Lunar Underwing has finally landed.

Wednesday 17th September 2014.

Lunar Underwing.

I finally got my first Lunar Underwing this morning, within the moth box. Seeing that everyone else is now getting them in good numbers, it was only a matter of time before one popped up in my garden. 25 moths of 13 species were present, but no migrants were in the box today. In future, I have decided to only write about the moths should there be anything new, as I am struggling to find time to update my blog.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Other notable moths this morning, included a Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, a single Marbled beauty (first one for a while) and 6 L-album Wainscot; although there were 10 in my box yesterday!

Amazing news yesterday from the Isle of Wight, that a dozen Bee-eaters were still present on the island; this time off Laundry Lane, on Brading Marshes. I bet that was some sight. I have since found out that TWO pairs of Bee-eaters have successfully bred this year on the island. I hope it happens again next year. Not many rare birds being reported yet in the UK, probably due to the long period of high pressure over the UK and the temperatures reaching into the mid 70’s!

Nice passage of migrants overhead.

Monday 15th September 2014.

The Robin 'ticking' in my neighbour's tree at 7am.

With all the troubles going on in the world and bombarded at you via our TV screens, isn’t it just nice to simply get up first thing in the morning with a cup of hot coffee in your hand and just watch the sky for passing birds. I, personally, have an awful lot of things going on at present and my mind is racing, but sometimes, I get the opportunity to simply take a break and get up and check my moths and watch the birds for fifteen minutes, before the day really begins.

Lesser Yellow Underwing.

As Autumn marches on, I am hoping for something interesting within my moth box, but really, any moth I get within it is a bonus really. This morning, there were 38 moths of 19 species, which was a better haul than of late. Although there was  nothing new in the box, I still had 4 Lesser Yellow Underwings, an Old Lady, Light Emerald and a late Yellow Shell, which was at my box last night but not this morning.

Common Lizard again at Milton Common. Photo by Jim Walker.

Near the garden, a Robin was in full song somewhere in my neighbour’s garden and then it stood high and proud on top of my neighbour’s tree, silhouetted against the dawn sky, doing its ‘ticking’ call. Overhead, waves of Swallows passed by occasionally and then the familiar call of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails were heard as they flew through in small numbers. While writing this before I head off to the Office, a Grey Wagtail has flown over my house, told by its distinctive call.

My friend, Geoff Farwell, made the short trip to Farlington Marshes yesterday afternoon and on the rising tide, he clocked up 8 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Stints on the Lake, and on the reserve, 5 Whinchats, Wheatear, 10 Yellow Wagtails, Kingfisher and a Lesser Whitethroat. I still need Little Stint as a year tick, so I might grab an hour later this week on a rising tide down the reserve.

Nice variety on Farlington Marshes this morning.

Sunday 14th September 2014.

Light Emerald.

I was to meet up with John Goodall again this morning at Farlington Marshes for 7.30am but I had a check of my moth box first thing. 22 moths of 15 species recorded this morning, which included a Spectacle, Light Emerald, an Old Lady, Chinese Character and one other macro which is pending identification.

Early start on Farlington Marshes.

It was a pleasant morning on Farlington Marshes, with plenty to look at, although a bit quiet on the east side of the reserve (virtually nothing on the Deeps) with a brisk easterly blowing at times. The tide was out within Langstone Harbour and high tide isn’t till 3pm. There was a Little Stint and a Ruff present yesterday, but no sign of either this morning.

Lesser Whitethroat.

Linnets near the sea wall.

As we walked along the footpath south through the Bushes, a Lesser Whitethroat showed well in brambles by the sea wall. A lot of activity going on with passerines darting low over the bushes, but most were Linnets and Dunnocks. Before John arrived, a scan in the harbour revealed at least 100+ Black-tailed Godwit feeding in the harbour until something spooked everything and everything took flight. A Greenshank was seen on the mudflats and a further 3 more were seen as John and I walked south up to the lake.

Meadow Pipits.

The juvenile Avocet on the Lake.

The Lake was fairly quiet but the juvenile Avocet was feeding on there. I picked up a Water Rail at the far end of the lake close to the reedbed and then suddenly, two more popped out. Then a young Fox came out of the reedbed, obviously spooking the Rails. A Common Sandpiper flew low over the mudflats then circled above us and dropped onto the small pond by the Bushes near the sea wall. A Sedge Warbler was seen briefly by a small clump of reeds, but quickly disappeared. The unwelcome sight of wildfowlers passing us by the sea wall, always gets my back up. How they are allowed to shoot on a reserve is beyond me!

Our first Autumn Wigeon over the reserve.

Teal out in the harbour.

