Sunday, 1 April 2012

Spring time round-up

Driving home from Heathrow Airport on the evening of 28th March and it felt more like a summers evening in July as it was so warm! Temperatures here in the UK while we were away in Finland have been hitting 23c! Dusk was falling as we headed off to the M25 and I saw a few small flocks of ring-necked parakeets flying over in a general Easterly direction, presumably heading to roost somewhere for the night. I haven't seen them here before but then I haven't travelled at dusk in this area before.

The 29th March was hot and sunny again so we headed down to the allotment on The Barbican to check out the seedlings where I saw a holly blue butterfly. A walk around Plymouth Hoe provided views of another 2 holly blues and a smart Sandwich tern diving for fish quite close to foreshore. A small white butterfly was seen flying over as we walked into the city centre.

I decided to get the moth box out for the first time this year as the night time temperatures were quite good due to the hot days and I was very pleased with what I found in the trap the next morning (30th). I had forgotten I had put the trap out until I got out of bed at 9 O'clock! However there were some moths in the trap including 2 new moths for me -  2 small quakers and a very attractive oak beauty.

Small Quaker

Oak Beauty

Also in the trap were 2 light brown apple moths, a plume moth and 4 early greys, of which none had the pinky flush to them that the ones I caught last year had.

Early Grey

31st March and I headed off in the sunshine on the bus to Wembury. It was cooler despite the sunshine and eventually it clouded over. The beach was busy as Easter school holidays have started but the cloud probably kept a lot of people away as it wasn't too bad. The cafe is now open everyday until October so I enjoyed a pasty for my lunch.

The lights were on in the toilet block when I arrived and as a result there were quite a few moths inside including two new ones for me, a water carpet and 2 brindled pugs.

Water Carpet

Brindled Pug

Also seen were 3 dotted borders (and I managed to get a photo this time), an early grey (with a pinky flush), a tatty looking shoulderstripe and 6 Hebrew characters of differing shades and sizes.

Dotted Border


Hebrew Characters - variable sizes and colouring

As I was looking around the toilet block a cleaning man arrived and the lights went off, I didn't see him turn the lights off so I don't know if they are operated remotely or if they are on a timer but it was nice to see them back on.

While out walking I saw 3 ruby tiger caterpillars warming up in the sun along with an early speckled wood butterfly. An orange butterfly flew past and I assumed it would be a comma but when it landed on the path and basked in the sun I saw it was a wall brown, a very early date for one

Ruby Tiger Caterpillar

Speckled Wood

Also along the walk a large grey seal was seen poking its head out of the water for brief periods before diving, its chin area having quite large white blotchy patterning. A pair of oil beetles were found, the male being much smaller than the female, and also some bloody nosed beetles mating, again the male being smaller than the female.

Grey Seal

Oil Beetles - smaller male and larger female

Bloody nosed beetles

2 common lizards were sunning themselves on a fence post and allowed quite close approach, allowing a nice close up shot.

Common Lizard

And so to the birds! Best bird was a female black redstart feeding amongst the foreshore rocks below the cliff top path at HMS Cambridge. A little egret fed amongst the rock pools and 18 oystercatchers roosted at Wembury Point. Rock pipits were songflighting along the beach and skylarks were songflighting over the hillside. Chiffchaffs were singing away everywhere with a few seen, a blackcap was heard singing along with a song thrush and a cirl bunting and a pheasent was heard calling. A pair of cirl buntings and 2 male stonechats were seen. Around 8 willow warblers were also seen and heard, the singing being quite quiet and low key as they busily fed on the insects attracted to the masses of sloe flowers. A Sandwich tern flew West offshore and a pair of kestrels patrolled along the coast path.

Sloe Blossom

Sloe Blossom

Chaffinches were much in evidence along the walk, mainly females with only a few males. One male was chased around by a rock pipit while it fed on the seaweed mass on the beach but the rock pipit ignored the 6 female birds with it. Linnets were also noticeable and a male was seen collecting some feathers for a nest.

A raven flew out to The Mewstone being mobbed by a carrion crow and later it or another was seen flying back to the mainland. 2 Canada geese flew across from The Mewstone to feed on weed along the beach. A fulmar was seen circling around The Mewstone. Along the beach 2 female and 5 male mallards were roosting on the rocks near the sewage pipe.

And so I eventually headed home on the bus after 4 hours of natural history bliss, having had a very enjoyable and productive Spring walk.

1 comment:

  1. There were several Water Carpet in the toilets at Wembury on the 22nd of March and I caught one in the village as well.