Some good and some bad news at Farlington Marshes.

Monday 23rd November 2015.


This superb shot of a male Kestrel on Farlington Marshes was taken by Jim Walker over the weekend.

Though I was working all day today, I got a text from Jim Walker to say he was birding down Farlington Marshes this morning. Though a very cold start to the day, it was bright sunshine most of the day and ideal conditions to grab some good photos of the birdlife down on Farlington Marshes. Near still conditions meant the Short-eared Owls were showing well, hunting in the fields, but sadly, Jim tells me that a couple of camouflage wearing photographers were doing their hardest in disturbing the Owls, just to get that perfect photo.


Another shot of the Kestrel by Jim Walker.


This Short-eared Owl was taken this morning by Jim Walker.

I, for one, will not tolerate this and I would of love to give those bloody idiots a peice of my mind if I had been there. As someone on Facebook rightly said, the poor Owls need as much energy to hunt and not be flushed by some prat who couldn’t keep still and wait for the birds to fly near them!


Another shot of the Short-eared Owl by Jim Walker.


A female Stonechat on Farlington Marshes by Jim Walker.

On a much better note, there are now FIVE Short-eared Owls present on the reserve and a real feast if one fancies going to view them. It is near dark by the time I finish work so I’ll have to wait for the weekend to come to get my chance. On my travels today, I saw a few Kestrels along the M27 and a brief view of a Grey Wagtail in Gosport. Both Jim Walker and Facebook friend, David Levy, have kindly allowed me to put some of their photos on my blog. Many thanks guys.

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Common Buzzard with a Magpie by Dave Levy.

My first winter walk in the New Forest.

Sunday 22nd November 2015.


I’m afraid that all my photos I took this morning were from my iPhone. This is Scruff on the footpath leading to Bishop’s Dyke.

I was too busy with my Granddaughter yesterday to do any birding, but I wouldn’t miss one moment with her for the world. The weekend temperatures have plummeted and this morning, it barely reached 5 degrees by midday. The cold weather has obviously signalled for the Wood Pigeons to take a move south. Five figure counts were obtained from a few hardy souls out this morning, but I could think of better things to do than count Wood Pigeons!


These small Toadstools were growing in Bishop’s Dyke.

This morning, I took my first winter walk in the New Forest, but it didn’t kick off well. I haven’t used my Bridge Camera for a while and switching it on this morning within Shatterford Car Park, I noticed that the battery was dead as a Dodo! Nevertheless, I still had my iPhone camera, but photographing any birds was going to be impossible. Luckily, there were some nice scenic shots and also some fungi to grab a few photos of.


The ice formed interesting patterns on the footpath.

Though there are so many good places to walk in the New Forest, I thought I would take a trip to one of my favourite places, Beaulieu Road. I figured that I have now been coming in over 37 years and have never had a crap trip yet. The sheer vastness of the place and apart from the odd plane flying over and the noisy dog or two, all you can hear are the birds. Bliss! Unfortunately, there was a veil of cloud over this part of the Forest but that didn’t put me off as I trudged past icy puddles with Scruff on tow. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew low over the heath heading towards trees by the railway line. The distant call of a Raven echoed over the heath and I managed to pick the bird up flying north from the woodland.


Birch Polypore fungus growing within Bishop’s Dyke.

The walk to Bishops Dyke was fairly uneventful with just a few Goldfinch flying over and a Skylark heading high west. There had been a report of a Great Grey Shrike seen at 3pm yesterday here, but it didn’t show for me today. Entering Bishops Dyke, the Ponies were gathered in a group near the small bridge and among them, a Meadow Pipit was carefully keeping out of the hooves of one particular pony. A Robin joined it also and nearby, the distinctive call of a Reed Bunting could be heard within the Silver Birches. One Reed Bunting flew over a little later. More dog walkers past me as I had to keep an eye on their respective dogs in not getting too friendly with mine. But all was well.


Fungi growing on a fallen tree stump.

The big lake just to the north of the footpath normally holds a few duck or Snipe, but not this morning. However, an unexpected Kingfisher flew low over the water and perched up somewhere nearby. A Marsh Tit called somewhere in the woodland as I negotiated the sodden footpath to Denny Wood. I did find a few interesting Toadstools and fungi but surprisingly, not as many as I was hoping for.


