At last, better moth numbers.

Monday 30th May 2016.

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Rustic Shoulder-knot.

Finally, the moth numbers within my back garden are starting to get into decent figures, with 31 moths of 16 species today and yesterday, 24 moths of 20 species. The warm temperatures both overnight and during the day must of helped, though I still suspect the local Sparrows are having a field day feeding on the moths outside the box. I can hear two broods of House Sparrows coming from the rooftops!

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Common Marbled Carpet.

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Small Dusty Wave.

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Pseudoswammerdamia combinella.

Yesterday, I was too tired to write up what was in the box as we spent most of the day at Moors Valley Country Park with our Grand-daughter Isabelle. Nevertheless, a reasonable total with three new micro moths for the year – Rustic Shoulder-knot, Small Dusty Wave and a Common Marbled Carpet. I even had a near unpronounceable named micro moth in the box, of which some chap on the Facebook moth site identified as Pseudoswammerdamia combinella! Barely 2mm long, I had a job to see it, let alone photograph it!

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My first Eyed Hawk-moth of the year.

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Peppered Moth.

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Notocelia cynobatella.

This morning, my first Hawk-moth turned up – the stunning Eyed Hawk-moth. It was perched on the back wall near the back door and, obviously, too big for the Sparrows to handle! A Peppered Moth with the moth box was equally stunning and a nice addition to the year total. Another P. combinella was present again this morning among the micro moths as was my first Notocelia cynobatella of the year.

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Limnephilus marmoratus Caddis Fly. Thanks to Ian Thirlwell who ID’d it for me.

A superb walk on Old Winchester Hill.

Saturday 28th May 2016.

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L-album Wainscot.

This morning kicked off again with a check of the moth box – at 5.20am! I thought, if I get up early, then there was a fighting chance in beating the Spadgers on seeing any moths outside the box. Wrong! I couldn’t find one on the neighbouring walls but what was in the box, was a nice surprise.

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Heart & Dart.

My first Diamond-backed Moth and L-album Wainscot of the year were present among the 22 moths present of 13 species present. At least the numbers are starting to increase. A Vine’s Rustic popped out beneath the box when I moved the table it was resting on, in the afternoon, which was my second of the year.

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Hornet emerging from the grass on Old Winchester Hill.

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One of the cracking views from the Hill.

I decided to walk Scruff over Old Winchester Hill this morning and after grabbing a bite to eat, we arrived at the car park around 8.30am. Though overcast, it was bright and very mild. Though there was a breeze at times, it was warm enough for wearing just a t-shirt. The Hill was very busy today what with Dog-walkers, Ramblers, Cyclists, Runners and even Paragliders! One group of guys were even looking to fly a Drone, which I believe, along with Kite flying, is strictly forbidden here. When I bumped into Dave (the regular chap here who monitors the area), he told me me that he would be having strong words with them. Very brave for a man who stands about 5ft tall! Best of luck mate.

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A singing male Yellowhammer on the Hill.

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A beautiful Common Blue butterfly on Crosswort.

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There were a few Small Heath butterflies around.

Now, at this time of year, there is so much to look at; whether it be birds, flowers, insects or simply taking in the amazing views, so I was simply in my element. It took me a couple of hours to sift through my photos so I shall put the best ones on this entry to my blog.

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I could sit here all day and just watch.

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Willow Warbler with his back to us.

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Cocksfoot Moth on a White Campion Flower head.

Birds are always on the top of my agenda and the Hill didn’t disappoint. The highlight was a pair of Hawfinches flying over the entrance to the Fort area; a species that I rarely see away from the New Forest and I was quite taken aback with these. Both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were in good voice along the main footpath as was several Black caps, which were all seen well. Yellowhammers looked amazing in the sunshine, canary yellow males singing their hearts out on an exposed bush. High overhead, a large flock of Crows contained at least 6 Ravens among them! I was hoping for a Red Kite or two but not even a Common Buzzard was seen over the Hill; though I did see one on the drive up here. The only raptor actually seen was a male Kestrel with a Slow Worm in its talons. I watched it land and start feeding on the bird, when I discovered that inches from the bird were two Red-legged Partridges!

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Silver-ground Carpet moth.

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Another male Yellowhammer by the Fort.

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The male Kestrel tucking into his Slow-worm.

