Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tawny Owl

After cat napping in the chair this afternoon and only having 3 hours sleep last night I decided I needed to take the dogs out. I went to Robertstown and to a wood that two years ago I had the brilliant pleasure of spending three weeks with some tawny owlets. I tried last year to find them and had no such luck. Well today I went in the wood and I could hear the Blackbirds alarming and I thought I wonder. I found this first owlet straight away and on looking closer I managed to found this second one although it was a little bit distant. It suddenly dawned on me they were still alarming and has I walked a little bit up the path I found one of the adult Tawny Owls. It was having a right outing with a couple of Blackbirds, a Jay and lots of small birds mobbed it, it took of and the mob followed it and I could still hear it being mobbed in the woods in the distance.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

I forgot about these

Hispaniolan Parror
Hispaniolan Maskess Curlytail

Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo
Cracking Spider sp on Saona island in Dominican Repubilc

Tir founder Fields

A quick walk around the fields this morning but no sign of the Little Egret and the Garden Warbler James Burton had a couple of days ago sung briefly but then went silent. It was pretty cold and I think it was maybe thinking  more about feeding. There were two male Reed Warblers singing, I had 3 Whitethroats and the Water Rail was making contact calls, I think a good chance they have young. On the old canal I had my first Odonata of the year and it was this Large Red Damselfly, I hope things start picking up now. I found this nettle and I thought I had a new species for science but on looking close I could see it was a Dandelion flower behind and yes should have gone to specsavers. Merthyr Tunnel tonight, 1 Wood Warbler, about half way down towards the tunnel showing really well on the left hand side .

Cwm Cadlan

A late afternoon walk around the reserve today produced my first sightings of Cuckoo of the year. Two were flying around the edge of the top field near the ruin. Only other bird of note was a Tree Pipit which I picked up on the way back down.

I then had a quick walk up to the limestone pavement unfortunately no Dotterel present just the usual suspects.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cwm Cadlan or Cefn Cadlan Neigh

Sunday morning I was up bright and early and on my way to the limestone pavement above Penderyn to do the yearly search for Dotterel. There seemed to be Wheatear all over the Lower and Upper Cadlan and it looked like there had been a fall in the night. Up on top was fairly quiet at first but has I got to the first bit of limestone I could here a Cuckoo calling below in the forest, I picked it out sitting on top of a conifer where it was being mobled by Meadow Pipits. The Meadow Pipits and Skylarks seemed to be waking up and starting to display perhaps even birds have a lay in on a Sunday. Has for the Dotterel no sign and after hearing later there were two near by at Crickhowell and who knows maybe they have changed their stop site. Also on site I found this Mare with a very young  foal. I also found Marks pony carcass, it was striped clean, it would have been great to see when fresh (yes maybe a peg needed or two) but would  have been great to put a hide up and seen what comes into feed on it. I can hear my wife saying that hide you bought thats struck in the corner in the box unopened and I would say but Phil would not get all his food in it.The Wheatear's on site have paired up and have set up territories.

I find the moble phone signal on the Cadlan is pretty shocking and makes me wonder if maybe this is the mast on this Rams head. It's always great too see cyclists when parked and not stuck behind them  like Phil was once coming over the top.

This area had a Grasshopper Warbler in it which took me ten mintues to find. I would say I like bird song until I am trying to pin down a Gropper. A Green Woodpecker started drumming and I did not realize how loud it was and it sounds like distant machine gun fire and at the same time a male Redstart was sitting on a branch singing and after hearing one last week it was great to see one. I heard about half dozen later.
On the Cwm Cadlan Reserve it was great to see the common butterwort and it will be great to see the tiny purple flowers again, it's a very smart insectivorous plant and great to have on our doorstep. There where two more Cuckoos calling, one was on site and another was over the Quarry and in the Bod Estate.  There were at least two male Tree Pipits on the reserve doing their parachuting displays. I also went looking for Phil's Whinchat but no sign, it must have been a passage bird and the local birds have not turned up yet. I did have two male Reed Buntings also a female. I also found this Fox but sadly it did not die of old age and you would think has its a Reserve this would not go on but maybe better one shot instead of being ripped apart by dogs.

After see Drinker moth Caterpillar last week at CCG it was nice to takes some photos  this week.

I found some tracks, thoughts on them maybe Hedgehog again .


