Saturday, 22 October 2011

Moths, Wembury and a ferry trip to France

Back to work and back to reality with a bump on the 10th October after our lovely holiday in Spain. To ease the pain I had the moth box out for a couple of nights although the weather had cooled somewhat from the heatwave the UK had while we were away in Spain.

Best moths were 3 common marbled carpets in the trap with differing patterning, a large ranunculus found resting on the wall by the trap and an L-album wainscot which had unfortunately been caught in a spiders web in the window frame and was well and truly dead.

Common marbled carpet

Common marbled carpet

Common marbled carpet

We headed off to Wembury on the 14th October for a coffee and pasty and a walk in the sunshine, it was a beautiful day with only a slight breeze and quite warm. Best bird was a smart winter plumage Mediterranean gull flying along the shoreline at low tide looking brilliant white in the strong sunshine and with a lovely elegant flight. Also seen were a swallow, 2 female cirl buntings, 2 little egrets and 2 male and a female stonechat. A common lizard was sunning itself on a fence post and red admirals and speckled woods were on the wing.

The toilet block held 2 brindled greens and a new moth for me, an unseasonal orange swift.

Orange swift

That evening we headed off to France on our annual trip by overnight ferry to Roscoff. The sea was very calm and we managed a fairly decent nights sleep before arriving in Roscoff at 7am (6am British time). The day stayed bright and sunny and warm and we spent a pleasent day shopping, eating, drinking and walking.

Birds seen in Roscoff included 6 swallows, a winter plumaged Mediterranean gull, 3 Sandwich terns, little egrets, brent geese, turnstones, redshanks and a grey heron. Red admirals, speckled woods and large whites were also noted.

We stayed in the Hotel Les Arcades overnight, the first time we have stayed in this hotel and we had a lovely meal that evening in the restaurant of the hotel, David loved his half a crab starter and I enjoyed my tripe sausage starter although I wouldn't have it again!  The best thing about the hotel though was the great view from the bedroom window overlooking the sea and it was nice to have the window open watching the birdlife on the rocks while listening to the calls of the waders, gulls and geese.

The view from the hotel bedroom

Brent geese

Little egret

Sad sight though was a mass of dead crabs by the quayside, presumably they were dead when they were landed so were chucked back in to the sea. It seemed such a waste although the herring and great black backed gulls were busy feeding on them at low tide and as the tide came in small fish fry and some large mullet were busy feeding on them too.

Mass of dead crabs by the quayside
The next morning we headed back to Plymouth on the 09:15hrs ferry. It was bright and sunny and still and the crossing was good although there was a gentle roll on the boat the whole way over. Twenty minutes after leaving Roscoff and still quite close to land 2 rock pipits flew around the ferry calling. A dark shearwater then caught my eye flying fast and low over the waves and there it was, the star bird of the trip, a sooty shearwater. It showed silvery flashes under its wing tips as it sheared over the waves and it was soon lost to view as it headed West. Five minutes later and a flock of gannets flying towards the ferry caught my eye and there they were, star mammals of the trip, common dolphins! They were seen off the port side heading towards the ferry with the gannets following them , there were at least 7 of them, probably more, and as the ferry neared them they turned and started leaping towards the ferry side. They missed getting to the front of the ferry and reached the side almost where I was stood before being lost from sight but I had excellent views in the sunlight as they leaped out of the water. I have seen harbour porpoises on this crossing before but this is the first time I have seen any dolphins, this year has been an excellent year for unexpected cetacean sightings.

Bird wise plenty of gannets were seen on the whole of the crossing with good numbers seen diving for fish around the Eddystone lighthouse. Also seen were 5 great skuas, 2 about halfway across and 3 around the Eddystone lighthouse and so within sight of UK land and therefore tickable for my year list! Also seen in the Eddystone area were 10 guillemot flying East, a fulmar, herring and great black backed gulls, 7 cormorant flying south and a brief view of a diver flying East, probably a red throated.

Back home by 2pm, it had been a nice short trip away with a great crossing back from Roscoff to Plymouth.

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