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WEEKLY SUMMARY


Wildlife diary and news for Mar 25 - 31 (Week 13 of 2013)

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BIRDS

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Divers: The supply of wintering Red-Throated seems to be running out with the largest count of them this week being just 70 passing Splash Point at Seaford on Mar 28 (compared to 380 passing Dungeness on Mar 21). Black-Throated, on the other hand, were slightly more numerous with both Selsey and Christchurch Harbour recording 2 seen together and a massive total of 66 being seen on the French Channel coast on Mar 29. Only seven reports of Great Northern during the week, none of them being of more than 2 birds but to offset this the Pacific Diver was back at Penzance and a single White-billed was off the Isle of Lewis in the north.

Grebes: The Pied-billed Grebe was still at Ham Wall in Somerset on Mar 27 and at least one Red-Necked was seen in Cornwall. Numbers of Slavonian were down with a max of 5 in Portland Harbour and 4 in Hayling Bay and nowhere had more than 4 Black-Necked though some were now in full breeding plumage.

Bittern: Reports from just three sites this week seems to indicate that a mass exodus has taken place.

Egrets: My fears that Little Egrets might have deserted Langstone Pond as a breeding site have been partially allayed by my own observation of ten birds crouching at ground level under the nest trees when I visited at sunset on Mar 29 and this number of birds in the vicinity was confirmed by a recent independent observation. The weather has clearly delayed the start of breeding this year but I see that on Mar 29 2012 there were 27 birds and 8 active nests to be seen here.

Glossy Ibis: The bird which arrived in a Warblington Farm field (between Havant and Emsworth) on Feb 23 has not been seen there since Mar 22 but it could be that bird which arrived at the Arundel wetlands reserve on Mar 30

Spoonbill: The bird which arrived at Farlington Marshes on Mar 6 (apparently with a second bird which did not stay) was last seen on Mar 25 when it flew east but the two birds which arrived at Titchfield Haven, also on Mar 6, and which increased to five birds on Mar 25 were all still there on Mar 30. Further west around a dozen more birds are still being reported across Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

Brent Geese: We are now very close to the day on which a visit to the Solent harbours finds them devoid of Brent - at the end of last week there were reports of 400 passing Folkestone and 750+ to be seen at the mouth of Chichester Harbour and this week started with a flock of 600 in the north of Pagham Harbour and 350 dropping off at Pett Level on Rye Bay but from Mar 27 on there have been no reports of more than 200 anywhere (though I suspect there were still 500 at least on Farlington Marshes)

Red Breasted Goose: The Farlington bird was still present on Mar 30

Garganey: Reports still continue to be published more or less daily. At the end of last week there were 21 at one Netherlands site (and potentially 34 if we total reports from six sites on Mar 24) and this week there were at least 25 birds in the UK including one seen briefly at Sandy Point (entrance to Chicheseter Harbour) on Mar 27.

Smew: One redhead was still at the Longham Lakes (Bournemouth) on Mar 27 and five still at Dungeness on Mar 28

Osprey: At least five birds arrived on Mar 24 and the same number were seen at different sites on Mar 28 but all ten were in counties west of Hampshire (we did have one coming up the Test and another the Itchen back on Mar 22)

Merlin: Migrants arrived at nine south coast sites this week, including one at Farlington Marshes.

Hobby: One very early bird reported at East Stoke in Dorset (just west of Wareham in the Frome valley) on Mar 25

Stone Curlew: Three reports this week. One at the Exe estuary in Devon on Mar 24. one at Bury Hill above the R Arun south of Pulborough on Mar 27, and one near Salcombe in south Devon on Mar 29.

Little Ringed Plover: Since the first reached Hastings on Mar 7 there have been around 40 reports, some of unusually large numbers (e.g. 23 seen together at Colyford Marsh in south Devon Mar 28 - Colyford is at the mouth of the River Axe, close to the Dorset border)

Kentish Plover: One arrived at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Mar 24 but did not stay while two were at Rye Harbour from Mar 25 to 30 at least (though it seems that only one bird has been seen on Mar 29 and 30

Golden Plover: Flocks seen this week at Titchfield Haven (only 18 birds), Maiden Castle in Dorset (500), Lymington Marshes (27), West Compton in Dorset (220), Upottery Airfield in Devon (240), and Ranvilles Lane south of Fareham (144) where several birds were already in summer plumage.

Purple Sandpiper: The number at Southsea Castle was 18 on Mar 2

Spotted Redshank: It seems that the bird which has been coming to spend the winters at Nore Barn (west end of the Emsworth shoreline) since Dec 2004 left for its summer quarters on the night of Mar 27 although a second bird (first noticed at Nore Barn on Mar 14) was still present on Mar 30. Surprisingly, considering all the attention it gets, it seems there is no way to determine the sex of a Spotted Redshank by its size or plumage but it can be assumed that the regular bird is a male by the dates of its passage which are set by the parental duties of the sexes. Males have to get to the breeding site first, build the nest and then wait for a female to come along, mate, and lay eggs in the nest (before moving on to another male and repeating the process). Having laid eggs in several nests the female takes no more interest in her offspring but flies straight back to temperate latitudes, arriving back in southern England at the end of May or early June. The male has to stay and incubate the eggs, then feed the young before he can return but there must be some other reason for this particular bird not reaching the Nore Barn site until (in 2012) Oct 9.

The above account of the bird's annual activity is based on facts I have gleaned over the years but I cannot find solid facts to justify it. The best I can do is point to an article in the 'Birds of Britain' web magazine (see http://www.birdsofbritain.co.uk/bird-guide/spotted-redshank.asp) in which the final paragraph reads .. "Female spotted redshank form flocks and some leave breeding grounds up to a week before eggs hatch. Others desert partners with broods at an early stage. Within three days of birth a brood of young may have been led a distance of almost a mile. The males, accompanied by the juveniles, follow during the second half of July and August".

Barn Owl: Cold and lack of food is bringing many Barn Owls out to hunt in daylight and of local interest one has been seen over the Langstone South Moors on both Mar 2 and 28.

Short-Eared Owl: On Mar 28 one was seen to fly in off the sea at Christchurch Harbour and others were seen on that day near Arne by Poole Harbour, at Wyke Down in north east Dorset, at Farlington Marshes and at Folkestone.

Common Swift: One flying over the Scillies on Mar 23 was the earliest ever seen in the islands

Hoopoe: One also seen on the Scillies on Mar 23 ws found dead there next day.

Shorelark: One was in Suffolk on Mar 27 and other than two in Norfolk from Feb 5 to 8, was the only one in the UK this winter

Sand Martin: 110 were flying over the Blashford Lakes on Mar 25 and there have now been 61 reports since the first arrival on Mar 7 but none have been seen in counties east of Hampshire other than one flying over Ivy Lake at Chichester on Mar 27.

Swallow: Of the 33 reports so far this year only three have been in Hampshire (Mar 23 brought 20 to the Blashford Lakes and a single to the Testwood Lakes near Southampton while a single was at Titchfield Haven on Mar 24) and only one has been seen in Sussex at Selsey on Mar 28. All the rest have been further west with a peak of 50 at Exeter on Mar 23.

Red-rumped Swallow: Just one so far this year over the Scillies on Mar 23.

House Martin: Seven reports this week with birds seen in Sussex, Hampshire, and Cornwall betwwen Mar 23 and 28

Tree Pipit: After one in Gwent on Mar 18 there were singles in the Test valley on Mar 25 and at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 28.

Waxwing: There were still 51 at Exeter on Mar 26 and 20 in Romsey on Mar 28 but the only other places still reporting them were Basingstoke (6 on Mar 28) and Westfield near Hastings (14 on ar 29).

Bluethroat: Following the bird at Portland on Mar 23 and 24 there have been singles on the Isle of Wight (St Helens on Mar 27), at Folkestone (also Mar 27) and a second bird at Portland on Mar 28.

Black Redstart: This week brought a substantial increase in the number of passage birds moving through southern England after a report of 30 in the Scillies on Mar 22 and 23 arriving at Portland on Mar 24. I understand that in northern France the Black Redstart is the equivalent of our garden Robin and it seems surprising that we do not have more of them breeding over here, especially after the way they moved into London bombsites after the war and the fact that there was at least one breeding pair in each of the Portsdown Forts back in 1978. Perhaps 2013 will be the year in which they decide to stay here after their spring reconnaisance trips.

Common Redstart: During my regular trawl through internet bird sites this week I came across at least three reports of 'Redstart' sightings which I dismissed as being references to birds which must, at this time of year, be Black Redstarts but when scanning the Scillies news I came across one report which went out of its way to emphasise that it referred to a male Common Redstart and a check on the latest Hampshire Bird Report gave me the 'earliest arrival' date as 17 Mar 1968

Wheatear: The number reported at Portland was 200 or more on each day from Mar 24 to 27 leaving me wondering how many of them will survive if they fly on north to find their breeding sites buried under feet of snow and no insects to feed on.

Ring Ouzel: These were seen in small numbers at more than 20 sites all along the south coast from Hampshire westward (including Farlington Marshes and Gosport)

Fieldfare: Plenty still passing through Hampshire this week with a peak of 100 birds seen near Ropley in east Hampshire on Mar 24

Redwing: Still plenty of reports (none of them yet mentioning ths communal subsong which precedes their departue on a long haul flight. On Mar 24 there were some 200 with the Fieldfares and on Mar 27 there was a small party of 22 on Warblington Farm near Emsworth.

Blackcap: A mass arrival of around 60 at Portland on Mar 24 must surely announce the arrival of our summer birds (which must be glad to get here and leave the even lower temperatures in central Europe).

Willow Warbler: Five isolated reports between Mar 13 and 21 gave way this week to 12 reports covering some 23 birds in the period from Mar 23 to 29

Bearded Tit: It is well worth looking at Bob Chapman's blog (http://solentreserves.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/a-harrier-in-shadow-land/) which describes the construction of special 'nest sites' for Bearded Tits from bundles of reed bound together to allow the birds to build their own nests within the fairly rigid bundles which are much less susceptible to the wind and rain than natural reeds are.

Great Grey Shrike: Birds were still present at both the Shatterford area of the New Forest and Wyke Down in north east Dorset at the end of this week.

Rook: I was pleased to see that by Mar 26 there were 22 active nests at the one remaining rookery in Emsworth (behind the block of flats on Victoria Road almost opposite Emsworth Primary School).

INSECTS

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Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Unsurprisingly no reports of butterflies this week

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Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

In addition to the normal list of moth sightings given below with links to the websites giving background info about those species here is a list of what I believe to be 'First of the Year' reports

None this week

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

2187 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi found in Kent on MAR 23 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3947

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2187.php

Other Insects

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris): One seen in Emsworth on Mar 25 was determined to be an over-wintering Queen as it was consuming nectar without thought for others, i.e. not filling the pollen baskets on its legs for others to eat when it got back to the nest.

PLANTS

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Green Hellebore: On Mar 28 I made my annual pilgrimage to the Woodlands Lane site on the hill above Walderton to find these plants in flower. For my photos and more detail go to http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm#2803.

Clematis armandii: Although a garden plant a specimen planted in a garden alongside Wade Lane in Langstone has escaped and taken over a Laburnum tree on which the bright white flowers currently form an eye-catching crown.

Danish Scurvygrass: This has at last started to flower on the central reservation of Park Road South immeditely north of the Langstone roundabout where traffic enters Havant from the A27

Hairy Violet: This started to flower at Durlston on Mar 26 but I am told the flowers were out on Portsdown as early as Mar 20

Greater Stitchwort: Found flowering at two sites east of Havant during a cycle ride on Mar 28

Lesser Chickweed: This rarity was flowering at Durlston on Mar 29. The Hampshire Flora marks it as having been found at both the Sandy Point and Gunner Point ends of the south Hayling shore but I have never come across it and it is not mentioned in Pete Durnell's Wildlife of Hayling Island. Anyone thinking fo searching for it should read the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellaria_pallida and see the photos at http://www.naturephoto-cz.com/stellaria-pallida-photo_lat-8130.html and http://herbarivirtual.uib.es/cas-uv/especie/4319.html.

Spurge Laurel: This is rapidly vanishing from woods around Havant as a result of deer browsing so I am very pleased to see that Martin Hampton has planted a specimen in the small conservation area that he is managing on land between the Hayling Billy Trail and Lower Grove Road in Havant adjacent to where the path from Grove Road takes you to the Billy Trail.

Female Butterbur: The female plants growing on the wasteland alongside the Langbrook stream in the section of the streamside path between the kissing gates at the east end of Penner Road and the entrance to the HWT South Moors reserve were coming into full flower on Mar 25.

Summer Snowflake: On Mar 25 I had a look at the plants growing among brambles on the south side of Mill Lane at Langstone where the lane passes the West Mill property and confirmed that it was Summer (not the rare Spring) Snowflake by the height of the flowering stems (around 65 cm), the length of the tepals (equivalent of petals) at 17 mm and the fact that all but one of the flowers were in twos (the odd one being single).

OTHER WILDLIFE

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Otter: First mention of this species for the year comes from Christchurch Harbour where one, presumably feeling the stirring of spring, was seen on Mar 27. No clue as to which river (Avon or Stour) was it origin or destination.

Roe Deer: A buck seen at Durlston on Mar 29 had antlers covered in 'velvet' - last year's antlers will have been cast by the end of December and this year's will be sharpened and ready for action in May.

Hare: A mention of one being seen near Tundry Pond (west of Fleet in north Hampshire) on Mar 29 is only the fourth I have come across this year (others have been on the Isle of Wight, Rye Bay area, and the South Downs near the River Arun).

Adder: When the first emerged from hibernation on the cliffs at Durlston on Feb 4 there was sunshine to warm its body. They have been seen there several times since then but one seen on Mar 29 attracted the comment that the warmth of the sun was outweighed by the cold air temperature for any creature that could not snuggle down somewhere out of the wind.

Tyromyces caesius: This is the name given in my two, usually reliable, books on Fungi (Roger Phillips Mushrooms in the Pan Books series and Stefan Buckzaci's Fungi in the Collins New Generation Guide series) for a small yellowish bracket found on an old Birch in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth by Brian Fellows on Mar 19. The description given in both books closely fitted the specimen in respect of colour, overall size and size of the pores on the under surface and in the cap being clothed in long hairs but, as is very often the case, the name does not seem to be recognised by mycologists nowadays (e.g. it does not appear in the list of species given English Names) or is applied to a clearly different species which grows on conifers and looks different enough to be called the 'Conifer Blueing Bracket' or tne Blue Cheese fungus. To see Brian Fellows photo of the fungus go to http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x816-fungus-tyromyces-hbw-19.03.13.jpg

ENDWEEK

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Wildlife diary and news for Mar 18 - 24 (Week 12 of 2013)

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BIRDS

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Divers: On Mar 21 the number of Red-throated heading east past Dungeness was 380 compared with the count of 1040 passing on Mar 13 so perhaps the majority of these have now left us. The same trend can be seen with Black-throated - where there had been 8 together in Cornwall on Mar 12 this week the peak was only 4 on Mar 22 and the trend for Great Northern was even more noticeable, down from 42 on the south Devon coast on Mar 13 to just 8 in Cornwall on Mar 16. A couple of less expected reports this week were of 3 White-billed Divers off Aberdeenshire on Mar 17 and a further sighting of the Pacific Diver off Marazion (Penzance) also on Mar 17

Grebes: The biggest count of Great Crested still on the sea this week was just 19 off the Hove area of Brighton on Mar 19 and the one Red-necked reported on the English south coast (at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 22) was already in summer plumage. There were still 11 Slavonian in Portland Harbour on Mar 17 but the presence of 7 at Sandy Point (mouth of Chichester Harbour) on Mar 22 probably indicates a movement of these 'up channel'. No reports of Black-necked in Langstone Harbour this week but the number at the Blashford Lakes rose to 4 on Mar 22 and there were still 10 in the Falmouth area

Manx Shearwater: After the first few returned to British waters last week (Mar 15) there were only two more reported this week - one at Dungeness on Mar 16 and one at Spurn Head in Yorkshire on Mar 18

Grey Phalarope: One at Flamborough Head on Mar 23 was the second of this year after one on Jan 31

Bittern: Sightings at sites where Bitterns are not known to have wintered indicate that these birds are now returning to their breeding areas and this is confirmed by the Devon Birding website which says that an individual known as Annecke which was fitted with a GPS recorder in Holland in the summer of 2011 is known to have wintered at Slapton Lea in Devon in both 2011/12 and 2012/13, returning to Holland after each 400 km trip to Devon during which she flew at heights up to 1500 metres. Among the eight sites which have reported Bittern this week is Ivy Lake at Chichester were a bird flew openly across the lake on Mar 17.

Glossy Ibis: Last report of the Warblington bird was on Mar 22 but this is not proof that it has left the area

Spoonbill: The Farlington bird was still there on Mar 24 and there were 5 at Titchfield Haven on Mar 22 with singles at Lymington and Lodmoor on Mar 23. On Mar 21 the RBA website said there were 13 in the UK overall.

Mute Swan: The first reports of nest building came on Mar 23 from Farlington Marshes and Exminster Marshes in Devon.

Brent Goose: Despite adverse weather this week Brent continue to head east. Only 168 were reported passing Dungeness on Mar 18 but on Mar 19 Folkestone reported 482 heading east. Mar 20 saw 223 passing Dungeness and Mar 21 brought a count of 515 passing Folkestone while counts from Splash Point near Seaford were of 128 on Mar 22 and 307 on Mar 23.

Red-breasted Goose: Still showing well at Farlington Marshes on Mar 24.

Egyptian Goose: The first goslings of the year were seen at both Bickerley Common near Ringwood and at Tundry Pond (west of Fleet in north Hampshire) with broods of 4 and 1 repectively.

Wood Duck: Pairs were seen at the Testwood Lakes (Totton near Southampton) on Mar 20 and at Birdham Pool (Chichester Marina near Itchenor) on Mar 23.

Pintail: Most duck species are on the move back to nest sites and a typical report was of 477 Pintail at Cap Gris Nez in France on Mar 20.

Garganey: Eight reports this week show that the main body of migrants are now arriving. Six of these were of single pairs (one pair was at Farlington Marshes on Mar 20) but on Mar 23 one Netherlands site had 21 birds (with a potential total of 34 in the Netherlands).

Smew: On Mar 17 one Netherlands site had a flock of 33 and a single was at the Bembridge Marshes on the IoW. Mar 19 saw one redhead still at Longham Lakes (Bournemouth) and on Mar 22 one was at Wellington Country Park in north Hampshire near Fleet and 4 were still at Dungeness RSPB site.

Sparrowhawk: Among all the raptor species which we regard as at least partial migrants many birders overlook Sparrowhawks which will now be moving north in large numbers on the continent and I was reminded of this by news of four flying in off the sea at Dungeness this week.

Buzzard: Over on the continent these are already on the move with counts in the Netherlands of 139 on Mar 17 and 164 on Mar 18. In southern England there were a couple of reports of Buzzards spiralling up in thermals e.g. 16 were photographed in one column at near Torquay on Mar 16 and a minor reflection of birds moving to new territories was the arrival of one at Brook Meadow at Emsworth while on the nearby Warblington Farm three were seen on the ground searching a muddy field for worms which form a substantial part of their diet.

Osprey: After an isolated early arrival of one in Cornwall on Feb 27 the main passage started on Mar 15 with one near Paris in France; a single in Cornwall on Mar 16; two reported over Bridport in Dorset on Mar 18 and on Mar 22 two separate birds seen following the Test (at Romsey) and Itchen (at Winchester) north.

Merlin: These too are heading north through England as they return from winter quarters (taking advantage of the many smaller migrants which become easy prey as they tire on their own long journeys) and this week has brought a flurry of sightings at our coastal sites (Farlington Marshes, Christchurch Harbour, Dungeness, Rye Harbour and the Lymington Marshes). Peak count was five which arrived at Dungeness on Mar 20.

Exotic game birds: Singles of both Reeve's and Golden Pheasant were seen this week in a garden near Midhurst and at Fordington in Dorset respectively

Water Rail: Local sightings this week at Brook Meadow in Emsworth, Warblington Farm west of Emsworth and at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth (where up to three are still present).

Moorhen: Chicks had already hatched at Fishbourne near Chichester on Mar 20 - see photo at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x824-moorhen-chicks-fbm-19.03.13.jpg.

Avocet: The rate of passage back to breeding sites seems to have speeded up with 819 at a Netherlands site of Mar 17, 666 at another on Mar 18 when 42 were at Rye Harbour, and 940 at a Netherlands site on Mar 22.

Stone Curlew: First of the year was at St Catherine's Point, IoW, on Mar 23.

Kentish Plover: Another first for the year was one in the Netherlands on Mar 23.

Golden Plover: Nine reports, five of them in Hampshire this week (Farlington Marshes, Titchfield Haven, Lymington Marshes, Basingstoke and the West Lane fields on Hayling).

Bar-tailed Godwit: These seem to have started their spring passage a month earlier than usual - last spring the day which seemed to mark the start was Apr 23 when 243 were logged passing Dungeness and by Apr 28 the number passing Cap Gris Nez was 1958. This year 30 went past Dungeness on Mar 21, increasing to 145 on Mar 22 when similar counts were reported at Seaford Splash Point (142) and Worthing (140), the latter count being reported with the comment that the birds were four weeks early.

Whimbrel: With a report of 29 heading east past Splash Point, also on Mar 22, there is no no doubt that these were migrants and not wintering birds (I suspect that Mar 17, when 6 were seen in the Scillies, was the start of the passage arrival)

Spotted Redshank: The two birds which feed at Nore Barn (Emsworth) were both still present on Mar 24 but have been rapidly acquiring their summer plumage. On the Lymington shore however there were still 13 birds on Mar 10 and 10 birds on Mar 10 but this dropped to 9 on Mar 13 and there have been no reports from that well watched area since Mar 13.

Common Sandpiper: In the past we have not expected to see migrant arrivals until sometime in April but maybe they too will be early this year? The only evidence for this is a report of one flying east past Splash Point at Seaford on Mar 22.

Lesser Blackback Gull: The number of passage birds seen along the south coast has been increasing for some time (160 were seen in Southampton Water back on Feb 23 but the passage has been more noticeable across the Channel with 903 at a Netherlands site on on Mar 3, then 1005 on Mar 16 and now 3177 on Mar 23.

Sandwich Tern: 236 were present at Dungeness by Mar 21

Common Tern: There had been six isolated reports from Jan 20 Mar 11 but their arrival has speeded up this week with 2 on the French coast on Mar 22 when a single was at Exmouth in Devon and it or another was in the Weymouth area on Mar 23.

Short-eared Owl: Three were at Wyke Down in north east Dorset at the start of this week and singles have been seen during the week at Farlington Marshes, Sinah Common on Hayling and on the Pevensey Levels.

Hoopoe: The bird which now been seen 14 times in the Poole Harbour area since Jan 23 was still there on Mar 19.

Wryneck: The first to be reported this year was in the Netherlands on Mar 18.

Sand Martin: The biggest count among this week's 13 reports was of 65 at the Blashford Lakes on Mar 23.

Swallow: Blashford Lakes also had the highest reported count of Swallows with 20 there on Mar 23.

House Martin: Just two so far - one in Pembrokeshire on Mar 6 and one at Bude in Cornwall on Mar 22.

Tree Pipit: First and so far only report is of one in Wales (Gwent) on Mar 18.

Meadow Pipit: On Mar 17 Portland reported 5000 coming in from the south but this week the highest count is of 2,200 at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 22 though some continue to arrive each day. Although I have seen several reports of Rock Pipit song I am surprised to say that I have seen none of Meadow Pipit song - however I did hear and see one for myself over the Sinah Golf Course on Hayling on Mar 19.

Waxwing: Still some around with reports this week from Brighton, Romsey, Exeter, Southampton and Sandwich Bay (where the six birds seen on Mar 21 were heading north and presumably en route back to Scandinavia). Latest report is of 12 in Romsey on Mar 24.

White-spotted Bluethroat: On Mar 23 one turned up in the Netherlands and another was found in the ringers nets at Portland on the same day. For 'in the hand' photos go to the Mar 23 entry at http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm.

Wheatear: By Mar 22 the number arriving at Portland was up to 40 and on Mar 23 there were estimated to be 70 arrivals at Christchurch Harbour.

Ring Ouzel: Mar 23 brought a small wave of arrivals to our south coast including one at Farlington Marshes and two at Portland. Another was in Gosport on Mar 24.

Blackbird: From Mar 19 these have been singing thoughout the day almost everywhere, even in the rain.

