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Wildlife diary and news for Dec 28 - Jan 3 (Week 52 of 2009)

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For those interested in the outcome of the many New Year's Day bird listing expeditions I can tell you that in Hampshire the top score was an excellent 116 species found in the south west of the county by a team headed by Simon Ingram and visiting the Beaulieu area of the New Forest, then the Lymington marshes, several woodland sites in the New Forest plus the Blashford Lakes. Steve Piggott's team operated in the same general area and managed 110 while Dave Ryves from Burridge clocked up 97 although he sensibly had a leisurely breakfast at home and only headed west when the sun was up.

Here in Havant a total of 73 species were seen, the main contributors being the Havant Wildlife Group (who had a massive turn out of people) and found 53 species with the remaining 20 being added by 15 species on my own list of 59 (see my diary entry for Jan 1) and 5 more contributed by three other individuals in the area

BIRDS

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Divers: A Dutch site reported a count of 680 mixed divers off shore. In England 50 Red-throated went past the north Kent coast on Dec 29 after 22 had been seen passing Portland on Dec 28 while more than 70 went past Worthing on Jan 1 - a single oiled bird was at Frensham Little Pond on Dec 31 but had died by Jan 2. Very few Black-throated reported (just one in Portland Harbour this week and 3 past Selsey Bill on Dec 31) but plenty of Great Northern with 5 in Portland Harbour on Dec 30 and at least five in the Southampton Water area

Great Crested Grebe: The flock on the sea off Bournemouth numbered 130 on Dec 28 while there were 155 off Brownwich Cliffs in the Titchfield Haven area on Dec 30. Reports from three Dutch sites on Dec 29 were of 8271, 2381 and 1730 birds respectively. On the sea off Bournemouth the flock increased from 175 just before Christmas to 250 on Jan 2

Red-necked Grebe: One was in Portland Harbour on Dec 27 and Dec 30 with another passing Worthing on Dec 27 and in Southampton Water on Dec 30

Slavonian Grebe: More than 5 were off Pagham Harbour on Jan 2

Black-necked Grebe: The flock in Studland Bay was up to 23 on Dec 27 and a smaller flock had grown to 6 birds in Portland Harbour by Dec 30. Singles were seen off Eling (north end of Southampton Water) on Dec 27 and at Dungeness on Dec 28. One was in the Blashford Lakes area on Jan 1

Fulmar: Six seen around Gore Cliffs at St Catherine's Point (IoW) on Dec 28 were said to be back at their breeding site earlier than usual (no evidence of nesting so far)

Cormorant: The only one which I saw on New Year's Day at Budds Farm in Havant had the full white roundels of breeding plumage on its 'thighs' but no grey judge's wig

Bittern: In addition to the 'usual suspects' there were singles at Woolmer Pond near Alton in Jan 1 and at Ivy Lake in Chichester on Jan 2

Cattle Egret: The Winkton village bird in the Avon valley just north of Christchurch was seen there on Jan 1

Great White Egret: The Blashford Lakes bird is being seen more regularly in the Blashford area though still favouring the River Avon rather than the lakes. A new bird was at Sandwich Bay on Dec 26 and 27 and two that I have not heard of before are reported by Lee Evans as based at Pitsford reservoir (just north of Northampton). Locally one has been showing on the south Hayling Sinah gravel pit lake (reported on Jan 1 and 3)

Spoonbill: All reports this week are from Dorset with a peak of 13 in Poole Harbour on Jan 1

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge was 240 on Dec 30 (after 314 on Dec 26) but many are still moving around in southern England - e.g. 36 on the Arun at Burpham near Arundel on Dec 26, 21 at Pulborough Brooks on Dec 28 and 15 further up the Arun near Horsham that same day. The number at Ibsley near Ringwood seems to be constant this week at 14 birds. On Jan 2 there were 27 in the R Adur at Rye Farm in the Henfield area

Whooper Swan: A group of 4 were reported over the Solent south of Lymington on Dec 27 and may have flown east as 4 were seen going east past Worthing on Dec 28

White-front Goose: Slimbridge had more than 250 on Dec 29 and Pett Level by Rye Bay had its first of the winter with 8 there on Dec 27. Over in Holland there were 1410 at Margarethapolder on Dec 29

Red-breasted Goose: Still at Topsham on the Exe estuary on Dec 28

Pintail: The first two of the winter were off the Emsworth west shore on Dec 27 and one was at Titchfield Haven on Dec 28 while Slimbridge had 200 on Dec 29 and 30. John Clark found a total of 600 at three sites in the Avon valley south of Ringwood on Dec 31

Velvet Scoter: 3 are reported to have flow past Southsea Castle on Dec 31

Hooded Merganser: One reported at Radipole (Weymouth) on Jan 1 was presumably the permanent resident there which has long dropped out of the news of 'rare birds'

Smew: Six females were at Dungeness RSPB on Dec 17 and stayed to Dec 28 at least but elsewhere in the British Isles Abberton reservoir (south of Colchester in Essex) had 4 by Jan 2 and Paxton Pits near Bedford had 6 on Jan 2

Red-breasted Merganser: Marcus Ward saw 42 at a night roost site close to Lymington on Dec 27 and on Jan 1 the males in a group of around 20 off the Langstone South Moors shore were actively displaying.

Goosander: Following John Clark's count of 81 roosting at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 20 Bob Chapman counted 69 leaving the roost on the morning of Dec 27 but admits that some had already left before he arrived. On Dec 31 John Clark found 102 there (including 36 males). On Dec 28 Peter Gammage saw one fly over the Sinah gravel pit lake on Hayling and saw it appear to and in Langstone Harbour

Rough-legged Buzzard: Claims to have seen one in Hampshire are always treated with suspicion Common Buzzard plumage is very variable) but John Clark has received at least two seemingly valid reports of one in the Appleshaw area near Andover, the latest being on Jan 2.

Avocet: On Dec 27 there were 10 in Nutbourne Bay (east of Emsworth) and on Dec 28 there were 3 at Titchfield Haven, 28 in Langstone Harbour west of Farlington Marshes and 21 in Pagham Harbour. By Jan 1 the number in the Nutbourne Bay/Thorney Channel area of Chichester Harbour was up to 15 on Jan 1, but the number wintering in Poole Bay may have diminished as only 350 were seen there on Jan 1 as against the report of 1000 at Brownsea Island on Dec 6

Golden Plover: A lot more have recently arrived on the south coast. In the Titchfield Haven area there were around 50 from Dec 13 to 28, increasing to 121 on Dec 30 and 200 on Dec 31. In the Adur valley 150 were near Henfield on Dec 26 and on Dec 27 60 were seen at Pett Level (with 2000 Lapwing) where the only previous report was of 120 on Nov 22

Sanderling: 43 were seen at Southsea Castle on Jan 2

Little Stint: One was in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on both Dec 31 and Jan 2

Purple Sandpiper: 13 were seen at Southsea Castle on Dec 31, the highest count there for this winter but not quite beating the 14 there on 14 Apr 2009

Long-billed Dowitcher: One was reported in the Carlisle area of Cumbria on Dec 29

Black-tailed Godwit: John Clark found more than 2650 in the Dorset area of the Avon Valley south of the Causeway on Dec 31

Green Sandpiper: On Jan 1 I unexpectedly found one in the Hermitage Stream just below the Wayfarer's Way footbridge at Bedhampton and another passing bird was seen in the Runcton residential area near the Chichester Lakes on Dec 28

Common Sandpiper: One was seen somewhere in the area between Langstone Village and Broadmarsh on New Year's Day

Spotted Sandpiper: No reports of the bird in the Test Valley since Dec xx but the one at Abberton Reservoir (south of Colchester in Esssex) was still there on Jan 2

Spotted Redshank: The Nore Barn bird on the shore west of Emsworth was still being seen there on Jan 3

Caspian Gull: The single adult at the Blashford Lakes was still there on Jan 1

Sandwich Tern: Two were still in Chichester Harbour seen from Black Point on Dec 28 and were seen again from the Chidham area on Jan 1 and near the harbour mouth on Jan 2

Auks: An estimated 10,000 (mainly Razorbills) were in the Portland area on Dec 27 as a mid-winter peak of seabirds developed

Barn Owl: One was seen hunting at dusk over the north-east field of Warblington Farm by several people in the days up to Dec 27 when Brian Fellows had close views of it and it has been seen again on Jan 1 and 3. For interest the field south of the A259 and west of the 'Selangor Ave' footpath is where the remains of an important Roman Villa were found though nothing can be seen of it nowdays. Another Barn Owl was seen at the Keyhaven Marshes (Lymington) on Jan 2

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Two reports of early drumming - one at Titchfield Haven on Dec 19 and now one on Southampton Common on Dec 28

Blackbird: One was in full song in Emsworth, heard by Brian Fellows, on Dec 29

Blackcap: The number of reports of these in gardens is rapidly increasing - on Dec 29 Brian Fellows had the first of the winter for his Emsworth garden while on Dec 30 a Lewes town garden had six of them

Goldcrest: Last week I reported hearing my first Goldcrest song for many months here in Havant on Dec 26 and I see another was singing in the western fringe of the New Forest on Dec 27

Firecrest: Three were present in the Sandy Point area of Hayling on Jan 2

Great Tit: An observer in Sussex saw a Great Tit aggressively pursuing an enfeebled Blue Tit on Dec 28 and wonders if it is true that Great Tits will kill smaller birds and eat their brains.

Great Grey Shrike: The cold weather has brought a few more into southern England including a newcomer to the New Forest seen near Turf Hill Inclosure (north of the Cadnam to Fordingbridge road in the Black Gutter Bottom area) on Dec 30 and another in the Aldershot area (though just in Surrey in the Ash Ranges area) on Dec 31. Another new report comes from Pett Level by Rye Bay on Dec 28 though this may be the bird seen in the Pannel Valley on Dec 10.

Magpie: On Dec 28 one was seen dashing 'Sparrowhawk like' though a garden near Wickham in the Meon valley in pursuit of a smaller bird - I am quite prepared to believe that Magpies will catch, kill and eat other birds if they get the chance

Escapees: A probable Lanner Falcon was seen in the Michelgrove area north of the Angmering estate (north of Worthing) on Dec 27

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

No significant reports this week but I noticed a cloud of tiny midges here in Havant during a brief warm intermission of the rain and my neighbours tell me they have been 'doing their bit to defend British Wildlife by hoovering up a large number of Harlequin Ladybirds found hibernating in their house - my reponse was that with billions of them estimated to be in Britain now one Hoover could not hold back the inevitable take over by these 'foreigners' which we will no doubt soon regard as residents

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The December flowering plant species count known to me still stands at 94 with no newly flowering species this week. A few plants can still be found in January but nothing worth reporting.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Common Seal: On Dec 28 the Rye Bay website reported that a Common Seal had swum just over 15 miles (25 Km) up the River Rother and one of its tributaries from the sea to the village of Benenden in Kent and was found out of the stream eating Goldfish from a garden pond

Wood Mouse: An unexpected sight on a Jan 1 bird list outing in the Brede area north of Hastings was a a Wood Mouse snuffling about out in the open - I rather suspect it was old and hungry and not long for this world

Fungi: On Dec 31 I found a few more black Earth Tongues (Trichoglossum hirsutum) had come up on my Havant garden lawn


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 21 - 27 (Week 51 of 2009)

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BIRDS

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Red-throated Diver: 100 off Dungeness on Dec 23

Black-throated Diver: One in Weymouth Bay over Christmas

Great Northern Diver: More than 4 in Portland Harbour on Dec 26 and singles off Pagham Harbour on Dec 20 then in the Hill Head/Hook/Puckpool area on Dec 24 with one in Studland Bay on Christmas Day

Great Crested Grebe: 175 on the sea off Bournemouth on Dec 23

Red Necked Grebe: 1 off Puckpool Point near Ryde (IoW) on Dec 24

Slavonian Grebe: 2 off Puckpool Point on Dec 24 when 1 was in Portland Harbour and 3 in Studland Bay

Black-necked Grebe: 20 in Studland Bay on Dec 21 and 24

Shag: First report of one carrying nest material at Durlston on Dec 27

Great White Egret: One seen at Shipstal Point in Poole Harbour on Dec 21 then several reports (all on Dec 26) of the expected bird back at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood - one of these reports was of the bird flying north west to pitch somewhere in the Avon valley. The previous report of the Blashford bird (on Dec 12) was also of it flying north and I suspect the bird is resident close to the Blashford Lakes but on private land

Glossy Ibis: The two long-staying birds at the Dungeness RSPB reserve have not been seen there since Dec 14 but on Dec 16 Lee Evans told us of three near Glastonbury and one in the Severn valley

Spoonbill: One was in Pagham Harbour on Dec 21, one was at Farlington Marshes on Dec 22 and one was in the Fishbourne channel near Chichester on Dec 26 - possible these are all sightings of the same bird. Elsewhere on Dec 24 there were 5 at Isley Marsh (Taw estuary west of Barnstable in north Devon) and 8 in Poole Harbour (Shipstal Point).

Bewick's Swan: Slimbridge had 230 on Dec 24 and on Dec 25 there were 15 (including 5 juvs) at Ibsley in the Avon valley

White-front Goose: The only reports this week (other than 4 at the Kent Dungeness RSPB sites on Dec 20) have been from Slimbridge where the count reached 314 on Dec 26

Canada Goose: The flock at Pulborough Brooks reached 1000 birds on Dec 21

Pale-bellied Brent: The number at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) was down from 30 on Dec 13 to 9 on Dec 24. Locally two were seen on the Portchester Castle shore in Portsmouth Harbour on Dec 26

Red-breasted Goose: The single bird was still with Brent at Topsham on the Exe estuary in Devon on Dec 26

Mandarin: The male bird which was seen on the Sinah gravel pit lake (south Hayling) on Dec 19 was still there on Dec 21 but has not been seen since

Pintail: There were 225 at Slimbridge on Dec 23 and 300 in the Avon Valley south of the Avon Causeway on Dec 24 (on Dec 20 there were even a few on the Budds Farm Pools at Havant and on Dec 26 there were 5 at Titchfield Haven)

Pochard: Slimbridge reported a total of 570 on Dec 22

Ferruginous Duck: The adult female which was at Abbotsbury in Devon from Dec 5 to 18 has not been reported since but a similar female appeared briefly at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Dec 25

Long-tailed Duck: The two birds in the north of Langstone Harbour were last reported on Dec 20

Smew: The only report from southern England this week is of one at Rye Harbour on Dec 21 but over in the Netherlands the site which had 45 on Dec 19 had 212 on Dec 20

Goosander: Up to Dec 20 no more than 20 had been reported from the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood but on that day John Clark counted 81 there (including 27 males) - none have been reported there since.

Marsh Harrier: The Farlington Marshes bird was seen again on Dec 26 (when the Kent Stour valley had 22 - the highest count of the winter there so far)

Hen Harrier: Both a male and a female went to roost at Alresford Pond in the Itchen valley on Dec 20

Buzzard: One seen perched on a tree in the Warblington Farm area on Dec 20 was not unexpected as a pair breed there but I was a little surprised to see one flying over the fields east of Bedhampton Mill on Dec 24 and to see it perch on a tree overhanging the Hermitage Stream close to the busy A27

Red-legged Partridge: These are well known for turning up in unexpected places so one in Portchester close to the Castle on Dec 20 was not unusual

Coot: A total of 90 birds were in Emsworth Harbour close to the 'promenade' around the Town Mill Pond on Dec 22 setting a new peak count for this winter

Avocet: The number at Farlington Marshes was up to 34 on Dec 22 (beating the 32 there on Dec 5) and there were 10 at Nutbourne Bay (east of Emsworth) on Dec 27

Golden Plover: More have arrived on the south coast this week with a sighting of around 30 on the Wide Lane playing fields near the M27 at Eastleigh (the first flock there for a couple of winters) while Pagham Harbour had up to 1500 on Dec 24 (960 at the North Walls and a further 500 out in the harbour). On Dec 25 Maiden Castle near Dorchester had 750.

Lapwing: 2200 at the Pagham North Walls on Dec 24

Purple Sandpiper: On Dec 22 there were 9 at Barton on Sea and on Dec 25 there were 9 at Southsea Castle

Woodcock: A good number of these reaching us from Europe brought reports of 100 seen at a village close to Sandwich Bay on Dec 21 and around 60 at the bird observatory there on Dec 22, followed by numerous reports of single birds at points further west.

Black-tailed Godwit: John Clark (who has access to some private land in the Avon Valley for counting the birds) reported 2250 in the Avon Tyrrell Farm area south of Ringwood on Dec 20 (others had estimated only 1500 there) but that flock has now moved south in the valley to give a report of 1200 south of Avon Causeway on Dec 24, and on Dec 26 the birds seem to have left the valley (perhaps partly due to Boxing Day shoots) and returned to Poole Harbour (600 were seen flying over Christchurch Harbour that day)

Redshank: On Dec 21 a Dutch site reported as 'remarkable' a sighting of a single Redshank but described it as Tringa totanus robusta which I see is an Icelandic subspecies of Redshank. While investigating this I learnt that all Redshanks are declining in numbers and that the three subspecies (totanus, britannica and robusta) have different conservation management needs

Green Sandpiper: On the morning of Dec 22 I heard three of these fly over my Havant garden (and saw the erratic flight of two of them), then on Dec 23 I found one noisily present on the Langstone South Moors and on Dec 26 Titchfield Haven had what I think was a new arrival there.

Common Sandpiper: I was already aware that two of these were wintering near the mouth of the Hermitage stream between Broadmarsh and Budds Farm. The on Dec 19 one was seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds and on Dec 20 there were two reports of one in the Langstone area (one at the mouth of the Lymbourne Stream at Langstone Mill by the Royal Oak pub and another at the mouth of the Langbrook stream by the Langstone West Mill at the end of Mill Lane. Maybe there are more than two wintering in the Havant area?

Glaucous Gull: Still none settled in the central south coast but a juvenile was seen on Dec 22 at Beesands near Start Point on the south Devon coast

Guillemot: The number on the breeding ledges at Durlston was up to 250+ on Dec 22 and several were coming into breeding plumage. Another 400, more intent on fishing, were off Dungeness on Dec 23

Great Spotted Woodpecker: One was reported as drumming at Titchfield Haven on Dec 19

Skylark: An influx from the continent on Dec 20 brought 170 to Sandwich Bay and 213 to Hunstanton in Norfolk while Beeding Brooks in the Sussex Arun valley reported an estimated 400. On Dec 21 a total of 441 flew over Brussels and 351 went over another nearby site. In England 190 arrived at Sandwich Bay that day and on Dec 22 more than 200 were seen at Cheesefoot Head near Winchester

Shorelark: A flock of 35 was seen in the Netherlands on Dec 20

Stonechat: For real twitchers there is a rare Siberian Stonechat at Bevercotes Wood in Nottinghamshire

Goldcrest: On Dec 26 I heard a brief snatch of song from one hidden in an Irish Yew in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery

Coal Tit: Also of local interest only several of these seem to have invaded Havant gardens in the past week

Carrion Crow: On Dec 21 the following appeared on the Rye Bay website .. "Yesterday morning the “Sunday Walkers” were sitting in the hide at Castle Water (enjoying our customary tea and biscuits/cake) when we spotted a couple of Carrion Crows feeding on something. Closer examination revealed it was a rabbit, on which a stoat was also feeding. Presumably the stoat had killed the rabbit. A female Marsh Harrier then landed nearby and seemed to take no notice for several minutes. She then decided it was her turn and chased off the stoat and Crows, which kept trying to get back in on the action, only to be chased off again by the Harrier. Stunning views of the male Smew as well helped make it a memorable visit to Castle Water."

Twite: A single colour ringed bird was present among a flock of 1000 Linnets near Southill in Bedfordshire on Dec 26

Snow Bunting: The sight of one at Christchurch Harbour on Dec 23 could give us hope of seeing one in Hampshire...

INSECTS

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Unsurprisingly no current reports of any insects except for a single Peacock butterfly seen flying inside a Sussex house and let out to seek a cooler spot for hibernation. Sadly quite a few butterflies die when central heating is turned on in rooms that were cool early in the winter - some may find alternative sites where they can survive but the sudden awakening means that most perish in the cold when they are released.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

94 species recorded as flowering so far this month - this week's finds include ...

Lesser Celandine: A single flower open on plants by the Lymbourne stream just south of the A27 in Havant on Dec 26

White Campion: No local finds but a good photo of one flowering in Kent on Dec 19 on the Planet Thanet website

Goat Willow: Four 'pussy paw' catkins showing golden anthers on the regular early flowering tree overhanging the gate between Southmoor Lane and the new path to the Langstone South Moors - seen on Dec 23

Dog's Mercury: Still flowering in Pook Lane at Warblington where it started to flower on Nov 26

Snowdrop: The first report of these flowering was on Dec 15 but this week I saw my first flowers in Havant on Dec 26

OTHER WILDLIFE

The only reports are of 12 Bottle-nosed Dolphin off Portland on Dec 20/21 and a Common Seal at Hook/Warsash (mouth of R Hamble). See Carrion Crow in Bird News above for an interesting account of a Stoat which had killed a Rabbit having its meal partly eaten by Crows and then stolen by a Marsh Harrier


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 14 - 20 (Week 50 of 2009)

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BIRDS

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Red-throated Diver: A count of 290 off the North Foreland in Kent on Dec 12 was the biggest total so far reported from the English south coast this winter. On Dec 19 Dungeness reported 185 moving east and 19 went past Portland that day.

Black-throated Diver: At least three were seen from East Head at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Dec 15

Great Northern Diver: Lee Evans tells us that he knows of 23 currently at inland sites in Britain (such as 6 at Grafham Water north of Bedford) and regards this as unusual

Great Crested Grebe: The number of the Dutch coast shot up on Dec 19 to give reports of 1634 at Noordwijk and counts of 1431, 1142, 1043 from other sites that day

Slavonian Grebe: The sea off Pagham Harbour regularly attracts a flock of these birds in winter and Dec 16 brought the first observation of them there this winter with 7 seen. More unusual was the presence of a single juvenile in the lagoon of the Hayling Oysterbeds on both Dec 16 and 17 - they are relatively uncommon in Langstone Harbour and I do not recall one previously being seen within the Oysterbeds bund walls

Red-necked Grebe: One seen off Titchfield Haven on Dec 19 may be the one that was there at the beginning of December

Bittern: There have been reports of these since the beginning of November at several sites in Kent, Sussex and Dorset but the first I know of in Hampshire was at Titchfield Haven on Dec 13 - it was still present and giving good views on Dec 19

Great White Egret: The bird which has in recent years been a regular sight at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood is being elusive this winter and the only recent sightings there that I am aware of were on Nov 8, Nov 14 and now Dec 12 (when the bird flew north over the site). It is, however, included as a regular at that site in Lee Evans summary on Dec 16 in which he lists a total of 9 birds currently present at various sites in Britain (I also see that 11 of these birds were present at just one site in the Netherlands on Dec 15). By Dec 18 it seems that cold weather was driving birds based in central Europe westward and one Dutch site reported 21 of these Egrets while two other sites there reported 7 and 6 respectively (21 is not a site record for Holland - Strabrechtse Heide had 29 on two dates last March)

Glossy Ibis: The two long staying birds were still at Dungeness on Dec 16 but Lee Evans tells us that there are only four others currently in Britain (3 near Glastonbury and 1 in the Severn valley)

Bewick's Swan: Between Dec 13 and 17 there have been reports of 13 at Pulborough Brooks, 10 at Amberley Wild Brooks, up to 11 in the Ringwood/Ibsley area (most reports are of 10 birds), and 158 at Slimbridge - by Dec 19 the number at Slimbridge was up to 161 and on that day four sites in Holland reported 129, 121, 93 and 64. Also on Dec 19 a group of 8 flew north over Pagham Harbour.

Whooper Swan: Dec 18 brough a report of 103 at one Dutch site (the previous peak count this autumn had been 24 in Scotland on Nov 1)

Bean Goose: A count of 5261 at one Dutch site on Dec 19 is another reflection of cold weather movement (on Nov 15 the previous high count was 1310)

White-front Goose: None yet in Hampshire (nor at Pett Level on Rye Bay) but Slimbridge had 230 on Dec 18 and Holland had a massive influx that day with 16,018 at one site, 3471 at another and 2727 at a third

Greater Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens atlanticus): Lee Evans tells us that one of these has been seen at Titchwell in Norfolk among 15,000 Pink-foot Geese, making me aware for the first time that the smaller Snow Goose has a slightly bigger cousin which is well known in north America but which rarely appears on this side of the Atlantic (or at least is rarely identified as the main difference between the two subspecies is restricted to the size of their bills!)

Barnacle Goose: I have heard no more of the massive flock of 46,440 birds recorded in Germany on Oct 10 but there was a more reasonable influx to the Low Countries on Dec 18 with four sites reporting 5052, 1740, 928 and 102 birds respectively. Slimbridge had 134 on Dec 17

Pale-bellied Brent: A total of 30 were present at Littlesea in Weymouth on Dec 13 (and a lone bird has been seen on the north Kent coast this week)

Red-breasted Goose: The Devon bird was still at Topsham on Dec 18 and on Dec 16 Lee Evans summary of rare birds currently in Britain accepts the opinion that this is the regular wild bird returning to our south coast for the fourth winter (and hopefully destined to move to Chichester Harbour before it departs in the spring)

Mandarin: In January 2006 there was a report of 76 of these on Headley Mill Pond in east Hampshire but this winter only 24 were seen there on Dec 13. On Dec 19 a drake was seen on Sinah Gravel Pit (south Hayling) by Tim Lawman who said this was the 19th species of duck he has seen on this lake

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes): A specimen of this American version of our Mallard was reported from Colliford Lake in Cornwall between June 4 and 28 this year, then again at Wadebridge on Sep 16, and it is now being reported in the Scillies on Dec 10 and 11. This species is becoming rare in America as deforestation has reduced the number of shaded forest pools which are its preferred habitat (the common Mallard prefers less shaded water)

Pintail: Around 100 were in the Avon valley south of Ringwood on Dec 13

Shoveler: Several of these have arrived on the south coast in the past few days (including 3 in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Dec 18 and 5 at Dungeness on Dec 19 when at least 4 were in the Hayling Oysterbeds pools) but the relatively unusual sight of these ducks on seawater is not necessarily proof of arrival from abroad as the shallow inland waters in which they normally feed have mostly frozen over forcing the birds to the sea.

Velvet Scoter: A party of 8 were seen flying west into the Solent from a boat near the Brambles bank (between Cowes and Lepe) on Dec 12 and singles have been seen off Durlston on Dec 14 and Christchurch Harbour onDec 18

Smew: A few more are now reaching southern England - by Dec 14 there were 3 at Rye Harbour and on Dec 12 one was at the Seaton pits near the mouth of the Stour in north east Kent. The hard weather movement of wildfowl on Dec 19 brought 45 to a Dutch site.

Goosander: On Dec 18 three were seen to fly north into Chichester Harbour past Sandy Point and on Dec 19 two redheads were on the Sinah Gravel Pit Lake at the other end of south Hayling

Kestrel: On Dec 16 Brian Fellows saw a reversal of normal behaviour when he watched a Kestrel vigourously chasing a Carrion Crow over Brook Meadow at Emsworth. Brian says the Crow was squawking as it fled so presumably it was not carrying food in its bill but this behaviour reminds me of the determined attacks that hungry Kestrels will make on other birds (particularly Barn Owls) in an attempt to steal prey from them.

Great Bustard: One of the Salisbury Plain birds is wintering with Swans at Sedgemoor in Somerset

Golden Plover: By Dec 17 cold weather in Europe had brought 8319 to a site in the Netherlands (also 5140 Lapwing with them) and on that day there were 1600 at Slimbridge. A lot more arrived on the English south coast on Dec 18 bringing reports of 85 at Sandy Point on Hayling, 30 on playing fields in Gosport while on Dec 19 Dungeness reported 24 flying in off the sea and I found around 70 on the Hayling West Lane fields

Lapwing: On Dec 17 a Dutch site reported 5140 there and Slimbridge had 2500. On Dec 18 a total of 1324 flew north west over Sandy Point on Hayling and 286 were seen heading west over the Warsash area with several other sites on the south coast reporting smaller numbers heading west

Common Sandpiper: A single bird was at the mouth of the Hermitage stream at Broadmarsh on the north shore of Langstone Harbour on Dec 15 (two had been seen there on Dec 10). On Dec 15 one was at Littlehampton (mouth of R Arun). On Dec 19 one was seen in the Hayling Oysterbeds area (maybe one of those previously seen in the Broadmarsh area)

Spotted Sandpiper: The last report of the Lower Brook bird by the River Test that I have seen was on Dec 13 while the bird at Topsham in Devon was there on Dec 19 (a third bird is also currently present in Scotland)

Ring-billed Gull: According to Lee Evans the bird at Gosport (last report on Dec 19) is one of only two currently in Britain, the other being at Southend in Essex

Glaucous Gull: One was reported in Cornwall on Dec 6 (but not since) and now one has been seen at Dungeness on Dec 14 and 17

Sandwich Tern: Singles still present at the mouth of Chichester Harbour and in Southampton Water on Dec 19

Guillemot: The number on the breeding ledges at Durlston was up to 200+ on Dec 17 (the birds are not yet breeding but are presumably trying to reserve their places on the ledges in advance of breeding)

Hoopoe: The bird seen on the Isle of Wight at Limerstone (between Brightstone and Shorwell) on Oct 13 and 15, then on Nov 2, seems to be still there and was seen again on Dec 18

Skylark: I haven't heard of any major movement in southern England so far but a count of 864 moving over one site on the Netherlands coast on Dec 17 may indicate the departure of large numbers from Europe. There had been a previous movement on Nov 9 when nearly 4,000 were recorded passing two Dutch sites (with 100 seen at Sandwich Bay on Nov 10) but that was not maintained between then and now. Having written the above for my mid-week summary I see that on Dec 18 one site in Holland recorded 7419 passing over and other sites there reported smaller numbers. Over here Dec 18 brought a report of 189 passing over Sandy Point on south Hayling and on Dec 19 Dungeness reported 80 passing over.

Swallow: Still at least one with us on Dec 13 - seen feeding low over a field near Burgess Hill in Sussex

Waxwing: The Kent Stour Valley website has had a great photo of a Waxwing in wintery surroundings at the top of its December news page but this seems to have been placed there more in hope of news rather than documenting some current sighting and a search of Lee Evans Blog finds no mention of the species - the one single report is of one seen in a Gosport garden (Park Road in the Seafield area north of Stoke Lake) on Dec 13. This shortage may soon change as Dec 18 brought the first report (of just two birds) from a Dutch site.

Blackbird: Brian Fellows heard one singing quietly to itself in Emsworth on Dec 13 and when I mentioned this to Tony Gutteridge he told me that he had heard one in full song a few days ago while in Edinburgh (the bird was singing after sunset, apparently provoked by the lights and noise of a Christmas street market). Brian also currently hears regular Song Thrush song in Emsworth with less regular contributions from Dunnock and Great Tit while Robin, Wren, Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon can be heard throughout the Havant area. Since Dec 16 there have been widespread reports of increased numbers of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes which are presumed to be migrants.

Dartford Warbler: A total of 99 were recorded in the New Forest during the bird survey there on Dec 12 and 13 (before the snow which could, if prolonged, result in another population crash for this species) The survey also found 80 Stonechats at a time when I would have expected most of them to have left the heathland for the coast - perhaps that is a reflection of higher than usual temperatures up to that date? ( The same survey last year found 49 Stonechats on Nov 23 and 46 on Dec 21)

Yellow-browed Warbler: I saw 45 reports of this species in southern England between Sep 15 and Nov 9 but none after that date until Dec 10 when one was in the Scillies. This may be a result of observers becoming bored with reporting a species that is regularly seen in their area (or my becoming bored with recording their reports!) but I am intrigued by what has caused this lack of entries in my database.

Siberian Chiffchaff: One seen on Dec 13 at the sewage works near Darby Green on the Berks/Hants border

Penduline Tit: At least two were still at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Dec 12

Brown Shrike: The bird which has been in the Staines Moor area near Heathrow airport since Oct 14 was still there on Dec 16 and seems to be surviving and moulting

Great Grey Shrike: Lee Evans reports a lack of these birds in Britain so far this winter with only six birds currently known to him (including one in the New Forest which was not seen on Dec 12/13 during the regular survey designed to record the number of these birds)

Magpie: A night roost of 144 birds was reported near Hatch Pond (Poole Harbour) on Dec 12 making me wonder (a) what is the correct name for this number of Magpies, and (b) if there is still a similar roost in the Denmead area north of Portsdown - many years ago I seem to remember 170 or more birds gathering in the north west of the Southwick Woods (around SU 656109 south of Sheepwash Farm). Birds of Hants records a peak roost count of 277 birds near Fleet Pond in north Hampshire in Dec 1987 - I see that roost was still used by 100 birds in Jan 2008 and that there was a roost of 40 birds at the IBM North Harbour site in Portsmouth in Dec 2008

Brambling: Just 28 birds were found in two small flocks during the Dec 12/13 New Forest survey but Lee Evans reports a flock of 290 in Norfolk as being the largest currently known in Britain

Twite: On Dec 3 there were 37 Twite and 14 Shorelarks on the north Norfolk coast and there are still at least 30 Twite there. In southern England one arrived at Sandwich Bay on Dec 16 and on Dec 17 there was a Birdguides report of five near the Hurst spit west of Lymington.

