Saturday, 30 July 2016

Bryn Du

A quick walk this afternoon to have a look for some Dragonflies. I found one staight away has I walked down the road towards the wheel wash and thought great but little did I know that would be it. It turned out to be a male common hawker. I also found this Yellow Dung Fly but with no dung anywhere in sight. It must eat other things or using thistle as a tooth pick.

I also checked on Mark's Round Leaved Wintergreen and found six flowering and up on last year. The flowers are just starting to come out. I did a quick count of the  Pyramidal Orchids and still over hundred were flowering.

I found these Brown Moths on ragwort and look very much like clothes moth.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Recorders Day in Dare Valley Country Park

Went along bright and early to the country park and did a two hour walk and recorded as many birds as I could, highlights being Dipper / Kingfisher / Reed Bunting. Found lots more but found it murder as it was not very warm and most birds were not singing but were hiding in the bushes. It took me a long time to see any warblers and when I finally did got a couple of Chiffchaffs and Blackcap I felt if it had given me a bit of a warm. Also on looking on the board by the lake and seeing a picture of a Malachite Kingfisher I thought someone has not done their homework and a bird that is found in Africa and not in Europe I think says it all. In the evening I met up with Martin and Mark and we got the trap to the site and I then went for a walk and tried to find some more birds but instead I found these two fungus and have been told the top one is a Blusher or Amanita Rubescens and the lower one is a Weeping Boletes.

Also on the path back down I found this  Dead Common Shrew but sadly no Sexton Beetles this time.
Back at the trap it was great to see so many True Lovers Knot and after seeing one last week and not having seen one for years it was great to see such good numbers.
 Also big numbers of Brimstone.
 Welsh Wave
 July High Flyer
This was a brilliant surprise as we were thinking maybe too late for Hawkmoths and this Small Elephant Hawkmoth turned up and I think made mine and Martin's night.

 Toad Flax Pug
When I left the boys at the trap I checked the heath trap on the way down and saw a couple of Peppered Moths and a single Buff Tip, also a Swallowtail moth and a Light Emerald in the grass by the side of the trap. It was great to catch up with the lads and Martin had a brimstone on is glasses,

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Glazed Cup

Wanting better photos of the Glazed Cup (Hunaria hemisphaerica) I returned to the site with my camera and tripod; the latter because to get the depth of field required in those dim places, the exposure time tends to run into tens of seconds. I was disappointed to see that the few cups I originally found were now well nibbled by slugs and not really worth a photo. However, poking around looking for something else to photograph, I came across this little group of Wrinkled Club (Clavulina rugosa) with cristate tips, growing on the same pile of rotten sallow logs.

Cavulina rugosa with cristate tips

While photographing them, I noticed this tiny and very ugly Spider Mite clambering slowly over one of the clubs.

Unknown Spider Mite (Who's a pretty boy then?)

On my way back out, I spotted this Saddle (Helvella Sp). It was the only one, so I didn't want to pick it, to look at the underside of the cap, so the species will have to remain unknown.

While I was setting the camera up for that, I noticed that on the moss covered rotten log it was on were also five young cups of Glazed Cup, so I got my photos of those after all.

Glazed Cup (exposure time 20 seconds)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A white letter day!

The walk home from work tonight along Tram Road Side was brightened up by the discovery of this little chap

A White-letter Hairsteak, and my best ever views to boot as it fed on Hemp Agrimony. It's a first for me locally - the nearest colony I know is those Mark found near the Brown Lenox site in Ponty'. A genuine spread, or just overlooked? There are plenty of Elm's (English and Wych) all the way up the Taf - I was actually looking at some last Friday, at Pont-y-Gwaith bridge, in the hope I'd catch a glimpse of a Hairsteak flitting around the upper reaches - alas without luck on that occassion.

Monday, 25 July 2016

What a Difference a Day Makes (Revised!)

Having more or less recovered from the all night mothing extravaganza in Dare Valley country park, I went out on Saturday afternoon; for a walk along the disused railway line which runs between the top of Abernant and Llywdcoed. The reason was I wanted to collect a specimen of a slime mould I photographed , a week earlier, while moth trapping. A search on t'internet, revealed its probable identity as Trichia decipiens, but I needed a spore specimen to examine, to be sure.

Trichia Sp. Probably decipiens

Having collected  a few of the sporangia, I carried on up the track to where I knew there was a bit of a damp dingle, where I could search for more slime moulds and soon after entering it, I found my first sporangia. This again may be T decipiens, so I collected another specimen.

Trichia Sp; possibly decipiens

On the same log as the above Trichia, were several of these grey cup fungi, with conspicuously hairy outsides and rim. This may be Glazed Cup (Humaria hemisphaerica), but you guessed it; I will have to collect a cup, to examine microscopically and test with Melzer's reagent.

Note: I have since collected one (this one, actually) and spent part of today's wet morning peering down the microscope at it. The asci didn't blue with Melzer's and were within the right size range, The hairs were septate, awl shaped and all the right size, while the ascospores were broadly ellipsoid, coarsely warted, had two conspicuous oil bodies and were all within the given size range, so the conclusion is that it is hemisphaerica.

Confirmed Humaria hemisphaerica

The weather conditions were a little dry for slime mould hunting, but having walked past a log on the ground, I did a double take and went back to it, confirming that I had been right and it was indeed covered in tiny, glossy black beads. It was definitely a slime mould and probably a Trichia, but not decipiens. Laying on my stomach in the damp leaf mould and brambles, I took lots of photos and as some of the sporangia were splitting open to reveal their load of orange spores, I took a specimen or two. I am almost certain that it is Trichia botrytis.

