Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Highlights

2013 has been another fascinating year when it comes to the wildlife I've been fortunate to see & experience. Here are just a few of the highlights:

I managed to see 87 species of Hoverfly this year...
The impressive Volucella zonaria turns up regularly but I know that there are many more special species still out there...Adam Wright has discovered a new UK species on the island each of the last 2 years! After liasing with Roger Morris of the Hoverfly Recording Scheme, I set up a UK Hoverflies Facebook Group which, as I write, has nearly 270 members. It's wonderful to see so many people being encouraged to start a new interest or step up a level as a result and I can't wait to see how the group develops in 2014!

It's been another great year for birds. The list for my local patch - The Western Yar Estuary from Yarmouth down to Freshwater Bay - now stands at 150 species, with Gadwall, Eider, Goldeneye, Pintail, Red-breasted Merganser, Pochard, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Woodcock, Little Tern, Razorbill, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Redpoll & Siskin all being added during 2013. Oh, and there was also a certain special bird...

The summer-plumaged Wilson's Phalarope which turned up in June, resulting in my first big patch Twitch. I was on holiday in the Pyrenees when it was found but managed to see it on the last day before it disappeared after returning home a day early because of the floods (it made up for the Wallcreeper that I may well have seen otherwise)!

I think this year has been the year when my interest in moths really took off after building up for several years. I ended up running the trap just about every evening during the summer (much to Carole's disgust as the bedroom list seemed to grow at an exponential rate!). Who would have thought that my little featureless back garden would turn up these two beauties:
A massive Clifden Nonpareil.....
...and a small but beautiful Crimson Speckled all the way from Southern Europe/North Africa (admittedly this first turned up in Caroline's garden across the road but I honestly didn't put it in my moth trap in the morning!! I only wish that the new species of Ant Lion that turned up in Dave's Freshwater trap had visited mine, too).
But the biggest excitement was the discovery of this Dark Crimson Underwing in an Isle of Wight wood...found by James, Iain, Caroline and myself in the last trap to be dismantled in the early hours of a summer's night! This almost certainly means that we've found a second breeding colony outside of the New Forest, though we'll have to do our best to confirm this in 2014. I was also present when Walter's Copse turned up a new species for the island: a White Colon.

My plant interests have been concentrated in the small graveyard at Colwell Baptist Church where we allowed this patch of the old Colwell Common to flourish for the first time in many years.
The result was an amazing 130 species, including several Green-winged Orchids. I'm in charge of managing this plot and I'm going to really enjoy seeing what turns up in 2014.

I've enjoyed leading some environmental education classes for a local primary school, even taking the plunge and buying 2 Longworth small mammal traps for a Yr 5 local walk.
The result was 100% catch rate with 2 separate species: a lively Wood Mouse and a gentle Bank Vole which thrilled the children!

And my favourite bit of Trailcam footage during the year?

Don't you just love this grooming Badger!

So what about 2014? Continuing on the small mammal theme, I'd like to finally get confirmed footage of the local Harvest Mice.
This is the set-up I devised earlier in the year for my Harvest Mouse quest....I'm trying to think of what I can do for Mk II but I'll keep soldiering on with Mk 1 for now!

Now that there is new effective live trap on the market that doesn't mean taking out a mortgage to buy a set, I shall also be engaging in more small mammal trapping!

In 2014 I will continue to look out for a visiting Otter, too, and maybe catch up with some of the Deer that Tim commented on a few days ago.

I shall continue to develop my environmental links with the local schools and also have the opportunity to lead some birding walks along the estuary which I will follow up.

I've no doubt the moth-trapping will go from strength to strength, particularly following the offer of a generator from James.....maybe this year will be the year when we refind the famous Isle of Wight Wave, an adventure that began on the Tennyson Down cliffs last summer.

And because I'm going to be out at night a lot once more, I also intend to spend more time using the Bat Box to record what's around and try my best to crack the sound analysis software!

I could go on, but I need to sign off and enjoy the rest of New Year's Eve with Carole, my long-suffering wife!

2014 is going to be a great year...I'm already feeling excited like a small child!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Red Fox

Last night I placed the Trailcam in the copse at the bottom of the garden of the home in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, where we are spending our Christmas break. The Red Fox that paid a visit looks to be in tip-top condition:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day Deer

I seem to have got caught up with the various Facebook Groups that I'm a part of over the last few months to the detriment of this Blog. But the big advantage of a resource like this over Facebook is that it really achieves the sense of a journal, for my own benefit even if no one else reads it. For that reason I'm going to have another go at being faithful to the blog over the coming 12 months. Over the next few days I'm hoping to put together a post with some of my 2013 highlights. In the meantime here is a video of 2 species of deer seen today in Bedfordshire. With the Isle of Wight being deer-less, I'm always looking out for deer whenever we're visiting family on 'North Island'!

The footage begins with a Chinese Water Deer feeding in a field (1 of 8 seen this morning), which is followed by a Muntjac spotted at the bottom of the garden at the house in Ampthill where we are spending Christmas:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Red Squirrel & Red Foxes

It's been a crazy summer, and the lack of posts on the blog reflects something of that. A week in the Lake District has been a great tonic and I'm feeling refreshed and determined to post a bit more regularly.

My biggest wildlife interest is mammals, so I was really pleased to capture this Red Squirrel on the Trailcam in the grounds of the house where we were staying in Braithwaite:

I love the way it bounds over to a spot just in front of the camera to bury a peanut, and the way in which it pats the earth back down with its front paws.

Another special encounter took place a few weeks ago when I came across these two Red Foxes sunbathing in the sunshine down the road at Colwell Bay:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Tiger, tiger, in the night!"

