The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Monday, 25 August 2014

Awaiting Arrival of Awesome Autumn

It's been almost two weeks since my last update, but you needn't worry about missing anything!  I have made a certain amount of effort into birding Portland in that time, but rarely have I been rewarded.  A few snippets of other wildlife around to look at too however.  Those who are only interested in the birds can skip towards the end!

I think I've finally got the enthusiasm for getting up early for birding again!  My first sighting of this in a long time.

On a walk up near the Verne prison one day, I stumbled on these botanical delights, not having a clue they were here.  There were over a hundred examples of the strange spiralling Orchid, Autumn Ladies-tresses.

Plus a number of Autumn Gentian, just coming out.

It's official. Autumn is here!

I visited the Obs a couple of times, and the flowers there are always covered in pollinators, including a couple of Hummingbird Hawk-moth (lots around at the moment) and this striking hoverfly, Chrysotoxum cautum.

The other day-flying moth that's quite obvious at the moment are the scarce-for-Portland Jersey Tiger. I've come across three in the last two weeks.

On one day I spotted the little mouthful-of-a-micro, Schreckensteinia festaliella, here showing it's strange spiky, sticking-out forelegs.

I've also noticed a fair amount of moth feeding-signs recently.  This is an area that I really would like to improve my knowledge on.  But, just like most other areas of natural history, there's so much to learn!

But, I think these are the feeding mines of the Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella).  How many different individuals are there in each leaf!?

And, I think these 'windows' in Wild Madder is where the larva of the pyralid Mecyna asinalis has been feeding on the underside.

As for birds, the best sightings in the last couple of weeks have been a juvenile Marsh Harrier circling over Blacknor on the 15th, before drifting out over the sea towards Abbotsbury.  The Gulls had been going mad in the area for a little while, so it was no surprise to find this bird amongst them.  Plus, the flock of Black-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge two days later was also a patch tick.  They didn't show as well as this Bar-tailed Godwit yesterday, however.

The other patch tick in the last month or so has been a number of juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Ferrybridge is the ideal location for studying the species' subtleties (particularly the dark tertials and pale head). 

Other than those, there have been a steady presence of the likes of Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, and a Spotted Flycatcher yesterday.  Plus decent sightings such as the likes of two Arctic Skua in Chesil Cove.

Also yesterday, I had the briefest of glimpses of a greyish-backed Whitethroat-like warbler at Suckthumb Quarry, but sadly it could not be re-found.  One that got away.

The weather has been normal.  Portland-weird that is!  These photos taken 24 hours apart from the same point on The Verne.

There is a chance I may start to learn to ring soon.  Watch this space.  I'm looking forward now to what the autumn will bring on Portland, but I've also got a couple of visits to my old patch of Tice's Meadow in the offing!

1 comment:

  1. Love the new photo from The Verne. Definitely one of my favourite views in Britain!