Oak Rustic at Stokes Bay


   On Friday the Fareham Moth Group met up under the Holm Oaks at Stokes Bay, Gosport, in search of Oak Rustic.  Despite forgetting my white sheet, half way through the session I was the only one to attract the target species to the lamp.  I had not just one but four Oak Rustics.  The first two were in good condition but the third and forth were very worn, suggesting that the species had been on the wing continuously since our last visit to the site two weeks before, when Alistair caught the only one.  All of my four had white markings, but two of the three caught later at other sheets had orange markings. 

Oak Rustic, Stokes Bay-28 Oct 11

Oak Rustic, Stokes Bay-28 Oct 11

Oak Rustic, Stokes Bay-28 Oct 11

Oak Rustic, Stokes Bay-28 Oct 11

   The most impressive moth however was a single Merveille du Jour at Kevin’s sheet.  Kevin also had a Mallow that would of been a second new species to me, but that was after my last visit to his sheet.  My last moth was a Cypress Carpet. 

Cypress Carpet, Stokes Bay – 28 Oct 11

   On Saturday afternoon I returned to the area to release the Oak Rustics and to take a stroll.  The best of the birding was two Pale-bellied Brent Geese that flew East along the shoreline and passed almost overhead.  Two Wheatear on the sports field was another noteworthy sighting. 

Wheatear, Stokes Bay – 29 Oct 11

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Black Redstart Movement in the Med

   It is a rare event to get a large amount of migrants on a ship, at the same time.  Yesterday I had my biggest “fall” yet, with maybe 15-20 birds onboard at once.  Amongst these were my first Black Redstarts of the autumn.

Black Redstart, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   There were at least 6 Robins, the same amount of Black Redstarts, a Whinchat, a Common Starling and a couple of Song Thrushes. 

Black Redstart, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Overhead passed a late Yellow Wagtail and I am pretty sure a calling Skylark.  In the hangar were a couple more Robins and a smart Male Blackcap. 

Blackcap, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Generally White Wagtails, Common Starlings and Robins have been seen over the last few days.  As for the last picture I did have four birds in the viewfinder at one point, 2 Robins and 2 Redstarts, but the image was blurred.  I must say Chats are some of my favourite birds. 

Black Redstart & Robin, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   I leave these areas very soon, so maybe one or two more Mediterranean Sea entries and then back home to good old blighty.  

Mark C. 

More Lepidoptera in the Med

   A New moth alighted onboard this week and although it seemed familiar I could only guess that it was a type of Wainscot.  After sending it out to a few friends, I have had White-Point and Clay suggested, but I am still not sure.  Any ideas anyone?

White-point?, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   This was followed a few days later by a Butterfly.  The guys who found it were intrigued by its tail moving and the markings at the back of its wing, which combined to give the appearance of a head and antenna.  This gives the butterfly a slight advantage when approached by a bird, from what the bird believes is the rear but in fact is the butterfly’s head.  I hope I am right in saying that this is a Long-tailed Blue. 

Long-tailed Blue, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

  Moths have been quite few and far between for a few weeks but I did have one more in the form of my second Crimson Speckled. 

Mark C.

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More new Migrants in the Med

   Over the last week I have had a few new migrants that I hadn’t seen out here previously.  In the hangar I had a small ‘greenish’ warbler, which gave fabulous views as I sat quietly on the gantry. 

Chiffchaff, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   This was one of two Chiffchaffs in the same amount of days.  The other entertained everyone as we gathered for a ship’s company photograph.  A Mediterranean Gull made a fleeting visit off the ship’s stern and a few more Starlings were in evidence, one of which unfortunately was found dead later that day.  This bird is under appreciated in the UK, in the hand the colours of it’s winter plumage are iridescent. 

Common Starling, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Another “new” bird appeared in failing light whilst I recovered from an hour in the gym.  A White Wagtail splashed down on the flightdeck, walked about for a minute and then flew off calling.  The next day a juvenile landed on the hangar roof, probably part of a small party of three birds seen five minutes before. 

White Wagtail, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Robins remain the most numerous bird with a few Blackcaps and a Song Thrush.

