A breezy morning at Fort Cumberland.

Saturday 28th March 2015.

An adult Med Gull with a Black-headed Gull on Eastney Beach.

March is nearly over, but there is still time to grab a few early migrants before April sets in. I set my heart in walking Eastney Point this morning, but the car park overlooking the harbour entrance was totally full! I have no idea why, as there was not a soul to be seen! The blustery conditions might have thrown in an unusual seabird or migrant but I didn’t have the opportunity to check the area out.

Fort Cumberland Common.

I thought I would give the beach a try and walk east towards Eastney Point, but our money grabbing Council has stuck a new Pay Machine opposite the Eastney Swimming Baths. I am resident in Southsea and to pay a fee to park my car where I live, really gets my goat! So, my last option was to take a walk with Scruff around Fort Cumberland Common. Some chap photographed the Dartford Warbler here a few days ago, but I knew that to see the bird in this wind would be very lucky.

Gorse brightening up a dismal Saturday morning.

There were just a few dog walkers around this morning, but one miserable woman who failed to keep her large dog under control from potentially biting my dog, got a tongue lashing from me. If a dog is that nasty, why isn’t it on a lead? The rest of the dog walkers were polite and friendly, thankfully. Birdlife was going to be at a premium in this weather; with overcast skies and a strong westerly blowing.

This male Dunnock was in full song despite the strong wind.

Before I took a walk around the Common, a resting Mediterranean Gull on Eastney Beach grabbed my attention as I quickly grabbed the camera and took a few photos of the bird, which was resting with a Black-headed Gull. As I walked back to the car, a pair of Med Gulls flew overhead, heading west.

A female Greenfinch on the Common.

Back at the Common, there were no sign of any early migrants, with the only sightings being a pair of Greenfinches, one singing male Dunnock and a flyover Meadow Pipit. My first Creeping Buttercups of the year were found flowering in the open spaces away from the Gorse Bushes. Over the border, in West Sussex; there is an Alpine Swift on show, flying over the Crawley and Gatwick area.

A better photo of yesterday's Early Grey in my garden.

My first moth in the garden for 2015.

Friday 27th March 2015.

Someone on the Hants Moths Facebook page said that moths, this year, are about a couple of weeks late and how right they were. This time last year, my first moth, an Early Grey, was found by the moth box in my garden on the 11th of this month and today, the 27th, my first moth, also an Early Grey, was found by the box this morning (OK, not quite two weeks).

Early Grey.

True, my location and also the cold overnight weather does not help matters, but moth numbers are down nationally, especially on the south coast. But, dare I say it, the moths are back at last. I used my iphone to take a photo of the Early Grey this morning, but I wasn’t all that impressed with it. I might be considering getting a new phone soon?

A Greenshank finally seen on Thorney Island.

Tuesday 24th March 2014.

A Carrion Crow with nesting material in the Cemy.

First thing this morning, before I headed off to a client’s house in Emsworth, I took Scruff for a pleasant walk around Highland Road Cemetery. Heavy thundery showers were reported for later today but this morning, it was bright and sunny, though with a northerly wind blowing. I was hoping for a migrant or two, but the best I could come up with was a singing male Chiffchaff within the trees by Highland Road.

Daisy's are pushing their way through.

Not a great deal of birdlife of note bar the usual species. Three Robins were chasing each other within the Cherry Trees and performing that head wagging and stretching display. Was this between the male birds for territorial reasons? It was interesting watching them, nonetheless. The Goldfinches showed occasionally, but there was no sign of any Goldcrests today in the Holm Oaks.

The three Robins with each other.

Daisy’s and Dandelions are starting to sprout up through the recently cut grass, but not a great deal else. A few Bumble bees hurried across the gravestones, but being early in the morning, there wasn’t a lot of insects on the wing. The Jay was seen again, flying from the east side to the Holm Oaks, but again, no sign of the Green Woodpecker. Has it gone to Kingston Cemetery, being a much larger area with more trees? A trickle of Meadow Pipits headed north, but little else of note in the way of migration.

The singing male Chiffchaff in the Cemy.

I had a midday appointment over Emsworth, so, beforehand, I done a walk down the west side of Thorney Island. From the small car park by Thornham Road, a Chiffchaff was in full song and overhead, Mediterranean Gulls were calling. The footpath leading to the seawall on the west side, was nice and dry this time, as I walked slowly along, keeping my ears and eyes open for anything unusual. More Chiffchaffs were discovered along the footpath by the Paddocks as well as a few calling Cetti’s Warblers (though these remained hidden as usual).

The walk down the west side of Thorney Island.

