard of them since Feb 2006 so it is exciting to hear, albeit at second hand, that there have been recent sightings there.

Little Owl: On Feb 13 a male was heard 'singing' at Warsash/Hook

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Three more reports this week of sightings at Ebernoe (north of Midhurst), near Faccombe in far north Hampshire and at Mark Ash Wood in the New Forest

Woodlark: 5 birds were found at three sites in the New Forest on Feb 7 - presumably newly back on their breeding territories

Waxwing: It seems that a late invasion of Britain by these birds may be underway. On Feb 7 a party of 9 were reported at Holbury near the M27 west of Southampton and on Feb 9 a motorist stuck in traffic on the A259 at Littlehampton saw one in roadside trees while on that day Lee Evans reported a total of 17 in the UK as a whole. On Feb 13 Lee said .. "With a flurry of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS arriving in Britain this week, being pushed further south from Finland, after berry stocks there started to run dry, one bird has made it all the way down on to Scilly - showing in Hugh Town, St Mary's, this morning". (Sadly a comment on this news said on Feb 14 that the bird had been killed by a cat). Also on Feb 13 RBA said that a total of 87 Waxwing were now in the UK

Dipper: One was seen near Maiden Castle in Dorset on Feb 7 and there may have been one in Hampshire (on Feb 10 Paul Winter, when passing on news of the Waxwings at Holbury, wrote .. "I have also been told of Dipper and Hoopoe" .. but gives no date or location

Fieldfare: There would seem to have been a northward movement of these from the continent this week. On Feb 11 there were around 7500 at a Dutch site and 8000 in the Kent Stour valley while Portland recorded 44 seen flying in off the sea that day (after 74 had flown north there with 3 Redwing on Feb 10) and a flock of 200 was reported from the Isle of Wight. Also on Feb 10 a flock turned up in fields on the eastern fringe of Emsworth.

Redwing: Fewer of these currently reported but a flock of 100 at Sandwich Bay on Feb 12 was probably heading north

Dartford Warbler: A total of 54 seen at 16 sites in the New Forest during the weekend of Feb 6,7 shows that the species still has a reasonable presence there after the cold weather.

Willow Tit: At least two of these were present in the Faccombe area north east of Andover on both Feb 7 and 8

Great Grey Shrike: Until Feb 7 the only bird found in the New Forest this winter was the one in the Holmsley area south of Burley but the Shrike Survey on Feb 7 found both that bird and another some 5 km north of it in Backley Bottom (SU 223080 west of the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary)

Raven: The increasing number of these birds in Hampshire is indicated by the presence of 18 birds at 9 sites (9 breeding pairs??) in the New Forest during the Feb 6,7 Shrike Survey

Brambling: A flock of 80 was found at Mark Ash Wood in the New Forest on Feb 7 - the largest flock I have heard of in southern England this winter (there were only some 30 Chaffinch with them so maybe the Brambling were a flock already on passage north when they would travel without Chaffinches)

Twite: A group of three were still at Paxton Pits (north of Bedford) up to Feb 8 and at least two were still there on Feb 11. More interesting to me is a report of 2 seen in the extreme north of Hampshire at Netherton (SU 377577 12 km north of Andover). The observer was Ashley Howe who wrote that at 07:45 on Feb 8 they flew low over a roadside strip of woodland near Netherton 'calling and singing'.

Corn Bunting: On Feb 9 a flock of 60 were at Beeding Hill (north of Shoreham) and on Feb 10 there were still 40 at Cheesefoot Head (east of Winchester) where the flock had exceeded 55 on Jan 31 (400 were reported at Beeding Hill on Jan 10)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

The only insect report this week comes from Frank Foulger in Portsmouth who was surprised to see a queen Bumblebee flying strongly in February. I'm not sure of the species nor of the reason for it to be flying - had it perhaps been disturbed from hibernation by a mouse searching for food? Whatever the reason it has become increasingly common to see occasional bumblebees active right through the winter months - perhaps it never gets cold enough to initiate hibernation?

The following extract from http://www.bumblebee.org/lifeMate.htm indicates that the cause of awakening should not have been the warmth of the sun (and it does not mention the possibility that I have heard of with hibernating Bats - the need to wake up and defecate from time to time to prevent build up of toxins within the body). What the Bumblebee.org page does have to say about hibernation is ...

"New queens drink lots of nectar to build up their fat body and fill their honey stomach. This will enable them to survive the winter hibernation, then they find a suitable place to hibernate. In the UK this is often under a tree root or at the base of a wall, but it is never in a place that could be warmed up early in the year by the sun. This is to prevent premature emergence. So in the UK the hibernation site and nest site are usually located in very different situations. As with many other animals that hibernate, it appears that bumblebees must reach a certain weight in order to survive the winter. For the largest bumblebee in the UK, Bombus terrestris, the queens must weigh at least 0.6 g to successfully hibernate and emerge next spring. It is during hibernation that queens can become parasitized by the nematode Sphaerularia bombi.

"During hibernation if the temperature falls below a certain point the glycerol is automatically produced in the queen's body. This is a form of anti-freeze and prevents ice crystals forming which would cause the fluids inside her to expand and her body to burst."

Another website ( http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/bumble.htm ) states .. "With warmer winters now occuring regularly, some Bumblebees are no longer hibernating, obtaining nectar from ivy and other winter flowers."

After writing the above I saw an entry on the Hants Butterfly Conservation website describing the recent find of a Lappet moth caterpillar at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Hairy Bittercress: It seems that I did not record this as flowering in January but it was found in Havant on Feb 9

Common Whitlowgrass: Just one plant had opening flower beds in Havant on Feb 8 - see my Diary entry for that day

Early Dog Violet (V. reichenbachiana): I had seen a single flower of this in my garden on Jan 26 and this week on Feb 9 I found two flowers out in the Havant Eastern Road Cemetery (where there will be a massive display next month)

Common Chickweed: I have seen masses of Chickweed with unopen flower buds earlier this year but this week many of the flowers have been seen open (first on Feb 9)

Wild Primrose: Brian Fellows found Primroses which seem to be wild in flower on the banks of the River Ems at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Feb 7 (see http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-750-primroses-bm-07.02.10.jpg)

Herb Robert: Theis had started to flower at Durlston on Feb 14

Winter Heliotrope: These have been in flower since Oct 29 but it was not until Feb 5 that I saw a mention of the strong vanilla scent that the flowers give off in warm sunlight - report from Durslton

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: The Otter which got into last week's summary when it was thought possible that a single male was establishing a territory covering the lower Avon valley from Ringwood down to Christchurch has now been seen by day (Feb 6) in Christchurch Harbour.

Stoat: No special current news of this species but for those who do not receive the HOS Newsletter (Kingfisher) I must quote an article in it by Les Stride which illustrates the ingenuity of Stoats when in search of prey as well as the difficulty experienced by those intent on protecting one species against attack by others. Three or four years ago an earth bank was built at the HWT Testwood Lakes reserve with the intention of encouraging Sand Martins to nest and over the past three years the number of pairs nesting there has increased annually with 103 out of 153 available nest holes being occupied in 2009. Les gives no detail on the number of young raised but when the second brood eggs hatched in 2009 parents were seen feeding young at 86 holes. Sadly very few of the young in that brood fledged as on Aug 13 a Stoat was seen to take the young from nine nests but it is likely that this was not the first or last visit by the Stoat and on Aug 15 the adults abandoned the site (with maybe a few young with them). In a normal sand quarry cliff face it would be impossible for a Stoat to reach the nest holes but with this relatively small artificial cliff face the Stoat was seen to get at the top row of nest holes by leaning over the top of the bank, and then to get at lower holes by leaping up from the ground, getting a front 'foothold' in one of the nest holes and then (because the holes were evenly spaced) the Stoat could move from hole to hole along each row, taking young birds from any occupied holes.

Muntjac Deer: A birder at Bransbury Common (by the R Test just south of the A303 east of Andover) on Feb 8 saw an estimated 10 Muntjac at dusk and this report raised the question in my mind as to how likely it was to see a small herd together rather than, say, a family group. Google helped to answer this with the first page that came up in response to "Muntjac herd" - it was a UK Safari page describing how an observer in Hertfordshire had been driving home at dusk and had spotted a herd of around 12 Muntjac out in the middle of a field. His photos show some of these Deer and emphasis the small size of the deer which stand less that half the height of the Marsh Thistles among which they were seen

Hare: On Feb 8 two were 'boxing' among a group of 8 seen on the Downs by the River Arun above Amberley.

Frog: The first report of mating came on Feb 8 from Portsdown where two or more were 'in amplexus' (males grasping the females and holding on until the later started laying eggs which would have to be fertilised

Newts and other amphibia: On Feb 12 Brian Banks reported on the Rye Bay website the unwelcome news that Common Newts in his garden pond at Northiam (north of Hastings) had been infected with a fungus called Chytridiomycosis which can kill most amphibian species and is thought to have arrived in this country via American Bullfrogs or other introduced species such as Alpine Newts. This news is the more worrying since it comes after a lengthy campaign to 'cull' the Bullfrogs which had established a feral colony in Kent and it shows that the fungus is still present in this country despite the cull being apparently successful

Fungus: Of local interest the very common Candlesnuff fungus was found for the first time at the Brook Meadow site this week


Wildlife diary and news for Feb 1 - 7 (Week 5 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

My apologies for a briefer than usual summary, and for the absence of diary entires for last week as a result of my wife having a medical emergency - 22 hours in the local (QA) Hospital from Monday to Tuesday after being sent in for an X-Ray taking 5 mins set the tone for the week during which I have had little time for getting out. Thankfully things are settling down a bit and the waves of NHS bureaucracy are being replaced by genuine care though the doctors still have not diagnosed the cause of sudden severe pain affecting her left leg (the X-Ray showed it was not a simple hip problem)

On a more cheerful note there are many signs of spring - the first Swallows have reached southern Spain and White Storks have been seen in Belgium, new sping flowers include Spurge Laurel and the first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly has been seen. Locally bird song increases daily and several species are now nest building while at least one Wood Pigeon pair have been feeding a Sqab in their nest

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-throated Diver: We rarely see these along the south coast except in ones or twos so a party of 19 at Gorran Haven in Cornwall on Feb 6 was unusual (a single was off Titchfield Haven that day)

Great Crested Grebe: The flock in Rye Bay has increased and was estimated at 800 birds off Pett Level on Jan 31

Red-necked Grebe: One was seen in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on both Feb 1 and 2 with another off Bexhill on Feb 3 and one in Christchurch Harbour on Feb 4 (still there on Feb 5 and 6). On Feb 6 two flew east past Selsey Bill and one was seen at Mevagissey in Cornwall

Slavonian Grebe: Four were present in Hayling Bay on Feb 6 when another was seen off Selsey Bill

Black-necked Grebe: No reports of the Langstone Harbour flock this week but ten were in the south west of Poole Harbour on Feb 6 when eight were in Portland Harbour and two wre in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Feb 3 and 4

Cormorant: Fishermen will not have been happy to see 82 just off Newhaven on Feb 1 and their Dutch counterparts will have been even more dismayed by 1072 of them off Egmond aan Zee in the Netherlands on Jan 31

Shag: a flock of 35 seen fishing off Christchurch Harbour on Feb 6 were probably birds gathering to nest on the Isle of Wight

Bittern: Lee Evans estimates that more than 80 birds are currently in the UK, making this a good winter for the species in this country. Highest count I am aware of is of 6 at Castle Water (Rye Harbour) on Feb 6 with Marazion in Cornwall having 5 on Feb 1. A new report this week is of one on the Sussex Ouse south of Lewes on Feb 6

Cattle Egret: Until Feb 6 the only recent reports have been of up to 5 in total at two sites in Cornwall but one was seen by the Sussex Ouse south of Lewes on Feb 6

White Stork: A report of 12 at a Belgian site on Feb 6 suggests that the first migrants are returning to breed in the near continent. On Feb 3 two of these birds were said to be in the London area - overshoots or escapes?

Mute Swan: The Langstone Mill Pond pair are back to defend their territory and on Feb 6 I saw the male sailing around the pond with his wings raised to the 'busking' position while the three cygnets that have remained with their parents up to now were all sitting disconsolately on the seawall footpath with a constant stream of humans having to make their way around them - the cygnets definitely had the puzzled look of those whose nearest and dearest have turned against them for no obvious reason. Seeing the male/cob with his wings half raised I realised that while there is no connection with our modern use of the word 'busking' (begging with music) there is a strong connection between the shape of the Swan's wings and that of a Victorian lady's 'busk' (combination of corset and bra)

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge peaked at 315 on Jan 15 but is now down to 260 on Feb 5 whereas the number at Ibsley near the Blashford Lakes has increased from around 6 on Jan 1 to 15 on Jan 30 and Feb 4. The number at Burpham, close to Arundel on the R Arun, has also shot up from 4 on Jan 1 and 28 on Jan 2 to 63 on Jan 29 and Feb 1 (with 62 on Feb 6) and this increase matches the departure of a herd of up to 28 from the Henfield Levels (R Adur) on Jan 27 (though a single family of 4 were back there on Feb 6). Over in the Rye area there is probably another herd of around 60 birds (last reported on Jan 27)

Whooper Swan: The family of 4 which spend their nights at Chichester lakes were present on Feb 3, 4 and 5.

