Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bude 17th - 22nd July 2011

My birthday (17th) and the weather was cold, wet and windy. A small white butterfly was perched by the open kitchen window when I went to make my breakfast cup of tea and as it was my birthday David didn't squash it (he hates "cabbage whites" as they decimate his brassicas) and I released it in the back yard to take its chances in the bad weather.
Small white in the kitchen

Despite the weather we headed off to the caravan in Bude as planned, the forecast was not good with strong winds, cloud and heavy showers/rain and with quite low temperatures. A lone swift was seen from the car on the way to Bude battling the wind at Red Post so I was pleased as I like to see swifts on my birthday. Goodies were bought at Waitrose on the journey to Bude with another mortgage being secured to pay for it! Unfortunately the car boot sale in Bude was cancelled due to the weather and it remained grotty for the rest of the day, so much so that we didn't even have a walk along the cliff tops that evening. However the weather did improve as the week went on and we ended the week with some nice sunshine and warmth.

Beautiful Bude from the clifftop overlooking Northcott Beach

The toilet blocks held very few moths on this visit and the security light on the roof of the waste disposal block was not on at night like our last visit. I finally managed to get the moth box out on the Tuesday night, using a big fishing umbrella to keep it dry and protected from the wind, and the weather continued to improve and I managed to catch quite a few nice moths. Common wainscot, heart and dart and scalloped oak were the most numerous moths with scalloped oak numbers increasing each night but common wainscot numbers decreasing each night. New moths were a burnished brass, dun-bar and Devonshire wainscot and other goodies were a poplar hawkmoth, crescent dart, Brussels lace, drinker, lackey, Chinese character, buff tip, nut tree tussock and peppered moth.
Devonshire wainscot - in Cornwall!

Nut tree tussock

Drinker - looking like a furry hedgehog!

A tatty Brussels lace

Poplar Hawkmoth

Burnished Brass

Peppered moth

Crescent Dart

While out walking to Lifes a Beach for a cooked breakfast on the last day of the trip we found a smart garden tiger moth flitting about amongst the cliff top grass, another new moth for me and surprisingly large.

Garden Tiger Moth

Bird wise it was quite eventful too. 3 summer plumaged black tailed godwits were feeding on Maer Lake on the 18th with 2 then seen on the 21st. 2 common sandpipers were seen on the 21st and I tried desperately to turn them into green sandpipers but with no luck! However on the 22nd they had disappeared to be replaced by 4 green sandpipers which showed very well feeding around the edge of the lake! A summer plumaged dunlin was seen on the 22nd. Also seen was a juvenile ringed/little ringed plover on the 21st, it was feeding along the side of the lake but was distant and difficult to see with the heat haze (yes, the sun was actually shining at this point!), it eventually flew off but I didn't see it fly which was a shame as it might have helped me clinch its ID.

Sea birds were represented by fulmars along the cliffs and gannets offshore including a few very dark juveniles. A summer plumaged common tern was seen fishing in the harbour at high tide on the 19th, battling against the wind, and was the first common tern I have seen at Bude. 2 Manx shearwaters were seen battling the wind one lunchtime while heading towards Lundy, they were quite close to the shore and displayed the classic shearwater flight style of banking and soaring and skimming the waves.

Fulmar on the cliffs

Land birds were represented by a sedge warbler at Maer Lake on the 19th with 2 on the 21st, 4 ravens flew over the caravan early one morning calling noisely and a sparrowhawk was mobbed by 2 herring gulls and swallows as it perched on a telegraph pole on the camp site before it finally flew off.

A sexton beetle was found in the moth trap one morning and on taking photos of it in one of my collection pots it was found to be covered in small lice, apparently this is not uncommon for these beetles. It also smelt awful, I don't know if it was a defence mechanism or whether they just smell anyway as they feed on carrion. A female dark bush cricket was found under the caravan one afternoon. Butterflys were thin on the ground but I did see a peacock, wall, gatekeeper and meadow browns as the week went by and the weather improved.

Sexton beetle - very stinky and lousy!

Dark bush cricket

We were also buzzed by a small bee carrying a red geranium petal as we sat outside the Crooklets Inn enjoying a brown ale in the sunshine. It buzzed around us for a good 5 minutes before disappearing and David managed to get a snap of it with his camera. I first thought it was somebody playing a prank on us from the balcony above our seat but eventually managed to get a view of it in my binoculars to realise it was indeed a bee.

Buzzed by a red geranium petal carrying bee!

Best wildlife of the week though were the pod of common dolphins that we saw from the cliff tops on the 21st, they were quite distant and seemed to be moving in a large circle offshore north of Northcott Beach. They would disappear for a while before surfacing, showing brief views of their fins, and then would become much more active with lots of splashing and leaping out of the water when they showed their distinct body patterning. We watched them for a while but they did not get any closer despite their circular route but I was very pleased to see them, having enjoyed excellent views last year of bottle nosed dolphins from the same cliff top. The sighting of these common dolphins has coincided with reports of around 1000 common dolphins off the West Cornwall coast on the 27th of this month.

Also of interest was the dodder growing on the gorse bushes at Northcott Beach, it seemed to be everywhere and looked like some alien creature suffocating the plants although it was strangely beautiful.

Dodder flowers

Dodder strangling gorse bush

So all in all not a bad week despite the bad start and the iffy weather, we had a good time, ate and drank too much and generally had a good chill out.

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