Thursday, 30 July 2009

Thursday July 30th

Some more pictures of Devon wildlife during work today...:

Small White on Marsh Thistle

Small Skipper, also on Marsh Thistle


Juvenile Common (Viviparous) Lizard

Unidentified caterpillar... laden with mites

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Sparrowhawks and butterflies

Here we are again. More outside work, more plants and more invertebrates. Some ringing at Slapton again at the weekend - nearly 200 birds caught and ringed, of which only 20 were retraps from previous ringing: autumn's well on the way now. Pick of the bunch were the first Grasshopper Warbler of the season and a superb male Sparrowhawk, who posed briefly for a few pictures. An evening bat-detectoring by the bridge produced a few Daubenton's and an abundance of both 'normal' and Soprano Pipistrelle, as well as what was probably an Otter swimming directly below us down the channel to the lower ley. By that stage of the evening it was well dark, so outline was all we had to go on, but it seemed a little big for Mink... A probable, it remains.

Second-year male Sparrowhawk

Juvenile Sedge Warbler

Magpie Moth

Beyond that, I've been out surveying recently - rain seems to be more abundant than anything else at the moment. Oh well...

A nice patch of mire...

Upper end of a mire on the pebblebeds. The rushy-looking stuff is actually a mix of rushes and Black Bog-rush

Rhynchospora alba White Beak-sedge

Some interesting lichens today: Roccella species on some coastal rock crevices, as well as Long-headed Clover and some of the more expected species (Golden Samphire, Madder, Sheep's-bit for instance). Then we were rained off - drenched off, really.

Trifolium incarnatum Long-headed Clover

Roccella fuciformis and fucoides

Some very bedraggled Six-spot Burnet moths

Serratula tinctoria Saw-wort

Marbled White

We also made it to Basti & Laura's birthday do on Sunday, after ringing, which was a bit of a laugh. Fortunately some protection from the weather

Arturo, Jo, Basti, self, Antje and Michael...

Monday, 20 July 2009

Slapton calling...

Slapton calling to the faraway lands
Now autumn's declared - migration's at hand
Slapton calling to the travelling birds
Get into my reedbeds, you boys and girls
Slapton calling, they're looking at us
Sedgers and Chiffies with wanderlust
Slapton calling, see we ringed up them birds
Better stop now 'cause I'm all out of words...

And I probably could never apologise sufficiently to The Clash for that mangling. Oh yes.

A good weekend's ringing, especially considering we could only use one day of it - the rest was too windy. We managed a whole 50 new birds and an additional 9 which had been ringed before. The bulk of the catch was, as expected, Reed Warblers, but evidence of autumn migration came with the first juvenile Sedge Warblers - five sparkly-fresh buff and black smoothies. One of my favourites; hence the eulogising! Beyond that, the day was quite well packed with an assortment of juvenile residents (no, not referring to the inhabitants of Slapton village - what a suggestion!).

Not content with the day, we trundled off to Prawle Point to try for Storm Petrels. This was a bit of an experiment, particularly as Nik's always said he's caught very few there. True enough, we caught only 13 over 3 hours, but of those birds, one had a Portuguese ring and another a British ring. Even more interesting, the British ring proved to be one we'd ringed ourselves over the midsummer weekend, on the Land's End peninsula! Nice to have a movement like that within the same year.

Waking up at 6:30 the next morning to a panorama of wildly-waving willow (it's not what you think, officer, honest) was a bit of a relief really. We cleared up and out, and I set myself the geeky challenge of 'let's identify everything you possibly can between France Wood and base, via the seafront and the nature trail'. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, come to look at that. Oh well. I botanised my way to oblivion - 203 species, whilst the fauna came out a very poor second, with something like 40 species identified. Given that normally I'd expect more than 50 species of bird in that area, it was a bit poor, but a force 6-7 wind didn't help matters much, I suppose.

Anyway, a few piccies of the days:

Storm Petrel. This one sans carrot, unlike the Cornish birds.

