Butterflies galore at Old Winchester Hill this morning.

Sunday 2nd August 2015.

P1370141

A beautiful start to the day on Old Winchester Hill.

I made arrangements this morning to meet up with John Goodall at his house for a visit to Old Winchester Hill this morning. The weather forecast looked good for a nice sunny morning and the possibility of a few migrants looked promising. However, the day kicked off with a very early start (two hours before my alarm clock went off!) to check on the moth box.

P1370138

Mother-of-Pearl.

P1370123

A really bright Buff Ermine.

A total of 20 moths of 12 species were present this morning which included another Garden Tiger (probably the same one as yesterday), my first Mother-of-Pearl of the year in the garden and one Silver Y.

P1370164

A female Blackcap by the footpath.

P1370148

Cinnabar Moth caterpillar.

John and I arrived around 7.45am within an empty Old Winchester Hill car park and letting Scruff out, we made our slow journey around this superb area of natural history. Both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were singing near the entrance and the familiar quiet calls of Bullfinches could be heard deep within the bushes. As we moved further along the footpath, Blackcaps could be seen flitting within the brambles along with many more juvenile Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs.

P1370233

Juvenile Chiffchaffs.

P1370223

Chiffchaff.

Butterflies were slowly making their first morning flights with Small and Large Skipper seen perched on grass stems and brambles, catching the early morning rays of sunshine. A few Meadow Browns danced over the tall grass and the yellow Wild Parsnips and the occasional Chalk-hill Blue butterfly, our first of the year, drifted past. It was to be a very good morning for butterflies with Dark Green Fritillary, Ringlet, Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady, both Large and Small White plus Gatekeeper being seen. A Brimstone was also a nice surprise and I am happy I have one confirmed Essex Skipper I photographed. Both the Ringlet and Dark Green Fritillary were new for the year.

P1370204

A male Chalk-hill Blue butterfly.

P1370175

Ringlet.

Birdlife was rather limited, but good numbers of the aforementioned warblers were seen along with a healthy number of Yellowhammers along the footpath. Just the one Common Whitethroat was seen on top of the old Fort, but no other warbler species. A male Kestrel hunted south of the Fort, but there were no Buzzards or Kites seen this morning, which was disappointing. A Green Woodpecker flew over the top of the Fort and landed in the lone tree while the odd Skylark popped up briefly and burst into song. It will not be long now before we are graced here with some more interesting migrants.

P1370246

The beautiful Dark Green Fritilliary.

P1370206

Essex Skipper.

We saw our first Southern Hawker dragonfly of the year, buzzing along the side of the hill near the copse below us and the plants were still in full bloom here, especially the Marjoram which attracted a lot of the butterflies. Five and Six spotted Burnet moths were on the wing as were a good variety of Crambid Moths, which Scruff disturbed as he walked ahead of us (on his lead, ofcourse).

P1370282-001

Six-spotted Burnet Moth.

P1370279

Peacock butterfly.

On the way back to the car, we bumped into Dave, who is a familiar face here and keeps an eye out in the car park for any dodgy characters up to mischief. He was recollecting how much of the bird and insect life has disappeared around here over the last 25 years, with many birds down by 65% in some species. It is worrying what will be around when our Grand kids are at our age?

Garden Tiger and a few oddities present this morning.

Saturday 1st August 2015.

P1370032

Garden Tiger. Not the sharpest of photos but the light wasn’t great where it was first thing this morning.

P1370092

Garden Tiger at rest.

I awoke very early this morning to the sound of a calling Willowchiff somewhere in the back garden and having put the moth box on last night, I decided to drag myself out of bed. Making a cup of coffee, I then made my way outside to check the box before the Sparrows have their wicked way with them! A nice clear sky overhead to start a new month off, the Willowchiff was still present and after grabbing a few photos and studying them on the laptop, I am more inclined to say it was a Chiffchaff.

P1370076

Chiffchaff.

P1370086

Scarce Footman, another year tick for the garden.

Earlier this week, after putting on Facebook about a Sparrow getting into my moth box, the conversation on Facebook was rather interesting. House Sparrows are normally herbivores and therefore the only reason why they were interested in my moths were to feed their young. The House Sparrows from my neighbour’s house are now on their THIRD brood and the male was hopping around the plant pots behind me, while I was sifting through the egg trays!

