Saturday 22 September 2012

Autumn Wildlife Round-up

Autumn is here with generally sunny and pleasent days but chilly nights. Despite the cool nights moth trapping in the back yard has been pretty good although it is now starting to tail off. New for the garden was a broad bordered yellow underwing, originally overlooked as a large yellow underwing due to its size but ID'd on closer inspection. In fact it was in the trap with large-, lesser- and lesser broad bordered yellow underwings allowing good comparison between all 4 species.

Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing - worn male
 Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing
 Lesser Yellow Underwing
 Large Yellow Underwing
Large Yellow Underwing

A feathered ranunculus, a favourite moth of mine, and a beautiful black rustic have also made welcome appearances, the black rustic being only my second sighting of one.

 Feathered Ranunculus
Black Rustic

A trip to Wembury on the 19th September was very productive with a rosy rustic being found and released from the toilet block and a rusty dot pearl seen flitting amongst the grass on the coast path, presumably a newly arrived immigrant.

Rosy Rustic
Rusty Dot Pearl

Best bird was a spotted flycatcher flycatching from the pines in the horse field, only my second Wembury sighting and in exactly the same place as my first sighting in September 3 years ago. 2 Sandwich terns flew West along the coast while small flocks of feeding swallows and house martins hawked overhead, generally moving West. A whitethroat, a great spotted woodpecker and coal tits were seen at Wembury Point with a green woodpecker being heard. Chiffchaffs were seen and heard and 2 yellow wagtails were heard calling overhead with a third bird being seen.

Along the beach with the oystercatchers were 2 whimbrel, 2 turnstone, 8 curlew and a sanderling with a little egret and 20 mallards (12 males in non-eclipse plumage and 8 females). The seaweed mass along the beach had decreased in size but was still providing plenty of feeding oppurtunities for rock and meadow pipits and pied and white wagtails along with 2 grey wagtails.


Other wildlife seen included 4 dark bush crickets, a very bright coloured comma butterfly, a bloody nosed beetle and 7 common lizards along with red admirals, meadow browns, speckled wood, small tortoiseshell, small white and 1 large white. Sea campion was in flower  - not bladder campion as I thought back in April!

Sea Campion

A trip to Dawlish Warren on the 22nd September with the aim of seeing little stints, curlew sandpipers and ospreys was fruitless - all 3 of these birds seem to be very scarce this Autumn with only a few sightings of each of them on the Exe this year. Never mind. What was surprising - and worrying - was the lack of waders at Dawlish Warren. I managed to see only 16 sanderling, 7 dunlin, 2 ringed plover, 12 bar-tailed godwit (2 in summer plumage) and 2 knot (first of the year!) amongst the large numbers of curlew and oystercatcher - normally there would be much larger numbers of waders than this.

Albino Oystercatcher amongst the oystercatcher roost

Also seen were Sandwich terns feeding in the estuary and offshore, 11 brent geese (first of the Autumn), a buzzard which put up all the waders at the high tide roost as it flew over, 6 juvenile and an adult shelduck, a juvenile Mediterranean gull, an adult common gull, 6 mute swan and a little egret. Land birds included 4 stonechat, a very nice juvenile whinchat, a pair of blackcaps, chiffchaffs, a screeching jay and a calling tawny owl.

Skulking male Blackcap

Small copper were noticeable flitting around the grass along with meadow browns, red admirals, a speckled wood, small tortoiseshells and small white, and a silver y was nectaring on evening primrose flowers.

Small Copper
Small White
Unknown Dragonfly sp.
Autumn ladys tresses were in flower although most had gone over, my third orchid species at Dawlish Warren this year.

 Autumn Ladys Tresses
Autumn Ladys Tresses

Thursday 13 September 2012

Wryneck at Wembury - 13th September 2012

A cool morning on arrival at Wembury despite the sunshine but as the day wore on it warmed up nicely and it became a beautiful Autumnal day.

The toilet block held 2 flounced rustic, a snout, a single-dotted wave, a dead double-striped pug and a Cypress pug.

