Monday, 31 July 2017

Pentwyn Reservoir VC42

Dropped in at 09:15 and osprey perched in Scots Pine on northeast bank, went back to car for camera and it had gone. Eventually got a high distant flight shot as it returned to fishing at the north end, still present at 09:30.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

when is a tick not a tick?

A short walk out this morning, didn't produce and large mammal sightings but a number of smaller critters took my attention.  The first was an Orange Ladybird - I've only see one of these prior to this year, but I've seen several so far this year - followed by a Red-legged Shieldbug/Forest Bug.

My first new species was the small Soldier Fly, Black-horned Gem Microchrysa polita sitting on a Sycamore leaf. This was followed by finding the egg sack, and attendant female spider, Paidiscura pallens, a species Mark put me onto a couple of years ago, under another Sycamore leaf. 

  Black-horned Gem

  The "sputnik" shaped egg sack and attendant mum of Paidiscura pallens

The same leaf also sheltered several Common Sycamore Aphids, Drepanosiphum platanoidis including two that appeared to be sat over some form of spangle gall. A bit of investigating has discovered that the "gall" is, in fact, the cocoon of the parasitoid wasp Dyscritulus planiceps. A check on NBN Atlas shows only 6 records for this species across the UK, and none in Wales! Is it that rare, or just overlooked? It might be worth looking under the leaves of Sycamores to see if you can find any aphids apparently sitting over a 2-3mm wide disk.

                                 Mummified Sycamore Aphid and Dyscritulus planiceps cocoon

As I didn't see the wasp itself, so whilst the species is recorded, can I tick it?

Friday, 28 July 2017

Cwm Cadlan Tonight

Driving back on the A470 south from Brecon tonight I decided to turn off and drive over Cwm Cadlan. Weather conditions were not ideal with mist and rain.

However things improved when a young fox cub kept crossing the road in front of me, shameful to say I think that is my first fox sighting of the year. One hundred yards up the road things got a lot better when a badger run across in front of the car, not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination so I was well pleased.

Holy Moly

 When I was walking the dog over Robertstown north last week I found this dead Mole and I was amazed how big the front feet were, they were like to bullnose shovels. The only downside was there were no Sexton Beetles on its body. Also over the field was my first Leucozona Glaucia Hoverfly and always great to see these colourful Hoverflies. Also of note I see Mark had Alder Tongue fungus in Cwmdare yesterday and when I checked an Alder I had walked passed hundreds of times this morning I found it staight away. Maybe because it's just coming out it's lighter and easier too find.

Thursday, 27 July 2017


Picked up a juvenile marsh harrier to the southeast of the pool at c08:30, watched it make a kill then take c40 minutes to eat, process and excrete before continuing hunting. Within minutes it had made another kill, this time to the east of mid pool. Cracking, the flying equivalent of Aldi's Rum Raisin & Nut.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Phone call from Phil this a.m. alerted me that 9 Common Scoter had been reported from Rhaslas. I was on the hospital run so couldn't get there until 11:30 when 7 birds still remained. Birds still present at 17:10 when Geri noted them when walking the dogs. Well done to the early morning birder, second record for the site, Geri had 3 in April 1997.
No mud at Rhaslas, (no summer water extraction, no dust suppression at Ffos yr Fran, no one cares) so waders thin on the ground at the moment with just occasional singles of redshank (image from the 18th), dunlin, little ringed plover and common sandpiper.
I think this my first black-tailed skimmer from Rhaslas (image from the 6th) has anyone else had them there.

Monday, 24 July 2017


An early start on Sunday saw myself, Martin Bevan and Phil head over to Nottinghamshire to catch up with the breeding Bee-eaters, and hopefully getting better views than our previous visit to the breeding bird on the Isle of Wight. It was quite overcast on arrival but it wasn't long before we heard our first Bee-eater call, alarming as a Sparrowhawk flew over. Not long after the first bird was seen hawking over one of the gravel pits before perching on a distant tree. It wasn't long before it was joined by a second bird. The light remained poor and the birds distant to allow for any decent photographs. After over a hour, with up to 4 Bee-eaters showing we headed back to the car, but not before we had great looks of two perched quite close to the main road on the overhead wires, allowing great photo opportunities.

Such a great looking bird, but surely wrongly named It's an A*-eater!

