Sunday, 30 March 2014

A Climbing Day

Martin Bevan and myself decided to go to Craig Cerrig Gleisaid this morning to look for Ring Ouzels. We arrived at about 7.30 ( both of us remembered to put the clocks forward ) to a lovely fine but chilly morning.  As we reached the quarry we could hear two Ring Ouzels calling but try as we might could not get any sight of them.  We moved further up into the quarry with the same result, one was calling close right in front of us but was definitely in stealth mode.  The temperature was now warming up or was that the coffee and I managed to get one in a short flight, noted where it landed but with two scopes trained on that area no more was seen of the bird. Martin then said that he was happy to have heard them and was confident he would see them in the Cynon Valley in the autumn.

We then decided to climb up to Site A to see if we could find some Red Grouse.  Nothing really of note on the climb until we got to the bog at the top and stopped for a cuppa and Martin found 2 Golden Plover on the edge of the bog which after a few minutes flew right over our heads.  Another Golden Plover was seen flying in and yet another half way across the bog.  We walked over to the bog and located 2 Red Grouse straight away so we decided to cover tracks and leave not to disturb the birds.

On the way down we saw a group of 4 Buzzards and a flock of Corvids hassling a Sparrow Hawk right above them.  A little further down in the other direction we had a Goshawk, Buzzard and Red Kite in the same binoculars view using the same thermal !!!!

On the way home we thought we would stop off at Cwm Cadlan and when we were having another cuppa our first Wheatear of the year popped up quite close to us.

Spring has sprung

After a couple of weeks when my coaching took precedent, it was nice to get out birding today. A wander round Mill Road, Coed Cefn-fforest, Parc Taf Bargoed and up over Craig Fargoed. Highlights were at least 6 singing Blackcaps - all in sub-song. A pair of Stock Dove were new for CCF, as were a couple of Common/Field Voles. Parc Taf Bargoed was quite wildlife wise as there was a Universities canoe polo competition on, though 6 Canada Geese on the upper lake was of note.

No sign of the Little Owls in the Elm they frequented this time last year. Nor any sign of Ring Ouzel or Wheatear yet.

Plenty of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock's and 3 male Brimstones. I had a white flit past but couldn't get anything on it to get it down to species level.


Little ringed plover[2] this a.m. are my earliest record at this site (27/03/12 at Llwyn-onn). Also present an adult male merlin perched near north west corner atop small spoil tip, curlew[4] with goldeneye[4] being the last of the winter wildfowl.

New for garden

Record shots of the best in the garden trap last night was, what I believe to be, Zelleria hepariella which apparently is the 3rd record for the square ME having recorded the others.

Monday, 24 March 2014

First Sand Martin

One Sand Martin seen today in Hirwaun flying east and saying god it's cold. I also found this Small Tort and I think he was thinking the same.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Couple of shots from my Garden.

 These are a couple of shots from my garden and has time goes on I think they will get better. This little green box is my new home which I only paid eight pounds for and add a bit of sticky back plastic and bobs your uncle.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Splash of colour along the river bank

 It was great to see Wood Anemone out and loads of it too and still some Celandine out. I also found this Long Tailed Tit nest couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Tad different

It was strange to see my first Frog tadpoles on Sunday as only two weeks earlier I saw my first Frog spawn. These Toads were in Abernant on the same day and there were hundreds in a pond. Also this is my first hoverfly of the year, the name is Tachina Ursina and it is a tachind fly just in case rob wanted to know.They Id it on facebook on the uk Hoverfly site.

Monday, 17 March 2014

A pair of GB's at Llwyn-onn this morning with a pair of displaying great crested grebe at the north end, not much else about, WeBS typically quiet.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Pwll Waun Cynon

I paid a short visit to Pwll Waun Cynon nature reserve around midday and amongst other things, was pleased to see a pair of teal and a pair of kingfishers on the river, both firsts for the year. A singing chiff chaff was also a first for the year and a welcome sound.
Butterflies abounded, particularly Small Tortoiseshell, of which I saw around a dozen, plus 4 Peacocks, 2 Brimstone and 1 comma.
While there I measured the girth of the large ash tree in the part of the reserve to the west of the railway line. I measured it just above the flare of the root buttress so as to get as true a measurement as possible and the girth (circumference) at that point is 4525mm. That's nearly fifteen feet! I have tried and failed to use the forestry commission's method of calculating a tree's age, but using the usual 2.5cm of girth per year rule of thumb, that makes it around 180 years old, which doesn't seem that much for something that size.

Catching up....

A bit of a catch up of the past few days.

Drove over to Tenby on Thursday to catch up with the Great Spotted Cuckoo, that Phil and Rob had gone for the previous day (and dipping on the celebratory Tunnock in the process). A wander over the headland also produced a pair of Chough and a close in Red-throated Diver.

