Bee-utiful in the Cemy this afternoon.

Monday 20th April 2015.

One of two juvenile Blackbirds in the Cemy.

And the second juvenile Blackbird in the Yew.

I had a busy day today, working all over the place, including the Havant area where I saw my first Orange Tip butterflies this year. Back in my Southsea garden, my first Holly Blue of the year flew over. It was to be a good day for butterflies as the sun shone virtually all day. I took Scruff for a late afternoon walk around Highland Road Cemetery before our dinner and found my first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year as well.

Speckled Wood within the Cemy.

Nomad Bee.

I didn’t expect to see many interesting birds within the Cemy but it was nice to see my first fledgling Blackbirds of the year in the south west corner in and around the Yew Tree. I even found a Wood Pigeon on its nest in the tree next to it. A few Goldfinches were seen but very little else. I therefore was studying the insects more and with so many different types of bees on the wing, they suddenly grabbed my attention. A Nomad Bee was unusual (identified by the kind chaps on Facebook) as it was a type of bee I have not encountered before. I am just waiting for a couple of others to be identified now.

Wood Pigeon on eggs.

ID to come.

A few new plants were beginning to come through which included a Bluebell and also Narrow-leaved Plantain. I did find a micro moth on the wing, but it didn’t settle long enough for me to grab a photo. Today, the Greater Yellowlegs reappeared in front of the Pumphret Hide again, this morning. A flock of 9 Little Gulls moved through Stokes Bay this morning and sightings of Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern were seen from Hill Head. My friend Geoff Farwell had a good day at Farlington Marshes yesterday with sightings of Garganey, Lesser Whitethroat, Whimbrel, 2 Wheatears, 4 Whitethroats, both Reed and Sedge Warbler, 5 Chiffchaffs and several Swallows.

Awaiting ID.

Awaiting ID.

Black-winged Stilt & Yellow Wagtail on year list.

Sunday 19th April 2015.

The male Black-winged Stilt on the Ferry Pool this morning.

John Goodall and I went into West Sussex very early this morning and by 7am, we were watching our first Black-winged Stilt of the year upon Siddlesham Ferry Pool. The clear blue sky overhead was very misleading, as it was so very cold. A bone numbing north easterly was blowing and being in the shadow on the side of the road, overlooking the Ferry Pool, it didn’t take long for my hands to go numb!

BW Stilt.

However, the male Stilt performed well close to the road as I reeled off quite a few photos while I was there. There was no sign of any of the Spotshanks I had seen earlier this week, but the Black-tailed Godwit were still in good numbers. The usual wildfowl were present and a pair of Red-legged Partridge were near the trees to the north of the fields. A good check within the fields revealed several Redshank and Lapwing, with a few Skylarks in attendance, but little else.

The Stilt having a scratch.

I suggested to John that we try Church Norton next for possible migrants and so we made the journey south. Unfortunately, the wind was even stronger down here, blowing in off the harbour and though we had a good search for migrants, the best we could come up with was a pair of Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler. Sheep, with their lambs, were grazing in the small field in front of the Church, which was nice to see.

A Willow Warbler on the footpath leading to the car park.

Are next stop was to be Selsey Bill for a final hours seawatch. We joined the twenty or so birders present by the concrete wall, which was thankfully out of the wind and was immediately told that we had missed a Hobby flying in by 4 minutes! Nevertheless, we did have a trickle of birds moving through and flying in off the sea, which included our first Yellow Wagtail of the year. Hirundines were arriving in fairly good numbers, which included many Swallows, one Swift and a flock of four House Martins.

John (far right) and other birders at Selsey Bill.

On the sea, there was a single Great Crested Grebe and a Great Northern Diver, while both Sandwich and Common Terns flew up and down the beach. It was low tide and a vast amount of sand was revealed in front of us. The local Council has sent diggers down recently to shore up the pebbles on the beach to act as a sea defence. A flock of distant Whimbrel (around 10 birds) flew east close to the mile basket, while a few more single birds passed much closer. A pair of Common Scoter flew east, but were some distance out. I decided to stand while I was here as the concrete embankment was absolutely murder on my bum! I normally bring a deck chair if I am doing The Bill, but this was a last minute decision to come here. Below, some film of the Stilt this morning.

