Monday, 1 July 2013

June Moths and Flowers

The moth trap in the back yard came up trumps again with a new for me (and the back yard) grey pine carpet, helpfully ID'd with assistance from the Back Garden Moths Community Forum. I also had my first angle shades and bee moth of the year.

 Grey Pine Carpet
Angle Shades

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.

 Burnet Companion
 Southern Marsh Orchid
Bee 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.

Small Heath

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.

 Cinnabar Moth
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.

Wild Strawberry

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.

Billacombe Quarry

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!

 Pyramidal Orchid
 Pyramidal Orchids
Pyramidal Orchids
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
 Enoplops scapha
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.
 Large Skipper
 Large Skipper

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.

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