Wednesday, 31 December 2014

jews ears

 this is growing in tir founder fields on a goat willow and first for me.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Last chance saloon

Taking advantage of the forecast good weather and a decent time of high tide, myself, and Messrs Bevan and Hill took a trip to the Gower, starting with a visit to Whiteford Burrows. On the walk out, at least a dozen Snipe and one, possibly two, Jack Snipe were flushed, 3 Chiffies flitting around the bushed and a small flock af at least 8 Reed Buntings were the highlights. From the hide (though watching from outside) the Red-necked Grebe, that had been found a couple of days earlier further up the estuary, was found, though distant, whilst a couple of Slav' Grebes were closer.

The walk over towards the lighthouse, found us "surrounded" by 100's of Earthtongue fungi, probably Geoglossum cookeanum

From Whiteford it was over to Port Eynon, with a quick visit to Overton where the three Woodlark soon revealed themselves. On the rock at the point, Purple Sandpipers were soon found, plus a Red-throated Diver out in the bay. Whilst Phill and Martin Bevan were off trying to get photo's of the Purple Sand's , I picked up a distant Skua. Unfortunately, I couldn't get enough on it to confirm the species - one that got away!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Fungus in Robertstown

Velvet Shank

Collared Earthstar present.

Still loads of Jews about .

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I know there not mushroom on here.

 I found these today in Robertstown . Collared Earthstar. Only these what I could see.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Trip around the Beacons

Martin Bevan and myself heading north this morning to our first stop at Langorse Lake to try and locate the Lesser Scaup with the red saddle marker on it's bill. We pulled up at Llangasty and saw dozens of wildfowl in front of us and even more Canada Geese. Most common duck seemed to be Goldeneye the males looking stunning in the low sunlight, with lesser numbers of Tufties, Mallard, Widgeon and Gadwall. Also quite a few Great Crested Grebes. No sign of the Lesser Scaup though.

We decided to walk over to the hide and have a scan from there. Lots of Bullfinches in the hedges, quite a few Goldcrest, one tree was drooping with Blue Tits, Mistle Thrushes in the fields and the other usual suspects were present in the woodland.

On getting to the hide coffee and pasties were in order to keep the cold out and Martin duly warmed found the Lesser Scaup in his scope near the far bank. I must admit it's the only duck I have seen which has a beak which nearly matches Matt Evans. A Cetti Warbler was heard outside the hide but it did not take pity on us and refused to show itself. Lots of splashing was heard in the reeds and we wondered if the otter was around. Guess we will never know. Andy King arrived at the hide and told us to keep an eye out on the way back as he thought he had seen a female Red Crested Pochard fly in but again we did not have any luck there. Martin did however hear a sneeze and there right in front of us was a Marsh Tit.

Next stop was Llwyn Onn to try and see the two Great Northern Divers. Only one was found although we did not search the whole reservoir. Tufites and a Pochard were also present.

It was then over to the Lower Neuadd Reservoir to try and find the Great Grey Shrike that Mike had found. To say that the weather here was inclement would be an understatement. I think we had everything from sun to snow with a bitter wind as we walked towards the reservoir. We actually ended up walking to the Upper Neuadd which was a new site for both of us. Not really much to report bird wise just a Kestrel and Buzzard and like any other self respecting Shrike this one was out of the bad weather in cover somewhere.

Jack it up

After coaching in Swansea on Saturday morning, I decided to head over to Overton to see if I could catch up with the Wood Larks or Rosefinch that had been in the area recently. Neither the larks nor the Boringfinch were evident, but a Partridge was a bit of a surprise - unfortunately I couldn't get onto it to id to species level, but there was a report of four Grey's a few days ago, and given the scarcity of any Partridge spp in the area, it's prob a good bet it was a Grey.

Walking over to Port Enyon, there was little on the sea - no divers, no grebes. A few Guillemots (some already in breeding plumage) and a single Razorbill were founf flying back and fore. A drake Eider in the bay was the highlight of the day.

On to Sunday and a trip down to Goldcliffe, etc. Big numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing were very much in evidence with numerous individuals seeming to fly out of virtually every bush. Highlights included 2 Spot' Red's, 2 Greenshanks and 2 Peregrines, with a distant Marsh Harrier seen hunting over the Boat Lane marsh. Uskmouth, was almost birdless, saved by the winter thrushes in the hedgerows.

