Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Aberdare Park

I was stir crazy in the house with it being wet again so I decided to have a walk around the park and see if there any Fly Agaric this year. Like last year there was no sign of any. Last year I thought it was maybe the fact they had cut the grass later and they had mowed them but it seemed strange as the year before there was over two hundred Fly Agaric and none since. There seems to be lots of new signs in the park, looking very smart too.

When I was looking for fungus I noticed these two Carrion Crows and when the one turned around I saw it had white flight feathers on the one side. I remember having a Willow Tit in the garden with the same flight feathers on one side and also having a white tail too.

I was wondering if maybe this Blackbird is belonging to the one I get with a white head at the top of my street.
 Lots of busy Squirrels burying their stash of nuts for the winter.
There was about dozen Chaffinchs and two or three Goldfinch feeding on the floor under the bushes also 52 Canada Geese and two Greylags with them and over the lake / pond there was good numbers of House Martin and Swallows also a single Sand Martin.
 The only fungus of note was there as the rest had turned to mush.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Twitching in the rain, we're twitching in the rain...

Rain was forecast, and rain it did. It was however dry when Phil, Martin and myself headed off to Pembrokeshire to twitch the Baird's Sandpipers. The forecast rain was in evidence before we arrived to find we were the first birders on site. We gradually made away along the path to the roosting waders favourate spot picking up numerous Curlew, Oystercatchers and Rock Pipits. The rain was passing through in light showers, but we could find no sign of any small waders except 4 Ringed Plover. A distant Spot Redshank was noted on the back pools before other birders picked up the Calidrids and close views of the Baird's was had in the company of 5 Dunlin and a Turnstone. The second Baird's reportedly was seen, but we couldn't find it. By this time the rain was getting harder and more persistent, so we called time and made our way back to the car to decide on our next course of action.

By the time we got back to the car we resembled drowned rats, so rather than hang around for a coffee and celebratory Tunnock's, we set of, if only to take advantage of the car heater to dry out and warm up. The next stop would be WWT Llanelli.

Arriving at Llanelli, we quickly made our way to the British Steel hide. The hide was quite busy, but most birds were hunkered down in the rain and wind. A Common Sandpiper and a surprising LRP were perhaps the top birds found, though the Pintail was the first returning bird for this coming winter. Whilst we were keeping dry in the hide both Phil and myself managed to sort out our Whatsapp connection to the local birders group.

After a bit of lunch and not a lot of bird action, we set off home, only to receive a message via Whatsapp that the Pec Sand, that had been found at WWT a couple of days ago and not seen since, had re-appeared. As we were approaching Gowerton, we turned round and headed back to WWT. On entering the Observatory hide we were greeted by the fateful news - you should have been here 2 mins ago, it's just been flushed by a Sparrowhawk! Despite much searching by a number of birders, the Pec (or was it a Sharp-tailed?) was never refound. No doubt it will re-emerge over the next couple of days.

Sorry no Photo's as the weather was to bad to get the cameras out!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Bits and Bobs from Saturday

 When I was working in Abercwmboi today I found this moth on a customers wall and on looking in the book the closest I could find was Large Ranunculus which I think is a new moth for me.S o I posted on Facebook just in case its not and Del Monte say yes. I asked my customer first if it was ok to take a photo and they said what you like moths but when I showed her the moth she seemed surprised how smart it was.
 Next up I finished work and I decided to go back up to Bryn Du above Llwydcoed and no sooner had I got in the forest I found this Southern Hawker and it was a quick scramble to change the lens before it took off again but I got two photos before it did and what a cracker it was. I also saw two others and a single Common Darter .
Lep wise it was pretty quite and it was nice to see there were still Sliver Y's about. I also saw a single Small Heath and a Fox Moth Caterpillar but I could not decide if it had ticks on it or some kind of Parasite and but in the end thought it was grass seed.

I have not had time to Id the fungus but there were loads of them and I just liked the colour. I did a full loop of the forest but it was dead and by the time I finished I was cream crackered and it will be long time before I do it again.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Give me a Brown Field Site any day

After work today I had an hour to spare so I nipped over to Abercwmboi lake for a walk. I was having a look around some of the Silver Birch for Fly Agaric when I came across this fairly large group of Round Leaved Wintergreen and it just shows it does not matter how many times you go to a site there always new stuff to be found. This is the largest group of this plant I have found and at first I thought it was Common Wintergreen but it was only when I noticed the flowers shape I realised what it was.

 Also very near the flowers was a freshly killed  jay and I think the local Sparrowhawks have been busy .
The Mute Swans are back up to nine again. The two cobs from Tirfounder fields were back on site and whey being chased around the lake by the Boss swan.
 I also found a single Blue Tailed Damselfly, sorry for bad photo but it was blowing a bit also a very smart Common Darter and you cannot beat chilling out after work.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018


