Saturday, 6 June 2015

Marsh Fritillary at Volehouse Moor, Local Bits 'n' Bobs and a Close Encounter

I haven't been getting out that much recently, due to the weather always being crappy on my days off work. Last week was no exception when on Sunday and most of Monday it consisted of gale force winds and rain. Looking at the forecast though I could see that it would clear up in the early afternoon on Monday, so I took the chance and drove to North Devon to visit the DWT reserve at Volehouse Moor. I'd been here once before and was really impressed with it, but I can't believe that that was four years ago now! It's a great site for Marsh Fritillary which is what I was hoping to see, but with the weather being so cool and windy it was going to be a bit 'touch and go'. When we arrived it was indeed very cool, even though the sun was out for prolonged periods. Eventually though the butterflies warmed up enough to take to the wing, not in great numbers but it was good to at least see a few. 

 The reserve spans both sides of the valley here with the River Torridge flowing through the middle of it. The reserve really is 'in the middle of nowhere'.

Culm grassland - Marsh Fritillary habitat.

Where are those Marsh Fritillaries?

This one was so preoccupied with nectaring on this Marsh Thistle, that it let me take some real close up shots.

It was covered in pollen.

There was lots of this in the culm grassland too...

Ragged Robin - Silene flos-cuculi

LousewortPedicularis sylvatica

Yellow Rattle - Rhinanathus minor

The best bird sighting was this lovely Tree Pipit.

I've been out and about locally when able and here are a few of my highlights...

The beautiful but highly poisonous Monkshood - Aconitum napellus.
This is the first time I've spotted it in the wild. It was on a roadside verge so is obviously a garden escape as it is only native in a very few places in damp woods by water.

Exuvia of Four-spotted Chaser -Libellula quadrimaculata ...

This Four-spotted Chaser.
In pristine pre-flight condition. 

Wood Ants - Formica rufa

Team Work!

 Round-leaved Sundew - Drosera rotundifolia

 Common Lizard - Zootoca vivipara

I've added a couple of unexpected birds to my new house list. Firstly during the wet and windy weather on Sunday evening, whilst sitting on my settee looking out of the window I spotted an unfamiliar bird flying into a small hawthorn tree. I picked up my bins for a closer look and was surprised to see a Spotted Flycatcher.

It was quite a long way away but it's recognisable.

Even more unexpected, on Wednesday afternoon I was getting changed ready for work when I clearly heard a Bee-eater! It got louder and louder and was clearly overhead. I couldn't see it out of the window and by the time I'd got some clothes on and got outside it was gone. I tried to text out news but my phone died and I had to give up as I was going to be late for work. As I hadn't seen it, it was impossible to tell which way it went.

Talking of my phone dying, I haven't been able to get it going again and the battery has now swollen up! I've ordered a new battery but will have no phone until it arrives. Hope I don't miss anything!

Finally, whilst on my regular morning walk on Salcombe Hill a couple of weeks ago I bumped into this gorgeous creature in the woods, closest I've ever been to one.


Andrew Cunningham said...


Could I ask where this Monkshood was please?
Garden escape or not, this would be nice for me to see in Devon.


Karen Woolley said...

Certainly Andrew, It's on the road from Sidmouth to Seaton heading towards Seaton. Not far past the Donkey sanctuary there's a right turn with a sign saying Rockenhayne ( a farm)it's in the first gateway on right past this turn. Saying all that, it would be easier if I gave you the grid ref: SY 17687 91093. There's room to park a small car in the gateway. It's looking great at the moment many more flowers then when I photographed it.

Andrew Cunningham said...

Brilliant, many thanks for this. I shall visit these flowers soon.


Andrew Cunningham said...

Thanks again Karen. I saw these super flowers this morning.