Sunday 18 December 2011

Finally - a life tick in Devon for 2011 !

I worked 4 night shifts, finishing on the Monday morning before attending a study day on the Tuesday and doing a late shift on the Wednesday so by Thursday (15th December) I was knackered to say the least. As a result I now have 2 lovely cold sores, one on my top lip right in the middle and a matching one on the lower lip - nice.

On the Thursday (15th) we headed out for a Christmas lunch at Greenway, a National Trust property which was once owned by Agatha Christie. On the way I saw a peregrine and a sparrowhawk from the car. Lunch was lovely, I had woodpigeon for my starter and duck for my main and it was delicious. We also had a mini-tour around the house after the meal which was very interesting. On getting home we headed out in the pouring rain to the Christmas market in Plymouth for drinks and food with our friend Julie, ending up with cocktails in The Treasury which was very nice but when I got home at just after 10pm I felt absolutely knackered.

Saturday (17th) I still felt knackered and as David had worked a night shift on Friday night we had a mini-walk around Saltram with tea and cake in the tea room to warm up as it was cold and showery at times, some of the showers being stinging hail. Bird wise I saw the long staying spotted sandpiper at the beginning of the walk, feeding on the mud as the tide headed out. On the return walk I didn't see it again but I did flush a common sandpiper feeding on the mud by the footpath. Also seen were 7 little grebes, 2 greenshanks, 1 kingfisher and little egrets along the river and nuthatch and redwings in Saltram Park.

Sunday (18th) and David was on a long day so I headed off for the day on the train to the River Exe. I have been given a days annual leave tomorrow which I didn't ask for but the weather forecast is pretty dire so I decided to make the most of today, ignoring all the jobs that need doing and enjoying myself instead.

The train to Dawlish Warren was a smelly Crosscountry train, I don't know why the toilets smell so much on these trains. Anyway, it got me to Dawlish Warren on time at 10:23 hrs and I had a good 3 hour wander around the reserve. The tide was high and the sea was flat calm and the sun was shining. On the sea a Slavonian grebe was close in to the shore off groyne 3 in the company of a great crested grebe, showing very well in the bright sunlight. Further out a second Slavonian grebe was found and another great crested grebe. Around 4 guillemots were seen but they were surprisingly mobile, flying off for short distances before diving again so numbers were difficult to assess accurately. Also seen was a cracking great northern diver quite close to shore, looking very smart in the strong sunlight as it busily ate crabs it brought up to the surface although one crab was stolen from it by a lurking juvenile herring gull. Flying around offshore and too far out for a good view were around 12 scoters, I couldn't make out any white wing flashes and 1 of them may have been the returning female surf scoter which has recently been seen again, now in its 5th winter.

The waders were roosting on the island in front of the hide at high tide - oystercatcher, knot, grey plover, turnstone, redshank and dunlin. Some of the oystercatchers were sporting various leg rings.

Oystercatchers in front of the hide at Dawlish Warren


Redshank, Turnstone and Oystercatcher in front of the hide

Brent geese, shelduck and wigeon were also seen around the waters edge and 9 skylark were feeding on the shingle beach just in front of the hide. Out on the river a pair of red-breasted merganser were seen. I had no luck with the American wigeon that has been knocking around in Shutterton Creek for a while now but I wasn't surprised at not seeing it as it has been quite difficult to get views of.

A little grebe was on the main pond with 2 Canada geese and moorhens, and a water rail squealed from the reeds but wasn't seen. A green woodpecker yaffled as it flew over and a great spotted woodpecker was flitting through the trees around the pond.

I caught the bus to Exminster marshes as there have been reports of up to 4 short eared owls being seen on the marsh and within 5 minutes of getting off the bus I was watching one quartering over the marsh, a life tick for me. I watched it from the railway bridge on Station Road and the owl was flying around the marsh to the North towards the M5. It was occassionally mobbed by carrion crows and at times rested on the ground or on fence posts and it showed very well if a little distantly. It had a lovely buoyant flight very like a hen harrier or barn owl and its plumage was quite striking in the strong sunlight. It regularly stalled in the air, folding its wings back and plunging to the the ground but it didn't appear to catch anything. I was surprised to see it so soon on arriving as it was only 13:45hrs and quite sunny, I had been expecting to find them nearer to dusk but I was not going to complain as it meant I could leave earlier to get back to Plymouth. I tried getting closer views of the owl by walking across the marsh along the public footpaths but eventually my way was blocked by a big water ditch. A bonus was disturbing a water rail from the ditch which flew off before disappearing into the vegetation.

