Feathered Ranunculus new for the year.

Monday 22nd September 2014.

Lunar Underwing with Feathered Ranunculus.

A bright, but cold morning to start the day off, so I didn’t expect to get too much in the moth box. However, I was pleasantly surprised to get my first Feathered Ranunculus of the year sat nicely on one of the egg trays within the box. Using my Samsung PL150 is still a bit of a struggle in the early morning light, to get a quality sharp shot, so I might have to resort in trapping any new moth and save it till when the light gets better (maybe everyone does this, I don’t know?).

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point, Hayling Island. Photo by Keith Maycock.

Moth numbers, especially with another period of high pressure and clear overnight skies all week, will no doubt keep the moth numbers down, but who knows what might turn up. My small array of moths (12 moths of 9 species) included another Lunar Underwing, along with singles of Pale Mottled Beauty, Garden Carpet, Square-spot Rustic and 2 L-album Wainscot and 3 Willow Beauty. A single Light-brown Apple Moth and one Emmelina monodactyla made up the numbers.

The Juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point, Hayling Island. Photo by Jim Walker.

Whilst checking the moths, a Grey Wagtail was first heard then seen flying high overhead northbound and the regular Chiffchaff was dancing about high in my neighbours Silver Birch tree. Some good birds were seen in Hampshire over the weekend with Keyhaven Marshes hosting both Semi-palmated Sandpiper and a Richards Pipit. Titchfield Haven still held the juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Little Stints. A Wryneck was on the Hooks Links reserve and another at Southmoor.

Whinchat at Sandy Point. Photo by Jim Walker.

Both Keith Maycock and Jim Walker emailed over some nice photos of the juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point, which is still present there. Many thanks guys.

Female Dartford Warbler at Sandy Point. Photo by Jim Walker.

A foggy morning on Farlington Marshes.

Saturday 20th September 2014.

A foggy start to the day.

I took a stroll around Farlington Marshes with John Goodall this morning. It was a foggy, yet balmy start to the morning when I arrived at the reserve car park at 7.30am. This time, there were hardly any cars within the car park and very few people were encountered as we walked around the harbour wall. High tide was due at around 9am, as the waders began to get restless within Langstone Harbour. Unfortunately, the water level on the Lake was too high, therefore very few waders were present here, however, it was good for the wildfowl.

One of the Kingfishers posing nicely just off the harbour wall.

My first Common Gull of the season along with a Black-headed Gull.

The fog was slowly lifting but the light remained poor all morning, hence a lot of my photos being rather grainy and not very sharp. The Lake held good numbers of Wigeon and Teal, plus there was at least 8 Pintail present. A Common Snipe was trying to hide in the red weed by the edge of the Lake, while both Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank were pouring over the sea wall and onto the reserve from the harbour. Several Greenshank were seen over the harbour but best of all, was a pair of Kingfishers sitting on a pile of seaweed on the mud, overlooking the water as it slowly began to rise.

Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the rising tide looking west from the harbour wall.

Meadow Pipits were abundant throughout the reserve.

A large flock of Linnet (60+) were checking out the weeds along the sea wall as did several Meadow Pipits and below us, within the reedbeds, we picked out a Reed Warbler scuttling through the reeds, then showed well in a nearby bramble. Walking up to the south of the reserve, a Whinchat was seen well on the fence within the fields. As we neared the Point field, more chats were seen with a pair of Wheatears and a female Stonechat close together near the sea wall.

Pintail and Wigeon on the Lake.

Wigeon seen south of the reserve within the harbour.

Out in the harbour, WIgeon were in large groups, intermingled with Mallard and Canada Geese. From the Point, our first Brent Geese of the Autumn were picked up resting on the water in small flocks. At least 20 were seen, in three separate flocks along with at least three Great Crested Grebes. No sign of any Ospreys yet again within the harbour, but a male Kestrel was seen several times on out trip around the reserve. The Deeps remained empty again (no idea why?), save for a female Reed Bunting showing well in the reeds in front of us.

