Thursday, 29 October 2015

Garw nant

I've been laid up with the dreaded warblers neck (your fault Bevan) but hearing that a great grey shrike had been found at RGW I was determined to drag myself away from the fridge (I haven't been drinking just had my head in there) and venture out. Garw nant was very quiet, no foraging flocks except c12 long-tailed tits, everything else in single figures and then, and then! in the Sitka, bordering the north clear fell a grumpy barn owl, the day was made. I checked both clear-fell areas and the Cwm Cadlan road but no shrike. Next was the Neuadd reservoirs, again very quiet and no shrike. Called in at Rhaslas close to dusk hoping for a short-eared owl but no luck, just; wigeon[27] and tufted duck[29].

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Sunday Morning I thought I would go over to Cwm Cadlan and see if there was any winter thrushes up there. It was very quiet and only birds seen were a Mistle Thrush and a female Kestrel. I thought of plan B and decided to drop down to Garwnant and have a look if the Great Grey Shrike was back but had no luck,  even the reservoir was dead with just lots of anglers. Best seen were 1 Great Crested Grebe / 1 Little Grebe /1 Tufted Duck drake, 1 Moorhen and 7 Cormorants and also had a flock of  Fieldfare over and a Red Kite.

In the North felled area I found a nice patch of Match Stick Lichen growing on a old stone wall and yes took loads of shots and think I need help as I cannot pass it with out stopping to take photos

 Also in the forest was a nice patch of Stag Horn Fungus and I found about twenty different ones

I was sitting there with a coffee and 6 Toffee Doughnuts and thinking this is the life and this Wren just popped out from the grass .
I have passed this bridge so many times and thought I would have a look. It is a smart bridge and has a small waterfall behind it and I will have too go back for a longer look.

Back Home

I got back from Peru on Sunday evening. I haven't been feeling very well since with a bad dose of flu and the trots. So I will just give a quick run down of the trip and post some more details with some photos later.

The trip involved 7 flights, long bus journeys, 3 hour boat rides, too much food ( I even refused some ), lots of sun, lots of rain in parts and more importantly plenty of birds.

I was also ill for a few days missing one day completely, one really nice man called Mike from Middlesex had to fly home before a week was out because of illness.

Birds seen by the party totalled around 582 which around 277 were lifers for me. I missed my most wanted bird the Long-Whiskered Owlet but that is one bird that is certainly not guaranteed. A few others high on my wanted list were also missed but of course others were seen which were surprises.

My favourite bird seen was my last tick of the trip Inca Tern in fact there were dozens ( And they were not in a zoo Mr Gaze ). Maranon Crescentchest, Lulu's Tody-Tyrant, Black Necked Woodpecker, White Tailed Jay, Marvellous Spatuletail, Kopecke's Screech Owl, Many Coloured Rush Tyrant, Pearl Kite, Black Collared Hawk, Black Faced Ibis were some of the other favourites.

Also some jinx birds finally fell, including two Potoo's Common and Great, Pacific Honero and for Mr Bell and Mr Hogan Doner Kebab's, to everyone else Black Capped Donacobius.

My camera also packed up after just about a week of the trip so not so many photos this time.

But I was given the photo posted below by Alejandro our guide from Mike and myself's trip to Manuas earlier in the year. Followers of this blog might notice a recurring theme here.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Yellow Browed Warbler

1 yellow Browed Warbler picked up first on sound and tracked down along the old Railway line in Robertstown and path to the old Ironworks and it was on the westside towards trecynon and railway bridge .it showed well in the tree along path and called all the time i was there and there is a old football pitch below.sadly i did not take my camera  and no photos for the blog.


I didn't venture out this weekend, apart from attending the Butterfly Conservation S. Wales branch members' day at Kenfig on Saturday. It was an all indoor event and ended late afternoon, so I didn't get the chance to venture anywhere else down there.

Running my garden moth trap for the GMS on Saturday night, I had a small, but nice catch of nine species, including these.

Autumn Green Carpet

Red-green Carpet

Spruce Carpet

Blair's Shoulder-knot

Black Rustic

A couple of weeks ago, I took a stroll along the disused railway line, at Llwydcoed. I didn't see a great deal, but did find this caterpillar of the Grey Dagger moth. The adults of Grey Dagger and Dark Dagger can only be reliably told apart by examination of genitalia, but luckily, the caterpillars are quite different from each other, so finding one, such as this is the only way of obtaining a safe field record.                                                                                                                                                   

Grey Dagger

Although common, these 'Silk Button' oak galls are always a treat to see.

