Foxes are just like buses

Had a couple of hours down the canal path this evening after work. I have to say that migrant wise things were as expected at this time of day; pretty quiet. I did have a count of 33 Yellow Wagtails but they were rather distant in the centre of the field. As I was leaning against a double fence post I spotted a fox crossing the field heading my way. It had obviously not seen me as it approached nearer. The Fox which I would say was from a litter earlier this year stopped about twenty feet away from me and I managed a few shots as it stood still surveying the field margin, not really knowing what to do. After a pause of a few seconds it took off down the field at an amble and dropped into nearby cover.

Red Fox, Titchfield Canal, 31 Aug 2010

What I find remarkable is that it was only a couple of days back that I got as near to a ‘country’ fox as I have ever been and then today I managed it again. This time with the late evening sun casting a nice light on the proceedings.

A rather shabby Holly Blue on a canalside Bramble, 31 Aug 2010

Woodpigeon, Titchfield Canal, 31 Aug 2010

Woodpigeon, Titchfield Canal, 31 Aug 2010

Steve Copsey

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Yellow Wagtail musings

A minimum of 22 Yellow Wagtails made their way onto the day list on Sunday, well down on day before. Like yesterday this was a count of a flight flock so total numbers would probably be nearer 30.  Again they were feeding among the young bulls in the middle of the field, but heading my way. I crouched down near the fence and rattled off a few shots; fortunately the bulls kept coming and pulled the Wagtails along with them. At around thirty feet I got some decent shots but then 4 seconds later I was completely encircled by cattle. I could see the Wagtails flitting about the legs only a few feet away but other than the occasional glimpse I was stumped. I tried moving along the fence but wherever I went the bulls duly followed. After about twenty minutes I had to slip away, still with a wall of beef between me and the birds.

Yellow Wagtails, Titchfield Canal Path, 29 Aug 2010

Yellow Wagtails, Titchfield Canal Path, 29 Aug 2010

Yellow Wagtail, Titchfield Canal Path, 29 Aug 2010

Yellow Wagtail, Titchfield Canal Path, 29 Aug 2010

Steve Copsey

Ringing at the Haven

It is good to be back in the UK and whilst the other amigos where covering their local patches over the weekend I was helping out at the Haven with the morning ringing sessions.  In only my second year I am still learning and was a little rusty after nearly a year without touching a bird, so morning one was spent inputting biometrics into the log. This proved to be very busy as a total of 241 birds were rung, not far off the single day record.  As usual at this time of year Groppers were in attendance and 34 birds were rung.  A new bird for me at the site and a rare find was a Nightingale, other than that it was the usual warblers, robins etc
Grasshopper Warbler, Titchfield Haven 28th August 2010
Sunday proved to be bright but with a tiny bit of rain, good birds all day but not in the quantities of the previous day, highlights out of a total of 146 were a juvenile Spotted Fly and a Juv Lesser Whitethroat with a similar number of Groppers as the previous day.
Ringing again in the morning so hopefully something special for the blog tomorrow.
Mark C.

Local patch ticks – Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher

   Yesterday evening I walked around Newlands Farm, Fareham.  The highlight, a Wheatear, was encountered just ten minutes in to the walk perched on the western perimeter fence of HMS COLLINGWOOD. 

Wheatear, HMS COLLINGWOOD – 2 Aug 10

   Another recent highlight has been Spotted Flycatcher.  I encountered two at Hook with Warsash on Monday 23 Aug 10 and another along the Tichfield Canal on Thursday 26 Aug 10 (patch tick). 

Spotted Flycatcher, Titchfield Canal – 26 Aug 10

Treecreeper, Titchfield Canal – 26 Aug 10

   Immediately South of the Titchfield car park the eastern canal bank is being raised by Hampshire County Council to prevent the extensive winter flooding.  A ditch has been dug parallel to the course of the canal to provide earth to raise the level of the footpath.  

