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WEEKLY SUMMARY

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Wildlife diary and news for Sep 28 - Oct 4 (Week 39 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

Highlights

Little Egret numbers along the south coast peak at this time of year and I continue to be intrigued by their choice of night roost sites - we have two sites in the Langstone-Emsworth area both of which are visible to an airborne bird in the area and sometimes those that have settled at the Langstone site are disturbed and change their minds about where to spend the night, flying off en masse to the alternative site near the Thorney Little Deeps. This week we have news of 174 birds using the Thorney site with 120+ known to have come to Langstone a few days earlier. Oct 4 brought the first big flock of 400 Brent into Chichester Harbour and other wildfowl numbers are increasing (e.g. 450 Wigeon and 25 Pintail in Langstone Harbour where two Black-necked Grebes and two Mergansers have been seen this week). Christchurch Harbour has been visited by a Ring-necked Duck. We have also had the first substantial flock of Bar-tailed Godwit near Langstone though Lapwing numbers there remain minimal. The last of our summer Terns are now leaving but a rare White-winged Black Tern was among the few seen on Hayling this week. Among the vast number of passerines currently on the move I note the first report of Wood Lark back on the coast and also the first continental Blackbirds and Redwing to be seen arriving on our south coast. The annual collection of lost birds is starting to assemble in the Scillies and Cornwall - among them four Shrike species and a Rustic Bunting. Also new this week are the first Whooper Swans and Smew

Warm weather has brought reports of five Dragonfly species including Ruddy Darter and the first mention of Black Darter for the year. Butterflies are down to 18 species but there is still a spectacular show of Clouded Yellows in East Sussex (and west to the Isle of Wight) and Kent has added a new insect to its inhabitants - the Sickle-bearing Bush Cricket which was new to Britain when found breeding at Hastings in 2006 has now appeared at Dungeness

The Gorse flowers which will brighten our winter had their first substantial showing on Hayling this week after a lengthy summer break in flowering and a couple of Violet species also sense day lengths similar to those of spring and have responded by unseasonal flowering while a strange member of the Nightshade family called 'Cock's Eggs' (from its tiny white egg shaped flowers) is currently enjoying its main annual flowering season. The first four days of October have seen 96 plants species reported as flowering

The appearance of Common Earthballs and Honey Fungus herald the start of the autumn fungus season which has been delayed by drought and I include an apology for giving the wrong location in last week's summary for the find of the rare Tooth Fungus. Off the Dorset coast the first Mackerel Shark (or Porbeagle) have appeared following shoals of Squid and Mackerel

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Both Red-throated and Black-throated seen off the Hampshire coast - a summer plumaged Red-throated was off Barton on sea (west of Lymington) on Sep 26, 27 and 30, and a winter pumaged Black-throated was in Southampton Water (around the mouth of the Itchen), seen on Sep 24 and 29 below the docks and then on Sep 30 further north off Mayflower Park. Across the Channel there was a count of 49 Red-throated on Oct 2

Slavonian Grebe: Other than the single bird which spent the summer in the Exe estuary in Devon (last reported there on Sep 28) the first of the winter was a single passing Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Oct 2

Black-necked Grebe: The two birds in Langstone Harbour where seen again on Sep 30 and the one in Southampton Water which appeared there on Sep 26 has been seen again up to Oct 1. Another of these birds was still at Tresco in the Scillies on Oct 1 and on Oct 3 a Dutch site reported the presence of two birds

Sooty Shearwater: One was off Christchurch Harbour on Oct 3 after one had been seen on the Brittany coast on Oct 2 (when Spurn Point reported three of them.

Leach's Petrel: Three seen off the French coast near Calais on Oct 1

Cormorant: A night roost in trees around Alresford Pond had 28 birds on the evening of Sep 29

Night Heron: A Hampshire birder holidaying in Spain last week had seven juveniles visible from his hotel balcony and maybe one has followed him back but turned up, not in Hampshire, but on the Scillies on Sep 26

Cattle Egret: The single bird on the Lymington Marshes was still there on Sep 30 but on Oct 1 it was briefly joined by a second bird there.

Little Egret: Following the count of 120+ flying in to spend the night in the Langstone Pond trees on Sep 24 Barry Collins has seen 174 going into trees near the Little Deeps on Thorney Island on the night of Sep 29 so it would seem that both these established night roosts are still in business this autumn

Great White Egret: On Sep 29 one flew south out to sea from Abbotsbury in Dorset and the Blashford Lakes bird has been seen again on Sep 30 and Oct 1

Glossy Ibis: A flock of five has been at the Dungeness RSPB reserve from Sep 23 to Oct 1 at least but the one at the Pagham Harbour North Walls (which was first seen on Sep 22) has not been reported since Sep 27 (and on the Sep 28 one turned up in the Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head). Another bird was in the Lizard area of Cornwall on Sep 26 and since then one has been at Paxton Pits on the Cambridge/Bedfordshire border from Oct 1 to 3 at least. I have also just picked up news of one at the Arundel WWT reserve on Sep 21 (probably this was the one which flew on to Pagham Harbour that day)

Spoonbill: The Poole Harbour group increased from 6 to 9 birds seen at Brownsea Island on Oct 1

Whooper Swan: The first to arrive this winter were five seen at Carnoustie in Scotland on Sep 26 and this report has been followed by one of 11 birds at Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire on Oct 1 before they flew off in the direction of the nearby Grafham Water

Brent Goose: After writing the summary which follows I see that Trevor Carpenter saw 400 Brent in the Emsworth Channel (off Gutner Point) on this morning's (Oct 4) high tide. ... There seems to have been a pause in their passage at the beginning of this week (the only news was of 10 seen on the Solent off Ryde (IoW) on Sep 29) but on Oct 1 things got moving again with 163 passing the Calais area of France and 110 at Seasalter on the north coast of Kent with smaller number seen on the east coast of Kent and 5 appearing at Christchurch Harbour. On Oct 2 'a few' were in Langstone Harbour and the 5 at Christchurch had increased to 7 while 10 wre reported from the Normandy coast. On Oct 3 at least 24 were on the Sussex coast near Worthing and some had come into the Solent (8 at the mouth of the River Hamble, 4 on the shore at Calshot, and 5 at Lymington with reports of 15 from the French coast and at least 23 in Holland. Although up to 300 could be seen in the Solent harbours by this time last year the main arrival (with counts of 1000+) did not start until mid October.

Egyptian Goose: An estimate of 177 in the Eversley area on the Hants/Berks border on Oct 1 reminds me that English Nature have recently added this bird to the list of pest species which landowners are allowed to cull on their own land without any special licence (though they need what is known as a General Licence to ensure that only authorised people carry out any culls). Also on the list of species they can kill are Canada Goose, Monk and Ring-necked Parakeets - to find out more about this change in the rules go to http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/about_us/news/2009/300909.aspx

Wigeon: On Sep 27 there were 208 in Christchurch Harbour and on Sep 29 Jason Crook saw 350 in Langstone Harbour (where he has seen up to 25 Pintail 'recently'). On Sep 30 Jason was on what he calls Southmoor Hill (the old covered rubbish tip overlooking Budds Farm which I have always called Budds Mound but which Havant Borough call Johnson's Mound in memory of the Council Officer in charge of it when it was a tip) from which he could seen 450 Wigeon and 10 Pintail, plus two Black Necked Grebe and two Mergansers

Gadwall: Three were still on Budds Farn pools on Oct 1 and 20 at Titchfield Haven on Oct 3 but the highest count is of 46 on Alresford Pond near Winchester on Sep 29 (there were also 46 at the Arundel WWT reserve on Sep 21)

Garganey: The eclipse drake was still on Sinah Lake (Hayling) on Oct 3, four weeks after it arrived. It can usually be seen from the public grassland on the north side of the lake but I suspect you have to be there early in the morning or late in the evening to find it active.

Red-crested Pochard: One was seen on the Sussex Ouse north of Lewes on Sep 27

Pochard: A party of eight flew east over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 27 and were later seen off Barton on Sea still heading east towards the Solent. On Oct 1 one was in Newtown Harbour on the IoW and on Oct 3 ten were seen on Sowley Pond east of Lymington

Ring-necked Duck: A single drake appeared in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 29 and is believed to be the first 'genuine' example of the species for the Harbour (the only other example ever seen there was a bird of suspect origin based in the mouth of the River Stour but occasionally drifting into the harbour at some time in the past)

Smew: First to be reported anywhere this winter was in Holland on Oct 3

Red-breasted Merganser: Two were in the north of Langstone Harbour seen from Budds Mound on Sep 30 and 7 were reported from a Dutch site on Oct 3

Marsh Harrier: On Oct 2 Dungeness had 5 while singles were seen at Blashford Lakes, Titchfield Haven and Farlington Marshes

Buzzard: Of local interest when I was in the Warblington cemetery extension on Oct 2 I saw two Buzzards rapidly circling low over the nearby cress beds and was puzzled as to what they were doing until one of them lowered its talons, showing its animosity towards the other which it soon drove off. Neither of the birds paid any attention to a Crow which was trying to harass them. Presumably one of the local breeding pair was driving an intruder from its territory.

Merlin: This week seems to have bought a mini-invasion of Merlin with new birds at six coastal sites between Sep 26 and 29. Further sighting on Sep 29 and Oct 1 showed this invasion to be ongoing and on Oct 2 an inexperienced young male which was disturbing the small birds (without success) in the fields west of Selsey Bill was driven from the site by a large female.

Quail: Yet another bird apparently pausing on our south coast before crossing the Channel - one seen in the Hastings Country Park on Sep 27. Oct 1 brought another sighting of one at Abbotsbury in Dorset

Avocet: On Oct 1 a count of 853 at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour was a significant increase on the 741 there on Sep 23

Dotterel: One in Cornwall on Sep 26 is the seventh I have seen reported in southern England this autumn

Golden Plover: A new wave of arrivals brought 75 to the mouth of the River Hamble on Sep 30 and 160 to the mouth of Chichester Harbour (seen from West Witteing) on Oct 1 with 18 in Newtown Harbour on the IoW on Oct 2

Lapwing: Although there was an early report of 175 at The Vine National Trust site near Basingstoke on Aug 13 these birds seem reluctant to show up on the Hampshire coast this autumn - 65 birds at Lymington on Sep 30 is the highest count I have seen so far from a coastal site (although there was one report of 30 in the Brownwich area near Titchfield Haven on Sep 5). Last year Rye Harbour had 1000 by Sep 12 and in 2007 there were a dozen on the Langstone shore by Aug 11.

Knot: These are only occasional visitors to the Langstone area with half a dozen seen there if you are lucky, and a count of 20 at Farlington Marshes on Sep 12 was the highest anywhere in Hampshire so far this autumn so I rather suspect that a report of 50 seen off the Langstone Village shore on Sep 29 may have been a case of mistaken identity....

Sanderling: A report of 150 seen from the Ryde esplanade (IoW) on Sep 29 is the first count I have seen exceeding 100 this autumn. There were around 130 still there on Oct 3

Pectoral Sandpiper: One was in the small pool marked by the presence of a large Herts County Council metal bin on the landward side of the Hayling Coastal Path not far south of the Oysterbeds from Sep 25 to 27 (followed by an unconfirmed report of it off Langstone village on Sep 29) and another has been on the Lymington marshes from Sep 24 to Oct 1 at least. Elsewhere one has been in the Cornwall/Scillies area from Aug 14 to Oct 1 at least

Purple Sandpiper: The seventh report for this autumn (after the first at Portland on Aug 25) comes from the Scillies on Sep 30 when a group of five were seen together

Ruff: One has been at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) from Oct 1 to 4

Black-tailed Godwit: Currently the largest collection of these is in Poole Harbour (1215 birds seen from Brownsea Island on Oct 1) followed by some 300 in Langstone Harbour (roosting at the Farlington Marshes Lake during the high tide of Sep 30). The Hook area near the mouth of the R Hamble had 177 on Sep 29 and the Fishbourne Channel in Chichester Harbour had 117 on Sep 29.

Bar-tailed Godwit: Although I could not be certain of their identity I had distant views from Langstone Bridge on Sep 29 of what looked like some 200 Bar-tails in the area between Northney and Pook Lane on the Warblington shore. This would be the first large flock in either Langstone or Chichester Harbours this autumn - they did not stay there after that day.

Green Sandpiper: Of local interest Barry Collins saw a couple of these near the Thorney Little Deeps Egret roost on Sep 29

Skuas: 5 Poms were on the French coast near Calais on Oct 1 and 26 Arctics were off Brittany on Oct 2 (with 2 seen at Portland on Oct 3). Bonxies are currently the most numerous with 29 near Calais on Oct 1 and 28 off Brittany on Oct 2

Little Gull: The odd singles seen along the south coast recently could soon increase as on Oct 2 Spurn Point in Yorkshire had 363 head south

Ring-billed Gull: A single bird has been reported around the Cornish coast on four dates between Aug 29 and Oct 1. The first in Hampshire was 'probable' seen on Sep 30 at the Badminston Pits in the New Forest area near Southampton Water. Last year the regular Gosport bird arrived there on Oct 12

Common Gull: No great numbers of these along the coast yet but John Clark saw 105 at Alresford Pond near Winchester on the evening of Sep 29 - they were flying south east, possibly to roost in Langstone Harbour overnight. As Common Gulls seem to prefer to spend their days on inland fields at this time of year I suspect they will have flown back there early next morning. On Oct 3 the first substantial number seen on the coast were 58 at Lepe (mouth of Souhampton Water

Lesser Blackback Gull: The highest count so far this autumn was 3061 at the Eversley pits on the Hants/Berks border (Thames valley) on Oct 1

Iceland Gull: A second winter bird seen in the Cornish coast at Marazion on Sep 26 was the first I have seen reported in southern England since late May

Terns: Most of our summer birds seem to have departed but a juvenile White-winged Black Tern at Black Point (Hayling Island) on Sep 29 was an exciting sight. I have only two other reports of this species in England this year (2 juveniles in Bembridge Harbour on the IoW on Aug 24 and one at Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire on Sep 3) plus a couple of sightings in the Low Countries on May 23 and Aug 21. The latest reports of our regular species are of 7 Sandwich Tern at Christchurch on Oct 3, 1 Common Tern (also Christchurch Harbour on Oct 3), and one Arctic Tern at at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Oct 2

Black Guillemot: The first reported anywhere south of Scotland is one at Cap Gris-nez on Oct 3

Wood Pigeon: Last autumn the first report of Wood Pigeons on the move came from the Warsash area where an estimated 1000 were at Chilling on Sep 21, and what was probably the start of the arrival of continental birds came on Oct 6 when more than 1700 went past the South Foreland in Kent. This year there was an isolated report of more than 500 on the move near Alton back on July 20 but what may be the first sign of the main autumn movement came on Sep 28 with a count of 852 passing over the Smestow Valley south of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands

Little Owl: I have long been aware that drowning is one of the major causes of death in Barn Owls (in dry areas they get into field water-troughs to bathe, their feathers get water-logged and they cannot get out unless the farmer has put a plank of wood into the end of the tank so that birds can scramble up out of the water) but I had not heard of this happening to a Little Owl until I saw a report dated Oct 3 on the SOS website of one dying from this cause on the Downs above the Cuckmere valley. There were also two coastal reports of Little Owls (both on Sep 29) on the Lymington shore and near Thorney Island Little Deeps - these recalled past memories of Little Owls seen near The Point of Farlington Marshes and of being told by Dave Billet (then warden at Farlington) that young birds dispersing at this time of year and ending up in strange places (when confronted by the water of Langstone Harbour the birds did not know how to proceed and would stay near the seawall for some time).

Short-eared Owl: One at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 27 was by no means the first of the autumn - that was at Portland on Aug 31

Wryneck: Four birds in the current news. One near Lands End from Sep 25 to 29, one at West Bexington in Dorset on Sep 27, one at Durlston from Sep 27 to Oc t, and one on Hayling Island near the old rail bridge on Sep 28

Wood Lark: First report of a sighting on the coast is of four birds at Durlston on Sep 28

Richard's Pipit: There were probably two in Cornwall on Sep 26 when another was seen on Jersey. On Sep 27 one was on the Scillies, another on the Isle of Wight (West High Down) and maybe the same bird across the water at Barton on Sea

Grey Wagtail: Two at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Oct 1 may well stay there for the winter

Blackbird: First report of continental arrivals was of 18 flying north over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28 followed by 10 at Hastings on Oct 1 and 10 at Jersey on Oct 2 plus 5 at Farlington Marshes on Oct 3

Song Thrush: At least 28 reports of migrants in this weeks news - mostly on the near continent (with a peak of 276 over a Dutch site on Oct 3) but also reports from Durlston, Portland, Christchurch Harbour, Hastings, Dungeness (65 on Oct 2), Sandwich Bay and Romsey

Redwing: These have now been seen at nine British sites - 5 at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Sep 15, 1 at Weir Wood in north Sussex on Sep 23, 1 at Smestow Valley south of Wolverhampton in the west Midlands on Sep 28 plus 3 over Durlston that day. Most recent have been at Spurn Point (56 on Oct 2) with 105 over a Dutch site on Oct 3

Mistle Thrush: A few of these are now being picked up as migrants with 3 at Sandwich on Sep 2 and twos at Climping, Hastings and Spurn Point

Melodious Warbler: One still at Lands End on Sep 25, 26 and 29

Barred Warbler: One on the Scillies on Sep 28

Yellow-browed Warbler: One at Sandwich Bay on Sep 26 and 28, one at Penzance in Cornwall on Sep 25 and one in the Scillies on Sep 27 (with another on a different island on Sep 30)

Firecrest: Quite a few seem to have come in from the continent recently - 10 sightings this week include 2 at Fishbourne near Chichester on Sep 29 (maybe from the pair which seem to have bred there this year) and one in a Forestside garden (northern edge of Stansted Forest) on Sep 30 followed by 3 at Dungeness on Oct 1 then one on Old Winchester Hill (Meon Valley) on Oct 2 and Durlston on Oct 3

Golden Oriole: A Dutch site reported 31 passing through on Oct 3

Brown Shrike: One of these (or possibly an Isabelline) was at the Lizard in Cornwall on Sep 27

Red-backed Shrike: One in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 26 (probably one of the two that have been in that area since Sep 18). Also a juvenile at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Oct 2

Steppe Grey Shrike: The bird reported in last weeks news when it appeared on St Martins in the Scillies on Sep 25 was still there on Sep 26

Woodchat Shrike: The bird first seen at Nanquidno near Lands End on Sep 21 was still there on Oct 1

Jay: Four in the Hastings area on Sep 27 and one at Dungeness on Sep 28 and 29 may have been precursors of arrivals from the continent

Jackdaw: A night roost at the Paxton Pits north of Bedford brought more than 3000 Jackdaws there on Oct 2 along with 1000+ Rooks

Hooded Crow: One flew south past Spurn Point on Oct 2

Serin: One at Portland on Sep 28 and one at Durlston on Sep 30

Common Rosefinch: One in the Scillies on Sep 27

Ortolan Bunting: One still on the Scillies on Sep 27

Rustic Bunting: A 'probable' at Land's End on Sep 26

Little Bunting: Possibly 2 in the Scillies on Oct 1

Maximum counts/latest sightings of migrants:

Turtle Dove 3 at Portland on Oct 1

Wryneck 1 at each of four sites between Sep 25 and Oct 1

Great Spotted Woodpecker 4 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 27

Wood Lark 4 at Durlston on Sep 28

Skylark 52 at Spurn Point on Oct 2

Sand Martin 1 at Spurn Point on Oct 2

Swallow 2000 at Beachy Head on Sep 30 (and 105000 over Jersey in the Channel Isles on Sep 28)

House Martin 5000 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28 and 3000 at Beachy Head on Sep 30

Tree Pipit 2 at Cissbury Ring (near Worthing) on Oct 2

Meadow Pipit 510 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2 when 640 passed over Jersey

Rock Pipit 14 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2 (these are now arriving at winter sites around the coast)

Yellow Wagtail 6 at Climping (Worthing) on Sep 27 and still 2 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2

Grey Wagtail 8 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 27 and 3 at Sandwich Bay on Oct 2

Pied Wagtail 305 over Durlston on Sep 30 and 130 there on Oct 4

Dunnock 8 in the Hastings area on Sep 27 were regarded as migrants

Robin 29 in the Hastings area on Sep 27 were regarded as migrants

Common Redstart 1 at Dungeness on Oct 2

Whinchat 2 at Rye Harbour on Sep 29 and 1 at Portland on Oct 1

Stonechat 11 at Portland on Oct 1 and 11 at Sandwich Bay on Oct 2

Wheatear 14 at Portland on Oct 1

Ring Ouzel 1 over Durlston on Sep 29 and 1 at Dungeness on Oct 2

Blackbird 18 north over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28.

Song Thrush 65 over Dungeness on Oct 2

Redwing 3 over Durlston on Sep 28 and 56 at Spurn Point on Oct 2

Mistle Thrush max 3 over Sandwich Bay on Sep 28

Grasshopper Warbler singles at Portland and Pagham Harbour on Sep 29 with one at Portland on Oct 1

Sedge Warbler 1 at Portland on Sep 28

Reed Warbler singles at Spurn Point, Dungeness and Christchurch Harbour all on Oct 2

Lesser Whitethroat 2 at Portland on Oct 1

Common Whitethroat 1 at Beachy Head on Sep 30

Garden Warbler 1 at Beachy Head on Sep 30 and one at Spurn Point on Oct 2

Blackcap 500 at Beachy Head on Sep 30 and 20 at Farlington Marshes on Oct 3

Chiffchaff 100 at Portland on Sep 28 and 78 at Dungeness on Oct 1

Willow Warbler just 1 near Chichester on Sep 29

Goldcrest several at Barton on sea on Sep 27 and 17 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 30

Firecrest 3 at Dungeness on Oct 1

Spotted Flycatcher 1 at Portland on Sep 29

Pied Flycatcher 1 late bird at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2

Red-breasted Flycatcher 1 on the Scillies from Sep 24 to Oct 1

Tree Sparrow 25 at Dungeness on Oct 1

Chaffinch 220 over Durlston on Sep 28 and 305 over a Dutch site on Oct 3

Brambling 1 at Dungeness on Sep 20 and 27 at a Dutch site on Oct 3

Greenfinch 75 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2 with 127 at a Dutch site on Oct 3

Goldfinch 1265 passing Sandwich Bay on Oct 2 when 230 went over Chrsitchurch Harbour

Siskin 19 reports this week with a peak of 165 over Durlston on Oct 4

Linnet 17 reports this weekd with a peak of 492 at Durlston on Sep 30

Lesser Redpoll just two reports so far with 19 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2

Lapland Bunting 1 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 27

Snow Bunting 4 which arrived at Sandwich Bay on Sep 24 were down to 1 on Oct 2 when Spurn Point reported 5 heading south

Reed Bunting 87 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2

Corn Bunting 44 at Rye Harbour on Sep 29

Escapees: A Chiloe Wigeon on the Drayton pit lake to the east of Chichester on Sep 29

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: Seen at Gosport on Sep 26 and at Broxhead Common in east Hampshire on Sep 27

Migrant Hawker: At Gosport on Sep 26 and Rye Harbour on Sep 29

Black Darter: Several at Broxhead Common on Sep 27 when 2 more were seen at Black Down near Haslemere

Ruddy Darter: Reported at Rye Harbour on Sep 29

Common Darter: 11 in the Gosport area on Sep 26 and others at Broxhead Common on Sep 27 and Rye Harbour on Sep 29. Two were flying in Warblington churchyard here in Havant on Oct 2

Butterflies

18 species reported this week

Clouded Yellow: Many still being seen along the south coast, mainly as a result of adults emerging (and then dispersing) from eggs laid here by earlier arrivals. A least 100 were estimated to be in the East Guldeford area near Rye on Sep 29 but smaller numbers were seen along the coast as far west as Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. More than 300 were seen on Beachy Head on Oct 1 and some were flying at Durlston on Oct 4

Adonis Blue: Still being reported at Durlston on Oct 4

Holly Blue: One seen near Andover on Sep 26 was only the second I have seen reported in September

Wall Brown: One still to be seen at Durlston on Oct 4

Moths

Six-spot Burnet: A fresh insect seen at Beachy Head on Oct 1 was a surprise find

Nephopterix angustella (1465): First I know of for this year at Portland on Sep 27

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): Another trapped at Durlston on Sep 29, the fifteenth I know of this year along the south coast

Oak Rustic (224A Dryobota labecula): First report comes from Durlston on Sep 29

Other Insects

Crane Flies: Durlston reports many now emerging on Sep 29

Long-winged Conehead: A late female seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Oct 1

Sickle-bearing Bush Cricket (Phaneroptera falcata): A female at Dungeness on Sep 26 (photo on the Dungeness website) was the first ever at that site or anywhere in Kent. The species seems to have flown across the Channel under its own steam to set up a colony at Hastings Country Park where both adults and nyphs were found for the first time in Britain as recently as August 2006

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

96 species recorded in flower so far in October against 259 in September

Yellow Horned Poppy: Several of these still flowering on the south Hayling shore on Sep 29

Narrow-leaved Pepperwort: One plant still flowering by the Langstone Roundabout at Havant on Oct 1

Early Dog Violet (V. reichenbachiana): Despite the prevailing drought several of these had started to flower in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Sep 28

Sweet Violet: Rosemary Webb tells me that soem of these are in flower in south Hayling

Common Gorse: Although Brian Fellows had seen the first bush re-flowering in Emsworth on Sep 4 and I had seen a few flowers on Sep 8 my first sight of substantial flowering was on bushes beside the Hayling Coastal Path on Sep 29 - none could be seen on the huge areas of Gorse on Sinah Common that day and I think the reason the bushes by the coastal path are usually the first each autumn is that they are regularly cut back and respond to the 'threat of imminent death' by bringing forward their arrangements to secure survival by generating new seeds as soon as possible.

Restharrow: Still flowering in the Eastney (Portsmouth) shore on Sep 30

Ribbed and White Melilot: Both flowering at Eastney on Sep 30

Lucerne: Also flowering at Eastney on Sep 30

Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile): Garden escapes are now flowering in several places

Stone Parsley: Nearly every plant of this is now totally dead but I still found one in flower on Oct 1

Burnet Saxifrage: Several plants flowering on Oct 3 in the grass of St Faith's churchyard in Havant where I do not recall seeing it before

Fine leaved water dropwort (Oenanthe aquatica): This is probably extinct in Hampshire so it is good to hear that it is thriving in dtiches in ditches of the marshes to the east of Rye in East Sussex and Kent

Cock's Eggs (Salpichroa origanifolia): This was at the peak of its flowering at the Sinah Common site along the west side of the last house garden south of the Staunton Avenue when I was there on Sep 29

Tomato: These turn up in odd places but I was surprised to see one with both flowers and fruit beside the Billy Trail in Langstone on Oct 1

Pale Toadflax: This still had a few flowers on plants half submerged in the gorse bushes west of the public lavatories (north of the Inn on the Beach on Sinah Common) where it maintains its slender foothold on Hayling Island

Round-leaved Fluellen: Still managing to flower in Warblington cemetery on Oct 2

OTHER WILDLIFEE

Slow Worm: A couple of reports this week (from Durlston and Brighton) may indicate that these reptiles are becoming more visible as they enjoy the late summer sun before hibernating (which normally starts in October)

Porbeagle aka Mackerel Shark (Lamna nasus): On Oct 10 the Durlston website reported that several of these had been seen off the Dorset coast and had probably followed the shoals of Mackerel. Porbeagle also feed on Squid and shoals of these wre said to have been reported off Portland recently

Fungi: The first Common Earthball was seen in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Sep 29. This fungus seems to enjoy dry ground and so may enjoy the current conditions which do not suit most fungi. Also seen on Oct 2 this week, on a dead tree stump beside the main road into Emsworth from Havant, was the first showing of Honey Fungus. Here I must own up to an error in reporting the rare Tooth Fungus Creolophus cirrhatus (and a couple of other species) in last week's notes - I said they were found in Stansted Forest but in fact the Havant Wildlife Group which found them on Sep 19 did so in Hammonds Land Coppice, part of the Staunton Country Park immediately south of the Gipsies Plain grassland which is south of Havant Thicket. I had been told the correct location but mentally changed it to Stansted Forest when trying to recall details of two previous finds of this Tooth Fungus which had been in Stansted (those two finds were on different logs not far from each other in The Sling area of the Forest close to Rowlands Castle - both the logs were removed shortly after the finds so it is all the more interesting to know that this rarity is still to be found in the Havant area)


Summary for Sep 21 - 27 (Week 38 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

All three Diver species have now been seen back in southern waters along with the first Black-necked Grebes in Langstone Harbour (plus one in Southampton Water where they are not normally found). Here in Havant 120 Little Egrets were seen to roost at Langstone Pond while Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour had an amorous Black Swan still feeling the antipodean urge to breed in what is the southern spring. Pagham Harbour has had one of the Glossy Ibis birds currently invading England. Also returning for the winter are Shelduck (and one flock of Fieldfare) as Poole Harbour reports the presence of 741 of the 1000+ Avocet that are likely to winter there. Rarities in the news include Little Bunting and Yellow-breasted Bunting, American Golden Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, possible Greenish and Radde's Warblers, and the 'mega rarity' of a Steppe Shrike. Species now leaving the continent to arrive in Britain include Robins, Chaffinches, Song Thrushes and at least one Brambling in Kent (which has also seen the first four Snow Buntings of the winter). Another sign of winter is the first report of Whooper Swans.

Butterfly species which emerge at this time of year normally go straight into hibernation, not mating until next spring, but this autumn some have decided to breed now and untimely broods of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock caterpillars are being found in Sussex. The week has brought a huge new emergence of Clouded Yellows in Sussex and reminded us of the absence of late Holly Blues

Plant news includes a find of Apple of Peru in the Denvilles area of Havant not far from where I discovered a small flowering tree which I did not recognize and which has now been added to my knowledge under the name of Harlequin Glorybower (an imported garden species - not wild)

The most significant local news is the discovery of a rare fungus in Stansted Forest, outdoing the sad news of the death of the apparently healthy Northern Bottlenose Whale at Bournemouth after the whale seemingly got caught in underwater fishing tackle ropes and drowned. Another obituary is of 300 Eels stranded in dried up pools at Pett Level on the shore of Rye Bay - although Eels can breathe air when out of water it seems that the increasing lack of oxygen in the water in which they were trapped acted as carbon monoxide does on humans, killing them without giving warning

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Diver species: On Sep 22 a group of six divers were seen swimming west off Worthing in a choppy sea - the limited view of them available suggested they were all Great Northern Divers

Red-throated Diver: A summer plumaged bird seen off Barton on Sea near Lymington on Sep 26

Black-throated Diver: One heading up Southampton Water on Sep 24

Black-necked Grebe: Two were seen off the west coast of Hayling Island (south of the Oysterbeds) on Sep 20 and still there on Sep 26 - these are the first I know of back in Langstone Harbour since February. Also on Sep 26 one was seen in Southampton Water

Black-browed Albatross: A sub-adult bird was seen from a boat two miles south of St Mary's in the Scillies on Sep 21 - this is possibly the same bird that was seen off Devon and Cornwall in late July and so may be a long-term vistor to our latitude

Shag: A group of 14 spent a little time on the sea off the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Sep 20 before flying east

Little Egret: At least 120 flew into the Langstone Pond trees to roost on the evening of Sep 24

Great White Egret: The Blashford Lakes bird which seemingly returned there on Sep 14 is now being seen more regularly (reports for Sep 23, 24, 25 and 26)

Glossy Ibis: The invasion of southern England by this species, which started with a single bird in north east Kent on Sep 15 but got going in earnest on Sep 19 (when I believe three separate groups, each of six birds, were seen (one in Devon and Dorset heading east, another seen at Lymington at a time when the Dorset birds could not have been there, and the third in East Anglia), continued this week. On Sep 21 three were at Sandwich Bay and one in Pagham Harbour (this latter seen again up to Sep 26 at least at the Breech Pool behind the North Walls). Also on Sep 21 a mystery bird high over allotments in Portsmouth could have been this species. On Sep 22 two flew west over Rye Harbour and may have turned into the group of three seen that day at the Dungeness RSPB reserve where a group of five flew in on Sep 24.

Spoonbill: A group of five were in Poole Harbour last week and had become six this week, seen on Sep 23 and 26. One which flew in to Titchfield Haven on Sep 20 but has not been seen there since.

Whooper Swan: The first for this winter were five at Canoustie in Angus, Scotland, on Sep 26. Also at Carnoustie that day were 4270 Pink-foot Geese.

Black Swan: One seen in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Sep 26 flew north after its amorous advances to a Mute Swan had been rejected (this is of course the breeding season for these antipodean birds). It could have been one from the West Ashling pond near Funtington.

Brent Goose: A total of 49 were seen in Langstone Harbour on Sep 18 but that number may well have doubled by the end of this week - when Steve Copsey was at Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 25 he had a distant view of around 100 wildfowl which he thought were Brent (or possibly Wigeon) flying north from the sea over the Bracklesham area west of Selsey. The only other report I have picked up is of 19 birds in the Thorney Channel (east of the south of Thorney Island) on Sep 20. While these may well have been migrants the new comers are usually out in the open water of the harbour entrance (between Thorney and Black Point) whereas the Thorney Channel is a regular site for summering birds in that harbour (I saw 8 there on Aug 25 and there was a report of 15 birds flying west over the Fishbourne Channel towards Thorney on Sep 6 before any migrants arrived)

Pale-bellied Brent: These are now arriving in force with a count of 490 from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides on Sep 20.

Ruddy Shelduck: On Sep 26 three of these appeared on the water at Radipole (Weymouth) - maybe feral birds from the Netherlands?

Shelduck: A count of 105 passing Pointe de Hoc in Normandy on Sep 21 indicated the start of the return of Shelduck from their moult grounds to their winter quarters and I am pretty sure that the appearance of 15 Shelduck off the west shore of Emsworth at Nore Barn on Sep 23 was associated with this movement though this particular flock was made up of 12 juveniles and three adults, all of which have probably been somewhere on our south coast through the summer. All I know is that I have not heard of any Shelduck in the Langstone/Emsworth area since Apr 17, just before the mass movement from English Water which saw 47 passing Dungeness on Apr 24 and 103 off the Thanet coast in Kent on May 4. The juveniles now off Emsworth may have arrived there from somewhere not far inland (e.g. around Alsdworth Pond which has now dried up), having waited there until they were fully fledged and able to fly.

Wigeon: On Sep 21 there were 190 at Christchurch Harbour, 110 at Pulborough Brooks, 68 at Hook/Warsash (with 20 Pintail), and 34 (with 52 Teal) in Nutbourne Bay east of Thorney Island

Garganey: The eclipse male was still on Sinah Lake (south Hayling) on Sep 25, having arrived there on Sep 11. Also on Sep 25 John Clark saw a single female or young bird lurking under the north shore of the central pool at Budds Farm in Havant.

Scaup: None yet in southern England but I see that 3 were seen at Lewis in the Hebrides on Sep 21 after the first of the autumn had been reported at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Sep 17

Eider: A flock of 41 flew east past Worthing on Sep 22, presumably still on their way from northern breeding grounds to winter quarters. On Sep 23 the birds off Titchfield Haven had increased from 13 to 20

Velvet Scoter: One off Spurn Point on Sep 21 was the first I have heard of anywhere since June (the last on the south coast was off Selsey on May 20)

Red-breasted Merganser: One seen from Portland on Sep 22 may have been summering on the south coast but reports of one passing Spurn Point on Sep 21 and two seen off Lewis in the Hebrides on Sep 22 indicate that they are now starting to head south

Goosander: One of these also went past Spurn Point on Sep 21, the first mention of the species since an isolated report of a flock of 27 moving over the Bradford area of Yorkshire on Aug 29

Honey Buzzard: Among nine reports this week were one from Berlin on Sep 22, one over Jersey and two over Holland on Sep 26. Here in England there were singles over Dungeness, Portland, Brighton, Lymington and Swanage plus a local sighting over Havant Thicket on Sep 24

Marsh Harrier: Latest report is of a juvenile over the Thorney Little Deeps on Sep 26

Montagu's Harrier: A 'probable' ringtail was seen at Soar in Devon on Sep 20

Sparrowhawk: Sandwich Bay had 8 migrants over on Sep 24 after recording 4 there on Sep 22 and 2 on Sep 21

Common Buzzard: More than 36 migrants passed over the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 24 after five had been seen to fly south (with one Honey Buzzard) from Portland on Sep 23

Rough-legged Buzzard: An interesting local report for Sep 24 is of one seen over Havant Thicket 'talon locked' with a smaller Common Buzzard - I doubt this sighting will appear in the Hampshire Bird Report without further confirmatory evidence that the larger bird was definitely a Rough-legged and not a 'different looking' Common Buzzard

Merlin: More of these are arriving for the winter (or at least to chase the huge masses of passerines to be found along our south coast at this time of year). A female was over Thorney Island on Sep 20 when another clocked in at Portland, and a third was over the Brading Marshes (IoW) on Sep 21. On Sep 24 one was seen on the Lymington shore and on Sep 25 another arrived at Portland.

Quail: Yet another migrant Quail touched down at Polgigga in Cornwall on Sep 21

Water Rail: Most birders will have come across Moorhen climbing about in bushes or low trees but it's not so often that a Water Rail is seen doing so - one seen in Brambles at the Lymington marshes on Sep 21

Coot: These continue to leave inland waters which may freeze over before long and head for winter quarters on the sea - the number on the Slipper Mill pond complex at Emsworth was up from 58 on Sep 15 to 68 on Sep 20 (no more than half a dozen pairs breed there). There could well be an even higher number now on the Thorney Little Deeps. By Sep 25 more than 1000 Coot were present at the Blashford Lakes.

Avocet: 741 had reached their winter quarters in Poole Harbour by Sep 23

Ringed Plover: 200 were in a high tide roost on the shingle of the Hayling Bay shore on Sep 20, no doubt unseen by many people walking along the nearby grassland. This roost also had 50 Sanderling, 7 Dunlin and a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper. I'm not sure exactly where this roost was but a similar roost can often be found during the winter on the shingle south of the east end of the Hayling Golf Course

Dotterel: One was heard flying over the Selsey West Fields on Sep 20 and one was in Devon from Sep 20 to 23 at least.

Golden Plover: Among eight reports this week a flock of more tha 30 were on mud in the Emsworth Channel on Sep 23 and 600 were roosting at Rye Harbour on Sep 24

American Golden Plover: One had been seen in Norfolk in late July and now the second I know of for the year is reported on St Agnes in the Scillies on Sep 20

Pectoral Sandpiper: In addition to several reports from the Scillies between Sep 12 and 25 (and one at Seaton in Devon on Sep 16) one was on the Lymington marshes on Sep 23, 24 and 26. Latest news is of one on Hayling Island in a field pool beside the Coastal Path not far south of the Oysterbeds carpark

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Also after several recent reports from the Scillies (and one from Cornwall/Lands End on Sep 21) one made a brief appearance among a flock of Golden Plover at Rye Harbour on Sep 21

Long-billed Dowitcher: The first I know of in Britain this year was on Tresco in the Scillies from Sep 22 to 25 at least

Grey Phalarope: One at Cuckmere Haven near Beachy Head on Sep 24

Lesser Black-back Gull: John Clark found 1520 of these at the Fox Lane gravel pits at Eversley in north Hampshire on Sep 19 and then counted 2015 leaving the night roost there at dawn on Sep 20 - later that day he found more than 1900 either gathering their supper on nearby Blackbushe airfield or flying over towards the roost site

Black Tern: Their passage now seems to be coming to an end. After 3 were seen at Dungeness on Sep 14 there were no reports until Sep 21 when 4 fly along the Normandy coast with a single at the RSPB Dungeness reserve on Sep 24

Turtle Dove: One at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 22, another at Weir Wood in north Sussex on Sep 23 followed by one at Portland on Sep 24 (with 2 there on Sep 25 and 3 on Sep 26)

Swift: One went over Beachy Head on Sep 19 and an even later bird was seen at Spurn Point on Sep 21

Wryneck: Ten reports this week, the last being of 2 near Brighton on Sep 25

Great Spotted Woodpecker: A reminder that these are partial migrants came when three were reported at Dungeness on Sep 22, then on Sep 25 there was one at Portland, six at Christchurch Harbour and six at Sandwich Bay. On Sep 26 a Dutch site reported 11 migrants.