We then followed that with a trip to Fermyn Woods to try for Purple Emperor. No luck with the Emperor but we recorded 40+ Purple Hairsteaks, a single White Admiral, many Silver-washed Fritilary(to his shame, these were Mr Bevans first fritilaries of the year)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Right Place, Right Time

Driving over to Merthyr Common this morning, I saw to my right a young Cuckoo sitting on a wall. I managed to take one very bad photo with my phone before it flew onto another wall a little further away. I noticed a layby just along the road so pulled in, grabbed my camera and started to walk back then realised my battery had gone. Run back to the car, changed the battery, looked around and was pleasantly surprised to see a Meadow Pipit right next to the Cuckoo with food in its mouth. I only managed to rattle off a few record shots.

Sunday, 16 July 2017


Mark recently posted on Facebook a picture of what he believed was the harvestman Dicranopalpus ramosus, a species that has colonised from the mediteranean area over the past few decades. The species is, or was, easily identified by it's habit of siting with all 8 legs stretched out to the side. I say "was", as a response to Marks post indicated a second species of Dicranopalpus was now recognised and had been found in the UK, D. caudatus. 

A bit of a Google search found a paper on the two species, that included some useful photographs. D. caudatus is a slightly smaller beast that D. ramosus, but the shape of the "body" appears sufficiently different to allow either species to be identified. This sent my looking back through my photo's.

It looks like I've managed to photograph both spp this year.

This, I think, is a female D. ramosus as the body clearly broadens behind the rear legs.

whilst this is, I think, a female D. caudatus, lacking the noticable broadening of the body behind the legs, what broadening there is, is slight. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Slim pickings

Not much free time the last month or so and when I did get out, usually in the wrong place and/or the wrong time. Called in at Rhaslas this morning and hopefully passage is kicking off with 2 dunlin and a single common sandpiper present. At the Neuadd on the 5th a very vocal juvenile common sandpiper and several keeled skimmers using the rush shrouded streams where once a reservoir stood. At Talybont reservoir on the 1st 3 common sandpipers and 3 little egret. Moth wise a shark in the garden trap on the 28th June was a tick.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Perciverence pays off

After been shown my first Broad-leaved Helleborine by Mr Bevan a few years back I've been searching my local woods for the species, to no avail..... until this afternoon when I stumbled upon two plants. Both had been damaged but were still full of life. One had just opened it's first flower.
A couple of critters from this afternoons walk.
                              The "Mediteranean" Harvestman Dicranopalpus ramosus.
                                           Orange Ladybird
                                         Orange-legged Furrow Bee Halictus rubicundus

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

a second bite at the cherry

After the disappointment from the disappearance of the Caspian Tern last Friday when the news broke yesterday that it had returned to WWT Llanelli, it was a no brainer - a flexi day was called for.

The birds appearances looked to be tide dependant, or certainly it was more likely to turn up when the tide was in. With todays tides at 3 am and 10 to 4 this afternoon, and I needed to be back in Cardiff for 6pm, I decided on an early start to see if I could connect with the Tern before it headed out into the estuary. The stumbling block was that the centre doesn't open until late in the morning (09:30). But I had a cunning plan.

Arriving at 7am I made my way along the coastal footpath to a slight rise that provides a view, or sorts, over some of the British Steel scrapes. The first birds noted were the 3 Spoonbills, busy feeding, but no sign of the tern. After about half an hour the Tern flew into view before dropping down and was only just visible through the grasses and rushes. It soon moved an offered good, albeit distance views. Unfortunately a Peregrine dashed through putting everything up and the tern was lost to view.

Eventually the centre opened and I made my way to the Millennium wetlands were the tern was soon found flying around.  A quick dive, and it resurfaced with a sizeable fish in its bill, which it proceeded to swallow whole in flight whilst avoiding the harrassing Black-headed Gulls, and then it headed off out onto the estuary.

I wandered round the reserve, picking up a few bits and pieces, 3 Four-barred Longhorns were nice finds as well as my first Orange-spot Piercers

I eventually ended up in the British Steel hide around 1pm, which contained a number of birders desperate for a sighting of the tern. Suddenly it was there resting with the Black-headed Gulls and we enjoyed prolonged views for at least 30 minutes. It was then off to the cafe for a celebratory coffee and cake - Wher's Mr Gaze when you need him? (probably on holiday again).

                                                           The Tern
                                          Four-barred Longhorn
                                          July Highflier (?)
                                          Southern Hawker
                                          Yarrow Plume