Highland Road Cemy & Petersfield Lake.

Monday 25th May 2015.

Footpath leading east through the Cemy.

I was ordered to take the dog for a walk this morning as my wife wanted to get the house clean and tidy. Without hesitation (anything to get out of housework!), Scruff had his lead on as we made our way to Highland Road Cemetery. Though overcast, it was still quite mild, with hardly any wind, when we arrived at the entrance gates. The pair of Swallows were still present around the entrance of the Cemy and high up, at least four Swifts were seen.

Herb Bennet. A new plant for me, I think. This was growing in various areas of the Cemy.

A beautiful display of Ox-eye Daisies.

Yet again, birds were at a premium and thankfully, insects and plants grabbed my attention. Up to three species of butterfly were seen this morning, which included a couple of Holly Blues, one Small White and my first Common Blue’s of the year; though none lingered long enough for me to grab a photo. A few Bee’s and odd looking insects were also seen, of which I have sent one to be ID’d on the Facebook page. I did find a Queen Wasp looking for somewhere to lay her eggs by a graveside, but even that was difficult to photo, whilst she was in flight.

One of the Chestnuts overlooking the Mausoleum.

The whole Cemetery was alive with the sound of juvenile Starlings and their parents, which were in family flocks throughout the area, especially in the clump of Holm Oaks. Several Blackbirds were present, searching for worms within the short grass. The odd Blue Tit was seen occasionally and a Wren sang for a brief while. My hat goes off, incidentally, to my friend John Goodall, who successfully twitched both the Bonaparte’s Gull (yesterday) and the Greater Yellowlegs (this morning). Well done that man.

A pair of the Egyptian Geese at Petersfield Lake.

This afternoon, I took the family for a walk around Petersfield Lake (Heath Pond to the locals). Parking was a bit of a nightmare as there was a small fairground on the north side of the lake. I was surprised to see so many Egyptian Geese here, with at least five birds present on the north shore. A lone Great Crested Grebe swam on the water and both Whitethroat and Reed Warbler were holding territories nearby. Overhead, we watched both Swifts and House Martins chase insects high up over the water; the latter were also seen building nests under the eaves of the houses on the north side.

Good moth numbers continue in the garden.

Monday 25th May 2015.

Pale Mottled Willow. A year tick.

Another relaxing Bank Holiday coming up? Fat chance! House work etc planned for the morning (I was up ironing shirts at 7am!), but I did get to check the moth box, which is going through a purple patch in numbers. I was too busy to log what I saw yesterday morning, but there were 33 moths of 23 species. New for the year was my first Pale Mottled Willow – a really common moth I get regularly in the garden from now on in.

Common Marbled Carpet.

This morning, there were 35 moths of 17 species. No ‘new for the year’, but another Least Black Arches, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, single Garden Pebble and a worn Freyer’s Pug. Yesterday was spent moving the garden plants and furniture around and generally tidying up and yes, my wife wanted me to put my moth box by the back door instead of where it normally sits. I have to keep the peace and obey her every command!

Least Black Arches.

Little Terns on Farlington Marshes this morning.

Saturday 23rd May 2015.

Reed Warbler on the Lake.

After my superb early morning check of the moth box, I decided to go birding around Farlington Marshes. Though I wore a fleece, it was generally quite mild and warm when the sun occasionally came out. Recently, three Spoonbills have been present on the reserve and a Curlew Sandpiper (one on Titchfield Haven today) had popped in one afternoon only during the week. What could I find?

How beautiful is that. This Little Egret was by the Sluice gates.

Gadwall near the Point Field.

In truth, I was hoping to find my first Little Terns of the year as quite a few had been seen in this area during the week. The tide was going out on my arrival, so my chances on the west side of the reserve proved slim, but there was always a chance on the west side of the harbour, by the islands. I was really pleased to see there have been some improvement on the reserve and therefore, my hat goes off to those guys filling up the uneven ground around the harbour wall and also this installation of a new bench to sit on. Fantastic. I hope there is more of them to come.

Great Crested Grebes flying north over the channel on the west side.