Short-toed Lark: First mention of one this autumn comes from Jersey on Sep 23 when flocks of Skylarks are starting to move (e.g. 22 over Sandwich Bay on Sep 21)

Sand Martin: It seems few of these are still with us - just three reports this week. On Sep 22 there were 20 at Durlston and on Sep 23 Beachy Head had 30. On Sep 26 Durlston reported just 2

Swallow: These are now the main component of the hirundine flocks currently patrolling our south coast before taking the plunge (!) to cross the channel. On Sep 21 Christchurch Harbour recorded 4000 and Sandwich Bay had 2800. On Sep 26 there were still 1000 over Christchurch Harbour but Jersei in the Channel Isles had 2350 that day

House Martin: Early this week peak counts were of 3700 over Sandwich Bay and 5691 over Hunstanton in Norfolk, both on Sep 22, but on Sep 26 there were still 15,000 to be seen over Christchurch Harbour with around 1700 reported at other sites. Here in Havant the local breeding birds which have been heard daily over my garden since the beginning of May ceased to appear after Sep 25

Richard's Pipit: Four reports this week include one at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 19 with others in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Jersey

Tawny Pipit: Two reports from Cornwall on Sep 21, probably of the same bird as both were in the Lands End area, then one at Durlston on Sep 23 and one in the Netherlands on Sep 26

Red-throated Pipit: One in Belgium and one in Holland, both on Sep 26

Water Pipit: The first to get a mention as a migrant was seen in Holland on Sep 26

Robin: New arrivals from the continent brought reports of a significant increase in numbers at three sits on Sep 21

Stonechat: 45 grounded by mist at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 24 and a comment that there had been a small influx on the Lymington shore on Sep 26

Ring Ouzel: Singles at four coastal sites this week

Fieldfare: What may have been the same flock numbered 16 in Belgium on Sep 15, then 15 near Chichester on Sep 18 and now 12 in the New Forest on Sep 20

Song Thrush: Continental birds were arriving over Christchurch Harbour this week with 10 seen flying high over on Sep 20 and another 9 on Sep 21. Just one Redwing was reported in Holland on Sep 23 when another flew south over Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough in north Sussex

Cetti's Warbler: These (along with species like Dartford Warbler) have been dispersing for some time now but the loud sound of one singing at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Sep 20 was exciting as being only the second ever heard there (first was in June 2005). Brian Fellows tells us it brought the number of bird species recorded on that reserve this year to 46 (the site has recorded an overall total of 70 species over the years since 2000)

Zitting Cisticola (aka Fan-tailed Warbler): One seen in the Thanet area of Kent from Sep 21 to 26 at least may be the same which had been seen there on July 26 at Seasalter and at Sandwich Bay on Sep 6 and 7. Other vagrants have been an Icterine Warbler on Sep 21 and a Barred Warbler from Sep 21 to 25, both at Hope Gap near Beachy Head. Cornwall still had its Woodchat Shrike on Sep 21 and both Devon and Cornwall had Rose-coloured Starlings on Sep 21

Greenish Warbler: A 'possible' seen near Gatiwck airport on Sep 24 - the observer recognised the bird both by sight and call

Yellow-browed Warbler: On Sep 21 singles were seen at Sandwich Bay and Reculver in Kent, and at sites in Cornwall and the Scillies. On Sep 23 one was at Steyning north of Worthing and on Sep 24 one was again at Sandwich Bay

Radde's Warbler: A 'possible only' sighting of a largish warbler in a bush at Titchfield Haven on Sep 25

Red-breasted Flycatcher: One on Lundy Island off Devon on Sep 22 and one in the Scillies on Sep 24

Bearded Tit: 35 seen on Thorney Island (presumably the Little Deeps) on Sep 20 included 'high flying flocks of 19 and 14 birds' indicating that these are now off on their intrepid flights to find new reedbeds. Further confirmation that they are on the move came on Sep 23 in a report of one on the Scillies (where they are very rare and this bird would be a lost vagrant). Also on Sep 23 a flock of 10 airborne birds were seen to drop into the Little Deeps reeds at Thorney Island and on Sep 26 three were seen to drop in to reeds at Christchurch Harbour where they are not normally present. Also on Sep 26 one observer in the Lymington area saw 10 flying over a Maize field and others there on the same day counted 31 in the air

Red-backed Shrike: One has been at Sandwich Bay from Sep 18 to 24 with two seen there on a couple of days. Another was seen at Reculver in north Kent on Sep 21 and 25 and another was in Devon on Sep 20

Steppe (or Saxaul) Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis pallidirostris): This mega rarity turned up on St Martins in the Scillies on Sep 25 and was last seen at midday on Sep 26. There had been a possible sighting in Cumbria in July 2009 but the last definite sighting was in Lincolnshire from Nov 23 to 26 in 2008 (the species has not been recorded in Hampshire, but there have been past records from both Wilts and Dorset and 10 other counties ). This bird is sometimes treated as a separate species but is better regarded as a subspecies of Southern Grey Shrike which normally breeds in central Asia and goes south to the tropics in the winter. It is very similar in size and markings to Great Grey Shrike but is noticeably paler. I was amused to see one photo of the 2008 bird perched on a tripod mounted digiscoping camera.

Great Grey Shrike: Two reports this week - one in Belgium on Sep 25 and one in Holland on Sep 26 (there was one in Kent on Sep 18 and 19). The Cornish Woodchat Shrike was last seen at Nanquidno on Sep 21

Tree Sparrow: Two at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 21 and two at Durlston on Sep 26

Chaffinch: Three at Portland on Sep 20 were the first autumn passage birds there (62 were reported at Berlin on Sep 22 and 84 in Holland on Sep 23). In England there were 140 over Chritchurch Harbour on Sep 25 and across the water 681 went over a Dutch site on Sep 26 One Brambling in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 21 was the first of the autumn in southern England

Greenfinch: 120 moving through Christchurch Harbour on Sep 26 was the first substantial passage of the autumn

Common (Mealy) Redpoll: First to get a mention this autumn was one at Spurn Point on Sep 25

Snow Bunting: Two at Spurn Point on Sep 21 and four at Sandwich Bay on Sep 24

Yellow Hammer: A small flock of at least a dozen in the East Park at Stansted on Sep 26

Little Bunting: One at Portland on Sep 25

Yellow-breasted Bunting: The first I have heard of this year was on St Mary's in the Scillies on Sep 20

Peak counts of migrants so far this week:

Tree Pipit 11 in Holland

Meadow Pipit 3700 at Sandwich Bay

Water Pipit 1 in Holland

Yellow Wagtail 27 at Hook/Warsash

Grey Wagtail 10 at Portland

Pied Wagtail 135 at Durlston

White Wagtail 1 at Portland

Dunnock 82 in Holland

Robin 50+ at Portland

Redstart 6 at Portland

Whinchat 18 at Sandwich Bay

Stonechat 45 at Christchurch Harbour

Wheatear 50 at Portland

Ring Ouzel 1 at Durlston

Fieldfare 12 in the New Forest

Song Thrush 20 at Christchurch Harbour

Redwing 1 at Weir Wood reservoir

Grasshopper Warbler 3 at Portland

Sedge Warbler 5 at Christchurch Harbour

Reed Warbler 4 at Christchurch Harbour

Icterine Warbler 1 near Beachy Head

Barred Warbler 1 near Beachy Head

Lesser Whitethroat 4 at Beachy Head

Common Whitethroat 8 at Christchurch Harbour

Garden Warbler 3 at Christchurch Harbour

Blackcap 400 at Beachy Head

Yellow-browed Warbler 1 at easch of five sites from Kent to Cornwall

Chiffchaff 300 at Beachy Head

Willow Warbler - just three reports of singles in Sussex

Goldcrest 7 at Christchurch Harbour

Firecrest 1 at each of five sites

Spotted Flycatcher 6 at Pagham Harbour

Pied Flycatcher 2 at Portland

Bearded Tit 35 airborne over Thorney Island

Blue and Great Tits several seen as migrants on Portland

Golden Oriole 1 'probable' on the Scillies

Red-backed Shrike 2 at Sandwich Bay

Rook 23 over Christchurch Harbour

Tree Sparrow 2 over Christchurch Harbour

Chaffinch 140 at Christchurch Harbour

Greenfinch 120 at Christchurch Harbour

Goldfinch 171 at Christchurch Harbour

Siskin 18 At Durlston

Linnet 310 at Durlston

Snow Bunting 4 at Sandwich Bay

Reed Bunting 55 at Christchurch Harbour

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Red-veined Darter: A few years back this species was regarded as an occasional migrant to England but it is now known to breed in several locations and the find of a few exuviae (empty larval skins) and 3 larvae found in water at Castle Farm (Rye Harbour) has now added that reserve to the list of places where it is now resident

Butterflies

Just 18 species reported on the wing this week

Silver Spotted Skipper: A late specimen at Seaford in Sussex on Sep 20

Clouded Yellow: Plenty of fresh specimens now appearing from eggs laid in this country. One site near Worthing had 8 on Sep 20 and just over the Channel Honnay in Belgium reported 53 of them but the hot spot has been Beachy Head where more than 500 were seen on Sep 24 and 600 were estimated to be present on Sep 25

Holly Blue: Late news of one in a Cosham (Portsmouth) garden on Sep 17 - the first I have heard of anywhere since Aug 30 when one was seen on Portsdown in the same area

Small Tortoiseshell: The second generation which has been emerging for some time normally go straight into hibernation but this year several have been mating and laying eggs in the early autumn and these third generation caterpillars are currently being found in several places in Sussex

Peacock: As with Tortoiseshells some have been mating now instead of waiting for next spring, leaving several nests of fresh caterpillars to be found in Sussex

Wall Brown: A third brood was emerging in Sussex this week with 10 seen in the Cuckmere area on Sep 25

Grayling: At least one was still to be seen in the New Forest near Ringwood on Sep 20

Moths

Caloptilia semifascia (0290): First at Pagham Harbour on National Moth Night Sep 19

Clepsis consimilana (0994): First at Pagham Harbour on National Moth Night Sep 19

Acleris sparsana (Tortrix) (1041): First in Thanet on Sep 19

Garden Rose Tortrix (1048 Acleris variegana): First at Pagham Harbour on National Moth Night Sep 19

Epinotia nisella (1138): First at Pagham Harbour on National Moth Night Sep 19

Pediasia aridella (1324): First at Pagham Harbour on National Moth Night Sep 19

Gold Triangle (1413 Hypsopygia costalis): First at Pagham Harbour on National Moth Night Sep 19

Pale Eggar (1632 Trichiura crataegi): First at Ringmer near Lewes on Sep 18

Blair's Mocha (1678 Cyclophora puppillaria): First at West Wittering on Sep 19

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (2110 Noctua fimbriata): First report is from Ringmer on Sep 18

Deep-brown Dart (2231 Aporophyla lutulenta): First at Edburton (north foot of Downs north of Brighton) on Sep 18

Golden Twin-spot (2428 Chrysodeixis chalcites): First in Thanet on Sep 21

Moth/Butterfly Larvae: At Rye Harbour on Sep 22 a single Reed Dagger caterpillar was seen on every leaf of Greater Reedmace

Other Insects

Crane Flies: A lot seen at Durlston on Sep 25

Common Wasp: Another reminder that these are now apparently recovering from a sharp drop in numbers over recent years came when a naturalist who happens to earn his living as a pest controller stumbled on a ground nest of aggressive Wasps when on the Sussex Downs near Cissbury Ring, suffering at least two stings

Colletes hederae (Ivy Bee): This species has only started to appear in southern England in recent years and likes sandy soil in which to mine with lots of Ivy from which to collect pollen. On Sep 25 these bees were active at Durlston Country Park - you can see excellent pictures of it at the Hastings coastal site where it is now well established (after the first British find of the species in Dorset in 2001) at http://www.bwars.com/Colletes_hederae.htm

Western Conifer Seed Bug: One seen in Thanet on Sep 19 was at least the twelfth to invade this country this autumn

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

240 plant species found so far this month to my knowledge but most of those being found currently have already had a mention in these notes when they first appeared

   

Apple of Peru plants in Havant and site where found (see below)

Green Amaranth: What I believe was this species was found on Sep 24 growing in a game cover crop on Idsworth Down (north of Rowlands Castle). Brian Fellows who found it was not certain of its name and his photo showed its flower/fruit spikes were strongly red-tinged. The Common Amaranth I am familiar with normally has yellowy green spikes but a search through the internet did not come up with a different species but did show me at least one example of a red-tinged plant. Among many other plants found at this site was Green Bristle Grass

Red Goosefoot: What I believe to be this species is prominent at the moment with some plants having a bright red tinge to their flower/seed parts - see my photos in my Diary entry for Sep 21

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: The roadside plants in Juniper Square here in Havant had new flower buds on Sep 22

Yellow Pimpernel: This had many fresh flowers in shady parts of Southleigh Forest providing the only bright colour when I was there on Sep 21

Harlequin Glorybower (Clerodendrum trichotomum): This garden shrub/small tree imported from the Far East is not a wild plant but when I saw an example in flower in a garden in the Denvilles area of Havant on Sep 21 I was impressed and it took me some time to track down its identity (a new species for my personal knowledge). I see that it is a member of the Verbena family.

Apple of Peru (Physalodes nicandra): This colourful plant is sometimes grown as a garden ornament (despite its poisonous tendencies) but more often occurs as a casual on tips. This week I found a small colony of plants in a garden in the Denvilles area of Havant but the garden had no fence and the plants were in a neglected section containing only bags of waste so I doubt they were planted there

Nettle-leaved Bellflower: A single elderly plant which still had a couple of flowers was the first I have seen this summer - my find was in Woodlands Lane above Walderton

Small Teazel: Visiting Racton hamlet in the Ems Valley on Sep 21 I was too late to find flowers on the plants there but this colony (the only one I know of locally) still thrives among the trees on the south side of the major road junction in the hamlet (see photos with my Diary entry for Sep 21)

Perennial Sunflower: Nothing special about a find of this plant except that a single specimen I found on Sep 21 was flowering happily in what had earlier in the year been the river bed of the Ems immediately south of the roadbridge over the river at Racton (photo with Diary entry for Sep 21)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Photo of Creolophus cirrhatus (Tooth Fungus) in Stansted Forest (taken by Jim Berry - see text below)

Otter: One was seen both in and out of water at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Sep 25. To the best of my knowledge they are not resident there and this was presumably an animal 'seeking pastures new'

Bottle-nosed Whale: The Whale which was apparently healthy and catching Mackerel off the Bournemouth coast last week (first seen Sep 13) was washed up dead at Bournemouth on Sep 23 - I have not yet heard the official cause of death but there were indications that it had got caught in fishing ropes and had drowned

Common Seal: 12 were hauled up on mud off Thorney Island on Sep 20 and the same number were seen there on Sep 26

Noctule Bat: One seen hunting over gardens at Alresford near Winchester on the evening on Sep 23

Eel: Drying up of the Pett Level pools on the shore of Rye Bay left some 300 Eels dead on Sep 20. I find this slightly puzzling as I have always understood that Eels can make long overland journeys as part of their migration so I would have thought these Eels would at least have made an attempt to struggle overland to another water body. A probable answer came on Sep 26 when Brian Banks saw one pushing its head out of a similar drying pool in the Walland Marsh area north east of Rye Bay - he comments on the ability of Eels to take oxygen from the air out of water and on the lack of oxygen in the near-dry pools - presumably the Eels in this water might die from lack of oxygen in the same way we can die from carbon monoxide, succumbing to a poison that we are unable to detect

Fungi: The Havant Wildlife Group were in Stansted Forest on Sep 19 and found Chicken of the Woods (Sulphur Polypore) apparently thriving on the trunk of a White Poplar with the Lumpy Bracket (Trametes Gibbosa) found nearby on a log. Best find is what I consider to be an example of the rare Creolophus cirrhatus shown in Roger Phillips popular book (this identification has been confirmed by local Fungus specialist Rosemary Webb). I was at first confused by different books having different illustrations with different names for what I thought was a single species of Tooth Fungus but when I had a look at Gordon Dickson's 'Fungi of the New Forest' I found he listed three species of Tooth Fungus and had photos of two of them (both listed as Hericium ) which did not match the current find (see the photo supplied by Jim Berry of what the group found on Sep 19) in that the new find does have a distinct cap above the teeth, ruling out those two but leaving the third possibility in the air. That third species is the one shown by Roger Phillips whose photo shows both a cap and teeth, both being a good colour match for the current find. My current opinion is that the group did find Creolophus


Summary for Sep 14 - 20 (Week 37 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

Brent Geese (both Dark and Pale-bellied) are now with us, as are masses of other wildfowl that will spend the winter on the south coast. Rarities include a re-appearance of the south Hants Blue-winged Teal and three newly arrived parties of Glossy Ibis plus a possible Red-throated Pipit at Lymington with other sightings of Richard's and Tawny Pipits in southern England. We also have news from across the Atlantic of twin 'white swallows' hatched in a nest at Dripping Spings near Columbia in Missouri to match a singleton hatched by the River Hamble near Botley. Huge numbers of House Martins have impressed coastal birders as the first winter thrushes appear in Britain. Not for the squeamish is news of Great Tits eating the brains of live hibernating bats...

White Admiral butterflies occasionally have a second brood in some years and this is one such year - apart from that top of the pops is a tiny moth to be found at Portchester Castle (and that is an opportunity to plug the excellent new version of Mike Wall's Hantsmoths website). There are also quite a few moths getting their first mention for the year as a result of National Moth Night on Sep 18

Plant news includes the discovery of another massive planting of wildflower seed to brighten the margins of an arable field in the Ems Valley and a find of a 'new' species for our area on a roadside at Birdham alongside Chichester Harbour.

We end with the news of a Bottle-nosed Whale close to the Dorset coast well away from its normal feeding grounds but apparently still quite well and enjoying our local Mackerel.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Reports in the latest news are of one in Weymouth Bay on Sep 13, a summer plumaged bird off Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 15 when 3 were off the Dutch coast and 79 went south past Spurn Point (with more than 20 off Spurn Point on Sep 16). Latest news is of 43 passing Spurn Point on Sep 17

Black-throated Diver: One off Normandy on Sep 14 and one off Holland on Sep 15

Red-necked Grebe: One off Portland on Sep 15 and one off Spurn Point on Sep 17

Balearic Shearwater: 310 off the Brittany coast of France on Sep 16 with 7 Sooty Shearwater. Also on Sep 16 Spurn Point had 6 and (on Sep 15) 1 Great Shearwater

Bittern: The Dungeness RSPB bird was last reported on Sep 12 and on Sep 16 a newcomer was at Marazion in Cornwall.

Great White Egret: The bird which arrived at the Dungeness RSPB site on Aug 15 appears to have left on Sep 13 when it was seen to fly over the Dungeness Bird Observatory. It maybe a co-incidence but one turned up at the Blashford Lakes on Sep 14, not having been reported there since Aug 29. On Sep 18 a new bird arrived at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour and another flew over the Thanet area of Kent

Purple Heron: One turned up at Lands End on Sep 16

Glossy Ibis: The bird in the Kent Stour valley which arrived on Sep 6 was still there on Sep 15, then on Sep 19 it seems that at least three groups (each having 6 birds) arrived in this country. One group (all juveniles) was first reported near Seaton in Devon but flew east from there at 12:30 and I assume it was this group that was seen at Radipole (Weymouth) later that day before flying on east at 16:10. Another report of 6 flying east over the Lymington Marshes was timed at 16:45, and as Lymington is more than 60km east of Radipole they would have had to have kept up an airspeed of approaching 120 km/hour to have flown the distance in the 35 minutes between the sightings - my guess is the Lymington birds were a different group. The third group reported was at the Ouse Washes in East Anglia while the south coast 'bird race' was in progress

Mute Swan: Of local interest the Budds Farm pools pair in Havant had all five of their cygnets in view with them on Sep 14 but shortly after seeing them I found what I assumed to be the Langstone Pond family in the mouth of the Langbrook stream with only five (not six) cygnets in view. A different local family (two adults with four cygnets) was seen on Sep 19 at the Fishery Lake in south east Hayling

Brent Goose: First Dark-bellied arrivals were seen on Sep 14 when two went past Dungeness and two were seen on the Dutch coast. On Sep 15 two flew into Chichester Harbour from the sea at 8:30am and two were seen off the Warblington/Langstone shore later in the afternoon, singles were also seen at Gatteville in Normandy and at a Dutch site. Then on Sep 16 Langstone Harbour had a flock of 13, Christchurch Harbour saw its first 2 and 5 flew past Le Clipon near Calais. On Sep 17 two were seen off Jersey in the Channel Isles and two more were at Spurn Point in Yorkshire. By Sep 18 the number in Langstone Harbour was up to 49, the north Kent coast had 22 at Seasalter, and 2 had reached Kingsbridge in Devon. Latest news is of 16 near Exmouth in Devon on Sep 19. All these sightings almost certainly represent birds still in transit, not at their wintering destinations

Pale Bellied Brent: Bob Chapman reminds us that this race of Brent startes to reach us from the north of Canada some two weeks earlier than the Dark-bellied birds coming from the north of Russia, and this was confirmed this year when the first flock of 41 Pale-bellied birds was reported from the Outer Hebrides on Aug 29. Most of these birds winter in Ireland but a minority fly on to winter on the west coast of France, normally passing over our west country en route. One forerunner of these was seen on Tresco in the Scillies on Aug 28 and another singleton that had lost touch with its flying companions was seen on the Lymington Marshes on Sep 6. What is likely to have been this same bird then appeared in Southampton Water on Sep 10 and demonstrated its wild nature by moving away from observers on the shore, disproving my ill judged comment that it might have been an escape from a wildfowl collection. On Sep 11 three more Pale-bellied birds were seen on the south coast of Devon near Exmouth and on Sep 16 two more were at Appledore on the north Devon coast near Bideford.

Egyptian Goose: More than 41 were on the Eversley pits near the Berkshire border in north Hampshire on Sep 19 along with around 160 Greylags

Shelduck: A few adults stay here through the summer moult period to chaperone the juveniles and a bird seen on the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on Sep 14 may have been one of these though a report of 16 passing Dungeness that same day suggests that adults are starting to return from the German/Dutch coast where they have been moulting.

Wigeon: These are now pouring back into our south coast area and the species will soon cease to be newsworthy. On Sep 13 Hook/Warsash had 13 while Christchurch Harbour had 80. Sep 14 found 84 on the north Kent coast at Oare Marshes, 2 on Sinah Lake (Hayling), 4 on Tundry Pond (west of Fleet in north Hampshire), 40 on the Blashford Lakes and another 82 passing Dungeness. On Sep 15 there were 70 at the mouth of Chichester Harbour with 4 on Sinah Lake, and on Sep 16 Christchurch Harbour had some 330 while Langstone Harbour had 400. By Sep 19 there were around 370 on the Avon Flood near Lymington and 200 in Pagham Harbour

Gadwall: On Sep 15 there were 60 at Rye Harbour to give the highest count of the autumn so far

Pintail: We have already reported a flock of more than 50 in Pagham Harbour on Sep 11 and now such flocks are turning up in other places - on Sep 16 Christchurch Harbour had 25 and Langstone Harbour had 35

Garganey: Two were at the Dungeness RSPB Site on Sep 13 but since then the only reports have been of one on the Sinah Lake (south Hayling) from Sep 11 to 19 at least

Blue-winged Teal: One seen flying from the north into Titchfield Haven on Sep 16 may well have been the same bird that was at the Haven on Aug 28 and then at the Portsmouth IBM Lake on Aug 31. It is thought to be an adult blown across the Atlantic by a recent hurricane but both its origin and age are disputed. Three juveniles which arrived in the Outer Hebrides around Sep 13 are seemingly agreed to be vagrants

Pochard: Three seen on Fleet Pond in north Hampshire on Sep 16 were said to be new arrivals there though we are not yet seeing an invasion of this species to match the 338 reported at a Dutch site on Sep 7

Scaup: The first British report which I have seen for this autumn was of one at Spurn Point on Sep 17

Red-breasted Merganser: One seen at Hook/Warsash on Sep 15 is likely to have been the one summering in that area but last year the 'first of the autumn' was claimed at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 10 with another five flying west past nearby Barton on Sea on Sep 13 though no others were reported until Sep 25 when three were in Langstone Harbour (and I did not see a double figure count until Oct 22 when 15 were in Portsmouth Harbour).

Honey Buzzard: On Sep 14 one flew south east over Tadley near Basingstoke and another went over Durlston. Christchurch Harbour reported one on Sep 16 and another flew south from Portland on Sep 17

Marsh Harrier: A juvenile seen over Radipole (Weymouth) on Sep 16 is likely to have been one of the three offspring of the pair which nested there this year (first breeding in Dorset for 50 years). I see that on Sep 15 there was an intentional fire at Radipole which seems to have got out of control and burnt more of the reedbed than was intended (but I do not have any details of what happpened). On Sep 19 a male was over the Bracklesham area west of Selsey

Osprey: Latest reports are of one over Langstone Harbour on Sep 18 and one over the Lymington shore on Sep 19

Merlin: Sightings this week come from Durlston on Sep 14 and 17, Sandwich Bay on Sep 18, and a female over the Bracklesham area west of Selsey on Sep 19

Quail: One reported (presumably seen) on Sep 16 at Badminston Common near Fawley on the edge of the New Forest was presumably another migrant pausing there on its way south

Spotted Crake: On Sep 13 one was heard making its 'whiplash' call at Christchurch Harbour and two othere were on St Marys and St Agnes islands in the Scillies. The bird which has been at the Dungeness RSPB site since Sep 6 was still present on Sep 15 and a new bird was in Devon on Sep 18

Coot: A count of 58 in the adjacent Peter Pond and Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on Sep 15 shows that these birds are now moving to the coast for the winter.

Golden Plover: A count of 100 at Rye Harbour on Sep 15 was the first three figure count for Sussex this autumn (though the Oare Marshes in north Kent had around 500 on Aug 15)

Sanderling: An estimate of 85 birds on the sands off Ryde (IoW) on Sep 16 was also the highest so far for the south coast this autumn (though there had been 70 at Climping near Worthing on Aug 9 and 60 there on Aug 14 with 70+ reported from the Pilsey Sands in Chichester Harbour on Sep 6)

Little Stint: Two at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Sep 15 to 17, one at each of Titchfield Haven and the Lymington Marshes on Sep 18 and 19

Purple Sandpiper: One at Dungeness on Sep 15 was the third singleton seen on the English south coast this autumn (two more have been reported from the French coast) since the early returnee at Portland on Aug 25

Black-tailed Godwit: A flock of 159 at Hook/Warsash on Sep 15 contained four juveniles. This is the first mention of Icelandic juveniles that I have seen other than the comment that a flock of 17 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 15 were mostly juveniles. 201 were at the Lymington marshes on Sep 19

Greenshank: One seen in the outfall of the Lymbourne stream by the Old Mill at Langstone on Sep 15 is the first report this autumn of what is probably the regular wintering bird returning there. 24 were at Farlington Marshes on Sep 18

Arctic Skua: Local sightings at Sandy Point on Hayling of a juvenile on Sep 15, probably three on Sep 16 and at least one on Sep 18

Little Gull: A count of 149 at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Sep 16 may well mark the start of their main autumn passage - this is the first substantial count from a British site since late April. One at Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 18.

Sabine's Gull: Two juveniles seen off the north Kent coast on Sep 14

Ring-billed Gull: One off the Cornish coast on Sep 16 is only the second report of the species this autumn (the first was also off Cornwall on Aug 29)

Lesser Black-back Gull: 1520 roosted at the Eversley Gravel Pits near Fleet innorth Hampshire on Sep 19

Kittiwake: Spurn Point reported 3124 there on Sep 16 - this was by far the highest count of this autumn so far

Sandwich Tern: Around 3000 flew past Cap Gris-Nez on each of Sep 5 and 6 but there were still 1210 off Gatteville in Normandy on Sep 14. On Sep 15 three which had taken the overland route from the North Sea flew down the Test Valley near Romsey and 41 (with 263 Common Tern) still came to roost in Langstone Harbour that evening

Auk species: 123 were off Spurn Point on Sep 15 with 72 there on Sep 17, all probably on their way south

Guillemot: One was around the mouth of Chichester Harbour from Sep 14 to 18 when it became stranded on the shore and was taken into care (though nothing was apparently wrong with it)

Razorbill: one was off the mouth of the River Hamble on Sep 16

Turtle Dove: One seen near Weymouth on Sep 13 and another at Portland on Sep 19

Cuckoo: One seen on the west shore of Poole Harbour on Sep 13 and one on the Scillies (St Agnes) on Sep 16

Short-eared Owl: The arrival of these increased its pace with 4 at Portland on Sep 19 after one arrived in Devon on Sep 18 (the first autumn bird was at Portland on Aug 31)

Nightjar: On Sep 15 a departing bird was found sitting on the handle of a spade in the garden of a house in the Alresford area near Winchester

Wryneck: One was caught and ringed at Portland on Sep 17 after reports of singles in the Lands End area on Sep 14 and one on the Scillies on Sep 13

Swift: A late bird over Weymouth on Sep 13 is the only sighting this week

Wryneck: Two at Portland on Sep 17 and one there on Sep 18 (when another was at Hastings Country Park)

Skylark: 20 over Sandwich Bay on Sep 19 are the first autumn passage birds to be mentioned

Sand Martin: More than 30 were the only hirundines over Budds Farm pools in Havant when I was there on Sep 14 (when around 1000 were over the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood). The same number of birds were at Blashford on Sep 15 when Durlston had 300

Swallow: 2800 over Durlston on Sep 15, 1700 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 16 and 3750 over the Channel Isles on Sep 17. By Sep 19 the number of Swallows (9600) flying east over Christchurch Harbour exceeded the number of House Martins (only 1000) for the first time during the current period.

'White' Swallow: In connection with the recent discussion on the rarity of 'white Swallows' after one was known to have hatched in an Aberdeenshire nest this summer, and another was reported in the Curdridge area by the River Hamble on Sep 10, we now know that one white bird (with several normal siblings) was hatched in a nest at Botley (very close to Curdridge) this summer and that another white bird had been present at the Botley site 20 years ago. Google tells me that two leucistic Barn Swallows were hatched this summer in a nest at Dripping Springs near Columbia in Missouri, USA. None of those I am aware of were true albinos, just very leucistic.

House Martin: Unexpectedly large numbers have been seen at several places on the south coast this week starting with an estimated 15000 coming in high off the sea and heading north west over Hook/Warsash on Sep 13 (Mark Palmer only noticed them by chance when scanning the sky and they were not noticed by other birders in the area even after Mark had commented on them! This reminded me of Trevor Carpenter's chance discovery - one day several years back - that the sky above him was filled from horizon to horizon with Swifts which were undetectable to the naked eye). On Sep 14 there were 9500 over Christchurch Harbour and on Sep 15 Durlston reported 4800 with another 3300 over Christchurch on Sep 16 (Christchurch Harbour had previously reported an autumn peak of 25,000 overhead on Sep 10).

Meadow Pipit: Christchurch Harbour had 1400 on Sep 18 and 1100 on Sep 19

Richard's Pipit: The first to be reported this autumn was at The Lizard in Cornwall on Sep 15 and the second was seen in Holland on Sep 17 when what was probably the bird from the Lizard was over the Scillies (St Agnes)

Tawny Pipit: After some 26 reports from the continent since Aug 18 there have been three reports from our south coast - one at Sandwich Bay on Sep 18, one at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 19 and another that day at Portland. These give support to Colin Allen's 'probable' sighting at Lymington on Sep 8.

Red-throated Pipit: John Clark had an unconfirmed report of one on the Lymington shore on Sep 15. Another sighting reported from Northam Burrowes in Devon on Sep 19

Rock Pipit: These are now moving with sightings on Sep 18 of 1 at Farlington Marshes and 7 at Portland

Robin: More continental birds arriving with 50 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 18 and 70+ at Seaford on Sep 19

Dunnock: Also now moving in southern England with 70+ at Seaford on Sep 19 (the first reports of passage birds on the continent started on Sep 7)

Stonechat: These seem to have stepped up their move to coastal winter quarters with 19 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 16

Ring Ouzel: Second autumn bird on our south coas was at Durlston on Sep 15 after the first at Portland on Sep 10

Fieldfare: 15 flying over the golf course at Hunston (just south of Chichester) on Sep 18 may be the same early flock reported as 16 birds at a Belgian site on Sep 15 (after one had been seen in Holland on Sep 1)

Song Thrush: Counts of 52 at Spurn Point on Sep 15, 63 there on Sep 16 and 37 on Sep 17 seem to indicate the arrival of continental birds that will winter here. Two continental birds were trapped at Sandwich Bay on Sep 18 and Portland had 2 arrivals on Sep 19

Redwing: On Sep 15 Spurn Point also had 5 Redwing

Mistle Thrush: A count of 59 at a Dutch site on Sep 17 may show that they are now moving to winter quarters. Of local interest was the appearance of a young bird at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Sep 15 - none are known to have nested anywhere near Brook Meadow since 2005

Cetti's Warbler: Song heard at Langstone Pond on Sep 15 - maybe the resident bird (last heard to sing there on June 25) defending his territory against an interloper (dispersing birds are now turning up along the south coast, e.g. one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 12 where none have been found previously)

Melodious Warbler: One in Cornwall on Sep 14 (still there on Sep 16), one in the Scillies on Sep 15, and one briefly in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 15. Latest is one in Devon on Sep 17.

Blackcap: Two surges reported in the latest news - on Sep 12 there were possibly 900 in the Seaford area though only 280 were claimed, and on Sep 19 the ringers at Whitbread Hollow on Beachy Head reported 400

Barred Warbler: One in the Scillies on Sep 13 (after one at Spurn Point on Sep 11).

Yellow-browed Warbler: First of the autumn at Spurn Point on Sep 15 and the second in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 19

Siberian Chiffchaff: A possible first for this winter seen well in a Romsey garden on Sep 20

Red-breasted Flycatcher: Two arrivals on Sep 15 - one at Dungeness and the other at Spurn Point

Peak counts of regular migrants during this week have been .. Tree Pipit (5), Meadow Pipit (1400), Rock Pipit (7), Yellow Wagtail (58), Grey Wagtail (9), 'Alba Wagtail' (28), White Wagtail (3), Dunnock (70+), Robin (70+), Common Redstart (12), Whinchat (17), Stonechat (19), Wheatear (90), Ring Ouzel (1), Fieldfare (16), Song Thrush (63), Redwing (5), Mistle Thrush (59), Grasshopper Warbler (3), Sedge Warbler (5), Reed Warbler (1), Lesser Whitethroat (6), Common Whitethroat (14), Garden Warbler (5), Blackcap (400), Yellow-browed Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (140+), Willow Warbler (30), Goldcrest (3), Firecrest (3), Spotted Flycatcher (6), Red-breasted Flycatcher (1), Pied Flycatcher (8)

Great Tit: Nigel Jones on Hoslist drew our attention to an article in the current issue of the New Scientist describing how Great Tits in central Europe have learnt to eat the brains of live but hibernating bats as a nourishing source of winter food

Red-backed Shrike: One at Spurn Point from Sep 15-17, two at Sandwich Bay on Sep 18, one at Durlston on Sep 19.

Great Grey Shrike: First in England for this winter was one in Thanet (Kent) on Sep 18 and 19

Woodchat Shrike: One was found at Nanquidno in Cornwall on Sep 15 (seen again on Sep 16)

Rook: Migrating birds seen at Portland on Sep 17 (4 birds) and Christchurch Harbour on Sep 19 (5 birds going east)

Raven: At least two seem to be well established in the Hayling Island area this year. Two were seen at Mill Rythe on the east shore of the island on Mar 8, Apr 12 and 26, and Aug 16. Singles were seen in September over Sandy Point (on Sep 4) and Northney (Sep 5), and subsequently there have been three sightings of birds heading west over the southern strip of the island (3 over Sandy Point on Sep 12 and 2 over the Sinah Common area in the evenings of Sep 14 and 17).

Rose Coloured Starling: The juvenile seen in the Sheepcote valley at Brighton on Sep 11 was still there on Sep 12. On Sep 16 two more juveniles were seen, one in Devon and one in Cornwall, and on Sep 17 one was in the Scillies (St Agnes). The Devon bird at Wembury was seen again on Sep 19.

Tree Sparrow: A few seem to have arrived from the continent this week with five at Hope Gap near Beachy Head on Sep 11, one in the Wareham area of Dorset on Sep 13 and one at Black Point on Hayling (with 5 House Sparrows) on Sep 14. Since then there have been two at Titchfield Haven from Sep 17 to 19, six at West Bexington in Dorset on Sep 17, four east over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 18 (two lots of two), and two were at Portland on Sep 19

Chaffinch: These seem to have started moving to winter quarters with reports of 5 at Spurn Point on Sep 16 and 105 at one Dutch site on Sep 17 (with 67 that day at another Dutch site). On Sep 19 Christchurch Harbour reported 27 going over.

Brambling: After a couple of recent reports from the near continent two were at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Sep 15 and 16 with one there on Sep 17

Linnet: Portland reported 'many over' on Sep 15 and Christchurch Harbour had 46 over on Sep 19

Snow Bunting: The first of the autumn was one at Spurn Point on Sep 15 and 16 with five there on Sep 17

Reed Bunting: These are now moving in substantial numbers with 60 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 19

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: Two seen in the Havant area (where they are common) on Sep 14 and on Sep 15 two were seen at Rye Harbour (where they are uncommon)

Brown Hawker: One seen at Rye Harbour on Sep 15

Migrant Hawker: One in the Havant area on Sep 14

Red-veined Darter: One or more seen at the Badminston Common pits near Fawley southeast of the New Forest on Sep 16

Common Darter: Some 15 seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Sep 14

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa): One at Rye Harbour on Sep 15 is the first to get a mention anywhere so far this year

Butterflies

23 species stil flying this week

Clouded Yellow: Four reports from Sussex with four seen at three of the sites (Arlington, Bexhill and Beachy Head) and six at the fourth (Seaford Head on Sep 11). By Sep 18 there seems to have been a further wave of arriving migrants giving counts of 20+ at Birling Gap on Beachy Head on Sep 18 and 30+ at the tip of Beachy Head on Sep 19

Brown Hairstreak: This butterfly seems to have had a good season with reports from 11 sites since the first was seen at Horsham on July 14. There was an unexpected sighting on Sep 12 just outside the perimeter of Gatwick airport, seen by people waiting to 'wave goodbye' to friends on a departing aircraft and the latest date so far is Sep 17 with one on Bedelands Farm near Haywards Heath

White Admiral: A fresh specimen seen in the Borwnwich area west of Titchfield Haven on Sep 16 is the first indication of the emergence of a second brood (we last saw one of these in 2006 with White Admirals seen from Sep 3 to Oct 15

Moths

To see images of moths mentioned below go to http://ukmoths.org.uk/ and enter the 'Bradley and Fletcher' number of the species (given in brackets in my notes) in the Moth Name Search box, then press Enter.

Note 1. Omit leading zeroes from my version of the numbers (for 0382 enter 382)

Note 2. The result of entering this number will normally be a list of links to different pictures. To see one of the pictures and its accompanying data click one of the links (where it says View Thumbnails click that to choose the best picture, then click the picture)

Note 3. For further (and often better!) info go to Mike Wall's http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/ and enter the B&F Number in the search box of this site (but in this case include the leading zero!), then click the first of the search results

N.B. Mike Wall's recently improved website is well worth a visit - go there and try out all the facilities including the Flight-time Guide, Annual Records and the Density Maps which you access via the Distribuition Maps

Caloptilia populetorum (0281): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Black-spot Flat-body (0696 Agonopterix propinquella): First at Newhaven on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Cosmopterix pulchrimella (0896b): On Sep 12 Jon Stokes was with his young son at Portchester Castle (Fareham) when they saw a cloud of around 400 tiny moths of this species dancing around Pellitory of the Wall plants, the leaves of which are mined by the larvae of this moth. This species is found in southern Europe but was not found in Britain until 2001 when it was discovered in Dorset. It has since been found at other sites in Britain and the Channel Isles and was first seen in Hampshire in December 2007 (at Portchester Castle). The moth normally flies in December and January but has been recorded in October but not September (according to Mike Wall's recently re-vamped Hants Moths website)

Cochylis atricapitana (0966): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Rhomboid tortrix (1042 Acleris rhombana): First at Newhaven on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Acleris emargana (1062): First report for the year from Portland on Sep 13

The Mallow (1745 Larentia clavaria): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): The fourteenth report which I have picked up was of one at Portland on Sep 12 (8 of the 14 reports come from Portland where the first was seen on June 27)

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): I now have 49 reports for this year, the latest being from Devon on Sep 16

Lesser Yellow Underwing (2109 Noctua comes): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Autumnal Rustic (2117 Paradiarsia glareosa): First for the year at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 12 with the first for Sussex being recorded on Sep 13

Heath Rustic (2135 Xestia agathina): Christchurch Harbour also had the first of these on Sep 12 with another at Portland on Sep 13

Hedge Rustic (2177 Tholera cespitis): Another first at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 12

Feathered Gothic (2178 Tholera decimalis): Another first at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 12

Feathered Brindle (2230 Aporophyla australis): First at Rye Harbour on Sep 19

Green-brindled Crescent (2245 Allophyes oxyacanthae): First at Newhaven on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Feathered Ranunculus (2255 Eumichtis lichenea): Another first at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 12

The Brick (2262 Agrochola circellaris): First somewhere in Sussex on Sep 18

Beaded Chestnut (2267 Agrochola lychnidis): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Orange Sallow (2271 Xanthia citrago): First somewhere in Sussex on Sep 18

Pink-barred Sallow (2273 Xanthia togata): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

The Sallow (2274 Xanthia icteritia): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Marsh Mallow Moth (2363 Hydraecia osseola): This uncommon species was trapped at Rye on Sep 13 and is the first I know of this year

Large Wainscot (2375 Rhizedra lutosa): First at Pagham Harbour on Sep 18 (National Moth Night)

Moth/Butterfly Larvae: On Sep 13 the shrunken corpse of an unspecified caterpillar was found on Wolstonbury Hill at Pyecombe (north of Brighton) with what looked like two bubbles of 'Cuckoo spit' exuding from the corpse. The 'Cuckoo spit' did not contain Froghopper larvae but was home to many very tiny flies which had clearly eaten the insides of the caterpillar and were just about to emerge and take wing.

Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar: One of these large and distinctive larvae was found on Greater Willowherb in Emsworth on Sep 14

Fox Moth caterpillar: Two seen on the ground seeking somewhere to pupate on Portsdown Hill on Sep19

Other Insects

Chrysotoxum festivum hoverfly: What may have been one of these was in my garden on Sep 20

Common Wasp: These seem to have had a better year than in the recent past and on Sep 18 two active nests were found in the ground at Climping near Worthing

Ladybird species: What was I think a 10 spot Ladybird settled on the outside of one of my house windows on Sep 19 reminding me that soon large numbers of Ladybirds will do the same in the hope of finding a way into the house and hibernating there

Great Silver Water Beetle: Two of these were in a moth trap at Rye Harbour on Sep 19

Wasp Spider (Argioppe bruenicchi): We are coming to the end of the season for seeing these but I did come across a large female on her web at the Langstone South Moors on Sep 14 and it reminded me that it is now worth keeping an eye open for the egg cases that are left by the females (which normally die very soon after laying their eggs). The egg case looks like a globular Japanese paper lantern which the female hangs from the tips of grass stalks which she binds together with her last silk and which from an arch with the egg case hanging in its centre.

Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus): These are normally seen throughout the late summer on the outside of my house but this year the first to get a mention was one seen on a fence post on Portsdown on Sep 19

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Narrow-leaved Pepperwort: I was surprised to find a freshly flowering plant on Sep 14 in pavement cracks by the A27 Langstone roundabout (where several plants appear regularly in spring). I have not seen it there since May

Pale Flax: Still flowering at Durlston on Sep 20

Corn Cockle: This was flowering in a field margin beside the footpath going uphill from Stoughton village (near the source of the R Ems) to Inholmes Wood, seen by the Havant Wildlife Group on their regular Saturday morning walk. It was part of a large scale wild flower seed sowing which included Corn Chamomile, Cornflower, Borage, Sainfoin, and Tansy-leaved Phacelia. Dwarf Spurge was also seen, though I suspect this may have been growing there naturally (along with Field Pansy, though that was not reported)

Lesser Sea Spurrey: Another surprise this week, growing along the edge of the sliproad bringing traffic from the eastbound A27 into Havant, was Lesser Sea Spurrey flowering freely in very dry roadside mud. The plants flourish here in spring when the mud is wet and saturated with salt which has run off from the roads where it was strewn to clear ice but I was surprised to see the flowers in the present conditions

Enchanter's Nightshade: An unexpected re-flowering in Havant on Sep 14

Shaggy Soldier: I have failed to see this plant so far this year but on Sep 18 Brian Fellows found lots of it flowering at the Prinsted market garden plot

Black Knapweed (Centaurea nigra): On Sep 18 the Durlston Rangers log mentioned that Lesser Knapweed (C. nemoralis) was flowering there. I had not heard of this species and I find that Stace notes that .. "British botanists have been unable to maintain a distinction between C. nigra and C. nemoralis " so he does not admit it as either a species or subspecies though he does admit that the name is used to refer to plants with smaller proportions than normal Black Knapweed

Holly: This week I noticed fully red Holly berries among other trees laden with fully ripe Hawthorn fruit

Galingale (Cyperus longus): Brian Fellows has a photo on his website (see http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-827-galingale-birdham--16.09.09.jpg ) of this plant which he found growing on a roadside at Birdham on the east shore of Chichester Harbour. It is clearly different from the fairly common garden escape American Galingale both in its extended inflorescence and its long 'leaves' which are technically bracts since they occur at the base of the flowers. Galingale is native to Britain and can be found in a wild state in marshy situations but I suspect this plant originated with a gardener who wanted to be 'one up' on the others who plant the American version . This is the first time that either I or Brian have come across this elegant species.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: 4+ seen off the south Devon shore on Sep 16 - the fourth report of them in the Channel which I have seen since 30 were off the Channel Islands on Aug 30

Bottle-nosed Whale: A very unexpected appearance by one of these off the Bournemouth coast, apparently feeding happily on shoals of Mackerel from Sep 15 to 17 at least. This is a deep water species normally feeding on Squid in water that is at least 1000 feet deep and only coming into coastal waters when sick or confused - last year at the beginning of August one beached itself on mud off Langstone village where a blood sample showed it to be very sick and it was then 'put down', before that one was found in the Thames at London and died during attempts to get it out to sea again. The current animal shows all signs of good health at the moment - the Dorest bird website has a great picture of it 'sitting up and looking around' with half its body vertically out of the water and I hear that it has been seen to hurl its whole body clear of the water.


Summary for Sep 7 - 13 (Week 36 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

All three common Diver species have been seen back on the south coast but I suspect that a lone Pale-bellied Brent in Hampshire is not a genuine migrant while three on the Devon coast probably are. General recent news from the RSPB indicates that breeding Bitterns are increasing in number in Britain while the Blog of a Briton living in Spain has bad news about White Stork breeding. Oddities include a Glossy Ibis and a Zitting Cisticola, both in Kent, and a record flock of 900 Canada Geese at Titchfield Haven. Locally the area around Bridge Farm at Northney on Hayling has rewarded local birders with a great show of departing summer migrants. No news yet of Dark-bellied Brent but the first Brambling of the winter has been seen in Belgium and Pink-foot Geese are heading south on the east coast - other wildfowl such as Wigeon and Teal have arrived in hundreds (and the regular Fudge Duck is back at Budds Farm). The week has seen huge numbers of hirundines moving along the south coast and thousands of terns passing down the English Channel. Among smaller birds autumn passage is nearing its peak

Many butterflies are still on the wing and they may have been joined by an out of season Orange Tip. The first Silver-striped Hawkmoth of the year is the highspot of Insect News while a 22 Spot Ladybird gets its first mention of the year in these notes.

Ivy, Gorse and Butchers Broom are newly in flower as is the Strawberry Tree at Northney Church on Hayling

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Two species already back in Hampshire waters - a Red-throated in breeding plumage was seen off Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 9 and a Black-throated flew west past Titchfield Haven on Sep 8 (after the first Black-throated had been seen from Portland on Sep 6). In Devon at Great Northern was off Start Point on Sep 7. Since these first sightings Red-throated have been seen on Sep 11 off both Selsey and Christchurch Harbour

Little Grebe: I do not know how far it had flown on its relatively tiny wings but one had arrived on the Slipper Pond at Emsworth on Sep 9 - the first seen there this autumn

Great Crested Grebe: These too are on the move from breeding to winter quarters - on Sep 6 three flew past Portland and on Sep 8 a flock of 47 were in the Chalkdock area of Langstone Harbour (north east of Farlington Marshes) where they regularly appear in good numbers at this time of year before moving on to their final destinations for the winter

Black-necked Grebe: The Dungeness RSPB reserve reported its first autumn arrival on Sep 6 and that one was still present on Sep 8 (others have been seen near Selsey on Aug 9 and on the Drayton Lake at Chichester on Aug 28 and 30)

Shag: Eight were seen off Selsey on Sep 6 with one juvenile off Sandy Point (Hayling) on Sep 9 - possibly all these come from the small breeding colony on the Isle of Wight.

Bittern: The RSPB put out news this week saying that the number of Bittern breeding in Britain continues to increase (82 booming males in 2009 against 75 in 2008), and that this increase also applies to Kent and East Sussex with four of the 82 there (at Rye Harbour, Dungeness RSPB reserve and two more 'somewhere in Kent' which I guess refers to the Stour Valley east of Canterbury). Latest news is of one at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Sep 8

Cattle Egret: The longstay bird at the Keyhaven (Lymington) Marshes was still there on Sep 12 and a different bird was in the fields north of Pagham Harbour on Sep 11

Little Egret: The trees at Langstone Pond were crowded with these birds when I passed there at high tide in the afternoon of Sep 10 - no roost counts from this site this autumn but Rye Harbour reports the following counts since the low point of just 6 birds on April 19. 12 on May 3, 15 on June 12, 64 on July 21, 82 on Aug 8, and 85 on Sep 10.

Great White Egret: The bird which has been at the Dungeness RSPB reserve since Aug 15 was still there on Sep 12 (when 8 were reported from a site in Belgium - one of several sites in th Low Countries which regularly reported ones or twos)

White Stork: Most of the breeding birds on the near continent have now (I think) departed but on Sep 7 four different sites in Belgium and Holland reported 3, 24, 19 and 26 respectively passing over. Not sure what breeding success they have had in the Low Countries but Brian Banks (in an entry for Sep 9 on the Rye Bay website) draws our attention to a blog ( http://birdingextremadura.blogspot.com/2009/07/28-july-2009.html ) written by Martin Kelsey, a professional birdwatching tour guide living in the Extremadura region of southern Spain (on the Portuguese border south west of Madrid). Martin says the summer has been very hot and dry and he goes on .. "Very dry springs and summers here can have an impact on the birds. A friend of mine has over 30 White Stork nests on a ruin on his property. This year, for the first time ever, many pairs seemingly abandoned their young, about two weeks before they were ready to leave the nest. Some perished on the nests, whilst other youngsters flew to the ground, where they were seen drinking water from the dogs’ bowl. My friend managed to catch some of these young birds and contacted an animal rescue clinic to collect them. They arrived with their vehicle already almost full of boxes containing young storks. Clearly the phenomenon appears to be quite widespread. The reason seems to be that the parents abandoned young birds because they could not bring enough food to the nest. An important part of the storks’ diet at this time of the year is grasshoppers. This year grasshoppers have been very scarce, largely because of the drought. Normally there will be huge numbers on the plains, attracting Buzzards, Black Kites, Montagu’s Harriers, Lesser Kestrel, Ravens as well as the White Storks. I suspect that all of these species have had a hard time this year."

Glossy Ibis: One was seen on the north Kent coast on the evening of Sep 5 and it has been in the Stour Valley from Sep 6 to 10 at least

Pink-foot Goose: None yet reported in southern England but but on Sep 11 Spurn Point in Yorkshire reported 50 and on Sep 12 Carnoustie (east coast of Scotland just north of Dundee) had 535.

Canada Goose: A count of around 900 airborne over Titchfield Haven at dusk on Sep 12 could well be a new Hampshire record for a single flock of this locust like pestilential swam species. When I saw this figure I was not aware of any flocks exceeding 600 birds but I see that Hampshire has a record of 855 at the Bramshill Police College Lake in north Hampshire in Sep 2007 while Sussex has a report of 1000+ on the Ouse at Piddinghoe on 30 Oct 2007

Dark-bellied Brent: Last year the first migrants to reach Britain were four birds in Pegwell Bay (East Kent) on Sep 12 with 9 in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Sep 13, but this year I can find no mention of the species anywhere on the internet by late afternoon on Sep 13. A flock of 15 birds was reported to have flown west over the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Sep 6 but these must have been local summering birds (or possibly mis-identified as to species) - new migrants come via open sea and if stopping off they would only be seen in the mouth of Chichester or Langstone Harbours.

Pale Bellied Brent: I have already reported a flock of 41 arriving in the outer Hebrides on Aug 29 which I took to be genuine migrants. Later others coming from Canada will fly as far south as north west France with some of them stopping off on our south coast en route so when Bob Chapman reported one present on the Pennington Marshes (Lymington) on Sep 6 I assumed it was a stray from the current passage but a later report of one (the same bird?) in Southampton Water and not seemingly 'wild' may suggest otherwise. Three birds seen on rocks in the Exe estuary mouth near Exmouth on Sep 11 do sound like migrants

Wigeon: Reports from five sites between Sep 6 and 9, with 12 in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 9 confirm Steve Piggott's comment (from the Keyhaven Marshes (Lymington) on Sep 8) that they are starting to return. Locally Mike Collins had one on the Budds Farm pools in Sep 6 and by this weekend a count of 381 had been reported from a Dutch coastal site on Sep 12 with 109 on the Lymington Marshes that day

Teal: By Sep 10 there were around 180 at Pulborough Brooks and on Sep 12 there were 160 at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight

Pintail: More than 50 were in Pagham Harbour off Church Norton on Sep 11

Garganey: An eclipse drake has been on the Sinah gravel pit lake (South Hayling) from Sep 11 to 13 at least. Another dropped in at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 12

Pochard: A report of 338 passage birds from a Dutch site on Sep 7 and the probable presence of two new arrivals at the Havant Budds Farm pools on Sep 8 indicate the imminent arrival of our winter birds

Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid: I believe I saw the male 'Fudge Duck' (which has been returning to the north of Langstone Harbour each winter since Nov 1999) back on the Budds Farm pools on Sep 8 (see my Dairy entry for that day below) but I may have been mistaken (or I may have seen a similar female bird which was on the pools in Feb 2007)

Honey Buzzard: One flew over the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Sep 4 and another was seen at Brading Marshes (Isle of Wight) on Sep 6 when another flew over the Scillies. On Sep 8 a group of four flew low over the fields north of Pagham Harbour (on Sep 7 a total of 8 were recorded at one Dutch site). Back here in southern England Sep 10 brought reports of singles from Luccombe Down (IoW) and Ballard Down near Swanage (maybe the same bird), Sep 11 saw one over Christchurch Harbour and Sep 12 brought at report from Andover.

Marsh Harrier: On Sep 6 two were over Pulborough Brooks and one was hunting the saltings east of Thorney Island. On Sep 7 a male was over Langstone Harbour and another passed over Dungeness. Sep 10 saw a juvenile over Pulborough Brooks, two over Dungeness and one over Christchurch Harbour. Another two went over Dungeness on Sep 12.

Hen Harrier: One seen in the New Forest on Sep 12

Montagu's Harrier: A juvenile was seen well over the Selsey west fields on both Sep 10 and 11 (when a female was seen in Devon)

Sparrowhawk: On Sep 5 Dungeness RSPB reserve recorded more than 20 migrants passing over (maybe including 11 which went over the Dungeness bird observatory that day)

Osprey: Singles were reported from Thorney Island on Sep 6 and 7 with one over the Sidlesham Ferry Pool on Sep 7. Singles were also reported from Langstone Harbour on Sep 7 and 8 with one over Portsmouth Harbour on Sep 8 (when 3 were seen in the west of Poole Harbour). Sep 10 saw one over the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood, two at the Thornham Marshes area of Thorney Island and one over Christchurch Harbour. Among sightings on Sep 11 was one over Hook near Warsash plus a juvenile in the mouth of Pagham Harbour. Latest reports on Sep 12 come from Mill Rythe on Hayling and Newtown Harbour on the IoW

Merlin: One was seen at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) on Sep 7 and on Sep 9 one flew in off the sea at Christchurch Harbour. Since then they have become more frequent with 8 reports from Sep 10 to 12 including one at Lymington and possibly the same bird in the New Forest

Peregrine: On the evening of Sep 10 a Peregrine was seen flying around the power station chimney at Shoreham on which there has long been a well-used nest box for Peregrines. It seemed this bird was hoping to roost in the box but the box had vanished.

Red-legged Partridge: More than 50 were seen close to Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on Sep 12 - it was thought they were fleeing from a shoot going on in the area but it is also possible that they had recently been released in the area for shooting and had been reluctant to spread out over the fields after being brought up penned in the close company of many others

Quail: Another probable migrant on its way south was heard (alarm note only) and seen on Sep 7 in fields near Alresford where there have been no reports of 'singing' birds during the summer. On Sep 10 a group of three migrants were seen in Cornwall.

Water Rail: Calls were heard at the Little Deeps (Thorney Island) at dusk on Sep 6

Spotted Crake: A 'new' bird has been at the Dungeness RSPB reserve from Sep 6 to 12 at least and on Sep 10 a new bird was found at Bradiford in Devon

Avocet: Two were at Farlington Marshes on Sep 8, the first I have seen reported there since Aug 2. Elsewhere the tempo of movement to winter quarters is increasing - on Sep 7 there were 144 on the French Normandy coast and on Sep 10 there was a flock of 20 off Longmere Point on Thorney Island (just south of the east end of the Great Deeps) plus a flock of 18 seen passing Christchurch Harbour and then Portland.

Sanderling: More than 70 were on the Pilsey Sands when Martin Hampton and his brother walked around Thorney Island on Sep 6

Little Stint: A new report of one at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Sep 8

Baird's Sandpiper: Two birds still at separate sites in Cornwall on Sep 7

Pectoral Sandpiper: One on Tresco in the Scillies on Sep 9

Purple Sandpiper: One was at Selsey Bill with some Turnstones on Sep 6 (only the second autumn report from our south coast after one at Portland on Aug 25 although another single had been on the French coast near Cap Gris-nez on Sep 4 and 5)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: It seems that the two which were on the Scillies on Sep 9 have flown to mainland sites in Cornwall where they were seen on Sep 10 and 11

Bar-tailed Godwit: A group of around 20 seen on the Pilsey Sands (south of Thorney Island) on Sep 6 may have been around there for some time as a group of 15 were seen at West Wittering on Aug 13.

Arctic Skua: Cap Gris-nez reported 205 on Sep 6 (plus 103 Bonxies and 1 Long-tailed Skua that day)

Sandwich Tern: Cap Gris-nez reported 3350 passing on Sep 6 together with 8500 Common Terns

Black Tern: On Sep 6 there was one over Ivy Lake at Chichester and 22 were seen off Cap Gris-nez but on Sep 7 there was a count of 1555 from Almere in Holland - this town is east of Amsterdam at the southern end of the flooded polders and it would seem that these terns may have entered the polders from the North Sea and then become 'bottled up' at the southern end of the water. The previous high count of 220 for this autumn also came from this same site on Aug 27

Short-eared Owl: Two more arrivals from the south on Sep 12 - singles flying in at Portland and at Lodmoor (could have been the same bird)

Nightjar: One was churring at Christchurch Harbour as late as Sep 6 but that was outdone by one churring at midday on the west side of Poole Harbour on Sep 11. One was flushed from Luccombe Down on the IoW on Sep 10

Swift: Latest report is of one over Portland on Sep 9 after sightings on Sep 6 at Folkestone, Beachy Head and Climping (Worthing area). On Sep 12 one flew over a Belgian site

Kingfisher: These are now becoming regular sights along the coast with one seen along the 'canal' between the Thorney Island Little and Great Deeps on Sep 6, another on the Brockhampton Stream alongside Budds Farm in Havant on Sep 8 and two at the Keyhaven Marshes (Lymington) on Sep 9

Wryneck: Singles at nine coastal sites between Sep 6 and 11

Hirundines: Many now on the move - on Sep 9 Christchurch Harbour reported 2300 Swallows, 120 Sand Martins and 1600 House Martins. On Sep 11 50,000 Swallows were estimated to have flown over Devon and 12,000 wre reported over Jersey (Channel Isles) on Sep 12. Sep 10 also saw immense numbers of House Martins moving along the south coast with an estimate of 25,000 over Christchurch Harbour, followed on Sep 11 by a count of 5000 over Chapmans Pool on the Dorset coast and on Sep 12 Barton on Sea reported 2785 and Christchurch Harbour estimated 5000 passing over. Lesser figures were reported everywhere along the south coast during this period.

Albino Swallow: On Sep 10 an albino was reported from Curdridge on the River Hamble and John Clark said that he had not heard of an albino Swallow before. Steve Copsey then suggested that this might be the bird he had photographed in Aberdeenshire on Aug 8 and someone else reported that there had been another seen in Hampshire this summer.

Tawny Pipit: On Sep 8 Colin Allen saw a large unidentified Pipit at the Lymington Marshes and my immediate guess was that it might have been a Tawny Pipit on the basis that there have been at least 20 reports of these on the move across the near continent recently so I am interested to see that Steve Piggott has made the same guess at the bird's identity - still no confirmed sightings of the species in the south of England

Current passerine migrants: The highest counts of migant species seen on the south coast in the latest news are Tree Pipit (21), Meadow Pipit (1000+), Yellow Wagtail (150), Grey Wagtail (16), Pied Wagtail (4), White Wagtail (8), Black Redstart (1), Common Redstart (4), Whinchat (16), Stonechat (5), Wheatear (130+), Ring Ousel (1), Cetti's Warbler (1), Grasshopper Warbler (3), Aquatic Warbler (1), Sedge Warbler (15), Reed Warbler (30), Lesser Whitethroat (15+), Common Whitethroat (70), Garden Warbler (8), Blackcap (1000+), Wood Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (400), Willow Warbler (50), Spotted Flycatcher (10), Pied Flycatcher (4), Golden Oriole (1), Tree Sparrow (5), Siskin (50+), Linnet (220), Lesser Redpoll (1), Reed Bunting (1+)

Meadow Pipit: On Sep 10 Portland reported more than 1000 heading south, Christchurch Harbour had 250 and Sandy Point on Hay recorded 50

Yellow Wagtail: At least 150 came to roost at Titchfield Haven on the evening of Sep 12

Dunnock: No reports from English sites but these are clearly on the move on the continent with four reports from Germany and Holland (counts of 1, 8, 15 and 21)

Robin: Again no reports from our south coast but on Sep 7 Spurn Point in Yorkshire had 27 migrants

Ring Ouzel: One reported at Portland on Sep 10 - the first to get a mention in southern England since May

Cetti's Warbler: The arrival of one at Sandy Point on Hayling (where it settled down to sing in the nature reserve) shows that these are now on the move

Zitting Cisticola (aka Fan-tailed Warbler): One at Sandwich Bay on Sep 6 and 7

Aquatic Warbler: One had been ringed at Titchfield Haven on Aug 22 but the next report has only just come on Sep 10 from Dawlish Warren in Devon

Icterine Warbler: One at St Ives in Cornwall on Sep 7

Melodious Warbler: Two reports on Sep 6 from Lands End area and the Scillies

Barred Warbler: One at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Sep 11 caused me to look back to the date (29 Oct 2007) when one favoured us with a visit to Hayling Island

Blackcap: On Sep 6 the Whitbread Hollow ringing station at Beach Head reported more than 1000 (plus 400 Chiffchaffs) and Sandwich Bay had 300

Wood Warbler: One was seen in the fields north of Pagham Harbour on Sep 8

Chiffchaff: Both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were heard singing on Sep 12

Spotted Flycatcher: The current peak count of 8 was made in the trees along the paths around Bridge Farm at Northney on Hayling on Sep 9 - also seen at that site in the past few days have been up to 4 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Redstarts, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Yellow and 18 Pied Wagtails and a fly-over Raven

Golden Oriole: One on the Scillies on Sep 9 was the first returning migrant I know of

Jay: A count of 16 passage birds on Sep 7 at a site near Amsterdam may presage migrant arrivals in southern England

Raven: Three flew west over Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Sep 12

Rose-coloured Starling: The Portland bird has not been reported since Sep 6 but one has been seen in the Sheepcote Valley at Brighton on Sep 11

Starling: Autumn flocks are starting to build up around the Havant area but no specific counts so far

Tree Sparrow: A few vagrants from the larger number of birds on the move in the areas they have not yet abandoned have turned up on the south coast this week. Seven had been seen at Dungeness on Sep 4, then one at Portland on Sep 9 followed by five at Hope Gap near Beachy Head on Sep 11 and then on Sep 12 there were reports of two on the Dorset coast at Rngstead (Weymouth Bay) and one in a hedge at Chidden (south east of Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley)

Brambling: First autumn report comes from a Belgian site on Sep 8 (just one bird)

Siskin: On Sep 12 Portland reported the first of the autumn there while Sherford Bridge near Wareham had a flock of more than 50

Linnet: A report of 220 at Portland on Sep 10 indicates the start of serious autumn movement for this species

Lesser Redpoll: Just one at Portland on Sep 10

Common Rosefinch: One at Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset on Sep 6 (the day after one was seen at Durlston)

Lapland Bunting: One in the Scillies on Sep 9 and another report from Cornwall on Sep 11

Ortolan Bunting: One at Portland on Sep 9 was the first in southern England this autumn

Escapes: A Lanner falcon at Lymington on Sep 8

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Species getting a mention in the latest news are Southern and Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters

Butterflies

23 species in the latest news (not including the possible Orange Tip) but including fair numbers of Small Copper (19 on Windover Hill near Eastbourne), Adonis Blue (55 on Malling Down near Lewes), and Speckled Wood (61 on a long walk near Seaford),

Dingy Skipper: A 'possible only' very late sighting near Seaford on Sep 7

Swallowtail: One report among the bird news from Holland

Clouded Yellow: Singles reported from ten sites in southern England (including one between Fungtington and West Ashling near Chichester and one at Pagham Harbour) plus 2 seen at Dungeness

Orange Tip?: A 'possible' sighting reported from the Dorking area of Surrey on Sep 12 (stranger things have happened!)

Small Copper: These are flourishing with a count of 19 on Windover Hill near Eastbourne on Sep 8

Adonis Blue: A count of 55 on Malling Down near Lewes on Sep 6

Red Admiral: A new brood seems to have emerged within the past week giving counts of 10 from an Isle of Wight site on Sep 6 and, on Sep 7, counts of 56 at a Belgian site and 21 at a Dutch site

Moths

Oak Lutestring (1658 Cymatophorima diluta): First report from the Rye area on Sep 10

Convolvulus Hawkmoth: Several trapped at Portland this week plus one at Barton on Sea in Hampshire

Silver-striped Hawkmoth (1993 Hippotion celerio): The first for the year was trapped at Portland on Sep 7 and photographed alongside a Striped Hawk

Other Insects

22-spot Ladybird (Thea 22-punctata): First report for the year comes from Brook Meadow in Emsworth where Brian Fellows photographed one on Sep 9. This is a small but distinctive species with a yellow ground colour overlaid with 22 small black spots

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

159 species recorded so far in September (excluding grasses). Not mentioned individually below are the rarities found at Rye Harbour when members of the Sussex Botanical Reporting Society visited the reserve on Sep 5, after which Barry Yates wrote that they .. "found several late shingle flowers, including Sea Pea, Herb Robert, Red Hempnettle, Least lettuce, Marshmallow, Saltmarsh Goosefoot, Sea Heath and Slender Hare’s Ear."

Common Ramping Fumitory: The first flowers I have seen since July were out on Sep 7 at the New Lane Allotments in Havant

Common Gorse: Brian Fellows saw the first fresh autumn flowers at Emsworth on Sep 4 but I did not see any until Sep 8

Hairy Vetchling: At least one plant re-flowering on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' in Havant on Sep 8

Lucerne: Still flowering on the Saltmarsh Lane sea wall on Hayling on Sep 10

Strawberry Tree: The first flowers for this autumn were out on the tree at Northney Church (Hayling) on Sep 10

Butcher's Broom: First flowers since July seen in Langstone on Sep 2

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: Some seven unspecified Dolphins went past Durlston on Sep 6 and 10 Bottle-nosed were seen from Portland on Sep 9 - the same 10 (including one calf) were seen close in off Christchurch Harbour on Sep 10

Hedgehog: After last week's report of a road casualty in Havant Tony Tupper tells me that at least one youngster is regularly coming to his garden near the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park and taking cat food from a bowl he leaves out for it - it was still visiting up to Sep 12

Grey Mullet: Brian Fellows saw several large specimens in the water of Peter Pond at Emsworth on Sep 9

Sun Fish: One seen off Portland on Sep 11 - this is the first report from Dorset this year though there have been several sightings off The Scillies and Cornwall since at least June 22


Summary for Aug 31 - Sep 6 (Week 35 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

Bird news features many seabirds, including more than 400 Sooty Shearwaters and a Little Shearwater from the southern oceans, blown onto the north Cornish coast on Aug 28. Also probably blown across the Atlantic by the tail end of the recent hurricane was the first American Black Tern to reach Britain and the wind also probably brought a Blue-winged Teal that was briefly at the Portsmouth IBM Lake (after calling in at Titchfield Haven). More local news is of an injured Grey Phalarope at the Farlington Marshes and an Osprey arriving in Langstone Harbour over the South Moors. On Hayling both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers have been seen at Northney. At Portland the first Short-eared Owl has arrived for the winter (and over on the continent the first Fieldfare and Rough-legged Buzzard have been seen). Among our departing summer birds there has been a surge in Blackcaps leaving us. News from north Hampshire is of a flock of Egyptian Geese which numbers at least 99 birds. Looking at a report from a French site I was puzzled as to what they meant by a Puffin des Anglais and for amusment I have reported 18 Ring-necked Parakeets in Kent mercilessly harrying a Marsh Harrier

A colourful and uncommon Dark Crimson Underwing moth was found in a Southsea trap and the current news includes a couple of Large White caterpillars seen munching a newly pupated Small White. Other Insects has a focus on Ladybirds and news of the arrival of huge Western Conifer Seed Bugs plus a local find of Bridge Spiders (so called because they like to live under bridges). Butterfly news has a link to a forthcoming talk in the Havant Literary Festival on the subject of bird migration - the link is through Mike McCarthy, the Environment Editor of The Independent, who this week completed a 'Great Butterfly Hunt' in which he personally saw all 58 species of British Butterfly before coming to Havant to talk about the subject of a book he has written under the title "Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo".

Gorse, Ivy and Butcher's Broom have just started to flower and among the many plants having a second attempt at flowering is the Hairy Bittercress that has not been seen since the spring. A couple of grasses get a mention - one of them being the distinctive Fern Grass which I have not come across for several years

You many learn something new, as I have done, from the information I have picked up about Trigger Fish and Compass Jellyfish, and join me in regretting the road death of yet another local Hedgehog

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: One was off the French coast near Cap Gris-nez on both Sep 4 and 5 - also on Sep 5 a count of 10 (plus 1 Great Northern) came from the outer Hebrides.

Red-necked Grebe: At least two, maybe three, were off Cap Gris-nez on Sep 5

Black-necked Grebe: The juvenile which appeared on the Drayton pit lake east of Chichester on Aug 28 was still there on Aug 30

Cornish Seawatch on Aug 28: Strong westerly winds brought large numbers of many species of seabird to the north coast of Cornwall on the morning of Friday Aug 28 and the best place to see them seems to have been Pendeen on the north side of the 'toe' of Cornwall not far from Lands End. The aftermath of this event continued to give good sightings until the Bank Holiday. One of the birders at Pendeen on Aug 28 was Lee Evans who had been visiting Worcestershire and Gloucestershire on the previous day, ticking off Sabine's Gull and Wryneck, and who decided to drive on to Cornwall that night, reaching Pendeen around 2am and grabbing a couple of hours sleep before getting out to the watchpoint for a 6:15 am start.

Fea's Petrel: See my Weekly Summary for Week 34 for more about this species. Three reports from Cornwall on Aug 30 and 31, none of them fully certain with a more definite sighting in the Lands End area on Sep 2. Back at Pendeen on Sep 3 a possible Madeiran Petrel was reported

Cory's Shearwater: Two claimed at Pendeen on Aug 28 and a further probable on Aug 31. A further four were seen at Pendeen on Sep 3 and 95 were reported off Cabo Ajo (north coast of Spain near Santander) on Sep 5 (there had been 175 there on Aug 29)

Great Shearwater: Five claimed at Pendeen on Aug 28 and one more on Sep 3

Sooty Shearwater: The watchers at Pendeen on Aug 28 reported more than 400. On Aug 29 Cabo Ajo on the north coast of Spain reported 258 of them and on Aug 31 there were still 54 off Gwennap near Lands End. A further surge in sightings brought five reports on Sep 2 (including one seen from Sandy Point on Hayling) when 13 were off Dungeness, 177 off Portland, 109 off Lands End and 582 off Berry Head near Torbay in South Devon. On Sep 3 two were seen passing Worthing and there was another flurry of sightings across the Channel on Sep 5 with 42 off Cap Gris-nez, 106 further west off Normandy and 143 off the north coast of Spain

Manx Shearwater: These are always around but counts of 228 off Porthgwarra near Lands End on Sep 2 and 436 off Normandy on Sep 4 were unusual

Mediterranean Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan): Just one claimed as a possible at Pendeen on Aug 28 and two possibles off South Devon (Berry Head near Torbay) on Sep 2

Balearic Shearwater: More than 50 seen from Pendeen on Aug 28 (but I see that there was a count of 58 at Gwennap near Land's End on July 25). On Sep 2 there were 145 off Berry Head in south Devon (and one seen from Milford west of Lymington).

Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis): This was a new species for me when I found one reported at Pendeen on Aug 28. I gather the species is very numerous in the southern oceans but a rarity in British waters with some 25 records past records and another three definite sightings this year (off the Irish coast on Aug 20, at Pendeen on Aug 28 and at Hurlstone Point in Somerset on Aug 29). It does breed as far north as the Azores and Canaries. Wikipaedia tells us .. "At 25-30 cm in length with a 58-67 cm wingspan, it is like a small Manx Shearwater but has proportionally shorter and broader wings, with a pale area on the inner flight feathers"

Wilson's Storm Petrel: 2 off Pendeen on Aug 28 and another one there on Sep 3

European Storm Petrel: Porthgwarra near Lands End reported 30 on Aug 30 and 40 on Sep 3

Leach's Petrel: First report which I have seen this year was of one near Newquay in Cornwall on Sep 3, followed by singles on the Dutch and French coasts on Sep 5

Cattle Egret: The bird which arrived in the Lymington/Keyhaven area on Aug 19 was still there on Sep 5 and another bird was seen briefly by the River Test immediately north of the M27 in the Lee area on Aug 30

Little Egret: These are not often seen crossing the Channel but on Aug 30 two were seen flying in from the south at Portland. On Sep 4 a group of 18 were keeping out of the wind in the Wade Court pony field north of Langstone Pond and on Sep 5 the high tide roost at Gutner Point (east coast of Hayling) had 58 birds

Great White Egret: The rather elusive bird at the Ringwood Blashford lakes which had been seen on Aug 24 was flushed again on Aug 29. The much more reliable bird at the Dungeness RSPB reserve was still there on Sep 1. Sandwich Bay had a brief sighting of one on Aug 30.

Pale Bellied Brent: I have already reported the arrival of 41 in the Hebrides on Aug 29 but a subsequent look at news from the Scillies shows that one was on Tresco on Aug 28 and still there on Aug 29

Egyptian Goose: On Aug 31 John Clark found 51 of these at the Eversley gravel pits (just in Hampshire on the Berkshire border) and went on to find 'a further 48' just over the border at Moor Green.

Wigeon: 10 seen in Pagham Harbour on Aug 30 - the first double figure count since April - increasing to 13 on Sep 3

Pintail: 25 reported at Pagham Harbour, also on Aug 30

Blue-winged Teal: It would seem that the bird which made a brief stop at Titchfield Haven on Aug 28 moved to the IBM Lake at Portsmouth where many birders saw it on Aug 31. Steve Copsey was among the many birders to see it there and has put his photos on the Three Amigos website - well worth a look at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/11954/Blue+Winged+Teal+at+IBM.html to see the size of the bird in comparison to Mallard and for a glimpse of the 'blue wing' (and also to see the effect of Canada Geese tearing up manicured grass by the roots, then shitting on the bare ground to encourage 'weed' growth). Steve's entry also has photos of the Grey Phalarope at the Farlington Deeps that day. The best picture (of the bird in flight, showing the full speculum) is now picture of the month on the HOS website - see http://www.hos.org.uk/home_page_pom.jpg

Pochard: With the extraordinary exception of the flock of 1187 Pochard which dropped in on the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Aug 7 my last 'spring' record of Pochard was of 3 at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on June 25 (though I am sure there have been small numbers of breeding birds and their young at various south coast sites during the summer). A new report of 10 at the Blashford Lakes on Sep 4 probably indicates the start of birds returning to spend the winter with us.

Honey Buzzard: One seen over Folkestone on Aug 28 is paltry in comparison to the 1322 recorded passing through the southern Pyrenees on Aug 30. By Sep 3 it seems that the main passage was nearing the crossing point at Gibralter, indicated by a count of 522 over Mirador de las Aquilas (southern coast of Spain east of Gibralter). Just one passed over Dungeness on Sep 4 and there were probably 5 over the Low Countries on Sep 5

Marsh Harrier: More of these are now on the move with reports of 10 over Dungeness on Sep 4 and another 11 over there on Sep 5

Sparrowhawk: 11 of these over Dungeness on Sep 5

Rough-legged Buzzard: One passing over the town of Lingen in Germany (near the Dutch border between Amserdam and Hanover) is the first I have heard of this autumn

Osprey: On Aug 31 one of the many now heading south flew over the Langstone South Moors and on down Langstone Harbour where it was probably the bird seen by watchers of the Grey Phalarope at the Farlington Marshes Deeps that day. On Sep 5 two were over the Thornham Marshes area of Thorney Island, and singles were reported at Titchfield Haven, Keyhaven (Lymington) and Christchurch Harbour

Merlin: More of these are probably coming south following the migrating Meadow Pipits. One was at Portland on Sep 1, another at Durlston on Sep 4, and on Sep 5 there was one at Durlston and another at Christchurch Harbour

Spotted Crake: The only reports in the current news are of one in Devon on Aug 30 and another in Cornwall on Aug 31 (this bird may have stayed at Marazion until Sep 4 at least.

Little Crake: First report for the year is of one at Radipole (Weymouth ) on Sep 5

Corncrake: Another first report for the year with one on St Mary's in the Scillies on Sep 3

Ringed Plover: The high tide roost at Black Point on Hayling included 50 on Sep 1

Dotterel: Late news of a juvenile in Cornwall on Aug 23. More recently there were three reports on Aug 29 (Devon. Scillies and Belgium) and one on Aug 30 at Sandwich Bay, still there on the beach after arriving on Aug 28 and not in the least worried by many close photographers. On Sep 1 there were three at one Dutch site and on Sep 4 one was reported in Normandy

Golden Plover: A flock of 70 flew over the Newhaven Tide Mills on Sep 1 and two flew east at Brownwich (west of Titchfield Haven) on Sep 5

Knot: Now becoming fairly common with a count of 30 in Pagham Harbour on Aug 30 (by Sep 5 there were 122 on the French coast near Cap Gri-nez)

Baird's Sandpiper: First report for the year come from Cornwall where there were two separate birds on Sep 3 with one seen again on Sep 4

Curlew Sandpiper: Latest reports include 6 at Sandwich Bay on Aug 30 with 2 in Pagham Harbour that day, the long staying bird at Lymington/Keyhaven still there on Sep 2 and one at Black Point (Hayling) on Sep 1

Purple Sandpiper: We have already reported the first of the autumn at Portland on Aug 25 but the only reports since then have come from across the Channel with one at Cap Gris-nez on Sep 4 and probably the same bird at nearby Le Clipon on Sep 5

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: What may be the same bird that was seen on the Scillies on Aug 16 and 17 has been reported there again on Aug 28 and 29

Black-tailed Godwit: An estimated 150 birds were in the Hook/Warsash area on Sep 2 when up to 30 had been recently seen at Pulborough Brooks. Latest news of numbers building up in Chichester Harbour come from the western stretch from Chichester Marina up the Fishbourne Channel with with at least 135 there on Sep 5

Bar-tailed Godwit: No big flocks of these along the central south coast so far this autumn so a probable single seen at the water's edge between Warblington and Northney (Hayling) on Sep 4 may be the first back in that part of Chichester Harbour

Lesser Yellowlegs: One still on the Scillies on Aug 28 (first reported on Aug 12)

Wilson's Phalarope: The first to be reported this year was on the Exminster Marshes south of Exeter in Devon from Sep 2 to 5 at least

Red-necked Phalarope: No further reports of the Lymington bird since Aug 27 but one was seen in Cornwall on Aug 28 and another (juvenile) at Folkestone on Aug 29. Most recently there has been a report of one on Alresford Pond (north east of Winchester) on Sep 3

Grey Phalarope: Seawatchers at Pendeen in Cornwall on Aug 28 recorded 8 of these (and a Red-necked bird) and a single bird was near Bere Regis in Dorset that day. Another two were at Gwennap Head (Lands End) in Cornwall on Aug 31 when one turned up at the Farlington Marshes Deeps - this latter bird was still there on Sep 1 but looking both oiled and injured on its left side. That one has disappeared but Pendeen has had another count of 23 on Sep 3 when one appeared on the Longham Lakes (immediately north of Poole in Dorset), staying to Sep 4. On Sep 5 one arrived on the sea in the Wembury Bay area of Devon near Plymouth

Pomarine Skua: Two were seen near Land's End on Sep 2 but there have been up to 7 in the Channel near Cap Gris-nez this week

Arctic Skua: Plenty of recent sightings including one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Aug 30 with five off Portland on Sep 1 and a count of 75 at Gatteville on the Normandy coast on Aug 30. More recently there have been 8 off Dungeness on Sep 4 with at least 285 across the Channel near Cap Gris-nez on Sep 5

Long-tailed Skua: One off Morte Point in north Devon on Aug 28 and another of Cap Gris-nez on Aug 30. On Sep 5 there were at least 2 on the French coast at Cap Gris-nez.

