Monday, 24 April 2017

Bits and bobs from the last couple of weeks.

A couple of photos from the last week or two. It's always great to see your first Comma I also found my first Long Tailed Tits nest of the year, they seem to like gorse and makes you think how many of these works of art go up in smoke when kids set fire to it.

Cracking bit of Green Woodpecker poo and to think this is all bits of ants .

Over the last couple of weeks I been taking part in a rust survey for Glamorgan Fungus Group on facebook and have been looking down a fair bit for it. They are looking for Nettle Rust Puccina Urticata and two different Rusts on Lesser Celandine. I been seeing yellow for days. The rusts are called Uromyces Flcariea which is black and like a mole on your skin and Uromyces Dactylis which has yellow spots. Also the last two are Bluebell Rust Uromyces Muscari and last one is Nipplewort Rust Lapsana Communis which is the only one I have not found in the valley yet or heard of it before.
I also found this Caterpillar on Nettle and I been told it's a Angle Shades Caterpillar.
This is Uromyces Dactylis
and Uromyces Flcarine,
Mark and myself found this poo and had a good old sniff has you do and it had beetle wing case in it and turned out to be  Red Fox.
It's alway great to whistle a Chiffchaff in and get a close encounter also it's always a relief to see it's a bird and not some ringers playing a tape.
A Willow Warbler having a sing off with a Meadow pipit and the Willow warbler knocked the pipit off the higher perch .
Peacock butterfly from Tir Founder fields last Saturday also this Greylag in with the Bog Bean which is looking great at this time of the year.

Chaffinch in Aberdare Park.

Rhaslas grey plover

Busy today but managed to call in briefly at 10:00 hours, grey with a thin mist just clearing. Scoped the east bank from west of the pool and I initially dismissed the above as a golden plover but thought no it looks too big. It's the first record for the pool and it appears to be the most northerly record for the shire. The bird was still there when I left, feeding on the east bank, also dunlin[3], common sandpiper[2] together with all the usual suspects. There is a growing expanse of mud at Llwyn-onn, just common sandpiper today but something may turn up. At Llangasty; dunlin[3] and a common sandpiper.

Last Minute

At the last minute I decided to have a weekend away so a quick look on the net and I booked a night's B & B in Churston in Devon.

I arrived an hour early to book in so I nipped down to Broadsands to have a look at the Cirl Buntings. However the car park had a lot more beach huts there than normal and right in front of the place where seed is dropped for the birds. Also a learner driver was doing laps around the car park. Not a good start and no Cirl's were seen. I walked up onto the cliff but it was very quiet out in the bay as well.

I then booked in and walked down into Brixham through some back lanes, fields and woodland. Birdlife was quiet but did have a few butterflies, loads of Orange Tips, Brimstone, Speckled Woods, Holly Blue, Peacock and Small Tortiseshell.

First port of call was obviously to have fish and chips and very nice they were too. The tame turnstones around the harbour gave good entertainment has I ate a Blackcurrant and Clotted Cream ice cream (Mike you really have to try that one). Thinking after all that food I should do some walking so I went around the harbour and right out to the end of the breakwater. Only thing of note were two Greater Black Backed Gulls literally trying to kill each other, how any of them flew away was amazing it was so vicious.

Eating breakfast the next morning I looked out of the window where I saw three Wheatears worming with the local Starlings on the local playing field.

I then went up to Berry Head. The only other time I had been there was with Rob to see the female Sardinian Warbler which must have been 9 or 10 years ago. The weather was too good for migrants and out to sea there were plenty of Fulmars and Auks. I did however pick up a new butterfly for the year a Wall Brown.

Next stop was Labrador Bay, a new site for me and I picked up 3 Cirl Buntings fairly quickly, not even a year tick !!!

I then drove to Cockwood but could not find the resident Slav. Grebe. A quick walk around the front at Dawlish also produced nothing. The weather had turned quite chilly by now so a hot meal was in order. The Ship Inn at Cockwood done the goods with a fantastic Sunday roast.

Driving back home the weather turned better has I got to Somerset so I decided to call into Shapwick. Has I opened the door of the car a Cuckoo called to my right but I could not locate it. I walked down towards Ham Wall but the reserve seemed quiet. I continued down to the next viewing platform where things started to pick up. I think it was just that right time of the evening where the birds started singing again. Reed Warbler was my first year tick, Bitterns started to boom around 7 in all, two more Cuckoo's were heard, Sedge Warblers were calling, lots of Blackcaps were around and a few Great White Egrets in flight. 5 March Harriers were observed and best of all after searching through the Teal I managed to find a stunning drake Garganey. Also a pair of Pochard flew past calling, what an unusual sound which I have never heard before.

I must admit this was the best evening's birding I have had for ages, the light was great, really peaceful with hardly any people around and of course some fantastic birds.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

BBS winners and losers

As ever the BBS provides something to ponder. This mornings visit produced a number of winners and losers.

The losers were Mountain Mars Bars and Chiffchaff's with only one of each recorded. No Stonechats, but that's not unusual for the early visit.

The winners were Dunnock, my biggest count ever. and Wheatear, a pair were my first on site for some three years.

Best sighting was on the walk home, when a female Goosander flew out of a hole in a tree stump.

Water Shrew

Dead water shrew this morning, I've never seen a live one, opposite A470 underpass leading from Abercanaid to Webbers Pond. Most of the keeled tail is missing which would have reduced its hunting efficiency but cracking pair of rear hairy feet, reminds me of Phil 'The Hobbit' Hill😀. Plenty of willow warbler and black cap with just occasional chiffchaff and then only when away from the A470. No redstart in the local woodland yet and worryingly, my dipper appear to have disappeared off the Taf fronting the length of the village, c2-3 pairs (I hope its just my hangover).

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Up till now I've only managed to see four species of butterflies on the wing in the UK, and never more than 1 species on a day. Taking advantage of unexpected afternoon at home I just stayed very local to the house - probably traveled no more 500m from the house. In that time a managed to see 5 species, 3 for the first time. It started with the first of 3 Holly Blues, followed by several Speckled Woods (first seen last Monday). A Small White was next up (first recorded two weeks ago). Next up a Orange Tip, followed quickly by a Comma.

Other first sightings for the year included a fly over House Martin, a Hawthorn Shieldbug, Ashy Mining-bee and a probable Grey-patched Mining-bee.
probable Grey-patched Mining-bee - note the patches of grey/white hairs along the side of the abdomin

                                           Holly Blue
                                           Hawthorn Shieldbug

Monday, 17 April 2017


I called in briefly this morning 08:00 hours; noted greenshank[2] feeding on southeast bank, took the sheep track below south dam and managed to get a record shot without flushing. Birds still loafing when I left, also present a single dunlin and the drake scaup. Slow trickle of single swallow, most wheatear appear to have moved through. Working the rest of the day, see you.