GO TO ... DAILY DIARY HOMEPAGE MONTHLY HIGHLIGHTS SPECIES LISTS MAPS ABOUT RALPH HOLLINS

WEEKLY SUMMARY

These Nature Notes are now available from two hosts.
If the one you visit seems out of date try the other. The two addresses are
"http://ralph-hollins.net/"
"http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ralph.hollins/"


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 27 - Jan 2 (Week 52 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

Highlights

Red-throated Divers moving along the coast in exceptional numbers

Shags have begun nesting and Cormorants are in breeding plumage

There are more Bitterns at more sites in southern England than usual

On Dec 31 a herd of maybe 100 Bewick's Swans blazed a trail across the Sussex skies from Worthing to Rye Bay - it must have been an impressive sight and sound but left no clue as to its origin or destination

The White Tailed Sea Eagle which disappeared near Southampton Water on Dec 12 may well have re-appeared on Jan 1 in the Hordle (New Milton) area

The Great Bustard first seen in the Portland/Weymouth area from Dec 23 to 27 has re-appeared in the Avon valley/Christchurch Harbour area from Dec 30 to Jan 1

Christmas entertainment by escaped birds was in the form of a singing Budgie on the Isle of Wight and a Golden Eagle in Sussex

The Raven night roost in Dorset had 147 birds on Dec 31 and Dorset also has a single winter Dipper near Dorchester

Two sightings of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in Hampshire show they are not extinct in the county and four reports of Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming since Dec 14 shows they think spring has come - also showing that Tawny Owls are not yet extinct within the Havant builtup area was a sighting in a Netherfield Close garden

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: From Dec 25 to Jan 1 very large numbers have been moving along the south coast (sometimes east, sometimes west). On Dec 25 100 were seen off Worthing, on Dec 27 there were 66 off Selsey Bill, on Dec 30 more than 138 went past Christchurch Harbour and Dungeness reported 400 going west. On New Years Day 242 went past Newhaven

Black-throated Diver: These were also on the move but the peak counts were of just 5 passing Christchurch Harbour on Dec 30 and 5 off Newhaven on Jan 1

Great Northern Diver: These were not obviously involved in the movement and the highest count was of just 4 going west at Selsey on Dec 27. On Dec 30 one was seen by the Mulberry Harbour section in Langstone Harbour

Great Crested Grebe: On Dec 25 a raft of 250 at Christchurch Harbour were said to be mostly new arrivals. On Dec 26 there were 189 in the Solent off the Brownwich Cliffs (prev high count was 158). Other big rafts in England were 160+ in Rye Bay on Dec 31 and 163 at Torbay in Devon while Thanet in Kent had 190+ on Dec 28. Across the Channel 2294 were at a Netherlands site on Dec 29. On Jan 1 I had difficulty in finding one in Langstone Harbour but there had been a raft of 25 near Portchester Castle in Portsmouth Harbour

Red-necked Grebe: Singles were seen off Worthing on Dec 26, off Portland on Dec 27 and Portchester Castle on Dec 29. New Year's Day brought one to Selsey Bill

Slavonian Grebe: More than 14 were reported on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Jan 1 and 3 were seen near the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Dec 30 while Studland Bay had 4 on Dec 31

Black-necked Grebe: There were no formal reports from Langstone Harbour this week but I heard a verbal report of 2 off the Oyster Beds on Jan 1. Elsewhere Portland Harbour had 15 on Dec 28 and Studland Bay had 38 on Dec 31

Cormorant: The sea off Bournemouth was reported to have 800 on New Year's Day when I saw my first in full breeding plumage at Budds Farm in Havant

Shag: On Dec 30 one was seen flying in with nesting material to the Durlston Cliffs

Bittern: Being seen in larger than usual numbers at more sites than usual. The Dungeness RSPB reserve claims to have had 11 on Dec 27 and 28, Radipole (Weymouth) is thought to have had 5 on Dec 26, Rye Harbour claims 4 on Dec 30 while Pett Level had 3 on Dec 31. Sites claiming two birds are the Exminster Marshes in Devon, Hatch Pond in Poole Harbour, Burton Mill Pond near Pulborough, Pagham Harbour North Walls on Jan 1 and Christchurch Harbour on Jan 1. Singles were at the Chichester Lakes (Vinnetrow), Blashford Lakes, Fishlake Meadows at Romsey, Lodmoor (Weymouth), Titchfield Haven, Pagham Lagoon and Arundel Wetlands Reserve

Great White Egret: New birds appeared at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Dec 27 and at Mottisfont (R Test north of Romsey) on Dec 31 Little Egrets have become scarce at coastal sites - not known if the birds have flown inland or south across the Channel

Bewicks Swan: On the morning of Jan 1 there were 317 at Slimbridge (previous high was 275 on Dec 24) and no site that I am aware of has lost a substantial number of birds so it is puzzling to know the origin of a substantial herd of at least 84 and possibly 100 Bewick's which flew east along the south coast (and presumably on across the North Sea though they may have settled in the Romney Marshes north of Dungeness) on Dec 31. They were first reported over the Worthing area around 10:30am and last seen over Pett Levels soon after midday. One report says there were 2 Whoopers among them. Many years ago I heard and saw a flypast of some 35 Bewicks going east low over Warblington Church at the end of one winter and I can still clearly remember hearing their non-stop bell-like calls long before the birds came into sight flying in an unbalanced V formation (4 birds on one side of the leader, 30 on the other) only some 100 feet up - a flight of 100 birds would be a dramatic sight and sound.

Wild Geese: In winter we expect lots of 'plastic' wildfowl to appear at many wetland sites but this past week has brought even larger numbers and variety of species to our south coast as genuine wild birds flee the unusually cold weather. Most numerous have been White-fronts (flocks of 400 up to 570 in Kent) and Barnacles (140 at Sandwich Bay and 128 at Slimbridge) but we have also had a few Pink-foots (max 7 at Scotney Court near Rye) and there have been two reports of Bean Geese (max 12 at Sandwich Bay). Farlington Marshes has its share of the influx - in addition to the usual masses of Canadas and Brent it had on New Year's Day 15 White-fronts, half a dozen Barnacles and a single Pink-foot.

Brant: One was in the Yarmouth area of the Isle of Wight on both Dec 26 and 27 with Brent and 100 Barnacles. The only other reports are of one that turned up in the Pett Level area on Jan 1 and one seen in the Climping area near Littlehampton on Jan 1

Red-breasted Goose: One arrived at Pett Level on Dec 26 and was still there on Dec 31. There has been no report of the Exe estuary bird since Dec 12

Ruddy Shelduck: On Dec 27 three were in the Hook area near Warsash and a single was in the Pagham Harbour North Walls area

Wigeon: Vast numbers (uncountable thousands!) are currently present at every potential site along the south coast

Gadwall: A count of 46 in Emsworth Harbour on Jan 1 set a new record for that site and typifies the recent spread of these duck on the south coast

Pintail: On New Year's Day I saw more than a dozen at Farlington Marshes while Nutbourne Bay had more than I have ever seen at one site. On Dec 26 I see that there were 264 at Exmouth in Devon.

Fudge Duck (Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid): Without entering into the discussion as to whether some or all of the birds reported in the Langstone Harbour area are pure bred or hybrid one was reported at Farlington Marshes on Dec 30 and another/the same was at Budds Farm Pools on Dec 31

Scaup: The number at Abbotsbury in Dorset was up to 27 on Dec 28 and on Jan 1 there were 20 in Poole Harbour. Locally there was a group of 6 in Paulsgrove Lake of Portsmouth Harbour on both Dec 30 and Jan 1 (with a different bird in Fareham Creek). Another singleton was in Pagham harbour on Jan 1

Velvet Scoter: Four were off the Climping shore (near Littlehampton) on Jan 1

Smew: The single bird at the Chichester Lakes was still there on Jan 1 and new birds were in Pagham Lagoon and in Poole Harbour that day. Dungeness RSPB had a peak count of 14 on Dec 28 and the number at the Longham Lakes (Bournemouth) increased to 4 on Dec 30. Another new bird arrived at Mottisfont on the R Test on Dec 27, remaining to Jan 1

Goosander: The number roosting at the Blashford Lakes had increased to 140 on Dec 26 but shot up to 231 on Dec 31 (a separate count of 54 that day on a different lake from the main flock may have been in addition)

White-tailed Eagle: The bird which flew from Amberley Wild Brooks to Titchfield Haven on Dec 12 has not been seen again in 2010 but there have been further sightings in the Netherlands on Dec 18 and 20 and now another bird has turned up in Hampshire on Jan 1. It is described as a juvenile (as was the previous bird which also had no wing tags) and was found perched in the Hordle area of the west Hampshire coast before it took off and circled the area for 20 minutes, then flew north west towards New Milton. No further sightings so far. My guess is that this is the same bird that vanished on Dec 12.

Buzzard: Of local interest I watched a Buzzard flapping slowly over the Hayling Billy Trail just north of the A27 in Havant on Dec 27 and later that day saw two perched close to each other on a dead tree in the field boundary half way between Wade Lane and Pook Lane south of the A27. Another Buzzard was an unexpected tick on my New Year's Day bird list when I saw it perched on a fence post at Farlington Marshes.

Water Rail: Also of local interest John Goodspeed's website carries a report of one seen in the central stream of Warblington Farm on Dec 26. On Dec 28 two at a Devon site were said to be 'singing' to celebrate the thaw - unlike the pig-like squealing we normally hear from Water Rails their 'song' is described 'Kik-kik-kik-kik' becoming faster and turning into a trill

Great Bustard: What was probably the same bird that was seen at Portland on Dec 24 after appearing in the area of 'The Fleet' (north of Weymouth) on Dec 23 was seen again at Langton Herring still in the Weymouth area on Dec 27. It then moved to Harbridge in the Ringwood area on Dec 30 before flying south to Christchurch Harbour on Dec 31 (see the CHOG website for a series of photos) and on Jan 1 it spent most of the day at Cowards Marsh (on R Avon just north of Christchurch) before flying south. This is of course an escapee from the Salisbury Plain re-introduction project - last winter more than one escaped and some returned to Salisbury Plain after a lengthy holiday

Avocet: 34 were present at Farlington Marshes on Dec 27 and a similar number were there on Jan 1 though they eluded me after being dispersed by a Peregrine. Also on Jan 1 Christchurch Harbour had 12 and Nutbourne Bay had 13

Knot: Around 80 were on the Emsworth western shore on Dec 29 but only 20 were seen there on Jan 1. At the west end of the Solent in the Hurst/Milford area there were more than 100 on Dec 28 and the Hook/Warsash shore had 33 on Jan 1 but nothing like the 7000 on the north Kent coast at Seasalter on Dec 27

Purple Sandpiper: Brighton Marina had 24 on Jan 1

Whimbrel: Wintering birds were seen at the Fishbourne Channel on Dec 28 and Eling Great Marsh (head of Southampton Water) on Dec 27

Spotted Redshank: The Emsworth Nore Barn bird was still showing on Jan 1 and on Dec 27 there were 8 on the Lymington marshes

Green Sandpiper: The Langstone South Moors bird was seen on Dec 31 and on Jan 1 one was seen in a muddy channel of the Farlington Marshes area north of the A27. On Jan 1 others were seen in Fareham Creek, the Lower Test Marshes, the Timsbury area north of Romsey and the Weston shore of Southampton Water (two seen there)

Grey Phalarope: One was still at Newlyn in Cornwall on Dec 29

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was on the Cockle Pond on Jan 1

Lesser Blackback Gull: On Dec 27 exceptional numbers were recorded at Christchurch Harbour (275) and on the Adur at Shoreham (175+) where there were also 125+ Great Blackbacks

Iceland Gull: A young bird was at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Jan 1

Kittiwake: 754 flew west past Selsey Bill on on Jan 1

Sandwich Tern: None were seen in Chichester Harbour from Dec 16 to 30 when 2 were off Black Point and probably the same 2 were off Selsey Bill on Jan 1 (when one was seen in Poole Harbour)

Auks: 2125 flew west past Selsey Bill on Jan 1. On Dec 31 Portland reported Razorbills going west at the rate of 6000 and hour and that day Durlston had more than 300 Guillemots on its cliff ledges. On Dec 26 a single Little Auk was in Torbay (Devon) and on Jan 1 there were two separate reports of a single Puffin flying west at Selsey

Tawny Owl: One was heard and seen in a Havant Netherfield Close garden (south of Emsworth Road and west of Wade Court Road)

Great Spotted Woodpecker: The first report of drumming came from the Hook (Warsash) area on Dec 14 and since then drumming has been heard at the Blashford Lakes, in the Hove area of Brighton and at Salehurst by the River Rother north of Hastings

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Two Hampshire sightings of this rarity - one in the Aldershot area on Dec 26 and another with a Tit flock near Lymington on Dec 28

Wood Lark: On Dec 26 a flock of 8 were feeding in a ploughed field near Apuldram church close to Fishbourne Channel

Grey Wagtail: One appears to be semi-resident in the Lymbourne Stream passing Wade Court here in Havant and seems to find sufficient food there but a less lucky bird turned up in a north Emsworth garden on Christmas Day looking sick and starving - it stayed for three days being feed with meal worms and was restored to health by Dec 28

Waxwing: While waiting for a bus at a New Road bus-stop across the road from Havant College on Dec 25 Jason Crook found up to 74 Waxwings feeding from a berry tree overhanging the bus shelter and these birds remained in that area for five days. Another flock spent some time by the Southampton Road where it passes Paulsgrove Lake (Port Solent access channel) and yet another appeared in the Waterlooville Waitrose carpark on Dec 30 and was still there on Jan 1. Hayling Island West Town (which had already had one visit from Waxwings between Dec 17 and 23) had another visit on Dec 27

Dipper: Dorset had one in the Cattistock area (north west of Dorchester) on Dec 26

Raven: The night roost in the Cerne Abbas area of Dorset increased from 102 birds on Dec 5 to 147 on Dec 31. Among sightings this week were two over Kingley Vale (north of Chichester) on Dec 27

Tree Sparrow: One was seen with Yellowhammers at Sidlesham (Pagham Harbour) on Dec 29

Snow Bunting: A pair have been seen by the seawall path from Prinsted to Nutbourne on Dec 31 and Jan 1 but the reports give no clue as to where to expect them.

Escapees: On Dec 24 a singing Budgie was seen and heard by the path from Freshwater to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and on Dec 30 the Golden Eagle which has been seen in the Ashburnham Place area near Hastings very occasionally for a year or more was spotted again

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

The only report this week was of Winter Moths being attracted to the lit windows of the Portland Observatory on Dec 29

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The frost and snow left little flowering - on Jan 1 I only noticed Common Gorse and Red Dead Nettle looking fresh plus some Daisies looking wilted

OTHER WILDLIFE

SEAL: Two reports both presumably of Common Seals but not stated. One was in the mouth of the Cuckmere Haven channel near Beachy Head on both Dec 30 and 31 permitting people to approach within 5 yards. The other report was of two Seals in Stoke Bay (the windsurfers launch place immediately south of the Hayling Oysterbeds) on New Year's Day

BROWN HARE: Two were seen above Whale Chine (north west of St Catherines Point, IoW) on Dec 31

FUNGI: Just one report this week of Velvet Shank seen on Dec 27 on a tree trunk leaning over (and at high tides submerged in) the Langbrook Stream where Langstone Mill Lane meets the South Moors (a yard or so downstream from the footbridge).


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 20 - 26 (Week 51 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: A wave of passage birds brought more than 500 west past Dungeness on Dec 19 and another 229 followed them east past Swalecliffe (north Kent coast) on Dec 20 when 65 divers (probably all Red-throated) went west past Worthing

Black-throated Diver: 92 went west along the north coast of France on Dec 20 with more than 40 in the same area on Dec 21

Pacific Diver: One which had been seen off Cornwall (Penzance/Marazion area) since Dec 2 was still present on Dec 23 by which time its id had been confirmed

Great Crested Grebe: The flock on the sea off Brownwich (near Titchfield Haven) numbered 158 on Dec 24. The flock in Torbay (Devon) numbered 181 on Dec 20 and that off the Netherlands was up to 2508 on Dec 20

Red-necked Grebe: One was off Pagham Harbour on Dec 19 and then off Selsey Bill on Dec 21

Black-necked Grebe: On Dec 18 there were 23 in Studland Bay (Dorset), and on Dec 20 there were 26 at Falmouth in Cornwall and 14 at Torbay in Devon

Bittern: 21 reports during the week including more than 5 around Marazion (Cornwall) on Dec 21. Peak count was of 11 at the Dungeness RSPB Reserve on Dec 23. Several birds were seen in unexpected places - on Dec 24 a driver along the road from Ford into Arundel was just entering Arundel when a Bittern flew over the roadside hedge, chased by Crows, and landed in the road in bright sunshine, bringing a couple of cars to an abrupt halt. After giving close up views to the drivers the Bittern flew back down the hedgerow. On Dec 21 another Bittern landed on open ground at Hook Links (Warsash), pointed its bill to the sky, then flew a short distance to land again in the open. Another bird was seen on Dec 21 in the New Forest where it landed in wet heather under trees in the Kings Hat woodland near Hythe. On Dec 19 Dungeness reported a new arrival (presumably from the continent).

Mute Swan: On Dec 20 there were 114 birds in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester

Bewicks Swan: By Dec 22 the herd at Slimbridge numbered 268 and on Dec 23 there were more than 100 night roosting at Dungeness (presumably grazing by day on the Romney Marshes).

White-front Goose: The number at Slimbridge shot up to 535 on Dec 22 when 150 flew over Dungeness, 52 were at Amberley Wild Brooks, 40 were at the Henfield Levels on the Adur, 40 were at Lymington and 60 were at Reculver in North Kent. The peak count in the Netherlands was 13,004 on Dec 20 (when around 300 were seen in Thanet)

Barnacle Geese: Numbers of these were also high during the week with a peak at one Netherlands site of 25,065 on Dec 20 and 300 in Kent (Thanet) on Dec 21. 9 or 10 were in the Pagham North Walls area on Dec 23 and 24 with 42 getting as far west as Poole Harbour

Pale-Bellied Brent: Another unexpected observation was of 84 in the Netherlands on Dec 21 after 45 had been seen there on Dec 20

Pintail: 110 were in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Dec 23

Red-crested Pochard: A group of three seen on the IBM Lake at Cosham (Portsmouth) on Dec 20 were new additions to the site species list according to Tim Doran

Scaup: As well as a count of 16 at Abbotsbury in Dorset there was a less expected report of 11 going east past Worthing on Dec 24 and singles that day at Forton Lake (Gosport) and Fareham Creek

Velvet Scoter: Around 15 were off Shoreham Harbour on Dec 24

Goldeneye: An impressive flock of 65 were in the west of Poole Harbour near Arne on Dec 21 (when 14 were at the Blashford Lakes and 4 in Christchurch Harbour)

Smew: These are still to be seen in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent with one at Bembridge (Isle of Wight) on Dec 19 and one at the Chichester Lakes on Dec 22 (when Dungeness had 4)

Ruddy Duck: One was reported in Devon on Dec 22 and 23

Black Kite: One was seen over Romsey on Dec 23 (no other reports so far)

Marsh Harrier: Reports this week were of a record roost count of 43 in the Kent Stour Valley on Dec 19 and of at least two sightings over Thorney Island where Barry Collins reported seeing seven different raptor species on Dec 24 (Hen and Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Merlin. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard )

Great Bustard: One of the wing tagged birds from the Salisbury Plain introduced flock was seen at The Fleet in Dorset on Dec 23 and briefly at Portland (before flying on southwest) on Dec 24.

Med Gull: One seen at Stokes Bay on Dec 23 had a nearly complete black head

Barn Owl: One was in the Sinah Lake area of south Hayling on Dec 23

Kingfisher: On Dec 19 one was seen to catch a fish in the Hermitage Stream where it flows through the Stockheath area of Leigh Park in Havant. The Green Sandpiper which regularly winters there was also seen.

Waxwing: Hampshire sightings this week have been at Fleet (97), Gosport (77), Chandlers Ford (71), Aldershot (70), Petersfield (66), Hedge End at Southampton (48), Alton (40), New Milton (35), Whiteley at Fareham (29), Northington Down near Alresford (20), Hayling West Town (11), Four Marks near Alton (4), and Farlington Avenue on Portsdown had 2. Dorset had a max of 70 at Canford Heath, Sussex had 60 at Eastbourne and Kent had 291+ in Thanet while the Isle of Wight had 41 at Cowes and Devon had 30 in Exeter

Ring Ouzel: Last week's Summary mentioned a probable Ring Ouzel in a garden at Bordon in East Hampshire - this has turned out to be a partly leucistic Blackbird but the Cornwall Birding news includes a Ring Ouzel male at Porthgwarra on Dec 17

Fieldfare: On Dec 23 Brian Fellows found some 200 in the fields between the Prinsted to Nutbourne seawall and the orchards and on Dec 24 there were more than 1000 at the Arundel Wetlands Reserve. Titchfield Haven had 200 and Newlands Farm south of Fareham had 139

Magpie: On Dec 21 a baby Magpie had fallen out of its nest before it could fly - at Marchwood on Southampton Water

Raven: On Dec 20 the presence of two Ravens on the shore of Prinsted Bay (just east of Thorney Island) was reported - quite likely in view of other sightings in that general area but no repeat sightings so far.

Corn Bunting: Sandwich Bay had 210 (new in from the continent?) on Dec 21 and 150 were seen at Cuckoos Corner (River Adur not far north of A27) Dec 24

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Nothing to report

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Nothing to report

OTHER WILDLIFE

Nothing to report


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 13 - 19 (Week 50 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Bewicks Swan: The number at Slimbridge, which had reached a total of 198 last week, increased to 231 on Dec 18 and we now also have birds settled in the Arun valley - on Dec 12 there were 18 in the Amberley Wild Brooks area just south of Pulborough and on Dec 14 there were 14 birds at the other regular site (Burpham) just north of the Arundel Wetland centre

Bean Geese: A Netherlands site recorded the arrival of 16,091 of these on Dec 18 and other indications of a new wave of geese arriving in the Low Countries this week are reports on the Trektellen Remarkable page of 27680 Whitefronts on Dec 17 and 15,684 Barnacles on Dec 18 with 266 Egyptian Geese (probably residents and not migrants) seen that day

Brant: One was off the south of Thorney Island with 900 Brent on Dec 15 - this seems to be the first seen in Chichester Harbour this winter though there have been at least two during November in the Pagham and Climping areas to the east and of course up to 4 in the Weymouth/Fleet area of Dorset since two arrived on Oct 8. The only Brant I am aware of in Hampshire this winter was one in the Lymington area on Nov 13

Gadwall: Numbers continue to increase with new site records being set at Little Sea in the Studland area of Dorset (202 on Dec 14 broke the previous record but the count increased again to 219 the next day) and, less dramatically, counts in the Emsworth Harbour area were 10 on Dec 13, 24 on Dec 14 and 38 on Dec 16 (more than Brian Fellows has ever seen there in past years). Elsewhere in Chichester Harbour more than 50 were in the Fishbourne Channel on Dec 9 and Brian Fellows has heard from Ed Rowsell (co-ordinator of the WeBS counts for Chichester Habour) of two recent counts of around 50 Gadwall at Bosham and Thorney Deeps in the harbour (not sure if these are separate flocks counted on the same day or the same birds seen in different places on different days). John Chapman has recently had 5 Gadwall on Langstone Mill Pond - the first he has ever seen there. The Chichester Lakes have always attracted good numbers of Gadwall in the winter but a count on Dec 6 of 340+ on just Runcton Lake (perhaps only half the total number there) was very impressive when contrasted with the peak WeBS counts for all the Chichester Lakes in the previous two winters (186 in Jan 2008 and just 110 for Dec 2009)

Tufted Duck: The cold weather is also bringing more than usual of these to the south coast and on Dec 14 Brian Fellows counted 57 Tufted Duck on the Emsworth Town Millpond, setting a new record for that site

Goldeneye: On Dec 11 male Goldeneye were making their spring display in both Chichester and Christchurch Harbours

Smew: This week Smew were reported at Stockers Lake (a Herts & Middlesex nature reserve in the Colne Valley near Rickmansworth - not the area of the same name in Chichester Harbour), at Longham Lakes in Bournemouth and Abbotsbury in Dorset, at the Blashford Lakes and Southampton Water in Hampshire, and at the Arundel wetlands centre and Rye Castle in Sussex, plus the Dungeness RSPB site and the Sevenoaks (Kent Wildlife Trust) reserve. Over in the Netherlands one site had a flock of 44 and as early as Dec 4 Lee Evans was already telling us of around 50 in Britain

Ruddy Duck: At least one was seen in Kent this week

White-tailed Sea Eagle: The bird, which turned up at Amberley Wild Brooks on Dec 11 last week then flew west on Dec 12 but left a cold trail after it passed over Titchfield Haven, has not been re-located but subsequent discussion has revealed that I am not alone in thinking it very unlikely that a bird which had (unless it were a local escape) crossed either the English Channel or the North Sea to get to southern England would be put off the crossing of Southampton Water (especially as the species gets its food from the sea and must be prepared to deal with its changing moods). I presume that those who put forward that argument did so by analogy to the many migrating raptors which make long detours to cross the Mediterranean at its narrowest (straits of Gibraltar) and wait on the Spanish side until the thermals are strong enough to carry them across the water. Although we have not heard of this bird since Dec 12 I see that a different bird arrived in the Netherlands on Dec 18 and could be heading our way.

Sparrowhawk: The new SOS Newsletter which arrived this week has an interesting tale of how a lady (with no special interest in birds) living in a busy urban street in central Brighton had watched a Sparrowhawk build a nest and raise a family in tree growing from the pavement outside her house but was at first disbelieved when she told a birder living nearby of the nest. The story seems to have several messages for us - the first being that there is nowadays more prey to be found by a Sparrowhawk in a town than in the countryside (making town the best place to nest to find food for the young available with minimal 'air miles'), the second is that nesting birds of all species are good at coming and going to and from their nests without revealing the presence of the nest to casual viewers, and the third is that (a) you don't have to be a dedicated birder to see interesting birds if you keep your eyes open, (b) unpre-judiced non birders do not always talk rubbish about what they have seen. Taking the last point a bit further the 'half educated' birder can often talk a lot of nonsense (I remember back in the days when Little Egrets were a novelty here being asked by a passer-by what I was looking at and when I said it was a Little Egret he gave the bird a glance and said "I've lived in India all my life and I know that's a Great White Egret" before marching off in a military manner!)

Red Grouse: I had to add a new species to my bird database this week when checking through the Devon Bird News and coming across a report of two Red Grouse being seen on Dartmoor on Dec 12. The BTO Bird Facts maps show that Devon is the only county in southern England where this species does occur, albeit in small and declining numbers

Water Rail: A birder in Kent was sitting in the comfort of his home on Dec 16 when he saw a Water Rail and reports his sighting with the comment that he would have preferred not to have seen the bird as it was being carried home as a trophy in the mouth of a local cat

Avocet: The count at Farlington Marshes (which was 34 on Nov 27) was back to its Oct 23 level of 17 birds on Dec 11 when Derek Hale looked in on his way back to the Isle of Wight. Dec 12 brought news of a single Avocet at Mill Rythe on the east side of Hayling Island where I have not heard of the species being seen before

Knot: An increase in numbers being seen along the south coast recently suggested to me that we were seeing birds being driven by the cold weather from more exposed sites on the east coast of England where large flocks winter though a comment on the Portland website (where Knot are a relative rarity) made me aware that many of these birds only use England as a staging post on a journey taking them much further south so I suppose it is possible that the birds we have been seeing are late passage birds. Looking at the bird news from Seasalter on the north Kent coast for Dec 17 and 18 I see that around 5,000 Knot could be found feeding there when the tide was out but that their feeding area was much reduced as the first 200 metres out from the shore was covered with ice - this may well encourage them to fly south!

Purple Sandpiper: 8 were seen at Southsea Castle on Dec 13 but there is no guarantee that anyone going there will see them - even if they are present they can be very difficult to spot even when they are in your field of vision as their camouflage can make them virtually invisible when they remain motionless and they are often in places where they are hidden from the view of a watcher on the promenade above the sloping seawall and rocks below. On top of that the birds are not restricted to the area around the castle - when not feeding they may be roosting under the nearby pier or may have flown some distance along the seafront to feed in places more suited to the current state of the tide - I think they sometimes fly out to the Spithead forts.

