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Wildlife diary and news for Sep 26 - Oct 2 (Week 39 of 2011)

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Apologies for brevity of this Summary. A powercut at 7pm meant that I lost all that I had written earlier in the day and had to start again


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Divers: Two Red-throated off Portland on Sep 30, one Black-throated off Dungeness on Sep 24 and one Great Northern off Land's End on Sep 28

Great Crested Grebe: 26 off the west Hayling shore on Sep 28 and 46 in the Chalk Dock area of Langstone Harbour on Oct 1

Cattle Egret: The long staying bird at the Thornham Marshses on Thorney Island (which arrived on Aug 14) was still there on Sep 29

Little Egret: The roost count at Langstone Pond on Sep 28 was of 166 birds (198 there on Sep 14 was probably the year peak). 144 roosted at north Thorney Island on Sep 23

Great White Egret: The regular bird at the Blashford Lakes was seen on Sep 26 and 29. Elsewhere in England two arrived at Radipole (Weymouth) on Sep 28, another two at the Axe estuary in south east Devon, and on Sep 30 one turned up at Marazion near Penzance in Cornwall. These arrivals reflect bigger movements on the continent where 28 were seen at just one of 30 sites reporting the species. On Sep 28 17 sites reported an overall total of 69 birds (max 14 at one site)

Grey Heron: Also increasing numbers on the continent with three sites reporting a total of 112 birds on Oct 1 (max at one site was 79)

Glossy Ibis: A mini-invasion on Sep 30 brought seven to Brading on the Isle of Wight, one to Christchurch Harbour and one to Glamrogan in Wales

Spoonbill: The number at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour was up to 28 on sep 30 and on Sep 28 three continental sites had a total of 65 birds (one of them in the Netherlands had 40)

Pinkfoot Geese: On Sep 23 Strathbeg in Aberdeen had an arrival of more than 25,000 birds and on Sep 25 at least 101 flew south past Flamborough Head into England

White Front Goose: None reported from English sites yet but on Sep 27 four Netherlands sites had 1 total of 439 birds

Dark-bellied Brent: By Sep 25 there was a total of 1142 birds at two sites in Germany and on Sep 28 Christchurch Harbour had 11, Langstone Harbour had 172 and Chichester Harbour had 400. By Oct 1 the Exe estuary had 235 and at least 3 had reached the Scillies while Langstone Harbour had more than 500 seen from west Hayling

Shelduck: Since the start of September these have gradually been starting to return from their summer moult and to join the few adults left here through the summer. Normally they do not settle on our local shores until mid-October at the earliest though a few may make one day stands on their way west but this year a flock seems to have settled on the Nore Barn shore west of Emsworth with 20 seen there on Sep 27 and 34 on Sep 28

Wigeon: These are late in arriving locally this autumn with the highest count this week being of 78 in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 25. Maybe they have overshot us and flown on west as the Exe estuary had over 300 on Oct 1

Red-breasted Merganser: Four arrived in the Exe estuary on Oct 1 but very few have been seen elsewhere

Pallid Harrier: The bird which has been in the Arun valley area since Sep 17 was still present on Oct 2. It is only one of at least 6 juvenile which have arrived in Britain this autumn, including one in Somerset

Osprey: Two were in Langstone Harbour on Sep 27 and two others in Chichester Harbour on Sep 30

Spotted Crake: The first of the autumn arrived in the Scillies on Sep 26

Common Crane: Two flew over Rye Harbour on Sep 27 and maybe they landed in the Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne where two have been seen from Sep 27 to Sep 30 at least

Sandhill Crane: Just one of these has been in Britain since Sep 16 (first seen in Scotland) and this week it has been flying south reaching Northumberland and Yorkshire on Sep 29. By Oct 1 it had reached Lincolnshire

Semi-palmated Sandpiper: This has been Hampshire's rarity of the week remaining on the Lymington shore from Sep 24 to Oct 1. Another has been in the Seaton area of east Devon

Grey Phalarope: The number in England has diminished with only Eastbourne, Tresco in the Scillies and Ivy Lake at Chichester having single birds this week. Sadly the bird on Ivy Lake at Chichester vanished in a splash of water while it was being watched on Sep 25 and is assumed to have been taken by a Pike

Sabine's Gull: These two have left our shores - the last that I know of was at Sturt Pond near Lymington on Sep 29

Auks: Both Guillemots and Razorbills have been seen on the south coast this week but all reports are of singles, including a Guillemot among the boats at Itchenor in Chichester Harbour on Sep 25 and a Razorbill in Portsmouth Harbour on Sep 29

Turtle Dove: Singles were at Folkestone and Durlston on Sep 29

Cuckoo: No reports from Britain but one was in Belgium on Sep 29

Tawny Owls: Several reports this week from several sites in Sussex of Owls calling noisily before dawn - they seem to be claiming territories earlier than ususal - maybe it has been a good breeding season and many young are in the market

Swift: The last to be reported in England was at Portland on Sep 25 after one was seen on Portsdown on Sep 24

Wryneck: 13 reports this week with the latest being in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 30

Swallow: Still plenty in England with 22,000 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28

House Martin: 11,500 arrived in the Thanet area of Kent from the continent and flew on west into England on Sep 26 reminding us that the large number of birds that fly along our south coast at this time of year have not necessarily bred in Britain. No reports of Sand Martins anywhere this week!

Yellow Wagtail: 60 were in the Hook/Warsash area on Sep 24 but numbers dropped off during the week with the only report on Sep 30 being of 2 over Christchurch Harbour

Grey Wagtail: Some of the passage birds that have been on the move since August seem to be settling down for the winter in Havant - on Sep 28 I heard one over Waitrose in Havant and the next day one flew over my garden

Dunnock: At least 144 were on the move in Germany on Sep 25 and I suspect we will sooon be seeing and hearing them back in our gardens as they recover from their moult and/or fly here from the continent for the winter

Black Redstart: These too are starting to be noticed as they move to winter quarters. This week one was in the Scillies on Sep 27 and another at Church Norton (Pagham Harbour) on Sep 30 while four were reported at a Netherlands site on Oct 1

Ring Ouzel: This week one was at Beachy Head on Sep 27, another at Dungeness on Sep 28 and one at Pagham Harbour on Sep 30

Blackbird: One Netherlands site had a group of 15 on Sep 25 and a different site had 31 on Sep 26 (maybe all heading for our gardens?)

Fieldfare: One Netherlands site had 3 on Sep 29 and the total at two sites on Oct 1 ws 4 birds

Song Thrush: On Sep 27 two Netherlands sites had a total of 200 birds and by Oct 1 the number on the move was up to 476 (all at one site)

Redwing: Five continental reports of birds on the move but the max count was no more than 6 birds

Mistle Thrush: At least 56 were on the move in the Belgium on Sep 25 and in Devon there was an unexpected flock of 45 near Kingsbridge on Sep 28

Blyth's Reed Warbler: One trapped at Portland on Sep 27

Yellow Browed Warbler: After 16 arrivied in Shetland on Sep 20 there has been one in Cornwall on Sep 27, one at Folkestone on Sep 28 and now one at Sandwich Bay on Sep 30

Goldcrest: Christchurch Harbour had 55 on Sep 29 as migrant arrivals build up

Bearded Tits: More than 15 were 'high flying' over their Thornham Marshes reedbeds as they summoned up the nerve to fly off into the unknown on Sep 30 while at Lymington that same day four were high flying and four more were seen flying away east

Golden Oriole: Ivan Lang (Pagham Harbour warden) is confident that he heard one fly overhead as he was checking his moth trap on Sep 27

Red-backed Shrike: One was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) from Sep 24 to 30 and another was seen near Land's End in Cornwall on Sep 29

Great Grey Shrike: Although one was reported in the New Forest on Sep 18 there have been no more reports of it. This week one bird was seen in Germany and 2 in Belgium

Woodchat Shrike: One was in the Scillies this week

Rose Coloured Starling: One was at Dungeness on Sep 23, one in the Scillies on Sep 28, one in Cornwall on Sep 29 and another is said to have spent the week before Oct 1on Lundy

House Sparrow: Both in Emsworth and in Havant this week brought the noisy chatter of House Sparrows back to gardens with dense shrubbery as they return from their autumn holiday in the local fields where grain crops have been harvested

Chaffinch: Their autumn passage has now got under way with a report from Germany of a total of 53150 birds at four sites

Brambling: The first autumn bird in southern England was at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 26 but so far no more than 15 birds have been reported from continental sites

Greenfinch: A count of 580 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 29 is the first to exceed 100 birds anywhere in southern England this autumn

Siskin: These are now being heard all across southern England but the peak count so far is of 930 birds at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 29

Twite: The first in England this autumn were 5 in Cumbria on Oct 1

Snow Bunting: The first in southern England was at Sennen in Cornwall on Sep 29 and 30 while another was seen in north Yorkshire on Oct 1

Reed Bunting: The first count to exceed 12 birds this autumn was of 109 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28

Wild Turkey: One that knew that Christmas was coming and had made its escape was seen near Paham Harbour on Sep 24.


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Notable sightings this week:

Red-veined Darter: One seen on Sep 28 by Paul Winter at the Badminston Pits near Calshot (New Forest area) was the firs to be reported since Aug 15

Willow Emerald Damselfly: Earlier reports this year never exceeded 14 insects but a visit to Alton Water at Tattingstone in Suffolk on Sep 25 recorded more than 100 insects

Species reported this week:

Southern Hawker, Common Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Gols Ringed Dragonfly, Black Darter, Red-veined Darter, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Emerald Damselfly, Willow Emerald Damselfly, Small red-eyed Damselfly, Small Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly


Notable sightings this week:

Red Admiral: These were flying south at most places this week and at Portland Bill they were watched heading out over the sea.

Grayling: Just one seen this week at Browndown near Gosport on Sep 26

Gatekeeper: One reported at Durlston on Sep 29 was the first anywhere since Sep 10 (also at Durlston)

Species reported this week:

Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Small Copper. Brown Argus, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma. Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath


Selected sightings this week:

Death's Head Hawkmoth: The first and only report for this year is of one landing among people sunbathing on Southsea Beach on Sep 24. The full text of the entry on the Hampshire Butterfly Conservation website read .. "Sophie Venables reports from Southsea beach (SZ667985) where the following observations were made: 'Death's head' hawkmoth (1). "I am reporting this as it seemed such an unusual find - I've never seen one before and noticed its dramatic size and appearance. It appeared on the dark strap of a camera bag and was drawn to dark colours, including my young son's shorts, climbing up his leg to get to them which unnerved him rather! My friend has a photograph which he will try to send to you independently.".

The first of a mini-invasion of Flame Brocade moths reached Friston near Eastbourne on Sep 30 and on Oct 1 more than ten were caught at the same site while another arrived at Portland

Another first for the year was a Dusky-lemon Sallow at Folkestone on Sep 29

Another prized first on Sep 29 was a Clifden Nonpareil somewhere in Sussex

Other Insects:

Selected sightings this week:

Volucella zonaria: One of these large Hoverflies seen at Durlston on Oct 1

Colletes hederae (Ivy Bee): This recent colonist of southen England was noted at Durlston for the first time this autumn on Sep 27

Stenus solutus (Rove Beetle species): This is one of more than 1000 Rove Beetle species but this one has a unique way of getting out of trouble if it ever hapens to fall into water - the surface tension supports its weight but does not give the beetle a chance to 'walk' to the water's edge. To get there it squirts a special detergent liguid from its back end and this creates a difference in the surface tension behind and in front of the beetle. By repeating the detergent squirting it can propel itself across the water in the direction it is pointing. Thanks top Graeme Lyons for this information.

Western Conifer Seed Bug: Five more reports of newly arrived immigrants at coastale sites from Dungeness to Durlston this week

England's biggest spider: Another fascinating nugget of information from Graeme Lyons decribes how he found the Sussex Site (Pevensey Levels) for this spider (Dolomedes plantarius) which is even bigger than the Dolomedes firmbriata Raft Spider that can be found in the New Forest. See Gaeme's blog entry at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/2011/09/facehugger.html and for information about the spider go to http://www.dolomedes.org.uk/

Wasp Spider (Argioppe bruennichi): I am delighted to see that Brian Fellows in Emsworth has just come across a female Wasp Spider still guarding the egg sac in which she has laid her eggs. Brian remarks that this was the first time he has seen one of these spiders without its distinctive web but she has put all her energy into spinning the intricate 'Chinese Lantern' container for her eggs and and now that it complete she has no further job in life and will not feed again - soon she will become a 'dead parrot'


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Plenty of plants still in flower but nothing new this week - the only new flower I was hoping for was Chinese Mugwort at Broadmarsh where it never flowers before October. When I checked in on Oct 1 there were plenty of healthy plants covered with unopen flower buds but none yet flowering. My count of flowering species this week was 151


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Common Seal: 14 were on the mud off Thorney Island on Sep 23 and 13 were seen there on Sep 30

White Squirrel: A pure white Grey Squirrel was seen in the Purbrook area on the north slope of Portsdown Hill on Sep 26 - not a great surprise to local naturalists as similar white (I think albino) animals have been seen in the greater Portsmouth area from time to time over more than 20 years. They seem able to live a normal life and do not die earlier than normal Greys.

Fungi: A list of species found this week includes: -

Fly Agaric - one in Havant Thicket on Sep 27

Pink Domecap (Calocybe carnea) - continuing to flourish in my Havant garden

The Deceiver - several in Havant Thicket on Sep 27

Blackening Waxcap - several in my Havant garden lawn

Pink Waxcap (Hygrocybe calyptriformis) - one I have not yet come across found in Ebernoe Churchyard near Midhurst by Graeme Lyona

Parrot Waxcap - another regular still present on my garden lawn

Fleecy Milkcap - Two large mature specimens in Havant Thicket on Sep 27

Primrose Brittlegill (Russula sardonia) - a colourful specimen with dark red cap, rose pink flushed stem and custard yellow gills found in Havant Thicket

Stubble Rosegill: One found in grass beside the Brockhampton Stream (west side of Budds Farm at Havant) - usually seen in arable fields after the harvest

Alder Scalycap (Pholiota alnicola): Found by John Goodspeed in the Hookheath Nature reseve (northern foot of Portsdown) on Sep 30

Weeping Widow: Also found by the Brockhampton stream

Chanterelle: This culinary prize found by Graeme Lyons in the Ebernoe area on Sep 29

Penny Bun/Cep: Two in Havant Thicket on Sep 27

Dryad's Saddle: A fresh specime growing from wood below the surface of the Hayling Coastal path on Sep 28

Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex): An unexpected find by Graeme Lyons in the North Laines area of Brighton - growing under a Kiwi Tree in the garden of a restaurant

Common Bird's-nest (Crucibulum laeve): Found in a compost bin among growing Potatoes in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 28

Dog Stinkhorn (Caninus mutinus): One found in the Ebernoe area of West Sussex on Sep 29


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Wildlife diary and news for Sep 19 - 25 (Week 38 of 2011)

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Bird news highlights:

A Common Crane named Mildred was seen in north Kent on Sep 20 - she came from an egg laid in Germany which was flown to England, hatched at Slimbridge, and destined to live in Somerset as part of the Great Crane Project. She's none the less a Crane for all that but in my personal opinion this human control of her destiny (and of Great Bustards, Red Kites, etc) takes her out of the 'Wildlife' category into the realm of 'Domestic Fowl'. Now that we fit satellite GPS transmitters to migratory bird species to see where they go I wonder how long it will be before we use similar technology to guide them safely (by electronic stimulation of their flight muscles) from the nature reserves in which they are permitted to spend the summer in Britain to the nature reserve where they are allowed to spend their winters.

Semi-palmated Sandpiper at Pennington late on Sat 24

170 Egytian Geese and 2475 Lesser Black-back Gulls roosting at Eversley (Hants/Berks border) on evening of Sep 24

Redwing: The first report from southern England comes from Hardham near Pulborough on Sep 23 but with it come reports from the Continent of Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrushes plus Fieldfares starting to move

Great Grey Shrike: First in southern England this winter was seen at Rushbush Pond in the New Forest on Sep 18

Insect News highlights:

A Western Conifer Seed Bug at Portland on Sep 24 was first to be reported this autumn other than one at Dungeness on Aug 25

Pretty picture of a Ruby-tailed Wasp at Woodmancote (not the one near Emsworth but close to Henfield) taken on Sep 24 - to see it go to http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html and scroll down to the entry for Sep 24 and click the picture to enlarge in order to see the full beauty

Plant News highlights:

Corn Parsley: I normally have to visit Sussex to see this growing naturally each year though I have found it growing in urban sites in South Hayling but on Sep 24 a team of Hampshire botanists led by Martin Rand found a location for it on the Langstone Harbour shore somewhere near the Saltmarsh Lane wetland where they also found the stand of Bastard Cabbage which has been there for several years

Other News highlights:

Nathusius' Bat: This is the rarest of the three Pipistrelle species seen in Britain and one was seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 22. This led me to check up on the species at http://www.nathusius.org.uk/ which has a map showing the distributuion of sightings in Britain. I went on to visit http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/uk_bat_species.html for further details and there I 'discovered' another bat species that I was not aware of - the Alcathoe bat (Myotis alcathoe) which was only confirmed as resident in Britain in 2010.

Thresher Shark: My thanks to Brian Banks for introducing me to another species that I was not aware of as a denizen of our south coast waters. Back on Aug 2 the Mammals section of the Dungeness Bird Observatory website (a section that I do not normally monitor!) reported .. "A dead calm sea made for excellent viewing conditions and at least 20 Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen. In addition, a very large Thresher Shark was seen leaping clear of the water." To find out more about this species I went to http://www.animalport.com/animals/Thresher-Shark.html which has a picture of one leaping from the water and gives me basic info about this creature - including the fact that it uses that very long tail to slap the water around a shoal of fish in order to drive them into a 'ball' from which it is easy for the shark to take several fish a one bite. Elsewhere I read that this tail-slapping stuns fish so that they are even easier to grab. Lots of information about this and other shark species is available in pdf factsheets that can be viewed via http://www.sharktrust.org/content.asp?did=35250 The sheet for the Thresher Shark tells me that it is a common species in temperate waters but is normally found more than 40 miles offshore, only coming close to the shore in order to give birth

Fungi: Graeme Lyons blog ( http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ ) has an entry for Sep 24 describing the find of the first Earth Star of the autumn under a Kiwi Tree in the Brighton Laines - this was a Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex). This led me to visit http://www.northlaine.co.uk/ to see what else goes on in that busy area but I could find no wildlife content among the abundant and colourful human actitivity you will find there


(Skip to Insects)

Divers: A count of 46 Red-throated at a north-east British site on Sep 18 shows that these birds are now on their way south in force though the only reports of divers on the south coast this week were of two Red-throated off Christchurch Harbour on Sep 18 and one 'diver species' off Portland on Sep 22

Balearic Shearwater: A good count of 283 passing Porthgwarra (near Lands End) on Sep 18 with 156 seen there on Sep 19

Storm Petrel: Also at Porthgwarra 263 Storm Petrels were seen on Sep 20

Bittern: The first to be seen at Rye Harbour this autumn was there on Sep 20

Squacco Heron: The first anywhere on the south coast this autumn was in the Little Sea area of Studland in Dorset on Sep 21

Cattle Egret: Latest mention of the Thorney Island bird was on Sep 23 when it went to roost near the Little Deeps with 144 Little Egrets

Grey Heron: These are still on the move in the Low Countries with counts of 82 at a Netherlands site on Sep 18 and 55 at a Belgian site on Sep 24

Spoonbill: One was seen to flew north west from Pilsey in Chichester Harbour across Hayling Island on Sep 22 when there were at least 14 in Poole Harbour. On Sep 23 a Belgian site reported a count of 116 so there may be more coming our way.

Egyptian Goose: The 2009 Hampshire Bird Report listed a county record count of 143 at Eversley (Hants/Berks border) in Oct 2009 - a very significant increase on a county record of five birds seen together prior to publication of 'Birds of Hampshire' in 1993. This week saw a new county record set with a count of 170 rosting at the Eversley gravel pits on the evening of Sep 24 - I have no idea where these birds come from but Birds of Britain magazine has an undated article ( see http://www.birdsofbritain.co.uk/bird-guide/egyptian-goose.asp ) saying that the British population now stands at 900 birds, 90% of which are to be found in Norfolk so I guess the birds now at Eversley have either come from Norfolk or direct from the Continent (Netherlands and Germany both have large feral populations). The BTO website adds to my knowledge by saying .."Their failure to spread outside East Anglia may be due to their nesting in the winter months (so productivity is often low) and to lack of introductions (it is not a quarry species)" .. and a follow up search on the breeding season tells me that "The breeding season is anywhere from July to March, depending on the area". I also read that the species is very sedentary and shows no tendency to migrate. Maybe the arrival of such a large number at Eversley is an indication that the numbers in Norfolk have grown beyond the population size that Norfolk can support?

Shelduck: Last week I reported the arrival of a flock of 27 on the shore between Emsworth and Langstone (on Sep 16) and I suggested that these would move on westward and that such numbers would not be seen there again until at least mid-October but in fact the birds have remained and their number had increased to 32 during this week.

Goldeneye: None seem to have arrived on our south coast so far but one flock of 31 birds seems to have arrived at a Netherlands site on Sep 18

Pallid Harrier: The bird first reported at The Burgh on the Sussex Downs (south of Amberley) as a young Montagus's Harrier on Sep 15 and subsequently identified as a Pallid Harrier on Sep 17 has remained in the area between Burpham village (near Arundel) and The Burgh until Sep 24 at least. On Sep 20 Lee Evans wrote .. "Following a westward expansion into European Russia and Finland by breeding male PALLID HARRIERS, further apparent juveniles continue to arrive in Britain, with the most recent being singles at Colne Point/St Osyth Marshes (Essex) and at The Burgh (West Sussex) following the three or more currently ranging over Shetland. Today saw another probable juvenile fly low north over Barns Ness (Lothian)."

Quail: Despite the accepted wisdom that Quail do not pause at the south coast on their autumn migration a pair of visiting birders (from Bracknell) walking round Thorney Island on Sep 23 claim to have heard one calling as they were in the Marker Point area

Lady Amherst's Pheasant: One reported from the Abbotsbury area of Dorset on Sep 18 - this is the only report of the species that I have come across this year

Corncrake: One was accidentally flushed from fields on Portland Island on Sep 21 after overnight rain which is likely to have deterred it from flying out over the channel

Common Crane: On Sep 17 two flew west over Rye Harbour and on Sep 19 one arrived at Reculver on the north Kent coast where it was seen to be colour ringed and thus discovered to be a female called Mildred which had come as an egg from a nest in Germany, been hatched in an incubator at Slimbridge and then released in the Somerset Levels as part of the project to introduce more Cranes to Britain in addition to those which have set up their own natural colony in Norfolk - two birds arrived there in 1979, the first young was hatched in 1981 and by 2007 35 adults were present, having raised 5 young in 2005. For those interested in the subject of introducing species into Britain there is a website ( http://www.hows.org.uk/inter/birds/exotics/gbr.htm ) summarising the known projects (covering Mammals and Insects as well as Birds). It says of Common Cranes .. "The common crane was hunted to extinction in Britain in the past but the birds recolonised the Norfolk Broads in 1979 and there is a slowly growing population currently numbering 35-40. These have spread naturally, supplemented with continental birds, and have got a toe hold in several other sites in the east of the UK. This natural re-colonisatisation is deemed too small and vunerable so a reintroduction was started in the Somerset levels in 2010. There are also some introduced common cranes in Norfolk but these are not officially sanctioned." Going back to the home page of this website which covers introductions and exotics in Europe my eye was caught bya BBC News article dated 1 Aug 2009 concerning an Asian 'super ant' called Lasius neglectus which had been found at Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire. This species is somehow attracted to electricity and to build its nests among powercables causing a real risk of starting fires if they import conductive materials into these nests - read all about it at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/gloucestershire/8179872.stm

Sandhill Crane: One bird of this much rarer species was in Scotland on Sept 16 and 22

Golden Plover: This week has brought reports of 350 on the north Kent coast and 300 at Rye Harbour but also of the first flock of 17 back in Chichester Harbour this autumn, seen in the Emsworth Channel near Marker Point on Thorney Island on Sep 23

Solitary Sandpiper: The bird found walking along a road in the Scillies (St Mary's) on Sep 15 with a cat following it along the road has survived to Sep 19 at least

Long-toed Stint (Calidris subminuta): A bird that was eventually identified as being of this species (rather than a Temmick's Stint) has been at Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex from Sep 16 to 21 and is the first of its species to be seen in Sussex and only the third for the UK

Semi-palmated Sandpiper: One was seen briefly on the Lymington shore at dusk on Sep 24 - also seen there this week have been Pectoral and Baird's Sandpipers

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: As well as birds seen in Cornwall, on the Scillies and at Dungeness this week two of them were on the Dorset coast at the White Nothe headland between Weymouth and Lulworth Cove

Ruff: Up to 10 were present at Pulborough Brooks on Sep 23 with others at some six other sites

Jack Snipe: One was photographed on the garden patio of a house in Emsworth on Sep 19 and the picture can be seen on Brian Fellows' website at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-289-jack-snipe-garden-SOS-20.09.11.jpg

Long-billed Dowitcher: The one seen in Cornwall on Sep 17 was still there on Sep 20 but on Sep 18 what was probably a different bird appeared on the Oare Marshes in north Kent

Lesser Yellowlegs: The bird seen in the Scillies and in Cornwall last week was still at the Drift reservoir site in Cornwall on Sep 20

Grey Phalarope: No shortage of these this week with birds reported from ten south coast sites including 36 birds at St Ives in Cornwall, 6 at The Lizard and 3 at Portland plus singles at Prinsted in Chichester Harbour up to Sep 19 and at Ivy Lake in Chichester on Sep 22 and 23

Skuas: Small numbers of birds contnue to be reported all round the British Isles but on Sep 18 exceptional numbers were recorded at St Ives in Cornwall (11 Long-tailed and 168 Great Skuas). St Ives also had 43 Sabine's Gulls that day.

Lesser Black-backed Gull: After the night roost count of 1200 at the Yateley gravel pits on the Hants/Berks border on Sep 12 John Clark made a further count there on Sep 24 and recorded a total of 2475 birds

Guillemot: One was seen in Hayling Bay on Sep 21

Turtle Dove: One was still in north Kent on Sep 20

Cuckoo: A late juvenile was seen at Arne in Dorset on Sep 18

Short-eared Owl: Two more arrivals this week - at Seaford on Sep 18 and Climping on Sep 19

Swift: Just one seen over southern England this week (Lymington shore on Sep 23)

Wryneck: Singles seen this week at Lymington (two sites), Cissbury Ring, Cornwall and the Scillies - last date was Sep 23

Sand Martin: Last big count was of 1200 over the Blashford Lakes on Sep 20

Swallow: 1800 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 23 was the largest of counts at six sites this week

House Martin: Top count was of 3610 in the Fleet area of Hampshire on Sep 20 but there were still 2000 over the Lymington shore on Sep 24

Tree Pipit: Five over Christchurch on Sep 19

Meadow Pipit: 1060 over Portland on Sep 19 with smaller numbers everywhere

Water Pipit: First mention of these on the move comes from Belgium on Sep 24 (just one bird)

Yellow Wagtail: Still twelve reports this week with a max count of 85 at Warsash on Sep 19. Also in the news were singles of both Grey Headed and Blue Headed birds in Cornwall on Sep 20

Grey Wagtail: Ten at Durlston on Sep 21

Alba Wagtails: Max count of 97 at Portland on Sep 19. Definite Whites were seen at Brownwich (Titchfield), Lymington and Farlington Marshes

Dunnock: 160 were on the move at a German site on Sep 23

Whinchat: Six were seen at Cissbury Ring on Sep 23 but smaller numbers were seen at ten other sites including 3 on the Langstone South Moors on Sep 22

Stonechat: Eight were seen at Climping (mouth of R Arun) on Sep 19, two were on the Langstone South Moors on Sep 22 and three were seen on Thorney Island on Sep 23

Wheatear: Max count of 100 at Portland on Sep 22

Ring Ouzel: Singles at four southern sites this week with two at a Netherlands site

Continental Thrushes: These will soon start to appear in our gardens - reports from continental sites this week are of 14 Blackbirds, 4 Fieldfares, 108 Song Thrushes and 24 Mistle Thrushes

Redwing: One was heard flying over a Hardham garden near Pulborough on Sep 23

Blackcap: A count of 550 at the Whitbread Hollow ringing station (Beachy Head) on Sep 23 with 300 Chiffchaffs but many other migrants such as Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats and Redstarts are being reported in very low numbers. Only 11 Willow Warblers at Whitbread Hollow on Sep 23

Yellow-browed Warbler: 16 are said to have arrived in the Shetlands by Sep 20

Gold and Firecrests: 9 Goldcrests at Durlston on Sep 23 with 3 Firecrests at Arne reflect the gradual increase and spread of these migrants

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/0911/0918/0925/09
Turtle Dove14 6 10 7 54111
Cuckoo11 1 1 1 111
Nightjar-- - - 1 1 11-
Swift801500 20 29 2224511
Sand Martin5003001000+45030001000200040001200
Swallow10015000+500+150 1800120002100216001800
House Martin5080250+40-400+55040003610
Tree Pipit4148107015565
Meadow Pipit 6035 24156020200106
Yellow Wagtail2015030055 2002508017485
Grey Wagtail----51051410
Pied Wagtail--12250+ 151242
Common Redstart2433235432
Ring Ouzel31
Grasshopper Warbler393106105532
Sedge Warbler1807645100+704-61
Reed Warbler5 730+546-72
Lesser Whitethroat612813171132+5
Common Whitethroat220130150350175100334030
Garden Warbler10129+1543241
Wood Warbler-1-1-13--
Willow Warbler12501752905001002001111
Spotted Flycatcher-1011415125122
Pied Flycatcher221152211

Bearded Tits: A report of 10 'high flying' at the Oare Marshes in Kent confirms that they are starting to move to new sites. Other reports are of 25 seen at Seasalter on the north Kent coast on Sep 18, when there were 25 at the Oare Marshes and 30+ at Farlington Marshes

Red-backed Shrike: Singles seen this week in the Scillies and in north Kent

Great Grey Shrike: The first for this winter was seen in the New Forest at Rushbush Pond on Sep 18

Tree Sparrow: On Sep 23 a flock of 142 was at a German site while over here 2 were seen in the New Forest near Fawley and a single was at Sturt Pond near Lymington

Siskin: A flock of 200 was seen at North Baddesley near Romsey on Sep 19 and lesser numbers were on the move at 10 other south coast sites during the week including 78 over Gilkicker Point at Gosport and 21 over Milton Common in Southsea

Lapland Bunting: These have been seen in the west country since Sep 4 but on Sep 15 one was seen at Sandwich Bay and since then there have been sightings at Farmoor in Oxon and the Cuckmere valley in Sussex

Snow Bunting: First report for this winter is of one in the Netherlands on Sep 23

Baltimore Oriole: This new vagrant arrived in the Scillies on Sep 20


(Skip to Plants)


Notable sightings this week:

A much reduced species list this week

Species reported this week:

Brown Hawker, Common Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Golden Ringed, Black Darter, Common Darter, Small Red Damsel, Emerald Damsel


Notable sightings this week:

Clouded Yellow: Sightings at six sites this week shows that the migration period is not yet over

Red Admiral: A count of 60 at Gosport on Sep 16

Painted Lady: Five sightings this week indicates a similar status as the Clouded Yellow

Wall Brown: On Sep 23 eleven third brood insects, two of them mating, were found at the eastern end of the Sussex Downs

Grayling: On Sep 15 the Farnborough area had 17 still on the wing with another two at Browndown in Gosport and a late single was seen in the New Forest on Sep 19

Small Heath: 74 were flying in the Farnborough area on Sep 15

Species reported this week:

Silver Spotted Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Brown Hairstreak, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Grayling, Meadow Brown, Small Heath


Selected sightings this week:

Oxyptilus laetus: This is an immigrant Plume Moth which turned up at Dungeness on Sep 9 and is so rare that the UK Moths website does not yet have a photograph of the species but you can see it if you go to http://www.dungenessbirdobs.org.uk/lateframe.html and click the 'Fauna' button at the head of the page.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth: Four reports this week including one from Tony Wilson at Edburton on the Sussex Downs who says (Sussex Butterfly Conservation website entry for Sep 22) .. "I have nurtured my nicotiana plants from seeds in the hope of getting a Convolvulus Hawkmoth and tonight it happened. The plants are under an outside light by my patio doors so I got brilliant views of it feeding several times throughout the evening. Although I've seen them at rest on the Scilly Isles, I've never seen one in flight and I have to say it was spectacular  as big as a bat with a hugely long tongue and a curiously slow flight - the best moth I've ever seen!"

Other Insects:

Selected sightings this week:

Dor Beetle (Geotrupes stercorarius): One found on the path leading from Victoria Road to the Emsworth Recreation ground on Sep 19 - see Brian Fellows photo at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-293-dor-beetle-wash-rd-ws-19.09.11.jpg - although not very obvious in the photo Brian says that the beetle lived up to its alternative name of "The Lousy Watchman" by being covered in tiny mites

Pantilius tunicatus: I came across this Mirid Bug through Graeme Lyons stimulating website after he had seen one on the outside wall of the wooden classroom at the Woods Mill HQ of the Sussex Wildlife Trust - to see his photo of it visit his website ( http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ ) and scroll down to the entry for Sep 23 headed 'Pantilius'. This species also introduced me to another website which could be very useful in the identification of any British Bug - see http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/heteroptera/Miridae/pantilius_tunicatus.html and then have a look at the home page http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/ and click 'Systematic Lists'

The Invisible Spider (Drapetisca socialis): Another 'new to me' species which is apparently quite common on smooth barked trees but is only 4mm in body length. I learnt of it through Graeme Lyons website (see his entry for Sep 19)


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Brooklime: I have not seen this in flower since July 23 but Brian Fellows found it re-flowering in the Chichester Canal on Sep 22

Rootless duckweed (Wolffia arrhiza): This species is not found in Hampshire but Graeme Lyons knew of its presence in ditches at the Lewes Railway Lands (old rail goods yards on the east side of Lewes now converted into a large social and ecological site - see http://www.railwaylandproject.org/ ) and he visited the site on Sep 21 before writing an entry in his blog under the title 'The UK's smallest vascular plant"

See the Highlights section at the head of this Week's Summary for news of a new site for Corn Parsley on Hayling Island


(Skip to Endweek)

Roe Deer: Durlston reports that a pair seen on Sep 19 were already starting to acquire winter pelage (i.e.coat) and that the male was starting to drop his antlers.

Dormouse: Although rarely seen by the casual naturalist I think these creatures are more widespread than most people believe and a sighting of one running around just outside the entrance to a TESCO store in Lewes on Sep 21 suppports that view

Hare: One or two sightings this week but the one that caught my attention was a local sighting on the fields of Eames Farm, seen from the western seawall of Thorney Island north of the Great Deeps. I can remember Hares being a regular sight in those fields and am delighted to hear that they have not vanished.

