Friday, 22 June 2018

today at Caerau

Caerau old pit reclamation site, Maesteg [SS8694]

4 Forester were seen today all pretty worn, also seen  were a 1000+ 5-spot Burnet. I have recorded both species of 5-spots here in the past [through larva ID] and both colony areas had adults on the wing. The other feature of today were the large number of butterflies on the wing which included 100 Small Heath, 50 Meadow Brown, 10 Ringlet, 40 Common Blue, 5 Dark Green Fritillary, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, 10 Small Skipper, 5 Large Skipper and a single Dingy Skipper.

 Typical Forester habitat
 5-spot/Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet
 Small Copper
Plant Bug - Calocoris roseamaculatus

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Iceland 2018 (part 1)

I have just returned from a five day trip to Iceland, where I finally got to see Harlequin Duck (52) and Barrow's Goldeneye (295). Excellent views were had of both species.

Other birding highlights included Whooper Swan (1650), Pink-footed Goose (631), American Wigeon (male), Greater Scaup (320), Common Eider (7650), King Eider (male), Long-tailed Duck (77), Rock Ptarmigan (4), Red-throated Diver (51), Great Northern Diver (27), Slavonian Grebe (31), Merlin (2), Gyr Falcon (2), Purple Sandpiper (12), Red-necked Phalarope (283), Arctic Skua (43), Long-tailed Skua (1), Great Skua (1), Brunnich's Guillemot (300), Black Guillemot (2), Puffin (274), Arctic Tern (5350), Iceland Gull (1), Glaucous Gull (286), Short-eared Owl (3), Eurasian (Icelandic) Wren (2) [a future split ?], Common Redpoll (25) and Snow Bunting (11).

A total of 72 species were seen in 5 days by our group, of which I saw 70. The two I missed being Grey Phalarope and Knot. I'll write up and upload a report over the next few days. Until then here are some of the bird photos I took. Other photos will follow in other posts. It was the wettest and coldest June on record since the 1800's for Iceland.

 Arctic Tern - common breeder, this one inches from the road
 Barrow's Goldeneye - common around Myvatn Lake
 Lots of flocks of Common Eider on the sea, this one also contains a male King Eider, can you spot it.
 Glaucous Gull
 Harlequin Duck - all males
 Long-tailed Duck - pair
 Pink-footed Goose - non breeding flocks like this gather together before flying to Greenland to moult, leaving the best pasture land for the pairs rearing young.
 Rock Ptarmigan - 2018 was a good year for this species, with this individual "Terry the Ptarmigan" wandering around our campsite oblivious to human disturbance as was many of the species.
 Red-necked Phalarope - feeding on the myriad of black flies on Myvatn Lake.
 Common Snipe - another species breeding feet from our lodge in Lake Myvatn area.
 Redwing - the commonest passerine and were literally everywhere.
Whooper Swan - lots of breeding pairs on the lakes and fields and large flocks of non breeding birds gathering on the lakes.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Blaencaerau coal-tip reclamation site

Very warm today (26c), so waited till 5 p.m. before going for a saunter around the local patch.

19 species of hoverfly were seen highlights being Anasymia contracta, Pipiza austriaca and Eristalis intricarius. All the usual bees were headed by the first of the year Patchwork Leaf-cutter Bee. Plenty of moths around today, with a freshly emerged Forester Moth feeding on Slender Thistle-heads, this is the only modern-day site in Glamorgan for this species. It flew just as I clicked the photo button - bugger. Also first of year in 5-spot Burnet, Dichrorampha pettiverella and Pandemis cerasana. Butterflies included lots of Small Heath and Common Blue, with a few Dingy Skipper and Small Skipper. Only Large Red Damselfly present at the ponds. Longhorn beetle Pachytodes cerambyciformis and other beetles like Oedemera virescens and Green Dock Beetle present. Cuckoo's calling from both sides of the valley and a pair of Stonechat were feeding young, Tree Pipit still displaying and a distant buzzard may well have been a Honey Buzzard, but just to far off to be sure. New blooms keep appearing now, 8 today with the best being Smooth Tare. The tips are now covered in Southern Marsh Orchid and Western Marsh Orchid.

 5-spot Burnet
 Anasymia contracta
 Eristalis tenax
 Forester Moth habitat - emergence seems to coincide with flowering Slender Thistle.
 Stonechat male
Celypha lacunana

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Lower valley bits and bobs

Over the last couple of days I've been visiting a number of small areas in the lower valley, staying for 1/2 hour at best in one place. So here's a photographic round up of the highlights not yet blogged.