Woodcock: Continental birds have been arriving on our south coast for more than two months (they were seen as early as Oct 13 in the Scillies, at Portland and at the south Foreland in Kent) but what I assume was a new arrival was seen at the Sinah Gravel Pit lake (south Hayling) on Dec 18

Whimbrel: One or two regularly spend the winter near Wickor Point on the west shore of Thorney Island but on Dec 15 this year three were seen there (another has been seen several times during the past week on Eling Great Marsh at the head of Southampton Water and there is probably still one in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour - last reported on Dec 9)

Green Sandpiper: Of local interest I came across one on Dec 13 in the Langbrook Stream just a few yards south of where the approach road to the Langstone Technology Park crosses it. I see that another was seen in the Meon valley cressbeds at Warnford on Dec 17

Sandwich Tern: Three were still in the Mill Rythe area of Hayling near the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Dec 12 and two of them were seen from Sandy Point on Dec 13. On Dec 16 one was still off the Thanet area of Kent but the surprising report was of 28 being seen off the French coast on Dec 18 (There was also a sighting of a Common Tern from Jersey on Dec 12)

Little Owl: One was seen on Dec 17 in a place near the Hayling Oysterbeds where they have been present in recent years - at SU 717035 just inside the field gate on the east side of the Hayling Coastal Path opposite the gate on the west side giving access to the field north of the Oysterbeds lagoon. The owl was seen in a favourite spot on the pile of telegraph poles lying on the ground on open ground just inside the gate and between it and the trees of Stoke Common. If you want to see the owl go there at dusk and approach with caution as neither you nor the owl will have any cover as you pass by on the Coastal Path. The most recent previous report was from Jason Crook on Aug 5 this year - at that time he said the bird could be seen there 'regularly' - and last year I see there were reports of the bird being seen or heard in that area on Jan 27, Jan 30, Mar 16, June 8 and then in August

Kingfisher: On Dec 17 there was another sighting of the Langbrook stream bird close to the Langstone West Mill (where Mill Lane meets the stream) where I saw on on Dec 2, and I also heard an informal report this week of the first sighting of one where the Lymbourne Stream emerges from Langstone Mill Pond between the Old Mill and the Royal Oak pub (no exact date and no further sightings to confirm that a bird has settled there for the winter). There has also been a further sighting in Emsworth Harbour on Dec 18

Hoopoe: The bird which has been at Longham (north of Bournemouth) since Nov 25 was still there on Dec 12 (and as a quid pro quo I see that a Wryneck was still in Portugal on Dec 12)

Great Spotted Woodpecker: First report of drumming comes from the Hook/Warsash area on Dec 14

Skylark: Reports of large numbers flying west came from the Netherlands (3535 on Dec 17) and from Hampshire, Dorset and Devon sites on Dec 18 - largest count was an estimated 11,250 over the Axe valley in Devon but several other sites reported numbers in the region of 300 birds. Several Woodlarks were also involved in this movement, including 6 in the Ranvilles Lane area south of Fareham

Yellow Wagtail: Although I have not seen an exact identification of the 'eastern race Yellow Wagtail' at the Colyton sewage works in Devon I understand that it has been caught and is definitely a Yellow Wagtail

Pied Wagtail: First report of a local night roost comes from Peter Raby who found 180 in trees at the Waterlooville shopping centre on Dec 17

Waxwing: These have been seen in varying numbers all across the south of England this week. Biggest count was of more than 1400 in the Thanet area of Kent on Dec 15 (I spent some time trying to locate the site described as 'between Richborough and Stonelees' but could not locate a place called Stonelees on the map - it turns out to be a modern 'American style' Golf Course in the Ramsgate area). This figure of 1400+ was an estimate of the birds in the area but it did include a single flock estimated as 800 birds which made the new Kent record set by B&Q in Folkestone (a flock of 246 on Dec 11) look rather tame.

Quite a few of the reports were typified by one of a birder sitting down to breakfast and seeing a dozen birds on trees a the end of his garden which stayed for no more than 3 minutes but we have had two local reports - one of 13 birds near the Hayling Island Community Centre and another of 10 birds briefly in the Rowan Road area of Denvilles in Havant. Another local sighting was of 19 birds in the carpark behind the Iceland store in Cosham High Street on Dec 17 - these seen by Mark Cutts after Heather Rowe had seen just one in Cosham the previous day. Mark includes in his Three Amigos report a photo he took of a Waxwing in 2008 showing the bird tossing the berry it is about to swallow up in the air so that the stalk still attached to the berry goes down its throat last and does not scratch its throat (same principle as a Kingfisher swallowing a Stickleback head first). Another observation mentioned in at least two reports is of what appears to be 'courtship feeding' (males trying to seduce females by offering them the tastiest berries). Perhaps the best place to see Waxwings in Hampshire has been Romsey where Dec 17 brought 114 birds to Rimington Gardens. Hythe, with 55 birds on one day only, was perhaps the runner up while the Fair Isle School in Lordswood, Southampton, came third with 43 on Dec 12

Wren: On Dec 18 a birder in the Herstmonceux area (Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne) came home to find 6 Wrens sheletering in his house porch but that was outdone by a birder in Devon who watched 34 Wrens cram into an old House Martin nest on his house, then saw another 15 that would not fit in go into another House Martin nest on his neighbours house

Black Redstart: Local sightings this week, in addition to two in the Sandy Point area of Hayling, have been of one at Southsea Castle and another in a garden at 'The Ridings' in the Hilsea area of Portsmouth

Ring Ouzel: A wintering male was at Sennen Cove in Cornwall on Dec 12 but of more local interest is news of one said to be in a private garden at Bordon in East Hampshire on Dec 17 (more of this anon if it stays and the owner of the garden is willing to admit twitchers!)

Black-throated Thrush: One is reported to have been seen in the Old Basing area of Basingstoke on Dec 13 but I understand it flew west and has not been re-found

Lesser Whitethroat: A more credible report as it is backed up with a photo is of a Lesser Whitethroat in a Ramsgate garden on Dec 12 (I am also intrigued by news of a Dartford Warbler spending the winter in an Evesham orchard)

Brambling: Single birds have been seen in two separate Emsworth gardens this week and 40 were seen in the QE Country Park at Petersfield on Dec 17 but the biggest flock is among 1000+ finches visiting Sunflowers planted at the RSPB Powderham Marshes reserve near Exminster on the Exe estuary. The count of Bramblings there was 500+ on Dec 14 and 700+ on Dec 12

Bullfinch: More than usual of these birds have been reported this winter and on Dec 16 a flock of 20 were feeding on Ash keys at Hoads Common (north west of Pulborough). On Dec 18 a more normal group of 4 were together in Stansted Forest.

Snow Bunting: Also appearing in greater than usual numbers are Snow Buntings with 11 at Reculver in north Kent on Dec 14, then a flock of 28 flew south towards Pagham Harbour from Chichester on Dec 18, while Lee Evans reports a flock of 90 at Walberswick in Suffolk on Dec 12

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Unsurprisingly no live butterflies were seen this week but the TV programme about the British obsession with them shown on Dec 17 was well worth seeing and you can still enjoy it on the BBC Iplayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00wwbm4/Natural_World_20102011_Butterflies_A_Very_British_Obsession/

A few moths were seen during the week - Tony Wilson had a female (wingless) Winter Moth on the outside wall of his Edburton house below the Sussex Downs on Dec 17; a Scarce Umber was trapped in Rye town on Dec 15; and a Large Yellow Underwing was taken at Portland on Dec 12

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Nothing of singnificance to report

OTHER WILDLIFE

White-beaked Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris): On Dec 17 one was seen off the north coast of France and reported on the Trektellen 'Remarkable' page among the unusual bird sightings. I have not come across this species before but I understand that is because it does not often appear in the English Channel although it is common in the North Atlantic where it prefers cooler northern waters - perhaps its appearance here at this time is a reflection of the cold air (and presumably water) that has moved further south this winter. For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-beaked_dolphin or http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/whitebeakeddolphin.htm (which has a distribution map and tells us that this creature is often called a 'Squidhound')

Mole: On Dec 16 Brian Fellows counted 404 fresh Molehills at the Brook Meadow reserve in Emsworth where he has found as many as 1000 in the past (Feb 2005). Brian wonders why the lines of the Molehills tend to follow the lines of the footpaths across the ground and while I cannot answer this I suspect it may have something to do with the effect of human footsteps on the worms which the Moles are hoping will fall through the walls of their tunnels. We know that the vibrations caused by raindrops attract worms to the surface (and that gulls 'paddle' on the ground to simulate these vibrations and bring up the worms). Against this theory I realise that the earth under trodden paths will have been compacted by the weight of the walkers and so more difficult for the Moles to dig through ....


Wildlife diary and news for Dec 6 - 12 (Week 49 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

Latest excitements: This week's interest comes courtesy of the Waxwings which have at last hit the south coast in force (more detail below), and the icing on the cake is the arrival of the White-tailed Sea Eagle that I had in mind when we had the unsolved mystery of the cat-eating Osprey. A personal bonus in this Sunday's bright morning sunshine was the repetitive singing of a Dunnock in affirmation that 'there are good times just around the corner'

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: All three common species can now be found along our south coast, especially in the west country (where 30+ Black-throated were off Mevagissey on Dec 7) but the only exceptional report this week is of 1099 mixed divers off a Netherlands site on Dec 5. Also on Dec 5 Dungeness reported seeing a Great Northern hooked by sea anglers (presumably unintentionally), hauled ashore and beheaded before its flesh was stripped for use as fish bait.

Grebes: Ice has covered most inland waters this week and the grebes which spend their time in or under the water (unlike wildfowl which are happy standing on the ice when they need refuge in the open from predators and which can often get their food from fields or small areas of open water) have flown to the open sea. Visits to Budds Farm pools this week found no Little Grebes at all and the flock of Great Crested seen from Dungeness on Dec 11 numbered in excess of 800 while just one of four Netherlands sites with 'remarkable' numbers on Dec 5 reported 6766 Great Crested. No reports of Red-necked in the mouth of Chichester Harbour this week (two were in Portland Harbour). At least four Slavonian were in the west Solent and two seen around the mouth of Southampton Water were probably in addition as was at least one in Chichester Harbour. The only reported Black-necked in Hampshire this week were just two in Southampton Water plus one off Lymington whereas Dorset had a peak count of 65 in the Studland area on Dec 6 plus up to 12 in Portland Harbour. I see that a flock of 51 Great Crested in Portland Harbour on Dec 11 included two displaying pairs

Bittern: One was briefly at Sandy Point on Hayling on Dec 6 and one was at Ivy Lake in Chichester on Dec 9 with more usual locations being Titchfield Haven, Poole Harbour and Radipole at Weymouth plus Rye Harbour and Dungeness

Little Egret: One was found dead on the north Kent shore on Dec 10 and I suspect it will not be the last if the cold returns and is prolonged. I have no idea how many have or will fly south to warmer countries to survive the winter but there are noticeably fewer along the shores at present and those which have flown inland for shelter from the winds will be unable to survive there if the ground and water freeze, making it impossible to feed on frogs, worms, beetles and other small insects

Glossy Ibis: At the end of this week at least three are still in southern England (Exminster in Devon, the River Dun near Hungerford in Berkshire, and Dunraven Bay in Glamorgan). Peter Hutchins tells us that the Berkshire bird is the first for that county since 1793 when one at the current site was the first ever for Britain.

Bewick's Swan: The count at Slimbridge was up to 198 on Dec 9 (when 10 were at Burpham on the R Arun near Arundel and may form the nucleus of a flock staying there through the winter). Slimbridge reports Bewicks have had a good breeding season and that White-fronted Geese have shared this success, bringing 34% juveniles with them (and we have a local report of Brent having up to 17% of young with them)

Red-breasted Goose: The unringed bird at Topsham on the Exe estuary (where an apparently wild bird spent last winter before moving through several staging posts, including Chichester Harbour, on its return migration to Siberia) was joined by a second, ringed, bird on Dec 11

Shelduck: On Dec 2 a site in France reported 3024 Shelduck and Sandy Point on Hayling reported 118 flying north into Chichester Harbour that day and on Dec 3 I estimated that around 100 were in sight as I walked over Langstone bridge to Hayling. I took that date as marking the start of the winter season for this species in the local harbours

Gadwall: The number of these has also increased locally this week - before this winter Gadwall were more or less unknown on south Hayling but several reports started to come in during November and on Dec 3 Sinah gravel pit lake had a flock of 25 (maybe only flying over) but by Dec 6 a small resident flock at the Fishery Lake site had increased to 9 birds (and the Chichester lakes had well over 340 with 50+ more on the nearby Fishbourne Channel) while the Budds Farm pools in Havant had at least 32 on Dec 11

Pintail: This week has at last brought some of these to the local area - 8 were off the Emsworth west shore on Dec 10 for the first time this winter and at least that number were in Nutbourne Bay to the east of Thorney Island

Goldeneye: At least one male was already displaying at Christchurch Harbour on Dec 11

Smew: Two were seen from Sandy Point (Hayling) on Dec 3, one was in the Bembridge area (IoW) on Dec 4 when 2 were seen at Christchurch Harbour, and one was at Runcton Lake in Chichester on Dec 6. On Dec 8 two were at the Longham Lakes on the northern fringe of Bournemouth and Titchfield Haven had one on Dec 9 inceasing to two on Dec 10. Arundel had its first on Dec 11 (when a flock of 44 reached a Netherlands site) and on Dec 12 one was at Ellingham by the River Avon at Ringwood

Goosander: Several sites have reported flocks of 20 or more and on Dec 10 there were 100 at the Blashford Lakes

Ruddy Duck: Three sites in Dorset and Kent have reported one or two passing birds this week - some are still alive.

White-tailed Sea Eagle: One arrived at the Amberley Wild Brooks site south of Pulborough on Dec 11 and was still there on Dec 12 but could only be viewed from the Rackham Woods or near the Sportsman pub on the east side of the marshes. It remained at Amberley until noon when it flew down the Arun valley to the Arundel Wetlands centre where it turned west along the coast, passing over Hayling Island at 13:30, then Titchfield Haven at 14:00 where the trail currently runs cold though there is speculation that a bird of prey of this size would be reluctant to attempt the crossing of Southampton Water without the aid of thermals so it may have flown up the east side of Southampton Water and followed the River Test to Andover and the Cholderton area where the 2007 bird ended up. At a guess this is the same bird that was first seen in Germany on Dec 1 and which will probably spend the winter with us leaving in March as the young Finnish bird did in 2008 after arriving in the Andover area on Nov 26 2007. It seems that the current bird is probably the tenth juvenile to come to England since 1982

Avocet: I saw 7 at Nutbourne Bay (west of Thorney Island) on Dec 7 and Anne de Potier found 10 there on Dec 10

Long-billed Dowitcher: The bird which arrived at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Nov 8, spent Nov 9 to 15 in Devon, then returned to Lodmoor on Nov 16, was last seen there on Dec 6 but turned up again in The Fleet near Weymouth on Dec 8 and was still there on Dec 9

Common Sandpiper: The Brockhampton stream/Broadmarsh bird was seen on the Broadmarsh shore of Langstone Harbour on Dec 7 and across the water on the Budds Farm shore at high tide on Dec 11

Ring-billed Gull: The regular Gosport bird was seen at the 'Cockle Pond' in Walpole Park on Dec 9

Sandwich Tern: The Chichester/Langstone Harbour wintering birds have not been reported since Dec 2 but two newcomers were seen at Titchfield Haven on Dec 5

Turtle Dove: The wintering bird in a Cornish garden was seen again at Goonhavern - south of Newquay - on Dec 4 (same place as its first sighting on Nov 27)

Hoopoe: The wintering bird at Longham (northern fringe of Bournemouth) was still there on Dec 11

Yellow Wagtail: A bird currently at the Colyford WTW (= Water Treatment or Sewage Works) on the river Axe on the extreme southeast shore of Devon is thought to be an off course Eastern Race Yellow Wagtail but it refuses to utter a call to settle the question of its true id

Waxwing: The general invasion of central southern England by these birds seems to have started on Dec 8 when 5 arrived in Poole and 3 in Christchurch plus 6 in Lewes. Petersfield had around 24 on Dec 9 when 6 reached Exeter and 2 were in Truro with another 2 as far west on the Cornish coast as Hayle but the hot spot for them that day was Folkestone with a count of 207 - another 10 were in the Ashdown Forest and the number at Lewes was up to 16. On Dec 10 one was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling and on Dec 11 B&Q at Folkestone acheived 246, Pett Level on Rye Bay had 60 with another 45 at nearby Westfield. Chichester now had 16 on its eastern side (Charles Avenue not far west of the traffic lights on the eastern bypass), Bexhill had 10 and Lindfield (Haywards Heath) had 20, Shoreham had at least 1 and the number in Petersfield was up to 55. Still on Dec 11 the focus began to move west with 35 in the Lordswood area of Southampton, 35+ near Ventnor on the IoW and 10 in Dorchester not forgetting 4 in Basingstoke which re-appeared in Eastrop Park after hiding for a day or so. Dec 12 found 43 at Lordswood and 26 in Petersfield plus 9 in Romsey. No doubt more sightings will be made in the coming week or so and we could still have the birds with us for Christmas if we swap the Christmas tree lights for some tasty and clourful fruit. (After writing this I see that Lee Evans estimates that at least 4000 Waxwings are currently in southern Enland)

Dunnock: One sang its brief but full song to me from a Langstone garden on Dec 9 and another sang several times in and around my own garden in the sunshine of the morning of Dec 12 - I expect all the local Dunnocks will be singing before Christmas if the weather is not atrocious.

Fieldfare: These began to be seen locally at the start of December and at least 20 were in the Nutbourne orchards with Redwings on Dec 7

Bearded Tit: These were still making long distance flights on Dec 4 when a group of 9 flew off south west from Bembridge Ponds on the IoW. More than 7 were still in residence at the Thorney Island Little Deeps on Dec 9

Chough: The single bird that has been seen near the Needles on the IoW since Nov 30 was still there on Dec 4

Carrion Crow: All Crow species are known for their intelligence and the caching of food in response to bad weather is described in a book which I have but it was interesting to have a first hand observation of it from a Denvilles garden here in Havant this week. The bird was seen on two separate occasions to pick up a white object (which turned out to be a piece of bread) and to carry it to a chosen spot on the leaf strewn lawn, place the bread on the ground and then deliberately pick up at least three large leaves which were laid over the top of the bread to hide it.

Raven: On Nov 28 I reported a night roost of at least 40 Ravens in the Cerne Abbas area of Dorset and on Dec 5 this roost had 102 birds (all Ravens)

Starling: An impressive nigh roost assembly can currently be seen in the Lymington Marshes area - one estimate is that 15,000 Starlings use it

House Sparrow: A few are begining to come to my garden in expectation of regular bread and seed each morning (though most of the food is taken by Woodpigeons). I see that one garden in Westbourne (north of Emsworth) had a record feeding flock of 17 Sparrows this week - I still haven't seen more that three or four this winter though we used to get a dozen or so last winter.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Small Tortoiseshell: One pristine specimen appeared on my TV this week while I was watching the Snooker championship - maybe you too saw it!

Peacock: A similar but less widely watched emergence was of a Peacock in a house in the Folkestone area on Dec 10. Both were probably hibernating insects roused from their slumbers by central heating (a lot of butterflies die each winter when the heating is turned on in a spare room in anticipation of a visitor coming for Christmas)

Moths

Just two people reported their moth finds this week and I list them in full.

At Edburton on the north side of the Sussex Downs Tony Wilson had 6 December Moths, 12 Winter Moths, 2 Scarce Umber, 2 Mottled Umber, a Sprawler and a Satellite

The Planet Thanet website also reported the emergence of a micro moth called Psychoides filicivora bred from a larva taken in late October from the sporangia of a Harts Tongue Fern - not somewhere that I would expect to find a moth laying its eggs but if you visit http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=5183 you will see that the end product is very attractive

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Among the plants which I found in flower this week were Yellow Corydalis, Charlock, Sweet Violet, Yellow Oxalis, Spotted Medick, Greater Periwinkle, Common Field Speedwell, White Deadnettle, Sticky Groundsel, Guernsey Fleabane and Winter Heliotrope. A surprise (not in flower) was a large plant of Thorn Apple still bearing its prickly seed cases at Havant rail station.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Stoat: The Stoat is a killer which never seems to miss its victim but bored birders sitting in a hide near the Sandwich Bay bird observatory on Dec 1 were treated to a moment of high excitement when a Stoat leapt out of a reed bed onto the narrow shoreline less than 2 feet from where a Robin was feeding on a host of tiny midges hatching from the water - and even at that close range the Robin got away. I assume from the description of the Stoat 'leaping out' that the Stoat was aware of its potential prey (otherwise I would have expected it to push its snout out of the reeds in a 'look before you leap' mode though some Stoat behaviour does not always seem logical to us and they are known to do unexpected things to catch the attention of prey and distract them from the normal reaction of fleeing in response to a threat). Possibly this failure shows that the Stoat was weakened by cold and/or lack of food ....

Water Vole: Another unexpected wildlife observation comes from Ferring Rife in the Worthing area where, on Dec 4, a Water Vole was seen - no account of what it was doing but its presence above ground is a reminder that these animals do not hibernate but sit in their burrows throught the winter months chewing vegetable matter and thinking thoughts .... they must however come out from time to time to replenish their larders.


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 29 - Dec 5 (Week 48 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

Latest excitements: Sat 4 Dec brought two 'twitchable' birds to the local area. First was a Common Crane seen circling over Broadmarsh, then flying west along Portsdown by Jason Crook at 11:15 in the morning. The second was a further sighting on Dec 4 of the Chough which had been first seen on Nov 30 at Alum Bay (near the Needles on the Isle of Wight)

On the morning of Dec 2 two small flocks for Skylarks flew north west low over my house. and while I was walking around Havant for two hours later that morning I heard or saw an almost continuous stream of Skylarks all heading north west low overhead (the total number of birds that I saw was probably only two or three hundred). Back at home I realised that this was a bigger movement than I had thought when I read that Andy Johnson (watching the birds come in at the mouth of Chichester Harbour past Sandy Point) had seen 4650 of them and Tim Lawman, at the Sinah Gravel Pit lake near the entrance to Langstone Harbour, had seen 2050 also going north west with birds of several other species.

I next saw that Jon Stokes had seen what appeared to be the same movement of Skylarks over Portchester on the north shore of Portsmouth Harbour but in his case all the birds were heading south west, suggesting that the birds seen over the Langstone area heading north west had been too exhausted (by lack of food and the channel crossing) to fly up over Portsdown and had been forced into the south west direction by the line of the Hill. Continuing in this direction when exhausted would have taken them to a watery grave in the Atlantic unless the northerly wind carried a few survivors to Spain)

More and more sightings of Skylarks were now coming in - 1800 in the Lymington area, 2000 over Christchurch Harbour, 4,000+ at Weymouth and 2000+ in Devon.

The lesson I learn from all this is that it is foolish to attempt a simple explanation of wildlife behaviour (especially one based on motves that would determine human behaviour in similar circumstances). My first attempt at interpreting this movement was to think that many Skylarks on the continent were sufferering from both cold and hunger (with snow covering seeds on the ground). This had forced them to fly, but why north west rather than just west or southwest where it should be warmer? (The answer to this probably lies with the wind direction) My second assumption was that, having decided that flight was the solution to their problem, they would stick to their decision and keep going until they reached somewhere where the temperature and food supply were acceptable.

In fact this is clearly not what happened - the route was not direct but varied with the contours of the ground and probably with the wind direction, and the number of birds involved varied as some decided they had had enough of flying and were going to stop off and take their chance of surviving at many places along the route while others joined the movement causing the total numbers seen at different places to vary greatly (and in any case we are almost certainly not thinking of a single huge flock all moving together but of many individual birds and small flocks all making their own way in roughly the same direction.

=============

Today in Havant: After the continuous frost of the past week the sunshine and above freezing temperature this morning made it feel as if spring had started and this feeling seemed to have spread to the birds as Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Song Thrush, Robin and Goldfinch were all heard singing. The birds soon brought me back to reality when I took a short walk after lunch and found my first Redwings of the winter in the Havant Cemetery along with a couple of Mistle Thrushes (Fieldfares have also been seen by others in both Havant and Emsworth over the past few days)

Hopes that the cold spell was over and the first glimpse of Snowdrop spikes pushing up above ground encouraged me to note the flowers that were flourishing (Greater Periwinkle, Pellitory of the Wall, Chickweed, Shepherd's Purse, Lesser Swine Cress, Daisy, Oxford Ragwort and White Dead Nettle). The same thoughts of fast approaching spring also required me to explain myself to a neighbour who 'caught me bending' to inspect the bottom of the metal fence along the north side of Waterloo Road - this is where a great mass of Common Whitlowgrass plants can already be seen (looking fully ready to send up their flowers within the next few days but not seen flowering this year until Feb 8)

=============

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Locally there were reports of three at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Dec 2, three at Selsey Billl on Nov 28 and three off Christchurch Harbour on Nov 29. Indications of more to come in reports of 871 off one Netherlands site on Nov 28 and 209 passing Flamborough Head on Dec 1

Black-throated Diver: One at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Dec 2 among a total of 14 reports of which none were of more than 3 ( those were near Plymouth on Dec 3)

Great Northern Diver: Just 8 reports including 2 birds off Selsey Bill on Nov 28 and a peak of 10 in St Austell Bay (Cornwall) on Dec 3

Diver species: Nov 28 brought 852 mixed divers to the Netherlands coast and another surge of arrivals saw 1014 off the Netherlands on Dec 3

Pacific Diver: What was probably one of these was off Penzance on Dec 2 (one present last winter was the first ever for Ireland on Jan 30 but had been seen around south west England from Nov 18 onwards)

Great Crested Grebe: The first 1000+ winter flock on the sea was reported on Dec 2 off the Netherlands (count of 1098)

Red-necked Grebe: On Dec 2 two were still in Chichester Harbour off Black Point where one was first seen on Nov 13 and joined by the second on Nov 19

Slavonian Grebe: The only local report this week was of one off Selsey Bill on Nov 28 (when two were still off Lymington)

Black-necked Grebe: No reports from Langstone Harbour and none from Studland/Poole Harbour since 18 were seen on Nov 27 but a flock of 24 has been seen at Feock (in Falmouth 'harbour'/Carrick Roads in Cornwall) on Nov 28 and Dec 3

Cormorant: A count of 3223 at a Netherlands site on Dec 3 was by no means the a record - that was a count of 6716 in the Netherlands on 24 Oct 2004

Little Egret: Although the majority of these seem to have been driven inland by the cold I still found three in the Langstone Bridge area on Dec 3 (and saw one flying over the Wade Court trees at dusk that day, presumably to the Langstone Pond roost)

Great White Egret: Although one Netherlands site had a count of 42 on Dec 1 the only reports from Britain this week are of one at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Nov 29 and one at Pitsford in Northamptonshire on Nov 27 (when one was also seen at Folkestone) The Hatchet Pond bird in the New Forest has not been reported since Nov 26

Glossy Ibis: The group of 20 juveniles which flew from Spain to Devon on Sep 12, subsequently flying to Dungeness as a group before dispersing in Britain, seem to have had enough of our weather and on Nov 29 the last but one was at Radipole (Weymouth) before flying out to sea in the direction of Spain (one was apparently still in Glamorgan but I have not heard of it since Dec 2 and on Dec 4 RBA was still reporting one in Devon and one in Somerset )

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge was up to 140 on Dec 1, rising to 187 on Dec 4. I think most of the new birds have come from the continent, judging by reports of 9 at Rye Harbour on Nov 30, 4 at Blashford Lakes on Dec 1 (when 2 flew over Sandy Point on Hayling ), 2 at Pulborough Brooks on Dec 2, and 10 at Dungeness on Dec 3 (when Christchurch Harbour had its first two on f the winter taking a break on the sea there). On Dec 5 a group of 11 (including 6 adults) were at the Blashford lakes.

Whooper Swan: No news of any back in the Chichester area yet (last year two arived on Nov 15) but Dec 2 saw 13 fly east over Abbotsbury in Dorset and 10 fly in off the sea (heading NW) at Climping (near the mouth of the R Arun)

Black Swan: One was on the water of Chichester Harbour at the north end of the Bosham channel on Nov 25, probably having flown a couple of Km from the West Ashling pond where at least one pair breeds each year (hatching their young in December in keeping with their antipodean biological clocks)

Barnacle Goose: A group of six in Langstone Harbour on Dec 2 and 3 were probably genuine winter visitors to this country rather than escapees from the Flamingo Park flock on the Isle of Wight. On Nov 28 a flock of 32 flew past Dungeness and that day 30 were seeen to fly west over the Lymington area. On Dec 2 a flock of 37 went over West Bexington (north of Weymouth)

Black Brant: On Nov 11 one was seen at Pagham Harbour and seems to have remained there until Nov 27 at least despite sightings of a different bird at nearby Climping on Nov 23, 25 and 29. At least three remain in the Weymouth area

Red-breasted Goose: The Exe estuary bird was still there on Nov 23 but it is regarded as an escape and so not regularly reported. A new bird appeared at Dungeness on Dec 2

Shelduck: A walk from Havant to the Hayling Oysterbeds on Dec 3 showed an increase to winter peak levels in the Langstone area with at least 70 visible from the the Ship Inn carpark and another 25+ just west of Langstone Bridge. This increase probably co-incided with the first 1000+ report from Europe (3024 from a French site on Dec 2)

Pochard: A wave of new arrivals was reported on Dec 2 with 35 seen at the mouth of Chichester Harbour and 43 at Christchurch Harbour plus the first 9 on the south Hayling Sinah Gravel Pi

Tufted Duck: An even more pronounced surge of arrivals on Dec 2 with 85 at Sandy Point, 56 at Christchurch Harbour, 38 at the Sinah Gravel Pit

Smew: 15 reports from nine southern English sites stretching from Dungeness to Radipole (Weymouth) and including one on the Longham Lakes (Bournemouth), one on Southampton Water (Redbridge), and two in the Hook/Warsash area on Dec 3 (none so far at Chichester where I don't think they have been seen since 2000)

Goosander: More than ususal seen this winter with 27 reports in the past week including a county record of 160 roosting at the Blashford Lakes on Nov 28 (prev max there was 102 on 31 Dec 2009). An unexpected sighting this week was of two on a tiny pond at Newlands Farm just south of Fareham on Dec 3

Buzzard: Still a fair amount of movement on the continent with counts of up to 54 in Germany on Nov 30, then 91 in Belgium on Dec 1 and 69 there on Dec 2

Rough-legged Buzzard: Some of the continental movement reached us with one flying in off the sea in Thanet (Kent) on Nov 29 (RBA reported a total of 7 in the UK on Nov 30)

Osprey: Still no definite news on last week's two dubious reports of Osprey sightings in Hampshire - I think everyone thinks the report of an Osprey feeding on a dead cat was totally unlikely and another comment on the 'fast flying Osprey seen over Sandy Point on Hayling on Nov 16' backs the theory that it was a strangely coloured Buzzard, supporting this with a recent sighting of such a bird in the Southampton area which was identified as a Buzzard as it had the 'flat wings' of a Buzzard rather than the distinctly 'kinked' or 'gull-winged' look of an Osprey

Coot: I see that Cliff Dean has owned up to his love of Coots by patiently counting 698 of them on the Pett Level pools (Rye Bay) on Nov 28

Common Crane: On Dec 4 Jason Crook watched one circling over the Broadmarsh area of Langstone Harbour before flying west following the ridge of Portsdown. No further sightings of it though a grey shrouded camera on its tripod stand seen through mist at Titchfield Haven was mistakenly thought to be the bird. More stragglers could still appear on our south coast as there were 1585 passage birds at one Belgian site on Nov 30 and 60 in Germany on Dec 3

Avocet: 34 were 'resident' in Langstone Harbour on Nov 27 and up to 21 were said to be present in Nutbourne Bay (Chichester Harbour) around that date. On Nov 28 more than 450 were in Poole Harbour

Lapwing: Not surisingly there were five reports of 1000+ flocks of these 'snow birds' moving on Dec 2 with a peak count of 3125 over a Netherlands site, 2282 over Belgium, 2000+ over West Bexington near Weymouth and 1000+ (maybe part of the previous flock) seen at Radipole. Sandy Point on Hayling had 1081 coming north from the Continent that day while Portland had 500 going south!