Nathusius Bat: See the highlights above for details of how this and another bat species have come to my attention

Leatherback Turtle: The second report to come to my attention this autumn is of one seen from Pendeen in Cornwall on Sep 18 (the previous report was from the Scillies on Aug 14)

Lesser Bulin (Ena obscura): This scientific name may suggest a shy member of the Coronation Street cast but this is in fact a not uncommon small snail species seen on a tree trunk near Ditchling Beacon on the Sussex Downs by Graeme Lyons on Sep 19. A photo of this species can be found at http://naturenet.net/blogs/media/blogs/eating/Ena-obscura.jpg and it is also worth looking at http://www.open2.net/survey/snails/html_download/snail_download.htm for an introduction to snails and the terminology used in their identification - if you scroll down to the section headed "Dextral long thin shells (various families)" you will see another photo with text below this heading including .. "One of the commoner species in this group, the Lesser Bulin (Ena obscura) appears to cover itself with mud or other debris so can be tricky to spot."

Fungi: We are really into the autumn fungus season now with Durlston reporting the first Death Cap and the first Parasol Mushroom plus a second example of the Red Cage (the first was reported on July 24 and the second - now actively attracting flies on Sep 18). Also appearing at Durlston this week were Grey Coral and Yellow Brain while locally a walk from Havant to Stansted Park and back through the Hollybank Woods gave me Field Mushrooms, Fairy Ring Champignons, Agaricus bisporus and what may have been Agrocybe praecox in grassland with Slippery Jack under conifers and the Amethyst Deceiver among Inocybe geophylla in woodland plus Pleurotus dryinus on the cut stump of an Ash tree. Later in the week Brian Fellows found Boletus erythropus in the grass verge of an Emsworth road and subsequent visits to that site by myself and Brian have added Brown Rollrim and Russula aeruginea. As you will have seen in the highlights above the first Earthstar of the autumn has been found - Geastrum triplex growing under a Kiwi Fruit tree in a Brighton garden. Late news of finds of Dog Stinkhorn, Chanterelle, Black Helvella, and Hygrocybe calyptriformis come from Graeme Lyons who found them in the Ebenoe churchyard area near Midhurst on Sep 25 (he uses the new English Names of Pink Waxcap and Elfin Saddle for the last two of these). In my own garden Blackening Waxcaps have started to appear.


(Back to start of current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Sep 12 - 18 (Week 37 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird news highlights:

This week saw the return of our winter Brent Geese (seemingly both Dark and - in north Devon and the Scillies - Pale-breasted species) and gave me what I suspect is this year's peak count of 198 Little Egrets night roosting at Langstone Pond

It also marked the start of the 'Scilly Season' when birders make their annual attempt to sink the islands with the combined weight of the twitchers seeking to tick the equally large number of storm driven (or 'navigationally incompetent' birds which chose to land there rather than perish in the Atlantic. Unusual bird species seen there (or in other parts of Britain) this week include Fea's Petrel, Little Bittern, Greater Flamingo, Sandhill and Common Crane, Semi-palmated, Solitary, Spotted, Baird's, Buff-breasted and White-rumped Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Ross's Gull, Tawny Pipit, Black-and-White Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Waterthrush and an escaped Yellow-breasted Tit. I was amused by the entry for Sep 14 in http://www.scilly-birding.co.uk/ which read ... "St. Mary’s – A Solitary Sandpiper was found in the middle of the road by Newford Duck Pond. Fortunately 3 visiting birders found it, it was been stalked by a cat! They shooed off the cat and chivvied the bird onto the mud on the pond were it seemed to feed happily all afternoon."

Local excitement this week has come from the sight of the Thornham Marshes Cattle Egret catching and eating one of the Yellow Wagtails that share its interest in the insects attracted to the cattle (the Wagtails showed their strong objection to the Egret's choice of food by mobbing the Egret and driving it off but it was soon back and apparently forgiven). The north east of Thorney Island also hosted a Wryneck and a Sabine's Gull while Prinsted Bay had one of around 20 Grey Phalaropes seen at 10 south coast sites this week (another was in the Sword Sands area of Langstone Harbour watched from the Great Salterns Quay by the Eastern Road in Portsmouth).

Another event in the local birding calendar was the return of Shelduck to the muddy shore between Emsworth and Langstone - an adult had been seen in Emsworth Harbour on Aug 26 and 16 were at the Thorney Great Deeps on Sep 2 but a flock of 27 in the Emsworth-Langstone area on Sep 16 seems to indicate an early return of these birds which will be a regular sight here in late November and December (the equivalent date in 2009 was Oct 17 when 27 were seen here). These early birds are unlikely to stay here but are part of a westward movement along the south coast as Shelduck regain their flight feathers after their annual moult off the Dutch/German coast and move to their winter quarters, en route picking up the adults which have stayed here to chaperone young hatched here and also now able to fly.

Additions this week to the migrant species arriving here for the winter have been Siskin - the first birds for this autumn were noted at Winchelsea near Rye on Sep 13, at Climping on the West Sussex coast on Sep 14 and at Portland on Sep 15 - and Pinkfoot Goose - 189 arrived in Lancashire on Sep 14 and 6 reached the north Kent coast on Sep 15

Insect News highlights:

Lesser Stag Beetle: George Spraggs blog has been recently updated to reveal that he has come across one in the West Town area of Hayling

Plant News highlights:

On Sep 13 I found a new site for Slender Hare's Ear in the Warblington Farm fields and on Sep 15 while visiting south Hayling I discovered new sites for Sand Spurrey, Chicory and Corn Parsley

Of more general interest Common Gorse had come into general flowering by Sep 15

Other News highlights:

This week my annual garden show of Waxcap fungi started and among the fungi on the lawn I was puzzled by the sight of two halves of a Grey Squirrel's tail which had apparently been the rope used in a nocturnal tug-of-war between two unknown (but extremely vociferous) animals. We also have a couple of links to unusual photos - one of a Great Crested and a Common Newt nestling side by side in a human hand and the other of a Common Lizard which had lost its tail


(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Six reports this week of single Red-throated along our south coast and one of 32 from Denmark on Sep 15 plus single Black-throated off the Durham/Yorkshire coast on Sep 16 and the first Great Northern off Durham on Sep 14

Grebes: On Sep 15 I counted 22 Great Crested as I cycled down the Hayling Coastal Path and I suspect these were in addition to the flock of around 30 that have been in the Broadmarsh area. The single Black-necked that has been at the Blashford Lakes since Aug 1 was still there on Sep 17 and a single Red-necked off the Belgian coast on Sep 14 has also been around since early August

Bittern: At dusk on Sep 16 three were seen flying east from the Ardingly reservoir near Haywards Heath and on Sep 13 the first to be reported in Dorset this autumn was at Lodmoor (Weymouth). On Sep 12 a Little Bittern turned up at Titchwell on the Norfolk coast

Cattle Egret: The Thornham Marshes bird was still present on Sep 17 when it caught and ate a Yellow Wagtail

Little Egret: On Sep 14 I made what may well be the peak roost count of 198 birds at Langstone Pond

Great White Egret: The regular Blashford Lakes bird was there on Sep 10 but may have flown 15 miles south east to be seen on the Avon Flood at Keyhaven on Sep 12 - no other reports from either site this week but over on the continent there were 12 of these birds at one Netherlands site on Sep 12

Grey Heron: Migration is in full force on the continent with counts from the Netherlands being 152 on Sep 14, 414 on Sep 15, 53 on Sep 16 and 24 on Sep 17. On Sep 14 the Grey Herons were accompanied by 140 Purple Herons.

White Stork: The peak count of migrants through the Netherlands this week was 137 on Sep 15

Spoonbill: Also on Sep 15 a Belgian site reported 431 Spoonbills - a very sharp peak with no other report for the week being of more than 54. The only other 100+ report for this year was also from Belgium with 107 seen on Apr 10. Here Brownsea Island also had a good count of 15 birds on Sep 15

Flamingo: A Greater Flamingo flew in and landed at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on Sep 16. No doubt it had escaped from a collection not too far from Ringwood but if Bob Chapman was correct in saying that it was a 'Greater' than it is unlikely to have come from Flamingo Park at Seaview on the Isle of Wight as their website says they have around 100 Flamingos of the Chilean, Lesser and Carribean species only

Pink Foot Goose: 189 arrived in Lancashire on Sep 14 and 6 reached the north Kent coast on Sep 15

Brent Goose: First to be reported were 9 which arrived in the Scillies on Sep 12, followed by one on the North Devon coast near Bideford on Sep 14 - I'm pretty sure these will have been Pale-bellied birds from Greenland and that the Bideford bird has been summering (seen at the same site on Aug 2). The first Dark-bellied birds arriving from the east appeared on Sep 15 (when an unspecified number flew past Dungeness, two went west along the north Kent coast at Reculver, and three were off Cap Gris-Nez in France). Also on Sep 15 I saw six Brent in the Mengham Rythe area just inside the Chichester Harbour entrance though these were almost certainly from the group of 11 that have spent the summer in that harbour. Sep 16 saw two more arrivals reaching Kent - a single bird passing Folkestone and a group of three in the Pegwell Bay and Reculver areas - and others much further west (the first flock of 23 in Langstone Harbour and what may have been the same group of 4 flying west past Climping at the mouth of the R. Arun and later past Christchurch Harbour). On Sep 17 a flock of 53 were heading along the French coast, 17 were seen from Splash Point at Seaford, and singles were reported at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) and the mouth of the R. Exe in Devon. I did wonder if these Dorset and Devon sightings were of Pale-bellied birds but a photo of the Ferrybridge bird shows it was Dark-bellied and previous reports of the Exmouth bird during the summer show that it was not a new arrival and was Dark-bellied. Today (Sep 18) the Langstone Harbour flock had acquired 5 more birds - possibly summering birds which I suspect to have been in the harbour though not reported - to give a report of 28 birds

Shelduck: The great majority of adult birds leave southern England before the end of June for sites where they can pass their flightless summer moult period in safety from predators such as Foxes - I think our southern birds fly east to the huge sandy beaches off the north German and Netherlands shores but others go to the north Devon coast and perhaps some use the Norfolk coast. Most of the birds that breed here also join the moulting flocks at the last minute after their eggs have hatched, leaving very few adults to chaperon mixed flocks of ducklings from several families. Another feature of the Shelduck lifestyle is that (at least along the south coast) very few nest close to the sea but have nests five miles or more inland where there is a far greater choice of relatively safe nest sites under tree roots or in rabbit burrows. I have no information on what happens to the chicks that hatch at these inland sites - do they immediately start the long and dangerous walk to the sea (having to cross busy road and electrified railways en route) or do they find places to survive inland until they can fly to the sea?

What I can observe from the reports that I see is that during the June to August period the coastal sightings are of few adults outnumbered by ducklings, then from the start of September both adults and young start to gain the ability to fly with small groups appearing unexpectedly on the harbour shores but rarely staying in one place for more than a day or so. The number of returning adults gradually builds up through September and October. From the start of November the birds start to settle down and you can expect that a flock which you saw one day will still be present next day and next week, and through December and January the flocks are at peak strength and there is little movement from place to place.

We have already seen the first stages of this autmn cycle with the presence of a family (one adult and two young) in Emsworth Harbour on Aug 26 followed by a count of 16 birds at Thorney Great Deeps on Sep 2. This week has taken us a step further with the arrival of 27 birds on the mud off Emsworth on Sep 16 and this may indicate that the winter build up will occur earlier than usual this year as in 2009 an equivalent 'first flock' did not appear on the Emsworth to Langstone shore until Oct 17. Whatever happens I strongly suspect we will not see the 27 birds of this week still here next week as I'm pretty sure they will have moved on westward by now.

Garganey: Singles were still to be seen at Alresford Pond, Pagham Harbour and the Lymington shore this week with the latest report being of 6 flying west over the sea on Sep 16 close in to the Climping shore heading past Bognor to Selsey Bill. These are probably not the last to be seen this year as the average 'last date' for Hampshire is Sep 27 and in 1953 one was still here on Nov 29

Goosander: A strong hint that we will soon be seeing birds arriving from the north is a report of 15 off the Netherlands coast on Sep 14

Raptors: Sussex birders on the Downs south of Pulborough on Sep 17 saw both Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier (both regulars there for some time now) with the bonus of a juvenile Montagu's Harrier and possibly also a Pallid Harrier though I could not be certain from the reports if the possible Pallid Harrier was in addition to or an alternative id for the Montagu's. Also on Sep 17 a Marsh Harrier was at Titchfield Haven and 22 of them passed through one Netherlands site (with further sightings at 12 other sites). In the Itchen Valley a Goshawk was seen soaring over a Bishopstoke garden (near Eastleigh) on Sep 16. On Sep 9 there was an indication of Scandinavian Sparrowhawks moving south for the winter with 73 over a German site and on Sep 14 Dungeness reported 48 passing over with another 9 over on Sep 15 (I assume they were travelling south and suspect they too were Scandinavian birds which had come across the North Sea and just clipped East Kent). It seems that at least 12 Ospreys passed through south east England this week including one of Roy Dennis' Highland birds over Arundel on Sep 11. Both Merlins and Hobbies were still being seen on most days this week.

Quail: Reports of our summer birds seemed to have ceased with one at Portland on Sep 3 but Sep 15 brought a surprise report of one at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (Mevagissey on the south coast of Cornwall)

Corncrake: Another surprise sighting was of a Corncrake in the Scillies on Sep 13

Common Crane: Two flew in at Dungeness on Sep 14 and made an overnight stop in the Kent Stour Valley before disappearing. A different bird was first spotted at Eastney (Portsmouth) on Sep 16 to be seen at Titchfield Haven, Hook (Warsash), Normandy and Keyhaven (both ends of the Lymington marshes), then over Burton and Christchurch Harbour before heading north up the Avon Valley and into oblivion. Also on Sep 16 a Sandhill Crane flew south over Dunbar (Lothian) in Scotland before disappearing.

Waders: A single Dotterel was heard and briefly seen over Reculver on the north Kent coast on Sep 16 and another was in the Scillies that day. On Sep 12 a Semi-palmated Sandpiper was at Chew Valley Lake in Somerset and on Sep 16 it or another was at the Drift reservoir near Penzance in Cornwall. An even rarer Solitary Sandpiper arrived on St Mary's in the Scillies on Sep 15 to be seen walking along a road followed by a cat - luckily three birders came to its rescue, chasing off the cat and shooing the Sandpiper onto the muddy edges of a nearby duckpond but it has not been seen since - I wonder if the cat came back? A White-rumped Sandpiper was near Truro in Cornwall on Sep 17 and a Baird's Sandpiper has been on the Lymington shore from Sep 14 to 18 at least. This week Pectoral Sandpipers have been at Pegwell Bay in Kent, Poole Harbour in Dorset, Exmouth in Devon, Wadebridge in Cornwall and five were in the Scillies on Sep 13. Curlew Sandpipers have been at several sites including north Hayling (3 on Sep 11), Pagham Harbour (3 on Sep 15), Lymington marshes (9 on Sep 16), Rye Harbour (8 on Sep 13), a total of 38 Buff-breasted Sandpipers were said to be in Britain on Sep 15 including up to 8 in the Scillies and 4 in Weymouth Harbour. Pulborough Brooks had the highest count of Ruff with 9 on Sep 16. Snipe numbers are now rocketing with 250 at a Netherlands site on Sep 17 but on that day the spotlight was on a single Long-billed Dowitcher at Stithians reservoir south of Redruth in Cornwall and on a single Lesser Yellowlegs at Drift Reservoir near Penzance. Earlier, on Sep 12 and 13 Cornwall added a new species to its county list with a confirmed Greater Yellowlegs near Wadebridge. This week has brought a multitude of Grey Phalaropes to our shores with a peak count of 10 in Chesil Cove (Portland) on Sep 13 and others seen at ten other sites between Portland and Brighton Marina. Close to Havant one was discovered on Sep 16 in Prinsted Bay by Tony Wootton from Emsworth and was still there on Sep 17 for two other observers. Another was seen in Langstone Harbour on Sep 15 near the Great Salterns Quay (on the Portsmouth side close to the Eastern Road)

Skuas: Pomarine, Arctic, Long-tailed and Great were all present but the only large counts were of 57 Bonxies off the north Kent coast on Sep 16 after a surge had brought 407 to the French coast on Sep 15

Gulls: Sabine's were seen at eight sites during the week including one on Sep 17 which flew over Barry Collins head as he was passing the west end of the Little Deeps on Thorney Island. Two new adult Ring-billed Gulls were seen on the Cornish coast on Sep 12 (with no reports of the Christchurch bird during this week). On the evening of Sep 12 John Clark found 1200 Lesser Blackbacks coming to roost at the Fox Lane gravel pits on the Hants/Berks border near Yateley and on Sep 13 there were 14 Yellow-legged Gulls at that site with 11 seen at the Lower Test Marshes and more than 64 at Swineham in Poole Harbour on the next two days. Other than one seen in May in the same area a Ross's Gull at a Netherlands site on Sep 15 seems to have been the first for the year.

Terns: The biggest count of Sandwich Terns this week was of 310 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 11 and the last substantial count was of 94 there on Sep 12 so perhaps migration is tailing off. I thought we had seen the last Roseate on Aug 31 but a single straggler was reported at Dungeness on Sep 11. Common Terns have also ceased to figure in reports since Sep 12 when 260 were reported at Sandwich Bay but Arctic Tern passage is still ongoing with daily reports from Sep 11 to 15 (max 17 at Christchurch on Sep 12). Little Terns were also putting on a late spurt with 16 at Dungeness on Sep 15 and Black Terns were still at three English and one Netherlands site on Sep 17 - the Netherlands also had a single White-winged Black Tern on Sep 14

Auks: Single Guillemots were at three south coast sites this week and Christchurch Harbour had two Razorbills on Sep 11 plus one on Sep 12. There was also a single Puffin off Portland on Sep 17

Turtle Dove: These ceased to breed on the west Hayling shore several years ago and this year is the first that they have not been regularly seen on north Thorney Island but total loss has been avoided by one which turned up there on Sep 11

Cuckoo: Maybe the last in England was a juvenile at Pagham Harbour on Sep 10 but two others were seen on the continent - one in Germany on Sep 12 and one in the Netherlands on Sep 17

Short-eared Owl: One arrived at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 14 to be driven off by Crows but I think it stayed around to be seen again on Sep 16 after a new arrival was seen on the Pevensey Levels on Sep 15

Nightjar: The only report from England was of one feeding up at Durlston at dawn on Sep 15

Swift: Other than two seen at Liphook near Petersfield on Sep 10 the three reports for this week are all on singles

Hoopoe: One has been seen sporadically from Sep 11 to 14 in Glynde village just upstream from Lewes on the Sussex Ouse

Wryneck: Singles seen at eight sites this week including the north west part of Thorney Island where it was one of four birds present on Sep 16 (the others were at Warsash, Netley and Lymington along the Hampshire coast)

Woodlark: A local sighting at Rowlands Castle was made around Sep 8 and another was heard singing near Fleet in north Hampshire on Sep 11

Sand Martin: Still plenty around with 3000 reported at the Blashford Lakes on Sep 12 and 4000 departing over Dungeness on Sep 16 (when 1000 were flying east over Durlston)

Swallow: Large numbers this week with the peak count being of 21,600 over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 16

House Martin: Christchurch Harbour also reported the top count of 4000 on Sep 16

Tawny Pipit: On Sep 15 RBA reported one in East Sussex - no other info but this is the first to be mentioned in England this autumn

Tree Pipit: On Sep 15 Christchurch Harbour again came out with the top count of 6 for southern England but a Netherlands site reported 68 on Sep 16

Meadow Pipit: On Sep 14 a count of 15,750 moving south past Spurn Point in Yorkshire was impressive but not as great as the 20,200 going south on Sep 13. On Sep 15 a count of 7,100 came from Lancashire. Maybe many of these birds paused in their travels before reaching the south coast as on Sep 15 a flock of 1100 birds were feeding on a rootcrop field at Dean Hill not far north of Whiteparish on the River Test but there were no such dramatic figures from coastal sites

Yellow Wagtail: Plenty still all along the south coast with a peak of 174 at Barton on Sea (west of Lymington) on Sep 15

Grey Wagtail: I have been hoping to see one back on the Lymbourne Stream here in Havant but so far the only migrant to arrive as a winter visitor in the Havant area has been one which turned up on the Westbrook stream in Emsworth on Sep 15. I assume the birds which have been arriving in southern England since mid-July have included some from the continent and some from northern Britain but I have no means of telling whether counts such as the 14 recorded at Portland on Sep 16 were arriving or departing

Nightingale: None reported in Brtain this week but one was still in France on Sep 17

Whinchat: On Sep 16 Hook/Warsash had 21 (and on Sep 15 I boke my duck for the year with two on the Hayling Coastal Path)

Stonechat: More started to arrive on the south coast this week with the first of the autumn at Gilkicker (Gosport) and on Portsdown Hill (none seemingly bred there this year) both seen on Sep 15

Wheatear: On Sep 17 there were 70 at Portland and 70+ at a Devon site

Ring Ouzel: Just starting to leave us this week with sightings at Beachy Head, the Isle of Wight, and in Devon (max 3 birds in the Prawle area)

Fieldfare: Single birds seen at Netherlands sites on Sep 16 and 17 plus a first sighting of 4 Redwings also in the Netherlands on Sep 16 remind us that Christmas is coming!

Black-and-White Warbler: A transatlantic vagrant in the Scillies - if you are as unfamiliar with this species as I was have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-and-white_Warbler for background to a single bird found in the Scillies on Sep 17

Aquatic Warbler: Two in the Scillies on Sep 12

Chiffchaff: At long last these are now far outnumbering the Willow Warblers seen at coastal sites

Goldcrest: The first 3 autumn passage birds were seen at Portland on Sep 15 and Sandwich Bay had its first 4 autumn Firecrests on Sep 14

Bearded Tit: A count of 24 at Farlington Marshes on Sep 15 suggests that we may be seeing more of these birds at all their main sites in the near future

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/0911/0918/09
Turtle Dove14 6 10 7 5411
Cuckoo11 1 1 1 11
Nightjar-- - - 1 1 11
Swift801500 20 29 222451
Sand Martin5003001000+4503000100020004000
Swallow10015000+500+150 180012000210021600
House Martin5080250+40-400+5504000
Tree Pipit414810701556
Meadow Pipit 6035 24156020200
Yellow Wagtail2015030055 20025080174
Grey Wagtail----510514
Pied Wagtail--12250+ 1512
Common Redstart243323543
Ring Ouzel3
Grasshopper Warbler39310610553
Sedge Warbler1807645100+704-6
Reed Warbler5 730+546-7
Lesser Whitethroat612813171132+
Common Whitethroat2201301503501751003340
Garden Warbler10129+154324
Wood Warbler-1-1-13-
Willow Warbler125017529050010020011
Spotted Flycatcher-101141512512
Pied Flycatcher22115221

Shrikes: Both Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes were present on the Scillies this week

Red-eyed Vireo: Another star performer on the Scillies stage found (I think) by a resident birder on St Mary's who discovered it in his own back garden on the morning of Sep 13

Siskin: These only started to arrive as migrants this week but are now to be heard and seen all along the south coast with the first flocks reported in Kent and East Sussex on Sep 13, then in West Sussex on Sep 14 and in Dorset by Sep 15

Northern Waterthrush: Despite a name suggesting that it is a Thrush this is in fact an American Warbler but one that looks more like a Dipper and clearly a bit of a puzzle for the taxonomists who have placed it between the Finches and the Buntings. This is the most recent arrival on the Scillies, found there on Sep 17. For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Waterthrush


(Skip to Plants)


Notable sightings this week:

Willow Emerald: After several reports from Suffolk, Essex and Kent we now have a sighting of two at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk

Species reported this week:

Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Emperor, Gold Ringed Dragonfly, Keeled Skimmer, Four Spotted Chaser, Black Darter, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Beautiful Demoiselle, Emerald Damselfly, Willow Emerald, Red Eyed Damselfly, Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damsels


Notable sightings this week:

Wall Brown: After a couple of tatty specimens were seen on Sep 2 there were no more until three fresh third brood insects were seen at the High and Over downland site above the Cuckmere Valley on Sep 15

Gatekeeper: Notable by its absence from reports this week - last was at Durlston on Sep 10

Species reported this week:

Silver-spotted Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, Brown Hairstreak, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Meadow Brown, Small Heath


Selected sightings this week:

Goatmoth: A caterpillar seen crossing a path in the Lymington area on Sep 11 was photographed and can be seen on the Hampshire Butterfly Conservation web pages

Pale Eggar: The first of this uncommon species to get a mention this year was seen at Staplecross near Hastings on Sep 14

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Six more sightings this week including two in a West Wittering garden (mouth of Chichester Harbour) on Sep 14

Other Insects:

Selected sightings this week:

Common Wasp: On Sep 11 I was asked to identify a nest of 'bees' emerging from the ground close to a long disused garage here in Havant - the owner wished to work on the ancient car in the garage and had started to clear brambles around the garage door when he discovered the 'bees' which were of course Common Wasps, still very active but no threat to anyone who does not directly attack their nest. See my Diary page for Sep 13 for my comments on what might have been the fate of the garage owner had these insects been the 'Median Wasps' which only arrived in Britain in 1980 but are now quite common and have caused severe pain to gardeners attempting to clear bushes in which the wasps have hung their nests

Stag Beetles: While inspecting the Wasps nest I learnt that sevral Stag Beetles have been seen in that area of Havant this summer in contrast to my personal single sighting. I was also pleased to see that George Spraggs on south Hayling has seen at least one Lesser Stag Beetle this summer (on Aug 29)

Wasp Spider: Brian Fellows found one female still on her web at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Sep 11 and this remined me that this is the time of year that these spiders created their artistic egg sacs which look like small pink Japanese Lanterns hanging several inches off the ground near where their web was sited. The sac which looks as if it were made of paper is in fact made of a special form of spider silk and is hung from a cluster of grass leave which are bound together with spider web at their tips to form a dome like structure. Although hung differently from those that I have seen and described there is an excellent photo of the female spider guarding her newly constucted sac (up to 25mm in diameter) at http://www.adriandowling-wildlife.co.uk/p208729493/h2BB38F2A#h2bb38f2a - another photo which is closer to what I have described can be seen at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2006/09/24/wasp-spider-egg-sac/


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Sand Spurrey: Thanks to Brian Fellows' discovery in early July of what was eventually identified as this species in the part of Sinah Common north of the Golf Course and just east of the course maintenance buildings I subsequently realised that plants which I knew of in the area south of the mini-golf course and had wrongly thought of as Lesser Sea-Spurrey were in fact Sand Spurrey and now this week I have found a new site for the plants just east of the sand dunes around the south west corner of the main Golf Course - they were in full fresh flower on Sep 15

Common Gorse: Although I found the first single flower open on Aug 24 after the bushes ceased to flower at the end of May it was not until this week that whole bushes were covered with fresh flowers that will persist through the winter

Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile): These plants which are much visited by butterflies in autumn also started to flower this week

Slender Hare's Ear: Although well past flowering I was pleased to find a new site for this plant in the southeast most field of Warblington Farm on Sep 13 - see my Diary for more detail. In another corner of the same field I saw Lesser Water Parsnip flowering where I cannot recall noticing it in the past.

Chicory: While on Hayling on Sep 15 I came on a 'new to me' site for Chicory with a good show for flowering plants beside Marine Walk in the south east corner of the Island. On the same trip I found the first flowers on Garden Asparagus growing beside Ferry Road opposite The Kench and a new location for Corn Parsley by the gate of 116 Sea Front


(Skip to Endweek)

Frogs and Toads: Clearance of overgrown wet grassland in the Brook Meadow reserve at Emsworth this week exposed a good number of both Frogs and Toads - presumably many were small youngsters hatched this spring. This is good news for gardeners in the area around the meadow who will have the help of these amphibians to control slugs and insects in their gardens, and it is good news for those who manage the Brook Meadow reserve and who are enabling a full range of the wildlife normal for wetland habitat to survive, but it is bad news for the majority of people in the wider area around Havant in that it reminds them of times that they still remember when there were sufficient of these amphibians to leave signs of their abundance in the form of Frogspawn in almost every small water body (even the old kichen sink chucked out in the garden) and massive road kills of Toads slowly crossing roads leading to their more restricted number of breeding ponds.

Newts: Those of us who are not familiar with the size and identifying features of Great Crested Newts should have a look at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/2011/09/13/newts/#more-15136 - the second photo showing a Great Crested and a Common or Smooth Newt side by side in what is presumably Brian Banks hand illustrates the size difference and brings out a feature of the Great Crested which I was not aware of - the 'rings on the fingers' of its back feet (the size of the creature and the 'two part' crest of the male should identify the species without need to pick out this feature). The main purpose of Brian's contribution to the RX website was to make us aware that all newt species are currently seeking places to spend the winter, often a long way from their breeding ponds

Common Lizard: This week Brian Fellows illustrates the ability of all Lizard species, including Slow-worms, to escape predators by shedding their tails, which then slowly regrow (sometimes giving the Lizard two tails for the price of one if part of the original tail was retained alongside the new one). See http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-301-common-lizard-seagull-bm-10.09.11.jpg for Brian's recent photo of a Common Lizard which had lost most of its tail

Fungi: This week my garden lawn has just started to show the variety of fungi which have been hidden beneath the grass for the best part of a year. Blackening Waxcap, Parrot Waxcap, Butter Waxcap (Hygrocybe ceracea), Mycena fibula and another small pale brown agaric which comes up annually (but which I cannot yet name) can all be seen currently but others have yet to show themselves - principally the black, paddle-shaped, Trichoglossum hirsutum and the Meadow Waxcap. While on Hayling's Sinah Common this week I came on several scattered fresh examples of what might be sold as small 'Chestnut mushrooms' but I think that these, growing in very sandy soil close to the sea, were Agaricus litoralis.

Squirrel-tail: Strange things go on in my garden at night and early this week I heard what sounded like a vicious fight between two or more cats - next morning in the middle of the lawn were two halves of a Grey Squirrels tail and nearby was a small pile of something nasty still covered with large Slugs enjoying their breakfast of it. I am pretty sure that the creatures making the noise (maybe Cats, maybe Foxes) did not include a live Grey Squirrel - I am not aware of Squirrels being nocturnal and I have heard that in an encounter between a Cat and a Squirrel the Cat is likely to receive serious wounds from the Squirrel's claws. I suspect that some nocturnal carnivore (perhaps a Fox) had found the body of a dead Squirrel and was carrying it home for supper when it met up with another hungry carnivore (most likely another Fox) who contested the prize but I would welcome other suggestions


(Back to start of current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Sep 5 - 11 (Week 36 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird news highlights:

Common Cranes are the subject of a large scale RSPB re-introduction project in Somerset although they have established a breeding colony for themselves in Norfolk starting with the arrival of just two birds in 1979. This summer another two birds have settled in on the Pevensey Levels in Sussex - they have only been there for about a month but this could be the start of another unaided re-settlement of the species in Britain

Least Sandpipers in Britain are very rare vagrants from America (less than one every two years turns up here) so one making a brief overnight stop at Farlington Marshes was a significant event for the twitchers, all of whom failed to score their tick as Jason Crook was the only person to see the bird though he got good photographich evidence of its identity.

The subject of Cats and Birds has caused a heated flurry of comments this week on HOSLIST (including one contribution from someone with a cat which sits on the bird table consuming the items it likes while the birds feed unmolested around it). Not part of this discussion was an entry on the Sussex Ornithological Soc website from someone with a Blackbird in their garden which has survived for a least three weeks with no wings (one totally torn off and the other drooping and inoperable) - was that the work of a less docile cat?

Lapland Buntings: There was a massive influx of these to Cornwall in the first three months of this year and this week 8 have suddenly appeared in the Scillies but not elsewhere in Britain. Where do they come from and why just Cornwall?

Insect News highlights:

Very little insect news at all this week but the Rye Bay website introduced me to a species I had not previously heard of - the Rhododendron Leafhopper which has the excellent attribute of eating Rhododenron leaves. Let's import more of them from America.

Plant News highlights:

The current spate of autumn re-flowerings includes the re-appearance of flowers on Early Dog Violets in Havant Cemetery

A visit to the Warblington Farm field behind Conigar Point this week gave me my first sight of Corn Spurrey flowers for the year

Other News highlights:

The find of a Harvest Mouse nest in thick vegetation at Brook Meadow in Emsworth (where they have been found in past years) was a good opportunity to brush up my knowledge of these tiny creatures and their life style

In similar vein a photograph of what was probably a Pipistrelle bat hunting by day over an Emsworth pond taught me that Daubenton's are not the only bat species to find their insect prey over water


(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Two reports of Red-throated this week (one in summer plumage off the North Kent coast and the other of two birds off the German coast) and four reports of Black-throated (one off the Exe estuary in Devon, a second off the east coast of England and the others off the Netherlands and France)

Grebes: Four reports of Red-necked (one going west off Dungeness, two off the English east coast and one off the Netherlands) and two of Black-necked (one off Abbotsbury in Dorset and one (maybe two) off the Netherlands

Petrels: The first report of a Madeira Petrel for the year was from Cornwall on Sept 6. On Sep 5 Cornwall also had a probable Bulwer's Petrel which would have been a first for the year. On Sep 7 a probable Wilson's Storm Petrel was off Porthgwarra (near Land's End), Start Point (near the southern tip of Devon) claimed 105 Storm Petrels on Sep 6 and RBA reported a UK total of 41 Leach's Petrels on that day.

Shearwaters: Plenty of these around in stormy weather - on Sep 6 RBA said they knew of a total of 27 Cory's Shearwater that day and on Sep 4 their UK total of Great Shearwaters was 249. On Sep 6 Pendeen (just north of Lands End) reported more than 230 Sooty Shearwaters and Berry Head (just south of Torquay in Devon) had 736 Manx. On Sep 4 a single possible Mediterranean (Yelkouan) Shearwater was reported at Lands End and on Sep 6 a 12 hour seawatch at Berry Head set a new Devon county record of 304 Balearic Shearwaters in one day.