Canada Goose: In addition to the standard race of these birds the 'minima' race bird was still at Titchfield Haven on Jan 31, the 'Todds' race bird was still at Slimbridge on Jan 23 and on Feb 6 I saw a report of a 'Richardson's Canada Goose' in Scotland (Argyll)

Barnacle Goose: The group of 5 birds which have been at Titchfield from Jan 17 to Feb 6 (at least) are said to the the remnant of the 'Baffin's Gang' which once numbered 42 birds summering at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth and wintering at Titchfield Haven. The last time I saw a report of them at Baffins was in 2008 when a pair hatched 5 goslings at Baffins - I wonder if the 5 at Titchfield are these siblings? To put this small number into perspective Jan 30 brought a report of around 90,000 in the Netherlands and there are currently 163 at Slimbridge.

Brent Goose: A good number of these were feeding avidly in the water's edge at Langstone on Feb 6 in mid-afternoon and their scattered distribution around the shore suggested to me that they might be birds passing through (a sudden increase in the number of Lapwing there suggested the same thought of birds moving back to breeding grounds). While there is no suggestion that the bulk of the local wintering birds are about to depart (the last will probably still be here at the beginning of April) some birds are definitely heading east. On Feb 1 Cap Gris-Nez reported 785 that are not normally there and on Feb 2 Dungeness had 320 passing east while another 112 went past Seaford on Jan 4

Gadwall: Another indication of birds on the move comes from unusual reports of these duck - on Feb 5 the number at Budds Farm pools in Havant had more than doubled to 42 and on Feb 6 two pairs were in the main channel of Emsworth Harbour while four more birds (maybe the same) were seen in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester

Green-winged Teal: What is presumably the same bird that has been in the north of Langstone Harbour since Jan 9 has been seen daily from Feb 2 to 6 at the Budds Farm pools

Fudge Duck: The Pochard x Ferruginous Duck hybrid which has been a fixture at Langstone Harbour/Budds Farm for several years has not been seen there since Jan 30 and may possibly have moved to Titchfield Haven where one appeared on Jan 31 and was still there on Feb 6

Lesser Scaup: One has been at Dozmary Pool/Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor from mid January to Feb 6 and what I assume is a new bird appeared on Burton Mill Pond west of Pulborough on Feb 6. Lee Evans tells us that there is a third bird in the UK to be found on Galmorgan.

Velvet Scoter: The Langstone Harbour bird was still to be seen off the Oysterbeds on Feb 6, as were the three on the sea off Titchfield Haven

Smew: Lee Evans tells us that there are currently around 100 present in the UK. The Ivy Lake bird at Chichester was last reported on Feb 3 and the one at Blashford Lakes was there on Feb 6

Goosander: The number feeding on Eyeworth Pond (Fritham in the New Forest) was up to 48 on Feb 6 - these birds almoste certainly spend their nights at the Blashford Lakes.

Marsh Harrier: I have seen no reports of the Langstone Harbour bird since Jan 9 but my suggestion that it flew east on Jan 26 over the Thorney Great Deeps and then over the Fishbourne Channel at Chichester on its way back to its breeding site is refuted by another report of the Fishbourne Channel bird on Feb 6

'Osprey': On Jan 10 there was a report of an Osprey flying east in the Arundel area and I was not convinced of its id. On Jan 31 Pete Hughes (warden at Pulbrough Brooks) mentions that a pale breasted Buzzard is present on his reserve and is being wrongly reported as an Osprey

Kestrel: A pair near Coombes Farm by the R Adur north of Shoreham were 'courting' on Feb 4

Avocet: Of local interest the winter flock of 11 at Nutbourne Bay (east of Emsworth) which have not been reported since Jan 1 were still present on Feb 3 and then numbered 13

Knot: Also of local interest Brian Fellows had a distant view on Feb 6 of what seemed to be some 300 Knot on the mud beside the Emsworth channe; where it passes the Thorney Great Deeps

Little Stint: The single bird in the Fishbourne Channel area near Chichester was still there on Feb 6 - a Jack Snipe was also seen there that day

Purple Sandpiper: 14 were seen at Southsea Castle on Feb 6

Ruff: A sudden increase in the number in the Rye Harbour area gave a count of 46 at Castle Water on Feb 3

Woodcock: Some of these seem to be currently returning to breeding grounds - on Feb 3 one flew over Dungeness, on Feb 4 two were seen at Sandy Point on Hayling, and on Feb 6 one flew west past Titchfield Haven

Black-tailed Godwit: On Jan 28 there was an isolated reported of 5000 birds in the lower Avon Valley and on Feb 5 around 15 were back at Pulborough Brooks - the first report of them there this year

Green Sandpiper: I have twice encountered a noisy Green Sandpiper flying over the Langstone South Moors this winter and it was reported again on Feb 6 making me rather suspect that the Common Sandpiper (which is more likely to be seen by running water) reported at the 'Tamarisk Pool' on Feb 1 was a Green rather than a Common Sandpiper

Common Gull: A count of 720 at Sandwich Bay on Feb 4 suggests that birds which have been wintering along the south coast are re-entering the North Sea and heading north to nest. A different report of more than 40 Lesser Blackbacks at Christchurch Harbour on Feb 2 also suggests the start of passage

Herring Gull: On Feb 4 an observer in Hastings wrote on the SOS website .. "I saw two Herring Gulls having some intimate contact on the roof opposite my house about a week ago" .. and I assume the gulls were mating

Iceland Gull: One was reported to have flown past Climping beach "only 10 metres offshore" on Jan 29 - could this have been a leucistic Herring Gull?

Great Blackback Gull: Feb 1 brought at report of 800 in the Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head with an estimated 4000 there on Feb 5 - this does seems a very high number but I see that in Hampshire there was a night roost of 1001 birds at Hythe in Southampton Water in Jan 1988

Sandwich Tern: The three birds wintering in Chichester Harbour were all seen from Black Point on Hayling on Feb 1 while on Feb 6 what were probably two birds wintering in Langstone Harbour were seen off the South Moors shore

Wood Pigeon: One pair were feeding a squab in their nest at Wisborough Green near Billingshurst (north of Pulborough) on Feb 3

Collared Dove: A pair were nest building in the Adur valley north of Shoreham on Feb 4

Little Owl: Another sign of the start of the breeding season is an increase in daytime vocalisation by these birds as pairs 'chat each other up'. On Jan 31 two birds were both being vocal in the Cuckmere Valley and on Feb 4 three birds were having a discussion/argument in the Hook/Warsash area. The birds in the Stoke Common area near the Hayling Oysterbeds are probably also to be heard around now.

Short-eared Owl: On Feb 6 birds were seen both at The Burgh on the Downs above the R Arun at Amberley and at Paxton Pits by the Bedfordshire Ouse, suggesting that this species may be moving back north to start breeding

Woodlark: Another report of song in the New Forest - heard near Burley on Feb 1 (first song was reported at Pagham Harbour on Jan 6)

Swallow: On Feb 4 a report of 12 from the south coast of Spain suggests that our summer birds may be slowly moving north

Water Pipit: On Feb 6 Paul Winter reported 9 at the Lower Test reserve where a small flock usually builds up as spring approaches (last year there were 3 there on Feb 18 increasing to an estimated 25 on Mar 31). The current report indicates the start of this spring build up and also probably explains the presence of one at the Langstone South Moors (where there is usually a single Rock Pipit on the shingle when the tide is high)

Ring Ouzel: On Jan 31 one was seen at The Lizard in Cornwall where it had been seen on Jan 16 - maybe one of the two that were wintering at Beer Head in Devon and reported up to Dec 7

Blackbird: One was singing at the Lymington Marshes on Feb 5 - second of the year after one heard in Emsworth on Jan 16. We also have a report of a squbbling flock of 25 birds in a Seaford garden on Feb 1 (maybe continental birds now leaving us?)

Fieldfare: Several reports show that plenty are still with us (e.g. 400 in the Adur valley on Feb 4 when another 100 were at Cissbury Ring near Worthing) but nothing to compare with reports from the Netherlands of very large numbers at several sites (e.g 13508 at one site plus 28232 at another and 24567 at a third)

Song Thrush: Now in full song in several places on sunny days

Redwing: Reports indicate far fewer of these than Fieldfare - max count of 275+ from Cornwall on Feb 6

Blackcap: A male was singing in a Sussex garden on Jan 31 - a female was also in the garden

Goldcrest: Reports of song from Durlston and Pulborough Brooks this week

Firecrest: Two at Sandy Point on Hayling on Feb 4 and 9 scattered around the Chichester West Dean Woods on Feb 5

Long-tailed Tit: Starting to sing at Durlston on Jan 31

Marsh Tit: Several singing in the Pulborough/Amberley area on Jan 31

Willow Tit: One heard singing in north west Hampshire (Faccombe area??) on Feb 4

Great Grey Shrike: Lee Evans reports that there are only some 16 in the UK this winter

Starling: Flying with nest material in Brighton on Feb 3

House Sparrow: These have been nest building (with Pampas Grass) on Northiam (north of Hastings) for the past two weeks

Chaffinch: Song heard in Emsworth on Feb 1

Greenfinch: Tentative song in Havant on Jan 30

Hawfinch: Two were reported from Stansted Forest (Rowlands Castle area) on Jan 31 when 10 were seen at a regular site (Testwood Lakes in Totton). On Feb 6 at Boltons Bench (Lyndhurst) 10 were seen.

Yellowhammer: First full song heard at Horsham on Jan 31

Corn Bunting: Up to 55 were at Cheesefoot Head near Winchester from Jan 31 to Feb 3

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

This week's butterfly sightings include a Brimstone in Ashdown Forest on Feb 5 (nectaring on Gorse), three more Red Admirals and the very first Small Tortoiseshell at Winchelsea near Rye on Feb 5

New moths are Pale Brindled Beauty in Sussex on Feb 6, Spring Usher in Sussex on Feb 6, and the Early Moth out in Sussex for some time.

Other insects feature a Honey Bee at Winchelsea on Feb 5 where a 7-spot Ladybird was also flying

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The first flowers of Spurge Laurel were seen on Portsdown on Feb 3 and the strong vanilla scent of Winter Heliotrope was reported from Durlston on Feb 5

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: After signs of activity at the Blashford Lakes last week one has visited Christchurch Harbour (tracks seen there at the end of January) - possibly even the same wide ranging male seeking a mate or establishing a territory (male territories can cover a 20 mile stretch of a river)

Roe Deer: A buck was seen in full velvet at Durlston on Jan 31

Fungi: Last week I commented that Velvet Shank usually appears with frosty nights and this week we have reports of it having been seen on Portsdown and in the QE Country Park near Petersfield


Wildlife diary and news for Jan 25 - 31 (Week 4 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Pacific Diver: One has recently appeared off County Galway in Ireland (first Irish record of the species) and I wonder if it is the same bird that was of the north Cornish coast from Nov 18 to Dec 9?

Great Crested Grebe: The flock on the sea off Southbourne (Bournemouth) had increased to 332 birds on Jan 27 (new Dorset record - prev county max was 261) and there has also been a noticeable increase in the Rye Bay flock which was estimated to have 600 birds on Jan 24 (last year the peak count there was an estimated 700 on Jan 4 with a further 2300 off the Kent coast east of Dungeness on Jan 27 when there were 3615 off the Dutch coast). This year another big flock off the Kent coast was counted as having 585 birds off Sandwich Bay on Jan 24

Slavonian Grebe: On Jan 25 Dorset had at least 10 with 5 at Abbotsbury, 3 more off Chesil and 2 at Studland. On Jan 24 Hampshire had 4 off Lymington and at least one in the Hayling Bay/Sandy Point area. In Sussex the only reports were of 2 off Pagham Harbour and one at Rye Harbour (Scotney) while Kent reported 3 at Dungeness RSPB on Jan 27

Black-necked Grebe: The Langstone Harbour flock was reported to have 22 birds on Jan 24 with a single seen from Hayling Island in the mouth of Chichester Harbour (two were seen from the Sussex side on Jan 26) and Hampshire still has another lone bird in Southampton Water. Dorset had a surprising 12 in Portland Harbour on Jan 24 and on Jan 27 Studland Bay had 25 with another 12 in Poole Harbour. Kent had 3 at the Dungeness RSPB site on Jan 27 with another on the Sussex border at Scotney.

