Quiet over Thorney Island this morning.

Friday 22nd August 2014.

All change! The hedgerow had virtually disappeared now.

I took Scruff for a stroll over Thorney Island this morning and was certainly surprised by what they had done to the footpath leading to the west harbour wall. Most of the hedgerow was grubbed up and obviously using one of those hedge cutters on a back of a tractor, the mess it has left behind is unbelievable. True, it does look tidier and the footpath looked wider, but at what cost to the local wildlife?

Common Whitethroat.

It was a breezy morning, with high cloud cover at times, but occasionally, the sun broke through. Scruff enjoyed himself, sniffing every nook and cranny he could find, while I was checking out what wildlife was on offer today. An Osprey was seen in Chichester Harbour recently, so I always kept my eyes peeled for that, but the only raptors I saw this morning were Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel.

Little Egrets and a Grey Heron in the roost.

The main footpath held good numbers of Common Whitethroat and the occasional Blackcap was seen (a male). Cetti’s Warblers were heard only. The small Copse held at least 8 roosting Little Egrets along with a single Grey Heron. It was high tide within Emsworth Harbour and apart from a few distant waders on the islands, little of note was seen within it.

Large White.

The Little Deeps held the usual Tufties, Coot and Little Grebe but again, little else. The Great Deeps was a little more productive. Among the Gulls, a pair of Common Terns were seen fishing. A pair of Black-tailed Godwits were the only waders present until I checked upstream, where there was a flock of around 30 Greenshank resting by the water’s edge. I couldn’t find any Wheatears or Whinchats in the fields or anything else of note come to think of it.

Black-tailed Godwit on the Great Deeps.

Butterflies this morning included another Clouded Yellow, which would not stop for me to grab a photo. I was a bit luckier with a male Common Blue. Meadow Brown, Large White and a Red Admiral were also seen this morning. Very little to report elsewhere in Sussex or Hampshire so far today.

Male Common Blue.

Roesel's Bush Cricket. A lot of these were heard this morning.

White-point new for the garden this year.

Friday 22nd August 2014.

White-point.

I was in a bit of a rush this morning as there was a shower moving across Southsea as I was checking the moth box. Therefore, my photos were a bit rushed. Among the 31 moths of 17 species, there was my first White-point of the year within my garden (I did have a couple recently at Butser Hill). Other immigrant moths included one Silver Y and one Rusty-dot Pearl. A Small Dusty Wave was the first for a few weeks in the garden.

Small Dusty Wave

In Hampshire yesterday, Titchfield Haven held a Spoonbill, Ruff (still need one for a year tick), Little Ringed Plover and a Whinchat. The Ring-necked Parakeet is still being recorded in the Fareham area.

A Bloxworth Snout makes a reappearance.

Thursday 21st August 2014.

Bloxworth Snout.

I was greeted this fine, sunny morning with my third Bloxworth Snout perched on the fence panel behind my moth box. Though a little bit worn compared to the ones I have seen earlier in the year, still a nice moth to have by the box nonetheless. A smart Agriphila tristrella was also present, perched on the back door window. A total of 31 moths of 17 species today.

Agriphila tristrella.

Large Thorn & Whinchat the highlights today.

Wednesday 20th August 2014.

Large Thorn.

I kicked off the day with a puzzler. I found a Thorn species of moth, which looked a little odd and on further scrutiny, I think it looks good for a Large Thorn, which is quite rare in Hampshire. I shall leave it to the experts to judge for themselves, although one chap on Facebook reckons it could be an early Feathered Thorn, but I am not so sure. I have since found out that it is a Large Thorn, which is a ‘lifer’ for me.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

28 moths of 15 species were present this morning including the Thorn species. A Cabbage Moth was notable as well as my second Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing of the year. Also in the garden today, was my first Willow Warbler of the Autumn passage within my garden. We normally get quite a few passing through about this time of year, so it was nice to see on at last.

White's Creek in Pagham Harbour.