Always lovely to hear the Skylarks singing over the fields, it was also nice to see a Common Whitethroat near the Fort and a Lesser Whitethroat singing down in the southern slope in the distance. Sheep were calling down in the fields and youngsters were still feeding from their mothers close to the Fort. A Coal Tit was seen near the reserve entrance, flying over the main footpath and, occasionally, the odd Linnet and Greenfinch would pass overhead. A Mediterranean Gull flew north high over the countryside, looking kind of out of place among all the green?

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The male Kestrel again and can you see the two Red-legged Partridges in this photo?

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Mother Shipton moth.

Butterflies, I have to say, were far and few between but I did find a few to look at. Brimstone, Red Admiral, Common Blue, Small Heath, Large White and a single Green-veined White were found, but it was the moths that got me very intrigued. Mother Shipton, Silver-ground Carpet, Green Carpet and a superb Galium Carpet were found on my walk round and even a Cocksfoot Moth was unexpectedly found sat on a White Campion flower!

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Galium Carpet moth.

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Green-veined White butterfly.

Other insects found included a Hornet, which was low down in the grass near the main entrance. I watched it climb the grass stems until it flew off with a low hum! A Grasshopper nymph I found whilst talking to Dave, was probably a Roesels’ Bush Cricket. There were also many flowers in bloom which were mostly White and Red Campion, Crosswort, Cowslips and Wild Forget-me-nots. Thankfully, I have Geoff Farwell to fall back on with regards to the plants I cannot recognise; so I shall update this entry later on soon. A thoroughly enjoyable walk this morning and will be back here next month, especially as Dave had some Glow-worms here recently, for I have not seen any for a quite a while now.

Unusual Hoverfly in the Cemy.

Friday 27th May 2016.

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Creeping Buttercup.

My ‘Man-flu’ finally gave way late in the afternoon and despite having the odd coughing fit, I managed to take Scruff for a walk around the Cemetery. The weather held and it was just nice to get out of bed and take a stroll in the fresh air. By God, I hate being ill! I had read earlier that a Roseate Tern is liking the beach at Hill Head this afternoon and also the long staying Black-billed Cuckoo was still present way up north on one of those far flung islands. It keeps the ‘twitchers’ happy!

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This Carrion Crow was most confiding by the footpath. I was only a few feet away from it.

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Large Narcissus Fly – Merodon equestris.

As expected, I didn’t expect to see that many unfamiliar birds on my local patch this afternoon but a Stock Dove perched up in the dead tree on the east side along with a couple of Collared Doves, was nice and unexpected (see photo). Goldfinches sang as usual as did a couple of Blackbirds still holding territory. As mentioned before, I keep an eye out for all types of nature and the Cemy rarely disappoints. Several Swifts were screaming overhead, chasing each other in the sky.

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Common Vetch.

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Common Speedwell.

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Stock Dove.

I found two species of moth on my walk round which included a Least Black Arches perched on the bough of a Chestnut tree near the Mausoleum and a Garden Carpet on one of the Chestnuts on the east side of the Cemy. A Large White butterfly flew over but didn’t settle and I also found a few flowering plants that I didn’t recognise, which I have sent photos to plant guru, Geoff Farwell, to ID for me. I found my first Creeping Cinquefoil of the year growing around some of the graves.

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Garden Carpet.

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Least Black Arches.

Back to the insects, a kind chap on the Bees site on Facebook kindly ID’d a Hoverfly that mimics a small Bumble bee – Merodon equestris, a really tiny but attractive little Hoverfly. It is also known as a Large Narcissus Fly.

It’s all gone Yellow!

Friday 27th May 2016.

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Yellow-barred Brindle.

Yesterday, I was near totally bedridden with ‘Man Flu’ and I felt absolutely s***! Today, a tad better but still feel very weak and cannot stop coughing! However, I couldn’t resist putting out my moth box last night, though I never expected rain overnight. Maybe it was a blessing for I had 26 moths of 12 species this morning. I had a huge coughing fit which woke me up just after 5am and so I got up to go and switch the moth box light off.

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Ephestia parasitella.

A Brimstone Moth flew off when I opened the door and it didn’t take long to notice that there was indeed a good number of moths around. Even the local Sparrows hadn’t started yet in search of their breakfast by my box as I found my first Yellow-barred Brindle’s of the year! Up to 6 Bright-line Brown-eyes were present along with a Garden Carpet, Shuttle-shaped Dart and a Pale Mottled Willow.

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Common Pug.

At least four Ephestia parasitella were present, which were pick of the micros. Even Basingstoke Birder, Dave Levy, had a good haul as well with 37 moths including a superb photo of a head on shot of a Pale Tussock.

