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2024 Hampshire & IOW Nature Notes Blog 

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North Harbour Portsmouth Sunday 23rd June 2024

Visited a site which I haven’t been to for many years and found that the area was becoming a good area for wildlife, especially around the boundaries of the old IBM buildings, with areas of Orchids and other wildflowers. There were many Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns, and, in the Elms, I got glimpses of the illusive White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly. Two were chasing, doing their territory dispute, and a lonesome male was just flying in and around some of the sprigs of Elm leaves. In the meadow where there was some Nettles there was some Peacock caterpillar’s feeding away, not very long before we see this beautiful butterfly on the wing again. Disappointingly though there was very little else, no Blues or Skippers which I would have associated with this type of meadow. Also there seems to be no access to the lake area now, which used to be a lovely walk where I discovered the Small Blue butterfly many years ago.

Oxenbourne Down Friday 21st June 2024

Another balmy day and the heat feels like Croatia, but without the butterfly species! On the downland today there were just 3 or 4 Adonis Blues, one Common Blue, Marbled Whites, are building up in numbers, and the Meadow Browns have gone mad, and the Small Heaths were still in evidence with just one or two female Brimstones still laying their eggs on Buckthorn on the slopes.























Alice Holt Forest Abbots Wood Enclosure Thursday 20th June 2024

Perfect weather today as a June high pressure drifts in and promises a good week of weather, however the Purple Emperor seems to be stuttering into emerging only so far being seen in Sussex at good old Knepp a few days ago. On the butterfly front there was very little to see with several White Admirals flitting around the Bramble patches in the main rides. Mostly Meadow Browns taking advantage of the weather and one Comma, and Red Admiral. Very poor for the third week of June. In the skies there were plenty of aircraft activity with several A380’s overflying the area and many light aircraft flying over from Farnborough and Red Kites circled the skies as well.


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It's Purple Emperor time again!

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This magnificent butterfly flies high in the tree-tops of well-wooded landscapes in central-southern England where it feeds on aphid honeydew and tree sap. The adults are extremely elusive and occur at low densities over large areas. The males occasionally descend to the ground, usually in mid-morning, where they probe for salts either from road surfaces or from animal dung. The Purple Emperor declined steadily during the twentieth century and is now restricted to some of the larger woods in southern England. There has been a recent slight re-expansion in some areas, Hampshire is a stronghold for this species, look for it in Havant Thicket, Whiteley Pastures, Botley Wood, Pamber Forest, Creech Wood, Ampfield Wood, Alice Holt Forest, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Bentley Wood, West Walk, West Wood, Crab Wood, Woods in and around Winchester, Micheldever Woods, Basing Wood, in the north of the county, Harewood Forest, Butterwood, and the woods that adjoin onto Berkshire in the north, and to the west with Wiltshire and to the East Surrey.

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Croatia 11th June-18th June 2024

If your wondering about why there hasn’t been much activity on the website then these notes will tell you that I have been away to Croatia for 7 days and the temperature was a balmy 28-32c constant and for me it was a little too hot, but it did bring about many butterflies and there is an eye watering list for you to peruse over. The most common butterfly was definitely the Cleopatra, which is an upmarket Brimstone, with lovely orange forewings, which looks as if a Orange Tip and a Brimstone got it on many centuries ago and produced the Cleopatra.

Other butterflies seen were common Wall Browns, which were seen throughout the walks in the mountains, and along the coastal paths. Others seen in singletons and in twos and threes were Mallow Skipper, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Speckled Wood, Spotted Fritillary, Hungarian Glider, Southern White Admiral, Scarce Swallowtail, which wasn’t scarce in the places seen! European Swallowtail, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Clouded Yellow, Great Sooty Satyr, which flew like a Swallowtail in the mountains. Also, Small Copper, Dusky Copper, Brown Argus, Geranium Bronze seen quite often in the towns where there were lots of Geraniums growing in window boxes. Also, Mazarine Blue, Small Whites, and finally the biggest butterfly the Two Tailed Pasha, a beautiful butterfly, which went like the clappers when you saw it.

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Isle of Wight mini field trip 6th June 2024


Perfect weather conditions today to be visiting one of the best butterflying sites Compton Chine and Mottiistone Down with Afton Down thrown in for good measure. The Glanville Fritillaries were very active having fights with Large Skippers who were the ‘new kids on the block’ as it were, and they were trying to oust the Fritillaries from their territories. Most of the male Glanville’s were faded but there were a few still in good order and we found several females as well which were newly hatched out.

