Sunday, 29 July 2012

Another new orchid - Dawlish Warren 29th July 2012

I headed off on the train to Dawlish Warren, the first train out from Plymouth wasn't until 09:25 and was unfortunatley a Crosscountry train but the ticket only cost £6.70 return so I couldn't complain. Or so I thought. The train was late in to Newton Abbot, no explaination or apology, so I missed the connection to Dawlish Warren. I then had to catch a train to Dawlish and walk along the coast to Dawlish Warren, arriving one and a half hours later than planned - not impressed! And the Crosscountry train as usual smelt of human waste and fuel, why do the smell so much?

Anyway, Dawlish Warren wasn't as crowded as I had expected, the cooler, showery weather maybe keeping beach goers away, but it was still pleasently warm when the sun shone. I took my telescope with me but not the tripod and used wooden posts and fences to rest the telescope on, I couldn't be arsed to carry the heavy tripod around today and the telescope was fine to use resting on the posts.

Sandwich terns were obvious and noisey along the seafront and it was nice to see birds flying across The Warren up the estuary with fish in their bills, presumably for young birds roosting distantly on the sand banks in the estuary. I also saw 2 common terns flying across The Warren amongst the Sandwich terns, my first of the year. Also offshore were gannets, shags and lots of gulls and a flock of around 30 common scoter were disturbed by jet skiers before settling on the sea further out.

Butterflys were on the wing - red admiral, peacock, green-veined white, small white, small copper, small skipper, common blue, gatekeeper, meadow brown and speckled wood. Six-spot burnets were also buzzing around and an emperor dragonfly hawking over the main pond was seen catching one before dropping it in the water and flying off. The moth managed to get to some nearby reeds and out of the water, I guess burnet moths don't taste very nice!


I easily found my target for the day, marsh helleborines, which were flowering in the Greenland Lake area and a new orchid species for me although one that has been introduced to Dawlish Warren. I also saw blue-eyed grass, a new species for me again but another introduced species.

Marsh Helleborine

Marsh Helleborine

Marsh Helleborine

Blue-eyed Grass

Another surprise but brief sighting was a sand lizard which I nearly stepped on as it scuttled across the footpath right in front of me, again a new species for me and again another introduced species to Dawlish Warren. It was quite a chunky looking lizard with a very green underside in the brief view I had of it. Also seen were 2 tiny toads crawling through the grass near the pond.

Young Toad

I also managed to find a solitary cinnabar moth caterpillar feeding on some ragwort.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

I caught a First Great Western train back to Plymouth - hooray! - and despite losing a chunk of wildlife watching time I had had a very pleasent day.

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