Monday 30 August 2021

Yellow Wagtails at Wembury

Friday 27th August and the August Bank Holiday was upon us and for a change the weather was looking good. As usual I was working but not until the Saturday night and so after an early start sorting out the back yard moth box I headed out for a quick look around Saltram and The Plym.

The grass was very dewy and it felt cool as the sun began to rise higher in the sky to warm up the day and I was pleased to find 2 Whinchat and 2, possibly 3 Tree Pipits along with a Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a female Blackcap and Swallows. The Tree Pipits and Whinchats disappeared from sight as soon as I found them but eventually I did refind the Whinchats which showed very well although they remained very mobile and flighty. Unfortunately the Tree Pipits were never seen again. 



Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit

The tide was high and on a brief look at Blaxton Meadow 6 Greenshank, an adult Shelduck, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 38 Curlew, 10 Oystercatcher and a Kingfisher were noted.


A Purple Hairstreak was a big surprise, found on the footpath in the shade while walking down to the Meadow from Saltram House. I placed it in my hand to warm up before it weakly fluttered away, my first for Saltram.

Purple Haitstreak

Purple Hairstreak

The afternoon was spent sitting on Jennycliff Beach in the warm sunshine, our first beach day for nearly 2 years now, and a Raven, a Little Egret, 5 Oystercatcher, 2 Jersey Tiger Moths and a Magpie Moth kept me entertained as I admired the views of Plymouth Sound.

Saturday 28th August was yet again warm and sunny and so I visited Wembury for a coast walk before starting my night shifts. It was busy as expected and became increasingly so but I had a productive visit.

The tide was high and despite the constant disturbance along the beach I managed to see 79 Oystercatcher, 13 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin, 12 Turnstone, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Curlew.

Bar-tailed Godwits

Bar-tailed Godwits

The previous day had seen a good movement of passerines through the area but things were quieter on my visit although I did see at least 8 Wheatear, 3 Yellow Wagtails and a distant probable Whinchat along with the usual Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Swallows.

Yellow Wagtail

A Mistle Thrush feeding in the top horse field, at least 10 Mediterranean Gulls (2 juveniles) and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull roosting on the rocks amongst the Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Gannets offshore and a hunting Sparrowhawk were also seen. 

A couple of Painted Ladies and Silver Y 's were noted feeding on Valerian flowers and at least 3 male Beautiful Demoiselle were still on the wing along the stream. 

Beautiful Demoiselle

My 3 100 challenge for the year continues and I have finally reached one of my targets with 101 species of moth recorded in the back yard, achieved by paying closer attention to micro moths and with the invaluable ID assistance from @MothIDUK on Twitter. 

Maidens Blush

Dichrorampha acuminatana 
(Sharp-winged Drill) 

Mompha Propinquella (Marbled Mompha) 

Clavigesta purdeyi ( Pine Leaf-mining Moth) 

Saturday 28 August 2021

Osprey, River Plym

Monday 23rd August and it was a warm and sunny morning as I headed off for a River Plym/Saltram walk before a looming night shift.

I caught the bus to Laira Bridge to start my walk and this turned out to be a smart move as within a few minutes of arriving all the gulls started to go beserk and looking around I picked up an Osprey casually gliding past heading downriver, my first Plym sighting of one. It sadly didnt linger for long, disappearing from sight as it headed towards Plymouth Hoe but a very nice surprise.

The rest of my walk wasn't quite as exciting with the highlights being a Greenshank on Blaxton Meadow on the ebbing high tide, 2 Mute Swan and 7 Oystercatcher along the Plym, a small flock of around 40 Redshank roosting on The Embankment, 3 Mandarin Duck at the Duck Pond, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Stonechat, 2 Skylark and at least 2 Whitethroat. 

The warm weather meant plenty of insect activity and I recorded 1 Holly Blue, 1 Peacock, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, 1 Comma, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Common Blue and Large White.