Mistle Thrush: Of local interest I heard one in full song on Mar 19 in the Langstone fields between Wade and Pook Lanes just south of the A27. The rate at which this species is declining here makes me envious of the report from the Netherlands of a gathering of 311 of these birds at one site on Mar 18.

Willow Warbler: With Chiff Chaffs now present and singing almost everywhere I have only seen 6 reports of Willow Warbler with the first report from south Devon on Mar 13. The latest report on Mar 23 comes from the Lymington Marshes and is the first from anywhere east of Dorset.

Firecrest: Of local interest one was in the trees lining the Hayling Billy Trail where it passes Lower Grove Road on Mar 23.

Marsh Tit: Song heard this week for the first time this year in the Basingstoke and Winchester areas on Mar 16 and 23 respectively.

Golden Oriole: Just one report of the first of year at Langton Herring in Dorset on Mar 19.

Great Grey Shrike: Last seen at both the New Forest (Shatterford) and Dorset (Wyke Down) sites on Mar 20.

Raven: As might be expected there was a bit of aggro on Mar 19 between the Peregrines which have just returned to their established nest site on the Paulsgrove Chalk Pits (Portsdown Hill) and the pair of Raven which started building a nest there on Feb 28 and have been sitting for about a month. I suspect they will learn to co-exist as they do not contend for the same food and the nests are well separated.

Vagrants: An African Chaffinch was reported on Orkney on Mar 21. To see photos of the species and read an assessment of previous claims of this species in the British Isles go to http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=201569.

Escapees: A bird seen at Farlington Marshes on Mar 16 may have been a Cape Shelduck and if you want to know what that would look like go to http://www.birdforum.net/attachment.php?s=3fd608242eb2ced14f458778d440201b&attachmentid=200910&d=1244390657

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Small White: Late news of a sighting in Southsea on Mar 11.

Red Admiral: One at Portland on Mar 19.

Small Tortoiseshell: On Mar 14 one was seen in the Kingsclere area near Newbury and another at Gosport followed by one at Lewes on Mar 19.

Comma: One in a Havant area garden on Mar 19.

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

In addition to the normal list of moth sightings given below with links to the websites giving background info about those species here is a list of what I believe to be 'First of the Year' reports

714 (Coastal Flat-body), Agonopterix yeatiana out in Kent on Mar 20

2236 Pale Pinion, Lithophane hepatica out in Kent on Mar 20

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

0663 (March Tubic), Diurnea fagella found in Dorset on MAR 15 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1945

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0663.php

0688 (Common Flat-body), Agonopterix heracliana found in Kent on MAR 20 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=755

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0688.php

0714 (Coastal Flat-body), Agonopterix yeatiana found in Kent on MAR 20 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=714

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0714.php

1663 March Moth Alsophila aescularia found in Dorset on MAR 15 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1873

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1663.php

1930 Oak Beauty Biston strataria found in Dorset on MAR 19 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2639

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1930.php

1934 Dotted Border Agriopis marginaria found in Kent on MAR 22 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3940

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1934.php

2187 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi found in Kent on MAR 19 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3947

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2187.php

2190 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica found in Kent on MAR 22 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2001

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2190.php

2236 Pale Pinion Lithophane hepatica found in Kent on MAR 20 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2448

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2236.php

2237 Grey Shoulder-knot Lithophane ornitopus found in Dorset on MAR 19 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5016

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2237.php

2256 The Satellite Eupsilia transversa found in Kent on MAR 19 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1797

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2256.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Dorset on MAR 15 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

Other Insects

Woodlouse spiders (Dysdera crocata and Harpactea hombergi) : Graeme Lyons came on both species during a survey of the Filsham Reedbed (between Hastings and Bexhill) on Mar 23 (see the first entry under Other Wildlife for more detail) These two spiders both have powerful pincer like fangs which enable them to prey on the 'armor plated' bodies of Woodlice.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Mosses: For photos of two attractive moss species now 'fruiting' in Emsworth see the entry for Mar 20 in Brian Fellows blog at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm which has photos of what are thought to be Tortula ruralis and Bracythecium rutalbulum.

Winter Aconite and Lenten Rose: Both these planted species were flowering in the turf ofSt Faith's churchyard in Havant on Mar 18 - for photos and the rest of my finds there see http://ralph-hollins.net/Cemeteries.htm#F1803.

Blue Anemone: Another garden plant which has now 'escaped' into a dark corner of the Havant Cemetery (in New Lane) can be seen in another 'Cemetery Wildlife Poster' for this month at http://ralph-hollins.net/Cemeteries.htm#H1803

Grey Field Speedwell: I found the first flowers of this at the foot of the south wall of Warblington Church on Mar 20.

Coltsfoot and Butterbur: Neither are first flowerings but of local interest Coltsfoot was a new addition to the plants on the 'Emsworth Wayside' site along the north side of Emsworth Rail Station this week and fully formed Butterbur flower spikes were open at the Brook Meadow site.

Summer Snowflake: John Goodspeed found the expected garden escape flowers out on Mar 18 among the brambles on the south side of Mill Lane at Langstone where it passes the West Mill house. Although it seems odd to call a plant flowering in March 'Summer Snowflake' the much less common Spring Snowflake is said by Stace to start flowering in January, to usually have only one flower (sometimes two) per stem and to have stems no more than 40 cm high whereas the Summer Species flowers from March to May, has longer stems to 60 cm with up to 6 or 7 flowers per stem, each having slightly smaller flowers with tepals (equivalent to petals) 10 to 15 mm long where the larger Spring Snowflake tepals are 15 to 25 mm long.

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Vertigo antivertigo: An intriguing name to which I was introduced by Graeme Lyons in his blog entry for Mar 23 (see http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/vertigo-antivertigo.html). This is one of 53 invertebrate species which were found in a one day survey of Filsham Reedbed in the Coombe Haven valley area between Hastings and Bexhill. Also found here were 23 beetles, 8 snails, 8 bugs, 7 spiders, 2 leeches, one moth and earwig bringing Graeme's 'life list' to 4192 species but he selects this tiny Vertigo 'Whorl Snail' (around 1.3mm long) as best find and gives us a photo of it. My brief 'Shire Natural History' guide to Snails does not name it separately but has a single entry for Vertigo species (which it calls 'Whorl snails' with the comment .. "A number of species in this group of very small snails occur in a variety of habitats - identification of species is not easy!!". Although Graeme does not give us any more photos I found this image of one of his finds, the carabid beetle with the impressive name Demetrias imperialis which you can see at https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQc5f0L3qmxDW6SpJUTbuKuKs481k0oCW1fd0MGNChbh9ldUVmS.

Snake pipefish (Entelurus aequoreus): Great Blackback Gulls are already pairing and taking an interest in nest sites (as has been seen on the Emsworth Slipper Mill Pond raft). On Mar 18 one of a pair intending to nest on a Hastings roof was seen carrying an unusual 'nuptial gift' to its mate, the gift being a Snake Pipefish of which I found a dramatic photo at http://www.oceaneyephoto.com/photo_409982.html - well worth a look! It seems that these fish were rare until five years ago since when the population in southern British waters has increased dramatically.

Lichens: Brian Fellows has now been back to the Hollybank Woods for another look at the Fruticose type Lichen found there (see last week's entry re this) and with the help of a microscope has been able to determine that the stem base of the disputed species is black and thus the species in Usnea subforidana.

Fungi: Best find this week was of Scarlet Elfcup in the Wick Hanger wood above Finchdean (near Rowlands Castle). You can see an image of this species at https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSHBIokFHo1OLWzBWnWkraBJZ54KUzS8axpCbVNv6Zg9acMDDFR. Also seen in a couple of locations this week was fresh growth of 'Jelly Ear' (see https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSe6RAHp1O9-5nGC2kcKnFH_5i4dmJEVlJPcm7oknqtiMepP9NPrw)

ENDWEEK

(Back to Start of Week)


Wildlife diary and news for Mar 11 - 17 (Week 11 of 2013)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: I continue to be surprised at the number of Red-throated Divers which spend the winter in the southern North Sea and English Channel. Back on Jan 4 Trektellen recorded 2842 of them at a single Netherlands site with a potential total of 4150 by adding the number reported at a second site. Those birds have now dispersed and are now returning north giving totals passing Dungeness this week of 1100 on Mar 10 and 1040 on Mar 13 with another 411 on Mar 15. In contrast I only saw three reports of Black-throated this week, two of them being of single birds plus one of 8 birds at Gerrans Bay in Cornwall. Similarly there were only four reports of Great Northern with 5 on the sea at Selsey on Mar 10, the rest came from Devon and Cornwall with a peak of 42 at Branscombe (between Sidmouth and Seaton east of Exmouth) on Mar 14. An unusual report was of a White-billed Diver heading south off the Yorkshire coast on Mar 14

Grebes: The Pied-billed Grebe was still at the Ham Wall reserve in Somerset when two of our Three Amigos went to see it on Mar 10 - for their account and a borrowed photo see http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/2013/03/10/pied-billed-grebe-ring-necked-and-ferruginous-ducks-at-ham-wall-nine-great-white-egrets-and-bittern-at-shapwick-heath/. At least two sea rafts of wintering Great Crested were 140 birds off Folkestone on Mar 10 and 50 in the Brighton Marina area on Mar 12 while more than one pair were 'weed dancing' at the Weir Wood reservoir in NE Sussex on Mar 14. Two Red-necked were in Cornwall on Mar 12, one was off Dungeness on Mar 15 with up to four in the Netherlands on Mar 16. Portland Harbour had the most Slavonian this week with 9 on Mar 13 when 2 were seen near Plymouth and 3 off the Lymington shore. Mar 14 saw 11 Black-necked in Portland Harbour and 31 at Mylor Churchtown near Falmouth in Cornwall. In Hampshire there were still 3 at the Blashford Lakes on Mar 16.

Manx Shearwater: Two off Portland on Mar 15 were the first of the year for Britain as they return to breed

Bittern: The first mention of 'booming' comes from Steve Copsey who heard three different birds when at Shapwick Heath in Somerset on Mar 10 (Last year the first mention came from Dungeness on Mar 12)

Great White Egret: Also on Mar 10 Steve Copsey saw nine at Shapwick Heath in Somerset - this is where the first known UK Breeding by this species was confirmed last year and one chick is known to have hatched (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18280491 ) so it is interesting to see that the total of 8 birds there last year has increased to 9 this year.

Glossy Ibis: Two weeks after it was first seen at Warblington (on Mar 4) the bird was still present on Mar 16. I assume it arrived in the UK (probably from Spain) last autumn when a minimum of 15 birds arrived in Cornwall as a single flock on Oct 6 and other reports on the same day may have doubled that number being added to those already in the country. Recently only two of these have been reported but I suspect that the rest have found sites where they can spend the winter untroubled by twitchers so it is no surprise that as spring forces them out of hiding to find mates and breeding sites the number seen will increase - just two have emerged from hiding this week to be seen in Anglesey and over Coventry and I expect that the Warblington bird will not stay there much longer.

Spoonbill: 30 were seen at a Netherlands site on Mar 10 indicating some spring movement and this has also brought birds to Langstone Harbour, Titchfield Haven and Lodmoor with only two birds apparently remaining from the winter flock in Poole Harbour. At Farlington Marshes Bob Chapman got some excellent photos of the bird there - see http://solentreserves.wordpress.com/

The Farlington bird was still present today (Mar 17)

Mute Swan: Just one pair have been reported as starting to nest build at the Exminster Marshes in Devon.

Brent Goose: When I walked round Farlington Marshes on Mar 14 the large number of Brent still there (around 2400 have been reported this week) were showing signs of restlessness to be off with sub-flocks taking off for no obvious reason, circling the area with much chattering, then landing back on the marshes. The birds at Farlington may not have departed yet but many are still passing along the south coast with a peak of 1242 passing Dungeness on Mar 15.

Red-breasted Goose: I had good close views of the bird at Farlington Marshes on Mar 14 when the flock it was with landed on the water of the Deeps for a wash. At least two other birders reported it that day but none have done so since suggesting that it has now left us.

Green-winged Teal: The Lymington marshes bird was still there on Mar 16.

Smew: What may well be the last two reports for this winter were both of redheads - one at Wellington Country Park near Fleet in north Hampshire on Mar 14 and the other at the Longham Lakes at Bournemouth on Mar 13.

Osprey: The second sighting of this year (after one flying north over Land's End on Feb 27) comes from the Ile de France near Paris on Mar 1

Common Crane: This week has brought daily reports of up to 136 birds from sites in the Netherlands and Germany plus a report of 4 at the Slimbridge site in Gloucestershire on Mar 14.

Spotted Redshank: Winter birds are still with us this week but probably will not remain much longer. On Mar 10 there there still 10 on the Lymington marshes but this seems to have dimished during the week with only one seen on Mar 17. At Emsworth the 2 regular birds were still present on Mar 16.

Black-headed Gull: A sign of the season was the first observed mating by a pair at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Mar 14.

Common Tern: Two reports this week. 6 were seen at a Netherlands site on Mar 10 and on Mar 11 one was reported on the Suffolk coast at Thorpeness.

Black Tern: The earliest date of arrival in Sussex for the years since 1960 was Apr 2 up to this year when one was seen 'dip feeding' off the Climping beach near Littlehampton on Mar 9 and seen again flying inland on Mar 10. My only evidence for this come from Owen Mitchell who made the following entry on the SOS News site on Mar 15 ... "According to Bola's Climping blog, an amazing record of an early Black Tern dip-feeding 75yds off Climping beach on 9th March, before heading N inland over Atherington cottages. Now news reaches my ears that the bird was apparently reported in the Flansham area (nr Felpham) the following day. Seems the news wasn't released, but can't think why.....oh well."

Long-eared Owl: This is a very elusive species which does breed in both Hampshire and Sussex but is rarely seen by daytime birders so it is worth a look at the Portland website on which Martin Cade has managed to capture a photo of a bird which he thinks has been present very close to the Portland Observatory for over a month without anyone seeing it - see the Mar 15 entry at http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm. Another sighting at Alresford in Hampshire was equally surprising - on Mar 12 a party of birders saw .. "a LEO came over the hedge behind us, flew across in front of us and along the lane to our left before dropping into the hedge about 10 yards further on. We walked along a few yards and it flew out and along before diving into the hedge once again. We walked on and it flushed once again, this time flying across the road into the plantation of conifers between the road and the river. It landed briefly in sight before heading deeper into the plantation" The latest Hampshire Bird Report indicates that at least one pair bred successfully in the county in both 2010 and 2011 so hopefully this will be true again in 2013.

Bee-eater: An equally unexpected sighting was made on Mar 9 in the Woodfidley area of the New Forest by a couple of experienced birders familiar with the species, at least abroad. The sighting was reported on HOSLIST by Tony Hale who said .. "Elisabeth and I had just crossed the railway line at Woodfidley (SU346038) at about 12.30, when we disturbed 2 birds which flew off together, uttering a vaugely familiar but rather more strident call. They immediately separated and disappeared behind a tree! We both went to opposite sides of the tree and picked them up but unfortunately being up in the sky, we couldn't see any colour. The one that I was watching was circling as it drifted away to the SE (towards Hatchet Pond) and had the distinctive silhouette of a Bee Eater. The other one flew across in front of Elisabeth, a bit nearer and she was able to see the tail points. Unfortunately we didn't hear them call again, and we didn't see them join up. We eventually lost them behind the trees. We are fairly certain that they were Bee Eaters as we have seen them many times before". For a summary of breeding in the UK by this species see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee-eaters_in_Britain. My own searches have found reports of the species in the British Isles in all months from April to December but none for January to March.

Hoopoe: The bird which has been reported in the Hamworthy area north of Poole Harbour nine times between Jan 23 to Mar 4 was seen again on Mar 10 and a different bird was seen in the Scillies on Mar 8 and 10.

Green Woodpecker: This species gets into the news on account of a report from a farm beside the River Adur not far north of the A27 at Shoreham. The report was dated Mar 12 and said .. "Whilst walking the dog on the farm my wife heard a knocking noise coming from the beehives, she thought something was trapped and went to investigate, she saw bees lying in the snow and then a green woodpecker that had made a fist sized hole in the hive and was feasting on the hibernating bees."

Sand Martin: These are now widespread and up to 25 were present at the Blashford Lakes on Mar 13

Swallow: Sightings so far have been restricted to Cornwall and the Scillies although one was seen in Poole Harbour on Mar 1

Waxwing: Only seven reports this week but four of the sites were in Hampshire (Romsey, Fareham, Chandlers Ford and Basingstoke) Biggest count was a flock of 44 in Exeter on Mar 12.

Robin: At least one pair were nest building in the Ferring area near Worthing on Mar 9.

Stonechat: The first report of song for the year came from Devon on Mar 13.

Fieldfare: Still being reported daily with a flock of 400 seen at Warnford in the Meon Valley on Mar 12.

Redwing: We usually hear flocks in subsong before they leave but so far I have only seen one report of a single bird singing in Devon on Mar 13

Willow Warbler: Chiffchaffs are now here in force but the earliest date for a Willow Warbler in Hampshire since 1954 has been Mar 15 and the average first date has been Mar 25 so a couple of reports this week (albeit from Devon and Cornwall) on Mar 13 and 14 were surprising.

Raven: Of local interest on Mar 12 one flew over the northern fringe of Leigh Park towards the Staunton Country Park and also this week I hear that a group of four have been seen regularly in the East Park are of Stansted during the past winter

Bullfinch: Unusually high numbers continue to be reported with one garden in the north of Chichester having 10 birds (5 male, 5 female) on Mar 11

Hawfinch: Eastleigh Lakeside Park still had Hawfinches present this week with one heard singing on both Mar 14 and 15.

Lapland Bunting: Cornwall still had flocks of these this week with a max of 40+ on Mar 12

Snow Bunting: The last report I have seen was of just one left at Treen (near Lands End) on Mar 13.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Brimstone: None this week but late news of four in Sussex on Mar 5, one at Petersfield on Mar 6 and one at Nore Barn (Emsworth) on Mar 9.

Speckled Wood: Another bit of late news that they have been seen in the Hollybank Woods earlier this year - maybe this was around Feb 23 when one was phtographed near Worthing.

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

In addition to the normal list of moth sightings given below with links to the websites giving background info about those species here is a list of what I believe to be 'First of the Year' reports

1661 Orange Underwing Archiearis parthenias: a single female seen in Rewell Wood near Arundel on Mar 14.

1947 The Engrailed Ectropis bistortata: one at Durlston on Mar 9

2469 The Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix: one at Heathfield near Crowborough on Mar 13.

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

0663 (March Tubic), Diurnea fagella found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1945

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0663.php

1054 (Tufted Button), Acleris cristana found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1054

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1054.php

1661 Orange Underwing Archiearis parthenias found in Sussex on MAR 14 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=871

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1661.php

1663 March Moth Alsophila aescularia found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1873

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1663.php

1862 Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=123

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1862.php

1905 Horse Chestnut Pachycnemia hippocastanaria found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=764

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1905.php

1917 Early Thorn Selenia dentaria found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3537

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1917.php

1930 Oak Beauty Biston strataria found in Kent on MAR 15 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2639

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1930.php

1932 Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5099

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1932.php

1947 The Engrailed Ectropis bistortata found in Dorset on MAR 09 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6352

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1947.php

2182 Small Quaker Orthosia cruda found in Kent on MAR 15 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=347

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2182.php

2187 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3947

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2187.php

2190 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2001

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2190.php

2256 The Satellite Eupsilia transversa found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1797

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2256.php

2469 The Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix found in Sussex on MAR 13 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5101

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2469.php

Other Insects

Nothing for this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Wood Anemone: 30 were in flower at a site beside the Hulbert Road in Waterlooville on Mar 12

Danish Scurvygrass: This had started general flowering beside the Petersfield Road in Havant and also in the Cowplain area of Waterlooville by Mar 12

Early Dog Violet: This was also starting its mass flowering at the east end of the Havant Cemetery by Mar 12.

Storks Bill: First flowers for the year seen by the Petersfield Road in Havant on Mar 12.

Blackthorn: Flowering generally by Mar 12.

Escaped cultivated form of Wood Forget-me-not (I call it Garden Forget-me-not): Several plants in full flower on the roadside of Pook Lane immediately north of the A27 seen on Mar 16.

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Newts: On Mar 12 Brian Banks told us on the RX website that some 250 Newts (a mixture of Common, Palmate and Great Crested) were already back in a woodland pond in the Rother Valley area north of Hastings and that the first Great Crested eggs had already been laid

Common Lizard: Also on Mar 12 Brian Banks was the first this year to report a recent sighting of a Common Lizard in the Northiam area north of Hastings

Slow-worm: The first sighting of this species on Mar 10 came from Steve Copsey on the Three Amigos blog. It was found by chance in an unnamed country churchyard where he and Mark Cutts had stopped on their way back to the Portsmouth area after seeing the Pied-billed Grebe at the Ham Wall reserve in Somerset

Lichens: Brian Fellows found two lichen species of the branched (fruticose) type this week on visits to the Hollybank woods north of Emsworth, both of them growing on an old Silver Birch tree in the Holly Lodge clearing. The first can be seen in his photo at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x831-hollybank-lichen-b-13.03.13.jpg and is thought to be either Usnea subfloridana or Usnea cornuta but to separate these you need to see the base of the lichen's stem where it meets the tree. If the base of the stem is black the lichen is U. subfloridana but if the base has the same grey/green colour as the rest of the lichen then it is U. cornuta. The second species seems to be Ramalina farinacea and Brian's photo is at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x829-hollybank-lichen-a-13.03.13.jpg These names have been 'plucked from the air' by going to http://www.irishlichens.ie/lichen-fruticose.html, finding photos on that page which appear to match the photos taken by Brian, and then clicking on the selected name to get more info to help identify the species. For those unfamiliar with the structure of lichens and the terminology used to describe them the Irish Lichens website has a useful Glossary page (http://www.irishlichens.ie/glossary.html) which not only has the expected index of terms but, at the foot of the page, useful photographic illustrations of Growth Types and Fruiting Bodies

Fungus: Also found and photographed by Brian Fellows on the same old Silver Birch as the above Lichen species was a yellowish fungus which appears to me to be of the resupinate type but Brian is convinced that it is Yellow Brain fungus so, knowing that photos can mislead, I am reserving judgement until I have seen the fungus with my own eyes. Brian's photo can be seen at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x829-yellow-brain-hollybank-13.03.13.jpg

ENDWEEK

(Back to Start of Week)


Wildlife diary and news for Mar 4 - 10 (Week 10 of 2013)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: More than 300 Red-throated were heading east past Dungeness on both Mar 2 and 6 with smaller numbers leaving their winter quarters on other days. Black-throated were also seen in much smaller numbers (max 3 together) heading east along the Sussex coast and only 3 were to be seen in Mounts Bay (Cornwall) on Mar 8. Three Great Northern were still resting on the sea at Selsey Bill on Mar 6 with another 6 in St Austell Bay (Cornwall) on Mar 8. One White-billed was still in the Highland area of Scotland on Mar 4.

Grebes: 370 Great Crested were still in Rye Bay on Mar 6 with 705 on the Netherlands coast on Mar 4. On Mar 2 one Red-necked was off the Lymington shore and on Mar 3 singles were off both Durlston in Dorset and Goring in Sussex. There were more then 9 Slavonian off Pagham Harbour on Mar 2 but only 2 were seen from Selsey on Mar 5 and on Mar 8 3 off the Worthing area were probably on their way east though there were still 3 in Hayling Bay on Mar 9. Black-necked were still present in good numbers with 15 off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Mar 5 and Cornwall still had 9 in Mounts Bay on Mar 8.

White Stork: None in the Uk but a peak total of 202 at 15 Belgian sites on Mar 5 in a string of 'remarkable' reports there from Mar 4 to 7 show a return of nesting birds with a chance of some overshooting and reaching us.

Glossy Ibis: The Warblington bird has not been reported since Mar 8 but that may well be that it is no longer newsworthy

Spoonbill: These are now moving to breeding areas bringing 37 to the Somme estuary in northern France on Mar 5 and ones and twos to several southern English sites including Farlington Marshes and Titchfield Haven plus Lodmoor in Dorset

Bewick's Swan: A total of 1250 at 12 Netherlands sites on Mar 3 probably marks a major departure but 2 were still at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton on Mar 8 with another two at the Longham Lakes (Bournemeouth) that day.

Whooper Swan: No reports since Mar 6 and then the only count came from Germany suggesting that these have all left the UK.

