Saturday, 31 December 2016

Up north.

For this years depression holiday, I visited my parents in south west Scotland, taking the opportunity to revisit a number of my old patches. I'm not sure whether it was down to the relatively mild weather (it reached double digits most days), but there were some significant changes in the 30 years since I regularly birded those area. There have been some notable increases - Barnacle Geese are far more common now (population up from about 3 - 4,000 to over 40,000), Little Egrets, Nuthatches and Magpies now resident. Bar-tailed Godwits have virtually dissapeared, to be replaced by Black-tailed Godwits. Duck and Gull numbers much reduced - no Potchard or Gadwall. Winter thrushes all but non existant - two sightings of single Redwings was all I could muster.

That said, I still managed some good sightings - all three regular Divers at Loch Ryan, along with Slave Grebes, Black Guillemots, Eider, Common Scoter, Scaup and Long-tailed Duck.  Green-winged Teal and Waxwing at Caerlaverock, Ring-necked Duck at Castle Douglas.

My ongoing attempts to add Golden Eagle to my British list were thwarted yet again when the weather didn't read the forecast - the forcast clear skys never materialised - any Eagle in the area would of needed to land virtually on the car for me to see it, thanks to thick low cloud! It didn't help that when I returned to my partents they informed me that they had had amost unbroken sunshine all day.

One pleasing sighting was 6 Twite flying over Seafield. There was a regular wintering flock in this area but it died out in the late 70's / early 80's.

 Pink-footed Geese, with a single Barnacle (there were more over the ridge) - an essential soundtrack to my youth as skeins regularly fly over town throughout the winter - around 300 flew over the house on Christmas Day morning. These were feeding less than a 1/4 mile from my former place of employment.
Drake Ring-necked Duck at Castle Douglas - the first bird I looked at on arrival

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Upper Abercanaid

When I saw Martin's images I remember Mark pointing Hair Ice out to me when we used to survey Merthyr/Abernant tunnel for hibernating moths and bats. Quite a few specimens today noted east of tunnel along disused track to the Cyfarthfa Crossing (Parish Road east). Beware of motorcycles, several trees have been felled, amateur signage erected and the "We are not doing any harm brigade" have struck again!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Bryn du

 Hair Ice from yesterday walk and only my second time to see it .

I went to roberststown today and i found Hair  Ice in six different places and as Mark been giving me tips on looking for cobalt crust and i been looking low down and i found this bir about eight feet of the ground and on dead ivy and i hope to go back and take better shots .

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Somewhere in Mount

I found this at a site near Mountain Ash, this afternoon. I had better not give the location on here, as this will probably be classed as a sensitive record and the exact site kept secret, so no guesses please.

Teloschistes chrysophthalmus (Golden-eye Lichen) The whole plant is only
15mm across.

As far as I know, this is only the second record of it in Wales.  It made my day.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Back to Porthcawl

I called in to Salt Lake Carpark to check the Gulls but the road was very busy and it was like every man and his dog was at the beach. There were only two gulls on site but when I took my loaf of whole brown bread out there were about a hundred gulls just like that. I felt like Paul Daniels. The Somerset gull was back and looking really good, I also found this first year Black headed Gull and it's 26TL and I will let you when I find out where its from. It's worrying how many gulls around with injured or no feet, I had two new ones today and one of them is a first year gull.

 Bad photo and first year bird in the centre.
 Great to see some of the Black Headed gull starting to colour up
 The very bright Sker House
There were three flocks of Golden Plover at Sker, a couple of Curlew and 4 Redshank and the most I have seen down here. Top birds seen being two Grey Plover and two Purple Sandpipers in with the Turnstone. Also at Pink Bay were two adult Med Gulls and two or three Common Gulls.

A Late Merry Christmas Lads and a Happy New Year

I had a quick walk around Aberdare park yesterday and it was nice to be out before the crazy days started. The lake looks the same as when the council started it with lots of mud with the water level still low and if this is the best they can do maybe they should have left it alone and full of water. I counted 14 Grey Squirrel as I went around and I saw some birds but it was mostly quiet. I had a flock of Gulls, there were about 50 Herring Gull and a single Lesser Black Backed Gull. The Redwing were nowhere to be seen and thats my moan over .

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Abercwmboi Swan

I was working Abercwmboi today and saw the swans just before the rain came in and went home because it was too wet to work. When I got home I had a phone call to say another swan had flew into the powerlines and there was a big bang and it tripped the lights and sadly the swan was killed out right. I've just put a conplaint into Western Power and it will be intersting to see if they put those things on the lines so birds can see the lines.I went to see the swan today between showers and very sad sight and i could see the feather on the patch like snow and something has been eaten the head already and when i was walking under the powerlines i found the remains of the first swan and on a Positive not i so the lady who told  me yesterday and she said that  western power had email to say sorry and would try and put something on the line by the patch as soon as possible and could not do the bit running along the lake and it will be interesting here why they cannot .