Other birds seen were wigeon, teal, mallard and shoveler, lapwing and curlew and a large flock of around 70 linnets. A large peregrine flew across the marsh putting up all the birds before it settled on a pylon for a preen, presumably a female based on its chunky build. Redwings were feeding on the berries in the hedgerows, including sloe berries, and a few fieldfare were seen with them although they were all very nervous and flighty. A pair of kestrels mobbed a buzzard.

I left at 15:30hrs to catch the bus to Exeter, having to tear myself away as the short eared owl continued to show well quartering over the marsh and I caught the train home to Plymouth (another smelly Crosscountry train) and I arrived home at 18:00hrs, tired and cold but I had had a good day with a life tick to boot.

Monday 12 December 2011

A Devon tick and a fungus walk

On the 6th December we headed off to Totnes for a bit of Christmas shopping and on the way I managed to persuade David to drive via Aveton Gifford so I could have a look for the juvenile Bewicks swan that had been reported there. Driving along the road by the river it was quickly found in amongst the mute swans, its dirty white plumage sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the white adult mute swans.

It was sleeping amongst the mute swans on the mud on the opposite side of the river, its head tucked under its wing so I couldn't see its bill but it was noticeably smaller. After a few minutes it woke up showing its yellow based pink and black bill and proceded to call noisely, bobbing its head and neck up and down before all the swans took to the water and swam off down river and out of sight.

I was very pleased to see it as it is my first Bewicks swan in Devon, I've only seen Bewicks swans at Slimbridge and once at Welney.

The 7th December I headed off to Wembury on the bus for a walk along the coast while David had his tooth sorted out at the dentists. The weather was cool and breezey and overcast with showers but it did brighten up. Bird wise it was quiet except for a song thrush singing away and a starling doing the same thing amongst a flock of around 20 feeding on the seaweed mass on the beach, it was in summer plumage with its blue based yellow bill and spangley summer plumage, most odd in December. 11 cirl buntings showed well as they bathed in the muddy puddles along the path near the HMS Cambridge wheat field, 4 male and 7 females. A goldcrest with very orange feet was seen feeding in the trees in a garden by the road leading down to the beach.

One notable feature of the walk was the amount of fungi growing in the fields and along the footpath, I don't know what the names of them are but some were quiet colourful and there was quite a variety. I guess the mild, wet Autumn has produced a good show as I don't remember seeing so many before and certainly not in December.

Fungus sp.

Fungus sp.

Fungus sp.

Fungus sp.

Fungus sp.
Fungus sp.

Fungus sp.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Tallinn 1st - 4th December 2011

Tallinn was an interesting experience too, similar but different to Riga. It was still cold but again we had no snow and the Christmas markets were better than Riga but still not a patch on those in Germany.

The Old City of Tallinn

Bird wise it was much the same with only 20 species seen but with a few highlights. The same birds as seen in Riga were black-headed gull, herring gull, common gull, house sparrow, great tit, blue tit, feral pigeon, mallard, hooded crow and jackdaw, with again some being of the Nordic type with pale collars.

Mallards in the sunshine feeding on the shore of the Baltic Sea

A trip to the seaplane museum just outside the old city was interesting with some good bird sightings. On the sea a pair of swans caused some excitement as I hoped they were Bewicks but they turned out to be plain old mute swans. Cormorants were seen flying over the waves and drying their wings on buoys. Also on the sea were small groups of goldeneye, some close to shore and all adult males except for 1 female and 1 immature male developing its white cheek patches. Further out were small groups of long tailed ducks, both males and females. A male and female goosander were also seen. All the ducks were attended by herring gulls, no doubt waiting to try and grab any food the ducks brought to the surface. A patch of weedy wasteground near the museum held a small flock of around 10 tree sparrows feeding amongst the dead vegetation and a goldfinch was seen perched in a nearby tree while great tits fed in the branches. Blackbirds were seen feeding on berries in some shrubbery.

