Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Leave a light on for me

Freezing cold night last night and they were the last thing I thought I would see in Dan-yr-Heol in Penywaun but someone left their outside light on all night. I found the bottom one first and only my second ever December Moth and the top is a Feathered Thorn, two cracking moths.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Ring News

F168  was rung on Flat Holm on the 4 July 2015 and turned up in Cosmeston lake on 29 January 2016 and has been reported 17 times this year.
Lesser Black Backed Gull F303 was rung on Flat Holm on 4 June 2015 and 123 days later on 4 November 2015 he or she turned in Barra Aveiro Portugal and had travelled 1267 kms SSW and almost a year later on 6 November 2016 it turned up in Cosmerston and has been reported 43 times so far this year. I think to hear were they have been and how old they are is priceless and will keep looking for rings.

Quiet stroll around Porthcawl and Sker

After working the last 6 days staight and planning to paint the house today I thought there always next weekend.  I thought after having so much fun with Phil feeding the gulls in Salt Lake car park Porthcawl a couple weeks earlier I thought a second visit would be a good call to look for more gulls with rings on and to  get some more shots. I picked two loafs of Kingsmill brown bread, only the best for my gulls and on getting there were only a couple of gulls present. I spotted this adult winter plumage Med Gull straight away, it was feeding very close and give brilliant views, I had totally forgot I saw this bird before at Aberavon last year. It seems to be doing well and was seen all the time I was there, there was also  a second adult was present and looking very healthy. It's fun to think back in the eighties they were rare and hard work to find in flocks of Black Headed Gulls and I had two with in mintues if each other and also four more later at Rest Bay. There was a flock of about a hundred Black Headed Gulls which all were adults apart from this first winter bird, must be a worry how many are breeding and raising a family in the UK or locally and sadly no gulls with rings today, also a worry was to more gulls with damaged or break legs .

Nice to compare the Med Gull and Black headed Gull together
At Rest Bay there was a couple of Common Gulls and on looking at this shot I thought could be summer plumage but on looking closer I could just make out the dark patch on the back of the head and yes just about a winter plumage. The walk to Sker did not turn up the much needed Chough, all I had was a couple of hundred Golden Plover on the beach who seemed to move from side to side as people passed and must be used to people and dogs coming up the beach towards them. I also had 5 Ringed Plover and 6 Curlew and about half of dozen Oystercatcher and a single Turnstone and yet again I did not get what I wanted. But it was just great to be out and on getting back to car park I spotted a cafe in the top left and corner and I thought I wonder if they got a toilet and yes they do. I could also mell that awful smell of cooking bacon and thought would be rude not to have one and eat it looking over the sea and happy days.

Herring gull with damaged leg and a Black Headed gull .

Monday, 21 November 2016


I've added a few of my shots from Cosmeston yesterday. Martin and myself went to Penarth later on to look for the Black Redstarts. We picked the female up more or less straight away but could not get any photos unfortunately. No sign of any males though.

Grey Squirrel

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Eye to eye with a Tufted Duck


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Couple of shots from Cosmeston Country park today

I've been told by Andy Burns this bird was rung this year on Flat Holm and turned up two weeks ago and it's a Lesser Black Backed Gull.
Second year bird Herring Gull was also told by Andy that it was rung in 2015 on Flat Holm again and turned up last December at cossie.
 Phil was in is oils feeding the swans and until it bite him 4 times and had to walk away from him .
There was loads of Lesser Black Backed Gulls there today and amazing how many different plumages were on them

I find there is so much to learn on Gulls and on times they do my head in and these Second Winter Herring Gull do not look right and yes I'm fifty and still learning.
 Female Tufted Duck having a wash and clean up .
 Blue Tit
Drake Tufted Duck

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Seawatch at Porthcawl

Martin Bevan and myself spent between 7am and 9pm seawatching from Porthcawl.

As soon as the light allowed we were treated to 1000 plus Black Headed Gulls in quite close going down channel in amongst we picked up 12 Med. Gulls.

Soon after a Red Throated Diver went down channel, along with 3 Fulmars and 3 Gannets. 3 Common Scoters were observed and a steady stream of Auks most of which seemed to be Guillemots kept going all the time we were there. One Shag went west very close in.

By now a stream of Kittiwakes were going down channel we counted nearly 900 but could easily have been a lot more.

Further out a Juvenile Dark Phase Pomarine Skua went west and then strangely for this time of year a Manx Shearwater went down channel close in.

Other birds seen were 4 Oystercatchers, 4 Ringed Plovers and 4 Turnstones.

Martin also seen a Harbour Porpoise.

We then went over to Kenfig and had an hour in the hide. Nothing unusual seen, wildfowl present included Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Wigeon, Teal and Goldeneye.