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Pale Tussock by Dave Levy.

Is my heart still in it?

Wednesday 25th May 2016.

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From top to bottom: Shuttle-shaped Dart, Large Yellow Underwing & Bright-line Brown-eye.

This morning, there were up to 7 macro moths present within the moth box which included two ‘new for the year’ – a Large Yellow Underwing and a Heart & Dart. That was encouraging, but still way short in numbers from last year. Buff Ermine, Bright-line Brown-eye, Double Striped Pug and two Shuttle-shaped Darts made up the numbers.

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A male Blackbird posing in the sunshine.

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My first Birds-foot Trefoil of the year growing in the Cemy.

On Monday evening, I took Scruff for another walk around Highland Road Cemetery; making the most of the fine weather that day. The female Sparrowhawk was seen again as was the Green Woodpecker (within the Cemy this time!). A Goldfinch showed well in the evening sunshine, singing from a television aerial on the outskirts of the Cemy. Again, good numbers of young Starlings were on the wing, screeching behind their parents.

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Goldfinch singing.

Because of the late walk, I didn’t expect to see many insects on the wing but a Small White landed on the ground next to a Six-spotted Ladybird. A large Hoverfly turned out to be a Epistrophe eligans, which was sunbathing on a leaf.

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The Six-spotted Ladybird with a Small White butterfly for company.

Today, though I felt really ‘under the weather’ health wise, I saw my first Hornet Bee of the year, buzzing past me within the ground of the Oaks Crematorium.

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Black Ants harvesting the Blackfly aphids, which were seen within the Cemy.

Beautiful Demoiselle damselflies showing well.

Tuesday 24th May 2016.

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Bee Moth in my loft yesterday evening.

Though I didn’t kick off the day with my moth box, as I never put it out last night due to the cold overnight temperatures, I did see some interesting fauna today while working over the Portchester Crematorium area. The warm, sunny days continue this week, but as mentioned, the cool overnight temperatures are still keeping the moth numbers low, which seems to be a national thing and not just in Southsea.

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Eudonia angustea in my moth box yesterday morning.

Yesterday, just 6 moths were recorded and none were new for the year either! I saw my first Beautiful Demoiselle damselflies of the year when I spotted a couple of females around the Crematorium gardens this morning, which was most unexpected. Unfortunately, I never had my camera as I was working and they wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to use my mobile camera. Also present around the gardens was a flighty yet vocal male Blackcap, which showed well. A pair of Goldcrests flew over my head and a flock of Long-tailed Tits were flicking through the small trees.

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A young House Sparrow has succumbed.

I found a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest complete with calling youngsters within the gardens; the adult flew out and flew off south. A Robin was feeding its noisy youngster in one of the tall shrubs and several Small White and Holly Blue butterflies were on the wing in the strong sunshine.

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Meliscaeva auricollis in my moth box yesterday morning.

Not a lot seen over the Oaks Crematorium, Havant, this afternoon; but a pair of Common Buzzards were soaring near the entrance to the premises. Nationally, the Stilt Sandpiper looks to have departed but down in the West Country, both the Lemmergeier and Dalmatian Pelican are still present, although the former is still giving everyone the run-around.

On a bitter sweet note, the local House Sparrows still have their noisy brood in the eaves of my neighbours house, however tonight, I found a dead youngster on my decking in the back garden. Was it too close to the nest hole and a Magpie or Crow grabbed it and dropped it?

Starling families enjoying the insect bounty in the Cemy.

Sunday 22nd May 2016.

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Dandelion in seed. How beautiful is that.

Though it is tempting to take a look at the Stilt Sandpiper at Pennington Marshes, I took a leisurely stroll with Scruff around Highland Road Cemetery instead. I have seen Stilt Sands a few times now and, funny enough, the last one I saw was at the same location as today. Nevertheless, a stunning bird to view.

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Epistrophe eligans.

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A young Blackbird waiting for its breakfast.

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Dad is keeping a sharp eye out on me after photographing his youngster.

Despite some cloud, the sun came out this morning and after some overnight rain, the Cemy looked very fresh and green. Family flocks of Starlings were all over the place as was several fledgling Blackbirds looking for insects in the recently mown grass. I was very happy in finding a Chiffchaff flitting about one of the Silver Birch trees, although this bird never uttered a sound and I carefully checked all the features before I concluded with its ID.

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Young Starlings following their parents on the rooftops.

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Swift overhead.