Great Skua: On Sep 5 Cap Gris-Nez reported 105 and Gatteville in Normandy had 109 but the best we could do was 6 at Portland on Sep 3

Med Gull: Around 150 were feeding in Maize stubble at Brownwich (west of Titchfield Haven) on Sep 5

Sabine's Gull: Eight reports this week with six off Pendeen in north Cornwall on Aug 28 and other reports from the French coast and the Outer Hebrides. On Sep 4 a juvenile was off Hartland Point in north Devon.

Ring-billed Gull: First report since last March comes from Padstow in Cornwall on Aug 29

Lesser Blackback Gull: On Sep 5 a total of 2267 flew south along the Dutch coast

Glaucous Gull: One at Davidstow in Cornwall on Aug 28

Kittiwake: Counts of 384 off south Devon on Sep 2 and 460 near Cap Gris-nez on Sep 5 seem to indicate a southward movement of these gulls

Sandwich Tern: 2093 moving past Cap Gris-nez on Sep 5 with 7500 Common Terns

Common Tern: 1025 counted coming to roost in Langstone Harbour on the evening of Aug 31 (maybe including some of the 40,990 reported at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Aug 28). The Langstone Harbour roost count increased to 1450 on Sep 3 with 1100 there on Sep 4

Black Tern: Latest sightings include 2 over Ivy Lake at Chichester on Aug 30 and one coming to roost in Langstone Harbour on Aug 31 with 3 at Dungeness on Sep 1. Across the Channel the Cap Gris-nez area had 23 on Sep 4 and 24 on Sep 5.

American Black Tern (Chlidonias niger surinamensis): One seems to have been blown across the Atlantic with the hurricane which has also brought the great mass of seabirds (and probably the Blue-winged Teal) and has been at Farmoor Reservoir (just off the A34 north west of Oxford) from Sep 1 to 3 but not thereafter. This seems to be a first for mainland Britain though there were singles in Ireland in July 2006 and Sep 2007. Also seen at Farmoor on Sep 3 was a White-winged Black Tern

Puffin des Anglais: It seems that French speakers use this name for the Manx Shearwater (which has the scientifc name of Puffinus puffinus). I had not come across this quirk of taxonomy until this week.

Ring-necked Parakeet: Last week I reported a flock of 84 of these Parakeets flying south over the Thanet area of Kent and this week there is a report of 18 of them 'mercilessly harrying a Marsh Harrier' over Sandwich Bay on Sep 4

Short-eared Owl: The first report since May is of one at Portland on Aug 31

Nightjar: One was seen at Dungeness on Sep 5

Swift: On Sep 1 two were over the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough and another two over the Ordnance Survey offices in Southampton. Two more went over Durlston on Sep 2, one was at Titchfield Haven on Sep 3 and one over Andover on Sep 4

Kingfisher: More are now being seen at coastal sites - one flew up the River Ems at Emsworth on Sep 4 and on Sep 5 one was seen at Farlington Marshes and two in the Lower Test area near Southampton

Wryneck: One at Beer in Devon on Aug 30 and 31 with another at Durlston on Aug 31 and one in a Sussex garden on Sep 1 - altogether 11 sightings between Aug 29 and Sep 5

Shorelark: The bird which was first seen on the Isle of Wight (West High Down) on Aug 29 was still there on Sep 5

Hirundines: Sep 3 brought the start of a mass exodus of these with counts of around 1000 Sand Martins in Oxfordshire on Sep 3 and up to 1500 Sand Martins over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on Sep 3 and 4. Fewer Swallows were moving but Christchurch Harbour noted 450 on Sep 5. More than 1000 House Martins were over the Blashford Lakes on Sep 3 and by Sep 5 two birds which had stayed behind in the Leigh Park area of Havant, using an artificial next box as a night roost only, had left. On Sep 5 a mixed flock of around 1000 hirundines were present over the Blashford Lakes

Departing/relocating summer birds: Peak counts from the latest news are Tree Pipit (21), Meadow Pipit (370), Yellow Wagtail (40), Grey Wagtail (9), Pied Wagtail (25), White Wagtail (1), Black Redstart (1), Common Redstart (7), Whinchat (7), Wheatear (50), Grasshopper Warbler (1), Sedge Warbler (3), Reed Warbler (20), Lesser Whitethroat (10), Common Whitethroat (50), Garden Warbler (5), Blackcap (500), Wood Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (76), Willow Warbler (60), Spotted Flycatcher (5), Pied Flycatcher (3), Tree Sparrow (7), Reed Bunting (1)

Citrine Wagtail: A juvenile was at Marazion in Cornwall from Aug 29 to Sep 2 at least

White Wagtail: Portland had its first for the autumn on Sep 4 and the Blashford Lakes had one on Sep 5

Black Redstart: The first autumn movment brought one to the Wyke Regis area of Weymouth on Sep 5

Wheatear: More than 30 were along the south Hayling shore on Aug 29. Other counts that day were of 12 at Lymington, 12 at Farlington Marshes, and 21 at Hope Gap near Beachy Head. 50 were at Portland on Sep 5

Fieldfare: One at a Dutch site on Sep 1 was the first to get a mention since April

Icterine Warbler: One in Devon on Aug 31

Melodious Warbler: One at Portland on Aug 31 and a probable at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 4

Blackcap: 500 recorded at the Whitbread Hollow ringing station on Beachy Head on Aug 30 (when one at Portland was the first seen there this autumn) indicates an early mass exodus of these birds. (Last year the peak count of 300 at Beachy Head came on Sep 12)

Chiffchaff: These are at last seriously on the move with five sites reporting a significant increase in numbers on Sep 5

Firecrest: Steve Keen heard one singing in the grounds of Osborne House (IoW) during a family day out on Aug 31

Pied Flycatcher: Up to three have been in trees east of the Texaco garage which you pass on your left as soon as you drive onto Hayling heading south from Aug 24 to Sep 5 among tits and a variety of other migrants that have included up to 3 Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, a Redstart, a Wheatear and both Yellow and Pied Wagtails in nearby fields

Treecreeper: One caught in ringers nets at Sandwich Bay on Aug 30 was unexpected there

Red-backed Shrike: Juvenile still at the Dungeness RSPB site on Sep 1

Raven: One was seen over Hayling Island on both Sep 4 (at Sandy Point) and Sep 5 (at Northney)

Rose-coloured Starling: One in Cornwall on Aug 31 and one at Portland from Sep 1 to 5 at least

Tree Sparrow: 7 at Dungeness on Sep 4 seem to have been the first on the move this autumn

Common Rosefinch: One reported at Durlston on Sep 5

Reed Bunting: One at Portland on Sep 1 is the first indication of their autumn movement. 7 seen in the Brownwich area near Titchfield Haven on Sep 5 may have been resident there but were presumably gathering into a mobile flock

Corn Bunting: A flock of 17 on the Downs above Brighton on Aug 31 probably indicates that they are now on the move

Escapes: A noisy Blue and Yellow Macaw seen on Aug 31 somewhere in Sussex and on Sep 5 both the Cape Barren Goose and a Zebra Finch were seen at Titchfield Haven

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

One Common Darter in the Portland moth trap on Aug 31 was the only news for the week until I saw a Common Darter in my Havant garden on Sep 6 (the first I have seen this year - in previous years I have normally seen them from the end of June onwards)

Butterflies

28 species reported this week

Swallowtail: One had been reported on Aug 22 in the Robertsbridge area near Hastings and was assumed to be a migrant from the continent but another sighting of one in the same place on Aug 27 might suggest a local breeder?

Clouded Yellow: Six recent sightings on the south coast at Steyning near Worthing, Brading (IoW), Mount Caburn near Lewes (5 seen there) and Friston near Eastbourne (3) may suggest the arrival of new immigrants.

Clouded Yellow is also in the news as the last of all 58 British species to be tracked down by a journalist from The Independent in the 'Great British Butterfly Hunt' during the summer - that find was made at the Steyning site. For a full account of the hunt and its climax see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/uk-butterflies/victory-declared-in-great-butterfly-hunt-1782105.html The journalist behind this Butterfly Hunt is Mike McCarthy who will be giving a talk in Havant on Oct 2 as a highlight of the annual Havant Literary Festival - and it so happens that I recently had the following request from Brian Clarke to advertise Mike's talk.

Brian said .. "I have persuaded Mike McCarthy, author of the hugely-praised "Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo", Environment Editor of The Independent and one of my closest friends, to come and talk at this year's Havant Literary Festival - see the Oct 2 programme listed at http://www.havantlitfest.org.uk. Mike's book is a lyrical lament for the decline of migratory birds - a decline, he says, that is just one more sign that planet earth isn't working properly any more. He takes a range of iconic species and discusses their place in nature, history and our culture - and the pressures on them and the possible reasons for their falling numbers". (If you want a copy of Mike's book it is now on sale in the Nineveh bookshop in The Pallant, backing onto the Waitrose store in Havant)

Marbled White: Still being reported at Durlston on Aug 30

Moths

September Thorn (1915 Ennomos erosaria): First report from Pulborough Brooks on Aug 28

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): Two seen in Sussex on Aug 26 were the sixth and seventh for the year but the first in Sussex. Another two were seen on Sep 4 and 5, one at Plumpton near Lewes and the other at Westfield near Hastings - both these were feeding on Tobacco plants

Striped Hawkmoth (1990 Hyles lineata): One at Portland on Aug 29 was the second there this year (after one on June 1) and the seventh for the south coast this year

Square-spot Rustic (2134 Xestia xanthographa): First for the year in the Henfield area on Aug 31

Dark Crimson Underwing (2455 Catocala sponsa): A great first for the year in Jeff Goodridge's Southsea trap on Aug 29

Caterpillars: On Aug 26 two Large White butterfly caterpillars were seen munching up the fresh pupa of a Small White (perhaps it still smelt/tasted of the food that the unfortunate Small White had been eating?). On Aug 30 Michael Prior found an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar on the floor of the conservatory at his Rowlands Castle house and John Goodspeed has heard of others seen recently in Emsworth as the move from the food plants on which they are well concealed to find somewhere to pupate in the ground. On Sep 1 Rye Harbour reported the first webs of this year's tiny Brown-tail moth caterpillars

Other Insects

Robber Fly: On on the Sussex Downs above the Cuckmere valley (photgraphed with what looks like a large Flesh Fly in its mouth) on Aug 21 was at least the sixth to be reported this year after years of no news

Ladybirds: On Aug 31 someone called Nick Hando returned to Thanet in Kent for a family visit and while there took a stroll along the seawall at Minnis Bay (at the west end of the Margate built up area) and then wrote .. "all the following were on the small length (c.100m long) of taller wall topped by black railings which stretches from the Roman perimeter wall to the sluice on the west side of the Oyster Farm:

7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata 100+

10-spot Ladybird Adalia 10-punctata 3

14-spot Ladybird Propylea 14-punctata 2

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis 2

Pine Ladybird Exochomus 4-pustulatus 1

Cream-spot Ladybird Calvia 14-guttata 1

Larch Ladybird Aphidecta obliterata 1

Small Brown Ladybird Rhyzobius litura 1

Looking through this list I was made aware not only of the large number of Ladybirds that exist in Britain but also to the fact that many of them are able to fly across the Channel. One thing standing out in this list is that there are two different species of 14-spot Ladybirds and that the group of Ladybirds has several Genera (at least 14 families in the small group of species that I am aware of). One particular thing that emerged from a discussion of the identity of the Larch Ladybird (Aphidecta obliterata) which is tiny, a dull brown colour with any black markings on it pale and indistinct, is that, while few are ever noticed or reported, it may well be the commonest species in Britain.

Stripe-winged Grasshopper (Stenobothrus lineatus): This gets its first mention for the year at Durlston on Aug 30

Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis): This large American species, which arrived in Europe only a few years ago in a shipment of timber to Italy and has since spread across the continent, made its annual appearance in Britain on Aug 24 when one was found at Hastings. On Aug 31 three more turned up at Hastings with one at Portland and on Sep 1 one was seen at Dungeness. For a good picture showing the size of the insect on a man's thumb see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/wp_western_conifer_seed_bug_2_010909_500.jpg

Bridge Spider (Larinioides sclopetarius): I commented on this species in my last weekly summary (Week 34) and on Sep 2 I confirmed to my own satisfaction that the many spider webs to be found there - along the line of lights illuminating the underpass under the A27 which carries the Langbrook Stream (as well as the footpath) under the road - are of this species.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Little to report so far this week except that autumn is now bringing second flowerings of many species. One newcomer which I have not seen since the spring is Hairy Bittercress. Also becoming commonplace again after being a rarity during the summer months is Red Deadnettle.

Tree Mallow: This was re-flowering alongside Slipper Road at Emsworth on Sep 4

Common Gorse: Also re-flowering (first for this autumn) by the Slipper Road in Emsworth on Sep 4

Ivy: This is one of just two first flowerings of the year - I see that it was flowering in Wiltshire on Sep 1 and I found it in Havant on Sep 2. On Sep 5 it was flowering in Brian Fellows' Emsworth garden and in The Pallant in Havant

Tamarisk: Lots of fresh flowers along the Warblington seawall on Sep 4

Argentinian Vervain (Verbena bonariensis): This prominent garden flower had self sown plants in the pavement edge of my road in Havant on Sep 3

Autumn Oxeye: Plants of this autumn flowering Ox-eye Daisy look-alike could be seen in St Faith's church yard in Havant pm Sep 1

Butcher's Broom: First flowers found in Mill Lane at Langstone on Sep 2

Grasses: I do not normally mention grasses among the flowering plants but two species caught my attention this week - one was the first Cockspur Grass I have seen this year (growing below the west wall of St Faith's churchyard, opposite the Robin Hood pub, where bird seed has fallen to the ground) - the other was the small, rigid, curved Fern Grass which I came across in the twitchel leading from Grove Road to Wade Court Road in Havant

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A pod of 30 seen off the Channel Isles on Aug 30

Hedgehog: A road casualty corpse on the road outside Fairfield School in Havant on Sep 3

Water Vole: Two seen in Brook Meadow streams at Emsworth on Sep 3 brought the total of reported sightings there to 121 for the year so far. Water Voles were also in the news this week in connection with work to restore the Chichester Canal - in places this involved fixing boards against the banks to hold them up but conservationists object as this prevents the Voles from creating burrows in the banks.

Large Black Slug (Arion ater): No doubt there are plenty of these out at night but heavy rain this week brought them out by day - on Aug 31 four pairs were seen mating in full view on pathways and I saw three singles as I walked round the Langstone are in rain on Sep 2

Trigger Fish (Balistes carolinensis): This species was new to me when I saw it reported on the Durlston website on Sep 1 but the European Sea Anglers website indicates that they are quite common in coastal waters to a depth of 180 metres, though there are more of them along the east coast of North America than along the eastern Atlantic shore. The fish grow to 40cm in length and are oval in shape when seen from the side, not the normal elongated elipse shape of most fish. The Durlston entry tells us that if a predator attacks them they react by erecting a set of sharp spines pointing upwards from the centre of their 'back' and this is the origin of the Trigger name. The Sea Anglers website has a lengthier entry telling us that they feed on Shrimps, Crabs, Sea Urchins and other creatures found on the seabed including a species called Sand Dollar which I had not heard of before.

It seems that Sand Dollars are a sort of cross between a Sea Urchin and a large round shellfish, and they bury themselves under sand when not active. To eat them the Trigger Fish positions itself head down above the sand and squirts a jet of water downwards to scatter the sand and hopefully to expose a Sand Dollar, which will have its hard 'shell' upwards. The fish grabs the edge of the 'shell', lifts the Sand Dollar and then drops it, hoping the prey will land upside down, exposing its soft under belly to the teeth of the fish (it may take several attempts to achieve this!)

Compass Jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella): These were also seen at Durlston on Sep 1. They are quite large (can be 30 cm across) and get their name from the brown spots around the edge of the top side (when seen from above the brown spots around the periphery of the white disc make it look slightly like the disc of a ship's compass). ARKIVE tells us that the adult jellyfish start off as males before later becoming females - no contact is involved in their sex life which involves the males issuing sperm through their mouths (their only bodily orifice) and the females sucking it in through their mouths. In the autumn the females give birth to tiny free swimming larvae which settle on some hard surface and become static polyps through the winter. In spring they give birth (without further sex) to tiny Jellyfish which grow into the adults now bieng seen at Durlston. The sting from this species is unlikely to cause you much pain unless you are swimming and get stung on the face.

Portuguese Man-of-War: The first of these for this summer were washed up on the Chesil Bank at Weymouth on Aug 5 and now more have been seen at Durlston on Sep 1

Fungi: Still no autumn outburst of fungi but on Sep 2 I came on a large display of what I think had been Coprinus lagopus (a large form of the Japanese Umbrella type of toadstool). They were all 'past their best' and were growing on wood chippings beside the Hayling Billy Trail


Summary for Aug 24 - 30 (Week 34 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

Red-necked Grebe and Purple Sandpiper are two new additions to our south coast winter birds this week, as is the first Bittern to be seen at Titchfield Haven this autumn. Dorset also has a report this week of a Petrel species (Fea's Petrel) that I was not previously aware of, seen from a boat in Lyme Bay. Other good birds are a Red-necked Phalarope in the Lymington area, a Grey Phalarope in Dorset, a Blue-winged Teal at Titchfield Haven, a Shorelark on the Isle of Wight, and a Red-backed Shrike at Dungeness plus a Red-footed Falcon in east Kent. Both Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, plus Goosanders and Pale Bellied Brent are now moving south through northern parts of the British Isles to winter with us. Many other birds are moving on the continent and I have a report of 412 Honey Buzzards moving through the Pyrenees (see under White Stork). More prosaic news concerns Pheasant chicks which can fly when only 12 days old when they look more like Quail than Pheasants and finally Titchfield Haven has a 'Pantomime Dame' in the shape of a Cape Barren Goose

Butterfly and Moth numbers are starting to diminish but the week brought the first migrant Swallowtail butterfly from the continent and Pagham Harbour had a colourful new species for that site (Jersey Tiger moth) which happened to be the 400th species seen there this year. Among other insects we have a link to an unusual photo of an unusual spider (which likes to live under manmade bridges over water) in the delicate process of extricating its long legs from an old 'skin' in order to grow a new and larger one. There is also news of Groundhoppers (a form of mini Grasshoppers without the grass and with no song)

Newly flowering plants are becoming fewer each week but we still have a few including the colourful Marsh Mallow which chooses to live in the tideline of Chichester Harbour. JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame gets a mention for all the wrong reasons in connection with the Thorn Apple plant of which a fine specimen in an Emsworth garden got mentioned in the local press. Another 'undesireable alien' now flowering is Japanese Knotweed.

The first Parasol Mushroom has come up and five Seals were seen together in Langstone Harbour while Stoats and Weasels were both reported at Durlston

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: First mention of approaching winter birds comes in two reports of this species heading south. On Aug 28 one flew south past the river Tyne on the east coast and on Aug 29 one was seen leaving the Outer Hebrides

Great Northern Diver: One of these also flew south from the Hebrides on Aug 29

Red-necked Grebe: First autumn report is a second-hand one of a bird seen in Langstone Harbour on Aug 24. Some years ago one appeared at this time of year on the IBM Lake at Portsmouth and I assumed (from its handsome plumage with a 'red neck') that it must be an adult but then learnt that autumn adults are in drab moult plumage while juveniles will already have acquired smart first winter plumage.

Black-necked Grebe: A young bird was on the Drayton Gravel pit on Aug 28 - not the first of the autumn as one in adult plumage had been seen in the Bracklesham area west of Selsey on Aug 9

Fea's Petrel (Pterodroma feae): A sighting of this species was claimed on Aug 23 by Dorset birders on a boat in Lyme Bay. I had not previously heard of the species but a little research revealed that this species is also called the Cape Verde Petrel as its only breeding colony is on the Cape Verde islands. The species is very closely related to Madeira Petrel and seems to share the same Euring number (26) though it is separable from it in the hand by having a narrower, shorter bill and shorter wings. To add to the confusion I find that the Maderia Petrel (Petrodroma madeira) is also called Zino's Petrel by some!

Sooty Shearwater: 19 were off the Devon coast on Aug 26 when 3 were seen from Portland. On Aug 29 just one was off Portland but across the Channel Cap Gris-nez reported 42 (and 258 went past a site in southern Spain along with 175 Cory's)

Balearic Shearwater: Numbers of these are also up with 35 off south Devon on Aug 26 when 11 were seen from Portland. On Aug 27 a site in Normandy reported 23 and on Aug 29 Cap Gris-nez had 25. For those interested in seabirds Russell Wynn posted the following on Hoslist on Aug 28 .. "The SeaWatch SW website has recently been updated as we reach the halfway point of the 2009 field season. To view this month's bumper news edition see: http://www.seawatch-sw.org "

Bittern: First to return to a Hampshire site this autumn was one at Titchfield Haven on Aug 25

Cattle Egret: The bird which arrived at Iley Lake on the Lymington Marshes on Aug 19 was still being seen there on Aug 29

Great White Egret: The bird which turned up at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Aug 15 was still there on Aug 28 but more exciting for Hampshire birders is a sighting of one back on the ground at the Balshford Lakes on Aug 24 (one flew over there on July 21 but did not land). Across the Channel one Dutch site had 21 on Aug 27 and on Aug 28 one was seen as far north as Spurn Point south of Yorkshire

White Stork: An indication of movement now taking place on the continent comes on Aug 27 from a pass through the southern end of the Pyrenees which reported the following during an all day count .. Black Stork 1, Sparrowhawk 22, White Stork 71, Osprey 2, Honey Buzzard 412, European Bee-eater 92, Black Kite 6, Tawny Pipit 1, Short-toed Eagle 2, Tree Pipit 8, Marsh Harrier 10, Montagu's Harrier 2

Spoonbill: On Aug 27 one flew over Christchurch Harbou and may have ended up in Poole Harbour where 5 were present on Aug 29 but more may be on their way as a Belgian site reported 61 on Aug 29

Greylag Goose: A sighting on Aug 24 at Christchurch Harbour of 16 of these geese flying in from the east but turning north to go up the Avon Valley presumably marks the start of an autumn build up of geese in that valley

Brent Geese: The first returning migrants can be expected in mid-September and the few which remained here through the summer will now be through their moult and feeling the urge to migrate which in their case only causes them to come out of hiding and show themselves. On Aug 23 one summer bird was seen at Lymington and on Aug 25 I saw 8 which have been in Chichester Harbour (they were forced by the spring tide out of hiding in the gullies and saltings the lower Thorney Channel onto Stakes Island)

Pale Bellied Brent: First news of migrants came with a report of 41 reaching the Hebrides on Aug 29

Gadwall: One on the sea off Worthing on Aug 23 was one of many now on passage back to our south coast and a count of more than 30 on the Drayton lake east of Chichester on Aug 25 was a more impressive indication of this. Also there were 20 Shoveler.

Teal: 90 were seen on the Sidlesham Ferry Pool at Pagham Harbour on Aug 23

Pintail: 12 seen in Pagham Harbour off Church Norton on Aug 25 was the largest count I know of anywhere since April. A more surprising (to me) report was of 20 on the southern coast of Spain on Aug 29

Blue-winged Teal: An immature male seems to have been reliably reported from Titchfield Haven on Aug 28 and was last seen flying north but I doubt it reached Manby in Lincolnshire within three hours to be the one reported there the same day. I see that the species is not really related to Teal and might be better classed with Shovelers. The Titchfield bird seems to have been the sixth to be reported in the British Isles this year and will either have come across the Atlantic or be an escapee from a collection

Goldeneye: Ten reported on Aug 24 from a site on the German Baltic coast seem to be the first breeding birds heading back towards us this autumn.

Red-breasted Merganser: One was reported to be in Langstone Harbour on Aug 24 - one was also reported there on Aug 5 and could be the female of the pair that were in Southampton Water in June

Goosander: A flock of 27 flying south over Yorkshire on Aug 29 are some of the first northern birds on their way to us

Honey Buzzard: One over Pulborough Brooks on Aug 23 and singles over Portland and the North Foreland in Kent on Aug 27 do not reflect the mass movement now occurring in Europe where I have selected 19 of the reports for this week including counts of 76 over the Baltic shore of Germany on Aug 24 and (all on Aug 27) 11 over a Dutch site, 31 over a Belgian site, 42 back in Holland, and the massive count of 412 passing through the southen Pyrenees. On Aug 29 two went over Jersey (Channel Islands) and 22 over southern Spain

Montagu's Harrier: A ringtail flew over the Sidlesham Ferry Pool on Aug 27

Osprey: A total of 18 reports this week includes sightings of birds over Pagham Harbour and over the Lower Test on Aug 23, on Aug 24 one was in the west of Langstone Harbour, and on Aug 25 one was eating a fish on mud off Langstone village in the morning and fishing off the Kench in the south of Langstone Harbour in the evening - another flew over Pulborough Brooks that day. Further reports from Langstone Harbour came on Aug 27 and 29

Red-footed Falcon: One was seen sitting on the mud of Sandwich Bay for 3 minutes on Aug 26

Hobby: Of local interest one was seen to catch a dragonfly in the Wallington River valley north of Portsdown on Aug 27

Quail: Genuine Quail were singing in a Flax field at East Lavant (north of Chichester) as late as Aug 23 but tiny Quail-like birds seen in long grass on the Langstone South Moors (6 or 8 on Aug 22 and at least three still there on Aug 24) are now thought more likely to be very young Pheasants just fledged from a late second brood. I have learnt that young Pheasants can make the short and flutttery flights which I saw when they are only 12 days old and so still very small and 'tail-less'. The number of birds seen and the 'baby bird' calls they made both back up the proposal that they were Pheasants as does the fact that Pheasants are known to occur at this site while Quail would be very unexpected anywhere on the south coast in August.

Spotted Crake: On Aug 24 one was seen at Abbotsbury in Dorset and another at Farlington Marshes (presumably a new arrival there and not the well watched bird there from Aug 4 to 10). There have also been reports from the Kent Stour Valley (2 birds there on Aug 22 and singles seen on Aug 24 and 27)

Ringed Plover: Counts were up to 210 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 23 and 175 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Aug 25. 44 Grey Plover were at the Lymington Marshes on Aug 25 and Christchurch Harbour had 33 Knot on Aug 23

Kentish Plover: A female/immature bird was reported at Pegwell Bay (East Kent) on Aug 27

Grey Plover: The high tide roost at Farlington Marshes on Aug 26 was estimated to have 200 birds

Little Stint: In addition to a bird at the Lymington Marshes from Aug 23 to 27 there was an unusual count of 8 at the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Aug 24

Temminck's Stint: One was at the Pett Level pools on Rye Bay on Aug 25

Purple Sandpiper: One at Portland on Aug 25 was the first I have heard of since May 20

Red-necked Phalarope: A juvenile was at the Lymington Marshes on Aug 25, staying to Aug 27 at least - the first anywhere since mid June

Grey Phalarope: One was inland near Bere Regis in Dorset on Aug 27 and 28 - this is the first I have heard of this autumn

Pomarine Skua: An adult was at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 26 and the species has been reported at three continental sites on Aug 27 and 29

Arctic Skua: Increasing numbers on the English south coast with 4 off Worthing and 7 at Dungeness on Aug 23 while Aug 25 brought 5 to Selsey Bill and 25 to the sea off Devon (with 21 Great Skuas). On Aug 29 Cap Gris-nez had 65 and another 20 were off the Dutch coast.

Long-tailed Skua: Two were off the Devon coast on Aug 26 and on Aug 29 Cap Gris-nez had one while Westkapelle in Holland had two

Little Gull: One was at Dungeness on Aug 23 (seemingly the first on our south coast since July 8) and two were there on Aug 24. By Aug 29 a surge had brought 47 to one site on the Dutch coast.

Sabine's Gull: One reported at Reculver near the North Foreland in Kent on Aug 26 (the five previous sightings this year had all been off Cornwall or the Scillies).

Lesser Blackback Gull: Portland had an estimated 90 passage birds on Aug 26 but by Aug 29 the number at a site on the Dutch coast was reported as 2980

Black Tern: These are still passing through with fifteen reports from Aug 23 to 29 including one in Langstone Harbour on Aug 24 with 2 at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) that day and two at Drayton Lake (Chichester) on Aug 25. By Aug 27 the movement was large enough to bring 220 to one Dutch site. On Aug 27 one was seen in Pagham harbour and on Aug 28 two were over Ivy Lake at Chichester

White-winged Black Tern: Two juveniles were reliably reported to be in Bembridge Harbour (IoW) on Aug 24

Ring-necked Parakeet: I was aware of a colony in north east Kent but was surprised to see that on Aug 27 as many as 84 flew south over Thanet

Nightjar: One at Durlston on Aug 24 was presumably already on passage south though one in the Forest of Dean on Aug 25 may have been still at its breeding site

Swift: Still being seen daily with a group of around 15 near Crawley on Aug 23, 8 over Horsham on Aug 24, at least one at Dungeness RSPB on Aug 25 and one over Durlston on Aug 26. On Aug 27 eight flew over Thanet and five over Folkestone and on Aug 28 five were seen at Worthing and two were still at South Shields in the far north east of England

Alpine Swift: One reported from the Seaton area of Devon on Aug 24 and 25

Hoopoe: Three recent reports - one at Netley near Southampton on Aug 14, one at Barton on Sea near Christchurch on Aug 17 and one at Folkestone on Aug 25

Wryneck: One was eating Ants in Worthing crematorium grounds on Aug 9, the next was at Sandown (Isle fof Wight) from Aug 22 to 24, and Aug 27 brought reports of singles from two Dutch sites

Shorelark: I did not mention an unconfirmed report of one at the West High Down on the Isle of Wight when it was made on Aug 11 but there has now been a sighting of one at the same site on Aug 29 by Derek Hale who got a good photo which can be seen on his website at http://iowbirds.awardspace.com/IOW.htm

Sand Martin: 280 over Dungeness on Aug 25 and 230 south over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 27 are the major counts of the week.

Swallow: 200 over Hope Gap near Beachy Head on Aug 24. On Aug 23 Christchurch Harbour reported a mixed bag of around 2000 Hirundines passing over

Tawny Pipit: No reports from England but ten from continental sites between Aug 27 and 29, with a peak count of 14 birds at a Belgian site on Aug 27, indicate passage under way.

Meadow Pipit: A count of 241 over a Yorkshire site on Aug 29 suggests we may be seeing these birds on passage soon

Wheatear: A report of 11 at a site in southern Spain on Aug 29 suggests that the wave of migrants has now reached the Mediterranean. Portland had 80 on Aug 29

Grasshopper Warbler: Mark Cutts, writing in the Three Amigos blog on Aug 24, said .. "I spent yesterday morning at Titchfield Haven again and for the second day running the previous record for Grasshopper Warbler in a single day was smashed. A total of 55 birds in just over four hours, only beaten by the 74 the previous day. Half way through the morning the record for "Most Groppers in a single year" was also beaten."

Wood Warbler: One was seen at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 24 and on Aug 29 Peter Gammage came on one in a Tit Flock along the footpath which goes round behind Bridge Farm at Northney on Hayling

Firecrest: A single juvenile was in a Tit flock passing through a Romsey garden on Aug 23

Pied Flycatcher: Tim Lawman had a local sighting of one in trees by the path running behind Bridge Farm at Northney on Hayling on Aug 24

Departing summer visitors - the highest counts for each species seen at any one coastal site so far this week have been Tree Pipit (8), Yellow Wagtail (150), Grey Wagtail (5), Nightingale (1), Common Redstart (3), Whinchat (8), Wheatear (80), Grasshopper Warbler (55), Sedge Warbler (65), Reed Warbler (10), Lesser Whitethroat (13), Common Whitethroat (115), Garden Warbler (4), Blackcap (50), Wood Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (3), Willow Warbler (40), Spotted Flycatcher (30+ at Chanctonbury Ring on the Sussex Downs), Pied Flycatcher (3)

Great Tit: Both Great and Blue Tits have been heard singing briefly in the past few days

Red-backed Shrike: A juvenile was at the Dungeness RSPB site from Aug 24 to 28 at least

Carrion Crow: The regular large gathering on the shore of Southampton Water south of Southampton reached a year peak of 350 on Aug 23 (there are usually between 100 and 200 there in each month of the year)

House Sparrow: A gathering of more than 25 in a hedge close to the shore of Nutbourne Bay on Aug 25 was my first encounter with this species on their rural summer holidays when I call them Corn Sparrows. A similar report of 9 birds in an unfamiliar rural setting came from Grove Ferry in the Kent Stour valley on the same day

Goldfinch: A report of 80+ in the Kent Stour Valley on Aug 27 was the first report of more than 50 together for this autumn

Linnet: Three flocks containing a total of around 70 birds were seen around harvested fields on the Chidham Penninsula (east of Thorney Island) on Aug 25

Corn Bunting: 'Several' were seen in the East Lavant area immediately north of Chichester on Aug 23

Escapees: A Cape Barren Goose has been at Titchfield Haven from Aug 21 to 28 at least. As I had not come across this species before I looked it up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Barren_Goose and find that it originates from south Australia. It is small and distinctly odd looking with pale grey plumage having small round black dots on it. The bare parts look more suitable to the pantomime stage than a nature reserve - the small bill looks as if the bird had flown into a brick wall with yellow green paint on it which now covers most of the 'squashed' bill leaving just the tip and lower mandible black. The feet are also black but the legs are a bright red colour.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Ruddy Darters are the only species to get a mention this week (and as they were seen in what I assume to be a dry area on the downs near Steyning I am not sure that they were not male Common Darters)

Butterflies

The number of species reported this week is down to 25 (including the Swallowtail)

Dingy Skipper: The second brood insects which have been widely seen this year since the end of July could still be seen on Aug 22 at Shipton Bellinger near Andover

Swallowtail: A lone immigrant was seen at Robertsbridge (north of Hastings) on Aug 22

Marbled White: Still on the wing at Durlston on Aug 26

Moths

To see images of moths mentioned below go to http://ukmoths.org.uk/ and enter the 'Bradley and Fletcher' number of the species (given in brackets in my notes) in the Moth Name Search box, then press Enter.

Note 1. Omit leading zeroes from my version of the numbers (for 0382 enter 382)

Note 2. The result of entering this number will normally be a list of links to different pictures. To see one of the pictures and its accompanying data click one of the links (where it says View Thumbnails click that to choose the best picture, then click the picture)

Caloptilia syringella (0293): First in Kent (Thanet) on Aug 19

Phyllonorycter geniculella (0364): First in Kent (Thanet) on Aug 19

Ypsolopha sequella (0462): First in Kent (Thanet) on Aug 26

Aproaerema anthyllidella (0843): First in Kent (Thanet) on Aug 19

Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix (0969 Pandemis corylana): First in Kent (Thanet) on Aug 23

Carnation Tortrix (0985 Cacoecimorpha pronubana): First in Kent (Thanet) on Aug 26

Codling Moth (1261 Cydia pomonella): This gets its first mention from a trap in the Sussex Adur valley on Aug 24

Vestal The (1716 Rhodometra sacraria): First at Dungeness on Aug 25

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): One seen around flowers in a hanging basket outside a house in Havant on Aug 23 (plus two other singles at Horsham and Frant near Tunbridge Wells) bings the total that I know to have been reported this year to just 41 (nothing like the numbers seen in recent years)

Striped Hawkmoth (1990 Hyles lineata): One in Thanet (Kent) on Aug 24 was the first reported since June 1

Jersey Tiger (2067 Euplagia quadripunctaria): One at Pagham Harbour on Aug 22 was a new species for that site (and the 400th species trapped there this year)

Lunar Yellow Underwing (2108 Noctua orbona): First for the year trapped in the Audr valley on Aug 24

Old Lady (2300 Mormo maura): This species does not normally come to lights so one found on Portland on Aug 24 (although only third report for the year) is worth a mention

Straw Underwing (2303 Thalpophila matura): First in Thanet on Aug 26

Other Insects

Ichneumon (Amblyteles armatorius): One photographed at the Langstone South Moors on Aug 24 gives the species a first mention for the year

Hornet: I have only seen six reports of Hornets this year, the latest being one at Steyning, north of Worthing, on Aug 23

Slender Groundhopper (Tetrix subulata): Both this and the next species get their first mention for the year through being reported as present at Rye Harbour on Aug 28. Groundhoppers are a group of insects which I have never knowingly seen but I recall Bob Chapman commenting on their presence at Farlington Marshes when he was warden there and I suspect they are not uncommon but easily escape detection due to their small size and overall brown colour which makes them difficult to see on bare ground where they are normally found.

Cepero's Groundhopper (Tetrix cepero): Groundhoppers are only half the size of Grasshoppers and are found in places where the ground is bare (and usually damp). Unlike Grasshoppers they are silent making them even more difficult to detect. As well as the two species mentioned here there is a third species found in Britain - the Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata)

Forest Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes): One of these was found at Portland on Aug 28 and said to be the first recorded there though it is common elsewhere. The Portland report mentions an alternative name of Red-legged Shieldbug

Bridge Spider (Larinioides sclopetarius): This is in the news as the result of a photo taken by Chris Bentley at Rye Harbour of something that is a regular occurrence for spiders but rarely seen by naturalists - the process of shedding one skin in order to acquire a larger 'external skeleton' as it grows. With the long legs of spiders it is a tricky business to extricate all the legs from their old skin without damaging them while they are soft. Chris's photo can be seen at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2009/08/24/rye-harbour-moths-83/#more-10921 and for more info about the Bridge Spider (and why it has this name) have a look at http://www.nicksspiders.com/nicksspiders/larinioidessclopetarius.htm - it's worth scanning down this page to see a typical habitat for this spider and the 'spider lane' marked on the ground under this particular bridge.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Bastard Cabbage: I recently put some photos of the seeds of this recent invasive alien in my Diary page after finding many plants at a Hayling site were already dead. On Aug 25 I found a couple of small plants still flowering around the edge of the arable field east of Nutbourne Bay where I first came across this species last year.

