The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Icky Dippy Double


All I managed today was a short walk round Blacknor Point and Bower's Quarry in the afternoon.  No birds of note, but the highlights were the Portland tick of Autumn Gentian in profusion at Bower's.

And this striking gall on some Red Valerian, caused by the rare gall-bug Trioza centranthi.

In the morning I thought I'd do something different to my usual routine, particularly seeing as migrants appeared to be scarce at the honey-pot sites.  I headed for Penn Castle Woods and Penn's Weare.
The woods were quiet as expected, though the ruins of St Andrew's church were pretty well scattered with Lizards.  Since I've been on Portland, I hadn't really expected to see the rare (though introduced) Wall Lizard, so have been assuming that all the ones I've got glimpses of are Common.   I heard plenty scurry away here at the ruins, but only managed to get the one decent view, and that was of one of the plain harder-to-identify individuals.  I'm happy though that it was a Wall Lizard.  I'll attempt to get a photo another time.
A lifer I did manage to photo though was the scarce Beech-green Carpet, which is a speciality of this area of Portland.  I flushed this individual from Ivy on my way down the steps from the woods.
Penn's Weare is really promising looking area of scrub and scattered boulders, and is supposed to be internationally recognised as a site for Lichens.  I haven't quite ventured into that world yet!
This is also a good place for higher plants, and Golden-rod was looking good in full flower.
I didn't see a great deal of birds, though I was greatly entertained by a Sparrowhawk continually teasing some Magpie.  I know we shouldn't really impart human characteristics on animals, but it really did look like it was having fun, dive bombing and chasing the Magpies, often with talons outstretched, as well as scaring the local Feral Pigeon population to death.  Any suggestion that he was actually hunting the Magpies was put to bed, when it went for a perched Magpie, put swerved away at the last second!
Before I had gone here, I thought there was a chance it might hold Adonis Blue, though wasn't at all sure.  It didn't take long to finally find my first males here though.  There weren't many, but they really were brighter than the sky.
Afterwards, I casually went down the Obs to look at the moths.  The traps were fuller than ever, and did include yet another local specialty, the Beautiful Gothic.
Also a lifer was the migrant Pearly Underwing, though I didn't get a photo.
After lunch, I rushed down the Obs once more, as an Icterine Warbler had been trapped.  I only saw a message about it 5 mins after it had been sent, so I thought I had a chance of seeing it before it was released.  Well, if I'd realised it had actually been ringed 20 minutes before, I wouldn't have been in such a hurry!  I had a hopeful look about the release site, but nothing.  It turned out that Martin had sent me a text about it, but I'd been having my lunch at the time so had ignored it!  A bit frustrating, as I missed the Eight Kings bird.
Note to self, don't let food get in the way of birds, ever!
Not a lot today.  I went down the Obs after work to look at the moths, though the one lifer that had been caught overnight, a Gem, had been released accidentally by photographers just before I'd arrived!  Nonetheless, a Canary-shouldered Thorn is always a stunner.
As are Flame Carpet (this was actually trapped yesterday night).
I was hoping to bump into Jono Forgham (see his blog here ) who was down from Hertfordshire, and I'd heard he may be seawatching, so I headed down the Bill.  No sign of Jono, though a short session produced an Arctic Skua and a single Balearic Shearwater, both east.
Also heading east was this impressive Tall Ship.


After finally finding Jono, I headed home via the Suckthumb Quarry area.  This little trip just proved to me that migrants really are thin on the ground at the moment, as nothing of note was seen.
I hope the migrant situation improves here, though this time next week I'll be at Spurn!  You may wonder why I'm going there when I have a Bird Obs etc on my doorstep.  Well, I planned and booked it all before I had finalised my move here, so it seemed like the best idea at the time.  Actually, if the early forecast is anything to go by, it could prove to be an inspired decision (easterlies!!!).  I hope so anyway, cause the price of £12 a night is just extortionate! ;-)



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