Two new ‘lifers’ by the box this morning.

Thursday 25th August 2016.


Iron Prominent – my first ever.


And settled.

I knew there was something special lurking among the large haul of moths this morning. The overnight temperature was in the 20 degrees and the predicted overnight thunderstorms never materialised. It was a still, windless start to the day with patchy high cloud. A Whimbrel was first heard then seen flying high overhead heading towards Portsmouth Harbour and shortly afterwards, I heard the distinctive call of a Green Sandpiper!


Wax Moth – my second lifer of the day.


Scythropia crataegella.

My largest haul of the year contained 113 moths of 46 species were present, which included my first ever Iron Prominent and Wax Moth. I have always dreamed of seeing an Iron Prominent and what a cracking moth too. Even the Wax Moth was unexpected and to be honest, I did think it was a worn Dark Sword Grass, but the lads on Facebook Hants Moths put me right.


My second Palpita vitrealis of the year.

Other good moths included my first Maiden’s Blush of the year, Light Emerald, Spectacle, Marbled Green, Flame Shoulder and my second Scythropia crataegella of the year. Also, I was blessed with my second Palpita vitrealis of the year or as a Finnish reader on my blog said, they call it in Finland ‘Fairy Koisa’ because of the hue on the wings.


Maiden’s Blush and Spectacle.

Moth update.

Wednesday 24th August 2016.


Large Fruit-tree Tortrix – new for the year.

It was easily the hottest day of the year today and working in the heat really took its toll on me today. I have not sweated this much in a very long time! As I write, the thunderstorms are coming in over the south coast and the occasional rumble of thunder can now be heard – for it is still very warm out there.


Six-striped Rustic.

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And probably a second one.

Last night, as expected, I watched a good many moths come in to the trap and I got busy in potting as many of the unusual ones as possible, for this time, I was to take them over to John Langmaids house to be properly identified tonight! Thankfully, he confirmed a macro for me – my first Six-striped Rustic of the year. He also ID’d Psychoides filicivora for me, a species I have had a few times this year and indeed a very tiny moth. This morning, there were exactly 100 moths counted of 36 species.


Cypress Pug.

Because the Surfbirds website was down for the past four days (a hacker buggered the system up according to the owner), I am playing catch up on some of the moths I have seen over the past week. My second Herald and Marbled Green of the year was present yesterday. White-point, Rusty-dot Pearl, Rush Veneer and Silver Y are migrating through and my first Eudonia pallida was present yesterday. I did have another interesting moth but flew off before I could pot it, although it was most probably a Six-striped Rustic.


Eudonia pallida. My first of the year.

Another warm night beckons and along with thunderstorms, it could be another good night for moths. My Basingstoke friend, Dave Levy, was blessed with several Vestals; a species I have yet to see in my garden.

Osprey and Whinchat over Thorney Island.

Sunday 21st August 2016.


My first Osprey of the Autumn and also my first of the year.

Finally got to do some serious birding today and what better place than Thorney Island. I took Scruff along with me and he rewarded me by rolling in a pile of Fox crap! Though it was blustery, it was still quite bright and though I took my fleece for a precaution, I walked down the west harbour wall in my t-shirt (plus trousers etc!), for it was still quite mild. The tide was out within Emsworth Harbour but at least there were a few waders seen.


Starlings on wires near the footpath.


Flowering Teazel attracting plenty of bees.

I picked up two new year ticks today with a superb Osprey flying high over the Great Deeps and also a pair of Whinchats on the main footpath near the Little Deeps. Thankfully, both gave me photo opportunities, though the Osprey was a little distant. Several Whitethroats were seen darting about over the footpath; flying from bramble to bramble.


Smoke from the School fire over in Selsey could be seen even from Thorney Island.


Redshank in Emsworth Harbour at low tide.

On the Great Deeps, a lone Common Tern was fishing over the water and a Common Sandpiper was seen briefly on the waters edge. Swallows and House Martins hawked insects overhead, while out in the harbour, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were feeding on the low tide. Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Goldfinch were seen on the main footpath and on the Little Deeps, there was a small gathering of Tufted Duck and a solitary Little Grebe.


Female Tufted Duck having a bathe on the Little Deeps.


Oystercatcher feeding in the harbour.


Record shot of my first Common Sandpiper of the Autumn.