Crossbill: These always breed early and nest in January but I was surprised to see a report of courtship behaviour from St Leonard's Forest near Horsham on Dec 14 when Stuart Sutton wrote on the SOS website .. "Watched a group of 10 Crossbills eating buds off a sweet chestnut. What was more interesting, was the fact that two of the females were pulling tiny shreds of bark from the branches and collecting them in their beaks. One had a great beakful, but then dropped it! I then saw a male do the same thing, he then sat beside a female and gave her the bark strips. Whilst he was proposing, there was much wing flapping from the female, similar to what I have seen in blue tit courtship." On Dec 17 one of 10 Crossbills in Ashdown Forest was seen flying with a cone in its bill - not sure if that was something to do with courtship.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Still three species mentioned in the latest news. Three Red Admirals were seen together in a Portsmouth garden on Dec 10 and another was seen in a Seaford garden on the Sussex coast on Dec 12 along with a Peacock. Also on Dec 12 a single Comma was seen at Herstmonceux near Eastbourne but I think this was an observation of a hibernating individual.

No moths or other insects mentioned so far this week

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

88 species seen in flower so far this month plus the colourful sight of Spindle berries

Traveller's Joy (aka Old Man's Beard): On Dec 14 I was much surprised to see fresh flowers just opening on a plant of this growing among shrubbery in the grounds of the office block immediately east of Tesco's in Havant. I did not get the impression that it was part of a recent planting and wonder if it was a bird sown plant flourishing in the shelter of the established shrubs.

Sweet Violet: These were still flowering on Dec 19 in the entrance gateway into the rough field on the west side of the Coastal Path immediately north of the Hayling Oysterbeds (no sign of flowers on the Hawthorn tree a little south of this gate and on the east of the old rail track which have flowered in several winters but which was cut back earlier this year)

Hazel: By Dec 19 the catkins had started to open on the tree overhanging the bus stop in the main road layby near the junction of Mill Lane with the main road at Langstone. This is usually the first that I see but this year I found an even earlier one on Dec 9 (no sign of Celandine flowers yet)

Trailing Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana): This was flowering as a garden escape at the edge of a carparking space between commercial properties in central Havant on Dec 14

Three-cornered Leek: Also flowering in central Havant on Dec 14 although this was probably planted in a roadside flowerbed outside the United Reformed Church at the junction of North St and Elm Lane

OTHER WILDLIFE

Mole: On Dec 9 Brian Fellows noticed a lot of fresh tunnelling activity by Moles at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and wrote in his web diary .. "There were lots of fresh molehills appearing on frosty ground around Brook Meadow. I actually watched one molehill being pushed up, something I have only ever seen on one previous occasion on 09-Feb-05. Moles are more active during periods of cold weather. The last period of intense Mole activity was in February 2005, during a period of freezing temperatures and snow, when I counted over 1,000 molehills on Brook Meadow. See . . . http://www.brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk/bm-moles.html . . . There are nowhere near that number so far, but with more cold weather forecast I shall be monitoring the situation." I think this activity is a response to the behaviour of earthworms in the cold weather - as in very dry weather in hot summers freezing makes the ground too hard for the worms to penetrate it and they go deep down to where the frost cannot penetrate (and where the Moles cannot follow them) so the Moles have to excavate new tunnels in places where the ground is softer and worms can still be found. I did wonder (as does Brian in his website) if the activity in February was in response to the start of their breeding season (when the females create giant molehills called Fortresses above their breeding chambers) but I have just had a look at the fact sheet about Moles on the Young People's Trust for the Environment website ( http://www.ypte.org.uk/animal/mole/143 ) which tells me that they only breed in the period from March to May after the winter frosts are over.


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 7 - 13 (Week 49 of 2009)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: In last week's Summary we commented on the relatively large number of Great Northern Divers in Southampton Water and elsewhere along the Hampshire and Dorset coast. Of the divers identified by species the top count of Red-throated was 134 at Camperduin in the Netherlands on Dec 8 (Christchurch Harbour had 13 on Dec 12). Black-throated are increasing with 3 off East Head in Chichester Harbour on Dec 10 (and 10 off Pointe du Hoc in Normandy on Dec 12). Great Northern are still numerous but on our side of the Channel Devon has the biggest sighting of 28 off Hope's Nose in Devon on Dec 6. In the 'diver species' category a couple of Dutch sites set new records for this winter with counts on Dec 8 of 1364 and 1046 mixed Divers but these were topped on Dec 11 with 2087 at Ameland in Holland. Also of interest I see that the Pacific Diver was still at Hayle in north Cornwall on Dec 9

Great Crested Grebe: The numbers wintering along the English south coast are increasing with the first two reports on Dec 9 of flocks of greater than 100 birds - 100+ in the Solent off Titchfield Haven and Brownwich and 120 off Dungeness. Across the Channel a Dutch site had the highest count so far with 657 on Dec 11

Little Grebe: By Dec 4 the flock on the sea off the Broadmarsh slipway had built up to 30 birds - I wonder if there is still a similar winter flock in the east end of Portscreek as there used to be in the 1980s?

Slavonian Grebe: The first to be reported in Chichester Harbour this winter was on off East Head on Dec 10

Leach's Petrel: The first to be reported in December after the great wreck at the end of November was seen on the Dutch coast on Dec 10

Shag: Reports of this species are increasing. The young bird on the Itchen at Winchester is still there and new reports this week are of one off the Hayling Oysterbeds, one in Portsmouth naval dockyard and two in Haslar Creek at Gosport (all on Dec 7 and 8)

Bittern: The first to be reported at Burton Mill Pond west of Pulborough was seen there on Dec 12

Cattle Egret: The Winkton bird in the Avon valley was there on Dec 6 and 7, and the two at the Lymington marshes were seen on Dec 6

Glossy Ibis: The two which have been at the Dungeness RSPB reserve since Sep 22 (when a total of 5 were there) were still present on Dec 10 (as was the long staying Great White Egret)

Spoonbill: The number at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour went up from 15 on Dec 5 to 17 on Dec 6 and on Dec 8 a juvenile was seen in the east of Pagham Harbour where one was regularly seen from Oct 23 to Nov 7. On Dec 5 the Langstone Harbour bird was on Little Binness (close to the southern seawall of Farlington Marshes) among a flock of Avocets

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge was up to 79 on Dec 7 and 85 on Dec 9 - most recent count is 114 on Dec 12. On Dec 8 the number at Amberley Wild Brooks was up to 9 with another 6 seen in the Pulborough Brooks reserve on Dec 11, and the number in the Blashford Lakes area near Ringwood was up to 8 on Dec 5 (only 4 were seen on Dec 8). On Dec 11 another two were seen in passing on the sea off Church Norton (Pagham Harbour)

Whitefront Goose: Sussex had its first of the winter when a family of 4 were seen by the River Adur near Steyning. Elsewhere on Dec 12 Slimbridge had 236 and a Dutch site had 1192

Cackling Canada Goose: One seen at Titchfield Haven on Dec 11 has probably been there since at least Oct 26

Barnacle Goose: A group of 5 at Titchfield Haven on Dec 11 have probably been there since at least Oct 2

Black Brant: The first to be reported on the Lymington Marshes this winter was in a field north of Vidle Van farm at Keyhaven on Dec 12

Red-breasted Goose: Now that the Dark-bellied Brent have started to feed on grass at onshore sites the Red-breasted Goose which was on its own at the Black Hill quarry (3 miles from the Exe estuary) from Oct 28 to Nov 26 has joined the other Brent (from Dec 3) and was last reported on Dec 6 with 500 Brent on the Exminster marshes. This pattern fits in with the previous behaviour of 'our' Red-breasted Goose which has ended its winter visits in Chichester Harbour in each winter from 2006/7 to 2008/9 and will hopefully be seen there again for its fourth consecutive winter. (Thanks to Alan Lewis for pointing out that Red-breasted Goose only eats grass, not marine weeds, so is only seen with Brent after they move from the harbours to feed on fields)

Shelduck: In 2008 the number reported in Langstone Harbour was only 190 in December but was up to 500 in January, comparable to the figures for the past 20 years or so. This species is said to be increasing in numbers nationally but that is not reflected in Chichester or Langstone Harbours - Birds of Hampshire gives a table of winter maxima in Langstone Harbour (using an average of the yearly peaks to give a figure for each 5 year period since the 1950s) and this shows us that we could expect a peak of around 2700 in the years 1955 to 60 and 3280 in the years 1965 to 70 but that average peak had dropped to 1468 for 1985 to 90. Nowadays we are lucky to get a winter peak of more than 500 so it is good to see that Jason Crook found 273 in the north of Langstone Harbour on Dec 4 this year

Green-winged Teal: The young male bird that was in the Scilly Isles at the end of November may have moved to Slimbridge where a male was reported on Dec 6 and 9

Mallard: I was surprised to see on the Wildfowl & Wetllands Trust website, among exhortations to adopt various duck species in a fundraising exercise for wildfowl conservation work, a special emphasis on adopting a Mallard with the explanation ... "Due to a dramatic decline, the mallard is now on the amber list in the recent ‘birds of conservation concern’ report".

Pintail: This week's reports include counts 120 at Amberley Wild Brooks on Dec 9 and 200 in the Avon Valley south of Ringwood (in the Avon Tyrell farm area on Dec 11)

Ferruginous Duck: The adult female which arrived at the Abbotsbury Swannery on Dec 5 was still there on Dec 11

Eider: The number off Titchfield Haven this autumn had not exceeded 18 (on Oct 7) until Dec 9 when 56 were present - that had increased to 70+ on Dec 11. At Lymington the highest count I have seen reported this autumn remains the 4 seen on Oct 16

Long-tailed Duck: The two which have been seen sporaically in the north of Langstone Harbour since Nov 12 were seen again on Dec 12 in the Broad Lake area off Long Island

Surf Scoter: The female seen off Dawlish Warren in Devon on Dec 4 was still there on Dec 6

Velvet Scoter: The single female which has been on the water off Titchfield Haven since Dec 2 was still there on Dec 11 (on Dec 10 a flock of 68 were on the Dutch coast)

Ruddy Duck: According to Bob Chapman the highest count at the Blashford Lakes this winter has been 14 but on Dec 5 visiting birders from Dorset reported 21 present.

Marsh Harrier: The female at Farlington Marshes was seen again on Dec 5 and 6

Common Crane: The first report since Dec 1 (when there was a flock of 121 birds in the Netherlands) is of just 12 at a different site in the Netherlands (and three more at another site) on Dec 12 - these may be the last to be seen here where they have probably been pausing on their journey from eastern Europe to Spain or north Africa for the winter

Avocet: The number at Farlington Marshes was up to 32 on Dec 5 while the winter flock at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour was estimated to have 1000 birds on Dec 6. In north Kent there were at least 60 the Oare Marshes on Dec 9

Golden Plover: A flock of around 600 could be seen in the air above Pilsey Island from East Head in Chichester Harbour onDec 10

Lapwing: An influx of birds from the continent brought a count of 5750 at Sandwich Bay on Dec 4 with 4170 in the Channel Isles (Jersey) on Dec 6 and 8,000 at Slimbridge on Dec 9

Knot: A count of 25 on the mudflats off Emsworth on Dec 8 was remarkable for that part of Chichester Harbour

Sanderling: An estimated 500 birds were at Black Point on Hayling on Dec 6

Purple Sandpiper: The number at Southsea Castle rose by one to 10 on Dec 9

Black-tailed Godwit: Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour had an estimated 1500 on Dec 6 but there are very few now reported in Chichester or Langstone Harbours from where the birds seem to have moved inland (on Dec 4 Jason Crook saw just 4 in the whole of the Broadmarsh/Farlington Marshes area). The last large counts in Chichester Harbour were of 330 near Bosham and 112 at Emsworth, both at the end of October whereas there were 345 at Amberley Wild Brooks (north of the Downs in the Arun valley) on Dec 1. The Lymington marshes, however, still had 422 on Dec 5. One suggestion that was new to me is that the 1500 birds reported at Brownsea Island on Dec 6 had flown to feed in the Avon valley south of Ringwood on Dec 11 - looking at the map I see that the distance between these two points if just under 20km (or 12 miles) which would be no problem to these strong flyers. The distance from Chichester Harbour to Pulborough Brooks is some 30 km or 18 miles.

Whimbrel: There are usually two at least wintering on the west side of Thorney Island though none have been reported there this winter (last count was of 6 on Oct 4 when passage birds were still around). Maybe they have moved a little north as one was seen off Northney on Hayling on Dec 5 and one was on the shore west of Emsworth on Dec 9. Another wintering Whimbrel was seen at the north end of Southampton Water (near the Eling Tide Mill) on Dec 12

Spotted Redshank: The 'famous' Nore Barn bird near Emsworth was still present on Dec 9 - another wintering bird in Chichester Harbour was seen in the Fishbourne Channel in Dec 10

Common Sandpiper: One or more usually winter in the Hermitage Stream/Budds Farm area at Havant but I had not seen any reports from there for this winter until two were seen on Dec 10 (possibly the same two which I saw there on Sep 8 and assumed to be migrants)

Spotted Sandpiper: The Test valley bird was still at Lower Brook on Dec 10 and the Topsham bird in Devon was present on Dec 7 at least

Grey Phalarope: The last reports I know of for the bird at Amberley Wild Brooks and at Lymington were both on Dec 6 - the only report since then is of one on the French coast near Calais on Dec 10

Caspian Gull: One was seen in the Blashford Lakes area near Ringwood on Dec 12 and thought to be the same bird that wintered there last year.

Glaucous Gull: The only two reports I am aware of for this winter so far are of one at Sennen in Cornwall on Dec 6 after one in Holland on Oct 17

Sandwich Tern: On Dec 6 there were two in the mouth of Chichester Harbour, at least two in Poole Harbour and one at Gosport. On Dec 4 at least three were fishing in the north of Langstone Harbour. These are definitely wintering birds but I see that across the Channel at Ouistreham in Normandy there were still 117 birds on Dec 10 - are they all staying on?

Feral Pigeon: These birds do not often get into the news but I was surprised to hear of a flock of 300 at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth - I suspect this may have something to do with the Portsmouth City Rangers liberally feeding the 'wildfowl' there (not sure if they still do this)

Stock Dove: In Romsey a pair had a nest with eggs on Dec 6

Ring-necked Parakeet: I was aware of a large roost of these at Esher Rugby Club gounds in London (and probably at other places around the city) but I was not aware that there is a regular roost of around 4000 birds at Ashford Hospital in Kent until it was mentioned by Lee Evans on Dec 10

Short-eared Owl: Plenty of these around recently but I had not heard of any in Langstone Harbour until I read Jason Crook's Blog for Dec 4 in which he says he watched one for some time near the Point on Farlington Marshes but that it then flew out over the harbour and did not stay.

Swallow: Latest reports so far are of one at Truro in Cornwall on Dec 6 after one in the Sussex Adur valley on Dec 5, followed by two more in Cornwall on Dec 7 and one there on Dec 11

Red-throated Pipit: After several reports in Sep and Oct (and one 'possible' at Durlston on Nov 2) we have had to wait until Dec 4 for the next (seen in the Scillies)

Dunnock: Song heard on the Isle of Wight and at Emsworth on Dec 6 and 8 respectively

Black Redstart: One was again seen on Hayling at the east end of the Eastoke Promenade (adjacent to Sandy Point reserve) on Dec 8

Ring Ouzel: These are wintering at two widely separated sites in Devon - two birds at Beer Head near the Dorset border and two more at Plymouth - reported on Dec 8 and 7 respectively

Blackbird: One was heard attempting to sing on the Isle of Wight on Dec 6

Song Thrush: These started to sing (in Emsworth and at Durlston) on Dec 2 and by Dec 9 three could be heard singing in the Brook Meadow area at Emsworth

Dartford Warbler: One had been seen in the Point Field at Farlington Marshes on Dec 2 and two were there on Dec 4 (male and female).

Long-tailed Tit: These seem to be widespread in good numbers at the moment but I was surprised by a report of 80 at Christchurch Harbour on Dec 9

Willow Tit: One had been among a Tit flock at Horsham on Nov 29 and now there is another definite report of two birds heard in the West Dean Woods (north of Chichester) on Dec 12

Great Grey Shrike: Two new birds were reported on Dec 10 - one at the Pannel Valley near Rye in East Kent and another at Holmsley Bog in the New Forest where the only previous report this winter was of one at Buckherd Bottom (around 7 km north west of Holmsley Bog) on Nov 7

House Sparrow: A pair apparently had an active nest in an artificial House Martin nest box in the Fawley area of the New Forest on Dec 6

Common (= Mealy) Redpoll: One at Durlston on Dec 10 was only the second I know of in southern England this winter (the first was cuaght and ringed at Sandwich Bay on Nov 4)

Hawfinch: We have heard of these in the New Forest and at Romsey this winter and we now have the first report from another regular wintering spot - the West Dean Woods north of Chichester - where 7 were seen on Dec 12

Rustic Bunting: One reported in the Scillies on Nov 30 - third report for the year after one in East Sussex on Apr 28 and a probable in Cornwall on Sep 26

Corn Bunting: On Dec 9 there were 15 at Cheesefoot Head (east of Winchester), on Dec 10 there were 20 there and on Dec 11 the report was of 30

Escapes: On Dec 12 falconers were flying four Golden Eagles in the Ibworth area north west of Basingstoke - they were said to be trying to catch Hares with them

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Large White: One reportedly seen in the Longwood Warren area east of Winchester on Dec 10 (this is the first reported anywhere since Nov 2)

Red Admiral: 8 reports between Dec 4 and 10 with sightings in both Hampshire and Sussex

Peacock: Just two reports - one near Lewes on Dec 6 and another at Dungeness on Dec 8

Comma: Second hand news of one seen on Browndown at Gosport on Dec 10

Moths

Moths seen so far in December include the Diamond-backed moth, Blastobasis lacticolella, Light Brown Apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana), December moth (the first for this winter seen at two separate sites on Dec 8), Winter Moth (more than 100 of these at Horsham on Dec 9), Feathered Thorn, Mottle Umber, The Satellite and Dark Chestnut. Only the December Moth was new but the list shows that quite a few species are still on the wing

Other Insects

Single Yellow Dung Flies have been seen on Hogweed flowers in Brook Meadow at Emsworth (where there are no cowpats and the flies are not normally found) between Nov 27 and Dec 5 - more surprisingly the number of these flies had risen to five, seen together, on Dec 9

Picture Wing fly species: One of the Tephritidae (Picture-Winged) Flies has been present on the inside of one of my house windows for more than two weeks. At first I thought it had died but since then I have several times seen it walking slowly across the glass, and when disturbed it flies weakly.

Rosemary leaf beetle (Chrysolina americana): One of these had been found in the Rye area on Oct 24 and I then learnt that the species was new to the UK in 1994 and is now spreading in Kent. Dec 7 brings a further report of the first to be found at Dungeness though it is not clear if the insect was active or hibernating (the report came from Swan Cottage at Dungeness)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

To date I have recorded 77 wild plant species flowering in December

Hairy Bittercress: One plant flowering in Havant on Dec 11

Blackthorn: Blossom could still be seen on the shoreline bushes at Nore Barn (Emsworth) on Dec 10

Hawthorn: A single tree at Stockheath in Leigh Park (Havant) had blossom on Dec 9 - see my Diary entry re Glastonbury Thorn

Tamarisk: Two of the many trees lining the Warblington Farm shoreline still had shreds of blossom on Dec 10

Hazel: Most surprising find this week was a Hazel tree with catkins open for flowering near the A27 in Havant on Dec 9

Dog's Mercury: The fresh new plants which I had found flowering in Pook Lane on Nov 26 could still be found on Dec 10

Hogweed: No surprise that this is flowering but I have noticed that the pink flowered form is more prevalent in winter and am wondering if it is caused low temperature or lack of light.

Docks: Both Curled-leaf and Broad-leaf Docks are still in flower

Strawberry Tree: Still flowering at Slipper Road in Emsworth on Dec 8

Intermediate Periwinkle: Still flowering around the Havant Health Centre on Dec 9

Black Nightshade: A small plant will had flowers by the Hayling Billy trail in he Langstone area on Dec 12

Water Figwort: Still in full flower by the Hermitage stream at Bedhampton, possibly as a result of warm water running into the stream from the underground springs at the Bedhampton Water Works

Hybrid Water Speedwell: Also in fresh flower at the same Bedhampton site

Creeping Thistle: Just one plant seen flowering in Havant in December (on Dec 9)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: Just one seen off Portland on Dec 10

Harbour Porpoise: 15 at one Dutch coastal site on Dec 8 and 17 at another site that day. These are the first reports of Porpoise that I have seen since one was washed up dead on the Rye Harbour shore on June 28 (and looking back to Feb 11 this year I see that was when one was beached near the Hayling Oysterbeds and died there soon after it was first seen.

Hare: In the 'Escapes' section of Bird News I have an item describing how one birder driving through lanes northwest of Basingstoke this week came on a party of people hunting Hares with Golden Eagles (four of the Eagles were seen)

Marsh Frog: The croaking of at least one of these Frogs in the Oare Marshes area (near Faversham in Kent) on Dec 9 suggests that their thoughts are turning to breeding

Newts: The first Common Newts to return to a garden pond were seen at Northiam near Hastings on Nov 24 with others seen on Portsdown on Nov 29. Dec 9 brought the first sighting of a Palmate Newt, also at Northiam. Another item of information about Newts was posted on the Rye Bay website by Brian Banks on Dec 8 - Great Crested Newts are a protected species which you must not handle or disturb without a licence but people are positively encouraged to detect and report their presence using a bottle trap. Such a trap is made by cutting off the top of a plastic drinks bottle and inverting the cut off cone into the bottom part of the bottle. You then immerse this in your pond and the inquisitive Newts swim up into the bottle where you can see them before releasing them back into the water. Sadly another protected species, Water Shrew, has the same inquisitive nature and gets into the water filled bottle but cannot get out and, unlike the Newts, Shrews are air breathers and regularly drown in these traps. Brian Banks comments .. "So, we have a situation where it is actually illegal to trap shrews in case you kill them, but legislation that protects the newt requires bottle trap surveys." Brian goes on .. "This prompted some thought on alternative, safer traps, and the design that I have ended up using appears at first sight counter-intuitive. The trap is made in the same way, but has an escape hole cut at it’s end, located just above the water surface. This not only provides air for the newts, but is intended as an escape route for any captured shrews. This is on the assumption that water shrews swim with part of their body above the water surface and will therefore find it easier to escape than a newt below the water surface. The results over the past two survey seasons have been pleasing. In 874 tests, comparing old and new traps in paired trials, we have drowned no water shrews in the new traps, and they seem to be only slightly less effective at capturing great crested newt."

Fungi: The only new addition to the list this week is a report of Scarlet Hood Waxcap (Hygrocybe coccinea) at Durlston on Dec 11 - for some reason this species is also called the 'Righteous toadstool'. Well worth having a look a picture at http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Hygrocybe_coccinea.html


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 30 - Dec 6 (Week 48 of 2009)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: On Dec 1 Portland reported 7 of these but that day two sites on the French coast had far bigger numbers -Ouistreham had 117 and Pointe du Hoc had 200

Black-throated Diver: Only four reports of singles, one of them off Selsey Bill on Nov 30 and another off Titchfield Haven on Dec 4

Great-Northern Diver: On Dec 2 there were thought to be ten different birds in Southampton Water and there are at least two currently in Langstone Harbour. Quite a few others have been reported along the Hampshire coast but are generally mobile. Across the Channel 11 were at a site in Jersey on Dec 3

Pacific Diver: Still being seen in the Hayle estuary (north Cornwall) up to Dec 3 (with a possible sighting in Mounts Bay on Dec 4)

Great Crested Grebe: Winter flocks are now starting to form on the sea - on Dec 1 there was a large number (possibly as many as 50) seen in Langstone Harbour from the South Moors shore and on Dec 2 a flock of around 30 had formed on the sea off Bournemouth and another 35 were in the mouth of Southampton Water. By Dec 4 there were 90 off the Brownwich Cliffs just west of Titchfield Haven (these may move up Southampton Water to roost at night off Hythe where 84 were seen early on Dec 5)

Red-necked Grebe: Reports of one in Studland Bay (Dorset) on Dec 1 and one off Titchfield Haven on Dec 2 and 3 were not unexpected but one at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 30 was. On Dec 4 there were 2 across the Channel in the Calais area and on Dec 5 one was off Dungeness

Slavonian Grebe: On Nov 29 one was off Lee-on-the-Solent and on Nov 30 two were in Portland Harbour. On Dec 1 one was seen from Selsey Bill, three were off the Lymington Marshes and one was off Christchurch Harbour. On Dec 2 one was in the north of Langstone Harbour and one in Studland Bay (Dorset) while 8 were off Ouistreham in Normandy across the Channel. On Dec 3 two were in the north of Langstone Harbour (with one still there on Dec 5 when Marcus Ward reported up to five off the Lymington marshes)

Black-necked Grebe: On Dec 2 nine were off Ouistreham and ten were in Studland Bay and on Dec 4 at least six were in Langstone Harbour and 15 were in or near Poole Harbour

Storm Petrel: These normally winter in the southern Atlantic so one at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 29 was unexpected (there have also been several singles seen of west country coasts)

Leach's Petrel: These do winter in the Atlantic in our latitudes but are not normally seen from our coasts except when driven there by storms such as the winds which brought around 650 to the Portland/Weymouth area on Nov 29 with smaller numbers all along the south coast. More than a dozen were off Ovingdean (Brighton), 15 were seen at Milford on Sea, 10 at Lee-on-the-Solent, 5 off Sandy Point (Hayling) and ones and twos were at many other places (including one inland at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood). One report is of up to 2000 being seen off the French coast in a 3 hour period on Nov 29 but on Nov 30 at least 126 were at French coastal sites in the Bay of Biscay. One sad feature of this wreck is that wherever they appeared they were attacked (and many killed) by gulls as well as more understandably by Peregrines.

Cormorant: During November more than 100 were roosting on a derelict metal structure at what had once been an RAF station at Hythe on the edge of Southampton Water (with hundreds of Dunlin using abandoned barges offshore as a high tide roost). These structures are now being removed by new owners of the site.

Shag: Another myth was dispelled on Nov 30 when a first winter Shag appeared on the River Itchen in Winchester and allowed birders to get with six meters without disturbing it - before this I had always thought that Shags are only seen on the sea and never come inland. Further disproof comes from David Thelwell who saw one on the Test north of Mottisfont when looking for the Spotted Sandpiper in the period Nov 23 to 26

Cattle Egret: When I saw that one had been seen on the Lymington marshes on Nov 28 I suggested that the bird which had been in the Avon Valley at Winkton (just north of Christchurch) had moved to Lymington but it was back at Winkton on Nov 29 and has since then made a brief re-appearance at Lymington on Dec 1. It was seen again at Winkton on Dec 5 when Marcus Ward reported that 'the Cattle Egrets' were still present (but elusive) in the Lymington area - I assume he was referring to the two birds which were regularly reported there throughout October.

Great White Egret: The bird at the Dungeness RSPB reserve was still present in Dec 5. (No reports from the Blashford Lakes since Nov 14)

Glossy Ibis: The two long staying birds were at the Dungeness RSPB reserve up to Dec 5 (on Dec 1 a single Ibis was seen at the Oare Marshes near Faversham in north Kent)

Spoonbill: One was again reported at Farlington Marshes in Langstone Harbour on Dec 2. Maybe it has been hiding out on the RSPB islands since it was first seen there on Nov 15 but I have only seen one other report of it at Farlington on Nov 22. In Dorset there were regular sightings of up to 17 birds in Poole Harbour but there were not reports there from Nov 8 to Nov 28 when 11 were reported - on Dec 5 that number had increased to 15

Bewick's Swan: A family of three was at Ibsley in the Avon Valley on Nov 16 and 17 but then seemed to have moved to Slimbridge where the count went up by three on Nov 18. Maybe that was a wrong assumption as a family of three has again been seen in the Ibsley area on Nov 29 (and they could have been there all along, hidden among the Mute Swans feeding in places where birders could not easily see them). On Dec 4 two additional juveniles were reported there (giving a count of 5). The count at Slimbridge was up to 67 by Dec 2 after the overnight arrival of 21 extra birds and on Dec 5 two family groups (total of 7 birds) were new on the Henfield levels by the R Adur (11 had turned up at a Dutch site on Dec 4)

Whooper Swan: The two adults which seemingly use the Ivy Lake at Chichester as a night roost (moving to an unknown site during the day) were seen at Ivy Lake at 8:30 am on Dec 5

Whitefront Geese: None of these to be seen in the Avon valley (where a winter flock of around 1500 could be found in the late 1960s but by 1995 the peak count there was 87, then 47 in 2000 but only 13 in 2001 and 8 in 2002 after which any birds seen have been casuals). Slimbridge still has regular wintering birds and the number there was up to 156 on Dec 2. (Over on the continent Oct 14 saw the arrival of 1900 at one site and 2852 at another.)

Brent Goose: Following my first sighting of these geese feeding on farm fields at Warblington (400 there on Nov 27) I see the first mention of them on fields in Sussex - 56 at Climping (east of Bognor) on Dec 1

Red-breasted Goose: The bird at the Black Hill Quarry site in Devon (which arrived there on Oct 28) was still there on Nov 26 with no mention of any other wildfowl at this inland site (3 miles east of the Exe estuary) making it much more likely to be a plastic escapee. However it was reported on Dec 3 and 4 to be associating with Brent at the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh site beside the Exe estuary - this behaviour of 'keeping itself to itself' for some time after arrival ties in with its behaviour in the autumn of 2008 when Alan Lewis told us that it only eats grass and not marine weed so, until the Brent abandoned the harbours and moved onto grassland, it was not seen with them (though it did at times associate with Canada Geese). I still hope this is 'our bird' back for its fourth winter and that it will return to Chichester Harbour before long.

Shelduck: The number of these is now reaching its winter peak - the Dec 5 WeBS count recorded 101 in the south west of Portsmouth Harbour off Priddy's Hard - strangely two Avocets were swimming with them.

Gadwall: 157 were on Dogmersfield Lake to the west of Fleet in north Hampshire on Dec 3

Green-winged Teal: One was seen in Hampshire on Feb 22 and 23 at Lymington and another has been in the Scillies from Nov 23 to 29.

Pintail: Slimbridge had 110 present on Nov 14 and Pulborough Brooks had 140 on Nov 23 but most sites in southern England are missing out on the large numbers being reports on the north coast of France at Ouistreham in Normandy where 1293 were seen on Dec 1 with 1017 there on Dec 2

Ferruginous Duck: The first to arrive in southern England this winter without being designated as a hybrid was at Abbotsbury Swannery on Dec 5 - it was said to be a first winter bird

Scaup: A single female was seen passing Selsey on Nov 30 but it seems to have flown on to Dorset where the five at the Abbotsbury Swannery increased to six on Dec 1. By Dec 4 there were more than 8 at Abbotsbury and another 2 in Poole Harbour.

Long-tailed Duck: One was seen in Langstone Harbour on Nov 15 but seem to move to Chichester Harbour on Nov 16 (and has not been seen there since that day). Now two have been seen in the Chalkdock area of Langstone Harbour on Dec 2 and 4. Three others have been in Poole Harbour from Nov 28 to Dec 4 at least

Velvet Scoter: A single female or immature bird was off Titchfield Haven on Dec 2

Surf Scoter: First report for this winter is of a female off Dawlish Warren in Devon on Dec 4 - it was last seen there on Mar 29. Up to two birds of this species have wintered off the south coast in recent years - mainly in the west country but they have been recorded in the Brighton area and in 2006 one made a brief visit to Langstone Harbour on Dec 18 before moving to south Devon

Velvet Scoter: There seems to have been an influx bringing 41 to Ouistreham on the Normandy coast on Dec 1. On Dec 2 one was off Titchfield Haven (seen again there on Dec 5) and on Dec 4 there were two in Mounts Bay (Cornwall)

Goldeneye: Two were unexpectedly seen on the inland water of Anglesey Lake in Gosport, together with 28 Mergansers, on Nov 29. By Dec 5 there were more than 20 in Langstone Harbour and at least 6 in Portsmouth Harbour

Smew: The first to reach the English south coast was at Dungeness on Dec 1 and by Dec 3 there were 8 there

Red-breasted Merganser: Numbers are now building up along our coast - in addition to the 28 at Gosport on Nov 29 another 40 were seen off Selsey Bill on Nov 30. Across the Channel Ouistreham in Normandy had 115 on Dec 2 with 134 off Jersey on Dec 5. Langstone Harbour had at least 40 on Dec 4 and Portsmouth Harbour had 37 off Priddy's Hard on Dec 5 (with quite a few more around the Gosport area)

Goosander: 8 were on a New Forest pond near Slufters Inclosure (Fritham area) - these are probably based at the Blashford Lakes, roosting there by night and moving out to feed on various New Forest waters each day.

Ruddy Duck: Phil Budd tells us that a female had been resident on the IBM Lake at Porstmouth for some time before he saw it on Nov 20 (no information as to whether it is still there). 8 were at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 5 (12 there on Nov 1)

Red Kite: Four were soaring (with numerous Buzzards) on thermals above the West Dean Woods (north of Chichester) on Dec 3

Marsh Harrier: A female was again seen at Farlington Marshes on Dec 2 and 4

Merlin: Quite a few of these are now around but of local interest two observers saw a male hunting over the RSPB islands in Langstone Harbour on Dec 4

Common Crane: A report of 121 at a Belgian site on Dec 1 sent me to find out a little more about the movements and status of Cranes in Europe. I was aware that a very small number are year round residents of East Anglia and the BTO website tells me that they first bred there in 1981 and that there are currently no more than four breeding pairs (35 birds were present in the 2006/7 winter). I was also aware that large numbers migrate across northern Europe and I find that the Bird Guides site says .. "Birds from Scandinavia and the Baltic winter mainly in Spain and Portugal having rested in large numbers in Germany and France" .. so I guess the current flock is 'just resting' despite the late date and will move on to Spain or north Africa.

