The Nightingales are back at Marlpit Lane.

Sunday 26th April 2015.

Garden Carpet.

My day kicked off with a check of the moth box. It was dry at least, though overcast and cool first thing this morning. Last night, my first Garden Carpet of the year was fluttering behind the box, so I quickly grabbed one of the glass containers and photographed it this morning. There were 8 moths present today which included the following:

  • 2 Early Grey
  • 1 Garden Carpet
  • 3 Double-striped Pug
  • 1 Light-brown Apple Moth
Double-striped Pug

About an hour later, I grabbed Scruff for a walk and took a drive over to Marlpit Lane, on the edge of West Sussex, to try my luck with the Nightingales. This morning, I was in luck as I found at least three singing males; although they took a while to reveal themselves. I was also in luck when a flyby Tree Pipit flew over and a male Turtle Dove was heard singing deep within the Coppice to the north. Unfortunately, the Dove revealed itself and there was no access to view along the footpath north of the waste ground.

The first Nightingale to be seen at Marlpit Lane this morning.

The second Nightingale seen this morning.

Common Whitethroats are now well established here with at least 10 singing males present. Blackcaps were also abundant with at least six birds seen and both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were seen; the latter included the bird I saw last time that had bits of Chiffchaff in its song! A Green Woodpecker showed occasionally, flying over the scrub and at least two Common Buzzards soared overhead. A Song Thrush was seen flying over and I also found the remains of a Song Thrush egg. Three Bullfinches flew over and headed south, while small flocks of Linnets darted about the brambles.

Common Whitethroat.

Remains of a Song Thrush egg.

I took a walk up the Lane, heading north and found a few more Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Both the UK and Spanish Bluebell were growing along the verges and also a few white ones among the more common blue flowers. Oddly, there were no butterflies on the wing, which was probably due to the northerly wind and overcast skies.

Our native Bluebell growing by the roadside.

Clumps of the Spanish Bluebell also growing by the roadside.

On the way back home, I thought I would drop onto Thorney Island for a walk along the footpath by the Paddocks. In fact, I strolled up to the Little Deeps and back and came across a few nice birds to look at. A male Cuckoo was seen well near the Copse and also perched obligingly on the overhead wires until flying off eastbound over the fields.

The male Cuckoo on Thorney Island.

Then flying off east.

Common Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers were holding territories all along the footpath and a couple of Reed Warblers showed well enough in the reedbed by the Little Deeps. A Bearded Tit was heard calling within the reedbed but it didn’t reveal itself, unlike the Reed Buntings, which were much showier. Swallows darted overhead and also showed well perched on the overhead wires. A male Blackcap and Chiffchaff were seen singing along the footpath; a really good area for passing migrants.

Swallow on overhead wires by the footpath.

A male Blackcap singing by the footpath.

Overhead, a Common Buzzard soared past and numerous Med Gulls flew over too from the Sewage Works. I bumped into another birder earlier who told me that he was sure he saw a Turtle Dove in the Copse, but never got a clear view of the bird. I hope they come back here again after a few years absence. I read today that the Hoopoe was seen well again at Crawley this morning. Apparently, it looks as though we were looking in the wrong place yesterday and should have been looking much further along the footpath near the Pig Fields! Bugger! A couple of Roseate Terns were seen this morning off Lepe Country Park and yesterday’s Hudsonian Godwit looks as though it has departed.

Common Whitethroat by the seawall.

No sign of Hoopoe in Crawley, Hampshire.

Saturday 25th April 2015.

John checking out the fields from the footpath.

While sea watching with John Goodall at Southsea seafront this morning, our thoughts turned their attention to the Hoopoe which had been found in the tiny hamlet of Crawley, Hampshire this afternoon. The bird had been around for a few days, habiting some farmland near the village and well photographed it seemed. Both of us have not seen a UK Hoopoe for quite some time, so we ventured up to the north of the county.

Male Brimstone on a Dandelion.