Overhead, good numbers of Swifts were chasing aerial insects in the bright sunshine and a real challenge to photo with my Bridge Camera. With all those Starlings about, it was inevitable that the Sparrowhawk should make a sortie to grab one and sure enough, the female came in and went after one near the Mausoleum area. I picked her up late through the binoculars but I couldn’t see if she was successful or not.

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Another young Blackbird looking for breakfast.

As it is now starting to warm up again, there were a good number of insects on the wing this morning which included a couple of species of butterfly – notably Large White and Holly Blue. I even found a couple of Least Black Arches moths on one of the tall Horse Chestnuts. A couple of Six-spotted Ladybirds were found on the Ox-eye Daisies and also several interesting species of Bees and a couple of Hoverfly species called Epistrophe eligans. I found some Dryads Saddle fungi growing on the Horse Chestnut in the south-east corner. As this tree has lost a couple of its main branches, I am not surprised that fungi has got into it, which probably helped cause the loss of branches.

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Dryad’s Saddle growing on a different tree in the Cemy.

As I left the Cemy, walking west along Albert Road, I saw a Green Woodpecker flying towards the Cemy over the rooftops! Where on earth had it come from?

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Six-spotted Ladybird on the Ox-eye Daisies.

Three new moths for the year this morning.

Sunday 22nd May 2016.

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White Ermine.

After a great night watching T-Rextasy in the Wedgewood Rooms, I was a little worse for wear this morning! It wasn’t raining, which was a plus, when I took a stroll into the garden. Surprisingly, I found two moths on the back wall (the Sparrows must of missed these), of which one was new for the year – Willow Beauty. The other moth was a pristine Bright-line Brown-eye. Last night, a quick look at the trap at midnight revealed an Angle Shades flying up and down the back door.

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Willow Beauty.

Within the box, one of the trays held a White Ermine, another first for the year and a couple of micros. One was an Eudonia angustia and the other I nearly missed, the tiny Cypress Tip Moth, Argyresthia cuppresella. In fact there were two of them, as one flew out when I was closing the box. I did find a White-shouldered House Moth inside the back door also.

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Cypress Tip Moth – Argyresthia cuppresella.

Garden Pebble rolls in.

Saturday 21st May 2016.

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Garden Pebble.

The ‘internal alarm’ clock went off early this morning (6.30am) and so as I struggled out of bed, I eventually made my way down to the moth box in the back garden. Though it was overcast and damp overnight, the moth total was yet again, very low. Just four moths were present, but it did included my first Garden Pebble of the year; one of our largest macro moths.

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Bright-line Brown-eye.

Other moths present included a Bright-line Brown-eye, the only macro species; one Light-brown Apple Moth and I flushed a Agonopterix yeatiana, which was my second of the year. It seems that I am not the only one having ridiculously low numbers as Dave Levy in Basingstoke, is also suffering too!

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Young Magpie by its nest.

The latest on ‘mothing’ at the Oaks Crematorium is that it seems to have died a death! There has to be a Saturday funeral to get access to the place and therefore, I have no way of entering the place without special permission. I shall have to ask the Manager very, very nicely if he wouldn’t mind coming in early on a Saturday. Watch this space. Within our Havant branch where I work, I found a singing Grey Wagtail perched on a pole near the Stream, where I assume, it has its territory. I am not familiar on its call, as it stumped me at first. Also, a Magpie has nested in the back car park and sporting two well fledged young.

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Agonopterix yeatiana.

Gannets in the Solent.

Wednesday 18th May 2016.

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Garden Carpet in my moth box this morning.

Yet again, a poor showing in the moth box with just 12 moths of 5 species present. A couple of White-shouldered House Moths were the only moths probably spared by the Sparrows on the back wall, while inside the box, there were 3 Bright-line Brown-lines and a Garden Carpet.

On my travels today, I was working on the Isle of Wight and we and a work colleague used the Hovercraft to get there and back today. On our journey over, I clocked a large group of sea birds over the Solent and it turned out to be at least 20+ Gannets and who knows how many Gulls, plunging into the sea for fish. Very impressive. On the journey back, a Sandwich Tern was flying adjacent to us until it soon flew off back over the sea.

At Carisbrooke Church, near Newport, I watched a pair of Swifts flying into a nest hole within the eaves of the old Church, just a few yards from where we stood. Hopefully, my Swift box will be hosting some Swifts too. A Raven perched high on the steeple, not to the liking of the local Crows either.