Herons: The Night Heron which had been at Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex from Aug 30 to Sep 3 seems to have flown a few miles south west t be seen at Ardingly Reservoir on Sep 9. The Thornham Marshes (Thorney Island) Cattle Egret was still present on Sep 10, as was the Great White Egret at the Blashford Lakes. Oddity of the week was an RBA report on Sep 4 of Five Glossy Ibis flying over Atwick in Yorkshire. The only Spoonbill reports from England came from Poole Harbour where there were nine on Sep 4 but over in the Netherlands a flock of 39 were seen on Sep 9

Geese: Although I have not picked up any reports of Barnacle Geese in Sussex since the end of April (when there were 3 at Pulborough Brooks) I am pretty sure that a current report of 30 Barnacles at Barcombe Mills near Lewes is of feral geese resident in Sussex through the year and not of the wild birds which are seen in the depths of winter. Also moving around to find suitable winter quarters were 340 Canada Geese which flew south over Fareham on Sep 4 (we will soon be hearing reports from non-birders that the Brent are back based on their sightings of similar movements of Canada Geese over their house but the genuine Brent will also be arriving in our Solent harbours before long - any time after mid-September when the winds permit). Of local interest it appears that the lone Canada Goose which has been on Emsworth ponds since Aug 31 arrived of its own volition and may soon move on to join a feral flock on Petersfield Heath Pond

Ducks: The Wigeon which have been returning from breeding since mid-August were present in substantial numbers (82) for the Thorney Island WeBS count on Sep 2 and there were 30 in Pagham Harbour on Sep 6. 140 Teal were at the Thorney Great Deeps on Sep 2 with another 54 over in the West Wittering area on Sep 3 and on Sep 7 there wre 130 at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Pagham Harbour had 12 Pintail on Sep 6 and the Blashford Lakes had 89 Shoveler by Sep 9. A single Goosander was reported to have been off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Sep 7 but I think this was seen distantly from Farlington Marshes and is more likely to have been a summering Merganser.

Raptors: A wave of departing Honey Buzzards on Sep 3 brought one over Rowlands Castle, another over Dungemess and a third over the South Foreland in Kent plus up to 10 over each of six sites in the Netherlands. This was followed on Sep 4 by a count of 261 over one Belgian site (plus small numbers at five other sites) and on Sep 5 by 146 over one of 5 Belgian sites. The Sep 4 count seems to have been the peak of the autumn passage for north west Europe and was matched by a count of 2327 over southern Spain as the birds on various routes converged on their Mediterranean crossing point. The two summering Black Kites were still over west Cornwall this week and a report of a White-tailed Eagle over Germany on Sep 4 is more likely to have been of a new bird heading south west for winter rather than our last winter's bird which spent this summer in Lincolnshire but was last seen there on Aug 3 followed by a sighting over Tangmere (east of Chichester) on Aug 18 as if it were on its way back to Hampshire (but nothing has been heard of it since). Few reports of Harriers this week but birders on the Downs south of Pulborough watched both a male Hen Harrier and a female Marsh Harrier hunting in the same area (another Marsh Harrier was seen at Titchfield Haven on the same day - Sep 5).

Sep 8 found a young Goshawk over the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood (perhaps recently expelled by its parent from the New Forest site where it was hatched?) and Sep 9 brought the first indication of Sparrowhawks abandoning the far north for winter quarters further south when 73 passed over one German site. 16 reports of Ospreys at south coast sites is not unexpected. Merlins have been seen in Hampshire, Kent and Dorset this week and eight sightings of Hobbies show they are still with us

Game birds: A report of 20 Grey Partridge and 30 Red-legs both seen on the Sussex Downs near Ditchling Beacon on Sep 9 probably indicates the release of reared birds (not necessarily for shooting as I believe that there is still a voluntary ban on shooting Greys while their numbers are low - see http://www.shootingtimes.co.uk/features/395946/Wild_grey_partridges_the_recovery_story.html written in 2009 )

Common Crane: In addition to the recently re-introduced birds in Somerset and the flock of 30+ which has established itself in Norfolk (starting with the arrival of two birds in 1979) we have this summer seen two birds exploring the Haywards Heath area of Sussex in July and then apparently settling in the Pevensey Levels from mid August until the present - is this to be another permanent colonisation?

Waders: On Sep 3 a group of 3 Dotterel flew over the Sussex Downs, another was seen over the South Foreland in Kent and at least two were seen in Belgium and this week one on a different route flew over Devon on Sep 5. Also on Sep 5 the first south coast Sanderling flock of more than 100 birds was at the Black Point wader roost in the mouth of Chichester Harbour (112 counted there). Little Stint were at eight south coast sites this week including one at Farlington Marshes on Sep 5 and over the water a flock of 39 were at a Netherlands site on Sep 9. Rarest wader of the week was a Least Sandpiper seen and photographed at Farlington Marshes by Jason Crook on Sep 8 (sadly it eluded all other observers) - this seems to have been the second to reach Britain this year after one in Yorkshire in May and it was the second ever to have been seen in Hampshire after one at Farlington in May 1977. The BTO has 28 records of the species between 1950 and 2007 and it seems that this year's two reports are the first since 2007. Least Sandpiper is normally only seen in the Americas, breeding in Canada and moving to central America for the winter. Other uncommon species this week have been a Baird's Sandpiper at Hayle in Cornwall and several Pectoral Sandpipers in Cornwall and the Scillies. Curlew Sandpipers ahave been at nine southern sites including nine together at the Exe estuary on Sep 8 after more than 15 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 4. Southsea Castle had its first Purple Sandpiper for this autumn on Sep 7 when another was at West Bay in Dorset (another had been on the north Kent coast on July 23) and up to 6 Buff-breasted Sandpipers have been in Cornwall and the Scillies this week (others have been in the UK since Aug 7). Ruff have been at eight southern sites this week including one inland at Alresford Pond near Winchester plus others at Farlington Marshses and Pagham Harbour. Black-tailed Godwit flocks reported this week include 62 at the Thorney Island Great Deeps roost on Sep 2, 339 at Farlington Marshes on Sep 7, 300+ at the Exe estuary on Sep 4 and 153 at Hook/Warsash on Sep 9 plus 98 at Yarmouth, IoW, on Sep 7. Three Whimbrel went past Dungeness on Sep 8 but their passage is more of less over. Green Sandpiper are still on the move with reports from seven sites including one of 14 birds at Weir Wood reservoir on Sep 8. Single Wood Sandpiper were seen at two sites in Cornwall and at Sandwich Bay this week while a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was still at Plymouth on Sep 5. Only one Red-necked Phalarope was seen in Britain (Cornwall) but there were up to 7 Grey Phalaropes including one at Freshwater, IoW, and another at Lymington.

Skuas, Gulls and Terns: RBA reported a total of 36 Pomarine Skuas in Britain on Sep 5 including at least one off south Devon, on Sep 7 42 Arctic Skuas went past Pendeen in Cornwall and of 14 Long-tailed Skuas in Britain on Sep 5 one went past Dungeness and others were seen off Lymington and at Christchurch Harbour. One Bonxie was seen off Sandy Point, Hayling, on Sep 6 but across the Channel Sep 7 brought a count of 109 at a French site. One juvenile Little Gull was over Ivy Lake at Chichester and another was again seen at Hook/Warsash while elsewhere in Britain one site recorded 113 of them on Sep 7. On Sep 6 RBA reported a UK total of 99 Sabine's Gulls (one of them at Sandy Point on Hayling Island). The Christchurch Harbour Ring-billed Gull was seen on Sep 7 and 9 while the Glaucous Gull which has been at Dungeness since last winter was still there on Sep 9. By Sep 9 the only reported Sandwich Terns were just 40 at Christchurch Harbour with 100 Common Terns there. 10 Arctic Terns came past Dungeness on Sep 9 (when 5 were seen at the Blashford Lakes) but the last report of Little Terns was of 12 passing Dungeness on Sep 5 with 47 Black Terns though they have been followed by seven more sightings up to Sep 9

Auks: During the week Devon had sightings of up to 12 Razorbills, 2 Guillemots and just one Puffin


Bee Eater: Still at least one in the Scillies

Citrine Wagtail: Singles reported this week at Lymington, Norfolk, Orkney and the Scillies

White Wagtail: Singles seen at Portland and at Hook/Warsash

Blackbird: On Sep 6 an entry on the SOS website from someone living in Chichester reported the sorry sight of a Blackbird seen in their garden three weeks ago with both wings out of action (one drooping, the other hanging on by a thread). Three weeks after seeing this what must have been the same bird was seen again with the drooping wing still drooping and the other now missing altogether. The observer was surprised that the bird had survived for so long - presumably it can still feed and can hop up into the low branches of shrubs and so work its way up the branches.

Mistle Thrush: A flock of 19 birds first reported from Furze Hill (New Forest edge in the South Gorley area just north of the Blashford lakes) on July 14 has since been seen (with slightly differing numbers of birds) six times up to Sep 8. Four other flocks with numbers greater than just one family have been seen in southern England this summer but none have been seen more than once.

Melodious Warbler: One was at Portland Bill from Sep 5 to 8

Barred Warbler: RBA reported a UK total of 4 birds on Sep 5 but none were in the south of England

Arctic Warbler: One in Shetland on Sep 4 and 5

Firecrest: Two (presumed arrivals from the continent) were at Dungeness on Sep 9

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/0911/09
Turtle Dove14 6 10 7 54
Cuckoo11 1 1 1 11
Nightjar-- - - 1 1 1
Swift801500 20 29 22245
Sand Martin5003001000+450300010002000
Swallow10015000+500+150 1800120002100
House Martin5080250+40-400+550
Tree Pipit41481070155
Meadow Pipit 6035 241560
Yellow Wagtail2015030055 20025080
Grey Wagtail----5105
Pied Wagtail--12250+ 15
Common Redstart24332354
Grasshopper Warbler3931061055
Sedge Warbler1807645100+704-
Reed Warbler5 730+546-
Lesser Whitethroat61281317113
Common Whitethroat22013015035017510033
Garden Warbler10129+15432
Wood Warbler-1-1-13
Willow Warbler1250175290500100200
Spotted Flycatcher-1011415125
Pied Flycatcher2211522

Woodchat Shrike: One or two in the Scillies throughout this week

Rook: 14 'passage birds' flew west over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 4

Starling: Autumn flocks now building up in southern England. 800 were reported at Hook/Warsash on Sep 6 and I saw around 300 on wires over the field north of Nore Barn at Emsworth on Sep 9 while I am sure there are several other and bigger flocks now roosting unreported in southern reed beds, coastal piers and other places.

Finches: Both Chaffinch and Brambling appeared among the 'Trektellen Remarkable' sightings this week and a flock of 170 Tree Sparrows was reported from somewhere in northern Britain as was a flock of 2129 Siskin on Sep 7. Linnet flocks are also increasing with a peak of 320 at Sandwich Bay this week.

Lapland Buntings were in the news last winter with a peak count of more than 150 in Cornwall on Mar 6 and it looks as if they may be going to invade the west country again this winter after one appeared at the Lizard on Sep 4 becoming 8 in the Scillies on Sep 7


(Skip to Plants)


Notable sightings this week:

Nothing remarkable this week

Species reported this week:

Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Black-taile Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Common Darter, Emerald Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly,


Notable sightings this week:

The only thing remarkable about this week is that any butterflies have been seen. Even the three white species failed to be reported though I am sure they were all on the wing when the temperature, wind and rain permitted

Species reported this week:

Clouded Yellow, Brown Hairstreak, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Adonis Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Small Heath,


Selected sightings this week:

Raspberry Clearwing: One seen in Brighton was remarkable for still being on the wing in September

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Just one seen on the Sussex Downs

Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar: One seen in a very exposed situation on a footpath in Storrington near Pulborough was carefully moved to a spot where it was less likely to be trodden on but I suspect it will have soon returned to the path if it thought that the path led to a suitable place for pupation in the soil

Other Insects:

Selected sightings this week:

Rhododendron leafhopper (Graphocephala fennahi): One found in a mothtrap at Staplecross near Hastings was a new species for me and worth having a look at (see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/insects/ which also tells us that this is an introduced American species and one of the very few that eats Rhododendron leaves)


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common Ramping Fumitory: Seen flourishing and flowering by the roadside fence of the New Lane allotments in Havant on Sep 9 where I had looked for it in vain in the spring

Early Dog Violet: At least three flowers seen on Sep 9 among the massive display of leaves left over from the spring flowering in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery

Corn Spurrey: My first sight of this in flower for the year by the edge of the Sweetcorn crop in the Warblington Farm field at Conigar Point - seen with Field Woundwort immediately inside the unobstructed way in over the sea wall

Spotted Medick: This had just started to re-flower (for the first time since June) at several places in Havant on Sep 9

Dog Rose: Single flowers seen among the hip on plants along the Langstone South Moors shore on Sep 5 and the Warblington Farm shoreline on Sep 9

Marsh Gentian: Not something I am likely to come across in the Havant area but I see that Graeme Lyons found one flowering at a Sussex site on Sep 6

Thorn Apple: The plants by the Havant Station Taxi Rank still have some flowers but most have now turned to the distinctive seed pods which give the plant its name - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datura_stramonium for an illustration of the leaves, flowers and seed pods

Sea Wormwood: This plant never seems to open its flowers but the white tinge to its flower buds which persists for most of the summer has now given way to a yellow tinge which I presume to be its shedding of pollen to show that it is now in flower


(Skip to Endweek)

Harvest Mice: Volunteers clearing vegetation at Emsworth's Brook Meadow site on Sep 4 came across an occupied Harvest Mouse nest (two mice were seen fleeing from it!). The nest was left undamaged and work in that area was suspended in the hope that the mice would return. See http://www.lboro.org/~wwatch/Infopages/mice.htm for some basic info about these mice and this tells me that they are still active in summer mode- when they sleep by day and feed by night - until October (so there could have been young in the nest that was found) and that they then build a winter nest low down under e.g. a hedge and become active in daytime. Winter nests are only about 5cm in diameter and these small nests can be found in summer but a pregnant female builds a nest of around 10 cm in diameter and one of these breeding nests was found at Brook Meadow in 2007 so the nest found this week could well have had young in it.

Bat hunting over water by day: Brian Fellow's Emsworth wildlife website ( http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm ) this week has a superb photo by Richard Somerscocks of a bat hunting over a small pond among the 'deckhouses' adjacent to the Emsworth marina and after seeing the photo local bat expert Nik Knight said that it was not of a Daubenton's Bat (a species that hunts more or less exclusively over water) as that has a white belly (see photo of one catching prey at http://www.bedsbatgroup.org.uk/bats%20in%20beds/daubenton.html ) and was probably a 'Sopano Pipistrelle' on the grounds that that is the commoner of the two Pipstrelle species found hereabouts (called Soprano as its calls are higher pitched than those of the Common Pipistrelle)

Fungi: Still no massive autumn outburst of fungi but I did come across four species this week ...

a) Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus) was seen on tree stumps in Emsworth Road, Havant and in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery with others growing round the base of an old Horse Chestnut in Havant Park

b) Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) was also found on a small tree stump in Havant Park at the foot of the brick wall along the east side of the Park between the public toilets and the exit to Havant Station

c) Agaricus comtulus - a possible id for a mushroom like fungus found by the edge of the slip road coming to the Langstone roundabout from the eastbound A27. The pure white cap could have been that of a Field Mushroom but the gills seemed to be pure white when first picked and that would make it a very out of season St George's Mushroom but by the time I got home the gills were turning pinkish and would I think have become a brown colour.

d) Leccinum crocipodium - again only a possible id for a small cluster of boletus-type fungi growing at the foot of an old Holm Oak beside the main road passing Langstone High Street. When found they were already old and dry but had cracked caps similar to Roger Phillips photo of Yellow-cracking Bolete except that there was no hint of yellow (the new English name for this species is Saffron Bolete) and when cut the flesh and stem did not go through the colour changes described by Phillips (though both these deficiencies may have been the result of the desiccated state of the specimen)


(Back to start of current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Aug 29 - Sep 4 (Week 35 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird news highlights:

Black-necked Grebe: One seen briefly in Pagham harbour on Sep 3

Great Crested Grebes: Autumn flocks have appeared in both Langstone and Portsmouth Harbours

Winter ducks: See main text for numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and Shoveler arriving this week

Dotterel: Three flew south over the Sussex Downs on Sep 3

Hen Harrier: A male was over Burpham near Arundel on Sep 2

Black-browed Albatross: one flying south off the Yorkshire coast was probably the 50 year old 'Albert' who has been lost in the North Atlantic since 1967

Carrion Crow: The regular flock which is seen in the Weston Shore area south of Southampton numbered 280 on Aug 28 but more interestingly a flock of 50+ birds gathered on the roof of a Portsmouth tower block on Aug 30 and held a ten minute 'court session' before flying off towards the Milton area of Southsea. The majority of the birds formed a ring of 'spectators' while a small number had an excited argument, but did not come to blows, in the centre of the ring

Insect news highlights:

The highlight of my insect observations was a brief glimpse of what I believe to have been a Brown Heath Robberfly on Portsdown - see the entry under Other Insects and also my diary for Sep 1

Plant news highlights:

The main highlight of the week was the discovery by Brian Fellows of a second site for Marsh Mallow in Chichester Harbour at the Salterns Copse site

Brian also visited East Head at the mouth of Chichester Harbour and confirmed that Sea Heath still flourishes there

I found a new and unexpected site for Shaggy Soldier in a Southbourne street gutter and got some photos of the Small Teazel flowers at Racton in the Ems valley

Other news highlights:

Parking problems: On Sep 1 Martin Gillingham told us via Hoslist .. "the Environment Agency are carrying out repairs to the sea wall at Farlington. Due to these works, parking is now very limited with the only spaces available near the height barrier, with most of these spaces are taken by workers cars..." Birders are advised to use the Broadmarsh carpark. A different problem has occurred at West Wittering where Ewan Urquhart tells us that .. "West Wittering Estate has considerably increased their entrance fees. It is now £7.50 on weekends before 3pm and £5.50 on weekdays before 3pm. Charges are cheaper after 3pm. Limited free parking is possible back in the village."

Common Lizard: An unusual observation of a young boy having his finger 'licked' by a Lizard


(Skip to Insects)

Divers: One Black-throated off the Netherlands on Aug 31 and the first White-billed of the winter seen off Pembrokeshire on Sep 1

Grebes: Autumn flocks of Great Crested growing fast in both Portsmouth (15 seen on Sep 1) and Langstone Harbours (30 in Chalkdock on Sep 2). A Red-necked was reported to have been in the Little Lake area of Langstone Harbour (the area overlooked by Budds Mound) for a week prior to Aug 30 while other singles have been reported off Cap Gris-nez on Aug 30, off Dungeness on Aug 31, and heading south off Spurn Point on Sep 1. Perhaps more exciting was a Black-necked seen briefly in Pagham Harbour on Sep 3 - this souds like the first autumn arrival in the south unlike the one seen at Blashford Lakes through July and August.

Black-browed Albatross: On May 21 one was seen off the Ayrshire coast of Scotland and it has just been spotted for the second time this year off the Yorkshire coast on Sep 1. This is likely to be the lone individual (now thought to be about 50 years old) which has been seen annually since 1967 seeking female company in various Scottish Gannet colonies during their breeding season but having to play the reverse role of Ancient Mariner wandering the north Atlantic for the rest of the year

Great Shearwater: I have noted 20 reports of this species during this year, all but three seen off Cornwall or the Scillies and all but two being of less than a dozen birds - on Aug 25 there were 70 off the Scillies and now 2003 were recorded passing Lands End on Sep 3 - I can only guess this is the work of Hurricane Irene which may also be responsible for the presence of an 'unprecedented' count of arund 10,000 Manx Shearwaters off Portland on Aug 30

Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma monorhis): A 'possible' report of one off Cornwall on Aug 31 has not been confirmed but would be only the fifth or sixth to have ever reached Britain from its home area in the China seas. The species is about the same size as a Leach's Petrel but has a brown plumage

Bittern: Breeding has been officially confirmed in the Kent Stour valley where an adult has been seen with three juveniles this week. Another report comes from north Devon where a non-birder saw a bird on Sep 1 at Sherpa Marsh (estuary of River Taw near Barnstable) which was probably a Bittern and if so an indication that Bitterns are already heading south to winter quarters

Night Heron: One has been at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough in north Sussex from Aug 30 to Sep 3 at least

Cattle Egret: The bird which has been on the Thornham Marshes by the Thorney Great Deeps east since Aug 14 was still there on Sep 3. Another has been at Dungeness since Aug 29 and third individual arrived at the Exe estuary in Devon on Sep 3

Little Egret: On Sep 1 the Scillies reported 'the usual autumn' influx of 14 birds and this significant autumn increase in numbers can be detected throughout southern England though no one has given an authoritative account of where the birds come from (and disappear to in the early spring). Some increase must come from breeding but the young do not all die in the first few months of the new year so I can only conclude that there is a significant migration from the continent to Britain each autumn with a return of many birds before the start of the next breeding season and that this movement is undetected because the birds do not flock and pass through the traditional migrant departure and arrival points. Latest local roost counts have been 123 roosting near the Thorney Little Deeps on Aug 27 and 157 at Langstone Mill Pond on Aug 30

Great White Egret: Although Little Egrets do not feature in Trektellen reports their larger cousins do show spring and autumn peaks - this year numbers peaked at 5 birds seen at one Belgian site on Apr 10 and at 23 birds at a Netherlands site on Sep 4

Grey Heron: On Aug 30 the count at one Netherlands site shot up to 200 birds

Purple Heron: On Aug 30 the count at one Netherlands site was 304

White Stork: Sep 1 brought the years highest count of 190 at a Belgian site

Spoonbill: There were four on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Aug 27 but only three on Aug 30 (after one had been seen at both Christchurch Harbour and Pagham Harbour on Aug 29 - maybe the same bird was back over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 31). Over in the Netherlands Aug 30 brought a count of 36 at one site (only second highest for the year after 58 on July 10)

Black Swan: A visit to West Ashling pond (west of Chichester) on Aug 29 confirmed the presence of a single pair there

Canada Goose: 225 turned up in Pagham Harbour on Sep 1 and Fareham Creek had 340 on Sep 4. A single bird arrived in Emsworth (on Peter Pond) on Sep 2 but this most probably arrived via human transport.

Wigeon: 12 arrived at Hook/Warsash on Aug 31, 12 were also new at Pagham Harbour on Sep 1 when Portsmouth Harbour had 26, there were 82 at the Thorney Deeps on Sep 2 (with 140 Teal) and on Sep 3 the Exe estuary in Devon had 47 with 175+ Teal

Pintail: Pagham Harbour had 17 on Sep 3 and smaller numbers have been reported this week at Dungeness, Exmouth and Lymington

Garganey: One was still in England on Sep 1 at Exeter in Devon and another was at Farlington Marshes on Sep 2

Shoveler: The Blashford Lakes at Ringwood had 32 on Aug 28 and Fleet Pond had 11 on Sep 3 while the Milton Lakes in Portsmouth had 7 on Aug 30 and Budds Farm pools had 8 on Sep 2

Scaup: Five females were reported at Weir Wood reservoir on Sep 2

Goldeneye: One was off Flamborough Head in Yorkshire on Aug 28

Honey Buzzard: We must now be at the height of their autumn migration, marked by a count of 2327 passing over a site in southern Spain on Sep 2. Here in northern Europe a German site reported 224 on Sep 1 and in England Dungeness had 6 over on Sep 2 (and Dulston reported one heading west over Dorset that day)

Marsh Harrier: One was seen over Farlington Marshes on three days this week

Hen Harrier: A male was seen at Wakehurst Place (Crawley in Sussex) on Sep 2 and one flew in to Sandwich Bay from the north east on Sep 3

Pallid Harrier: A juvenile male was in the Scillies from Aug 29 to Sep 3

Montagu's Harrier: A young bird was over the Isle of Wight on Aug 27 and 28

Osprey: Singles reported this week from nine sites in southern England with a peak count of 3 over the Exe estuary on Aug 31. The Thornham Marshes bird does not seem to have been seen since Aug 31 but one was still in the Pilsey area on Sep 3 when two separate birds were in Langstone Harbour.

Merlin: Now widespread in southern England with sightings at seven sites this week including a probable at the Thornham Marshes on Aug 27

Hobby: Sightings now getting fewer but one was over Newlands Farm south of Fareham on Aug 27 and one at the Thornham Marshes on Sep 3

Quail: Singles at Durlston on Sep 2 and Portland on Sep 3

Spotted Crake: One in Somerset on Aug 29 and a probable at the Exe estuary on Aug 30

Coot: A count of 630 at the Blashford Lakes on Aug 31

Avocet: Movement west through southern England is getting under way with 3 already at the Exe estuary by Aug 31 and subsequent sightings of 2 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 2 and of another at the Thornham Marshes on Sep 3

Dotterel: Six sightings this week were mostly on the near continent but included two birds at Folkestone on Aug 31 and three on Kithurst Hill south of Storrington (Pulborough area) on Sep 3

Golden Plover: 300 at Dungeness on Aug 29 and 220 on Rye Harbour on Sep 2. Further west were 6 at Pagham Harbour on Aug 29, 6 at Climping (Worthing area) on Aug 31 and 1 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 3

Knot: Biggest flock this week was of 80 at Dungeness followed by 50+ at the Exe estuary on Aug 30 (increasing to 94 there on Sep 3) Locally there were 53 at Farlington Marshes on Sep 3 but only three or four at Thorney Island for the week end WeBS count.

Little Stint: Present at eight southern sites this week with a promise of more to come (four birds at Rye Habour on Sep 2)

Temminck's Stint: The bird at Pulborough Brooks has not been seen since Aug 27 and one reported at Farlington Marshes on Aug 31 was re-identified as a Little Stint.

Curlew Sandpiper: Numbers of these are also reaching autumn peaks with 11 at the Exe estuary on Sep 3

Ruff: Numbers of these are perhaps now past their peak - after a count of 14 at Pulborough Brooks on Aug 28 the highest count has been of 4 at Sidlesham Ferry (Pagham Harbour) on Sep 3

Black-tailed Godwit: Highest count this week was 375 at Hook (Warsash) on Aug 31. There were only 62 at the Thorney Deeps for the Sep 2 WeBS count

Bar-tailed Godwit: Very few in southern England but there were 1293 at Cap Gris-nez near Calais on Aug 30

Whimbrel: Autumn passage seems to be over though several will remain with us through the winter

Greenshank: On Sep 2 there were 24 at Farlington Marshes and 85 at the Thorney Deeps

Med Gull: These gulls rely on fields and other inland sites for nearly all their food so the start of autumn ploughing brings them a bonanza of worms - on Aug 30 Folkestone reported 209 of them following a plough

Ring-billed Gull: The bird that was at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 3 and 6 was not seen there again until Aug 28 but it was seen again on Sep 1. No others have been reported this autumn

Terns: A major departure was noted at Dungeness on Aug 27 when 11,000 Common Terns were seen after counts of 1500 Sandwich, 55 Little and 27 Black on the previous day. A single Whiskered Tern was seen at the Barnes wetland in London on Sep 2 and an American Black Tern was reported from Ireland on Sep 3 (the first for two years)

Short-eared Owl: Five reports this week are the first since May. The first of these was at Pagham Harbour on Aug 28 and on Aug 30 (when I was counting Egrets coming to roost at Langstone Pond) a passer by told me that a Short-eared Owl had been hunting over the Wade Court south meadow/pony field that morning. Aug 31 brought a Trektellen report of 2 seen in Fife (Scotland). More recently the 'first of the autumn' was logged at Portland on Sep 2 before the Oare Marshes in north Kent had one on Sep 3

Departing summer migrants: The following table gives some impression of the rate at which these birds are leaving by showing the single highest count recorded at an English coastal site during the week

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/09
Turtle Dove14 6 10 7 5
Cuckoo11 1 1 1 1
Nightjar-- - - 1 1
Swift801500 20 29 2224
Sand Martin5003001000+45030001000
Swallow10015000+500+150 180012000
House Martin5080250+40-400+
Tree Pipit4148107015
Meadow Pipit 6035 2415
Yellow Wagtail2015030055 200250
Grey Wagtail----510
Pied Wagtail--12250+
Common Redstart2433235
Grasshopper Warbler393106105
Sedge Warbler1807645100+704
Reed Warbler5 730+546
Lesser Whitethroat6128131711
Common Whitethroat220130150350175100
Garden Warbler10129+1543
Wood Warbler-1-1-1
Willow Warbler1250175290500100
Spotted Flycatcher-101141512
Pied Flycatcher221152

Hoopoe: Two reports this week from Somerset on Aug 28 and Pembrokeshire on Aug 29

Wryneck: Although the maximum count at any one site was only two the RBA service reported a total of 14 in the UK on Sep 2

Grey Wagtail: Ten reports this week show that this species is now on the move

White Wagtail: Singles seen at Portland on Aug 27 and at Hook/Warsash on Aug 31

Robin: On Sep 2 Durlston reported an influx with 40 new birds there and on that same day a Belgian site reported 48 passage birds

Black Redstart: 11 birds were at Folkestone on Aug 30

Stonechat: Christchurch Harbour reported the arrival of 33 birds on Sep 3

Grasshopper Warbler: Singles were reported from several Devon sites this week but the ringers at Titchfield Haven were almost overwhelmed with 105 birds in their nets on Aug 27

Aquatic Warbler: The third for this autumn in southern England was ringed at South Milton Ley in southwest Devon on Sep 3

Melodious Warbler: Singles at Prawle in Devon on Aug 29, Portland on Aug 30 and the Scillies on Sep 1

Blackcap: Mass exodus started on Aug 29 with 400 at Beachy Head (and 365 at a Belgian site on Aug 31)

Firecrest: Seen at 3 sites this week with a peak of 8 at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Sep 1

Red-backed Shrike: One in Norfolk on Aug 29 and a juvenile in the Bournemouth area on Sep 1

Woodchat Shrike: One in the Scillies this week

Jay: Birds at the Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex were seen burying acorns this week

Carrion Crow: The regular flock which is seen in the Weston Shore area south of Southampton numbered 280 on Aug 28 but more interestingly a flock of 50+ birds gathered on the roof of a Portsmouth tower block on Aug 30 and held a ten minute 'court session' before flying off towards the Milton area of Southsea

Hawfinch: Two were an unexpected sight at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 1. An Ortolan Bunting was also there that day


(Skip to Plants)


Notable sightings this week:

Nothing special to report

Species reported this week:

Southern Hawker, Common Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Emperor, Gold Ringed Dragonfly, Black Darter, Ruddy Darter. Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Emerald Damselfly, Willow Emerald Damselfly, Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly


Notable sightings this week:

Both Small, Dingy and Large Skippers appear to have left the stage

Clouded Yellow: A minor influx on southerly winds brought reports from nine southern sites including Farlington Marshes, Portsdown Hill, Hayling North Common and Thorney Island Deeps.

Silver Studded Blue: A fresh looking specimen was seen in the New Forest on Sep 2 a full month after the last previous sighting (the latest for Hampshire in 2009 was Aug 31)

Red Admiral: Plenty of these seen this week with a peak count of 72 feeding on Hemp Agrimony at the QE Country Park near Petersfield on Sep 3

Silver Washed Fritillary: Two still flying this week, one in Sussex on Aug 31 and one in Hampshire on Sep 3

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: A captive bred specimen (kept outdoors in natural conditions) emerged in Sussex on Aug 25 but none have been seen in their woodland sites

Marbled White: Still flying at Durlston on Sep 2

Small Heath: A count of 213 fresh specimens on Sep 21 at Eelmoor near Farnborough

Species reported this week:

Lulworth Skipper, Silver Spotted Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Brown Hairstreak, Small Copper, Silver Studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath


Selected sightings this week:

Raspberry Clearwing: One in the Brighton area on Aug 27 was the first Clearwing report that I have seen this year

Oak Lutestring: One of several moths photographed by Tony Tindale in the Fareham area this week - the photos can be seen at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo in Tony's entry for Sep 3

Convolvulus Hawkmoth: Reports this week from Portland and Goring on the Susse coast

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Five more sightings this week in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex

Bedstraw Hawkmoth caterpillars: Eggs laid by a migrant visitor to Portland in July have now turned into impressive caterpillars - see photo above the Aug 28 entry in http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/latest_aug2011.htm

Beautiful Marbled (Eublemma purpurina): This pretty moth which was new to Britain in 2001 and new to Dungeness on Aug 30 this year can be seen in photos at http://www.dungenessbirdobs.org.uk/faunatwo.html

Red Underwing: This large and colourful (when it reveals its hind wings) moth got its first mention this week on the Planet Thanet website covering north east Kent

Other Insects:

Selected sightings this week:

Brown Heath Robberfly (Machimus cingulatus): I had a very brief but close look at what I believe was one of this species (which I have never seen before) on Portsdown Hill on Sep 1. See http://www.uksafari.com/robberflies.htm

Greenbottle (Lucilia cesar): Also seen on Portsdown on Sep 1 was a jewel-like mass of some 20 of these irridescent green blowflies laying their eggs in the corpse of a mouse

Bloody-nosed Beetle: Two of these were seemingly preparing to mate when I saw them on the Thorney Island seawall on Aug 29

Bush Crickets: Speckled, Oak, Dark and Great Green all reported this week

Araneus quadratus orb web spiders: Several seen by Graeme Lyons at Waltham Brooks (Pulborough) on Aug 29. These large female spiders come in a variety of colours from yellow to red (but all having the four spot pattern on their abdomens). See Graeme's blog for photos - http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ I used to see these spiders frequently at the IBM North Harbour site in Portsmouth where I also saw many Wasp Spiders and once got a photo of both male and female of that species. This week at my Havant home I have been watching a male and female of what I think are Garden Cross spiders - the female partly hidden in her 'retreat' and the male waiting his opportunity motionless on the periphery of her web for at least a whole day.


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Rock Rose: When visiting Portsdown Hill on Sep 1 I was shown that the Rock Rose site which I discovered for myself in May was more extensive than I realised though few flowers were still out

Marsh Mallow: For several years I have made annual visits to Cobnor Point in Chichester Harbour to admire the large colony of Marsh Mallow which grows over a stretch of about 1 kilometre of the shoreline there and I have also visited the shoreline of Salterns Copse/Copperas Point around SU 829 018 when carrying out an Egret survey (watching birds entering their nest sites in Oldpark Wood across the water) but I had never seen Marsh Mallow growing there but this week Brian Fellows discovered a small colony of plants there

Common Gorse: Now starting to flower in several places though not yet forcing attention on itself

Hop: The first flowers that I have seen this year were on male plants around the edge of the Havant rail station carpark south of the track - seen on Aug 27

Ivy: My first sight of open flowers was at Bedhampton on Sep 2

Sea-heath (Frankenia laevis): On Sep 1 Brian Fellows found healthy plants (though not flowering) on the East Head sand dunes at the mouth of Chichester Harbour where he has found them in previous years.

Hybrid Monkey flower (Mimulus x robertsii): An impressive show of this seen on Aug 29 in the stream running along the east side of Watery Lane at its southern end where it leaves West Ashling pond heading north to Funtington

Small Teazel: I found this flowering at Racton in the Ems valley on Aug 29 - see my diary entry for photos

Shaggy Soldier: A good show of this found on Aug 29 in an unexpected place - the roadside gutter outside a bungalow in the narrow road called The Drive at Southbourne (SU 768 058)


(Skip to Endweek)

Common Dolphin: 30 off the Scillies on Aug 25 and 5 off Durlston on Aug 30

Minke Whale: One of Whitburn, Co Durham, on Sep 1

Fallow Deer: Three does with four calves and one yearling which had been disturbed from the Stansted area were seen running at high speed over stubble fields south of the Racton Tower on Aug 29. They were uncertain as to where to go and would pause in the centre of a field then race off, crossing and re-crossing the minor road between Aldsworth and Racton as cars made their way along it.

