Old Lady by the moth box this morning.

Monday 1st September 2014.

Dawn over Southsea.

A nice selection of moths this morning to kick off September with, which included my first Old Lady of the year. I read that if you put rotting fruit out near the moth box, this will encourage larger moths to feed on the fruit. I was in luck this morning as I found an Old Lady perched on our Acer next the box. Also, a total of 19 Large Yellow Underwings were present too!

Old Lady.

Among the 56 moths of 20 species were a single Diamond-backed Moth, my second Toadflax Pug of the year and a single Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. Visible migration overhead this morning included singles of Yellow Wagtail and Meadow Pipit, both heading west.

Some of the Large Yellow Underwings in my moth box.

Yesterday, John Goodall was on Farlington Marshes early and picked up a Curlew Sandpiper on the Stream area. Later, Geoff Farwell recorded an Osprey, 3 Common Buzzards, 10 Wheatears, Whinchat, 20+ Yellow Wagtails, Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Blackcaps at the same reserve. Jim Walker kindly emailed some photos of the Pied Flycatcher at Titchfield Haven yesterday. Many thanks Jim.

Pied Flycatcher at Titchfield Haven yesterday. Photo by Jim Walker.

And again.

Mystery micro moth in the box.

Sunday 31st August 2014.

A well worn Cydia splendana.

A bright sunny morning, but I woke up with a nice hangover! Apologising to John Goodall very, very early this morning via text, I cancelled our sea watch from Southsea beach and went back to a deep sleep. Up at 8am, with a pounding head, I made my way to the back garden to check out the moth box.


And again.

An impressive 47 moths of 20 species were present this morning, possibly due to the warmer temperatures overnight. Rumour has it that September is going to be a very warm month, so it will be interesting what moths might be coming into the UK. Pick of the bunch this morning were 6 Large Yellow Underwings, 13 Vine’s Rustic and another Yellow Shell. I did have a mystery micro moth species, which I have put a photo on Hants Moths Facebook page for an identity. Feedback from the Facebook site suggests it is a very worn Cydia splendana.

Large Yellow Underwing.

While checking the moths, a Yellow Wagtail flew over calling, heading westbound. A small flock of Swallows were also heading west and a House Martin was heard but not seen.

In Hampshire yesterday, both Curlew Sandpiper and a Ruff were on Farlington Marshes and a Manx Shearwater was off Weston, Southampton; all three species would be year ticks for me and the latter, a Hampshire tick! Wrynecks are coming through now, with two more reported at Old Basing. I hope I bump into one soon.

Ospreys on Thorney Island again.

Saturday 30th August 2014.

One of the Ospreys on Thorney Island.

John Goodall and I took a stroll down the east side of Thorney Island this morning, meeting John at the end of Thornham Lane. An early shower soon cleared as we quickly found the Ospreys flying up and down the Great Deeps and performing well until they flew off towards Emsworth Harbour to the west. It was a good morning for birds with quite a few interesting sightings that kept us entertained throughout our two hour walk. A new sign has been erected by the houses at the end of the Lane telling everyone that only residents can park here, but we parked just a little back from the houses.


The birds remained distant as they hunted over the Great Deeps.

Soon after the Ospreys disappeared, we made our way up to the harbour wall, enjoying sightings of Common Whitethroats in the brambles and Yellow Wagtails passing overhead, giving off their distinctive call. It felt good for a Red-backed Shrike to be present here today, but no diamonds. A Wheatear was by the harbour wall, perching on the rocks below until flying off north. Swallows and Sand Martins flew through overhead in small numbers, but larger numbers came through to feed over the fields as the morning progressed. A Greenshank was flushed near the harbour wall as it flew off south towards the Great Deeps.

Sandwich Tern flying over Chichester Harbour.

Though it was low tide within Chichester Harbour, there was still plenty to see. A pair of Common Sandpipers flew over the creek near the Great Deeps, heading north. Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Grey Plover, Lapwing and Curlew could be seen on the mudflats, and over the creeks and channel, both Common and Sandwich Tern were fishing. I could hear a Whimbrel calling somewhere in the harbour, then, eventually, I spotted three birds flying south, which I quickly pointed out to John.