Monday, 19 December 2016

Sunday Again

On a foggy morning I was ending back to Forest Farm and my second go at the Bittern. On getting in the hide I had great view of  this Green Woodpecker and sorry for the poor quality of the photos has the light was very bad. In the five hours I was in the hide it was pretty busy, the kingfisher was showing very well and the Common Snipe were back with five present. I also noticed one of the Jay's had a ring on it's leg also a great tit and has hard as I tried I could not read the letters. I think it's a bad design and should be more like the gulls rings and coloured letter so that you can read them. Also in the hide was a Robin and a Nuthatch and great to share a hide with. The robin was eating meal worms feet from my ear and I could hear him eating. Well after my big sitting I did not see the Bittern again and I could not feel my toes also no fox, but it was great to spend time at Forest Farm and I even saw Mr Bell and I did not notice him in the back of the hide. Next stop was to go up to Llwyn Onn Reservoir and have a look for Mike's Water Pipit but on getting to the spillway finding only 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail and a fly over Cormorant. It was very quiet and at the top of the Reservoir the water level was to high so no birds. So it maybe below the dam or moved on. Next stop I noticed on the Brecon site that the shrike had been seen on the Cwm Cadlan road from the res and in a felled area but no sign and all I got was this nice bit of Velvet Shanks on the way out and the Cadlan was bird less too. Well never mind there alway next time and just great to be out and I had a cracking Rubarb Pie and coffee on the Cadlan and happy days

Sunday, 18 December 2016


On Saturday afternoon, I went back to the riverside wood, just across the river from the Universal site, in Robertstown. The aim was to photograph a microfungus I had collected there the weekend before and which on identification as Echinosphaeria (Lasiosphaeria) canescens, turned out to be the first record of it for Wales. I knew exactly where it was and took a few photo stack sequences. I am new to photo stacking and still trying to get to grips with the highly regarded free photo stacking software 'CombineZP'.

Echinosphaeria canescens. The individual bodies are just 2-3mm across.

Echinosphaeria canescens fruiting bodies look like tiny brown sea urchins and are often clustered so tightly that to the naked eye, the log just looks hairy. Under the microscope, the most diagnostic feature is the hairs themselves; which in E canescens are mostly straight and pointed, with very thick walls. The latter feature separates it from other Lasiosphaeria species.

The thickness of the hair walls can be easily seen at x400.

While I was there, I took a look under a holly, hoping to find the Holly Parachute. I didn't find it, but what I did find was a Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex) and on looking around, I found five in all. They looked smaller than I recall the ones Martin found, at the other end of Robertstown looking, so I took a some spores away to examine, just in case.

Geastrum triplex.

I checked in the books and really, there isn't another earthstar that closely resembles it, but I looked at the spores anyway and they are spot-on; being spherical, prominently warty and around 3.5 to 4.5 microns across, not counting the warts. That said, all the Geastrums seem to have spherical spores, with some degree of wartiness and are in the 3.5 - 5.5 micron size range.

The spores and a filament of the Capillitium. x400

At x1000, the warty nature of the spherical spores becomes more obvious.

x1000. each division of the scale equals 1 micron (1/1000 of a millimetre) 

I on my way back to the car, I came across this Stereum Sp. on a dead oak trunk.

What bleeding crust are you?

 There are two possibles: Bleeding Oak Crust (Stereum gausapatum) or Bleeding Broadleaf Crust (S. rugosum). I collected a specimen and today, cut some sections to examine under the microscope. Both have spores of about the same width and length: roughly  6.5-9 x 3-4.5 microns. S. rugosum has boat shaped spores and S. gausapatum has spores which ar cylindrical to elliptical. There were very few spore present in my specimen and those that were were cylindrical/ elliptical, which pointed to gausapatum, but when I measured them they were all far too small to be either of the above species. I wonder whether the spores that were present might have been immature, so I really need to collect another specimen and try to obtain a spore print. This is apparently quite difficult in these species, but could be the only was to confirm its identity, for the spores in a print should be mature.

Friday, 16 December 2016

to keep Mr Bevan happy

                                           American Coot

and for everyone else.....
                                           hide and seek with a Andean Cock of the Rock
                                                      Andean Emerald
                                          Blue-billed Currassow
                                                Citron-throated Toucan
                                            and Yellow-stripped Poison Dart Frog

still no holiday shots

I thought by now we would be knee deep in holiday shots and if mike had gone we would have. pmsl

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Mute Swan Cygnet Tir Founder Fields

 On looking on facebook last night i so a young swan being reported on Aberdare Marsh and i could see it was Tir Founder Fields and i went along this morning to see if it was well and looks very health  and most likey one of the cygnets from Abercumboi lake .