Turkish Tutsan (Hypericum xylosteifolium): This gets a mention (with a link to a photo of the plant) in my diary entry for Aug 29 when I found it still flowering beside the Brockhampton stream in Havant

Marsh Mallow: See my diary entry for Aug 24 for photos of this species and my account of visiting it near Cobnor Point on the shore of Chichester Harbour

Hop (Humulus lupulus): This does not flower until July but I suspect other plants had flowered before the first I found on Aug 27 - a male plant growing over a fence into the Havant Rail Station carpark

Amphibious Bistort: First report of this in flower for this year comes from Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Aug 25 rather later than usual

Black Bindweed: I first came on this in flower on Aug 24 though it has probably been out for some time

Thorn Apple (Datura stramonium): See my Diary entry for Aug 28 for my comments on a plant that was found in an Emsworth garden and then got a page to itself in the Portsmouth NEWS which used the name Devils Snare which I had not come across before. My Diary explains how this name was invented by JK Rowling for the Harry Potter stories and has some 'interesting' sidelines on the plant obtained via Google

Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica): This undesireable alien is a late flowerer and had only just started to flower in Havant on Aug 29

Sharp-leaved Fluellen: First flowers seen by me on Aug 24 (another late first!)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Stoat: One was seen at Durlston on Aug 26 along with two Weasels on the same day

Common Seal: Five Seals seen together distantly on mud in Langstone Harbour on Aug 27 are presumed to have been Common Seals

Fungi: The first report of Parasol Mushrooms came from a garden on Portsdown on Aug 23


Summary for Aug 17 - 23 (Week 33 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

Bird News includes a sighting of a juvenile Red-backed Shrike at the Hayling Oysterbeds and (in Cornwall) the first Buff-breasted Sandpiper of the year. Locally I have a 'possible only' sighting of a group of Quail on the Langstone South Moors. Jack Snipe, Wigeon and over 1000 Teal are among the returning winter birds and Aquatic, Icterine and Melodious Warblers are among the autumn vagrants while a flock of over 70,000 Starlings at a Dutch site may well presage their annual autumnal invasion of southern England (giving us dramatic views as huge flocks circle over night roosts). Maderian Petrel gets its first mention for the year

Top butterfly news is a sighting of a Short-tailed Blue (previously known as the Bloxworth Blue and possibly only the eighteenth for Britain) while moth news is dominated by the find of a Death's Head Hawkmoth caterpillar. Much of the insect news focuses on a species I was not previously aware of - the Scaly Cricket that chooses to live in the tideline of shingle beaches (read how it was thought to have been eliminated at the Devon beach where the cargo ship Napoli came to grief but was refound with the aid of a Cornish Pasty).

In the Other Wildlife section I pass on news of an unusually green Lizard which popped up on the Titchfield Haven seawall and was thought to be a Sand Lizard until expert opinion declared it to be a green tinged juvenile Common Lizard

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Madeira Petrel (Pterodroma madeira): A 'possible only' report of one off Cornwall on Aug 20

Sooty Shearwater: These are seen off Cornwall fairly often but one off Dungeness on Aug 16 shows that they do come all the way up the Channel coast

Cattle Egret: The first mention of this species in southern England since one flew over Portland on Aug 7 came when one landed on the edge of Iley Lake at Keyhaven on Aug 19 and it was still being seen on the edge if Iley Lake up to Aug 22 at least

Great White Egret: One has been at the Dungeness RSPB reserve from Aug 15 to 21 at least. Maybe we will soon be seeing more of these birds as a site in Holland reported 17 of them on Aug 18

Purple Heron: One seen in Belgium on Aug 18

Spoonbill: It would seem these are also on the move with reports from two Dutch sites on Aug 18 (one had 8 birds, the other 16). On Aug 19 two were at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour

Wigeon: One at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 17 was described as the 'first of the winter' there and is the first to be mentioned at a Dorset site since May 22

Teal: On Aug 21 the Spurn Point observatory in Yorkshire reported 1094 Teal moving south over it.

Pintail: 8 of these were on the move in Holland on Aug 21

Garganey: Sightings of individual birds are not uncommon at this time of year but a report of a pair accompanied by four juveniles at a Cornish site on Aug 16 was unusual.

Shoveler: On Aug 20 a group of four on the Milton Common lakes in Portsmouth were reported as the first of the autumn there while on Aug 22 I also noted four back at the Budds Farm pools in Havant

Honey Buzzard: No reports from southern England this week but passage over Holland is quickening with seven reports between Aug 18 and 21 - one site had 8 birds on Aug 21

Hen Harrier: On Aug 16 it looks as if at least three birds were back in the south - one at Oare Marshes in north Kent, one in the Sussex Ouse valley near Glyndebourne and one further west near the Arun valley at the Burgh above Amberley

Montagu's Harrier: A ringtail in east Kent gave rise to three reports from Pegwell and Sandwich Bays on Aug 15 and 16

Goshawk: One flew over the centre of Christchurch on Aug 17

Merlin: Two more reports on Aug 16 (from Brading Marshes on the IoW and Portland) bring the total of sightings of returning birds to seven since the beginning of July

Grey Partridge: More than 40 were seen on the Downs above the Arun valley south of Amberley. We are now approaching the time when conservation minded farmers are likely to purchase and release these birds on their land, not for shooting but in the hopes they will stay and breed - few are likely to do so!

Quail: I have described my own close in my Diary an encounter with 8 small birds that might have been Quail at the Langstone South Moors on Aug 22. It has been suggested that they might have been baby Pheasants or Partridges and I admit that they made squealing noises like young juveniles. I don't think they were Pheasants but they might have been Partridge, though the appearance of a group of very young birds at that site at this date seems just about as unlikely as the appearance of migrant Quail that might well have chosen to drop off at a coastal site with excellent cover. I would have thought that by this date young Partridge would have grown to almost adult size (which is twice the size of a Quail) whereas my first impression of these birds put the size at that of a Skylark - which I see happens to be exactly the same as that of a Quail.

Spotted Crake: No further reports from Farlington since Aug 10 but one has been seen in the Kent Stour Valley on Aug 20 and 21

Kentish Plover: A report of one on the Lymington marshes on Aug 17 has not been confirmed unlike one at Dawlish on the south Devon coast back on Aug 9 - there is a good photo of that one on the Devon Birding website

Dotterel: Two reports from the continent, both on Aug 21 when there were 4 at one site in Holland and 1 at another in Belgium

Golden Plover: An estimate of 500 back at the north Kent Oare Marshes on Aug 17 was double the previous high count of the autumn (240 there on Aug 5). On Aug 19 a flock of 70 were at The Midrips (east side of Rye Bay) and on Aug 20 a flock of 50 with in the Seaford area

Little Stint: On Aug 15 one was at Pulborough Brooks, on Aug 18 two were at Abbotsbury in Dorset and on Aug 21 one was at Christchurch Harbour

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: First of the year was to be seen at the end of the runway at St Mary's in the Scillies on Aug 16 and 17

Jack Snipe: First report of this species in southern England since Apr 10 come from Cornwall on Aug 16 (two seen near Wadebridge)

Black-tailed Godwit: The number of continental race birds at Oare Marshes in north Kent was estimated at 1700 on Aug 16. By Aug 23 the number at Farlington Marshes was up to 295 (highest so far this autumn for that site)

Turnstone: The number to be seen at Titchfield Haven was up to 96 on Aug 17 and 11 were back in Emsworth Harbour on Aug 22

Sabine's Gull: On Aug 16 an adult was reported off Cornwall and a first summer off the Scillies

Common Tern: The number coming to roost in Langstone Harbour was up to 2105 on the evening of Aug 18 (just one Black Tern among them) but there were only 950 seen on Aug 22 (maybe more on the way as 9000 were reported heading south past Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Aug 21)

Black Tern: A total of 26 were in the Pegwell Bay area of east Kent on Aug 16 - the next highest count was of 4 coming into Langstone Harbour on the evening of Aug 19.

Nightjar: More than two were still churring in Parkhurst Forest (IoW) on Aug 22

Swift: These are still being seen daily but mostly in ones and twos though 5 flew over the Langstone Harbour entrance on the evening of Aug 16 and 19 went over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 19

Wryneck: First report for the autum is of one in Worthing Crematorium grounds on Aug 9

House Martin: On Aug 15 Tony Tupper told me that 4 pairs had left the nest boxes on his Havant area house but one pair had stayed on to have a second brood, and on Aug 18 a report from the Lewes area told of one pair having started at second brood there. Sadly Tony Tupper now tells me that his pair have abandoned their attempt and left

Departing migrants: The following species (including vagrants) have been reported at coastal sites this week (highest individual count given in brackets) - Tree Pipit (5), Meadow Pipit (6), Yellow Wagtail (80), Grey Wagtail (3), Nightingale (3), Common Redstart (35), Whinchat (3), Wheatear (10), Grasshopper Warbler (2), Aquatic Warbler (1), Sedge Warbler (45), Reed Warbler (22), Icterine Warbler (1), Melodious Warbler (1), Lesser Whitethroat (13), Common Whitethroat (95), Garden Warbler (8), Blackcap (75), Chiffchaff (-), Willow Warbler (50), Spotted Flycatcher (3), Pied Flycatcher (2)

Yellow Wagtail: Ten reports between Aug 16 and 19 shows that these are now on the move south. On Aug 17 Rye Harbour had 30 and on Aug 19 Hope Gap near Seaford reported 35. By Aug 20 Seaford had 50 and Dungeness 40 while on Aug 21 the night roost at Titchfield Haven had 80 birds

Common Redstart: One at Sandy Point on Hayling on Aug 16 and one at Northney (Hayling) on Aug 20 but a count of 35+ at Durlston on Aug 22 suggests a major departure.

Whinchat: Three were at Farlington Marshes on Aug 19 and again on Aug 21

Aquatic Warbler: First report of the autumn is on one ringed at Titchfield Haven on Aug 22

Sedge Warbler: 45 were ringed at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 17

Icterine Warbler: One was seen briefly at Hope Gap near Seaford on Aug 18

Melodious Warbler: One was a highlight at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 18 (another had been at The Lizard in Cornwall on Aug 16)

Dartford Warbler: Two were heard and seen moving along a hedge beside the Hayling Coastal Path near the Oysterbeds on Aug 18

Common Whitethroat: Christchurch Harbour reported a count of 95 on Aug 19

Blackcap: Small numbers have been moving south for some time but things hotted up on Aug 18 with a count of 20 at Beachy Head and then 75 there on Aug 22

Pied Flycatcher: One seems to have been present near Crockford Bridge (west of Beaulieu in the New Forest) for some time before it become the target of several birders on Aug 17

Red-backed Shrike: A juvenile bird spent a few hours in the field on the east side of the Hayling Coastal Path at its north end on Aug 18 and gave ticks to several local birders

Raven: A pair were seen at Mill Rythe on the east coast of Hayling on Aug 16

Starling: We should soon be seeing large flocks - a count of 71,840 was reported from a Dutch site on Aug 18

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Emperor, Ruddy and Common Darter plus Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Common Blue Damsel are the only species to get a mention this week

Butterflies

31 species still on the wing so far this week, not including the Short-tailed Blue seen on Aug 5

Brown Hairsteak: A couple of mentions away from normal sites include one in a Horsham garden and one on Mill Hill at Shoreham (a new species for that rich site bringing the number of species occurring there to 33)

Short-tailed Blue: A very significant addition to the Portland species list was made when one of these was found there by accident and in unpropitious circumstances. See http://huntphotography.wordpress.com/ for the story of how a photographer got a picture of a seemingly fresh specimen while visiting Portland on a windy day back on Aug 5 and http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?vernacular_name=Short-tailed%20Blue for the status of the species in England (this was within the first 20 recorded finds of the species in Britain)

Painted Lady: The number in southern Britain seems to be declining now but more than 200 could be seen at Mill Rythe on Hayling on Aug 16

Small Tortoiseshell: Still doing well with news of 23 seen at the Testwood Lakes in the Southampton area on Aug 16 and 8 in the Burghclere area of north Hampshire on Aug 17

Silver-washed Fritillary: Still one on the wing at Noar Hill near Petersfield on Aug 18

Wall Brown: It is a mystery as to where a tatty specimen seen on Hayling Island on Aug 16 came from - the most likely answer is that it was blown over from the Isle of Wight

Marbled White: These could still be seen at Durlston on Aug 23

Ringlet: One of these was also seen still flying at Noar Hill on Aug 18

Moths

Eucosma tripoliana (1193): First report from Thanet in Kent on Aug 15

Agriphila latistria (1307): First ar Dungeness on Aug 19

Catoptria falsella (1316): First at Portland on Aug 16

Ringed China-mark (1348 Parapoynx stratiotat): First report from Edburton north of the South Downs on Aug 16

Portland Ribbon Wave (1714 Idaea degeneraria): First at Portland on Aug 19

Beech-green Carpet (1774 Colostygia olivata): First at Portland on Aug 21

Large Thorn (1911 Ennomos autumnaria): First in Thanet (Kent) on Aug 18

Light Emerald (1961 Campaea margaritata): First report from Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Aug 22

Antler Moth (2176 Cerapteryx graminis): One in Ashdown Forest on Aug 14 - the second report after on near Andownver on July 19

Copper Underwing (2297 Amphipyra pyramidea): Also a second report from Edburton on Aug 16 after on at Dungeness on July 26

Old Lady (2300 Mormo maura): As for the above excpet that the first sighting at Dungeness was on July 18

Small Marbled (2408 Eublemma parva): First at Portland on Aug 18

Clifden Nonpareil (2451 Catocala fraxini): First at Brockenhurst in the New Forest on Aug 22 (some two weeks earlier than in previous years)

Red Underwing (2452 Catocala nupta): Also seen at Edburton on Aug 16 after reports from Dungeness on Aug 10 and Thanet on Aug 12

Death's Head Hawkmoth caterpillar: A full grown example (larger than a human hand) found at Barcombe Mills near Lewes on Aug 19

Other Insects

Hoverfly species: When Brian Fellows published a superb photo of a hoverfly (seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Aug 16) I felt sure I had correctly identified it as Chrysotoxum bicinctum by reference to a comprehensive set of photos on http://syrphidae.com/ but when I later saw a report on John Goodspeed's website of two more hoverflies seen in a Portsdown garden on Aug 9 with the unfamiliar (to me) names of Sphaerophoria scripta and Metasyrphus corollae I found pictures of them on a different website, which seemed to give strange names to species that I thought I recognised under different names, and I began to get the feeling that the world of hoverflies is rather like that of fungi with many groups of experts having their own opinions on the naming of species. Maybe this is not true but at least I have learnt that the number of species of hoverfly runs into hundreds and many of them are very similar!

Volucella zonaria: This is one hoverfly that leaves no doubt about its identity - one was seen at Durlston on Aug 23 (and Chrysotoxum bicinctum was also seen there that day)

Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes): One of these was also found in Brook Meadow by Brian Fellows on Aug 16 and identified using the excellent Garden Safari website by reference to http://www.gardensafari.net/english/mining_bees.htm

Longhorn Beetle species (Strangalia maculata): First mention of this species for the year comes from Brook Meadow on Aug 16

Burying Beetle (Necrodes littoralis): This gets a mention from Durlston on Aug 23

Long-winged Conehead: One of these landed at my feet when I was at the Langstone South Moors on Aug 22

Grey Bush-cricket (Platycleis albopunctata): First for the year reported frm Thanet in Kent on Aug 18. Dark Bush Crickets were seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Aug 16

Dock Leaf Bug (Coreus marginatus): An unusually shaped bug found by Brian Fellows at Brook Meadow on Aug 16 was thought by him to be possibly Verlusea rhombea (the nearest match to be found in Michael Chinery's Collins Guide to Insects). I am equally uncertain about the name I have suggested for it after searching the Garden Safari website.

Bee Killer (aka Bee Wolf) (Philanthus triangulum): This species has in the past been reported from Thorney Island and from the New Forest but the first mention for this year comes from Rye Harbour on Aug 20

Scaly cricket (Pseudomogoplistes vicentae): I had never heard of this insect until I saw photos of it on the Portland website (see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/wp_scaly_cricket_2_170809_500.jpg ) and read that hundreds of them could be found among the shingle on the seaward side of the Chesil bank. Further investigation revealed that the species was first discovered in Britain at Chesil in 1949 and was then thought to be a Mediterranean species brought here by accident during the second world war. It was not until 1998 that a second colony was found at Sark in the Chanel Isles and since then others have been found near Branscombe in Devon and in Wales (Pembrokeshire). By this time the insects were recognised as a separate species native to Britain and different from the Mediterranean species.

In 2007 the ship Napoli was wrecked off the Branscombe shore and run aground there and for the next 17 months the insects could not be found but a story in the Daily Telegraph reported .. "Adrian Colston, National Trust property manager for Dartmoor and the Orthoptera recorder who continued searching for the cricket after the disaster, said: "After walking along the shingle beach and drawing a blank I changed my tactics in the hunt for this elusive cricket. I set five pitfall traps at various points on the beach at Branscombe using cat biscuits, pieces of apple and a bit of my Cornish pasty as bait. When I returned I found that one of the traps contained a single adult female Scaly cricket. This rediscovery has come as a real relief and it's likely a healthy population of Scaly crickets can still be found on Branscombe."

The description of the insect reads .. "The species is small, with a chestnut brown to grey body and pale legs, which are covered with minute scales. Wings are absent in both sexes so males cannot stridulate; the female ovipositor is about the same length as the cerci (a pair of appendages at the very end of the abdomen, which often act as sensory organs). The English name derives from the covering of tiny scales. Size Body length (males): 8-11 mm (females): 10-13 mm. The scaly cricket inhabits shingle beaches, and has been found living amongst shingle, under rocks and beach debris. Most individuals inhabit shingle above the high-water mark, and are associated with the seaweed strandline."

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Welsh Poppy: The bright yellow flowers of this plant were out beside the Billy Trail where it nears the main road at Langstone on Aug 22 - maybe a self sown plant but maybe deliberately planted to brighten the scene

Hairy St John's Wort and Square Stalked St John's Wort: The first of these two look-alike species has been seen several times by me this summer, most recently in Havant Thicket on Aug 17 but I did not come across its wetland cousin until Aug 22 on the Langstone South Moors - see my photo of it in my diary for that day. If you look hard you can see that there are no black marks on the petals or calyx but the square stem cannot be detected in the picture!

Green Amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus): Three very puny specimens were flowering on Aug 22 in a cul de sac in the Juniper Square area of Havant where I have seen the plants in previous years

Least Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis exilis): In the past I have several times commented on the colony of this which grows in the edge of the footpath leading from the Royal Oak at Langstone to St Faith's Church in Havant - the site being on the north side of Southbrook Road in Langstone. Passing there on Aug 20 I saw that the bushes which overhang the site have been trimmed and this should allow the ground hugging plants to flourish more profusely - they already cover an area 12 metres long by around 1 metre wide.

Ivy: None yet in flower but by the end of this week the compact flower buds were already 'stretching their legs' and may well have flowers before the end of the month.

Pepper Saxifrage: Brian Fellows reports the best year ever for this species at Brook Meadow in Emsworth with 14 flowering plants this year

Tomato: Self sown plants flowering well beside the Billy Trail in the Langstone area on Aug 22

White Comfrey: This plant is abundant in the Havant area in the early spring but my last record of it in flower was on June 1. Now it is starting a second flowering in at least a couple of places.

Garden Lobelia (Lobelia erinus): The bright blue flowers of garden escapes could be seen in Havant and Emsworth this week

Devil's Bit Scabious: A few flowers were out in Havant Thicket on Aug 17 but the big display there is yet to come. By Aug 22, on the other hand, the usual very low key display of one or two small specimens that I usually find on the Langstone South Moors in September was out much earlier than usual with several hundred tall plants dominating an area of the 'orchid field' (see my Diary for that day)

Sneezewort: This can still be found alongside the 'yellow brick road' leading into Havant Thicket from the Main Road - see my Diary for Aug 17

Autumn Ladies Tresses: Durlston claimed the first flowers on Aug 13 but some were out on Portsdown when Richard Jones returned from holiday

Purple Moor Grass: Just starting to flower in Havant Thicket on |Aug 17

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bank Vole: On Aug 16 Brian Fellows came on a freshly dead specimen on Sinah Common (south Hayling) and took a photo which shows well the reddish colour of its fur (in contrast to the mouse grey of a Field Vole)

Common Lizard: A lizard which popped up on the seawall at Titchfield Haven was an unexpected sight in that location but even more unusual was the bright green colour on its sides suggesting that it was a Sand Lizard. Luckily someone with knowledge of the species said that it was a juvenile Common Lizard but with unusual colouring

Basking Shark: One reported off the Cornish coast on Aug 16 was the first report which I have picked up but it is not the first for the year - the Seawatch South West website says .. "Colleagues at Cornwall Wildlife Trust are collaborating with SeaWatch SW this year, and have been co-ordinating a Basking Shark survey at Gwennap Head that commenced on 1 June. Volunteer observers have been treated to some fantastic views of sharks feeding just a few metres offshore, and even occasionally breaching. Initial result suggest that June has been a good month for surface shark sightings off SW Cornwall - certainly better than the previous two years when unsettled weather led to a dearth of shark sightings during the mid-summer period."

Fungi: In Havant Thicket on Aug 17 I noticed the dried remains of a few fungi which had not survived the dry conditions above ground but on Aug 22 I did spot a shaded tree stump near the Langbrook stream in Havant which had a large, fresh and healty looking clump of Sulphur Tuft toadstools


Summary for Aug 10 - 16 (Week 32 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Highlights

Both Red- and Black-necked Grebes have started to return to the south of England along with the first big flock of summer plumaged Sanderling and a couple of Long-eared Owls. Other new arrivals this week are the first juvenile Black-tailed Godwits, while several Ospreys have been noted including Beatrice, a radio tagged bird from Scotland which chose to spend a night in Stansted Forest before flying over Chichester and Langstone Harbours when setting out for France via the Isle of Wight. Leaving us have been large flocks of Swifts (probably the last of their kind other than isolated stragglers) and House Martins, while a solo flight by a Nightjar gave an unusual daytime sighting at Pagham Harbour. The first report of 'Corn Sparrows' (normal House Sparrows which have deserted human habitations for a summer holiday in harvest fields) has come from the Selsey area and we have a couple of oddities for August - one is a Blackbird still collecting food for young in the nest and the other a Song Thrush belting out its full song in Emsworth. Rarities in southern England this week have been a Bluethroat, a Lesser Yellowlegs and an Audoin's Gull while a flock of 1000 Herring Gulls following the plough might suggest that harvest time is already over!

Butterfly news quotes a vivid description of the great show of butterflies seen on Oxenbourne Down plus very encouraging news of Small Tortoiseshells. In the moth news we have links to photos of colourful moths seen on Portsdown. At Dungeness the first Red Underwing (a personal favourite moth) has been seen along with the less welcome arrival of more Harlequin Ladybirds. More local news is of a Great Green Bush Cricket found resting on a car tyre on Hayling and a local increase in Common Wasps which had almost become just memories of the past

Five new plants get a mention - one of them is the strange umbellifer called Slender Hare's Ear, seen on Thorney and no doubt present at other coastal sites and another is Autumn Ladies Tresses, the last wild orchid species of the year

And finally news from China of a dog that ate a dead Marmot and passed Plague on to its owner ...

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-necked Grebe: The first to be reported since April was seen at a Dutch coastal site on Aug 10

Black-necked Grebe: One still in smart summer plumage was seen off the Selsey West Fields on Aug 9

Shag: A loose flock of 54 flew east off Portland on Aug 10

Great White Egret: One arrived at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Aug 15 and was still there on Aug 16

Storks: On Aug 14 two Belgian sites reported Storks on the move - 37 White and 2 Black. 11 more White Storks were seen on Aug 15

Spoonbill: Two of these seemed to have settled in at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour this week

Shelduck: Two juveniles were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 12 - I suspect all adults have now left us to moult elsewhere

Teal: These are starting to re-appear at several sites including one on one of the three lakes at Milton Common in Portsmouth on Aug 14 (a pair had been seen flying west past Sandy Point on Hayling that day and seven had been seen on the sea off Worthing on Aug 9)

Common Scoter: A drake was seen from Black Point on Hayling in the Emsworth Channel area of Chichester Harbour on Aug 13 and 15

Red-breasted Merganser: A female seen off Hook/Warsash on Aug 10 is presumably the same bird that has been in that area through the summer (though not reported since July 12)

Honey Buzzard: Two more sighting of passage birds in southern England - on Aug 8 one came in off the sea at Dungeness but then flew east and on Aug 10 an adult flew south over Hastings. Over on the near continent there have been six reports this week with a maximum of seven birds at one site

Marsh Harrier: Aug 8 brought one over Dungeness (we have already reported others over the Isle of Wight and Poole Harbour that day), while Aug 9 brought coastal reports from Selsey, Beachy Head and Pett Level in Sussex plus a more interesting sighting of two or more hunting over fields on the Sussex Downs above the Cuckmere Valley. At one point two of these landed and faced up to each other on the ground - no actual fighting seen but they spread their wings in a close 'breast to breast' confrontation.

Osprey: As the number moving south increases one arrived in Chichester Harbour on Aug 13 and there have been sightings in the Pilsey area (south end of Thorney Island) to Aug 15 at least - these must involve more than one bird. On Aug 14 there were other local sightings over Pagham Harbour and the Milton area of Portsmouth. This latter bird must have been Beatrice (one of Roy Dennis' radio tagged birds whose travels are logged daily on Roy's website - the website is currently being revamped and to see the current info you go to http://www.roydennis.org/ and click the Autumn Migration 2009 link in the paragraph about Beatrice)

On Aug 13 Beatrice flew 100 miles south from Newton Blossomville on the Great Ouse in Bedfordshire (just north of Milton Keynes) to Chichester Harbour. At 5pm on that day she flew north to roost in Stansted Forest (possibly in trees around Brick-kiln Pond). Roy's next entry starts .. "14th August. First signals this morning showed that she was still at her roost in the forest at 8am, but by 9am had flown 4 miles to the top end of Chichester Harbour at Prinsted, and was flying east low over the water so she was probably fishing for grey mullet or flounders. At 10am she was further south down the estuary, then crossed Thorney Island and perched in the west channel at 11am. She then flew over Hayling Island, Langstone Harbour and then high over the west side of Portsmouth as she headed for the Isle of Wight. At 1pm she was just east of Newport flying SSW at 38km/h and it looked as though she set off across the English Channel from St Catherine's Point before 2pm." By 5pm she was well into Normandy and spent the night at Pont-Farcy south of Saint-Lo. On Aug 15 she headed on past Gorron (roughly half way between St Malo and Le Mans and twinned with Hayling Island - see http://homepages.which.net/~john.tappy/HaylingTwinningWebSite/haylingtwinningHayling01.html for a description of the twinning ceremony in April 2001 when the Rose In June pub was still in business for the conclusion of the event!) to spend the night in the Loire valley.

Merlin: After two 'autumn' sightings in July the pace at which these are returning to the south coast is speeding up with three so far in August. Latest were at Portland on Aug 12 and a female in the Warsash area near Southampton Water on Aug 13

Spotted Crake: The bird which has been at Farlington Marshes lake since Aug 4 was still there on Aug 10 but has not been reported since then.

Common Crane: One is reported to have circled over a golf course at Lewes before fly north east on Aug 10. Most recent previous reports were of two in Yorkshire on July 22 and of two at Pulborough Brooks on June 14 and 15

Ringed Plover: Aug 13 found 92 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) and 46 in Christchurch Harbour

Grey Plover: It looks as if a wave of these reached us on Aug 9 with a report of 148 at Farlington Marshes and 20+ in Pagham Harbour. I guess most of these will have been in summer plumage (as was the single bird seen in the Emsworth Channel on Aug 6). Latest report is of 23 on the Lymington shore on Aug 15

Knot: Three of these seen in Pagham Harbour on Aug 9 were 'Red Knots' in summer plumage

Sanderling: Although there have been 11 reports of Sanderling during July none were of more than 10 birds, now the first August report is of 70 on the shore at Climping (west of the mouth of the Arun) with some of these being in summer plumage. On Aug 13 Ryde Sands had a flock of 47

Pectoral Sandpiper: One had been seen at Pett on Rye Bay on Aug 7 and on Aug 14 one was flushed by dog walkers from the beach at Marazion in Cornwall.

Ruff: Although Hampshire cannot compete with counts such as 13 at Oare on the north Kent coast on Aug 13, and 4 at Christchurch Harbour that day, Farlington Marshes acquired a second bird on Aug 11 to join the one which had been there since Aug 8.

Black-tailed Godwit: On July 30 a count of 196 was reported at Farlington Marshes but counts since then (181 on Aug 2 and 102 on Aug 5) have shown no increase. On Aug 9 this changed with a count of 244 there. Aug 11 brought the first news of juveniles arriving from Iceland - at least one was in a group of six at Christchurch Harbour that day and by Aug 15 the majority of a group of 17 there were juveniles

Bar-tailed Godwit: The first flock back in Chichester Harbour were 15 birds in the West Wittering area on Aug 13

Lesser Yellowlegs: One was on St Mary's in the Scillies from Aug 12 to 13 at least. The only previous sightings I am aware of were one in Essex on Apr 12 and two singles on July 22 (in Yorkshire and Fife)

Wood Sandpiper: Five birds were at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Aug 13 with a single at the Vyne (north of Basingstoke) that day, and two more singles at Hook/Warsash and Pulborough Brooks on Aug 14, then another between Wareham and Poole Harbour on Aug 15

Med Gull: A flock of 212 were in the Selsey West Fields area on Aug 13

Audoin's Gull: First report this year of one in British waters came from the Scillies on Aug 13 when a second summer bird was seen at St Mary's

Common Gull: Adults have been returning to the south coast since July 26 at least (when there were 4 in the Fishbourne channel near Chichester) but it was not until Aug 10 that I saw my first three on the Langstone village shore

Herring Gull: More than 1000 of these gulls were following the plough in a field on the the Sussex Down north of Seaford on Aug 15

Yellow-legged Gull: 41 were in the Selsey west fields on Aug 11 (with 31 there on Aug 13 when Poole Harbour had 63 in the Holes Bay area)

Common Tern: The number coming to roost in Langstone Harbour was up to 1450 on the evening of Aug 9 and had increased to 1660 on Aug 15 (when one Roseate Tern was among them)

Arctic Tern: The first juvenile was seen off the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Aug 14

Black Tern: A trickle of these continues to pass along our south coast but no reports since Aug 12 when three were at Arne in Poole Harbour, two were off Titchfield Haven and one came into Langstone Harbour to roost in the evening

Long-eared Owl: Two seen at Reculver (Margate) in Kent on Aug 8 were presumably moving south after breeding somewhere to the north

Nightjar: One was seen on a fence near the Pagham Harbour visitor centre at 2:15 in the afternoon of Aug 9 - again a bird stopping off on its way south

Swift: 40 at Dungeness on Aug 7 seem to have been the last flock heading south (430 had been seen there on Aug 6). Since then there have only been eleven reports from southern England with none being of more than 20 birds (22 were over Jersey on Aug 9 and 21 at a Belgian site on Aug 10)

Kingfisher: One was back at Farlington Marshes on Aug 9

Sand Martin: 600 went south over Pagham Harbour on Aug 9 and on Aug 10 more than 1300 passed over Pegwell Bay in Kent (with 450+ Swallows)

Swallow: Steve Copsey took some delightful holiday snaps when he was at Essie in Aberdeenshire on the eastern fringe of the Highlands - they were of a pure white (but not albino) Swallow and he has a series of excellent photos of it on the Three Amigos website - see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/11756/White+Swallow+at+Essie.html

House Martin: Normally these are one of the last of our summer visitors to leave us but Aug 10 brought a count of 500+ heading south over Pegwell Bay in Kent and 30+ over Durlston. Another 180 were seen over Sandwich Bay on Aug 11 and more than 300 went over there on Aug 12. Also on Aug 12 a party of 17 moved over my garden in Havant but a few birds have remained in the area. This impression of a mass exodus taking most of our birds but leaving a few is backed by news from Tony Tupper who has six artificial nests for them on his house near the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park (northern area of Havant). This year House Sparrows raised young in one of these nests but the other five were all used by House Martins. By Aug 15 the adults and young from four of the nest had left, leaving just one pair attempting to raise a further brood - in fact three different adults seem to be currently feeding young in this last nest (in previous years House Martins have always been one of the last summer birds to leave us and it is not uncommon for them still to be feeding young in nests in October). One other point made by Tony concerns the aggressiveness of these birds towards each other - this year he has found three dead birds on the ground after bitter fights

Departing migrants: The list of other departing species seen in the past few days, with the highest count for each, starts with Tree Pipit (17), Yellow Wagtail (20), Grey Wagtail (2), Nightingale (4), Common Redstart (2), Whinchat (2), Wheatear (35), Cetti's Warbler (one singing at Whitbread Hollow, Beachy Head on Aug 15), Grasshopper Warbler (2 - two individuals at different sites were singing), Sedge Warbler (130), Reed Warbler (60), Lesser Whitethroat (13), Common Whitethroat (150), Garden Warbler (20), Blackcap (4 - on Milton Common in Portsmouth), Wood Warbler (3), Chiffchaff (10), Willow Warbler (100), Spotted Flycatcher (1), Pied Flycatcher (6)

Pied Wagtail: A flock of around 150 were seen at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Aug 13

Bluethroat: One was caught, ringed and photographed at West Bexington (by The Fleet north of Weymouth) on Aug 15 but has not been seen since it was released. This is the first in southern England this year.

Stonechat: A group of three seen in the Fort Cumberland area of the Portsmouth southern shore on Aug 14 were presumably new arrivals there and may stay for the winter (though the bird at Sandy Point on Hayling on Aug 1 has not been mentioned again)

Blackbird: One has been coming into my Havant garden daily from Aug 9 to 16 at least obviously collecting food for young still in a nest

Song Thrush: Another unseasonal observation was of a Song Thrush in full song, heard in Emsworth by Brian Fellows on Aug 10

Mistle Thrush: Two more reports of autumn flocks come from the Horsham area (18 birds on Aug 12) and from the south of the Isle of Wight (12 birds on Aug 12)

Melodious Warbler: One on St Mary's in the Scillies on Aug 11 and 12

Dartford Warbler: On July 31 I pased on a report of at least one juvenile seen with an adult in the Sinah Common area of south Hayling and on Aug 11 there was a sighting of an adult with two juveniles in the same area

House Sparrow: On Aug 9 a large flock was noted in the fields west of Selsey Bill, co-inciding with the departure last week of Sparrows from gardens in Havant and Portsdown (and no doubt elsewhere).

Common Rosefinch: A juvenile was reported from a garden at St Ives in Cornwall on Aug 9

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Black-tailed Skimmer: Six at at Kent site on Aug 14

Red-veined Darter: Two in Thanet in Aug 14

Common Darter: One was in the Portland moth traps on Aug 11

Small Red-eyed Damselfly: Two at Dungeness on Aug 10

Butterflies

35 species reported this week with some good counts. On Aug 8 Ashley Whitlock went to Oxenbourne Down (at the foot of Butser Hill) and wrote .. "In almost perfect weather Oxenbourne Down was a dream butterfly site today, with butterflies absolutely everywhere. We may be in recession, but the butterflies certainly aren't, and it was a delight to count so many, it must have been on a par with how the butterflies must have been in the past. The counts were as follows, Gatekeeper [50] Meadow Brown [30] Small Heath [17] Ringlet [3] Dark-Green Fritillary [2] Silver-Washed Fritillary [3] Painted Lady too numerous to count but well over a hundred, and the Small Tortoiseshell made a nice appearance [2] Peacock [100+] this is my best count of this species in 25 years of butterflying, Comma [3] Clouded Yellow [1] Brimstone [30] Large White too numerous to count but well over a hundred, along with the Small White as well. Green Veined White [5] Small Copper [1] Common Blue [27] Chalkhill Blue [100+ - I counted many mating pairs in a space of a few minutes] Small Skipper [21] Large Skipper [3] Silver Spotted Skipper [5], there was also many Silver-Y Moths, and Macro Moths."

Silver Spotted Skipper: Reported from six sites this week with more than 30 on Newtimber Hill near Brighton on Aug 11 and 12 on Broughton Down near Stockbridge on Aug 13 (but only 7 at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley that day)

Clouded Yellow: Seventeen sightings in this week's reports including 7 on Old Winchester Hill on Aug 13, at least 6 on Thorney Island on Aug 11 and a massive estimate of 15 in Newick Park (10km north of Lewes), where a crop of Lucerne had caught their attention, on Aug 13

Brown Hairstreak: A total of 44 were seen at Shipton Bellinger near Andover on Aug 9 but Noar Hill could only produce 2 on Aug 11. Steyning Round Hill north of Worthing had 9 on Aug 8

Common Blue: A count of 200+ at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Aug 9, with counts of 89, 45 and 30 at other sites, show that this species is still thriving. On Aug 14 Brading Down (IoW) had more than 100.

Chalkhill Blue: Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley had a decent count of around 1000 flying on Aug 13

Adonis Blue: Mill Hill also had 41 of these beauties on Aug 9

Painted Lady: One seen in a Gosport Garden on Aug 10 and 11 had none of the normal orange-yellow colour but seemed to be just black and white. Despite this it is said to have been 'an aggressive male'

Small Tortoiseshell: Fourteen reports between Aug 5 and 13, with counts of 5, 6+, 9, 10, 22 and 28 (the last on Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley) are very encouraging for the revival of this species

Large Tortoiseshell: An isolated report of one in a Southampton garden on Aug 8 has no confirmation

Wall Brown: On Aug 11 a walk around the east end of the South Downs gave a count of 31

Marbled White: These could still be seen at both Durlston and Brading Down (IoW) on Aug 14, much later than usual

Grayling: A small wetland heath nature reserve in north Hampshire (Castle Bottom to the north west of Blackbushes airport) had more than 20 Grayling on Aug 5

Moths

To see images of moths mentioned below go to http://ukmoths.org.uk/ and enter the 'Bradley and Fletcher' number of the species (given in brackets in my notes) in the Moth Name Search box, then press Enter.

Note 1. Omit leading zeroes from my version of the numbers (for 0382 enter 382)

Note 2. The result of entering this number will normally be a list of links to different pictures. To see one of the pictures and its accompanying data click one of the links (where it says View Thumbnails click that to choose the best picture, then click the picture)

Orange Swift (0015 Hepialus sylvina): First seen somewhere in Sussex on Aug 14

Nemapogon clematella (0220): First in the Thanet area of Kent on Aug 11

Six-belted Clearwing (0382 Bembecia scopigera): Although the first report was on June 23 the sighting of one by a group of Sussex butterfly hunters on Lullington Heath (near Friston Forest) on Aug 8 (unassisted by pheromones) was a pleasant surprise

Argyresthia albistria (0422): First in Thanet on Aug 11

Orthotelia sparganella (0470): First in Thanet on Aug 11

Ethmia quadrillella (0719): First in Thanet on Aug 11. The second record for Kent since 1961

Beautiful China-mark (1350 Nymphula stagnata): 0811 foy

Yellow Pearl (1396 Mecyna flavalis): The first reported sighting was on Aug 8 when lots were present on Windover Hill (north of Eastbourne).

Mother of Pearl (1405 Pleuroptya ruralis): First somewhere in Sussex on Aug 14

Oncocera semirubella (1441): This colourful micro was first reported at Dungeness on Aug 7

Oak Hook-tip (1646 Drepana binaria): First at Portland on Aug 11

Flame Carpet (1722 Xanthorhoe designata): First at Portland on Aug 11

Chalk Carpet (1731 Scotopteryx bipunctaria cretata): Another first reported from Windover Hill on Aug 8

White-banded Carpet (1786 Spargania luctuata): First report from Lullington Heath on Aug 8

Tawny Speckled Pug (1838 Eupithecia icterata): First in Thanet on Aug 11

Scorched carpet (1888 Ligdia adustata): See http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/11776/An+elusive+Crake%2C+a+dodgy+Ruff+and+Moths+%21.html for pictures taken by Mark Cutts on Portsdown on Aug 9. (This species was first reported on Apr 12)

Canary-shouldered Thorn (1913 Ennomos alniaria): First report of this comes from Mark Cutts on Aug 10 (use above link for picture)

Dusky Thorn (1914 Ennomos fuscantaria): First somewhere in Sussex on Aug 14

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): Aug 11 brought the third report for the year from Thanet and the fourth report from Portland (where the first two had been seen on June 27 and Aug 5)

Poplar Hawkmoth (1981 Laothoe populi): This species first appeared in April but Mark Cutts has a picture from Portsdown on Aug 8

Garden Tiger (2057 Arctia caja): Another of Mark Cutts' Portsdown picture - the species was first reported on July 15

Marbled Beauty (2293 Cryphia domestica): Another first by Mark Cutts on Portsdown seen Aug 8

Red Underwing (2452 Catocala nupta): First at Dungeness on Aug 10 with a second on Aug 12 in the Thanet area (typically seen by day resting on the wall of a public toilet!)

Other Insects

Hornet Robber-fly (Asilus crabroniformis): This species was exciting news with two sightings last week and we have a third this week with one seen on 'the gallops' at Butchershole Bottom near Friston Forest in East Sussex on Aug 8

Syrphus ribesii Hoverfly: First report for the year is of many on the flowers of Wild Angelica at Stansted House (Rowlands Castle) on Aug 12. Also on the same flowers were examples of Scaeva pyrastri and Episyrphus balteatus (the Marmelade hoverfly)

Helophilus trivittatus hoverfly: The first report of these is from Rye Harbour on Aug 14

Common Wasp: Perhaps these are making a come back? I have noticed more than usual this year and on Aug 12 many wasps were pestering customers at the Stansted House cafe by homing in on anything sweet in the way that I remember being a common picnic hazard not many years ago. It seems that at least five wasp nests had been found in holes in the earth bank which screens the Stansted Garden Centre form the rest of the Forest and Park

Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis): A report of 40 in moth traps at Dungeness on Aug 7 seems to indicate new arrivals from the continent.

Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima): Their presence in the Oysterbeds area of Hayling Island was further confirmed on the morning of Aug 12 when a female was found sitting in the tyre of a car in the Stoke Common area when the owner came to drive off!

Wasp spider (Argioppe bruennichi): By now these are becoming a common sight among rough grass in our area - I saw my first two on the north pier of the old rail bridge at Langstone on Aug 10. At the end of this week a video of one in action (catching and wrapping up a Grasshopper) was available on the Rye Bay website

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica): A plant covered with fresh yellow flowers was a surprise find on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Aug 14. It had appeared where Holm Oak and Gorse scrub had recently been removed (pictures with my Diary entry)

Lucerne: A flowering crop of this in the Newick Park area north of Seaford had attracted a large crowd of Painted Lady butterflies on Aug 13

Pepper Saxifrage: This was flowering in Emsworth on July 31 but I did not see any until I found a number of plants in fresh flower by the Hayling Coastal Path on Aug 14

Slender Hare's Ear (Bupleurum tenuissimum): The first flowers were out on north Thorney Island by Aug 12

Pale Toadflax (Linaria repens): This is not an uncommon plant (big swathes can probably still be seen on Browndown west of Gosport) but it was not recorded on Hayling Island after 1932 until I came on a small cluster of plants hiding in gorse on Sinah Common a few years ago. The plants were flowering on Aug 14 when I paid my annual visit and photos are in my diary entry

Blue Fleabane: First flowers seen by me on the north pier of the old rail bridge at Langstone on Aug 10

Autumn Ladies Tresses: This last orchid species of the year started to flower at Durlston on Aug 13

OTHER WILDLIFE

World News

Marmot brings Pneumonic Plague to humans: The earth goddess Gaia is not happy with the progress that Swine Flu is making to control the rogue human species which is intent on denuding the earth of its biodiversity. She is trying a new tactic, using Marmots (similar to Ground Squirrels) to spead Pneumonic Plague which is even more deadly to humans than the Bubonic Plague which she employed in the middle ages. The latest progress report on this attempt came from the World Health Organisation on Aug 10. Their report says ..

"A marmot was at the root of a pneumonic plague outbreak in northwest China that has claimed three lives. According to the epidemiological investigation, the source of this outbreak was a wild marmot, which later came into contact with a dog.

On August 1, China reported an outbreak of pulmonary plague in Ziketan, a remote town in a Tibetan area of Qinghai province. A 32-year-old herdsman was the first person to die from the outbreak. His 64-year-old father-in-law and a 37-year-old male neighbour have also died from the disease. The WHO said the three deaths have been "attributed largely to delayed treatment." Nine other people -- mainly relatives who attended the funeral of the first victim -- are still hospitalised, with seven in stable condition, one showing acute symptoms of fever and cough, and another in critical condition.

Chinese media had earlier reported that a dog which ate a plague-infected marmot was suspected to be the origin of the outbreak. The first victim had been infected after he was bitten by fleas while burying the dog, Xinhua had reported, quoting professor Wang Hu, director of the Qinghai disease control bureau. Chinese authorities have lifted a quarantine order that was imposed on a remote town of 10,000 people to contain a deadly outbreak of pneumonic plague, according to a report Sunday.

Local News

Seals: One Grey Seal was hauled out on the mud south west of Thorney Island on Aug 14 among a group of 11 Common Seals. The Grey was still with them next day

Hedgehog: On the morning of Aug 12 I found glossy black Hedgehog droppings on my lawn

Wall Lizard: The entry for Aug 14 on the Portland website ( http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm ) has a couple of colourful close up photos of juvenile Wall Lizards taken with a Blackberry camera

Great Grey Slug (Limax maximus): One of these, referred to by its alternative name of Leopard Slug, was seen in the Thanet on Aug 14. Its four inch length and speckled colouration created a strong impression as did one I saw in Havant Thicket last year

Blue Shark: First report that I have seen for this year is of two seen from a boat off the Scillies on Aug 9. These could be dangerous to bathers but luckily they are a deep water species that does not come in the shallows. My Reader's Digest book of Water Life says that as many as 5000 are caught by Shark Fishers off the British south west coast each year - the book was published in 1984 but in 2005 the BBC reported .. "Richard Pierce, chairman of the Plymouth-based Shark Trust, said: "Blue sharks have been here for millions of years. They are summer visitors. Sadly they are becoming unusual. The rate at which we are killing them off means that sooner or later we won't be seeing them." They come here in pursuit of Mackerel and the like and the ones we get here are mainly young females no more than 2 metre long. Later they give birth to live young.


Summary for Aug 3 - 9 (Week 31 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Among things I have learnt from this weeks news is that Red-footed Falcons hover and this comes with reports of 'Family Training Days' for Kestrels. Local excitement was caused by the arrival of a Spotted Crake at Farlington Marshes but most of the news is taken up with reports of departing summer visitors including one Dotterel, adult and juvenile Cuckoos, Swifts and many passerines including a Wood Warbler. As the summer birds depart the winter birds arrive - Dungeness had over 1000 Pochard newly in. Also indicative of autumn is the resumption of Robin song but hopefully that does not presage a winter like the last one which seems to have killed off most of Britain's Dartford Warblers (luckily Hampshire escaped the worst of the damage). Rarities have included two Melodious Warblers and two Marsh Sandpipers

Insect news describes my discovery of an excellent source of information about variant butterflies (thanks to the Natural History Museum and its 'Cockayne Collection'). The moths section has news of a 'first for Sussex' (a Raspberry Clearwing that was new to Britain last year) and two more finds of the impressive Convolvuls Hawkmoth. Other Insects records the find of a very rare Hornet Robber-fly inside a house on Portsdown. Black Darter was a new dragonfly species for the year and the Sussex Downs had a hot spot for Painted Ladies with an estimated 120,000 to be seen

The Plants section describes a couple of good finds (Autumn Gentian and Lesser Centaury) on Portsdown where there has been a magnificent display of Harebells - it also has a link to news of some very rare plants at Rye Harbour (Red Hemp-nettle and Least Lettuce)

To end with Other Wildlife tells you how to treat a Portuguese Man-of -War sting with vinegar and sellotape.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Cattle Egret: One flew north over Portland on Aug 7

Little Egret: Another indication of the rapidly increasing number of these in southern England as birds return from breeding comes from Rye Harbour where the number leaving the night roost on Aug 8 was up to 82 (previous counts have been 6 on Apr 19, 12 on May 3, 15 on June 12, 64 on July 21 and now 82)

Great White Egret: I think a report of one in Langstone Harbour on Aug 5 should be treated with scepticism until there is more than one distant sighting but one was seen well on the north Kent coast on Aug 2 and there is another report for Aug 8 of one at Sturminster Marshall on the Stour near Blandford in Dorset

Spoonbill: An adult with two juveniles was photographed in flight over the Oare Marshes in Kent on Aug 2 and a single bird spend the day at Pett Pools (Rye Bay) on Aug 5. Latest news is of one in Poole Harbour on Aug 7

Black Swan: The female which mated with a Mute Swan on the River Itchen in Southampton on May 14 has patiently sat on a nest since then but has now given up without outcome.

Shelduck: When Lee Evans was at Farlington Marshes to see the Spotted Crake on Aug 5 he commented on 'many juvenile Shelduck' in Langstone Harbour.

Teal: Several reports of these returning to th south coast include a count of 45 going west at Dungeness on Aug 5, 8 arriving at Climping (Worthing) and 6 at Bembridge Harbour both on Aug 6, and an estimated 30 at Pulborough Brooks on Aug 7

Pochard: On Aug 7 the Dungeness RSPB reserve reported the presence or 1158 Pochard (the second highest count ever at that site) - I assume this was a massive passage flock having a rest.

Aythya hybrid: John Clark was at Farlington Marshes on Aug 2 and noted the presence of several duck species (12 Shoveler, 6 Teal, 4 Gadwall and 1 Pintail) plus 'an interesting hybrid female showing some Scaup-like features'

Red-breasted Merganser: Lee Evans is the only person to report the presence of a female in Langstone Harbour on Aug 5 (when one was also seen flying east near Seaford). I wonder if this was the bird seen in the Southampton Water area - last reported off Warsash on July 12?

Goosander: Three were seen on the River Avon somewhere near Ringwood on Aug 2

Honey Buzzard: Reports of them moving over the near continent continue but on Aug 2 Portland reported one flying south there. Since then there have been reports of one circling over the A22 Uckfield bypass on Aug 5, two reports on Aug 6 from Luccombe Down on the IoW and Dungeness (both these birds were flying east), then one over the downs north of Worthing on Aug 8

Marsh Harrier: A female was seen over Langstone Harbour on both Aug 4 and 5. Another female flew over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 3. More recently a female was over Pulborough Brooks on Aug 7 with another sighting over Langstone Harbour that evening and over the Isle of Wight next day (Aug 8)

Hen Harrier: Two reported over Luccumbe Down (IoW) on Aug 8

Kestrel: Two reports this week of what sounds like 'family training days' for juvenile Kestrels. On Aug 2 four were seen hunting together on the Sussex Downs above the Cuckmere Valley and on Aug 3 a total of eight were hunting in the Lewes area. In the past I have seen this behaviour over Sinah Common on Hayling - a line of Kestrels, each about 100 metres from its neighbour, all hovering and occasionally descending on possilbe prey. I assume the adult parents were demonstrating hunting technique to their fledged young which were doing their best to copy the skill.

Red-footed Falcon: A 'possible' sighting came from the area north of Worthing on Aug 2. This came from a reputable observer (Richard Ives) who wrote .. "At Salvington an interesting falcon - very lithe and Hobby like started to hover. I do believe it was a Red-footed Falcon but did not have my binoculars to confirm my suspicions." I see from the MacMillan Field Guide to Bird Identification that the Red-footed Falcon looks like a Hobby in shape but a Kestrel in colouration - it goes on to say .. "Unlike Hobby, persistently hovers, but with noticeably deeper wingbeats than Kestrel"

Merlin: A third report of one returning south comes from Dungeness on Aug 2. The previous two were from Radipole in Dorset on July 1 and Horsham in Sussex on July 26

Quail: One was heard in the Kent Stour valley (an unlikely location) early in the mornings of Aug 1 and 6

Spotted Crake: These have started to put in their elusive autumn appearances on the south coast. Other than reports of a bird heard on Brownsea Island (where they may breed) on May 25 and 27 the first two autumn reports came on Aug 2 with birds at both the Lymington Marshes and Christchurch Harbour. Neither of those has been seen again but on Aug 4 Tim Doran saw one at the Farlington Marshes Lake and this has remained to Aug 8 at least. This bird has been slightly less difficult to spot than others in the past - it can be expected to be seen at the east end of the lake within fifteen minutes of your arrival. After seeing it on Aug 5 Lee Evans wrote .. "This individual is frequenting the mud at the narrower eastern end of the lagoon and was showing reasonably well and fairly frequently during my visit this afternoon. The resident Moorhens did not like it and whenever it appeared when they were out, they chased it back into the reeds. On a couple of occasions it had to fly revealing very pale underwings. However, on the other hand, the crake was actually very aggressive towards a Common Sandpiper that came nearby and chased after it in flight to push it away from the margin. A particularly boisterous individual! It showed on and off at regular intervals generally keeping to the far left about 10 yards from the water and was typically buff-toned on the undertail coverts and quite dark about the face. There was some reddish-orange at the base of the bill but ageing individuals in late July and August is always very difficult and only satisfactorily achieved on eye colour."

Dotterel: The first report of an autumn passage bird came from Christchurch Harbour on Aug 5 when one flew south west over the site (presumably identified by call?)

Golden Plover: A flock of 30 flying down the Test Valley on July 19 was the first substantial arrival in the south, then on July 30 a flock of around 90 was at the Oare Marshes near Faversham in Kent. Latest news is of around 240 at Oare on Aug 5 (100 Knot were also there that day). By Aug 8 a settled flock was starting to build up at Rye Harbour (but only 22 birds so far)

Grey Plover: Birds in summer plumage will soon become frequent along the south coast - on Aug 5 there was a flock of ten at Newtown Harbour on the IoW and on Aug 6 four were on the Lymington shore. Also on Aug 6 the first was back in the Emsworth Channel area but its plumage was not mentioned (it could have been one of the many young birds staying the summer in the local harbours and not yet showing breeding plumage)

Little Stint: The first autumn bird was at Rye Harbour on July 27 and by Aug 5 they have appeared at four more south coast sites including two birds at the Pennington Marshes (Lymington) and one at Farlington Marshes

Pectoral Sandpiper: One at Pett Pools (Rye Bay) on Aug 7

Dunlin: By Aug 4 Pagham Harbour had a flock of 200

Ruff: One was a newcomer at Farlington Marshes on Aug 8

Black-tailed Godwit: John Clark found 181 at Farlington Marshes on Aug 1 matching the count of 184 there on July 23. On Aug 5 Lee Evans could only see 102 there. Also on Aug 5 there were estimated to be 800 at the Oare Marshes in North Kent (though I think these are continental race, not Icelandic, birds). Also on Aug 5 a group of ten stopped briefly at Portland when Richard Millington (who is very familiar with the continental race in East Anglia) was there and Richard supplied the following comments (on separating the races and ageing and sexing the birds) which appear on the Portland website. "Breeding-plumaged adult 'Icelandic' Black-tailed Godwits. The female is larger and more rangy, with longer legs and a longer bill than the male. Not only is the male smaller, but the rich chestnut-orange of the foreparts is cleaner, with bold black bars limited to the flank; on the female, this colour is invaded by a multitude of thin dark bars up the sides of the breast. The female has intricate patterning on the scapulars, but she has rather more summer-patterned feathers in the wing coverts than the male, because she had more time to lay down these feathers before arresting her spring moult. The male is more boldly patterned orange and black above, but he arrested his moult earlier, upon arriving at the nesting grounds first (and so has only acquired a couple of summer-patterned tertials and inner median coverts). The rest of the wing (all the plain coverts, the secondaries and primaries) is worn 'winter' feathering, acquired in last autumn's complete moult. Having migrated, both birds will soon begin their complete post-breeding moult into their all-grey winter plumage. Adult 'Continental' Black-tailed Godwits (the majority of which migrated to West Africa last month) will already have virtually completed their post-breeding moult and look effectively all-grey by August."

Whimbrel: Lee Evans recorded a good count of 42 in Langstone Harbour (on the RSPB Islands) on Aug 5

Spotted Redshank: One was seen at Farlington Marshes on both Aug 1 and 5 and another was in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Aug 6 (when 2 were seen at Lymington)

Marsh Sandpiper: The bird which turned up on St Mary's in the Scillies on July 29 was still there on Aug 7. Another was seen briefly at Bough Beech near Tonbridge in Kent on Aug 6

Green Sandpiper: A total of 34 were in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 6 and there were 26 at Pulborough Brooks on Aug 7 - other high counts have been 10 at Weir Wood reservoir (Crowborough) on Aug 4, 16 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 3 and around 13 at Pulborough Brooks on Aug 2.

Wood Sandpiper: Eight reports this week including a count of four at Weir Wood on Aug 6 and two at Dungeness on Aug 7

Common Sandpiper: Plenty of these around but a count of 12 together at Hook/Warsash on Aug 7 was a good local report.

Turnstone: These are now back in force at Titchfield Haven area (59 there on July 31 and 70 on Aug 3) but a more typical current count for the south coast was of just one at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 4.

Common Gull: These are beginning to make a general return to the south coast with four seen entering Langstone Harbour on the evening of Aug 4 and six adults being seen from Farlington Marshes on Aug 5 (when 15 were back at the Oare Marshes in Kent)

Yellow-legged Gull: Autumn flocks are starting to build at the head of Southampton Water (27 there on Aug 5) and in the Selsey/Pagham area with around 20 seen at Bracklesham on July 30 but the best place to see them is Poole Harbour where I believe there is a breeding colony (69 seen at Middlebere on Aug 3)

Gull-billed Tern: One seen at a Dutch site on Aug 5 (third continental sighting I have picked up this year in addition to sightings in Devon on May 23, Lymington on June 4 and Titchfield Haven on July 4)

Common Tern: 1150 came to roost in Langstone Harbour on the evening of Aug 4

Little Tern: 50 to roost in Langstone Harbour on Aug 3

Black Tern: These are now passing through the Solent area in small numbers - ignoring an odd bird at the Blashford Lakes on July 17 Hampshire birders have seen them since Aug 1 at Titchfield/Hill Head (max 10 on Aug 6), Lymington (4 offshore on Aug 5) plus singles at the Blashford Lakes on Aug 3 and Black Point/Hayling on Aug 5

Cuckoo: A juvenile at Dungeness on Aug 3 (after what was probably an adult at Beachy Head on Aug 1) suggests that the adults have now left and the young are starting to follow them.

Little Owl: On Aug 5 Alistair Martin saw one back at a traditional site near Aston House half way down the Hayling Coastal path

Swift: Aug 2 brought a screaming party of 60 over Shirley in Southampton plus a count of 50 (maybe the same birds) over the nearby Lower Test with 70 seen a little further west over Christchurch Harbour. On Aug 3 sightings were further east with 40 over Beachy Head and 190 at Dungeness. Aug 4 brought a count of 200 high over Brighton with more than 72 over Poole Harbour and 30 over Beachy Head. Numbers leaving us increased again on Aug 6 with 360 going south from Pagham Harbour and 430 passing over Dungeness.

Sand Martin: On Aug 3 a flock of 800 were behaving like finches, grounded on a newly drilled field in the Church Norton (Pagham) area with small parties leap-frogging each other as they moved across the field. Also that day Dungeness had a peak count of 1800 passing over but another 400 followed them on Aug 4 when some 700 roosted in reeds around the Breech Pool to the north of Pagham Harbour (a single white bird was among that flock!)

Swallow: Many of these are now leaving - on Aug 7 Portland reported several hundred flying south out to sea

Tree Pipit: These have just started to head south with the first report being of one at Dungeness on Aug 2 (when another was seen at Portland). Aug 3 brought at single to Hope Gap near Beachy Head and Aug 5 brought news of one over Christchurch Harbour. By Aug 8 there were 6 at Hope Gap near Beachy Head

Yellow Wagtail: Serious autumn passage seems to have started on July 31 with 14 at Dungeness where daily sightings increased to 24 on Aug 2 (when the Oare Marshes in north Kent reported 50 that were not, I think, local birds). Locally just one flew over Pagham Harbour on Aug 4

Grey Wagtail: These are now joing the autumn passage with first reports of singles over Durlston on Aug 6 and Dungeness on Aug 7. Quite a few Pied Wagtails are also moving

Robin: Autumn song re-started in Emsworth on July 31 but I personally heard my first in full song at Langstone in the afternoon of Aug 7 and then heard two singing on either side of my Havant garden on the morning of Aug 8

Departure of other summer birds: With the mass rush for the exit now under way the best I can do is to note the species concerned with a peak count of birds seen at any one site during this week. Nightingale (2), Common Redstart (3), Whinchat (2), Wheatear (15), Grasshopper Warbler (6), Sedge Warbler (150+), Reed Warbler (10), Lesser Whitethroat (10), Common Whitethroat (81), Garden Warbler (12+), Blackcap (25), Wood Warbler (1), Chiff Chaff (20), Willow Warbler (94), Spotted Flycatcher (2 families), Pied Flycatcher (2)

Melodious Warbler: One was seen at Portland from Aug 2 until Aug 6 with a different bird there on Aug 7

Dartford Warbler: Comments on HOSLIST show that the snow in January had a catastrophic effect on Dartford Warbler populations in those areas where the snow persisted but in other areas where it did not the birds were not so seriously affected. On Aug 4 Lee Evans summarised the situation, saying .. "John Eyre asked whether the severe weather of January 2009 had affected other populations of Dartford Warblers in the UK. I answered in relation to those populations in East Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. In the majority of counties, numbers are seriously depleted, even in Somerset, but it seems that Hampshire, Devon, Cornwall, Gwent and the Cardiff area survived relatively unscathed and will hopefully provide the platform for the northward colonisation to take place again." Right on the south coast the birds probably suffered little loss and this is reflected in a local report of July 31 saying that an adult had been seen with a juvenile near a regular Hayling Island breeding site on Sinah Common, and another juvenile has been seen this week at Christchurch Harbour.

House Sparrow: Here in Havant it seems that all the birds have left the built up areas where they have been breeding and they are now presumably forming flocks in the countryside

Serin: A female was seen at West Bexington near The Fleet in Dorset on Aug 8

Corn Bunting: One was singing at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on Aug 3

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker and Common Darter were both seen at Stansted House grounds on Aug 5 but no other reports so far

Lesser Emperor: 6 were at the Dungeness RSPB site on Aug 6

Black Darter: First report for the year comes from the heathland restoration area near Pulborough Brooks on Aug 7

Butterflies

36 species reported on the wing this week - the highest number so far this year

Clouded Yellow: A noticeable increase with sixteen sightings reported this week including more than one on Portsdown on Aug 3, 3 on the Lymington Marshes on Aug 8 and 4 at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Aug 6.

Brown Hairstreak: These had been out in Sussex since July 14 but the first Hampshire report was of five seen at Shipton Bellinger near Andover on July 31

Brown Argus var pallidior: On Aug 3 when on Portsdown I had a clear view of what I felt sure was a Brown Argus but which had white instead of orange filling the prominent crescents around the edges of the upper suface of its wings. At the time I had no idea of where to find out if this was a recognized aberration but it so happened that an aberrant Gatekeeper had been seen in Sussex on the same day and that the finder (Tom Ottley) had identified it using something called the Cockayne collection. See my diary entry for Aug 5 to see how I identified my aberration using this facility provided by the Natural History Museum.

Holly Blue: These are still at a low point in the perpetual cycle of the battle between their species and the Ichneumon wasp Listrodomus nycthemus which parasitises the Holly Blue caterpillar. Nevertheless there have been seven reported sightings this week including reports from gardens in Emsworth and on Portsdown and I managed to see one in flight in the Warblington area on Aug 7

Purple Emperor: These have normally disappeared by the end of July but this year there has been at least one August sighting of four in the Alice Holt Forest on Aug 2

Painted Lady: No one can have failed to see many specimens of this species this summer but this week a report from the Ditchling Beacon area of the Sussex Downs on Aug 4 described a patch of thistles some 200 by 300 metres in size in which every thistle head seemed to have one or more Painted Ladies on it (one had attracted six butterflies). A rough calculation suggested that 120,000 butterflies were present!

Small Tortoiseshell: Twelve reports in the past few days (mostly of single butterflies but including sightings of 3, 5 and 7) show that this species is regaining ground lost to the Sturmia bella fly which has recently arrived in this country and which parasitises the butterfly's caterpillars

Peacock: Aug 2 saw reports of more than 20 on Graffham Down near Midhurst and 13 on Portsdown among eight reports so far this week. Those do not include one which I found on Aug 8 already hibernating in my garage (I think the majority which of this and other species which emerge at this time of year spend no more than a couple of days feeding before settling down to a long sleep so as to be fresh and ready for the real business of their lives - mating and egg-laying next spring)

Wall Brown: These are doing well in Sussex with reports of 26 seen in the Steyning are north of Worthing on Aug 2 and 42 counted during a long walk of the eastern end of the South Downs on Aug 5. Another count of 30 was made on the downs north of Worthing on Aug 8 when 4 were seen on the Lymington Marshes

Grayling: On Aug 4 I met Barry Collins in Havant on his way home from Sandy Point on Hayling where he had seen 16 Grayling

Gatekeeper var subalbida: On Aug 5 Tom Ottley wrote on the Sussex Butterfly website .. "Looking round Uckfield Millennium Green today I came across a female Gatekeeper that was an unusual colour. It was white where it should have been yellow so the wings were white with brown borders, and no it wasn't just faded! It had the usual spots. Looking at the Cockayne collection website it looked exactly like the subalbida aberrant. I've no idea if these are rare but it certainly looked quite striking."

Moths

Raspberry Clearwing (038A Pennisetia hylaeiformis): A report of one found on an allotment at Bexhill on Aug 2 sent me to search for more information about this species as it was new to me and was reported as a first for Sussex. UK Moths had no entry for the species but I eventually found that the species, while common on the other side of the Channel and right across Europe, had not been detected in Britain until 2008 (at Royston in Hertfordshire) with the next report coming from Bedfordshire in July 2009. As far as I know this one in Sussex was the third for Britain. (As it does not have a B&F number I have slotted it into my database after the other Clearwings and given it a generalised number following the Six-belted Clearwing which is in the genus Bembecia which seems to be equivalent to Pennisetia - our other Clearwings belong to the genus Synanthedon)

Honeysuckle Moth (0453 Ypsolopha dentella): First report from Thanet on Aug 1

Pediasia contaminella (1323): First at Portland on Aug 7

Cryptoblabes bistriga (1433): First at Dungeness on Aug 5

Apomyelois bistriatella (1486): First on Dungeness on Aug 6 - an uncommon moth whose larve live on a fungus related to Cramp Balls but which is found on burnt gorse

Rest Harrow (1664 Aplasta ononaria): First report from Thanet on Aug 4

Small Scallop (1712 Idaea emarginata): First report from Thanet on Aug 2

Ash Pug (1849 Eupithecia fraxinata): First at Dungeness on Aug 6

Channel Islands Pug (1855a Eupithecia ultimaria): First at Dungeness on Aug 6

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): Singles at Portland on Aug 5 and Aug 7 (the first had been recorded there on June 27)

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (2111 Noctua janthina): First report from Durlston on Aug 6

Flounced Rustic (2353 Luperina testacea): First report from Thanet on Aug 2

Scarce Bordered Straw (2400 Helicoverpa armigera): First at Portland on Aug 6

Other Insects

Hornet Robber-fly (Asilus Crabroniformis): Two reports of this impressive insect during the week - one was seen on Aug 2 on the South Downs above the village of Edburton (just east of the Adur valley) but news of the second came to me by phone on Aug 7 when someone living on Portsdown rang me up for help with identifying an insect found inside their house (and captured in a bug box). The identity of the insect was soon established beyond doubt by reference to two of Michael Chinery's books and I suggested that it would be good to release the insect as soon as possible but I could not resist suggesting a little experiment first - a box of mealworms (for feeding baby Robins) was to hand and I suggested that it would be interesting to see if this carnivorous insect would eat one if it were put in the bug box (Robber-fly larvae are said to eat the larvae of Dung beetles though the adults normally catch flying insects) - I haven't heard the outcome of this.

As it is many years since I once attempted to photograph the only Robber-fly I have ever seen (also on Portsdown) I have had a look at the current status of the species given on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan website - it says .. "This large and spectacular fly is found in unimproved grassland and heath in southern England and Wales. However, these habitats have shown significant decline in range and quality in recent years, with fragmentation enhancing the difficulties facing this insect. Since 1970 the hornet robberfly has been recorded from only about 40 ten km squares: in Hampshire, for example, it has been lost from six of its seven chalk grassland sites over the last few years." For further info and a photo of the insect in question go to http://www.ukbap.org.uk/UKPlans.aspx?ID=117#1 and for 20 more superb photos go to http://diptera.myspecies.info/en/category/diptera-classification/asilus-crabroniformis

Scaeva pyrastri hoverfly: Brian Fellows got a good photo of this insect on Thorney Island on Aug 7 - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-889-scaeva-pyrastri-tni-07.08.09.jpg

Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga carnaria): On Aug 4 Brian Fellows took great picture of two of these mating on a leaf at the Brook Meadow nature reserve in Emsworth - see it at http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-891-flesh-flies-matingi-bm-04.08.09.jpg

Black Garden Ant (Lasius niger): There has been a massive mating flight of these during the week with many reported airborne over the Pulborough Brooks on Aug 2 and (unusually) many apparently unable to get airborne in my garden - on the evening of Aug 4 my front lawn was covered with winged ants crawling everywhere but none were seen in the air (nor were any birds catching them overhead) and early on the morning of Aug 5 there was a similar massive display on my back lawn. Later in the day few were left but again I saw no indication that they had become airborne (as their wings detach immediately after one of these annual flights maybe they lost their wings without ever becoming airborne due to weather conditions - too cool? too damp? not enough breeze?)

Mottled Grasshopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus): Several of these (and Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers) could be seen at Rye Harbour (Castle Water) on Aug 6 along with Dark Bush-Crickets, Roesel's Bush-Crickets and Long Winged Coneheads

Wasp Spider (Argioppe bruennichi): These are now becoming more common with a report from Sidlesham Ferry (Pagham Harbour) on July 30 and a sighting of at least two on the north of Thorney Island on Aug 6

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Tall (or Golden) Melilot: Checking the seed pods found on several plants still flowering on Portsdown on Aug 3 I could see many hairs on the pods showing these were the first Tall, not Ribbed, Melilot that I have recognised this year.

Autumn Gentian: Also seen on Portsdown on Aug 3 was the first Autumn Gentian that I am aware of (Durlston, which usually has the earliest flowerings, did not report one until Aug 5!)

Lesser Centaury: Durlston had reported this in flower on July 30 but I was nevertheless delighted to come across a single minute, scarlet flowered, plant on Portsdown on Aug 3

Red hemp nettle (Galeopsis angustifolia): Flowering at Rye Harbour on Aug 3 - see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/plants/ for an entry dated Aug 3 and headed 'Tiny rare species in peril' - this not only has a photo of the Hemp-nettle flower but also of a tiny Flea Beetle that lives on the plant

Least lettuce (Lactuca saligna): The sorry state of this species at Rye Harbour is also described in the above mentioned web entry

Harebell: The display of this on Portsdown on Aug 3 was the best I have ever seen there (though I am not a regular enough visitor to judge that authoritatively!)

Canadian Goldenrod: This garden flower was flowering well in the wild on Portsdown on Aug 3

OTHER WILDLIFE

Grey Seal: One seen in Stockers Lake (Chichester Harbour mouth area) on Aug 6. Observer was sure it was not the more expected Common Seal

Slow-worm: Nik Knight reports a sighting of two in his Langstone garden on Aug 4. Despite regular attacks on them by Cats, Magpies, and no doubt other predators these legless lizards seem to be common enough in the Havant area where compost heaps provide them with good habitat.

Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis): Three of these (first of the year) were recently washed up on the Chesil Bank in Dorset and I heard of them via the Durlston website on Aug 5. These are not normal jellyfish (each is not a single organism but a colony of separate creatures living in a symbiotic relationship). Should you ever come near one try to avoid the long trailing tentacles which deliver a really nasty sting - the Durlston website advises you to use sellotape to remove any part of the creature that sticks to your skin, and then to pour liberal quantities of vinegar on the affected parts

Fungi: Five specimens of Blackening Waxcap (Hygrocybe conica) had pushed the tips of their conical orange caps through the grass in my lawn on Aug 5. The deep orange colour soon turns a deep black as if the fungus was made of charcoal. Another fungus (Daldinia vernicosa - very similar to D. concentrica or Cramp Balls) gets a mentions thanks to the finding of an unusual moth (Apomyelois bistriatella) at Dungeness - the larvae of this moth feed on the fungus which is said to be restricted to burnt gorse and birch trees)

Summary for July 27 - Aug 2 (Week 30 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Bird of the week was a Black-browed Albatross seen at two places off the Devon and Cornish coasts - investigating this led me to some 'interesting triva' concerning an Albatross called Albert and one of his ancesters which was known to the people of the Faroe Isles as the 'Gannet King'. Another wanderer in this week's news is Great Bustard number 28. Nearer home Mute Swans are losing their flight feathers and this has brought the Langstone family back onto the Mill Pond for the first time since the six cygnets hatched in May. Nearly all the wader species that spent the winter with us now have representatives back on the south coast while one species that just passes through (Stone Curlew) has been photogaphed in flight to show the unusual proportions its wings. Reports seem to show that Swifts, along with all our summer visitor bird species, have had enough of July's wind and rain and are leaving early (one party of four Swifts posing an unanswered question as to what they were doing circling a Portsmouth tower block at nightfall) - the same weather may well have been repsonsible for giving me an earlier than usual sighting of a pair of Kingfishers back on the Hermitage Stream and for an earlier than usual report of a Twite on the Isle of Wight. Other interesting migrants in the news include Honey Buzzard and Montagu's Harrier as well as Golden Oriole while the year's first Marsh Sandpiper has turned up in the Scillies. Oddities include a Blackbird trying to eat a Newt and Greenfinches eating seaweed.

Ruddy Darter and Brown Hawker dragonflies are the only new insects (other than a Volucella zonaria hoverfly and the inevitable list of moths) to get a mention in the latest news while the main interest in the butterfly news is that Hampshire seems to have an edge on Sussex in terms of the number of Graylings now out. 13 new moth species include the first Jersey Tiger (reported from the Isle of Wight) and the first Copper Underwing (seen at Dungeness) plus a species called Dotted Rustic (seen in Kent) about which the UK Moths website says .. "A species with a rather fluctuating and discontinuous distribution in England, which is also complicated by possible immigration in the south. It also occurs sporadically in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The moths fly in June and July, then aestivate in cool places such as tunnels and outbuildings, reappearing in the autumn. The populations seem to vary widely from year to year. Details of the larval foodplant in the wild are yet to be discovered, but in captivity the caterpillars will accept a range of grasses and other plants. However, they are reputed to be difficult to rear successfully." Another newcomer to the summer scene is the Wasp Spider and Chris Bentley at Rye Harbour has been lucky enough to photograph a male and female together after the male turned up in his moth trap. Locally Great Green Bush Crickets can be seen and heard at the Hayling Oysterbeds.

With less than a week of buying my first Digital SLR camera I have been experimenting with it and one subject that came out well is the Hairy Vetchling which has become established at Broadmarsh here in Havant - a picture appears with my Diary entry for July 28. The only newly flowering plant so far this week is Fennel though Lesser Centaury and Carline Thistle get rather late first mentions.

Hedgehogs seem to be faring better in Emsworth than elsewhere but even there one of the latest reports is of one dead from unknown causes (being known as 'hogs' I wonder if these animals are subject to Swine Flu?). Yellow Stainer mushrooms are new among the fungi.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-necked Grebe: Four flew south over a Dutch site on July 29 - probably early returnees from the north (although I expect some breed in Holland as they occasionally do in southern England). Two more were reported from a different Dutch site on Aug 1

Black-browed Albatross: I know that one confused bird spent several summers in our northern Isles (see below) in the recent past but a couple of sightings of one cruising along the southern Cornish cliffs is the first time I have heard of one in our southern waters. The first report was a second hand one from fisherman some 12 miles off Salcombe in Devon on July 23, then on July 26 watchers on the Cornish cliffs near Gwennap Head (the southwest tip of Cornwall, south of Lands End) had excellent views of the bird flying west towards and then past them towards the Longships lighthouse. For an account of the sighting and details of previous Cornish Albatross records see http://www.swopticsphoto.com/2009/07/black-browed-albatross-at-porthgwarra.html

Black-browed Albatross (the Scottish loner): A Polar Conservation website entry on this species has, under 'Interesting Trivia', the following .. "Although this is a rare occurrence, on several occasions a Black-browed Albatross has summered in Scottish Gannet colonies (Bass Rock, Hermaness and now Sula Sgeir) for a number of years. Ornithologists believe that it was the same bird, known as Albert, who lives in north Scotland. It is believed that the bird was blown off course into the North Atlantic over 40 years ago, and it is suspected that the bird is over 47 years old. A similar incident took place in the gannet colony in the Faroe Islands island of Mykines, where a Black-browed Albatross lived among the gannets for over 30 years. This incident is the reason why an albatross is referred to as a 'Gannet King' (Faroese: súlukongur) in Faroese. "

Great Shearwater: Third sighting of one this year on July 26 from Gwennap Head (previous sightings from a Scillies boat trip on July 20 and in the Lyme Bay area of Dorset on Feb 19). Also seen there that day were Balearic Shearwater (8), Sooty Shearwater, Pom Skua (2), Arctic Skua (2), Great Skua (2) and Storm Petrel (2)

Balearic Shearwater: Also at Gwennap Head, but on July 25 there was a count of 58 Balearic Shearwaters while on July 30 there was a count of 36 at Gatteville on the Normandy coast across the Channel

Wilson's Storm Petrel: Third sighting for the year was of one off Padstow on July 25 after singles were seen from a Scillies boat trip on both July 7 and 20. A further sighting was made on Aug 1 off Padstown on the north coast of Cornwall. At least 80 Storm Petrels were also off Cornwall on July 25

Gannet: A count of 2100 off Gatteville (Normandy) on the French coast on July 30 must have been spectacular but I see that on Mar 24 there were 7745 off Cap Gris-Nez

Little Egret: Each year the number of Egrets on the south coast increases greatly at this time of year (after the breeding season) but there is little information on where they cross the Channel. I guess this is partly due to the difficulty of seeing these white birds against the sky, and probably because they do not necessarily check in at the bird observatories around the coast. There is however a hint of the route taken by some of them in a report of 98 moving west along the north Kent coast over the Oare Marshes (near Faversham) on July 30 (I think several different parties were seen following this route but 98 was the largest single count). Another flock of 42 were seen at Cuckmere Haven near Beachy Head on July 20 and 64 came out of the Rye Harbour roost on July 21.

Mute Swan: The majority of these are now flightless while they moult and regrow their flight feathers. This could be clearly seen at Langstone Mill Pond on July 28 when the local pair were back on the pond (with all six cygnets) for the first time since the young hatched on May 6 - the male bird was aggressively defending his family with his wings arched in the 'Busking' position and the wings could be seen as short stumps with none of the impressive flight feathers. Another reflection of this moult season and a decline in Swan numbers was the presence of just six birds in the Hermitage Stream at Broadmarsh (where not many years ago a summer moult flock of up to 100 birds could be seen with as many as 200 in the Emsworth Harbour area)

Teal: At least six were on the Budds Farm pools when I was there on July 31 - I also saw a female Gadwall, presumably one of the three which raised young there this year.

Shoveler: The female at Farlington Marshes which had 5 ducklings with her on July 19 only had 3 on July 26. A report on July 27 of six birds at Christchurch Harbour (where there have been no recent reports of the species) may indicate that some birds which have bred elsewhere are returning to the south coast. On July 28 there were two Shoveler on Alresford Pond (near the source of the Itchen) but I have no information as to how long they may have been there. We will probably be seeing more of them soon as on July 31 a Dutch site reported 453 passing over.

Eider: I think there were only one or two left in the Lymington area of the Solent in May and June but on July 10 twelve were seen there and on July 26 this number had doubled to twenty four.

Goosander: Last week there was a case of mistaken identity when a poorly seen Merganser at the mouth of the Hamble River was mistaken for a Goosander but now there is some evidence that Goosanders are starting to move south when one was found at a Dutch site on Aug 1. (A different site there reported a Goldeneye on the same day)

Honey Buzzard: Just one sighting in southern England (flying in the wrong direction from west to north east in the Worthing area on Aug 1) but reports from seven sites in the Low Countries show that their autumn passage is now underway. Four birds were seen at one site and three at another, the other five sites reporting one each - all reports were on July 31 and Aug 1.

Montagu's Harrier: Two possible sightings - one seen by Pete Hughes (warden of Pulborough Brooks) on July 30 from a car on the A27 in the Bosham area west of Chichester, the other seen heading west over the Durrington district of Worthing on July 31. In both cases the birds were ringtails

Sparrow Hawk: These don't often get into the news but on the evening of July 27 one caused a lot more trouble than just the death of the one bird which became its prey. The incident occurred among the nesting gulls at the Hayling Oysterbeds and began with the Sparrowhawk taking one of the Black-headed Gull chicks, naturally causing great commotion among all the birds nesting at the site. Had the Sparrowhawk flown off with its prey the fuss would soon have subsided but it remained for some time on the nest island while it ate its prey, keeping all the gulls in the air, making a lot of noise and exposing their young to other dangers. Before long the disturbance was spotted by a Peregrine which swept into the melee and took a juvenile Black-headed Gull out of the air. By this time the Sparrowhawk had flown off but the double attack kept the gulls in the air for some time after the Peregrine had gone and they did not settle until dusk.

