Monday, 24 July 2017


An early start on Sunday saw myself, Martin Bevan and Phil head over to Nottinghamshire to catch up with the breeding Bee-eaters, and hopefully getting better views than our previous visit to the breeding bird on the Isle of Wight. It was quite overcast on arrival but it wasn't long before we heard our first Bee-eater call, alarming as a Sparrowhawk flew over. Not long after the first bird was seen hawking over one of the gravel pits before perching on a distant tree. It wasn't long before it was joined by a second bird. The light remained poor and the birds distant to allow for any decent photographs. After over a hour, with up to 4 Bee-eaters showing we headed back to the car, but not before we had great looks of two perched quite close to the main road on the overhead wires, allowing great photo opportunities.

Such a great looking bird, but surely wrongly named It's an A*-eater!

We then followed that with a trip to Fermyn Woods to try for Purple Emperor. No luck with the Emperor but we recorded 40+ Purple Hairsteaks, a single White Admiral, many Silver-washed Fritilary(to his shame, these were Mr Bevans first fritilaries of the year)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Right Place, Right Time

Driving over to Merthyr Common this morning, I saw to my right a young Cuckoo sitting on a wall. I managed to take one very bad photo with my phone before it flew onto another wall a little further away. I noticed a layby just along the road so pulled in, grabbed my camera and started to walk back then realised my battery had gone. Run back to the car, changed the battery, looked around and was pleasantly surprised to see a Meadow Pipit right next to the Cuckoo with food in its mouth. I only managed to rattle off a few record shots.

Sunday, 16 July 2017


Mark recently posted on Facebook a picture of what he believed was the harvestman Dicranopalpus ramosus, a species that has colonised from the mediteranean area over the past few decades. The species is, or was, easily identified by it's habit of siting with all 8 legs stretched out to the side. I say "was", as a response to Marks post indicated a second species of Dicranopalpus was now recognised and had been found in the UK, D. caudatus. 

A bit of a Google search found a paper on the two species, that included some useful photographs. D. caudatus is a slightly smaller beast that D. ramosus, but the shape of the "body" appears sufficiently different to allow either species to be identified. This sent my looking back through my photo's.

It looks like I've managed to photograph both spp this year.

This, I think, is a female D. ramosus as the body clearly broadens behind the rear legs.

whilst this is, I think, a female D. caudatus, lacking the noticable broadening of the body behind the legs, what broadening there is, is slight. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Slim pickings

Not much free time the last month or so and when I did get out, usually in the wrong place and/or the wrong time. Called in at Rhaslas this morning and hopefully passage is kicking off with 2 dunlin and a single common sandpiper present. At the Neuadd on the 5th a very vocal juvenile common sandpiper and several keeled skimmers using the rush shrouded streams where once a reservoir stood. At Talybont reservoir on the 1st 3 common sandpipers and 3 little egret. Moth wise a shark in the garden trap on the 28th June was a tick.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Perciverence pays off

After been shown my first Broad-leaved Helleborine by Mr Bevan a few years back I've been searching my local woods for the species, to no avail..... until this afternoon when I stumbled upon two plants. Both had been damaged but were still full of life. One had just opened it's first flower.
A couple of critters from this afternoons walk.
                              The "Mediteranean" Harvestman Dicranopalpus ramosus.
                                           Orange Ladybird
                                         Orange-legged Furrow Bee Halictus rubicundus

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

a second bite at the cherry

After the disappointment from the disappearance of the Caspian Tern last Friday when the news broke yesterday that it had returned to WWT Llanelli, it was a no brainer - a flexi day was called for.

The birds appearances looked to be tide dependant, or certainly it was more likely to turn up when the tide was in. With todays tides at 3 am and 10 to 4 this afternoon, and I needed to be back in Cardiff for 6pm, I decided on an early start to see if I could connect with the Tern before it headed out into the estuary. The stumbling block was that the centre doesn't open until late in the morning (09:30). But I had a cunning plan.

Arriving at 7am I made my way along the coastal footpath to a slight rise that provides a view, or sorts, over some of the British Steel scrapes. The first birds noted were the 3 Spoonbills, busy feeding, but no sign of the tern. After about half an hour the Tern flew into view before dropping down and was only just visible through the grasses and rushes. It soon moved an offered good, albeit distance views. Unfortunately a Peregrine dashed through putting everything up and the tern was lost to view.

Eventually the centre opened and I made my way to the Millennium wetlands were the tern was soon found flying around.  A quick dive, and it resurfaced with a sizeable fish in its bill, which it proceeded to swallow whole in flight whilst avoiding the harrassing Black-headed Gulls, and then it headed off out onto the estuary.

I wandered round the reserve, picking up a few bits and pieces, 3 Four-barred Longhorns were nice finds as well as my first Orange-spot Piercers

I eventually ended up in the British Steel hide around 1pm, which contained a number of birders desperate for a sighting of the tern. Suddenly it was there resting with the Black-headed Gulls and we enjoyed prolonged views for at least 30 minutes. It was then off to the cafe for a celebratory coffee and cake - Wher's Mr Gaze when you need him? (probably on holiday again).

                                                           The Tern
                                          Four-barred Longhorn
                                          July Highflier (?)
                                          Southern Hawker
                                          Yarrow Plume

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Third Time Lucky

After dipping on the Caspian Tern on Sunday at Kenfig, again on Monday at Llanelli and not having the confidence to go on Tuesday Mr Bevan and myself decided to have another go at it this morning.

Arriving as the WWT Llanelli was opening we quickly made our way to the British Steel Hide to hear that it had been there but had flown away. Within a couple of seconds of that being said someone shouted it's still here. Relief all round. Soon we were treated to great scope views and it finally flew a little closer, had a snooze, flew closer again and then flew off over the trees. No tunnocks available but custard doughnuts were a good substitute.

Also really good numbers of breeding plumage Med. Gulls around.

We wandered over to the Welsh Water Hide and then the Peter Scott Hide where we were treated to the Caspian coming in and trying to fish but getting mobbed and then chased off by the Black Headed Gulls.