Painted Lady
Painted Lady

Common Darters were buzzing around but a surprise were at least 3 Golden-ringed Dragonfly along with a Treble Bar flushed from the grass. 

Common Darter

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Golden-ringed Dragonfly 

Treble Bar

With the improved weather I have had the moth box out in the back yard overnight with the highlights being 2 very smart looking Black Arches, a Marbled Green, an Old Lady, 4 Jersey Tiger, 2 Mullein Wave, 2 Flounced Rustic and 2 male and 3 female Four Spotted Footman. 

Black Arches

Black Arches

Pyrausta despicata

Wednesday 25th August and I met my mate Mavis for a walk along the Leat at Roborough Down before a spot of lunch at The Dartmoor Diner. It was sunny but cool and we took a slow ramble along the Leat with 2 Redstart and a Grayling being the highlights. 


Thursday 26th August was a warm and sunny day and so we headed out to Stoke Point for our usual coast path walk to Noss Mayo and back. 

The warm weather brought out the butterflies and there seemed to be Small Whites everywhere, especially on the Buddlea flowers. A Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, a Green-veined White, Red Admiral and Painted Lady were enjoying the blossom too along with a Silver Y and along the walk I also saw a Wall, Common Blue, Large White, a Holly Blue and Speckled Wood. A Silver-washed Fritillary on the Buddlea flowers by the community orchard in Moss Mayo was a nice surprise. 

Small White

The usual Linnet, Stonechat, Swallow, Whitethroat and Cirl Bunting were seen and there were Wheatears everywhere, the walls and posts all seemed to have one present on them. I also had a brief view of a Whinchat before it flew off and some distant views of at least 6 very skittish and mobile Yellow Wagtails. 


Yellow Wagtail

2 juvenile Kestrel were practising their flying skills along the cliffs and a lone adult Gannet was picked up offshore heading west. 

Autumn Squill was flowering well in the usual place and I also found plants in flower at a new spot along the walk. 

Autumn Squill

Monday 23 August 2021

River Plym and Wembury

Friday 20th August was overcast and cool and so I headed off to the River Plym and Saltram for a walk to catch the 5pm high tide.

A few butterflies were flitting about in sheltered spots despite the lack of sunshine and I saw good numbers of Common Blue and Meadow Brown along with a few Small Heath and single Painted Lady and Small Copper. 

Blaxton Meadow was bird filled as the tide headed in through the sluice gates with 34 Curlew, 9 Oystercatcher, 2 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, a Greenshank, 14 Little Egret, a Kingfisher and 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls the highlights. One of the Mediterranean Gulls was sporting a red plastic leg ring on it's right leg but it was too distant to read the white letters/numbers on it even with my telescope.

Out on the estuary 4 more Greenshank with the 2 Redshank from Blaxton Meadow were roosting on the embankment along with 11 Grey Heron and a Little Egret.

Around the Park Stock Doves, Swallows, House Martins, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, a Stonechat, a Treecreeper, 3 Spotted Flycatcher (2 juveniles) and 2 Mistle Thrush were all seen, 3 late Swifts were hawking insects high overhead and a Shag was a nice find resting on a buoy just above Laira Bridge on my walk home.

Saturday 21st August was forecasted to be grey and wet but on waking up in the morning the skies were beginning to clear and it was dry and so I decided to head out to Wembury for a walk.

It was warm and humid in the sunshine but as I headed back home the skies had darkened and the mizzle drizzle duly arrived so I was very lucky indeed to catch some decent weather.

The tide was low but along the beach 6 Turnstone, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 2 Dunlin and a Sanderling were seen with the usual Oystercatchers and a single Little Egret. Mediterranean Gulls were roosting out on the rocks with Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were tucking in to the corpse of a Dolphin washed up on the shoreline which appeared to be entangled in a fishing net.