Wheatears near the Point field.

Female Stonechat in the Point Field.

A Chiffchaff showed well by the sea wall and another bird was just to the east of the Information Centre. Good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit were on the Stream but apart from Lapwing, no other waders were present. I did hear some Bearded Tits in the reedbed but it wasn’t till we reached the Lake again, that we spotted a flock of around 20 birds flying from one reedbed to another. John was in for a bonus as his first Spotshank of the year flew over and landed at the far end of the Lake. Earlier in the morning, we spotted our first Common Gull of the Autumn within the harbour and along the stream, there was at least two more among the Gulls.

Some of our first Brent Geese of the Autumn within the harbour.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes in the harbour.

The Bushes area was very quiet, bar the many Robins singing and ‘ticking’ throughout the area. A Grey Wagtail was seen flying over the Stream heading east and within the fields with the cattle, at least 50+ Yellow Wagtail were seen flying around in two separate large flocks, with the Meadow Pipits.

Female Reed Bunting by the Deeps.

A Chiffchaff by the Sloe berries near the Info Centre.

A check on Birdguides this morning revealed that a Semipalmated Sandpiper was present for its second day at Keyhaven Marshes, with a couple of Little Stints. It has been a few years since my last one, so I might be tempted should it stay for a while. A Wryneck is at Hooks Links this morning (yet to see one this Autumn) and nationally, a juvenile Masked Shrike is on the Spurn peninsula! Wow! The moth box this morning, held 3 Lunar Underwing among the 26 moths present of 12 species. Also, a couple of Hawthorn Shield bugs were in the box too.

Small Dusty Wave.

Highland Road Cemy in the Autumn sunshine.

Friday 19th September 2014.

Magpie's on the hunt within the Cemy.

After finishing all my ‘admin’ this morning, I took Scruff for a walk around midday over Highland Road Cemetery. A glorious sunny day beckoned after this morning’s early cloud had dispersed and I was hoping for a migrant or two within the Cemy. Unfortunately, my trip was cut a little short as I had to take someone to St. Marys Hospital for a check-up as promised for 1pm! Bugger!

Plenty of conkers for the School kids!

However, a few interesting things of note were spotted on my walk round. The female Sparrowhawk passed low over the treetops, heading eastbound and scattering the local Wood Pigeons. Swallows were passing through in small numbers and one looked good for a House Martin, but I was too late to pick it up through the binoculars. Several Robins were ‘ticking’ in different areas of the Cemy, but none were seen.

Garden Spiders are everywhere now.

In the south-east corner, a Goldfinch was heard singing deep within the Holly Tree and a Common Darter was buzzing high overhead. The only butterflies seen here were a couple of Large Whites. A single Meadow Pipit flew low overhead, also heading eastbound.

A bedraggled looking House Sparrow by my back garden.

When I got home, I sat in the garden and watched the local House Sparrows picking off insects within my neighbours Holly Tree. Up to five birds, 3 males and 2 females, were present and showed well in the early afternoon sunshine. A Starling came down to drink from the bird bath but quickly flew off in sighting me. A Red Admiral flew low over my back garden and a Large White butterfly flew high over heading south.

Ivy Bee - Colletes hedera - in my garden this afternoon.

A lot of Spider reports are on Facebook pages and there were plenty in my garden. A False Black Widow spider was just behind our garden seat having built a web from the fence panel to one of our garden plants. Garden spiders are everywhere throughout the garden and to top it off, a large House Spider was perched on our backdoor, which I quickly flicked off before the wife come home! I have been reading about a large species of House Spider that isn’t frightened of humans and actually comes towards them and quite aggressive too. How much of this is bullshit, I don’t know, but some of the media are only trying to sell their papers, I think.

False Black Widow.

Rush Veneer briefly in my moth box today.

Friday 19th September 2014.

Canary-shouldered Thorn.

I awoke to a very balmy morning, with last night’s rain fizzled out, but the ground was very wet. Behind the moth box, I was pleased to find another Canary-shouldered Thorn perched on the fence panel and a couple of Willow Beauties nearby. More thunderstorms are forecasted this morning, although it might miss Portsmouth altogether.