On the way back to the car, I spotted a large flock of Starlings swirling over the fields due to a passing young Hobby dashing overhead and then heading north. There was a good variety of flowers on show which included Greater Knapweed, Oxford Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Great Willowherb and Fleabane. This attracted a lot of bees and insects and my first Lesser Marsh Grasshopper of the year were seen. I even found a Rush Veneer moth perched on a leaf near the main gate, which was unexpected. A Bloody-nosed Beetle stood out well on some plants near the main gate.


Bloody-nosed Beetle.


Common Whitethroat.


My first Whinchats of the year.

As I was walking back north to the Little Deeps, I spotted some small birds on the ground in front of me and they turned out to be a pair of Whinchats; my first of the year. One of the birds perched on a fence post and gave good views. I then noticed four elderly birders staring at something out over the fields and then I spotted it – my first Osprey of the year. Sadly, it was flying over the Great Deeps, a place where I stood only 15 minutes before, so all my photos of the bird were distant ones. The bird circled over the Great Deeps for around 10 minutes until it flew off west over the harbour. Another Osprey flew over Pagham Harbour this morning, which could possibly be the same bird?


Linnet and Goldfinch on the main footpath.


One gorgeous Whinchat.

An interesting episode this week is when I put a photo of a July Highflyer on one of the Facebook sites and a ‘so called expert’ dismissed it as a Yellow-barred Brindle. Not convinced, I sent the same photo to John Langmaid who quickly agreed with my assumption. Just goes to show that the experts can even get it wrong and it is always worth getting a second opinion. I never had the moth box open last night due to the strong winds, but over the last few days, I have added Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Archips podana and Eudonia alpina to my year list. I finally managed to do a spreadsheet of my micro moths for the year and with the micro moths combined, I am on 187 species for the year in my garden. Will I get to 200?


July Highflyer.

Despite the rain, a bumper haul of moths.

Thursday 18th August 2016.


Palpita vitrealis.

After an evening of rain, the moths certainly poured into my garden overnight and gave me some nice year ticks into the bargain. Over 80 moths of 33 species were present and included the following migrant moths : one Palpita vitrealis, 3 Silver Y, 9 Rusty-dot Pearl and one Rush Veneer.


July Highflyer.

My first Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing of the year was present (janthe, to keep it short!), though I didn’t fancy trying to see if it was a Langmaids due to the early morning rain coming down. I quickly potted the Palpita and also a July Highflyer. Other interesting moths included a Spectacle, an August Thorn which I rescued from taking all the cobweb off it; my second Flame Shoulder of the year and a pristine Tree-lichen Beauty.


Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Micro moths included a couple of Carcina quercana and another Mother-of-Pearl. Heavy rain is forecasted overnight and most of the day tomorrow, so I am reluctant to put the box out tonight. Though the box does stay dry, its getting soaked in the morning I don’t fancy too much!

Grasshoppers in the Cemy.

Sunday 14th August 2016.


A warm day today.

Another walk around Highland Road Cemetery produced the usual fare, but it was warm and sunny again and so made the trip all the more pleasant. The local Sparrowhawks were noisy again, though this time, the female bird came in to inspect her offspring and gave me a good photo opportunity also. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any passing migrants although it shouldn’t be long now before something notable might just turn up.


Meadow Grasshopper.


Female Sparrowhawk.


Red Admiral butterfly.

Though birds can be at a premium at this time of year, we can always fall back on the insects. The first Meadow Grasshoppers were on show today, with at least two seen and heard. Butterflies showing today included both Large & Small White, Red Admiral and at least two Common Blues. Just the one Hornet Hoverfly was seen today among the many Bumble bees on the Buddleia.


Hornet Hoverfly.

A thorny time for Specs!

Sunday 14th August 2016.


Spectacle of the possible European race.

Another year tick’ this morning by the moth box, with a Dusky Thorn present. Both species, one has to be careful to eliminate similar looking species, but whilst writing this, I have them currently potted for further inspection to rule out August Thorn and Dark Spectacle respectably. However, I have been reliably informed that the Spectacle is indeed a Spectacle, although my friend John Langdown, believes that this individual could be of the European variety which are darker than the UK species. Unfortunately, I released it, having been convinced it was a Dark Spectacle. Just goes to show that sometimes one can be wrong!


Dusky Thorn.

