31 Jul 17

Another fine start to the day and early this morning above the Cottage were 2 Peregrine Falcons calling very loudly.

In the back garden a Red Admiral, Small White and Dawn found a Speckled Bush-cricket when she was weeding.

Birds recorded through the day were: 2 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Kestrel, Herring Gull, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, 2 House Martin, 2 Swallow, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Carrion Crow, 1 Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch.

A female Speckled Bush-cricket. Note the antennae are almost double the size of its body.

30 Jul 17

This afternoon I came across a Buff Ermine, Spilosoma lutea in the conservatory and Dawn came across a juvenile Robin at the back of the garden.

Buff Ermine

Buff Ermine

Church Ope Cove
What a difference a day makes as the rain moved away overnight and we all woke up to blue sky over Portland.

My usual walk to Church Ope Cove and lots of Orange Muscid Flies (Phaonia pallida), but very few Marmalade Hoverflies (Episyrphus balteatus).

In the woods a family of Spotted Flycatchers were heard calling.

Further down at St Andrews Church a pair of Common Blue butterflies, a Red Admiral, Ringlet and a Small White.

Close the archway at Rufus Castle a Wall Lizard was soaking up the midday sun as was another Red Admiral butterfly and Comma.

My usual walk avoiding the "claggy" quarry paths behind the cottage.

One of many Orange Muscid Flies on the Elder bush close to Pens Castle

A male Common Blue with wings open......

.......and wings closed.

And here is the female.

A Red Admiral on one of the buddleia bushes on the island.

A Wall Lizard by the archway at Rufus Castle.

29 Jul 17

Rain stopped play today, the only bird news was early on in the morning with 2 House Martins and a Swallow over the cottage.

28 Jul 17

Portland Bill
With the stormy seas, a howling gale, lots of whitebait and the prospect of seeing a Great Shearwater, I drove down to the Bill this afternoon to see if I could see this scarce sea bird. Sadly it didn't show this afternoon, but along with several other bird watchers we saw Manx Shearwaters, at least 20 Balearic Shearwater, 2 Storm Petrel, 15 Gannets, 5 Cormorant, 2 Arctic Skuas and dozens of gulls mainly Herring Gull, with a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Black-headed Gulls.

The Skuas were harassing the gullsshearwaters and even the Gannets in the hope that they would give up the their food they'd caught. Its no wonder they're called the pirates of the sea.

Around the Lighthouse were 130 Starlings Light-keepers house. Also seen 2 Carrion Crow, a House Sparrow and a lone Swallow.

Birds Recorded were:5 Manx Shearwater, 20+ Balearic Shearwater, 2 Storm Petrel, 15 Gannets, 5 Cormorant, 2 Arctic SkuasBlack-headed GullHerring Gull, Lesser Black-backed GullGreat Black-backed Gull, 130 Starlings, 2 Carrion Crows, 1 Swallow and 1 House Sparrow.

Here are a few images from this afternoon. Not the best due to the sea spray.

A melee of gulls as they feed on whitebait pushed up to the surface by larger fish.

In amongst the gulls were......


.........Balearic Shearwaters......

....and at least 2 Arctic Skuas.

Closer to the Bill these Herring Gulls fly off to join the frenzy.

On the roof of Light-keepers house.......

........were 130 Starlings.....

.......with juveniles outnumbering the adults 3:1.

27 Jul 17

Church Ope Cove
I will try a different walk one of these days. But there are so many different things I'm finding on this particular walk, that it's hard to drag myself away to go somewhere different.

I mean if hadn't walked it today then who knows I may never have seen my first ever Wall Brown butterfly. I was so lucky to come across it. It landed on the wall next to me at Rufus Castle and I managed two shots before lots of walkers went by and put it up.

Other highlights were a Sand Wasp which could well be Ectemnius sexcinctus. It was on the "Hoverfly bush" at Pennsylvania Castle where there are still hundreds of Marmalade Hoverflies and now 2 Orange Muscid Flies (Phaonia pallida).

In the grounds of St Andrews Church there was 3rd instar nymph of a Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) and as I was heading up the steps I came across an unusual fly to ID later. In fact the fly was actually a hoverfly Ferdinandea cuprea. It took me ages trying to find out what it was and eventually someone pointed out to me that it was actually a hoverfly.

