Sunday, 4 September 2011

Wembury, Cawsand, moths and Dawlish Warren

We set off for a walk at Wembury on the 31st August, the forecast wasn't great but by the time we reached Wembury the sun was shining and it was pleasently warm out of the wind. Pasty and coffee first for lunch before setting off, having seen a snout and 2 flounced rustics in the toilet block.

Flounced Rustic

The tide was low and on its way in and there was a lot of disturbance on the beach from walkers so the waders were out on the rocks at Wembury Point, with a whimbrel, a knot, 2 ringed plovers and 3 turnstone seen amongst the curlew and oystercatchers. A little egret and a grey heron were fishing amongst the rock pools.

A wheatear was feeding in the field above the horse field and pied and white wagtails were feeding amongst the legs of the horses in the horse field but no yellow wagtails were seen. Chiffchaffs were heard calling and a whitethroat was seen disappearing into a bramble bush. 2 cirl buntings flew overhead calling. A juvenile buzzard landed on the rocks at Wembury Point, it had a distinct white rump and very rufous trousers and rufous feathering in its upper wings in flight.

Also seen in the toilet block and released outside was an oak bush cricket, a first for me.
Oak Bush Cricket

The 2nd September was bright and sunny so we headed off to Cawsand for a day on the beach, probably the last beach day of this year. A little egret fed amongst the rock pools and a Sandwich tern dived for fish offshore. Chiffchaff were heard and 1 bird sang for short periods. Swallows flew overhead and a juvenile buzzard mewed noisely as it flew over the tree tops.

The moth box has been out in the back yard a few times this week with some nice moths seen. A unusual coloured yellow barred brindle was initially an identification puzzle and I had a count of at least 50 Large Yellow Underwing in the box one morning, a garden record. Amongst them were a Lesser Yellow Underwing and a Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing, they were difficult to pick out as their Large cousins were very flighty, living up to their alternative name of blunderwings - as I tried to process the moths 1 individual would start flapping around setting off all the others so there was just a mass of flapping, noisey moths.

Also caught was a marbled green, 2 square spot rustics, a common rustic and new for the garden, a marbled beauty. I saw my first one ever on the ward at work last week which flew off never to be seen again when I tried to catch it in a pot and now I have seen one in the back yard.
Unusual coloured Yellow barred Brinle - it looked quite reddy coloured in the flesh

Lesser Yellow Underwing

Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing

Large Yellow Underwing

Marbled Green

Marbled Beauty

The 3rd September saw me heading off to Dawlish Warren to look for little stints and curlew sandpipers, 2 of my favourite birds, this year seems to be a good year for them with sightings all around Devon and Cornwall. A Bairds sandpiper has been seen at Hayle for the last few days along with little stints and curlew sandpipers and I was tempted to head down to Hayle as I dipped on Bairds sandpiper at Marazion Beach 2 years ago but the weather forecast was not good and it was not reported as having been seen on Friday 2nd so Dawlish Warren it was.

It was cool and overcast with a breeze but it stayed dry until I got home at 5pm. In the morning I had to catch a Crosscountry train, it smelt of toilets as usual and one of the loos was out of use, but it left at a sensible time (08.40) and I didn't have to change trains at Newton Abott as it was a direct train. I headed off towards the hide but realised it was a very high tide as it was on my visit this time last year so I headed off to the Point where the small waders were roosting. I always get PST (Pre Sighting Tension) with little stints and curlew sandpipers as there is only a short window of opportunity to see them with weather, work, tides and transport all being factors in getting to see them. They can also be difficult to see amongst the waders especially if they are having a flighty day due to disturbance from walkers and peregrines.

However amongst the sleeping group of dunlin, ringed plover and sanderling I had good views of at least 3 curlew sandpipers feeding amongst the sand ridges and vegetation, being very mobile and active and disappearing behind ridges and vegetation so difficult to count exact numbers. A little stint was also found but it mainly slept with its head tucked away and it always picked a clump of vegetation to hide behind.

As the tide turned I headed off to The Bight where the waders flew into as the mud became exposed. I got an excellent view of a little stint busily feeding, showing off the distinct white V marks of a juvenile on its back. In contrast the curlew sandpipers flew in and promptly went to sleep although they showed very well at times when they preened themselves, a total of 7 were counted.

In front of the hide perched on the posts with Sandwich terns were a few common terns, adults in summer and winter plumage and juveniles. A juvenile common gull was seen amongst the Great black backed- and Herring gulls along with an adult Lesser black backed gull. 5 sand martins flew west and a wheatear was seen feeding along the beach. A female kestrel was mobbed by a carrion crow. A chiffchaff was heard singing with others heard calling and a very yellow looking bird was seen. Whitethroats were seen feeding in the bramble bushes.

A juvenile gannet was seen looking very moribund on the sea in Exmouth Dock, it was later seen offshore from the beach, preening and sleeping. Adult and juveniles were also seen offshore with a group of 20 seen heading west followed by 2 shearwaters. The shearwaters were distant and appeared quite brown rather than black without contrasting white undersides seen but I can't be sure if they were Balearic or Manx. 1 shearwater was then seen heading East and then 3 more heading West, again being too far out to see well with just binoculars.

Also seen were 2 large dragonflies which buzzed over and out of sight along with some red darter type dragonflies. A pair of common blues were disturbed from a grassy clump along with meadow browns. Speckled woods were seen amongst the woodland rides with 2 very smart but small individuals seen amongst the usual sized specimens.

A flounced rustic was seen in the toilet block along with a yellow belle of the aberrant conjuncta form, a new moth for me. A common carpet and a common white wave were also seen flying amongst the vegetation and a common white wave caterpillar was also seen.

Yellow Belle

Common White Wave
Common White Wave Caterpillar

The brambles were covered in blackberries and they were very tasty, unlike the ones at Wembury, and asparagus was seen covered in red berries. Evening primrose flowers were everywhere.

Asparagus berries

Evening Primrose

Fungus sp.

I had to catch a Crosscountry train home from Dawlish Warren but had to change at Newton Abbot on to a First Great Western train. However both trains were packed full of tourists and were full of litter so I was glad to get home, having had an excellent day.

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