I was working in Pagham Village, West Sussex, this morning and, of course, after my 11am appointment, I took a stroll along the North Wall by Pagham Harbour. The weather was glorious with high patchy cloud but lots of sunshine. The recent blustery wind had dropped, which made for pleasant birding here. I was hoping to find my first Whinchats of the year as a couple were noted here behind the Breech Pool yesterday and fortunately, I came up trumps.

Curlew.

Walking from the end of Church Lane to the harbour wall, there were a few Willow Warblers in the trees and bushes. A large number of Swallows were by the small barn at the end of the footpath, still feeding their young by the looks of it. A flock of Sand Martin flew by among the Swallows and headed westbound towards the Breech Pool. This morning was alive with these two species of Hirundine, as they passed by overhead in good numbers.

Hurricane or Spitfire flying overhead?

This female Sparrowhawk put the jitters up the local Hirundines.

It was low tide within the harbour and in Whites Creek, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Redshank were present. A lone Curlew fed on the mud and a flock of Ringed Plover with several Dunlin were seen a little later as I was making my way back to the car. An Emperor Dragonfly was on the hunt by the Sluice Gates. The Breech Pool held several Black-tailed Godwits, but something flushed the waders out in harbour and a large flock of ‘Blackwits’ landed on the pool as I was making my way back, with at least 60 birds present. Up to 15 Eurasian Teal were present and a Kingfisher was heard flying, but hidden by the reedbed.

Lesser Marsh Grasshopper.

I met up with Sussex birder, Dave Potter and his mate Simon by the Breech Pool and stopped for a chat. I spotted something interesting on a fencepost behind the Breech Pool and Dave confirmed it as a Whinchat; my first of the year. Unfortunately, it was very distant and I therefore couldn’t get a decent photo. Very pleased with that, they went off in search for any Yellow Wagtails among the cattle in the field north of the Breech Pool. Overhead, we were firstly entertained by a Spitfire / Hurricane doing loop the loops etc. and then a female Sparrowhawk grabbed our attention as she slowly soared overhead, upsetting all the Hirundines below. Another male bird was seen on the way back to the car, as he sped low over the reedbeds, to disappear into a small bush.

Black-tailed Godwit on the Breech Pool.

On the way back to the car, I found my first Clouded Yellow butterfly of the year. Unfortunately, it didn’t settle as it disappeared back towards the Breech Pool. I am pretty sure I found my first Lesser Marsh Grasshopper of the year also, although I am waiting to get that verified. Dave told me earlier that there was very little around Church Norton and the Ferry Pool today, although both areas can turn up anything at this time of year. An Osprey was in Chichester Harbour today, viewed from the seawall at Nutbourne.

A closer view of the 'Blackwits'.

Flying back into the harbour after a male Sparrowhawk flushed them.

Bramble Shoot Moths new for the year.

Tuesday 19th August 2014.

Bramble Shoot Moths.

Overnight temperatures continue to be in single digits, which is certainly reflecting my totals within my moth box. 28 moths were present of 16 species with the only immigrant species being a single Rusty-dot Pearl. A couple of Bramble-shoot Moths were new for the year and a Yellow-barred Brindle was present too.

Brimstone Moth.

 

Tree Pipit over the house this morning.

Monday 18th August 2014.

Rusty-dot Pearl.

A cold start to the morning due to clear skies overnight and I didn’t really expect many moths to be present. Very few moths outside the moth box, but at least there were a few inside the box instead. Immigrant moths this morning included 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and just the one Silver Y. Vine’s Rustic were the most numerous with 5 individuals.

Square-spot Rustic.

While checking the box, the familiar call of a Tree Pipit could be heard and I managed to see the bird flying westbound high over the houses. ‘Vis Mig’ has officially started! After meeting Geoff Farwell at the Farlington Marshes car park yesterday, he went on to see 3 Wheatears, a Whinchat, 4 Sand Martins, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, 4 Greenshank, 2 Knot, Whimbrel, Sparrowhawk and at least a 1000+ Starlings on the reserve.

Water Vole at Titchfield Haven. Photo by Jim Walker.

Jim Walker has been testing his new camera out on Titchfield Haven over the weekend and has sent me some lovely photos of the Water Voles there (see pics.)

And again.