Flounced Rustic
Cypress Pug

Heading out to Wembury Point red admirals and small tortoiseshells were very noticeable along with a few speckled wood, meadow brown and large white and 1 painted lady.

Red Admiral
Small Tortoiseshell
Painted Lady with a Meadow Brown in the background

I spent some time at Wembury Point in the vain hope that the recently reported juvenile red-backed shrike would still be around but I had no luck, it was last reported on Sunday and today has been the first chance I have had to get out to Wembury to try and see it. However a juvenile green woodpecker and a flyover great spotted woodpecker and some coal tits in the pine trees kept me amused but the best bird was a brief flight view of a wryneck as it flew low over the ground between some bramble bushes. I spent some time scanning for another view of it but with no joy.

Along the beach I found at least 3 yellow wagtails amongst the pied/white wagtails feeding on the masses of stinking seaweed although the were very flighty and mobile. 4 juvenile wheatears were also feeding along the beach with rock pipits and at least 2 meadow pipits.

Curlews and Oystercatchers were feeding amongst the rocks with a common sandpiper, 3 turnstones, 2 redshank, 3 ringed plover and 2 whimbrel. A herring gull flock roosting on the rocks held an adult lesser black backed gull and a 2nd Winter Mediterranean gull. A little egret fed amongst the rock pools and at least 24 mallards were seen with only 2 males remaining in eclipse plumage. A kestrel did its usual impression of a hobby by eating something from its talons as it soared overhead and a peregrine flew over with what looked like a magpie in it talons.

2 common lizards were seen along with 2 male long-winged coneheads and a dark bush cricket. Lots of garden spiders were also seen sitting in the centre of their webs, a sure sign that Autumn is here.

Dark Bush Cricket
Garden Spider

A very pleasant walk after my night shifts, no red-backed shrike but a nice bonus in the form of my second UK wryneck ( my first UK wryneck was also at Wembury about 20 years ago!).

Sunday 9 September 2012

Bat and Moth Night at Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth - September 7th

The weather has been very settled with warm and sunny days and cool nights and after work on the 7th September I headed off to Ford Park Cemetery in Plymouth for a bat and moth night. The cemetery is about a 20 minute walk from where I live and on arrival there was a large group of people already assembled at the visitors centre including a few familiar faces from the Plymouth RSPB Group.

We headed off with members of the Devon Bat Group who checked out the bat boxes in the hope of finding some bats but they were unfortunately all empty. However we did see some pipistrelle bats feeding over the tree tops while we listened to them calling on a bat detector which was quite strange to hear.

Tawny owls were heard calling and a large roost of jackdaws was very noisey in the trees. Also seen was a young hedgehog, my first sighting of one for a few years now.

3 MV bulb moth traps were running and a few nice moths were seen despite the clear sky and cool temperature - 2 orange swift with 1 of them oddly being twice the size of the other, a green carpet, 2 ruby tiger, an August thorn and a silver Y amongst lots of square spot rustics and large yellow underwings and other assorted common moths.

Orange Swift

While at work on the 4th September I found an August Thorn flitting about the corridor so I caught it in a pot and brought it home to photograph before releasing it in the back yard - a new moth for me but one I can't really count for my back yard list!

August Thorn

Mothing in the back yard has continued to be productive with the settled and warm weather although it has been quite cool overnight.

I have had 2 new moths for the back-yard - a Green Carpet and a Cypress Pug, with the latter being a new moth for me as well.

 Green Carpet
Cypress Pug

Other moth highlights have been an L-Album Wainscot (one of my favourites), a tatty Jersey Tiger Moth, a tatty female Four Spotted Footman, a Silver Y, a Large Ranunculus (another of my favourites) and an Old Lady.

L-Album Wainscot
Large Ranunculus

Micro moths have included a White Shouldered House Moth and a Chrysoclista linneella, a very pretty but strange looking moth that would not stay still for a second resulting in some not very good photos.