Other species that were common were the Small Heath, and Common Blues. The Adonis blue like on the mainland seems to be a bit slow emerging this year, but the ones we did see were pristine. Small Copper and the odd Green Hairstreak amongst the ever growing total of Meadow Browns were the other species along with very tatty Dingy Skippers the odd Grizzled Skipper. Brown Arguses on Afton Down were pristine as their foodplant Rockrose looked splendid on the downland, along with Horseshoe Vetch and Kidney Vetch. Beautiful Orchids like the Bee Orchid were seen, and Pyramidal Orchids were common to see growing everywhere.

Stonechats kept us company on Compton Chine along with multitudes of Skylarks on Mottiistone and Afton Downs, and Buzzards hung in the air on the updrafts from the cliff face on the way round from Afton Down to Mottiistone, looking rather menacing and just looked odd for such a large bird. A great day out and I thank everyone for their company today.


My Locol patch of wildlife called Milford Common has a lot of young birds swimming around on the two lakes , Mallard ducklings and Swan Cygnets are now getting bigger as the days get longer. Mr Grey Heron is forever hanging around hoping for that eating opportunity where he will defineatly take a cynet or Mallard duckling or two given half a chance. This period of re-newal is fraut with danger and anybody who has been following the Springwatch programme with the Peregrine Falcons will know only too well that you have to be forever on your guard. The Reed Warblers are also nesting and are making a hell of a din as they chatter amoungst the reeds. They are safe from the infamous Cuckoo though as they dont ventue this far to find a nest nearest we have seen Cuckoos is Farlington Marshes across the estuary. On the butterfly front there is now a transition from the spring species to the summer species, and many of the spring species look as if they have finished, Orange Tips are gettig rarer and the Duke of Burgundy has now finished, unless anybody can correct me on this . Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells are also gone, but yesterday I saw a Holly Blue laying her eggs on my Buddleia Bush , which I have witnessed before, its quite amazing how many different plants they utilize for egg-laying despite their name!

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5 Spot Burnet Moth variations on Butser Hill 


Photographs by kind permission of Andy Smith

Butser Hill Private Field Trip Wednesday 29th May 2024 

It was looking dodgy in the carpark with a stiff wind and the clouds were rolling in but as we descended into the depths of the downland the wind abated for a time which helped enormously for butterfly and moth spotting. We saw up to (15) Duke of Burgundies and all these looked worse for wear, but the Grizzled Skippers were still emerging, and there were plenty of these and Dingy Skippers to see. Lovely Brown Arguses were seen with mating pairs but the biggest counts were of Small Heath countless on all the slopes walked. Other species of note were Green Hairstreaks, Common Blues, alas no Adonis Blues though. Moths were 5 Spotted Burnet moths, in various disguises.... Silver ‘Y’s , Burnet Companion’s, Mother Shipton moth, Speckled Yellows, and Yellow Shells.

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Butser Hill Saturday 25th May 2024

The hottest day of the year I suspect with the temperature rising in the afternoon to well to 25c. The species of butterflies and moths was quite impressive, and for once the Duke of Burgundy didn’t disappoint! On the western side of Butser there was one male and one female seen and the female was seen skulking in amongst the foliage, usual behaviour for the female of the species. On the Northern slope there were up to a dozen or more seen and on the valley floor a rare abb:Lecodes was seen, holding territory and it was in a good condition, so this wasn’t a pale tatty male it was a freshest male with pale spots on top of the wings. Up to 42 individuals were seen today which is easily the highest this season for this species. Other species of note were Green Hairstreak, Brown Argus, Small Copper Common and Small Blue, Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Large Skipper, moths were Ruby Tiger Moths, 5 spot Burnet Moths, Burnet Companions, Silver’y’s, Cinnabar Moths, and Common Carpets. I thought I may see an Emperor Moth, but I think they may well be on the way out. There were a lot of Skylark’s, Yellowhammers, Green Woodpeckers, Red Kites, Buzzards, but no Cuckoo.