Ponies within Bishop’s Dyke with Denny Wood in the background.

Denny Wood was fairly quiet, save for a few Blue and Great Tits in the trees and Blackbirds scurrying about in the leaf litter. There are some fields on the edge of Denny Wood that looked good for birdlife and so we took a stroll through the woods to view them. A small group of Redwing were on the edge of the woodland within the field along with about a dozen Chaffinches. I was sure I heard a Brambling nearby, but I couldn’t find any among the finches. Also within the same field, I found at least two Mistle Thrushes, two Song Thrushes and at least 10 Meadow Pipits feeding on the short grass.

Exiting Denny Wood, to take the footpath back to Shatterford Car Park, all I saw was just one male Stonechat that was noteworthy. A quick chat with a couple of passing birders looking for the Shrike revealed that they had seen some Dartford Warblers on the opposite side of the road near the car park. Though overcast and cold, it was still a great to get out and stretch my legs with Scruff.

Ann’s Hill Cemetery in Gosport.

Monday 17th November 2015.

Yesterday morning, I was in Anns Cemetery in Gosport and whilst walking through the Cemy to the western section, there was a nice variety of birds which I found noteworthy. My friend isn’t ‘birdy’, but nevertheless, was more than happy for me to point out some birds. The early morning rain had thankfully departed but it was still fairly breezy.

A Green Woodpecker was a nice surprise and this individual, unlike the bird in Highland Road Cemetery, this bird was rather confiding and didn’t mind us watching it for a few minutes as it pecked away at something on the grass. Overhead, at least two Mistle Thrushes and a Redwing were seen, while Coal Tits and Goldcrests were calling within the stunted Yew Trees along the main central path.

Being probably twice as big as Highland Road Cemetery, in Southsea, I wouldn’t mind having another walk through here later. I do hear that it is good for Green-winged Orchids here in the Spring. This morning, Jim Walker was doing a spot of birding around Farlington Marshes and he kindly emailed over some superb photos of the Short-eared owl he found there. There has still been up to four birds present here for the past few weeks along with the Spoonbill.


Jim Walker kindly emailed over a photo of the Short-eared Owl on Farlington Marshes to me.

Jim took the photos using his new Bridge Camera; a Nikon P900 24-2000mm, of which I am so impressed with the sharpness of the photos that it knocks spots off my Lumix camera. Early Xmas present coming up? Nationally, the Eurasian Crag Martin is still present but this time roosting around Chesterfield Football Clubs ground! The regular Ring-billed Gull at Walpole Lake, Gosport, has failed to turn up yet but one is showing at Ivy Lake at Blashford Lakes currently in the evening Gull roost.


Cheers Jim.

Finally, Storm Barney is currently hitting the south coast as I write. I am afraid the UK Weatherman want to name any storm that comes our way like the Americans do with their Hurricanes. There is a big, big difference between a storm and a Hurricane guys! It really is a sad world we live in! 70mph winds are expected but that will hopefully push some exciting seabirds closer to our shores like the Little Auk seen off Selsey Bill today.

Fungi on the increase in the Cemy.

Saturday 14th November 2015.


There were quite a few Blackbirds in the Cemy this morning, including a couple that were feeding on the Yew berries.

Before the rain came in, I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery first thing this morning. However, while quickly giving the back garden a tidy up, I kept an eye out on the local birdlife. A Grey Wagtail flew over the rooftops and a couple of Goldcrests were rummaging around the gardens behind mine. A Wren scolded nearby and a Robin briefly revealed itself before disappearing within the Holly Tree.


Scruff sniffing around in the south west corner of the Cemy.

It was grey and overcast when I arrived in the Cemy with Scruff, but at least it was mild before the rain came in. Unfortunately, birdlife was rather sparse at first, though when I arrived in the north east corner where there seemed to be a lot more activity. Despite the lack of birds, one can always be optimistic as there is always something else to look at, which included some interesting fungi. The usual Horse Mushrooms were present but I did find a couple of others, which I have requested an ID for.  Wild flowers were still on show, making the most of the mild conditions which included Smooth Sow-thistle, Yarrow and a few Ox-eye Daisies that were still in flower.


Yarrow. Apparently, I have been informed that the leaves are good for medicinal purposes.

