Sunday, 21 October 2012

An Elephant at Wembury

A bright and sunny day but with a very strong Southerly wind meant a walk from Wembury Point to Bovisands and back was pretty much bird free. A flyby raven being mobbed by a pair of carrion crows, a few stonechats trying to stay upright on the brambles, a flyover grey wagtail and curlew and oystercatchers feeding on the rocks were the best of it. Offshore some distant gannets were seen and I did a bit of scanning, hoping to see a windblown skua or shearwater - I did get a brief and distant view of what looked like a small and dark shearwater banking up out of the wave troughs before disappearing back out of sight, it looked good for a sooty shearwater but was never to be seen again - oh, well.

A speckled wood was sunning itself out of the wind but the best insect sighting of the day was a very nice elephant hawkmoth caterpillar walking over the tarmac at Wembury Point, something I have hoped to see for some time now. It was surprisingly large and heavy and looked ready to pupate, it would not stay still for a second so it was difficult to get a good photo of it, and so I placed it in the nearby vegetation. It really looked like an elephants head and trunk hence its name.

Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Looking very elephant like

It amazes me that the caterpillar will become one of these! (One I caught in my Mums garden)
The following day we headed off to Bude to put the caravan to bed for the winter, the wind had dropped and it was still bright and sunny, and a few small tortoiseshells were on the wing. The chemical toilet waste block held a nice selection of moths including a black rustic, 2 feathered ranunculus, a setaceous Hebrew character, a common marbled carpet and a dead frosted orange.

Best moths were 2 Blairs shoulderknots, a new moth for me. First recorded on the Isle Of Wight in 1951 they have expanded their range across Southern England, no doubt due the increase in leylandii trees in gardens which are one of their foodplants.

 Blairs Shoulderknot showing pinky underside
Dead Frosted Orange
 Unknown chrysallis - Large White?
Unknown chrysallis - Small Tortoiseshell?

Just before we left the caravan site to head back to Plymouth I found 2 small moths on a dandelion flower which I think are nettle tap, another new (micro) moth species for me.

Nettle Tap

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