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Old Winchester Hill Friday 24th May 2024

Another rather cloudy day with short intervals of warm sunshine, I really went to the site to see if I could find the Duke of Burgundy, and again I was unsuccessful. I may have been too late as other sites it seems to have emerged a lot earlier this year, so my thoughts about it not being here may be a bit hasty. Maybe in 2025 I will visit the site in the first two weeks of May and see if I am successful. I did manage to see a Brown Argus, and several Small Blues, but the Adonis Blue at this site is normally a week or so later than other sites. The Yew tree plantations on the hillsides look rather splendid, and the Elm trees are now in full leaf and it would be interesting to visit again during the WLH season to see if there are any flying around the tops of the trees.

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Meon Valley Thursday 23rd May 2024

The weather today was rather cloudy as I began looking around the site however in the first few minutes, I managed to find a freshly emerged Adonis Blue and he was cold as he didn’t fly away as I approached. He seemed to be alone, but the Common Blues are starting to emerge in numbers. Good counts of Small Heath, and the Silver Y and the Speckled Yellow moths were abundant, more than I can say for the Duke of Burgundy as I really struggled to find it. It wasn’t really until the sun shone that I had any chance really and then I only found two, a female which had been laying her eggs, and the fresh male I found the other day. 

Highlight of the day was sitting down on an Ant -hill eating my lunch and watching up to a dozen Green Hairstreaks flying and imbibing on the fruits of a Cotoneaster plant which are really a pest on chalk downland as they are very difficult to get rid off as they spread like wildfire and very difficult to eradicate.

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Martin Down Field Trip Sunday 19th May 2024

There was a certain amount of doom and gloom as we all stood in the carpark with no sun and warm coats and hats at the short trail. Not a good way to start a field trip but we did and hoping for a miracle! I was confidentially told that the sun would appear at around about 11:00, and sure enough it did, and then the site exploded with species and one of the targets were met. Plenty of Marsh Fritillaries were seen battling for territories and good amounts of other species like Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Common Blues, Holly Blues, Small Heaths, Green Hairstreaks, Small Copper, Common Blues, Brimstones, and Red Admirals. The Moths were not to be outdone, plenty of Silver Y moths, 5 Spot Burnet Moth, Cinnabar moths, Yellow Shells, Lackey moth caterpillars, Burnet Companions, Common Heath, and to top it off at least three Emperor Moths which attacked my camera bag which still had my Emperor Moth Lure still attached! Lots of lovely wildflowers with Orchids out in bloom and good birds as well with the Cuckoo singing in the distance lots of Skylarks, with other hedgerow birds like Yellowhammers, Stonechats, Whitethroats, and Corn Buntings to name a few. It was a great field trip and sorry to the those that went to Sillens lane but no doubt your list was just as good.

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Old Winchester Hill /Meon Valley Friday 17th May 2024

A disappointing trek around Old Winchester Hill looking for the Duke of Burgundy but it seemed rather illusive only seeing Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Green Hairstreak, Brimstones, Small Copper (female) laying eggs on sorrel and Red Admirals, with lots of Silver Y moths which should be the moth of the year if it carries on like this in numbers also seen were Common Carpet moths. Red Kites and Buzzards were also seen but no sight or sound of the cuckoo which 20 odd years ago would have been horrifying. It would seem the cuckoo is as rare as hen’s teeth these days, especially in and around the Meon Valley. We heard it several times in the New Forest, but today not a sign.

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Two male Pearl Bordered Fritillaries New

Wednesday 15th May Field trip New Forest Pignal Inclosure and Pig Bush Heathland

An excellent field trip to the New Forest where the sightings of fresh Pearl- Bordered Fritillaries were a joy to see and watch as they battled for territories and made hay whilst the sun shone in their forest world. There were over thirty seen, mainly males which were feeding on very few wildflowers in the rides. In fact, there were very few butterflies seen, these were just a few Speckled Woods, one Orange Tip a few Brimstones, and Silver’y’ moths and Common Carpet and lots of Brown Silver Line moths in the rides. Other flora and fauna seen were Newts in the large puddles created in the rides by the work being done by the Forestry re-surfacing some of the rides, also several Dragonflies, lots of Frog Tadpoles, which were probably being eaten by the large and menacing looking Raft Spider. In the afternoon on the heathland at Pig Bush the emperor Moth was seen flying frantically around my lure on my camera bag, along with male and female Common Heath Moths and Small Purple Barred Moth. Birds heard and seen were Stonechats, Cuckoo, Skylarks, and Redstarts.