Of all of our UK moth families, the Tiger Moths get the prize for sporting the most dramatic colours...and it's always thrilling to examine the moth trap in the morning, turn over an egg-box, and find yourself looking at one of these:

Not a great photo, but this was one of 4 Jersey Tiger moths this morning, my first of the year.

There was also a single Garden Tiger.....

...and a smaller, more delicate Ruby Tiger.

I did have a Cream-spot Tiger visit my humble little garden a few weeks ago. I can't find the photo I took, but I've got this poor image taken under the MV glare during our 'Search For the Isle Of Wight Wave' back on 7th July.

And here's a Wood Tiger that I found down the road on Afton Down last year - if you look closely you can see that it's actually coupled with a mate!

I never thought I would find so many Tigers living hereabouts on the West Wight. Now, a visit from the Isle of Wight's first Scarlet Tiger would be nice......

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Moth Traps & Mammal Traps

I've been running my Moth Trap every evening in recent weeks. The light is only a 15W actinic - small fry compared to the super-bright MV (mercury-vapour) lights....but it has still been pulling in some special species.

This morning I had a couple of moths that are probably migrants, though there are small populations in the Hants & IOW area:

After weeks of recording Common & Scarce Footman, this male Four-spotted Footman is massive by comparison!

I've recorded Four-spotted Footman on a few occasions last year, but I've never seen one of these before: L-album Wainscott!

This is Mecyna asinalis, a micro that's primarily found in coastal locations, the larvae feeding on Wild Madder, which is pretty common hereabouts.

And this is a species that I've been eagerly waiting to find in the trap: the spectacular Burnished Brass. It's not uncommon, but that doesn't take away from the wow factor - it's a real beauty!

I also put a couple of Longworth Mammal traps out overnight at Golden Hill Country Park and managed to catch these two Bank Voles, the second one looking very young and fit:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Local wildlife & local children!

During the last few weeks of the school term I've been involved in a couple of local schools. At one school I set up the moth trap overnight and spent time with a Reception Class seeing what had turned up before going for a nature walk around the school grounds.

At another school, I spent a morning showing some of the local moths - including 6 species of Hawkmoth - to each class in turn. The following week I spent a few hours with a Year 5 class on an environmental walk, the highlights being the Woodmouse & Bank Vole. I had also left a Trailcam at a local sett overnight and we took the card back to the classroom to see what animals had visited - 4 Badgers, a Red Fox and a Brown Rat.

It's great to see the children really getting excited and I wanted to share some of their responses:

First an overall report by two of the class:

                                                          Year 5 Nature Walk.
On Tuesday 16th the class year fives went on a nature walk led by Steven Plummer. When we went up to the church we saw a wood mouse and some butterflies which were the marbled whites and some meadow browns. Then we walked along the course-way to see what else we could find. Steven went to get a trap and we found a lovely coloured bank vole. It was a brownie red. As we walked along the Afton Marsh we saw some more beautiful butterflies which were large whites and a red admiral. Then we walked back.

Thank you so much - that was so fun, my favourite part of the day was when Steven cached that moues the wood mouse and it ran a way. That was funny and then when we came back we watched the little clips of the badger, the fox and the rat.

I enjoyed the nature and I learned so much. It was interesting and  I learned a bit of history. Thanks again!

I like the part when you held the vole.

Thank you very much for the day trip! My favioute thing about today was when we saw the wood mouse and I liked all the flowers and trees.

I enjoyed walking round Freshwater because I saw a wood mouse, two swans, a baby swan, ducks and loads more. I really liked seeing the small videos of Baggers, Foxes and Rats. But the best part is when I saw loads of butterflies. I also saw special types of plants.

I like the mouse. It looked soft and cuddly. It made me happy.

Thank you very much for the nature walk. It was really fun. I would love to do that every day in my life! Hope you come back again. We liked the assembly about the moths. Hope you come back again soon!

I liked the vole, it was so soft and cute, I could stroke it all day long!

Thank you Steve! Your nature walk. It really inspired me to go outside and love nature! I loved all ov the things you showed us like the cheeky mouse! Thanks for spending $120 instead of $60 with the Bug Trap! You gave me a great time I will never forget this moment.

The money refers to the 2 Longworth Mammal Traps that I had finally taken the plunge to purchase a few days previously. I think that I was inspired as much as the children, which is always the case whenever I do one of these events. There are great opportunities for amateur naturalists all over the UK to get involved with their local schools and help the children to begin to really appreciate their local countryside, inspiring the next generation of recorders and conservationists!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sett C Activity

Last night I set up the Trailcam at Sett C with the idea of showing the results to the Year 5 children from the local school following their Environmental/Nature Walk.

Thankfully, several species turned up. The footage begins with what I think is a boar. He pauses to work out whether the moth flying in front of his nose is worth further investigation! Then one of the local Red Foxes turns up - a really scraggy individual that I haven't noted here before. Note just how lanky it is, and that tail will look like a length of rope soon! A Brown Rat wanders around the area before the Red Fox returns and pays no respect to the Badgers by leaving a calling card! Then the sow and two cubs return following a night's foraging.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Privet Hawkmoth

If you suffer from Moth-o-phobia, or mottephobia to be precise, then you wouldn't be wanting one of these to fly through your bedroom window when you're just about to enter the land of nod!

It's a Privet Hawmoth, and it's the biggest moth that you're going to come across this side of the English Channel! Here it is alongside a 'normal' Buff Ermine moth:

That's one seriously large critter! They are not uncommon, and this one turned up in the moth trap this morning....I always get a frisson of excitement when I turn an egg box over to reveal one of these beauties! Admittedly, they can look a bit sinister and not to be messed with.

