Winter Moth – last 'New For Garden' of 2010

   There are several species of moth that remain on the wing on mild nights throughout the winter months.  However, although I continued to catch a few moths in my Fareham garden in late October, my first two attempts in November resulted in absolutely nothing.  Since then my moth trap has remained unused in the garage until last night.  

   My last opportunity to setup my moth trap in 2010 resulted in just one moth.  However, the Winter Moth that I found on the outside of my Heath Trap this morning was ‘New For Garden’.  Despite the recent milder night time temperatures I am surprised that it survived the prolonged severe cold spell. 

Male Winter Moth, Fareham Garden – 30 Aug 10

   Hopefully I will be able to add December Moth and Mottled Umber to my garden list in the New Year.  

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Single Pink-footed Goose at Farlington – a Hampshire rarity

   This morning, while I observed sixteen Bar-tailed Godwit on the foreshore at Hook with Warsash, I received a text from Steve that informed me of the Pink-footed Goose at Farlington Marshes.  Although I have seen thousands of ‘Pink Feet’ in different parts of the UK I had yet to see one in Hampshire.  As I couldn’t of been much further away from my car when I received the text I opted to continue my loop of the reserve before heading for Farlington.  Thankfully I had an apple with me which was my lunch. 

   North of Workman’s Lane I spotted fourteen Stock Dove that provided me with an excuse to post another old drawing of mine on the blog.  Other highlights from Hook with Warsash included two female Eider offshore and two Buzzard. 

   I arrived at Farlington Marshes at around 1300 and opted to walk anticlockwise around the seawall.  It wasn’t until I was on the southern seawall that I spotted the first White-fronted Goose that emerged from behind an undulation in the ground in the centre of the reserve.  It was followed by a further fourteen.  As I tried to ‘string’ one of them in to a ‘Pink Foot’ I met up with Ash, a fellow Hampshire birder, who informed me that the juvenile Pink-footed Goose was still present. 

   It was from the eastern seawall that I finally spotted the Pink-footed Goose.  The bird was amongst the White-fronted Geese and could easily of been mistaken for one of the juvenile ‘White-fronts’.  However, its pale grey rather than brown back, beak colouration and ‘pink’ rather that ‘orange’ legs did make the ‘Pink Foot’ stand out on closer inspection.  

14 of the flock of 16 Geese that comprised of 15 White-fronted Goose and a Pink-footed Goose, Farlington Marshes – 27 Dec 10

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

5 Goose day at Farlington

Got a call from Slasher late this morning that a Pink-footed Goose was among a small flock of White-fronted Geese at Farlington Marshes. This is a bird I need for Hampshire so twenty minutes later I met up with him at the reserve. From the car park we had a Male Marsh Harrier hunting over the reedbed.  We walked around clockwise and soon had plenty of Brent Geese in the bins but no others so we headed to the seawall. It was here that we met Simon Ingram and his wife and he gave us a quick brief on the Pink-foot situation. We picked up the bird a little later on among 15 White-fronted Geese. Fortunately it was standing on its own just behind the other so stood out well if a little distant. 4 Barnacle and a few Canada Geese were nearby.  A few hundred metres later we came upon Andy Johnson and because he is a good birder he had a scope with him that enabled us to get closer views of the bird. The Marsh Harrier which had been making several passes over the reedbed as we watched was joined by a second bird, another male just before we left. So we had 5 species of Geese and two Marsh Harriers to cap a cracking visit. Things just got better later on, for as we returned to the car park I noticed that my car still had all its windows; brilliant.Pink-footed, White-fronted, Barnacle, Brent and Canada Geese, Farlington, 27 Dec 2010

Steve Copsey

Ranvilles on Boxing Day

Had a couple of walks over recent mornings around the Oxley’s/Ranvilles Loop.  I was hoping for the Woodlark but no joy as yet. Plenty of Skylark though with around 160 south of Oxley’s in the winter crop field on Christmas Eve. Nearby were at least half a dozen Reed Buntings a few Meadow Pipits, Redwings and Fieldfares. At least two Kestrels have been seen by the RSPCA centre along with the odd Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. From Ranvilles Lane itself I had eight Stock Doves on the manure pile on Christmas Eve and today in the next field north I had 49 Golden Plover and 46 Lapwing. Several small flocks of Goldfinch were encountered along Ranvilles and Oxley’s but no Siskin or Redpoll as yet. The fields south of Oxley’s had caught the frost on Boxing Day morningReed Bunting in the same field, Boxing day.Redwing, Ranvilles, Christmas EveFieldfare, Ranvilles, Christmas EveKestrel, Ranvilles, Boxing DayGoldfinch, Ranvilles, Boxing DayGolden Plovers and Lapwings, Ranvilles, Boxing DayRoe Deer, three out of five, Ranvilles Lane, Boxing Day

