Jeepers! A Scarce Bordered Straw in my garden!

Monday 29th September 2014.

Scarced Bordered Straw


On the back of being a Grandad for the first time yesterday, I was pleased to find an unusual moth beside my moth box this morning, resting on the Acer. Though it was rather worn, I put a photo of it on the Migrant Lepidoptera Facebook page and low and behold, Scarce Bordered Straw was everyone’s recommendation. A totally new moth for me, this is a regular immigrant moth from Southern Europe. Well pleased.

There was a variety of moths present among the 17 in and around the box, which also included 1 Lunar Underwing, 1 Silver Y and 1 Setaceous Hebrew Character. Some lucky chap done an all night ‘mothing’ session at Durlston Head last night and notched up some superb moths including a Clifden Nonpareil, Four-spotted Footman, Pearly Underwing, Turnip, Delicate, White-point, Dark Spectacle and a Silver Y. It must have been a good night for migrating moths from the Continent, hence my Scarce Bordered Straw.

2 Spotted Flycatchers for Grandad Jeff near IBM Lake.


Sunday 28th September 2014.

One of the Spotted Flycatchers.

A momentous day as I am a grandparent for the first time, as baby Isabelle was born at 11.55am this morning to proud parents Russell and Sinead. Officially, I am a step-grandad as Russell is my wife’s son; but I am very proud man, especially when Isabelle held my finger for the first time ever. I got to see my granddaughter after I took a trip to nearby IBM Lake to hopefully view this mornings Pied Flycatcher there.

One of the two Clouded Yellows.

Reported earlier on Birdguides, sighted north of the small bridge between the east end of the Lake and the Porsche Building at 8.30am, I made my way there around midday. However, despite a lengthy search around the brambles and trees just north of the small bridge, there was no further sigh on the Pied Flycatcher, however, two Spotted Flycatchers were present in its place. They kept me entertained along with several other species, which included a pair of male Blackcaps, a couple of Chiffchaffs, a flock of around 10 Long-tailed Tits and a flock of around 15 Goldfinches.

Migrant Hawker.

Migrant Hawker dragonflies and Common Darters were abundant over the brambles and reeds, in which the Flycatchers happily picked off now and then and a couple of Clouded Yellow butterflies were seen in the scrubby area behind the Poplars. Other butterflies included Large White, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Common Blue and a rather late Brimstone.

White Wagtail.

Though another birder joined me along with his wife, I didn’t stay around much longer and so took a walk back to the car. A Goldcrest was seen briefly on the bank by the motorway, which is heavily laden with trees and shrubs and as I reached the car park, I found a rather smart White Wagtail walking around on the tarmac.

White Wagtail.

I was playing ‘taxi-driver’ today, as I ferried Sinead’s Mum and kids up to the hospital and also my wife Becky needed at least two trips up there and back. Farlington Marshes held 6 Curlew Sandpipers and up to three Little Stints. Meanwhile, on Titchfield Haven, at least 2 Ruffs were present (still need them for a year tick) along with the Lesser Yellowlegs and the Little Stint. The very long staying juvenile Red-backed Shrike is still frequenting Sandy Point.

Highland Road Cemetery this afternoon.

Saturday 27th September 2014.

1st winter Blackbird.

After a miserable morning, where nothing seemed to go right, I took a break by taking Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery. Though overcast, it was very mild, with next to no wind either. Looking very Autumnal with many of the leaves already fallen off the trees, there is always the chance of the expected at this time of the year, no matter where one could be.

Sphaerophoria scripta Hoverfly species on an Ox Daisy.

There was a few birds around the Cemetery and in the south section, in the line of Chestnuts, the Blackbirds must have been in double figures and notably, most were first winter birds. The adults did not find them all that welcome as a lot of chasing was going on. In the same stretch of trees, at least a dozen or so Goldfinch were singing away amongst each other.

Red Admiral.

I did hear my first Goldcrest of the Autumn here but I couldn’t locate the bird. There were plenty of Magpie’s around, more than usual, but no Jays present as of yet. At least four Chiffchaffs were seen also in the same stretch of trees as mentioned earlier, but none were seen in the north section, which was a surprise.

Honey Fungus.