Mark C.

Beaded Chestnut, Large Wainscot, Satellite and a sixth MV Lamp

   Yesterday evenings trip to West Meon, by the Fareham Moth Group, provided me with the ideal opportunity to test out my newly acquired 125W Mercury Vapour DIY Kit that cost £38.00 from Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies.  Unfortunate though, I hadn’t finished making it.  Although I had wired up the Lamp Holder and Choke to some off cuts of wood from the garage, I had yet to fit a connector to the bare flex.  Therefore, on route I stopped off to buy 10m of cable, a three-pin plug and a push fit connector.  On site and with the light provided by Richard’s lamp, I was able to attach the fittings and connect my finished product to Richard’s portable generator.  Thankfully it didn’t go bang and within five minutes I had my first moth, a Brick.  That was followed by another Brick and singles of Chestnut, Common Marbled Carpet and Barred Sallow.  All I need now is my own portable generator. 

My completed DIY 125W MV lamp kit. 

Brick, West Meon – 21 Oct 11

Chestnut, West Meon – 21 Oct 11

   Other highlights from the evening included Beaded Chestnut, Large Wainscot, and Satellite (so called because of the two small dots either side of the white kidney-mark).  Although the three species are common they were all new to me.  

Beaded Chestnut, West Meon – 21 Oct 11

Large Wainscot, West Meon – 21 Oct 11

Satellite, West Meon – 21 Oct 11

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

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Song Thrush migration in the Med

   Another new migrant appeared this week, one that I should have realised I might actually see having rung a few in Gibraltar over the years on autumn passage.  It was a Song Thrush in the hangar and since that first individual we have seen c10 more over 4-5 days. 

Song Thrush Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Robins remain numerous, very common around the ship.  When two birds are close to each other, especially in flight, they will call to each other with the usual “tic” call.  Some are extremely tame and have more than a few friends with some of the ship’s company.

Robin, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Another “new” bird appeared as I was stood by the hangar door that I initially took it to be another Robin.  It flew straight at me and then landed on the Hangar roof.  I reeled off some shots and was pleased to find it was a Lesser Whitethroat. 

Lesser Whitethroat, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Let’s hope for a few more birds before I have to depart for home waters.

Mark C.

Migration Slowdown in the Med

   A pretty quite week in all with just a trickle of birds seen.  Robins have been the most numerous species with a few birds in the hangar and some reported on the upper deck, but once again these are an easy species for the average sailor to identify, even though most are confused by the fact that we have a winter bird off the coast of North Africa. 

Robin, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011
   The Robins that are found in the hangar often fly in and out of their own accord, whereas Reed Warbler or Blackcap will only fly out if the door is fully up.  They cannot comprehend that they need to fly down to get through a half open door. 

Robin, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   I did get a new bird in the hangar the other day.  It was dusk and I popped in to see what had taken shelter, immediately hearing a bird call.  It was a Juvenile Yellow Wagtail and in attendance was yet another Reed Warbler.  Often seen and heard but rarely do Yellow Wagtail take shelter onboard.  Obviously this bird had mistimed its movement and it would have been dark before it made landfall.  In the morning it flew off strongly to the South. 

Yellow Wagtail, Mediterranean Sea, October 2011

   Other than above just a few Hummingbird Hawk-moths causing havoc in the hangar once again. 

Mark C.

Autumn Sunshine

Not had much chance to post for the last few weeks and I thought I had been letting the side down a bit. This morning with the sun shining I thought I would get out for a pair of hours. After dropping off my son at work I popped down to Meon Shore and was pleased to see a good number of Brent Geese already back for the winter. I would estimate 300 or so birds present off the sailing club. I did see juveniles among them but did not do a count. Nice to bump into Geoff Jones along the front as well as seven pinging Bearded Tits near the Haven’s west entrance, a Raven overhead heading west was a bonus.

Little Egret, Titchfield Haven, 15 Oct 2011

Later on I bumped into the Gilkicker bird group and they had a count of 12 Beardies. Plenty of birdsong up the canal path. Principally Robins and Wrens but also 7 Cettis were heard as I headed towards Hammonds Bridge. Two of the Robins were seen feeding on now very ripe blackberries.