Female Duke of Burgundy West Wood May 20
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Sunday 12th May Field Trip West Wood and Pitt Down 

West Wood Field Trip meeting today was rather warm walking around both West Wood and Pitt Down however we saw the Woodland Duke of Burgundy and many other species Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath, Holly Blue, Brimstones, Orange Tips, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Comma, Green Hairstreaks, Green Veined Whites, and Small White. Moths were very sparse with Common Carpets, lots of Silver Y moths and a Barred Umber Moth


Milton Allotments and West Walk Friday 10th May 2024


Visited my local patch this morning, which has not been mown now by the council for many months, so this seems to be paying off as I saw a male Orange Tip which is something of a rarety around this site. Also fresh Speckled Wood's , Green Veined Whites, Holly Blue and Small Whites. The Small Tortoiseshell seems to have disappeared now this is the only place now I can find it in reasonable numbers at the moment. Sheild Bugs were everywhere mating etc, and the wildflowers have gone mad. Unfortunaetly the Elm tree seems to have succumed to Dutch Elm Disease. I then went to West Walk near to Wickham and enjoyed the sunshine, and saw Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Crossbills feeding on Fir cones. Butterfly wise it was rarther sparse with just Brimstones, Speckled Woods and Small Whites, for company.

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Butser Hill Field Trip Sunday 5th May 2024 Weather Cloudy Misty then rain warm in sunny periods.

First Field trip of the season and it wasn’t going to be a good one, as the ever threat of rain was always on the horizon. It did warm up when the sun did shine but these periods were very few, and the species count consequently was very low. Four butterfly species and several moth species were identified. The butterfly species were Duke of Burgundy (4) Dingy Skipper (1) Grizzled Skipper (4) and Green Hairstreak (1). Moths were Silver ‘Y’ moth, Common Carpets, and unidentified moth at this time.

There has been a lot of scrub bashing and there has been a herd of cows bulldozing there way through a lot of the scrub which has opened some of the areas and should help many species especially the Duke of Burgundy

The dukes were very hard to find and when we did see one, they didn’t fly away as it was too gloomy and cold. Everything else was just a bonus and I suppose we were lucky in seeing what we did see. Highlight was hearing the Cuckoo and seeing it fly as well. I managed to get back to the carpark when the heavens opened.

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Butterflies are building in numbers very slowly, with Brimstones having the best counts in woods and on downland sites. Green Hairstreaks, Holly Blue and the Duke of Burgundy are coming on quite nicely. Peacocks are looking distinctly tired, and the Orange Tip as well, and I havent seen many Small Tortoiseshells, which doesnt bode well for the summer. Grizzled Skipper and the Pearl Bordered Fritillary have been seen over the past few days so the Pearl in Hampshire will be the one to look out for. Glanville Fritillary caterpillers are probably pupating as I speak and a few weeks of good weather and they will/should be on the wing along with Wall Brown, Dingy Skipper, Common and Small Blue. On the Moth front I keep seeing Common Carpet Moths, Muslin Moths, Spring Usher and the Silver 'Y' Moth has been noted as well.

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Thursday 25th April 2024 It was far better in the small periods of sunshine where again like yesterday only the Duke of Burgundy was seen. Today however there were up to (7) specimens seen including one female. They were not obvious they were there until the sun shone and became active where two males were having a territory dispute. The dukes were seen at 11:45 and through to 12:00 until about 12:30 when the sun disappeared again. Early signs are good but there were no individuals in the gorse strewn area at the top end of the down. Look at the female Duke of Burgundy top left compared to the male bottom right their patterns on the tops of their wings are totally different, something to remember when out  and about.

Male Orange Tip Noar Hill
male duke of burgundy at rest Noar Hill
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Early Purple Orchid Noar Hill April 2024.JPG

Noar Hill Saturday 20th April 2024

Arrived at Noar Hill today with the intention to seeing the Duke of Burgundy, it was rather cool to start with and a very keen wind picked up, as I started to wander around the site with myself for company. After an hour there were a few people around all looking for the same thing, and it was 11:20 with the temperature at a lofty 11c when two males appeared in one of the flint pits. They weren’t very active, in pristine condition and certainly weren’t fighting each other for territories. Other butterflies seen were several Orange Tips, Peacocks, Holly Blues, Green Veined White, Red Admiral, Comma, Brimstones, and Small White. There are some lovely early Purple Orchids and the Cowslips all looked splendid. In the large puddles where horses had been ridden the elusive fairy shrimp was found. 

