26th. Red kite over the A39 between Farrington Gurney and Temple Cloud.
25th. West Pentire and Porth Joke. The fields were very colourful with common poppy and corn marigold dominating the National Trust fields, with a sprinkling of borage, germander speedwell, campions and tufted vetch among them. Greater knapweed was starting to flower on the coast with sea carrot, sea beet, sea plantain and betony too.
Silver-studded blues are on the wing. First photo- with the soft-winged flower beetle Psilothrix viridicoeruleus on sea carrot. Last photo (underwing) by Hetty.
24th. The churchyard at St Uny's Church, Lelant is alive with flowers: rock stonecrop, and lots of pyramidal orchids: there are many on the verges of the A30 near Hayle too.
One highlight here is the 'Hebridean orchid', Dactylorhiza fuschii subsp. hebridensis, or var. cornubiensis (confined to Cornwall) as some prefer to call it.
Stinking iris grew in the lane to the car park at Porthkidney.
23rd. Goldolphin. Southern marsh orchids and corncockle in the National Trust grounds.
22nd. Tree-mallow on The Island, St Ives.
Marazion Marsh to see the confiding male black-winged stilt. Stonechat photographed too.
20th. What an extended phenotype the wren has. He may be inconspicuous in appearance, but the male puts huge effort into singing, and builds a series of nests to attract females. This nest was built in the willow screening on the decking outside my office. No sign of an interested female though.
19th. Back to the Avon Gorge to watch the three juvenile peregrines that fledged on 11th. It's great to see the parents bringing back birds for the fledglings to eat on the cliffs.
14th-17th. We held the Bats, Bugs and Biodiversity fieldcourse at Folly Farm, and the Welsh Government has not opened up residential centres yet. There was a lot of COVID-prevention management, and I took two students back to Bristol for self-isolation and PCR testing (both negative) during a third wave of infection. We had single rooms, and did lateral flow tests daily, and I felt safe with 2 vaccinations. Nevertheless, we had a great time. We caught 3 male soprano pipistrelles and there were 8 lesser horseshoe bats in the old barn.
The orchid meadow was spectacular with the common spotted orchids in full bloom, including white flowered var. albiflora? There was a line of bee orchids on the verge close to our lab.
Emperor and broad-bellied skimmer dragonflies patrolled the pond.
Large numbers of azure damselflies were mating on a warm afternoon.
Large red damselfly here too.
12th. We visited Knepp Wildland in West Sussex to walk around some of the rewilding areas. It consists of a 3500 acre estate that was farmed previously, and has restored water courses, extensive scrub and grazing and browsing by fallow and red deer, long-horned cattle, Exmoor ponies, Tamworth pigs are the ecological equivalents of wild boar and turn over the soil. The idea is to restore the site to former natural habitats including a mosaic of open pasture and wooded areas.
Birds included red kite, yellowhammer, nightingales still singing and the first turtle dove I have seen in the UK for decades.
White storks have been reintroduced there, and are breeding for the first time, with 3 nests containing chicks. It was great to see the storks soaring in the thermals.
Insects included my first scarce chaser - photos by Hetty to show the blue eyes and dark patches at the wing bases.
Beautiful demoiselles were common too, and plants included grass vetchling.
6th. Back to Ham Wall to photograph the river warbler. Bearded tit and hobby too.
5th. Carrion crows nested in our birch tree. one of the parents is partially albino, a chick that fledged prematurely more so.
4th. Botallack - 6 chough, including a colour-ringed bird that fledged near St Just in 2019. Apparently they are non-breeders. Splendid plants including cliff Dyer's greenweed Genista tinctoria subsp. littoralis, the parasitic common dodder Cuscuta epithymum, and swathes of kidney vetch Anthylis vulneraria and thrift Armeria maritima. Wall butterflies are on the wing. On our way back we called in to see the singing RIVER WARBLER at Ham Wall RSPB reserve.
3rd. An amazing day out on the Lizard with Kurt and Ian Bennallick, who has outstanding knowledge of the Lizard flora. We started at the Green, seeing the endemic ciliate rupturewort Herniaria ciliolata subsp. ciliolata, restricted to the Lizard in mainland UK. The photo below is from nicer specimens at Caerthillian Cove.
We also saw the inconspicuous Greek sea spurry Spergularia bocconei, an introduced rarity. Along a nearby track we saw hairy buttercup Ranunculus sardous with its reflexed sepals, Cornish ramping fumitory Fumaria occidentalis (Cornish and Scilly endemic with dorsally compressed upper petal) and the musk storks-bill Erodium moschatum covered in white hairs.
We then visited Caerthillian Cove, a hotspot for rare clovers.
Our first rare clover was the upright clover Trifolium strictum with its narrow leaflets. It is only otherwise found in mid-Wales in the UK.
We were then shown Trifolium scabrum, the rough clover with its pubescent leaves.
Next was long-headed clover Trifolium incarnatum subsp. molinerii, again only found on the Lizard in mainland Britain.
Western clover Trifolium occidentale was also present. This resembles the abundant white clover T. repens, but has unmarked, thicker leaflets and red on the upper part of the calyx. It was first described by David Coombe in 1961 from material on the Lizard.
We bumped into Mike Dilger, who is writing a book on seeing 1000 plants in Britain in a year, and appreciated Ian's help with the clovers.
We walked towards Kynance Cove, and saw sea asparagus Asparagus prostratus flowering.
In a sheltered area we saw thyme broomrape Orobanche alba and spring sandwort Sabulina verna.
In a sheltered area we saw a lovely display of wild chives, Allium schoenoprasum, with small pearl-bordered fritillaries feeding on the flowers.
Nearby we saw some dwarf rush Juncus capitatus past its best, and our last rare clover species - a single flower of the twin-flowered clover Trifolium bocconei. This species is also only known from the Lizard in mainland Britain.
The very rare spotted cat's-ear Hypochaeris maculata was in flower.
We also saw dropwort Filipendula vulgaris and the rare black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans (actually a sedge).
We visited a small pond where we thought the rare three-lobed crowfoot Ranunculus tripartitus was flowering, though these specimens are apparently hybrids. Ian also showed us a rare alga again confined to Cornwall (except for one population in Scotland) in mainland Britain, the strawberry stonewort Chara fragifera, with its strong aroma. We saw lesser water plantain Baldellia ranunculoides in flower here too.
Lesser meadow rue Thalictrum minus was in bud on the cliff faces.
At Gew Graze we saw the prostrate juniper subspecies confined to the Lizard, Juniperus communis ssp. hemisphaerica.
The rare prostrate broom Cytisus scoparius subsp. maritimus was flowering strongly now too.
As we returned to Lizard village, we found pillwort Pilularia globulifera, a partially aquatic fern, a pale heath-violet Viola lactea and the introduced rosy garlic Allium roseum which now grows in swathes along the A30 near Hayle.
We also saw hairy greenweed Genista pilosa (see May photographs), cliff Dyer's greenweed Genista tinctoria subsp. littoralis (see tomorrow's photographs) and petty whin Genista anglica. Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile was in leaf in the ruts. Near Kynance Cove Babington's leek Allium ampeloprasum var. babingtonii was in bud. Bloody cranes-bill Geranium sanguinium was widespread.
We visited Windmill Farm - no marsh fritillaries, though we did find southern marsh orchid, black-tailed skimmers (female below) and an adder. A female marsh harrier and a peregrine flew over.
2nd. Cornwall with Kurt Vickery. We looked for the black stork seen from Buttermilk Hill in the evening, but didn't see it (it flew past Carbis Bay soon after). Nice linnet and cuckoo though.