Great Black-backed Gulls with Dolphin Corpse

The sea was flat calm and scanning offshore revealed the usual Gannets and Fulmars along with a distant Sandwich Tern flying west and 2 Harbour Porpoise briefly surfacing out near The Mewstone.

Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Stonechat, Linnet and Cirl Bunting were all noted along the footpath and my first Wheatear of the autumn at Wembury was feeding on the rocks below the horse fields.

Swallows and House Martins were flying around overhead with the House Martins moving back and forth along the coast in loose flocks.

A Wall Brown, a Red Admiral, a Speckled Wood, a Large White, Meadow Browns and Common Blues were flitting about along with 2 male Oak Eggars and a Long-winged Conehead was basking in the sunshine along with the usual Common Lizards.

Common Lizard

Thursday 19 August 2021

Moths and Birds

Back yard moth boxing continues at a slow pace with the cool and unsettled weather keeping numbers low but I did have my first Mullein Wave of the year, one of my favourite back yard moths, along with a Beautiful Plume and a Rusty Dot Pearl.

Mullein Wave

Friday 13th August was grey but dry and so I headed out to Wembury for a walk. It was breezy but warm and humid and the sun did eventually make an appearance as the clouds slowly cleared.

The tide was high and along the beach a large congregation of Gulls were feeding in the surf gently breaking onto the beach and on the seaweed mass washed ashore. 

Gulls at Wembury

I scanned through the assorted Herring and Black-headed Gulls but couldn't find anything more unusual than 14 Mediterranean Gulls (8 juveniles).

With the high tide waders were roosting at The Point - 59 Oystercatcher, 3 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper and a Turnstone were seen along with 3 Little Egret.

I picked up a steady movement of adult, juvenile and sub-adult Gannets offshore heading west and also a distant Shearwater species, too far out and in hazy light conditions to call but it looked good for Balearic. A few Fulmar were flying about around The Mewstone with some sat on the sea and getting aggro from nearby juvenile Herring Gulls and the fat and fluffy chick was still sat on its nesting ledge.

A Cirl Bunting was singing with another male seen along with a female and a juvenile, Stonechats and Linnets were showy, a Chiffchaff and 3 Whitethroat in contrast were skulky.

Common Lizards were basking in the occasional sunny spells including a few small and dark looking young. I was also pleased to finally see my first Long-winged Coneheads at Wembury since autumn 2017, the year before the Beast from the East hit Devon and which seemed to have totally wiped them out here, presumably these are new migrants arriving to recolonise. Also seen were 2 male Oak Eggar moths dashing back and forth along the footpath, presumably trying to home in on a female hidden in the brambles nearby. 

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

Tuesday 17th August was grey and cool in the breeze and I headed out to Wembury again for a walk. There were occasional sunny spells and out of the breeze it felt quite pleasent.

The tide was heading in and there were clearly waders on the move with a nice selection on show on the rocks - 78 Oystercatcher, 5 Ringed Plover, 4 Curlew, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Sanderling. 4 Little Egret and 7 female Mallard were also seen and amongst the usual assorted gulls were 15 Mediterranean Gulls including a ringed juvenile.



Dunlin and Sanderling


Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover

Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gull - ringed 1st July 2021 at Langstone Harbour, Hampshire

Mediterranean Gull

The usual Stonechat, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Rock Pipit were seen with a juvenile Willow Warbler at The Point and a Coal Tit in a village garden also noted.

Cirl Bunting

More Common Lizards were seen sunning themselves on various fences, walls and posts along with more Long-winged Coneheads and a Dark Bush-cricket but the star find of the day was a Convolvulus Hawkmoth found resting on a post, a huge beast of a moth with massive eyes and an absolute delight to see. 

Common Lizard

Long-winged Conehead

Long-winged Conehead

Dark Bush-cricket

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Convolvulus Hawkmoth 

Convolvulus Hawkmoth 

Convolvulus Hawkmoth 

Convolvulus Hawkmoth