Saturday 27 August 2011

Thurlestone 25th August 2011

Felt as rough as a badgers a**e on Sunday morning after the wedding, had a great time at the wedding and actually danced! but I felt really awful the next day. It was a free bar but I had very little to drink but I maybe had more than I thought but I also had an upset stomach and did not sleep well. However I went to work on the late shift, struggled through and went to bed as soon as I got home at 21:45hrs. The next 2 days I was on early shifts and struggled through them too, luckily work was relatively quiet. I was relieved when Wednesday arrived and I had 3 days off but the weather was shite so we went to the pictures and saw "Cowboys and aliens" which was a great piece of frothy fun and nonsense.

Thursday 25th the weather still was crap with a rubbish forecast but we decided to take our chances and headed out to Hope Cove for a walk along the coast. It was quite breezey but the sun shone at times and it stayed dry.

Bird wise a juvenile yellow wagtail was watched feeding around the feet of some sheep in the field in front of South Huish marsh although it was distant. Later a yellow wagtail flew over calling, its underparts being very yellow as it passed over, presumably an adult male, and later another or the same juvenile was seen flying over the sheep field. I was pleased to see them as they are one of my favourite birds but they were not the best views so I'm hoping to catch up with some more of them in the next few weeks.

Also seen were 2 black-tailed godwit on the marsh with a grey heron and some moorhen. 2 wheatears fed in the sheep field with pied wagtails, 1 of the wheatears had the tell-tale scruffy plumage of a recent fledgling. 2 wheatears were later seen feeding on the cliffs at Hope Head. House and sand martins flew overhead with swallows and a whitethroat was seen flying low over some brambles before disappearing. 2 adult male and a female stonechat were seen along the coast path and 2 ravens flew overhead. At one point all the gulls were up in the air calling but I failed to find any raptor flying over.

The toilet block by Thurlestone golf club held 2 single dotted wave, a brimstone moth, a smart setaceous Hebrew character, a rusty dot pearl, lots of grass veneers and best of all, a smart rosy rustic, a new moth for me.
Rosy Rustic

Rusty Dot Pearl

Also seen were a small copper, 2 male common blue, a speckled wood, small whites, meadow browns and a six-spot burnet moth.

We had a sandwich at the cafe on the beach despite it being a little on the expensive side, however David had a crab sandwich which cost the same as the cafes in Hope Cove and I had a sausage sandwich made with local sausages and I have to say it was very tasty and filling.

Cetacean skull on a shed

Despite the weather I had the moth box out in the back yard a couple of times, one morning I was woken up by thunder to find it pelting down with rain and the trap was a little on the soggy side as I tried to process the moths. I got soaked as well!  Nothing new in the trap but I did have a new record count of Jersey Tiger moths for the garden, a total of 5 although 1 was dead in a spiders web, I try to brush the webs away when I get the trap out but the spiders have to eat too and they are quick to respin the webs I brush away. Also caught were an Old Lady, 2 Marbled Green, 2 Square Spot Rustic, 1 Copper Underwing, 1 Rusty Dot Pearl and a Garden Pebble amongst others.

Square spot Rustic

Jersey Tiger Moth

Back to work today for 4 days, a late today and then 3 earlys, haven't done that for a while! No chance to use the moth box until Tuesday night but the weather is still pretty dire, it is Bank Holiday weekend though, but hopefully it will be better by Tuesday. Still hoping to catch large rannunculus in the garden, a very pretty moth that I caught around this time last year, so fingers crossed.

Monday 22 August 2011

Wembury 20th August 2011

I had the moth box out again on the Friday night (19th) and was up early again on the Saturday morning (20th) to sort it out before the rain came again. A big surprise were the wasps in the trap, I sometimes get the odd one or two but there must have been around 20 in the box and they were very feisty. Unfortunately I found the wings of a brimstone moth and a willow beauty in the bottom of the box so assume the wasps had eaten them and the other moths in the trap were decidedly skittish with good reason. I am allergic to wasp venom so spent longer than usual sorting out the moths as I did not want to get stung and in the end I had to squash a few of the wasps as I could not get rid of them easily out of the trap.
Remains of a brimstone moth and a willow beauty

Moth wise I had 2 Jersey Tiger moths, a smart Marbled Green, a tatty Old Lady and a Copper Underwing amongst the haul.

I headed out to Wembury later than planned due to the heavy rain in the morning but by the time I got to Wembury it was sunny and warm. I enjoyed a pasty from the cafe, delicious as usual. Yesterday we went to Flavour Fest in Plymouth city centre where Chunk, the makers of the pasties, had a stall and I complimented the chaps behind the counter on the fantasticness of their pasties!