Butterflies seen today included a superb Red Admiral feeding on a Buddeia Plant and a single Large White flew south and over the rooftops. After Mike Wearing kindly emailed over some photos of the Red Cage Fungus he saw at Southsea Rock Gardens earlier this week, I kept an eye out for any Fungi on show and came across a batch of Honey Fungus that looked well past its sell by date! A few insects were still buzzing around including a nice looking Hoverfly, which I have put a photo of on Facebook to be identified.

This is the Chiffchaff which has been hanging around my garden for the past few days.

Fairly quiet in Hampshire today, with nothing really rare reported. A couple of Ring Ouzels were at Leaden Hall, near Blackgutter Bottom, New Forest today; a site where I saw several the same time last year. I must pay it a visit soon.

Anthomyia procellaris. Mike Wearing found this small fly in his mothbox during the week.

Another Old Lady has arrived!

Saturday 27th September 2014.

Old Lady.

A still, overcast morning today and all was fairly quiet yet again in the moth box. Of note, there was an Old Lady moth under one of the hanging baskets, which was a surprise and a single Feathered Ranunculus among the other 13 other moths within the box.

Feathered Ranunculus.

Overhead, Meadow Pipits were passing by in numbers, easily picked up by their distinctive call. The Chiffchaff could still be heard somewhere in the neighbouring gardens. Mike Wearing kindly emailed me over some interesting photos, notably the Red Cage Fungus he found at Southsea Rock Gardens this week.

Red Cage Fungus.

Red Cage Fungus.

Little Stints and the Yellowlegs on Titchfield Haven.

Wednesday 24th September 2014.

The juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs on Titchfield Haven this morning.

I was working in the Fareham today and so, I took a drive down to Titchfield Haven to view both the Little Stints & the long staying juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs. My appointment wasn’t till midday so I had a couple of free hours to kill. Unfortunately, a weather front had come in as I trudged my way to the Centre to purchase my day pass in the rain.

Redshank & Lesser Yellowlegs.

Lesser Yellowlegs.

The noticeboard said that the juvenile Little Stints were still present, but no sign of the Yellowlegs, but maybe it hasn’t been updated yet. I had a bit of a shock when the elderly chap behind the counter asked me if I wanted adult or senior rates! Angrily, I said ‘Adult please’ as I grabbed my sticky ticket (these always fall off) and made my way back to the car to grab my gear. Though the rain persisted, it only lasted around another 20 minutes, then the reserve was baked in warm sunshine.

Juvenile Little Stint. I digiscoped this bird using my Samsung P150.

It is my fourth Wedding Anniversary today to my lovely Becky and what better way to celebrate it by notching up a nice year tick. The Meonshore Hide, I’m afraid to say, was packed, mostly with ‘senior citizens’ and the noise within the Hide was beyond a joke. I nearly said to them all to keep the noise down, but the waders feeding just in front of the Hide didn’t seem to mind, so I didn’t bother. I think it is time that people should be reminded that birds have ears too!

Common Snipe in front of the Meonshore Hide.

From the Hide, a kindly gentlemen let me get a good spot so I could set up my telescope. It didn’t take long to find the two juvenile Little Stints feeding on one of the small islands, which put a smile on my face. Other waders present included large numbers of both Black-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher, with smaller numbers of Common Snipe, Redshank, Lapwing and a single Avocet. Some of the Common Snipe showed right in front of the Hide, which pleased the crowd. The piping of a Kingfisher was heard above the din within the Hide, as I quickly pointed it out to the chap next to me, while the bird rounded a small reedbed, then flew north past the Sand Martins nests.

A drake Teal dabbling in front of the Hide.

Teal dabbled close to the Hide, while Gadwall and Mallard were feeding around the small islands. Pleased with the Stints etc., I took a walk up to the Pumphrett Hide. A kind chap told me that the Lesser Yellowlegs was showing well in front of the Hide, which quickened my pace. Migrant Hawker and Emperor Dragonflies were abundant along the footpath and Speckled Wood butterflies danced about in the sunshine. Cetti’s Warblers burst into song deep within the reedbeds, but always remained hidden. At least 10 Chiffchaffs were seen among Titmice in the bushes and trees as I walked north to the Hide.

Whirlygig Beatles on a small pond.

