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WEEKLY SUMMARY


Summary for Dec 31 - Jan 6 (Week 0 of 2008)

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BIRDS

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New Year's Day bird races: From the news I have seen so far it seems that a new Hampshire record has been set by Steve Keen who ticked 111 species on New Year's Day (not perhaps a day list record compared to totals that are achieved in May and approach 150 but probably the most that has ever been achieved in the short daylight hours and cold conditions of New Year's Day). John Norton and Peter Raby together also beat the 100 mark with 103, and on the Isle of Wight Derek Hale scored 93. The highest scores I have seen claimed by Sussex teams are 85 and 81 respectively but I am pretty sure these will be beaten by others in that county.

Red-throated Diver: 60 were seen in Rye Bay on Dec 30 and 5 flew past Sandy Point (Hayling) on Jan 1. By Jan 5 larger numbers were being reported from Dorset with 20 seen at Christchurch and 13 passing Portland

Black-throated Diver: One was off Selsey Bill on Jan 1 and two were in Portland Harbour (still there on Jan 5)

Great Northern Diver: Andy Johnson has confirmed that at least one was in the Chichester Harbour entrance area throughout December with three there on Dec 17 and two on both Jan 1 and 5. On Jan 4 there were 10 in Portland Harbour

Great Crested Grebe: The 'raft' of these on the sea off Titchfield Haven which had first been noticed on Dec 23 with 43 birds in it had risen to 65 on Dec 26, 78 on Dec 30 and 83 on Dec 31. It is still growing with a total of 102 there on Jan 5 (99 in one flock plus three loners)

Slavonian Grebe: Andy Johnson reports that up to seven of these were in the Chichester Harbour entrance area throughout December and he had 3 there on Jan 1 with 5 seen there on Jan 5

Black-necked Grebe: 23 were seen off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Dec 31 and 22 were counted from Budds Mound on Jan 1 but I have no confirmation of a rumoured count of 28 in Langstone Harbour that day. In Dorset there were 15 in Studland Bay on Jan 4 with at least another 2 in Portland Harbour (3 there on Jan 5)

Fulmar: One was seen from Selsey Bill on Jan 1 when 25 were reported from Dungeness and 9 from Seaford

Sooty Shearwater: Autumn passage sightings of this species ceased after Nov 18 and the only report since then has been of one passing Sandy Point on Hayling on Dec 1 with another seen at Dungeness on both Jan 1 and 2

Balearic Shearwater: An isolated report of one from Selsey Bill on Jan 5 was the first that I have seen since one was at Portland on Dec 9

Shag: On Jan 6 the Durlston ranger's log commented on a Shag already showing its breeding crest

Bittern: Four were reported at Titchfield Haven on Dec 21 and on Jan 1 there was proof of two at the Blashford Lakes but at both sites you will be lucky to see even one of these elusive birds. Jan 5 brought the first report of one at Burton Mill Pond (west of Pulborough) while others remain at Radipole (Weymouth), Hatch Pond (Poole), and no doubt in the Rye area, at Dungeness and the Kent Stour Valley

Cattle Egret: It seems likely that there are still six in the Weymouth area, one at Harbridge (upstream of Ringwood), one at Lavant (Chichester) and one at Rodmell near Lewes. On Jan 5 what maybe another bird turned up at Coombe Haven (Bexhill west of Hastings)

Great White Egret: One continues to be regularly seen at the Blashford Lakes up to at least Jan 1 when there was a single report of one briefly by the Sussex Ouse near Southease (this one seen again at Piddinghoe on Jan 2 but not since)

Spoonbill: The half dozen birds that were in the Weymouth area up to Dec 24 have not been reported since (other than singles at Abbotsbury on Jan 1 and at Ferrybridge on Jan 4) but Jan 5 brought a report of 4 back in Poole Harbour. On Dec 30 there was an isolated report of one flying over the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood.

Bewick's Swan: No reports from the R Arun (where there had been 25 birds near the Wildfowl Trust reserve on Dec 26) until Jan 5 when 6 birds were seen there (Burpham area)

Pink-foot Goose: Two of these were seen by the River Avon on both the Dorset and Hampshire sides of the county boundary in the Avon Causeway area on Dec 31

White-front Goose: On Jan 1 a group of 8 flew over the Pulborough Brooks reserve but maybe they stayed in the area as on Jan 5 there is a report of 8 seen at Widney Brooks (the area west of the River Arun immediately north of Greatham Bridge, complementing Waltham Brooks which are south of the road to the bridge)

Pale-bellied Brent: The number in The Fleet at Weymouth was up to 5 on Jan 1

Red-breasted Goose: On Jan 1 the bird which is regularly seen by day at West Wittering flew west at dusk to roost off the east Hayling shore (I think in the Mengham Rithe area). It is still being seen daily at Wittering up to Jan 5 but seems to fly west at dusk to roost on the south east shore of Hayling.

Mallard: I watched a pair displaying to each other on Jan 1

Pintail: I only saw a single male in the Chalkdock area of Langstone Harbour on Jan 1 but along the coast at Hook (Warsash) 45 were present, probably in addition to 11 seen at Titchfield Haven on Dec 31

Pochard: On Dec 30 Mike Collins noted that a male among the birds on Budds Farm pools was fitted with a 'bill saddle' marker.

Ferruginous Duck: One arrived at Rye Harbour on Jan 4 and was still there on Jan 5 - comments are invited on the purity of its breeding.

Scaup: On Jan 1 the number at Abbotsbury in Dorset was up to 12 with another 10 still in Poole Harbour. One was at Normandy (Lymington) on Dec 31 but I think it left overnight and could not be found on Jan 1 - it may have flown to Poole Harbour where the total increased by one from 10 to 11 on Jan 5

Eider: The number on the sea off Titchfield Haven was up to 69 on Dec 31 (with 65+ being reported on Jan 1)

Long-tailed Duck: On Jan 1 one remained in Hove lagoon (Brighton), three were in Portland Harbour and five in Poole Harbour with one or two probably still present in the Rye Harbour area. Brian Fellows saw at least two (presumably part of the collection) at the Arundel reserve on Jan 1 and was fascinated to hear these two males 'howling like small dogs'. Since then the Hove bird has flown to Brooklands in Worthing (arrived there on Jan 5) and the number in Portland Harbour has increased from 3 to 4

Smew: One seen on Swanbourne Lake at Arundel on Jan 1 was probably part of the Wildfowl Trust collection which had flown over the fence - I have not heard of any Smew anywhere west of the Rye Bay area along the south coast this winter.

Red Kite: One was in the Chilgrove area north of Chichester on Jan 5

Marsh Harrier: A female was active in the northern part of Titchfield Haven on Jan 5 and another was seen at Rodmell near Lewes on Jan 2

Sparowhawk: These are adept at using their long legs to catch and kill prey hiding in crevices which the hawk is too big to enter and Jan 3 brought a good example of this in a description on Hoslist of how a Sparrowhawk caught, killed, and extracted a Greenfinch from within one of those metal cage 'Squirrel proof' bird feeders

White-tailed Sea Eagle: Still being seen in the Andover area on Jan 2

Peregrine: On Jan 1 one was perched on the nestbox on the chimney of the Shoreham power station - not sure if this was by chance or if it indicated the start of their breeding season

Water Rail: A bonus for my New Year's Day list was the sight of a Water Rail openly preening among the vegetation around Budds Farm pools - I watched it for at least a minute before it strode off purposefully into the surrounding cover. Brian Fellows has also seen a Water Rail by the Lumley stream at Emsworth on Jan 3.

Great Bustard: One of these (presumably a wanderer from Salisbury Plain) was seen in a field near the A35 in the Dorchester area on Dec 30. In Oct 2005 one of these wing-tagged birds caused a minor sensation by flying around the Portland Bill observatory at eye level while it was photographed - I think one or more escapees were in Dorset until March 2006 when they returned to Salisbury Plain.

Avocet: Six were in Pagham Harbour on Dec 30 but the only one I have seen claimed on New Year's Day was the single bird wintering in Christchurch Harbour - since then I have seen a report of 14 birds in the mouth of the Beaulieu River on both Dec 31 and Jan 1). On Jan 4 one was found at a new site (Fishbourne Channel near Chichester) and it was still there next day.

Golden Plover: The species was claimed as seen 'somewhere on Hayling Island' on New Year's Day when 25 were seen in the Medina estuary at Cowes (IoW). The count at Rye Harbour on Jan 2 was 1700, well exceeding this winter's previous peak count there (1100 on Dec 4)

Knot: Around 300 were seen in Pagham Harbour on Dec 29 and around 100 were in Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Jan 1 with at least one seen from Hayling

Sanderling: Jan 1 found an estimated count of 80 on the Ryde west sands (IoW) with some seen on Hayling

Purple Sandpiper: No Hampshire reports for Jan 1 but 8 were seen at Southsea Castle on Jan 3

Jack Snipe: Simon Ingram had one at Eastleigh Lakeside as an early Christmas present on Dec 24 when another was seen in the Worthing area (at Ferring Rife). Locally there was one in the Sandy Point area of Hayling on Dec 21

Black-tailed Godwit: As usual after Christmas some of these birds are moving from the coastal mud to wet grassland. On Dec 31 Titchfield Haven had 239 (not a significant increase as 400 had been there in November and 313 had been seen on Dec 23) but Pulborough Brooks (which had no more than 3 before Christmas) had 15 on Jan 1, 26 on Jan 2 and 41 on Jan 5. No news so far from the Avon Valley

Bar-tailed Godwit: One was seen in full summer plumage at West Wittering on Jan 1 and what may have been the same bird was at Titchfield Haven area on Jan 2 (I think it is not unknown for several wader species to have a genetic disorder which gives them summer plumage in the winter and non-breeding plumage in the summer)

Whimbrel: One wintering bird was in the Medina estuary at Cowes (IoW) on Jan 1 and another was in the Fishbourne Channel of Chichester Harbour on Jan 5

Greenshank: One was seen in the Broadmarsh area of Langstone Harbour on Jan 1 but the only other reports of this species for 2008 are of a single in the Fishbourne Channel on Jan 4 and 5, and of two in Emsworth Harbour on Jan 4

Common Sandpiper: I failed to see the wintering bird when I was in the Broadmarsh-Budds Farm area on Jan 1 but Peter Raby confirms it was still there. Inland Dave Ryves had 3 of these Sandpipers at Curbridge on the River Hamble and the regular bird was still at Christchurch Harbour. On Jan 2 two Common Sandpipers were seen by the River Arun in the Ford area south of Arundel and on Jan 3 two were at the Lower Test (Southampton).

Pomarine Skua: Seven were seen at Dungeness on Jan 2 with singles there on Jan 1 and 3

Arctic Skua: Two seen at Dungeness on Jan 1 and 2 were the first to be reported anywhere since Dec 2

Great Skua: Dungeness also did well with these having 9 there on Jan 1

Med Gull: There were 118 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Dec 30

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was still at the Cockle Pond on Jan 1 and 3

Iceland Gull: The bird which returned to Titchfield Haven area on Dec 23 was still around on Jan 5 (but the Shoreham Harbour Glaucous Gull seems to have departed on Dec 29)

Kittiwake: This week has seen several large movements of seabirds in the English Channel including 820 Kittiwake at Dungeness on Jan 2 and 250 off Portland on Jan 4

Sandwich Tern: At least one was in the mouth of Chichester Harbour throughout December (with five seen from Black Point on Dec 8) and one was seen at West Wittering on Jan 4

Auk species: 4220 were recorded at Dungeness on Jan 2 and 1300 flew east off Worthing in 1 hour on Jan 3

Guillemot: More than 200 were on their breeding ledges at Durlston on Jan 6 - they have been there since the beginning of December

Razorbill: More than 300 flew past Portland on Jan 4

Barn Owl: One was hunting over the East Park at Stansted at 7:30am on Dec 24 and the latest news includes daytime sightings of these birds at Walland Marsh and Pannel Valley (both near Rye), Rye Harbour, Steyning Brooks on the R Adur and West Bexington near Weymouth. Following reports of late youngsters fledging in November I am not sure if these are young birds desperately trying to find food in order to survive or adults needing extra food as they come into breeding condition (or just generally hungry birds). As well as the weather Barn Owls often die from collisions with cars as the owls hunt roadside verges - a dead bird was found beside the A23 just north of Brighton on Jan 5

Long-eared Owl: With no Tawny Owls present on the Isle of Wight their niche is taken by Long-eared but there have been relatively few reports of them in the last few months. On Dec 30, however, a group of four were flushed by a Buzzard from cover on the hills south of Newport - presumably by day.

Short-eared Owl: Two could still be seen hunting over fields west of Pagham Harbour on Jan 1

Kingfisher: I had a good sighting of one flying up the Brockhampton stream (west of Budds Farm) on Jan 1 - unlike last winter there have been few sightings at Langstone Mill Pond (last report I have from there was on Nov 21)

Hoopoe: One which arrived at Kingsley Common (east of Alton) on Dec 24 was still being seen on Jan 5

Woodlark: Michael Prior tells us that a flock of 14 were feeding in stubble in the East Park fields at Stansted on Jan 1

Skylark: A flock of more than 100 were feeding in stubble near South Warnborough (near Hook in north Hampshire) on Jan 3

Shorelark: The Rye Harbour bird was still there on Jan 4

Black Redstart: One was seen at Portchester Castle on Jan 3

Stonechat: At least one was at the Langstone South Moors on Jan 2

Fieldfare: John Clark saw more than 600 come to a night roost in the Greywell area west of Fleet in north Hampshire on Dec 31

Mistle Thrush: I read on John Goodspeed's website that someone had seen "Redwings among Mistle Thrushes" in Staunton Country Park (north of Havant) on Jan 2 but have no further details - Mistle Thrushes are nowadays in very short supply and I have not yet seen one in the Havant area this year

Cetti's Warbler: One sang from the vegetation surrounding Budds Farm pools while I was there on Jan 1

Hume's Leaf Warbler: This rare vagrant is almost indistinguishable from a Yellow-browed Warbler except for a di-syllabic call which has the stress on the start rather than the end syllable. A bird generally agreed to be this species has been in the Horseshoe Plantation on Beachy Head from Dec 29 to Jan 5 at least

Firecrest: Several local reports - on Dec 24 Michael Prior had one in his Woodberry Lane garden at Rowlands Castle, on Dec 29 there were reports from the Fordwater Road area of Chichester and from Church Norton on Pagham Harbour, and on Jan 1 Mike Collins had one in the north of Stansted Forest close to the footpath entering the wood east of the road almost opposite Forestside Church.

Tree Creeper: I had good views of one in Stansted Forest on Jan 5

Jackdaw: More than 2150 birds came to a night roost in the Greywell area west of Fleet in north Hampshire on Dec 31 (some 3000 Starlings also came to roost there)

Brambling: Among several recent reports there is a claim of a 1000+ flock at Longwood Warren (east of Winchester) on Dec 24.

Greenfinch: As these are in very short supply at the moment I was pleased to hear one trilling as it flew over Havant on New Year's Day

Linnet: Dan Houghton reported a flock with more than 1100 birds seen in fields in the Chilling area between Titchfield and Hook on Dec 30 - John Clark commented that this would be the second largest flock recorded in Hampshire after one of 2000 birds seen at Morestead (Winchester area) in 1974

Twite: The last report I have seen of the Keyhaven area bird was dated Dec 30

Hawfinch: Four were seen at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey on Jan 3 and at least 7 were using the Rhinefield arboretum roost in the New Forest on Jan 2. Eight were seen in the Chichester West Dean Woods on Jan 5

Yellowhammer: Although these remain scarce in south east Hampshire there are two recent reports of flocks of 20 a little further north - in the Shalden area north west of Alton on Jan 2 and in the Greywell area west of Fleet on Dec 31

INSECTS

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Butterflies

Red Admiral: One seen at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Dec 30

Peacock: One seen at Mouth Harry (Lewes area) on Dec 26

Moths

Small Purple Flat-body (0691 - Agonopterix purpurea): This tiny micro is mostly seen in August and has not been recorded in Hampshire during winter months - that may be because it does not appear in outdoor moth traps at this time of year but one was found on Jan 2 by searching the inside walls of a cottage in Sussex.

Garden Cosmet (0892 - Mompha subbistrigella): - Also found indoors on cottage walls in Sussex on Jan 2

Light Brown Apple moth (0998 - Epiphyas postvittana): Four in a trap at Newhaven on Dec 31

December Moth (1631 - Poecilocampa populi): One at Haywards Heath on Dec 24 and another at Newhaven on Dec 31

Common Quaker (2187 - Orthosia stabilis): Perhaps the least expected species at this time of year (mainly seen in March and April) one was trapped in the Haywards Heath area on Dec 24

Other Insects

Liancalus virens: Sandstone rocks in the Hastings cliffs capture heat from the sun and create a warmer than average microclimate which is also wet from rain percolating through the porous rock. Andy Phillips of the Hastings Country Park wrote (entry for Jan 2 on the RX website) .. "This probably accounts for the amount of invertebrate life on the wing here recently, providing prey for a small number of black redstarts, pied wagtails and grey wagtails wintering on the undercliff. The most notable species on the wing has been the scarce fly Liancalus virens. This colourful fly lives amongst the mosses, liverworts and algae growing under and beside waterfalls and fast running water. The species is very common beside the Ecclesbourne waterfall where the Ecclesbourne stream falls over the cliff edge onto the beach, but can be very difficult to find anywhere else in Sussex". This fly is one of the Long-legged (Dolichopid) Flies which look slightly like Mosquitos.

Shore Ant (Temnothorax albipennis): It was assumed that this rare species living on the shingle at Dungeness would be hibernating at this time but when a Sea Kale stem was blown from the beach against a fence on Jan 5 the stem broke and revealed active (if sluggish) ants within - they are clearly able to survive hard frost but have little defence against gales blowing away their homes

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

A total of 26 species seen in flower so far this year. Not counted or listed below is Common Whitlowgrass which has white flower buds about to open on one of the plants in Waterloo Road, Havant, on Jan 6

Hairy Buttercup: A surprise find on the last day of 2007 was a single plant of Hairy Buttercup flowering in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery on Dec 31

Sticky Mouse-ear: Flowering in Havant on Dec 31

Musk Mallow: A couple of plants still flowering in Marlborough Park (Denvilles area of Havant) on Dec 31

Goat Willow: At the Arundel Wildfowl Reserve on Jan 1 Brian Fellows noted that some of the Willows had lost the brown leathery outer cover of their flower buds to reveal the silky white hairs which form a secondary cover to the 'Pussy Paw' catkins which will start to open on some trees during January

Fools Parsley: Also flowering in Marlborough Park on Dec 31

Stone Parsley: One or two white flowers found on a plant in a sheltered situation on the Emsworth west shore on Jan 5

Angelica: Two plants in full flower at the Arundel Wildfowl Trust reserve on Jan 1 were the best find of the New Year so far

Primrose: Flowers were out on wild plants in woodland at Durlston country park on Jan 1

Wood Sage: A very few flowers still to be found on one plant in Stansted Forest on Jan 5

Water Forget-me-not: Several plants flowering by the Langbrook stream in Havant on Jan 1 (by the water wheel immediately north of the A27)

Creeping Comfrey: A garden flower but its first flowers of the year were a welcome sight in Havant on Jan 2. Another garden flower also seen for the first time on Jan 2 was Lungwort

Sea Aster: A single plant in full flower on Jan 2 at the Langstone South Moors where sea water seeps out of the concrete cover to the old sewage pipe

Giant Butterbur: Not yet in flower but plenty of developing plants at the Langstone site by the Langbrook stream on Jan 2

OTHER WILDLIFE

Wild Goat: I occasionally see references to these in the Isle of Wight news as I think several roam the open areas of the south coast of the Island but I was surprised to see a photo of two Goats which appeared on the Portland website on Jan 1. I have never been sure of the origin and exact species of the IoW animals but we are told told that those on Portland are a small herd of British Primitive Goats that were released there last year to exercise natural scrub control (which they are good at). Enquiring via Google I found a web page for a British Feral Goat Research Group and on it I read - "The British Primitive Goat (a feral goat with no modern goat blood in it) is now one of our rarer breeds. All our domestic breeds of today are descended from foreign imports, and our primitive breed would have died out completely but for the fact that some escaped or were turned loose on the hills to run wild. But having all died out in domestication our feral population has been in decline for some time. Recent large culls (eg circa 1,200 in Galloway) have seen numbers drop dramatically. Known introgression with modern breeds has spoiled some herds. The number of true British Primitive Goats has therefore been severely reduced (possibly to circa 1,500). Urgent action is needed to protect, preserve and promote what is rapidly becoming a remnant of our Primitive breed".


Summary for Dec 24 - 30 (Week 52 of 2007)

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BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Plenty of these now around with reports of around a dozen seen from Christchurch Harbour on Dec 24, 26 and 29. Locally two were on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Dec 29

Great Northern Diver: Up to seven seen in Portland Harbour on Dec 23 and locally one has been seen in the east Solent (from Titchfield Haven to the mouth of the Hamble) on on Dec 26, 28 and 29

Great Crested Grebe: A flock of 43 on the water off Titchfield Haven on Dec 23 had grown to 65 by Dec 26, possibly the result of frost driving birds from inland waters. Maybe really hard weather will cause the flock here to increase to the count of 220 that occurred in Feb 1996 but on Dec 29 only 3 could be seen here

Red-necked Grebe: It seems that a few more have reached us recently with a report of 3 in Studland Bay on Dec 22 and one on the inland Blashford Lakes on Dec 28

Slavonian Grebe: Six were on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Dec 24 - a good count by this winter's standard but nowhere near the 20 or 30 that used to spend the winter here (a report of 40 seen there on Dec 23 is intriguing)

Black-necked Grebe: Two of these are now settled at the Blashford Lakes, 21 were in Studland Bay near Poole on Dec 23, and 4 were in Portland Harbour on Dec 25, 27 and 28 but there have been no recent reports from Langstone Harbour

Shag: 22 were on the sea off Christchurch Harbour on Dec 26 with 21 there on Dec 28 - no reports from the mouth of Langstone Harbour since Dec 17

Bittern: One is now settled at the Blashford Lakes and at least one is being regularly seen at Titchfield Haven but no further reports of the 4 birds said to be at Titchfield on Dec 21

Cattle Egret: One was still to be seen in the Fordwater area of the Lavant stream at Chichester on Dec 29 and five were still in fields to the north of Weymouth on Dec 26 and 27. Dec 27 brought one to Hampshire where it has been in the Harbridge area near Ibsley north of Ringwood on Dec 27 and 28 - maybe it flew on east as one appeared by the Sussex Ouse at Rodmell (just south of Lewes) on Dec 29. The presence of one at Harbridge allowed some birders visiting the Blashford Lakes to record 5 Heron species in one day (Grey Heron, Great White, Little and Cattle Egrets plus Bittern)

Spoonbill: At least seven are still present in Dorset (on Dec 22 five were at Lodmoor and two were at Brownsea Island)

Bewick's Swan: A total of 25 arrived on the River Arun in the Burpham area just upstream of Arundel on Dec 22 and were still there on Dec 26. On the Hampshire Avon, where there have been occasional sightings of up to 4 adults in Oct, Nov and early Dec, two adults were seen at Harbridge on Dec 26.

Whooper Swan: One turned up by the River Adur (Bines Birdge area near Henfield) on Dec 29 - probably the same bird that has arrived there with a few Mute Swans each winter since Nov 1999 (and which vanishes each spring). It is not ringed but there is some doubt as to whether it is a genuine wild bird from Iceland.

Bean Goose: A group of three Tundra race birds were with Mute Swans in the Littlehampton area (mouth of R Arun) from Dec 24 to 28 at least

Pinkfoot Goose: A single bird was seen with 16 White-fronts in the Swineham area of Poole Harbour on Dec 24

Whitefront Goose: 16 were in Poole Harbour on Dec 24 and 46 were at Pett Level (Rye Bay) on Dec 27

Pale-bellied Brent: Two were still being reported at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Dec 27 but I have seen no local reports since Nov 17, when one was in Langstone Harbour, and Nov 29 when one was in Pagham Harbour

Brant: On Dec 29 the Gosport bird was seen on the Sultan Playing fields and the Wittering bird was also seen.

Red-breasted Goose: Lee Evans tells us that the bird still being seen at Wittering on Dec 26 is the same bird that was seen in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex last winter (last seen at Wittering on 28 Feb this year and seemingly preferring to stay there this winter rather than to revisit the Poole Harbour and Lymington areas). It was still at Wittering on Dec 29

Shelduck: No more than 10 birds had been seen in the Emsworth-Langstone area since the end of November so a count of 54 on the Emsworth shore on Dec 22 was a pleasant surprise. At least 30 could be seen on the Warblington-Langstone shore on Dec 28

Gadwall: A new Hampshire country record was claimed for a count of more than 900 on the Blashford Lakes on Dec 28

Mallard: See Diary entry for Dec 28 concerning the death of an apparently healthy male on Langstone Pond - was it killed by the returning pair of Swans?

Pochard: At least 8 were on Budds Farm pools on Dec 26 and totals elsewhere seem to have increased as the result of an influx on Dec 23 which unexpectedly brought one to the Emsworth town millpond and saw 23 fly over Christchurch Harbour (also unusual there). At Titchfield Haven 43 were present on Dec 23 along with 18 Pintail, 40 Tufted Duck, 121 Teal and 372 Wigeon

Scaup: The two which were regular at Normandy (Lymington) in Nov were not seen there after Dec 3 until a single bird re-appeared on Dec 26 (seen again on Dec 28). In Dorset up to 9 are in Poole Harbour and 7 were at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Dec 23

Eider: More than 20 were on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Dec 29

Long-tailed Duck: Three were seen at Lymington on Dec 23 but by Dec 24 there were only two there and the third bird seemed to have moved east to Sowley Pond. Elsewhere one remains on Hove lagoon, three have been in Portland Harbour, two are based at Rye Harbour and five in Poole Harbour.

Velvet Scoter: Reports on Dec 23 were of three in the Lymington area, one on the sea off Seaview (Isle of Wight), four in Portland Harbour plus two more at Chesil, and one in Studland Bay. By Dec 29 the total in the Weymouth area had risen to 10 (3 in Portland Harbour and 7 on the sea west of Portland)

Goosander: The night roost count at the Blashford Lakes rose to 58 on Dec 26 (where there were also 12 Ruddy Ducks). On Dec 28 the nightly roost at Blashford had more than 62 birds including 23 adult drakes.

White-tailed Sea Eagle: Still being seen around Andover on Dec 27

Avocet: Nine were seen in Pagham Harbour on Dec 24

Little Stint: One still in Chichester Harbour at East Head (West Wittering) on Dec 23

Black-tailed Godwit: On Dec 23 two different visitors to Titchfield Haven area reported counts of 313 and 193 respectively (not sure if these two can be added together or are two views of the same flock)

Spotted Redshank: On Dec 22 one was on the Emsworth Western Shore and another was at Ella Nore (near West Wittering) and on Dec 24 two of these birds were at the Thorney Deeps

Greenshank: Relatively few of these stay the winter but there were still 15 at the Thorney Deeps on Dec 24

Med Gull: Dec 23 brought counts of around 30 from the Lymington area and 20 from Portland Harbour while on Dec 24 there were around 140 in Pagham Harbour and another 70 at Ferrybridge (Weymouth)

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was still at the Cockle Pond on Dec 29

Iceland Gull: An adult turned up at Titchfield Haven on Dec 23 and was still there on Dec 24 - maybe the same bird that was seen there from Dec 28 to Mar 24 last winter

Glaucous Gull: The bird at Shoreham was still there on Dec 29

Sandwich Tern: One was seen from East Head (mouth of Chichester Harbour) on Dec 23

Little Auk: The bird in Shoreham Harbour was still there on Dec 26 but has not been seen since - the length of its stay from Dec 12 to 26 sets a new Sussex record

Collared Dove: Many of these are now singing and on Dec 23 and fresh egg was found broken on the ground at Burgess Hill in Sussex

Barn Owl: Two reports of these hunting by day - one seen from the Titchfield Canal path on Dec 23 and two hunting together over the Steyning Levels by the R Adur on Dec 29 - could the latter sighting mean that a pair are already thinking of nesting and need more food to prepare for breeding activity?

Kingfisher: On Dec 22 John Goodspeed had two sightings in the Paulsgrove lake area of Portsmouth Harbour and on Dec 26 I saw the Brockhampton Stream bird here in Havant

Hoopoe: A very accessible bird appeared on Kingsley Common (east of Alton) on Dec 24 and was still there on Dec 27

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Drumming was heard again at Wade Court (Langstone) on Dec 22, and at Guestling Wood north of Hastings on Dec 24. More drumming heard at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 28

Shorelark: One appeared at Rye Harbour on Dec 23 and was still there on Dec 29

Rock Pipit: I had close views of two on the Langstone South Moors shore on Dec 26 when 4 were seen at the Sidlesham sewage works near Pagham harbour

Scandinavian Rock Pipit: First report of one for this winter came from the Lymington shore on Dec 23

Water Pipit: Two were seen at the Sidlesham sewage works (Pagham area) on Dec 23 and Dec 26 and one was still at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Dec 29

Dunnock: Several were singing around the Havant area on Dec 26 and one was singing in my garden on Dec 30

Song Thrush: One sang briefly near my garden on Dec 26. One had been heard daily there from Nov 21 to Dec 1 but after that only on Dec 6 and 13

Marsh Tit: Very early song was heard from at least one of four birds in Pilmer Wood at Crowborough on Dec 26

Nuthatch: The first report of song comes from Guestling Wood north of Hastings where one was 'fluting like a Mistle Thrush' on Dec 24

Great Grey Shrike: This week's reports come from the New Forest (just one at Holm Hill on Dec 26), Mordern Bog (near Wareham in Dorset on Dec 24 and 27), and the Great Bramshot Farm area near Farnborough (seen on or around Dec 28 - has been at that site since Nov 1)

Carrion Crow: More than 300 were seen on the Weston shore south of Southampton on Dec 27 (an estimated 500 were at this site on Sep 16)

Raven: On Dec 28 one pair was displaying in the air above Cheesefoot Head (east of Winchester) and another pair were checking out old Crow nests in the Milford on sea area.

Twite: The bird which has been in the Keyhaven area near Lymington since Dec 16 was seen on Dec 22, 23 and 28

Hawfinch: One was in the Stapleash Farm area of the Chichester West Dean woods on Dec 22 and one was at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey on Dec 25

Lapland Bunting: There have been no definite sightings of the bird in the Lymingon area since Dec 19 but it may still be among the large mobile finch flocks there. A new bird seems to have arrived from the continent on Dec 26 when it flew north over the coast at Hastings

Corn Bunting: 40 were seen on the Downs above Steyning (north of Worthing) on Dec 24

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Red Admiral: The only new report of a butterfly is of one Red Admiral seen at Bignor on the Sussex Downs on Dec 18

Moths - the following have all been trapped in the last few days

Agonopterix heracliana: This species gets its first mention for the year when trapped in Sussex on Dec 22 - normally it does not appear until February with its main flight in March

Light Brown Apple moth: One taken at Portland on Dec 23 was an unexpected record of a moth whose main flight season is in Aug and Sep

Rusty-dot Pearl: Also trapped at Portland on Dec 23 and also having a main flight period in Aug and Sep

December Moth: A more seasonal item for Dec 22

Winter Moth: Also seasonal on Dec 22 - taken in Sussex and more unexpectedly at Portland

Mottled Umber: Another seasonal find in Sussex on Dec 22 - main flight period is December

The Satellite: Normally commonest in October one was taken at Portland on Dec 25

Dark Chestnut: This species has the same calendar as The Satellite so unusual in December at Portland

Angle Shades: Also trapped at Portland on Dec 23 this species normally appears in October

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The total number of species found flowering in December currently stands at 82 of which I have seen 69

Lesser Celandine: One flowering at yet another site in a ditch at Pook Lane, Warblington, on Dec 28

Hawthorn: Buds were opening on the tree by the Hermitage stream in Leigh Park on Dec 26 and I have included it in the flowering species

Hazel: A second tree had flowering catkins on Dec 26

Dog's Mercury: My earliest ever find of the fresh young plants of this species (complete with their flower heads, as yet unopen) was of a dozen plants in Pook Lane at Warblington on Dec 28.

Alexanders: The single clump of flowering plants seen on top of Portsdown on Dec 19 was supplemented on Dec 28 with a find of 20 more flowering plants lining the west side of the London Road climbing Portsdown from the Soutwick Hill Road junction

Elder: The first fresh leaves were beginning to unfurl in Pook Lane at Warblington on Dec 28

Blue Fleabane: One flowering plant found on Portsdown on Dec 28

Snowdrop: Brian Felllows found these flowering in the Lumley Road area of Emsworth on Dec 24

OTHER WILDLIFE

Slow-worm: A young one seen on Dec 24 by a road near allotments in the Hastings area - very late in the year (they normally hibernate underground from October to March)


Summary for Dec 17 - 23 (Week 51 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: On Dec 18 Dungeness recorded 350 of these passing to the west - presumably fleeing colder weather in the North Sea.