Whilst not having the skull of the aptly-named Death's Head Hawkmoth leering from the top of the thorax, the Privet Hawkmoth does have a 'head' that has an uncanny resemblance to the evil Green Goblin from Spiderman!

Thankfully, it's pretty harmless in reality. Although it 'eats for England' as a caterpillar, munching through the leaves of our Privet hedges and wild Privet bushes, it cannot feed, let alone bite, as an adult, and spends several weeks looking for a mate to make sure it passes its genes onto the next generation of Green Goblins Privet Hawkmoths!

It does have a few nifty tricks up its wings, though. When threatened by a predator, it will suddenly flick its wings wide open, just like the wings of the Buzz Lightyear's toy in the loft:
To us those colours might resemble 'a black, grey and pink evening dress of satin' as one person puts it, but any inquisitive birds are going to get a bit of a shock and head for the hills! It does have another impressive defence mechanism, too, which I witnessed a few days ago: a male like this can make a surprising hissing noise, the result of rubbing together some scales at the tip of the abdomen.

To a Bat, a Privet Hawkmoth must be the equivalent of a 20oz Steak and, let's be honest, their sonar can't fail to hit on one of these. But I reckon that Bats probably don't get it all their own way. Elsewhere on the planet it's been discovered that some Hawkmoths blast approaching bats with their own version of ultrasound, produced by rubbing those scales together with some spines!

What's more, the males of another Privet Hawkmoth species have been found to go ultrasound crazy in the presence of females...so it looks like it's as much to attract mates as to repel Bats!

It's all pretty amazing stuff, and I'm sure that researchers nearer to home will discover some pretty cool things about our own Privet Hawkmoths in time!

After taking a few photos, this Hawkmoth decided that it was time to move on. Here's a bit of video of him warming up his wing muscles before taking a short flight across the garden to hole up in the shade for the day:

Friday, July 12, 2013


I'm in the midst of a busy period engaging in wildlife activities with a couple of local schools. Yesterday I visited one Lower School to empty a moth trap I had set up overnight and to lead a walk around the grounds for a Reception Class.

On the way to the school I suddenly noticed a massive bright blue butterfly fluttering in the graveyard just the other side of a low bush. My pulse rose as I realised that I'd come across something really special.....and then I stepped around the bush to find this....

...a solar-powered plastic job!! That certainly brought me down to earth! :-)

There were a number of great butterflies in the trap, including Elephant- and Small Elephant Hawkmoth, which were a hit with the children. We hunted around the local area, looking under objects and shaking trees onto a white sheet, uncovering various invertebrates including Froghoppers, Woodlice (including a brooding female), Spiders and a Common Quaker caterpillar.

This morning I visited another local school and, over 2 hours, showed each of the classes in turn some of our neighbourhood moths. The children were amazed to discover the wonderful variety of moths of all kinds of size, colour and shape that were flying around their homes while they slept. The 6 Hawkmoth species that I had managed to find certainly made their day, especially the Pine Hawkmoth which suddenly took off for a few circuits around the hall during the last session; the Peppered Moth & Buff-tip were a great advert for a discussion on camouflage; and the life-cycle of the Bee Moth was the equivalent of a horror story regarding the local Bee populations!

This photo, albeit poor quality, shows some of the 'cool' moths that the children enjoyed out of the 30 or so species I took in!
I'm leading an environmental walk for Year 5s next week and I can't wait....especially now that I've got a couple of Longworth Mammal Traps of my own to set out!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Afton Marsh Insects

I love walking the footpaths around Afton Marsh because you never know what you're going to bump into from one day to the next. My main interest is hoverflies. The very smart-looking Eristalis intricarius can be found quite easily at the moment. Here is one individual keeping itself smart:

I hardly know any of the Muscid flies, but Graphomya maculata is hard to miss - I just love those markings on the abdomen:

I'm starting to see a good numbers of Depressaria daucella larvae hiding away amidst the umbels of the Hemlock Water-dropwort. The one in the photo below is about to be parasitised by the Ichneumon Wasp on the right. The larva was thrashing its head from side to side - is this some kind of protective mechanism or a reaction to having been parasitised just before I arrived?

Finally, I was fascinated by this Treehopper:
The Latin name is Centrotus cornutus, 'cornutus' referring to the horn-like projections above the head, the extent of which can be seen by this photo taken from above:
Perhaps they help to break up the outline, or even to give the impression of thorns? Impressive, or what!!

Sett C Badgers

Last Friday evening I left the Trailcam out overnight at Sett C in order to catch up with the latest activity. There's a few minutes of footage below.

It begins with some footage of a family group. There is definitely a suckling sow with two cubs, and I reckon that the other adult may be a sow, too. There's further footage including some mutual grooming, rough & tumble, and a definite boar who makes it clear who's top of the tree! The footage concludes with a Red Fox that turns up at 5.30am (the same Fox had turned up at 3am, too).

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Search for the Isle of Wight Wave

Over the last decade I have been fascinated by the search for the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the forests of the south-eastern United States. There have been tantalising sightings suggesting the bird might remain at large, but many are skeptical, believing it to have become extinct.

Yesterday evening myself, 2 Ians, Rob & Ashley engaged in a search for a creature that is not quite so famous: the Isle of Wight Wave (Idaea humiliata). The Isle of Wight Wave used to inhabit at least one vegetation-covered ledge on the chalk cliffs below Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight before the ledge fell into the sea in 1931 and it wasn't seen again. It's still found on the continent, this photo coming from a German website with a series of images here:
It's a really small moth with that distinctive reddish streak along the leading edge of the wings.