Lunar Underwing & L-album Wainscot.

Within the box, there were 3 Lunar Underwings present and near the bulb itself, underneath the lid, hiding behind a large Caddis Fly, was my first Rush Veneer of the year, although it flew off before I could grab a photo of it! Grumble! There were 26 moths of 13 species this morning. My next prediction for a year tick is Feathered Ranunculus, which are due about now. I took my photos using a Samsung PL150 camera this morning, seeing I had lost the charger to it and the replacement finally arrived from Amazon yesterday morning.

Eudonia augustea

Visible migration overhead this morning were just Meadow Pipits, although yesterday, I did have a couple of Grey Wagtails over and a calling Willowchiff in a neighbour’s garden.

Lunar Underwings come in a variety of shades, including this brown one this morning.

Yesterday, the Lesser Yellowlegs was still present on Titchfield Haven and the juvenile Red-backed Shrike was at Sandy Point. A report of 4 Redwing in Gosport yesterday was a good early record.

Lunar Underwing has finally landed.

Wednesday 17th September 2014.

Lunar Underwing.

I finally got my first Lunar Underwing this morning, within the moth box. Seeing that everyone else is now getting them in good numbers, it was only a matter of time before one popped up in my garden. 25 moths of 13 species were present, but no migrants were in the box today. In future, I have decided to only write about the moths should there be anything new, as I am struggling to find time to update my blog.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Other notable moths this morning, included a Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, a single Marbled beauty (first one for a while) and 6 L-album Wainscot; although there were 10 in my box yesterday!

Amazing news yesterday from the Isle of Wight, that a dozen Bee-eaters were still present on the island; this time off Laundry Lane, on Brading Marshes. I bet that was some sight. I have since found out that TWO pairs of Bee-eaters have successfully bred this year on the island. I hope it happens again next year. Not many rare birds being reported yet in the UK, probably due to the long period of high pressure over the UK and the temperatures reaching into the mid 70’s!

Nice passage of migrants overhead.

Monday 15th September 2014.

The Robin 'ticking' in my neighbour's tree at 7am.

With all the troubles going on in the world and bombarded at you via our TV screens, isn’t it just nice to simply get up first thing in the morning with a cup of hot coffee in your hand and just watch the sky for passing birds. I, personally, have an awful lot of things going on at present and my mind is racing, but sometimes, I get the opportunity to simply take a break and get up and check my moths and watch the birds for fifteen minutes, before the day really begins.

Lesser Yellow Underwing.

As Autumn marches on, I am hoping for something interesting within my moth box, but really, any moth I get within it is a bonus really. This morning, there were 38 moths of 19 species, which was a better haul than of late. Although there was  nothing new in the box, I still had 4 Lesser Yellow Underwings, an Old Lady, Light Emerald and a late Yellow Shell, which was at my box last night but not this morning.

Common Lizard again at Milton Common. Photo by Jim Walker.

Near the garden, a Robin was in full song somewhere in my neighbour’s garden and then it stood high and proud on top of my neighbour’s tree, silhouetted against the dawn sky, doing its ‘ticking’ call. Overhead, waves of Swallows passed by occasionally and then the familiar call of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails were heard as they flew through in small numbers. While writing this before I head off to the Office, a Grey Wagtail has flown over my house, told by its distinctive call.

My friend, Geoff Farwell, made the short trip to Farlington Marshes yesterday afternoon and on the rising tide, he clocked up 8 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Stints on the Lake, and on the reserve, 5 Whinchats, Wheatear, 10 Yellow Wagtails, Kingfisher and a Lesser Whitethroat. I still need Little Stint as a year tick, so I might grab an hour later this week on a rising tide down the reserve.

Nice variety on Farlington Marshes this morning.

Sunday 14th September 2014.

Light Emerald.

