Monday 24 June 2013

June Wildlife Sightings - Part 2

June 17th and we headed off to the caravan in Bude for a few days. The weather was cool, windy and showery in the evening but I still headed off for a walk around some nearby farm buildings to look for barn owls which are frequently reported from around the nearby area. I was out of luck but I did see a few pipistrelle bats flitting about along the lanes as dusk fell and there was a very picturesque sunset when the clouds parted briefly.

The following day was cloudy but calm and a walk along the cliffs disturbed a few silver y moths from the vegetation by the footpath. A few gannets and fulmars were seen offshore and some sticklebacks were seen in the stream flowing down to Crooklets Beach.

Male Stickleback - brightly coloured and smaller than the females

Walking back to the caravan via Maer Lake in the afternoon and the sun was shining at last. The lesser whitethroat was again singing from the roadside hedgerow and I managed a very brief and obscured view as it moved through the vegetation. On the Lake a pair of teal was a surprise along with a redshank on the lakeside mud while a sparrowhawk flew over causing panic.

It remained still for our evening clifftop walk and the sea was flat calm and looking like a polished mirror. Small groups of Manx shearwaters were picked out flying low over the water heading towards Lundy. While scanning I picked out 2 pods of harbour porpoise, 1 close in to shore near some fishing buoys and 1 further out. I saw 3 individuals at the surface together, 1 in the closer pod and 2 in the further pod, with an estimate of 10 altogether (4 close in and 6 further out) but the views were characteristically brief as they rolled to breathe at the waters surface. However 1 was seen logging at the surface for around 20 seconds before disappearing from view.

Scanning for barn owls on the nearby farmland on the walk back to the caravan and I again failed to find any but I did see a fox watching some grazing sheep.

That night I had the moth box out and in the morning I had a nice haul including a few new ones - clouded silver, middle barred minor and cream spot tiger moth - along with poplar- and elephant hawkmoths, rivulet,  buff tip, small angle shades, straw dot and white ermine amongst others.

 Poplar Hawkmoth
 White Ermine
 Elephant Hawkmoth
 Elephant Hawkmoth
Elephant Hawkmoth

 Cream Spot Tiger Moth
 Cream Spot Tiger Moth playing dead
 Middle Barred Minor
Small Angle Shades - very handsome and one of my favourite moths

The morning was bright and sunny and stayed that way all day so we walked along the Bude Canal to Marhamchurch to see the canal incline. In the 20+ years we have been visiting Bude we have never done this walk and it was quite enjoyable with some good wildlife. Bird wise I saw kingfisher, bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker and reed warblers along with my first meadow brown butterfly and beautiful demoiselle of the year.
 Meadow Brown
 Azure Damselfly
Scorpion Fly

June 24th and I headed off to Wembury for a walk. The forecast was for sunny spells so I wore my shorts but it was quite cool and the sun failed to materialise. The only butterfly I saw was a speckled wood and there was a common wave in the toilet block which I caught and released outside. The clifftop collapses along the footpath have resulted in many of the clumps of birds foot trefoil being swept away so I wasn't sure if I would find any 6 spot burnet moths but I eventually found a very smart adult feeding on a flower head.

 Common Wave
Six-Spot Burnet Moth

A redhead red breasted merganser had been reported at Wembury Point over the weekend so I had a scan for it and eventually found it feeding amongst the rocks as the tide went out, a very strange sight in June in South Devon! It was nice to see a few fledgling birds around too - swallow, linnet, song thrush, whitethroat and robin fledglings were all seen - and chiffchaff, blackcap and whitethroat were all heard singing too. 2 grey heron and 2 little egrets were feeding in the rock pools and oystercatchers were noisy and flighty along the shoreline.

Juvenile Swallows waiting to be fed by their parents
Male Linnet

A few insects were seen including a new for me - and very attractive - sloe bug, and various plants were in flower including sheepsbit and common broomrape.

 Sloe Bug
 Stinking Iris
 Common Broomrape
Cinquefoil sp.

And the good news is the Old Mill Cafe will be reopening in July and they will be selling Chunk pastys - all will be right with the world very soon!

Sunday 23 June 2013

June Wildlife Sightings - Part 1

With the arrival of June the weather finally improved and it became warm and sunny, perfect timing as this is the time of year birding takes a back seat and insects and plants become more of a focus.

June 2nd and I headed off to Wembury for a walk in the sunshine wearing my shorts at last. Best birds were 2 female type wheatears feeding together on the beach near the sewage pipe, either late migrants or failed breeders. Another nice find was a red legged partridge feeding out in the open in the field above the horsefield, a bird I have only seen a few times at Wembury before.