We've talked about an evening searching for the Isle of Wight Wave for a few years now but, this year, Rob & Ian made it happen, working closely with the National Trust and the Coastguard.

Having examined the images on Google Maps, we set ourselves up on the cliff top above the location of two well-vegetated areas. The main kit consisted of 4 bright LED lights suspended over the cliff face on an extendable fishing road with a Mercury Vapour bulb trap set back from the cliff. The idea was (and this was Ian's idea and set-up) that any moths on the ledges would be drawn to the light from the LEDs and then be attracted across to the main MV light where we were sitting safely well back from the cliff edge.
The Isle of Wight Wave is noted for appearing at dusk and so we set up nice and early, ringing the Coastguard to let them know when the MV light was started up - in the photo above you can see the MV trap and the LED lights connected to the end of the long fishing road. Yours truly is also looking very hopeful there, net in hand and ready to go!

During the evening we encountered a number of fascinating moths, including this Cream-spot Tiger which looks a bit jaundiced in the light from the mercury vapour lamp. There were high numbers of Small Elephant Hawkmoths, together with a couple of Elephant Hawkmoths and a Privet Hawkmoth. Other moths included the scarce Dew Moth and a number of The Shears, good numbers of which flitted around the LEDs before heading towards the MV trap, a sign that the set-up was working.

One of the things that really excited me was the large numbers of Hoverflies that began to appear as soon as the trap was turned on:

The majority seemed to be Syrphus vitripennis, with the Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) - both noted migrants - reaching double figures, too. At one point I counted over 50 in sight, and that doesn't take account of any that had settled down behing the egg trays or which may have flown off!

At one point, soon after 11pm, we began to notice the tell-tale, pin-prick lights of lots of Glow Worms in the grass all around us, Wordsworth's famous 'earthbound stars':
I left to cycle back home at 1.30am, having been up since just after 5am the previous morning and having a Service to lead later that day. Rob & Ian stayed behind for the duration. It had been a great evening and there are already plans to continue the great 'Search for the Isle of Wight Wave' in the future.

In conclusion, I'm pleased to report that we actually did get one Isle of Wight Wave, though not exactly the one we were hoping for:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wilson's Phalarope

People have been wondering if I've dropped off the planet but, sometimes, you need to take a break, and this was such a time!

We had a wonderful holiday in the Pyrenees but, half-way through, learned that a Wilson's Phalarope had turned up on my local patch!! Several of these delicate American waders turn up in the UK each year....but very rarely does a summer-plumaged female turn up!

Because of the devastation caused by the floods in the area where we were staying, we decided to come home a day early, and the next morning I was up bright and early to see the Phalarope. It turned out that it was the last day it was seen.

You can read one person's experience on his website here that illustrates just how far birders were travelling from to see this special bird!

In Mill Copse, next to the pool, several spikes of Greater Butterfly Orchid were still flowering.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Great White Egret update

After being spoilt with some great - but distant - views of the Great White Egret over the last few days, I decided to have a break today and spent some time first thing this morning sea-watching from Colwell Bay in the teeth of a strong westerly wind. A Guillemot and 5 'Commic' Terns (almost certainly Arctics) passing through brought my monthly West Wight list to an encouraging 110 species. This will drop markedly next month - not because of a reduction in the species turning up, but because the promise of sunshine will mean most of my spare time spent surveying the local Hoverfly fauna!

Mid-morning I cycled to Yarmouth along the estuary to catch the bus into Newport for a meeting and, having time for a quick look at Rofford Marsh, was surprised to find the Great White Egret flying across the Marsh. And it only got better! Having procured a lift back I got dropped off at the Thorley turn. I scanned the marsh there, the main interest being a very bright male Yellow Wagtail. Reaching Rofford Marsh I looked over the stile, and found myself staring right at the Great White Egret which was in a stand of reeds about 50m away. Making my way along the hedge, I found a small hole and managed the footage above before the Egret took off and, after a short flight, disappeared deeper into the reeds. I really feel for the birders who have tried, but failed, to see this bird. I really was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Great White Egret

 I love this time of year. Millions and millions of birds are streaming north out of Africa and arriving on our shores which, together with a lot of coming and going by those birds closer to home, results in a very real sense of excitement and expectation concerning just what might turn up next.

But I confess that I hadn't expected a Great White Egret to arrive. It was reported yesterday from the Scrape area, and I joined Caroline & Tony in a search for it yesterday evening. It was hard work, but we eventually found it in a relatively quiet water meadow as it took off and headed north over Mill Copse looking pretty majestic!

First thing this morning I approached the flooded meadow from the east and was rewarded with great views of the Egret feeding below me. I didn't dare get too close, but watched from my elevated position as it stalked around the meadow before flying to a pool close by.

Last year Great White Egrets bred for the first time in the UK at Shapwick Heath in Somerset. With several local sightings over the past year, I wonder if we might see them nesting here at some point, too, as their range continues to expand!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


It was just before 6pm and I was just tidying up ready for Carole's arrival back from work when I looked on Facebook and came across Paul's photo....an Avocet at Yarmouth! Just after 7.30am, Carole had dropped me off in Yarmouth on her way to work in Newport - a walk back home along the Estuary is just the best way to begin the day. I counted 409 Teal and 123 Wigeon......but no Avocet! I didn't know where & when Paul had seen it and reckoned it would have probably flown on by now....plus there was a cold biting wind blowing....I was still recovering from one of the worst migraines I've ever had yesterday....and I had not slept for more than a few hours last night...but I had to go for this one as it was a possible patch first (unlike the Bluethroat on the other side of the island that has been sending everyone into raptures and which I haven't made the effort to see!).

