10 February 2017

Great White Egret

Great White Egrets are no longer quite the rarities that they used to be, but they are still far from common and are very impressive birds. I was lucky enough to be at WWT on Wednesday when a Great White Egret put on a real show. The bird came very close and the light was bright. The photos largely speak for themselves:










Little Egrets were also active and one came close enough to the Great White Egret to allow a clear view of their relative sizes.




05 February 2017

Fulmars at Fall and Mewslade

For most of the year Fulmars are a welcome feature of the cliffs in the Fall-Mewslade section of coast. They usually disappear out to sea for October and November but there are usually some around the cliffs in all other months. In January-February the numbers usually increase and this year is no exception, there being about 20 birds in the Fall-Mewslade section this weekend. Breeding Fulmars lay only one egg per year, usually in the first half of May. In both 2015 and 2016 a pair of Fulmars succesfully bred on a ledge on the east side of the cliff known as Lewes Castle, adjacent to Fall Bay. The juveniles fledged in September each year. I have been watching this nest site quite frequently for about three years. A pair of birds is now showing a lot of interest in the site. I presume this is the same pair as previously, but I have no way of being certain. Since mid January several Fulmars have been flying close to Lewes Castle and the Devil's Truck cliffs, displaying their astonishing (to me) flying ability, using their feet to make fine adjustments as they fly close to the cliff face.



I first saw a bird on the nesting ledge in late January. This weekend it was sitting on the ledge for a long period and defending it vigorously against other Fulmars:


One bird was welcomed onto the ledge; this bird seems to be the other half of the pair. Another bird also managed to get onto the ledge for a short time.



The unwelcome bird is the middle one of the three. The actual nesting site is behind the triangular boulder on the right. It wasn't long before the interloper was persuaded to leave:


The two members of the pair then engaged in what I interpreted as pair-bonding behaviour. This "canoodling" went on for about ten minutes.

 

Although it will be another three months before an egg is laid it looks as though the pair is getting established for another successful year.

There is a well-established pair of Ravens between Fall and Mewslade. These two birds were also engaged in nuptial behaviour:



Ravens are early breeders, so the eggs should be laid soon.


30 January 2017

Still a quiet time for bugs, but some of the groundbeetles are never too far away!





05 January 2017

Gower Cameos




A new year-long blog about wildlife on Gower started on 1st January. There will be about 20 short 'cameos' each month concentrating mainly on birds and other wildlife, and also expressing what it feels like to live on Gower. These short  'cameos' were not written in a given year, rather they illustrate typical monthly events. You may wish to take a look, and click the blue 'Follow' button.

www.gowercameos.blogspot.co.uk

15 November 2016

Llangennith Burrows

A few photos from the 6th November:

Burry Holms viewed from Spaniard Rocks, with Worms Head in the background

 28 plants of Sea Stock Matthiola sinuata were counted, a plant
which seems to have increased in recent years at this site.

A less welcome plant also on the increase is Sea Buckthorn Hippophae 
rhamnoideswhich has taken over quite large areas of Llangennith Burrows

Leaf mines of the agromyzid fly Agromyza abiens 
on Hound's-tongue Cynoglossum officinale. 

A confiding Kestrel Falco tinnunculus was hunting 
beetles from a fence near the car park.

14 November 2016

Western Conifer Seed Bug

I found this Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, on a wall in central Swansea today. Although a non-native species it's certainly a large and striking bug.



Once I'd got it home for a photo, it repeatedly insisted on flying onto, and posing on, a leftover jacket potato!

Provosional identification of Tricholoma focale in Glamorgan

Tricholoma (focale?) in Pine and Larch wood, Rhigos, 13/11/16)

I'm hoping that someone who is familiar with Tricholoma, and particularly this species, can help confirm this record (or otherwise). The fruiting bodies are quite large (caps up to 10cm in diameter), and they were growing on a reclaimed coal tip under Pines and Larch (and some Grey Willow and Birch). I couldn't detect any smell from the fresh fruiting bodies. Notably there is a prominent ring on the stipe and the white spores are rather small (4.0 -5.0 microns). The youngest fruiting body in the photo above shows the ring unfolding beneath the expanding cap. Only a few species of Tricholoma have rings on their stipes, e.g T. cingulatum (which it isn't) and those in the matsutake group (e.g. T. matsutake, which has a very noticeable sweet smell). Although T. focale is widespread in Europe it is not common. In Britain it is virtually confined to Scotland although I notice that the NBN distribution map includes one location in the south of England.
The substrate in this wood is clearly nutrient poor and the field layer is carpeted in Cladonia lichens in places. There is quite a diverse fungal community here which included conspicuous amounts of Mycena cinerella, Tricholoma scalpturatum, Inocybe geophylla, Collybia butyracea and Cortinarius brunneus. The wood also has the largest population of Common Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) that I have ever encountered in Britain. I suspect that the Wintergreen here is linked via mycorrhiza to Tricholoma scalpturatum, which is present in huge amounts.