Much quieter in the moth box.

Monday 6th July 2015.

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Lilac Beauty.

It was much quieter in the moth box this morning and I had a job to find any moths outside the box, which was probably due to the Sparrows getting there first. I never got to look at the box till 7.45am, which was late for me! Strong sunshine was already enveloping the moth box as I switched off the light and in all 32 moths of 16 species were present, which was well down from yesterday! How these Moth enthusiasts sort through 2 to 300 moths I will never know in Southsea, although nearby John Langdown has had that sort of number before in his Southsea garden!

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Common Rustic agg.

I believe both yesterday’s Buff Tip and Lilac Beauty were in the box this morning and a fresh Common Rustic as well. There were very few micros, though a Diamond-backed Moth and an unusual Tortrix species was present, with the latter I have sent a photo to John for a positive ID.

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Diamond-backed Moth.

In the birding world, all was fairly quiet in Hampshire though the Greater Yellowlegs was still present on Titchfield Haven. The Hudsonian Whimbrel is still entertaining in Pagham Harbour and surely, it will not be long now for another lovely American wader to grace the south coast. Becky and I have booked a week’s Cottage Holiday on the Devon/Cornwall border as from this Friday onwards, so I shall be getting ready for that. My new phone should be arriving today, fingers crossed.

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Mystery Tortrix.

Lilac Beauty, Dark Spectacle & Gem added to moth life list.

Sunday 5th July 2015.

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Dark Spectacle.

Last night was simply perfect conditions for moths, with no wind and a very still warm evening. Early morning cloud cover must have helped as well as I notched up 5 year ticks, which included three ‘lifers’! A whopping 108 moths of 42 species were in and around the moth box last night and very early this morning (and I mean early!).

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Gem.

Last night, I decided to put in a late evening shift by staying up to 1am. Moths were pouring into the garden and I was having a job to note them all. I found my first ever Dark Spectacle perched on my kitchen ceiling as I was retiring to bed! A Common Lutestring, my first for the year, was found by the side of the box along with a Common Rustic. My first ever Gem was also found and quickly put into one of the tubes for safe keeping. The latter species is a regular immigrant to the UK from southern Europe and was later identified properly by John Langmaid earlier today.

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Lilac Beauty.

Quite a few moths were making their way indoors due to the small window being open. A Single-dotted Wave was found in the downstairs loo as well as a couple of Riband Wave’s. This morning, I blearily woke up at around 4.30am and I thought, I would beat the Sparrows this time. I was right, as they never got a look in till around 6.30am, where they quickly took advantage while I made another coffee.

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Common Lutestring.

The first moth I found was my first Buff-tip of the year, then it simply got better and better. A Treble Lines was new for the year in my garden along with a stunning Lilac Beauty, another ‘lifer’, which I found much later in the morning perched near the kitchen window. This was a male variety and simply quite a stunning beautiful moth. The most numerous moth by far were the Riband Wave’s, which numbered around 22! If today was good, I hope tonight follows on in the same vein.

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Buff-tip

For those wishing to phone or text me, good news; my new mobile should be arriving tomorrow. Phew!

An afternoon walk over West Walk.

Saturday 4th July 2015.

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Singing Chiffchaff by the roadside.

I had some time to kill this afternoon and what better way than to take a day time walk over West Walk. My regular spot for the Nightjars in the evening, it can also be very entertaining here during the day also. Birds, insects, butterflies and flowers are abundant and usually a good variety and so I spent a lot of time looking down rather than up, checking for anything interesting to photograph.

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Dock Leaf Shield Bug.

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Bishop’s Mitre Shield Bug.

I took Scruff along with me so he could stretch his little legs. The walk kicked off nicely with a showy singing male Chiffchaff near the main road, though birds this afternoon, were at a premium. A couple of Blackcaps were heard singing but too elusive to find in the leafy trees. A Common Buzzard showed well soaring over the woodland as it headed off southbound.

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Common Buzzard slowly drifting over.

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View of the area looking north.

