Sunday, 20 September 2015

Clouded Yellows - at last!

A Wembury walk on Tuesday 15th September was still quiet in overcast skies. A chiffchaff singing at Wembury Point sounded very mournful and a few others were heard calling from cover. A lone swallow flew overhead (surely they haven't left Wembury yet?) and 2  wheatears flew off inland from the top horse field.

Offshore a few gannets were flying around but the best sighting were 14 brent geese flying east low against the waves, appearing to fly in to Plymouth Sound. There were a few sightings of brent geese along the south Cornwall coast on the same day (15 at Marazion and 16 at The Lizard), maybe they were the birds I had seen? I suspect the birds may have been pale bellied types but they were too distant and low to get any detail on (the Marazion birds were pale bellied).

Despite the overcast sky a few butterflies were on the wing, noticeably red admirals, along with a small tortoiseshell, a speckled wood and some whites, but the highlight were 3, possible 4 clouded yellows, my first of the year. They were feeding on thistles in the sheltered corner of the wheatfield but were very flighty and would land on the ground in the stubble of the wheatfield where they just seemed to disappear. Very pleased to see them though and it brings my butterfly list for the year to an amazing 36 species.

 Clouded Yellow

I also had some nice views of a dark bush cricket resting on the fence post along with a longwinged conehead and 2 small common lizards, and there was a lone flounced rustic in the toilet block but the general lack of birds was a bit disappointing.

 Dark Bush Cricket

A perfect autumn day on September 19th and I decided to head out to Wembury again, ditching my original plan to visit Dawlish Warren for the high tide roost. It was a beautiful day - warm, sunny and still - and I wasn't expecting much in the way of birds but it turned out pretty good.
 Stunning views from Wembury Point
The Mewstone, Wembury

No moths were found in the toilet block which wasn't a good start but a grey wagtail feeding on the nearby beach with a pied wagtail was nice to see. Walking along the coast path towards Wembury Point and robins were very noticeable, they seemed to be everywhere and were noisey and feisty with birds regularly seen chasing each other.

 A peregrine calling overhead alerted me to its prescence along with all the roosting gulls on the beach taking to the air. It had a bird in its talons, probably a magpie, and was constantly mobbed by 4 carrion crows as it flew over. A pair of kestrel and 4 buzzads also flew over along with 4 swallows heading east and a lone house martin over Heybrook Bay.

Wembury Point was the place to be with a good range of birds seen. A whimbrel and a common sandpiper on the beach near the sewage pipe kicked things off nicely along with a juvenile/1st winter Mediterranean gull on the nearby rocks, and roosting on the rocks below the cliffs were 9 curlew, 30 oystercatcher and 6 little egrets. A meadow pipit was feeding on the beach with rock pipits and pied- and white wagtails and a few more meadow pipits were heard calling overhead.

Juvenile/1st Winter Mediterranean Gull

Stonechats were noticeable around the old HMS Cambridge rifle range and this was where the bird of the day appeared, a first winter whinchat, flying in to the top of the brambles before being chased off by nearby stonechats. A very smart bird - nice peachy flush on the breast, pale supercilium and plain upperwings with no white markings in flight.

Also around The Point were 5+ whitethroat feeding on blackberrys, 3+ chiffchaff, and 4+ blackcap (1 male) feeding on elderberrys. 3 male cirl buntings were singing with 2 seen and another nice surprise was 1+ juvenile  Dartford warblers flitting around the brambles near a party of stonechats - very active and mobile and skulking and there were probably 2 birds present.
My usual high quality snap of a Dartford Warbler

A peacock, a small tortoiseshell, a holly blue, large white, small white, 2 speckled wood, red admirals, 2 painted lady and a clouded yellow were seen along with a rush veneer, a common carpet and a silver y.

And so a good day out at Wembury at last - a nice range of birds and buterflies, a Chunk pasty and coffee for lunch and a snooze on the beach in the sunshine - perfect!

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