As promised, the warm weather continues with the beginning of next week set to become the hottest few days of the year and culminate into a big thunderstorm by Wednesday. That should bring in some interesting moths or possibly birds? We shall see.


Canary-shouldered Thorn.

Other notable moths among the 51 moths present of 24 species were 14 Garden Tigers (although one succumbed to a large spider on the fence panel), a Canary-shouldered Thorn, 2 Angle Shades and a Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. Migrants included 2 Rusty-dot Pearls and one Diamond-back Moth.


Surrounded by Tigers!

Returning Ospreys are starting to appear with one at Lower Test Marshes. As well as the Aquatic Warbler seen only in the traps at Titchfield Haven, the reserve also held a juvenile Arctic Tern and also a flyby Turtle Dove – a species I have not seen this year and getting incredibly rare now.

Golden Twin-spot on life list.

Saturday 13th August 2016.


My first Golden Twin-spot.

It has been a very interesting couple of days regarding the moths in my house. On Wednesday evening, I caught a Bloxworth Snout and potted it. After placing it on my kitchen window sill, incredibly, the moth had disappeared the following morning only to be refound fluttering about the kitchen this morning! Have I got the Houdini of the moths?


Bloxworth Snout having been recaught!

To top this, I found my first ever Golden Twin-spot resting by the light early this morning. This immigrant moth is uncommon in Hampshire and a very attractive moth too. Also present this morning was my first Canary-shouldered Thorn of the year and my second Marbled Green of the year. Up to 13 Garden Tigers were present, my highest total of the year so far of this species. I do hope a Jersey Tiger will turn up soon. I am on 92 macro species for the year, creeping well up to the magic 100 species; although this is around average for most gardens! There is another heat-wave expected over the next few days, which should bring in even more unusual species to the UK. Recently, a new moth for the UK, a Herb Emerald, was found in Suffolk!


Canary-shouldered Thorn. New for the year.

Over 60 moths were present this morning of 29 species. Yesterday, while at Portchester Crematorium; I pointed out a Vapourer moth to one of my work colleagues and also a flock of 7 Common Buzzards spiralling overhead plus a female Sparrowhawk. Another female Sparrowhawk was seen soaring high over my house later in the evening. Amazingly, although not surprisingly, a juvenile Aquatic Warbler was trapped and ringed at Titchfield Haven this morning. Yesterday, up to two Roseate Terns were seen at the same site.


My first Rush Veneer of the year in my garden.

Herald the end of Summer?

Thursday 11th August 2016.


The Herald moth this morning.

I put the moth box for the first time in a few days last night and was rewarded with my first Herald moth for the year. This attractive moth is not a common species here in Southsea and luckily for me, I seem to see one annually here. It was fairly mild overnight and I was pleased to get a reasonable haul of moths.


Vapourer Moth caterpillar within Portchester Crematorium.

Up to 5 Garden Tigers were present, along with 3 Brimstone moths, a single Yellow-barred Brindle, 2 Square-spot Rustics and a Rusty-dot Pearl. There were nothing new among the micros but 46 moths of 24 species was much better than of late.


Rush Veneer in Fareham.

While working today, I came across my first Rush Veneer of the year, which was oddly perched on a car tyre! I also found several Vapourer moth caterpillars within the grounds of Portchester Crematorium (see photo). Several Common Buzzards were seen soaring in the bright sunshine today, whilst driving around the area.


Rusty-dot Pearl.

My friend Geoff Farwell had a Straw Underwing by this MV light last night; a species I do not believe I have seen in my garden. John Langmaid kindly identified some micro moths for me which I found in my moth box on the 6th of this month. One of them was a brand new micro moth for me and my garden, Roeslerstammia erxlebella.


Roeslerstammia erxlebella, a first for me.


A new Fly species seen in the Cemy.

Wednesday 10th August 2016.


Cluster Fly.

The warm weather continued today and when I got home from work, I took Scruff out for a nice walk around Highland Road Cemetery. The sun was still shining and it was still relatively warm at 5pm with next to no wind. The sound of the young Sparrowhawks could still be heard within the Holm Oak clump of which I saw possibly all three birds this afternoon.


Juvenile and adult Goldfinch.

There is always a chance of something unusual lurking about within the Cemy as migration is now in full swing for returning migrants. I checked all the gravestones for any possible Flycatcher or Redstart but I am afraid I drew a blank. A couple of Goldfinches flew over and landed in the dead tree to the east of the Cemy, an adult and a juvenile. A lone Greenfinch flew high over eastbound, while up to three Swifts and a Swallow buzzed overhead.