Was it worth it? The video is not great quality vision- or sound-wise....but it's an Avocet! :-)

A flock of Linnets & a Woodcock on the way home brought me past 75 species for the month. I shall sleep this evening!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Common Snipe

I've been trying, but struggling, to get some decent footage of one of the Common Snipe that have been present in good numbers over the winter. A few days ago I counted 101 individuals feeding out in the open at Rofford Marsh. They are always too far away, or else flying off or quickly heading for cover it within camera range. However, I came across this individual today which gave me a bit of closer footage:

April Birds

I thought it might be interesting to see how many species of birds and other animals I can record here on the West Wight during April. I'll add to this list as I go along. Bird-wise, I wonder if I could make the magic '100' with some of our winter birds hanging around in this cold weather, and with many of our summer visitors now starting to arrive.

1.      Red-throated Diver                    Gavia stellata (4/4/13 – Colwell Bay) *NEW SPECIES
2.      Mute Swan                                 Cygnus olor    
3.      Greylag Goose                Anser anser (1st – 2 on The Scrape)   
4.      Canada Goose                Branta canadensis
5.      Brent Goose                                Branta bernicla           
6.      Shelduck                                     Tadorna tadorna (4th – 1)
7.      Wigeon                           Anas penelope (3rd – 123 birds)         
8.      Gadwall                         Anas strepera (14th – pair at Thorley Rd Marsh)
9.      Teal                                             Anas crecca (3rd – 409 birds) 
10.  Mallard                           Anas platyrhynchos
11.  Pintail                                          Anas acuta (2nd – male on Scrape)     
12.  Tufted Duck                               Aythya fuligula (2nd – 3m & 1f)
13.  Red-breasted Merganser         Mergus serrator (6th – 9 at Colwell Bay)          
14.  Shoveler                         Anas clypeata (6m & 1f on Ponds)
15.  Common Scoter             Melanitta nigra (22nd – 7 past Needles Viewpoint)
16.  Red-legged Partridge                 Alectoris rufa (5/4/13 – Mill Copse edge)
17.  Pheasant                         Phasianus colchicus    
18.  Little Grebe                                Tachybaptus ruficollis
19.  Slavonian Grebe                         Podiceps auritus (13th – Off Norton Spit) *NEW SPECIES
20.  Fulmar                                         Fulmarus glacialis    
21.  Northern Gannet             Morus bassanus (1st - Needles)
22.  Cormorant                                   Phalacrocorax carbo   
23.  Shag                                            Phalacrocorax aristotelis (4th – Colwell Bay)
24.  Little Egret                                 Egretta garzetta (4th – 9)
25.  Great White Egret                      Ardea alba (15th – Pool at back of Scrape)    
26.  Grey Heron                                 Ardea cinerea
27.  Marsh Harrier                              Circus aeruginosus (8th – The Scrape)
28.  Sparrowhawk                              Accipiter nisus (9th – pair at Thorley Road Marsh)
29.  Buzzard                         Buteo buteo   
30.  Kestrel                                        Falco tinnunculus       
31.  Hobby                                         Falco subbuteo (7th – West High Down)
32.  Peregrine                                     Falco peregrinus (1st – Needles & Mill Copse)
33.  Water Rail                                   Rallus aquaticus (7th – Rofford Marsh)
34.  Moorhen                                     Gallinula chloropus    
35.  Coot                                            Fulica atra      
36.  Oystercatcher                              Haematopus ostralegus
37.  Avocet          Recurvirostra avosetta (3/4/13 – Scrape) *NEW SPECIES        
38.  Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (1/4/13 – Rofford Marsh) * NEW SPECIES
39.  Ringed Plover               Charadrius hiaticula (3rd – 2 @ Yarmouth Marina)
40.  Grey Plover                                 Pluvialis squatarola (3rd – 5 on Western Yar) 
41.  Lapwing                         Vanellus vanellus (7th – 7)
42.  Dunlin                             Calidris alpina (3rd – 5 close @ F.Causeway)
43.  Snipe                                           Gallinago gallinago
44.  Woodcock                                  Scolopax rusticola (3rd – Scrub break)
45.  Black-tailed Godwit                   Limosa limosa            
46.  Whimbrel                                    Numenius phaeopus (17th – 3 on estuary)
47.  Curlew                                        Numenius arquata      
48.  Common Sandpiper                    Actitus hypoleucos (11th – Station Pool)
49.  Greenshank                                 Tringa nebularia         
50.  Redshank                                    Tringa totanus            
51.  Turnstone                                    Arenaria interpres       
52.  Black-headed Gull                      Chroicocephalus ridibundus  
53.  Mediterranean Gull                     Larus melanocephalus (2nd – approx.50)
54.  Common Gull                 Larus canus (6th)                     
55.  Lesser Black-backed Gull           Larus fuscus (1st – 10 at Freshwater Causeway)
56.  Herring Gull                    Larus argentatus         
57.  Great Black-backed Gull            Larus marinus
58.  Little Tern                                   Sternula albifrons (21st – 7 thro’ Fort Vic) *NEW SPECIES
59.  Sandwich Tern                Sterna sandvicensis (4th – 7 @ Colwell Bay)
60.  Common Tern                 Sterna hirundo (21/4/13 – 2 @ Fort Vic)
61.  Guillemot                                    Uria aalge (18th – Colwell Bay)
62.  Rock Dove                                  Columba livia
63.  Stock Dove                                 Columba oenas           
64.  Woodpigeon                               Columba palumbas     
65.  Collared Dove                Streptopelia decaocto            
66.  Cuckoo                                       Cuculus canorus (23/4/13 – WHD calling)
67.  Barn Owl                                    Tyto alba (1st – Heathfield box)
68.  Green Woodpecker                     Picus viridis    
69.  Great Spotted Woodpecker        Dendrocopos major    
70.  Skylark                            Alauda arvensis (9th – 4 on WHD)
71.  Sand Martin                                Riparia riparia (9th – Rofford Marsh)
72.  Swallow                         Hirundo rustica (9th – Rofford Marsh)
74.  Meadow Pipit                             Anthus pratensis        
75.  Rock Pipit                                   Anthus petrosus (4th – K’r Bridge)
76.  Water Pipit                                  Anthus spinoletta (7th – 2 Thorley Marsh) *NEW SPECIES
77.  Yellow Wagtail               Motacilla flava (9th – Thorley Road Marsh)
78.  Pied Wagtail                               Motacilla alba
79.  Wren                                           Troglodytes troglodytes         
80.  Dunnock                                     Prunella modularis     
81.  Robin                                          Erithacus rubecula      
82.  Black Redstart                Phoenicurus ochruros (9th – 5 on WHD)
83.  Redstart                         Phoenicurus phoenicurus (8th – Needles Viewpoint)
84.  Whinchat                                    Saxicola rubetra (25th – Afton Farm fields)
85.  Stonechat                                    Saxicola torquatus (Pairs on golf course)
86.  Wheatear                                     Oenanthe oenanthe     (4th – Mill Basin)
87.  Ring Ouzel                                  Turdus torquatus (9th – 3 at WHD)
88.  Blackbird                                    Turdus merula            
89.  Fieldfare                                     Turdus pilaris (2nd – 26 on field alongside W.Yar)    
90.  Song Thrush                                Turdus philomelos      
91.  Redwing                                     Turdus iliacus (3rd – 3 on Yarmouth Green)  
92.  Mistle Thrush                              Turdus viscivorus (10th – WHD)
93.  Cetti's Warbler                            Cettia cetti (13th – 2 at Rofford Marsh)
94.  Sedge Warbler                Acrocephalus schoenobaenus (29th – Station Pool)
95.  Reed Warbler                              Acrocephalus scirpaceus (21st – 2 at Rofford Marsh)
96.  Blackcap                                     Sylvia atricapilla (10th – 3 at WHD)
97.  Lesser Whitethroat                     Sylvia curruca (24th – Station Pool, Yarmouth)
98.  Whitethroat                                 Sylvia communis (20th – Western Yar)
99.  Chiffchaff                                   Phylloscopus collybita
100.      Willow Warbler                       Phylloscopus trochilus (15th – Station Pool hedgerow)
101.      Goldcrest                                Regulus regulus
102.      Firecrest                                  Regulus ignicapilla (9th – Thorley Road Marsh)
103.      Long-tailed Tit                        Aegithalos caudatus   
104.      Blue Tit                                   Cyanistes caeruleus    
105.      Great Tit                                  Parus major
106.      Coal Tit                                   Periparus ater (2nd – 1 singing by Estuary)   
107.      Jay                                           Garrulus glandarius    
108.      Magpie                                                Pica pica         
109.      Jackdaw                                  Corvus monedula       
110.      Rook                                       Corvus frugilegus       
111.      Carrion Crow                         Corvus corone            
112.      Raven                                     Corvus corax
113.      Starling                                    Sturnus vulgaris         
114.      House Sparrow                       Passer domesticus      
115.      Chaffinch                                Fringilla coelebs         
116.      Greenfinch                              Carduelis chloris        
117.      Goldfinch                                Carduelis carduelis     
118.      Linnet                                     Carduelis cannabina (3rd – flock over E. Field)
119.      Bullfinch                                 Pyrrhula pyrrhula (19th – Golden Hill CP)
120.      Reed Bunting                         Emberiza schoeniclus
121.      Yellowhammer                        Emberiza citronella (30th – Wilmingham Lane)