I was hoping for a few winter thrushes but all that were present were Blackbirds. I cannot complain as there were at least 10 or more in the Cemy, including several feeding on the Yew berries. There was no sight or sound of the Green Woodpecker today, but the Jay showed briefly, whilst I was packing my birding stuff away. A few Goldcrests mingled with Blue and Great Tits near the Holm Oaks and a small group of three Great Black-backed Gulls flew west over the Cemy. A male Greenfinch showed well high up in the trees. Another nest box has been erected on one of the smaller trees by the footpath. But yet again, it is so exposed to the elements that I cannot believe anything will actually use this next year!


Male Greenfinch.


A new nestbox that has been erected within the Cemy.

I read this morning that the Short-eared Owls and the Spoonbill were seen again on Farlington Marshes. A Merlin had been seen here earlier in the week, so it might be worth taking a visit again tomorrow morning. I haven’t been to Blashford Lakes this autumn and it is very tempting to do so. The Great White Egret has been seen on Rockford Lake occasionally, while on the main lake, both the Goldeneye and Goosander numbers are increasing and a Brambling has been seen regularly from the Woodland Hide. Plus, it is always good for fungi there!


A Wren popped out now and then.

A quick update.

Friday 13th November 2015


The Short-eared Owl and Kestrel on Farlington Marshes at the back end of last month.

I thought I would chuck in a quick update of what has been around this week around the UK and with one or two surprises for us birders, a Xmas present has come early for some. The beginning of the week was rather wet and windy but got much drier and colder as the week went on. I have not put my moth box on once this week though I did send my garden records off to the Hants Moth guys which finished off with 100 macro moth species exactly, for the year. If I get time, I shall try and notch up my micro moth total also.

I have been far too busy at work to get any decent birding in so I hope to grab some time over the weekend. My year list is a disappointing 190 species and the chances of me achieving 200 species for the year is looking slim. On my travels, a Grey Wagtail has showed well several times near my office and from my garden one early morning, I watched a Blackbird devouring Holly Berries in my neighbour’s tree, while several Redwing flew north overhead. Large flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches were flying over in good numbers too.


A Jay in Highland Road Cemetery.

Yesterday, Andy Johnson from the Isle of Wight, kindly text me to say that an Olive-backed Pipit had been found on the Sandy Point reserve but was very elusive. I notified a couple of friends but there was no sighting of this rarity today. I have only ever seen one Olive-backed Pipit in the UK and that was so long ago. Hopefully, it might be refound over the weekend.

Amazingly, a Eurasian Crag Martin was found earlier this week by a Church in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Only the 10th ever recorded in the UK, this was arguably the easiest one to be seen as most are normally flybys. Again, I have only ever seen one in the UK and that was again, many years ago with Geoff Farwell and Andy Fisher at Swithland Reservoir, Leicestershire; in my ‘twitching’ days.

Today, I got good views of Little Grebes and Brent Geese on the creeks around Fareham while on my travels at work today. Rain is forecasted tomorrow (bugger!), but Sunday looks much drier. On a sad note, I read on the Birdguides ‘review of the week’ that Malta attracted an Imperial Eagle and of course, fearing the worst, the bird promptly disappeared and looks as though it had been shot and killed by hunters. Well, I have put my views across on the illegal hunting that is blighting this beautiful island to my workmates and all have agreed never to visit the island.

Little Stint on the Ferry Pool.

Sunday 8th November 2015.


Overlooking the Ferry Pool from the roadside.

John Goodall and I arranged to meet up at Farlington Marsh’s car park at 7.30am this morning to go and view the long staying juvenile Little Stint on the Ferry Pool. Thankfully, all went to plan as we got reasonable views of the bird feeding along the water’s edge. The weather stayed kind to us as I trialled my new waterproof coat my wife bought me for a birthday present. Though overcast, it was very mild and best of all – no rain!


Yep, not the best photo in the world, but this is the juvenile Little Stint on the Ferry Pool. Photo taken using my iphone adaptor on my scope.

This was my first Little Stint of the year, a nice well –marked juvenile and thankfully a long staying individual which has hung around now for at least a week. There was a nice supporting cast of three Green Sandpipers at the back of the Pool and three Avocets were also present. Good numbers of Lapwing and Redshank were present but no sign of the Spotted Redshank that had been seen recently.


