As July turned to August, it felt as if the migration was finally in full swing. Though a wander along the Titchfield canal path (something I intend to do more often now) on 25th yielded very few birds, a quick seawatch was more successful with a number of gannets, 2 whimbrel, 2 little terns, a flock of 9 common scoter and a little gull. The day did seem to be going well though with two new species for me on patch – raven and little gull.
Oystercatcher numbers on 30th July had risen to 65 (at least) and 40 turnstones were sheltering on the island in the river. Elsewhere in the scrapes 6 lovely summer plumage dunlin and a common sandpiper were lurking. There had been a few little ringed plovers during the week too. Lapwing and black-tailed godwit numbers are also increasing while the avocets and gulls continue to disperse. 30th July also yielded one final patch tick for the month – a kingfisher that briefly perched on a post in the South Scrape, before becoming the all too familiar blue flash and disappearing from view.
There was more about on Saturday (1st August), with a number of additional passage waders including a greenshank and knot. It looked promising, and hoped Sunday would be the same if not better. Sadly it was not to be. After a rather unfruitful wander along the canal path, we had an unsuccessful sea watch and then very few notable birds on the scrapes. There was, however, a yellow-eared terrapin… I wonder how that got there.
Some of my patch visits of late have become more of a nature visit, as opposed to simply a birding trip though birds still featured heavily. I suppose the reason for this slight change is joining other local birders (or should that be naturalists) who helpfully point out the occasional insect or plant. Most of my recent weekend birding has been with Dan Houghton and Alan Butler, two other Titchfield Haven patch birders. Although birding alone can be good, I’ve found having the company rather enjoyable. It’s nice to have people to talk to and to share the experience with!
I must admit I cannot remember every species I’ve been shown – something to work on in the future. Still, I’ve seen a number of hoverfly species (including the rather awesome hornet hoverfly), many other insects, and some plant species such as pinappleweed. The next step of course, is to improve my ID skills so that one day I too might be able to point things out. Remembering a camera is also a must and something I need to get back into the habit of. It’s a good job Dan always has his!
I also joined Dave Stevenson, another local birder, for a tour of Gosport and Fareham in search of butterflies and dragonflies. It was rather successful with most target species seen including white-lettered hairstreaks, white admirals and red-eyed damselflies. The butterflies in Botley Wood were showing particularly well, adding to the enjoyment of the day. A second day with Dave and also Dave Ryves, involved looking for damselflies in the New Forest. It too was successful with many new species for me including small red damselfly and white-legged damselfly. Photographing these insects all proved rather challenging but we tried!
I’ve also started moth trapping after being lent a trap by Dan. I’ve not caught a huge amount so far, but I think I’d struggle if I did catch much more at the moment! I’ve run the trap twice and caught a variety of species including large, lesser, least and broad-boarded yellow underwings, as well as a number of smaller moths including Blastobasis rebeli and rush veneer, a migrant species. Identifying these moths has certainly proved a challenge but thankfully there’s many helpful moth-ers out there to put me on the right track (especially Dan & Sean Foote)!
Although birds are definitely my main interest, it’s interesting to try something new and begin to diversify a bit. I’m really appreciating the help from more experienced birders and naturalists, especially at the moment as I attempt to increase my skills.