Black-tailed Godwit on the mudflats.

As we walked south, more Common Whitethroats were seen as well as a sprinkling of Blackcaps. We couldn’t find any Whinchats within the fields but several Skylarks were seen. As we stopped by the Great Deeps, we noticed there was no further sign of the Ospreys. However, John picked up a couple of Common Buzzards perched on posts behind the brambles. A couple of Kestrels were seen hunting over the fields and a Kingfisher briefly showed as it flew upstream along the adjacent creek by the harbour wall.

Female Blackcap slightly obscured by a leaf near Thornham Lane.

We walked several hundred yards south of the perimeter fence, until we decided to head our way back to the car. I flushed a small yellow moth which turned out to be a Yellow Shell. Butterflies were at a premium with only a single Meadow Brown and a Large White seen all morning. Standing by the Great Deeps once again, we picked up a Green Sandpiper flying away from us, until it settled in deep vegetation on the side of the Deeps.

Juvenile Swallow on wires above the road.

Back at the car, we had a long chat whilst watching some warblers (female Blackcap & Common Whitethroats) in a bramble in the neighbouring field. Swallows were congregating on the wires by the side of the road, as strong reminder that Autumn is truly here. Great stuff.

More Swallows came down to rest on the wires.

In the moth box this morning, there were 43 moths of 16 species. Most notable were a single Yellow Shell, 15 Vine’s Rustic, Angle Shades, 2 Silver Y and a single Diamond-backed Moth.

The diminutive Diamond-backed Moth.

Second Small Square-spot of the year this morning.

Friday 29th August 2014.

Small Square-spot.

The showery conditions are still persisting of late and therefore I was hoping for some more migrant moths to come through. Another fair selection this morning which included a couple of pristine Yellow Shells, my second Small Square-spot of the year (thanks for the ID, Andy) and a Garden Pebble, which flew off just before I could photograph it. I have also added a photo of yesterday’s Small Ranunculus again, taken from my iphone.

Small Ranunculus.

On the birding scene, a Wryneck was seen briefly on Farlington Marshes in the morning yesterday and another was seen at Selsey Bill. Ospreys are now haunting the south coast, with one seen yesterday in Langstone Harbour and another today at Titchfield Haven. I still need another 11 species for the year to take me up to 200. I hope to build on that total over the weekend.

Yellow Shell.

After work, I rushed over to Thorney Island late afternoon to view the reported (Birdguides) Ospreys that were on the Great Deeps. Arriving around 3pm, I spotted two Ospreys (3 were reported earlier today) on the posts on the east side of Thorney Road, showing well. Although both distant, as I viewed from the gate on Thorney Road opposite Gables Farm, the nearest bird popped down to the ground from the fence post.

I thoroughly checked the area for the third bird, but there was no sign, although it could of been hidden behind the reedbed. A pair of Kestrels were the only other notable sighting, although I was using my wife’s cheap binoculars, which are not the best in the world! Still, they were useful enough for me to grab my 190th species for the year.

The Great Deeps on Thorney Island. Photo taken using my iphone.

Three year ticks today in the moth box.

Thursday 28th August 2014.

Small Ranunculus.

A nice variety of moths within the moth box this morning, despite a lot of overnight rain, which included two year ticks and a new moth for the garden. I was reading a report on the Migrant Lepidoptera Facebook site, regarding the possibility of more migrant moths coming in from the continent, due to a ridge of high pressure pushing northwards towards the UK. The possibility of getting more unusual moths in the UK looks good.

Cypress Pug.

This morning, I had my first Cypress Pug and Small Ranunculus of the year; the latter being a Red Data Book species of moth and very local in Hampshire, with small numbers recorded each year. I posted a photo on the Hants Moths Facebook page and sent a photo to Andy Johnson to be doubly sure my ID was correct. I am confident it is one, which would mean that this would be my second for the garden.

Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix.

Another first for the garden was a micro moth. A Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix was present within the box, which was only the second one I have ever seen after one I had over Simon’s house by Hazleholt Wood. There were 29 moths present of 17 species today.