The brambles and very tall bracken attracted both Meadow Browns and Small Skippers in good numbers, with a few Marbled Whites, Large Whites and Speckled Woods seen along the footpath. I did find my first Gatekeeper of the year, which was early. I was keeping an eye out for Green Tiger Beetles but I failed to find any this time. There were plenty of small burrowing wasps on the very sandy footpath, which I have not a clue what species they are plus they were very difficult to photo.

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Small Skipper.

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Gatekeeper.

I did have a personal battle with a Horse Fly, which was very determined to piss me off and try to land on me, but I did come out the victor in the end! I did find some interesting flowers on show, which included Figwort and more Hedge Wormwort growing alongside the footpath. Yellow Vetch was growing in clumps as was Birdsfoot Trefoil, which attracted the Skippers. I did find a couple of Shield bugs of which one was a new one for me: Bishop’s Mitre Shield bug. The other was a Dock Leaf Shield Bug.

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Speckled Wood sunning itself on the footpath.

Though there was a nice breeze blowing, it was still quite warm as we slowly made our way back to the car. I gave Scruff a good drink before we left for home. I hope to be coming back here again shortly to revisit the Nightjars.

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Figwort.

Seven new moth year ticks for the garden, including another ‘lifer’.

Saturday 4th July 2015.

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My first Cream-bordered Green Pea.

The Pipistrelle Bats were flying around the house last night, but I have since found out that they have now been split into two different species! It is bad enough in the bird world with all these splits and now they are doing it to Bats!!! Apparently, their voice frequency is different between the two sub-species and, of course, one needs a special Bat detector to pick up their calls.

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Small Yellow Wave.

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Brown-tail.

A look around the moth box around 11pm produced a beautiful Swallow-tailed Moth, but alas, no sign of it this morning. I suspect the Spadgers might have something to do with that, though these moths are strong flyers. Another V-Pug was present and quite a few micro moths. Though a little breezy, it was another warm evening so the signs looked good for the following morning.

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Endotricha flammealis.

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Synaphe punctalis.

In fact, I notched up seven year ticks for the garden which included my first ever Cream-bordered Green Pea. Small Yellow Wave and Brown-tail were new macros, while micros included Endotricha flammealis, Synaphe punctalis, Spindle Ermine, Pyrausta despicata and Clepsis consimilana were also added. In total, 57 moths of 35 species in all; though still way short of my highest total this year. I will be very interested in what the other Hampshire boys had seen this morning.

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Pyrausta despicata (re-identified after a third attempt!).

 

Spurge Hawk-moth & The Druid both climb on board my life list.

Friday 3rd July 2015.

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Hampshire’s and my first Spurge Hawk-moth.

I had the ultimate pleasure of ‘twitching’ my first ever moth yesterday. As I wrote yesterday on my blog, good friend Mike Wearing had found a Spurge Hawk-moth by his garden moth trap in North-end, Portsmouth, which was a first for Hampshire and also a ‘lifer’ for me. I couldn’t resist going to see it and so at 8pm yesterday, Mike kindly allowed me to come up to his house and photograph it. Apparently, he had a nice haul of moths and with local moth enthusiast Nick Montegriffo, who also confirmed the ID of the Hawk-moth, also had Small Blood-vein, Dun-bar and several others I have not seen this year.

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Side on view of the Spurge Hawk-moth, which is a rare immigrant from the Continent.

This morning, there were 40 moths of 24 species, most of which were in the moth box itself. Pick of the bunch was a Clay,which was my second of the year. Though I put the moth on Hants Moths Facebook, it was initially thought to be a White-point, but eventually re identified as a Clay. I do struggle identifying this from the very similar White-point, but the latter sports a tidy white circle, rather than the smudged circle of the former. There were a few micros of which a couple of Anania coronata’s were present. Such a pretty moth.  A couple of Bee Moths were present by the box last night and I kept one this morning, which shall be released later, to photo.

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A Clay moth in the box this morning.

Apparently, the Swifts are still using my nest box out the front of my house, according to my wife, though I thought they had fledged now. At least 30+ Swifts were present over the house this morning. Amazingly, John Langmaid had put on Facebook that he caught a The Druid moth this morning in his garden trap. Well, I quickly phoned him and he kindly allowed to pop round quickly to photograph this extremely rare moth! Two stunning moths in two days and both ‘lifers’!

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The Druid.

