Sunday, 15 October 2017

Vis mig'ing and the Rock Thrush

This weekend was meant to be about athletes racing in Germany, so unusually I don't pack any bin's, or camera. Big Error. All day Friday and Saturday i watch small flock after small flock of passerines pass over heading in South Westerly direction. Of those I managed to ID, they were mainly Chaffinch, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, with smaller numbers of Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Hawfinch, Blue Tit, and Crested Lark. With bin's I'm sure I would have identified more species. The village we stayed in held at least 6 Black Redstart (prob a lot more) just round the hotel. Driving back to Berlin, a skien of Common Crane flew over.

Interestingly, all the crows around where we stayed, SW of Lipzig, were Carrion, whilst in Berlin they were Hooded.

The trip, however, got off to a fraught start as soon as I picked up the hire care, Mr Hill phoned to inform me of the Rock Thrush found in Gwent..... So it was with hope on my return to the UK that the bird would still be on site - A text from Phil on my landing confirmed its presence today and by 15:45, the Rock Thrush was on the list - my 7th GB tick of the year. Although looking into the sun I managed a few digiscope pics - the best of which is below.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


Working just outside Senghenydd this a.m. and for some unknown reason decided to drive home the scenic route. First record of whooper at Rhaslas, still carrying yellow stain.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Putting the boot in..

At 4am this morning I decided to try for the Booted/Sykes Warb found down the Gower by Ed Hunter, before coaching in Swansea later in the morning, so set of not long after 5am. After driving through some heavy rain which had me doubt my sanity, the Gower was surprisingly dry. I was the first birder to arrive on the scene and started my search as it grew lighter. Initially it was Robins everywhere but as the number of birders grew, so did the number of birds. A fair sized mix flock passed through containing both Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warb, but I failed to get on to either of these. I did get back into the groove picking up the first of the days Pied Flick's.

Soon the flock passed through again, and this time I managed to pick up the Y-b, but there was no sign of the main quarry. As we spread out to try to find the hippo' Mark Hipkin announced he had it and most of the assembled crew were quickly onto it as it fed in a stunted Sycamore, giving great veiws. After a couple of minutes it disappeared, but the agreed concensus was that it was a Booted Warb rather than the rarer Sykes. Mark didn't take long to refind it as it worked the hedgerow. At that point I had to leave so left the guys following it down the lane.

Phil and Bev decided to take the chance later in the day. When they arrived it hadn't been seen for several hours, but they didn't take long to refind it, in the same stunted Sycamore it was in earlier in the morning.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar

I find these are in short supply this year, this is only my second record of the year and I have been checking Willow Herb religiously. I found this one by accident today in my lane. Also on Monday I had a mole over Robertstown north and yes a live one! In Abercwmboi I had a Ruby Wasp sp and have not seen them this late before.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Little bit of Cuba

Here are couple of photos from my trip to Cuba, first up Cuban Pygmy Owl  which was only seen on mainland .
 Cuban Emarald was very common and seen daily
 I had this pale Plover and I just knew it had to be Piping Plover
 Cuban Tody and for something so colourful took a bit to see.
 Cuban Green Woodpecker.
 Turkey Vulture.
 West Indian Woodpecker.
 Lauging Gull.
 Cuban Brown Anole
 Juv Cuban Black Hawk
 The Scarce  Bahamas Mockingbird and only a single bird seen.
 Greater Flamingo.
Mixed flock of White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill and a Ticoloured Heron.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

weekend wanderings

After coaching on Saturday, I took myself round a patch of local woodland I've never actually visited, mainly in the hope of finding Club and Saddle fungi.

About 3 steps into the wood and there was my first, a Crested Coral Clavulina coralloides, quickly followed by a couple of Golden Spindles Clavulinopsis corniculata, a Wrinkled Club, Clavulina rugosa, and several Pointed Clubs Clavaria acuta, all in a small area. After that, zilch apart from a few small Mycea (which I didn't see). I did, however, find a small white slug. Could it be the Ghost or another Worm Slug. A check with the hand lens found no pigment in the eyes and the pneumostome was located at the very rear of the body and a short keel at the very tail. Yes, a Ghost Slug, Selenochlamys ysbryda.  - one of the very few species with a Welsh word in its official binomal.

                                              Crested Coral
                                              Ghost Slug.