Knot: Counts of 70+ along the west shore of Emsworth on Dec 2, followed by one of 107 there on Dec 3, were high for the area (though bigger counts have been logged elsewhere in Chichester Harbour in recent years (in 2007 there were 150+ on the Pook Lane shore near Langstone on Oct 17 and 350 on the Pilsey Sands during passage on Sep 20)

Snipe: The cold weather movement on Dec 2 gave an exceptional count of 200+ at Christchurch Harbour, 579 at a Netherlands site and more than 28 coming in over south Hayling (one of them probably flying on to give me my first of the winter as it flew in to land on the Langstone South Moors). There has also been an unusually high number of reports of Jack Snipe this week (including more than 2 at Sandy Point on Dec 2 and 6+ at Ferring Rife near Worthing on Dec 3)

Long-billed Dowitcher: Still at Lodmoor on Dec 3

Woodcock: By Nov 29 Michael Prior was already reporting seeing them 'everywhere' in Stansted Forest and this week has brought reports from all along the south coast from Sandwich Bay (where 11 flew in on Dec 2) to Wadebridge in Cornwall where 4 were seen on Nov 29

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was seen on Nov 27 and again on Dec 4 but may have flown to the Lymington area in between as one was seen at Sturt Pond on Nov 29

Lesser Black-back Gull: One of the pale-mantled British graellsii race was an uncommon sight at Emsworth on Dec 1 - when Lessers are seen here in the winter they are more commonly of the dark mantled fuscus or intermedius Scandinavian races

Sandwich Terns: Five different wintering birds could still be seen from Black Point at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 28 but only one was seen there on Dec 2 (no proof that the others have left!)

Turtle Dove: One is wintering in a Cornish garden at Goonhavern (north of Truro) and has been seen there on Nov 27 and Dec 3 and 4. This reminds me that one was reported as wintering in a Shoreham garden in west Sussex back in 1980 and two birds were in the Rye Harbour area from Dec 2 to 18 in 1990

Kingfisher: These have been seen in Emsworth several times between Aug 15 and Oct 18 but there have been no reports from Langstone other than sightings of one at the west end of Mill Lane on Aug 30 and Sep 1 until I saw one in the same place on Dec 2

Hoopoe: The bird at Longham (Bournemouth) was still present on Dec 2

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: One (a male) seen in the Warsash/Hook area on Dec 3

Woodlark: A flock of 110 at Christchurch Harbour on Dec 2 was one of the highspots of that day's cold weather movements - on Dec 3 Devon reported 18 at Colyford (close to Seaton in Lyme Bay near the Devon/Dorset border)

Skylark: See the 'latest excitements' at the head of this week's Summary for details of the massive Skylark movement on Dec 2

Swallow: The last two of the year (I assume) were over Marazion near Penzance on Nov 28

Waxwing: At the start of this week RBA report the presence of Waxwings in 42 counties and the HOS News was still wrongly naming the Twinings Tea Firm premises in Andover (where just one bird remained on Nov 30) as 'Twinnings'. On Dec 3 two of the birds visited the monks of Buckfastleigh Abbey in Devon and on Dec 4 Basingstoke attracted three to Eastrop Park in the town centre

Ring Ouzel: One at Farlington Marshes on Nov 27 has not been reported again

Fieldfare: These began to be seen in both Emsworth and Langstone on Dec 2

Redwing: First report of them in Havant was on Nov 26 at Warblington and I had my first sighting of several (along with a couple of Mistle Thrushes) in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Dec 5 after seeing an 'almost certain Redwing' fly along my home road

Garden Warbler: A late bird was at Portland (with a Dartford Warbler) on Nov 28

Blackcap: A male+female pair were in a Havant (Lower Grove Road alongside the Billy Trail) on Nov 29 and on Dec 3 two such pairs were in a Lewes town garden having difficulty eating frozen grapes on an outdoor vine.

Chifchaff: Crossing the footbridge over the Lymbourne stream from the Billy Line to Wade Court in Langstone on Dec 2 I had close views of two Chiffchaffs feeding among floating water weed on the stream. Two birds could be heard there again on Dec 3 and at least one had been by the Billy Trail north of the A27 on Nov 29

Coal Tit: One was heard singing from my garden on Dec 5 joining Great Tits, Robins, Goldfinches Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves and Song Thrushes rejoicing in the warmer weather

Chough: One was reliably reported at Alum Bay (Isle of Wight, close to the Needles) on Nov 30 and was seen again on Dec 4 (and thought to have been heard on Dec 5)

Jackdaw: In recent winters a large corvid roost has been established in the north of the Gosport area with large numbers of birds heading from and to it each morning and evening (some apparently going as far as the New Forest to feed). First indication of this for this winter came in a report of 250 Jackdaw flying east over the Titchfield/Hill Head area on the evening of Nov 30. From Herstmonceux in east Sussex Dec 1 brought news of more than 300 gathering there at dusk

Raven: Another winter roost of 40+ Ravens reported on Nov 28 at Up Cerne a mile or so north west of Cerne Abbas (north of Dorchester) in Dorset.

Brambling: The number in the QE Country Park near Petersfield had increased on Nov 29 to 500+ (including some Chaffinches)

Redpoll species: If you are confused by the naming and identification of Redpoll species have a look at Lee Evans attempt to simplify it at http://www.uk400clubonline.co.uk/File-Store/Arctic-Redpoll-ID-revisited.pdf

Escapees: The group of 4 Black East Indies ducks which Brian Fellows found on the pond at the Fishery Lane holiday camp (south east Hayling) on Nov 6 were still there and had increased to 5 on Nov 27

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

No dragonflies reported this week!!

Butterflies

Just one report of a Red Admiral in Kingston village near Lewes on Nov 25

Moths

Again nothing to report

Other Insects

14-spot Propylea Ladybird: Lady bird species find the crevices of tree bark good as hibernation sites but I was surprised to see a photo on the Sussex Butterfly Conservation website (30th Nov entry) this week showing some of a group of 57 small black and yellow ladybirds apparently intending to spend the winter totally unprotected on the smooth lower side of a Blackthorn shoot. See http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html

Stick Insect: When checking out the south Hayling Beach Huts at the end of their summer letting season on Nov 28 the Hayling Beachlands manager found a live Stick Insect clinging to the inside of the roof of one hut and asked John Goodspeed what she should do about it. John and I agreed that it was probably one of the subspecies of the Indian Green (Carausius morosus) Stick Insect commonly used in schools and laboratories (and kept as pets!) but subsequently I think it might be the species Unarmed Stick-insect (Acanthoxyla inermis) of which a photo appears via the link below and I suggested that the sooner it was moved to a warmer home (either in a pet shop or given to someone prepared to take it into their own home as a pet) the better. I read that these insects have already establised feral colonies in this country and that they have become classified as pests in other countries with warmer climates. In response to the question "Do stick insects live wild in the UK?" Yahoo answers responded with .......

Yes. Stick insects, known as Phasmids, are naturalised in Britain. Three species, all from New Zealand, are involved. Try Buglife at www.buglife.org.uk for more information. There have been 662 records in 103 locations and a fourth species, Bacillus rossius from the Mediterranean, has recently been recorded from Tresco, Isles of Scilly. Most records are from south or south-west England.

It seems that most Stick Insects in Britain will die in autumn frosts but one garden near St Austell in Cornwall had a population of 140 which had managed to survive

One other appropriate response to this or any similar find is to visit http://www.buglife.org.uk/discoverbugs/bugofthemonth/stickinsects and scroll to the bottom of the page where it asks you ......

We need to find out more about where stick insects are living in the UK. If you find a stick insect in the wild, please record your sighting by clicking here

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Winter Aconite: The first bright yellow flowers of this species were seen in Fareham by Dave Savage on Nov 29

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: On Nov 28 a birder carrying out the monthly WeBS count on a stretch of the River Avon south of Ringwood was delighted to add a dog Otter to his list of sightings - I'm pretty sure that Otters are not new to that area but they are not often seen by day

Fungi: Very little seen during the cold snap (I have been looking for Velvet Shank without success) but the first mild morning (Dec 5) revealed a good fresh growth of Bonnet Mycena on an old plum tree in my neighbour's garden


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 22 - 28 (Week 47 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

Latest news: At midday on Nov 28 a Waxwing was seen at Warblington church along with Brambling in a mixed finch flock

=============

The cold weather of the past few days has brought some of the Waxwings south as far as Chichester (10 seen in Leather Bottle Lane on Sat Nov 27 when at least one was in a Chandlers Ford garden) after being seen in Devon on Nov 24, Andover on Nov 25 and Broadstairs in Kent on Nov 26 (60 there on Nov 27).

Locally Redwings, Mistle Thrush, Blackbirds and Song Thrush were feeding on Yew arils in Warblington Church Yard on Nov 27 with both Blackbird and Song Thrush attempting song there. The Havant Wildlife Group which saw these also had at least one Knot on the mud off the Warblington area, and I see that others (presumably recently evicted from the Wash) have turned up at Warsash and in Southampton Water where they are not commonly seen.

No doubt some people are already worrying about the fate of our Dartford Warblers but maybe they have a new strategy to escape the snow - much of the population of this species is resident fairly near the sea, and Radio 4 had a speaker this morning demonstrating why the heaviest snowfall occurs where onshors winds being moisture over the coast to fall as snow. Yesterday I saw a report of a Dartford Warbler in Northamptonshire - perhaps that is a good place for them to survive?

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: A flock of 189 seen off Germany last week (Nov 16) may have split up and moved west this week with counts of 60 off France on Nov 21 and 58 off the Netherlands on Nov 23, then another 50 off France on Nov 25. Our south coast had 7 off Christchurch Harbour on Nov 22 and 12 off Swalecliffe (north Kent) on Nov 21

Black-throated Diver: By Nov 23 there were 13 (plus 5 Great Northern) in St Austell Bay (south Cornwall) and during the week there was one in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 25 and 25

Great Northern Diver: Two were off Selsey Bill on Nov 20 and later in the week two were off Lymington with one seen at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Nov 26

Mixed Diver Species: A flock of 423 divers was off the Netherlands on Nov 23

Pied-billed Grebe: The first of this species to appear in Britain for 10 years was found on Hollingworth Lake (Manchester) on Nov 3 but has not been reported since Nov 21

Red-necked Grebe: One was seen in the Chichester Harbour mouth on Nov 13 (possibly the same one had been seen off Pagham Harbour on Nov 6) and it has been seen thereabouts up to Nov 28 at least while another two seem to have been in Portland Harbour from Nov 14 to Nov 24 (only one there on Nov 26) Cornwall has two reports from its south coast - one in St Austell Bay and the other in Gerrans Bay near St Mawes (east of Falmouth)

Slavonian Grebe: In past years a small flock of these has often been seen on the sea off Pagham Harbour and a group of 4 were there on Nov 23. One of these may have moved to Chichester Harbour on Nov 26

Black-necked Grebe: The Langstone Harbour flock reached 13 in number on Nov 22 but this count was well beaten by a total of 50 in and just outside Poole Harbour on Nov 24.

Great White Egret: The regular (ringed) bird at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) doe not seem to have been seen since Oct 20 though there have been reports from Spetisbury (Dorset) on Oct 21, Wareham on Nov 1 and the Lower Test (Southampton) on Nov 3 with a possible return to Ringwood on Nov 8. Other than two sightings in Kent the next report was of one flying over Sandy Point on Haylng on Nov 21 and this one seems to have settled at Hatchet Pond in the New Forest from Nov 26

Mute Swan: Sunshine preceding the current cold snap seems to have brought the Langstone Mill Pond pair of Swans back to defend their nest site on Nov 22

Black Swan: One was seen in Cutmill Creek (the north west tip of the Bosham Channel in Chichester Harbour) on Nov 26. This was probably one of the birds normally resident and breeding at West Ashling pond near Funtington (the pond is only 2 km north of where the bird was seen). As these antipodean birds retain their southern hemisphere biological clock this bird may well be the father of a brood of eggs currently being incubated at the pond - maybe he's wondering if he can find a warmer nursery for the entry into the world of his offspring?

Bewick's Swan: Nov 22 saw the arrival of 262 of these Swans in the Netherlands but there has been a more gradual arrival of the birds at Slimbridge where the first eight were seen on Oct 18 though four of these moved on and the remaining four had to wait until Nov 9 for four more (perhaps the originals) to join them. Nov 11 found 11 present, then Nov 17 took the count up to 24 with 27 there on Nov 18 and 42 on Nov 21. Latest counts are 56 on Nov 23 and 62 on Nov 26 (including the return of the oldest inhabitat, the 20 year old Baccan)

Greylag: Those of us who live in south east Hampshire never see flocks of wild Greylag but a short trip to the Blashford Lakes in west Hampshire would have shown you a flock of 487 Greylags there on Nov 23 (there were 528 in the Avon Valley south of Ringwood on Sep 28). Flocks of 100+ can probably be found currently in north east Hampshire.

Brent Goose: The first report of the invasion of farm fields by Brent that I am aware of this autumn came from the Brownwich (Titchfield) area on Nov 14 when a flock of 450 were seen on winter wheat. Perhaps there has been more Eelgrass to keep them in the Solent harbours this year (and perhaps the increase in the number of families with young has made the parents more cautious about taking their young on shore) but the first flock which I have seen ashore on the Warblington farm grassland was not seen until Nov 26 when at least 250 were on lush grass in Warblington Field P (see http://ralph-hollins.net/warblington.htm ). Interestingly last winter (when there were few young in the flocks) they did not use these grass fields but preferred to glean Sweetcorn grain from Fields U, V and T. The first sighting of them in these fields last year was on Nov 27 but I suspect they had been in those fields for a few days before I saw them.

Red-breasted Goose: The bird in the Exe estuary fields this winter (first seen with 150 Brent on Oct 7 and never reported as being ringed) has throughout been reported as being of dubious or captive origin - I will be very interested to see if it flies east to Chichester Harbour early next spring. This week finds the Devon bird still at Topsham on Nov 23 but a different bird turned up on Merseyside that day

Goosander: The number using the Ibsley Water roost near Ringwood continues to creep up each winter. In 2006 the peak number was just 68 (in Jan), in 2007 only 64 were reported but in 2008 the figure rose to 90 while 2009 had a count of 102 on Dec 31. This winter we already have a count of 96 by Nov 23 and the cold weather will almost certainly bring more south before the year end (latest news on Nov 27 is of the evening count at Ibsley shooting up to 114)

Red Kite: A communal winter roost at West End Green (just east of Tadley in north Hampshire) had around 25 birds using it on Nov 26

Osprey: The latest Hampshire Bird Report gives the latest date for an Osprey to be seen in Hampshire during the period 1957 - 2007 as 11 Dec 1999 though very few are seen anywhere after mid-October. This year the last normal Hampshire report for the autumn was of a bird in Langstone Harbour on Oct 24 but this week has brought two very unusual reports. The first was a sighting of one flying fast west over Sandy Point on Hayling on Nov 16, the second sighting was from the Botley Woods north of Fareham on Nov 26 and this included the detail that the bird was standing on and feeding from a dead cat.

A search for any hint of Ospreys ever staying in Britain for the winter produced an article under the heading Glaslyn Osprey Stays for Winter - WalesOnline Magazine Lifestyle Blog - it turned out to be about the construction of a 12 foot high mural placed on the gable end of the Glaslyn village school in Wales celebrating local hero Clough Williams-Ellis showing a local view with an Osprey flying over.

More useful came information from the Birdguides website which gave the latest reports they have for this year showing one was still in Lincolnshire on Nov 13, another near Taunton in Somerset on Nov 1, 3 and 6, another in Norfolk on Nov 6 and one in Bucks on Nov 3. These reports are believable but the report of one eating a cat is very out of keeping with their normal diet (more or less exclusively fish) and fast flying does not accord with my impression of the normal rather laborious flight. I suspect that both sightings were of Osprey look-alike species, probably escapees from captivity, though the date of the Botley Woods sighting is identical to the date on which I saw the first news of the juvenile White-tailed Sea-Eagle that arrived from Finland in Nov 2007 to spend that winter in Hampshire (mainly on the Cholderton estate near Andover) - could that bird be back craving the delicious taste of Hampshire cats?

Peregrine: Another unusual raptor report this week comes from Seaford in Sussex and describes a Peregrine catching and plucking a Starling in a small (30 foot long) garden. I don't know how experienced a birder it was that reported this (my apologies if I am being too unbelieving) but both the prey and the place sound much more likely to be the work of a Sparrowhawk rather than a Peregrine

Avocet: 34 were present at Farlington Marshes on Nov 27, almost certainly indicating the build up of a wintering flock though there have been no other reports from there since Nov 1 when the count was only 16

Dotterel: Lee Evans tells us that on Nov 27 a single Dotterel could still be seen in the Loch Ryan area of Galloway in Scotland

Golden Plover: My first sighing of these for the winter came on Nov 25 when I was cycling east along Thornham Lane (north Thorney Island) and came to the point between the sewage works and the minor road to Prinsted where you can see the fields north of Thornham Lane - here was a flock of around 50 Lapwing with at least a dozen Golden Plover among them

Knot: A flock of 200 was seen in the north of Pagham Harbour on Nov 25 and by Nov 27 isolated birds were being seen near Emsworth, Warsash and along Southampton Water (I guess a lot have been driven from the Wash area on the east coast by the snow)

Woodcock: Two were seen on Sinah Common (south Hayling) at dusk on Nov 23 and singles arrived at Portland and Christchurch Harbour on Nov 26

Spotted Redshank: The total to be seen on the Lymington shore rose to 12 on Nov 23

Laughing Gull: The first of these trans-Atlantic Black Headed Gull look-alikes to turn up in Britain this year was seen in Derbyshire on Nov 20

Iceland Gull: Other than one seen in the Scillies on Oct 30 and another in the Netherlands on Nov 1 the first I know of for this winter was at the Blashford Lakes on Nov 21 (another sighting could have been of a second bird in the same area that day). Nothing more of either bird until Nov 26 when one was seen on the River Avon near the Avon Causeway (after which it headed off into Dorset)

Sandwich Tern: 8 wintering birds were still near the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 25 after four of them had been seen on the north shore of the Harbour at Emsworth on Nov 21. Singles also remain at Sandwich Bay and on the French coast

Stock Dove: The autumn 'pigeon passage' is coming to an end but Christchurch Harbour still had 350 passing over on Nov 2

Wood Pigeon: Barton on Sea still had counts of 16980 on Nov 22 and 11060 on Nov 23

Ring-necked Parakeet: I still remember having two of these on our garden birdtable in the snow of 1974 and maybe the current cold is making some of the London area birds (rumoured to number 30,000) wonder if a move would be beneficial to their health. This thought comes from a report of one on a bird feeder at Cocking (Sussex Downs near Midhurst) on Nov 23

Hoopoe: One appeared at Longham (northern fringe of Bournemouth) on Nov 25 and was still there next day though not reported on Nov 27 - European breeding birds normally fly south to winter in Africa but I recall one which I think stayed for the winter in the Frensham Lakes area of Surrey many years back and I believe there was another winter bird in the Alton area more recently (not checked). A definite wintering bird was in Gosport from Nov 2005 to February 2006

Shorelark: 3 seem to be wintering at Sandwich Bay but that number is currently well beaten by a flock of 43 (on Nov 27) at Holkham Bay in Norfolk

Swallow: Locally one was seen at Fishbourne and another at Sandy Point (Hayling) on Nov 21 and on Nov 23 there were singles seen at Sandwich Bay and Rye Harbour but the only two reports since then have come from Marazion (Penzance area of Cornwall) on Nov 24 (six birds!) and Nov 26 (1).

House Martin: These normally outstay the Swallows but this year the supply of House Martins seems to have run out on Nov 10 with the exception of a single bird reported flying west over Seaview on the Isle of Wight on Nov 18

Grey Wagtail: Of local interest it is some weeks since I heard the calls of winter Grey Wagtails flying over the Havant Town Centre shops (a normal feature of the town in winter) so I was pleased to see not one but two foraging at different places on the Lymbourne stream south of the A27 on Nov 26

Waxwings: Last week I reported that a few had come as far south as Banbury, Bracknell, Odiham and Epsom on Nov 20 but this week's reports include 3 at Chagford (north east fringe of Dartmoor) on Nov 24, then 3 at an Andover industrial estate on Nov 25 and at least 7 in north Kent on Nov 26. On Nov 27 Kent had a flock of 60 at Broadstairs and 3 were at Rye Harbour while closer to home 10 had reached Chichester and at least one was seen in Chandlers Ford close to Eastleigh

Black Redstart: Of local interest Nov 23 brought news of a female that could be seen on the seafront Mariners Court buildings a little west of the Southwood Road carpark about a 1 km west of Sandy Point on Hayling

Ring Ouzel: One was seen in 'the bushes' at Farlington Marshes on Nov 27 - this is the first anywhere on the south coast since one seen on the Exminster Marshes in Devon on Nov 21

Redwing: A huge night roost which may have held over 50,000 birds on Nov 26 was found in the Long Beech Inclosure/Janesmoor Pond area of the New Forest beside the minor road running north from the A31 to Fritham. Locally on Nov 27 the Havant Wildlife Group found some Redwing in the Warblington churchyard along with at least one Mistle Thrush and the both Blackbird and Song Thrush attempting to sing as they fed on the plentiful Yew arils

Willow Warbler: One has been lurking at Portland Bill from Sep 26 to Nov 26 and looks set to stay for the winter. Another late bird was seen in the Netherlands on Nov 21

Firecrest: At least three were seen on South Hayling on Nov 26, two at Sandy Point and one near the Sinah gravel pit lake.

Bearded Tit: Their autumn dispersal was still ongoing this week when three birds were seen flying into the 'Severals' reedbeds at Church Norton after being seen flying high over Thorney Island a short while earlier

Brambling: The count at the QE country park near Petersfield was up to 103 on Nov 26

Lesser Redpoll: A flock of more than 500 was seen at Castle Bottom (near Eversley in north Hampshire) on Nov 26

Snow Bunting: The number at Reculver on the north Kent coast was up to 17 on Nov 25

Rustic Bunting: One was found at Whitstable in north Kent on Nov 21 and appears to have turned up at Rye Harbour next day

Reed Bunting: Several seem to have reached the Emsworth area on Nov 25 when I saw them on the north west Thorney seawall and at the Thornham Marshes

Vagrants: Lee Evans tells us that a North American Hen Harrier found in Norfolk on Nov 27 was the third of its kind to have been spotted in the UK this winter

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Common Darter: One was seen by the Basingstoke canal in the Farnborough area on Dec 19 giving extra credence to my distant sighting of one at Langstone on Nov 16

Butterflies

Brimstone: Single males seen at Farnborough on Nov 19 and at Gosport on Nov 22

Red Admiral: Three seen around the Gosport area on Nov 19 with three more seen on Nov 21 (one near Lewes) and Nov 22 (two more at Gosport)

Moths

Scarce Umber: The only report this week is if several of these seen by a Sussex 'moth-er' in his car headlights, causing him to stop and catch one.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Bulbous Buttercup: One flowering in the Langstone area on Nov 22 was identified by its down-turned sepals

Stream Water Crowfoot: Still flowering in the Hermitage stream at Bedhampton on Nov 23

Sweet Violets: Flowering in both Havant and Emsworth this week

Campion: Both Red and White were flowering in Emsworth this week

Musk Mallow: Fresh plants flowering at two Havant sites during the week

White Melilot: A single plant at Broadmarsh was a surprise on Nov 23

Spotted Medick: After finding one flowering near the A27 Langstone roundabout on Nov 15 (seen again Nov 22) I found a second site with flowering plants on Nov 26 on the Emsworth side of the A27 underpass on the Emsworth Road

Cherry Laurel: A bank of planted shrubs beside the A27 below the Pook Lane footbridge was in flower on Nov 22

Hawthorn: A single late cluster of flowers seen at the Thornham Marshes on Nov 25

Dog Rose: The bushes which have seen flowering at the mouth of the Langbrook stream since Oct 19 had a peak count of 77 blossoms on Nov 23

Mistletoe: The fall of the leaves from a White Poplar tree across the Havant Road from Record Road in Emsworth revealed the expected presence of a large clump of Mistletoe near the top of the tree this week

Cow Parsley: Brian Fellows found one plant of this in flower at Marina Farm on Thorney Island on Nov 24. I see that this site also had the first flowers of 2008, seen then on Jan 18 at a more normal date (followed by other finds on Jan 25, 25, Feb 1 etc). In 2007 although I found an odd plant flowering on Jan 1 the season did not start until Mar 13 but in 2006 it started on Jan 7. In all years the flowers do not appear en masse until April

Fools Parsley: Brian also found this flowering at the Marina Farm site on Nov 24 after earlier odd flowerings in Emsworth on Nov 11 and in Havant on Nov 16

Rhododendron ponticum: Many fresh buds and one half open flower seen in the Hollybank woods (Holly Lodge abandoned garden site) on Nov 24

Strawberry Tree: The old specimen in Slipper Mill Road at Emsworth was still flowering on Nov 24

Honeysuckle: The garden escape flowers by the Hayling Billy trail south of the A27 in Havant were still out on Nov 22

OTHER WILDLIFE

Green Sea Urchin (Psammechinus miliaris): A walk along the Rye Harbour shoreline on Nov 21 discovered thousands of washed up 'skeletons' (technically called 'tests') of these urchins. I read that this species can live for 10 years and I am not sure if this 'wash up' was an annual event or the result of some unfortunate storm.

Red Squirrel: Despite the cold nights I think very few Grey Squirrels go into proper hibernation nowadays - at least in our relatively warm and food-filled gardens - and a report of two Red Squirrels active in Laundry Lane close to the IoW Bembridge Marshes RSPB reserve on Nov 25 is not surprising. (I see six of them were seen at the Alverstone nature reserve on 26 Dec 2008 with ones and twos seen there on Jan 23 and 30 increasing to 8 - mostly in pairs - on 16 Feb 2007)

Fungi: On Nov 22 I found Jew's Ear and Shaggy Inkcap in the Budds Farm area of Havant and on Nov 23 I passed a fresh cluster of Shaggy Parasols in the Oak Park area of Leigh Park. In the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Nov 24 I found Clouded Agaric, Candlesnuff plus a new species for my personal list this winter, Black Bulgar. Next one I will be looking for is Velvet Shank which seems to enjoy at good frost


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 15 - 21 (Week 46 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Red-throated numbers now reaching winter levels with reports of 6 seen together at both Rye Harbour and Torquay in southern England and 189 at a German site on Nov 16 and 42 at a French site on Nov 19. Locally Titchfield Haven area had 3 on Nov 20. Highest count of Black-throated was 135 on the French coast on Nov 17 while Portscatho in Cornwall had 23 on Nov 14. Locally one was in the Solent off Gosport on Nov 13. Great Northern are the most likely to be seen off the Hampshire coast with Sandy Point (mouth of Chichester Harbour) having 2 on Nov 13 and 1 on Nov 19 when 1 was off Hurst Castle at the west end of the Solent (1 was also seen nearby off Milford on Nov 17). Nov 17 also saw 7 off Berry Head in Devon (southern tip of Torbay which has Torquay at its northern tip) and Nov 18 brought a report of 6 in St Austell Bay in Cornwall.