  1. Rabbit
  2. Brown Hare
  3. Red Squirrel (8th - West High Down)
  4. Red Fox (14th - Scrape area)

Butterflies: Brimstone (2m on 6th); Peacock (6th); Small Tortoiseshell; Comma.

Hoverflies: Eristalis tenax (6th); Episyrphus balteatus (6th); Eristalis pertinax; Platycheirus albimanus; Eristalis arbustorum.

Other: Bee-flies - Bombylius major & B. discolor.

Wednesday 3rd.
Highlight of the day was my first patch Avocet, following up Paul's sighting earlier - great bird! It entailed an early evening mad cycle dash but it was worth it. A flock of about 25 Linnets were feeding in 'Footpath Field' and a Woodcock was flushed on the way home.

Thursday 4th.
An early morning sea-watch at Colwell Bay produced my first island Red-throated Diver flying past. 7 fly-through Sandwich Terns were also new for the year. A Shag was fishing in the bay & a Peregrine flew through. The remained at The Scrape for a second day. 72 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 Grey Plover and a number of Mediterranean Gulls are hanging around. A male Wheatear was on the boat hard-standing at Mill Basin. Another Peregrine soared right past me, and I swear it nodded to me as it went by!

Friday 5th.
The Avocet was still enjoying the delights of the Mill Copse Scrape first thing this morning...I was just as excited to flush a pair of Red Partridges from the long grass close by - I only see them rarely on the patch, though I know they're always out there somewhere! A Rock Pipit was exploring the rocks alongside the Freshwater Causeway. Further afield the White-spotted Bluethroat at St Helens on the other side of the island continues to be reported. The Partridges, together with a Grey Heron and Goldcrest, brought my April total to 84 species after just 5 days. At this moment in time the 100 species target is well on course, and I'm hoping that a visit to West High Down first thing tomorrow morning will add Ring Ouzel & Black Redstart at least!