Common Lizard: Plenty of these to be seen currently, nearly all of them vanishing into cover as soon as you spot them, but one young boy showed great 'fieldcraft' when he saw one in the Steyning area north of Worthing on Aug 29 and remained so still that a Lizard came to investigate him by 'licking his finger'

Snails: A few Pointed Snails (Cochlicella acuta) seen on the slope of the seawall above the west end of the Thorney Great Deeps on Aug 29 and a couple more Striped Snails (Cernuella virgata) found on Portsdown on Sep 1, their identity confirmed by the small size of their 'umbilicus'. Another snail seen in an unexpected place at the top of one of the windows of my house and identified by the whitish band around the extreme periphery of its otherwise mottled brown shell was a Strawberry Snail (Trichia striolata)

Fungi: Still very few species to be seen but on Aug 29 there was a massive growth of Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus) on the stump of a large tree (felled a couple of years ago on account of its diseased state and its position overhanging the Emsworth Road in Havant just east of Meadowlands). I also saw more Brown Rollrim outside Budds Farm alongside the Brockhampton stream


(Back to start of current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Aug 22 - 28 (Week 34 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird news highlights:

Wigeon: Now starting to return to the south coast - Christchurch Harbour had its first back on Aug 19 with six newcomers on Aug 22 and Hook (Warsash) had 5 on Aug 22 after just one on Aug 16. Pintail are also starting to appear with one in Devon (Axe estuary) on Aug 20 and one at Pagham North Walls on Aug 25. Over in Kent there were 77 Pochard on the R.Stour by Aug 24

Honey Buzzard: Other than one flying out to sea from Dungeness on Aug 21 there have been no reports from English sites, however there has been a big surge of migrants on the near continent - minimum counts were 17 on Aug 22, 16 on Aug 24 and 76 on Aug 25, but if we add up all the reports for e.g. Aug 25 (some of which are probably duplicates as the bird fly on south) we get a total of 133.

Montagu's Harrier: A juvenile has been seen in the Chale area of the Isle of Wight for at least four days this week

Osprey: Two have been temporarily resident in Langstone Harbour and at least one in Chichester Harbour this week while on Aug 24 Dorset had 8 separate birds but the report which caught my eye came from East Sussex where a young bird plunged in the Powdermill Reservoir (north of Hastings) without realising how shallow the water was and it became stuck in the mud, requiring human rescue. (I don't think it needed treatment for injuries but if so it would have gone to the RSPCA Mallydams centre which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year)

Returning waders: Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Golden and Grey Plover have all been seen in flocks of 100 or more on the south coast and Knot were reported this week in flocks of 45 on Thorney Island. 40+ in Pagham Harbour and 36+ in Devon (Exe estuary) with smaller counts of 7 in Emsworth Harbour and 4 off Northney on Hayling Island

Shorebird rarities: RBA news this week has mentioned the following species seen somewhere in Britain or Ireland - Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Phalaropes (Wilson's, Red-necked and Grey). They also report the first Franklin's Gull of the year at Helford in Cornwall and a Whiskered Tern (plus a White-winged Black Tern) at Rainham Marshes in London plus a Fea's Petrel - aka Cape Verde Petrel - off Co Cork (Some further detail available on http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/RealData/dailysummary.asp )

Insect News Highlights:

Nothing much to report in the way of Dragonflies and Butterflies (other than the emergence of a third generation of Common Blues) but there is news of two rare and one impressive migrant moths and one spider which I was not previously aware of. We also have the story of a moth trap accidentally placed close to a Hornets nest and the arrival of this year's first migrant Western Conifer Seed Bug (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_conifer_seed_bug )

Plant News Highlights:

A visit to the Chidham/Cobnor penninsula on Aug 24 to see Marsh Mallow in flower also gave me a single flower of Common Gorse and confirmation of both Narrow-leaved Ragwort and Early Goldern Rod still flowering at Nutbourne plus the surprise sight of two large fields growing a crop of Millet Another unusual crop is Lucerne growing in a field near the south of Thorney Island

Although not yet in flower locally Ivy has started to flower in the Andover area

Ragwort: Comment from Durlston .. "Ragwort is a plant of mixed blessings – a poisonous plant to cattle and horses if left and cut with hay, but a vital food plant for the larvae of the Cinnabar moth and of course a great pollen source!" When growing in a field animals will know it is poisonous or will soon discover after a harmless nibble but in hay they cannot recognize it and the poisons are probably stronger in dead than live material as they are in Yew.

Other News highlights:

Risso's Dolphin: This get's the first mention for the year in the reports I have seen though it is present year round in all temperate waters (but far out, preferring the edge of the continental shelf). Although no longer than the Bottle-nosed it is bulkier having a whale like front end with a distinctive vertical crease down its 'forehead' and is of a whale-like grey colour overall. It is the bulkiest of the Dolphin species and is in a family of its own (Grampus griseus). The name 'Grampus' is often also used for the Orca (Killer Whale)

Clouds: For some unexpected cloud photos see http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/asperatus-update/ - I came on this when browsing Cliff Dean's fascinating blog ( http://rxbirdwalks.wordpress.com/ ). Another recent entry in this blog led me to discover an old fashioned gipsy caravan which has been converted into a touring cinema ( see http://rxbirdwalks.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/romney-marsh-cultural-tour/ and note that words in a reddish-brown colour are hyperlinks, usually well worth exploring)


(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: Although a total of 40 were seen in Langstone Harbour on Aug 6 I have seen no other reports of the expected autumn build up of these birds in the harbour until this week when on Aug 22 I found at least 16 off the South Moors shore (there could well have been more in the Chalk Dock area and elsewhere in the harbour)

Shearwaters: Reports from Cornwall and the Scillies feature Cory's, Great, Sooty, Manx and Balearic plus Storm Petrels

Bittern: One seen in the Exmouth area of Devon on Aug 18 and 20 may have been a new arrival there but one in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 25 was no doubt a resident there. Also on Aug 25 a Little Bittern was seen in France

Cattle Egret: One has been seen on the Thornham Marshes (area north of the Thorney Island Great Deeps east of the main road) from Aug 14 to 27 at least. On the evening of Aug 27 it roosted near the Little Deeps with 123 Little Egrets A different bird was in the Christchurch area on Aug 22 and 23

Great White Egret: The regular bird which seems to have been back at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood since Aug 6 was seen on Aug 22 and 24. A possible indication of post breeding dispersal on the near continent gave counts of 9, 5, 3, and 1 at four different sites on Aug 26

Purple Heron: Although two birds seen at Dungeness on May 6 were thought to have been an adult with one of last years young from successful breeding there in 2010 there has been no official anouncement of breeding in England this year. Nevertheless sightings of a young bird at the Elmley Marshes on Sheppey (north Kent) on Aug 6 and 14, plus a 'vagrant juvenile' at Dungeness on Aug 16 and a juvenile at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 17 may suggest further breeding in south east England but on the other hand a count of 29 of these birds at a continental site on Aug 17 may indicate that the occasional sighting here is just accidental overspill from breeding on the continent

Spoonbill: Two were seen at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 21 and four were at Arne on Aug 23 while a Netherlands site had 31 on Aug 23 and 36 on Aug 26

Shelduck: An adult with two fledged juveniles was in Emsworth Harbour on Aug 26 to show that there is still some local breeding. Shelduck are known to make life very difficult for their young by nesting several miles inland and then making their young march to the coast before they can fly, having to cross the busy A27 and electrified railway en route. A few do nest near the shore but there was no positive indication of breeding success at Budds Farm this year and the only recent report from Langstone Harbour was of seven birds seen there on Aug 19 (I suspect some of those were juveniles).

Wigeon: Now starting to return to the south coast - Christchurch Harbour had its first back on Aug 19 with six newcomers on Aug 22 and Hook (Warsash) had 5 on Aug 22 after just one on Aug 16. Pintail are also starting to appear with one in Devon (Axe estuary) on Aug 20 and one at Pagham North Walls on Aug 25. Over in Kent there were 77 Pochard on the R.Stour by Aug 24 while by Aug 26 the number of Teal in the Kent Stour valley was reported as 507 with 44 Gadwall also there.

Garganey: A few still with us - this week's reports are of 2 at Titchfield Haven, 2 in the Kent Stour Valley and 1 at Lodmoor (Weymouth)

Merganser: A summering bird was seen in Pagham Harbour on Aug 24

Goosander: A flock of 8 seen at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 20 were thought to have been from the nearby Avon valley

Honey Buzzard: Other than one flying out to sea from Dungeness on Aug 21 there have been no reports from English sites, however there has been a big surge of migrants on the near continent - minimum counts were 17 on Aug 22, 16 on Aug 24 and 76 on Aug 25, but if we add up all the reports for e.g. Aug 25 (some of which are probably duplicates as the birds fly on south) we get a total of 133.

Montagu's Harrier: A juvenile has been seen in the Chale area of the Isle of Wight for at least four days this week

Marsh Harrier: One has been seen in the Thorney Island Great Deeps area on Aug 25 and 27 this week

Osprey: Two have been temporarily resident in Langstone Harbour and at least one in Chichester Harbour this week while on Aug 24 Dorset had 8 separate birds but the report which caught my eye came from East Sussex where a young bird plunged in the Powdermill Reservoir (north of Hastings) without realising how shallow the water was and it became stuck in the mud, requiring human rescue. (I don't think it needed treatment for injuries but if so it would have gone to the RSPCA Mallydams centre which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year)

Merlin: One at Dungeness on Aug 21 was only the fourth in southern England this autumn so a 'probable' sighting at the Thorney Island Great Deeps on Aug 27 would have been the fifth.

Quail: One still to be heard on the Sussex Downs near Worthing on Aug 22 and another seen in the Scillies on Aug 24

Avocet: The first to reach its winter quarters in the Exe estuary arrived there last week on Aug 19. Three more passed through Christchurch Harbour on Aug 25 with a further single on Aug 26

Stone Curlew: Not current news but proof that these birds do breed in Sussex is a ringing recovery of a bird ringed as a chick in Sussex in June 2010 was found in August 2010 in Worcestershire. I hope the bird has survived to this year but the direction it took on its first flight suggests it lacks the innate navigational skills need for a migrant!

Grey Plover: 45 birds roosting at The Kench on Hayling Island on Aug 25 had increased to 170 there on Aug 26

Knot: Reports this week show that substantial flocks are now back on our south coast - Thorney Island had 45 on Aug 22, Pagham Harbour had 40+ on Aug 24, and Devon had 45+ at Exmouth on Aug 26. Locally Aug 25 brought 7 to Emsworth Harbour and 5 to the Northney shore of Hayling

Bar-tailed Godwit: 15 were seen in the Hook (Warsash) area on Aug 20 and 25 were at The Kench (Hayling Island) om Aug 25

Other shore birds: As well as the expected Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ruff, Snipe, Little and Temmincks Stints and Curlew Sandpipers RBA news this week has mentioned the following species seen somewhere in Britain or Ireland - Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Phalaropes (Wilson's, Red-necked and Grey). They also report the first Franklin's Gull of the year at Helford in Cornwall and a Whiskered Tern (plus a White-winged Black Tern) at Rainham Marshes in London with a Fea's Petrel - aka Cape Verde Petrel - off Co Cork (Some further detail available on http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/RealData/dailysummary.asp )

Redshank: A substantial increase in the number seen locally on Aug 22 when I saw at least 300 in a walk around the Budds Farm and Langstone village area and I see that a Spotted Redshank was at Farlington Marshes on that day

Phalaropes: All three species get a mention this week - a juvenile Red-necked was at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, a Grey was on the Lymington shore and a Wilson's (Phalaropus tricolor) turned up in Northern Ireland. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phalaropus_tricolor_-_breeding_female.jpg to see why this bird gets is 'tricolor' name. Wilson's is an American species and only a rare vagrant to Europe

Skuas: A couple of Pomarines were off Cornwall, a Long-tailed was off Spurn Head in Yorkshire, Dungeness had 15 Arctics and the Scillies had 10 Bonxies

Gulls: The only Franklin's of the year so far was at Helford in Cornwall and 390 Little Gulls were at Flamborough Head in Yorkshire while the Scillies had 3 Sabines

Terns: Locally the birds roosting in Langstone Harbour entrance on the evening of Aug 23 were 1132 Common Terns with 1 Black and 2 Roseate. 6 Little Terns were still passing Dungeness on Aug 25 with 37 Black Terns there on Aug 23 and a single Whiskered Tern, plus a White-winged Black Tern, were at Rainham Marshes in London on Aug 26

Alpine Swift: One seen in Somerset on Aug 20

Kingfisher: Now becoming a more frequent sight on the south coast with sighings this week at five local sites (Cobnor Point, both ends of the Thorney Great Deeps, the Brockhampton Stream in Havant and Titchfield Haven)

Departing summer migrants: The following table gives some impression of the rate at which these birds are leaving by showing the single highest count recorded at an English coastal site during the week

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/09
Turtle Dove14 6 10 7
Cuckoo11 1 1 1
Nightjar-- - - 1
Swift801500 20 29 22
Wryneck 1 3 1
Sand Martin5003001000+450 3000
Swallow10015000+500+150 1800
House Martin5080250+40 -
Tree Pipit414810 70
Meadow Pipit 6035 24
Yellow Wagtail2015030055 200
Grey Wagtail----5
Pied Wagtail--12250+
Common Redstart243323
Grasshopper Warbler393106
Sedge Warbler1807645100+70
Reed Warbler5 730+54
Lesser Whitethroat61281317
Common Whitethroat220130150350175
Garden Warbler10129+154
Wood Warbler-1-1-
Willow Warbler1250175290500
Spotted Flycatcher-1011415
Pied Flycatcher22115

Wryneck: Reports from ten different sites in southern England this week (plus another seven on the near continent). The only Hampshire report was of one on the Lymington shore on Aug 27

Sand Martin: 3000 were over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on Aug 26

Swallow: 1800 came to roost at Farlington Marshes on the evening on Aug 22

Yellow Wagtail: 31 reports this week from all along the south coast but the highest count is of 200 in the Hook (Warsash) area on Aug 23

Citrine Wagtail: One in the Scillies on Aug 21

Grey Wagtail: Passage birds seen along the coast from Devon to East Sussex with a peak of 5 at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 24

Wheatear: The week's peak count of 300 was reported by Portland

Fieldfare: One was seen in the Netherlands on Aug 26 (one also reported there on Aug 2)

Aquatic Warbler: One in Poole Harbour on Aug 20 and another in Cornwall on Aug 23

Booted Warbler: One on Shetland on Aug 26

Melodious Warbler: Singles this week in the Scillies, at Portland and at Prawle in Devon

Greenish Warbler: One in Norfolk on Aug 26

Arctic Warbler: One in Shetland on Aug 25

Western Bonelli's Warbler: Singles at Dungeness, in Cornwall and in the Scillies

Gold and Firecrest: Both species have now joined the autumn movements. 12 Goldcrests were noted at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 24 and two Firecrests were seen at Arne with singles at both Christchurch Harbour and Pulborough Brooks

Bearded Tit: One seen flying over a Hill Head garden suggests that autumn dispersal has started as does the inclusion of one as a 'remarkable' sighting at a Netherlands site

Willow Tit: I'm not sure of the status of this species in Cornwall but a report of one in the Truro area on Aug 23 caught my eye

Shrikes: Both Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes were seen in the Scillies this week

Starling: Autumn flocks now bulding up with a report of 1400 at Stokes Bay (Gosport) on Aug 25

House Sparrow: A flock of 250 birds seen on the Lymington shore on Aug 24

Tree Sparrow: Evidence of the arrival of continental birds comes from a report of 25 at Dungeness on Aug 22 plus a flock of 107 in the Spurn Point area on the Yorkshire coast on Aug 20

Finch flocks: More than 70 Greenfinch passed over Durlston on Aug 27 and 80 Goldfinch were at Hook (Warsash) on Aug 22. On Aug 26 Reculver in Kent had 70 Linnet


(Skip to Plants)


Species reported this week: Southern Hawker, Common Hawker (at Thursley Common), Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Emperor, Gold-ringed, Keeled Skimmer, Black Darter, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Emerald Damsel, Willow Emerald (in Essex), Red Eyed Damsel, Small Red-eyed Damsel, Large Red Damsel, Blue Tailed Damsel, Common Blue Damsel and Azure Damsel


Notable sightings this week:

Clouded Yellow: Singles seen at Isfield near Lewes, Steyning near Worthing, Thorney Island and Hook (Warsash)

Common Blue: 50 fresh males on the Sussex Downs near Worthing indicate the emergence of a third generation for this summer

Small Blue: A summer brood appeared in mid July at several sites but, other than a single report from an East Sussex Downs site on Aug 11, Durlston is the only site to have continued reporting them from July 26 to Aug 24

Painted Lady: Four were seen this week - one on the West Sussex Downs, one at Andover, one at Barton on sea and one at Emsworth

Species reported this week: Small Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Silver Spotted Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brown Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock., Comma, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath


Pine-tree Lappet (Dendrolimus pini): One of these rare migrants arrived at Portland on Aug 23 to be the first ever recorded in Dorset

Convolvulus Hawkmoth: The first for the year arrived at Folkestone on Aug 20 and this week a second was found at Portland on Aug 26. This large migrant (10cm wingspan) turns up in small numbers most years but has not yet established itself in this country. After a major invasion in 2003 there was some breeding but very few caterpillars survived the winter

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Just two individuals seen this week bringing the total recorded this year to 116

Bloxworth Snout: One seen at Folkestone on Aug 23. Until 1990 this rare species was only known as a migrant but since then it has established itself at several places along the south coast, including the Isle of Wight

Other Insects

Hornet: On the night of Aug 23 Barry Collins set up a moth trap near the east end of the Great Deeps on Thorney Island but very soon discovered that in so doing he had stirred up a Hornet's nest and he had some difficulty in getting back to the trap to turn off the light with around 100 Hornets swarming round it and objecting to its presence!

Brown Banded Carder Bee (Bombus humilis): Most of the bumblebee species surveyed in the Dungeness area this year suffered from drought withering the plants from which they would normally get their supply of nectar but this species was lucky in that its peak of activity comes later in the year than the others and by the time it was needing nectar the rains had comes and had refreshed the plants

Western Conifer Seed Bug: What seems to be the first cross channel migrant for this year arrived at Dungeness on Aug 25

Neoscona adianta: This is apparently a not uncommon heathland orb web spider with a distinctive pattern (see http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uWiR-1k7YTo/TlPauAnBWqI/AAAAAAAABl4/ML7VapJNXI0/s400/Southerham+spiders+026.JPG ) which Graeme Lyons made me aware of through his blog entry for Aug 23 describing a visit to the Sussex Wildlife Trust Farm at Southerham adjeacent to Maling Down near Lewes. To follow Graeme's blog go to http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ and to learn about Southerham Farm visit http://www.sussexwt.org.uk/reserves/page00033.htm


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Turkish Tutsan (Hypericum xylosteifolium): Plants growing alongside the Brockhampton Stream (west of Budds Farm) are now flowering where they were planted many years ago by the owners of a boat which moored here (immediately below the second bridge) but which subsequently broke loose and drifted out into Langstone Harbour.

Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis): On Aug 24 I paid my annual visit to the only colony of this plant which I know of nearer than the colony on the banks of the River Hamble immediately north of the M27. The site I visit is on the shore of Chichester Harbour at the southwest tip of the Chidham penninsula and the plants grow along the high tide line below a strip of Oak woodland which also overhangs the water's edge.

Common Gorse: This normally restarts flowering in the first half of September after a summer break. While at Cobnor Point on Aug 24 I did see a single flower open but that was not a sign of an early general resumption of flowering

Lucerne: It is many years since I saw Lucerne planted as a crop (in the Hambledon area) but this year I hear that a couple of fields have been planted with it in the south of Thorney Island

Ivy: Although I have already commented that the flower buds on Ivy are getting near to flowering the only ones already in flower (and attracting insects) were seen near Andover on Aug 20

Red Bistort: Originally planted as garden flowers but since abandoned to their own devices are a cluster of plants beside the stream following the Langbrook stream south from Havant (across the stream from Brookmead Way gardens). I found them flowering on Aug 22

Tomato: Another fairly common escape from cultivation - Brian Fellows found a plant with flowers and fruit near the Emsworth shoreline on Aug 23

Heath Speedwell: I was surprised to find this reflowering on Aug 26 in the Hollybank Woods were I found it on Apr 24

Devils Bit Scabious: Although I had found the first flowers on this at Havant Thicket on Aug 5 I was still pleased to see it starting to flower at the Langstone South Moors on Aug 22. There has never been much growing here and it is always late in appearing but my interest is in recording its survival - each year I expect it will have vanished

Narrow-leaved Ragwort: Still flowering at Nutbourne Farm Lane when I was there on Aug 24 as was the Early Golden Rod which I first identified there this year

Millet: I was surprised to find two large fields beside Cot Lane at Chidham devoted to growing this as a crop when I was there on Aug 24


(Skip to Endweek)

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A pod of around 7 swam past Worthing on Aug 26

Risso's Dolphin: One seen from Land's End on Aug 22 - see highlights for more about the species

Hare: Two leverets were flushed from the grass bank around the Stansted Garden Centre when the grass on it was cut on Aug 22

Striped Snail (Cernuella virgata): A couple of samples of what I have up to now called 'Mint Humbug' snails checked on the Langstone South Moors seawall path on Aug 22 showed that they had only a small central 'umbilicus' between the whorls of their shells when viewed from underneath and were therefore Striped Snails (which are commoner in the south of England) and not the Heath Snails (Helicella itala) which look similar but which have a larger umbilicus (up to one third the overall width of the shell)

Fungi: Still very few to be found. During the week I only came on one specimen (a Brown Rollrim by the banks of the Brockhampton stream) and an hour and a half looking round likely spots in the Hollybank woods on Friday afternoon discovered just four clumps of Common Earthball, a single Birch Polypore, and a fragment of wood stained green by Green Wood-cup (Chlorosplenium aeruginascens) - wood with this natural colouring was once incorporated into a type of marquetry known as Tunbridge Ware (for an example of this 'art' see http://www.bazaarboxes.com/phdi/p1.nsf/imgpages/bazaar_2d.jpg/$file/2d.jpg )


(Back to Start of Current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Aug 15 - 21 (Week 33 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird News Highlights:

Local news of Egrets is of a Cattle Egret spending the whole of this week on Thorney Island and of at least 250 Little Egrets spending their nights in the Chichester Harbour area

An inland Sabine's Gull feeding in a Hampshire Pig field is among the week's more unusual reports

Reports of Rose-ringed Parakeets in the Netherlands led me to discover more about their status on the near continent

Last winter's White-tailed Sea Eagle may be back in Hampshire after being reported near Chichester

Insect News Highlights:

This weeks news raises the question as to why the 'Common' Hawker dragonfly is not seen in most southern counties.

Another question concerns why 300 Black Darters choose to congregate around a tiny Welsh pond

In Sussex what may be the first sighting of a single second brood Orange Tip butterfly this century caused an enthusiast to get off a train before reaching his destination

Other Insect news introduces me to an 18th species of Ladybird and reveals that the Bee-killer Wasp species is now resident on Hayling

Plant News Highlights:

My personal botanic excitement came from a find of Dwarf Mallow growing on Langstone Bridge but John Goodspeed had a more exciting discovery of a real Hampshire rarity at Portchester

Two plants to look out for at this time are Slender Hare's Ear and Henbane

Other News Highlights:

Two very different Reptiles are in this week's news - one is a Grass Snake seen trying to swallow a Vole (leading me to investgate Grass Snake lifestyle) and the other is a Leatherback Turtle seen in the Scillies and thought likely to become a more frequent visitor to UK water following its jellyfish prey which has recently been in the news i account of a significant increase in numbers around our coasts.


(Skip to Insects)

Grebes: The first Red-necked Grebe to be seen in southern English waters this autumn was in the Tamar estuary (border between Devon and Cornwall) on Aug 14 and more Black-necked Grebes have reached the near continent (4 at a French site on Aug 14 and 5 in the Netherlands on Aug 16). A report of 27 Little Grebes at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Aug 14 may indicate the start of movement to winter sites by these small birds

Shearwaters: Aug 11 brought 4 Great Shearwaters to the Scillies and 1 to the Folkestone area on Aug 14. Lands End had 11 Sooty Shearwaters on Aug 16 (with 1831 Manx and 31 Balearic Shearwaters) while Berry Head in Devon had 66 that same day. Also in the Scillies more than 80 Storm Petrels were seen on Aug 11 with one Wilson's Storm Petrel on Aug 12

Cattle Egret: One has been seen on the Thornham Marshes (east end of Thorney Island Great Deeps) daily from Aug 14 to 19 (the RBA site says one is still in West Sussex on Aug 20 - presumably the Thorney bird)

Little Egret: The number in southern England will soon reach its autumn peak and roost counts in the copse near the Little Deeps on Thorney (105 on Aug 14) and the Langstone Mill Pond (153 on Aug 16) show significant increases on the recent past - an incomplete count of the Langstone roost on July 29 only recorded 42 birds. One thing revealed by the Langstone count is that it is not true that Egrets do not use their breeding sites as autumn roosts - the number spending the night there included some 20 juveniles that were hatched there - so there may well be more birds roosting in the Chichester Harbour area - no one has reported counts from the one-time major roost at the Thorney Great Deeps, the Thorney churchyard trees, the Tournerbury wood on south Hayling or the Oldpark Wood on the Bosham penninsula alongside the Fishbourne/Chichester channel. We will have to wait another month to see if the Langstone roost beats the count of 228 birds spending the night there on Sep 19 in 2006

Herons: 98 Grey Herons were seen at one Netherlands site on Aug 15 with 91 at another site that day. Similar counts were reported on Aug 17 when three Netherlands sites reported 60, 41 and 13 respectively. I know that Herons which spent the summer near the Arctic circle are forced to migrate south in the late autumn but I cannot think that this migration is yet underway, and I also understand that very few of the Herons based in temperate latitudes show any tendency to leave their home areas in the winter so I can only conjecture that there has been a particularly good breeding season for Herons in Europe to cause dispersal on this scale. There has also been a dispersal of Purple Herons this week with nearly 50 in places where they are not normally present on Aug 17 (on Aug 16 one such young bird was seen at Dungness - at least one pair has bred at Dungeness both this year and last but the current report emphasised that the bird on Aug 16 was not of local origin)

Storks: A total of around 20 Black Storks was reported at six continental sites on Aug 16 and on Aug 15 one German site reported 126 White Storks now on the move (their autumn migration seems to have started in earnest on Aug 10)

Spoonbill: None are settled in our area but some youngsters have been seen in both Hampshire and West Sussex (one over Chidham in Chichester Harbour on Aug 15 while on Aug 17 two were seen on North Binness island in Langstone Harbour before flying to the Pagham north walls area). Four others remain in north Kent.

Canada Goose: These are now mobile again as the adults have completed their summer moult and this years young are now able to fly with them. On Aug 17 a flock of around 500 descended on the estuary of the River Taw at Barnstable in north Devon where there had previously been no more than 50. Having wintessed at the IBM HQ site in Portsmouth the way in which these birds quickly turn parkland (where humans could relax on the lakeside grass just outside the site canteen) into wasteland covered with their droppings and with the grass that the geese pull out of the ground being replaced with coarse weeds I am not in favour of the attempt to attract them to Peter Pond in Emsworth by placing a 'cardboard cutout' of a goose at the waters edge (not that any number would be attracted there). I also find it difficult to see why the wildfowlers doing the pond conservation work at Emsworth would want to to encourage that species whose behaviour is not that of a wary wild species, and so do not provide any 'sport' for wildlfowlers, and, if shot, that are not tasty to eat!

Wigeon: These are just starting to return to southern sites - on Aug 19 Christchurch Harbour reported the return of the first two 'winter birds' at that site. Teal, Shoveler, Pochard and Gadwall are also returning and there have been big increases in Mallards this week on the River Itchen in Southampton (192 there on Aug 17) and in south west Devon (175 at Thurlestone Bay on Aug 18)

Garganey: Ones or twos have been seen at six southern English sites this week (incuding one at Titchfield Haven and one in Langstone Harbour) while a French site had 13 there on Aug 16

Goosander: Seven flew over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 17 but I suspect these had been in the Avon valley though the summer as have four seen at the Blashford Lakes whereas a pair seen on the Avon Dam Reservoir on Dartmoor (on Aug 15) are likely to have been the first migrants from the north. The report of a female in the Oysterbeds area of Langstone harbour on that day sounds like a mis-identification of a Merganser which has summered in the harbour.

Honey Buzzard: If all the reports from continental sites Aug 15 are of diffent birds there were some 50 heading south that day (with one more passing over Poole Harbour) - even if we assume that all the sightings were duplicates the minimum number seen was 14 birds. Some birds were seen every day this week including one on Aug 19 which strayed across the channe to arrive off the sea at the South Foreland in Kent before heading back south across the Channel.

White-tailed Sea Eagle: The bird which spent last winter in the south west of Hampshire after appearing in Sussex on Dec 11 reached the Norfolk Coast on its return journey on Apr 3 but instead of crossing the North Sea it pottered around East Anglia, settling in Lincolnshire at the end of April. It was last reported there on Aug 3 but on Aug 18 a bird of this species was reported near Fontwell to the east of Chichester suggesting that this might be last winter's bird returning to Hampshire - so far no further sightings!

Harriers: Looking down into the Wallington River valley from the west end of Portsdown on Aug 18 Trevor Carpenter had a superb view of a Marsh Harrier flying over Whitedell Farm and on Aug 19 a female Hen Harrier was seen flying over Manston airfield in the Thanet area of Kent while at Folkestone in the south of Kent a Montagu's Harrier flew west on Aug 16.

Osprey: 16 reports this week come from 8 sites. Most sighting were on or around Thorney Island but they have also been seen at Fleet Pond in north Hants, the Wareham channel in Poole Harbour, Lymington and Titchfield area

Merlin: A very early bird was back in Kent on July 25 but no more were seen until Aug 14 when one flew south out to sea at Folkestone. On Aug 17 Portland had their first of the autumn on on Aug 19 one was seen over Piddlehinton (a village few miles north of Dorchester)

Quail: None reported in England this week but singles were still in the Netherlands on Aug 17 and 19

Coot: Brian Fellows reports a small increase in numbers there as the birds come to the end of their breeding season at inland sites and head for the coast but the total of 25 on the Emsworth ponds is nothing compared to the count of 536 at the Bashford Lakes on Aug 13

Crane: Two were photographed when then touched down at a farm in the Pevensey Levels area near Eastbourne on Aug 14

Avocet: The first two of the winter flock to arrive at the Exe estuary in Devon were seen there on Aug 19

Ringed Plover: A flock of 163 at Thurlestone Bay in south west Devon on Aug 18 is the most significant marker of an increase in wader numbers all along the south coast

Dotterel: One was seen in Lancashire on Aug 14 and others was seen on their southward journeys at German and Netherlands sites this week

Golden Plover: The first report for this autumn of a flock of 500 birds came from the Oare Marshes in north Kent on Aug 15 (previous max count was 178 - also in north Kent - on Aug 5)

Pomarine Skua: A total of 53 were seen to pass Berry Head in South Devon on Aug 16. Also passing there that day were 31 Arctic Skuas and 21 Great Skuas

Sabines Gull: One flew in over Christchurch Harbour on Aug 18 and joined other gulls flying inland to feed in pig fields at Sopley. It returned to the same fields on Aug 19 but does not seem to have been seen again

Rose-ringed Parakeet: Reports of 39 of these Parakeets at a Netherlands site on Aug 14 with 25 seen on Aug 15 made me wonder if they were newcomers to Continental Europe but it seems that there some 10,000 birds in the Netherlands and another 5,000 in Belgium where birds were set free when a park closed in 1987. As this species is not migratory (and is very reluctant to move outside the area where they were hatched) they do not often come to the attention to the birding sites which report their 'remarkable' sighting to the Trektellen website from which I pick up continental sightings. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose-ringed_Parakeet

Departing summer migrants: The following table (which I forgot to include in last week's summary) gives some impression of the rate at which thess birds are leaving by showing the single highest count recorded at an English coastal site during the week

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/09
Turtle Dove14 6 1
Cuckoo11 1 1
Swift801500 20 29
Wryneck 1 3
Sand Martin5003001000+450
House Martin5080250+40
Tree Pipit414810
Meadow Pipit 6035
Yellow Wagtail2015030055
Common Redstart2433
Grasshopper Warbler39310
Sedge Warbler1807645100+
Reed Warbler5 730+
Lesser Whitethroat612813
Common Whitethroat220130150350
Garden Warbler10129+15
Wood Warbler-1-1
Willow Warbler1250175290
Spotted Flycatcher-10114
Pied Flycatcher2211

Yellow Wagtail: 25 reports from southern England this week with a peak count of 55 at Dungeness on Aug 17. Locally 17 were at Sandy Point on Hayling on Aug 19

Grey Wagtail: Although these do not migrate far as a species many move to winter sites and a report of 10 at Alresford near Winchester on Aug 15 indicates that we may soon see birds back at local sites such as the Lymbourne stream at Langstone. White Wagtails are also now in 'channel hopping' mode (three were at Dungeness on Aug 17)

Robin: I heard the first autumn song on July 26 but it is only this week frome Aug 15 on that I have heard them regularly in many places

Mistle Thrush: On Aug 13 a flock of 31 birds was seen on the west end of the New Forest and on Aug 14 28 birds were seen elsewhere in the New Forest

Aquatic Warbler: The first of these vagrants to appear in England this autumn was in the Exmouth area on Aug 17

Icterine Warbler: One in the Scillies on Aug 17

Melodious Warbler: This species has been reported at 11 different sites since May this year, of them being the old IBM HQ site in Portsmouth where it was seen very briefly on Aug 13 but not re-found.

Subalpine Warbler: One in an Essex park for at least three days starting on Aug 14 has left Lee Evans in some doubt as to whethere the bird is of of the Eastern or Western race of this species - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subalpine_Warbler for differences between three races.

Wood Warbler: Single birds seen at Sandwich Bay on Aug 15 and at Rye Harbour on Aug 18

Woodchat Shrike: Seen in both Cornwall and the Scillies this week

Raven: Among sightings at seven sites this week a pair of birds at Christchurch Harbour were seen eating Rowan berries on Aug 15 after being driven from the site on Aug 14 by a flock of Crows

Linnet: Both Linnet (120) and Goldfinch (50+) were in autun flock mode at Durlston on Aug 19

Corn Bunting: After coming close to extinction in Hampshire in recent years it is good to see that one was in the Stubbington (Gosport) area on Aug 13 and another was at Broughton Down near Stockbridge on Aug 15


(Skip to Plants)


Notable sightings this week:

Common Hawker: Despite living up to its name as a common species in England it is for some reason absent from most of the south coast other than the New Forest and Cornwall (where one was seen this week)

Lesser Emperor: A male was in Cornwall and a pair were egglaying at Dungeness

Black Darter: A small pond (only 40 by 15 feet) in Wales had an extraordinary roost of some 300 Black Darters around it on Aug 13

Willow Emerald: 14 of these were seen in the Reculver Country Park (north east Kent) on Aug 19

Species reported during the week:

Southern Hawker, Common Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Emperor, Lesser Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer, Black Darter, Ruddy Darter, Red Veined Darter, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Emerald Damsel, Willow Emerald, Smal Red-eyed Damsel, Blue-tailed Damsel.


