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WEEKLY SUMMARY

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Wildlife diary and news for Sep 27 - Oct 3 (Week 39 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Both Red and Black-throated were seen several times off the Kent and French coasts but not off the central south coast. Great Northern divers made their first appearance in southern English waters but were only reported off Cornwall (from Sep 25) and the Netherlands (on Oct 1)

Grebes: The number of Great Crested off the Langstone South Moors increased slightly from 21 on Sep 24 to 26 on Sep 27 and on Sep 28 there were 90 on the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood. The only Red-necked this week was one in the Kent Stour valley on Sep 27 and 29. Dorset had its first Black-necked of the season on Sep 28 and 29 at Abbotsbury and so far none have been reported in the Solent Harbours (other than one off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 27) though I had hopes when I saw four small Grebes in the Chalk Dock area of Langstone Harbour at Broadmarsh on Oct 2 but a proper look at them showed only the short necks of Little Grebe.

Gannet: Across the Channel at Pointe du Hoc near Calais a flock of 2342 was reported on Sep 26 but reports from the southern English coast attracted my attention for other reasons than numbers. On Oct 2 one was found on the shore at Sandy Point (Hayling Island) with its beak entangled in fishing net - the net was removed and the bird taken to the Brent Lodge wildlife hospital but it was in a weak state (back on Sep 6 a Gannet was seen at Cuckmere Haven with fishing line wrapped around its neck). These reminded me of something I learnt many years ago when I found an ailing Gannet in the stream well inland at Sheepwash farm west of Waterlooville and took it to Brent Lodge after putting a strong rubber band around its beak to minimise the damage it might do me! At Brent Lodge it was pointed out to me that I had nearly suffocated the bird because its nostrils are inside the beak (think what would happen when diving into the sea if they were external!). Another report from Christchurch Harbour this week was of a Gannet flying over the site from the north, indicating the possibility that Gannets (as well as Skuas - see last week's note of an Arctic Skua over Andover) take the overland route from the North Sea to the English channel.

Bittern: It seems early for Bitterns to be moving to winter quarters so I wonder if sightings of single Bitterns on the south Devon coast (at Slapton Ley south west of Dartmouth) and Cornwall (at Marazion near Penzance) on Sep 25 and 27 were of birds that have been there through the summer

Little Egret: The night roost at the Thorney Island Little Deeps had 167 birds on Sep 28, exactly the same number as on Sep 7 though the number using the Rye Harbour roost had declined from a summer peak of 102 to 64 on Sep 13 and just 35 on Sep 27. I suspect that the number at Thorney Island (and at Langstone Pond) will soon diminish once the birds detect to onset of winter weather when they prefer to move inland where the winds are less chilling.

Great White Egret: One spent some time on the Pilsey Sands (south of Thorney Island) on Sep 28 and was last seen sleeping happily at 15:45 but a watch on the nearby Egret Roost by the Thorney Little Deeps failed to see it and it had gone by next morning. These birds seem to be on the move in the Low Countries with counts of up to 9 seen together on a day when lesser numbers were to be seen at up to 13 different sites. In Hampshire the current resident has been at the Blashford Lakes throughout the week

Grey Heron: These too are moving on the near continent with a count of 262 at one Belgian site on Sep 22 when smaller numbers were seen at 15 other sites where they were considered to be unusual. Nearer home there were 40 present at the Ringwod Blashford Lakes on Sep 28

White Stork: This week one has been seen at several places in Dorset starting with the River Stour near Blandford on Sep 23 and 24, then Radipole (Weymouth) on Sep 25 moving east to Osmington on Sep 26 and then to the Wareham area on Sep 27 where it has remained in the Wareham water meadows (by the R Frome south of the town) until Sep 30 at least.

Glossy Ibis: One has been at Christchurch Harbour from Sep 19 to 30 (taking a brief trip to the Lymington area on Sep 25)

Spoonbill: An impressive count of 345 at one Belgian site on Sep 22 (383 had been there on Sep 17). The best we could do was 11 birds at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Sep 28 with other reports this week of smaller numbers in Cornwall, Kent and Sussex (including 2 in Pagham Harbour on Sep 30)

Geese: Reports from the near continent show that winter birds are now arriving en masse. Peak numbers reported this week were 2032 Bean, 160 Pinkfoot, 3116 Whitefront, 1076 Greylag, 3786 Barnacle and over 700 Dark-bellied Brent in Chichester Harbour on Sep 29 and a flock of around 1500 in the Swale estuary in north Kent on Sep 30

Mute Swan: A group of four taking off from Emsworth Town Millpond to fly out into the harbour on Sep 27 reminded me that I have not seen Swans in flight since the early summer- presumably the adults have now completed their moult and this year's young are now capable of flight.

Red-breasted Goose: I have already reported one in Belgium on Sep 17 and this week two were seen at a German site on Sep 29 with local excitement in the arrival of one in the south of Chichester Harbour (along with a lot more Brent and a Ruddy Shelduck) on Oct 1.

Shelduck: These are starting to return from their summer moult sites with 40 seen flying west at Pett Level near Hastings on Sep 27 and 28 reported in the Thanet area on Sep 29

Wigeon: 260 seen at Sandwich Bay on Sep 26 were presumably new arrivals for the winter and counts of 241 on the French Normandie coast and 146 flying west past Climping on the west Sussex coast, both on Sep 29, plus a report of more than 1000 in the R Exe estuary in Devon on Sep 30, all show that many of our winter birds are now with us (no flocks yet in the Langstone area but there were 450 at the Thorney Great Deeps as early as Sep 10)

Garganey: The only report of this species for the week was of one in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28 - maybe the last of the year?

Pochard: A report of three in the Kent Stour valley on Sep 28 may mark the start of return for the winter (a few have been here throughout the summer). On Oct 2 a group of five were back on Bembridge ponds (IoW)

Scaup: One had been seen off the Fife coast in Scotland on Sep 24 but this week has brought the first to southern England with a female in the Exe estuary in Devon

Long-tailed Duck: First of the winter was in West Bay (far west of the Dorset coast) on Sep 26

Surf Scoter: An adult drake has been at Marazion (near Penzance in Cornwall) from Sep 26 to 30 at least

Goldeneye: These do not normally arrive in the Solent harbours until late October but the first two reports of returning birds show that 49 were off the Netherlands on Sep 26 and 2 were seen at Spurn Head in Yorkshire on Sep 29

Red-breasted Merganser: Although this week brought reports from Langstone Harbour (one in the Kench on Sep 28), Lymington marshes (one on Sep 27), and two at Dungeness on Sep 26, these could all be sightings of summering birds. No real evidence of returning birds as yet.

Goosander: Reports of 8 at the Blashford Lakes on Sep 25 and 28 (and 5 further south in the Avon valley on Sep 28) are all likely to be of birds that have bred there this summer but a report of 4 on Dartmoor on Sep 29 is more likely to be the first evidence of birds arriving from the north.

Ruddy Duck: One at Pett Level near Hastings on Sep 27 and a juvenile at the Clennon Valley (Paignton in Devon) show that the cull is not yet complete.

Honey Buzzard: Numbers in northern Europe are now low - only two birds reported in England at the end of this week and the highest count in the Low countries was of 3 at one Netherlands site (with singles at 6 other places) on Sep 29

Buzzard: Still plenty of these with a count of 438 in Denmark (birds fleeing Scandinavia) on Sep 22, 504 there on Sep 27 and 220 at a Belgian site on Oct 1

Osprey: Numbers now starting to tail off with a peak count of just 5 at a Netherlands site on Sep 29 (when smaller numbers were seen at 17 other sites). One was near the mouth of the R Adur in Sussex on Sep 30 when another was still at the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton. An interesting report from Emsworth is of one resting on a raft in the Slipper Mill Pond on or around Sep 25

Merlin: A significant increase in sightings this week with a total of 19 reports from southern England and the Low Countries. On Sep 30 I even had a sighting myself of one flying low over the Sinah Common/Gunner Point area of Hayling Island and resting briefly on the shingle beach

Grey Partridge: This is the time of year that birds reared in captivity are sold to landowners who wish to 'do their bit for the environment' and I suggest this may be the reason for a sighting of 160 of these birds on the Sussex Down at The Burgh just south of Amberley on Sep 25

Corncrake: One seen at Durlston on Sep 30 was an exceptional sighting there - only the third at the site in the past 30 years

Stone Curlew: One heard flying south over Brighton on Sep 28

Golden Plover: A flock of 150 was seen at West Wittering on Sep 28 (when the count at Oare on the north Kent coast was 980). On Sep 29 there were 164 in the Thanet area of Kent and on Sep 30 a flock of 299 birds was reported in Yorkshire

Knot: Also at West Wittering on Sep 28 were 150 Knot

Sanderling: The flock of 98 seen from the Ryde esplanade (IoW) on Sep 21 was still there on Sep 29 and Oct 1 (counts of 92 and 80 respectively)

Little Stint: Singles seen this week at Farlington Marshes, Lymington Marshes and Blashford Lakes in Hampshire; Brooklands at Worthing and Oare Marshes in Kent plus two birds at Dawlish Warren in Devon

Curlew Sandpiper: Two were at Farlington Marshes on Sep 25 and two at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 26 with two at the Fishborne Channel (Chichester) on Sep 27 (when six were at the Oare Marshes in north Kent). On Sep 28 one was at Hook/Warsash and on Sep 30 one was in the Exmouth area

Purple Sandpiper: Two were reported at Farlington Marshes on Sep 25 (unusual as they usually stick to rocky places right on the coast) and on Sep 26 two were across the Channel at Cap Gris-nez. No others yet in Hampshire but on Oct 1 one was clearly seen at Start Point in Devon while what may have been an additional flock of 6 flew by distantly.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: One was still at Davidstow in Cornwall on Sep 29 and two more have been attracting viewers to Scotney Court (Rye Harbour) from Sep 28 to 30

Ruff: On Sep 28 Scotney Court also had a high count of 16 Ruff and that same day Christchurch Harbour had 7, Lymington had 4 and the Oare Marshes had 3. On Sep 26 Sandy Point on Hayling had its second flyover of the autumn.

Lesser Blackback Gull: On Sep 28 John Clark recorded 8665 of these at the Blashford Lakes roost

Roseate Tern: An adult plus a juvenile were a surprise during a seawatch from Berry Head in south Devon on Sep 29. Nine Common Terns were seen during the same count and two Arctic Terns flew past Berry Head on Oct 1

Black Tern: Still plenty of these with 5 off Shoreham on Sep 30 and 3 off Titchfield Haven on Oct 1

White-winged Black Tern: One attracted attention at Hyde Park in London on Sep 27

Auks: Both Razorbills and Guillemots are now regular sights along the south coast but a Puffin seen from the Worthing seafront on Sep 25 was unexpected.

Stock Dove: A flock of 76 birds seen at Timsbury in the Test valley was exceptional - could it have been the same flock of 76 seen in the Netherlands on Sep 23?

Wood Pigeon: A flock of 521 birds in Belgium on Sep 29 might be an indication of the start of autumn passage

Turtle Dove: Two were still present in north Kent on Oct 1

Cuckoo: The last I have heard of was seen when it landed on a garden greenhouse at Woodingdean near Brighton on Sep 25

Barn Owl: One was hunting over the reeds at the Thorney Little Deeps on the evening of Sep 28

Short-eared Owl: 16 reports this week show that these birds are now settling in to their winter quarters

Swift: Latest reports are of singles in Thanet (Kent) on Sep 28 and at a Netherlands site on Oct 1

Wryneck: 16 reports this week with birds at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28 and in Cornwall on Sep 30. On Oct 2 one turned up on an ornamental Cherry Tree near tennis courts in a central Southampton park (behind the old Tyrrell and Greens store site)

Skylark: These could be heard passing over coastal fields in the Havant area during the second half of this week when one Belgian site recorded 429 on Sep 30. We can expect to hear occasional song in the next week or so as local residents object to all the continental birds muscling in on already occupied winter territories.

Shorelark: In addition to reports of up to 5 at a Netherlands site on Sep 22 one was recorded at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Sep 30

Rock Pipits: These have been moving into English coastal sites this week with 4 in the Portsmouth Dockyard and 9 on Hurst Beach (Lymington), both on Sep 25. The first two for this autumn were at the Oare marshes in north Kent on Sep 28 with 68 recorded at Spurn Point on Sep 30

Yellow Wagtail: Still being seen with 10 at West Wittering in Chichester Harbour on Sep 28 and 7 at Lymington plus 14 at Seaford Head, both on Sep 30

Grey Wagtail: Small numbers are still on the move but at least two have settled for the winter in Havant town area and have been heard several times flying over when I have been shopping this week

Dunnock: These are now arriving from the continent in large numbers. 65 migrants were seen at the South Foreland in Kent on Sep 26 and an influx was reported in the Thanet area on Sep 27 (when one Netherlands site had a count of 256)

Robin: Also moving in from the continent with more than 60 at the South Foreland on Sep 25 and 24 at Folkestone on Sep 27 followed by 60 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 28

Bluethroat: A White-spotted bird was caught and ringed at Romsey on Sep 30

Ring Ouzel: A surge in numbers leaving us started on Sep 26 (when a Netherlands site had 5 birds and three other sites had lesser numbers). On Sep 27 there were 9 at a Netherlands site and 4 on Butser Hill near Petersfield. Sep 28 saw 11 at a Netherlands site and 8 in the Folkestone area plus 4 at Leaden Hall (north west of New Forest). By Sep 30 the peak counts were down but the reports were still widespread (seven sites) and there were at least two in Belgium on Oct 1

Blackbird: No numbers to quote but on Sep 26 an influx was noted in the Thanet area.

Fieldfare: No real surge yet but this species was seen at 4 Netherlands sites on Sep 22 with 6 birds at one of them

Song Thrush: Migrants reported this week at Folkestone, South Foreland, Sandwich Bay, Thanet, Stour valley and Reculver in Kent with 60 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 28 and 170+ at Thanet on Sep 29. Over on the continent counts were much higher peaking at 6669 at one Netherlands site on Sep 29 (when smaller numbers were reported from 13 other sites)

Redwing: 3 were in Hampshire (Timsbury in the Test Valley) on Sep 28 when 2 were recorded at Portland but higher numbers were seen in Kent with a peak of 57 in Thanet that day (243 had been recorded at Bradford in Yorkshire on Sep 26). Highest count was of 120 at a Belgian site on Sep 29

Mistle Thrush: A few of these seem to be arriving from the continent but the highest count is of only 17 birds seen among Starlings on telegraph wires at Holmsley in the New Forest on Sep 26

Reed Warbler: I feel seriously concerned by the low numbers of this species reported this autumn - the highest single count was of only 30 birds and I have seen only 41 reports of the species in the months of August and September.

Blackcap: At the other end of the scale there seems to have been a significant increase in the number of these birds reported during the autumn. On Sep 30 Durlston was still reporting more than 180 while the peak count at Beachy Head was 500+ on Sep 9 and there were 16 reports of 100 or more birds at a single site.

Bearded Tit: Three sites in Kent reported activity indicating that these birds are thinking of setting out on journeys in search of pastures new. On Sep 27 more than 15 birds were seen at Rye Harbour and on Sep 28 a similar number at Seasalter were 'flying around like a flock of Budgies' (a further comment that all the birds were ringed might indicate a good breeding season there which would give rise to a need for some birds to disperse). On Nov 30 an estimated 25 birds were seen 'in and over the reeds' (is that a description of the 'high flying' these birds do to get a look at the outside world before they leave the reeds which have limited their vision in the previous months?)

Blue Tit: On Sep 29 a Netherlands site recorded 1000 of these birds on the move (but only 211 Great Tits)

Great Grey Shrike: No reports of them in the New Forest yet but the RBA news service reported that several had arrived on the English east coast on Sep 27

Jay: Sep 26 brought a count of 1178 from one Netherlands site (with 15 others reporting smaller numbers) but so far the best indication of these birds arriving in southern England is a report of 9 moving north over Winchester on Sep 30.

Starling: Numbers in the Havant area have increased recently and more than 1000 were reported in the Thanet area on Sep 27

Chaffinch: On Sep 29 one Netherlands site reported 16811 Chaffinch and on Sep 30 that number was up to 17933. Here in England the movement was relected by a report of 900 passing over Thanet during a one hour count on Sep 29 while on Sep 30 Reculver reported 214 moving along the north Kent coast

Brambling: Sep 28 saw 19 in the Thanet area while Oct 1 saw 1022 at a Netherlands site - smaller numbers have been reported daily during the week

Siskin: Sep 27 brought a count of 209 over Thanet and the same day Durlston reported 150. By Sep 30 Germany had a peak count of 2323 at one site

Reed Bunting: These are starting to appear regularly in reports but so far the highest count in southern England has only been of 30 birds

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

This week the only species reported were Migrant Hawker and Common Darter (both active to at least Sep 30)

Butterflies

20 species reported as active in the news seen this week (as the Hampshire website had not been updated since Sep 12 until this week it includes some old news)

Silver Spotted Skipper: Three unusually late insects were seen on Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on Sep 23

Clouded Yellow: Sep 25 brought reports of 3 at the South Foreland in Kent and 1 at Barton on Sea in Hampshire

Brimstone, Large White, Small and Green Veined White still being reported

Small Copper: Having an excellent third brood in Sussex and Hampshire

Brown Argus: A single third brood insect seen at Ropley on Sep 25

Common Blue: Latest sighting was of two at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Sep 26

Chalkhill Blue: Late sightings on Sep 22 at both Stockbridge Down and Chalton Down north of Rowlands Castle

Adonis Blue: Two still flying at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Sep 26

Holly Blue: A fresh female at Bournemouth on Sep 25 was the first anywhere since Sep 12

Red Admiral: Active up to Sep 30

Painted Lady: A fresh specimen seen at Froxfield near Petersfield on Sep 23

Small Tortoiseshell: Latest was one at Ropley on Sep 25

Comma: Three seen on the Hayling Coastal path on Sep 25 (confusingly this report was given with a map reference for the centre of Winchester!)

Silver Washed Fritillary: Not a current report but late news of one at Pamber Forest on Sep 9 (before this the last sighting had been on Aug 31)

Speckled Wood: Seen up to Sep 26 this species should continue into October

Gatekeeper: Another very late report of one on Old Winchester Hill on Sep 23 (previous latest was on Sep 4)

Meadow Brown: Seen up to Sep 26

Small Heath: Two at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Sep 26

Moths

Mottled Umber: An early find of one in Thanet on Sep 27 (this moth normally starts to emerge in October)

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Five more reports up to Sep 26 when one was seen in a Havant garden (another had been seen in Emsworth on Sep 25)

Silver-striped Hawkmoth: One at Portland on Sep 30 was the first of the year

Beaded Chestnut: The main emergence of this species is in October and the first I know of were seen in Thanet at the end of September

Caterpillars: The Hampshire Butterfly website ( http://www.hantsiow-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.htm ) has a photo of a Goat Moth caterpillar attempting to find a hibernation site below the hard surface of the carpark at the Beaulieu Motor Museum on Sep 14 while the Sussex Butterfly website ( http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html ) has photos of a couple of very well disguised moth larvae in its entry for Oct 2

Other Insects

Robber Fly (Asilus Crabroniformis): Two of these rarities were seen at Bockhill near the South Foreland in Kent on Sep 25

Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae): This species continues to spread in southern England and I was made aware of a colony at Wembury in Devon (on the coast a little east of Plymouth) by an entry on the Devon Birding website on Sep 26

Western Conifer Seed Bug: Also spreading and becoming established in southern England one of these insects was seen at Wembury in Devon recently

Araneus quadratus (Four Spot Orb Weaver spider): This lovely spider is one of my favourites because of its velvety coast of many colours - see http://www.nicksspiders.com/nicksspiders/araneusquadratus.htm for pictures that show the texture and range of colours. Brian Fellows found some in the Chidham area of Chichester Harbour on Oct 2

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common ramping fumitory (Fumaria muralis): My first sight of this in flower was among Gorse on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Sep 30 shortly after I had noticed young plants starting to grow at the New Lane allotments in Havant

Field Pennycress: On Sep 27 I found that the three plants that had not been mown with the roadside grass in Juniper Square (Havant) had increased in number and at least one of them was showing its seeds. On Sep 30 I found this plant in a more typical setting - the edge of an arable field near Forestside

Green Amaranth: Game cover/food strips in fields near Forestside had quite a lot of this (along with various other plants including Bristle Grasses) on Sep 30

Cut-leaved Cranesbill: A single fresh plant flowering in an arable field north of Stansted Forest on Sep 30

Hedgerow Cranesbill: Still flowering on the seawall of Emsworth Marina on Sep 27

Bush Vetch: A second autumn find of this in flower near Horsley Farm (West Marden area) on Sep 30

Meadow Vetchling: An unexpected late flowering by the Hayling coastal path on Sep 30

White Melilot: Flowering by the Langstone Harbour entrance on Sep 30 and at Broadmarsh on Oct 2

Goats Rue: A single young plant starting to flower at the north Hayling halt carpark on Sep 30

Spreading Hedge Parsley: On Sep 25 Brian Fellows accidentally stumbled on the site of a field edge area near the Chichester marina where the farmer has set aside a small part of his field to allow this species to survive and where 80 plants flowered this summer

Cow Parsley: Reported to be in flower in the Chidham area on Oct 2 - could this be a mistaken identification of Hemlock which is now starting to reflower widely in similar coastal areas?

Thrift (Sea Pink): A general revival of this plant over a large area of Sinah Common seen on Sep 30

Cowslip species: One Cowslip in flower in the roadside grass outside Forestside Church on Sep 30 was a great surprise - I suspect this is not a genuine wild plant but the date was still surprising

Cocks Eggs (Salpichroa origanifolia): This plant is now massively established on Sinah Common on land immediately west of the last house in the area opposite Staunton Avenue and it was in full flower on Sep 30

Potato Vine (Solanum jasminoides): This is a garden plant currently in flower but it can escape and survive rather like Russian Vine. I have often admired it in gardens but knew no name for it until this week when I saw a specimen climbing over a garden arch in the Mallards housing estate beside the Langbrook stream in Langstone - noting the similarity of the flowers to those of a Potato I put 'Solanum' into Google and found a good picture of the plant I was interested in at http://www.findmeplants.co.uk/photo-solanum-jasminoides-album-fl.aspx?ret=1089

Borage: Another very attractive plant equally happy to grow in gardens or on its own in waste land. Brian Fellows found the first for this year in the Chidham area on Sep 30

Sheep's Bit: I was a little surprised to find this still flowering on Sinah Common on Sep 30

Crosswort: This was just starting to re-flower in fields around Forestside on Sep 30

Chinese Mugwort: This plant never flowers until October but when I went to check the stand of plants beside the cycleway running past Farlington Marshes below the A27 embankment at its Broadmarsh end I found I would have to wait longer to see any flowers open

Sea Wormwood: Walking along the seawall of the Langstone South Moors with a friend on Sep 27 we were passing a stand of this plant and I remarked that I always enjoyed the aromatic scent but had never in my life found the flowers open - then stooping down to examine it I found the flowers were open!

OTHER WILDLIFE

Cetaceans: 6 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off Christchurch Harbour on Sep 25 and watchers at Berry Head in south Devon saw around 50 Common Dolphins on Sep 27 and 4 Common Porpoises on Sep 29

Basking Shark: More than 10 were off Lands End on Sep 26

Wall Lizard: On Sep 25 two were seen at Southbourne in Bournemouth (where a colony has been established for some years).

Fungi: Fly Agaric were said to be plentiful in the Henfield area on Sep 25 and they were shown on the BBC South Today programme during the week. I have not heard of them elsewhere so far.

Brian Fellows gathered what he thought were Field Mushrooms in the Chidham churchyard grass on Sep 30 and ate them for supper that evening but both he and his wife were violently sick soon afterwards (seemingly no further effects - they slept well and Brian was able to lead the Havant Wildlife Group to the scene of the crime on Oct 2). A photo of the stem and gills on Brian's website ( see the Oct 2 entry on http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm ) shows an apparently edible mushroom but a check with Roger Phillips and Stephan Buczacki tells us that Field Mushrooms have a thin ring on their stems and that it soon disappears while the dangerous Yellow Stainer has a prominent and persistent ring (as in Brian's photo) but so do the Horse Mushroom and Agaricus bitorquis which are both good to eat. Brian gives no measurements but gauging the size of his specimens against the hand in one photo and the boots in the other I guess the cap of the mature specimen was well over the 8cm max given for Field Mushroom and A. bitorquis but within the 15cm max for the Yellow Stainer. Further the gills of the mature specimen in his photo are a pale brown while Field Mushrooms become a very dark brown on maturity whereas Yellow Stainers remain pale brown. Brian does not say if he tested the specimens which he ate for 'yellow staining' (cutting the base of the stem and the rim of the cap of a fresh specimen immediately after picking it) but I see that the telltale bright yellow which warns you not to eat it can fail in older specimens (and the yellow will fade away soon after cutting).

Also found in the Chidham area was a big Bolete (photo on Brian's Sep 30 entry) which Brian thinks was B. impolitus and the difficulty in identifying this and other fungi was brought out by a discussion on the Wild about Britain website concerning a photo of what was thought to be this species. See
http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/forums/fungi-forums/5934-iodine-bolete.html I see that this species is now known as the Iodine Bolete as it is said to smell of Iodine but the smell is only detectable in fresh specimens, and would you recognize the smell of Iodine in the field? If you would what about the smell of Elastoplast which is said to be given off by the Yellow Stainer discussed above (see page 174 of John Wright's River Cottage Handbook on Mushrooms)

Other new fungi seen this week were Jew's Ear (Jelly Ear) at Chidham, Horse Mushroom at Warblington, Shaggy Inkcap at Broadmarsh (and Common Inkcap at Forestside), Wood Mushroom at Forestside, probable Boletus erythropus at Beacon Square in Emsworth and Crested Coral (Clavulina coralloides) in Stansted Forest.


