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.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


I called in at 09:15 and noted a flock of starling c300 birds foraging along hill just north of pool, biggest count of the autumn. Then the local peregrine noticed them, panic, the starling were using the twin pole high tension for refuge. The male was flying in and almost landing among them causing them to flush for the waiting female. This process was repeated 3 - 4 times yet I didn't note a kill, I wonder if they were just playing, training. Also 3 greenshank but very nervous, originally foraging along inner face of north dam but continually flushed by dog walkers, 2 ringed plover on Monday but on the whole quiet with a lack of mud.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Sker rocks and back

Today me and my youngest daughter Kathryn went down to Sker for a walk with the dogs. There was a bit of migration passage overhead and I probably had my last Tree Pipit and Redstart of the year. We also had a couple of Whitethroat, Linnet and Stonechat going down and on the  shore off the cow pond was a Single Dunlin. The fields around Sker were full of Autumn Lady's Tresses, a new flower for me and I wished I had my small lens with me to take some photos. Once we had got to Sker it was coffee time and has I sat there I heard a bird calling overhead, it took a couple of minutes to sink in that it was a Chough. It landed on the rocks with some Carrion Crows a young crow rushed over to be fed by the Chough but it was spooked and it flew off towards Porthcawl but within ten mintues it was back and was feeding along the bank. It was flushed by a dog walker and flew a short distantance and carried on feeding. I also counted 94 Oystercatcher on the beach and 45 Turnstones on the rocks. I also saw two Little Egrets, a single Curlew and on the sea I had 3 Shelduck flying west and a single winter plumage Med Gull  flying east.

I found this fish box and I also wondered how did it end up here, it's from the Netherlands, but registered to a boat from Brixham in Devon. Last thing a good old rant I got to vistors centre and I needed the toilet but it was closed. The carpark was full as far as the road and you think how many of these people would have gone into the centre and maybe bought something or took interest in the Nature Reserve, I think any other organisation running this place and it would be a gold mine and because the council  are running it's a joke. I remember when I first started going there in the eighties there was a public toilet on the side off the carpark and it was handy for when centre was closed and where is it now been demolished to save money Sorry I will put a Tenner in the swear box for the christmas drink pmsl.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Skua's in the bag

With a rare Saturday free from coaching duties and a favourable forecast I made a late decision to head over to Strumble Head for my first seawatch of the year, picking up 11 British year ticks. Arriving bright and early, about 4:50am, I was first into the shelter, but it didn't take long before others arrived, including two who had traveled down from Liverpool for the day. As dawn broke the birding began. A couple of minutes into it and I picked up 3 Storm Petrels heading past, unfortuately no one else was able to get onto these, or the next two I picked up about half an hour later. Others were picked through the day though, as usual, I failed to connect with any of these. A bit galling partic' as one was thought for a short while to be minus any white underwing bar.

It was the the turn of the Skua's to put in apearences with strong showings from Bonxies and Arctic's but the single Pom and Long-tailed were enjoyed by all (a second, Adult, Pom was picked up after I left.)

A couple of Balearic Shears looked to be the sum total of the rarer fare until a Sooty was picked up. A Summer plumage Sab's Gull was well watched as it drifted slowly past. Several Sandwich Terns and 2 Little Terns were also nice fillers for the days list.

Away from the birds, up to 4 Sunfish, and up to a dozen Short-beaked Common Dolphins joined the regular Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seals.

Friday, 18 August 2017


Found deceased juvenile brown-long-eared yesterday, you can see how they can be confused with grey long-eared. Bird wise just small numbers of the usual passage birds going through and occasional aged common darters in out of the wind sun traps.

Sunday, 13 August 2017



Mr Bevan of somewhere north of Cardiff, said "I'm disgusted that there are no police available to look into it, so I'm having to do it myself. Is this what I pay my taxes for?" A spokesman for South Wales Constabulary commented that he was unable to comment.

Monday, 7 August 2017


Those of you who are on Facebook will realise that this is a copy and paste from my post there, but I thought I'd post it here too, for those not on FB and I wasn't bloody well going to write it all again!

Up at three on Sunday morning, to do August's raven count. It was dry, mild and calm, so I was hopeful of a comfortable and easy count ... WRONG!As I drove up the valley, I began to encounter patches of valley fog and crossing the high point on my way over to Merthyr, there was hill fog too: Bugger!I was in the car and half way there, so I decided to give it a go anyway. As the ravens usually begin flying out when the pre dawn twilight is still just a glimmer, anything that reduces contrast can make the already difficult to see ravens completely invisible, so as I carried on to the roost, I hoped that they wouldn't start leaving until it was reasonably light.