Titchfield Canal, immediately South of the car park – 26 Aug 10

The same stretch of canal viewed from the North – 19 Jan 08

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Red Fox and Roebuck

When I set of down the canal yesterday I nearly started singing ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’ Howard Keel style from Seven Brides for seven brothers, the weather was that nice. ……………… Only kidding mum I know it was from Oklahoma! However today was definitely Randy Crawford with ‘What a difference a day makes. The sky was overcast and the light non-existent, but you just never know so off I went. I passed by Ranvilles and bumped into Ken Martin but things were pretty quiet apart from the odd Blackcap and Willow Warbler. That said as I waited in one of the Bramble holes a cracking Red Fox walked past below me, literally at a distance of 10 feet. It was that close I could smell fox clearly, (Slasher can vouch for the Coppo Shonk). Due to the Bramble cover I could not get a shot but as Reynard walked away I managed a few shots which made him turn. It was the first time he was aware of my presence, I then managed a few more before he disappeared into cover. A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker landing in a nearby dead tree provided the only other photo opportunity but I had to over expose to get a half decent shot.

Red Fox, Ranvilles Scrub, 29 Aug 2010

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ranvilles Scrub, 29 Aug 2010

Down the canal I had good if brief views of A Lesser Whitethroat and six Blackcap feeding busily among the scrub as the north! I imagine they were just on a feeding loop. Unfortunately no Spotted Flycatchers this morning but as usual plenty of Phyllosc movement the whole length of the canal. A minimum of 22 Yellow Wagtails were feeding with cows but I’ll post a separate entry for them. A fine Roebuck provided another mammal shot. He was feeding near the middle floods with a hind.

Roebuck, Titchfield Haven, 29 Aug 2010

Robin, Titchfield Canal Path, 29 Aug 2010

Steve Copsey

Yellow Wagtail flock increase, Titchfield Canal.

With the sun shining this morning I made another visit to the Titchfield Canal. Complete contrast weather wise to yesterday but similar numbers and species of birds. Spotted Flycatchers were represented by two of their number and several Blackcap juvenile/females were moving through the scrub. Pleased to get onto a Sedge Warbler that looked slightly out of place 20ft up an Oak tree.

Sedge Warbler, Titchfield Canal Path, 28 Aug 2010

Blue Tit, Titchfield Canal Path, 28 Aug 2010

A single Nuthatch was calling just south of the tarmac section and as yesterday there was a steady stream of Phyllosc Warblers moving south. I would guess most of these would be Willow Warblers but the only bird of many that I actually got decent views of was most definitely a Chiffchaff. The Yellow Wagtail flock has increased significantly overnight. I counted 63 individuals in one flock and I know more were present in the field. I would estimate 80 to 100 birds was a more realistic figure. Unfortunately the cattle were towards the centre of the field but I managed a few distant shots. On the walk back north I also came across a mating pair of Migrant Hawkers, many Common Darters were seen along the canals length.

Yellow Wagtails, Titchfield Canal Path, 28 Aug 2010

Yellow Wagtails, Titchfield Canal Path, 28 Aug 2010

Mating Migrant Hawkers, Titchfield Canal Path, 28 Aug 2010

Steve Copsey

Titchfield Canal and Haven. Flycatchers and Warblers, 27 Aug 2010

Had a cracking day out today with my fellow Amigo’s Mark and Tony. The first time we have been out birding together since early spring. The day did not start too bright weather wise and the hoped for migrants down the Ranvilles Scrub were few and far between. A Sedge Warbler, a few Whitethroats and the odd Willow Warbler are all we got other than a decent soaking. We dropped down into Titchfield to walk the length of the canal but due to the weather we delayed our plan whilst we munched on excellent Bacon Baps at the Bugle Inn. This turned out to be a good move as by the time we had left the pub the rain had ceased and the hoped for migrants popped up as we headed south. The first Yellow Wagtails of the day were spotted near Posbrook Bridge and just beyond the tarmac stretch we came across two, possibly three Spotted Flycatchers; these birds put on quite a show as they wolfed down insects by the dozen. A little further on we had good views of Garden Warbler and a couple of Blackcaps, whilst the odd Cettis Warbler gave a burst or two of song in the background. Soon we added Reed Warbler and a family party of Reed Buntings near to Hammonds Bridge.