Geese: Mar 3 seems to have been the day on which the majority of most wintering geese were last seen. Counts recorded on Trektellen that day were 3893 Tundra Bean Geese, 2344 Pink-foot, 6098 White-front and 5298 Greylag.

Dark-bellied Brent: These continue to head east with 292 passing Dungeness on Mar 4, 1800 more passing on Mar 5, 241 on the French Normandie coast on Mar 6 with 497 there on Mar 7, 170 at Rye Harbour on Mar 8 increasing to 1480 there on Mar 9 when another 1150 were moving along the French coast at Cap Gris-nez.

Red-breasted Goose: Still at Farlington Marshes on Mar 9 though not reported so far on Mar 10

Mandarin Duck: The sudden arrival of four of these pretty birds at a garden pond at Racton in the Ems Valley this week reminded me of my surprise when last autumn I learnt of a feral population of 80 or more birds at Hembury woods in south devon. Previously I was only aware of large feral populations in Surrey (Virginia Water) and the Forest of Dean but if you go to https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/factsheet/factsheet.cfm?speciesId=102 you will see a distribution map indicating the 10Km Squares in which the species has been recorded (almost everywhere in Britain from Lands End to John O'Groats) and will also discover that the spread of this non-native species is of little concern to DEFRA since the only known impact of these duck on other wildlife is that they compete for tree hole nest sites with Jackdaws and Grey Squirrels. Other relevant factors contributing to their spread are their easy availability for purchase at around 50 a pair and the fact that no one bothers to shoot them as their flesh tastes horrible. The four which arrived at Racton this week were probably roaming the countryside looking for nesting sites for the coming spring but I doubt they will stay in the Ems Valley as I gather that they like small slow-running streams with mature trees overhanging.

Wigeon: The presence of 500 at Christchurch Harbour on Mar 2 was attributed to 'fast falling water levels driving them from the Avon valley' confirming the reason for the recent return to coastal mud of Black-tailed Godwits from similar inland wetlands.

Green-winged Teal: The Lymington shore bird was still present on the Fishtail Lagoon at Pennington on Mar 9

Pintail: As with Wigeon many of these have recently left the Avon valley and that may be the reason for the arrival of 8 at the mouth of the Warblington Farm stream between Langstone and Emsworth on Mar 8

Garganey: No further arrivals reported in southern England since the pair at Weir Wood reservoir in East Sussex on Feb 16 but there have been two further arrivals in the Netherlands - a pair on Feb 28 and a single bird this week on Mar 4.

Shoveler: There were still 400 on the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Mar 4 but an indication that many will soon leave us came from a report of 30 fying east past Dungeness on Mar 4 (along with 32 Pintail)

Scaup: The pair were still present on the Budds Fam pools in Havant on Mar 9 but a birder looking for them on Mar 10 could only find the female. In Dorset the 9 birds still present at the Abbotsbury Swannery on Mar 8 were down to 8 on Mar 9 (all three Long-tailed Duck were still there on Mar 9.

Smew: An indication that these are leaving their winter quarters came from a report of 29 at a German site on Mar 6 but surprisingly the two drakes and one female were still at the Roadford reservoir in Devon (west of Dartmoor) on Mar 7 and the single redhead was still at the Longham Lakes (Bournemouth) on Mar 9.

Black Kite: The first mention of this species for this year was an RBA report of one at the Bough Beech reserve in Kent on Mar 4. This is a summer visitor to northern Europe but hardly qualifies for listing as one of our summer visitors to England.

Goshawk: On Mar 4 Lee Evans visited Hampshire and found a total of 9 Goshawks at two sites - no doubt there will soon be a nest-cam available for everyone to watch these birds on at least one of their nests.

Osprey: Last week I wrote of seeing a man-made Osprey nest on Thorney Island and wondering if the two model Ospreys fixed in the nest were likely to attract real Ospreys to make use of the nest. My guess was that they would be more of a deterrent than an attraction but since then I have learnt that Roy Dennis, the leading Osprey expert in Britain, had recommended the inclusion of the models as an attraction. For more on this subject see http://www.roydennis.org/animals/raptors/osprey/nest-building/

Peregrine: On Mar 4 the regular pair which nest on Chichester Cathedral were seen food-passing and mating.

Common Crane: Huge numbers have been returning to the Low Countries this week. On Mar 5 the reports peaked with a potential total of 65728 birds at 45 sites in the Netherlands.

Little Ringed Plover: The first of these summer migrants was seen in the Netherlands on Mar 4 and one reached England at Rye Harbour on Mar 7 when another was seen on the beach at Hastings.

Black-tailed Godwit: The drying up of inland wetlands (see entry for Wigeon above) has caused the Godwits to return to the coast and Brian Fellows discovered this on Mar 4 when he came on a flock of 252 birds feeding on mud just west of Langstone Bridge (to Hayling Island) replacing the typical flocks of no more than 20 birds we have been finding in Langstone and Chichester Harbours recently.

Whimbrel: Quite a few have wintered along the south coast but with no more than 2 being seen at any one site so a report of 7 at a Netherlands site on Mar 6 suggests that migrants are beginning to arrive.

Common Sandpiper: A report of one on the beach at Folkestone (where there have been no wintering birds) on Mar 4 suggests a migrant arrival.

Arctic Skua: I had not come across any reports of this species from Jan 5 until Mar 3 when three flew east past Selsey Bill and this suggests that these birds think it is time to return after their winter elsewhere.

Great Skua: One flying east past Beachy Head on Mar 3, the first anywhere since Feb 16, was similarly an indication that spring passage has started and this was borne out by further sightings this week at Dungeness and Folkestone.

Med Gull: On Mar 4 someone counted 62 at the Hayling Oysterbeds (with 65+ there nest day) and by Mar 9 there were 65 at Rye Harbour.

Little Gull: Spring passage of this species seems to have started on Mar 7 when 8 were off Dungeness (and on Mar 8 one was seen off Warblington in Chichester Harbour) before a report on Mar 9 of 3865 off Cap Gris-Nez.

Lesser Blackback Gull: There have been signs of spring passage fro some time (including one stpping off at the Emsworth Slipper Mill Pond on Mar 1) but a total of 1086 at four Netherlands sites on Mar 3 confirms that they are on their way.

Kittiwake: On Mar 2 more than 80 were seen back on nest ledges at Orcombe Point in Devon and on Mar 4 a few were seen on the cliffs at Seaford Head in Sussex.

Sandwich Tern: Several reports this week left no doubt that migrants have started to arrive. I suspect that the five birds which arrived at Rye Harbour (where none had been wintering) on Feb 16 were migrants but a count of 12 flying east at Selsey Bill on Mar 6 (more than had been wintering in that area) and a count of 241 at Cap Gris-nez on Mar 9 proved the point.

Puffin: There had been a couple of odd sightings at Warsash and Selsey Bill on Feb 2 and 3 but reports from Durlston and Portland Bill on Mar 1 and 9 show that the species is starting to head back to land for breeding.

Tawny Owl: A birder in Cornwall rigged a camera to detect activity in his garden at night and found that his pond was being visited by a Tawny Owl catching the Frogs coming to breed.

Hoopoe: A bird which had been seen in the Poole area of Dorset on eith days between Jan 23 and Feb 5 was spotted again on Mar 4.

Sand Martin: The first arrived on Mar 7 with 2 sightings in Dorset and 3 in Cornwall. More were seen at four sites in Cornwall on Mar 8 and one was at Fleet Pond in Hampshire on Mar 9.

Swallow: Just one so far at Helston in Cornwall on Mar 5

House Martin: Also just one which got as far as Pembrokeshire in Wales before being spotted on Mar 6.

White Wagtail: The first to be identified among the spring passage of Wagtails in this country was at Portland Bill on Mar 4 and on that same day one was seen at Warblington Farm in Havant by Ibis watchers. Since then others have been seen along the south coast from the Scillies and Cornwall to Kent.

Waxwing: Still 14 reports this week with up to 34 seen at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey on Mar 9.

Dipper: Although these have been found in Hampshire in some years I think they are very rare in Sussex so Sussex birders were very frustrated when they read on the 'WildaboutBritain' website an entry for Mar 4 saying .. "I was walking with a couple of friends yesterday in N.W.Sussex. Our route took us to an old Mill, somewhat off the beaten track. The mill, no longer in use, is fed from a large lake. The water leaves the lake and flows down, via a waterfall into a steep-sided stream. The three of us, almost as one, were amazed by the sight of a Dipper going about its normal activities among the rocks of the stream below. It stayed in good close sight for about a minute." .. This sounds a very plausible sighting but so far no one else has been able to locate the bird!

Wheatear: On Mar 5 RBA announced the arrival of the first Wheatears of the year at five sites of which one was Dawlish Warren in Devon and another was Weir Wood in Sussex. On Mar 6 one was seen in Cornwall where another turned up on Mar 8. Mar 9 brought the first to Portland, to Exmouth in Devon, and to Ferring in West Sussex but none have yet reached Hampshire.

Fieldfare: A flock of 330 was seen at Fleet in Hampshire on Mar 9 so daily sightings are not yet over.

Redwing: Just one seen at Nutbourne (east of Emsworth) on Mar 9 though I am sure there are plenty still with us.

Chiff Chaff: Portland reported the first migrant arrivals (seen flying in off the sea) on Mar 6 and a single bird was seen to fly in off the sea at Peacehaven near Brighton on Mar 7 but I am sure these are not the only arrivals.

Hooded Crow: One was seen at Sennen near Lands End on Mar 7, maybe a stray from the continental population or maybe a bird returning to our northern population after a winter holiday in the south.

Chaffinch: Large numbers are now arriving from the continent where a flock of 2078 were reported at a Netherlands site on Mar 7.

Common Rosefinch: The bird that has been in a private garden in Broadstone (north of Poole Harbour in Dorset) since Jan 28 was still there on Mar 5.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Brimstone: A mass emergence on Mar 5 brought reports from 17 different sites including a total of around 22 seen on Portsdown. Late news also arrived of a sighting at West Wellow near Romsey on Feb 18 and another at Newtown on the Isle of Wight on Feb 19.

Small White: A single insect seen at Winchester on Mar 5 (but there had been a report from Christchurch in Dorset of one 'fresly emerged from compost' on Jan 9 - I suspect that the compost heated up and gave the insect a wrong expression of the outside temperature!).

Red Admiral: Singles were seen in the Fleet area on Mar 4 and on Portsdown Hill on Mar 5 (as the Hampshire Butterfly Site had not been updated for a long time there was also late news of eight other sightings between Feb 14 and 18).

Small Tortoiseshell: One seen at Rye Harbour on Mar 3, three sightings on Mar 5 (Folkestone, East Sussex and West Sussex) plus two on Mar 6 (north Kent and Folkestone) plus late news on the Hampshire site of five sightings between Feb Feb 16 and 19.

Comma: Ten reports this week, seven of them on Mar 5 plus one late report of one in the Fleet area on Feb 19.

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

In addition to the normal list of moth sightings given below with links to the websites giving background info about those species here is a list of what I believe to be 'First of the Year' reports

281 (Clouded Slender), Caloptilia populetorum out in Dorset on Mar 6

663 (March Tubic), Diurnea fagella out in Dorset on Mar 6

688 (Common Flat-body), Agonopterix heracliana out in Dorset on Mar 1

1025 (Winter Shade), Tortricodes alternella out in Kent on Mar 2

1054 (Tufted Button), Acleris cristana out in Kent on Mar 6

1659 Yellow Horned, Achlya flavicornis out in Dorset on Mar 6

1663 March Moth, Alsophila aescularia out in Sussex on Mar 5

1905 Horse Chestnut, Pachycnemia hippocastanaria out in Dorset on Mar 6

1925 Small Brindled Beauty, Apocheima hispidaria out in Hampshire on Mar 1

2179 Pine Beauty, Panolis flammea out in Hampshire on Mar 1

2182 Small Quaker, Orthosia cruda out in Dorset on Mar 6

2187 Common Quaker, Orthosia cerasi out in Dorset on Mar 5

2237 Grey Shoulder-knot, Lithophane ornitopus out in Dorset on Mar 6

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

0281 (Clouded Slender), Caloptilia populetorum found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2327

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0281.php

0663 (March Tubic), Diurnea fagella found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1945

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0663.php

0688 (Common Flat-body), Agonopterix heracliana found in Dorset on MAR 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=755

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0688.php

1025 (Winter Shade), Tortricodes alternella found in Kent on MAR 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6172

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1025.php

1044 (Rusty Oak Button), Acleris ferrugana found in Dorset on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=4972

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1044.php

1054 (Tufted Button), Acleris cristana found in Dorset on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6435

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1054.php

1497 (Beautiful Plume), Amblyptilia acanthadactyla found in Kent on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6337

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1497.php

1659 Yellow Horned Achlya flavicornis found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5117

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1659.php

1663 March Moth Alsophila aescularia found in Kent on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1873

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1663.php

1760 Red-green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata found in Dorset on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=4948

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1760.php

1862 Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=123

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1862.php

1905 Horse Chestnut Pachycnemia hippocastanaria found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=764

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1905.php

1925 Small Brindled Beauty Apocheima hispidaria found in Hampshire on MAR 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=879

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1925.php

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Dorset on MAR 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

1930 Oak Beauty Biston strataria found in Kent on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2639

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1930.php

1934 Dotted Border Agriopis marginaria found in Dorset on MAR 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3940

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1934.php

1960 Early Moth Theria primaria found in Dorset on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6078

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1960.php

2179 Pine Beauty Panolis flammea found in Hampshire on MAR 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5756

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2179.php

2182 Small Quaker Orthosia cruda found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=347

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2182.php

2187 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi found in Dorset on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3947

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2187.php

2190 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica found in Dorset on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2001

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2190.php

2237 Grey Shoulder-knot Lithophane ornitopus found in Dorset on MAR 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5016

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2237.php

2243 Early Grey Xylocampa areola found in Kent on MAR 08 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6184

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2243.php

2256 The Satellite Eupsilia transversa found in Kent on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1797

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2256.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Kent on MAR 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

Other Insects

Caddisfly: One at Durlston on Mar 6 - came to moth light

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris): Mar 4 brought active specimens to two different gardens in Esmworth

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common Yew: Yielding dense clouds of pollen when touched in Havant cemetery on Mar 6

Marsh Marigold: First of the normal spring flowers at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Mar 6

Shepherd's Purse: I have not seen this very common species flowering since Jan 30 until Mar 8

Early Dog Violet: Mass flowering in Havant Cemetery had started on Mar 6

Grey Poplar: An old and traditionally early flowering tree in Wade Court Road (Havant) had started unfurling its catkins on Mar 4

Ivy Leaved Speedwell: Although I had found flower buds as early as Feb 2 these remained unopen buds until Mar 6 when I came on plants in full flower in Havant and I see they had also started to flower properly in Emsworth on Mar 8.

Coltsfoot: The Havant Wildlife group found the first flowers for my local area on Mar 2 at the Chichester Lakes and I found my first beside the Hayling Coastal Path on Mar 5 (The first I know of were flowering on the shore of Rye Bay on Feb 16)

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Bats: On Mar 5 Nik Knight walked the external circuit of the Langstone Wade Court area at dusk and encountered at least three species - the two common species of Pipistrelle and one of the Myotis group (as he heard it at Langstone Pond it was probably a Daubenton's (Myotis daubentoni). I think he must have been carrying his bat detector to distinguish the Sporano (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) from the Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) as the only difference you can use to distinguish the two species in flight is the frequency on which they emit their calls. I see that it was not until 1999 that the experts agreed that they were two different species but if you want to know more about them go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soprano_pipistrelle or to http://www.arkive.org/pipistrelle-bats/pipistrellus-pipistrellus-and-pipistrellus-pygmaeus/. Nik was less certain about the identity of the Myotis species of which five are found in the UK - Natterer's bat (Myotis nattereri); Mouse eared bat (Myotis myotis); Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteini); Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus) as well as Daubenton's which I think is the most likely though the rare Bechstein's has been found in the Havant area near the Southleigh Forest (see http://www.arkive.org/bechsteins-bat/myotis-bechsteinii/ which has a very photogenic look for a part in a film like The Lord of the Rings. A more likely alternative to Daubenton's would be the Natterer's Bat which you can learn about at http://www.arkive.org/natterers-bat/myotis-nattereri/. In checking the possible Myotis species I discovered that there is another rare species called the Pond Bat (Myotis dasycneme)which is a very rare vagrant from the near continent and in investigating this I opened up a list of 'other British Bats' which I had never heard of at http://www.jwaller.co.uk/batgroup/other_british_bats.asp which includes another Pipistrelle species (Kuhl's) and the Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) which is thought to have travelled here from North America on a ship.

Common Frog: Three more reports of 'first spawn' from Farlington Marshes on Mar 2, from Folkestone on Mar 5 and from Reculver in north Kent on Mar 7. A different sort of report comes from Cornwall on Mar 5 from a birder who installed a camera trap to catch night-time visitors to his garden pond and discovered a Tawny Owl coming to catch Frogs.

Newts: After last week's warning that Blackbirds will catch and eat Newts this week the Portland bird news has photos of both Heron (not unexpected) and Song Thrush with Newts. For the latter go to http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm and scroll down to the photos in the diary entry for Mar 8.

Deer: Deer culling has been in the news this week and putting 'Deer Cull' into Google will bring you an avalance of view points from the 'cuddly animal lovers' who have not had their health severely impaired by Lyme disease or their garden Roses devoured by animals who cannot find food out in the countryside because it has all been eaten by other deer, through the 'I'll lose my job' fear from Gamekeepers, and the 'Deer are responsible for the decline in Nightingale numbers' from ornithologists to the 'Venison is vital to feed the growing human population'. My personal view is that where any species has no natural predators it's population will grow to a point where it not only runs out of food and habitat but it severely impinges on the food and habitat of other species which share its ecological needs and so controlled and humane culling by humans is vital in the interests of all species dependent on the environment in which we live. I only wish that the human population could be managed in a more scientific way than by leaving it to disease and asteroid strikes - what we need is an intelligent 'god' to manage our planet as if it was his prized garden and not just a miniscule speck in his vast cosmos (but that would mean taking a view that 'our species' and 'our planet' are to be favoured above others). Just one thing that I have learnt from all this is that Lyme disease is named for Lyme, Connecticut, a town where, in 1975, scientists discovered that an outbreak of juvenile arthritis cases was actually caused by a tick-borne infection.

Deer culling is by no means new and has been practiced in the UK for many years and if you have 20 to spare go to http://www.bds.org.uk/product603.html to purchase a book called 'Deer Management in the UK' promoted by the British Deer Society

ENDWEEK

(Back to Start of Week)


Wildlife diary and news for Feb 25 - Mar 3 (Week 09 of 2013)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: No large numbers this week (max 79 Red-throated east off Hastings) but one Black-throated in a group of more than 15 at Portscatho in Cornwall on Feb 28 was said to be in near to full summer plumage. On Feb 23 the Pacific Diver was seen again.

Grebes: The Pied-billed Grebe which arrived at Ham Wall in Somerset on Feb 16 was still there on Feb 28 and there were still 42 Great Crested in Southampton Water off Weston on Mar 1. Single Red-necked were seen during the week off Dungeness, passing Worthing, in Portland Harbour, at Portscatho (near Falmouth in Cornwall), and two at The Hague in the Netherlands. Slavonian were seen at eight sites from West Sussex to the Scillies with a max count of 8 in Portland Harbour (and four in the LangstoneHarbour/Haylng Bay area). Langstone Harbour also had up to 19 Black-necked but the peaks were 29 in Portland Harbour and 25 in Carrick Roads at Falmouth.

Bittern: Still present at 7 sites.

Great White Egret: Still at least two at Dungeness with others at Rye Harbour and Folkestone.

Glossy Ibis: Still being seen daily up to Mar 2 at Warblington between Havant and Emsworth) where it first appeared on Feb 23

Spoonbill: Still up to 13 in Poole Harbour with just two other singles in Hampshire (mouth of Beaulieu River) and Cornwall (Wadebridge).

Mute Swan: Now getting close to nesting with prolonged aggression seen at an Emsworth nest site on Mar 1

Bewick's Swan: A report of 806 at a Netherlands site on Feb 18 suggested a mass exodus from winter sites but there were still 263 to be seen in the Netherlands on Mar 2

Geese: Our winter visitor species are all showing signs of gathering at Netherlands sites prior to departure. Totals have been 1369 Tundra Bean Geese on Mar 2, 10026 Whitefronts on Mar 1, and 11435 Barnacles on Feb 28.

Red-breasted Goose: I see that the lack of reports of the bird on Thorney Island between Feb 2 and 24 was because Barry Collins was enjoying a holiday in Spain. For the latest sighting and pictures by Richard Fairbank on Mar 2 see http://birdingneversleeps.blogspot.co.uk/

Green Winged Teal: On Feb 26 Marc Mooody is said to have seen one on the Fishtail Lagoon at Pennington (Lymington) and this bird may have flown to Poole Harbour where one was seen on Mar 1. In Cornwall the bird which had been seen for some time at Torpoint was there again on Mar 27

Garganey: A secondhand report of a male at Weir Wood reservoir on Feb 16 is the only tenuous hint that these migrants have started to arrive.

Ferruginous Duck: One was reported at the Blashford lakes near Ringwood in Hampshire on Feb 24 but seems to have flown on to Somerset where one was reported at the Ham Wall site on Feb 2

Scaup: The long staying group of 9 at the Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset was still present on Mar 1 with a tenth hybrid bird which arrived there on Feb 25. Here in Havant the pair which arrived on the Budds Farm pools on Feb 16 (after the two birds at the nearby Oysterbeds ceased to be reported after Feb 7) was still to be seen on Mar 1.

Smew: One was still on the Longham Lakes at Bournemouth on Mar 1 and the two drakes at the Roadford Reservoir (west of Dartmoor) were still seen on Mar 2

Osprey: The year's first report of a returning bird is of one flying north over St Buryan on the road from Penzance to Lands End in Cornwall on Feb 27. More exciting but less certain is the possibility that a pair have returned to Thorney Island and taken up residence in the man made nest on one of the old aircraft landing light poles at the Thornham Marshes - see Richard Fairbank's blog at http://birdingneversleeps.blogspot.co.uk/ in which Richard includes a photo (see http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_siTWLaD2WQ/UTJiB3eZekI/AAAAAAAAJpk/zsFqt7Io6Ak/s400/Thorney+P3020085.JPG ) with the caption "Thorney beats Weir Wood to the first Sussex Osprey for 2013". The photo seems to show a pair of Osprey snuggling together in the nest but they could be dummies put there with the intention of catching the eye of a passing real Osprey (but would that not be self-defeating, causing the real Osprey to think the site was already occupied and so pass on - and if it did fly down to claim the nest what would if do with the dummies?

Golden Eagle: In Jan 2011 I read of a Golden Eagle apparently living wild in the area of Ashburnham Place (not far west of Battle in the Hastings area) which had apparely been there for up to three years. In Feb and Mar of that year there were several sightings of a 'wide ranging Golden Eagle' in Cornwall. In July 2011 came another sighting of a Golden Eagle flying alongside a microlight aircraft over Paddock Wood in Kent. Now, on Feb 25 2013, a Golden Eagle is reported to have been seen to take off from an Oak tree on farm land at Newick near Haywards Heath and this report has the added comment that the same bird had been seen on the same tree for two days last summer.

Water Rail: The two most common reasons why Water Rails are seen out in the open are (1) hard frost, making it impossible to find food within the hidden areas that the Rail is familiar with and (2) unfamiliarity with the local habitat, nearly always meaning that the bird has flown into the area overnight and has not yet found where it can find food without showing itself in the open - an overnight flight also means that (a) the bird is more hungry than usual and (b) it has forfeited the chance to hunt for food and explore the area under cover of darkness (there is a third reason which was demonstrated at Pulborough Brooks last year when one of the wardens 'trained' one of the rails to appear regularly in the open on grass outside the visitor centre window by laying a trail of food for it to the desired view point). Currently there is no hard frost but we are in the period during which the Rails are moving back from winter quarters to breeding sites so most of the birds being seen have probably flown in there overnight and are eager to find food regardless of possible danger from exposing themselves. On Mar 2 when Richard Fairbank was at Warblington watching the Ibis he also saw two Water Rails and a Fox out in the open while there have been up to three Rails seen at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth plus several sightings at Brook Meadow in Emsworth.

Woodcock: The first report to state that it was of a bird 'roding' came on Feb 26 from Cadman's Pool near Fritham in the New Forest

Common Gull: Last week I said that I thought the majority of out winter visitors had already left but news of 70 still at Durlston on Mar 1 shows that we have not seen the last of them.