Black-throated Diver: Last week one was seen to fly north from the Gosport shore of Portsmouth Harbour and maybe it has returned as on Dec 16 one was seen in the Weevil Lake area just south of Burrow Island (aka Rat Island) which in turn is just south of the mouth of Forton Lake, the mouth of which is crossed by the new Millenium Bridge to reach the Explosion Museum. On Dec 19 two of these birds were seen to the west of Selsey Bill

Great Northern Diver: One seems to be currently based in Southampton Water, operating between the Weston Shore and Hythe (this one has not been reported since Dec 18 and may have moved west - two were in the Lymington area on Dec 19). Another is quite likely to be seen in the Chichester Harbour entrance at high tide.

Great Crested Grebe: The only winter flock exceeding 100 birds along the south coast remains in Rye Bay where an estimated 150 were seen on Nov 25 and at least 100 were present on Dec 17

Red-necked Grebe: The bird which arrived in Anglesey Lake at Gosport on Dec 14 was still there on Dec 17 but has not been reported since. Another bird has been at Dungeness from Dec 19 to 21 at least

Slavonian Grebe: Three were seen in the Lymington area on Dec 16

Black-necked Grebe: At least three were seen in the north of Langstone Harbour from Budds Mound on Dec 17 and it is likely that the flock of 13 birds is still in the harbour but scattered. Two of these birds now seem to be based at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood.

Shag: The first report of one in the Langstone Harbour entrance for this winter came on Dec 17 - in previous winters one or two have spent periods in this area, sometimes seen near the ferry and sometimes round by The Kench.

Bittern: One seen at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 20 was the first there this winter, perhaps driven there by the cold. The same cold seems to have brought up to 4 Bitterns to Titchfield Haven where 4 were reported on Dec 21 and at least 2 were seen on Dec 22

Bewick's Swan: Four adults were seen at Pulborough Brooks on Dec 17 but so far it does not seem that a flock has settled in the Amberley area (the only report from the Wild Brooks area was of six birds there on Nov 29)

Whooper Swan: Four adults and one juvenile were on the Trout Lakes at Chichester on Dec 16

Black Swan: I drove past the West Ashling pond on my way home from Chichester to Havant on Dec 19 and found one adult standing in the road at the east end of the pond and a pair with one tiny downy cygnet grazing in a garden at the west end of the pond. On Nov 8 Brian Fellows found two pairs of adults here, one pair having 5 new hatched cygnets. Hopefully that family is still intact and what I saw was the progeny of the second pair but I fear it is more likely that the one cygnet I saw is the only survivor of the family of five.

Red-breasted Goose: Both this lone bird and the single Brant continue to be seen daily at West Wittering (at least up to Dec 21)despite daily distubance by dogs

Pintail: Nine birds were seen at Farlington Marshes on Dec 18 (five had been seen there on Oct 7 but I have seen no other news of the species at this site)

Pochard: Despite my failure to see any Pochard at Budds Farm pools on Dec 11 a dozen were present there on both Dec 16 and 17

Scaup: On Dec 17 there were 10 in Poole Harbour (Swineham area) and 7 more at Abbotsbury on The Fleet. The two that were at Normandy (Lymington) have not been reported since Dec 3 and Dorset seems to be the only place to see them at the moment.

Eider: There were at least 58 on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Dec 17

Long-tailed Duck: The two birds in the Lymington area have not been reported since Dec 16 but one was still being seen on Hove Lagoon (Brighton) up to Dec 21

Common Scoter: The winter flock in Rye Bay numbered at least 200 on Dec 17 and 60 were settled in the Chesil area of Portland on Dec 22

Velvet Scoter: Six of these were still with the flock of Common Scoter at Chesil Cove on Dec 22

Goldeneye: A sighting of 12 in the north of Langstone Harbour, seen from Budds Mound on Dec 17, was the highest count there this month though 23 were reported to be in the harbour on Nov 12 and 15 were seen from the South Moors shore on Nov 17. On Dec 16 three males were seen off the shore east of Langstone.

Smew: Six (including two males) were at Rye Harbour on Dec 17 but so far none have come further west.

Ruddy Duck: The pair were seen together on the Budds Farm pools on Dec 16

Marsh Harrier: The increasing numbers of this species were demonstrated by the finding of 29 birds coming to roost in the Walland Marsh area adjacent to Rye Bay on the evening of Dec 16. One was also seen hunting at Titchfield Haven on Dec 19 - it seems likely that one had been present there since Nov 10 though I have only seen news of it on Nov 24 until this latest sighting. Another was over the Brading Marshes on the Isle of Wight on Dec 20

White-tailed Sea Eagle: The Hampshire bird was still being seen in the Andover area up to at least Dec 19 though it seems to have taken to roaming over an increasingly wide area.

Avocet: 8 were seen at Farlington Marshes on Dec 18 and at least 3 were in Pagham Harbour on Dec 19

Golden Plover: More than 80 were seen on the Langstone to Warblington shore line on Dec 16 - a similar flock is probably to be seen there regularly now (I found an estimated 100 birds there on Dec 21)

Sociable Lapwing: One of these rarities from Afghanistan turned up on Dec 21 at Grove Ferry in the Stour valley east of Canterbury. Martyn Wilson, who found it, wrote .. "With the intention of checking Westbere and Collard's today for Ducks & Grebes after a quick stop at Grove for Geese/Swans etc, I was halted at Grove with a wader with Sabines Gull like plumage dropping in with the Lapwings. It was of course a Sociable Plover that joined 30 odd Lapwings just before 8 o'clock before taking flight at 8.10 and with the appearance of going to land on a back pool, eventually flew of to the SSE in the general direction of Preston. Although staying at the ramp and scanning the skyline and checking every Lapwing that moved it was not seen again by the time I left at 1.45pm". Checking the Birdguides website I see this is the first definite sighting of this species in Britain since one was at Rainham Marshes in Essex from Dec 10 to 20 in 2005 although there was a 'probable' in Norfolk on 14 Feb 2006. Some birders, including myself, know this species under the name of Sociable Plover, which was also the name of a pub in the Paulsgrove area of Portsmouth in the days when I was involved in Portsmouth Harbour WeBS counts.

Knot: 245 of these were in Pagham Harbour on Dec 19

Sanderling: 50 birds were seen on the Southsea shore east of the Castle on Dec 18 and at least four were at the Langstone Harbour entrance on Dec 17. I think these birds are all part of a larger flock which circulates around the Ryde, Gosport, Portsmouth and Hayling Island shores throughout the winter

Purple Sandpiper: Seven were at Southsea Castle on Dec 18

Jack Snipe: Hard weather has, as usual, brought an increase in the sightings of this species with reports of singles at seven different sites ranging from Worthing to Portland (including one in the New Forest) between Dec 17 and 22

Woodcock: Only one new report of this species has come with the cold - one at Portland Bill on Dec 19

Bar-tailed Godwit: More than 60 were on the Langstone-Warblington shore on Dec 16, as were 30+ Black-tailed Godwit.

Spotted Redshank: The Nore Barn bird was still present (plus one Greenshank) on the shore west of Emsworth on Dec 21 when a group of five were seen in Poole Harbour at Holes Bay

Green Sandpiper: Just one report this week of two birds at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood

Common Sandpiper: One was seen on the Langstone shore (near the Royal Oak) on Dec 16 - probably one of the three birds believed to be wintering in Langstone Harbour? The only other report this week is of on in Poole Harbour on Dec 21

Ring-billed Gull: The regular Gosport bird was at the Cockle Pond again on Dec 16 and a second winter bird was inland at Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Dec 13

Glaucous Gull: The young bird which arrived in the Shoreham Harbour/Southwick Canal area on Dec 11 was still there on Dec 22

Great Blackback Gull: A total of 109 were in Christchurch Harbour on Dec 18

Sandwich Tern: One was resting on the mud among the many gulls off Langstone Village on Dec 16 (where Brian Fellows saw one resting on Oct 17 - Anne de Potier probably saw the same bird fishing in the Nore Barn area at Emsworth on Nov 29). The only other report this week was of one at Dungeness on Dec 21

Guillemot: More than 200 were still on the breeding ledges at Durlston on Dec 19 and 21

Little Auk: One was still being seen daily in the Shoreham Harbour/Southwick Canal on Dec 22 (there since Dec 12 if not earlier)

Great Spotted Woodpecker: The bird which operates around Wade Court at Langstone, and which started drumming on Dec 3, was heard again (not for the first time) on Dec 22

Woodlark: A flock of up to 25 have been seen on a stubble field in the Henfield area (Adur valley) but the numbers have declined as the field has been progressively ploughed (down to 5 birds by Dec 18)

Water Pipit: Three were present at the Sidlesham Sewage Works (Pagham Harbour area) on Dec 19 - the first report from that area except for a report of a single bird somewhere round the harbour on Nov 15

Song Thrush: A further influx of these and other birds arrived from the south on Dec 18 and 19 (when 90 arrived at Portland). Maybe one seen searching for food in my garden on Dec 19 was part of this influx.

Mistle Thrush: In previous winters I have normally come across at least one in my home area around Havant by this time in the autumn/winter period but so far the nearest birds that I have seen reported have been in the area north of Walderton (Ems valley) or at Hook/Warsash, and in neither place has there been more than two birds. The only report that I have seen of more than 8 birds anywhere on the south coast this autumn was a flock of 37 at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley on Aug 12.

Marsh Tit: A few of these are still around - latest reports are of one in a Woodberry Lane garden at Rowlands Castle on Dec 16, one or more at Lavington Common near Pulborough on Dec 17 with others in Rackham Woods south of Pulborough that day, and at least three birds in the Southwick Woods just north of Portsdown on Dec 21

Coal Tit: These small birds are not easy to pick out by eye but one has recently been the most often heard songster around my Havant garden and on Dec 18 I came face to face with it in my garden. Blue and Great Tits have also been singing recently, but only occasionally.

Tree Creeper: Four reports of these birds during the past week (no doubt in part on account of trees now being bare of leaves). Locally three were in the Southwick Woods on Dec 21, at least one in the Rowlands Castle area and another near Up Marden (north of Walderton)

Great Grey Shrike: Only two were found in the New Forest on the week-end of Dec 15-16 survey but what seems to be a third bird was reported near Holmsley on the old rail line from Ringwood to Lymington on Dec 21

House Sparrow: The cold weather and my scattering of bread and seed on the lawn in my garden has recently brought at least 10 of these daily into the garden with up to five Chaffinch and the regular Dunnocks and Robins, not to mention up to 18 Wood Pigeons, three Collared Doves, three Crows, two Magpies and one or two Blackbirds. A single Starling was bathing in one of the water troughs on Dec 18 and both Squirrels and Rats join the fray.

Linnet: A small flock of around 25 birds was in the Warblington Farm field behind Conigar Point on Dec 22 - also in the same field were a dozen Skylarks, half a dozen Reed Buntings and at least one male Yellowhammer.

Twite: A single bird has been seen in the Keyhaven area of the Lymington shore from Dec 16 to 20. The only other Twite sightings I am aware of this winter have been one at Durlston on Oct 29, four at Northwood on the Isle of Wight on Nov 15, and two at Faversham on the north Kent coast on Nov 25.

Redpoll: The small brown Lesser Redpoll which breeds in southern England is seen regularly but on Dec 16 a Common Redpoll (which we used to call a Mealy Redpoll) was trapped at Sandwich Bay and a photo on their website shows it alongside a Lesser Redpoll, looking both larger and greyer overall. Another report of a single Common Redpoll came from the Swalecliffe area of the north Kent coast that same day, so there may have been a minor influx of this species (which breeds further north than the Lessers but overlaps them in southern Norway though it does not interbreed). No reports yet of any Arctic Redpolls which only breed in arctic regions and which are even larger and whiter (one was described as a 'snowball')

Bullfinch: Our breeding population is considerably increased by immigrants in winter and their presence has led to a number of recent reports - locally Michael Prior has come across up to eight different birds in the Rowlands Castle area during the past week. I am intrigued by a Sussex report on Dec 18 from the Loxwood area near Pulborough in which the observer writes of seeing 'the usual flock' but gives no idea of its size or previous sightings.

Lapland Bunting: What was probably the same single bird first seen in the Lymington area on Nov 17 and again on Dec 6 was again present on Dec 19

Yellowhammer: A flock of around 20 was seen in the Marsh Farm area north of Pagham Harbour on Dec 18 (and at least one was at Warblington Farm here in Havant on Dec 22)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

The only insect to get a mention in this week's news so far is a Peacock butterfly seen nectaring on Winter Heliotrope at Piddinghoe in the Sussex Ouse valley on Dec 18 (the insect was probably rudely disturbed from its hibernation by some human activity)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The number of plant species found flowering so far this December currently stands at 76 (excluding Broom and Lesser Periwinkle both of which have been reported in error for Spanish Broom and Intermediate Periwinkle respectively). My own score this month is currently 60.

Sticky Mouse-ear: I was surprised to find this still having fresh flowers on Dec 22 after severe frost in the exposed Warblington farm field behind Conigar Point

Hawthorn: On 28 Dec 2006 I found a Hawthorn tree covered with flowers (but with no leaves) by the Hermitage Stream in the Stockheath area of Leigh Park and earlier this month I found many unopen flowerbuds on the same tree and am pretty sure some of the flowers will be open before the end of this month. The tree is easy to find - go from Barncroft Way along Stockheath Lane and veer away from the road along the path following the east bank of the stream until that path is crossed by a huge metal pipe whose base is less than six feet above the path. Do not go under the pipe but turn left and follow the pipe for a few yards until you reach a line of bushes and small trees - the Hawthorn in question is among the first trees you come to but you may have to look carefully to see the flowers most of which are above eye level.

Alexanders: On Dec 14 the Rye Bay website had a photo of Alexanders already in flower at Rye Harbour, causing me to check local plants (in particular those lining the London Road coming up Portsdown Hill from Cosham which are usually the first I see in flower). No luck until Dec 19 when I found flowers on one plant growing on the south side of the Portsdown Hill Road almost exactly opposite Hilltop Crescent (not far east of the bridge over the London Road near The George pub).

Intermediate Periwinkle: The Rye Bay website has just published a correction to the report dated Dec 7 that Lesser Periwinkle had been found in flower near Rye - the plants in flower were in fact the Intermediate Periwinkle.

Tomato: Garden escape Tomato plants are not at all uncommon and will grow almost anywhere (on Oct 3 Brian Fellows found a plant flowering among seaweed on the shore of Emsworth harbour) but I thought it worth noting one seen in flower on Dec 19 growing from the stones of Chichester Town Walls beside the arch through which you enter the city along Chapel Street from the Orchard Road section of the ring road.

Field Woundwort: Several plants of this still had fresh flowers on Dec 22 in the Warblington farm shore field.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Dolphins: Fisherman working off Portland reported around 20 Dolphins passing there on Dec 21 - at a guess these were Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Muntjac: A birder looking for the White-tailed Sea Eagle near Andover obtained permission to watch from the ancient hill fort on Quarley Hill (a little north of Grateley rail station south west of Andover) and saw a group of five Muntjac walking openly over the normally undisturbed fields at the foot of the hill - as none of them had antlers he at first assumed they were Chinese Water Deer but so far as is known there are none of these in Hampshire and the animals were probably female/young Muntjac. The same birder also saw a couple of Hares on the hill.

Grey Squirrel: White forms of Grey Squirrel are regularly seen in many places around Portsmouth but a sighting of one in Alexandra Park at Hastings on Dec 20 provoked local interest there.

Harvest Mouse: During conservation work at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Dec 16 what was almost certainly a Harvest Mouse nest was discovered while clearing brambles. Another nest was discovered at the same site in October 2004 and on that occasion a small mouse was seen scurrying away from the nest so there is a good chance that Harvest Mice are permanent residents living and breeding at Brook Meadow over a period of years.

The BBC Nature website tells us that Harvest Mouse "breeding nests are built in stems high above the ground. The spherical nests are made from woven grass and are about 10cm in diameter. Non-breeding nests are smaller (5cm in diameter) and may be built closer to the ground or in buildings" It goes on to say that their breeding season is from May to October, making it likely that the 2004 find was of a breeding nest, and I suspect that the current find (measured as 8cm across, which would imply a diameter of at least 10 cm) was probably also a breeding nest though by December abandoned in favour of a smaller winter hideaway close to the ground (perhaps among tree roots) or in some unused building. I am awaiting news of the height at which the nest was found as I read that breeding nests are built from 30 to 60 cm above ground (while winter nests are close to or even below ground level).

I also read that the mice can be encouraged to breed by supplying them with old tennis balls as ready made nests - all you do is to cut a round hole in the side of the ball to act as an entrance and place the ball securely in a suitable place among long grass (you can nail the ball to a wooden stake). One other fact that I have learnt from reading of their presence at Titchfield Haven, where they nest in the reeds, is that the mice are quite happy to swim if the reeds have water at their base. Further proof that Harvest Mice are still to be found in our area came with the discovery in August this year of another breeding nest on Portsdown Hill (somewhere between the London Road and the popular viewpoint carpark just west of the road).

Otter: I am told that one of Richard Williamson's recent 'nature notes' columns in the Chichester Observer reports that on Nov 29 an Otter was found dead (presumably electrocuted as are quite a few Badgers and other animals) on the rail line between Rowlands Castle and Havant. At a guess this would have been a young animal recently expelled from its parents' territory. I understand that Otters regularly make long overland journeys to find a new river in which they can set up their own territory.


Summary for Dec 10 - 16 (Week 50 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Plenty of these about but a count of 24 off Portland Bill on Dec 11 caught my eye as being more than we are likely to see together off the Hamsphire coast - nevertheless this is by no means a record. Dungeness reported 30 on Jan 15 and 40 on Jan 26 this year with a year peak of 87 on Feb 16 (also 60 on Rye Bay on Feb 18 and 67 off Bexhill on Feb 19). In the autumn Dungeness had 35 on Nov 6 and the Brighton area reported 27 on Nov 18. (I think that it is not uncommon to have counts of over 100 in some Cornish bays in winter months). On Dec 15 Christchurch Harbour recorded 24 Red-throated Divers heading east so maybe we will be seeing more of them in Hampshire waters

Red-necked Grebe: One appeared on Anglesey Lake in Gosport on Dec 14 and was still there next day. It was seen to be catching fish which grow to a good size in this dammed off west end of the Haslar/Stoke lake creek coming west from the Portsmouth Harbour entrance. I am not sure if the dam was created as part of the construction of the private railway line used by Queen Victoria as part of her route from London to Osborne House on the IoW but the bridge which carried that railway over the creek is above the dam (no railway now, just a cycle way!). The highest tides overtop this dam, bringing new fish into Anglesey lake, but few of them leave by the same route!

Leach's Storm Petrel: One was in the east Solent off Titchfield Haven for most of the day on Dec 9

Cattle Egret: The two birds discovered by Mike Collins on Dec 7 in fields by the River Lavant where it runs between Goodwood airfield and the Summersfield area of Chichester (accessible by paths starting from Fordwater Road in Summersfield) were still there on Dec 11 when another two could be seen in Dorset at the Upwey site where there had been a group of six on Nov 25 and 26

Spoonbill: Eight were seen together in the Swineham area (west shore of Poole Harbour) on Dec 14 and at least two are still in the Weymouth area

Bewick's Swan: One was seen at East Holme near the River Frome just west of Wareham on Dec 15 - two had been seen here on Nov 20

Canada Goose: The 'white' bird which has been seen occasionally for a good few years in the Titchfield-Fareham area (particuarly since 2003) was with the flock at Titchfield Haven on Dec 11

Barnacle Goose: A flock of 55 was seen grazing in the Barcombe area upstream of Lewes on Dec 13. A flock was also here last winter (30 seen there on 20 Feb 2007) and maybe they were returning from abroad when a flock of 48 flew north over Newhaven on Sep 26? Against the idea that these are wild birds is a report by Robin Pepper (onetime Sussex Bird Recorder) of 33 at Barcombe on 15 Feb 2006 - Robin described these as ferals with some hybrids but it seems strange that the flock only appears in winter and (this year) possibly arriving from the sea. We also have the appearance of a flock of 80 Barnacles at Rye Harbour (Scotney) on Dec 4 with a colour ringed bird among them to suggest a wild origin.

Red-breasted Goose: The bird at West Wittering continues to show well up to Dec 15 (as does the Brant)

Gadwall: A recent influx which brought 94 birds to the Powdermill reservoir near Hastings also seems to have brought a couple of pairs to the Bedhampton Mill pool in Havant (seen on Dec 11). On Dec 15 eight birds on the Thorney Little Deeps were also, as far as I know, new arrivals.

Pochard: I could see none on the Budds Farm pools on Dec 11 and a look at reports from other sites shows only two reports of Pochard in December (16 at Bembridge on Dec 1 and 3 at Christchurch Harbour on Dec 15) despite large counts of other duck species - have the Pochard all moved out of our area?

Scaup: On Dec 15 a group of 10 were seen in Poole Harbour and 10 were also reported from Abbotsbury on The Fleet near Weymouth that day - possibly these two reports were of the same flock on the move west but in any case the numbers suggest a small influx.

Eider: More than 60 were seen on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Dec 15

Long-tailed Duck: One remains on Hove Lagoon, as do two at Rye Harbour

Goosander: The roost count at the Ringwood Blashford Lakes was up to 64 on Dec 13 (and included 20 males)

Ruddy Duck: One was seen on Budds Farm pools on Dec 11

Rough-legged Buzzard: With the claim that one was being seen in the Petersfield (Q E country park) area in mind I was interested to see that Lee Evans 'national rare bird alert' this week suggests that only three birds of this species are currently in Britain (one on Sheppey in Kent, one in Norfolk and one in Orkney)

White-tailed Sea Eagle: Our unexpected vistor from Finland was still present in the Shipton Bellinger area west of Andover on Dec 15

Common Crane: At the end of November Lee Evans reported 27 Common Crane in Norfolk making me wonder if our British colony of these birds was diminishing but his latest bulletin restores the total to 32 birds.

Black-tailed Godwit: The largest count reported this week was 147 birds in the Fishburne Channel near Chichester, seen on Dec 12.

Med Gull: A flock of around 50 were in the Church Norton area of Pagham Harbour on Dec 8 and a similar number were in The Fleet near Weymouth on Dec 9

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was still at the Cockle Pond on Dec 15. Another was seen at Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Dec 10 and a first winter bird was on the Weir Wood reservoir near Crowborough on Dec 12

Glaucous Gull: On Dec 11 a first winter bird appeared at Dungeness and on the same day a similar bird was found in the Shoreham harbour extension known as the Southwick canal - this latter bird was still there on Dec 12 and had attracted sufficient birders with their telescopes to bring out the local Police (who had been informed that 'suspicious people' were pointing what might be weapons, i.e.scopes, at the Texaco fuel depot on whose roof the gull had landed. No arrests were made). Daily sightings have continued up to Dec 15 and the last report says that by feeding bread to the Swans and other gulls you can attract the Glaucous Gull to close range - it seems to come to see what all the commotion is about, and is not interested in the bread as food (or maybe doen't understand that it can be food)

Kittiwake: A count of 1100 heading west past Dungeness on Dec 9 suggests that we may soon be seeing more of this species (so far the biggest count has been of around a dozen birds in the west Solent)

Guillemot: On Dec 9 Dungeness reported 630 of these heading west, and numbers at Durlston are increasing - on Dec 12 more than 200 in breeding plumage were crowded on the cliff ledges there and by Dec 14 the number on the ledges had increased to an estimated 300+

Little Auk: On Dec 9 single birds were seen in the Christchurch Bay area (from Milford) and in Poole Harbour (Brownsea Island), and on Dec 15 one was still in Shoreham Harbour (seen daily there since Dec 12)

Wood Pigeon: Despite the large number apparently heading abroad during the autumn passage there are still many with us. On Dec 13 Bob Chapman found 3600 in one field near New Milton and on Dec 14 Brian Fellows encountered a flock of 800 in the Watergate Park area in the valley near the source of the River Ems

Collared Dove: These has been a noticeable increase in the number of these heard singing in the Havant area this week

Ring-necked Parakeet: In response to my recent comments based on an article printed in The Times in 2005 I have heard that the huge number roosting in the Poplar trees around the Esher Rugby Club's playing fields has been somewhat reduced (in part by the employment of a falconer) but there are still enough to fill 15 of the 40 Poplar trees each night and to bring up to 11 to feed in one Esher garden by day.

Short-eared Owl: Two are regularly being seen hunting down the west side of Pagham Harbour since the start of November - last seen on Dec 15

Skylark: A flock of more than 200 birds were seen at Round Hill on the West Sussex Downs above Steyning on Dec 13

Marsh Tit: One was heard singing in Rackham Woods (south of Pulborough) on Dec 10 and six were found in the Chichester West Dean Woods on Dec 11. Two more were visiting feeders on Dec 14 in the garden of the cottage on the west side of the B2146 south of West Marden where it passes Watergate Hanger

Willow Tit: One was reported to be visiting feeders at Pulborough Brooks on Dec 10. This news sent me to check what other reports of this 'almost extinct' species I have come across this year. The first news (on Jan 5) came from the Hastings area but that was just a negative report saying that none had been seen there last winter. On Feb 24 one was heard calling in the Chichester West Dean Woods, with a report of song, display and calls there on Mar 12, and from Mar 15 to Apr 21 there were six reports of breeding birds (several birds heard singing) at Hurstbourne Common Wood (SU 3752 near Andover). There was also one report on Apr 9 of at least two birds singing in the Overton area near the source of the River Test. That total of 11 reports is all that I have in my database for this year.

Coal Tit: One was singing near my Havant garden (and another at Durlston) on Dec 11, along with both Blue and Great Tits, and all three species seem to be singing fairly regularly by Dec 16

Chaffinch: Autumn finch passage is not yet over - on Dec 10 more than 500 Chaffinch flew over Durlston with these and other finches passing over several coastal sites. On Dec 14 a mixed Finch flock of 500+ (mainly Chaffinch) was in the Brownwich area west of Titchfield Haven and on Dec 16 five came to seed scattered on my Havant garden lawn

Brambling: A flock of more than 110 were feeding at Longwood Warren east of Winchester on Dec 7 but in south Buckinghamshire we are told (by Lee Evans) that there is a flock of 676 Brambling. On Dec 14 at least 30 were feeding on Beechmast beside the Romsey Road in the Winchester area

Hawfinch: First report for this winter of these birds in the West Dean Woods (north of Chichester) came on Dec 11 when a couple of them were seen near Monkton House in the north west corner of this large woodland complex

Lapland Bunting: The Lymington area bird was seen again on Dec 12 (out on the shingle of Hurst spit) and another one was at Portland on Dec 12

Corn Bunting: A flock of 30 were seen on Round Hill high above Steyning (north of Worthing) on Dec 10 and on Dec 15 a flock of at least 75 were in fields near Lee Farm on the Downs above Storrington (south of Pulborough)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

The only current insect news is of a single Red Admiral flying around the Pagham Harbour visitor centre on Dec 11 plus late news of a Peacock seen somewhere in Portsmouth sometime in the week starting Dec 3

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The number of species seen in flower during December currently stands at 73 but many of these are 'last gasp' inividual plants. My personal list for December has 54 species on it so far.

Sweet Violet: The first three flowers had opened on plants in St Faith's churchyard, Havant, on Dec 14

Musk Mallow: One flowering plant seen in December in the Denvilles area of Havant on Dec 13

Spanish Broom: A plant flowering on the north wall of Emsworth marina on Dec 15 had the larger flower (over 2cm long) and smooth round stems of Spanish Broom rather than the ridged (five angled) stems and smaller flowers of our native Broom

Fool's Parsley: One healthy plant with flowers seen in the Denvilles area of Havant on Dec 13

Alexanders: One plant in flower at Rye Harbour on Dec 14 - plenty of fresh new growth on plants in the Havant area but no flowers yet

Primrose: Commenting on the report of a Primrose in flower in Lyels Wood (Stansted Forest) on Dec 6 John Goodspeed tells us that he found one flowering in another part of the Forest back in early November. On Dec 12 Brian Fellows found several plants in flower at Kingston, just west of Lewes.

Blue Fleabane: Just two plants still had flowers on the banks of the A27 above the cycleway from Broadmarsh to Farlington Marshes on Dec 11

Ox-eye Daisy: A clump of these were also in flower on Dec 11 by the Langbrook stream (close to the waterwheel north of the A27)

Black Knapweed: Two plants flowering on Dec 11 in the Broadmarsh area.

OTHER WILDLIFE

Hare: A birder walking across farmland high on the Downs near Lewes on Dec 9 noted 3 Hares sticking to their 'forms' despite total exposure to wind and rain - presumably any suffering from cold and wet being preferable to being taken by surprise in more sheltered places. I wonder if their strategy for survival will change as the number of airborne predators (Buzzards and Eagles) increases?

Fungi: While delivering Christmas cards on Dec 13 I found a big display of Velvet Shank on oak wood chippings (normally this grows directly on tree stumps)


Summary for Dec 3 - 9 (Week 49 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Great Northern Diver: One was seen in Chichester Harbour off West Wittering on Dec 4 when two more were on the sea off the Ryde-Nettlestone shore of the IoW. Up to six seem to be resident in Weymouth Bay and on Dec 9 one was well up Southampton Water off Weston Shore.

Red-throated Divers have been seen at several sites in the past few days, but none nearer to us in Havant than Selsey Bill or Hurst Castle.

A Black-throated Diver was in Portsmouth Harbour on Dec 8, seen off the Quay Lane area (northern area of Gosport) from which it flew north and then headed up Fareham Creek

Black-necked Grebe: When Lee Evans visited the Budds Farm area of Havant on Dec 1 he saw 6 Black-necked Grebe, 6 Little Grebe and 17 Great Crested in Langstone Harbour. Keith Betton's monthly report on Hampshire birds for November tells us that 13 Black-necked were in Langstone Harbour thoughout November and these are presumably still there.

Fulmar: A few of these returned to their breeding cliffs on the IoW as early as Nov 18 and by Nov 25 some were back at Newhaven. More seem to have come into the Channel on Dec 8 when 50 were seen off Portland and the first were back on the cliffs north east of Hastings

Balearic Shearwater: I have seen no reports of this species since Oct 28 so sightings of singles off Portland on both Dec 4, 5 and 7 came as a bit of a surprise.

Petrels: Dec 2 brought definite sightings of one Leach's Petrel in the western Solent with the possibility of a single Storm Petrel also in the same area.

Shag: Following a count of 22 in the Christchurch Harbour area on Nov 28 there were 31 there on Dec 3 (and 30 there on Dec 8). These may well be the birds which nested on the western cliffs of the IoW where 27 birds and 5 nests were seen on June 6.

Cattle Egret: Until Dec 7 only one of these was being reguarly reported this week at Upton country park at Poole but on Dec 7 Mike Collins had a surprise sighting of two Cattle Egrets with some Little Egrets by the Lavant river at East Lavant on the northern fringe of Chichester - he could not find them again when he returned to that area a few hours later so they may have moved on....

Bewick's Swan: Four adults were seen at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 2, the first to be reported in the Avon Valley this winter other than four seen in the river south of Ringwood on Oct 28. Keith Betton's summary of Hampshire birds for November includes a mention of two seen in Langstone Harbour on Nov 25 (the first I have heard of this local sighting)

Greylag: John Goodspeed found 7 among the Canada Geese at Titchfield Haven on Dec 8, the first report of any there since September when 10 were reported on Sep 13 and 12 on Sep 28

Barnacle Goose: Two were among Brent on the fields south of Daw Lane on Hayling on Dec 2. These were almost certainly feral birds, as were a flock of around 80 seen at the Hersey nature reserve on the IoW east coast on Dec 4, but a flock of 80 seen at the Rye Harbour nature reserve contained a bird with a red colour ring suggesting that these might be genuine wild birds belonging to the population which regularly winters in the Netherlands. With this flock were nine hybrids (Barnacle x Snow).

Brent: On Dec 7 the flocks on the Hayling West Lane fields were estimated to have over 1000 birds - another 400 Brent were using the grassland on the Portsmouth side of the harbour around the Portsmouth Sixth Form College on Dec 7

Brant: The Hayling Daw Lane area bird was seen there again on Dec 2 (but has not been reported there since then) and the Wittering bird was seen on Dec 1 along with 3 Brent x Brant hybrids - they were among a total of around 2000 Brent in the West Wittering area

Red-breasted Goose: The West Wittering bird was seen on Dec 1, 3 and 4 - no reports since then

Green-winged Teal: One was reported at Abbotsbury on The Fleet near Weymouth on each of five days between Nov 11 and 19 and it was seen there again on Dec 2 and 3

Scaup: December reports have come from the Weymouth and Lymington areas. At Normandy (Lymington) two birds were still to be seen on Dec 3 but the juvenile male which has been there since Nov 25 seems to have vanished and been replaced by a male with a distinctive bill which was seen at Normandy last winter - the adult female remains in situ. Near Weymouth the 9 birds that were seen at Abbotsbury on Nov 26 and 27 have been reduced to 7, and 2 are at Lodmoor where there were 4 on Dec 2, increasing to 6 on Dec 6 with 5 still there on Dec 8

Eider: The highest count which I had seen from the Titchfield Haven area during November was 43 on Nov 17 but Keith Betton's November summary says that up to 56 birds were there throughout the month - so far I have seen no counts from there during December (at least 27 have been seen off Lymington on Dec 2).

