A pair of Yellow-crowned Weavers (also known as Bishops) Euplectes afer were seen by John Shepherd at Swansea Vale on the 25th. Today, on his walk to work, Alastair Flannagan saw them in much the same place where John had seen them and called to let me know. Whilst clearly escapes (rather than migrants from the feral Iberian population!), these African birds were particularly striking and seemed quite at home living free. To check them out for yourself, walk the new stretch of the cycle path at SS680988. Note, there are a couple of other sensitive species breeding at the site so please stay on the track.
27 May 2014
PWC is now in its second year and provides a great reference point for those who have a regular birding patch. For more information about the challenge you can read HERE. I promise if you take the plunge it will make you a keener and more appreciative observer, not just of the rarer species but equally so the commoner ones. What's more, there's very little effort required above whatever time you want to spend looking at your patch.
|2 Avocets south of Loughor Bridge 18th May 2014|
|(c) M. Fordy|
If you're as sharp-eyed as Joyce and are lucky enough to spot these tiny triungulin larvae, identification is actually easier than the adult beetles, these being the larvae of the Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus. See an excellent identification article HERE.
20 May 2014
|(c) G. Howe|
|(c) G. Howe|
16 May 2014
|© Darren Coombs|
Darren was able to take a very nice photo showing the distinctive dorsal fin profile. At this point the nearest Risso's was about 1.5km from our position and approx 1km offshore. After we first saw them they initially started drifting towards Sker Point, but later changed direction choosing a heading towards Swansea Bay.
There were at least 2 individuals that were seen breaching in the same field of view on a couple of occasions. Indeed, there may well have been as many as four Risso's Dolphins present when it seemed that Darren and I had very distant views of 2 breaching Risso's Dolphins in different parts of the bay. However, it was difficult to be certain of this. The behaviour of the dolphins initially suggested (to me) that they were foraging, but when they were distant their behaviour showed far more social interaction. A full breach was noticed once with some only marginally less impressive splashy breaches seen more frequently. There was also some repeated body-slapping by one individual that can be best described as multiple belly-flops.
I've seen some decent stuff over the last few years locally but seeing Risso's Dolphins in this area is something I would never have dreamed of. It was just incredible.
10 May 2014
Cwm Du Glen
Nine of us and Sam the dog braved the elements this afternoon for a walk, arranged by Elen Richards (Woodland Trust), in Cwm Du Glen (Pontardawe). This valley, which is accessed from Pontardawe Cross, is beautiful at any time of year, but at the moment it is simply stunning. The Upper Clydach River was a torrent of water today, where dippers were busy feeding their fledglings and grey wagtails were foraging on rocky, riverside slabs. The river corridor with its typical riparian woodland has lots of native Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra), banks stuffed full of mosses and liverworts and a colourful flora including Bluebell, Wood Anemone, Sanicle, Yellow Archangel, Wood Sorrel and Wood Melick. Ferns are abundant everywhere.
Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. montanum)
The steep sides of the valley support woodland that used to be full of Rhododendron. However, the Woodland Trust has recently done an excellent job of removing this invasive alien here, restoring a more natural Sessile Oak woodland ecology. We were rewarded with singing Wood Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher which was foraging in characteristic fashion from the side of the river.
Sessile Oak woodland, Cwm Du Glen
This was the first of a number of Cwm Du Glen events that the Woodland Trust have arranged for this year. Most of these are family orientated.
06 May 2014
|100+ plants of Field Pepperwort at Sker Farm 30th April 2014|
|Ripening seed capsule of Field Pepperwort |
showing characteristic vesicles (shiny blobs)
|Smith's Pepperwort (left) and Field Pepperwort (right)|