Thursday, 29 January 2015

Where's Mike's Ecuador Photos ? - More from Phil Instead!!!!

 Golden Tanager
 Papallacta lake
 Inca or Green Jay
 Powerful Woodpecker
 Three Striped Warbler
 Mountain Wren
Don't know the name of this flower

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Few Bits & Pieces

 Grey Squirrel
 Meadow Pipit
 Cirl Bunting
 Fungi at Garwnant
 Little Grebe
Redhead Goosander looking for prey

Monday, 26 January 2015

Healthy Sunday walk

When Phil was looking for the shrike I was in match stick lichen heaven.

 Dare Valley country park ,one of the six Little Grebe present.
 nice pair of Goosanders

 This flock is going up slowly but I am still waiting for the Pochard to turn up .

This little beauty was taking a bath .

The Famous Grouse

Starting out on a quite pleasant Sunday morning at 8 o'clock Martin Bevan and myself decided to use up some calories and climb up to Site A and look for Red Grouse. The first part of the walk was really strange walking uphill through a clear fell area rather than looking up into the tops of trees for the local residents. It is really hard to take in how much the valleys have been changed recently by the all the felling of the forestry. For people of our ages who have never known anything different the landscape can look quite alien and I found it quite fascinating to see the contours of the hills much clearer.

Not a lot seen on the first part of the walk up to the stile Crossbills being the highlight. Over the stile and up on to the moor and the slow walk upwards. Never mind soon we would be looking at pipits, buntings, larks and raptors. Three quarters of the way up to the bog we hadn't seen a bird!!. Then a Meadow Pipit came up right in front of us, Martin followed that I happened to glance over to the left and two Red Grouse came up and flew around the ridge in front of us and out of view. We both commented that we had never seen them this low. We walked on just to the top where Martin spotted 2 Red Grouse about 30 metres in front of us near the path. They stayed for awhile then flew over near the bog in the distance. We decided not to disturb them anymore by walking through the bog and return back down the path to the stile where we would have a cuppa.

Back at the stile we had a nice healthy birders breakfast of pork pie, chocolate cake and coffee!! Lots more Crossbills and some siskins were observed. Walking back down our first raptor was found a Buzzard. So not a lot seen but we had our target bird the grouse.

Plan B was then to go to Garwnant and see if we could connect with the Great Grey Shrike having failed to find our own for this winter. Walking up to the clear fell south of the visitors centre only thing of note was a large flock of various tits. No sign of the Shrike from the main road so we took a path up the middle of the clear fell and walked up to the fence at the far side. I turned around looked at tree which we had walked past and there was the Shrike. It then flew to our right and out of sight so we walked back to the road and followed in its general direction. No sign so we decided to walk back to the centre and look for Willow Tit. Walking past that tree again and there was the Shrike again, I'm sure they can transport themselves through some unknown medium.

The walk back failed to turn up Willow Tit so we decided to have a quick look on the top end of Llwyn-Onn reservoir. Birds seen included 9 Tufties, drake Pochard, and a Dipper on the platform near the hide.

Plan C was then to drive over Cwm Cadlan and to have a quick look at Sub-Station pond in Hirwaun. We stopped for another cuppa by the cattle grid in Cwm Cadlan where Martin gave me his last Bakewell ( see previous report ).

Sub-Station pond produced 2 Goosanders, 7 Wigeon, 5 Teal, Mallards, Moorhens and Coots. A local Peregrine was also frightening the local Starling flock. Not bad for a little pond on the edge of an industrial estate.

We decided to finish off in Dare Valley Country Park. Nothing out of the ordinary here species wise but it was nice watching the Little Grebes fishing, they were very close to having a 100% success rate in catching their small prey. Another new behaviour for me was the two Goosanders swimming around with their heads under the water and when seeing something they liked the look of they would dive. Goosanders I've watched before usual just dive and spend some time swimming under water looking for prey.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The lone Shriker

A visit to Garwnant this morning before heading down to Swansea to coach saw little in the way of birds. The GGS was back on its favoured posts from previous years - south of the Visitors Center. Aside from that 2 Foxes and a small party of 10+ Goldcrests were the only other notable sightings.

My first hoverfly of the year -a Marmalade Fly, Episyrphus balteatus, decided to check me out while I was having a coffee break in Swansea around midday.

The day finished with a drive by twitch for the two Mute Swans at Cyfarthfa Lake - a Merthyr tick for me.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Just for Phil

I read this and thought of you

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Dodgy Blackbird

I found this Blackbird last Sunday at the top of my street, I have got to get a better shot of it.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


Nice walk on Sunday up to the cairn and back. I found these Snipe tracks and also got good views of the female ringtail and a Red kite.  Also of note was a female Kestrel. There was still meadow pipits by the quarry and the Peregrine and Raven were both back on their territories. There was no sign of the hares or any winter thrushes . It was great to see the snow capped mountains in the distance and it felt like I was in training for our next holiday to the Pyrenees. I also stopped by this swallow hole for a coffee break  and had to eat both of these Cherry Bakewells .

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Kingfisher day

A long walk up over Merthyr common and back down Cwm Bargoed today didn't produce many species. I started, and finished with trying to locate a Brambling in the Chaffinch flock at Edwardsville, to no avail. Cwm Bargoed produced a small flock of about 20 Lesser Redpoll, and a Woodcock, whilst overhead a pair of Raven displayed and defending their territory from the resident Buzzards and Red Kite.

At Parc Taf Bargoed the wintering Water Rail showed well, allowing me to grab a couple of record shots (there always seemed to be twig in the road). A drake Teal was a surprise on the lakes (only my second record of the species here) whilst the Kingfisher gave a fly past.

I'm doing the Patchwork Challenge (Green division) this year covering Mill Road, Parc Taf Bargoed and Coed Cefn Fforest. 3 visits in and I'm on the grand total of 43 species. Over the last 9 yrs I've recorded a total of 86 species for these sites, so I'm 50% of the way to that total.

Friday, 9 January 2015

First Butterfly of the year

I saw a Small Torteshell Butterfly yesterday in Cwmbach  also a bee. The weather's gone crazy and what will be next .

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Bit of fungus in the valley

 Elf Cup sp

 Artist fungus. I was also told if you scratch the white it will go black and is a good way of telling if it is artist fungus.

Cefnglas Tunnel

On Sunday, as part of our annual survey of hibernating moths, Mike and I visited Cefnglas tunnel. It was getting dark by the time we got there and dark by the time we got out.
A total of 65 Herald moths were recorded and while in there, we met this genial old soul, guarding his box of treasure.

Not having time to photograph him, at the time, I nipped back down there this morning, then on my way back to the car I found some Cobalt Crust growing on a cluster of dead twigs, including Larch.

Cobalt Crust growing on dead Bramble and Larch.

This is the first time I have ever come across it growing on coniferous wood and I haven't seen any reference to it doing so anywhere.