Saturday, 14 April 2012

Mixed Spring Weather

The weather had changed by the 5th April and a walk along the coast path at Wembury was a complete contrast to my walk on the 30th March - grey, dull and a brisk, cold Easterly wind. As a result the only insect life on show were 2 sluggish bloody nosed beetles. Bird wise it was quiet too with the best sighting being a winter plumaged bar-tailed godwit feeding on the sandy piece of beach near the sewage pipe. 3 blackcaps were heard singing despite the grey and cold day along with a few chiffchaffs.

My next free day was the 10th April, the sun was shining at times in between the showers but it was still breezey along the walk from Hope Cove to Thurlestone and back. Again it was quiet bird wise with a late male teal on South Huish Marsh and 2 Sandwich terns fishing offshore being the highlights. Unfortunately a dead female oil beeetle was found squashed by a car on the road.

April 14th and the weather was much improved and despite a forecast of rain/heavy showers for later in the day I headed out to Wembury on the bus. It was bright and sunny and pleasently warm although it did become cloudier and by the time I got home it was thundering and lightning and very dark but with no rain!

First stop was the toilet block where I found 2 Hebrew characters, 3 water carpet, a shoulderstripe and a streamer, a moth I have only seen once before (in the toilet block at Wembury last April) and one I was hoping to see again. I also found a micro-moth which I think is an Agonopterix alstromeriana.

Agonopterix alstromeriana?



Water Carpet

While walking along the coast path I found a recently emerged brimstone moth drying out on a grass stem near Heybrook Bay and 4 species of butterfly were seen flying by - a small tortoishell, a holly blue, a small white and a speckled wood.

Newly emerged Brimstone Moth

Speckled Wood

Surprise bird of the day was a mute swan on the sea at Wembury Point by The Mewstone, it slowly drifted towards Plymouth Sound before being lost from sight. It is only the second time I have seen a mute swan at Wembury since my first sighting of 2 birds off the main beach during a cold spell in January 1996! Best birds of the day were the swallows that flew in off the sea and hawked for insects over the coastal fields, my first of the year and a great sight. It was difficult to count numbers as they flew up and down along the coast but there must have been at least 20 or so birds in total.

Other birds included 19 oystercatchers roosting at Wembury Point with a surprise winter plumaged grey plover, a little egret and 2 shelduck. 2 Canada geese were feeding on the new shoots of wheat in the wheat field and 6 male and a female mallard were roosting and feeding along the beach. A male blackcap was seen singing in a garden by the road leading down to the beach and a further male was heard singing near Wembury Point. 2 ravens flew out to The Mewstone, presumably a nesting pair, and fulmars flew around The Mewstone cliffs. Chiffchaffs were seen and heard all along the walk and a Sandwich tern fished close in to the main beach.

Grey Plover

A pair of oil beetles were seen along with 2 bloody nosed beetles. Common lizards were basking in the sunshine but were much more active and skittish in the warmth and were more difficult to approach to photograph.

Common Lizard - a green individual

Common Lizards - a more usual brown colour

Plenty of flowers were in bloom including thrift and bladder campion.


Bladder Campion

While waiting for David to arrive to have a pasty and coffee lunch a robin sang quietly just behind the seats overlooking the main beach and I managed to get some nice photos of it. It was singing away quietly without opening its bill but I could see its throat moving as it sang. Later it fed on some pasty crumbs we dropped on the ground before displaying aggressively to another robin that appeared nearby.

Robin singing for some pasty crumbs


And so Wembury had come up trumps again with some nice wildlife sightings, some sunshine and a pasty - not a bad morning!

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