Avocet: Ten or eleven were to be seen at Farlington Marshes in early November, increasing to 21 on Nov 12 and now to 26 on Dec 2

Sanderling: 240 were on the Eastney shore (Portsmouth side of Langstone Harbour entrance) on Dec 3

Little Stint: One was at Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Dec 5 (a Jack Snipe had been seen there on Dec 3)

Black-tailed Godwit: On Nov 26 a count of around 245 in the Amberley Wild Brooks area just south of Pulborough Brooks was said to be the highest ever count for that part of the Arun Valley. Now, on Dec 1, there is a count of 345 there. Unsurprisingly the number of birds in Chichester Harbour has dropped off considerably but there were still 422 in the Lymington area on Dec 5 with another 50 in Christchurch Harbour that day. On Dec 3 around 185 which are presumably feeding in the Avon Valley were roosting at the Blashford Lakes and another 72 were in the Yarmouth (IoW) area that day

Whimbrel: One was in the Chichester Harbour Fishbourne Channel on Dec 3 and another was seen off Northney (Hayling) on Dec 5

Spotted Redshank: The regular Emsworth Nore Barn bird was still there on Dec 4 at least and another was at the Havant Budds Farm Pools that day - maybe the latter was the one which has roosted with Redshank at the Hayling Oysterbeds in previous winters but has not been reported there so far this winter). Six of these birds are currently on the Lymington marshes.

Green Sandpiper: On Dec 1 I heard one flying over the Langstone South Moors and on Dec 4 one was in that area seen from Budds Mound

Common Sandpiper: On Dec 5 one was seen on the saltings off Northney marina (north Hayling)

Spotted Sandpiper: The identity of the bird on the Test at Lower Brook House (just north of Mottisfont) was finally confirmed on Nov 26, a week after it was first seen on Nov 20. It remains there to Dec 4 at least. Another current bird has been at Topsham on the Exe estuary in Devon up to Dec 4 since around Nov 7

Grey Phalarope: Several were seen among the great wreck of Leach's Petrels on Nov 29 and one has remained on the Lymington marshes to Dec 5 at least, as has the bird on a flooded field at Amberley Wild Brooks, but there have been no reports of the Badminston Common bird in the New Forest since Nov 30

Pomarine Skua: One was off Selsey Bill on Nov 30 but doesn't count towards next years Pom King title

Little Gull: We have had few of these along the English side of the Channel compared to the high number on the French side but on Nov 30 Dungeness had 230 (though Pointe du Hoc in France had 581 on Nov 29 and Ouistreham in Normandy had 429 on Dec 1)

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport Cockle Pond bird was still there on Dec 5

Kittiwake: A big westerly movement down the English Channel resulted in a count of 1400 passing Portland on Nov 29 (with 541 at Dungeness, 350+ at Christchurch Harbour and 156 off Selsey that day)

Sandwich Tern: Still 86 at Ouistreham on the Normandy coast of Nov 30 and 19 off Jersey on Dec 5. Five wintering birds were in Southampton Water on Dec 3 and other recent reports have been of 1 in Studland Bay on Dec 1, 2 in Langstone Harbour on Dec 2, 1 off Nore Barn at Emsworth on Dec 4 and 2 in Gosport on Dec 5

Common Tern: One seen at Pendeen in Cornwall on Nov 29

Auks: On Nov 30 Dungeness had 485 and Cap Gris Nez had 1886

Razorbill: On Dec 1 Gatteville in Normandy recorded 5025 Razorbill and 203 Guillemots

Black Guillemot: One had been seen of Cap Gris-Nez on Oct 3 but the first Tysties in southern England were one in Plymouth Sound (Devon) on Dec 4 and another in Gorran Haven (Cornwall) on Dec 5

Little Auk: On Nov 29 one was seen near Brighton and two or three at Portland. Singles were seen off Devon on Dec 2 and 4 and on Dec 5 one was swimming in shallow flood water over grassland at Lymington

Wood Pigeon: Passage is beginning to ease off but Nov 29 saw a count of 4267 passing over a Belgian site and Dec 1 brought a count of 1575 going over Durlston in Dorset. By Dec 4 Portland only had 50 heading south.

Short-eared Owl: There seems to have been a recent influx with one coming in at Selsey on Nov 30, then three separate singles on Dec 1 at Climping (east of Bognor), Newhaven, and Chichester Harbour (flying from Wittering to Thorney Island)

Kingfisher: The first frosts have brought more Kingfishers to the coast. On Nov 30 one was perched on the edge of Portsmouth Harbour at the foot of the Spinnaker Tower and on Dec 1 I saw two separate birds in the Langstone South Moors area (both were seen again by Brian Fellows on Dec 4). No sightings at Langstone Mill Pond yet (though John Goodspeed reports seeing one flying up the 'Lymebourne Stream' on Nov 30 - I think he means the Langbrook stream running up the east side of the South Moors at the end of Mill Lane but he may mean the Lymbourne Stream which goes inland from Langstone Mill Pond to the Lymbourn Road just east of the East Street bridge over the old Billy Line in Havant)

Swallow: Latest sightings have been at Brighton on Nov 29, at Sway near New Milton on Nov 30 and in the Studland Bay area on Dec 2. The latest so far was over the Henfield Levels by the R Adur on Dec 5 (with newly arrived Bewick's Swans)

Water Pipit: A few more are now being seen on the south coast - on Dec 4 one was at Christchurch Harbour and by Dec 5 there were 'several' on the Lymington shore

Dunnock: Durlston reported song there on Dec 2 and I heard brief bursts of song from two separate birds in Havant on Dec 4 - if the weather improves these should be heard frequently from now on.

Black Redstart: These are too common to report all sightings but I was interested to see on Dec 3 that one had been happily living for three days within one of the huge commercial greenhouses in the Runcton area near Chichester and was welcome for its help in reducing unwanted insect numbers.

Blackbird: Brian Fellows heard one in sub-song at Emsworth on Dec 2 - this will probably be heard once or twice more before regular song starts at the beginning of February

Song Thrush: Brian Fellows also heard two of these singing in Ensworth on Dec 2 (with more partial song there on Dec 5) and Durlston reported one singing there that day - they should now be starting regular song

Redwing: On Nov 28 a second attempt was made to count the number of Redwing coming to roost at a site in the New Forest where the first attempt on Nov 22 indicated a total 40,000 or more. The second attempt only recorded 10,885 birds but we now know that the site is the Holly Hatch woodland south west of Fritham

Willow Tit: This species seems to be effectively extinct in Hampshire and is now rare in other southern counties but one was definitely heard and seen at Warnham (Horsham) on Nov 29 - it was in a mixed Tit flock which included a couple of Marsh Tits for comparison

Blue Tit: On Dec 2 I was amused to see one on a scaffolding tower in my garden exploring the open end of a short steel tube strengthing the stability of the tower. The bird then disappeared to re-appear about a minute later at the other end of the tube - I hope it found a spider or two inside. This reminded me of a Great Tit which disappeared from my view while during a bird census in Warblington cemetery some years ago - it had gone down a plastic tube used to water the roots of a newly planted tree and the tit had made an underground nest down it.

Rook: On Dec 4 a flock of 200 was feeding in a stubble field at Keyhaven (Lymington)

Chaffinch: Song reported to have been heard at Durlston on Dec 2

Bullfinch: I was very pleased to come across one near Fort Widley on Portsdown on Dec 3 - I found several last January with one more on Feb 14 but since then I have only had one (on Oct 8) before this one

Hawfinch: 4 were back at their winter site in Romsey (by the canal at the end of Mercer's Way) on Nov 29

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

No dragonflies this week and only two butterflies - two sightings of a Red Admiral in East Sussex on Dec 1 and 4, and one Peacock in north Hampshire on Nov 28 plus one in East Sussex on Dec 4

Moths have only two reports - on Dec 3 Portland reported that the catch in their moth trap was down to two moths (one being the common Rusty-dot Pearl) and on Dec 4 the Planet Thanet has news of the emergence of a Bramble Leaf Miner (Stigmella aurella) indoors - outdoors it would probably have waited until April or May.

Other insects have two more interesting reports - on Nov 28 two birders taking a coffee break in north Kent were surprised when an unspecified Tortoise Beetle species flew in and landed on their warm flask. Then, on Dec 1, Brian Fellows was surprised to find a Yellow Dung Beetle on the flowerhead of a Hogweed Plant in Brook Meadow at Emsworth - almost certainly the same lone insect that he had seen there on Nov 27 and presumably still waiting (like the Garden Cross Spider which has spent the past two months on a web inside a window of his house demonstrating how long it can remain motionless waiting for food to get caught in its web) for some smaller insect to land on the same Hogweed umbel so that the Dung Fly can pounce on it and eat it.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The final total of plant species known to me to be flowering during November came out at 122. If we escape a serious period of frost in December I will not be surprised if the December total also tops 100 - it is already up to 60 species by Dec 5

White Mustard (Sinapis alba): I found several plants of this still having flowers and seeds (but little in the way of leaves) around the edges of a cabbage crop on Portsdown on Dec 3 giving me not only a tick for December flowering but also a year tick for me (I cannot remember coming across this plant anywhere before!)

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria): This species flowers freely as an established garden escape on the Sinah Common shore south of the Hayling Golf Club and has been there since at least 1985. I'm pretty sure that none of the plants there are still flowering in that exposed situation but one plant which flowered from July to October by the Water Wheel on the Langbrook Stream (immediately north of the A27 near the Langstone roundabout), and which then seemed totally dead, had several fresh flowers on Dec 1

Black Medick: This common species could still be found flowering in the Havant Rail Station carpark on Dec 2

Dog Rose: After several finds of this flowering in November I was greeted by a single flower on Dec 1 at the mouth of the Langbrook stream where it meets Langstone Harbour in the South Moors area

Creeping Cinquefoil: A couple of flowers seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Dec 2

Sun Spurge: This was not on my November list but I found a fresh plant with 'flowers' in the Havant New Lane allotments on Dec 2

Fools Parsley: This also was not found in November but on Dec 1 I found a couple of well grown plants flowering by the Billy Trail in the Langstone area

Burnet Saxifrage: Several flowering plant in the Eastern Road cemetery on Dec 2 and a lot more on Portsdown on Dec 4

Common Toadflax: Durlston reported this in flower on Dec 5

Small Scabious: A small collection of this was flowering by the roadside on Portsdown on Dec 3

Redshank: Found flowering for the first time during November on Nov 28 by the Lavant/Langbrook stream alongside the southern edge of Havant Park

Water Forget-me-not: Still in fresh flower by the Langbrook Stream immediately north of the A27 (by the Water Wheel) on Dec 1

Butcher's Broom: Flowers could be found on Dec 1 on the plant at the gateway of the West Mill property at the end of Mill Lane in Langstone

Bee Orchid: John Goodspeed found leaf rosettes showing in a regular spot at Langstone on Nov 20 and Rosemary Webb reported Green Winged Orchids also showing their leaves about that time

OTHER WILDLIFE

Grey Squirrel: White furred animals are still frequently seen in the Portsmouth area and the latest sighting is of one in the Crookhorn are on Portsdown Hill on Nov 22

Brown Hare: These are not so commonly seen (or at least not frequently reported) but one was on the Sussex Downs in the area south of Amberley known as The Burgh on Nov 29

Common Frog: These began to be seen in ponds around Nov 24 and by the end of that week there was a report of 4 found in a garden pond on Portsdown when it was being cleaned

Common Newt: At least one found in a Portsdown Hill garden pond during the week ending Nov 29

Fungi: Phil Budd found a very uncommon species (not previously found in Hampshire) on dead Aspen trees at the IBM Portsmouth North Harbour site on Nov 20 - it is called Auriculariopsis ampla and looks somewhat like the common Jews Ear (you can see a good photo of different specimen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/44473917@N04/4089095267/ ). More recently I found eight species in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery (Rufous Milkcap, Butter Waxcap, Snowy Waxcap, Split Fibrecap, Dark Scaled Knight, Wood Blewit and Grey Coral Fungus) and I have included photos of some of them in my diary entry for Dec 2. There is still a good show on my lawn with a new species for the year - Trichoglossum hirsutum (Hairy Earthtongue) - appeared on Dec 3 - see photos with the diary entry for Dec 4. Also on Dec 3 I had my second find of Common Inkcap for this season.


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 23 - 29 (Week 47 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-throated Diver: Nine sightings between Nov 22 and 29 include one bird off the Hamble estuary on both Nov 23 and 24 (first seen there on Nov 21)

Great Northern Diver: One site in Devon (Hope's Nose) recorded 12 birds on Nov 22, Weymouth Bay had 7 on Nov 24 and Southampton Water seems to have had 3 since Nov 22 but was up to six (including a summer-plumaged bird) by Nov 29. On Nov 27 one was swimming very close to the Eastney shore (Langstone Harbour entrance) in a dead flat calm and on Nov 28 two could be seen from Budds Mound in water north ot the RSPB Langstone islands. On Nov 29 this winter's highest count was upped from the 12 in Devon noted above to 23 off Jersey in the Channel Isles

Pacific Diver: The bird which was reported in my last weekly summary as having turned up at the Hayle estuary in Cornwall on Nov 18 seems to have also been seen at Slimbridge that same day with a second reported sighting at Slimbridge on Nov 19 (it seems more likely that there is just one bird involved in the sightings at both sites rather than there are two of these rarities at sites within flying distance of each other, though it is still being regularly seen at Hayle up to Nov 25)

Black-necked Grebe: After sightings of 7 in Langstone Harbour on Nov 6, with 6 there on Nov 8, there have been no more reports from that harbour until Nov 28 when two were in the northern area of the harbour (off Broadmarsh) seen from Budds Mound.

Sooty Shearwater: One was seen off Selsey Bill on Nov 26 and there was another sighting from the mouth of Pagham Harbour on Nov 28

Leach's Petrel: I have now picked up 47 reports of this species since Sep 3 with a recent surge in numbers since Nov 14 - the pevious high coastal count of 5 at Portland on Nov 14 has been topped with 8 in that area on Nov 23 (when six more were at Slimbridge, up to four were seen at Christchurch Harbour and at least one was seen from Milford, west of Lymington). On Nov 29 Bob Chapman saw 6 from Milford and believes there may have been more than 10 there. On Nov 28 Marcus Ward witnessed the death of one of these birds off the Lymington shore after it had put up a game struggle to survive - he first saw it being attacked by four Herring Gulls, then watched two Peregrines make a concerted attack on it during which one Peregrine caught it but it managed to wriggle free and fell into the sea from which it managed to get airborne again and head for the mouth of the Lymington River where it was met by a cordon of gulls which would not let it pass but pecked it to death.

Latest news for Nov 29 includes a sighting of five of these Petrels at the mouth of Chichester Harbour where two of the five were killed by Gulls. Other sightings along the Hampshire shore may have been of the three that got away but one seen inland at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood was probably a different bird but that did not prevent it also being attacked by Gulls and a Peregrine though it did get away from them. Back in the Solent more Petrels were seen - John Norton saw ten Leach's at Lee on the Solent

Cattle Egret: One was frequently seen on the Lymington Marshes from Aug 19 until Nov 9 but has not been seen there from then until Nov 28. I notice that during this recent absence from Lymington there has been a string of sightings at Winkton in the Avon Valley (just north of Christchurch) from Nov 15 to 26, making me wonder if it was the same bird at both sites. With that thought in mind I also see that an isolated sighting at Lee in the Test Valley just north of the M27 occurred on a day (Aug 30) when the Lymington bird was not reported, though it was there on Aug 29 and 31. Against this idea there were two birds at Lymington from Oct 1 to 15 and I have no idea what happened to the second of these.

Little Egret: On Nov 25 John Clark recorded a night roost of 47 at Arlebury Lake (New Alresford near the source of the R Itchen) - it could well be that there have been many Egrets in that area for some time but the count does confirm that we are now in the winter period when many Egrets move inland from the coast. Another minor indication of this came on Nov 27 when, for the first time this winter, I found 6 Egrets actively feeding at mid-day in the pony fields north of Wade Court at Langstone

Spoonbill: One was seen near Farlington Marshes on Nov 22 (maybe the same bird that was on the RSPB islands on Nov 15?) and on Nov 24 a party of four were seen flying south east over Ibsley (just north of Ringwood in the Avon Valley)

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge was up to 21 by Nov 18 after the highest previous count there had been 18 on Nov 14. The increase at Slimbridge probably reflects the arrival of the family of three which had been seen at Iblsey near Ringwood from Nov 10 to 17 but not thereafter.

Whooper Swan: The pair which arrived at Ivy Lake (Chichester) on Nov 15 were still there on Nov 22 but, as in past years, they flew off at 8:20 am to remain out of sight through the day.

Brent Goose: I am pretty sure that some Brent will have been feeding on inland fields for some time but I have seen no positive reports of this change in their feeding habits until this week (there was a report of 2000 Brent on the Thorney Island old airfield back on Oct 14, and I am sure some will have been regular on the Farlington Marshes for some time now but these birds may have been using thoses areas as roosts rather than feeding areas?) . First of these reports was made on Nov 26 when just two birds were seen on Southsea Common in Portsmouth but there could be no doubt that this was a mass movement from the harbours to the fields on Nov 27 when I found 400 birds on what seems to have been a cereal crop purposefully sown for them (presumably grant aided!) in one of the Warblington Farm fields adjacent to the Chichester Harbour shore - it was clear that they had been feeding here for several days as they had already nibbled the leaves of the cereal/grass down to the ground in the adjacent field (and the same flock of 400 birds had been seen in the harbour close to these fields on Nov 26. Further confimation of this move inland came on Nov 29 with the first report of a Black Brant back on the HMS Sultan playing fields in Gosport - although the report did not mention Brent accompanying the Brant I feel sure that there would have been a flock there which has not been reported earlier this winter.

Pale-bellied Brent: The flock at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) continues to increase and was up to 27 birds on Nov 22. I also see that a couple of birds had moved to Baiter Park in Poole on Nov 25 reflecting the move inland of the Dark-bellied birds.

Red-breasted Goose: A single bird has been at Black Hill Quarry Pools in Devon (3 miles east of the Exe estuary at Lympstone and 3 miles north of the sea at Budleigh Salterton) from Oct 28 to Nov 24 - it is listed as being of unknown origin which I think is a polite way of saying there is no chance of it being a genuine wild bird. Nevertheless this is the fourth consecutive winter in which a lone bird has turned up in southern England at the end of October, moved erratically between sites, and then left with the departing Brent at the beginning of March. It was first found at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on 4 Nov 2006, stayed there for three weeks, then moved to Poole Harbour on Nov 29 and stayed there until 26 Jan 2007 when it moved to the Lymington marshes. It became restless there and on Feb 4 it was at the mouth of the Beaulieu River, on Feb 15 it was back at Ferrybridge, then on Feb 17 it turned up in the south east corner of Langstone Harbour at Sinah Warren on Hayling, only staying there until Feb 24 when it moved to the mouth of Chichester Harbour where it remained mobile between West Wittering and south east Hayling until it vanished on Feb 28. It was next seen back in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on 24 Nov 2007, staying in the West Wittering are until year end and alternating between there and east Hayling through Jan and Feb 2008 until it left on Mar 6 when Andy Johnson was the last to see it from Black Point on Hayling. Eddie Wiseman was the first to see it that autumn in the Lymington area on Oct 31 and it stayed there until 4 Feb 2009 before appearing back in the West Wittering area on Feb 24, staying there until it left on Mar 8. The question now is whether the bird which turned up in Devon on Oct 28 (and is still there) is the one we have been discussing... Looking at the current return date in relation to the history of the bird I favour assuming it is the same bird and its location further west is probably a result of strong tail winds while the inland site is not far fom the sea and (looked at on the Google satellite image) looks more like a moonscape (maybe reminiscent of it summer habitat in Siberia) than normal Devon countryside. Against this several people have pointed out that 'plastic' Red-breasted Geese are fairly common and I must agree that, unless wild Brent or othe genuine wildfowl are also using the Black Hill Quarry site, the bird there is unlikely to be wild.

Wigeon: Counts at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 23 recorded 2000 Wigeon, 1600 Teal, 560 Mallard, 140 Pintail and 85 Shoveler

Scaup: No English site has had more than 5 Scaup this autumn (5 at Abbotsbury in Devon on Nov 19 but all five seem to have moved to Lodmoor at Weymouth by Nov 28) but on Oct 14 one Dutch site reported 2059 and on Nov 22 another Dutch site reported 1365 birds. I assume these figures are correct but I wonder why we have not heard more of the birds seen in October?

Smew: Still none in England but Nov 22 brought a report of 3 at a Dutch site (after one previous report of a single bird in Belgium on Nov 15)

Marsh Harrier: On Nov 22 what was described as a second winter male bird was seen flying west towards Langstone Bridge past the Northney Marina area of Hayling

Peregrine: One pair in the Seaford area near Beachy Head where thinking of spring on Nov 27 when the male was seen to pass prey to the female which readily took and ate it.

Grey Plover: A bird with red colour rings on both legs arrived back in the Eastney area of Portsmouth (near Langstone Harbour entrance) on Nov 23 for the seventh consecutive winter - 186 Sanderling were also seen there that day

Black-tailed Godwit: We often hear how rich in bird food our harbour mud is but when ground water rises and forces earthworms to the surface many Godwits indicate their preference for this food source (plus the added warmth and comfort of an inland site as opposed to open harbour mud). On Nov 15 a flock of 168 moved in to the grassland of Titchfield Haven and on Nov 24 the Pulborough Brooks area attracted around 170 birds and by Nov 26 there were 245 there (on Nov 15 there had only been 10 birds there). I have also noticed that Curlew (with similar long bills) are now preferring to feed in the Warblington fields here in the Havant area even at low tide in preference to the nearby harbour mud)

Purple Sandpiper: There were 9 at Southsea Castle on Nov 28 and other sightings this week include 13 at Newhaven on Nov 24 and 33 in the Pegwell Bay/Thanet area of Kent on Nov 23

Black-tailed Godwit: A count of around 245 in the Amberley Wild Brooks area on Nov 26 set a new record for that part of the Arun valley while an even higher count of 370 on Nov 29 was a new record for the Forton Lake area of Gosport (Forton Lake is a short creek off the Gosport shore of Portsmouth Harbour with the 'Explosion Museum' at its mouth) but the birds there may well be regulars in that area though normally hidden away uncounted on grassland within the Navy's Defence Munitions Depot a little way north of Forton Lake

Greenshank: Another record count was made on Nov 25 at the Nore Barn site on the west shore of Emsworth when 13 Greenshank were present there (to put this number in perspective there were 60 Greenshank at the nearby Thorney Island Great Deeps roost on 15 Sep 2007 (with 57 there on Aug 1 that year))

Spotted Sandpiper: On Nov 20 Mike Rafter came on a Sandpiper in the private garden of a large house by the River Test at Mottisfont (between Romsey and Stockbridge) but could only get distant views from a bridge over the river and was only able to make a tentative claim for its identity which was not confirmed until Nov 26. The Mottisfont bird was still present on Nov 29 Lee Evans tells us that there is a second bird of this species currently in the UK (on the Exe estuary in South Devon) and that it too was only positively identified on Nov 26 after being present at that site for three weeks - Spotted is very similar to Common Sandpiper. This is a rare visitor from north America but not a 'mega' rarity - currently there are four in the British Isles with one at Abberton Reservoir in Essex and another a Killearn by the R Clyde near Glasgow in addtion to the first two.

For anyone wanting to see the bird the instructions are to park at SU 3356-2700 on the west side of the A3057 just north of the turning to Mottisfont then to walk north for 864 metres on a path (old rail line) running between the A3057 and the River Test. This will bring you to a bridge over the river at SU 3387-2787 and you view the bird from this bridge - it is in the private grounds of Lower Brook House (SU 3384-2797) to the north of you and can often be seen on a riverside lawn

Grey Phalarope: The bird which was found at Badminston Common near Fawley in the New Forest on Nov 18 was still there on Nov 24 but has not been reported since Nov 25. Another bird which turned up at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Nov 21 was also still present on Nov 27 and there have been several multiple sightings at Portland up to Nov 28 (including 4 there in Nov 22). Sightings on Nov 28 include one at the mouth of Pagham Harbour and another of a flooded section of Amberley Wild Brooks while on Nov 29 at least one was seen at Barton on Sea

Med Gull: More than 100 were present at the mouth of Pagham Harbour on Nov 28 (in Feb 2009 up to 267 were counted there and in Sep 2008 the flock peaked at 379 birds)

Little Gull: Still very few on the English coast (current reports are of 2 at Weymouth on Nov 22 and 2 at Milford near Lymington on Nov 29 with a few singles elsewhere) but Ousitreham on the Normandy coast had 704 on Nov 22 and 581 on Nov 29

Kittiwake: A lot of these are currently moving west in the English Channel - 435 were seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Nov 23 and 200 went past Portland on Nov 24 with 156 passing Selsey Bill on Nov 29

Sandwich Tern: Wintering birds reported in the past few days at Langstone Harbour (2), Milford on sea (3) and Poole Harbour (3 or 4) while across the Channel the large number that have been off the Normandy coast (102 on Nov 16 and 47 on Nov 19) were down to 27 on Nov 22. Latest local sighting was one at Eastney (Langstone Harbour entrance) on Nov 27

'Commic Tern': One was seen entering Langstone Harbour at Eastney on Nov 26 and another was at a Dutch site on Nov 29

Lesser Crested Tern: When I saw one of these had been reported at a Spanish site called Ceuta I searched all the marked sites around the Spanish coast but could not find this name - in fact a small part of North Africa is Spanish territory across the Straits of Gibralter and this bird was seen there on Nov 22

Auks: A mixed bag of 966 Guillemots and Razorbills was off the Normandy coast of France on Nov 29

Guillemot: More than 100 were back on the breeding ledges at Durlston on Nov 27 with many still there next day (not breeding yet but staking their claim to a plot when the time comes)

Razorbill: 119 were counted on the Normandy coast on Nov 29

Puffin: Four reports of singles in the English Channel this week but one was already a corpse (at Portland on Nov 28) and I suspect the others have all take a beating in the gales. In connection with this there is a report on the SOS site dated Nov 26 which says .. "A circuit of Arlington Reservoir between the squally showers (thank goodness for the hide!) and the sad sight of the corpses of around 40 gulls, mostly mature, dotted along the north shoreline. Carrion Crows kept happy, no other species seemed to be affected."

Stock Dove: Still no reports of flocks settling in southern England for the winter but Durlston continues to report moderately large passing flocks - 250 on Nov 17 and 159 on Nov 26 with several reports of smaller groups (less than 50 birds)

Wood Pigeon: Passage is not yet over - Christchurch Harbour had 3500 roosting over night to leave on Nov 25 and Durlston had 3000 over on Nov 26 and 700+ on Nov 27

Ring-necked Parakeet: On Nov 22 one was seen close to a bird feeding station at Lee hamlet close to the River Test just north of the M27

Swallow: Two were seen at Brading Marshes (IoW) on Nov 23 and on Nov 24 there were two at Sandwich Bay and five in the Thanet area of Kent. On Nov 27 one was seen at Durlston (with 3 seen across the Channel in Brittany) and one was seen in Kent on Nov 28

House Martin: Just one in the Thanet area on Nov 24 followed on Nov 26 by two in Kent and one near Hastings

Black Redstart: Plenty of these around but I cannot resist passing on the report of one seen from an office window in Lewes on Nov 26 - the bird was a female enjoying the good life eating grapes from a vine!

Whinchat: One had been seen at Folkestone on Nov 10 and there is another report of one in the Scillies on Nov 22

Ring Ouzel: Two were seen at Berry Head in Devon on Nov 21 and one was still there on Nov 23

Fieldfare: On Nov 22 there were more than 1000 in the Kent Stour valley but of local interest one was seen eating Haws in an Emsworth garden on Nov 24

Redwing: The night roost discovered by Martin Bennett in the New Forest on or before Nov 17 (when Martin was unable to estimate the very large numbers) has (on Nov 22) had a first attempt at a co-ordinated count with three observers but they also were unable to come up with an authoritative count. One of them was John Clark who gives the sum of their individual counts as 28,250 birds but adds that there were almost certainly more than 40,000 and could have been 100,000. Another large roost was noted at Upton Heath (north side of Poole Harbour) on Nov 27 with 1674 birds seen leaving the roost at dawn - another report from the Crawley area of Sussex speaks of 'thousands everywhere'.

Dartford Warbler: Further evidence of dispersal along the south coast comes from sightings of single birds at Rye Harbour on Nov 26 and on the Pevensey Levels on Nov 28

Penduline Tit: At least two still at the Dungeness RSPB site on Nov 27

Great Grey Shrike: A report of one in the Ferndown area of Dorset on Nov 15 may indicate the arrival of others in the New Forest which is not far from Ferndown

Goldfinch: These are still leaving us for warmer winter quarters - on Nov 24 Portland reported another 295 heading south and on Nov 21 Dungeness reported 460 presumably leaving. 1000 headed south from Portland on Nov 25 and 900 followed them on Nov 26 with 400 on Nov 27 and 250 on Nov 28

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: One still flying in the Thanet area of Kent on Nov 15

Common Darter: A report on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation site reports several till flying on Nov 21 in 'Wish Wood' but gives no hint as to where that may be - I assume somewhere in Sussex

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: One seen in Kent (Thanet) on Nov 23 and one on Portsdown on Nov 25

Brimstone: Two reports - one seen at the unknown Wish Wood on Nov 21 and another seen in Stansted Forest by Adrian Hoskins who guessed that the insect he saw resting in sunshine on a tree trunk had been blown out of it hibernation site (perhaps in ivy)

Red Admiral: Seen in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire (one blown against my house windows) on Nov 21 and 23. Further sightings in Gosport on Nov 25 when another was seen in Worthing 'trying to enter a Jeweller's shop'

Peacock: One in Wish Wood (Sussex) on Nov 21 and one in a south Hayling garden on or just before Nov 25

Other Insects

Huebneria affinis: Late news of a very rare fly found at Rye Harbour on June 20 but only now identified as a species only recorded twice before in Britain - one at Folkesteon in 1866 and another at Deal in 1921. It belongs to a group of flies whose larvae parasitise 'Woolly Bear' type caterpillara

Garden Cross Spider: The saga of this spider which has been on the inside of a window in Brian Fellows' home at Emsworth for 8 weeks continues. On Nov 27 this spider had not moved a muscle for three weeks to the best of Brian's knowledge but when a large fly blundered into the web on that day the spider was off like a shot to try to capture a long awaited meal. Unfortunately the Fly was big enough to tear itself free, wrecking the web in the process. The Spider then followed its standard practice, first eating the remains of the old web, then spinning another in a slightly different place

PLANTS

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My current total of species flowering this month now stands at 122 and will be at least 123 when the identity of white flowers on a small tree at Nore Barn Woods has been determined - it is either Blackthorn or Cherry Plum.

Meadow Buttercup: Two plants covered with flowers in the field between the Royal Oak and the Billy Trail at Langstone were new for the month on Nov 26

Garlic Mustard: This had been seen near the New Forest on Nov 16 but I was excited to find a plant with flowers in Langstone village area on Nov 26

White Campion: This was new for the month in Havant on Nov 23

Procumbent Pearlwort: Also new on Nov 26 (in my garden)

Dog Rose: Another report of a bush with several flowers among the hips seen on South Hayling on Nov 25

Wood Avens: This had been found flowering in Emsworth on Nov 18 but I was pleased to find it for myself in Langstone on Nov 26

Broad-leaved Willowherb: Flowering in my Havant garden on Nov 26

Holly: Another find of flowers on a self sown tree in Havant on Nov 23 (after one earlier find in Hollybank Woods on Nov 2)

Tamarisk: A careful look at the wind-blown trees on the Warblington shore on Nov 27 got this onto the November flowering list (but only just!)

Dog's Mercury: Definitely the best find of the month - I usually find this first in January and I cannot recall finding it before the year end before so a find of two fresh male plants in Pook Lane at Warblington on Nov 26 was great

Great Mullein: One plant flowering on south Hayling on Nov 25 was an addition to the November list

Field Madder: Another new entry for Novemeber flowering on Nov 26

Sea Aster: A single plant flowering on the Nore Barn saltings at Emsworth on Nov 27 was the only record of this for the month

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: After several reports in the period Aug 30 to Oct 5 I have not noted any until now when six were off Jersey in the Channel Isles on Nov 29

Common Seal: One reported in the Marchwood area at the head of Southampton Water onNov 26

Roe Deer: Up to ten are being seen on the north Hayling Fields between Stoke and Northney in the past week

Common Frog: Mild and wet weather has brought Frogs back to breeding ponds in the Hastings/Rye area and on south Hayling though there is no report of any spawn so far

Newts: On the Rye Bay website Brian Banks reports that a pond in Gloucestershire already had all three Newt species back in it by Nov 22 and he wonders if the current earliest date for finding Great Crested Newt eggs (at present Dec 26) will be beaten this year. In his own pond at Northiam (north of Hastings) the first Common Newt was back on Nov 24 (last year the first was not seen until Dec 15)

Fungi: New species for my list were Dark Scaled Knight (Tricholoma atrosquamosum) - found on Nov 27 in Havant where a Beech tree once stood on - and the first Common Inkcaps (after several finds of Glistening Inkcaps) growing beside the A259 on the north side of Warblington Farm on Nov 27. On Nov 26 I came on my first Oyster Mushrooms of the winter growing from where a branch had broken off an Ash tree in Langstone. Also on Nov 26 I re-visited the presumed Rhodotus palmatus in Pook Lane and had confirmation of its identity when I found that both specimens which I had photographed the other day had fallen to the ground revealing both that they had stout but short stems and that the gills were forked randomly at points between the stem and the cap rim. On the log from which they had fallen Neobulgaria pura (Beech Jellydisk) had appeared and on a nearby fallen Elm I found my first Jelly Ear (=Jew's Ear) of the winter.