Fulmar: On Jan 24 several were cruising along the cliffs where they will nest near Seaford while one was checking out the houses at the back of the town (last year one was prospecting the houses in Shoreham during June but I don't think Sussex yet has proof of rooftop nesting). On Jan 25 half a dozen birds where hanging around the Gore Cliff/St Catherine's Point area on the Isle of Wight. On Jan 31 Durlston reported that one was settled on a cliff ledge there, making 'cackling' noises as three others flew by.

Shag: One was in the Langstone Harbour entrance channel on Jan 28

Bittern: Burton Mill Pond (west of Pulborough) definitely had 4 (and probably 5) present on Jan 27 when one was seen to land in reeds at Hook/Warsash. Other sites reporting four birds this week were Hatch Pond in Poole Harbour and Marazion in Cornwall. The Ivy Lake bird at Chichester was still there on Jan 24 and on Jan 25 one was seen at Bembridge Ponds on the IoW. On Jan 29 one was in the Arne area of Poole Harbour and on Jan 30 a car driver in the Longstock area of the Test was surprised to see one cross the road in front of his car.

Cattle Egret: Still a total of five at two sites in Cornwall (Truro and Sennen)

Little Egret: Although John Clark does not give a date he implies (in a message on Jan 26) that at least 46 birds are currently using the inland roost at Arlebury Lake at Alresford

Great White Egret: Two were seen in the Ringwood Ibsley area on Jan 25 with one reported there on both Jan 27 and 28. The Folkestone bird was last reported on Jan 26 and the Sandwich Bay bird on Jan 28. Over the Channel one site still had 4 of them on Jan 30

Spoonbill: 9 were in Poole Harbour on Jan 24

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge has not increased (max 290 on Jan 24) but a few more have turned up in southern England - at the Blashford Lakes the 10 which have been present for some time had increased to 14 on Jan 27 and to 15 on Jan 30 while the number in the Arun valley continues to increase (21 on Jan 21, 24 on Jan 23, 26 on Jan 25 and 28 on Jan 27 followed by a report of 63 at Burpham on Jan 29). On Jan 24 there were 78 in the Scotney Court area near Rye and on Jan 27 there were at least 60 on the Walland Marshes

White-front Goose: On Jan 30 Trektellen reported 22,191 at one Netherlands site plus 13,245 and 5,268 at two others. Also on Jan 30 the count at Slimbridge was marginally up at 392.

Barnacle Goose: In view of recent reports indicating a small influx of these into southern England I was surprised to hear no news of them on the Isle of Wight but on Jan 25 Derek Hale reported an estimated 130 flying over the Hersey Nature Reserve on the island. Back in 2004 and 2005 there were reports of around 300 making excursions around the north east corner of the island from their base at the Flamingo Park site. In Jan 2006 the max number was 250 and on Feb 1 2007 only 150 were seen, decreasing to 120 in 2008. None were reported in 2009 and the current report of around 130 does seem to confirm an ongoing decline in the size of this flock. Although they are free flying they have never attempted to travel more than a mile or so from their home base (and source of food!). On Jan 30 the Trektellen website listed three Netherlands sites as having 77,721 plus 7,501 and 4,058 respectively. Also on Jan 30 the number at Slimbridge was slightly up at 155

Brent: A trickle of eastward movement continues with a report of 60 passing Dungeness on Jan 24. These birds may well have been among the 200+ reported on Jan 24 as flying east past Seaford in the past three days.

Pale-bellied Brent: On Jan 24 two Pale-bellied birds were seen both at the Hayling Oysterbeds and at Farlington Marshes but I suspect these were the same birds feeding in the Oysterbeds area and then flying to Farlington Marshes when the tide was unsuitable for getting marine weed. They have been seen at both sites on several days this week. Down in Dorset the flock in the Ferrybridge (Weymouth) area numbered 15 on Jan 24 (there were 20 there on Jan 3 and 17 on Jan 19)

Red-breasted Goose: Separate individuals were in both Essex and Devon on Jan 24 and 25, disproving my guess that the Devon bird had moved to Essex. On Jan 26 only the Essex bird was reported - that also has not been reported since so a report of one in the Netherlands on Jan 30 may indicate that one of the British birds has flown east.

Shelduck: Lee Evans made a whistle stop tour of Hampshire on Jan 28, one stop being at Budds Mound overlooking the north of Langstone Harbour - his reported sightings there include a count of 330 Shelduck which sounds very unusual (there are probably that number in Langstone Harbour but I would expect it to be necessary to walk round Farlington Marshes to see the majority in the area south west of the Marshes)

Green-winged Teal: The Langstone Harbour bird was again on Budds Farm pools on Jan 30 among more than 100 Teal (and still there on Jan 31)

Shoveler: On Jan 25 I don't recall seeing any on the Budds Farm Pools but several pairs were in the shoreline pools along the South Moors shore with the tide low (and at the mouth of the Langbrook stream three pairs of Gadwall were on the sea) - maybe an indication of the birds getting restive and thinking of moving off, alternatively a sign that food in the Budds Pools was becoming exhausted.

Ferruginous Duck hybrid: The male 'Fudge Duck' was seen on Budds Farm pools on Jan 30

Scaup: Several birds are still at sites where they have been seen recently but on Jan 24 there was an unusual report of 10 on the sea of Rye Bay off Pett Level. Another piece of news is the presence of 5 on the river at Titchfield Haven on Jan 28

Lesser Scaup: A drake has been in Cornwall on Collingford Lake or the adjacent Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor from Jan 16 to 30 at least

Velvet Scoter: The Langstone Harbour bird was still to be seen off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Jan 27 when three more were off Titchfield Haven. The three were still off Titchfield on Jan 29 and the Langstone Harbour bird was seen on Jan 30.

Smew: On Jan 27 Matt Eade and Dick Gilmore visited several sites in the Rye Bay area and Matt's account on the SOS website includes the statement .. "During the day at Dungeness highlights included a total of 27 Smew" If this is correct I am surprised that no one else has commented on such a high number. Here in Hampshire one was seen at Titchfield Haven on Jan 23 only and one was in the Ibsley area near Ringwood from Jan 24 to 31 at least. On Jan 30 one flew over Burton Mill Pond west of Pulborough and in Bedfordshire there was a peak count of 20 on at Paxton Pits on Jan 28 (with smaller counts on other recent days)

Red-breasted Merganser: The number to be seen in Langstone Harbour usually increases as the birds start to form flocks prior to their return flight to breeding areas and on Jan 28 Lee Evans saw 33 from Budds Mound while on Jan 30 I found 20 off the mouth of the Langbrook stream

Goosander: On Dec 31 John Clark counted 102 in the night roost at the Blashford Lakes and on Jan 17 he managed to count 98 there. On Jan 27 Bob Chapman started to count them and found more than 98 - Bob says .. "There would have been more but I was interupted in the count by an idiot wandering around on the western shore flushing all the dabbling duck."

Red Kite: During a tour of north west Hampshire onJan 30 Alan Lewis saw 30 Kites

Marsh Harrier: On Jan 26 a female flew east over the Thorney Great Deeps and was later seen still going east over the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester - could this be the bird that has been a regular sight in Langstone Harbour but which is now answering the call of spring? Over in Kent a recent co-ordinated count of this species in the Romney Marsh area found a total of 44 birds

Pallid Harrier: The juvenile bird which was reported in the Sennen area of Cornwall on Jan 17 and 18 was seen again on Jan 25

Sparrowhawk: On Jan 28 a pair were displaying in the Sandwich Bay area and on Jan 29 Brian Fellows is pretty certain he glimpsed a female making a brief visit to a nest which has been used for some years in the west Emsworth area

Common Buzzard: On Jan 30 I came on one in an area of Havant that I have not seen them before - it flew up from the ground near the Langbrook stream and perched in trees on the ridge separating the stream from the Langstone Technology Park, then later flew west over the Budds Farm pools where it hovered briefly (probably checking some potential carrion on the ground).

Kestrel: One unexpectedly flew in off the sea at Portland on Jan 29 and on Jan 30 a Buzzard and two Sparrowhawks also arrived off the sea at Christchurch Harbour.

Coot: On Jan 28 Lee Evans visited both Ivy Lake and the Westhampnett Lake at Chichester and estimates a total of 1300 Coot on these two lakes

Avocet: On Jan 9 Jason Crook reported a peak of 37Avocet around Farlington Marshes and on Jan 30 he could still find 35, both these counts exceeding any counts by others during the month

Ringed Plover: During the Jan 30 WeBS count Brian Fellows had 140 Ringed Plover at Black Point on Hayling while Ewan Urquhart found only 35 at West Wittering

Lapwing: A report of 5,200 at the Pagham Harbour North Walls on Jan 30 seems to have been the highest Sussex count of the month

Sanderling: The Jan 30 WeBS count found just 16 at Black Point on Hayling and 18 at West Wittering - there were probably a lot more on the Pilsey Sands

Little Stint: The Fishbourne Channel bird near Chichester was seen again on Jan 26

Woodcock: One seems to have been present at Sandy Point on Hayling from Jan 22 to 27 at least

Black-tailed Godwit: 35 could be seen from Budds Mound in Langstone Harbour on Jan 28 and 80 were at Yarmouth, IoW, on Jan 29 but the biggest flock was an estimated 1400 at the Pagham North Walls on Jan 30

Spotted Redshank: The Nore Barn bird at Emsworth was still there on Jan 29

Green Sandpiper: On Dec 22 three of these birds flew west over my garden and the next day I encountered one flying noisily over the Langstone South Moors - possibly it has remained there since then as I saw and heard one again there on Jan 25. On Jan 30 two were seen by someone visiting Budds Farm pools.

Common Sandpiper: I also saw one of these on Jan 25 - it was in the mouth of the Brockhampton stream on the east side of the Bedhampton Gravel Quay

Grey Phalarope: After an unexpected sighting of one in Lincolnshire on Jan 20 another was seen in Cornwall (Sennen Cove at Lands End) on Jan 29.

Common Gull: On Jan 25 there seemed to be a lot more of these than usual on the Langstone shore, maybe suggesting that they are starting to move east

Kittiwake: More than 200 were back around their nesting cliffs in the Seaford area on Jan 24

Sandwich Tern: Four were seen off Selsey Bill on Jan 25 and three were off East Head in Chichester Harbour on Jan 26. Across the Channel 20 were seen at Roscoff in Brittany on Jan 29

Auks: On Jan 23 Durlston reported more than 3,000 passing on their way east with more seen going the same way off Newhaven on Jan 24. On Jan 25 Portland reported 10,000+ on the sea there and there have been further daily reports of many along the south coast, maybe feeding or maybe heading east and north to breed

Barn Owl: In the early 1980s one was resident at Tournerbury Farm on Hayling before the Tounerbury Marshes became a Golf Course. This week one was seen near the adjacent Fishery Lane holiday camp but I guess that is a bird seeking temporary refuge from cold weather elsewhere and not one intending to settle in the area

Short-eared Owl: One was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on Jan 27

Kingfisher: One was at its regular perch by the second bridge over the Brockhampton stream on Jan 25 and on Jan 30 one was seen at Fareham Creek

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: February is said to be the best time to detect these birds when they become vocal but there have already been two reports of them in Sussex - one was seen near Crawley on Jan 19 and another was near Robin Pepper's Scobell's Farm (near Lewes) on Jan 24. In Hampshire one was seen at Greatham near Alton in east Hampshire on Jan 28

Woodlark: A sign of spring in the Hursley (Winchester) area on Jan 24 was the first Woodlark song that I have seen reported

Skylark: More than 200 were seen at the Amberley Wild Brooks on Jan 23 and on Jan 30 a Belgian site reported 592

Shorelark: Two at Sandwich Bay on Jan 23

Fieldfare: Still plenty around - 229 were seen in the Bathingbourne area of the IoW on Jan 25 and more than 250 were near Tundry Pond (west of Fleet in north Hampshire) on Jan 26 (with a similar number of Redwing). Locally more than 140 were at the Pagham North Walls on Jan 30 (when two Belgian sites reported 3353 and 2432 respectively)

Song Thrush: I heard my first song from one in the Langstone area on Jan 23 after others had been heard at Pett Level on Jan 17, in Emsworth on Jan 18 and Hove on Jan 19

Mistle Thrush: I saw my first for the year in the Langstone area on Jan 25 after one was seen at Portland on Jan 24 - maybe some are returning to breed here? (Two more were seen at Barton on Sea on Jan 27 when another two were at Rodmell near Lewes)

Dartford Warbler: Four reports of them in different places on Jan 24 and a fifth on Jan 26 indicate that the cold snap has not been a total disaster for the species (in some inland areas it is thought that as many as 50% may have succumbed to the cold). One of the Jan 24 reports was of 5 seen in a short visit to the Beaulieu Road station area of the New Forest and on Jan 26 one was at Turf Hill near Burley with another on Jan 30 one was seen in the extreme north west of the New Forest

Firecrest: Three came to roost at Sandy Point on Hayling on both Jan 25 and 27. On Jan 28 four were seen around Burton Mill Pond and five were in some scruffy woodland at Bexhill

Long-tailed Tit: A pair were seen collecting nest material on Portsdown on Jan 25 and the species can be seen daily throughout the Havant area. By Jan 31 one was starting to sing at Durlston.