Long-tailed Duck: Two remain in the Lymington area with another two at Rye Harbour and one in Poole Harbour. Since Dec 2 one has also been on Hove lagoon in the Brighton area (still there on Dec 6). One more bird was heading west past Dungeness on Dec 7

Common Scoter: Plenty of these around with the largest flock (200+ birds on Dec 8) being in Rye Bay

Surf Scoter: On Dec 6 a single female flew west close in past Selsey Bill in company with two female Common Scoter

Goldeneye: Hampshire reports for December include six in the north of Langstone Harbour seen from Budds Farm on Dec 1, seven at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 2, and eight in the Lymington area on Dec 3 when another five were in Newtown Harbour (IoW)

Smew: Two redheads were at Rye Harbour on Dec 4 - this is the first report from that site but there were five birds at the nearby Dungeness RSPB reserve on Nov 24 with one there from Oct 30

Red-breasted Merganser: 41 could be seen in the north of Langstone Harbour from Budds Farm on Dec 1

Goosander: The count at the Blashford Lakes remained at 48 on Dec 2 with 47 counted on Dec 7

Ruddy Duck: The elusive pair on Budds Farm pools in Havant were seen again on Nov 30

Rough-legged Buzzard: John Goodspeed's website reports that there had been several sightings of a Rough-legged Buzzard around the Queen Elizabeth country park near Petersfield at the end of November but I do not know who saw the bird and what degree of confidence can be attached to the identification of this species which is notoriously difficult to separate from Common Buzzard - I have not seen any other confirmatory reports.

White-tailed Sea Eagle: The bird in the Cholderton area near Andover seems to have been fully identified - on Dec 3 Lee Evans told us .. "I am very pleased to report that Jukka Haapala of the Ringing Centre in Helsinki has traced the Hampshire White-tailed Sea Eagle as being one of 18 nestlings ringed in Finnish Lapland this summer". Perhaps we will soon learn why a Sea Eagle should abandon water and fish for an inland dry site where rats are said to be among its diet - in the meanwhile the bird was still being seen in the Shipton Bellinger area on Dec 7

Avocet: On Dec 4 eight Avocet were in Nutbourne Bay near Chichester and on that same day 51 birds were seen at Oare Marshes on the north Kent coast - these were said to be from a roost based on Sheppey where there may well be a higher total, seeming to show that some of these birds which now breed on our east coast remain there in the winter (I thought that, in the winter, they could only be seen in Britain on the south coast and west country)

Golden Plover: The Rye Harbour flock exceeded 1000 birds on Dec 8

Black-tailed Godwit: So far no news of these birds moving to the Avon valley floods but after this week-end's rain the valley should be very attractive to them. One bit of late news comes from Keith Betton's November summary of Hampshire birds - he states that 400 birds were at Titchfield Haven in November (but gives no idea as to whether the birds were regular there or if this was a one off peak) - the only count from Titchfield Haven which appeared on Hoslist was of 77 birds there on Nov 17 (and it would seem that the volunteer who updates the Titchfield Haven website has been unable to perform that function since Oct 4)

Greenshank: Numbers in Chichester Harbour seem to have diminished to winter levels - in the past few days the only reported sightings were of one in Emsworth Harbour on Dec 3 and another in Nutbourne Bay on Dec 4

Green Sandpiper: No further news of birds around the Lymbourne stream in Havant but one was seen at Titchfield Haven on Dec 8

Common Sandpiper: Three birds were present in the Langstone Harbour area through November

Kittiwake: 110 were off Portland on Dec 2 and 235 flew west past Dungeness on Dec 7

Guillemot: More than 50 were seen briefly on the cliffs at Durlston on Dec 1 and on Dec 4 large rafts of these birds were on the sea off Durlston, most of them in breeding plumage (not sure if this is normal at this time of year). On Dec 8 the Durlston website reported more than 200 birds on the sea (including some Razorbills) and said that most were in winter plumage.

Little Auk: We haven't seen the last of them yet - on Dec 2 one was in Studland Bay and on Dec 3 one was seen floating down the Avon Water stream in the Keyhaven area near Lymington.

Ring-necked Parakeet: A report of one flying over the Lower Test area at Southampton on Dec 4 revived the perennial question of why we do not see more of these birds along the south coast (even the colony that seemed to be growing in the Studland area of Dorset is now down to less than 10 birds). Anyone who does not know of the rapid rate at which these birds are colonising Britain (and the Netherlands) should have a look at the article printed in The Times on 10 Sep 2005 and still available online at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article564768.ece

I quoted excerpts from this article in a message I sent to HOSLIST on Dec 5, saying ... The Times article claims that in 2005 the night roost at Esher Rugby Club grounds was estimated at 7000 birds and that "According to the latest scientific survey, the British parakeet population is increasing by 30 per cent a year, and is likely to reach 100,000 by the end of the decade". It goes on to say "Chris Butler, a biologist at the Edward Grey Institute in Oxford, has studied the parakeet population and now believes that they can no longer be controlled. Already, they outnumber barn owls, nightingales and kingfishers. They have also been spotted in Wales, and as far north as Glasgow" The article also tells us that "Mike Toms, of the British Trust for Ornithology, said that they tended to nest in the same places as native birds, and earlier. 'We need to be aware of the possible impact', he said. 'They nest in quite large cavities so they would be competing with birds like tawny owls and jackdaws'." It ends (after telling us how good Parakeets are at imitating sounds and how they seem to like the Esher Rugby ground) by saying "The residents of the stockbroker belt welcome the parakeets today but in a few years' time, if flocks of green parrots take to the suburban skies chanting filthy rugby songs, they may feel rather differently".

Barn Owl: On Nov 3 a pair were seen carrying food (presumably to young) in a Test Valley wood and on Nov 26 a pair of the owls were seen with two fledged young in the same area (and sadly one was recently found dead on the ground in that area). Lee Evans responded to this with news from a ringer (somewhere in Britain) who had ringed two broods this November, in one nest the birds were so young they were unlikely to fly before the end of November. It may seem late in the year for Barn Owls to have young but I see that a Barn Owl was seen hunting and carrying food (to young?) in the Pulborough area on 20 Nov 2005.

The BTO Bird Facts website tells us that Barn Owls normally have two broods (providing food is available) and gives an overall time of three months from egglaying to the young becoming independent. It also says that while the first clutch may be laid at any time from the end of March to early July the median date for egg-laying is May 6, thus giving the likely date at which a second clutch might be laid as sometime in August with the young of that second brood not being independent until sometime in November, so perhaps young Barn Owls in November are not that uncommon. Even less uncommon is the death of young Barn Owls - if they are not eaten by their older siblings when food is short they are very likely to starve to death after fledging (or to be killed by cars when hunting on road verges). If they do survive the first year another common cause of death is drowning in cattle troughs (the owls need to bathe and if no other water is available in their territory they will bathe in those steep sided metal cattle troughs from which they cannot get out after their feathers have become waterlogged).

Great Spotted Woodpecker: One had been heard drumming on Southampton Common on Nov 29 and now a second report comes from the Wade Court area of Langstone where one was heard on Dec 3

Rock Pipit: Keith Betton tells us that as many as 15 were present in Langstone Harbour during November (with 2 Water Pipits there)

Dunnock: Birds were singing in Havant on Dec 3 and in Emsworth on Dec 5 (but are not expected to start regular song until Christmas in normal years)

Song Thrush: The bird that has been singing around my house in Havant since Nov 20 is now being joined by others - since Nov 27 birds have been heard singing at Kingley Vale (north of Chichester), Pook Lane in Warblington (Havant), Cheriton Wood near Alresford and Brook Meadow in Emsworth (first heard there on Dec 4). Birds at Durlston had started singing by Dec 6 and on Dec 8 the Pett Level area resounded to the songs of many birds.

Mistle Thrush: These are normally heard singing during November gales but this year I saw only one report (a single bird singing at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 6) and it is not until Dec 7 that I have seen another report of song - at the Ringwood Blashford Lakes (the first Bob Chapman had heard this autumn)

Siberian Chiffchaff: One has been found in the Browndown shore gun battery area at Gosport and has been heard constantly giving quiet Bullfinch like calls unlike those of a normal Chiffchaff - discussion on Hoslist seems to indicate that these calls are the most reliable way of positively identifying this Eastern race (unlike the Iberian Chiffchaff the eastern race has not been granted the status of a full species, and the presence of far more intergrades between our Chiffchaffs and Eastern race birds, compared to the number of genuine Eastern race birds on which bird experts can agree, is a good reason for denying that full species status!)

Great Grey Shrike: In additon to the birds I have already reported this autumn I see from Keith Betton's November report that one was present in the Fleet area of north east Hampshire (near Great Bramshott Farm) thoughout November

Brambling: A flock of more than 110 Brambling was feeding with other finches at Longwood Warren (east of Winchester) on Dec 7

Lapland Bunting: One was seen among a huge flock of Chaffinches and Linnets on the Lymington marshes on Dec 6 - maybe the same bird that was seen there on Nov 17.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Red Admiral: Just one new sighting this week of a single Red Admiral in Heathfield near Crowborough on Dec 3

Moths

The only migrant moth in the Portland traps on Dec 4 was one Rusty-dot Pearl and on the previous night there had been four Rusty-dot Pearl and one White-speck

Other insects

Bumblebee species: The only other insect news of the last few days has been a sighting of a Bumblebee visiting flowers in a Northiam garden near Hastings. Brian Banks was not sure of the exact species (Bombus terrestris or B. lucorum) but did say that it was not a queen but a foraging worker - of interest as all the workers normallly die during the winter and only the queens survive.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Despite wind and rain 51 plant species (excluding grasses) have already been seen in flower during December. The more interesting ones have been ...

Lesser Celandine: The plants by the Lymbourne stream at Langstone still have only one open flower but on Dec 7 I found another single flower open in the Havant Eastern Road cemetery

Black Mustard: still flowering on the seawall of the Emsworth marina on Dec 3

Sea Radish: flowering on the Eastney beach (Portsmouth) on Dec 7

Water cress: at least one flowerhead seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Dec 5

Storksbill: one late flower seen at Langstone on Dec 3

Yellow Oxalis: a few unopen flower buds seen in Havant on Dec 7

Pellitory of the wall: flowering at Eastney beach on Dec 7

Hazel: the most interesting sighting this week was of catkins starting to open on a Hazel tree in the Langstone area on Dec 3 (see diary entry)

Cow Parsley: seen in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Dec 5

Stone Parsley: flowers seen on a plant in Brook Meadow at Emsworth on Dec 5 were unusually late

Sea Holly: a single very late flower seen on Eastney beach on Dec 7

Wild Primrose: Michael Prior found at least one genuine wild flower open in Lyels Wood, Stansted Forest, on Dec 6. In 2005 the earliest wild flowers I heard of were seen in the Botley Woods on Jan 9 and in 2006 the earliest were seen in Winchester on Jan 15. Going back to 2004 I myself saw what were probably garden escapes flowering beside the Langbrook stream in Havant as early as Nov 12 (but that year the wild ones in Botley Woods were not reported until 7 Feb 2004)

Lesser Periwinkle: Although they have not appeared on this December's list so far both Greater and Intermediate Periwinkle flowers could almost certainly now be found but genuine wild Lesser Periwinkle, flowering at Rye on Dec 7, was unexpected before Christmas. I have never seen these flowers in the wild before the first week in February

Silver Ragwort: This was still flowering on Eastney beach on Dec 7

OTHER WILDLIFE

Wild Boar: No actual sightings but a reminder that they are still present (and regarded as a nuisance) on the Kent/Sussex border comes from Cliff Dean writing on the RX website about a visit he made on Dec 3 to Doleham station on the railway line connecting Hastings to Rye. His comments were mainly concerned with the work being done to fell trees that might fall or drop branches onto the rail line but among the sightings he records in that area were two human hunters waiting patiently in the hope of shooting Wild Boar.

Great Crested Newt: Also coming from the RX website is news from Brian Banks, who lives at Northiam (in the Rother valley on the Hastings to Tenterden road), that the first Great Crested Newt had returned to a pond on the western edge of Northiam within the past few days (around Dec 1).

Bats: At least one bat (species not known) was out hunting by day over the West Park close to Stansted House on Dec 6

Fungi: Fungi seen at Durlston Country Park on Dec 9 included Orange Peel and Dead Man's Fingers


Summary for Nov 26 - Dec 2 (Week 48 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Twelve reports this week, mainly from the Portland area where four were in Portland Harbour on Nov 27. At least one was in the Solent off Fort Victoria on Dec 1

Black-throated Diver: Nine reports include a juvenile seen in the mouth of Chichester Harbour from Nov 27 to 30 (at least)

Great Northern Diver: On Nov 27 a total of six were seen in Weymouth Bay and on the previous day one was well inland on Weir Wood reservoir while another was in the Spithead area seen from the Isle of Wight (still there on Dec 1).

Great Crested Grebe: The usual winter flock in Rye Bay was estimated to have 150 birds on Nov 25 (looking back I see that there were 100+ off Pett as early as Oct 12). Nearer home Nov 26 brought counts of 50 on the sea off Worthing and 20+ off Pagham Harbour. I suspect there are now substantial numbers in both Langstone and Portsmouth Harbours but I have no news of them since Dennis Bill reported a flock of 29 in the north of Portsmouth Harbour on Oct 18.

Red-necked Grebe: A single was off Seaview (IoW) on Nov 26 and another was off Worthing on Nov 27

Slavonian Grebe: The usual winter flock seems to have returned to the sea off Pagham Harbour with an estimate of 12 birds there on Nov 26. The inland bird at Eastleigh from Nov 14 to 24 has not been seen since but may have flown to the Lymington area where one turned up on Nov 26 and was still there on Nov 27. Andy Johnson's report on birds in the Chichester Harbour entrance area during November tells us that up to two were there from Nov 14 to the end of the month

Black-necked Grebe: Two birds were seen off Lepe at the mouth of Southampton Water on Nov 24 and three were there on Nov 27 - I think this is a new site for them. In Dorset a total of 14 were seen in Studland Bay on Nov 27 (after a count of 21 there on Nov 17) and the single bird remains on the Blashford Lakes - no recent news from Langstone Harbour.

Fulmar: On Nov 18 Kris Gillam noted the first birds back around the Isle of Wight and on Nov 25 some had returned to the Newhaven area (on Nov 30 two pairs were seen on the cliffs there with a third pair flying in the area)

Wilson's Storm Petrel: No recent sightings in our area but a chance look at the seabird info held on the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme website (http://www.marine-life.org.uk/) surprised me with the fact that .. "Wilson’s Storm Petrel is possibly the commonest seabird in the world" Those of you who are interested in seabirds might find other interesting info via the drop-down list of birds at the top of the first page of this website. Since Wilson's Storm Petrel is regularly seen with our European Storm Petrel in the English Channel, and is very similar to it, there may well have been some among the birds seen from our shores this year and reported as Storm Petrels.

Cattle Egret: The four birds which turned up in the Poole Harbour area on Nov 3 seem to have been wandering around Dorset in varying numbers since then and this week there was a peak count of 6 on both Nov 25 and 26 at a farm near Upwey (halfway between Dorchester and Weymouth). Maybe they have moved and split up again as Nov 27 brought a report of one in the north of Poole Harbour and no mention of the Upwey birds). By Nov 29 four birds (probably those that have been at Upwey) were using Radipole as a night roost site (along with 67 Little Egrets).

Great White Egret: The single bird was still at the Blashford Lakes on Nov 30. A different bird flew south over Sandwich Bay in Kent on Nov 27

Glossy Ibis: Those who saw the Lancashire bird on the BBC Autumnwatch programme may be interested to know it was still based at Lytham St Anne's on Nov 27

Spoonbill: The flock of 26 birds seen at Brownsea Island at the end of October has long dispersed but there were still 6 birds at Arne in Poole Harbour on Nov 25. Since then there have been regular reports of two birds at Abbotsbury on The Fleet near Weymouth, but none from elsewhere.

Mute Swan: The largest flock/herd in our area is nowadays usually to be found in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester. On May 18 Brian Fellows found 110 there, with 112 there on Oct 23, but on Nov 29 he counted a year peak of 123. By chance this number (123) is the highest I have heard of anywhere this year and is exactly the same as the count of birds leaving the night roost at Rye Harbour on Feb 5 this year.

Bewick's Swan: A group of six birds (including one juvenile) were at Amberley Wild Brooks on Nov 29. Other than a one day visit to Pulborough Brooks by two birds on Nov 15 this is the first report from the Pulborough area this winter.

Brent Goose: A large flock has this week started to graze the Warblington Farm shore fields as they do each winter - on Nov 26 I found 30 in the field immediately south of the Old Rectory but the first sighting of a large flock there that I know of came on Nov 29 when Anne de Potier counted 476 in one of the shore fields east of Pook Lane

Pale-bellied Brent: In addition to the three birds that have been in the Ferrybridge area at Weymouth for some time one was seen in Pagham Harbour on Nov 29 and one appeared on the beach at Christchurch Harbour on Dec 1

Black Brant: In addition to the regular birds at West Wittering and Gosport (and the hybrid at Farlington Marshes) a new bird has appeared in the Langstone Harbour/west Hayling area. First report of it came from the fields south of Daw Lane (and east of West Lane) on Nov 29 - it was seen there again on Dec 1 when what was probably the same bird was also seen on the RSPB islands in Langstone Harbour.

Red-breasted Goose: The bird seen from Hayling on Nov 24 in the mouth of Chichester Harbour was not seen again until Nov 28 (again from Hayling) but closer views of it have been obtained in the West Wittering/East Head carpark Brent flock on Nov 30 and Dec 1. Stripes on its wings indicate it is a young bird. The only other bird of this species getting a mention on Lee Evans' national bird news is the long staying one at Caerlaverock in Scotland which is unlikely to have taken a day trip to the south coast.

Wood Duck: A very smart male Wood Duck turned up in Chichester Harbour on Nov 28 and was still there on Nov 29 (almost certainly an escape from captivity but lovely to look at - a photo of it on the CHOG website shows it apparently in full breeding plumage)

Scaup: In Hampshire the single female was still at Tundry Pond (west of Fleet) on Nov 26 and the two birds at Lymington are probably both still there though not reported since Nov 25 and could not be seen at Normandy Lake on Nov 26. In Dorset the number in the Abbotsbury Swannery area shot up to 9 birds on Nov 26 but only five were reported on Nov 29

Long-tailed Duck: Two remain at Rye Harbour (up to Nov 27) and at least one was still in Poole Harbour on Dec 1. The two at Lymington were last reported there on Nov 26 but a report of two over the Solent heading for Keyhaven seen from Fort Victoria (IoW) could have been the Lymington birds

Surf Scoter: Those who remember the brief visit paid to Langstone Harbour by one of these birds last December (before it flew on to the south Devon coast) should not expect to see it this winter as I expect it is the bird that went straight to the Devon coast on Nov 6 and is still there on Nov 27

Velvet Scoter: There seem to be more than usual of these around this winter but the Langstone Harbour birds have not been reported since Nov 21. Recent reports are of 3 at Rye Harbour on Nov 25, then on Nov 26 there were 2 in Portland Harbour, 2 in Poole Harbour and 1 in Pagham Harbour after which Nov 27 saw 4 off Lepe on Southampton Water, 3 in Studland Bay and 1 in Weymouth Bay. On Dec 1 one was over the west Solent, another in Christchurch Harbour (same bird?), and three were in the Portland area

Red-breasted Merganser: On Nov 26 there were 150 off Worthing and another 40+ on the sea off Pagham Harbour

Goosander: Numbers roosting at the Blashford Lakes continue to increase and by Nov 27 Bob Chapman estimated that the total was of over 40 birds, increasing on Nov 30 to a total of 48 birds including 17 drakes. Nov 25 also brought a peak count of 7 birds at Abbotsbury in Dorset though only 2 were there on Nov 26.

Red Kite: One was over the West Dean area north of Chichester on Nov 28 and at least five could be seen in the Faccombe area between Andover and Newbury on Dec 1

Rough-legged Buzzard: In addition to the two birds currently resident on Sheppey in Kent I see from Lee Evans' national news that a particularly tame bird can be seen if you go round the back of the MacDonald's store at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk

White-tailed Sea Eagle?: A young Eagle has been attracting many twitchers to the Cholderton area (near the A338 just south of its junction with the A303 west of Andover) since it arrived there on Nov 20 and is providing extra income for the landowner (who is charging £5 for car-parking at the view point he has cordoned off). To keep up this income he gets his gamekeeper to feed the bird near a pine tree in which the eagle perches to sleep off each meal, giving the twitchers a brief view of the bird (at a distance of 500 metres) once or twice a day as it flies up from the ground to the tree. Distant views show that the bird has rings on both legs and these seem to indicate that it was ringed as a youngster this year in Finland.

Avocet: On Oct 12 Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour reported the presence of 1150 Avocets and that increased to 1247 on Oct 29. Now on Nov 26 there is a count of 511 Avocets from the Middlebere Penninsula area of Poole Harbour some 4 to 5 km west of the Brownsea Island lagooon area but I have no idea if this means that the flock at Brownsea has increased to the extent that some of the birds have had to move elsewhere in the harbour or if this is the total flock which has halved its number. Latest report is of 7 in Pagham Harbour on Dec 1

Golden Plover: Recent reports of flocks have come from the Lymington marshes (200+ on Nov 27), West Wittering (200 on Nov 29), and Rye Harbour (400 on Dec 1)

Sanderling: The only significant counts this week have come from Rye Harbour with between 100 and 200 there on three days - nothing special about that but it gives me a peg on which to hang news from Brian Banks (on the RX website) telling us how the world famous shingle beach at Dungeness has recently begun to accrete sand and how a small sand dune system (complete with Marram Grass to anchor it) has recently appeared.

Little Stint: The bird wintering at West Wittering has regularly appeared in the Black Point high tide roost on Hayling throughout November, and the young bird which seems to have been in Poole Harbour since Aug 30 was still there on Nov 26.

Purple Sandpiper: 8 were at Southsea Castle on Dec 1 and on Nov 29 there were 10 at Newhaven

Black-tailed Godwit: The birds wintering in Chichester Harbour this winter are currently showing a strong preference for the eastern end of the harbour. This week counts in the Emsworth to Langstone area have found less than 20 birds as against 164 in the Fishbourne Channel (Apuldram) area plus 142 in Colner Creek (just north of Bosham), counted simulaneously on Nov 29. On Nov 30 a flock of around 150 was at the Blashford Lakes - I think this an early date for them to arrive in the Avon valley - at the end of 2006 there was just one report of 420 birds in the valley south of Ringwood on Dec 17 before a report of 2000+ in the valley on Jan 7 this year and over 1000 at Blashford on Mar 9, dropping to 200+ there on Mar 10 with no other counts of more than 3 birds there until now

Spotted Redshank: The Nore Barn area bird at Emsworth continues to show well - I saw it on Nov 26 and Brian Fellows saw it on Nov 28.

Greenshank: Numbers seem to have dropped off with just one bird found between Emsworth and Langstone on Nov 28

Green Sandpiper: There were a few sightings in the Havant area in the autumn (one at Budds Farm on Sep 29 and Oct 8 with up to three seen flying over the area of the spring where the Lymbourne stream rises sometime in September). Those birds presumably flew on but now, on Nov 27, two more birds have been seen flying over the Lymbourne spring area and this may well indicate that birds have arrived to stay and spend the winter with us here in the Havant area.

Sandwich Tern: Up to two Sandwich Terns were seen in the Chichester Harbour entrance area on five dates during November and on Nov 29 what was probably one of these two was seen fishing off Nore Barn west of Emsworth.

Guillemot: More than 50 were briefly on the cliffs at Durlston on Dec 1

Little Auk: A few continue to pass along our shores on their way from the North Sea to the Atlantic. On Nov 25 singles were seen from Seaview on the IoW, in the Lymington area and at Portland. On Nov 26 three were seen off Worthing and one at Newhaven, and on Nov 27 two were seen at Brighton marina. On Nov 28 two were seen at Christchurch and on Dec 1 one was released in Weymouth Harbour having been found and taken into care from The Fleet area

Puffin: One was seen at Durlston on Nov 26. Of the 18 reports I have seen this year 14 have been from the Dorset coast (with a peak count of 9 birds at Durlston on June 22), but there have been three Hampshire sightings (2 at Hurst spit on Apr 21, 1 at Sandy Point on Hayling on May 10 and 1 at Milford (near Lymington) on Aug 15. Sussex has had just one sighting of a single seen distantly off Selsey Bill on Oct 25

Collared Dove: I have heard these singing in Havant on at least two days this week

Little Owl: One has been seen regularly in the Sandy Point area of Hayling throughout December and a pair are said to have been regularly seen recently in Forestside village area north of Stansted Forest though one of these has recently been found dead on the road

Great Spotted Woodpecker: The first report of one drumming out its spring territorial signal came from Southampton Common on Nov 29. Last year the first report of drumming came from Bob Chapman at the Blashford Lakes on Dec 4 with birds at other sites starting on Dec 17 (Durlston), Dec 21 (Cheriton Wood near Alresford and the Sway area near Lymington), and Dec 24 (Brighton)

Swallow: Latest sightings have been in the Thanet area of Kent on Nov 25 and at Durlston on Nov 26 (both singles)

House Martin: Also two sightings of singles, both on Nov 26, at Lodmoor (Weymouth) and Durlston.

Waxwing: No further south coast sightings to back up the one at Haywards Heath on Nov 17 but Lee Evans' national bird news tells us that the birds have now spread as far south at Bedfordshire (with a major flock of 70 in the Dundee area)

Blackbird: On Nov 27 Derek Hale photographed a male Blackbird with an almost completely white head in the St Helens area near Bembridge (IoW). For some reason he recorded it as an escapee (probable Madagascar Bulbul) but the photos of that species that I have seen on the internet do not show a white head but do show a frizziness to the head feathers which is not shown in his Blackbird. I have myself in the past seen a Blackbird with an even more complete white head and I think this is a not very uncommon aberration in Blackbirds.

Song Thrush: The bird which started to sing around my garden here in Havant on Nov 20 can still be heard daily but it seems that other Thrushes have not yet got going. The only other mentions of song that I have seen come from Brian Fellows who heard one at Kingley Vale, north of Chichester, on Nov 27 and from Peter Thompson who heard full song in the Cheriton Wood area near Alresford on Nov 30

Garden Warbler: A very late bird was trapped at Portland on Nov 27 - there were seven reports during October but this is the first I have seen since Oct 29. A Serin was also trapped there that day.

Siberian Chiffchaff: There have been several sightings of two at Portland recently and on Nov 26 John Norton had a brief sighting of a 'probable' in the Browndown area west of Gosport

Jackdaw: On Nov 16 there was a report on the SOS website of 'many hundreds' of Jackdaws assembling each evening at dusk in the Wisborough Green area (north of Pulborough) before flying south to some unknown roost. On Nov 25 a further report gives an estimated total of 5000 birds being involved in this assemblage but we are no nearer knowing where the roost is (nor if there are other pre-roost assemblies elsewhere implying a vast number of birds in the final roost). Another huge winter corvid roost has in past years been in (I think) the Elson woods on the north west shore of Portsmouth Harbour but there has been no information about this one so far this winter.

Starling: Another impressive night roost currently takes place in reeds at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood - on Nov 27 Bob Chapman estimated the number of Starlings spending their nights there as 8000. This week has also brought news of an impressive Starling roost somewhere near the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour - a picture of the birds appeared in the Portsmouth NEWS and an eye witness description from Martin Hampton appeared on Hoslist

Tree Sparrow: Although there have been 29 reports of these this autumn all but three of these sightings have been either in Dorset or Kent and East Sussex, with strong indications that the birds seen there have been arriving from the continent. Two of the three exceptions have been in Hampshire (both at Sandy Point on Hayling) on Sep 3 and Oct 24. The third exception comes in the latest report of a sighting in West Sussex on Nov 27 when two birds were seen in the Adur valley near Henfield.

Twite: A report of two birds seen on the Oare Marshes in north Kent on Nov 25 prompted me to check on other sightings this autumn. I found two previous reports - a single bird at Durlston on Oct 29 and a report of 4 birds on the Isle of Wight on Nov 15.

Yellowhammer: On Nov 27 two flocks (of 13 and 14 birds) were seen in fallow fields north of Hastings during a single bird atlas outing (and back on Nov 7 there was a count of 41 birds in Hastings Country Park). These flocks may be few and far between even in Kent and East Sussex but they are in stark contrast to the apparent absence of the birds from Hampshire this autumn. The only Hampshire reports I have seen since Aug 1 have been on Aug 29 (2 birds at Old Winchester Hill), Oct 3 (1 at Sandy Point on Hayling), Oct 7 (1 at Farlington Marshes with another at Barton on sea that day), and a final single over Broadmarsh at Havant on Oct 30. In the most recent news from David Taylor on Dec 1 he mentions 'lots of Yellowhammer' in the Cholderton area near Andover but only as a minor aside to the thrill of seeing 'that eagle' and so gives no idea of the number of birds.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: One seen at St Catherine's Point on the IoW on Nov 25 was exceptionally late though there had been two other November reports (at Browndown, Gosport, on Nov 3 and at Titchfield Haven on Nov 10)

Common Darter: Also seen on Nov 25 at Gosport - the tenth November report for this year with the previous one on Nov 21 in the New Forest

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Sightings at the Southbourne undercliff colony in Bournemouth on Nov 23 and 25

Small White: One at Gosport on Nov 16 is said to be the latest ever in Hants

Holly Blue: A female seen in Gosport on Nov 22

Red Admiral: As might be expected this species already has a December sighting at Glyne Gap at Bexhill (west of Hastings) on Dec 1

Speckled Wood: One in Gosport on Nov 25 was another latest ever for Hants (one was also seen there on Nov 22)

Moths

Acleris sparsana: This tortrix species is most commonly found in October but the first mention of it that I have seen this year comes from Findon (Worthing) on Nov 27

Eudonia angustea: This pyralid is most commonly found in September but there was a report of one at Rye on 27 March this year with no others until now (one trapped at Findon on Nov 27)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The find of Lesser Celandine in flower on Nov 30 brought my November flowering list to a total of 202 species, of which I had seen 178. Recent additions to this list are ...

Lesser Celandine: I do not expect to find this in flower until mid-December but one flower was fully open beside the Lymbourne stream just south of the A27 Havant bypass on Nov 30

Rape: Still flowering in the West Stoke (Kingley Vale) area on Nov 27

Sea Radish: Flowering on Sinah Common (south Hayling) on Nov 25

Thale Cress: A late find for the month on Nov 29 in central Havant

Early Dog Violet: A single flower found in Havant New Lane cemetery on Nov 29

Tufted Vetch: A last flower seen on Portsdown on Nov 28

Thrift (Sea Pink): Flowering on Sinah Common on Nov 25

Eyebright: Flourishing on Portsdown on Nov 28

Field Woundwort: Plenty still flowering on a field at Warblington farm on Nov 30

Common Gromwell: Not flowering but showing a pretty display of its stone hard white seed spaced out along the dead branches of the plants like white candles on a Christmas tree - seen on Portsdown Nov 28

Hedge Bedstraw: One fresh flowering plant on Portsdown on Nov 28

Silver Ragwort: One plant still flowering on Portsdown on Nov 28

Carline Thistle: A couple of fresh plants flowering at Fort Purbrook on Portsdown on Nov 26

OTHER WILDLIFE

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A couple of these were seen off Durlston on Nov 26 after being seen there four days earlier

Common Seal: On Nov 25 a young Common Seal was in the River Cuckmere, more than a mile inland


Summary for Nov 19 - 25 (Week 47 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Plenty of these around now but a count of 27 made at Ovingdean (just east of Brighton) on Nov 18 was the second highest score so far this year after 35 at Dungeness on Nov 6. In Southampton the obliging bird wintering on the River Itchen moved back downstream from Cobden Bridge to Northam Bridge on Nov 19 and on Nov 24 it was seen out in Southampton Water off Weston Shore

Black-necked Grebe: Although only three were seen from the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 19 it is likely that the 13 seen there on Nov 17 are still in Langstone Harbour but even so it looks as if Langstone Harbour has ceased to be the top site for these birds in winter as the Dorset total (which included 21 present in the Studland Bay area on Nov 17) increased by at least one on Nov 19 when one turned up in Portland Harbour. On Nov 24 two were seen off Lepe at the mouth of Southampton Water - a new location for them

Fulmar: A total of 23 in the Ventnor area on Nov 18 were declared (by Kris Gillam) to be the first birds returning to the cliffs since the last breeding birds left the IoW on Aug 18

Sooty Shearwater: Up to four were seen off Ovingdean (Brighton area) on Nov 18 when one was recorded at Dungeness

Manx Shearwater: One off Portland on Nov 18 was the first to be reported anywhere in our area of the English Channel since Sep 23

Storm Petrel: Two seen in the Studland Bay area of Dorset on Nov 19 - also the first to be reported since Sep 22

Leach's Petrel: One flew west past Sandown on the IoW on Nov 18 and maybe the same bird was off Portland on Nov 19

Bittern: The bird at Titchfield Haven which only shows itself about once a week was seen on Nov 17 and 24

Cattle Egret: A group of 5 were seen together on Nov 24 at a farm near Upwey, half-way between Dorchester and Weymouth

Spoonbill: Just two reported daily this week at Abbotsbury

Bewick's Swan: A total of 18 coming to roost at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Nov 16 probably moved on west as the only subsequent report from that site was of 4 on Nov 19. In mid-week two were seen a mile or so west of Wareham in the Frome river valley on Nov 20. On Nov 23 Derek Hale visited Slimbridge and only saw 11 birds - this seems an extraordinarily low count for this site but maybe the birds were out in local fields when Derek visited. He also reports a count of just 10 White-front Geese there.