Osprey: One has been in the Wareham area of Dorset from July 1 to 24 at least and another was in the Weir Wood reservoir area near Crowborough on July 4 and 5 but I have not seen any other reports from southern England until July 26 when one flew over Edburton village (north foot of the Downs in the Brighton area)

Merlin: An unseasonable bird was reported in the Weymouth area at Radipole on July 1 and now we have a second July sighting of one briefly mobbing a Red Kite in the Horsham area on July 26

Great Bustard: First of this summer's reports of a Bustard absconding from its open prison on Salisbury Plain comes from the Dorset/Somerset border at Chard Junction (north of Lyme Bay). This bird was displaying its prisoner number (28) on wing tags and has been around the Chard site from July 26 to 30 at least (photo of it with the Dorset Bird Club sightings for Aug 1 - see http://www.dorsetbirdclub.org.uk/Sightings.htm )

Avocet: Two had been seen at Farlington Marshes on July 8 and there is a new report of one there on July 26 when there were 9 at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour after the first 3 arrived there on July 10

Stone Curlew: A third autumn passage bird (after one at Rye Harbour on July 16 and another at Sandwich Bay on July 19) was in the Kent Stour valley on July 28 (a couple of pictures of it in flight can be seen with the diary entry for July 28 at http://www.kentos.org.uk/Stodmarsh/Julysightings09.htm )

Ringed Plover: The Black Point high tide roost on Hayling Island had 41 on Aug 1 along with one Curlew Sandpiper.

Golden Plover: The largest flock seen so far this autumn was of around 90 birds at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on July 30

Little Stint: The first to be reported since June 13 was at Rye Harbour on July 27. Others arrived on Aug 1 when 2 were at the Midrips pits between Rye and Dungeness and 2 more were at Pennington (Lymington)

Curlew Sandpiper: Five seen at the Oare Marshes in Kent on July 30 were the forerunners of a wave of arrivals on Aug 1 that brought 42 to the Lymington Marshes, 9 to Farlington Marshes (with what I think was another group of 3 at Great Salterns Quay on the Portsmouth shore of Langstone Harbour). Also on Aug 1 one turned up at Black Point on Hayling, 3 were at Brading Marshes on the IoW and 3 were at the Midrips pits between Rye and Dungeness.

Dunlin: The first count of more than 100 since May 26 (at Pagham Harbour) was of 120+ in the high tide roost at Farlington Marshes on July 26 and by July 31 there were 136 at Christchurch Harbour. This is perhaps the most prominent indication of the return of wader species to our shores - Redshank are now back in large numbers as are Oystercatchers but typical of the species arriving in lesser numbers is Owen Mitchell's report of a brief visit to the Climping shore near Worthing on July 29 when he saw .. "26 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpipers, 20+ Turnstone, 10 Oystercatchers, 8 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling." Whimbrel, Curlew, Snipe, Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits, Grey and Golden Plover, Knot, Greenshank, and Green Sandpipers are all regularly reported with the occasional Curlew- and Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and quite a few Little Ringed Plovers plus the Little Stint and Stone Curlew noted above.

Marsh Sandpiper: One was found in the Scillies (St Mary's) on July 29 and stayed to July 30 at least

Great Skua: These are in short supply at the moment and one flying west past Sandy Point (Hayling) on July 30 was only the fourth seen in Hampshire during July.

Common Gull: With the exception of a month from April 22 to May 17 when none were mentioned in reports there have been occasional reports of single birds from several sites during the summer but I seems that returning birds have now started to arrive on our shores. On July 26 four adults were seen in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester and on July 28 more than 50 were seen by John Clark at the Badminston Pits site in the New Forest near the mouth of Southampton Water.

Little Tern: Hopefully these have had better breeding success elsewhere than they have had in southern England this year and one faint glimmer of success was reported from Reculver (Thanet in Kent) on Aug 6 when a group of six passing terns were seen to be two adults with four fledged young (presumably their own) - maybe these came from a nest in East Anglia. Also on Aug 1 in the evening a total of 134 came into Langstone Harbour to roost for the night - no way of knowing where they came from.

Black Tern: We may soon be seeing a substantial number of returning birds along our coast - single birds have been seen at Dungeness through the summer and we had the unusual inland sighting of one near Poole Harbour on July 19 but a report of 166 heading south along the Dutch coast on July 28 would seem to mark the start of autumn passage. On Aug 1Dungeness reported 10, another 3 were in the Titchfield Haven area and at least one came into Langstone Harbour to spend the night there.

Swift: 'Once upon a time' Swifts would arrive at their nest sites on May 1 and stay until July 31 but that rule has long been broken. This year it would seem that the wet and windy July weather has made it difficult for those birds that have tried to breed to get food to their young (the young are said to be able to last several days without food during stormy weather but I doubt they can survive week long absences by their parents) and non-breeding Swifts, along with all the other passerines coming here as summer visitors, must have got the message that summer is over and their departure is overdue. Despite keeping an eye on the sky each evening in the couple of hours before dusk when Swifts are normally over their nest sites I have seen none over Havant since July 16. In Emsworth Brian Fellows saw a few on July 26 but by July 29 the Durlston web site summed up the impression that I have got (from reports from all along the south coast) when they reported that 'there are still a few around but most have gone'. There will of course be some parent birds that succeed in raising young and there will be stragglers passing over us through August plus the occasional mass of migrants such as the estimate of 1000 birds over Thanet in Kent on July 27.

A Swift oddity: It seems that a wave of Swifts passed through southern England on July 31 and Aug 1 bringing news of around 600 over Christchurch Harbour on July 31 when more than 200 were seen at dusk drifting south over Crawley. On Aug 1 Dungeness reported some 300 going over and a flock of 80 were feeding in the Worthing area with another 86 at Christchurch Harbour. At dusk on Aug 1 my phone rang and Frank Foulger, who lives at the top of a tower block near the end of the M271 in Portsmouth, told me that four Swifts were silently circling the block, passing close to his windows, and had been doing so for several minutes - they had not stopped when he rang off. The oddity lay in why the birds were doing this when they were apparently on passage (not local breeders) - I have put my own thoughts in my Diary entry for Aug 1

Kingfisher: Last week I reported my surprise at seeing two Kingfishers flying up the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton in Havant on July 25 and this week I see that one turned up at Dungeness on that day suggesting that my birds could well have been earlier than usual returnees to the coast from inland breeding.

Sand Martin: On July 25 Dungeness reported 170 passing over, increasing to 400 on July 26 and 1000 on July 28, then 2500 on July 31 Locally a dozen flew over Sandy Point on Hayling in Aug 1

Yellow Wagtail: There had been several reports of small parties (max 7 birds) passing through Dungeness from July 13 onwards but on July 31 the count increased to 14 with another 10 on Aug 1

Dunnock: No song in my garden since July 26

Robin: First report of autumn song at Emsworth on July 31 (with a hint of song in my garden that day)

Whinchat: What may have been a juvenile seen on the north Kent coast at Seasalter on July 25 seems to give us another tick on the list of summer migrants now heading south to leave our windy and wet island. Since then there have been singles at Durlston on July 30 and Dungeness on July 31

Stonechat: First of the autumn for Hayling Island was at Sandy Point on Aug 1

Blackbird: One bird in Steve Copsey's garden near Fareham was recently seen to grab a Common Newt from the garden pond and was about to attempt to eat it when it was frightened off and the Newt was put back in the pond. I suspect this was an accidental event - the Blackbird probably went for a drink or a bathe and saw a large fat alternative to worm breakfast in the water.

Fan-tailed Warbler (now known as Zitting Cisticola): One was heard moving west along the north Kent coast at Seasalter on July 26

Grasshopper Warbler: These joined the list of departing species when one appeared at Dungeness on July 23 and since then there have been ten more coastal sightings including one on the Isle of Wight on July 26

Common Whitethroat: 30 had been seen at Beachy Head on July 25 but on July 31 there were 60 there.

Garden Warbler: Among 8 reports of passage birds this week there is one of two birds at Newlands Farm between Fareham and Stubbington on Aug 1. With them were 4 Blackcaps

Willow Warbler: On July 31 the number at Beachy Head reached 50 with 50+ at Dungeness that day

Wood Warbler: One in Belle Tout Wood on Beachy Head on July 28 was another first of its species to head south.

Firecrest: Of local interest July 30 brought a report of 2 birds (adult + juv) near Fishbourne Church (Chichester). A single bird had been seen there on July 23 and I myself had heard one singing nearby on June 12

Golden Oriole: Across the Channel one Dutch site reported 2 passing through on July 31 and a different site recorded 9 on Aug 1

Starling: Another sign of autumn comes in the first report of a large Starling roost - on July 26 an estimated 3000 birds went into the reeds at the Dungeness RSPB reserve.

House Sparrow: A bold Sparrow was seen to take a newly emerged Southern Hawker dragonfly from reeds above the garden pond in Steve Copsey's garden in the Fareham area on July 25. Here in Havant the recent flurry of House Sparrow activity when growing youngsters were being fed and learning to fly now seems to be over and I suspect we have reached what I call the 'Corn Sparrow' season when flocks of these birds, no longer tied to nest sites, gather in grain harvest fields

Serin: One is reported to have been in the Keyhaven area near Lymington on July 31

Greenfinch: An interesting observation by Colin Allen at Hythe on Southampton Water shows that at least one Greenfinch (and probably many of them as well as House Sparrows and Goldfinches) come to the waters edge to eat salty seaweed as part of their diet.

Goldfinch: A flock of more than 50 was on Thistles at Farlington Marshes on July 30

Siskin: Brian Fellows could hear but not see a flock of these back in the Stansted Forest Larches on July 29 and on July 31 an estimated 40 birds were in trees at Leechpool Woods near Horsham

Twite: A report of one at Luccombe Down on the IoW on July 28 may well be thought of as the first bird to complete its autumn passage (if it stays with us!)

Crossbill: Six more sightings this week of small flocks at south coast sites where they do not breed, including 20+ seen at Luccombe Down on the IoW and a similar number on the Leechpool Woods at Horsham

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Ten species get a mention in this week's reports, including ...

Brown Hawker: First of the year at Seaford in East Sussex on July 29

Migrant Hawker: First report of 'many' of these seen on July 29 at Reculver near the North Foreland in Kent probably indicates the first arrival of migrants to supplement our local bred insects.

Ruddy Darter: First of the year reported on July 21 at Seasalter on the north Kent coast with another report from Thanet on July 29

Butterflies

36 species reported this week, including ..

Dingy Skipper: Two Sussex sites reported sightings of the second brood of this species on July 29

Clouded Yellow: 14 reports of small numbers at twelve southern sites this week - these include a couple seen at Gilkicker in the Gosport area on July 25 and one at the Hayling Oysterbeds 'recently'

Purple Hairstreak: Some have been seen recently around the oaks on the east side of the Hayling Coastal Path just north of the Oysterbeds

Wall Brown: These are doing well in Sussex with counts of 35+ on July 25 at the Ouse Eastuary Project site beside the A259 east of Newhaven, 25 in the Seaford area on July 29 and 23 in the Steyning area north of Worthing on July 31. In Hampshire the only report was of 2 in the Keyhaven area and the Isle of Wight had reports from three sites but none could muster more than 3 butterflies

Grayling: Although this species has many worshippers and special festivals in Sussex I see that (so far this year) Hampshire has had more reports (11) than Sussex (3) and higher counts (peaks of 23+ on Beaulieu Heath on July 21 and 35 at Browndown near Gosport on July 25) than Sussex (the highest Sussex count I have seen so far is just two at Windover Hill north of Eastbourne on July 9)

Moths

Cochylimorpha alternana (0935): First in Thanet on July 28 - this species is more or less restricted to Kent

Bactra furfurana (1110): First report from Portland on July 31

Platytes alpinella (1325): First report from Thanet in Kent on July 25

Evergestis extimalis (1357): First report from Thanet in Kent on July 25

Pempelia obductella (1444): First report from Thanet on July 26 - another species restricted to Kent.

Phycita roborella (1452): First on Portland on July 31

Agdistis bennetii (1488): First in Thanet on July 27

The Gem (1720 Orhtonama obstipata): First report from Thanet in Kent on July 23

Barred Rivulet (1804 Perizoma bifaciata): First in Thanet on July 28

Plain Pug (1842 Eupithecia simpliciata): First in Thanet on July 27

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): We now have 33 sightings for the year to date

Black Arches (2033 Lymantria monarcha): First report from Thanet in Kent on July 25

Hoary Footman (2045 Eilema caniol): First report from Thanet in Kent on July 23

Jersey Tiger (2067 Euplagia quadripunctaria): First report from Brading Marsh on the IoW on July 27

Garden Dart (2082 Euxoa nigricans): First in Thanet on July 28

Dotted Rustic (2105 Rhyacia simulans): A good find in the Thanet area on July 23 - a new addition to my database

Tawny Shears (2167 Hadena perplexa): First report from Durlston on July 28

Southern Wainscot (2197 Mythimna straminea): First at Pagham Harbour on July 28

Star-wort (2217 Cucullia asteris): First report from Thanet on July 25

Tree-lichen Beauty (2292 Cryphia algae): First report from Thanet on July 23

Copper Underwing (2297 Amphipyra pyramidea): First report from Dungeness on July 26

Svensson's Copper Underwing (2298 Amphipyra berbera): First at Pagham Harbour on July 28

Cloaked Minor (2341 Mesoligia furuncula): First at Pagham Harbour on July 28

Rosy Rustic (2361 Hydraecia micacea): First in Thanet on July 28

Bulrush Wainscot (2369 Nonagria typhae): First at Pagham Harbour on July 28

Twin-spotted Wainscot (2370 Archanara geminipuncta): First at Pagham Harbour on July 28

Brown-veined Wainscot (2371 Archanara dissoluta): First at Pagham Harbour on July 28

Webb's Wainscot (2373 Archanara sparganii): First report from Portland on July 24

Ni Moth (2432 Trichoplusia ni): First report from Thanet on July 23

Other Insects

Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria): The first of these large Hornet like hoverflies that I am aware of was peacefully nectaring on Buddleia in my Havant garden on Aug 2

Glow-worm: 19 were seen at Durlston during a guided walk on the evening of July 31

Great Green Bush Cricket: Jason Crook reports that several of these have been 'singing' at the Hayling Oysterbeds on recent evenings

Dark Bush Cricket: First report for the year is of one at Durlston on July 30

Wasp Spider (Argioppe bruennichi): First report of these as adults comes from Rye Harbour on July 26 when a male was found in a moth trap and its photograph is shown alongside that of a female (of which several had already been seen there). The entry by Chris Bentley accompanying these photos read .. " Wasp Spiders are increasingly in evidence at the moment, and this morning I actually turned up a male in the moth trap! Males are much smaller than females in this species, though this is because of gigantism in the female rather than the small size of the male. A piece of behaviour I have seen for the first time this year involves adult males hanging aroung on the webs of immature females, waiting for them to moult into adults. Male Wasp Spiders are often eaten during courtship, and mating with a recently moulted female reduces the risk, as while the cuticle is soft, the jaws don’t work very well!" You can see the pictures at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2009/07/26/death-and-sex/#more-10610 (I have only once managed to take a similar picture of a male with a female but I was lucky enough to come on a mature female that was bigger and more colourful than this one, and alongside her the male looked even smaller with a more 'stick like' abdomen). Nearer home several of these could be seen around the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) on July 30

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Flax: Birdseed falling on my garden lawn has this week brought a crop of small Flax plants into flower. They are closer to the commercially sown species than to any of our wild species but I suspect they have a different name

Hairy Vetchling (Lathryus hirsutus): The plants at Broadmarsh (the only place you can see this plant in Hampshire) had started to flower on June 9 but I returned there on July 28 and found plants showing both fresh flowers and seed pods - see my Diary entry from July 28 for photos and more about the site.

Cherry Plum: The mass of blossom seen everywhere in the Havant area from Feb 6 onwards has led to a heavy crop of plums which started to become ripe on July 6. Recent winds have sadly shaken the great mass of the crop to the ground.

Fennel: A large plant was in full flower at Broadmarsh in Havant on July 28 - the first I know of.

Lesser Centaury: This should have started to flower in June but the first report I have seen comes from Durlston on July 30

Carline Thistle: First report of this is also from Durlston on July 31

OTHER WILDLIFE

Polecat: A 'backview only' sighting on July 28 at the Pennington marshes near Lymington of an animal 'bigger than a Stoat and smaller than an Otter' was initially feared to have been a Mink but the report elicited the news from regular observers there that there have been several recent sightings of what is either a Polecat or a Polecat x Ferret hybrid

Mole: One was found dead (with no obvious cause) at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on July 29. In this case the death could have been from natural causes (old age) as there was no comment on the desiccation of the body that occurs when the animal has been killed by drought (and I would think that the soil at Brook Meadow never dries up as it can do elsewhere in a heatwave)

Hedgehog: Brian Fellows has received a couple of new reports of Hedgehogs seen recently in the Emsworth area - he writes on July 27 .. "Dave Lee who lives at the top end of Westbourne Avenue in Emsworth reports seeing a "not too full sized" hedgehog crossing the avenue at 23:00 on 27 July. Five minutes later, while walking the dogs, Dave spotted another in a hedge close to his house. He says they used to be quite common in the area 20-25 years ago but then seemed to disappear. However, this year he is seeing them almost every night on the last dog walk. Dave found a dead one this morning, fully grown; no external signs of damage so not a road kill. Eileen Kendall tells a similar story to Dave. When they first moved to Emsworth 32 years ago they used to get hedgehogs in the garden a lot. Then for years they did not see any, or their droppings. But this year they have had two hedgehogs in the garden, which they are delighted about. Eileen adds they have got a hedgehog house to entice them to stay over winter! They are also putting food out for them, although there are also a lot of slugs and snails in the garden."

Natterer's Bat: What was probably one of these (by its size and pale underparts) was seen by day on July 26 flying in the Hope Gap area near Beachy Head - I wonder if this could have been a migrant out later than usual as a result of just completing a cross Channel flight?

Fungi: On Aug 1 the daily report from Durlston Country Park mentions the first crop of Yellow Stainer mushrooms (which look like large white-capped and pink gilled Horse Mushrooms but which can give some people severe stomach upsets if they eat them - others eat them without any adverse consequences). To avoid problems check for yellow staining on the cap and stem after bruising of those areas and do not eat them if you detect yellow! Fresh Dryad's Saddle brackets were also seen.


Summary for July 20 - 26 (Week 29 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Little Egret numbers along the south coast are now increasing rapidly as birds return from breeding elsewhere. A family of Shoveler ducklings seen at Farlington Marshes were an interesting breeding record but my mid-week report of 32 Marsh Harriers near Rye has had to be corrected!. Several wader species are in the news as they return to the south coast or are seen there on autumn passage - a Stone Curlew was a good passage bird but more signicant are reported flocks of Golden Plover (plus a single Grey Plover) and Dunlin while two Arctic Skuas were seen in the Test valley taking the overland route south. Med Gulls have once again had a good breeding season in Langstone Harbour and I discover that Roseate Terns probably breed in the south more regularly than I previously thought. We also have an unexpected July report of Glaucous Gull in Hampshire. In my garden Dunnocks are still singing regularly as Willow Warblers start their mass move south among a long list of other departing summer birds. Flocks of Crossbill in the New Forest and at Stansted (plus another flock in St Leonard's Forest) may indicate a large arrival from Scandinavia. 'And finally' we have news of an escaped Canary returning to its aviary a week after it escaped.

The summer brood of several butterfly species is now emerging with both Wall Brown and Adonis Blue appearing in small numbers and Chalkhill Blues in their thousands. A very interesting but unconfirmed report of a Large Tortoiseshell seen in the Horndean area north of Rowlands Castle has led me to discover more about the species. Eighteen new moth species (including the rare migrant Orache Moth) have been reported this week and there is a fourth report of the uncommon Lesser Stag Beetle.

Newly flowering plants include Burnet Saxifrage, Dark Mullein and Golden Rod (the native plant, not to be confused with the Canadian Goldenrod grown in gardens). Several colourful species such as Purple Loosestrife and Indian Balsam were seen by me in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton when finding the national rarity Buttonweed still survives in that stream. The week's news has also introduced me to Rock Sea-lavender.

Three fungi in the news include the fascinating Bird's Nest species whose fascinating scientific approach to energy saving I have attempted to describe in detail (these were seen in Kent but might re-appear at the Hayling Oysterbeds where they were found not many years ago). Also an addition to my garden list with the finding of a dead Pygmy Shrew.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Shearwaters: In addition to the Manx and Balearic Shearwaters that are currently seen along the full length of the English Channel this week brought sightings of three Sooty Shearwaters off Cornwall on July 21 and one Great Shearwater on July 20 (seen from a boat off the Scillies) - this was only the second report of the species for the year after one in February. No English reports of Cory's Shearwater this week but on July 21 one site in southern Spain reported 79 of them. Local news was of one Balearic seen from Sandy Point on Hayling on July 19

Wilson's Storm Petrel: One seen on July 20 from a boat off the Scillies (with some 40 Storm Petrels) was the second sighting of this species for the year (one seen in the same area on July 7)

Cattle Egret: Probable proof of repeated breeding in England this year came in the form of a juvenile seen in south Devon on July 22 (there was also a sighting of one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 21).

Little Egret: Post breeding dispersal has brought the expected increase in numbers at a couple of south coast sites. 42 were seen at Cuckmere Haven on July 20 and on July 21 the count of birds leaving the Rye Harbour roost was up to 64 (the count there had been down to 6 in April with 12 in May and 15 in June)

Great White Egret: In 2007 the 'regular' bird returned to the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on Sep 7 and in 2008 it arrived there on Aug 16. Maybe it is even earlier this year as one flew north over the site on July 21 but did not stay. It was not possible to confirm its identity as it was too far away to see if it had the red leg rings of the 'regular' bird.

Brent Goose: Two of the birds summering in Langstone Harbour (thought to be at least 9) were seen in the Deeps area of Farlington Marshes on July 23

Gadwall: A brood of seven ducklings were seen with their mother on the Drayton Lake at Chichester on July 20

Teal: Many of these have stayed with us through the summer but lots more will soon arrive from further afield - Christchurch Harbour reported their 'first of the autumn' on July 25

Shoveler: Very few of these remain in Hampshire or Sussex during the breeding season and even fewer of these are know to breed but on July 19 a female was seen with 4 ducklings (5 with her earlier) at Farlington Marshes and in 2006 a county record was set when 5 broods were recorded at Titchfield Haven. The situation is similar in Sussex where, in 2007, two pairs bred in the Pett area near Hastings - one of them managed to fledge 6 young but the other, which was first seen with seven downy young was later seen with just one and that was not known to have fledged. Last year I saw no reports of breeding but it seems that quite a few returned to the south coast in July including a flock of 15 seen off Sandy Point (Hayling) on July 24

Goosander: A surprising report of a juvenile seen at Hook/Warsash on July 24 - a few pairs of this species do breed in the Avon valley and in Dorset but I wonder if there was confusion between the now very drab plumage of the female Merganser which was last seen in this area on July 12? (That bird seems to have been one of a pair seen between Titchfield Haven and Southampton Water on four occasions between June 5 and 23)

Honey Buzzard: One was seen to drift in a south westerly direction over Mt Caburn near Lewes on July 23. I see that last year the first hint of autumn passage that I pick up was of one over the Thanet area of Kent on July 18 but passage did not really get under way until mid-August, peaking in September.

Marsh Harrier: I have to apologize for mis-reporting an entry by Brian Banks on the Rye Bay website earlier this week. He wrote .. "These raptors seem to be doing well in the RX area at the moment, with a new record of 32 birds going in to roost at the various Romney Marsh/Rye Bay reedbeds on one night last winter. Does this total comprise just our local birds, or ones from further afield? I have have just heard that some Marsh Harriers on the Isle of Sheppey are being marked with white wing tags, each one with a unique number. Should such a bird be seen on the Marsh, even if the number cannot be read, the record should be sent to harriers@swalewaders.co.uk" Brian clearly said this total of 32 birds was achieved last winter whereas I reported it as a current count and also did not mention the reason for making the entry which was to make people aware of the wing-tagging project and how to report sightings of tagged birds. (Secretly I was pleased to have made this mistake and through it to discover that I have at least one regular reader of my jottings!)

Stone Curlew: The first report of one migrant already departing came from Rye Harbour on July 16 and now another has been seen at Sandwich Bay on July 19

Ringed Plover: 15 were in the high tide wader roost at Black Point on Hayling on July 19 along with 18 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 25 Little Tern, 20 Sandwich and 17 Common Terns

Golden Plover: A substantial flock of 30 was seen in the Test Valley just above Romsey on July 19 and there was another report of 17 at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on July 22. Latest news is of two at Christchurch Harbour on July 25 plus late news of a much more unusual sighting - the SOS website this week has a photo, taken on June 17, of a Golden Plover in partial summer plumage perched on the tiled roof of a house in Henfield (Adur valley) - both the date and the location are exceptional.

American Golden Plover: The first to be reported this year was at Breydon Water (Norfolk Broads) on July 22

Grey Plover: No doubt quite a few non-breeding birds of this species are still lurking in our harbours (there are usually around 40 summering in Langstone Harbour and that number were seen there at the Hayling Oysterbeds on June 7) but a sighting of one flying west past Selsey Bill on July 23 suggests that the breeding birds are now returning in their smart silver and black.

Knot: A single bird was seen at Farlington Marshes on July 22. I am not aware of any breeding birds yet back on the south coast but I was surprised to read of a flock of around 140 seen at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on July 15

Sanderling: A few of these are starting to return - on July 19 there were 3 at Christchurch Harbour and 10 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth)

Curlew Sandpiper: Two summer plumaged birds were back at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on July 14 with three there on July 17. On July 19 at least one was at the Dungeness RSPB reserve and on July 23 one was at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

Dunlin: 42 were back at Farlington Marshes on July 23 and 25 were seen at Christchurch Harbour on July 25 as birds start to return from the north.

Snipe: The first autumn returnee was at Christchurch Harbour on July 23

Black-tailed Godwit: On July 21 Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough had its second 'drop in' party of 3 birds making a brief stopover there on their way back to the south coast and on July 22 the count at Pulborough Brooks was up to 11. On July 23 there were 185 at Farlington Marshes and next day brought a count of 170+ from the Hook/Warsash area but I suspect most of these were summering birds

Bar-tailed Godwit: First indication of autumn passage is a report of 25 heading out to sea from the coast just west of Selsey Bill on July 23

Greenshank: The number seen at Farlington Marshes was up to 24 on July 18 and there have been several slightly lower counts on more recent days as the birds pass through

Lesser Yellow-legs: The vagrant season is now on us and singles of this species were seen on July 21 in Scotland (Fife) and on July 22 near York. These reports caught my eye as they brought back memories of the Greater Yellowlegs seen at Farlington Marshes in 2007 but I see that was found by Jason Crook on Sep 26

Wood Sandpiper: One reported at the lakes east of Chichester on July 21 was the first since one on July 9 in Thanet

Arctic Skua: A report of two flying south over Romsey on July 21 was of interest in supporting Dave Savage's report of a probable Arctic Skua seen in the Meon valley at the beginning of July. The current sighting adds support to the idea that quite a few Arctic Skuas travel overland on both spring and autumn passage

Med Gull: The first juveniles were seen at Selsey Bill on July 21 and at Dungeness on July 22. Also on July 22 the Langstone Harbour RSPB warden (Chris Cockburn) issued a preliminary report of the breeding success achieved this year at his reserve - he says that Med Gulls are by far the most successful in raising young there with a productivity of around 70% (I assume this to mean that 70 juveniles fledged for every 100 adults) whereas the productivity of other species nesting in the reserve was 40% for Black-headed Gulls, 15% for Sandwich Terns, 10% for Common Terns but 5% or less for the Little Terns

Glaucous Gull: A probable sighting of one in the Hurst area at the west end of the Solent on July 22 sounds unlikely at this time of year until we take into account the fact that one has been reported at least five time off various places in Cornwall between Apr 17 and July 1 (and interestingly what may have been the same bird in the Lymington area on Apr 10)

Roseate Tern: A pair which had been nesting at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour had hatched a chick by July 21 and this news led me to check on the possibility of these birds breeding in Hampshire. Surprisingly (to me at any rate) Birds of Hants records at least 14 occasions between 1959 and 1992 on which eggs have been laid at Hampshire sites but only four occasions on which young have been seen - it seems that a major cause of breeding failure has been egg collecting, one result of which is that if there have been more recent breeding attempts in the county the Hampshire Bird Reports have not gone beyond stating the number of birds present during the summer months.

Black Tern: An unusual inland sighting was reported in Dorset on July 19 when one bird was seen over heathland near Bovington Camp to the west of Poole Harbour.

Cuckoo: The adults will now be leaving us - one was in the Beachy Head area on July 23

Nightjar: One was still churring near Pulborough Brooks on July 23

Swift: I have seen none over Havant this week despite keeping an eye on the sky around my house in the evenings when conditions were favourable - my only sighting was of one flying south over Portsdown on July 23

Kingfisher: I was greatly surprised on July 25, when wading down the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton on a wild flower hunt, to have two Kingfishers fly low, fast and silently upstream, passing within a couple of feet of my legs when I was probably unseen by them until the last moment as most of my body was among the branches of an overhanging tree. Kingfishers used to nest in a cliff bank a little upstream of where I saw these two and I have come across them on previous visits here at this time of year but on those occasions the birds would come singly and would normally give audible warning of their approach with shrill calls that could be heard by the rest of their family in the nest tunnel.

Blue-cheeked Bee Eater: One was seen briefly in the South Foreland area of Kent (at Bockhill) on July 22. This is the third report for this year following one at the mouth of the Beaulieu River in Hampshire on June 21 and another at Braunton Burrows (Bideford Bay on the north Devon coast) on June 30.

Dunnock: With Robins having ceased to sing about a month ago it seems a little surprising to hear Dunnock song daily, seemingly more frequently than Wren song, but I see that last year Dunnocks did not fall silent until the very end of July

Yellow Wagtail: Departing birds were reported at Dungeness on two days this week - 7 on July 21 and 4 on July 22

Black Redstart: 5 at Dungeness on July 21 were presumably autumn passage birds

Wheatear: Portland reported the first autumn bird there on July 23 and on July 25 Andy Johnson had the first at Sandy Point on Hayling

Grasshopper Warbler: The first autumn passage birds were at Dungeness and Beachy Head on July 23 with another on July 25 at Durlston

Sedge Warbler: Autumn passage birds have been seen at Sandwish Bay, Beachy Head and Pulborough Brooks this week with 25 at Christchurch Harbour on July 23

Whitethroats: Lesser Whitethroats reported this week from Beachy Head and Christchurch Harbour with what may have been a locally bred family in the Fishbourne area near Chichester. 30 Common Whitethroats were at Beachy Head on July 25

Garden Warbler: One at Sandwich Bay on July 20 with a couple of Blackcaps

Willow Warbler: Reports of these at coastal sites where they have not been breeding have started to increase as autumn passage gets under way. On July 20 one was among the birds ringed at Christchurch Harbour and on July 21 more than 12 were reported at that site Also on July 21 sea watchers at Selsey Bill reported one there. On July 25 there were 25 of them at Beachy Head.

Firecrest: One was heard near Fishbourne Church (Chichester) on July 23 - this is within a few hundred yards of where I heard one singing on June 12

House Sparrow: There has been a noticeable increase of these coming to feed in my Havant garden this week after the young have left their nests

Crossbill: On July 20 a flock of more than 20 birds was seen in the west of Stansted Forest (and said to have been there since July 18) and on July 21 a flock of more than 100 was seen in Hawkhill Inclosure (New Forest). On July 23 a total of more than 250 were seen in St Leonard's Forest near Colgate in the Horsham area (these included a single flock of around 150).

Escapees: Two items caught my eye in the latest news on the SOS website. The first said .. "After being missing for a week and presumed killed by a larger bird or cat, or just dead from lack of food, my escaped canary amazingly reappeared in the garden and tried to get back into the aviary. Instead of chasing him with a net, I put out a small cage with food inside and the door open and within half an hour, he was inside. A happy ending for me and an adventure for him." The second story is about a mystery bird heard making loud calls around the Fairlight area on the shore of Rye bay for the past two weeks - on July 22 it was at last seen in the Hastings Country Park and identified as an Orange Winged Parrot. These are relatively common in captivity and even have a feral colony in the London area. They are fairly small and short tailed and despite the name appear to be all green (except for a yellowish patch on the face and throat) until they fly and the orange feathers in the wing become visible.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: The first mention of this species was of one in Surrey on July 4 and now we have a second report of one near Chandlers Ford in the Eastleigh area

Brilliant Emerald: On seen in the Colgate area near Horsham on July 23 was only the second report I have seen this year (First was at the Warnham reserve in Horsham on Jule 14)

Common Darter: Six were seen in the Gosport area on July 18. I have not seen one yet but I see that last year I did not do so until there was a general emergence in mid August

Butterflies

39 species mentioned in the current week's reports - summer is here

Silver Spotted Skipper: The first report came from the Eastbourne area on July 16, the second from Malling Down near Lewes on July 18 and now we have a third from Sussex on July 22 (again in the Eastbourne area)

Wood White: Three or four were seen within Susses (just) at Plaistow on July 23 with another 20 or more seen over the boder in Surrey at Botany Bay that day

Clouded Yellow: It seems that a small coastal colony exists at Newhaven where one was seen around July 10, increasing to 3 on July 13 and 7 on July 20. On July 24 local breeding was confirmed by the sighting of one butterfly with its wings still 'wet' after emerging from its pupa but it seems that this is still considered to be the work of earlier arrivals this year which laid their eggs here, unlike the resident colony on the Southbourne undercliff at Bournemouth. These butterflies at Newhaven have so far shown no desire to go on any migratory journey, unlike the odd singles seen moving through Rye Harbour on July 18, at Barton on Sea on July 19, and Dungeness on July 20. On July 25 both Rye Harbour and Beachy Head reported counts of three butterflies (new migrant arrivals)

Brown Hairstreak: The first had been seen in the Horsham area on July 14 and now we have a second sighting in a different part of that area on July 20

Small Blue: First report of the summer brood emerging came from Portsdown on July 10 with nothing more until July 21 when one appeared unexpectedly on the Brighton University campus on the downs at Falmer, followed by one in the Friston area near Eastbourne on July 24 and another at Durlston on July 25

Chalkhill Blue: By July 22 these were out 'in thousands' at Butchershole Bottom - a Sussex butterfly reserve on downland north of Friston and east of Friston Forest. On July 24 one observer reckoned that 10,000 were flying there.

Adonis Blue: The first to be seen since June 20 (and thus probably the first of the summer brood) was seen on July 22 at Butchershole Bottom (see above)

Painted Lady: Still plenty of these around - on July 20 more than 500 were on thistles around the eastern lakes at Chichester and on July 21 an estimated 700 were seen at Dungeness. By July 25 the estimate at Rye Harbour was 800+

Large Tortoiseshell: Someone reported sightings on July 18 of three Small and one Large Tortoiseshell in the area near Pyle Farm south east of Horndean and north of The Holt woodland at Rowlands castle. So far there have been no summer reports of Large Tortoiseshell on either the Hampshire or Sussex Butterfly websites but I see that last year the only summer sightings were five reports in the fortnight from July 14 to July 28 at widely separated sites along the coast from Eastbourne to Durlston in Dorset. If this current report was correctly identified it is likely to have been a cross Channel migrant - these occur annually in small numbers but strangely most are seen in February rather than July. Butterfly Conservation shows the species as extinct as a British breeding species, though gobal warming may cause it to re-appear.

http://www.guypadfield.com/largetortoiseshell.html has some magnificent photos of the species and below these part of the text reads .. "The large tortoiseshell is widespread in Europe and although not normally common is sufficiently conspicuous to be a fairly regular find. Until recently I never looked for them but just came across them, usually at a rate of several per year. Since 2005 I have found them much more commonly, in the spring particularly and now make a point of an early large tortoiseshell hunt. The butterfly suddenly seems to have proliferated, for no obvious reason. My friends in other parts of Europe have noted the same phenomenon. In Britain, by contrast, the large tortoiseshell is now an extreme rarity - often considered extinct. But it is an elusive insect, not tied to just one wood or group of woods, and has the ability to persist at low levels. The two pictures above were taken in Suffolk, near Woodbridge, in 1985, over 20 years after the last accepted previous record. The butterfly is fresh and does not appear to have immigrated. No breeders admitted releasing large tortoiseshells and it seems most probable it was indeed a native-born, wild butterfly. Records of large tortoiseshells are , in reality, often of over-enthusiastically identified small tortoiseshells. If you get a good look, however, there should be no danger of confusion. The large tortoiseshell has 4 dark spots in the open orange of the forewing, beneath the cell. The Small Tortoiseshell has only 3." For those like myself who are slightly puzzled by this id tip you must ignore the large black marks along the leading edge of the forewing (and the single mark on the rear wing), and this leaves you with four black spots (of varying sizes) on each forewing on the Large Tortoiseshell.

Peacock: Rye Harbour reported a count of 67 on July 25 (when a fresh specimen appeared on my Havant garden Buddleia)

Wall Brown: First of the summer brood seen near Brighton on July 18 with sightings at two other Sussex sites on July 22, then at Durlston on July 25

Moths

Ethmia dodecea (0718 Ethmia dodecea): First on July 19 in Bentley Wood west of Stockbridge

Anacampsis blattariella (0854): First at a New Forest moth trap (Holmsley) on July 19

Sparganothis pilleriana (1012): First at a New Forest moth trap (Holmsley) on July 19

Agriphila straminella (1304): First on Bransbury Common near Andover on July 19

Lesser Wax Moth (1426 Achroia grisella): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Small Fan-footed Wave (1702 Idaea biselata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Cypress Pug (1855 Eupithecia phoeniceata): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): A fresh specimen in a greenhouse near Lewes on July 22 - maybe the offspring of an earlier migrant?

Small Chocolate-tip (2017 Clostera pigra): A rarity found at Holmsley (New Forest) on July 19

Scarce Chocolate-tip (2018 Clostera anachoreta): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Four-spotted Footman (2051 Lithosia quadra): First in a Friston (Eastbourne) trap on July 23

Turnip Moth (2087 Agrotis segetum): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Least Yellow Underwing (2112 Noctua interjecta): First in a Friston (Eastbourne) trap on July 23

Antler Moth (2176 Cerapteryx graminis): Seen by day on Ragwort at Bransbury Common near Andover on July 19

Brown-line Bright-eye (2192 Mythimna conigera): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Old Lady (2300 Mormo maura): First at Dungeness on July 18

Orache Moth (2304 Trachea atriplicis): The first of this rare migrant in a trap at Friston near Eastbourne on July 23

Common Rustic (2343 Mesapamea secalis): First in the Thanet area of Kent on July 20

Saltern Ear (2358 Amphipoea fucosa): First at Dungeness on July 21

Other Insects

Scaeva pyrastri: First report of this migrant hoverfly from Rye Harbour on July 25

Lesser Stag Beetle: Fourth report for the year of this uncommon beetle comes from Portsdown on July 10

Glow-worm: Several still to be seen at Durlston on July 24

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common rockrose: First news of flowering from Durlston on July 25

Indian Balsam: Lots of this flowering in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton (Havant) on July 25

Purple Loosestrife: First seen by me in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton (Havant) on July 25

Burnet Saxifrage: The first I know of were flowering in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on July 20

Rock Samphire: First report of flowering from Durlston on July 25

Rock Sea-lavender (Limonium binervosum agg): A report of this flowering at Durlston on July 25 extended my knowledge of Sea Lavender species. I see that Rock Sea-lavender comes in six difficult to separate subspecies...

Dark Mullein: First flowering plants seen in Stansted Forest on July 20

Water Mint: My first sight of this in flower in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton (Havant) on July 25

Wild Basil: My first sight of this in flower came in Stansted Forest on July 20

Goldenrod: First flowering plants seen in Stansted Forest on July 20

Guernsey Fleabane: First flowers in Havant on July 20

Tansy: My first sight of this in flower came while driving along Portsdown Hill on July 23

Buttonweed (Cotula coronopifolia): Established wild colonies of this plant are nationally rare (one at Tipner Lake in Portsmouth which did not persist was of sufficient interest to get a mention on Stace's Flora) so the colony in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton (Havant) merits an annual visit despite difficult access. On July 25 I was pleased to see a better show of plants than last year. (See my diary entry for July 25)

Welted Thistle: Although this must have been out for some time the first flowers I know of were seen in Stansted Forest on July 20

Common Water Plantain: Several plants well into their flowering in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton on July 25

OTHER WILDLIFE

Pygmy Shrew: On July 22 I noticed a glistening patch in my driveway where Slugs had been attracted to some food source and on closer inspection found it to be a tiny dead shrew. It was so small that I wondered if it were a Pygmy Shrew so I measured the length of the body and tail (each was approx 4 cm) and went to check my books which suggested that it was a Pygmy as the Collins Field Guide to Mammals gives a body length of 31-46 mm for that while Common Shrew has a body length of 58-87 mm (the 40mm tail length would fit either species). The colour of the pelage (fur) of my specimen appeared to be a uniform greyish brown which again fits Pygmy (Common should show three distinct colours - a dark brown back, lighter brown flanks and whitish underparts). I also read that Pygmy is probably as common and widely distributed as Common so (despite being reluctant to handle this decomposing corpse with its thick covering of Slug slime and its many attendant Ants) I feel pretty sure that I can add another species to the list of those sharing my house and garden.