Wildlife diary and news for Sep 20 - 26 (Week 38 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: A Red-throated has been seen several times off Titchfield Haven from Sep 18 to 25 and on Sep 24 three Black-throated were off the North Kent coast. Rarity interest was in a White-billed Diver seen in Ardmore Harbour (Co Waterford, Eire) on Sep 20

Grebes: The autumn flock of Great Crested in Langstone Harbour, seen from the South Moors shore, numbered at least 21 on Sep 24 - I suspect that the total in the harbour is probably considerably more than this. No current reports of Black-necked from Langstone Harbour but singles were seen this week at Rye Harbour and at Wilstone Reservoir near Tring in Hertfordshire (both on Sep 18) and on the Exe estuary in Devon on Sep 23 (where the bird was seen with the Slav Grebe which has remained there through the summer)

Bittern: One was reported (without further comment) on the Devon birding website as present at Slapton Ley (coastal wetland nature reserve south west of Dartmouth) on Sep 25 (a pair bred there in 1996 and 1997 - not sure of current status)

Great White Egret: The bird at the Blashford Lake near Ringwood now seems to be settled there for the winter but movement of these birds on the continent reached a high on Sep 22 with a report of 17 seen at a Belgian site that day with lesser numbers at 14 other sites

Grey Heron: A similar peak of movement was noted on the continent with a count of 262 at a Belgian site plus smaller numbers at 14 other sites

White Stork: A Belgian site reported 74 on Sep 24 showing that migration is still ongoing. In southern England what may have been one off-course bird was by the River Arun near Amberley on Sep 19 and 20, then by the River Avon at Ellingham (close to the Blashford Lakes) on Sep 21 (see http://www.avondiary.net/images10/stork.jpg ), and on Sep 23 and 24 it was by the River Stour near Blandford in Dorset.

Glossy Ibis: No reports of flocks this week but singles were at Christchurch Harbour (seen daily from Sep 18 to 25 (when it flew to Middlebere in Poole Harbour after being provoked by photographers trying to get even closer to it than its tame nature permitted)

Whooper Swan: Although there had been an isolated reported of two birds in Germany on Aug 29 the start of passage is marked by the arrival of 12 birds in the Hebrides on Sep 23

Brent Goose: The first migrant flock of 12 birds was seen in Langstone Harbour on Sep 25 although migrants had been seen in both Kent and Devon on Sep 23 after the very first report of a flock of 19 off the Netherlands coast on Sep 22. See my diary entry for Sep 25 (written before the news of birds in Langstone Harbour was known to me) for my summary of an unusual pattern of arrival this year (perhaps caused by strong north winds?)

Garganey: Still being reported this week with one in Devon on Sep 21 and 2 in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 22

Scaup: First of the winter was one in Fife (Scotland) on Sep 24 (when a Lesser Scaup was reported in Warwickshire)

Eider: A report of 674 at a German site on Sep 22 indicates a major arrival from the north which may have accounted for the appearance of 8 off Titchfield Haven on Sep 24 after singles had been seen in Langstone Harbour on Sep 22 and off Selsey Bill on Sep 23

Honey Buzzard: Several reports from southern England this week seem to have been of birds coming from Scandinavia. On Sep 18 an adult with a juvenile flew in over the north Kent coast along with 10 Buzzards and on Sep 19 there were sightings in the Adur Valley (that bird then flew south east towards Brighton) and over Pagham Harbour while on Sep 20 one was seen going south (chased by a Sparrowhawk) over the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester with another sighting in the Exminster area of Devon. Sep 23 brought news of one over Yorkshire and of two more heading out to sea over Rye Harbour and on Sep 25 one flew over the east end of the South Downs near Eastbourne when news of another (probably moribund) juvenile being cared for at a Wildlife Hopsital in Surrey since being found on Sep 22 appeared on the SOS website

Black Kite: Of local interest was one seen over the Mundham area south of Chichester on Sep 18 (heading south west into the wind) - seen by the birder whose day had started with a Camberwell Beauty butterfly on his garden path!

Marsh Harrier: Although a lot of these have been moving since the start of September this week brought a surge on Sep 22 when one Netherlands site recorded 21 birds and 25 other sites reported smaller numbers. On Sep 25 one was an unexpected record going over Fleet Pond in north Hampshire.

Sparrowhawk: A count of 58 going over a Danish site on Sep 22 reflects the approach of winter in Scandinavia and a count of 94 in southern Spain two days later indicates that a lot of these birds were heading for Africa

Buzzard: Also fleeing the oncoming winter in Scandinavia were 438 Buzzards seen over Denmark on Sep 22 (after 75 were seen there on Sep 21)

Osprey: Four were still in Poole Harbour on Sep 24 when one was still at the Lower Test Marshes. Earlier in the week there had been sightings at Warsash (Sep 23) and Langstone Harbour (Sep 19) with one at Bewl Water in north east Sussex on Sep 23

Hobby: Latest sighting so far was at Portland on Sep 24

Common Crane: One was in the Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head on Sep 18

Dotterel: Two were at Davidstow in Cornwall from Sep 20 to 22 and one was seen in the Netherlands on Sep 23

Sanderling: After news of 212 on the Pilsey Sands in Chichester Harbour on Sep 11 the first substantial report of 98 on the Ryde Sands (IoW) on Sep 21 seems to indicate that the species is already settled for the winter in the Solent region

Little Stint: Singles were seen at the Lymington Marshes, at Farlington Marshes and at the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester this week

Curlew Sandpiper: Biggest count this week was of five in the Fishbourne Channel on Sep 24 but both Farlington Marshes and Christchurch Harbour had two and one was seen at The Kench (south of Langstone Harbour)

Purple Sandpiper: The first report of the autumn was of one in the Scillies on Sep 7 with one (possibly the same bird) there on Sep 21. Of more interest was the first local report of two at Farlington Marshes on Sep 25

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Up to 4 have been in the Scillies since Sep 3 with some of them moving to Cornwall and Devon and they are still present in the west country but one on Pilsey Island on Sep 21 gave Barry Collins his first American wader for the Thorney Island patch which he wardens. Sadly the bird flew off when a low flying helicopter spooked the birds there.

Woodcock: First autumn report of a bird on the move comes from Germany on Sep 23

Black-tailed Godwit: This week's reports show an increase to 85 birds in the Emsworth area with counts of 334 from the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester, 215 in the Hook/Warsash area and 225 at the Lymington Marshes (no reports from Farlington Marshes). Down in north Cornwall there were more than 90 on the Camel estuary (running from Wadebridge to Padstow) on Sep 21 and Slimbridge had 95 on Sep 22

Whimbrel: I think most of the passage birds have now left southern England (leaving scattered birds to winter here) though there was still a report of 22 in the Netherlands on Sep 24

Arctic Skua: There have been records in past years of Skuas cutting overland between the North Sea and the English Channel to give sightings in north Hampshire but a single Arctic Skua seen at Andover on Sep 24 was going the wrong way (heading north). There was a big passage movement that day with Spurn Point in Yorkshire recording 471 Arctic, 7 Pomarine, 10 Long-tailed and 197 Great Skuas

Long-tailed Skua: An unusual record for an inland site was of three Long-tailed Skuas at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Sep 23

Glaucous Gull: First report of the winter is of a single bird at a Belgian site on Sep 19

Terns: The great majority of these birds have now left us and Sandwich Tern sightings from now on may well be of birds that will winter with us but both Black and Little Terns are still passing. On Sep 23 six Little Terns were seen on the north Kent coast at Seasalter and on Sep 24 fifteen were noted at the nearby Oare Marshes. 34 Black Terns were seen at Dungeness on Sep 19 with 22 there on Sep 21 and 13 went past Selsey Bill on Sep 23. Across the Channel 53 were off the French coast on Sep 24 with 14 off the Netherlands on Sep 25

Auks: A few Guillemots and Razorbills have been seen along the south coast since the start of September and more may be expected following reports from the Brittany coast of France of 134 mixed Auks on Sep 24 and 395 Razorbills on Sep 25. Also on Sep 25 came the first report of a Puffin in the English Channel for this winter - it was seen flying past Worthing

Cuckoo: A late bird was seen at Woodingdean near Brighton on Sep 25

Swift: One over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 24

Alpine Swift: One reported over St Ives in Cornwall on Sep 19

Wryneck: Latest reports are of one at Wendover in Buckinghamshire on Sep 23, one at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 24 and one at Seaton in Devon on Sep 25

Hirundines: Swallows and House Martins are still being seen in good numbers though my last record of Sand Martins was on Sep 18. A Red-rumped Swallow was seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Sep 18 and another in the Netherlands on Sep 23

Yellow Wagtail: Around 40 were on the Selsey West Fields on Sep 20 and on Sep 24 there were 15 at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton and 10 on the Lymington Marshes

Wren: Three reports this week have taught me that ticks which normally attach themselves to larger animals sometimes attach themselves to birds with fatal consequences. I first learnt of this on Sep 23 when Brian Fellows website carried a photo of a moribund Wren with a tick attached to the back of its head and later I read on the Devon Birding website ( http://devonbirdnews.blogspot.com/ has photos with the entry for Sep 21) of a Coal Tit and a House Sparrow dying of the same cause. I then did a Google search on the subject and found a document written by someone at the University of Georgia in the USA which include the following ..

"Have you seen a bird with a fat tick stuck to its face? A component of this tickís saliva causes paralysis in birds preventing the birds from flying and walking. If so, the University of Georgia would like to know about it. In fact, you can participate in a research project by donating the ticks to UGA.

The paralysis first affects the wings and legs. Eventually paralysis progresses until the bird becomes unable to breathe, which produces death.

Interestingly, if the ticks are removed before the bird develops breathing problems, all these effects will quickly be reversed and the bird will recover and be fine.

If you want to attempt to rescue the bird, recommendations are that you wrap the animal in a towel to keep it from struggling. Pick the ticks off, examining under the feathers carefully to be sure all have been removed. Avian rehabilitators suggest then placing the animal in a large paper bag or box for a few hours to allow it to recover before it is released in the wild, where it might be at a disadvantage if it encountered predators before regaining flight ability."

Song Thrush: A lot of winter thrushes will soon be with us from the continent and the imminence of their arrival is indicated by three Trektellen reports this week. On Sep 22 one site in Denmark recorded 120 Song Thrushes coming from Scandinavia (there were also 16 seen heading south in Yorkshire that day). On Sep 23 a Netherlands site reported 119 and on Sep 24 a German site had 258.

Redwing: Still no big numbers but ones and twos were being seeing daily at many sites in the Low Countries this week (and on Sep 22 five sites in the Netherlands reported Fieldfares with the biggest count being 6, while on Sep 20 one Netherlands site had 27 Mistle Thrushes and the week has brought half a dozen reports of small flocks (max 8 birds) moving in Kent, Sussex and the Isle of Wight)

Great Reed Warbler: One was trapped and ringed at Slapton Ley on the south Devon coast on Sep 25

Blackcap: This is the only one of our departing passerines (other than the inevitable Chiffchaffs) still being seen in substantial numbers. At Beachy Head there were 200 on Sep 19 and 250 on Sep 22 with an estimated 150 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 21

Yellow-browed Warbler: The first of the winter was seen in Belgium on Sep 19 with reports from three continental sites on Sep 22 when six were reported in Shetland. Also on Sep 22 Martin Gillingham had one in Victoria Park in Portsmouth

Goldcrest: The first to be seen this autumn at Bockhill (south Foreland in Kent) were four birds (presumed to be from the continent) on Sep 19. On Sep 21 John Goodspeed had an unusual report from someone living at Droxford in the Meon valley - they had a male bird fly in through an open bedroom window to settle down in a pile of cotton buds. The bird seemed quite unafraid of humans and allowed itself to be picked up and put back out of the window

Blue Tit: On Sep 18 the SOS website had an entry from Andrew Grace in Hastings telling us that .. "There is some dispersal of forest species being reported in western Europe and for some days here at Hastings there has been very excitable behaviour among groups of Blue Tits - with frequent calling, chasing and display by bright males - with flocking and some westward movement. This is exactly the behaviour I have seen in blue tits in Sweden where some years ago I was fortunate enough to be present at Falsterbo during a passage of 11,000 blue tits on one day. Migrating flocks of Blue Tits develop a kind of high-pitched communal calling which can sound like a high-flying party of Siskins." Other reports of Blue Tits on the move have come from Sandwich Bay (53 seen on Sep 21), 42 at Hope Gap near Eastbourne on Sep 22 when 40+ were seen at Reculver on the north Kent coast, and 14 heading out along the shingle spit at the mouth of Pagham Harbour on Sep 23. Across the Channel Sep 23 brought a report of 600 at one Netherlands site (with six other sites reporting unusual numbers that day)

Red-backed Shrike: Just one at Durlston on Sep 21 but several singletons have been reported this week in Devon, Cornwall and the Scillies

Jay: The sight of one foraging on the ground in the Havant Eastern Road Cemetery (where they are not normally seen) on Sep 21 was a local indication of thousands of these birds currently on the move on the continent and no doubt soon to sweep westward across southern England. The peak count on the continent also came on Sep 21 when one Belgian site had 865 and one in the Netherlands had 272

Starling: Another indication of things to come was a count of 12,450 Starlings at a Netherlands site on Sep 22

Chaffinch: A count of 8,164 at a German site on Sep 23 (but only a max of 16 Bramblings so far)

Siskin: Reports from ten sites in Southern England this week show that these birds are starting to arrive. On Sep 19 one was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling (with two over Sinah Common that day). Thurlestone Bay on the south Devon coast had a party of 12 on Sep 23

Lapland Buntings: These are now present in small numbers along the whole of the coast of southern England with up to four seen at 'the Deeps' on Farlington Marshes on Sep 18 (decreasing to 2 there on Sep 24)

Snow Bunting: Singles seen this week at Sandwich Bay, Reculver and Sheppey in Kent.

Escapees: A couple of 'funny ducks' which appeared on the Emsworth Town Millpond this week may well have been unwilling escapees dumped there by someone who no longer wanted to care for them. A picture of them can be seen on Brian Fellows website entry for Sep 23 ( see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-560-mystery-ducks-emp-23.09.10.jpg ) and I suggest they are a domestic breed known as Buff Orpington (see http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/Ducks/Buffs/BRKBuff.html )

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

A single Southern Hawker seen at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Sep 21 was probably the last for this year as were the Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters seen at Rye Harbour on Sep 22

Butterflies

Surprisingly 18 species were seen in flight during the week

Clouded Yellow: Singles seen at Portland on Sep 20 and at Beachy Head on Sep 22

Brimstone: This and all three common White species were all seen.

Small Copper: This was relatively numerous during the week. Brown Argus, Common Blue and Chalkhill Blue were also seen

Adonis Blue: Still flying at Durlston on Sep 24

Painted Lady: One at Portland on Sep 20 with of course plenty of Red Admirals still on the wing

Camberwell Beauty: The only sighting I know of for this year was one on a garden path in the Mundham area just south of Chichester on Sep 18

Peacock: Likely to be seen again if the cold snap passes, as will Comma and Speckled Wood

Small Heath: Also still flying with Meadow Browns at Durlston on Sep 24

Moths

Convolvulus Hawkmoth: Four sightings this week - three at Portland and one on the Goodwood Trundle north of Chichester

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: One at Dungeness and two in the Brighton area this week

Fisher's Estuarine Moth (Gortyna borelii): A real rarity only to be found at two locations in north Kent. Two of these were found climbing the stems of another rarity (Hog's Fennel) in the Swalecliffe area of the north Kent coast on Sep 18

Brown-tail moth caterpillars: Small young caterpillars found at Rye Harbour on Sep 19

A good selection of moth photos to be found in our area taken recently by Anthony Tindale either in his Fareham garden or at Portchester can be seen on the Three Amigos blog at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/17101/Latest+mothing+results+from+my+Fareham+garden.html

Other Insects

Bush Crickets: Speckled, Great Green and Roesels all seen this week at Dungeness, Durlston and Swalecliffe respectively

Box Bug: See my diary entry for Sep 22 for photos of this insect which has been found recently at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and at Rye Harbour as it continues to spread across southern England from its (until recently) only site on Box Hill in Surrey

Spiders: Both the Garden Cross (Araneus diadematus) and the Lesser Garden Spider (Meta segmentata) are now relatively common and the impressive Wasp Spider (Argioppe bruenicchi) is coming to the end of its life cycle as the females lay their eggs and then die - at one site in the Thanet area of Kent a search on Sep 24 found 90 of the 'Japanese Lantern' egg sacs hanging from grass stems

Bee Killer (Philanthus triangulum): This digger wasp kills bees and places them in its egg chamber as food for its developing larvae. Several were seen on Water Mint at Dungeness on Sep 24 and the species could probably also be seen locally at the Pilsey Sands (southern tip of Thorney Island) and in sandy heaths in the New Forest

Cherry Slug Sawfly (Caliroa cerasi): I was introduced to this species by an entry on the RX website (scroll down to an entry for Sep 22 headed 'Early Autumn Insects' on http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/insects/ ). The photo in this entry is of the caterpillar-like larva of a Sawfly species of which you can seen an adult at http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/pests/Caliroa_cerasi/ The 'slug' attribute comes from the disguise adopted by this larva to dissuade predators from eating it, this allowing it to continue stripping the leaves of fruit trees on which it can be the cause of commercially significant damage. Wikipedia does not explain how the larvae manage to disguise themselves but merely state .. "The larvae cover themselves in green slime, making themselves unpalatable to predators."

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Wavy Bitter Cress: Surprisingly this only appeared on my September flowering list on Sep 22

Flax species: Fairy Flax could still be seen on Portsdown on Sep 20 and Pale Flax ws flowering at Durlston on Sep 19. On Sep 24 I found several plants of Common Flax (no doubt wind blown self sown from seeds originating from commercial crops earlier this year) in fresh flower at the Saltmarsh Lane open space on Hayling and if you are interested in the connection between this plant and the term 'heckling' used in connection with political speakers see my dairy entry for Sep 24

Field Pansy: Plenty of this in flower on Portsdown (Portchester Common) on Sep 20

Green Amaranth (aka Pigweed): On Sep 21 I was surprised to find a large plant of this growing among the wildflower seed sowing on a grave in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery - probably its seed had accidently got included in the wildflower seed mix

Saltwort and Frosted Orache: Although they were not flowering I was very pleased to see on Sep 21 that both these species were still present in the sand around the Hayling Island Black Point sailing club

Tree Mallow: One plant in flower near Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 21

Common Gorse: A single flower on a south Hayling Gorse Bush on Sep 21 announced the resumption of flowering by this species after its summer break and more flowers were seen by the Hayling Coastal Path on Sep 24

Caucasian Stonecrop: Just one or two flowers open on plants covering some the the Havant Eastern Road cemetery graves on Sep 21

Hog's Fennel (Peucedanum officinale): This yellow flowered umbellifer is a rarity only found in a few coastal grassland sites in Kent but it came to my attention this week in connection with an equally rare moth found feeding on it near Swalecliffe this week

Strawberry Tree: Two large local specimens (at Northney Church on Hayling and Montgomery Road in Havant) were in full flower this week. The clusters of white bell shaped flowers are a hint that this tree is a member of the Heather family.

Bell Heather: This was also flowering at Sandy Point on Hayling this week

Intermediate Periwinkle: Plants in the old hedge around the Havant Health Centre had resumed flowering on Sep 21

Basil Thyme: I did not expect to find this in flower when I visited Portchester Common on Portsdown on Sep 20 but I did find one cluster of at least four plants in flower there.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Cetaceans: A Humpback Whale was seen off Spurn Head on Sep 20 causing me to investigate which species of Whale do occur in British waters. See my diary entry for Sep 22 for what I discovered. Also this week I noticed that a boat trip off Cornwall on Sep 13 had seen 100 Common Dolphins.

Mole: When on Hayling on Friday I noticed (not for the first time) a small van advertising that it belonged to a Professional Mole Catcher and I assume that there must be sufficient Moles around to keep him in businesss though we hardly every see these creatures above ground. On Sep 21, however, Brian Fellows came on a dead mole at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and posted a photo of it on his website. I have occasionally come across Mole corpses in the past but only during hot dry summers when the Moles die of hunger and dehydration as the worms on which they feed have burrowed down below the depth of Mole tunnels - the worms survive by going into 'aestivation' (the summer equivalent of hibernation) but the starving moles come out of their tunnels to seek 'pastures new' and if they fail to find damp areas where the worms are still active the Moles die on the surface leaving extremely emaciated corpses. The Brook Meadow corpse was not emaciated and there should currently be no shortage of worms there so I am wondering why this Mole died - had it been just of old age I would expect the corpse to have remained underground so I wonder if this was a case of either poisoning or some new disease.

Bats: On Wednesday evening Nik Knight gave an excellent talk on Hampshire Bats and the work of the Hampshire Bat Group but he did not mention an aspect of Bats that is currently causing the Church of England to set up a conference to find ways of discouraging Bats from using those parts of churches where their urine can cause significant damage running into thousands of pounds. Most people are aware that bat droppings are neither smelly nor toxic and can be swept up at little cost but I was not aware that their urine can severely damage church property such as tapestries and church organs. The churches are not wishing to exclude bats from the church buildings but would like to find a way of persuading them to stick to the belfries where they can do little damage.

Pollack and Squid: The Durlston Rangers daily report for Sep 23 includes an account of the evening arrival (on Sep 22) of the Waverley Paddle Steamer at Swanage Pier. The pier was well lit for this and the light enabled many fish to be seen in the water before the steamer arrived. Most of these were Pollack (aka Pollock) but the ranger was excited to see among them a Common Squid.

Fungi: The first report of the colourful Fly Agaric toadstools came on Sep 25 hidden away as an aside in a Sussex Butterfly Conservation website report of butterfly finds without giving a location. Earlier in the week there was a good show of Waxcaps (both Blackening and Parrot) on my lawn - see photos on my Diary page for Sep 23. Another local observation reported to me was of a lot of toadstools alongside the A259 Emsworth Road where it runs along the north of the Warblington Farm fields - I have not been to see what these might be but in the past Parasol Mushrooms have appeared here and may be what was seen (they were first reported at Durlston on Sep 10). This week Durlston reported Giant Puffballs and my own observations include a stump covered with Glistening Inkcaps in New Lane (Havant) on Sep 21


Wildlife diary and news for Sep 13 - 19 (Week 37 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: This is the first week of this autumn that I have seen reports of all three species. By Sep 16 Red-throated had been seen off Devon, Cornwall and Dorset (Portland) and on Sep 18 one was seen heading up Southampton Water off the Hook/Warsash area. Up to four Black-throated were in the English Channel on the French side and the first Great Northern was off Fife in Scotland on Sep 17

Black-necked Grebe: The only Hampshire reports (one in Langstone Harbour on Aug 27 and one at the Blashford Lakes on Sep 8) seem to have been birds passing through though a group of five off the north Kent coast seem to have stayed there for a week (Sep 7 to 13) and one on the Siblyback reservoir (Bodmin Moor) stayed from Sep 12 to 15 at least.

Sooty Shearwater: Birds of Hampshire has just one record of a bird found dead at Warsash, and while there had been 14 records since then up to 2008 I have always thought of this as a rare species in the English Channel. That impression has been shattered this week by daily reports on the Trektellen website which peaked on Sep 17 with a count of 963 off Gatteville on the Normandie coast plus a total of 584 birds at 8 other sites (no way of telling if there is duplication in these reports)

Manx Shearwater: There were 224 of these off Gatteville on Sep 18 but the impressive count that day was of around 16,000 off St Just in Cornwall

Mediterranean Shearwater: Two 'possible' reports from Cornwall, one off the Lizard on Sep 14 and one off St Ives on Sep 15. Also reported as a 'possible' was a Little Shearwater off St Ives on Sep 16

Leach's Petrel: Plenty of these this week with the RBA service reporting a nationwide total of some 1200 birds on Sep 15. Just two reports came from Hampshire (maybe the same bird off Hook/Warsash and Milford on sea on Sep 13). Strangely the week only gave me a single report of just one Storm Petrel off Pendeen in Cornwall on Sep 14 though I may have omitted some reports as being of 'common birds with little interest'

Squacco Heron: The first report of this species that I am aware of for this year is of one in Yorkshire on Sep 15

Great White Egret: The Blashford Lakes bird seems to have settled in there now with reports on both Sep 17 and 18

Purple Heron: On Sep 12 one site in the Netherlands reported 98 increasing to 115 on Sep 17

White Stork: One of the migrants that have been passing through the Low Countries was seen at Cuckmere Haven on Sep 16, then at nearby Seaford Head that same day but on Sep 17 it was picked up in that area 'in a moribund state'. Sep 18 brought a further surge of migrants on the continent (33 at one Netherlands site plus 43 at 4 other sites) and two of these seem to have crossed the Channel to appear at Sandwich Bay and Portslade in Brighton, both also on Sep 18

Glossy Ibis: 18 reports of these (all in Britain) during the week show unpredictable behaviour. On Sep 12 there were 21 birds all in Devon having recently arrived from Spain on Sep 7. 20 of them seemingly settled at the mouth of the River Otter (Budleigh Salterton) and one at Aveton Gifford (nearly 6 miles inland up the Devonshire R Avon where the river ceases to be tidal). On Sep 13 at 07:25 in the morning 18 of the 20 flew off, arriving at Dungeness at 15:00 in the afternoon. This flock of 18 only stayed at Dungeness for two days, flying off on Sep 15 and probably picking up an additional bird as on Sep 16 a flock of 19 flew over Catford in London but the flock seems to have then broken up as on Sep 17 single birds were reported in Northhamptonshire and Somerset with three arriving in Ireland (2 in Co Wexford and one in Co Londonderry), then on Sep 18 one was seen over Christchurch Harbour and (probably the same bird) at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, one bird that had been with the big flock was still at the Otter estuary on Sep 17 and the Aveton Gifford bird was still in situ on Sep 18

Spoonbill: This species has been similarly restless this week. At the start of the week there were 10 or 11 birds established in Poole Harbour. A newcomer appeared at the Thorney Great Deeps on Sep 10 and was still there on Sep 11 (no reports since then) and on Sep 12 there was a surge of movement in the Low Countries with 58 at one Netherlands site and 13 at another. Also on Sep 12 one flew east towards the Solent off Barton on Sea (maybe one of the Poole Harbour birds?). On Sep 13 the continental count increased to 149 at one Netherlands site with 20 at another and that day brought a flock of 9 to the north Kent coast (8 of them still there on Sep 15). On Sep 16 the Poole Harbour count was up to 13 (all at Arne) and on Sep 17 there were even more on the continent with 383 seen at a Belgian site plus 219 reported at three other sites. Also on Sep 18 one was seen at the Lymington marshes and one (maybe the same) was at Christchurch Harbour.