Reed Bunting, Titchfield Canal Path, 27 Aug 2010

Garden Warbler, Titchfield Canal Path, 27 Aug 2010

Looking over the Haven we counted good numbers of Swallows and both Sand and House Martins moving south. At least three Swifts also made in onto the day list. Near the sluice we had another thirty Yellow Wagtails in company with the Cattle and a single male Redstart was a great find perched on the fence in-between drop downs for insects. On the sea Tony picked up a pair of Common Scoter a few hundred metres offshore. The pair showed really well in the scope but just too distant to make a photo worthwhile. In the reserve itself we had at least three each of Green and Common Sandpiper.

Green Sandpiper, Titchfield Haven, 27 Aug 2010

Wheatear, Hill Head, 27 Aug 2010

Other hoped for waders were again thin on the ground possibly due to the unfeasibly high water levels in the scrapes for this time of year. Before we left Hill Head we had around 100 Turnstones flitting along the beach and a pair of Med Gulls rafting 30 metres offshore. A single Wheatear along the front was the last notable sighting of the afternoon. All in all a great days birding especially considering a very soggy start.

”Possible Short-tailed Shearwater moving east”…….Tony and Mark in action!!

Fulvous Whistling Duck, Hill Head, 27 Aug 2010. The crowds seemed to have drifted away from this long staying Yankee Mega.

Finally after a good day in the field we wanted to get a shot of the Three Amigos together for the first time on the blog since November 2008. We let Slasher set up the camera in self timer mode to take the photo!!!

Look out David Bailey.  

Steve Copsey…………..(how good do those legs look)

Ranvilles Patch

As Tony alluded to in the last post; due to the recent poor weather I have only managed a couple of visits down Ranvilles Lane when conditions were favourable. On Sunday afternoon I managed an hour but due to the rain at the time the camera was no where to be seen. As is often the case a couple of goodies turned up in the form of a splendid looking Lesser Whitethroat. Not sure if this bird had just carried out a moult as it was in pristine condition. Also a juvenile Redpoll dropped into the scrub as I stood beside Dan Houghton, the bird was picked up on call by Dan as it passed overhead but fortunately perched in an Elderberry Bush for a few minutes before alighting again. On Monday I had a Spotted Flycatcher and counted a minimum of 37 House Sparrows in one patch of scrub. These Sparrows will be part of the RSPCA flock which seems to be doing well over the last few years.

Spotted Flycatcher, Ranvilles, 23 Aug 2010

House Sparrows, Ranvilles, 23 Aug 2010


On Tuesday we had a few rays of sunshine between seven and eight and I was rewarded with views of two Blackcaps around a dozen Whitethroats and a constant movement of Phyllosc Warblers calling as they went. Tuesday also saw quite a movement of Swallows over the adjacent fields.

Whitethroats, Ranvilles, 23 Aug 2010. The adult, centre was seen feeding both these well grown juveniles.

Whitethroat, Ranvilles, 23 Aug 2010. A second look was needed as it looked like Lesser front on.Another Whitethroat, this one initially looked like a garden Warbler.Sunfly/Hoverfly sp. Not sure on the Id of this one but it was close to the size of a Honey Bee.

Steve Copsey



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Latest Fareham and Portchester garden mothing results

   Due to the poor weather since I returned from The Broads I have only had the trap out once over night in my back garden.  However, I was rewarded with two new species of macro and I ensured that I took a record photograph of a Flame Shoulder before I let it go.  

Flounced Rustic, Fareham Garden-23 Aug 10

Common Wainscot, Fareham Garden-23 Aug 10

Flame Shoulder, Fareham Garden-23 Aug 10

   For the second time I rigged my trap up over night in a garden in Portchester.  Once again the catch from a location only a few miles away from my own was noticeably different and included three species that were new to me. 

Cypress Pug, Portchester Garden – 24 Aug 10

Currant Pug / Wormwood Pug (FW 10mm), Portchester Garden – 24 Aug 10

Agriphila geniculea (micro), Portchester Garden – 24 Aug 10

   I have added a photograph below of a species of micro that I encountered several times during my week on The Broads that I was unable to identify.  I have been informed that it is possibly a female Ringed China-mark and after conducting some research on the Internet it gets my vote.  Interestingly I did not encounter any males. 