Lesser Blackback Gull: Spring passage brought more than 25 to the Exe estuary in Devon on Feb 27, 12 to Pett Level (Rye Bay) on Mar 1, and even one of the Baltic (fuscus) race with its smart black wings and yellow legs to Emsworth on Mar 1

Great Blackback: On Feb 22 a pair were back at the nest site they used last year on the raft in the Emsworth Slipper Mill Pond but they have not yet settled in there

White Wagtail: The first for this year was seen in the Scillies on Feb 24 and the first migrant 'alba wagtail' (assumed to be a continental white bird) arrived at Portland from the south on Mar 1

Waxwing: Still being seen at 11 sites this week with a peak of 39 at the Romsey Mercer's Way site and two birds seen flying north from south Hayling on Mar 2

Black Redstart: Following the first report of spring song from Cornwall on Feb 12 another was singing at Seaford in Sussex on Feb 21

Stonechat: The first sign of spring passage was reported by Portland on Feb 28 when 9 birds arrived there

Ring Ouzel: These do sometimes overwinter and there were late sightings in the Scillies and at The Lizard in Cornwall on Nov 18 last year but the species has not been mentioned since then until Feb 23 when a male was seen at St Ives in north Cornwall so I assume that is the first spring migrant arrival.

Blackbird: Song was heard at Durlston on Jan 15 and in Emsworth on Jan 17, then again at Durlston on Feb 3. More recently song was heard in both Emsworth and Havant on Feb 25 and again at Emsworth on Feb 28.

Fieldfare: Mar 1 brought a surge of reports with 600 in the Kent Stour Valley and more than 200 both on the Sussex Downs (Ditchling Beacon) and in the Pagham area with another 50 at Farley Mount near Winchester.

Redwing: Also six widespread reports of these on Mar 1 with 65 at Rye Harbour on Mar 2

Lesser Whitethroat: One was seen in a Worthing garden on Feb 16, staying around to at least Feb 23 - I suspect this had overwintered here rather than being an early migrant. The 'earliest ever' date for migrants giving in the Sussex Bird Report is Apr 4.

Blackcap: Overwintering birds are now starting to sing strongly - one at Fawley in the New Forest sang continuously for 20 minutes on Feb 28 (others have been heard intermittently since Jan 26)

Chiffchaff: There have now been three reports mentioning song since Feb 9

Firecrest: Just one report of song so far - at the Lower Test reserve on Feb 28

Long-tailed Tit: One seen at Emsworth on Mar 1 collecting lichen for the outer camouflage of its nest implying that the nest was more or less complete

Tree Creeper: First report of song for the year comes from the Kent Stour Valley on Feb 2

Penduline Tit: The single female that has been in the Kent Stour Valley since Jan 5 was still present on Mar 1

Great Grey Shrike: The only two birds that have been regularly reported this winter (other than a one day appearance on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall on Jan 12) have been in the Bishops Dyke to Denny Wood area of the New Forest and the Wyke Down/Sixpenny Handley area of Dorset and both were still present on Mar 1

Raven: Following up a report on Feb 9 by Richard Jones (Portsmouth City's warden for Portsdown Hill) of a pair of Ravens taking an interest in the Paulsgrove Chalkpit area, and later of them nestbuilding, I visited the area on Feb 28 and found one bird sitting on a nest built on the topmost arm of an electricity pylon standing at the eastern end of the base of the pit (with the nest at eyelevel to an observer on the hill at the top of the pit) and a second bird keeping a watchful eye on the nest from a perch on the cliff face where it could be seen at no more than 20 metres from the observer on the cliff top public path.

Tree Sparrow: Despite a steep decline in their numbers in southern England they have by no means become extinct here. During 2012 I recorded 22 reports from Kent including counts of betwen 20 and 60 birds at Dungeness between Aug 26 and Sep 4 (indicating a substantial inflow from the continent at the end of the breeding season?) and 15 sightings from Reculver on the north coast, Sandwich Bay, Folkestone and Dungeness in the Sep to Feb period. In East Sussex small numbers came to feeders in the Pevensey Levels and north of the Downs near Edburton with up to 15 seen on the Pevensey Levels in Sep. In Nov 8 were seen on the Walland Marsh near Rye and a flock of around 20 were at the Arlington Reservoir northwest of Beachy Head. Dorset had a peak count of 3 flying over Durlston and singles were seen at Durlston and Portland. Just one was a regular at a south Devon birdtable in Nov and in Hampshire a single bird was seen at Barton on sea on Oct 12.

Yellowhammer: First song was heard at Pulborough Brooks on Mar 1

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Small Tortoiseshell: Not one but two seen in Sussex - a late report from Eastbourne on Feb 17 (when another had been previously reported at Seaford) and the second from an undisclosed site on Feb 20

Peacock: A freshly emerged insect at Plaistow near Horsham on Feb 27

Speckled Wood: A sighting (with photograph) of one at High Salvington in Worthing on Feb 23

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

0648 White-shouldered House-moth Endrosis sarcitrella found in Kent on MAR 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1865

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0648.php

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Dorset on FEB 18 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

1930 Oak Beauty Biston strataria found in Dorset on FEB 19 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2639

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1930.php

1932 Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia found in Kent on FEB 28 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5099

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1932.php

1934 Dotted Border Agriopis marginaria found in Dorset on FEB 16 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3940

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1934.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Kent on MAR 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

2259 Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula found in Kent on FEB 28 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1112

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2259.php

Other Insects

Nothing to report this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Sweet Violets: This report is not of the normal flowers which can be seen in many places but of the first sighting of the unusual 'pink flowered' plants growing at the west end of Nore Barn Wood on the Emsworth shore. Until recently three colour tones could be found here - the normal violet, a pure pink and an intermediate form but the pure pink flowers have been diminishing and may not appear this year (choked out by Ivy!). The colour of the intermediate form can be seen in Brian Fellows photo taken on Feb 28 - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x844-sweet-violet-pink-nbw-28.02.13.jpg

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: On Mar 1 the Durlston dairy said .. "Keep an eye out for Dolphins as March is usually a very good month to spot them, and yesterday over 100 (reported as Bottlenosed) were seen off of Portland!" .. I would like more evidence for the reported 'over 100' as the Portland website goes no further than to say that around 15 were seen on Feb 27 and that the same group were back on Feb 28, and my records for last year have none with a count greater than 35 (perhaps this is a typo on the Durlston website as must be the ungrammatical use of 'off of'!

Smooth Newt: On Feb 22 Laurence Holloway noted at least 4 Smooth Newts in his Bognor Regis area garden pond and went on to say that he hoped they would take care to remain hidden during daylight hours as Blackbirds would take them if they spotted them (I had never before heard of Blackbirds catching Newts)

Stickleback: Mergansers catch and consume lots of small fish but this week Barry Yates at Rye Harbour shows that one Merganser met its match in a Three-spined Stickleback whose spines saved its life, causing the Merganser to 'cough it up' when the spines hit a sensitive spot in the Mergansers 'mouth'. See http://www.rxwildlife.info/sightings/2013/2/27/sawbill.html for a photo. This must be a common problem and we have all seen how adept Kingfishers are in subduing their prey and then positioning it to prevent Stickleback spines from snagging their throats so perhaps this was an inexperienced Merganser.

ENDWEEK

(Back to Start of Week)


Wildlife diary and news for Feb 18 - 24 (Week 08 of 2013)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: This week has brought a second surge of wildfowl heading east up the English Channel including 55 Red-throated past Seaford on Feb 18, 20+ past Hastings on Feb 19 and 10 past Folkestone on Feb 20. No other Divers were noted heading east but the Pacific Diver was seen again at Penzance on Feb 22, the White-billed Diver was in the Orkneys and at least one Great Northern was near the mouth of Langstone Harbour on Feb 18 with six of them in Portland Harbour on Feb 16

Grebes: Most unexpected news was of a Pied-billed Grebe at Ham Wall in Somerset on Feb 16. On Feb 19 there were still 310 Great Crested off Sandwich and 160+ in Rye Bay off Pett while on Feb 17 there were two Red-necked off Torquay in Devon and three at Texel in the Netherlands. Portland Harbour still had 8 Slavonian on Feb 16 with 1 in Southampton Water on Feb 17 and 2 at Lymington on Feb 18, while one was in Rye Bay on Feb 20 (maybe heading east). On Feb 16 the Hayling Oysterbeds area had 21 Black-necked and Portland Harbour had 20, at the Blashford Lakes 2 were still present on Feb 18.

Bittern: On Feb 18 one spent over four hours 'showing well' just behind the reserve building at Farlington Marshes, presumably a newcomer there (it was seen again on Feb 20) and on Feb 18 one was seen at the West Trout Lake in the Chichester pits and there were other reports from five more sites during the week.

White Stork: The first reports of these for the year came France on Feb 17 when 15 were seen, presumably the first returning to nest in northern Europe, with singles in Belgium on Feb 18 and the Netherlands on Feb 19

Glossy Ibis: On Feb 2 last year RBA was reporting 30 of these in the UK, 23 of them together in Pembrokeshire but this year only one is currently known to RBA - a single in Pembrokeshire. The long staying bird at Bickerly Common near Ringwood was there from 2 Dec 2012 to 15 Jan 2013, being seen at Christchurch Harbour on Jan 16 but thereafter vanishing to leave none being reported in southern England until Feb 18 when one was seen by Trevor Carter at the Pagham Harbour Breech Pool (though it seems none of the regular Sussex birders saw it as it never appeared on the SOS News). Then on Feb 23 members of the Havant Wildlife Group chanced to find one in a field of the Warblington Farm between Havant and Emsworth (Field L on my map of the farm - see http://ralph-hollins.net/warblington.htm - which is at SU 731 054) where it was still showing and apparently finding food on Feb 24.

Bewicks Swan: Three were still at Harbridge near Ringwood on Feb 17 and two at Longham Lakes at Bournemouth on Feb 21 but a couple of reports from the Netherlands on Feb 18, one with a count of 806 birds, suggests that they are now starting to return north

Whooper Swan: I think these too are gathering before heading north. On Feb 17 a herd of 68 were seen in the Sheffield area and over in the Netherlands a total of 97 were in the 'remarkable' category on the Trektellen website.

Whitefront Goose: Another sign of wildfowl gathering prior to heading north was a count of 8850 of these at a Netherlands site on Feb 17.

Canada Goose: At Budds Farm Pools in Havant on Feb 19 two Canada Geese and two Mute Swans were newly back to claim their nest sites.

Red-breasted Goose: More than a fortnight after the Farlington/Thorney Island bird was last seen at Thorney on Feb 2 one was on the mud off Langstone village but there have been no other reports this week.

Shelduck: Birds that come to us from the continent in order to survive the winter are now heading back east (6 past Dungeness on Feb 20 and 21 past Rye Harbour on Feb 21) - others will stay to nest here before heading east for their summer moult.

Scaup: A pair were on Budds Farm pools in Havant from Feb 16 to 20 and on Feb 20 there was also an Aythya hybrid there which expert opinion decided was not the 'Fudge Duck' which had been turning up there each winter from 1999 to 2001/12.

Smew: Still present this week were two males at the Roadford Reservoir on the western edge of Dartmoor (last seen Feb 19), one male with two females at the Dungeness RSPB reserve at Dungeness on Feb 17, one redhead at the Bournemouth Longham Lakes up to Feb 21 and one redhead (possibly heading east from Longham) at the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough in Sussex seen on Feb 20.

White-tailed Sea Eagle: One seen in the Netherlands on Feb 17 may have drifted west to be seen high in a thermal over Rye town on Feb 19 (the report was actually of two young birds over Rye) but there have been no further sightings in England.

Water Rail: Sightings of up to 5 at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth and 2 at Brook Meadow in Emsworth this week may be indications that these are starting to feel restless and are already heading back to continental breeding sites but it seems early for their normal passage which usually occurs at the end of March and it may be that these sightings are the result of increased hunger felt by the birds and less cover to hide them after the battering of winter winds and rain.

Common Crane: Some of these have been present through the winter but the presence of 2886 birds in the Netherlands on Feb 18 seems to indicate the return of a large number of them from winter quarter.

Avocet: Last week I suggested that these were starting to move back from winter quarters and this week this is supported by a comment from Folkestone saying that a single Avocet among a mixed bag of species heading east there on Feb 20 was the first to be seen there in February, indicating that spring passage is starting earlier this year.

Med Gull: These started to return to south coast breeding areas last week from Feb 15 and numbers have continued to increase this week with at least 22 in Langstone Harbour on Feb 18 and a similar number at Pagham on Feb 22 when there were also 17 at the Blashford Lakes (though they are unlikely to nest there)

Common Gull: My impression is that the majority of these have now left southern coasts and reports of 49 seen inland at the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Feb 20 and of 1650 passing over Gloucestershire on Feb 21 tend to confirm their movement.

Sandwich Tern: It is always difficult to pick out new arrivals from birds which have wintered here but I regard the arrival of 5 at Rye Harbour (where there had been no wintering birds) on Feb 16 as the start of migrant arrivals and this week one seen at Exmouth in Devon was considered to be a new arrrival while at Dungeness one seen on Feb 19 was said to be their first of the spring and it was followed by 3 more heading east on Feb 20.

Turtle Dove: The bird wintering in north Cornwall was seen again in Feb 20.

Short-eared Owl: Up to 3 were seen hunting the Hayling Island Golf Course on at least a couple of evenings this week.

Water Pipit: The number of reports continues to increase and on Feb 17 a flock of more than 20 was reported in the Kent Stour valley east of Canterbury after a more usual number (just 1) had been at Farlington Marshes on Feb 16.

Waxwing: Biggest flock this week was of 44 in Devon (at Heathfield on the A38 just inland from Paignton) followed by 29 in Romsey on Feb 16 and 26 at Durrington near Worthing on Feb 19 and 20.

Black Redstart: After the report of one in song at Camborne in Cornwall on Feb 12 another was heard at Seaford in Sussex on Feb 21.

Fieldfare: Only two reports this week with 'many' on the Sussex downs south of Pulborough on Feb 19 and just 2 (with 10 Redwing) at Weir Wood in East Sussex on Feb 20.

Blackcap: One had been heard singing at Chandlers Ford near Eastleigh on Jan 26 but it was not until Feb 16 when another was heard singing at Portland.

Pallas' Warbler: The bird at Eversley on the Hants/Berks border near Fleet was still present on Feb 20.

Chiffchaff: As with Sandwich Terns it is difficult to pick out lone early arrivals from the wintering birds already here but on Feb 19 the Christchurch Harbour (CHOG) website suggested that one seen there that day in a wood where no wintering birds had been seen could have been a migrant.

Great Grey Shrike: On Feb 21 the RBA site reported a UK total of just 3 birds and two of them are in our area - one is at Wyke Down in the north east corner of Dorset near Martin Down and the other in the Beauliu Road station area of the New Forest and this latter bird was in the news this weeek for being heard 'singing' on Feb 22.

Chough: Two birds (hopefully a pair) were on the Lizard in Cornwall on Feb 17. I think there has been an unsuccessful attempt to re-introduce them to the county in recent years but alongside that I think there has been a successful natural return of a few birds to Cornwall and last year these had 5 nests producing 18 fledged young.

Raven: Two were seen near Plymouth carrying nest material on Feb 16 and on Feb 18 (following news on Feb 9 of a pair taking an interest in the Paulsgrove Chalk pit cliffs on Portsdown) a pair were nestbuilding on an electricity pylon above the chalk pit.

Siskin: The usual February flood of these passing north has brought reports of them on garden feeders.

Twite: Also heading north were Twite that are usually much less numerous than the Siskin but I see that on Feb 16 a flock of 14 were seen in Yorkshire and on Feb 17 a flock of 25 was in the Netherlands.

Hawfinch: Also more numerous than usual this winter there were 27 in the West Dean Woods north of Chichester on Feb 19 with 25 at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey on Feb 20.

Yellowhammer: At least 55 were seen at Toyd Down near Martin (west of Fordingbridge) on Feb 18 and on Feb 21 there were 80 at Compton in Dorset.

Corn Bunting: Also at Toyd Down on Feb 18 were 50 Corn Bunting

Vagrants: Unusual birds seen in the far north this week were a Pine Grosbeak in Shetland on Feb 15 and a super smart male Harlequin Duck on North Uist in the Hebrides on Feb 18 - see http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=027127 to see what it looks like and for the origin of its scientific name see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin_Duck.

Escapees: A couple of smart birds seen on the R Exe in Exeter (regulars at the site) were Swan Geese which can be seen at http://www.devonbirds.org/images/cache/abd814096d99603c97f3a537d0d06fb1.jpg

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Red Admiral: Seen at six sites this week from Bexhill at Hastings west to Durlston in Dorset. In Emsworth one was found floating in a bucket of water but flew off after being rescued and having a night's rest in a warm dry house.

Small Tortoiseshell: Two were active at different sites in East Sussex on Feb 15 and 17

Peacock: Individuals active at Durlston, Bognor, Shoreham and Alciston near Eastbourne

Comma: Just one seen on Feb 17 in Brede High Wood north of Hastings.

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Declining moth numbers: For a worrying report on the diminishing number of moths see http://butterfly-conservation.org/1776/the-state-of-britains-moths.html

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Kent on FEB 16 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Kent on FEB 16 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

2259 Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula found in Kent on FEB 20 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1112

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2259.php

Other Insects

Snail eating Beetle (Licinus punctulatus): With other insects than butterflies and moths now resuming activity Chris Bentley at Rye Harbour was pleased to find an uncommon and impressive ground beetle on Feb 18 - read his account at http://www.rxwildlife.info/sightings/2013/2/18/happy-days-are-here-again.html

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Mosses: Graeme Lyons latest blog entry for Feb 19 describes the species he found that day on the Sussex Downs at Ditchling Beacon - see http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/dubius-records.html - these 'new to him' species bring his all species life list to 4178 species.

DEFRA bans commercial trade in some invasive plants: I am pretty sure that we will all have come across one or more alien species clogging our waterways and DEFRA has at long last banned trade in five species. Read all about it in an entry dated Feb 19 by Brian Banks on the RX Website - see http://www.rxwildlife.info/sightings/2013/2/19/closing-the-stable-door-after-the-horse-has-bolted.html

English Elm: On Feb 19 the first flowers of the year were out on trees (already crippled by Dutch Elm disease)overhanging the Langbrook stream where the footbridge takes you from Mill Lane at Langstone onto the South Moors area.

Dogs Mercury: The first newly flowering plants of this year (following those which appeared unseasonably last November) were seen on Feb 14 beside the Southleigh Road from Havant to Emsworth just east of the East Leigh Road junction.

Intermediate Periwinkle: Both Greater and Lesser Periwinkle have already started flowering and for anyone who makes the same mistake that I did and believes that the Greater Periwinkle var Oxyloba is Intermediate have a look at my diary entry at http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm#1902 and scroll down to my photos of a garden cultivar of the Intermediate Periwinkle which has petals similar to Vinca major var Oxyloba but in a distinct pale (almost white) colour

Lungwort: This frequent garden escape was first seen flowering this year by Brian Fellows in Emsworth on Feb 11 but I did not come across it in Havant until Feb 19

Butterbur species and genders: The normal male Butterbur plants in Brook Meadow at Emsworth started to flower on Feb 14 and these were followed by the Giant Butterbur plants beside the Langbrook stream at Langstone on Feb 19 when the unusual female Butterbur plants at the same site were only just starting to push up their stems after being under water for some time.

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Frog: The first two reports of spawn came on Feb 4 from Waterlooville and Fareham with no further news until Feb 16 when there was 'lots of spawn' at Longdown on the eastern edge of the New Forest just off the main Southampton to Lyndhurst road. Only one report since then of a single clump at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Feb 21.

Lumpsucker Fish (Cyclopterus lumpus): On Feb 20 the Rye Bay website had an entry about an unusual Lumpsucker fish (whose Roe is a Caviar substiute) seen on a Fisherman's stall at Hastings (see http://www.rxwildlife.info/sightings/2013/2/20/rock-a-nore-birds-and-fish.html) and you can see other species of Lumpsucker at http://www.uk-fish.info/pages/lumpsucker.html by scrolling down to the end of page

ENDWEEK

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Wildlife diary and news for Feb 11 - 17 (Week 07 of 2013)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Red-throated are maybe feeling the call of spring with several reports of them moving east 'up channel' (max 21 past Seaford on Feb 16). Two Black-throated were also in the eastward movement past Seaford but a substantial group of 15 were still off Portscatho (near Falmouth) in south Cornwall on Feb 10. The biggest group of Great Northern (just 10) were on the north Cornwall coast at Carbis Bay (near St Ives) on Feb 11. Also in Conwall the Pacific Diver (see http://twearth.com/species/pacific-loon and http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?print=1&a=1693 ) was still being reported off Penzance this week. Also still with us was the White-billed Diver (maybe two of them) in the Orkneys

Grebes: The winter flock of Great Crested off Dungeness and in Rye Bay since Jan 1 has increased from 1260 on Jan 1 to 2400 on Feb 15 but the only raft currently reported in Hampshire was of just 44 at Weston Shore in Southampton Water. Single Red-necked were seen at Selsey Bill on Jan 12 and in Portland Harbour on Feb 14 with more regular sightings off Paignton in Devon (photo of that bird at http://www.devonbirds.org/images/cache/f402fa8433cd4caa56afca282c00ebf9.jpg) Biggest count of Slavonian was 17 in Portland Harbour on Feb 14 with 10 on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Feb 9 and 3 in Langstone Harbour on Feb 16 when 2 were off the Lymington shore. On Feb 10 Studland Bay had 52 Black-necked followed by 30 at Falmouth where one was already in summer plumage by Feb 14. In Hampshire 21 were off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Feb 16 and 2 remained at the Blashford Lakes up to Feb 14 at least

Sooty Shearwater: The first on the English south coast this year was off Portland on Feb 14

Cattle Egret: Singles have been seen in the Somerset Levels (where they bred last year) and in Northumberland in January but the only other report is a so far annonymous report on RBA of one somewhere in Kent on Feb 14

Barnacle Goose: On Feb 16 Trektellen reported a flock of 2852 at a Netherlands site in its 'remarkable' list and on the same day a flock of 60 appeared in Southampton Water before flying up the River Itchen. On Feb 17 this flock (variously counted as 60 or 55) flew around the Warsash and Titchfield areas. A distant photo of the flock can be seen at http://www.goingbirding.co.uk/hants/show_photo.asp?photo_id=3541 (clicking PHOTOS in the header bar will alow you to see - by clicking the thumbnail) an excellent shot of the Nore Barn (Emsworth) Spotted Redshank taken on Feb 16 and showing its developing summer plumage)

Brent Goose: The birds which have been wintering in the Langstone Harbour area now spend much of their days feeding up in fields away from the harbour shores (where the Eelgrass is probably now in short supply) so when I cycled down the Hayling Coastal Path on Feb 15 and found a substantial and noisy flock spread out along the tide line well before high tide I had the impression that these were passage birds unaware of which inland fields were safe grazing places - I also remarked to some people that I passed the 'the Brent are already talking in Russian' leaving them wondering about my sanity but expressing my feeling that the excited chatter was a signal that these were birds on the move.

Smew: Still at least 5 birds at five different sites in central southern England including a first winter male seen at Wellington Country Park near Fleet in north Hampshire on Feb 16

Kestrel: On Feb 9 one was seen at Rodmell near Lewes doing something that seems to be a regular ploy which hungry Kestrels use to get their food at second hand by stealing from Barn Owls (forced to hunt by day because they are equally hungry). The Kestrel waits until the Barn Owl gets airborne with its prey then flies at full tilt into the Barn Owl as it attempts to grab the prey from the Owl's talons - on this occasion the Kestrel was unsuccessful at the first attempt but got what it was after on a second attempt. Barn Owls will no doubt gradually learn to eat their meal on the ground (it is unlikely that the Owl had young to feed at this time of year though when prey is plentiful Barn Owls will have second of third broods).

Merlin: I have noticed an increasing number of sightings recently and I think many of these are of birds that have wintered further south and are now returning to northern breeding areas. That is almost certainly the case with one Merlin seen approaching Portland Bill from the sea on Feb 15 but then seen to be taken as prey by a pair of local Peregrines before it could reach land.

Oystercatcher: The unexpected appearance of one at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire was thought to show that birds which have been wintering on the south coast are starting to move north to their preferred breeding sites.

Ringed Plover: The appearance of a flock of 43 at Brighton Marina on Feb 16 was also thought to be an indication of passage as these were the first to be seen there this winter.

