September is perhaps the busiest month of the year although my only Knot of the autumn so far were these four juveniles feeding quite close by on the Old Spit Outflow on the 2nd.
Ospreys were seen throughout the month, mainly in the Beaulieu River but also along Warren Shore. The peak count was three birds on the 3rd but more often than not it was a single bird sat on one of the dead trees on Inchmery, often with a fish. Spotted Redshank numbers were good throughout September, starting with three on the 2nd and building to six by the 27th. September started with Black-tailed Godwit numbers in three figures on Venner but it dropped gradually during the month.
Almost all of my Grey Wagtails are birds overhead giving their presence away with a harsh penetrating call. It was therefore nice to see four birds settled on the muddy fringe on Venner on the 4th.
August’s long staying Wood Sandpiper remained on Venner until the 6th and the Ruff, also on Venner, left the same day.
At least one Common Sandpiper remained on Venner until the 6th while another one was seen along Warren Shore on the 9th. A juvenile Little Ringed Plover also remained on Venner until the 9th
Other than hirundines the Wheatear is one of the most visible of migrants. They were seen regularly throughout the month with a peak of 11 on the 9th, this included five near the Boardwalk Bridge and five along the Point Gorse Bushes.
Most Bar-tailed Godwits are seen on exposed mud along the estuary and so three on Great Marsh was slightly unusual on the 10th.
A late Willow Warbler perched up nicely halfway along the Main Hedge on the 11th. Redstart passage continued until the 11th with single birds seen on seven different dates. Also on the 11th there were 13 Yellow Wagtails in various parts of the reserve. I didn’t manage any photos this year as most birds were calling flyovers.
It was good to find two Dartford Warblers on Gravelly on the 11th. One or both of these two birds were then seen within a hundred yards of here on three subsequent dates.
Graham managed to trap one of the two birds and although, in the field, I’d guessed they were first winter birds, possibly from this year’s successful breeding pair, in the hand Graham commented that “it was in wing moult and it had an amber iris. A juvenile would not be moulting its wing feathers and it would have a muddy brown iris. Therefore the Dartford we ringed this morning was an adult female”. A third Dartford Warbler was heard calling along the Shore Hide fence line on two dates in the last week of the month.
Interesting WeBS counts on the 11th included 120 Curlew on Inchmery Saltmarsh, 91 Black-tailed Godwit around Venner and 89 Oystercatchers also on the saltmarsh. Four Spoonbill were seen flying over De L’Orne Scrape and the first Grey Plover of the winter, a group of three, were on the saltmarsh. Also a Hobby on the 11th was my last of the autumn. The Marsh Harrier over Black Water looked like an adult male which augers well for breeding next year.
All my Tree Pipit encounters are heard only or occasionally a distant bird flying high overhead. On the 11th, however, a Tree Pipit called loudly and then landed in a hawthorn tree opposite me. I managed a few quick photos. The last of the autumn were three flying over Great Marsh Groynes on the 16th.
On Tuesday 13th I decided to head around to the south side of Pullen via Mary Monts to check the brambles and gorse. I walked slowly to the slightly barer clearing and a bird flew up to my left, it landed on an exposed branch and through the binoculars I was amazed to see that it was a Wryneck. This is the peak time of year and I’d always had in mind that this area looked good for Wryneck but it was still a shock to find one. Quickly it flew into a small hawthorn at the edge of the reeds and began preening for a few minutes. I managed to get some photos before it slipped out of the back of the tree and I didn’t see it again. A real birding highlight.
Green Sandpipers remained in the Black Water area throughout the month with a peak count of four on the 16th. My first Brent Goose of the autumn was a single bird flying west past Mary Monts on the 18th, my earliest record. A drake Eider also headed west the same day. A late Swift flying over the Flooded Fields on the 20th made me double take.
September is the peak month for Whinchat. The last was seen on the 20th along Kingfish Ditch with the peak being seven birds on the 10th. Blackcaps are resident but numbers are swelled with autumn migrants and they are a regular sight during September with nine birds being my peak on the 20th.
Greenshank were pretty vocal and present in good numbers throughout the month, the peak of 14 on the 20th was my highest ever count on the reserve.
A Barnacle Goose was associating with a Snow Goose x Canada hybrid at the back of Venner on the 22nd. Virtually all Barnacle Goose records here are from feral populations, this is only the sixth time I’ve seen a Barnacle Goose in the last two years and the first I’ve seen in 2022.
On the 24th every bird I got on to seemed to be a migrant Stonechat, I’d estimate close to 50 birds across the reserve. There is often a good finch passage along the spit in October and a calling Siskin here on the 24th was my first since April. The same day my first Golden Plover of the winter was calling overhead near the Shore Hide.
While unsuccessfully trying to find a Spotted Crake at Pullen Hide I watched this Grey Heron with a large fish. For fifteen minutes it couldn’t decide if it could manage it and kept dropping it back into the shallows. Eventually it swallowed it down, pretty exhausting to watch.
I found a juvenile Little Stint on De L’Orne Scrape on the 24th. I first saw it with a small group of Ringed Plover but it quickly walked away before flying off south. This is my fourth on the reserve.