A small flock of hooded crows and jackdaws seen feeding in Kadriorg Park had a few rooks amongst them while a small flock of around 10 greenfinches were seen flying over the tree tops. While checking out the common gulls on Swan Lake in Kadriorg Park I noticed a single herring gull which had a streaked head and yellow legs and on checking the guide book it was of the omissus race found in the East Baltic. I had not really paid much attention to the herring gulls so maybe more of them were of this race. Certainly the herring gulls had darker grey upperparts than in the UK, being of the argentatus race of Northern Europe rather than the argenteus race of Western Europe.

Juvenile Common Gull in Kadriorg Park
And so we returned home to the UK on the 4th December, this time flying with Estonia Air and SAS via Stockholm, with herring gulls and hooded crows seen at Stockhom airport while we were in transit. The flights were ok again and we returned to Heathrow and not Gatwick which made it easier for us to get back to Plymouth.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

A trip to Ipswich and The Baltics

I never got to Mansands due to work commitments and the desert wheatear finally moved on after a couple of days - never mind.

We headed up to Ipswich by train on the 25th November to spend a few days with Mum and Dad pre-Christmas. It was a beautiful clear sunny day which may have been why I saw over 20 red kites from the train between Westbury and London Paddington, the most I have ever see. Also seen were 9 greenshanks along the River Exe, a stock dove near Newton Abbot and fallow deer in Powderham Park. I kept a look out for partridges, especially from the train between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich but with no luck.

Mum was poorly with an upset stomach so when we got to her house we walked over to the nearby Tesco store to stretch our legs and found a decomposing corpse of a muntjac deer by the side of the A12.

I kept an eye open for partridges over the next couple of days as we travelled around Suffolk but had no luck again. I did see quite a few common gulls though, a gull I don't see that often here in Devon.

Monday 28th November and we headed off to Gatwick Airport for our Air Baltic flight to Riga in Latvia. We were a little apprehensive as Air Baltic are the Easyjet of The Baltic States and Gatwick is not our favourite airport but the airport and the flight were actually ok.

Riga was very nice, cold but with no snow. The Art Noveau architecture was excellent, the highlight of the trip. The Christmas markets were not so great, not a patch on those in Germany but we had a good time sightseeing and exploring. I had an upset stomach one night but David was fine, it didn't stop me doing anything but I did save some money by not eating or drinking much the next day. An interesting sight were lampreys and zander (pike perch) in the fish market part of the central market, the zander were alive in tanks of water and the lampreys were alive and gasping in crates on the benches, I have never seen either before and at least they were fresh if you wanted to eat them.

Art Noveau architecture

Art Noveau architecture

Bird wise I didn't see much as I had expected. A total of 12 species were seen - blue tit, great tit, house sparrow, hooded crow, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, mallard, feral pigeon and jackdaw. Some of the jackdaws had the pale collars of the so called Nordic Jackdaw race. Also seen was a surprise shelduck which flew across the bridge over the main river as we walked over it, a brief view only as it dropped down to the water on the other side to where we were walking, the traffic prevented me from crossing over to have a better look. Best bird was a goshawk which flew over the tops of the buildings as we wandered around the city, a large, chunky, powerful bird with the typical hawk like flight and only the 3rd goshawk I have seen. They are supposed to be quite shy and wary birds but I know they are quite tame and common in the centre of Berlin although I never saw one when I was there, maybe they are less shy and wary in Riga too.

Hooded Crow - very common around the city and usually quite tame

So not a bad trip so far and on the 1st December we headed back to the airport for our flight to Tallinn in Estonia, again with Air Baltic and again not a bad flight.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Burrator 20th November 2011

A beautiful day but unfortunately a Sunday so the news of a desert wheatear at Mansands in South Devon was a no go for me for various reasons. Mansands is a bit of a pain to get too, there is nothing there to entertain David although he was happy to take me there and I had visions of it being packed full of twitchers due to the weather and being Sunday and I just could not face all that hassle. Having been to see the green heron last year at Heligan in Cornwall and putting up with the crowds with their telescopes and cameras and tripods blocking the views for the poor souls who arrived after them while they japped away to each other about the fabulous time they had had in the Scilly Isles that year was too much for me to put up with today.