After Sundays tee-hugging session (see Phil's post), it was another wander round a local wood before the rain set in. Fungi were few and far between but Twig Parachute Marasmiellus ramealis was new for me. I did pick up three fine beetles - Woodland Dor, Anoplotrupes stercorarius is a familiar species I usually fine up on the hills, but I picked up my first Common Heartshield Nebria brevicollis and a host of the False Ladybird Endomychus coccineus, another tick for me.

                                             Twig Parachute
                                               Common Heart-shield
                                                False Ladybird

Finally on Monday, I noticed an attractive moth on the pillar just outside the house on Monday evening - not quite a Death's-head Hawkmoth, but a new moff for me - Large Ranunculus Polymixis flavicincta

                                                             Large Ranunculus

Monday, 25 September 2017

One for the Bucket list

After hearing that the Dead's Head Hawkmoths were back at Kenfig Pool for release I thought I had blew my chances of seeing them after hearing too late on Sunday they were there. But there's always a silver lining and Dave Carrington the Warden from Kenfig Nature Reserve said that if I still wanted to see them I could so and Phil jumped at it. It was brilliant to have the pleasure of seeing them The first time for me to twitch a moth.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Monknash - Nash Point


Martin Bevan slept late for the second time in a week and Martin Bell walked into a tree.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Just a figment of our collective imagination

It's 5am on Sunday morning and I'm standing at Fiddlers Elbow in the damp mist waiting to be picked up by Phil for a day trip to Weymouth and Portland. 10 past and the phone goes off, who's slept in? No sign of Mr Bevan. Phil is trying to reach him. 20 minutes later and the phone goes again, Bevan has surfaced, Phil will pick me up and then we'll pick up sleepy head. So about an hour later than planned, we set of for the south coast.

The rest of the journey went without hitch until we reached the outskirts of Weymouth, to find that a triathlon was taking place that morning and a number of roads would be closed. We hoped access to Lodmoor would be OK. Alas not, the triathlon was based at Lodmoor. We eventually managed to park in Weymouth, about a kilometer from Lodmoor, and wandered through the crowd to the RSPB reserve, hoping that the Least Sandpiper had the decency to stay put for another day.
Fortunately it didn't take long to catch up with this micro wader - a British tick for all three of us - ably put onto the bird by Kevin Hughes, who had managed to beat us down (he didn't have to wait for anyone else to drag themselves out of their pit). Unfortunately the Stilt Sand' had decided to hop it the previous day.
                                           a poor record shot of the peep

From Lodmoor we headed over to Portland, to see what, if anything, was passing through. The short answer - nothing! so we joined Kevin waiting for the long staying Wryneck to put in an appearance in the Obs quarry. After about 20 mins I picked the bird up as it hunted through the long grass and we all enjoyed good views for some time before we decided to leave it be.

From there we walked over to Southwell to try for the Hoopoe that's been hanging around for a while. It took a while, and we just making moves to leave, when it popped up onto a bare snag, a nice year tick for myself and the second this year for both Martin and Phil.

If the start of the journey was delayed, the delays on the return trip started as we approached the bridge tolls. We did, however, find out why Bevan slept in as his alarm went off at 4pm - clearly he was still in Cuba time.

Thursday, 14 September 2017


Swift hawking insects with House Martins over the River Cynon at Mountain Ash at 13.55 for 10 minutes. Unfortunately I did not have binoculars with me to get a closer look given the time of year.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Wandered the pool margins today hoping for a blow-in but just the ruff of any interest, found by Ceri yesterday. Thanks to Tom for letting me know, bird flushed from southwest bank, flew to west point and disappeared into the rush. The dunlin is from the the 11th again at west point.

Starry, starry night....

A wander round the local woods this evening produced my first records of Collared Earthstar Geastrum triplex for this site, and my home 1km square. A total of 4 individuals was located.