White-front Goose: Two photographed on Nov 20 at Lodmoor (Weymouth) by Martin Cade of the Portland Observatory were said to be Greenland race birds - the longer, more orange rather than pink, bills were not very obvious in the photo although the darker (almost black) colour of the upper throat could be seen

Pale Bellied Brent: At least one has been at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) since Oct 19 but a report on Nov 21 gave the first count of 3 there

Red-Breasted Goose: Jason Crook was among those who saw one on the mud of the Chichester Harbour entrance between Black Point and East Head on Nov 24. As far as I know this is a first (equal) for this winter anywhere in Britain but Jason believes there was a previous sighting in the Northney area of Hayling a couple of weeks earlier. One did arrive in Dumfries, Scotland, on the same day so maybe more than two have just arrived in this country.

Wigeon: These seem more than usually plentiful this winter and there was a record count of 162 in the Nore Barn area of Chichester Harbour (west end of the Emsworth shore) on Nov 23.

Teal: Arund 50 birds were in the newly flooded area of the pony field north of Langstone Mill Pond for the first time this winter on Nov 22

Pintail: The number to be seen at Hook (Warsash) continues to rise. One or two were there from Aug 26 to Oct 3. On Oct 4 the count increased to 20 with 34 there next day. That number was not beaten until 41 were seen on Nov 16 and that had gone up to 48 on Nov 21

Pochard: I have no count from the Chichester Lakes since 50+ were seen there on Oct 16 but at Rye Harbour (where there were 43 on Oct 8) there are now 130 (on Nov 21)

Ferruginous Duck x Pochard: The Budd Farm pools 'Fudge Duck' was showing well on Nov 24

Velvet Scoter: Two could still be seen near the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 21 but have not been reported since (they may have flown out into the Spithead area to be seen off the north east of the IoW on Nov 24). On Nov 22 a group of six were seen from Lepe (mouth of Southampton Water) and on Nov 24 a total of 13 were seen from Portland Bill

Goldeneye: There are probably by now at least 20 scattered around Langstone Harbour based on a sighting of 15 made by Jason Crook on Nov 17 (Jason said he believed that at that time there were at least two more males, which he had seen previously). This of course assumes that birds known to have arrived in the harbour do not move on!

Smew: Although there was an unconfirmed report of one at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 29 there have been no subsequent reports until one turned up at Dungeness on Nov 21, increasing to five birds there on Nov 24

Red-breasted Merganser: After two reports of a total of around 50 Merganser to be seen off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Nov 17 and 19, a group of four flew in to settle on the Town Millpond in Emsworth on Nov 20. They will probably stay there for some time as they did last winter except when the pond is drained as has happened at the end of this week! (At least one was there in Jan, Feb and Mar this year with three there from Nov 16 in 2006 and 8 present from Nov 24 to the end of the year)

Goosander: The number roosting at the Blashford Lakes increased to 37 (including 9 adult drakes) on Nov 23

Avocet: Autumn passage to west of England wintering sites is still on-going. On Nov 19 a group of 13 were at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham harbour) where only two or three have been seen since the end of August, and in Langstone Harbour the group of 14 seen at Farlington Marshes on Nov 12 had apparently dwindled to three birds by Nov 19 (subsequently Derek Hale reports that there were 21 in the Shutt Lake area west of Farlington Marshes on Nov 19)

Golden Plover: The flock of 200+ reported at Hook (Warsash) on Oct 26 had increased to 248 by Nov 21

Purple Sandpiper: 7 were at Southsea Castle on Nov 20 - it seems that a small group of up to 9 are now settled there for the winter.

Snipe: Two reports of birds arriving in newly waterlogged areas this week - on Nov 22 two birds were flushed from the Meadow next to Brick Kiln cottages (Stansted Forest) and on Nov 24 another two were put up from the 'orchid field' of the Langstone South Moors area

Grey Phalarope: One was seen on the water of Shoreham Harbour on Nov 19 but did not stay

Great-blackback Gull: Those who recall Simon Ingram's encounter with an injured Blackback on the Lymington shore on Sep 1 (when Simon very nearly lost a finger to the bird and Alan Lewis had to help him out with electrical insulating tape to close the bird's bill during the operation to remove the fishing line in which the bird had become entangled) will be pleased to hear that when another fisherman on the Lymington shore got his line entangled with another Blackback on Nov 22 he sensibly reeled in the bird and released it (without injury to himself) rather than cutting his line and leaving the bird entangled.

Kittiwake: A good number of these seem to have flown west past the Isle of Wight on Nov 18/19 - counts off Ventnor on those two days were of an estimated 40 followed by 230 birds

Auk species: There was also a good show of these (mostly, I think, Razorbills) passing the IoW with 144 seen from St Catherine's Point on Nov 17, 81 off Ventnor on Nov 18 and 350 off Ventnor on Nov 19

Guillemot: The first to return to the cliffs at Durlston were seen on Nov 20 (the last of the breeding birds left on July 15)

Little Auk: On Nov 17 the bird found inside a garage at Bembridge on Nov 15 was safely released from care. Since then one was seen from Worthing on Nov 23 and on Nov 24 at least three were seen on the Dorset coast. Also on Nov 24 a birder at Seasalter on the north Kent coast wrote .. "Three auks flying west a long way out were probably Little but five flying east more closely at 10.10 were certainly Dovekies". When I first read this I thought that a Dovekie must be a different species to a Little Auk but subsequent checks seem to show that Dovekie is another name for Little Auk.

Woodpigeon: Another migration surge occurred on Nov 24 when West Bay (near Bridport in Dorset) reported the passage of 930 birds and Portland recorded 570.

Kingfisher: Another sighting at Langstone Mill on Nov 21

Swallow: Latest sightings (all singles) have been on Nov 22 (Isle of Wight), Nov 23 (Portland), and Nov 24 (Titchfield Haven, Rye Harbour and Sandwich Bay)

House Martin: Just one late bird seen at Worthing on Nov 24

Pechora Pipit: Not local, but one at Fishguard on the Welsh coast has attracted a lot of twitchers since Nov 21

Waxwing: Just one sighting in southern England so far - a single bird is said to have flown south in the Haywards Heath area of Sussex on Nov 17

Song Thrush: One resumed full throated song in the area audible from my garden in Havant at dawn on Nov 20 and has now been heard singing intermittently through each day since then, most strongly in the late afternoon but also in the early morning (on Nov 24 it was on the go at 6:30 am). I see that Blackbird song was heard on Hayling Island on Nov 10, but unlike the Song Thrushes that should sing continuously from now to the end of the year (and into the New Year) I do not expect to hear Blackbird song daily until Feb

Cetti's Warbler: One was very vocal at the Havant Budds Farm pools on Nov 24

Blyth's Reed Warbler: A totally exhausted bird found on the ground at the Southampton Container Docks on Nov 20 was possibly a Blyth's Reed Warbler which had arrived by ship. It was so exhausted that the finder picked it up in his hand and took a couple of photos before letting it fly off into the unknown

Yellow-browed Warbler: One was with a Tit flock moving through the trees on the motorway bank south of the IBM Lake at Portsmouth on Nov 21

Siberian Chiffchaff: Two birds thought to be of the Tristis race were at Portland on Nov 23 and 24

Jackdaw: For many years Carrion Crows have been prone to abnormalities in their plumage colour, showing various amounts of white among the black. One theory about the cause of this is that it comes from some change in the birds' diet. Interestingly the SOS website has an entry on Nov 24 from a birder living in the Pevensey area to report an increasing incidence of white patches in the plumage of Jackdaws there - he supplies a photo of one bird that has been seen in that are for at least three years.

Hooded Crow: I don't find Carrion Crows at all attractive but I remember the excitement of seeing Hooded Crows on the north Kent coast during winters when I was at school at Canterbury from 1946 to 1950 and I can still feel the thrill of my first encounter with one when I read of a sighting of one in the Seasalter area (between Whitstable and Faversham) on Nov 17

Raven: As with Buzzards and Egrets, the population of Ravens in southern England has increased in the last few years by much more than could be accounted for by normal breeding, but it has not been clear where the extra birds have been coming from. Maybe the report of 5 coming in off the sea and flying north over Portland is a clue to answer the problem.

Hawfinch: On Nov 23 one was back at the Mercer's Way site in Romsey where a number of these birds have chosen to spend several recent winters - one theory is that the birds are attracted to the cherry like fruit of trees planted outside the council flats at the west end of Mercer's Way where it abuts the canal cutting through the town.

Snow Bunting: The bird which took up residence close to the Bluebird Cafe at Ferring (Worthing) on Nov 16 was still there on Nov 20, as were the two birds near Bopeep Farm on the Downs above the Cuckmere Valley

Corn Bunting: On Nov 23 a small number were seen at The Burgh on the Downs above Amberley village and the River Arun

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Common Darter: A male was still flying in the New Forest on Nov 21

Butterflies

Brimstone: One male seen near Romsey on Nov 21

Red Admiral: Sightings this week on Nov 21, 22 and 23 at three different sites

Peacock: One seen at Worthing on Nov 20

Speckled Wood: One seen at Crawley on Nov 22

Moths

Acleris hastiana: First mention of this species is of one trapped in Sussex on Nov 19

December Moth: First of this winter trapped in Sussex on Nov 19

Winter Moth: As for December Moth

Other Insects:

Syrphus ribesii: This is a possible id for a black and yellow hoverfly which I saw sunninging itself (not flying) in Havant on Nov 19

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The total count of species seen in flower so far in November is 194 with 171 seen by myself

Cabbage: What I believe to be Cabbages of the sort grown for human consumption were in flower on Nov 24 in the 'bird seed' crop planted on the Langstone South Moor nature reserve.

Sweet Violet: On Nov 22 fresh flowers were found at two regular sites on Hayling (Oysterbeds and North Common)

Blackthorn: A tree at the Hayling Oysterbeds which flowered at this time last year had fresh flowers on Nov 22 - see my diary entry for that date

Sea Holly: Still flowering on Eastney beach (Portsmouth) on Nov 22

Verbascum macrocarpum: The famous plant on Hayling North Common had two flowers, probably the last that I will see this year, when I was there on Nov 22

Teazel: One mauve flower head could be seen on the Budds Farm shore on Nov 24

Silver Ragwort. Flowering on Eastney beach on Nov 22 - thanks to Brian Fellows for pointing out the difference in the leaves between this plant and the commoner Shrubby Ragwort (which was also flowering this week on the abandoned Texaco garage site in Havant but not recorded as it was obviously planted)

Sticky Groundsel: Still flowering in Havant (Town Hall Road)

Slender Thistle: A unexpected find on Nov 24 inside the Budds Farm fence at the south end of Southmoor Lane at Havant - great masses of this flower here in the summer but I have never seen a second winter flowering before

OTHER WILDLIFE

Grey Squirrel: Another of the Portsmouth 'albino' type white squirrels was seen on Nov 19 in the 'heritage area' of Portsmouth Dockyard

Eel: Two sightings of Eels during the week made me wonder if this is the time of year when the mature Eels head downstream at the start of their long journey to spawn in the Sargasso sea but I have not been able to find any source of knowledge on this subject other than that many factors influence the decision to move. I think they generally get the urge to move in the autumn (one paper about Eels in the Baltic says they leave in July but other sources are less specific) and that water termperature and water flow both contribute to the decision to set out, and both these factors would have been in operation recently. Regardless of what the eels were doing when seen one was in the Langbrook stream near the Water Wheel by the Havant bypass on Nov 21 and the other was in Budds Farm pools on Nov 24, engaged in a prolonged struggle with a Cormorant which had caught it but was unable to move it into position to swallow it without the Eel making a break for freedom (only to be re-caught) - I never saw the ene of this battle but have seen similar contests in the past (one had a Cormorant, a Grey Heron and a Great Black-back Gull all after one eel - as soon as the eel gave on predator the slip another of the trio grabbed it even though this involved the Heron having to land in water too deep for it to stand!)

Clustered Bonnet (Mycena inclinata) fungus: As last year a log lying on the Langstone Mill pond side of the path passing the mill was covered in long stemmed medium sized fungi on Nov 24 - the caps are brown and distinctively 'helmet' shaped.


Summary for Nov 12 - 18 (Week 46 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver. Twenty sightings in the period Nov 11 to 17 include a count of 15 seen off Worthing on Nov 13 and 14 off Beachy Head on Nov 17. The bird which has been on the Itchen in the Bitterne area of Southampton since Oct 3 was still there on Nov 12 (this bird was initially reported as being near Northam Bridge but from Oct 24 it seems to have moved upstream to be seen around Cobden Bridge which links Bitterne Park area to Portswood)

Black-throated Diver: Fourteen reports from Nov 11 to 17 with a peak count of five off Selsey Bill on Nov 17

Great Northern Diver: Three were in Weymouth Bay on Nov 13 and two were off Selsey on Nov 11, 12 and 16

White-billed Diver: The bird which was regularly reported from Selsey Bill from Oct 9 to 26 was not mentioned again until Nov 12 but has presumably been in that area all the time. This week it has been seen on Nov 12, 13, 15 and 16

Great Crested Grebe: A flock of 15 was off Climping (east of Worthing) on Nov 14 and some 20 were off Pagham on Nov 16

Red-necked Grebe: One was seen from Selsey Bill on Nov 11 and then from Goring (Worthing) on Nov 13 (reported as loafing offshore). These reports may well be of the same bird which was first seen off Pagham Harbour on Nov 4

Slavonian Grebe: The first to appear on the south coast was at Rye Harbour on Oct 2 and there have been 25 reports from Kent, Sussex and Dorset before the first was seen in Hampshire on Nov 14 at the very unexpected location of Eastleigh Lakeside country park where it has stayed to at least Nov 18

Black-necked Grebe: The normal winter flock has at last arrived in Langstone Harbour on Nov 17 when 13 birds were seen from the Oysterbeds. The same influx on that day brought two onto the sea off Titchfield Haven and increased the flock in Studland Bay (Dorset) to 21. The one which arrived at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Nov 5 was still there on Nov 15 at least

Sooty Shearwater: One flew past Dungeness on Nov 13 and probably the same bird was seen that day off Worthing

Leach's Petrel: Amongst the huge mass of Little Auks and other birds forced by recent weather from the Arctic into the North Sea were at least one Leach's Petrel and one Grey Phalarope, both seen off the north Kent coast around Nov 12

Great White Egret: Lee Evans national rare bird news tell us that the bird still resident at the Blashford Lakes is one of only four in the UK at present

Grey Heron: It is unusual to see these birds in any but an upright position but many years ago I remember having an entry in my 'Wildlife Column' in the IBM Portsmouth house magazine censored when I wrote of some 25 Herons around the edge of the IBM Lake and described them as mostly standing motionless on sentry duty in their 'siege' - the bit that was censored came when I remarked on the very unusual sight of one or two lying down flat on the ground and the offence was given by my phrase (thinking of them as being lax in their sentry duty) saying that they 'were lying down on the job'. I was reminded of this on Nov 16 when Steve Copsey told us on Hoslist how he had seen a Heron at Hook (Warsash) sitting on its bottom with its legs sticking out to the front - now what was that one up to?

Bewick's Swan: When four arrived on the Hampshire Avon on Oct 28 I hoped it might be the start of a small build up to a winter flock but so far there have been no more Hampshire reports. Two at Dungeness RSPB reserve on Nov 5 and 4 there on Nov 8 probably flew on to Slimbridge, and two recent sightings also seem to have been of transitory birds - four landed in Pagham Harbour on Nov 15 and stayed for at least a few hours, and another two were at Pulborough Brooks all day on Nov 15 but so far there has been no further news from either of these sites

Whooper Swan: Unlike the Bewick's, three Whoopers have stayed in The Fleet near Weymouth Nov 9 to 17

White-front Goose: Following the four which turned up at Lymington on Nov 10 another five were seen from Selsey Bill Nov 12 (and maybe the same five flew north over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 15) - these are all probably birds coming from northern Eurasia which would normally end up on our east coast but which have flown too far south and found themselves in the English Channel, unlike the Greenland race bird which was seen at Farlington Marshes on Nov 6 (which had presumably flown overland to get here)

Greylag and Canada Geese: On Nov 11 John Clark found 146 Greylags and 237 Canadas on Tundry Pond, west of Fleet in north Hampshire

Brent: It would seem that a small number of these are starting to stay in the Rye Bay area for the winter - on Nov 16 a flock of 80 was grazing fields in the Pett Level area and on Nov 17 there were 33 to be seen at Rye Harbour

Brant: The Wittering bird was omitted from the Nov 10 WeBS count for Wittering as it was seen and counted on the Hampshire side of Chichester Harbour off Hayling Island but on Nov 13 it was back at Wittering associating with two hybrid juveniles (on Nov 15 it was still there but not close to the juvs so maybe they are not related - or perhaps they prefer to stay with their Brent mother who has lost interest in the Brant?). The Ferrybridge Brant at Weymouth was still in situ on Nov 16 but there has been no news from Gosport this week, unlike Pagham Harbour where one turned up near the North Walls on Nov 15

Green-winged Teal: A first winter male was reported to be at Abbotsbury (near Weymouth) on Nov 12 and was still there on Nov 17

Red-crested Pochard: News of a moribund Little Auk found in the village of Lower Froyle (north east of Alton) triggered news of a strange assembly of ducks on the village pond there. On Nov 4 one Red-crested Pochard and one Rosybill were seen there and Steve Mansfield tells us that "back in April there were 2 male and one female Red-crested Pochard on the village pond, plus a confused male Rosybill and a male Ferruginous Duck. Clearly a collection - however the RC Pochards were copulating (and at one point the Rosybill was on top of a male RCP) - so this may be of interest if birds or odd hybrids show up elsewhere". Red-crested Pochard (Netta ruffina) is not uncommon and does breed in Europe but Rosybill (Netta peposaca) is a South American species that is very much less common and has not (to my knowledge) bred in Europe - for pictures of this species see http://www.pbase.com/dugalpic/rosybill

Scaup: Although Sussex reported the first arrivals at Weir Wood reservoir on Oct 10 and Dorset had one at Abbotsbury on Oct 20 Hampshire did not have any until Nov 10 when one female arrived on Tundry Pond (west of Fleet) and another female turned up (accompanied by a juvenile) in the Lymington area - the birds remain present at both sites.

Eider: A new peak count (for this winter) of 43 was recorded off Titchfield Haven on Nov 17 after 36 had been the total for a few days

Long-tailed Duck: These have arrived in four different sites, all arriving on Nov 17. One was in Christchurch Harbour, two in Weymouth Bay, up to five in Poole Harbour and at least three off the Lymington shore

Common Scoter: Plenty of these around including a flock of 200 in Rye Bay on Nov 14 but of local interest three were seen in Langstone Harbour off the Oysterbeds on Nov 17

Velvet Scoter: Two of these were also off the Oysterbeds on Nov 17 after sightings earlier in the week at Dungeness, Selsey Bill, Chichester Harbour off Wittering, off Titchfield Haven and in Poole Harbour

Goldeneye: These are at last becoming widespread with reports this week from Dungeness, Rye Harbour, Climping (east of Worthing), Pagham Harbour, Lymington and Portland Bill. Peak count was of 9 in Langstone Harbour off the Oysterbeds on Nov 17

Red-breasted Merganser: The peak count of these (around 50) also came from the Hayling Oysterbeds area on Nov 17

Goosander: 25 roosted at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on the night of Nov 12 and that number increased to 31 by Nov 15 - you are unlikely to see more than half a dozen there by day as the majority fly off to various ponds in the New Forest and other surrounding areas. Other sightings have come from the sea off Pagham Harbour (where two redheads seem to be established now), from the Sussex Ouse, from Climping (east of Worthing), Poole Harbour, Abbotsbury, Little Sea at Studland, and from Southampton Water where two were seen on Nov 15

Marsh Harrier: The increasing number which now remain in Britain through the winter, and which are happy to hunt away from large reed-beds, was illustrated by a co-ordinated search of the Rye Bay area on Nov 11 which found a total of 20 birds

Red-legged Partridge: The first releases of birds bred to be shot came in September with counts of around 70 near Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley and 73 near Goodwood north of Chichester but this week a count of 53 south of Newport (IoW) on Nov 16 indicates a further release.

Crane: Not local news but I see from Lee Evans national news that the flock resident in the Norfolk Broads numbers 31 birds - the same number that were there last year on Dec 1

Avocet: On Nov 12 Ros Norton saw 14 Avocet together in the Farlington Marshes lake and on Nov 11 at least 5 were at the mouth of the Beaulieu River

Ringed Plover: On Nov 12 Andy Johnson reported a recent peak count of 377 in the Black Point wader roost at the mouth of Chichester Harbour - other peak counts there were of 140 Sanderling, 243 Oystercatcher and 4000 Dunlin but only 51 Grey Plover, 25 Knot and 14 Bar-tailed Godwits

Golden Plover: There are almost certainly up to 500 still in the Chichester Harbour area though there have been no reports of them this week when the big news has been of a flock of 300 to 400 on the fringes of Dorchester (by the A31 Monkey's Jump roundabout)

Purple Sandpiper: The number of sightings has increased since Nov 4 with daily reports from up to 12 south coast sites but it was not until Nov 14 that five were seen at Southsea Castle (the first anywhere this autumn were seen there on Aug 15 but there have been no other sightings there until now) By Nov 16 there were 9 of these birds at the Castle (but the peak count so far is of 11 in the Newhaven area on Nov 12)

Woodcock: One at Beachy Head on Nov 12 was the fourteenth to be reported arriving from Europe since Oct 12 - with such an elusive species these reports must be 'the tip of the iceberg'. Other reports of (probable) migrants this week came from a golf course at Crawley on Nov 14, Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Nov 15, and Portland on Nov 16

Spotted Redshank: The 'tame' bird which returned to the Maisemore Gardens stream at Nore Barn (west of Emsworth) on Nov 5 and 6 then vanished with no more reports until Nov 16 when it was seen with a low/rising tide.

Grey Phalarope: One seen at Brownsea Island on Nov 14 was the first reported along the south coast since Sep 21 (when one flew west past Selsey Bill)

Pomarine Skua: On Nov 11 at least 15 were seen to pass Selsey Bill but the bird seen in Langstone Harbour on Nov 10 has not been reported since then. On Nov 11 Selsey also had 11 Arctic Skuas plus singles of Geat and Long-tailed Skua ( a second Long-tailed was seen at Dungeness on Nov 12), Since then there has been an interesting account from Kris Gillam on the IoW who on Nov 14 watched at Peregrine off Ventnor trying to catch a flying Teal. The Teal plunged down onto the water and the Peregrine made several passes to try to grab it from the water (but presumably failed because of the waves - Peregrine will snatch prey from the surface of smooth water). At this point a Pom Skua turned up and, maybe thinking the Peregrine was carrying prey, went for it as boldly as it would harry any gull. The Skua got no reward other than the thanks of the Teal for driving off the Peregrine!

Med Gull: A total of 50 were in the Bembridge Foreland area on Nov 11 (when 23 were around Pagham Harbour entrance) and on Nov 13 the Weymouth area had 51, increasing to 74 in Portland Harbour on Nov 16

Little Gull: A sighting of four off Weston Shore in Southampton Water on Nov 11 was unusual

Ring-billed Gull: The Gosport bird was last reported on Nov 10 but is presumably still there while a new bird arrived in The Fleet (Weymouth) on Nov 11

Glaucous Gull: I think three separate birds arrived on the Kent coast on Nov 11 and 12. The first was a juvenile seen at Dungeness on Nov 11 which had badly injured itself by swallowing a fish hook that could be seen protruding from its bloody neck, the other two were seen on Nov 12 and make no mention of injuries - one was at the Dungeness RSPB reserve and the other was off Sandwich Bay

Kittiwake: A major westward passage was observed on Nov 11 with more than 1500 passing Selsey Bill during the day. Up to 160 were seen leaving the Solent in the Hurst area but none of these were seen entering the Solent from Ryde on the Isle of Wight so they may have come overland from the North Sea.

Little Auk: By Nov 13 there were estimated to be 54000 Little Auks in the North Sea and a few of these have appeared in recent local reports. Nov 11 brought 8 reports including a total of 23 passing Selsey Bill and Nov 12 found one taking a breather on the Lymington shore where it stayed for at least two days. The only inland report was of one at Lower Froyle (just north east of Alton) which died before John Clark could see it alive to justify him in recording the species for that area - no doubt many others flew overland and either made it to the sea or fell without being seen. Years ago I found a corpse in the Bells Copse woodland (part of Havant Thicket) which had had its neck pierced by the broken stump of a small tree branch into which the bird must have flown in the dark, and the chance of my finding the corpse before a local Fox or other animal scavenger came across it must have been very slender. The current 'wreck' is not yet over - five reports are dated Nov 13 and the lastest is from Brownsea Island on Nov 16. A second 'inland sighting' came in Nov 15 when one was found inside a garage (don't ask me how it got there) at Bembridge on the IoW - it was alive and was last seen in the hands of the RSPCA

Wood Pigeon: Their autumn passage is still on-going with a total of 41,500 seen heading west over the Christchurch Harbour area on Nov 12. At least 240 Stock Dove went with them

Long-eared Owl: One flew in off the sea at Portland on Nov 15

Green Woodpecker: Now that ants have begun to hibernate at least one Green Woodpecker in the Cheriton area east of Winchester has been seen happily eating apples and it seems this is not uncommon

Swallow: Two flew over Selsey Bill on Nov 11 and one was seen at Durlston on Nov 13 with other sightings of no more than 3 at a time on Nov 14.15.16.and 17 at various coastal sites

House Martin: One was over Camber near Rye on Nov 11 was followed by two seen from Pett on Nov 14 and singles at Portland on Nov 16 and Durlston on Nov 17

Water Pipit: Sightings are starting to increase with recent sightings on Nov 11 (two in the Lymington area and one at Brading Marshes), and a further sighting of two in the north of Titchfield Haven on Nov 13 plus one in the Pagham Harbour area on Nov 15

Waxwing: Last week there were several in Scotland but only one in England (Norfolk). By Nov 16 they had started to spread into the midlands with some reaching Northamptonshire

Blackbird: What sounded like Blackbird song was heard from the cover of a tree in Havant Park on Nov 13 - this may have been a local bird's defensive re-action to the arrival of continental birds - on Nov 14 a total of 60 came in over Portland, on Nov 15 there were 55 over Christchurch Harbour, and on Nov 17 40+ were recorded at Durlston

Song Thrush: I think it was frost which provoked a local Song Thrush to sing briefly near my garden on Nov 15 but any day now we can expect to hear these birds singing daily everywhere

Redwing: I think one paused very briefly on the top of the Beech tree in my garden early on Nov 17, and I see that there were many of these birds among the Beech Trees of the QE country park near Petersfield on Nov 16

Long-tailed Tit: Reports of these have been increasing for some time and on Nov 17 Christchurch Harbour recorded a flock of 50+ birds

Tree Creeper: With the leaves off the trees these birds are becoming easier to see, and they are helping us to find them by themselves becoming more vocal - three reports this week mention hearing their calls

Starling: Many still arriving from the continent up to Nov 13 when 150 flew north over the Hook/Warshash area. On Nov 12 at least 450 came in over Selsey Bill and on Nov 14 Dungeness had a peak count of 2200 arriving but that was beaten next day with 2960 arriving at West Bay near Bridport in Dorset. The movement was still ongoing on Nov 16 with 1200 over Portland and 120 over Selsey

Chaffinch: Big flocks have now settled on Beechmast - on Nov 14 200+ were in the QE country park enjoying this year's bumper crop

Brambling: These were still arriving in numbers on Nov 12 when 16 came in at Portland with 110 arriving at Dungeness plus other smaller counts at other sites. By Nov 14 at least 14 were seen among the Chaffinches at the QE country park and more than 100 were seen there on Nov 16

Siskin: Their passage has almost ceased but by Nov 14 around 200 had settled at the Blashford Lakes sites

Twite: One was reported from the Durlston on Oct 29 (but never seen again) leaving a group of 4 seen at Northwood village on the IoW on Nov 15 as contenders for title of the first to settle on the south coast this winter (and successfully claiming the prize for the first to be seen on the IoW since 2001)

Lapland Bunting: Nov 17 brought one to the Lymington Marshes and another to Portland

Snow Bunting: One was seen at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 12 when 63 were on the shore at Sandwich Bay. Since then two appear to have settled near Bopeep Farm on the Sussex Downs above the Cuckmere valley and at least one remains on the shore of Rye Bay at Pett. Most recently one was at Splash Point, Seaford, on Nov 16 and on the same day another (?) could be seen on grass outside the Blue Bird cafe on the Ferring seafront in the Worthing area

Little Bunting: A 'probable only' (but heard and seen) at Portland on Nov 17

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Common Darter: Singles were still flying at Gosport on Nov 12 and in the Pannell Valley near Rye on Nov 15

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: One at Selsey Bill on Nov 12, one at Durlston on Nov 13 and three at their all year round foothold in Britain (Southbourne undercliff in Bournemouth) on Nov 15

Small White: Latest sighting was at Bournemouth on Nov 10

Red Admiral: As many as 16 were on the wing in Gosport on Nov 12 and there were sightings of up to three elsewhere on both Nov 15 and 16. Last winter observation of nettle patches in the Sussex Ouse valley showed the Red Admirals had become Britain's first all year butterfly with no gap in its breeding cycle. This may happen again this year as eggs laid by the butterflies around Kingston near Lewes on Oct 20 were seen to start hatching on Nov 16, and if the weather does not kill off the nettles these caterpillars are now eating they should be full grown before the end of the year when they will pupate and emerge as fresh butterflies by the end of January. The normal time scale is about a week from egg laying to hatching (that took over three weeks in this weather), the caterpillars feed for about a month in summer weather and pupation takes up to three weeks - clearly these times are extended in winter weather. Last winter adult butterflies were seen flying in every month - 63 reports in January, 44 in February and 49 in March (these early year sightings being preceded last year by 64 reports in November and 34 in December).

Peacock: One seen on Nov 11 near Eastbourne

Comma: One in the Gosport area on Nov 12

Speckled Wood: Three flying at Gosport on Nov 12 and one on the wing at Crawley on Nov 17

Wall Brown: Not seen in the past week but a late report of one on the downs above Lancing near Worthing on Nov 1 is two weeks after the previous last sighting on the downs north of Brighton on Nov 14

Moths

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: One seen at Portland on Nov 9 may have been a new migrant arrival.

Other Insects

Speckled Bush Cricket: Although this is apparently a relatively common insect in southern counties it made its first appearance of the year in my database with a report of one at Rye Harbour on Nov 10

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

I have seen reports of 185 plant species in flower from Nov 1 to 18 and have seen 161 of them myself

Yellow-horned Poppy: Probably still flowering on Hayling Island in November but included on account of a photo taken at Rye Harbour on Nov 14

Sea Rocket: Still flowering on Hayling on Nov 16

Weld: Also found on Hayling on Nov 16

Musk Mallow: Still flowering in Havant on Nov 12

Dwarf Gorse: Flowering on Hayling on Nov 16 along with the ornamental Spanish Gorse which is sometimes confused with Broom

White Meliot: Flowering at Eastney (Portsmouth) on Nov 14

Crown Vetch: Still flowering in Leigh Park area of Havant on Nov 12

Sea Spurge: Several plants flowering at Sandy Point on Hayling on Nov 16

Upright Hedge Parsley: Found on Portsdown on Nov 12 (Cow Parsley is also out in several places)

Wild Parsnip: Still flowering at Durlston on Nov 16

Sea Holly: A couple of fresh, newly flowering plants found at Eastney on the Portsmouth shore on Nov 14

Sea Knotgrass: A surprising addition to the flowering list with one or two flowers surviving on some plants at Sandy Point on Hayling on Nov 16

Bell Heather: A much commoner find on Hayling on Nov 16

Water Figwort: Found on Nov 12 in the edge of the Lavant stream in the north of Leigh Park (Havant) along with Marsh Ragwort, Meadow Sweet and Agrimony

Common Toadflax: Still out at Durlston on Nov 16

Wild Thyme: Also flowering at Durlston on Nov 16

Vipers Bugloss: Reported from the Rye Harbour beach on Nov 14

Borage: At the very end of its flowering cycle in Havant on Nov 13

Ploughman's Spikenard: Still out at Durlston on Nov 17

Tansy: A clump of plants looking remarkably fresh and in flower by the roadside just west of the Havant BUPA hospital on Nov 12

Winter Heliotrope: In full flower and giving off strong scent for the first time in Havant on Nov 13

OTHER WILDLIFE

Dolphin: Three Dolphins (species not stated) were seen from Durlston Country Park on Nov 13. These were probably Bottle-nosed Dolphins which are the most commonly seen species off the south coast

Common Seal: Sightings of singles off Bognor on Nov 16 and Lymington on Nov 17 may indicate that some of these are getting restless


Summary for Nov 5 - 11 (Week 45 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

The past week has seen a significant shift from autumn to winter - not only have most of the leaves now fallen from the trees but passerine autumn passage has almost ceased and wildfowl have started to arrive in earnest (though a surprising number of insects were still on the wing).

