Sunday 29 June 2014

River Exe and Wembury

Saturday June 27th and I headed off to Topsham to have another look at the apparently summering Ross's gull, seeing the resident Slavonian grebe in summer plumage at Cockwood from the train on the way there. Arriving at the hide at Bowling Green Marsh at around 8:30 there were just 2 birders present so I settled in to scan the roosting birds present due to the high tide. The Ross's gull had been showing very well around 15 minutes before I arrived before disappearing amongst the large numbers of black headed gulls but eventually I managed a brief flight view of it as it landed on the mud before walking off behind a grassy bank and out of sight - not the views I had hoped for! It stayed hidden for a good hour before all the gulls took off together and flew off to the River Clyst. I again managed some brief flight views but I soon lost it amongst the flying gulls, again not the views I had hoped for! Never mind.

As compensation I had some distant views of 2 summer plumaged spotted redshanks roosting amongst the wader flock, mostly obscured by redshanks, curlews and black-tailed godwits but eventually showing well before flying off to the River Clyst as the tide receded. Also seen amongst the wader flock were 4 greenshanks, 2 whimbrel and a few lapwing.

2 (distant) Spotted Redshanks (on the left) with Redshanks

I headed off to Dawlish Warren for a wander around, getting wet at times in the heavy showers before sweltering in the sunny spells. Marsh helleborines were in flower and there were a few tatty looking southern marsh orchids still hanging on. Small skippers were very noticeable along with meadow browns and a few six spot burnets. I managed to find some cinnabar moth caterpillars and some mullein moth caterpillars and a few blue tailed damselflys were flitting about amongst the bramble bushes.

 Marsh Helleborine
 Marsh Helleborine
 Female Blue tailed Damselfy
 Male Blue tailed Damselfly
Mullein Moth Caterpillar

Offshore a few gannets were flying around with Sandwich terns diving for fish. A flock of around 10 common scoters were very hard to see amongst the choppy seas. On the main pond were 4 well grown young little grebes with 2 reed warblers heard singing. Chiffchaff and blackcap were heard and whitethroats were busily songflighting and a pair of Canada geese were very protective of 4 goslings, hissing at me as I passed by.

Sunday 29th June and I headed off to Wembury despite the grey skies but it eventually turned out quite sunny and warm. Bird wise it was as expected very quiet with 1 oystercatcher, 2 curlew and 7 male and 1 female mallard along the beach and a few gannets offshore. Chiffchaff and blackcap were heard and whitethroats were heard and seen including quite a few fledglings. Stonechat fledglings were also noticeable. A cirl bunting was heard singing near the sewage farm with a second bird seen singing at the same time and later a third male was seen at Wembury Point.

Insect life was again abundant with a large skipper, a red admiral, a large white and 2 small tortoiseshells being seen along with my first for the year small white and a marbled white. There were also good numbers of ringlets and meadow browns flitting around. Best of all was a hummingbird hawkmoth flying back and forth over a shale covered area on the cliff at Wembury Point, presumably enjoying the radiant heat, and 2 six spot burnets were seen feeding on thistle flowers. Bloody-nosed beetles were seen high up in the pathside vegetation including a mating pair and 2 young speckled bush crickets were also seen. It was also nice to see the sea kale has survived on the beach after the horrendous winter storms as it finally comes in to leaf.

Marbled White
 Bloody-nosed Beetle
 Speckled Bush Cricket nymph
Sea Kale hanging on in there along the beach

Heading home and I stopped off at Blagdons Meadow to look for bee orchids but I was out of luck although there was a very tatty southern marsh orchid still hanging on. A lone burnet companion was seen along with six spot burnets, meadow browns and a ringlet. 2 male whitethroats were still singing away and a shelduck was feeding on the very smelly mudflats at low tide before I headed off home just as a shower of rain started.

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