Monday 27 June 2022

The Sunshine (mostly) Continues

With the warm weather continuing we had a walk around Plymouth Hoe on Saturday 18th June and enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages at The Waterfront along the way. Despite the nice weather it wasn't too busy with people and I was pleased to note at least 3 Painted Lady along with 6-Spot Burnet flying around in the sunshine.

Monday 20th June was another sunny day but with a cooling breeze and occasional cloud which made for a very pleasant walk along the coast path at Wembury. Again it wasn't too busy and we enjoyed a pasty and coffee from the cafe for lunch before heading home for me to prepare for yet more night shifts.

I was pleased to see a Ringlet and two Painted Lady along the walk along with Common Blue, Red Admiral, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell. 

Painted Lady

Meadow Brown Lovin'

On the high tide there were around 20 1st summer Black-headed Gulls feeding in the gentle surf lapping against the beach and amongst them were a 1st summer and a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull. Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat were still singing away and 12 Oystercatcher, a Little Egret and a pair of Mallard were roosting on the rocks. 

Mediterranean Gull - 1st Summer

A nice surprise on arriving home on Tuesday 21st June after my night shift was an Old Lady that David had found in the back yard, my first of the year and one of my favourite moths.

Old Lady

Thursday 23rd June was warm and sunny and with White-letter Hairstreak being reported at both Oreston and Central Park I decided to head out to Oreston for a look. On arriving I was pleased to see local butterflier Dave was present and we enjoyed good views of at least 3 individuals but they were flitty and flighty and never settled very close.

White-letter Hairstreak  - the best shot I could get

White-letter Hairstreak - Caterpillar damage on the Elm leaf?

A Peregrine was seen flying over along with a Swift while 2 Chiffchaffs were heard singing away but with the Hairstreak sightings drying up by 11am I walked over to nearby Billacombe Railway for a look, noting a Comma, a Painted Lady and Pyramidal Orchids along the way. Unfortunately there were no Bee Orchids present amongst the Pyramidal Orchids this year. 

Painted Lady

Pyramidal Orchid

There was no sign of any White-letter Hairstreaks at Billacombe either but I did find a nice Scarlet Tiger Moth along with a Marbled White and at least 4 Ringlets.

Scarlet Tiger Moth

The weather forecast for the night was for heavy showers and with one arriving at around 8pm I almost didn't put the moth box out in the back yard but after it had passed over I carried on as planned and hoped for the best. Bizarrely there was no rain at all overnight and I had a nice haul of dry moths the next morning including 3 Coronet, presumably different individuals than those caught last week, along with my first back yard Bordered Straw. 

Bordered Straw

Royal Mantle

Eudonia collage - delunella (1), mercurella (2 & 3) and lacustrata (4) (with thanks to @UKMOTHID on Twitter) 

Coleophora trifolii

Saturday 25th June was cool and breezy with sunny spells and showers but I headed over to Central Park anyway to look for the White-letter Hairstreaks. I wasn't very hopeful given the weather conditions and after an hour I was about to give up when I saw at least 3 of them buzzing over the top of an elm tree in aerial skirmishes. Unfortunately they stayed in the tree top and didn't descend to feed on the Cottoneaster flowers but I was pleased to see them albeit through my binoculars.

I had a quick look around Ford Park Cemetery on the walk home and got caught in a very heavy shower but after it had passed the butterflies appeared - Marbled White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown - and I also had a quick look around Drakes Reservoir too where around 5 Common Blue Damselflies and 3 Small Red-eyed Damselflies were flying around and resting on the lily pads.

Marbled White

Marbled White

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

It also appears that our Herring Gulls nesting on the chimney stack have failed at the egg stage this year. They were seen sitting on the nest but nothing happened and they are no longer present, the first time they have failed to hatch eggs. Also there are no Herring Gulls nesting on the chimney stack across the road from us this year and so I guess it will a lot quieter around here first thing in the mornings.!

Sunday 19 June 2022

Warming Up

The weather has finally realised that it is summer and has subsequently begun to warm up a little and with sunny skies and temperatures predicted to reach 25c by the end of the week it's nice to get the old legs out of trousers and into shorts at last.

Monday 13th June was grey and cloudy on waking up but with a forecast for sunny spells later in the day I spent the morning pottering about before heading off for a Plym/Saltram walk. It did indeed brighten up as the afternoon progressed and it became quite warm too, ideal for a bit of invertebrate watching.

There were plenty of butterflies about in the sunshine with my first Marbled White and Ringlet of the year on the wing along with Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, Small Heath and Common Blue. 

