29 September 2010

WWT Pectoral Sandpiper

I received a couple of shots from the 'Pec Sand' finder, Wayne Davies today. Although very distant Wayne's taken some very nice shots including this really interesting flight shot. Bird still there again today (per Wendell Thomas).
Pectoral Sandpiper by Wayne Davies
Pectoral Sandpiper by Wayne Davies

28 September 2010

WWT's turn for a 'double'

Following hot on the heels of the Glossy Ibis seen at WWT on the weekend, this Pectoral Sandpiper was picked out by Wayne Davies on the same pool just north of the British Steel Hide. Digiscope montage showing all the angles, but hopefully Wayne will have a better shot.

Garden Moths

Quite a mild night produced 20 species in the moth trap here in Gorseinon, new species for the year including Flounced Chestnut, Blair's Shoulder-knot and Large Wainscot (photo below).

27 September 2010

Loughor Bridge sunset

Quite a nice sunset this evening so we popped down to the bridge to take a few images. Not many birds around, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits the most interesting. Earlier this afternoon there were 4 Curlew Sandpipers just to the north at Loughor Foreshore car park.

Turtle 1

Just to copmlete the picture of last weeks bird-bonanza, here's a very fine portrait by Jeremy Inglis of the adult Turtle Dove that appeared by the West Cross Inn. I think Jeremy first saw it on Thursday, though some of the locals said it has apparently been present since last Tuesday, and still there today I understand.

net-winged beetle

Platycis minutus is a Nationally Notable B species belonging to the family Lycidae (net-winged beetles). It was photographed by Paul Parsons at Garnwen (just over the border in Bridgend) last week and identified by Steve Bolchover. The NBN shows only two other recorded 10km squares Glamorgan.
Well worth keeping an eye open for this distinctive species, but as there are superficially similar looking species a photograph would be essential for confirmation.

PS. Check out some of Sid's excellent wildlife art at http://aartsid.weebly.com/

26 September 2010

Bobolink revisited

Paul Parsons aka 'Sid' kindly sent me what appear to be the only useful record shots of the Bobolink, added here for the record. It was pointed out to me today that the Kentish Plover, the Bobolink and now the Whiskered Tern have all been found by different Maesteg birders this year. All I have to say is keep up the excellent work boys and girls! A+

Parasols at Oxwich

We came across these fine specimens of The Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) at Oxwich today. Image taken by Sand.
Not being up on mushrooms, check out what mushroomexpert.com has to say about this species at http://www.mushroomexpert.com/macrolepiota_procera.html 

25 September 2010

Eglwys does it again!!!

Only days after Paul and Kelly's Bobolink discovery, Jeff Slocombe and the boys come up trumps with another top bird from The Rez ... this stunning juvenile Whiskered Tern ... fingers crossed it's there tomorrow morning! Many thanks for these fabulous images Jeff.

Whiskered Tern by Jeff Slocombe

Whiskered Tern by Jeff Slocombe

... Two Turtle Doves and a ...

When looking for the Turtle Dove seen by Jeremy Inglis yesterday at West Cross (see http://www.glamorganbirds.org.uk/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1285359242), Martyn Hnatiuk found a different bird at Blackpill. Sand and myself popped down there this afternoon and we could only find the juvenile bird at Blackpill, which Sand managed to get some very nice shots of. No sign of any Partridges!

24 September 2010

Lapland Bunting ...... again!

Many thanks to Dean Bolt for finding this fabulous bird at Sker today. It looks like a different bird to the one found recently, nearby on the Haul Road. So what's so attractive about these places to these birds? In a conversation which Mark (Hipkin) had with Martyn Hnatiuk at the last Lapland Bunting event, Martyn had said that the Lapland Buntings he had seen in the past were often found in places with lots of knotgrass. That was good observation. Today's bird was in 'knotgrass heaven' spending most of the time foraging in Equal-leaved Knotgrass (Polygonum arenastrum), of which there is a huge amount at Kenfig and Sker. It seemed to be consuming whole flowers as well as seeds. This is useful to know if you are searching for these birds on migration in our area - look for good patches of knotweed. The photo above and the one below show the bird and the knotgrass, but look at Mark's video in the following post to get a better appreciation of the foraging behaviour.

Lapland Bunting at Sker

GOS indoor meeting tonight

Just a reminder that at the Swansea Environment Centre tonight there will be an illustrated talk ‘Birds of Southern Jordan’ by Ian Tew. Ian is an entertaining speaker and always has excellent images so hope to see some of you there...