The thistles and brambles near the RA Fence behind the Lake held at least four Whinchats and a further three more birds were on the Point Field along with a female Stonechat. Our first Wigeon of the Autumn flew high overhead and then settled back on the marshes. A scan over the harbour revealed two large flocks of Wigeon with about a 100+ each in both flocks. Also, our first Pintail of the Autumn was seen on the Lake from the harbour wall. Brent Geese have now been arriving in small numbers and Andy Johnson got a decent sized flock in Chichester Harbour yesterday.

Whinchat in the Point Field.

Female Stonechat and 2 Whinchat in the Point Field.

Overhead, good numbers of Swallow, House and Sand Martin poured through in sizeable numbers, all heading eastbound into the wind. A fairly large (30+) flock of Yellow Wagtail were among the Cattle north of the Deeps, popping up now and then to resettle. A single bird flew east this morning over my house while I was checking the moths early this morning, along with a Meadow Pipit. There was no sign of any Ospreys perched out on the posts within the harbour and the only raptor seen this morning was a couple of hovering Kestrels out in the fields. A Marsh Harrier was present yesterday here.

This Speckled Wood was a little out of place in the rough grass by the Bushes area.

Not a great deal to be seen in the Bushes area on the way back, but a Speckled Wood and a Small Heath butterfly were noted on the damp grass. The stream held just a couple of Black-tailed Godwit, though Wigeon, Mallard, Teal and Gadwall were abundant, resting on or by the water. A large swarm of Starlings frequented the Bushes area and looked quite impressive as they flew over us. Must keep an eye out for a Rose-coloured Starling with these easterly winds for the next few days.

Starlings swarming over the Bushes area.

Another lifer from Hazleholt Wood.

Saturday 13th September 2014.

My first ever Oak Hook-tip at Hazleholt Wood.

I had the moth box running overnight by Hazleholt Wood again and what with Simon (my wife’s cousin) cooking us one of the hottest Chilli’s I have ever eaten, we sat outside and at our meal over a couple of nice bottles of Stella. Tawny Owls were calling in the woodland as at it neared dusk, a Pipistrelle Bat (a very small bat, anyway!) flew high over the Oaks nearby.


This time, we put a white sheet up over the garage door, hoping to attract more moths and it was successful. Before we left to go home, there were at least four Brimstone’s, 1 Old Lady and my first ever Oak Hook-tip. As it was overcast and virtually windless, I was expecting a huge fall of moths the following day.

Green Carpet.

I arrived at Simon’s at first light this morning only to discover, that the number of moths present was a lot less than I expected; but there was at least a variety. My first ever Oak Hook-tips, 4 in total, were in and around the box. Other interesting moths included a Green Carpet, 2 Mocha, 1 Canary-shouldered Thorn, 4 Snout, 1 Chinese Character, 2 Light Emerald, 2 Common Wainscot, 2 Garden Rose Tortrix, 1 Large Fruit-tree Tortrix and my first ever Rhomboid Tortrix. There were a few others that I have sent photos to Andy Johnson to ID.

Large Fruit-tree Tortrix.

I promised to meet up with John Goodall at Sandy Point at 8am and so I made my way to the south coast once more. Meeting up with John at just after 8am, he was happily watching the 1st winter Red-backed Shrike with Keith Maycock and another chap (sorry, I don’t know his name) on the south east side of the reserve. This time, my photos were somewhat better than previous of the Shrike, although I am sure Keith’s will be much better than mine, considering the photographic gear he has.

The 1st winter Red-backed Shrike on Sandy Point.

The Shrike was quite active, flying to several different areas within the south east corner of the reserve, but always remained fairly distant, picking off beetles etc. from the ground. At least four Wheatears kept us entertained, perching on the wooden railing and nearby rocks on the beach along with a pair of Stonechats. Out on the gorse, at least two Common Whitethroats were seen and a large passage of Hirundines was passing through in large numbers.

And again.

A Hobby was seen briefly, flying northbound near the housing estate in the distance, upsetting the local Starlings and Pigeons! A Jay was seen on the footpath and a few Willowchiffs were dotted around. Yesterdays Lesser Yellowlegs is still present on Titchfield Haven this morning, which will no doubt attract a good number of birders onto the reserve. My friend Geoff Farwell has literally just text me to say that he is watching a couple of juvenile Goshawks over Broughton Down as I write this! There is a long period of easterly winds blowing from the Continent over the next few days, which should bring something interesting into the UK. Watch this space.

One of the four Wheatears on the beach by the reserve.

A little better than yesterday.

Friday 12th September 2014.

Riband Wave.

The promising weather conditions of last night, cloudy and mild, must of disappeared overnight as I woke up to clear skies and a cold start to the morning. I checked around the moth box last night around 10pm and was pleased to see at least 2 Small Dusty Waves, a Brimstone and a probable Old Lady fluttering around the moth box. I was hoping it would settle to make sure it wasn’t something more exciting but it flew into my neighbour’s garden.