Sedge Warbler.

Walking through the Bushes area to the Lake, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler and Song Thrush were all in good voice. A Sedge Warbler was by the small gate, doing its display flight every so often. A check in the harbour revealed just a few Gull and Shelduck on the mudflats, but no sign of any Terns in the creek or by the Eastern Road Bridge.

The lone Brent Goose on the Deeps.

Female Reed Bunting by the Deeps.

The Lake was fairly quiet too, though several Reed Warblers and another Sedge Warbler were showing well. By the Sluice, a gorgeous Little Egret stood out well in the early morning light, fishing in the still water. Starlings were literally everywhere and the sound of their calling offspring could be heard all over the reserve. It looks as though they are in for a good year due to the amount of young birds present.

The new bench overlooking the reserve on the west side.

Med Gulls looking for worms in the fields.

Nearing the Point Field, a pair of Gadwall were seen rummaging about on the grass and maybe a second pair were seen in the Deeps area. Linnets were all over the place within the brambles and the occasional Meadow Pipit ‘parachuted’ close to the footpath. A pair of Skylarks were flushed by something unseen and flew off into the fields. Out in the harbour, I could hear almost immediately, the excited call of Little Terns. It didn’t take me long to pick one up, fishing over the still water near the RSPB islands along with at least ten more! Even a Common Tern joined them followed by a flock of 9 Great Crested Grebes flying north over the water! A real surprise, was when a small group of 3 Sanderling flew overhead, calling, then flew off high southbound.

Common Whitethroat.

Common Whitethroat in song near the Deeps.

The Deeps held nothing that exciting despite a good search in all the small inlets, for a small wader could be easily hidden within one of these. A sorry sight was the lone Brent Goose grazing all by itself and destined to spend the summer here, which happens quite often. While watching another Sedge Warbler singing, a female Reed Bunting flew out of cover and landed on the opposite side of the small stream, intent in picking off small insects within the grass.

Some of the many juvenile Starling present on the reserve.

Another Reed Warbler, near the Info Centre this time.

Sedge Warbler singing near the Deeps.

As I passed the Blockhouse, I came across the new bench that has been placed here looking north west over the reserve. A commemorative plaque for the late Katie Haines, just 18, who passed away recently was on the bench. Sad. But a lovely tribute for what was probably a lovely girl. RIP Katie. I for one, will be using that bench often. While sitting there, I noticed a flock of Mediterranean Gulls feeding on probably earthworms on the grass, in front of the Lake. They suddenly all took off then settled again, to feed some more, with at least 20 birds being present.

Coming up to the Info Centre, where ‘our friend’ sleeps overnight (some homeless chap who kips there every night, it seems), I heard a Bearded Tit calling in the reedbed to the north of the footpath. Sure enough, a female flew low over the footpath and landed out of view in the reedbed opposite. Another bird, a male, was seen further south and a Reed Warbler was also showing well where the reeds had been cut over the winter. A pair of Cetti’s Warblers showed well by one of the tall bushes by the footpath. On the water near the Info Centre, there was one Black-tailed Godwit feeding and a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls preening in the water. Further along the stream, at least 20 or more Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the water, but no sign of a possible Hudsonian among them! Grumble! The Bushes area was fairly quiet but a Chiffchaff showed well and I caught sight of my first Small Heath butterfly of the year.

Light Brocade – a new ‘lifer’ in my moth box this morning.

Saturday 23rd May 2015.

Light Brocade.

With warm overnight conditions and the weekend looking very good, the moth box looks set for a busy few days. If yesterday’s moth haul was good, then this mornings was better! At least 45 moths of 25 species recorded this morning and a few more yet to be ID’d.

Common Marbled Carpet.

Psychoides filicivora.

Mystery moth?

Pick of the bunch easily goes to my first ever Light Brocade, a really smart looking moth. There were year ticks of Common Marbled Carpet, White-point, White Ermine, Current & Freyer’s Pug, Ephestia parasitella and another micro finally nailed down and ID’d by John Langmaid, a Psychoides filicivora, which have been present all week by the moth box. Apparently, they feed on Ferns but I have none in my garden!

