Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Culverhole Revisited

It is just over a year since my last visit to Culverhole, a quiet little spot rich in plants and creatures, on the Jurassic coast east of Axmouth. Today I finished work a bit early and headed out along the shingle. I had two targets. One, Marsh Fragrant Orchid. I already knew that at least two were present recently, so had no doubt they still would be! And two, Cliff Tiger Beetle. Last year I flukily came across one of these rare beasts - my first - and got a couple of poor photos. This time I wanted to find one on purpose and get better pics, if possible.

Things went pretty well...

The shingly plod was instantly rewarded with these 5 Med Gulls, plus at least another four offshore

Culverhole.

Two Marsh Fragrant Orchids, settled and showing well. It felt like they were in exactly the same spot as last year's singleton.

A rich lushness of Marsh Helleborines.

With invert-hunting my main priority this time, I didn't really go to town on the flowers. Suffice to say there were hundreds of Marsh Helleborines, but most of the other orchids (Southern Marsh mainly) had gone over.

I spent a lot of time scanning the deck for scuttling things. I expected a lot of spiders, but amazingly the very first thing that caught my eye was a Cliff Tiger Beetle! It dodged and weaved, and eventually vanished in the vegetation before I could get any photos. Needless to say, the next hundred scuttling things were indeed spiders.

There was lots of other stuff to look at though...

I am pretty sure this is a teneral Keeled Skimmer.

Obviously I had an eye out for moths. This one as yet unidentified. Judging by its plain brown-ness, it might stay that way.

Serious jaws on these flies. I did look them up, and got as far as family, but can't remember what it was. Began with 'C' I think. I can't even cope with moths, so flies have go no chance.

Another Keeled Skimmer. Female I presume.

Safe ground at last. Male Keeled Skimmer. Definitely.

Keeled Skimmer was easily the most numerous dragon. I got plenty of photos, which means...

...I've got to use them.

Another as-yet-unidentified moth.

Finally, after several thousand spiders, another Cliff Tiger Beetle. Unbelievably it paused for a millisecond, so I got a record shot...

Cliff Tiger Beetle. Obviously.

The vegetation was short enough and sparse enough that I could follow it quite easily, but it rarely stopped moving, and I thought my chances of a decent-ish photo were slim. But then I had an idea...

Cliff Tiger Beetle. In the shade here, so not much colour.


In the sun. About as colourful as it gets.

The idea? Pretty obvious really. A bit of judicious 'shepherding'...

You. Shall. Not. Pass.

Actually, this only held it up for a few seconds, if that. Mostly it just changed direction without stopping.

A very satisfying encounter with this rare little beetle.

Finally, to cap things off, a couple of macro-moths on the way back...

Flushed off the beach - a Common Wave. We've had this one in the trap.

On the path back from the river mouth - Chalk Carpet. A new one for me, and not that common I think...though perhaps they are along this stretch of coast. Best shot I managed before it was flushed by a passing cyclist.

And home for dinner...

8 comments:

  1. A great haul but I love the tiger beetle.

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    1. Cheers Dave, the beetle was excellent fun. 😊

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  2. For the small brown moth, image recognition at observations.be says: Celypha lacunana - The dark strawberry tortrix

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    1. Is that you, Ric? And yes, your suggestion looks spot on. It's dead common, so I'll have it! 😄👍

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  3. Alas no Gav. I'm way too simple minded to cope with the erudite machinations required for moth ID.

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    1. Ah, apologies Ric.

      PS. I doubt that. 😊

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  4. Hi Gav, What a great spot that is. Your micro is indeed lacunana. The flies I think are what we colloquially know as 'Humpty-back Shaggers' as that is all they ever do! The real name is Sicus ferrugineus. Your other moth is a worn Pyrausta but Im not sure which, at least Ive narrowed your search...

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    1. Excellent, thanks for your help, Stew. Culverhole is a little oasis. It's a fair old walk along shingle to get there, and no proper paths, so never anyone else there.

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