31 May 2010

Lliw Valley reservoirs

Mark Newton provided proof of breeding for several bird species at Lliw Valley last Friday, including Wheatear and Redstart. He also photographed one of two male Cuckoos and the longhorn beetle Rhagium mordax.

30 May 2010


I took a walk to Pwlldu today to see how the Red Hemp-nettle (Galeopsis angusifolium), listed as 'critically endangered' was doing; although not yet flowering around 200 shoots were noted. Other noteworthey plants from a list of around 180 species included Basil Thyme, Horseshoe-vetch, Juniper and Sea Carrot.
View into Pwlldu Bay from Cliff above Seven Slades. I have not been to this site for a good few years and was surprised at the level cattle-grazing.
Red Hemp-nettle starting to show on the shingle ridge; the plants seem to have a very restricted distribution on the ridge
Wood Spurge and Black Bryony growing amongst the Bracken in a managed area on the cliff slope to the east of Pwldu.
There were also good numbers of Small Blue and Wall butterflies, a few Brown Argus and Dingy Skippers plus the migrant moth Rush veneer. A Heather Ladybird was also seen on a plant of Marjoram.

27 May 2010

Unveiled,Mystery Wader at Eglwys

Visit to Eglwys Nunydd this afternoon didn't produce much of any note, birdwise. However, I bumped into George Morgan who was able solve the Wader Mystery! This was first brought to light in this earlier posthttp://goweros.blogspot.com/2010/05/dunlins-at-eglwys.html

It was George Morgan who had found a summer plumage Spotted Redshank around the 15th May 2010. Congratulations go to George, on a very nice local patch record and also Bernie Beck who had his money on this species. Cheque's in the post, Bernie!

Butterflies from today included 11 The Wall (Lasiommata megera) and 1 Small Blue (Cupido minimus). These butterflies were braving the wind and in sheltered spots around Margam Moors

26 May 2010

... and more garden fledglings ...

Our first Starling fledgling appeared in the garden today alongside the sparrow fledglings which seem to be faring well.

Little Thorn at Melincwrt

This Nationally Notable B moth was recorded by Jenny Colley in her garden trap last night, this constituting a new record for the10km square SN80. It is very scarce in the west of Glamorgan having previously only been seen at 3 other sites. It occurs in woodlands where Bilberry grows in the field layer, but is clearly very choosey about which woods it inhabits as it appears to be absent form many sites that seem potentially suitable.

Great White Egret at WWT Llanelli

This splendid breeding-plumaged bird was found on the outer scrapes by Frank Cross this morning. Rob Hunt, who also saw the bird on the Gwendraeth Estuary two days ago, reckoned that it's the same bird. Text from Wendell Thomas to say that it flew out onto the estuary (Carms side) at 11:30am.
View from Mike Powell Hide across to Machynys and Gower
Bird unringed

25 May 2010

Marsh Fritillaries on the wing.

Paul Tyrrell wrote: With the warm weather this weekend many insects and butterflies were on the wing. Best of all, the first of the Gower fritillaries, this Marsh Fritillary (Eurodryas aurinia) is one of our less common butterflies, found in south and west Wales and the south west of England.
[Great photos Paul. I believe that Kathryn Thomas NT assistant warden  saw the first Gower Marsh Fritillary for 2010 on 17th May at Welsh Moor. If anyone can beat that, or have any sightings of this species, then please let me know.]

Bishop's Wood Biodiversity Blitz

Chris Manley, David Painter, Veronia Shenston and myself joined other recorders last Saturday evening as part of the 24 hour Biodiversity Blitz event organised by the City and County of Swansea's Biodiversity Unit.
Although temperatures dropped quite quickly and moth numbers weren't great for the time of year, we did manage to notch up 75 species including the following local species: Phycitodes saxicola, Cream Wave, Grass Rivulet, Golden-rod Pug, Small Seraphim, Scorched Carpet & Beautiful Brocade

Small Waved Umber - larvae feed on Traveller's Joy

Scorched Carpet - larvae feed on Spindle

Pseudoswammerdamia combinella -
a small species infrequently recorded

We also found 7-spot, 10-spot, Cream-spot, and Harlequin Ladybirds, the latter a very recent arrival to our area.

Harlequin Ladybird

24 May 2010

Melincourt Valley

A trip to Melincourt Valley today in the hope of some Pied and Spotted Flycatchers. No sign of either species today, unfortunately. There were some other good stuff around though. 4 Wood Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 5 Redstart and 3 Tree Pipits. Also, continuing the theme of high Cuckoo numbers this summer, 4 individuals were around the fields above.

This Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) was a nice surprise. Flying around a clearing in the wood near the wooden bridge that crosses the brook.

The Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris) were quite numerous along the track above the main wooded area

Lots of Butterflies on the wing and also 20+ Brown Silver-lines (Petrophora chlorosata) easily disturbed from the taller grasses.

More fledglings...

Been so busy recently I've not found time to make many postings, but had to share this one today from Baglan ... feed me, feed me!
It's a critical time for many species, like this Wheatear, so lets hope the good weather continues...