The male Black-winged Stilt on Siddlesham Ferry Pool.

By 9am, we decided to make a move and head home but not before another check of the Ferry Pool, seeing that someone put on Birdguides, along with Stilt, that a Spotshank and a Water Pipit was present. We found the Stilt again on the far end of the Ferry Pool, as well as the Spotshank, but there was no sign of the Pipit. A couple of Swallows flew low over the Ferry Pool and a Green Woodpecker flew over, heading north. Not a bad morning, with two more year ticks, however, on Birdguides, someone had found a Pied Flycatcher behind the Information Centre, which would have been nice if I heard about it earlier! Also, the Greater Yellowlegs has been found at Titchfield Haven again this morning.

Nightingale. Jim Walker kindly emailed over some photos of one of the Nightingales at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve.

House Martin & Swift in off the sea this morning.

Saturday 18th April 2015.

A couple of Starlings came down to search for food right by our feet!

One of the confiding Starlings.

With a cold north-easterly and a cloudless sky, John Goodall and I were glad to be in the comfort of the shelter on Southsea seafront. However, though we had a nice trickle of sightings this morning, it was sadly marred by some ‘druggy’ annoying all that passed by on the seafront, which also included John and I. Though he didn’t get violent, he was a pain in the backside and completely off his head. As I was leaving the car park, it looked as though someone called the police as they sped into the car park to, hopefully, remove the idiot.

Summer plumage Black-headed Gull posing in the sunshine.

Despite that hiccup, John and I grabbed some more month ticks, as we enjoyed our first House Martin and Swift flying in off the sea. A pair of Fulmars heading west were Johns first for the year. A couple of small flocks of Commic Terns, flying mid Solent, headed east, while a flock of 6 Common Terns flew much closer in, watched flying in a tight bunch heading east. At least 8 Whimbrel and 2 Oystercatchers were counted during our stay and John, who arrived a lot earlier than myself, saw the 10 Purple Sandpipers below the Castle along with a Rock Pipit.

I'm afraid this was the best photo of a distant Whimbrel passing through.

A Grey Heron was seen flying east mid Solent and a Peregrine was seen harassing the Gulls out by one of the sea Forts, then it landed on the Fort itself. A nice variety today, especially with a trickle of Swallows coming in off the sea. Unfortunately, most of the birds passing through were quite distant and so photo opportunities were quite limited. Though the sun was shining and we were both wrapped up in virtual winter plumage, it was still so cold! Anyway, this morning’s log is as follows:

  • Commic Tern: 20 east
  • Sandwich Tern: 10 east
  • Red-breasted Merganser: 2 east (females)
  • Whimbrel: 8 east
  • Fulmar: 2 west
  • Common Tern: 7 east
  • Swift: 1 north
  • House Martin: 1 north
  • Swallow: 9 north
  • Grey Heron: 1 east
  • Oystercatcher: 2 east
  • Peregrine: 1 over Solent

Bright-line Brown-eye & Eudonia angustea NFY.

Thursday 16th April 2015.

Bright-line Brown-eye.

Last night was reasonably mild and judging by the amount of Double-striped Pugs around the moth box, this morning was looking promising. In fact, I only had eight moths in total but it did included my first Bright-line Brown-eye of the year and also a new micro moth: Eudonia angustea. In total, the following were present this morning:

  • 4 Double-striped Pug
  • 1 Eudonia angustea
  • 1 Bright-line Brown-eye
  • 1 Common Plume
  • 1 Light-brown Apple Moth

Eudonia angustea.

A very bright Double-striped Pug.

