Saturday, 20 August 2011

Wildlife Sightings 16th - 18th August 2011

I had 5 days off in a row this week as a result of arranging my shifts around my Mum visiting with my nephew Jack but their trip down to Plymouth didn't happen so I had 5 days off to myself. Weather has been pretty crap but have managed to get out and about and do some things.

Tuesday 16th we headed out to the Cotehele estate in Cornwall for a walk around the garden and estate. David wanted to see how the apple trees in the new orchard were growing after our last visit 2 years ago. I didn't think they had grown much but David said they had, having been planted in 2007. The old orchard had trees covered in apples and the couple of apples we picked up off the ground and tasted were delicious.

The "brats" were being entertained by a pond dipping session and a quick look at their catches placed in viewing tanks allowed good views of a dragonfly nymph, whirlygig beetles and 2 small stickleback.

Bird wise it was quiet with a jay, a nuthatch and overhead swallows seen. A comma was seen in the formal gardens with a holly blue and some red admirals. Around 4 large emperor dragonflys were seen hawking over a small pond and along the river side. Maidenhair fern was seen growing in the old kilns down by the quayside.
Maidenhair Fern - larger leaves than the domesticated Maidenhair Fern I have growing in a pot in the breakfast room at home

Bizarre sighting was a wooden box in a potting shed in the formal garden full of the wings of moths, mainly yellow underwings but also seen amongst the wings were a dark arches and some silver ys. I am not sure how they got there, whether a mouse has been eating the moths that get caught in the shed or a bat has been eating them but there were no signs of droppings and no smell. Strange.

A mysterious box of moth wings in the potting shed at Cotehele

A Silver Y wing amongst the moth wings in the box
That evening we headed up to Plymouth Hoe for the 15th National Fireworks Championship and watched the fireworks with Davids Mum and Dad from Duttons Cafe where we had a good view of the Mountbatten Breakwater. They were pretty good, you do get a good view from this spot but I find the crowds off putting and usually put up with a more distant view from Sutton Harbour just down the road from the house. We also went to The Hoe on the Wednesday night to see the second bunch of competitors and it was much busier with people on this night.
Fireworks - testing out the firework setting on the camera

More fireworks

I had the moth box out on Wednesday night and had a good catch the next morning, having woken at 05:30hrs and managing to get the catch sorted and the box put away before the rain started. In the trap I had a garden record of 4 Jersey Tiger Moths. I also had a smart female Four-spotted Footman,  a tatty Cabbage Moth, a tatty Heart and Dart and a yellow shell amongst 23 moths of 17 species.
Female Four-spotted Footman from the garden trap

That evening I headed off for a walk at Blagdons Meadow by the River Plym to look for Autumn Ladys Tresses and was in luck and found quite a few in flower. They were surprisingly small and dainty and easily overlooked but once I found the first one they became much easier to see amongst the grass.
Autumn Ladys Tresses

A close up of the flowers

2 growing together

A very twirly stalked plant

Also seen were 2 male common blues with meadow browns, 2 flyover Canada Geese and 6 little egrets roosting in the tree tops overlooking the river in Saltram Park.

I then headed up to Plymbridge Woods for a National Trust organised moth hunt, I have never been before and wasn't sure what to expect but it was quite a good night. There were only 5 of us in the group with 2 wardens and we went to the wardens cottage where the trap was running in the garden. I saw 3 new moths -small phoenix, August thorn and yellow lined quaker along with loads of black arches and rosy footman but we only saw 12 species in total in the 2 hours we were there. The photos I took have not come out very well due to the poor light conditions, the yellow lined quaker looks especially odd in the photo due to the poor lighting.Still it was a good night and I managed a brisk, shit-my-pants walk through the woods in the dark to catch the bus home from Marsh Mills as David was working a twilight so couldn't give me a lift home.

Yellow Lined Quaker

Small Phoenix
Rosy Footman

Black Arches

Bird wise tawny owls were heard calling, a male bullfinch was seen, house martins hawked over the tree tops as the sun was setting and an eclipse male and 3 juvenile/female Mandarin ducks were seen on the river at Marsh Mills where I managed to get black headed gull poo all over my sweatshirt as I leant on the bridge side to take some photos!
Eclipse male Mandarin Duck

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