Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dawlish Warren 10th April

Had the moth box out last night, wasn't hopeful as it was still quite breezey but this morning I had 6 moths of 6 species, 2 micros and 4 macros! Still working on the ID for the micros, I find micros quite tricky anyway and of the macros 1 was a very tatty looking pug moth, a double-striped pug I think based on flight period. The other 3 were a common quaker, a powdered quaker (a new moth for me) and a yellow-barred brindle, flying early presumably due to the recent warm weather.

Powdered Quaker

Yellow Barred Brindle
Common Quaker

The weather is glorious at the moment and today was even better than yesterday as the breeze had dropped considerably. It was very warm and sunny, very pleasent and quite odd being so summer like but without summer birds around!

After a good nights sleep, a mouthwash gargle, some Ibuprofen and some strepsils I caught the train to Dawlish Warren today, first train out was 09:25 and unfortunately was a Crosscountry one, still cramped and smelly but beggars can't be choosers. Arrived at Dawlish Warren at 10:30 and headed for the sand crocus enclosure where eventually I found a few open. They are tiny little things, last year I saw them for the first time and was surprised how tiny they were, expecting them to be normal crocus sized. Later on the way back to the train station a lot more were open with the heat and sun and I got some nice photos as I forgot my camera last year.
Sand Crocus

Sand Crocus

Bird wise it was quite productive with 2 single swallows flying east along the beach with Sandwich terns flying around and diving for fish offshore.There was a showy, singing willow warbler in trees by the main pond and 2 male whitethroats were seen singing and song-flighting. A pair of stonechats was nice to see after the cold winter and a female wheatear flew through the dunes while skylarks sang overhead. Chiffchaffs were heard singing and 3 male pheasents were very showy in the sunshine and quite tame.

Male Pheasent

A summer plumaged little grebe was seen and heard trilling on the main pond and up to 7 summer plumaged great crested grebes were diving offshore. Also offshore and close to the beach was a diving immature male eider with attendent juvenile herring gull attempting to steal any food. A couple of powerboats went roaring out to sea putting up a flock of around 20 sea duck which flew off towards Torbay, distance and light making it difficult to tell what they were, eider or scoters?. 3 brent geese were seen feeding in the estuary.

Peacock butterflys and green veined whites were seen flying around and there were lots of  Brown Tail moth caterpillar webs on the bramble bushes, on checking my guide books the caterpillars are very irritating to human skin so I am glad I didn't touch them or get too close.

Brown Tail caterpillar web

Brown Tail moth caterpillars

It was London Camera Exchanges optics day today at the visitors centre and I tried out a few telescopes. Loved the Swarovski telescope but so expensive, £2500+ (!),  but I quite liked the Nikon ED50 fieldscope, £600+, good image but a little weedy looking and restricted field of view. The guy was very good explaining things to me but I am still not sure, I've been birding for years and have never had a telescope, nor have I particularly missed not having one either. I don't want to spend a load of money and find I don't use it but don't want to buy a cheaper one and then be disappointed with it. I also have to be conscious of weight as they are heavy to lug around which is why I liked the Nikon as it was so small and light. But if I had the money I would go for the Swarovski! Oh, decisions,decisions!

With it being a Sunday, school holidays and good weather Dawlish Warren was packed out, the only reason I went today was to try out the telescopes as I would normally have avoided it like the plague unless something good to see was there. It is amazing that one of the best places to see birds and other wildlife in south Devon is slap bang next to a beach resort complete with go-karts, amusement arcades and tat shops and packed with loads of people.

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