So we had a walk around Burrator reservoir instead and it was a very pleasant walk with not too many people around and we had a nice ice-cream again in the sunshine at the end of the walk while watching the star bird of the day, a great northern diver, from the dam. It had been reported a few days ago but I wasn't sure if it would still be around but there it was and it showed very well, spending long periods just swimming around with the occassional dive. It is the first time I have seen one here on the reservoir.

Other birds included a kingfisher (heard), crossbills (heard overhead but not seen), 3 little grebes, 4 male tufted duck, 4 male and 3 female teal, a juvenile cormorant, 2 white feral geese, mallards, an adult great black backed gull with an adult and 2nd winter herring gull and black headed gulls and 2 male and 3 redhead goosanders, the males looking resplendent in the strong sunshine.

Also heard was a great spotted woodpecker and jays with siskins and nuthatches seen and heard in the trees. A red admiral flew over in the warm sunshine.

The desert wheatear is still around so maybe I'll have a trip out to Mansands sometime..............

Saturday 19 November 2011

Wembury 19th November 2011

David was on a long day today so I caught the bus to Wembury for a walk as the weather was quite bright and sunny. It clouded up half way through my walk but it stayed dry so it wasn't too bad.

A moth flitted past while walking along the road to the beach, not sure what it was but I got a crap photo, I think it looks like a carpet species. In the toilet block a plume moth was on the ceiling by one of the lights but one of the bulbs in one of the lights has gone, I hope they change it before next Spring as it is the light nearest the door!
Unknown moth sp

Bird wise 2 goldcrests were seen in the bushes along the road to the beach and another was seen along the cliff top by HMS Cambridge. A male blackcap was seen feeding in the bushes too before it skulked away and out of sight. Overhead birds included 2 ravens, a rook, a female kestrel and a buzzard.

Best bird was seen at Wembury Point, a Brent goose that flew overhead from the direction of Plymouth and then promptly landed on the beach for a rest! First sighting of a Brent goose I have had at Wembury.

Also seen were a record 55 mallard, 28 of which were male, 2 little egrets, 5 curlew roosting on rocks at Wembury Point with the oystercatchers, a grey wagtail, a meadow pipit with the rock pipits along the beach, a pair of stonechats in the valley to the beach and a pair in HMS Cambridge, a flyby cirl bunting that landed in the wheatfield and disappeared from view and a song thrush in the valley to the beach. Single gannets were offshore.

The tide was very high and with a strong Southerly breeze the beach at Wembury Point was covered in masses of seaweed. I decided to hunt for blue rayed limpets as per the Wild Wings and Wanderings blog, checking out all the kelp washed up amongst the other seaweeds. I had no luck but I did find what I think are limpet bite-marks on the softer, younger kelp fronds. I got covered in kelp slime and got splashed by the waves and got 2 wet feet from falling into rock pools as I tried to escape the waves but it was quite fun despite the smell.
Blue rayed limpet nibble mark?

A row of 5 blue rayed limpet nibble marks?

I met another birder and had a chat and he said that you could find blue rayed limpet shells along the beach so I had a half-hearted look amongst the shells washed up in certain places amongst the rocks but with no luck. He also tipped me off about some goose barnacles growing on a washed up wooden pallet on the beach and I did see them but unfortunately they had all died from being out of the water.
Goose barnacles - very young and unfortunately very dead

I also found a dead guillemot along the tide line mixed up with all the seaweed, it wasn't oiled and had no leg rings.
Dead guillemot

Dead guillemot

There were also lots of cuttlefish bones washed up on the beach of various shapes and sizes.

Cuttlefish bones

At the bus stop while waiting for the bus home there were quite a few honeysuckle bushes in flower.

Honeysuckle flowers
At the bus stop 2 male and a female blackbird were perched in the hawthorn bushes which were laden with haws. The 2 males had dark bills but with yellow bases and their eye rings were much darker than usual for male blackbirds. I always assumed they were young males but as per Autumnwatch on the BBC I wonder if they are Scandanavian blackbirds which have dark bills (although they were not particularly shy as they sat in the bushes a few feet away.)

Getting home I decided to have a look for the glossy ibis again from West Hoe although Devils Point may have been a better viewing point. Unfortunately I had no luck this time although I did see a grey heron being harrassed by 2 great black backed gulls and the little egrets came in as the light faded to roost in the trees on Drakes Island. There were some birders at Devils Point, one of them I think was the leader of the Plymouth RSPB Group, I don't know if they had better luck.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Wildlife round-up 2nd - 10th November 2011

I posted a photo of the moth I found at Marsh Mills on the 1st November on the Backgarden Moth Forum website and the consensus seems to be it is a November moth ag. and not a Winter moth.