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 16 - 22 (Week 46 of 2009)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red Throated Diver: Numbers are said to be building in Mount's Bay, Cornwall (between The Lizard and Penzance) but the only count to exceed 100 so far comes from Holland where 143 were at Terschelling on Nov 20

Black-throated Diver: Of five reports this week one was seen near Warsash (mouth of Southampton Water) on Nov 21 and one was the first ever to visit the Slimbridge WWT reserve, being blown inland up the Severn on Nov 18

Great Northern Diver: At least two, and maybe four or five, were around south Hayling on Nov 15 (birds seen in Hayling Bay and in the south of Langstone Harbour may or may not be the same as two which flew west from Sandy Point). In Dorset on Nov 17 there were at least six in the Weymouth Bay/Portland Harbour area and on Nov 18 one was off Titchfield Haven. On Nov 19 one was in the Emsworth Channel and on Nov 20 one was in Southampton Water (where three were seen on Nov 22). On Nov 21 one was in Langstone Harbour, seen from the Hayling Oysterbeds.

Pacific Diver (Gavia pacifica): When I saw that one was in the north Cornwall Hayle estuary on Nov 18 I had to search the internet to find out about this species which was not seen in Britain until Jan 2007 (in Yorkshire). Since then one has been at Haverfordwest in Wales in Jan 2008 and maybe the same individual is now back in Cornwall. This species closely resembles our Black-throated Diver but lacks the distinctive white flank patch of that species - as the name implies it is common on the west coast of north America

Great Crested Grebe: In January of this year there were probably more than 1000 wintering in the Rye Bay/Dungeness area with another 1000 off the coast of Holland. No large flocks reported yet in Kent but on Nov 14 there were 376 off one Dutch site and on Nov 20 two sites over there reported 552 and 545 respectively (I think two separate flocks)

Slavonian Grebe: On Nov 14 one was in Cams Bay (where Fareham Creek meets Portsmouth Harbour) and on Nov 15 one (which probably arrived there on Nov 12) was in the north of Langstone Harbour (Chalkdock area) and that one may have stayed in Langstone Harbour to be see from its west shore on Nov 17

Cattle Egret: One was briefly in the lower Avon valley (just north of Christchurch) on Nov 15 and seems to have settled in that area as it was seen on Nov 21 'opposite 38 Burley Road, Winkton' (presumably in a field)

Spoonbill: One was seen sleeping on Baker's Island in Langstone Harbour on Nov 15 but has not been reported since

Bewick's Swan: The family of three (pair with one juvenile) which arrived in the Ibsley/Harbridge area of the Avon valley on Nov 10 was still around on Nov 17

Whooper Swan: Two appeared on Ivy Lake at Chichester on Nov 15 and were still there next day. Presumably these are the same pair which have wintered there in recent winters. Last winter they turned up on Nov 30 and left on Jan 11 and in the previous winter (when they had 3 cygnets with them) they arrived on Dec 16 and left on Feb 10. From previous experience they are likely to use the main Chichester Lakes as night roosts but to spend much of their days on lakes inaccessible to the public in the north Mundham area.

Cackling Canada Goose: One of these half size birds, and the Cape Barren goose, are currently among the mixed goose flock with the Canadas at Titchfield Haven

Pale Bellied Brent: The first three were in the Weymouth area on Oct 4 and eight were there on Nov 3. That goup had increased to 18 (at Ferrybridge) on Nov 17 and to 20 on Nov 18

Black Brant: On Nov 17 three were still at Ferrybridge

Egyptian Goose: Seven appeared at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 15. Three were there on Aug 21, eight on Sep 21 and now this group. A pair had raised five goslings at Petworth Lake in April and these may be the seven now at the RSPB site. Also seen this week was one at Brading Marsh on the IoW (maybe a local escape from Flamingo Park)

Shelduck: Winter numbers are now building up locally - on Nov 20 there were 54 in the small bay off the site of the old Northney Holiday Camp on Hayling

Gadwall: A count of 166 on Dogmersfield Lake in north Hampshire on Nov 16 was a surprise as there had been no reports of any there earlier in the year (the only report I have seen was of 52 on Tundry Pond in the same area on Feb 19)

Pintail: The first to arrive back at the Blashford Lakes this autumn were a group of 18 seen on Nov 17 (up to 240 were there last March)

Pochard: On Nov 15 Mike Collins saw a male on the Budds Farm Pools at Havant distinctively marked with a plate attached to its upper bill showing a blue J. Mike had seen this same bird here on Jan 20 this year and found it had been marked in France.

Hybrid Ferruginous Ducks: On Sep 8 I believe I saw the regular male Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid ('Fudge Duck') back on the Budds Farm pools to which it has been returning each winter since 1999 but it has not been reported there by others until now when Mike Collins saw two similar hybrids at Budds Farm on Nov 15 but he believes that neither was the original bird. On that same day Steve Mansfield believes the original Fudge Duck was on the Sinah gravel pit lake on south Hayling.

Long-tailed Duck: Two of these had been in Langstone Harbour on Nov 12 and one of those (a male) may be the bird that was in Freshwater Bay (Isle of Wight) on Nov 14 and 15. The other bird, a female, may have stayed in Langstone Harbour to be seen in the Chalkdock area on Nov 15 (on Nov 16 what was possibly the same female was off the Birdham marina in Chichester Harbour)

Goldeneye: Five were in the Chalkdock area of Langstone Harbour on Nov 15 - other than a single bird seen on Nov 6 these seem to be the first in Langstone Harbour this winter. Several were off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 21.

Smew: None reported in Britain so far this winter but one was seen in Belgium on Nov 15 (another single had been in Holland on Oct 3 but that may have been too early for a wild migrant?)

Goosander: A male turned up at Dungeness on Nov 15 and a party of three males may have been making their way south towards the Hampshire coast this week - they were seen at Bramshill in north Hampshire on Nov 19 and on Nov 20 a similar party of three were on the Petersfield Heath Lake

Marsh Harrier: These are increasing in numbers throughout Britain and many remain with us through the winter. They have been regular visitors to Titchfield Haven for many years and this winter we may have one based in Langstone Harbour as there have been sightings of a female at Farlington Marshes on Nov 6, 12 and 16. I was surprised to see (in 'Birds of Hants') that between 1961 and 1992 there had been 64 sightings in Langstone Harbour and only 50 at Titchfield Haven, and I see from recent annual bird reports that there have been more sightings at Farlington Marshes than I was aware of so perhaps I should not see the current three reports as being unusual

Goshawk: A female was seen over Kingley Vale (north of Chichester) on Nov 15 (and on Nov 16 a male Hen Harrier was being harrassed by a Peregrine there)

Merlin: A female got her picture on the Sandwich Bay website after an incident on Nov 16 in which a resident near the bird observatory had called for help in resolving a dispute between a Sparrowhawk and a Merlin taking place in the kitchen of the resident's home - this was resolved without permanent damage to either bird or the property

Avocet: The flock at Farlington Marshes which had not exceeded 11 birds up to Nov 7 was up to 21 birds on Nov 12 and 16. On Nov 18 there was a first mention of five birds in Pagham Harbour and on Nov 20 a flock of 13 were seen off the east side of Thorney Island at Stanbury Point just south of the military fence (these are probably the birds wintering in Nutbourne Bay area)

Golden Plover: A flock of around 3000 were on the old Thorney Island airfield on Nov 20

Sanderling: The high tide flock at Black Point on Hayling Island numbered 270 on Nov 17. This is the first mention of Sanderling in this area since 70+ were seen on the Pilsey sands on Sep 6

Purple Sandpiper: Still seven at Southsea Castle on Nov 20

Black-tailed Godwit: A count of 168 at Titchfield Haven on Nov 15 is the first report of the species at the Haven since Aug 27 when numbers had decreased to 50 from a summer peak of 160 in July - I guess this return of the birds to the site may have something to do with the dryness of the ground in the autumn followed by recent heavy rain! Locally there have been 100 or more in the Nore Barn area west of Emsworth since the start of November and the number reached a peak of 146 on Nov 17 (also on Nov 18 a lone bird was back in the pony field south of Wade Court at Langstone - this field includes the orginal course of the Lymbourne stream before it was diverted to serve Langstone Mill and on Nov 15 the field started to flood as if does each winter)

Bar-tailed Godwit: One in summer plumage was present at Black Point on Hayling on Nov 17 - several wader species seem to have occasional individuals with wrongly set biological clocks causing them to wear summer plumage in winter and (I think) winter plumage in summer though I am not sure if the fault keeps them permanently in summer plumage.

Greenshank: There were 22 in the Thorney Great Deeps roost on Nov 20

Common Sandpiper: So far I have seen no reports of wintering Common Sandpipers in the Havant area but two were seen at the Lower Test (Southampton) on Nov 11, one was in the Holes Bay area of of Poole Harbour on Nov 14 and two were in the lower reaches of the R Adur in Sussex on Nov 17. On Nov 21 on was on the shore at Fishbourne (IoW)

Spotted Sandpiper: A 'possible only' was seen on the banks of the R Test near Mottisfont on Nov 20

Grey Phalarope: Six reports between Nov 15 and 19 come from Devon and Cornwall (on Nov 15), from Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Nov 18. One was at the Badminston pits on the edge of the New Forest near Fawley on Nov 18 and on Nov 19 that one was still present as was one in Chesil Cove at Portland which may have been the Ferrybridge bird. The Badminston bird was still being seen on Nov 21

Little Gull: Still very few on the English south coast (max 4 off Portland on Nov 16) while large numbers are being recorded on the French coast (1454 off Normandy on Nov 16 though the number there was down to 660 on Nov 17 and 550 on Nov 18)

Ring-billed Gull: There have now been three sightings at the Blashford Lakes this autumn (two on Oct 11 and singles on Nov 6 and 15). The Gosport Cockle Pond bird is still there

Sandwich Tern: A count of 9 seen from Black Point on Hayling on Nov 17 would seem to reflect wintering birds in Chichester Harbour but may include some late migrants as there were 102 off the Normandy coast on Nov 16 with 71 there on Nov 17 and 497 on Nov 19. Locally a wintering bird was fishing off the Emsworth western shore on Nov 20 and there was one in Haslar Lake at Gosport (just inside Portsmouth Harbour) on Nov 21

Little Auk: A few still coming through the Channel - one was in the Portland area on Nov 15 and 16 and there were two on the Dutch coast on Nov 17 with three there on Nov 20

Stock Dove: Very few have been reported on the move so far this autumn when compared with the vast numbers of Wood Pigeons but on Nov 17 Durlston reported 243 Stock Doves going over (along with 21,000 Wood Pigeons)

Ring-necked Parakeet: Another hint that these might be preparing to burst out of their London stronghold came on Nov 17 when ten were seen flying south down the M23 near Crawley

Swallow: Still being seen daily up to Nov 21 when there were 4 at Titchfield Haven and 1 at Durlston. On Nov 18 one was feeding over Runcton Lake at Chichester and another was on the north Kent coast at Reculver. Nov 19 brought news of 3 passing Swanage while on Nov 20 HOSLIST carried a message from Nigel Jones (the leader of the Ornitholidays birding trips) to say he had just returned from the eastern side of South Africa where Swallows were dying in their thousands as a result of arriving exhausted after their long trip from Europe only to be met by exceptional cold weather which had grounded the insects that the Swallows should have been feeding on.

House Martin: Just one report this week of four birds seen over Catsfield in the Hastings area on Nov 21 (previous last sighting was Nov 14)

Richard's Pipit: One at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 15

Pied Wagtail: First report of a winter night roost comes from Fawley Power Station (in previous winters large numbers of Wagtails have regularly slept on lagged hot water pipes) - the evidence is only indirect - a total of 81 birds seen taking off from the Hook area across Southampton Water and heading for the power station at dusk on Nov 20

Black Redstart: On Nov 17 the male and female were still present around the houses at the east end of the Eastoke promenade near Sandy Point on Hayling and on Nov 19 one was reported near the Inn on the Beach at the other end of Hayling Bay

Ring Ouzel: One was still in Cornwall on Nov 15 (they do occasionally winter in this country)

Blackbird: The SOS news on Nov 15 had a story of one Blackbird eating the corpse of another which had died after being caught in chicken wire (probably blown into it during a gale)

Fieldfare: A birder in the Kent Stour valley on Nov 15 estimated more than 4500 Fieldfares there that day - plenty of others all across southern England

Redwing: A massive roost (probably exceeding the 4500 figure for Fieldfares!) has been found in the New Forest but the birder who found it is asking for help in assessing the actual number of birds - watch this space. An unusual report from the Northiam area (just north of Hastings) comes from a car driver who was driving along a minor road after dark and hit one of several Redwings on the road - it is thought that these were birds moving at night but had been forced down by strong winds and rain (maybe they had only just crossed the Channel and were exhausted)

Dusky Warbler: One was at Dungeness on Oct 23 and 25 and another was reported in Holland on Nov 11 - now there is news of a possible sighting in the Freshwater/Afton area of the Isle of Wight on Nov 21

Penduline Tit: Two were seen at the Dungeness RSPB site on Nov 15 and three were there on Nov 16 (still present on Nov 19)

Brambling: On Nov 17 Durlston reported 230 passing over (they had reported 125 over on Nov 2 but so far no one has had a settled flock greater than the one of 100 birds in the New Forest on Nov 11 - what was probably part of that flock was seen on Nov 21 a mile or so further south and having an estimated 60 birds)

Greenfinch: A reminder of how scarce these birds are was that one in my Havant garden on Nov 21 was the first of the winter there

Goldfinch: Still plenty of these on the move with a count of 1785 over Durlston on Nov 15 (a report of 720 going south from Portland that same day suggests that we will not be seeing large number for much longer)

Snow Bunting: The flock of 31 on the Sandwich golf course on Nov 11 had increased to 35 birds on Nov 15 (while a flock of 100 has been seen in Norfolk recently). The single bird at East Head in Chichester Harbour has not been reported since Nov 16

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Still three reports of Common Darter - one seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Nov 15 and two reports of singles on Nov 17 further along the north Kent coast at Seasalter (near Whitstable) and Swalecliffe

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: On Nov 15 one was seen near Worthing and another at Gosport. On Nov 17 one was still flying on Thorney Island, matched by another at Gosport

Holly Blue: There had been sightings in the Gosport area on Nov 2 and 5 but further reports of a male on Ivy there in Nov 17 and 19 were surprising

Red Admiral: As might be expected there are still reports of these with seven present in Gosport on Nov 15 and three reports of singles flying on Nov 17 (two in Sussex and one in the Channel Isles). Latest were three singles on Nov 19 at Gosport, Worthing and Storrington (near Pulborough)

Painted Lady: One at Sandy Point on Hayling and another in Thanet on Nov 15, two at Binstead (IoW) on Nov 17 when singles were reported at Lymington and in Jersey, and one near Horsham on Nov 18

Peacock: One in Gosport on Nov 15 and another on the Sussex Downs near Lewes on Nov 17

Comma: Just one seen at Binstead (IoW) on Nov 17

Speckled Wood: Two at Gosport on Nov 17

Moths

Winter Moth (1799 Operophtera brumata): First of this winter seen at Woods Mill (Henfield by the R. Adur) on Nov 18

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): On Nov 15 one was seen to fly into a shop at Hurst Green near Hastings and settle down to hibernate in a music player loudspeaker - I hope no customer asks for a demo while the moth is asleep.

Large Yellow Underwing (2107 Noctua pronuba): Reports from Worthing on Nov 16 and Pagham Harbour on Nov 20 show that these common migrants are still arriving

White-speck (2203 Mythimna unipuncta): These migrants can turn up any time through the year but are most frequent in Hampshire in Oct and Nov. The first report which I have picked up this year is of one at West Wittering on Nov 15

The Sprawler (2227 Brachionycha sphinx): This is another species most frequently found in November so a report of the first for the year at Rye on Nov 12 with another on Nov 15 is not unusual

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): This very common migrant can be seen in all months of the year but one at Portland on Nov 16 is worth comment as a late date (no doubt attributable to strong southerly winds)

Other Insects

Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis): One in a moth trap at Rye on Nov 15

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Several new additions to the flowering list this week bring the November total of species in flower to 110

Garlic Mustard: Flowering in the Ashurst area of the New Forest on Nov 16 - reported on the Butterfly Conservation Hampshire site

Cranesbill: Dove's Foot freshly flowering in Emsworth on Nov 18 and Small-flowered by the A27 at Bedhampton on Nov 17 were both surprise finds this week though Hedgerow Cranesbill at North Common on Hayling was more expected

Stork's-bill: Flowers seen on Nov 17 in a regular spot by the Broadmarsh slipway

Black Medick: Still flowering (with Perennial Wall-rocket) in the Havant railway carpark near New Lane level crossing on Nov 17

Dog Rose: A single flower at North Common, Hayling, on Nov 20

Wood Avens: A very unexpected find for the time of year at Emsworth on Nov 18

Hemlock: A single full grown plant covered with flowers at North Common, Hayling, on Nov 20

Wild Angelica: Freshly flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Nov 18

Common Centaury: A marginal find of an almost dead plant still holding up two unopen flower buds in the Broadmarsh area on Nov 17

Water Figwort: One plant had been revived into full flowering by the resumption of the overflow of water from the Bedhampton springs into the Hermitage Stream on Nov 17 (also there were fresh flowers on Hybrid Water Speedwell and Water Cress but no sign of Water Crowfoot)

Germander Speedwell: This is not plant which I expect to find flowering in winter but one plant was in full flower at Warblington Cemetery and another at Emsworth on Nov 18 (Common and Grey Field Speedwell and Thyme-leaved Speedwell have all been seen this month)

Viper's Bugloss: A couple of fresh flowers on an dying plant at Noth Common on Nov 20

Garden Lobelia: This was flowering as a garden escape at Emsworth on Nov 18 (when other escapes seen flowering were Green Alkanet and Honeysuckle)

Golden Samphire: This is almost universally over by now but I found a plant in full flower in a sheltered situation near Farlington Marshes on |Nov 17

Fleabane: Both Common and Blue Fleabane were flowering with Black Knapweed by the A27 at Broadmarsh on Nov 17

Winter Heliotrope: This is now in full flower with more than 100 spikes beside the main road through Emsworth on Nov 18

Lesser Burdock: This and Pineappleweed were unexpected finds flowering by Warblington Church on Nov 18

OTHER WILDLIFE

Harvest Mouse: Not a creature that you expect to feature in the news in November but on Nov 19 the Slimbridge WWT website announced that some Harvest Mice in their current exhibition of 'Threatened Species' had produced a family of young within the past week. The breeding season for the species is said to be from May to October, with a peak in August and September, but I suppose bringing these animals indoors (plus the natural extension of our summers) makes it less surprising that they should give birth in November. In case this might seem an odd species to feature in a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre we should be aware that reedbeds are now one of the places where these animals can thrive - they occur naturally both at Slimbridge and at Titchfield Haven (which is where I first learnt that they will happily breed in the tops of reeds which grow in standing water, and the adults will happily swim between the reeds)

Fungi: On Nov 16 the annual display of Giant Polypore could be seen at the base of one of the old Horse Chestnut trees in Havant park and there was a surprising show of Honey Fungus growing alongside the Langbrook stream running along the south of the park. Also on Nov 16 Yellow Brain Fungus and Coral Spot were seen at Durlston. Several more species were found in the Warblington cemetery area on Nov 18 - the first was a large Agaricus in the meadow west of the cemetery (its size and pale pink gills suggested what Roger Phillips shows as Agaricus excellens but this species is not listed by the Hampshire Fungus recording group). In the old cemetery a magnificent show of Tawny Funnel Cap was seen no more than 50 metres west of the cemetery toilet block (under a small cedar type tree south of the path going west) and in the new extension there was another great display of Stubble Rosegill (Volvariella speciosa) with a single example of Bolbitius vitellinus (Yellow Fieldcap) and some other smaller, white gilled, toadstool that were probably one of the poisonous Clitocybe species. In Pook Lane the Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) which I had first seen as buds on Nov 15 were probably as large as they will get when I photographed them on Nov 18. On Nov 20 I found more Volvariella speciosa at North Common on Hayling where I also found Mycena pelianthina (a new species for me) together with the very poisonous Clitocybe rivulosa (a common grassland species) and some out of context Wood Blewitt. Last new species for the week was Orange Peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia) which was reported at Durlston on Nov 21


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 9 - 15 (Week 45 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: On Nov 12 six Red-throated were seen in Christchurch Harbour while just across the channel on Nov 11 there were 26 of them at one site on the Normandy coast. On Nov 9 two Black-throated were off Bexhill and on Nov 12 one was seen at Christchurch Harbour and on Nov 14 singles were seen at Dungeness and Sandwich Bay. Great Northern are becoming relatively numerous with 10 off the Devon coast on Nov 8 when 2 were in Weymouth Bay and 1 in Southampton Water. Nov 14 brought another single in Southampton Water, one near Hurst Castle off Lymington (though this one seems also to have been reported as a Black-throated), two in Christchurch Harbour, three in Studland Bay and four off Selsey Bill.

Grebes: At least 99 Great Crested were in Langstone Harbour on Nov 6 (and 45 were seen from the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 12) while a count of 376 was recorded at a Dutch site on Nov 14. One Red-necked was at Dungeness RSPB on Nov 11 and another wnet past the observatory on Nov 14. Three Slavonian were in the Lymington area on Nov 8 (with one in Langstone Harbour on Nov 12). There have been no reports of the Langstone Harbour Black-necks since six were seen on Nov 8

Petrels: One Storm Petrel and three Leach's were off Brittany on Nov 9 while the strong winds of Nov 14 brought five Leach's to the Portland area and three to Christchurch Harbour, even blowing one up the Severn estuary inland to Slimbridge

Bittern: In the three days from Nov 10 to 12 there were reports of singles at Dungeness, Rye Harbour, Poole Harbour and Radipole (Weymouth). One was in Cornwall on Nov 14

Cattle Egret: The Pennington/Lymington bird was seen again on Nov 8 and 9. One was in the Saltash area of Cornwall on Nov 11 and one was back at the Dungeness RSPB site on Nov 14

Great White Egret: One was still at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Nov 14 and another at the Dungeness RSPB reseve on Nov 11. Over on the continent a total of 43 were seen at half a dozen sites on Nov 9, and on Nov 10 one was in Devon

Glossy Ibis: Two are still based at the Dungeness RSPB reserve where they first appeared on Sep 22. Over in Holland two Sacred Ibis are still present

Spoonbill: No news of the Pagham Harbour bird since Nov 7 - maybe the bird seen at Hook/Warsash on Nov 11 had come from Pagham? Up to three have been seen at Lodmoor(Weymouth), on Nov 8 there were still 11 in Poole Harbour and on Nov 9 there were six in Devon and four in Cornwall

Bewick's Swan: When I started to take an interest in birds in Hampshire in the 1980s a regular large winter flock of Bewick's could be expected in the Avon Valley (I think the peak count was 275 birds on 11 Jan 1986) but we are lucky to have a count of 10 birds nowadays (in 2008 ten were present for one day only and in 2009 there were 10 there on three days between Feb 14 and Mar 4). The first report for the valley this winter is of 3 there on Nov 10. Elsewhere the first migrants were reported in Holland on Oct 9 (just 3 birds), the first 14 birds reached Slimbridge on Nov 1 and on Nov 2 there were at least 56 at three continental sites followed by two reaching Dungeness on Nov 4 (four there next day)

Brent Goose: I think a new wave of birds arrived in the English Channel on Nov 9 when 3748 were reported off Pointe du Hoc on the Normandy coast (on Nov 11 there were more birds than I expected on the Langstone South Moors shore - possibly new arrivals still moving west) but these have brought no indication of a good breeding season with them.

Pale-bellied Brent: One had been seen off Thorney Island on Oct 14 but not reported since - maybe it has moved to Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour where one was seen on Nov 10

Black Brant: Nov 5 brought the first report of one in the West Wittering area but I suspect this may have been a sighting of the bird which was first seen around Thorney Island on Oct 14 (but not mentioned again after Nov 17)

Shelduck: The first count to exceed 100 this winter was of 149 off Pointe du Hoc (Normandy) on Nov 9 and this may reflect the major arrival of birds in our area for this winter

Wigeon: On Nov 6 Jason Crook estimated that 250 were present around Farlington Marshes and on Nov 11 I had my highest count (76) on them in the mouth of the Langbrook Stream off the Langstone South Moors

Teal: Of local interest in Havant the recent rain has brought floodwater back to the pony field south of Wade Court at Langstone and on Nov 15 more than 75 Teal were there for the first time this winter. Nov 14 saw a good count of 124 on Alresford Pond upstream from Winchester

Pintail: Further evidence of a major wildfowl arrival on Nov 9 is in a count of 634 off Pointe du Hoc in Normandy. The count at Slimbridge was 60 on Nov 11 and up to 110 on Nov 14

Pochard: A count of 230 at Slimbridge on Nov 13 is another 'highest count so far this winter'

Scaup: Five were at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Nov 10 after three had been seen there on Nov 6 (both counts are the highest so far in southern England this winter)

Eider: Another 'highest so far' is a count of 27 in the Pegwell Bay area of east Kent on Nov 9

Long-tailed Duck: One passing Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Oct 16 was the first I know of for this winter and it was followed by one in Devon on Nov 1 and one in Cornwall on Nov 8. In this setting the appearance of two in Langstone Harbour on Nov 12 (seen from the Oyster Beds) is significant. Latest news is of a single male in Freshwater Bay (IoW) on Nov 14

Goldeneye: The first of the winter in the Channel area were seen on Oct 13 (Warsash) and Oct 14 (south Hayling) but so far the highest count has been of 7 (including 2 drakes) at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Nov 12. The first in Langstone Harbour was seen on Nov 6

Red-breasted Merganser: 56 in Portsmouth Harbour on Nov 4 seems to mark the first major arrival with Langstone Harbour having 68 on Nov 6 and 77 on Nov 12

Goosander: On Nov 14 the count at the Blashford Lakes went up from 16 to 20

Rough-legged Buzzard: There is a confident report of two flying in off the sea at Hastings on Nov 9 but these may, like the Woodpigeons, have been making a minor detour from a south westerly path across Europe to Iberia and probably did not remain in England (on that day 4 separate singles passed over continental sites)

Osprey: Also on Nov 9 a late Osprey was reported passing over Belgium (the first anywhere since Oct 28)

Water Rail: One was at Portland on Nov 12 and two were there on Nov 13 indicating that this species is now moving to winter quarters and this was backed up by the arrival of the first of the winter at the Eastleigh Lakeside country park, also on Nov 13.

Common Crane: It would appear that the major departure of these birds from north west Europe started on Nov 2 when Trektellen carried reports from five separate sites with counts of 82, 57, 21, 16 and 1 birds passing. By Nov 10 this had stepped up to counts of 164, 118, 54, 47 and 2 birds. No reports from southern England since one was on the Isle of Wight on Oct 26 and 27

Avocet: The number at Farlington Marshes was up to 11 on Nov 6 and 7, with 21 there on Nov 12 - whether all these will stay there through the winter is not certain but last winter there were 32 or 33 there on Jan 1 (2009) with 29 still around on Feb 11

Purple Sandpiper: The first report from Southsea Castle this winter was of 9 birds on Nov 9 with at least 6 there on Nov 10. A count of 37 at Pegwell Bay in Kent on Nov 8 seems to indicate an influx of which the Southsea birds were a part. On Nov 12 there was another count of around 34 in the Thanet area of Kent and on Nov 14 there were 25 in Cornwall

Dunlin: The Nov 9 entry in Brian Fellows' Emsworth Wildlife Diary ( http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm ) has an account (with photos) of a Dunlin recently seen at a Norfolk coastal site with a Cockle attached to its foot. It seems likely that the Dunlin had flown a good many miles carrying this unwanted weight and this story reminded me that quite a few shore birds are less lucky than this one, losing whole feet to shell fish (or frost). As shorebirds have to feed when the tide drops to expose the mud (and every other tide is during hours of darkness) they often have to search for food using their sensitive bill tips when it is too dark to see clearly where they are placing their feet - if they happen to 'tread on the exposed face' of a Clam- type shellfish the clam not unexpectedly closes its shell very rapidly and can cut of the bird's foot in the process. Feet can also be lost when the bird is sleeping - waders have a mechanism to cut off the flow of blood to their legs to maintain body temperature, and if the mud on which its numb foot is resting freezes during the night the bird may be unable to pull itself free when it wakes up and needs to take off - should it wake up and find a predator about to grab it the bird can only pull itself free at the expense of losing a foot.

Snipe: A count of 95 at Farlington Marshes on Nov 12 was unusual (counts there did not exceed 33 in the previous autumn and did not reach 100 until March in 2008)

Jack Snipe: On Nov 14 one landed close to birders at East Head in Chichester Harbour who were waiting to see the Snow Bunting

Black-tailed Godwit: The number at Farlington Marshes (which had peaked at 760 on Oct 4 this autumn) dropped back to 400 on Nov 6. By comparison on Oct 1 there were 1215 birds at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

Wilson's Phalarope: One was at Slimbridge from Nov 7 to 11 (at least)

Grey Phalarope: Eight reports of eleven birds between Nov 8 and 14 - the only Hampshire sighting was in the Lymington area on Nov 14

Little Gull: We have seen very few in southern England so far this autumn but plenty are now passing along the French coast with a peak count of 2144 off the Normandy coast on Nov 9 when other nearby sites recorded counts of 1499, 637 and 348. On Nov 14 high winds blew a few onto our shores but the peak counts were only 7 birds at each of Portland and Milford (west of Lymington)

Sabine's Gull: On Nov 14 high winds blew a young bird up the Severn estuary to be recorded at Slimbridge - two others were seen that day at Portland and in the Scillies

Common Gull: Although there have been counts of more than 200 on the continent since Oct 9 the first large numbers are only now being seen in southern England - on Nov 4 there were 126 at Badminston pits near Calshot, on Nov 5 Portland recorded 400 and on Nov 14 there were 220 inland in Hampshire are Alresford Pond north east of Winchester

Herring Gull: Hampshire saw more of these this week with a count of 504 passing south over the Test Valley north of Romsey on Nov 12

Auks: Two Razorbills were in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 1 but across the Channel there were 835 mixed Auks on Nov 2 and 959 on Nov 9. England has fared better with Little Auks of which a maximum of three have been reported from the continent this week while Cornwall had 12 on Nov 8, Spurn Point had 4 on Nov 9 and one was in Southampton Water on Nov 10 (Cornwall had another on Nov 14)

Wood Pigeon: Locally Jason Crook watched 2960 of them fly west over Broadmarsh at Havant on Nov 6 and similar numbers are still being reported along our south coast (e.g. 2840 over Poole on Nov 8) while big numbers are still moving on the continent (on Nov 9 five sites in Holland and Belgium had counts of 22434, 10046, 7526, 6302 and 5557)

Shorelark: Last week (Nov 5) one was seen briefly at Sandy Point in Hayling before it flew east but the only report since then is of one at Swalecliffe on the north Kent coast on Nov 8

Swallow: Seven reports between Nov 6 and 14 with two on the north Kent coast on Nov 14 when two more were seen in the Scillies

House Martin: Three new reports this week with the latest being of two at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Nov 14

Wren: These are normally seen singly by day though two are often seen confronting each other so the sight of a cluster of six perched on one bush in the company of a tit flock on Nov 11 was reported as unusual. I suspect that these may have grouped together (as most bird species do) for company on their travels (perhaps they had just come across the Channel with the Tits?) but even when settled for the winter we have all heard reports of numbers like 50 crammed together in one nest box for mutual warmth on a freezing night.

Common Redstart: One seen in east Hampshire on Oct 25 seemed to have been the last of the year until I saw a report of a late female still present in Devon on Nov 5

Whinchat: One seen at Folkestone on Nov 10 was the first to be reported since Oct 23 - it was probably a late migrant but Whinchat have been known to winter in England

Wheatear: One at Southsea on Nov 9 was the first anywhere since Nov 5

Ring Ousel: Two were still in Dorset on Nov 9 (at Lodmoor and Ballard Down) and one was in Holland on Nov 11

Blackbird: These are still arriving from the continent daily with a peak of 100 (plus 50 Song Thrushes) at Portland on Nov 9

Fieldfare: A total of 4531 were found in the New Forest (total from 32 sites) on the weekend of Nov 7/8 (2000 flew over Slimbridge on Nov 7)

Redwing: A total of 7224 at 32 sites in the New Forest on the weekend Nov 7/8

Dartford Warbler: 107 were found in the New Forest on Nov 7 during the first of this winter's surveys - last year there were 103 found by a similar survey on Nov 23 (shrinking to 84 in the next survey on Dec 21). Similar counts in 2007 were of 77 birds on Nov 18 and 59 on Dec 15.

