Thursday, 31 December 2015

Couple Shots from the Festive Period

I had a good walk up around Garw Nant and saw very little. I checked the North Plantation where I found some Dogtooth Lichen and another nice patch of Match Stick Lichen also a shock to see the forest block where the cormorant roost had been felled.

Also me and Mr Hill visited Llangorse Lake, saw lots of water, some nice birds and got home to hear find we had missed a Iceland Gull, Yet again we could not find the local Great White Egret.
On the 30th myself and my daughter thought we would vist Forest Farm. It was a nice sunny day and my daughter wanted to see a Kingfisher. We got there fairly early to find the hide chocablock with no room at the inn. So we thought we would go to the other hide to look for George the local Great Tit and found him staight away. We went to the hide for a peaceful watch and found 13 common snipe sunning themselves in that rare thing called sunshine. We were then joined by a group of toggers and god they were noisy so thought sod this and left for the valleys and some peace and quiet .

In the afternoon I went too Bryn Du and got 11 Common Crossbill. I found this Goldcrest on a post and on looking closer it had no head and was still warm and thought maybe I had just missed a sparrowhawk .

Last one I found this Yellow Brain fungus on a dog wood this afternoon, I have not seen it on dogwood before. Last thing HAPPY NEW YEAR BOYS AND ALL OUR FOLLOWERS.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Eyelashes and Mud

Taking advantage of a dry Boxing Day afternoon, I took myself off to Pwll Waun Cynon nature reserve, to have a general look about and see if I could find a few rusts and micro fungi. Arriving at the gate, the sight of a dead cock Pheasant draped over the gate post was a surprise and entering the reserve I was confronted by mud; lots of mud. Thankful that I had chosen to wear my wellies, I trudged, slipped and slopped through it, noting, all the while, the fresh growth on some of the wild flowers, such as Creeping Buttercup and Lesser Celandine and that something was already exploiting this unseasonally early growth, for in the leaves of both species, were abundant larval mines of the fly Phytomyza ranunculi.

My macro lens packed in, last week, so I am having to use my ultra wide to short telephoto zoom lens with an extension tube, which means having to get much closer to the subject than usual. That wouldn't be a problem, were it not for that mud, so I had to go searching for something to kneel on and eventually found an old deflated plastic football, but as I could only get one knee on it, I was unable to get down low enough for proper photographs to be taken. As I searched for the knee rest, I noticed several of the Lesser Celandine plants with flowers open: the earliest in the winter I have ever seen them in bloom.

Near the Celandine, my eye was caught by s few small orange red disks in the mud and taking a closer look, I could see that they were the fruiting bodies of the Eyelash fungus (Scutellinia scutelata).

Further north in the reserve, the ground conditions improved and so did my progress. At the nothern end of the reserve meadow, a new pond has been dug, presumably as a dipping pond (I'll have to ask Carys, the warden), which I passed, on my way to the woods.
I spent a couple of hours in the wood, searching the holly and bramble leaves for rusts. The bramble leaves were covered in the distinctive purple spots of the very common rust Phragmidium violaceum and beneath each purple spot, on the underside of the leaf was a fuzzy black dot (not all rusts are rust coloured in all stages), each a mass of the Teliospores. Under the microscope, they are wonderful to look at, as can be seen below.

A photo of the Teliospores of P. violaceum. Taken a couple of years ago, using my
phone, down the microscope eyepiece.

There was another rust on the bramble, which caused yellow spots on the upper leaf and had dark spots, surrounded by yellow spore masses below the leaf. This might be the common Phragmidium bulbosum, but I haven't had the chance to get it under the microscope yet.

For those of you who prefer your fungi big and bold, there was a fallen, dead hawthorn, which had several fruiting bodies of what I think is Tremella foliacea.

Under most of the holly leaves I turned over, were small gatherings of what I at first took to be tiny Aphids, but turned out to be tiny, globular Springtails. It's impossible to identify them even to genus level from this photo, so they will have to remain unnamed.

The lens/extension tube combo, will allow me to get closer than this, but then
the front of the lens is too close to allow me to use my ring flash.

Clambering about on a small holly was this Orange Ladybird, which I later saw flying past.

On my way to the reserve, I had stopped to take a photo off the Mountain Ash comprehensive school footbridge. It was intended to compare with a photo I had come across in the RCT photo archive, taken from the same spot in the early 1980s. How a view can alter in thirty years.

View in 1982/83, I would guess. Pwll Waun Cynon can just be seen across the river

2015. Nothing but trees.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

High plains paddling

My first short eared owl of the winter this morning foraging between Garwnant north and the Penderyn road. Bird very distant so just record shots, you can see road edge markings in top image, my first ever sighting in this area (SN9813, RCT, VC42). Also I had a phone call from Marc Everett, WW Rangers, on Monday afternoon that a probable great grey shrike carrying prey had been spotted flying west to east across A470 near the turn off for Garwnant. He was 90% sure, but, he was driving during a brief dry period with strong afternoon sunshine and had the bird in silhouette only. By the time he had managed to turn around the bird had gone (I couldn't get to site held up in post funeral refreshment period). I spent several hours today however at Garwnant and the surrounding area and failed (again) to make contact. Usual at Rhaslas; wigeon[16], tufted[12] and not much else. Then it rained.

Sunday, 20 December 2015


20 December, and i find Brambles, Common Centuary, Daisy's and Dandlions in full flower and this Bloody-nosed Beetle out for a stroll.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Weeeeeeeee bit more of Slimbridge

It was a top site for Moohen and there must be hundreds there, nice too get close views and this one got the reflection of the Flamingos in the back .
If this Rare Duck turned up on a local pond or lake would you know what it is, most would think hybrid actually it's the Baer's Pochard ,
This looks like where Slimbridge keeps their Smew and are getting ready to release them in the UK somewhere and could be how they released the Wilson Phalarope too. Hope they get a fresh batch in soon as I need it on my UK list too pmsl.
It.s alway nice too see Great Spotted Woodpecker and too get a shot and also would like too see Cranes in the Cynon Valley big time. This Lapwing was so tame and it was great to get so close to it. We watched him feeding and it was like he was listerning for worms like Blackbirds do.

These cheeky Robin was in the hide and waiting for is share of Doughnuts so I fed him and he came so close to me I thought he was going too help himself.
This very smart Chilian Wigeon was nice bird too and I remember a person from Porthcawl who wanted to tick the one at Dawlish Warren a couple of years ago and I did not have the heart to tell him and mostly probably it's still on his list .
Who needs Turkey when the Wood Pigeons are this big, it was well stuffed.
The Eiders displaying were great to watch and we found out later the wild Greater Scaup was in the pen with the eiders so we returned later to find it in amongst the not so wild Scaups.

Best bird of the day was the Coot, not as many as the Moorhen but look at the feet on this bird always great to see.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Day Out With Mr Bevan

Some birds seen today. Some wild and some not so wild.





Berwick Swan

Common Crane


Song Thrush