Anyway spurred on by the continuing mild nights and the moth blog sites I follow which are still filled with reports of moths coming to traps I decided to put the moth box out in the backyard again on the night of the 2nd November and the next morning I found a few small flies, a few small spiders and on turning over the last egg box in the trap..... an Angle Shades! I don't know if it is the same one I had in the garden back in October but I potted it up to take some photos where it started to lay eggs so I released it quickly back in the backyard. The caterpillars eat a variety of herbaceous plants so hopefully there is something in the garden that they will eat if any more eggs are laid.

Angle Shades

It was grey and mizzley on the 2nd November so we had a wander around The Barbican and The Hoe and saw a very large male grey seal in the water near The National Marine Aquarium. It had a large dark grey head and a paler grey body and it quickly dived beneath the water and out of sight. However when we walked over the footbridge across the lock for Sutton Harbour it was swimming underneath us into Sutton Harbour, the lockgate being open as it was high tide  - what a day to forget my camera as it was an excellent view! It dived again heading in to the harbour, no doubt to try and catch some of the large mullet that we often see in the water around the harbourside.

The 8th Novemeber saw us heading to Plymbridge Woods for a walk. The weather has been very mild but very wet lately so we picked Plymbridge as the paths are generally not too muddy in wet weather. It started to rain but we still wandered up to the viaduct from Marsh Mills with a big brolly to keep us dry. From the viaduct I had a good view of 2 marsh tits and a nuthatch feeding on the peanut and seed feeders with blue, great and coal tits while a grey squirrel fed on scraps on the ground with chaffinches. The only other bird of note was a goldcrest with a flock of long tailed tits feeding in the treetops.

The 10th November was bright and sunny despite the weather forecast being for heavy rain! I headed out to Wembury on the bus for a walk and it was very muddy from all the recent rain but I had a good walk. Best bird was a brief view of a firecrest feeding in the bushes with a long tailed tit flock near the  boatyard before they headed up the valley, the firecrest not being seen again. However I did then see a goldcrest which showed very well - typical!

Around 20 blackbirds were feeding in the hawthorn bushes on the hillside above the wheatfield, they were very flighty, chasing each other around the bushes and also chasing nearby woodpigeons but I couldn't make any of them into a ring ousel. With them were a couple of song thrush and a small flighty group of around 10 yellowhammers which included at least 3 bright males. Along the footpath by the wheatfield a small flock of around 7 cirl buntings were also very flighty and also included at least 3 males.

3 little egrets and a grey heron were feeding amongst the rocks at low tide and a high count of 43 mallards were seen (24 male and 19 female) but there were possibly more hidden amongst the rocks. Also seen were a male kestrel and a buzzard overhead, an adult gannet offshore, 3 curlews amongst the rocks and a female stonechat in the valley to the beach. Along the beach amongst the pied wagtails and rock pipits were a single grey wagtail and a few meadow pipits.

A flyby red admiral was a surprise and a fox moth caterpillar shuffled along the footpath - I've seen loads of fox moth caterpillars but never a moth!
Fox Moth Caterpillar

Quite a few different types of fungi were seen in the sheep field including a few parasol mushrooms in different stages of growth and of different sizes.

Half-nibbled mushroom sp.

Parasol Mushroom

Parasol Mushroom

Unknown mushroom sp.
The vegetation along the path has been cleared quite drastically at the narrow point were it tends to get very muddy, its a shame as it was full of blackthorn with beautiful blossom in the Spring and ivy with lots of flowers in the Autumn for the bees and butterflies to feed on  - it is easier to walk along this bit of path now and I guess it will regrow but it will take some time.

