Sunday, 22 September 2019

Tick two..

A brief pond 'n park morning was pretty fruitless with just the hoverfly Didea fasciata in the southwest corner sunbathing on willow and dropping onto water mint - a new-for-year species and probably the latest nfy I can recall seeing. The south facing slope near the nursery had plenty of Ivy Bees and a fair few fresh Small Coppers.

The next day at Titchfield saw a session 'book-ended' by Slavonian Grebe (not distant and out towards Brownwich but fairly close in off the carpark east of Rainbow Bar) and an adult male Peregrine very low into the harbour flushing gulls and Turnstones but presumably dissuaded from a serious attack with the proximity of so many boat masts.

In between these two pretty much nothing else, although the scrapes had been disturbed for their autumn haircut  very recently. Three Snipe were the best and a heron was watched stabbing a hapless eel to death before downing it in two gulps.

Unfortunatlely, the star bird chose to wait until I'd got home before popping out in front of MSH briefly for one lucky birder; a Bluethroat, possibly the Hook bird although just as likely a new arrival. Either way this species still eludes my UK  list. How embarrassing!! And to add insult to injury MF and AR both connected this morning. Luckily, 'a window in my schedule' has opened tomorrow morning so maybe it'll hang around although I'm guessing it might attract a few people as it's the first in twenty odd years here.

Saturday, and despite a reasonably early departure, saw MSH  already crowded with Bluethroat fans and luckily, although not too close, gave decent scope views after a 10-15 minute wait. Second UK/Hants tick in five days - that's not happened in decades!!
Elsewhere a Kingfisher was still using one of the provided perches, two herons were too busy chasing each other up and down the reserve to go fishing and the Canadas are still increasing - probably 450-500 today. Apart from a light but steady passage of Swallows there was no sign of any migrants.
And it seems as if the grebe have finally decamped and flown into the Solent.

The wasp traps have been removed but a few sugar cubes left on the wall are keeping the wasp well fed with 20-30 on each cube.

Back home a Box Moth was dayflying around the garden; I'm guessing there are plenty about at the moment.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

EOW not for me...or is it?

In recent days the Farlington carpark has been rammed full of cars due to the presence of an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, a county first I believe and today (Monday) was no exception. Ironically  I'm guessing this was the'unknown' warbler shown to me by Tony Heath on his phone at TH on the last visit and assumed to be Chiff/Reed or somesuch!! That's a small bright screen and no glasses for you!!

Both on arrival and departure the bushes were full of people mostly chatting and aimlessly wandering about and massive lenses poking into bushes waiting for a brief glimpse.

For myself a leisurely stroll, mostly due to severe back and shoulder pain, produced plenty of commoner birds on a rising 'high' tide.
Lots of the ubiquitous waders included some Knot, a dozen Greenshank and a single Curlew Sandpiper; three groups of noisy but invisible Beardies held down by the breeze and a point blank female Kingfisher just under the viewpoint.

The RA fenceline held six Whinchats, three at each end and three acompanying Wheatears. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, searching the patches of Sea Aster didn't reveal any C. halophilus and Small Heath was the only obvious non-white butterfly species.

The seawall walk was mostly devoid of birds and the deeps are now so dry that Meadow Pipits were hovering and landing in the water to wash, maybe just an inch deep.

A single Osprey was on North Binness and shown to three members of a Farnborough group and two Peregrines were both perched on the same wooden fencing on Baker's Island. The south end of the hayfield had cattle and attendant Yellow Wagtails, maybe ten-ish with a few elsewhere on the marsh.

The EOW watchers were all still in situ as I left.

Today, Tuesday, saw a brief visit to TH where there were just  4-5 Stonechats and two Whinchats on the reserve and still two Wheatears on the sailing club fence. A Kingfisher was again from the bridge plus the piping grebes but little on the scrapes due to mowing. Probably 50-100 Swallows east.

With a lunchtime finish and such a glorious day of cloudless blue sky and light breeze it seemed worth dropping into Farlington on the way home where the EOW crowds were much reduced, plenty of parking available and just eleven other people on arrival; the bird was immediately and continuously on show in great light - I'm very glad I didn't waste time in yesterday's conditions. Elsewhere, much the same as yesterday including the Osprey but a few more Greenshanks. And yet again Chris and Kerry and group!!

PS My first Hampshire and  UK 'tick' in 51 months!!

(Photo of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler below courtesy of and copyright of Nick Bond).

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Boris the....

spinneret equipped arachnid.... and friends.

So today's classroom and outdoor session aimed at upping the profile of spiders on the reserve was delivered by Paula to a room full of (mostly) 'spider virgins' such as myself. After some preliminary background info we decamped with toothbrushes (the electric type) to encourage a variety of False Widow spp to leave their hiding places on the outside of reception before realising it wasn't lunch vibrating their webs just some pesky nature botherers.