Grebes: The rare vagrant Pied-billed Grebe was still present in the Manchester area on Nov 19 (ten days after its arrival to end a ten year absence from the UK). Locally 30 Great Crested were seen in Chichester Harbour from Wittering on Nov 16 but of more interest was a single Red-necked Grebe seen in that area on Nov 13, 16 and 19 (two were reported there on Nov 19). Also seen from East Head in Chichester Harbour on Nov 16 were six Slavonian Grebes with four there on Nov 19. Three remain in the Lymington area where they have been since Oct 17 but so far the only sighting off Pagham Harbour has been of one on Nov 14. Nine Black-necked were still off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 19 but the biggest flock is in the Studland Bay area of Dorset where more than 30 were reported on Nov 16

Fulmar: These are seemingly continuing to spread around the south coast as breeding birds and a report from the South Foreland in Kent tells of 14 'prospecting for nest sites' there on Nov 20

Shag: No reports from the Langstone Harbour entrance area this week but one was seen off Southsea Castle on Nov 20

Bittern: One was seen in the North Walls area of Pagham Harbour on Nov 15 and 17, probably the one which was near the harbour visitor centre on Nov 9 (I don't recall regular reports of Bittern in Pagham Harbour in past years but I have not checked this)

Green Heron: The bird which has been in the Mevagissey area of Cornwall since Oct 6 was still there on Nov 19 despite the flooding in that area but the American Bittern has not been reported since Nov 6

Cattle Egret: A new bird turned up in the Exe estuary this week and was at the Bowling Green Marsh area on Nov 20. The two Glossy Ibis which have remained in South Devon were still there this week

Bewick's Swan: The first 8 arrived at Slimbridge on Oct 18 and the number there has now crept up to 27 on Nov 19

Whooper Swan: The only birds in the south of England this week seem to be a couple in Cornwall and a family of four at Axmouth in Devon but the RSPB reserve at Strathbeg on the north east coast of Scotland (north of Peterhead) had 941 on Nov 14

Brent Goose: These are already coming ashore to feed on coastal fields - by Nov 14 a flock of 450 was on winter wheat in the Brownwich area (west of Titchfield) and 120 were feeding in fields at Climping near the mouth of the R Arun on Nov 19. (A Black Brant had been seen grazing in fields west of Pagham Harbour on Nov 11 and I suspect other Brent were with it). Although many reports indicate a better than usual proportion of young birds Brian Fellows says that his observations show that more families than usual have only one juvenile with them and he is wondering if other factors than predation by Arctic Foxes are at work (maybe not enough food to bring up more than one gosling - that is a thought occurring to me, not Brian's suggestion).

Embden Geese: Brian Fellows visited Baffins Pond in Portsmouth on Nov 17 and found many wild duck on the water but surprisingly no Canada Geese and less surprisingly no remnant the flock of up to 40 Barnacle Geese which formed the core of what was then called the 'Baffins Gang' that would spend the summer at Baffins Bond and the winter at Titchfield Haven.

Shelduck: 47 of these were on the shore off Warblington Farm between Langstone and Emsworth on Nov 16 but the birds are still moving west for the winter and we have not yet seen the winter flock of up to 100 birds that should be there before the year end

Wigeon: Nov 19 found 92 Wigeon in the Nore Barn area (west end of Emsworth shore). As with the Shelduck this is the highest count of the winter here so far despite counts of up to 2000 at the nearby Thorney Deeps in October during the main westward passage of these returning winter birds

Shoveler: Brian Fellows found 72 of these at Baffins Pond on Nov 17 - possibly part of a second wave of arriving winter birds (sites in France recently reported the highest counts of the winter so far with 383 at one site on Nov 8 and 292 on Nov 17). A count of 70+ Tufted Duck at Baffins Pond on Nov 17 may also have been part of a newly arrived wave which has not yet been reflected at other sites in our area (only one or two to be seen at the Budds Farm pools this week)

Red-crested Pochard: A single female seen at Ivy Lake in Chichester on Nov 13 was still there on Nov 15

Scaup: Nov 14 brought reports of 7 at the Abbotsbury Swannery and another 7 at Lodmoor, both sites having several new birds that day

Goldeneye: Numbers starting to increase this week though the number in Langstone Harbour was only up from 2 to 3 on Nov 19 (the additional bird was the first drake I have heard of). At the Blashford Lakes the count was 11 on Nov 14 after it had increased to 12 on Nov 8 from 3 on Nov 6 following the first major arrival of 128 in Germany on Nov 7. On Nov 15 there were 5 at Pagham Lagoon and 4+ at the Exe estuary.

Smew: The few that do come to the south coast of this country for the winter normally stay in Kent and Sussex and singles at Dungeness on Oct 14 and at Rye Harbour on Oct 21 followed this precedent, as did 2 at Oare Marshes near Faversham on Nov 17, but another bird arriving that day overshot and turned up at Longham on the northern fringe of Bournemouth, then moved to Lodmoor at Weymouth on Nov 19

Red-breasted Merganser: A total of more than 55 were seen from East Head in Chichester Harbour on Nov 16 - the first count of more than 23 in southern England this winter

Goosander: The number at the Blashford Lakes went up from 10 on Nov 6 to 28 on Nov 15 and then 41 on Nov 20. Several other reports indicate the arrival in southern England of birds from the north - 8 were seen in the Weymouth area on Nov 13, one was at Folkestone on Nov 14 and three (including a male) were in Poole Harbour on Nov 16 while on Nov 19 a lone bird looked very out of place flying along the River Brede near Rye

Hen Harrier: Plenty of these in southern England (especially on the Sussex Downs) but a male in the East Park area of Stansted on Nov 15 may be of local interest

Buzzard: Also of local interest was a sighting of a Buzzard at the Langstone South Moors on Nov 19 (probably a youngster trying to find a good place to settle down)

Common Crane: Still moving on the continent with reports of 1650 over a Netherlands site on Nov 17 and 144 in Belgium on Nov 18

Avocet: 16 were seen in the Nutbourne Bay area east of Emsworth on Nov 15 and may settle there for the winter but another report of 16 came from Pagham Harbour on Nov 17 and may have been of the same birds. Almost daily reports from Titchfield Haven this week had numbers varying from 1 to 5 birds and probably reflect different birds dropping in as they move west to Poole Harbour or the Exe estuary

Stone Curlew: A very unexpected report on Nov 19 was of the first Stone Curlew ever to be seen on North Ronaldsay in the Orkneys (the very northernmost of all the British Isles)

Purple Sandpiper: Four were seen at Southsea Castle on Nov 15 (there were 15 there on Nov 9) but the week's top score was 51 at Penzance on Nov 18 (previous highest count was 27 there on Nov 14, so the latest count probably relects a wave of these birds arriving from the north)

Snipe: Christchurch Harbour had an airborne flock of 320 Common Snipe - plus 5 Jack Snipe on Nov 18

Long-billed Dowitcher: The bird which arrived at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Nov 8 immediately moved to Radipole, then to Axmouth in Devon on Nov 9 and was still there on Nov 19

Black-tailed Godwit: Around 80 were at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 19, doubling the count of 41 there on Nov 10, and birds in Poole Harbour also moved inland to riverside meadows beside the River Frome with more than 500 having done so on Nov 14. Nov 15 brought a report of 650 in the Swineham Point area where the River Frome flows into Poole Harbour but there is nothing to show if these were additional birds moving inland or the previous day's birds returning to the harbour

Bar-tailed Godwit: More than 200 were in the Pilsey Island area of Chichester Harbour on Oct 4 and have probably been thereabouts since then but so far as I know the first large flock to appear in the north west of the harbour (between Langstone and Northney) was not seen until Nov 15 (maybe 1000 birds seen distantly) A smaller flock of around 50 were on the Langstone side of the harbour on Nov 19

Green Sandpiper: Of local interest the Langstone area bird was seen and heard at the South Moors on Nov 19

Sabine's Gull: A juvenile flew west past Selsey Bill on Nov 17

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was seen twice this week, not at the 'Cockle Pond' adjacent to the town carparks, but on nearby Haslar Creek (the harbour inlet running along the south of Walpole Park). It was back on the Cockle Pond on Nov 21.

Lesser Black-back Gull: Flocks of more than 100 were seen at two places west of Basingstoke this week and the species is also in the news after a 'strange gull' at Slimbridge was identified as a hybrid between a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-back - probably the result of inter-breeding at a roof-top nest in Gloucester or Bristol where both species nest in large numbers since the sea was replaced as their food source by inland rubbish tips and the worms in arable fields.

Black Guillemot: One was an unexpected sight in Brands Bay (within Poole Harbour) on Nov 19

Stock Dove: A count of 1174 passing over Barton on Sea (west of Lymington) on Nov 16 is said to be a new county record for Hampshire - with them went 59,250 Wood Pigeons

Short-eared Owl: Among eight reports this week was one of a bird hunting the Black Gutter Bottom area in the north west of the New Forest (where these owls are not often seen) and another over private (probably military) ground at Gosport

Pallid Swift: One reported flying over Hope's Nose (the headland jutting out from the town of Torquay in Devon) on Nov 17

Wryneck: Another exceptional record from Devon was of a Wryneck on the coast just north of Torquay on Nov 19. I read of this on Lee Evans website ( http://rarebirdsinbritain.blogspot.com/ ) and was puzzled when I found that the village that Lee named as Sheldon was far from the coast and did not match up with the additional information that the bird was near Labrador Bay and the A379 road - the village is in fact called Shaldon!

Swallow: 20 reports from Nov 13 to 20. Most of ones or twos but 4 (maybe 6) were seen at The Lizard in Cornwall on Nov 13 and 4 were at Durlston on Nov 19. Latest sightings were singles at Southsea Castle and at Beachy Head on Nov 20. No reports of House Martins anywhere since Nov 10.

Rock Pipit: On Nov 19 three were seen on the Langstone South Moors shore and another 6 were in the Hayling Oysterbeds area

Waxwing: These continue to move south and on Nov 20 there were 40 at Banbury (just north of Oxford), 16 at Bracknell near Reading and 11 at Epsom in Surrey. Others were still arriving in Kent from the continent.

Black Redstart: A male was seen in an Emsworth garden on Nov 17 and could possibly stay the winter there. Others seen this week in regular wintering spots were at Southsea Castle and Fort Cumberland (near the mouth of Langstone Harbour)

Whinchat: A late bird was seen in the Brede valley (near Icklesham north of Hastings) on Nov 19. The previous latest bird this year was in the Scillies on Oct 29. The latest ever in Sussex was on Dec 2 (year unspecified) but in Hampshire we have had birds surviving through the winter on insects coming from pony droppings in coastal fields - the insects would not be forthcoming in the market garden fields where the current bird was seen!

Wheatear: Three reports this week - one in north west Kent on Nov 13, one on the IoW (Thorness Bay) on Nov 14 and two at Sandwich Bay on Nov 17 (a Desert Wheatear was in Yorkshire on Nov 19 - see a nice Photo of it on Lee Evans blog at http://rarebirdsinbritain.blogspot.com/ )

Ring Ouzel: No further reports from Devon but two flew over West Bay in Dorset on Nov 14

Mistle Thrush: This species is nowadays a rarity in southern England so reports of more than six on Southampton Common on Nov 14, and three reports on Nov 19 from Eastleigh Lakeside (3 birds), Christchurch Harbour (3) and Langstone village (1), are notable (though the birds are probably of continental origin)

Reed Warbler: One at Abbotsbury in Dorset on Nov 16 was seen on the same day and at the same site as the latest for Dorset in 1999

Blue Tit: Another wave of birds escaping the continental winter brought 233 to a Netherlands site on Nov 17 and 59 to a Belgian site on Nov 18. Also on Nov 17 there appears to have been some evidence that Blue Tits still had young in two nestboxes in a Sussex garden but I rather suspect that this was based on Tits using the boxes as winter night roosts (or even noises caused by perhaps mice in the boxes)

Brambling: The large number of sightings and some high counts (e.g. 138 at Durlston and 289 at West Bay - both in Dorset on Nov 14) may indicate that we are in for a hard winter and this thought is backed up by a comment from Portland that they have already ringed 48 Bramblings this winter, equalling their record full year total of 48 made in 1963 (which had a very hard winter!). This week's reports show that a small flock can now be seen in the West Dean Woods north of Chichester as well as at the QE Country Park near Petersfield.

Greenfinch: An isolated report of more than 200 at the Lymington marshes on Nov 19 is encouraging (not many years back such coastal flocks would have been seen all along the south coast)

Hawfinch: Two were seen at the Chichester West Dean Woods on Nov 19 - hopefully a larger winter flock will build there

Lapland Bunting: At least 15 were present at Hurst beach (Lymington) on Nov 13 and a single flock of 55 was seen in Norfolk on Nov 19. Smaller flocks continue to be reported everywhere and on Nov 16 the Dorset Bird Recorder downgraded the species from a class A rarity (requiring full notes for every sighting) to class B with no need for a full description. Locally one was at East Head in Chichester Harbour on Nov 15

Snow Bunting: One was also in the East Head sand dunes on Nov 19 when another was at Hurst Beach. Another has been showing well on the Pett Level sea wall (Rye Bay) and at least 6 remain in Cornwall

Cirl Bunting: A total of 70 could be seen in the Prawle area of Devon on Nov 20 (and 6 were seen in Cornwall where a second re-introduction scheme is now under way)

Vagrant: An American Coot in County Mayo (Ireland) on Nov 15 was the 434th species recorded in the British Isles (according to Lee Evans) this year - this equals the full year total for 2009 leaving more than a month in which to beat that total.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

While watching Teal duck on the meadow south of Wade Court at Langstone on Nov 16 I clearly saw the glitter of dragonfly wings making a figure of eight flight above the ducks - this must have been a very late Common Darter though I was too far off to see any detail

Butterflies

Brimstone: One sighting of a male at Cuckfield in Sussex on Nov 16

Red Admiral: Nine reports ending with several in Devon on Nov 20

Small Tortoiseshell: One seen in the Overton area west of Basingstoke on Nov 16

Peacock: One seen at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Nov 19

Comma: One report from the Brighton area on Nov 16

Moths

Diamond-back Moth: One of these migrants in Thanet. Kent, on Nov 11 - normally they fly from May to Sept

Rusty-dot Pearl: Still arriving at Portland on both Nov 14 and 18

December Moth: One in Thanet on Nov 11

Red-green Carpet: First report of this pretty moth came from Thanet on Nov 14. This species normally emerges in the Sep - Oct period, then hibernates till early spring before breeding

Lesser Yellow Underwing: This is normally only seen between July and September so one in Thanet on Nov 14 was very late

The Chestnut: One in Thanet on Nov 14 (the species is flying through the winter from Sep to May)

Red-line Quaker: One in Thanet on Nov 14 was late - normal flight period is Sep to Oct with eggs taking the species through the winter

Large Wainscot: Another late specimen in Thanet on Nov 14 - normally flies from Aug to Oct

Silver Y: Migrants still arriving at Portland on Nov 14 and 17

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Lesser Swinecress: Flowering plants seen on Nov 20 were an addition to my Novenber list

Common Milkwort: Surprisingly found flowering at Durlston on Nov 16

Tutsan: A single fresh flower bud seen on a plant in Havant on Nov 16

Spotted Medick: The first flowers seen for months were found near the A27 Langstone roundabout on Nov 15

Hawthorn: Still a very few flowers on a hedge at Langstone on Nov 15

Dog Rose: Plants on the seawall path across the South Moors at Langstone started re-flowering on Oct 19 and have been seen in increasing number up to Nov 19 when I counted 50 indvidual flowers.

Yellow-flowered Strawberry: The plants in Juniper Square at Havant which have had a few flowers since Sep 16 had a single red fruit on Nov 15

Fool's Parsley: Last week Brian Fellows found this flowering in Emsworth on Nov 11 and this week I too found a single plant flowering in Havant on Nov 16

Burnet Saxifrage: A couple of freshly flowering plants were still to be seen in the Havant cemetery on Nov 20

Black Bindweed: A new addition to my November list was a healthy flowering plant of this growing up the frame of the foot bridge over the railway at the New Lane level crossing on Nov 20

Teasel: Single fresh flowering plants found on Hayling on Nov 15 and in the Havant cemetery on Nov 20

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bechstein's Bat: Press reporting of the current planning application for house building on fields between Westbourne and north Emsworth has several times mentioned the presence of a rare bat species which was named as the Bechstein's Bat in the latest report I have seen which told us that Havant Borough Council have decided to turn down the application - I wonder how long it will take for that decision to be overturned?. As this bat uses tree holes in the summer and caves or cellars in the winter I think the only way it could be dependent on these fields would be for feeding (catching moths). The species does not seem to be established in this area (no records shown in the 10km square on the distribution map I have seen).

Brown Hare: One was seen in the coastal fields west of Selsey on Nov 13

Common or Smooth Newt: The first report of one back in its breeding pond comes from the Northiam area (north of Hastings) on Nov 14 - last year the first was seen on Nov 24 and in 2008 the first date was Dec 15. If these dates reflect a general trend to earlier dates for the return it may be the result of both higher temperatures and wetter ground at this time of year.

Sea Fish: On Nov 18 the Durlston Rangers daily diary included the comment .. "Moving inshore in numbers now Cod, Whiting (also known as Channel Whiting), Pout along with a few remaining Ray species such as Thornback and Undulate to feed on any worm and crustaceans dislodged during the recent stormy weather."

Fungi: On Nov 18 the regular 'fairy ring' of Wood Blewits started to appear in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery (at least one had been seen in Emsworth on Nov 7) and on Nov 19 I found the first two Stubble Rosegill (Volvariella gloiocephala previously known as V. speciosa) on the old rubbish tip mound overlooking the Budds Farm pools here in Havant. By the end of the week the half dozen tiny black Earth Tongues (Trichoglossum hirsutum) on my lawn had doubled in number while on Oct 16 Durlston reported a find of Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) which had been found locally in Stansted Forest on Oct 29


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 8 - 14 (Week 45 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Red Throated have been reported at ten sites this week including a single bird in the mouth of Chichester Harbour and a flock of 65 at a German coastal site on Nov 7. Black-throated have been at 8 sites but none nearer to us than Portland and nowhere having more than two birds. Sixteen reports of Great Northern include one off Selsey Bill on Nov 6, one in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 11, and one pausing briefly on Nov 12 at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood during an overland flight south. On Nov 13 two were in the Sandy Point area of Hayling and may stay there feeding on the fish brought in and out of Chichester Harbour on the tide. Over in France a group of 8 birds were seen on Nov 9

Grebes: A Pied-Billed Grebe appeared on Nov 3 at a lake in the Greater Manchester area and was still there on Nov 11. Lee Evans tells us that this is the first in Britain for some ten years. The winter flock of Great Crested Grebe in Rye Bay was estimated to have around 150 birds by Oct 24 but by Nov 9 there were 409 at a German site. A single Red-necked was seen at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 13 (maybe the one seen off Pagham Harbour on Nov 6) and one was seen from Portland on Nov 8. Three Slavonian remain on the Lymington shore where they were first reported on Oct 17 and this week singles have been in Poole Harbour at Arne (and outside it at Studland Bay) with another at Rye Harbour and a group of three at a Netherlands site. No reports of Black-necked from Langstone Harbour since Oct 31 when 9 were off the Oysterbeds but at Studland Bay the flock increased to 16 on Nov 8 though some of these may have moved west as the Studland count on Nov 10 was down to 6 with 5 new birds at Torbay in Devon

Fulmar: So far this autumn I have only recorded four reports along the south coast but on Nov 12 a couple of birds were seen in the Netherlands and Portland reported its first sighting for this winter

Leach's Petrel: Still a few passing south but this week the only reports from southern England have been from Kent

Cormorant: The roost at Fleet Pond in north Hampshire increased to 85 birds on Nov 10

Shag: Christchurch Habour reported more than 30 offshore on Nov 12 when the first of the winter was seen at the entrance to Langstone Harbour

Bittern: Several new birds have arrived in southern England this week with the first autumn report from Titchfield Haven on Nov 11 and a sighting close to the Visitor Centre for Pagham Harbour on Nov 9. Further east one was back at the Sevenoaks KWT reserve on Nov 11 and the count at the Dungeness RSPB reserve was up to three on Nov 13 with another two at Rye Harbour on Nov 12

Green Heron: The bird at the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey in Cornwall was still there on Nov 12 (its arrival was on Oct 6) but Cornwall's other twitcher attraction (American Bittern) has not been seen since Nov 6

Bewick's Swan: The number at Slimbridge increased from 4 to 8 on Nov 9 and then to 11 on Nov 10 (when two were seen at the Blashford Lakes)

Whooper Swan: Slimbridge is also short of these with only one there on Nov 10 (five new birds dropped in on Nov 7 but did not stay). Dorset is doing bettter with a family of four in the Weymouth area since Oct 24 and two in Poole Harbour since Oct 14. None yet at the Chichester lakes but last year they arrived on Nov 16

Canada Goose: One of the small races was seen at the Lower Test reserve near Southampton on Nov 6 where one was previously reported on Oct 10

Black Brant: One was still being reported at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Nov 12 but this week has brought has new single birds at Pagham Harbour on Nov 11 and at Sturt Pond near Lymington on Nov 13

Egyptian Goose: It looks as if there have been a few arrivals from the south this week with a report of ten flying north over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 7 and 13 in north west Kent on Nov 11. The birds seen at Christchurch are not necessarily newcomers as there has been a flock of up to 16 in the Avon valley since July 22 (when 8 were at Cowards Marsh on the north fringe of Christchurch)

Fudge Duck: On Nov 7 Mike Collins found a 'new' Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrid at the Budds Farm pools in Havant where there have been regular sightings of these hybrids each year since the autumn of 1999. I get the impression that a 'dynasty' of these hybrids has developed with new birds having an inbred instinct to winter in the Langstone area. Looking back to last autumn I draw some support for this theory from reports on Nov 15 of what may have been the original (1999) bird on Sinah Gravel Pit lake (south Hayling) with two different hybrids on the Budds pools on the same day.

Eider: Although the number being seen off Titchfield Haven had fallen back to 19 birds on Nov 12 (from 25 there on Oct 29) many birds are currently moving south for the winter giving counts this week of 4902 off the Netherland coast on Nov 7, then 1778 off north Germany on Nov 8 and 307 off Belgium on Nov 10. On Nov 9 Dungeness reported 17 flying west.

Velvet Scoter: Although none have been reported from the Hampshire coast this week there were 2 off the North Kent coast on Nov 7, then 2 off Dungeness on Nov 8 when 3 were off Christchurch, on Nov 10 3 were seen from Portland. Nov 12 brought singles to Splash Point at Seaford and to Studland Bay in Dorset.

Goldeneye: No big numbers yet (max 128 off Germany on Nov 7) but the count at the Blashford Lakes was up to 12 on Nov 8. I had my personal first sighting of the winter at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 10 (two females)

Red-breasted Merganser: Small flocks have seen seen in southern England since mid-October (e.g. 20 in Chichester Harbour off Pilsey on Oct 25) but bigger numbers are now being seen (max 197 at a French site on Nov 7) and by the end of the current week groups of ten or more were being seen from both the Emsworth and Langstone shores with a report of 20 on the landlocked Anglesey Lake of Portsmouth Harbour at Gosport (where there is good fishing after spring tides which bring the fish in over the dam which carried the railway over the mouth of the lake to give Queen Victoria a shortcut to her Osborne House residence on the Isle of Wight - as the tide falls the fish are trapped by the dam).

Buzzards: These are still coming south on the continent - 78 Common Buzzards were seen at a German site on Nov 7 and 118 at a Netherlands site on Nov 8. Also in the Netherlands one Rough-legged was seen on Nov 9 and two were there on Nov 10

Osprey: I notice that no Ospreys have been reported since one was seen in Belgium on Oct 29

Common Crane: Two seen at Cuckmere Haven on Nov 7 were presumably stragglers from a large movement on the continent which saw migrants passing over 7 continental sites that day (max count on Nov 7 was 233 but on Nov 8 a Belgian site had 1169)

Knot: 108 were counted at Pilsey Island (Chichester Harbour) on Sep 11 and 150 were across the water at West Wittering on Sep 28 but on Nov 11 there were 380 in Pagham Harbour seen from Church Norton

Sanderling: 248 were on the south Hayling shore Nov 6

Little Stint: One was at Titchfield Haven on Nov 7 (when a Curlew Sandpiper was seen at Christchurch Harbour). No other sightings of either species this week.

Purple Sandpiper: Other than a flock of 10 seen in Cornwall on Oct 2 there had been no report of more than 4 at any one site until Nov 9 when Tim Doran found 15 at Southsea Castle (last year the first appearance of these birds at Southsea was also on Nov 9 but then only 9 birds were seen)

Long-billed Dowitcher: One arrived at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Nov 8 but almost immediately moved to nearby Radipole before moving again to Axmouth in Devon where it was seen on Nov 9 and 10

Black-tailed Godwit: By Nov 6 there were 20 at Pulborough Brooks and by Nov 10 there were 41 at that inland site

Green Sandpiper: Of local interest it seems that the Langstone area bird is still around this week. I had seen it over the South Moors on Oct 19 and then at Budds Farm on Oct 30. This week on Nov 10 Tony Gutteridge heard and saw it flying over the small water cress bed on the Lymbourne stream just north of the A27

Common Sandpiper: On Nov 6 two were seen at the Lymington Marshes and another two at the Lower Test reserve near Southampton. On Nov 10 I saw one at the mouth of the Hermitage Stream close to the Gravel Quay across the water from Broadmarsh here in Havant

Grey Phalarope: At least eight reports this week include a long staying bird on the Lymington shore and one at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Nov 11. Six were seen off the north coast of Cornwall on Nov 8

Yellow Legged Gull: I tend to leave gull sightings to the experts but it was interesting to read that Brian Fellows almost certainly had one in Emsworth Harbour on Nov 13

Kittiwake: A big westward movement in the English Channel this week produced counts of 2000 passing Dungeness on Nov 8 and more than 1000 off Cornwall on Nov 12 (the latter had probably come south down our west coast). Locally a storm on Nov 8 drove at least 113 of the passing birds into Chichester Harbour to shelter from the wind.

Terns: The second half of this week saw several late birds being driven from the North Sea. On Nov 11 five Sandwich Terns were seen on the north coast of France along with a single Common Tern. Also that day an Arctic Tern was off the Netherlands (with another seen there on Nov 13). Also seen this week was a late Black Tern off France on Nov 7

Guillemot: On Nov 13 more than 100 Guillemots returned to the breeding cliffs at Durlston as they often do during the winter (perhaps for some shelter from winter storms). They will almost certainly all leave again by early March to feed up before returning to breed in April or May

Little Auk: Another mass departure from northern seas produced a count of 1731 birds passing the Farne Islands (Northumberland coast) on Nov 9 but so far there has been no news of any 'wrecks' or other sightings in southern England this week

Stock Dove: The annual dispute between those who consider Wood Pigeons and Stock Doves to be sedentary birds, and that the large numbers seen at this time of year are the result of them gathering in large communal roosts during the winter, and those who believe that the large numbers reflect the passage of migrants, has been strongly voiced this week. My uneducated view is that both parties are right - the majority of the birds which breed in Britain do stay here for the winter but the majority of the birds seen moving along our south coast and flying south from places like Portland have come from parts of the continent where they would not survive the winter. The same reasoning affects the autumn behaviour of almost all bird species - birds breeding in places where food, water, and temperature allow them to survive the winter without migrating do stay but these taking advantage of food availability in northern areas during the summer are forced to move as winter approaches. On Nov 7 2,500 Stock Doves flew over Lodmoor (Weymouth) and another 970 flew over East Bexington to the north of Weymouth with several other sites reporting smaller numbers during the week. Just to complicate the issue some of these immigrants from the continent will settle here for the winter.

Wood Pigeon: On Nov 7 it was estimated that 161,257 of these flew over Poole in Dorset and on Nov 8 more than 50,000 flew over just one of thirteen continental sites reporting 'remarkable' numbers. Here in Hampshire on Nov 7 Barton on Sea (west of Lymington) had 24,950 going over while the Weston Shore on Southampton Water reported 25,870 and Sandy Point on Hayling had 10,100

Swallow: 21 reports this week with two Hampshire reports on Nov 13 - most sightings were of just one or two birds but five were seen near Titchfield on Nov 7

House Martin: Just four reports, all of singles, this week - the last was over Barton on Sea Golf Course (west of Lymington) on Nov 10

Rock Pipit: These are now spread all along our south coast - I found one at the Langstone South Moors shore on Nov 8 and two at the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 10

Yellow Wagtail: What was probably the last for this year was at Barton on Sea on Nov 6. A 'possible' Citrine Wagtail was there on Nov 10

Waxwing: These are now moving south in Britain with reports of 250 at Carlisle on Nov 11 and 36 at a Yorkshire site on Nov 13. These are birds which flew across the North Sea to Scotland and the northern isles but there are now reports of birds in Germany and Belgium which have probably come by an overland route down the east side of the North Sea and birds following this route may well account for a couple of birds heading north over the Plymouth area on Nov 10 - this overland route was already bringing small number of Waxwing into Kent at the end of October

Red-flanked Bluetail: One made a brief visit to Stanley Common (west of Liphook and just inside West Sussex) on Nov 7

Black Redstart: Although these have been arriving at many places in southern England since Sep 10 this week has only now brought reports of birds back at local sites where they regularly winter. On Nov 6 one was back in the Priddy's Hard area of Gosport (near the Explosion museum) and on Nov 10 one was around houses on the Hayling seafront just west of Sandy Point.

