Saturday, 22 August 2009

A rare autumn passage migrant at Titchfield Haven 22nd August 2009

An adult aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola generated a whole lot of excitement early this morning for both bird-ringers and paying public alike, when it was ringed and released at Titchfield Haven N.N.R. The aquatic warbler whilst in passing resembles the sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus stands out from the latter due to its bright cream-coloured central crown-stripe and it's streaked back, rump and upper tail-coverts. The bird was aged as an adult because of its streaked underparts. This rare autumn passage migrant was last recorded in Hampshire in September 2007 when a 1st yr bird was ringed and released - again at Titchfield Haven.

This migrant passes through the South of England in the autumn en-route from it's breeding grounds in Eastern Europe to West Africa where it will over-winter.

The aqautic warbler is a SPEC 1 species with Unfavourable conservation concern (global concern) and also a RED List and UK BAP priority species.

For the author the bird was both a Life list and Hampshire bird tick.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Preening and bathing birds at Titchfield Haven 16th August 2009

At Titchfield Haven we caught up again with this years juv Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta resting and preening in front of the Meon Shore Hide.

Common Terns Sterna Hirundo were also in abundance including a large number of juvs like the bathing bird below:

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Clay Hill Nr Burley, New Forest

A summer (partial) reunion of part-time FdSc W&CM'ers saw us in the New Forest, just North of Burley for some tree and plant ID action and mutual support with tackling Francis Rose's The Wild Flower Key. Success using this key was limited and other authors were found to be more accessible on the day, Karl's field skills helped to secure many of the flower and tree species without resort to guides.
Cross leaved Heather Erica tetralix
Marsh St John's Wort Hypericum elodes
Hypericum elodes detail
Bog Asphodel Narthesium ossifragum
Narthesium ossifragum detail

Marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris
A couple of fungi also caught our eye along the way:
Penny Bun Boletus edulis

Orange birch bolete Leccinum versipelle
All photo's except Hydrocotle vulgaris and Narthesium ossifragum detail courtesy of Chuck Eccleston.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Chanctonbury Ring to Cissbury Ring and environs W. Sussex 9th August 2009

We returned to West Sussex for our second attempt to walk the chalkdowns between the two iron age hill-forts Chanctonbury and Cissbury Rings. This time the weather remained on our side.
The paths between Chanctonbury and Cissbury Rings have long swathes of greater willowherd Epilobium hirsutum most of which have gone over to seed, although some of the plants along the South Downs Way were seen to be still in flower.
Epilobium hirsutum in seed (inset) and in flower (below)

A flowering mint plant Mentha sp. caught our eye for the abundance of invertebrates that it attracted including bright metallic green flies, butterflies, solitary bees and other species such as the unidentified insect above.

comma butterfly Polygonum c-album

mint moth Pyrausta aurata

Flax sp. believed to be Linaceae bienne

Birds of note on the day were up to five buzzards Buteo buteo, three kestrel Falco tinnunculus, yellowhammer Emberiza cintrinella, large flocks of greenfinch Carduelis chloris, a single corn bunting Miliaria calandra, common whitethroat Sylvia communis and the biggest surprise of the day a solitary fem. marsh harrier Circus aeruginosis hawking over the wheat fields and drawing much attention from the local flocks of corvidae.

Chanctonbury Hill also features a dewpond managed by the National Trust on a SSSI site. Built in 1870 it was restored 100 years later by the Society of Sussex Downsman.

Chanctonbury Hill Dewpond

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Very scarce Hampshire passage migrant; Farlington Marshes

First reported yesterday, I caught up with this very scarce Hampshire passage migrant at Farlington Marshes this evening unfortunately the digi-scoped photos turned out to be of very poor quality but hopefully the digi-scoped video at least captures the bird / imagination.

The spotted crake Porzana porzana is a member of the Rallidae family - like the moorhen Gallinula chloropus and water rail Rallus aquaticus filmed at Titchfield Haven recently. The Hampshire Bird Report 2007 indicates that only five of these birds were recorded on passage in Hampshire in 2007 all birds being seen at FM.

For more information on the national status of the spotted crake goto:
Also of note on the lagoon at FM between 18:15 and 19:15 - 2 common sandpipers Actitus hypoleucos, a single green sandpiper Tringa ochropus and two greenshank Tringa nebularia - water rail also showed well (1 ad and 1 juv.) and med. gulls Larus melanocephalus were present. 5 + bearded reedlings Panurus biamicus and 2 - 3 reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus provided additional value showing and feeding within the reed-bed edges. A little stint Calidris minuta was reported on The Deeps but not tried for.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Blashford Lakes Volunteering

Pulling Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera along the banks of the Dockens Water at Blashford Lakes Wildlife Reserve (Nr. Ringwood, Hampshire) produced an unexpected and much needed highlight when a grass snake Natrix natrix was uncovered beneath the damp tangle of ferns and bramble - this individual was carefully replaced behind the advancing line of the volunteers where it quickly recoiled and settled.
Natrix natrix For more information on this species see
The path edges around the reserve are brightened by the displays of St John's Wort sp. Hypericum sp.
Hypericum sp.
Several Buddleia Buddlleja davidii or "butterfly bush" are growing around the visitor centre attracting a large number of butterflies including the peacock Inachis io, painted lady Vanessa cardui, red admiral Vanessa atlanta, brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni, large white Pieris brassicae, small white Pieris rapae and comma polygonum c-album. Speckled wood Parage argeria, small heath Coenonympha pamphilus and gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus were also noted around the site.
Inachis io (top) Vanessa cardui (bottom) feeding on Buddleja davidii

Parage aegeria on common nettle Urtica dioica

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Cissbury Ring, West Sussex

If the weather had held out, the planned trip to Cissbury Ring, Nr. Worthing, West Sussex, would not only have involved a turn around the second largest Iron Age hill-fort in Britain, (see ) also a reasonable amount of time spent keying out and identifying chalkdown flora via Francis Rose. As it turned out the torrential rain from the West hit us shortly after mid-day when we had just keyed out the flower below to the "figwort family" - the identitity of the Eyebright Euphrasia nemorosa - only being fully realised on return to home when a quick cheat using the pictorial guide to Wildflowers of Britain and Ireland by Rae Spencer Jones and Sarah Cuttle helped to nail the plant in question (at least we hope it does).

Euphrasia nemorosa

Outer bank of Cissbury Ring and evidence of flint mine escavation (the scrubbed over hollows to the right)

Quercus sp. centre, low and spreading, indicating growth in an open landscape
Parasol mushroom Macrolepiota procera
Macrolepiotra procera
English Longhorn cattle used by National Trust for grazing on site