Avocet: These too could well now be moving east away from west country wintering sites. 5 were seen at Farlington Marshes on Feb 10 and 10 at Pagham Harbour on Feb 15

Knot: A similar passage movement was probably responsible for the appearance of at least 170 Knot on the mud of Chichester Harbour between Langstone and Emsworth on Feb 9

Ruff: Also probably on passage were a number of Ruff which were seen at Lymington, in the Hampshire Avon valley, in the Shoreham airport area beside the River Adur and at Pulborough Brooks in flocks of up to 14

Med Gull: The first 'mewing' calls were heard at Rye Harbour on Feb 15 and at Lymington on Feb 16 when one seen at Nore Barn (Emsworth) was in summer plumage. Also on Feb 16 four were seen at the Hayling Oyeterbeds while two more were flying east along the Sussex coast at Seaford

Black-headed Gull: This week has brought many of these gulls to the Hayling Oysterbeds to claim nest sites

Sandwich Tern: On Feb 16 Rye Harbour recorded the arrival of the first five presumed migrants (none have been wintering there).

Woodlark: The first song of the year had been heard somewhere in Sussex on Feb 4 but this week brought the first reports of song from two New Forest sites on Feb 15.

Skylark: Although a few birds have been singing sporadically for some time this week brought reports of general song at sites such as Martin Down in Hampshire.

Water Pipit: These will now be starting to show a pink flush on their breasts making it easier to identify them. This week 3 were at Christchurch Harbour on Feb 15, 2 on the Lymington shore on Feb 16 when 1 was also seen at Farlington Marshes.

Waxwing: Still being seen at 14 sites in the central south with 50 birds by the A38 inland of Paignton in Devon on Feb 15, 29 at Damerham near Fordingbrige on Feb 12 and at Romsey on Feb 16, 24 at Durrington near Worthing on Feb 13 with smaller numbers in Havant, Southsea, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastbourne and Westfield near Hastings.

Wren: On Feb 16 a Hampshire birder was watching a Woodpigeon that had perched on his garden wall when (like Miss Muffet and the spider) down came a Wren and perched on the back of the Woodpigeon. No re-action from the Pigeon even when the Wren started pecking at the back of the Pigeon's neck. Presumably the Wren was removing something like a parasite which the Pigeon could not get rid of on its own but that is just a wild guess - I wonder if we will ever know the truth?

Dunnock: Lots of wing-flicking and chasing around in my garden this week as the spring hormones get to work on this species.

Black Redstart: First report of song came on Feb 12 from Camborne in Cornwall.

Dartford Warbler: First song reported at Christchurch Harbour on Feb 7

Pallas Warbler: The bird at the Eversley gravel pits on the Hants Berks border which was first seen (and thought to be a Yellow Browed) on Jan 4 was still present on Feb 13.

Chiffchaff: Song heard at Reculver in Kent on Feb 9 and at Goring near Worthing in Feb 15.

Bearded Tit: Three showing well at the Long Pool in Pagham Harbour on Feb 15 and four were seen at Farlington Marshes on Feb 16.

Penduline Tit: A female was seen in the Kent Stour Valley on Feb 13, 14 and 16. See a photo of it at http://www.kentos.org.uk/Stodmarsh/images/Penduline_Tit_16-02-13_kos_sv.jpg

Great Grey Shrike: Still present in the New Forest near Beaulieu Road station on Feb 16

Jackdaw: Another oddity report date Feb 16 from Westfield near Hastings where a Jackdaw has been coming to a garden feeder to eat fatballs - see http://westfieldwildlife.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/jackdaw-2/

Raven: Richard Jones, the Portsdown Hill ranger reponsible to Portsmouth City for the wildlife on the hill, saw a pair of Ravens taking a close look at the inaccessible cliffs of the Paulsgrove Chalk Pit on Feb 9. Peregrines have nested here for some years but Ravens would be new.

Hawfinch: 30 were seen at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey on Jan 17 but that Hampshire record (??) has now been beaten with at least 35 there on Feb 16.

Snow Bunting: One has been seen this week at Goring near Worthing and one remains at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) with another nearby at West Bexington and one was at Dungeness on Feb 14 but that date brought a peak count of 20+ from Treen near Lands End in Cornwall. Across the water there was a flock of 136 in the Netherlands on Feb 13.

Lapland Bunting: The only place which seems to have these this winter is Treen in Cornwall where there were at least 6 on Feb 15

Yellowhammer: There have been very few of these around this winter but Feb 13 brought news of a flock of 200 from Toyd Down (very close to Martin Down on the Hants/Dorset/Wilts border) and on Feb 10 a flock of 40 was reported in a Bognor Regis garden.

Reed Bunting: First report of song comes on Feb 9 from the Warblington Farm between Langstone and Emsworth where one male and three females were present.

Corn Bunting: Also on Toyd Down with the 200 Yellowhammers on Feb 13 were 78 Corn Bunting

Escapes: A pretty pair of Cape Teal were at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Feb 13 and you can see them at http://www.kentos.org.uk/Reculver/images/capte0213b.jpg and http://www.kentos.org.uk/Reculver/images/capte0213a.jpg

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Species reported this week:

Brimstone: One flying at Graffham Down near Midhurst on Feb 13

Red Admiral: Sightings on Feb 15 and 16 from the Hayling Oysterbeds and Durslston respectivel

Peacock: Again two sightings - at Shoreham Airport on Feb 14 and at Durlston on Feb 1

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Dorset on FEB 14 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

1930 Oak Beauty Biston strataria found in Dorset on FEB 10 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2639

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1930.php

1935 Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria found in Dorset on FEB 12 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=212

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1935.php

1960 Early Moth Theria primaria found in Dorset on FEB 11 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6078

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1960.php

2190 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica found in Dorset on FEB 09 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2001

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2190.php

2259 Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula found in Dorset on FEB 09 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1112

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2259.php

Other Insects

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris): Brian Fellows watched one at work in the Emsworth area on Feb 14

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Polypody Fern: Of the three species found in Britain only the Common Polypody is able to thrive in the dry environment of the Sand Dunes on the Hayling Island shore near Gunner Point and I have long been aware of one place where they can be found but when I visited the area on Feb 15 and followed a slightly different route I found the ferns in two new places, apparently living on sand (though maybe there are other sources of nutrition hidden under the sand).

Danish Scurvygrass: I found flowers on a very few plants by the Petersfield Roadside in Havant on Feb 11 but before long I expect these flowers will spread until we have lengthy stretches of new 'white line' along the road edges both here and in the Park Road South area (plus many other places).

Mouse-ears: This week Brian Fellows has removed the sense of confusion that I expressed last week about the distinction between Common and Sticky Mouse-ear by finding that both do exist near the A27 underpass where the line of the old A27 road intersects that of the new A27. Both species are currently in flower there but I had only discovered the Common Mouse-ear.

Early Dog Violet: The first single flower had opened in the Havant cemetery by Feb 11 and seen there will be a broad carpet of the flowers at the east end of the area.

Blackthorn: On Feb 11 I found one young bush covered with unopen buds and on Feb 12 I found two others with their flowers already opening.

Spurge Laurel: Last week I reported that John Goodspeed had found this in flower on Feb 5 in Markwells Wood near Finchdean and on Feb 9 it was flowering on Portsdown.

Alder: This week Brian Fellows found both male and female catkins open on trees at Brook Meadow in Emsworth.

Dog's Mercury: I found fresh male plants in flower at Pook Lane in Warblington back on Nov 1 but had not seen any elsewhere until this week when new plants were flowering by the Southleigh Road between Havant and Emsworth on Feb 14.

Cow Parsley: Although the general flowering of this has not yet started I found two plants in full flower beside the Crossways road in Leigh Park on Feb 11

Wild Primrose: Many cultivated plants have been in flower through the winter but this week has brought what I consider to be self sown wild plants into flower, first in the south east corner of the Havant Cemetery on Feb 11 and then on Feb 12 in the shoreline copse beside the Hayling Coastal path just north of the large open West Lane fields on the other side of the path (with a few more alongside Daw Lane).

Lungwort: What was probably a garden escape was flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Feb 11

Coltsfoot: I have been keeping an eye out for this recently but the only flowering I am aware of was in the shingle of the Rye Bay shore near Pett where it was photographed by Cliff Dean - see http://rxbirdwalks.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/p1090205.jpg

Butterbur: Last week Brian Fellows told us that the sheathed flowerspikes of this were pushing up by the River Ems at Brook Meadow and when I was there on Feb 14 I found just one spike showing its flowers (though they were hidden under a leaf).

Grape Hyacinth: The first flower of this common Garden Escape was out in Havant on Feb 11.

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Fox: Yelping heard from the Billy Trail after dark on Feb 12 came (pretty sure!) from a wild Vixen - see my Summary for last week for comments about Fox reproduction. This is also a good place to recommend that if you did not see the BBC TV programme on Urban Wildlife in London do go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01k784h/Natural_World_20112012_Unnatural_History_of_London/ for a fascinating hour which includes the unlikely complete episode of a feral pigeon being caught in flight by a Pelican (did you know that these have been present in St James Park London since 1664 - see http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park/flora-and-fauna/pelicans for details) and eventually swallowed whole after some violent struggling in the Pelican's expandible beak. Other items which may surprise you are the sequence showing pigeons using Underground trains to commute between stations where they feed on passenger left-overs and the story that the Ring-necked Parakeets which abound in the city originate from birds used in filming 'The African Queen' at the Ealing Studios in 1951 (for that and other suggestions about their origin see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_parakeets and http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/forums/british-birds/96117-ring-necked-parakeets-how-exactly-did-they-get-here.html )

Common Seal: On Feb 11 one was seen at the RSPB Pulborough Brooks reserve after a long swim inland up the River Arun

Adder: The first to emerge from hibernation was see on the Durlston cliffs back on Feb 4 and there was a second sighting there on Feb 16

Sea Slug: One species has recently achieved fame with the discovery of its unique evolutionary development - the replaceable penis (this can get broken off during the complicated sex life of these hermaphrodites so the species has an internal store of replacements which it can fit within 24 hours). See http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/13/sea-slug-penis (well worth seeing for the colourful picture of the Sea Slug species concerned)

Five-bearded Rockling: Several of these were found in a rock pool at Pett near Hastings on Feb 15 and if you want to know more about this strange fish (and its two cousins) go to http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Rockling.htm and scroll down through that page

Razor shell: One of these was also found in the Pett rockpools - not just an empty shell which you might find washed up anywhere on the shore but a live specimen sticking up vertically from the sandy bottom of the pool. See http://www.wildrye.info/dates/ to find out about the event planned for Feb 19 for which this visit to the Pett rockpools was a precursor

ENDWEEK

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Wildlife diary and news for Feb 4 - 10 (Week 6 of 2013)

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BIRDS

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Divers: Maybe Red-throated think that spring is around the corner as the number moving east past Dungeness is steadily increasing - 100 on Feb 2, 300 on Feb 3 and 320 on Feb 7 while more are probably moving up Channel - a site record count of 43 on the sea near Otterton between Exmouth and Sidmouth on Feb 8. Also at Otterton were 2 Black-throated with perhaps the same 2 passing Rye Harbour next day (Feb 9) though Cornwall remained the best place to see these with 5 in the Penzance area on both Feb 4 and 7. Most reports of Great Northern came from the Portsmouth area with two around the entrance to Langstone Harbour but one seen off Normans Bay (between Eastbourne and Hastings) could be part of an eastward movement. Far from southern England there were two White Billed Divers off Orkney on Feb 9.

Grebes: There were 11 reports of Red-necked between Feb 3 and 9 including 2 together off the Netherlands on Feb 5 and 3 there on Feb 8 - over here there seems to have been just one on the sea off Dorset. Portland Harbour had up to 9 Slavonian during the week though Lymington had 5 on Feb 8 and up to 2 remained in the Langstone Harbour area. Peak count of Black-necked was 39 in Carrick Roads at Falmouth on Feb 7 followed by Portland Harbour with 24 on Feb 8. There were 8 off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Feb 7 and 2 remained in the Blashford Lakes

Leach's Petrel: Oddity of the week was a report of one of these at Brogborough Lake in Bedfordshire on Feb 8. For photos of the bird see http://bedsbirds.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/lynchs-petrel.html. Brogborough Lake is on the east side of the M1 as it passes Milton Keynes on its west side

Bittern: Although these can still be seen at most of their winter haunts there have been further signs that the birds are starting to move. On Feb 3 one appeared by a garden pond at Wisborough Green near Billingshurst in Sussex, on Feb 4 one was at Sandwich Bay and Feb 8 one was showing openly in the small reeded pool behind the reserve building at Farlington Marshes and another was near Arne on the west side of Poole Harbour where they have not been reported this winter.

Little Egret: Possible signs that numbers are starting to build up at places where they may soon be starting to nest are roost counts of 16 at Rye Harbour and 25 at Christchurch Harbour (though I am not aware of nesting colonies at either of these places). Here in Havant on Feb 5 I noticed two Little Egrets searching for food in a muddy field and had the very subjective feeling that they might a pair (solely based on the way they kept very close to each other at all times)

Great White Egret: Photos of three at Rye Harbour this week may have given an impression of new arrivals in this country but looking back through previous reports for this year it would be possible to make a case for a decrease in numbers over here - in mid January Lee Evans told us that the total number in the UK was 35 but on Feb 2 he quoted just 14 as the total and where there had been 7 at the Dungeness RPB reserve on Jan 15 it seems that the number there was down to 4, possibly accounting for the 3 appearing at nearby Rye Harbour. My guess would be that we are seeing normal spring movements of birds wishing to find mates and start breeding and I am pretty sure there will be more in this country next spring than there are now. I am now waiting for news of breeding in Somerset where we heard last May that two nests had been successful at the Shapwick Heath NNR hatching at least three chicks in one nest and one in another.

Red-breasted Goose: No further news of the Farlington Marshes/Thorney Island bird since Feb 2 when it was last seen near Eames Farm on Thorney Island but to make up for the loss of publicity at Farlington Marshes Rob Chapman (it seems he prefers to be called Rob rather than Bob) has published a useful map of Farlington Marshes which can be seen at http://solentreserves.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/mapping-out-the-reserve-1/. When I looked at the map I was puzzled by the pointer to the location of Chalkdock and have posted a comment saying that, while I have never been clear where the dock was I was under the impression that it was used for landing seaborne building materials for the construction, which took place between 1861 and 1867, of the Palmerston Forts on Portsdown Hill, long after the construction of the seawall allowing the draining of the marshes for agricultural use, which took place in 1773. The most likely answer is that the 1773 seawall excluded the north east corner of the present reserve (and the name of 'West Mudlands' shown on the map for the area behind the Reserve Building probably supports that idea). Hopefully this will be answered when Rob publishes further maps of a) that part of the reserve north of the A27 and b) the area north of 'the stream' known as 'The Bushes'

Punk Aytha Hybrid: If you are having withdrawal symptoms on account of the absence of the 'Fudge Duck' from Budds Farm Pool this winter see http://www.devonbirds.org/images/cache/cc7b0556e7ae8923a7a9572d997920d0.jpg for a photo of a bird currently resident on the Slapton Ley lake in south Devon. It is thought to be a hybrid between a Tufted Duck and a Red Crested Pochard and has been named the 'Punk Aythya'. I have not heard of the Tufted x Ferruginous Hybrid known locally the 'Fudge Duck' since 30 Nov 2011 after reporting its presence in the Langstone Harbour area for 12 consecutive winters.

Smew: Strangely I have seen no reports from Kent or East Sussex since Jan 27 when one was in the Kent Stour valley following a sighting of 6 on the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Jan 26. Despite the apparent departure of the birds from their main wintering area in southern England other birds have remained in western counties. This week two redheads were still at the Longham Lakes (Bournemouth) up to Feb 7 (with one still there on Feb 9), one was still at the Blashford Lakes on Feb 9 and one was at the Exmouth marshes on Feb 9 while there had been an isolated report of 2 on the Roadford Reservoir (western edge of Dartmoor) on Feb 6.

Buzzard: Of local interest on Feb 7 Brian Fellows found a Buzzard being harrassed by Crows in Nore Barn Wood at Emsworth. In several past years Sparrowhawks have nested in this wood despite the high level of human activity and Buzzards have nested in the Warblington Farm area but I doubt they will try to nest here in the face of human and avian disturbance!

Reeve's Pheasant: A report of a male seen on a farm in the Paignton area of Devon this week reminded me that it is a long time since I heard of Golden Pheasants being seen at Kingley Vale near Chichester and even longer since there was a population in the Butser Hill area near Petersfield. I think there is still a population of Golden Pheasants on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour (and there were sightings in the Brixham area of Devon last September) but the only Reeve's Pheasants that I heard of last year were seen at Shalfleet in the Isle of Wight in Jan 2012. To see how impressive a cock Reeve's can be see http://www.arkive.org/reevess-pheasant/syrmaticus-reevesii/ but beware that they are known to be aggressive to humans, nevertheless they are for sale on the internet (just 25 a pair) if you want to brighten up your garden and keep off unwanted visitors.

Water Rail: There have been three recent sightings of one wintering by the River Ems at Emsworth but I see that on Feb 8 at least 8 different birds were located at the Fishlake Meadows near the River Test north of Romsey

Avocet: Just four were seen in Langstone Harbour this week on Feb 9 - this time the birds were on the lake within the western sea wall of the Farlington Marshes reserve.

Knot: On Feb 8 a flock of around 300 were seen in flight over Langstone Harbour.

Little Stint: A single wintering bird was seen at Rye Harbour on Feb 9

Temmincks Stint: One of these was also seen in Somerset on Feb 8

Curlew Sandpiper: And one of these was in the Exe estuary area on Feb 2, 3, and 7.

Ruff: Reports of these at six regular winter sites this week but more interesting was a sighting of 1 flock of 31 which arrived on the fields north of Pagham Harbour on Feb 4 - several of them already showing signs of breeding plumage and their arrival indicating they were on the return journey to their breeding places which could even be in Scotland.

Bonaparte's Gull: The relatively tame bird which has been on a lake in Prince's Park at Eastbourne since Jan 27 was still there on Dec 9. If you want to see it for yourself you can do so by visiting the Three Amigo's blog at http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/2013/02/08/3927/ which has excellent photos taken by one or more of Mark Cutts and Steve Copsey (who seems to have suddenly returned from the Antarctic)

Common Gull: On Feb 8 Barry Yates at Rye Harbour commented on seeing a Common Gull dropping shellfish onto stones to break them open - we have all seen Crows and Herring Gulls doing this but Barry thinks this is a newly acquire habit for Common Gulls - I must say I have not seen them doing this.

Guillemots: These are now back at breeding cliffs in Devon (Berry Head) and Dorset (Durlston) and Dungeness has reported large numbers heading east (10,440 in one hour on Feb 3 but that was followed by 8000 west in 90 minutes on Feb 6).

Turtle Dove: The wintering bird that was seen in a north Devon garden on Jan 16 and 20 was still there (Connor Downs area between Hayle and Camborne) on Feb 7.

Long-eared Owl: Early on the morning of Feb 8 Tim Doran was on the western seawall at Farlington Marshes when he disturbed an Owl which flew off a short way but raised its ear-tufts when confronted by a Buzzard before settling on a post where it sat in full view in sunshine for 30 minutes during which Tim could clearly see the orange eyes and the continuation of breast marking onto the belly area which distinguish Long from Short-eared Owls. This was presumably a bird which has been wintering on the continent and was having a rest after crossing the channel.

Hoopoe: The bird which has been in the Hamworthy area of Poole since Jan 25 was still there on Feb 5 but has not been reported since.

Woodlark: First song has been heard 'somewhere in Sussex' on Feb 4 as birds return to breeding sites.

Waxwing: Still 15 reports this week with flocks of 30 in Fleet (north Hampshire), 27 at Durrington (West Sussex) and 26 at Merley (Dorset). Locally two were seen by Purbrook Way in Leigh Park on Feb 8.

Fieldfare: Flocks of up to 300 still around (in north Hampshire, Pevensey Levels and Sandwich Bay) with reports from as far west as Devon and east to Sandwich Bay.

Redwing: Ten reports this week with slightly smaller numbers than Fieldfare but up to 120 in north Hampshire and mention of an influx at Sandwich Bay.

Chiffchaff: First mention of song heard in north Kent on Feb 9.

Greenfinch: These have been vocal for some time but by Feb 4 I heard more or less full song on Portsdown Hill.

Reed Bunting: First song heard by Peter Raby on Feb 9 from a male (with three females nearby) on the Warblington Farm fields east of Havant.

Vagrants: Late news for Feb 2 of a possible Black Woodpecker at Folkestone. When I put Black Woodpecker in Britain into Google I learnt of a paper written in 1959 by the eminent Richard Fitter suggesting that there had been quite a few reports of the species in Britain (make your own mind up after reading http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=156190)

Escapes: The presence of an Eagle Owl on the roof of a house in Storrington (near Pulborough) was first reported on Feb 2 and on Feb 7 a further report appeared on the SOS news site saying that the bird was still there but that local residents were threatening to shoot it for fear that it would take their pets or even attack children. Hopefully the bird will survive but the story reminds me of a similar Eagle Owl story in Hampshire when the police were involved and developed a cunning plan to persuade the owl to attack a decoy Police Dog when they would be ready to net the bird. All went to plan and when the bird was eventually re-united with its owner it turned out that the owl had been kept in a household which also had an Alsatian dog with which the Owl used to play and that when the owl swooped on the Police Dog it was with purely playful intentions.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Newly reported sightings this week:

Brimstone: One seen in Pamber Forest near Basingstoke on Jan 27

Red Admiral: One seen in Pamber Forest on Jan 27 and another in Havant (near the Civic Offices) on Jan 30

Comma: One seen in Cosham on Jan 2

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

1045 (Rusty Birch Button), Acleris notana found in Dorset on FEB 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3452

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1045.php

1799 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata found in Dorset on FEB 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1813

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1799.php

1960 Early Moth Theria primaria found in Kent on FEB 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6078

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1960.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Kent on FEB 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

2259 Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula found in Dorset on FEB 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1112

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2259.php

Other Insects

Flies: On Feb 9 Rob Chapman was in the Calshot area and found a number of flies attracted to the flowers of Winter Heliotrope including the Marmelade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus), Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax) and some Flesh Flies (Calliphora vicina) which are almost identical to Blue Bottles. For the original account and photos see http://solentreserves.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/still-not-getting-out/

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Unusual Moss species: If you are interested in mosses see Graeme Lyons latest blog entry at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/i-fell-in-love-with-ghyll-stream.html describing his visit to a small stream rapily descending a valley called a 'ghyll' just west of Hastings on Feb 3

Black Spleenwort: Brian Fellows found an unexpected site for this plant on a wall in Noth Street near the Emsworth Rail Station last year and has been back to check on it this week - for his photo of the site see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x864-ferns-north-street-08.02.13.jpg or search through his diary entries for an item on Ferns in the Feb 8 entry at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm

Mouse-ears: These plants come in many forms of which two are very common - Sticky and Common Mouse-ear - and both have similar flowers and leaves though the flowers of Sticky Mouse-ear grow in tight clusters while those of Common Mouse-ear grow separately, each flower having its own flower stem. When the plants are mature there should be no difficulty in separating them but I have found in the past that when I return to a site that seemed to be composed of Sticky Mouse-ear a few days earlier it now seems to consist of Common Mouse-ear. This conundrum seems to have occurred again at a site in Emsworth where Brian Fellows found and photographed plants of Sticky Mouse-ear (the photos show the characteristics of this species) but when I visited the site just two days later I could only find plants looking like Common Mouse-ear. It could well be that we saw different plants in different areas of the site but I am wondering if it is possible that Common Mouse-ear starts to flower before the flower stems are fully grown so a plant which starts to open its flower buds when they are all tightly grouped and look like Sticky Mouse-ear rapidly grow individual flower stems making the plant look like Common Mouse-ear. I hope to resolve this dilemma before too long!

Spurge Laurel: John Goodspeed found this in flower on Feb 5 in Markwells Wood on the ridge above Idsworth Chapel north of Finchdean.

Alexanders: This had started to flower on the southern slope of Portsdown on Feb 4 and later in the week I learnt from the Rye Bay website that the plant is host to the larva of a fly called Euleia heraclei which can feed through the winter on the leaves of this plant (as well as on Celery and Hogweed) which remain green through the winter. I learnt more about this fly and its habits from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euleia_heraclei and about the look of the leaf-mines from http://creativedevon.ning.com/photo/euleia-heraclei-tephritid-fly-celery-fly-leaf-mine-in-alexanders.