Marbled White

Marbled White


Small Heath

Cinnabar Moth, Bloodvein and Six-spot Burnet were also new for the year and plenty of Burnet Companion were flitting about too. 

Cinnabar Moth


Burnet Companion

Bee Orchid and Southern Marsh Orchid were still in flower and I was pleased to find my first Pyramidal Orchids of the year. 

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid

Bird wise it was quiet as expected with the highlights being 4 Raven circling overhead, presumably a family group, a single Sparrowhawk also overhead, singing Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Skylark, a very striking looking male Bullfinch feeding on Buddlea seeds, a Shag on a buoy in the river at Laira Bridge and around 25 Swift feeding over the trees with around 10 House Martin and a single Swallow. 

Tuesday 14th June was warm and sunny on waking up in the morning and with yet another night shift looming that evening I headed out to Wembury for a walk. It was very pleasant but became very hot in the sunshine and I was glad to return home and get into the shade for a cool down. 

Bird wise it was quiet again with the highlights being a flyover Grey Heron along the coast heading west, a very smart looking adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull roosting on the rocks with 2 1st summer Black-headed Gulls, 2 Shelduck on the rocks at The Point again, a Red-legged Partridge in the horse field again and the usual showy and singing Whitethroats. 

There were lots of insects about in the heat with 2 male Beautiful Demoiselle, 2 male Azure Damselflies, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Common Blue and Small Tortoiseshell all seen. 

Beautiful Demoiselle

Azure Damselfly

On the bare and sandy cliff top at The Point there were 2 Green-eyed Flower Bees buzzing about in the warmth of the sun, a new species of Bee for me at Wembury. 

Green-eyed Flower Bee

Friday 17th June duly arrived and it was as hot as forecasted. I decided to head off to Horrabridge to look for Fritillaries following sighting reports on Twitter and when I arrived on site at around 9:40 it was already hot and quite humid with very little breeze. 

Within 10 minutes of arriving I found a large Fritillary species floating around the bracken but it didn't settle and soon disappeared from view. With further searching I found a Large Skipper, a Red Admiral, Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns and Brimstones and had a brief view of another very faded large Fritillary species disappearing into the bracken. 

Golden-ringed Dragonfly, 2 female Beautiful Demoiselle, Siskin, Buzzard, Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit were all seen with Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and a Green Woodpecker all heard. 

I returned to the spot I had first seen the Fritillary and stood in the shade to cool down and while scanning the nearby vegetation I refound the Fritillary flitting about all over the place. Eventually it rested briefly on the bracken and I was able to ID it as a Dark Green Fritillary. 

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary 

Dark Green Fritillary

"Arty" shot of a bleached out Dark Green Fritillary in the strong sunlight

Another Fritillary appeared and eventually up to 5 were seen but all were active and mobile until eventually another one settled on the vegetation and on checking it out it was a High Brown Fritillary. 

High Brown Fritillary

High Brown Fritillary

I had a look for Silver-washed Fritillary in the spot I saw one last year but with no luck although I did find another High Brown Fritillary nectaring on bramble flowers before it dashed off. 

It was unpleasantly hot by now and so I headed off home on the 12:15 bus and very glad to get into the cool shade of the house I was after a very enjoyable if sticky walk. 

That evening I had arranged to meet my mate Mavis on Roborough Down for a Nightjar walk. We meet up at 19:45 and had a slow ramble across the Down, enjoying the cooling breeze and beautiful views in the fading sunlight. Skylark, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush and Chaffinch were singing away and we had some lovely views of Linnets, Stonechats and Yellowhammers. 

It was very quiet on the Nightjar front but eventually at around 21:45 we heard our first churring and eventually had some excellent views of a male perched up in a dead tree and floating around over the gorse wing-clapping and "guicking" away. The white wing and tail markings were very noticeable despite the gloomy light and the buoyant flight was unreal to watch as the Nightjar appeared to "bounce" over the vegetation. 

Another male was heard churring nearby and at one point we had 3 birds flying around together, one was our showy churring male and the other two were unsexed birds. 

We left at around 22:15 when the light had pretty much gone but we could still hear a male churring away as we got into the car, all in all a very magical experience. 

With the hot weather I had the moth box out in the back yard that night and managed to catch a nice selection of moths including Coronet, Mullein Wave and my first ever back yard Elephant Hawk Moth. 


Mullein Wave

Elephant Hawk Moth

Knot Grass

Buff Arches

Grey/Dark Dagger

May Highflyer

I'm not a fan of hot weather but it has meant that I've been able to enjoy a nice variety of wildlife sightings and it has all been very local.

