Thursday 10 May 2012

A great day at Exminster Marsh and Yarner Wood - 8th May 2012

I have managed to ID the micro moth I caught in the moth box last week, it is a white shouldered house moth. I managed to get a poor photo of it in a pot as it was very small and would not keep still for a second. I released it outside but a few days later I saw another one in the spare bedroom, this individual being much brighter and in better condition than the one I caught.

White Shouldered House Moth

Bank Holiday Monday (7th May) was cool and cloudy so lunch and a walk at Mount Edgecumbe in Cornwall provided views of a few swallow, a male wheatear on the rocks below the gun battlement and the regular male gadwall on the pond with the mallard.

Male Gadwall with Male Mallard

The black winged stilt from North Cornwall appeared at Exminster Marsh on the 5th May when I was at work but it was a one day wonder before moving on. However on the 8th May we had to take the outlaws to Exeter for a hospital appointment as their car was in the garage being repaired so I was dropped off at Exminster Marsh for a few hours. No black winged stilts but I did see a superb pair of garganey feeding on a pond close to the road, my first Devon garganey and only my third UK sighting! Also seen were a summer plumaged turnstone, a summer plumaged and two winter plumaged bar-tailed godwit, 3 grey plover, one of which was developing summer plumage, and 10 summer plumaged dunlin roosting amongst the curlew and whimbrel.

A peregrine was perched on the electricity pylon devouring a moorhen and 4 beautiful hobby were hawking insects over the small reservoir giving wonderful views of their acrobats.

Sedge warblers were singing and songflighting giving close views and a few reed warblers were seen briefly singing. A Cettis warbler showed very well as it explosively sang in a bush by the road.

A large flock of gulls was roosting on the Marsh but they were very flighty and mobile and I failed to find any of the recently reported Iceland gulls amongst them. I did however find 3 adult and a sub adult lesser black backed gull and a 1st summer plumaged Mediterranean gull amongst the herring and black headed gulls.

Greater stitchwort was in flower by the roadside but despite the warmer temperature and increasing sunshine I failed to see any butterflies.

Greater Stitchwort

After being picked up from the Marsh I was unexpectedly dropped off at Yarner Wood while the outlaws went to Trago Mills at Newton Abbot and I had a very productive walk around the woods as the clouds cleared and the sun shone warmly.

I managed good views of 3 wood warblers, one of which had colour rings on its legs. At first I thought it had very bright legs until I realised it had a bright orange plastic ring on each leg along with a silver ring on its left leg and what I thought was a black plastic ring on its right leg. I have reported it through the BTO and have had a reply, it was ringed at Yarner Wood last year and what I thought was a black ring was more likely a dark green ring, it was very mobile through the tree canopy and a little distant so I may have gotten the colour wrong. I'm waiting for some more details to come through about the bird I saw but it is very exciting as wood warblers are one of my favourite birds and they appear to be doing badly at the moment so my sighting may be of some help to try and find out more about them. I also heard some trilling wood warbler song but it was unfortunately brief and subdued.

Pied flycatchers were vocal and obvious around the wood and I also saw 3 spotted flycatchers, a male redstart, a treecreeper and 2 songflighting tree pipits. 2 marsh tit were feeding on the seed feeder in front of the hide and on the pond 3 male and 2 female mandarin ducks were seen along with a male wood duck which seems to have paired with one of the female manadarins.

Male Pied Flycatcher

Female Mandarin Duck with Male Wood Duck

Lots of Adela reaumurella micro moths were on the wing as the temperature rose and many were seen flying around the tree tops but I managed to find one near the woodland floor and took a photo of it.

Adela reaumurella

Common milkwort was in flower on the heathland.

Common Milkwort

Butterflies were on the wing - a male orange tip, a holly blue, male and female brimstones and a beautiful pearl bordered fritillary. I was trying to take a photo of a male brimstone feeding on a dandelion by the roadside while I was waiting for my lift back to Plymouth when it was disturbed by what I thought was a comma butterfly but I was delighted to see it was a pearl bordered fritillary instead.

Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Pearl Bordered Fritillary

And so I had had a great day out with an unexpected trip to Yarner Wood - and I had a piece of coffee and walnut cake bought for me from the cafe in Bovey Tracey to eat in the car on the journey back to Plymouth - perfect! And my yearlist now stands at 159 species.

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