Lesser Periwinkle: The most colourful new flower found this week was seen in Pitts Copse (south of the Stansted Forest Redwood Groves) on Feb 7 with a better show of more easily accessible flowers found on Feb 8 on the hedgebank of Southleigh Road immediately east of the East Leigh Road junction in the Denvilles area of Havant.

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Roe Deer: These normally rest during the day under cover but a bunch of ten or so that have been present in the fields north of the busy A27 between Havant and Emsworth for a good many years seem to have found that they are less subject to disturbance if they lie up for the day well away from the cover offered by the hedges surrounding this large area of flat open fields. When, on Feb 8, I cycled along the Southleigh Road which forms the northern boundary of this area the thick hedge between the road and the fields prevents any casual view of the fields but by going a short way down the approach road to Southleigh Farm I had an unobstructed view over the eastern half of these fields and saw ten Roe lying on the ground (with their heads up) well away from the field edges, ready to take flight from the appoach of any potential threat. This is where I saw a bunch of 11 back in 2004 so I guess they are well established here. A similar group of Roe can be seen on the wide open fields of north Hayling between Northney and Stoke villages but they have trees and hedges out in the centre of the area in which they can take cover.

Water Voles: There have been many more sightings of these in the River Ems at Brook Meadow in Emsworth so far this year than in the same period of previous years but I think this is more the result of having more human watchers present for more hours than a dramatic increase in the number of voles (the weather of course has also contributed). One of the results has been a proliferation of intimated photos of the voles enjoying a (mostly) undisturbed existence and one photo which I particularly liked was taken by Brian Fellows on Feb 8 - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x864-water-vole-eat-D-08.02.13.jpg

Frogspawn: The first spawn that I have heard of this year appeared in two places, both on Feb 4, and both in garden ponds. One was in Waterlooville, the other in Fareham.

Adder: Another first for the year, also on Feb 4, was the first sighting of an Adder, newly out of hibernation, basking in the sun on the cliffs at Durlston.

ENDWEEK

(Back to Start of Week)


Wildlife diary and news for Jan 28 - Feb 3 (Week 05 of 2013)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: The biggest count of Red-throated this week was just 107 at Ouistreham on the French Normandy coast with a peak of 8 at Selsey on our side of the Channel. Black-throated, which are normally seen singly, appeared as a group of 5 at Falmouth, equalling the peak number of Great Northern seen at Torbay. No reports of Pacific Diver this week but a White-billed Diver was in Orkney

Grebes: A raft of 2000 Great Crested remained on the sea off Dungeness and just one Red-necked was seen at Falmouth (Cornwall). Seven Slavonian were seen at Selsey and eight were in Portland Harbour leaving Hampshire a peak of 5 off Lymington. The only substantial count of Black-necked on the English south coast was of 15+ at Falmouth though two remained at the Blashford Lakes

Shag: One off the Eastney shore at the mouth of Langstone Harbour already had a full breeding crest on Feb

Bittern: Two reports this week of sightings at places where they have not been seen before (Cherque near Gosport and Pett Level) this winter may imply that the birds are already moving from winter to breeding sites and this is backed up by the RSPB website which says .. "Male bitterns begin to boom as early as late January to establish territories and attract mates. Some males are polygamous, and occasionally several nests, each built by a different female, are found within the territory of one calling male. There is no pair-bond as such, and the male normally takes no part in nest building or raising the young."

Spoonbill: One has been wandering along the west Solent shore this week, maybe in search of a mate or territory

Red-breasted Goose: The Farlington bird which has been in the Thorney Island area since Jan 13, was still reported on Feb 2 to be on Thorney Island in the Eames Farm fields west of the Army checkpoint near the Great Deeps.

Pintail: When I walked round Farlington Marshes on Feb 1 there was a noticeable increase in the number of Pintail, possibly indicating a movement back towards their breeding sites. Although there were probably no more than 50 birds at Farlington I see that there had been a similar increase at the Blashford Lakes from a previous peak of 174 on Jan 19 to 400 on Jan 27

Smew: In recent winters few Smew have flown further west than the Rye Bay area but this winter reports during January have come from the Isle of Wight, Blashford Lakes, Longham Lakes at Bournemouth, Falmouth and on Feb 1 a further sighting in Romsey

Common Crane: A group of seven seem to have been present in the Medway area of north Kent since at least Jan 22 but they have only been reported three times (on Jan 22, 25 and Feb 1). These are certainly not the only Cranes in England (there is currently another single in Kent and on Jan 25 a second group of 7 were seen in Worcestershire) but little news gets out about the small breeding colony that has been established in Norfolk since 1981 (first recorded breeding). Checking the BTO Bird Facts page for this species (which was updated in Jan 2013) I see that 13 or 14 pairs now breed there and that we have up to 50 individuals in England during the winter

Avocet: On Jan 29 16 Avocet were in the Broom Channel of Langstone Harbour running up the west side of Farlington Marshes into Portscreek under the Eastern Road bridge and 12 were seen there again on Jan 30 but there have been no other reports this week

Golden Plover: More than 3000 were at Maiden Castle in Dorset on Jan 26 and 3100 were at Wadebridge in Cornwall on Jan 30 with smaller flocks in the Titchfield area and flying over the New Forest - possibly an indication of birds gathering into large flocks for the journey north?

Short-eared Owl: Two have been seen this week, hunting over the Hayling Island Golf Course at dusk, from the Ferry Road passing The Kench on Hayling Island

Hoopoe: The bird which appeared in the Bournemouth area on Jan 26 was still there on Feb 2

Waxwing: Only two reports in Hampshire this week - on Jan 26 two were seen in the centre of Leigh Park at Havant and on Feb 2 a party of 8 were by the slip road from the A3 to the A272 west of Petersfield. In Sussex eleven were still present in the Portslade area of Brighton on Feb 3 while the last report from Fishbourne (just west of Chichester) was of 33 there on Feb 2 when 18 were at Angmering on the A259 east of Chichester.

Wheatear: One seen at Holes Bay (Poole Harbour) on Jan 27 has not been re-found - my best guess is that it was a very early migrant arrival which has pushed on northward.

Fieldfare: It seems that the large numbers which were being pushed south into southern England in the previous week have greatly diminished (presumably many have flown south across the channel). The last reports of big flocks seem to have been of 500 in the Pagham Harbour north fields on Jan 28 and of 1000 in the Kent Stour Valley on Jan 29. The biggest flocks since then have been 200 on the Pevensey Levels on Jan 30 and 45 in the Itchen Valley near Eastleigh on Feb 1

Firecrest: On Feb 1 photographs of the bird at Brook Meadow in Emsworth showed that there were at least two birds present as one photograph was of a male with a red tinge to its crest and another showed the less colourful crest of a female.

Marsh Tit: A report from the West Dean Woods (north of Chichester) on Feb 1 mentioned - "many Marsh Tits calling and feeding. They appeared to be eating moss that had grown along branches - or something in the moss, spitting out what they didn't like .." which suggests to me that the birds might have been collecting nest material though the species does not normally start nesting until late April

Chaffinch song: Although the first song was reported last week (Jan 26 at Lyndhurst) the first general outburst of song was heard this week, first at Durlston on Jan 29 and then at Henfield in Sussex and Emsworth in Hampshire on Jan 30

Common Rosefinch: A 'probable' was reported from Broadstone (northern fringe of Poole in Dorset) on Jan 28. See http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=161083 for latest UK Sightings of this species which normally occur in the autumn with none shown as occurring between Oct and May so this was proabably a mis-identification.

Lapland Bunting: Late news from Cornwall shows that a flock of 20 seen at Treen (in the 'toe' of Cornwall) on Jan 21 is the highest count for anywhere in the south of England so far this year though RBA reported a total of 107 in the UK on Sep 22 last autumn

Vagrants: On Jan 30 RBA reported a Black-browed Albatross off the Irish coast of County Clare and this could possibly be the same bird that has been returning to British waters in search of a mate each year since 1967 - see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/6641021.stm though the BTO says that individual has not been seen since 1995. For last year's British records see http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=010007

Foreign reports: Species photographed by Steve Copsey from HMS Protector on ice patrol duty in the Antarctic during the past week have been Sooty & Great Shearwaters, Cape and White Chinned Petrels - for the photos and commentary see http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Red Admiral: Three sightings on Jan 30, two in Emsworth and one in Worthing

Peacock: Two reports this week. On Jan 23 one was disturbed from the warmth of a kiln shed at a Burgess Hill (Haywards Heath) tile factory and on Jan 29 one was more typically disturbed when clearing out a garden shed in the Waterlooville area

Comma: One seen at Bracklesham on the Sussex shore west of Selsey Bill on Jan 3

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

1862 Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata found in Dorset on JAN 27 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=123

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1862.php

1917 Early Thorn Selenia dentaria found in Dorset on FEB 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3537

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1917.php

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Dorset on JAN 30 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

Other Insects

Wall Brown caterpillars: On Jan 30 Bob Eade reported on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation website ... "With mild temperatures and the sun shining I popped onto High and Over on the off chance of finding Wall Brown larvae. After about 20 minutes of searching I was surprised to find 2 feeding. Both were approx. 1.5cm long and were found about 2 ft from where I found them last year.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris): One seen and photographed on the Emsworth shore near Nore Barn on Jan 31 can be seen at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-x872-bumblebee-terrertris-BL-31.01.13.jpg - this is a worker out collecting pollen for larvae in a nearby nest and the amount of pollen in the sac on the bee's rear leg shows it was doing a good job.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Early Dog Violet: Self sown plants in my garden started to open their first flowers on Jan 25 but none were fully open until Feb 2

Hedgerow Cranesbill: I continue to be amazed by the plants growing on a tiny bit of bare soil in the Havant Bus Station - these have seemingly never stopped flowering for a couple of years but while the flowers were originally all pure white they have recently started reverting to the normal purplish colour and when I checked them on Feb 1 all the flowers were of this colour

Cherry Plum: This started general flowering on Jan 28 when it could be seen at the southern end of Southmoor Lane near Budds Farm and at the shore end of Wade Lane in Langstone. By Feb 1 several more trees were out beside Harts Farm Way at Broadmarsh

Yellow Flowered Strawberry: No flowers can currently be seen at the Juniper Square site in Havant but on Jan 28 I found a good show at a second site beside the Langbrook Stream just south of the Langstone Technology Park approach road where recent tree thinning has let in light.

Ivy-leaved Speedwell: The very hairy plants of this species have been appearing in many places recently but the first sight of flowers (in fact just buds) was seen in Havant St Faith's churchyard on Feb 1

Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus): First flowers seen on Jan 28 at the site where they were planted in the 1980s by ecologists working for IBM at their newly acquired Havant Plant site (now Langstone Technology Park). The first leaves of the female Butterbur plants which they also introduced are also now up but there is no sign of the flowering spikes (unlike the common male plants whose flower spikes are already pushing up above ground at Brook Meadow in Emsworth).

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Fox: January is the month in which foxes normally mate but this year the first mention of this activity (which normally attracts attention through the nocturnal howling of the vixens and fights among the males) did not catch my eye until Jan 31 when Birders in Cornwall happened to see a pair of Foxes mating. Checking on the facts of life for this species I see that there is a 53 day gestation period followed a month in which the four or five cubs become increasingly less dependent on their mother for warmth, allowing her to leave the den to search for food (in the first couple of weeks food is brought to the den by males) and roughly three months after the mating the cubs start to emerge from the den - this year the offspring of that mating will not be seen until the very end of April or early May.

Another factor that is likely to influence the appearance of Fox cubs this spring is the waterlogged condition of the ground which must make some dens unuseable though I understand that Foxes will adapt to this by giving birth in any suitable dry place (such as an unused farm building). Unlike Badgers they do not feel compelled to use 'traditional' setts.

Fungi: Species attracting attention this week were Jelly ear on Elder at Brook Meadow in Emsworth; Velvet Shank on the tree immediately down stream from the footbridge over the Langbrook stream from Mill Lane onto the Langstone South Moors (regular immersion of these in water at high tide has changed their colour from the normal bright yellow and black to an overall drab brown); and a great show of large bracket fungi (probably Ganoderma adspersum) on the old Horse Chestnut trees near the Toilet block in Havant town park.

ENDWEEK

(Back to Start of Week)


Wildlife diary and news for Jan 21 - 27 (Week 04 of 2013)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Reports of Red-throated Divers seen in flocks of many hundreds passing Dungeness and in thousands off the Netherlands and French coast which are commonplace at this time of year may be read with scepticism by birders on the English south coast so I was interested to read in Bernie Forbes account of what his group saw from Ferring Beach in the Worthing area on Jan 24 .. "Offshore a hovercraft powered by approx two miles out going east and put up a huge flock of Red-throated Divers that flew east and then turned and flew back west. We both counted 60 birds in one single flock, a record for all of us and a truly amazing sight!" .. I wonder how Bernie would re-act to seeing the flock of 3639 of these birds that was reported off The Hague in the Netherlands on Jan 9. This week brought just four reports of single Black-throated, none on our central south coast, but Great Northern were seen at Selsey, the mouths of Chichester and Langstone Harbours with 5 in Poole Harbour and in Carrick Roads at Falmouth. Also in Cornwall there was a further probable sighting of the Pacific Diver off Penzance.

Grebes: Jan 26 brought the first report of a pair of Great Crested Grebes displaying to each other at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough. Jan 21 found a single Red-Necked in the mouth of Chichester Harbour and on Jan 26 one was in Christchurch Harbour. Also on Jan 21 four Slavonian were in the mouth of Chichester Harbour and on Jan 25 one had progressed up the Thorney Channel towards Prinsted and Nutbourne Bay. The Arlington Reservoir bird remained there but we had a report of two in the west Solent at Park Shore between Lymington and the Beaulieu River with another two in Portland Harbour and four in Carrick Roads at Falmouth where the biggest group of Black-necked (15 of them) was seen. The Hayling Oysterbeds had a peak of 14 on Jan 24 and on Jan 26 Stokes Bay at Gosport was an unusual venue for one to be seen.

Storm Petrel: The first report of this species for the year came on Jan 22 from a Swanage Garden where it was picked up, weak but alive, but died soon after.

Bittern: Reported from 12 diffeent sites this week including one on the Sussex Downs which I am not familiar with and did not know had suitable habitat - this is the Rifle Range at Steyning, north of Worthing which I have usually come across as a butterfly site good for Brown Hairstreak.

Grey Heron: I have not seen a Heron at Langstone Pond since Jan 3 and my last sighting anywhere was of one flying over my house on Jan 16 with a Herring Gull in hot pursuit from which I concluded that both Herons and Herring Gulls are probably taking an interest in their breeding sites but it was not until Jan 26 that I saw a report confirming that Herons are now back at their nests. The report came from Weir Wood reservoir where there is an established Heronry and where the first Herons arrived at their nests on Jan 25 last year though they did not seem to start egglaying until Feb 23 (by Apr 8 some chicks had appeared in the 26 nests).

Spoonbill: The number seen together in Poole Harbour dropped from 16 to 14 this week and at least one took wing to appear on the Lymington shore on Jan 24 so we may soon see others on the move in the search for mates.

Bewick's Swan: The flock on the River Arun at Warningcamp near Arundel increased from 30 on Jan 18 to 39 on Jan 26. Maybe the newcomers included a pair which flew in through the Langstone Harbour entrance on Jan 24 but were not seen to land.

Whitefront Goose: A few newcomers have arrived in southern England this week. 93 turned up at Sandwich Bay on Jan 24 and they may account for the report of 68 at Rye Harbour next day (though there were still 87 at Sandwich). Probably part of the same movement were four seen at Farlington Marshes on Jan 22 and 8 at Brading on the IoW on Jan 25

Red-breasted Goose: Two different birds have been in Hampshire and West Sussex during this winter. One arrived on the Lymington marshes on Oct 24 and immediately moved to Farlington Marshes on Oct 25 where it stayed (shifting back and forth between the Marshes and various nearby grazing ares in Portsmouth) until Jan 12, after which it vanished from Langstone Harbour.

The West Sussex bird made its first appearance by the River Adur near Upper Beeding on Dec 13, arriving in the company of ten Greylags and consorting with Greylags and Canada Geese throughout its stay which appeared to end on Dec 27. Several other birds of the same species have been in the UK this winter: the first I know of was on the north Kent coast on Oct 14 associating with Brent, and it is possible that this was the Farlington bird as it was last seen in Kent on Oct 23 and first appeared in Hampshire on Oct 24 though there could have been several migrant arrivals around this time as one appeared in Argyll on Oct 26 and maybe moved to Cumbria on Nov 16, staying there for at least two days, associating with Barnacles, before maybe moving on down the west coast to be seen in Cornwall on Nov 28. In January Lee Evans mentioned that there were four Red-breasted Geese together in Norfolk but I suspect that these originated in captivity.

The latest part of the story takes place in Sussex. On Jan 13, the day after it was last seen at Farlington Marshes, one Red-breast was seen at Selsey Bill, flying east with other Brent at 09:15 am and then returning west, again in company with Brent, at 09:40 and I assume this flight took it to the airfield on Thorney Island where it was found among 1000 Brent on Jan 14, though a sighting of one in the Netherlands on Jan 14 could imply that (by some sort of smoke and mirrors trick) the Farlington bird had continued east and genuinely left the scene here - implying that the bird found on Thorney airfield was a newcomer, but I don't buy that. There is then a ten day gap in sightings which appears to show that our goose stayed hidden among the multitude of Brent on Thorney airfield (which can only be viewed from its distant periphery) until Barry Collins chanced to spot it on Jan 24. Having seen it Barry kept his eye on it for the rest of that day but neither he nor any of the birders who came to search for it have seen it since - that was true until today as Barry and others found it again on Jan 27 among Brent on Eames Farm fields (presumably near the Great Deeps and possibly visible to the public from the western seawall path or the Thorney Main Road). The final part of the story concerns the Adur valley bird which no one reported after Dec 27 but which mysteriously re-appeared by the Adur on Jan 25 for a one day stand. I suspect this bird may not have headed back to Siberia as its Greylag and Canada friends were not going to make that long journey but I am still expecting the Farlington/Thorney bird to do so.

Gadwall: During my personal 'birding life' in Hampshire this species has increased phenomenally in numbers. One of my first specialist books on Hampshire birds was John Taverner's 'Wildfowl in Hampshire' (published 1962) in which the first sentence of the section on Gadwall reads .. "Apart from extreme rarities there is no more uncommon duck in Hampshire". For comparison he says that in 1957 there may have been as many as 100 Smew in the county wheres the total number of Gadwall known to have visited the county in the years 1945 to 1960 was 50 or less. This background explains my interest in a new site record for the number of 124 Gadwall seen at Sandwich Bay on Jan 24, especially as these were almost certainly new arrivals from the continent which will disperse to swell the numbers elsewhere in southern England where Gadwall are serious contenders for outnumbering Mallard.

Green-winged Teal: On Jan 26 Colin Allen found one on Ivy Lake at Blashford and Simon Woolley commented that this was only the 2nd for Blashford, and the first for 33 years - Jan 12th 1980 was the last one, also on Ivy Lake. Although not a mega rarity a twitcher would probably have to go to Cornwall to find another at present. For a photo of the bird in Cornwall, showing the distinctive white vertical stripe immediately in front of the closed wing, go to http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5450/8411127215_e6e60b5bb7_z.jpg

Pintail: A report of 174 at the Blashford Lakes on Jan 19 was the highest count I had seen this year until today (Jan 27) when at least 400 and probably over 500 were present (maybe as a result of a duck shoot taking place in the nearby Avon valley).

Shoveler: Also maybe as a result of the shoot there were 1190 Shoveler at the Blashford Lakes today (Jan 27). This is not such a big increase as that of Pintail as there were 1070 Shoveler there on Jan 24.

Smew: At least one has been at the Blashford Lakes this week, and maybe some have been leaving us as singles were seen flying east over Hastings and Reculver (north Kent) during the week but a count of 6 at the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Jan 26 beat the previous winter peak for England of 5 at Dungeness on Dec 11.

Water Rail: Although there are plenty of these around currently - 5 reported at Gilkicker (Gosport) on Jan 21 and at Farlington Marshes Bob Chapman's Blog for Jan 26 says .. "The Point Field seemed filled with Water Rails as I could hear them calling all over the place" - these are not easy to see so a couple of sightings at Brook Meadow in Emsworth (with photos) are noteworthy as is a report from Exmoor on Jan 18 of one seen 20 feet up a tree (Moorhen frequently climb about in bushes and can be seen at low heights in trees but I have not heard of Water Rails doing so and I suspect that this bird may either have flown up in panic to escape a Fox or even to have landed in the tree at the end of a passage flight and been uncertain how to get down without attracting attention).

Common Crane: A party of seven at the north Kent Oare Marshes on Jan 22 was unexpected (though one had been seen on the Walland Marshes near Rye on Jan 1 and four were on the move in the Netherlands on Jan 22) but there was also a second report this week of one on the Pevensey Levels on Jan 24.

Avocet: Late news of 10 at Farlington Marshes on Jan 19 and of 4 somewhere in the Thorney Channel/Nutbourne Bay area on Jan 25.

Sanderling: The first substantial report of these roosting on the Southsea shingle (by the Pier near Southsea Castle) was of 250 there on Jan 26

Purple Sandpiper: Also seen at Southsea Castle on Jan 26 were 13 Purple Sandpipers (19 were there on Jan 7)

Woodcock: Two were seen at dusk on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on three evenings this week (Jan 19, 20 and 24)

Green Sandpiper: On Jan 22 I visited the Hermitage Stream running through the Stockheath area of Leigh Park and am pretty sure there were two resident Green Sandpiper (see http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm#2201

Sandwich Tern: On Jan 24 four were seen on the Milton shore of Langstone Harbour and on Jan 25 two were see at the entrance to Chichester Harbour

Common Tern: A single Common Tern was seen at the Hayle estuary (north Cornwall) on Jan 20 and 21 and an Arctic Tern was reported to be in Carbis Bay (part of St Ives Bay, also in north Cornwall) on Jan 19. For the Common Tern photo see http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8363/8405366124_d3dd90b681_z.jpg

Turtle Dove: One has been seen and photographed wintering in a Cornish Garden on Jan 16 and 20 - to see the photo go to http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8368/8390963487_d87103f84a_z.jpg

Hoopoe: Perhaps the most unexpected bird report of the week was of a Hoopoe in a Poole garden. First reported on Jan 23 it was still present on Jan 25.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: The first report of drumming came from Arundel on Jan 7 and by now I have twice heard one in the Wade Court area of Langstone (on Jan 19 and 21).

Woodlark: One slightly unexpected result of the recent cold weather has been the number of Woodlarks it has forced onto our awareness.On Jan 19 a total of 35 were seen at Christchurch Harbour (9 grounded and the rest flyng over) and on that day one was seen on the Portchester shore of Portsmouth Harbour while 5 had settled at the Sinah Warren stables on Hayling Island. On Jan 20 at least 20 birds were seen in Dorset and on Jan 23 a flock of 9 could be seen in Gosport on the HMS Sultan Polo Fields. Jan 24 found one close to Northney Church on Hayling, two in the Brownwich area near Titchfield, four at Christchurch Harbour and 5 at Milton Common at Southsea.

Skylark: Some unusually big flocks have been of over 2800 at Christchurch Harbour on Jan 19, 1000 at Portland on Jan 20 and 500 near Basingstoke also on Jan 20 with 500 also seen among an impressive collection of passerines near Danebury Hill in the Stockbridge area on Jan 24 (that flock included 100 Linnet, 80 Reed Bunting, 400 Yellowhammer, 40 Dunnock, 50 Corn Bunting and a male Hen Harrier)

Waxwing: These were still being seen at 15 southern sites this week with Romsey having the peak count of 35 on Jan 25 followed by Poole in Dorset with 27 on Jan 24 and three sites each having 20 on Jan 21 or 22 (Portslade in Brighton, Lords Wood in Southampton, and Lytchett Matravers in Dorset)

Fieldfare: Top counts this week were 13,200 at Christchurch Harbour, 9550 over Climing near Worthing, 3900 at Durlston, 2170 on the Lymington Marshes, 2000 at Abbotsbury in Dorset, 1,370 at Northney on Hayling, 1067 in Southsea, 1025 at Newlands Farm south of Fareham, 1000 at Sinah Warren on Hayling, 1000 at Brownwich (Titchfield).