Pale Mottled Willow.

When I checked the box this morning, only the 4 Small Dusty Waves remained, among the 22 moths present of 9 species. Better than yesterday, I suppose, but nothing new. I read on Facebook Hants Moths, that a chap in Basingstoke had 129 moths. I am taking my moth box back over Hazleholt Wood, Bishops Waltham, tonight for, hopefully, better numbers and maybe something new.

A period of easterlies are supposed to be forecast over the weekend, which might push something interesting into the UK. Apparently, a staggering count of thousands of Red-footed Falcons have arrived in Poland and are making their way east. There was even a report of one somewhere on the east coast, so keep your eyes peeled for any odd raptor. I remember that smart male bird that turned up on Chichester Gravel Pits a few autumn’s ago.

Canary-shouldered Thorn in garden.

Thursday 11th September 2014.

Canary-shouldered Thorn.

Last night, I think it was clear again, but cloud had come in from the north east early in the morning, which resulted in another low number of moths. This morning’s total included my second Canary-shouldered Thorn of the year in the garden and another Old Lady. The supporting cast included 2 Willow Beauty, 2 Bright-line Brown-eye, 4 L-album Wainscot, 1 Pale Mottled Willow, 1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and 1 Large Yellow Underwing. A single Eudonia angustia was the only macro present.

A very tatty Old Lady.

L-album Wainscot.

Three year ticks (birds this time!).

Wednesday 10th September 2014.

The immature Red-backed Shrike at Sandy Point this afternoon.

Yesterday, an immature Red-backed Shrike was reported in the south east corner of Sandy Point, Hayling Island, late afternoon, but I was too busy in the evening to take a trip down there to see it. Instead, I waited to after our Office meeting to take the journey south to view the bird. Andy Johnson kindly text me this morning that the bird was still present, but I had to wait several hours to see it for myself.

Crap photos, I know, but you can see it is a Red-backed Shrike quite clearly.

Arriving around 2pm, I walked up to the south east corner of the reserve to view the gorse and bramble bushes looking north west. It didn’t take long to find the bird (I was very lucky!) perched out of the wind which was coming in from the sea on a high tide, low down on a bush, where it remained for about 10 minutes or so. I quickly grabbed my iphone adapter and took as many photos as possible and some through my bridge camera, before the bird flew down to the ground and was never seen again (at least by me, anyway).

This heavily cropped photo of the Shrike was taken with my Bridge Camera, but to be fair, it was some distance away.

I waited a further hour to hopefully view the bird a little closer but there was no sign of it. However, during my wait, a male Dartford Warbler, another year tick, was flicking around the gorse bushes but kept low all the time, until it also simply disappeared. Never mind, two year ticks on my trip here, so I was pleased with that. A raptor grabbed my attention and I quickly identified it as a female Merlin, which put up all the waders along the beach way to the west. These all passed me and were a mixture of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin.

Speckled Wood butterflies were abundant along the footpath leading Sandy Point.

Quite a few Small White butterflies were on the wing over the reserve and a Clouded Yellow flew past also, but would not settle as it disappeared northbound. I quickly checked out Birdguides, which said that a group of 4 Curlew Sandpipers were on Farlington Marshes and so, before heading home, I popped into the reserve to hopefully view my 3rd year tick of the day.

Three Curlew Sandpipers, in the foreground, in front of the Gulls and Grey Plover on the Lake at Farlington Marshes.

Luckily, I could park up by the front entrance as I grabbed my birding gear and made my way to the Lake to view the waders. Low tide was around 4pm, but there was plenty of waders to go through during the hour I was there. All four Curlew Sandpipers were present and correct as they fed on the north side of the Lake, joining in among a couple of Knot and Grey Plover. At least a 100+ Redshank were present with several Greenshank among them. Up to 6 Common Snipe were present along the edge of the reedbeds, while other waders included several Bar-tailed Godwit among the 100 strong Black-tailed Godwit. Most of the Grey Plover were sporting their summer plumage still and a few Dunlin were dotted around the Lake.

Knot and Curlew Sandpiper in front of the Plover and Gulls.

On the wires behind the Lake, up to three Whinchat could be seen, but little else in the fields. I must apologise about the quality of the photos, but I am starting to have little faith in the iphone adapter I bought in Norfolk earlier this year. I might simply revert back to digiscoping again to get some half decent long distance shots. So, three year ticks today which put me 7 shy of 200 for the year.

Curlew Sandpipers on the Lake.

Egg on my face!

Tuesday 9th September 2014.

Juvenile Reed Warbler and not a Melodious Warbler as first thought on Fort Cumberland Common.