Cleared footpath at Wembury
I headed off to West Hoe in the evening to see if I could get a view of the glossy ibis that has been seen coming in to roost with the little egrets on Drakes Island at dusk for the last few nights. It has been seen on the Tamar/ Tavy estuary complex but has been more reliably seen coming in to roost. The light was pretty poor and I didn't hold out much hope but gradually the little egrets flew in to roost in groups of 2 to 4, perching in the trees on the island - I knew they have been breeding on the island but have never really thought of them as roosting on the island too. Eventually at 16:55hrs I saw what I thought was another cormorant flying low over the water towards the island but then it rose up over the small islet to the side of the main island and there it was - the glossy ibis. It was a brief, distant, poor light view but I could make out its slim build and long down curved bill and its distinctive flight interspersed with glides as it disappeared on the other side of the island and out of sight, never to be seen again. I was pleased to have seen it although it was not a good view, unlike the very tame one I saw last year at Aveton Gifford, maybe I'll try again for a better view another evening.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

River Plym and Saltram 1st November 2011

A new month, a day off and sunny skies so we drove out to Sainsburys at Marsh Mills so David could pick up a final few things to make this years Christmas Puddings before we headed off for a walk from Sainsburys to Saltram House and back.

I found a moth on the wall of the underpass under the A38 which I think is a either a Winter moth or a November Moth, either one being a new moth for me.
Winter or November Moth?

A kingfisher was a nice sight perched on a branch overhanging the river quiet close to the path, I managed a quick photo but it flew off before I could get a decent shot. I later saw the same bird or another further down river flying low over the water. Nearby a grey wagtail was feeding along the river bank.
Crap photo of a kingfisher before it flew off!

Along the river 3 little grebes were busy diving for food. 4 little egrets, an oystercatcher, curlews, mallards and gulls were seen along the river with 2 cormorants. On Blaxton Meadow as the tide was on its way out a small sandpiper fed along the banks of one of the islands but was too distant to fully identify. Later when walking back to the car with the tide now fully out the spotted sandpiper fed along the river bank giving excellent views.

Other birds seen were a male kestrel, 2 jay, a female bullfinch and 2 ravens mobbing a buzzard. A nuthatch was heard calling in the woods and a mistle thrush was seen perched in a tree opposite the cafe at Saltram House as we enjoyed a cup of tea.

We had a wander around the garden of Saltram House where a red admiral fed on some lemon blossom. I found a moth on the ceiling of The Orangery but it was too high up to get a good photo. With my binoculars it was very dark green with a carpet moth shape, probably a red green carpet. David used a nearby window pole to try and disturb it and bring it closer to ground level but it promptly flew off out of the open window and out of sight! Never mind.
Red Admiral feeding on lemon blossom

So it was a very pleasent walk in the warm sunshine and we managed to buy a Christmas present for a friend in the art gallery in the garden of Saltram House as well. A checkout glitch at Sainsburys (not down to us, I hasten to add!) also meant we got 2 bottles of white wine initially reduced to £6 a bottle for 49 pence each! So not a bad day all round!

Monday 31 October 2011

Burrator Reservoir, 28th October

The last day of my week off work, the time off being achieved without taking any annual leave but through a combination of night duties and careful requesting on the computerised off-duty request system known as MAPS.

The weather has been pretty rubbish during my time off, showers and heavy rain and windy most of the time with mostly mild temperatures but also a couple of chilly nights. It was half term as well so on our trips out and about it has been busy with people out walking their dogs and children and especially so on our trip up to Burrator for a walk around the reservoir.

The weather was gorgeous - blue sky, sunshine and no wind to speak off. The water level in the reservoir was quite low, the lowest I have seen it for a long time and surprising for October after what has been a fairly wet Summer and Autumn. We did have a very dry Spring so I guess the rain hasn't quite made up for the very long dry spell we had in March to May.

On checking the reservoir I immediately found a redhead goosander preening itself out on the water. Along the sides of the reservoir near the dam were a collection of mallards with 2 white feral geese. Walking around the reservoir siskins were heard calling in the trees and flying overhead but I failed to see any. I did however hear the "glip-glip" call of crossbills and on looking up managed a brief view of around 10 flying quite high overhead including a very red male.

Also seen around the reservoir were a red admiral butterfly feeding on ivy flowers, a flyover great spotted woodpecker, 3 ravens and a goldcrest. A winter plumaged little grebe was seen busily diving out on the water. Best find though were 3 roe deer feeding out in the open in a field of sheep, they were quite wary but fed out in the open near the edge of the trees and I managed a few poor shots of them with my camera. One was a male with a small set of antlers, one was a female with no antlers and one appeared to have the small antler buds of a immature male.

