Monday, 18 September 2017

Just a figment of our collective imagination

It's 5am on Sunday morning and I'm standing at Fiddlers Elbow in the damp mist waiting to be picked up by Phil for a day trip to Weymouth and Portland. 10 past and the phone goes off, who's slept in? No sign of Mr Bevan. Phil is trying to reach him. 20 minutes later and the phone goes again, Bevan has surfaced, Phil will pick me up and then we'll pick up sleepy head. So about an hour later than planned, we set of for the south coast.

The rest of the journey went without hitch until we reached the outskirts of Weymouth, to find that a triathlon was taking place that morning and a number of roads would be closed. We hoped access to Lodmoor would be OK. Alas not, the triathlon was based at Lodmoor. We eventually managed to park in Weymouth, about a kilometer from Lodmoor, and wandered through the crowd to the RSPB reserve, hoping that the Least Sandpiper had the decency to stay put for another day.
Fortunately it didn't take long to catch up with this micro wader - a British tick for all three of us - ably put onto the bird by Kevin Hughes, who had managed to beat us down (he didn't have to wait for anyone else to drag themselves out of their pit). Unfortunately the Stilt Sand' had decided to hop it the previous day.
                                           a poor record shot of the peep

From Lodmoor we headed over to Portland, to see what, if anything, was passing through. The short answer - nothing! so we joined Kevin waiting for the long staying Wryneck to put in an appearance in the Obs quarry. After about 20 mins I picked the bird up as it hunted through the long grass and we all enjoyed good views for some time before we decided to leave it be.

From there we walked over to Southwell to try for the Hoopoe that's been hanging around for a while. It took a while, and we just making moves to leave, when it popped up onto a bare snag, a nice year tick for myself and the second this year for both Martin and Phil.

If the start of the journey was delayed, the delays on the return trip started as we approached the bridge tolls. We did, however, find out why Bevan slept in as his alarm went off at 4pm - clearly he was still in Cuba time.

Thursday, 14 September 2017


Swift hawking insects with House Martins over the River Cynon at Mountain Ash at 13.55 for 10 minutes. Unfortunately I did not have binoculars with me to get a closer look given the time of year.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Wandered the pool margins today hoping for a blow-in but just the ruff of any interest, found by Ceri yesterday. Thanks to Tom for letting me know, bird flushed from southwest bank, flew to west point and disappeared into the rush. The dunlin is from the the 11th again at west point.

Starry, starry night....

A wander round the local woods this evening produced my first records of Collared Earthstar Geastrum triplex for this site, and my home 1km square. A total of 4 individuals was located.

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to join the Glamorgan Fungo Group foray to Coed Gelli Draws, just outside Pontpridd. An enjoyable morning wandering around produced some nice fungi, but possible the best find of the day was whilst waiting for everyone to assemble I noticed a gall growing on a Dogwood leaf. A couple of photo's and a bit of research suggests this is a gall caused by the larva of a fly Craneiobia corni. According to Aderyn, there is one one previous record in Wales - from Monmouthshire. The gall takes the form of a red - darkening to purple knob on the upper leaf, whilst on the underside the gall looks more like a green flask.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


[Dunlin May 2016] The Nant Llesg appeal process, apparently, is about to kick off, as such can all birders who have visited the area in the last 5 years please hang on to all note books and images and have / make  them available, if necessary, for forensic analysis. Also both butterfly and dragonfly species, not noted during the RPS(*) managed ecological surveys,  have recently been photographed and recorded, as such can all naturalists who have visited the area in the last 5 years please hang on to all note books and images and have / make  them available, if necessary, for forensic analysis. 
(*) RPS if you can ever forget, the chap in charge, stated in not 1 but 2 public meetings that the only birds using Rhaslas were, and I quote, "seagulls". He was pulled by a member of the public, who unknown to him happened to be an ecologist. At the next meeting he repeated the statement, he was again pulled by a member of the public, another ecologist. 
It's sad that the character most admired by the people I love and know is integrity, while it is the character most detested by both those who govern us and their mealy mouthed underlings.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Garden Tick

Saturday afternoon provided a first for my garden a Sparrowhawk which is quite surprising as I have lots of small birds using the feeders. I did not actual see the dastardly deed so I am not sure what he was having for dinner, plenty of young Siskins, Goldfinches and Sparrows around so they would be favourites. Photos had to taken through the kitchen window. Note to oneself clean windows.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Caddisfly from Hell

Yesterday morning I took a walk up the Taff trail to Pont-y-Gwaith bridge and back (Yes, I know Pont is Welsh for bridge so don't really need to repeat it in the name). Birdlife was quite quiet, though a Kingfisher flashed past several times. At the bridge I watched the Elms for a while in the forelone hope that there might be a late White-letter Hairsteak still on the wing. Unfortunately the only butterfly on show was Speckled Wood.
My attention, however, was drawn to numerous Cadisflies "hunting" over the leaves. On closer inspection these proved to be quite distinctive, rather reminiscent on a "devil" profile. Luckily they were also easy to identify as Mystacides azurea. 
I was hoping for a bit of a mushroom fest, but they proved to be rather thin on the ground. The best were several Chanterelle's - all a bit munched.
 Mystacides azurea, Typical ventral view, showing red eyes, dark cape and the black "horns". On closer inspection the "horns" are enlarged pedipalps which the males were sweeping across the leaf surface, presumably search for the females scent (as below)

The best of what was left of the Chanterelle's.

For today's jaunt, the original plan was a trip to Whiteford sands on the Gower, but late new of a probable Icky Warb at Peterstone Great Wharf, saw my self and Phil go for an early morning dip. 5 fly over Yellow Wagtails and a fly by Whimbrel were about the best we could manage, and just as we were leaving two Sparrowhawks flew into a nearby tree - a male and a female. Both were juvenile birds, so presumably siblings.
On returning home, it was just a little too late to head down to the Gower as the traffic would have been building up so I decided to wander round Craig Evan Layshon Common for the first time in a few years. Bird wise the highlight was a pair of Wheatear and a pair of Kestrels. I managed to connect with Heather Collete's bees, but strangely the only one's I could find were in the old quarry, with none on the heather elsewhere.I did managed to pick up a couple of new spiders, the common ground spider Drassodes cupreus and the rather smartly marked Steatoda phalerata, and a new leaf beetle, Sermylassa halensis.
                                           Drassodes cupreus 
                                            Steatoda phalerata

                                           Sermylassa halensis