Also present were four Lacewings, my first this year. Later this morning, I was up Portchester Crematorium with Sinead Townsend, laying some flowers on my mother-in-laws ashes, which are spread in the garden of remembrance. Overhead, I saw a Common Buzzard, a female Sparrowhawk and unexpectedly, a male Peregrine circling. Both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing in the garden. A pair of Brimstones and several Small Tortoiseshells were on the wing here and within the large fish pond, tadpoles were seen all around the edge of the Pond.

One of four beautiful Lacewings.

Spotshanks on the Ferry Pool.

Wednesday 15th April 2015.

At least five Spotshanks were among the Godwit on the Ferry Pool.

I was working over the Selsey area today and stopped off for an hour around Siddlesham Ferry Pool and the Long Pool area for a spot of birding. Within the glorious weather, there was no sign of this morning’s Black-winged Stilt, but there were at least 5 Spotted Redshanks among the many Black-tailed Godwits. Three of the Spotshanks were in full summer plumage, though were a little distant for a good sharp photo. I couldn’t find anything else of note, though at least a dozen Shovelers were present. I read earlier that a Yellow Wagtail and a Wheatear were also present along with the Stilt, but no sign during my visit.

Black-tailed Godwit flying over the Ferry Pool.

Both Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were heard singing but only occasionally as it was far too noisy with the passing traffic. The odd Cetti’s Warbler was also heard, though not seen. As I was watching Small White butterflies in the flowering hawthorn below me, everything got spooked from the Ferry Pool, as a Peregrine stooped on a passing wader, but failed to catch the bird. It went off high, circling the fields to the west, but never returned.

Small White butterfly in the hawthorn.

Shoveler taking off from the Ferry Pool.

I decided then to take a walk along the footpath by the Long Pool and was rewarded with several sightings of Sedge Warbler. I must have counted at least 6 singing males and possibly several females were seen. I heard them last week at Milton Common, but it was nice to actually see them; though they proved a bugger to photograph. A Common Whitethroat was seen and heard singing briefly and at least four Willow Warblers were present in the Hawthorn. Reed Buntings seemed to be everywhere within the reedbeds and a few Chaffinches were seen chasing insects. A Blackcap briefly sang in one of the bushes, but not seen.

Male Reed Bunting on the Long Pool.

My first Cuckoo of the year was calling somewhere south of the footpath, but I failed to locate the bird. A couple of Red-legged Partridges were searching for food in the ploughed field to the south as well as several Pheasants. Linnets were making use of the small brambles and overhead, a nice flock of four Whimbrel passed over, as one of the RSPB workers passed by, clipping some overhanging branches and keeping the place nice and tidy. On the pool, a lone Great Crested Grebe was seen preening and a few Little Grebes were heard calling deep within the reeds.

Great Crested Grebe on the Long Pool.

The flowering Blackthorn and Gorse looked stunning in the sunshine.

After visiting my client, I made my to Marlpit Lane, just north of Westmancote, for my yearly tick of Nightingales. However, I wasn’t to be in luck as there was no sight or sound of them. Willow Warblers (including one with an unusual song with Chiffchaff notes in it), Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were abundant, but no Whitethroats yet! Overhead, at least two Common Buzzards soared in the clear blue sky.  It is supposed to be the hottest day of the year today and I must admit, it certainly felt like it. Brimstone and Peacock butterflies were everywhere and a few Small Tortoiseshells on the wing also.

One of the Buzzards over Marlpit Lane waste ground.

Few migrants in the Cemy.

Tuesday 14th April 2015.

Some sea fog was rolling in on the south side of the Cemy.

Spring is now in full swing, with some very interesting birds being seen all along our south coast. Pied Flycatchers were in Southampton and Titchfield Haven yesterday, while the Pagham Harbour area held Black-winged Stilt (Siddlesham Ferry Pool), Grasshopper Warbler and Whinchat. Back in Hampshire, a Ring Ouzel was flushed at Woolmer Pond.

Herb- robert.

Stock Dove.