23 September 2010

Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit at WWT

Received details this morning of the colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit reported by Wendell Thomas at WWT Llanelli in late spring.

When combined with previous reports fromm WWT, quite a clear picture unfolds of the origins of the birds that visit the Burry. Many thanks to all those who report details of these birds.
NB. The latest published figures (Waterbirds in the UK 2008/09: The Wetland Bird Survey) show a mean annual max of 476 for the Burry, this just exceeding the International Threshold for this species currently set at 470. This month’s maximum count of 820 at WWT should raise the ranking of this species in the national tables.

22 September 2010

Mystery plant?

David Painter photographed this mystery plant at Llanelli North Dock dunes. I have a feeling it may be White Mullein (Verbascum lychnitis), though not sure without having a look in the field. If anyone can identify the species with more certainty I'd be grateful.

Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner

If you have a Horse Chestnut tree growing near to where you live, check it out to see if the Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner (Cameraria ohridella) has reached your area yet. This rapidly colonising micro-moth can cause significant leaf damage, but is unlikely to kill a tree (see http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/forestresearch.nsf/ByUnique/INFD-6YUB8B).

Here are some images taken yesterday at Murton Green showing early and late stage mines and another type of similar-looking leaf browning.
early stage mine

late stage mine

leaf damage mimicing mine (note darker edges and lack of crescentic marks of real mines where larva has been feeding)
Please report if you do find signs to help monitor the spread of this atractive little moth. You can chek out what it looks like and the distinctive feeding signs (note that some fungal growths can look similar) at http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=2900. The map below, shows the recorded distribution in Glamorgan to date:

Moths in Nitten Field

44 species of moth were recorded at the Nitten Field yesterday morning by myself, Chris Manley, Bob Rigdon and Veronica Shenston. Highlights included Galium Carpet, Red-green Carpet, 4 L-album Wainscots, Feathered Ranunculus, Flounced Chestnut and a Convolvulus Hawk-moth, the latter being a rather uncommon migrant and one of largest species.
Convolvulus Hawk-moth

There were also a couple of Sexton Beetles (Nicrophorus investigator) and Dor Beetles (Geotrupes stercorarius). No idea what it means but Stercorarius is also the generic name for skuas.
Sexton Beetle

21 September 2010

Here yesterday, gone today!

No sign of the Bobolink today (yet) so I've resorted to the old fashioned method of bird imagery - pencil and paper. Neil I think I'll have to loan you a plant book, for reference this is Hogweed; you had me looking all over for Dock ;o)

20 September 2010

Big square for Glamorgan

It's not often we get a square this big in Glamorgan on the Birdguides map, so I thought it was worth recording the event for posterity. Hopefully someone will manage to get some decent photographs of the bird itself, though it proved very elusive today after initially sitting in full sun on a Hogweed plant for about a minute. Why didn't I get my camera out! A big thanks again to Paul and Kelly. I believe Thomas is Kelly's surname, though I think she may be remembered as Kelly Bobolink from now on. Not a bad bird to find on your first ever birding outing with uncle Paul. You couldn't make it up!

Bobolink at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir !!!!

A Bobolink was found earlier today by Kelly "Bobolink" Thomas and Paul "Sid" Parsons at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir. Much respect is given to these two who not only found it but recognised it as being different and got good enough views to identify it and got the news out quickly. Thanks also to Martyn Hnatiuk who gave me the call.

About the size of Skylark but much more boldly marked especially around the head and back. A very noticeable yellow wash to the bird that was noticeable in flight.

This will be the first North American passerine to be accepted to the Glamorgan list so a significant find indeed. First of many I hope!

Only my second North American Passerine in the UK the other also in Wales being a Baltimore Oriole.

This bird brought up my 150th species of bird for Neath Port Talbot this year. I was hoping it would be a bit special but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be this good.

Birders from throughout the UK will be making their way to Eglwys tomorrow so knowing where to go will be a case of follow the crowd.

I got good views of it in the open early on and again near last light when it was skulking in the grass next to the road in the South- Eastern corner at SS79948439

18 September 2010

Fungi in Afan Argoed

The season of mellow fruitfullness looks pretty fruitful for fungi in Afan Argoed this year (try saying that after a few glasses of wine!). Just a few photos of what is on view in 'the park' at the moment:
The Sickener (Russula emetica) is one of the most common toadstools of conifer woodland in Britain. This striking, red toadstool is found commonly under Sitka Spruce in Afan Argoed. This is a poisonous species with a very hot (like pepper) taste.

