Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spurn Day 28 - LIFER ALERT

Its not been long since my last spurn lifer, but this is one of the big ones. I had wanted to see 2 species when I was coming to spurn, Red-Veined Darter and today's lifer. Of course this species is more of a right place, right time kind of job, but being at Spurn I knew I had a pretty decent chance of finding one.
The sound of an alarm is one of the worst sounds ever. Waking while still dark, in summer is a painful experience! To make it worse is the fact that it was raining for my walk to the hide. I had to dodge the toads again along the cliff top path, though this has become pretty standard now.
I got a bit of a shock along my walk though, and it set the standard for the day pretty high to say the least. At the campsite at the bottom of Beacon Lane I spotted under the lamp-post a Hedgehog happily scurrying. I could not take it in at first, its been so long since I last saw one. It wandered towards the hedge, but it did not move quickly as though it was alarmed, and I was reasonably close. I tried to get some kind of shot with my compact camera but naturally I failed. It reached the fence and that's where I left it, no point harassing the poor thing when really it needs to be getting to bed.
So the standard for the day was already quite high, a species I can only recall ever seeing once before on my walk to work. Thats where the fun stops really, I got to work in the rain, I was wrecked. I crashed in the chair and power-napped. I actually had to leave quite early to get back for a meeting about the tern project, so at half 8 I set up to leave. There was not much going on with the ponds, the Oyks kept making a racket but I could find no source for their discontent, besides other Oyks.
On the way back to the warren I spotted a Sanderling on the beach which was quite approachable and allowed me to grab some shots of it should anything else fail to materialise during the day.
The meeting went well and by half 11 I was ready to roll on back to the hut to complete my shift. It was at this point that I received a radio message informing me of '3 clouded yellows on beacon lane'. Now I have to go up that lane to get to my shift, and I need clouded yellow, so I suppose I had better make a move. I think I reached beacon lane in my record fastest time. I then wandered up the lane slowly trying to pick out any yellow butterflies. I failed up to a point. The message had said that they were by the pond, so when I got to the pond and there was not one I assumed they must have moved on.
Of course its always at this point that they reveal themselves, and so it was today, as a yellow butterfly flew past me, over the pond banking and was not seen again. Such was my luck for today. However, I had plenty of time and decided to go for luck on the rough ground on the far side of the pond, as it looked like ideal habitat for them.
\It was a wise decision, as I managed to track down 2 Clouded Yellows in the area. Now a new problem arose, the butterflies seemed to have a mutual agreement that landing was no an option and proceed to fly all over the place but not land anywhere. In the end I decided my best option was to grab some record shots of them in flight, awful though they may be.
I grabbed a few before the butterflies moved on leaving me with only a few Common Blue and Wall Browns on the scrub. I wandered back but on the way picked up 3 more Clouded Yellows, and one of these had obviously not received the memo about not landing as it alighted multiple times of various flowers, though not for any extended time periods I hasten to add.
I swapped lenses and made to grab some photos of him. I made some decent attempts but they always seem to have some angle on them and were not profile, though some came close. In the end though I was pretty happy with my results, given what I had resigned myself to after the first few.
-Clouded Yellow
So that is another Lifer for me at Spurn and one that I had really wanted. Its been a long time coming, a big gap in my 'I-Spy butterflies and moths' (50 points). They were far brighter in flight than I had expected. I had thought they would be a shaded white butterfly, similar to brimstone, but not at all, they were a deep yellow and even looked orange at some points. I think its safe to say they did not disappoint me.
Sadly the afternoon did not live up to the billing of the butterflies. The 3 Little Grebe had remained on the pond, while an adult summer plumaged Grey Plover had added to the cast too, as well as a Turnstone. The real highlights were the Little Terns. Today I found one of the really young chicks, probably the last one. It was little more than a brown blob of fluff, but my time spent watching it was sadly cut short by an oncoming thunderstorm.
I could see it building on the horizon but when it hit it hard. There were numerous lightening flashes and thunder rolls, making for a spectacular change in scenery. The first storm was followed by a small second storm, what a way to finish the shift off. While the sky was so dark I decided to try and photograph some white birds against the dark background. I got some reasonable success when a Common Gull flew past.
-Common Gull
And that just about wraps up today. The walk home yielded very little but that is hardly surprising given the caliber of storms that had just gone over. I called it a night early due to the fact that I am just so tired, so no sea-watching tonight.

The Daily Oystercatcher
I was interested to see how the oystercatchers would react to the thunderstorm but I could not find them before it started to throw it down. I heard oystercatchers alarming during the storm but it was not the family I had been following. After the storm I had a another look and found them in the top corner. There was still thunder rolling but they did not seem bothered at all, with two birds sleeping and another two feeding during the whole thing.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Egret, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Swallow, Sand Martin, Arctic Skua, Gannet, Common Tern, Black-Tailed Godwit, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Mute Swan, Black-Headed Gull, Common Gull, Woodpigeon, Little Grebe, Grey Plover, Cormorant, Sanderling, Redshank, Whitethroat, Willow warbler, Blackbird, Great Tit, House Martin, House Sparrow, Sedge Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Common Teal, Greenshank, Herring Gull, Turnstone, Grey Heron, Grey Seal, Common Lizard, Clouded Yellow, Large White, Small White, Gatekeeper, Common Blue, Wall Brown, Meadow Brown, Emperor,

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