Red-Legged Partridge

With the good weather insects were more noticeable and I saw my first green hairstreak of the year along with a false oil beetle and bloody nosed beetle larva. The toilet block held a new for Wembury scalloped hazel and I found a few Depressia daucella caterpillars feeding on the dropwort flower heads.

 Bloody Nosed Beetle Larva
 False Oil Beetle
 Scalloped Hazel
 Depressia daucella Caterpillars in Dropwort flowers
 Green Hairstreak
 Green Hairstreak
 Green Shield Bug
Enoplops scapha?
 Ladybird Larva
Pyrochroa serraticornis?

 Scorpion Fly
 Miner Bee?

On the way home I stopped off at Blagdons Meadow by the River Plym and found both purple and white forms of Early purple orchids along with a few Southern marsh orchids, all looking a little floppy in the very dry soil conditions.

 Early Purple Orchid -Purple Form
 Early Purple Orchid - White Form
 Southern Marsh Orchid
 Southern Marsh Orchid
Yellow Rattle, Blagdons Meadow

Burnet companion moths were easily disturbed from the vegetation and I saw my first common blue butterflys of the year along with a green veined white. I also found a very nice treble bar moth on the wall of a nearby subway.

 Burnet Companion
 Green Veined White
Green Veined White

Treble Bar

A further red legged partridge sighting was on a walk at Stoke Point on the 7th June along with a peregrine and a yellowhammer, and I had my first small copper sighting of the year at Cawsands in Cornwall on the 8th June.

A day trip to the caravan at Bude on the 9th June and there were no moths in the toilet blocks. A male wigeon was a strange sighting feeding at Maer Lake with mallards, actually upending in the water rather than grazing on the land and 2 summer plumaged dunlins were feeding on the muddy margins of the lake. A surprise was a singing lesser whitehtroat in the hedgerow by the road overlooking the lake but it kept within the leafy cover and I didn't manage a sighting. A young hare was another surprise as it fed out in the open on the grass right in front of the caravan late in the evening - it virtually disappeared as I approached it as it crouched down amongst a tuft of vegetation before running off.

Young Hare, Bude

With the good weather I have had the moth box out in the back yard and caught a new for the garden but sadly rather faded least black arches. Also of note were a treble bar and a poplar hawk moth.

Poplar Hawk Moth

My mates Mavis and Mike also held another moth night in the garden at Dousland on the 14th and I managed to see 2 new species in the trap, a broken barred carpet and a barred umber.

 Broken Barred Carpet
Barred Umber

 Iron Prominent
Common Marbled Carpet

After sorting out the moth trap at Mavis and Mikes house we headed off for a walk on Dartmoor and saw 2 cuckoos, a pair of redstarts, a garden warbler singing away in a leafy tree giving brief views only, a songflighting redpoll, a pair of whinchats and songflighting tree pipits along with sundew and heath spotted orchids.

 Male Whinchat
 Heath Spotted Orchid
Siskins, Dousland

 Cotton Grass

June 15th and I headed off to Weymouth for the day with Mavis on a coach trip organised by the Plymouth RSPB group. It was a long day with only 4(!) hours in Weymouth and 8(!) hours travelling but it was a very nice and chilled out day with some spectacular scenery on the drive between Honiton and Weymouth, and I got to see Maiden Castle too.

First stop was at Ferrybridges where a walk along the pebbly Chesil Beach in very strong winds gave some nice views of little terns nesting in a fenced off protected area and flying overhead. We walked to the top of the ridge of the beach where we were nearly blown away with the wind but it was beautifully exhilarating being blasted by wind and salt spray in the bright sunshine with the crashing waves against the beach. It was strange to see the little terns fishing amongst the wind and waves, managing to dive for fish despite their diminutive size.

Second stop was at the RSPB reserve at Radipole Lake in the centre of Weymouth. Bearded tits had been sighted that morning despite the wind and we were in luck with a sighting of a male bearded tit pinging away at the reed tops while 3 juveniles skulked in the reeds nearby before disappearing from sight as the male flew off. Mavis found a very nice female marsh harrier hunting over the reedbeds, it had a very pale crown and face, quite distinctive, and it gave some good views as it came quite close to the hide. Other birds included a female gadwall with 10 ducklings, a little egret, reed warblers heard singing but not seen and quite a few swift hawking over the reedbeds and open water areas.

 Male Bearded Tit
 Male Bearded Tit
 Male Tufted Duck, Radipole Lake
Feral Mallards, Radipole Lake

Southern marsh orchids were in flower along with a couple of bee orchids which were surprisingly easily overlooked right by the footpath. A nettle tap moth was seen flitting around some nettles and a male common blue was also seen.

 Bee Orchid
Southern Marsh Orchid