Wheatear: One was still in the West Wittering area during the Chichester Harbour WeBS count on Nov 6 and singles were at Portland on both Nov 7 and 10

Ring Ouzel: One was in the Steyning area of West Sussex on Nov 6 and at least two were in the Netherlands on Nov 7. I presume these were all late migrants but one at Bolberry Down in south Devon could be thinking of wintering there as there have been irregular reports of the birds there for a couple of months

Blackbird: The number of these to be seen in local gardens seems to have increased recently and I see that a report from the Netherlands on Nov 8 was of 2435 Blackbirds at just one of 9 continental sites reporting 'remarkable' numbers that day. That count followed reports of 463 at one site on Nov 6 and 687 on Nov 7. Those three days also brought high counts of Fieldfare (max 4859) and Redwing (13556) from the near continent with smaller numbers over here (e.g. 535 Redwings over the Portsmouth Naval Base on Nov 7)

Song Thrush: One burst into full song while I was at Warblington Cemetery on Nov 13 (perhaps rejoicing in its safe arrival at a good place to spend the winter). The first to sing last autumn was also heard on Nov 13 and these birds will sing intermittently for a few weeks but then fall silent and not start spring territorial song until mid January. Portland Bird Observatory had a different reason for mentioning Song Thrush on Nov 12 - the 7,000th bird to be ringed there was a Song Thrush netted on that day

Mistle Thrush: An exceptional report of 73 Mistle Thrushes at Morden Bog in Dorset on Nov 9 was probably another effect of this week's surge of Thrush arrivals

Cetti's Warbler: Of local interest only I heard one sing at Budds Farm here in Havant on Nov 8

Dartford Warbler: At least one was still in the Sinah Common Gorse just east of the mini Golf Course on Nov 10

Blackcap: A phone call from Tony Gutteridge this morning (Nov 14) told me of both Blackcap and Firecrest passing through his Havant garden close to the Billy Trail - neither stopped.

Willow Warbler: This week brought five reports of late birds in southern England, the latest being one at Pagham Harbour on Nov 11

Firecrest: In addition to Tony Gutteridge's sighting on Nov 14 one was in the Church Norton churchyard on Nov 13 and a pair were in a Westbourne garden near Emsworth on Nov 12

Nuthatch: Another local interest report was of a noisy bird in a Wade Court Road garden here in Havant on Nov 12 (Nuthatches seem to shun coastal areas and are uncommon here though common in woods a mile or so from the coast)

Starling: Hundreds were still coming in off the sea at Pett (Rye Bay) on Nov 7 and on Nov 8 2600 flew west over Sandy Point on Hayling (while a Netherlands site had 59450 of them that day)

Brambling: Small flocks are now to be found in Hampshire and Dorset with the biggest being 64 at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 10 and 42 at Durlston on Nov 12. The QE Country Park still had 20 on Nov 9, Weston Shore on Southampton Water had 12 on Nov 7 and there were 3 in the Brownwich area west of Titchfield Haven on Nov 10

Lapland Bunting: Among many reports from all along the south coast I see that there were 7 together near Titchfield Haven on Nov 7 and 15 (with one Snow Bunting) in the Keyhaven area (Lymington) on Nov 13. At least one was at the south Hayling shore on Nov 9.

American Robin: A presumed genuine transatlantic vagrant has been in the Exminster area of Devon from Nov 10 to 13 at least

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

No reports this week

Butterflies

Brimstone: Three seen a Winchester on Nov 8

Small White: Singles of a newly emerged third brood (which would normally have delayed their emergence until next spring?) were seen in the Gosport area on Nov 7 (when one was reported from the Netherlands) and at Winchester on Nov 8

Red Admiral: Eight reports from widespread sites between Nov 6 and 10 (including one report of 4 at Gosport on Nov 7)

Peacock: Seen at West Wittering on Nov 6, on Hayling on Nov 7 and at Harestock (2) in the Winchester area on Nov 8

Comma: Just one in the Henfield area of West Sussex on Nov 6

Speckled Wood: Just one fresh specimen at Gosport on Nov 6

Moths

Late migrants in the Portland traps this week have been Rusty-dot Pearl (four on Nov 6), Pearly Underwing (one on Nov 8 and another despite the wind and rain on Nov 11), White-speck (one on Nov 8). Also of interest at Portland was a Brindled Ochre trapped on Nov 8 - numbers of this species have diminished to the point that this is not seen at Portland every year (and this one was the first for 2010)

Other Insects

Common Wasp: Seen in numbers on Ivy whenever the sun shone - active nests seen at Emsworth on Nov 7 and on the lower slopes of Portsdown in the Wymering area on Nov 10

Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae): Still collecting Ivy pollen at Gosport on Nov 6 to stock their nests with food for their grubs

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidairus): Also active at Gosport on Nov 7

Southern Oak Bush Cricket (Meconema meridionale): Nov 12 brought a first record for Portland of this recent invader of southern England (first seen in 2001). Photos on the Portland website show a pair of orange-red markings on the top of the 'saddle' over the insects thorax which should distinguish it from our common 'all green' Oak Bush Cricket.

Bridge Spider (Larinioides sclopetarius): For many years the webs of this spider have been seen every time I use the underpass taking the Langbrook stream under the A27 near the Langstone roundabout but this week on Nov 8 for the first time I noticed several of the spiders (normally only emerging at night) on their webs - see my diary entry for that day

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Marsh Marigold: One flower still open at the Langstone South Moors 'orchid field' site on Nov 5 where I had found several flowers on Oct 19

Common Dog Violet: Flowering in Beckley Woods north of Hastings on Nov 12

Sweet Violets: Several had resumed flowering in St Faith's churchyard (central Havant) on Nov 13 where I have not seen them since Oct 7

Dog Rose: Having seen one or two flowers out on three dates from Oct 19 to Nov 1 I was surprised to count 25 flowers on three bushes at the Langstone South Moors shore on Nov 8 and then find another near the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 10

Fool's Parsley: Brian Fellows found this re-flowering in Seagull Lane at Emsworth on Nov 11

Burnet Saxifrage: A single late plant was just opening its flowers at the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Nov 10

Wild Angelica: Several wild flower field guides say that the flowers of this species sometimes have a few bracteoles and on Nov 7 Brian Fellows found several of these plants flowering without bracteoles at Brook Meadow in Emsworth but one of the plants had many prominent bracteoles making its flowers very similar to those of Fools Parsley (though the plants were of course much larger)

Wild Primrose: Flowers were out on Nov 12 in the Beckley Woods north of Hastings. Bugle was also found in flower there.

Tomato: A single self sown plant beside the footpath across the Langstone South Moors had an open flower on Nov 5

Hybrid Water Speedwell: Several large fresh plants have recently grown in the Bedhampton springs overflow channel and were starting to flower on Oct 10

Winter Heliotrope: The first two flower heads of the season had started to flower at Wade Court (Langstone) on Nov 8 and by Nov 11 the first flowers were seen in Emsworth

Slender Thistle: One fresh plant flowering near Budds Farm in Havant on Nov 8 was a real surprise

OTHER WILDLIFE

Arion Ater slugs mating on my lawn

Slugs and Snails: This is a great time of year to discover the number and variety of these molluscs in your garden as they enjoy the wet environment but I made an unexpected discovery while putting out food for the birds - see the photo above of a pair of Arion ater slugs mating on my lawn

Hedgehogs: This is also the time of year when many Hedgehogs perish in bonfires or by having their hibernation sites destroyed during the clearance of fallen leaves and dead vegetation in gardens. Mild and wet weather this autumn will probably have reduced deaths from these causes as the Hedgehogs have not settled down to sleep through the winter and are still able to escape the effects of human activity but one cause of death has not been reduced - that is the failure of young Hedgehogs born late in the year (probably in a second brood after the first had already failed) to put on sufficient body weight to see them through the winter. These thoughts came after hearing of an underweight young Hedgehog being found this week in a Bedhampton garden on the eastern slopes of Portsdown and taken to Brent Lodge wildlife hospital at Sidlesham south of Chichester (from which it will probably be sent to a volunteer Hedgehog 'foster parent' who will keep it safe during the winter and release it next spring). Should you have need of their services the phone number for Brent Lodge is 01243 641672 but please remember to give a generous donation in return for the help they give - recently the hospital very nearly closed through lack of funds.

Slow-worm: Another creature that spends the winter in hibernation (usually starting in October) is the Slow-worm but one was still active in the Beckley Woods north of Hastings on Nov 12

Fungi: My own garden lawn has produced two new (for the current year) species this week - the tiny Black Earthtongue (Trichoglossum hirsutum) and the Meadow Waxcap. Meadow Waxcaps have also appeared at Durlston where Trooping Funnelcaps (Clitocybe geotropa) appeared a few days after Brian Fellows found one in the Emsworth Hollybank Woods. Brian also reports the first Wood Blewitt at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Nov 7 when Durlston had Field Blewitt on their list which included Horse Mushrooms. The most colourful find this week was made at Beckley Woods near Hastings on Nov 12 - see http://rxwildlife.org.uk/category/all-latest-news/fungi/ for a photo of the first Orange Peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia)


Wildlife diary and news for Nov 1 - 7 (Week 44 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: All three common species have been seen in small numbers (max five of each) but nothing spectacular so far. St Austell Bay in Cornwall, which is likely to have diver counts exceeding 100 later in the winter, had just one Great Northern and one Black Throated on Nov 5. The only sightings close to my home patch were of a single Great Northern off the east coast of the IoW on Nov 4 and off Selsey Bill on Nov 5

Grebes: A single Red-necked was off Pagham Harbour on Nov 2 and there were still just three Slavonian off Lymington but Black-necked numbers increased slightly with 13 in Studland Bay (Nov 6) and 9 off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Oct 31

Gannet: Plenty of these around for some time but numbers in the English Channel appear to have increased with a report of 9944 birds off a site on the north coast of France on Nov 6

Green Heron: This transAtlantic rarity was still at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (near Mevagissey on the Cornish south coast) on Nov 6 and the American Bittern also remained in Cornwall through the week though on Nov 1 it moved from the Trewey Common pool (where it was first seen around Oct 25) to the Walmsley Sanctuary at Wadebridge

Cattle Egret: The RBA website reported single birds present in 5 different counties on Nov 2 but the nearest to us seems to be one on the north coast of Devon near Bideford

Great White Egret: The Blashford bird was said to be still there on Nov 1 according to Lee Evans but on Nov 3 (when it was not seen at Blashford) one turned up at the Lower Test Marshes (on the other side of the New Forest) where it was a newcomer. Some interesting late news from the Lower Test Marshes is that the flock of 19 Glossy Ibis which flew from Devon to Dungeness on Sep 13 were seen at the Lower Test that day (not stated if they landed there - probably not). Currently one Ibis was still at the estuary of the River Otter near Budleigh Salterton in Devon on Nov 2

Canada Goose: Single leucistic birds (some seeming to be albinos but lacking the pink eye) have been around for years with reports from both north and south Hampshire and now one is back in the Titchfield area, seen on Nov 5 by Steve Copsey among a flock of 220 normal Canadas in the open fields south of Fareham. This bird is possibly a new abberation as it has a pure white body but relatively strong (pale coffee colour) markings on its neck and head reflecting the normal colour pattern of a Canada Goose

Black Brant: The two in the Weymouth area became three on Oct 31 but the extra bird may have flown on east as one turned up in the Netherlands on Nov 6 (first for the winter on continental Europe)

Shelduck: Although adults have been returning from their summer moult since at least Sep 27 (when 40 were seen heading west over Rye Bay) the first substantial count (a flock of 40) from Langstone Harbour did not come until Oct 31 though I had seen 18 off the Warblington shore in Chichester Harbour on Oct 18)

Long-tailed Duck: One has been in Devon for some time but two more have been seen on the south coast this week - one at Portland (Chesil cove) on Nov 3 and one flying east past Worthing on Nov 5

Velvet Scoter: Although a few have been with us since mid Sep (with a surge passing through in mid October - 13 at a Netherlands site on Oct 14 and 12 thereabouts on Oct 17) a sighting of 2 in Poole Harbour on Nov 4 may indicate that some are now settling for the winter on our south coast

Hobby: This week's AutumnWatch TV programme showed a Hobby making a close pass at a White-tailed Sea Eagle over the Scottish Isle of Mull, eliciting the remark that this was a very late date to see a Hobby, I see that one was still in the New Forest on Nov 6 (regular sightings along our south coast ceased on Oct 20 when one was over the Isle of Wight)

Quail: Ringers at Portland caught one on Nov 6 - you can judge the size of the bird from the photo of one in the hand on the Portland website ( http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm )

Stone Curlew: Another surprise sighting of an uncommon migrant was that of a Stone Curlew at Dungeness on Nov 2

Baird's Sandpiper: Late news from Simon King (warden of the HWT Lower Test reserve, not the better known TV personality) that has just come out is of the only sighting of a Baird's Sandpiper that I am aware of this year - Simon saw it at Ibsley Water near Ringwood on Oct 11

Purple Sandpiper: Other than the odd sighting of two at Farlington Marshes on Sep 25 the nearest to the Portsmouth area is of one at Shoreham Fort (west end of Brighton shore) on Nov 5 after two had been seen near the mouth of Poole Harbour on Oct 31

Black-tailed Godwit: The WeBS count at the Thorney Island Great Deeps on Nov 6 recorded 224 Blackwits. This is almost certainly not the total number of Blackwits in Chichester Harbour as on Nov 1 there were 300+ feeding in the Bosham channel area with another 150 at Nore Barn (west of Emsworth) and no doubt smaller flocks elsewhere in Chichester Harbour. I suspect that some of the birds feeding in Chichester Harbour fly some distance to high tide roosts elsewhere in Langstone and perhaps Pagham Harbours.

Whimbrel: What are almost certainly wintering birds were one at the Weston shore of Southampton Water on Nov 4 and two on the southern tip of the Devon shore (Kingsbridge) on Nov 5

Grey Phalarope: Eight more reports this week including one at Sandy Point, Hayling Island, on Nov 2 and the long staying bird on the Lymington shore on Nov 5. An indication that we may be nearing the end of their autumn passage is a report of 59 from a Spanish site on Nov 1

Lesser Blackback Gull: The number spending the night at the Blashford Lakes in the Avon valley was estimated to be at least 10,000 on Nov 2 - I guess these all spend the day in inland fields and I would love to know how wide an area they spread out over.

Iceland Gull: First report of one that I have seen this autumn comes from a Netherlands site on Nov 1 (in contrast I have seen seven reports of Glaucous Gull with the first from Belgium on Sep 19 and several more recent sightings from south Devon)

Kittiwake: On Oct 31 more than 1000 flew west past Dungeness and on Nov 2 Selsey Bill saw 2000 pass in three hours (70 were seen feeding off Sandy Point on Hayling that day)

Sandwich Tern: Eight were seen from Farlington Marshes on Nov 1 and eight were off Pilsey in Chichester Harbour on Nov 5. These are probably intending to stay for the winter but 3+ off the Netherlands and one passing Christchurch Harbour, both on Nov 6, were probably late migrants as were a single Arctic Tern at Sandwich Bay on Nov 6 and a Black Tern at a Netherlands site, also on Nov 6

Little Auk: One was a good sighting in Christchurch Harbour on Nov 4

Wood Pigeon: The biggest count of passage birds this week was of 25,513 over a Netherlands site on Nov 2 but Southampton did well with 17,420 in 40 minutes on Nov 3 (Sandy Point on Hayling had 12,700 on Nov 1)

Short Eared Owl: Two had been seen from Farlington Marshes on Oct 23 and 24. One was hunting over Farlington Marshes again on Oct 31, Nov 1 and Nov 6. Plenty of others all along the south coast.

Woodlark: Plenty still moving on the near continent with counts of 129 on Oct 31, 26 on Nov 2 and 71 on Nov 6 - perhaps the arrival of some over here caused one to give full song in defence of its territory in the New Forest on Nov 6 (I am aware that these birds leave their breeding territories to winter near the coast but maybe this one was still on territory)

Swallow: 18 reports between Nov 1 and 6 show that Swallows have not all left yet, but a maximum count for the week of 8 at Folkestone on Nov 3 also shows that the majority have departed. Locally one was seen in Southsea on Nov 3, three were at St Catherine's Point on the IoW on Nov 5 and five were over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 6

House Martin: Just four reports this week with the last at Rye Harbour on Nov 4

Yellow Wagtail: What was probably the last of the year was a single at Berry Head in south Devon on Oct 30

Waxwing: Numbers still increasing and the birds now moving south out of Scotland. On Nov 3 Lee Evans estimated the total number in the UK as over 6,000 and told us they were moving south in flocks of up to 2,000. On Nov 5 the RBA website said that the species was currently being reported from 37 different counties.

Red Flanked Bluetail: Latest crowd drawer is one at the Dungeness RSPB reserve where one arrived on Nov 6. Since the Sandy Point bird arrived on Oct 18 others have been seen in the Scillies, at Lowestoft in Suffolk and on the Pembrokeshire island of Skomer

Whinchat: A late bird was seen on the Scillies on Oct 29

Wheatear: Singles seen at Rye Harbour on Nov 4 and south Devon on Nov 6

Ring Ouzel: Last so far was one on the Sussex Downs (with a flock of 50 Corn Buntings) on Nov 6

Blackbird: Another wave of arrivals from the continent on Nov 1 when 100 were seen at Christchurch Harbour (with 70 Song Thrushes and 110 Redwings) and more than 70 were at Sandwich Bay. On Nov 6 a total of 443 Blackbirds was at a Netherlands site - over here that day one was heard singing at Pulborough Brooks

Fieldfare: More of these reached us on Nov 1 when 60 were on the north Kent coast, 45 were seen at Andover and on Nov 2 a Belgian site reported 661

Bearded Tit: More than 100 were seen at the Kent Stour valley on Oct 30 and its worth a visit to http://www.kentos.org.uk/Stodmarsh/october2010.htm for the pictures (including part of a flock of 38 birds out in the open picking up seeds from the ground plus a magnificent photo of a male taking pride of place at the head of that month's sightings)

Great Grey Shrike: By now there seem to be at least four birds at different sites in the New Forest with at least on in Dorset and another in Devon

Raven: On Nov 1 some 60 Ravens emerged from a communal winter roost, not in remote Wales but in Mattiscombe valley in Devon

Starling: Maybe we have seen the peak of the autumn invasion of southern England by Starlings - on Oct 27 we had the highest count I know of this autumn when 135,696 were seen at a Netherlands site but this week the top count was only 104,033 on Oct 31, decreasing to 44,485 on Nov 2. As if to emphasise the point one tired incoming bird off the Worthing seafront was forced down and killed by gulls when just a few hundred yards from the safety of the shore

Brambling: After reports from the QE Country Park (near Petersfield) of 4 Brambling on Nov 2 and then 6 on Nov 3 the count on Nov 5 shot up to an estimated 50 among the Chaffinches, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Hopefully the great crop of Beechmast will give us even larger local flocks of Brambling with numbers in the low hundreds (a Netherlands site had 1512 on Nov 2)

Greenfinch: Disease has decimated the number of Greenfinch on our south coast over recent years and this was noticed by Brian Fellows when the first mixed flock of passerines went through his Emsworth garden this week without any Greenfinch among them. The disease does not seem to have been as destructive of birds on the continent and there have been three 1,000+ flocks reported from Germany since Oct 15 with a flock of 1595 birds on Oct 23 and 1029 on Nov 2. This reservoir of healthy birds has brought flocks of around 120 back to Lymington this week and of 182 to Thanet on Oct 18 and 196 at Sandwich on Oct 19

Corn Bunting: The number of these has also diminished greatly as residents in southern England (not sure of the reason but probably more to do with agricultural practices than with disease) but a good number still come to us each winter and this week a flock of 50 was on the Sussex Downs on Nov 6 (well above the previous top count this autumn of 30 elsewhere in Sussex in mid October)

Escapees: Two new species (or hybrids) came to my attention this week through Brian Fellows. First was his find of four Black East Indies ducks on the Fishery Lake holiday camp duckpond near the south east Hayling shore during his Nov 6 WeBS counts. Brian did not have time to take a photo of them but has given us a link to pictures at http://www.ashtonwaterfowl.net/bantam_ducks.htm - this tells us that the group of Bantam ducks to which these birds belong are sold more as pets than for egglaying or meat. Another aspect of this species is revealed at http://dippyducks.blogspot.com/ which tells us that the green on the head is the result of a sheen of oil generated by glands on the duck's head - when dry the feathers would all be jet black - and it also emphasises an aspect of this group of 'call ducks' which may or may not be desireable in a pet - continual quacking!

The other new-to-me species is the Swoose (or Swan/Goose hybrid) which was brought to my attention by Brian Fellows when he passed on news he got from Peter Drury. Peter found a strange hybrid between a Mute Swan and a Greylag Goose in Aug 2009 on the River Piddle at Wool in Dorset and his pictures spurred Dave Appleton to have a look at the birds this year. See Peter's account at http://www.imageinuk.com/Other/Adopted-Goose-with-Swans/10639789_vHtzS#627399338_gR37v and Dave's comments at http://www.gobirding.eu/Photos/Swoose.php which include other examples of hybridisation between Swans and Geese (I assume in all cases a male Swan and a female Goose though this is only stated explicitly for one pair)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: A pair was mating at Gilkicker (Gosport area) on Nov 1 and another single was flying in south Devon on Nov 3

Common Darter: Sightings on Nov 1 at Gosport (4) and Portland (a few) with another group of four in the Thanet area of Kent. Several still flying in Thanet on Nov 3

Butterflies

Brimstone: One near Basingstoke on Nov 3

Large White: Late news of one at Swalecliffe on the north Kent coast on Oct 25

Small White: One near Fort Widley on Portsdown on Oct 27

Small Copper: Five reports this week from Gilkicker (Gosport) on Oct 27, 30 and Nov 1 when four were seen. Thorney Island then produced singles on Nov 1 and 3

Common Blue: One seen at Gilkicker on Oct 27 with two there on Oct 30

Holly Blue: The season for these went from July 20 to Sep 25 this year but we also had two 'odd' reports of one seen Mar 6 (reported as a probable only) and another now of a fresh specimen at the Lower Test Marshes near Southampton on Nov 3

Red Admiral: Seen up to Nov 1 at least

Painted Lady: Two reports on Nov 1 - a definite sighting at Gosport and a probable on Portsdown

Small Tortoiseshell: One in the Basingstoke area on Nov 3

Peacock: One on Thorney Island on Nov 1

Comma: One near Lewes on Oct 30

Speckled Wood: Four sightings with the last two on Nov 3 (at Sandwich Bay and Seaford)

Wall Brown: A single seen at Gilkicker (Gosport) on Oct 30

Moths

Diamond-back Moth: Immigrant arriving at Portland on Oct 30

Rusty-dot Pearl: Immigrant arriving at Portland on Nov 3

December Moth: First of the season at Edburton north of the Brighton Downs on Nov 3

The Gem: Also at Edburton on Nov 3

Feathered Thorn: Another first of the season at Edburton north of the Brighton Downs on Nov 3

Dark Sword-grass: Another immigrant arriving at Portland on Oct 30

The Sprawler: First appearance of this late year moth at Rye Harbour on Oct 31

Blair's Shoulder-knot: Another first appearance at Rye Harbour on Nov 3

Flame Brocade: A good find at Portland on Oct 31 of a moth which was once resident in Sussex but is now restricted to the Channe Isles with occasional forays across the channel - this was the second to visit Portland this autumn

The Satellite: First autumn appearance was at Rye Harbour on Nov 3 (probably others have been seen elsewhere as this moth normally emerges in September)

Red-line Quaker: A few seen at Rye Harbour on Nov 3 - this is another species normally appearing from September on

Large Wainscot: Several at Rye Harbour on Nov 3 - possibly its last appearance for the year as the species flies from August to October

Silver Y: This common migrant was still turning up at Portland on Nov 4

Other Insects

Drone Flies and Common Wasps were still numerous around Ivy flower throughout the week

Oak Bush Cricket: A female seen on Portsdown on Oct 27

Stag Beetle larva: A gardener dug one up in a Havant garden on Nov 6 - luckily the gardener recognised it and ceased disturbing the area while the owners of the garden searched the internet for advice on what to do with the disturbed larva. They found an excellent source of information and advice at http://maria.fremlin.de/stagbeetles/lindex.html and I put them in touch with both the Hampshire Wildlife Trust 'Wild Line' and the Hampshire Biodiversity centre (plus the south Hampshire Beetle Recorder) so I guess that they will soon become the local experts on the subject

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

44 plant species in flower so far in November but many of them coming to the end of their flowering season (in particular I was surprised to have difficulty in finding a single flower on Dwarf Gorse in Havant Thicket though Devils Bit Scabious was still flourishing there and both Ling Heather and Cross-leaved Heath were still to be found).

At Durlston Ploughman's Spikenard was still in flower.

When we next have a few days of frost I will expect (soon after it) to find Winter Heliotrope starting to flower but there is no sign of it yet

OTHER WILDLIFE

Moles: Arriving at the Havant Thicket carpark on Nov 6 the first thing I noticed was several large fresh Molehills in the grass beside the parking bays and this set me wondering if there was any special reason for this at the present time of year. It's too early for the start of their breeding season in March and there has been no sudden change in the dampness of the ground so I can only conclude that one or more Moles have recently moved into this area (where I have not seen any Molehills on previous visits). As Moles are very solitary creatures the presence of several in one area is unlikely, and as the young leave their birth chamber in mid-summer (mating in the March to May period with 30 days gestation and 35 days 'childhood' brings us to the May to July period for dispersal of the young), I guess that something has recently happened at this Mole's previous home to cause it to leave - a fanciful guess would be that someone had managed to capture an unwanted Mole in their garden and, rather than kill it, they had brought it here and released it in the carpark area....

Fungi: Surprisingly few reports this week though there is one highlight - the find of Clathrus Ruber (Red Cage) at Durlston. If you are not familiar with this strange and colourful fungus have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrus_ruber This fungus has been reported at Durlston at least twice in recent years (11 May 2007 and 5 Oct 2008) and this time (5 Nov 2010) it was found among the roots of a Holm Oak. The report added that the species was a Victorian introduction to this country but I have so far not found any support for this statement - it is said to have been spreading north for many years and I read one account of it arriving in a garden in the earth around the roots of Bamboo plants (and I suspect there have been many similar unwitting introductions with other plants) but the only connection with the Victorians that I can find is that Google has multiple entries concerning the introduction of the fungus to the Australian state of Victoria but none suggesting that the fungus was perhaps brought to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight for the amusement of Queen Victoria (though that might fit in with what I believe to be true - that the fungus is relatively common on the Isle of Wight).

Another newcomer to the fungal scene this week was Clitocybe geotropa (Trooping Funnel) found in Hollybank Woods north of Emsworth by Brian Fellows.


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 25 - 31 (Week 43 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

This weeks highlights must include the Waxwing invasion which had brought 5400 of them to Scotland alone by Oct 30. On Oct 29 an Albatross species flew along the Norfolk coast and 3908 Little Auks went by the Isle of May in one hour. The Scillies are now hosting their annual rare bird show and reports from Cornwall and Pulborough Brooks have made me aware that Peregrines come in several races. The Three Amigos blog (by three naval friends based in Portsmouth - http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ) continues to feature their finds during a combined services bird survey in Cyprus while Cliff Dean's blog ( http://rxbirdwalks.wordpress.com/ ) also emphasises the world wide aspects of local bird watching - he writes of the benefit he received after a recent operation from a drug which is the main culprit in the near extinction of the Indian Vulture. These thoughts also remind me that I should update the Links page of my website which does not mention either of these nor reflect this weeks change of address for John Goodspeeds site.

The other highlight of the week is the sudden increase in Fungi which I found when I joined a local Foray to the 'Sling' area of Stansted Forest on Friday and saw the Hedgehog-like Spiny Puffballs and the realistic five fingered shape of a coal black hand reaching up from the putative 'Dead Man' under the Forest floor (I have put some amateurish photos of these and other fungi on my Diary page for Oct 29)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: This week Red-throated Divers have been seen in ones and twos at Torbay in Devon, Durlston, Christchurch Harbour and Portland in Dorset, Rye Harbour (where four flew west) and Rye Bay in Sussex and Sandwich Bay in Kent. The biggest count was of 23 on the German coast. One Black-throated off Puckpool (Isle of Wight) was the only southern England sighting and nowhere on the near continent was more than one seen. Great Northern did slightly better with singles as close to us as Milford on Sea in the Lymington area and the sea off Pagham Harbour plus six other reports from southern England

Great Crested Grebe: The flock in Rye Bay was up to some 150 birds on Oct 24

Slavonian Grebe: Up to three off the Lymington marshes on Oct 25 when one was also seen off Brownwich in the Titchfield area

Black-necked Grebe: The first winter flock in Langstone Harbour was six birds off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Oct 24 (and five were in Studland Bay, Dorset, on Oct 25). The Langstone Harbour flock was up to 9 birds on Oct 31

Little Shearwater: One reported off the Cornish coast at Pendeen on Oct 23, presumably one of the North Atlantic species which breeds in the Canary Isles and not the species of the southern oceans. This may have been the single male which was heard calling at night from the steep cliffs of Lundy in the Bristol Channel in June

Cormorant: See the Other Wildlife section for the account of how one narrowly escaped being eaten by a Seal in the mouth of the Hermitage stream at Broadmarsh

Bittern: One at the Lower Test Marshes on Oct 27 was a first for this winter at that site (which does not normally host Bitterns in any winter)

American Bittern: One probably arrived at Trewey Common pool in the Zennor area of Cornwall around Oct 24 but it was not until Oct 28 that birders who had seen it realised that it was a transatlantic vagrant species called Botaurus lentiginosus which has only been recorded 37 times in England (plus 22 times in Ireland), this being the first time since one was in Cornwall in 1999. It was still present on Oct 30.

Green Heron: Also still present on Oct 29 at the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey in Cornwall is the transatlantic Green Heron - still there despite my entry in last week's summary indicating that it might have left on Oct 23

Cattle Egret: The only ones currently being reported in southern England are two birds seen in the Scillies on Oct 23 though there was one in Wales this week

Glossy Ibis: In southern England Devon has a monopoly of this species with one at the Exminster Marshes and another just along the coast on the River Otter near Budleigh Salterton

Spoonbill: Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour still had its group of 14 birds on Oct 26 but other singles were at Hayle on the Cornish coast, Tresco in the Scillies and the Oare Marshes in north Kent. A count of 21 at a Netherlands site on Oct 20 may signal more on their way here.

