Saturday, 11 August 2012

Manx Shearwaters - New for Wembury, 11th August 2012

Today is the tail end of a short hot spell so I headed out to Wembury on the bus for a walk to try out my new travel tripod with my new telescope. I have also treated myself to the 27x wide angled eye-piece and wanted to put it through its paces. The tripod is great - light, compact and it fits in my ruck sack but it is fiddley to use and is not as smooth or easy as the heavier tripod. It also blew over in the strong South East breeze when I stopped to look through my binoculars (whoops!) but overall I am very pleased with it. The eye-piece is very good too, being wide angled it is more comfortable to look through with my glasses and provides a great image.

Having my telescope with me today provided views of a new bird for me for Wembury - Manx shearwaters. With the strong breeze I managed to pick out small groups of 1 to 3 birds moving West offshore at regular intervals doing their usual banking shearwater flight and moving surprisingly fast. They had the distinctive white undersides when they banked in the wind contrasting with their dark upperparts but I couldn't pick out any Balearics amongst them. It was nice to finally see a new bird for my Wembury list although I have never really looked for them at Wembury before.

Other birds seen were :- a juvenile sparrowhawk flying overhead being mobbed by swallows and pied wagtails ; 15 mallard around the sewage pipe (1 female, 1 male and 13 eclipse males) ; 2 whimbrel, 2 summer plumaged dunlin, a juvenile ringed plover, a curlew and oystercatchers roosting at Wembury Point : 4 juvenile wheatear ; a juvenile whitethroat ; a great spotted woodpecker flying between trees in gardens in the village as the bus drove past ; a pair of cirl buntings ; and a kestrel.

Male Cirl Bunting

Insects seen included a short winged cone head (a new species for me) and a dark bush cricket. A small copper, speckled wood, small white, gatekeeper, meadow brown and a comma were struggling to fly in the strong breeze and a silver y was disturbed from the grass.

 Short Winged Cone Head

Dark Bush Cricket

Some scrots had set a fire in the toilet block using the toilet paper but there was only minimal damage and I found a marbled green, 2 small fan footed waves, a dead single dotted wave (from smoke inhalation?) and a lesser yellow underwing. I also saw what I think was a flame carpet before it flew out of the doorway and out of sight, it would have been a new moth for me if I had gotten a good view of it.

With the sunny weather I spent a few hours in the sunshine synthesising vitamin D while sitting on Plymouth Hoe admiring the stunning views on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed views of a winter plumaged Mediterranean gull flying by, a noisey adult and a noisier juvenile Sandwich tern fishing, a juvenile whitethroat feasting on some blackberries, a Jersy tiger moth and common blue butterflys.

I have also had the moth box out in the back yard a few times and have had 2 new garden moths - a very dead and dessicated peppered moth in a spiders web and a common footman. I've also had a Jersey tiger moth and at least 4 male and 3 female four spotted footman amongst more usual fare although I have as yet not had the large numbers of large yellow underwings that I usually have at this time of year.

 Peppered Moth

 Common Footman

Male and female Four Spotted Footmen

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