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to join the Glamorgan Fungo Group foray to Coed Gelli Draws, just outside Pontpridd. An enjoyable morning wandering around produced some nice fungi, but possible the best find of the day was whilst waiting for everyone to assemble I noticed a gall growing on a Dogwood leaf. A couple of photo's and a bit of research suggests this is a gall caused by the larva of a fly Craneiobia corni. According to Aderyn, there is one one previous record in Wales - from Monmouthshire. The gall takes the form of a red - darkening to purple knob on the upper leaf, whilst on the underside the gall looks more like a green flask.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


[Dunlin May 2016] The Nant Llesg appeal process, apparently, is about to kick off, as such can all birders who have visited the area in the last 5 years please hang on to all note books and images and have / make  them available, if necessary, for forensic analysis. Also both butterfly and dragonfly species, not noted during the RPS(*) managed ecological surveys,  have recently been photographed and recorded, as such can all naturalists who have visited the area in the last 5 years please hang on to all note books and images and have / make  them available, if necessary, for forensic analysis. 
(*) RPS if you can ever forget, the chap in charge, stated in not 1 but 2 public meetings that the only birds using Rhaslas were, and I quote, "seagulls". He was pulled by a member of the public, who unknown to him happened to be an ecologist. At the next meeting he repeated the statement, he was again pulled by a member of the public, another ecologist. 
It's sad that the character most admired by the people I love and know is integrity, while it is the character most detested by both those who govern us and their mealy mouthed underlings.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Garden Tick

Saturday afternoon provided a first for my garden a Sparrowhawk which is quite surprising as I have lots of small birds using the feeders. I did not actual see the dastardly deed so I am not sure what he was having for dinner, plenty of young Siskins, Goldfinches and Sparrows around so they would be favourites. Photos had to taken through the kitchen window. Note to oneself clean windows.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Caddisfly from Hell

Yesterday morning I took a walk up the Taff trail to Pont-y-Gwaith bridge and back (Yes, I know Pont is Welsh for bridge so don't really need to repeat it in the name). Birdlife was quite quiet, though a Kingfisher flashed past several times. At the bridge I watched the Elms for a while in the forelone hope that there might be a late White-letter Hairsteak still on the wing. Unfortunately the only butterfly on show was Speckled Wood.
My attention, however, was drawn to numerous Cadisflies "hunting" over the leaves. On closer inspection these proved to be quite distinctive, rather reminiscent on a "devil" profile. Luckily they were also easy to identify as Mystacides azurea. 
I was hoping for a bit of a mushroom fest, but they proved to be rather thin on the ground. The best were several Chanterelle's - all a bit munched.
 Mystacides azurea, Typical ventral view, showing red eyes, dark cape and the black "horns". On closer inspection the "horns" are enlarged pedipalps which the males were sweeping across the leaf surface, presumably search for the females scent (as below)

The best of what was left of the Chanterelle's.

For today's jaunt, the original plan was a trip to Whiteford sands on the Gower, but late new of a probable Icky Warb at Peterstone Great Wharf, saw my self and Phil go for an early morning dip. 5 fly over Yellow Wagtails and a fly by Whimbrel were about the best we could manage, and just as we were leaving two Sparrowhawks flew into a nearby tree - a male and a female. Both were juvenile birds, so presumably siblings.
On returning home, it was just a little too late to head down to the Gower as the traffic would have been building up so I decided to wander round Craig Evan Layshon Common for the first time in a few years. Bird wise the highlight was a pair of Wheatear and a pair of Kestrels. I managed to connect with Heather Collete's bees, but strangely the only one's I could find were in the old quarry, with none on the heather elsewhere.I did managed to pick up a couple of new spiders, the common ground spider Drassodes cupreus and the rather smartly marked Steatoda phalerata, and a new leaf beetle, Sermylassa halensis.
                                           Drassodes cupreus 
                                            Steatoda phalerata

                                           Sermylassa halensis

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Wall to Wall

With a free day, I decided to check out Site A for Red Grouse. The walk out was quite quiet with nothing on show until I reached the raised bog. A couple of Snipe flushed, but I couldn't see them, a couple of Skylark flew over, and a Meadow Pipit flew by, but overall it was quiet. A ring-tail Hen Harrier flew past, but no sign of any Grouse. Fresh droppings hinted they were still around. After about an hour I turned around there, about 30m away on a ridge stood a Red Grouse. As it disappeared over the ridge a second birds head popped up. My best view ever at this site.

Once I made it back to the forestry edge, the sun had brought out the butterflies. Highlight were two Wall's

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Robertstown Fungus

I been checking on my Earthstar for a couple off weeks but no change, they still look like a couple of onion sets. I walked on a little bit more today and I checked where I had saw them in the past and I found these two beauties.

I was walking the dogs over Robertstown east last night and I found what I thought were some cracking Fly Agaric but after going back over today they all got bites on them. I found six in total.
 I found these near the Earthstars, any ideas boys
Last up I found a load of Meadow Thistle Gall and I checked the fly online and it looks a cracker.