Sunday, 28 May 2017

Nant Hir

I visited the Tir Mawr y Dderi Hir SSSI today and was chuffed to see my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, right by the Nant Hir.
The damp grassland at the north of the SSSI had loads of the large and striking froghopper Cercopis vulnerata.

Earlier in the visit, while trying to photograph this spectacular Cardinal Beetle, I discovered that my macro lens has developed a serious fault and will only focus between 30 and 70cm. Happy days!

The Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Ruby tailed Wasp

I was working in Brynifor today near Mountain Ash. It was a very hot day and I was working on a house where I saw a Ruby Tail last year and if by magic one appeared, it showed briefly and it's a sight I am never  tired of seeing with the Blue and  Red metallic colours.  It is amazing and a must see for anyone with a  bucket list. Also the Cuckoo up on Darrenlas was very vocal and called a fair bit today.

This photo is from last year and down in Martin's Haven in Pembrokeshire.


Martin Bevan and myself went up to Llanwonno last night to look for Nightjars. We arrived in lots of time and took a walk around the forest paths. Plenty of activity with Stonechats feeding chicks out of the nest, Willow Warblers carrying food and best of all Martin had a Grasshopper Warbler.

As we were looking for the Grasshopper Warbler the unmistakable churring sound of a Nightjar sounded to our left. We walked slowly that way and we were soon treated to a male Nightjar flying around and then perching on top of a tree. Another bird started calling and we then had a aerial display with the two males chasing each other. One landed in a closer tree and the noise intensity increased with the closer male getting louder and louder in what appeared to be an effort to force the other male off its terrority. Walking back to the car we had lots more aerial displays with wing clapping and we also heard at least two if not three more. Martin also heard another Grasshopper Warbler calling.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Nice surprise from Penywaun

Photo not from Penywaun,  on Monday I had a teneral Broad Bodied Chaser flying over the gardens. A first for the year and also the first one I have seen here. Yesterday I looked up to see a Cuckoo flying over the estate, it's been years since I saw one up here, later it was calling a fair bit away on the hill side.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Taf Bargoed north

Managed a record shot of pied flycatcher this a.m. singing, foraging and preening in oak alongside feeder stream of a very silted upper reaches of the Taf Bargoed. Also noted on the way in; a pair of linnet, the female collecting nesting material while the male looked on together with a pair of stonechat all holding territory on / near the same small patch of gorse. Oh, lots and lots and lots of fly-tipping, its traditional apparently.

Abercwmboi Lake

A quick visit before work yesterday to see if the local Mute Swans had had their new family yet. It's all quiet and she is sitting tight, he came over for some food but sadly I had no food. I got two more Damselflies for the valley. I had a couple Blue Tails and the same numbers of  Azure Damselflies. I also had half dozen Dingy Skippers, it's always nice to see the first for the year. I also got a single Burnet Companion moth but he was too fast for me so no photos.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Skomer 2017

Phil and myself had planned a day trip down to West Wales on Sunday morning and were hoping the Red Footed Falcon at Strumble Head would still be around unfortunately it did not play ball and on disappeared Saturday morning. So with little notice we decided to still go west and go over to Skomer for the day, after having a great trip last year it seemed a good choice. We were up at stupid o'clock again, the weather forecast was looking really good and we made good time. When we arrived we were the second car in the car park and it was always looking good to get on the first boat over. Martin's Haven was buzzing with life and has we stood waiting for office to open we saw and heard Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Stonechat and Linnet. On the sea it was busy with loads of gulls, a couple of Gannets and Kittiwakes, this was a taste of things to come. On the boat trip over we had a group of feeding Gannets, when we looked close there was two Harbour Porpoises feeding on the same fish and we also got all three Auks before we had  landed. Once on dry land the fun started and we got great views of Razorbills and Guillemot on the rocks by the landing point. Once we had our safety talk with the Assistant Warden about staying on the path we were gone like a flash to the Wick too look for Puffins. When we got to the first stream there were lots of warblers feeding, we got a Chiffchaff and both Sedge warbler and Whitethroat. As soon as we reached the Wick the Puffin fest started. There were not as many Puffins around as last year (we went later and there were Puffins feeding chicks then). It felt like the Puffins were trying to cross the path but seemed reluctant when people were about. We stepped lower down the path where a Puffin come within two feet of me and crossed over and it was like watching the Great Escape. The noise and smell of the seabird colony was brilliant, we got close views of Fulmars over the cliff and the Kittiwakes were flying from inland with mud and grass and were busy building nest on the cliff face. We than decided to leave the Puffins in peace and carry on walking where we could see a Chough feeding down the path.  We saw good numbers of Chough this year, probably in double figures.

We finally found a bench and a much need coffee was had. A Herring gull was in attendance waiting for food and he seemed to rule the roost and chased off two Lesser Black Backed Gulls. The colour of the flowers was outstanding and was like someone had gone crazy with a paint brush.

Over the sea I picked up a large brown bird and at first glance I thought Bonxie but on looking closer it was a Common Buzzard, it flew low over the water and started to go out to sea and then turned and started coming back and did this for some time. I think he was looking for injured Auks and shows you can still see new things every time you go out. Next up were two Peregrine Falcons which looked like two young males from last year and were have a bit of a disagreement having at one point locked talons. A little later we saw a Female Peregrine so they were maybe fighting over her.
Phil was on the ball and found the only Short Eared Owl of the day. It was funny to see apart from two other people who were watching the owl the rest were just walking and not looking up at all.
It's staggering to think there is an estimated three hundred and twenty thousands pairs of Manx Shearwaters on Skomer and forty five thousand pairs on the neighbouring island of Skokholm, more here than anywhere else in the world and just to think they end up as gull food. We saw a good dozen corpses over the island and it makes you think how many are killed in a season.
We only saw one Butterfly species and it was Small Copper and we had about dozen in total.
We saw lots of Wrens and for a small bird what a cracking song.
We found two spotted Flycatchers near the vistors centre, a nice bird for the year list .
As we walked along I spotted this bird poo, I thought staight away looks like goose but we were not near any water I started thinking maybe not but maybe something better but just has we went around the corner we found the culprit and it was a Canada Goose .
When it was time to leave we saw four Barrel Jellyfish, they were a fair size and enough to feed a fulmar for a year. It was nice to see live ones as they were on the news last week saying there had been high numbers washed up on welsh beaches. For the day we mangered 43 species but there were lots of birds we had last year but not this year ,