Silk Button Gall

Common but I always like to see them: an Owl Midge.

Owl Midge or Moth Fly

Sunday, 18 October 2015

In Search of the Mythical Ring Ouzel

 I got up early sunday morning and done my webs and it was nice too hear the Cetti warbler at Tir founder fields and  it called three times when i was there and it was a dark  morning too do the webs and just did not same like morning .Next stop up too Llyn Fawr too look for Ring Ouzel and after hearing that Mark had them around the corner at Llyn Fach last weekend and thought  maybe a good chance .Boy i was so wrong and got there to find  thick fog and  i Walk along  the  causeway road listening for any calls from the Craig above and all i could hear was raven and a Blackbird give me a bit of excitment and it was short lived when i so no white breast band  and when i got to the far end and had a coffee and waited  for a bit and i turn around too scan down the valley and spotted a flock of birds sitting in a tree and quickly got my scope on them and found out they were Fieldfare and 32 of the little beauty and on scan down the valley i spotted  too large flocks of fieldfare and there was easy 400 hundred in total and the fog was keeping them low  in the valley and my first for Autumn and was amazed by the big numbers .Well time went on and some more  fieldfare dropped in but still no Ring Ouzel .So i decide  too cut my loses and head for Dare Valley Country park and try there for a couple of hours ,Well on getting i heard Blackbirds Across the valley and picked up four birds feeding a  hawthorn and  sadley no sign of any Ouzel . So i keep heading up the valley and found a flock of Fieldfare feeding on the left and and set my scope up too check out if any  thing else was hiding in the hawthorn and if by magic a cracking Male RingOuzel jumped out and started feeding on the berries and give brilliant views as he feed and at one point he was sitting by Mistle Thrush and a Fieldfare and great too see next too each other and so made my day .In the afternoon i Nipped over Darwonno and found some FlyAgaric on the way down too the resevoir  and also a Small Flock of Crossbills and show what a great day out you can have in our valleys.


I think it Earth tongue time, as I found a load down at Whiteford on Saturday, plus a host of other fungi goodies. Birding wasn't great with 3 Crossbill's about the best of the days avian sightings.

As well as the Earth Tongues, other goodies included a pile of Collared Earthstars, and secong Earthstar spp G, rufescens (Correction - now identified as a uncollared Collared Earthstar), Verdigris Roundhead Stropharia aeruginosa, and a couple of Helvella's - Elphin Saddle, H lacunosa and White Saddle, H crispa.

                                            Collared Earthstar
                                         Earth Tongue
                                           Elphin Sadddle
                                            uncollared Collared Earthstar
                                                   Verdigris Roundhead
                                           White Saddle

and for a change, whilst coaching in Singleton Park, this little fella put in an appearance - looking for somewhere to pupate
                                          Pale Tussock

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Bryn Du

 I went for a afternoon walk over to  the gas tanks and was amazed  by how many Crossbills are about and so a flock of  about 60 and lots of smaller flocks and would say must be easy over a hundred crossbills in the forest and i found a  mixed flock   of finches and there were Goldfinch and siskin and about 50 in total and also had a female Brambling in the flock and first for  Autumm for me and great too hear the call again .In the Forest is a nice patch of limestone and found some Match Stick Lichen growing on it .Also growing all the the Road i found a nice patch of Earth Tongue and still give me a buzz too see it .

 Found Lots of these Gills and thought Brittle Gill after see them last week at Parc Slip and also super dog dropped in when i was there .

 Some kind of Boletus which could be Larch Bolets.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Earth Tongues

Okay, so this is a pretty poor photo, but it shows some of the dozens of Earth Tongues I found emerging in a client's lawn today. Most were still, in these uncharacteristic shapes, probably because they were newly emerging, but some had the recognisable tongue shape. Either way, they are tough old things because I only noticed them after they had been run over by a heavy mower, with a rear roller, so they survived the blades and the roller, just springing back upright after, as if nothing had happened.
You haven't missed them, Martin. They are still about.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dan y darren

I've been checking the scree slope and quarry for a week or so and this morning at least 2 birds were on site, tuck tucking, but almost impossible to see. On Monday I had my first redwing with c35 birds briefly feeding on hawthorn before moving south. Strangest recent obs was a kingfisher feeding on stream adjacent to the west cattle grid on Cwm Cadlan on the 08/10/15. Flushed from south side of road it flew upstream to area of whats left of Welsh Water compound before flying fast and low west.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cobalt Crust

 After Feeling like I was the only Person who had not seen this cracking Fungus and my lucky  had too changed and Mark told me last year he had found some in Abernant and i looked for it and could not find it . So i thought i would look again and the sunlight hit  the fungus and i could  see it on the underside of what looks like an Hawthorn branch and how can something so colourful be so hard too see and it was great too see and i got too find my own now and Thank you Mark for tell me where it was and information Brilliant has always. .

