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Fri 4th June 2010

Posted on June 5, 2010 at 5:15 AM

moths : I was shocked to see in my database that it had been10 years since I had seen a Glanville Fritillary. This is the speciality butterfly of Guernsey and I went to see them the first two summers I was here, but haven't since. So with a couple of free hours today, and with the temperatures suddenly hitting the roof, I hit the cliffs. I didn't go to Pleinmont where I had seen them before because I haven't found them there since, so I tried further along at Mont Herault.

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clifftop habitat of Glanville Fritillary

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Upon arrival it was clear there had just been a massive emergence of Five-spot Burnet Moths - I estimated that there were 1000+ just in this area alone. They were everywhere, especially liking the Sheep's-bit flowers it seems, although one thought it would find some tasty nector up my shorts - poor beggar! I soon saw my first fritillary and discovered by looking down that they were mainly flying a few feet below the top of the cliff, right above the precipitous slope. This would make photography tricky as I was not going to go anywhere near the edge, but every now and again, one would fly up and fly around the flat bit. They were very flighty and difficult to get close to so I didn't get very good photos.

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Glanville Fritillary, Mont Herault

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With the excellent conditions for insects, there was plenty more to see including my first Painted Lady of the year, and three migrant Silver Y moths, as well as another 10 species of moth. The highlight was the Thrift Clearwing which are very tricky to spot.

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Thrift Clearwing

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Scoparia pyralella - a common species on the cliffs and commons but never caught in the traps

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haven't a clue what this is that was flying on the clifftop - looks like some kind of cochylid

tortrix moth but this will need investigating as I'm sure I haven't seen one before.

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birds : With the discovery of a Marmora's Warbler in Wales yesterday it reminded me of a great twitch back in 1992 when me and Mike cadged a lift from Bristol to see the one at Spurn. This then prompted me to wonder exactly how much twitching I had actually done back in the day, and so I decided to map  out all my twitches.

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The blue are my Leeds based twitches which were mostly alone, the yellow are my Bristol student twitches where I cadged lifts places as I was too poor to have a car, the red ones are just random twitches when I was elsewhere. As can be seen, I never went too far, the longest being Bristol to Northumberland for a Pine Bunting - slightly longer than the 4 or 5 miles that I twitched to see one here! There is quite a bit of snobbery regarding twitching but it is an important part of the learning curve of a birder, getting to see interesting birds and listening to discussions and debates about identification, and you get to see lots of interesting places you never would have usually visited. I recommend the odd twitch every now and again.

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Nutcracker and Desert Warbler - same day, same twitch,1991 - classic!

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The Seven Ages of Birder  (with apologies to William Shakespeare!)

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All the world's a hide,

And all the men and women merely birders,

They have their exits and entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

with ants in jars and ducks in the park.

Then, the schoolboy birdwatcher with his notebook

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

over field and hedge. And then the birder,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his local patch. Then a twitcher,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the crippling blocker

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the part-time birder

In fair round belly, with babe in arms,

With bills severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws, and Scilly tales,

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and booted traveller,

With spectacles on nose, and air miles on side,

His guidebooks well sav'd, a world so wide,

For his tiring shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again towards childish lists, ‘til pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is return to patch and careful observation,

Sans wheels, sans lists, sans scope, sans everything.

 

Categories: 2010 Summer