Mute Swan: The regular summer Swan herd in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester numbered 128 birds when Brian Fellows was there on Sep 18

Pinkfoot Goose: The first winter arrivals were 52 off Aberdeen on Sep 14 and on Sep 15 Spurn Point reported 745 with another 181 seen at three other sites

Brent Goose: A single dark-bellied bird appeared at Rye Harbour on Sep 15 but was almost certainly one that had summered in England and had succumbed to the instinct to 'migrate' at this time of year (but with no idea of what its destination should be)

Pale-bellied Brent: These breed in Greenland and on Svalbard (off northern Norway) but both communities commute to us via Iceland and arrive on our west coasts. The first to turn up this autumn were a group of 11 seen near Lands End on Sep 12 followed by 276 arriving on Uist on Sep 14 (when another 80 were seen at two other sites). On Sep 17 a group of 10 flew further than they needed to and appeared in Fife on the east coast of Scotland.

Red-breasted Goose: One of these turned up in Belgium on Sep 17 and its origin is unknown. Wild birds of this species come from Arctic Russia and (with no hint of any Dark-bellied Brent arriving in Europe as yet) this bird is unlikely to have made that journey on its own. Most probably it is an escape from a local collection but it is also possible that this was a bird which had joined forces with Pale-bellied Brent during a previous winter, had accompanied them back to Greenland and then flown back with the 10 Pale-bellied birds that appeared in Fife on the day it was seen in Belgium (the Pale-bellied birds showed excess enthusiasm to fly further than they need and the Red-breasted which had been with them just kept going to Belgium!)

Shelduck: The flock of 19 juveniles which Brian Fellows had seen in the Nore Barn area west of Emsworth on Sep 9 were still there on Sep 17

Wigeon: Plenty of these now in our area. On Sep 14 there were 157 in Pagham Harbour and on Sep 17 there were 128 seen in Langstone Harbour from Farlington Marshes and around 120 seen in Chichester Harbour at Nutbourne Bay with 100+ in the Lymington area on Sep 18

Pintail: On Sep 14 there were 40 in Pagham Harbour and on Sep 17 a group of 6 were seen at Hook/Warsash

Garganey: Still a few in this country with the latest being one at the Exminster Marshes on Sep 18

Ferruginous Duck: Two arrived in Somerset on Sep 14 and were still there on Sep 17

Velvet Scoter: The first to be seen anywhere since March was off Cap Gris-nez on Sep 18

Red-breasted Merganser: What may have been the first returning migrant was a single bird off the Netherlands on Sep 18

Honey Buzzard: A trickle of these is still being seen over southern England and this week one was seen over Blendworth Common (adjacent to Havant Thicket) on Sep 13 and another flew over the Cosham area of Portsmouth on Sep 17

Red Kite: One flew south over Farlington Marshes on Sep 18

Hen Harrier: This week a ringtail was seen at Hartland Moor in Dorset on Sep 13 and another flew south past Spurn Point on Sep 15 (along with 16 Marsh Harriers and 54 Kestrels)

Sparrowhawk: These are now on the move with 16 passing over Dungeness on Sep 12 and 5 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 18

Osprey: These are still present in Langstone and Chichester Harbours but at least one left on Sep 17 (flew south from Portland)

Spotted Crake: One had been in the Kent Stour Valley from Aug 10 to 18 but the only other report from southern England so far is of one 'possible' on St Mary's in the Scillies on Sep 11

Moorhen: I was surprised to see one swim for several metres under water in the local Brockhampton Stream when I disturbed it on Sep 16

Common Crane: One arrived at Cuckmere Haven near Beachy Head on Sep 18 where it was last seen near the cliff edge. Other than the imported youngsters that are being nurtured at Slimbridge (reported on Aug 9) this is the first report from southern England since February

Golden Plover: On Sep 17 one was seen at Farlington Marshes after one had been seen at Bracklesham (near Selsey) on Sep 16 and two at Warsash on Sep 11. Flocks of up to 350 are already on the north Kent coast

American Golden Plover: On Sep 16 Bernie Forbes and Dave Smith were birding the Fishbourne Channel area near Chichester when they heard the call of an American Golden Plover flying over and spent one and a half hours searching for it, eventually finding it at the mouth of the Lavant stream but within a few minutes of locating it a Peregrine flew over and flushed all the birds from the area - needless to say the plover was not re-found.

Sanderling: A flock of 212 were on the Pilsey Sands (Thorney Island) on Sep 11

Curlew Sandpiper: 17 were at the Fishbourne Channel in Chichester Harbour on on Sep 16 but the record count remains the 38 at Slimbridge on Sep 11

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: On Sep 14 the RBA website gave a national total of 11 of these in Britain but the only southern birds have been in Devon, Cornwall and the Scillies

Black-tailed Godwit: The biggest flock of Icelandic birds reported this week was of 270 birds in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour on Sep 18 (no doubt there are flocks in excess of 1000 European race birds to be found in north Kent)

Grey Phalarope: On Sep 15 the RBA website gave a total of 8 of these birds currently in Britain but (other than one in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 16) they were all in Devon or further west

Mediterranean Gull: The current hotspot for these is the fields behind the Brownwich Cliffs where 626 were seen on Sep 18

Ring-billed Gull: The bird which has been sporadically seen at Christchurch Harbour since Aug 6 has this week been revealed to have been spending most of its time in the Dorset area of the Avon valley and on Sep 15 it ventured into the Hampshire part of the valley

Terns: The majority of these seem to have now left but Black Terns are still numerous with 20 at Dungeness on Sep 14 and 15 there on Sep 17. One was in the Lymington area on Sep 18

Guillemot: The first reports since March (other than an odd sighting off Portland on Aug 1) came this week with one at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 11 and a count of 9 off the French coast (Brittany) on Sep 17. During the week there were also odd sightings of one or two Razorbill in the Solent

Turtle Dove: The last in southern England seems to have been at Arlington Reservoir near Beachy Head on Sep 11 but there was still one in Belgium on Sep 17

Cuckoo: One was at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 16 and at least two were in the Netherlands on Sep 17

Short-eared Owl: Reports this week come from the Brighton area, Dungeness, Christchurch Harbour and Yorkshire as well as Belgium

Swift: Singles were seen in Sussex and Kent on Sep 16 and in the Netherlands on Sep 17

Kingfisher: One flew up the River Ems at Brook Meadow on Sep 16

Hoopoe: One at Dungeness on Sep 14

Wryneck: I think more Wrynecks have been reported in southern England this autumn than for many years and on Sep 14 the RBA website said there were 9 currently in Britain. Locally the bird in field on the east side of the Hayling Coastal Path opposite the steps which give access to the north of the Oysterbeds area gave good views to many between Sep 13 and 16

Hirundines: Lots of these this week. The biggest count of Sand Martins was just 1000 at Dungeness on Sep 12 where 20,000+ Swallows were also seen that day. The peak count of House Martins was of 10,000+ at Sandwich Bay on Sep 14 and on Sep 18 Geoff Culbertson watched a huge flock emerging from their overnight roost at Herne Farm (a modern housing estate on the east side of Petersfield) - some had roosted in a tree, others on the roof of a house. The birds were seen at 08:24 (at a guess this was when the sun had just warmed the air) and they had all vanished within ten minutes

Passerine migrants: The peak counts for these during the week have been ...

Tree Pipit 19

Meadow Pipit (15,000 at Spurn Point and another 5431 at two other sites)

Red-throated Pipit 1 in Cornwall

Rock Pipit 3

Yellow Wagtail 99

Citrine Wagtail 1

Grey Wagtail 21

Alba Wagtail 125

Dunnock 33 (Netherlands)

Robin 15

Nightingale 1

Black Redstart 1

Common Redstart 10

Whinchat 7

Wheatear 120

Ring Ouzel 1

Grasshopper Warbler 2

Sedge Warbler 12

Reed Warbler 4 (very few of these this autumn)

Lesser Whitethroat 11

Whitethroat 150

Garden Warbler 1

Blackcap 500

Wood Warbler 1

Chiffchaff 225

Willow Warbler 60

Goldcrest 11

Firecrest 2

Spotted Flycatcher 10

Pied Flycatcher 3

Coal Tit 177 (Netherlands)

Blue Tit 440 (Netherlands)

Great Tit 94 (Netherlands)

Swainson's Thrush: One on Fair Isle on Sep 15 was the earliest ever arrival in the British Isles

Song Thrush: Four flew in off the sea at Christchurch Harbour with two Mistle Thrushes on Sep 17

Redwing: First mention this autumn is of one in the Netherlands on Sep 18

Yellow-browed Warbler: One seen in Belgium on Sep 19 seems to be the very first of the winter

Shrikes: Up to four Red-backed in England this week plus one Lesser Grey in the Scillies and the first Great Grey of the winter in Belgium. Also a single Woodchat Shrike somewhere in Britain.

Jay: Massive numbers moving on the continent with a peak of 554 at one Netherlands site on Sep 18 plus 1535 more at 20 other sites that day

Brambling: First of the winter in Germany on Sep 12 followed by one in the Netherlands on Sep 15

Siskin: A few (max 12) reported from Dungeness, Durlston and Christchurch Harbour this week with 2478 reported at a German site on Sep 12

Twite: First report of the autumn is of 6 at a German site on Sep 18

Lapland Bunting: On Sep 13 the RBA website reported a national total of 280 birds and they have been seen at 14 different southern sites including Farlington Marshes (four present on Sep 18) and Lymington Marshes

Snow Bunting: First report of the winter is of one in Cornwall on Sep 17

Reed Bunting: Christchurch Harbour had 49 on Sep 17 but this species is still scarce in southern England

Corn Bunting: One at Beer Head in Devon is giving excitement in that county

Escapees: A House Finch which is normally a resident species in Mexico was seen and heard singing in Cornwall in May and then moved to Devon in June. This is almost certainly an escaped cage bird but hundreds of twitchers have been pestering the residents of East Prawle in Devon recently, stirring up the local 'Home Guard' to the point of denying them access to any properties where the bird may be seen (though if you are lucky you might get a glimpse of it at the Piglet Stores!). Everyone believes the bird is a phoney but it seems to be of great importance to the twitchers to get in on their lists in case the species is ever regarded as a migrant!

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were both seen at Rye Harbour on Sep 18 and these are the only species reported during the week

Butterflies

21 species seen during the week excluding the Pale Clouded Yellow but including ...

Clouded Yellow: These were seen at six coastal sites during the week with Hope Gap near Seaford being the only place to have more three (all the others were singles)

Pale Clouded Yellow: Just one reported from the Netherlands on Sep 13

Browh Hairstreak: Still bing seen at five sites during the week with three seen in the Burgess Hill area on Sep 12

Brown Argus: Still flying on Sep 12 when one was seen on Portsdown and two at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley

Chalkhill Blue: One also seen on Portsdown on Sep 12 with a later sighting near Seaford on Sep 13

Painted Lady: Just one report of two at Dungeness on Sep 12

Wall Brown: On the wing at Durlston as late as Sep 15

Moths

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (Plume Moth): Several emerged inside a house in Sussex from caterpillars feeding on potted Geraniums

September Thorn (1915 Ennomos erosaria): The first of the year seen at Steyning on Sep 11

Light Emerald (1961 Campaea margaritata): Another first at Steyning on Sep 11

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (1972 Agrius convolvuli): Four reports from Portland and one from Durlston this week

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Three reports this week

Hedge Rustic (2177 Tholera cespitis): First of the year in the Rye area on Sep 13

Lunar Underwing (2270 Omphaloscelis lunosa): Also a first at Rye on Sep 13

Frosted Orange (2364 Gortyna flavago): Another first taken at Portland on Sep 15

Clifden Nonpareil (2451 Catocala fraxini): Best report of the week - one seen on a wall at Crowhurst near Hastings on Sep 16 but thought to be a Red Underwing until it slightly opened its wings the next day to reveal the blue on the hindwings

Caterpillars: A moth evening at Steyning on Sep 11 attracted two local residents who had recently seen and photgraphed Death's Head Hawkmoth caterpillars on their potato plants. There were also three more finds of Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars with one find showing that they do appear on Rosebay Willowherb as well as Fuchsias.

Other Insects

Glow-worm larva: One was seen in the Beachy Head area on Sep 7 and its photo was posted on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation website with a plea for someone to identify it (which was done this week)

Rosemary Leaf Beetle: One reported at Dungeness on Sep 13

Bush Crickets: Speckled, Grey and Dark all seen this week

Forest Bug: 8 seen on a fence at Rye Harbour on Sep 14

Box Bug (Gonocerus acuteangulatus): One seen at Rye Harbour on Sep 14. This rare species has started to spread from its original only site (Box Hill in Surrey) and was new to Sussex in 2002

Western Conifer Seed Bug: Seen at Dungeness on Sep 11 and 13 (new arrivals from the continent?) with a more unexpected find in Fareham on Sep 13. Also reported from Thanet on Sep 14

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Creeping Yellowcress: An unexpected find flowering in an arable field in Stansted East Park on Sep 17

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima): Flowering on the causeway to the Black Point Sailing Club on Hayling on Sep 11

Field Pennycress: All but one of the plants found in Juniper Square (Havant) on Sep 11 had been mown with the roadside grass by Sep 16. Another single plant found in a field at Stubbermere near Southleigh Forest on Sep 17

Common Milkwort and Fairy Flax: Both still flowering in the Watergate area north of Walderton (Ems valley) on Sep 18. Black Bindweed also seen here still in flower

Early Dog Violet: Several flowers of this seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Sep 14

Lesser Sea Spurrey: Flowering at the Nore Barn site west of Emsworth on Sep 15 and 17

Cut Leaved Cranesbill: One plant still flowering in the East Park at Stansted on Sep 19 (Germander Speedwell was also flowering nearby)

Bush Vetch: One freshly flowering plant at Racton in the Ems valley was a surprise on Sep 17

Yellow Flowered Strawberry: The first two flowers since January were out in Juniper Square (Havant) on Sep 16

Dwarf Spurge: Several flowering plants found in the stubble field at Conigar Point (Warblington Farm) on Sep 15

Hemlock: Just one freshly flowering plant on the Budds Farm shore on Sep 16

Autumn Gentian: This got a mention at Durlston on Sep 12 for the first time since Aug 3 - the species seems to be having a poor year

Wild Clary: The plants at Christopher Way in Emsworth are still producing new flowers

Field Woundwort: Several plants flowering in the stubble of the Conigar Point field at Warblington on Sep 15

Nettle-leaved Bellflower: Two plants still flowering in Woodlands Lane at Walderton on Sep 17

Small Teasel: The only local colony which I know of (at the road junction at Racton in the Ems valley) still had white flowers on at least one of its flowerheads on Sep 17

Butcher's Broom: The first flowers of the new season were out on these plants at Warblington Farm on Sep 15

Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Spartina patens): A small clump of this American plant has mysteriously arrived on Thorney Island where it is, I think, the only foothold that this species has anywhere in Europe - thanks to Brian Fellows for unearthing this information

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fungi: Honey Fungus gets its first mention for this autumn with a report from Durlston on Sep 14 as does the lovely Amethyst Deceiver which I saw in Southleigh Forest on Sep 17 with the bright red caps of Russula emetica (The Sickener). Also seen on Sep 17 in the East Park at Stansted was the Yellow Fieldcap (Bolbitius vitellinus) and at the Stansted Sawmill I not only saw a mass of fresh Sulphur Tuft but also a tree stump covered with Psathyrella piluliformis (Common Stump Brittlestem). The most intriguing find of the week was made by John Sawtell on a roadside earth bank below a couple of Yew trees at the junction of Emsworth and Bellair Roads in Havant (just east of the East Street bridge over the Billy Line). John had seen several fungi pushing up through the layer of Yew 'needles' on this very dry bank and asked me if I could name them. When I saw them on Sep 18 I did not recognise them so I collected one specimen for examination at home where I decided that they were probably an Agaricus species but the brown colour of the cap was untypical so when I found that Agaricus lanipes had a brown cap, usually grew under Yews, and was of the right size (Cap 9cm and stem 10x2cm) I investigated that species further. I found that it was uncommon but has been found across the south of England (only some half dozen records for Hampshire) and that its flesh colour should change from white to red on cutting (which my specimen did when cut its stem, though not the cap). I then took some photos and sent them with my notes to the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group to see what they thought - I have not yet had a reply but will hopefully have an expert opinion for next week's summary.

Other reports of fungi this week come from Durlston where Yellow Stainers could be seen on Sep 18 and where, on Sep 14, Dead Mans Fingers and Candlesnuff were seen. Going back to my Stansted trip on Sep 17 I was puzzled by the bright orange colour of a tiny fungus on a dead Beech log - I have put a photo, not my own, in my Diary entry for that day to indicate the colour and the source of that photo helps to confirm my eventual opinion that this was Hypoxylon fragiforme (Beech Woodwart) which does vary greatly in colour with age (ending black) but which I have never before found showing such a bright colour. Finally I added Bushing Bracket to my Stansted finds that day.

After writing this on Sep 19 I found the first Parrot Waxcap on my lawn to mark the opening of the season for these species of which several usual appear on my lawn


Wildlife diary and news for Sep 6 - 12 (Week 36 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

My regular source of Devon Birding News dried up at the beginning of this year but I am pleased to see that the Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society now has someone prepared to gather the local news and put in on the web at http://devonbirdnews.blogspot.com/

Another aspect of reporting sightings was highlighted this week when describing the location of a particular ant hill on which Wryneck droppings had been seen last year and were found again this year (though the bird was not seen). I am certainly not in favour of broadcasting precise locations of birds nests or encouraging people to trespass on private land but providing a general location for a sighting certainly helps me to put news into geographical context.

One of the problems in providing such location information is that place names that are meaningful to one group of people may be unknown to the majority of internet readers (and may be difficult for them to track down as the names do not appear on standard maps).

By far the best way of indicating locations is by OS grid reference, a system which allows you to be as vague or as precise as you feel is appropriate (from a 10km Square reference - e.g. SU 70 - through a 1 km reference - SU 7203 - to a six figure reference - SU 688034 for the Point of Farlington Marshes - to an 8 or even 10 figure reference which can be pinpointed on both the OS map and the Google satellite photo shown by the http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm website. (If anyone is still unfamiliar with the OS reference system they should look at the guide provided by the OS and used by the Sussex Ornithological Society in their procedure for submitting sightings - see http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/gi/nationalgrid/nationalgrid.pdf )

The anthill which caused me trouble in locating it was said to be on north Hayling at Creek Common but as no specific grid reference was given the HOS Going Birding site gave a default map for north Hayling indicating the report related to SU 7303 (Northney Marsh on the eastern shore of Hayling). A Google search for Creek Common took me to a Hampshire CC 'Visitors Guide to Coastal Sites' ( http://www3.hants.gov.uk/coastpage/ourrole/visguide.htm ) as Creek Common is the name of one of the sites (number 20 in this list) managed by the county. This gives the location as "Creek Common: (SU 715 020) Hayling Island. Coastal grassland/saltmarsh between Hayling Billy Coastal Path and Langstone Bridge. Car park at North Hayling near filling station. Contact Tel: 023 9247 6411" This defines the Oysterbeds area and the map ref is for a point well south of the Oysterbeds by the Pill Box where the path from the bends in West Lane road meets the Coastal Path. There is however a separate map ( http://www3.hants.gov.uk/coastpage/facts-figures/coastmap.htm ) showing the location of each of the sites and it shows number 20 (Creek Common) at the site of Northney Marina in SU 7204. These three points (in SU 7102, SU 7204 and SU 7303) hardly help to pinpoint the location of the individual ant hill (which I guess was in the field at around SU 718037 (east of the Billy Line and south of the path linking the Billy Line to the Langstone Bridge area though it may have been in what I know of as the 'Hoopoe Field' at SU 717023).

Adding the reference SU 7103 to the sighting report would not have endangered the life of the Wryneck and would have saved me a lot of time in trying to find out where Creek Common (a name I had not previously heard of) might be.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: The time when we start to see them along the south coast is getting closer. On Sep 6 three 'Diver Species' were off the German coast and on Sep 9 a Black-throated was seen off Spurn Point as it headed south down the North Sea

Grebes: One report of a Red-necked off the Netherlands coast on Sep 10 and on Sep 8 one Black-necked was at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) with another seen in Pagham lagoon on Sep 9. Two more Black-necked were seen on Sep 7, one off the north Kent coast at Seasalter and the other off the French Normandie coast

Shearwaters: On Sep 6 one Sooty was off Christchurch Harbour and on Sep 9 five were off Lands End and two off the Netherlands. Plenty of Balearic off the west country (peak counts of 52 seen from Porthgwarra near Lands End on Sep 9 and 56 off Start Point in Devon on Sep 10 when there were 37 off Portland and 27 as far east as Christchurch). At Pendeen on the north coast of Cornwall (just 7 miles as the Crow flies from Lands End) a probable Little Shearwater was claimed on Sep 9. This would be the North Atlantic or Macronesian Shearwater (Puffinus baroli) which breeds in the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, not the southern Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis). The BTO had 59 records of the northern species seen in British Waters up to 2007.

Shag: One flew past Selsey Bill on Sep 7 and one was seen from Sandy Point off the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Sep 8

Little Egret: 167 came to roost at the Thorney Island Little Deeps site on the evening of Sep 7 and on Sep 9 I counted 147 entering the Langstone Mill Pond site (only 3.5 Km west of the Little Deeps). It is almost certain that both sites are in concurrent use by a population of around 300 Little Egrets and there may well be more that spend their nights in the Tournerbury Wood site on Hayling near the mouth of Chichester Harbour

Grey Heron: On Sep 6 a group of five Herons flew past Berry Head (Brixham on the south Devon coast) but much bigger movements have been reported from the low countries - on Sep 5 one site in Belgium had 64 Herons while five sites in the Netherlands reported 'remarkable' counts of 46, 41, 18, 6 and 5 Herons respectively.

Glossy Ibis: On Sep 7 a field by the River Otter at Budleigh Salterton in Devon acquired a flock of 20 young Ibis, several with rings showing they had come from Spain, and another Ibis flew over Burton Bradstock in Dorset that day. On Sep 8 an isolated bird flew over Lodmoor (Weymouth). The flock of 20 were still present on Sep 11 and more had arrived in England on Sep 9 when five flew west over the Thanet area of Kent and four went over Boscastle in Cornwall (while another turned up in Kildare in Ireland)

Sacred Ibis: Just one at a Netherlands site on Sep 6

Spoonbill: 11 were in Poole Harbour on Sep 6 and 8 (and are probably still there) with plenty of others around. One Sep 5 a Belgian site had 41 (with possibly just over 100 at other sites in the Low Countries that day) and on Sep 7 one was in the Scillies. On Sep 7 one flew over Lodmoor (Weymouth) and on Sep 8 two were seen at Isley Marsh on the Taw-Torridge estuary near Barnstable in north Devon. On Sep 9 one was in the Thanet area of Kent and on Sep 10 one spent the day at the Thorney Island Great Deeps

Geese: These are gathering into large flocks and moving to winter quarters. At Pulborough Brooks 300 Greylags and 550 Canadas were present on Sep 5 with 53 Greylags at Eastleigh Lakeside on Sep 8 and 39 Greylags at Mansbridge (just north of Southampton) on Sep 10. Also on Sep 10 a couple of Snow Geese turned up at Titchfield Haven. The appearance of a single Brent at the entrance to Chichester Harbour on Sep 8 provoked a confident claim that the first migrant had arrived but sadly there has been no further evidence of this and the bird is more likely to have been one of the 15 summering birds seen in Chichester Harbour on Aug 29 or one of those summering in Langstone Harbour (where one was also seen from Farlington Marshes on Sep 8)

Shelduck: The flock of 10 Shelduck (mostly juveniles) which I saw off the Warblington shore (between Langstone and Emsworth) on Aug 16 had grown to 19 birds when Brian Fellows saw them off Nore Barn (close to my sighting) on Sep 9. I do not know where the extra birds came from but I do know that some Shelduck nest several miles inland (typically where a tree has fallen and created a sheltered hole where its roots once were) and their young have a long and hazardous journey to the coast on foot (crossing the A27 and the electrified railway en route). Maybe the extra 9 birds are survivors of such journeys though they may have come from Hayling to Thorney Island.

Wigeon: These are now present in our area in substantial numbers - 57 in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 8 when 34 were seen at Farlington Marshes, 53 in the Redbridge area at Southampton and 100 at Slimbridge by Sep 12. The Thorney Island Great Deeps had 450 on Sep 10

Pintail: Only 8 at the Thorney Deeps on Sep 10 when there were 10 at Farlington Marshes. The first of the autumn (8 birds) arrived at Pulborough Brooks on Sep 8 after 5 had been seen at Hook (Warsash) on Sep 6 and 12 ('probables' seen distantly and presumably just passing through) had been reported at Gilkicker Point (Gosport) on Sep 5

Shoveler: 27 were at the Lymington Marshes on Sep 9 and 74 at Rye Harbour on Sep 11

Honey Buzzard: Sightings in southern England this week were on Sep 4 at West Grinstead near Pulborough, on Sep 5 at Dungeness, and on Sep 7 in the Thanet area of Kent

Montagu's Harrier: On Sep 6 a juvenile was still hunting the Downs in the Balsdean area north of Rottingdean near Brighton (with another at Tresco in the Scillies) and on Sep 9 a juvenile was hunting near Abbotsbury in Dorset

Osprey: On Sep 10 there may have been 7 of them in Dorset at various sites but that day seems to have been the first since the end of July that one was not to be seen over Thorney Island (a juvenile which flew south over the island on Sep 9 was the last to be seen by Barry Collins). In Hampshire there were still at least three (at Titchfield Haven, Blashford Lakes and Fishlake Meadows at Romsey) on Sep 10

Dotterel: This species was still to be seen in the Scillies and Devon on Sep 5 and 6 but the only report since then is of one in the Netherlands on Sep 8

Sanderling: 266 were roosting on the Hayling Bay shore on Sep 8 along with 250 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin

Curlew Sandpiper: Plenty of these around now with 2 at Farlington Marshes on Sep 10, 2 at Pulborough Brooks on Sep 7, 3 at Rye Harbour on Sep 8, at least 6 on the Lymington Marshes on Sep 8, 14 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 8, 10 by the Fishbourne Channel at Chichester on Sep 7 and 38 at Slimbridge on Sep 11

Purple Sandpiper: First I have heard of this autumn was 1 at St Agnes (Scillies) on Sep 7

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Up to 4 on the Scillies this week

Black-tailed Godwit: Numbers on the south coast continue to build with reports on Sep 10 of 200 at Farlington Marshes, 150 in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester, 119 at the Thorney Great Deeps and 79 at Yarmouth on the IoW. On Sep 5 there were 144 at the Hook area near Warsash and they were still probably there at the end of the week with other good but unreported flocks at the Lymington Marshes and other sites

Greenshank: The WeBS count at the Thorney Island Great Deeps on Sep 10 found 107 Greenshank - the highest count I know of anywhere in the south this year.