Robin, Titchfield Canal Path, 15 Oct 2011

Tucking In

 A Blackcap and Chiffchaff were also seen as was both Treecreeper and Nuthatch in a mixed Tit feeding flock. A total of eight Jays were seen along the path; all carrying acorns for their winter larder. Insect wise I had a single Common Darter sunning on the path and several Red Admirals and Speckled Woods making the most of the late autumn sunshine.


Common Darter, Titchfield Canal Path, 15 Oct 2011Speckled Wood, Titchfield Canal Path, 15 Oct 2011                               Steve Copsey

Grey Pine Carpet and Frosted Orange at Botley Wood

   It was Plan B on Friday for the Fareham Mothing Group due to the strong breeze.  The location was Botley Wood and it resulted in me encountering two new species, Grey Pine Carpet (2) and Frosted Orange. 

Grey Pine Carpet, Botley Wood – 7 Oct 11

Frosted Orange, Botley Wood – 7 Oct 11

   Green Brindled Crescent was encountered last week but on this occasion a single dark form of the species was attracted to one of the lamps, in addition to the more attractive pale form. 

Green-brindled Crescent (dark form), Botley Wood – 7 Oct 11

Green-brindled Crescent (pale form), Petersfield – 30 Sep 11

   Another insect encountered over the weekend was the spider photographed below.  I have no idea what species it is.  I initially took no notice of what I presumed to be a small mushroom, until it started to move across the footpath. 

Araneus quadratus, Hook with Warsash – 9 Oct 11.  Many thanks to Ralph Hollins for confirming the ID

   I also encountered my first Dark-bellied Brent Geese of the autumn at Hook with Warsash.  There were fifty-five at Links Scrape this afternoon before they noisily took flight. 

Brent Geese, Hook with Warsash – 9 Oct 11

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (open)

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October Migrants in the Med

   The Last week has seen a few migrants that I would definitely associate with October.  A few days ago we saw our first Blackcap, a female, from then on there has been a steady trickle. 

Blackcap (male), Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   The very next day and two Robins were onboard.  This is the first autumn record for the ship for both of these species.  No pics of Robins though I am afraid.  Other than that more of the same, a few more Reed Warblers in the hangar. 

Reed Warbler. Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   One evening there were four Barn Swallows in the hangar with three the next night.  The bird photographed below is sat on the tail rotor blade of the helicopter. 

Barn Swallow, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   Still one or two Garden Warblers, making an appearance. 

Garden Warbler, Mediterranean Sea – October 2011

   The only surprise this week was two Common Starlings, they took me a while to ID as it was nearing dusk and the light was bad.  A good test for any birder, take the bird out of its natural surroundings and habitat and then ID a silhouette or glimpse, it’s not that easy, well not for me anyway. 

Mark C.

Hawk-moth at sea in the Med

   The reaction of men when they see an insect they don’t know never ceases to amaze me.  In the last few weeks we have had at least four Hummingbird Hawk-moths in the hangar and there was excitement each time.  I was asked “do they sting?” more than once.  Most of the visits were quickly in and out but one did linger long enough to get put into the Ship’s Flight’s sugar container.  A smart moth whilst sitting but amazing in flight. 

Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Mediterranean Sea, October 2011

   My second treat of the week was a Dragonfly.  Once again I used the superb Birdguides IPhone app and quickly found that this was a female Red-veined Darter, an immigrant to Britain but common around this part of Europe.  

Red-veined Darter, Mediterranean Sea, October 2011

   More of the same please this week, another species of Hawk-moth would be grand.

Mark C.

Gulls and Migrants in the Med

   The last week has not seen a massive amount of variety but I have had records every day.  My first surprise was the ship being followed by two gulls, as I have gone months without seeing a gull this was good to see.  I quickly gathered some old rolls from the chefs and threw the odd chunk into the wake.  Soon two more gulls were present and the four followed the ship for the rest of the day.  

Baltic Gull, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   Reed Warblers were seen often this week with at least three individuals visiting the sanctuary of the ship’s hangar. 