I watched another Wood Sandpiper next to NFOC Islands on the 24th. It is two weeks since I last saw the August bird and so I’m certain this bird must be newly arrived.
Spotted Flycatchers continued with a late juvenile (retained pale mantle feathers) seen near Gravelly Crossroads on the 24th.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from the tallest tree in the Cottage back gardens on the 20th.
It was very encouraging to see high number of hirundines passing through during the month. The approximately 350 House Martins feeding over the sea out from Mary Monts on the 24th was quite a spectacle. There was also a count of 400 Swallows on the 10th.
At this time of year checking the noisy Long-tailed Tit flocks is worth the time and usually means standing still and watching them all come past. Marsh Tits, Coal Tits, Chiffchaffs and my first Firecrest since May were all picked up this way. Hoping for a Yellow-browed Warbler at some stage!
The first returning Rock Pipits were three birds at the Sailing Club on the 27th.
Nearby, this adult Herring Gull was in heavy primary moult spending most of the month on Sluice Gate Saltmarsh. On two occasions I watched it bringing in a crab to eat on the grass near the Sailing Club.
As usual Sandwich Terns were hanging on and some will no doubt winter, three were fishing in the Beaulieu River on the 27th. Nearby, the wintering Kingfishers were seen along the water bodies and channels on the eastern side of the reserve.
A large movement of Meadow Pipits occurred on the 27th and included at least 150 individuals moving west past Mary Monts in a single flock.
Chiffchaffs were very common on several dates in the last ten days of the month, probably exceeding 40 individuals on at least two dates.
Other departing warblers included fairly late records of Lesser Whitethroat on Great Marsh on the 16th a Whitethroat on the 22nd and a Reed Warbler around Black Water on the 27th. The yellow soles to the feet and the pale-tipped primaries made me briefly wonder about Marsh Warbler. Marsh Warblers, however, are normally a colder greyer brown with more extensive white tips to the primaries and the tertials overlap the secondaries although in hand measurements are usually needed for safe identification.
Wintering dabbling ducks were returning by the month end and Venner seemed to be the favoured initial arrival spot. There were three figure numbers of Teal, 30-50 Wigeon with 10-20 Pintail and Shoveler.
Sparrowhawks were seen regularly throughout the month often dashing low in ambush flights.
September is the peak month for Clouded Yellows and I saw them on eight occasions during the month. They were usually within a few meters of the sea often dashing past but occasionally stopping to nectar where they could find Thrift flowers.
The extended flight period of the Common Blue includes a second brood which keeps them on the wing until October. This male was seen near Great Marsh on the 10th.
Other September butterflies included Small Copper, Small White, Red Admiral and Painted Lady.
There were a few Common Darter on the wing, they last long into the autumn but Migrant Hawker is the most abundant dragonfly at this time of the year although it’s usually the males you see.
Moth numbers start to fall from September onwards although I did manage a new moth in September, Portland Ribbon Wave.
A group of five Sika Deer was an unexpected find near the Reedy Ditch layby on the 2nd. I wound the window down for a photo but they quickly disappeared into the reed bed. Brown Hares were more obliging.
The regularly seen pale Common Seal was loafing in the sun on Inchmery on several occasions in the month.
While mist netting Graham caught this long-eared bat species. Nik Knight the County Recorder commented that it looks like a Brown long-eared bat as the tragus is relatively narrow, the thumbs are foreshortened and the colouration also seems to rule out Grey long-eared bat.
Natural England Newsletter – Autumn 2022
These are my own observations. A complete record of all permit holder sightings as recorded in the logbook will be reported in the next Newsletter due in mid-September.
Adam has used his regularly booked contractor time to reduce reed encroachment on open standing water in the northwest corner of Black Water and to allow the reed to regenerate. Also, to create a new island on De L’Orne Lagoon, to create larger Avocet Islands at Great Marsh and to dredge a channel from De L’Orne lagoon straight out to the scrape which we will be able to view down from the hide. The new channel will be great when water levels return.
The extremely dry summer has seen water levels continue to drop which has actually created great muddy margin feeding for returning waders and good numbers were seen throughout the month especially around Venner. Passerines were moving in good numbers throughout August although clear nights often encourage migrants to fly straight over without stopping.
Little Ringed Plover moved through in the first half of August including a family of five (of which three were juveniles) seen on Great Marsh on 5th August. They weren’t ringed and so not the family that had been successful on the Gins.
One of the highlights in August was seeing my first patch Wood Sandpiper. It’s the first one here for more than two years. There were actually two present on De L’Orne Flood on the 5th August (they had been seen by others on the 1st). At least one Wood Sandpiper remained on the reserve for the rest of August with most sightings from Venner Hide. It was also nice to get a clear recording of the characteristic call as it flew over Black Water.
An Osprey favoured the tree on Inchmery Saltmarsh from the 6th until the month end. It regularly ventured out over the Solent and then back up the river, there may well have been more than one individual.
Whinchats started to move through from the 6th with a peak count of six lined up along Whinchat Fence on the 28th. It’s great that they always come back to this fence and also the brambles close by around Venner South.