Entering the Pumphrett Hide, there were several people already present and right in front of the Hide, the Lesser Yellowlegs was busy feeding with a Redshank by the edge of the pool. The bird was a little distant at first, but then it got closer as I took plenty of photos of this delightful American wader. After around 15 minutes, the bird soon took flight and landed at the far side of the pool and then the Hide began to fill up with people. I could hear a familiar voice within the Hide as I spotted ‘Chunky’, one of Hampshire’s oldest yet friendly birders. He had found a Water Rail over on the far side and was busy voicing out loud where the bird was to anyone interested.

Vapourer Moth

There was a lot of people standing up and so I kindly gave my seat up for someone and left the Hide to walk slowly back to the car. I spotted a load of Whirlygig Beatles on a small pond near the Hide and along the track back to the car leading south, I found a Vapourer Moth spinning overhead then landing on a small branch; long enough for me to take some photos. Nearing the reserve entrance by the coast road, a pair of Stonechats were seen perched on the brambles until disappearing into cover. Not an awful lot over the sea, but a single Common Tern was flying west.

Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the rain.

A few moth surprises.

Wednesday 24th September 2014.

Common Marbled Carpet.

No ‘year ticks’ for moths this morning, but notable were a White-point and a smart looking second generation Common Marbled Carpet. There was several rain showers throughout the night, which probably helped attract more moths to my moth box, with 23 moths of 13 species. Some chap in Basingstoke recorded very few moths overnight, so it really is pot luck on how many might turn up. Either the same or a new Feathered Ranunculus was again within the moth box and up to 5 Pale Mottled Willows (possible immigrants?) were present.


The only ‘vis mig’ sighting this morning, whilst checking the box, was a Grey Wagtail; however, there seems to be a resident bird around the rooftops here at the moment. Yesterday, there were two Chiffchaffs around the gardens (still present this morning) and a female Blackcap put in an appearance high up in my neighbour’s Silver Birch tree. A Skylark flew high over the house late afternoon.

In Hampshire, yesterday, the Richard’s Pipit was still reported on Keyhaven Marshes; a species I have only encountered once, which was a very long time ago in London! Though I only saw the bird flying over a couple of times, it was the superb Short-eared Owl I saw there that really sticks in my mind. The long staying Red-backed Shrike was still at Sandy Point and nationally, the juvenile Masked Shrike was still present at Spurn, East Yorkshire. Though I have not seen one in the UK, I had superb views of a couple of adults in Cyprus a few years back.

A stroll around Testwood Lakes.

Monday 22nd September 2014

The main lake at Testwood Lakes.

Before my 6pm appointment in Romsey, I spent a nice couple of hours by Testwood Lakes, a site that I haven’t been too for some time. I think it was this time last year that a Caspian Tern was found on here, but no such goodies were seen today. The weather was glorious, with hardly no breeze and bright, warm sunshine all afternoon. This encouraged both birds and insects in abundance as I walked anticlockwise around the main lake. Ok, some say the hum of the M27 in the distance is distracting, like it is at Farlington Marshes, but, beside that, it really is a tranquil place for a quiet walk (bar the dogs!).

Great Crested Grebes.

Mallards chilling by the waters edge.

Just north of the car park, the smaller lake held a pair of Great Crested Grebe and several Chiffchaffs were seen flitting about in the trees by the water’s edge. Common Darters, Emperor Dragonflies and Migrant Hawkers were everywhere, so there was plenty of food for passing migrants. Crane flies were also abundant on the grass as I walked by, occasionally landing on me!

Speckled Wood basking in the afternoon sunshine.

As was this female Common Darter.

Robins seemed to be everywhere, either ‘ticking’ or singing from a bramble or tree. I did find a Spotted Flycatcher on the edge of a field, happily sitting in the sunshine on an exposed perch, waiting patiently for a passing fly. Overhead, a Common Buzzard soared with several Swallows and House Martins circling above the raptor. From the viewing screens looking north, both a Little Egret and Grey Heron were wading in the near empty creek. A small flock of Lapwing were present but no other waders were here that I could see.

Grey Heron and Little Egret.

As I had plenty of time on my hands, I sat down on a bench overlooking the main lake and was joined by an old lady walking her dog. Watching the world go by, though we were complete strangers, we talked about our lives as if we had known each other for years! We ended up walking back to our respective cars, cheerfully saying Goodbye to one another and yet, we never exchanged names and we will probably never bump into each other again. Strange how the world works, eh!