I was to meet up with John Goodall again this morning at Farlington Marshes for 7.30am but I had a check of my moth box first thing. 22 moths of 15 species recorded this morning, which included a Spectacle, Light Emerald, an Old Lady, Chinese Character and one other macro which is pending identification.

Early start on Farlington Marshes.

It was a pleasant morning on Farlington Marshes, with plenty to look at, although a bit quiet on the east side of the reserve (virtually nothing on the Deeps) with a brisk easterly blowing at times. The tide was out within Langstone Harbour and high tide isn’t till 3pm. There was a Little Stint and a Ruff present yesterday, but no sign of either this morning.

Lesser Whitethroat.

Linnets near the sea wall.

As we walked along the footpath south through the Bushes, a Lesser Whitethroat showed well in brambles by the sea wall. A lot of activity going on with passerines darting low over the bushes, but most were Linnets and Dunnocks. Before John arrived, a scan in the harbour revealed at least 100+ Black-tailed Godwit feeding in the harbour until something spooked everything and everything took flight. A Greenshank was seen on the mudflats and a further 3 more were seen as John and I walked south up to the lake.

Meadow Pipits.

The juvenile Avocet on the Lake.

The Lake was fairly quiet but the juvenile Avocet was feeding on there. I picked up a Water Rail at the far end of the lake close to the reedbed and then suddenly, two more popped out. Then a young Fox came out of the reedbed, obviously spooking the Rails. A Common Sandpiper flew low over the mudflats then circled above us and dropped onto the small pond by the Bushes near the sea wall. A Sedge Warbler was seen briefly by a small clump of reeds, but quickly disappeared. The unwelcome sight of wildfowlers passing us by the sea wall, always gets my back up. How they are allowed to shoot on a reserve is beyond me!

Our first Autumn Wigeon over the reserve.

Teal out in the harbour.

The thistles and brambles near the RA Fence behind the Lake held at least four Whinchats and a further three more birds were on the Point Field along with a female Stonechat. Our first Wigeon of the Autumn flew high overhead and then settled back on the marshes. A scan over the harbour revealed two large flocks of Wigeon with about a 100+ each in both flocks. Also, our first Pintail of the Autumn was seen on the Lake from the harbour wall. Brent Geese have now been arriving in small numbers and Andy Johnson got a decent sized flock in Chichester Harbour yesterday.

Whinchat in the Point Field.

Female Stonechat and 2 Whinchat in the Point Field.

Overhead, good numbers of Swallow, House and Sand Martin poured through in sizeable numbers, all heading eastbound into the wind. A fairly large (30+) flock of Yellow Wagtail were among the Cattle north of the Deeps, popping up now and then to resettle. A single bird flew east this morning over my house while I was checking the moths early this morning, along with a Meadow Pipit. There was no sign of any Ospreys perched out on the posts within the harbour and the only raptor seen this morning was a couple of hovering Kestrels out in the fields. A Marsh Harrier was present yesterday here.

This Speckled Wood was a little out of place in the rough grass by the Bushes area.

Not a great deal to be seen in the Bushes area on the way back, but a Speckled Wood and a Small Heath butterfly were noted on the damp grass. The stream held just a couple of Black-tailed Godwit, though Wigeon, Mallard, Teal and Gadwall were abundant, resting on or by the water. A large swarm of Starlings frequented the Bushes area and looked quite impressive as they flew over us. Must keep an eye out for a Rose-coloured Starling with these easterly winds for the next few days.

Starlings swarming over the Bushes area.

Another lifer from Hazleholt Wood.

Saturday 13th September 2014.

My first ever Oak Hook-tip at Hazleholt Wood.

I had the moth box running overnight by Hazleholt Wood again and what with Simon (my wife’s cousin) cooking us one of the hottest Chilli’s I have ever eaten, we sat outside and at our meal over a couple of nice bottles of Stella. Tawny Owls were calling in the woodland as at it neared dusk, a Pipistrelle Bat (a very small bat, anyway!) flew high over the Oaks nearby.