A bit quieter this morning, probably due to the sea fog rolling in from the Solent yet again. The usual moths were present this morning by the moth box (none in the box!), though Early Greys had increased to four individuals. This morning, I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery. The weather was nice and sunny, though cold due to the sea fog which drifted over occasionally, whilst the sound of foghorns from the ships in the Solent could clearly be heard. It is reported to be the hottest day of the year today, so the sea fog should be gone by the afternoon.

The female Sparrowhawk flying low over the houses.

I bumped into Pompey Naturalist, Brian (no idea what his surname is, sorry) within the Cemy, who kindly showed me photos of last year’s Sparrowhawks that nested in the Cemy. He has a hand held video camera, which he uses to film his sightings and this photos (which he showed on his ipad) were amazing. Plus, some other photos from previous visits to various places. He then showed me exactly where the Sparrowhawks nested and also the tree where the Green Woodpecker excavated a hole for nesting, but unfortunately, a mate was not found.

Red Mason Bee in my garden.

I was hoping for at least one migrant today within the Cemy, but had to make do with the unusual sighting of a Coal Tit instead. They are rare here within the Cemy. I first heard the bird high up in the Oak Tree then saw it fly from branch to branch before disappearing east. A Chiffchaff was heard calling in the north of the Cemy but I couldn’t find the bird. Brian and I were just talking about the Sparrowhawks, when, suddenly, the male bird flew in and landed in Oaks between the Holm Oaks. We saw the bird well, but too quick for a photo, as it flew off. However, the female bird soon appeared but drifted off north over the houses.

Melanistic form of Two-spotted Ladybird.

Other sightings in the Cemy included a Stock Dove high up in the Chestnut trees and flyover Mipits and Linnets. A Song Thrush flew high over the Cemy and then was seen to fly south towards the fog! Back home, within my garden, there were a few bees buzzing around plants, which included a Red Mason Bee and an Early Mining Bee. Ladybirds have been scarce so far this year. But I did find a melanistic form of Two-spotted Ladybird.

Early Mining Bee.

This afternoon, I took a bike ride (yes, I bought a second hand bike yesterday to, hopefully, get a bit fitter!) over to Eastney Point. Though the tide was out, I did spot a couple of Turnstone on the foreshore by the boats and further north, both Redshank and Curlew were on the mudflats. Very little else to report here, though.

Peacock.

From here, I thought I would take a stroll around Fort Cumberland Common, seeing it was still very warm and sunny. I first spotted a male Robin feeding its mate, below some Gorse and several flocks of Linnets flew over. Not a great deal else on the bird front, despite a good search around the old deserted buildings, but I did find my first Peacock butterfly of the year, basking in the sunshine on some Gorse. I also found a couple of Yellow-legged Mining Bee’s by the perimeter fence.

Yellow-legged Mining Bee.

Fort Cumberland Common looking west.

A small fall of Willow Warblers in the Cemy.

Sunday 12th April 2015

My first Light-brown Apple Moth of 2015.

I was up late last night in the back garden, burning some old wood in the fire grate. I had the moth box on and watched up to three Double-striped Pugs and a couple of Early Grey moths fly in. This morning, after I cleaned the patio floor, the moths were still present along with a couple of Common Plumes. Also, I found my first Light-brown Apple Moth perched on the back seat and was still present this morning. Eight moths present this morning. Surely, it must get better?

Double-striped Pug settled in my kitchen.

As I was up early and still had alcohol passing through my body from last night, I took a stroll around Highland Road Cemetery with Scruff, who was sporting his new haircut. A Willow Warbler was singing south of my garden early this morning, but I couldn’t get a view of it as it slowly made its way further south. Luckily, the Cemy held at least four birds flitting about around the taller of the trees in the south side. At least two were singing males, but maybe the quieter ones were females?

Early Grey in the moth box.