Cattle Egret at Siddlesham Village.

Sunday 17th August 2014.

Rusty-dot Pearl.

I was meeting John Goodall at 7am in the Farlington Marshes car park for a birding session in West Sussex, but beforehand, I had my moth box to take care of. It was a grey, blustery early morning, but I was slightly surprised on how many moths were present. Though there was nothing new for the year, there was a good selection to go through.

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Silver Y.

Silver Y and Rusty-dot Pearl, which are both immigrant moths, were present. Two Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings were present along with two Large Yellow Underwings. I have not had a Least Yellow Underwing yet this year, so I will be keeping an eye out for that species. Vines Rustics numbered 6 individuals and another Angle Shades was within the box.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth. First of the year.

Meeting up with John, I was a tad early and so got the binoculars out and scanned at the waders flying over an ebbing tide within Langstone Harbour. Several flock of Curlew were flying off westbound and a large flock of Redshank circled around the Lake area. John shortly then turned up as we headed off to hopefully see the Long-tailed Skua on the beach at Church Norton.

Curlew landing on the spit at Church Norton.

The last time the Skua had been seen was early yesterday morning until it was seen flying out to sea from its favourite spit at Church Norton and not subsequently seen all day afterwards. Parking up, we walked past the very nice houses along the seafront to the spit. On our way there, I found my first Hummingbird Hawk-moth of the year flying around in a front garden, but photographing the beast proved very difficult as it was buzzing around at great speed, hence the quality of my photo.

John Goodall with some Selsey regulars at the Bill.

There was no sign whatsoever on the shingle spit of the Skua, despite a lengthy search and John and I had to make do with several Gannets flying offshore plus a couple of Sandwich Terns perched on the groynes. Several Turnstone were on the spit along with a Curlew, but little else. Several birders came over and looked pretty fed up when we told them there was no sign of the Skua. So, John and I headed off to nearby Selsey Bill to try our luck from there.

This juvenile Wheatear was on the beach along with a couple more.

We joined up with four of the regulars by the bench at the end of the road overlooking the sea, but they told us that very little was moving through. At least we were out of the blustery north westerly wind. John notched up a year tick when a drake Common Scoter sped through low over the sea heading east. More Gannets in various plumages flew through, but always remained distant. Both Common and Sandwich Terns moved west in small numbers along with a single Little Tern. I was really hoping for a Black Tern, but no such luck. A Fulmar came through heading west, close inshore and a Seal popped up briefly to the annoyance of the local Gulls.

The Fulmar passing through close in.

On the beach, at least three Wheatears were seen of which one was most definitely a juvenile. Several Turnstone and an Oystercatcher were feeding on the exposed sandy shoreline. John and I had a conversation with regular Sam Hill, who kindly told us the directions on which to see the Cattle Egret which had been present for over a week in Siddlesham Village. So, though dipping on the Skua, we headed off back north to hopefully get the Cattle Egret on board our year list.

Another Wheatear on the outskirts of Siddlesham Village.

After picking up some refreshments at a nearby garage, we drove down Churchfarm Lane. Unfortunately, we took the wrong footpath to view the Egret and headed off nearly two miles the wrong way to view the wrong Cattle field! However, if we didn’t do this, we wouldn’t have seen at least two Wheatears, several Willow Warblers, several Common Whitethroats, both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker and at least two Yellowhammers. Even a pair of Kestrels and a Common Buzzard was also nice to see! So, retracing our steps, we made our way back to the car and took the eastbound footpath this time and this time our luck was in.

Cattle Egret with a cow!

Close to Marsh Farm, we spotted a birder in the distance looking at something and sure enough, walking among some Friesian Cattle, we found the Cattle Egret. I quickly grabbed some photos and we both caught up with the birder. Though still a little distant, I got some record shots of the Egret, which was calmly walking around one of the grazing Cows. Also in the area, at least two Yellow Wagtails flew over (another year tick for John) with several Pied Wagtails. Autumn is in full swing now, so I wasn’t surprised to see the wagtails here. Another Wheatear popped up along the footpath until it flew off over the fields. A large flock of House Sparrows were present on the footpath leading back to the car, numbering around 30+ birds, but I couldn’t find anything interesting among them. Always worth a search. Among the many Swallows passing overhead, we found at least two Sand Martins over the fields.

