Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wembury, July 27th 2016

A day to myself but crap weather meant my plans for a trip to Ashclyst Forest went out of the window. Instead I decided to head off to Wembury but it was raining as I left the house to catch the bus and I nearly changed my mind but I carried on anyway and I'm glad I did as the weather improved and the sun did show itself for brief periods.

No moths in the toilet block as expected but a green woodpecker heard yaffling near the church was nice to hear. I did see a rush veneer along the footpath which I disturbed from the grass and a few six-spot burnets were flitting about and feeding on thistle flowers.

Six-spot Burnet

Plenty of butterflies were on the wing in the humid conditions and I had nice views of a very fresh male common blue, 2 small coppers, 2 peacock, a small white, 2 green veined white, 4 red admiral, gatekeepers, meadow browns, 100+ large whites and a ringlet. The large number of large whites were mostly seen flitting around the field in the old HMS Cambridge grounds which is currently covered in yellow marigold-like flowers but with a few more seen along rest of the walk.




Large White Field

Bloody nose beetles were seen including quite a few squashed on the footpath by clumsy walkers and on the fence posts were an adult and 4 young and very small common lizards. Field grasshoppers were much in evidence also, being quite variable in their colouring.

 Young Common Lizard

Field Grasshopper

At Wembury Point on the high tide 56 oystercatchers were roosting with a common sandpiper while off The Mewstone fulmars were flying around the cliffs. Offshore gannets were flying around, mostly adults but with a few dark juveniles and a few variably marked sub-adults. It was good to see my first Wembury Manx shearwaters of the year offshore also, moving west in a steady trickle either singlely or in small groups of 2 to 9 birds. I counted 34 birds in a ten minute period and I must have seen around 200 birds in my casual scanning as I walked along the footpath. Most were a little distant but a few were close in on the seaward side of The Mewstone.

Whitethroats and chiffchaffs were seen including quite a few juveniles/fledglings and it was nice to see 4 family groups of stonechats along the walk. A lone house martin over Heybrook Bay and a lone swallow over the horse stables were seen along with a juvenile blackcap and juvenile goldfinches with 9 eclipse male and female mallards along the beach. Also along the beach amongst a small flock of adult black headed gulls was an adult Mediterranean gull moulting into winter plumage, unringed and disturbed as usual by dog walkers when it flew off towards Plymouth and out of sight.

 Mediterranean Gull

Male Linnet

A kestrel and a buzzard were hovering overhead at Wembury Point and I had a brief view of a sparrowhawk hunting along a the hillside, hopefully not catching the 2 singing male cirl buntings for its lunch.

I jammily got the last Chunk pasty from the cafe for my lunch and after a coffee too I headed off home, having had a very enjoyable walk. And with juvenile yellow legged gulls now cropping up along the South Devon coast it was good to read a great entry on the Axe Birding website giving a masterclass in YLGull ID and I also found 2 fantastic photos on the Portland Bird Observatory website showing a classic yellow legged compared to a classic herring - oh to find one of my own!

 Juvenile Yellow Legged Gull (courtesy of Portland Bird Observatory Website)

Juvenile Herring Gull (courtesy of Portland Bird Observatory Website)

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