The warblers were the only migrants seen this morning, but both the male Sparrowhawk was seen (heard calling also, high up in one of the Holm Oaks) and the Green Woodpecker; the latter was high up perched in a tree. Being a sunny, cloudless sky, I was hoping for some movement overhead, but little flew over bar a few Linnets and Goldfinches. The Jay was seen again, high up in the Holm Oaks, but apart from a few Blackbirds, little else of note.

One of the four Willow Warblers in the Cemy.

The big news yesterday, locally, was the return of the Greater Yellowlegs on Titchfield Haven! It was found in front of the Meonshore Hide and occasionally was seen in front of the viewing platform near the road bridge. However, the bird flew off high south over the Solent around 5pm and there has been no reported sightings this morning. Thankfully, I didn’t do a sea watch off Southsea this morning, for hardly anything went through Stokes Bay this morning. The Nightingales are back over Pulborough Brooks and showing well yesterday; so hopefully, I shall pay a visit over Marlpit Lane soon.

Red-dead Nettle growing in the Cemy.

Sandwich & Common Terns in the Solent.

Saturday 11th April 2015.

Sandwich Terns were constantly fishing by the shoreline in front of us.

I knew the weather was going to be poor for a while across the Solent, but, nevertheless, I had to get up at 6am for a sea watch from my usual spot on Southsea seafront. John Goodall joined me half an hour after I arrived at 7am and yet again, the East Europeans were kipping on the reverse side of our shelter again! The regular ‘nude’ swimmer had his early morning dip again, right in front of us (really nice chap once you start speaking to him). Now, where were the birds?

Another Sarny!

This juvy Mute Swan flew up and down the Solent a few times!

My morning kicked off superbly with my first Sandwich Terns of the year flying past, with a small group of three birds flying close in along the shoreline. This was to be repeated throughout our stay here as the birds fished up and down the seafront, although we did have at least five separate birds flying strongly east bound, which looked like true migrants. My only other year tick was two pairs of Common Terns flying east. Great to see them back.

Adult Med Gull heading west.

Two large flocks of Brent flew distantly high east over the Solent.

We were hoping for a repeat of yesterday where both Little Gull and Arctic Skua went through Stokes Bay; but it wasn’t to be. This is what I recorded this morning from 6.45 to 9.50am:

  • 81 Brent Geese east
  • 10 Sandwich Tern (5 east & 5 fishing along shoreline)
  • 4 Common Tern east
  • 8 Mediterranean Gull (6 east & 2 west)
  • 3 Oystercatcher (2 east & 1 west)
  • 3 Shelduck east
  • 1 Whimbrel  west
  • 1 Rock Pipit along the shoreline
  • 1 Red-breasted Merganser west
  • 1 Gannet west
  • 1 female Wheatear along shoreline

Med Gull heading west.

One lone female Merganser heading west.

There were typically long periods of nothing moving through, especially when a weather front passed through. But, to be honest, I didn’t expect that much to come through just yet. John told me about his Short-eared Owl sighting on Farlington Marshes yesterday evening, which was nice. Apparently, a couple of Little Gulls went through Stokes Bay this morning, so I am not happy that I missed those! A Manx Shearwater was seen from the Milford Shelter this morning, a species I have yet to see in Hampshire! My moth box produced just two Early Greys and a Double-striped Pug this morning.

Sandwich Tern with a juvenile Herring Gull in persuit.

Early Grey.

Plenty of Bee’s in the Cemy.

Friday 10th April 2015.

Most of the trees are now leafing.

Scruff was supposed to get a haircut today at 2pm, but I found out that it was next Friday at 2pm he was booked in for! So, after much grumbling, we booked him in for tomorrow instead. As the dog grooming place is right next to Highland Road Cemetery, I took him for a nice slow walk within there. I was hoping for at least one migrant to be in there, but failed to find a single warbler or anything else!

Male Yellow-legged Mining Bee.

Female Yellow-legged Mining Bee on a Dandelion.

