Thursday 16th September 2021

Mist and dew made this morning feel very autumnal. I walked the fence line through the beach gorse and one of the first things I noticed was something caught on the barbed wire flapping and trying to free itself. As I got closer I could see that it was a Convolvulus Hawk-moth, a rare but regular migrant to northern Europe from southern Europe and Africa.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

It was attached fairly strongly to the barbed wire but it wasn’t caught on the barbs. It was almost as thought it was caught in a spider’s web. I freed it and it seemed fine. I also considered that it might be a shrike larder but it was 6.45am about 3 minutes after sunrise, the moth was covered in dew and in perfect condition. It wasn’t skewered to the barbed wire and so I think it got stuck overnight somehow.

Once I’d freed the giant moth I turned to see a pair of Roe Deer watching me intently through the thick fog.

Roe Deer

There was a large group of noisy Canada Geese offshore with 215 strung out from Mary Monts. Eight nervous Snipe were flushed from the pools.


Today was a Blackcap and Chiffchaff day with plenty of them on the move and lots of ‘chacking’ and ‘hueeting’ wherever I went. There were at least 20 Chiffchaff fly-catching in the large trees bordering Gravelly Track. On Great Marsh a Sedge Warbler appeared briefly.

My first Marsh Tit since May was eating berries near the Reedy Ditch.

Marsh Tit

A hirundine flock was assembling on the wires opposite Black Water House. It had become so foggy that it was difficult to tell what they were but there were roughly 275 birds with around 225 of them House Martins and perhaps 30 Swallows and 20 Sand Martins.  


In a hidden clearing of heather along Warren Lane Beach Scrub Ian had found a colony of blue butterflies. It was warm now so I had a look. The Common Blues were pretty fresh but a smaller Brown Argus was very faded, both species are double brooded and they can be seen in late September. Compared to Common Blue the Brown Argus lacks a spot on the underside of the forewing nearest the body and unlike Common Blue and Silver-studded Blue they also have two spots very close together on the hindwing which almost coalesce to look like a number ‘8’. Brown Argus is a patch tick.

Brown Argus photo by Ian Williamson
Brown Argus
Brown Argus
female Common Blue blue form
Common Blue
Brown Argus
Common Blue
Small Copper

There were also lots of fresh Small Coppers in this sheltered area and a Rush Veneer, a migrant moth which is often found at the coast.

Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella

I walked to the hides and noticed the Osprey heading over the De L’Orne area. A second Osprey was visible in its normal tree in the Calshot Tower direction.

As I reached De L’Orne hide I could see the Great White Egret stood on the top of the pines at the back of Black Water. After a few minutes he took off and headed back towards the Reedy Ditch area. August and September are good months for new egrets arriving and since the first sighting nearly three weeks ago the Great White Egret has ranged widely from Park Shore and Great Marsh to De L’Orne and most areas in between.  

Great White Egret

The White-tailed Eagle appeared again having been seen returning to the Isle of Wight earlier in the month. He appeared from the Gins East direction and was immediately harassed by one of the Ospreys before landing in the fields on the Inchmery side and then later landing on the saltmarsh opposite the Royal Southampton Yacht Club.

Before heading home I chatted to Alan and Caroline. The Southern Migrant Hawker didn’t appear but while we were talking Alan noticed a Clouded Yellow heading eastwards along the ditch near the car park, only my second on the reserve.

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