Black-tailed Godwit and Teal within Emsworth Harbour.

The tide was out within Emsworth Harbour and wasn’t due for high tide till around 2pm. There were still quite a few waders out on the mudflats, notably Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit. A long line of Brent Geese were on the foreshore over on the Hayling Island side and a small group of three Mergansers were seen swimming in the channel. I was hoping for a Sandwich Tern or a Greenshank within the harbour, but no diamonds there.

Med Gull high overhead heading west.

Mute Swans heading north close to the footpath.

As I neared the Little Deeps, I heard ‘mewing’ Common Buzzards overhead and counted 6 birds circling very high up. They did come down eventually and showed very well at times. The Little Deeps was quiet, with just Tufted Duck and Little Grebe the only birds seen. Meadow Pipits went past in reasonable sized flocks heading north, but little else was seen over the fields. A Skylark sang in the sunshine, but it was starting to get a lot cloudier by 11am. The Great Deeps was also fairly quiet and still no sign of any Greenshanks (although I expected them to be out feeding in the harbour, anyway). A pair of sleeping Great Crested Grebes were on the water oblivious of my presence, but not an awful lot else here.

Common Buzzards overhead.

Sleeping Great Crested Grebes on the Great Deeps.

I was soon taking an interest in the flowers and insects present and came across Coltsfoot, Lesser Celandine, Dandelion and Sea Purslane growing by the footpath. Insects including Yellow-legged Mining Bee’s feeding on the Daisy’s and Dandelions plus a Yellow Dung Fly. As I was walking back towards the Little Deeps, low and behold, a Greenshank flew from over the seawall and over the fields and landed in a stream out behind the gorse bushes! My first Greenshank of the year, at last! However, oddly, it never uttered a single note!

Yellow-legged Mining Bee on a Daisy.

Yellow Dung Fly.

The walk back to the car was blessed with even more closer Buzzards and Med Gulls flying overhead, but no Hirundines were seen this morning at this normally reliable site. My friend, John Goodall, had a Swallow last week and Sand Martins have been seen at Posbrook Floods recently. Today, the Ruff was present again near the Titchfield Haven Canal Path. Hampshire’s first singing Willow Warbler of the year was reported in the north of the County this morning. Yet again, the male Blackcap is still singing in the gardens behind our house and still yet to be seen!

Common Buzzard overhead again.

And again!

Common Sandpiper and Blackcaps along the Hilsea Lines.

Sunday 22nd March 2015.

Hilsea Lines.

The Blackcap was singing again in the back gardens behind my house this morning and so, I decided to try Hilsea Lines for a walk today. Another nice start to the day, with wall to wall sunshine, though I kept a warm hat on to take off that chill from the northerly wind. I arrived at Hilsea around 10.30am with Scruff and donned my walking boots.

Violets in bloom.

There was a nice variety of birds to be had this morning and I was pleased to see my first Bluebells of the year in flower within the woodland. No butterflies were seen at all, which was surprising as there seemed to be plenty of bees and Hoverflies on the wing. The main moat held several Little Grebes and Coot but it was while I was looking at my first flowering Violets, I heard the distinctive sub song of a singing Blackcap. I was watching from one of the ‘swims’ by the water’s edge, when, after around 5 minutes, the Blackcap eventually showed itself, although very briefly; but it was my first of the year. I found at least three more along the footpath, including a female bird.



Nearing the bridge, I heard a Firecrest in song and eventually, the bird showed well, flitting around the Ivy by the roadside. However, it was very hard work trying to get a decent photo of the bird, despite taking a lot of photos. Even my best efforts went unrewarded. The area was alive with birdsong; notably Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits. I did find several Long-tailed Tits along my walk and a Chiffchaff was heard singing deep within the woodland. There were quite a few people walking their dogs or children this morning through the woodland, but I was lucky to see a Kingfisher briefly flying west along the moat.

Little Grebe.

Hoverfly species.

Out in the Creek, the tide was rising and on the water, at least one Little Grebe was seen. I was watching a few Redshank along the water’s edge when I suddenly spotted a Common Sandpiper just below me on the foreshore. But, before I could get a decent photo of it, the bird flew off to land on the concrete embankment on the other side. This was my first Common Sandpiper of the year and most probably the wintering bird that was seen earlier this month.

Redshank flying over the Creek.

The Common Sandpiper on the far shore.

I regularly checked the sky overhead for any passing raptors as an Osprey was seen yesterday from here, heading high north. A couple of drake Teal were swimming with the Brent Geese within the Creek, but nothing else of note. Birdguides is still reporting the drake Garganey at Posbrook Floods this morning. I never saw one last year and so I just might have to go for that next week.

