01 February 2016

January Butterflies

A visit to Whiteford by Stuart Thomas, Micky Maher and I at the weekend (30/01/2016) resulted in relatively little in terms of birds (based on recent sightings).  The sea state was rough and it was difficult to scan offshore, and other than 1-2 great northern divers foraging in the shelter of the Burry Inlet (we didn't see two at once but the birds seemed relatively widely separated), a female merlin hunting across the saltmarsh, some nice mixed flocks of waders and small groups of eider and pintail, our efforts got a modest return.  There was no sign of snow bunting along the strandline or of slavonian grebes off the hide.

We were surprised to see some butterflies on the wing.  A red admiral was nice, but a painted lady was completely unexpected.  Both were basking among the dunes on the leeward side of the plantation, taking advantage of warm sunny patches.  The painted lady was extremely active and fresh, and eventually chased the red admiral over the canopy of an adjacent cypress (we had stopped to try and work out the species of cypress when we saw the butterflies).  As can be see from the photos the painted lady was fresh looking, while the red admiral was more faded and worn.

Having checked with the South East Wales Biological Records Centre, this is the third January record of painted lady for Glamorgan, so a bit of a better day than we thought.

Owain Gabb

Painted lady (Stuart Thomas)

Red admiral (Stuart Thomas)

25 January 2016

Frogs are go!

Given all the mild weather we've received this winter I'm sure there are plenty of earlier spawning dates, but after a few nights of high activity I saw our first Gorseinon garden spawn this morning.

Possible Harbour Porspoise SACs

The harbour porpoise proposed SACs consultation is finally open, until 19th April and can be accessed HERE.

Grey Triggerfish at Whiteford

(c) R. Part
Rein Part sent me this image of a Grey Triggerfish Balistes capriscus that was washed up on Whiteford Beach on 5th January, possibly the same fish I saw there in a more decomposed state on the 19th? A quick web search shows that this rather exotic-looking species has increased dramatically in British waters in recent years.

18 January 2016

Snow Buntings : Whiteford

Few pics of male and female birds seen yesterday afternoon, these were two out of a total of three seen the other bird being a lone female seen in the morning.
These two birds fed and flew together so it seems likely that the single female seen in the morning was not the female which accompanied the male.
Extremely active when feeding and also very mobile.........

17 January 2016

Unseasonal Lesser Whitethroat in Llanelli

The Llanelli, suspected Central Asian race halimodendri
Steve and Ann Evans kindly invited me to view a Lesser Whitethroat (depicted above) in their Llanelli garden. They initially saw it before Christmas, but after a long period of absence, the bird reappeared last week following the onset of cooler weather. This is now the third over-wintering individual of this species that I have seen in our area, each one closely associated with a garden feeding station: Bridgend [Feb-05] photo below and Skewen [Dec-10] for details/pics, click on link HERE.
The Bridgend bird, identified as the disputed north-eastern race blythi
The Skewen bird, suspected Central Asian race halimodendri
Racial identification of these and other wintering birds is problematic and it seems even genetic studies cannot provide conclusive answers based on current knowledge of the complex. However, general characters such as the extensive pale brown tones of the mantle extending up onto the hind-neck, pale ear coverts and long-tailed/shortwinged jizz appear to place the Llanelli bird more clearly in the 'Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat' clade than the previous two birds mentioned, with halimodendri being the most likely race.

Cobalt Crust at Oxwich

Cobalt Crust Pulcherricium (Terana) caeruleum is a particularly striking fungus that is typically found on the underside of fallen logs and dead branches and therefore requires a little searching for. However, its appearance on the gatepost at the entrance to Oxwich Wood required no searching at all and provided a great opportunity for closer inspection in good light. It will be interesting to see how long the fungus persists for at this easy-to-monitor site.
For details of some of the bryophytes seen on the same visit check out South Wales Bryophytes