Grey Pine Carpet
June 25th and I headed off to Plymouth City Councils Blagdons Meadow nature reserve for a look around, disturbing quite a few burnet companion moths from the vegetation as I walked along the footpaths. I was on the look out for orchids and found quite a few Southern marsh orchids, they were quite a pale lilac colour unlike the purple ones I found here earlier in the month, I don't know if the colour fades over time. I also found just one bee orchid, looking a little forlorn and stunted.
Southern Marsh Orchid
A few common blues were on the wing along with a small tortoiseshell, a green veined white and my first small heath of the year.
I decided to walk across Laira Bridge to the nearby Billacombe Railway Line, another Plymouth City Council nature reserve, and saw a cinnabar moth fluttering by and three mullein moth caterpillars feeding on mullein by the footpath near Cattedown playing fields.
Mullein Moth Caterpillar
I had a look around Billacombe Railway Line nature reserve for the pyramidal orchids which supposedly are found here but I had no luck, finding a few Southern marsh orchids only. A speckled wood and a few small heaths were on the wing and I had a mini-feast on mini wild strawberries growing amongst the rocks.
I climbed up to a ridge overlooking Billacombe Quarry to see what has been going on, the Quarry has been cleared, filled in and flattened off ready for house building, a real shame and a loss of a great habitat but I guess that is progress for you.
Heading back to Laira Bridge to catch the bus home I had a pleasant surprise when I found a burnet moth flitting about on a small patch of uncut roadside verge and then, almost overlooked, a few clumps of very attractive pyramidal orchids flowering away right by the side of the road!
With the bus service to Wembury now running on Sundays again I decided to head off on the bus on the 30th June for a walk. It was cloudy and breezy, but with the promise of sunshine later on I was hopeful of seeing some insect life. Unfortunately with it being Sunday it was busy with walkers and beach goers but it didn't spoil my walk too much and I saw some good wildlife when the sun came out from the clouds.
Bird wise it was quiet as expected but 19 oystercatcher and 6 curlew were roosting on the rocks at Wembury Point. I found a nesting pair of kestrels and later saw the female swoop down to the ground a few metres in front of me before flying off clutching a fledgling wren, a tasty meal for the young in the nest no doubt. Chiffchaff and blackcap were heard and whitethroats were seen and heard, and offshore an adult and a (brown plumaged) juvenile gannet were seen.
False Oil Beetle
Dark Bush Cricket Nymph
A few butterflies were on the wing including my first large skipper of the year along with speckled wood, meadow brown, small tortoiseshell, a small white and a male common blue. A straw dot and a bloodvein were found in the toilet block which I caught and released outside and a lone six spot burnet moth was seen on the wing.
I found 5 large and distinctive caterpillars and on checking my guide books I think they are oak eggar moths - 2 were unfortunately squashed on the footpath and 2 I rescued as they crossed the footpath with 1 very sensible one seen in a sloe bush by the footpath. Depressia daucella caterpillars were also seen on the dropwort flower heads and I found some mullein moth caterpillars feeding on mullein.
Oak Eggar Caterpillar
Mullein moth caterpillar
Heading home after a Chunk pasty for lunch from the cafe I saw the pyramidal orchids still flowering on the roadside verge near Plymouth, a nice finish to a pleasant end-of-June walk.