Fungi: Rain and warm air should now be bringing us a good variety of fungi but I have only three species reported so far this week. First was a small cluster of boletes found in the grass of the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on July 20 which were almost certainly Red-cracking Boletes (Boletus chrystenteron). Then I found a single specimen of a large white puffball in one of the grass rides of Stansted Forest that same afternoon (July 20) and have little doubt that this was what used to be called Calvatia utriformis but which now has the English name of Mosaic Puffball and a new scientific name of Handkea utriformis. The third report comes from the vegetable garden of a house in the Ashford area of Kent where several clusters of Common Bird's-nest Fungus (Crucibulum laeve) had re-appeared on July 22 after an absence of many years.

These small fungi have only been seen by me a couple of times in 30 years, once at the Hayling Oysterbeds and once at the Portsmouth North Harbour ex-IBM site. At first they appear as small brown 'pebbles' (typically only 5 mm across) which then become 'musical drums' (retaining the bottom half of their spherical shape but having a whitish 'drum skin' covering the top surface), and finally this skin breaks up to leave an open bowl with a few tiny parcels of spores in the bottom of the bowl (giving a good impression of being 'eggs' in the bottom of the bowl shaped 'bird's nest').

That's only the beginning of a fascinating story demonstrating how this species has used scientific principles to save itself effort. Many fungi solve the problem of dispersing their spores by growing tall enough such that when the spores fall from the underside of the cap there is time for the wind to catch them and carry them away before they reach the ground under the force of gravity. Other fungi have developed the technique of shooting their spores from tiny syringe-like 'guns' using water pressure to fire the spores out. Bird's nests (there are several species) have developed an even more efficient way of dispersing their spores - they devote a minimum of energy to growing their fungus body but they take great care in the shape of the bowl and wait for rain to fall. Any rain drop falling into the bowl will force the tiny globules of spores (the 'eggs') up the launching ramp of the sides of the bowl and shoot them high enough for the spores to be caught by the wind as the 'egg' breaks open under the strain of the impact of the rain drop.

The actual process is even more complex as it allows for rain falling before the spores are ripe and also for the non-break up of the egg when it reaches the maximum height above the fungus. Both these functions are achieved by having each 'egg' attached to the base of the 'nest' by a long elastic thread. When the spores are not yet ripe the elastic thread is strong enough to pull the 'egg' back into the 'nest' after a rain drop has ejected it. When the spores are ripe the thread snaps where it was attached to the 'nest' but remains as a long streamer behind the ascending 'egg' and hopefully this streamer will become entangled with any vegetation above the 'nest' leaving the 'egg' dangling in mid-air (like a parachutist caught in a tree) until the egg breaks open to release the spores.


Summary for July 13 - 19 (Week 28 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Shearwaters: Four Manx Shearwaters were seen as far east as Seaford on July 17 when 73 were off Milford at the west end of the Solent and (on July 18) 200 off Portland Bill but on July 15 an estimated 1200 were off Cornwall where both singles of both Cory's and Sooty were seen. Balearic Shearwaters were also seen during the week with one off Dungeness, two off Seaford, at least two off Milford and up to nine off Portland

Little Egret: Indications of autumn movement come in sightings of singles at Portland Bill and Dungeness this week, plus a sighting of eight flying south over the northwest boundary of the Havant area (Swanmore Road in Leigh Park near Bells Copse) at 6:30am on July 13. It was suggested that this latter group might have been roosting in trees around the Leigh Park lake where quite a few Cormorants sometimes spend the night but my guess would be that they were either on a much longer trip between unknown points, or were returning to the coast after an abortive trip inland in search of new feeding places (had they been coming from roost they would probably have left much earlier at first light, and as the proposed roost site is almost due east of Swanmore Road it would be odd for them to fly west end then turn south in order to get to the coast). Numbers still at the Langstone pond site suggest that most of this year's young have not yet dispersed.

Black Stork: I have seen quite a few reports of White Storks in both the near continent and in southern England since Feb 20 this year but a report of a Black Stork flying north over a Dutch site on July 18 is the first mention of this species that I have seen this year.

Mute Swan: The regular annual 'Swan upping' in Christchurch Harbour scheduled for July 26 this year has been cancelled because of a 'shortage of rings' with which to mark the birds. A count of the Swans present on July 14 gave a total of 274.

Shelduck: The majority of adults normally leave us for their distant moulting sites in June and July and I suspect that quite a few left in mid-June (at Christchurch Harbour 31 were present on June 1 decreasing slowly to 26 on June 11 but only 3 were left on June 22). After this it seems that the Harbour acted as a stopping place for birds passing through from other sites - the count was up to 11 on June 23, 8 were seen on June 25 and 9 flew west over the Harbour on July 11. Latest report is of 12 adults and 8 juveniles at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on July 18

Red-crested Pochard: The female seen at Pagham North Walls on July 4 may have moved to Pulborough Brooks where a similar bird appeared on July 18

Scaup: A similar lone wanderer may account for sightings of a male at Paxton Pits (Cambridgeshire) on July 7, at Weir Wood reservoir in East Sussex on July 11 and at Winterton (just north of Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast) on July 17

Common Scoter: Plenty of these stil to be seen in the English Channel but an inland record of a feamale inland at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on July 18 was unexpected

Marsh Harrier: On July 17 I saw the first report of the number of young raised by the pair nesting at Weymouth (Radipole/Lodmoor) this year - they then had 3 young with them. This is the first breeding in Dorset for some 50 years.

Hobby: A local sighting of one in the East Park area of Stansted on July 12 and a dramatic sighting of one seen to catch a Swift in flight in the Kent Stour Valley on July 14

Avocet: The number of adults at Titchfield Haven was up to 37 (plus 7 juveniles) on July 17 - this probably included some adults which had just dropped in on their autumn journey westward. Three were also seen at Hook/Warsash on July 14, again probably passage birds

Stone Curlew: One at Rye Harbour on the morning of July 16 was the first reported from the south coast since May 13 and thus probably now on autumn passage.

Golden Plover: Although there had been three reports during May and June (Norfolk on May 8, the Scillies on June 24 and Holland on June 27) two sightings on July 17 probably mark the start of their autumn arrival back in the south of England - two were seen at Titchfield Haven before they flew on south and five were seen in north Kent near Faversham.

Lapwing: July 16 saw the first two back on the Langstone shore and saw the count at Rye Harbour increase to 400

Knot: After just three reports during June there were five reports between July 14 and 18 (including a flock of around 140 in north Kent on July 15), indicating a definite start of autumn returnees on the south coast.

Sanderling: Two reports of these in June followed by four between July 11 and 18, including an unexpected sighting of one inland at Ibsley Water on July 18.

Temmincks Stint: July 17 brought a report of a 'possible' sighting at the Oare Marshes in north Kent

Pectoral Sandpiper: One at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on July 17

Curlew Sandpiper: Three summer plumaged birds at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on July 17 (at least one of them had been present since July 14

Redshank: On July 15 the Sidlesham Ferry pool (Pagham Harbour) had its first autumn flock of 57 birds and on July 16 there were more than 40 newly back on the Langstone village shore

Pomarine Skua: A young bird in the Christchurch Harbour area on July 17 was the first to be reported anywhere in the south since June 6

Arctic Skua: An increase in the number of sightings (9 this week) indicates the start of autumn passage, as does the route taken over Christchurch Harbour by two birds passing over on July 16 - they arrived from the north east and flew on south west, suggesting they had used the overland route from the north sea.

Sabine's Gull: Two seen from a boat off the Scillies on July 13 were the first for the year then one seen off Cornwall on Apr 16 and 17

Caspian Tern: One seen on the Dutch coast on July 17

Black Tern: What was probbly the first autmn passage bird was at Dungeness on July 14 and 15, while on July 17 one was an unexpected arrival at the Blashford Lakes inland near Ringwood.

Sand Martin: Counts of birds passing Dungeness on their way south this week were - 61 on July 11, 110 on July 12, 2600+ on July 13, 230 on July 14 and 192 on July 17. Weir Wood reservoir in East Sussex had around 100 on July 15 (with more than 150 House Martins) and Woolmer Pond in East Hampshire had more than 100 on July 17

Dunnock: These can still be heard singing in my garden and on July 19 I saw one of two on my Havant garden lawn was wing flicking as if thinking of another attempt at breeding.

Song Thrush: On July 14 one was belting out its song from a tree in the Warblington Farm fields as if it too wanted to raise another family

Long-tailed Tit: A flock of more than 45 birds seen at Winnal Moors in Winchester may have contained several families but is some evidence of a good breeding season.

Red-backed Shrike: An adult male was found at Cissbury Ring on the Sussex Downs above Worthing in July 14 and was still there until July 16

Raven: Two were being mobbed by Crows in the Rosamunds Hill area of Stansted Forest on July 13

Crossbill: This week has brought four reports of Crossbills in unexpected sites, probably all moving west as part of an irruption into the country from Scandinavia but so far in small numbers. Two birds had been seen moving over the Sussex Downs near Worthing on July 10, then at least one was heard in the Lewes area on July 12. July 15 brought a report of more than 80 (in several flocks) moving west through woods north of the M27 north west of Southampton, eight more flew over Beachy Head on July 16 and another 8 were reported in the Rempstone Heath area of Dorset (west of Poole Harbour) on July 18

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: The first local sighting was on June 8 but general emergence seems to have started on July 10 when one was seen at Titchfield Haven followed by 2 in the nearby Browndown area on July 12. I had my own first sighting here in Havant on July 14

Small Red-eyed Damselfly: First mention of this species for the year comes on July 16 when one was egglaying at Rye Harbour (so presumably not newly emerged). This species was first discovered in Britain in 1999 and is not described in either of my 'up to date' Dragonfly books published in 1997 and 1999 respectively but it is now widespread in Britain with local colonies established at Farlington Marshes and Sinah Gravel Pit lake on Hayling. For description and pictures see http://www.dragonflysoc.org.uk/ervir.html I see that it has also been spreading rapidly on the continent since 1999 and that it does not normally emerge until early June.

Butterflies

37 species reported this week (highest count so far this year)

Silver Spotted Skipper: First and so far only report for the year comes from the Frog Firle area of the Cuckmere valley in Sussex on July 16

Clouded Yellow: I saw 15 reports of these between May 11 and June 11 with a gap in sightings until the first of the summer brood was seen near Eastbourne on July 28. The next was seen on July 9 near Newhaven before a more general emergence brought two reports on July 13 (including one at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester) and four reports on July 16 (from Rye Harbour, Lewes area, Shoreham and the Cuckmere valley)

Brown Hairstreak: First for the year seen at Broadbridge Heath near Horsham on July 14

Purple Hairstreak: A total of 45 were seen at the Testwood Lakes in Totton (Southampton) on July 14

Small Blue: The first report of the summer brood emerging came from the Paulsgrove Chalk Pit (Portsdown) where two were seen on July 10

Chalkhill Blue: More than 750 were seen in the Friston area near Eastbourne on July 12 when more than 100 were out on Stockbridge Down but so far no news of the large numbers to be expected on Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley.

Holly Blue: Nine reports this week shows that the summer brood is now emerging but numbers remain very low

Painted Lady: The offspring of the first wave of migrant arrivals are now on the wing in good numbers - 330 were recorded at Magdalen Hill Down near Winchester on July 16

Moths

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (1983 Hamaris fuciformis): One seen in the New Forest on July 14 was the first to get a mention this year

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Just three reports of isolated singles this week

Bedstraw Hawkmoth (1987 Hyles Gallii): First of these migrants for the year was at Portland on July 15

Garden Tiger (2057 Arctia caja): Another first at Portland on July 15

Langmaid's Yellow Underwing (2110a Noctua janthina): Another first at Portland on July 10

Beautiful Yellow Underwing (2142 Anarta myrtilli): First seen by day on July 18 nectaring on Wood Sage near Crawley

Double Kidney (2311 Ipimorpha retusa): First at Dungeness on July 11

Small Mottled Willow (2385 Spodoptera exigua): Another first at Dungeness on July 13

Olive Crescent (2495 Trisateles emortualis): The first of these had been seen in Sussex on June 19 but one taken at Lovedean (Waterlooville) was said to be only the fourth ever to be found in Hampshire

Other Insects

Poplar leaf-stem Aphid (Pemphigus spirotheacae): I was fascinated to read (on the Rye Bay website) of a female aphid (Pemphigus spirotheacae) which sucks sap from the stems of Black Poplar leaves. Her bite causes the leaf stem to twist round several times into a coil inside which there is sufficient room for the aphid to carry on drinking and to give birth to up to 30 daughters. These daughters, like their mother, eventually give birth to young, again without the need for male participation. By this time it is getting a bit crowded inside the coil (which has not only given them enough sap to meet their needs for food but also secure protection against the outside world and the predators it

contains) so the coil eventually opens to let the aphids out. The grand-daughters of the original female now lay eggs in the tree bark and these hatch into a mixed bunch of males and females. After mating the females of this sexual generation lay their eggs on the tree bark where the eggs over-winter before hatching into more 'gall agent' pathenogenic females to restart the cycle. A picture of the gall can be seen on the RX Website at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2009/07/14/spiral-gall/#more-10527

Bumblebee nest: On July 13 Michael Prior (Head Forester at Stansted) described a bumblebee nest he had recently found. He said .. "There is a fascinating bumble bees nest in one of the plantations comprising entirely of larch needles in a neat dome above ground." I do not know the species concerned but it must be one of the species (such as Bombus pascuorum) which nests above ground (some species make their nests underground - under flagstones or in an old mouse tunnel). The nest as such consists of a number of wax cells in which the eggs are laid and the larvae develop (as with Honey bees) but above ground nesters either hide their nests in long grass or leaf-litter but, as in this case, can collect material to cover the nest.

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius): This is one of the underground nesters and the Rye Bay website has another item showing a female standing just outside the nest entrance to act as a guard and fanning her wings continually to maintain air circulation to keep the nest cool.

Stag Beetle: Another report of a female seen crossing the Hayling Billy trail in the Langstone area on July 9

Speckled Bush-Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima): First news of this species is of one found in a moth trap at Dungeness on July 13

Forest Bug (Pentatoma rufipes): On July 14 I saw what I believe to be one of this species fly into a spider's web in my Havant garden. The bug seemed unable to free its feet from the sticky web (and was unlikely prey for a small spider) so I helped free the bug

Wasp Spider (Argioppe bruennichi): First report for the year is of one seen at Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight on July 17

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Imperforate St John's Wort: This was flowering in Havant Thicket on July 13, identified by the absence of translucent glands in the leaves and the presence of black dots around the underside of the leaves and black streaking on the petals.

Corn Spurrey: First flowering plant found in an arable field at Warblington Farm on July 16

Pencilled Cranesbill: I had found this in flower at Havant Bus Station on June 15 but I was still interested to see one plant defying the roadside grass mowing regime to flower in Pook Lane (north of the A27) on July 14

Dwarf Gorse: Four bushes were starting to flower in Havant Thicket on July 13

Stone Parsley: First flowers seen on July 15

Wild Angelica: Just starting to flower in Havant Thicket on July 13

Pepper Saxifrage: Also first flowers seen in Havant Thicket on July 13

Cross-leaved Heath: Well into flowering when I saw my first in Havant Thicket on July 13

Brookweed (Samolus valerandi): Plants found by the Havant Wildlife Group during their regular Saturday morning walk on July 12 at a very unlikely spot in Oak woodland on clay soil at SU 819067 on a footpath leading north to East Ashling (west of Chichester). I previously thought that this plant only grew where fresh and salt water mixed in tidal stream mouths but this site (which has some 50 plants) is a good 2 kilometres from the harbour. I have since found out that plants do occasionally occur inland - there is one site north of the Sussex Downs at Parham and it used to occur by Fleet pond in north Hampshire.

Bog Pimpernel: Until this year I had not come across this anywhere in the Havant Thicket area but it was seen in June in the grassland south of the Thicket and lots of it were found by John Norton alongside damp rides in the north of the Thicket in the week ending July 12 - I visited the area on July 13 and saw it then

Chaffweed (Anagallis minima): This tiny plant was also found by John Norton close to some of the Bog Pimpernel and seen by me (for the first time in my life) on July 13

Round-leaved Fluellen: First flowers found in Warblington cemtery on July 14 (these plants are of natural origin - not planted wildflower seed)

Lesser Skullcap: Large swathes of these plants were present in the woodland south of East Ashling, along with Brookweed mentioned above, and gave me the first flowers for the year when I was there on July 15

Field Woundwort: One plant starting to flower at Warblington Farm on July 16 was the first I know of.

Round-headed Rampion: The first flowers I have heard of were reported on downland near Lewes on July 12

Canadian Fleabane: This had started to flower in the driveway of my Havant home on July 13

Sneezewort: My first flowers seen in Havant Thicket on July 13

Violet Helleborine: Michael Prior reported on July 13 that plants were flowering in the usual location at Stansted Forest

OTHER WILDLIFE

Stoat: On the rare occasions when these are seen by humans they always put on a good show. On July 11 a couple of them were seen engaged in a prolonged bout of fighting right outside one of the Rye Harbour hides (continuing outside another hide to make sure no one failed to see them)

Hedgehog: With no reported sightings in the first five months of the year I thought these had vanished from the local scene but one appeared in Brian Fellows Emsworth garden on June 17 and Brian saw another elsewhere in Emsworth on July 2. I then found a freshly dead corpse in the road outside my Havant house on July 9 and now there is another report from the Lumley area of Emsworth where one had been seen in a garden at dusk a few days prior to July 13

Common Toad: The Hampshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Winnal Moors has recently been 'improved' and re-opened to the public. One person who was there on July 17 commented on two tiny Toads - presumably this year's young.

Slow-worm: While down on my hands and knees looking at a rare plant (Chaffweed) in a damp ride of Havant Thicket on July 13 I disturbed a small, bright bronze, Slow-worm which quietly wriggled away


Summary for July 6 - 12 (Week 27 of 2009)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

Unusual birds seen this week were a Scopoli's Shearwater and a Wilson's Petrel. Dorset celebrated the fledging of the first Marsh Harrier to fledge in the county for some 50 years, and there is late news that Ravens have bred this year on the white cliffs of Dover. In the north and east of Britain it has been a goood 'Quail year' though the southern counties missed out on this. Locally there was an unexpected sighting of an Arctic Skua in the Meon Valley. The main feature of the week was the start of the major autumn movement of many species from breeding to winter quarters - the first Hen Harrier was back in Sussex, the first Avocets were back in Poole Harbour, and large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits started to return from Iceland. Two small summer flocks of Mistle Thrushes were good news and sightings of Golden Oriole and Great Grey Shrike were unexpected

The first Migrant Hawker dragonfly was seen this week and the first offspring of the big Painted Lady invasion are now starting to fly as this year's new generation of Bumblebee Queens has appeared. Several Grasshopper species are in the news along with a couple of Bush Crickets.

Tiny Chaffweed (a relative of Bog Pimpernel) has been discovered for the first time in Havant Thicket (along with a hybrid Rush) and a mystery plant found by the Havant Wildlife Group on their Saturday walk is still to be identified. More expected was the first flowering of the Danewort which is a speciality of Havant town, along with the flowering of several more widely distributed species including Teasel and Hoary Ragwort

Hedgehogs are now nursing new born young but one presumed mother pig was run over by a car outside my house while out searching fro extra food.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: A count of 89 seen on Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on July 8

Cory's Shearwater: The first sighting for the year was on May 16 when what was probably the same bird was seen off Portland, Devon and Cornwall, followed by a probable sighting off Devon on May 17. There have been no other reports until July 4 when one was seen from a boat off the Scillies. Another single bird was seen off Cornwall on July 5 and two were in Cornish waters on July 6 when a report of 20 flying west along the south coast of Spain probably marks post breeding dispersal. Further interest in the July 4 sighting lies in the claim that it was the second ever sighting in British waters of a subspecies normally only found in the Mediterranean - a 'Scopoli's' Shearwater, of which the first for Britain was off the Scillies in Aug 2004. Cory's Shearwater has two subspecies - the birds we normally see are classed as the 'Atlantic' subspecies and breed on the Azores and other Atlantic coasts and islands while Scopoli's is known as the 'Mediterranean' subspecies and breeds within the Mediterranean. Scopoli's is larger and greyer than the Atlantic subspecies and has a distinctive underwing pattern (though I have so far failed to track down the distinctive features!)

Balearic Shearwater: One seen off Portland on July 7 was the 49th report of the species I have logged this year on July. The 50th report came on July 9 and may have been unusual in that it was off the Norfolk coast - I do not know how many area seen in that part of the North Sea but I have the impression that few get further up the English Channel than Portland.

Storm Petrel: Plenty of these are still being seen off the Scillies and west country coasts but a birding boat trip off the Scillies on July 7 reports the first sighting for the year of a Wilson's Storm Petrel among 35 Northern Storm Petrels. Wilson's Petrel is slightly larger and browner than our northern species and its wings are more rounded and its legs are longer so they project beyond the tail in flight. Wilson's Petrel breeds in the southern hemishpere and is said to be one of the most abundant bird species in the world. After breeding it follows a figure of eight route which brings it up one side of the Atlantic to the fringe of the Arctic before heading south down the other side. This journey is comparable to that of the Arctic Terns and is a contender for title of longest migratory journey of any bird species.

Bittern: One was still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on July 9. Readers of the latest edition of the excellent British Wildlife magazine will find an interesting account of how our conservation agencies manage the environment in the hope of achieving the targets that have been set for the number of Bitterns in Britain to increase over the coming years. Some people might wish that the same amount of thought could be put into, and success achieved, in managing our human population.

Cattle Egret: One seen at the Brading Marshes (IoW) on July 5 (one was reported here on June 14 and May 16 but not in between)

Great White Egret: One flew south over east Kent on July 10

Spoonbill: What was described as a non-breeding adult was in the North Walls area of Pagham Harbour on July 9

Black Swan: One was seen to fly west over the north of Portsea Island (the North End area of Portsmouth) on July 7. For those who see all black Swans on the water it comes as a surprise to see how much white they show in their wings when airborne. At the end of the week two pairs were seen on the West Ashling pond near Funtington, one pair having three cygnets with them

Red Crested Pochard: A female seen in the Pagham Harbour north walls area on July 4

Scaup: On July 7 a male flew in to the Paxton Pits (Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire border area). I assume this was an escape from a wildfowl collection rather than a very early passage migrant.

Black Kite: One seen in the Wareham area of Dorset on July 8 - has the escapee from the Hawk Conservancy in Hampshire, which was last seen in the Fareham area on June 30, moved west into Dorset?

Marsh Harrier: On July 9 the Dorset Bird Club website announced that the pair which have been nesting at Lodmoor (Weymouth) have now fledged one juvenile to achieve the first know breeding of the species in Dorset for some 50 years.

Hen Harrier: A confident report of a ringtail in the Steyning Round Hill area north of Worthing on July 4 could be the first to return to the south coast since the end of April (though there was an odd report of one in the Weymouth area on May 20 followed by one passing Cap Gris-Nez near Calais on May 24)

Sparrowhawk: One flew high over my garden in the early afternoon of July 9 after a Buzzard had done the same on the previous day - probably both species are feeling less concerned about keeping a low profile now that their breeding season is over?

Buzzard: Regular hovering may be a characteristic of Rough Legged Buzzard but isolated instances of hovering cannot be used as a diagnostic - on July 7 an observer in the Lewes area watched a Common Buzzard hovering just 30 feet above the ground as motionless as a Kestrel for 30 seconds.

Osprey: At least two of these are already heading slowly south. One appeared in the west of Poole Harbour on July 1 and was still there on July 8. Another has been seen at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on July 4 and 5.

Peregrine: On July 7 a family of two adults and three juveniles were seen in the Church Norton area of Pagham Harbour. This could be the Chichester Cathedral family but if so where is the fourth juvenile?

Quail: Although I have not seen Lee Evans original statement saying that this is a great Quail year I have seeen a couple of comments on it, saying that there have been very few Quail anywhere in the southern counties, and a response from Lee saying that there are many more Quail than usual in his home county of Hertfordshire and up to 40 birds present in Yorkshire with many others in the north and east of the UK including at least one in Shetland. Lee also has support from a birder in Oxfordshire who says there are more than usual there. On the other hand the July reports from southern counties which I have seen tell of one in Dorset (Maiden Castle on July 1), one in Hampshire (Cleave Hill near Stockbridge on July 4) and three in Sussex (two near the Cuckmere Valley on July 2 and one in the Worthing area on July 4)

Avocet: No more than a dozen birds were reported at Titchfield Haven up to the end of May but recent reports from there (23 on June 7, 26 on June 20, 30+ on July 8 and 37+ on July 9) suggest that the westward post-breeding movement which brought 85 to the Pett Pools by Rye Bay on July 4 is bringing passage birds to Hampshire. On July 10 the first three birds arrived at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour (one of their wintering sites)

Lapwing: The number returning to Rye Harbour reached 100 on July 3 and was up to 350 by July 10. On July 8 Titchfield Haven had 44.

Temmincks Stint: One turned up at Pulborough Brooks on July 9 but seems to have flown on that night

Snipe: At least one was back at Titchfield Haven on July 10

Black-tailed Godwit: I have only seen four counts from Farlington Marshes since the beginning of June (45 on June 3, around 100 on June 28, slightly over 226 on July 8 and 264 on July 9) but this shows that the first Icelandic birds are now returning to our area. At Pulborough Brooks the number had dropped to just 4 on June 12 and 4 were still present on June 28 but on July 8 the count was up to 12. There have also been a couple of reports of birds seen on overland passage from Iceland - on July 7 two birds dropped in briefly at the Paxton Pits reserve on the Cambridge/Bedford county boundary, and on July 9 a group of six made a similar brief visit to Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough in East Sussex. Latest news is of around 160 at Titchfield Haven on July 10 but these may be young birds that have stayed through the summer.

Whimbrel: Odd birds have been seen on early return passage for some time but more substantial numbers are now being seen with reports on July 10 of a flock of 31 on the north Kent coast and what Jason Crook describes as a 'wave of returnees' seen that day at the Hayling Oysterbeds.

Common Sandpiper: This species was also mentioned by Jason Crook in his 'wave of returnees' comment referring to the Hayling Oysterbeds on July 10 - that site was just one of nine at which Common Sandpipers have been reported this week.

Turnstone: I have not recorded any reports of this species since June 10 when 15 were seen in the Warsash area. Now comes a report of 26 on the north Kent coast on July 10

Arctic Skua: On July 3 David Savage had a good view of a bird flying in the West Meon area of the Meon Valley which he strongly believes was an Arctic Skua and this caused me to investigate the likelihood of such a sighting. I found that in several recent years one or two Arctic Skuas have been present off the central south coast through the summer. During June this year there have been five reports of Arctic Skua, four off Dorset but one off Titchfield Haven. I also found that some Arctic Skuas when on passage do take an overland short-cut from the English Channel to the North Sea, with the Meon Valley being a likely place to see them (though there have been very few recorded sightings). David's sighting could therefore have been of an Arctic Skua, either a bird summering in the English Channel and 'exploring the hinterland' or an early passage bird coming south through the valley (David did not say in which direction his bird was flying).

Med Gull: First report of juveniles away from their nest areas is of a few among 124 Med Gulls at the Badminston Common pits (south of the Fawley refinery and around 5km north east of the Needs Ore gullery at the mouth of the Beauleiu River) on July 5 and this has been followed by the first sighting at the Hayling Oysterbeds on July 10 (presumably having flown from the RSPB Island in Langstone Harbour)

Common Gull: A single adult on the Weston shore of Southampton Water on July 11 probably marks the start of return of this species to the south coast.

Lesser Blackback: An adult of the British race (pale grey mantle) was back in the Slipper Mill Pond adjacent to Emsworth Harbour on July 6

Roseate Tern: A few non-breeding birds have remained in the English Channel through the early summer but a report of 6 seen on the Devon coast on July 9 probably marks the start of autumn passage.

Cuckoo: A report of one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 7 probably indicates that they have started to move south

Barn Owl: The first of this years young will be leaving their nests around now and there may also be some dispersal of adults that have failed to breed so a report of one seen carrying prey and entering a barn at Warblington Farm this week is more likely to have been a roving bird looking for somewhere to eat its supper than a sign of breeding at the farm.

Little Owl: A sighting of one at Warblington Farm this week is not unexpected as a pair have been present on the farm in all but two of the past 30 years.

Redstart: One seen at Portland on July 5 was the first there since May 14 and marks the start of their departure.

Stonechat: A new arrival in the Warsash/Hook area on July 8 was an early indicator of birds heading for the coast after breeding.

Mistle Thrush: A flock of 10 seen in a mown hayfield near Lymington on July 6 would have been a normal autumn sighting during the 1970s (Birds of Hampshire says .. "In late summer flocks of up to 70 are recorded" and also records late autumn flocks of up to 200+) but now Mistle Thrushes have become rare this may well be the only such flock seen in Hampshire this year - having said that in my mid-week Summary I hear that a flock of 20 was seen in the West Ashling (Funtington) area west of Chichester on July 11.

Spotted Flycatcher: This is another species apparently starting to move south - one seen the Southwater Country Park at Horsham on July 10 was the first seen there this year according to the observer.

Golden Oriole: A female or young bird was seen on July 6 at Pett on the shore of Rye Bay, presumably already on autumn passage southward.

Great Grey Shrike: One reported at a Dutch site on July 7 - the first I have heard of since Apr 20

Raven: Further evidence of their rapid colonisation of southern England in recent years comes from Kent where a pair has nested on the white cliffs of Dover this year with three young fledging on May 17. Two were seen in that area on July 9.

Tree Sparrow: One reported in a town garden at Goring (Worthing) on July 5 - presumably an autumn vagrant

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: First of these for the year seen in the Botany Bay woods near Chiddingfold in Surrey on July 4

Red-veined Darter: A sighting of 8 at the Badminston Common pit pools near Calshot in the New Forest on July 5 probably indicates that a small colony is now established there rather than the arrival of new migrants,

Common Darter: These were first seen on June 4 when they were reported at both Rye Harbour and Durlston but I have heard no more of them until July 8 when one was seen in Firestone Copse near Wootton in the Isle of Wight. On July 10 they were said to be 'still emerging' at Rye Harbour.

Butterflies

32 species mentioned in this weeks reports, including ..

Wood White: First of the summer brood out in Botany Bay woodland in Surrey on July 5

Clouded Yellow: A fresh male seen in the Newhaven area on July 9 had not been followed by other reports up to July 10

Chalkhill Blue: By July 5 more than 30 could be seen on the Downs above the Cuckmere Valley and on July 8 'hundreds' were reported in the Butchershole Bottom area just north of East Dean near Eastbourne where the first of the year were reported on June 30

Purple Emperor: Local sightings this week include - on July 5 one was photographed in the Botley Woods north of Fareham, on July 7 one was seen in the Creech Woods at Denmead and on July 8 one was seen in a Waltham Chase garden (east of Bishops Waltham).

Painted Lady: Freshly emerged insects seen at Eastbourne on July 5 and in both the Worthing and Newhaven areas on July 9

Moths

Leopard moth (0161 Zeuzera pyrina): First at Rye Harbour on July 4

Caloptilia stigmatella (0288): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 4

Ash Bud Moth (0449 Prays fraxinella): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 3

Goniodoma limoniella (0488): First in Thanet on July 9 - a Sea Lavender species

Eucosma conterminana (1192): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 3

Donacaula forficella (1329): First at Shoreham on July 3

Endotricha flammealis (1424 Endotricha flammealis): First at Portslade (Brighton) on July 5

Wax Moth (1425 Galleria mellonella): First at Dungeness on July 8

Bee Moth (1428 Aphomia sociella): First at Portslade (Brighton) on July 5

White Plume moth (1513 Pterophorus pentadactyla): First at Portslade (Brighton) on July 5

Common Emerald (1669 Hemithea aestivaria): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 4

Small Emerald (1673 Hemistola chrysoprasaria): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 4

Small Blood-vein (1690 Scopula imitaria): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 3

Shaded Broad-bar (1732 Scotopteryx chenopodiata): First in Thanet 'recently'

July Belle (1734 Scotopteryx luridata): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 4

Ruddy Carpet (1735 Catarhoe rubidata): First in Thanet 'recently'.

Beautiful Carpet (1748 Mesoleuca albicillata): First in Rother Woods north of Hastings on July 3

The Phoenix (1754 Eulithis prunata): First at Portslade (Brighton) on July 5

Wormwood Pug (1830 Eupithecia absinthiata): First in Thanet 'recently'

Dingy Shell (1874 Euchoeca nebulata): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 4

Swallow-tailed Moth (1922 Ourapteryx sambucaria): First had been seen on June 17 but one in my garden on July 7 was my personal first.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): By July 9 I had only collected 25 reports for the year

Minor Shoulder-knot (2225 Brachylomia viminalis): First in Rother Woods north of Hastings on July 3

Marbled Green (2295 Cryphia muralis): First at Portslade (Brighton) on July 5

Mouse Moth (2299 Amphipyra tragopoginis): First in Thanet (Kent) on July 4

The Dun-bar (2318 Cosmia trapezina): First in Rother Woods north of Hastings on July 3

Dusky Sallow (2352 Eremobia ochroleuca): First at Portslade (Brighton) on July 5

Scarce Silver-lines (2421 Bena prasinana): First in Rother Woods north of Hastings on July 3

Moth/Butterfly Larvae (9998 All species): On July 5 someone in the Pevensey Levels reported 'Maybe 100,000 Painted Lady caterpillars'.

Other Insects

Volucella inanis: One of these impressive large hoverflies features in photos of Hogweed taken in the Pett area near Rye Bay on July 8

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris): First new Queens of the year emerging in the Rye area on July 11

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius): First new Queens of the year emerging in the Rye area - one photographed mating on a barbed wire fence (see RX website)

Soldier Beetle (Cantharis lividis): These have just become numerous and prominent. On July 6 I saw around 30 of them crowded onto one Hogweed umbel in Havant and on July 8 Brian Fellows had a similar sight in Emsworth.

Meadow Grasshopper: Brian Fellows found these abundant in the grassland at Brook Meadow, Emsworth, on July 8 and commented that this is the only species of Grasshopper in Britain which lacks hind wings and is thus unable to fly like the others

Lesser Marsh Grasshopper (Chorthippus albomarginatus): On July 9 the Hollybank Woods 'blog' page reported that many of these could now be seen in the Holly Lodge clearing in these woods north of Emsworth. I have little knowledge of Grasshoppers and was surprised to hear of Marsh Grasshoppers in a very dry habitat but I find that this is not unusual (the species is found in shore, marsh, and dry grassland habitat). The species could be confused with the Meadow Grasshopper but that species has very small wings (it is unable to fly) whereas Lesser Marsh has large wings and lives up to its scientific name (albomarginatus) by having a white leading edge to the wings (visible along the top of the insect's body when at rest) - this can be seen in two photos on Richard Ford's excellent website at http://www.digitalwildlife.co.uk/minibeasts/grasshoppers/lessermarshGrasshopper.htm Going back to the Hollybank website on July 12 I find that the entry which originally sparked my interest has been altered and the insects there are now described as Meadow Grasshoppers but if you compare Andy Brook's photo (at http://www.hollybank-woods.hampshire.org.uk/woodland_blog.html ) with Richard Ford's photos you will be able to see the difference in wingsize and the white leading edge.

Woodland Grasshopper (Omocestus rufipes): This is a small dark grasshopper with a distinctively banded body. I have not come across it but I was told this week that there are a lot of them in Havant Thicket

Short-winged Conehead: The first for the year was on June 29 at Rye Harbour and locally a female was seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on July 8

Great Green Bush Cricket: These were found at Durlston on July 11 and no doubt can also be found on Portsdown.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Sea Purslane: This had started to flower along the South Moors shore at Langstone on July 6

Lesser Water Parsnip: This was well into flowering when I first noticed it in the Lymbourn stream pasing Wade Court in Langstone on July 9

Brookweed (Samolus valerandi) ??? When the Havant Wildlife Group were walking in damp woodland in the West Ashling area (near Funtington to the west of Chichester) on July 11 they came on a plant which none of them could identify, but Heather Mills took a couple of photos and sent them to me for my opinion. I certainly cannot name the plant with confidence but it could be Brookweed which is not uncommon in wet areas along the coast where salt and fresh water mix as the tide ebbs and flows. I read that the plant can be found inland so there is a possibility that this is what they found but I have doubts based on the arrangement of leaves up the plant stem and the fact that the plants were trailing over the ground, not erect. The only other possibility I could think of is a white flowered form of Brooklime, but that seems even more unlikely. I will forward the photos for expert opinion - watch this space.

Chaffweed (Anagallis minima): This tiny plant (which I have never seen) was found in Havant Thicket on July 10 by John Norton (an ecologist undertaking a survey of the Thicket area in connection with the forthcoming construction of the huge new reservoir by Portsmouth Water Company). I have not yet had a chance to look for it but if anyone else is interested John's directions start from SU 712106 where a tiny stream runs south across a broad east-west track. From there "Walk about 30-40 metres west, stop at an obvious stout marsh thistle flowering stem on the left hand (south) side, close to the edge. Then walk back about 1m or so and look near to the edge of the vegetated strip on the other side (i.e. the north side of the track). There's also an overhanging pine branch fairly close by. NB By this time you should have spotted a few small patches of Bog Pimpernel (A. tenella) in flower. There were several plants of the Chaffweed growing up through the leaf rosette of a marsh thistle."

Trailing Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana): This common garden escape is one that I had not bothered to identify until this week when I came across it near the Langbrook Stream on July 6

Danewort or Dwarf Elder (Sambucus ebulus): The colony where the Hayling Billy Trail passes the end of Grove Road in Havant had started to flower on July 6.

Fen Bedstraw (Galium uliginosum): Brian Fellows found this at the Langstone South Moors on June 18 but was not sure of its identity so sent a specimen to Martin Rand who confirmed it was Fen Bedstraw. When I was at the Moors on July 6 I found a plant which might have been this species but close examination showed it did not have the mucronate (extended point) leaves nor the backward pointing prickles on the stem and was Common Marsh Bedstraw.

Wild Madder: This yellow flowered climber was flowering at Durlston on July 7

Teasel: This was first seen in flower at the Hayling Oysterbeds on July 7

Marsh Ragwort: First flowers seen at Langstone South Moors on July 6

Hoary Ragwort: First flowers seen at Langstone South Moors on July 6

Ploughman's Spikenard: First flowers reported at Durlston on July 11

Shasta Daisy: Many in flower at North Common on Hayling on July 9

Prickly Lettuce: This had started to flower in Emsworth on July 6

Flowering Rush: Flowering at Christchurch Harbour on July 6

Juncus x kern-reichgeltii: This hybrid between Soft Rush and Compact Rush was found by John Norton on July 10 at several places around the north of Havant Thicket (Horsefoot Hill area). John says .." It's very distinctive as it has ridged stems at the top, smooth below and generally much taller than either of the two parents. The flowers are looser than those of Compact Rush, having short stalks, but not as loose as those of the Soft Rush". John is awaiting confirmation of the identity of this plant as Stace says .."It occurs sporadically with its parents (mainly in the north and west) but many records are erroneous; it is difficult to determine other than in the field in the presence of its parents."

OTHER WILDLIFE

Hedgehog: When Brian Fellows reported a couple of Hedgehog sightings in Emsworth last week I commented that they were now rare around Havant and that I had not seen one this year. That changed on the morning of July 9 when I found the squashed remains of one freshly dead in the road outside my house. I rather suspect that this was a female which had recently given birth (young born in June or Juy) and was having to hunt for extra food - her death will therefore cause the death of up to youngsters that cannot fend for themselves.

Slow Worm: A garden in Langstone village had seven Slow Worms in compost bins which were emptied on July 9


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

(Link to previous week’s summary)

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

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

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

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

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

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glaucous Gull: One reported in the Scillies on July 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackbird: Still singing on July 1 as were Song Thrushes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Eight species reported so far this week but nothing new

Butterflies

31 species mentioned in reports this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slender Brindle (2335 Apamea scolopacina): 0627 foy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Insects

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

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

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

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

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

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mugwort: First flowers seen in Havant on June 25

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER WILDLIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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