23 May 2010

Purple Gromwell

Purple Gromwell (Lithospermum pupurocaeruleam) is a rare plant of scrub and woodland edges on calcareous soils. Although very rare in South Wales, it is one of a number of special plants found in the cliff woodlands near Oxwich in Gower. The name Lithospermum means ‘stone seed’, a reference to the very hard seeds produced by plants that belong to this genus. The common name, gromwell, is less easy to explain. Geoffrey Grigson suggested that it may be derived from the old French word gromil, (grey millet), again a reference to the seed, but probably referring more to Common Gromwell (Lithospermun officinale), which can also be found occasionally in Gower and a plant that was called Grey Millet in some parts of Britain.

Photo (21/5/2010) and text by Charles Hipkin


Thats about as far as my knowledge goes on this one I'm afraid. On a forestry track near Glyn-neath if that's any help with habitat.

22 May 2010

The Wall near Glyn-neath

Nice butterfly day near Glyn-neath today with 2 The Wall (Lasiommata megera) and 35+ Green-veined White (Artogeia napi) mainly heading west with the wind. Also late afternoon 6 Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) flying around.

19 May 2010

East-European Mediterranean Gulls

It's surprising how far away from home some of our visiting Med Gulls are, especially those that turn up in the breeding season. This Polish bird was ringed as a chick the previous summer from a point further east than the Serbian bird I reported last year.
Should you be fortunate enough to come across a red-ringed Med Gull, it would be worth making the effort to try and read the number as it's likely to be of East-European origin.

First fledglings

After several very poor years for Greenfinches, it was gratifying to see a family group with recently fledged young out of the kitchen window today. Unfortunately they flew off by the time I got my camera, but there was by then a juvenile House Sparrow ...
... and a male that was already in full advertising display and ready to go again!

Dunlins at Eglwys

With news of an Alpine Swift over Cardiff yesterday, last seen heading West, I thought I'd give Eglwys a go this morning. No Alpine, but a few alpina around the reservoir. I saw three Dunlin together first thing on the Southern edge and much later 14 on the Northern edge.

Although the water levels have dropped over the last few months, the reservoir edge is still (mainly) steeply sloping concrete, and the waders do seem to have difficulty landing on this surface.
Also a bit of 3rd hand news, a walker told me today that a birder had seen a tall, spotted wader on the muddy area behind the yacht club, recently. The birder apparently also demonstrated some delight with his find. My money is on Ruff, but who knows? Hopefully we'll find out what it was in due course?

18 May 2010

Port Eynon Seawatching

A bit of seawatching from Port Eynon this morning didn't produce what I was hoping for, but nevertheless proved to be a worthwhile trip. The stars today were the Harbour Porpoises. At least 6, and maybe 10 or more, well spread out. At least 3 spent a lot of time off the point and around the buoy. A few Kittiwake were hanging around hoping to steal a few scraps.

Over 200 Manx Shearwater were feeding in the bay along with Gannets and Auks, with 100+ Swallow in off the sea in 3 hours. Also moving today were 116 Common Scoter passing west in parties up to 25 birds.

17 May 2010

Small Blue at Eglwys

Late news from Saturday. A brief visit to Eglwys Nunydd Res on Saturday produced 2 Small Blue Cupido minimus. The one in the photo was next the horse's paddock north of the res and another east side of Margam Moors

Only noteable bird news from Saturday was a single drake Pochard on the res.

16 May 2010

Last week's Wood Sandpiper

Just received this great shot of the Wood Sandpiper at WWT Llanelli last week taken by Brian Thomas. The bird was found by Rob Taylor on the 9th from teh British Steel Hide, although it only hung around for 30 minutes or less.

More fron national moth night

Just a couple of moths from the garden trap. My first hawk moth of the year, a Poplar Hawk and the master of disguise a Red swordgrass, and in the spirit of coalition a Sexton beetle Nicrophorus humator which was sharing an egg box with the hawk moth.
David Painter

National Moth Night 2010

Chris Manley, David Painter, Veronica Shenston, Bob & Trish Rigdon, Gwyn Roberts, Dorian & Catrin ? and myself attended a NMN bash at Nicholaston Woods last night. A total of 44 species was recorded, the highlights being Ypsolopha mucronella (new for SS58 and only the 3rd vc record) and 3 Orange Footman (new for SS58 and the 5th county record). Other species recorded of interest were Maiden's Blush, Cream Wave, Small Waved Umber, Oak-tree Pug, Yellow-barred Brindle, Scorched Carpet, Square Spot, Yellow Belle, Marblerd Brown and Least Black Arches.
Ypsolopha mucronella (c) Chris Manley
Orange Footman (c) B. Stewart