Probable female Ringed China-mark, Chedgrave Common, Norfolk – 16 Aug 10

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Yellow Wagtails down the Titchfield Canal

Spent a few hours this morning down the canal path. As has been the case this last couple of weeks there were good numbers of the commoner species.  I came across several flocks of Goldfinch, the largest numbering at least 39, feeding on a Thistle patch comprised mainly of juvenile birds. Also several Tit flocks were encountered in the canal side scrub and a good proportion of these were juvenile birds. Phyllosc Warblers were clearly on the move going by calls from the scrub and also a few Cettis Warblers decided to break into song as I passed. Just before the weather got too damp I came across a flock of 23 Yellow Wagtails feeding among cattle on the west bank, as I approached the cattle came to the fence and I was hoping the Wagtails would follow. Fortunately one or two ventured nearer but the majority stayed among a weed patch in the centre of the field. Hopefully they will hang around a while and I will endeavour to get a few more shots when the weather brightens. About half the Wagtails were juveniles so hopefully the species has enjoyed a successful breeding season.

Yellow Wagtail, Titchfield Canal Path, 25 Aug 2010

Yellow Wagtail, Titchfield Canal Path, 25 Aug 2010

Yellow Wagtail, Titchfield Canal Path, 25 Aug 2010


Not 100% but I believe the pictures above show a juvenile/1st winter, adult female and adult male.

Steve Copsey

A week on the Broads

   I spent last week cruising the Norfolk / Suffolk Broads with Mrs T and the girls.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing holiday in a wonderful landscape that was full of wildlife. 

Female Stag Beetle, Surlingham, Norfolk – 15 Aug 10

   We moored up for the first night at How Hill on the River Ant where we were treated to views of Barn Owl and Mash Harrier hunting on the adjacent reserve.  They were sights that were repeated throughout the week. 

How Hill, Norfolk – 13 Aug 10

   As well as regular sightings of good resident species we also had large numbers of waders on Breydon Water that included a flock of thirteen Common Sandpiper (lower River Bure), 450+ Avocet and 800+ Grey Plover. 

   There was also a hint of autumn migration with sightings of at least five Yellow Wagtail at Berney Marshes and a Whinchat at Thurne.     One species that was very numerous was Egyptian Goose.  They were everywhere.  I first noted two birds in flight but after I had spotted flocks of 26 and 43 on the river bank I stopped taking notes. 


Juvenile Egyptian Goose, Irstead, Norfolk – 19 Aug 10

   The target species for the holiday was not a bird but the Swallowtail Butterfly.  Although the best time to see the species is in May and June there is a second generation on the wing from mid-August and as we cruised along the River Bure around Horning and Wroxham I spotted four individuals fly across the river.  They were the only Swallowtail that we saw from the boat but during a visit to Hickling Broad NWT we saw another two. 

Swallowtail, Hickling Broad NWT, Norfolk – 19 Aug 10

   Although I refrained from buying a moth trap that would operate from a battery I did encourage moths with limited success each evening by leaving the curtains open as we played cards on the boat.  I was rewarded with Silver-Y, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Straw Dot, Common Rustic agg and Rustic. 

Straw Dot, Somerleyton, Suffolk – 17 Aug 10

   Away from the boat I was rewarded with two new species of macro moth.  The first was a dead Antler Moth that I noticed on a window sill at a pub where we had dinner one evening.  I don’t know if the landlord / lady had noticed a customer collecting dead insects from the pub’s window sills for identification but when we returned to the pub a couple of days later for lunch the window sills were spotless! 

Antler Moth (dead), Stokesby, Norfolk – 14 Aug 10

   The second new species was a large, colourful specimen that I spotted in flight that came to rest on a nearby telegraph pole.  I took it onboard in a plastic container, that I now always have to hand, and identified it as a Red Underwing. 

