The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Six-belters! - Part 1

I've got a week to update, and it's been packed with quality wildlife.  It's largely been about the moths though it has to be said!

On the 14th, I did a quick look at Barleycrates Lane area, but the only highlight was a vast number of Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars devouring a patch of Nettles.

On the 16th and 17th, I finally restarted my early-morning birding walks round the mid-Portland triangle (Barleycrates, Reap, and Suckthumb).  My efforts of getting up at 5am were hardly justly rewarded, but a Yellow Wagtail flying around at Barleycrates Lane was nice.  Plus, at Ferrybridge, which was looking promising...

...was just a Common Sandpiper and a couple of Whimbel out of the ordinary, though I did apparently miss a Little Stint!

The bizarre highlight of these excursions though, was finding this fledgling Wren stuck fast in some Burdock seedheads, at Suckthumb Quarry!

I was able to free it, but it turned out it had both it's wings, one foot, plus it's beak all stuck.  It's head was buried deep in the seedhead, and I wonder whether it was attempting to catch insects amongst the seeds when it got stuck.  Struggling to free itself, it got even more of it trapped by the spiky seeds.

I released it into a nearby bush, where the rest of the family was calling from.

An additional walk was a quick look at the damp area beyond Bumpers Lane, in the hope of searching the Willows I'd seen there for an origin of the Red-tipped Clearwing found in Easton recently.  No obvious larval exit holes or pupa, but it looks a promising site for moths.  A number of interesting species were disturbed, such as Cochylis roseana.  Surely a trapping would be worth doing here?

A sight for saw eyes nearby...

In the evening, I took an impromptu walk round the fabulous King Barrow Quarry reserve with Megan Shersby ( ).  We had just gone through the entrance, when Megan pointed out something sitting on a seed-pod (I suspect hoping it to be Hymenoptera!).

Unbelievably, it was a Six-belted Clearwing, only my second Clearwing species.  What a beauty! The main belter (No. 1).

As usual, the place was full of butterflies.  I was particularly concentrating on the moths though, and we found some good stuff such as Chalk Carpet and this rare-for-Portland Pinion-streaked Snout (it was worn, you may have to take my word for it!).

The other top moth was this Syncopacma sp, the habitat and slightly curved line suggesting taeniolella.

In the evening of the 18th, I took my last stint at the Little Tern colony, as the wardening efforts wind down for the season.  Only two more chicks to fledge, and most of the birds were off elsewhere, so it was a fairly quiet vigil.

I still managed to find something new however, with this fairly rare Sea Pea.  Belter number 2..

Part 2 coming soon...

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