Wilson's Phalarope: One in the Kent Stour Valley on Sep 9 and 10 was a first ever for the site. Singles were also seen in Cornwall (Hayle) on Sep 6 and the Scillies (Tresco) on Sep 8.

Red-necked Phalarope: One was at Slimbridge from Sep 6 to 11 (at least)

Black-headed Gull: One caught the attention of George Spraggs on the south Hayling shore on Sep 7 when he noticed it was flying with a Cockle attached to its foot. This is not a unique occurrence - small waders regularly lose feet or even whole legs when they accidentally step into the open mouth of a shell fish (particularly a big one such as a Clam) and the shell fish naturally reacts to the intrusion by immediately closing its shell. I remember being told of an incident at the Langstone Royal Oak pub (can't remember the date) when a Gull was seen trying, but failing, to take off from the water. A boat was sent to find out what the trouble was and it brought back the gull with a large shellfish clamped to its foot. The bird was taken into the back room of the pub and the mallet used for breaking open Oysters was used to smash the shellfish without further damage to the gull which then flew off into the sunset!

Terns: All regular species still being seen this week with 9 Little Terns off Gilkicker (Gosport) on Sep 5, 3 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 9 and 64 at a Netherlands site on Sep 10. At least 53 Black Terns were at a Netherlands site on Sep 11 with 2 off Portland on Sep 10 and one at Slimbridge on Sep 11. On Sep 10 the RBA website reported two White-winged Black Terns, one in Cambridge and one in Leicestershire

Razorbill: The first I have heard of on the south coast since the spring was seen at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 6

Turtle Dove: A few still to be seen - the latest being one 'purring' at Durlston on Sep 10

Cuckoo: A few juveniles still around - on Sep 8 one was seen in the Langstone village area and one at south Hayling. On Sep 9 one was at Climping (mouth of River Arun) and on Sep 10 one was at Oare Marshes on the north Kent coast. On Sep 11 one was in Belgium and one in Netherlands

Tawny Owl: I think these set up winter territories in the autumn and several reports of these owls calling at night seem to indicate this has started. On Sep 9 George Spraggs located at least two males and one female calling in the dark in the West Town area of Hayling around his home

Short-eared Owl: One seen at Seaford Head near Newhaven on Sep 9. Others had been seen there and at nearby Hope Gap on Sep 1

Swift: Latest report from England was of one in the Titchfield Common area near Fareham on Sep 9 with others that day near Lewes and in Kent. On Sep 11 around a dozen were still to be seen in the Netherlands

Hoopoe: Just one report this week from a garden in the Hill Road area of Southampton on Sep 10

Wryneck: I have picked up at least 30 reports this week and the RBA site gave a total of 45 birds in the UK on Sep 7

Sand Martin: 170 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 9 and 200 over Titchfield Haven on Sep 10

Swallow: On Sep 9 Spurn Point reported 18,250 coming south down our east coast and on Sep 10 Dungeness had more than 12,000 passing over

House Martin: A few resident birds can still be seen over Havant but Sep 10 brought an estimated count of 5000 passing over Sandwich Bay in Kent

Richard's Pipit: When writing my diary entry for Sep 9 in which I queried the identity of a 'big Pipit' seen in the Chidham area east of Thorney Island I ruled out Richard's Pipit as the date was too early (they do not normally start to appear until after mid-September) but sure enough one was reported in the Netherlands that very day. Another thing learnt after the event was that the tail dipping behaviour of my 'big Pipit' is unlikely to be diagnostic as the whole group of Wagtails and Pipits are classified under the scientific name of Motacillidae and I have read that they get that name because they all display tailwagging to a greater or lesser degree (the name is apparently derived from the Latin for 'moving' or 'motion' (Mota) and the Latin for tail (the name for the hair-like vibrating organs which act as 'tails' to drive microscopic organisms through water is 'cilia').

Tawny Pipit: In addition to several near Continent sightings since mid-August it seems one was briefly seen at the Lymington Marshes on Sep 2 (but in a private area). Water Pipit in winter plumage was a good candidate for the id of my 'big Pipit' but I have not seen any records of the species since March

Tree Pipit: Sep 8 brought 20 to Portland and 23 to Christchurch Harbour with other sightings all along the coast this week

Meadow Pipit: Their passage is now under way with Christchurch Harbour having 119 on Sep 8 and Spurn Point having 5360 coming south on Sep 9. Rye Harbour had 150 on Sep 10

Red-throated Pipit: The first and so far only mention of this species for the autumn is of one in the Netherlands on Sep 9

Yellow Wagtail: Still plenty to be seen. On Sep 8 there were 50 at Farlington Marshes and 25 on south Hayling, then on Sep 9 Climping (mouth of R Arun) had 150+

Grey Wagtail: More of these on the move with a peak of 28 seen at Sandwich Bay on Sep 9 (three went over Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 8)

Max counts for other passerines at the coast this week have been: Nightingale 1, Black Redstart 1, Common Redstart 17, Whinchat 56 (at Sandwich Bay on Sep 7), Wheatear 100, Blackbird 30, Grasshopper Warbler 11, Aquatic Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 70, Marsh Warbler 1 (trapped and ringed at Titchfield Haven on Sep 5), Reed Warbler 25, Icterine Warbler 2, Melodious Warbler 1, Barred Warbler (RBA give a UK total of 21 on Sep 7), Lesser Whitethroat 14, Common Whitethroat 250, Garden Warbler 3, Blackcap 500+, Wood Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 270, Willow Warbler 60, Firecrest 5, Spotted Flycatcher 45, Pied Flycatcher 3,

Zitting Cisticola (or Fan-tailed Warbler): One in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 9

Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike: One seen by many birders at Felicia Park in Gosport on Sep 11 after being found by John Norton on Sep 10

Red-backed Shrike: At least five birds in southern England this week including a juvenile at the Southampton Docks on Sep 8 and one seen for 20 minutes on the Portsmouth North Harbour IBM site on Sep 10

Lesser Grey Shrike: One had been in Norfolk on Aug 17 and 18 and this week one has turned up on St Mary's (Scillies) on Sep 8

Crossbill: At last some sign of a mass movement. On Sep 11 there were 93 at a Belgian site and nine other continental sites reported a total of 129 more birds

Lapland Bunting: On Sep 7 the RBA site said there was a total of 92 birds in the UK. Those in the south seem to have been in the Scillies, Cornwall or Kent

Ortolan Bunting: Among this week's reports were singles at Beachy Head and Portland

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Still on the wing this week were Southern and Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters plus (on Sep 4) one of the Willow Emerald Damsels which have been in the Reculver area of north Kent since Aug 20

Butterflies

23 species still flying this week plus a reported Swallowtail on the continent. The list included ...

Clouded Yellow: Between Sep 3 and 10 there were ten reports of sightings at six coastal sites from Seasalter and Dungeness in Kent through Hope Gap (near Seaford) and Mill Hill at Shoreham to Portland and inland in Hampshire to Longstock on the River Test. No more than 4 were seen at any one site

Brown Hairstreak: Probably the last of the year in Sussex on Sep 6

Long-tailed Blue: One of these was photographed on Portland on Sep 8 but only become known to the staff at the Bird Observatory when the photos appeared on the 'I Spot' website set up by the Open University to encourage the public to submit pictures they have taken for identification by experts - it certainly worked in this case. To see the pictures submitted and the expert comment go to http://ispot.org.uk/node/76244

Painted Lady: Seen at three sites in the Eastbourne area on Sep 4, 5 and 7. The last sighting was of two on Seaford Head

Gatekeeper: Almost certainly the last was seen on Sep 4 at Hope Gap near Seaford (with three Wall Browns also seen there that day)

Moths

Species which caught my attention this week were the first reports of Striped Hawkmoth (Sep 8 and 9), six reports of Convolvulus Hawkmoth between Sep 4 and 9, one sighting of Hummingbird Hawkmoth on Sep 9, and finds of Privet and Elephant Hawk caterpillars. Other macro moths of interest were Neglected Rustic (a new species for the Portland site), Feathered Gothic at Portland where Wood Carpet was also seen and Centre-barred Sallow (Thanet area of Kent). Micros were Orange Swift at Dungeness, Catoptria falsella at Portland and Palpita vitrealis (Thanet in Kent).

Other Insects

Bloody Nosed Beetle: 16 found at Seaford Head on Sep 7 along with a fast running beetle larva which matches the picture of a Ground Beetle larva in my Collins Guide to Insects but that does not help to tie it down to a species

Lesser Bloody-nosed Beetle: Two were found mating at Durlston on Sep 6

Oak Bush Cricket: My diary entry for Sep 7 describes how I found one of these stuck to the lid of my Wheely Bin by the surface tension of a pool of water holding down its wings and how I hopefully gave it a new lease of life

Shield Bug: While counting Egrets coming to roost at Langstone Pond on the evening of Sep 9 a dull brown Shield Bug with reddish legs persistently crawled up my trouser legs (luckily on the outside) doing this at least four times until I managed to send it far enough away so that it did not return. It was probably a Forest Bug but could have been Picromerus bidens (or some other species!)

Western Conifer Seed Bug: The first report for this autumn of what may well have been an insect which had just flown across the Channel and was seeking refuge by coming in the open window of a house in Broadstairs (Thanet) was made on Sep 7

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Brackish Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotii): Still a few flowers on the plants in the Havant Homewell spring pool seen on Sep 11

Field Pennycress: A cluster of at least a dozen fresh plants had just sprung up on roadside verge grass in Juniper Square in Havant when I passed on Sep 11 - just one had seeds at this stage.

Greater Sea Spurrey: I was surprised to find a lot of this in flower at Nutbourne Bay on Sep 9

Marsh Mallow: Plenty of this at the Cobnor Point site in Chichester Harbour on Sep 9 but the flowers were past their best

Small Flowered Cranesbill: Still flowering on the road island where cars turn outside Bosmere School at the southern end of South Street in Havant on Sep 11

Ivy: The very first flower of the season was out in Havant on Sep 10

Lesser Snapdragon or Weasels Snout: Fresh flowering on plants at the Havant New Lane allotments on Sep 7

Grey Field Speedwell: Fresh flowering in my neighbours garden here in Havant on Sep 9

Lesser Skullcap: Several plants in flower in Havant Thicket on Sep 6

Narrow-leaved Ragwort: I first came across this recent invader from continental Europe a few years ago and on Sep 9 I found the plants still flowering at the same site in Farm Lane at Nutbourne - so far this is the only site I know of for the species in our area though it is continuing to spread in southern England

OTHER WILDLIFE

Seals: Last week 17 or 18 Common Seals were seen hauled up on the mud west of Thorney Island in Chichester Harbour and this week Sep 10 brought a report of 16 Common and 1 Grey Seal there. The Grey may have been the animal that was seen near Warsash on Sep 7 and described as a 'bull looking sick'. Another report on Sep 10 came from the Camber area of Rye Bay where one Common Seal was hauled out but this may well have come from the North Sea population 'round the corner' of Kent.

Marsh Frog: On Sep 4 a birder at the Cliffe Pools in NW Kent was overtaken by darknesss before he got back to his car and said that he was accompanied on the final stages of his walk by a chorus of Marsh Frogs. While checking on the current status of this species I found that it is one of three species of 'Green Frog' that can be found in England (Marsh, Edible and Pool Frog) of which the first two are introductions but the Pool Frog is thought to be native though it became extinct here in 1995 but has since been re-introduced in East Anglia. Marsh Frogs are I think still spreading in this country after first appearing in the Romney Marshes and can be found in the Lewes Brooks by the Sussex Ouse, at Rainham Marshes in the London area, in the Shatterford/Beaulieu Road area of the New Forest and as far west as the Somerset Levels. The website of the Surrey group of the Amphibian and Reptile Group tells us how this spread started. "In 1935 the wife of E.P. Smith, MP for Ashford, wanted to surprise him with some edible French frogs to put in the garden. Unfortunately French frogs were unavailable so she bought some large Hungarian frogs instead. These promptly escaped from their garden in Stone-in-Oxney and spread across the ditches of the Marsh with great success: colonising the entire Romney Marsh area by the 1960s." (I wonder if the cost of buying them went on the MPs expenses as with more recent 'water features' in MPs gardens). Latest news on these Frogs can be found in the story carried by the Daily Mail last month on Police time spent investigating 'noise nuisance' caused by the Frogs in Essex (see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1299853/What-waste-OUR-money-Now-police-spend-time-launching-probe---noisy-FROGS.html )

Adder: Last week we had a report of an Adder at Durlston fattening up preparatory to hibernation by swallowing a Mouse and this week another 'fat' Adder was seen at Mill Hill (Shoreham) while Brian Fellows website carries news of dogs being bitten by Adders - see his diary entries for Sep 5 and 6 at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm

Fungi: My Diary entry for Sep 6 lists fungi I found in Havant Thicket and on Sep 7 I found a couple of Giant Puffballs in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery. On Sep 10 I see that the first Parasol Mushroom was seen at Durlston while on that same day I found a troop of Collybia dryophila (Russet Toughshank) in my Havant garden


Wildlife diary and news for Aug 30 - Sep 5 (Week 35 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: The first Red-throated was seen off Dungeness on Aug 24 and this week there have been sightings of two off the Netherlands and one in Geman waters. The first Black-throated has also been reported in French waters near Calais

Grebes: 45 Great Crested were in Langstone Harbour on Aug 30 as autumn dispersal brings them south. Single Red-necked were seen off the Netherlands on Aug 28 and 30 while nearer home Black-necked have begun arriving in Hampshire - on Aug 27 Jason Crook saw one in the Langstone Channel off the Hayling Oysterbeds and on Aug 29 one was on Fleet Pond in north Hampshire, probably using it as a staging post rather than a winter destination. On Aug 28 a group of four were off Ouistreham on the Normandie coast of France and another three off Le Clipon near Calais

Bittern: These seem to have been returning to south coast sites earlier than usual this year. One was back at Lodmoor (Weymouth) by July 22 and one was seen to arrive at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on Aug 1 (in addition to those which already, I think, breed in Kent). Another reached Dungeness on Aug 2. This week one was seen on Aug 30 at Hatch Pond in the Poole Harbour area of Dorset

Grey Heron: In more northerly countries (e.g. Iceland and northern Scandinavia) Herons are migratory, flying south at this time of year, but in Britain they tend to be resident but move about over large areas - during the breeding season I think they will fly up to 40 miles from a Heronry to catch fish for their young and at this time of year the young birds disperse to find somewhere that they can call their own and not be subject to the wrath of older birds with established fishing rights (I have heard of one youngster which persistently attempted to muscle in on the fishing beat of an older bird being chased off and eventually killed by the older bird which crushed the youngsters brain box with its own powerful beak). When not fishing they are more gregarious and gather in groups (called 'Sieges' as they stand like sentries, keeping a respectful distance from each other, around the established safe place chosen to rest and digest their meals). In my experience the birds in such a group come and go from the 'siege' site as individuals and in no sense operate as a flock.

Reports of birds moving over coastal sites such as Portland show that August is a month in which such dispersal is at a peak but this past month has seen more reports than usual, culminating with two reports of apparent group 'passage' movements. On Aug 31 a group of 21 birds were seen flying southwest in V-formation over Blackfield village near Fawley on the edge of Southampton Water (the reporter gave what I believe to be a wrong map reference in his entry on the HOS 'Goingbirding' site - his reference SU4430 would place the birds over open country to the west of Winchester while Blackfield village is centred on SU4401). Then on Sep 1 a group of around 20 birds flew west over north Thorney and along the Sweare Deep channel past north Hayling towards Langstone Harbour. I have not come across similar reports in the past but wonder if a good breeding season (or signs of a hard winter to come) has forced mass dispersal over a long distance from somewhere to the north east of us (possibly as far away as Scandinavia?)

White Stork: Over in Europe these birds are now leaving for their winter quarters - Sep 4 bought reports on the Trektellen site from ten locations in the Netherlands and Belgium which covered a total of 318 birds (assuming no duplication) and with a minimum count of 112 going over a single site in the Netherlands. As with most migratory species some individuals do not have as good a sense of direction as others and this may account for a sighting of 2 adult White Storks at Sutton Bingham reservoir in Somerset on Aug 31 - further proof of their poor sense of direction came when these two flew on north the following morning.

Brent Goose: Still no hint of migrant arrival but Aug 29 brought a sighting of 15 summering birds in the Thorney Island area

Wigeon: These are starting to arrive in southern England - 30 had been seen at Dungeness on Aug 27 and this week another 30 were in Pagham Harbour on Aug 31 while Pulborough Brooks on Sep 1 reported the overnight arrival of 30 there. Three were seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 1, 17 were at Hook near Warsash on Sep 2 and 24 were at Brading Marshes on the IoW on Sep 3

Teal: Pagham Harbour had 150 on Aug 31 and Pulborough Brooks had 120+ on Sep 3 with other sites reporting smaller numbers.

Pintail: 17 were seen in Pagham Harbour on Aug 31, two were over Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 1 when at least one had reached Hook near Warsash (8 Shoveler were also new at Hook that day).

Pochard: On Sep 1 a pair were 'new in' at the Breech Pool on the north wall of Pagham Harbour

Fudge Duck?: On Aug 30 I had a brief view of a bird sleeping on the eastern pool at Budds Farm which drifted out from the poolside cover before vanishing back into it. I only had a rear view but that showed the large bright white undertail patch which (with the overall dark colour of what I could see of the rest of the plumage) suggested this might be the regular Pochard x Ferruginous hybrid back again for the winter

Goosander: A hint that these are now on the way south comes from the Trektellen site reporting 8 on Sep 3 at a site in Fife (Scotland) where they are not usually seen

Honey Buzzard: Reports on the Trektellen website show large numbers of Honey Buzzards moving through southern Spain towards the straits of Gibralter where they will cross to Africa - 355 moved over Mirador de las aquilas on Aug 28 and on Sep 2 the number recorded there was up to 475. I was aware that many of these come from Scandinavia and Trektellen has proof of this with a count of 714 passing over a site close to Lubeck on the German Baltic coast on Aug 28. Very few of these are seen in southern England but this week one went south over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 30 while on Sep 1 singles were seen over Pulborough Brooks, Poole Harbour and Sandy Point on Hayling. On Sep 2 one was seen over Birling Gap (Beachy Head) and another over the Pagham Harbour visitor centre.

Hen Harrier: The only report from southern England so far remains the one seen near Seaford in East Sussex on Aug 24 but this week one was over Normandie in France on Sep 1 with three over a Netherlands site on Sep 4

Montagu's Harrier: On Aug 30 a juvenile was seen over the Sussex Downs near Woodingdean in the Brighton area and on Sep 1 one was seen in the Scillies

Merlin: One was seen in the Fishbourne Channel area near Chichester on Sep 2 when another was seen at Durlston

Spotted Crake: Two had been seen in the Kent Stour Valley between Aug 10 and 18 but no more have yet been reported in southern England though up to four were in the Netherlands on Sep 1 and 2. We did however have a single Corncrake seen in the Scillies on Aug 31

Avocet: The winter flock in Poole Harbour was up to 165 birds on Aug 31 (after 46 on Aug 10) and one of the passing birds was at Farlington Marshes on Aug 31 and two were a Titchfield Haven on Sep 4 (62 adults and 15 juveniles were seen there in June)

Stone Curlew: A single bird was seen at Portland on Sep 2 on its way south

Dotterel: This week gave me nine reports of this species seen on passage on both sides of the channel. One was heard as it flew over the north Kent coast on Sep 3 and on Sep 1 Cornwall had 2 while the Scillies reported 3. Top score was 10 at a Belgian site on Sep 3 (with another one at a different site in Belgium that day)

Golden Plover: Walking around Thorney Island on Bank Holiday (Aug 30) Ewan Urquhart came on 'flocks' of both Golden and Grey Plover with some still in summer plumage

Knot: Jason Crook saw 3 at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 27 and 4 were seen at the Fishbourne Channel while up to 40 were at the Lymington marshes on Aug 28

Pectoral Sandpiper: One had been seen at Bude in Cornwall on Aug 2 but the first of this season in central southern England was one in Pagham Harbour on Aug 29. Also on that day there was a 'probable' White-rumped Sandpiper at Rye Harbour

Bar-tailed Godwit: Pete Hughes (warden of Pulborough Brooks) took a day off on Bank Holiday (Aug 30) to walk down the west side of Thorney Island during which he saw the first substantial flock of around 100 Bar-tailed Godwits to be reported in the Solent Harbours this aurumn

Red-necked Phalarope: Aug 28 and 29 brought reports of this species from the north French coast and on Aug 31 juveniles were seen on Sheppey (north Kent) and at Slimbridge on the Severn estuary (this latter bird was still there on Sep 3)

Skuas: A wave of passage birds moving south through the English Channel on Aug 30 gave a count of 445 Arctic off Cap Gris-nez in France with 3 Poms nearby at Le Clipon, 8 Long-tailed off the Netherlands and 398 Bonxies at Cap Griz-nez plus around 400 reported from other coastal sites in France and Netherlands that day - we saw little of this movement (just 3 Bonxies at Dungeness that day with 1 Long-tailed at Sandwich Bay, 1 Pom on the north Kent coast and 14 Arctics at Dungeness).

Ring-billed Gull: The first summer bird which has been at Christchurch Harbour since Aug 6 was still there on Sep 3

Common Tern: Jason Crook tells us that the very last two chicks at the Hayling Oysterbeds this summer flew off with one of their parents on Aug 27 to bring the total that successfully fledged there this year to 82. There were still 7 adult Little Terns in the area that day but as far as I know no young Little Terns fledged at the Oysterbeds this year though a few may have done so out on the RSPB Islands in Langstone Harbour and I think a few more fledged in Pagham Harbour and at Rye Harbour though I have no substantiated figures

Black Tern: These are still passing through the English Channel in small numbers (max 9 at Dungeness on Aug 30 with 26 at one Netherlands site on Aug 28). Locally one was in Langstone Harbour on Aug 30

Turtle Dove: One was still to be seen in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 3 with at least 2 in the Netherlands on Sep 4

Cuckoo: Six reports this week (all presumably of young birds making their unaided way south) include one on Studland Heath in Dorset on Aug 30 and one at Sandwich Bay on Aug 29

Short-eared Owl: One seen in the Seaford area near Newhaven on Sep 1 was the first I have heard of this autumn

Swift: 20 new reports this week show that they have not yet left us - latest in England was one at Eastleigh Lakeside on Sep 3 with a couple seen in Belgium on Sep 4. Jersey had 15 on Sep 1 and there were 35 at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Aug 28

Kingfisher: One was seen on the Langbrook Stream beside the Langstone South Moors on both Aug 30 and Sep 1

Hoopoe: One was still at Climping near the mouth of the R Arun on Aug 30 and on Sep 1 on was at The Lizard in Cornwall after one at Lands End on Aug 30

Wryneck: 20 reports this week all along the south coast from Cornwall to Kent with up to 8 at one Belgian site on Sep 1. Locally one was seen on Thorney Island on Aug 30 by Barry and Margaret Collins along with Redstarts, Whinchats, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers and of course an Osprey with a large Mullet in its talons

Sand Martin: Sep 2 and 3 saw a major movement of hirundines including an estimated 1100 Sand Martins over Christchurch Harbour and 1000+ over the Downs north of Worthing

Swallow: On Sep 2 Christchurch Harbour reported a day total of an estimated 15,000 with high numbers at several other sites

House Martin: Also on Sep 2 Christchurch Harbour reported around 2,200 House Martins while a site on the Baltic coast of Germany had 3,358 fleeing Scandinavia that day

Yellow Wagtail: 29 reports this week including estimates of 100 at Farlington Marshes on Aug 30, 160 at Lodmoor (Weymouth) and 100 at Rye Harbour on Aug 31, then 90 at Titchfield Haven on Sep 3 when the Lymington Marshes had 80+ and Hope Gap near Newhaven had 64

Fieldfare: The odd bird has been reported from the Netherlands since Aug 15 but a report of 5 on the Baltic coast of Germany on Sep 2 is probably a first indication of birds starting to leave Scandinavia

Grasshopper Warbler: Mark Cutts tells us that 34 were ringed at Titchfield Haven on Aug 30 with another 26 on Sep 1

Chiffchaff: Numbers of most passerine migrants seem to be dropping off this week but Chiffchaffs are only just starting to appear at coastal sites (Dungeness had their first of the autumn on Aug 29). Willow Warbler counts of 100 or more have been coming in since the beginning of August with 600 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 11 but none have exceeded 60 since Aug 18.

Spotted Flycatcher: Numbers of these are also on the increase this week with a peak count of 50 at Cissbury Ring (north of Worthing) on Sep 3 after counts on Aug 28 of 28 at Durlston and 29 in Christchurch Harbour. Locally one was at the Langstone South Moors on Sep 1

Coal Tit: The first mention of a 'continental Coal Tit' being seen in England this autumn came from the Beachy Head area on Sep 2, the day after they began to appear as 'remarkable' entries on the Trektellen website (49 at a Belgian site that day and 131 at a Belgian site on Sep 2)

Red-backed Shrike: An adult female appeared at Biggleswade in Bedforshire on Aug 29 and others have been seen this week at Dungeness, at Reculver on the north Kent coast, and in Cornwall

Woodchat Shrike: On Aug 29 an adult was in the Scillies and on Sep 1 a juvenile was near Helston in Cornwall

Starling: A flock of around 750 at Gilkicker Point in the Gosport area on Aug 31 was the first hint of the usual autumn flocks (often numbering thousands) which normally appear along the south coast

Tree Sparrow: I was slightly dubious about the identity of a flock of 20 reported on the Pevensey Levels on Aug 20 but others are now starting to appear. Two were heard and seen in the Gosport area on Aug 30 and some were again heard on the Pevensey Levels on Sep 4 when 15 were reported at a Belgian site.

