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.

1 comment:

  1. Some great photos and me and phil went looking for your owl sunday adternoon and no joy and s more of the ravens were in the pines near the powerlines and we also had a big flock fieldfare and there still sames to be big numbers of meadow pipits in the uplands and that slime mold looks great .