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.

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