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Monday, 24 June 2019

Catch up..

After a glorious summer day on Saturday where it was hard to motivate myself to get out of bed let alone go birding, Sunday provided the only opportunity for 'photo time' with the Peg family. Sadly, the light was flat and grey all day but at least all are now fledged despite AC's poor attempts at landing. The adult male spent a fair amount of time on the cockerel out of the way of the non-stop screaming! Early on a shower of Jackdaw feathers rained down and later a pigeon was brought it so there was plenty of activity. Other birdlife was limited to a few Swifts, one Buzzard, one Goldcrest and a few tatty gulls. But a pleasant day was had in the company of D and J and daughter, the 'Chichester Peregrine Fanclub' and various visitors from all over.

Earlier the trap held 37 of 16 including first Small Ranunculus and Dark Arches of the year and Zeiraphera isertana (NfT/G).

Today a 'Pond and Park' trip, despite the continuing grey weather, produced a few firsts namely:-
Painted Lady (15) after many reports of decent numbers elsewhere in the country
Ringlet one or two at QECP
Marbled White just one
Stenurella melanura
Nowickia ferox

Also another Ladybird Fly and a male Phasia hemiptera (below) on HMD with numerous small Meligethes beetles and just Xylota sylvarum (below) of interest on the hover front.

Birdlife today was pretty much nil although the QECP Marsh Tits were calling briefly and both adult Swallows were rocketing up and down the access road below head height; a Song Thrush was feeding young.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Longest day..

A short walk around the bottom of the park produced 300+ spikes of Common Spotted Orchid but only two small Pyramidals on the wrong side of the fence and too far for a picture. Single Common Lizards were on three different log piles but all too wary. The expected Marbled Whites were absent as were all butterflies but for one Large Skipper, two tatty Common Blues and the odd Red Admiral. The QECP moth trap had surprisingly little with just Buff Tip as the obvious 'best moth'. On the 'butterfly slope' a micro was resting, Lathronympha strigana - specialising on St. John's Wort; a common species but a new one for me. Hovers and other inverts were thin on the ground with only Eristalis intricaria and Cheilosia illustrata, both 'seconds' for the year; why so scarce??

Today, a non 'wild' day at Mottisfont with gazillions of 'Rose Garden Visitors' ensuring ludicrously long delays in the cafe and a chaotic system to boot  - although I guess I could add one new species for month - Brown Trout; plenty in the stream!!

Thistle and B.lapidarius


Thursday, 20 June 2019

Losing track...

.. the continuously 'iffy' weather makes it difficult to remember the days and it occurred to me that yesterday I saw some raspberry-red Pyramidal Orchids by a roadside somewhere, presumably on the return journey and probably along the A3!!

Today was curiously still with no notable changes in birdlife although a dozen post/non-breeding Teal were new in with slightly fewer Shovelers and similar numbers of Avocets and godwits as last visit. The first Med Gulls for a while numbered 30+. An adult Fox was curled up in the rain and pretty disinterested in its own well-grown cub snooping about.

A couple of new hovers for the year were Leucozona laternaria and Chrysogaster solstitialis plus a probable P. fulviventris (unable to be ID'd by Roger sadly). And, after yesterday's 'beginner's botany', rather more Black Meddick in a large patch just inside the south gate and the delightfully named Nipplewort(!) at various points around the reserve. The few pathside Southern Marsh Orchid were well over.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Off to the yurt...

..for todays Wildflower Walk aimed at reserve vols, taking place in wet conditions which at least were far less wet than the journey to and from and with only one distant rumble of thunder. About thirty plant species were on offer but insects limited to one Volucella bombylans and NfY Helophilus hybridus plus Tachinid Dexisoma caninum (below) and a Tenthredo sawfly, possibly mesomela.

Early returning waders were represented by a Wood Sandpiper seen by others on the North Brooks and a Green Sandpiper for Pete and I at Westmead. A Red Kite was over reception area at lunch.

Earlier at home a cool night left the moth trap pretty sparsely populated and with no individuals on adjacent walls. No macros of note and just micros Ephestia spp (unicolorella? - below), Tachystola acroxantha, Hypsopygia costalis and Bryotropha affinis.

Damp botanising

Monday, 17 June 2019

Day 17 - a temporary improvement.

With the two previous days 'rained off' and in part taken over by birthday and Father's Day plus family get-togethers, today was the first opportunity for an outing and, with the weather the way it was, should probably have been used for something a little different.

In the end a brief trip to Waterstones for a book was nice if only for the company of this Robin and its spotty offspring over a coffee in the cathedral garden. Whilst waiting for its helping of Lemon Drizzle Muffin this character sat on the bench, my right foot and later my open glasses case!! The juveniles are still wary. Overhead a high Buzzard was noisily chased off by one of the Pegs to the east.