As usual for April there has been a slow trickle of dunlin through with the highest daily count occurring yesterday with 7 birds being present, plus the bird below. Yesterday morning the bird was on the southeast bank, a stiff NNE blowing with a low powerful sun plus a watchdog of a grey plover spooking everything when ever I got near meant crap views and even worse images. I returned yesterday evening but failed to locate.
I returned this morning and noted the bird with 2 normal dunlin working their way north along the west bank between the waters edge and the rush. I hid my scope and tripod and proceeded on hands and knees towards the waters edge, hoping to be in place so the birds would be walking towards me. I was soon joined by 2 bullocks who thought this was great fun, but provided me with added cover [hopefully Professional Indemnity].
I could not make out a split supercilium or any signs of a mantle V which sadly rules out broad-billed sandpiper. The bird appeared to have an identical feeding action as the accompanying dunlin with the side on silhouette / topography indistinguishable. As for plumage, the mantle and coverts appear to be dunlin but I'm ready to be corrected. The flight shot below appears to support the theory that the bird is an aberrant dunlin or dunlin hybrid, I hope I'm wrong. [ps this is the answer Phil and myself came up with yesterday over a cup of tea and biscuits while viewing some crap distant blurred images].
White bellied bird in front with 2 dunlin following.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Bits and bobs from the last couple of weeks.

A couple of photos from the last week or two. It's always great to see your first Comma I also found my first Long Tailed Tits nest of the year, they seem to like gorse and makes you think how many of these works of art go up in smoke when kids set fire to it.

Cracking bit of Green Woodpecker poo and to think this is all bits of ants .

Over the last couple of weeks I been taking part in a rust survey for Glamorgan Fungus Group on facebook and have been looking down a fair bit for it. They are looking for Nettle Rust Puccina Urticata and two different Rusts on Lesser Celandine. I been seeing yellow for days. The rusts are called Uromyces Flcariea which is black and like a mole on your skin and Uromyces Dactylis which has yellow spots. Also the last two are Bluebell Rust Uromyces Muscari and last one is Nipplewort Rust Lapsana Communis which is the only one I have not found in the valley yet or heard of it before.
I also found this Caterpillar on Nettle and I been told it's a Angle Shades Caterpillar.
This is Uromyces Dactylis
and Uromyces Flcarine,
Mark and myself found this poo and had a good old sniff has you do and it had beetle wing case in it and turned out to be  Red Fox.
It's alway great to whistle a Chiffchaff in and get a close encounter also it's always a relief to see it's a bird and not some ringers playing a tape.
A Willow Warbler having a sing off with a Meadow pipit and the Willow warbler knocked the pipit off the higher perch .
Peacock butterfly from Tir Founder fields last Saturday also this Greylag in with the Bog Bean which is looking great at this time of the year.

Chaffinch in Aberdare Park.

Rhaslas grey plover

Busy today but managed to call in briefly at 10:00 hours, grey with a thin mist just clearing. Scoped the east bank from west of the pool and I initially dismissed the above as a golden plover but thought no it looks too big. It's the first record for the pool and it appears to be the most northerly record for the shire. The bird was still there when I left, feeding on the east bank, also dunlin[3], common sandpiper[2] together with all the usual suspects. There is a growing expanse of mud at Llwyn-onn, just common sandpiper today but something may turn up. At Llangasty; dunlin[3] and a common sandpiper.

Last Minute

At the last minute I decided to have a weekend away so a quick look on the net and I booked a night's B & B in Churston in Devon.

I arrived an hour early to book in so I nipped down to Broadsands to have a look at the Cirl Buntings. However the car park had a lot more beach huts there than normal and right in front of the place where seed is dropped for the birds. Also a learner driver was doing laps around the car park. Not a good start and no Cirl's were seen. I walked up onto the cliff but it was very quiet out in the bay as well.

I then booked in and walked down into Brixham through some back lanes, fields and woodland. Birdlife was quiet but did have a few butterflies, loads of Orange Tips, Brimstone, Speckled Woods, Holly Blue, Peacock and Small Tortiseshell.

First port of call was obviously to have fish and chips and very nice they were too. The tame turnstones around the harbour gave good entertainment has I ate a Blackcurrant and Clotted Cream ice cream (Mike you really have to try that one). Thinking after all that food I should do some walking so I went around the harbour and right out to the end of the breakwater. Only thing of note were two Greater Black Backed Gulls literally trying to kill each other, how any of them flew away was amazing it was so vicious.

Eating breakfast the next morning I looked out of the window where I saw three Wheatears worming with the local Starlings on the local playing field.