A small flock of three Goldfinches were in the garden this morning, enjoying my sunflower seeds; while a pair of Blue Tits and a few Starlings, in their ‘strange but smart’ Autumn plumage, were all searching the guttering at the back of the house.

Tree Pipits seen over Highland Road Cemy.

Wednesday 27th August 2014.

Spotted Flycatcher.

I took Scruff for his usual walk around Highland Road Cemetery before I started work today and it certainly felt Autumnal as we arrived at the Cemetery gates at 8am. An easterly breeze blew through and although it was overcast, it was still quite bright. Just a few dog walkers present this morning, which meant that I had the place mostly to myself. Scruff was happy as there were quite a lot of Squirrels foraging on the ground this morning, looking for fallen chestnuts. Even the albino Squirrel put in an appearance today, although kept a safe distance.

The albino Grey Squirrel within the Cemy.

I was hoping for a migrant bird or two and this morning, I have to say, was better than usual. The distinctive call of a Tree Pipit was heard high overhead, which would be a ‘patch tick’ and, eventually, I picked it up in the grey sky. In fact, one turned to four birds, then five birds, as they circled for a little while then all headed off westbound. I was hoping to get a record photo of the birds but they were too distant by the time I got on them.  That livened things up and I was then hoping that a Wheatear or something better might be just around the corner.

Spotted Flycatcher.

No Wheatears I’m afraid, but I did find a fine looking Spotted Flycatcher, in the same Silver Birch as I did last year. The bird was busy chasing insects, but soon settled long enough for me to take a few photos of it. The tree in front of the Flycatcher held the bracket fungus, Dryads Saddle, which was growing in two places on the tree. Willowchiffs numbered around two birds, which were flying around with a flock of Blue Tits, which numbered at least 8 birds (which is good for here).

Dryads Saddle growing on the same tree.

The local female Sparrowhawk was on the hunt, as she flew low through the trees on the west side, putting up all the Pigeons and a flock of at least 30+ Goldfinches. There wasn’t any butterflies seen and insects were relatively far and few between. However, with the few Buddleia flowers present, I did find one which held a Volucella zonaria; the UK’s largest Hoverfly. This quite attractive insect has had me fooled a few times, thinking it is a Hornet.

Volucella zonaria

Blood-vein added to year list.

Wednesday 27th August 2014.


As Autumn is upon us, with a cold, but dry start to the morning, the moth numbers in my garden begin to wane. However, I was blessed with another new for the year species, with a very smart Blood-vein perched on the fence panel behind my moth box. 25 moths were present of just 8 species. Another Lesser Yellow Underwing made an appearance also, with Vine’s Rustic being the most numerous.

Lesser Yellow Underwing.

An Ichneuman Wasp was also present within the box; something the moths do not like!

Ichneumon Wasp.

Heart & Club on board my year list.

Tuesday 26th August 2014.

Heart & Club.

I took a gamble last night and put the moth box out overnight, despite the forecast of more showers. Though one of the egg boxes took a good soaking, at least there was a small variety of moths this morning to look at, which included a new species for the year. A Heart & Club was present this morning among the 22 moths of 12 species. My second Lesser Yellow Underwing of the year was also present. The rain was still coming down while I was checking the moth box, so I had to hurry in getting my photos.

Lesser Yellow Underwing.

I thought yesterday’s Bank Holiday Monday was a wash out with the consistent rain over the South coast. My friend, Geoff Farwell, text me that he took a walk around Farlington Marshes, despite the awful weather. He notched up a Spotshank, 4 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, Sparrowhawk, 4 Wheatear, a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Sand Martins and 4 Common Whitethroats. Plus, he got a good soaking!

Another friend of mine, John Goodall, finally connected with the Bee-eaters on the Isle of Wight and managed to see 6 of the Bee-eaters in the rain, flying around him at the usual watchpoint. Well done that man.

Yellow Shell on the garden list for the year.

Sunday 24th August 2014.

Yellow Shell.