Song Thrush: A count of 700 on Portland on Jan 20

Redwing: Portland had 2000 on Jan 20 but generally numbers were low though there were 1600 at Christchurch Harbour, 1000 at Abbotsbury, 700 at Lymington, 400 in the Daw Lane area of Hayling and at Newlands Farm south of Fareham not forgetting 190 at Sway near New Milton.

Blackcap: First report of 'full song' came from Chandlers Ford (Eastleigh) on Jan 26.

Firecrest: Anyone wanting to see this lovely bird has a good chance of doing so at Brook Meadow in Emsworth - go to the Palmers Road carpark on the west side of the River Ems, make your way along paths through the trees to the west bank of the river and go as far north as you can until you are stopped by an 'observation screen' then wait patiently for the bird to appear (while there you may also see the Water Rail in the river's edge) When I saw the Firecrest on Jan 26 I also saw my first wintering Chiff Chaff of the year with Long-tailed Tits.

Rook: An impressive night roost of 800 birds could be seen assembling in the Allington Lane area on the West End area of Southampton's northern fringe on Jan 26.

Starling: An even more impressive night roost of an estimated 1 million birds in the East Youlstone area of Devon (north coast between Bideford and Bude) on Jan 20. East Youlstone is also currently the subject of a proposal for a large Wind Farm.

Chaffinch: First report of song for the year came from Lyndhurst in the New Forest on Jan 2

Linnet: A flock of over 1000 was seen on the Lymington marshes on Jan 23 but I see that there were 3000 at Ryland's Barn Farm at Martinstown in Dorset on Jan 19

Twite: One has been seen at Longwood Warren (east of Winchester) on Jan 4 and now a pair have been seen in the Ferring area of Worthing on Jan 24.

Foreign Birds: Our weekly supply of photos and info about Antarctic birds courtesy of the Royal Navy (in the persons of Steve Copsey and Mark Cutts) can be seen at http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo . They currently feature
Cinnamon Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, Turkey Vulture, Night Heron, Rock Shag, Falkland Skua, Upland Goose, White Tufted Grebe and Falkland Snipe with many more species as you scroll back through the pages

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

No Dragonfly or Butterfly news this week

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

Unsurprisingly there is only one significant moth report this week of a species which has no known males and in which the females creep about in cases similar to those of Caddis Fly larva. Read what I have found out about Luffia ferchaultella (known in English as 'Virgin Smoke') by going to my Diary entry at http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm#2401

Other Insects

Nothing to report this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Early Dog Violet: The first petal on a self sown plant in my garden started to unfurl and show its colour on Jan 25

Hawthorn blossom: Not quite open yet but several clusters of buds seen on Jan 22. See http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm#2201 for more

Japanese Spindle fruits: The bright orange fruits of this shrub are now starting to appear. They first caught my eye on Jan 21 on the outer wall of the West Mill where Mill Lane at Langstone meets th Langbrook Stream.

OTHER WILDLIFE

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Nothing significant to report

ENDWEEK

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Wildlife diary and news for Jan 14 - 20 (Week 03 of 2013)

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BIRDS

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Divers: At the start of this week there were around 3000 Red-throated off the Netherlands but numbers on the north Kent shores seem to have been declining (more likely moving on through the Channel) with counts from Reculver of 51 on Jan 12, 13 on Jan 15, 10 on Jan 16 and just 1 on Jan 18 (Portland had 10 on Jan 16). The only reports of Black-throats have been singles at Reculver on Jan 15 and Portland Harbour later in the week. Highest count of Great Northern was of 6 at Selsey on Jan 13 and there have been several reports of up to 2 at the entrances of both Langstone and Chichester Harbours.

Grebes: There were still 2000 Great Crested feeding off Dungeness on Jan 17 but the latest news of the east Solent raft is dated Jan 13 when 95 were off the Brownwich Cliffs and 68 (may or not have been a different group) were off Netley in Southampton Water. More Red-necked may have moved south bringing a total of 6 off the Netherlands on Jan 12 when 2 more were in Dorset waters (Studland and Weymouth Bays). One Slavonian seems to be resident in Langstone Harbour but at least 6 have been together in Portland Harbour with others scattered along the south coast (though no reports of any flock off Pagham Harbour). The biggest current flock of Black-necked seems to be at Falmouth with 26 in Carrick Roads on Jan 13 but Portland Harbour had 20 on Jan 14. The only report on the Hampshire list this week for Langstone Harbour is of just one seen from Farlington Marshes on Jan 15.

Balearic Shearwater: The majority of sightings from the British Isles come between June and October but between 15 and 20 were seen in Cornwall (Carbis Bay and St Ives) on Jan 14

Shag: These start to gather nest material and settle down in Feb and Mar but there are still many seeking food where it can be found and this week there were 3 in the Langstone Harour entrance and 42 around Christchurch Harbour (near their nesting cliffs on the Isle of Wight)

Bittern: Sightings reported from 12 south coast sites this week including 3 birds at Shinewater Lake in Eastbourne, 3 at Marazion (Penzance) in Cornwall, 2 at the Blashford Lakes and almost certainly another 2 at Titchfield Haven

Egrets: The only Cattle Egret currently in Britain seems to be at the Somerset Levels but on Jan 15 Lee Evans told us that he knows of 35 Great White Egrets in the British Isles but I don't know if this includes the mysterious report of one seen in a tree at Broadmarsh (Langstone Harbour) on Jan 13 though it does include the colony of seven now established at Dungeness. In Hampshire I think all the Avon Valley reports are of the same bird though it has been roaming between Bickerley Common, Blashford Lake and Harbridge (the village which remains in my memory not so much for birds but for the romantic name of the Vicar's daughter in the 1940s when I was in my early teens - if anyone knows what became of Melody Darling do let met know!).

Spoonbill: The flock of at least 16 remains in the west of Poole Harbour.

Bewick's Swan: A definite increase of numbers in southern England after 48 arrived in the Netherlands on Jan 12. A flock of 30 is currently settled at Warningcamp on the Arun near Arundel (I guess they arrived there via Pulborough where 22 were seen on Jan 14 only). Several reports of small numbers from Kent (Sandwich and Reculver) may or may not be of birds on the move as I fear were reports of up to three in the Ringwood (Harbridge) area on Jan 19 only (still time for them to settle but not in the numbers I see when picking up the 1981 HBR at random and see that the highest count for that year was of 156 on Jan 25)

Whooper Swan: The regular family group which roosts on the Chichester Lakes and hides away somewhere in the nearby country side seems to have returned with a sighting of three birds in the Runcton/Mundham area on Jan 15 and again on Jan 16

Brent Goose: There has been no further large scale movement east since that reported last week when 1600 (probably from Arachon near Bordeaux) flew past Dungeness on Jan 11 with more moving on Jan 12 and 13

Black Brant: The only report this week is of one with Brent grazing on the private Royal Marines playing fields at Eastney in Portsmouth which can for the most part be watched from Halliday Crescent running south from Henderson Road towards the Esplanade

Red-breasted Goose: It seems we have now seen the last of our Portsmouth area bird for this winter. The last report from Farlington Marshes was on Jan 12 and early on Jan 13 it was twice seen flying with Brent past Selsey, heading east at 9:15 am then returning with other Brent at 9:40. It presumably landed on Thorney Island where it was seen on Jan 14 but it has not been seen anywhere since that day. I assume its tentative flight on Jan 13 showed it was ready to go and fruitless search since then confirms it has now gone. I doubt it has gone to Norfolk where Lee Evans reported a group of four present on Jan 15

Wigeon: On Jan 17, the day before he snow fell across southern England, Dungeness, Sandwich and Reculver all reported a strong arrival and westward movement of Wigeon and other species - these three Kent sites reported a movement of more than 3,000 birds in total

Scaup: As well as a flock of up to 10 at the Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset Langstone Harbour has had a resident couple of these since Jan 1 (when a strangely plumaged young bird was seen around the harbour) with an adult femaile seen for the first time on Jan 4. These are probably still around, favouring the Oysterbeds where they are often on the lagoon, but the last reported sighting was on Jan 17 (when there were also still 9 at Abbotsbury). Another individual has been at Slapton Ley in south Devon.

Smew: The weather seems to have brought in a few more of these with one female reaching the Isle of Wight on Jan 16 and at least three newcomers heading west in Kent (one over Reculver on Jan 17 and two at Sandwich on Jan 18)

Water Rail: On Jan 14 there were seven of these at Christchurch Harbour, probably all having crossed the channel and half of southern England to get there - in my estimation these must be the second most unlikely (after Little Grebe) bird species to make regular long distance migratory flights. I was first made aware of these flights when I found the corpse of one at the foot of the glass sided IBM HQ building in Portsmouth back in the 1980s - the moon had been shining overnight and a reed edged pool at the foot of the glass building would have looked attractive to the bird wanting somewhere to settle away for the daytime hours when it was not flying but when it realised that the pool was not as isolated as a hideaway should be the moonlit reflection of the water in the glass building must have encouraged it to fly on at full speed straight into the wall which broke its neck.

Avocet: Another travelling party of 17 birds spent part of Jan 15 in Langstone Harbour before heading on west to its winter holiday resort.

Golden Plover: This is another species showing cold weather movements - on Jan 18 the following were reported in Dorset ... Golden Plover - 1420 Radipole, 1000+ in field nr Hive Beach, 650 Southdown Ridge, 500 West Bexington, 300 Abbotsbury, 240 Durlston CP, 75 Hillfield, 55 Portland Bill, 45 Canford Heath, 20 Langton Matravers, 20 Stoborough, 15 Briantspuddle, 11 Chetnole.

Lapwing were also prominent eevery where - at least they have not all left us for Spain.

Ruff: 12 at Pulborough Brooks this week was a good number but I see they had 17 there in March last year

Snipe: These seem to have come south in large numbers in advance of the snow - on Jan 13 The Vyne floods at Basingstoke had a record count of 111 but Pulborough managed a count of 293 on Jan 12

Black-tailed Godwit: Following the move of coastal birds in the Solent area inland it would seem that a few newcomers to the harbours this week may have come from further afield

Spotted Redshank: We may also have had some newcomers to swell the numbers of these - at Emsworth a change of behaviour in staying at Nore Barn for the high tide roost may have been influenced by the arrival of a new bird that has not yet found that it is normal to fly to the Thorney Deeps when the tide rises, while at Lymington a count of 13 there may reflect new arrivals pushing up the site total from 10 to 13 on Jan 15

Tawny Owl: The arrival of the snow pushed up my yearlist to a paltry 73 when I was walking down the Billy Trail past Wade Court here in Havant - from the grounds I could hear on-going scolding of something by a Jay and a few minutes later, while trying to see what the fuss was about, I had a brief glimpse of a Tawny Owl flying over the lake in the grounds.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: First report of drumming came from the Arundel Wildfowl reserve on Jan 7 with further reports from Durlston on Jan 10 and 14

Woodlark: This is another species being seen in unusual places thanks to the snow. On Jan 18 one turned up at the Eastleigh Lakeside site (along with 52 Skylarks) while in Dorset that day 13 birds were spread over four unexpected sites. On Jan 19 one turned up at the Sinah Warren site on south Hayling and was still there the next day while it or another flew along the north shore of Portsmrouth Harbour. On Jan 20 one appeared on the Milton reclaimed land on the west shore of Langstone Harbour.

Skylark: On Jan 18 Dorset had the following reports - 1658 over Radipole, 850 Durlston CP, 200 Portland Bill, 300 Southdown Ridge, 125 Chetnole, 110 Lodmoor, 50 Briantspuddle, 45 Langton Matravers, 30 Abbotsbury - plus five more reports from Hampshire

Waxwing: Still being reported from Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent

Blackbird: Jan 15 brought the first report of song from Durston although the first of the year had been clained at Emsworth on Jan 4

Fieldfare: Plenty of these have moved south this week. Over on the continent 4691 were recorded at one Netherlands site on Jan 15 and by Jan 18 there were at least 1000 in Dorset with small flocks scattered all along the south coast (we even had one in Emsworth!)

Redwing: On Jan 18 there were 107 in Portsmouth Dockyard plus 250 at Holly Hill near Warsash and on Jan 19 at Sinah Common on Hayling there were at least 200. These were not settled flocks which stayed feeding and roosting in one spot but more like the remanants of a defeated army fleeing with occasional pauses to pick up essential food where they could find it.

Mistle Thrush: These are not common in Hampshire nowadays but on Jan 20 there were 30 or more at Browndown near Gosport and at least four other sightings in south Hampshire that day with a flock of 15 at Avington on the River Itchen on Jan 18

Pallas Warbler: The bird at the Eversley gravel pits on the Hant/Berks border was still there on Jan 17

Hawfinch: The number at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey shut up this week to a count of 30 birds on Jan 17

Foreign Birds: A very unexpected find on the coast of Cumbria on Jan 6 was a long-dead White-tailed Tropicbird but for live exotic birds Steve Copsey is still giving us great value in pictures and information from the Antarctic via http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/ Not only can we see closeups of Wandering Albatross and Southern Giant Petrel thanks to being fed with Yorkshire Pudding and Tuna Steaks but can also learn why the Wandering Albatross often has orangey contamination on its otherwise spotless white plumage - to appreciate how this comes about you must understand how these 'tube nose' species accumulate salt in their noses to avoid ingesting too much of it. When the nose gets full the Albatross 'sneezes' to eject it, a mechanism that works well enough for other species but the bill shape of this species tends to cause a blow-back of the 'snot' so that it lands on and sticks to the plumage on the side of the head where the bird cannot clean it off with either bill or claws

INSECTS

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Butterflies:

Notable sightings this week:

Two very unusual reports this week - one is of a Small White which emerged from its pupa, buried in a compost heap in a Christchurch garden on Jan 9 (and which is I think alive in captivity), and a female Holly Blue which also emerged naturally very early and is thought to have died from excessive rain before it was found

Species reported this week:

Red Admiral: four Hampshire reports this week on Jan 9 and 11

Painted Lady: Now five reports between Jan 4 and 11 - three from Sussex and one each from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Peacock: What is thought to be one of this species was flying around in Portsmouth Guildhall during a concert on Jan 17

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

1524 (Common Plume), Emmelina monodactyla found in Dorset on JAN 13 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=592

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1524.php

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Hampshire on JAN 14 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

1932 Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia found in Kent on JAN 10 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5099

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1932.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Kent on JAN 10 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

Other Insects

Selected sightings this week:

Moth eggs/larvae found this week: On Jan 14, while moth trapping in Botley Woods near Fareham, Tony Tindale was shown a collection of eggs laid by a Vapourer Moth around the cocoon from which she had just emerged to be mated by a keen male before she had left her 'birthplace'. The females are wingless and their sole role in life is to hang around until a male come be, then to mate and dies. Presumably was already loaded with eggs which only had to received fertilisation from a male before they could be laid. See http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/2013/01/14/vapourer-moth-egg-batch-and-cocoon-on-fallen-leaf/ for Tony Tindale's account and photos of this find

A second find reported on Jan 16 from Dorset (without a photo) is of a first instar Oak Eggar caterpillar but you can see what this looks like by going to http://www.ukleps.org/morphology.html selecting the top line which says 'Click here for the main index' then selecting 'English Common Names' and scrolling down that list of species names to 'Oak Eggar' which will bring up pictures of the egg and developing caterpillar through to the pupa and adult moth.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Lesser Celandine: These are now appearing in several places including the banks of the Lymbourne Stream in Havant where they failed to be first this year.

Common Chickweed: First flowers seen on Jan 17 in St Faith's Church Yard (for photos see my Cemeteries page at http://ralph-hollins.net/Cemeteries.htm

Herb Robert: still flowering in Havant that day (Jan 17)

Red Clover: A second flower head (after the first on Jan 11) seen in Havant on Jan 15

Germander Speedwell: A most unexpected plant in flower at the Warblington Cemetery on on Jan 17 (photo also on the Cemeteries page)

Elder: First leafshoots opening since Jan 15

Butterbur: Brian Fellows reports that the plants at Brook Meadow in Emsworth were already starting to push up through the ground on Jan 13

Winter Heliotrope: Worth mentioning this again as it has been used as a nectar source for three Painted Lady butterflies at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, on Jan 11

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Humpback Whale: The recent TV Winterwatch programme will probably have made many people aware for the first time that these can occasionally be seen off Ireland. Last month I heard of two off the Netherlands (perhaps a mother and young calf) seen on Dec 4 and this week there is another report from the same site though of only one seen. For good pictures and facts go to http://www.arkive.org/humpback-whale/megaptera-novaeangliae/

Grey Seal: Common Seals are resident and frequently seen in our harbours but Grey Seals do occasionally show up and one was reported off Black Point at the entrance to Chichester Harbour on Jan 12

Water Voles: Until the snow fell on Jan 18 there had been at least seven sightings of these voles in the R Ems at Brook Meadow with several reports from elsewhere in Hampshire and I suspect that even if snow lies for some time (which is unlikely) they will be out gather food on most days (though often not seen)

Hare: Four were seen on the Isle of Wight West High Down area on Jan 11 and I fear that this being the only report I have seen for the week is a sad indication of the declining numbers of these creatures over recent years. I can remember time when they could be seen regularly on Farlington Marshes and Thorney Island - nowadays it seem you are unlikley to seem them even on the Stansted estate.

ENDWEEK

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Wildlife diary and news for Jan 7 - 13 (Week 2 of 2013)

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BIRDS

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Divers: The big flock of Red Throated off the Netherlands numbered 1780 on Jan 10 and there were 350 off Dungeness on Jan 7, 45 off Reculver on the north Kent coast on Jan 9, and 35 off Folkestone on Jan 8 but further west numbers were smaller (just one off Titchfield Haven area with no double figure counts from elsewhere on the south coast). Black-throated were only seen at four sites - all singles except for four in the Penzance area of Cornwall. Great Northern favoured Hampshire with four records (max three birds at Langstone Harbour entrance on Jan 9) but Falmouth in Cornwall had the most exciting record with the re-appearance of the Pacific Diver which had been in the Penzance area of Cornwall from Dec 5 to 13.

Grebes: A Little Grebe at Peter Pool in Emsworth was showing the first signs of breeding plumage on Jan 10 and on Jan 7 I had heard one 'trilling' its spring song the Thorney Island Little Deeps but Great Crested were still in winter mode with rafts of 3500 feeding off Dungeness, 146 seen at Dawlish Bay in Devon and 105 in Southampton Water on Jan 6 reducing to 81 off Hill Head on Jan 9. The only Red-necked seen this week were 2 at Falmouth in Cornwall on Jan 9. Portland Harbour had 4 Slavonian on Jan 8, 3 were at Rye Harbour on Jan 10 and 2 were in Langstone Harbour on Jan 6 (with one there on Jan 8. The highest count of Black-necked was 21 off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Jan 6 when Portland Harbour had 20 and Falmouth has 14

Little Egret: At the end of last year I was convinced that Egrets had virtually abandoned Langstone Mill Pond as a night roost and was not expecting to see more than half a dozen birds there until the urge to nest brought them back (last year I first noticed birds at nests on Feb 23), so it was a surprise to hear that Nik Knight had found 26 birds arriving to roost on Jan 11. When he reached the pond at sunset only three birds were present but as he was interested in the possibility of seeing bats rather than birds he stayed until half an hour after sunset and in that time 23 more birds arrived so once again the birds have overturned my prediction of their behaviour. Perhaps one factor influencing their behaviour has been the weather - a period of cold weather in November and early December drove the Egrets inland but when the weather became milder (especially here in the south) for the second half of December (see the Met Office monthly summary at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2012/december.html) this brought a number of the Egrets back to the coast - I noticed a significant number back in the Langstone area but did not know where they were roosting at night (maybe at the Thorney Little Deeps roost?). Nik's discovery that they are still using the Langstone Pond site, but staying out later than usual is consistent with the reduced number of daylight hours in the winter - to get enough food to keep them going they have to stay out until darkness prevents them feeding and thus they do not return to the trees until after dark. It will be interesting to see how the birds re-act to the predicted cold spell that should start as this week ends.

Great White Egret: The Bickerly Common/Blashford Lakes regular remains but we have had at least one new visitor this week, seen on seaside rocks at Ferring (Worthing area) on Jan 4 and at the Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne on Jan 6

Glossy Ibis: The Bickerley Common bird near Ringwood was still present on Jan 12 but on Jan 9 what was thought to be that bird appeared at dusk in the Christchurch Harbour area suggesting that it might be looking for a new home.

Spoonbill: The Poole Harbour flock (17 birds)were seen together at Arne on Jan 6. A few others remain in the extreme west - 2 seen in Cornwall on Jan 4 and 3 on the Scillies on Jan 9

Brent Goose: As usual the return passage of Brent has started long before we see any drop in the numbers in the Solent harbours - on Jan 11 Dungeness recorded 1100 flying east, clearly heading back for their breeding sites, and on Jan 12 Dungeness saw 3,950 follow them (a January record for Dungeness), presumably that figure included 1675 seen at Rye Harbour and 1225 seen at Hastings. A clue as to where these birds come from was supplied by Matthew Silk on the Sussex Ornithological Soc sightings page where he wrote .. "Whilst its tempting to suggest this early movement is caused by the warm winter weather conditions, I think it is likely that there is another phenomenon at play here (possibly with both having an effect). All brent populations had a very poor breeding season in the Arctic last summer and this resulted in them returning to their regular staging sites much earlier than normal. I've just returned from Arcachon (close to Bordeaux) in SW France which is the most important wintering site for dark-bellied brents. There they had numbers much higher than normal (60,000) and with numbers peaking early in early December (with only a few thousand left currently). It seems that due to numbers returning so early in the winter in such high numbers, the eel grass beds they forage on will be exhausted forcing them to return to spring staging sites where they will feed on grassland/saltmarsh earlier than expected. From what I know birds in these French sites don't move onto grassland/arable in the same way as at English sites forcing this return movement." I was not aware of the number present at Arachon, nor that nearly all of them have already left, but I was aware that this early movement is not unusual. Last year it started on Jan 14 with 365 passing Dungeness followed on Jan 15 with larger numbers seen all along the Sussex coast (e.g. 777 passing Selsey) and as far west at Portland where 50 were noted heading east. Almost certainly these birds came from the west coast of France and for some reason crossed the Channel to follow the English south coast to Dover, recrossing the sea to follow the north German coast towards the Baltic. Last year's patten of movement was of intermittent bursts of passage (possibly governed by weather and/or food supply) - the first burst on Jan 14/15 was followed by the next on Jan 25/26 and then others on Feb 18 and 29 before the English birds started to join in. Another important factor determining how many birds head east on any date is that the great majority of adults are this year untrammeled by having to move at a pace dictated by young birds which may need to spend longer feeding at each stop on the journey.

Red-breasted Goose: The Farlington Marshes bird was present there on Jan 12 but on Jan 13 it was not mentioned in the Hampshire sightings but what I assume to be that bird appeared in the Sussex sightings which said that it was seen heading east past Selsey Bill at 9:15am with a party of Brent but returned west at 9:40am, again with some Brent (a separate note gives a total of 64 Brent going east but only 10 going west so it is not clear if the Red-breasted bird was accompanied by the same party of Brent on each transit)

Mandarin duck: Last autumn I was made aware of the growing Mandarin population in Britain when reports of a resident flock of 80 or more birds at Hembury Woods in south Devon led me to investigate the overall situation in Britain. I was reminded of this by reports of 27 Mandarin at Folkeston in Kant

Mallard ducklings: The first report of fluffy ducklings for this year came from Thurlestone Bay in south Devon where a family of five were seen with their mother on Jan 5

Long-tailed Duck: In addition to birds seen in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall this week brought a sighting from a new site - Puckpool Point near Ryde on the Isleof Wight though it was ony a one day wonder of a single female seen on Jan 8 only.

Goshawk: One flew north over the Keyhaven area near Lymington on Jan 4 - possibly an immigrant arriving to swell the Hampshire population?