Yesterday I looked round Swansea Bay before coaching duties but neither the Eiders nor the Ring-billed Gulls were to be seen. Following coaching I decided I couldn't face watching my team take a kicking, so decided to bird Whiteford point. I might have been better watching the rugby as the birding was pretty slow. Highlights was probably a flock of 13 Crossbills, the biggest flock I've seen in Glamorgan for well over a year, that took off from the pines closest to Cwm Ivy. I had at least 3 earlier, inc a very big bright male, in the pines closest to the point. Waders were poor, with only Curlew and Oyks in any number. No Redshank, Knot, Ringed Plover, Sanderling or Snipe!. Wildfowl, were even worse with only 52 Eider, 2 R-b Mergs, about 100 Shelduck and 300+ Brents.

This mornings WeBS was typically quiet for March.

This afternoon I did the first of the Heronry visits. Only 7 confirmed nests and 3 probables is typical for this point in the cycle. As the chicks hatch and demand food, more nests will no doubt be confirmed.

I did score well with Butterflies today, with 20+ Small Tortoiseshells, 4 Peacocks, a male Brimstone and 2 Green Hairsteaks.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

My first Tree Bumble Bee of the year

This shot is from last year and the Bee was in Penywaun today feeding  on Pieris. The moth is from last year any ideas .Seen up the Bod.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Good Day for butterflies.

 With it warming up pretty fast today butterflies appeared in good number with Small Tortoiseshell seen in double figures also good numbers of Peacocks. Brimstone a butterfly which I usual have a problem  seeing in the valley were out in good numbers with about ten seen and all males. Also me and Phil found this Buff Tailed Bumble Bee sunning itself.

Sign with a difference

I saw this sign and I thought it was funny .

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Pwll Waun Cynon

Decided to get out and about quite early this morning and have a leisurely stroll around Pwll Waun Cynon.  The weather was quite misty with some very fine rain drops which made visibility not good at all, in fact could only see probably half way up the hills on either side.

I managed to get 20 species in just over an hour which included Blue Tit x 3, Great Tit x 2, Robin x 4, Carrion Crow x 2, Greylag Goose x 2, Wood Pigeon x 1, Coot x 3, Teal x 7, Mallard x 7, Song Thrush x 1, Herring Gull x 7 (flying up the valley, when walking back to Mountain Ash 6 flew down the valley), Little Grebe x 1, Wren x 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker x 2, Grey Heron x 1, Goldcrest x1, Blackbird x 1 and Long Tailed Tits x 4.

I also found these feathers behind the lake, any ideas.

This photo was taken earlier in the week and don't panic Martin it was not taken in the Cynon Valley, you haven't missed a year tick for the valley

Friday, 7 March 2014

A day of firsts for the year.

 A little bit of sunshine and heat and everything comes to life. These two shots are from last year. In Abercwmboi today I had my first butterflies of the year, which were three Small Tortoiseshell and I beat Phil to a male Brimstone Butterfly also my first Harlequin Ladybird coming out of a crack in the path. I also saw two Bumble Bees, one was a Buff Tailed Bumble Bee and the second was too fast for me but I think it come out of the roof, so may be a Tree Bumble Bee who knows, they will be seen shortly and the last first was in Robertstown it was a Pipistrelle Bat Flying around the tops of the tree.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Any Ideas

Yes I know it,s a moth. I found it last summer up behind Tower Colliery in Hirwaun. So Mark or Mike let me know.

Valley tick or not

The back bird was present for years and the new bird was dropped of last year. Sadly the long stayer has gone. What are your thoughts on the geese.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

My First Frog Spawn of 2014

 I found a lot of Frog Spawn up Penderyn  today, the Daffodils and Snowdrops are on the River Cynon in Robertstown also the bracket fungus .The Finches in my garden shot though glass and hopefully better to come.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Raven Report and Stuff

It's the beginning of the month again and time for a raven count. I'd planned to do it Sunday morning, but the promised fine start followed by rain later, had by yesterday evening become rain from dawn. The problem with today was the forecast of fog and when I got to the roost at 05:30, there was a thin but worrying hill fog and above that a layer of Altocumulus stradiformis cloud. Thankfully, after ten minutes or so, the fog cleared and although it threatened a return to couple of times, it didn't affect the count.
I always treasure the peace and relative quiet of the time spent waiting for the ravens to start flying out and this morning I spent it looking at the stars visible through gaps in the diminishing cloud layer. A bright light that suddenly appeared on the S.East horizon had me wondering for a moment, before I realised it was the planet Venus, just risen. An encouraging sight after such a dark and stormy winter was the 'Summer Triangle' made up of the bright stars Deneb, in the tail of the constellation Cygnus, Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila. After skies dominated by the constellation that epitomises winter; Orion, the sight of the Summer Triangle was a reminder that better (hopefully) things are on their way.

The ravens started flying at 06:10 and the first few were heard not seen, so any that didn't call went uncounted, though I doubt I missed more than one or two. While counting there were two Stonechats calling constantly nearby and a single Woodcock flew past, close by.

The count was all over by 07:00 and the total was a very respectable (for March) 167. In fact, it was the largest ever March total for the roost, as can be seen in the chart below.

I returned to the car cold but relieved to have successfully done the raven count for the month.

Incidentally, for those wondering how this winter's rainfall compares with other recent ones locally, the chart below shows all the winters since I started keeping rainfall records.