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The Duke of Burgundy has been spotted over the last couple of days at Noar Hill although sightings will be hindered by the cool wet and windy weather and any good emergence will be quite slow, and at other sites in Hampshire at the moment. Also the Green Hairstreak , Clouded Yellow , Glanville fritillary caterpillars have been spotted on the Isle of Wight, along with a Striped Hawk Moth, and Hummingbird Hawk Moth.

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Noar Hill/Broxhead Common Friday 12th April 2024

A lovely warm day to go and visit Noar Hill in the hope the Duke of Burgundy maybe on the wing. If it was I didn’t see it as one or two flying on this site is like looking for a needle in a haystack. However the weather brought out at least 6 species my first Orange Tips and saw at least 6 of these all males, several Speckled Woods, Commas, good numbers of Peacocks and Brimstones both males and females. Two male Holly blues were interacting as well which was good to see, showing their upper and lower wings when settled for a brief time. On to Broxhead Common and the Emperor Moth ‘lure’ was performing very well, as in a short space of about 5 minutes I had at least half a dozen males flying frantically around me. Several posed nicely on the heather, but there wasn’t much else here other than a few Brimstones and Peacocks.

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Milton Lock Foreshore Monday 1st April 2024

I went out for the Small Tortoiseshell today, and looked in all the usual places, and the Nettle is growing in profusion, and I was lucky to see one…just one. This butterfly was so common in the 70’s and 80’s but alas no longer. Never thought I would have to go out looking for it! One Speckled Wood also joined the list but not much else except a couple of lovely Curlews feeding along the foreshore. The closest I’ve had the privilege to see these lovely birds.

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Saturday 30th March 2024 Portsdown Hill

Hurrah for a warm and sunny day! Visited part of my old transect route on Portsdown Hill today. Saw over 50+ Brimstones, 20+Peacocks, Small Whites and half a dozen Speckled Woods. No Small Tortoiseshells which will probably be like Hens teeth this season judging by the amount seen in 2023. In the air there were plenty of Buzzards, Kestrels, and a few Red Kites. Stonechats and Skylarks were very prominent with their singing walking around today.

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Milton Lock LNR and Portsdown Hill Thursday 21st March 2024

Another odd day when the sun shone and it was insanely mild, and there were good numbers of invertebrates around especially bees and hoverflies. On the butterfly front there were a couple of Commas, and Peacocks, and an early Speckled Wood. In the afternoon the sun disappeared and so did the butterflies on Portsdown Hill, with just a couple of Peacocks to be seen, surprisingly no Brimstones were seen on either site, which is most unusual. On the Bird of prey front there were Kestrels, Buzzards, and Red Kites. Unfortunately the Peregrines didn’t show. There were lovely singing Skylarks on top of the hill, and Great Tits giving it their best voice.



Butterflies and moths are on the March! over (10)  Brimstones  (all males) seen on a journey between Portsmouth and Stansted House (West Sussex) and the odd Peacock. It was the warmest day of the year so it was the best time to see them. Several Speckled Woods and Commas were also seen in and around Hampshire as well. 


Cornwall Holiday & Romsey Abbey Monday 18th March 2024

Another dim and cool day with partial sunshine, visiting Romsey as I had a talk on the Purple Emperor Butterfly in the evening. In the meantime I visited the Abbey to have a look at the elusive Peregrine Falcons which have made home there. I wasn’t disappointed as the male and female were seen. The Male was seen flying around in circles above the tower and off into the distance where he was probably looking for food. There are plenty of pigeons in and around the site, although the birds are constantly pestered by Rooks from the Rookery nearby. The female was calling from the tower and looking skywards to see where her partner was. He was soon joined by the female and they went off together on a hunt I assume. The Peregrines at Winchester haven’t layed eggs yet so I don’t suppose these have either, although I don’t think these have been here very long.


On the butterfly and moth front it’s been very dismal, probably the worst for sightings by me for a long time, although other sightings have come in like good amounts of Red Admirals, Commas, and Peacocks, with reports of moths as well caught in people’s moth traps.