Notable sightings

Silver Spotted Skipper: A count of 70 there on Aug 15 was massively greater than any other site - it also reported 75 back on Aug 1 but the only other sites reported double figures this summer were Malling Down at Lewes with 20 on July 31 and Stockbridge Down with 12 on Aug 1

Orange Tip: It is very rare for this species to have a second brood so the sight of one from the window of a train which had stopped at Moulscomb station in Sussex on Aug 16 was enough to make one one enthusiast get off the train to get a better view. Checking the Hampshire Butterfly Reports since the year 2000 I can only find one report of a single second brood insect seen on Aug 21 in 2008

Purple Emperor: With no reports since July 27 I was very surprised to see that one had been seen (on dog faeces) on Aug 12 at Loxwood near Horsham - I very much doubt we will hear of another this year!

Painted Lady: Aug 14 brought three reports after a gap of two weeks since the previous report (which had been of a pristine specimen) and Aug 17 brought a local sighting of another fresh specimen seen on Thorney Island. As it takes less than two months for an egg laid by this species to emerge as a butterfly I rather suspect that the insects being seen currently are ones that come from eggs laid here by earlier migrants and that would explain Brian Fellows surprise at seeing an insect which is said to be a migrant from North Africa appearing so fresh. In fact I understand that very few of the African insects ever reach us - the ones we normally see are their offspring which hatched in Italy or France and we are now probably seeing a third stage of 'generational migrants'

Species reported on the wing

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Silver Spotted Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Brown Hairstreak, Purple Haristreak, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath


Nothing significant this week

Other Insects

Tipula maxima: The first of these large Crane Flies with their patterned wings invaded my house at night on Aug 17 but was persuaded to leave in the morning

Volucella pellucens: Brian Fellows was the first to report this large hoverfly when he saw if feeding on Water Mint at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Aug 15. This species is sometimes overlooked as (when not feeding) it flies in woodland just above head height though it can still be distinguished by the white band around the front of its abdomen

Adonis Ladybird (Hippodamia variegata): An 18th laydbird species to add to my personal reportoire thanks to a sigthing in a wood at Peasmarsh near Hastings on Aug 18. This is an uncommon species of sandy soil areas and can be distinguished by the pattern on its pronotum (above its head) which looks like an oldfashioned black face mask outlined in white.

Tegenaria gigantea: The first of these large house spiders of the autumn appeared just inside my front door on Aug 17 and was gently persauded out of the door but will no doubt be back.

Garden Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus): The only one that I have seen so far this autumn is already full size and has constucted her web in front of a window of my house giving her a safe and sheltered 'retreat' in the corner of the window frame where she can shelter from rain and wind while keeping one leg touching one of the main strands of the web to let her know when pref gets caught.

Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi): A second local specimen for the autumn was seen on Thorney Island on Aug 19

Bee-killer Digger Wasp (Philanthus triangulum): I forgot to mention this report when it occurred last week on Aug 8. I have long known of the species which lives in places with sandy soil where it digs nest tunnels in the sand, stocking them with paralyzed bees that it catches and carries to the nest to provide food for its young. I knew they could be found locally on Thorney Island but was not aware of them on Hayling Island (they are not mentioned in Pete Durnell's 'Wildlife of Hayling') until I saw this month's report of them catching bees in a Hayling garden just north of the sandy area of Sinah Common.


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Corn Cockle: This was found growing with Cornflowers and Apple of Peru on the grassy promenade area beside the slipway at Lee on the Solent down which Hovercraft from the HMS Daedalus site were launched into the sea. Dave Savage found this unexpected collection of flowers there on Aug 19. Presumably they are the result of sowing wildflower seed.

Green Amaranth (aka Pigweed): A lot of this was growing among a crop of Pumpkins in a large field edge strip alongside the rack going west from Northney Church toward Northwood Farm. In the crop there was also plenty of Common Fumitory, Sun Spurge, Small Nettle and smaller arable weeds

Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta): While walking south on the east side of Langstone Bridge on Aug 19 I found one of these plants flouishing among the extremely close mown roadside grass just south of where boats from Langstone Sailing Club cross the road to be launched into Chichester Harbour. Although the plant is not a rarity, and is recorded locally from south Hayling and from somewhere in Leigh Park, I have never come across it here before and have this year been lamenting the loss of the plant from a local Sussex site in the Nutbourne orchards (where the grass under the apple trees is no longer close mown). See my diary entry for Aug 19 for more detail and photos.

Red Clover: On Aug 19 I also discovered that a medium sized field at Northney (north Hayling) had been sown with a single crop of Red Clover - photo on my Diary page

Sand Lucerne: This hybrid between Lucerne and Sickle Medick is rare in Hampshire and a colony of it which John Goodspeed discovered on Aug 14 in the Portchester Castle Shore park on the sea wall of Paulsgrove Lake may well be the only place it is to be found in Hampshire. To my knowledge this colony has persisted there for ten years (maybe much longer). The plants look similar to Lucerne except for the colour of the flowers which which vary from plant to plant and can range from white to black (or anyhing in between though yellow flowers can usually be found).

Ivy: Although not yet in flower the buds of the first autumn flowers have already passed though the stage or 'tightly closed balls of buds' and the individual flower stems are now becoming full length - flowers might be seen before the end of this month

Slender Hare's Ear: Following my find of a dozen plants flower on the Langstone South Moors shore on Aug 13 Brian Fellows found a lot more on the North Hayling western seawall on Aug 17

Henbane: It is some years since I saw this in Hampshire fields but now is the time to look for it after a find in the Walland Marsh area (just east of Rye) on Aug 18

Skullcap: I could not see this at the Lumley (Emsworth) site where Brian Fellows found it on June 29 but a couple of fresh plants were flowering there on Aug 17


(Skip to Endweek)

Cetaceans: A pod of 10 White-beaked Dolphins were off Whitburn on the Durham coast and one Minke Whale was off Yorkshire

Grass Snake: At the Oare Marshes in north Kent the cries of a Vole revealed that it was desperately trying to escape from a Grass Snake which was gripping the back end of its body. Wondering about the outcome of this struggle led me to a website giving me the facts about the diet and hunting methods of Grass Snakes - see http://www.surrey-arg.org.uk/SARG/08000-TheAnimals/SARGSpeciesData.asp?Species=Grass_Snake which tells me that Grass Snakes do not have fangs or venom and rely on swallowing their prey whole so only a big female would have a chance to swallow a Vole. Among other aspects of a Grass Snake's way of life this website tells me that their main prey are amphibians and because the Frogs and Newts spend only part of the year in water the Snakes follow them and at this time of year they will have left the ponds where they hunted in the spring and can be found in many different dry habitats. Another fact learnt from this website is that Pheasants are among the main predators of young snakes. Among facts which I already knew are that, when attacked, the Snakes can generate a nasty smell from glands around their 'cloaca' (or anus) and can in a last resort feign death which may deter those predators which like their food to be fresh. In exceptional circumstances they will 'bite' an attacker but this is unlikely to harm a human (they do have small teeth)

Leatherback Turtle: One was seen in the Scillies area on Aug 14 and I found relevant info about the species in UK waters on the BBC Springwatch website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/springwatch/meettheanimals/leatherback.shtml - these creatures are not new to Britain but are thought likely to be seen here in increasing numbers following the increasing number of jellyfish around our coasts. Among other facts I learnt that these Turtles, unlike other reptiles, are warmblooded and that the name Leatherback because their shells are covered by a leathery skin

Fungi: Blackening Waxcaps were seen at Cowdray near Midhurst on Aug 19 and these should soon be a fairly common species - last year they appeared on my garden lawn on Sep 22. On Aug 19 I found my first Giant Puffball in the Northney area of Hayling Island and I see that last year they appeared in a Langstone garden on Aug 22 with others seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery at the beginning of September. Back on July 24 this year Durlston reported the find of the rare and colourful Red Cage fungus (Clathrus ruber) and this week they tell us that the 'cage' has now collapsed after the best part of a month.


(Back to Start of Current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Aug 8 - 14 (Week 32 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird News:

Southbound Ospreys have now appeared over both Chichester and Langstone Harbour and Corncrake has dropped in at a Cornish site to rest its wings while the first Wryneck of the autumn has reached East Anglia

A Black-bellied Storm Petrel has this week made its third attempt to get on the list of Western Palearctic birds

Insect News:

Not much excitement in the Insect World this week but the first Helice form Clouded Yellow has been seen and you mustn't miss seeing the picture of two tiny Weevils mating in a Peasmarsh wood near Hastings

Plant News:

The first sight of (as yet unopen) flower buds on Ivy is a sure sign of approaching autumn and one Dog Rose is already suggesting that winter is already on us. More seasonable were the first flowers on Slender Hare's Ear

Other News:

In the Scillies persistence has won its reward - after 10 years of catching Blue Sharks and attaching id tags to them the team has at last caught one of these sharks already carrying a tag fitted by similar enthusiasts on the other side of the Atlantic

For any local fungus fanatics I have news of an opportunity to meet an expert from the Hampshire Fungus Recording group when he leads a foray in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth at the end of August


(Skip to Insects)

Great Crested Grebe: By Aug 6 the autumn flock of these birds had built up to 40 in number as they started to move from breeding to winter quarters

Great Shearwater: We don't see many of these off southern England but you can see a good close-up photo of one taken in the Scillies on Aug 4 at http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6196/6025031505_e7a038c2d1_o.jpg Between Aug 1 and 11 six sightings of single birds were reported at sites between the Scillies and Start Point in Devon

Balearic Shearwater: Most sightings of these are reported from the west country but on Aug 6 Dungeness reported 19 birds

Cattle Egret: One paid a brief visit to Hamsphire this week being seen in the Alresford area near Winchester on Aug 8 and 9

Grey Heron: I have always been wary of getting within stabbing range of a Heron's bill and my fears were justified this week when a Heron joined in the wave of 'mindless violence' by drowning a Starling at Pulborough Brooks. Human parents have been urged to control their children this week and looking back to Aug 15 I think the parents who allowed their children to feed hand-held bread to a juvenile Heron on the Elvetham estate at Hartley Witney in north Hampshire should have had more thought for the safety of their children's eyes (especially as I see that on that same day a Heron at Cuckmere Haven in Sussex was seen to take a baby rabbit).

White Stork: Birds breeding on the near continent have already started to head south - 41 were reported at a Netherlands site on Aug 10

Greylag Goose: Fleet Pond is a good place to see a large variety of birds but on Aug 6 it became a bit crowded with flocks of 208 Greylags and 214 Canada Geese

Teal: No big numbers yet but on Aug 12 a count of 14 on the Pagham Ferry pool marked the change of season

Mallard: Tiny ducklings continue to appear on waters were these birds have stayed to breed but the presence of more than 250 Mallard at Rye Harbour on Aug 12 heralds the return of birds that have bred elsewhere

Garganey: These have been reported from six sites this week with 7 present in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 6 and 10 at a French site on Aug 10 plus ones and twos at Dungeness, Pulborough Brooks, Christchurch Harbour and Titchfield Haven

Shoveler: Rye Harbour is among several sites noticing an increase in numbers this week. Another returnee to southern waters was a single Long-tailed Duck off the Netherlands on Aug 12 and a male Red-crested Pochard was at the Blashford Lakes on Aug 8 and 9

Honey Buzzard: Four were seen over one Netherlands site on Aug 6 (a total of 10 may have been present in that country) and five were at a Belgian site on Aug 11. There were also sightings of singles in England this week over the Kent Stour valley, at Sandwich Bay and at the Blashford Lakes in Hampshire

Black Kite: One remained in the Penzance area throughout the week

Osprey: On Aug 12 Barry Collins had his first sighting of one in the Thorney Island area of Chichester Harbour where one or more birds can be expected to take advantage of good fishing over the next couple of months before leaving for the south. There is a good chance that these birds will spend their nights in the trees of Stansted Forest. Other reports this week came from the Netherlands, Weir Wood reservoir in Sussex, Titchfield in Hampshire and the Wareham Channel in Poole Harbour, Dorset. Presumably the same bird caught a fish off the Pilsey area on the morning of Aug 13. Also on Aug 13 at least one Osprey spent some time in Langstone Harbour disturbing the waders during the period when they were being counted for the monthly WeBS count

Quail: Three reports indicate that at least two birds are still on the West Sussex downs in the Worthing area

Pheasant: One was still sitting on a clutch of 14 eggs in the South Gorley area not far north of the Blashford Lakes on Aug 12, reminding me of how I was fooled a few years ago into thinking that I had discovered a party of Quail on the Langstone South Moors when the birds seen (at a late summer date when Quail were heading south) turned out to be baby Pheasants that are able to fly short distances at an early age when their size and colouration suggest Quail though their 'baby bird' piping calls should have revealed their true identity.

Corncrake: At least one of these was heard 'singing' in a hay field near Newquay in Cornwall on Aug 7. Many years ago I had proof that these migrants do pass over the Havant area when I was given the corpse of one that had broken its neck on wires above a south Hayling field (that individual can still be seen in the Hampshire county collection of stuffed specimens!)

Ringed Plover: The three latest reports of flock sizes (35, 44, and 108) from Sussex, Hamsphire and Kent show how numbers are now building up

Golden Plover: The first reports of flocks in excess of 100 since April are of 154 at Dungeness and 178 at Seasalter on the north Kent coast, both this week

Temmincks Stint: Two birds were seen in East Kent this week but numbers in England have not changed significantly since June

Stilt Sandpiper: The bird whch arrived at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 23 seems to have left on Aug 7

Black-tailed Godwit: Flock sizes reported on the south coast this week have been 76 in Emsworth Harbour, 139 at Farlington Marshes, 100 at Titchfield Haven, 410 at Hook (Warsash) and 40 in Pagham Harbour (Ferry Pool).

Arctic Skua: Counts of 28, 35, 80 and 18 at Dungeness on successive days this week show that autumn passage of this species is now underway

Common Tern: A count of 7400 in Pegwell Bay (East Kent) on Aug 11 co-incided with an evening roost count of 650 in Langstone Harbour and a report of 250 at Titchfield Haven

Little Tern: These continue to pass west along the English Channel but the peak count on the English side this week was just 16 (at Church Norton in Pagham Harbour) compared to a count of 176 in Normandie (France)

Black Tern: Plenty of reports this week but the highest count reported was only 16+ at Pegwell Bay in Kent on Aug 11

Bee Eater: One in the Scillies on Aug 9 has probable been there unseen since the last sighting on July 27

Wryneck: None reported yet on the south coast but Aug 12 brought news of the first autumn passage birds - one on Englands east coast and one in the Netherlands

Yellow Wagtail: A count of 300 at Rye Harbour on Aug 12 and of 40 at Reculver on the north Kent coast are the only substantial counts this week - the max at Dungeness was 25 and none were reported in Hampshire this week

Grey, Pied and White Wagtail: All three species get a mention this week but only for single birds on passage

Song Thrush: These were singing each evening up to July 29 but only one has been heard since then (at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Aug 10)

Icterine and Melodious Warblers: Three Icterine Warblers were seen on the east coast on Aug 12 and a Melodious which was at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 12 may have been the same bird that was at Portland on Aug 10

Greenish Warbler: The first in Britain this year was on Fair Isle on Aug 12

Woodchat Shrike: A juvenile reported from the Scillies on three days this week was new there on Aug 6 but a separate bird in Gloucestershire seems to have been there since Aug 3

Raven: These were reported from nine sites this week including some in each of Dorset, Hampshire, East and West Sussex and Kent

Black-bellied Storm Petrel: A bird thought to be of this species was seen off Madeira on Aug 9 - hardly of interest to birders in Britain but for those seeking to have the longest possible list of bird species this would add one to the number of birds that can be recorded in the Western Palaearctic - I look forward to seeing its photo on the Three Amigos blog. This is not the first time that this Antarctic/South Atlantic species has crossed the equator - see http://uk400clubrarebirdalert.blogspot.com/2009/11/mega-of-megas-blackbellied-storm-petrel.html for a probable sighting in Britain (Severn Beach area) on 25 Nov 2009. There had been just one other possible sighting off the Norfolk coast on 10 Dec 2007 but with both these British sightings there were no photos to prove whether it was a Black-bellied or a White-bellied Storm Petrel (two separate species)


(Skip to Plants)


Significant sightings this week:

Southern Migrant Hawker: A male was seen in Essex on Aug 7

Willow Emerald Damsel: More than 12 were seen in the Chislet Marshes (Thanet area of Kent) on Aug 9 and several more were in the Sandwich Bay area on Aug 11

Species on the wing this week:

Brown Hawker, Southern Migrant Hawker, Emperor, Scarce Chaser, Ruddy Darter, Emerald Damsel, Willow Emerald Damsel


Significant reports:

Clouded Yellow: One seen on Windover Hill (north of Eastbourne) on Aug 9 was the first to be reported as a Helice variant this year

Small Blue: Second brood insects seen at Durlston and the East Sussex Downs up to Aug 11

Species on the wing this week:

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Silver Spotted Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brown Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet


Garden Tiger: Some traps on Portland have been attracting up to 80 of these colourful moths each time the trap is put out - see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/mp_garden_tigers_2_000811_500.jpg for a few of them

Marbled Green: See http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=323 for a good looking moth taken in Thanet (Kent) on Aug 7

For a good selection of other recent moths see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo and scroll down to the moth related entries for Aug 13, 9, and 7

Other Insects

Lesser Stag Beetle: The first to be reported this year was seen at Durlston on Aug 11. This seems to have been an extemely poor year for Stag Beetles - I have had just one sighting of a male here in Havant on May 21 and have only two other entries for the species in my database (a male at Woods Mill in Sussex on May 31and a second report from there on June 26 reporting 'bits of one' lying on the ground, possibly after the beetle had been killed and eaten by a Magpie)

Glow-worm: Three were still glowing at Durlston on Aug 6

Bush Crickets: Both Grey and Dark species seen at Durlston on Aug 11

Curculio species Weevils: On Aug 13 Gordon Jarvis found a couple of tiny Weevils mating in woods at Peasmarsh near Hastings and his excellent photo of them can be seen at http://rxwildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/curciliodae-curculio-betula.jpg - don't miss this one!

Wasp Spider: I saw my first for the year on her web in the long grass of the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Aug 8


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Rock Rose: The Havant Wildlife Group enjoyed the sight of this in flower when they visited Kingley Vale on Aug 6 and I also found it flowering on Portsdown on Aug 9 (for a photo see my Diary entry for that day)

Bastard Toadflax: This was also found at Kingley Vale on Aug 6

Shining Cranesbill: One plant was reflowering in Havant on Aug 8 long after the spring flowering ended on June 2

Sickle Medick: The roadside plants near The George pub on Portsdown were still managing to support a few flowers despite being extremely close mown when I saw them on Aug 9

Cockspur Thorn (Crategus crus-galli): Brian Fellows visited the 'Westbourne Open Space' area of Emsworth (a grassy area with a footpath across it to continue the northward line of Westbourne Avenue to the Westbourne Road on the north east fringe of Emsworth) and remarked on a tree which he had found there last year and discovered to be a relative of the Hawthorns but which cannot be confused with them on account of its larger, toothed oval, leaves, large white flowers and large fruit (up to 2cm across). It bears a variable number of thorns but these too are large and can be 10cm long.

Dog Rose: Some bushes regularly bear a second crop of flowers among their Hips long after their leaves have fallen - last year I thought this 'winter flowering' had started early when I found flowers on Oct 19 but this year that date has been superseded by a bush growing on the Langstone South Moors which I found bearing three flowers on Aug 13

Ivy: Not yet flowering but on Aug 13 I found several bushes bearing prominent flower buds for the first time

Pepper Saxifrage: On Aug 8 I discovered a new to me colony of these plants in the Warblington Farm field closest to Nore Barn woodland

Slender Hare's Ear (Bupleurum tenuissimum): I found this flowering for the first time this year on Aug 13 at a place where in the past I could rely on finding it each year but where the plants have vanished in recent years (I think because the footpath across the site has ceased to be used allowing coarse grass to grow and choke out these slender plants). The site in question is the low ground immediately inside the line of the seawall path along the South Moors shore at Langstone (in recent years every has used the path along the top of the wall). On Aug 13 I found that there is once again a well trodden path along the lower ground at the west end of the seawall and, as in the past, a dozen or more of the small and wiry Hare's Ear plants have come up at the edge of the trodden area of bare earth and now grow overhanging the path, enjoying any sunshine but not having their roots trampled by walkers.

Autumn Gentian (aka Felwort): These had started to flower at Durlston back on Aug 2 but I did not find them on Portsdown until Aug 9

Field Woundwort: This had been seen in flower near Hastings on July 13 but I have not heard of any in the Havant area until I found some in a Warblington Farm field on Aug 8

Carline Thistle: Flowers on this plant were just opening on Portsdown on Aug 8

Montbretia (Crocosmia): This bright coloured flower is now to be seen in many gardens but is also thriving on Portsdown as a long term garden escape

Branched Bur Reed: Brian Fellows found this flowering in the narrow channel at Westbourne carrying water from the River Ems at Westbourne down to Lumley Mill at Emsworth


(Skip to Endweek)

Cetacean sightings: A pod of 10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off County Durham on Aug 7 when 2 Harbour Porpoises were off Berry Head in Devon. Sadly Aug 12 brought news of a freshly dead Porpoise, not yet grown to full adult size, at Winchelsea Beach in Rye Bay (no apparent cause of death). Nack in the North Sea 3 Minke Whales and 1 Humpback were off County Durham on Aug 6 with both species seen there again on Aug 7

Common Seal: On Aug 6 the Reculver News from north Kent carried a photo of a young seal, looking very healthy, on the beach (see http://www.kentos.org.uk/Reculver/images/commonseal811marc.JPG )

Hedgehog: I'm pretty sure that the recent increase in Hedghog sightings has been caused by parent 'hogs' putting in overtime to find food for their young and this week Brian Fellows has heard of two sightings of young 'hogs' taking their first outings in the Emsworth area

Slow-worm: Butterfly hunters at the Park Corner Heath near Eastbourne saw both an Adder and one or more Slow-worms there this week and here in Havant I discovered a Slow-worm in a slightly unusual setting, hiding in a dense bed of Sage plants which allowed it to enjoy the warmth of the sun while hiding it from the eyes of the Jackdaws which would happily eat it - maybe the strong aroma of Sage gave it extra protection against predators which might detect it by scent.

Sunfish: One came so close to the Devon shore near Berry Head that it could be heard as the waves slapped against its dorsal fin protruding above the water. The name of the observer also caught my eye - Ivan Lakin must surely be the same person who I knew before he left his family home in the East Cosham area of Portsmouth

Shark species: On Aug 10 the Scillies Birding website carried the following note (probably referring to a Blue Shark though the species is not named) ... "Of interest, after over 10 years of shark tagging, in which time more than 500 sharks have been caught, on this trip the first shark that was already tagged was caught. The tag was from Rhode Island, U.S!"

Fungus Foray: I see from the local Hollybank Woods website ( http://www.hollybank-woods.hampshire.org.uk/ ) that a member of the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group will be leading a foray into the woods on Saturday Aug 27. I believe anyone can join in and if you are interested the foray lasts from 10am to Noon and you should meet at the junction of Hollybank Lane and Long Copse Lane (where Hollybank Lane becomes an unmade track leading into the woods)


(Back to Start of Current Week)

Wildlife diary and news for Aug 1 - 7 (Week 31 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird News:

New bird for Britain endangered by mice - A sighting of a probable Atlantic Petrel off Lands End on Aug 6 will, if accepted, add a new species to the British list. For information about this species see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Petrel which tells me that this south Atlantic species has 5 million members but that they are endangered by introduced House Mice (which attack the chicks on the two small islands that are the only places where the birds breed). Mice are not normally carnivores but maybe they have no other food or maybe, like the innocent sheep which kill tern chicks on Scottish islands by eating just the feet off the chicks to provide them with minerals they cannot get from other sources.

Unexpected sightings included a Redwing at Beachy Head, a Fieldfare in the Netherlands and a Golden Pheasant in a Herne Bay garden. More expected was a Ring-billed Gull at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 3

Maybe soon to reach England huge numbers of Two-barred Crossbills are currently moving south through Scandinavia

A snapshot of current seabird passage through the English Channel is given by the Dungeness news for Aug 4 and regular but uncommon autumn waders such as Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Ruff are starting to appear on the south coast

Insect News:

Several previously rare migrant dragonflies seem to be trying to settle in Britain

Among the butterfly news are the first reports of a second brood of Duke of Burgundy and of Small Blue

Birders in the Thanet area of Kent witnessed a mass arrival of Ladybirds from the continent on Aug 2

My guesses at the cause of death of two Roesel's Bush Crickets found in Havant and Fareham, each with one back leg missing, have turned to 'anting gulls'

Plant News:

A visit to the Fishbourne Channel area on Aug 1 gave me not only the expected Dittander and Corn Parsley but my first sight ever of flowering Buckwheat among colourful Phacelia and huge Cotton Thistles

Other News:

A report from Nutbourne Bay of a mother Weasel moving her young to safety (from rising water levels?) led me to a fascinating illustrated account of a similar action by a Weasel in Utah

Finally - welcome back to the Planet Thanet website as a source of bird and moth news from north east Kent. This informal but very informative website is dependent on the work of a single birder known only as 'Gadget' (presumably in part for his computer skills). Last year the work load of maintaining the site caused Gadget to threaten to cease maintaining it at the end of 2010 but thankfully he carried on up to the end of May and now, after a break of a couple of months, he has restarted the good work from July 31. If you are interested in news of birds, moths, and some other wildlife, go to http://www.planetthanet.org/index.htm


(Skip to Insects)

Black-necked Grebe: The non-breeding bird which turned up at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on July 24 is now a regular sight there. On Aug 1 a bird in breeding plumage arrived at Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex but has probably flown on south.

Atlantic Petrel (Pterodroma incerta): see entry in Overview section above

Great Shearwater: The first to be seen in the Scillies this year was there on Aug 1 and maybe the same bird was off Penzance on Aug 4

Night Heron: The 23rd report I have logged of this species in England this year is of one in Somerset on Aug 4

Cattle Egret: On Aug 3 Lee Evans told us that a pair have bred (not for the first time) in England this year - the nest was near Southend in Essex and at least one juvenile was seen there at the start of August. A different bird made a short appearance at The Kench on Hayling Island on Aug 2 but has not been seen again

Little Egret: After a roost count of 88 at Rye Harbour on July 29 a count of 40+ came from Elmley Marshes, Sheppey, on Aug 3 and 71 birds left the Rye Harbour roost on the morning of Aug 5

Great White Egret: The bird which has been at Dungeness since the start of June was still there on Aug 3. The bird which has spent long periods at the Blashford Lakes over recent years had not been seen there since Feb 11 until this week when one turned up on Aug 6. Last year the bird left on Feb 18 and returned on Aug 16, while in 2009 it left on Jan 14 and returned on Aug 24

Spoonbill: The Rare Bird Alert team were reporting a total of 29 birds in England spread across 9 counties at the end of June but I think the number has diminished since then and this week's news speaks of one in Dorset (seen at Brownsea Island and Christchurch Harbour), up to 3 on Sheppey in Kent, one at Brading Marshes (IoW), and one flying north over the Pulborough area.

Mute Swan: On Aug 1 the herd in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester numbered 140 and there were 38 in the Hermitage Stream where it flows into Langstone Harbour

Garganey: These have been reported at four sites this week with up to six in the Kent Stour valley, a couple at Pulborough Brooks, one at Rye Harbour and another at Elmley Marshes

Shoveler: At least one was back at the Budds Farm on Aug 4 with two at Pulborough on Aug 5 and 6 at each of the Stour Valley in Kent and the Blashford Marshes in Hampshire

Tufted Duck: These always produce their young late in the season and so I was not surprised to find 3 families of tiny (but deep diving) ducklings at Budds Farm in Havant on Aug 4, nor to hear of five similar broods at the Blashford Lakes on Aug 6

Goosander: Seven females were at the Blashford Lakes on Aug 3 - almost certainly birds that have stayed in the Avon valley this summer

Honey Buzzard: Some may now be on their way south - on Aug 1 seven were seen in Belgium, four in Germany and two in the Netherlands and an entry in Graeme Lyons blog for that day describes a recent sighting he had of one somewhere in Sussex.

Black Kite: Two seem to have settled in southern England recently - one has been in west Cornwall since June 26 and the other in mid Devon since July 28 - both were still present this week

Osprey: These should become a regular sight over the Solent harbours in the next few weeks. On July 30 one caught a fish in Pagham Harbour and one was over the Langstone South Moors on July 31. On Aug 3 one flew south to sea without stopping at Dungeness and on Aug 5 one seen in the Cuckmere Valley (East Sussex) flew inland to find a perch for the night while another was at Bembridge Harbour (IoW) and another was in the Morden area west of Poole Harbour.

Golden Pheasant: One was a very unexpected sight in a garden on the outskirts of Herne Bay in Kent on Aug 2

Spotted Crake: One was in the Kent Stour valley on Aug 3 (when Lee Evans reported another in Lincolnshire)

Golden Plover: Four birds were seen in the east side of Hayling Island on Aug 2 and other flocks seen this week have been 94 on the north Kent coast (Aug 1) and 178 in the same area on Aug 5 plus 26 at Sandwich Bay on Aug 2

Little Stint: One was at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) from July 30 to Aug 1, another was at the Weir Wood reservoir on Aug 1 and 2 were in Pegwell Bay (Kent) on Aug 4. A rare relation (a Red-necked Stint) was in Ireland on Aug 3

Curlew Sandpiper: One was in Christchurch Harbour on July 31, another at Elmley Marshes (Sheppey) on Aug 1 and on Aug 2 two were at Pegwell Bay in Kent (with 3 there next day).

Stilt Sandpiper: The bird which arrived at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 23 was still there on Aug 5

Ruff: Singles seen at five sites this week including Winchester sewage farm and both Pagham and Langstone Harbours

Black-tailed Godwit: 188 were counted at Hook (Warsash) on Aug 4, 147 were at Farlington Marshes on Aug 2 and 101 were feeding on mud near the Lymington Ferry terminal

Spotted Redshank: These are now appearing along the south coast - on July 31 eight different birds were seen in Dorset

Greenshank: On Aug 2 there were 34 at the Oare Marshes in Kent and on Aug 6 there were 34 at Farlington Marshes

Green Sandpiper: The Lower Test Marshes had 16 on July 30, Brading Marshes (IoW) had 14+ on Aug 5 and Pulborough Brooks had 12+ on Aug 3 but the highest count was from the Kent Stour Valley with 25 on July 31

Wood Sandpiper: Sandwich Bay had four on Aug 4, Pegwell Bay had 3 and Elmley Marshes had 3 leaving singles at six other sites including Pagham Harbour, Winchester sewage farm, Christchurch Harbour and Thurlestone Bay in Devon

Skuas: Autumn passage is now getting into full swing - 35 Arctic Skuas were included in the Dungeness report for Aug 4 which said .. "The highlights were two Balearic Shearwaters, four Manx Shearwaters, 1050 Gannets, 35 Arctic Skuas, four Great Skuas, two Little Gulls, 110 Kittiwakes, 700 Sandwich Terns, 900 Common Terns, six Arctic Terns, two Little Terns and 51 Black Terns." A single Long-tailed Skua was off Portland on July 31

Ring-billed Gull: The first to be reported this autumn was at Christchurch Harbour on Aug 3 (seen again there on Aug 6)

Terns: One Roseate has been at Titchfield Haven all this week while Common Tern passage has been a stream with 1650 dropping off for a nights rest in Langstone Harbour on Aug 1. The only count of Arctic Terns was six at Dungeness on Aug 4 and there was a similar count of 22 Little Terns that came in to Pagham Harbour on Aug 2 before carrying on west. Black Terns were seen at nine sites inluding the Langstone Harbour night roost (2 birds seen on Aug 1) but by far the highest count was of 120 birds at the Oare Marshes in north Kent on Aug 4 (maybe this suggests that these birds continue west up the Thames estuary and cross southern England by an inland route)

Departing migrants: The following table will show, for each species, the highest count reported anywhere along the south coast during the week ending with the date shown at the head of the column in the table. To avoid undue complexity any other comments (including reports of numbers on the continent) will be listed in the main text

Bird Name31/0707/0814/0821/0828/0804/09
Turtle Dove14
Sand Martin500300
Swallow 100 15000+
House Martin50 80
Tree Pipit 4 14
Meadow Pipit 60
Yellow Wagtail 20 150
Nightingale 1 4
Common Redstart 2 4
Whinchat 5 6
Wheatear 10 50
Grasshopper Warbler 3 9
Sedge Warbler 180 76
Reed Warbler 5
Lesser Whitethroat 6 12
Common Whitethroat 220 130
Garden Warbler 10 12
Blackcap 23 16
Wood Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff 275 -
Willow Warbler 1 250
Spotted Flycatcher - 10
Pied Flycatcher 2 2

Cuckoo: One adult was seen this week on Aug 5 at Cissbury Ring on the Sussex Downs. Juveniles were in Dorset (one being fed by a Wren on Aug 2), at Dungeness and at Pulborough Brooks

Woodlark: An indication that these are moving to winter sites came from the Chandlers Ford area north of Southampton on Aug 5 when one flew west over a suburban garden

Sand Martin: A gathering of around 1000 birds was at Christchurch Harbour on the evening of July 28 but the birds were not seen the following morning so presumed to have flown south overnight.

Swallow: Thurlestone Bay on the south west coast of Devon reported a night roost of 15000+ on Aug 2

Yellow Wagtail: 19 reports from southern sites indicate a stepping up of movement from the north. Rye Harbour had the highest counts for both last week (20 on July 30) and this week (150 on Aug 6)

Stonechat: Two reports on Aug 3 show that these are starting to move to coastal sites for the winter. One was seen on Milton Common in Southsea (Portsmouth) and the other on the Downs above Worthing

Winter Thrushes: A Redwing was seen at Beachy Head on Aug 6 and a Fieldfare was reported at a Netherlands site on Aug 2

Song Thrush: Still singing at dusk in Langstone on July 29

Aquatic Warbler: First mention of this species for the year comes from Netherlands where one was reported on Aug 3

Reed Warbler: Max count in England was 15 on Milton Common (Portsmouth) on Aug 3 but that same day brought a count of 236 at a Belgian site

Melodious Warbler: One at Beachy Head on Aug 6

Dartford Warbler: Continuing dispersion on Aug 5 brought Durlston its first Dartford Warbler since the spring

Spotted Flycatcher: Families are now starting to move south and have been seen at Itchen Abbas near Winchester and in the Meon valley this week

Golden Oriole: 5 were seen at a Netherlands site on July 31 and 2 were again in the Netherlands on Aug 3

Red-backed Shrike: A male was in Suffolk on Aug 3

Woodchat Shrike: One reported in Gloucestershire on Aug 3 - the first autumn bird for Britain

Raven: More than 70 were reported in an area of central Devon (near Kennerleigh) on July 30 and the farmer on whose land the current Black Kite is currently based says that up to 400 gather there in the winter. Locally a pair of Ravens was over the Creech Woods at Denmead on Aug 5

Tree Sparrow: The first to be reported in southern England since April was at Winchelsea Beach (Rye Bay) on Aug 4

Goldfinch: The first substantial autumn flock of 200 birds was seen at Bishopstoke in the Itchen Valley near Eastleigh on Aug 6

Two-barred Crossbill: After recent reports of single birds in Yorkshire and Shetland Lee Evans tells us that 'vast numbers' are now moving south through Scandinavia


(Skip to Plants)


Notable observations this week were of ...