Linnet: An autumn flock of around 100 has been seen in the Climping area on the coast near Worthing with 50+ at Cissbury Ring on the Downs north of Worthing. I don't anticipate a lack of Goldfinch this autumn but I fear we will not this year see the large flocks of Greenfinch that once dominated our weedy sea coasts in autumn

Lapland Bunting: Lee Evans on Sep 1 reported an 'unprecedented August influx' of this species totalling more than 300 birds into our northern isles (Fair Isle, Orkney, etc). Since Aug 23 I have also seen nine reports of the species in Cornwall and the Scillies with a peak of 6 birds in the Scillies on Aug 30 though only singles in Cornwall

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Species seen this week have been Southern and Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters, the rare Willow Emerald damsels in north Kent and Small Red-eyed Damsels at Dungeness. The only surprise item was the finding of a Migrant Hawker caught in the bird ringers nets at Titchfield Haven on Sep 1 (I believe it was released unharmed)

Butterflies

28 species seen this week (excluding the Swallowtails!)

Silver Spotted Skipper: There were still 70 to be seen on Brading Downs (IoW) on Aug 30

Swallowtail: On Sep 1 and 4 these got a mention on the Trektellen bird migration site after being seen at sites in Belgium and the Netherlands

Clouded Yellow: Singles seen on Portland on Aug 30 and 31, on Thorney Island on Aug 31 and at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Sep 3

Brown Hairstreak: As many as 49 were seen by a party searching for them at the Steyning Rifle Range on the Downs west of Steyning on Aug 28

Small Blue: A second brood usually emerges in mid to late August but I have only seen three reports of the species since the first brood tailed off on Aug 11. Two of these were in normal downland habitat but one on Aug 30 struck me as odd since it was seen on the beach of Pevensey Bay to the east of Eastbourne - the report on the Sussex butterfly site read .. "We went for a relaxing family walk across Pevensey Bay beach to Sovereign Harbour and back. I was suprised to find butterflies on the actual beach. There were loads of Small White, two Small Blue, two Small Tortoiseshell and one Painted Lady, as well as a caterpillar walking across the path".

Silver Washed Fritillary: Four separate sightings this week with the last being near Horsham on Aug 31

Marbled White: One seen as late as Sep 1 at Bartley Heath in north Hampshire

Ringlet: Another late sighting of two near Basingstoke on Aug 31

Moths

Very few new reports this week but among them are four more sightings of Hummingbird Hawkmoths on Aug 30 and 31. The Rye Bay website has a picture of a pretty micro found there on Aug 31 and previously only known to me by its scientific name Evergestis extimalis but now accorded the English name of Marbled Yellow Pearl ( see the entry on http://rxwildlife.org.uk/ for Aug 31)

Other Insects

See http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2010/08/30/bixley-wood-2/#more-14266 for some hoverflies found by Sam Smith in the Rother Valley woods near Rye on Aug 30

Ichneumon species: On Sep 4 I had close views of a female Ichneumon (sex shown by her possession of a needle-like ovipositor sticking out from her rear end) in my garden and I thought that the red colour of her legs would allow me to identify her but all I found out was that there are around 6000 Ichneumon species in Britain

Common Wasp: Further evidence that these are having a good year came when a nest of them was discovered during cut back of vegetation at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Sep 1

Striped-winged Grasshopper and Great Green Bush Cricket were both seen at Durlston on Aug 30

Wasp Spider: Females still to be seen on their webs when I was on Portsdown on Sep 3 but as I said in my diary entry .. "they will soon be laying their eggs in what look like small pink paper Japanese lanterns hung from an arch created by joining together the tops of a group of tallish grass stems" (after which the females die)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Violets: Single unseasonable flowers were seen on both Sweet and Common Dog Violets in the Havant area this week

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria): Still flowering near Gunner Point (south Hayling) on Sep 2

Thyme-leaved Sandwort: Flowering on Portsdown on Sep 1

Hare's foot Clover: Still in full flower on south Hayling shore on Sep 2

Purple Loosestrife: Taking a path (which I have not used before) between Peter Pond and Gooseberry Cottage in the Brook Meadow area of Emsworth on Sep 1 I found a great display of Purple Loosestrife alongside water in the garden of Gooseberry Cottage and Brian Fellows says that the species is now spreading into Brook Meadow

Tamarisk: These have suddenly started to flower again along the harbour shores

Pepper Saxifrage: This is only now flowering alongside the Hayling Coastal Path - very late this year

Japanese Knotweed: This too has only just started to flower but this is a more expected time to see this species

Pale Toadflax: Still in full flower on south Hayling - see the photos with my diary entry for Sep 2

Skullcap: The delightful blue flowers of this species could still be seen on Sep 2 in the brickwork of the canalised stream passing the front doors of the cottages in Lumley Road at Emsworth just south of the rail line

White Comfrey: When walking through Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Sep 1 I passed a couple of plants in the north meadow whose very white looking flowers suggested that they were White rather than Common Comfrey and I was puzzled as this plant is one of the first to flower each year (in 2009 the first flowers were out in Havant on March 3 and the last were seen on June 1). On reflection I recall having the same thought about the Common Comfrey in Brook Meadow in previous years (the flowers there seem much whiter than those at other sites) - it must be something 'in the water'.

Sheep's Bit: Unexpected flowers seen on the Hayling shore south of the Golf Course on Sep 2 were the small bright blue balls of this species

Autumn Ladies Tresses: This last orchid species of the year normally starts to flower at the end of July but this year I heard of none until Aug 22 when it was seen in the garden of Redlands House at Emsworth and then on Aug 23 at Durlston. I did not see any for myself until Sep 3 when I found 18 spikes in the short grass of Portsdown above the Paulsgrove Chalk Pit.

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratoides): This seems to be the name of the plants which Brian Fellows found floating on the water of the Chichester Canal near Hunston on Aug 24. I had never heard of this species until it was suggested by Anne de Potier and the id has been tentatively accepted by the new Plant Recorder for West Sussex (Paul Harmes). I had suggested that the plants might be the dreaded Water Hyacinth which clogs waterways worldwide and I understand that Water Lettuce can also increase out of control if left to its own devices so I suspect the plants will not be on view for long!

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: While I was watching for Egrets coming to roost at Langstone Pond on the evening of Sep 1 I had close views of a young Fox which had presumably reached the age at which it was no longer a playful cub but was now having to fend for itself. No doubt it was spurred by hunger but it seemed to have little knowledge of how to catch itself a meal - first it came right out into the open to within 20 metres of me, then - when I turned to look at it - decided that was unwise and began patrolling the field edges in the hope of picking up a fresh scent of prey. Eventually it disappeared into the thick undergrowth on the pond side of the field fence. I did not see any further outcome and I did not have a camera with me but luckily Steve Copsey did when he was on the Meon Canal Path alongside Titchfield Haven and had a similar close encounter in better light. You can seen one of his pictures at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/uploads/a/amigo1/24555.jpg and maybe that will encourage you to make the Three Amigos blog one of your favourites as it is one of mine ( http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo )

Maybe another young Fox had been learning the hard way what was good to eat and what was not and was the cause of the 29 inch long dropping found in an Emsworth garden on the morning of Sep 2 - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-580-dropping-zz-garden-02.09.10.jpg for the picture that appears on Brian Fellows Emsworth community website. The straight line across the open lawn is typical of a Fox trail

Common Seal: An estimate of 18 Seals hauled out on mud around Thorney Island on Aug 30 shows that the colony there is thriving. Another report of one seen off Seaford Head (just east of Newhaven) confirms what I have heard from other sources recently - namely that Seals travel long distances from their home base (I think there are no other breeding colonies of Common Seal between Chichester Harbour and East Kent)

Adder: Most reports of Adders at this time of year are of them basking in the sun or sliding away into cover when disturbed by our heavy footfalls alerting them to our presence but a more realistic observation of their lifestyle came from Durlston on Aug 31 when one was seen swallowing a Mouse

Fungi: Most interesting find of the week was made by John Goodspeed in grass under the Hampshire Wildlife Trust stall at the Emsworth Show on Aug 30. He concluded that it was almost certainly Cyathus olla, one of the 'Bird's Nest Fungi', but thought the grassy site was wrong for this species which is normally found on more or less bare ground. I certainly came to the same conclusion about the id and was not so concerned about the habitat (I remember once telling someone who had found fungi growing from the bare shingle of the Hayling shoreline that there was almost certainly a bit of driftwood hidden below the surface of the shingle and the fungus which should have been growing on deadwood in woodland had been transported to the beach by wind and tide without killing the fungus within the wood). Maybe in the current case some sandy soil had been imported to fill in a hollow in the surface of the ground used for the show and that the grass had subsequently grown over it.

Below is a reduced image of one of the three or four fungi found and photographed by John - he said they were no more that 1 cm high as can be seen by the size of the blades of grass.

For those unfamiliar with Bird's Nest Fungi this is what I said about them in replying to John (not knowing that he was already familiar with them). "This is one of three 'Bird's Nest Fungi' that you might come across and I am pretty sure it is Cyathus olla. See http://www.rogersmushrooms.com/gallery/DisplayBlock~bid~5342.asp for a resonable picture and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyathus_olla for a description of their life cycle They start off as little round lumps, develop into bowl-shaped structures which are at first covered with a whitish skin over the top like an orchestral Tympani drum.. The skin splits and rain drops fall into the cunningly shaped 'bowl' which send the raindrop down its inner side and under the 'eggs' in the centre of the 'nest'. The eggs are bundles of spores and there is a mechanism to prevent them being ejected by rain before they are 'ripe' - this is a 'rubber band' holding each egg to the base of the nest and until the spores are ripe this absorbs the energy of the rain and pulls the 'egg' back into the nest. When ripe the elastic band snaps at its base, the 'egg' shoots up into the air with the remains of the band trailing behind and hopefully this band catches onto some vegetation so that the 'egg' is left dangling in the air where it bursts and scatters the spores on the wind. All this to save growing to a respectable height like gilled fungi on which the spores are at the right height above the ground when they fall from the gills!! As with all fungi they continue to change shape and colour throughout the time they are above ground - I think yours are old and have scattered their eggs and what is left has become blacker than normal illustrations would show.

Other fungi seen by me this week have been Brown Rollrims in a couple of places, Field Mushrooms at several sites and Fairy Ring Champignons at one site. A more interesting fnd of my own was made in grass under Oak trees in St Catherine's Road on Hayling on Sep 2. Unfortunately a vehicle had run over part of this large boletus but from what was left I concluded it was probably Boletus appendiculatus

On Sunday Sep 5 I found my first Weeping Widow toadstools in a Botley garden where some fresh brackets at the base of an oak tree seemed to be beginning to develop the shiny top surface of Lacquered Bracket


Wildlife diary and news for Aug 23 - 29 (Week 34 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: The first to appear in the English Channel this autumn was off Dungeness on Aug 24

Sooty Shearwater: A few seen off Dungeness, Portland and Cornwall this week

Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris): A 'probable' claimed off Cornwall on Aug 26. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-tailed_Shearwater for culinary uses and cooking time of this most abundant bird of Australian waters where it is known as the Mutton Bird. At this time of year it should be in the north west Pacific and I can find no records of previous sightings in British waters

Leach's Storm Petrel: One off Cornwall on Aug 22 seems to have been the first to join the many Storm Petrels and occasional Wilson's Storm Petrel seen there earlier this month

Shag: One at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Aug 23 shows that this species has dispersed for the winter

Great White Egret: Last week we had the first report of one back at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Aug 16 but the only other sighting there has been on Aug 27 when the bird was seen to have a ring confirming that it is the regular visitor to this site - no doubt it will settle down there soon

Purple Heron: One was seen to fly over the Christchurch area of Dorset on Aug 28 but it is not known to have settled anywhere

Brent Goose: The first migrant arrivals are expected in mid-September (last year the outrunners arrived on Sep 14 and the first flock in Langstone Harbour was seen on Sep 18) but we always have a few sightings of summering birds as they come out of hiding around now and I see that 4 were seen in the Pilsey area east of Thorney Island on Aug 21

Wigeon: Although a few birds have already started to return (three flew west along the north Kent coast on Aug 17) a count of 30 flying west past Dungeness on Aug 27 is the first substantial indication of their return

Teal: These are now coming back in large numbers. On Aug 24 more than 60 were at Lodmoor (Weymouth) with 30 seen in Pagham Harbour that day and on Aug 27 Dungeness reported 66 passing west.

Hooded Merganser: When an unringed drake was found at Weymouth in June 2008 there was a lot of interest in it but when it was still lurking there in May of 2009 it was relegated to 'plastic' status and I saw no more reports until now when what I assume to be the same bird was reported at Radipole on Aug 26

Honey Buzzard: One flew south to sea from Portland on Aug 27

Black Kite: One reported ove Porthgwarra near Lands End in Cornwall on Aug 27

Montagu's Harrier: A juvenie reported at Porthgwarra in Cornwall on Aug 26

Osprey: 13 reports from nine sites this week include one over Langstone Harbour on Aug 26, the long staying birds at the Lower Test (Southampton) and Thorney Island, and possibly as many as four in Poole Harbour on Aug 27

Merlin: Further sightings of birds returning for the winter come from Rye Harbour on Aug 24 and Portland on Aug 27

Stone Curlew: One seen briefly early in the morning of Aug 24 at Rye Harbour where it had dropped in on its way south.

Ringed Plover: The presence of 210 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 27 indicates a substantial return to the south coast

Dotterel: A juvenile was seen in the Sennen area of Cornwall on Aug 26 on its way south

Knot: A big movement of returning waders took place on Aug 23 taking 776 Knot west past Dungeness along with 57 Ringed Plover, 440 Grey Plover, a Curlew Sandpiper, 266 Sanderling, 72 Dunlin, 190 Bar-tailed Godwits, 71 Whimbrel, a Redshank and 113 Turnstones

Red-necked Stint: There are several Little Stints around at the moment (including at least one at Farlington Marshes and two at the Lymington Marshes this week) and what was thought to be another was seen at Ferrybridge (Weymouth to Portland) on Aug 27 but a close look at photos of it subsequently proved it was a Red-necked Stint and thus a first for Dorset and for Portland (Red-necked breed in the far east of arctic Eurasia and should then head down to the west coast of the Pacific). See some of the photos and the basic facts are on the Portland website at http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm (entry for Aug 27) but do follow the link from there to 'The Bagsy Blog' ( at http://bagsy-thecaptainslog.blogspot.com/ ) written by the finder of the bird and providing further proof (along with the Three Amigos) that the Navy have a special talent for making wildlife entertaining for all.

Curlew Sandpiper: Now showing at many of the usual sites where it spends time in the autumn (this week at Farlington Marshes, Lymington Marshes, Christchurch Harbour plus Dungeness and Sandwich Bay)

Ruff: This week there have been four at Pagham Harbour, five at Christchurch Harbour and I think a total of six at the Lymington Marshes on Aug 23

Black-tailed Godwits: At the end of this week there were 177 at Hook (Warsash) on Aug 27 and 274 at the Lymington Marshes on Aug 28.

Bar-tailed Godwit: Pagham Harbour had some 120 on Aug 26

Grey Phalarope: After reports of singles in the Scillies on Aug 15 and Cornwall (Pendeen) on Aug 23 one has been seen in Chesil Cove (Portland) on Aug 26

Pomarine Skua: The first two of autumn passage were off Titchfield Haven on Aug 21 with one off Portland on Aug 23 and another off Selsey on Aug 26. Since then one was seen off the north Kent coast (Reculver) on Aug 27

Arctic Skua: On Aug 26 two were seen from Titchfield Haven area and seven from Selsey but so far we have seen nothing like the numbers off the Kent coast on Aug 27 when Dungeness had 123 and Reculver had 145 (Reculver also had 1 Long-tailed Skua that day)

Great Skua: Aug 27 also brought 70 Bonxies to Dungeness and 121 to Reculver

Ring-billed Gull: The bird which arrived back at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 6 was still there on Aug 24 and 26

Little Tern: 38 were seen off Dungeness on Aug 23 and on Aug 26 there were 5 at Rye Harbour and 3 at Pagham Harbour

Black Tern: We are now at the peak of their autumn passage with 66 seen at Dungeness on Aug 27 when 4 were at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood. On Aug 26 there was one at Ivy Lake Chichester, one at Titchfield Haven, two in Pagham Harbour and five at Rye Harbour

Turtle Dove: A late bird was seen at Rye Harbour on Aug 28, the first to get a mention for ten days

Cuckoo: Two young birds were seen at Arne in Dorset on Aug 23 after one had been there the previous day

Swift: Still being seen in small numbers - 16 reports during the past week but none of more than 10 birds (that over Titchfield Haven on Aug 27)

Hoopoe: One spent 15 minutes on a lawn at Merston (halfway between Chichester and Bognor) on Aug 27 and what may have been the same bird was seen in the Climping area near the mouth of the River Arun on Aug 28

Wryneck: On Aug 22 one was catching ants on a lawn at Plumpton near Lewes and another was in the Ranvilles Lane area between Fareham and Stubbington. Yet another was spotted on the Lymington Marshes on Aug 28

Sand Martin: Around 500 were over Ivy Lake at Chichester on Aug 23 followed by multiple reports of flocks on Aug 27 (500 at Seaford Head and 'many' at Titchfield) and Aug 28 (60 at Durlston, 70 at Climping at the mouth of the Arun, and 280 going due south over Christchurch Harbour)

House Martin: On Aug 28 an estimated 1200 were over Seaford Head near Beachy Head and a small party were feeding over my garden at first light that morning before continuing south - in good years they would be having a third brood and not leaving until October.

Yellow Wagtail: 34 reports in the past week seem to indicate that most of these are now leaving us but the highest count among these was only 129 at Seaford Head on Aug 28 (only exceeded by 200+ at Rye Harbour back on Aug 20). Locally Aug 26 brought reports of 35 at Farlington Marshes, 60 on the Langstone South Moors, 8 at Northney on Hayling and 20 at Hook (Warsash)

Grey Wagtail: A few of these are now on the move with counts of three birds each over Climping, Seaford Head and Christchurch. White Wagtails are also starting to get a mention (e.g. two at Portland on Aug 27) though inevitably most of these go down as 'alba Wagtails' as they cannot be separated from the Pied.

Whinchat: 18 reports during the week with Seaford Head again having the peak count of 11 (plus 78 Wheatears, also the week's top count) but Farlington Marshes did have 7 also on Aug 28

Blackbird: These got onto the autumn migration list with 20+ at Beachy Head on Aug 25

Melodious Warbler: Singles at Durlston on Aug 24 and at Sandwich Bay on Aug 28

Dartford Warbler: Simon Woolley was pleased to see a family group (1 adult with two youngsters) when he was in the New Forest on Aug 27 and I was equally pleased to hear of a juvenile being seen on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Aug 24

Wood Warbler: One was seen at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton on Aug 22 and two were at Sandwich Bay on Aug 28 bringing the count of these elusive birds seen on their way south this autumn to 12

Spotted Flycatcher: A group of around 6 were feeding in the East Park of Stansted Forest on Aug 24 and on Aug 28 exceptional counts were recorded at both Durlston (28) and Christchurch Harbour (29)

Red-backed Shrike: A young bird was at Dungeness from Aug 22 to 24 and another was at Nanjizal in Cornwall (a cove within a mile of Lands End) on Aug 27

Goldfinch: Flocks are starting to be seen on clumps of seeding thistles - around 30 at Clanfield (these were actually said to be on Knapweed) and 39 at Titchfield Haven, both on Aug 25

Bullfinch: One seen at Portland on Aug 27 was listed as a migrant

Lapland Bunting: First of this autumn was at The Lizard in Cornwall on Aug 23

Escapees: An unusual raptor seen hunting Merlin like low over the ground at Farlington Marshes on Aug 25 was thought to be a Lanner

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Species seen this week include Small Red-eyed Damsel, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker (over Pevensey Levels), Migrant Hawker, Ruddy and Common Darter.

More exciting was the discovery of two Willow Emerald Damsels at Reculver just west of Margate on the north Kent coast - first seen on Aug 18th they were thought to be the Emerald Damsel Lestes sponsa but luckily they were still there on Aug 20 when photographs were identified by Francis Solly and Barry Hunt as the very rare migrant Lestes viridis. They were still present on Aug 28 when they were found to be a male and a female (maybe the forerunners of a colony in Kent?). Photos and details of this discovery can be seen on the Reculver website at http://www.kentos.org.uk/Reculver/Aug2010.htm Wikipaedia tells us that this species is to be found in southern and central Europe but is starting to colonise Britain (first seen in Sussex back in 1980) and the latest news on this can be seen at http://www.dragonflysoc.org.uk/hotnews.asp which tells of a find of more than 60 (including 5 mating pairs) on Aug 28 at a Suffolk site (Alton Water where they were found last year) while four were at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk on Aug 22. A series of photos can be found at http://www.dragonflysoc.org.uk/chvir.html (the species was previously called Chalcolestes viridis) and these show the key id feature to be a black 'spur' marking on the yellowish side of the thorax.

Butterflies

23 species seen this week including ...

Clouded Yellow: Just one report from Durlston on Aug 28

White Letter Hairstreak: One found in the Beckley Woods near Rye was the first there for some years

Painted Lady: Seen at Durlston on Aug 24 and at the Pevensey Levels on Aug 28

Small Tortoiseshell: Just three individuals seen this week at Old Winchester Hill (Meon Valley), Iden near Hastings and Malling Down near Lewes

Moths

Among the 49 species which I have seen reported this week the ones which caught my attention were ...

The Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria). Seen at Rye Harbour on Aug 24 ( see entry with photo for Aug 24 at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/ ). The species is an irregular migrant from around the Mediterranean and has not been seen at Rye Harbour since 2006.

Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia): One of a long list of species recorded in a garden at Friston near Eastbourne where Michael Blencowe had set up his light at the special request of 'two young entomologists'. Michael writes "The children were keen to see what moths and other bugs lived in their garden. There were plenty of high-pitched, excited screams as we opened the traps today. And the children seemed mildly interested too" Perhaps the best find here was a Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) of which Michael writes .. "The highlight of the trap was the incredible Gypsy Moth - the fifth record for Sussex this century. The caterpillars of this moth are a serious pest in Europe and North America. DEFRA ask that all records of this moth be reported to them - but look at that cute face! - and those antennae! - do they seriously expect me to turn it in? More details of this moth can be found at http://www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/publications/documents/factsheets/gypsymoth.pdf and a lovely song by the late, great Hoyt Axton about it can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCF8EuPBGQs ." Michaels full list and photos can be seen in the entry for Aug 22 on http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html

Tamarisk Peacock (Chiasmia aestimaria): The first of this species to reach Britain from south east Europe was found in Kent in 2004 and one which turned up in Sussex on Aug 24 was said to be only the 5th to reach this country. See Steven Teale's photo and entry for Aug 24 on http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html

Convolvulus Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli): Two of these massive migrants turned up this week - one at Portland on Aug 27 and another at the Lymington marshes on Aug 28

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor): A typical find at this time of year was of one of the large, snake like, caterpillars of this moth on a Fuchsia bush in a garden at Hook near Fleet in north Hampshire on Aug 19. They prefer Fuchsia but can be moved to Greater Willowherb to prevent the Fuchsia loving gardener from killing them.

Old Lady (Mormo maura): First report I have seen on this large and impressive but drab coloured moth comes from Thanet in Kent on Aug 21

Other Insects

Common Wasp: These had become rarities in recent years but seem to have made a comeback this year. On Aug 24 Brian Fellows spoke to Conservation Volunteers clearing vegetation from the banks of the Chichester Canal and they were complaining of having been stung by the inhabitants of three Wasp nests which they had disturbed during the course of their work that day. I was also told of a theme park which my grandchildren had visited recently where there were Wasps everywhere, so much so that the owners of the park had placed notices apologizing for the problem and saying that the pest controllers were doing their best but were fighting a losing battle (or words to that effect!). Interestingly they did not hear of anyone being stung there and I think this agrees with my experience in the past when Wasps would swarm around our picnics but would do us no harm if we did not harm them (naturally they will defend their nests if we appear to be trying to destroy them).

Hoverflies and Picture-winged Flies: Both Volucella zonaria and V. inanis hoverflies were found in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Aug 24 by Bryan Pinchen during his insect survey. Bryan also found two rarer insects, both Picture-winged Flies called Merzomya westermanni and Tephritis divisa. Of M. westermanni he says it is Nationally Scarce and usually only found on Hoary Ragwort, but sometimes on Common Ragwort. He swept a single male into his net from the little bit of Hoary Ragwort present. Google does not seem to know much about this species but photos and more info about Tephritis divisa can be seen at http://www.essexfieldclub.org.uk/portal/p/Species+Account/s/Tephritis%20divisa Bryan says of this that it is a recent arrival to be found on Bristly Oxtongue and that he swept a number of specimens from this plant. The Essex Field club site tells us that the species was first found near Bognor in Aug 2004 but that by Aug 2010 it was present at 18 sites in Essex though it had not been found anywhere else except for Sussex - Bryan's find in Hampshire may thus have added to their knowledge! The larvae of this fly develop in the flowerheads of Bristly Oxtongue.

Red-tailed Cuckoo Bee (Bombus rupestris): Also found in Brook Meadow on Aug 24 during a survey by Bryan Pinchen. For those who do not know the difference between true Bumblebees (which work hard to build nests and supply their young with pollen) and Cuckoo Bumblebees (which lay their eggs in a true Bumbles nest and leave the true Bumbles to do all the hard work of housekeeping and child rearing) see http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bumblebees_id.htm which should answer that question and help you to identify all the common species of Bumbles and to distinguish males from females

Stag Beetle: A female was found dead in the street outside Hayling Library on Aug 24. Although mostly seen in the early summer I have found a Stag Beetle still alive in November.