The Light Brocade and White-point.

Hobby and Lesser Whitethroat NFY on Thorney Island.

Friday 22nd May 2015.

Drinker Moth caterpillar.

I took a walk with Scruff down the west side of Thorney Island this afternoon and I was pleased to notch up another two year ticks. It was relatively mild this afternoon, with little wind and when the sun did poke through occasionally, it was pleasantly warm. The tide was up within Emsworth Harbour, so I was hoping for a few Terns to be fishing around.

Mystery Beetle.

A male Kestrel hovering near the footpath.

Almost immediately as I got out of the car, I clapped eyes on my first Hobby of the year. Several Swallows gave off their alarm call and suddenly, a superb Hobby belted past me at great speed heading towards the east side of the island. Now that was a good start to any trip here. Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats could be heard singing in the distance, as was a male Cuckoo, which I watched flying south east over the fields towards the farm buildings. I found a Drinker moth caterpillar down in the grass by the gate, which was a nice surprise.

Swallow on overhead wire along the footpath.

Med Gulls flew overhead, while Swallow numbers built up as I made my way along the footpath. A small group of four House Martins darted overhead, heading northbound. The ‘pinging’ of Bearded Tits could be heard to the south and sure enough, I spotted a male flitting about in the reedbed. The vegetation on both sides of the footpath has really grown including a nice variety of wild flowers and plants. Common Vetch was growing everywhere along the footpath along with Winter-cress, Meadow Buttercup & Forgetmenot. Large clumps of White Campion was seen along the footpath south. A male Kestrel was seen hovering over the field’s close by, but no sign of any Turtle Doves in the small Copse, despite a good search.

Forget me nots.

Sedge Warbler.

Once I reached the seawall, I kept an eye out for any Terns on show. I still have not seen a Little Tern this year, although they seem to be showing well off Farlington Marshes of late. However, both Sandwich and Common Tern were seen fishing in the harbour. The unusual sight of a pair of Mallard with six young offspring on the water took me by surprise, but the female soon led them up the sea wall then down to the Little Deeps for safety.

Mallard ducklings climbing the sea wall.

This brood were on the Great Deeps.

The reedbed by the Little Deeps held good numbers of both Reed and Sedge Warbler. Reed Buntings were seen singing, while overhead, the solid sound of Skylark could be heard as I watched a bird high up in the sky. A few Little Grebes and Tufted Ducks swam on the calm water, but nothing else of note. The Great Deeps was fairly quiet too, though a pair of Great Crested Grebes swam on the water and on the water’s edge, a flock of around a dozen Oystercatchers were resting. A few Redshank were nearby and in some brambles, there was a singing male Lesser Whitethroat, my first of the year. It took a while, but eventually, I saw the little mite on top of the brambles. A second bird was heard singing somewhere south of the gate.

Singing male Common Whitethroat.

Record photo of the singing male Lesser Whitethroat.

On the way back, I encountered a second Mallard brood, swimming on the water on the Great Deeps. All the usual birds were seen again on the way back, but a Cetti’s Warbler showed well briefly. I didn’t see one butterfly this afternoon, which was unusual here; however, I did find a micro moth – Notocelia cynosbatella, flitting about in a bramble. That was unexpected! A female Stonechat was seen on the wires just south of the Little Deeps along with numerous Linnets on show.

Female Stonechat on the wires.

A male Linnet by the footpath.

Scruff flushed a juvenile Starling from the edge of the footpath, but the bird flew up to safety into a bramble. I don’t even think he saw it, to be honest. It was a good afternoon for finding young birds, as I found my first young Coot being fed by its parent by the edge of the Little Deeps. Several more Common Whitethroats were seen along the walk back to the car and a Chiffchaff was heard calling somewhere in the Copse. A Goldcrest was also heard singing in the tall Pine by the Water works. A very pleasant afternoon’s walk. Now to bath the dog, seeing he rolled in something! Grrrr!

Young Coot being fed by its parent on the Little Deeps.