Common Buzzard overhead.

Male Common Darter on the Blackberries.

I would like to finish this entry on my blog with a ditty my friend, Andy Fisher, sent me recently. He really has a talent for a) making me laugh hysterically and b) his genious songwriting! Enjoy:

Sing this in the same tune as Dean ‘Crag’ Martin’s ‘Thats armoree’:

‘When you are down by the lake, waiting for a Spotted Crake,

that’s amoorhen.’

When a Sora you swore, is the bird that you saw,

thats amoorhen.’

Birds will sing, ting a ling a ling, all you’ve got for you notes,

it’s amoorhen.’

When you thrash tooth and nail, to year tick Water Rail,

thats amoorhen!’

Feathered Ranunculus new for the year.

Monday 22nd September 2014.

Lunar Underwing with Feathered Ranunculus.

A bright, but cold morning to start the day off, so I didn’t expect to get too much in the moth box. However, I was pleasantly surprised to get my first Feathered Ranunculus of the year sat nicely on one of the egg trays within the box. Using my Samsung PL150 is still a bit of a struggle in the early morning light, to get a quality sharp shot, so I might have to resort in trapping any new moth and save it till when the light gets better (maybe everyone does this, I don’t know?).

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point, Hayling Island. Photo by Keith Maycock.

Moth numbers, especially with another period of high pressure and clear overnight skies all week, will no doubt keep the moth numbers down, but who knows what might turn up. My small array of moths (12 moths of 9 species) included another Lunar Underwing, along with singles of Pale Mottled Beauty, Garden Carpet, Square-spot Rustic and 2 L-album Wainscot and 3 Willow Beauty. A single Light-brown Apple Moth and one Emmelina monodactyla made up the numbers.

The Juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point, Hayling Island. Photo by Jim Walker.

Whilst checking the moths, a Grey Wagtail was first heard then seen flying high overhead northbound and the regular Chiffchaff was dancing about high in my neighbours Silver Birch tree. Some good birds were seen in Hampshire over the weekend with Keyhaven Marshes hosting both Semi-palmated Sandpiper and a Richards Pipit. Titchfield Haven still held the juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Little Stints. A Wryneck was on the Hooks Links reserve and another at Southmoor.

Whinchat at Sandy Point. Photo by Jim Walker.

Both Keith Maycock and Jim Walker emailed over some nice photos of the juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point, which is still present there. Many thanks guys.

Female Dartford Warbler at Sandy Point. Photo by Jim Walker.

A foggy morning on Farlington Marshes.

Saturday 20th September 2014.

A foggy start to the day.

I took a stroll around Farlington Marshes with John Goodall this morning. It was a foggy, yet balmy start to the morning when I arrived at the reserve car park at 7.30am. This time, there were hardly any cars within the car park and very few people were encountered as we walked around the harbour wall. High tide was due at around 9am, as the waders began to get restless within Langstone Harbour. Unfortunately, the water level on the Lake was too high, therefore very few waders were present here, however, it was good for the wildfowl.

One of the Kingfishers posing nicely just off the harbour wall.

My first Common Gull of the season along with a Black-headed Gull.

The fog was slowly lifting but the light remained poor all morning, hence a lot of my photos being rather grainy and not very sharp. The Lake held good numbers of Wigeon and Teal, plus there was at least 8 Pintail present. A Common Snipe was trying to hide in the red weed by the edge of the Lake, while both Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank were pouring over the sea wall and onto the reserve from the harbour. Several Greenshank were seen over the harbour but best of all, was a pair of Kingfishers sitting on a pile of seaweed on the mud, overlooking the water as it slowly began to rise.

Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the rising tide looking west from the harbour wall.

Meadow Pipits were abundant throughout the reserve.

A large flock of Linnet (60+) were checking out the weeds along the sea wall as did several Meadow Pipits and below us, within the reedbeds, we picked out a Reed Warbler scuttling through the reeds, then showed well in a nearby bramble. Walking up to the south of the reserve, a Whinchat was seen well on the fence within the fields. As we neared the Point field, more chats were seen with a pair of Wheatears and a female Stonechat close together near the sea wall.

Pintail and Wigeon on the Lake.