I then went up to Berry Head. The only other time I had been there was with Rob to see the female Sardinian Warbler which must have been 9 or 10 years ago. The weather was too good for migrants and out to sea there were plenty of Fulmars and Auks. I did however pick up a new butterfly for the year a Wall Brown.

Next stop was Labrador Bay, a new site for me and I picked up 3 Cirl Buntings fairly quickly, not even a year tick !!!

I then drove to Cockwood but could not find the resident Slav. Grebe. A quick walk around the front at Dawlish also produced nothing. The weather had turned quite chilly by now so a hot meal was in order. The Ship Inn at Cockwood done the goods with a fantastic Sunday roast.

Driving back home the weather turned better has I got to Somerset so I decided to call into Shapwick. Has I opened the door of the car a Cuckoo called to my right but I could not locate it. I walked down towards Ham Wall but the reserve seemed quiet. I continued down to the next viewing platform where things started to pick up. I think it was just that right time of the evening where the birds started singing again. Reed Warbler was my first year tick, Bitterns started to boom around 7 in all, two more Cuckoo's were heard, Sedge Warblers were calling, lots of Blackcaps were around and a few Great White Egrets in flight. 5 March Harriers were observed and best of all after searching through the Teal I managed to find a stunning drake Garganey. Also a pair of Pochard flew past calling, what an unusual sound which I have never heard before.

I must admit this was the best evening's birding I have had for ages, the light was great, really peaceful with hardly any people around and of course some fantastic birds.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

BBS winners and losers

As ever the BBS provides something to ponder. This mornings visit produced a number of winners and losers.

The losers were Mountain Mars Bars and Chiffchaff's with only one of each recorded. No Stonechats, but that's not unusual for the early visit.

The winners were Dunnock, my biggest count ever. and Wheatear, a pair were my first on site for some three years.

Best sighting was on the walk home, when a female Goosander flew out of a hole in a tree stump.

Water Shrew

Dead water shrew this morning, I've never seen a live one, opposite A470 underpass leading from Abercanaid to Webbers Pond. Most of the keeled tail is missing which would have reduced its hunting efficiency but cracking pair of rear hairy feet, reminds me of Phil 'The Hobbit' Hill😀. Plenty of willow warbler and black cap with just occasional chiffchaff and then only when away from the A470. No redstart in the local woodland yet and worryingly, my dipper appear to have disappeared off the Taf fronting the length of the village, c2-3 pairs (I hope its just my hangover).

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Up till now I've only managed to see four species of butterflies on the wing in the UK, and never more than 1 species on a day. Taking advantage of unexpected afternoon at home I just stayed very local to the house - probably traveled no more 500m from the house. In that time a managed to see 5 species, 3 for the first time. It started with the first of 3 Holly Blues, followed by several Speckled Woods (first seen last Monday). A Small White was next up (first recorded two weeks ago). Next up a Orange Tip, followed quickly by a Comma.

Other first sightings for the year included a fly over House Martin, a Hawthorn Shieldbug, Ashy Mining-bee and a probable Grey-patched Mining-bee.
probable Grey-patched Mining-bee - note the patches of grey/white hairs along the side of the abdomin

                                           Holly Blue
                                           Hawthorn Shieldbug

Monday, 17 April 2017


I called in briefly this morning 08:00 hours; noted greenshank[2] feeding on southeast bank, took the sheep track below south dam and managed to get a record shot without flushing. Birds still loafing when I left, also present a single dunlin and the drake scaup. Slow trickle of single swallow, most wheatear appear to have moved through. Working the rest of the day, see you.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Male Mayfly Moult

Checking the moth trap on Saturday morning, don't ask, I found the above on the garage wall. As genital mutilation is required for identification I, nursing a hangover, decided we both would be better off without it.  At Rhaslas, despite the north winds its still a little slow on the wader front with only 4 greenshank on the 12th and the occasional common sandpiper being present the last couple of days.

GK were very skittish, very vocal, but nice to watch them trimming their wings as they flew into the wind, just like a yacht. I met Paul Davies doing his BBS on Saturday, he also regularly walks the site in the evening after work and confirmed that at least 1 hen harrier wintered here again. As we talked the slow trickle of swallow was joined by a strange looking wheatear, my first house martin of the year. Ho hum and a happy Easter to all our readers. Also 2 linnet about with c12 wheatear this morning, drake scaup still present with 4 tufted and a pair of mallard. White wagtail [4] on 15th .