Reed Warbler, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   Also in the hangar were a couple of Garden Warblers. 

Garden Warbler, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   One bird, which made a short crash landing on the flightdeck, but unfortunately wasn’t seen by me could have been a quail, corncrake or rail of some sort from the description.  One that I did see, whilst enjoying an early morning cup of tea was an Osprey.  A great bird but an all too fleeting fly over. 

Barn Swallow, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   My last bird of the week in the hangar was a Barn Swallow.  These have been scarce this autumn but there maybe more to come during the first half of October.

Mark C.

Rose-coloured Starling and Semipalmated Sandpiper at Pennington Marshes

   On Sunday afternoon I headed to Pennington Marshes to ‘twitch’ the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling.  Unfortunately, I only had a brief view of the bird before it took flight and merged with the rest of the Starling flock that swirled around in a tight formation overhead.  The flock then drifted in a westerly direction and dispersed, many dropping into the scrub between Fishtail Lagoon and Keyhaven Lagoon.  Although I stayed around in the hope that the ‘Rosie’ would return it didn’t.  After I watched a large number of the Starling head out over Keyhaven Harbour, I opted instead to try my luck with the juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper and Dunlin, Pennington Marshes – 2 Sep 11

   Unlike the ‘Rosie’, I had really good views of the Semipalmated Sandpiper at the western end of Jetty Lagoon, until for some unknown reason, it headed off purposefully in an easterly direction with Dunlin and Ringed Plover at 1615. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper (juvenile), Pennington Marshes – 2 Oct 11

Semipalmated Sandpiper (juvenile), Pennington Marshes – 2 Oct 11

   Although rarer than the Rose-coloured Starling, the Semipalmated Sandpiper wasn’t a second ‘lifer’ because I had the good fortune to connect with the one at Keyhaven / Pennington Marshes back in September 06. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Autumn moths including Large Ranunculus at Petersfield

   On Friday evening the Fareham Moth Group met up at a wood near Petersfield.  It turned out to be a thoroughly rewarding outing that added several species to my ‘life list’. 

Green-brindled Crescent, Petersfield – 30 Sep 11.  Two only at Keith’s sheet. 

   On each previous outing, the difference in the species attracted to each sheet has always been significant, despite their relatively close proximity.  However, on this particular outing the difference was startling.  Although I would of expected a difference between the two sheets that were under the tree canopy, compared with the two on the woodland edge, almost all the moths were attracted to Maurice’s woodland edge sheet.  In fact Maurice’s twenty-one Barred Sallow was more than all the moths attracted to the other three lamps. 

Barred Sallow, Petersfield – 30 Sep 11

   Unsurprisingly it was Maurice who had the Large Ranunculus that was by far the rarest moth, although the Green Brindled Crescent was without doubt the smartest moth. 

Large Ranunculus, Petersfield – 30 Sep 11

   Other new species for me apart from the above were Brown-spot Pinion, Orange Sallow, Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow, Brick, Yellow-line Quaker and Red-line Quaker. 

Sallow, Petersfield – 3 Sep 11

Pink-barred Sallow, Petersfield – 3 Sep 11

Brick, Petersfield – 3 Sep 11

Yellow-line Quaker, Petersfield – 3 Sep 11

Red-line Quaker, Petersfield – 3 Sep 11

Green-brindled Crescent, Petersfield – 30 Sep 11 (photographed in my Back Garden)

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Lepidoptera across the Med

   A short non bird entry for the past week.  A moth proved an ID problem for me and was finally settled via the net where it was identified as a Scarce Bordered Straw.  It is an immigrant to the UK but more common around the med where it can be a pest. 

Scarce Bordered Straw, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   Our second visitor was a Red Admiral, an appropriate name for a passenger to a Royal Navy Warship.  It stayed onboard for about 36 hours.  A lot of the ship’s company came to view the pretty butterfly onboard and at one point it was being fed from a slice of orange, something that it seemed to enjoy.  I just wished I could feed the birds that visit as easily. 

Red Admiral, Mediterranean Sea – September 2011

   Not a great deal of variety but once again a moth that was classed as NFS – New for Ship! 

Mark C.