Much less common nationally, but in the spruce forests of Afan Argoed at the moment is the Slimy Spike (Gomphidius glutinosus). The slimy, greyish cap, the way the gills run down the stem (decurrent) and the yellow colour at the bottom of the stipe are characteristic features.

And lastly, a very distinctive Red Data List species aptly named Salmon Salad (Guepinia helvelloides), which occurs in Afan Argoed in association with Japanese Larch and Sitka Spruce.

Oxwich Marsh ringing

The last ringing session of the year at Oxwich Marsh this morning saw a few Sedge and Reed Warblers still lingering. There were also a couple of Cetti's Warblers, 1 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaffs and a very handsome Snipe.
Juvenile Sedge Warbler

Male Cetti's Warbler ringed Aug 2009; surviving last winter. 

Tail pattern of Common Snipe

Lapland Bunting at Kenfig

This fantastic Lapland Bunting was found by Adrian Murch and Graham Holmes on the monthly bird walk at Kenfig. Martyn Hnatiuk later re-found the bird enabling me to spend the least amount of effort getting onto it. This was great because I had spent 5hrs earlier this morning at Crymlyn Burrows searching for the same species, to no avail! Thanks to all finders and re-finders ;o)

To try for this bird. Follow the yellow route from Kenfig carpark to Sker point. When it reaches the haul road (the track that runs along the coast) turn right, heading towards Port Talbot. The bird was last seen to go into the longer grass and scrub on the right of the track 100yds along. There is a large dark non-natural rock in this vicinity SS78948035

last week at Llanrhidian

It's been a busy week and I finally found time to sort a few images. This of one up to seven Ruff seen on the marsh last week. Spot the Snipe too, hiding behind the Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis), a speciality of Llanrhidian's upper saltmarsh.

Small waders seem to have disappeared from the Salthouse Point roost, though there were 230 Knot present a couple of days ago.

16 September 2010

Strumble Head

Out of this world! Well outside this county anyway. I took a trip down to Strumble Head, Pembroke's premier seawatching location with Dave Lewis today. The passage was exceptional by my own experience and I enjoyed a day that I'll not forget.

The birds recorded today were as follows
Leach's Petrel - 120, Storm Petrel - 1, Sabine's Gull - 9, (3 adults), Long Tailed Skua - 3, Pomarine Skua - 4, (2 adults with spoons), Bonxie - 38, Arctic Skua - 13, (7 Lp, 6 Dp), Black Throated Diver - 1, Red Throated Diver - 2, Sooty Shearwater - 1, Balearic Shearwater - 9, Puffin - 1, Common Scoter - 48, (3 female), Black Tern -11, Little Tern - 2, commic Tern - 46, Sandwich Tern - 75

I managed to see most of these birds except the Sooty and Storm. I would also like to say a big thank you to Richard Davies, Richard Dobbins, Graham Rees et al for good company and sharing some very useful id tips. Good luck with the rest of the season and I hope to see you all again sometime soon

By saving this link you can easily follow how the Strumble 'boys' fair for the rest of the Autumn http://www.pembsbirds.blogspot.com/

15 September 2010

Welsh Ornithological Society conference

Details of the WOS National Conference 2010 can be found at:
The next national WOS conference, in association with RSPB Cymru and BTO Wales, will be held on Saturday 6 November 2010 in Carno Community Centre, near Caersws, Powys. It's the only annual opportunity for Wales' birdwatchers to gather, share news, meet new people, learn about our country's avifauna - and don't forget the opportunities to see and buy wildlife art, books and multimedia.

Dates for your diary

The Gower Ornithological Society's winter programme is as follows:
[NB. Meetings are held at The Environment Centre, Old Exchange Bldg, Pier St, Swansea SA1 1RY. Please arrive 7.00pm for 7.30pm start.]

Friday 24th September 2010
Illustrated talk on ‘Birds of Southern Jordan’ by Ian Tew.

Friday 22nd October 2010
Illustrated talk on ‘Birds of south-west Canada’ by Derek Moore.

Friday 26th November 2010
Short AGM followed by ‘Highlights in 2010’ by Barry Stewart.

Friday 28th January 2011
Bird Quiz given by Bob Tallack.

Friday 25th February 2011
Illustrated talk entitled ‘A year through a digital lens’ by Richard Smith.