Wigeon seen south of the reserve within the harbour.

Out in the harbour, WIgeon were in large groups, intermingled with Mallard and Canada Geese. From the Point, our first Brent Geese of the Autumn were picked up resting on the water in small flocks. At least 20 were seen, in three separate flocks along with at least three Great Crested Grebes. No sign of any Ospreys yet again within the harbour, but a male Kestrel was seen several times on out trip around the reserve. The Deeps remained empty again (no idea why?), save for a female Reed Bunting showing well in the reeds in front of us.

Wheatears near the Point field.

Female Stonechat in the Point Field.

A Chiffchaff showed well by the sea wall and another bird was just to the east of the Information Centre. Good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit were on the Stream but apart from Lapwing, no other waders were present. I did hear some Bearded Tits in the reedbed but it wasn’t till we reached the Lake again, that we spotted a flock of around 20 birds flying from one reedbed to another. John was in for a bonus as his first Spotshank of the year flew over and landed at the far end of the Lake. Earlier in the morning, we spotted our first Common Gull of the Autumn within the harbour and along the stream, there was at least two more among the Gulls.

Some of our first Brent Geese of the Autumn within the harbour.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes in the harbour.

The Bushes area was very quiet, bar the many Robins singing and ‘ticking’ throughout the area. A Grey Wagtail was seen flying over the Stream heading east and within the fields with the cattle, at least 50+ Yellow Wagtail were seen flying around in two separate large flocks, with the Meadow Pipits.

Female Reed Bunting by the Deeps.

A Chiffchaff by the Sloe berries near the Info Centre.

A check on Birdguides this morning revealed that a Semipalmated Sandpiper was present for its second day at Keyhaven Marshes, with a couple of Little Stints. It has been a few years since my last one, so I might be tempted should it stay for a while. A Wryneck is at Hooks Links this morning (yet to see one this Autumn) and nationally, a juvenile Masked Shrike is on the Spurn peninsula! Wow! The moth box this morning, held 3 Lunar Underwing among the 26 moths present of 12 species. Also, a couple of Hawthorn Shield bugs were in the box too.

Small Dusty Wave.

Highland Road Cemy in the Autumn sunshine.

Friday 19th September 2014.

Magpie's on the hunt within the Cemy.

After finishing all my ‘admin’ this morning, I took Scruff for a walk around midday over Highland Road Cemetery. A glorious sunny day beckoned after this morning’s early cloud had dispersed and I was hoping for a migrant or two within the Cemy. Unfortunately, my trip was cut a little short as I had to take someone to St. Marys Hospital for a check-up as promised for 1pm! Bugger!

Plenty of conkers for the School kids!

However, a few interesting things of note were spotted on my walk round. The female Sparrowhawk passed low over the treetops, heading eastbound and scattering the local Wood Pigeons. Swallows were passing through in small numbers and one looked good for a House Martin, but I was too late to pick it up through the binoculars. Several Robins were ‘ticking’ in different areas of the Cemy, but none were seen.

Garden Spiders are everywhere now.

In the south-east corner, a Goldfinch was heard singing deep within the Holly Tree and a Common Darter was buzzing high overhead. The only butterflies seen here were a couple of Large Whites. A single Meadow Pipit flew low overhead, also heading eastbound.

A bedraggled looking House Sparrow by my back garden.

When I got home, I sat in the garden and watched the local House Sparrows picking off insects within my neighbours Holly Tree. Up to five birds, 3 males and 2 females, were present and showed well in the early afternoon sunshine. A Starling came down to drink from the bird bath but quickly flew off in sighting me. A Red Admiral flew low over my back garden and a Large White butterfly flew high over heading south.

Ivy Bee - Colletes hedera - in my garden this afternoon.

A lot of Spider reports are on Facebook pages and there were plenty in my garden. A False Black Widow spider was just behind our garden seat having built a web from the fence panel to one of our garden plants. Garden spiders are everywhere throughout the garden and to top it off, a large House Spider was perched on our backdoor, which I quickly flicked off before the wife come home! I have been reading about a large species of House Spider that isn’t frightened of humans and actually comes towards them and quite aggressive too. How much of this is bullshit, I don’t know, but some of the media are only trying to sell their papers, I think.

False Black Widow.