Southern Migrant Hawker: This rare migrant from the Mediterranean is fast becoming a resident in Essex and north Kent and was seen in both these counties again this week

Lesser Emperor: Eight reports this week show that this migrant is also becoming a much more frequent sight in England. Reports came from Cornwall, Hampshire and Kent with a pair egglaying at Dungeness

Red-veined Darter: Reports of this rare migrant came from Southampton Common this week with others seen in Cornwall

Willow Emerald: On July 30 one of these rarities was seen in the Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood

Species on the wing were Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Southern Migrant Hawker, Emperor, Lesser Emperor, Gold Ringed Dragonfly, Black-tailed Skimmer, Ruddy Darter, Red-veined Darter, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Emerald Damsel, Willow Emerald, Small Red-eyed Damsel, Blue-tailed Damsel, Common Blue Damsel, Azure Damsel, Variable Damsel.


Notable reports were of ...

Silver Spotted Skipper: a good count of 75 on Broughton Down near Stockbridge in west Hampshire on Aug 1

Clouded Yellow: three reports of singles at Seaford on July 30, Noar Hill near Petersfield on Aug 1 and Martin Down on Aug 2

Small Blue: Reports from Durlston on July 26 and Aug 1 show that it is the only site so far to report the appearance of a second brood this year

Silver Studded Blue: The first appeared early on May 17 and they ceased to be reported after July 13 but a single late individual was seen in the New Forest on Aug 2

Duke of Burgundy: A fresh second brood specimen seen at Noar Hill on Aug 3 - last of the first brood was seen on May 21

Purple Emperor: Late news of one in the Goodwood Trundle area north of Chichester on July 27 marks the end of the Emperor for this year

Painted Lady: The only report for the week is of a pristine specimen seen by myself near Apuldram Church (Chichester) on Aug 1

38 species on the wing this week: Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Silver Spotted Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brown Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Small Blue, Silver-studded Blue, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Duke of Burgundy, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet


39 species reported this week include the Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata), Oak Eggar, The Drinker, Rosy Wave, Balsam Carpet, Chalk Carpet, The Many-lined (extinct in Britain but a rare migrant seen this week at Elmley Marshes on Sheppey). Beautiful Carpet (one of several species seen by the Fareham moth group on an outing to West Meon - see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/21731/Satin+Lutestring%2C+Scallop+Shell+and+August+Thorn+at+West+Meon.html ), Latticed Heath, Lunar Thorn, Bordered Grey, Annulet, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Dingy Footman, Pigmy Footman, Scarce Footman, White-line Dart, Garden Dart, White-point, Southern Wainscot, Tree-lichen Beauty, Copper Underwing (seen both in Fareham and in Kent), Double Kidney, The Olive, Saltern Ear (on Thorney Island and in Fareham), Rosy Rustic, The Crescent, Webb's Wainscot, Fen Wainscot, The Uncertain and Waved Black.

Other Insects

Glow-worm: Still three females glowing at Durlston on the evening of Aug 6

Lady-birds: Hundreds coming in off the sea in the Thanet area of Kent on Aug 2 - no species named but possibly a lot of them were Harlequins?

Roesel's Bush Cricket: Yet another seen in strange circumstances - on July 30 one was found alive in a Fareham garden with its right back leg missing. As this was a long winged type my guess is that it was on a long distance flight and that a bird (perhaps a Gull after flying ants) made a grab at it, pulled off the leg leaving the cricket to seek refuge in a garden below it. This theory could explain the find of a dead specimen in the Havant Retail Park carpark on July 26 which also was missing a back-leg.


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Dittander: I found this flowering as expected by the Fishbourne channel near Chichester on Aug 1 - see my Diary entry for that day for more detail

Spreading Hedge Parsley: I could only find one flowering plant in the set aside field edge by Fishbourne Channel on the northern edge of Salterns Copse when there on Aug 1 but I am told that it is flowering again in a Langstone garden where it mysteriously appeared at this time last year.

Corn Parsley: Also my first sight of this in flower by the Fishbourne Channel on Aug 1

Amphibious Bistort: Another first flower for the year in the Fishbourne meadows on Aug 1

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): My first ever find of this plant at Apuldram Manor Farm during my Aug 1 outing - see my diary entry for more detail and photos

Yellow Loosestrife: Freshly flowering in the Havant Thicket/Staunton Country Park area on Aug 5 - see diary for detail

Autumn Gentian: First autumn flowers reported at Durlston on Aug 2

Lesser Skullcap: First find of this in flower at Havant Thicket on Aug 5

Phacelia: Also flowering at Apuldram Manor Farm on Aug 1 - see diary for photos. Said to be planted by farmers to attract bees for the pollination of other crops

White Comfrey: Normally this only flowers in early spring but both last year and this I have found it re-flowering at this time of year - this week by the Brockhampton Stream in Havant on Aug 4

Devils Bit Scabious: First flowers seen in Havant Thicket on Aug 5

Cotton Thistle: An impressive array of perhaps a dozen huge plants flowering at Apuldram Manor Farm on Aug 1

Hieracium sabaudum: First sight of this Hawkweed 'species' seen flowering in Havant Thicket on Aug 5

Butcher's Broom: My earliest ever find of fresh flowers on this plant came in Havant Thicket on Aug 5

Violet Helleborine: Plants reported to be in flower beside the road to Stansted House on Aug 2 - no sign of the expected plants at another regular site in Stansted Forest when I visited on Aug 3

Autumn Ladies Tresses: First report of this orchid in flower came from Portsdown (and a Waterlooville garden) on Aug 3 followed by Durlston on Aug 5


Weasel: While sitting on a bench overlooking Nutbourne Bay on Aug 2 a contributor to John Goodspeed's website watched a Weasel carry three of its 'kittens' from the wet meadow area around the Hambrook stream, over the seawall path, and into the rocks piled on the seaward side. Maybe this was in reponse to flooding of their birthplace after rain but I can find no other references indicating that 'moving house' is regular Weasel behaviour (though I had previously herd that it does occur). A good source of information about Weasels is http://www.ypte.org.uk/animal/weasel/193 and a superb account with photos of a Weasel moving your kittens can be found at http://www.birdchick.com/wp/2010/05/unexpected-weasel-encounters-in-utah/

Slow-worm: Just before writing this on Aug 7 I was cutting back the exuberant growth of Sage plants in my garden when I noticed the tail of a Slow-worm disappearing into the Sage under which it had presumably been enjoying the warm sunshine until I arrived. This is my second sighting of a Slow-worm in the garden this summer (the first was another view of a disappearing tail in long thick grass which I was cutting back with a motor mower at the edge of the grass on July 5). In previous years I have seen a Magpie pulling a Slow-worm out of the long grass to feed its newly fledged young and I have found the corpse of a Slow-worm with several pin-prick wounds inflicted by the claws of a cat which had caught and played with it with no intention of eating it. As cats still hunt in the garden I guess the choice of a hide-out in a bed of very aromatic Sage is a good way of 'putting the cats off the scent'.

Pointed Snail (Cochlicella acuta): Hot weather on July 14 enabled me to find these snails on the Thorney Island seawall west of the Great Deeps and this week similar heat enabled me to discover another colony by the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester. The snails there had climbed the stems of Dittander plants growing around the bridge over the River Lavant where it flows into the Fishbourne Channel (at SU 83935-03756 )

Sunfish: Four of these were seen at Porthgwarra (just south of Lands End) on Aug 1

Fungi: After rain this week and warm weather forecast for next week it should be worth looking out for a variety of fungi but there have been no reported finds this week other than my own find of a fresh Russula aeruginea in Havant Thicket

Wildlife diary and news for July 25 - 31 (Week 30 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Bird News)

Bird News: On land our summer migrant birds started to leave us in substantial numbers with Wheatears and Whinchats appearing at south coast sites where they have not bred and smaller common birds such as Willow Warblers being counted in hundreds at coastal ringing stations.

On the coast Grey and Golden Plovers re-appeared in their smart breeding plumage with Black-tailed Godwits returning early from Iceland where they have had a very poor breeding season

Vagrant birds have included a Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor and the more regularly seen Little Stint, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper. A couple of birds seen in Cornwall may have been a species that I had never previously come across called Plain Swift. Uncommon passerines this week were Melodious Warbler, Icterine Warbler and Two-barred Crossbill

Insect News: Dragonfly news has more Lesser Emperor sightings and info about Willow Emerald Damsels

Butterfly news reports the first Brown Hairstreaks and Moth news has the first adult Brown-tail moths on the wing

Other Insect news includes the first report of adult Wasp Spiders for the year and describes a Mason Wasp, a long-legged Beetle and a Water Ladybird that were all new to me. It also recalled something I learnt in 2007 about a sudden spread of Roesel's Bush Cricket through southern England thought to have been brought about by an increase in the numbers of a long-winged 'form' of the species allowing it to fly long distances which the previously pre-dominant short-winged form could not manage

Plant News: The start of flowering by Broad-leaved Helleborines is a sign of autumn but less expected were discoveries in the Prinsted-Nutbourne area of Early Goldenrod when looking for uncommon plants that have been seen there before (Narrow-leaved Ragwort and Water Chickweed, both of which were found)

Other Wildlife: 1000 Common Dolphins must have been a spectacular sight for seawatchers in the Penzance area on the south coast of Cornwall but more unusual was a giant jellyfish, normally found in the Mediterranean, in the sea off Bexhill. On land Durlston had a colourful and unusually shaped stinkhorn type fungus called a Red Cage (which has in the past been found in a Cosham garden on the outskirts of Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight


(Skip to Insects)

Great Northern Diver: One in summer plumage was already back in the Exe estuary (Devon) on July 21 and a Black-throated Diver off Yorkshire on July 24 may have been on its way south

Red-necked Grebe: One off Yorkshire on July 29 may also be heading south

Black-necked Grebe: One that turned up at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood on July 24 and was still there on July 29 was not in breeding plumage. A Slavonian Grebe in the Exe estuary (Devon) on July 21 seems to have been there since May 6 if not longer

Sooty Shearwater: Eight reports this week came from two sources - the north east coast where 31 were off Flamborough Head (Yorkshire) on July 25 with others off Durham and Fife, and the Cornish coast where 13 were seen near Lands End on July 26

Storm Petrel: I think of these as a north Atlantic species which can occasionally be seen from our west coasts but they also appear in the North Sea and (on July 24) 183 were seen in Fife, 62 in Lothian, 132 in Northumberland, 75 in County Durham, five in Yorkshire and just one off Norfolk while the only report from Cornwall was of 20 off Penzance. Peak counts during the week came from Whitburn (near the mouth of the Tyne near Newcastle) where 139 were seen on July 25 and 358 on July 26

Bittern: Visitors to the RSPB reserve at Dungeness were told to keep their eyes open for Bitterns flying over open water carrying food for young in two occupied nests. On July 27 a Little Bittern was reported in Belgium.

Cattle Egret: The bird which appeared in the Pagham north fields on July 16 was still there on July 26 and a different bird was at Budleigh Salterton on the Devon coast from July 20 to 24 at least while what may have been a third bird was at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 25 with a possible fourth at Middlebere in Poole Harbour.

Little Egret: Until this week the last time that Rye Harbour reported the number of Egrets roosting there was Mar 26 when only 30 were present - now, on July 29, the count was 88 with higher counts to be expected (102 in mid-August last year). By chance I made a partial count at Langstone on July 29 but only recorded 42 in 40 minutes around sunset (almost certainly an undercount as I could not see the full number in the trees when I arrived and did not wait until it was fully dark). The highest counts are to be expected in the mid-August to mid-September period after the arrival of birds which have bred elsewhere (including on the Continent) and before the birds start to move inland to avoid winter weather on the exposed coast.

Grey Heron: Although Herons based in our latitudes do not migrate south after breeding (as they do nearer the Arctic circle) there is a certain amount of dispersion as seen with the appearance of 2 birds at Portland on July 27 when a Netherlands site recorded 67.

Spoonbill: A dispersing juvenile arrived at the Brading Marshes (Isle of Wight) on July 29 when a different bird appeared at Brownsea Island in Poole harbour

Gadwall: A female with 6 ducklings was seen on the Drayton pit east of Chichester on July 26

Pochard: Also on the Drayton pit at Chichester was a female with two ducklings but we can expect more of these soon as on July 27 there were 172 at a Netherlands site

Eider: The winter peak of these in the west Solent off Lymington was 39 on Mar 23 and by July 27 the number of returning birds had risen to 43

Black Kite: On July 28 one was over the village of Kennerleigh in Devon (north west of Exeter) and maybe the same bird was seen over St Just (close to Lnds End in Cornwall) on July 29

Marsh Harrier: One over Farlington Marshes on July 26 was (as far as I know) the first seen there since the beginning of Marsh

Osprey: The first returning bird was reported at Newtown on the Isle of Wight on July 28 (others have been seen since July 1 at Christchurch Harbour, Pagham Harbour, River Test at Romsey and the Kingsbridge estuary in south Devon)

Kestrel: A group of seven were all hovering over a small area of the Sussex Downs near Cissbury Ring on July 27 but I do not think they were attracted by a sudden glut of prey - more likely the majority were juveniles from one or two local nests getting instruction and practice in the art of feeding themselves from one or two adults. In the past I have seen a similar group spread out in a line above Sinah Common on south Hayling, each bird less than 100 metres from the next so that each can see what the others are doing and the juveniles can imitate the adults.

Merlin: What seems to be the first to return to our south coast area was seen over the Oare Marshes near Faversham in north Kent on July 25

Little Crake: One was reported at the Lower Test marshes near Southampton on July 22 (only one report with no subsequent confirmation though Spotted Crakes have already been seen in the Netherlands on July 12 and in Belgium on July 28)

Golden Plover: No local sightings of returning birds yet but two were at Christchurch Harbour on July 29 though there have been flocks of up to 42 in Kent recently

Grey Plover: Summer plumaged birds were seen on July 29 at Christchurch Harbour (one bird) and Newtown Harbour, IoW, (three birds)

Lapwing: By July 29 Rye Harbour was reporting a night roost of 2000 birds

Little Stint: One was seen at Dungeness on July 21 and another single was in the Black Point high tide wader roost in Chichester Harbour mouth on July 28. Other uncommon waders seen this week include a White-rumped Sandpiper on the Ythan estuary in Aberdeenshire on July 29, a Pectoral Sandpiper at Dungeness from July 22 to 24, and a Curlew Sandpiper at Dungeness on July 19

Stilt Sandpiper: One at Lodmoor (Weymouth) from July 24 to 31 seems to be only the 26th bird to have been seen in Britain (excluding Ireland) since 1950 and the first since July 2009 when there was one in Aberdeenshire. Hampshire had one in 2002 (found by Russell Wynn at Lymington) and West Sussex had one in 1972. This species is normally confined to the Americas

Ruff: Birds seen this week at Oare Marshes in north Kent, at Christchurch Harbour and Pagham Harbour

Green Sandpiper: The Lower Test Marshes near Southampton retain their reputation for having a good show of these passage birds with a count of 19 there on July 27. Sandwich Bay came next with 16 and Rye Harbour had 12. Also on July 27 a Netherlands site reported 29 birds

Wood Sandpiper: Only two reports from southern England this week with one bird at Christchurch Harbour on July 29 and two at Oare Marshes in Kent on July 27

Common Sandpiper: A Netherlands site reported a count of 134 on July 27

Yellow-legged Gull: Numbers of this species start to build up to an autumn peak around now with the Lower Test Marshes reporting 29 on July 27 and Poole Harbour having 48 in the Holes Bay area on July 29

Terns: The regular species are now moving down channel as they leave us but are stopping off for the night at roost sites just inside the Solent harbours and other place such as Rye Harbour. Some birds seem to be taking longer breaks in their journey at Titchfield Haven where up to three Roseate Terns have been present throughout this week, as have one or two Black Terns (on July 27 one of these came into Chichester Harbour and was seen at Black Point). Arctic Terns have not been seen along the south coast but large numbers (up to 700 by July 29) have been off the Newcastle area with others off the Yorkshire coast

Plain Swift: Among the hundreds of Common Swifts there was a report of two 'possible' Plain Swifts in Cornwall on July 29 and I see there is a species of this name based in the Canary Islands which normally travels no further than west Africa

Kingfisher: More of these are now reaching the coast and on July 25 one was seen flying along the seawall by Langstone Pond - a good place to settle for the winter as it offers fishing opportunities in the sea as well as the pond. The only drawback is that (other than at the top of the highest tides) sea fishing has to be done by hovering over the water rather than diving from a perch.

House Martin: The birds which nested in east Havant and which could be seen over my garden from early May to the beginning of July seem to have left the area after attempting to raise a single brood but others have been seen at two places in Sussex collecting mud to build or repair nests for a second brood (and in many years they will have a third brood keeping them here until October). Another indication of this conclusion to their first attempts at raising young comes from Steve Copsey, now back at home in the Fareham area after his round the world tour on HMS York. On July 28 Steve found a juvenile House Martin on his lawn, unable to get airborne until Steve threw it high in the air (a less violent first attempt, placing the bird on the roof of a summer house, only resulted in the bird flying back to cling onto Steve's shirt). Steve also recites the common story that House Martins used to nest on his house until House Sparrows decided to take over the old nests before the Martins returned in the spring - this is not the only factor deterring the Martins from nesting, among others are an increasing shortage of sources of mud for building nests and a growing shortage of airborne insect food (plus the proud housewives who knock down any nests that are built to avoid droppings falling around their house and the builders who use materials to which it is difficult to attach mud-built nests)

Yellow Wagtail: Sandy Point on Hayling had its first three passage birds arrive from the north on July 27 while the Hook area at Warsash reported its first autumn bird on July 26 and the Lymington area reported the first 'juvenile from the north' reaching them on July 21. Interestingly July 28 brought the first report of a Grey Wagtail seen flying west over north Kent and assumed to have come from the continent to spend the winter here. Pied Wagtails too are now on the move and the first report of a night roost developing in the Pevensey Levels came on July 25 with some 30 birds settling in the Wartling area near Eastbourne

Dunnock: A couple of short bursts of song heard on July 26 in response to the territorial autumn song of a Robin reminded me how quiet the air is when Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves are not singing and most of the House Sparrows have left our gardens to enjoy the harvest of the fields and hedges. The only other birds I have heard singing this week have been Song Thrush (at dusk), Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting - even the Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Linnets seem to have ceased though Wrens can still be heard on most days.

Nightingale: Singles were reported at Dungeness and Seaford this week reminding me that one way to illustrate the southward flow of our passerine summer vistors is to list the species and show for each the peak count reported somewhere on the south coast ...

Sand Martin 500

Swallow 100

Tree Pipit 4

Yellow Wagtail 7

Nightingale 1 (but 40 at a Netherlands site on July 28)

Common Redstart 2

Whinchat 5

Wheatear 10

Grasshopper Warbler 3

Sedge Warbler 180

Reed Warbler 5

Lesser Whitethroat 6

Common Whitethroat 220

Garden Warbler 10

Blackcap 3

Wood Warbler 1

Chiffchaff 0 (?)

Willow Warbler 275

Spotted Flycatcher 1

Pied Flycatcher 2

Blackbird: On July 25 the following anecdote appeared among the Hoslist messages .. "I have a high number of ants in my very scruffy lawn and most years see Blackbirds 'anting'. A couple of weeks ago a Green woodpecker was probing about for ants and was joined by a female Blackbird who was making the most of the ants that had been disturbed by the woodpecker. The two tolerated each other for a while, but eventually the Blackbird become a little over confident and was positioned almost directly under the woodpecker's beak when a sudden jab made the Blackbird leap away sideways! Undaunted, it immediately returned, but this time did not get quite as close. The two then spent a happy couple of minutes together before the woodpecker flew off."

Icterine Warbler: One at Sandwich Bay om July 27

Melodious Warbler: One was trapped at Portland on July 28

Starling: Autumn flocks of continental (?) birds are starting to build up with a report of more than 3000 on Milton Common (beside Langstone Harbour in the Southsea area)

House Sparrow: A flock of around 50 birds was in the hedges around a wheat field at Prinsted (east of Emsworth) on July 25 and from then on the birds which nested in my road and came to my garden in their search for food have vanished and have presumably moved to similar fields and hedges (though I do not have to walk far in Havant to find some still in gardens)

Two-barred Crossbill: In addition to the many Crossbills still moving into southern England from the continent there have been reports this week of a single Two-barred Crossbill in Yorkshire and another in Shetland. This week's reports of Common Crossbill include a sighting of six in the Botley Woods north of Fareham


(Skip to Plants)


Notable observations were of:

Lesser Emperor: Reports came from Dungeness where one was seen on on July 24 and three were present on July 28; from the Avon Valley near Ringwood where what may have been the same insect was reported from the Moors Valley Country Park and from the Blashford Lakes, both on July 25; and from Tundry Pond to the west of Fleet in north Hampshire where a male was seen briefly on July 24

Willow Emerald Damsel (Lestes viridis): Although the species had been known in Britain in the past it was not until 2009 that it was found in numbers in Suffolk with a few in Norfolk and Essex, Last year it spread southwards though Essex to north Kent. Unlike the majority of dragonflies which lay their eggs under water this species lays in the bark of Willow or Alder trees overhanging the water from which the larva drop into the water after hatching. The adult insects can be overlooked as they spend much of their time hanging on the twigs of these trees

Species reported this week were .. Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Ruddy Darter, Red-veined Darter, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Emerald Damsel, Willow Emerald Damsel, Red-eyed Damsel


Notable reports were of ...

Dingy Skipper: A sighting of 12 on Mill Hill at Shoreham on July 28 provoked the comment that there had been an 'unusually strong second brood this year'

Clouded Yellow: Just one report of a single seen at Prawle in south Devon on July 23

Brown Hairstreak: First of the year was seen near Haywards Heath on July 23 followed by two at Shipton Bellinger near Andover on July 24 followed by four more sightings at Sussex sites.

Small Blue: Their main emergence period normally ends before July so a single report of one at Durlston on July 26 was very late

Adonis Blue: The emergence of a second brood at Shoreham Mill Hill on July 22 was reported last week and despite late news of a further emergence at a site nearer Eastbourne on July 23 there have been no further reports this week

Purple Emperor: Three were still to be seen in the Alice Holt Forest near Farnham on July 23 but they may be the last for the year and what has been a poor season for the breeding on account of windy and wet weather

Marbled White: These normally fly well into August so I was puzzled by seeing none on Portsdown when I was there on July 28. Two suggestions for their absence occur to me - one is that I read that they do not like a lot of heat and try to avoid it by getting into shaded places and sitting tight with their wings closed until the air cools down (it was very hot when I was on the hill). The other possibility is that the apparent continuity of the species is the result of regular re-emergences of new insects to replace ones that have died off - on the day that I was there I did see just one very fresh specimen away from the open downland so maybe the majority had died off and their replacements had not yet emerged.

Species seen during the week were ...

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Silver-spotted Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brown Hairstreak, Purple Hairsteak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortouseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet


Raspberry Clearwing: One lured with a pheremone in the Brighton area on July 29 was the first Clearwing species I hve heard of this year although I think all the common species fly in June or July

Brown-tail Moth: The first report of the moth was on July 15 with the second not coming until July 30 (from Durlston). I believe that this moth has been known for several hundred years to have a fairly regular cycle of something like 17 years during which the numbers of moths (and caterpillars) waxes and wanes. Maybe we are now at a low ebb in this cycle?

Jersey Tiger: What seems to be the first report of this species for the year comes from Devon on July 21

Other Insects

Mason Wasp (Odynerus spinipes): Derek Hale found and photographed what he believes to be this species at Newtown Harbour (Isle of Wight) on July 24 and you can see his photo by going to his website at http://iowbirds.awardspace.com/IOW.htm then scrolling down to the entry for July 24 and clicking on the 'camera image' beside the name. I found another photo of the species at http://www.pbase.com/crustacean/image/117994861 and the text associated with this picture tells me that after digging out the underground chamber in which the eggs will be laid and a food store created for the larva's sustenance, this species will build a small curved 'chimney' above the entrance to the chamber (presumably to prevent entry by unwanted predators while allowing the larva to exit the chamber at the appropriate time

Donacia dentata (Beetle Species): This beetle was found by Graeme Lyons on July 27 when investigating the ditches at Amberley Wildbrooks. The beetle is associated with Arrowhead species water plants but why the beetle needs to have legs as shown in his photo is an unanswered question - see http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1I6LTNab-h8/TjBW9kFDisI/AAAAAAAABkE/rM_SDvE3kZU/s1600/Donacia+on+arrowhead.jpg

Glow-worm: 13 glowing females and one male were seen at Durlston during a walk on the evening of July 27 and I had a reminder of a Portsdown Hill site which I had forgotten about through a contribution to John Goodspeed's website saying that only one Glow-worm had been seen at the Gilman Lane site on July 25 (John thought that more would have been seen had the observer been there after it was fully dark). Gilman Road runs north up Portsdown Hill from Havant Road in the Farlington area, connecting with Evelegh Road, Grant Road and Woodfield Avenue before becoming a narrow lane (not useable by cars) which emerges on Portsdown Hill Road opposite College Road and the eastern entrance to Fort Purbrook

Water Ladybird (Anisosticta 19-punctata): Yet another species brought to my attention by Graeme Lyons in connection with his survey of ditches at Amberley Wildbrooks. To learn about this Ladybird species go to http://www.ladybird-survey.org/species_desc.aspx?species=6455%2059201

Roesel's Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii): In last week's Summary I wrote .. "Both male and female of this species were found at Emsworth by Bryan Pinchen on July 13 - good photos and facts can be seen at http://www.orthoptera.org.uk/account.aspx?ID=16 (click on the images to enlarge - the central picture is of a female with her impressive ovipositor for slicing into the plant stems where she lays her eggs)" This week another specimen was found in a moribund state by Nik Knight's daughter in the carpark of Havant Retail Park (across Solent Road from Tesco) and Nik expressed surprise that this and the Emsworth specimen were not in the stated habitat according to his sources (coastal marshes) but the species has been greatly expanding its range for several years and I see from reports in 2008 that even then it could be found in large numbers on the South Downs on Kithurst Hill above Storrington - that report had the comment that the species was expanding fast throughout southern Britain. Another 2008 report was dated Aug 6 and came from the Steyning area north of Worthing - this had the comment .. "increasing fast here - often caught by Wasp Spiders" .. and Wasp Spiders are generally found in dry habitat. A further comment from the Steyning area on July 30 in 2007 pointed out that the specimens found there were of a .. "mobile, macropterous (long-winged) form (diluta), which occurs in order to assist the species with increasing its geographical range"

Wasp Spider (Argiope bruenicchi): First report of this impressive species for the year comes from Graeme Lyons during his survey of the ditches at Amberley Wildbrooks on July 28

Harvestman species: First report of these came on July 21 from Durlston but they get a mention again through my finding one on my garden wall when clearing overgrown vegetation of July 30


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Soapwort: After seeing news that this was in flower last week in the Southsea area (Milton Common) I checked the Havant site where I had found plants last summer (on the east side of Park Road North immediately north of the bridge over the railway west of Havant Station) and found the plants flowering there on July 25

Water Chickweed (Myosoton aquaticum): Back in July 2007 I found this plant in what I thought to be unusual habitat (on the very dry ground near the top of the seawall around Prinsted Bay) and on July 25 I found it still flourishing in the same place (see my Diary page for more detail)

Spiny Restharrow: I found this for the first time this year flourishing on North Common at Northney (Hayling) on July 27. Again see my diary for more detail

Fragrant Agrimony: Another first for the year on July 27 at North Common (Northney). Again see my diary for photos and more detail

Cow Parsley: On July 25 I found a small plant re-flowering and on July 26 Brian Fellows found another in Emsworth

Pepper Saxifrage: Although this had been reported at Durlston since June 20 I had seen no other reports of this in flower until I came across it myself on July 27 when cycling down the Hayling Coastal Path

Lesser Centaury: On July 28 I felt sure that I had found a patch of these plants flowering on Portsdown but after writing up my find (with photos) in my diary I realised that the 'test of genuineness' that I had used to determine their identity was a wrong interpretation of what I had read in the text books - again read the detail and see the photos in my diary

Blue Water Speedwell: The hybrid version of this plant is common but the true species is difficult to find and I see that Brian Fellows did so in Emsworth on July 27

Gipsywort: Brian Fellows also takes the credit for seeing this in flower for the first time this year on July 27

Harebell: Although I had found a single specimen of this in flower on Portsdown on May 6 I did not find it again until July 28 when it was becoming (as usual) one of the dominant flowers on the hill side

Narrow-leaved Ragwort: This was found on July 25 in Farm Lane at Nutbourne where I had first found it in 2007 and I have described the site and included photos on my diary page for that day

Canadian Goldenrod: This was just starting to flower on Portsdown on July 28

Early Goldenrod: I found what I believe to be this species in Farm Lane at Nutbourne on July 25. Details on my Diary page

Michaelmas Daisy: I saw the first flowers on 'wild' plants growing on Portsdown Hill on July 28

Shaggy Soldier (Galinsoga quadriradiata): Flowering on July 25 in the abandoned market garden plot at Prinsted

Orange Hawkweed: John Goodspeed was the first to find this flowering in the wild on Hazleton Common (between Waterlooville and Horndean) on July 26

Broad-leaved Helleborine: John Goodspeed was also the first to report this orchid species in flower (along Sheepwash Lane near the A3M in the Waterlooville area) on July 26


Common Dolphin: An estimated 1000 were in Mounts Bay (between Penzance and The Lizard) on July 27.

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus): This species is referred to by a variety of English names including Field Mouse and Long-tailed Field Mouse but is separate from the Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis). The name Field Mouse was used by the author of the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory website on July 27 when he wrote .. "a very pleasant non-avian incident when a field mouse ran up to my boot and allowed me to tickle it under the chin" Maybe the observer had some attractive scent on his boots or maybe the mouse was very young and inexperienced as I think the species is usually very wary of approaching any other species (most of which would regard it as prey)

Tope: This small shark was seen at Durlston on July 24 chasing Mackerel (despite the fears expressed last week that Mackerel and other fish were being excluded from our inshore waters by millions of Jellyfish)

Jellyfish: An observer in the Bexhill area on July 28 reported a sighting of a Rhisostoma pulmo jellyfish in the sea and a little research revealed that Rhizostoma pulmo is a large Mediterranean jellyfish up to 60cm diameter and 10kg weight. The sting from its tentacles is not a serious threat to humans and the species is edible. It also produces a blue dye. I am not sure if this is a first for the English Channel. While on the subject of Jellyfish I found a 'Readers Digest' type website giving "10 Amazing Facts about Jellyfish"

1. Jellyfish first appeared about 650 million years ago and are found in every ocean, from the surface to the deep sea. Some are also found in fresh water

2. Medusa (plural medusae) is another word for jellyfish. Medusa is also the word for jellyfish in: Greek, Finnish, Portuguese, Romanian, Hebrew, Serbian, Croatian, Spanish, French, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian and Bulgarian
3. Since jellyfish are not actually fish, some people consider the term jellyfish a misnomer, and American public aquariums have popularized use of the terms jellies or sea jellies instead

4. A group of jellyfish is called a bloom or swarm

5. Jellyfish do not have a respiratory system since their skin is thin enough that the body is oxygenated by diffusion

6. Jellyfish do not have a brain or central nervous system, but rather have a loose network of nerves, located in the epidermis, which is called a “nerve net.”

7. Jellyfish are composed of more than 90% water. Most of their umbrella mass is a gelatinous material (the jelly) called mesoglea, which is surrounded by two layers of cells which forms the umbrella (top surface). The subumbrella (bottom surface) of the body is known as the bell

8. Jellyfish are dioecious; that is, they are either male or female. In most cases, to reproduce, both males and females release sperm and eggs into the surrounding water, where the (unprotected) eggs are fertilized and mature into new organisms

9. Box jellyfish venom is the most deadly in the animal kingdon and has caused at least 5,568 recorded deaths since 1954. Each tentacle has about 500,000 sindasites which are harpoon shaped needles that inject venom into the victim

10. The lion’s mane jellyfish is the largest known species of jellyfish. The Arctic Lion’s mane jellyfish is one of the longest known animals and the largest recorded specimen had a bell (body) with a diameter of 2.3 m (7 feet 6 inches) and the tentacles reached 36.5 m (120 feet). It was found washed up on the shore of Massachusetts Bay in 1870

Fungi: Several people have come across large unidentified fungi in the past week and I found a small clump of Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) but the clear highlight of the week was a Red Cage (Clathrus ruber) seen at Durlston on July 24 - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrus_ruber for a picture and info.

Wildlife diary and news for July 18 - 24 (Week 29 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)


(Skip to Insects)

Shearwaters: July 18 brought another surge of Shearwaters past Cornwall. Highest count of Cory's was 107 off the Scillies with 30 Sooty off Lands End after birders at Sennen (the nearest village to Lands End) had reported more than 14000 Manx on July 17. Balearic Shearwaters were over on the French side of the Channel with 73 off Normandie on July 19

Storm Petrels: Highest count from the English side of the channel was 30 off Thurlestone Bay (east of Plymouth in Devon) on July 18. One Wilson's was again off the Scillies on July 20

Cattle Egret: One arrived in the north of Pagham Harbour on July 16 in breeding plumage and was still there on July 19 but has not been reported since. It probably flew west to appear in Devon at the mouth of the River Otter (just east of Exmouth) where one turned up on July 20 and remained at least until July 22

Brent Goose: The summer flock in Chichester Harbour has at last been spotted with 11 seen near Ella Nore (south east of Thorney Island) on July 19. On July 22 there was an unexpected sighting of one flying over the sea off Christchurch Harbour (direction not stated but maybe heading for the Solent)

Pale-bellied Brent: The single summering bird was seen again at Hook (Warsash) on July 20 and 23

Teal: Starting to return to southern England with e.g. the appearance of two at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire on July 16

Garganey: From now on you have to look for the white spot at the base of the bill to pick out eclipse Garganey from the increasing number of Teal - one was at Titchfield Haven on July 17

Pochard: A female was seen with two young ducklings at the Drayton gravel pit east of Chichester on July 18 and on July 22 a group of 6 were seen in the Netherlands (possibly heading for southern England)

Eider: A group of four were inside Chichester Harbour near Pilsey Island on July 15 and 19 (reminding me of the year 1989 when 70 Eider were in the same place throughout July)

Honey Buzzard: A couple of early morning birders at Weir Wood reservoir in north Sussex had a close view of one as it took off from the water's edge on July 22. I have not heard of other sightings in this area so this was possibly a bird already on passage south, as maybe was one reported as a 'remarkable' sighting in Belgium on July 21

Black Kite: Two reports of wandering birds this week - on July 15 one was seen at a London sewage works (Beddington) and on July 23 one was seen over Devon

Marsh Harrier: A pair bred successfully at Lodmoor (Weymouth) in 2009, the first breeding in Dorset for some 50 years, and this year a second pair has also nested at nearby Radipole. This week brought the first official announcement that four juveniles have fledged at Radipole with two more at Lodmoor

Sparrowhawk: This week brought confirmation that a pair have once again nested at the Nore Barn woods on the Emsworth west shore despite the large number of people who visit this small woodland daily. It also bears tribute to the skill of the adult birds who built the nest and brought food to the young that they were not detected by the conservation group which cares for the woodland though I am surprised that the cries of the young were not heard during the last week or so prior to fledging. Interestingly I had my first sighting of an adult Sparrowhawk for some time from my bedroom window early on the morning of July 23 - the hawk was flying high and straight over Havant as it did early in spring to mark its territorial boundary but this time it may have been marking the end of the period during which it needed to defend its territory.