 White Shouldered House Moth
 Chrysoclista linneella
Chrysoclista linneella

Mediterranean Gull and Bar-Wits at Perranporth, September 5th 2012

A bright and sunny but windy day and with the kids all back at school (Hooray!) we headed off to Perranporth for a walk along the beach and a cooked breakfast at The Watering Hole. What looked like sea-spray over the beach was actually sand due to the strong offshore wind but it was a very pleasant September day despite the wind, and eating a cooked breakfast overlooking the beach with the sand between my toes was heavenly, unlike last year when it was cold, wet and windy and we had to eat inside.

While waiting for the breakfast to arrive I found a winter-plumaged Mediterrnean gull amongst the black headed gulls roosting by the stream flowing across the beach. Later when walking back along the beach it flew overhead before settling along the shoreline allowing close views and I managed to get some nice photos.

 Mediterranean Gull

 Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gull

Also roosting on the beach amongst some gulls were 2 winter-plumaged bar-tailed godwits and despite the large number of people on the beach nearby also allowed some fairly close views.

 Bar-Wit with Herring Gull
Bar-tailed Godwits

Also seen were gannets and fulmars offshore with a flyby cormorant, a male kestrel, a winter plumaged dunlin flying along the shoreline and swallows and house martins overhead.

A six-spot burnet and a small tortoiseshell were also seen along with common blues and meadow browns, and trout were again seen in the stream running through the village.


Monday 3 September 2012

Wembury - 31st August and 3rd September

Heading out to Wembury on the Friday 31st August a juvenile male sparrowhawk was stood over a woodpigeon on the road leading down to the beach. I jumped out of the car and watched as it tried to fly off with the woodpigeon, gradually getting closer to me until it was just a few feet away. Unfortunately a car then drove past and it flew off in to the nearby scrubbery, leaving the carcass on the road. I had a look at it and it had no head and appeared to have been squashed a little by a passing car, I'm not sure if the sparrowhawk had actually killed it or if it was road kill but on the walk back the carcass had gone.

Juvenile male Sparrowhawk with a Woodpigeon kill
Male Sparrowhawk with kill

There were no moths in the toilet block but butterflies were on the wing - small tortoiseshell, speckled wood, red admiral, meadow brown and large white. A dark bush cricket and a bloody nosed beetle were seen along with the usual common lizards - small, dark young and adults.

Common Lizard

Waders were feeding along the beach - 2 redshank, 1 dunlin, 5 turnstone, 4 ringed plover, 1 common sandpiper, 3 whimbrel, oystercatcher and curlew.

2 juvenile wheatear were seen in the cow field and swallows were feeding young on the barbed wire fences.

Juvenile Swallow

A kestrel caused my blood pressure to rise for a second as it did an impression of a hobby by eating something in its talons as it soared overhead and a buzzard was also seen.

Monday 3rd September and I headed out to Wembury again. A wryneck was again reported from Wembury Point over the weekend and so I spent some time looking for it but with no luck. However I did see 2 very smart tree pipts perched on top of a bramble bush which was some consolation along with one of my favourite birds, a yellow wagtail, feeding along the beach amongst the pied wagatils and a white wagtail. Chiffchaffs and whitethroats were flitting about in the bushes, the whitethroats were seen feeding on ripe blackberries, and swallows and house martins were busily feeding overhead in the hot sunshine.

Tree Pipit
Yellow Wagtail

5 sanderling, 4 turnstone, a dunlin, 5 ringed plover, a curlew, oystercatchers and around 10 mobile and noisey whimbrel were seen along the beach with mallards feeding amongst the rocks around the sewage pipe. A female sparrowhawk flew over being buzzed by swallows, 2 buzzards soared overhead mewing and a juvenile peregrine spooked the waders and gulls on the beach. A green woodpecker was heard yaffling but not seen.

Red admirals were much in evidence along with meadow browns and a painted lady was a nice find with a small tortoiseshell on some buddlea flowers. A flyby large yellow underwing was a surprise but there were no moths again in the toilet block. A Helophilus pendulus was seen in the valley to the beach.

Helophilus pendulus
I have bought myself the TZ27 Panasonic Lumix camera, quite pleased with it so far, but I do miss my old TZ8, it was much simpler and smoother to use but I guess I will get used to my new one.