On the way out to the heathland we stumbled upon several rather torpid Dor Beetles and later three Violet Ground Beetles; Carey picked up a Ladybird Beetle something I don't recall seeing before.

Jumping spiders were a feature of gates and fence posts and later, wolf spiders, Orb Weavers and Wasp Spiders were found, the latter along with the impressive sealed egg sac as seen below.

With 'off-piste access' it was good to see a nice variety of inverts amongst the heather including Colletes bees, most if not all deemed to be hederae rather than succinctus, despite being on heather rather than ivy. Lepidoptera were few but included fresh Red Admirals and rather more worn Small Coppers plus a 'kicked up' Rush Veneer.

Numerous Common Darters were paired up and yo-yoing up and
down as they oviposited; Ruddy and Black Darters were common along with a few Migrant Hawkers - later, on the main reserve singles of Southern and Brown Hawker.

Most hovers on the heath were Platycheirus spp although Sericomyia silentis was a little more obvious; elsewhere just Eristalis, Syrphus, Sphaerophoria, Eupeodes, Episyrphus balteatus, Myathropa florea.

Finally, one of the Orb Weavers (below) dashed out of hiding to ensnare this small wasp spp, probably Crossocerus spp, rapidly bundled it up and returned into its leafy lair.

After lunch there was time for a quick look at the now distant Red-necked Phalarope on the far pool and where the supporting cast was limited to two rather nice juvenile Hobbies, the first I've seen this year.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Autumn part 1

Seems particularly relevant now:-

I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit
I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet
I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain
And still you play the sycophant and revel in your pain
And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate
I am the politician and I decide your fate

First week of Autumn has been uninspiring and the proximity of G3 22 Culver the WTE never turned into a sighting. The juvenile Osprey seen on a few occasions at TH was one of this year's bird from Loch of the Lowes whilst the second was a four year old bird from the same area. These both departed but one or two remain on Thorney and North Binness. Thorney continues to host the Cattle Egrets from the local colony.

Secrets of the Heath was entertaining and thanks to Rob and Anna for my first Wasp Spiders at this site, some NfY hovers but sadly no credit card facility in the beer tent, so a 'dry' visit!! The Wildlife Trust were emptying a moth trap which wasn't busy but held Bordered Beauty and a couple of nice Feathered Gothic, Rosy Rustic and Flounced Rustics. Later, at the park, very quiet with just a chubby female Adder slithering away silently at my approroach at the top of the diagonal path and a particularly noisy Marsh Tit taking berries from a bush adjacent to the marquee cafe.

A non birding visit to Selborne produced just calling Buzzard, a Southern Hawker and a few bees/hovers but opened an opportunity for a moth trap later in the week all being well.

Week two started with an unexpected site-tick at TH, a Purple Sandpiper found by IM and later relocated on the yacht club beach. Keeping my distance whilst MF rattled off a few frames saw the bird run straight towards me - for a second I thought it was going to perch up on my shoe!

Rather better but considerably less confiding was the second Red-necked Phalarope at PB ( a juvenile after the summer's adult) typically found by MP on a very early visit and tweeted out immediately. After too-ing and fro-ing between the various viewpoints some decent views were obtained and the presence of this ensured lots of visitors including Chris and Kerry (wine gum lady!!) with their Chichester group, ARK, JK, GK and RB, AB and C/JM etc.
Supporting cast was limited to a few other waders and a nice Marsh Harrier.
On leaving the small patch of Ivy at the entrance held a hunting Hornet, Tachina fera, Myathropa florea, Ichneumon spp and a couple of Ivy Bees.
Back home a final surprise discovered by Andrew was a Convolulus Hawkmoth on his garden gate, my first since catching one two years ago at No 3.

Thursday saw a moth-trapping visit to Selborne with a one to one with CP. Nothing too different but more Feathered Gothic, Rosy Rustic, Flounced Rustic, Burnished Brass etc - Twenty-plumed through a handlens was best.
Improving weather saw a couple of Sparrowhawks rising up to potentially intercept overflying hirundines.

Friday's Spider Course may prove to be the highlight of the week.

And below, phalarope watchers, spider with prey, female Wasp Spider, male Ivy Bee

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Come on Autumn!!

Well August was a mixed bag weather wise with some rain (but nowhere near enough to reflood the brooks although they  now look green rather than desert-like), plenty of sunshine and high temperatures, plenty of wind and even a little from the east eventually. But, for the most part, it was hard work with little on offer.

A best count of 21 Volucellas of three species at TH and just good numbers of common species on Wild Parsnip at QECP.