I haven’t put anything up on the blog for a while as I have been to Cornwall for a short break, and there weren’t any butterflies down there either! There were Dolphins in St Ives Harbour which were a treat to see early one morning. Also I saw hunting Peregrine Falcons, White-Tailed Sea Eagle, Choughs, Fulmars, and Kittiwakes, lots of Turnstones in the harbour, which were extremely tame. Rock Pipits were very tame as well in the harbour, but that cannot be said for the huge Herring and Black backed Gulls all waiting to be fed or steal someone’s Pasty or Fish and Chips along the seafront of St Ives!

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Titchfield Haven Monday 19th February 2024

Another visit to see the Spoonbills of which there were two of them, not doing very much, but it would seem they feed mainly at night so they were trying to get some rest, however with up to three Marsh Harriers in the area there was a lot of noise mainly from the Black-Headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls. Plenty of other birds to see along the shore line but I do like a Shoveller!

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Titchfield Haven/Canal Friday 16th February 2024

A visit to Titchfield Haven today in sunny weather, although there always seemed to be the threat of wet weather on the horizon. Very wet and muddy underfoot, in fact part of the footpath was closed off so I had to turn around. In fact this was a good omen as I had passed the site of the Glossy Ibis and got a good look at them feeding in the River Meon floodplain. There were at least three of them and they looked quite at home there. In the craggy trees of mossy lined Oaks there were lots of Blue, Great, and Long Tailed Tits flying in and out of the branches. No butterflies today as it wasn’t that warm, but the bird life was great, and I was glad to get my quarry.



Milton Thursday 15th February 2024

Just out for a short walk out in the sunshine and it’s the warmest day of the year, and out came the butterflies. Two male Brimstones were seen along a footpath leading up to Milton Road in Portsmouth. Both males briefly interacted, but went their separate ways. They had probably been hibernating in some Ivy which covers a lot of the fencing along the path. In the main road a Red Admiral was seen flying about and briefly settled on a van parked by the side of the road. In Southampton a very very early Speckled Wood was seen by Nic Burns.

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West Meon Sunday 11th February 2024

Another good day well the afternoon anyway, as the rain seems to be with us again after a blank few weeks. Looking around West Meon today normally turns up several butterflies but today I drew a blank on the downland. The raptors were in good numbers with Red Kites spiralling and locking talons as they drift upwards on the thermals. Other birds seen today were several Dabchicks or Little Grebes, and these are delightful birds with their distinctive calls on the ‘Meon Fly Fishing’ Lake. Wildflowers are very slow at the moment good showing of Snowdrops everywhere, but the Primroses are lagging behind.

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Farlington Marshes Thursday 1st February 2024

A perfect day with lots of winter sunshine and no wind, which is always a bonus in anybody’s book. Decided to visit Farlington Marshes again for the elusive Bearded Tits and in the first hour it looked like there wasn’t going to be any showing, although several people had said they had seen them. In the meantime around mid-day I was entertained by multitudes of Lapwings flying in and around the site. There were lots of Canada Geese and Brent Geese on the lake. There were plenty of ducks and waders but they were a long way off. Suddenly here were some familiar twittering amongst the reeds and sure enough a couple of Bearded Tits showed up, they were at a distance but they did eventually come right down to the ‘wire’ as it were. Fantastic acrobats, as they fed on the seed from the reeds. In no time at all there were at least 20 odd males and females all feeding and interacting. They were a joy to watch and the males were avidly feeding on the seed heads with a few had looked as if they had paired up. Meanwhile on the butterfly front several Red Admirals have been seen in the New Forest, plus Peacocks have been seen dotted around Hampshire along with a Painted Lady on the Island

Milton Foreshore Friday 26th January 2024

Went to my local patch today to see the Black Swans, which seemed to have attracted a lot of attention at Eastney Lake. I was pleasantly surprised how many birds there were along the low tide shoreline, must have been hundreds. They were feeding avidly, mostly Brent Geese, but there were other shorebirds, like Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, and Turnstones. Very close to where I live I came across a couple of Curlews, and all the time I’ve been visiting this site I have never seen them this close to where I live.

I didn’t have to go walk very far, as the Black Swans had espied me and they obviously thought I had some food, and they came right over to me less than a few yards, making these small ‘purring noises’. The Mute Swans were around but whether they will tolerate these Black Swans on their patch only time will tell.