Baby 1: Chiffchaff

Baby 2: Goldfinch

Baby 3: Great Tit

Baby 4: Robin

Baby 5: Reed Warbler. Notice the emerging quasi-Bluethroat tail... Who's yer daddy??

Yeah, well there were Swifts there earlier.

Wet woodland. Lichen-rich. Now, if I could ID them, I'd be quids in.

Lichens. Pretty patterns to me, but that's all, I'm afraid.

More of them. I know they're crustose and leprose growth forms, but no more than that

A potentially interesting (no, really) trefoil. Looks like it's Hairy BfT, and keyed out to that species in the field. Will be looking for confirmation!

The particularly exciting Strapwort Corrigiola litoralis. Get's worse, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


As summer's about finishing - if you're a bird - or not yet started properly - if you're a bat - or even almost non-existent - if you go by the weather, it's quite nice to fill the gap with some plant-like things. Work takes me out and about frequently at the moment, so here follow some pictures of some floral summeriness taken over the past couple of weeks or so (spot the odd ones out!):

Yellow Horned-poppy Glaucium flavum, Slapton beach.
Taken whilst the mysterious Na swam underneath a second-summer Mediterranean Gull, and totally ignored it (she doesn't take much interest in gulls, even those as patently interesting as Meds).

Viper's Bugloss Echium vulgare. Slapton beach.
Quite a common plant along the shingle ridge at Slapton, and a characteristic summer sight.

Carrot Broomrape Orobanche [?] maritima. Same time, same place.
If you think that the taxonomy of, let's say large white-headed gulls (Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed, Yellow-legged and all the various inbetweeny poxy things) is tricky, try plants... This one's been both species and variety on and off for donkeys years.

Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea Lathyrus sylvestris. Berry Head.
Looks a bit rude. Bet Linnaeus (Wikipedia link, which unaccountably has no reference to the inordinate number of sexual references in Linnaeus' work) would have had a juicy name for it...

Wild Onion Allium vineale. Berry Head again.
Not very exciting, but boy, does it smell of onions.

Ivy Broomrape (I think) Orobanche hederae. Berry Head once more.
Just the dead stems now, but identifying it on the circumstantial evidence. Broomrapes are parasitic, in case you didn't know, so part of identification could be the species of host plant. Given the difficulties of identifying the plants otherwise, I reckon it's quite helpful. I'm open to correction, though.

Beadlet Anemone Actinia equina. Wembury Point.

Sea Holly Eryngium maritimum. Same place, same day.
Mmmm. Absolutely gorgeous. Not a holly at all, but a member of the carrot family.

Ribbed Melilot Melilotus officinalis (or arvensis). Berry Head again.
A non-native invasive nasty, but rather pretty nonetheless.

Culm grassland. North Devon
A nice bit of Purple Moor-grass Molinia caerulea pasture grading into Angelica Angelica sylvestris-Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria swamp (M25 grading to S27, if you're an adherent of the National Vegetation Classification codes). If you look carefully you can see the yellow splashes of Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus pedunculatus with which are mingled white splatches of Valerian Valeriana officinalis and the more creamy fluff of Meadowsweet in the distance. Some purplish blotches here and there are Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria and Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre, rather than the workings of a dodgy sensor or a particularly colourful acid trip.

The mysterious Na and her constant companion Chorthippus ?brunneus at Prawle Point.

Gammon Head, viewed from Elender Cove - nice and breezy.

Possibly Golden Hair Lichen - Teloschistes flavicans - Bolt area.

A rather seaweedy-looking lichen. Bolt Head
No idea what it is, but it's quite smart-looking.

Purple grasshopper Chorthippus ?brunneus. Bolt Head
Also not the product of a diseased imagination; just a rather funky colour-morph. Quite what the advantage may be of being bright purple amidst green grass, I do not know.

And finally, answers on a postcard. First correct identification wins, as Mark would have it, the satisfaction of being right...!