When we arrived, we got our bearings a little wrong until we found the footpath leading to where it was seen last. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, overlooking fields to both our left and right, we were told the bird hadn’t been seen for the past three hours! A small crowd of birders were present, but all had no good news to tell. Yesterday, a Montagues Harrier was seen flying over the fields here. Nevertheless, we gave it an hour for the bird to show, but we were to be disappointed. Crawley lies between Stockbridge and Winchester, so it wasn’t an easy straightforward journey here. Sometimes, you have to take the rough with the smooth and so we resigned to the fact we had dipped on the Hoopoe.

Drinker Moth caterpillar.

While we waited, we enjoyed a nice array of both birds and butterflies. Skylarks showed well singing in the neighbouring fields and at least a pair of Yellowhammers were seen in the adjacent very tall hedge. In fact, it looked as though we were on a very environmentally friendly bit of farmland. There was a large set-a-side stretch of land by the edge of the fields which attracted plenty of plants to flower and in turn, attracted the butterflies. Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Brimstone, Peacock and Orange Tip were abundant along the footpath and some posed nicely for my camera.

Small Tortoiseshell.

Overhead, at least four Common Buzzards were seen and a male Kestrel. A pair of Jays flew across the fields. and a Common Whitethroat was seen and heard in the hedge behind us, but no sign whatsoever of the Hoopoe. John found a large caterpillar near the fence, which turned out to be a Drinker Moth; a species I have never seen before as a moth. So, by 2pm, we decided to make our way back to the car and watched the Swallows overhead chasing insects in the warm sunshine.

Syrphus ribesii.

Some very interesting birds in the UK at present includes the Great Blue Heron on the Scillies still and an amazing report of a Hudsonian Godwit being found on Meare Heath, Somerset. Should this bird hang around, there is a good chance I might actually go for it.

Black-throated Diver & Bonxie on seawatch.

Saturday 25th April 2015.

One of 5 Fulmars seen this morning.

The rain hitting the bedroom window early this morning did not bode well for this morning, but it eventually disappeared around 6am as I joined John Goodall for another seawatch from Southsea seafront. I picked up two more year ticks with a Great Skua passing through distantly eastbound over the Solent and also a Black-throated Diver, which first flew east then flew back west around an hour later.

Flock of 6 Oystercatchers heading west.

Again, the Common Terns made up most of the sightings today, but added species included several Fulmars, including one that flew west high above us; good numbers of Whimbrel, a flock of Common Scoter, a superb light-phased Arctic Skua and a small flock of Swallows in off the sea. We also had a small passerine that flew in though I lost sight of it as it disappeared behind our shelter. Though the rain eventually disappeared, the visibility first thing this morning was poor, but it slowly improved as the morning wore on.

John by the shoreline.

This morning’s log is as follows:

  • Sandwich Tern: 15 west & 5 east
  • Common Tern: 34 west & 15 east
  • Fulmar: 4 west & 2 east (probably same birds)
  • Common Scoter: 4 east
  • Whimbrel: 7 west
  • Arctic Tern: 3 east
  • Arctic Skua: 1 light phase east 0740hrs
  • Oystercatcher: 9 west
  • Black-throated Diver: 1 east then probably same bird west and hour later.
  • Peregrine: 1 on fort then flew off south west
  • Curlew: 1 west
  • Great Skua: 1 east 0850hrs
  • Swallow: 5 north

Common Tern heading west.

Despite the wet conditions overnight, I was pleasantly surprised this morning with 5 moths in and around the moth box. One, was my first Silver Y of the year. The haul this morning included:

  • Early Grey (2)
  • Shuttle-shaped Dart (2)
  • Silver Y
Silver Y.

 A dark form of Shuttle-shaped Dart this morning.

Arctic Tern & Skua through the Solent.

Friday 24th April 2015.

Shuttle-shaped Dart.

I had to be up early this morning to not only drop off my wife’s car for her MOT, but also to run her to work too! We woke up to thick fog over Southsea, but there was still a few moths in and around the moth box this morning. A check last night of the box, before we retired to bed, revealed my first Brimstone Moth of the year and, fortunately, it was still present this morning.