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: 15 reports of Red-throated this week included a count of 35 at Dungeness on Nov 6 and at least 11 off Selsey Bill on Nov 10. Nov 10 also brought reports of 2 Black-throated at Selsey Bill and 2 (maybe the same) at Portland with one at Christchurch Harbour. Also on Nov 10 three Great Northern were seen at Christchurch Harbour with four other sightings elsewhere during the week, On or before Nov 6 a White-billed Diver (maybe the one which had been at Selsey from Oct 9 to 26?) was off the Norfolk coast.

Red-necked Grebe: One was reported on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Nov 4 - no confirmatory news

Slavonian Grebe: Single new arrivals were at Dungeness on Nov 5 and in Poole Harbour on Nov 8. One on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Nov 10 was the third seen there this autumn

Black-necked Grebe: Still no reports from Langstone Harbour but two were reported off the Lymington shore on Nov 4 while the flock in Studland Bay had risen to 12 by Nov 5. One at the Blashford Lakes (Ringwood) on Nov 10 was previously seen there from Nov 5 to 8. In Sussex one was a new arrival at the Arlington reservoir in the Cuckmere valley on Nov 10

Sooty Shearwater: One was seen at Dungeness on Nov 8

Bittern: One was reported at Titchfield Haven on Nov 10 (probably there since Aug 29 but the only sighting in between these dates was on Nov 3). One remains at the Dungeness RSPB reserve (first seen there on Oct 6), two remain at Hatch Pond in Poole Harbour (first seen there on Oct 21), and one has been at Radipole (Weymouth) since Sep 30

Cattle Egret: Three of the four birds seen over Poole Harbour on Nov 3 were still there (at the Bestwall RSPB reserve near Swineham Point east of Wareham) on Nov 4 with the fourth bird then at Radipole. Three were still in Poole Harbour on Nov 10

Little Egret: On the evening of Nov 6 Barry Collins saw 126 Egrets fly into the roost trees just north of Thorney Little Deeps

Great White Egret: The Blashford Lakes bird was still there on Nov 8

White Stork: One reportedly seen from a moving car in the Wimborne area of Dorset on Nov 9 but no subsequent confirmation.

Spoonbill: New reports are of one at Arne in Poole Harbour on Nov 4 and a single at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Nov 5. Nov 9 brought a count of 12 still at Brownsea Island

Bewick's Swan: Two at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Nov 5 and four there on Nov 8

Whooper Swan: An interesting sighting of two flying south out to sea at Portland on Nov 6 - these may have changed their minds and flown back as two were in The Fleet near Weymouth on Nov 9 with three there on Nov 10

Black Swan: On Nov 8 one of two pairs resident on West Ashling pond (west of Chichester) had hatched 5 cygnets showing that these birds still retain their antipodean biological clocks

Whitefront Goose: On Nov 6 a Greenland (flavirostris) race bird spent most of the day at Farlington Marshese before moving on and on Nov 10 four Eurasian (albifrons) race birds were in the Lymington area. A flock of 22 were in the Rye Bay area (at Camber) on Nov 6 and bigger flocks can be seen along the east coast,

Pale-bellied Brent: One was at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Nov 10

Black Brant: Two were at Ferrybridge on Nov 8 and 9 (with a site record flock of 2100 Brent there on Nov 9) but only one was seen there on Nov 10 when other singles were at Gosport and off south east Hayling.

Wigeon: A count of 556 on the water off south east Hayling on Nov 10 was part of a surge of new arrivals in our area after a first surge in late September and early October. This is the highest figure I have seen recorded this autumn after a report of 650+ at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 8

Scaup: Two turned up on Normandy Lake at Lymington on Nov 10. A young male was there in Jan and Feb this year but the current birds are an adult female and a 'juvenile'

Velvet Scoter: November has brought eight reports of these - at Dungeness there were 4 on Nov 4, 5 on Nov 6 and 1 at the RSPB reserve there on Nov 8, while elsewhere there were 3 in Studland Bay on Nov 5, 2 at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 7 and a couple of sightings at Lepe at the mouth of Southampton Water (1 on Nov 6 and 5 on Nov 9). Most recent sighting was of one flying west off West Wittering on Nov 10.

Goldeneye: These are just starting to turn up with ten new reports though the highest count was of just four at Dungeness RSPB on Nov 4 followed by three at Ibsley Water near Ringwood on Nov 6 and three females at Newtown Harbour (IoW) on Nov 10 when one male was on the lagoon at Pagham village and two males were on Thorney Great Deeps

Red-breasted Merganser: Highest count so far was of 31 (12 on the sea plus 19 flying west) at Climping near Worthing on Nov 8 but by Nov 10 there were around 15 together in Newtown Harbour (IoW)

Goosander: On Nov 6 there were 16 on the Blashford Lakes ( a count of 5 there on Nov 10 does not imply a decrease as in the past large numbers have used the lakes as a night roost, fanning out to smaller ponds in the New Forest to feed by day). Two redheads remain on the sea off Pagham Harbour where they have been since Oct 30

Red Kite: Around 12 were seen over the Faccombe area north of Andover on Nov 7 when another 5 were seen from Beacon Hill above Burghclere near the A34

Merlin: Eleven new reports show that these are now widespread

Hobby: The last of the year seems to have been one a t Horsham on Nov 2

Red-legged Partridge: Brian Fellows had a very unusual sighting when crossing an open field between two sections of woodland west of Up Marden on Nov 5. In the field he watched a lady with four dogs which were dashing around the field, putting up five Red Legs which flew into the woodland. The dogs pursued them into the wood and Brian saw two emerge, each with a Partridge in its mouth. As he does not say if the lady was urging on her dogs or trying to restrain them it is difficult to decide if this fell within the scope of illegal hunting with dogs, and as he also does not say if the birds retrieved by the dogs were alive or dead there is a chance that the lady was using the dogs to retrieve her pet birds (also loved by the dogs?) before they came to harm out in the wild. On Nov 4 I had a more placid view of the family group of four at the north end of the Hayling West Lane fields west of the road.

Water Rail: Years ago I came on the corpse of a Water Rail at the foot of the glass walled IBM buildings at Portsmouth around this time of year - it had probably been migrating at night and had misinterpreted the view of water and reeds reflected from the glass in the moonlight. On Nov 7 another Water Rail had also met its death while on migration in the Sherborne St John area north of Basingstoke but I do not know how it came to break a wing and its neck

Golden Plover: Flocks at both West Wittering and Keyhaven were estimated as having 500 birds on Nov 10

Little Stint: Once again West Wittering has a wintering bird, seen there on Oct 27 and now on Nov 10

Purple Sandpiper: A run of eleven reports between Nov 5 and 11 shows that more birds have recently reached the south coast. None at Southsea this time but on Nov 10 there were two at Selsey Bill and five at Barton on sea with another 5 at Portland and 2 at Christchurch Harbour

Jack Snipe: Two birds have been giving several birders good sightings on the Lymington marshes this week - on Nov 10 they were feeding in the open for several minutes and one is described to have given a demonstration of the art of 'trampolining' (something I have not heard of before - do they jump up and down in the same way as Black-headed Gulls 'paddle' the ground to deceive worms into thinking that it is raining and so fairly safe to put their heads up above ground?)

Woodcock: More evidence of these arriving from the continent - on Nov 5 one was flushed from cover on top of Hengistbury Head at Christchurch Harbour and on Nov 6 one was seen to fly in off the sea in the Thanet area (north east Kent). On Nov 7 another new arrival was found squashed on a road at Ramsgate (flying in exhausted it maybe flopped down on the road to recover its breath only to have a rude non-awakening) - another theory is that the bird mistook a shiny black road surface for a river and thought it would find cover on the banks of the stream. Yet another arrival touched down safely in Hastings country park that day.

Spotted Redshank: On Nov 5 one arrived back in the Maisemore Gardens stream where it enters Chichester Harbour just east of Nore Barn Wood on the Emsworth shore (where one was regularly seen through much of last winter). Predictably it was there again next day with a couple of Greenshank

Common Sandpiper: A group of seven were seen by the River Adur in the Upper Beeding area on Nov 3 - presumably wintering there.

Pomarine Skua: One was off Portland on Nov 4 but many more may soon be seen as at least 500 are said to be in the North Sea during the past week (17 were seen together of the Thanet shore in Kent on Nov 4). Since writing that in mid-week there have not been any large numbers along the south coast but Nov 10 saw reports of 3 passing Dungeness, 4 at Selsey Bill, 1 passing Worthing and 1 in the west Solent plus a rare visit of one into Langstone Harbour where it stayed around South Binness island for several hours to the delight of birders both at Farlington Marshes and on the Hayling shore (this is the first seen in the harbour since Sep 2000)

Arctic Skua: A few of these occasionally decide to fly overland and so one seen at the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood on Nov 6 was not unprecedented.

Ring-billed Gull: The regular Gosport bird was seen at the Cockle Pond on Nov 7 and 10 at least

Common Gull: 300 were at Rye Harbour on Nov 8 and 52 were recorded at Christchurch Harbour on Nov 10 so numbers should now increase all along the south coast (although by day these gulls are more likely to be seen well inland than along the shore)

Kittiwake: On Nov 9 Selsey Bill reported 142 flying west, increasing to 1440 passing there on Nov 10

Sandwich Tern: Inland records of Terns are not unusual when they are on passage or attempting to breed but one that is almost certainly intending to stay for the winter was a surprise visitor at Eastleigh Lakeside country park on Nov 7 - first seen settled on a bridge and later fishing.

Auk species: The total passing Selsey Bill on Nov 10 was around 300 (most of them Razorbills)

Guillemot: Nov 5 brought an unusual sighting (supported by a photo) of one flying fast and low through the University of Sussex campus at Falmer by day

Little Auk: Many have been seen in the North Sea during the past week and may be expected to exit through the English Channel before long but so far I have only seen three reports, all on Nov 10 when 6 were seen at Dungeness, 1 in Rye Bay and 2 off Worthing.

Woodpigeon: The great annual migration seems to have ceased with no reports after Nov 7

Eagle Owl: One seen in a garden in the Poole area on Oct 24 was presumably an escape

Long-eared Owl: One roosting at Rye Harbour on Nov 9 seems to be the first to have settled into winter quarters

Short-eared Owl: Nine reports this week show that these are now widespread along the south coast - latest sighting was of two hunting the fields west of Pagham Harbour on Nov 10. Earlier one was at Hook/Warsash on Nov 4

Green Woodpecker: On Nov 10 one was seen perched on an apple tree eating apples

Swallow: On Nov 10 there were sightings of no more than two birds at Rye Harbour, Selsey, Blackfield near Fawley on Southampton Water, and at Titchfield Haven

House Martin: Latest reported sighting was of two at Rye Harbour on Nov 8

Water Pipit: Two, maybe four, were in the Titchfield Haven area on Nov 10

Waxwing: First reports of them in Britain during last week included 18 in Aberdeenshire, 14 in the Highland area, and 1 at Titchwell in Norfolk

Wheatear: Last report I have seen was of one near Swanage on Nov 7

Ring Ouzel: No reports since Nov 3

Fieldfare: 300 flew over the Coldwaltham area south of Pulborough on Nov 8 - here have also been many sightings of smaller numbers

Mistle Thrush: Still very few being reported and only two reports of song so far - one heard at Alton on Oct 6 and then a whole month before one was in full song at Pulborough Brooks on Nov 6

Blackcap: Two reports this week sound as if winter birds are arriving - a male was eating Rowan berries in a Crowborough garden on Nov 4 and another was in a garden at Mountfield near Hastings on Nov 6. Nov 7 brought news of one newly back in a Locks Heath garden near Fareham

Bearded Tit: A total of 40 at Portland Bill (where there are no reeds) on Nov 6 shows that their autumn movement is probably now at its height.

Long Tailed Tit: I am now coming across them daily after not seeing any for months, and a notable increase in reports from many different sites indicates that many have recently reached us from the continent. Looking back through the Hampshire Ringing Recovery reports I see that one ringed at Winchester in Sep 1999 was recovered at Portland in Mar 2000 - commenting on this the report says "In Britain Long-tailed Tits are considered sedentary but between 1982 and 1996 10% of recoveries were of birds that had travelled more than 100 Km"

Marsh Tit: These are suddenly becoming newsworthy with one at Horsham on Nov 5 (eating peanuts in a garden), four in woods near Horsham on Nov 5, one in the West Marden area (north of Chichester) on Nov 7 and two heard in woods near Up Marden on Nov 9

Great Grey Shrike: A 'new' bird was briefly at Rye Harbour on Nov 9, others remain in Ashdown Forest, New Forest and at Lavington Common near Pulborough

Magpie: Bob Chapman found a night roost of more than 50 at the north end of Titchfield Haven on the evening of Nov 10. I wonder if there is still a similar night roost in the woods north of Portsdown between Purbrook and Southwick? - many years ago I remember finding up to 100 on the edge of the woods at around SU 656088 around this time of year.

Starling: Several recent reports indicate that large numbers are currently arriving from the continent - on Nov 2 1100 came in off the sea at Portland, on Nov 3 3000 arrived at Dungeness with 2000 coming in there on Nov 4 and on Nov 5 1500 came in at Portland. A report of 75 coming in and flying north over Selsey Bill on Nov 5 shows that migrants can come in at a number of places (mosly unseen).

Snow Bunting: One seen at Lymington on Nov 4 seems to have been the first to reach Hampshire this winter.

Escapee: A Harris Hawk with no jesses was seen over the Thorney Great Deeps on Nov 10

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Migrant Hawker: One at Titchfield Haven on Nov 10

Common Darter: Five new November reports including 15 seen near Rye on Nov 5 and several at Titchfield Haven on Nov 10

Butterflies - latest sightings

Clouded Yellow: Being seen daily up to at least Nov 7

Brimstone: Two sightings on Nov 3

Large White: One at Bournemouth on Nov 6

Small White: One at Bournemouth on Nov 7

Small Copper: One at Brighton on Nov 6

Holly Blue: One nectaring on ivy at south Hayling on Nov 10 may well be a new record late date

Red Admiral: Still around on Nov 10

Painted Lady: One at Worthing on Nov 6

Peacock: One near Eastbourne on Nov 5

Speckled Wood: At two Sussex sites on Nov 9

Meadow Brown: One at Durlston on Nov 5 and one at Shoreham Mill Hill on Nov 6

Moths

Scarce Umber: First report from Worthing area on Nov 7

Figure of Eight: First of year at Findon (Worthing) on Nov 7

Heart and Dart: A late find of one at Portland on Nov 3

The Sprawler: First of year found when they interrupted a talk being given by Adrian Thomas by banging on the window of the hall at Henfield (Woods Mill)

Other Insects

Harlequin Ladybird: A report of 'thousands' seen at Port Lympne Zoo in the Romney Marsh area of Kent on Nov 5 was interesting for a couple of reasons. The first was that these were not just adults going to hibernate but included both larvae and pupae found on Norway Maple and Sycamore trees, and amusingly a number of the adults were annoying Tigers in the Zoo by settling on them.

Oak Bush Cricket: One still active in the Thanet area of Kent on Nov 6

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

163 species have been seen in flower so far in November, 148 of them seen by myself

Lesser Spearwort: Freshly flowering at Havant Thicket on Nov 8

Yelllow Horned Poppy: At least 10 were in flower on the south Hayling shore on Nov 2

Black Mustard: Still flowering at Emsworth Marina on Nov 10

Sea Rocket: Still flowering at Black Point on Hayling on Nov 10

Viola tricolour: A small last flower was still to be seen on the Hayling Billy Line track at Langstone on Nov 5

Sea Campion: Many flowers in the shelter of a Hayling Beach Hut by the Kite Surfers carpark on Nov 6

Lesser Stitchwort: Flowering in Havant Thicket on Nov 8

Thyme-leaved Sandwort: Flowering near West Marden on Nov 7

Round-leaved Cranesbill: Still flowering at The Ship inn at Langstone on Nov 5

Small-flowered Cranesbill: Also flowering at Langstone on Nov 5

Shining Cranesbill: The two flowers seen in south east Havant on Nov 2 were down to one flower on Nov 5

Dwarf Gorse: Seen in Havant thicket on Nov 8

Tufted Vetch: Seen near West Marden on Nov 7

Wild Parsnip: Freshly flowering on Portsdown on Nov 9

Strawberry Tree: The tree by the Emsworth Slipper Mill Pond was covered with blossom on Nov 10

Thrift (Sea Pink): Flowering with the Sea Campion in the shelter of a Hayling beach hut on Nov 6

Common Centaury: Still out on Portchester Common (Portsdown) on Nov 9 (along with Yellow-wort)

Intermediate Periwinkle: Two flowers seen in the hedge around the Havant Health Centre on Nov 5

Cock's Eggs: Plenty of flowers still to be seen at the Sinah Common site on Nov 6

Verbascum macrocarpum: One plant still had 15 flowers at Hayling North Common on Nov 8

Common Toadflax: Reported from Durlston on Nov 6

Pale Toadflax: A second flowering had produced a good show of flowers at the Sinah Common site on Nov 6

Eyebright: Reported from Durlston on Nov 6

Common Calamint: Found near West Marden on Nov 7

Marjoram: Still out on Nov 9 both on Portsdown and near Up Marden

Betony: An unexpected find at Havant Thicket on Nov 8

Clustered and Nettle-leaved Bellflower: Both still flowering on Nov 7 near West Marden

Scabious: Small Scabious seen on downland near Lewes on Nov 4 and Field Scabious was flowering by the Billy Line in Havant on Nov 5

Devils Bit Scabious: Flowering in Havant Thicket on Nov 8

Shaggy Soldier: Seen at two sites in the Havant area on Nov 5

Stinking Iris: A very unexpected report from Durlston on Nov 6 (not sure if this does not refer to a sighting of the plant's colourful berries)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Common Seal: One seen off Hook/Warsash on Nov 7 and Titchfield Haven on Nov 10 may well have been one of the Chichester Harbour colony exploring the Solent

Mole: As is usual at this time of year moles are preparing for the winter and extending their tunnels to ensure a continued supply of worms which may become scarce if the ground becomes frozen - when at Havant Thicket on Nov 8 I noticed a large number of fresh mole hills.

Water Vole: This summer a survey of the Brook Meadow area streams for signs of Water Voles reported in June that 12 burrows and 10 latrines had been found, indicating a healthy population still present in the area, but there have been fewer reports of casual sightings this year than in past years and no reports that I have picked up since July 19, so a sighting in the River Ems on Nov 4 was welcome news.

White Squirrel: Grey Squirrels with 'all white' fur are not uncommon in Portsmouth and the surrounding area (I think they are technically not true albinos) and a relatively tame one was seen in Portsmouth's Victoria Park on Nov 9

Fungi: On Nov 5 the Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) was still present on the sawn off butt end of a large fallen tree in Pook Lane at Warblington and a further look at the tree helped to confirm my thought that the tree had been an Ash (this fungus is known to grow on Elm and Beech but not, as far as I know, on other trees). In the ditch further down the lane a log had a good show of young Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius).

On Nov 6 a decaying Horse Chestnut tree in Havant Park (tree is close to the southernmost shops on the west side of Market Parade) had a good show of Giant Polypore at its base (as last year) and looking up I could see several large fresh Ganoderma type brackets. Nearby, in flower beds in Havant Rail Station forecourt, one fresh Fly Agaric was a surprise (with it were two withered specimens whose caps had turned orange)

On Nov 8 several Field Mushrooms were seen on North Common, Hayling and on Nov 7 Orange Peel fungus was found at Durlston


Summary for Oct 29 - Nov 4 (Week 44 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Divers: The White Billed Diver which was to be seen off Selsey Bill from Oct 9 to 26 has not been reported since then but both Red and Black-throated Divers were at Selsey on Oct 30 and 31 (with several Red-throated elsewhere this week). A Great Northern was off Portland on Oct 31and one was off Durlston on Nov 3.

Slavonian Grebe: Just one was on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Oct 31

Black-necked Grebe: A flock of 9 has been in Studland Bay all this week and a single has been at Abbotsbury near Weymouth

Sooty Shearwater: One (probably the same bird) was seen off Worthing and Ventnor on Oct 28. The only other October reports of this species were of singles at Dungeness on Oct 1 and 20

Gannet: A large movement of 1020 Gannets west was reported from Worthing on Oct 28 (2 hour count). This is the first four figure count since 5000+ were recorded at Portland in one day on Aug 14

Bittern: Singles reported during the week in the Kent Stour Valley, at Dungeness RSPB, at Hatch Pond in Poole Harbour and at Radipole (Weymouth). Nov 3 brought a sighting of one in flight (and landing in reeds) at Titchfield Haven - the first reported there since Aug 29

Cattle Egret: Four flew over Poole Harbour on Nov 3 (one subsequently seen on the ground there)

Little Egret: Maybe of interest was a mention in Lee Evans national Rare Bird report for Oct 30 of a night roost of up to 272 Little Egrets at a Norfolk site called Bone's Drift.

Spoonbill: On Oct 29 the count of Spoonbills at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour was down to 12 (a flock of 26 has been there from Oct 11 to 21) and on Nov 1 only 7 were reported

Mute Swan: A note on the Rye Bay website for Oct 29 mentions that a large number of Swans in the Romney Marsh area currently spend their days feeding in oilseed rape fields.

Bewicks Swan: The first mention of this species comes on Oct 28 and surprisingly from the River Avon south of Ringwood where four adults were present. Oct 29 brought news of at least two more arriving, flying in off the sea at Sandwich Bay in Kent

Whooper Swan: Six were at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 30. The only previous reports for this winter were of 2 at Pagham Harbour on Oct 18 and 3 flying over the Wareham area of Dorset on Oct 23

Pinkfoot Goose: Some have now settled in Kent and a flock of 32 flew over Rye on Nov 1

Whitefront Goose: Up to at least 30 were settled in the Kent Stour valley on Nov 2

Canada Goose: A report of 1000+ in one flock at Piddinghoe Pond by the Sussex Ouse north of Newhaven on Oct 30 comes in a message extolling the pleasures of walking in that area - I hope the author was exaggerating this pleasure as it is the first 1000+ flock I have ever heard of.

Brent Goose: The arrival of 22 juveniles (in a flock of 190 geese) in Emsworth Harbour on Oct 30 gave additional hope that the final percentage of young will not be disastrously low this year. Also on Oct 30 there was a considerable increase in the number of Brent along the north Hayling and Langstone shoreline (showing that the birds have already lost their initial wariness of human activity). One flock of 30 geese flying north over the north Hayling fields suggested that the birds will soon be landing on those and other fields.

Pale-bellied Brent: The first of the autumn was in The Fleet near Weymouth on Oct 19 and one was still there on Nov 3 but for local interest 2 were with the Brent flock at West Wittering on Nov 1

Brant: One was in Portsmouth Harbour close to Priddy's Hard (near the Explosion Museum) at Gosport on Nov2, 3 and 4 while another was in the Moonfleet area of The Fleet near Weymouth on Nov 3

Shelduck: A count of 60 in the Hayling North Common shore area (east of the marina) on Oct 30 was the first 'normal winter' count for the area (hopefully the count will soon be around 100)

Wigeon: These too made their first full scale appearance on the Emsworth shore with a count of 74 off the western shore on Oct 30

Teal: The count on the Hook shore at Warsash rose from less than 50 in September to 136 on Oct 4, 184 on Oct 17 and now 258 on Oct 30

Pintail: 29 present at Hook/Warsash on Oct 30 and 18 seen in Nutbourne Bay (Chichester Harbour) on Nov 3

Garganey: One was still being reported from the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 29

Ferruginous Duck hybrids: I have heard no more of the 'Fudge duck' (Ferruginous x Pochard but looking very close to a true Ferruginous) since it returned to the Budds Farm pools at Havant on Oct 19 for its eighth successive winter (it was first seen at Farlington Marshes on 23 Nov 1999 but soon moved to Budds Farm). I was reminded of this by a report and photo of another hybrid (this one looking much more like a male Pochard with pale flanks but the bright yellow eye of Ferruginous) which turned up at Rye Harbour on or shortly before Oct 30 (and may have been there last winter) - this one has been given the name 'Porruginous Duck'.

Surf Scoter: Two immature birds were in Studland Bay, Dorset, on Oct 30 - the first for this winter

Velvet Scoter: One, also the first for this winter, was off Dungeness on Oct 28

Smew: One was said to have been seen at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 29 (not a conifdent report)

Red-breasted Merganser: Still no large numbers but I had my first two redheads of this winter in the Hayling Oysterbeds lagoon on Oct 30. On Nov 1 there were 13 in Chichester Harbour off West Wittering

Goosander: Reports from two coastal sites this week. One redhead was at the RSPB Dungeness reserve on Oct 29 and 30 (and again on Nov 3) and two redheads were close inshore on the sea off Pagham Harbour on Oct 30 and 31 (and again on Nov 1)

Ruddy Duck: The female was seen on Budds Farm pools on Nov 3

Marsh Harrier: One flew south over Horsham on Oct 28 and on Oct 31 John Chapman happened to be on the Langstone South Moors when one flew low overhead going southwest (very close to being a garden tick for him!). Four other reports this week of single birds going south

Sparrowhawk: Three reports of migrants arriving from the continent. At Dungeness 9 came in on Oct 30 and another 6 on Nov 3, while at Christchurch Harbour two flew in off the sea on Nov 2

Hobby: A late bird was reported at Horsham on Nov 2

Little Crake: This is a species that I have not come across before among the south coast sightings that I monitor and the current sighting remains only a possible based on a very brief glimpse of a bird out in the open at Grove Ferry in the Kent Stour Valley before disappearing into dense cover on Oct 28. The species is a rare vagrant to Britain. Birdguides does list one confirmed report for this year but that was in the Shetlands during May and June - just 42 British records before this year.

Avocet: Three were at Farlington Marshes on or about Oct 28 but if you want to see them go to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour where there were 1247 on Oct 29. At the end of August there were 185 at Brownsea and on Oct 12 that had risen to 1150. Nearer home 6 (including a juvenile) were in Nutbourne Bay (east of Emsworth) on Nov 3

Woodcock: Two were seen going to roost in a quarry near the West High Down on the IoW at dawn on Oct 27, and on Nov 1 one was flushed from Bembridge Down - not sure if these were normal residents or winter visitors

Black-tailed Godwit: On Oct 28 Farlington Marshes was home to 278 birds while Brownsea Island in Dorset had 1617

Whimbrel: What were almost certainly single wintering birds were at Cowes on the IoW on Oct 29 and at Church Norton (Pagham Harbour) on Oct 30 and 31

Spotted Redshank: Two are said to be back in the Emsworth area of Chichester Harbour but none have so far been seen at Nore Barn

Greenshank: At least 8 are now regular in the Emsworth area

Common Sandpiper: On Nov 3 singles (presumably wintering birds) were at the mouth of the Hermitage Stream at Broadmarsh in Langstone Harbour, at the Blashford Lake near Ringwood, and at Christchurch Harbour

Med Gull: In past year I have seen regular reports of post-breeding flocks of Med Gulls on the Isle of Wight (near Bembridge Foreland) and in Pagham Harbour but not in Dorset (probably because I have not been checking sources of info about Dorset until recently). However, a count of 57 Med Gulls in The Fleet near Weymouth on Nov 2 this year exceeds the highest count from the Weymouth area last winter (37 birds on Dec 24) by a good margin, and in 2005 the highest count from Dorset was just 21 birds in Portland Harbour (again on Dec 24)

Little Gull: 11 were seen off Worthing on Oct 28 and more than 20 were 'dip feeding' on the sea off nearby Widewater Lagoon on Oct 29

Sandwich Tern: Two in Chichester Harbour off West Wittering on Nov 1 are presumably wintering birds - a Common Tern in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 28 and an Arctic Tern there the same day were more likely to be late migrants

Little Auk: One was in Studland Bay near the mouth of Poole Harbour on Oct 31

Stock Dove: Peak autumn passage counts so far were both at Christchurch Harbour - 132 birds on Oct 30 and 136 on Nov 1

Woodpigeon: Vast numbers were moving over the south coast on Oct 29, 30 and 31 - most were heading along the coastal strip to the departure point they preferred, where they would turn south. I have no idea what the total number was but counts at individual sites were up to 22,880 over Seaton in Devon and 31,000 over Dawlish, also in Devon - both on the morning of Oct 30. The next highest count was of 11,000 birds going south over Portland on Oct 30 (when 3,084 went south west over Broadmarsh here on the north shore of Langstone Harbour) but large flocks of birds were on the move everywhere along the south coast and may have left us at many different points (2500+ went south from Selsey Bill on Oct 30 but at Beachy Head on Oct 31 a count of 5000 birds was listed as heading west, not out to sea). November saw 22,500 over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 1, 17,000 there on Nov 2 and more than 16,000 there on Nov 3. A local count on Nov 2 was of 1,180 going east (against the normal flow) over the QE country park near Petersfield

Short-eared Owl: On Oct 27 one was at Atherfield (near St Catherine's Point) on the IoW, on Oct 29 one was near Pagham Harbour and on Oct 30 one was seen 'quartering the water' in Chichester Harbour off West Wittering (not seen to catch any fish!) - this last bird probably changed its tactics to be the one seen hunting the Pagham spit shingle on Oct 31

Kingfisher: On Oct 30 I watched one twice hovering (just as steady as a Kestrel) about ten feet above the water off Langstone Mill and on Oct 31 John Chapman saw one fishing from the sea wall just west of Langstone Bridge.

Woodlark: 9 went over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 29, 12 were in the West Bay area near Bridport on Oct 31 and 19 were seen to fly in off the sea at Dungeness on Nov 3

Skylark: On Oct 30 a count of 1360 was recorded passing over the West Bay area near Bridport in Dorset (ten times the number seen there on Oct 29 or at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 30). Here in Hampshire counts were of just 22 going over Broadmarsh on Oct 30 and 14 over Hook/Warsash that day.

Shorelark: One seen on Tennyson Down (IoW) on Oct 31 was not seen again

Sand Martin: A single very late bird was over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 3

Swallow: Still being seen daily at favoured coastal sites but the highest counts were of 18 at Durlston on Oct 29 (with 15 there on Oct 30 and 6 on Oct 31). Sandwich Bay on the east coast of Kent recorded 53 on Nov 2

House Martin: 190 flew south from the IoW on Oct 27 but the only other new reports are from Durlston (9 on Oct 30 and 15 on Oct 31). The only report since Oct 31 has been of 34 at Sandwich Bay on Nov 2

Richard's Pipit: Singles seen at Portland on Oct 30 and at Barton on sea in Hants on Nov 4

Black Redstart: One was seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 22 but did not stay beyond Oct 23. More recently one was seen in the Paulsgrove area just south of Portsdown on Oct 31

Wheatear: One still present at Durlston on Nov 3 and one on the Isle of Wight on Nov 1

Ring Ouzel: November sightings at Durlston on Nov 1, Bembridge Down (IoW) on Nov 2 and Portland on Nov 3

Backbird: A high count of 100 at Portland on Nov 3 as more arrive from the continent

Song Thrush: I have been expecting to hear full song from one soon, and early on the morning of Oct 30 I dashed out to hear one belting out its full song from a tree at the bottom of my garden (loud enough to be heard clearly indoors above the radio and other noises). After less than a minute of this the bird stopped and has not been heard again - I guess it was a migrant male just arrived here and trying to see if it could interest any females in the area but not getting any response it moved on.

Mistle Thrush: These are currently in very short supply - a flock of 37 in the Meon Valley on Aug 12 was the only two figure count of local breeding birds (to be compared to flocks of up to 200+ in Hampshire during the 1970s) and in October the highest counts (out of just 21 reports for the month) were a group of 6 seen on the Isle of Wight on Oct 17 and a group of 8 on the Sussex Downs on Oct 2. November has started with another group of 6 going over Christchurch Harbour on Nov 2. As yet only one bird has been heard to sing this autumn.

Barred Warbler: A juvenile was seen well by several birders in bushes just north of the Sinah gravel pit lake on south Hayling on the morning of Oct 29 - for an excellent picture of it taken by Ian Julian go to http://www.natureandpictures.co.uk/albums/LATEST%20PICTURES/slides/latest-02.html (you can see another picture of the bird by clicking the number 1 above the picture, this being number 2). Alistair Martin, who has sent me an even better picture of the bird, says that it had a large mite or tick on its head and seemed to wilt visibly during the course of the one day it was seen.

