Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Yet More Butterflies!

With a few days left of our week off work we headed off for some local walks, starting with Stoke Point on the 22nd July. Usually we walk from Stoke Point to Noss Mayo but this time we went in the opposite direction towards Mothecombe. It was warm and humid with thick mist at times but the walk was pleasant if a little hard going in places as it was very hilly and circuitous, unlike the nice walk along the flat, level Lord Revelstokes Drive to Noss Mayo. The scenery was quite stunning when we could see it and again there were lots of butterflies around - gatekeeper, meadow brown, a peacock, ringlet, small white, small tortoiseshell, red admiral and small copper, the latter having been noticeable by its absence this year so far. A few six spot burnets were on the wing including a mating pair.


3 ravens flew over croaking and a singing male cirl bunting showed very well. Offshore a few gannets were seen along with 3 adult summer plumaged Mediterranean gulls flying East. Stonechats and whitethroats were flitting about amongst the gorse clad cliffs and David found a small slow worm by the footpath, a little bit worse for wear but my first of the year.

Slow Worm

Tuesday 23rd July and we headed off to Badgers Holt for a cream tea and a walk down the River Dart. A large, orange butterfly whizzed past in the hot sunshine before disappearing out of sight, presumably a fritillary species (high brown, dark green or silver washed?). I did later see a comma but I am sure the other butterfly was not of this species and was a fritillary of some sort. Ringlet, meadow brown, small white, a peacock and large skipper were also seen along with golden ringed dragonfly and beautiful demoiselle. Birdwise the best sighting were 2 male yellowhammers feeding on same grain on the path near Badgers Holt tea rooms. A healthy antidote to the cream tea we ate was provided by lots of bilberries we snaffled on our walk along the riverside.

 Beautiful Demoiselle
Wednesday 24th and I headed off to Wembury for a walk. It was cooler than of late and misty but still warm and humid as the heatwave continues.With a sense of deja vu I found a (faded) meal moth in the toilet block and 2 six spot burnets were on the wing. Butterflies were again much in evidence with 3 male common blue, 2 small copper, a red admiral, 2 peacock, gatekeeper, meadow brown, large white, small white, a wall brown, a painted lady, a large skipper and ringlets on the wing.
 Large Skipper
 Wall Brown
 Painted Lady
 Male Common Blue
Small Copper - form caeruleopunctata with a row of blue spots on the hindwings

Birdwise a redshank and a dunlin were heard but not seen on the rocks at Wembury Point as the tide went out with 2 dunlins later seen flying West offshore. 2 little egret and a whimbrel were seen amongst the rocks along with oystercatcher, curlew and a female mallard with 8 quite well grown ducklings. In the mist offshore I picked up a group of 10 Manx shearwater flying West low over the water which was a nice surprise. Another highlight were 3 noisy fledgling kestrels perched in the pine trees at The Point, presumably from the nearby cliff nest I found a few weeks ago. Not so keen on the kestrels was a noisy juvenile green woodpecker which was chased by one of them before reaching the safety of a tree. Plenty of whitethroats were seen in small family groups and a male cirl bunting was heard but not seen. After a pasty and coffee at The Old Mill Cafe it was time to go home, back to work tomorrow unfortunately, but it has been an excellent week of wildlife watching.
Fledgling Kestrel

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