Steve Copsey

Waxwings in Gosport

Managed to get a little Waxwing action this afternoon. I was running errands for (and with) the wife so time was not exactly on my side. However I dropped quite lucky because as we drove into St Helens Rd a flock of around thirty birds dropped into a large tree besides the road. I managed a few shots from the car and then had a walk around with Ian Calderwood and another chap as the Waxwings zipped from tree to tree.  There was a dearth of berries in the immediate vicinity as a good many had been knocked to the floor and every so often the whole flock would drop down to the roadside verges to feed. Hopefully the sun will continue to shine for the next few days as I am still after that all important feeding shot. After half an hour and several counts I had exactly 50 birds on the best count although there were plenty of coming and goings so there is a good chance more are still in the area.Waxwing, Gosport, 24 Dec 2010A selection of the fiftyWaxwings, Gosport, 24 Dec 2010Waxwing, Gosport, 24 Dec 2010

Steve Copsey

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River Wallington TTV

Spent the afternoon helping out with a TTV (Timed Tetrad Visit) that needed doing. The footpath I took ran from the back of Portsdown hill following the River Wallington North. Passerines were very quite with plenty of Corvids and Pigeons all over.  Blackbirds were spaced every 100 metres or so and a dozen Mallard were flushed from the river.  In total I saw 5 Buzzards in the 2 and a half hours I was out, a contrast to my early days in Hampshire during the 80s, when I would have had to go too the New forest for any chance of a Buzzard. Other highlights were two Grey Herons fighting in midair and a single Lapwing.
River Wallington, Fareham SU588088, 23rd December 2010
A very cold but pleasant walk in an area I have never explored before.
Mark C.

Scaup and 152 Great Crested Grebe at Brownwich

   This morning I got rather chilly walking around the Brownwich and Chilling area.  Unfortunately, there was no sign of yesterdays Bittern at Brownwich Pond, that was completely frozen over, although there was a Grey Heron and two Teal.  Apart from regular sightings of all five thrush species most of the birding interest was offshore, where there was a complete lack of human disturbance. 

Brent Geese, Solent Breezes – 23 Dec 10

   The flock of 133 birds included a healthy number of juveniles.  There was a second flock of Brent Geese close inshore to the West of Solent Breezes. 

Brent Geese, Solent Breezes – 23 Dec 10

   Also offshore, from the Brownwich outflow, were three rafts of Great Crested Grebe that totalled 152 individuals.  On my last visit to the area ten days ago there was just a single raft of eighteen birds. 

Great Crested Grebe, The Solent – 23 Dec 10

   The bird of the day though was distant views of the female Scaup that has been reported in the area recently.  

   On Tuesday the highlight of a visit to Hook with Warsash was a single Avocet on the mud flats opposite Hook Spit.  After I took a couple of photographs, the bird began to swim across the channel towards the spit, but once it got half way it opted to fly the rest of the way.  

Avocet and Dunlin, Hook with Warsash – 21 Dec 10

   Back at home recent highlights have included the first Song Thrush and Goldcrest of the winter. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit

   I spotted two colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit this morning along the Titchfield Canal path.  The two birds were amongst a flock of thirty birds that approached very close to the canal path.  Despite the icy conditions under foot and the completely iced over Posbrook floods the birds were able to probe the soil for food in the adjacent field.  Several fresh mole hills also seemed out of sorts given the apparent freezing conditions. 

Black-tailed Godwit, Titchfield Canal – 20 Dec 10

Black-tailed Godwit, Titchfield Canal – 20 Dec 10 (right – 2 lime green over metal; left – yellow over red)

Black-tailed Godwit, Titchfield Canal – 20 Dec 10 (right – yellow and green over metal; left – green over red)

   Other highlights included three Snipe that were stood on iced over floods, a Water Rail in flight along the canal and two hundred plus Fieldfare in a field at Great Posbrooke Farm. 

   Below is a sketch of a Lapwing that I drew onboard the frigate HMS GRAFTON.  It was a time when my interest in birds began to be rekindled.  I spotted seventy eight on the walk from Titchfield to Hammonds Bridge. 

   At least you can tell what it is! 

   Fortunately, I made it back to the car before it began to rain. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

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Garden Tick – Waxwing

   Due to the overnight snowfall I monitored the back garden throughout the day on the off chance that I might spot an unusual visitor.  I was rewarded with a Garden Tick when I spotted two Waxwing perched on the branches of an oak tree.  The birds remained in the tree for ten minutes before flying off. 

