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Friday, 22 May 2015

Hare Walk

Sand Martins at their nests
Sand Martin nest colony
On 21st May, Bude Marsh and Valleys enjoyed their annual walk around Whalesborough. 

Seven people started from the Weir and walked via the Hare Walk to Widemouth Bay before heading north along the South West Coastal Footpath then headed west via Whalesborough Farm to the starting point.

It is an easy walk mainly on agricultural land although some has been planted with mixed woodland, and the beautiful north Cornish coast.

It was a very warm day tempered by an onshore breeze nearer the coast. Many birds were proclaiming their territories and the spring flowers were abundant and varied.

Southern Marsh Orchid
We were especially pleased to see many groups of Southern Marsh Orchids along the developing but damp mixed woodland.  Another eye-catching plant was the Dog Rose on the cliffs being attacked by a bright yellow smut.  The gorse continues to be spectacular.

The highlight of the birds we saw must go to the flock of 50 or so Sand Martins busily entering and exiting their burrows on the low sandy cliffs behind the Beach House on Widemouth Bay.

Bloody-nosed Beetle larva
Insects were plentiful too.  I was particularly pleased to look for and show Gorse Shieldbugs as well as a Hawthorn Shieldbug and the larva of a Bloody-nosed Beetle.  Butterflies were present, but not plentiful; we saw one or two each of Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

An excellent walk with a total of 66 species recorded and submitted to ORKS ( database comprising 28 birds, 24 plants, 12 insects a millipede and a reptile.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Spring surprise

Wall butterfly sunning

We took advantage of the forecast of good weather on this May Day Bank Holiday to walk our Cornish cliffs from Stanbury to Sharpnose Point. And what a good decision it was. The range of spring species was both surprising and rewarding.

Sea Campion, Thrift,
Kidney Vetch and Gorse,
Our first reward was to see our first Wall butterflies of the year, followed by mass flowering of Early Purple Orchids, always a confirmation that spring has really arrived. Swallows were planing over the cliff tops with the song of Whitethroats close at hand – again the first of the year and an abundance of coastal spring flowers – Thrift, Kidney Vetch, Sea Campion, Violets and Bird's foot Trefoil.

Stonechats, Linnets and Skylarks were about and I found our first local Gorse Shield Bugs on the abundantly flowering Gorse. Another first of the year was a Small Copper and Spring Squill.

Gorse Shield Bugs in spring colous

The sighting of the morning must go to a mammal though.

We are used to our Long-haired Jack Russell bitch pouncing on grass verges as she images she has found some creature. So, we let her snuffle and root about in the springy cliff-top grass unconcernedly. Until, that is, she flushed out a fox cub. No bigger than a kitten, it fell over its own feet before disappearing into a well used run that vanished into a mass of bramble and gorse.
Spring Squill and
 attendant invertebrates

A pity it was quicker than me and my camera, so no picture this time.