On the way back to the centre near the feeders we had quite a surprise when a weasel popped out twice onto the edge of the path. Really good views were had for a change.

Black Headed Gull and Common Gull

Black Headed Gull

Herring Gull

Black Headed Gull




Old Friend

Nice to see my old friend S032 is  back for another winter at Porthcawl and was just across the road from where I saw him in February and for those who are not that hot on Gulls it's a winter plumage Herring Gull .
 Common Gull

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Mr Bevan becomes the last of our motley crew to reach the half century today.

Best wishes and good birding for the next 50.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Weekend Mooches

Saturday afternoon, I slouched off to the west bank of the Cynon, by Aberaman industrial estate for a bit of a wildlife mooch. Unfortunately, apart from a couple of tit flocks to brighten things up, there wasn't much to be seen. This Purple Jelly Disk growing on the abundant elm logs was a welcome diversion, while down in the damp riverside wood.

Walking back home, I found several "Herds" as Mr Bell aptly describes them, of the Giant Willow Aphid (Tuberolachnus salignus). They were on the younger lower upright stems of what appeared to be an Ossier.
If you come across a herd, try gently blowing on them. They will all lift their hind pair of legs and wave them in the air, which is quite a sight, when a large group is involved.

Some of these, still have their hind legs in the air.

There appears to be a winged individual at the bottom
of this shot.

This morning, I was up bright and early to do something I have meant to do for over a year: go to thr raven roost, not to count, but to try and work out where they are now roosting. Following the felling of the larch shelter belt in front of the roost and the wind throw of most of the root pines they changed their flying out routes making my former counting place (next to the roost) untenable, forcing me to find another place from which to count them. The place I found, while good for counting, is quite a distance from the roost and separated from it by a hill, so I have lost touch with what is actually going on there.
This morning, in darkness, I slipped and stumbled my way from the parish road, cursing scramblers and off roaders; their families and all their descendants to come (actually, if my curses come true, they won't be able to have descendants) to get to my former count point. All was silence for a while, but then an echoing "cronk" heralded the beginning of something I have sorely missed, since moving: the pre-fly-out chorus. It was wonderful to hear all those different voices calling and responding and rendered even more beautiful by the cathedral-like echoing acoustics. One day, in the summer, when it is too early for the road noise from the A470 to intrude much, I must go there and make a sound recording.
On my way to the roost, I had flushed three Woodcock, which flew away unseen in the darkness and while I watched the ravens, I was hoping to see some flying in to the forestry, to roost, but none did.

As far as I can see; as the roost pines have been felled by the winds, the ravens have moved back into the spruce plantation behind, which is bad news as this is one of the plantations due to be felled in the next couple of years. I noticed that some of them have also started using the original roost again, so as long as that isn't included in the felling scheme (the trees are mature enough, so it might be), the whole roost might move back there: time will tell.
There was a nice sunrise after the ravens had gone and just before I did too.

Sun not yet risen and the ravens have already left.

For the rest of the morning and early afternoon, I went to the forestry, on the west side of the valley, below the lower Neuadd reservoir. I wasn't there specifically to look for the shrike, which is fortunate, as I didn't see it, but all the recent posting about the Neuadd reservoirs made me realise that I hadn't been up there for more than a couple of years. I parked in my usual spot: the entrance to a forest track that runs straight up the west side of the valley, to the res. An unwelcome discovery, made while having a cup of tea, was in some Ash saplings, the other side of the road, which were showing a form of die-back I have never seen before, so took some photos and as suspected, checking when I got home confirmed that it is the dreaded Ash Die-back Disease (ADD), which was apparently confirmed as present in that 10km square (and this one, for that matter) in 2015. It didn't seem to be affecting the older trees, as far as I could see, but was making a mess of the saplings and threw a sombre mood over my walk.

The twigs have died back and formed dead lesions in
the bark of the main stem. 

When the shots on both sides of the stem die and the
die-back bridges the gap across the main stem, it
forms a dead girdle and everything above that point

Close to the car, underneath a fallen Ash branch, I came across this slime mould, still in its mobile plasmodium stage. It is impossible to identify them in this stage and a second visit a day or two later would be needed, by which time it should have settled down and morphed into the sporulating stage, producing its characteristic fruit bodies and spores. If I get the chance, I might try and pop back up there, to see what it developed into.

It was in the most awkward position to photograph; underneath a branch, which
was too far off the floor to enable me to do it lying on my back, but so low down
that you needed to be double jointed to do it from a kneeling position!

The rest of the walk was pretty featureless, apart from a female Great Spotted Woodpecker excavating a nest hole in a dead confer trunk and a few Crossbills. The walk ended with these lenticular (lens shaped) clouds, which I think were Stratocumulus lenticularis, rather than Altocumulus lenticularis. I had no intention of getting to the reservoirs and didn't.