My first Bluebells of the year.

A drake Teal on the Creek.

Little Grebes on the main moat.

Hybrid duck had me fooled.

Saturday 21st March 2015.

A sunny start at Woolmer Pond.

The morning started well with a male Blackcap (and still is as I write this!) was heard singing in the back gardens behind my house. I have yet to see the bird, but I shall keep an eye out over the weekend.  I took a drive north today to walk around Woolmer Pond with Scruff for, hopefully, a few early migrants. The sky was clear and the bright sunshine looked most inviting, but as the morning wore on, the cloud came in and the cold northerly wind picked up.

One of several Chiffchaffs seen this morning.

After a couple of Redstarts were reported here earlier this week, this whetted my appetite for a slow walk around the Woolmer Pond; although there was a drake Garganey reported on Posbrook Floods yesterday and a couple of Ruff on nearby Farlington Marshes, to tempt me. I arrived at the site around 8am to a near full car park! A Chiffchaff was singing nearby as I made my way anticlockwise, at first, around the Pond.

A pair of Grey Lags.

I could see on the Pond that the high water level attracted quite a lot of waterfowl, notably a good number of Canada Geese, a few Grey Lags and a single Egyptian Goose, which flew off over the woodland. Shoveler, Mallard, Teal (pair), Tufted Duck, Pochard and a Tufted Duck / Pochard hybrid was present too. The latter had me fooled into believing I had found a drake Scaup, which would have been a good year tick, but when I checked my photos later in the morning, one can clearly see it is a Tufted Duck / Pochard hybrid (groan!). I got confirmation on the Hampshire Birding Group Facebook page that the bird has been seen on here this time last year and is most probably the semi-resident bird from the Kingsley area. The bugger had me fooled, but in my defence, I only had my binoculars to check the bird for I didn’t have my scope with me.

Left, the hybrid duck with a Tufted Duck.

There was a good variety of birds around today, which included at least four separate Woodlark sightings, which included three singing males. The flags were down today and so I took a stroll through Woolmer Forest before walking the perimeter. Several Chiffchaffs were seen at the north end of the Pond and also at least four Reed Buntings. No sign of an early Ring Ouzel north of the Cottage but I had to give the Cottage area a miss as the Army Cadets were practising there.


Through the woodland, three Redpolls flew over as did at least three Siskins. Coal Tits and Goldcrests were seen in the Conifers and Chaffinches were in full song. A Woodlark was singing high overhead when I entered the other side of the Forest and a Stonechat was heard somewhere on the heath. A pair were seen earlier near the Cottage. Not a lot else was seen on the heath as the cloud came in and turned things cooler. A few Linnets flew past overhead also.

A female Stonechat by the footpath.

The walk around the perimeter revealed the Tufted Duck / Pochard hybrid sighting among the Tufted Ducks and nearby, a Great Crested Grebe was seen as well as several Little Grebes. A female Stonechat was seen distantly on a small tree by the footpath but not a great else to be seen bar a single Common Buzzard soaring over the woodland. I joined another birder for a chat (who probably re-identified the Scaup) and while we discussed what was on and around the area of late, a Peregrine flew over the woodland and headed south.

Gorse giving the area a splash of colour.

A ‘fall’ of Chiffchaffs in the Cemy.

Wednesday 18th March 2015.

One of four Chiffchaffs this morning within the Cemy this morning.

A lovely pleasant morning awaited me today and after yet another blank in the moth box, I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery. I am off to a Funeral at 11.30am, which gave me time to have a stroll around the Cemy. There was still a cool north easterly blowing, but once the sun came out behind the high cloud, it certainly did warm up.


One of the Cherry Trees in blossom.

I was really pleased to hear my first Chiffchaff singing in the Cemetery this year and it didn’t take long to find the bird either. I had to take a detour to south of the Holm Oak clump to find the bird but it was also joined by three more birds, flitting about the Holm Oaks. Obviously, despite the wind direction, there must have been a small fall overnight. Also, nearby, was a male Goldcrest; possibly the same bird as my previous visit? Always a pleasure to see these tiny birds here.

A Hoverfly warming itself up in the sunshine.

A male Greenfinch making a brief appearance.

Both Greenfinch and Goldfinch were present as was the lone Jay, which was seen near the Mausoleum. Apart from a couple of north bound Meadow Pipits. there was not a great deal else seen, bar the usual birds; but it was nice to see quite a few Bumble-bees flying round, though not staying long enough to be photographed. I did find a Hoverfly species resting on a gravestone in the sunshine, too.

Starling making the most of the freshly cut grass.

