Thursday, 21 July 2016

Heat Wave Moths and Butterflies

July 18th and an even hotter day than before and it was time to hit the beach. We headed over to Cawsands in Cornwall on the ferry from The Barbican in Plymouth and it was a beautiful and sunny and still day. Not much in the way of birdlife in the sweltering heat but a buzzard high overhead was probably enjoying the cooler air up there if not the noisy attentions of herring gulls. It was so hot I even had a swim in the sea, something I haven't done in this country for many a year now.

Walking back from Cawsands to Cremyll through Mount Edgcumbe Park was hot and sweaty but good for butterflies with marbled whites, ringlets, meadow browns, gatekeepers,  a small tortiseshell, large skippers, large whites and red admirals all being seen but there was no sign of any purple hairstreaks around the oak tree where I saw them last year. A consolation was seeing a silver washed fritillary dashing across the bracken covered hillside but it didn't settle and was soon lost from sight. More obliging was my first male four spotted footman of the year flitting about the buildings at Derrys Cross in Plymouth.

Four Spotted Footman - male

I had the moth box out in the back yard overnight and in the morning of July 19th I had a small but varied catch with an eyed hawkmoth and a cinnabar moth being new for the back yard and other highlights being buff tip, dot moth, small yellow wave, 2 marbled green and coronet.

Marbled Green

Marbled Green

Buff Arches

Four Spotted Footman - female

Cinnabar Moth

Buff Tip

Buff Tip

Eyed Hawkmoth - found on bushes by moth trap and with damage to right wing

Small Yellow Wave

Coronet - a beautiful looking moth

Despite the heat I headed off by bus to Wembury for a walk and there were lots of butterflies on the wing with small skipper, small copper, red admiral, gatekeeper, ringlet, large white and common blue all seen. A dwarf cream wave and a buff ermine were found in the toilet block which I caught and released outside and along the walk I saw six spot burnets, a silver y and a knot grass caterpillar.

 Dwarf Cream Wave

 Red Admiral

 Small Copper

Knot Grass Caterpillar

A few birds were seen too including 2 whimbrels along the beach, gannets distantly offshore including a few all dark juveniles, a male kestrel trying to hunt for prey at Wembury Point despite the noisy attentions of 2 juveniles, chiffchaffs, whitethroats, stonechats and at least 2 singing male cirl buntings.

David and Julie arrived in the car and we enjoyed a pasty and coffee for lunch before having a paddle in the sea in the increasing heat. It was soon too hot and so after enjoying an ice cream we headed off back home to seek out some shade and cool down.

Back to work in the morning - not looking forward to it!

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