The juvenile Starling.

Best haul of moths this year in the garden.

Friday 22nd May 2015

Swift over my house.

This one was in my neighbours box.

Not easy to photo with the Bridge camera, but I was pleased with this shot.

Well, it was the best mornings haul of moths for the year so far for me this morning. Dave Owens prediction of a warm evening came true when I noticed last night, the amount of moths already by the moth box at 11pm with my first Heart & Dart of the year and a super little micro moth – Phyllonorycter leucographella – measuring only 2mm long!

Phyllonorycter leucographella. Sorry its not a sharp photo, but I took this using my iphone and being very small, it still shows the unique markings on such a small moth.

Orange Footman.

Earlier in the evening, I noticed the Swifts were back in my nest box under the eave of my house and also occupying the nest box on the opposite side of the house as well (see photos). I am going to see if my neighbours are willing to have a box under their eaves. We have at least 18 Swifts over my area of Southsea at present. It was great watching one of them skim low over my head to check if it was clear to fly into the nest box.

Heart & Dart. Another year tick.

Willow Beauty.

This morning, it took me at least half an hour to count and record the moths this morning as I notched up 27 moths of 19 species. ‘New for the year’ included Willow Beauty, Heart & Dart, a superb Orange Footman and micro moths Agonopterix arenella, Ephestia unicolorella and Notocelia cynobatella.

Diamond-backed Moth with a Notocelia cynosbatella.

Ephestia unicolorella

A lot more moths than yesterday!

Thursday 21 May 2015.

Garden Pebble.

A much better haul of moths this morning compared to yesterday’s dismal number of just two moths. A ‘mind-blowing’ 10 moths were present, though nothing new for the year. There were two Angle Shades (always a nice moth to have), my second Garden Pebble of the year and a fresh Brown House Moth among the 6 species present.

Brown House Moth.

On the birding scene, I am sure the Swifts are using my nest box again, for the second year running. I was observing one flying up into the box at dusk last night. I shall get a better look tonight, if all goes well. Hampshire’s star birds are still present and correct: the Greater Yellowlegs on Titchfield Haven and the Bonaparte’s Gull in Chessel Bay, Southampton. My ‘summer cold’ shows no sign of abating (4th week now!) and now I have got nose bleeds to go along with it! But, hey ho, I’ll fight on!

Angle Shades.

A splash of colour in Highland Road Cemetery.

Tuesday 19th May 2015.

Not the easiest species to photograph in flight with a Bridge camera. This Swallow was one of two flying around the Cemy this morning.

A female Blackbird searching for food in the cut grass.

An interesting early morning’s walk over Highland Road Cemetery today proved more interesting than most trips here; even though there was hardly any birds of note I could write about. The Council are normally cutting the grass here on Mondays and Tuesdays and today was no exception as they finished off the north-east corner and tidied up after themselves. There was also a burial planned for either today or tomorrow, which is quite rare in this Cemetery.

A rare sight of a burial taking place sometime soon.

Birdsfoot Trefoil.

As the grass is cut, this leaves the graves supporting various grasses and wild flowers growing on them, which really caught my eye. In turn, these wild flowers attract insects which in turn, attract birds – so everyone’s a winner! Including me who admires this superb little oasis of a place. However, there is a dark side. I believe that last year, the Council then went along to spray the graves with weedkiller and therefore the graves were all turned in to brown dead plants, which looked so unattractive and, of course, non-beneficial to the local insects. Maybe a chat to the Council might suffice in leaving the graves alone?

How attractive is that. Forget your boring roses, these Ox-eye Daisies and Creeping Buttercup look much more attractive.

Birds were in short supply, though good numbers of feeding Starlings were making the most of the short grass as they flew overhead in small flocks. The usual Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons were abundant as expected, but the most unusual sighting was of a pair of Swallows flying all around the north side of the Cemy. I first noticed them flying around the old building by the entrance. There is a great big hole in the roof and Feral Pigeons are nesting in there. Are they potentially going to nest here or just passing through?

Cut-leaved Cranesbill.

