Monday, 30 March 2015

Astun Ski Resort

Astun Ski Resort was very quiet for birds, the main highlight were the Alpine Choughs. They came to Peters Pasties which were thrown quite close to us.

Butterflies from the Pyrenees

With the weather and temperature so up and down we had problems finding Butterflies and lots were seen when travelling to the mountains which looked like Large and Small Whites. A stop at a garage got us a dozen Speckled Woods. For me the best butterfly of the trip was a Large Tortoiseshell which was a great surprise and a welcome tick found at Valdiello Dam, the only one of the trip. Also at at this site I had a fly though Hummingbird Hawk Moth which was the only sighting of the five day trip. Also seen were Small Tortoiseshell at Villanua Quarry and a Bergers Clouded Yellow "we think" and at Riglos we got a couple of Wall Browns.We also got lots of Green Striped Whites on the plains at EI Planeron which is the Duponts Lark site. Last of all was a Painted Lady at Llobregat Delta.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Pyrennes Record Shots

Griffon Vulture
 Alpine Chough
 Alpine Chough
 Black Bellied Dipper
 Black Bellied Dipper
 Crested Tit
 Rock Bunting
 Crested Lark

 Tree Sparrow
Alpine Swift

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Early news

Just a quick update from the famous five's current trip to the Pyrenees.
We arrived fresh and ready yesterday (Tuesday) and after checking into our accommodation we made our way to the Valdiello Dam area. Not long after arriving an adult Lammergeier was found circling with the Griffon and Egyptian Vultures. This was quickly followed with the finding of a Wallcreeper on the dam wall. Both key species found within 20 minutes on day one - it was Tunnock time!
day 2 was not quite so good. A visit to Astun ski resort only managed Alpine Chough - no Snow Finch, no Alpine Accentor!. then over to Gabardito in the Hencho valley, where Crossbill, Hawfinch, Yellowhammer, Marsh Tit and Hen Harrier were added to the trip list, but no Black Woodpecker or Citril Finch. However at least 5 Golden Eagle and 6+ Lammergeier ensured quality on the rapture front.   

Monday, 16 March 2015

Out of County - just!

Just back from a flying visit to Lugano, Switzerland where I managed a 45 minutes stroll round the lakeside park early morning, sans bins. highlights were 3 Blackcap (inc 2 singing males), a singing Firecrest, Crag Martin, Italian Sparrow and Hooded Crow.
I hadn't noticed previously, but the Hooded Crows can sound very different to Carrion Crows. They both have a similar "caw" call, but the Hoodies also included a dry rattling call similar to that of a Magpie and a couple of other calls that sounded very different from anything I've heard from Carrion Crows.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Llan Wood, Cosmeston and Cardiff Bay

Martin Bevan and myself decided to nip over to Llan Wood near Pontypridd and have a look for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. As is the case when you go looking for such a bird you dip frequently and today was no exception. In fact the wood was very quiet overall today.

Martin then suggested we go down to Cosmeston and have a gander at the Lesser Scaup. The bird was found straight away at a distance about the same as the Little Bunting at Forest Farm, 2 yards away. Walking around we found at least 9 Chiffchaffs, observed a Great Crested Grebe catching quite a big fish, two Mute Swans having one hell of a fight right in front of us and also
 Lesser Scaup
 Great Crested Grebe with fish
 Great Crested Grebes displaying
 Various Black Headed Gulls

 Mute Swans fighting

had a chat with Cliff Woodhead.

We then decamped to Cardiff Bay to look for the Little Gull and the Bonaparte's Gull. Walking in we met Alex Bevan who told us there had been no sign of either. We had a quick chat, he gave us a quick run down of his Ethiopia trip. Sounded really good. No sign of either gull for us either, it did not help as neither of us had a scope as we had not planned on going there today.

We then went over to the other side of the bay to look for Black Redstarts. We parked and walked down through the houses with no luck. Over onto the barrage where we bumped into Gareth Jenkins who was also looking for the gulls and was also dipping. We had another chat and then walked back where a local birder had just found a female Black Redstart so saving our trip.

Friday, 13 March 2015


Down in darkest Dorset for a week and on Wednesday I visited Tadnoll and Winfrith Heath nature reserve, to get Dartford Warbler. I had hardly set foot on the reserve, when I noticed a piece of dead blackthorn branch which had been broken off and was lying on the floor. On it appeared to be a couple of tiny yellowy orange fuzzy lichens and even before I picked it up for a closer look, I guessed what I had found: Teleschistes chrysophthalmus, or Golden-eye Lichen.

Golden-eye Lichen. It looks imposing, but the plant in the photo is actually no larger than my fingernail.

I phoned the offices of Dorset Wildlife Trust, who's reserve it is, to ask if it was on the reserve species list. It wasn't and I was asked if I could provide a photo, which I emailed through to them. They passed it on to the bloke in the local records centre, who deals with Lichens and it was accepted as the seventh or eighth record of the species in Dorset.

I was chuffed to get a reserve first and also to actually see the thing in the flesh, as I still haven't had the chance to see the ones in the country park yet.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Woodpeckers and other Birds at Forest Farm

I phoned Martin Bevan this morning and told him that I had a problem, I had pasties and chocolate cake which needed to be eaten. He said I will be down in half hour !!!

So 30 mins later we were on our way in Forest Farm to see the Little Bunting (yet again) and since it was raining hang around the hides to see what else turned up.

We then decided to go down to Lamby and Rhymney, neither of us could remember the last time we went there. Only bird of note seen was a Med Gull on Lamby Lake.

Below are a few record shots.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Reed Bunting
Blue Tit
Little Bunting
Great Tit
Black Headed Gull
Black Headed Gull and below Mediterranean Gull

More Bees About

I saw Buff Tailed Bumble Bee this week in Cwmbach and my first Tree Bumble Bee of 2015.
 They are always great to see and shows spring is truly on the way .
There was also a couple of Small Tortoisehell butterflies about, I saw two Thurday and also this week the Harlequin Ladybirds are starting to reappear, I saw eight yesterday in Cwmbach, I think that there are going to be loads more shortly