Along with the Brimstone, a further the following 8 moths were present:

  • Brimstone Moth
  • Double-striped Pug (4)
  • Early Grey (2)
  • Shuttle-shaped Dart
  • Light-brown Apple Moth

Along with the moths, a showy Chiffchaff was ‘hoo-eeting’ in my garden somewhere and eventually, I saw it around 6 feet away near our bird feeder.

Common Tern heading west over the Solent this afternoon.

After a cancellation for midday, I treated myself to a seawatch from Southsea seafront, from our usual shelter overlooking the Solent. It was still a bit misty out over the Solent, but as the afternoon wore on, it was getting brighter. The sea state was very calm and the winds looked as though they might be a south westerly, although very light. In the two and half hours I was there, I was quite pleased in seeing what I did, to be honest, which included a couple of year ticks.

Common Tern powering its way west past the boats.

More Common Terns over the Solent.

The good news was is that there was a steady trickle of birds, though mostly Terns, passing through and I also got to see my first Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern of the year. A big smily face from me! The Arctic Skua was a dark phased individual, flying eastbound low over the sea, around half way across the Solent. The Arctic Terns, a small flock of three birds, were also flying east, but much closer in. A steady stream of Common Terns went through, heading both east and west in small flocks. Smaller numbers of Sandwich Terns went through, with all bar two birds, heading east.

A pair of Med Gulls graced the beach in front of me.

The only waders seen were Whimbrel, but one flock contained 16 birds in total in a loose flock. I did hear several others calling, but failed to locate them! Just the two Swallows together flying in off the sea and I was entertained all afternoon by a pair of pristine conditioned Med Gulls on the beach in front of me!

What a stunning Gull.

 This afternoons log is as follows:

  • Common Tern: 12 east, 38 west
  • Sandwich Tern: 11 east, 2 west
  • Commic Tern: 29 east
  • Mediterranean Gull: 2 east, 2 on beach
  • Whimbrel: 19 east, 3 west
  • Arctic Skua: 1 dark phased east
  • Arctic Tern: 3 east
  • Swallow: 2 north.

Earlier today, a Little Gull and 11 Common Scoter went through Stokes Bay. In a Hampshire village called Crawley, which is near Stockbridge in the north of the County, a Hoopoe spent the day there, entertaining its admirers. I would dearly loved to see one flying in off the sea during a seawatch off Southsea. Below, some footage of the Med Gulls on the beach.

The Mediterranean Gulls on Southsea Beach.

Second Clouded Drab of the year.

Thursday 23rd April 2015.

Clouded Drab.

The cold overnight conditions seem to go on and on and last night, however, it did cloud over and so, I was hoping for a few more moths than normal. A total of 7 moths were found, but only one inside the moth box, my second Clouded Drab of the year. 5 Double-striped Pugs were present on the fence panels behind the box and an interesting micro flew up from the patio floor but quickly settled on the ground; long enough for me to photograph it. Its identification to follow.

Incurvaria species.

Shuttle-shaped Dart NFY.

Wednesday 22nd April 2015.

Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Yet, it was another very cold breezy night and there was just one moth in the box this morning! I am reading on Facebook Hants Moths entries that some ‘Moth-ers’ are getting into double figures with their catches, yet I am struggling to get a moth! April, I know, can be a cold month and it will start to pick up as the year wears on.

A well worn White-shouldered House Moth.

Anyway, to be consistent, I put the box out last night and was rewarded with my first Shuttle-shaped Dart of the year. A few quick photos from my iphone and I let the moth go. A strange little micro was kept over till yesterday morning and a few photos sent on the Facebook page, was eventually identified as a much worn White-shouldered House Moth (NFY, by the way, stands for New For Year).

Chocolate Mining-bee in Highland Road Cemetery yesterday.

Bee-utiful in the Cemy this afternoon.

Monday 20th April 2015.

One of two juvenile Blackbirds in the Cemy.

And the second juvenile Blackbird in the Yew.