P1370099

An unusual form of Riband Wave.

There was a few nice surprises among the 22 moths present (better than the four I had a couple of days ago!), which included my first beautiful Garden Tiger of the year. The moth was in full defence mode with all its wings spread out; no doubt, the Sparrow was giving it a peck! Also present was my first Scarce Footman and another moth, which I had to put on Facebook to be ID’d, which came out as a Riband Wave. It was the oddest form I have seen this year.

P1370048

Common Rustic agg.

I am hoping to grab some birding sometime today and I might even go to Alresford Pond, in the north of the county, to go and look at the Wood Sandpiper if it is still present as well as the array of other waders present. I was over The Oaks Crematorium yesterday morning and witnessed at least 9 Mistle Thrushes flying over from one stretch of woodland to another. Also present were at least three Goldcrest flicking about in the trees and a couple of Common Darter dragonflies flew up to me and buzzed just a few feet from where I stood.

I was talking to a chap who looked after Kingston, Milton and my beloved patch, Highland Road Cemetery, yesterday and asked him if it was possible to moth trap in my local patch; but he said there is no electric running from either of the chapels. Also, he couldn’t give permission even if I had a generator because of the local residents complaining about a bright light being seen within the Cemy. Fair enough.

Square-spot Rustic added to year list for garden.

Thursday 30th July 2015.

P1370027

Square-spot Rustic.

In incredibly crap week so far for moths with the only consolation in getting my first Square-spot Rustic in the garden today. On Tuesday morning, I had the shock and disappointment of knowing that a probable House Sparrow had entered the moth box via the whole in the centre for the moths to fly in below the light. Several piles of bird poo and moth wings were all over the egg trays and just the eight moths were present and that included three of them within my back porch!

P1370021

Lackey.

This morning, there were just four moths in total! This month has been a roller coaster of different weather patterns and the overnight temperature of late has plummeted down to around 6 degrees! There is even frost predicted in poor old Scotland this week! However, the south is expecting to get a bit warmer. We shall see!

Today’s total included my first Square-spot Rustic of the year along with singles of Dark Arches, Lackey and a Beautiful Plume. Wow! On a completely different subject, I will have my first article printed next Monday in the Portsmouth Evening News about the local wildlife in the area. Thanks again to local birder, Amy Robjohns, who let me use one of her excellent photos for the article.

Again, quiet in the moth box.

Sunday 26th July 2015.

P1360984

Two Silver Y’s, a dark form of Common Rustic and a Marbled Beauty within the moth box this morning.

Despite favourable overnight conditions, there were relatively few moths in and around the moth box early this morning. Up and at them at 6am this morning, there was nothing new for the year for me to savour over with the highlights being a Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Clay, Marbled Beauty and my first Shuttle-shaped Dart for some time.

P1360994

Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Regarding the micros, pick of the very small bunch was one Bird-cherry Ermine and my second Pyrausta aurata of the year within the garden. A total of 42 moths of 23 species in all.

P1360999

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Rain is forecasted again for most of the day today, so whether I take the trip to the New Forest or not is in the balance. There is an Osprey frequenting the southern end of Thorney Island for the past few days, so I could go for that instead; although, I have only ever seen an adult Red-backed Shrike in the UK just once, and I was only about 15 years old then!

P1360948

Pyrausta aurata. A pretty little moth and only my second in the garden this year.

Ladies in the Cemy.

Saturday 25th July 2015.

P1360889

Scruff enjoying the sunshine in the Cemy.

I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery along with young Isabelle in her pushchair. It seems a long time since I have been around here and I just took my time and slowly strolled round in the sunshine. With the America’s Cup in full swing down the seafront and with stunt planes flying in formation over the City, there was a lot going on down this neck of the woods this weekend.

P1360910

Painted Lady.

There wasn’t an awful lot to write about regarding the birds present, with a few sightings of Goldfinches but anything else was just the usual. Buddleia is out now in full bloom, so I was going around checking each bush to see what insect life it held. There was a bit of a breeze blowing and so butterflies seemed to be a little thin on the ground. It wasn’t till I reached the east side of the Cemy that I found my first one; well in fact three! Three Painted Lady butterflies were chasing each other along the footpath, flying at great speed at times in the bright sunshine and occasionally, one of them would settle on a gravestone or the footpath.

