Friday, 21 August 2015

Moths, Waders and Butterflies

I wasn't expecting to see much in the way of wildlife with my Mum and cousin coming down to stay for a few days but on our days out I actually managed to find some good stuff.

Before they arrived I had the mothbox out in the back yard overnight and on checking through the catch on August 16th I had my first old lady of the year along with my first yellow barred brindle and Jersey tiger for the garden this year. I had hoped for some marbled greens but I was out of luck - I haven't had the mothbox out much this year due to work shifts and the often poor overnight weather and I guess I may have probably missed my chances of seeing what is one of my favourite moths this year.

Old Lady

August 17th and a late start meant our plans for a day out to the caravan at Bude went out of the window. Instead we headed off to Hope Cove for a walk on a bright and warm day. Walking along the clifftop from Hope Cove to South Huish Marsh and the scenery was stunning with a kestrel and a raven flying overhead. Arriving at South Huish Marsh and a black tailed godwit was showing well. A quick scan revealed a ruff skulking in the reeds which eventually showed well as it fed along the waters edge. A wheatear was feeding in the fields amongst the pied wagtails and eventually I managed a brief glimpse of the bird I had hoped to see - a very smart wood sandpiper. It kept disappearing behind the vegetation but eventually showed very well feeding out in the open.

Longhorn Beetle Sp.

Wood Sandpiper, South Huish Marsh
Wood Sandpiper 

After some lunch back at Hope Cove we had a walk out to Bolt Tail, seeing a whitethroat, a wheatear and a stonechat along the way. From the cliffs the sea was flat calm and bright silver in the strong sunlight and I wasn't expecting to see much but a quick scan revealed a few gannets, shags and gulls. Further scanning and I found a smart juvenile kittiwake and 2 Sandwich terns. There was also a steady trickle of small shearwaters flying east low over the water - most were a little distant and were difficult to get any detail on in the bright light but the few that were closer in were Manxies. Two distant harbour porpoises briefly surfacing were a bonus, easily seen in the bright conditions with the sea so flat.

August 18th and we headed off to Rosemoor, an RHS garden near Great Torrington in North Devon. Mum is an RHS member so had free admission to the garden along with 1 guest (me!) and hasn't visited the garden before although I have back in May 2013. The gardens were stunning in the sunshine, much more so than they were on a cold and cloudy May day in 2013, and we had a nice wander around. The highlight for me were the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies whizzing around in the warm conditions - meadow brown, gatekeeper, red admiral, peacock, small tortoiseshell, small white, large white, comma, brimstone and holly blue; common darter, and hawkers too fast to properly ID; and blue tailed- and azure damselflys.

Rosemoor Gardens


Common Darter

Common Darter

Blue Tailed Damselfly

Azure Damselfly

Best of all were at least 8 silver washed fritillary - most were a little tatty and worse for wear but a few were fairly decent looking. A worn female was seen egg laying and 2 pairs were seen in amorous displays.
Silver Washed Fritillary

Silver Washed Fritillary

Silver Washed Fritillary

And so not a bad range of wildlife sightings, most of which was unexpected, and with some decent weather too.

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