Buzzard: Early last year a juvenile Buzzard became a regular sight in Brook Meadow at Emsworth in the period from Feb 12 to Mar 12 though it did not acquire a mate and set up a breeding territory there. This year the only sighting of a Buzzard perched in the Meadow was on July 21 - again it did not stay

Red-legged Partridge: A group of 24 birds (two families) was seen at Reculver on the north Kent coast on July 22 suggesting that birds which have successfully bred in the wild are now out and about but we will have to wait a little longer before birds bred for shooting are released next month in time for the start of the Partridge shooting season on Sep 1 (Pheasants are safe until Oct 1 while Grouse can be shot from Aug 12 - for a full table of shooting season dates see http://www.basc.org.uk//en/departments/game-and-gamekeeping/game-shooting/shooting-seasons.cfm )

Golden Plover: A flock of 42 seen at Oare Marshes near Faversham in north Kent on July 23 seems to be the first group of post breeding birds back in southern England. A single Pacific Golden Plover (in breeding plumage) was at Hayle in north Cornwall on July 20 after two of them had been seen in Ireland on July 14

Grey Plover: The first to return in summer plumage was at Christchurch Harbour on July 10 and there were maybe more of them in the flock of 42 seen on Pilsey Sands (Chichester Harbour) on July 15 but there were definitely four more at Rye Harbour on July 22

Lapwing: Post breeding flocks have been seen since mid-June but the first to be reported in Pagham Harbour was 60 birds on July 20

Knot: 10 were already back in Chichester Harbour for the July 15 WeBS count on the Pilsey Sands and 309 were seen at Spurn Point on the Yorkshire coast on July 17

Sanderling: 17 were back at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on July 18 and there were 22 there on July 20 when 4 were in Pagham Harbour

Temminck's Stint: One was on the Lincolnshire coast on July 19 and Pectoral Sandpipers have been seen this week at Aberdeen (July 19) and at Dungeness on July 22. A Curlew Sandpiper was at Lymington on July 19 and 20 and a summer plumage Purple Sandpiper was at Reculver (north Kent) on July 23. A Marsh Sandpiper was in Lincolnshire on July 11 and was still in Yorkshire on July 21

Dunlin: Nine reports of flocks this week. Peak counts were 245 in Yorkshire on July 17 when 224 were at Lymington. On July 20 there were 54 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) and on July 21 there were 56 in Pagham Harbour

Godwits: In addition to the regular summering flocks there were around 50 Black-tailed Godwits in the Emsworth Channel on July 21 (after 57 had been at the nearby Thorney Great Deeps for the July 14 WeBS count) and 80 Bar-tailed were on the Pilsey sands on July 15

Whimbrel: Small numbers have been seen on passage since mid-June but a flock of 94 flying west along the north Kent coast on July 22 marked a step up in numbers

Redshank: The July 14 WeBS count at the Thorney Island Great Deeps recorded 380 birds and 50 were in Emsworth Harbour on July 21

Greenshank: 39 were at the Thorney Great Deeps on July 14, 24 were at Farlington Marshes on July 16 and 11 were at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on July 19

Green Sandpiper: On July 21 there were 32 at Sandwich Bay and on July 22 there were 8 at Pulborough Brooks plus 14 at the Lower Test Marshes and 13 at Brading Marshes on the IoW. Single Wood Sandpipers were at Fleet Pond (north Hampshire) on July 16 and 17, at Exmouth on July 16 and at Sandwich Bay on July 21 with a Terek Sandpiper in Northumberland on July 19. Common Sandpiper numbers peaked at 46 at Sandwich Bay on July 21. A Spotted Sandpiper remained at Rutland Water (Leicestershire) from July 13 to 19

Turnstone: 16 were back in Southampton Water on July 16 and 12 were at Titchfield Haven on July 21

Phalaropes: One Red-necked was in the Scillies on July 20 and single Greys were in Ayrshire and the Scillies on July 20

Little Gull: One remains in the Hook area near Warsash and a flock of 520 were said to be at Hornsea Mere in Yorkshire on July 19 when a long staying Bonaparte's Gull was still at Exmouth. Late news from the Scillies is of a Sabine's Gull there on July 7

Little Tern: The count of 52 at Pilsey Island in Chichester Harbour on July 15 may have been the remnant of the birds which failed to breed in Langstone Harbour this summer. At least eight were still there on July 19 (seen distantly from the Wittering area). On July 21 Rye Harbour reported 'almost zero productivity' for all three Tern species breeding there (Sandwich, Common and Little)

Black Tern: I am not sure if singles seen at Selsey Bill on June 21 and 28 were 'coming' or 'going' but a report of 2 at Lymington on July 21 and one of 3 birds off the Normandie coast of France on July 22 were of birds already on Autumn passage

Turtle Dove: A count of 22 on wires at Oare Marshes (north Kent) on July 21 marked the start of their autumn passage, as did a single bird at Christchurch Harbour on July 23

Nightjar: At least two were still on breeding territory in Havant Thicket on July 20

Sand Martin: Some were heading out to sea with Swallows at Pagham Harbour on July 20 and around 200 were making a stop-over at Pulborough Brooks on July 22

House Martin: A count of 46 occupied nests at Plumpton Agricultural College at Lewes showed an increase of 9 over last year's count - I suspect that such an increase has been very much the exception this year

Tree Pipit: One at Christchurch Harbour on July 22 seems to have been the first departing bird of the autumn

Nightingale: Counts from France of 47 on July 10, 63 on July 20 and 79 in the Netherlands on that day shows they are now heading south

Wheatear: Durlston reported the first passage birds on July 13 and this week the first autumn birds have appeared at Climping (east of Bognor), at Christchurch Harbour and at Portland

Sedge Warbler: A peak count of 77 at a Belgian site on July 20 followed reports of passage at Portland, Christchurch Harbour, Durlston and other sites. Similar reports of autumn passage for Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler and Chiffchaff

Willow Warbler: 13 reports of departing birds, several noting the bright yellow colour of juveniles, came from several coastal sites. Portland had the peak for the week with 35 on July 23.

Paddyfield Warbler: Dorset had its first ever record of this species when one was trapped near Weymouth on July 21 and a Melodious Warbler turned up at Dungeness on July 20

House Sparrow: A report of a flock of 60 at Furze Hill in South Gorley on the western fringe of the New Forest probably marks the start of what I call the 'Corn Sparrow season' when House Sparrows leave their breeding areas and move to the countryside to pick up the left over of harvest crops and hedgerow berries

Crossbill: At least eleven reports this week of more birds arriving in southern England. On July 17 a family of five were seen perching on rooves and aerials in the Portslade area of Brighton while two reports of 40 birds came from East Sussex (others were from Southampton and Dorset)


(Skip to Plants)


Southern Hawker: Still not common but local sightings this week in the Havant area

Brown Hawker: Seen on the Pevensey Levels

Migrant Hawker: Residents seen on the Pevensey Levels and migrants arriving at Dungeness

Emperor: Seen at Pevensey Levels and reported on Sinah Common (Hayling Island) though as that was away from water it may have been another Southern Hawker

Lesser Emperor: This normally rare migrant has now been seen on at least seven occasions including a report of three together at Dungeness on July 15 with earlier sightings in Cornwall, Staffordshire and Warwickshire

Black Tailed Skimmer: Now common

Ruddy Darter: Now being seen in large numbers at appropriate sites

Common Darter: Now common

Blue-tailed Damsel: Now common

Azure Damsel: Now common

Variable Damsel: Reported in small numbers from sites in Kent and East Sussex


Silver Spotted Skipper: A single report of a female seen on Malling Down near Lewes on July 15 is the first and only report for the year so far

Clouded Yellow: One seen in Brighton on July 18

Brown Argus: Reports of second brood emergence at Basingstoke and Dungeness this week (though a very fresh specimen was reported at Cissbury Ring on June 30)

Chalkhill Blue: The first reported on Portsdown (30 of them) were seen on July 13 though the first had been seen in the Eastbourne area before July 9

Adonis Blue: First summer brood reported at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on July 22

Purple Emperor: On or about July 16 one was seen on the ground close to the Stansted House Chapel building

Painted Lady: One seen in the Pilsey area was the first to be seen on Thorney Island this year

Large Tortoiseshell: A single insect seen by several people on the Scillies on July 13 - it was only the fifth recorded on the Scillies and the fourth was seen many years ago. This was also the fifth migrant to be seen this year, the first being on the Isle of Wight on Mar 14

On the wing this week: Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Silver Spotted Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Green-veined White, Small White, Purple Hairstreak, White Letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Large Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet


Bedstraw Hawkmoth: The first to reach southern England this year was at Portland on July 21 with a second arriving there next night

Brown-tail moth: The first adult moth of the year was in Brighton on July 15

Other Insects

Scaeva pyrastri hoverfly: One had been reported at Rye Harbour on July 4 but no others until July 22 when one was at Durlston

Marmelade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus): A further invasion of migrants arrived on July 22 and they are now to be found everywhere.

Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria): These have been on the wing since June 21 but July 22 brought one to Dulston and another to Havant where I saw it on a Danewort umbel

Giant Tachinid Fly (Tachina grossa): This ugly looking 2 cm long hairy fly which lays its eggs in large hairy caterpillars was first reported on the Isle of Wight on July 14 but this week a second example was seen at Dungeness on July 20

Glow-worm: At least 15 were seen in Havant Thicket on the evening of July 20

Bush Crickets: Durlston reported both the Great Green Bush Cricket and the Speckled Bush Cricket on July 21

Harvestman: First report of these spider-like creatures also came from Durlston on July 21


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Creeping Yellow Cress: I found a large colony of this on the old Havant Borough playing fields (now abandoned) at Broadmarsh back on June 9 and this week it was still looking fresh on July 23

Heath Milkwort: Seen by Brian Fellows in the New Forest on July 19, reminding me that it probably occurs in Havant Thicket but I have not yet searched for it

Indian Balsam: This seems to be spreading up the Hermitage Stream from the Bedhampton Mill area and I found flowering plants close to the Wayfarers Way path on July 23 (in previous years I have only seen it there by walking downstream in search of Buttonweed which I have not done this year)

Soapwort: Seen flowering on Milton Common in Southsea on July 20

Hollyhock: What must have been self sown plants were flowering on waste land at the junction of Southmoor Lane and Penner Road in Havant this week

Spiny Restharrow: I have not seen this locally so far this year but on July 19 I read that it is a dominant plant at the Oare Marshes reserve of the Kent Wildlife Trust

Bush Vetch: I was surprised to find this still flowering on a roadside in Racton hamlet (Ems valley) on July 21 where I last saw it on Apr 25

Bitter vetch (Lathyrus linifolius): This is usually abundant on Blendworth Common (west fringe of Havant Thicket) but a search for it on July 19 found many leaves but only one plant with a single flower

Sickle Medick: This plant is very rare in Hampshire and although there are old records from Southampton and Bournemouth it was not found in Portsmouth until 2003 and it has survived at one roadside location by the London Road near the top of Portsdown since then despite (or because of) close mowing. This year I visited it on July 22 when it was looking healthy and flowering but had not yet developed any of the seed pods which make it easily identifiable.

Sainfoin: Only one plant could be found flowering on Portsdown on July 22 surrounded by dead and withered plants

Caucasian Stonecrop: First flowers appearing this week in the Havant cemetery

Spreading Hedge Parsley: In past years I have found this in arable fields at Stansted and in a Langstone garden, and I have been told of a colony in a field just north of the Chichester marina on Fishbourne Channel, so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on a single plant in an arable field beside the Emsworth Common Road immediately west of the Funtington MoD site on July 21

Black Nightshade: My first sight of this in flower this year came on July 21 in a field edge on Racton Park Farm near Funtington

Moth Mullein: I also saw this for the first time on July 21 beside a track going south from the Emsworth Common Road opposite the Funtington MoD site though the plants had clearly been flowering for some time. Two days later I came on another cluster of flowering plants on waste ground beside Southmoor Lane in Havant

Field Cow Wheat: The plants growing on the M27 motorway bank above Portchester which I had seen on June 2 were still flowering on July 22. The colony there is very well established and is extending its range

Bifid Hemp Nettle: Several plants were just starting to flower in a field edge on Racton Park Farm near Funtington on July 21

Basil Thyme: This was flowering on Portchester Common (Portsdown above Portchester) on July 22

Fen Bedstraw: Found in the New Forest by Brian Fellows on July 19 and may be found again in the Langstone South Moors 'orchid field'

Small Teazel: I checked the plants at the road junction at Racton in the Ems valley on July 21 but while they were full grown there was no sign of flowering yet in this very shaded site

Ploughman's Spikenard: This has been flowering at Durlston since July 8 and must be out on Portsdown though I have not yet seen it

Canadian and Guernsey Fleabane: Both seen in flower for the first time in Havant this week

Tansy: First flowers seen on Portsdown on July 22

Sneezewort: First flowers seen in Havant Thicket on July 19

Marsh Cudweed: First flowers also seen in Havant Thicket on July 19

Welted Thistle: Flowering in the Funtington area on July 21


Weasel: Two sightings in East Sussex this week probably reflect increased hunting activity to supply extra food for growing babies in their dens. One observation from the Pevensey Levels was of a Weasel vainly trying to drag the body of a dead Lapwing down its burrow. It won't be long now before we hear of family parties of Weasels (and Stoats) out hunting together.

Humpback Whale: When I saw a report of this species off the coast of the Netherlands back in February I had to add a new species to my database as I had not previously heard of this one occurring anywhere near southern England. Now I see there has been another sighting reported off the coast of Spain on July 19 - I wonder if the news of Jellyfish (below) is relevant?

Hedgehog: On July 20 one was seen foraging by day under a bird feeder in an Emsworth garden. Brian Fellows in reporting this wonders if there has been an increase in Hedgehog numbers but I think a more likely reason for more sightings of Hedgehogs out in daytime is the same as that which brings Barn Owls out to hunt by day in early summer, namely to increasing pressure for parents to find food for growing young which cannot yet hunt for themselves

Sunfish: One seen off Start Point in Devon on July 16 and another in the Scillies on July 20

Jellyfish: On July 21 Barry Yates (warden of Rye Harbour) drew our attention to news on the BBC and Guardian websites suggesting that increasing acidification of the oceans was so beneficial to jellyfish that they were increasing to numbers that were crowding out fish such as Mackerel from our coastal waters and closing down water cooled nuclear power stations. Read the original reports at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14235582 and http://www.monbiot.com/2011/07/08/jellyfish-rule/ These articles greatly increased my knowledge of jellyfish species - among those mentioned were barrel, moon, compass, blue and lion's mane. I had previously only heard of Compass, Common and Comb Jellyfish plus Portugese Man-of-war

Fungi: Eight species got into my own notebook this week - The Blusher (Amanita rubescens), Fairy Ring Champignon (Marasmius oreades), an un-named Russula species, Horse Mushroom (Agaricus arvensis), Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus), what was probably an aged Bay Bolete (Boletus badius), a fresh Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus), what were either Common or Scaly Earthballs (Scleroderma citrinum or verrucosum), and a 'smelt only' Stinkhorn

Wildlife diary and news for July 11 - 17 (Week 28 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

Hedgehog: These have been in the local news this week with an unexpected sighting in Brook Meadow at Emsworth followed by a report of a family of three living in a neighbour's garden here in Havant. The neighbour told me that he had made them a wooden Hedgehog house from which they emerged nightly for a meal of catfood before setting out on their nightly journeys. He also decribed how on one recent morning he found the wooden house had been moved out into the centre of his lawn (probably by a Fox trying to get at the occupants) - luckily the Hedgehogs had curled up in their house and the Fox had gone away hungry. On Saturday night (July 16) I actually had a live Hedgehog in my own garden, detected but unharmed by visiting dogs.

WeBS count on Thorney Island: After I had processed the wildlife reports for this week I had another look at the SOS News and saw the results of Barry Collins WeBS Counts (for the Thorney Deeps on Thursday 14 July and for the Pilsey area on Friday). At the Deeps there were (amongst other items) 380 Redshank, 57 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Lapwing, 39 Greenshank and 6 Common Sandpiper. At Pilsey there were 80 Bar-tailed Godwit, 52 Little Tern, 42 Grey Plover and 13 Whimbrel. While the Grey Plover may well have been non breeding birds summering in the harbour the other counts give a good impression of how far advanced the the autumn wader passage already is. The number of Little Terns was particularly striking but may reflect birds that have abandoned nests in Langstone Harbour (see entry for Little Tern below)

Waders at Farlington Marshes: On July 16 there were 24 Greenshank, 5 Whimbrel and 2 Common Sandpiper around Farlington Marshes

Cattle Egret at Sidlesham: One was watched for half an hour on Saturday evening (July 16) in fields north of Pagham Harbour and east of Sidlesham


(Skip to Insects)

Shearwaters: Cory's, Sooty, Balearic and Manx were still around the Cornish coast on July 17 brought in by the big low pressure system which affected the whole of Britain. Other than Manx (with more than 14,000 recorded at Sennen) the highest count was 28 Sooty off Pendeen where 5 Cory's and 3 Balearic were also seen with 20+ Storm Petrels

Little Egret: Numbers at feeding sites continue to rise steeply with 38 at Christchurch Harbour on July 14. Weir Wood reservoir had 23 on July 12 and the Lower Test Marshes reported 16 on July 13. During the couple of months before June 23 (when Weir Wood reported 4 Egrets of which one was a juvenile) the only news of the species was from breeding sites but it is not clear whether the current reported increases are solely the result of dispersion from local nests, or whether there is a significant element of immigration from continental sites. On July 13 Portland reported the arrival of one Egret from the south and these sizeable and white birds, which catch the eye when seen at short range against a background of greenery, are surpringly difficult to see against the sea or sky at a distance so many individuals could cross the channel unreported provided that they arrive singly and do not check in at birding hotspots.

Spoonbill: Late news of a flock of 58 at a Netherlands site on July 10 suggests that this species is on the move though with no indication of where they are heading.

Brent Goose: Still no news of any summering flocks which I would expect to be lurking in the Solent harbours but sightings of one in the Emsworth Channel at Mill Rythe on July 9, another flying up the Beaulieu River from the Solent on July 13 and another two heading into Langstone Harbour on July 14 suggests that the birds that are here for the summer may be sensing the onset of their flightless moult period and be heading for inland hideaways where they can survive the moult.

Pale-bellied Brent: One was still at Exmouth on July 10 and another was seen in the Warsash area on July 11

Teal: A count of 85 at a Yorkshire site on July 9 may reflect a movement of failed or non-breeders heading south in search of places in which to spend their eclipse period

Ferruginous Duck: One was reported in Somerset on July 13 and maybe the same moved on to East Holme in Dorset on July 14

Marsh Harrier: The pair nesting at Radipole (Weymouth) had two juveniles airborne with them on July 10 but there has been no news yet of the family at nearby Lodmoor

Osprey: One was at Arne (Poole Harbour) on July 10 with one over Pagham Harbour on July 11 and another over Fishlake Meadows by the R Test at Romsey on July 13

Common Crane: Two, possibly three, flew over Wivelsfield Green near Haywards Heath on July 10

Golden Plover: A flock of 43 in Yorkshire on July 9 was probably returning from more northerly breeding sites and may be heading our way

Grey Plover: Christchurch Harbour had what I think was its first bird returning from breeding in summer plumage on July 10

Knot: Two were back at Lymington on July 11

Sanderling: One was seen at Lymington with 93 Dunlin on July 14

Little Stint: One at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on July 11. Other vagrants this week include a Temmincks Stint in Orkney on July 9 and a Pectoral Sandpiper in Essex on July 14

Ruff: A total of 16 were at Rye Harbour on July 9, a single male was at Hayle in Cornwall on July 14 when another single was at Lymington (with a single Snipe)

Black-tailed Godwit: Possible indications of more birds returning from Iceland include a group of five over Sandy Point on Hayling on July 10, a flock of 58 arriving at Christchurch Harbour on July 11 from inland and then flying on east, and a count of 14 at Pulborough Brooks on July 12

Sandpipers: On July 12 Pulborough Brooks had 8 Green Sandpipers, the Lower Test reserve had 11 on July 13 and on July 15 Rye Harbour had 16. Single Wood Sandpipers were in the Rye Bay area on July 10, on the north Devon coast near Hartland Point on July 15, and at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire that same day (still there on July 17). Common Sandpipers are now widespread and numerous - a count of 28 was made at Prawle on the Devon coast back on July 10 when there were 14 at the Longham Lakes on the northern fringe of Bournemouth. On July 11 Christchurch Harbour had 13 and on July 15 Rye Harbour had 23

Spotted Sandpiper: One was at Rutland Water on July 13 and 14

Turnstone: Christchurch Harbour had its first six passage birds on July 8 and a small flock of sixteen were at Weston Shore on Southampton Water on July 16

Little Gull: A recent major increase in passage was marked by a report of 1327 at a Yorkshire site on July 9

Arctic Tern: A single first summer bird was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on July 10

Little Tern: After a disastrous breeding season for all the gulls and terns nesting in Langstone Harbour, and a rather stupid discusssion on Hoslist which assumed that all the losses were due to the insatiable appetite of a single Fox, the RSPB warden (Chris Cockburn) has set out the facts which include: -

1. The nests involved were Med Gull 498, Black-headed Gull 4580, Lesser Blackback Gull 1, Sandwich Tern 161, Common Tern probably 50 nests hidden in vegetation, Little Tern probably 56 nests

2. Problems were caused by (a) Strong winds making it difficult for parents to collect fish for their young on six occasions (one lasting for 4 consecutive days), (b) A long dry spell making it difficult for the Med Gulls (which do not fish but rely on earthworms, etc) to feed their young, and (c) High tides swamping many nests on three occasions (despite building up some areas with shingle the great majority of the nesting area is less than three feet above the normal high tide mark)

3. In addition to inter-species predation among the birds one or more Foxes have learnt to access the island at low tide and have probably been out there during 64 low tide periods (day and night) since the first sighting of a Fox on May 20

4. As a result the total known productivity of the 5616 known nests has been the fledging of two Black-headed Gull plus one Little Tern chicks.

An observation of 70 Little Terns at Sandy Point (mouth of Chichester Harbour) on July 10 may reflect the abandonment of nests in Langstone Harbour by the majority of the estimated 112 birds which had failed to nest there (though some of them have attempted a to raise a second brood there)

Swift: The first to reach the south coast that I know of was seen in the Shoreham area on Apr 5 and by Apr 27 a flock of 305 was seen at a Netherlands site with a count of 8277 birds there on Apr 30 and by mid-May counts in hundreds were regular in England. I suspect these were mostly birds intending to breed this year. A further surge seems to have reached Britain at the end of May (e.g. 8098 over Spurn Point on the east coast on June 27) and these were probably non-breeders which have since been seen in varying numbers all over southern England (e.g. one or two over Havant on various days since June 30 and a group of around 20 which spent most of July 12 over Emsworth). On July 14 I even had two low over my house late in the evening when I went out of my front door to put the milk bottles out (the only time I saw an evening flight this year - in all previous years it was a regular occurrence to see what I assume were at least partly the non-sitting partners of the local breeding birds collecting over the houses from 8pm onwards before climbing to 'sleeping height' as dusk fell)

Pallid and Pacific Swift: Singles of these two rarities were over the east coast of Britain on July 9

Sand Martin: These continue to stream away from their breeding sites with counts on July 11 of 950 over Dungeness. 320 over Christchurch Harbour, 220 roosting at Thurlestone (near Plymouth), 60 roosting at Lymington and 50+ passing over Pagham Harbour. Swallows were also on the move but the only report I have is of 330 roosting at Thurlestone on July 12.

Crag Martin: A single bird was over Christchurch Harbour for 5 minutes on July 10 before heading north inland

Red-rumped Swallow: One was reported in Surrey on July 8 and 9. Maybe the same bird passed over Sandy Point on Hayling on July 10

Albino Martin: A bird seen over the Heath Pond at Petersfield on July 14 was either a House or Sand Martin

Sedge Warbler: Ones and twos of most of our summer migrant species are now on the way south but the only positive report of this comes from Portland where they trapped the first autumn passage bird there on July 15

Golden Oriole: Reports of birds heading south come from Belgium on July 12, the Scillies on July 13, and from the Mundham area just south of the Chichester lakes on July 15 (this one not seen but song heard)

Lesser Grey Shrike: The bird which turned up in Pembrokeshire on July 6 was still there on July 9

Starling: Autumn flocks will soon start to build up in southern England as birds come over from the continent. A foretaste was given by a report of 3044 birds at a Netherlands site on July 10

Leucistic House Sparrow: Brian Fellows had on June 23 been sent a picture of a leucistic juvenile recently fledged in an Emsworth garden and on July 14 what may have been the same bird was seen again in the Nore Barn area at the west end of the Emsworth shoreline

Crossbill: A dozen more reports this week as the irruption into England continues. On July 10 birders visiting West Dean Woods near Chichester reported 'many flocks moving around' and other reports came from the New Forest, Dorest, Cornwall, and Sussex


(Skip to Plants)


Southern Hawker: The first were reported at the Lower Test reserve on May 24 but they did not start to emerge seriously until July 2 in Sussex and the first in Hampshire were seen by Paul Winter in the New Forest on July 14

Brown Hawker: Although there had been an early report of these from Berkshire on May 19 I have heard no more of them until July 14 when they were in Paul Winter's list of sightings on the western fringes of the New Forest by the Latchmore Brook where he recorded 15 species. For his full list go to http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/content/latest-sightings and scroll down to the entry for July 14 marked "Hampshire PDW"

Migrant Hawker: An immature had been seen in Devon on June 23 but regular reports started on July 12 and by July 16 one had been found in a north Kent moth trap

Lesser Emperor: The fifth report for the year was of one in Warwickshire on July 15

Black Darter: These were first reported on June 30 in both Surrey and Wales (Ceredigon) and there have now been seven reports including one female photographed at Iping Common near Midhurst on July 9

Common Darter: The first for the year seem to have been at Keyhaven near Lymington on June 14 but their general appearance is only starting around now

Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale): Paul Winter found 38 of these at the Latchmore Brook in the New Forest on July 14 and the only previous report that I can see of this species is of four at an Oxfordshire site on June 30


Wood White: Second brood starting to emerge since July 7 with several at Botany Bay in Surrey on July 13

Small Blue: Summer brood emerging from July 10 near Brighton (maybe July 5 at Durlston but not noted as fresh)

Common Blue: Summer Brood reported at Kithurst Hill in Sussex on July 11 though a pristine specimen was seen near Henfield on June 26

Red Admiral: An unexplained assembly of around 100 in one field was seen on the Isle of Wight on July 9

Wall Brown: Second brood seems to have started to emerge on June 26 near Horsham but there was then a gap in reports until specimens near Eastbourne were reported as the new brood on July 10

Grayling: First for the year was claimed at Lymington on May 21 but there were no further reports from anywhere until July 8 at Browndown near Gosport after which there were reports on July 9, 11 and 14

Large Heath: Not included in my list of southern species below but I see these were flying at their Cumbrian stronghold on July 4

Species seen this week were Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Large Skipper, Wood White, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath. Ringlet.


Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Another five reports this week as a moderate inflow of migrants continues. On July 12 a house in West Sussex was lucky enough to have one fly in through an open door, nectar from some cut Sweet Peas and fly out again

Old Lady: This large moth has just appeared on the scene with a first report from Henfield in Sussex on July 8 followed on July 9 by a report and photo of four together in a garden shed at Cowplain (Waterlooville) - this latter report included a message saying that the moths probably explained the regular appearance during June of large green droppings (from unseen caterpillars) below the ivy around the shed

Other Insects

Marmelade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus): These have been around for some time but this week brought a surge of new migrants (e.g. reported at Portland on July 12) so that the species become common almost everywhere

Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria): First report of this large and impressive insect came on July 9 when at least four were seen in the Brighton area

Long Hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta): This was one of very many insects found by Bryan Pinchen during an insect survey of Emsworth roadsides on July 13 - a full list is expected later but Brian Fellows managed to photograph this distinctive individual. For photos of some of the insects found during this survey visit see http://www.emsworthwaysides.hampshire.org.uk/few-NEWS.htm

Giant Tachinid Fly (Tachina grossa): On July 14 Derek Hale took a photo of this very impressive (in its ugliness) insect (which parasitises large caterpillars) at Brighstone on the Isle of Wight. To see it go to http://iowbirds.awardspace.com/IOW.htm and scroll down to the entries for July 14, then click the 'camera' image alongside the words 'Tachina grossa'. You can find out more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachina_grossa

Flying Ants: Several reports this week but no mass co-ordinated flight across the whole region

14-spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata): This was also found by Bryan Pinchen at Emsworth on July 13 and photographed by Brian Fellows. Note that there is another 14 spot Laybird called Calvia 14-guttata which is distinctly different and is called the Cream Spot Ladybird. See the list of Ladybird species at http://www.ladybird-survey.org/species_list.aspx and scroll down it to find the two names - clicking on the Common Name of a species in this list brings up its photo and id features

Roesel's Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii): Both male and female of this species were found at Emsworth by Bryan Pinchen on July 13 - good photos and facts can be seen at http://www.orthoptera.org.uk/account.aspx?ID=16 (click on the images to enlarge - the central picture is of a female with her impressive ovipositor for slicing into the plant stems where she lays her eggs)

Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima): A large male was seen at Durlston on July 16 and details of this most impressive species (twice the size of the Roesel's) can be found at http://www.orthoptera.org.uk/account.aspx?ID=10


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Long-headed Poppy (Papaver dubium): This plant has two sub-species one of which is normally called Long-headed and the other Yellow-juiced but to add to the confusion a find by Graeme Lyons in Sussex this week is named Babington's Poppy. For this and many other interesting plant finds by Graeme see his blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ which currently starts with his first find of 'Weasel's Snout' (aka Lesser Snapdragon or Misopates orontium) which still grows under the roadside fence of the New Lane allotments here in Havant

Dense Flowered Fumitory: Another of Graeme Lyons finds this week

Common Flax (Linum usitatissimum): Although the species is not specifically stated a find of a Flax plant flowering by the Slipper Mill Pond at Emsworth on July 12 is assumed to be a self sown plant of the Common Flax grown as a commercial crop rather than the smaller Pale Flax or the rare Perennial Flax

Proliferous Pink: On June 21 I re-discovered the plants on Sinah Common (Hayling Island) which had originally been named as Childing Pink but could not see any flowers, only what appeared to be the empty husks of the calyces belonging to flowers already over, so when I looked again at the plants on July 11 I was surprised to find 11 tiny flowers which I take to be a second flowering.

Night-flowering Catchfly: Another recent find by Graeme Lyons on July 10

Sand Spurrey: I managed on July 11 to locate the plants found earlier by Brian Fellows at Sinah Common and my diary entry for that day includes a Google stellite view of the area which should help others to locate the plants which I found distributed over a larger area than I had expected

Strawberry Clover: First sighting of this in flower comes from Brian Fellows at Northney on Hayling on July 10

Sulphur Cinquefoil: A find of this by Brian Fellows in Emsworth on July 14 made me realise that I have for years being wrongly naming Shrubby Cinquefoil as Sulphur Cinquefoil and must admit to never having seen the plant which Brian found

Purple Loosestrife: This has just started to flower in the Brook Meadow area at Emsworth - first report by Brian Fellows on July 12

Ash key galls: Brian Fellows diary entry for July 15 at http://www.emsworthwildlife.hampshire.org.uk/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm has a photo and description of galls caused by a mite called Eriophyes Fraxinivorus (a member of the Arachnid or Spider tribe)

Broad-leaved Spurge: Another of Graeme Lyons finds made near Bexhill on July 13. Also at the same site (Filsham Reedbed) he found Fine leaved water dropwort

Stone Parsley: Brian Fellows was the first to find this with open flowers in Emsworth on July 15

Wild Angelica: Another first flowering at Emsworth seen by Brian Fellows on July 15

Lesser Water Parsnip: This had started to flower in the Lymbourne stream at Langstone on July 9

Blue Pimpernel: Another of Graeme Lyons discoveries made on July 10 and on view in his blog at http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/

Lesser Centauy: First flowering reported by John Goodspeed on Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on July 6

Common Dodder: First flowering noted by myself on gorse at Sinah Common on July 11 - poor photos on my diary page

Small Toadflax: Another of Graeme Lyons finds (along with Round and Sharp-leaved Fluellen) on July 10

Field Woundwort: Another first of the year for Graeme Lyons on July 13

White Horehound: Another first of the year for Graeme Lyons on July 10

Hounds Tongue: After many years knowing of only one Hayling Island site for this plant (at Sandy Point) two new sites have been found this summer - one near the Oysterbeds on May 29 and now one on the Northney shoreline (just west of the Marina slipway) found by John Norton on July 10.

Purple Viper's Bugloss: This plant has only two regular sites in southern Britain, one in the Scillies and the other in Cornwall, but it can occur elsewhere as a casual and Graeme Lyons found one such site in Sussex on July 10

Teasel: Flowering of this started on July 11

Hoary Ragwort: This too seems to have started flowering on July 11

Sea Aster: First flowers found in the Langstone area on July 9

Frog Orchid: First report of this in flower came from John Goodspeed at Old Winchester Hill on July 6 - as 30 spikes were found the plants had probably started to flower a little earlier than they were seen


Hedgehog: See 'Latest News' above

Slow-worm: When mowing my lawn this week I cut back long grass at the edge of the lawn and at one point saw a large Slow-worm slithering away from what had been a dense tussock - luckily it appeared to be unharmed.