My counting spot, with a fog shrouded valley behind.

View up the slop towards the roost; somewhere in the fog.
At the roost, the hill fog was patchy and although the temperatures were hovering around 7.50C, there was no breeze and it actually felt quite pleasant as I sat there, marvelling at the complete lack of bird sounds. The only sound, in fact, was the drone of petrol leaf blowers and a road sweeper coming from the centre of Aberdare town, over 1.5 miles away, as the council clear the debris from the Saturday night revels.The fog came and went, thickened and thinned, but was always there, at least in part, so it was with great relief that the ravens did indeed start leaving later, but even so, although I could see some to count, I knew I was missing others. Luckily, ravens have distinctively individual voices, so if all the members of a group are calling as they fly, it is possible to work out how many there are. Obviously, that only works for the ones that call; the the ones that don't, pass invisibly, unheeded and uncounted. I always make the count in the first half of the month, so that no two successive counts are too close together. This weekend was my first chance, but next weekend I will be unavailable, so this was my only chance this month and whatever total I got would have to stand, but qualified by the knowledge that inevitably, some birds would have been missed. As it turned out, I don't think I missed that many (probably no more than a dozen) and the total of 157, although the second lowest August count, actually continues a general downward trend.
It was interesting, while waiting for the ravens to start, to hear the single call of an oystercatcher overhead. Other birds noted were, in order of appearance: Buzzard, Robin, Mallard, Wren, Dunnock, Lesser Redpoll, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, Chiff Chaff, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Wood Pigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Stonechat.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Cwm Cadlan

I have been planning for a couple weeks to go up the Dragonfly ponds near the limestone pavement, I almost got there a couple off weeks ago with Phil but the heavens opened up. Today was hit and miss so I sat in the car and I thought I am here now so go for it. The temperature was not very warm and it was cloudy but has I got halfway up the sun came out for a bit and I thought maybe I will be lucky. When I got to the pond I found a couple of  Emerald Damselflies and a freshly emerged Common Hawker Dragonfly, it was hugging the south bank and down low in the rush but unless I had a small boat or I could walk on water I had no chance of getting any photos. So I sat down for a bit and I found this very wet Drinker Moth Caterpillar and after that things got better and I found another three Common Hawkers, The one I picked up was in area where he was being blown about so I picked it up and put it in a sheltered part to dry out and it does not matter how many times you see this it still gives me a buzz.

I found this larvae in a small flooded on  the side of the pond and I was trying to get close and slow take the grass down in front of it and it just dropped in the water and it was floating on the surface and little did I know there was nobody home and it was empty and the dragonfly had already emerged.

On the limestone Pavement there were Meadow Pipits everywhere and a couple of Skylarks and a single Wheatear and when I got back to the car I had a bird flying low over the floor and fast and I thought cuckoo but on looking closer it was this Sparrowhawk. She must have thought she was in Mountain Mars Bar central with so many Pipits, I also had a fly over Tree Pipit. Down by the cattle grid there was birds everywhere, I saw loads of Stonechat and a couple of young Wheatears and more Pipits .

Friday, 4 August 2017


Quiet couple of days with an oystercatcher flying in at 10:30 this morning, still there when I left at 11:30 trying to impress a traffic cone.

Abercwmboi Lake

I was working in Abercwmboi yesterday and in between showers I nipped over the lake to check how the swans were doing. I could see they were in the far corner with all seven youngster still present and they are looking healthy. As I stood there I could hear a Kingfisher and within seconds I had a blue flash over me. It looked at one point it was about to land but it saw me and went off like a rocket around the corner and out off sight. Has I walked around I found a load of these big fungus and as they are growing under birch I thought its a good chance that they are Brown Birch Boletes. I was also checking the Alder for  Alder Tongue Fungus and I found two trees with it on. I also saw a couple of butterflies which were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, 1 Small Heath, 1 Red Admiral and about a dozen Common Blues but apart from one male they all seemed to be female type. Also present on site I got  two Dragonflies which were Common Darter and a male Southern Hawker.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Still Waiting

Every year I go over to Robertstown north to check on the Collard Earth Star Fungus and I always seem to get there too late and they have already been damaged by the weather or people walking over them and has they grow along the path its easlier done. So this year I have been checking for the last couple of weeks and it was great today to find this one. I know its a bad photo and looks more like a bread roll but it made my day and watch this space .

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Quiet morning, just about to leave, when a single bar-tailed godwit flew in from the north at 08:30, did 3 laps before finally landing on west point. I left when the next shower arrived but by this time the bird had disappeared, also TC had a little ringed plover earlier but I failed to connect.