The female Kestrel was doing well over the rough ground north of Church Ope Cove and on several occasions managed to catch what I presume were grasshoppers.

Out to sea, which was pretty rough to say the least, there were at least 12 Gannets heading south.

Here are a few images from this afternoon.

My walk this afternoon

Church Ope Cove

The view from Rufus Castle looking south

Gannets heading...

......south towards the Bill.

This female Kestrel was.......

.....doing really well.......

........catching what I presume were Grasshoppers.

And then it was back up again for another hover.

My first ever Wall Brown. So lucky to come across it at Rufus Castle. A minute later and I would never have seen it as walkers came by and put it up.

An interesting looking fly......

.......and in fact not a True fly but actually a hoverfly, Ferdinandea cuprea. A first for me.

And this is a Sand Wasp, most likely Ectemnius sexcinctus ........

........it was marching up and down the leaves of the Elder.......

.....looking for prey.....

.........and looking really menacing.

Glad I'm not a bug, look at those eyes and fangs. It's favourite prey is hoverflies!

One of 2 Orange Muscid Flies on the Elder today.

3rd instar nymph of a Common Green Shieldbug.

Large White.

26 Jul 17

Church Ope Cove
Walk number 3 this afternoon which missed out Bumpers Lane Quarry with all that claggy and sticky Portland mud. The rain stopped and the sun came out briefly, but quarries are not good places to walk after heavy rain.

I have now found where Marmalade comes from. Well the hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus, just as you drop down off Wakeham road into the wood at Pennsylvania Castle there is a young Elder tree which was absolutely covered with Marmalade hoverflies, if I said there were 200+ you could have possibly doubled that with the number that were on neighbouring nettles and shrubs. What they were doing on there I have no idea. Some sort of sap/sugar from the leaves. There were black aphids present, were they feeding on the sugary juices excreted from these. Possibly!

There weren't just hoverflies but I noticed a Sawfly and an orange fly amongst other flies which I believe is an Orange Muscid Fly (Phaonia pallida)

Birds seen and heard en-route were 3 House Martins, 2 Swallows, 1 Swift and for the second day running a "finch" with a loud trill. Certainly not something I've heard before.

It certainly wasn't a Greenfinch, which got me thinking that it might be a Serin and sure enough the flight call is very similar. So if you are out about by Rufus Castle and St Andrews Church have a listen for this trill: Flight call Here

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

Walk Number 3 avoiding the quarries

The hoverfly bush. Well we have a butterfly bush in the form of a buddleia, well this Elder was proving to be irresistible to these Marmalade hoverflies and other insects.

Very busy Marmalade Hoverflies on Elder leaves.

A sawfly to identify........

..........possible one of the Allantinae family but as to which one. Unfortunately it flew off before I could any decent photographs of it. As I searched in vain I came across this...............

........bright orange fly........

...........which I reckon is a Phaonia pallida and possibly called the Orange Muscid Fly.

On the way down to the footpath at Pennsylvania Castle I met one of my neighbours, Roger, photographing this Painted Lady taking refuge in his hanging basket. It took us awhile to figure out what it was, as it's underwing pattern had us a bit foxed. I realise now that 99% of the Painted Lady's I've ever seen, have had their wings outstretched. One to remember.

A bit further down Wakeham I noticed this local miner coming out of a pit in a local garden. Good to see that the old methods of extracting minerals are still being carried out on the island.

When I got back home this Ringlet was on the wall........

.......as was the Dark Bush-cricket from this morning......

.......and not to be outdone a Red Admiral was on the other side of the courtyard.

Despite the persistent rain there is always something to find in the garden and unsurprisingly it was snails that took centre stage with Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum) and Yellow-lipped Banded Snails (Cepaea hortensis). A lone Large Red Slug (Arion ater) was the only one I found.

A Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) made its way across the storage bin for shelter as the rain came down and there were several Marmalade Hoverflies (Episyrphus balteatus) resting up in the flower bed.

Garden Snail

And another..........

and another one.

A white-lipped banded snail.....

.......and another.

And another, showing the difference in colours and patterns. More on White-lipped Banded Snails Here.

A Large Red Slug

Marmalade Hoverfly.........

..........this one resting on a twig.

A Dark Bush-cricket was a surprise as it searched for shelter.