The sporangia were crowded in places

Elderberries, anyone?
Splitting open to reveal spores
Wandering about, I came across what I at first thought was a white slime mould, but on processing the photos, I began to suspect that it was some sort of jelly fungus.

On Sunday; wanting to get more shots of the Trichia botrytis, I went back there in the rain and after getting my photos, I went back to the log with the white jelly, only to find it gone: well sort of. In place of the white jelly, I was delighted to find the unmistakable sporangia of one of the Stemonitis species of slime moulds; looking like organ pipes on stalks. In the twenty or so hours since my first visit they had transformed from the beautiful white jelly into the dark brown mature sporangia.

Hard to believe that the pristine white jelly above, turns into this in such a
short time.

At home, I found that yet again the only way to tell them apart for sure is to examine the spores, so I went back there again today, before work, to collect a specimen. Meanwhile, I came across this Russian wildlife site, which is all in Russian (who'd have guessed?), but with some amazing time lapse sequences of a Stemonitis doing its stuff (you have to scroll down a bit to find them)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Bed! whats that all about?

Catching up on a few busy days out and about.

On Thursday evening I joined Mark and Martin doing a spot of moth trapping up at Dare Valley Country Park. The weather payed ball and we amassed a fair haul for the nights work. The spectacular came in the form of a late Small Elephant Hawkmoth as well as several Gold Spot's. Martin missed the Iron Prominent and Double Dart when we emptied the boxes around 02:30. A highlight was a very obliging beetle - Serica brunnea

 Gold Spot
 Iron Prominent
 Large Emerald
Serica Brunnea

After packing up, it was over to Parc Taf Bargoed, and this months WeBS. The only bit of interest was that a pair of Little Grebe had bred again this year - a pair with two large young.

From my WeBS it was over to Craig yr Efail for the first of this years Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. This scheme has me following the same transect as that for my BBS, counting all the butterflies and marco moths seen in a 2.5m either side of yourself.  The walk up to the start point was pleasent, some Chanterelle's were found, but a bit small and slug eaten to think about brining home for the pot. The final approach to my start point saw me disturb a couple of Greylings. Unfortunately no Greylings made it onto the count. Whilst the number of individuals counted looks impressive - 1100, most of these (1051) were from a mass emergence of Six-spot Burnet Moth's. Virtually every Thistle and Ragwort head, plus many grasses, seemed to be covered in these colourful moths. Whilst my transect pulled in just over the thousand, there must of been 10,000+ over the open ridge.In total I recorded 9 species. Hopefully the diversity will improve for my second count next month.

Saturday was taken up with coaching and officiating duties. This morning it was off to CCF, my first visit since early May. A kingfisher on the Taff next to where the old primary school stood was a great start to the day. Unfortunately, that was about as good as the birding got. However, the fungi are starting to show with Chicken-of-the-Woods, Honey Fungus, and Sulphur Tuft all being noted. I did find a rather interesting Slime Mould.

A close look showed these to be a soft, delicate honeycomb, each about 10mm in length. A quick search on line and I think these are Arcyria nutans.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Cwm Cadlan if I could find it

I got up this morning was ready to go by 8:20, I  put my wellies in after my wet feet last weekend as I almost had web feet after being so wet. I was looking forward to going back up Cwm Cadlan and go to the dragonfly pond up on top again but as I pulled out of my road I noticed that Bryn Pica was not there but under thick fog. As I went up the valley I had a bad feeling and as I was getting closer to Hirwaun my feeling was right and Penderyn was nowhere to be seen. I had to think quick and make changes to my morning so I thought  I would try sub station ponds on the Industrial estate has I had not been there for ages. Soon I was on site, the birdlife was fairly quiet on there, highlights being 4 pairs of Coots with young of different ages, two Mallard and two Little Grebes. So I started looking for Dragonflies instead and quickly found some Common Darters and loads of Blue tailed And Common Blue Damselflies. I was watching a house sparrow hopping along and catching them so easlier and it had a beak full in no time. Has I went around the back I picked up a big Hawker and on looking closer it was a male Emperor Dragonfly, it was brilliant to watch hawking for insects over the field. I also found a fungus at the base of one of the pines, it had white spotting and after I posted a fungus on facebook the other day and was told I need to see the underside. I turned it over and the smell was pretty bad and was like when I let one go in the car and everyone rushes for the windows. Also I found this tiny wasp and was wondering if anybody knows what it is. I also noticed towards Graig y Llyn it looked clear and thought this could be a great second choice to my chill out Sunday but as I went up the road it started to rain and I thought I don' believe it but when I pulled over it stopped like magic. On I went, I was planning to visit a pond to look for Black Darter but as I walked through one of the rides I spotted a puddle and there was loads of Water Crickets on it, there must have easy fifty plus and it was great to get some shots of them. Also there was a Caterpillar which wanted swimming lessons and swam so far and thought where I have gone wrong but with a little help he was back on dry land and I have never seen a caterpillar go so fast. Also I found more Water Crickets in the next puddle and these were a lot smaller.

Once I got to the pool, I found there was loads of  Common Emerald Damselflies and large Red Damselflies but no sign of any Black Darters. I was starting to think I was not going to see any dragonflies there at all but yet again at the back of the pond there was a male Emperor Dragonfly also a female egg laying and I also found this caterpillar stroke larva below. When I left the pond I walked up the path by the reservoir where I found a True Lovers Knot moth, I had not seen one in years and best of all was I found a dead common shrew. It was covered in flies and four sexton beetles and it's been years since I saw one last. They used be a common site in the valley. I know it was smelling a bit but it was great to see this colourful beetle and watched it flying in and was amazing to see in the air .