Bewick's Swan: Still only 4 at Slimbridge but 219 in the Netherlands on Oct 30 is by far the highest count so far

Whooper Swan: Slimbridge had just one on Oct 28 but Radipole (Weymouth) has had a family of four from Oct 24 to 28 and Poole Harbour had 5 juveniles on Oct 27 while singles seem to have settled in both Devon and Cornwall

Black Brant: Weymouth remains the only site to be reporting Brant - normally one at Ferrybridge but two were there on Oct 8 and 23

Egyptian Goose: The only reports of these in Sussex that I have picked up this autumn are of 6 in the Cuckmere Valley on Sep 19 and now 12 at Shopham Bridge north of Henfield on the R Adur.

Ruddy Shelduck: A single bird has attached itself to some of the Brent in Langstone Harbour recently and is worth a mention as on Oct 30 it was seen with 48 Brent on the grass set aside for winter feeding Brent by the Tangier Road in eastern Portsmouth - an earlier than usual indication of Brent moving to inland grass and away from the harbour Eel Grass

Mandarin: A flock of 51 at Stratfield Saye/Wellington Country Park in north Hampshire was the highest count there since Sep 1987 when 72 birds were present

Gadwall: The population of these in southern England continues to grow - on Oct 27 there wer 225 on Dogmersfield Lake west of Fleet in north Hampshire and in the south of the county a few turned up in south Hayling where they had previously been almost unknown

Pintail: The first three figure count in southern England this winter was of 125 at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 28 (previous high there was 75 on Oct 14). On Oct 24 a Netherlands site had 250

Eider: The flock on the sea off Tichfield Haven increased to around 25 on Oct 29 after a count of more than 20 at Lymington on Oct 25 and a sighting of 15 flying east past the mouth of Southampton Water on Oct 26

Long-tailed Duck: One had been seen on the sea off the west Dorset coast on Sep 26 and on Oct 29 a female turned up in the Exmouth area

Velvet Scoter: This week one was at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 24 and two were at Dungeness on Oct 27

Goldeneye: Dorset had its first on Oct 24 when two were in Poole Harbour. Elsewhere this week there have been reports of one in Devon, a newcomer joining the two already at the Blashford Lakes and two at Rye Harbour

Red-breasted Merganser: A flock of 20 was off Pilsey Island in Chichester Harbour on Oct 25

Goosander: One was briefly in Pagham Harbour on Oct 24 before flying on west, maybe to Weymouth were one was at Radipole Lake on Oct 26. Also on Oct 24 two turned up at the Burrater reservoir in Devon

Honey Buzzard: A late juvenile was seen near Lands End in Cornwall on Oct 27

Red Kite: On Oct 29 two separate birds were seen over the A272 west of Petersfield in the Langrish/Stroud area

Osprey: One was still in Langstone Harbour on Oct 23 and 24 but the only other report I have seen this week is of one in Belgium on Oct 29

Hobby: The only two reports this week were of single birds in the Netherlands on Oct 23 and 24

Tundra Peregrine: A bird which is thought to be of a North American subspecies has been in the Scillies since Oct 7 and on Oct 26 it killed and ate a Kestrel See http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/identification.html for information about this subspecies (Falco peregrinus tundrius) and a lot of general info about Falcons. Also this week birders have been discussing the possibility that a Peregrine seen in the Pulborough area might be another northern subspecies (Falco peregrinus calidus) from the Eurasian tundra. For more on this one go to Subspecies section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peregrine_Falcon

Avocet: These are still moving west across our south coast though it is possible that the small flock at Farlington Marshes (11 there on Oct 17 and 17 there on Oct 23) may be intending to stay there for the winter

Golden Plover: More than 500 were at Pagham Harbour on Oct 27 and other south coast flocks this week have included 400 at Rye Harbour on Oct 24 and 262 in the Warsash/Hook area

Woodcock: These are continuing to arrive in southern England from the continent but usually travel alone. Reports are of one coming in off the sea at Reculver (Herne Bay in north Kent) on Oct 25 when another was at Dungeness and four more were on the shore at Sandwich Bay

Black-tailed Godwit: A group of six were seen well inland at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 28 - these are the first there since two dropped in on their way south on Aug 1 (the current birds are assumed to have moved inland from our coast as many of the wintering birds do when food runs short in our harbours)

Green Sandpiper: Of local interest I guessed that one had moved into the Havant area when I saw one over the Langstone South Moors on Oct 19 and on Oct 30 I saw one at the nearby Budds Farm pools which might be the same bird

Grey Phalarope: Thirteen reports this week indicate a peak in their autumn passage. The Portland website this week carried a close up photo of one taken from a Kayak canoe!

Little Gull: Along with most species of seabird that spend the summer in northern latitudes Little Gulls are moving south and a peak count of 1710 at one French site on Oct 24 shows they are now in a hurry to get away. On our side of the Channel the best count was of 50 at Reculver on the north Kent coast but Portland did have 10 on Oct 26

Ring-billed Gull: One has been at Gosport's 'Cockle Pond' each winter since 2002/2003, turning up this year on Oct 28 for at least its eighth year (as the species is known to be able to live to at least 27 this is unlikely to be its last appearance). I think this bird may have been using the area for longer than is recorded - its residence 'officially' started on Nov 20 in 2003 and there were no sightings there in 2002 but one was seen at nearby Gilkicker Point on May 5 in 2001 (the 2003 sightings were already of an adult)

Sandwich Tern: Four seen off the north shore of Hayling Island on Oct 23 were probably intending to winter locally but 250 at a northern French site were presumably migrants, as were 3 at Dungeness on Oct 27, 1 in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 28 and another at Dungeness on Oct 29

Common Tern: Also presumed to be migrants were three in the Southampton Docks on Oct 28 and one off Beachy Head on Oct 30

Little Auk: Six reports from the English Channel during the week had none of more than 4 birds but on Oct 29 there was a one hour count of 3,908 passing the Isle of May so we may soon be seeing a lot more

Stock Dove: On Oct 24 Dungeness recorded 330 and 175 were seen at Church Norton in the Pagham Harbour area. Oct 25 brought more than 100 past the Climping area near Worthing and also 160 over Christchurch Harbour (with 3138 at a Netherlands site that day)

Wood Pigeon: This week started with 7956 at a Belgian site on Oct 24 when 810 were seen over Southampton Water. Oct 25 was busier with 72,770 over one Netherlands site, 7,000 over Christchurch Harbour, 5,800+ at Climping near the mouth of the R Arun and the first reports of passage from Devon where 1250 were seen along the south coast. On Oct 27 the Pagham North Walls area reported 1600, Oct 29 brought 33,094 over Belgium and saw 1300 over Southampton city centre. Latest news is of 8,026 over the Barton on Sea area west of Lymington on Oct 31

Turtle Dove: Singles were seen at Portland on Oct 24 and in the Scillies on Oct 25

Cuckoo: An adult has been in the Ogdens Purlieu area of the New Forest (near South Gorley and Ringwood) from Oct 25 to 30 at least, eating juicy Fox Moth caterpillars. There has been some inconclusive discussion that it may be an Oriental Cuckoo - if so I think that would be a new species for Britain

Short-eared Owl: These have been arriving in southern England since Sep 1 when one was at Seaford near Beachy Head but the first report of them in Langstone Harbour (two hunting over Farlington Marshes and the RSPB Islands) did not come until Oct 23 and 24. On Oct 25 one was hunting over the Pilsey area of Thorney Island (where the only previous report this autumn was of one flying in from the south on Oct 9)

Swift species: One was seen in Belgium and another at Portland, both on Oct 30

Wryneck: One still in the Scillies on Oct 25

Calandra Lark: The BTO has only 20 records of this vagrant on its Birdfacts webpage but that number is now 21 with one at Spurn Point on Oct 28

Sand Martin: Last of the year so far was one over Durlston on Oct 28

Swallow: 65 at Durlston on Oct 28 followed by one in the Titchfield area on Oct 29 (when there were 13 at Lymington and 2 at Christchurch Harbour), then one at Beachy Head on Oct 30 when 14 were at Durlston.

House Martin: Latest so far was one at Durlston on Oct 30

Water Pipit: Last week brought the first into our local area with 4 at the Lower Test Marshes on Oct 22 and this week one has been seen in the Brownwich area near Titchfield Haven on Oct 30

Yellow Wagtail: Probably the last for the year was at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 24

Waxwing: The RBA website reports a total of 5,400 in Scotland on Oct 30 and I have picked up 21 other reports during the past week, mostly of small numbers moving north through Kent - hopefully we will soon be seeing reports in Hampshire and Sussex like that from a suburban housing area at Gravesend in Kent where 20 were perched on TV aerials on Oct 27

Ring Ouzel: These were seen in small numbers daily throughout the week up to Oct 29 when one was in a Lee on the Solent garden

Fieldfare: Hampshire had a few of these on Oct 26 but nothing to compare to the 12050 at a Netherlands site that day - we had 1050 in the Miles Hill area south of Fleet, 40 in nearby Farnborough and 21 on Wheely Down at Warnford in the Meon valley. Latest news is of more than 80 in the New Forest on Oct 30

Redwing: The highest count in southern England this week was of 2,270 in the Fleet area on Oct 26

Reed Warbler: One was at the Milton Lakes in Southsea on Oct 25 (and a single Sedge Warbler was at Slimbridge on Oct 28)

Dartford Warbler: These continue to be seen all along the south coast as they disperse from breeding areas - latest report is of one (in the Brownwich area near Titchfield on Oct 30) which was making continuous subsong

Blackcap: The continental birds which will winter with us are almost certainly now arriving. On Oct 25 a report from the Beachy Head area was of one associating with Robins thought to be new in from the continent and on Oct 30 one was in Southampton City centre while another was in a Southsea garden

Bearded Tit: Their autumn dispersal is not yet over - on Oct 24 birds were seen high flying but returning to the reeds at Newhaven (Ouse estuary) and on Oct 25 three flew high south from the Thorney Island Great Deeps. Also on Oct 25 two were seen at the Milton Lakes in Southsea where they are unlikely to stay. On Oct 28 some high flying was seen in the Kent Stour Valley

Great Tit: At least eight reports from the near continent are of both Blue and Great Tits in numbers exceeding 100 - on Oct 30 a German site reported a count of 4412 Great Tits

Penduline Tit: One was at Dungeness on Oct 23 and 27

Red-backed Shrike: A juvenile still in the Scillies on Oct 25

Great Grey Shrike: One remains at Morden Bog in Dorset and in the New Forest there are probably two in the Bishops Dyke area plus one in Black Gutter Bottom and another on Ocknell Plain

Jackdaw: Still moving in large numbers with 724 over Milton Common in Southsea on Oct 25 when 400 went over Christchurch Harbour. On Oct 27 an estimated 470 went over Berry Head on the south Devon coast

Carrion Crow: A photo on the Portland website (below the entry for Oct 31) shows a Crow with an abberation in its plumage that has become increasingly common in the past thirty years and which will possibly become the standard dress for all Crows in the future. When I first saw 'white winged Crows' in the 1980s I read that the abberation had started in the Channel Isles and was induced by their diet there (maybe it is something to do with the increasing use of sea shores and marine food by Crows?) but this photo is conclusive proof that I was wrong in suggesting that the white was not actually the colour of the feather barbs but rather the absence of barbs in sections of each feather where the 'cellophane wrapping' (which encloses all bird feathers while they are still pushing out of the flesh during regrowth after moult) had failed to break, leaving the black barbs invisible and 'see through' gaps in the wings giving an impression of white colour - my theory was based on finding, in a period of severe winter weather, the corpse of a Crow which I had seen flying around with 'white wing bands' and seeing the cellophane wrapping on the wings of this dead bird.

Hooded Crow: One at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Oct 28 was said to be the first there since 2005 - it was probably the same bird which had arrived at the South Foreland on the previous day

Starling: More of these birds appear each day as the huge numbers on the continent cross the channel. On Oct 26 a Netherlands site reported 121,410 and on Oct 30 there were 135,696 over there

Rose Coloured Starling: Neither the Newhaven nor the Lepe birds have been reported since Oct 26

Brambling: This winter is bringing more Bramblings than I can recall into southern England - Lee Evans tells us of a flock of 400+ already at a Suffolk site and peak counts on the continent were 6144 on Oct 29 and 7939 on Oct 30

Goldfinch: These are still being seen in huge numbers - Durlston had 2,230 on Oct 28. I think these are heading for places like Portland from which they will fly south

Bullfinch: Although these feature regularly in 'viz mig' counts I was surprised to see a count of 88 at a Dorset site on Oct 25 (and 89 at a German site on Oct 29)

Hawfinch: 84 at a Belgian site on Oct 29 was the highest count I have seen so far this autumn

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Just two reports this week - both of Common Darters seen on Oct 25 at Emsworth and Langstone

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Two (maybe three) in the Brownwich area near Titchfield Haven on Oct 25

Small White: Last report from Ropley near Alton on Oct 24

Small Copper: Still three reports, the last being of three insects on Thorney Island on Oct 25

Red Admiral: At least 7 reports up to Oct 27 (including 14 seen at Newhaven on Oct 24)

Small Tortoiseshell: Two reports with the latest at Brownwich (Titchfield) on Oct 25

Peacock: Just one at Newhaven on Oct 24

Speckled Wood: Two reports with the latest at Edburton (north of the Sussex Downs) on Oct 28

Moths

A few items that caught my eye this week were ..

Migrants still arriving at Portland up to Oct 29 at least were Rusty-dot Pearl, Dark Sword-grass, Cosmopolitan, and Silver Y

November Moth: The first I know of was at Edburton on Oct 28

Other Insects

Gorse Shield Bug: 10 were seen on Gorse at Rye Harbour in bright sunshine on Oct 30

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Sweet Alison: This garden escape was flowering on the roadside of Southmoor Lane outside Budds Farm on Oct 30

Pale Flax: Still flowering at Durlston on Oct 26

Musk Mallow: Freshly flowering in the Broadmarsh area on Oct 30

Least Yellow Sorrel: Just one flower still open at the Langstone site on Oct 25

Tufted Vetch: Still flowering by Harts Farm Way in Havant on Oct 30

Hawthorn: As expected after seeing flowers on Haw laden trees at two local sites last week the regular 'winter flowering tree' by the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park had flowers on Oct 25

Dog Rose: On Oct 19 I saw the first winter flower in the Langstone South Moors area and on Oct 28 two more flowers were out on different bushes in that same area

Blackberry: Not only are flowers still out in many places but on Oct 28 I saw fresh berries looking good enough to eat

Sticky Groundsel: One plant flowering on the roadside grass at the north end of Southmoor Lane on Oct 28

Bee Orchid: My first sight of the expected winter leaves of a plant in Mill Lane at Langstone was on Oct 28

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fox: A birder in the Newhaven area writes of being woken at 4:30am on Oct 25 by sounds as if two foxes were killing each other in his garden and this made me wonder if Foxes had already started their breeding season when they can become very vocal but a Google search took me to http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#breeding which backs my impression that the breeding season does not begin until the end of December. Another web page describing the Fox life cycle ( http://www.thefoxwebsite.org/ecology/ecologylifecycle.html ) says .. "Already in early autumn, the cubs are fully grown and cannot easily be distinguished from an adult fox. The family group starts to break up, fighting increases and some of the youngsters disperse."

Weasel: The Sandwich Bay bird observatory website diary had an intriguing entry on Oct 29 when a Weasel was seen to encounter a Mouse but in the ensuing fracas the Mouse apparently escaped - I can only assume this was a young Weasel born this year and still learning his trade as a ruthless killer

Porpoise: A group of six seen from Berry Head in south Devon on Oct 29 contained four juveniles suggesting to someone more familiar with birds than cetaceans that this was a family group with mother, father and four of their young but my understanding is that a female Porpoise never has more than one calf every two years, starting when she is four years old, and I am pretty sure these animals do not form pairs but come together in ad hoc groups (or 'pods')

Common Seal: On Oct 27 one was hunting in the 'gravel quay pool' off Broadmarsh Slipway causing a Cormorant that was also fishing there to make a very hasty exit from the water into the air when it became aware of the Seal which could easily have killed and eaten it. This incident reminded me of hearing, some years ago, of Seals in Langstone Harbour predating diving duck and, after catching one (perhaps by coming up underneath them as they swam on the surface) tossing it in the air rather as a Cat will play with a Mouse it has caught (or as Killer Whales do to Seals in order to make BBC Natural History films more gruesome)

Brown Hare: The number of these to be found in my home area around Havant has diminished greatly in the past 30 years or so but at least two were seen in the fields north of Pagham Harbour on Oct 29

Fungi: I found a good list of species in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Oct 29 and The Sling area of Stansted Forest (close to Rowlands Castle) on Oct 30 and I list below some of the species seen (I have put accounts of these outings, with some photos, on my Diary pages)

Shaggy Parasol (Macrolepiota rhacodes) - said to grow under conifers and I found several of them doing this in Hollybank while others were happy with broad leaved trees in Stansted

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) - just starting to appear at Stansted

Clouded Funnel (Clitocybe nebularis) - at least one large troop found in Stansted

Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystine) - so far I have only come across one in Stansted

Butter Cap (Collybia butryacea) - very common the Hollybank Woods

Common Bonnet (Mycena galericulata) - when looking at this in Stansted I was told of the connection between the name Mycena for this genus and the 'Boars Tusk' Helmets worn by ancient Greek soldiers - see my Diary entry

Lilac Bonnet (Mycena pura) - a fairly common and very attractive toadstool found in Stansted

Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda) - one extra large specimen found in Hollybank making itself difficult to identify by not having any of the lilac colour expected on its gills (probably as a result of its age!)

Shaggy Scalecap (Pholiota squarrosa) - a very attractive species that I have not seen for many years until I was shown it at Stansted

Magpie Fungus (Coprinus picaceus) - the Magpie aspect of this Inkcap species lies in its bold black and white colouring - this species can be found each year at Stansted

Variable Oysterling (Crepidotus variabilis) - These small 'oyster shell shaped' fungi grow under dead twigs - in some cases the 'stems' of the fungi appear to be attached to the top of the caps in order to allow the gills to face downward so that the spores can fall to the ground (or be blown to other twigs)

Bracket species - I think several different species were seen in Stansted though I have great difficulty in identifying them. I was able to name some photogenic Birch Polypores in Hollybank which had twisted their stems to adapt when the tree they were on fell to the ground

Puffballs - Stansted had both the fairly common Stump Puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme) and the rare Spiny (or Hedgehog) Puffballs (Lycoperdon echinatum)

Earth Stars - also at Stansted we found two species of Earth Star (Geastrum triplex or Collared Earthstar, the commoner species, and G. sessile or Sessile Earthstar)

Grey Coral (Clavulina cinerea) - found in Stansted growing next to what may have been a different Coral type species.

Jelly (or Jew's) Ear - found on dead Elder at Stansted

Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) - found at both sites

Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) - the single example found at Stansted was a realistic imitation of a handful of blackened fingers coming up from the ground


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 18 - 24 (Week 42 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: Still only ones or twos around our south coast but on Oct 17 a site on the German coast recorded 150 Red-throated. Black-throated and Great Northern were still only present in small numbers but on Oct 17 a White Billed Diver was seen off the Netherlands.

Grebes: Winter flocks of Great Crested are starting to build up on the sea (26 off Climping on Oct 18 and around 50 in Rye Bay on Oct 17). Single Red-necked were seen in the Netherlands on three days this week at up to three sites but Slavonian Grebes started to arrive on the south coast this week after a single bird was in the Scillies on Oct 14. Oct 17 found three birds off Lymington, another off Sandwich and singles at two Netherlands sites. Among six more sightings later in the week was one off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Oct 21. The only reported Black-neck was off Gwithian in Cornwall on Oct 22

Leach's Petrel: On Oct 20 a French site reported 14 birds (with smaller numbers at four other sites) and 6 were at a Netherlands site on Oct 21

Bittern: Singles seen this week in Poole Harbour (Hatch Pond), Rye Harbour and Marazion in Cornwall

Green Heron: Still being seen at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (near Mevagissey in Cornwall) up to the morning of Oct 23 but the Cornwall Birding website reports "No Sign of it" that afternoon.

Cattle Egret: None reported in southern England from Aug 21 until Oct 19 when I saw a report of one at Veryan in Cornwall followed by reports of 2 birds at a Belgian site on Oct 21 and 1 in the Netherlands on Oct 22

Great White Egret: The regular bird at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood was there on Oct 20 but it may be getting restive as what was probably the same bird was seen by the River Stour south of Blandford on Oct 18 and again on Oct 21. Over on the continent there was a count of 14 at one Netherlands site on Oct 18 (with smaller numbers at 18 other sites that day)

White Stork: One flew north over Barnham near Arundel on Oct 18. More than 10 were still in Belgium on Oct 17 when one was still at the Wareham water meadows in Dorset (where it arrived on the evening of Sep 29)

Glossy Ibis: A few are still around with one near Budleigh Salterton in Devon on Oct 21 and Oct 22 and possibly the same bird a few miles further west on the Exe estuary on Oct 23. Elsewhere in Britain singles have been seen this week in Anglesey, Suffolk, and in Ireland

Spoonbill: Poole Harbour remains the hotspot for this species with 14 at Brownsea on Oct 17 with other reports of singles from the Sillies and Hayle in Cornwall (maybe the same bird)

Bewick's Swan: Four had been seen at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 13 but the first back at Slimbridge were not seen until Oct 18 when eight turned up. No other reports in England although continental sites reported 24 on Oct 12, 69+ on Oct 14, 28+ on Oct 16 and 22 on Oct 19

Whooper Swan: Two were at Slimbridge back on Oct 14 but none have been reported there since Oct 20. A good number of birds have been seen recently at eight sites in northern Britain with a peak count of 40 at Heaton Park in Manchester on Oct 20 (flying over at 18:20) - where did they go?. Latest news is of four flying north over Portland on Oct 23

Red-breasted Goose: The only bird in southern England (one was at Martin Mere in Lancashire on Oct 14) has been on the Exe estuary from Oct 13 to 23 at least and was at first reported as a presumed escape but the latest report says that it is unringed.

Shelduck: The first returning adults that I know of in the Havant area were 18 seen off the Warblington shore in Chichester Harbour on Oct 18 They do not seem to have stayed - maybe they went on to the Isle of Wight where 23 were at Newtown Harbour on Oct 22 (also that day a group of 5 at Lymington incuded a probable Australian Shelduck)

Wigeon: The local winter flock at the mouth of the Langbrook stream was up to 50 in number on Oct 22

Garganey: Some still with us this week - on Oct 20 one was at the Blashford Lakes and on Oct 21 a pair were at the Longham Lakes (north fringe of Bournemouth)

Shoveler: Local numbers starting to increase with 15 at Farlington Marshes on Oct 17 and 15 at Lymington on Oct 22. Rye Harbour had 80 on Oct 18

Pochard: I saw my first of the winter at Budds Farm in Havant on Oct 19 but the biggest count I have seen so far remains 10 at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 5

Scaup: 7 were in Germany on Oct 17 when 4 turned up at Abbotsbury in Dorset. On Oct 18 a female was on the Exe estuary and another female arrived at Cuckmere Haven near Beachy Head while another was reported at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Oct 20

Eider: Other than a count of 674 at the northern tip of Germany on Sep 22 and another of 3,596 there on Oct 17 no site has reported more than six birds since the start of September

Velvet Scoter: 3 were seen at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 18 after a report of 12 at a Netherlands site on Oct 17

Goldeneye: On Oct 17 two were at Newtown Harbour (IoW), four at Dungeness, one at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood. On Oct 19 two were at the Blashford Lakes and on Oct 22 there were two more at Dungeness.

Smew: The first of the winter flew west past Dungeness on Oct 14 (none previously reported anywhere in Europe) and what may have been the same bird was at Rye Harbour on Castle Water on Oct 21. Normally Smew winter in the Netherlands and they only come to Britain in small numbers when the water freezes in the Netherlands but a few individuals have different ideas and the IBM Lake/Paulsgrove reclamation in Portsmouth had five birds in the winter of 1984/5 with a similar number each year up to 1990/91 but not since - this group of individuals not only preferred Portsmouth to the Netherlands but were usually the first to arrive in early November. In more recent years a few have been seen on the Chichester Lakes and at Arundel in some years, the most recent in our area being one at the Blashford Lakes in the early part of this year (Jan 17 to Mar 9 after being seen on the Lower Test Marshes on Jan 2). Another was at the Chichester lakes from Jan 16 to Feb 3.

Red Breasted Merganser: The first noticeable winter arrivals were seen on Oct 9 with 10 birds at the Exe estuary in Devon on Oct 13. This week there were 9 at Lymington on Oct 17 and 14 in the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Oct 21 followed by 2 in the Hayling Oysterbeds pools on Oct 22 (my first sighting)

Goosander: Other than up to five birds at the Blashford Lakes near to where they have probably spent the summer on the River Avon the first arrivals in southern England so far have been three birds on the Norfolk coast on Oct 22

Honey Buzzard: Late singletons (maybe just one bird) were seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 21 and 22

Goshawk: A male was seen flying and then perched on a post in Pagham Harbour on Oct 18

Sparrowhawk: Still on passage with 70 birds seen at a Netherlands site on Oct 17 when smaller numbers were seen at 12 other sites

Buzzard: Still a good passage on Oct 17 when migrants were seen at 47 sites with a peak count of 356 at a Belgian site. After a peak of 42 birds at one of 6 Belgian sites on Oct 18 there have been no further 'remarkable' reports

Rough Legged Buzzard: The RBA website reports a total of 17 birds in Britain by Oct 22 after an influx along the east coast this week. One was reported over the Isle of Wight on Oct 18 when birds were seen at 25 continental sites. Singles were seen in East Kent on Oct 19, 21 and 22 (when Lee Evans watched 3 in Suffolk)

Osprey: No reports since Oct 17 after two were seen at Thorney Island on Oct 15 with one still there on Oct 16

Merlin: Although a good number will stay on the south coast through the winter at least one flew on south from Start Point in Devon on Oct 22

Hobby: Still being seen on Oct 20 when there were 2 on the Isle of Wight and one at Dungeness

Water Rail: On Oct 17 Martin Hampton saw one that had presumably just arrived (and did not know how to get around without being seen) fly across the Budds Farm Pools in Havant. Two more new arrivals were at Rooksbury Mill in Andover on Oct 18

Avocet: 11 were at Farlington Marshes in Langstone Harbour on Oct 17 when there were 867 at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour and around 200 still in the north Kent Swale estuary

Dotterel: Two late birds were on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall on Oct 18

Golden Plover: Winter flocks continue to build up with 120 inland at Maiden Castle in Dorset on Oct 18, 80 in the Warsash area on Oct 19, 350 at East Head in Chichester Harbour on 21 and 148 at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Oct 22

Purple Sandpiper: None yet on the Hampshire coast other than the two birds reported at Farlington Marshes on Sep 25 but this week they have been seen at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Oct 18 and at Newhaven in Sussex on Oct 20 with three seen that day in Belgium.

Spotted Redshank: The regular bird was back at Nore Barn (west end of Emsworth shore) on Oct 19 and was seen there on Oct 19, 20, 21 and 22. The species has been widely seen elsewhere since Aug 1 with 12 on the north Kent coast as early as Aug 4 and 5 at Brownsea Island on Aug 20 but this particular bird which is thought to spend the summer in northern Scandinavia does not return to Emsworth until much later. Last year it arrived on Oct 21, in 2008 it came on Nov 8, in 2007 the date was Nov 7, in 2006 it was Nov 9, in 2005 my first record at Nore Barn was Dec 15 and in 2004 I did not see it until Dec 26 though for these last two years my dates are probably later than its arrival as it had not then acquired its popularity as a tame and easily photographable bird.

Green Sandpiper: One had been seen at the Langstone South Moors on Sep 11, probably passing through, but one seen and heard over that site on Oct 19 may be intending to stay through the winter in the Havant area (where wintering birds normally fly between several well separated sites each day)

Grey Phalarope: Six reports this week include five birds in the Scillies on Oct 13 and ten in France on Oct 20 plus singles at Chesil Cove (Portland) on that day and one near Rye on Oct 22

Pomarine Skua: On site in France recorded 114 on Oct 20

Little Gull: France also had the highest count of these with 1014 on Oct 20

Great Blackback Gull: On Oct 17 the roost on grassland at the Gosport HMS Sultan site numbered 120

Sandwich Tern: A count of 14 on the southwest shore of Langstone Harbour (Milton area) on Oct 20 may have been of birds staying the winter. The only other reports of Tern species this week have been of Arctic Terns at Sandwich Bay (1 on Oct 17) and Belgium (1 on Oct 20), plus single Black Terns in the Netherlands on Oct 17 and Cornwall (Crowdy reservoir) on Oct 20

Auks: A mixed flock of Guillemots and Razorbills off the Netherlands on Oct 21 numbered 682 birds. 3 Razorbills were off the Selsey West Fields on Oct 17 with one off East Head in Chichester Harbour on Oct 21

Little Auk: One was off Dungeness on Oct 17 + 18 and up to 4 were seen at continental sites daily from Oct 19 to 22

Stock Dove: Flocks continued to reach southern England from the continent this week with 160+ at Beachy Head on Oct 17, 151 at Bockhill (South Foreland) on Oct 18, 53 at Folkestone on Oct 19, 200 at Dungeness on Oct 20, and counts of 167 and 250 at north Kent sites on Oct 21 and 22

Woodpigeon: Reports from continental sites had peaks of 32,242 in the Netherlands on Oct 17 (when 4,360+ were at Beachy Head), 43,380 in the Netherlands on Oct 18, and 18,200 at a German site on Oct 22. Note that my reports from continental sites only show the count for the site where the highest count was reported and there may have been many more birds at other sites with smaller counts (the Oct 18 count was that of only one of 7 sites, not necessarily in the same country as that of the peak count, but all reporting exceptional numbers). In southern England we have yet to see the high numbers but on Oct 21 there were 345 over Browndown at Gosport and 240 in the open country south of Fleet/Aldershot.

