Saturday, 11 July 2015

Ashclyst Forest - The Right Coloured Admiral !

The weather forecast wasn't great for Saturday 11th July (breezey, sunny spells but clouding over as the day progressed) but I decided to head off to Ashclyst Forest near Exeter for a butterfly walk anyway.

An early wake up call at 04:45 from the noisey neighbourhood herring gulls was annoying, it seemed to be a lot of territorial calling rather than alarm or danger and didn't involve the young bird still residing on the flat roof.

A train to Exeter and there was no problem with the service today after the 48 hour strike by First Great Western staff over the last couple of days. A bus ride to Budlake and I arrived at 09:00, setting off with my map and instructions for the Forests butterfly trail downloaded from the National Trust website. As usual my crap sense of direction and crap map reading skills did not let me down and I got lost but eventually I entered the Forest and within 5 minutes I had seen my first white admiral along with a silver washed fritillary - result!

 My first ever White Admiral

 White Admiral

 White Admiral

White Admiral

On my walk around the Forest I managed quite a few sightings of both species but mostly it was brief fly past views. Occasionally I had some good views as they fed on bramble flowers or basked in the trees and I found the best times to see them well was a few minutes after the sun appeared from behind the clouds as they warmed up and a few minutes after the sun disappeared behind the clouds as they cooled down.

 Silver Washed Fritillary and Comma

 Silver Washed Fritillary with a faded patch on upper right wing

 Silver Washed Fritillary

Two Silver Washed Fritillary

It certainly was a butterfly trail with sightings of large skipper, small skipper, small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, red admiral, large white, small white, ringlet, meadow brown, gatekeeper, marbled white and painted lady. I also had 2 possible sightings of purple hairstreak - a brief view of a small butterfly flying up from the bracken into an oak tree and a brief view of a small butterfly flying around the top of an oak tree when disturbed by a bird.

 Marbled White


A pair of burnet moths were seen mating, I think they were 5 spot burnet and not the usual 6 spot variety. A Jersey tiger moth was also seen flitting past.

Five Spot Burnet?

Five Spot Burnet?

Birds seen were an adult spotted flycatcher feeding a noisey fledgling in the trees, a treecreeper, nuthatches, siskins, blackcaps and chiffchaffs. A stock dove was heard coo-ing and jays were heard screeching.

A few common spotted orchids were still in flower although they were starting to go over.

Common Spotted Orchid

Heading home and I stopped off at Dawlish Warren for a quick walk, seeing from the train  the resident Slavonian grebe in summer plumage at Cockwood and a common tern roosting with Sandwich terns in the saltmarsh at Dawlish Warren golf course on the way.

At Dawlish Warren the marsh helleborine were flowering well and I added a small copper to the list of butterfly sightings for the day. A reed warbler was singing in the reeds by the main pool and I saw a few blue tailed damselfly and a common darter nearby.

 Marsh Helleborine

Common Darter

And so an excellent but tiring day with more sunshine than forecast and a new butterfly species to add to my UK list.

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