Waxwing, Fareham Garden – 18 Dec 10

   A total of nineteen species visited the garden with a further six species (Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Canada Goose and Jackdaw) flying over the neighbourhood.  As well as the Waxwing, a single male Blackcap throughout the day and a Pied Wagtail were worthy of note.  The most noticeable absentees were Long-tailed Tit and Wren although I suspect they were around. 

   Waxwing was the 37th species to make it on my Garden List that does not include flyovers and the best yet. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSC (Hons) Geosci (Open)

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A Haven for Raven

Spent a few hours at the Haven today whilst killing time as my wife enjoyed her works Christmas Lunch in the Wigeon Room. Apparently it was very good under the new catering company. I was also hoping to connect with the Bittern again as the pictures I managed the other day were alright but not as sharp as I wanted; anyway the Bittern was a dip from Spurgin so that’s the end of that although I did have one on flight from the Meadow Hide which was initially picked up by Dave Pearce, (hoping I got the name right), with whom I enjoyed a good natter about all things photographic. Also from the Meadow Hide I had decent if a little distant views of the regular Buzzard and the male Marsh Harrier going about their business. Common Buzzard, Titchfield Haven, 17 Dec 2010Marsh Harrier, Titchfield Haven, 17 Dec 2010

A pair of Ravens made it onto the day list having flown in from the direction of Chilling so I would make a guess that these could be the same two birds I had at Hook on Wednesday. At one point they were feeding in company with the Buzzard without any interaction. However, a Great Black-backed Gull was not so easy on one of the Ravens and gave it a real chasing attempting to get the Raven to drop whatever morsel I could see it was carrying. Interesting to see how the Gull dwarfed and dominated the large Crow, but I did not see the Raven give up its meal. Snipe were encountered in front of a couple of the hides probing away in softer ground that had been warmed by the midday sun. Ducks were the other obvious feature of the visit. I counted over 300 Teal on the river all tight against the reedbed sheltering from a bitter north westerly, smaller numbers of Wigeon, Pochard and Tufted were also present on the river. At least another 100 Teal were seen on the north scrape along with Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard. 3 Barnacle Geese landed in front of the Meadow Hide mid morning and joined 8 Curlew that were already feeding in the grass.Snipe, Titchfield Haven, 17 Dec 2010

Steve Copsey

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A week of local 'birding' – Raven, 'Barwit', Pintail, Siskin, Barnacle Goose and Goosander

   After I successfully completed a very demanding twelve week course at HMS COLLINGWOOD I have been able to spend this week doing some well earned local ‘birding’. 

Fawley Power Station from Chilling Cliffs – 13 Dec 10

   I spent Monday in the Brownwich and Chilling area.  Highlights included a Grey Wagtail at Brownwich Pond, 40+ Golden Plover in the cliff top arable, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit on the foreshore and two Raven. 

Raven, Brownwich – 13 Dec 10 

   On Tuesday I headed for Hook with Warsash and ticked off my first Siskin of the year!  I spotted at least four birds amongst a Goldfinch flock within the woodland of Hook Valley.  Other highlights included a count of 52 Pintail on Links Scrape and a Rock Pipit at Hook Lake sluice. 

Wigeon, Hook Spit – 14 Dec 10

   On Wednesday I was only able to manage a short walk along the Wicor shoreline.  Highlights included 40+ Shelduck in Portsmouth Harbour, two Rock Pipit and a close encounter with a male Sparrowhawk that skimmed over a hedge and passed within a couple of metres of me.  

   Today I left the car in the driveway and spent the day on foot.  At Newlands Farm I encountered a single juvenile Goosander on the upper pond although it flushed almost immediately.  Probably the same bird was present on my return in the afternoon.  Two Fieldfare and two Snipe were also in the immediate area. 

Juvenile ‘Redhead’ (male ?) Goosander, Newlands Farm – 17 Dec 10

   Other highlights from the day included a single Barn Owl, Redwing, three Barnacle Goose, Bullfinch, a raft of 18 Great Crested Grebe, a female Eider and 55 Golden Plover.  In addition, I negotiated a couple of local footpaths that I have never been down before! 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)


Wazwings in Cosham

Yes I know its Waxwings not Wazwings but any regular readers of our blog will appreciate the in joke.  A quick look at birdguides yesterday and Waxwings reported in Cosham. Handily the wife wanted to go shopping so like a dutiful husband I said "no problem" and tagged along camera in hand.  The weather was stinking but I stalked around the High Street looking in the top of every tree until I located the group in the carpark behind Iceland.Waxwings, Cosham, 16th December 2010
As you can see the standard of photography is just below the usual fare set by our main blogger Steve C.  I counted 19 in this group and I am sure I had another smaller group of six or seven fly over.  They quickly moved on and were last seen moving north.
Just for comparison and too prove I do know one end of a camera from the other, here is a single bird from Hayling Island in 2008.
Waxwing, Hayling Island, 01 December 2008
As you can see the Waxwing moves the berry around before swallowing it too ensure the stalk doesn’t scratch the birds throat as it passes through.
Great birds, always welcome visitors at this time of year.
Mark C.