An hour or so subsequently at QECP produced a few new bits and pieces; hover Chrysotoxum festivum,  Tachinids Tachina fera, Phasia hemiptera and Gymnosoma rotundatum, Conopid Sicus ferrugineus, longhorn beetle Agapanthia villosoviridescens (below) plus the first male Emperor Dragonfly on the pond. Many of the tadpoles are now mini-frogs and crawling around the muddier edges. Some of the orchids are now handsome tall spikes. Bird life here today was nil! Finally, the recent wet weather has been to the liking of Fungi with plenty on show (below).

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Another joyous, wet , grey summer's day!!

So no wildlife today but a couple of links to interesting stuff.

First, some info on a Chichester Peregrine's move 'up north'

Second, some words about Farlington's breeding waders here

Day 14 saw no more than a local walk where the vegetation is now rocketing up with the continuous wet and, at times, sunny conditions; Purple Loosestrife is now appearing and, like all plants, seems to attract Swollen-thighed Beetles (below). Interest came from the first two Volucella zonaria of the year plus V.bombylans (a site-tick), Eristalinus sepulchralis and seven other spp.

Ropey flight shot of Holly Blue showing upperwing pattern (below).

EDIT Several Amblyteles armatorius and an Argogorytes spp were also present.

Friday, 14 June 2019

A musical interlude on day 11..

Some lunchtime culture, a little Mozart from Maria Luc, link here

Earlier the Ravens were present, obviously not decamped as suggessted last week. Both Peregrines were present, the female plucking a pigeon and a Kestrel in the gardens was presumably an ex-partner to the bird found recently taken by the Pegs.

Plenty of Blackcap song still plus Goldcrest and a soaring Buzzard off to the west.
The  scrubby plot held a few leafcutters and Blue Mason Bees whilst the main gardens are still a draw for the various bumbles but only Scaeva pyrastri on the hover front (below).

Wednesday (Day 12) saw a late start at Pulborough with just one or two Garden Bumblebees, the Black Wood Spotted Flycatcher, two LRPs (both adults) and no Redshank/Lapwings chicks, presumably all predated. At least three families of Great Spots were on the heath with the adults and two young from one family using the cafe feeders.

Day 13, Thursday was a coffee, bap and Telegraph run up to QECP in very wet weather; and subequently prevented from getting back to the car by one heavy downpour for three quarters of an hour!! Luckily, this was enough of a delay to pick up a timely 'Phalarope spp at Pulborough' tweet from AA, followed half an hour later by ARK's confirmation of Red-necked, a site tick for me and possibly a new bird for the reserve. Arrived within the hour where a variety of scopes were offered for better, but still very distant views. DW's big Kowa and a visitors Swaro ATX both helped immeasurably. Thanks to you both; and volunteer Graham for initial looks. Later LGRE was a surprise visitor to the reserve.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Getting tough already..

It was the very modest aim here for 30DWiJ to ensure a post on or pertaining to each day of the month with a few pictures and hopefully no repetition of species. And with any number of plants and insects it really shouldn't be a problem; but the fact is it's quite a task to find things of interest especially animals or plants which might be deemed 'photogenic'. There are a number of regularly occurring species which should pop up here before the month is out - various dragonflies, some moths from the trap, the Chichester Peregrines, a couple more butterflies. But with the wet weather set to last, Day 10 proved to be almost too much. Fifty or more each of Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet were too far and too dull for the little m43 camera. One Fox cub on show from the family is probably a reason why there wasn't a single chick of any species on south scrape other than Canada Goose.

The birding highlights were 100+ Swift forced down by the rain, a male Blackcap feeding two young and the female Sprawk bringing a meal in; presumably its nest is very close to last year's. Oh, and its good to see the harbour based Shelducklings continue to survive with no losses.

So, this Cormorant was one of twenty toughing out the rain and catching forty winks and the caterpillar of micro-moth Depressaria daucella was one of many on Hemlock Water Dropwort. Anything else of note escaped me.

Monday, 10 June 2019

And on the ninth day...

A Sparrowhawk with prey scattered the local feral doves over the pond. The only other thing of interest was a Wool Carder bee on Snapdragons (below), unexpected here and first for the year in the garden on along with a male Leafcutter (also below), Buff/White-tailed and a Lasioglossum. A very tailless juvenile Blackbird (probably from the nest two doors away) was flushed out from behind the Peony pot before struggling on to the fence. Hopefully it'll gain some 'street smarts' soon!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

30DWiJ - 8. A 'marvellous' day..

The unseasonable weather (or, in these days of climate change maybe not so) with strong winds and rain ensured an early waking with this character sat out on the shed roof wondering where its next meal is coming from.