The buds are coming out on the trees.

The Council were busy within the north east side of the Cemy, cutting the grass with their strimmer’s, so I avoided that area this morning. I read on Birdguides that the 1st winter Bonaparte’s Gull has reappeared on Radipole Lake, Dorset, yesterday and still present this morning. Just a bit too far for a year tick. On the ‘Hants Birding’ website, someone has had the pleasure of seeing a Swallow over Southsea this morning. Lucky them.

There is a male Blackcap singing in our back gardens, where I live, but I have yet to clap eyes on it. It will be a year tick, should I do so. As the day wore on, driving to both the Oaks Crematorium in Havant and the Rising Sun, in Clanfield, for the wake; there were a good number of Brimstone butterflies on the wing. Spring is surely now upon us and even the weather forecasters are predicting a warm Easter!

Now, there is leaving out bread for the birds. But this was taking it too far!

The lone Jay within the Cemy.

Very cold at Eastney this morning.

Sunday 15th March 2015.

Eastney Point looking south.

A cold and somewhat uncomfortable walk around Eastney Point this morning with Scruff. The persistant blustery easterly blowing in off Langstone Harbour kept the temperature down and only occasionally, the sun popped out through darkening clouds. Though bracing, to say the least, it was still nice to just get out and stretch the legs. I was hoping for my first Hampshire Wheatear of the year, but there wasn’t all that much about today by the Outfall area.

A new bench overlooking the harbour entrance has been installed to commemorate some chaps life.

The few Gulls that were present were either Black-headed, Common and Herring Gulls and no sign of any Mediterranean among them. A few flocks of Brent Geese flew into the harbour or overhead and I also found one small family flock was feeding on the spit near the Outfall (2 adults and 4 juveniles). A male Merganser flew out of the harbour, but much to quick for me to grab a photo.

The family flock of Brent on the spit.

A scan into the Solent from the Outfall drew a blank and there were no waders on the beach either. From the new perimeter fence overlooking the new Water Treatment Works, I found at least two Stock Doves among the many Wood Pigeons; though nothing more interesting here, either. I was going to walk around the scrubby area but it looked to dense and so re-joined the car park. A Wren popped out briefly and a pair of Greenfinches flew out of a bramble and headed north.

The low tide revealed this old construction by the Outfall.

The moth box drew another blank this morning, but I will persist! Fairly quiet in Hampshire so far today. A Marsh Harrier and a Spoonbill were reported from Titchfield Haven today. A Wheatear and a Sand Martin were reported from Barton-on-sea Golf Course. Wheatear numbers are building up on Portland Bill, with over 20 reported there this morning.

Annual Mercury growing by the boatyard.

Smooth Sow Thistle.

Still cold, but a few signs of Spring in the Cemy.

Saturday 14th March 2015.

Always heart warming to see the first blossom appearing.

I put the moth box overnight, now I am back from my Portland trip, though the temperature this morning was bloody cold! I didn’t expect much and that’s exactly what I got! Not one moth! As I was putting the moth box out last night, at least two Redwing were heard flying over. I was going to take Scruff for a walk this morning around Highland Road Cemetery, though it was tempting to go and see the Little Ringed Plover and Sand Martins at Blashford Lakes today.


Lesser Celandine.

It was around 11am that I took Scruff for a walk, but it felt more like Winter again, rather than Spring. Birds were at a premium, with around a dozen Goldfinch and a male Goldcrest the best of the sightings. Goldfinches were dotted about all over the Cemy, while the Goldcrest was first heard, then seen, within the Holm Trees. A Jay showed very briefly flying away from me near the Mausoleum and a single Wren showed well in the north east section, searching for food among the Ivy.



I could of sworn I heard a Black Redstart calling, but from where I heard the bird calling, a dog walker passed that way and so, whatever was there, was probably flushed as it went all quiet. There were plenty of plants flowering around the gravestones which included Speedwell, Dandelion, Lesser Celandine and also a clump of Selfheal.

A male Blackbird watching a Wren doing all the hard work.

Artist's Bracket growing at the base of a Holm Oak.

The first of the blossom was growing on some of the Cherry Trees, which was the only thing that represented Spring today. I even found a few Toadstools, which one was just the remains of and the other was growing on the base of a Holm Oak, a bracket fungus called Artist’s Bracket (Ganoderma applanatum). 

I photographed this Non-biting Midge on Wednesday at Weymouth Sea Life Centre.

Wheatears by the Cove.

Thursday 12th March 2015.

What a beautiful bird. One of the two male Wheatears present in Chesil Cove this morning.

