Friday, 19 December 2014

sanderling (Calidris alba L.) at Southsea Castle - including a ringed individual

record shot of ringed sanderling
22.12.14 The record of the ringed sanderling B6WWWW has been submitted to BTO

03.01.15 I received confirmation that the sanderling was ringed by Peter Potts of the Farlington Ringing Group, on 03.10.11. Over the intervening years, it has been recorded between August and March mainly from sites on Hayling Island, with an occasional sighting on the IOW and Gosport. First reported at Southsea Castle on 29.11.14 it has been seen again on the sea defences up to and including 04.01.15.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A curious fellow

During the course of a successful late afternoon dash to Cuckoo's Corner on the River Adur, West Sussex to see the tundra bean goose (Anser fabilis) my attention was drawn to some wide ripples mid flow, the cause of which turned out to be a harbour seal (Phoca vitulina).

The seal's curiousity matched our own, and as we moved closer to the bank side, to capture some photos - it proceeded to climb out of the water to check us out for the briefest of moments.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Not a Southsea Castle purple sandpiper!

Quite possibly the most photographed knot (Calidris canutus) of the year? This confiding bird was first reported at Southsea Castle on the 1st December and thereafter until the 7th December. Various reports had it loosely associating with the winter flock of purple sandpiper (Calidris maritama) - numbering up to 15 individuals - over the same period. It was also reported to be regularly feeding in the companionship of a sanderling (Calidris alba).

When we arrived on Sunday afternoon in grey winter light, the knot and sanderling were feeding together on the foreshore revetments - the latter was less confiding and flew on past, but the knot continued to forage, passing by me down to a couple of metres.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum L.) and a rosy yawn

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

A very exciting and unexpected lifer from a weekend on the Lizard, with several individuals seen around the village. These records shots were taken of one of two individuals seen nectaring along the garden wall of the cottage overlooking Bass Point.

A second lifer, somewhat overdue, came with a brief and admittedly underwhelming view of a juvenile rose coloured starling (Sturnus roseus L.), aptly described on the day as a "rosy yawn"

Sunday, 17 August 2014

St Wilfrid's Chapel, Church Norton

Dedicated in 1982 to Reginald Charles Chaplin a local naturalist, this beautiful stained glass window situated in the west wall of St Wifrid's Chapel, Church Norton, captures some wildlife highlights of Selsey Bill in stunning glory.

The window is signed by Michael Farrar Bell.

St Wilfrid's is the remnant of a 13th Century church called St Peter's and it was originally the chancel of the earlier building. For more information on the church and its other stained glass windows, have a look at:

Saturday, 9 August 2014

On / Off transect Comp 1 & 2 Portsdown Hill

I have just completed, what may well be my last butterfly transect of this year on Portsdown Hill. My circumstances have changed and I have taken up full time employment in West Sussex - this will considerably compromise my flexibility to head to the hill in good conditions to carry out the transect.

I have learnt a lot undertaking the transect, it has honed my butterfly identification skills, introduced me to new species - and stimulated a greater understanding of butterfly ecology, their food plants and flight times. It has also extended this interest to day-flying moths - and no doubt in the near future I will be turning to the dark side as well.

In conjunction with volunteering with Portsdown Hill Conservation Volunteers, undertaking the transect has made me take a much closer and critical appreciation of chalk grassland; helped develop a wider vocabulary of botanical ID skills; and let's be honest - turned what was an aside to birdwatching into a passion in its own right.

This afternoon I was chuffed to add clouded yellow (Colius croceus) in at # 26 of the total spp. recorded on transect across Compartment 1 & 2, so far this year. A single (perhaps 2?) clouded yellow zooming along the bottom path, giving me no opportunity for photographs.

Post transect I went off piste .. and managed to catch a quick record shot a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - bringing my compartment total to 27.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) Portsdown Hill, Compartment 1

Three small copper were recorded in Compartment 1 on 29th July 2014 (week 18 transect) - bringing the current butterfly spp total to 25 recorded spp across Comp 1 & 2 this year.

Although having returned from a weekend in Dorset - I was gripped to see a report of Queen of Spain
fritillary (Issoria lathonia) seen below Fort Southwick on the 26th July 2014, the record reported on:

Today, I caught up with John Goodspeed - who runs the website, and he knows the reporter and was satisfied with their account of the species. This is a very exciting record - and it will certainly keep me on my toes for the next couple of visits.

Not a Queen of Spain fritillary - small copper
recorded 29th July 2014

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

blues and brown blues Portsdown Hill Compartment 1

I was almost / I was (?) caught out this morning, undertaking the transect in Compartments 1 and 2 when a new butterfly species appeared on the wing.

