The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Friday, 9 August 2013

The 'Greats' of Portland

I had quite a lazy day yesterday, and only had the one short walk, taking in Blacknor Point and it's environs.  Nothing particularly notable was encountered, except this very convincing wasp-mimic Hoverfly, Chrysotoxum cautum.

Today, I started the afternoon off with the obligatory visit to the Obs, where there was a nice selection of moths, as usual.  The highlight, no doubt, was the rare migrant Great Dart.  A species with which Portland has the majority of UK records.

Plus a few more notable species included a female Oak Eggar.

A few examples of Rosy Rustic.

Plus, a Straw Underwing.

I then had a wander about the Top Fields, heading for Southwell.  Little unusual was encountered, till I first noticed a Fulmar flying cross-island, seemingly right over the garden of Debby and Pete Saunders (good garden tick!) in Southwell, before heading towards Easton, quite low.  It may be an everyday species on Portland, but it really looked odd flying over buildings!  Then, shortly after I finally got a piece of the current Clouded Yellow influx, as a single individual surged past me and was gone.

I had been asked by the plant recorder for Dorset to do a survey of the Falcaria vulgaris (Sickle-weed - see the post 'The Fool and the Fall') I had found previously, as there are only two sites for the species in the county.  Evidently, one is on the island, though I was not told where exactly this is supposed to be, so it could be a new site, or it may not.  Anyway, I was on the way to the three clumps of the plant near the Admiralty Hedge, when I stumbled on this beauty, the Great Green Bush-cricket.  According to my records, I have seen this species before, but since I don't remember it (I suspect it was on Portland), I was rather delighted to study the monster.  They aren't called 'Great' for nothing you know!

On the way back up-island, I stopped off for a little while at Pennsylvania Castle woods.  I'd not been here before, and I have to say it looked very promising as a migrant trap.  It's pretty much the only proper woodland on the island.  Here, I saw a Grey Squirrel.  That may not sound particularly notable, but until recently this species was a rarity on the island.  I don't know the full details, but I would suspect these woods must be the only site on the island for them.

The path eventually opens out into this clearing, complete with ruins (+ Rufus Castle in background).

Here on the ruins, I encountered a Common Lizard sunning itself, though it was obviously well warmed, as it scuttled away as soon as I got my phone camera in position!
I continued my journey on to High Angle Battery and King Barrow Quarry, where I hoped to look for 2nd-generation Adonis Blue.  No luck at all on that count, but I had an enjoyable time nonetheless, seeing hundreds of Chalkhill Blue yet again.  I shall be back, you Adonis!
An enjoyable afternoon, though no birds of note whatsoever!

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