A quick and uneventful drive through to Blashford with just a few Buzzards en route. Some seriously heavy but thankfully brief showers tested out the new carpark surface; it didn't exactly pass with flying colours as it flooded up pretty quick into the large hollows! Checked with  JD/JG re. locations for Bee Orchids - and eight or so, some gone over already, in one of the usual spots.

Moth wise this Small Magpie was in a hide and, unsurprisingly after such a wet and windy night, the trap held little although Light Brocade was nice and Scarce Merveille du Jour is always good to see; I don't recal ever seeing it anywhere but here.

The wet weather forced down 150 Swifts and 500+ martins, mostly Sand. Distant Hobby and Red Kite plus a low flying cream-crowned Marsh Harrier which scattered all the nesting gulls and was chased off to the west were the best of the birdlife

Friday, 7 June 2019

Thirty days wild - an interlude.

Not by choice but enforced by wind and rain and probably the first housebound day for sometime; but it at least provides an opportunity to catch up on the last three days.

Tuesday's lap of the pond saw a couple of dozen hawking Sand Martins and less than ten each of House Martins and Swifts, just a single butterfly, a cowering Small Copper hunkered down out of the wind, and a very docile male Pantaloon Bee. Someone/thing had beaten a path to the usual stand of Common Spotted Orchids (below) which saved me getting wet feet in the still dewy grass. The most interesting sight was a 'web tent' on a small patch of gorse which I discovered was the work of gorse spider mite. This is another biological control agent introduced to the US, Hawaii and New Zealand.

Later after lunch at QECP there were some more CSOs in the usual locations but none along the roadside. There were still lekking longhorn moths around the pond and the hoped for NfY Figwort Sawfly was eventually located. Most other insects were hard to find so it was nice to finally catch up with a 'live' mammal for the month (with five species of roadkill only so far!!) - a fine looking female Roe Deer tucked up against the hedge line and then bolting through the poppy strewn crop field before eyeing me up  and then melting away into the trees.

Wednesday's duty at Pulborough started late but meant I had a good few visitors to myself plus 'insect time'. The rather attractive hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum was first of the summer as was the less obvious Eristalis horticola later on umbellifers. Four individual Nightingales were calling or singing and it was nice to see two Redshank chicks with their parents although attendant crows don't bide well for their futures. Fingers crossed.

The main pool is drying fast and there is little action although two sparring male Marsh Harriers high and to the west and later an adult female hunting the Westmead ditch must be a good indication of breeding in the valley now or at least in the very near future. Black Pond is drying also and was devoid of odonata but one of the Spotted Flycatchers in Black Wood was active but played hard-to-get.

Thursday saw a few chores before a light lunch at Sustainability (very nice vegan caulifower soup!). During the sunnier spells silent Buzzards were overhead whilst on the tiny pond a very young brood of Moorhen, just a day or two, scattered at my approach. One particular patch of hedgerow was alive with bees including B.vestalis. Sadly a Barn Owl corpse was on the southbound A3 on the way home.

The strong breeze wasn't conducive to a coastal visit but a quick stop at Hayling showed a reasonable number of Common Terns amongst the BHGs on the tidal tern raft. Sadly, the north facing viewing slope has become heavily overgrown, so no chance of the first Bee Orchid here and only the very tiniest head of Viper's Bugloss. The very sheltered 'informal' path had the first Large Skipper of the year.

Finally, after planting some flowers in the gap left by the gone-over mimulas, a calling BHG alerted to a soaring Peregrine overhead, not rare these days but still very uncommon over the garden.

The nodding oxeye bends before the wind,
The woodbine quakes lest boys their flowers should find,
And prickly dogrose spite of its array
Can't dare the blossom-seeking hand away,
While thistles wear their heavy knobs of bloom
Proud as a warhorse wears its haughty plume,
And by the roadside danger's self defy;
On commons where pined sheep and oxen lie
In ruddy pomp and ever thronging mood
It stands and spreads like danger in a wood,
And in the village street where meanest weeds
Can't stand untouched to fill their husks with seeds,
The haughty thistle oer all danger towers,
In every place the very wasp of flowers.

John Clare

Monday, 3 June 2019


(Brown Argus, Ruby-tailed Wasp and Cut-leaved Cranesbill)

A shopping trip to Chichester produced both adult Peregrines, silently soaring overhead and later some Swift activity from above the tea terrace. The Ravens were silent so presumably departed with the family to pastures new.

At Arundel the highlight easily was catching up with B+RR for the first time in years. A Hobby was 'going supersonic' up river and today's background soundtrack was the continuous high-pitched cackle of .... you've guessed it... two Cackling Geese!! A female Tufted Duck was marshalling its infants and scolding me from the ditch just behind the bee hotel where several Ruby-tailed Wasps were 'prospecting'. Little else here and a brief look at the new fenceline adjacent to the riverbank produced just this Brown Argus.

It's that time again..