A much brighter day today, with a light breeze, but still a little hazy overhead. Another walk around Chesil Cove this morning turned up a few more surprises. There was no sign of the Black Redstart, but a pair of male Wheatears more than made up for that. They were both seen on the grassy area behind the Cove and showed very well. A Chiffchaff was heard calling in the gardens behind the car park and I soon briefly saw it chasing insects, until flying off out of sight.


You looking at me? The male Wheatear again.

Overhead, there was a steady stream of Meadow Pipits but they were heard and not seen. Little was on or over the sea, save for a few Shags and some distant Gulls. All the usual common birds were present in the scrubby area, but no sign of yesterday’s Stonechats.

Oystercatcher, Gulls and Shags on the rocks.

Herring gulls on one of the Beach Huts.

This morning, the Black Redstart was seen again by Portland Castle along with a good number of Chiffchaffs within the Castle grounds. A count of 6 Sand Martins were on Radipole RSPB reserve this morning, which I hope to see later today after we have spent a visit to the Sea Life Centre.

Black Redstart day.

Wednesday 11th March 2015.

Female Stonechat high up in the scrub at Chesil Cove.

I couldn’t be bothered in getting up at the crack of dawn this morning, but I was starting to regret that when I found out that a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins were off the East Cliffs near the Bill early this morning. It was a bright morning when I took Scruff for a walk around Chesil Cove and yes, the Black Redstart was present again, though quickly flushed by a dog walker.

This singing Dunnock was one of many.

I took a walk up the hill to the beach huts to see if there was any migrants within the brambles, but the best I could muster was a pair of Stonechats high up near the houses. The usual Dunnocks, Robins and Wrens were in full song; with many chasing each other over the vegetation. On the sea, I found a small group of 5 Eurasian Teal near the rocks and a lone Shag stood on the rocks.

Five Teal offshore at Chesil Cove was unusual.

Earlier today, the Observatory at the Bill produced 2 Firecrest and singles of Bullfinch and Chiffchaff. What will the rest of the day turn up?

A Shag perched on rocks in Chesil Cove.

The footpath over the Top Fields from Sweethill Lane.

This afternoon, I took Scruff for a walk up the Top Fields, taking the footpath at the top of Sweethill Lane, Southwell, then walking to the West Cliffs and back. Unfortunately, the fog and low cloud had rolled in and visibility wasn’t particularly good as the foghorn from the lighthouse, continuously blasted away. Birds were at a premium though the local Herring Gulls, Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeons made up the numbers. A few Meadow Pipits flew over (migrants?), a flock of around 15 Goldfinch and a single ‘alba’ Wagtail, but, again, little else on the move.

Top of the Bird Observatory showing through the fog.

When I reached the West Cliffs footpath, the only notable birds were a male Stonechat perched on the wire fence, a male Kestrel perched on a convenient post and a pair of Shags down below the Cliffs, sitting on the sea. Apart from a few Wrens and a Skylark, little else was seen on the way back to the car. A few flowering plants were in the hedgerows to add a splash of colour on such a dull day. These included Alexander and Lesser Celandine, which attracted some insects.

Alexander, which attracted a few insects.

Lesser Celandine.

Yellow Dung Fly on the Alexander.

Before heading back to the house, I took a stroll around Portland Castle for a quick look in the harbour. No sign of the Black Guillemot offshore, but a few distant Mergansers were swimming offshore. Some bloke with a ‘metal detector’ was on the shoreline, which was disturbing the birds so I took a walk along the harbour wall to see what I could find. I did find an old dog’s toy ball in the car park, which kept Scruff busy. I was only several yards along the harbour wall when out popped the elusive Black Redstart. I regretfully, left my camera in the car as the bird showed very well on the rocks by the shoreline. The bird was also a first winter bird.

The male Stonechat by the West Cliffs.

While checking the seawall in the distance, I found another Black Redstart perched on the rocks, but too far for binoculars to get to see what sex it was. By the boats, at least two Little Grebes were present along with another 10 Mergansers, but nothing else of note. So, seeing three Black Redstarts in a day wasn’t too bad. I read on Birdguides that nearby Radipole Lake, in Weymouth, held a flock of around 20 Sand Martin today!

APOLOGIES: I would like it to be known that I have taken off a part of my entry to yesterdays submission to my Blog, where I mentioned the Portland Bird Observatory warden, Martin Cade. I know a lot of people read my blog and I believe I might of offended some people. I have since contacted Martin and have sent my sincere apologies to him. I rarely mention individuals on here (for legal reasons) and it is my sincere regret that I might of upset him in anyway. When we meet up, I shall shake his hand to accept my apology.