Roe Deer - a male with small antlers 

Roe Deer - a young male with antler buds developing

Roe deer - a female with no antlers
Getting back to the dam we enjoyed a 99 ice cream in the sunshine and watched a kingfisher fly off from the rocks below the dam, across the reservoir and out of sight, my first kingfisher sighting here.

It had been a lovely walk in lovely weather despite the crowds and the sighting of the crossbills has bumped my year list up to 167, I am hoping to get to 170 by the end of the year and with 2 months left to go I should hopefully manage it.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

A surprise moth find !

I have been puzzling over the moth I found at Bude last Sunday and posted a photo on the Back Garden Moth Community Forum page for some ID help. I thought it was a faded brindled green but it has since been ID'd as a feathered ranunculus, a new moth for me.

I then reviewed some more photos I took of a moth I caught in the back yard on the 19th September and some moths I found in the toilet block at Wembury in October and have realised they are all feathered ranunculus (or ranunculi?) too. So I have now seen 4 feathered ranunculus this Autumn and have yet to see a brindled green, a far more common moth!

The first feathered ranunculus I found in my back yard moth trap on 19th September

The second feathered ranunculus at Wembury on 14th October
Number 3 at Wembury on 14th October - with quite a pinky flush

The 4th (or 2nd) Feathered Ranunculus I found at Wembury on 22nd October - check out those antenna which makes it a male

Number 5 (or number 3) at Wembury on 22nd October - with quite a pinky flush

A faded Number 6 (or 4) at Bude on 23rd October
The 2 I found at Wembury on the 14th October in the toilet block are probably the same 2 I found on the 22nd October based on their colouration. I didn't have any pots with me on the 14th as I would have caught and released them outside but I did have pots with me on the 22nd when I did manage to catch them and release them.

However the moth surprise of this posts title is not the above but a surprise find in the toilet block at Wembury on the 26th October, a nice smart vestal moth. I saw these moths on my Spanish holiday in Granada and Algeciras but have never seen one in the UK before. I guess the strong Southerly winds we had over the weekend may have brought it over from the Continent but it was a nice find.

Vestal - with very feathery antenna


It was difficult to photo as it was a little feisty, eventually flying out through the door and lost from sight but it was a nice end to my mothing Summer as I am unlikely to see much more in the way of moths now until next Spring. It also means I will have to update my moth report for Wembury before I send it off to the County Recorder!

Also seen at Wembury were a flyover female sparrowhawk, a male stonechat, brief views of a male cirl bunting and a female yellowhammer amongst the very flighty bunting flock in the sewage farm hedge and 3 rook that flew over looking beautifully irradescent purple in the strong sun-light as they tumbled together like ravens do.

We also had our last pasty and coffee of the year as the cafe is closing this coming weekend until the Christmas period so at least my waistline and bank balance can recover.

Monday 24 October 2011

Time to put the moth box away

After the angle shades in the kitchen and the 2 brindled greens in the toilet block at Wembury I decided I would have the moth box out in the back yard on the night of the 22nd October. It was overcast and mild but with a strong Southerly wind and the next morning for my troubles I had 1 micro moth in the trap, a Light Brown Apple Moth. It is a moth that is becoming increasingly common in the UK, having been introduced here from Australia and I regularly have them in the trap over the summer although I tend not to take much notice of them. Next year I must start paying more attention to the micro-moths.

Light Brown Apple Moth
So it is now time to put the moth box away for the winter and to sort out all my moth notes to send off to the county moth recorder.

However we travelled up to Bude on the 23rd October to help the out-laws clean and wrap up the caravan for the year and I managed a few moth sightings including 2 new species! The toilet block held an angle shades and my first new moth, a dark chestnut.

Dark Chestnut

Angle Shades

The security light on the roof of the portable toilet waste block was on so I wandered down to have a look and found 3 flame shoulders, a rusty dot pearl, what I think is a faded brindled green and new for me, 2 lunar underwings.

Rusty Dot Pearl

Faded Brindled Green?

Lunar Underwing

Also seen were a flyover raven, a red admiral and 5 flyover Canada geese.

It was a mild day with a very strong Southerly wind which made putting the cover over the caravan fun but it was soon packed away and we headed home, Winter is definently coming now.