P1360912

Blackbird searching for food.

P1360891

Buff-tailed Bumble bee on the Buddlea

Further along, I came across a pair of Red Admirals flying together but getting a photo of them on the ground was proving difficult, but I did manage a long distance shot. One of the near dead Silver Birches held several growths of Dryad Saddle, with at least four poking out of the bough of the tree. Great Willowherb was growing near the entrance and clumps of Lady Bedstraw was seen in the south side of the Cemy.

P1360927

Dryad’s Saddle.

The Council have spent a lot of time in here judging by the new tarmacked footpaths within the Cemy and also a lot of the older graves have been cleared of Ivy growing over them. However, the friends of Highland Road Cemetery normally get involved in this every year. I found out this evening that a male Red-backed Shrike has been found near Beaulieu heath this afternoon along with a flyby Honey Buzzard! If it is still around tomorrow, I think I shall have to take a trip down there.

P1360863

I put out some dried mealworms and the House Sparrows came flocking down. This male showing well in the sunshine.

P1360888-001

This female House Sparrow has a distinctive bill shape and colouration. I have seen it raiding the moths in the morning!

30+ Silver Y’s within the moth box.

Friday 24th July 2015.

P1360845

Tree-lichen Beauty.

I was up early this morning again, sufficiently early enough before the Sparrows, but though I knew the rain was coming in, it was spitting with rain when I checked in and around the moth box. There was nothing too interesting within the box, though I have sent a couple of photos for John Langmaid to ID.

P1360754

Silver Y’s.

The biggest surprise was the amount of Silver Y’s within the box. I counted over 30 individuals which was my highest ever total for this species in one sitting. Other notable moths included my second Turnip Moth of the year; 2 Tree-lichen Beauties and a Single-dotted Wave were also notable. A fresh female Lackey was sitting within the box also. In total, there were 77 moths of 26 species.

P1360837

A female Lackey.

I am about to do my article for the Portsmouth Evening News over the weekend and this time, I am going to write about the Greater Yellowlegs over at Titchfield Haven. Amy Robjohns has kindly emailed me over a nice photo of the bird, which, incidentally, was still showing well today on the River Meon beside the roadside.

P1360746

To be ID’d.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, the Swifts that nested in the front of the house are now raising their second brood! Sad news, though, of one of the young Herring Gulls from down the road. I passed one of them dead on the side of the road yesterday morning and looks as though it has been hit by a car.

Brown-line Bright-eye added to my life list.

Wednesday 22nd July 2015.

P1360698

Brown-line Bright-eye.

I was too busy with work yesterday to get around writing about my sightings while on the road, so I shall add them to today’s log. I was working over the Havant area around midday and I watched a superb Red Kite drift over, with a party of Swifts in attendance. Ok, the sighting was brief but there was no doubt it was a Kite passing over.

P1360666

Dun-bar.

A Box Bug, which is some type of Shield Bug was perched on our car and was thankfully identified by a kind chap on Facebook for me. It is the first one I have ever seen, so always a bonus.

IMG_0083

Box Bug.

This morning, I was woken up by the noisy Gulls flying over and as I couldn’t drift off nicely back to sleep, I decided to get up, do a few house chores then go and check the moth box. Up before the Sparrows is always a bonus and this morning, the box held three year ticks including one being a new moth for me.

P1360718

Ruby Tiger.

A superb Brown-line Bright-eye was present within the box, and though deemed common according to my field guide, this was my first. Also present were year ticks of Ruby Tiger, Dun-bar and Cloaked Minor. However, there were just 38 moths of 17 species present although I have sent two to be ID’d by John Langmaid. A far cry from last week’s number of moths in Stourcombe! There was also two Tree Bumblebees within my box this morning!

Five more year ticks in and around the moth box.

Monday 20th July 2015.

P1360575

Clouded Border.

Despite the drizzle first thing this morning, it wasn’t too bad with the moths as I notched up five more garden ticks for the year, which included Clouded Border, Small Blood-vein, Scalloped Oak, Udea prunalis and Gelechia senticetella (thanks to John Langmaid for the ID of the latter two). My second Small Ranunculus of the year was also present which I shall release later this evening.

P1360598

Small Blood-vein.

P1360614

Scalloped Oak.

P1360612

Udea prunalis.

