Saturday, 9 August 2014

A Duo of Sandpipers (Alas)

Having worked for 9 days out of the last 10 I have had no free time to get out and about but finally, with 3 days off from the 8th August, I managed to get to Stoke Point for a walk along the cliff path and lunch in The Ship Inn at Noss Mayo with David.

The sea was flat calm and there were a few large groups of gulls offshore in a bit of a feeding frenzy with the odd adult and juvenile gannets passing by. A few minutes of scanning while David collected bits of gorse twigs for kindling and I managed a few brief and distant views of around 4 small shearwaters flying low over the water before they just seemed to disappear. Best of all though were around 6 harbour porpoise in 2 pods moving West through the water. They were distant and gave the usual brief views as they surfaced but they are the first sightings I have had in the Plymouth area.

Stonechats were much in evidence along the cliffs and included many juveniles so it looks like they have a good breeding season this year but despite searching I couldn't find any Dartford warblers. A lone male and a pair of cirl buntings were seen along with a male yellowhammer carrying a beakful of food and with very short tail feathers. A few whitethroats were seen but were very skulking while 2 kestrel, 2 ravens and buzzards passed overhead.

Butterflies were much in evidence including 3 clouded yellows along with plenty of wall brown, meadow brown and gatekeeper. A rose chafer was a first for me as it fed in a bramble flower and there were more Autumn squill in flower along the usual bank than I have ever seen before.

 Rose Chafer
 Autumn Squill
Jersey Tiger Moth, Noss Mayo

Saturday 9th August and I headed off the South Efford Marsh at Aveton Gifford for a look around in the hope of finding a wood sandpiper. I visited the Marsh exactly a year ago and had good views of wood, green and common sandpipers but this time there were 3 green- and 3 common sandpipers on show but no wood sandpiper. None have been reported from South Efford so far this Autumn although they seem to be cropping up elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall so I guess I will have to try again later in the month.

A greenshank and an oystercatcher were seen along the River with curlews roosting on the Marsh and a pair of winter plumaged dunlin busily feeding. A kingfisher gave some good views fishing along a drainage ditch and other birds of note were a stock dove and a pair of bullfinch. A worn female golden ringed dragonfly with a damaged ovipositor (presumably from ovipositing) gave some amazing close views and I was most annoyed to find I had left my camera at home! An helice form of clouded yellow and a common blue damselfly likewise gave some amazing close view and a usual form of clouded yellow was also seen flying by.

Other wildlife highlights from the last 2 weeks include a swift over Mutley Plain on the way to work on the 7th, most likely my last of the year, what looked like a dead barn owl by the side of the A38 near Smithaleigh as we drove by, and a peregrine watching the pigeons from The Guildhall Tower while I waited for the bus to work in the morning.

Back yard mothing has been uneventful with Jersey Tiger, mullein wave, rusty dot pearl, lime speck pug, marbled green and a new for me pebble hooktip being the highlights.

 Mullein Wave
Pebble Hooktip

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