Taiga Flycatcher (Ficedula albicilla): Photos of what might have been a bird of this species appeared on the Cornwall Birding website after it had been seen on Nov 6. If the id had been proved this would only be the third record for the UK after two individuals were seen in 2003 (one in Yorkshire and one in Shetland)

Brown Shrike: The long staying bird was still at the Staines Moor site near Heathrow on Nov 7

Great Grey Shrike: Just one was recorded during the New Forest wide search for them on Nov 7/8

Brambling: A flock of 100 was at Barrow Moor (just east of the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive in the New Forest) on Nov 11. This is the first large flock in Hampshire this winter but there were 125 passing over Durlston on Nov 2 and 562 passing Hamburg in Germany on Nov 7

Greenfinch: Maybe a few more have arrived from the continent to bolster our diminished stocks - back on Nov 5 around 150 were on Pagham spit, on Nov 6 Christchurch Harbour had 125 with 89 there on Nov 11 and there were 70 at Shoreham Harbour on Nov 13

Twite: A group of five have been on the east Kent coast since late October but maybe more are on their way as there was a count of 60 on the Dutch coast on Nov 14

Common (or Mealy) Redpoll: One had been caught and ringed at Sandwich Bay on Nov 4 and another was reported from Durlston on Nov 11 while four were seen in Holland on Nov 14

Parrot Crossbill: First report for this winter comes from Hamburg in Germany where 6 birds were seen on Nov 12

Bullfinch: Latest reports of migrants come from Farlington Marshes (two birds there on Nov 6), Hastings (six passing on Nov 9) while on Nov 11 six were seen together in Ashdown Forest and 7 in a copse on the eastern edge of the New Forest adjacent to Hythe.

Snow Bunting: After a report of 13 at Sandwich Bay on Nov 8 there were 16 there on Nov 10 followed by a flock of 31 in the Thanet area on Nov 11. Also on Nov 11 one was seen at East Head near West Wittering and that one was still there on Nov 14

Corn Bunting: 8 were found in the Longwood Warren area (below Cheesefoot Head to the east of Winchester) on Nov 8. As with the group of 5 seen at The Burgh on the Sussex Downs near Amberley on Nov 6 some of the males gave intermittent song

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Common Darters were still active in the Gosport area on Nov 9 when several were seen in the Thanet area of Kent.

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: At least one was flying at Gosport on Nov 5 and there have been further sightings at Selsey Bill and Folkestone on Nov 9. At least one was still flying at Gosport on Nov 12

Common Blue: One at Gosport on Nov 5

Holly Blue: Also one at Gosport on Nov 5

Red Admiral: Six new reports including a count of 20 at Gosport on Nov 9. Three other reports on Nov 9 from Havant, Hove (Brighton) and Thanet with one seen near Winchester on Nov 11 and sightings at Portland, Andover and Gosport on Nov 12

Painted Lady: Nine seen in Gosport on Nov 5 and one at Bartley Heath in north Hampshire on Nov 7. Singles were at Portland and Gosport on Nov 12

Small Tortoiseshell: One seen at Heathfield near Crowborough on Nov 8 and another at Folkestone on Nov 9

Peacock: One at Hilsea Lines in Portsmouth on Nov 7

Comma: One at Hilsea Lines in Portsmouth on Nov 7

Speckled Wood: One at Gosport on Nov 9

Moths

Grey Birch Button (1051 Acleris logiana): This is an established species in the Scottish Highlands which has only recently begun to appear in southern England (first Hampshire record in Jan 2003) but it is now becoming more frequent in the south. It normally emerges in September and continues to fly until April. The first report for this winter comes from West Wittering on Nov 10

Scarce Umber (1933 Agriopis aurantiaria): First report from Bartley Heath in north Hampshire on Nov 7. This is a fairly common species with nearly wingless females and males which fly in October and November.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

85 species found flowering in the first half of November, including Sweet and Early Dog Violets, Golden Samphire, Green Alkanet, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Common and Ramping Fumitory plus Weasel's Snout (or Lesser Snapdragon). Latest additions on Nov 15 were Cow Parsley and Shining Cranesbill in the Langstone/Warblington area

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fungi: A number of Field Blewits have appeared in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery (and at Durlston) this week along with the first Amethyst Deceivers of the autumn and a Tricholoma species that may be T. argyraceum (I have recorded it as T. atrosquamosum, Dark Scaled Knight, as T. argyraceum is not listed in the list of English names for Fungi though it is still listed by the Hampshire recording group with seven records in Hampshire!). On my lawn the Deceivers, Mycena flavo-alba, Snowy and Parrot Waxcaps have now been joined by a number of Orange Mosscaps (Rickenella/Mycena fibula). By far the most important fungal news this week relates to a couple of fungi found several weeks ago in Danbury Court (off Westbourne Avenue in Emsworth) - until this week their identity was disputed but we now have an expert opinion that they are Neolentinus lepideus, an uncommon fungus causing drastic rotting of coniferous wood which has not been sufficiently protected by creosote. It's official English name is Scaly sawgill but I prefer the unofficial name of 'Train Wrecker' which comes from its ability to turn railway sleepers to powder and thus derail trains. Three other fungi were found at Durlston on Nov 13 - Jew's Ear (now Jelly Ear), Candlesnuff and Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha).

After writing the above I made the cycle trip described in my diary for Nov 15, adding Rhodotus palmatus (Wrinkled Peach) to my finds for the week - that was in Pook Lane at Warblington and in the same lane there was the remains of a large show of Agrocybe cylindracea (Poplar Field Cap)


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 2 - 8 (Week 44 of 2009)

[(Skip to previous week)

This week I have changed my procedure for gaining information about continental bird movements. Previously I have gone to the Trektellen website and laboriously looked through the complete reports from all the sites in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain (and occasionally other countries such as Germany and Spain), selecting what I considered to be interesting items (not necessarily those highlighted as 'exceptional' by the reporter. This week I went to the Trektellen home page and just selected 'Remarkable' (leftmost entry on the second row of options at the head of the page). This takes you to a page showing all the entries for one day, selected at the head of this page, which have been highlighted as 'unusual' by the observers. These entries have been sorted by species so you see e.g. four reports of Great White Egret from different sites, followed by reports on the next species, on the selected day (each line gives the Site name, the country it is in, the species name, and the reported count). Using this list I get most of the information I want for my summary with minimal effort though I amy miss reports of species that I would think to be of interest but which are not exceptional at the reporting site. In the near future I hope to update my Links page to show all the sites from which I get news for my summaries.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Among other reports one Red-throated flew west off Worthing on Nov 1 and six were on the sea off Rye Harbour by Nov 5. One Great Northern was off Sandy Point (Hayling) on Nov 3, and a Black-throated was seen at Dungeness on Oct 31. Great Northern are becoming relatively common with thirteen reports this week including one in Southampton Water on Nov 8 and six in Weymouth Bay on Nov 6. buth there have only been two sightings of Black-throated - one west past Dungeness on Oct 31 and two off Jersey (Channel Isles) on Nov 4

Slavonian Grebe: There have been several reports of sinlge birds during October but early November has brought two to Wemouth Bay on Nov 4 and two to the Lymington shore on Nov 7

Bittern: More are now appearing on the south coast. The first site to have more than one was Dungeness RSPB with three on Nov 4 and on Nov 8 the Kent Stour Valley had its first winter arrival (one was booming there in June)

Cormorant: A new Dorset county record was set on Nov 2 when 687 Cormorant were counted in Poole Harbour (481 going to roost on Brownsea Island)

Bittern: Three were seen at the Dungeness RSPB site on Nov 4 (all other reports of Bittern so far this autumnhave been of single birds)

Little Egret: Our coastal birds will soon be heading inland for the winter and a report of one at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire at dusk on Nov 1 may be a first indication of this. Confusingly the report says .. "left N to roost; unusual at site." .. leaving me uncertain if the 'unusual at site' referred to the presence of the bird or the direction in which it left - I presume the former and that this was the first Egret seen there for some time (I have no reports of Egrets at this pond over the past three years).

Great White Egret: My impression that Great White Egrets are relatively common just across the English Channel is supported by Trektellen reports for Nov 1 when 12 Great White were at Hageven Lommel in Belgium with five other sites reporting counts on that day of 6, 3, 3, 1, 1 birds

Glossy Ibis: Two remained at the Dungeness RSPB site up to at least Nov 7 and two others were near the North Walls of Pagham Harbour on Oct 30 and 31. Maybe one of these was seen at Ferring Rife (behind Worthing) on Oct 31

Spoonbill: The young bird was still at Pagham Harbour on Nov 4 and 14 were based at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour from Oct 27 to Nov 2 at least while four were in the Scillies on Nov 1

Bewick's Swan: 14 (possibly 18) of these arrived at Slimbridge on Nov 1 when they had to struggle against a strong headwind to complete their 2,600 km journey from Siberia. They were a week later than expected. Just over 50 newcomers were seen on the near continent on Nov 2 and to have continued to arrive there (15 reported on Nov 7)

Whooper Swan: These have been arriving in small numbers since the beginning of October but current news is of one satellite tracked bird arriving at Caerlaverock in Scotland on Nov 5 (just in time for the morning feed!) after completing an 800 km non-stop flight from Iceland in 14 hours (record for this trip is 11 hours)

Whitefront Goose: On Nov 5 a skein of 9 (possibly a total of 24) flew east over Christchurch Harbour heading for Hampshire but so fa no further news of them/

Canada Goose: A very leucistic bird (seemingly pure white from a distance) was seen on Nov 4 flying east over the Warsash area with 80 other Canadas, probably heading for Titchfield Haven. This bird has been at the Haven over the last two winters and is now returning for at least its third year there. What I presume was a different white bird was seen in the 5ortsmouth area during several winters in the 1990s (?)

Shelduck: Winter numbers are now building up at south coast sites to judge by a count of 57 at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Nov 2 (highest previous count this autumn on the south coast was 38 off south east Hayling during the Oct 17 WeBS count

Pintail: Around 90 were at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 2 was also a highest count for this autumn following 53 in Langstone Harbour on Oct 4. Since then 76 dropped off at Hook/Warsash on Nov 7 but flew on west.

Scaup: Three newly arrived at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset on Nov 6 (up to four there last winter)

Red-breasted Merganser: 56 were in Portsmouth Harbour, seen from Gosport, on Nov 4 - this is another highest count with 26 in the south of Langstone Harbour on Oct 14 being the previous peak

Goosander: ... and another peak for this autumn was a count of 16 on the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood om Nov 1 (previous high of 12 at that site on Oct 20

Ruddy Duck: ... and another peak with 12 at the Blashford Lakes on Nov 1 (8 there on Oct 6 and 10 on Oct 31)

Honey Buzzard: The latest ever seen in Dorset was over Corfe Castle on Nov 7

Hobby: Another late bird was seen in Dorset on Nov 4

Common Crane: No more news of the young bird seen in the Isle of Wight on Oct 26 and 27 (presumably an off course migrant) but over on the continent the main autumn passage seems to have got underway on Nov 1 when 18 flew over a Belgian site, followed on Nov 2 by a count of 82 over one Dutch site and counts of 57, 21, 16 and 1 at other sites

Avocet: Three were at Farlington Marshes on Nov 2 and 4, and eleven were there on Nov 6

Lapwing: 2100 flew over one Dutch site on Nov 4 (a total of 1850 seen on Oct 28 was the previous peak movement)

Purple Sandpiper: a count of 37 in Thanet (Kent) on Nov 8 is the highest anywhere so far this winter (previous peak was 14 in Cornwall on Oct 12

Curlew Sandpiper: A late bird at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 4 was the first anywhere since Oct 26

Black-tailed Godwit: More than usual are feeding in the Emsworth area this autumn - 130 at Nore Barn on Nov 5

Green Sandpiper: The longest period when this species was not reported somewhere in the south this year was from May 6 to 27 and groups of up to 34 were seen on several dates in August so a report of two birds at Budds Farm in Havant on Nov 2 and one flying over the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park (Havant) on Nov 4 is of local interest only but probably marks the start of regular winter sightings in the Havant area (so far no news of wintering Common Sandpipers in the Havant area)

Little Gull: 413 were off the French Normandy coast on Nov 5 and on Nov 7 two sites there reported 813 and 1250 birds (with another 637 on Nov 8)

Great Blackback Gull: 96 were seen at Sandwich Bay on Oct 16 (presumably just pausing on passage) and 45 were similarly resting in a coastal field near Worthing on Oct 20 so a flock of 99 resting on the HMS Sultan playing fields at Gosport on Nov 1 may well have been a passage flock (last year there were 42 there on Nov 9). In 2007 Rye Harbour reported 700 on Oct 27 while Christchurch Harbour had 109 on Dec 18 seeming to indicate that some of these large 'one off' gatherings are of birds remaining in the south coast area through the winter and this is supported by two isolated counts in the early months of 2007 (100+ in the Sussex Cuckmere Valley on Jan 31 and 1200 there on Feb 10 with 343 at Rye Harbour on Feb 1). No similar counts in early 2008 but this year I saw a report of 300+ in the Cuckmere Valley on Jan 25

Sandwich Tern: Five were in the Langstone Harbour entrance area on Nov 3 - wintering birds

Common Tern: One in the Hook/Warsash area on Nov 3 was presumably a late passage bird

Auk species: A mixed bag of 835 Guillemots and Razorbills was off the Brittany coast on Nov 2

Razorbill: 504 reported off Cabo Ajo (between Bibao and Santander in north Spain) on Nov 3

Stock Dove: More now being seen in southern England. 79 over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 2, 60 over Durlston on Nov 4 when 160 (presumably new in from the continent) were seen from Hastings country park. On Nov 5 Christchurch Harbour had 146 over

Wood Pigeon: 14,990 flew west over Constitution Hill in Poole on Nov 2 when Christchurch Harbour had 7300 and Portland reported 4000 (though probably many more passed over as on Nov 3 Portland did not give a count but reported many flying over at the limit of naked eye vision (around 8,000 feet or 1.5 miles up). Highest of six counts on Nov 4 was 8,000 over Portland (and 7879 over Blairgowrie in Scotland). On Nov 5 Lee Evans saw 2,500 passing over his home in Buckinghamshore and summed up our knowledge of these autumn movements, saying that the birds we see each autumn come from Fenno-Scandinavia (few if any British birds are involved) and head for Iberia and Italy. For some unknown reason they return in spring by a different route which does not take them over Britain. Since theses mid-week reports passage has increased and the highest counts have been 27300 over Christchurch on Nov 5, 29600 over Dorset on Nov 6, 26800 over the mouth of Poole Harbour on Nov 6, 22800 over Christchurch on Nov 6 and 20,000 + over Hastings on Nov 6. Here in Hampshire 10380 went over Southampton on Nov 6 and there have been other large counts across Britain including Scotland.

Swift: Two were seen over Belgium on Nov 1 when another was near Calais

Little Swift: One was calimed in Cornwall on Oct 31

Hoopoe: The bird seen near Brighstone on the Isle of Wight on Oct 15 and 16 was reported to be still there on Nov 2

Shorelark: One was on the Hayling Beach at Sandy Point on Nov 5 but soon flew east into Sussex (the only other reports from England this autumn have been one on the Isle of Wight from Aug 29 to Sep 5 and one on the Lymington Marshes on Oct 13)

Skylark: Continental birds still arriving in moderate numbers - at Sandwich Bay 120 were seen on Nov 2 and 28 were seen to fly in off the sea on Nov 3

Swallow: 12 Novermber reports this year including 7 over Portland (and 2 at Dungeness) on Nov 2, then one over Hook/Warsash on Nov 3 (another report of one there on Nov 4 - maybe someone has the wrong date?). Nov 4 saw six over Christchurch Harbour and 27 at Sandwich Bay. On Nov 5 one went west at Pagham Harbour, one was seen at Portland and three at Rye Harbour. Latest so far are two at Sandwich Bay on Nov 6 and two at the South Foreland on Nov 7

House Martin: One at Dungeness on Nov 2 and one at Cap Gris-Nez on Nov 4

Richard's Pipit: One at Langston Herring in Dorset on Nov 4

Olive Backed Pipit: One in the Scillies on Nov 1

Red-throated Pipit: One in Cornwall on Oct 28 (when another was seen in Holland) and a 'possible' at Durlston on Nov 2

Water Pipit: There have been many reports of ones and twos since the first autumn reoport on Sep 26 but a count of 24 at a Dutch site on Nov 6 seems to mark the arrival of a new wave of birds/

Yellow Wagtail: A late female at Weir Wood Reservoir near Crowborough on Nov 3 (previous latest on Oct 28 at Portland)

Bluethroat: One in the Scillies on Nov 1 (one previously this year in Dorset on Aug 15)

Black Redstart: 14 reports between Nov 1 and 4 including one back on houses at the east end of the Hayling Eastoke Promenade (a regular site close to Sandy Point) on Nov 4 and 5

Wheatear: One in the Black/Sandy Point area of Hayling on Hayling on Nov 2 with later birds at Sandwich Bay on Nov 3 and Portland on Nov 4. Current latest was at Rye Harbour on Nov 5

Ring Ouzel: The only November reports have been of three in Belgium on No 6 and one at Hope Gap (Beachy Head) onNov 1

Black-throated Thrush (Turdus atrogularis): One in Dorset on Oct 27 and 28. This was the 23rd report for Britain but there is uncertainty about the status of the species. Taxonomists nowadays treat Black-throated Thrush as a subspeices of Dark-throated Thrush (classifying it as Turdus ruficollis astrogularis).

Fieldfare: 1704 in Yorkshire on Nov 4 with 1305 Redwing at the same Yorkshire site on Nov 4. By Nov 7 there were 2000 over Slimbridge and 1193 still on their way (over the Hamburg Yacht Basin in Germany with 1000 Redwing). 26 flying south over Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on Nov 5 may indicate some settling on the south coast (previous reports here were probably of birds heading north from the continent

Blackcap: One feeding on fat and apples in a garden at Locksheath (just west of Fareham) on Nov 5 is claimed as the first wintering garden bird on the south coast

Greenish Warbler: One was in Cornwall from Oct 28 to Nov 1

Firecrest: Fourteen November reports indicat a good wintering population in southen England (maybe more of them than Goldcrest). On Nov 2 two were seen in Yews close to Stansted House and on Nov 5 (when there were 13 at Studland in Dorset) there were two at Sandy Point on Hayling and another three near the entrance sto Sinah Warren

Red-breasted Flycatcher: What may have been the bird that was at Selsey Bill on Oct 29 was seen for three hours at Seaford on Nov 7

Bearded Tit: A dozen were giving close views at Thorney Little Deeps on Nov 5 and half a dozen were seen at the Falrington Marshes Lake on Nov 6

Tree Sparrow: One seen at Ella Nore (near West Wittering on the shore of Chichester Harbour) on Nov 2

Brambling: The first three figure count in southern England for this winter was of 125 at Durlston on Nov 2 (passage birds, not yet settled as feeding flocks). On No7 another 562 were heading west through Germany (seen at Hamburg)

Greenfinch: Up to 150 were feeding on single vegetation seeds at Pagham Harbour spit on Nov 5 - almost like the recent years when such flocks of Greenfinch were commonplace along out shorelines in autumn.

Bullfinch: Reports from the Luton area of Bedfordshire are of 50 Bullfinch passing over on Nov 2 and 12 on Nov 3 - I have no idea where these came from or where they were going but it was certainly an unexpected observation. It could be that there are a large number of Bullfinch based in that area as 8 had been seen there on Oct 17 and 23 on Oct 28 but other reports (10 in the Test Valley near Romsey on Oct 13 and 6 over Hastings on Oct 28) indicate some autumn movment with birds probably arriving from the continent. Since writing that there has been a count of 59 in the Luton area and reports of small numbers from Hastings (almost certainly arriving), the Stour valley in Kent and Christchurch Harbour

Lapland Bunting: One was in the Pagham Harbour North Walls area from Oct 31 to Nov 4 at least. There were also sightings of singles at Christchurch Harbour and Durlston on Nov 2

Yellowhammer: As with Bullfinch there is encouraging news of these being seen in slightly larger numbers including a flock of around 30 at Upper Beeding in the Sussex Adur valley on Nov 7

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: At least one seen in the Beckly Woods area north of Hastings on Nov 2

Common Darter: On Nov 31 three were seen in the Gosport area and another two at Brook Meadow in Emsworth. Some were also seen in the Beckly Woods on Nov 2

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Eight reports in the latest news - one was egglaying in the Newhaven area on Oct 30 and four were seen in Gosport on Oct 31. On Nov 2 they were seen at Dungeness (1), Rye Harbour (1), Froyle near Alton (1), Shoreham (2) and around 20 were still active at Beachy Head. Latest was at Brnady Hole Copse near Chichesters on Nov 7

Brimstone: One at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton on Nov 2

Large White: One at Shoreham on Nov 2 and 60+ active caterpillars found on cabbages near Shoreham on Nov 5

Small White: One male at Newhaven on Oct 30

Small Copper: One at Gosport on Oct 31

Common Blue: One at Gosport on Oct 31 and four at Shoreham on Nov 2

Holly Blue: Singles at Hook in north Hampshire and Gosport on Oct 31 with another at Gosport on Nov 2

Red Admiral: Four sightings on Nov 2 (including 12 in the Gosport area), several at Durlston on Nov 5. Five reports for Nov 7 includ 10 flying at Brandy Hole Copse (Chichester, one in Havant and others at Worthing, Crawley and Christchurch

Painted Lady: Ten November reports including more than 14 at the Testwood Lakes (Southampton) on Nov 2 with sightings eslsewhere in Nov 3 and 4 plus several at Durlston on Nov 5. These waere also seen at three sites on Nov 7

Small Tortoiseshell: One at Newhaven on Oct 30 and one at Fort Victoria (IoW) on Nov 5

Peacock: Two singles on Nov 2 at Testwood Lakes and Shoreham

Comma: Still singles on Nov 2 at Gosport and Testwood Lake

Speckled Wood: Six at Gosport and others at Testwood Lakes on Nov 2

Moths

Single-dotted Wave (1708 Idaea dimidiata): First I have heard of this year at Portland on Oct 31. A fairly common species in damp places throughout England which normally flies from June to August but has been seen in Hampshire in October

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): Still flying near Eastbourne on Nov 2 and at Dungeness on Nov 3

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

74 species seen flowering in November so far

Ranunculus trichophyllus (Thread Leaved Water Crowfoot): This was still flowering in the Walland Marshes east of Rye on Nov 1. I see the plant was recorded in Sinah Lake on Hayling in 1976 but it is unlikely to be seen there now and is rare in Hampshire

Ranunculus penicillatus (Stream Water-crowfoot): Just managing to flower in the overflow sluice from the Bedhampton Water Works at Havant on Nov 4 despite the lack of any water flow (just puddles of rain water)

Early Dog Violet (Viola reichenbachiana): Four flowers seen in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Nov 4 (and one in my Havant garden on Nov 7)

St John's Wort: A couple of small plants with flowers in the Havant rail station carpark on Nov 7 (probably Perforate)

Sweet Violet: 50 flowers out in St Faith's churchyard in Havant on Nov 5

Meadow Sweet: I have already reported an isolated plant by the Lavant stream in Havant on Oct 26 and on Oct 31 Brian Fellows found one flowering in Brook Meadow at Emsworth

Holly: The most unexpected find this week was of flowers on a Holly tree in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Nov 2 (photo with my Diary entry for that day).

Thrift (Sea Pink): Durlston reported this in flower on Nov 1

Yellow Pimpernel: A few flowers on this were another unexpected find in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Nov 2

Apple of Peru: One plant flowering in a flowerbed outside the United Reformed Church in central Havant on Nov 7 - I doubt it was intentionally planted

Grey Field Speedwell: One flower seen in Havant St Faith's churchyard on Nov 5

Dwarf Thistle: Flowering at Durlston on Nov 5

Greater Knapweed: Flowering at Durlston on Nov 1

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: At 7pm on Nov 5 a Fox was seen running along the promenade past Brighton Palace Pier at a time when many people were also walking here and Fireworks had probably started. The Fox did not seem perturbed by the people watching it.

Red Squirrel: One still out and about at Fort Victoria in the Isle of Wight on Nov 5

Snails: Two species get a mention on the Durlston website when they were seen taking advantage of the wet ground on Nov 1 to make their way from A to B for unknown reasons. One was the Lapidary Snail (Helicigona lapicida) and the other the Pointed Snail (Cochlicella acuta) in which I have a personal interest having watched two colonies become seemingly extinct. The Pointed Snail is a small 'spire shaped' animal 15mm high by 6mm wide which is unusual in being an air breathing landsnail which likes to live by the sea (often in sand-dunes but also in coastal calcareous grassland). It is not a rarity but is only found in isolated colonies (apparently it has got to Australia and become a pest species in both arable and pasture fields there). I first came across it at the Portsmouth IBM HQ site which is on land only reclaimed from the sea around 1970 when the M27 was built across the reclaimed part of Portsmouth Harbour - the snails were presumably there before the reclaimation but instead of being destroyed by it they thrived on the mass of chalk brought to build the motorway foundations across the mud (chalk being essential to shell building). In the 1980s these snails could be found there in thousands but by the mid 1990s when I ceased to have daily contact with the site they seemed to have vanished. I then found another colony on the inside of the high seawall bank which holds back the hightide of Chichester Harbour from flooding the west end of the Great Deeps on Thorney Island but in the last few years I have been unable to find live specimens there.

Fungi: A visit to the 'Sling' area of Stansted Forest by the Havant Wildllife Group on Oct 31 listed 35 species and my own visit to the Hollybank Woods on Nov 1 found at least ten more species not on their list while my own garden lawn us given me another half dozen. These finds seem to show that the continuing relatively warm weather coupled with plenty of rain (at last) is giving us a good season for finding fungi. Pick of the bunch (my personal choice!) from the Stansted Forest list are the Porcelain Fungus and Oyster Mushrooms growing on trees, the decorative clusters of Shaggy Pholiota at the base of tree trunks, Magpie Fungus, Clouded Agaric, Wood Mushroom and Wood Blewit standing boldly on the ground, and the Hedgehog Puffball (Lycoperdon echinatum) - this is the only site I know of for this one - joining many smaller species including the colourful Mycena pura (lilac) and Mycena crocata (which at first glance seems to be another of those little brown jobs but which exudes a bright orange/red juice when its yellowish stem is broken), Ramaria stricta (yellow), Verdigris Agaric which has a slimy blue-green cap (and which looks a bit like the Aniseed Toadstool Clitocybe odora but which lacks the strong and distinctive scent of that species) Snowy Waxcap (pure white) and the black and white Stags Horn or Candlesnuff Fungus. The species found by myself can be found, with some photos, in my diary entries for Nov 2 and Oct 31. Also this week Brian Fellows has found the first examples this year of Agrocybe cylindracea on old willows at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and John Goodspeed has seen Bay Bolete (B. badius) on the Crookhorn Golf Course on Portsdown. On Nov 7 two scruffy specimens of Fly Agaric could be seen at a regular spot in a flowerbed at the Havant Rail Station forecourt (seen as you come up the steps from Market Parade). Also on Nov 7 I collected a single pure white specimen from roadside grass where an old oak used to stand beside Wade Court Road (at its junction with South Close). I had seen it there several days ago when it was fresh and lone so I did not collect it until now when it must have completed its sporulation - at first I was uncertain if it was Tricholoma Columbetta or T. album (the White Knight) but decided in favour of the latter as it is the commoner species in Hampshire and does not have any of the blue spots which normally develop on Columbetta


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 26 - Nov 1 (Week 43 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-necked Grebe: The Langstone Harbour winter flock had increased to 8 birds (seen from the Oysterbeds) on Oct 24 and on Oct 25 a new wave of arrivals brought one to Studland Bay in Dorset, one to Ivy Lake at Chichester and two to the north Kent coast at Reculver near the North Foreland. The Southampton Water bird was still there on Oct 31 (it arrived there on Sep 26)

Great White Egret: Three reports this week may indicate the arrival of some continental birds - singles were at the Testwood Lakes near Southampton and flying south over Pagham Harbour on Sep 26 with another seen at Dungeness on Oct 27 (this latter is probably the bird that has been there since Oct 15). Great Whites appear to be commoner than Little Egrets on the near Continent - this year the Strabrechtse Heide site in Holland reported successive counts of 11, 16, 19, 26, 29 and 29 between Feb 11 and Mar 9 with 25 there on Sep 17).

Glossy Ibis: At least one of the five which were at Dungeness from Sep 22 to Oct 4 (but subsequently dropped to two up to Oct 23) was still there on Oct 29. One in the Kent Stour valley on Oct 28 could have come from Dungeness (but may have been there unreported since one was seen there on Sep 6 and 15). Three birds which flew over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 27 were a surprise for that site as were two over Pagham Harbour on Oct 30 and one flying out of an Egret roost at Ferring Rife near Worthing on Oct 31

Spoonbill: The single juvenile that has been in Pagham Harbour (often by the North Walls) since Oct 11 was still there on Oct 30 (when 14 were counted at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour)

Bewick's Swan: So far this autumn there have been seven reports from Holland starting with 3 birds on Oct 9 and increasing to 23 on Oct 28 when another 6 were at a different site. Then, on Nov 1, the Slimbridge site reported .. "Almost a week late the Bewick’s Swans have finally arrived at Slimbridge this morning. This equals the latest arrival date ever that was recorded on the very same date last year. We were all very surprised to see the Bewick’s Swans arrive today considering the weather. The weather conditions could not have been worse with an almost gale force south westerly wind with heavy rain at times. Normally Bewick’s arrive here in a north or east wind with clear skies! We were also surprised to see so many, 14 Bewick’s Swans were present on the Rushy this morning. Many of the birds were sleeping no doubt very tiered after flying into such a strong wind overnight, and the 2600 mile flight from Russia. The first Bewick’s Swans normally arrive in ones or twos but to see 14 Bewick’s sat on the Rushy this morning in a sw gale really was a surprise. There were several familiar birds present this morning like Dario with mate Mevagissey, and Dylan two with mate Deena. We also received a report today from WWT Welney that they may have spotted our famous Bewick’s Swan 'Crinkly' among there many Whooper and Bewick’s Swans.

Cackling Canada Goose: One flew over the Hook area among 426 normal Canadas all heading towards Titchfield Haven on Oct 26

Brent Goose: Some 800 Brent were in the Thanet area of Kent back on Oct 12 but on Oct 30 the Seasalter (near Whitstable) website said .. "The brent flock seems to have had an influx with numbers approaching c.1250 and many of them young birds, the first big numbers which may have indicated a good breeding season." So far that hope of a better than usual breeding season has not been supported elsewhere but there is still time .....

Pale-bellied Brent: One seen at Warsash which then flew west across Southampton Water on Oct 26 was probably the bird that turned up at Titchfield Haven on Oct 7 and has been reported there on six dates but not on Oct 26. A newcomer at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Oct 30 could be one of the 6 that were in the Weymouth area on Oct 20 but which seem to have separated subsequently

Black Brant: One arrived back at Littlesea in Weymouth on Oct 13 and there were three more nearby in the Rodden Hive area on Oct 19. Another has been in the Thorney Island area since Oct 14 but the first back at Gosport was reported on Oct 25

Pintail: The first three were back on the Emsworth shore on Oct 26 and the first few that I know of in Nutbourne Bay were seen there on Oct 27. Six were at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Oct 29. seven at Hook (Warsash) on Oct 30 and on Oct 31 15 flew west along the north Kent coast and 28 went west over Chrstchurch Harbour.

Red Crested Pochard: The female which turned up on Ivy Lake at Chichester on Oct 24 was still there on Oct 29

Pochard: 15 were (I think) newcomers to Fleet Pond in north Hampshire on Oct 28 (there had been 34 at the nearby Yateley gravel pits on Oct 21)

Eider: Three in the Chichester Channel between West Wittering and Thorney Island on Oct 29 where the first I have heard of there this winter

Velevet Scoter: A party of 8 going west close in off Sandy Point on Hayling Island was a very good record for Hampshire but on Oct 16 as many as 12 went past Cap Gris-Nez across the English Channel

Red-breasted Merganser: The first major arrival in Langstone Harbour seems to have been on Oct 14 when 26 were seen in the south of the harbour from Milton Common. Ten were off Farlington Marshes on Oct 17 and now 15+ have been seen from the Oysterbeds on Oct 24

Goosander: One seen at Portland on Oct 23 and one at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 25 were almost certainly new arrivals from the north and not birds that have bred in the south. On Oct 31 one was off the north Kent coast, six were at the Blashford Lakes ner Ringwood and nine flew west past Christchurch Harbour.