15 May 2010

Around and about Llanmadoc

Highlights from a morning ramble with Veronica Shenston included Common Gromwell (Lithospermum officinale), Hound's-tongue (Cynoglossum officinale), masses of Cowslips (Primula veris) and four good patches of Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata) below...
A few invertebrates of interest were seen including the red-and-black bug Corizus hyoscyami, several Hairy Footed Flower Bees (Anthophora plumipes) and the pot beetle Cryprocephalus aureolus below... 
The distinctive larva of the oil beetle Meloe proscarabaeus was also noted... [obviously not as distinctive as I thought, as after chatting to Ben Rowson, it seems it far more likely that this is the larva of Bloody-nosed Beetle, which is associated with Cleavers]

14 May 2010

Eiders at Loughor Bridge

Eiders on the Burry with Penclawdd in the background
The annual Eider migration from Whiteford to Loughor Bridge took place today ... and then they all went back again on the receding tide! Why they do this every spring is beyond me? 31 birds counted (17m, 14f). Also 36 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 180 Oystercatcher and 6 Gadwall. The Common Seal was still present a couple of days ago on its favourite sand bank at SS559979.
Very calm conditons made for a few good photo opportunities ...
... view from Bynea looking towards Gowerton

Red Headed Cardinal beetle

I found this in the garden. Something to brighten up a dull grey day. Predatory on other insects. Adults take flying insects from flowers and leaves, the larvae feed on larvae of other decaying wood-feeding insects living under the bark of broadleaved trees.
David Painter

Tree Sparrow update and plea for records

Andrew Lucas wrote yesterday: I made an early morning visit to the main west Gower site today. I'm afraid the news is not good.

Firstly, despite being on site for over an hour, I didn't see any tree sparrows. There were plenty of other species in evidence (house sparrow, pied wag, chaffinch, goldfinch, yellowhammer).
Secondly, no sparrows in any of the boxes. In fact box use has been very low this year. Just three boxes in use (2 blue tit, one great tit) out of 20 boxes. Occupancy is usually more like 40%+.

Thirdly, I've broached the idea of a bird cover crop with the owner, but he's not interested. The bit of fallow land to the north which is always grass (which I though might be a possible location), can't be ploughed and seeded because it is too rocky.

So the most recent records are from Barrie Swinnerton, of two, briefly on 24 April, and one on 11 April.

Whilst it's way too early to say that we have lost tree sparrows for good - they can be very elusive when nesting at low densities - this is a worry. I'd be grateful for any other sightings, or negative reports, that anyone may have from the last few months or so.

Terrapins on the loose!

Jeremy Douglas-Jones photographed these two terrapins (presumably Red-eared Terrapins Chrysemis scripta) at Broad Pool, which he saw there on the 12th and 13th. Jeremy expressed concerns about these reptiles possibly breeding and taking their toll on the local wildlife. If anyone has first-hand experience of adverse effects from these animals I'd be interested to hear. I saw the regular five in the top collection pond at WWT last Sunday also enjoying some sun; to my knowledge these animals have never bothered the collection ducks there and seem to coexist quite happily. As regards breeding, I suspect our climate is not warm enough for this, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
Just checked the database and I noticed that Mark Newton saw two Red-eared Terrapins at Broad Pool on 29th May 2006, which I suspect were the same individuals. Other places where these animals have been seen in recent years are Singleton Park, Gnoll Lake and Country Park, Fendrod Lake and Graigfelen, Clydach. I'd be interested to know of anymore sightings elsewhere in our area.

Butterfly sightings

Paul Tyrrell wrote on the 10th: After the cold and wet weather we have had over the last few days, it was nice to see the sun again and with the warmer weather there were plenty of butterflies about, I saw this Green-veined white (Pieris napi) in Cheriton valley and this male Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) on Whiteford Burrows.


Peter Douglas-Jones wrote: A series of little shots on my mobile. The big prints might be curlew and the small ones whimbrel, but who knows? They were on Llangennith beach this morning [13th], above and below the highest point the tide had reached. The smaller bird drags it's hind toe; but in some shots the larger bird does the same.
Peter, my guesses would be Curlew (or maybe Oystercatcher) for the larger print and Carrion Crow for the smaller one with the long hind toe and dragging claw.

11 May 2010

Osprey at Crymlyn Burrows

There was a report yesterday on the Glamorgan Birds website from N.E. that "the now familiar sight of an Osprey" at the Neath River. I'm not sure how long this bird has been around, in any case I was very pleased to catch up with it today. Nice one N.E. great record. I was on the beach when, on two occasions, about an hour before and an hour after high tide, the bird successfully caught a fish at the rivermouth. I informed Barry Stewart about the sighting and he mentioned that it may be the same bird that stuck around for a while last autumn. I hope for this to be the case, and I wouldn't mind betting that this bird will show around high tide in the same location tomorrow. I would also suggest viewing from the Baglan side of the river. The beach was busy with waders once again today with 12 Bar-tailed Godwit(1 in summer plumage shown above), 1 Whimbrel, 118 Sanderling, 87 Dunlin, 45 Ringed Plover and 2 fine summer plumage Turnstone doing what they do best in the video below

09 May 2010

Garden visitor

As it would not show its head, mainly as the dog was barking constantly, I thought the spines might make an interesting photo.