And again.

Pleased with today’s sightings, we headed back to the Farlington Marshes Car park to drop John off. Here, I met up with Geoff Farwell, who I haven’t seen this year! We regularly text each other but rarely see each other! Geoff gave me some very interesting info regarding why the Horse Chestnut leaves were going brown so early this year, which I have noticed in Highland Road Cemetery. Apparently, it was due to the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner moth caterpillar, which was causing it. This was happening all over the UK! It didn’t affect the fruit of the tree, though, as there is plenty of Horse Chestnuts on the trees.

Just one more photo of the Cattle Egret.

Diamond-backed Moth the highlight this morning.

Saturday 16th August 2014.

Dawn over Southsea.

I was up early this morning, early enough to watch the sun climb over the rooftops of Southsea (hence the photo). The weather looks good today, so I am hoping to grab some birding sometime today. Pompey are at home and therefore I expect to see a large attendance at Fratton Park today. On the subject of Portsmouth Football Club, one of my clients, Brian Levett, a huge Pompey fan, sadly passed away this week. I only found out yesterday and I am still stunned by his passing. I shall miss him.

Angle Shades.

I had the moth box on overnight and there is most definitely a wane in the numbers of moths at present. I did have my first Diamond-backed Moth for quite a while, an immigrant from the continent that can turn up in very large numbers in some years. An Angle Shades was a nice surprise, though it was covered in spider webs, which I helped get rid of before I released it. A Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic and a couple of interesting micro moths, which I have yet to identify, were the pick of the moths. 22 moths were present of 14 species.

Apologies. Not the best photo of the Diamond-backed Moth, but very flighty.

Still quiet in the Cemetery.

Friday 15th August 2014.

Rain coming down within the Cemy as we took shelter.

I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery this afternoon and though always a pleasant walk around the area, it was rather quiet today. Showers appeared when we were half way around the footpath, but we were saved from a soaking by getting under the tall trees. Not many birds on show today apart from the usual Pigeons, Crows and Magpie’s, but a single Goldfinch and a few juvenile Blackbirds put in an appearance. The juvenile Green Woodpecker was briefly seen flying away from me and then landing within the foliage of a tree.

Juvenile Blackbird looking for food.

A Pyrausta despicata micro moth on the Buddleia.

A few butterflies were on the wing, which included Large White, Common Blue and a probable Red Admiral, but most of the Buddleia has now gone to seed. The micro moth, Pyrausta despicata, were abundant on the grass, with some even seen on the few Buddleia flowers. A probable Vapourer Moth was also on the wing, but I couldn’t locate where it settled.

The UK's largest Hoverfly - a female Volucella zonaria.

I read today that the Bee-eaters on the Isle of Wight fledged three young, as seven birds were seen this morning on the wires at the usual site. The sub-adult Long-tailed Skua is still frequenting the Church Norton / Selsey area again today. Hopefully, I will catch up with it this weekend.

A probable Depressaria douglasella, which was photographed by Denise Murray on Butser Hill last Saturday evening.

Poor moth showing again.

Thursday 14th August 2014.

Garden Tigers.

Yet another poor showing of moths (where are they?) with just 24 moths of 12 species. Garden Tigers numbered 4 individuals while Vine’s Rustics numbered 6. Maybe this fresher weather & sudden downpours has held everything up? Anybody else experiencing this?

Agonopterix purpurea. Photo taken by Denise Murray last Saturday evening.

While having a coffee in the back garden afterwards, a single Swift fluttered overhead and a pair of Swallows were twittering high up, heading south to the coast. I read that a good number of Redstarts were seen on the Isle of Wight yesterday along with more common warblers and migrants. I was sure I heard one at the Bee-eater site yesterday morning, but couldn’t get a glimpse of it.

The Selsey/Church Norton 4th summer Long-tailed Skua was still present in the area and showing very well to all those who could catch up with it. I do hope it hangs around till the weekend.