Expecting small blue (Cupido minimus) - as per the last transect - I watched as a small flashing silver blue / brown butterfly launched an airborne assault on a passing common blue (Polyommatus coridon) - plucky small blue - I thought. And then it landed, and I stalled as the underwing was completely wrong - resembling superficially at best a small female common blue?

Hasty photographs were taken and I consulted Richard Lewington, (2003) "Pocket Guide to the butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland", British Wildlife Publishing.

".. specimens are best confirmed from the underside, where the lack of a spot in the cell of the forewing, near the body, and the almost vertical twin spots on the top edge of the hindwing are conclusive." (Lewington, R. 2003)

I found that the noticeable lack of spot on the forewing was very obvious - but the almost vertical twin spots on the hindwing, were very subjective in the photo given the angle of the wings at rest. Still I was pretty sure that I had now successfully recorded brown argus (Aricia agestis).

A second similar individual was also seen, and small blue were also seen in flight alongside them.

The record was later confirmed when I submitted the photo to scrutiny on the "Butterfly Conservation in Hampshire" FB page.

This record is the 24th butterfly species that I have recorded in Compartments 1 and 2 so far in 2014, and the 25th (possibly 26th) that I have recorded on the whole of the hill this year.

brown argus

small blue

brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Robin's pincushion gall -  gall on rose spp
produced by Diplolepis rosae
Compartment 2

Monday, 21 July 2014

Shatterford and Denny Wood June / July 2014

Several visits to Shatterford since the start of June have provided opportunity for some interesting natural observations.

redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) ad + juv;
great raft spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus)
Records from 4th June 2014

satin beauty (Deileptenia ribeata);
emperor moth caterpillar (Saturnia pavonia);
fox moth (Macrothylacia rubi);
Records from 14th June 2014

marsh frog (Pelophylax C.f. ridibundus);
Record from 11th July 2014

silver studded blues (Plebeius argus);
Records from 21st July 2014

emerald damselfy (Lestes sponsa);
grayling (Hipparcia semele);
common darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
keeled skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens);
silver studded blue (Plebeius argus);
Records from 21st July 2014

Friday, 18 July 2014

Alice Holt and Thursley Common

Out of county trip today, saw David and I heading for the Surrey heathlands in search of Lepidoptera and Odanata.

At Goose Green, Alice Holt, we watched purple emperor (Apatura iris) - with one male atop a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa)- tussling a second male on the wing; and purple hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) - both species lifers for me.

Also flying ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus), peacock (Inachis io), meadow brown (Manilio jurtina), large skipper (Ochlodes venata), marbled white (Melanargia galathea), gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonis) and silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia).

Odanata interest was provided by brown hawker (Aeshna grandis) and southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea).

A goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) overhead was a complete bonus!

His Royal Highness (record shot)

silver-washed fritillary

At Moats Pond, Thursley Common in the afternoon - we counted 14 species of Odanata from pond-side and boardwalks - including two more lifers for me: black darter (Sympetrum danae) and downy emerald (Cordulia aenea).

downy emerald

black darter

small red damselfy
(Ceriagrion tenellum)

very worn out fem.
keeled skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

mid July update from Portsdown Hill and elsewhere

Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) were recorded on the transect for the first time this year on 2nd July (Week 14) with six individuals successfully ID'd along with four small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and a further six small/Essex. The transect also recorded two dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja).

Along with the butterflies - a great green bush cricket (Tettigonia viridissima) was also noted:

great green bush cricket - 2nd July

A quick walk on the hill on the 5th July, in less than suitable conditions (heavily overcast, with strong cool winds) - still managed to produce our first sighting of the year for chalk hill blue (Polyommatus coridon) a very wind blown male - persistently flighty - whilst I tried to grab a record shot. Essex skipper also provided a brief opportunity to get off some photos.

Also seen yellow shell moth (Camptogramma bilineata).

chalk hill blue - record shot 5th July
yellow shell 5th July
Essex skipper 5th July

Returning to undertake the weekly transect on the 9th July (Week 15) two chalk hill blue males were recorded along with 13 other species of butterfly.

chalk hill blues 9th July

marbled white (Melanargia galathea)
9th July

The Week 16 transect undertaken on 15th July - and saw the return on the wing of both small blue (Cupido minimus) - last recorded 20th June; and common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - last recorded 25th June. Strongly suggesting that a second brood had occurred with both species.

In total 20 butterfly species were recorded on the wing.

small skipper 15th July

Following the transect a quick afternoon's visit to Hook Heath on the north of Portsdown Hill was rewarded with sightings of only one of the three target species - silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia); failing to connect with white admiral (Limenitis camilla) and purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus).

silver-washed fritillary Hook Heath 15th July