Red-underwing, Irstead, Norfolk – 19 Aug 10

   A sighting of an Otter swimming and diving on the River Waveney that all four of us were able to enjoy was the ‘champagne moment’ of the holiday.  However, the accolade of ‘best sighting’ belonged to the stunning Red Underwing Moth because unlike the Otter and Swallowtail Butterfly it was completely unexpected. 

Common Lizard Hickling Broad NWT, Norfolk – 19 Aug 10

Good birding,

Tony T   Bsc (Hons) Geosci (open)

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Pondskaters and Dragonfly Larva

Had a good mooch around the garden pond the other day. Managed a few shots of the local Pondskaters and also managed to shoot a Dragonfly Larva of what I guess will be Southern Hawker, but I am not 100%. I do know we have plenty of Southern Hawkers visiting the pond and I have seem them ovipositoring and emerging at various times. The Pondskaters always seem to be present and are quite interesting to watch as they stalk around catching mini-beasts that have landed on the surface. I am assuming the two photographed below are surrounded by aphids; although the adults were not showing an overly amount of interest in them.

Pondskater, Garden Pond, Aug 2010

Pondskater, Garden Pond, Aug 2010

Southern Hawker Larva, Garden Pond, Aug 2010


Steve Copsey

Flycatchers, Redstart and Wheatear down Ranvilles

Spent another hour or so this morning down Ranvilles with the dog. Yet again another successful visit and another patch first in the form of a Redstart. The female bird was actually on the field side path. Periodically jumping up to the adjacent vegetation to grab a morsel. Another surprise was a Wheatear; a single bird perched atop the scrub near the stables. It seemed to have trouble maintaining its balance and before too long had dropped into a nearby field. I also had at least three Spotted Flycatchers; maybe four. Two were obviously in company with each other and when one of the birds flitted somewhere the other was close behind. Then another (pictured below) dropped into some scrub nearby and I had a possible fourth bird nearer to the RSPCA stables.

Spotted Flycatcher, Ranvilles, 18 Aug 2010

Goldfinch and Wheatear, Ranvilles, 18 Aug 2010

A Sparrowhawk also put in an appearance and there were many Swallows passing through as I watched. Good to report also the number of ‘common’ birds around. Numerous Goldfinch flocks containing plenty of young birds, also plenty of Great and Blue Tit juveniles.

Woodpigeons, a few of the many, Ranvilles, 18 Aug 2010

The Sparrowhawk above flew past at speed; I managed a few shots but they were against the sun so I have lightened this picture in elements. Not the best image but always a great bird to see.

Steve Copsey

Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher and Tree Pipit down Ranvilles

Walked the dog on the Ranvilles loop yesterday morning, at this time of year there is usually a little movement of Warblers through the stream scrub behind the RSPCA fields. I had picked up several Whitethroats in the scrub along with a few Dunnocks. Then a movement of pale cream caught my attention. More than happy to get onto a female/juv Pied Flycatcher, my first for this local patch. I watched it for a few minutes and then it flitted north along the scrub line. I then bumped into Dan Houghton, who, within a few seconds picked up a Tree Pipit on call as it flew out of a nearby Oak, something I could never do with my hearing. Then as we talked he got onto a Spotted Flycatcher. As we both got the bird in the bins the Pied Flycatcher from earlier was perched just a few feet away in the same patch of Scrub.

 Pied Flycatcher, Ranvilles Lane, 16 Aug 2010

Spotted Flycatcher, Portland, Sep 2009

Further up the stream I got onto a single Garden Warbler and several more Whitethroats and Phyllosc Warblers. All in all a cracking hour.

Steve Copsey

Dover to Calais, courtesy of P and O

Just spent the last week on a family holiday in France. Visiting sites in and around the Somme region was the main priority of the trip and therefore birding was very low key to say the least. That said I did keep my eyes open and had a few decent birds such as Black Redstart and Marsh Harrier. On the ferry over from Dover I was hoping for Shearwaters and Petrels but I guess Gulls will have to do.  A Herring Gull to be precise. One particular bird following the ferry out of Dover hoping and receiving for easy pickings.

Herring Gull, English Channel, 7 Aug 2010

Keeping a close eye on proceedings.

Patience rewarded.

Herring Gull, English Channel, 7 Aug 2010


Steve Copsey