Willow Tit: On Jan 30 five were found in the Hurstbourne Common area near Andover with ten Marsh Tits. Last year there were sightings of up to five Willow Tits at Faccombe in this general area but other than one report in early May all the others were from January to March and were presumably 'winter visitors'. In 2008 one was singing in the Test Valley in April and two family parties were seen near Basingstoke in July and in 2007 at least three pairs were present and singing in the Hurstbourne Common area in April

Penduline Tit: The last report of one at Dungeness (where there were several sightings in December) was dated Jan 11 but they may not have left the country as one was seen with a Long-tailed Tit flock in the Kent Stour valley on Jan 25

Great Grey Shrike: Two reports of 'new birds' this week - one was in the West Moors area of Dorset on Jan 25 and the other was at Turf Hill near Burley in the New Forest on Jan 26

Corvids: In recent past years there have been frequent reports at this time of year of Corvids moving to a huge winter roost in the Gosport area at dusk and then flying west to feed at dawn. Jan 29 brought the first report of this movement for this year with more than 500 Jackdaws and Rooks flying northwest at dawn along the coast past Titchfield Haven

Brambling: Jan 29 brought the first report of a substantial flock in Hampshire - more than 50 were seen at Church Moor in the New Forest (half way along the Ornamental Drive and on the west side of the road)

Greenfinch: These are now becoming more noticeable and starting to sing in the Havant area

Siskin: A flock of around 100 was in the Rownhams area north west of Southampton on Jan 26

Twite: None locally but three reports this week from Sandwich Bay (5 birds on Jan 23), Paxton Pits north of Bedford (3 birds on Jan 24) and Gussage St Michael in Dorset (4 birds on Jan 28)

Bullfinch: A male in Southmoor Lane at Havant on Jan 30 was my first of the year and brought my personal yearlist to 83 species

Corn Bunting: A flock of 25 were seen on Cheesefoot Head east of Winchester on Jan 30

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterfly sightings reported to date seem to have all been of insects disturbed from their winter sleep but on Jan 21 a freshly emerged Small White was found in a Gosport house where it is thought to have pupated in Ivy on the house wall and to have been brought to the stage of emerging from its chrysalis by the sun's heat warming the bricks supporting the ivy. In Sussex the first sighting of a Peacock butterfly for the year came in the Lewes area on Jan 24 (almost certainly one un-naturally disturbed from hibernation)

The first Mottled Grey moth of the year was seen at Portland on Jan 23 and the first Mottled Umber was found in the Rye area on Jan 24

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

A single Early Dog Violet flower was out in my Havant garden on Jan 26 and seems to be the first for the year.

At Nore Barn west of Emsworth the Blackthorn bushes which had flowers before Christmas had three new flowers on Jan 27

The first fresh leaves were sprouting on young Elder bushes at Budds Farm on Jan 25

Three plants of Giant Butterbur had pushed up through the soil at the Langbrook Stream site (Langstone) on Jan 30 and the white of its flower buds could be seen through the opening leaves of one plant

OTHER WILDLIFE

Porpoise: On Jan 23 one corpse was found on the beach at Sandwich Bay with two more washed up by Jan 25 but two live Porpoises were seen off Folkestone on Jan 26

Muntjac: One male seen somewhere in north west Hants on Jan 30 - first Hants report for this year

Grey Squirrel: One of the white form that is well represented in the Portsmouth area was seen in a Portsdown Hill garden on Jan 28

Bat species: What may have been a Daubenton's Bat was seen hawking low over Burton Mill Pond (west of Pulboough) by bird-watchers enjoying the presence of four Bitterns

Frog: Despite last week's news from the Rye area that both Frogs and Newts had survived the cold weather under the ice of frozen ponds I hear that some Frogs and Newts were found dead in ponds on Portsdown Hill during the week ending Jan 24 though at least one Frog was found alive

Fungi: Another find of Jew's Ear on dead Elder in Havant on Jan 25 - frost usually seems to bring out Velvet Shank but I have heard no reports of it recently - having written that in mid-week I then on Jan 29 saw a photo of pristine Velvet Shank taken in Pat Bonham's Rye garden (back in November he had sawn up a dead Elm stump and taken it home for firewood but when he went to retrieve the wood from the shed in which it had been kept in darkness he found a lovely cluster of Velvet Shank on it)


Wildlife diary and news for Jan 18 - 24 (Week 3 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: Even in this cold weather these do not all move to the sea - on Jan 19 Lee Evans found more than 110 on Stewartby Lake between Bedford and Milton Keynes

Slavonian Grebe: Latest sighting in Langstone Harbour was of one off the Oysterbeds on Jan 19. On Jan 23 five were present in Hayling Bay (the southern shore of Hayling Island). Poole Harbour is the only other site currently reporting a flock - more than four there on Jan 17.

Black-necked Grebe: A Sussex birder visiting the Hayling Oysterbeds on Jan 17 found 22 of these (and a Sandwich Tern) in Langstone Harbour (previous high count for Langstone Harbour was 20 on Jan 14 and latest report is of 16 off the Oysterbeds on Jan 23). Lee Evans on Jan 17 reported a flock of 24 on the north London reservoirs in the Lee Valley (Chingford area)

Sooty Shearwater: One seen off the Thanet (Kent) coast on Jan 20 was the second British report for the year after one at Dungeness on Jan 3

Balearic Shearwater: The first reports I have seen this year were both on Jan 19 - one off Portland and the other in the Scillies

Bittern: As many as 8 were thought to be present in the Kent Stour valley on Jan 17 and this week there have been reports of three at Burton Mill Pond (west of Pulbroough), at least three in Poole Harbour, two each at Rye Harbour and Slimbridge with singles at Chichester, Radipole (Weymouth) and at Sandwich Bay. Eleven southern sites have reported Bitterns this week.

Cattle Egret: For some time the only reports have been of two birds at Sennen in Cornwall but another has probably been based somewhere in west Dorset giving sightings at Bridport Leisure Centre on Jan 13 and at Chideok (west of Bridport) on Jan 21

Great White Egret: Some people are convinced that there are three of these in the Blashford Lakes area near Ringwood as they have seen two birds (neither of which are ringed according to them) while others insist that there is still one ringed bird in the area (though the ring is difficult to detect). There are also two present at Pitsford reservoir near Northampton with singles at Folkestone, Sandwich Bay and Pymoor in Cambridgeshire

Glossy Ibis: Lee Evans tells us that three are present at Catcott (by the A39 between Glastonbury and Bridgewater) in Somerset

Spoonbill: At least six are still in Poole Harbour with another two in the Scillies

Bewick's Swan: A full count of all the birds at Slimbridge on Jan 18 only found 303 Bewick's (there had been 315 on Jan 15) and the number was down to 256 on Jan 23. There are probably still more than 50 in Norfolk but no other site is currently reporting more than the 34 at Pulborough (Jan 18) with another 24 on the River Adur at Henfield Levels on Jan 23. The Ringwood area still had 10 on Jan 18 and two other sites have a few 'casuals' - locally two were seen on the water of Fishbourne Channel at Chichester on Jan 17 when East Holme near Dorchester had 5. The latest 'new site' with 8 birds is Wallasea Island near Burnham on Crouch (Essex coast north of Southend)

Bean Goose: On Jan 23 there were 71 in Norfolk by the River Yare with another 7 at Farmoor near Oxford

Pinkfoot Goose: Four turned up at the Lymington Marshes on Jan 21

Whitefront Goose: Slimbridge had 360 on Jan 22 and there were probably over 200 in Norfolk this week but just across the Channel at Margarethapolder in Holland there were 4530 with another 1815 at De Horde (Lopik) in the Netherlands

Cackling Canada Goose: The single half size 'minima' bird was at Titchfield Haven on Jan 17 but there is no further mention of the extremely leucistic 'white' bird this week. The Todd's Canada Goose (B. c. interior) was still at Slimbridge on Jan 23

Barnacle Goose: It would seem that some of the many continental birds have come across the Channel in the cold weather but the odd group of six seen flying over south Hampshire, and the flock of 47 now at Rodden Hive on The Fleet near Weymouth, are hardly in the same league as the 15273 birds at IJmeerdijk, Almere in the Netherlands on Jan 19

Brent Goose: Last year the Brent started to fly east from Jan 30 onwards with more than 2200 passing Dungeness on Jan 31 but this year they had started moving even earlier (perhaps as a result of difficulties in finding food here recently). The first report was of 48 heading east off Portland on Jan 19 with 400 passing Dungeness on Jan 21 (when Splash Point at Seaford also saw more than 100 going east). Another unexpected report this week comes from Farmoor reservoir by the Thames upstream of Oxford - not a place you would normally find Brent but 16 were there on Jan 23. Turning to the majority that are still with us it would seem that the recent 'disappearance' of Brent from the Solent Harbour tidelines does not mean that they have moved far - just that they have congregated in larger than usual flocks on those fields where they can find something to eat. On Jan 17 there were 2000 near the Pagham North Walls (presumably on grass) with another 550 more surprisingly on arable fields at Warblington Farm (where I saw a similar flock back on Nov 27). In previous winters the Brent have only been found on the western grass fields of Warblington Farm (between the Farm and Pook Lane) but this winter, well before the cold snap, they were spurning those meadows and were all on the eastern arable fields which appeared to have been sown with a 'sacrificial' cereal crop specifically to feed them. On Jan 23 I noticed another aspect of this 'disappearance' - cycling around north Hayling at high tide there were virtually no Brent to be seen but as the tide dropped small parties of up to 25 birds began to appear at various points on the shoreline, partly to feed on the freshly exposed weed and partly to be in the safety of the open water as night approached.

Red-breasted Goose: On Jan 24 one was found on the Essex coast at Wallasea Island close to Burnham on Crouch and north of Southend. My first thought was that this might be the bird that has been at the Exe estuary in Devon since Oct 28 and for which I can find no sighting later than Jan 17 (Sadly nothing has been put on the Devon Birding site since Jan 5). I have been expecting this bird to move east as spring approaches and have been hoping that it would return to Chichester Harbour (as has been its habit in recent years). At the moment I have no evidence as to the origin of the Essex bird.

Pintail: On Jan 23 there were 50 at the Blashford Lakes with 12+ Goldeneye. 100 Shoveler and 800 Wigeon

Red-crested Pochard: These (still presumed to be cold weather exiles from the flock of over 200 on the Cotswold Wildfowl Park waters) are still appearing at new sites. In the Chichester area two pairs were seen on the Westhampnett Lake on Jan 18 and that same day two more pairs appeared on Pagham Lagoon (the Westhampnett birds, or at least three of them, were still there on Jan 23). Elsewhere there have been 5 on Paxton Pits north of Bedford and 16 on the nearby Grafham Water with 27 at Elstow (southen fringe of Bedford itself)

Pochard: On Jan 17 Grafham Water in Bedfordshire had 526 and on Jan 18 Slimbridge had 451

Ring-necked Duck: A drake was still at Porth reservoir near Newquay in Cornwall on Jan 19 - it has been there since Jan 1 at least

Tufted Duck: There were 44 on the Emsworth ponds on Jan 18 (when Slimbridge had 552 and Grafham Water had 2242)

Scaup: Pagham Lagoon still had its 'sleeping beauty' on Jan 18 when there was a newcomer in East Sussex at the mouth of the Cuckmere and Abbotsbury had in increased count of 14. (Scaup, like Pochard, tend to sleep all day and then wake up to feed at night)

Long-tailed Duck: The Langstone Harbour pair were seen again on Jan 17 and one bird was reported again on Jan 23 (with one Velvet Scoter also reported there). Elsewhere on Jan 17 there was one in the south of Poole Harbour and one at Helston in Cornwall

Goldeneye: On Jan 17 Grafham Water had 102 (plus 2 Velvet Scoter) while locally seven were seen around Farlington Marshes and on Jan 18 the smart males of two pairs were displaying off the Broadmarsh slipway

Smew: On Jan 23 the single male was still at Chichester (now on Runcton Lake near the scrapyard) and on Jan 20 there were at least 6 at Rye Harbour and 3 more at the Dungeness RSPB site. On Jan 16 there were 3 at Paxton Pits in Beds, 2 on the nearby Grafham Water and one at the Blashford Lakes

Goosander: There were 98 at the Blashford Lakes on Jan 17 (the highest count so far this year but just below the 102 counted on Dec 31)

Ruddy Duck: On Dec 6 Bob Chapman reported a winter peak count of 14 at the Blashford Lakes - on Jan 20 all 14 were shot on government orders as illegal immigrants. At least one was still present somewhere in Hampshire on Jan 23 and it is said that the cull at any particular site requires the permission of the landowner (and at least one major Ruddy Duck site is said to be owned by someone who will not give that permission so the aim of eliminating all Ruddy Ducks in Britain is unlikely to be achieved - note that the Blashford Lakes are managed by, but not owned by, the Hampshire Wildlife Trust). As may be imagined this cull has roused strong feelings (that it should not have been allowed) among many birders and I must quote a poem written by one of them (David Holland) ...

