Sunday, 4 November 2018

Best bird seen in Cornwall.

The two Martin's and myself found this corker of a bird on our recent trip down to Cornwall. Best bird of the today was the common consensus. We did wonder however if Mike had been down before us !!!!!!.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018


Found at 13:30 hours yesterday on lower spillway,  bird feeding on sunless dark side when found. As usual constantly bickering with pied and grey wagtail. It's the earliest I've had water pipit at Llwyn-onn the previous being 15th November 2011.

Rhaslas: slow and cold with single goldeneye present since 26th. No jack snipe for 2nd October in succession.

A little bit from last weekend

Saturday afternoon after work I needed a walk, after looking online and seen Phil had done his Willow Tit survey I thought better late than never and I went down to Tirfounder fields north to do my survey and I thought as I am here I will have a quick look over Phil's survey. It was fairly quiet and has I walked up the River Cynon I was amazed how much bramble had been flattened by the water levels from the storm the week before. It must have been not far off one big lake and would have been a great sight to see. There was plastic in almost every bush and it looked a right sight, I know the sea is having problems with plastic waste and it's happening a bit close to home and I think the valleys are turning into a dirt hole. Back to my survey and stop checking someone else's, my square had some birds and has I got to the canal I noticed this female duck with the Mallard and on looking closer I could see it was Phil's Gadwall from Peace Park and it just goes to show he does tell the truth sometimes. Has I walked along the Canal I heard a single note, I stopped dead and listened and out popped a single Willow Tit. It was feeding with a tit flock and give fairly good views for a short time before disappearing and not seen again. Job done.
When I was in work on Saturday I was talking to an old friend and he travels to Llanwrtyd Wells to work in the week along the the Penderyn road the A4059. Last week he had the Short eared Owl just over the border with Powys, also a Barn Owl in Glamorgan also a male Hen Harrier. So Sunday  morning I was up bright and early and went up all to have a look for myself. The road was fairly quiet I had a couple of Red Kites and one was level with car and was giving brilliant views and I just happened to glance in the the mirror and a white van was right on bumper, if I want to go at 25 miles hour I will especially as the road was empty. Sadly no sign of any of the birds and each time I jumped out of the car the wind was biting. So never one to give up I went up Cwm Cadlan and tried there, has I got to the top farm there was birds everywhere. I got my first Fieldfare of the autumn, there was easily three hundred Fieldfare and about two hundred Starlings also smaller numbers of Redwing. I also had a Kestrel and Common Buzzard. Has I watched the birds a car came over the top and down the hill and I thought who's this and has he passed I noticed he was walking/driving his dog for a walk. I thought I know it's cold but what a lazy git. He got to the cattle grid and turned around and went back and he did this about three times, there are some strange people in the countryside. I thought time to move and has I got to the top of the Cadlan  I would stop and give it one more go and out of nowwhere a male Hen Harrier came fairly close and was hunting low over the mountain. It's one of those birds it does not matter how many times you see there them they are cracking.

Next stop was to Site A to look for Red Grouse, a place I have not been to this year. I was lucky the sun was out to warm me up a bit for my long walk. Has I got closer I spotted a hill walker in front and I heard a short burst of Go Back Go Back and I thought things are looking up and boy was I wrong. The site was very quiet, I found some old droppings and a small mount of new poo but the heather is really low, I think with the sheep grazing and there has been a fire there the grouse had no chance. It was the first time in a long time I had failed to find any Grouse. A place I have enjoyed going over the years but I came off feeling sick and why do we need so many bloody sheep. Last thing I also went for a walk when I got home and I go my Otter tick for the year, I had a family party of three and it put the smile back on my face.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Cool for Cat(bird)

The boys were getting restless, they hadn't had a tick.
Those that were around, were to far to far to twitch.

Then came word from Cornwall, of a mega Yankee dude.
To pass on this British tick, would be just plainly rude.

So an early start was waiting, and they drove down through the mist.
The trip was almost a disaster, when the parking place they missed.

They soon recalibrated, and parked in the right field
and waited for the mist to lift, to see what was revealed.

A tense and nervous waiting game, came as no surprise
as the gathering crowd waited, for the Sun to arise.

A shout went out, followed by a scramble to the right
scanning of the bush tops,and then it was in sight.

A small grey bird, with brick red vent and neat black cap,
and we all knew that it was cool to be a cat.

Dare Valley

I spent a few hours in Dare Valley country park, this afternoon. I was mainly looking for fungi, but they were pretty scarce for some reason.
I came upon this immature slime mould, a piece of which I have collected, in the hope of rearing it on to maturity.

On a rotten Alder log was  an attractive grey discomycete, which is probably one of the Mollisia and on another log, a pink/purple one, which is probably an Ascocoryne Sp.

Nearby, I found what I at first took to be a colony of old and knackered slime mould bodies, but as I focussed the camera on them, I wondered why they had multiple stems, then realised that they were mites, all happily munching away of whatever that fungus is.

Finally- and there is no photo to accompany this- I went up to the upper viewing platform and after several minutes a Buzzard flew up of the ground onto the top of a Hawthorn tree, around 100 metres up the hill above the platform. After a couple of minutes, it flew off and almost immediately, a small flock of mixed thrushes flew into it and amongst them were at least three adult male Ring Ouzels. I crept up the slope, to halve the distance, so I could make sure (I only had my 8x32 bins) and for a while lost sight of the tree. When I found it again, there wasn't a thrush to be seen, but after around 15 minutes, two Ring Ouzels flew up off the ground into it, closely followed by the third, giving me good views. There may have been others there, but time was getting on and I felt I had done all I could without a scope, so I left. I thought I wasn't going to have RZ this year, so I was well pleased.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Morlais Castle south

Couple of distant record shots of what appears to be a 1st winter male this morning as it passed through the southern end of Morlais Castle, accessed from the Pontsarn Road. The last 2 mornings have held plenty of birds with c70 redwing through yesterday plus a resident foraging mixed tit flock, occasional comma and small copper leps and noon flies all enjoying the sun on the hawthorn, its been a pleasure. 

Rhaslas has been quiet with; gadwall [3] on the 15th, a single pintail on the 1st, tufted [23] highest count but varies, wigeon [6] and the occasional passage wheatear.

Garw Nant; some sensitive coppice work just south of car park, unless they just stopped for dinner, revealed good mixed foraging flock, including good views of willow tit, earlier in the month.

Gethin slopes; usual stuff with my first redwing feeding on hawthorn on the 9th.

Best of the garden; lunar underwing was a garden tick on the 5th, annual visit of merveille du jour on the 11th and at last an Ichneumon fly I could identify to species level, black slip wasp on next doors wall, yes! Also male hen harrier noted on/in what was once a regular winter locality.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Callum's little present

Would Storm Callum have any affect on this months WeBS? The only way to find out was to do the count and see.
The short answer was No. Mallard numbers remained high at 114, plus the 4 Gemima's, slightly down on last months record count of 126. No Teal as yet, will it return for another winter? Little Grebe numbers are starting to build with 14. The Coots looked to have moved on.
There was a big surprise on the return leg as a juvenile Great Crested Grebe appeared - I'm not aware of any previous recorded of this species at this site. So maybe Callum did drop me a present.

Plenty of fungi on show. The pick was three blue mushrooms - they look to be Peppery Roundheads Stropharia pseudocyanea, but need to look more closely under the microscope.

 in situ - not really looking that blue in the photo - looked better in real life.
at home - looking a bit more bluer