Thursday, 26 February 2015

Rhaslas Hen Harrier

Ringtail again into roost this evening, settled by 17:40, same location as 2012/2013 male. Paul Davies was on the bird when I arrived. I love it when nature is victor over assumptions dressed up as science.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Forest Farm

Quick visit to Forest Farm on Monday for first light and sat in the Kingfisher hide in the dark waiting for the Kingfisher to turn up but sadly no sign, got nice views of a fox but it was to dark for photo. All that was present were two Moorhen, two Mallard and a Grey Heron. I went on to the feeding station outside the other hide but it was very quiet and on looking closer I could see there was very little food out so the birds I so were in low numbers . There was about three Reed Buntings and the Little Buunting was present but it keep it's distant. There was three Grey Heron in the field. I was about to leave when there was a heavy hailstone shower so I sat tight for 5 minutes and boy did it come down. On walking back to the car had nice views of a female Sparrowhawk flying over. The road was now covered in hailstone so I had good fun getting out of there .

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ecuador, Mike's First Photo

Mike has finally released a photo from our trip to Ecuador in November. It's a photo of Mike, myself and Alejandro Solano our guide just below the Papallacta Pass.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Spectacled Bear

Just received this very distant photo of the Spectacled Bear which Mike and myself were lucky to see in Ecuador last November. Many thanks to Neil Davidson from Glasgow for the photo.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Bit more of the 4 Waterfalls Walk

 this is behind Sgwd y Eira waterfall.

 Sgwdy Pannwr Falls
 Found this behind waterfall Green Alga.
 been told this is ice forming on Dead Wood .
 Birch Polypore .

4 Waterfalls Walk Fom Penderyn

Martin Bevan and myself decided to try and find the waterfalls near Penderyn having failed once before. This time armed with written directions there was no problem apart from one wrong turning. Bird wise very quiet a pair of Dippers probably the highlight.
However at the second waterfall on the walk we had a shock when Martin noticed a Mink down below the waterfall. Typically I had the wrong lens on the camera but a quick change enabled me to get one grab shot.
The walk itself was just under 7 miles in total with three steep climbs with a lot of steps up from the waterfalls. Weather was good when we started out cold but clear. However this changed and we had constant rain on the return trip both of us were really glad to get back to the car being soaked through.

Weekend round-up

The walk back from the station on Friday evening was enlivened by a bit of a fungi search - at least 6 species found - on the down side, I can only id 3 of them Elfcup (probably Scarlet, but no microscope so can't rule out Ruby), Velvet Shank and King Alfred's Cakes.

Saturday morning saw me down at Ogmore by Sea for the early high tide. 7 Purple Sand's the highlight. The river around Portobello was v high - covering the saltmarsh on both sides of the river. The Water Pipit was found opposite Portobello. I followed this with a walk up to Norton, then returning via Pant Norton. Around Norton almost all Elder's were sprouting Jelly Ears. a flock of at least 7 Yellowhamers, inc 2 bright yellow males, were feeding in the fields just off the top of the Pant.

Taking advantage of the cold, but dry weather this morning I walked up to Parc Penallta via Cwm Malfon (Fidlers elbow to Nelson). A surprise was a Woodcock whilst walking along Cwm Malfon. A quick check of the former rookery in Nelson showed two nests but no Rooks - Is the colony now extinct? there was up to 6 pairs when I last checked , in 2013. By the time I reached Parc Penallta, the rain had arrived. Birding was slow but did manage to pick up a pair of Wilow Tit at Nelson Bog.

 Jelly Ear
 King Alfred's Cakes
 Scarlet? Elfcup
Velvet Shank

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Spring Flower

Spring flowers are starting to appear and are always great to see. I found this Lesser Celandine in Robertstown .

 Lords and Ladys are starting to show themselves as well.
Found this flower two week ago in a garden in Abercwmboi but did not like to take a photo in someone's garden so found this one today in Robertstown today. It is ColtsFoot and great to see.

 Snowdrops in Robertstown as well .

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Sunday Trip out

 This cock Pheasant was at Goldcliff and very tame, so tame in fact that a group of school kids stopped for a selfie with  him,          

 Stonechat Goldcliff
 The Nuthatch's at Forest Farm were brilliant and great to watch

 This Little Bunting is still pulling the crowds in
There was a good choice of Reed Bunting at Forest Farm as well

Monday, 16 February 2015


Sat morning did Ogmore and Kenfig on the way to coaching. Couldn't locate the Water Pipit at Ogmore, but the Glauc' Gull was still around sker. Iolo's parakeet was very vocal in Singleton Park during the afternoon, though was difficult to see. 
A pre-game visit to CCF on Sunday morning and I eventually managed to pick up one of the Brambling in the Chaffinch flock. The Curlew have already returned to the Bedlinog area as a male could be heard singing off in the distance. Patchwork Challenge list now up to 49 species / 50 points.
Wisely booking today off work to recover from the excessive libations whilst watching my bravehearts loose narrowly (Apparently 8 units - 4 pints - in a 24 hr period is binge drinking!!!!!), meant this afternoon I was able to do my first check of the local Heronry - This initial watch located 6 occupied nests - this will no doubt increase as the chicks hatch and they clearly highlight the nest localities. On the walk back, by Cefn fforest farm I heard some Crossbills fly over into the trees. Looking up, I noticed one appeared to show a white wing bar. Working through the birds - male Common, female Common, female Common, male Common, where are the other two. I can hear them. move a bit to change my line of sight, Dam, 3 have flown. landed, right on the tops of some trees further back. Male, Common, female Common, male - got it a wing-bar!. Unfortunately it was only a narrow single wing bar, so no Two-barred, just a Common, but it got the heart going for a bit.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Forest Farm

Martin Bevan and myself went back down to Forest Farm to have another look at the Little Bunting and meet up with Rob. Arriving about 7.30 we found the hide empty apart from one other insomniac.