I had a busy day today, working all over the place, including the Havant area where I saw my first Orange Tip butterflies this year. Back in my Southsea garden, my first Holly Blue of the year flew over. It was to be a good day for butterflies as the sun shone virtually all day. I took Scruff for a late afternoon walk around Highland Road Cemetery before our dinner and found my first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year as well.

Speckled Wood within the Cemy.

Cuckoo Bee (Nomada marshemella).

I didn’t expect to see many interesting birds within the Cemy but it was nice to see my first fledgling Blackbirds of the year in the south west corner in and around the Yew Tree. I even found a Wood Pigeon on its nest in the tree next to it. A few Goldfinches were seen but very little else. I therefore was studying the insects more and with so many different types of bees on the wing, they suddenly grabbed my attention. Cuckoo Bee was unusual (identified by the kind chaps on Facebook) as it was a type of bee I have not encountered before.

Wood Pigeon on eggs.

Epistrophe eligans Hoverfly.

A few new plants were beginning to come through which included a Bluebell and also Narrow-leaved Plantain. I did find a micro moth on the wing, but it didn’t settle long enough for me to grab a photo. Today, the Greater Yellowlegs reappeared in front of the Pumphret Hide again, this morning. A flock of 9 Little Gulls moved through Stokes Bay this morning and sightings of Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern were seen from Hill Head. My friend Geoff Farwell had a good day at Farlington Marshes yesterday with sightings of Garganey, Lesser Whitethroat, Whimbrel, 2 Wheatears, 4 Whitethroats, both Reed and Sedge Warbler, 5 Chiffchaffs and several Swallows.

Syrphus ribesii Hoverfly.


Black-winged Stilt & Yellow Wagtail on year list.

Sunday 19th April 2015.

The male Black-winged Stilt on the Ferry Pool this morning.

John Goodall and I went into West Sussex very early this morning and by 7am, we were watching our first Black-winged Stilt of the year upon Siddlesham Ferry Pool. The clear blue sky overhead was very misleading, as it was so very cold. A bone numbing north easterly was blowing and being in the shadow on the side of the road, overlooking the Ferry Pool, it didn’t take long for my hands to go numb!

BW Stilt.

However, the male Stilt performed well close to the road as I reeled off quite a few photos while I was there. There was no sign of any of the Spotshanks I had seen earlier this week, but the Black-tailed Godwit were still in good numbers. The usual wildfowl were present and a pair of Red-legged Partridge were near the trees to the north of the fields. A good check within the fields revealed several Redshank and Lapwing, with a few Skylarks in attendance, but little else.

The Stilt having a scratch.

I suggested to John that we try Church Norton next for possible migrants and so we made the journey south. Unfortunately, the wind was even stronger down here, blowing in off the harbour and though we had a good search for migrants, the best we could come up with was a pair of Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler. Sheep, with their lambs, were grazing in the small field in front of the Church, which was nice to see.

A Willow Warbler on the footpath leading to the car park.

Are next stop was to be Selsey Bill for a final hours seawatch. We joined the twenty or so birders present by the concrete wall, which was thankfully out of the wind and was immediately told that we had missed a Hobby flying in by 4 minutes! Nevertheless, we did have a trickle of birds moving through and flying in off the sea, which included our first Yellow Wagtail of the year. Hirundines were arriving in fairly good numbers, which included many Swallows, one Swift and a flock of four House Martins.

John (far right) and other birders at Selsey Bill.

On the sea, there was a single Great Crested Grebe and a Great Northern Diver, while both Sandwich and Common Terns flew up and down the beach. It was low tide and a vast amount of sand was revealed in front of us. The local Council has sent diggers down recently to shore up the pebbles on the beach to act as a sea defence. A flock of distant Whimbrel (around 10 birds) flew east close to the mile basket, while a few more single birds passed much closer. A pair of Common Scoter flew east, but were some distance out. I decided to stand while I was here as the concrete embankment was absolutely murder on my bum! I normally bring a deck chair if I am doing The Bill, but this was a last minute decision to come here. Below, some film of the Stilt this morning.