Collared Dove: 19 at Sandwich Bay on Oct 21 and 25 at one of two Netherlands sites on Oct 17 are the only reports of passage birds I have picked out

Turtle Dove: One was still at Polgigga in Cornwall on Oct 17 when another single was in the Scillies

Wryneck: 3 in the Scillies on Oct 17 and 1 at the Lizard in Cornwall on Oct 18 are the latest I know of

Woodlark: Seven reports this week include a count of 73 at a Belgian site on Oct 17 (when 3 were seen at Shatterford in the New Forest), 57 in Belgium on Oct 18, 46 in Belgium on Oct 21 plus 38 there on Oct 22 indicate a strong movement petering out by the end of the week

Skylark: Oct 17 brought reports of 800 on the Downs north of Eastbourne (Bopeep), 96 at Christchurch Harbour and 44 at Warsash with a peak continental count of 1718 in Belgium. On Oct 19 at least another 40 arrived at Sandwich and on Oct 20 several were singing on Thundersbarrow Hill north of Brighton

Shorelark: One has been seen by a lot of birders in the Cuckmere valley between Oct 17 and 27 (though one lady had to take off her shoes and wade across the river to get close to the bird)

Hirundines: The last Sand Martin report that I have seen from England was of one bird in Pagham Harbour on Oct 17. Folkestone had 800 Swallows on Oct 17 with 600 at the South Foreland on Oct 18 and 450 at Sandwich on Oct 19. There were still 30 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 22. The latest reports of House Martins were on Oct 18 when 300 were at the South Foreland and 130 at nearby Sandwich Bay

Rock Pipit: I heard and glimpsed one on the Langstone South Moors shore on Oct 19 when six were at the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester. Oct 19 brought news of six at Newtown (IoW) and I saw another at North Common on Hayling

Water Pipit: Seven reports this week include four birds at the Lower Test on Oct 22 when the first bird of the winter was at Christchurch Harbour

Yellow Wagtail: The last I know of in England was seen at Pett Level (Rye Bay) on Oct 17

Waxwing: On Oct 16 the RBA service reported that a few had arrived on the east coast recently, with more to be found in the northern isles, and by Oct 20 they reported a total of at least 53 birds in the British Isles. The first on the south coast was one at Sandwich Bay on Oct 19 and there have since been five reports from Kent with a peak count of 3 birds. On Oct 21 Hunstanton on the Norfolk coast had 60 birds

Bluethroat: 2 were in the Scillies on Oct 15

Red-flanked Bluetail: The first ever recorded in Hampshire was found by Andy Johnson at the Sandy Point reserve on Hayling Island on Oct 18 and despite the difficulty of finding carparking for all the twitchers expected to want to see the bird, and the reluctance of the Hampshire Countryside Service to allow visitors into this normally closed reserve (where trampling could destroy the plant rarities and the presence of a crowd would encourage locals and holiday makers with little knowledge of nature conservation to invade the site), arrangements were made for carparking at the sailing club overflow park behind the lifeboat station and the news was made public by Oct 21 since when many birders have enjoyed the bird for the price of a 2 donation thrown into a bucket at the reserve entrance gate. The numbers coming to Sandy Point have perhaps been less than was feared as this bird is only one of 29 currently in the British Isles (as of Oct 20) and stay at home birders can enjoy the bird via the internet (the Three Amigos blog has good pictures and text at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo/17422/Red-flanked+Bluetail%3B+Sandy+Point.html )

Common Redstart: One (maybe two) was seen at both Fort Widley and Fort Nelson on Portsdown on Oct 17 but since then the only report I have picked up was of one at Bockhill (South Foreland in Kent) on Oct 21

Whinchat: Maybe the last for this year was at Dungeness on Oct 22

Wheatear: Probably not the last was seen on the Milton shore of Langstone Harbour on Oct 20 (I see that between Oct 9 and 13 a Black-eared Wheatear was on the Scillies rarities list along with a Pied Wheatear on Oct 12)

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Another Scillies rarity seen on Oct 19

Ring Ouzel: The last (so far) of the 137 entries for this species on autumn passage was of one at Titchfield Haven on Oct 22 (when two were also seen in Devon)

Blackbird: Brian Fellows heard one in subsong at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Oct 21 - possibly trying to defend its winter territory against the many continental birds that have been pouring into southern England this autumn starting with 20+ at Beachy Head on Aug 25, then 30 at Sandwich Bay on Sep 7. I now have records of a selected few of these migrants including a peak count of 250 at Dungeness on Oct 20 and a pitiful account of one seen flying low over the sea parallel to the north Kent shore on Oct 17 but ditching in the sea when close to land - the surprise was that if managed to take off from the water twice before it was finally knocked down into the water and killed by gulls.

Fieldfare: Large numbers have been arriving in southern England with first few on Oct 9, then stepping up a gear on Oct 15 when 245 were seen in Thanet backed up by 646 at a Belgian site. On Oct 16 the Trektellen high count was 1046 and the New Forest had 42 at Latchmore Bottom, while on Oct 17 there were 57 in the Shatterford area near Beaulieu Road station. By Oct 20 Dungeness was counting 700 incoming birds and in the north of England that day there were 10,263 at Bolton, 6,705 at Bradford, 3,895 at Manchester, 3,320 in Cumbria, 2,291 at Leicester and 1,205 at Halesown in the west Midlands. On Oct 21 405 flew up the Test valley north of Romsey and 724 were on the north Kent coast, and on Oct 24 Hutton Roof in Cumbria recorded 1088. Today (Oct 24) there were 5,805 at Bradford, 3,263 in Lancashire and 2,821 in Nottinghamshire

Redwing: These too have been arriving in big flocks this week along with the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. On Oct 20 Thanet in Kent recorded 4,650 Redwings but the number of Mistle Thrushes seems to have dropped off this week

Reed Warbler: One was still to be seen at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 20 leaving me very concerned about the fact that I have only seen 53 reports of the species since the beginning of August and the highest count reported was of only 30 birds (compare to 71 reports of Whitethroats with counts of 250 at more than one site and 75 reports of Blackcaps with a peak of 500 at Beachy Head on Sep 16 - and I did not bother to record many of the reports I saw of these and other common species)

Dartford Warbler: Among half a dozen reports (mainly of dispersing birds) that I picked up this week was one from Devon on Oct 22 which mentioned that two birds were singing.

Whitethroat: What may be the last report of Whitethroat for the year came from Thanet on Oct 17 following a Lesser Whitethroat in Devon on Oct 16

Garden Warbler: Singles seen at Portland on Oct 19 and 20 with another near Eastbourne on Oct 21

Blackcap: It looks as if our summer birds have now left with a report of 216 at a site in Portugal on Oct 15 and only one later report from England (5 in south Devon on Oct 17)

Willow Warbler: A late bird was at Portland on Oct 16

Goldcrest: Many still arriving from the continent - on Oct 17 masses were seen busily feeding on the north Kent coast at Reculver regardless of any threats (one was so pre-occupied with regaining energy after its cross Channel flight that it temporarily landed on one birders hand). Also that day 60 were recorded at Christchurch Harbour

Spotted Flycatcher: Maybe the last was at Portland on Oct 16. I have not heard of any Pied Flycatchers since Oct 12 but 3 Red Breasted Flycatchers were on the Scillies on Oct 15 and one was in south Devon on Oct 18

Bearded Tit: 13 reports this week indicates a lot of birds still dispersing after a presumably good breeding season - the reports included one of two birds at the Milton Lakes in Southsea where the birds are not normally found. On Oct 17 Christchurch Harbour reported a group of 13 flying high south (intending to cross the channel?)

Great Grey Shrike: Other than the one at Exbury near Beaulieu on Oct 15 I have seen no reports from Hampshire so far but 13 reports this week show that qute a few have already come south with four being present in Devon on Oct 22 and one at Morden Bog in Dorset from Oct 16 to 19 at least

Jackdaw: Many have been moving along the south coast in both directions this week, presumably gathering in traditional large communal winter roosts with other corvids. On Oct 17 570 went west over Christchurch Harbour and more than 100 flew over Warsash, and on Oct 20 294 were counted over Milton Common in Southsea. On Oct 21 160 were on the move in south Devon while back on Oct 17 a count from the Netherlands was of 6393 birds. Other corvid reports included one of a single Hooded Crow flying over Dungeness on Oct 21

Starling: Among several reports of big flocks on the move was one of 10,000 birds at the Fishlake Meadows at Romsey on Oct 16

Rose Coloured Starling: One on the cliffs at Newhaven has been showing well from Oct 11 to 22 and another has been seen at the Lepe country park (mouth of Southampton Water) on Oct 20 and 22 (when another was at Lands End in Cornwall)

Brambling: 219 were seen in Thanet on Oct 20 and 872 had been at a Netherlands site on Oct 18. More local sightings were of one feeding in Wansted Farmyard near Lyeheath two kilometres north of Portsdown on Oct 17, and of two on the Lymington Marshes that day. On Oct 21 more than 60 flew west over East Head in Chichester Harbour (with 2,164 seen over a Netherlands site that day)

Greenfinch: It seems that many of our British birds have died of diesease in the last year or so but currently it seems that our population is being swollen by (hopefully healthy) continental birds. Among several reports there were 182 in Thanet on Oct 18 and 196 at Sandwich on Oct 19

Twite: Two were at the Selsey West Fields from Oct 16 to 19, one was at Lymington on Oct 20 and one at Browndown (Gosport) on Oct 21 - this latter was a probable only

Snow Bunting: One was at East Head in Chichester Harbour on Oct 16 and another has been showing well on Kithurst Hill above Storrington from Oct 13 to 22 (coming to seed put down at the feet of watching birders)

Eleanora's Falcon: A lovely photo can be seen on the Three Amigo's blog at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/uploads/a/amigo1/25443.jpg and other pictures of the same species appear on this blog entry for Oct 24 (see http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/amigo ) taken by Steve Copsey at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus where Steve and Mark Cutts (although in the Navy) were with an RAF Ornithological Soc expedition to this site. Scroll down the blog to read several reports on what they saw there.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: This species has normally disappeared from the scene by the end of September and the reports I have recorded end on Sept 9 except for two reports of the species at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Sep 21 and Oct 21 making me wonder if the last two sightings were of the very similar Migrant Hawker (which is slightly smaller in length by 7 mm, has a bright blue patch on its side below the rear wings and blue dots on all the tail segments) If seen perched it can be distinguished better by looking at the extreme tip of the tail where the Migrant Hawker has blue dots separated by black but the Southern Hawker has undivided blue bands across the last two segments and the colour of the dots on the segments nearer the head are green. Migrant Hawker was still being recorded on Oct 9, 11 and 12

Black Darter: A species only likely to be seen in the New Forest but still on the wing there on Oct 17

Common Darter: Seen near Seaford on Oct 16, in the Warblington cemetery on Oct 18 and on the north Kent coast on Oct 22

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Singles seen at the Selsey west fields on Oct 17 and at Brownwich (Titchfield area) on Oct 21

Large White: Two seen at Iden near Rye on Oct 20

Small White: Three reports with the last on Oct 19 at Mill Hill (Shoreham)

Small Copper: Six reports starting with four seen near Henfield on Oct 17 and ending with two at Brownwich on Oct 21

Brown Argus: A single sighting at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Oct 19

Common Blue: Four reports starting with one at Bartley Heath in north Hampshire on Oct 16 and ending with a 'tatty male' at Storrington (near Pulborough) on Oct 22

Red Admiral: 14 reports up to Oct 22

Peacock: Two reports - one near Henfield on Oct 17 and one at Seaford on Oct 19

Comma: Two reports from the Seaford area on Oct 16 and 19

Speckled Wood: Usually the last butterfly of the year this week found four near Henfield on Oct 17, six at Newtown on the Isle of Wight on Oct 19 and three at Iden near Rye on Oct 20

Meadow Brown: Seen on Chalton Down (north of Rowlands Castle) on Oct 16 and at Shoreham on Oct 19

Moths

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was sunning itself on a brick wall somewhere in Sussex on Oct 20

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Marsh Horsetail: I was surprised to see one with a fertile cone at the Langstone South Moors on Oct 19

Marsh Marigold: I was even more surprised to find a plant with four fresh flowers on the South Moors on Oct 19 (I cannot recall ever seeing autumn flowers on this species)

Treacle Mustard: A single plant seen on Portsdown on Oct 21 (see my Diary entry)

Ribbed Melilot: Also seen on Portsdown on Oct 21 with brown glabrous seeds as well as yellow flowers

Apple: A self sown tree on the shoreline at Conigar Point at Warblington on Oct 18 not only had fruit but also one cluster of open flowers

Hawthorn: Autumn flowers among red Haws were found on Portsdown on Oct 21 with a lot more seen in the roadside hedge immediately north of the public toilets outside the Ship Inn at Langstone (and south of the brick wall of the new houses)

Dog Rose: Just one fresh flower on Oct 19 among a mass of red Hips on a bush growing on the bank of the Langbrook stream just north of the now defunct kissing gate as you come up from the Langstone South Moors shore

Stone Parsley: A single plant still bearing fresh flowers and leaves was a surprise find on Oct 22 beside the short narrow path between the north seawall of Mill Rythe on Hayling to the extreme end of Woodgason Lane

Pepper Saxifrage: A single plant seen on Oct 22 beside the Hayling Coastal Path where it passes Stoke Bay south of the carpark at North Hayling Halt

Green Field Speedwell: After seemingly years of searching (and all my finds turning out to be Grey Field Speedwell - as in Juniper Square at Havant on Oct 18) I at last found the genuine item in flower at Warblington Cemetery, also on Oct 18

Corn Mint: Brian Fellows found this flowering in the West Marden area on Oct 17

Gipsywort: A few flowers could still be seen on an elderly plant found beside the Langbrook Stream on Oct 19

Henbit Deadnettle: A substantial cluster of these plants was in flower on the mound above the Budds Farm pools in Havant on Oct 19 (see my Diary entry for photos and more detail)

Marjoram: Still flowering on Portsdown on Oct 19

Common Gromwell: A few young plants with flowers (among many old plants bearing their white seeds) seen on Portsdown on Oct 21

White Comfrey: I have never seen this flowering in the autumn before but on Oct 19 I photographed a cluster of plants doing so at Budds Farm (see my diary entry)

Nettle-leaved Bellflower: Still flowering at West Marden on Oct 17 (as were a few Harebells on Portsdown on Oct 21)

Devil's Bit Scabious: A better show than usual with more than 20 flowering plants in the 'orchid field' at the Langstone South Moors on Oct 19

Tansy: Some plants still flowering on Portsdown on Oct 21

Goatsbeard: An excellent find by Brian Fellows at West Marden on Oct 17 - luckily he was there before noon when these plants close their flowers

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fallow Deer: We are now in the rutting season for these deer and even if you do not see one of the bucks with their antlers (as Brian Fellows did in the West Marden area on Oct 17) you may come on well trodden areas where they have their stands in places such as the junctions of multiple tracks in Stansted Forest

Bats: This week's Autumn Watch TV programme gave one reason for Bats being seen in daytime at this time of year - they suggested that these day fliers are youngsters born this year and and now having to learn the route from their nursery site to the winter roost - this may have been the reason for one being seen in the Thanet area of Kent, mobbed by Swallows at 2pm on Oct 17. In mid-winter bats seen in winter sunshine are probably out to defecate and exercise to prevent poisons building up during a prolonged sleep.

Common Lizard: Nine were seen near Henfield in the Adur valley on Oct 17 enjoying the sunshine before going into hibernation

Snails: On October 23 the Durlston Rangers daily report included a mention of seeing 6 of the 32 Snail species known on the Durlston reserve including a few of the less common Cellar Snails (Oxychilus cellarius) which live in the field stone walls. Also seen were some of the Pointed Snails (Cochlicella acuta) which I have looked for several times this summer on the inside of the seawall at the west end of the Thorney Great Deeps - I fear the colony there has become extinct as I did not find a single live one among the shells of those that died in previous years. The third species which were seen were described as "thousands of the tiny (about the size of the end of a pencil) striped snails" - I have often tried to name these very common snails of dry grassland and I can only conclude they are young specimens of the very common and very variable Brown-lipped Banded Snail (Cepaea nemoralis) which will maybe acquire different colours on their shells as they grow in size. Both my snail book (Land Snails of the British Isles by A A Wardhaugh in the Shire Natural History series) and the website of the British Conchological Society ( http://www.conchsoc.org/index.php which has the beginnings of an online illustrated key for identifying species) tell us that it is very difficult to name young (not yet grown to full size) or old snails with worn shells, they also say that little is known about the life span of snails (so I cannot find out if these small white snails with their 'humbug' black stripes will become mature and identifiable in months or years).

Fungi: Small, pure white Snowy Waxcaps (Hygrocybe virginea) started to appear on my lawn this week and at Durlston the first Field Blewitts (Lepista saeva) were seen (none so far in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery). At the seaward end of Pook Lane at Warblington the small specimens of Rhodotus palmatus have withered and become detached from the tree trunk where I found them on Oct 6 but a big cluster of very mature Agrocybe cylindracea caught my eye further down the lane on Oct 18. On Oct 19 I came across several clusters of what might be Tricholoma ustaloides on the grassland close to the bird viewing point for the Budds Farm pools in Havant along with some Weeping Widows - see my diary for that day for my photos.


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 11 - 17 (Week 41 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Green Heron: This trans Atlantic rarity which I first reported last week was still at the Wild Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey in Cornwall on Oct 16

Great White Egret: The regular bird at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood was still there on Oct 13 at least but the number reported on the near continent was up to 24 at just one Netherlands site on Oct 10 when 38 other sites reported smaller numbers

Glossy Ibis: The bird which has been a regular sight at Christchurch Harbour from Sep 18 has not been seen since Oct 10. On Oct 11 the RBA website reported two still in Devon, seven in Kent and one in Dumfries. On Oct 12 Devon was down to one, Kent had none and on Oct 15 there was a new bird in Northumberland

Spoonbill: More than 10 were at Brownsea in Poole Harbour on Oct 12 and on Oct 9 one was seen at Titchfield Haven

Bewick's Swan: None yet at Slimbridge but 4 were seen at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 13 and on Oct 14 one Netherlands site had 69

Whooper Swan: The first two were at Slimbridge on Oct 14 (maybe arriving via Poole Harbour where two flew in through the harbour entrance that day). On Oct 16 another 4 were at Marazion near Penzance in Cornwall and 14 were reported at one Netherlands site that day with smaller numbers at four other sites

Brent Goose: The evidence of a good breeding season is building up with informal reports of 50% of the birds in Pagham Harbour seen on Oct 10 and 11 being juveniles. A more conservative claim for 30% juveniles came from the Exe estuary on Oct 15 but the only actual count I have seen so far is of 43 juveniles among a flock of 280 seen from Thorney Island on Oct 12 (giving 15%). This week also brings a report of a Brent oddity from north Kent where a leucistic bird was seen in the Swale area of north Kent - see http://www.kentos.org.uk/Seasalter/Oct10.htm entry for Oct 9 for pictures and a suggestion based on the bold neck collar the the bird is in fact a 'White Brant'

Wigeon: The Oct 9 WeBS count on Thorney Island recorded 1000 Wigeon (450 had been there as early as Sep 18) but the first 5 were not seen on the Emsworth shore until Oct 13. On the Langstone South Moors shore the first back was seen on Oct 4 increasing to 20 on Oct 16

Pintail: The number at Pulborough Brooks shot up from 35 on Oct 12 to around 75 on Oct 14 but reported numbers elsewhere remain low

Shoveler: Still no big numbers in southern England with a peak count of 131 at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) back on Oct 5. This week we have a report of 22 at Baffins Pond in Portsmouth (and only around half a dozen at Budds Farm in Havant)

Tufted Duck: The Emsworth Town Millpond had its first two winter arrivals on Oct 10 and Christchurch Harbour did not have one until Oct 13

Scaup: The only reports from southern England have been one at the Exe estuary in Devon on Sep 30 (still there on Oct 14) and one at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 14

Long-tailed Duck: One had been reported in Dorset West Bay on Sep 26 but there have been no other reports until Oct 9 when a group of 9 arrived at a Netherlands site

Velvet Scoter: Although one had been seen in the English Channel on Sep 18 there were only three other reports (max 3 birds) until Oct 14 when 13 were reported from the Netherlands

Goldeneye: The first to reach Hampshire was at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 17 after one flew east past Dungeness on Oct 14 and a female was off the north Kent coast on Oct 16 when more than 7 were seen in Belgium (not sure what happened to the 49 which arrived at a Netherlands site on Sep 26 but I see that reports from two continental sites - one in the Netherlands and one on the German Baltic coast - have reported 338 birds during the past month)

Smew: First report from southern England is of one at Dungeness on Oct 14 - Trektellen has no other reports from anywhere in Europe

Red-breasted Merganser: The first returning birds (as distinct from those that summered here) started to arrive on Oct 9 when one was seen flying over coastal fields in the Reculver Coastal Park between Herne Bay and Margate. Devon had its first on that day (2 birds at Prawle Point, the southernmost tip of Devon) followed by 6 birds in the Exe estuary on Oct 10 increasing to 10 there on Oct 13 after a flock of 10 had been seen in the Netherlands on Oct 12

Honey Buzzard: Still being reported this week, the latest being one over Budleigh Salterton in Devon on Oct 11

Hen Harrier: Twelve reports in southern England this week including 3 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 13 and one at Titchfield Haven on Oct 16 (the first back in Hampshire was in the New Forest on Oct 9)

Buzzard: A count of 504 Buzzards in Denmark on Sep 27 has been beaten this week with a count of 1075 over a Netherlands site on Oct 16 (when 8 other sites reported smaller numbers)

Osprey: Two juveniles were still being seen in Chichester Harbour at Thorney Island on Oct 15 and at least one was still there on Oct 16

Merlin: Now widespread in southern England but more may be on the way as one Belgian site recorded 16 on Oct 16 (with lesser numbers at 22 other sites that day)

Hobby: The last report that I have picked up was from Plastow Green near Headley in north Hampshire on Oct 15

Water Rail: 89 were seen at one French site on Oct 9 (after 130 at a French site on Oct 5) as these birds continue to move long distances to winter quarters

Corncrake: These birds are not often seen on passage but this week one was reported from West High Down near the Needles (IoW) on Oct 13 and one was seen in flight at Portland on Oct 15.

Coot: Brian Fellows estimated a total of 1500 on the Chichester Gravel Pits on Oct 12 (in surprising contrast the Swalecliffe website reporting from the Whitstable area of north Kent had a photo of a single Coot taken there on Oct 7 with the accompanying text saying .. "A Whitstable rarity came into view on the stream, the rare and elusive coot. This time I managed to get my first photo of a coot in the Whitstable district, although a distant record shot")

Cranes: 77 were at a Belgian site on Oct 10 with smaller numbers on other days this week. Oct 9 also bought a report of a single Demoiselle Crane in the Netherlands

Golden Plover: WeBS counts on Oct 9 found 130 on Thorney Island and 161 in the Wittering area (maybe some double counting?). On Oct 10 there were 129 on the Lymington marshes and on Oct 15 there were 50 inland near Cheesefoot Head east of Winchester

Ruff: One was at Farlington Marshes on Oct 10 and Christchurch Harbour had 7 on Oct 11. See http://www.chog.org.uk/Sightings%20Photos/Ruff%202.jpg for an interesting photo showing the size difference between the large male and smaller females

Woodcock: Six reports this week show that these are now starting to move to winter quarters. The reports (all of single birds) come from the Scillies, Portland and the South Foreland in Kent plus one from Belgium

Black-tailed Godwit: Maybe of interest this week is a report on Oct 12 of ten birds at Gilkicker Point (Gosport) feeding on grass rather than mud (maybe just to pass the time during high tide as these birds do not normally move to grass for feeding until November)

Pomarine Skua: Oct 16 brought counts of 56 on the north Kent coast plus 150 on the French coast as these birds feel the need to move south

Caspian Gull: Bob Chapman reports a sighting of one at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 12

Terns: A juvenile Common Tern was in Shoreham Harbour on Oct 13, two Arctic Terns were at Dungeness on Oct 9 and a White Winged Black Tern was at a Netherlands site on Oct 9. Other than these there were only seven reports of Black Terns (including one at the Warsash Bunny Meadows on Oct 10 and one at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 13 with the latest date being for one at Lodmoor in Weymouth on Oct 14)

Little Auk: The first two of the autumn were in Germany on Oct 14 with maybe the same two in the Netherlands on Oct 15. The first in Southern England was on the north Kent coast on Oct 16 when another 5 appeared in Germany

Stock Dove: These are now on the move in large numbers with eleven reports during the week including an estimated 400 over the Beachy Head area on Oct 10 and 120 at the Selsey West Fields on Oct 12 (plus 124 at the South Foreland in Kent on Oct 16

Woodpigeon: No large numbers reported from southern England yet but 36,307 were logged at a Netherlands site on Oct 10 and 10,380 at a German site on Oct 15

Collared Dove: At least 20 came to roost in the Wade Court area north of Langstone Pond on Oct 11

Turtle Dove: Two were still to be seen in Cornwall on Oct 15

Cuckoo: One was seen in Germany as late as Oct 10

Short-eared Owl: 21 reports this week as they arrive for the winter in southern England. Among the most recent was one at the Needles (IoW) on Oct 16 and one at Longwood Warren east of Winchester on Oct 15. Two were hunting fields west of Pagham Harbour on Oct 13 and 14

Swift: One was still in the Netherlands on Oct 11

Wryneck: Latest report is of one in Cornwall on Oct 14

Skylark: Plenty of reports this week with a peak count of 1869 from a Belgian site on Oct 10 and 100 at Steyning Round Hill on Oct 16

Shorelark: On Oct 11 one was at Folkestone and two in the Thanet area

Sand Martin: None seen since one at Barton on sea on Oct 13. Swallows and House Martins still being seen in good numbers on Oct 16

Richard's Pipit: Still being seen in Cornwall and the Scillies this week with a report on Oct 15 of a much rarer look-alike Blyth's Pipit in the Netherlands - see http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/bi_anthus_godlewskii.htm for more about this species

Rock Pipit: 10 were seen at the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Oct 12 and I believe the first was back on the Langstone South Moors shore on Oct 16 when one flew low over me during a rainstorm - I heard it call and it appeared to land on the shingle

Yellow Wagtail: Latest report is of one at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 14

Pied Wagtail: On Oct 11 a group of 8 flew north over Langstone Pond at dusk, presumably heading for a night roost site in Havant - are they back at Tesco?

Bluethroat: One at the South Foreland in Kent on Oct 4

Ring Ouzel: Still being reported daily almost everywhere along the south coast with 5 on Portsdown and 10 near the Needles (IoW) on Oct 16

Blackbird: Now arriving in southern England in substantial numbers. 50 came in at Sandwich Bay on Oct 14 and 30 were at the South Foreland on Oct 16 - peak count of 119 in the Netherlands on Oct 13

Fieldfare: 24 reports this week with 646 in Belgium on Oct 15 and 1046 in Germany on Oct 16. In Hampshire 18 were seen in the New Forest on Oct 13

Song Thrush: 18 reports this week with a peak of 146 in Poole Harbour on Oct 12 and 14 at Latchmore Bottom in the New Forest on Oct 13

Redwing: 28 reports this week with a peak count of 2230 flying north up the Test Valley near Romsey on Oct 11. Locally 30 were seen at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on Oct 13

Mistle Thrush: 14 reports this week including a count of 27 at Latchmore Bottom in the New Forest on Oct 13

Dartford Warbler: These are not cross channel migrants but do move about at this time of year as the young disperse. A report of two at a site in Portugal on Oct 15 caused me to check out the range of this species and I see it can be seen as far south at the toe of Italy

Pallas' Warbler: One has been attracting attention on Beachy Head from Oct 14 to 16 at least and one was in Devon on Oct 13

Goldcrest: These have been arriving in Kent this week with 130 at Sandwich Bay on Oct 11 (of 60 there on Oct 10 one was found to have been ringed in Poland)

Firecrest: Fewer of these arriving than Goldcrest but one migrant was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 16

Bearded Tit: Their long distance dispersal flights continued this week with 10 reports of movement at different sites including 27 birds flying in to Christchurch Harbour on Oct 10 and 10 birds flying in at the Severals (Pagham Harbour) on Oct 14

Tree Creeper: These are normally rarities on Hayling Island but there have been four reports of birds on the Island in the recent past (last two on Oct 12 in the Sinah area and on Oct 15 at the southern end of the Coastal Path) showing that they too move around in the autumn

Great Grey Shrike: Seven reports from southern England this week include one at Exbury in the south of the New Forest on Oct 15 (on Oct 12 one was as far west as the Lizard in Cornwall and on Oct 14 one was at Morden Bog in Dorset)

Raven: This is my bogey bird which I have never yet seen but on Oct 13 several were in the Fort Widley area on Portsdown, present all day, and on Oct 8 four were seen at Farlington Marshes

Rose Coloured Starling: An adult has been at Newhaven from Oct 11 to 16 at least with at least one more in Cornwall

Tree Sparrow: Portland was pleased to have three flying over north on Oct 13 but in contrast a Netherlands site had 1127 on Oct 10

Brambling: Plenty of Chaffinches arriving from the continent this week have had a good number of Bramblings with them. 24 reports during the week include 11 over Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 13 and 2466 at a German site on Oct 15

Goldfinch: These remain the most numerous finch migrants in southern England with 6740 over Sandwich Bay on Oct 14 with smaller numbers everywhere along the south coast

Linnet: These are the second commonest finches currently on the move - probably fewer in total than the Goldfinch but having a single peak count of more than 10,000 over Durlston on Oct 10

Twite: These have been seen this week at Durlston (1 on Oct 12), Christchurch Harbour (1 on Oct 14), Sandwich Bay (6 on Oct 15), Selsey West Fields (2 on Oct 16), and Barton on Sea (1 on Oct 16)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were both reported up to Oct 12 but on Oct 16 I was surprised to see a single male Common Darter in Havant

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: On Oct 12 three were seen at Newhaven and one was at Langstone Harbour entrance (my first for the year!). On Oct 14 two were seen at Titchfield Haven

Brimstone: One at Fleet in north Hampshire on Oct 14

Whites: Latest Large White at Thorney Island on Oct 12 and three Small Whites at Fleet on Oct 14

Brown Hairstreak: Singles at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 11 and at Woods Mill (Henfield) on Oct 14

Small Copper: 22 were on Oxenbourne Down on Oct 9 with 7 on Thorney Island on Oct 12 and 8 at Titchfield Haven on Oct 14

Brown Argus: Just one near Lewes on Oct 10

Common Blue: Four reports this week including 1 on Thorney Island on Oct 12 and 1 at Fleet on Oct 14

Red Admiral: 17 reports this week starting with a count of 210 at a Belgian site on Oct 9 and ending with two sightings on Oct 14 in Havant and Fleet. On Oct 10 more than 18 flew east in two hours at Sandy Point on Hayling (attempting return migration?)