Ruddy Duck: A count of 10 at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 31 was the highest there this autumn, beting the 8 reported on Oct 6

Honey Buzzard: A late bird seen at Durlston on Oct 29 was the first reorted anywhere since Oct 23

Rough-legged Buzzard: There is often scepticism about reports of this species in our central southern area (Common Buzzards can hover and often show unusual colour patterns) but a report of one in the North Mundham area just south of Chichester on Oct 30 has the ring of authenticity - the report from Chris Newton reads .. "First heard calling (at 15.05) with the distinct single syllable call, notably higher pitched than common buzzard and 'flat' without the typical 'begging' call. Then located some 50 - 75 feet above the fields, dipping lower to avoid the attention of a couple of rooks. First distinct indication was the clear sight of the white inner tail. Single black bar at tip of upper tail. Possibly juvenile/female. Short wing beats and glide. Not too bothered by corvids. Watched over fields between Woldhurst and North Mundham before it headed off to the west"

Osprey: A late bird was over the Seven Sisters Country Park between Seaford and Beachy Head on Oct 23 almost ten days after passage apparently ceased on Oct 14 and another was seen near the Powdermill Reservoir north of Hastings on Oct 28

Hobby: There have been daily reports of late birds up to Oct 28

Peregrine: Two visitors to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth this week were surprised (when looking at the view through the glass windows high above the ground) to see a juvenile Peregrine come within a few feet of them twice as if it had selected them as prey but could not reach them. On Oct 31 one was seen on a more regular winter perch in Portsmouth Harbour (on the mast of HMS Southampton viewed from Priddy's Hard at Gosport)

Coot: The WeBS count on Oct 25 recorded 423 in Christchurch Harbour

Crane: A single juvenile was seen on the Isle of Wight near the head waters of the eastern Yar (near Hale Common between Shanklin and Newport) on Oct 26 and 27

Avocet: The presence of one in Nutbourne Bay (east of Emsworth) on Oct 26 with two there on Oct 27 and five on Oct 29 may mark the start of a small winter flock in the water east of Thorney Island (there were 11 there in Jan 2008 and 17 in Dec 2008 with the first seen there last autumn on Nov 14)

Golden Plover: 700 seen on Thorney Island on Oct 29

Black-tailed Godwit: Numbers in Chichester Harbour seem to have increased this week with a peak count of 330 in the Bosham area on Oct 27 (previous peaks were 212 on Sep 19 and 300 on Oct 10) while the number in Emsworth Harbour (where there had been no more than 25 on Aug 12 this autumn) increased to 63 on Oct 20, 92 on Oct 26 and 112 on Oct 29

Spotted Redshank: The Emsworth Nore Barn bird was seen again on Oct 30 after another had been found in Nutbourne Bay on Oct 29. In Dorset six were at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Oct 30

Med Gull: An estimated count of 230 at Littlesea in Weymouth on Oct 27 was the highest of the autumn so far (There had been 212 in the Selsey west fields area on Aug 13 and 150 at Brownwich near Titchfield Haven on Sep 5 but not other counts of more than 80 anywhere so far this autumn). Last year there was a count of 270+ at Pegwell Bay in the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 17 but I have not noticed any reports of large flocks there so far this autumn.

Little Gull: Still no large numbers in southern England this autumn but there was an unusual report of one seen flying by the windows of a high rise building in Portsmouth this week

Terns: Two Sandwich and one Common Tern were at Dungeness on Oct 27 and an Arctic Tern was at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 26. Other reports of probable wintering Sandwich Terns this week have come from Southsea Castle, Christchurch Harbour and the Pegwell Bay area in Kent (on Oct 31). The Common Tern at Dungeness was still there on Oct 29 but there have been no more Arctic Tern sightings

Stock Dove: Autumn movement of these started to be noticed in southern England this week with reports of Oct 26 of 7 over the Fleet/Aldershot area, 48 over Dungeness and 49 (same flock?) over Hastings. On Oct 28 Christchurch Harbour reported 47 over with another 20 on Oct 30

Woodpigeon: These too started moving in southern England on Oct 26 when seven sites reported passage birds moving west - biggest count was 2810 over Southampton Water, then 1600 over Christchurch Harbour closely followed by 1566 over Fleet/Aldershot. On Oct 27 Thanet in Kent reported 800 and on Oct 28 Christchurch Harbour had 370 and another 230 went over Fleet (while seven sites in the low countries reported counts up to 13533). On Oct 30 Southampton had 1690 over while Christchurch Harbour had 280+ with another 150 on Oct 31

Collared Dove: A count of 10 at Dungeness on Oct 26 suggests that a few of these are moving with the Woodpigeons

Turtle Dove: One still at Portland on Oct 26 - will it stay through the winter?

Short-eared Owl: One hunting at Amberley Wild Brooks (Pulborough) on Oct 26 and one over Pagham Harbour on Oct 27, then one over the Selsey West Fields on Oct 29

Skylark: Reports from Holland on Oct 19 included four 1000+ counts with a max of 5648 with up to 50 seen in Kent that day, when 173 came in over the Norfolk coast. Oct 20 brought 14 continental reports of 1000+ with peak counts of 7325 and 8165 but by Oct 28 numbers seen moving on the continent did not exceed 1494 and counts in southern England remained fairly low (peaks of 100+ in Kent on Oct 28 and 116 over Christhchurch Harbour on Oct 29)

Woodlark: Three more reports of song, all on Oct 29, at Calshot, Ashdown Forest and Lavington Common near Pulborough

Swallow: Still 10 over Portland on Oct 28 with two other Dorset reports of 8 and 2 that day. Latest reports are of 8 at Portland on Oct 31 with 1 at Christchurch Harbour that day

Red-rumped Swallow: One at Durlston on Oct 29 was the first since one in the Scillies on Sep 13

House Martin: 13 over Eastbourne on Oct 27 and 4 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 28, then 2 at Beachy Head on Oct 29 and 4 again at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 30

Meadow Pipit: Latest reports from Christchurch Harbour are of 420 over on Oct 29, 290 on Oct 30 and 180 on Oct 31

Water Pipit: On Oct 30 one was at Sandwich Bay and a possible was reported at Newtwon Harbour on the IoW.

Yellow Wagtail: A straggler at Portland on Oct 28 was the first there since Oct 18 but another 'probable' was at the Brown Shrike site in Surrey on Oct 28

Black Redstart: A female was at Southsea Castle on Oct 28 when 7 were present at Portland (and many others can be assumed present along the south coast). On Oct 29 Portland had a peak count of 33 with at least six others in Dorset and on Oct 31 birds seem to have returned to local sites - one at the Explosion Museum in Gosport and one along the seafront near Sandy Point on Hayling

Common Redstart: A straggler seen at Longmoor in east Hampshire on Oct 25

Wheatear: No reports since Oct 27 when one was at Portland, one at Dungeness and two in north Kent, other than one at Portland on Oct 29 and 31

Ring Ouzel: Still being seen daily with a peak count of 8 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 28 (with 6 at a Dutch site that day). Latest were 2 at Beachy Head on Oct 29

Blackbird: Christchurch Harbour had 65 on Oct 26, 20 on Oct 27, 65 again in Oct 28 and 5 on Oct 30, presumablty reflecting waves of arrivals from the south

Fieldfare: More than 3000 over Kent on Oct 27 and 3470 coming south over Yorkshire on Oct 28 when another 1457 went over the Luton area of Bedfordshire and 150 were seen at Portland (presumably coming north). In Hampshire 481 flew southwest over the Fleet area that day.

Song Thrush: Plenty of these still arriving to winter in southern England - 65 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 26 and 50 at Portland on Oct 28 (when 192 went north over the Channel Isles)

Redwing: One report on Oct 27 estimated that 17,850 flew west over Kent and on Oct 28 586 passed over the Fleet area of north Hampshire while 1950 came north over the Channel Isles (100 seen to arrive at Portland). Also on Oct 28 Yorkshire reported 2756 coming south and 703 went over the Luton area. Oct 31 saw another 1470 come in over Kent'

Zitting Cisticola (aka Fan-tailed Warbler): The bird which was first seen at Sandwich Bay on Sep 6 is still being seen in the Pegwell Bay area on Oct 31

Lesser Whitethroat: An 'eastern form' bird was trapped at Portland on Oct 28 (see photo at http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/bp_lesser_whitethroat_9_281009_500v.jpg ) and was still there on Oct 29

Common Whitethroat: Late singles at Beachy Head on Oct 25 and at Climping (Worthing area) on Oct 26

Pallas's Warbler: Ian Barnard's 'Birds of Sussex' website reported one in Highdown Gardens at Worthing on Oct 27 but I have seen no other mention of this bird. Another is rumoured to have been in the Thanet area of Kent

Radde's Warbler: One was trapped and ringed at Abbotsbury on Oct 31 (photo on the Dorset Bird Club website)

Dusky Warbler: The bird at Dungeness on Oct 23 was seen there again on Oct 25

Willow Warbler: A single late bird seen at Portland on Oct 28

Firecrest: A dozen reports this week include a count of 15 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 25 when four were seen near Lymington, 7 at Beachy Head and 7+ at Portland. Locally four were seen around Sinah Lake on Hayling on Oct 30 and two were at Sandy Point on Oct 31

Spotted Flycatcher: A late bird at Portland on Oct 29

Red-breasted Flycatcher: Seawatchers at Selsey Bill on Oct 29 had close views of one several minutes as it perched on buildings adjacent to the shore

Brown Shrike: The bird which I first heard of at Staines Moor in Surrey (near Heathrow) on Oct 14 was still there on Oct 28

Great Grey Shrike: One arrived in Ashdown Forest on Oct 25 and was still being seen on Oct 27. No reports from the New Forest as yet but one has been in the Kent Stour Valley from Oct 18 to 24 (possibly the same bird was seen in the Thanet area as early as Sep 18/19) and there was a one off report of one in the Itchen Valley Country Park (Southampton) on Oct 18

Jackdaw: 266 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 26 when 45 went over Dungeness and at least 23 over Hastings. On Oct 28 a Dutch site reported 707

Rook: One Dutch site reported 111 moving over on Oct 28 and two Belgian sites reported 55 and 76

Starling: Among twelve reports from the Low Countries on Oct 28 one had a total of 109,945 birds, another had 45,000 and all had over 1000 birds moving

Chaffinch: Plenty on the move with a peak report of 1344 over the Luton area on Oct 28 when 19,970 went over a Belgian site

Brambling: Durlston had 74 on Oct 27 and 31 were seen in the Luton area on Oct 28 (with 259 at a Dutch site that day). On Oct 29 there were 71 at Christchurch Harbour and 88 at Durlston

Goldfinch: Numbers seemed to be dropping off with a peak of 670 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 26 and 500 at Portland on Oct 28 (there had been 2160 at Durlston on Oct 22 and 2360 at Climping near Worthing on Oct 14) but on Oct 29 there were 1700 at Christchurch Harbour and 630 at Climping near Worthing while Christchurch Harobur had close to 700 on both Oct 30 and 31. Siskin, Linnet and Lesser Redpoll are similarly still moving but in smaller numbers

Twite: The first report of the winter had been 7 in the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 12 and on Oct 30 there was a second report of 3 at Sandwich Bay

Lesser Redpoll: Prior to Oct 30 the peak count this winter had been of 170 arriving at Dungeness on Oct 22 but on Oct 30 a flock estimated to have 300 birds was feeding in woods at Beauport Park adjacent to Hastings

Crossbill: Thirteen reports this week include a peak of 83 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 26 and 50+ in the Acres Down area of the New Forest on Oct 29

Bullfinch: Maybe a slight increase in movement with 6 reported over Hastings on Oct 25 and 23 over the Luton area on Oct 28

Lapland Bunting: On Oct 30 there was one at the Pagham Harbour north walls and another going east at Christchurch Harbour

Snow Bunting: Singles were seen at Durlston on Oct 25 and at Seasalter (north Kent coast) on Oct 27. On Oct 28 a Belgian site had 18 birds

Reed Bunting: This week's peak count from southern England is 63 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 28 (when 143 were reported in Belgium)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: One still active near Lymington on Oct 24 and at Rye Harbour on Oct 29

Common Darter: One seen at the Lymington site on Oct 24 and one in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Oct 25, then in Gosport on Oct 26, 27 and 29

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Seven reports this week with more than 30 still active at Beachy Head on Oct 27. Singles seen since then at Magdalen Hill Down (Winchester) and Rye Harbour with sightings on Oct 30 at Gosport and Birling Gap on Beachy Head

Large White: Three reports including one flying over my garden on Oct 27

Small White: Six still flying at Beachy Head on Oct 27

Small Copper: One in Gosport on Oct 23 and two near Lymington on Oct 24. One at Gosport on Oct 26 is said to be from a fourth brood for the year and the latest so far is on Oct 27 near Lymington

Common Blue: Three reports with the latest at Mill Hill, Shoreham on Oct 26

Adonis Blue: Third generation? A fresh male at Mill Hill, Shoreham on Oct 26

Holly Blue: Also one seen in Shoreham on Oct 26, one at Gosport on Oct 27 and an even later one on Hayling Island on Oct 29 or 30

Red Admiral: 31 counted in Gosport on Oct 26 with counts on Oct 27 from Southampton (9), Hinton Ampner south of Alresford (8) and another 11 at Gosport where the latest is one on Oct 29

Painted Lady: Two at each of Magdalen Hill Down and Gosport on Oct 30 after several earlier reports including 15 at Hinton Ampner and 13 at Gosport (both Oct 27)

Small Tortoiseshell: Also flying at Durlston on Oct 26 and Ovington near Alresford on Oct 28

Peacock: Three seen at Longmoor in East Hampshire on Oct 25. Latest at High Cross on the Petersfield Hangers on Oct 28

Comma: One near Eastbourne on Oct 27

Speckled Wood: Ten seen in Gosport on Oct 25 and four in Southampton and one at Lymington on Oct 27

Wall Brown: One still active at Durlston on Oct 26

Moths

Eudonia lineola (1341): This rare coastal moth normally flies in mid-summer but the first I know of this year was at Portland on Oct 28

Palpita vitrealis (1408): First report of this less uncommon species from Portland on Oct 30

The Streak (1864 Chesias legatella): First for the year at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 26 (normal date)

Feathered Thorn (1923 Colotois pennaria): Another first at Pulborough on Oct 26 (most sightings are in November)

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): The 57th report that I know of for this year (and the fifth for October) was one in Emsworth on Oct 29

Red Sword-grass (2241 Xylena vetusta): Most frequently seen in April but several have arrived recently as migrants including one at Portland on Oct 27

Merveille du jour (2247 Dichonia aprilina): The first of these beauties was seen in Sussex on Oct 8 but another at Rye on Oct 25 is worth a mention

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): These have been seen since Mar 27 this year but migrants are still arriving - one at Longmoor in East Hampshire on Oct 25

Other Insects

Ladybirds: These have been a nuisance to people all along the south coast in the past week or so as they seek hibernation sites in house

Rosemary leaf beetle (Chrysolina americana): This species was new to Britain in 1994 and is currently spreading in Kent and Sussex. See entry for Oct 28 in http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/insects/

Speckled Bush Cricket: One in a moth trap at Rye on Oct 30

Dark Bush Cricket: Still active in the Rye area on Oct 27

Western Conifer Seed Bug: Four new reports of this new invader of the south coast - singles at Rye Town and Portland on Oct 27, two at Portland on Oct 28 and another there on Oct 30

Garden Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus): Follow the story of one which has spun its web inside Brian Fellows' house at Emsworth (close to a window), has eaten and re-spun its web on several occasions by night, and has remained motionless by day for all but a few seconds of the four weeks it has been there (the few seconds are those of rapid activity when Brian tosses a dead fly into the web) - see http://www.emsworthwildlife.com/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm and search (CTRL + F) for the word spider - you will not find the full story as the diary pages decribing its appearance on Oct 2 have now been archived but you can get at these days by going to his Homepage and using the link to Oct 1-15, 2009

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

193 species reported in flower this month

Sweet Violet: There was a fresh outburst of flowers in St Faith's churchyard here in Havant on Oct 29

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: The first fresh flowers since July seen in Havant on Oct 29

Meadow Sweet: A single plant by the Lavant stream by the Barton's Road playing fields in Havant on Oct 26 was the first to flower since the end of July

Winter Heliotrope: The first flowers of this plants season were out in central Havant on Oct 29 (see my diary entry)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Roe Deer: The continuing spread of these animals was illustrated this week when one was apparently unable to escape from a field close to the Hayling Oysterbeds on the west side of the main road through north Hayling. It was seen for about ten minutes running backwards and forwards along a wire fenceline and the County Council rangers were summoned but by the time the ranger arrived the animal had vanished. For several years Roe Deer have been increasing in numbers on the open fields between Northney village and the main road but only recently have they begun to cross the road. Also this week I saw two of the dozen or so that live in the Southleigh Farm fields north of the A27 as it passes Emsworth.

Fungi: Inevitably at this time of year the number of species reported is growing. This week I found the first Fly Agaric in the Hollybank Woods on Oct 26 along with Shaggy Parasol of which Brian Fellows had found many in the Ems Valley fields south of Westbourne on Oct 25 (and more in the Nutbourne area on Oct 27). Also found by Brian on Oct 25 were Brown Birch Boletes in roadside grass in Emsworth where, in a different street, Glistening Inkcaps had come up a few days earlier. Oct 26 also saw what I think were Yellow Stainers (looking like large Horse Mushrooms) in Havant but they had been seen at Durlston on Oct 22. Most recent find was a large troop of Deceivers on my lawn (along with three other unidentified small fungi species) following the find of Collybia dryophila near my compost heap earlier in the week. On Oct 31 two additional species suddenly appeared on my lawn (photos with Diary for that day) - one was almost certainly Blackening Waxcap and the other suggested Meadow Waxcap but almost certainly was not! Several reports from the internet include the first report of Horse Mushrooms at Durlston on Oct 31 and a couple of good ones (with photos on the Rye Bay website) from Beaureport Park on the northwest fringe of Hastings - one was the Trooping Funnel (Clitocybe gibba), the other Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida). Cliff Dean, who found these two, gives us a link to http://www.aie.org.uk/ (Arboricultural Information Exchange) which includes a reference section on tree fungi and the entry for Oudemansiella mucida includes the text of an email from John Clohesy of Brooksby Melton College saying ..

"I thought you might be interested in a fact about Oudemansiella mucida, the Porcelain fungus. About 20 years ago scientists discovered that this fungus ( along with many others as you know) produced a powerful anti-fungal agent which helps it to defend its timber from attack by rival species of fungus. This substance was later synthesised, and spawned (sorry, no pun intended) a multi-million pound branch of the agricultural fungicide business, the development of the strobilurin fungicides. These have been responsible for the most dramatic improvements in crop yields I have seen in my agricultural career ( an additional 1 tonne of wheat per hectare is common). Nearly every single wheat crop in the world is now treated with strobilurin fungicides, which are now already in their 4th or 5th generation. Not an arboricultural fact, I know, but it relates to the spalting we see in timber."

Finally Brian Fellows website diary entry for Oct 29 has a photo taken on Oct 17 in Danbury Court, off Westbourne Avenue in Emsworth, showing a couple of largish fungi in roadside grass which Brian thought might be a Russula species but the photo shows that they have decurrent gills (running down the stem) and I do not know any Russula species having this feature. I have referred this photo to the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group in the hope they will be able to name the species (not always easy from a photo where you cannot smell or taste the fungus and often cannot see that part which is signficant for separating it from others) but in the meantime my best guess is that it might be a rare species called Lentinus tigrinus (though that species grows on wood, not in soil, but the fungus could be attached to a buried tree stump). I suspect it will turn out to be 'something entirely different'.

At least two local Fungus Forays are taking place this week end but I have not heard any of their finds as I write this - the latest news I have is of the first appearance this year on Oct 31 of Agrocybe cylindracea on the old willlows at Brook Meadow in Emsworth


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 19 - 25 (Week 42 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-necked Grebe: One was reported (by unknown visiting birders) to have been in Sweare Deep of Chichester Harbour (between Northney on Hayling Island and Langstone/Warblington on the mainland) on Oct 22

Black-necked Grebe: The number in Langstone Harbour went up to four on Oct 21, seen from the Broadmarsh slipway area, and one was still in Southampton Water on Oct 21

Leach's Petrel: Three were seen from Thanet in Kent on Oct 16 (when six were reported from near Calais on the French coast)

Bittern: Poole Harbour had its first of the winter on Oct 18 and Rye Harbour had its first on Oct 19. Since then one has turned up at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Oct 23

Great White Egret: There have been at least nine reports of a Great White Egret at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) between July 21 and Oct 12 but none have been positively identified as the colour ringed regular which seems to spend half of each year at Blashford until Oct 20 when Bob Chapman (who has seen many of the birds reported earlier) confirmed that he had seen the regular bird and identified its colour ring). I have the impression that several birders reporting sightings there have assumed that they had seen the regular bird when they had no definite proof (and with many sites on the near continent having multiple Great Whites - but very few

- there is no reason why Blashford should not attract multiple birds). Strabrechtse Heide in Holland has reported the presence of 17 birds on Aug 18, 21 birds on Aug 27 and Sep 4, and 25 on Sep 17 then down to 18 on Oct 3. At least eight other sites in the Low Countries and northern France have reported counts of 1 to 8 birds this autumn

Grey Heron: These are regularly reported as coastal migrants in small numbers in the autumn but a report from the Scillies on Oct 18 records the presence of 41 recently arrived Herons

Sacred Ibis: I have got used to seeing reports of Glossy Ibis in southern England but I was surprised to see a report of a single Sacred Ibis in Holland on Oct 9. Now Oct 20 has brought news of two at a Belgian site.

Spoonbill: A single bird was seen again in the North Walls area of Pagham Harbour on Oct 18 (it seems to have been there since Oct 11) and on Oct 19 the number in Poole Harbour was up to 17

Whooper Swan: Fifteen have been present in the Scillies from Oct 12 to 16 with 10 there on Oct 17 and 6 on Oct 21

Black Brant: The Chichester Harbour bird was seen again around Thorney Island on Oct 17 (after arriving on Oct 14) and on Oct 19 there were four of them at Weymouth

Mallard: A female with four newly hatched ducklings was seen at Mill Rythe (east shore of Hayling) on Oct 18

Red-crested Pochard: A female was in Ivy Lake at Chichester on Oct 24, a couple of days after a male was seen at Paxton Pits in Bedfordshire

Pochard: On Oct 19 there were 185 newly arrived at a Dutch site with 5 at the Blashford Lakes that day increasing to 'ood numbers' there on Oct 21 when 34 were at the Yateley gravel pits in north Hampshire (four at Budds Farm pools in Havant that day)

Tufted Duck: The first two of the autumn were on the Emsworth Town Millpond on Oct 17 (up to three there on Oct 21). A count of all the Paxton pits in Bedfordhire on Oct 19 gave a massived total of 1614 and on Oct 21 there wree 228 at the Yateley pits in north Hampshire

Scaup: Two were on the Paxton pits on Oct 21 and a female arrived in Devon on that day

Goldeneye: These have been appearing in southern England since Oct 13 when one appeared at Hook/Warsash. On Oct 15 three were in Portsmouth Harbour with one at the Blashford Lakes and on Oct 16 one was in Thanet with two at both Dungeness and Blashford. Pagham Harbour had its first on Oct 18 when two flew by Portland and three were in Christchurch Harbour plus two on the Arlington reservoir in the Cuckmere Valley. On Oct 19 Paxton Pits had twelve with more next day and Blaskhford Lakes had four on Oct 20

Red-breasted Merganser: On Oct 17 ten were seen in Langstone Harbour and five were in the mouth of Chichester Harbour - three seen off Langstone village that day had probably been counted elsewhere in the harbours

Goosander: Two appeared in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 8 but were thought to be from the local River Avon breeding population. Three then flew in from the sea to Christchurch Harbour on Oct 16 and may have been arrivals from the north. A single bird in Belgium on Oct 19 is likely to have been a passage bird but the appearance of 12 redheads on the Blashford Lakes on Oct 20 could still be of local birds

Ruddy Duck: A count of five on the Blashford Lakes on Oct 23 was still under the count of 8 there on Oct 6

Honey Buzzard: Following the late bird seen near Portsdown on Oct 16 another was seen flying low over Hastings (chased by Crows) on Oct 23

Red Kite: These have been breeding in Hampshire since 1995 and in 2008 at least 10 juveniles were hatched from 5 nests. In Jan 2006 there was a winter night roost in the county having up to 60 birds and I guess this roost is again in use to judge by a report on Oct 19 of 33 birds heading towards a night roost somewhere near the A34 in the north of Hampshire. I believe one of the Sunday papers on Oct 25 had an article blaming the massive increase in Kites for a loss of Kestrel breeding sites and for killing Red Squirrels in Wales

Sparrowhawk: The number of passage birds going through Belgium and Holland at the moment is reflected in six counts from different sites on Oct 20 - the numbers were 57, 30, 14, 9, 7 and 6. In England at least 10 went over the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 15

Kestrel: One of these was heard shrieking when it came under attack from four Rooks in the Pevensey Levels area on Oct 18

Hobby: One was still in Dorset on Oct 23 and another was seen in Holland on Oct 24

Red-tailed Hawk: On Oct 19 the SOS website carried a reference to a story in the Daily Mail which (while is about birds in north America) may surprise some birders. If you visit http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1216709/Pictured-The-plucky-little-kingbird-took-piggyback-predatory-hawk-lived-tell-tale.html you can see pictures of a tiny Kingbird sitting on the back of a Red-tailed Hawk (50 times its size) and pecking violently at the top of the hawk's head as the hawk flies off screaming. It seems that harrying of the hawks by small birds is a regular occurrence in Denver, Colorado, where the pictures were taken, but this is the first observation of a smaller bird actually riding on the larger one. The article tells us that the scientific name for the Kingbird genus is Tyrannus!

Coot: These have not all left for the coast - on Oct 21 there were still 199 on the Yateley pits in north Hampshire

Common Crane: 36 flew over a Danish site on Oct 10, then 3 were seen over Dungeness on Oct 13. Oct 15 saw 12 over a Greman site and the latest migrant was one over Holland on Oct 24

Stone Curlew: A southward bound migrant stopped off at Dungeness on Oct 18 and was still there on Oct 21 reminding me that in Feb 2006 one was seen over a period of at least a week in the north Hayling fields where it was presumed to have spent the winter.

Golden Plover: Although there had been a flock of 160 in the West Wittering area of Chichester Harbour on Oct 1 the only report of them that I have seen from Pagham Harbour so far this autumn was just one there on Oct 4 so a count of 140 on Oct 22 probably means that the winter birds have arrived

Knot: A group of 5 were in Emsworth Harbour on Oct 20 after 3 had been seen further south don the Emsworth Channel on Oct 17

Little Stint: One has been in the Hook (Warsash) area from Oct 17 to 19 at least

Woodcock: There have now been eleven reports of Woodcock seen moving to winter quarters since Oct 14. These have all been at east coast sites other than one on the Glynde Levels (Sussex Ouse near Lewes) on Oct 17 and one at Bechy Head on Oct 18

Black-tailed Godwit: The greatly fuctuating numbers of these birds at any one site from day to day shows that they do not settle in one place for the whole winter after arriving here on the south coast from Iceland but recent correspondence between observers studying the many colour ringed birds now shows that birds seen feeding in the Solent Harbours on one day may be found in north Kent or northern France a few days later before (after an indeterminate time) returning to the Solent. How many of the birds make these relatively long trips (not very long in relation to the 600 mile flight from Iceland to the north of Scotland or a minimum of 300 miles non-stop from Iceland to the Faroes), and what triggers their moves, is not known but the evidence we have bears out a thought which I have often had - namely that if I had wings and no home ties I would be inclined to move around with distance being no great object if I had memories of good feeding at distant sites that I had visited before. While checking the Cornwall Birding website this week I came on a superb photo of one of these birds taken at the Hayle estuary in September this year by Mark Halliday - see it at http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3504/3902781209_0a5f3b8714_b.jpg

Spotted Redshank: There was a gap in reports of this species from May 6 to June 14 after which there have been daily reports of birds back in southern England, mostly as singles but as early as June 24 there were 5 at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. A bird which had been colour ringed at Thorney Island in 2008 was seen in Sweden this year shortly before it returned to Thorney Island on June 25, indicating that these summer birds had been away and returned by that early date. More recently one was seen to fly in off the sea at Sandwich Bay on Oct 15 and on Oct 21 the well known 'tame' bird arrived back in the outfall of the stream at Maisemore Gardens/Nore Barn.

When I read of its return my first thought was that it must have flown back to England some time ago and spent time elsewhere before coming to Emsworth but the arrival at Sandwich of one bird on Oct 15, and the 'site faithfulness' of this bird to the Emsworth area over the past four winters, would suggest that it probably only left its summer breeding area within the past few days and came straight here, and that tells us that this species act as individuals when it comes to deciding when to migrate - some choose to come in June, some in October (in fact the arrival dates of this Emsworth bird have been within a few days of Nov 8 for the past three years).

Since I wrote the above in mid-week Brian Fellows has reminded me that Spotted Redshanks have an unusual division of labour between the sexes which allows the females to fly back south from the breeding areas before the males and I assumed this meant the had adopted the strategy used by the Phalaropes whereby the females produce multiple families in each short arctic breeding season by mating with one male, laying eggs in his nest and then immediately leaving him to brood and raise the family while mating with one or more further males and leaving each of them with a potential family. The female Phalarope is thus free to fly back south a long time before the males which have to stay with the young.

I cannot find a definitive statement about the breeding habits of the Spotted Redshank but all sources agree that the females leave the breeding area before the males or young but clearly the females do not totally disregard breeding duties after egglaying - the best statement I have come across says .."Female Spotted Redshank form flocks and some leave breeding grounds up to a week before eggs hatch. Others desert partners with broods at an early stage". Another source says .. "Females begin moving south in early-June, the males following during July, and juveniles migrating from August to September" I guess the species may be still evolving its breeding strategy.

Common Sandpiper: Three birds in Poole Harbour on Oct 21 are probably going to be wintering here

Grey Phalarope: One was at Portland on Oct 22 and 23

Little Gull: Singles seen at Hook/Warsash on Oct 19 and on the north east coast of the IoW on Oct 21 indicate how little we sometimes see of large scale passage - just across the Channel 1687 birds went past the Calais area on Oct 16 with 220 seen there on Oct 17

Ring-billed Gull: For the seventh consecutive winter one of these has appeared back at the 'Cockle Pond' in Gosport where it was seen on Oct 20, 21 and 22

Lesser Blackback Gull: The peak of their autumn passage may now be over - at the start of October up to 3000 were roosting at the Eversley gravel pits in north Hampshire but only around 1000 were there on Oct 21

Great Blackback Gull: These seem to have started a major passage to winter quarters on Oct 16 when 96 were recorded at Sandwich Bay followed by the unexpected sight on Oct 20 of 45 birds roosting in a field at Climping on the coast between Bognor and Worthing

Sandwich Tern: A count of 391 off the Normandy coast on Oct 17 shows that passage was not yet over but it may well be that 11 birds seen in the south of Langstone Harbour on Oct 19 (and 3 seen in the north - off Broadmarsh - on Oct 21) are all intending to winter here

Auks: 1456 came south past Spurn Head on Oct 16 and on Oct 17 there were 26 Razorbill off the Normany coast and one at Hook/Warsash while by Oct 24 there were four in Christchurch Harbour

Little Auk: The first of the winter was off Cap Gris-Nez on Oct 17 when there was a possible sighting of two more in Pagham Harbour

Stock Dove: Oct 17 brought counts of 14 passing over Hasting and 15 at Cissbury Ring near Worthing to show that these are starting to move but eight recent counts from the near Continent have a peak count of only 119 so far

Woodpigeon: Late news from Denmark is of 33,000 moving over on Oct 10 and more recently the peak count from Holland is of 37,000 on Oct 20 (when two other sites reported over 10,000). Here in England passage seems to have started on Oct 23 with 70 over Hastings and 212 over Christchurch Harbour

Turtle Dove: One juvenile still in a Kent garden on Oct 17 with other singles at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 18 and Portland up to Oct 23

Little Owl: Reports of these at three coastal sites this week (including one at Puckpool Point on the Isle of Wight) show that dispersing birds are still puzzled as to what they shuld do when their movement brings them to the sea

Short-eared Owl: Recent reports are of one in Kent (Thanet) on Oct 17 when another was at Portland and one over a Brighton Golf Course on Oct 18. Latest report is of one at Dungeness on Oct 23

Swift: Oct 24 brought two reports of a single bird over sites in Holland

Wryneck: Two still in the Scillies on Oct 18 and one on Oct 20

Wood Lark: Three new reports from southern England including one singing at Abbotstone by the River Itchen north of Winchester on Oct 20 plus seventeen reports from continental sites with a peak count of 163 over a Belgian site on Oct 20

Skylark: Large numbers on the move on the continent with a peak count of 8165 over a Dutch site on Oct 20. On Oct 22 more than 110 were seen over the Test valley and there were reports of more than 50 over three south coast sites on Oct 23 (plus other smaller counts elsewhere)

Swallow: Still being seen daily along the south coast with the latest report being of 30 over Ryde (IoW) on Oct 21 and 68 over Dungeness on Oct 22

House Martin: Latest reports are of around 20 in the Kent Stour valley on Oct 21 and 5 on the north Kent coast on Oct 22 (when one was seen at Durlston)

Olive-backed Pipit: First report for the year was from the Scillies on Oct 23 followed by one at Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 24

Tree Pipit: A late report from Farlington Marshes on Oct 17 (last previous was of 2 at Portland on Oct 10)

Rock Pipit: Of local interest I saw my first two of the winter on the Langstone South Moors shore on Oct 22 and then saw three more at Nutbourne Bay on Oct 23 (two of these flew in from the east while I was there)

Water Pipit: Three were back at the Lower Test Marshes on Oct 17 and the Stour Valley in Kent had its first two of the autumn on Oct 20

Yellow Wagtail: Stragglers still being seen with one at Portland on Oct 18 (after singles at other sites on Oct 10, 11, 15 and 17)

Dunnock: On Oct 22 I heard two singing strongly against each other in the Langstone area at dusk (first song since July 26) - I guess they were newly arrived migrants establishing winter territories. Another 21 migrants passed over Hastings on Oct 23

Red-flanked Bluetail: An isolated report of one at Spurn Point in Yorkshire on Oct 19

Black Redstart: Reports of these from seven sites in southern England this week plus a count of more than 57 in the Scillies on Oct 20 (presumably marking a wave of arrivals all along the coast)

Common Redstart: The only new reports are from the Scillies (5 there on Oct 16, 4 on Oct 17 and 2 on Oct 18) followed by news of a single straggler at Portland on Oct 23

Whinchat: One at Farlington Marshes on Oct 17 and one at Portland on Oct 23

Stonechat: A male on bushes at the Langstone South Moors on Oct 22

Wheatear: Latest report was of one at Portland on Oct 23

Ring Ouzel: On Oct 23 singles were in the New Forest and on the Isle of Wight plus three at Portland. Latest was one at Folkestone on Oct 24

Blackbird: More still heading towards southern England - on Oct 19 the South Foreland in Kent reported 15, Sandwich Bay had 30 and Spurn Point had 120 heading south

Fieldfare: Now widespread in small numbers in southern England (Oct 18 saw 1 in Thanet, 1 at Portland, 1 in the Itchen Valley country park and 9 in Andover). On Oct 20 a flock of more than 40 was in the New Forest as 350 passed over a Dutch site

Redwing: Also widespread in southern England with a max of 152 over Andover on Oct 18 but 9 counts of over 1000 from continental sites this week (peak 3000 over a Dutch site on Oct 19)

Marsh Warbler: One in the Scillies on Oct 23

Melodious Warbler: One in the Scillies on Oct 21 and 22

Arctic Warbler: One at Folkestone on Oct 22

Yellow-browed Warbler: One was seen at Titchfield Haven on Oct 17 and one at Portland up to Oct 23 but all other reports this week come from Cornwall or the Scillies

Radde's Warbler: Two in the Scillies on Oct 16

Dusky Warbler: One at Dungeness on Oct 23

Chiffchaff: One still singing on Portsdown on Oct 18 (probably intending to winter here) Counts of migrants at the coast have dropped off - just 15 in the Worthing area and 25 at Beachy Head on Oct 19 (but over 100 in the Scillies on Oct 20)

Willow Warbler: One still in Germany on Oct 20 and one at Durlston on Oct 22

Firecrest: Reports from 15 sites in southern England are probably of birds coming here for the winter - locally Oct 20 brought 1 to Sandy Point and 2 to Gunner Point, both on south Hayling. Another 14 arrived at Dungeness on Oct 21, 8 at Portland on Oct 22 and 11 near the Needles on the IoW on Oct 23

Flycatchers: Three species in the Scillies this week - last Pied on Oct 16 but both Spotted and Red-breasted there on Oct 21. Elsewhere there was a late Spotted on the IoW on Oct 23

Long-tailed Tit: A count of 50 at the South Foreland in Kent on Oct 19 perhaps indicates the arrival of more continental birds?