The male Black-winged Stilt on Siddlesham Ferry Pool.

By 9am, we decided to make a move and head home but not before another check of the Ferry Pool, seeing that someone put on Birdguides, along with Stilt, that a Spotshank and a Water Pipit was present. We found the Stilt again on the far end of the Ferry Pool, as well as the Spotshank, but there was no sign of the Pipit. A couple of Swallows flew low over the Ferry Pool and a Green Woodpecker flew over, heading north. Not a bad morning, with two more year ticks, however, on Birdguides, someone had found a Pied Flycatcher behind the Information Centre, which would have been nice if I heard about it earlier! Also, the Greater Yellowlegs has been found at Titchfield Haven again this morning.

Nightingale. Jim Walker kindly emailed over some photos of one of the Nightingales at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve.

House Martin & Swift in off the sea this morning.

Saturday 18th April 2015.

A couple of Starlings came down to search for food right by our feet!

One of the confiding Starlings.

With a cold north-easterly and a cloudless sky, John Goodall and I were glad to be in the comfort of the shelter on Southsea seafront. However, though we had a nice trickle of sightings this morning, it was sadly marred by some ‘druggy’ annoying all that passed by on the seafront, which also included John and I. Though he didn’t get violent, he was a pain in the backside and completely off his head. As I was leaving the car park, it looked as though someone called the police as they sped into the car park to, hopefully, remove the idiot.

Summer plumage Black-headed Gull posing in the sunshine.

Despite that hiccup, John and I grabbed some more month ticks, as we enjoyed our first House Martin and Swift flying in off the sea. A pair of Fulmars heading west were Johns first for the year. A couple of small flocks of Commic Terns, flying mid Solent, headed east, while a flock of 6 Common Terns flew much closer in, watched flying in a tight bunch heading east. At least 8 Whimbrel and 2 Oystercatchers were counted during our stay and John, who arrived a lot earlier than myself, saw the 10 Purple Sandpipers below the Castle along with a Rock Pipit.

I'm afraid this was the best photo of a distant Whimbrel passing through.

A Grey Heron was seen flying east mid Solent and a Peregrine was seen harassing the Gulls out by one of the sea Forts, then it landed on the Fort itself. A nice variety today, especially with a trickle of Swallows coming in off the sea. Unfortunately, most of the birds passing through were quite distant and so photo opportunities were quite limited. Though the sun was shining and we were both wrapped up in virtual winter plumage, it was still so cold! Anyway, this morning’s log is as follows:

  • Commic Tern: 20 east
  • Sandwich Tern: 10 east
  • Red-breasted Merganser: 2 east (females)
  • Whimbrel: 8 east
  • Fulmar: 2 west
  • Common Tern: 7 east
  • Swift: 1 north
  • House Martin: 1 north
  • Swallow: 9 north
  • Grey Heron: 1 east
  • Oystercatcher: 2 east
  • Peregrine: 1 over Solent

Bright-line Brown-eye & Eudonia angustea NFY.

Thursday 16th April 2015.

Bright-line Brown-eye.

Last night was reasonably mild and judging by the amount of Double-striped Pugs around the moth box, this morning was looking promising. In fact, I only had eight moths in total but it did included my first Bright-line Brown-eye of the year and also a new micro moth: Eudonia angustea. In total, the following were present this morning:

  • 4 Double-striped Pug
  • 1 Eudonia angustea
  • 1 Bright-line Brown-eye
  • 1 Common Plume
  • 1 Light-brown Apple Moth

Eudonia angustea.

A very bright Double-striped Pug.

Also present were four Lacewings, my first this year. Later this morning, I was up Portchester Crematorium with Sinead Townsend, laying some flowers on my mother-in-laws ashes, which are spread in the garden of remembrance. Overhead, I saw a Common Buzzard, a female Sparrowhawk and unexpectedly, a male Peregrine circling. Both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing in the garden. A pair of Brimstones and several Small Tortoiseshells were on the wing here and within the large fish pond, tadpoles were seen all around the edge of the Pond.

One of four beautiful Lacewings.