The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Monday, 15 July 2013

Four-spotted Spotted

I winded my way to the obs first thing, via Top Fields and Culverwell.  Nothing of note bird-wise, except an adult male Peregrine being harassed for food by a juvenile female - presumably the west cliffs family.  However, it was just past seven, and I noticed that the butterflies, including lots of Marbled White, were already on the wing.  We were clearly in for another scorcher.

A peak in the moth trap at the obs revealed another ball-pit of lepidoptera.  I didn't have to rummage long before I found the star of the show, a moth I'd been longing to see since I came here, the Four-spotted.  A rare notable A species, which also flies by day (I was hoping my first sighting would be own-found during the day, but I'll take this!).  If you were wondering, the other two spots are on it's hind-wings.
Other highlights from the trap were Brussel's Lace (a better shot than yesterday's).

Dark Sword-grass (above, with Dark Arches) 

And two local micro specialities, Sitochroa palealis (shot taken through pot) and Epischnia banksiella.

I then went on to the Bill, in the hope that the earlier morning might produce something on the sea.  As usual for the time of year and with no wind, it was hard going, but it paid off in the end.  2 Balearic Shearwater passed east, one really close.  I attempted to phonescope it, but I shan't embarrass myself by posting it!  I also managed to record a Redshank east, a Black-headed Gull east (you may laugh, but they're scarce-ish at the Bill), 7 Common Scoter east and 23 west, a distant flock of 12 'Commic' Tern east, an Oystercatcher on the rocks, and 7 Mediterranean Gull offshore.
On the way home for lunch, I stopped into Cheyne Weares briefly.  Nothing on the bird front, but I found these cool Mullein Moth caterpillars.
And, although they are common here, I haven't yet got a photo of the appropriately named Portland Spurge.
Whilst I'm talking about Cheyne Weares, I'll take the opportunity to tell you about this odd plant I found there on my last visit.  It has been ID'd as Dorycnium hirsutum, which doesn't occur in Britain.  As it's right next to the car park I'm guessing it's the result of someone's garden clippings fly-tip.  It rejoices in the common name of Hairy Canary Clover!
In the afternoon I was determined to take a dip in the sea, and so headed for Church Ope Cove.  On the way past King Barrow quarry, I found the Portland plant ticks of Meadowsweet and Common Valerian.  I found this fantastic secluded, and deserted, beach to enjoy the water!


The East Weares Peregrine family were really active, with three birds flying around above my head as I cooled off in the sea.  Couldn't have hoped for a better spot to relax!

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