Orthoptera: This is the scientific name of the group of insects which includes Grasshoppers and Crickets and the Durlston Rangers log (go to http://durlston.co.uk/ and select 'Durlston Today' ) for Aug 24 said .. "We are just entering the best time of the year to see Grasshoppers and Crickets with Grey, Dark, Oak and Great Green Bush Crickets found today along with Meadow and Striped-wing Grasshoppers."

Leiobunum rotundum: I believe this to be the name of the common Harvestman species of which I found several when clearing ivy from a wall in my garden on Aug 26

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Wall Rocket species: I found both the relatively common but small Annual Wall-rocket and the less common and large bushes of Perennial Wall-rocket at different sites in Havant this week. The latter are in full flower and can be seen in the extreme east end of the Havant railway carpark south of the railway - go to the area behind the disused signal box and look through the white railings for a bush standing more than a metre tall and similarly wide with all its long branches bearing large bright yellow flowers. Another bush can be seen on the gravel railway ballast through the wire fence a few metres west of the signal box enclosure and small young specimens are coming up on the carpark side of this wire fence.

Hairy Vetchling (Lathyrus hirsutus): A few flowers could still be seen among masses of dead plants covered with seed pods on the 'Broadmarsh mountain' here in Havant on Aug 24. The species looks set to flourish at this, its only known Hampshire site, for at least another year

Yellow Loosestrife: On Aug 21 Brian Fellows found this still flowering by the Lake in Leigh Park Gardens (Staunton Country Park) although the many plants in the drier parts of this country park were well past flowering

Apple of Peru: This has re-appeared as a self sown casual in Juniper Square at Havant close to where a large bush of it was rooted out a couple of years ago

Sharp-leaved Fluellen: I made an unexpected chance find of this in flower in the built up area of Havant on Aug 17 close to the Lymbourne Triangle Wildflower garden - the seed may have come from the introductions there but I have never seen it in the wildflower planting.

Wild Clary: Brian Fellows tells me that the plants he found flowering in Emsworth in July have started re-flowering and can be seen alongside Christopher Way near its northern junction with New Brighton Road. It seems that Martin Rand thinks it more likely that this is a genuine wild plant which has somehow survived here for many years (perhaps 50? probably more) since the area may have been an arable field rather than being the result of someone importing seed for their garden in more recent years.

Nodding Bur-Marigold: A good colony of this was found by Brian Fellows on Aug 24 alongside the Chichester Canal. The plants were not yet in flower but the flower buds were about to open

Water Hyacinth: Also found floating on the Chichester Canal were some leaves which Brian Fellows did not recognize but which may have been Water Hyacinth - if so they are unlikely to be allowed to remain there as this plant is notorious world wide for the speed with which it can completely take over any water surface, eliminating all other life on the water and causing a serious hindrance to any movement of boats along the waterways - unfortunately the pretty flowers which it bears make it a very saleable plant to gardeners with 'water features' and it then quickly moves to natural water where it is not wanted.

Autumn Ladies Tresses: These last wild orchids of the summer are usually in flower around the beginning of August but this year the first I have heard of were seen at Durlston on Aug 23 and I understand that they were only just starting to flower then in their regular sites in Emsworth and Hayling Island.

Cockspur Grass (Echinochloa crus-galli): This too has only just started to push up through pavement cracks and similar sites where bird seed has settled and it can now be found at many places in Havant and Emsworth (and no doubt elsewhere)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Myotis Bats: In last week's summary I said that there had been a possible 'hearing' of a Barbastelle during one of the recent surveys in the Emsworth area. I now understand that there was no evidence for a Barbastelle but the name may have been mentioned in talking about the difficulties of identifying some bat species using sound only. There is evidence for the presence of Daubenton's Bat feeding over the various channels of the River Ems but Daubenton's (Myotis daubentonii) is one of a genus that has four other species which can sometimes be confused when using a Bat Detector alone - Bechstein's (M. bechsteinii), Brandt's (M. brandtii), Whiskered (M. mystacinos) and Natterer's Bat (M. nattereri). See http://www.first-nature.com/bats/ for a quick introduction to these and other bat species. Also see http://www.northumberlandbats.org.uk/bats-in-northumberland/myotis which has this to say about the Myotis (Mouse-eared) group of bat species ...

"This is a genus of similar looking and sounding bat species with varying preferences and characteristics. There are 4 of them in Northumberland, but many more across the world! Sadly Britainís most recent extinction was the Greater Mouse Eared Bat (Myotis myotis) in 1990. All of them have distinctly dark dorsal (back) and pale / white ventral (tummy) fur. For a beginner bat-watcher, they are not easy to tell apart. All have a strong preference for hibernating in caves, mineshafts, icehouses and cracks in stonework where they will remain at a steady cool temperature throughout the winter, they are noted to swarm in front of some of these sites in autumn prior to hibernating. Unlike many other species they do not have a particular call frequency, their call sweeps through all frequencies very rapidly. Try tuning a bat detector to about 50kHz and listen for tonal differences as described for each species, but sometimes even computer analysis of their calls canít correctly identify them, so just enjoy them as Myotis bats!"

Snails: Recent rain and natural growth at this time of year have combined to bring many snail species into prominence this week. When clearing Ivy from a wall in my garden I found many bright yellow forms of the White-lipped Banded Snail (Cepaea hortensis) and some of the plainer brown Strawberry Snails (Trichia striolata) which have a distinctive pale white line around extreme rim of their shells. Strangely I have so far seen none of the big Common Snails (Helix aspersa). Presumably they are still in 'shut down' mode, hidden away in a cool place and with their opening sealed to prevent loss of moisture during the summer drought that we have almost forgotten!

Round-mouthed Snail (Pomatias elegans): This got a mention on the Durlston Rangers daily log on Aug 27 and that reminded me to keep a look out for it if I visit the 'Ladies Walk' on the east side of Stansted Forest. Towards the north end of this 'walk' there is a lot of loose chalk on the slope up through the trees to the east of the path and this is the only site where I have found this unusual species. The most unusual thing about it is that, where the great majority of land snails have long ago developed lungs to breathe air directly, P. elegans (and one other species - the tiny Point Shell (Acicula fusca)) insist on retaining the habit of their ancestors which lived in the sea and obtained oxygen from water via gills. This means that it has to preserve a vital water supply within its shell and to prevent evaporation it has a thick 'bath plug' fitted to the sole of its 'foot' - after the body and foot have been retracted into the shell this plug completely seals the shell (for an account of the contortions involved see http://snailstales.blogspot.com/2006/05/how-pomatias-elegans-comes-out-of-its.html ). To help reduce evaporation when not active this snail burrows into loose chalky soil before shutting down - which means that you will only ever see it if you search on damp nights when the live snails are out and about, or if you find the empty shells of dead snails that have been washed out of the chalk where they died. In checking these facts I learnt that you can distinguish the 'lung breathing' from the 'gill breathing' snails by the fact that the lung breathers have two pairs of tentacles where the gill breathers have one pair of tentacles, the second (lower) pair being replaced by eyes. Yet another difference is that the lung breathers are hermaphrodites while the gill breathers are of separate sexes.

Fungi: During the week I collected and ate another small crop of Field Mushrooms from the roadside grass of Southbrook Road in Langstone and nearby found more Red-cracking Boletes while in Emsworth Brian Fellows found Bay Bolete in Beacon Square. Giant Puffballs appeared on the lawn of Nik Knights garden in the Wade Court area and there has been a recent find of the colourful Chicken-of-the-woods but I seem to have not recorded the details


Wildlife diary and news for Aug 16 - 22 (Week 33 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Grebes: The first Black-necked of the autum was off the French coast on Aug 5 where two Red-necked were seen on Aug 11. The latter two were still there on Aug 17 and the first Black-necked to be seen in southern England was at Dungeness on Aug 16 (seen again on Aug 18)

Little Egret: Roost numbers increase dramatically at this time of year and while I have not checked the Langstone roost this week Rye Harbour reports their first count of more than 100 for this year with 102 on Aug 17

Great White Egret: One which spent an hour at the the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Aug 16 was the first sighting at this regular site since Feb 18 this year. Last year none were seen there between Jan 14 and July 21 with further reports on Aug 24 and 29, then Sept 14, before almost daily sightings started on Sept 24. In 2008 there were four sightings in Aug (first on Aug 16) before regular sightings started on Sep 8.

Glossy Ibis: The bird which was seen at Christchurch Harbour and then in the Lymington area at the end of last week has not been reported again since Aug 15

Greylag Goose: The five hand-reared birds which were released last week in the hope that they would set up home at Emsworth's Peter Pond had to be removed this week as they were attracting too much attention from local Foxes

Shelduck: On the evening of Aug 16 a flotilla of ten birds (at least 9 juveniles) were off the Warblington Farm shore in the outflow of the stream which flows down from the area just east of Warblington Castle - the adult birds will not return from their moult sites until mid-November

Teal: These are now returning in big numbers with 30 passing Selsey on Aug 17, 50 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 15, 65 at Rye Harbour on Aug 17 and around 200 in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 18

Garganey: One was at Hook (Warsash) this week, three remained at the Lymington marshes and seven were in the Kent Stour Valley

Honey Buzzard: One (maybe from the New Forest) flew over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 15 and at least were reported moving over the Low Countries

Osprey: The number to be seen around Thorney Island increased to two on Aug 19 when four were seen in the Wareham Channel of Poole Harbour - others were seen during the week at Farlington Marshes, Titchfield Haven and the Lower Test reserve at Southampton

Merlin: Following the first back in southern England (in the New Forest on Aug 12) Portland had its first autumn bird seen on Aug 16 (plus what was probably the same bird hunting migrants there on Aug 17 and 18)

Quail: Singles heard in Sussex (Chantry Hill above Storrington on Aug 14), Cornwall (near Padstow on Aug 15) and at Sandwich Bay on Aug 19

Dotterel: One was with Golden Plover at the Oare Marshes (north Kent) on Aug 18 and two were seen in Belgium on Aug 18

Little Stint: One was at Farlington Marshes on Aug 17 and two were there on Aug 20

Temminck's Stint: It seems these have just started to turn up in southern England with one at Sandwich Bay on Aug 14 and another (or maybe the same one) in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 15

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: On Aug 13 Lee Evans reported one in Norfolk and on Aug 15 one turned up at Dungeness, staying there overnight but leaving in the morning

Lesser Yellowlegs: One turned up in the Scillies on Aug 9 and was seen again up to Aug 16 but not since

Black Tern: We are now in the peak of their autumn passage with 20 being present at Dungeness on Aug 15 while there have been other sightings this week at Sandy Point on Hayling, Ivy Lake in Chichester, Titchfield Haven area and Southampton Water (Weston shore)

White-winged Black Tern: A single juvenile was seen this week at Dungeness on Aug 15

Turtle Dove: Still passing through Kent up to Aug 18 when there were 9 at Reculver on the north coast plus one in the Stour Valley

Cuckoo: This week on was seen at Reculver on Aug 14 and another at Beachy Head on Aug 18

Swift: Numbers reported on the south coast remain abnormally low with maximum counts of just 10 at both Portland and Titchfield Haven (these were maximum counts at any one time, not day totals). On the near continent the maximum was 71 in the Netherlands on Aug 19

Kingfisher: One flew over Peter Pond at Emsworth on Aug 15 and two were seen at the Southampton Testwood Lakes on Aug 17

Sand Martin: Aug 18 saw a surge of these flying south with 1800 roost at Slimbridge, 300 at Dungeness and 40 at Durlston. Aug 19 saw 1200 at Dungeness and Aug 20 brought reports of hundreds over the Chichester Gravel Pits.

Yellow Wagtail: Most coastal sites are now seeing a few but Rye Harbour is the first to report more than 100 with 200+ on Aug 20 (when Farlington Marshes had just three)

Grey Wagtail: Now starting to be seen as a migrant along the coast with singles this week at Hook (Warsash), Durlston and Beachy Head

Chiff Chaff: Coastal sites have reported very few of these so far this autumn whereas Willow Warblers have been seen in their hundreds since the end of July. On Aug 20 the Sandwich Bay site noted that Chiff Chaff numbers seen there were starting to pick up as those of Willow Warblers dropped off

Red-backed Shrike: The first autumn bird to be seen in southern England was at Dungeness on Aug 16 (staying to at least Aug 18) while a second was found at Reculver in north Kent on Aug 18

Lesser Grey Shrike: One was found in Norfolk on Aug 17 and 18 (I think the first autumn vagrant to Britain). Also this week at Woodchat Shrike was on the move in Portugal

Rook: These are diminishing in numbers each year along the south coast so it was good to see perhaps 30 among a flock of mixed Corvids (mainly the numerous Crows every present along the local shoreline) in a recently harvest wheat field at Warblington Farm on Aug 16

Starling: The first substantial report of a Starling flock since the beginning of March was of around 500 at the Woolston (Southampton) sewage works on Aug 15

Tree Sparrow: On Aug 20 there was a surprising report of a flock of 20 seen on the Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne which made me wonder if they were actually House Sparrows which are now roaming the countryside in flocks but I think the observer was a competent naturalist and I see that last year flocks of presumably continental birds stated to reach us in early September with 7 at Dungeness on Sept 4 and 75 at Spurn Point on Sept 7 after which sporadic sightings of small numbers in southern England were reported until the year end

Linnet: An autumn flock of up to 100 had built up on the north Kent coast by Aug 18

Reed Bunting: Just one seen in the Warblington Farm fields on Aug 18

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawkers, Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy Darters, Common Darters and Emerald Damselflies were the only species reported this week

Butterflies

26 species seen this week still including Dark Green and Silver Washed Fritillaries, Marbled White and Ringlet

Silver Spotted Skipper: Malling Down near Lewes had 108 on Aug 13. by far the higest count this year with St Catherine's Hill at Winchester coming in second with just 40

Clouded Yellow: Just two seen this week, both at Durlston

Brown Hairstreak: No significant reports this week

Purple Hairstreak: My first personal sighting this year was of a tatty grounded in the Staunton Country Park woodland on Aug 12

Brown Argus: Following the discovery of a new colony in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth this summer there have been sightings at Brook Meadow and the Horndean Road area of Emsworth and now, on Aug 16, Martin Hampton has seen one in his garden by the Billy Line just south of Grove Road - maybe originating from the Emsworth area but maybe yet another newly established colony

Common Blue: 78 counted on Horsea Island (on Portsmouth Harbour shore just south of Port Solent) on Aug 14 was the highest count recorded there in the past 12 years

Purple Emperor: What was probably the last sighting for this year was of a female in the Test Valley at Mottisfont on Aug 15

Painted Lady: Four reports this week (one of two fresh specimens) show little sign of an influx of the species this year

Small Tortoiseshell: Just 6 reports this week (all I think of singles) shows little sign of a mass of these emerging next spring but I did see one for myself in the Staunton Country Park

Moths

Among the 44 species of which I noted sighting this week the following were newcomers to my list of the year ..

Common Swift,

Agapeta hamana,

Selania leplastriana (a Kent coastal species not found in Hampshire), Platytes alpinella,

Garden Pebble,

Dark Bordered Pearl,

Evergestis pallidata,

European Corn-borer,

Endotricha flammealis,

Wax Moth,

Grass Eggar,

The Mocha,

Maiden's Blush,

Sharp Angled Carpet,

Peacock Moth,

Common White Wave,

Barred Red,

Annulet,

Pine Hawkmoth,

Scarce Chocolate-tip,

The Vapourer,

Rosy Footman,

Four-spotted Footman,

White-line Dart,

Heart and Club,

Heart and Dart,

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing,

Langmaid's Yellow Underwing,

Small Square-spot,

Bright-line Brown-eye,

White-point,

Mathew's Wainscot,

Star-wort,

Copper Underwing,

Crescent Striped,

Common Rustic,

The Rustic,

Vine's Rustic,

Golden Twin-spot,

Gold Spot,

Red Underwing,

Plumed Fanfoot

Other Insects

Rhingia rostrata hoverfly: See http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2010/08/19/brede-high-wood-14/#more-14240 for pictures of this and another Hoverfly (Rhingis campestris).

Glow-worms: Some were still shining on the night of Aug 20 at Durlston

Long-winged Coneheads: See Brian Fellows Diary entry for Aug 15 in http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm which has a picture of seven Long-winged Coneheads which have been attract to the blue painted post supporting an 'Emsworth Waysides Project' poster at Dolphin Quay in Emsworth. Brian also recorded Dark Bush Cricket in the Brook Meadow site on Aug 19

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Garlic Mustard: Most of the plants which had been partially cut back along the path following the north edge of Nore Barn woodland at Emsworth had started to reflower on Aug 16

Swine Cress and Lesser Swine Cress: See Brian Fellows' diary entry for Aug 21 at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm and my own entry for the same date at http://ralph-hollins.net/Diary.htm We still have no absolute agreement on distinguishing the two species we are getting close to one!

Amphibious Bistort: The leaves of this plant can be seen at several local sites but it is quite rare to find any of the plants in flower but Brian Fellows found one at Brook Meadow on Aug 15 (and I suspect some can now be found at the Fishbourne Meadows site)

Pale Toadflax: I know that a lot of this grows on shingle at Browndown with a small colony flowering on South Hayling but I was not aware that it coud be found at several inland sites in Hampshire. Ros Norton found in on Aug 14 at Old Winchest Hill (one of the sites mapped in the Hants Flora). During my investigation into this find (knowing that I have in the distant past thought that the pink version of Purple Toadflax was probably called Pale Toadflax) I discovered that this pink cultivar goes by the name of a Clergyman called Canon J Went!)

Gipsywort: Brian Fellows was the first to report this flowering this year when he found good specimens by the Chichester Canal on Aug 19

Wild Clary: Brian Fellows this week had confirmation that the 'dead stems' of a tall labiate he found recently by Christopher Way roadside in Emsworth are the remains of Wild Clary and he now recalls having seen the blue flowers of this plant there in July. I rather suspect that these plants originated in a local garden where the owner had purchased them from a specialist supplier, perhaps just to beautify his garden but perhaps also following advice on the Natural England website recommending gardeners to plant this species to encourage bees and to support other wildlife but it is nevertheless encouraging to see maybe starting to move back into the wild.

Devils Bit Scabious: I saw my first examples for the year of this species flowering on the Gipsies Plain within the Staunton Country Park on Aug 16

Sneezewort: I was pleased to find a large number of these plants growing in the 'Thicket Lawn' meadow south west of the Leigh Park Gardens lake in Staunton Country Park on Aug 16

Ladies Tresses: The first report of this small wild orchid in flower comes from Durlston on Aug 17

Frog Orchid: The first mention of this species that I have seen reported this year was from Old Winchester Hill on Aug 14 but they normally start flowering in June

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphins: A boat trip off the Sillies saw more than 70 of these on Aug 14. Elsewhere I read this week of a group of Dolphins surrounding and attacking a Porpoise off the Welsh coast and further investigation indicates that this is not uncommon. The Dolphins do not kill the Porpoises for food (though dead Porpoises washed up on the shore often show marks of Dolphin teeth on their bodies - these are inflicted during the 'gang bullying' of the Porpoise until it drowns). A Californian source describes Dolphins killing Porpoises and then dragging the dead bodies to the boats of Marine Life researchers (interpreted by the article as a way of getting the humans to dispose of the corpses so that they do not pollute the Dolphins environment and not a intentional way of aiding the reasearch!). No one knows why the Dolphins attack the Porpoises but the behaviour has been likened to the way in which one group of Chimpanzees will kill another group for no apparent reason. Packs of dogs also exhibit similar behaviour and the Californian experience could be likened to the way that some domestic cats bring their kills home to present them to their human owners. I hear that Dolphins will also gang up on and kill Sharks.

Common Seal: The number to be seen in Langstone Harbour seems to increasing over recent years - on Aug 15 at total of 7 were seen from Farlington Marshes

Water Voles: Brian Fellows found at least one in the Chichester Canal this week (this is reported to be a good site for them as is the small stream running into the Fishbourne Channel through the meadows near Fishbourne Church). One thing that I did not previously know about Water Voles was described in the latest edition of British Wildlife which arrived this week - namely that Water Voles are regularly infected by Leptospira bacteria which do not seem to harm the voles but which can transfer to humans and give them Weil's disease whose symptoms start off like those of the Common Cold but which then become life threatening through effect which include kidney failure. Anyone carrying out research into Water Voles and handling the animals or their droppings should be aware of the possible danger

Bats: Nik Knight has recently conducted several bat surveys in the Emsworth area finding many Pipistrelles and at least one each of Serotine and Daubenton's bats plus possibly a rare Barbastelle Bat

Fungi: By the end of this week the ground had become sufficiently rain soaked to cause some of the larger autumn fungi to start fruiting and I found Red-cracked Bolete (Boletus chrysenteron) in my garden and Field Mushrooms (which were added to our Sunday lunch) in the short grass of the Havant Eastern Road cemetery


Wildlife diary and news for Aug 9 - 15 (Week 32 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Northern Diver: On Aug 12 one was seen at Tiree in the Scottish Western Isles and reported to the Trektellen migration site as 'remarkable' so I guess this is an early indication that these divers are now moving south after their breeding season

Red-necked Grebe: First mention of this species this autumn is of one off the French Normandy coast on Aug 11 (the first mention of a Black-necked Grebe, also off the French coast at Cap Gris-nez on Aug 5, was included in last week's summary)

Great Shearwater: First to be seen this autumn was off the Scillies on Aug 8

Sooty Shearwater: Plenty of these now off the Cornish coast with 73 off Porthgwarra near Lands End on Aug 6 (Porthgwarra is the southwest tip of the 'snout' of Cornwall which has Lands End at its northwest tip)

Manx Shearwater: A few of these are currently to be seen in the Portland area (max 14 off Portland this week) but more than 4,000 were seen off Pendeen in Cornwall on Aug 12 (Pendeen is on the north coast half way between Lands End and the Hayle estuary)

Mediterranean (or Yelkouan) Shearwater: Two reports of one or two 'probables' off the Cornish coast this week on Aug 6 and 7

Balearic Shearwater: 14 off Portland on Aug 8 and 30 off Pendeen on Aug 12

Wilson's Storm-petrel: One seen from a Scilly Islands pelagic boat trip on Aug 6

Storm Petrel: Several sightings in Cornish waters with a max of 140 at Porthgwarra on Aug 6

Bittern: One at the Dungeness RSPB site on Aug 7 was presumably the same bird which allowed a visitor to that site to tick six species of Heron on the previous day (Grey and Purple Heron, Little, Cattle and Great White Egret plus the Bittern)

Little Egret: A count of these entering the Langstone Mill Pond tree roost on the evening of Aug 12 recorded 105 birds

Great White Egret: In addition to the long term stayer at Dungeness there are one or two currently present in Cornwall

Glossy Ibis: One arrived 'out of the blue' at Christchurch Harbour on the evening of Aug 12 but flew off next morning to be seen briefly at Upton country park in Poole Harbour before vanishing again. It then flew back to Christchurch Harbour for 30 minutes on the afternoon of Aug 14 before flying east to land in the Lymington marshes where it was last seen at 7:30am on Aug 15 This is the first to be seen in Dorset since 2008 although there have been 467 accepted records of the species in Britain including four in Hampshire prior to the current bird (one near Brockenhurst in 1965, one at Titchfield Haven in 1977, one at Ringwood in 2004 and one at Lymington in 2008)

Brent Goose: A group of 9 were seen at the Weston Shore of Southampton Water on the morning of Aug 15. No information as to where these came from but they are presumably birds that have spent the summer elsewhere on the south coast and are now on the move as their moult is complete and they feel the urge to migrate.

Egyptian Goose: A count of 14 at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Aug 11 is, I think, a site record although at least 7 have been recorded there in the past. In north Hampshire there has long been a large flock in the Eversley area on the Berkshire border and an influx there in Sept 2008 set a county record of 156 birds

Mandarin: The arrival of a juvenile at the Milton lakes (Portsmouth shore of Langstone Harbour) on Aug 11 could presage the arrival of more of these in the Portsmouth area. I think the feral population in southern England is growing and expanding (a count of 62 came from the Weir Wood reservoir in north east Sussex on Aug 4)

Garganey: The number at the Lymington marshes rose to 3 on Aug 9 (all still there on Aug 12) and there were 10 on the Stour valley lakes in Kent on Aug 13

Pochard: The arrival of one at Rooksbury Mill (Andover) on Aug 8 was probably an indication of this species starting to return to Hampshire to boost the small number that stay here to breed.

Honey Buzzard: These are now moving from summer to winter quarters with most of them heading southwest over northern Europe (on Aug 11 one site in the Netherlands reported 18 with another 2 seen over Belgium) but a few move over Britain and one was a surprise over St Ives in Cornwall on Aug 9

Red Kite: Keith Betton has this week published a summary of results of a study of Red Kites breeding in Hampshire this year. He knows of 14 nests in the county (not surprisingly all but three of them were in the north of the county close to Berkshire). The 14 nests had an average of 2.2 chicks adding a total of 31 to the Kite population of the county. 14 of the young birds were wing tagged with a Yellow tag on the left wing and Blue on the right.