It was then a visit to Rumney Great Wharf. It's prob about 2 years since I was last there, at what used to be one of my local patches when I lived in Cardiff. Highlights were 2 Jack Snipes, one of which allowed good flight views, as it flew around me. 8 Common Snipe were flushed,  - if I had had my wellies, that number would surely be much greater. Two female Peregrines had a bit of a set too, with the mate of one egging them on from a safe distance.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

There's Gold in Them, There Hills!

Poking around Daranlas (the rock feature, not the village) this afternoon, I decided to have a close look at the deep clefts in between the various boulders and outcrops, from which it is formed.
When I shone my torch into one of the deep, dark clefts, I was startled and delighted to see a glint of gold shining back at me, but the cleft was to narrow to allow me in, even to get a decent photo. Encouraged, I hunted around the other clefts and in a really narrow one (50mm), I found more, but this was closer to the entrance, so I was able to get this photo.

It is a moss, called Schistostega pennata (Goblin's Gold) and it exists in two stages: the fronds, which can be seen towards the top of the image, dull green and a sort of green fuzz, called protonema, which in this species has large cells, which are shaped in such a way as to reflect light like cats eyes, giving it a golden green tint as it does so. It is always found in really dark, fairly dry holes, such as animal burrows, usually in sandy soil.
George Tordoff found it a few months ago, under a sandstone outcrop, at Cnwc, above Troedyrhiw, which is why I was looking for it. I think this is the fourth
record of it in Glamorgan.

If you go prospecting for this particular gold, be aware that all that glitters isn't Goblin's Gold. There are a couple of common leafy liverworts which live in similar situations and if they have beads of moisture on their leaves, will reflect torchlight back, with a silvery, golden green colour.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Valley waxcaps

 Meadow waxcap,
 Earh tongues

 Looks like Scarlet Waxcap and Black Bulgar.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

patch tick

Picked up a long overdue tick for Coed Cefn-fforest this morning. In a large flock of Chaffinch (100+) that were well spread out, I managed to pick up three different Bramblings - an adult male, a first winter male and a female. The whole flock were very flighty, but not surprising as a male Sparrowhawk had just taken one for it's brunch and the remains of a fresh Gos woodpigeon kill - the blood was still liquid - was close by.
A Gos was seen later (the same bird?) over the common. These have been scarce/very shy over the past 18months or so, so good to get a visual.
Not long after I had some fly over Crossbills, heading towards Coed Merthyr Vale.  These follow 6 seen on Friday at Letti Turner.Like the Gos, Crossbills have been thin on the ground for the past 18 months, so perhaps numbers are building again.

Friday, 28 November 2014

It's not all rough out there

Not long back from my summer holiday (?) in Norfolk. Mixed weather, mixed birding, but a nice trip all the same. Totaled 117 species but managed to dip Spot Red'; White-front; Red-necked Grebe, Snow (no surprises there then!) and Lap buntings, Firecrest, Golden Pheasant. No Redpolls of any description either. First bird was a Tawny Owl hooting as I arrived at my first nights digs. Last bird, a quartering Short-eared Owl at Holme BO.
Highlights on Monday was a adult winter Sandwich Tern on the beach at Titchwell, followed a Chinese Water Deer. Then later two Rough Legged Buzzards at Burnham Overy Marsh. Tuesday's highlights from Holkham was the car starting first time, the drake Surf Scoter, another look at one of the Rough-legged Buzzards, a Black-throated Diver and a distant Barn Owl.
Wednesday, saw a change in the weather to almost constant rain for the morning, which saw me under the shelter at Cley beach for several hours seawatch. Highlight, although frustrating, was a distant Tern (the Sandwich from Monday?) that I couldn't get enough on to firm up the id to species level. The only auks that could be id'd were Guillemots, though two heading away from me looked smaller!
Thursday was my last day and back to Titchwell where 2 Black-throated Divers were offshore and a Long-tailed Duck flew past. A male Hen Harrier was seen distantly (but no Marsh Harriers seen at all on the day!). I then drove the short distance to Thornham harbour and the wintering flock of Twite were seen found and some excellent scope views obtained before I walked round to Holme Dunes/Bird Observatory, looking for Snow Buntings - up to 60 had been in the area over the previous couple of days - so surely even I could fine them - Nope! no sign all day (only to find they had moved to Holkham).
A nice break with an avian and a mammal tick and my year list eventually getting over the 200 mark (now up at dizzying heights of 213).

