Sunday, 28 May 2017

More Sunny Days Off Work

Thursday 25th May and another hot and sunny day forecasted and so I headed off to Wembury on the bus for a walk. It was indeed hot and sunny and I wore my shorts and sandals for the first time this year but I did foolishly get a bit sun burnt on my fore arms and on the tops of my feet.

The sedge warbler I first saw in the valley to the beach at the beginning of May was still busily singing away and songflighting , I guess it has yet to find a mate although it is probably unlikely to now. Blackcap and chiffchaff were heard along with whitethroats which again seemed to be everywhere and a nice surprise was a willow warbler quietly singing near the riding stables.

Sedge Warbler


Other bird highlights were:- 2 raven flying along the cliffs; 2 shelduck, 2 male mallard, oystercatchers and 7 whimbrel feeding on the beach near the sewage pipie with another 2 whimbrel flying east along the shoreline at Heybrook Bay; around 20 house martins feeding over Heybrook Bay with a few swallows; 6 Canada geese feeding in the wheatfield; a singing cirl bunting in the sewage farm hedge with a male and female together at The Point; and the usual birds - stonechats, linnets, robins, blackbirds, wrens, etc.

Butterflys were much in evidence in the hot sunshine and I saw green veined white, holly blue, common blue, peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood and orange tip but the best was a green hairstreak on the gorse bushes by the footpath at The Point where I also bizzarely saw a male brimstone fly past.

 Green Hairstreak

 Green Hairstreak


Common Blue

Moth sightings consisted of 3 common marbled carpet in the toilet block, all with different colouring and markings, a silver y in the grass at The Point, Depressia daucella caterpillars on the hemlock water dropwort flower heads, lackey caterpillar nests and a large drinker moth caterpillar squashed on the footpath.

 Silver Y

 Lackey Caterpillars

Depressia daucella Caterpillar

A glow worm larva, a tiny dark bush cricket nymph, a wasp beetle, a seven spot ladybird larva and a beautiful demoiselle briefly by the footbridge in the valley to the beach were also seen.

 Glow Worm Larva

 Wasp Beetle

 Wasp Beetle

7 Spot Ladybird Larva

Beautiful Demoiselle record shot

Friday 26th May was an even hotter day than before and so we headed to the beach at Bovisand, catching the ferry across to Mount Batten from The Barbican and walking along the coast path. There were plenty of butterflies on the wing - red admiral, large white, green veined white, 2 holly blue, a painted lady, common blue, 2 worn wall, 2 faded small tortoiseshell, speckled wood, orange tip, a small copper and 2 green hairstreaks - a big improvement on general sightings this time last year. A sparrowhawk being mobbed by swallows, swifts flying about overhead, whitethroats heard and seen and chiffchaff and blackcap heard were the bird highlights on what was a very hot day despite a cool south easterly breeze.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Sunny Days Off Work

Our week off work has been a quiet week just pottering around but the weather has been very good with sunshine and heat building as the week has progressed. We had originally planned to have last week off, a good job we swapped weeks as last week was mostly cool and wet. However the summer birding doldrums seem to have arrived a little early this year but at least the good weather has brought out the insects.

A quick walk around Saltram on Sunday 21st May with friends Julie and Matt was busy with lots of people out enjoying the sun but I did see 9 male mandarin ducks around the pond, presumably post breeding birds, along with 4 very small moorhen chicks being eyed up by a herring gull much to their parents consternation. A nuthatch was coming down to the tables by the cafe to pick up cake crumbs with blue and great tits and chaffinches and swallows flitted about overhead.

Mandarin Duck, Saltram

Monday 22nd and we drove up to Bude for the day to check the caravan is still ok on the storage site and to have a look around the town. It was quiet bird wise with just 2 fulmar and 2 gannet offshore, a singing whitethroat along the cliffs, a singing sedge warbler heard at Northcott Beach with another heard at Maer Lake, 2 shelduck and 3 mute swans at Maer Lake and sand martins overhead. No spring squill was found on the clifftops, presumably all gone over now, no Manx shearwaters were found offshore and no sticklebacks were found in the stream which was disappointing and it was sad to see the old caravan site looking a mess as the planned building works continue.

Wednesday 23rd and we drove up to Hembury Woods on Dartmoor near Buckfastleigh for a walk, a site we haven't visited before. The woods were lovely with blackcap, chiffchaff, willow warbler, garden warbler, spotted flycatcher and pied flycatcher heard and a songflighting tree pipit seen. The sun began to appear from behind the clouds as we walked up to the Iron Age Fort/Norman Castle at the top of the hill where the warmth coaxed out the butterflies - brimstone, speckled wood, a holly blue, a green hairstreak, green veined white and my target butterfly, pearl bordered fritillaries. The fritillaries were very active and mobile but I managed to get a few decent photos of what were a little tatty looking individuals. I've seen pearl bordered fritillaries a few times but have never had really good views of them so it was very nice to see them so well.

 Holly Blue, Hembury Woods

 Green Hairstreak, Hembury Woods

 Green Hairstreak


 Pearl Bordered Fritillary

 Pearl Bordered Fritillary

 Pearl Bordered Fritillary

 Pearl Bordered Fritillary

 Pearl Bordered Fritillary

 Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Pearl Bordered Fritillary

The Fort was large and very interesting but very overgrown and difficult to imagine although the National Trust seem to have plans to improve the site alongside management of the habitat for the wildlife, a winter visit with no leaves on the trees and no bracken would be better to appreciate the site archeologically.

There were lots of Dor beetles bumbling around, not surprising considering the amount of dog shit lying around - what is it with nature reserves and beautiful places that prevents people picking up after their beloved pets? An oil beetle was a much more pleasent find though.

 Oil Beetle, Hembury Woods

Oil Beetle, Hembury Woods

After a very enjoyable walk we moved on to Sharp Tor to admire the views on what was a very hot but glorious day. A cuckoo was calling and then seen flying low over the bracken, a whitethroat and a willow warbler were heard and a stonechat and meadow pipits were songflighting, and I saw another green hairstreak, another holly blue and 4 wall brown along with a large red damselfly and a longhorn beetle species.

 Large Red Damselfly, Sharp Tor

Longhorn Beetle Sp., Sharp Tor

Onwards to the Two Bridges Hotel for afternoon tea, which was as delicious as usual, and then a visit to father in law at Woolwell before heading home and it had been a very enjoyable and interesting day out.