Thursday, 28 December 2017

Solway musings

A couple of trips up to see the parents over the last month allowed me to visit some of my early stamping grounds. Some changes in the local bird life are really noticable from the 70's/early 80s. New species include Nuthatch, Magpie and Little Egret. Magpie was always the most glaring omission. I only ever saw 2 individuals when I lived in Annan - my year ticks came from ticking birds on the English side of the Solway or traveling to Dumfries.
Another winner is Stock Dove. Whilst this species was always around, it appears to have become much commoner I even found a singing male in a park at the edge of town, and a flock of 100+ were found feeding in a stubble field (with about 60 feral pigeons and around 30 Woodpigeons). 
Losses are harder to identify. Whilst wildfowl and wader numbers were lower than what I used to see I'm not clear as to whether that was down to the mild winter.
Geese are the big winter draw for the area with Pink-foot and Barnacle being the dominant species. Both are easy to find. One of the great sights of my most recent trip was watching a field with 3000+ Barnies and a few Pinkies as I remember when the entire Svalbard population of Barnies was less than 3000) Working through the feeding flock I found a leuistic Barnie - these are only found in the Svalbard population - and then a Bar-headed Goose?? 

Away from the birding, I managed to catch up with the globular Springtail Dicyryomina saundersi, one of the easiest of the Springtails to identify thanks to its striped rear.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


More or less a drive-by this morning; water pipit with pied wagtail, grey wagtail and a dipper feeding on northeast corner of the upper spillway (the shallow end).

Thursday, 21 December 2017

A wet Sunday at Slimbridge

It was nice to have another go for Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean. Phil, Martin and myself were there nice and early and we were surprised to see there was still snow there and the road to Cannop Ponds was closed due to ice. Well we had a good walk up Crabtree Hill but we saw very little apart from hearing Common Crossbill over head and 6 Fallow Deer in the mist but no sign off any wild  Boar. Well we went back to the car for a much needed brew where we got talking to a guy, he had seen them in the last couple of days and was shocked we had not seen any and to finish us off he took his phone out to show us a video, he was so close he took videos with is phone arrrrrrrrrr. So as the rain had arrived early we decided to get out of the forest and head for Slimbridge. It turned out to be  a good plan and we got all we went for. It's always nice to the Bewick Swans and other highlights were Little Stint, loads off Ruff and there was two Water Rail by the Willow Hide also we got to see the captive Smew which of course the Drakes are crackers.

This Smew was in a holding pen and getting already to be released like that dodgy Wilson Phalorope a couple of years ago .
 I thought this photo looks better upside down ,

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Pontsticill reservoir gull roost

Birds arriving by 15:20 in good light with mist keeping above tree line, arrivals accelerating towards dusk with c2150 total gulls by 16:15; herring gull [c2105], lesser black-backed gull [c35] & black headed gull [c10]. Otherwise around the patch quiet, very quiet, ho-hum.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Look, and you shall find...

Last winter the Glamorgan Fungi Group put a call out to members to look for some poorly recorded species of fungi. One of the species to look for is a very small mushroom Marasmius hudsonii, or Holly Parachute. Despite looking through countless fallen leaves of Holly, I never found a single specimen. Other found several, proving the species was under recorded, with our own Mark Evans finding several, and I think Mr Bevan found one, in the Cynon Valley.

Forward a year and with others finding more Holly Parachutes, I've been looking hard. That looking finally came to fruition today with a single fruiting body found.

Monday, 11 December 2017


Water pipit this morning found by rangers (ME), using traditional foraging area along spillway. A470 was ok but road dropping to dam was iffy, also quite a few dropped small limbs with snow weighted roadside scrub forming low 'tunnel' for the length of back road. If you are visiting Garw nant, at the moment its park at entrance and walk in.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Group Photo from Costa Rica

Boat trip to Paolo Verde with Olivier our guide.

