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Monday, 22 April 2019

Yesterday, off to Blashford in the hope that the three Black Terns may still be present ..... but of course they weren't! Two second year Little Gulls were still knocking about but now just one male Goosander, no Goldeneye and four or more LRPs. At least one White Wagtail was just outside the hide. Some Welsh visitors had cracking flight shots of Colin the Cuckoo from last year and were back to Thursley today for more.

Probably 50:50 positive/negative comments regarding the usability of the new hide. The new signage, info boards, raised flower beds and species silhouettes make everything look smarter and more professional. Just need the Tern-Goosander path to open!!

Temperatures were high so the Ivy Lake hides were too uncomfortable (and mostly birdless) for anything but a short stay and the feeder station is now pretty much empty. The heat also ensured that most hovers and bees were keeping concealed although these conditions suited butterflies with all the usual species plus a Holly Blue, blown up and over reception, and two feisty Small Coppers on the lichen heath where also a Pyrausta pupuralis. A rustling under the gorse adjacent to a felt was almost certainly a Grass Snake. A Garden Warbler was singing unseen.

The one that almost(!) got away was a small fly which perched briefly whilst photographing some slime mould with attendant Anisotoma humeralis beetles and which I assumed was a non-hover - in fact, via FB, was a Brachyopa spp (scuttelaris maybe), something I'd not seen before and one of four species unidentifiable in the field and specialising in sap runs; worth checking for on next visit. Some Byturus spp (Raspberry Beetles) were on Dandelion and plenty of chiromids including Ablabesmyia spp were photographed.

Finally, a Sparrowhawk with prey disappeared into the trees with much subsequent calling so presumably a nest site.

Today, a breakfast outing to Hill Head with M, was a hot one with just a light breeze and saw a blizzard of Alder Leaf Beetles and tiny flies plus a few St Mark's Flies covering vehicles and people on the coast - the white cars and winnebagos looked like a scene from the 70s when there were still a few insects out there!!

Just seventy Turnstones, some now tortoiseshell, a few raucous Sandwich Terns and glistening Med Gulls; Sedge Warblers were heard only as was the Blackcap serenading us over breakfast.

First Large Red

Brachyopa spp

Friday, 19 April 2019

Seven Whistler and White Arse

Plateumaris sericea

Osmia bicornis


Thursday at home, the post-dawn chorus featured a surprising Blackcap (usually no nearer than Squirrel Wood) and flyover Med Gulls; the local Curlew-mimicing Starling fooled me again. Later at WWT, a cacophony of bird sound was mostly Gulls, B-h and Meds plus lots of Reed, Sedge, Cettis and a few Blackcaps, Chiffs and a single Willow Warbler.

Since last visit, now many broods of Mallards and Greylag Geese making for a pretty pungent air!! Curiously, four Cackling Geese, two Barnacles and two hybrids. One pair of Oystercatchers still on site although not sitting.

Insect-wise the bee hotel is now well used by Osmia bicornis (below).

By lunchtime the Easter crowds were a bit much so off to PB for lunch and a brief catch up with George and Luke. Sadly, a nice male Redstart had gone to ground but one of three Nightingales sang and showed well, a Greenshank was distant and a skulking male Garganey eventually flew out into the open whilst chatting to Graham and Doug.

Friday saw an early visit to PHP but was cut short as it was utterly birdless and still too cold and shaded for insects - highlight was three male Blackcaps serenading a female all within a few feet of each other on some twigs just in front of the car.

On to Farlington for the first spring visit. Probably ten or so Whimbrel were nice with a couple from the carpark, two on the lake and some further off. I'm guessing plenty more scattered around the harbour. The lake held a handful of Avocets, eight Greenshanks and two hundred Dunlins but sadly no sign of Jack Snipe (but reported early evening!!).

Five Harbour Seals were just getting washed off by the rising tide and later a Red Fox was in Point Field. Highlight, although not unexpected, was a fine male Wheatear near Willow Pond and a couple of Peregrines over North Binness.

Insects were thin but Nomada spp seemed to like Dandelions and a very fresh Small Tortoiseshell was my first this Spring.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Swapped Wednesday for Tuesday and got to catch up with Mark, CP and GT et al, but the overcast sky was a 'buzz-kill'; on the bright side the near-zero wind made it the most comfortable day for a while. First Common Whitethroat of the year was singing adjacent to Westmead and Lesser W's were at the hanger and zig-zag. Long-tailed Tits were nest building although one finished nest elsewhere seemed intact but abandoned. No migrant waders other than three Dunlin seen by ARK. The first Nightingale of the year refused to pop out, sing or even call whilst I stood at the hanger but kicked off again after I'd left. No butterflies and precious little other flyers; on the heath Honey Bees were well laden and inspecting Bluebells and Gorse, Lassioglossums were on Dandelions on the tea terrace along with a single Tree Bee and a Sphecodes was dashing around the scraped area adjacent to the 'bee path'.

 A brief stop at Coldwaltham was fruitless.