Peregrine: An unusual observation at Durlston on Jan 10 was of a Peregrine catching a Wood Pigeon and bringing it back to the cliffs to enjoy a meal only to have the meal taken from it by a couple of Ravens

Quail: Not a species that is expected at this time of year but one was seen at South Brent in Devon on Jan 9 by a farmer who at first thought he was watching a Snipe - presumably a bird that had escaped from captivity (perhaps from a farm which keeps them to produce eggs or a Butterfly Farm where they are employed to destroy spiders and other insects which might predate the caterpillars and pupae of the butterflies and moths) In 2008 one was seen flying over the Sussex Downs on Jan 15 and in 2003 one was seen briefly at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Jan 31

Avocet: A group of 7 were seen at Farlington Marshes and 14 were there on Jan 13 but no reports on other days this week tending to confirm the impression that birds seen there are not winter resident but are still on passage to winter quarters further west. It is more difficult to work out if the birds seen in the Thorney Channel and Nutbourne Bay on the east side of Thorney Island are resident there but a flock of 32 were seen there on Jan 9 (the only two previous reports for this year from this site were of 27 on Jan 1 and 16 on Jan 3)

Purple Sandpiper: The number at Southsea Castle shot up to a peak of 19 birds on Jan 7 with 15 seen there on Jan 9

Med Gull: Maybe these are starting to assemble in pre-breeding flocks - this week brought the first substantial counts of the year with 816 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Jan 5 and 35 on the Lymington shore on Jan 9. A note of just one at Christchurch Harbour on Jan 9 was accompanied by the comment that the absence of fields full of pigs in the lower Avon Valley this winter has greatly reduced the number of Med Gulls in the general area

Auks: Portland reported an estimated 25,000 on the sea there on Jan 9 and this seems to be part of a surge of these birds heading east up the English Channel as they, like the Brent, feel the urge to return to their breeding sites.The number of Guillemots passing Dungeness was 750 on Jan 4, 4000 on Jan 7 and At Durlston around 200 Guillemots already most of them in breeding plumage were back on their nest ledges by Dec 20.

Stock Dove: These are usually quite easy to find around the Havant area in winter flocks but so far I have not seen any this year despite reports of 'many' in north Kent and a flock of 13 in Devon (and no doubt many more which have gone unreported elsewhere). The only local report I have seen is of at least one in the Farlington Marshes 'Bushes' are seen on Jan 2.

Kingfisher: I am also still without Kingfisher on my yearlist but I am encouraged to see that one was at its usual spot on the Brockhampton Stream alongside Budds Farm on Jan 7 and that there have been sightings in the Emsworth area on both Jan 10 and 13.

Skylark: The first report of Skylark song for the year comes from the Alresford area near Winchester on Jan 8 and I had a small flock of 25+ at Warblington on Jan 7 but I have not heard the song nor seen a flock of 260 birds that was reported in Devon on Jan 9.

Waxwing: These are still being seen in northern Britain and across the south of England with a slight increase in Hampshire sightings this week - 50 remain at North Camp in Farnborough with at least 5 in Ringwood and 7 in the Botley Woods north of Fareham plus singles in the Basingstoke and Hartley Witney areas of north east Hampshire.

Dunnock: One has been heard in full song at Emsworth on at least two occasions recently but this song has not yet become widespread.

Blackbird: This song has also been reported from Emsworth but from nowhere else so far.

Mistle Thrush: Full song was reported from the Froxfield area near Petersfield but from nowhere else so far.

Lesser Whitethroat: A bird seems to be wintering in Cornwall, seen at The Lizard on Jan 5.

Pallas Warbler: A bird which has been seen in the Eversley area on the Hants/Berks border on Jan 4, 7, and 9 and reported as a Yellow-browed Warbler was re-identified as a Pallas Warbler on Jan 12.

Nuthatch: One was seen in the garden of the old Farmhouse (east of Wade Court at Langstone) on Jan 10 and will hopefully stay in the area - the species has in the past bred at Wade Court and more recently has been a regular sight during the spring further up Wade Court Road (near North Close).

Vagrants: In this case the vagrants were birders out on their New Year's Day birdraces (for which it is no longer mandatory to turn out on Jan 1 - you can chose your date any time within the first two weeks of January). The highest score recorded in Sussex was 95 with the next six runners up soring between 92 and 59. The Isle of Wight was way ahead of these scores with Robin Attrill scoring 119 but Hampshire poved the clear winner with three separate teams all scoring 121 followed by runners up on 111 and 98.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Red Admiral: Three singles seen in Kent and East Sussex all on Jan 1 and one more seen in the Scillies on Jan 4

Peacock: One seen on Thorney Island on Jan

Speckled Wood: An extremely early emergence on Jan 1 reported at Penryn near Falmouth in Cornwall. Unlike the Red Admiral which seems to struggle through our winters without hibernating properly and the Peacock which can be roused from hibernation at any time by human actions (fetching in firewood from a store in which the butterfly has settled or turning on the heating in a guest room which is not regularly occupied), the Speckled Wood spends the winter as a chrysalis from which it cannot emerge successfully until nature has completed the task of transforming a caterpillar into a butterfly. Seeking confirmation of this report from the Butterfly Conservation national website at http://butterfly-conservation.org/52/first-sightings-2013.html I see that not only have they accepted this report but also have first sightings of Painted Lady on Jan 1 in four counties but also Small Tortoiseshells in Dorset and Sussex on Jan 1 and a Comma in Kent on Jan 8 plus a Brimstone in Bedfordshire on Jan 1.

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

1044 (Rusty Oak Button), Acleris ferrugana found in Kent on JAN 06 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=4972

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1044.php

1047 (Viburnum Button), Acleris schalleriana found in Kent on JAN 07 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5018

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1047.php

1053 (Sallow Button), Acleris hastiana found in Kent on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5580

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1053.php

1769 Spruce Carpet Thera britannica found in Dorset on JAN 09 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=696

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1769.php

1771 Juniper Carpet Thera juniperata found in Dorset on JAN 07 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1870

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1771.php

1775 Mottled Grey Colostygia multistrigaria found in Dorset on JAN 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6191

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1775.php

1799 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata found in Dorset on JAN 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1813

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1799.php

1932 Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia found in Kent on JAN 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5099

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1932.php

2232 Black Rustic Aporophyla nigra found in Dorset on JAN 07 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6029

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2232.php

2256 The Satellite Eupsilia transversa found in Kent on JAN 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1797

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2256.php

2258 The Chestnut Conistra vaccinii found in Kent on JAN 07 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1105

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2258.php

2264 Yellow-line Quaker Agrochola macilenta found in Dorset on JAN 07 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1106

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2264.php

2385 Small Mottled Willow Spodoptera exigua found in Dorset on JAN 05 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2805

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2385.php

Other Insects

Large White butterfly caterpillars: On Dec 28 a cluster of these caterpillars was found on Purple Brocolli plants in an Eastbourne garden where the finder was more concerned for the survival of the butterflie than of the Cabbages and moved the plants with the caterpillars into a greenhouse. Now a similar report comes on Jan 10 from Clanfield near Waterlooville but with no comment on the finders concern for the survival of the butterflies

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Lesser Celandine: Seen flowering in two new locations this week - several in the ditch beside the Havant Bill Trail north of the A27 bridge and one plant by the roundabout where you enter the Broadmarsh area from the A27 - this plant was of the large form which has leaves growing from the flowering stems.

Hairy Bittercress: A single first flower seen in Havant on Jan 8

Common Whitlowgrass: The first flowers started to appear on the plants in Waterloo Road, Havant (north side) where it passes the Prince George St carpark in which the Grey Alder catkins are now fully open. By Jan 10 at least 20 Whitlowgrass plants were in flower

Common Mallow: I found my first flowering plant at Broadmarsh on Jan 11

Red Clover: Just one fresh flowerhead seen on Jan 11 on the Harts Farm Way roadside

Pellitory of the Wall: A few plants still flowering by the front door of Slipper Mill House (Slipper Mill Road) at Emsworth on Jan 7

Primrose: The first flowers on what were probably garden escape plants were seen in Emsworth on Jan 6 and by the eastern entrance to Farlington Marshes on Jan 11

Greater Periwinkle: The first flowers on the Oxyloba variety (which has thin, well separated, propeller like petals of a much deeper blue than the normal plant) were seen in the Warblington area on Jan 7

Sharp-leaved Fluellen: On Jan 7 I came across a single plant of this in the Warblington Farm field behing Conigar Point and on lifting up several of the long prostrate stems I could see remnants of recent flowers!

Field Woundwort: Also in the Conigar Point field on Jan 7 I found a single fresh plant of this with flower buds about to open

Ox-eye Daisy: On Jan 1 I was pretty sure I had seen flowers of this beside the cycleway passing Broadmarsh but could not refind them on my return past the same point so I was pleased to clearly see three plants with flowers when I walked past the same spot on Jan 11

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Sika Deer: The appearance of two Sika at Durlston on Jan 10, presumably from the population resident in the Arne area on the west shore of Poole Harbour, was the first sighting there this year but Sika are widespread and thriving in Dorset. See http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A23502926 regarding the Dorset population which started with introductions to Wareham and Brownsea Island around 1895. For identification and general facts about the species see http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Sika_Deer

White Rabbit: On Jan 5 Bob Chapman saw a Black Rabbit at Farlington Marshes and put a photo of it on his blog (see http://solentreserves.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/black-bunny/ ) and also mentioned that a non-albino White Rabbit was resident in the north east corner of the reserve. When I visited the reserve on Jan 11 my last observation, as I was walking along the eastern sea wall with the exit gate already in sight, was a clear view of this White Rabbit in the base of the hedge separating the seawall from the marshy area north of the 'Hay field' and south of the 'Slip field' adjacent to the cycleway and A27. A man who happened to be sitting nearby on a wooden bench told me that he had seen three different White Rabbits in this area recently.

Pipistrelle Bat: About half an hour after sunset on Jan 11 Nik Knight saw a Pipistrelle Bat flying over the Lymbourne Stream beside the Billy Trail near Wade Court in Havant. This follows a sighting of one in Brighton just before sunset on Dec 17. Normally bats would be in hibernation at both these dates but they do wake up periodically, usually on warm days, and take a short daytime flight to 'stretch their wings' and defecate before returning to sleep for another month or more. The December sighting sounds typical of such a winter flight but the current one, even though it was following a warm day which may have roused the bat from sleep, was taken in the dark, and suggests that the bat thought spring had come and it should resume feeding and active life. I have asked Nik for his comments on whether bats may, like Squirrels, be giving up the habit of hibernating and are starting to remain active through the winter, but he has not had time to reply yet.

Marsh Frog: One was heard 'croaking' on the north Kent Oare Marshes on Jan 3, much earlier in the year than they are normally heard. Like the Bats the warm spell seems to have convinced them that Spring is here but I suspect they will soon be silenced by forecast frost and snow (especially in Kent).

Fungi: This week has brought to my notice the presence on my lawn of a fungus I have never seen before and of a type that I was not aware of in that it grows, not on wood, soil or rotting plant material, but on living Moss. I found a good match for it on page 265 of Roger Phillips book on Mushrooms and other fungi of Britain and Europe which has been my favoured guide since the early 1980. The name he uses is Leptoglossum retirugum but that name has now been superseded in the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group database by Arrhenia retiruga and there are six Hampshire records for it scattered across the county (see http://www.hampshirefungi.org.uk/fungi.php?name=Leptoglossum+retirugum ). By going to this link you can see a photo of the species (click on the thumbnail above the distribution map but be aware that the examples which I found are not so pure white in colour - more brownish white) and you can also access the national records of the species which show the various species names under which the species has been originally recorded (Cantharellus retirugus, Dictyolus retirugus). I hope to get photos of what I found on my lawn on my Diary page next week.

ENDWEEK

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Wildlife diary and news for Dec 31 - Jan 6 (Week 1 of 2013)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: 41 Red-throated were off Sandwich Bay on Jan 4 with 9 in Christchurch Harbour on Dec 31 and 7 in Stokes Bay at Gosport on Jan 2 but for numbers the Netherlands had 2768 in one flock on Dec 29 and 2842 on Jan 4. The Netherlands was also the only place to report more than one Black-throated (and they only had 2 on Jan 2) but England had singles at ten sites including Nutbourne Bay in Chichester Harbour, Hayling Bay and Stokes Bay. Top scoring English site for Great Northern was Portland Harbour with 8 followed by 5 in Mounts Bay (Cornwall), Chichester Harbour entrance with 3 and Langstone Harbour entrance with 2

Grebes: On Jan 3 there were 6238 Great Crested off the Netherlands (2276 in one raft) and on Jan 1 Dungeness recorded 1260 with 210 at Sandwich Bay and 110 in Southampton Water off Netley on Jan 5 (the latter raft had built up during the week from 42 on Dec 30 with 50 on Jan 1). Jan 3 brought a potential total of 14 Red-necked at five Netherlands sites and on that day there were singles at the Chichester Harbour entrance and off Lymington. Portland Harbour had 7 Slavonian on Jan 1 when one was in Langstone Harbour with another 2 at Selsey Bill. Jan 4 saw 3 off Lymington and Jan 5 saw 2 in Southampton Water. With no reports from the Swanage/Poole Harbour area Langstone Harbour regained the lead with 14 Black Necked on Jan 5 closely followed by 13 in Portland Harbour on Jan 1

Shag: One was diving by the Hayling Ferry in the mouth of Langstone Harbour on Jan 1 and what was probably a different bird was in the Chichester Harbour entrance on Jan 4

Bittern: Singles seen at seven sites, including Titchfield Haven, during the week with 2 at the Blashford Lakes

Great White Egret: What used to be thought of as the Blashford Lakes regular now spends all its time at Bickerley Common, south of Ringwood and on the west bank of the river. This is not an area that I am familiar with so I was interest to read the account of a visit there by Mark Cutts and Tony Tindale (two of the Three Amigos) at http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/2013/01/05/glossy-ibis-at-bickerley-common-hampshire/ From the heading you will gather that they also saw the Glossy Ibis but I was more interested to learn that the birds are at a Nature Reserve set up by the Raymond Brown group based in Ringwood (presumably after working out the minerals in their quarries there) I have often seen their lorries but have now visited their website at http://www.raymondbrowngroup.co.uk/ to learn more about them

Glossy Ibis: The bird which has been at Bickerley Common since Dec 2 is still there but took a day off on Jan 1 to fly south to Christchurch Harbour (where the Avon joins the Stour as it reaches the sea)

Spoonbill: The flock of around 15 which has been in Poole Harbour all year was still there on Jan 1

Bewick's Swan: There was still one family of four in the Adur Valley on Jan 3 but it looks as if the others that have been there are now in the Pulbough area where 14 were seen on Jan 1

Whooper Swan: Just one in the Dorset Frome valley seems to be the only one in southern England this week with no more than 14 at three sites on the continent

Red-breasted Goose: The Farlington Marshes bird remains in the area but unpredictably flies to various sites in Portsmouth

Pintail: A total of 230 was at the Blashford Lakes on Jan 1 and small groups of two or three have been seen in passing at various sites including the Emsworth shore but I have heard no more about the 400 that were seen in the Avon valley on Dec 27. Jan 5 brought a welcome sign that more may soon be seen in the Langstone and Chichester Harbours when 22 turned up at Farlington Marshes.

Scaup: In addition to the small flock of up to 9 that have been in the Abbotsbury area of the Fleet in Dorset one or two have been seen on several days this week in Langstone Harbour though the plumage of one bird has puzzled experienced birders - however on at least two days they were seen on the Lagoon at the Hayling Oysterbeds allowing close examination

Eider: Two have been in Langstone Harbour this week and maybe the same two have been cruising around the east Solent

Goldeneye: Numbers are at last increasing with 11 reported in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Jan 2 and up to 3 have been in Langstone Harbour

Smew: Four were at Rye Harbour on Dec 29 and on Jan 5 a redhead was on the River Test at Romsey

Goosander: A male was at a new site (Warnham pond) at Horsham on Jan 2 and the night roost at Bramshill Plantation on the Hants Berks border was up to 21 birds at dusk on Jan 3

Goshawk: One of the luckiest New Year's Day sightings was a Goshawk seen (by an experienced observer) over Fleet at 08:15 when it became only the third species on his daylist after Robin and Blackbird

Common Crane: Another unexpected species on a Sussex birder's NYD list was a single Crane seen on Walland Marsh (just in Kent a little east of Rye)

Avocet: Proof the these have not left the Exe estuary came with a count of 400 there on Dec 30. On Dec 31 a flock of 20 were in the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) and on Jan 1 a flock of 27 were at the north end of the Thorney Channel in Chichester Harbour. Langstone Harbour has had a flock of up to 16 in the Broom Channel which runs up the west side of Farlington Marshes before becoming the Portscreek channel

Knot: On Dec 30 there were estimated to be 8000 on the north Kent coast at Seasalter and on Jan 2 a flock of 150 were in the Emsworth Channel visible from Emsworth with 180 at Rye Harbour on Jan 4

Purple Sandpiper: 12 were at Shoreham Fort on Dec 30 and 11 at Newhaven Pier on Dec 31 while 7 were at Southsea Castle on Jan 5

Jack Snipe: One was in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Dec 30 and two were in the Itchen Valley country park on Jan 2

Black-tailed Godwit: Dec 30 found more than 700 in the Exe estaury and Jan 3 brought a count of 3000 from the Avon valley south of Ringwood but none seemed to be left in the Solent Harbours (one seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Jan 1 may have been injured and unable to fly off with the rest)

Bar-tailed Godwit: 292 were seen on the Langstone Harbour south west shore on Jan 4 sending me to check the sort of figure to be expected here in January - On 14 Jan 2012 the WeBS count for Pilsey was 500, in early Feb 225+ were in the south of Langstone Harbour and the March WeBS count for Pilsey was 360

Whimbrel: Single wintering birds seen this week were at Redbridge (the top of Southampton Water), in Fishbourne Channel near Chichester, and at Farlington Marshes.

Common Sandpiper: One seen in the Redbridge/Lower Test Marshes area and 4 together by the Itchen at Riverside Park in Southampton

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird remains faithful to its Gosport base

Common Gull: Numbers have gone up everywhere along the south coast both on the shore and inland - e.g. 500 in Portsmouth Harbour on Jan 1 and 400 at Exton in the Meon Valley that day

Kittiwake: We are also seeing more of these with 500 off Portland on Dec 29 when 56 were at Milford near Lymington. On Jan 1 Selsey had 46

Waxwing: The flocks of 100 or more remain in the north of England but a good number of small flocks have been moving through Sussex this week with very few in Hampshire - the only reports I have seen for this county are of 30+ at Farnborough, 10 in the New Forest and 3 at Basingstoke. On Jan 1 the Isle of Wight had just 3 birds enabling Robin Attrill to score what was probably the highest daylist of 119 species

Song Thrush: These have been been heard singing daily since Christmas Day and by Jan 5 a walk down the Langbrook Stream from Havant to Budds Farm gave me the impression that one was singing every 200 yards. As well as Robin, Woodpigeon and Collared Dove are now in full song with Blue Tit and Starling heard daily plus occasional bursts from Great and Coal Tit but so far Brian Fellows is the only person to have heard full Dunnock song. In appropriate habitat Cetti's Warbler is now a regular singer

Dartford Warbler: So far these have been under no threat from the cold and one has been seen this week in the Point Field at Farlington Marshes (along with two Stonechat)

Chiffchaff: Surprisingly few reports of wintering birds - just three this week - one at the Lymington Marshes, one at Church Norton (Pagham Harbour) and one at St Catherine's Hill near Winchester

Firecrest: Five reports of these this week including one at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and one at the main road end of Mill Lane in Langstone

Twite: The first I have heard of in Hampshire this winter was at Longwood Warren (near the foot of Cheesefoot Head east of Winchester) on Jan 4

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies:

Surprisingly there were reports this week

Species reported this week:

Red Admiral: Seen at seven different sites between Dec 23 and Jan 3 (six of them in Hampshire)

Painted Lady: Seen at four sites - one in Hampshire, two in Sussex and one in the Isle of Wight. One seen on Jan 5 was said to be flying straight and fast as if on migration

Small Tortoiseshell: One at Shoreham on Jan 1

Peacock: One at Durlston in Dorset on Jan 1

(Skip to Other Insects)

Moths:

Selected sightings this week:

Note - I assume that readers are as ignorant of moths as I am and so I attempt to provide background info about each species through links to sources of expert knowledge. For each species two links are given and a third source is available. The first is to the UKMoths entry for that species giving one or more photos (if more than one thumbnail is shown clicking it will cause it to replace the large image) plus background info at the national level. The second is to the HantsMoths entry giving similar information at the Hampshire county level - clicking the Phenology, etc boxes gives charts relating to records in the Hampshire database and the meaning of the colours in the Flightime Guide can be found at http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/flying_tonight.php

Now that a Sussex Moths site is available you can also see the Sussex status of a species by doing the following

1. Open a new TAB alongside the one you are using

2. Copy the http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/ URL into the new TAB address bar and press ENTER to open the Sussex Moth site

3. When you come to a species in my list below for which you want to check the Sussex status

4 Refer to the second line of my entry for the species (the link to the Hantsmoths site) and obtain the moth number (preceding the '.php') from it taking care to ignore any leading zeroes but to include any terminal letter suffiix (e.g. from .../0366a.php you get a moth number 366a )

5. Now switch to the Sussex Moths tab

6. Click on the box saying "Name or B&F?" under the Species Search heading on the left side of the page

7. Enter the Moth Number (properly known as the B&F or Bradley and Fletcher number) in this box, then press ENTER - this will bring up the data for the species in the right hand side of the page

Species recorded this week:

0461 (Variable Smudge), Ypsolopha ustella found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5036

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0461.php

0692 (Ruddy Flat-body), Agonopterix subpropinquella found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2483

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0692.php

0998 Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana found in Dorset on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=4388

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/0998.php

1045 (Rusty Birch Button), Acleris notana found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3452

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1045.php

1052 (Dark-streaked Button), Acleris umbrana found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5427

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1052.php

1053 (Sallow Button), Acleris hastiana found in Dorset on JAN 04 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5580

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1053.php

1342 (Narrow-winged Grey), Eudonia a found in Dorset on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5073

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1342.php

1395 Rusty Dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis found in Dorset on JAN 04 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=181

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1395.php

1398 Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella found in Dorset on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1793

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1398.php

1497 (Beautiful Plume), Amblyptilia acanthadactyla found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6337

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1497.php

1524 (Common Plume), Emmelina monodactyla found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=592

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1524.php

1760 Red-green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata found in Dorset on JAN 01 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=4948

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1760.php

1775 Mottled Grey Colostygia multistrigaria found in Dorset on JAN 04 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6191

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1775.php

1799 Winter Moth Operophtera brumata found in Dorset on JAN 04 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1813

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1799.php

1862 Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=123

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1862.php

1926 Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5098

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1926.php

1935 Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=212

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/1935.php

2091 Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon found in Dorset on JAN 04 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=226

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2091.php

2190 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica found in Dorset on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2001

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2190.php

2243 Early Grey Xylocampa areola found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=6184

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2243.php

2259 Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula found in Dorset on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1112

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2259.php

2385 Small Mottled Willow Spodoptera exigua found in Dorset on JAN 02 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2805

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2385.php

2441 Silver Y Autographa gamma found in Dorset on JAN 03 - see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=1134

For the HantsMoths info go to http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2441.php

Other Insects

Large White butterfly caterpillars: 33 active on Purple Broccoli plants at Eastbourne on Dec 28 (and moved to the shelter of a Greenhouse)

Beetles: Graeme Lyons noticed numerous small beetles of several species in flight at the Sussex Wildlife Trust Henfield HQ on Jan 5

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Plants seen in flower this week were:-

Creeping Buttercup, Lesser Celandine, Charlock, Hedge Mustard, Shepherd's Purse, Sweet Violet, Herb Robert, Gorse, Common Nettle, Small Nettle, Ivy, Hazel, Grey Alder, Dog's Mercury, Sun Spurge, Cow Parsley, Hogweed, Wild Carrot, Ivy Leaved Toadflax, Common Field Speedwell, Red Deadnettle, White Deadnettle, Water Forget-me-not (single last flower!), Garden Forget-me-not, Japanese Honeysuckle, Oxford Ragwort, Groundsel, Ox-eye Daisy, Daisy, Winter Heliotrope, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sowthistle, Butcher's Broom (35 Species)

OTHER WILDLIFE

(Skip to Endweek)

Fox: An unexpected bonus during my New Year's Day birdwatch was to have a very healthy looking red Fox sunbathing at the edge of a field in which I was watching a Green Sandpiper around a pool of flood water.

Humpback Whale: After two reports of sightings off the Netherlands on Dec 4 and 20 there was another report on Jan 4

Water Vole: The first to be seen in the River Ems at Brook Meadow this year was reported on Jan 3 but this date was beaten at Pulborough Brooks on Jan 1 and at Woodmill on the River Itchen (northern fringe of Southampton) on Jan 2

Fungi: Velvet Shank toadstools were seen on a tree overhanging the Langbrook Stream where Mill Lane meets the Langstone South Moors on Jan 5. Jew's Ears (aka Jelly Ears) were seen at Durlston on Dec 31

ENDWEEK

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