One of the young Sparrowhawks at the top of one of the trees.

I didn’t find many butterflies today on the Buddleia, with just a single Red Admiral and a Large White being seen during my trip. Even the Hornet Hoverflies have disappeared? There were a few smaller hoverflies around but difficult to photograph them on the wing. I did find a species of Fly called Pollenia, or its common name of Cluster Fly. I do not think I have ever seen one and certainly looked very different from all the other flies I have seen. A Spitfire buzzed overhead, first heading west over Southsea then when I arrived back home, it was seen to fly back east. Always a pleasure to see a bit of history.

This gorgeous Spitfire flew over Southsea.


On its return flight.

My mate Geoff Farwell had a Knot Grass last night by his MV light plus a Spectacle and 3 fresh Square-spot Rustics.

A lovely day in the New Forest and back to the Cemy.

Sunday 7th August 2016.


Painted Lady butterfly at the New Forest Wildlife Park.

It has been somewhat a busy weekend and I finally got the chance to catch up on my notes for yesterdays and today sightings. Having had to get up at some unearthly hour this morning to drive to Brighton Hospital to pick up my step-daughter didn’t bode to well, but at least she is OK. Scary stuff for both her mother and myself, but she is in one piece!


A Carrion Crow exploring the grass within the Cemy.


Maiden-hair Fern growing on the south wall of the Cemy.

Yesterday, we had the absolute pleasure of having our grand-daughter with us and we took her to the New Forest Wildlife Park, just on the outskirts of the New Forest. It was a glorious summers day with very warm sunshine and a near clear blue sky. We only had to pay for ourselves as Isabelle was free to get in, though we did have a spot of lunch within the Park. Most of the animals and birds were on show and there even was a Butterfly house!


Red Admiral within the Cemy. Good numbers were in here today.

The great thing about places like this, is that there is plenty of other wildlife habiting the area and I found a few nice creatures of note. Both ‘new for the year’ were Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Silver-washed Fritiliary. I believe another first was a Painted Lady feeding on the Buddleia with numerous Red Admirals. I have to thoroughly recommend visiting the place for it is certainly good to take your children and educate them to protect our native wildlife before it dies out.


One of the two juvenile Sparrowhawks within the Cemy this afternoon.

Scruff hadn’t had a walk for some time and feeling incredibly guilty, I decided to take him for a a walk as soon as I got back from the Hospital. Highland Road Cemetery was on the cards and so grabbing my camera, off we went to spend an hour over there. Throughout our walk, the sound of the young Sparrowhawks calling was heard and one showed very well perched out in the open on the edge of the Holm Oak clump. At least two birds were seen calling though the other bird remained hidden in the tree tops.


Common Blue butterfly.

The Green Woodpecker was heard again but remained elusive today. I kept a sharp eye out for anything interesting perched on the gravestones as the Flycatchers and Wheatears are returning now; but no joy today. Plenty of Collared Doves and Magpies as poor substitutes though! A Goldfinch was seen briefly flying over the trees and a solitary Swift flew high overhead.


Hornet Hoverfly on Buddleia within the Cemy.


Dead Head Hoverfly.

Other interesting sightings involved a Vixen walking across the graves in the south-east corner of the Cemy but was too quick for me to grab a photo as she disappeared into thick vegetation there. I did spot a Squirrel, one of many today, running along the ground near the Holm Oak clump, sporting a Brown tail! It looked very odd indeed (see photo). Insects were notable today too, with good numbers of butterflies seen which included Red Admiral (the most numerous), Large White, Peacock and a couple of Common Blues. All were making the most of the many clumps of Buddleia growing within the Cemy as did the Bees and especially the Hornet Hoverflies, where I counted at least 20+ within the Cemy this afternoon!


There were numerous Buddleia bushes growing throughout the Cemy.


This Grey Squirrel sporting a very brown tail.

I had planned to go to Farlington Marshes and meet up with John Goodall this morning, but due to my step-daughter being in Hospital, I had to scupper those plans. We shall plan another trip John? Waders are pouring in now and there has been a few notable ones on the south coast including Wood and Green Sandpiper.


Peacock and Red Admiral Butterfly within the Cemy.