Please note I am on a boat, I do not have my head over the side being sick and I have not turned green.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Upper Boat

Can't compete with the Fun boy three but a half hour walk along the Taff produced two pairs of Dipper,Heron,six Goosander (4m 2f) and half a dozen Mistle Thrushes.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Sunday Stroll

Last Sunday I did another Search for a Great Grey Shrike in between Fernhill and Coed Cae Aberaman but sadly nice walk and no shrike. I did see a couple of flocks of Common Crossbills and a cracking female Goshawk having a brush off with a Raven, one I have seen loads of times but still a great pleasure to see.

I also found some Crystal Brain Fungus in the forest. I have not seen it in forestry before always on open moorland, it looks like something off the set of alien movies. It was nice to see less motorbikes and more people running and mountain biking. I also find more and more you walk a path and get to a point where the path runs out because its so over grown now.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Mike Hogan looking slick

Mike and his dream woman taken in Costa Rica. Mike even slept with her every night !!!!!

Sunday, 26 November 2017


Goldfinch with Trichomonosis symptoms below garden feeders yesterday. I've removed all feeders, cleansed with bleach solution and scrubbed all ground below with an even stronger bleach solution. It's the first time I've noticed Trichomonosis in garden so I'm wondering if I should stop feeding for a week or two or will this just encourage birds to move to feeders where less/no hygiene regime is practiced. What do you reckon?

Friday, 24 November 2017

A Few More from Costa Rica

Great Curassow

Pale Billed Woodpecker

White Hawk

Elegant Trogon

Crested Caracara

Off the hotel beach

American Crocodile

Boat Billed Heron

Yellow Crowned Night Heron. I've never seen this pose before.

Variegated Squirrel

Purple Gallinule

Cattle Egrets

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Quiet walk

When I was waiting for Phil to pick me up from the top of my road on Sunday morning it was a nice surprise to see such a brilliant sunrise.
We did our yearly search for Great Grey Shrike at Garwnant doing a big loop of the forestry but it was dead and all we saw was a single Red Kite and two groups Common Crossbills  (8 in all). We both commented that the speed the trees are growing it will not be suitable for Shrikes for much longer and it's time we should start looking elsewhere. We also checked the path going up to the open moorland and I did a spot  of break dancing and I think Phil was gutted he did not get it on camera  and  it's  still nice to see I have got the moves. I also noticed that the wall which is normally covered in Matchstick Lichen was hardly covered, maybe a sign of too much rain or lack of of light from the forest. Next up we went for a quick look at Rhaslas pond and it was nice to see good section of wildfowl. We saw 28 Wigeon, 8 Tufted Duck, 5 Mallard, 4  female type Goldeneye, 1 drake Goosander, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Cormorants, 25 Canada Geese and about 150 Herring gulls.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Little more Costa Rica

It was great to see some of these Blue Jean or Strawberry Poison Arrow Frogs and we found these Cane Toads in the Hotel Grounds at night.

I would hate to get run over by one off these bad boys or is it girl and these tracks were made by a Leather backed Turtle.

Also at night we were out looking for turtles and we found loads of these crabs on the beach and boy were they fast moving.

 I been trying to find out which Sheild Bug or Stink Bug
 White Throated Magpie Jay.
 This one I wanted to see big time a Boat Billed Heron.
 Green Iguana
Our local legend Mike giving a interview for a Costa Rica Reporter, what a guy and if you look at the floor you can just see the burn marks where me and Mr Hill ran like the wind.

Late Webs

I did my Webs at Tir Founder Fields this morning, it was very quiet bird wise but the best highlight was a young Otter. I watched it feeding for about ten minutes in the rain and was my first for a couple of years.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Costa Rica My First Batch of Photos

Bare Throated Tiger Heron

Roseate Spoonbill

Scarlet Macaw


Yellow Naped Parrot

Brown Pelican

Great Kissadee

Inca Dove

Hoffmann's Woodpecker

White Fronted Parrot

Black Howler Monkey

Double Striped Thick Knee