Lesser Whitethroat: A very late bird at Durlston on Nov 3

Garden Warbler: Two late birds on Oct 29 - one at Portland and one at Dungeness

Bearded Tit: 18 at Portland on Oct 30 were clearly in transit

Marsh Tit: A mention of a few seen in the Hastings area on Nov 3 reminds me how scarce these have become in our south east Hampshire area - since the beginning of August I have only heard of them at three local sites (Old Winchester Hill in the Meon valley where they were reported on three days, Goodwood Trundle north of Chichester, and Amberley area south of Pulborough)

Red-backed Shrike: An unexpected bird was present at Abbotsbury near Weymouth on Oct 30

Great Grey Shrike: In Sussex the regular birds are still at Lavington Common and in Ashdown Forest, and in the New Forest there have been sightings at Leaden Hall and Bratley Plain, both on Oct 30

Raven: When the Havant Wildlife Group was at East Head (Sussex side of the mouth of Chichester Harbour) on Oct 27 they watched a pair of Ravens eating carrion and you can see Ian Julian's picture of one of them at http://www.natureandpictures.co.uk/albums/LATEST%20PICTURES/slides/latest-05.html

Starling: More than 1000 flew in off the sea at Portland on Nov 2 with another 1100 there on Nov 3 (when 3000 came in at Dungeness)

Chaffinch: On Oct 29 more than 2000 passed over Christchurch Harbour and on Oct 30 the count at West Bay near Bridport was 2513

Brambling: Counts of these have also gone up with 65 passing over Durlston on Oct 30 (and 8 over Broadmarsh here in Havant on Oct 30). Their rate of arrival has also gone up with a peak count of 230 coming in at Dungeness on Oct 30

Serin: Just one seen over Durlston on Oct 30. Since Aug 23 (when one was at Portland) there has only been one other report of Serin, at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 15

Twite: First report of the winter is of a single at Durlston on Oct 29

Crossbill: A group of more than five birds in Milkham Inclosure (New Forest) on Oct 30 and 31contained one male making calls suggesting it could be a Two-barred Crossbill. On Oct 31 it was also making display flights.

Bullfinch: A count of 27 migrants passing over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 29 was the largest of the 26 reports of migrants so far this autumn (the total of all 26 counts is 149 birds)

Hawfinch: One over Durslton and three flying west over the Blashford Lake at Ringwood, both on Oct 31, seem to be the first indication of this species on the move. Another was seen near Swanage on Nov 1

Lapland Bunting: One over Portland on Oct 29 and maybe the same over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 30. More recently one was over Barton on sea in Hants on Nov 4.

Snow Bunting: Just starting to arrive in the south - one at Sandwich Bay on Oct 27, one at Pett Level on Rye Bay on both Oct 27 and 28, and three at Sandwich Bay on Oct 29

Corn Bunting: A winter flock is starting to build up at Rye Harbour ith 42 birds there on Nov 1

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Southern Hawker: What was very probably one of these was flying in the Botley Woods area north of Fareham on Nov 2

Migrant Hawer: Still flying at Cherque Farm (north of Browndown which is west of Gosport) on Nov 3

Red-veined Darter: More than 20 on the wing at Cherque Farm on Nov 3

Common Darter: Also seen at Cherque Farm on Nov 3

Butterflies (Fourteen species flying in November)

Clouded Yellow: Singles at both Cissbury Ring (north of Worthing) and Bexhill (west of Hastings) on Nov 3

Brimstone: November sightings In Leigh Park (Havant) and at Crawley on Nov 1 and near Eastbourne on Nov 3

Large White: Seen at Durlston on Nov 2

Small White: Seen on Thorney Island on Nov 1 and at Bexhill on Nov 3

Small Copper: Flying on Thorney Island on Nov 1 and at Cissbury Ring on Nov 3

Brown Argus: One at Cissbury Ring on Nov 3

Common Blue: A female at Cissbury Ring on Nov 3

Red Admiral: Still seen daily with reports from four sites on Nov 3

Painted Lady: Latest was at Durlston on Nov 2

Small Tortoiseshell: One at Durlston on Nov 3

Peacock: One at Bexhill on Nov 3

Comma: Flying at both Durlston and the Worthing area on Nov 3

Speckled Wood: Seen at Durlston and Crawley on Nov 3

Meadow Brown: One at Durlston and one in an Edburton garden north of Brighton - both on Nov 3

Moths

Feathered Thorn: First of the year reported from the Worthing area on Oct 31

Flame Brocade: First at Portland on Oct 29

Scarlet Tiger caterpillar: One discovered by accident in Friston Forest on Oct 27 ws the first proof of this moth breeding in Sussex since 1929

Other Insects

Ophion luteus: This reddish coloured Ichneumon was still being found in a Newhaven moth trap on Nov 1 - this species parasitises various caterpillars

Hornet: Surprisingly few reports this autumn but on was seen at Hook/Warsash on Oct 30 and another turned up at Portland that day

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The total count of species seen in flower during October now stands at 237 of which I have seen 210 personally. By Nov 4 my November count was already up to 90

Stream Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus penicillatus): This had resumed flowering in two local streams on Nov 3 (not seen in October)

Black Mustard: Still flowering at Emsworth on Nov 1

Perforate St John's Wort: A few late flowers at Broadmarsh on Nov 3

Sweet Violet: A single flower in St Thomas churchyard (Old Bedhampton) on Nov 3 is probably the precursor of many more this month

Corn Spurrey: Reflowering in a harvested arable field at Warblington on Nov 2

Round-leaved Cranesbill: Flowering at The Ship inn at Langstone on Oct 30 but not yet looked for in November

Shining Cranesbill: An unexpected bonus at a regular site on Nov 2 (I don't recall autumn reflowering of this species before this year)

Hairy Vetchling (Lathyrus hirsutus): Another bonus - just five flowers found at Broadmarsh on Nov 3

Dwarf Spurge: Several plants flourishing as arable weeds at Warblington on Nov 2

Pepper Saxifrage: Still flowering at Emsworth Brook Meadow on Nov 2

Strawberry Tree: On Sep 4 the tree at Northney Church on Hayling seemed close to the end of its flowering but the tree by the Emsworth Slipper Mill Pond did not start flowering until the end of September. Now, on Oct 30, the Northney tree has fresh flowers. Maybe these trees, like the Tamarisks on the shore, flower repeatedly through the warmer months of the years and are not in synch with each other.

Yellow Pimpernel: Flowers seen by Brian Fellows in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Oct 30 seem to be the first to be seen since Aug 11 and so add another species to the October flowering list

Verbascum macrocarpum: One of the plants at the Hayling North Common site has escaped the attentions of the vandals who had bashed it and its companion in September and on Oct 30 it had several spikes with flowers

Sharp and Round-leaved Fluellen: Both flowering among the arable weeds at Warblington on Nov 2

Hybrid Water Speedwell: One plant flowering in the Hermitage Stream at Bedhampton on Nov 3

Slender Speedwell: A single flower in St Faith's churchyard in Havant on Nov 1

Spotted Deadnettle: A very pretty garden escape found in the Emsworth west shore area on Nov 2

Field Woundwort: Abundant among the arable weeds at Warblington on Nov 2

Fleabane: A late flowering plant on Hayling Island on Oct 30 - not yet found in November

Golden Samphire: Still a few flowers on the Warblington shore on Nov 2

Blue Fleabane: Flowering at Broadmarsh on Nov 3

Chinese Mugwort: This never flowers until October - I missed the plants at Broadmarsh in October but found them flowering on Nov 3

Red-hot Poker: Two spikes of this garden escape were flowering in Church Lane at Warblington on Nov 2

Cockspur grass: On Oct 29 I found yet another site at which this grass is prolific on a footpath going east from the Hundred Acres area near Wickham in the Meon Valley

OTHER WILDLIFE

Frog: Many had returned to a garden pond near Hastings by Nov 3 - will we have Frogspawn in November this year?

Common (Smooth) Newt: At least one had returned to a garden pond at Northiam near Hastings on Nov 3

Fungi: A dozen Fly Agaric in the grass by the roadside in Beacon Square at Emsworth were seen on Oct 29 but had vanished by Oct 31. More unusual finds were of a Cauliflower Fungus (Sparassis crispa - also called Brain Fungus but unrelated to Yellow Brain!) on Oct 30 in the Sling area of Stansted Forest (at the foot of a Monterey Pine near the Rowlands Castle Lodges), and a big display of Agrocybe rivulosa on a mound of wood chips at a Tree Surgeon premises in North Boarhunt (opposite the village Social Club at SU 604111) seen on Oct 29. This fungus was new to science when found in Holland in 2003 and spread to England in 2004 - by now it is found in most parts of Britain but this is the first time I have come across it. At the same site there was a good show of Grey Coral fungus.

Since writing the above in mid-week more Agrocybe rivulosa has appeared on wood chips in the Palmers Road Copse at Brook Meadow in Emsworth (Nov 2) and a beautiful fresh growth of Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) had been seen on the sawn butt end of a dead tree in Pook Lane at Warblington (also Nov 2) - later in that visit to the Warblington Farm fields I found my first Stubble Rosegill (Volvariella speciosa) of the autumn. By Nov 1 the Waxcaps on my lawn numbered 37 Snowy Waxcap (Hygrocybe virginea), 50+ Parrot Waxcap and 3 Meadow Waxcaps


Summary for Oct 22 - 28 (Week 43 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: One was inside Chichester Harbour off Ella Nore (south of Thorney Island) on Oct 26 and the one on the River Itchen in the middle of Southampton was still there on Oct 24 (it arrived in summer plumage on Oct 3)

Black-throated Diver: One was seen passing Selsey Bill on Oct 25

White-billed Diver: Still off Selsey Bill on Oct 26 (there since Oct 9)

Slavonian Grebe: One seen inside Pagham Harbour on Oct 24 (but so far no flock of them offshore there)

Black-necked Grebe: No further reports from Langstone Harbour since the passing bird on Aug 24 but one was in Chchester Harbour off Ella Nore on Oct 26 and a new bird arrived in Dorset at the Abbotsbury Swannery on Oct 24 staying to 25

Cattle Egret: After the one seen at Bewl Water in Sussex on Oct 12 two were seen in the Kent Stour valley on Oct 19 and one was subsequently at Rainham Marshes in Essex. Oct 24 brought a brief local sighting at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Pagham Harbour) before flying off in a north easterly direction.

Spoonbill: The flock of 26 was still at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour up to Oct 21 but on Oct 24 one was seen flying over the Horton area (west of Ringwood) and on Oct 27 the report from Brownsea was of only 13 birds

Mute Swan: The usual large flock in the Fishbourne Channel near Chichester numbered 112 on Oct 23

Whooper Swan: The two reported at Pagham Harbour on Oct 18 have not been seen there again but may have flown west to give a report of three flying over the Wareham area in Dorset on Oct 23 (taking a very roundabout route to Slimbridge??)

Brent Goose: Maybe we are starting to see the main body of Brent that have raised young this year starting to arrive in southern England. On Oct 25 a sample count of 105 birds in the Swale estuary (north Kent) found 56 young - I don't know how representative that is of the whole flock there which has grown to 2200 birds by Oct 27. Another count came from West Wittering on Oct 26, giving 61 young among a total of 608 geese

Wigeon: A total of 400 in Pagham Harbour on Oct 24 with 200 Pintail

Garganey: One was still being reported at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 23

Scaup: A first winter male was seen in the Selsey west fields area on Oct 21 and up to three are being reported at the Abbotsbury Swannery near Weymouth

Lesser Scaup: One has apparently settled at Stourton in Wiltshire

Long-tailed Duck: John Norton had a probable sighting of two flying past Gilkicker Point at Gosport on Oct 21 - the first report of this winter

Red-breasted Merganser: Three were seen in Langstone Harbour off the Hayling Oysterbeds on Oct 22, the first report in this harbour since one off Farlington Marshes on Oct 7. The first in Hampshire waters were two in Portsmouth Harbour on Sep 26 with 8 there on Oct 18. Others have been seen in the west Solent since Oct 7 and the latest reports include 9 seen in Chichester Harbour on Oct 26 from Ella Nore near West Wittering

Sparrowhawk: A male tried (but failed) to get its supper from the Pied Wagtail roost in trees around the Havant Tesco store in gloomy semi-darkness on the evening of Oct 27

Rough-legged Buzzard: One was reportedly seen at Lavington Common near Pulborourgh on Oct 21 - as Common Buzzards show great variety in plumage and behaviour (and Rough-legged are uncommon in Sussex and Hampshire) I was sceptical about this but I see that Lee Evans is reporting small numbers currently arriving on the east coast from Scandinavia. Subsequently one was seen well both on the ground and flying south in the Lewes area on Oct 26 (when there was another sighting at Reculver on the north Kent coast)

Hobby: Two singles seen on Oct 21 (one on the Isle of Wight, the other near Bridport in Dorset) may have been the last for this year

Water Rail: An indication that these ungainly flyers are currently making long journeys to winter quarters comes from two sightings at coastal sites which have no marshy areas - one was at Portland Bill on Oct 24 and another was at Beachy Head (Whitbread Hollow) on Oct 27

Crane: A possible sighting of one in the Meon valley at Droxford was made on Oct 26 from a car on the A32

Avocet: Three birds seen at Sidlesham Ferry (Pagham Harbour) on Oct 23 were still there on Oct 26

Golden Plover: Coastal winter flocks seem to be settling down in our area now - on 21 Oct 43 were at Newtown Harbour (IoW), on 26 Oct there were 170 in the West Wittering area and 200+ in the Warsash/Hook area, while on 27 Oct a flock of 44 were seen between Selborne and Alton.

Little Stint: Nine reports this week include the first sighting of a winter bird at West Wittering

Curlew Sandpiper: On Oct 26 one was still in Pagham Harbour near Sidlesham Ferry and managing to survive despite a deformed bill

Purple Sandpiper: One was seen on Oct 21 at Southsea Castle where the first to arrive back on the south coast was seen on Aug 15. Since that early report there have been 14 other reports from various sites but the current one is the only other report from Southsea. (Last year none were seen at Southsea until Dec 13). On Oct 22 one was seen at Shoreham Harbour and on Oct 24 one was at Selsey Bill

Woodcock: After the first indication of autumn movement with a single bird at Durlston on Oct 12 there have been four further reports of migrants - on Oct 21 one arrived at Sandwich Bay, on Oct 25 one was at Rye Harbour and on that day another was seen at the Dungeness RSPB reserve.

Black-tailed Godwit: On Oct 23 Brian Fellows discovered a flock of 195 feeding in an area from which I have seen no previous reports - the north east corner of Bosham Channel called Colner Creek which can be viewed from a shore footpath leading north from Bosham (or south from the fast straight section of the A259 west of the Bosham roundabout - parking is available on the disused section of the old road running past Colner House)

Whimbrel: What was likely to have been a wintering bird was seen from the Apuldram area in Fishbourne Channel near Chichester on Oct 23

Little Gull: A few more have been seen in our area recently - on Oct 25 Selsey Bill reported 10 birds with 34 there on Oct 26, and on Oct 27 three were seen from Sandy Point on Hayling

Ring-billed Gull: The regular winter bird was back at the Gosport Cockle Pond on Oct 20 and seen there again on Oct 22 and 23. It has been coming there each winter since November 2003.

Iceland Gull: First report of the winter is of one at Ferrybridge (Weymouth) on Oct 25

Great Blackback: A count of 700 at Rye Harbour on Oct 27 is a sign that winter is perhaps already here.

Kittiwake: A couple of adults were seen at the mouth of Chichester Harbour on Oct 27 (probably the same two seen from Selsey Bill on Oct 25)

Sandwich Tern: Several of these now regularly winter in all our local harbours and are easy enough to spot when flying, fishing and calling but they can easily be overlooked when resting among a large flock of gulls - Brian Fellows has recently made the first finds of wintering birds on the mud among gulls both at Langstone Village (Oct 17) and at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool (Oct 23)

Guillemot: One was in Chichester Harbour on Oct 27 seen from West Wittering

Razorbill: Two were seen from West Wittering on Oct 26

Puffin: One was seen distantly from Selsey Bill on Oct 25

Wood Pigeon: The annual autumn passage which began on Oct 13 shows no sign of ending yet. So far the largest movements have been of over 1000 birds, the highest count being of 1870 seen passing over the Broadmarsh area of Langstone Harbour by Jason Crook on Oct 20 followed by 1673 over Bridport on Oct 26 and, both on Oct 20, another 1692 over West Bay near Bridport and 1350 over Durlston.

Long-eared Owl: The first three reports seem to be of birds arriving from the continent. One flew in off the sea at Dungeness on Oct 17, another was on the north Kent coast on Oct 23 and on Oct 24 one flew in off the sea at Portland

Short-eared Owl: One flew in off the sea at Selsey on Oct 24

Hoopoe: One was seen in the Upton area of Poole on Oct 15

Skylark: Oct 21 brought high counts of 106 over Christchurch Harbour and 226 over West Bay near Bridport

Swallow: The highest count this week was of 90 over Durlston on Oct 22 but a few were seen at various coastal sites every day of the week with 40 still going over Durlston on Oct 27 (when 2 flew over South Hayling and 18 were seen at Dungeness)

House Martin: Some seen each day, the biggest numbers being 55 at Christchurch on Oct 26 and another 55 at Portland on Oct 27 (when 14 were over South Hayling)

Richard's Pipit: An unsubstantiated one over Hook in north Hampshire on Oct 21 and a definite sighting on Oct 23 at Culver Down near Bembridge (IoW)

Water Pipit: A 'possible' sighting at Farlington Marshes on Sep 29 has not been followed up by other local sightings and so far the only two other sightings have been at Portland on Oct 18 and at the Pannel Valley (Rye Bay) on Oct 21.

Yellow Wagtail: One, probably the last of the year, seen near Poole Harbour on Oct 24

Grey Wagtail: These are now widespread with birds seen by the River Ems and the Lavant Stream in Leigh Park (Havant) this week. 12 were counted going to a communal roost at Kings Pond in Alton on Oct 26 - it seems that the Greys like a water environment for their roosts and do not mix with the Pieds which prefer the warmth of buildings for their winter night roosts.

Pied Wagtail: Many are still on the move - largest count was 110 over Durlston on Oct 25 (though these may have been birds dispersing from a night roost there) - but many have settled in winter quarters giving a night roost of around 200 in trees around the Havant Tesco store carpark and garage on Oct 27 (this roost is well enough established to be known to the local Sparrowhawk which tried his luck, but failed to kill, while I was watching the birds go into the trees.

Blue-throat: Sadly not in our area but birders at Sandwich Bay in Kent enjoyed a superb red-spotted adult male on Oct 21

Black Redstart: Quite a few have now settled in to regular winter quarters but so far no news of one back on the Hayling shore near Sandy Point

Wheatear: Down to just four reports this week including one going down the Itchen valley past Winchester on Oct 25 and one at Rye Harbour on Oct 27

Ring Ouzel: Seven new reports, the latest being in the New Forest (on Coopers Hill just east of Pitts Wood) on Oct 27

Song Thrush: One tentatively tuning up its song by the Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park (Havant) at dusk on Oct 26.

Grasshopper Warbler: A late bird was seen at Portland on Oct 21

Garden Warbler: Another late bird as Sandwich Bay on Oct 20

Pallas Warbler: A small influx of these on Oct 20, 21 and 22 brought reports from Thanet, Sandwich Bay and Reculver (near Whitstable) in Kent and from Beachy Head. One had reached Studland in Dorset by Oct 24 (still there on Oct 26) and another was at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 25

Dusky Warbler: One at Reculver on the north Kent coast on Oct 25 and 26

Golden Oriole: A 'probable only' sighting of one at Mill Hill, Shoreham, on Oct 21 sounded convincing

Great Grey Shrike: Three birds now settled at Lavington Common near Pulborough, Ashdown Forest, and Morden Bog west of Poole Harbour. Other sightings this week in the New Forest (Coopers Hill near Leaden Hall and Pitts Wood), Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head and Reculver on the north Kent coast.

Jackdaw: A much larger than usual number of these have been on the move recently with counts of 630 passing west over Broadmarsh here in Havant on Oct 20 followed by a count of 3456 over West Bay in Dorset on Oct 21 (where 2784 had been seen on Oct 20)

Raven: On Oct 27 two had settled on a dead cow in the Titchfield Haven area and were starting to enjoy a good meal when a large and expensive tractor and trailer arrived to remove the corpse. Luckily for the Ravens the weight of the tractor broke a wooden bridge and the tractor ended up in the ditch so the Ravens have another chance to feed until the tractor has been recovered and the bridge repaired.

Chaffinch: A count of 1270 passing over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 26 seemed to be a peak count for autumn passage until I looked back to Sep 27 when more than 1400 flew in off the sea at the Dungeness RSPB reserve (with another 1025 seen at the Dungeness bird observatory that day)

Brambling: 22 new reports this week show that these are becoming more widespread but so far the highest count has only been of 32 over Durlston on Oct 22 and no settled flocks have been seen (though three were seen in a Crowborough garden on Oct 24)

Greenfinch: More reports of dead birds killed by the trichomoniasis bug this week - these come with a reminder to keep all bird feeding and water areas as clean as possible to avoid passing on the disease.

Goldfinch: These continue to outnumber all other finch species in the autumn passage counts - on Oct 22 Durlston reported 1350 and Christchurch Harbour 2300. In Hampshire 1115 went over Barton on sea on Oct 21. On Oct 27 Dungeness reported 3000+ (presumably coming in from the continent as winter sets in).

Mealy Redpoll: Now officially called Common Redpoll (which it is not!) the first to be reported this autumn was on in the Kent Stour Valley on Oct 19

Crossbill: One over Mordern Bog (west of Poole Harbour) on Oct 21 and a party of 6 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 27

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

Several Migrant Hawkers were flying at Rodmell near Lewes on Oct 21 and Common Darters have been on the wing up to at least Oct 23

Butterflies

Clouded Yellow: Still flying at Thorney Island and Old Winchester Hill on Oct 21

Large and Small White: Both flying at Gosport on Oct 23

Small Copper: On Oct 23 seven were seen at one site on the Sussex Downs and 3 at another nearby

Brown Argus: A late report of a pair seen mating at Kingston near Lewes on Oct 17 (at least one was seen on Oct 18 at Cissbury Ring)

Common Blue: One male at Gosport on Oct 23

Holly Blue: A pristine specimen seen on flowering Ivy at Burgess Hill on Oct 21

Red Admiral: Plenty still flying with a count of 17 seen in one visit to Stansted Forest on Oct 21 and 23 at Gosport on Oct 23

Painted Lady: One at Rodmell near Lewes on Oct 21 and one at Gosport on Oct 23

Peacock: One at Brighton on Oct 23 and four at Friston Forest near Eastbourne on Oct 27

Comma: Singles seen on Oct 21 at both Chalton Down and Stansted Forest

Speckled Wood: Five reports this week up to Oct 24

Meadow Brown: One still flying at Cissbury Ring north of Worthing on Oct 23 (also seen at Chalton Down on Oct 21 and Gosport on Oct 23)

Moths

November Moth: First was trapped at Lovedean (Waterlooville) on Oct 23

Swallow-tailed Moth: A late specimen at Portland on Oct 26

Light Emerald: A late find at Friston Forest (Eastbourne) on Oct 27.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: These have seemingly been less common this year than in recent years but one was seen at Kingston near Lewes on Oct 17 (fifth reported in October this year)

The Brick: First of year at Portland on Oct 22

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

The total count of species in flower during this month now stands at 235 with my personal count being 207

Lesser Spearwort: A lot of this was in flower on the Gipsies Plain south of Havant Thicket on Oct 23 - the first I have seen since Sep 14

Brackish Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotii): Still flowering in the Havant Homewell Spring on Oct 23

Black Mustard: The first report of this in flower since the end of August came from Emsworth Marina on Oct 21

Sea Campion: Another unexpected report of this in flower at Pagham Harbour on Oct 23

Lesser Stitchwort: Still flowering in Havant on Oct 22

Hedgerow Cranesbill: Flowering at Emsworth Marina on Oct 21

Common Vetch: Flowering in Havant on Oct 22

Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil: An unexpected flower seen on Oct 23 in the Havant Thicket area (just one plant)

Hawthorn: One cluster of flowers open on a tree by the Hermitage stream in Leigh Park (Havant) on Oct 26 - this tree was flowering last winter in December and January

Cow Parsley: One plant standing a metre high with half a dozen flower umbels seen in Leigh Park (Havant) on Oct 26

Common Heather (Ling): Still flowering at Havant Thicket on Oct 23

Shaggy Soldier: Still flowering near the New Lane level crossing in Havant on Oct 22

Winter Heliotrope: After the first sightings of unopen flower spikes on Oct 18 one was in flower at Emsworth on Oct 22 and at Langstone on Oct 24

Pineappleweed: Surprisingly this did not get onto my October flowering list until Oct 23

Hawkweed: At least one of the Hieracium species was in flower at Havant Thicket on Oct 23

Butchers Broom: Flowering in Havant Park on Oct 27

Rootless Duckweed (Wolffia arrhiza): This one only gets a mention after reading about its abundance in a few ditches at Romney Marsh - the thing which caught my attention was the fact that this is the world's smallest flowering plants (Large specimens of this plant reach a maximum size of 1.5mm)

OTHER WILDLIFE

Seals: One Common Seal was seen both from the West Wittering and Hayling Island sides of the Chichester Harbour entrance on Oct 27 and a Grey Seal remains in the Rye Harbour area

Roe Deer: At Havant Thicket on Oct 23 I watched a pair of Roe happily grazing out in the open Gipsies Plain in the pony field south of the Furzy Plain area. While they were in full view they almost certainly remain there to escape the many dogs roaming the wooded area on a sunny day - I have often seen them here before.

Chytridiomycosis: This is a disease which has already killed off many of our native amphibians after it was brought in by American Bullfrogs which have been released or escaped in southern England. An entry on the Rye Bay website on Oct 22 says that so far the Marsh Frogs on the Romney Marshes are free of the disease but adds a further worry in reporting that the same disease has been imported from Switzerland via Alpine Newts. Male Alpine Newts are very colourful in the breeding season and are consequently popular as 'pets' (they are a species of Salamander with ten subspecies found in Europe)

Fungi: After my recent false claim to have found Meadow Waxcap growing on my garden lawn (based on finding them there last year) the genuine thing has appeared this week. In Havant Thicket on Oct 23 my best find was a 'past its best' specimen of Earthfan (Thelephora terrestris) which had lost its colour banding around the edge and looked like nothing more than a sheet of brown rubber attached to the ground in the grass where I have found much better specimens in the past. I also found a good show of Oyster Mushroom and the sad remains of some Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius) which had been kicked to death. On Oct 24 I went to have another look at the Boletus luridus in the grass beside Southbrook Road in Langstone but could find no trace of them - I assume someone has removed them as being a threat to the continuing life of Langstone residents (but of course they may have been taken by some misguided person who thinks they are good to eat!). During the week I was told of some large fungi at the entrance to the Havant Waitrose carpark and on Oct 27 I found a small cluster of Bay Boletes at the foot of a conifer growing by the vertical 'Waitrose' name board at the top of the slope down to the carpark


Summary for Oct 15 - 21 (Week 42 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

White-billed Diver: The superb bird currently residing about 500 metres off Selsey Bill was still there on Oct 16

Great Crested Grebe: No flocks on Hampshire waters yet to rival the 100+ birds in Rye Bay on Oct 12 - the best we have to offer is a flock of 16 in Southampton Water off Woolston on Oct 14 and 29 in Portsmouth Harbour on Oct 18 (there are probably at least that number in Langstone Harbour)

Slavonian Grebe: Two flew west past Selsey Bill on Oct 14 but no news so far of them landing in Hampshire waters

Black-necked Grebe: The bird that was seen in Langstone Harbour on Aug 24 must have flown straight on elsewhere and there have been no sightings anywhere on the south coast since one in Dorset on Sep 28 but on Oct 18 one was seen at the Dungeness RSPB reserve (where one was seen on Aug 29 and Sep 15)

Little Egret: Three were seen at Alresford Pond (near the source of the River Test) on Oct 20 - it seems very early for these birds to start moving inland from the coast as many do in winter months but this is the first I have seen reported there this year. Of amusement value is a sighting of one flying around the Waitrose carpark in Chichester on Oct 18

Spoonbill: On Oct 15 the total in Poole Harbour went up to 27 birds - one was seen at Middlebere in addition to the flock of 26 at Brownsea Island (all 26 appear in a single photo to be found on the Dorset Bird Club website entry for Oct 14). The flock was back to 26 in number on Oct 19 and 20 but there may well be another flock somewhere as a group of 20 were said to have flown over Abbotsbury (Weymouth area) on Oct 18.

Whooper Swan: Two were seen in the main channel of Pagham Harbour on Oct 18 but I suspect these were from captive rather than wild origin.

Bewick's Swan: Rosemary Webb told me that as she was travelling back by train from Crawley to Havant on Oct 17 and was crossing the River Arun she saw 36 Bewick's Swans but I have not heard of any other reports and last year the first arrival was on Nov 10 though in 2005 two were seen at Dungeness on Oct 16 while the next report did not come until Nov 7

Canada Goose: Some 250 were present at the Chichester gravel pit lakes on Oct 16

Pale-bellied Brent: A single in The Fleet (west of Weymouth) on Oct 19 was the first to get a mention this autumn

Brant: The bird seen in Langstone Harbour on Oct 6, 7 and 11 is probably still there and another has appeared in The Fleet with the above mentioned Pale-bellied bird on Oct 19

Gadwall: More than 60 were on the Chichester lakes on Oct 16 and a pair were new on the Thorney Little Deeps on Oct 15

Teal: The first to be seen back on the Emsworth west shore near Nore Barn were 17 birds seen on on Oct 15

Mallard: The two apparent 'orphan ducklings' were still on Langstone Pond on Oct 18 when I watched one of them take bread from the hand of one of the regular duck feeders.

Pintail: A male was still on Budds Farm pools on Oct 19 (when 25 were seen at Hook/Warsash)

Garganey: Another late bird was in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 14 and two were still at the RSPB Dungeness reserve on Oct 18

Pochard: More than 60 were on the Chichester gravel pit lakes on Oct 16

Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid: The regular Fudge duck was back on Budds Farm pools at Havant on Oct 19

Scaup: One at Abbotsbury near Weymouth on Oct 20 was the second to reach the south coast this autumn after one at Weir Wood reservoir on Oct 10

Goldeneye: After a string of five sightings of single birds at various sites between Sep 3 and Oct 7 a group of five seen flying together past Selsey Bill on Oct 13 may herald the start of the winter influx (my expected date for this is Oct 25 going by previous years)

Red-breasted Merganser: A group of three flying past Selsey on Oct 13 were the biggest group to be seen together up to that date but on Oct 18 a total of 8 were in Portsmouth Harbour and on Oct 20 a total of 22 flew past Dungeness

Goosander: One arrived at Rye Harbour on Oct 14, almost certainly one of the first genuine winter arrivals (as probably was the Eastleigh Lakeside bird on Oct 12) unlike previous sightings around the Hampshire Avon where some probably stayed to breed this summer as they have been doing for about the past ten years (the first family of young ducklings was seen on the Avon in 1998 but they had rpobably bred in Dorset before that).

Ruddy Duck: The pair were seen together on the Budds Farm pools on Oct 19

Red Kite: A sighting of six together in one tree in the Singleton area north of Chichester on Oct 11 almost certainly indicates local breeding - two of the birds had tags and I assume these were the adults which had come from the introduced population while the other four were presumably this year's young.

Marsh Harrier: One quartering the reeds around Alresford Pond (east of Winchester) on Oct 20 was presumably a passing migrant going south

Osprey: On Oct 14 one was fishing somewhere around Thorney Island while another was flying south down the River Itchen at Bishopstoke (Eastleigh). On Oct 18 one was seen in the Avon valley near Ringwood

Hobby: Single birds were seen at three locations including Thorney Island on Oct 14. None reported since Oct 17 (at Lodmoor near Weymouth)

Water Rail: Although these birds seem elusive to us they are bold and aggressive in the own reedy world and when one wanted to come out and enjoy the sunshine at Pennington Marshes (Lymington) on Oct 19 it showed this boldness by continually pecking at a Teal that happened to be resting on the spot that the Rail wanted as its sunbed - the Teal soon got the message and vacated the spot.