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Two in two days in the UK and this, I believe, is the 3rd for the UK.

Plenty of plants in the Cemy.

Thursday 2nd July 2015.

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The Herring Gull chicks in my road are getting bigger.

I spent a nice hour’s walk around Highland Road Cemetery this afternoon, walking Scruff and taking in all the wildlife I could find. Showers were expected, but it remained dry and occasionally sunny and warm. It was a ‘shorts and t-shirt’ kind of day as Scruff and I ambled quietly around the Cemy. As expected, bird sightings were few and far between although all the regulars were present and correct.

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Crow Garlic growing abundantly on the graves.

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The Council have been busy weed spraying on the graves.

A flock of around 7 Goldfinches were flying about the tree tops, which included several young birds. Young Blue Tits could be heard high up in the canopies, but remained elusive. Swifts darted about over the cloudy sky, but there was no sign of the Swallows this afternoon. Scruff enjoyed chasing the Squirrels but had no chance of catching them, for they are simply too agile and fast for him!

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Juvenile Goldfinch high up in the Cemy.

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Lady Bedstraw growing on a few of the graves.

I noticed the Council have been weed spraying the graves as a lot on the west side have all gone brown, which is such a shame. I might have a word with the Council to allow the weeds and grasses to grow for the benefit of the insects. Besides, it might save them a lot of money and man hours spraying the weeds?

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Hedge Woundwort growing by the Holly in the east side.

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Collared Doves on the Chapel.

I was hoping for a butterfly or two or even a moth, but none were on show today. In fact, there were very few insects about; just a few Bumble bees that briefly showed. Most of the usual wild flowers were on show. Biting Stonecrop was in flower and large clumps of Lady Bedstraw was growing from a couple of graves. Crow Garlic was growing in abundance upon the graves near the main entrance and several clumps of Yarrow was growing along the footpaths also. I did find a single Hedge Woundwort by the clump of Holly in the east side of the Cemy, the first time I have ever seen it here.

Bats put on a superb show over the garden.

Thursday 2nd July 2015.

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Lesser Yellow Underwing.

As the last dying rays of the sun disappeared last night, my wife Becky and I stood and watched two superb Pipistrelle Bats flying low overhead, chasing flying insects and putting on a superb flying display for at least 20 minutes. Even half an hour later, they were still just visible in the late evening sky, lit up by my moth box as they flapped at speed overhead. My wife was so excited, she even put it on Facebook! Just a shame I couldn’t get a photo or film them (my gear is not sophisticated enough in that light).

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V-Pug. Second of the year.

I was up at 6am this morning, hoping for a half decent haul of moths. The wind had dropped and I was expecting overcast conditions but, as usual, the weather guys got it so wrong again, but the cloud finally arrived with the rain around 9am over Southsea. There were hardly any moths around near the moth box, which was probably due to the House Sparrows enjoying their breakfast on them! I must have at least 20 House Sparrows in and around my garden, which is good news for them, but dreadful for the moths!

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This Bright-line Brown-eye had not developed properly, yet it could fly perfectly well.

At least of 34 moths of 22 species were present this morning which included my first Lesser Yellow Underwing of the year. My second V-Pug of the year was found on the fence panel and there were quite a few micros present..

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This worn Lackey has been trapped twice this week!

A Common Tern flew high over the house, heading south towards the beach, while on the rooftop, House Sparrows, Starlings and a pair of Blackbirds were busy in search of insects. I read on the Migrant Lepidoptera site on Facebook that a The Druid moth had been caught in a moth trap in Swanage, Dorset by Steve Nash. This is only the 2nd UK record for this migrant moth. Wow! I have just found out that Mike Wearing had a Spurge Hawk-moth in his Portsmouth trap this morning!

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Zeiraphera isertana. First one of the year.

I would like to point out that those who regularly read my blog, I have lost my mobile phone and waiting for my new one to arrive in the post (just in case you have been sending me texts or trying to ring me, sorry!).

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Brown-dotted Clothes Moth.

An anticlimax this morning.

Wednesday 1st July 2015.

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Pyrausta aurata I caught and photographed before releasing it this morning.