Ruddy Duck January 2010

Dawn, and a grey mist hangs, silent, over the water.
In the corner a small flotilla,
Regaled in cinnamon, white and blue
Diminutive jesters of the waters -
You can't help but smile.

A dark shadow slips out of the shallows
Nearing its unsuspecting prey.
A sharp crack splinters the air.
Cinnamon turns crimson,
You can't help but cry.

British conservation,
In tooth and claw:
Red.
Ruddy:
Dead.
RIP

Another contributor goes a long way to expressing my feelings about the current state of nature conservation. Phil Lord says, speaking for those who feel strongly that the cull should not have been allowed, .. "I think those who think our reactions are silly or childish have their heads in the sand. The conservation bodies of today aren't manned by the enthusiastic, knowledgeable, amateurs of yesterday, but career professionals, who in many cases don't give a toss." Obeying orders and not questioning them is the way to promotion and a bigger salary.

Golden Pheasant: Four were seen on Furzey Island in Poole Harbour on Jan 17. Not sure if there is a regular population still hanging on there but the species seems to have vanished from the rest of southern England. The only record I picked up last year was of 'an apparent female' with Common Pheasants at Warnham (Horsham) on Oct 26 though in 2008 there was 'a smart male' at Arlington reservoir in East Sussex from Apr 11 to May 4, then up to seven on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour at the beginning of December followed by a sighting of a female and a hearing of two more in Ampfield Woods near Romsey on Dec 24 and 29

Avocet: On Jan 17 the count at Farlington Marshes was up to 32 with 17 in Pagham Harbour (18 there on Jan 21), 6 in Christchurch Harbour and singles at Lymington and Titchfield (no mention of any in the Nutbourne/Thorney Channel since Jan 1 when 15 were seen from Chidham). There were at least 373 in Poole Harbour (seen at Arne) on Jan 23.

Golden Plover: On Jan 17 there were 95 in the Brownwich shore area west of Titchfield Haven and another 40 at the Bunny Meadows by the Hamble at Warsash and on Jan 21 there were 600 in the north of Pagham Harbour

Knot: On Jan 21 there were more than 30 in the Hayling Oysterbeds area

Sanderling: On Jan 23 there were four by the tideline just east of Gunner Point on Hayling

Little Stint: The single bird was still at the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Jan 23

Ruff: 10 were seen in the Avon Causeway area of the Avon Valley on Jan 17

Black-tailed Godwit: On Jan 17 there were around 750 at the Pagham North Walls area and 'several hundred' still at Titchfield Haven (where 496 had arrived on Jan 16). The only other current report is of some 40 in the Lymington area on Jan 19

Whimbrel: One still in the Fishbourne Channel at Chichester on Jan 17 and on Jan 21 two were seen at the traditional wintering spot at Wickor Point on west Thorney Island.

Grey Phalarope: One was an unexpected bird at Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire on Jan 20

Bonaparte's Gull: One was in Anglesey on Jan 23

Black-headed Gull: One seen at Broadmarsh in Langstone Harbour on Jan 18 had a more or less complete 'black head'

Iceland Gull: The only reports I have seen so far this year have been from Cornwall - single birds seen on Jan 1 and 18

Glaucous Gull: Two young birds were seen at Rainham in Essex on Jan 23

Sandwich Tern: On Jan 16 a wintering bird was off Sandwich Bay and on Jan 17 one was seen from the Hayling Oysterbeds (no mention of birds in Chichester Harbour since there were three seen from Back Point, Hayling, on Jan 3)

Barn Owl: Sadly two of these were found dead in the Pulborough/Amberley area on Jan 17

Short-eared Owl: 6 were reported in the Scillies on Jan 18 and one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Jan 20

Skylark: On Jan 16 a Hoslist message from Hilary Cornford told of a conversation between her husband and the farmer at what she names as Lower Brownwich farm just west of Titchfield Haven (not sure if this is Brownwich Farm, Little Brownwich or Lower Posbrook Farm). The farmer spoke of .. "the enormous influx of Skylarks over the cold and snowy weather this week. Apparently someone had counted between 8 and 10 thousand coming along the coast. They landed at dusk on his field of purple sprouting broccoli and roosted underneath the broccoli heads. He said they were very vocal the whole night long. In the morning they fed on the heads of the plants, in the end leaving the whole field just a patch of stalks. The worst bit was that also in the morning he estimated between 400 and 500 had died of cold or starvation and the place was then alive with buzzards and kestrels and another large brown raptor that he couldn't identify."

Richard's Pipit: One reported at Wadebridge in Cornwall on Jan 20

Waxwing: After the isolated report of one in a Norwich garden on Jan 14 there is another report of one at Gillingham in Dorset on Jan 19

Blackbird: On Jan 16 Brian Fellows heard one singing in the late afternoon in a west Emsworth garden and on Jan 19 John Chapman, living in Langstone village, wrote on Hoslist .. "Over the last three days a dawn chorus has started in my garden. Given the exposed location I don't get many (singing) species, but Goldfinch, Blackbird and Dunnock have all suddenly burst into song, and the Robin is now sounding spring-like." Song Thrush has also been reported singing recently - at Pett (Rye Bay) on Jan 17 and in Emsworth on Jan 18. I have not heard Blackbird yet but more than one Song Thrush was singing in the Langstone area on Jan 23 and Dunnock are now frequently heard around Havant.

Black-throated Thrush: One could be seen at Whitby in Yorkshire on Jan 23 and 24 at least

Fieldfare: This week the only reports of large numbers have come from Kent and East Sussex with an estimated 10,000 in the Kent Stour Valley on Jan 19

Song Thrush: The first report of song came from the Pett area (Rye Bay) on Jan 17 and one was heard in Emsworth on Jan 18 and in Hove (Brighton) on Jan 19 but I did not hear one in Havant until Jan 23

Redwing: At least 300 were still on Hayling Island on Jan 17 and a few could be seen on the Downs north of Chichester (Kingley Vale) on Jan 23

Mistle Thrush: First report of song for the year comes from the Binswood area east of Alton (and north of Selborne) on Jan 19

Dartford Warbler: Although many will no doubt have died in the cold snap quite a few have survived, especially near the coast (including Sinah Common on south Hayling where one was seen on Jan 23)

Blackcap: Many garden bird watchers tell us of the various foods they use to attract birds to their feeders but I was amused on Jan 17 to hear of a new food item being enjoyed by a 'high class' Blackcap at Bexhill - white grapes. Maybe I read more into this than was intended (the grapes may well have been bought and put on a bird table) but I enjoyed the image of the Blackcap coming into a warm conservatory in which the grapes were still on the vine.

Goldcrest: These seem to have become very scarce this winter (certainly there have been more reports of Firecrest than Goldcrest) but on Jan 17 David Holland found 7 in Southampton and in the Pett area (Rye Bay) one was heard singing that day. The first Nuthatch song was also reported from the Pett area. Recent Goldcrest sightings have been on Kingley Vale (north of Chichester) and in the Bitterne area of Southampton, both on Jan 23

Firecrest: This week has brought reports of these from Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset including one roosting at Sandy Point on Hayling and one singing at Apuldram Church by Fishbourne Channel near Chichester

Marsh Tit: I still do not have this species on my personal year list but I see that the Havant Wildlife Group came across at least on at Kingley Vale on Jan 23

Blue Tit: A single flock of 41 Blue Tits was seen in the Brede valley north of Hastings on Jan 23

Brown Shrike: The bird which was found at Stanwell Moor, Staines, near Heathrow airport on Oct 14 was last reported there on Jan 2 but is now reported by Lee Evans as 'deceased'

Rose-coloured Starling: A first winter bird was seen in the Oxford area on Jan 23

Chaffinch: Some had been heard singing in the snow on Jan 11 in the Seaford area and now (Jan 17) Durlston reports that they are starting to sing there. Latest report of song comes from the Alton area on Jan 19

Brambling: Still no big flocks - on Jan 17 there were 25 at one New Forest site and on Jan 23 there were 15 in the West Dean Woods north of Chichester

Greenfinch: First hints of song heard in the Langstone area on Jan 23

Siskin: On Jan 19 a flock of more than 60 were seen near Crawley and on Jan 20 the first two males were in a Horsham garden where they were said to be two weeks earlier than the previous year

Common (Mealy) Redpoll: The first two reports for this year come from Studland in Dorset on Jan 23 and from the Kent Stour Valley where three were reported on that same day

Snow Bunting: On Jan 19 there was still a flock of 20 in the Reculver area of north Kent with a single still present at Dungeness but more surprisingly one was seen at Poole Port on Jan 17

Yellowhammer: On Jan 19 more than 20 were at the Fishbourne Channel and on Jan 21 there were more than 80 on Beeding Hill above the Adur Valley. Latest report is of 15 in the Chichester West Dean Woods on Jan 23

Corn Bunting: The huge flock of around 700 birds which had been reported at Stotfold in Bedfordshire on Jan 4 was still there on Jan 19. Stotfold is north of Lechworth and south of Biggleswade (on the A507 just west of its junction with the A1). Locally there were 50 on Beeding Hill in the Adur Valley on Jan 21

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies: Just one Brimstone was seen flying in the Alresford area near Winchester on Jan 17 to be the first butterfly of the year. Last year there had been five reports of Red Admirals on the wing by Jan 18 - this year there is just one report from the Brighton area on Jan 17.

Moths: The first Pale Brindled Beauty was on the wing in Sussex by Jan 17 and the first report of The Chestnut came from Thanet in Kent on Jan 16. Both Satellite and Winter Moth were reported again this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The only new flower found this week was Alder - on Jan 19 its catkins were open on a tree at the entrance to the Prince George Street carpark in Havant close to the canalised Lavant Stream running under the town from here until it re-appears beside Havant Park. Another flower, which I first recorded on Jan 19, was Intermediate Periwinkle in the old Havant Farm hedge now bounding the Havant Health Centre, but that had been flowering in December and is not the first of the year. A surprise find on Jan 18, still persisting after the cold weather, were the deep crimson flowers of Water Figwort in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton. Another flower which has been flowering unseen in Pook Lane since December but recorded by me on Jan 21, is Dog's Mercury which brings my January flower list to 31 species.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: This is the month in which Foxes mate so a report on the Planet Thanet website dated Jan 21 of Foxes there being both vocal by night and active by day is not surprising though an observation of two seen on a rooftop at midday was!

Otter: Although he did not actually see an Otter in the Blashford Lakes on Jan 22 and 23 Bob Chapman was convinced by the reactions of water fowl that one was present there.

Common Seal: On Jan 17 one was in the south of Southampton Water and two were close to the North Walls of Pagham Harbour where I have not heard of them being seen in the past. On Jan 20 the Rye Bay website carried a link to a page on the BBC website describing how the young seal which I reported on Dec 28 as present in a garden pond at Benenden (some 25 miles from the sea) has been rescued by the RSPCA and then released into the sea apparently healthy and unharmed. For the BBC account see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8470563.stm

Marsh Frog: Several torpid Marsh Frogs were seen in the Dungeness area on Jan 14 showing that they had not succumbed to the cold

Newts: These too had survived the cold (they are able to live happily in water at the bottom of ponds which are frozen over - at least for a short time). Both Common and Palmate Newts were found alive on Jan 16 in ponds in the Rye/Dungeness area which have been frozen.