Siskin along the canal

A walk along the canal path this morning provided a few interesting birds. A count of 380 Wigeon in the fields just south of Bridge St was probably on the conservative side. Quite a few Black-tailed Godwits among them with at least two colour ringed birds present. Seven Siskins within a Goldfinch flock was a pleasant surprise and my first down the path for a couple of years, they were feeding on Alder cones. Also along the canal were at least three Great Spotted Woodpeckers and several decent sized Tit flocks with quite a few Goldcrests among them. No sign today of any Bitterns or Harriers and a single Buzzard was the only Raptor species seen.Great Spotted Woodpecker, Titchfield Canal Path, 13 Dec 2010Goldcrest, Titchfield Canal Path, 13 Dec 2010Siskin, Titchfield Canal Path, 13 Dec 2010Robin, Titchfield Canal Path, 13 Dec 2010

Wigeon, Titchfield Canal Path, 13 Dec 2010

Steve Copsey

Bittern at the Haven

Managed to spend the morning in the sunshine at the Haven. Overall the place was as expected rather quiet due to the overnight cold and frost. The river was ice free though and the haunt of many Tufties and Pochards. A few Teal and the odd Pintail were also present. No sign of the recent Smew though.  The meadows on the eastern side were unfortunately Goose free but the frying Pan was home to good numbers of Teal and Wigeon. The main scrape was nearly all ice but fortunately eleven acre mere was mainly water. As you would expect the ducks were taking advantage of this situation with Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and Shoveler all stocking up on supplies. The main attraction however was the Bittern that has been present for a few days now. Bittern, Titchfield Haven, 12 Dec 2010I had to wait half an hour for the first reed interrupted view and several more followed over the next 2 hours. These were all typical views as the bird stalked along, invariably just inside the edge of the reed bed. I was happy with the views but as always was hoping for more, The Bittern must have had the same thought as it then walked out of the reed bed and did a spot of preening and feather readjustment about 40 metres away. It then proceeded to walk in the direction of the hide and just as I was thinking about the superb shots I was about to take the bird jumped into air and flew into the reed bed. A great way to end the visit, but just a slight frustration that it did not come a little closer!Bittern, Titchfield Haven, 12 Dec 2010Bittern, Titchfield Haven, 12 Dec 2010. The lack of reeds not preventing the bird posturing.All good things come to an end.

Steve Copsey

Marsh Harrier and Bittern along the canal

Spent a few hours down the canal path over lunch. As I approached the Posbrook Floods quite a few Gulls and Wildfowl went into the air so I scanned around to see that a Male Marsh Harrier was causing the problem as it passed overhead. The light conditions at the time were quite poor and although I got off a few shots they were all silhouettes. I have lightened them a little and I believe the individual to be a 2nd year bird. Five minutes later a Common Buzzard was also causing problems over the floods as it too passed overhead. Neither bird seemed overly interested in hunting. I then walked along the south of the floods on the crossway path as I looked north a great many Wigeon and Teal took to the air from the area adjacent to the river but north of the floods. I could not see what had caused the birds to take to the air but I believe it was probably a Fox on the prowl. Many more birds were in the air compared to when the two Raptors had passed overhead.Marsh Harrier, Posbrook Floods, 9 Dec 2010Wigeon and Teal, Posbrook Floods, 9 Dec 2010

Further down the canal I came across a number of Redwings and Fieldfares which were feeding along the canal edge. The birds seemed quite jumpy and as soon as I got anywhere near them they would flit further along the path always around 50 metres in front of me which was quite frustrating. After a brew near Hammonds Bridge I returned north and as I walked out of the canal scrub area onto the meadow area I came face to face with a Bittern standing on the canal path. Needless to say the bird immediately flushed and flew into the reserve and I managed a couple of clumsy flight shots as my camera was clicking away at 1/40 of a second which is not ideal! Never the less a great bird and a first for me along the path. Ten minutes later what I assume was the same bird flew north towards the Posbrook Floods but dropped down short by around 200 metres.Bittern, Titchfield Canal Path, 9 Dec 2010Redwing, Titchfield Canal Path, 9 Dec 2010Cormorant, Titchfield Canal Path, 9 Dec 2010

Steve Copsey