Saturday, 19 August 2017

Skua's in the bag

With a rare Saturday free from coaching duties and a favourable forecast I made a late decision to head over to Strumble Head for my first seawatch of the year, picking up 11 British year ticks. Arriving bright and early, about 4:50am, I was first into the shelter, but it didn't take long before others arrived, including two who had traveled down from Liverpool for the day. As dawn broke the birding began. A couple of minutes into it and I picked up 3 Storm Petrels heading past, unfortuately no one else was able to get onto these, or the next two I picked up about half an hour later. Others were picked through the day though, as usual, I failed to connect with any of these. A bit galling partic' as one was thought for a short while to be minus any white underwing bar.

It was the the turn of the Skua's to put in apearences with strong showings from Bonxies and Arctic's but the single Pom and Long-tailed were enjoyed by all (a second, Adult, Pom was picked up after I left.)

A couple of Balearic Shears looked to be the sum total of the rarer fare until a Sooty was picked up. A Summer plumage Sab's Gull was well watched as it drifted slowly past. Several Sandwich Terns and 2 Little Terns were also nice fillers for the days list.

Away from the birds, up to 4 Sunfish, and up to a dozen Short-beaked Common Dolphins joined the regular Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seals.

Friday, 18 August 2017


Found deceased juvenile brown-long-eared yesterday, you can see how they can be confused with grey long-eared. Bird wise just small numbers of the usual passage birds going through and occasional aged common darters in out of the wind sun traps.

Sunday, 13 August 2017



Mr Bevan of somewhere north of Cardiff, said "I'm disgusted that there are no police available to look into it, so I'm having to do it myself. Is this what I pay my taxes for?" A spokesman for South Wales Constabulary commented that he was unable to comment.

Monday, 7 August 2017


Those of you who are on Facebook will realise that this is a copy and paste from my post there, but I thought I'd post it here too, for those not on FB and I wasn't bloody well going to write it all again!

Up at three on Sunday morning, to do August's raven count. It was dry, mild and calm, so I was hopeful of a comfortable and easy count ... WRONG!As I drove up the valley, I began to encounter patches of valley fog and crossing the high point on my way over to Merthyr, there was hill fog too: Bugger!I was in the car and half way there, so I decided to give it a go anyway. As the ravens usually begin flying out when the pre dawn twilight is still just a glimmer, anything that reduces contrast can make the already difficult to see ravens completely invisible, so as I carried on to the roost, I hoped that they wouldn't start leaving until it was reasonably light.

My counting spot, with a fog shrouded valley behind.

View up the slop towards the roost; somewhere in the fog.
At the roost, the hill fog was patchy and although the temperatures were hovering around 7.50C, there was no breeze and it actually felt quite pleasant as I sat there, marvelling at the complete lack of bird sounds. The only sound, in fact, was the drone of petrol leaf blowers and a road sweeper coming from the centre of Aberdare town, over 1.5 miles away, as the council clear the debris from the Saturday night revels.The fog came and went, thickened and thinned, but was always there, at least in part, so it was with great relief that the ravens did indeed start leaving later, but even so, although I could see some to count, I knew I was missing others. Luckily, ravens have distinctively individual voices, so if all the members of a group are calling as they fly, it is possible to work out how many there are. Obviously, that only works for the ones that call; the the ones that don't, pass invisibly, unheeded and uncounted. I always make the count in the first half of the month, so that no two successive counts are too close together. This weekend was my first chance, but next weekend I will be unavailable, so this was my only chance this month and whatever total I got would have to stand, but qualified by the knowledge that inevitably, some birds would have been missed. As it turned out, I don't think I missed that many (probably no more than a dozen) and the total of 157, although the second lowest August count, actually continues a general downward trend.
It was interesting, while waiting for the ravens to start, to hear the single call of an oystercatcher overhead. Other birds noted were, in order of appearance: Buzzard, Robin, Mallard, Wren, Dunnock, Lesser Redpoll, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, Chiff Chaff, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Wood Pigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Stonechat.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Cwm Cadlan

I have been planning for a couple weeks to go up the Dragonfly ponds near the limestone pavement, I almost got there a couple off weeks ago with Phil but the heavens opened up. Today was hit and miss so I sat in the car and I thought I am here now so go for it. The temperature was not very warm and it was cloudy but has I got halfway up the sun came out for a bit and I thought maybe I will be lucky. When I got to the pond I found a couple of  Emerald Damselflies and a freshly emerged Common Hawker Dragonfly, it was hugging the south bank and down low in the rush but unless I had a small boat or I could walk on water I had no chance of getting any photos. So I sat down for a bit and I found this very wet Drinker Moth Caterpillar and after that things got better and I found another three Common Hawkers, The one I picked up was in area where he was being blown about so I picked it up and put it in a sheltered part to dry out and it does not matter how many times you see this it still gives me a buzz.

I found this larvae in a small flooded on  the side of the pond and I was trying to get close and slow take the grass down in front of it and it just dropped in the water and it was floating on the surface and little did I know there was nobody home and it was empty and the dragonfly had already emerged.

On the limestone Pavement there were Meadow Pipits everywhere and a couple of Skylarks and a single Wheatear and when I got back to the car I had a bird flying low over the floor and fast and I thought cuckoo but on looking closer it was this Sparrowhawk. She must have thought she was in Mountain Mars Bar central with so many Pipits, I also had a fly over Tree Pipit. Down by the cattle grid there was birds everywhere, I saw loads of Stonechat and a couple of young Wheatears and more Pipits .

Friday, 4 August 2017


Quiet couple of days with an oystercatcher flying in at 10:30 this morning, still there when I left at 11:30 trying to impress a traffic cone.

Abercwmboi Lake

I was working in Abercwmboi yesterday and in between showers I nipped over the lake to check how the swans were doing. I could see they were in the far corner with all seven youngster still present and they are looking healthy. As I stood there I could hear a Kingfisher and within seconds I had a blue flash over me. It looked at one point it was about to land but it saw me and went off like a rocket around the corner and out off sight. Has I walked around I found a load of these big fungus and as they are growing under birch I thought its a good chance that they are Brown Birch Boletes. I was also checking the Alder for  Alder Tongue Fungus and I found two trees with it on. I also saw a couple of butterflies which were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, 1 Small Heath, 1 Red Admiral and about a dozen Common Blues but apart from one male they all seemed to be female type. Also present on site I got  two Dragonflies which were Common Darter and a male Southern Hawker.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Still Waiting

Every year I go over to Robertstown north to check on the Collard Earth Star Fungus and I always seem to get there too late and they have already been damaged by the weather or people walking over them and has they grow along the path its easlier done. So this year I have been checking for the last couple of weeks and it was great today to find this one. I know its a bad photo and looks more like a bread roll but it made my day and watch this space .

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Quiet morning, just about to leave, when a single bar-tailed godwit flew in from the north at 08:30, did 3 laps before finally landing on west point. I left when the next shower arrived but by this time the bird had disappeared, also TC had a little ringed plover earlier but I failed to connect.