Pointed Snail (Cochlicella acuta): This small land snail colonises dry habitats, often near the sea and in places such as sand dunes where you might not expect to find snails. With a shell shaped like a church steeple, but only at most 15mm tall, it easily escapes the attention of anyone not looking for it except in hot weather when the temperature of the sun baked ground can rise to a point at which there is a serious risk of a tiny mollusc becoming cooked in its own shell. To avoid this fate these snails climb a few centimetres up whatever is nearest (plant stems or fence posts) until they are cooled by whatever breeze is blowing. In these conditions the snails, no longer hidden by the vegetation and sticking out a right angles to whatever they have climbed, become quite easy to spot. I have only come across them at two sites - firstly around the carparks of the IBM Portsmouth HQ (now called Lakeside 1000), and secondly on the inner slope ot the Thorney Island seawall where it passes the west end of the Great Deeps. There were plenty to be seen at the Thorney site in 2005 and 6 but since then I have had great difficulty in seeing any until this week when I found at least 20 there (a tiny count compared to the many hundreds that could be seen at the IBM site). For a good picture go to http://idtools.org/id/mollusc/factsheet.php?id=280

Fish eating Flying Ants: Unlike some recent years when there have been huge eruptions of flying ants all occurring on the same day, attracting massive flocks of birds to catch them in flight, this year's mating flights seem to have been sporadic and unco-ordinated. One flight at Durlston on July 12 seems to have been especially badly timed, with the ants only taking off late in the day and then being blown out over the sea where many thousands of the Ants end up on the water where they were enjoyed by Mullet and other fish

Wildlife diary and news for July 4 - 10 (Week 27 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

Sand Spurrey on Hayling Island: On July 1 Brian Fellows came across some plants in the area north of the Hayling Golf Course and just south of the Ferry Road which seemed to be related to Lesser Sea-spurrey but flourishing on stony sandy soil at least 300 metres from the nearest harbour mud and he at first guessed they might be Rock Sea-spurrey but after a week long investigation they have been shown to be Sand Spurrey

More rare plants and insects in Sussex: Graeme Lyons blog continues to provide daily interest and education - see http://analternativenaturalhistoryofsussex.blogspot.com/ for his latest finds of False Ladybird (see http://www.uksafari.com/falseladybirds.htm to learn about these tiny fungus eating beetles which disguise themselves at unpalatable Ladybirds) and Purple Viper's Bugloss (previously only known from Cornwall and the Channel Islands) plus Night Flowering Catchfly and what he calls Babington's Poppy (a plant which is found in Stace as Papaver dubium or the Long-headed Poppy)


(Skip to Insects)

Grebes and Divers: A single diver (probably Great Northern) was off the Devon coast at Exmouth on July 4 and a single Black-necked Grebe was off the Netherlands that day while Lee Evans latest round up of rarities in Britain on July 6 included a Slavonian Grebe at Pitsford Reservoir near Northampton and a Red-necked Grebe in south Yorkshire (both in summer plumage)

Shearwaters: This week brought an extraordinary number of Cory's Shearwater to the south west tip of Cornwall. 800 were reported off Gwennap Head (the southern tip of the Lands End area) on July 6 with 60 there on July 7 and 125 on July 8. Among them were at least three Great Shearwaters and at least 14 Sooty Shearwaters. More normal was a count of 1012 Manx Shearwater off Start Point in Devon but the peak count of Balearic Shearwaters was just 8 in the Weymouth area

Petrels: One Wilson's Storm Petrel was still off Gwennap Heap on July 8 when 18 Storm Petels were caught and ringed

Night Heron (aka Black-crowned Night Heron): Two of these were in the Kent Stour Valley (occasionally making their strange croaking sounds) from June 29 to July 3 at least.

Cattle Egret: Lee Evans reported one in Yorkshire on July 6

Little Egret: This week has brought several reports indicating that there are more breeding colonies along the south coast than I was previously aware of and juveniles have been appearing at several coastal sites away from their nests (including Christchurch Harbour, the Lower Test near Southampton, Hook/Warsash, Pagham Harbour, Arlington Reservoir in the Cuckmere valley and Weir Wood Reservoir near Crowborough). Still no local reports of juveniles in Langstone or Chichester Harbours.

Great White Egret: One was still at Dungeness on July 7 and another was at Pitsford Reservoir near Northampton on July 6

White Stork: One reported at a farm on the northern edge of Dartmoor on both July 5 and 6

Spoonbill: One flew east over the Lymington marshes on July 5 and a flock of 8 were present on Sheppey in Kent on July 3

Marbled Duck: Last week I reported one seen at Arlington Reservoir in Sussex on July 3 as an escapee but it was still there on July 7 and classed by Lee Evans as a genuine wild bird (which tallies with its unringed and fully feathered state) and it may have come from Spain or further afield (earlier this year a flock of 40,000 was seen in Iraq). Sadly the bird at Arlington is thought to have an injured leg.

Red Crested Pochard: A single bird of unknown origin was on a small New Forest pond (just south of Burley) on July 5 and this could, like the Marbled Duck, be a genuine wild bird from southern Europe but is much more likely to be an escape

Red-breasted Merganser: A single female was seen in Pagham Harbour on both July 6 and 7

Marsh Harrier: The first confirmation that these have bred at Radipole (Weymouth) came with news that the first of what is thought to be several chicks fledged there on July 7. Young in another nest at Lodmoor (where the first pair to breed in Dorset for at least 50 years did so in 2009) are expected to fledge soon.

Peregrine: A juvenile hunting over Pagham Harbour on July 7 was probably one of the young from Chichester Cathedral. This week has also brought new of three young fledging from the nest on Shoreham Power Station chimney and of at least 2 young having fledged from the nest on the Sussex Heights tower block in Brighton

Common Crane: One flew over the Burgess Hill area in Sussex on July 3

Black-winged Stilt: One reported by Lee Evans to be in Suffolk on July 6

Golden Plover: The first returning breeding birds were in north Kent on June 30 and another single bird in summer plumage was seen at Reculver on July 5

Pacific Golden Plover: Two were reported in Northen Ireland on July 6

Lapwing: 30 were back at Pulborough Brooks on July 8

Dunlin: After seeing one at Christchurch Harbour on June 27 there were 6 there on July 3

Black-tailed Godwit: 30+ were at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool on July 6 and 7. There is no evidence that these had returned from Iceland but two birds at Pulborough Brooks on July 8 had probably come from the north.

Redshank: 5 on the Langstone village shore on July 6 where probably the first back there

Green Sandpiper: On July 5 there were 10 returning birds at the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton and on July 8 Pulborough Brooks had 6

Common Sandpiper: A flock of 13 were back at the Otter estuary in Devon on July 2 and 6 were at Swanage on July 7 with another 2 on the Lymington shore. I heard my first on the Langstone shoreline on July 9

Skuas: A good mixed bag of these streaming down channel this week starting with Poms (one off Selsey Bill and three off Portland with another three off Devon and ten passing Gwennap Head south of Lands End). Not so many Arctics and just two Long-tailed (passing Christchurch Harbour and Abbotsbury). Bonxies were mostly seen from Cornwall (nine off Gwennap Head on July 6 and ten there on July 8 with one off Portland on July 7 when Gwennap had three)

Gulls: A single Little Gull remained in the Hook/Warsash area and Fleet Pond had a single Yellow-legged which rested a while after arriving from the north. The first returning Common Gull was on the Langstone shore on July 6 and if these numbers give the impression that there were few gulls in the English channel July 8 brought a count of 2868 Lesser Blackbacks off the Netherlands

Terns: These are already starting to move west down the English Channel with around 30 Common passing Christchurch Harbour on July 2 and 4 (then 1316 off the Netherlands on July 8). Three Roseate were with them on July 7 (one at Dungeness and to at Lodmoor) and three Little were seen on July 5 (two at Exmouth and one at Christchurch Harbour). A flock of 241 Black Terns plus 2 White-winged were off the Netherlands on July 7.

Swifts: After a dearth of these until the end of June good numbers have been seen recently (I suspect non-breeding birds). On July 3 Dungeness had 30 over and on July 5 a flock of 300 were over Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester. Smaller groups seen locally were of around 20 over Nore Down at West Marden, 20+ over Emsworth and 7 over Sandy Point on Hayling. Not local was a single Alpine Swift over Lincolnshire on July 6

Kingfisher: One post breeding bird was at Eastleigh Lakeside on July 6

Woodlark: Of local interest there was a sighting on July 3 of Woodlarks which normally breed in the East Park of the Stansted estate

Sand Martin: Night roosts of passage birds have been seen in the Thurlestone Bay area (south west Devon) since July 5 (200+ birds). On July 5 what was presumably a pre-roost flock of around 400 birds was seen resting on a sand bank out in the bay.

Swallow: These are also night roosting at Thurlestone with a count of 850+ on July 3

House Martin: Swifts have ceased to nest in the Havant area this year but a few House Martins still do so. I have a couple of pairs feeding over my garden almost every day and this week I found one nest on a house just across the old rail line that borders my garden - earlier in the week some 15 nests had been found in Westbourne village just across the Sussex boundary.

Western Bonelli's Warbler: This contender for the week's top rarity was singing in Debyshire this week

Lesser Grey Shrike: One in Pembrokeshire this week was the other contender for the top spot when it became species number 383 on Lee Evans year list for the birds of Britain and Ireland

Chough: At least four pairs have nested in Cornwall this year and have produced 15 fledged young

Jackdaw: A major corvid night roost at Weston Shore on the east shore of Southampton Water is already in autumn mode and holding 110 Jackdaws and 310 Carrion Crows

Crossbill: The pace of this year's Crossbill irruption into Britain seems to be increasing. On July 5 Sandy Point on Hayling had a group of 15 passing north and on July 8 flock of 94 were seen in Yorkshire - the latter report may be the first sign of the small groups that have been arriving daily since mid-March forming major flocks.


(Skip to Plants)


Southern Hawker: The first of these were out at the Lower Test reserve near Southampton as early as May 24 but it is only now that they are beginning to appear in numbers

Lesser Emperor: This rare migrant from the south was first seen at Lands End on June 3 and it was not until July 5 that a second individual turned up at Dungeness

Norfolk Hawker: This species is normally restricted to East Anglia but the very first to head south over the Thames estuary was in the Kent Stour valley from June 4 to 8 and on July 1 one was seen at Sandwich Bay

Ruddy Darter: These started to appear on June 28 and by July 3 were being reported in 'hundreds'

Red-veined Darter: This vagrant from the south started to form colonies in Britain in 1995 and this year the first was seen in Staffordshire on July 4

Southern Emerald Damselfly (Lestes bararus): After one or two exuvia were found on Sheppey last year the first live resident specimens were found in Kent on June 30 and ten were still present on July 3. The species had been known as a migrant since 2002

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Lestes viridis): This has only appeared in Britain in any numbers since 2009 when it was only found in and around Essex but in 2010 it extended its range to appear in Kent - so far this year it has only been seen in Suffolk

White-legged Damselfly: Seen near Horsham on July 1 after first appearing in Gloucester on May 1

Small Red-eyed Damsel: This was not known in Britain until 1999 but has now spread rapidly and can be found at may sites in southern England. It was reported at two sites in Kent on July 5 and 6

Dainty Damselfly: This was regularly seen in Essex from 1946 to 1952 but was exterminated by the winter floods at the start of 1953. It re-appeared on Sheppey in Kent in 2010 and can now be found at several sites along the River Swale (though only one has public access)


Noteworthy reports:

Chalkhill Blue: first two reports for the year came from Chantry Hill (Sussex Downs above Storrington) on July 5 and from Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester on July 6. These were preceded by what I thought might be a slightly dubious report from the Friston Forest area on June 30

Purple Emperor: This seems to be being reported from more sites than usual this year - I have seen reports from 22 separate woodlands, local ones being Stansted Forest, Creech Woods at Denmead and Huntbourn Woods near Newtown in the Meon Valley while the Botley Woods between Wickham and Fareham have produced three separate reports (the last being on July 5 when one landed on Ashley Whitlock's hand and stayed there for 30 minutes)

Dark Green Fritillary: This species seems to be having a good year after emerging on June 1 and producing a report of more than 200 in the Friston Forest area near Eastbourne (June 23) and and 40+ on the Downs above Worthing (June 26 and July 3). Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley had at least 14 on July 3 but the only report from Portsdown so far has been of just 3 (also seen on July 3)

Species flying this week:

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Lage Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Silver-studded Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet.


Swallow-tailed Moth: Durlston reported the first for the year on July 5

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: The pace of arrival of these migrants seems to be speeding up with ten reports this week, six of them being of more than one insect peaking with a sighting of 9 at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley on July 3

Other Insects

Scaeva pyrastri: First report of this eye-catching black and white Hoverfly comes from Rye Harbour on July 4. Look out for them hovering just above head height in woodland from now on.

Ant mating flight: First and so far only report of this phenomenon comes on July 2 from the Clennon Valley which runs inland from Torbay in Devon.

Leaf-cutter Bee: When I was at Sandy Point (Hayling Island) on July 4 my eye was caught by a long thin Iris-type leaf suddenly vibrating for no apparent reason but a closer look showed a neat circular piece of leaf had been removed and the vibration was presumably caused by the reduction in weight as the bee took off with its circular 'door' to be used in sealing up its nest chamber


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Wild Cabbage: Reported as flowering on the cliffs at Durlston on July 8 - this plant grows on chalk or limestone cliffs and so is found in Dorset and the Isle of Wight but not in Hampshire (though it has in the past been found on the cliffs of the Paulsgrove chalk pit at Portsdown Hill, but not, I think, since 1978)

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima): Found flowering on July 4 around Black Point at the mouth of Chichester Harbour

Saltwort: Just one plant seen on the sand at Black Point on July 4 (not in flower)

Spanish Gorse: Several bushes in full flower at Black Point on July 4

Dwarf Gorse: Just starting to flower in the old Hospital Grounds near the Sandy Point Lifeboat Station on July 4

Rough Clover: Also flowering in the sand near the Hayling Lifeboat Station on July 4

Cherry Plum: Ripe fruit now being shaken from several trees by recent high winds

Stone Parsley: Said to be flowering at Durlston on July 5 - here in Havant flowers had begun to appear on July 6 but none were open and showing white petals

Pepper Saxifrage: Durlston reported this was flowering on July 5

Sea Holly: The first flowers were found on July 1 in the Gunner Point sand dunes on Hayling Island

Sea Knotgrass: A few years ago several hundred plants could be seen on the shingle along the west side of the Chichester Harbour entrance but on July 4 this year I only saw a couple of plants to the north of the Lifeboat Station - I think all those south of it had been covered by shingle piled on the beach to act as an increased flood defence for the area and we ill have to wait and see if this tough plant pushes up through the shingle.

Alkanet (Anchusa officinalis): Plants of this species (not to be confused with the common Green Alkanet) were flowering at Black Point on Hayling on July 4

Round-headed Rampion: I think the first reported find of this at Nore Down (West Marden) on July 2 was omitted from last week's summary

Ploughman's Spikenard: First report of this in flower comes from Durlston on July 8

Hemp Agrimony: This has been showing pink flowerheads for some time but I did not see or hear of it with open flowers until July 6

Prickly Lettuce: The first flowers for the year were seen in Havant on July 6

Stinking Hawksbeard: This close to extinction plant had produced around 2000 flowers at Dungeness last year after being given care and attention but this year the period of dry weather reduced the number of surviving plants to just 229


White-beaked Dolphin: Two off Lands End on July 6 were the first I have heard of in southern waters this year. The species is common in nothern waters of the Atlantic and is most numerous in British waters at this time of year but rarely comes south of Yorkshire in the North Sea or Northern Ireland in the west. The species grows to a little over 8 feet long and has a tall sickle shaped dorsal fin

Harbour Porpoise: A pod of 8 were also off Lands End this week and two more were seen off south Devon

Sunfish: One seen on July 6 off Rame Head (easternmost point of the Cornish south coast near Plymouth)

Hedgehog: A chance encounter with a neighbour in Havant on July 9 gave me the good news that the neighbour has a family of three well grown Hedgehogs in his garden which come to catfood put out for them each night

Water Vole: With dense vegetation along the banks of watercourses which have not recently been cut sightings of Water Voles are currently difficult to get but the RSPB warden at Elmley Marshes in Sheppey (Kent) identifed the first he knew of for several months on his reserve this week by the sound of its munching.

Wildlife diary and news for June 27 - July 3 (Week 26 of 2011)

(Skip to previous week)

Late News

First Goosander family at Christchurch Harbour: Two ducklings and a parent appeared in the harbour on July 2, presumably having swum down stream from a nest in either the Avon or the Stour. A female with 9 ducklings had been seen on the Exe estuary as early as June 19

Dorset Bird News reports that there were 45 Spotted Redshanks at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on July 2 (all in summer plumage) but I have no confirmation that this is not a misprint for a more likely figure or '4 or 5'

Here in Havant on July 3 I was surprised to hear the menacing chuckles of a pair of adult Herring Gulls which seemed to have taken over the rooftop of the house opposite mine. While these gulls fly over daily I have never seen them land on houses here - maybe next year they will be back to nest and to fill our ears with sounds to replace those of the Swifts that have ceased to breed this year (I would much prefer the Swifts!)

The British Dragonfly Society reports a mass emergence of Common Darter dragonflies in Essex on July 1 and the appearance of the first Black Darters at Thursley (Surrey) on June 30 - perhaps the latter are now out in the New Forest?

George Spraggs has a photo of a smart Gold Triangle moth, caught in Hayling West Town area on July 2, on his blog at http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm - below it is the colourful Orache Moth which he caught the previous night

Also on July 2 Graeme Lyons went to Beachy Head to search for a very small plant which hides in short turf disguised as Dwarf Spurge (only the leaves look similar, not the flowers!). He did not find the plant but did make me aware of a species which has only two sites in mainland Britain (Beachy Head and south Devon). The plant in question is Small Hare's-ear (Bupleurumn baldense) which flowers earlier than its 'common' relative (Slender Hare's-ear). To get an idea of its size see http://www.ukwildflowers.com/Web_pages/bupleurum_baldense_small_hares_ear.htm

Round-headed Rampion: This attractive dowland speciality was seen on Nore Down near West Warden (north of Stansted Forest) for the first time during the Havant Wildlife Group outing on July 2


(Skip to Insects)

Black-necked Grebe: These have been known to breed in Hampshire but while there is not hint of that this year there have been three sightings off the Netherlands this week plus one (an adult in summer plumage) on the north Kent coast at the Oare Marshes near Faversham on June 30

Storm Petrel: These have been appearing for some time off the West Country and as far up channel at Selsey but I was surprised on July 1 to see that one had been seen off Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast

Night Heron: On June 19 one turned up in Hertfordshire and on June 29 one caused great excitement to Kent birders by turning up in the Stour Valley east of Canterbury

Little Egret: Reports of increasing numbers at several sites where these do not breed seems to show that post breeding dispersal is now under way. On July 1 the number at Weir Wood near Crowborough had shot up to 17 (from 4 on June 23) while the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton suddenly acquired 14 Egrets and Christchurch Harbour had 23. On July 2 Weston Shore on Southampton Water had 12 which had not been there in June. There is no clear evidence of more birds in the Solent Harbours but at Langstone Pond the young have mostly left their nests for lower perches around the edge of the water.

Glossy Ibis: One spent the day on June 27 in the Kent Stour Valley but does not seem to have been seen anywhere before or after.

Brent Goose: Still no reports of summering birds in Langstone Harbour but one was seen in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour on June 19 - in recent years I have come to expect at least half a dozen to stay in Langstone and probably around a dozen in Chichester Harbour. At Hook (Warsash) it seems that one of last year's young has stayed on (though it shows no sign of injury) while in Devon the Exe estuary is hosting singles of both Dark and Pael-bellied birds

Garganey: The number of sightings has dropped off as the males loose their flight feathers but two males were seen in the Warsash area on June 24

Eider: The flock of around 2000 Eiders which is moulting on the sea off Murcar golf course (just north of Aberdeen) continues to attract other birds (Common and Velvet Scoters plus rarer Surf Scoters) including a second north American rarity to add to the White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi) that was reported last week - this time it is a Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)

Hen Harrier: A ringtail was an unexpected sight over Beaulieu Heath in the New Forest on June 30

Osprey: Another sign of an 'early autumn' is an Osprey back on the south coast - one has been fishing at Christchurch Harbour daily from June 27 to July 1 at least. Other June Ospreys have been seen at Weir Wood in north Sussex on June 1 with a gap in sightings until June 21 when singles were seen on the Test near Romsey and at Lodmoor on the coast at Weymouth

Peregrine: On June 29 an adult was still taking food to its nest on the cliff of Paulsgrove Chalk Pit at Portsmouth while on June 30 one of the young in the Chichester Cathedral next was flying well enough to chase off a Kestrel which drifted into the local airspace

Quail: Heard at 11 different sites across Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex (plus one in Cornwall) between June 19 to July 1

Stone Curlew: One seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on July 1 seems to have been a very early departure (maybe it had encountered disturbance at its breeding site?)

Lapwing: The first to return to the Langstone village shore was seen by me on June 29 but there were already 51 back at Christchurch Harbour that same day

Temminck's Stint: On June 26 singles were in Norfolk and Orkney and a Pectoral Sandpiper was also in Norfolk to start the summer 'vagrant' season

Ruff: Unlike the Phalaropes it is the Reeves (female Ruffs) which stay on in the north to rear the young so it is normal for males to start to return to southern England around now and males have been seen in the Kent Stour valley on June 28 and at the Oare Marshes near Faversham on June 29 and 30

Black-tailed Godwit: A good number of non-breeding birds stay with us through the summer but a report of 11 birds in summer plumage at Pulborough Brooks on June 29 (where I have not heard of any summering birds) suggests that some are starting to return from Iceland (perhaps having suffered from volcanic disturbance to their breeding?)

Spotted Redshank: Elmley Marshes on Sheppey had already seen a 'flock' of 8 returning birds last week and Brownsea in Poole Harbour had reported two birds there in June 29 but there was nothing to hint at the flock of 45 birds reported to be back there on July 2

Redshank: A flock of 40+ were at the Exe estuary in Devon on June 27. Greenshank and Whimbrel are also now returning to the south coast

Green Sandpiper: Reports this week show that this species is now present throughout southern England and that numbers are increasing at seveal sites - Pulborough Brooks had 12 on July 1 and Rye Harbour had 15 on July 2 while one Netherlands site had 73 as early as June 27

Wood Sandpiper: Present at five southern sites this week with three together at Pulborough Brooks on June 28

Common Sandpiper: Returning birds can be seen at many sites with six together at Christchurch Harbour on June 27 and 5 at West Bexington north of Weymouth on July 1

Med Gull: These are just coming to the end of a very successful breeding season in which a not inconsiderable part of the success is due to the parent birds' ability to take chicks from the nests of other gull species in order to feed their own young. Newly fledged young were seen in both Christchurch and Pagham Harbours on June 28 and the families are already moving away from coastal breeding sites - Med Gulls may find the safety of harbour waters desireable for their night roosts but they always prefer to spend their days (when not tied to nests) on field away from the water, either following the plough during spring and autumn ploughing or catching insects on hot summer days. Even when not with their parents it is possible to distinguish their juveniles from those of Black Headed Gulls by their plumage - Black Headed have bright gingery patches of juvenile plumage where the young Meds are greyish.

Laughing Gull: The first to be reported around British coasts this year was on the Lothian coast in Scotland on June 29

Black-headed Gull: These, along with Little, Common and Sandwich Terns, have had a disastrous breeding season on the RSPB reserve islands in Langstone Harbour thanks to high tides in May which washed out nests built to low on the shoreline plus predation of their chicks by both the Med Gulls and Foxes. Those which nested at the Hayling Oysterbeds were more succcessful, as I think were those based in Pagham Harbour where juveniles began to fledge by June 28 - other juveniles were seen on June 30 by the River Itchen in Southampton and at Bishopstoke on the R Avon the other side of Southampton.

Glaucous Gull: The first winter bird which was at Dungeness last winter is still there on July 1

Sandwich Tern: At Rye Harbour, as in Langstone Harbour, the terns have lost the majority of their chicks to Mediterranean Gulls

Roseate Tern: These have been seen recently at Rye Harbour, Dungeness, Lodmoor and Portland

Little Tern: Just one chick remains this week to reward the efforts of all 50+ pairs that tried to nest in Langstone Harbour this year. I have so far been unable to find out what success the colony has had on the Chesil Bank at Weymouth where round the clock volunteers have been protecting the nests of 17 pairs of Little Terns - even they had failed to stop one Hedgehog getting through and eating one clutch of eggs when the first 10 chick hatched on on June 13

Rose-ringed or Ring-necked Parakeet: Just two sightings in Hampshire this year, both on June 27 when what may have been the same bird was seen at both Eastleigh and Lymington (I see there had been one earlier sighting at Lymington on Feb 3)

Swift: A sudden surge of these birds (probably weather induced) brought a report of 8098 of them passing over Spurn Point in Yorkshire on June 27, and on June 28, just after a belt of heavy rain had passed over my house (and most of England!), I saw my very first two Swifts of the year (probably benefitting from flying insects sucked up by the rainbelt). On the following day (after the weather had moved east) Sandwich Bay reported 800 Swifts overhead

Alpine Swift: At least three of these were among the thousands of Common Swifts over Spurn Point on June 27

Wryneck: A sighting of one on Fair Isle on July 1 may have been a precursor of others travelling south.

Sand Martin: Several reports now indicate that some of these have finished their breeding season and are already heading south while from south Devon comes the first report on July 1 of more than 500 entering a night roost on the coast at Thurlstone Bay

Yellow Wagtail: Another species showing the first signs of autumn passage - on June 27 a few flew over Dungeness and others were seen at Durlston

Common Redstart: Singles at Pulborough Brooks on June 29 and at both Christchurch Harbour and south Devon on June 30 were seemingly heading south

Dartford Warbler: One seen at Portland on June 30 appeared to be a dispersing juvenile

Carrion Crow: The large flock which seems to be present year round at Weston Shore on the east bank of Southampton Water had increased from around 150 to around 250 by July 2 - presumably joined by newly fledged young and their parents now relieved of domestic duties

Starling: A report last week from the Hastings area said that autumn flocks were assembling early this year and this week a report from south Devon on July 1 is of the first autumn reedbed night roost

Crossbill: These have been pouring into this country in small family groups since the start of March (if not earlier) and this week two reports show that Hampshire and West Sussex are immune from these movements. On June 23 one was seen flying south along the River Hamble at Curbridge near Botley and on June 30 a family of four dropped in briefly at the Arundel Wildfowl reserve before flying on north

Corn Bunting: I think numbers in the south of England may be increasing - they do not seem to be endangered in Sussex but it seemed likely that they might soon cease to breed there. This year shows encouraging news of birds singing in the Martin Down area now (June 30) and in early April, at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on May 21, and at Danebury Hill near Stockbridge on May 31 and June 11

Foreign Birds: I have created this new 'species' under which to record the many fascinating species pictured by Steve Copsey on the Three Amigos website during his world tour on board HMS York. You too can enjoy Steve's pictures by following http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo

Vagrants: The latest addition to the Scoter/Eider flock on the sea of Aberdeen ( the American Black Scoter ) was still present on July 1


(Skip to Plants)


Southern Migrant Hawker: The Migrant Hawker which we see every year in numbers is at least partially resident here but this week I have come across a new Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) which is an uncommon migrant starting to appear on our shores (one seen in Essex on June 29). It looks similar to the Migrant Hawker but has a distinct bluer tinge to its colouration - for pictures and details see http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/species/southern-migrant-hawker (the first photo is of one seen by the River Adur when the species first reached Britain in 2006

Norfolk Hawker: This species is supposedly resricted to Norfolk and Suffolk but this summer one was reported to have been in the Kent Stour Valley from June 4 to 8 at least

Ruddy Darter: The first report came from Oare Marshes in Kent on June 28 and on June 29 more than five were seen in Essex (since then the first Black Darters have been seen on June 30 at Thursley in Surrey)

Common Darter: Dungeness had the first sighting on June 24 and since then a mass emergence in Essex has been reported on July 1 (White-faced Darters were seen in Cumbria on June 27)

Emerald Damsel (Lestes sponsa): The first report came from Graeme Lyons at Graffham in West Sussex on June 24

Southern Emerald Damsel (Lestes barbarus): Two migrants were reported in North Kent on June 30

Small Red-eyed Damsel: More than 28 were seen at an Essex site on June 27 - this species first reach Britan in 1999 and can now be found throughout most of England (including Farlington Marshes and Hayling Island)

Dainty Damsel: Last year the only evidence of its presence in Britain were one or more exuvia found on Sheppey. This year on live specimen was found there on June 19 and 2 were present on June 30


Notable reports have been ...

Wood White: Second brood had emerged at Botany Bay in Surrey on June 27

Small Copper: Summer brood have been seen since June 14

Holly Blue: Three sightings of summer brood insects reported on June 26 (and I have seen them in Havant on July 1 and 3)

Purple Emperor: First seems to have been at Bentley Wood (west of Stockbridge) on June 24 and I have now seen reports of them at 11 sites. One interesting find was of a 'small, battered specimen trapped inside the window of an office in the Aldershot area'

Large Tortoiseshell: One reported in Cornwall on June 28

Dark Green fritillary: apparently having a great season with one report of more than 200 in the Friston Forest area north of Eastbourne on June 23 and another of more then 40 in the Worthing area on June 26

Wall Brown: An isolated report of one in the Southwater Country Park at Horsham on June 26 was presumably an early emerge of the summer brood as the first brood have not been seen since June 1

Species on the wing this week have been ...

Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Wood White, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Common Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Large Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet.


The Lappet: This strangely shaped moth has been photographed by George Spraggs and and be found on his website at http://www.bird-watching.co.uk/blog.htm though I think the moth was actually caught by Simon Wright elsewhere on south Hayling on June 28

July Belle: An early report of this from Dungeness on June 14

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Along with many other migrants arriving this week there has been a surge in these with a total of 23 reports this week (one from Southwater Country Park at Horsham on June 29 being of more than ten moths seen there in a two hour period). Local sightings around Havant have included one in a Denmead garden on June 26, one on Thorney Island that day, three moths seen in Kingley Vale on June 30 and one at The Kench on Hayling on July 1

Orache Moth: Another colourful moth which you can see on George Spraggs' website

Other Insects

Amblyteles armatorius: This is probably the name of a large black and yellow Ichneumon which landed in my garden on July 1

Stag Beetle: After finding one in Havant on May 21 and hearing of one in Henfield on May 31 the only other report I have come across is also from the Henfield area on June 26 but is a report of finding bits of a Stag Beetle on the ground - I have watched one being devoured by a Magpie in the past.

Great Green Bush Cricket: A sighting of one on Portsdown on June 29 was hopefully of the first fully adult insect


(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Water Cress: The first flowers that I know of for this species were seen on June 30

Hairy St John's Wort: First flowers foundby Brian Fellows at Nore Down near West Marden on June 24

Slender St John's Wort: First flower in Havant Thicket on June 27

Rock Sea Spurrey (Spergularia rupicola): Brian Fellows found this on Sinah Common (Hayling Island) on July 1 and if correct it would be a great find for Hayling but I think the plants will need expert examination before they can be accepted as the only previous records of the species anywhere in Hampshire east of Southampton Water have been at Portchester and the differences between species are not easy to determine.

Bastard Toadflax: This seems to having a good year and has by now been found in perhaps half a dozen places on Portsdown and also on the Sussex Downs at Kingley Vale this week

Wild Liquorice: This 'new to me' plant was found flowering in the Arun valley (near Bury) by Graeme Lyons on June 28 and his picture of it can be seen at http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-d8IvEoHRJc0/Tgi1kZtnh9I/AAAAAAAABgM/MNMFRehOOT4/s1600/Henbane+053.JPG

White Melilot: First flowers seen at Broadmarsh in Havant on June 30

Spear-leaved Willowherb: This is a rare Willowherb in Hampshire (the distribution map in the Hants Flora show just 10 locations for it) and although there was a find in the Sinah area of Hayling Island in 1969 I do not expect to find it there today. On June 28 however Graeme Lyons did find some plants near Stedham in Sussex but only managed to photograph one leaf of the plant (during a thunderstorm!)

Upright Hedge Parsley: I think this 'last of the series' Cow Parlsey is about to appear and I found one example of it at Broadmarsh on June 30 which I can't claim as a first having already claimed an odd very early plant on Hayling on May 30

Wild Parsnip: The first plant I have seen this year was in the process of unfurling its yellow flowers on Portsdown on June 29

Sea Holly: First flowers found by Brian Fellows in the Gunner Point sand dunes on Hayling on July 1

Henbane: Flowering in West Sussex on 28 June - found by Graeme Lyons

Wild Basil: Flowering on Portsdown on June 29

Skullcap: First flowers found by Brian Fellows on the wall of the stream flowing alongside Lumley Road at Emsworth on June 29

Betony: Flowering on Portsdown on June 29

Sticky Groundsel: Flowering in a Havant garden on July 2

Golden Samphire: First flowers seen near Farlington Marshes on June 30 and more seen at The Kench next day

Shasta Daisy: First flowers at Broadmarsh on June 30

Cotton Thistle: Flowering in a Westbourne garden on June 28 and probably occurring as a garden escape elsewhere locally


Serotine Bat: On the evening of June 27 Nik Knight took his bat detector into the fields east of Langstone Mill Pond and north of Langstone High Street and that both Serotines and Noctules as well as Pipistrelles were active there. Over at Arundel a Hobby was seen chasing, but not catching, a Noctule

Marsh Frog: Birders at Swalecliffe on the north Kent coast heard Marsh Frogs on June 14 and I suspect they have been calling in several places in Kent and in the New Forest on recent warm nights

Grass Snake: A Mallard dosing beside the water at Titchfield Haven this week suddenly hurled itself into the water and a nearby Moorhen led its chicks away to safety when a Grass Snake suddenly appeared where the Mallard had been sleeping.

Sun Fish: These strangely shaped large fish which swim like a large dinner plate balanced on its rim have started to appear in our water with reports of them from the Scillies on June 20 and from Durlston on July 1 (for a photo see http://www.whitewatercharters.co.uk/images/sunfish/sunfish-100-l.jpg ). Also seen at Durlston this week have been Smooth-hound Sharks, Gurnard, Undulate and Cuckoo Rays, Tope (another small shark species), Bass, Mackerel, Garfish, Tub Gurnard and Black Bream.

Basking Shark: More than 8 of these were seen off Lands End on June 28 with others present around the Scillies

Turtles and Alligators in Florida: Among Steve Copsey's photos taken in the Florida Everglades and appearing on the Three Amigos blog this week are images of Alligators plus Florida Softshell and Florida Red-bellied Turtles (see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/21018/Everglades+National+Park+-+Alligators+and+Turtles%2C+.html )

Fungi: Still no great outburst but I did see the first of the large boletes in Havant Thicket on June 27 (possibly a Brown Birch Bolete and definitely a Leccinum species by the black flecking on its stem) and also during the week I came on two examples of the edible Agaricus bitorquis which likes to grow in dusty and gravelly soil.

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