29 July 2012

Marsh ponies at Pwll-y-froga

(c) S.J. Stewart

Valdivia Duckweed in Swansea

Definitely one to look out for: Every single aquatic plant pot being sold in Wyevale, Llansamlet was contaminated with Valdivia Duckweed (Lemna valdiviana), so it’s not difficult to see how these new aquatics spread. Note also most pots were similarly contaminated with Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides)!

25 July 2012

Dragon hunting

male Sothern Damselfly
A good day for Odonata at Cefn Bryn and Broad Pool yesterday. A total of 12 species seen here including Black-tailed Skimmer, Black Darter and Southern Damselfly.
male Emperor Dragonfly
On the way to Gower I stopped at Pluck Lake and found 10 Species on the wing. The Red-eyed Damselfly were on view and a good showing of Black-tailed Skimmers here too.

For more details on numbers and further images from yesterday afternoon please visit the VC41 Dragonfly Blog  Click here

24 July 2012

Glow-worms at Whiteford

Glow-worm female (c) H. Oates
Howard & Ros Oates saw four female Glow-worms during an evening visit to Whiteford yesterday and took this lovely image. The map below shows that Glow-worms are thinly distributed across lowland areas of Glamorgan.

23 July 2012

Good weather!

Xylota sylvarum
Following that prolonged period of "good weather for ducks" (or should that be duckweeds?) it was nice to get out on an insect foray, today. The wind didn't help much, and the diversity of insects flying was a little disappointing. However, I did manage a new hoverfly for me, Xylota sylvarum. It's not uncommon and can be found along wooded edges in much of southern Britain. I saw 2 today and both were striking in their behaviour, where they appeared to be dancing over the leaves and flying short distances between them, almost working the plant systematically. It's quite a big hoverfly and when I first saw it I thought it was going to be a wasp.
female Common Dater
The route I took today started at Resolven and followed the Neath Canal for a few hundred yards before working along the Neath River towards Glyn-Neath, as far as the Borrow Pits. A mass emergence of Common Blue Damselfly has occurred at the Borrow Pits with easily 1000+ in the vegetation and along the shore. Good numbers also of Common Darter and a few Golden-ringed Dragonfly. Other notables included Kingfisher, Dark-green Fritillary and Black & Yellow Longhorn Beetle (Rutpela maculata)

22 July 2012

A new duckweed in Wales?

Lemna valdiviana
The article on duckweeds in the June volume of British Wildlife prompted a closer inspection of the duckweeds at the National Wetland Centre at Llanelli last week and plants fitting the characters of Lemna valdiviana were found along with the more abundant Least Duckweed (L. minuta) and locally frequent Common Duckweed (L. minor), Ivy-leaved Duckweed (L. trisulca) and Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza). Although this is the first time L. valdiviana has been recorded in Carmarthenshire, and possibly Wales, it seems likely it has been overlooked and is worth searching for elsewhere.
Lemna valdiviana alongside greener L. minuta
[NB specimens sent to NHM have now been identified as just being L. minor]

21 July 2012

Purple Hairstreak at Melincourt

Purple Hairstreak (c) B. Spink
Ben Spink took this record shot of a Purple Hairstreak which he found on 13th July at Waterfall Terrace, Melincourt. Ben, along with Rob Corcorran, is working on an MSc project which is looking at  bat behaviour related to street lighting, in particular with regards to the new LED lights. During a site visit Ben watched, as it descended from the canopy, and rested briefly to take in some sunshine, between the heavy showers!

20 July 2012

BSBI field trip to Blaen y Cylchau

Just over the border in Carmarthenshire an excellent selection of plants were recorded during a BSBI visit led by Sam Bosanquet to the Carboniferous Limestone outcrop at Blaen y Cylchau:
view across to Godre'r Garreg Las
Soft-leaved Sedge (Carex montana)
Euphrasia rivularis
Sam, Arthur, Martyn & Steve, Frizzled Crisp-moss (Tortella tortuosa)
Andy at Carboniferous Limestone outcrop
Mountain Everlasting (Antennaria dioica)
Russow's Bog-moss (Sphagnum russowii)
Alpine Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum alpinum)
Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum)

11 July 2012

Black-tailed Godwits on the move

By the 4thJuly the Black-tailed Godwit flock at Penclacwydd WWT had increased to 236 with the following four colour-ringed birds noted by Wendell Thomas:
  L: Green/Red, R: Lime/Red
  L: Lime/Red, R: Green/Red flag
  L: White/Orange, R: Orange/Red
  L: Orange/Yellow, R: Orange flag/Yellow
Details of LR-GRf were received yesterday that reveal it was ringed in north-east Iceland on 10th July 2009. It has spent every subsequent winter at Pontevedra, Galicia in NW Spain, Wendell’s sighting being the first away from this locality. All colour-ringed sightings of Black-tailed Godwits seen at WWT are shown above with LR-GRf shown by the thicker yellow line. Still awaiting details of the other three.

08 July 2012

 Given the recent wet weather, one may as well give up on lepidoptera or aculeates or anything that requires sunshine! Molluscs are now the ideal choice! The accompanying photo shows Limax flavus, a slug that is closely associated with human habitation, favouring old mortared walls and buildings. It is a local species - I saw my first, over 20 years ago in a farmyard at Llansawel in mid-Carmarthenshire. Subsequently, I have noted it on quite a few occasions on old walls in urban/suburban Llanelli (there are old records for Swansea too). It has yellowish markings on an olive background, with blue-grey tentacles.

03 July 2012

Blue Stalked Barnacles in Caswell Bay

(c) M. Henwood

Whilst beachcombing with staff and nursery kiddies from Townhill Mo Henwood photographed this stranded organism that I was asked if I knew what it was. I’m no expert on marine fauna, but it looks very much like the Blue Stalked Barnacle (Lepas fascicularis). Unlike the Gooseneck Barnacle (L. anatifera) reported earlier on this blog here, the Blue Stalked Barnacle doesn't attach to floating objects, but manufactures its own foamy float upon which it drifts around the oceans. I’m curious if anyone else has come across this species?

01 July 2012

BSBI meeting at Llyn Fach

Karen & Alison at base of cliffs above Llyn Fach
To achieve better coverage of the lakes and cliffs at Craig-y-Llyn we split into two groups; Julian leading a group to Llyn Fawr (SN917034) with Charles and myself leading a group to Llyn Fach (SN905037). The following notes and images are from the Llyn Fach group taking on the midges of Neath Port Talbot. On our approach to the lake we were lucky to see a Chinese Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) crossing the forest track, this being my first observation of the species in the county.
Fir Clubmoss
Common Apple-moss (Bartramia pomiformis) frequent in cliff crevices
With the level of lake being high, sampling was difficult, but we did manage to find several of the key species for which the lake is noted including Spring Quillwort (Isoetes echinospora) and Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna).
Spring Quillwort
fish tank photography is cheaper than underwater gear!
The fringe of emergent vegetation included stands of Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata) and Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) grading into Molinia/Sphagnum mire, where a Small Pear-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) was noted during a short sunny spell.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
The north-facing scree slopes and cliffs above the lake provided the most interest with noteworthy species logged including Beech Fern (Phegopteris connectilis), Brittle Bladder-fern (Cystopteris fragilis), Mountain Male-fern (Dryopteris oreades), Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) & Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago).
Beech Fern
Oak Fern
Attendees at Llyn Fach: Alison Heath, Charles Hipkin, Ceri Richards, Kaz Wilkinson, Vanessa Williams & yours truly.
a sedge conference!