Saturday 6th.
....or maybe not...WHD disappointingly quiet this morning, though the strong sunshine made for an enjoyable wander. A walk with Carole to the Fort Vic viewpoint and back resulted in one more addition to the birdlist with 9 Red-breasted Mergansers in Colwell Bay. My first butterflies of the year were 2 delightful male Brimstones at Fort Vic and a Peacock flying over the Collinsons' garden! 2 'Marmalade' Hoverflies at last, and one Eristalis pertinax.

Sunday 7th.
 Another early morning walk over West High Down....there wasn’t a lot about, but a soaring Peregrine got the pulse racing, as did a ridiculously early Hobby that flew low past my right shoulder (Portland recorded a Hobby today, too)! 2 Bearded Tits were reported at Yarmouth during the day and so I spent a bit of time searching for them at Rofford Marsh. Tony arrived and took me to see 2 White Wagtails that he had just seen in the flooded meadow on the other side of the Thorley Road from Rofford Marsh. The Wagtails had gone....and had been replaced by 2 stunning Water Pipits that were showing really well....fantastic! A new patch species for me, and my 89th species for the month. At 8pm a Barn Owl flew right past me when I was at Kingfisher Bridge.

Monday 8th.
A female Wheatear and Rock Pipit were along the top of the cliff at West High Down first thing this morning, and my first Common Redstart of the year – a female – on the grass patch below the Needles Viewpoint. This evening there were 35 Shoveler on the Western Yar estuary and, at 6pm, an immature/female Marsh Harrier flew across the Estuary and over the Scrape, without stopping.

Tuesday 9th.
West High Down came alive this morning. Nothing along the lower fenceline but buzzing above the road down to The Needles: stopped to look at a male Wheatear, then a stunning male Common Redstart flew into the gorse just in front of me....a pair of Stonechats arrived and then a female Black Redstart on the fence, followed by a male. Hearing a familiar chacking noise I turned to find a male Ring Ouzel on top of a small clump of gorse, and then looked down towards the road as 2 more flew past....not bad from one spot! Around the New Battery there were at least 3 more Black Redstarts, probably 4 or 5. Another male Common Redstart was on the cliff-side fence-line, together with a Redwing and fly-past Peregrine...great start to the day!

And the excitement continued with an hour’s slot to have a look at Rofford Marsh & Thorley Road Marsh in the afternoon. An immature/female Marsh Harrier was over Rofford Marsh, together with Swallows & Sand Martins passing through. At the Thorley Road Marsh there was both a White Wagtail and a gloriously bright male Yellow Wagtail. A Little Egret fooled me into thinking that it was a Great White Egret but my disappointment quickly dissipated with a stunning male Firecrest that suddenly made an appearance in the hedgerow just a couple of metres in front of me. A pair of Sparrowhawks flew into the tall trees close by and, on the way back through Rofford Marsh, a small falcon whizzed past – almost certainly a Merlin but I didn’t get the bins on it and it will go down as a ‘possible’. But an amazing day when you just don’t know what’s going to turn up next!

Wednesday 10th.
West High Down: 3 Blackcaps moving together through the scrub above the Lower Path brought up my 100th species for the month on this, only the 10th day! 10 Wheatears were scattered over the Down though it was a lot quieter than yesterday. A male Ring Ouzel was on the top of the Alum Bay cliff and there were 4 Black Redstarts around the New Battery, with another on the gorse at Tennyson Down. Best 'goosebumps bird' was a Peregrine Falcon that flew low and close to the left of me as I approached the Coastguard Cottages.

Thursday 11th.
West High Down: Very quiet but a Black Redstart was on the Alum Bay slope, and 2 more around the Rocket Site. A Peregrine was flying above the Alum Bay cliffs and there were a pair of Stonechats on the slope there. There were still some 20 Fieldfare or more feeding in the field by Tideways Cottage late this afternoon. Another new species for the year turned up with a Common Sandpiper on the fringe of Station Pool, Yarmouth. 

Saturday 13th.
West High Down: A cold southerly wind blowing with thick mist in places. The only notable birds were a single Rock Pipit and Wheatear on the cliff edge. 2 Cetti’s Warblers were singing at Rofford Marsh. For the whole of the rest of the day it poured with rain but, following news of an earlier sighting of a summer-plumaged Slavonian Grebe at Fort Vic, Caroline and I ventured out late this afternoon and engaged in a bout of extreme birding in the hope that it might still be there. In the event, and following a bit of searching, we caught up with it feeding off Norton Spit. It was hard to make out the particular features in the murk, but Slavonian Grebe it definitely was, a new IOW bird for both of us!

Sunday 14th.
The Slavonian Grebe wasn’t in the Fort Vic area this morning. This afternoon there was a pair of Gadwall on the Thorley Road Marsh, a new record for April. A male Tufted Duck was feeding on Station Pool. Swallows and Sand Martins passing through. The Greenshank was still at the Scrape and a Red Fox groomed and dozed close by. 5 Brown Hares were in the field opposite the farm on Thorley Road.

Monday 15th.
I spent 1½ hours at West High Down this morning, but the only notable birds were 2 male Wheatears! Things were slightly better on the Western Yar when a smart male Common Redstart flew across the path in front of me near Mill Copse, giving several great views. A Great White Egret had been seen earlier today and, following a search with Caroline & Tony, was located on the last piece of flooded ground at the back of the Scrape, taking to the air and disappearing over Mill Copse – wow! I also saw my first Willow Warbler of the year in the hedgerow alongside Station Pool.

