Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wildlife Roundup

The weather continues to be dire - cool, breezey, overnight frosts, grey skies, rain and heavy showers with occassional sunny spells - typical April weather I suppose.

Sunday 15th and we headed out for a walk along the coast path at Stoke Point with our friend Julie. As it was Sunday and the last day of the Easter school holidays and was occassionally sunny the coast path was busy with walkers. The Ship Inn at Noss Mayo was also very busy, noisy and chaotic, the busiest I have ever seen it, but the walk and lunch were very pleasent despite the crowds.

A willow warbler was heard quietly singing along with 2 blackcaps and chiffchaffs, and 2 swallows were seen flying overhead. A raven flew along the cliff top and a peregrine made an unsuccessful chase over the sea after 4 noisey and completly panicked oystercatchers. A small copper butterfly was unfortunately found squashed on the footpath.

Squashed Small Copper

A pair of noisey stonechats close to the path caught my attention and I managed brief views of 1 or possibly 2 Dartford Warblers flying over the gorse bushes before diving in to cover. Eventually a very smart looking male Dartford Warbler appeared on top of the gorse and gave great views before flying off and out of sight. I failed to see any Darties here last year after the cold Winter and I have not seen Darties in this particular area of the coast path before so it was a very nice surprise to see one today. It also shows that when stonechats are about in suitable habitat its worth looking for Dartford warblers following them around, apparently the Darties benefit from the stonechats looking out for predators but its unlikely the stonechats benefit from being followed around by Darties.

Green Alkanet, Noss Mayo

Yellow Archangel, Noss Mayo

Monday 16th and we headed out to Slapton Ley for a walk. Around 6 swallows were seen around the buildings at Torcross and chiffchaffs, blackcaps and Cettis warblers were all heard. A reed warbler was heard singing quietly low down in the reeds by the bridge but failed to show itself. 10 Sandwich terns were offshore in a noisey loose flock with 2 birds seen to settle on the sea where they were lost to sight in the swell. On the Ley 3 pairs of gadwall were seen and there were quite a few tufted duck around, more than I saw here in the winter. A fish, a chub I think, was seen swimming under the bridge, it kept turning on its side and even swam upside down at one point but it appeared to be in good health.

Sun bathing Chub?

Tuesday 17th and a quick walk around Burrator reservoir in between the showers provided good views of siskins singing from the treetops and songflighting. A mistle thrush was seen feeding on a grassy bank and another bird was heard singing. Willow warbler and chiffchaff were heard singing along with 2 blackcaps which were seen. A smart adult lesser black backed gull was preening amongst a small flock of variously aged herring gulls and a female mallard had 10 small ducklings in tow.

Mallard and ducklings

Wednesday 18th and I caught the bus to Wembury for a quick walk along the coast despite the strong wind and heavy showers. 22 whimbrel were feeding amongst the rocks but were very nervous and flighty, regularly giving their lovely whistling call as they flew across the beach. 6 adult lesser black backed gulls were roosting and preening on the rocks amongst the herring and great black backed gulls. Offshore fulmars and gannets were battling against the squally winds and rain. A grey heron was seen fishing amongst the rock pools and a raven flew overhead. Chiffchaffs were busily singing away despite the poor weather and 3 song thrushes were seen.

Bugle?, Wembury

In the toilet block I found a Hebrew character moth, the lights kept turning on and off while I was inside, I wonder if they are light activated as the cloud cover at times was quite dark. Walking along the road to the beach from the bus stop I found 2 early grey moths resting on the wall of the electricty sub-station, there is a street lamp nearby which might have attracted them and they were very difficult to see against the concrete wall.

Early Grey

And I have had the moth box out in the backyard twice in the last week and have had an impressive haul of moths - 2 light brown apple moths on one night and one on the other night! I hope it starts to get a bit warmer soon!

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