Pipe Fish: The Durlston website reported on Jan 16 that visitors to the reserve had found a live Pipefish on the cliff path and had returned it to the sea - presumably it had been taken from the sea by a bird but then dropped on the path. This pipefish was not identified as to species but if you want to see the candidates that can be found in British waters have a look at http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Pipefish.htm - among lots of other interesting info on that webpage there is an account of gulls diving for and bringing up pipefish (as seems to have happened at Durlston). I also learnt that male Pipefish (like Sea-horses) act as surrogate mothers for their offspring

Fungi: A lot of fresh Jelly Ear (Jew's Ear) in Pook Lane at Warblington on Jan 21 with more seen on Kingley Vale on Jan 23


Wildlife diary and news for Jan 11 - 17 (Week 2 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: A lot of these in the English Channel this week, most of them heading east. Dungeness had the biggest counts with 483 on Jan 10, 350 on Jan 11, 94 on Jan 14 and 344 on Jan 15. On Jan 10 30 were seen off Worthing and 44 off Selsey. On Jan 11 CHristchurch Harbour reported 21 and on Jan 14 there were 29 off Pagham.

Black-throated Diver: On Jan 14 Pendower in Cornwall reported 11 of these and that day there were also 3 off Pagham

Little Grebe: On Jan 19 I was surprised to find none on the Budds Farm Pools though it seems that the water level in the pools has been lowered (perhaps to accommodate expected excess run-off coming through the sewage system with the melting snow?)

Great Crested Grebe: Flocks on the sea continue to increase - on Jan 11 there were 232 off the Brownwich Cliffs west of Titchfield Haven and 110 off Weston Shore near the mouth of Southampton Water (these two counts may be different views of the same flock). Also on Jan 11 there were 450 off Dungeness (which again may or may not include the 324 in Rye Bay off Pett on Jan 7. Other large flocks on the south coast are that off Bournemouth which numbered 250 on Jan 2 (but which had reduced dramatically to just 45 birds on Jan 14) and one off Worthing which had 287 birds on Jan 4. Also on Jan 14 a report from John Clark said that the Southampton Water flock had also reduced to 32 birds

Slavonian Grebe: On Jan 9 there were 7 off Lymington and Jason Crook reported 3 in Langstone Harbour. On Jan 2 more than 5 were reported off Pagham Harbour but this 'flock' has not been reported again so far. More recently there was an exceptional count of 4 seen in the mouth of Chichester Harbour by Andy Johnson on Jan 14

Black-necked Grebe: The Langstone Harbour flock numbered 20 on Jan 4 and still had the same number (seen from the Oysterbeds) on Jan 10. 20 were still there on Jan 14 but on Jan 15 only 13 could be seen in Langstone Harbour with one being an unexpected sighting in the mouth of Chichester Harbour that day - another single was also off Weston Shore in Southampton Water that day.

Bittern: One made a brief stop at Farlington Marshes on Jan 8 but flew on west. Currently one or more can be seen at Dungeness RSPB, Rye Harbour (at least 4 present on Jan 12), Duncton Pond west of Pulborough, Arundel Wildfowl Trust (last report on Jan 5), Ivy Lake at Chichester (last report on Jan 5), Titchfield Haven (last report on Jan 4), Lepe Country Park (second hand report on Jan 10), Blashford Lakes at Ringwood, Avon Causeway area, Poole Harbour (two there on Jan 10), Christchurch Harbour (three passing on Jan 10), Weymouth area (one each at Radipole and Lodmoor). On Jan 1 there were reports from Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire and from the Lymington Marshes but neither of these has been reported again. Elsewhere in Britain Lee Evans tells us of five at Brogborough (south of Bedford), and three at Graham Water (north of Bedford). On Jan 13 Jonathan Stokes was surprised to see on flying east low over his Portchester/Fareham garden and on Jan 14 one was an unexpected sight near Cuckoo's Corner on the R Adur while another was seen on the Lymington Marshes beign pursued by a Raven. Latest news from Lee Evans on Jan 16 is that he is aware of 63 Bitterns curently in Britan.

Great White Egret: One flew over the Southampton area on Jan 10 and another was seen that day at Radipole (Weymouth). On Jan 12 one was seen at Sandwich Bay (still there on Jan 15) while on Jan 14 one was reported by Lee Evans to be present at Deeside in Scotland. On Jan 16 the Blashford Lakes bird was seen in what I think is a new area (west side of Rockford Lake) and also on that day one was still at Folkestone where it had been since Jan 10

Spoonbill: On Jan 10 there were still ten birds in Poole Harbour

Bewick's Swan: On Jan 6 Slimbridge reported the presence of 309 birds and said that was the highest count for seven years - on Jan 15 the count at Slimbridge was up to 315. Two were showing well at the north end of Titchfield Haven from Jan 10 to 14 at least and on Jan 14 Lee Evans reported 54 at Ludham in Norfolk. In Dorset there were 4 at East Home near Dorchester from Jan 11 to 14 at least and on Jan 5 four flew over the Bedelands area near Haywards Heath. On Jan 16 ten remain in the Ibsley area near Ringwood.

Whitefront Goose: None in Hampshire but there were 254 at Slimbridge on Jan 15 and a flock of 203 in Norfolk on Jan 14 (with 3200 at a Dutch site on Jan 13). Also in Norfolk there were 32 Taiga Bean Geese on Jan 14 and at Sandwich Bay on Jan 11 there were 17 Pinkfoot

Canada Goose: Slimbridge had 400 on Jan 15 including a single Todd's Canada Goose (Branta canadensis interior) which was first seen there on Jan 13. Another oddity was photographed at Titchfield Haven on Jan 15 by Steve Copsey (see 'Barn Owl at the Haven' entry on http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ) - this is a single Canada Goose of the normal size but which appears to be 'all white' from a distance. Get a bit closer and, as the photo shows, the faint outlines of e.g. the birds 'chinstrap' can be seen. I suspect this is the same bird which has been seen in the Fareham/Titchfield area in several past winters (e.g. 9 Jan 2003 at Titchfield) but I cannot find the dates of previous sightings in the Fareham area where I am pretty sure this or a similar bird was seen in the mid 1990s

Brent Goose: At this time of year Brent feed away from the harbours on grass or cereals and the snow cover this week has made it very difficult for them to find food - my impression is that most of the local birds in Langstone and Chichester Harbours have gone elsewhere but I have no real information so far. I have not heard of any dying but I suspect that any weak birds will have found it hard to survive.

Pale-bellied Brent: The number in the Weymouth area seemed to reach a peak of 45 on Jan 10 - possible the numbers have increased as birds flee south from even colder areas. Locally Jason Crook's latest blog entry tells us that at least two Pale-bellied birds could be found among the large flocks of Dark-bellied birds at Farlington Marshes by Dec 9

Mandarin: The drake which appeared on Sinah gravel pit lake (south Hayling) on Jan 9 was still there on Jan 12

Wood Duck: One seen at Lepe Country Park near Calshot on Jan 10

Green Winged Teal: The bird which was first seen on the Budds Farm pools at Havant on Jan 9 was still to be seen in Langstone Harbour (off the Oysterbeds) on Jan 14

Red Crested Pochard: Lee Evans tells us that there were 230 of these at the Cotswold Water Park (at Burford in Oxon) in December but only 42 were still there on Jan 11. It seems fairly certain that dispersal of these birds trying to escape the ice accounts for most of the numerous recent reports of them at other sites (such as the four which appeared in Langstone Harbour on Jan 7 and the six at the Blashford Lakes on Jan 10 - these still there on Jan 16 - another male could be seen on Ivy Lake at Chichester from Jan 14 to 16 at least)

Scaup: Abbotsbury in Dorset seems to be a favourite winter destination for this species and 14 were there on Jan 11. Just one was seen in the south of Southampton Water on Jan 11 and 12. Another single male has been on Pagham Lagoon from Jan 12 to 16 at least

Ferruginous Duck hybrid: On Jan 4 Andy Johnson reported the presence of two (male and female) 'Fudge Ducks' (i.e. hybrids between Ferruginous and Pochard) on the south Hayling Sinah gravel pit lake but when Simon Wright was there on Jan 12 he saw a single 'Aythya hybrid' which he said was not the usual Fudge Duck.

Eider: Nine flew west past Selsey Bill on Jan 10, possibly an indication that numbers in the Solent are likely to increase in the near future?

Long-tailed Duck: The two which have been seen occasionally in the north of Langstone Harbour since Jan 4 were still there on Jan 10 when another single bird flew west past Selsey Bill.

Velvet Scoter: One seen briefly on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Jan 13 'disappeared' at the time that a Common Seal was seen in the area - maybe pulled down to be the Seal's lunch.

Smew: On Jan 9 there were at least 61 in total at several Dutch sites (including 29 at Egmond aan zee) with another 12 in England at Grafham Water (north of Bedford). On Jan 10 some of these flew on south (Dungeness had 8 going south overhead and at least two had left Grafham) but on Jan 11 there was still a pair at Rye Harbour and five which had arrived at Abbotsbury on Jan 10 were still there on Jan 11. On Jan 12 a redhead was in the Kent Stour valley and on Jan 14 Lee Evans reported a total of seven at two Norfolk sites. Locally a male was seen on Ivy Lake at Chichester on Jan 16

Red-breasted Merganser: More than 60 were on the sea off the Ferring area of Worthing on Jan 10

Black-eared Kite: On Jan 9 Lee Evans reported that a single bird apparently of this species was among 420+ Red Kites being fed at the Gigrin Farm feeding station near Rhyader in Powys, Wales, and in his blog on Jan 10 he has several photos of the bird ( see Jan 10 entry in http://rarebirdsinbritain.blogspot.com/ )

Marsh Harrier: On Jan 9 a birder at the Kent Stour Valley had 25 of these in view all at the same time. Locally one was at the Southampton Lower Test reserve from Jan 9 to 11 at least

Hen Harrier: On Jan 14 one flew west over the Chidham penninsula heading towards the Thorney Deeps and on Jan 16 there were three in the Pagham Harbour area

Pallid Harrier: A juvenile was reported in Cornwall on both Jan 13 and 15

Goshawk: One was seen at the Goodwood Trundle north of Chichester on Jan 10

Buzzard: Although Buzzards have been breeding in the Havant and Hayling areas for some years now Jason Crook reports two at Farlington Marshes (hunting rabbits in the snow on Jan 9) as being new to the site (as active hunters, that is). On Jan 17 one spent some time apparently eating some prey on the ground at the Budds Farm site in Havant (on grass north of the pools) - when first seen it was surrounded at a respectful distance by a ring of five Magpies

Osprey: On Jan 10 an experienced Sussex birder (Matthew Sennitt) was at Crossbush (on the east side of the Arun floodplain where the A27 meets the A284 going south through Lyminster to Littlehampton) when he saw an Osprey flying east, following the line of the A27. I have not heard of any previous reports of Osprey wintering in England and will be very interested in any confirmation of this report.

Kestrel: On Jan 16 a resident female at the Eastliegh Lakeside site was found alive but in an emaciated state - it died soon after.

Water Rail: Two were seen on Jan 12 in a garden near the River Adur and one was seen climbing in an attempt to reach a hanging bird feeder

Coot: The number in Emsworth Harbour around the quaysides reached 111 on Jan 16

Common Crane: The resident flock in Norfolk numbered 34 on Jan 14

Avocet: The peak count in Langstone Harbour so far this month is 37 though only 12 were seen on Jan 10. In Pagham Harbour the number had risen to 14 by Jan 14 and at Titchfield Haven what was described as 'the first to arrive there this year' was seen on Jan 16 (getting in early for the breeding season?) although there had been three there on Jan 2

Knot: A large flock arrived on the mud off the Emsworth western shore on Jan 8 with more than 450 present from Jan 9 to 11 (maybe some of these had moved on from Pagham were 500 wre seen on Jan 12). A much smaller flock arrived on the Lymington shore with 35 seen on Jan 9 and 44 counted on Jan 11

Little Stint: The Fishbourne Channel bird at Chichester was still there on Jan 12 (and one was at Slimbridge on Jan 16)

Curlew Sandpiper: The first mention of this species for the year comes from The Fleet area northwest of Weymouth where one was seen on Jan 10. Another is reported in Cornwall (Newquay area) on Jan 13

Purple Sandpiper: 13 seen at Southsea Castle on Jan 11 was the highest count there so far this year (but not up to the 44 at Penzance in Cornwall on Jan 14)

Ruff: A flock of 14 seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on 16 Mar 2009 was said to be the biggest flock seen in Dorset since 1994 so a count of 48 at Butterstreet Cove in The Fleet on Jan 10 this year is probably a county record. By Jan 15 there were 29 at Rye Harbour and 3 in the Avon Valley at Winkton.

Woodcock: On Jan 11 there were two unexpected sightings in the Havant area (probably of birds newly arrived from the continent). One was seen over the Hayling Golf Course (Sinah area of south Hayling) and the other flew over Emsworth. On Jan 11 there were 10 at Portland and on Jan 13 there was another single on Hayling at Sandy Point.