Osprey: The first I have heard of in Langstone Harbour this summer was seen at Farlington Marshes on Aug 8 and one was still fishing in the Thorney Island (Pilsey) area on Aug 12 (possibly the same bird that was first seen there on July 25)

Merlin: Two reports indicate that these are moving south earlier than usual. On Aug 11 one was reported from Fife in Scotland (but away from any regular breeding area) and on Aug 12 one was seen in the New Forest

Spotted Crake: The first to appear in the south of England this year was in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 10 with two seen there on Aug 13

Common Crane: I believe there has been a small resident colony of around 30 birds in Norfolk for several years and this week I see that Crane eggs have been imported to England from Germany and have hatched at Slimbridge where the young birds will soon be released in the hope of starting another colony in Britain

Kentish Plover: The first to be reported in Britain this year (as far as I know) was on the north Kent coast at Seasalter on Aug 9 - see photo with entry for that date on http://www.kentos.org.uk/Seasalter/August10.htm

Grey Plover: Brian Fellows saw his first returning summer plumaged bird at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 10 (the flock of 34 at Farlington Marshes that day may have all been non-breeding birds that have stayed in Langstone Harbour through the summer). I suspect that the increase in the number seen on the Lymington marshes from 26 on Aug 10 to 40 on Aug 11 was due to other returnees. (One was back on the IoW as early as July 31)

Black-tailed Godwit: Local reports this week were of 225 at Farlington Marshes on Aug 10 and 193 at the Thorney Great Deeps during the Aug 12 WeBS count

Bar-tailed Godwit: A count of 430 flying past Dungeness on Aug 7 indicates that these are now returning from breeding quarters

Curlew: Plenty of these now back on our local shores - on Aug 11 more than 800 were flushed from Farlington Marshes by a Peregrine and on Aug 12 the Thorney Great Deeps WeBS count recorded 380 (along with 96 Greenshank)

Lesser Yellowlegs: One turned up on St Agnes in the Scillies on Aug 9

Red-necked Phalarope: The first I have heard of this year was seen in the Netherlands on Aug 11 and the first Grey Phalarope that I am aware of since January was seen from a boat off the Scillies on Aug 7

Wood Pigeon: Although many of these can still be heard singing amourously and a pair were seen mating in Sussex there are signs of large post breeding gatherings. On Aug 10 hundreds had gathered (with Feral Pigeons) on stubble fields west of Titchfield Haven, and more than 500 were seen on the north Kent coast on Aug 12.

Cuckoo: Juveniles were seen on the Sussex South Downs and in the Scillies but no adults have been reported this week

Nightjar: In this week's Hampshire bird news there are references to a video which I have not seen showing a Fox raiding a Nightjar nest from which the young escaped alive (thanks it is thought to the female parent distracting the Fox for long enough for the young to make their getaway)

Sand Martin: Aug 11 saw another departure of these and Swallows - Christchurch Harbour saw 320 Sand Martins leaving and Portland that day had 200 Sand Martins and 400 Swallows

Peak counts of departing passerines at coastal sites this week have been:

Tree Pipit 15 at Portland on Aug 9

Yellow Wagtail 86 at Slimbridge and 60+ at Rye Harbour, both on Aug 9. (The first autumn bird at Sandy Point on Hayling was seen on Aug 11)

Robin - a 'remarkable' report of 26 at a Belgian site on Aug 12 shows that some of this species are on the move (and may soon arrive in southern England from the continent)

Nightingale 3 at Hope Gap (Beachy Head) on Aug 8

Common Redstart 3 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 12

Whinchat singles at Portland on four days during the week

Wheatear 50 at Portland on Aug 9 (I saw at least 8 in the Gunner Point area of Hayling on Aug 11)

Grasshopper Warbler 3 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 11 (Both Savi's and Aquatic Warblers moving on the continent)

Sedge Warbler 350 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 9

Reed Warbler 8 at Beachy Head on Aug 12

Icterine Warbler 1 at Sandwich Bay on Aug 12 (First report for England this autumn)

Melodious Warbler 1 at Portland on Aug 9 (First report for England this autumn)

Lesser Whitethroat 15 at Hope Gap (Beachy Head) on Aug 12

Whitethroat 250 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 9

Garden Warbler 17 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 9

Blackcap 20 at Beachy Head on Aug 8

Wood Warbler 1 at at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 9

Chiffchaff 4 at Beachy Head on Aug 12

Willow Warbler 600 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 11

Spotted Flycatcher 2 at Portland on Aug 13 (and singles on Hayling Island at Northney on Aug 8 and at Sinah Warren on Aug 10)

Pied Flycatcher 2 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 11 (and one at Northney on Hayling on Aug 8)

(One or two Golden Orioles and Red-backed Shrikes on the move in France this week)

Escapees: A White-cheeked (or Bahama) Pintail turned up at Sandwich Bay on Aug 9 and what was probably a Weaver Species was seen on feeders in a Southampton garden on Aug 13 (reported as a probable Black-headed Bunting but Lee Evans commented that while this species is seen in gardens it does not use hanging feeders as a similar looking Village or Black-headed Weaver regularly does)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

The only reports this week I have noted this week are of one Southern Hawker on Malling Down near Lewes on Aug 8 and a few Blue-tailed Damsels at Sinah Gravel Pit Lake on Hayling on Aug 11

Butterflies

35 species were reported this week including ...

Silver Spotted Skipper: 14 pristine specimens seen on Chantry Hill (south of Storrington in Sussex) on Aug 8 when 22 were found on Oxenbourne Down near Petersfield. On Aug 9 'hundreds' were seen on Malling Down near Lewes but only two were to be found at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley. By Aug 12 the count at Chantry Hill was up to 38

Wood White: Said to be a good season for this species - more than 50 seen by one visitor to the Botany Bay woodland (near Chiddingfold) in Surrey on Aug 5

Brown Argus: Aug 8 brought the first ever report of the species at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and on Aug 9 another was seen in north Emsworth in grass beside the Horndean Road not far west of the Hollybank Woods were the species was discovered in July

Purple Emperor: What may well be the last for this year was a very tatty female seen in the Northington area of the Candover Valley (north of Alresford) on Aug 8

White Admiral: None reported since Aug 2

Painted Lady: Ten reports this week is a noticeable increase on the number in previous weeks this summer but all sightings were of singles with the exception of 3 in the Fleet area of north Hampshire on July 9

Small Tortoiseshell: 8 reports this week as next years breeders emerge - the small number seen does not augur well for the future of the species in southern England

Wall Brown: Having a good season in Sussex with a count of 44 during a walk along The Comp and Greenway Bank (on the downs just north of Seaford) on Aug 5 and more than 35 at Cissbury Ring (north of Worthing) on Aug 8. There was also a reasonably good show on the Lymington marshes in Hampshire with 17 seen there on Aug 8

Marbled White: Still being seen at Durlston on Aug 12

Grayling: A good count of 116 in the area south of Farnborough on the Surrey border on Aug 9 (A late Ringlet was also seen there)

Moths

53 species reported this week including ...

Raspberry Clearwing: Seen in Friston Forest north of Eastbourne on Aug 11 (without use of Pheremones!)

Canary-shouldered Thorn: One of many species found by Anthony Tindale in the Fareham and Portchester areas this week and illustrated with photos on the Three Amigos website (select 'Latest Mothing Results' from the entries listed in the right hand box at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo )

Grass Eggar: An excellent photo on the Portland website of one found there on Aug 14 (see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm ). Its well worth scrolling down through recent entries on this website for photos of an Antler Moth taken there on Aug 12, a superb flight image of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth preceding the text of the Aug 10 entry, and a Channel Islands Pug (new to Portland) on Aug 9.

Svensson's Copper Underwing: One of Tony Tindale's finds in his Fareham garden - see the second photo of this moth in the Three amigos website to see how he identified the moth as Svensson's rather than a plain Copper Underwing by the pattern of black and white on the palps which hang from the front of the moth's 'face'.

The Herald: Although this species emerges in July it hibernates and emerges to breed next spring - hence the name Herald as it is seen by some moth-ers as 'the Herald of the spring' as it is often the first moth they see in the New Year

Other Insects

Louse fly species (Ornithomya avicularia): One found attached to a gardener in the Peasmarsh area near Rye was using the gardener as a substitute for the bird species which it normally parasitises (see my Diary entry for Aug 12 which comments on the species and has a link to the photo on the Rye Bay website)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Creeping Yellowcress: A single plant flowering in a tiny patch of soil in the Havant Rail Station taxi stand area was a surprise find on Aug 12

Bastard Cabbage: A mass of seeds on the Hayling seawall in the Saltmarsh Lane area showed that this recent invader has settled in and taken over here and a single plant seen at The Kench shows that it is still extending its range on Hayling

Fragrant Agrimony: When I went to the North Common open space at Northney on Hayling on Aug 11 to check the continued presence of this species by the 'backward looking' bristles on its seed capsules I found fresh plants whose flowers had not yet opened (the original plants had been cut down with brambles earlier in the season but the Agrimony had re-grown). Luckily I was able to check the identity by the fragrance of the fresh leaves (they soon lose their scent with age)

Sea Holly: I was able to tick this species after finding just one plant in flower on the Hayling Island Gunner Point Sand Dunes on Aug 11

Dotted Loosestrife: Also seen on Aug 11 at the Sinah Gravel Pit Lake on Hayling were the yellow flowers of this plant peeping out among the Willow Trees around the Lake (where I have never noticed the species in past years). After writing this I see that I should cease to use the word 'lake' to describe the water in this old gravel pit after hearing on the radio this week an expert on the distinction between Ponds and Lakes - according to him a Pond has no stream bringing water into or taking it way from the pool whereas a Lake always does have an inflow stream.

Yellow Pimpernel: I was very surprised, considering the current drought, to find this plant flowering in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth.

Black Nightshade: I found my first example of this in flower on Hayling on Aug 11 and on Aug 12 Brian Fellows found some among other weeds flourishing on disturbed or imported soil at the junction of New Brighton Road with Horndean Road just north of Emsworth rail station. The Nightshade plants found there were very hairy (normal Black Nightshade appears hairless) and may be either the subspecies S. n. schultesii or perhaps Green Nightshade - the id cannot be determined until some fruit berries develop (Green Nightshade has its berries at least half covered by an enlarged calyx whereas both subspecies of Black Nightshade have very small calyces that do not even cover the top of the berries) Later on Green Nightshade can also be identified by its berries remaining green while those of Black Nightshade turn black.

Pale Toadflax: This has just one small colony on Hayling Island (in gorse at the edge of the well used path along the southern edge of the mini-golf course at its extreme eastern edge near the public toilets) and the plants were flourishing there on Aug 11

Thyme-leaved Speedwell: When gardening in my garden on Aug 12 I came across a single flower of this species to indicate the start of its autumn revival

Marsh Ragwort: This was a new tick for my August list of flowering plants when found it on Aug 9 in the dry bed of the Lavant stream where it runs beside the rail line on the east side of the Bartons Road playing fields at West Leigh in Havant

Sticky Groundsel: The first plant of this I have seen in flower was spotted in the Denvilles area of Havant on Aug 9 and I have since seen another by the East Pallant roadside near my home

Guernsey Fleabane: This hairy leaved species started to flower this week, slightly later than the Canadian Fleabane with its greener hairless leaves and smaller size. I think I also came across a different species (with a differently shaped overall plant structure) but I need to investigate further to be sure if the different shape is diagnostic and, if so, whether the different species is the relatively common Argentine Fleabane or the rarer subspecies of Canadian Fleabane known as Conyza bilbaoana (which is quite common in the Southampton area)

Marsh Cudweed: Found by me for the first time this year in Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Aug 9

Cotton (or Scotch) Thistle: I saw a clump of this huge thistle growing in a garden (as a planted species) on Aug 11 when I also passed gardens containing planted specimens of Apple of Peru in flower.

Cockspur Grass (Echinochloa crus-galli): One plant growing in the road gutter of Bound Lane in South Hayling on Aug 11 is the only example of this that I have seen so far this year

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottlenosed Dolphin: No recent sightings in the English Channel but I see that 8 were seen off the north Cornish coast (St Ives) on Aug 12

Common Dolphin: 30 off St Just in Cornwall on Aug 12

Minke Whale: Two seen off the Scillies on Aug 8

Slow-worm: Lifting a piece of felt at Northiam in the Rother Valley near Rye on Aug 9 gave Brian Banks the chance to photograph something which few have seen - a baby Slow-worm still in its 'egg sac' immediately after its mother had given birth (the baby burst out within a few seconds of the picture being taken). See http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/reptiles-and-amphibians/

Pointed Snail (Cochlicella acuta): This tiny snail with its 'church steeple' shaped shell around 15 mm tall was in the past very numerous on the Portsmouth North Harbour IBM site but seemed to have died out there several years ago though it can still be found on the seawall of Thorney Island at the west end of the Great Deeps. I think most of its sites are coastal but this week it got a mention at Malling Down just east of Lewes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlicella_acuta

Sun Fish: This strange fish, which looks like a very large dinner plate balanced on its rim (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_sunfish ) and which feeds on Jellyfish, has been seen (along with Basking Sharks and Blue Sharks) in the waters around the Scillies this week

Cuttlefish: On Aug 7 Barry Yates (warden of Rye Harbour reserve) found 'bunches of black grapes' on the beach. After taking them home and putting them in a fish tank they hatched out into cute bay Cuttlefish - see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2010/08/09/cuttlefish-birthday/#more-14212

Sea Orange (Suberites ficus): Several of these orange coloured sponges which can measure 30 cm across were washed up on the Rye Bay shore on Aug 14 - see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2010/08/14/sea-orange/#more-14228 and http://www.european-marine-life.org/02/suberites-ficus.php


Wildlife diary and news for Aug 2 - 8 (Week 31 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-necked Grebe: The first I have heard of this summer were a couple seen off Cap Gis-nez in France on Aug 5 - maybe returning birds will soon appear in Langstone Harbour?

Manx Shearwater: These are now being seen daily off the Dorset coast with a count of 210 off Portland on Aug 4

Balearic Shearwater: Also plentiful off Portland with 83 seen on Aug 4

Gannet: 110 seen in the west Solent (Hurst area) on Aug 7

Bittern: These are already heading south - on Aug 1 one was seen to circle over and then land at the north Kent Oare Marshes and on Aug 2 two were reported at Dungeness (where a Cattle Egret and a Great White Egret remained throughout the week)

Purple Heron: The pair which have nested at Dungeness this year had at least one juvenile with them on Aug 5

Black Stork: Several 'unusual' sightings of up to 5 birds reported from sites in the Netherlands and Belgium this week. One Netherlands site also reported a sighting of three White Storks as unusual - post breeding dispersion? or start of return migration?

Greylag Goose: The Greylag population in Hampshire has gradually increased over the past 50 years or so (though nothing like the extent of the expansion of Canada Geese) and Greylag remain almost rarities in south east Hampshire. This year a group of 5 young Greylag (captive hatched) have been introduced to Peter Pond at Emsworth where, after being kept in a pen for around a month to get them used to the site) they were released on Aug 1. It is just possible that they will stay and breed in the area and even attract other wild birds to join them.

Shelduck: A pair with 2 young were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 3

Mandarin: The Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough had 62 of these on Aug 4

Teal: A count of 30+ on the Weir Wood reservoir on Aug 7 indicates this species is starting to return

Pintail: First back were six seen at Dungeness on July 28

Shoveler: Bembridge Marshes (IoW) had 11 back on Aug 7

Eider: The number off the Lymington Marshes had increased from 14 to 17 on Aug 7 and watchers at Selsey saw 23 fly east on Aug 3

Honey Buzzard: Parties of up to six moved over sites in Germany and the Netherlands this week and one was seen over the Thanet area of Kent on Aug 1

Sparrowhawk: Two juveniles were making their first attempts at hunting over Christchurch Harbour on July 31 and what was probably another inexperienced juvenile was hit by a train in Brighton station on Aug 1 (one of the station staff took it to the local wildlife hospital)

Golden Eagle: If you want to say you have seen a Golden Eagle in Sussex go to the area around Ashburnham Place (just west of Battle near Hastings) - there have been regular sightings of one there since 2008 with several reported this week. I suspect this is a falconers bird with a good home, not just an escape.

Osprey: The Thorney Island bird which was first reported on July 25 was still there on Aug 6 and the bird which arrived at the Lower Test Marshes on July 26 was still there on Aug 7. Several others were seen this week with a total of four in Poole Harbour.

Stone Curlew: A resident at Birdham beside Chichester Harbour was out in his garden at 1:15am on Aug 6 and heard a Stone Curlew flying over. Another was seen near Wadebridge in Cornwall on Aug 3

Golden Plover: 33 were seen at the North Kent Oare Marshes on Aug 1 and one was at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 2

Grey Plover: One in full summer plumage was seen at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on July 31 with two more at Lymington on Aug 7. Over in Kent there were 35 at the Elmley Marshes on Aug 1

Ruff: Several recent sightings include one in Poole Harbour on Aug 2, one at Sidlesham Ferry (Pagham Harbour) on Aug 3 and one at Pagham North Walls on Aug 5, with another at the Lower Test on Aug 6 and 7. Elmley Marshes in Kent had 7 on Aug 4

Black-tailed Godwit: The flock at Hook near Warsash numbered 283 on Aug 2 and there were 80 in Emsworth Harbour on Aug 3 and 70 at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Aug 7. These are all presumably of the Icelandic race while over in Kent (where the birds are of the European race) the flock at the Oare Marshes on Aug 2 was estimated to number 2200.

Turnstone: These have not yet returned to the Solent in any numbers but on Aug 4 there was a flock of 220 on the north Kent shore at Seasalter

Arctic Skua: These have started to appear along the Channel coast since July 20 but they are rarely seen inland so one flying over the Hayling Oysterbeds on Aug 5 was a great surprise

Lesser Blackback: A report of 82 at one Netherlands site on Aug 3 shows that these are now on passage to winter quarters and one of these eastern race (fuscus) birds had stopped off on the Langstone shore when I was there on Aug 8

Kittiwake: On Aug 3 eight of these were seen at Durlston and that report told me that juvenile Kittiwakes are called 'Tarrocks'

Common Tern: Jason Crook's latest Blog entry on Aug 5 confirms that he too believes that two pairs of Common Tern were still incubating eggs at that late date.

Black Tern: Singles seen at Titchfield Haven on Aug 5, 6 and 7

Cuckoo: One, presumably an adult, was seen at Mill Rythe (east Hayling) on Aug 7

Barn Owl: A pair has raised three young this year in a nest box sited in the East Park at Stansted - the three chicks have all be ringed.

Little Owl: Jason Crook tells us that one has been seen several times recently on a pile of logs seen from the field gate on the east side of the Hayling Coastal Path just north of the Stoke Common trees (opposite the gate into the field north of the Oysterbeds lagoon). Dusk is probably the best time to look for it.

Swallow: 500 headed south from Portland on Aug 2 (400 left there as early as July 23) but a pair were still feeding four juvenile in a nest on Thorney Island (Marina Farm) on Aug 7

Meadow Pipit: A report of around 30 at Seaford Head (near Beachy Head) on Aug 7 confirms that this species has joined the move south

Yellow Wagtail: Rye Harbour had as many as 40 there earlier this week but reports so far from Hampshire and Dorset sites are of no more than single birds so far

Whinchat: Only two reports of these on the south coast so far - two in the Steyning area north of Worthing on July 31 and one at Pagham on Aug 5

Stonechat: I saw my first for some months on Aug 2 in the Paulsgrove chalk pit area of Portsdown

Wheatear: Maximum counts of departing birds so far have been 15 at Portland on Aug 2 and 23 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 5. Locally one was at the IBM North Harbour site in Portsmouth on Aug 6

Mistle Thrush: This species has greatly diminished in recent years and the large autumn flocks of the past have become rarities so it is encouraging to see three reports of flocks this week - 16 on the Pevensey Levels on Aug 2, 24 at Eastleigh Lakeside country park on Aug 4 and 15 at Brading Marshes (IoW) on Aug 7

Peak counts of departing passerine migrants this week have been -

Grasshopper Warbler 6 at Beachy Head

Sedge Warbler 115 at Christchurch Harbour

Reed Warbler 30 at Sandwich Bay

Lesser Whitethroat 14 at Seaford Head

Whitethroat 88 at Christchurch Harbour

Garden Warbler 6 at Beachy Head

Blackcap 12 at Christchurch Harbour

Willow Warbler 370 at Christchurch Harbour

Spotted Flycatcher singles at Pett Level, Rye Harbour and Pulborough Brooks

Pied Flycatcher two at both Beachy Head and Christchurch Harbour

Marsh Tit: I was pleased to hear one close to me in Stantsed Forest on Aug 7

Mixed Tit Flock: One flock was estimated to have 350 birds (including some warblers) the Arne reserve in Dorset on Aug 1

Goldfinch: First report of these on Teasels was of 30 birds seen at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 7

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Brown Hawker seen near Eastbourne on Aug 3

Migrant Hawker - only one report this week

Emperor reported from the Isle of Wight and Eastbourne area

Gold Ringed Dragonfly also seen near Eastbourne

Keeled Skimmer reported from Thanet on July 29

Broad -bodied Chaser seen at Pevensey Levels

Ruddy Darter reported from the IoW and Eastbourne area - also a first ever sighting at Marazion in west Cornwall

Common Darter seen near Eastbourne

Beautiful Demoiselle - a first ever sighting at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Aug 1

Blue-tailed Damsel seen on Pevensey Levels

Butterflies

37 species seen this week including ...

Dingy Skipper: Secod brood sightings in East Susses on Aug 2 and 3

Clouded Yellow: Just one report of a male at Noar Hill on Aug 1

Brown Hairstreak: Reports of low numbers from 4 sites (just one at Noar Hill on Aug 5 and max 5 at Shipton Bellinger on Aug 1) but just into Surrey 12 were seen near Povey Cross (just north of Gatwick) on Aug 2

Chalkhill Blue: These were plentiful on Portsdown on Aug 2 and 'thousands' were reported at Oxenbourne Down that day but on Aug 1 Arreton Down (IoW) claimed 6000

White Admiral: What may prove to be the last report was dated Aug 2

Painted Lady: Six reports of singles during the week including one on Thorney Island on Aug 7

Small Tortoiseshell: 8 reports this week with sightings of 4 on the IoW and 5 on the East Sussex downs

Dark Green Fritillary: What may have been the last sighting was on Aug 1

Silver Washed Fritillary: Almost daily reports with one a Stansted Forest on Aug 7

Wall Brown: Two were seen on the Lymington marshes on Aug 2 with other reports from Sussex and Dorset but best count was of 40 on the East Sussex Downs

Marbled White: A fresh looking specimen was still to be seen at Stansted Forest on Aug 7

Grayling: These have now been reported from north Hampshire and the Lymington area so should be out on south Hayling by now. Peak count of 30+ from Windover Hill north of Eastbourne on Aug 1

Small Heath: Nine reports, all of small numbers, this week - best were 10 at Oxenbourne Down and 16 near Tidworth

Ringlet: What may have been the last report was dated Aug 3

Moths

25 species reported including Sussex Emerald, one Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Garden Tiger, 3 reports of Jersey Tiger all on Aug 2, Tree Lichen Beauty and Marbled Green

Other Insects

Flecked General: This imposing Soldier Fly was seen at Rye Harbour on Aug 5 and the report was illustrated with a photo showing the female Flecked General egglaying close to an older batch of her eggs in which the parasitic wasp Chalcis sispes was inserting her own eggs that will kill off the young of the Soldier Fly. The report goes on to describe how the female Chalcis sispes guards the batch of Soldier Fly eggs she has found until they are at the right stage to support her own young, using her strong back legs to 'push off' any other female Chalcis sispes which tries to get possesion of the eggs. See http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2010/08/05/fascinating-2/#more-14189 for this report and pictures

Phasia hemiptera (Tachinid Fly): Photos taken at Rye Harbour this week of this very imposing fly can be seen at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2010/08/07/id-at-last/#more-14196

Hornet: The first report of this species that I am aware of is of one 'eating a Gatekeeper butterfly' in the Steyning area north of Worthing on Aug 2. The description of the Hornet eating the butterfly is I think misleading as I understand that adult Hornets live on nectar from flowers and the insects which they catch are only digested for transport back to their nest (only the grubs are carnivorous).

Maid of Kent Rove Beetle (Emus hirtus): This species is not the subject of a current report but a photo of it heads the Elmley Marshes August sightings page and following up the species on Google I would now love to come across it for myself but I am not sure of the distribution of this species (it may not occur in Hampshire). The picture that set me off can be seen at http://www.kentos.org.uk/recentsigntings/EMMAug10.htm

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

At the end of this week my personal count of plant species seen in flower this month has risen to 184

Narrow-leaved Pepperwort: An unexpected find of a fresh plant in flower by the A27 Langstone roundabout on Aug 4

Pale Flax: Another surprise was to find a very late flower on this plant at Portsdown on Aug 2

Soapwort: Yet another surprise was to find the double flowered form of this (known as Bouncing Bett) flowering by the main road into Havant from the north where it goes over the railway near Havant Station. No doubt this came from a garden but is now well eastablished among brambles with no one to care for it

Green Amaranth (Pigweed): On Aug 3 I found small plants starting to flower at a site in Juniper Square (Havant) where it has come up in recent years

Bastard Toadflax: This was still flowering on Portsdown on Aug 2

Hairy Vetchling (Lathyrus hirsutus): Plenty of this still flowering at its only Hampshire site on the old rubbish tip 'mountain' at Broadmarsh (Havant) on Aug 4

Sickle medick (Medicago sativa ssp. falcata): Another local rarity this species was still flowering on Portsdown (its only Hampshire site) on Aug 1

Lucerne: Several plants flowering beside the Portsdown Hill Road outside Fort Widley (and elsewhere on Portsdown) on Aug 2. I see that this plant is very closely related to Sickle Medick

Slender Hare's Ear: I found two small plants of this on Thorney Island near the Great Deeps on July 29 and commented that it would be difficult for anyone who did not know where to look to find them but by Aug 7 other plants in the same area (near the Little Deeps) had grown much taller and they should be now fairly easy to spot along the base of the seawall as you go south past the Little Deeps to the Great Deeps. On Aug 8 I searched the seawall of the Langstone South Moors and found two plants, not yet in flower, showing that the species is not yet extinct there.

Ling Heather: Just starting to flower in Stansted Forest on Aug 7

Lesser Centaury: I was delighted to find a good number of these tiny plants flowering at two places on Portsdown on Aug 2

Moth Mullein: A clump of white flowered plants has appeared in a Horndean garden and is now in flower - no doubt these pretty plants (which can be bought by gardeners) came as seed from a garden in which they were planted in the past but they have received no help to grow where they now are.