Saturday 11 June 2022

Bees and Frits

A walk around Plymouth Hoe before the crowds descended on Saturday 4th June was just what I needed after completing my 2 busy night shifts on the Friday. It was quiet bird wise but I did see Bee Orchids flowering in the meadow near the allotment, always a joy to see.

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Wednesday 8th June and with occasional sunny spells but a stiff breeze we headed up to Dartmoor for a walk. It was cool in the breeze, especially so when the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and there were occasional short bursts of rain too, but I finally managed to see the Marsh Fritillaries at Challacombe Farm.

Marsh Fritillary

Marsh Fritillary

Marsh Fritillary

Marsh Fritillary

I managed to see at least 7 of them including a group of 4 together but they were flitty and mobile and only appeared when the sun shone. A few Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary were seen too but were even more flitty and the only other butterfly seen was a Small Heath.

Heath Spotted Orchids were in flower everywhere, I don't think I've seen so many before, and they exhibited a range of colours including a beautiful pure white variety. 

Heath Spotted Orchid

Heath Spotted Orchid

Heath Spotted Orchid and Hoverfly - I thought it may have been a Bog Hoverfly but the legs are black and yellow

Hoverfly legs close up - Bog Hoverfly legs are all yellow

A Great Spotted Woodpecker flying over, a male Whinchat on the roadside fence, a male Wheatear on a stone wall and a male Reed Bunting were all seen and Willow Warbler, a Redstart and a Garden Warbler were all heard singing but I spent most of my time looking down at the ground and not at the birds.

A Keeled Skimmer, a pair of Beautiful Demoiselle, Large Red Damselfly and "Blue" Damselfly were also seen buzzing around in the grass.

Keeled Skimmer

We carried on to nearby Grimspound for a look about, I've visited here once before many years ago but remember very little about it. The views were stunning from its hillside position despite being exposed to the full force of the wind and I saw a few Wheatear flying around before we headed onwards to The Warren House Inn for a lunch of rabbit pie and a warm up by their ever burning log fire.

Grimspound Prehistoric Village
I had the day to myself on Thursday 9th June and had planned to visit Roborough Down for a walk. The weather forecast wasn't looking great so I nearly changed my mind but as it was sunny when I awoke in the morning I decided to just go for it anyway. By the time I arrived at Yelverton to start my walk  it had totally clouded over and by the time I finished my walk at The Dartmoor Diner where I met David and his Mum for lunch it was chucking it down with rain but I enjoyed the walk in between.

Just one butterfly was seen in the cool and cloudy conditions, a Small Heath disturbed from the grass as I walked by. Heath Spotted Orchids were in flower but were smaller and weedier looking than those seen the previous day at Challacombe Farm. A Purple Bar moth was found around the toilet block lights at Yelverton and a Common Carpet was disturbed from the pathside vegetation.

Heath Spotted Orchid 

Birding was slow as I dawdled along but Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were heard singing while 2 Swift and 2 Swallow were seen overhead. A pair of Yellowhammers, Stonechats with fledglings, a Mistle Thrush feeding on the Yelverton  Cricket Club pitch, a Buzzard, 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying over with adult Herring Gulls and 2 songflighting Whitethroats were also seen.

Friday 10th June and the weather was a complete contrast to the previous day as I headed out to Wembury for a morning walk before yet another 2 looming night shifts. It was dry and sunny and still and by the time I headed back home to Plymouth it was very warm indeed and I was wishing I had worn my shorts. 

It was quiet on the birding front with a Coal Tit in a village garden, a Red-legged Partridge in the horse field, 2 Shelduck asleep on the rocks below The Point and a flyover Kestrel carrying prey in its talons the highlights. 

Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat were still singing away but there was no sight or sound of the recent Reed Warbler. Cirl Buntings were seen and heard and fledglings of Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Blue Tit and Robin were seen. 

The warm weather meant plenty of insect activity was buzzing around. The highlight was a Green Hairstreak on the gorse bushes looking like it was fresh out of its box along with a second individual that looked like it had one foot in its box! Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Large Skipper were also seen along with around 30 Peacock caterpillars feeding on nettles. 

Green Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak

Large Skipper

Large Skippers



A male Beautiful Demoiselle, 2 Common Lizard, Bloody Nose Beetles and Swollen-thighed Beetle were also seen along with caterpillars of Magpie Moth, Lackey Moth, Oak Eggar, Drinker and Depressia daucella. A Shark moth was a nice find too, my first one ever, it was doing a very good impression of a very small Hawkmoth as it rested on the wooden post where I found last years Convolvulus Hawkmoth. 

Magpie Moth

Oak Eggar





It's certainly been an interesting couple of wildlife watching days despite the changeable weather, again I never cease to be amazed by the wildlife available for me to see and enjoy so close to home