I shall come clean and put my hands up and say ‘I got it wrong’. Something kept niggling away at me about putting the news out of a Melodious Warbler on the Hants Birding website, but I stupidly rushed ahead and put it on there before I got my photos of the bird re-identified by Andy Johnson as a juvenile Reed Warbler. Embarrassing yes, but hang my head in shame and never put my sightings on Hants Birding again – not an earthly. A hard lesson learned, I think.

Female Kestrel over the Common.

All this waffle stems from the fact that I took Scruff for a walk around Fort Cumberland around midday after taking a break from paperwork. After having a walk around Eastney Point, where there was very little to report, bar a few Common Terns passing through the harbour entrance and a Swallow overhead; I thought I would let Scruff stretch his legs on the Common at Fort Cumberland.

Large webs of Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars again on the brambles at Eastney Point.

As I neared the perimeter fence, just south of the car park, a warbler grabbed my attention. I did hear the soft ‘hoo-eet’ of a Willowchiff nearby, but this was no Willowchiff. Allowing me good views (this is probably going to sound worse than it is), I could see the bird had a long bill, pale legs and looked good for a Hippolais type Warbler. I must admit, a juvenile Reed Warbler at this location, was the last thing on my mind; but this was actually what it was, but at the time, I was thinking Melodious Warbler.

Small White.

I quickly phoned Andy Johnson to let him know and when I got home, I text several other local birders and put the news out on Hants Birding. The rest is history. My friend, John Goodall, text me later to say that I cannot get it right all the time. Never a truer word, but really, I have seen quite a few Melodious Warblers over the years, but the last was probably five years ago, on Portland. So maybe call it inexperience of this particular species? So, if you see someone walking his dog, birding with a bag over his head, it could be me! However, at least I didn’t mistake a Spotted Flycatcher for an Eastern Phoebe!

Common Blue.

Again, not many other sightings on the Common, with only a female Kestrel hovering nearby and a few more Swallows passing through. Butterflies seen this morning at both Eastney Point and the Common included Comma, Red Admiral, Small and Large White, Common Blue and a Small Heath.

Small Heath.

Even the moths have literally dried up in my moth box now with just NINE moths present! And one of them I found in my house, a Small Dusty Wave! Mike Wearing told me today that he had over 50 in his garden moth box, including an Oak Hook-tip! This high pressure which leads to cold overnight temperatures really has a negative effect at the moment.

Oak Hook-tip. Photo by Mike Wearing.

It gets worse!

Monday 8th September 2014.

Garden Pebble.

Well, this shouldn’t take long to write! Just 16 moths of 10 species this morning! I suppose the best was a Garden Pebble with only Small Dusty Wave (2) and Emmelina monodactyla (6) being the most numerous.

Overhead, within a clear blue sky, I could hear, but not see, both Meadow Pipits and Yellow Wagtails passing through; but they must have been very high up. My friend, Geoff Farwell, had a nice selection of birds on Farlington Marshes yesterday. This included an Osprey, 3 Water Rails, Spotshank, 15 Greenshank, Ruff (still need one for a year tick), 5 Whinchats, 6 Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails, Sand Martins and a Kingfisher. I wish I was there!

Flounced Rustic & Chinese Character new for the year.

Sunday 7th September 2014.

Chinese Character.

The clear overnight conditions led to a disappointing total of moths this morning. Just 34 moths present of 16 species in and around the box, but at least it included two more year ticks for the garden. Both Flounced Rustic and Chinese Character were present and another Garden Pebble was also in the box briefly, until quickly flying out and disappearing in a gap within the fence panel! Last night, while putting the dog out in the back garden, a total of 3 Old Lady moths were present by the box, but no sign of them this morning.

Flounced Rustic.

A Hawthorn Shield bug was in the box also this morning; the second one this week. More ‘vis mig’ overhead with Yellow (4), Grey (2) and Pied Wagtails (2) flying high over plus a few Meadow Pipits and a large flock of Swallows. A Willowchiff was calling in my neighbour’s tree and is still present in the back gardens as I write.

Old Lady.

My friend, Geoff Farwell, regularly has been recording the migrants over Mount Down, near Winchester. His sightings yesterday morning included 2 Common Buzzards, 2 Kestrel, 2 Raven, Grey Wagtail, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Whinchat, Stonechat, 5 Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Chiffchaff, 2  Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Blackcaps, Firecrest, 30 Meadow Pipits, 2 Tree Pipits and numerous Swallow and House Martin.

Two of the three Old Ladies.

John Goodall done some birding around Northney Paddocks, at Langstone yesterday afternoon, hoping for Pied Flycatcher. He was sure he saw one but couldn’t get enough on it to be 100%, but did have 4 Spotted Flycatchers there. The Lesser Yellowlegs is still on Normandy Marsh this morning.