Round-leaved Fluellen: This was flourishing in Warblington Cemetery on Aug 6

Harebell: A better than usual show of these in flower on Portsdown on Aug 2

Shaggy Soldier: I usually find this at Prinsted but on Aug 7 Brian Fellows discovered a new to me site for it by the Thorney Main Road opposite the end of Thornham Lane

Violet Helleborine: Two plants in full flower at a site in Stansted Forest near the junction of the Main and Broad Avenues on Aug 7. It had been reported flowering in Kent on July 29 (with Broad Leaved Helleborine also flowering at the same site)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: I believe these have long been established in the Lymington River so it was no surprise to hear fo two being seen there by day on Aug 3 sharing a large Rainbow Trout

Common Seal: One seen near the gull roost just inside Pagham Harbour on Aug 5

Pygmy Shrew: One seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth during a Conservation Work Day on Aug 1

Water Vole: One in the R Ems at Brook Meadow on Aug 1 brought the count of sightings there for this year to 66

Large Black Slug (Arion ater): Rain this week brought out a full grown specimen for me to see in Stansted Forest on Aug 7

Basking Shark: These are a relatively common sight off Cornwall in the summer but a sighting of more than six in the 'inter-island' water between a couple of the Scillies on Aug 2 was reported as unusual

Oysters: An item in the news from Seasalter on the north coast of Kent (near Whitstable, home of the 'native' oysters) this week passes on a rumour that the Oyster Beds off Seasalter have new owners who have come from France and have brought Oysters over from France which are carrying a virus previously unknown in Britain - this could have implications for our local Oysters in Langstone Harbour.

Fungi: Recent rain will no doubt soon give us a good show of Fungi but I have only come across two examples this week. One has only been seen in passing along the Emsworth Road in Havant under trees on the north side of the road just west of the Traffic Lights at the junction of Southleigh Road and awaits investigation (I checkied it out on Aug 8 and found it to be a young Giant Polypore on the roots of a mature Beech tree not far east of Meadowlands road). The other was seen last Sunday (Aug 1) on the base of a mature oak in my son's garden at Botley and I fear it may give him a problem as it seems to be Inonotus dryadeus which causes white rot in oaks and could kill the tree.


Wildlife diary and news for July 26 - Aug 1 (Week 30 of 2010)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Bittern: The lone bird seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 22 was still there on July 27

Little Egret: A count of Egrets arriving at the Langstone Pond roost on the evening of July 30 recorded a total of 124. I have no information about other local roosts but there could be a similar number using the trees near the Little Deeps on Thorney Island and a smaller number in the south Hayling Tournerbury Wood trees.

Grey Heron: On July 29 a total of 38 Herons (including several juveniles) flew west over Christchurch Harbour. This probably represents post breeding dispersal but the number of birds involved is the highest I have seen in any previous reports of migrant Herons.

Spoonbill: 3 juveniles were on the Lymington marshes on July 26 and the number in Poole Harbour was up to 7 on July 30

Brent Goose: It would seem that the birds summering along the south coast have probably completed their summer moult and are now starting to show themselves and move around. On July 25 one appeared in Christchurch Harbour having flown in from the west and on July 26 two birds flew west from the Hamble River mouth while July 28 brought a report of one in the Holes Bay area of Poole Harbour

Shelduck: All the reports of these I have seen this week are of unaccompanied juveniles - the latest, of a single in Christchurch Harbour on July 30, carried the comment that all the adults have now left for their moult sites

Wigeon: I have not yet seen reports of returning birds elsewhere but on the evening of July 30, looking south from the Royal Oak at Langstone, I saw a bird in the outfall stream from Langstone Mill Pond which looked like an eclipse female though the bird was distant and my view hampered by the banks of the stream at low tide.

Garganey: Two separate birds were seen on the Lymington marshes on July 30, presumably new there as they start their autumn journey south

Shoveler: The first to return to Christchurch Harbour was seen there on July 28 and on July 29 I think I saw two in the creek running north east into Eames Farm fields from the west end of the Thorney Great Deeps

Red-breasted Merganser: Two seen this week, both on July 29. One was off the mouth of Shoreham Harbour and the other in the Solent off the Lymington marshes (where 14 Eider were reported on July 31)

Marsh Harrier: An adult and a juvenile were seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 27 - presumably birds from the family which bred there this year.

Osprey: What I think was the first returning bird to appear there this summer was at Thorney Island on July 25 (and still around on July 29). On July 26 one appeared at the Lower Test site at Southampton and has since been seen there daily. Other individuals were seen at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough and over Christchurch Harbour, both on July 26 - the latter bird flew on south out to sea

Hobby: One was seen locally in Emsworth Harbour chasing the Swallows coming to roost in the Thorney Island reeds on the evening of July 27

Quail: One was heard on the Downs above the River Arun south of Amberley on July 25 and on July 29 a group of four small birds which appeared to be Quail was seen in a wheat field at Plumpton Green (near the racecourse just north west of Lewes). The observer of the latter asked for support in his identification of them as Quail, and while I have seen no further comments on the SOS website I was reminded of my own encounter with similar birds on the Langstone South Moors on 22 Aug 2009 after which I was convinced that they were in fact baby Pheasants - one argument was that there were no previous south coast records of groups of Quail pausing on their southward journey (these birds were still present several days after I saw them), and the other argument (from a member of the Game Conservancy) was that young pheasants can fly short distances when only 12 days old when their appearance could be mistaken for Quail.

Avocet: These are now making their way west to the places where they will spend the winter in the River Exe and in Poole Harbour. Christchurch Harbour reported 7 passing on July 26 and 6 on July 30 whereas a report from Titchfield Haven on July 30 said that only 1 was left there (on June 18 the Three Amigos blog recorded the presence of 62 adults and 15 juveniles)

Golden Plover: A summer plumaged bird flying over Hope Gap (Beachy Head) on July 30 is the first returning bird I am aware of on the south coast

Lapwing: Still less than ten to be seen on the Langstone shore but on July 22 there were 47 in Christchurch Harbour and on July 29 there was an unusual report of 96 at Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire and 100 at Christchurch

Knot: Two birds seen on the Lymington marshes on July 26 were in full summer plumage

Sanderling: A flock of 100 were on the Climping shore (mouth of River Arun) on July 29 and no doubt even larger numbers will soon be seen on the Pilsey sands.

Little Stint: One appeared on the Lymington marshes on July 29 and two were there on July 30

Black-tailed Godwit: Peter Potts reports that these birds have had a poor breeding season in Iceland where he and his team managed to ring more than 100 birds. Non-breeding birds which have stayed here have been reported this week from Pagham and Christchurch Harbours but the only substantial current count is of 298 on July 29 at Hook near the mouth of the R Hamble.

Little Gull: The single bird which has been at the Lymington marshes since at least July 24 seems to be the only one on the south coast this week

Lesser Blackback: A large and growing number of these now breed on rooftops in many coastal towns but I was interested to see that a pair have raised two youngsters this year on the roof of the IBM North Harbour (Lakeside) building at Portsmouth - the young are now fledged.

Common Tern: A count of 706 entering Langstone Harbour to roost on the evening of July 28 was high for the time of year indicating that many of these birds are leaving early. One Roseate and one Black Tern also came to roost there that evening

Turtle Dove: One was heard 'purring' on north Thorney on both July 25 and 27

Cuckoo: One adult was at Dungeness on July 26 and two were at Folkestone on July 28 while a juvenile was seen in the Climping area at the mouth of the R Arun on July 29

Kingfisher: The first bird to be reported at a coastal site was one at Pett (on Rye Bay) on July 24 and Christchurch Harbour reported their first back on July 28

Swallow: Around 1000 Swallows were seen in Emsworth Harbour on the evening of July 27 before going to roost in the north Thorney Island reed beds, easily beating counts of around 400 roosting at Farlington Marshes on July 21 and another 400 heading south from Portland on July 23. On July 26 a single white Swallow was seen in the Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head - a rarity but not unknown (last year one was hatched in Aberdeenshire and another in Hampshire in the Hamble valley where one had been seen 20 years earlier)

Tree Pipit: One seen at Christchurch Harbour on July 29 seems to be the only passage bird so far

Yellow Wagtail: Passage birds had been seen at Dungeness since July 20 and the first to be reported in Hampshire was at Hook (Warsash) on July 26 with one at Durlston in Dorset on July 27

Robin: I heard the first brief burst of autumn song in my Havant garden on July 29 and Brian Fellows heard his first in the Southbourne area east of Emsworth on July 30

Nightingale: Departing birds have been seen on the Sussex coast since July 20 (max 2 on July 22)

Common Redstart: Departing birds first seen at Dungeness and Christchurch Harbour on July 26 with 4 on Luccombe Down (IoW) on July 30

Wheatear: First report from the coast at Portland on July 23 (12 there on July 29). Among several other reports three were on Thorney Island on July 27 and one at Hook (Warsash) on July 30

Grasshopper Warbler: The first departing bird was at Christchurch Harbour on July 23 and six were reported at Beachy Head on July 24

Sedge Warbler: 11 were at Christchurch Harbour on July 23 where 45 were seen on July 26 among numerous other reports

Reed Warbler: The first two departing birds were at Beachy Head on July 22 and by July 30 there were 15 at Christchurch

Lesser Whitethroat: First departing birds were 3 at Hope Gap (Beachy Head) on July 20 and 12 were seen at Seaford Head on July 27.

Common Whitethroat: 35 were at Hope Gap as early as July 20 and 54 were there on July 30 with many seen at other sites

Garden Warbler: One was at Beachy Head on July 24 and another in the fields south of Fareham on July 26 with ones and twos subsequently all along the coast

Blackcap: 7 at Beachy Head on July 20 and 8 at Christchurch on July 28 were the first and peak counts

Wood Warbler: One at Folkestone on July 27 and another at Sandwich Bay from July 27 to 30

Chiffchaff: Relatively few among the departing birds with a max of 20 on Luccombe Down (IoW) on July 30

Willow Warbler: First two seen at Beachy Head on July 22 with large numbers at many sites since then. Sandwich Bay had 100 on July 28 and Christchurch Harbour had 135 on July 29

Pied Flycatcher: First was at Pagham on July 26 with another at Dungeness that day followed by singles at Sandwich Bay, Christchurch, Luccombe Down (IoW) and Portland

Long-tailed Tit: 42 were among a mixed Tit flock of 100 birds at Four Marks in east Hampshire on July 27

House Sparrow: Many of these have now left the urban areas for their autumn 'holidays' in the country

Common Crossbill: The only report which I have seen to back up Lee Evans report last week of a 'widespread influx' is of a single bird moving north over Sandwich Bay on July 29

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Common Darter: The first I have heard of this summer was seen by Brian Fellows at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on July 30

Butterflies

36 species seen this week, including ...

Small, Essex, Lulworth, Silver Spotted and Large Skippers

Wood White: Second brood started to appear on July 21

Clouded Yellow: The only report I have seen this week is of one at Folkestone back on July 20

Brown Hairstreak: The first and so far only reports come from the Crawley area of Sussex on July 28

White-letter Hairstreak: Two were seen in the MoD Defence Munitions site at Gosport on July 29

Adonis Blue: The first of the second brood was seen at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on July 28 and others were out at Durlston on July 29

Purple Emperor: It seems that once they have mated females will travel long distances in search of suitable places to lay their eggs and this may account for two unexpected recent sightings - one of a female on a wheely bin in a Southbourne garden (east of Emsworth) and another which landed on a garden table in the Horsham area where the residents were sitting and eating plums in the sunshine. The Southbourne sighting may have been an insect originating in Stansted Forest where I am aware of reports in past years and now have confirmation that there is at least one 'master tree' where three or four of the butterflies could be seen on July 27 and 28.

The July 27 sighting was reported on the Sussex BC website by Michael Blencowe, a renowned Sussex butterfly guru whose home area near Eastbourne has no Purple Emperor sites, hence the enthusiasm over his first encounter - he wrote .. "Tuesday was a big day for me! As many of you know I have never seen a Purple Emperor before. Of course I've had many opportunities to join Neil on one of his walks but I always wanted to find my own and, as I've told many people, I hoped that one day one would land right in front of me. On Tuesday 27th July 2010 that's exactly what happened. Not just one - but two Purple Emperors came tumbling out of the sky right front of me! The unfortunate thing was, however, that I was travelling at 45mph at the time, driving down a road adjacent to Stansted Forest. I glimpsed two large butterflies as they fell fighting from above. Before I could slam on the brakes they were sucked under the car! As I gazed into the rear view mirror I saw one fly off apparently unharmed. The other was flat on the road but righted itself - and I swear I saw it dust itself off - and that's when I saw that unmistakable profile. It too took flight and was gone. Unbelievable! We put the hazard lights on and leapt from the car and stared up into the canopy at the amazing sight above. We were directly below a Master Tree with three Emperors soaring, fighting and attacking the odd passing bird. Next day Neil joined us and a fourth, a female, was located. Neil explained that the previous day I had almost killed a male and female - female Emperors have been known to tumble from the sky to evade the advances of a male. It could have ended tragically for all three of us - but luckily we all lived to tell the tale - and mine is of my first Purple Emperor; seen in my rear view mirror."

Painted Lady: Just a faint hint that an invasion may be starting with daily sightings from July 27 to 30 at in the Eastbourne, Worthing, Chichester and Luccombe Down (IoW) respectively - all of singles except for two seen at Luccombe

Small Tortoiseshell: Just two reports this week, both on July 24 - 5 seen in the Andover area and one on Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley

Wall Brown: The second brood which started to emerge on July 21 has since been seen at five sites in Sussex, two on the IoW and one in Dorset but none in Hampshire

Grayling: Last week I said that these first appeared on July 20 but now there is a single isolated report of 29 having been seen at Bleak Down on the IoW as early as July 9.

Moths

Convolvulus Hawkmoth: One of these massive immigrant moths was found in the Rye area on July 24, alive but so battered it was barely recognisable. It was thought to have been caught and 'played with' by a cat, adding fuel to the fire of those moth enthusiasts who hate the way in which cats are attracted to moth traps and decimate the catch.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Seven reports between July 24 and 30 is a slight increase on the poor showing of this species so far this year, all were of singles other than one of three seen at Longstock by the River Test on July 24

Ruby Tiger: July is the month in which this species is most likely to be found and a report of two seen at Durlston on July 28 is the first and only report I have noticed

Silver Y: Folkestone reported a large influx of these on July 25 (with 50 in one trap and many more seen by day)

Other Insects

Scaeva pyrastri Hoverfly: This large black and white fly has been more numerous than usual this year (as indeed have many Hoverfly species)

Volucella zonaria Hoverfly: This very large and hornet like fly was found in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on July 20 and I learnt from that report that the larvae of the species grow up in Wasp nests and feed on the Wasp larvae. Just one report of the species this week - two seen at Rye Harbour on July 30

Soldier Beetles: On July 27 Sandwich Bay reported 'hundreds of thousands' of Soldier Beetles pouring along the shore

Glow Worm: On July 28 an HWT walk party found at least 8 in the banks of Gillman Road on Portsdown (just below Fort Purbrook) and on July 29 there was a report of them being found in the south east part of Hollybank Woods at Emsworth (the first time I have heard of them in this wood). On July 31 a night walk at Durlston came on at least 11.

Great Green Bush Cricket: This week brought the first reports of adult insects from Durlston and Portsdown Hill, both on July 28

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common Fumitory: A first report of this in flower from field edges in the Southbourne area (east of Emsworth) on July 30

Bastard Toadflax: This was still flowering on Portsdown on July 28

Spreading Hedge Parsley: On July 29 Martin Rand (BSBI Plant Recorder for South Hants) saw the plants which I had seen in a Langstone garden on July 20 and confirmed that they were indeed Torilis arvensis arvensis (the species that was once common in arable fields in England) and not one of three sub-species that can be found elsewhere in Europe (and which might have arrived via bird seed). The origin of the plants remains a mystery.

Burnet Saxifrage: A good show of these plants was seen on July 27 in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery where the grass has not been mown for some time and more of them were found in St Faith's churchyard in central Havant on July 28

Wild Angelica: This was just starting to flower in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on July 27

Slender Hare's Ear (Bupleurum tenuissimum): The first few plants were found flowering on the Thorney Island seawall at the west end of the Great Deeps on July 29

Marsh Woundwort: Last year this attractive plant was flowering on July 1 but this year the first I have heard of was out at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on July 30

OTHER WILDLIFE

Hare: At least one could still be seen in the fields adjacent to the Thorney Great Deeps on July 24

Pointed Snail (Cochlicella acuta): This tiny snail of dry land (usually near the sea) can still be seen on the Thorney Island seawall at the west end of the Great Deeps. At least six tiny youngsters were clinging to grass stems when I was there on July 29


Wildlife diary and news for July 19 - 25 (Week 29 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

This week's summary is incomplete and is a 'practice run' to restore my memory of how I used to prepare Summaries before the recent enforced gap of six months in my work on this website

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Fulmar: Three flying off Gore Cliff at St Catherine's Point (IoW) on July 21

Manx Shearwater: 10 seen off Portland Bill on July 23 plus 3 Balearic Shearwaters

Bittern: One seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 22 was very unusual for the time of year - it was thought to have been there for a few days

Little Bittern: Lee Evans reports a female with fledged young was present at the Ham Wall RSPB reserve in Somerset on July 23

Little Egret: One was an unexpected visitor to Woolmer Pond in east Hampshire on July 22 and 23. Locally a large number are now using the Langstone Pond roost (around 50 thought to be there by 6pm on July 20 indicating a much larger number would probably arrive before nightfall)

Great White Egret: A long staying bird at Dungeness was still there on July 23

Purple Heron: The pair which has bred at Dungeness this year had at least two chicks seen on July 19

Spoonbill: A group of six juveniles were present at Keyhaven (Lymington) on July 19 and 20. At least one was at Brownsea Island in Poole Hbr on July 20

Egyptian Goose: On July 23 John Clark found 17 (including 6 fledged juveniles) at the Wellington Country Park in north Hampshire plus another 12 at Fleet Pond. Another 8 were by the River Avon at Cowards Marsh (Christchurch) on July 22 and I see that back in March a minor influx of the species had been reported in Sussex

Shelduck: Fledged juveniles are now starting to leave the company of their parents and to be seen unaccompanied or in creches. On July 23 four unaccompanied juveniles were seen at the Bembridge Marshes (IoW) and on July 24 a pair of adults had a creche of 13 juveniles with them. Locally I saw two unaccompanied juveniles at the mouth of the Langbrook stream (Langstone South Moors area)

Peregrine: The nest box on the chimney of Shoreham Power Station has been used by Peregrines for several years but it was taken down before the breeding season this year to permit work to take place on the chimney. By July 23 it had been re-installed and a pair of Peregrines were seen perched on it that day.

Quail: What was presumably a migrant heading south was heard at Portland Bill on July 23

Stone Curlew: Also presumably a migrant heading south was seen briefly on the ground at Rye Harbour on July 20

White-tailed Plover (aka White-tailed Lapwing): Very few of these have been recorded in Britain but on 27 May this year one turned up at Seaforth in Lancashire. What was probably the same bird then appeared at Rainham Marshes in London on 7 July, moving to Slimbridge on 9 July before moving to Dungeness where it was seen daily from 11 July to 21 July

Lapwing: At least six were back on the Langstone Pond shore by July 20 and there were 47 in Christchurch Harbour on July 22

Little Stint: One was among 97 Dunlin at Rye Harbour on Juy 25

Curlew Sandpiper: Jason Crook found a summer plumaged and 'very vocal' bird at the Hayling Oysterbeds on July 21 or 22

Ruff: Several passage birds seen this week - one at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on July 20, one at Lomoor Weymouth) on July 22, one at Titchfield Haven on July 23 and a male at Pagham Harbour on July 24

Black-tailed Godwit: On July 22 a flock of 270 were at Hook Links near the mouth of the R. Hamble at Warsash. On July 24 there were 25 in Pagham Harbour

Whimbrel: Quite a few reports of passage birds - I saw my first at the Langstone Pond shore on July 20

Spotted Redshank; At least two were in Poole Harbour on July 20 and 21 and another was at the mouth of the Beaulieu River on July 22

Redshank: Around 100 were on the Langstone Pond shore on July 20

Greenshank: Several recent reports including 11 birds at Farlington Marshes on July 21

Green Sandpiper: Plenty of these around including 8 at Rye Harbour on July 23 and 2 at Farlington Marshes on July 21 plus one flying over south Hayling on July 24

Wood Sandpiper: One at Weir Wood near Crowborough on July 21 foloowed by singles at Lodmoor and Lymington plus 3 at Rye Harbour this week

Common Sandpiper: Now being seen at many places along the south coast with 10 at Rye Harbour on July 23

Arctic Skua: One past Christchurch Harbour on July 20

Great Skua: One off Portland Bill on July 23

Little Gull: One seen at Pennington (Lymington) on July 20 and up to 3 at Dungeness this week

Common Gull: 3 back in Christchurch Harbour on July 24 and at least one at Langstone on July 25

Arctic Tern: One seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 24

Turtle Dove: Singles (presumably passage birds) on the Isel of Wight on July 23 and 24

Ring-necked Parakeet: One flew over Southampton on July 22

Cuckoo: Portland Bill reported their first bird heading south on July 22

Swallow: Around 400 came to roost in reeds at Farlington Marshes on July 21 (less than 10 Sand Martins among them) and Portland reported 400 flying south on July 23

Yellow Wagtail: 7 passage birds at Dungeness on July 20 with more later in the week

Nightingale: One in the Beachy Head area on July 20 with one or two more later in the week

Wheatear: At least one departing bird at Portland on July 23

Mistle Thrush: A post breeding flock of 10 birds at Cissbury Ring (Worthing) on July 20 and a single adult with one fledged juvenile in the Langstone Wade Court area that day.

Grasshopper Warbler: Singles on the Dorset coast on July 23 and 24 and 6 at Beachy Head on July 24

Sedge Warbler: More than 30 at Christchurch Harbour on July 24

Reed Warbler: 3 at Beachy Head on July 24

Whitethroat: 43 Common and 4 Lessers at Beachy Head on July 22

Blackcap: Plenty now moving south with 7 at Beachy Head on July 20

Willow Warbler: Portland reported the first 10 departing birds on July 23

Common Crossbill: Lee Evans reported a widespread influx into Britain on July 23

Bullfinch: Brian Fellows heard one singing in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on July 20. To hear this bird singling is very uncommon (I have only heard it once in my life) and at this time of year it must be even rarer.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: A brief sighting in a Langstone garden on July 20 was my first view of this species for the year

Hairy Dragonfly: A brief item on TV News this week about New Forest Dragonflies included an unexpected sighting of a Hairy Dragonfly by the Crockford Stream near Beaulieu - although this is a relatively common species in Kent, Sussex and Dorset it is not normally found in Hampshire

Butterflies

Wood White: At least one second brood insect was seen at Ebernoe near Midhurst on July 21

Green-veined White: Second brood insects have been out since at least July 19 when two wre seen in Creech Woods at Denmead

Purple Hairstreak: These seem to be flourishing this year - a single car drive on July 23 found them in 16 Sussex tetrads - and there have been numerous reports of them on the ground or at low level though they are most commonly seen around the tops of Oak treees

Brown Argus: This species is normally found on heathland but does occasionally have woodland colonies and on July 19 Andy Brook reported finding more than one in open areas of the Hollybank Woods (north of Emsworth)

Painted Lady: On 20 July 2009 more than 300 were seen at Dungeness and 500 in the Chichester area but this year the only reports I have seen for this week are of one at Stubbington near Gosport and another at Cissbury Ring above Worthing

Large Tortoiseshell: One reported at Knighton (IoW) on July 21

Camberwell Beauty: One was convincingly reported to have been seen in a Maresfield garden (by the A22 on the southern edge of Ashdown Forest) on July 21

Wall Brown: The first report of a second brood sighting comes from the Downs above the Cuckmere valley near Eastbourne on July 21

Grayling: An exceptionally early first sighting was made at Browndown near Gosport on July 1 but more normal first fnds come from north Hampshire heaths on July 20 and from the Eastbourne area on July 17

Moths

Humming-bird Hawkmoth: Very few reports this year - just three this week from Sandy Point on Hayling, Stubbington near Gosport and the Haywards Heath area of Sussex

Other Insects

Flying Ants: On July 20 there was little wind and the air was warm and this triggered an exceptionally massive emergence of flying ants. I watched a dense column of them rising from my garden for at least five minutes (probably much longer) and my son who had just driven past Havant Park said there were so many in the air there that they presented a traffic hazard. Later I read in the local press that this phenomenon was widespread and there were accounts of people fleeing from the streets of Gosport into whatever shops they happened to be close to in order to escape the ants which were on their clothing and in their hair

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Dwarf Gorse: At this time of year Common Gorse has ceased flowering but Dwarf Gorse is only just starting to flower. I saw a few bushes with flowers in Havant Thicket on July 24

Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus glaber): There was a large display of this along the seaward side of the cycle track running at the foot of the A27 embankment in the Chalkdock area of Langstone Harbour on July 21. Look for it where the wooden fencing on your left starts as you head west from the Broadmarsh grassland

Caucasian Stonecrop: This red flowered species had just started to flower on one grave in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on July 17

Short-fruited Willowherb (Epilobium obscurum): While in Havant Thicket on July 24 I saw a Willowherb which I did not recognize but subsequently named it as this species by virtue of its square stem and the length of its fruit capsules (less than 6 cm)

Spreading Hedge Parsley: On July 20 I noticed three small white flowered umbellifers growing as 'weeds' in a Langstone garden flowerbed and subsequently identified them as this species which I have not previously found in Hampshire though I have seen specimens that were past flowering in the East Park at Stansted.

Burnet Saxifrage: On July 17 I was pleased to see that a few plants were flowering in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery despite the close mowing of the grassland in which they grow

Marsh Pennywort: Although this is not a rare species I have not come across it for many years so I was pleased on July 24 to find a great mass of its leaves in the damp channel of the tiny stream running south across the rough grassland north of the Long Avenue running north from the Staunton Country Park lake

Golden Samphire: My first sight of this in flower was on July 20 on the Langstone Pond seawall where I also found that Lax Sea Lavender is flourishing with more and larger plants than in previous years

Sneezewort: On July 24 I was pleased to see that a few plants of this can still be found flowering in Havant Thicket

OTHER WILDLIFE

Water Vole: One was seen swimming underwater for some distance in the R Ems at Brook Meadow on July 19 (normally they swim on the surface)

Hare: 'Many leverets' reported to have been seen by a walker on The Burgh area of the Downs above the R Arun south of Amberley on July 25


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