 I found this on a Birch log and thought first it was pips or bird pooo and on looking close could see it was a fungus and learned it,s called Purple Jelly Disc and new too me.
 It,s alway nice too see frogs and this little chap put up a good show,
It feels like everywhere i go lately i find Elephant Hawkmoths Caterpillar and they same too be getting in smaller .
 I found this fungus on a fallen larch tree and looks like Yellow Brain Fungus , But never seen it on Larch before .Last  one Sunset sunday night and alway great too see.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Quality Time

Having been forced to abandon two attempted raven counts this month, due to fog, I was really hoping for third time lucky this morning. As it happens, the weather played ball and the count went ahead with no problems. A respectable (for October) total of 162 was the result and although I haven't seen any yet, I heard my first Redwings of the season, calling overhead in the darkness before the count started.

I wondered what to do and where to go next and on a whim, decided to visit Llyn Fach, which as well as being a SSSI, is in the process of becoming a Wildlife Trust managed reserve. Parking at the entrance to the forest access road, just above Tower colliery, it took me over an hour to walk/bird my way to the this beautiful, natural glacial lake, noting amongst other things, four large Long-tailed Tit flocks along the way.

Once at the Llyn Fach, my main object was to search the screes and rock faces for clubmosses, so I began to ascend the S.Eastern side, following the well defined terminal moraine until it met the side of the cwm, then heading into the cwm, traversing the small open patches of scree and scrambling through the tall heather and whimberry.

Llyn Fach from the South

A sound like stones being tapped together, alerted me to the presence of a Ring Ouzel, which was perched in a low, bare Rowan. It called and twitched its tail and wings, obviously agitated by my presence , so I carried on my way, moving away from it and noting that there was another calling. I stopped to check on the original bird and it had left the tree to join another on the ground. One of them was definitely a male, but I was unable to work out whether the second one was a female of a Juv.
All the Rowans were bare, but the Whimberries were still laden with fruit and such fruit. I have never seen such huge Whimberries in all my days. Most were around 10mm in diameter, but some were as large as the commercial Blueberries one sees in the supermarkets. It was these I think the RZs were feeding on.

I carried on around the scree slope, heading for what seemed to be the most accessible section of rock face that side of the cwm, but it was more of a struggle to get to than I'd anticipated. On the way, I saw another Ring Ouzel, which was another male.

Finally getting to the rock, I was immediately surprised and delighted to see a Harebell still in full bloom. There were plenty of others there that had gone over and had only seed pods, but this plant was still looking beautiful.

Harebells (Mr Bell might know them as Bluebells)

Just after noting the Harebell and only a few metres away, I found my target species; Fir Clubmoss. Later I was to see lots more of it, but this was the only accessible plant of it I saw.

Fir Clubmoss

I was getting excited by the site and wondered what it might turn up next. I decided to look for Filmy Ferns, which although I've never seen them there, are to be found in Dare Valley country park. I explored the damper parts of the rock, where a constant drip occurs and under a wet overhang, deep in shade, I came across a colony of them, all hanging down from the roof. I am not familiar with the filmy ferns, having only seen one once, a long time ago, so I took lots of photos, hoping to be able to identify it at home. As hoped, I was indeed able to identify it as Wilson's Filmy Fern, which although far from common, is the commonest of the three filmy ferns and probably the one I saw all those years ago.

Wilson's Filmy Fern

At another section of rock, in a wet area at its base, I found some ferns I didn't recognise. They were obviously deciduous and in the process of dying back, so I took photos and collected a frond. Right next to them was a colony of Oak Fern and both growing as they do, on running rootstocks, the two ferns intermingled in places. At home, I identified it as Beech Fern (the names Oak and Beech are pretty meaningless, in the context of these ferns, as neither has any affiliation or association to its namesake). I now recall the Warden of the fledgeling reserve mentioning Beech Fern being present, so it was nice to actually see it.

Beech Fern

I had now run out of time and for some reason decided the only was was up, so noting the distant call of a fourth Ring Ouzel, I struggled long and hard, eventually, miraculously, reaching the top without either having a heart attack or having my knee caps pop out.
All in all, a pretty successful day.