Black-tailed Godwit: Melting of snow and the re-appearance of the waterlogged ground at Titchfield Haven may have been the reason for the re-appearance of a flock of 496 there on Jan 16

Spotted Redshank: Locally there were two in the Chichester Fishbourne Channel on Jan 12 and the Nore Barn bird at Emsworth was still there on Jan 16

Common Gull: On Jan 14 the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood had a record count of 443 - also that day there were 105 Lesser Blackbacks in the Redbridge area at the top of Southampton Water

Guillemot: On Jan 10 a total of 750 flew east past Dungeness and on Jan 15 a total of 2570 Auks (mainly Guillemots) flew east there but others are already seemingly tied to their breeding places although egg laying will not start until late April or May (last year first eggs were laid at Durlston on Apr 25). This winter the first report of birds on the Durlston cliffs came on Nov 27 and more than 250 were crowded onto the ledges by Dec 22. This week 90% of the birds there had acquired their brown breeding plumage by Jan 12.

Black Guillemot: The first report this year of this species in the south that I am aware of is one in the Gorran Haven area of Cornwall on Jan 15

Stock Dove: The first winter flock I have heard of in southern England was reported last week (150 birds at Pannell Valley near Rye) and now there is a further report of 23 at Weston-super-mare on Jan 10

Cockatiel: One was flying around and calling noisily at Old Alresford near Winchester on Jan 11

Barn Owl: A pair are thought to have used a nest box in the Stoke Common area of Hayling Island (immediately east of the Oysterbeds) for several years in the recent past (and often hunted the Oysterbeds on winter evenings) though I have not heard of any sightings there since Feb 2004 until now when one was seen at the Oysterbeds on Jan 10

Long-eared Owl: Following the report of one in West Wood in the Netley area south of Southampton on Jan 4 there is now a report of another roosting in the Ford area south of Arundel on Jan 9

Kingfisher: The only local report I am aware of since the onset of the cold snap is of one at Peter Pond in Emsworth on Jan 14

Hoopoe: The presence of these birds in southern England during the winter is by no means unknown and it seems that the bird reported in the Brighstone area of the Isle of Wight between Oct 15 and Nov 2 (and again on Dec 18) is still there and has been seen on several days preceeding Jan 12

Woodlark: Nine new reports from southern England between Jan 10 and 12 include six in the Bridgemary area of Gosport and ten by the Adur at Shoreham on Jan 10, three reports from the Fareham/ Eastleigh area on Jan 11 with two still at Eastleigh Lakeside on Jan 12. Since then I have only seen one report of a single at the Pagham Harbour North Walls on Jan 16

Skylark: More than 2000 were reported from the Pagham Harbour area on Jan 10

Rock Pipit: The single bird on the Langstone South Moors shore was still there on Jan 17

Waxwing: Lee Evans is only aware of one in the UK currently - an adult which can be seen in a Norwich town garden (Jan 14)

Wren: On Jan 13 one was found in Scotland frozen to a tree branch - it attracted attention by not flying off when approached!

Dunnock: Song heard this week in the Havant area, at Cheriton near Alresford, at Seaford and at Pett near Hastings

Ring Ouzel: On Jan 12 one was reported in the Durrington area of Worthing and on Jan 16 one was seen at The Lizard in Cornwall. Lee Evans also reports one at Charlbury in Oxon and describes it and the Cornish bird as 'the first Ring Ouzels of the year' but I don't think he is implying they are migrants. As Ring Ouzels do occasionally overwinter in southern England my guess would be that all these birds are either genuine over-wintering birds being forced into the open by the need for food or are 'white marked' Blackbirds. At least two Ring Ouzels were still present in Devon (Beer Head) on Dec 7

Blackbird: Brian Fellows heard one singing in Nore Crescent at Emsworth on Jan 16

Fieldfare: The birds which were stripping berries from trees in Havant on Jan 8 and 9 seem to have moved on bringing news of 84 in north Portsmouth on Jan 19 and more than 1000 in the Barton on sea area by Jan 12 (though a few individual birds which have found ongoing sources of food - e.g. the apples put out for them by Brian Fellows in Emsworth - have stayed on). Many have flown to the Channel Isles where a large scale influx was reported on Jan 14 but there were still 40 in the Hayling West Lane fields on Jan 15

Redwing: As the snow began to melt in the second half of this week these birds have been able to find food on the newly exposed ground and large numbers are still to be seen in the Havant area. On Jan 14 I found many on Warblington Farm fields with just four on the shingle beach at Nore Barn in Emworth and I see that on that day some 60 were searching the shingle of the Pagham spit. On Jan 15 there were around 600 in the West Lane Fields on Hayling (with four Mistle Thrushes)

Goldcrest: These seem to have become great rarities this winter and I only have two reports for this year - a couple were seen in the Havant area on Jan 7 and now 4 have been reported in the Seaford area

Firecrest: These are seemingly much commoner than Goldcrests with nine reports so far this year. One of these was a bird I saw in the Hayling Billy Trail at Havant on Jan 14 (in brambles above the trackside ditch just south of the Grove Road junction). On Jan 10 one was seen near the Sinah gravel pit lake on south Hayling.

Starling: On Jan 15 the night roost at Slimbridge had 25,000 birds and locally on Jan 16 Brian Fellows saw some 500 birds going into a tree in Nore Crescent (west Emsworth)

Chaffinch: These normally start singing in the last week of January but, despite the snow, several had started to sing in the Seaford area near Beachy Head on Jan 11

Brambling: A flock of 15+ were in the West Dean Woods at Chichester on Jan 2 but the only other flock I have heard of this year to date is of 11 birds in the Enham Alamein area near Andover on Jan 13

Linnet: This seems to be the only small passerine species still to be found in flocks - on Jan 11 there were 130 at Eastleigh Lakeside, on Jan 13 Portland had 120 and on Jan 15 there were 100 at Dungeness

Lapland Bunting: One seen briefly at the Pagham North Walls on Jan 14

Yellowhammer: A flock of 90 in the Beeding Hill area near the River Adur on Jan 10 was the biggest count so far this year

Corn Bunting: Also at Beeding Hill on Jan 10 was a massive flock of 400 Corn Buntings (though not competing with the estimated 700 seen in Bedfordshire on Jan )

Escapes: An Australian Shoveler was at Brooklands Lake (Worthing) on Jan 9

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Late news for the Newhaven area (on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation site) is that on Jan 3 several Red Admiral caterpillars were still alive and feeding on nettles, most of the Large White caterpillars suriviving there have recently pupated, and a single Clouded Yellow caterpillar is still feeding on Black Medick which is still flowering.

Two moth species have been reported. Winter Moths were flying in Thanet (Jan 11) and at Portland (Jan 12). On Jan 14 a single Satellite flew into the office at Portland

From Portsmouth on Jan 9 I heard of a Ladybird flying around outside the windows of a tower block flat some 170 feet up. The Ladybird was encouraged in through the window but did not settle down to resume hibernation and was, after three days, allowed out to determine its own fate - it is possible that it was able to find a suitable cool and dry crevice in which to spend the rest of the winter. If anyone else finds a Ladybird disturbed from hibernation and wishes to give it a chance I suggest getting it into a match box and then placing the match box in some dry and cool outdoors location, leaving the box open just enough for the Ladybird to emerge in spring.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Very little to report. The only unexpected find was of a couple of flowers still open on the Blackthorn bush at Nore Barn (west end of Emsworth shore) on Jan 14. On Jan 17 after a morning of sunshine I found two unopen flower buds on the Lesser Celandines by the Lymbourne stream in the Langstone Wade Court area.

An observation which puzzles me each winter concerns Ivy flowers. Before Christmas Ivy plants can be seen showing exposed anthers on their stamens, and in due course large black seed capsules develop. When the temperature falls below a certain point fresh flowerheads continue to expand, putting out bright yellow stamens which eventually darken and become berries but the anthers do not appear - the more I think about what is going on the more puzzled I am by the flowering/fruiting procedure of this common plant (for one thing the fruits appear to develop on the stamens!)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Weasel: John Chapman, whose house backs onto the southern section of the Billy Trail west of the main road at Langstone, saw a Weasel close to his back door when the snow was thick on Jan 10. No doubt it was driven by hunger but that observation was a good example of the wildlife that is ever present close to our homes but which we rarely see in normal circumstances. John's sighting reminded me of another such example seen further up the Billy Trail (where it passes Wade Court) in very different circumstances. It was summer time 'long ago' (well, after the railway had ceased to operate in the mid 1960s) and the council employee charged with clearing the grass beside the track was equipped with a scythe. In the grass was a defiant Stoat, determined that his grass was not to be cleared, and after the 'grim reaper' had passed I found the dead Stoat, his teeth bared in ferocious defiance of fate, lying among the mown grass. Coming up to date last night's Snowwatch TV programme reminded us of a difference between Stoats and Weasels that is not commonly known - Weasels are small and agile enough to pursue Voles through thier tunnel under the snow, Stoats are too big for this and have to operate like Foxes, seeking prey by scent and then pouncing on creatures hidden below the snow.

Common Seal: A birder watching a Velvet Scoter on the water off Titchfield Haven on Jan 13 had his attention distracted by the sight of a Common Seal swimming through the same area. Looking back to where the Scoter had been he saw nothing and suspects it was pulled under and devoured by the Seal.

Muntjac: A report of this species seen by the Weir Wood reservoir on Jan 2 reminds me that this is another of those species which are now probably quite widespread in southern counties but rarely detected by the general public (though well known to those who recognise their dog-like barking).

Hedgehog: On Oct 8 I was told that a Hedgehog which had been a regular night visitor to food a Leigh Park garden here in Havant had settled to hibernate in a comfortable hay lined wooden 'Hedgehog Hibernation Box' placed inside a chicken house in this garden but Tony Tupper who had provided the box tells me that it has been scorned by the Hedgehog (my guess is that the Hedgehog got fed up with having his sleep disturbed by the clucking of the chickens but then I don't even know if there were chickens sharing the accommodation!)

Hare: The sighting of half a dozen Hares on the Downs above Amberley in the Arun valley on Jan 10 was more expected than last weeks report of two still hanging on at Eames Farm on Thorney Island. The Snow-watch programme also showed that the snow cannot deter nature's cycle and that the Jacks are already in constant attendance on the Jills, and will mate just as soon as they females cease to 'box' them off. The TV programme also reminded us that this is the time when Foxes mate and I am surprised not to have seen reports of the nocturnal yapping and wailing that is associated with this activity.


Wildlife diary and news for Jan 1 - 10 (Week 0 and 1 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Plenty of these about but one seen oiled, dying and then dead on Ivy Lake at Chichester this week was a reminder of the grim conditions birds are facing

Great Crested Grebe: The Rye Bay flock of Pett Level numbered 324 this week (and more than 200 were on the sea off Bournemouth)

Slavonian Grebe: One was in the north of Langstone Harbour seen from Broadmarsh on Jan 4 (with 7 off the Lymington shore and 3 off Hill Head this week

Black-necked Grebe: A sighting of 20 in Langstone Harbour off the Oysterbeds on Jan 4 was a better than average winter count for recent years

Cormorant: Jan 3 brought the first report of a breeding plumage bird (leg roundels and 'judge's wig') from the Slipper Mill Pond in Emsworth

Bittern: Plenty of these being reported with a max count of five seen in the Brogborough Lake area of Bedfordshire (close to the A421 connecting Bedford to the M1 near Milton Keynes). In the south recent sightings have been at the Ivy Lake (Chichester), Titchfield Haven, Duncton Mill Pond west of Pulborough, Blashford Lakes, Avon Causeway area, Christchurch Harbour, Rye Harbour, Poole Harbour, Weymouth (Lodmoor and Radipole) and Arundel.

Cattle Egret: One still being seen at Winkton in the Avon Valley up to Jan 4 at least

Great White Egret: The bird found at Sinah gravel pit lake on south Hayling on Jan 1 was still there on Jan 4 but has not been reported since. It may have flown east on Jan 7 when one passed over the Worthing area and was subsequently seen at Rye Bay

White Stork: First report for the year from Belgium on Jan 3 when a Sacred Ibis was seen in the Netherlands

Spoonbill: One still in Pagham Harbour on Jan 4

Bewick's Swan: The count at Slimbridge reached a seven year peak with 309 present on Jan 6. Two newly arrived (??) families totalling 10 birds were seen in the Climping area (east of Bognor) on Jan 7 and on Jan 5 there were reports from Pulborough Brooks (38), Blashford Lakes area (10), Dungeness RSPB (70), with 279 at Slimbridge. I suspect there were still 46 on the Arun at Burpham where they were reported on Jan 3 and maybe 27 in the Adur valley above Henfield (reported Jan 2)

Whooper Swan: The family of four which spend their nights at the Chichester Lakes were seen there in the early morning and later were seen in Pagham Harbour

Whitefront Goose: Counts at Slimbridge were 274 on Jan 1 and 270 on Jan 8. Elsewhere there were around 30 in the Rye Bay area on Jan 3 and on Jan 5 there was a report of 50 flying south to sea over East Wittering

Red-breasted Goose: The bird at the Exe estuary has not been reported since Jan 4 (on Jan 2 it was said to be increasingly mobile - thinking of moving??)