Yellow Wagtails were in fairly short supply with singles overhead on only two dates, the 6th (my earliest record) and the 20th. Tree Pipits were also scarce with just one heard on the 7th (again my earliest record). Early morning clear skies and warm conditions may encourage these migrants to fly high making them difficult to hear. I did manage to get some audio of the Tree Pipit as it called overhead.
The peak count of Greenshank was 13 on the 7th, this is the most I’ve ever seen on the reserve. The newly dredged muddy fringes at the western end of Black Water encouraged waders to drop in.
The only Garden Warbler of the month was an individual on Venner South Brambles on the 9th.
Willow Warblers moved through the reserve in good numbers throughout the month including a singing bird near Venner on the 9th. Chiffchaff usually follow in September, a bit later than the Willow Warblers partly because they have less distance to travel to get to their wintering areas.
A pair of Great White Egret commuted between Venner and De L’Orne in the 2nd week of the month.
Late broods included a Meadow Pipit carrying food near the Viewing Gate on the 11th August and a Reed Warbler carrying food near Venner Hide on the 9th August.
The late Avocet chick was seen regularly during August and was the 11th individual to fledge from Needs Ore in 2022.
The first Common Gulls appeared on the Beaulieu River from the 14th and the first returning juvenile Black-tailed Godwits were also seen the same day. A flock of 111 mixed adult and juvenile Black-tailed Godwits were seen on Venner on the 28th. This is my first three figure count on the reserve and is no doubt due to the excellent water levels for feeding waders.
Green Sandpipers were a common sight and sound with a peak of seven around Venner on the 14th
A high count of 37 roosting Little Egrets was on Venner on the 19th and a juvenile Cattle Egret (with a black bill) was also seen on Venner on the 11th and the 14th.
A Tawny Owl flew across in front of the car as I was heading past St Leonard’s Barn on the evening of the 19th.
While we were checking the Moth Trap in Sims Wood on the 21st at least six Hawfinches were ‘tsick-ing’ overhead.
Other than the spotty juvenile I had seen in late July the main run of Redstarts started from the 28th August with a peak of three that day. Once they start coming through I normally see at least one each visit although that can be from any part of the reserve. The three on the 28th were widely spread with singles on Great Marsh Scrub, Mary Monts Garden and Spring Meadow Corner.
A second calendar year Hobby spent the last week of August hunting around the Black Water area.
Two Common Sandpipers were seen briefly around Venner in the last week of the month.
Another wader highlight for me was a Ruff on the 26th, initially on the eastern end of Venner South and then in front of Venner Hide. A second different Ruff was also on Venner on the 31st. There have been only eight records of Ruff in the last seven years.
Wheatears were seen throughout August with a peak count of six on the 26th. The contrasting white tips to the juvenile inner greater coverts indicate that this is a 1st winter bird.
Just like last year Spotted Flycatchers seemed to favour Spring Meadow Corner. It makes you wonder if adult birds repeat their journey from previous years and also teach younger birds these stop off points. The six I saw here on the 28th (plus another just west of Shore Hide) is the highest ever count by anyone at Needs Ore beating the four in 1953! At least four remained fly-catching from low vantage points near the water trough until the month end.
The first Wigeon of the autumn were a pair on Black Water on the 31st. Other returning wildfowl included Pintail from the 28th and Shoveler from the 9th and other returning winterers included the first Kingfisher of the autumn dashing past the western end of Black Water on the 9th and the first Grey Wagtail calling over Pullen on the 20th.
The water levels around Pullen look great for Spotted Crake, a bit of a long shot but it’s worth a few minutes in Pullen Hide each visit especially as Water Rails are showing really well here at the moment.
Two Spotted Redshank remained on the reserve for most of August with most sightings on Venner.
By the end of the month Blackcaps were tacking noisily in the hedgerows with at least 15 counted between the Reedy Ditch and Spring Meadow on the 26th.
Also as August finished flocks of Linnets were forming with 60 at the Sailing Club and three figure counts of Swallow and Sand Martin and the odd House Martin, all heading east.
It was great to watch a Roe Deer and her fawn wading over from Venner Island
Migrant Hawkers were on the wing from the 7th August and quickly became by far the commonest dragonfly on the reserve. Much more unusual was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly at De L’Orne Hide on the 20th and the rarest of all was the Southern Migrant Hawker which I found again on the 7th August despite Shore Hide Ditch being completely dry.
The only butterfly of note was a Clouded Yellow which flew through the paddock area on the 28th August. A new grasshopper for the reserve was a Common Groundhopper found next to my moth trap along Pullen Beach Gorse on the 7th August
I ran six moth traps during August at various locations around the NNR including a trip to Sims Wood on the 20th August which successfully caught the main targets Light Crimson Underwing and Dark Crimson Underwing.
Rare moths which were seen less than five times in Hampshire last year included Celypha rosaceana, Antler Moth, Epermenia falciformis, Small Mottled Willow, Jersey Mocha, Dotted Clay and Stenotechia gemmella. Even rarer with only one county sighting last year were Scrobipalpa ocellatella and Cedestis subfasciella and rarer still with no sightings at all in the county last year were Ancylosis oblitella and Coleophora salicorniae.