Called in this morning at 10:30, bit miffed at missing/not picking out yesterdays dunlin, but manage 3 today [can you see no 3 ?] 2/3 the way along west point. If they are dozing in among the sandstone they can be really easy to miss because they don't flush until you try to pick one up to throw at something.
The image above was taken a bit later when one of them decided to unwind. I also called in at 15:00 hours to pick up a dead bird and as I scanned, from the road west of Rhaslas, a dog walker flushed a wader, fast flight, gained height rapidly and flew west into the wind, probable greenshank. Not much else going on; tufted up to 9, teal between 3 and 7, wigeon just 1 several days ago which appears to have gone through, I keep missing most of the gulls. Hmm, I wasn't going to mention this but here goes, I had what I now consider to be an aberrant mipit through the ex rail cutting/tip on the 3rd, there are quite a few meadow pipit going through at the moment c20 - 60 noted when I visit the ex tip, but this is still the only bird I've noted with such bold almost white mantle stripes [since Lesbos], ho hum almost dropped my hip flask. The clincher for id juveniles is on the call apparently, oh bugger.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Sunday outing

Sunday morning myself and Phil decided to try our luck at sea watching from Porthcawl's Irongate Pointand with the high tide being early we set off at a reasonable time of 6.30. On the way down the Neath Valley we noticed how high the tide was, the salt marsh by Neath Abbey was under water and it looked like the paddy fields we saw in Thailand. On arriving at Porthcawl we had a quick check of the gulls at Salt Lake car park, there were good numbers there but sadly no rung birds. Next stop was to set up for our big watch at Irongate Point, on getting there we could see three figures standing in our spot and straight away we thought we should have come earlier. Walking over it was nice to see that it was Paul Parsons, Dean Mceachen and a young lad called Tate Lloyd. It's nice to see young so keen and very sharp and he's got the making of being a great birder in years to come and dare I say it he could be as good has our very own Mike Hogan. Right back to the birding and sea watching, we had just missed a distant Skua going down channel but not long after we had three more Skuas and apart from one they were all a fair distant out, there were two Arctic Skuas and the third one was a good candidate for a Pom Skua and only if it could have been a little bit closer. There was also a couple of  Gannets about, I saw at least four going down channel, we also had three Common Scoters and some terns which turned out to be be two Sandwich and one Common. As the tide started dropping it got quieter and we thought time to go and do some bush bashing at Kenfig Pools. On the way we stopped for a minutes at West Drive park to check the Gulls once more and we got on to a couple of Med Gulls straight away and eventually found six in total. They were mostly adults in winter plumage and there was one first winter bird. Also  there were a good mixed flock of  Black Headed gulls, Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls. We also noticed one Herring Gull was missing part of its leg from the knee down, this bird must be finding it hard to find food. Just as we were about to leave I thought I better count the Turnstones as well and just as I got onto the last bird they all took to the air and a male Peregrine appeared from nowhere and singled out one Turnstone and chased it low over sea and just at the last minutes the Turnstone broke away and escaped. It was brilliant to watch the chase and see them escape.
Kenfig pool was very quiet and  there were more dragonflies and butterflies than birds. We saw double figures of both Common Darter and Migrant Hawker and it was great to find this mating pair in the iris beds and we got really close views of these brilliant Dragonflies. Butterfly wise we saw big numbers of Speckled Wood and a single Meadow Brown. On the pool there were a couple of Coot and Mallard and a single female Tufted duck, I have never seen it so quiet. I bet the WEBS count was very quick this time. One of my best friends said I needed therapy and I should see the doctor  just because two Mute Swans took off and I checked them for rings and with this so called friend I shared my first mince pies of the autumn, the cheek of it and next time we go I will say nothing about my precious rings pmsl.

We did go down to Sker point and it looked really good, the tide was way out and you could see the mussel beds and there were Gulls and Oystercatchers everywhere. The beach was very busy with dog walkers and people walking and at this point I think we were both cream cracked. We had a look for Autumn Ladys Tresses and we found a small amount of this very tiny flower, they are so easy to over look. Next stop was to look for the Yellow Wagtails at Sker Farm which Dave Carrington told us about and as he said they were with the Welsh Black Cattle and when we got the right field we got them straight away. We had about six birds right under the cattle also about half a dozen Curlew. On the walk back up towards the farm we had a really big flock of Starlings, we checked for any pale birds in the flock but sadly no luck. They landed on a blackberry bush and it was covered and it reminded me of the big freeze again when I had that big flock in my garden. The Sker flock must have easy been 500 strong and a great sight to finish the day off.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

A Couple More

All day, in work, yesterday, I was seeing mixed Hirundine flocks around and was keeping my eyes and ears peeled for late Swifts, as Martin had had, a couple of days ago.

I had no luck until late in the afternoon, while mowing in Hirwaun. I had just stopped the mower to empty the grass box and as I was bent over it, I heard a Swift scream. Looking up, there was a mixed flock of Martins and Swallows milling about overhead and jinking through them a single Swift. I watched it ascent above the flock and join a second one, a little to the east. I watched them drifting south until they were out of sight: made my day, that did.

For those who have seen it on Facebook, apologies for repeating myself here. A fortnight ago, I found a nest of European Hornets in an old woodpecker's nest, on private land, in Penderyn. I was up there to cut their grass again today, so I took my camera and got there early, so that I could get a few shots before starting work.

The entrance to te nest was very busy, despite the low temperatures, but I closed in with my camera and began to fire away. I had taken half a dozen and was about to take more, when I was stung on my right forearm, making me involuntarily drop my camera. As I quickly moved away to assess the situation, I pushed up the sleeve of my fleece and was stung on the elbow, by the same individual, who had obviously crawled up my sleeve and was pretty miffed at being disturbed. It must have then escaped, leaving me with two burning stings and a broken ring flash.