Bright-line Brown-eye were the most numerous with 13 present and also up to 7 Silver Y’s were in and around the moth box!

P1360637

Small Ranunculus.

Tree-lichen Beauty in the box this morning.

Sunday 19th July 2015.

P1360552

Tree-lichen Beauty.

It was back to good old Southsea yesterday ending our weeks break in Cornwall. On reflection, where we stayed was excellent for not only birds and moths etc., but also the lovely Cottage we stayed in (and most certainly will return in the not too distant future), but also to the lovely owner of the Cottage, Georgie, who made us feel most welcome here. So, if you are reading this Georgie, many thanks again.

P1360503

Knot Grass.

There was some overnight, early morning rain this morning, which woke me up, but I soon struggled out of bed to make myself a cup of coffee and then bleary-eyed, had a good look around the moth box. Not an awful lot outside of the box, but thankfully, there were a few moths inside it. Around 60 moths of 27 species were present today which included my first Tree-lichen Beauty of the year. This is probably an immigrant moth although I have read there could be an established population on the south coast somewhere.

P1360488

Clay.

Silver Y’s numbered 6, the highest number of them this year by far and there was singles of Clay, Knot Grass and Euzophera pinguis.

Less moths, but still a good variety.

Friday 17th July 2015.

P1360384

Lychnis. I even had to ask John Langmaid on a positive ID.

Yet another early morning start with drizzle to wake up to here in the heart of Cornwall. I am kind of getting used to it now as we leave tomorrow for Southsea and though the weather has been somewhat disappointing this week, the moths and wildlife have been brilliant. This morning was no exception when I thought I had found my first ever Campion within the moth box. But elation eventually turned to disappointment, when it was identified as a Lychnis.

P1360340

Two smart Elephant Hawk-moths near the box. However, I fear the Sparrows got them!

P1360307

Marbled Green in Polperro yesterday.

They look a little larger than the similar Lychnis, but I am happy with the ID after checking it on the Hants Moths website. A total of 86 moths, by far, the lowest this week, of 31 species were in and around the box, though I suspect the Sparrows chomped most outside the box. Moths present this morning included:

  • Elephant Hawk-moth (6)
  • Clouded Silver (1)
  • Bee Moth (1)
  • Dot Moth (2)
  • Barred Straw (3)
  • Scalloped Oak (5)
  • Early Thorn (4)
P1360350

A nice little selection here. Elephant Hawk-moths, Scalloped Oak, Dark Arches, Uncertain and Common Rustic.

  • Common Footman (3)
  • Heart & Dart (11)
  • Uncertain (5)
  • Common Carpet (2)
  • Dark Arches (17)
  • Flame (1)
  • Snout (1)
  • Riband Wave (1)
  • Common Rustic (4)
  • Sharp angled Peacock (1)
  • Mother-of-Pearl (1)
  • Flame Shoulder (1)
  • Buff Arches (1)
P1360381

Clay.

  • Square-spot Rustic (1)
  • Light Arches (1)
  • Clay (1)
  • Large Yellow Underwing (1)
  • Plain Golden Y (1)
  • Lychnis (1)
  • Eudonia mercurella (3)
  • Eudonia lacastrata (4)
  • Double-spot Rustic (1)
  • Chrysoteuchia culmella (4)
P1360389

Early Thorn.

Yesterday, we took a lovely stroll around the quaint fishing village of Polperro; a village I have not been to since I was a young teenager! Though I don’t remember any of it, the place was a typical tourist hotspot and it got a bit too familiar with all the other fishing villages though pretty, I couldn’t live here permanently, in which my wife agreed also. While walking down the tiny streets (even cars drive down them also!), I found a Single-dotted Wave and my first Marbled Green of the year, perched on a wall! No interesting birds in the small harbour apart from the usual Herring Gulls, though I thought I saw a Grey Wagtail flying over. We also went into Fowey via the car ferry; but again, very similar to most of the villages. We finished off in Mevagissey and I think you know what my reaction was to that place by now! Ice cream was good though!

P1360330

Navelwort, which grows abundantly on the dry stone walls of Cornwall and Devon. I had to laugh when I saw a couple of comments on the Facebook site for plants, that the question was asked why didn’t I do the research for the ID myself. Simple answer to that is Why? When you can get an expert to do it for you. Simples!