The promise of a huge haul of moths never materialised last night due to the breezy overnight conditions in Southsea. An early clap of thunder around 8pm yesterday and a short but heavy cloudburst soon disappeared and it was looking good at the time. Humidity was high, but the breeze did all the damage to keep this morning’s catch at a very low number.

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One of four Water Boatman in my moth box yesterday morning.

Just 20 moths of 15 species were present, my lowest catch for some time, while other chaps further north in the country were getting huge numbers. One guy had over 500+ in his trap! Today is going to be the hottest this year though is quickly followed by thunderstorms throughout tomorrow morning. Nevertheless, I shall have my moth box, for you never know what might turn up.

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Jim Walker took this photo of a Grass Snake at Titchfield Haven back in May this year.

It wasn’t a dead loss as my first Pyrausta aurata of the year was present, but because I lost my iPhone yesterday (a long, horrible story!), I had to take photos with an old instamatic which turned out a complete waste of time. Nevertheless, with my trusty Bridge Camera, I did manage one photo of the Pyrausta. A couple of Lackeys were also present along with my first Crambus perlella in the moth box this year.

Swallow-tailed Moth just avoids the Sparrows!

Monday 29th June 2015.

Swallow-tailed Moth

Swallow-tailed Moth.

I was too tired from the Durlston Head trip to get up early the following day to check the moth box, so I left it to last night to switch the box on. It paid off with two more nice year ticks and possibly a third, with a micro to be examined later today. There is a heatwave on its way this week, with temperatures set to soar into the eighties and overnight temperatures to be warm and muggy. Yep, horrible to sleep in but superb for moths; so I am expecting a good haul and many more new species for the year this week.

Dwarf Cream Wave

Dwarf Cream Wave.

This morning, a superb Swallow-tailed Moth was present within the box and a Dwarf Cream Wave was perched on the window of my back door. 44 moths of 23 species were recorded this morning, with one to be ID’d. I refound the Swallow-tailed Moth in my neighbours garden, though was quickly flushed by a House Sparrow. It narrowly avoided the Sparrow and a second Sparrow tried its luck, but the moth yet again avoided the determined bird and the moth safely flew into vegetation in my other neighbours garden. Phew!

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My second Argyresthia brockeella of the year.

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Spilonata ocellana. A new micro moth for the garden this year.

A superb Dorset day out at Durlston Head.

Saturday 27th June 2015.

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John Cronin and John Goodall by Tillywhim Caves.

John Goodall, John Cronan and myself took the drive down to Durlston Head for the annual Puffin tick off Durlston Head, in sunny Dorset. This is the third time in four years I have been coming here as we walk from the car park to the Dancing Ledge to view the Puffins and have lunch, followed by the long hilly walk back. It is a five mile round trip but it is challenging on the calf and thigh muscles with all the hill climbing we do. No matter how bloody fit you think you are, the last half mile is a killer on those poor feet!

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Razorbills and Guillemots offshore below the cliffs.

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Lulworth Skipper.

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Summer Chafer.

The weather was truly on our side today with a nice onshore wind and a clear blue sky enabling us to really enjoy all the superb wildlife we came across. It couldn’t have started any better, when as we were getting all our stuff ready from the back of the car, I heard something unusual flying overhead. Confused at first, it looked like a Siskin but with a very different call. I have heard singing Serins before but I wasn’t familiar with their flight call. When I got home later in the evening, I checked my bird app for flight calls of Serin and it was a dead match! I, therefore, quickly put it on Birdguides.

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Centaury.

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Fulmar flying below the cliffs.

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Roesels Bush Cricket nymphs.

Durlston Head has a wealth of wildlife to look at and we were quickly checking the sea down below the cliff path for the Auks. Both Guillemot and Razorbill were in good numbers and in attendance, the odd Fulmar flew past and a few Shags were seen perched on the rocks below. A scan out over the relatively calm sea revealed a few adult Gannets drifting past. A single Sandwich Tern flew past heading east low over the water and much further along the coast, I picked up several adult Kittiwakes over the water.

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Adult Gannet drifting west offshore.

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Oak Eggar caterpillar on the footpath.

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A Peregrine flying away from us after being flushed by a fencepost.