The toilet block only held a few moths including a dead dingy footman caught in a spider web. Butterflys were much in evidence in the warm sunshine with wall, red admirals, a comma, a peacock, a small tortoiseshell, large whites, meadow browns, gatekeepers, speckled wood and 2 holly blues being seen. A magpie moth was seen tucked away in the base of a hedge and a Jersey Tiger moth was seen perched on the glass window of the bus-stop when I arrived.

Birds seen included a pair of cirl buntings, the male looking decidedly tatty, a male and female stonechat with 2 juveniles and later a male with a juvenile, a sparrowhawk being mobbed by 2 carrion crows, a male kestrel, swallows, house martins and a buzzard.

Waders seen were a turnstone, 4 ringed plover, a common sandpiper, 2 curlew and a bar-tailed godwit with the usual oystercatchers. Mallards were feeding amongst the rocks, some of the males were back in full plumage with some still in eclipse plumage. Whitethroats and chiffchaffs were heard with brief flight views only across the bushes. An adult lesser black backed gull was seen roosting on the rocks amongst the herring gulls.

No sign of any yellow wagtails, some were reported at Wembury in the morning and they are starting to appear along the south Devon coast now so maybe on my next visit.

Wembury flower field

A close up of the flowers - not sure what they are but the Large Whites love them

Also seen was a sexton beetle enjoying a meal of a dog turd on the path, I couldn't see any lice on this one and it was much more hairy looking than the individual I saw at Bude in July. Still, it was a first for Wembury and on checking the guide book there are different species of similar looking sexton beetles in the UK so presumably is a different type to the one in Bude.

Sexton beetle eating dog turd!

I finished the walk at Bovisand and caught the bus home from there and in the evening headed out to the Duke of Cornwall hotel for the wedding reception of Davids ex-work colleage Krystle, David having been at the wedding for the whole day. And back to work on Sunday again, such fun!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Wildlife Sightings 16th - 18th August 2011

I had 5 days off in a row this week as a result of arranging my shifts around my Mum visiting with my nephew Jack but their trip down to Plymouth didn't happen so I had 5 days off to myself. Weather has been pretty crap but have managed to get out and about and do some things.

Tuesday 16th we headed out to the Cotehele estate in Cornwall for a walk around the garden and estate. David wanted to see how the apple trees in the new orchard were growing after our last visit 2 years ago. I didn't think they had grown much but David said they had, having been planted in 2007. The old orchard had trees covered in apples and the couple of apples we picked up off the ground and tasted were delicious.

The "brats" were being entertained by a pond dipping session and a quick look at their catches placed in viewing tanks allowed good views of a dragonfly nymph, whirlygig beetles and 2 small stickleback.

Bird wise it was quiet with a jay, a nuthatch and overhead swallows seen. A comma was seen in the formal gardens with a holly blue and some red admirals. Around 4 large emperor dragonflys were seen hawking over a small pond and along the river side. Maidenhair fern was seen growing in the old kilns down by the quayside.
Maidenhair Fern - larger leaves than the domesticated Maidenhair Fern I have growing in a pot in the breakfast room at home

Bizarre sighting was a wooden box in a potting shed in the formal garden full of the wings of moths, mainly yellow underwings but also seen amongst the wings were a dark arches and some silver ys. I am not sure how they got there, whether a mouse has been eating the moths that get caught in the shed or a bat has been eating them but there were no signs of droppings and no smell. Strange.

A mysterious box of moth wings in the potting shed at Cotehele

A Silver Y wing amongst the moth wings in the box
That evening we headed up to Plymouth Hoe for the 15th National Fireworks Championship and watched the fireworks with Davids Mum and Dad from Duttons Cafe where we had a good view of the Mountbatten Breakwater. They were pretty good, you do get a good view from this spot but I find the crowds off putting and usually put up with a more distant view from Sutton Harbour just down the road from the house. We also went to The Hoe on the Wednesday night to see the second bunch of competitors and it was much busier with people on this night.
Fireworks - testing out the firework setting on the camera

More fireworks

I had the moth box out on Wednesday night and had a good catch the next morning, having woken at 05:30hrs and managing to get the catch sorted and the box put away before the rain started. In the trap I had a garden record of 4 Jersey Tiger Moths. I also had a smart female Four-spotted Footman,  a tatty Cabbage Moth, a tatty Heart and Dart and a yellow shell amongst 23 moths of 17 species.
Female Four-spotted Footman from the garden trap

That evening I headed off for a walk at Blagdons Meadow by the River Plym to look for Autumn Ladys Tresses and was in luck and found quite a few in flower. They were surprisingly small and dainty and easily overlooked but once I found the first one they became much easier to see amongst the grass.
Autumn Ladys Tresses

A close up of the flowers

2 growing together

A very twirly stalked plant

Also seen were 2 male common blues with meadow browns, 2 flyover Canada Geese and 6 little egrets roosting in the tree tops overlooking the river in Saltram Park.