Coot: More than 600 were on the Chichester gravel pit lakes on Oct 16 (but avid fulicaphiles will still prefer the Blashford Lakes which had a count of 800+ as early as Oct 2)

Ringed Plover: The Black Point wader roost on Hayling Island had 190 on Oct 13 as well as 72 Turnstone

Golden Plover: 35 were seen on Thorney Island on Oct 14 but there are probably quite a few more in that area

Knot: On Oct 17 Brian Fellows saw 150 on the Warblington shore east of Langstone village

Sanderling: The Black Point wader roost on Hayling Island had 50 on Oct 13 (along with 1450 Dunlin) and on Oct 17 there were some 150 off Ryde Esplanade (IoW)

Jack Snipe: One at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 20 was the sixth to be reported on the south coast this autumn

Woodcock: Two at Beachy Head on Oct 20 (coming in from the continent?) were the second sighting of the autumn after a single bird at Durlston on Oct 12

Black-tailed Godwit: A count of 200+ at Cams Bay (Fareham Creek) on Oct 18 was followed by a count of 437 there on Oct 19 suggesting to me that there has been a recent overland arrival of these birds from the north east but there may be many other explanations of their origin.

Bar-tailed Godwit: On Oct 17 Brian Fellows saw some 700 on the Warblington shore east of Langstone village

Greenshank: At least 40 were in the Thorney Great Deeps rooost site on Oct 14

Little Gull: The great majority of the Little Gulls seen at Dungeness do not come further east along the south coast (they may go west mid-Channel or along the French coast) so a sighting of 4 at Lepe (mouth of Southampton Water) on Oct 20 was unusual.

Lesser Blackback Gull: Bob Chapman reported 1000 at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 14 but these were probably only a fraction of the huge flock that spends the night at the Lakes (on Sep 30 John Clark saw 8000 flying north from the Lakes at first light)

Ring-billed Gull: Two adults were in Portland Harbour at Weymouth on Oct 16 - the first of the autumn on the central south coast

Sandwich Tern: On Oct 17 three were resting on the mud off Langstone village among many other gulls - at a guess these were birds intending to stay the winter

Common Tern: A late (or wintering?) bird was off Gilkicker Point (Gosport) on Oct 14

Arctic Tern: Two were still to be seen passing Dungeness on Oct 20

Stock Dove: These seem to have joined the flow of autumn passage migrants on Oct 19 when the first 8 flew over Portland and 24 went over the Broadmarsh area of Langstone Harbour. 50+ flew over West High Down (IoW) on Oct 20 and 35 went over West Bay in Dorset that day.

Wood Pigeon: On Oct 13 the sightings at Dungeness included 80 Wood Pigeons and that morning I noted a flock of around 30 flying west low over Havant, and on Oct 15 Portland reported the first autumn passage seen there with 150 birds going over south. By Oct 20 counts from Dorset were of 1350 over Durlston and 1692 over West Bay with a flock of around 300 feeding in an arable field on Porstdown during the day

Long-eared Owl: The first report of an autumn migrant was of one flying in off the sea at Dungeness on Oct 17

Short-eared Owl: We have now had 24 reports of autumn migrants since the first on Sep 1 (over the Sussex Downs) but it was not until Oct 19 that the first was seen at Farlington Marshes

Wood Lark: Current news includes sightings of ones or twos over Portland, Durlston, Beachy Head while at Gosport (Gilkicker) a flock of 14 went over on Oct 14 (possibly a Hampshire county record for a passage flock though not a record flock as Trevor Carpenter's website mentions .. "The largest flock of Woodlark was 28 at Hundred Acres on 13th Feb 1999".)

Skylark: Counts of 278 passing over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 14 and 123 over Lodmoor (Weymouth) on Oct 18 show that their passage is now in full flow.

Swallow: Just when it seemed that most of these had left us Durlston reported a movement of 1100+ on Oct 14 (with 300 House Martins). Durlston was still reporting 200+ going over on Oct 20

House Martin: Some 200 were still over Ventnor Downs (IoW) on Oct 15

Richard's Pipit: One at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 15

Water Pipit: After a 'possible' at Farlington Marshes on Sep 29 Portland had its first of the autumn on Oct 18

Yellow Wagtail: Tail enders included 4 over Horsham on Oct 14 and 1 over Durlston on Oct 14 followed by one at Portland on Oct 19

Pied Wagtail: On Oct 19 Jason Crook reported that up to 600 had recently been roosting in reeds at Farlington Marshes and on Oct 17 Paul Winter also noticed an unusual roost of 500+ at the Lower Test Marshes

Dunnock: We don't hear much of these as migrants but on Oct 11 three were seen flying high over St Catherine's Point. On Oct 14 one was singing in Brook Meadow at Emsworth - the fourth to be heard since Sep 22 - I do not expect to hear them regularly until the beginning of December

Black Redstart: These are now arriving back at some of their regular winter sites. On Oct 18 one was seen on a building at Southampton University and on Oct 20 one was back at buildings at Hoe Cross (west of Hambledon) where it has been regular in the past when the buildings were derelict but they have recently been converted to modern dwellings and the bird may not stay.

Fieldfare: Oct 13 brought a sudden increase in the number of sightings in the central south coast area with reports from 13 different sites though the biggest counts were only of 60 at Horsham and 56 at South Gorley (just north of Ringwood). On Oct 14 there were 65 at Old Winchester Hill (Meon valley) and on Oct 15 more than 60 went over Stone Quarry Bottom in the north west of the New Forest. On Oct 20 there were 80 at Beacon Hill near the A34 and the Berkshire border

Song Thrush: Fourteen new reports include counts of 107 over Old Winchester Hill on Oct 14 and 87 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 15

Redwing: Eight reports of these just on Oct 14, including an estimated 200 over the Cheriton area near Alresford

Mistle Thrush: The first autumn song was heard in Alton around Oct 6 (no more reports so far) and on Oct 15 I thought I heard a Song Thrush trying a few notes in Stansted Forest.

Pallas' Warbler: The first I know of anywhere this autumn was at Portland on Oct 14

Yellow-browed Warbler: Fourteen new reports show these are now widespread

Penduline Tit: First of the year were 2 seen at Rye Harbour on Oct 20

Great Grey Shrike: One has been seen at Lavington Common (south east of Midhurst) from Oct 14 to 20 at least but another seen at Halsey's Farm north of Pagham Harbour was only seen once on Oct 15. On Oct 18 one turned up in the Beaulieu Road station area in the New Forest with another being seen at Dungeness that day. Oct 19 brought the first sighting in the Leaden Hall area of the north west New Forest near Godshill and on Oct 20 one was seen west of Poole Harbour with another arriving in Ashdown Forest

Jackdaw: An unusually large autumn movement of Jackdaws started on Oct 18 when 54 went over Portland and 94 over Christchurch Harbour. On Oct 19 the movement was noticed in Hampshire with 351 over the north of Langstone Harbour and 220 over Hook/Warsash. Oct 20 brought a count of 2784 going over West Bay (west end of Dorset coast near Bridport), 400 over Abbotsbury near Weymouth and 153 over Barton on sea near New Milton

Carrion Crow: A flock of 100 was feeding on the Warblington shore west of Emsworth on Oct 16 - a flock of this size is not uncommon off the Warblington shore in winter but the number of birds here cannot compete with the 500 seen on the Weston shore of Southampton Water on Sep 16 (I think that is the current Hampshire record flock size)

Tree Sparrow: Now that Tree Sparrows have retreated north from southern counties as far as breeding is concerned I have assumed that the occasional reports of winter flocks in East Sussex are the result of winter vistors from the continent and a report of 9 flying in off the sea at Hastings on Oct 14 tends to confirm this as does a sighting of 5 on the Dorset Purbeck coast at St Albans Head on the same day

Brambling: 15 reports dated Oct 13 to 17 include a count of 27 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 14 and 33 at Dungeness on Oct 19

Serin: One over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 15 was the first to be reported anywhere since a couple of reports in August

Siskin: Oct 14 brought a significant increase in reports and numbers of Siskin with reports from 8 sites that day including a count of 142 at Christchurch Harbour, increasing to 160 there the next day (Oct 15) when I came on my first flock of 30+ in Stansted Forest

Linnet: Lots around but the biggest count was of 1200 over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 14

Bullfinch: A few of these are now being seen among the other migrants but the peak count so far is only 14 seen at Durlston on Oct 19

Escapees: I have already reported sightings of a Vulture over the Isle of Wight on Oct 7 and at the time I read that it was thought to be a juvenile Griffon Vulture. Kris Gillam has just updated his website with an eye wintess report of seeing the bird flying in from the south over the sea towards Freshwater and then turning east to cross the Island and he says the bird was a "Gyps vulture (White-backed?)". Google took me to a Vulture Rescue website which shows that there are at least 8 species in the Gyps genus and that the White Backed is Gyps bengalensis whose range is limited to the Indian subcontinent with an extension through Burma to Singapore. It seems that most or all vultures are now endangered species and Vulture rescue centres have been set up to breed them in captivity.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Dragonflies

As their season comes to an end warm sunny weather has brought several sightings of Southern and Migrant Hawker and Common Darter. More than 10 Common Darters were still flying at Emsworth on Oct 14 but there have been no reports of any species since that date

Butterflies - 18 species mentioned in current reports

Green-veined White: An unusual late report of two seen near Andover on Oct 11

Brown Argus: One seen at Cissbury Ring near Worthing on Oct 18

Common Blue: Still flying at Haywards Heath on Oct 15 and at Cissbury Ring on Oct 18

Holly Blue: Two seen in Gosport on Oct 6 were fresh third brood male and female - since then a fresh specimen has been seen at Totton (Southampton) on Oct 17

Painted Lady: Several reports including a fresh specimen nectaring on ivy in Havant on Oct 14. On Oct 17 this was one of several migrant species (including many Red Admiral) flying in off the sea at Portland

Wall Brown: One still showing in the Lymington are on Oct 14

Meadow Brown: At least one was still flying on Portsdown on Oct 20

Geranium Bronze: One of this South African species seen in Hill Head (next to Titchfield Haven) on Oct 13 by Richard Carpenter - presumably its egg or larva had arrived in Britain on imported pot plants - there have been quite a few reports of this species in Britain since the first was reported at Kingston near Lewes in 1997

Moths

Merveille du Jour: First of these lovely moths seen at Portland on Oct 14 but they may have been on the wing earlier as a report from Haywards Heath on Oct 15 tells of one being in a moth trap there 'for the third consecutive night'.

Yellow-line Quaker: First at Dungeness on Oct 14

Dusky-lemon Sallow: First at Dungeness on Oct 11

Slender Burnished Brass: First to be reported this year was one at Portland on Oct 17. This is a rare immigrant with only 100 records or so in Britain

Other Insects

Giant Wood Wasp or Horntail (Urocerus gigas): One measuring 2.6 cm long seen in a Romsey garden on Oct 14

Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae): This species only recently arrived in England and I was only aware of it as being established at Hastings (and there only since 2004) but on Oct 14 it was reported at Durlston as if it was regular there also. The Rye Bay website in 2005 said .. "Look out for the species wherever there is bare sandy ground nearby lots of flowering ivy. The bee is quite a large solitary bee with very distinct yellow bands across the abdomen". In 2006 a large colony was found at Tisbury near Salisbury and another at Prawle Point in Devon. It is originally a Mediterranean species but has been in the Channel Islands for about ten years.

Harlequin Ladybird: On Oct 14 a few landed on my house in Havant looking for winter quarters and on the same day Tony Gutteridge living nearby also saw them but at Edburton (north foot of the Sussex Downs in the Brighton area) Tony Wilson's house was invaded by 400+

Bush Crickets: On Oct 14 both Great Green and Dark species could still be heard at Durlston.

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

A total of 219 species have been reported in flower during this October to date - of these my personal total stands at 190

Bulbous Buttercup: Several of these flowering in the Emsworth-Westbourne area on Oct 14

Rough Poppy: With smaller and darker crimson petals this is not a rarity on chalk but I had not seen one this year until I came across it on Portsdown on Oct 20 (see Diary entry for that day)

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima): Flowering at Black Point, Hayling on Oct 13

Three-veined Sandwort (Moehringia trinervia): Flowering in Stansted Forest on Oct 15

Enchanter's Nightshade: Also flowering at Stansted on Oct 15

Cow Parsley and Upright Hedge Parsley: Both in fresh flower at Chichester Gravel Pits on Oct 16

Autumn Gentian: Still plenty flowering on Portsdown on Oct 18

Common Figwort: A few flowers seen at Stansted Forest on Oct 15

Small Toadflax: Several plants still flowering on Portsdown on Oct 18

Round-leaved Fluellen: Only one plant, but an exceptionally large one, flowering on Portsdown on Oct 18

Wall Speedwell: Another surprise found on Portsdown on Oct 18

Basil Thyme: Probably the best find on Oct 18 - 5 flowers seen on Portchester Common, Portsdown

Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis): Still flowering at the Black Point sailing club, Hayling, on Oct 13

Harebell: Another good find on Portsdown on Oct 18

Heath and Sticky Groundsel: Both still flowering at Stansted Forest and Havant Town respectively on Oct 15

Winter Heliotrope: Just one flower spike (no flowers yet open) seen at Wade Court, Langstone, on Oct 18 (and I am told that a similar spike with flowers not yet open could be seen on south Hayling that day)

Woolly Thistle: One still flowering at Durlston on Oct 20

Chicory: First report for the year on Oct 13 but at a regular site on the west shore of Mill Rythe at Hayling where it has probably been flowering for a couple of months

OTHER WILDLIFE

Fallow Deer: When in Stansted Forest on Oct 15 I was walking through an area dominated by young spindly Ash trees and one of these, close to the edge of the path I was on and causing a 'pinch point' narrowing the path, was almost entirely stripped of its bark from about 50 cm up to over 2 metres high, showing a whited, jaggedly gauged surface of very fresh wood. From the height range involved I am almost certain this was the work of a Fallow Buck sharpening his antlers in preparation for the impending rut.

Fungi: While in Stansted on Oct 15 I found a magnificent display of Porcelain Fungus on the fallen branch of a Beech tree in the Lavant stream 'flood plain' area. The display should last for some time and if anyone wants to see it enter the Forest from the Finchdean Road near the Rowlands Castle railway viaduct, turn right along the 'ornamental drive' back towards the Lodge (house) near the viaduct, but then turn left through a gate into the 'flood plain meadow'. Here turn half left to follow the path towards the stile leading into the trees on the far side of the meadow and this will take you past to the aged Beech tree at the corner of the finger of trees growing in a deep ravine - at the base of this beech you will see the fallen branch on the slope down into the ravine.

Other fungi starting to flourish in the Forest were Parasol Mushrooms, and I see that Brian Fellows had found Shaggy Parasol growing in the meadow immediately north of the A27 as you walk north from the Brook Meadow area to Westbourne roughly following the course of the river. Other fungi seen by me in Stansted Forest included Bay Bolete and Rooting Shank among the trees and Yellow Cowpat Toadstool (Bolbitius vitellinus), now called Yellow Fieldcap, and Japanese Umbrella (Coprinus plicatilis), now called Pleated Inkcap, both in the grass of the flood plain meadow.

On Oct 18 I thought I had discovered an unusual (possibly rare) fungus in the roadside grass of Southbrook Road in Langstone (north side between Southbrook Close and the footpath bisecting the new housing). The red colour and bulbous shape of the stem, plus the red colour of the pores under the cap, suggested this might be the very rare Boletus satanus (or at least B. satanoides) which I remembered seeing in Roger Phillips book, but when I got home and consulted my books and the internet I calmed down and decided the most likely identity was B. erythropus seen at a young stage before its stem had grown to the normal height. I then sent a description by email to Stuart Skeates, recorder for the Hampshire Fungus Group, and he told me that what I had seen was almost certainly a much commoner species called Boletus luridus. I now fully agree with this id, and while the find may not be of great general interest it has given me a new tick for my 'life list of fungi'.

Another newcomer to the fungal scene this week is Shaggy Inkcap, seen on Oct 19 both at Brook Meadow in Emsworth and on the mound above Budds farm in Havant

Latest news comes from the Havant Wildlife Group's visit to The Sling area of Stansted Forest on Oct 20 and a Fungus Foray in the Hollybank Woods at Emsworth on Oct 21. At Hollybank the first Stinkhorns were seen with at least one Fly Agaric (which had been out for several days). At The Sling a wide selection of fungi were on offer, some of them being Oyster Mushroom, Magpie Inkcap, Clouded Funnel, Giant Polypore, Honey Fungus, Wood Mushroom and Shaggy Pholiota


Summary for Oct 8 - 14 (Week 41 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Black-throated Diver: A juvenile had been seen off Pagham Harbour as early as Sep 30 and this week brought a second sighting of one off Rye Harbour on Oct 12

White Billed Diver: Watchers on Selsey Bill had the good fortune to have close views of a summer plumaged adult of this species (a great rarity anywhere in Britain) for the best part of two hours up to dusk on Oct 9 and this bird has remained there to at least Oct 13 giving good views and attracting national interest among birders. As far as I know Hampshire has only one confirmed record of a bird seen off the Lymington shore in Feb 1991 and Sussex has just three previous records (one off Newhaven in April 1997, one off Ovingdean in June 1999 and two sightings of the third later that year including a sighting in the Church Norton area). Birdguides.com has a nice description of the species as "The White-billed Diver is best described as being like a massive Great Northern Diver with a 'parsnip' for a bill, with the pointed end of the parsnip sticking upwards" and says it is "A rare, annual vagrant - usually to Shetland and northern Scotland. There have been 163 birds in Britain and Ireland up until the end of 1994". The BTO Bird Facts pages indicate that this is the first to be seen on the south coast since 1999.

Great Crested Grebe: On Oct 12 the first winter flock of around 100 birds was in Rye Bay where the presence of many fish has attracted numbers of Cormorant (65 were fishing in a tight group on Oct 9), Gannet and Auks

Red-necked Grebe: The first sighting of this species for this autumn was one at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 6, staying to Oct 7 at least.

Slavonian Grebe: One turned up at Rye Harbour on Oct 2 and the second of the autumn was at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 7. These are probably the only two birds on the south coast at present and the only other reports so far are of the Rye bird on Oct 8 and the Christchurch one on Oct 9. The Christchurch bird was still there on Oct 13 and on Oct 12 it was seen, very unusually for a grebe, out of the water and standing up among the ducks on its awkwardly (for walking) placed feet.

Bittern: Singles have been seen at Radipole (Weymouth) on Oct 6 and 7 (maybe the same bird that arrived there on Sep 30), and at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 8 (presumably the one which arrived there on Oct 6). One was at Rye Harbour on Oct 13

Cattle Egret: Other than a juvenile seen near the Pagham Harbour visitor centre on Sep 6 and 8 the only other record for this autumn is of one at Bewl Water near Crowborough on Oct 12

Great White Egret: It seems that the second of the two birds at the Thorney Deeps was scared off by the sound of a shoot on the morning of Oct 6. It was probably this bird that touched down at Titchfield Haven that day but soon flew on west and it could have been the bird seen at Langton Herring (by the Fleet near Weymouth) on Oct 8. The Blashford Lakes bird now seems settled there (but elusive) and it was last reported on Oct 8 and then on Oct 12

Spoonbill: In my last weekly summary I expressed reservations about the report of 23 Spoonbills in Poole Harbour at Brownsea Island on Oct 6 but reports of 24 there on Oct 7, 8 and 9 show that this was no typing error! Oct 11 and 12 brought news that the flock had increased to 26 birds

Black Swan: A pair were seen in the Bosham channel on Oct 10 (perhaps taking a day trip from the West Ashling pond a mile or so to the north?)

Barnacle Goose: Maybe the Baffins Gang are not yet defunct - on Oct 11 a group of 5 Barnacles and a hybrid were seen at Titchfield Haven

Brent Goose: First report of juveniles back on the south coast came from Langstone Harbour on Oct 7 and on Oct 11 two family groups (of four and two juveniles respectively) were seen at the Hayling Oysterbeds. Elsewhere in Langstone Harbour, where there are now probably a total of 1000+ Brent, few young have been seen so far and the biggest family has had only three young.

Brant: One was first seen in Langstone Harbour on Oct 6 and was still there on Oct 11

Shelduck: 25 were seen around Farlington Marshes on Oct 7 and 10 were at the mouth of the Langbrook stream (Langstone village west shore) on Oct 10

Wigeon: The count at Pulborough Brooks on Oct 8 was of 650+ and there are plenty around now. Locally I had my first sight of a flock (18 birds) back at the mouth of the Langbrook stream west of Langstone village on Oct 10

Mallard: These are still hatching young - two new families of ducklings were seen at Slimbridge on Oct 13 and on Oct 11 at least two tiny ducklings were still present on Langstone Pond, continuously 'peeping' and forever on the move as if searching for their mother whom they never found. My guess is that these are the remnant of a family of 12 hatched around Sep 27 and that they are now living as 'orphan street children', pecking a bare living from the surface of the pond and somehow avoiding the many predators (including the pair of Swans which have returned to the pond and which almost certainly drowned one of the ducklings that was found dead floating on the water - any other predator would have consumed the corpse)

Garganey: Two at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 7 may well be the last for the year although one of these was still there on Oct 13

Ferruginous Duck: In my last weekly summary I reported the arrival of a genuine young bird accompanied by a Pochard hybrid at Abbotsbury (near Weymouth) on Oct 6 but opinion next day was that both were hybrids.

Tufted Duck: WhiIe I doubt that the small metal BTO rings cause the birds to which they are attached any stress after that of being captured and handled, I have never been keen on the increasing loads of plastic rings which many birds are now required to carry 'in the interests of science' (isn't that what the Japanese say to justify killing whales), and I am even less keen on the plastic plates 'nailed' to the upper mandible of duck species but this is clearly a growing practice. I first saw it on a Tufted duck at the Thorney Little Deeps a couple of winters back, and on Oct 9 another Tufted Duck was seen with such a plate on the Budds Farm pools - discussion of this on Hoslist shows that this form of duck identification is practiced in more than one continental country, but not, so far, I think in Britain. Later I read that this particular duck had been plated in France.

Scaup: Three young birds were said to have been seen on Weir Wood Reservoir near Crowborough on Oct 10 (and there has been at least one other report of Scaup from north Kent this week)

Goldeneye: One female was seen briefly on the sea off Titchfield Haven on Oct 7 but so far there is no sign of a general return of winter birds.

Red-breasted Merganser: We have now had eleven reports of Mergansers since the first returnee flew past Selsey Bill on Sep 19 but so far no one has seen more than two birds together. The first that I have heard of in Langstone Harbour was seen on Oct 7 when another was in Pagham Harbour and two were off Barton on Sea west of Lymington

Goosander: What sounds like the first arrival from the north (rather than the birds which may have bred in the Avon valley and been subsequently seen in the area around Poole Harbour) was an eclipse drake seen at Eastleigh Lakes on Oct 12

Ruddy Duck: A pair were seen together on Budds Farm Pools here in Havant on Oct 8 - they have probably been lurking there unseen since at least the end of August. Others are on the move as witnessed by the sight of 5 seen most unexpectedly on the sea off Selsey Bill on Oct 10 before three were seen flying north east over Pagham Harbour that day.

Honey Buzzard: One was reported flying north east (wrong way!) over Sidlesham Ferry Pool at Pagham Harbour on Oct 10

Red-legged Partidge: Around this time of year large numbers of these are released in fields for subsequent shooting and a few have the sense to leave the scene of the crime before it has been committed. Having been more or less hand reared they are used to humans and so have no hesitation in landing in a garden if food is available there. This reasoning may account for the presence of one in a Portsmouth garden (in Locksway Road, Milton, not far from Langstone Harbour) on the morning of Oct 12. On the previous day I had my first sight of a family group of four in the large open West Lane fields on Hayling where at least one pair has bred ferally for the past couple of years.

Common Crane: One seen flying northeast over Nursling village at the mouth of the River Test on Oct 7 was presumably another migrant that should have been flying southwest over France towards Spain - if so it is the fourth to have lost its way this autumn (reports from Kent and East Sussex on Sep 18 and 25 plus Oct 5)

Avocet: The winter flock in Poole Harbour had built up to give a count of 1150 birds at Brownsea Island on Oct 12

Stone Curlew: Two birds making their autumn flight south made a brief stop at Rye Harbour on Oct 11 - seen and heard flying over but not refound although they appeared to land on the single. This is the first and maybe only autumn record of this species on the south coast this year.

Dotterel: It seems that one of this autumn's southward bound birds stopped off at the Dungeness RSPB reserve where it was seen with Golden Plovers on Oct 6 and 7 before moving to Rye Harbour (still with Golden Plovers) for Oct 8 and 9. If it joined up with a flock of Golden Plover for the flight south, and its companions are intending to stay the winter on our south coast, will the Dotterel stay with them?

Golden Plover: The flock at Rye Harbour had increased to 1100 birds by Oct 8 (the only local reports this week are of four among the waders in the Hayling Oysterbeds high tide roost on Oct 11 and a flock of 95 seen on Oct 12 in Newtown Harbour across the Solent on the Isle of Wight)

Little Stint: On Oct 8 a total of 18 birds was reported along the south coast including a flock of 13 at Rye Harbour - by Oct 11 the count at Brownsea Island was up to 10.

Pectoral Sandpiper: The unusually tame bird on the Pagham village shore of Pagham Harbour (White's Creek area) was still there on Oct 13

Woodcock: One at Durlston country park on Oct 12 was an unusual autumn record

Black-tailed Godwit: Numbers in Langstone and Chichester Harbours seem unusually low at the moment (only 400 seen at the Farlington Marshes Lake on Oct 11) but a count of 1550 birds at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour on Oct 12 shows they are not lacking there (I have no information on what the normal count there would be at this time of year)

Sabine's Gull: A juvenile was reported passing Selsey Bill on Oct 13

Great Blackback Gull: These will kill and eat almost anything that comes within reach but I was surprised to read of one seen eating a Jackdaw at Durlston on Oct 13

Sandwich Tern: A count of 23 at Rye Harbour on Oct 9 was probably of departing birds but 2 in Emsworth Harbour oin Oct 10 may well be intending to stay the winter there. Only two records of single Common Terns this week shows they hav effectively left us. There was one sighting of an Arctic Tern off Titchfield Haven on Oct 7 and since then there have only been four reports - all from Dungeness

Collared Dove: On Oct 12 a nest with one newly hatched chick was found in Chandlers Ford

Turtle Dove: A late migrant passed through Dungeness on Oct 11

Short-eared Owl: Reports of these are increasing with three sightings on Oct 7 (one hunting over the Thornham Marshes on Thorney Island, one arriving at Dungeness and two at Portland). Oct 9 brought another to the Seaford area west of Beachy Head. Since then there have been sightings of single birds at Portland, Christchurch and Dungeness

Kingfisher: Several seem to have settled down in winter quarters around Havant - on Oct 7 two were seen together at Farlington Marshes, on Oct 8 one flew over Peter Pond at Emsworth and another over Budds Farm pools at Havant, and on Oct 10 I saw one back on the Brockhampton stream (west side of Budds Farm)

Skylark: These have probably been on autumn passage since 10 flew over Portland on Sep 22 and recently I have heard them flying west over my Havant garden on several mornings. On Oct 4 Christchurch Harbour reported 57 flying over and Oct 7 brought a report of 100 over Portland indicating a big increase in their rate of movement. Oct 8 brought a report of 60 over Sixpenny Handley in Dorset (near Martin Down)

Swallow: The flow of these has by no means dried up - on Oct 7 Christchurch Harbour reported 1200 over and on Oct 8 Durlston had 2000 (with 1000+ again on Oct 10). Numbers seem to have diminished since then.

House Martin: These are also still around in good numbers, the highest count being 1450 over Durlston on Oct 8 but no count of more than 330 since then.

Richard's Pipit: One in the West Bay area of the west Dorset coast on Oct 8

Rock Pipit: I had my first on the Langstone South Moors shore on Oct 10 (Two were back at Farlington Marshes on Sep 27)

Yellow Wagtail: No reports since Oct 10

Pied Wagtail: A substantial number were seen around the Havant Tesco store at dusk on Oct 8 by Mike Collins as he drove home from the Budds Farm area suggesting that there is once more a big night roost on the roof of the store where hot air from the bakery and store heating is blown out around the clock. In Feb 2005 George Spraggs saw 200 Pied Wagtails on the roof of Tesco at dusk and I went along a few days later (7 Feb 2005) and saw a similar number - I've often meant to have another look but not got round to it! My only other report of them in that area was on 20 Feb 2006 when Martin Hampton saw a flock of 80 fly over Park Road South towards Tesco at dusk (but they might have been going on elsewhere). Roosts are probably building up on many town centre buildings but the only other report seen this week was of 170 spending the night of Oct 12 on Dungeness power station

Wren: These resumed full song here in the Havant area on Oct 5 and have been heard daily since then

Fieldfare: These have now been seen in Kent, Sussex, Dorset and the Isle of Wight but not (ignoring the summering bird at Ropley in late July) in Hampshire. First sighting was on the IoW on Sep 29 and there have been 22 more reports since then including three flying over the Pulborough area on Oct 5.

Song Thrush: 70 arrived at Portland on Oct 7 with 35 more on Oct 13 while Dungeness had 30 on Oct 11. The actual number arriving from the continent will be vastly in excess of these three spot counts.

Redwing: Oct 8 brought a report of around 400 flying west over north Kent and there have now been 71 reports of them since the first two were seen in the Thanet area of Kent on Sep 7. On Sep 29 Dungeness reported a count of 125 and by Oct 2 that had risen to 315. Hampshire has had 9 reports starting on Sep 27 and bringing at least 180 over the county on Sep 28 with a total of 50+ reported since then

Cetti's Warbler: Although this species hardly ever appears in counts of visual migration or even ringing reports qute a lot of them are on the move at this time of year as youngsters leave their nest areas to find their own territories and Oct 4 brought news of a 'first for the site' bird in the Hastings country park area while Oct 7 brought a report of six birds heard around the Lewes Brooks area where the observer thought they had not been recorded before.

Pied Flycatcher: A late bird was at Portland on Oct 12

Coal Tit: Dungeness reported the arrival of two birds of the continental race on Oct 6 with three there on Oct 7 - almost certainly others have arrived here but not been detected as differing from our British birds.

Magpie: A pair were nest building 'somewhere in Hampshire' on Oct 7

Jackdaw: A count of 130 flying west over Old Winchester Hill (Meon Valley) on Oct 7 may have indicated the arrival of continental birds or may have just been a change of mode by British birds joining a communal winter feeding 'tribe'. One less lucky bird was seen being eaten by a Great Blackback Gull at Durlston on Oct 13

Raven: A probable sighting of one at Head Down (just east of Butser Hill) on Oct 13 prompted a query as to how common these birds are in our area nowadays.

Birds of Hampshire, published in 1992, says that the last nest in the county was recorded in 1887, and that in the 40 years from 1951 to 1991 there were only 33 records of the species, probably all involving birds that still bred in Dorset or the Isle of Wight. Subsequent Hampshire Bird Reports show that by 1995 numbers in Hampshire had increased to give 40 reports just for that year. Five years on, 2000 had 106 records including anecdotal evidence of two pairs breeding, and the 2005 Hampshire Bird Report gives a total of 300 records with breeding confirmed at four sites.

Reports from all southern counties are now to be seen daily and I have ceased to record them unless they have some special interest such as the sighting of a flock of 12 flying east (into Hampshire) over the Sway area near New Milton on Oct 4 this year, setting a new Hampshire county record.

In 2000 I noted 17 reports including 2 birds over Farlington Marshes on Sep 26

for 2001 I have 46 records including 2 over the Chichester West Dean woods on Jan 14

for 2002 I have only 19 records including one at Arundel Wildfowl reserve

for 2003 I have 117 reports with 2 over Old Winchester Hill on Sep 22, one there on Sep 7 and 2 on May 3 while one went over Fort Widley on Portsdown on June 24 and April brought news of singles of central Portsmouth and Mislingford in the Meon valley. March had sightings from Botley Woods and West Walk at Wickham

For 2004 there are 128 reports including more from Old Winchester Hill and West Dean woods plus one over Beacon Hill at Exton in June and another over Wheely Down at Warnford on Mar 6. On Apr 9 two flew east over Catherington Lith

2005 gave me 154 reports including one over Stansted Forest in November, one over Cams Bay at Fareham in October (with one calling from a pylon on Portsdown and another over Stansted Forest that month). September saw one over Gutner Point on Hayling and another over Petersfield with others at Hook/Warsash and at Goodwood House. August brought news of them from Idsworth, Kingley Vale and Old Winchester Hill. June saw one at West Dean Woods. February had records from Warsash and Eastleigh and January had another over Stansted Forest.