... 30 Days Wild in June

Day 1
Maybe not the most wildlife full of days to kick off with so, invisible singing Reed Warblers, Sedge Warbler and Firecrest in a 20 minute stop at WWT, where a Grey Wagtail was teetering along the water's edge. A little later at the Rabbit, over breakfast with family, another singing Firecrest plus Wren, Reed Bunting and several overhead Buzzards.

Stopping at Stansted for lunch produced yet another Firecrest and the day wound up with Sphaerophoria spp and Syritta pipiens in the garden plus a leafcutter bee, a possible Anthophora quadrimaculata, an Osmia spp (possibly leaiana, below) and the odd bumblebee.

Day 2
Started with a moth trap with typically thin pickings, 23 moths of ten species with L-album Wainscot (below) the best and Green Carpet (below) the best camouflaged on some painted board panelling.

A little later at Titchfield it was nice to be invited to go through their trap by DW although AR had already been through it. Nothing special but all different to my catch barring Heart and Dart. Some Straw Dots were kicked up on the reserve and Abalonia geoffrella was sat on a leaf.

The now-flowering Hemlock Water Dropwort was attracting some insects but mostly Honeybees. Interestingly, Tropidia scita was the only hover taking advantage of Yellow Iris alongside the usual five Bumblebee species. Amongst 21 hover spp today Volucella pellucens, Riponennsia splendens and Anasimyia lineata were new for the year with the latter in pretty much the same few square metres as most years!!

Birdwise, good to see the harbour Shelducklings surviving.

Crab Spider with lunch

Friday, 31 May 2019

A local amble on a sunny day..

Little to record, with diptera Urophora quadrifasciata (a fruit fly) and Zophomyia temula (a tachinid) the best of the first hour. The former was introduced to many US states thirty years ago as a 'biological agent' to combat knapweed. Still plenty of Cephus spp (pygmaeus? - a tyoe of wheat stem borer sawfly) on buttercups plus the odd Celypha lacunana, a micro-moth. Other than a chat with Kate and later a SDW through-hiker on his way to Winchester, there was nothing else of note with just the background songs of 4+ Firecrests over a coffee.

On the other side of the road Five-spot Burnet was the most numerous 'thing with wings' with a supporting cast of Common Blues, Small Coppers, Brimstones, Small Heaths and a single Grizzled Skipper. Various grass loving micro moths were 'kicked up' along with Silver-ground carpet and the odd Cinnabar.

Sat on the stile by the Oxenbourne access gate with the first Sparrowhawk for many weeks soaring overhead, singing Skylark, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat and Linnet plus at least eighty Med Gulls on the (now) very short sward adjacent to the sheep field.

 Later, a second Sparrowhawk was stirring up the local feral pigeons beyond the garden.

(Five-spot Burnet,  Grizzled Skipper,  temporary cafe/classroom and Urophora quadrifasciata)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The keeper of secrets and God's messenger.....

..... the Raven.


Nice to catch up with Mark and Pat after a couple of years over a coffee on the terrace and earlier to meet the new H&TG for Saturday, Andy whose 'home patch' covers Worthing and Cissbury -

On the reserve five Hobbies were on show with 2-3 each of Kestrel and Buzzard plus a single Red Kite all airborne together. Another family of Egyptian Geese (five young) were obvious but little else; and just eighteen Black'wits on the north brooks - presumably birds that didn't fancy the schlep to Iceland!

The dead wood by the feeders attracted a big queen Hornet looking for pulp and the vegetation around here and the play area was most productive for hovers.

A chunky looking female Adder slipped away from its sunning spot adjacent to the Grass Snake info board (!!) as I disturbed it walking by.

A few Small Heaths were the first of the year as were Brown Silver Lines and the soldier fly Chloromyia formosa.


In Chichester it was nice to see many bumblebees of five species, pretty much all on Nepeta, and featuring good numbers of B.vestalis; but sad that there was almost nil supporting cast from hovers other than a single

At least four Ravens were flying around and constantly calling, audible out on West Street and, for me, more incongruous here than the Peregrines, the female of which perched up above the nest box calling whilst the male plucked a small passerine nearby before dropping the meal off for her to feed to the chicks; he departed immediately.

Overhead maybe ten screaming Swifts.


The Daily Fail and co were predicting 'hotter than Ibiza' for the days ahead but today was chilly enough for a neck buff and waterproof coat and later the central heating was fired up for a couple of hours!

Whilst the Hemlock Water Dropwort is rocketing up and flowering there wasn't ANY obvious invertebrate life but the path side clearance of HWD at least allowed a couple of Southern Marsh Orchids to be accessible; elsewhere 80 or more included some 'Leopard' variety according to RC. The Broad-leaved Helleborine is peeking through now.

Lots of Ragged Robin and Yellow Flag were the standout colours today