I then headed up to Plymbridge Woods for a National Trust organised moth hunt, I have never been before and wasn't sure what to expect but it was quite a good night. There were only 5 of us in the group with 2 wardens and we went to the wardens cottage where the trap was running in the garden. I saw 3 new moths -small phoenix, August thorn and yellow lined quaker along with loads of black arches and rosy footman but we only saw 12 species in total in the 2 hours we were there. The photos I took have not come out very well due to the poor light conditions, the yellow lined quaker looks especially odd in the photo due to the poor lighting.Still it was a good night and I managed a brisk, shit-my-pants walk through the woods in the dark to catch the bus home from Marsh Mills as David was working a twilight so couldn't give me a lift home.

Yellow Lined Quaker

Small Phoenix
Rosy Footman

Black Arches

Bird wise tawny owls were heard calling, a male bullfinch was seen, house martins hawked over the tree tops as the sun was setting and an eclipse male and 3 juvenile/female Mandarin ducks were seen on the river at Marsh Mills where I managed to get black headed gull poo all over my sweatshirt as I leant on the bridge side to take some photos!
Eclipse male Mandarin Duck

Sunday 14 August 2011

This weeks wildlife 8th - 14th August

Monday 8th saw me heading off to Wembury on the bus for a walk as David had worked a night shift the previous night and was in bed trying to sleep during the morning so I thought it best to get out of the house. The weather wasn't bad but it felt distinctly Autumnal and the waders on the beach reinforced this view with a summer plumaged turnstone, 2 whimbrel, 7 curlew, 2 dunlin (1 with a complete black belly and 1 with a few black splodges) and 1 adult sanderling moulting out of summer plumage all seen along with the usual oystercatchers. 7 mallard flew along the shoreline, 3 female and 4 males in eclipse plumage, further proof that Summer is passing by. Best bird was a juvenile sedge warbler feeding in the undergrowth along the stream leading to the main beach, it showed really well and had surprisingly long and bluey grey legs. This is only the second one I have seen at Wembury.

Also seen were a male cirl bunting, 4 juvenile stonechats, chiffchaff and the usual whitethroats.

A nice holly blue allowed a close view on some ivy and a male common blue was also seen along with a wall, a small tortoiseshell, meadow browns and gatekeepers.

Holly Blue
 Also seen were common lizards basking in the sunshine on the wooden fences, a bloody nosed beetle, wild carrot with the black flower in the centre of the white flowers and one of my favourite flowers, montbretia.

Bloody Nosed Beetle

Wild Carrot


Moth wise a few tatty looking six-spot burnets were seen and in the toilet block were a magpie moth and a marbled green, presumably the same individuals I saw in the toilet block on the 5th August. However this time I had my collecting pots with me and I was able to catch and release them outside along with a small fan footed wave.

Small Fan Footed Wave

I enjoyed a pasty and coffee for lunch before heading home to start my 4 night shifts, they seem to come round so quickly and I get to dread them more and more. They weren't too bad as it turned out but I was knackered at the end of them on the Friday morning.

Saturday I had the moth box out in the back yard and Sunday morning I had a nice little collection of goodies including 2 Jersey Tigers, 2 male Four spotted Footman, 3 marbled green, a brimstone moth, 1 lesser broad bordered yellow underwing, 4 large yellow underwing and 4 willow beauty.
Four spotted Footman - male

Willow Beauty

Large Yellow Underwing

Sunday 14th saw me heading out to Bovisand on the bus as David was working a long day. The bus to Wembury no longer runs on Sundays but the Bovisand bus runs every day for the 6 weeks of the Summer school holidays and runs every hour! It was 20 minutes late and I nearly gave up waiting especially as it was showery with some heavy and prolonged showers. However I got there eventually and had a great 4 hour walk from Bovisand to Wembury and back with a pasty and coffee for lunch at Wembury. The showers at least allowed me to test out the waterproof-ness of my new back pack that I bought with my birthday money from Mum and Dad - and it passed!