Friday, 21 November 2014

Another Four

 Great Thrush
 Sparkling Violetear
 Red Headed Barbet
Pale Naped Brush Finch

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Llwyn-on and Cwm Cadlan

Thanks go to Mike for confirming that the GND were still at Llwyn-on, so having finished a job early in the afternoon, I nipped over and saw one of them, the other not being in view while I was there.
On my way back, via Cwm Cadlan, I stopped for a while, about a hudred yards short of the cattle grid, near Blaen Cadlan Uchaf farm. There was a male Stonechat in the rough pasture and snipe was heard giving its alarm call, but not seen. In the fields near the farm, there were redwing and fieldfare, while over the moorland beyond, a pair of red kites, then a pair of buzzards. I was on the verge of leaving, when I saw the thrushes go up and saw something moving over the field in front of them, but before I could get the bins on it, it had disappeared. I waited another ten minutes or so and there it was again, much closer: a lovely ring-tail (my first hen harrier of the year), which then went on to give me great views, before working its way up onto the moorland to the north and disappearing over the horizon.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Top Trumph's

Seedsnipe + young

(unfortunately not taken by myself but by another participant on my trip to Ecuador in 2004 Mike Galtry)

Monday, 17 November 2014

A Few More Photos from Ecuador

 Who's a hungry boy then. Crimson Rumped Toucanet,
 Flame Faced Tanagers feeding
 Rufous Bellied Seedsnipe at 4300 metres altitude.
Bronzy Inca

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tripe Yesterday, Poison Today.

A free afternoon, yesterday, so I walked up to Gwaun Helen, the area of forestry above Cwmbach and Cefnpennar. I had nothing in mind, which was just as well, because apart from four crossbill, a kestrel and the odd raven, I saw next to nothing, as far as birds were concerned.
On a rock face up there, the large, distinctive lichen called Rock Tripe (Lassalia pustulata) was drying out after the overnight rain, showing the difference in appearance of the moist and wet states really well.

Rock Tripe. The dry, pale state at the top,
the moist, green state at the bottom

It is regarded as a survival food and I have tried some, out of curiosity. The texture is somewhere between overcooked omelette and inner tube, while the taste isn't! A true survival food in that you would only eat it if the alternative is never eating anything again.

This morning I found myself in the upper reaches of Cwm Cadlan, hoping for hen harrier, maybe, but having a pretty lean time of it, bird-wise. Just after Martin had passed my car (I saw you slowing down to admire it), I heard a wader of some sort, calling, but I couldn't identify the call, neither could I locate the bird.
I wondered whether to check Garw Nant for shrike or check the res, but had an urge to go to Llyn Fach instead, so not knowing that there were GND on Llwyn-on, I headed for there. Parking by the entrance to Tower forest, I checked the sallows below for Cobalt Crust and finding some on a dead sallow twig.
I walked in, along the main forest ride, which is being improved in readiness for the lorries that will be bringing in the sections of the wind turbines. Some bullfinches were calling in the sallows closer to Tower colliery and a charm of around twenty goldfinches flew out of conifers. Little else was seen, apart from a couple of woodcock and a flock of fourteen crossbills, in the spruce trees, on the morains, below Llyn Fach.
Checking the seed heads of the purple moorgrass, as I walked in and at Llyn Fach, I found quite a lot of the fruiting bodies of the deadly fungus Ergot (Claviceps purpurea). I have also seen it in the seed heads of Cock's-foot grass, but it is when it grows in the seed heads of cereal crops that it gets ground up with the flour and eaten by humans, leading to a potentially deadly form of poisoning, called ergotism.

According to Roger Phillips' 'Mushrooms', it is deadly poisonous, with symptoms including burning pains and gangrene in the limbs, or hallucinations and psychosis, usually leading to death.

Just as I was leaving lovely Llyn Fach, the rain started and I had a wet hour's walk back to the car.

Just for Starters Antpittas not Antipasti

Just a few photos to start from the trip to Ecuador for Mike and myself.  Yellow Bellied, Giant, Ochre Breasted, Chestnut Crowned, White Bellied and Tawny Antpittas.