Another glorious start to the day with unbroken sunshine, however, so typically for a Bank Holiday Monday, the wet weather will be closing in overnight later today. Last night, Becky, myself and the girls were burning some old wood in the back garden, while supping on a nice bottle of red. I had the moth box on, which attracted my first Yellow Shell in the garden for the year and also managed a few photos using my iphone.


There was no sign of it this morning while checking the moths among the 29 present of just 16 species present. A couple of White-points were probably the most notable of the moths present. Jim Walker kindly emailed over some more Water Vole pics, which was taken at Titchfield Haven recently.

Water Vole at Titchfield Haven. Photo by Jim Walker.

Water Vole at Titchfield Haven. Photo by Jim Walker.

Good variety of migrants on Old Winchester Hill.

Saturday 23rd August 2014.

Wheatears on Old Winchester Hill this morning.

A beautiful morning on Old Winchester Hill today with Scruff was the order of the day as I had a good haul of migrants passing through on this superb area of our Hampshire countryside. I arrived at 7am this morning, hoping to pick up a few migrants. There was dew on the grass, but apart from that, the day looked as though it was going to be a sunny one.

One scruffy Robin on the Hill.

There was a good sprinkling of warblers around the Hill this morning, mostly Whitethroat and Blackcap with about a 20/10 split. Both Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were present, though most were hidden in the brambles and trees. Both Great Spotted (4 individuals) and Green Woodpecker (at least 5 birds) were seen on my journey. There was always a chance of a Wryneck, but no such luck this morning.

Juvenile Goldcrest by the footpath leading to the fort.

The footpath leading to the fort held a single male Yellowhammer and also a good sprinkling of both Whitethroat and Blackcap. Goldcrests were also abundant with at least four seen and also a Coal Tit. A large flock of Goldfinch were seen towards the end of the footpath, feeding on thistle heads, but nothing exciting among them. Bullfinches were heard calling within the scrub but only one bird was briefly seen.

Male Yellowhammer.

Common Whitethroat.

Around the Fort, a pair of juvenile/1st winter Wheatears were perched on fence posts south of the fort and showed very well. At the bottom of the hill, a large flock of around 20+ Linnet were seen on the bushes and among them, a Green Woodpecker was seen along with several more Whitethroats and a probable Redstart. The view of it was very distant and I didn’t have my scope with me. I was in luck as I did see and confirm a female Redstart by the footpath leading down to the north of the Hill. The bird posed nicely for me as it rested by the hedgerow and was keeping an eye out on an insects below on the ground.

Female Blackcap.

Goldfinches by the Fort entrance.

By the Redstart, there was a flurry of activity with more Whitethroats, Blackcaps and Willow Chiffs. The call of Tree Pipit was heard and north of the fort, at least four birds were seen along with a single Spotted Flycatcher, which was resting by a small bramble. At least two more Spot Flies were seen here and another one further round the hill as we neared the fort entrance. I was checking out a Dunnock perched up close to the Spotted Flycatcher, when another interesting warbler popped up. It was a brief view but I was in no doubt it was a Grasshopper Warbler. Its streaky plumage and elongated tail confirmed it for me.

Wheatear on the Hill.

Chalkhill Blue.

The walk back was much the same, Blackcaps and Whitethroats everywhere. The call of a distant Raven was heard, then I spotted it flying over the neighbouring field. It carried on flying over towards the car park and then a female Sparrowhawk came out and mobbed it. Butterflies were few and far between but I did notch up Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and my first Chalkhill Blues of the year, albeit tatty ones. Grasshoppers are always difficult to see at times but both Roesel’s Bush Cricket and Meadow Grasshopper were seen.

Female Redstart.

Tree Pipits.

Willow Warbler.

Spotted Flycatcher.


A notable record was a Marsh Tit calling deep within the trees near the roadside. Unfortunately, it did not reveal itself, but I have not heard or seen one here for a long time. Also seen this morning, was a small flock of 3 Yellow Wagtails, which flew off east over the fields’ a species that used to breed on the south coast and now only seen on migration here.

Small Tortoiseshell in the sunshine.