Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Arctia villica)
One of the Highlights of the day!
Springwatch? Summerwatch! It was absolutely stifling hot today at Minsmere RSPB!
Left my house ridiculously early and arrived at Minsmere at 7.15am. It was cold first thing, but I was dressed appropriately. Headed straight to Island Mere Hide, where I met people that had been watching 7 different Bitterns since daybreak! I had to wait a while before I saw one and then had a few more distant fly pasts from at least two Bitterns. Early bird catches the worm, I wasn't early enough! Met a very nice lady called Nat who was very chatty and was intrigued that I birded alone. I had a wonderful time soaking up the magnificent scenery from this spectacular hide. Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Great Crested Grebes, Marsh Harriers, Swans and fluffy cygnets, Cetti's Warblers singing and Bearded Tits pinging. Common Terns hovered, then dived into the pool, right in front of the hide! Hirundines filling the skies, magical. The Springwatch cameras were set up in the dyke for Spineless Simon! There is a pop-up cafe (as its called) in the woods on route to this hide, which is an added addition, whilst Springwatch is here. I was disappointed not see any Adders on the 'Adder Trail', I waited for a while, but no luck.
At South Hide I heard and watched 2 Med. Gulls fly overhead and land somewhere on the scrape at 10.45am. Lots of hirundines fly catching. Such beautiful scenery as I walked along this path, heading towards the sluice gate – several large scrapes/pools with Little Egrets and various ducks, Lapwings etc. It was seriously hot now and I had far too many layers on. Lots of things have changed since I last visited this fabulous reserve and now its even better, I can't recommend a visit to the reserve highly enough – it has such a diverse range of habitats.
At the sluice gate I headed towards Sizewell B and searched all the bushes throughly for migrants – I was disappointed, as I only found a handful of Linnets and a single Whitethroat, not another bird anywhere. However I did find something very exciting – I suddenly became aware of a very large, bright and strikingly pretty moth/butterfly, which overall looked orange as it fluttered around at speed and then zoomed off in the distance. I kept my bins on it until it landed and then quickly caught up with it and managed to get some iphone pics and SLR pictures. Unfortunately though, I didn't manage to get any in flight, it was far too quick. It was such a striking moth, with its black body and large cream patterned splodges and orange/red body and black antenae, but I could't recall having seen one before. I was thinking Garden Tiger, but knew this wasn't right. Phoned my Mother for assistance who informed me that it was probably a Cream-spot Tiger! From the Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland: "Status and Distribution" – Resident. Local. Locally frequent in south-west, southern and south-east England, East Anglia and South Wales, and most frequent on or near the coast, and on heathland. Widespread and frequent in the Channel Islands." So pleased with my find, but it was a long walk back to the sluice! I also found a Male Broad-bodied Chaser perched on a bramble which I managed to get a photo of.
Cream Spot Tiger Moth by the sluice bushes.
Sat on the shingle beach to cool down, but this was a mistake, the shingle was red hot and there was no sea breeze, I got up 2 minutes later! Headed along the North Wall where there were lots of people watching Bearded Tits zip about across the two reed beds. A Bittern flew across and also a Marsh Harrier. Headed back to the Visitor Centre where I had an ice-cream to cool down. Went back to my car and had an hour's snooze. Returned to the visitor centre to enjoy a cheese scone and nice mug of tea. Met some blog readers – nice to meet you both.
Headed back to Island Mere Hide for the evening. Its quite a walk to this hide when you are feeling tired, but felt compelled to return. The Springwatch team were with the cameras in the dyke, doing checks etc for the show later. I sat in the hide and the light was just as good in here in the evening as the morning. Had a fly past bittern and the same birds as this morning – I noticed on the sightings board a Great White Egret had been seen and I was told by Nat whom I met this morning that it regulary turns up each afternoon. Normally I would have stayed until dusk, as it was so beautiful but it was a good 20 minute walk back to the car and then a two hour journey home, so I headed back. The midges were out in force and ready! I got back to my car just in time. Had a coffee and left around 8pm, getting home at 10.10pm. A fabulous day all round.
MORE PICTURES TO BE ADDED