Peregrines gave everything the chase, seeing there was at least one pair with their two offspring all on the wing to harass the local Pigeons, Gulls and Crows! Occasionally, we would come across one of the beautiful falcons perched on a fencepost, but never allowed a close approach. We notched up over 32 species of bird on our journey and though the Puffins were seen (although probably just the one individual seen several times), we also found a pair of Black Redstarts searching for food where we had our lunch! I know they are present at this location, but it was the first time we had seen then here.

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Marbled White.

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Dock Leaf Shield Bug.

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Male Stonechat.

Other interesting birds included at least six Stonechat, Common Whitethroat, a couple of Yellowhammers, Raven, Linnets, a pair of Kestrels, up to two Common Buzzards and plenty of Rock Pipits. I have to be honest, I was more in search for butterflies, insects and plants and came across a huge variety to look at. We came across our first Slow Worm in many a year, which John Goodall spotted on the footpath in front of us. We quickly picked it up so I could take a decent photo of it and then carefully released it back into the tall grass.

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Slow Worm.

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Dingy Skipper.

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Peregrine flying overhead.

A couple of interesting Beetles were found and the good chaps on Facebook have identified them as a Summer Chafer and a Bloody-nose Beetle. Butterflies were abundant on the footpath near the cliff edge but there was definitely a lull in them up on the hill on our walk back. Probably Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Marbled White and Common Blue were by far the most common; though a Large Skipper and a Dingy Skipper were found. What I thought were Small Skippers were actually re identified on Facebook were in fact Lulworth Skippers, which are a ‘lifer’ for me. A pair of Small Tortoiseshells were seen all too briefly by the cliff edge and a superb Hummingbird Hawk-moth was seen too briefly also near where we had our lunch. Unfortunately, I was the only one who saw it.

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Common Blue.

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Peregrine perched on a post.

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Kittiwakes on the sea.

Other moths seen included a couple of Silver Y’s and a single Yellow Shell along the footpaths. A couple of Oak Eggar caterpillars were seen on the footpath and carefully replaced into the undergrowth to avoid them being trod on by the walkers. By 11.45am, we had actually reached are location by the Dancing Ledge. Here, we relaxed for about an hour, enjoying our lunch while watching the Auks, including a single Puffin, which preened on the sea. Rock Pipits flew overhead and the odd Oystercatcher was seen flying past low over the waves to add to our day total, along with a Raven. Amazingly, I watched a small passerine chase an insect on the small quarry wall and I released it was a male Black Redstart. I quickly called the guys over to view and both a male and female were seen, but the birds were quite secretive. I only managed a few half decent photos of the birds. Where we sat, the wall around us looked very unstable and likely to topple at any moment. We did have one fright when a rock landed not too far away from where we sat. I was convinced that a passer-by had deliberately thrown the rock over, but this couldn’t be proved.

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Female Black Redstart.

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And again.

After our lunch, we made our way back for the return journey. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were singing overhead, while a pair of Common Buzzards gracefully hung in the air to survey their territory and what food they could find lurking somewhere in the grass. Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Stonechat were calling down below in some of the gulley’s and as we neared the Lighthouse road, we decided to follow it back up to the main car park. A few Swifts were seen flying around the cliffs and as I said to John G, they were probably nesting on the cliffs.

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Adult Shag.

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Raven passing by.

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Puffin on the sea.

I have not mentioned the wild flowers yet, but where do you start? The whole area was dominated by Pyramidal Orchids and among these, I did find a few Bee Orchids. I was hoping to find the Southern Marsh Orchid, but being unfamiliar with this species, I have sent a photo to my friend Geoff Farwell for his expert ID. Wild Iris were present as expected along the main footpath, while clumps of pink Centaury and lavender coloured Thrift were swaying in the light breeze. I would have a job to name all the flowers seen, but as we walked back up the hill and along the top, we certainly noticed a lack of butterflies up here.

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Bee Orchid.

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Bloody nosed Beetle.

It was nearly 4pm by the time we got back to the car and with very sore feet, I gratefully accepted a very warm bottle of Lucozade to quench my first from Johnny G and reflect on the way home, what a superb day we had.

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Compo, Foggy and Clegg alias myself, John Cronin and John Goodall!