Mandarin: A drake seen at the south Hayling Sinah gravel pit lake on Jan 9 and 10 is a rarity for the local area

Gadwall: Numbers of this species have increased dramatically on the south coast in recent years but a count of 876 at the Blashford Lakes on Jan 10 was still surprising even though it did not beat the county record of 1017 birds there on 4 Jan 2008

Green-winged Teal: A drake was seen on the Budds Farm Pools at Havant on Jan 9, subsequently moving to the open harbour were it was seen from the Oysterbeds on Jan 10

Mallard: Another example of the conditions now being faced by wild birds comes from the Four Marks area of Hampshire near Alton. On Jan 9 Chris Rose reported one .. "Found dehydrated in my garden this morning, is now recovering under my pergola after long drinks and a wash in a washing up bowl!" Its condition when found was such that he could not be certain it was a Mallard!

Red-crested Pochard: A good number of these have appeared on the south coast this week and are thought to be refugees from the large captive and feral population in the south Midlands (principally the Cotswold Wildlife Park at Burford in Oxfordshire). I have 15 reports of them including, on Jan 7, 11 in Christchurch Harbour, 4 at Broadmarsh in Langstone Harbour, 2 at Testwood Lakes near Southampton and 2 at Radipole (Weymouth). On Jan 8 one was at Abbotsbury in Dorset and Lee Evans found 22+ at Stewartby Lake south of Bedford and 27 on Grafham Water north of Bedford. On Jan 9 3 were in Hill Head Harbour (Titchfield Haven) and 2 in Poole Harbour. Jan 10 brought 6 to the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood

Ferruginous (?) Ducks: What may have been a genuine female was at Wraysbury in Berkshire on Jan 8 but on Jan 4 Andy Johnson reported two (male + female) which he saw on the south Hayling Sinah gravel pit lake at hybrids ('Fudge Ducks')

Long-tailed Duck: The Langstone Harbour pair were seen again from the Broadmarsh shore on Jan 4, 6 and 7

Common Scoter: Two were seen from Thorney Island on Jan 4 and a femeale was in the Langstone Harbour Broom Channel east of Farlington Marshes on Jan 9

Smew: 68 were present at Noordwijk in the Netherlands on Jan 8 and around 12 were on Grafham Water (north of Bedford) on Jan 9. Locally a pair were on the River Test in the Southampton area on Jan 7 but the record that I am most interested in is of a brief appearance on the IBM Lake at Portsmouth for less than 1 hour on the morning of Jan 6, reminding me of the regular wintering birds seen there each winter from 1981 to 1985

Marsh Harrier: The Langstone Harbour bird was seen over the RSPB Islands on Jan 9 (with 2 male Hen Harriers and a female Merlin in the same area)

Rough-legged Buzzard: For 13 consecutive years there have been few or no Lemmings in Scandinavia to support the creatures which prey on them, including these Buzzards (news from Lee Evans)

Water Rail: Ian Thirwell, who lives in the Milton area of Portsmouth immediately south of the Milton Common Lakes, was surprised to find two in his small garden on Jan 7

Golden Plover: Lots of these around but maybe not for too much longer - one found dead at Portland Bill on Jan 9 weighed only 100 grams (the expected weight at this time of year is a minimum of 200 grams)

Lapwing: On Jan 6 some 2500 flew south from Portland Bill in search of warmth and food, on Jan 7 another 650 went south from Christchurch Harbour and a further 200 went south from Portland on Jan 9

Knot: On Jan 8 Tony Gutteridge saw what he thought were many Knot distantly off the Emsworth western shore and on Jan 9 Brian Fellows confirmed that there were more than 450 Knot in that area at low tide. Although this is by no means an exceptional count for either Chichester or Langstone Harbour it is very unusual to see so many in the north west of Chichester Harbour

Little Stint: One was still being seen in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Jan 9

Jack Snipe: As with Water Rail these become more visible in hard weather and there have been unexpected sightings in the Sinah Warren area of south Hayling on Jan 4 (when others were seen on Thorney Island and at Climping (east of Bignor). On Jan 7 five were found in Christchurch Harbour plus two in the Pagham Harbour north walls area. On Jan 9 there were two in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester and one in the Hayling Oysterbeds area.

Woodcock: Plenty of these already here or arriving from the continent (e.g. 21 at Sandwich Bay on Jan 7) but the moonlit snow lying in the Havant area on the night of Jan 6 gave Martin Hampton an exceptionally unusual sighting of one flying through his garden, seen from a house window.

Black-tailed Godwit: The Emsworth Nore Barn feeding flock did not exceed 67 (seen on Jan 4) this week. At Ibsley Water (Ringwood) that day a Peregrine caught one of some 500 birds but the falcon dropped and it was quickly devoured by Great Blackback Gulls. On Jan 7 there were 700 in Christchurch Harbour (disturbed from the Avon Valley) and on Jan 8 some 105 were feeding in Forton Lake (close to the Gosport 'Explosion' Museum)

Bar-tailed Godwit: In recent winters flocks of up to 2000 birds have been seen in the Langstone Village area of Chichester Harbour but this winter the highest count there was of just 120 birds on Oct 10. Now, on Jan 8, a flock of around 225 was seen there but flew off west

Whimbrel: At least three were wintering in Chichester Harbour on Jan 4 when 2 were seen on the west shore of Thorney Island and 1 was in the Fishbourne Channel

Spotted Redshank: The Emsworth Nore Barn bird was still being seen on Jan 9 when another regular was in the Fishbourne Channel. On Jan 7 there was a more unexpected sighting of one at the mouth of the Langbrook stream (west of Langstone) accompanied by a Common Sandpiper which seems to have flown back to the mouth of the Hermitage Stream at Broadmarsh

Iceland Gull: What seems to be the first of the winter in southern England (last report was one in Cornwall on Sep 26) was reported at Sennen in Cornwall on Jan 1

Glaucous Gull: These too have been out of the news this winter until now when there was a probable in Cornwall on Jan 1 and a more definite sighting at Dungeness on Jan 4

Sandwich Tern: At least three wintering birds were seen in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Jan 3

Stock Dove: In recent winters several significant flocks have arrived and settled in southern England but this winter a flock of 150 at the Pannell Valley near Rye is the first such report. On Jan 4 what was presumably a local resident bird was heard singing in Stansted Forest

Ring-necked Parakeet: A national census count at all known English roosts was made on Jan 3 giving a UK total of 14,000 birds of which 1154 were in Kent (presumably the Ashford Hospital site)

Barn Owl: The Warblington Farm bird was still to be seen over the rough fields at the eastern boundary of the farm on Jan 8

Long-eared Owl: One reported to have been seen on Jan 4 roosting in West Wood near Netley on the Southampton Water shore

Short-eared Owl: One was seen hunting over Thorney Island on Jan 4 but I have no info on whether this was over the Thornham Marshes or in some less easily seen part of the island

Kingfisher: Local birds were seen at the mouth of the Langbrook Stream on Jan 5 and at Brook Meadow on Jan 9 while on Jan 8 Tony Tupper told me that he is having regular sightings of one fishing the Hermitage Stream just south of Purbrook Way in Leigh Park

Great Spotted Woodpecker: These have been heard drumming at many Hampshire locations from mid-December onwards (Glynne Evans thinks this occurs after the winter solstice in response to lengthening daylight hours). So far this month they have been heard on Southampton Common, southwest Hayling (Sinah Warren area), Stansted Forest, Romsey town, the Cheriton area near Alresford, the Haslar area of Gosport, Denmead and Chilbolton near Andover

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: These are most easily found in early spring but reports this week from Ardingley in Sussex and Brook Meadow at Emsworth do not have any corroborative evidence to separate them from the much commoner Great Spotted

Wood Lark: The population of this species has increased recently resulting in small numbers of them being seen among the thousands of Skylarks fleeing the cold. Between Jan 6 and 10 there were 19 reports with a peak count of 30+ at Ventnor (IoW) on Jan 7. On Jan 10 two were found in suburban gardens in the south west of Fareham and on Jan 6 Sandy Point on Hayling had 17 and Titchfield Haven area had 18

Skylark: Huge numbers have been fleeing the cold (though perhaps confused as to which direction to take). On Jan 6 more than 30,000 were estimated to have flown east over Christchurch Harbour with at least 1000 going over Southsea Castle that day. On Jan 7 more than 4000 went over the Bignor area and on Jan 9 there was a flock of around 2000 in the lower Avon Valley

Meadow Pipit: Many of these also on the move with individuals searching for food in unexpected places - in watercress beds, in the crevices of tree park and under garden shrubs

Waxwing: On Jan 8 Lee Evans reported that up to 40 had been seen in the north of Britain this week and on Jan 6 there was an isolated report of one spending 15 minutes in a Bognor Regis garden

Fieldfare: Huge numbers can be seen everywhere in southern England this week starting with a roost of 7000 in the Kent Stour Valley on Jan 5. On Jan 6 Durlston reported 34,000 passing in 4 hours

Song Thrush: These have not been seen on the widespread basis of the Redwings and Fieldfares but Jan 7 brought an estimate of 1000 arriving at Ventnor on the IoW while Portland reported 250 that day

Redwing: Fewer than Fieldfare but widely distributed. High counts were on Jan 6 when Portland had 5000, Christchurch Harbour had 8000, Durlston had 6000 but Hampshire only had 130 at Lymington, 59 at Titchfield and 33 at Broadmarsh.

Mistle Thrush: The general scarcity of this species is brought out in the counts of thrush species on the move - Lymington had 22 on Jan 6 but no other counts have exceeded 10

Firecrest: These remain more reported than Goldcrest this winter but the highest count I have seen is of just 3 on south Hayling. In Dorset one enterprising bird was to be seen inside a Farm Shop

Chough: At least 6 could still be seen at Nanquidno near Lands End in Cornwall on Jan 3

Twite: A flock of 12 (two of them with colour rings) was on the Thanet coast in Kent on Jan 6

Snow Bunting: A flock of around 50 was present in north east Kent on Jan 8 but other than a couple at Christchurch Harbour on Jan 6 and 2+ at Durlston on Jan 7 there are none in central southern England

Yellowhammer: A few more than usual being seen but the biggest numbers are 42 at Folkestone on Jan 3, 33 in the Alton area on Jan 9 and 20 at Kingley Vale on Jan 5

Reed Bunting: One report of 120 in the Pannell Valley near Rye on Jan 7 but otherwish Christchurch Harbour has the highest count with 25 on Jan 6, followed by two widely separated flocks of around 20 in the Pulborough area.

Corn Bunting: The highest count reported in southern England this week is of 12 on the Downs south of Pulborough. Lee Evans however reports an exceptional assembly of around 700 birds at Stotfold in Bedfordshire on Jan 4

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Nothing to report this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Nothing unusal to report this week but quite a few flowers can still be seen in sheltered spots

OTHER WILDLIFE

Dolphin: A group of three were seen in the southern part of Southampton Water on Jan 5 and 6. They were reported as Common Dolphins which can be found in British waters (particularly in the south) but are less frequently reported than the Bottle-nosed species. They do however have very distinctive whitish flanks to the front of the body and should be unmistakeable if seen well. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/species/Short-beaked_Common_Dolphin

Common Seal: One in the north of Pagham Harbour on Jan 3 (and a Grey in Rye Bay on Jan 7)

Moles: More tunnelling could be seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth this week, possibly a result of earth worms being hard to come by in the cold soil

Red Squirrel: Three were seen at Binstead (IoW) on Jan 5

Hare: I used to see these regularly in Eames Farm fields (immediately north of the west Great Deeps on Thorney) but have not seen a report of any there since April 2006 - before that the only record I have for this century is of sightings of singles by Brian Fellows on Mar 13 and 30 in 2000. I was therefore delighted to see a picture of two there in the snow on Jan 8 taken by Jeff Goodridge (see http://thefinancialbirder.piczo.com/friday8thjanuary2010?cr=4&linkvar=000044 )

Lemmings: None seem locally but they get in the news through their impact on birds which prey on them. Lee Evans tells us that Rough-legged Buzzards in Scandinavia have had a poor breeding season for the 13th year in a row as a result of the almost complete absence of Lemmings


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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