Today at TH a few more Sedge W including song-flighting birds - this one below a massive crop from the macro lens. Fifteen Curlews 'bubbled' as they headed north-east. The male Marsh Harrier was active and still collecting reeds. A Holly Blue was perched up trying to warm in the early sun and various bees, Lasioglossums, Bombus, Andrena spp (at least cineraria, fulva, flavipes) with attendant Nomada goodeniana. First Myathropa florea of the year and a 'white-bummed' Eristalis intricaria.

Back home this mating pair of Melecta albifrons on a pieris were joined by a third, not good news for the local flower bees as these are a parasites of them.

Melecta albifrons

Songflighting Sedge

Monday, 15 April 2019

Ashy and Tawny miners..

Andrena cineraria

Busy bee..

The cold easterly may provide hope for local seawatchers but, if its flying insects you're after, then it's a real turn-off. At Chichester, after the early family drop off down town, no sign of Peregrine activity even when a low circling Buzzard went over. In the gardens the hard-as-nails Hairy-feet were all over and still plenty of Beefly activity but few Andrenas other than the above cineraria, a smart fulva and a few un-ids. A possible Parasyrphus hover but not much else. The Ravens either decided to move on or have been keeping their heads down.
Edit. Also Osmia bicornis.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Too chilly by half..

Cold enough (not above 10c and with a wind chill all day) for hat and gloves  in the Tern Hide and just the one remaining Little Gull joined by the first Common Tern of the season. Five or more LRPs were all very vocal and two Black'wits were dozing with a distant Green Sandpiper. Sand Martins were at 200+ with odd Swallows and House Martins.

The re-opening of the picnic area enabled a couple of year first insects namely Rhingia campestris and, finally, a Dotted Bee-fly (both below). Also lots of newt activity in the old pond.

Chatted to JG, JD, J6x4 and DC but gave up pretty early.

Minsmere, way back when

Friday, 12 April 2019

Tuesday was a wet, nil day.

Wednesday saw a sunny but rather tedious day at Pulborough with just single Ruff, a distant Peregrine, a couple of kite and the first two House Martins of the year plus five Swallows but no other new-in birds and precious little insect life;  Carey failed to find anything and even the presence of Matt Phelps made no impact!! Following this a dreadful drive back involved the outer and inner ring roads at Chichester, two passes of the theatre and eventually heading out on the Funtington road and rejoining the main road at Emsworth turn off - presumably all a result of half-term and a good reason to avoid next week.

Today at TH was sunny but cool and produced the first Slow Worm ( a tiny three-incher) and Green-veined White of the year (below) plus a Water Vole on the loo!! Two hundred and thirty (ish) Med Gulls were on the causeway and similar numbers were in the air from arrival to departure. On the west side a Sedge Warbler was singing rather half-heartedly and a Chiffchaff was collecting gull down feathers for a nest.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Stupid and easy to catch..

... well that's Dotterel for you.

Saturday at TH was a little thin with just 150 Med Gulls on site and more calling overhead. No new bird migrants but Melangyna lapsiopthalma, another early-appearing hover was on Marsh Marigold. The mining bee activity on the roadside verges was much reduced today. Renewed permit for the year.

Sunday saw a brief outing to TSC, after a Morrisons visit, where three Firecrests were singing and a single Holly Blue was on the wing but no Marsh Tits heard. A brief look around the top of Butser was unproductive.

Monday saw a 'window' for a trip out to Cheesefoot Head, the first since visiting with KK for the Rough-legged Buzzard way back when (EDIT - 45 years and 4 months ago!!) in this case for two Dotterel. Despite being reported as 'flushed by Buzzard', they were present fairly close to the main track and being watched by about eight people as I arrived. About eight more visitors included Andy, who I've not seen for a while, and the farm owner/manager who enjoyed views through my scope. Just singles of Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer, plenty of Skylark song and quite a few Meadow Pipits rising up from amongst the Rapeseed, the only colour in a pretty flat and hazy light.

On to Blashford where much sunnier conditions and where yesterday's large flock of Brambling had dispered/departed leaving just a handful of birds around the feeders. Plenty of Orange-tip activity and three Grass Snakes (two at Silt Pond, one Goosander Hide). Just one of yesterday's twelve Little Gull remained and hawked over Ibsley Water flashing its black underwings; black head not fully developed.

The air was full of insects with today, for me, being the first 'Bibio day' of the spring, gazillions of Alder Beetles many flying around plus a fair few Alder Flies (Sialis spp) and the gorse holding many day-flying (and so presumably male) Grey Gorse Piercer micro-moths, Cydia ulicetanaEristalis inticaria and Helophilus pendulus were new-for-year hovers and Nomada goodeniana plus, probably, lathburiana the latter a parasite on Andrena cineraria.

KK and MK arrived as I left having also 'paid their respects' to the Dotterel earlier and a Bank Vole nipped across the path.

With the back road open again a return across the forest produced four male Stonechats and a brief stop yielded an unseen singing Woodlark and just one Gos, distant and pretty much a silhouette in the poor light.