Monday 23 July 2012

Of moths, Manxies and marine mammals - Part 2

Sunday 15th July and we headed off to Bude again for a few days away in the caravan. Sunday was sunny but cool but it didn't last - the next few days were cold, wet and windy, quite shite really, but by Friday it was warm and sunny, just in time for us to return to Plymouth!

I did manage to catch some nice moths in the moth trap - 3 buff tip, 3 poplar hawkmoth, 3 elephant hawkmoth, 2 garden tiger, crescent darts and 1 peppered moth were the highlights along with 2 new species for me, a small wainscot and 2 plain golden y. I had originally dismissed the small wainscot as a very small common wainscot and the plain golden y's as silver y's until I stopped and had a proper look at them.

Crescent Dart

Small Wainscot - tiny!

Poplar Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth

2 Plain Golden Y

Elephant Hawkmoth

Garden Tiger Moths

Bird wise it was fairly quiet, the highlights being :- whimbrel and curlew roosting at high tide at Maer Lake one evening while a male and female tufted duck roosted on the water, the first time I have seen them here in Bude and no doubt helped by the high water level of the Lake due to all the rain; a briefly singing sedge warbler at Maer Lake and a juvenile bird in the hedge behind the caravan busily watching me as I went through the moth trap in the early morning; a 2nd summer and 2 adult summer Mediterranean gulls roosting amongst the gulls on the cricket pitch; 2 ravens flying along the clifftops; 2 fledgling stonechats on the clifftop gorse bushes; a Sandwich tern and 2 adult kittiwakes offshore with gannets and fulmars; and swifts, swallows, house and sand martins overhead despite the bad weather.

Juvenile Sedge Warbler eyeing up my moths in the moth trap

Juvenile Swallow waiting to be fed

Manx shearwaters were in evidence again with small groups of 1 to 4 birds seen on the 17th heading South and then the odd 1 or 2 birds offshore over the next couple of days. However on the morning of the 20th after sorting out the moths in the trap I headed up to the clifftops at around 8 o'clock and there was a flock of around 200 Manx shearwaters offshore resting on the sea and flying low over the waves before diving in to the water with quite a splash. I kept an eye out for any dolphins with no luck but after around 20 minutes a large splash caught my eye and there they were again, a small pod of around 10 common dolphins. I then saw more splashes further out and found another small pod of around 10 common dolphins, both pods were moving South towards the Manx shearwater raft before joining together and heading North as the Manx shearwaters followed them. Eventually the shearwaters dispersed and the dolphins disappeared North and were lost from sight but it had been great to see them again. This time the dolphins were quite showy, leaping out of the water, tail slapping and breaching, but at other times they became very difficult to observe with just brief views of their fins as they surfaced to breathe. While scanning for the dolphins during one of their stealth modes I saw a harbour porpoise quite close to shore doing its usual thing - 3 brief views of its fin as it surfaced before it disappeared from sight.

The only other wildlife highlights were my first painted lady butterfly of the year with 2 small tortoiseshells, a red admiral and meadow browns, and honeycomb worms on the rocks along the beach.

Meadow Brown

Honeycomb Worms

So despite the weather I had had a very pleasent time, it would have been nice to have had a bit more sunshine and the campsite was very wet and boggy underfoot which made for soggy, muddy feet. Maer Lake had no muddy margins to attract waders due to all the rain so I only used my telescope once to view the whimbrel and curlew roost but as usual it had been a nice few days away.

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