2006 has 187 records in my database with almost daily sightings over Stansted East Park in Oct, Nov and Dec plus sightings at Markwells Wood (Forestside) and Uppark House. In September one was over Goodwood Trundle and another over Bow Hill (Kingley Vale). April brought a strong rumour of the young being shot in a Hampshire nest and in March there was a sighting at Stoughton. January had reports from Stansted Forest and the West Dean Woods

2007 has brought almost certain evidence of breeding at Racton Folly and sightings from Stansted, Forestside, Kingley Vale, Walderton, Old Winchester Hill and Sandy Point on Hayling

Greenfinch: The effect of the disease (Trichomoniasis) which has been epidemic among Greenfinch this year can be gauged by the following comparison of the reports which I have gathered this autumn (Aug 1 to Oct 10). For Greenfinch I have only seen 19 reports with the largest count being just 65 birds. For Chaffinch these figures are 50 and 1400 and for Linnet 75 and 1489. (For comparison the same figures for 2005 were Greenfinch 30/300 Chaffinch 40/609 and Linnet 68/820)

Lapland Bunting: One at Portland on Oct 8 (7 previous reports this year)

Ortolan Bunting: One at Portland on Oct 12 (14 previous reports this year)

Corn Bunting: A flock of 30 was seen at the Lewes Brooks on Oct 7 - the largest count in the south since last March

Escapees: A Vulture was seen over the Isle of Wight on Oct 7 and one of the Fulvous Whistling Ducks was seen at Titchfield Haven, also on Oct 7 (two were there on Mar 15 and one was last seen on May 25)

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies

Silver-spotted Skipper: A sighting of two still flying at Old Winchester Hill (Meon valley) on Oct 5 may have been the first recorded October sighting - normally this species has disappeared well before the end of September

Small Copper: The latest date I know of is for one I saw myself on Sinah Common, Hayling, on Oct 11

Common Blue: Last known date is also Oct 11 at Cissbury Ring (Worthing). No reports of Adonis Blue since Oct 5

Painted Lady: Just one seen at Durlston on Oct 11 and a fresh specimen in Havant cemetery on Oct 14

Wall Brown: These too are flying later than usual with five October reports so far - 9 were flying at Mill Hill (Shoreham) on Oct 5 and 4 at Keyhaven (Lymington) on Oct 8

Other species still on the wing in October and mentioned in this week's news have been: Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Meadown Brown and Small Heath

Moths

Crocidosema plebejana: First at Newhaven on Oct 12

Red-green Carpet: First at Portland on Oct 10

Deep-brown Dart: First of year at Portland on Oct 8 (this species is not a regular migrant)

Brindled Green: First of year at Pannel Valley (Rye Bay) on Oct 8

Large Ranunculus: First at Crowborough on Oct 12

Barred Sallow: First at Newhaven on Oct 7

Other Insects

Scaeva pyrastri: My first sighting of this for the year was of a specimen with a yellowish tinge to the normal bright white chevrons on its abdomen - seen on south Hayling on Oct 11 (first of year was seen on June 27 at Emsworth)

Myathropa florea: This is a fairly common hoverfly but I had not seen it for certain until one landed on my jersey on Oct 7 and I could see the distinctive horizontal black barring on the upper surface of the thorax (only species to show this)

Wasp: A large specimen in my garden on Oct 11 was almost certainly a queen looking for somewhere to spend the winter.

Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae): I had only heard of this recent invader from the continent in the Hastings area until this week when a report of them came from Durlston.

Harlequin Ladybird: I know these recent invaders are now widespread in Britain but I had not recognised them for myself until Oct 13 when two were on window panes of my house searching for crevices in which to hibernate - at least one was back in sunlight on Oct 14. As well as the large size, the broad and slightly flattened shell and the great amount of white on their 'faces' picks them out from other species

Parent bug (Elasmucha grisea): A male came into my Havant house on Oct 9, presumably hoping to hibernate there (it was moved to the garage)

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

My personal list of wild plants flowering since Oct 1 this year currently stands at 168 species and if I take into account reports from other sources the number is 194

Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica): I recently found specimens of this growing in an alleyway across the Pallant from Waitrose store in Havant but did not record it as a wild flower though it had clearly not been planted there but when on Oct 13 I found a lot more flourishing on brick rubble in a pony field north of the Bartons Road playing fields in West Leigh Park, well off any beaten track and a good 300 metres from the nearest house, I did add it to my list of flowering wild plants. I see that the Hants Flora says that it is rarely found in the wild but probably because it is under-recorded.

Yellow-horned Poppy: Still flowering on Hayling Beachlands shore on Oct 11

Pale Flax: This was flowering on Portsdown on Oct 8 (surprisingly late in the year). Also seen on the hill that day were both Vervain and Restharrow

Bastard Toadflax: Still flowering at Durlston on Oct 13

Round-leaved Cranesbill: One of my better finds this week was of several plants of this freshly flowering around the edges of the ornamental flower bed (with the Welcome to Hayling Island message) at the entrance to the Ship Inn carpark at Langstone

Hairy Vetchling: Brian Fellows found the plants on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' were still flowering on Oct 11

Crown Vetch: This was also covered with flowers on Oct 13 at its only (to my knowledge) local site in Havant - outside council flats on Wakefords Way in Leigh Park

Ivy: Everyone must have found this in full flower and attracting insects recently but I had forgotten how strong a scent (not particularly pleasant) it has - both I and Brian Fellows began to notice this scent this week

Cowslip: Most inexpected at this time of year, two or more plants were flowering in a Clanfield garden around Oct 11

Cocks Eggs: Named for the small white egg-shaped flowers which adorn this plant, those flowers could be seen in plenty at the only site for it which I know of in Hampshire which is on Sinah Common (opposite the south end of Staunton Avenue).

Verbascum macrocarpum: This 'new to Europe' species which appeared on North Common, Hayling, this summer, and which has been subject to vandalism, is still surviving - on Oct 11 it had put up new flowering shoots to replace those broken off by the vandals and had at least one flower open.

Weasel's Snout (or Lesser Snapdragon): Still flowering in the Havant New Lane allotments on Oct 13

Harebell: Just one flowering on Portsdown on Oct 8 along with Tansy

Sticky Groundsel: Two freshly flowering plants appeared in Havant this week

OTHER WILDLIFE

Common Seal: One or two of these regularly fish in Langstone Harbour, at least during the winter months, but I was surprised to hear that four were seen hauled out on the mud south of Farlington Marshes Point on Oct 7. These animals are almost certainly visitors to Langstone Harbour from the resident colony in Chichester Harbour which number 11 at the end of August this year

Noctule Bat: On Oct 2 we heard of 2 Noctules seen by birders flying at dusk in the Eastbourne area and on Oct 5 a total of 5 were seen at dusk in the Lymington area. Nothing very unusual about those sightings though they may have indicated that the bats were out early to get as much food as possible so as to fatten up for hibernation, but a sighting of one flying and feeding in hazy sunshine at 13:30 just after midday seems to be carrying this feeding up to excess (though such midday flying would be typical of bat behaviour in mid-winter when they occasionally emerge from hibernation on sunny days to stretch their wings, void their bowels, and stock up on food before going back to sleep)

Fungi:

On Oct 7 it was possible to pick 1 lb of Field Mushrooms near Chidham village despite the dry weather and on Oct 10 I came on a healthy looking fresh cluster of Weeping Widow toadstools in Wade Court Road here in Havant - the fringes which hang down from the rim of the cap like a black veil around a Widow's head were still attached to the stem and were pure white not yet having been coloured by the black spores of this species. On Oct 13 a fresh cluster of Glistening Inkcap (Coprinus micaceus) had appeared on a tree stump at the entrance to the Pallant carpark in Havant and on that day the Havant Wildlife Group walked around Head Down (above the rail tunnel south of Petersfield) - Jim Berry's report of this outing says .. "The most interesting find was a group of Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar), but we also found Lycoperdon echinatum (Spiny Puffball), Mycena crocata (Saffron Drop Bonnet or Bleeding Mycena in old language), Mycena alcalina, Mycena Pura (Lilac Bonnet), Coprinus micaceus (Glistening Inkcap) and Xylaria hypoxylon (Candlesnuff Fungus) amongst others"

By the end of the week a single unidentified fungus was fruiting on wood chips at the end of my garden (standing around 7cm tall it has a long thin white stem, white conical cap and very dark gills, all suggesting a Psathyrella species) and I suspect it is a forerunner of an outburst that occurred on those wood chips late last autumn. In the December 2006 issue of British Wildlife I may have found its identity in an article on fungi that grow on wood chips (the name given to my candidate was Agrocybe rivulosa) but regardless of the identification of my fungus the article described a sudden outburst of new fungi (several species) all across Britain. As many of the wood chip piles were (like mine) created in situ this ruled out the importation of fungi from abroad through spores carried on the wood or chips, and the sudden occurrence of new species in many widely separated species suggested 'spontaneous creation without a big bang' but I am pretty sure that what it shows is that the air all round the world is rich in fungal spores waiting for minute changes in climatic conditions to give them suitable germination sites.

Finally I must retract my claim of last week that I had Meadow Waxcaps growing on my lawn - the two fungi concerned had caps of the colour shown for Meadow Waxcap and at 6 cm across they were twice the maximum width given for Parrot Waxcap but within the range for Meadow, but I could not see the undersides hidden in the grass. This week as they reached the end of their spore shedding I picked one and immediately saw from the underside that they were just extra large Parrot Waxcaps - this shows how careful one must be to take all features into consideration when naming a species!


Summary for Oct 1 - 7 (Week 40 of 2007)

(Link to previous week’s summary)

BIRDS

(Skip to Insects)

Red-throated Diver: Two were in the Stockers Lake area of Chichester Harbour (south of Thorney Island) on Sep 30, one of them being in summer plumage - maybe these were the same birds that were off Titchfield Haven on Sep 28 when they were described as a juvenile being fed by its parent? At least one was still in Chichester Harbour, off Itchenor, on Oct 5. Elsewhere one has been on the Itchen in Southampton, around Northam Bridge, from Oct 3 to 6, still showing its red throat.

Black-throated Diver: The first of this species to be reported on the south coast this autumn was just off Pagham Harbour on Sep 30 - described as a juvenile seen well close in.

Slavonian Grebe: Also the first of the autumn on the south coast was one at Rye Harbour on Oct 2

Bittern: Second report of the autumn from the south coast, after one reported at Titchfield Haven on Aug 29, was one at Radipole (Weymouth) on Sep 30 - this was still there on Oct 6. In the Rye area one was at Pannel Valley on Oct 4 and 5, maybe then moving to the Dungeness RSPB reserve where one appeared on Oct 6. Another was in the Kent Stour valley on Oct 3

Great White Egret: One of the two which arrived on Thorney Island on Sep 28 was still there on Oct 3 and still sharing the Little Egret night roost near Marina Farm on Oct 2 - the second bird has not been seen since midday on Sep 30 but probably moved to Titchfield Haven where one turned up on Oct 6 but did not stay (it flew west over Southampton Water) The Blashford Lakes bird in the Avon Valley seems to have settled down there but is elusive - reported on Sep 27, 30 and Oct 2, 5, 5 and 6.

Spoonbill: The two birds at Titchfield Haven were last reported on Oct 3 but may still be there. In Poole Harbour the four birds that have been seen occasionally during September increased to 7 (at Arne) on Oct 2 with 5 there on Oct 3 and what is probably an erroneous report of 23 comes from Brownsea Island on Oct 6. On Oct 5 a single juvenile was in Pagham Harbour.

Greylag: A total of more than 420 were in the Avon Valley south of Ringwood on Sep 30 and 12 were at Titchfield Haven on Sep 28. On the evening of Oct 6 a group of three flew high over Langstone Harbour, coming from the north east and leaving to the south west after circling over the harbour. Jason Crook saw them and noted black barring on the belly of at least one, suggesting the posibility that these might be genuine wild birds.

Canada Goose: A flock of 300+ were in the Cuckmere Valley near Beachy Head on Oct 2

Brent Goose: So far no one has reported seeing any juveniles but the rate of arrival is increasing with 1250 passing Dungeness on Oct 2 and another 400 passing on Oct 3 (when 300+ were seen in Chichester Harbour).

Black Brant: The first to be reported anywhere on the south coast was in Langstone Harbour on the evening of Oct 6 but it was too distant and the light too weak to be sure of its details - it may have been one of the hybrid/intergrade birds.

Egyptian Goose: A pair were feeding on the grass of a Polo field at Stedham near Midhurst on Sep 29 and it seems there are at least 8 in the Hampshire Avon valley - on Sep 30 seven were on Ibsley Water and another was near Avon village

Shelduck: A total of 27 were seen between Emsworth and Langstone on Oct 2 but could not be seen next day (when the first 17 were back in Newtown Harbour on the IoW) - these are presumably birds returning from the moult in the German coastline and still moving west to find their chosen winter quarters. As many as 50 were in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 27 with 16 there next day but none since.

Wood Duck: A smart male was on Eyeworth Pond in the New Forest on Oct 3 with three Mandarin males

Wigeon: On Sep 30 Pulborough Brooks had around 260 and on Oct 2 there were 230 back at the Blashford Lakes in the Avon Valley but there are lots more still to arrive. On Oct 5 a rough total of 311 flew east past Lymington marshes and on that day 193 were present at Hook/Warsash.

Gadwall: Alresford Pond had 75 of these on Sep 30 and on Oct 3 there were 58 at Titchfield Haven. Hook/Warsash had 49 on Oct 4

Teal: Also on Alresford Pond on Sep 30 there were 240 Teal but of local interest the first I personally saw were 14 birds on the Langstone village shore on Oct 2 (with around 60 there next day, including some on Langstone Pond) though some had been seen there at least a week before that.

Pintail: In September the only double figure count which I saw was of 27 in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 27 but Oct 2 brought a report of 84 flying north over the Carters Farm area near Rye. By Oct 5 there were 34 at Hook/Warsash and on Oct 6 there were around 40 at Keyhaven (Avon water floods). In Havant two were on Budds Farm pools on Oct 4.

Garganey: One was still to be seen in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 3.

Pochard: One or more were on Budds Farm Pools on Sep 29 (but did not stay) and three arrived at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 30

Ferruginous Duck: No reports yet from Budds Farm but on Oct 6 a first winter bird plus a Pochard X Ferruginous hybrid male were both in the Abbotsbury area near Weymouth

Eider: The count off Titchfield Haven as up to 32 on Oct 3 with only 5 in the Lymington area on Oct 4

Common Scoter: A couple of unusual inland sightings - on Sep 30 one was on the Blashford Lakes at Ringwood (only the third inland record for Hants) and on Oct 2 a male was inside Pagham Harbour near Tern Island.

Goldeneye: One was seen in the Titchfield Haven area on Sep 28, the same day that one was seen in Chichester Harbour (first of the season for both Hants and Sussex)

Red-breasted Merganser: So far only six reports of returning birds. One flew west past Selsey Bill on Sep 19, one was in Christchurch Harbour on Sep 28 and on Oct 2 one was seen off Durlston. Oct 4 brought one to Newtown Harbour on the IoW and Oct 5 saw one in Pagham Harbour and two in Poole Harbour.

Goosander: On Sept 30 a total of five redheads were seen in the Avon valley near Ringwood but it is not clear if this represents the arrival of birds from the north or if these have all been summering in the valley. On Oct 5 one was at the Blashford Lakes.

Ruddy Duck: Two new reports this week but neither were new arrivals at their sites. One at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 6 has been there since Sep 1 and a male on the Budds Farm Pools in Havant on Oct 4 is probably one of a pair that may have been there for some time - the pair were seen together on Aug 29 and the male and female have both been seen independently on more that one occasion since.

Marsh Harrier: One - presumably a departing summer bird - flew over Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 30 when another was seen on the IoW near the Needles.

Hen Harrier: One seen over Pagham Harbour on Sep 30 may have been the same bird seen at Farlington Marshes on Sep 27 and over Thorney Island on Sep 28

Osprey: One seen over the Pilsey Island area of Chichester Harbour on Oct 1 was said to be a 'new bird' - no reports of the two that were at the Thorney Deeps since Sep 23 but there were two sightings (of the new bird?) on Oct 3 (probably the same bird seen both from Sandy Point on Hayling and the Stakes Island area between Pilsey and Cobnor)

Spotted Crake: One at Radipole (Weymouth) on Oct 2

Coot: Bob Chapman (who refers to people who enjoy seeing this species as 'Fulicaphiles') reports the presence of more than 800 at the Blashford Lakes on Oct 2 - I wonder if the Chichester Lakes can beat that total?

Common Crane: At least one more displaced migrant was wandering around the Thanet area of Kent on Oct 4 and 5

Ringed Plover: Of local interest the first two were back on the Warblington shore on Oct 2, and on Oct 3 some 300 were in the high tide roost at Black Point on Hayling

Kentish Plover: One was reported to be in the Pagham Harbour high tide roost off Church Norton on Sep 29

Dotterel: A single bird was spotted among Golden Plover at the Dungeness RSPB reserve on Oct 6

Golden Plover: The first count to exceed 200 this autumn is of 210 at Rye Harbour on Oct 1 but by Oct 6 there were 306 there. Locally a flock of 108 were on mud beside the Emsworth Channel west of the Thorney Deeps on Oct 5 and more than 20 were back on the Northney saltings across from Langstone village that same day (plus 65 in Pagham Harbour). On Oct 6 a flock of 120 (with 300 Lapwing) were seen in the air just north of the A30 on the road from Winchester to Wherwell and Andover.

Little Stint: One of the 103 reports I have seen this autumn was of local interest in being at Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 25 to 26, while 8 were seen together in the Black Point roost on Oct 3. October has brought sightings from twelve sites and a peak count of 13 birds at Rye Harbour on Oct 6

Pectoral Sandpiper: A juvenile was at Sidlesham Ferry Pool on Sep 30 and Oct 1, and one was in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 1. On Oct 5 and 6 a juvenile has been seen on the Pagham village shore of Pagham Harbour and is said to be very tame - coming to within 3 metres of photographers.

Bar-tailed Godwit: 341 were back in Chichester Harbour on the Pilsey Sands on Sep 30 and maybe these moved to the Langstone area by Oct 2 when 290 were feeding on the north shore east of Langstone (a similar number were still there on Oct 2, 3 and 5)

Spotted Redshank: Poole Harbour had an autumn peak count of 8 on Sep 30 and maybe some of these moved on to give a count of 5 in Christchurch Harbour on Oct 1 and 8 there on Oct 6

Little Gull: The number off Dungeness shot up to 40+ on Oct 4 and 165 seen in one hour on Oct 5

Lesser Blackback Gull: The annual miracle of the sudden appearance of around 8000 of these at the Blashford Lakes, without more than a dozen being reported anywhere in the south in advance of this miracle, took place on Sep 30. To add to the mystery these birds are only seen before sunrise and after sunset when vast numbers disperse from and return to their overnight roost, never being seen anywhere during the day. Maybe a slight exaggeration but this report of 8000+ flying north from Blashford at dawn on Sep 30 does show up one of the many gaps in the knowledge of most birders about their quarry...

Terns: By the start of October it seems that the majority of these have left us. One Sandwich Tern off the Langstone South Moor shore on Oct 4 may be one intending to stay the winter but counts of those passing down channel to leave us did not exceed 17 off Littlehampton on Oct 5. The latest Roseate was a single off Dungeness on Sep 30 and the latest Black Tern was off Titchfield Haven on Sep 28. Just two reports of Common Tern in October both came from the Warsash area (four on Oct 2 and two on Oct 4). Two juvenile Arctic Terns were off Warsash on Oct 5 and a single Little Tern was off Dungeness on Oct 3. Best of the bunch was a Wiskered Tern at the mouth of the Hamble seen by Pete Combridge on Oct 2 (only report for the year from anywhere that I know of)

Stock Dove: A group of 11 were feeding on Oct 3 in the field west of Pook Lane at Warblington where a flock of up to 140 could be seen last winter.

Turtle Dove: A late departing bird was at Portland on Oct 4

Short-eared Owl: The first local birds were two seen at Thorney Island on Oct 1 - the fact that they were flying north could mean that they had just arrived from the continent rather than coming from the north (though that is pure guesswork). Oct 4 brought a sight of one hunting at Beachy Head and another at Culver Down near Bembridge (IoW).

Nightjar: Another late departing bird was on the Lymington Marshes, flushed at dusk on Oct 2 (this is a probable, not definite, sighting)

Hoopoe: One seen in the residential gardens of Brighton on the evening of Sep 27 was more likely to have been an escape from captivity than a genuine vagrant.

Woodlark: Six were newly back at their regular winter quarters just east of the Meon at Wickham on Oct 1. Others reached the coast at Hook/Warsash on Oct 4 and Dungeness on Oct 5

Skylark: I have not heard of any Skylarks singing since Aug 4 so the sound of full song from three birds over the Warblington Farm shore fields on Oct 3 was another milestone in the annual wildlife calendar - possibly the birds were provoked into song to repel continental birds, now arriving for the winter, from invading the feeding territory of local birds. A sudden increase in reports of passage birds includes a count of 57 going over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 4 and the first sound of one chirruping as it flew over my Havant garden on Oct 7

Shorelark: The first of the winter has been at Birling Gap on Beachy Head from Sep 30 to Oct 2 at least

Sand Martin: 75 were still over the Blashford Lakes on Oct 1 and 12 flew over Christchurch Harbour on Oct 6

Swallow: 5000 went over Christchurch Harbour on Sep 30 with 2500 near Hastings on Oct 2 and 4000+ over Dungeness on Oct 3

House Martin: These continue to pass along the coast in large numbers - on Oct 6 Portland had 1000+ and Christchurch had 1600

Richard's Pipit: A possible, heard only, went over Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 30 followed by definite sightings at Christchurch Harbour on both Oct 4 and 6

Wren: Last year I only heard four singing in September but regular autumn song started on Oct 3, being heard daily from Oct 9, and this year the pattern has been similar with 5 records in Sept and brief bursts heard from my garden on both Oct 2 and 3. On Oct 5 I heard three birds in full song and have heard at least one on Oct 6 and 7

Passerine migrants: Species seen in the first week of October have been ...

Tree Pipit,

Meadow Pipit (1250 over Durlston on Oct 2),

Rock Pipit,

Yellow Wagtail (17 at Farlington Marshes on the evening of Oct 2 may have been the last flock of the year - just two there next day),

Grey Wagtail (first of the winter residents over my garden on Oct 3 and what may have been one, though reported as a Yellow Wagtail, at the Stansted sawmill site),

Pied Wagtail (160 over Durlston on Oct 2),

White Wagtail,

Black Redstart,

Common Redstart,

Whinchat,

Stonechat (69 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 3),

Wheatear,

Ring Ouzel (30 at Dungeness on Oct 3),

Blackbird (50+ at Cissbury Ring on the Downs north of Worthing on Oct 2),

Fieldfare (Seven reports so far with the first being from the Isle of Wight on Sep 29 and the biggest flock being 7 birds in the Kent Stour valley on Oct 6),

Song Thrush (75+ at Cissbury Ring on Oct 2),

Redwing (315 arrived at Dungeness on Oct 2),

Mistle Thrush (8 at Cissbury Ring on Oct 2),

Cetti's Warbler,

Grasshopper Warbler,

Aquatic Warbler (just one ringed at Titchfield Haven on Sep 29),

Sedge Warbler,

Reed Warbler,

Dartford Warbler,

Lesser Whitethroat,

Whitethroat,

Garden Warbler,

Blackcap,

Yellow-browed Warbler (now present a several sites including a report of one in the Staunton Country Park at Havant),

Chiffchaff (55 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 1 with at least two reports of song in October),

Goldcrest (50+ at Hastings Country Park on Oct 4),

Firecrest (five at Portland on Oct 2 with October reports from fifteen other sites),

Spotted and Pied Flycatchers (also a Red-breasted Flycatcher in a Winchester garden on Sep 28),

Chaffinch (575 over Dungeness on Oct 2),

Brambling (small number of up to 8 seen at five sites),

Greenfinch (60+ at Cissbury Ring on Oct 2 - Greenfinch numbers are much lower than expected, probably due to a disease affecting this species),

Goldfinch (650 at Barton on Sea on Oct 6),

Siskin (303 at Sandy Point on Hayling on Oct 3),

Linnet (1489 at Sandy Point on Oct 3),

Lesser Redpoll (59 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 6),

Crossbill (Just one count of 3 at Hastings on Oct 4),

Bullfinch (Small counts from three sites show that these are on the move),

Bearded Tit (Reports of pre-passage 'high flying' from Thorney Island, Titchfield Haven and the Pannel Valley at Rye Bay)

Long-tailed Tit (An interesting report of 60+ at Cissbury Ring on Oct 2 - are these cross channel migrants with the winter Thrushes?)

Coal Tit (What are probably continental birds arriving for the winter were seen on Oct 2 at Carters Farm near Rye (2 birds) and Durlston Country Park (3 birds))

Great Grey Shrike (First of the winter were in East Kent on Sep 30 - two seen at different sites in the Thanet area could have been the same bird. Second bird was at Portland on Oct 6 - and was possibly seen at dawn that day on the cliffs at Barton on Sea before it reached Portland)

Tree Sparrow (Late news of two seen at Sandy Point on Hayling on Sep 3 - earliest to be seen on the south coast, preceding 10 in the Cuckmere Valley on Sep 8, 1 in the Seaford area on Sep 10 and 1 at Christchurch Harbour on Sep 12. Recent reports have been of 2 at Hastings on Oct 4, 16 at Dungeness on Oct 5 - new in from the continent? - and 4 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 6)

Lapland Bunting (One in the Rye Bay area on Sep 29 - third or fourth for the autumn)

Reed Bunting (80 at Christchurch Harbour on Oct 4),

Corn Bunting (15 flew over Rye Harbour on Oct 6)

Jay: No mass migration but clearly some movement is taking place, increasing numbers seen at coastal sites

Raven: Reports of these are now so regular and widespread that I do not mention them but on Oct 4 Steve Keen in Sway (near New Milton) watched a flock of 12 pass over head, going east, to set a new Hampshire county record.

INSECTS

(Skip to Plants)

Butterflies (Still 16 species on the wing at the start of October)

Clouded Yellow: 18 reports this week including one of 13 seen around Thorney Island on Oct 4. Two reports were of helice females.

Red Admiral: Plenty of these around but Durlston reported over a hundred on Oct 5 and then 'hundreds roosting in Holm Oaks' seen early on Oct 6

Wall Brown: On Oct 5 nine were still on Mill Hill at Shoreham where the third brood of the year has been the most numerous

Meadow Brown: Still 30+ to be seen near Eastbourne on Oct 5

Moths

Acleris logiana (Grey Birch Button): First report from Horsham on Oct 5

Blair's Mocha (Cyclophora puppillaria): First of year at Durlston on Sep 28

The Mallow (Larentia clavaria): First at Newhaven on Sep 29

Brindled Ochre (Dasypolia templi): First at Durlston on Oct 3

Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri): First in the Worthing area on Oct 1

Green-brindled Crescent (Allophyes oxyacanthae): First at Durlston on Oct 4

Red-line Quaker (Agrochola lota): First at Peacehaven (Brighton) on Sep 29

Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis): First at Worthing on Oct 1

Orange Sallow (Xanthia citrago): First at Horsham on Oct 5

Clancy's Rustic: Third specimen of the year taken at Pagham Harbour on Oct 2

Scarce Bordered Straw (Helicoverpa armigera): First at Portland on Oct 3

Other Insects

Rhododendron Leafhopper (Graphocephala fennahi): A new species for me discovered when I read a report of one seen at Hastings on Oct 6. An invader from north America which is now fairly common on Rhododenrens along the south coast (though this one was on a sunflower) - see Michael Chinery's Collins Guide to Insects page 92

Chrysotoxum festivum: This is my guess at the id of a couple of medium sized hoverflies that were active in the Langstone area on Oct 3. This species shares the black top to its thorax, and the black and yellow transverse stripes on its abdomen, which I saw and it is made the more likely by being a relatively common species whose flight period lasts into October.

Myathropa florea: Another fairly common hoverfly which is still on the wing in October and which I identified for the first time when one landed on my sweater, allowing me a close look, while out in my garden on Oct 7. The clincher to the id is that this is the only hoverfly likely to be seen hereabouts which has horizontal barring across the top of its thorax (something I could only detect at really close range)

Robber Fly (Asilus crabroniformis): Oct 6 brought a third sighting for the year of this rarity. On Aug 27 one was seen in the Eastbourne area and on Sep 15 and Oct 5 in the Newhaven area

Hornet: There are usually many and widespread reports of Hornets at this time of year but one seen at Durlston on Oct 6 is the first I have heard of since July 22

Devil's Coach Horse beetle: On Oct 3 the Rye Bay website had a dramatic photo of one in its defensive posture when disturbed out in the open away from cover

Crickets: On Oct 6 the ranger's daily report for Durlston mention that the 'songs' of Great Green and Dark Bush Crickets, plus Long Winged Conehead, could still be heard there

PLANTS

(Skip to Other Wildlife)

Viola tricolor: A lovely specimen of this plant with deep Royal Blue petals was the latest addition to the 'casuals' to be found (on Oct 3) on the disturbed ground of the old Hayling Billy rail track where it crosses Mill Lane at Langstone. With it were a Field Pansy and some Small Flowered Cranesbill as well as the Alsike Clover, Cockspur Grass, Shaggy Soldier and other oddities such as Larkspur, Love-in-the-mist and Lobelia erinus seen on a recent previous visit.

Brackish Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotii): Although the water in the Havant Homewell spring is as 'unbrackish' as you can get this plant grows there and was freshly in flower on Oct 5

Lesser Stitchwort: This was found flowering in the Stansted Forest area on Oct 4 - last previous record was on Aug 27

Sticky Mouse-ear: Common Mouse-ear has been on the flowering list for some time but Sticky Mouse-ear was new on Oct 5

Greater Sea Spurrey: Lesser Sea Spurrey has been widely found this year as it has become addicted to the salt used on roads in winter and extended its range to many roadsides far from the sea shore, but until Oct 3 I had not come across any Greater Sea Spurrey with its larger and paler flowers - I found it flower on grass by saltings east of Nore Barn at Warblington.

Hairy Vetchling (Lathyrus hirsutus): I was pleasantly surprised to find this still flowering on the Broadmarsh 'mountain' on Oct 4

Goat's Rue: Still flowering at North Common on Hayling on Oct 6

Meadow Sweet: Flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth on Oct 1

Cow Parsley: Brian Fellows had found this re-flowering at Brook Meadow in Emsworth as early as Sep 5 before finding more of it in Church Lane at Warblington on Oct 2 - when I went to see this find on Oct 3 I found three specimens of Cow Parsley and one of Upright Hedge Parsley all in flower scattered along that roadside.

Hemlock: Many young plants were just starting to re-flower on the north pier of the old rail bridge at Langstone on Oct 3

Tomato plant: Although these will grow almost anywhere I was surprised to hear of one flowering among seaweed on the Esmworth shore on Oct 3

Verbascum macrocarpum: The 'new to Britain' plants found recently on North Common on Hayling, which have suffered from severe vandalism, were still surviving on Oct 6 - the one plant which has escaped the vandals is still intact and bearing much seed, the tallest plant which was knocked down to ground level has put up one small flower spike from its roots, and the smaller plant which was only decapitated is also growing several new flower spikes (none of the flowers yet open - if and when they do will the vandals strike again?)

Foxglove: A single plant in flower at Stansted on Oct 4

Sharp-leaved Fluellen: This was flowering in the harvested arable field behind Conigar Point at Warblington on Oct 3

Germander Speedwell: Re-flowering in Warblington cemetery on Oct 5

Marsh Woundwort: A good find of this in flower again by Brian Fellows in Emsworth on Oct 1

Field Woundwort: Although I had found this flowering in the Warblington shore field behind Conigar Point in both August and September there was a lot more of it to be seen when I was there on Oct 3

Devils Bit Scabious: Still flowering in Havant Thicket on Oct 6 along with Goldenrod

Goat's Beard: Another good find for the time of year was a plant of this with a flower (albeit closed) in Emsworth on Oct 1

Red-hot Poker: A garden escape was flowering in the hedgerow of Church Lane at Warblington on Oct 2

OTHER WILDLIFE

Wild Goat: A reference to two of these seen on Tennyson Down (IoW) on Oct 4 is a reminder of their existence on the Island

Common Seal: One was seen in Pagham Harbour on Oct 5 - unusual there

Noctule Bat: Maybe these come out earlier in the evening at this time of year in order to feed up prior to hibernation, or maybe there are more birders out at dusk now that it comes early in the evening, but for whatever reason birders in the Cuckmere valley near Beachy Head recorded two Nocutules in flight on Oct 2 and on Oct 5 five were seen over the Lymington marshes

Fungi: Dry ground is delaying the normal onset of the fungal fruiting season but some are beginning to appear. In my Havant garden a group of four largish waxcaps with a pinkish tinge to their caps area I think Meadow Waxcaps and with them are some small 'golden spindles' but I think that name is reserved for a larger species up to 6 cm long and these are probably Yellow Club (Clavulinopsis helvola). On Oct 6 the Havant Wildlife Group visited Havant Thicket in search of fungi and found the uncommon Earpick Fungus (Auriscalpium vulgare) which only grows on the fallen cones of Scots Pine. Also in their list were False Death Cap (Amanita citrina), Tawny Grisette (Amanita fulva). Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystine), Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum), and several others where there may be confusion over names (the bane of current day communication about fungi!). In their report Stagshorn was mentioned but there are three different fungi now given this name (Yellow, Small and Pale) and my guess is that they found Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa). Another confusion is that the name Japanese Umbrella which they use for Coprinus plicatilis has now been changed to Pleated Inkcap


To see Summaries for July to Sept 2007 go to JUL-SEP SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for April to June 2007 go to APR-JUN SUMMARIES

To see Summaries for Jan, Feb and Mar 2007 go to JAN-MAR SUMMARIES


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