More waders were in evidence today with 12 ringed plovers and 3 dunlin along the beach with curlew and oystercatcher. There were more mallards too feeding amongst the rocks as the tide went out, the males all being in eclipse plumage. A little egret fished in a rock pool. A pair of cirl buntings were heard and then seen with a second female later seen further along the path. 2 sparrowhawks soared overhead and a pair of kestrels hovered along the cliff tops. 6 stonechats were seen, 4 juveniles and 2 moulting males, and 2 white wagtails were feeding in the horse field with some pied wagtails. Chiffchaff, whitethroat, swallow and house martin were also seen.

The toilet block at Wembury held a blood vein, 2 mullein wave, an early thorn and 2 grass veneer sp., all of which were caught and released outside except one of the mullein waves which I couldn't reach on the ceiling.
Grass Veneer sp.

Other wildlife included a dead shrew on the path, dodder growing on the gorse bushes between Bovisand and Heybrook Bay, looking like strings of pink liquorice, long winged coneheads, a dark bush cricket (new for Wembury), common lizards and a few funnel web spiders webs (with spiders inside) on the gorse bushes.

Dark Bush Cricket

Dodder flower

Dodder strangling a gorse bush

Meadow Brown

Funnel Web Spider Web Entrance

Funnel Web Spider Web

Long Winged Conehead

The bus was late leaving Bovisand for Plymouth but I eventually got back to Royal Parade where I met David for lunch before heading home having had quite an eventful walk. I enjoyed my pasty too but I think I am getting addicted to them, they are bloody tasty though!

Sunday 7 August 2011

Recent sightings

Going back to work after the great time off I had was a bit of a shock especially as work has been very busy, my time off seems a long time ago as I type this but it was only 12 days ago I returned to work.

I have at least had the moth box out in the back-yard on a few nights and I have had some nice moths. Shuttle shaped darts seem very common this year and I have had quite a few Jersey Tiger moths and a nice male Four spotted footman along with ruby tiger, marbled green and buff ermine. Best moth however was a new to the garden and life-list True lovers knot, the ID threw me but a quick post to Back Garden Moth Forum and somebody ID'd it for me.

True Lovers Knot

A trio of Shuttle Shaped Dart

Male Four Spotted Footman - check out those funky metallic blue legs!

A trio of Buff Ermine

Marbled Green - a browner individual than I usually see in the backyard

Ruby Tiger

A trip out to Wembury for a walk on the 5th August was quite fruitful and I didn't have a pasty either! 6 adult ringed plovers were heard calling and then seen on the rocks as the tide went out, having been disturbed by dog walkers and a summer plumaged dunlin was with them. Also on the rocks were a curlew and the usual oystercatchers. Also seen were a fly over kestrel and buzzard, a juvenile and a moulting male stonechat, a female cirl bunting, the usual whitethroats and a sign of autumn, a very confiding juvenile wheatear with very fledgling looking feathering on its upper wings.

The toilet block held a few goodies but the beach was busy in the good weather and with the school holidays in full swing so I managed a few quick snaps only of Brussels lace, an unfortunately dead rosy footman and a dingy footman (the only place I have seen them other than at Bude) and a marbled green (the only place I have seen one other than my back yard).

A dead Rosy Footman

Brussels Lace

Dingy Footman - also known as the melon pip and you can see why!

Sunday 7th August was a mixed bag weather wise so we headed off to Jennycliff on the Mount Batten ferry for a walk. It was sunny at times but with a strong breeze and some heavy showers but we had a nice walk and a slice of coffee and walnut cake and a breakfast bap in the cafe at Jennycliff with a cup of tea. A kestrel battled against the wind along the cliff top and offshore an adult winter plumaged Sandwich tern was followed incessantly by a surprisingly quiet juvenile. Wall, meadow brown, common blue, gatekeeper and small tortoiseshell butterflys were seen keeping to areas out of the wind but the best find was what I thought was a wall butterfly which flew past me as I walked along a hedgerow before it landed in the grass. I almost dismissed it but headed to where it landed to have a look, expecting it to be a wall but it was a tatty looking, feisty male oak eggar moth which didn't want to settle so I managed a quick snap of it after catching it gently in my hand before releasing it in the hedge. It is the first oak eggar I have seen in the UK, having seen a female in Santurtzi in Northern Spain a few years ago.

Tatty and feisty Oak Eggar

Heading home we stopped at the allotment to pick some veg for tea and I saw a 2 spot ladybird on the runner beans and a dead young mouse on the footpath.

Back to work on nights tomorrow, such fun, so no moths for the next few nights.