The Little Bunting was in it's usual place about 2 yards outside the hide. After giving it some quality time we went into the smaller room and had an hour photographing the birds around the feeders.

We then moved over to the other hide but no Kingfishers today but two confiding Snipe were nice.

It was then back to the other hide to meet Rob who had two year ticks with him Mark Dutfield and Matt Evans.

After swapping insults we left the latecomers and went to Uskmouth and Goldcliff. Nothing unusual seen but two year ticks in Merlin and Cetti's Warbler.

Friday, 13 February 2015

To Help Rob Get Out of Cars


Myself and Deb (The Boss) decided to escape the winter gloom and treat ourselves to a week in Costa Teguise, Lanzarote. After a short flight we were soon on our way to the hotel, birds seen en route were Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Southern Grey Shrike, Collared Dove and Yellow legged Gulls. After booking into the hotel a quick walk to the beach produced Kestrel, Linnets, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Turnstone, Little Egret and Spanish Sparrows. For those who are not aware Houbara Bustard has eluded me on two previous trips to the Canaries so it had to be third time lucky surely? I had booked a trip with Lanzarote Active Club prior to coming on holiday so on our third day we were picked up at 8.00am by Carmen Ernest in her Land Rover and after picking up two Dutch birders we were soon on our way to the desert of Soo. First birds seen were Berthelot's Pipits then several Lesser Short Toed Larks (or rocks as Phil calls them) then after approximately half an hour I spotted the holy grail of "chickeny things" a Houbara Bustard!!!!, well to say I was happy was an understatement as the lads in all fairness have never once mentioned me dipping previously! A further two hours of searching produced another five Houbara's, several Cattle Egrets, two Southern Grey Shrikes, five Raven and a few Linnets. Carmen said this area is normally good for Coursers and Stone Curlew but none were seen on this trip. After a fantastic lunch at a local restaurant washed down with a few glasses of wine we then drove to the south of the island to Janubio saltflats where we picked up Avocet, Redshank, Greenshank, Black winged Stilt(30+), two pairs of Ruddy Shelduck and an incredible (24) Black necked Grebe. It was my first time in a Land Rover which had a quite impressive ground clearance with one step before getting into the vehicle, no problem all day getting in and out until returning to the hotel I missed the step completely and found myself sprawled on the pavement much to the amusement of several people stood outside reception! Carmen had mentioned during the day that the beach area in Arrecife was a good place for birds so we visited this area twice picking up Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Sandwich Tern, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Black headed Gull, Whimbrel and at least 300 Yellow legged Gull, on the way back to the bus we also saw Cattle Egret(10), Chiffchaff and a Southern Grey Shrike. The remainder of the holiday I just birded around the hotel and beach not picking up any new birds, final total for the week was (33) species and four bruises.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Pen y Fan

Last Sunday myself and Phil thought we would get in training for the Pyrenees. So we took lots of healthy snacks and did the long walk up to the top. Bird wise very quiet with just two pairs of Ravens and a couple of Carrion Crows and that was it .

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Phew; What a Scorcher!

Taking advantage of a gorgeous day, I finally got around to visiting a site I have meant to look at for ages. My main reason for going to Craig Fforchaman, above the village of Glynhafod, was to look for mosses; in particular Goblin Gold, having found another site for it, at Tarren y Bwllfa on Saturday. Walking from where I parked, on the Maerdy mountain, I skirted a conifer plantation, in which I could hear Crossbills calling, as well as Robin, Redpoll  and Siskin, while out on the sheep pasture, there were three Mistle Thrushes. Dropping down alongside the plantation, which is of Larch, around its edge, I was amazed to see just within it, a plant of Pheasant Berry (Leycesteria formosa) growing happily under the larch. I wonder if it will survive the demise of the larch and replanting with an evergreen conifer species? It was nice to hear Chaffinch and Coal Tit singing. While exploring the landslip and grabben features for mosses, I heard Gos calling in the distance and saw a small party of Meadow Pipits. The sun felt pleasantly warm and there were a few insects flying about, while on some of the larger tumbled boulders, there were hunting male jumping spiders, which are always entertaining to watch close to.

The Zebra (jumping) Spider Salticus scenicus. 

Jumping Spider Salticus scenicus (male) Enjoying the Sunshine

Apart from the mosses, my other reason for going there was to visit the point at which four ordnance survey one hundred kilometre squares (SN, SO, SS and ST) meet. As you can see, it is a featureless place.

Where SN, SO, SS and ST meet.

On the way back I picked up some Snipe feathers, which had been sheared cleanly off, so either a fox kill of scavenged by a fox. A male Kestrel was a lovely sight, as I left.