Great Tit: A count of 150 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 17 shows that they two move around to find comfortable winter quarters

Great Grey Shrike: New arrivals on Oct 18 at Stodmarsh (east of Canterbury) and the Itchen Valley country park. The Stour valley bird was still present on Oct 24

Chough: A reminder that these can be seen in Cornwall come in reports of five birds there on Oct 19

Jackdaw: In southern England 105 went west over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 17 and 180 went the same way over Portsmouth on Oct 18. On Oct 19 a total of 119 came in to Norfolk from the North Sea and on Oct 20 we had this week's peak count of 942 over a Belgian site. Latest report is of 120 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 23

Rook: Reports of movement on the continent are increasing with seven counts on Oct 20 with a peak of 241 over a Belgian site

Carrion Crow: A count of 550 at Weston Shore on Southampton Water on Oct 24 was the highest of this year there and the highest count since 16 Sep 2007 when the flock was estimated to have 500 birds.

Hooded Crow: One reported in Holland on Oct 19

Starling: On Oct 19 Hunstanton in Norfolk saw 59,921 arriving and another 14,256 were seen there on Oct 20. On Oct 22 some 30,000 were roosting in the Kent Stour valley and large numbers are now in southern England

House Sparrow: Although we know that House Sparrows do move around I have never thought of them as moving long distances in the same way that Tree Sparrows do but this may be wrong. On Oct 10 a site in northern France had 130 passing over and on Oct 17 Christchurch Harbour logged 85 going east

Chaffinch: Late news from Denmark tells us that 52000 moved over that country on Oct 10. A more recent peak count was of 14,118 over a Dutch site on Oct 19

Brambling: No big counts in England so far (peak remains 27 over Bedfordshire on Oct 17) but the many continental counts of less than 100 at any one site suddenly shot up to 1185 over a Dutch site on Oct 19

Greenfinch: A few more seen recently with 95 coming in on the Norfolk coast on Oct 19 and 70 on the shore west of Selsey on Oct 22 when another 60 were on the beach at Church Norton (Pagham Harbour)

Goldfinch: Flocks of several hundred are still being recorded regularly at most south coast sites and peaks this week have been 2160 at Durlston on Oct 22 when there were 1440 at Dungeness and 1095 at Sandy Point on Hayling

Siskin: Peak count in England of 200 at Dungeness on Oct 21 after 800 over a Dutch site on Oct 19

Linnet: Plenty of these in southern England (665 at Durlston on Oct 19 after 1130 at Christchurch on Oct 14) but surprisingly few reported on the continent (at one Dutch site which reported 1169 on Oct 5 there were no other reports during the month of more than 25 birds and I can only find one other Dutch site which had a similar isolated count of over 1000 during the month)

Crossbill: These continue to be widely reported in England on a daily basis, mainly in flocks of 20 to 50 birds but 100 were in the Brede woods north of Hastings on Oct 20 and 215 over Durlston on Oct 21

Hawfinch: One went west over the Test valley on Oct 22 to show that these are now moving between their usual sites in southern England

Snow Bunting: There are probably a couple in Cornwall and two more in the Scillies but apart from these there are reports of one on the north Kent shore on Oct 17, another at Hastings that day, one at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 21 and one at Studland in Dorset on Oct 24

Yellowhammer: Still very few being reported in England but counts of 56 and 30 at two Dutch sites on Oct 19 may show others are on their way

Reed Bunting: On Oct 23 Dungeness had 106 and Christchurch Harbour had 146

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

One Migrant Hawker at Rye Harbour on Oct 18 and a dozen Common Darters still flying at Rye Harbour on Oct 22 are the only two reports other than one on Oct 21 from the Seaford area where a Common Darter was seen having great difficulty in getting airborne - the reason being that a Wasp had gripped its underside and was stinging it to death (this same behaviour was also seen in Sussex last year)

Butterflies

Twelve species reported during the week

Clouded Yellow: Small numbers at 9 sites this week plus a count of 30 at the Soutbourne Undercliff in Bournemoth where the species now has a well established year round presence. On Oct 22 there were estimated to be around 100 still at Beachy Head (some of them seemingly just emerged) - perhaps the Shooter's Bottom site (a scrubby valley just west of Beachy Head itself) has become a resident site like Southbourne?

Common Blue: Two were still active on the Downs behind Brighton on Oct 18 (with two more at the exceptional site on the Southbourne undercliff in Bournemouth that day)

Wall Brown: A fresh third generation male was seen at Cissbury Ring above Worthing on Oct 17 - interestingly this is a new site for the species

Moths

Spindle Smudge (0451 Ypsolopha mucronella): First report I have seen this year comes from Edburton (north of Brighton) on Oct 22

November Moth (1795 Epirrita dilutata): Also a first at Edburton on or just before Oct 22

Pale November Moth (1796 Epirrita christyi): First of this seasonal species seen at Ringmer near Lewes on Oct 16

Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1984 Macroglossum stellatarum): One newly in at Portland on Oct 18

Silver-striped Hawkmoth (1993 Hippotion celerio): Also in the Portland trap on Oct 18

Flame Brocade (2251 Trigonophora flammea): First I know of at Portland on Oct 18

Other Insects

Ladybird species: At least 75 seeking hibernation sites trying to enter my house in Havant at midday on Oct 23

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Widlife)

186 species reported in flower during October so far

Early dog violet (Viola reichenbachiana): A couple of out of season flowers on plants in my Havant garden on Oct 23

Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa): One red flower seen on the seawall of Nutbourne Bay on Oct 23

Wild Parsnip: Seen flowering at Durlston on Oct 19 - a new addition to the October flowering list

Deadly Nightshade: A bush found at Prinsted on Oct 23 with shrivelled flowers that must have been fresh in October

Cleavers (Goosegrass): One plant with tiny white flowers was a surprise on Oct 22

Narrow-leaved Ragwort (Senecio inaequidens): Flowering plants beside Farm Lane at Nutbourne on Oct 23 were identified as this species which I have never knowingly come across before (though I have unknowingly seen these plants at this site in recent past years so believe it to be established there). Beware that the illustration of the leaves of this plant in the Fitter, Fitter and Blamey book is wrong - my photos in my diary for Oct 23 agree with photos on the internet and with Stace's description

Yellow Iris: One plant with fresh flowers at the Langstone South Moors on Oct 22 was a surprise find

OTHER WILDLIFE

Newts: Seeing friends clearing weed from their garden pond here in Havant this week I asked if all the Newts had by now left the pond and I was told that they had, but most had only moved a short distance into a compost heap, making it difficult to take compost from the heap without disturbing (and almost certainly killing) them during the winter. Other dangers face the Newts during the journey from the pond to the hibernation site and this was brought out by Brian Banks in a contribution to the Rye Bay website describing his discovery of a young Palmate Newt (after leaving their birth pond for the first time a young Newt is nowadays called an 'Eft') in his garden at Northiam (north of Hastings). Brian discovered the Eft hiding under a stone quite close to where a Grass Snake was sunning itself, and if the Snake does not get the Eft it is still small enough to be taken by one of the Slow-Worms in the same garden. These dangers must be faced for several days as the young Eft needs to feed up before going into hibernation.

Fungi: John Goodspeed's Nature Notes for last week report a find of three good specimens of Wood Cauliflower (Sparassis crispa) at the Hookheath nature reserve (northern foot of Portsdown) on Oct 16 and an entry on the Rye Bay website dated 21 Oct contains a photo of a fungus which is thought to be Leccinum aurantiacum, found in Brede High Woods near the River Rother north of Hastings. On Oct 22 in the Langstone South Moors area I found Field Mushrooms, Shaggy Inkcaps and a troop of what I first knew as Lepiota leucothites but which is now called Leucoagaricus leucothites with the Eglish name of White Dapperling. Also on Oct 22 I found Fairy Ring Champignons in Langstone and the Durlston website reported sightings of the big Yellow Stainer toadstools (which are easily mistaken for Horse Mushrooms) and of Jews Ear fungi (now called Jelly Ear). My last find was on Oct 23 at Nutbourne (east of Emsworth) where I found a small cluster of Stropharia coronilla (Garland Roundhead) - not the rare Red-leg Roundhead as reported in my diary


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 12 - 18 (Week 41 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: No more than 2 Red-throated reported along our south coast (Portland) but there were 21 coming south past Spurn Point on Oct 16 with 14 at Cap Gris-nez that day. We had 2 Black-throated in Weymouth Bay on Oct 15 with 9 near Cap Gris-nez on Oct 16. The only Great Northern reports were from the West Country - singles in Cornwall, the Scillies and at Portland between Oct 12 and 14

Grebes: One Red-necked was in the Lymington area from Oct 13 to 16, maybe the same one which went east past Dungeness on Oct 10 (the first anywhere since Sep 20). One near Calais on Oct 13 was probably a different bird. Lymington has also had a single Slavonian from Oct 14 to 16 (the bird which summered in the Exe estuary in Devon was still there on Oct 11 and one went past Spurn Point on Oct 2). No reports of Black-necked from Sussex, Hants or Dorset this week but one was near Calais on Oct 16 and two were off the Devon coast on Oct 14

Leach's Petrel: One was off the north Kent coast on Oct 12 and 6 were near Calais on Oct 16

Gannet: A big westward movement peaked with 1432 passing Newhaven on Oct 11

Cattle Egret: Two were still in the Lymington area on Oct 16 with one at Dungeness up to Oct 15 at least

Little Egret: 152 entered the Little Deeps roost on Thorney Island on Oct 10 (174 there in Sep 29). At Rye Harbour, where there had been 85 in the roost on Sep 10, only 11 were seen to leave on the morning of Oct 16 - mayb a temporary disturbance there but maybe the birds are already dispersing inland as they do each winter to avoid cold conditions on the coast

Great White Egret: No reports from Bashford since Oct 12 but there have been one or two new ones in Cornwall this week and a new bird was at Dungeness on Oct 15. Other indications of movement are reports on Oct 14 of 8 birds over Jersey and another 8 over a Dutch site

Glossy Ibis: Two were still at Dungeness (where there had been 5 for some time) on Oct 12 and 13 but only one was there on Oct 14 and 15

Spoonbill: 14 were in Poole Harbour on Oct 13 and 15 and nine were still in Cornwall and the Scillies. The one which arrived in the north of Pagham Harbour on Oct 11 was still there on Oct 16

Bewick's Swan: The first three were reported in Holland on Oct 9 with fourteen there on Oct 14 and sixteen on Oct 15. None yet reported in England but there were 100 Whooper's at Caerlaverock in Scotland on Oct 15 when there were 15 birds in the Scillies (after arriving there on Oct 12). A single bird turned up at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Oct 8 an dtwo were there on Oct 13

Pinkfoot/Bean Geese: Half a dozen geese seen distantly at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 16 could have been either of these species

Whitefront Goose: None yet in England but there was a major arrival in Holland on Oct 14 when one site reported 1900 and another had 2852 (along with 2826 Greylag)

Brent Goose: The first count of more than 100 was of 222 in Langstone Harbour on Oct 3 with 400 in Chichester Harbour on Oct 4. France was the first to break through the thousand barrier with 3584 on the Normandy coast on Oct 8. An estimated 1000 were at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Oct 12 (with 1440 at Sandwich Bay). Oct 14 brought 2000 in Chichester Harbour off Thorney Island (with another 1350 going west past Dungeness) and Dorset had 1050 in The Fleet on Oct 15 when around 1500 were off the north Kent coast. The first families with young were seen on Oct 14 both at Lymington and off Thorney Island. I saw one family with 2 juvs with 400+ adults off Langstone South Moors on Oct 15 and on Oct 16 Kevin Crisp had three families (3, 2, and 1 juvs) off the Milton shore of Langstone Harbour but it will be some time before we can draw meaningful conclusion as to this year's breeding success.

Pale-bellied Brent: A single stray associating with the Dark-bellied birds has been in the Stocker's Lake area of Chichester Harbour from Oct 14 to 16, with one off Titchfeld Haven on Oct 15 and two in The Fleet near Weymouth that day.

Black Brant: The first was reported at Weymouth on Oct 13 and another has been in Chichester Harbour from Oct 14 to 16

Ruddy Shelduck: The group of three that arrived at Radipole (Weymouth) on Sep 26 were still there on Oct 13. Oct 11 brought a newcomer to Duncton Mill Pond near Pulborough on Oct 11

Shelduck: A few probably arrived locally in Chichester Harbour on Oct 14 and around 10 appeared on the South Moors shore on Oct 15 when there were reports of 90 at Oare (north Kent), 72 on the Norfolk coast, 31 at Newtown Harbour (IoW) and 10 on the Langstone South Moors shore. Oct 16 brough reports of 21 and 26 from two Kent coastal sites and on Oct 17 I saw a party of at least 12 on the Langstone to Emsworth shore joined by 15 which flew in high from the east in a V-formation

Wigeon: The first report of more than 1000 was of 1750 in The Fleet near Weymouth on Oct 15 which is when I saw the first substantial flock of around 6o off the Langstone South moors shore (and Jamie Marsh found 650 near Pewit Island in Portsmouth Harbour)

American Wigeon: A female was reported in Cornwall on Oct 14. The only other report I have for this year is of a drake at Pulborough Brooks on Jan 19.

Garganey: The bird on Sinah Lake (Hayling Island) from Sep 11 to Oct 10 has not been seen since then but on Oct 15 one appeared at the Balshford Lakes (Ringwood) and on Oct 16 one was on the Farlington Marshes lake

Pochard: No large arrival yet but on Oct 15 I was pleased to find three on the Budds Farm Pools at Havant

Scaup: On Oct 16 there were at least two on the north Kent shore (the first for southern England this autumn) and one across the Channel at Cap Girs-nez

Long-tailed Duck: One heading south past Spurn point in Yorkshire on Oct 16 was the first I know of this autumn

Goldeneye: Winter birds started to arrive this week with reports of one near Warsash and another near Calais on Oct 13, then one on Sinah Lake (south Hayling) and two in Holland on Oct 14, three in Portsmouth Harbour plus one at the Blashford Lakes and one in Holland on Oct 15, then one in Thanet (Kent) and two at Blashford Lakes on Oct 16.

Red-breasted Merganser: Oct 14 brought 12 into Chichester Harbour and 26 to Langstone Harbour with quite a few other local reports including the first three off Langstone pond shore on Oct 17

Goosander: Three flying into Christchurch Harbour 'from the east' on Oct 16 were probably birds that have been in the Avon valley during the summer but might be the first arrivals

Honey Buzzard: The main passage of these ended on Sep 26 after which there was one 'probable' over Weymouth so a report of one over the Hookheath nature reserve at the northern foot of Portsdown on Oct 16 was a surprise

Sparrowhawk: These are still moving with 15 over a Dutch site on Oct 14 and 10 over north Kent on Oct 15

Buzzard: Lots of these are also on the move - nine reports between Oct 13 and 15 include counts of 173 over one Dutch site on Oct 14 and 183 over another on Oct 15

White-tailed Sea Eagle: Four reports from the Low Countries on Oct 14 and 15 may well be all of one bird

Osprey: Still a few heading south - singles over Cornwall and Newhaven on Oct 13 and over Lymington and Belgium on Oct 15

Spotted Crake: Two at Lymington on Oct 14 and 15 are the only ones in the current news

Coot: Many are now heading for the coast - on Oct 11 there were 92 at Emsworth and on Oct 12 Bembridge Pond (IoW) had around 120. Interestingly there were none to be seen on Budds Farm Pools on Oct 15 so that it would appear that even here by the coast the birds feel the urge to move before the frost arrives.

Common Crane: It looks as if these are just starting to make their autumn journey south - three seen flying south over Dungeness on Oct 13 and 12 over north Germany on Oct 15

Purple Sandpiper: 14 at Sennen near Lands End in Cornwall on Oct 12 was the first double figure count of the autumn. Since then there have been 2 at Brighton Marina on Oct 13 and 1 at Portland on Oct 15

Woodcock: The first two reports of Woodcock on the move this autumn have come from Falmborough Head in Yorkshire on Oct 14 and Sandwich Bay in Kent on Oct 16 (both singles)

Grey Phalarope: One at Cap Gris-nez on Oct 16 was the first report since Sep 24

Little Gull: Major passage now under way with a count of 1687 passing Cap Gris-nez on Oct 16 (and 169 on the north Kent coast that day)

Sabine's Gull: One off the north Foreland in Kent on Oct 12 and 6 passing the Calais area on Oct 16

Glaucous Gull: Singles had been reported from Cornwall and Lymington in July and August but one on the Belgian coast on Oct 17 is likely to be the first autumn arrival in the Channel area

Sandwich Tern: 8 seen off Milton inside the entrance to Langstone Harbour on Oct 14 may all have been intending to stay with us through the winter but some of the 12 seen there on Oct 16 (when 266 were seen on the Normandy coast of France) were probably late passage birds

Arctic Tern: Still quite a few passing with a peak of 26 off north Kent on Oct 16

Black Tern: One at Lymington on Oct 11 was a surprise after none had been seen anywhere since Sep 24

Auks: We should be seeing more of these soon - on Oct 16 Spurn Head reported 1456 heading south and on Oct 17 there were 279 at a Dutch coastal site (a lone Guillemot was in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Oct 11, 12 and 13

Stock Dove: Just four reports of these on the move this week with a peak of 87 over a Dutch site on Oct 14

Wood Pigeon: The first report of any significant autumn movement in southern England was reported at Portland on Oct 14 (no count) and on Oct 17 there was a report of 197 passing over Sharpenhoe Clappers (an open area close to the west side of the A6 just north of Luton). On the continent there have been many reports since Oct 9 and on Oct 15 four sites in the Low Countries reported more than 10,000 passing over (peak of 35,550 that day but 50,000 at one site on Oct 14)

Turtle Dove: There have been very rare reports of wintering Turtle Doves in southern England in recent years and I wonder if we will have some staying this winter? Portland had two long stay birds still there on Oct 16 and Christchurch Harbour had one on Oct 15 (there could well be others at less well watched sites)

Long-eared Owl: One reported at Reculver in north Kent on Oct 14 may have been there for some time as two were seen in the same area on Aug 8

Short-eared Owl: Among four reports this week there is one of a bird flying in off the sea at the South Foreland in Kent on Oct 11 and another of one flying south from Dorset on Oct 15

Hoopoe: One in Devon on Oct 13 and another in the Isle of Wight in a garden between Brighstone and Shorewell on Oct 15 and 16

Wryneck: Late birds this week in Kent (south Foreland), Cornwall and the Scillies

Skylark: Plenty now on the move (and provoking resident birds into song to defend their territories as the migrants pass over). The peak count in England was 225 in Dorset on Oct 12 but on the continent Oct 14 brought the following high counts from different sites - 5648, 2182, 1672, 769 and 434

Shorelark: Two were seen on the Lymington marshes on Oct 13

Swallow: Plenty of current reports but the peak counts for England were down to 230 on Oct 15, 223 (in Jersey) on Oct 16 and 47 at Durlston on Oct 17

House Martin: Only seven reports for the week with a peak of 640 over Hastings on Oct 12 (and 68 over Durlston on Oct 17)

Rock Pipit: Three flew over Sandy Point (Hayling) on Oct 12 and Kevin Crisp had his 'first of the winter' on the Milton shore of Langstone Harbour on Oct 14

Yellow Wagtail: Three reports of late singles come from Brading (IoW) on Oct 11, Portland on Oct 15 and Durlston on Oct 17

Black Redstart: Eight reports this week include 4 at Folkestone on Oct 13, 14 in the Scillies on Oct 15, 5 at Portland on Oct 16 and a single seen briefly on south Hayling on Oct 13

Common Redstart: Latest in this week's news is one passing south through a Winchester garden on Oct 15

Whinchat: One in north Kent on Oct 15 is the latest I know of

Stonechat: Christchurch harbour had an influx of 70 on Oct 12

Wheatear: Singles at two south coast sites on Oct 16

Ring Ouzel: 32 reports during the week with a peak of 11 in the Hastings area on Oct 11 and still five birds in total at five sites on Oct 16

Blackbird: 115 at Dungeness on Oct 13 were probably arriving from the south but 351 passing Flamborough Head in Yorkshire on Oct 14 were heading south as were 120 passing Spurn Head on Oct 16

Fieldfare: Still no big flocks (biggest count in England was 56 in north Kent on Oct 13) but the birds are now widespread reaching the Scillies by Oct 14

Song Thrush: Many reports include counts of 100 over Hastings on Oct 13 and 220 going north over Jersey on Oct 14 when one Dutch site had a count of 1867

Redwing: 48 reports, mostly from southern England, include 28,892 flying south west over the RSPB HQ in Bedfordshire on Oct 13 and 12,535 coming south past Flamborough Head on Oct 14. Locally a few were heard flying over Havant on the night of Oct 10 and others were heard over Emsworth that night (the observer in Emsworth assumed they were going south but I think it more likely they were coming in from the south - birds coming from Scandinavia may cross the North Sea and then turn south when they reach Britain but others head south from Scandinavia and then west through Germany and France where quite a few turn north to get to Britain by the shorter sea crossing of the Channel)

Mistle Thrush: Twelve reports this week include a group of aroung 30 in the north west of the New Forest on Oct 11 and 135 going over a Dutch site on Oct 15 but all other reports of this now scarce Thrush were of less than 10 birds

Grasshopper Warbler: Just one report of a bird at Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 11

Reed Warbler: Also one late bird at Titchfield Haven on Oct 13

Barred Warbler: One in the Kent South Foreland area on Oct 11

Lesser Whitethroat: Two reports - one at Dungeness on Oct 8 and one in the Scillies on Oct 13

Common Whitethroat: Four reports - one at Dungeness on Oct 8, one at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Oct 11 and a single at Portland on both Oct 11 nd 14

Garden Warbler: Just one in Cornwall on Oct 14

Blackcap: Seven reports including 29 in Thanet (Kent) and 10 at Portland, both on Oct 14

Yellow-browed Warbler: Sixteen reports from sites all along the south coast including at least four in Cornwall and six in the Scillies

Radde's Warbler: One trapped and ringed at Sandwich Bay on Oct 10 and two more in the Scillies on Oct 15

Wood Warbler: A surprising late report of one at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 9

Chiffchaff: Numbers now diminishing to a max of 100 at Beachy Head on Oct 11. At least one still singing in the Brighton area on Oct 15

Willow Warbler: Three late reports of singles at Lands End (Oct 12), Thanet and Beachy Head (both on Oct 14)

Goldcrest: A small influx of 30 at Sandwich Bay on Oct 15

Firecrest: Eighteen reports including 12 birds in the Scillies on Oct 15 and one singing in the Q E Country Park near Petersfield on Oct 16 (at least three birds at that site)

Flycatchers: Spotted, Pied and Red-breasted all present in the Scillies on Oct 15

Long-tailed Tit: Reports of high flying Bearded Tits and Dartford Warblers are not uncommon at this time of year as the birds make long journey in search of 'greener grass' but I had never thought of Long-tailed Tits behaving in this way until now. On Oct 14 a party of 20 were seen to descend from a high flight and on that day one Dutch site recorded 93 migrants

Brown Shrike: One in the Staines area of Surrey drew a good crowd of birders on Oct 14 - I think this is the first of its species in this country this year (other than a 'possible' at the Lizard in Cornwall on Sep 27 - that may have been an Isabelline)

Great Grey Shrike: There have been 11 reports of this species since July, mostly from the near continent but including one in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 18,19 and more recently one flying east at Folkestone on Oct 14 but I am not aware of any settling in England yet

Jackdaw: By Oct 14 on Dutch site reported 5000 passing over and on Oct 15 another Dutch site reported 10,580 so there is little doubt these birds are moving to winter quarters. Here in England 283 flew west over south Hayling on Oct 13 and 40 went over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 15. Latest local report is of up to 180 circling over Portsmouth, gaining height and then flying north west towards Fareham at 8:45 am. These passage movements must be distinguished from the daily flights to and from huge corvid night roost which will soon build up (one such roost normally occurs in Elson Wood north of Gosport from which many hundreds of birds make daily flights to feed in places as far away as the New Forest). A collection of 800 Rooks seen in the Tarrant Hinton area of Dorset on Oct 14 may have been the beginnings of such a winter roost.

Starling: 13,000 passed over one Dutch site on Oct 14 and 10,576 over another on Oct 15 when Hunstanton in Norfolk recorded the arrival of 17,374 in Britain

Chaffinch: Also on Oct 15 Hunstanton had 4,000 Chaffinches coming in from the continent

Brambling: 30 new reports this week include peak counts of 132 in Holland on Oct 15 and 42 in the Thanet area of Kent that day

Greenfinch: These remain in short supply compared to the huge flocks of a few years ago but Christchurch Harbour had the peak count for this week with just 230 on Oct 12

Goldfinch: Peak count in this week's reports was 2360 at Climping near Worthing on Oct 14 - half a dozen other sites had over 1000 birds

Siskin: Peak count of 500 at Dungeness on Oct 14 but several other sites had over 100

Linnet: Christchurch Harbour had 1130 on Oct 14 but nothing to match the peak of 4300 there last week

Twite: First report for this autumn is of 7 in the Thanet area on Oct 12

Lesser Redpoll: Christchurch Harbour again had the highest count of the week with 112 on Oct 14

Crossbill: Twenty two reports this week as the birds continue to arrive in southern England. Biggest count was of 212 over Ballard Down near Swanage in Dorset but 105 were logged in Kent (Thanet) on Oct 14 and on Oct 15 the Ventnor Downs on the IoW had 89 passing over. At least one was heard in the Creech Woods at Denmead on Oct 12

Common Rosefinch: One in the Hastings area on Oct 11 was a surprise - another was still in the Scillies on Oct 15

Bullfinch: 10 seen in the Test valley at Timsbury on Oct 13 shows that a few of these are on the move (another 8 went over Hastings that day

Snow Bunting: None in southern England this week but 12 were at a site on the French coast on Oct 16. Five of these birds were still to be seen in the Cairngorms by Tony Tindale on Oct 10 and it is well worth a visit to the Three Amigos blog ( http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/12413/Ptarmigan+on+Cairngorm.html ) to see Tony's close up pictures of three Ptarmigans also present on Ben Macdhui that day. If you go to the start of the blog ( http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ) you can get even more benefit from Britain's Defence Budget which, even in these straightened times, not only takes you to the Cairngorms but also (courtesy of Steve Copsey) to the Straits of Gibralter to watch Eagles (Booted and Short-toed) heading south

Reed Bunting: Returning to our south coast Christchurch Harbour had 135 Reed Buntings passing on Oct 12 and 142 on Oct 14 - many other sites had smaller numbers including 4 at Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 12

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

43 Common Darters were still active at Gosport on Oct 8 and three could still be seen near Lymington on Oct 13 when many Ruddy Darters were reported at Oare Marshes in north Kent. One Southern Hawker was at Lymington on Oct 13 and two Migrant Hawkers were at Gosport on Oct 8

Butterflies

17 species in this week's reports (excluding the Small Skipper!)

Small Skipper: A report of one on the Isle of Wight on Oct 14 (when the last one previously reported was seen on Aug 23) is either a very exceptional observation which did not excite comment either from the person who saw it or the webmaster who posted it, or more likely a 'misprint' for Small Copper

Clouded Yellow: 40 could still be seen at Beachy Head on Oct 13, since when there have been reports of up to 8 from four other sites with the last at Durlston on Oct 17

Brown Argus: A fresh third generation female seen at Gosport on Oct 8 and another at Eastbourne on Oct 13

Queen of Spain Fritillary: Last week we reported the emergence in September of fresh butterflies at the Brandy Hole Copse site near Chichester from eggs laid by a migrant seen there on July 14. This week we have the observation of two of the original female's offspring mating there on Oct 12 raising the possibility of a resident colony starting here as has happened with Clouded Yellows at Bournemouth. Before that claim can be made the offspring of the current mating must be viable (problems with in-breeding?) and must survive the coming winter...

Gatekeeper: One found in good condition at Cissbury Ring (Worthing) on Oct 12 - the previous last sighting was on Sep 19

Moths

Yellow-tail (2030 Euproctis similis): An unexpected second generation moth was trapped at Mill Hill, Brighton, on Oct 13

Garden Tiger (2057 Arctia caja): A very late specimen was a surprise in the Portland trap on Oct 15

The Delicate (2195 Mythimna vitellina): One taken in the Rye area on Oct 11 was another surprise for this time of year

Blair's Shoulder-knot (2240 Lithophane leautieri): One trapped near Newhaven on Oct 10 was the first I have seen reported this year

Yellow-line Quaker (2264 Agrochola macilenta): First of the year at Friston (Eastbourne) on Oct 10 was a normal first for the time on year

Barred Sallow (2272 Xanthia aurago): One trapped at Portland on Oct 13 was the second ever at that site

Dusky-lemon Sallow (2275 Xanthia gilvago): Another first at Friston on Oct 7

Dark Arches (2321 Apamea monoglypha): A late specimen trapped at Portland on Oct 15

Silver Y (2441 Autographa gamma): Still arriving at Portland on Oct 10

Moth/Butterfly Larvae: A Pale Tussock caterpillar found in the Southwick Woods area north of Portsdown on Oct 8 was a surprise item for a walk party

Other Insects

Common Wasp: A lot of these about at the moment, some around Ivy flowers but many of them seemingly in need of a drink from my bird water containers

Hornet: Not as many reports as usual this year but a small crowd of them were seen on Oct 8 in the Southwick Woods area north of Portsdown

Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae): This recent invader of southern England was reported from Gosport on Oct 8

Great Green Bush Cricket: Still 'singing' in the Gosport area on Oct 8

Wood Cricket (Nemobius sylvestris): This species only gets its first mention for the year on Oct 13 when a chorus of them could be heard in woods north of Lymington.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

My current plant list of species found so far this month stands at 173 species

Welsh Poppy: The bright yellow flowers of one of these plants in a 'twitchel' path connecting Lymbourn Road to Wade Court Road (where Havant Borough workers have done their utmost to eliminate all colour and natural life from road and path sides) was a welcome site on Oct 12

Sea Heath (Frankenia laevis): Brian Fellows found many plants (past flowering) at the East Head site near West Wittering on Oct 15. I have looked for this plant in vain around the Black Point area of Hayling where it was reported as recently as 1995 and did not know it could be found just across the water of Chichester Harbour. Despite it's name the plant is unrelated to Heathers and is a member of the Rock Rose family with very similar flowers (but a pleasant pink colour rather than yellow). I have only heard of this plant at Rye Harbour this year but on checking the internet I find that, in addition to its east coast stronghold, there is an isolated colony in north Wales (well worth a look at http://www.ukwildflowers.com/Web_pages/frankenia_laevis_sea_heath.htm ). I see that the species can also be found by the Widewater Lagoon at Lancing in west Sussex.

