Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.287

Published on: 5 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 5 Sep, 2023

By Malcolm Fincham

As the last days of August passed me by, I suddenly realised my time was overdue to reflect on some of my observations over the past few weeks.

As regular readers are aware, I strongly advocate and encourage looking out for and being aware of the delights that may be found beyond one’s front and back doors. And this continues to be the main reason for writing these reports.

An appropriate start to this report is about my recent fascination for some of the smaller ‘critters’ of this world. And one that I found hovering just outside my back door.

Marmalade hoverfly?

Although, apparently quite a common species, this small hoverfly was levitating about my pot plants on the window sill. Some research as to what it might be, pointed me to the conclusion of a marmalade hoverfly? And quite an endearing little character too!

Although a few inclement days continued during the latter weeks of August, generally weather conditions had become more settled than its first weeks, with temperatures cooling to just below the average during the latter days of the month.

Small heath butterfly, Pewley Down.

A visit to Pewley Down in the company of Bob and Dougal mid month revealed several small heath butterflies now back out on the wing.

Holly blue, Pewley Down.

While holly blue butterflies continued to be plentiful about the hedgerows.

Adonis blue butterfly, Pewley Down.

I was surprised to find for the first time there several adonis blue butterflies. Some say they have been present there in small numbers for several years? Although others believe they have been recently released there. Both theories, of course, could be true.

Chalkhill blue, Pewley Down.

Chalkhill blues, although in reasonable numbers still, were beginning to decline as their season came to a close by the latter days of the month.

Brimstone butterfly.

Brimstones had made a brief resurgence, these being the longest living of the UK’s butterflies, with some overwintering into the following year.

Green shield bug on Pewley Down.

A few interesting smaller ‘critters’ could also be found. These including a green shield bug.

Lace border moth, Scopula ornata.

As well as a lace border moth. scopula ornata.

Common darter, Pewley Down.

A few common darter dragonflies settled along the blackthorn hedgerow at the summit of the downland.

Jersey tiger moth.

Further visits on my own during the latter days of the month included a Jersey tiger moth.

Brown hairstreak butterfly, Pewley Down.

Brown hairstreak butterflies could also be found. And a few females could be seen egg-laying on their favoured blackthorn bushes.

Stripe-winged (Stenobothrus lineatus) grasshopper.

I was also given the opportunity to correct what I had written in a previous report, in that I wrongly named a meadow grasshopper. in which I have since learned was a striped-winged grasshopper.

Swallow, Pewley Down.

Swallows and house martins could be viewed, now starting to pass through on their homeward journey, hawking over the downland.

Red kite, Pewley Down.

And across the valley red kites could be viewed over recently harvested fields.

Wheatear, Lydling Farm, Shackleford.

A walk around Lydling Farm, Shackleford, on August 16 saw my first wheatears on return migration.

Counting four that had stopped off in what looked like a small family group. They were in close proximity of each other, seen on the fence posts and the grass.

Stonechat,(male) Lydling Farm, Shackleford.

A few stonechats could also be observed.

Common buzzard, Lydling Farm, Shackleford.

On a distant fence post a common buzzard could be ascertained to view.

Red kite, Lydling Farm, Shackleford.

While a red kite passed over from time to time.

Above and below, Tice’s Meadow.

Water levels had begun to recede at the old quarry works, now known as Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve, near Farnham. Enough to make it, at long last, possible to visit the waterside hide for my first time this year.

Hobby, Tice’s Meadow.

From the hide, two hobbies could be viewed hawking dragonflies over the water.

Common buzzard, Tice’s Meadow.

While a common buzzard could be seen, hovering kestrel-like along the far bank.

Grey heron, Tice’s Meadow.

Close to the hide, a grey heron could be watched fishing in the shallow water.

Wasp spider, Tice’s Meadow.

Within the long grassy verges about the reserve, if keen-eyed, several wasp spiders could be found.

Stag roe deer, Tice’s Meadow.

And stag roe deer could be viewed grazing among the sallows.

Bow-winged grasshopper.

Insect-wise, I also photographed what I believe to be a bow-winged grasshopper?

Clouded yellow butterfly. This one taken last summer.

Even glimpsing a clouded yellow butterfly as it skimmed across the meadow, although too distant to photograph.

Red arrows, Whitmoor Common.

Having seen and photographed a flock of eight Red Arrows jet aircraft over Whitmoor Common on July 2, this year, another visit on August 18 coincidently saw a flock of them passing through once again.

Adult male honey buzzard, Brook Pond, Whitmoor Common.

Of course the highlight of my visits there during the latter days of the month was on August 22 was the honey buzzard, of which I wrote about in my previous report

However, there could have been several several other contenders, in respect to some of the photos I had the fortune to take during the latter days of the month.

By then I concluded that there were in fact two juvenile common buzzards lurking about in the area about Brook Pond.

Juvenile common buzzard, Whitmoor Common.

I was especially pleased with some of the pictures I took of at least one of the juveniles that was spending much of its time within the wooded area near the pond.

Kingfisher, Brook Pond, Whitmoor Common.

Regular views of a kingfisher also continued there during the last weeks of the month.

Grey heron, Brook Pond, Whitmoor Common.

And a rather timid grey heron could regularly be viewed across the water.

Treecreeper, Whitmoor Common.

While the ‘seeping’ calls of treecreepers in the area attracted me to one as it crept up a nearby tree.

Stonechat, Whitmoor Common.

Back out on the open heathland, stonechats continued to be viewed, often perched up and posing for the camera.


A flock of 20 or so goldfinches had become a recent regular presence, often seen in flight.

Linnet (male) Whitmoor Common.

While linnets could be viewed in several small flocks.

Spotted flycatcher, Whitmoor Common.

And I even added a second spotted flycatcher of the month to my sightings there on August 22.

Kestrel, Whitmoor Common.

While a kestrel was a regular visitor over the heathland.

My closest contender to the honey buzzard for ‘bird of the month’ was also while visiting Whitmoor Common.

Can you spot the nightjar, roosting on Whitmoor Common?

To spot a nightjar roosting on a log is a rare event for me. And to find one no more than 10 yards from one of the many footpaths that traverse the heathland and where people often let their dogs off their leads to roam, was certainly a rare treat.

These summer visitors are nocturnal by nature and would soon be winging their way back to their winter homes in Southern Africa.


Also known as “the goatsucker” due to ancient superstition that they used their wide mouths to suck goats’ milk. It has since been learned that although having small bills their mouths open wide catching a variety of night-flying insects on the wing.

Cryptic in their colouring, nightjars’ grey-brown, mottled and streaked plumage blends in impeccably with their surroundings making them almost completely incognito to passing prey.

Nightjar, roosting, Whitmoor Common.

When perched on a log, as this one was, they lay flat to its surface, their camouflage making them look no more than a gnarl in the wood.


Still not totally convinced I looked through the zoom lens of my camera while taking a series of photos, then following further down the log where it was perched, I even spotted a second one.

Nightjar, roosting, Whitmoor Common.

It was especially pleasing for me, as it was the first I had seen in a daytime roost since August 17, 2020, having mentioned them in a previous report.

Nightjar (male) roosting on Whitmoor Common.

Also having found and photographed one perched up at eye level on the branch of a pine tree.

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.287

  1. Belinda Barratt Reply

    September 5, 2023 at 10:22 pm

    Amazing photos as ever from Malcolm. I can’t believe what he finds in our local patch!

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