The sun was now getting a bit warmer, although I still wore my fleece and the wind had dropped also. The sunshine brought out many insects, especially bee’s, of which I took many photos. Both Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumblebee’s were seen on the few flowering plants.

Andrena species of Bee.

This Starling was singing high up in the trees near the Mausoleum.

Birds were a little difficult to come by but a pair of Med Gulls flew over heading north and a few Meadow Pipits and Linnets passed over also. The Jay was present again and was also singing up in one of the Holm Oaks. The odd Goldfinch flew over but very little else of note. I have put a lot of pictures of the insects I saw this afternoon on the Insects site on Facebook to be ID’d. So, I shall wait to update my blog once this has happened.

The Jay was still present.

Bibionidae species. A male.

More Moths & Migrants.

Friday 10th April 2015.

Early Greys.

Despite another cold night (especially after yesterday’s sea mist cleared over Southsea), I was pleasantly surprised to discover four moths in and around the moth box: four Early Greys and one Common Plume, though I was more pleased to find two of the Early Greys actually IN the box! I had to drop off my step-daughters car for her MOT this morning (fairly local), and so after walking back from the garage, I grabbed Scruff for a walk around Milton Common.

Med Gulls overhead.

There was a small flurry of migrants seen yesterday on the Common and so I thought I would try my luck today. In fact, I picked up a total of four more year ticks which included Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat and a Whimbrel, the latter being in neighbouring Langstone Harbour. The weather wasn’t too bad though still a little cold, with the easterly wind blowing in off the harbour. But it was dry and sunny, with some high cloud, as we walked around the area, keeping an eye on anything interesting.

Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense).

Coltsfoot.

It was nice to bump into local birder, Kevin Crisp, and catch up on what has been seen recently. The trip kicked off with a couple of Med Gulls flying overhead and a male Sparrowhawk flew high over the Common, heading north-west. I came across a couple of birders peering into the vegetation by Swan Lake and that’s where I heard my first Sedge Warblers of the year. Two birds were heard singing, though they never showed (Kevin had three birds),  a Common Whitethroat did! I thought I had heard one singing deep within the brambles, then out popped the bird to show very well. Another one was heard singing deep within cover then flew up to catch an insect, on the other side of the Lake.

One of many Blackbirds present.

A Swallow flew around several times high over the Lakes until flying off north, but no other Hirundines were seen this morning. The whole area was alive with Cetti’s Warblers, with at least 6 singing males seen. I have waited patiently for my first Willow Warbler of 2015 to be seen and my patience was rewarded with at least four birds seen singing this morning. A couple of Chiffchaffs were also seen singing, but, surprisingly, no Blackcaps (3 were here on Wednesday). A single Song Thrush was seen, with at least a dozen Blackbirds present among the brambles. Overhead, a small movement of Meadow Pipits and Linnet was notable.

A male Sparrowhawk disappearing over Portsmouth

Cetti's Warbler in brambles.

A few plants were in flower with Coltsfoot, both White and Purple Dead Nettle and pockets of Daffodils planted everywhere. A few Bumble- bees were on the wing, but none stayed around long enough for a photo. On the Lakes, Little Grebes were heard calling to one another but, apart from the usual Gulls and Tufted Duck, there was nothing unusual.

White Dead Nettle.

It was low tide within Langstone harbour and a scan over the mudflats produced at least 10 Eurasian Teal and several Curlew. I found my first Whimbrel of the year on the mudflats, though a tad distant. Its distinctive slender size and smaller bill, helping with the ID. As I was putting Scruff back into the car, I caught sight of a Peregrine soaring high overhead, but I lost it behind the houses until I picked it up distantly over the houses again.

A typical skulking Cetti's Warbler.

It looks as though I will be ‘sea watching’ again early tomorrow morning, as the ‘Stokes Bay boys’ have come up trumps with Little Gulls, Terns and an Arctic Skua through the Solent this morning! Huge numbers of Ring Ouzels have been turning up on the south coast, so I must keep my eyes peeled.

Black-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Teal in the harbour.