This Soft Brome grass was growing on many of the graves.

The only butterflies I saw in the Cemy were Holly Blues. At last three were seen on Holly in the centre of the Cemy and showed very well (see photos) and in the same Holly bush, a Light-brown Apple Moth was flying around and also quickly settled on the Ivy as did a Hoverfly species – Epistrophe eligans – which was a little difficult to photo as it didn’t settle very often. Nearby, upon the Ox-eye Daisies, I found a larger Hoverfly species – Merodon equestris.

Holly Blue.

And again.

With the array of attractive garden plants on show at the Chelsea Flower show at present, just take a closer look at the array of colours within Highland Road Cemetery. Common Speedwell (blue), Scarlet Pimpernel (red), Birdsfoot Trefoil (yellow), Common Vetch (purple), Ivy-leaved Toadflax (a mixture of colours) and Cut-leaved Cranesbill (purple). Creeping Buttercup (yellow) and Ox-eye Daisy (white and yellow) all growing abundantly within this wonderful place.

Epistrophe eligans.

Merodon equestris.

This morning’s moth box held just three moths this morning! The cold, windy conditions overnight obviously didn’t bode well for this morning with just a Lime-speck Pug, Shuttle-shaped Dart and a Light-brown Apple Moth. It could only get better!

Harlequin ladybird. My first of the year.

Diamond-backed Moths back in the garden.

Monday 18th May 2015.

Diamond-backed Moth.

I didn’t expect many moths this morning as a wet weather front was to reach southern England around 6am. However, I tried my luck, but notched up just 7 moths of 4 species. On the plus side, my first Diamond-backed Moths of the year were present by the moth box last night and after capturing one and putting it one of my glass containers overnight, I managed a half decent photo of it this morning, before I released it. These migrant moths from the Continent are always a pleasure to see and in some years, they can be very numerous. This morning’s total were as follows:

  • 2 Diamond-backed Moth (NFY)
  • 2 Vines’s Rustic
  • 1 Least Black Arches
  • 2 Light-brown Apple Moth

A new ‘mothing’ destination – Bishops Waltham.

Sunday 17th May 2015.

Poplar Hawk-moth.

After losing a superb ‘mothing’ site of Hazleholt Wood after my wife’s cousin, Simon, left his job there, I was kind of stumped in having somewhere to take my moth box near any woods. Then I remembered my Office secretary, Trudi, who lived on the outskirts of Bishops Waltham. Her house is surrounded by trees and bushes and lots of fields as well and she and her husband have kindly offered me to use their premises anytime I wish to use my moth trap there.

Ingrailed Clay

White Ermine.

Flame Shoulder.

I took them up on this yesterday evening as I drove all the way over there to put my box around the back of their house. However, I wasn’t counting of the overnight temperatures to reach nearly freezing, for when I arrived at just after 6am this morning, the car temperature said that it was only 3 degree’s above freezing! Therefore, my moth haul was only 14 moths of just seven species, but among them were quite a few ‘new for the year’. There was also one Cockchafer beetle and an Ichneumon Wasp within the box.

Ichneumon Wasp.

Seeing it was so early, I didn’t expect both Trudi and Paul (her husband) to come out to look at the moths too as they were surprised on how big the Poplar Hawk Moth was. Trudi made me a cup of coffee as I chatted to Paul about what to expect here and while we were talking, a Firecrest was singing somewhere in the trees behind us. I did have a few micro moths which I have asked to be ID’d on the Hants Moths Facebook page.

This morning’s total are as follows:

  • 2 Common Pug (NFY)
  • 1 Poplar Hawk Moth (NFY)
  • 1 White Ermine (NFY)
  • 3 Shuttle-shaped Dart
  • 2 Ingrailed Clay (NFY)
  • 1 Flame Shoulder (NFY)
  • 1 Least Black Arches
  • 2 Prays ruficeps
Stop press: John Langmaid kindly identified some micro moths for me. Prays ruficeps were two of the moths that were present in my moth box this morning.
Prays ruficeps. A new species for me.