The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Friday, 23 August 2013

Oblique Terning

The last couple of days past largely uneventfully, until last night and this morning, in which mothing provided plenty of interest.


The only birding I was able to do this morning was a quick whizz round the Barelycrates/Reap area at dawn.  As soon as I got alongside the crop, I flushed 4 Yellow Wagtail that had clearly roosted there.  Just a few Wheatear and a fly-over Tree Pipit later, it was time to go to work.

Afterwards, I took the short walk down to Tout Quarry, where I had another attempt at searching for 2nd-generation Adonis Blues.  Still no luck amongst the numerous Common Blue.  Has anyone seen any of the 2nd-gen on Portland?  In theory they should be having a good year.  Just 3 more Wheatear and a good passage of hirundines on the bird front.

After lunch I cycled down the Obs.  One of my tripod legs is constantly loose, so I've had to use gaffer tape to secure it in position (I really can't justify getting a new one at present, having not so long ago bought new optics).  This means that I have to cycle with the leg sticking out the top of my rucksack.  This has been the case for some time, and I'm getting sick and tired of Gulls constantly mobbing me as I pass by their nesting-buildings.  I'm assuming they think it's a gun!

So, next time you see a cloud of screaming Gulls approaching, don't scan about for the raptor they're mobbing, it just means I'm on my way.


This morning it was just another check of Barleycrates/Reap/Hump area.  A few more fly-over Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit later, it was time for work.  Also another Tree Pipit over Fortuneswell, which I actually saw (with the naked eye)!  I heard a possible Grey Wagtail over Fortuneswell as well, but couldn't get enough on it.

In the evening, there was a unofficial mothing event taking place at Radipole.  Not having any means of trapping myself at the moment means I must take all opportunities to do some proper mothing to get my fix!

On the way I thought it was worth popping into Ferrybridge, where the tide was rising.  Just the usual stuff really, but the Terns were very numerous and close, making nice comparisons.  Just Common and Little Tern present, but I've called the scrutinising of Terns 'Terning' for the purpose of the blog title (sorry, I can't help myself)!  Waders included the usual Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, and also solitary Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit.  It occurred to me, whilst watching these birds feeding very much apart, that unlike other waders, the two Godwits never seem to mix.  It appears that the two closely-related Godwits would rather be antisocial than join together for safety in numbers it seems!

So on arrival at Radipole, we set the 8(!) traps up near North Hide, and set about netting the moths on addition.  We were hoping in particular for the Wainscot species, the main target being the rare Rush. 

On our rounds, I also took notice of the birds and plants (as I do!).  Some of the scarcer plants seen were Wild Angelica, Stone Parsley, and Square-stalked St John's-wort.  And, on the avian front, we heard Cetti's Warbler, Green Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, and Tree Pipit at various times during the night/morning.

The moths turned out to be fab, despite a completely clear night, with a full moon rising mid-session.  We got a total number of species over a hundred, which is very good for the time of year.  For me, the highlight was my one and only macro lifer of Oblique Carpet, of which we got many.

We did get a good selection of Wainscots, though no  Rush sadly, including Small, Bulrush, Twin-spotted, Brown-veined, and Southern.  Some of the other star macros included Gold Spot, Jersey Tiger, Dog's Tooth, and Crescent.
The micros were excellent too, including a number of lifers such as the Skullcap-feeder Prochoreutis myllerana and Agonopteryx ocellana.  Some of the other micro highlights included the delicately-marked (the photo doesn't do it justice at all) Epermenia falciformis.

And the rare Scrobipalpa suaedella, which is presumably a wanderer from Ferrybridge, where it's foodplant, Shrubby Sea-blite, is to be found.

Thanks to all involved in the thoroughly-enjoyable evening.


Rather bleary-eyed, I headed down to the Bill this morning just to check they hadn't had the Aquatic Warbler that Luke, the warden of Radipole, was predicting!

It was fantastic instead to bump into two of my old muckers from Surrey.  So myself and the 'Embarrasment of Riches' (Messrs Horton and Seargent) went for a walk round the Bill and Top Fields area.  Just the usual stuff for recent times really, though it was great to see 3 different Whinchat amongst a fair scattering of Wheatear.

The weekend, if all goes to plan, will bring my first ever proper Cornwall seawatch.  I can't wait!

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