Monday, 24 June 2013

June Wildlife Sightings - Part 2

June 17th and we headed off to the caravan in Bude for a few days. The weather was cool, windy and showery in the evening but I still headed off for a walk around some nearby farm buildings to look for barn owls which are frequently reported from around the nearby area. I was out of luck but I did see a few pipistrelle bats flitting about along the lanes as dusk fell and there was a very picturesque sunset when the clouds parted briefly.

The following day was cloudy but calm and a walk along the cliffs disturbed a few silver y moths from the vegetation by the footpath. A few gannets and fulmars were seen offshore and some sticklebacks were seen in the stream flowing down to Crooklets Beach.

Male Stickleback - brightly coloured and smaller than the females

Walking back to the caravan via Maer Lake in the afternoon and the sun was shining at last. The lesser whitethroat was again singing from the roadside hedgerow and I managed a very brief and obscured view as it moved through the vegetation. On the Lake a pair of teal was a surprise along with a redshank on the lakeside mud while a sparrowhawk flew over causing panic.

It remained still for our evening clifftop walk and the sea was flat calm and looking like a polished mirror. Small groups of Manx shearwaters were picked out flying low over the water heading towards Lundy. While scanning I picked out 2 pods of harbour porpoise, 1 close in to shore near some fishing buoys and 1 further out. I saw 3 individuals at the surface together, 1 in the closer pod and 2 in the further pod, with an estimate of 10 altogether (4 close in and 6 further out) but the views were characteristically brief as they rolled to breathe at the waters surface. However 1 was seen logging at the surface for around 20 seconds before disappearing from view.

Scanning for barn owls on the nearby farmland on the walk back to the caravan and I again failed to find any but I did see a fox watching some grazing sheep.

That night I had the moth box out and in the morning I had a nice haul including a few new ones - clouded silver, middle barred minor and cream spot tiger moth - along with poplar- and elephant hawkmoths, rivulet,  buff tip, small angle shades, straw dot and white ermine amongst others.

 Poplar Hawkmoth
 White Ermine
 Elephant Hawkmoth
 Elephant Hawkmoth
Elephant Hawkmoth

 Cream Spot Tiger Moth
 Cream Spot Tiger Moth playing dead
 Middle Barred Minor
Small Angle Shades - very handsome and one of my favourite moths

The morning was bright and sunny and stayed that way all day so we walked along the Bude Canal to Marhamchurch to see the canal incline. In the 20+ years we have been visiting Bude we have never done this walk and it was quite enjoyable with some good wildlife. Bird wise I saw kingfisher, bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker and reed warblers along with my first meadow brown butterfly and beautiful demoiselle of the year.
 Meadow Brown
 Azure Damselfly
Scorpion Fly

June 24th and I headed off to Wembury for a walk. The forecast was for sunny spells so I wore my shorts but it was quite cool and the sun failed to materialise. The only butterfly I saw was a speckled wood and there was a common wave in the toilet block which I caught and released outside. The clifftop collapses along the footpath have resulted in many of the clumps of birds foot trefoil being swept away so I wasn't sure if I would find any 6 spot burnet moths but I eventually found a very smart adult feeding on a flower head.

 Common Wave
Six-Spot Burnet Moth

A redhead red breasted merganser had been reported at Wembury Point over the weekend so I had a scan for it and eventually found it feeding amongst the rocks as the tide went out, a very strange sight in June in South Devon! It was nice to see a few fledgling birds around too - swallow, linnet, song thrush, whitethroat and robin fledglings were all seen - and chiffchaff, blackcap and whitethroat were all heard singing too. 2 grey heron and 2 little egrets were feeding in the rock pools and oystercatchers were noisy and flighty along the shoreline.

Juvenile Swallows waiting to be fed by their parents
Male Linnet

A few insects were seen including a new for me - and very attractive - sloe bug, and various plants were in flower including sheepsbit and common broomrape.

 Sloe Bug
 Stinking Iris
 Common Broomrape
Cinquefoil sp.

And the good news is the Old Mill Cafe will be reopening in July and they will be selling Chunk pastys - all will be right with the world very soon!

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