Shoveler on the Ferry Pool.


Redshank, Avocets and a Black-headed Gull on the Ferry Pool.

Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Mallard were feeding on the Ferry Pool plus a few Shelduck overhead. A check over the fields revealed little, so after having our fill of a new year tick, we made our way down to Church Norton. Walking back to the car, a small flock of four Redwing flew overhead.


Brent Geese in Pagham Harbour.

The tide was up within the harbour as we done a circuit around the Churchyard. We found a Chiffchaff in the brambles and flocks of Goldfinch and Meadow Pipit flew overhead. A look in the harbour revealed good numbers of both Wigeon and Brent Geese and at least three Great Crested Grebes were swimming on the water. As we walked through the graveyard, we came across a mixed flock of passerines near the entrance gate. At least three Goldcrest were seen and I caught the briefest sighting of a Firecrest which quickly flew off from the perimeter hedge and into cover near the car park.


Grey Heron on the Ferry Pool.

At least two Redwing flew overhead along with a couple of Blackbirds. I was dismayed on how muddy the car park here is now. I have never seen it so muddy before, so whoever come up with the idea of putting a layer of mud over the car park seriously needs some help! Maybe the plan is to put off people using the car park perhaps?


Brent Geese passing off Selsey Bill.

Our last stop was to be a quick look off Selsey Bill. Once there, we watched from the bench, whilst all the regular guys stood behind the wall to the east of the football pitch. Hardly anything flew through bar a few Brent Geese and a couple of Turnstone, though one adult Mediterranean Gull drifted off west over the sea. Several flocks of Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches flew over, but we didn’t stay long and so made our way back home. Before reaching the Farm Shop on the main road, I spotted a small covey of Grey Partridge in a field, which I quickly pointed out to John.

Redwings in the Cemy.

Saturday 7th November 2015.


A damp and grey afternoon today.

The awful weather this morning put paid to me travelling east to Siddlesham Ferry Pool, to view the long staying Little Stint. Unfortunately, I went shopping with the wife instead (thankfully, not food shopping!) but after a visit over a garden Centre in Havant, Becky dropped me off home so I could walk Scruff around Highland Road Cemetery.


Redwing in the trees near the Holm Oaks.

It was still overcast, but the wind had dropped as I arrived at the Cemy at 3.40pm. The gates close here at this time of the year at 4pm, so I had to get my skates on with my walk. Cutting my walk down to half the perimeter of the Cemy, I still came across a few interesting sightings. Best of all was a small flock of around 10 Redwing around the Holm Oaks. I believe it is the first time I have seen them here this season and hopefully, the Fieldfares will not be far behind. Most likely, the Redwings will probably roost here overnight.


This Jay showed well close to the footpath.

A pair of Jays showed well with one individual showing down to around 20 feet, though the light was getting poor in trying to get a decent photo. At least 8 Blackbirds were seen, again around the Holm Oaks area but apart from a few Goldfinch flying around and a lone adult Herring Gull on the grass were the only other sightings of note.


Agaric Toadstools were far and few between.

With the deluge of rain over the past week, I was expecting a lot of fungi to be around but I only found a few clumps of Agaris toadstools in the grass and leaves. I couldn’t hang around long here due to gates being shut at 4pm, so I soon headed back home. I read that the Little Stint was still at the back of the Ferry Pool this morning, so I will probably take a look at this bird early tomorrow morning.


Adult Herring Gull in the Cemy.

Raven over the garden!

Saturday 7th November 2015.


Light-brown Apple Moth.

After my Birthday celebrations yesterday, I put the moth box light on last night before I retired to bed; for you never know if something might turn up despite the squally conditions. Other ‘moth-ers’ are getting some interesting sightings, but this morning, the best I could muster was a single Light-brown Apple Moth.


The Raven flying off over the rooftops.

While checking the box, I had a surprise sighting of a Raven flying low over the rooftops, heading westbound and giving off its customary ‘cronk’ call as it sped off. This was a ‘garden tick’ for me and quickly put the sighting on the Hants Birding site. A Wren hopped along the back wall, singing occasionally and good numbers of both House Sparrow and Starling were in and around the garden.