In the garden the Honey bees were starting to get active and my small patch of Bell Heather breaking into bloom was frequented by several bees gathering nectar. Unfortunately I still haven’t seen any butterflies yet.

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Isle of Wight: Yarmouth/Tennyson Down/Cranmore 22nd /23rd/ 24th January 2024


It was good to get out and about over this few days which I do when it’s around my birthday, and I always favour the Isle of Wight. Yarmouth always has a good variety of birdlife in the estuary and on the 22nd January just before the storm hit, there were plenty of wading birds to be seen. There were Godwits, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, and Redshanks, all plying their trade along the shoreline. There was also Tufted Ducks and Mallard, and on the shore Shorelarks busied themselves to finding that tasty morsel. I didn’t see the Kingfisher which I saw here last year, although I’ve no doubt they were around.

On the 24th January after the storm I decided to get some walking in on Tennyson Down although wildlife wise it was a bit barren however I did see a couple of Kestrels, and a Peregrine Falcon close to the monument. In the afternoon I visited a friend who has Red Squirrels in her garden. It took about 20 minutes before one turned up and they were about twenty yards away so good for some telephoto pictures. The bird feeder had shed some of its content after the Blue and Great Tits and to a lesser degree the Great Spotted Woodpecker had dropped lots of seed on the ground. Several Reds turned up and it was quite comical to watch them chasing each other, and boy they don’t hang around either. It was a joy to see and several of the Reds had slightly different colour fur, whether these were immature animals I wouldn’t know.

Back home and in the morning it was unusual to see a lot of Fox activity opposite where I live, but good for photos. A female has built a den on the banks of the allotment, and they were probably trying to get extra rations as the foxes give birth shortly. On the butterfly front Red Admirals and Commas have been seen in the New Forest and on the Island 

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Milton Lock and Foreshore 18th January 2024

It’s now bitterly cold with temperatures overnight at about -8c and with sharp frosts in the mornings. There is very little bird life in the garden despite putting up fat balls and two nut dispensers; I think the ever present pigeons are putting off the Blue Tits and other birds I would love to see in the garden. Along Milton Lock the Brent Geese are ever present, with Dunlin and Redshank feeding along the shoreline. Along Milton Common and Foreshore the Oystercatchers are growing in number and so are the Curlews with their distinctive calls.

 In the hedgerows the Robins and Hedge Sparrows are present but are not showing themselves, along with Blue and Great Tits. Other birds of note are the lovely Teals all paired up along with a few Shelducks. On the Lakes the Mute Swans seem to have paired up again from last year, and Mallard, Tufted Duck Coot and Moorhens are present. The Kingfisher I saw a few weeks ago seems to have disappeared.

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Milton Lock and Farlington Marshes 10th January 2024

January is now in the grip of an icy wind blowing in from the North-East and has kept the temperatures down to around freezing. On the Lakes the birds are probably finding it difficult to feed as they quickly see somebody observing them they are soon almost under your feet wanting food. Along the shoreline the tide and many Turnstones and Oystercatchers  were feeding, and on the University grounds the Brent Geese were feeding on the grass in there hundreds.

Out on Farlington Marshes the Cold wind soon kept the observers down to a small number, most of us were there to see the Bearded Tits. In the wind they were not showing very well, but we did manage to catch several of them brave enough to stick their heads up in the cool temperatures. There were lots of Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Black Headed Gulls, on the large lake but it was frozen in places which didn’t help the birds when they wanted to feed. There weren’t many other birds to see as this temperature keeps them down. The Short Eared Owls seem to have left the area, I’m just hoping they will come back one day.

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Milton Lock and Foreshore 05th January 2024

A blank December with mainly storms and torrential rain and windy conditions hardly weather to conduct observations in the field. Starting 2024 with a local walk along the foreshore at Milton Lock, the Brent Geese were busy with the tide being out and they feeding in the mud, along with Redshank, Curlew, and Mediterranean Gulls, Black Backed Gulls and Black headed Gulls. In the hedgerows and bramble, there were plenty of Sparrows, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, with the odd Long-Tailed tits.

On the Swan Lake there were several Cormorants, Tufted Ducks, Moorhens, and the Great Grey Heron, being very close for observation, he or she was eyeing up some Grey Squirrels scrambling in and around the dead Elms. Further down towards the War Memorial, the Oystercatchers were busy and making their distinct calls, interacting with the Redshank, a pair of Shelducks and Teal

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