This time, we put a white sheet up over the garage door, hoping to attract more moths and it was successful. Before we left to go home, there were at least four Brimstone’s, 1 Old Lady and my first ever Oak Hook-tip. As it was overcast and virtually windless, I was expecting a huge fall of moths the following day.

Green Carpet.

I arrived at Simon’s at first light this morning only to discover, that the number of moths present was a lot less than I expected; but there was at least a variety. My first ever Oak Hook-tips, 4 in total, were in and around the box. Other interesting moths included a Green Carpet, 2 Mocha, 1 Canary-shouldered Thorn, 4 Snout, 1 Chinese Character, 2 Light Emerald, 2 Common Wainscot, 2 Garden Rose Tortrix, 1 Large Fruit-tree Tortrix and my first ever Rhomboid Tortrix. There were a few others that I have sent photos to Andy Johnson to ID.

Large Fruit-tree Tortrix.

I promised to meet up with John Goodall at Sandy Point at 8am and so I made my way to the south coast once more. Meeting up with John at just after 8am, he was happily watching the 1st winter Red-backed Shrike with Keith Maycock and another chap (sorry, I don’t know his name) on the south east side of the reserve. This time, my photos were somewhat better than previous of the Shrike, although I am sure Keith’s will be much better than mine, considering the photographic gear he has.

The 1st winter Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point.

The Shrike was quite active, flying to several different areas within the south east corner of the reserve, but always remained fairly distant, picking off beetles etc. from the ground. At least four Wheatears kept us entertained, perching on the wooden railing and nearby rocks on the beach along with a pair of Stonechats. Out on the gorse, at least two Common Whitethroats were seen and a large passage of Hirundines was passing through in large numbers.

And again.

A Hobby was seen briefly, flying northbound near the housing estate in the distance, upsetting the local Starlings and Pigeons! A Jay was seen on the footpath and a few Willowchiffs were dotted around. Yesterdays Lesser Yellowlegs is still present on Titchfield Haven this morning, which will no doubt attract a good number of birders onto the reserve. My friend Geoff Farwell has literally just text me to say that he is watching a couple of juvenile Goshawks over Broughton Down as I write this! There is a long period of easterly winds blowing from the Continent over the next few days, which should bring something interesting into the UK. Watch this space.

One of the four Wheatears on the beach by the reserve.

A little better than yesterday.

Friday 12th September 2014.

Riband Wave.

The promising weather conditions of last night, cloudy and mild, must of disappeared overnight as I woke up to clear skies and a cold start to the morning. I checked around the moth box last night around 10pm and was pleased to see at least 2 Small Dusty Waves, a Brimstone and a probable Old Lady fluttering around the moth box. I was hoping it would settle to make sure it wasn’t something more exciting but it flew into my neighbour’s garden.

Pale Mottled Willow.

When I checked the box this morning, only the 4 Small Dusty Waves remained, among the 22 moths present of 9 species. Better than yesterday, I suppose, but nothing new. I read on Facebook Hants Moths, that a chap in Basingstoke had 129 moths. I am taking my moth box back over Hazleholt Wood, Bishops Waltham, tonight for, hopefully, better numbers and maybe something new.

A period of easterlies are supposed to be forecast over the weekend, which might push something interesting into the UK. Apparently, a staggering count of thousands of Red-footed Falcons have arrived in Poland and are making their way east. There was even a report of one somewhere on the east coast, so keep your eyes peeled for any odd raptor. I remember that smart male bird that turned up on Chichester Gravel Pits a few autumn’s ago.

Canary-shouldered Thorn in garden.

Thursday 11th September 2014.

Canary-shouldered Thorn.

Last night, I think it was clear again, but cloud had come in from the north east early in the morning, which resulted in another low number of moths. This morning’s total included my second Canary-shouldered Thorn of the year in the garden and another Old Lady. The supporting cast included 2 Willow Beauty, 2 Bright-line Brown-eye, 4 L-album Wainscot, 1 Pale Mottled Willow, 1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and 1 Large Yellow Underwing. A single Eudonia angustia was the only macro present.

A very tatty Old Lady.

L-album Wainscot.