Plenty of Tachina fera and Phasia hemiptera at various sites including QECP and Sustainability and hundreds of Eriothrix rufomaculata on Ragwort at PB.

Elsewhere people have had early Ivy Bees but none yet at any local sites.

Beewolf at Pulborough on main reserve and heathland plus others at Blashford around the usual spot; Cercerus rybiensis with Lassioglossum prey, Crabro cribarius and lots of Ectemnius spp  at Pulborough.

Pretty much nil

Just a nice hatch of Migrant Hawkers (first of the year) at Pulborough mid-month.

Painted Ladies on many dates and decent numbers of Holly Blues and still a few Brown Argus.

Other inverts
The  Pulborough Wasp Spiders proved elusive but thanks to Bryn at Blashford this one below was one of three seen on the south side lichen heath.

The QECP Spotted Flycatchers were nice to watch with both adults and two plus young but fewer on subsequent visits.

A 2cy male Marsh Harrier was the best at PB on two occasions plus the odd glimpse of one, maybe two, individuals at TH.

Another Wood Sandpiper, which gave great scope views, and four Black Terns plus a dozen Little Terns (the latter NfY!!) amongst 200 or more Common Terns were at TH although still no Roseates - probably little chance now.

Osprey at TH feeding whilst perched up on the Owl/Kestrel box was pretty decent and on the same day the North Binness bird was present, but hunkered down with a Peregrine on a post nearby. Subsequently, the TH Osprey was watched from the meadow on a second day but another much closer bird at Ibsley Water provided much better views on the ground.

Migrant passerines have been mostly tough to find although five decent looking Whinchat on Farlington,  probably 30 or so Yellow Wags at Farlington and TH (and even a singleton over the house) plus two nice fresh Wheatears on the Hill Head Yacht Club fence and a couple of the latter on hay bales at Pulborough.

Sadly, two Wrynecks at FM had gone to ground for all the post lunch visitors, myself included and one at Hook Links wasn't worth pursuing. Maybe still time in September for one.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Hot summer city nights....but still pretty moth-less

Well, steamy July is almost at an end; hopefully August won't be as uncomfortable nor as birdless. The highlight of the last few weeks were yesterday's Spotted Flycatchers at QECP. Only heard from high in the trees adjacent to the entrance on the last visit, yesterday an adult and spotty youngster were in the sheltered hot spot at the north end of the butterfly slope; I can't remember the last time I saw a juvenile. Smart looking and typically vocal juvenile Buzzards were overhead plus the odd Swallow.

Wild Parsnip and other umbellifers  were attracting large numbers of common hoverflies with a single C.festivum NfY and better still a Scaeva selenitica, a new spp (and recorded as such by RM). The tachinid Hedya vittata also popped up but didn't register with me despite seeing it here two years ago; a couple of Phasia hemiptera, both females,  a Silver-washed Fritiliary, singles of Chalkhill Blue and a summer gen Holly Blue plus two Southern Hawkers rounded out the inverts.

Only other notable species in the last three weeks were the Wood Sandpiper at TH and, more locally, five male Volucella zonaria.

Moth trap problems ( an assumed bulb failure but, after replacement, further investigation revealed a loose wire!) meant no trapping. Until then Jersey Tiger and the odd EHM were best of the bunch; curiously no Tree Lichen Beauties yet this year.

Below a few pix from QECP...

Dolichovespula media
Hedya vittata
Spot the SPOFLs
Meliscaeva cinctella

..from Titchfield...

Abia fasciata

..and from Blashford

Anthophora bimaculata
Mother of Pearl
Plus, here, another Mother of Pearl from Wishbone Ash 

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Pond 'n Park

A brief spin around the pond produced lots of Pantaloon Bees, probably the most numerous after Honey Bee. Cheilosia illustrata were in double figures having only seen two previously in 2019. A single Great Crested Grebe was the best bird and the hot perimeter path was good for sunning Black-tailed Skimmers, all males. A robberfly (below) Dysmachus trigonus was polishing off a Sarcophaga spp.

At the park Marbled White is now more numerous that any other species.
This fox must be pretty deaf as it sat scratching and poking about amongst the orchids etc despite me being just yards away and taking pictures; goes to show how quiet mirrorless cameras are. Eventually it turned, saw me and bolted.

The bottom path has been partly mown/strimmed opening up a nice 'flight-corridor' for all the usual butterflies and a male Emperor Dragonfly. A Dark Green Fritillary was nice to see here especially as it was perching frequently. Later, speaking to the Raynors, they had seen many DGFs on Butser, mostly blown around in the strong breeze, but little else barring Bee Orchids.

This male Hybomitra horsefly was sat on the car bonnet on return.