Small Tortoiseshell: Four reports ending with one at Brighton university campus on Oct 14

Peacock: Just one at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Oct 11

Comma: Eight reports with the last on Oct 12 when more than 10 were seen in the Eastbourne area

Speckled Wood: Seven reports with the last on Thorney Island on Oct 12

Wall Brown: One still flying at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Oct 9

Meadow Brown: Flying until Oct 12 at least

Small Heath: Three still flying at Fleet on Oct 14 to complete a total of 15 species seen during the week

Moths

The best report this week was of a Death's Head Hawkmoth found in the Dungeness Power Station on Oct 12

Other Insects

Soldier Fly: I found one typically sunning itself on low vegetation in the Havant Cemetery on Oct 16 and noted the black centre line and the orange scallops on each side of the abdomen but have so far failed to name the species. What I did find when searching was that these flies are 'farmed' to breed their maggots for fishing bait

Glow Worm: The season for seeing adult females 'glowing' to attract males is long over but on Oct 11 Brian Fellows website carried news that someone had recently seen a cluster of 'glowing dots' in Brook Meadow at Emsworth where an adult Glow Worm had been reported last year. This report had reached Robin Scagell who runs http://www.glowworms.org.uk/ (a site with information about Glow Worms and with reports of where and when Glow Worms have been seen in England - I noted that there are no entries for Havant Thicket!). Robin suggested that the glowing dots were the result of a dog having eaten a Glow Worm larva and then voided it in the Brook Meadow grass

Speckled Bush Cricket: One attracted to a moth trap light at Dungeness on Oct 9

Wasp Spider: See my Diary entry for Oct 11 for some interesting information which I discovered when searching the internet for 'Argioppe bruennichi eggsac' after discovering one of these eggsacs in short grass by one of the Stansted Forest rides that day

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Welsh Poppy: I found the bright yellow flowers of this species growing as a garden escape outside the Langbrook Close garden fences alongside the approach road to the Langstone Technology Park in Havant on Oct 12

Sea Rocket: Still flowering at Black Point on Hayling Island on Oct 9

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria): See my Diary for Oct 12 to see photos of plants still on flower near Gunner Point on Hayling that day

Restharrow: Also surprisingly in flower near Gunner Point on Oct 12

Common Vetch: The first flower which I have seen for several months was out in Havant on Oct 16

Lucerne: Still flowering on Hayling Beachlands on Oct 12

Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil: A single flower cluster in the Havant cemetery on Oct 16

Burnet Rose: Many white flowers of this species caught my eye on Oct 16 - growing out of Tully tubes intended to protect tree saplings planted on the north side of Harts Farm Way at Broadmarsh in Havant

Meadow Sweet: Re-flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Oct 13

Holly: The first white flowers of Holly seen at two places in Havant on Oct 14 and 16

Sheep's Bit: Still flowering near Gunner Point on Hayling on Oct 12 - see photos in my Diary for that day

Chinese Mugwort: This had just started to flower on Oct 16 in the colony beside the Havant to Portsmouth cycleway where it passes the west end of the Broadmarsh grassland

OTHER WILDLIFE

Otter: One seen swimming across the River Yar and climbing its bank at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight caused Derek Hale to add 'Wow!' to his report of the sighting on his IoW Birding website entry for Oct 15 but it sent me to Google to see if there were other reports of Otters on the Island (where as far as I know wild Otters are not found though they are rapidly spreading across southern England and are capable of swimming across the Solent). The only thing I learnt was that Asian Short-clawed Otters are a popular attraction at the Seaview Flamingo Park attraction on the Island not far north of Bembridge.

Badger: One pointer to the possibility that the above report of an Otter on the Isle of Wight might be the result of natural dispersal comes from the Isle of Portland where a Badger was found dead on a roadside. The report of its finding said that "reports of Badgers from anywhere on Portland have been very infrequent in recent years" so this one could have come from somewhere off the Island to which access does not require a swim. No Badgers seen in Havant but I did see a dead Hedgehog on a road this week showing that they are not yet extinct here.

Pipistrelle Bat: These are now fattening up prior to hibernation so I was not too surprised to read that some of them were hunting around the Durlston moth trap on Oct 11 despite their normal aversion to bright light

Fungi: Parasol Mushrooms were found in Stansted Forest this week and on Oct 14 I think I found a young specimen of the less common Shaggy Parasol growing under a shrub planted beside the access road to the Langstone Technology Park (close to its junction with the main road to Hayling). On that day I also found a cluster of smaller toadstools growing on wood chips on the bank of the Langbrook Stream where it passes the east end of the Tesco store in Havant - I could not identify them but the nearest match I could find was with a couple of Stropharia (Roundhead) species. One species that I do feel confident in naming after finding it on a tree stump in Stansted Forest on Oct 11 was Crepidotus applanatus (now called the Flat Oysterling)


Wildlife diary and news for Oct 4 - 10 (Week 40 of 2010)

(Skip to previous week)

We are now at the height of the rush by all species to adapt to winter, either by moving to places where living will be tolerable in the cold or by various strategies that allow them to survive without moving (hibernating as adults or bowing out and leaving the survival of their species to their eggs or larvae). Almost everyone in the south of England will have witnessed one aspect of this during the past week as millions of Ladybirds decided it was time to take to the air and seek hibernation sites (some will have found a suitable site under the loose bark of trees while the majority have been trying to force entry into our warm and dry houses). Brian Fellows noticed the effect on two other species - Shield Bugs and Pisaura mirabilis spiders - both of which had probably (like the Ladybirds) been present in vast numbers mostly unseen by us until the need to 'move house' brought them out into the open. I had not known that Shield Bugs do hibernate as adults until I was forced to check on this aspect of their life cycle by the coincidence of their appearance and that of the Ladybirds, and I had not bothered to think about where the 'Nursery Tent spiders' spend the winter despite already knowing that they do survive as adults, but in all three cases the vegetation that has hidden them during the summer will soon disappear and even if the spiders do not hibernate the current 'baby boom' of spiderlings born (in the case of this species) in mid-summer will have to adapt to winter living which they cannot do if they stay where they were born.

In the case of birds the strategy is different and we are now witnessing the peak of their mass movement to winter quarters far from where they spent the summer and again we have the same two aspects of behaviour shown by the insects - one is the actual movement, the other is that the movement makes us aware of the huge numbers of some species with whom we have been sharing the summer without really noticing their presence (although we may have seen very few Swallows during the summer the huge flocks currently passing along our coasts were present somewhere in the British Isle during the summer). My summary of reports species by species fails to convey the total effect that comes out in the long lists of species recorded in the daily web entries from the birding hotspots - do check them out for yourself.

A slightly different aspect of migration is that it makes us aware of the variety of species involved - Lee Evans tells us that a recently found Myrtle Warbler was the 415th bird species seen in the UK this year and in the realm of insects the movements which occur in the autumn (either seeking a more favourable place to spend the winter or just the dispersal of young from the places where they were born and which could not support an every growing population) introduce us to new species that would normally not get into the news (e.g. the Southern Oak Bush Cricket which recently turned up at Dungeness)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: A Red-throated was seen at Seaford on Oct 3, Black-throats were off Dungeness on Oct 3 and 6 with a third off Devon on Oct 8. One Great Northern was off St Mary's in the Scillies on Oct 2 and 3

Cormorant: An impressive 200 were at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Oct 2 though I see that there had been 267 there on Sep 27. I think these are night roost counts and as far as I know the number roosting there in previous years had not exceeded 150

Green Heron (Butorides virescens): One turned up in the Lost Gardens of Heligan at Pentewan in Cornwall on Oct 6, probably having been blown across the Atlantic. It was still there on Oct 8 at least. The BBC report included the information that this species sometimes attracts fish by dropping bait on the surface of the water. This is the first Green Heron in Britain since 2008 when one was by the Royal Military Canal at Hythe in Kent from Oct 26 to Nov 10. First British record was in 1889 (within a mile or so of the current bird) and this is only the sixth appearance of the species in Britain. See http://www.swopticsphoto.com/2010/10/green-heron-at-heligan-gardens-cornwall.html for three excellent photos of the current bird (especially the second of the three)

Great White Egret: Both the regular birds (at Blashford Lakes, Ringwood, and Dungeness) have been seen several times this week and one was at Slapton Ley on the south Devon coast on Oct 2. The number on the near continent continues to increase with a peak count of 20 at a Belgian site on Oct 3

Spoonbill: Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour had 9 on Oct 7 after recording 12 on Oct 1 but the peak count for the week was 114 at a Netherlands site (there had been 383 at a Belgian site on Sep 17)

Bewicks Swan: These should soon be arriving in Britain - 3 were at a Belgian site on Oct 3 and 24 were in the Netherlands on Oct 5

White-front Geese: I think all the expected winter goose species have now started to arrive but this week's biggest flock was of 40,430 White Fronts at a single site in the Netherlands on Oct 4 with other birds at nine other sites. A single Lesser White Front also arrived that day.

Brent Geese: Brent started to arrive in southern England on Sep 23 with 16 seen in north Kent and 12 on the Devon coast. The first local arrivals were 12 birds in Langstone Harbour on Sep 25. The first substantial flock was of 240 birds seen off north Kent on Sep 28 and on Sep 29 a total of 231 flew west past Climping (mouth of R Arun). I think some of these stopped off in Chichester Harbour where more than 700 could be seen on Sep 30 but 119 carried on to be seen off Ryde (IoW) on Sep 29. On Sep 30 a flock of 1500 was seen on the north Kent coast and I had my first sight of them (120 in Langstone Harbour). By Oct 2 there were around 850 in Chichester Harbour and by Oct 9 a few were starting to appear on the north shores of Chichester (20 at Emsworth) and Langstone Harbours (8 at the Langstone South Moors including a pair with two juveniles). Also on Oct 9 a total of 3964 were seen on the French Normandie coast

Black Brant: First report of this winter is of one at Littlesea (Weymouth) on Oct 8

Red-breasted Goose: One appeared on the southern shore of Thorney Island in Chichester Harbour on Oct 1 and stayed until Oct 4 but a red ring on one of its legs suggested that it was an escape from captivity and had not come with the wild Brent but had joined them as they passed the Low Countries - this was perhaps supported by the additional presence of a Ruddy Shelduck with the same flock. What seems to be a genuine wild Red-breasted Goose was reported with Brent at Exmouth on Oct 7 (probably the bird that was there last year).

Wigeon: The mouth of the Langbrook stream just west of Langstone village has a regular flock of Wigeon each winter and the first of these was seen there on Oct 4 with 4 seen on Oct 8

Gadwall: A count of 200 at Alresford Pond near Winchester on Oct 3 was probably a site record but only a marginal increase on the numbers seen in that area (including Winchester sewage farm) in recent years.

Teal: Of local interest 18 Teal were back for the first time this winter on the flood pool in the Wade Court south pony field at Langstone on Oct 9

Sparrowhawk: The peak count of passage birds so far this winter was of 387 at a Netherlands site on Oct 3

Peregrine: An unusal observation in Devon on Oct 7 was of a Peregrine catching a wader in the Kingsbridge estuary area and then being chased and robbed of its prey by a Raven

Water Rail: These have been moving to winter quarters in big numbers during the past week - peak counts of passage birds seen on the near continent have been 86 on Oct 4, 130 on Oct 5, 54 on Oct 7 and 24 on Oct 8. Confimation that some of these long distance fliers have reached southern England comes from Durlston where one was heard squealing on Oct 8 in an area where Water Rails would not normally occur.

Spotted Crake: Two birds were on different islands in the Scillies this week with a third reported in France.

Avocet: The number at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour was up to 600 on Oct 7

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: On Oct 2 two juveniles were at Scotney Court (Rye Harbour) and a third bird was at Arlington reservoir in the Cuckmere valley but by Oct 6 all three were together at Scotney where they were still present on Oct 8

Black-tailed Godwit: Several hundred are currently roaming around Chichester Harbour but this week's top scoring site is Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour where 1000 were seen on Oct 4

Bar-tailed Godwit: The number in Chichester Harbour was up to 208 on Oct 4 this week

Little Gull: Numbers in the English Channel seem to be increasing with 54 at Dungeness on Oct 3 and 116 there on Oct 6. On Oct 3 one of these birds was seen inland over Alresford Pond near Winchester.

Stock Dove: We should soon be seeing flocks of these in southern England following reports from the near continent of 144 at a Netherlands site on Oct 3, 544 there on Oct 4 and 353 on Oct 5. So far this autumn the only flock I have heard of in southern England was of 76 birds at Timsbury in the Test valley on Sep 23.

Wood Pigeon: The first report of a 1000+ flock comes from Belgium on Oct 8 when 1457 were recorded.

Turtle Dove: A few are still around with singles at both Portland and the Scillies on Oct 7. On Oct 4 one was seen on the Brownwich Cliffs west of Titchfield Haven

Little Owl: Two revealed their presence in the Cuckmere Valley by calling to each other on Oct 7

Long-eared Owl: A migrant was at Dungeness on Oct 4

Short-eared Owl: Nine reports of what were probably cross Channel migrants were made between Oct 2 and 7 and a tenth occurred on Oct 9 when Barry Collins saw one arrive on Thorney Island from the south while he was carrying out WeBS counts.

Swift: Seven new reports between Oct 3 and 8 included a sighting of one going over Southampton University on Oct 8. In the Netherlands an Alpine Swift was seen on Oct 4

Wryneck: Several of these are still in the Scillies and one was seen at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 8

Skylark: A report of 3521 at a Belgian site on Oct 4 relects a movement which has been seen at many English sites this week (14 passed over Sandy Point on Hayling that day)

Yellow Wagtail: 'Many' were still to be seen at the Pagham Harbour North Walls on Oct 8

Grey Wagtail: A count of 129 at a Netherlands site on Oct 4 was unusually large for this species

Dunnock: The peak count of migrants that I saw this week was 63 in the Netherlands and on Oct 9 I heard and saw one by the Brockhampton Stream in Havant behaving as a newly arrived migrant might do - calling repeatedly to see if the area was already occupied and moving from bush to bush to asses the potential of the site as a winter residence. On Oct 5 Brian Fellows says that he heard one at the Emsworth Brook Meadow site and I assume that it was song that he heard rather than just calls - if so perhaps the song was a residents response to the calls of a migrant 'invader'.

Robin: The migrants which have been leaving Europe since the beginning of September are now reaching our west country with a comment on Oct 3 that the first migrants reaching Devon had been seen that day during a seawatch at Start Point. On Oct 8 another Devon birder reported his first influx of migrant Robins

Black Redstart: On Oct 4 what I assume to be newly arrived migrants were seen on south Hayling (Sinah Common) and at Gilkicker Point at Gosport. Also that day 3 were seen on West High Down (IoW)

Common Redstart: On Oct 4 Brian Fellows was very pleased to have one appear twice in his Emsworth garden - one of just nine reports of this species from southern England this week

Stonechat: By Oct 4 there were 10 present on the Lymington marshes and there were 6 on Sinah Common (south Hayling), and on Oct 7 East Head in Chichester Harbour also had 10

Ring Ouzel: A total of 26 reports this week shows that there are still plenty of these that have not left us - on Oct 4 six were seen together on West High Down (IoW)

Blackbird: On Oct 4 a small influx was noticed at Seaford in Sussex and on Oct 8 Sandwich Bay recorded the arrival of 30 from the sea

Song Thrush: I have only noted 13 reports this week but large numbers have been moving in the Netherlands (20,212 at one site on Oct 4 and 6,970 on Oct 5)

Redwing: The first report of birds heard passing overhead in the dark came from Christchurch on the evening of Oct 7 with others heard over Romsey in the Test Valley on the evening of Oct 8. On Oct 9 a Yorkshire site reported a total of 3912 which had presumably come in from the North Sea.

Mistle Thrush: Several reports from southern England this week probably reflect the arrival of birds from the continent (9 at Sandwich on Oct 2, 3 at Andover on Oct 3, 1 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 4, 1 in Staunton Country Park in Havant on Oct 5 when 2 were seen at Durlston, and 2 over south east Hayling on Oct 7) but there should be more to come following a report of 154 at one Netherlands site on Oct 8

Departing summer migrants: None of the regular species have yet disappeared from south coast sites but numbers are rapidly disminishing

Goldcrest: Numbers of these have shot up this week presumably as a result of thousands of these tiny birds flying across the Channel or the North Sea. Peak count on the south coast was 63 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 7

Great Grey Shrike: These are now being seen daily on the near continent with counts of up to 3 at individual sites but so far none have appeared in southern England though a Woodchat Shrike was found in the Scillies on Oct 2

Jackdaw: These have now joined the list of birds on the move - the first notable count was of 471 at a German site on Sep 30 with 613 there on Oct 4 and 400 in Belgium on Oct 8. Over here Durlston noted 40 passing on Oct 5 and Christchurch Harbour had 27 on Oct 7. On Oct 9 a count of 1742 at a Netherlands site showed that the movement has stepped up a gear.

Raven: The presence of four at Farlington Marshes on Oct 8 is said to have created a new site record.

Starling: The biggest flock I have heard of along the central south coast this autumn has been on 750+ at Lymington on Oct 8 but across the water there have been counts of 17,298 at a Netherlands site on Oct 4 and 19,060 at another on Oct 8

Rose Coloured Starling: One was seen with Starlings in Poole Harbour area on Oct 3 and 4

Chaffinch: A Netherlands site reported 46,244 on Oct 4 when Dungeness had 840, Sandwich Bay had 410, Sandy Point on Hayling had 42, Durlston had 690, and Christchurch Harbour had 370. Since then numbers have been generally increasing.

Brambling: 18 reports this week include a count of 496 at a Netherlands site on Oct 5 while over here there has been one at Sandy Point, Hayling on Oct 4 and a peak of 14 at Christchurch Harbour that same day

Greenfinch: Oct 7 brought counts of 230 at Christchurch Harbour, 90 at Browndown, Gosport, and 62 on Hayling

Goldfinch: These too are now with us in big numbers. On Oct 7 Barton on Sea recorded 2474, Durlston had 1780, Christchurch Harbour had 1350, and there were 1200 in the Climping area near Worthing

Siskin: On Oct 4 Sandy Point on Hayling had 500 and Christchurch Harbour had 520, on Oct 6 Durlston had 460 and on Oct 7 Barton on Sea had 257

Linnet: Durlston recorded around 2000 on Oct 7 and Sandy Point on Hayling had 1100 on Oct 4 with plenty of other reports during the week

Twite: 25 were seen in Yorkshire on Sep 22 but so far there have been none on the south coast despite counts of up to 19 birds at German sites this week

Hawfinch: One was seen in the Worthing area on Oct 7 and maybe the same bird flew over Sandy Point, Hayling, on Oct 9. Across the water on Oct 6 one Netherlands site had a count of 56 birds

Snow Bunting: 17 reports this week, of which 11 come from the west country (Devon to the Scillies) but Oct 8 brought the first of the winter to East Head at the mouth of Chichester Harbour

Cirl Bunting: I knew that the RSPB had had success in re-establishing a small population in Devon over recent years but I did not know that they have now set up a similar project in Cornwall using 70 chicks taken from the Dorset population (last year or earlier). Those birds have raised 39 chicks of their own in Cornwall this year. To save these youngsters from predation by a local pair of Sparrowhawks the RSPB has invested in buying captive bred Quails, killing them and placing the corpses close to the Sparrowhawk nest in the hope the adult Sparrowhawks will prefer this easy option for feeding their own young (it seems to have worked though I have never before heard of Sparrowhawks taking carrion instead of catching live prey). This technique was based on a similar method of protecting Little Tern young in East Anglia.

Reed Bunting: These are only now starting to move in large numbers - on Oct 7 Christchurch Harbour had 115 and on Oct 8 there were 190 at a German site. Locally there were 25 at East Head in Chichester Harbour on Oct 7

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker is the only dragonfly reported this week

Butterflies

Brimstone, Large and Small White were all seen this week

Small Copper: Seven reports with one seen by me on the Budds Farm shore of Langstone Harbour on Oct 9

Brown Argus: Just one seen on Beachy Head on Oct 4

Common Blue: Two reports, the latest being of one in the Brighton area on Oct 4

Red Admiral: Ten reports with one still flying in my garden on Oct 10 and a report of 210 at a Belgian site on Oct 9. An interesting report on Oct 7 of more than 10 nectaring on the flowers of a Strawberry Tree in a Christchurch garden.

Small Tortoiseshell: Just one report of a single seen at Edburton in the Brighton area on Oct 8

Peacock: Two reports of singles from southern England and one of 52 butterflies in Belgium on Oct 8

Comma: Three reports, the last being of 3 in the Chilbolton area near Andover

Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown: Not surprisingly still on the wing up to Oct 8

Wall Brown: One seen at Durlston on Oct 6

Small Heath: Last sighting at Beachy Head on Oct 4

Moths

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Seven reports this week including one found nestled up to the light bulb of a moth trap for warmth! Many of these will now be seeking places in which to hibernate as quite a few manage to do in southern England nowadays

Clifden Nonpareil: One of these beauties came to a moth trap at Wadhurst near Crowborough on Oct 5

Other Insects

Rose Sawfly: Two photos, seen by me this week, of what were said to be Rose Sawflies, each a female in the act of sawing into the stem of a Rose to lay her eggs, had several differences in the colour of their bodies and legs. As yet I have no answer to the dilemma this poses - were the two normal colour variations of the same species? is there more than one species of Sawfly making use of the same ecological niche? A positive answer to either of these questions seems unlikely so what have I overlooked?

Hornet: Sightings, in the Staunton Country Park and in a Christchurch garden, of Hornets still on the wing (and no doubt doing so unrecorded in many other places) reflect what I call the Hornets 'Death Leave'. Having finished the domestic duties of raising this years young Queens which alone will survive the winter the many workers, fated to die when the cold sets in, are now free to roam the countryside and are thus seen by many more people than they would be when restricted to working within a short distance of their nest

Ladybirds: See my preface to this week's summary concerning the consequences of these and other insects having to abandon the way of life they have followed during the summer and seek places in which to hibernate or spend the winter

Bush Crickets: Speckled Bush Crickets were still being seen at Dungeness up to Oct 8 and with news of them comes late news of a different Bush Cricket found dead in a water butt there about a month ago but only now positively identified as a Southern Oak Bush Cricket, yet another species currently extending its range in southern England and so a newcomer to the Dungeness site

Dock Leaf Bug (Coreus marginatus): Brian Fellows was puzzled to find a large number of these on leaves along a hedgerow on Oct 8 and I have included in the preface to this summary my own thoughts on why these insects decided to come out and show themselves at this time of year

Nursery Tent Spider (Pisaura mirabilis): Also found by Brian Fellows in surprisingly large numbers on Oct 8. Again see my thoughts in the preface to this summary.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Bulbous Buttercup: Flowering in Emsworth on Oct 5 - a new addition to the autumn re-flowering list

Hoary Cress: Another unexpected addition to the autumn re-flowering list with a single plant flowering in Havant on Oct 9

Common Dog Violet: Both Brian Fellows and John Goodspeed report this in flower at the west end of the main avenue in Stansted Forest on Oct 8 (Brian was uncertain of the id but I have found the Common species here in past years and cannot think of another likely species)

Tree Mallow: Flowering in Emsworth on Oct 5 (I found a specimen flowering in the Sandy Point area on Sep 21)

Bastard Toadflax: Said to be flowering at Durlston on Oct 9

Storks Bill: This week I was asked to name flowers recently found within the Sandy Point reserve on Hayling and I could see that they were a Stork's Bill species but with unusually hairy pedicels and unusually pale flowers, both of which features suggested Sticky Storks Bill (a species I have never seen) so I checked the possibility with the Hants Flora and was interested to read of Sticky Storks Bill (Erodium lebelii) that .. "A record for south Hayling is not supported by a specimen and cannot be confirmed. Plants seen recently at this locality are glandular forms of Common Storks Bill but, as suitable habitat exists there, the Sticky species might occur." I take this as confirmation that the photo (which did not show very hairy leaves and plants which did not grow on bare sand) is of the 'glandular form of Common Storks Bill'

Yellow Flowered Strawberry: The plants in Juniper Square at Havant were at last showing fully open flowers on Oct 8

Cow Parsley: A single plant was found flowering on Oct 2 in the Chidham village area by the Havant Wildlife Group. After speaking to Brian Fellows I am happy that it was not Hemlock that they saw.

Fools Watercress (Apium nodiflorum): I had not seen this flowering since August until I found it in the Langbrook stream on Oct 9

Cross-leaved Heath: Apparently re-flowering in Havant Thicket on Oct 5 as I had not seen it on recent visits there

Potato Vine (Solanum jasminoides): On Oct 7 Brian Fellows not only confirmed that the massive plant in a hedge just outside the Seagull Lane entrance to Brook Meadow was in full flower but also found three small plants of it growing within the reserve, thus adding one to the reserve's plant list

Sharp-leaved Fluellen: Found in flower in the harvested arable field behind Conigar Point at Warblington Farm on Oct 6

Red Hemp Nettle: This rarity was flowering at Rye Harbour on Oct 7

Field Forget-me-not: Another addition to the October flowering list for Havant on Oct 9

Green Alkanet: Another addition to the October flowering list for Havant on Oct 7

Sneezewort: A late flowering seen by John Goodspeed in the Southwick village area north of Portsdown on Oct 2

Least Lettuce: Another of the Rye Harbour rarities found flowering on Oct 7 (along with Stinking Hawksbeard and Red Hemp Nettle) - all three achieving their latest ever flowering date

OTHER WILDLIFE

Noctule Bat: A count of 116 Noctules got into the list of 'remarkable' bird sightings for one Netherlands site on Oct 4

Basking Shark: Also in the birding news for Cornwall was a single Basking Shark seen on Oct 2 while the Scillies birders on Tresco recorded 2 Minke Whales on Oct 3

Fungi: Fly Agaric, False Death Cap and the Blusher found in several places and the first Parasols seen in the Stansted main avenue. Honey Fungus now rampant and Shaggy Inkcaps found in several places. Slimy Waxcap (Hygrocybe unguinosa ( or irrigata)) appeared in my garden and in Havant Thicket I found the Splendid Webcap (Cortinarius splendens) and eventually identified a very pale Pleurotus cornucopiae (not sure why it is now called the Branching Oyster) among at least 25 fungal species which included several clumps of Weeping Widow and one cluster of Yellow Club (Clavulinopsis helvola). Near the Havant Thicket carpark some Grass leaves were coated with a white powdery substance which most people would not immediately recognise as a fungus but which is one called Epichloe typhina and its appearance as a tight collar around the affected grass earns it the name of Choke Disease. Photos of the Pleurotus cornucopiae, Cortinarius splendens and Epichloe typhina can be seen in my diary page for Oct 8


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

(Skip to previous week)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

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

Butterflies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Admiral: Active up to Sep 30

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

Small Tortoiseshell: Latest was one at Ropley on Sep 25

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

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

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

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

Meadow Brown: Seen up to Sep 26

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

Moths

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

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

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

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

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

Other Insects

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

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

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

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

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER WILDLIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


To see Summaries for October to December 2010 go to OCT-DEC 2010 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to September 2010 go to JUL-SEP 2010 SUMMARIES

No Summaries available for April to June 2010

To see Summaries for January to March 2010 go to JAN-MAR 2010 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2009 go to OCT-DEC 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to September 2009 go to JUL-SEP 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2009 go to APR-JUN 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for January to March 2009 go to JAN-MAR 2009 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for October to December 2008 go to OCT-DEC 2008 SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for July to September 2008 go to JUL-SEP 2008 SUMMARIES

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


GO TO ... DAILY DIARY HOMEPAGE MONTHLY HIGHLIGHTS SPECIES LISTS MAPS ABOUT RALPH HOLLINS