The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Premium Petrel

Various little walks around the island have produced the following in the last week.

A search of the rough grassland at Suckthumb Quarry on the 2nd revealed my first Pammene gallicana sitting on its larval foodplant Wild Carrot, providing me with a helpful clue to its identitiy.

The next day I did a quick circuit of Blacknor, where Marbled White were almost swarming.  I came across this mystery cocoon amongst the grass, looking like a giant Burnet Moth cocoon.  It turned out to be a Drinker moth.

On the 5th, I found a patch of Nettles at Barleycrates Lane alive with Ladybirds and their larvae.  I was fully expecting them to be Harlequin, but to my delight, they were all Seven-spot Ladybird, some newly emerged.

Now, onto my Little Tern wardening adventures.

On the 28th June, I was delighted to see the first two chicks taking flight, or be it reasonably clumsily. 

A male Kestrel was emerging as enemy number one of the colony.  The wardening team have come up with all sorts of novel ways of scaring them off!

On the 5th, I was joined by someone else to help keep an eye out for the Kestrel.  This time, the bird was far more threatening, but luckily we were able to keep him relatively quiet by providing supplementary food at a nearby favoured perch.  The most difficult job was stopping Gulls from stealing the food (we weren't completely successful!).  At least 15 Little Tern chicks now fledged.  Once again, I was treated to a fantastic sunset.


I've been hoping for a while to get out down to the Bill to join the Obs team whilst ringing Storm Petrel, but one thing or another has prevented me from doing so. Finally got the opportunity to go yesterday evening, and I took my moth net just in case it would come in handy.

As I waited for Martin to arrive, I started searching for moths.  The very first moth I netted was a Large Tabby, a lifer!

We set up the mist-net about 11 and started the tape lure, and it was then just a case of waiting.  Meanwhile, I turned my attention back to moths.  Nothing that unusual seen, but the beautifully calm conditions really had brought the moths out, and they were almost swarming around the sparse vegetation (the majority being Metznaria lapella around the Burdock plants).  This strikingly fresh Crescent Dart was on the toilet block.

A couple of surprise finds whilst mothing were a single Glow-worm.

And a very confiding Hedgehog.

After a little time I returned to the trapping area, only to find the first Storm Petrel had just hit the net!  Great timing!

What a great bird to see up close (shame my camera struggled with the light).

They really are tiny, and rather cute!

The rain then started, and we decided it was best to cut our losses, so no more birds to be had.  Still, it was a fantastic experience.  A big thanks to Martin.

Things are picking up slowly on the migrant bird side, so I think I'll restart my early morning birding soon.  If an Albatross isn't going to rouse me, nothing will!

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