Friday 25th March 2011
Illustrated talk entitled ‘Estuary Birds’ by Harold Grenfell.

Wood Sandpiper, Llanrhidian 11 Sep 2010

13 September 2010

Clathrus ruber in Gower

Chinch Gryniewicz wrote 'This is a Red Cage, aka. Latticed Stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber) fungus - found on south Gower, which is very exciting, as it is not only a first-time record for Gower, but for Wales!!. Pictures were taken on 1 September 2010'

(c) Chinch Gryniewicz 

(c) Chinch Gryniewicz  
This has to be one of the most striking fungi in our area, if not the UK!

Grey Phalarope at Eglwys

The Phalarope Man aka George Morgan lived up to his nickname by finding yet another Phalarope! George found a juvenile Grey Phalarope right by the entrance in the North-east corner of the reservoir. Conditions were a little choppy but I did manage to take a bit of footage of this cracking little wader. Cheers George on another very nice find!

12 September 2010

Yellow Wagtail (Cardiff v Swansea)

It always surprises me how scarce Yellow Wagtails are in West Glamorgan when compared with the eastern half of the county. The coastal levels around Cardiff and in Gwent seem particularly attractive to the species and Kenfig/Sker usually does pretty well too with double-figures regularly reported from these sites during the autumn. Here in the west of the county, Wernffrwd appears to be the best place to look for the species and Rob Taylor managed to take this fine image of one at this location yesterday.

"All aboard the Wheatear"

There has been a good passage of Wheatears this past week, with double figures on sections of the saltmarsh around the Burry. Mark Newton captured this shot of one bird which has obviously adopted a different migration strategy!

More of the Big Tide

Sian Musgrave wrote: 'Here are some pix I took at Pwll Du and 3 cliffs Thursday and Friday. You can see the storm surge going up the river at 3 cliffs on Friday morning with the weather and wind behind it....taken just before the weather closed in and I got really really wet!!'
View seaward from near Pennard Castle
View landward from near Pennard Castle
View into Pwll Du Bay

BIG toadstool!

Charles' posts inspired me today to 'have a go' when Sandra spotted a very large fungus in the lane down to the seawall adjacent to the WWT reserve at Llanelli. When I picked it 'milk' was readily produced and the large size and pink gills readily identify it as Lactarius controversus a milk cap fungus associated with poplar and willow. It appears to be not that common nationally, though where we saw it it was very abundant, and with each cap being almost 1' across it made quite a striking sight.

Cracking day at Eglwys

A really good day at Eglwys today with nice stuff throughout the day.
One of the four juvenile Black Terns that were flying around the res today

Also today, this adult Common Tern with Black-headed Gulls. A 1stW Little Gull was flying flying around the res too. This is a different bird to the two seen here, earlier this week. Barry has also recorded Little Gull in the Burry Inlet recently so it is obviously a good time to see this species.

One of the 2 Whinchat that were feeding in the scruby area under the pylons on the South-western side of the res.

Two of the four Whinchats near the road that runs out to the beach through Margam Moors. Also in this area a Yellow Wagtail was feeding amongst the cows briefly today.

Peregrine at Neath Saltmarsh

I stopped off at the Neath Abby roundabout on the way down to Eglwys early this morning. When I got there this Peregrine was already tucking into a bit of breakfast!

11 September 2010

Poisonpies and Porcelain Fungus

The Poisonpies (Hebeloma) are a difficult group of toadstools to identify. They produce brown spores so their gills tend to be coloured clay-brown and some of them have a raphanoid smell, i.e. of radish or raw potatoes. Bitter Poisonpie (Hebeloma sinapizans) is a medium to large toadstool with a strong raphanoid smell and a cap that is pale tan in colour, often fading paler near the edge. In wet weather the cap tends to be quite slimy to the touch. The stipe has scurfy scales on it. Common Poisonpie (Hebeloma crustuliniforme)is similar but usually smaller with a less scurfy stipe.

Briton Ferry woods, where this photograph was taken of Common Poisonpie, has both species.
The name Poisonpie derives from the pie-like appearance of the cap with a burnt pastry look in the centre. But that’s where the similarity to cakes ends! Most Hebeloma species (perhaps all) contain some nasty gastro-intestinal toxins, so they are rather poisonous.
The large, mature Beech plantation in Briton Ferry woods has a diverse fungal flora that contains many typical beechwood species like the beautiful Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida). It is an unmistakable species with a name that describes its appearance perfectly. It grows on the trunks of deciduous trees, particularly Beech.