Tuesday 16th.
An early morning cycle ride came up trumps with fantastic views of the Great White Egret in the same pool as last night, known from this time onwards as the GWE Pool! I approached from the Wilmingham Lane which gave an elevated view looking down onto the whole area. The bird was feeding but obviously a bit skittish and aware of my presence even though I was quite a way away! There were 30 Shovelers still around, though I only counted four Black-tailed Godwit and a pair of Wigeon.

Wednesday 17th.

Another early morning sighting of the Great White Egret seems to suggest that the bird is very happy here at the moment! A pair of Gadwall continue to frequent the Rofford Marsh area. There were 5 male Tufted Ducks, together with a single female, on Station Pool. A Sandwich Tern was fishing in the lower reaches of the estuary.
I couldn’t relocate the Great White Egret this evening, but there were 3 Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper on the estuary close to the Scrape (Thanks to Gill & Richard for letting me know about the Whimbrel). A male Wheatear was on the edge of the Yarmouth Mill basin. 4 Brown Hares were in the surrounding fields.

Thursday 18th.

A morning seawatch at Colwell Bay in the face of a strong westerly wind brought the monthly species list to 110 with a Guillemot and 5 ‘Commic’ Terns flying through. I was pretty sure that the Terns were Arctics, but not sure enough to claim them as such! Other birds included 2 Shags, 2 Gannets and a Peregrine Falcon in off the sea. A dog-walker informed me that two Ospreys have been seen at Norton Spit in recent weeks.
Cycling to Yarmouth mid-morning to catch a bus for a meeting in Newport, I spotted the Great White Egret in flight over Rofford Marsh. Having been given a lift back and dropped off at the Thorley turn, I scanned the Thorley Road Marsh, where the chief interest was a bright male Yellow Wagtail. Then, looking across Rofford Marsh, I found myself staring straight at the Great White Egret that was in a patch of reeds close to the road bridge. I managed to get some video through a slight gap in the hedge but the bird was later spooked by activity at the bridge and flew to a spot in the middle of the marsh halfway between the road and Station Pool.

Friday 19th.
Not having recorded Bullfinch yet this month, I went for an early morning wander over Golden Hill Country Park and was rewarded with a male Bullfinch calling from a nearby tree.

Saturday 20th.
At last - a warm day filled with sunshine! The Great White Egret was on Thorley Road Marsh first thing. A Common Whitethroat was present in the Western Yar hedgerow. At Walter’s Copse I missed the Large Tortoiseshell butterfly (which was spotted for the second day running this afternoon). Eristalis pertinax hoverflies were present in abundance but only two other species in small numbers (Eupeodes luniger & Platycheirus albimanus). Amongst the Bombylius major Bee-flies I found a single B. discolor.

Sunday 21st.
A House Martin flying amongst the Swallows & Sand Martins, together with 2 Reed Warblers, both at Rofford Marsh, were both new for the year. On the way home I stopped off at Fort Vic, hoping for Little Tern, and was rewarded with 5 passing through (a new IOW species for me), together with 2 fishing Common Terns. I had hoped to break the 100 species mark for April. Now, with 115 under the belt, it looks like a final tally of 120 or above might be a possibility!

Monday 22nd.
4 Wheatears on West High Down and 2 Rock Pipits singing and displaying at either end of the Rocket Site silos. The month list keeps ticking over – 7 Common Scoters flying low past the Needles Viewpoint this morning.

Tuesday 23rd.
Very quiet again on West High Down but a calling Cuckoo was new for the year, a day later than my first Cuckoo in 2012. 

Wednesday 24th. 
A thick mist lay over much of the West Wight first thing this morning. At Headon Warren a Common Redstart flew along the field edge to the treetops in the Pleasure Park copse. Willow Warblers, Chiff Chaffs & a Common Whitethroat were in the hedgeline alongside the Pitch & Putt. An unidentified Diver swam to the rocks in the bay far below before flapping onto a rock. It was very quiet on the Western Yar this evening, but a rattling Lesser Whitethroat at Station Pool was new for the year.

Thursday 25th.  
A dozen Yellow Wagtails and at least 2 White Wagtails were at Rofford Marsh late this afternoon. A Whimbrel was on the estuary opposite the Scrape, and there was a male Whinchat at Afton Farm. A Hobby & Spotted Flycatcher were also reported in the area.

Friday 26th - Sunday 28th.
Mainland trip.

Monday 29th.
A female Common Redstart was on the lower fenceline at West High Down first thing. At Station Pool a singing Sedge Warbler was my 120th patch species for the month. 5 Cetti’s Warbers were calling at Rofford & Thorley Road marsh. A Whimbrel and Common Tern were on the estuary. In the evening the Whimbrel was still present and 2 Sandwich Terns flew down the estuary towards Yarmouth. A pair of Pintail feeding on a pool on the other side of the estuary was a good record. There was a female Mallard with 10 ducklings on Rofford Marsh Pond. 7 Hares were in Kingfisher Field (south) with another 3 in the field beyond the Scrape.

Tuesday 30th.
I looked for the Great White Egret in the usual haunts this evening, but it looks like it has definitely gone. Walking back along Wilmingham Lane I heard a familiar call from the hedgerow and a male Yellowhammer flew onto the top of the hedge…a last minute addition to the monthly list which closes on a really encouraging 121 species – and to think that I was hoping to reach 100 this month! Species that I missed included Kingfisher, Treecreeper, Golden Plover, Spotted Flycatcher and Dartford Warbler. Highlight of the month was the Great White Egret, followed by the 2 Water Pipits....and the general excitement of not knowing what would turn up next. May could be even more exciting!