Thursday 31 May 2018

A Few Bits and Bobs

First-summer Lesser Black-backed Gull - Exmouth Beach
Still virtually nothing to report, but very little time out at the moment. Off Mudbank were 2 Common Terns, 3 Sandwich Tern and 4 or 5 Mediterranean Gulls. Waders included 2 Dunlin, 15+ Sanderling and 3 Whimbrel.
This afternoon I met up with Martin for a quick stroll around the local commons. Some nice insects were discovered despite the damp and drizzle....

Small Purple-barred - good numbers of these on the wing at the moment but missed target Clouded Buff and Narrow-winged Pug.

Common Heath - plenty of these seen. Other species recorded included Silver Y, Blood-vein, Cinnabar, Straw Dot, Bramble Shoot Moth and Common Tubic.

Small Grass Emerald

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - one or two of these seen, plus 2 Green Hairstreak, Painted Lady, several Common Blue and Large Skipper.

Painted Lady

Common Spotted Orchid

Monday 28 May 2018

Insects - Edit

A couple of bee species and a few moths from the trap this morning. The above bee was not a lot bigger than an ant and the one below sports a reddish patch on the abdomen that is most noticeable in flight.
In the trap were Common Swift, 3 Cinnabar, Riband Wave, Flame Carpet, Garden Carpet, 2 Common Marbled Carpet, Common Pug, Grey Pug, Oak-tree Pug, Brimstone Moth, Peppered Moth, Willow Beauty, 2 Poplar Hawkmoth, Puss Moth, Swallow Prominent, Pale Tussock, Buff Ermine, 2 Muslin Moth, Cinnabar, Least Black Arches, 2 Heart and Dart, Shuttle-shaped Dart, 3+ Flame Shoulder, 2 Bright-line Brown-eye, 3+ Marbled Minor Agg, Treble Lines, 2 Vine's Rustic and Spectacle. A small number of micros included 3 Diamond-backs - the only immigrant species in the trap.

Red-girdled Mining Bee - thank you to Nick for the identification. This is apparently a scarce and localised species with a preference for sandy soils. It looks like I have a small colony at the back of my garden. They are a small bee and the red band is visible, and distinctive, as they fly low to the ground in small circuits.

Common Blue

Puss Moth

Marbled Minor Agg


Pale Tussock


Common Swift

Poplar Hawkmoth

Muslin Moth - male

Flame Shoulder

Vine's Rustic

Dark-barred Tortrix - Syndemis musculana

Treble Lines

Sunday 20 May 2018

Emperor Moth

Emperor Moth - male.
Once again, a big thank you to Martin. We met up on East Budleigh Common, where Martin deployed a pheromone lure, to attract Emperor Moths. We weren't sure if it would be successful, as I've only seen a couple male Emperors on the commons this week, and it was fairly cool and overcast this afternoon. We needn't have worried, as within a couple minutes a couple males zoomed in. We probably saw between 10 and 20 in total, and I managed to catch the above individual. As you can see it's a really beautiful species, and even though I've seen countless photos and illustrations, it's still breath-taking to see one in the flesh.
The males have an extremely fast flight, but you can see the orange hindwings on them, and occasionally even the eye-spots. As they approach the lure they frequently change direction. Nick pointed out that they make adjustments in their flight path as their antennae pick up different concentrations of pheromone in each antennae.
Heath-spotted Orchid

Thursday 17 May 2018

Square Spot

Square Spot - Bicton Common. One male Emperor Moth and a few Common Heath were also seen this afternoon.
An unexpected highlight this afternoon was my first Square Spot. It flew in to me as I was walking around a wooded part of Bicton Common. It's a local species found in southern Britain. Not sure of its status in Devon. Otherwise it's been a quiet week with local Spotted Flycatchers, Firecrests and Nightjars seen, and a single Red Kite over the river at the beginning of the week.

Grey-patched Mining Bee - thank you to Nick for the id.


Spotted Flycatcher 

Friday 11 May 2018

So, So Quiet

Dunlin and Sanderlings - Maer Rocks - 8/5
I've seen virtually nothing this week. This afternoon off Mudbank, just before high tide - 3 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 4 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Great Crested Grebe and 35+ Sandwich Tern.
A brief 30 minute look off Maer rocks revealed a further 10+ Sandwich Tern, 3 Common Tern, 9 Manx Shearwater and a Great Crested Grebe.
On Tuesday there were 7 Sanderlings and a Dunlin on Maer Rocks, and on Monday a Red Kite was watched from the back of our house, thanks to a 'heads-up' from Terry.

Sunday 6 May 2018

Chamomile Shark and Osprey

Chamomile Shark - Nick trapped this moth last night - a brand new one for me and for Nick. The main feature, which distinguishes this moth from the Shark, is the extension of the black forewing streaks on to the fringes of the wing. It also helps that this species is on the wing over a month earlier than Shark. According to 'Waring and Townsend' the larvae feed on Scentless Mayweed, Chamomile, Corn Chamomile, Stinking Chamomile and Feverfew. Nick presumably has one or more of these plants growing close by.
I never got as far as Orcombe Point this morning, but I sat and looked at the sea for a little while from around 0625. Almost immediately the gulls in the area went crazy and an Osprey drifted overhead, circling once or twice just offshore from Maer Rocks before dragging its tail of gulls towards Dawlish Warren. Other species noted included a lingering Great Skua, 4+ Sandwich Tern, 1 Common Tern, 2 Sanderling, 2 Common Scoter, 11+ Manx Shearwater and a Whimbrel.
The Whimbrel count reached 35+ off Mudbank but otherwise just 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin were noted.
Late morning we all trooped up to Yarner for a dog-walk and picnic. Birds noted included a few Pied Flycatchers, Garden Warbler and Redstart, but only 1 Wood Warbler was seen - a singing male that was ringed. Unfortunately the photo below was all I could manage.
Osprey over Maer Rocks at around 0630 this morning.

Singing male Pied Flycatcher - Yarner Woods

Wood Warbler - Yarner Woods. A ringed individual.

Saturday 5 May 2018

Returning Breeders and Emperor Moths

Green-winged Orchid - several flowers out now but not the 'purple carpet' it can be..... yet.

Orcombe was very quiet this morning but my first Common Sandpiper, in Exmouth, this year was on the rocks and a lone Willow Warbler 'willow-warbled' from clifftop sallows.
Maer Rocks produced just a lone Whimbrel with 1 Common Tern and 9+ Sandwich Tern offshore.
The river was hidden by a thick bank of morning fog but I managed to log 25+ Whimbrel off there and little else.
This afternoon I had a wander around the margins of the Exmouth parish and was pleased to find Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher and Dartford Warbler, all back on territory.
On Bystock Common, c10/20+ Brimstone butterflies were on the wing and on East Budleigh Common an estimated 50+ male Emperor Moths were zooming round late afternoon, assuming of course that I'm not counting the same individuals doing laps, which is entirely possible. Martin made it over to see them. Great to catch up with him as always.
It's been a busy week at work this week so I haven't seen much, but on the 1st a 5 minute 'glance' off the seafront produced a Great Skua and 8 Manx Shearwater.

Common Tern below the fog bank.

Holly Blue (above) and Speckled Wood on laurel, in the garden this afternoon. Orange-tip and Green-veined White also seen.

Spotted Flycatcher back on territory.