Dwarf Mallow: I had given up hope of seeing this species this year when I stumbled on several plants at Prinsted this week (see my diary entry for Oct 12 for pictures)

Least Yellow Sorrel: On Oct 12 I found that the mass of plants in the footpath crossing Southbrook Road in Langstone had started autumn re-flowering

White Melilot: Brian Fellows added this to the October list when he found plants flowering at Eastney (Portsmouth) onmOct 13

Strawberry Tree: The big old specimen alongside Slipper Mill Road had started flowering on Oct 12 and on Oct 17 I found a specimen newly planted in the roadside flower bed of White Ladies Close (opposite the Wheelwright's Arms pub in the Emsworth Road of Havant) bearing both flowers and fruit

Moth Mullein: A couple of plants were flowering at Prinsted on Oct 12 at a site where I saw them last year and near them (at an old farmyard site) were a couple of plants which I have not yet been able to identify. One of them is probably one of the Pigweed (Amaranth) species but my best guess at the other (which may be well clear of the mark!) is that it is Sorghum - a huge species of grass which is grown in this country as a game crop and in Asia as a main source of grain. I gather that Sorghum plants can grow to several metres high and have stems 30 cm across which would fit these plants (which I think are still young). The leaves of these plants clasp the stem as grass leaves do and Brian Fellows tells me they have very rough edges (also like some grasses) but the only other clue is that they are reported at second hand to have blue flowers (with no descripton of the flower type). My next step will be to go back and see if the leaves do have the required 'ligules' where they leave the sheath clasping the stem

Shaggy Soldier (Galinsoga quadriradiata): Masses of this also flowering at Prinsted on Oct 12 in the market garden plot in fields close to the farmyard with the Moth Mullen

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): Still flowering at its Purbrook Heath site (Waterlooville) on Oct 16 - see my Diary entry for that day for pictures

Sea Rush (Juncus maritimus): I have seen a single clump of this in the Sandy Point nature reserve on Hayling and learn from Brian Fellows this week that a lot more of it can be seen at East Head, just across the water of Chichester Harbour entrance.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Weasel: A birder visiting Pagham Harbour on Oct 16 was surprised to see a Wood Pigeon crashing to the ground from several metres up in a tree overhanging the Church Norton carpark and even more surprised when he saw that a Weasel had it by the throat. When they hit the ground the pigeon was still alive and the Weasel retreated from its flapping wings and potentially stabbing beak but made repeated darting attacks on it until it was dead. I know that Weasels are notoriously fearless and inquisitive but this is the first time I have heard of one climbing so high and bringing down such a large prey item.

Minke Whale: A birding boat trip off the Scillies on Oct 13 encountered not only one of these Whales but also both Basking and Blue Sharks

Hedgehog: With the first touch of ground frost on my lawn on Oct 18 Hedgehogs will soon be settling down to hibernate. Tony Tupper told me that the one for which he had provided a winter home (in a hay box inside a chicken house) was already starting to use it for sleeping by day on Oct 8 and I have not heard of any others being active since then though John Goodspeed's website reports that one or two were still active in a Waterlooville garden on nights just before Oct 8. While on the subject of hibernation I missed the beginning of a contribution by Chris Packham to this week's AutumnWatch programme but heard him saying that some hibernating animals regularly awake during the winter months, partly to defecate and rid their bodies of what could accumulate into dangerous poision, but also to 'get some sleep' which is necessary to keep the brain in a healthy state (distinguishing sleep, during which bodily functions are active, from hibernation when the animal's metabolism closes down)

Snakes: Both Adder and Grass Snake were still active at the Q E Country Park near Petersfield on Oct 16 when Slow-worms could also still be seen

Angular Crab (Goneplax rhomboides): This was one of several species new to Cliff Dean when he was involved in a shrimp netting exercise in the sea at Rye Bay on Oct 11. Another was a Long-legged Spider Crab (Macropodia rostrata) and among other finds were species he had seen previously like the Little cuttlefish (Sepiola atlantica)

Fungi: A couple of interesting finds in this week's news are of a Wood Cauliflower (Sparassis crispa) in Park Wood at Waterlooville on Oct 8 and a more recent find of what I believe to be Branching Oyster (Pleurotus cornucopiae) on a dying Rowan tree in a Langstone garden (see pictures of this in my diary entry for Oct 16). One reason for hesitancy in this identification is that the spore print of the Oyster Mushrooms is given as lilac coloured while the staining of the gills shown in the photos is a bright rust colour. I could not get my specimen of the fungus to yield any spores but I suspect that the colouration of the gills may come from some other cause in the same way that the 'black speckles' seen on the top of the cap where actually tiny specks of dead wood which had dropped from a above as insects which had spent their larval period within the wood bored their way out as adults (many 'wood worm' like holes could be seen in the dead wood and the speckles shook of the cap if you tapped it!)


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 5 - 11 (Week 40 of 2009)

(Skip to previous week)

Highlights

The first large arrival of Brent brought 222 to Langstone Harbour on Oct 3 and 400 to Chichester Harbour on Oct 4 when there were already 53 Pintail in Langstone Harbour.

Current rarities include a possible American Golden Plover in Kent and a Long-tailed Skua in Hampshire - latest excitement is a Long-billed Dowitcher at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 11

Newcomers to the autumn reports are Bewick's Swan and Sacred Ibis (both on the continent) Also on the continent raptors have been moving in large numbers

Turtle Doves are later than usual in departing but most Terns have now left as the first large Starling flock of the winter arrives

Local excitement came from unexpected Woodlark song on Oct 8 and at least 5 Redwings flying over Havant during the night of Oct 10 (these are just a tiny part of recent massive movements of birds that will winter in Britain).

My knowledge of birds was extended this week by Jason Crook's comment on Bearded Tits feeding habits at Farlington Marshes

14 butterfly species are still flying, among them large numbers of Clouded Yellows in the Beachy Head area but the big story is the first successful breeding in Britain by a Queen of Spain Fritillary in Brandy Hole Copse near Chichester

Moth news includes two rarities (Sombre Brocade and Beautiful Gothic) plus th uncommon and very pretty Merveile du Jour

Late sunshine is keeping up the numbers of flowering plants among which I learn the name of ne species that is new to me - Caucasian Stonecrop. I also have photos of the uncommon but totally insignificant Chinese Mugwort at Broadmarsh. More colourful flowers this week are Dog and Field Rose plus Hairy Vetchling

With autumn nights turning cold Hedgehogs are thinking of hibernating and with more rain the number of fungi is increasing. The Chinese Mitten Crab also gets a lengthy mention in Other Wildlife where we also have a river full of Jellyfish.

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Two in the Lymington/Milford area on Oct 6 and the single Black-throated was still in Southampton Water on Oct 5. By Oct 8 Spurn Point had 22 of them heading south while one was still off the Bournemouth area.

Black-throated Diver: One still in Southampton Water on Oct 5 and reports of them in Weymouth Bay and Reculver in north Kent on Oct 7

Great Northern Diver: Other than one in Devon on Sep 7 the first in southern waters this autumn were seen on Oct 7 off Milford (west of Lymington) and Dungeness in Kent

Diver species: One unidentified diver flew over the RSPB HQ in Bedfordshire on Oct 9

Black-necked Grebe: Two were still in Langstone Harbour on Oct 4 with one still in Southampton Water on Oct 10 and the first two back in the Studland Bay area of Dorset on Oct 4

Sooty Shearwater: On Oct 6 ten were seen off Portland with five off Dungeness and even one seen well from Sandy Point on Hayling

Leach's Petrel: One reported off Bournemouth on Oct 9 (and two off the Scillies on Oct 4)

Shag: 25 seen off Milford/Lymington on Oct 7 was the highest Hampshire count of the year though these were probably passage birds like the 14 moving east past Hayling on Sep 20

Cattle Egret: Two are now based on the Lymington Marshes and both were seen on the evening of Oct 5 going to roost in the Normandy area with more than 50 Little Egrets. Both were still there on Oct 10

Glossy Ibis: The five at Dungeness were last reported on Oct 4 and the single bird at Paxton Pits on the Beds/Cambs border was still there on Oct 9

Sacred Ibis: One of these reported in Holland on Oct 9 (presumably a wild bird and not an escape)

Spoonbill: The number in Poole Harbour was up to 11 on Oct 10

Bewick's Swan: The first report I have seen this autumn is of 3 in Holland on Oct 9

Whooper Swan: One was in Cornwall on Oct 6 and 7 and maybe the same bird was at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Oct 8

Canada Goose: On Oct 5 there were thought to be a total of 670 at Titchfield Haven

Brent Goose: The first big flock of 400 seen in Chichester Harbour on Oct 4 was matched with another 150 seen in Langstone Harbour that day but both flocks have probably moved on. After writing this in mid-week I saw that Jason Crook had recorded a total of 222 in Langstone Harbour on Oct 3. On Oct 7 Titchfield Haven had 19 but on Oct 8 the Pointe du Hoc in Normandy recorded 3584 going west on the French coast. On Oct 9 Rye Harbour had 205 and on Oct 10 there were 15 on the Lymington Marshes and another 300 off the Normandy coast of France

Pale-bellied Brent: A few of these regularly get mixed up with the Dark-bellied birds and seem to stay with them for the rest of their lives. This was borne out this week with two separate reports of single Pale birds arriving back with flocks of Dark (on Oct 7 one Pale was with 19 Dark at Titchfield Haven area and on Oct 6 one Pale was with 10 Dark in the Pegwell Bay area of East Kent - I suppose this might be the same bird in both cases). I wonder why I have never come across reports of Dark birds joining Pale flocks?

Wigeon: On Oct 10 a total of 450 were seen in the north of Langstone Harbour by Jason Crook looking from Budds Mound

Pintail: A total of 53 were in Langstone Harbour on Oct 4

Garganey: The long staying bird was still at Sinah Lake (Hayling) from Sep 11 to Oct 10 - and another late bird was at Marazion in Cornwall from Oct 1 to 4

Tufted Duck: There were between 750 and 800 on the Paxton Pits (Beds/Cambs border) on Oct 5 and 7 - by far the biggest number of the autumn so far

Velvet Scoter: Two seen at Dungeness on Oct 3 were the first I have heard of in southern England this autumn (one seen on the north French coast on Oct 8 may be one of these)

Red-breasted Merganser: On Oct 7 two were seen off the Lymington shore and on Oct 9 three were seen at Dungeness and several were off the Climping shore east of Worthing

Goosander: Two in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 8 may well be birds breeding further up stream this summer

Ruddy Duck: Two reports this week suggest that more are now arriving in southern waters (though they may have been here un-noticed through the summer). One was at Bembridge (IoW) on Oct 5 and eight were at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 6 (where the previous high counts reported for this year were 5 in January and 3 on Sep 14)

Hen Harrier: A ringtail had been seen in the New Forest on Sep 12 and another was there on Oct 5 (with a further ringtail coming in over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 7). On Oct 10 a male was seen in the north west of the Forest

Sparrowhawk: On Oct 9 a Belgian site reported 38 migrants passing over (with 30 reported from a Dutch site that day)

Buzzard: Also on Oct 9 two Belgian sites reported 124 and 116 Buzzards passing over.

Osprey: Singles seen on Oct 9 and 10 over the Low Countries

Red-footed Falcon: One also reported from Holland on Oct 10

Hobby: Many of these may have left us already but there were still two in the Poole Harbour area on Oct 6 plus singles at Dungeness on Oct 5 and Blashford Lakes on Oct 4. Three were seen at Blashford on Oct 8 when another was in the Hastings area. Four went over a Belgian site on Oct 9. Last year the last I know of was at Rye Harbour on Oct 14.

Pheasant: An 'all white' female attacted attention on Oct 4 in fields near the West Stoke carpark for Kingley Vale near Chichester

Avocet: The total on Poole Harbour for the winter was up to 915 on Oct 8

Lesser Golden Plover: This seems to be a name for Pluvialis dominica which is nowadays generally called American Golden Plover. It was used to report sightings of a single bird seen among a flock of normal Golden Plover in the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 1 and 5 - the distinguishing feature noticed was the dark underwing of the 'different' bird. In the 'MacMillan Guide to Bird Identification' Keith Vinicombe says that the underwing coverts and axillaries are grey (silvery grey on Golden Plover) and so look darker in flight but when seen on the ground the American stands out more from a flock of Golden by being distinctly smaller and slighter and catches the eye as being different when actively feeding (though difficult to separate when at rest). Keith says the main thing to look for when on the ground is the length of the primaries which extend beyond the tail by 1 cm (normal Golden wings exend only just beyond the tail). This is the third bird I know of for this year after one in Norfolk on July 22 and one in the Scillies on Sep 20

Lapwing: Still no large numbers in southern England but that may soon change as on Oct 10 three sites in the Low Countries reported 295, 313 and 1005 respectively passing over

Knot: 27 were in the Farlington Marshes lake area at high tide on Oct 4

Pectoral Sandpiper: Still at Lymington marshes on Oct 10

Curlew Sandpiper: On Oct 4 there were singles at Farlington Marshes, Lymington and Newtown Harbour on the IoW. Latest report is of one in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 9

Purple Sandpiper: Two more have been seen in the Scillies on Oct 3 but so far none have been seen nearer to Hampshire than Selsey Bill (where two were seen on Sep 6)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: A young bird has been at Paxton Pits in Bedfordshire from Oct 4 to 6

Jack Snipe: One was at Arundel Wildfowl Trust reserve on Oct 6 and one was at the Farlington Marshes Lake on Oct 8

Long-billed Dowitcher: Those twitchers who have not yet gone to the Scillies (where one of these was on Tresco up to Oct 7) will be heading for the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood where one turned up on Oct 11

Black-tailed Godwit: A count of 760 by Jason Crook at Farlington Marshes on Oct 4 was more than double the 300 peak count there so far this autumn (though not the 1215 in Poole Harbour on Oct 1). On Oct 10 a flock of 300 was in the Bosham area of Chichester Harbour, a significant increase on the flock of 212 seen in the Chichester Channel on Sep 19

Whimbrel: A total of six were seen by the party which Barry Collins led round Thorney Island on Oct 4 - the date is getting late for passage birds and Thorney usually has at least two Whimbrel wintering around it, making me wonder if all six will stay this winter. 20 Greenshank were seen around Thorney by the same party

Redshank: A high tide roost of around 150 birds were in the Budds Farm Pools at Havant on Oct 10

Long-tailed Skua: Great, Arctic and Pomarine Skuas have all been seen at several places in the past few days but only two Long-tailed were reported - one at Milford on sea (west of Lymington) on Oct 6. The other was also seen on Oct 6 at Start Point in Devon where there were 27 Arctic and 81 Great Skuas. Still on Oct 6 Portland reported 55 Great Skuas.

Sabine's Gull: One seen in north Kent on Oct 7

Ring-billed Gull: Still none at Gosport but on Oct 11 two stopped to bathe at the Blashford Lakes before flying off west

Terns: Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns have all been seen up to Oct 6 but numbers are now small. Having written that in mid-week there was a surge bring 50 Sandwich to Dungeness on Oct 9 and 700 to the Normandy coast of France on Oct 10. 13 Common Terns were off Titchfield Haven on Oct 6 and 2 were seen at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 8. 10 Arctic Terns were at Christchurch on Oct 7 and 5 there on Oct 8

Auks: One Guillemot was seen from Milford on sea on both Oct 5 and 6 and a single Razorbill was off Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 6. On Oct 7 Christchurch Harbour had 4 Razorbills

Stock Dove: First signs of autumn movement with 38 roosting at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 8 and 54 passing over a Dutch site on Oct 9

Wood Pigeon: No big numbers in southern England so far but on Oct 9 one Dutch site had 1595 going over and another had 1746

Turtle Dove: Last year the last of the year was at Portland on Sep 27 - this year there were still two at Portland on Oct 10 with one at Christchurch Harbour that day.

Barn Owl: One reported at Portland on Oct 10 but I am not sure if it was coming, going or resident

Wryneck: A late bird at the Lizard in Cornwall on Oct 5 - last year there was one at Farlington Marshes until Oct 13

Woodlark: I thought these had by now all moved from their inland breeding sites to winter near the coast or in market gardens but on Oct 8 Brian Fellows heard at least one singing over fields near West Marden (north of the source of the River Ems) where breeding numbers have been increasing in recent years. This report elicited news from Sussex that one had been heard singing on Sep 21 and that song was heard throughout October last year. A large increase in reports of birds on the move includes one on south Hayling before setting out over Langstone Harbour on Oct 8. Oct 9 brought a report of 55 passing over one Dutch site

Skylark: By Oct 8 Dungeness had 44 and Christchurch Harbour had 73 passing over while Oct 9 brought a report of 806 over one Dutch site and 313 over another. On Oct 10 Durlston had 68 over and Lodmoor (Weymouth) had 52

Swallow: Numbers have dramatically decreased in the past week or so but Dungeness was still able to record 280 on Oct 6. Numbers then shot up again on Oct 8 and 9 with a peak of 4300 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 9

House Martin: Durlston was still able to report 2000 overhead on Oct 9 when Barton on Sea had an estimated 1700

Meadow Pipit: One Dutch site reported 25,000 passing over on Oct 5

Yellow Wagtail: Five reports this week - the latest being 2 over Hastings on Oct 10

Pied Wagtail: Singles heard over my garden this week suggest that winter birds have settled in here in the Havant area and this is confirmed by a first report of a flock of 170 on playing fields near the M27 and Southampton airport in the Eastleigh area on Oct 7 (also that day Christchurch Harbour reported a total of 1100 Alba wagtails passing over)

Robin: An influx of Robins with 40+ at Dungeness on Oct 4 and more than 43 at an Andover site on Oct 5. On Oct 9 Dungeness had 50

Black Redstart: Durlston reported the first of the autumn there on Oct 5 and by Oct 10 singles had been seen at Haywards Heath, St Catherine's Point (IoW), and Portland

Ring Ouzel: 15 reports this week include 7 birds in the Hastings area on Oct 10 with 3 in the New Forest and 2 in Andover that day

Blackbird: 26 more in from the continent in the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 6

Fieldfare: Nine reports this week including 20 birds in Yorkshire on Oct 9 and 4 at Cissbury Ring in Sussex on Oct 10

Song Thrush: More than 50 arrived at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 4 and 40 were in the New Forest on Oct 9. By Oct 10 one Dutch site reported 700 passing and another had 418

Redwing: Late news of an early arrival on Sep 22 at Longwood Warren below Cheesefoot Head east of Winchester (not quite the first to arrive this autumn - that honour went to Spurn Point in Yorkshire with 5 there on Sep 15). Latest news is of 83 in Bedfordshire on Oct 10 when 5 went over Ashdown Forest, 2 were seen near Beachy Head with another 2 at Christchurch Harbour and at least 5 going over Havant in the late evening. In Yorkshire 661 went over Bradford on Oct 9 and a Belgian site had 168 on Oct 10

Mistle Thrush: 15 reports this week was a real surprise to me - especially one report of more than 30 together in the New Forest on Oct 10 when 12 were at Cissbury Ring near Worthing

Zitting Cisticola: One still reported in north Kent on Oct 5

Blackcap: Still good numbers - on Oct 5 there were 83 in total at three sites and Durlston still had 30 on Oct 7

Yellow-browed Warbler: There seem to be three different birds in Cornwall and the Scillies this week plus one whose calls surprised a birder in his own garden in Hove (Brighton) on Oct 2. On Oct 8 one was at Birling Gap on Beachy Head. On Oct 9 there were 2 on Portland and on Oct 10 one at Christchurch Harbour was the first of the autumn there

Chiffchaff: Still plentiful with 120 at Durlston on Oct 5 and around 50 there on Oct 7

Willow Warbler: Three sites reported singles this week - the last was one singing in Thanet on Oct 5

Firecrest: Reported from seven sites between Oct 4 and 7 with a max of 25+ at Dungeness on Oct 9

Spotted Flycatcher: A late bird at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 8

Pied Flycatcher: One in the Scillies on Oct 7

Bearded Tit: On Oct 4 Jason Crook saw 17 at Farlington Marshes with some of them on the mud at the base of the reeds suggesting they were eating fallen seeds (though they could have been picking up tiny pieces of grit which birds need in their gizzards to grind up whatever food they take in) and Jason tells us that Bearded Tits live on a diet of invertebrate food during the summer and it is only in the winter that they feed on reed seeds (giving us a much better chance to see them as they come to the top of the reed stems).

Red-backed Shrike: The juvenile which appeared at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Oct 2 was still there on Oct 4. Another was near Swanage in Dorset on Oct 8

Woodchat Shrike: One remains near Lands End up to Oct 7

Jackdaw: 70 flew over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 9 and a Dutch site reported 2668 over on that day

Starling: A flock of more than 2000 seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 6 was the largest that I know off since an estimated 3000 came to roost in the reeds at the Dungeness RSPB site on July 22. Since then a Dutch site has reported 8000 passing on Oct 10

House Sparrow: On Oct 10 I noticed a large number chattering away hidden in bushes in a Havant garden (something I have not heard for some time) and on that day a French site reported 130 passing through

Chaffinch: Several reports of thousands moving on the continent with a peak of 8954 over a Dutch site on Oct 9

Brambling: Four at Dungeness on Oct 9 and three at Durlston on Oct 10

Greenfinch: Numbers of this species remain low but Christchurch Harbour reported 660 passing on Oct 9

Linnet: Christchurch Harbour had 4300 over on Oct 9

Lesser Redpoll: Christchurch Harbour had 86 over on Oct 9

Crossbill: Counts of 26 at Sandwich Bay and 24 at Reculver near the North Foreland on Oct 7 may have been the same flock arriving from the continent. 23 flew over Stubbington south of Fareham on Oct 9 but there was a surprising count of 234 going over Ballard Down near Swanage on Oct 7

Lapland Bunting: A flock of six were on the shore at Pegwell Bay in Kent on Oct 5 while singles were at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 5 and at Durlston on Oct 7

Little Bunting: One at Portland on Oct 8

Reed Bunting: Numbers on passage have now taken off with a peak of 135 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 9

Latest reports of departing summer visitors

Turtle Dove 3 on Oct 10

Wryneck 1 on Oct 5

Woodlark 1 on Oct 9

Sand Martin 2 on Oct 7

Swallow 4300 on Oct 9

House Martin 'hundreds' on Oct 7

Tree Pipit 2 on Oct 10

Meadow Pipit 3800 on Oct 7

Yellow Wagtail 1 on Oct 5

Common Redstart 2 on Oct 5

Whinchat 2 on Oct 10

Wheatear 25 on Oct 8

Ring Ouzel 7 on Oct 10

Grasshopper Warbler 1 on Oct 10

Sedge Warbler 1 on Oct 10

Reed Warbler 3 on Oct 5 and 2 on Oct 10

Lesser Whitethroat 1 on Oct 6

Common Whitethroat 2 on Oct 8

Garden Warbler 1 on Oct 4

Blackcap 50 on Oct 5 and 40 on Oct 8

Chiffchaff 120 on Oct 5 and 70 on Oct 8 on Oct 7

Willow Warbler 1 on Oct 5

Spotted Flycatcher 1 on Oct 8

Pied Flycatcher 1 on Oct 7

Peak numbers of passerines currently on passage in England

Woodlark 2 on Oct 8

Skylark 73 on Oct 8

Rock Pipit 5 on Oct 8

Grey Wagtail 4 on Oct 10

Pied Wagtail 172 on Oct 7

Robin 50 at Dungeness on Oct 9

Stonechat 5 o Oct 9

Blackbird 26 on Oct 6

Fieldfare 20 on Oct 9

Song Thrush 50+ on Oct 4

Redwing 83 on Oct 10

Mistle Thrush 30+ on Oct 10

Yellow-browed Warbler 2 on Oct 10

Goldcrest 16 on Oct 10

Firecrest 25+ on Oct 9

Chaffinch 560 on Oct 9

Brambling 4 on Oct 9

Greenfinch 660 on Oct 9

Goldfinch 2200 on Oct 7

Siskin 378 on Oct 7

Linnet 4300 on Oct 9

Lesser Redpoll 86 on Oct 9

Crossbill 234 on Oct 7

Reed Bunting 125 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 9

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

One Common Darter and one Southern Hawker seen in Havant Thicket on Oct 8 when quite a few Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were seen in the Hook/Warsash area

Butterflies

14 species reported in the current news

Clouded Yellow: 80 still in the Birling Gap area of Beachy Head on Oct 4 and at least 16 were in the Barton on Sea area on Oct 10 with the latest report being ov 2 at Durlston on Oct 11

Brimstone: A fresh male was a surprise on Portland on Oct 10

Large White: An estimate of 100 at Bexhill near Hastings on Oct 3 with more than 20 Small White

Queen of Spain Fritillary: One female was in the Brandy Hole Copse area just north west of Chichester on July 14 and must have laid eggs there on Field Pansies in a field bordering the copse. These become caterpillars which fed on the Pansies and recently emerged as butterflies in mid September. At least one of them was caught and eaten by a spider but six survived until after Oct 4. On Oct 10 Neil Hulme led a party of 25 enthusiasts from Sussex to see the two remaining butterflies. Neil says there are currently strong populations of this butterfly along the Normandy coast of France and that is where the original migrant female came from. I think this is the first record of breeding in Britain - the UK butterflies website says that although some of the rare immigrants have been seen egglaying no offspring have been found in mainland Britain

Moths

Cochylis hybridella (0965): First mention of this species from Thanet in Kent on Oct 5 (Acccording to UK Moths this pretty chalkland species flies in July and August while Hants Moths shows records from June to September)

Pandemis cinnamomeana (0971): First at Portland on Oct 4 - surprising at Portland as this is an uncommon woodland species at the end of its flight period in October

Cypress Carpet (1771 Thera cupressata): First report from Durlston on Oct 10

Beautiful Gothic (2226 Leucochlaena oditis): First report of this rarity is from Durlston on Oct 10

Merveille du jour (2247 Dichonia aprilina): First record for this year is of 2 at an unidentified site in Sussex on Oct 8

Sombre Brocade (2248b = Dryobotodes tenebrosa): This moth was new to Britain in 2006 when it was found on Guernsey and since then it has only been seen on the mainland at Durlston where one was found this year on Oct 10

Red-line Quaker (2263 Agrochola lota): First report of this autumn species is from Rye Harbour on Oct 10

Moth/Butterfly Larvae: On Oct 8 a full grown Convolvulus Hawk caterpillar was found at Dungeness

Other Insects

Crane Flies: Thousands seen in the Seaford are on Oct 7

Sturmia Bella: This parasitic fly which is thought to be the main cause of the diminishing numbers of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies was first found in Britain in 1998 and gets a mention now after Hampshire Butterfly Conservation noted that one of three Peacock pupae found near Fareham had beed killed by the fly's larva when the other butterflies emerged on Oct 3

Hornet: One worker on its 'death leave' was found in the cafe at Durlston country park on Oct 10

Great Silver Water Beetle: A late specimen was in a moth trap at Rye Harbour on Oct 10

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Common Fumitory: One plant had started re-flowering in my Havant garden on Oct 10

Pale Flax: Durlston reported a plant still in flower on Oct 9

Indian/Himalayan Balsam: Still flowering in damp ditches in the Chidham Village area east of Emsworth where it was seen by Brian Fellows on Oct 6

Hairy Vetchling: Three plants still flowering on Oct 10 in a part of the Broadmarsh 'mountain' here in Havant where the grass had not been mown

Field Rose: One bush with two fresh flowers seen on Oct 8 on the Gipsies Plain west of Rowlands Castle

Dog Rose: Two plants seen with fresh flowers in the Havant area on Oct 10

Caucasian stonecrop (Sedum spurium): This is normally a garden species but when it escapes or is left untended it is very persistent. This week I found several fresh flowers on plants in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery and this persuaded me to find out the name of this plants whose dense mats of non flowering stems and leaves I have seen in both the Havant and Warblington cemeteries on long untended graves - see my picture with my diary entry for Oct 5

Chinese Mugwort: This inconspicuous alien never flowers until Oct and I found several plants in flower at Broadmarsh n Havant on Oct 10 - see Diary entry for photos

Several other plants get a mention in my diary entry for Oct 8 and bring the total of plants seen flowering in October to around 152

OTHER WILDLIFEE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: More than 20 off the Scillies on Oct 5

Minke Whale: A boat trip around the Scillies came on 2 Minke Whales and some 30 Common Dolphins on Oct 3

Hedgehog: It's now time for these to be thinking about hibernating and here in Havant Tony Tupper has provided a small box stuffed with hay for the young Hedgehog that has been coming to feed in his garden for some time. The box has been put in a chicken house and so should be secure from frost and snow and the Hedgehog has already started to explore it.

Chinese Mitten Crab: On Oct 1 a dog walker in a field close the River Rother near Rye was confronted with a Crab waving its enlarged claw menacingly at both man and dog. The Crab was said to be a Japanese Mitten Crab but Barry Yates (warden of Rye Harbour reserve) suggested on the RX website that it was more likely to be the Chinese species which had had a mention on the RX website in March 2008 when a dead crab washed up on the Camber Sands had been identified as that species. What was written about it on that occasion caused me to write the following in my Summary ...

"This is an unwelcome ship-borne alien invader from the Far East which arrived in the Thames estuary (where it is now well established) as long ago as 1935 and has been spreading around the east coast - the dead one was the first to be found in Rye Bay and may have been washed there after it died, but live ones are probably not far behind. The name 'Mitten Crab' comes from the tufts of hairs that grow between the joints of the crab's limbs giving the appearance of a crab wearing gloves. The reasons for this species being unwelcome include the fact that it is able to flourish and multiply in our waters, but are mainly based on its habit of tunnelling into the banks of streams, causing the banks to collapse, and on its willingness to enter buildings (including inhabited houses). It probably also has an adverse effect on longer established species here."

A Google search today added a couple of pieces of information about the species - firstly that it reached Europe as early as 1912 when it was found in Germany, and secondly that the species normally lives in fresh water (and thus is likely to move up the River Rother or any other river) but has to return to the sea when they reach five years old and need to breed. Wikipaedia goes on to tell us .. "This species is very invasive and has been spread to North America and Europe, raising concerns that it competes with local species, and its burrowing nature damages embankments and clogs drainage systems. The crabs can make significant inland migrations. It was reported in the London Evening Standard in 1995 that the residents of Greenwich, UK, saw the Chinese mitten crabs coming out of the River Thames and moving towards the High Street, and other reports indicate that the crabs have been known to take up residence in swimming pools. In some places the crabs have been found hundreds of miles from the sea."

The suggestion that this was a Japanese Mitten Crab may have come from someone who had come on that species in a restaurant as both species are regarded as delicacies by gourmets and may be found in restaurants in this country but I am not aware that living Japanese Mitten Crabs can be found in British waters. The thought of eating either species should carry with it the warning that these crabs are good at collecting such poisons as Cadmium and Mercury which they can tolerate but which might not be good for humans (though the British Natural History Museum has this year issued advice that crabs caught in the Thames are safe to eat)

If you want to see the most menacing photo of this 'nasty alien invader' try http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/ecology/aliens-of-the-deep-invade-britain/548

Common Jellyfish: On Oct 7 the Beaulieu River was full of small Jelly Fish which the reporter described as being 'Common Moon Jellyfish' making me wonder if it was a different species to Aurelia aurita which I have listed as Common Jellyfish but I now find that they are the same

Fungi: My first significant find of the autumn came in Havant Thicket on Oct 8 with a troop of around 50 'dinner plate sized' Fleecy Milkcaps as well as two clumps of Sulphur Tuft. On the same day Brian Fellows found several Shaggy Inkcaps (some of them already going over) near Watergate House north of Walderton in the Ems valley - nearby he found some fresh and colourful 'Turkeytail' (Trametes versicolor)


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

(Skip to previous week)

Highlights

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

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

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

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

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barred Warbler: One on the Scillies on Sep 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Rosefinch: One in the Scillies on Sep 27

Ortolan Bunting: One still on the Scillies on Sep 27

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

Little Bunting: Possibly 2 in the Scillies on Oct 1

Maximum counts/latest sightings of migrants:

Turtle Dove 3 at Portland on Oct 1

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

Great Spotted Woodpecker 4 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 27

Wood Lark 4 at Durlston on Sep 28

Skylark 52 at Spurn Point on Oct 2

Sand Martin 1 at Spurn Point on Oct 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Redstart 1 at Dungeness on Oct 2

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

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

Wheatear 14 at Portland on Oct 1

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

Blackbird 18 north over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28.

Song Thrush 65 over Dungeness on Oct 2

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

Mistle Thrush max 3 over Sandwich Bay on Sep 28

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

Sedge Warbler 1 at Portland on Sep 28

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

Lesser Whitethroat 2 at Portland on Oct 1

Common Whitethroat 1 at Beachy Head on Sep 30

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

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

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

Willow Warbler just 1 near Chichester on Sep 29

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

Firecrest 3 at Dungeness on Oct 1

Spotted Flycatcher 1 at Portland on Sep 29

Pied Flycatcher 1 late bird at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2

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

Tree Sparrow 25 at Dungeness on Oct 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lapland Bunting 1 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 27

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

Reed Bunting 87 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 2

Corn Bunting 44 at Rye Harbour on Sep 29

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

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

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

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

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

Ruddy Darter: Reported at Rye Harbour on Sep 29

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

Butterflies

18 species reported this week

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

Adonis Blue: Still being reported at Durlston on Oct 4

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

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

Moths

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

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

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

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

Other Insects

Crane Flies: Durlston reports many now emerging on Sep 29

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

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

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucerne: Also flowering at Eastney on Sep 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER WILDLIFEE

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

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

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


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To see Summaries for April to June 2008 go to APR-JUN 2008 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for January to March 2008 go to JAN-MAR 2008 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2007 go to OCT-DEC 2007 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to Sept 2007 go to JUL-SEP 2007 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2007 go to APR-JUN 2007 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for Jan, Feb and Mar 2007 go to JAN-MAR 2007 SUMMARIES


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