The Raven disappearing from view. Nice garden tick.

Autumnwatch has now been and gone and though it mostly concentrated on Badgers, Red Deer and Foxes, it was nice to see them somewhere different; this time at Caerlaverock, in Dumfriesshire. I have never been to this huge reserve but maybe one day, we might take a trip. Though the programme tried to cram in as many different aspects of all nature, you cannot please everyone But lets be honest, it isn’t easy cramming in all aspects of nature in just four hours of viewing? However, I am glad to see that the NFU didn’t have their way in getting Chris Packham sacked from the BBC for simply telling the truth and I was also pleased that the show mentioned the debate going on between the Scientists and the Government over the Badger Cull.


Starling near the garden.

I am hoping to pop out birding somewhere today, despite the bloody awful weather. There is a Little Stint on the Ferry Pool at Siddlesham still and needing this for a year tick, I just might make the journey east today.

Midweek news.

Wednesday 4th November 2015.

Due to a stomach bug , I had the day off as I couldn’t take a chance in not making the loo in time! Last night, was simply a nightmare as I done my best ‘Exorcist’ impression and the rest I will simply not discuss! I thought I would put a couple of interesting photos I had taken earlier, onto my blog, of which I hope are of interest to anyone reading this.


A very late Blastobasis adustella. Thanks goes to Ian Thirlwell for the ID of this moth which was in my moth box on the 1st November.


Hare’s Ear fungus, growing in the ground of Haslar Hospital, Gosport, last week.


Goldcrests abundant in the Cemy.

Sunday 1st November 2015.


So autumnal within the Cemy now.

It was back over to Highland Road Cemetery again this afternoon with Scruff for a pleasant late autumn walk around my local patch. There is always a chance of something unusual like a Yellow-browed or Pallas’s Warbler lurking about the Chestnut trees, but I had to settle for the Goldcrests today. Yet, they are always a pleasure to see and if you linger long enough, they can offer you excellent views.


First winter Blackbird in the Yew.

It was a mild day and I was surprised to see so many flowering plants still in bloom. Those tough old weeds, Smooth Sow-thistle, were growing all over the place but the Ox-eye Daisies were starting to get a bit thin on the ground. Clumps of Herb Robert were still sporting their purple star like flowers.


Jay near the Yew Tree.

Several clumps of Toadstools were found, which were most likely to be Horse Mushrooms. Hopefully, I might get an ID on them later. Insects mostly consisted of Wasps and Flies, which still buzzed around some of the trees and gravestones, feeding on the nectar of Ivy flowers. The colours within the Cemy is quite breath-taking as the leaves go into various different colours and litter the footpath and grass beside the graves. The damp ground should encourage more Toadstools to come through, fingers crossed.


Smooth Sow-thistle.

Another bonus is that a lot of the leaves of the Chestnuts have now fallen, which makes it easier to see the birds within them. There was a small flock of Goldfinches keeping high up in the trees and the occasional Blue and Great Tit occasionally showed. At least six Goldcrests were seen though probably a lot more; the best ones seen near the Mausoleum where I stood for around 10 minutes as one individual got within a few feet from where I stood. They are such an active little bird that it is very difficult to get a decent photo of them through my Bridge Camera. It shouldn’t be long now before a Firecrest will grace my local patch?


Goldcrest looking under the leaves for an insect.

The Jays showed well as usual but there was no sign of any Woodpeckers today. A juvenile Mute Swan flew south west low over the rooftops and a female Sparrowhawk sped overhead, upsetting the local Pigeons, Doves and Gulls. Good numbers of Blackbirds were present today including a few 1st winter birds around the Yew Tree in the south west corner, feeding on the few berries within the tree.


An interesting clump of Toadstools but most likely young Horse Mushrooms.


Another Jay burying an acorn in the Cemy.


8 Spotted Ladybird?

Scruff enjoyed chasing his tennis ball I was booting ahead of him and thankfully ignoring the many Squirrels which were on the ground. Yet another enjoyable, relaxing walk and I was really surprised to see someone had erected a nest box in one of the trees there. Obviously, not a lot of thought went into it as the box was really exposed to the elements and predators! A Council job or some do-gooder? But it was well put up. nonetheless.


Probably not the best location for a nestbox, but the thought was there.