 Chrysotoxum cautum
 Merodon equestris
 Volucella bombylans
 Myathropa florea
 Tachina fera
 10-spot ladybird - scarce chequered form
Common Blue

Monday, 4 June 2018

Little Thorn @ Darren Woods

 I found a Little Thorn at Darren Woods today, it is new for the valley. Little Thorn is regarded as a nationally scarce species and there are only half-a-dozen records for Glamorgan.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Garnwen 02 June 2018

A busy day up Garnwen with Cherry Laurel and Hawthorn attracting 35 species of hoverfly Highlights included Criorhina berberina, Criorhina floccosa and Chrysotoxum arcuatum. While new for the year was Cheilosia proxima, Volucella bombylans, Volucella pellucens and Xylota jakutorum. I also have a couple of interesting Platycheirus that when keyed out take me away from Welsh species.

Other insects were plentiful, 5 species of butterfly were headed by Dingy Skipper. 3 species of odonata were headed by 4-spotted Chaser. Lots of beetle species with Pachytodes cerambyciformis (longhorn) being the best. 14 species of moth were seen including an early Cinnabar, Micropterix aureatella and an influx of Silver Y migrants.

Cuckoo and Tree Pipits were ever present and quite a few Columbine flowers were along the rides.

 Cheilosia illustrata
 Sphegina sibirica
 Volucella pellucens
 Xylota segnis
 4-spotted Chaser
 Small Heath
 Dingy Skipper
 Garden Chafer
 Pachytodes cerambyciformis
 Micropterix aureatella
 Red-necked Footman
 Mottled Umber caterpillar I think

Friday, 1 June 2018

Common Clothes Moth new for valley

A while back the county moth recorder convinced us that all the clothes moth seen around the house would be Case-bearing Clothes Moth (Tineola pellionella) and not the Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella) which is probably extinct in Glamorgan. I haven't had any clothes moths now for a number of years. So the ones before were recorded as Case-bearing clothes moth and i can vaguely remember sending a specimen off to him which was later confirmed.

Wind on to the present and last week I read a report on the internet that the Common Clothes Moth was making a come-back for various reasons and numbers were being recorded all over the country. Low and behold I started getting odd glimpses of clothes moth when I turned on lights while entering rooms in the house. Bit of research on the internet lead me to Amazon where you can purchase sticky pheromone traps for various species. Within a day of putting them up (today) I had trapped a single Common Clothes moth on my lure, this being the first for the valley. My Case-bearing Clothes Moth trap is so far empty. At the moment my Common Clothes Moth trap is downstairs and the Case-bearing Clothes Moth trap is upstairs. I'll switch them round after a month to see what happens. Common Clothes Moth prefer carpets, while Case-bearing clothes moths prefer clothes, linen etc.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Blaencaerau coal-tips reclamation site

A rather heavy and sultry day was not helped by the stiff breeze from the north-east. 2 Tree Pipits were still displaying and a Cuckoo was seen calling in close. Otherwise breeders look like 6 Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, 4 Grasshopper Warbler and plenty of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. 2 pairs of Stonechat, 1 pair of Skylark, 5 pairs of Meadow Pipit and 2 pairs of Goldfinch.

Hoverflies were in short supply but I did record 19 species, one of which needs to be confirmed as I think its a new one for the valley [update later if so]. The more interesting species included. Anasymia contracta at three locations, Eristalis intricarius and Parasyrphus punctulatus.

On the insect front Common Blue and Small Heath butterflies are now emerging. Plenty of Large Red Damselfly and Tree Bumblebee headed the common bee species Day flying moths included Ancylis badiana, Glyphipterix thrasonella and Grapholita compositella. Longhorn Beetle Rhagium bifasciatum was again seen on Hawthorn Blossom, but Guelder Rose was seemingly devoid of insects. I also found a small conical shell Snail on Yellow Iris and it has been identified as a Large Amber Snail (Succinea putris), which is new for me if not the valley.

22 new blooms for the year were headed by Water Forget-me-not, Ragged Robin and the first Southern Marsh Orchid.

EVENING UPDATE - 3 male Nightjars at Foel Fawr, Caerau holding territory and very cagey, which probably means the females are on eggs. 4 pairs of Swift over Caerau at dusk.

 Large Red Damselfly
 Large Amber Snail
 Southern Marsh Orchid
path along the site of the old railway track to the former coal mine now a good site for hoverflies.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Cwm Darren Woods, Llangynwyd

With Hawthorn now in full bloom, Cwm Darren Woods exploded with hoverflies and other insects today. I recorded 30 species something I haven't done before in May. The most noticeable feature today were the masses of Pipiza species everywhere. Pipiza austriaca is easy enough to Identify but the other four species are not and need to be netted or potted for ID. I have looked at some specimens under magnification in the pot and I think I have another 2 species (noctiluca, lugubris) at least with another specimen suggesting a rarer species (fenestrata), but will have to wait till the end of the year when Roger Morris (Hoverfly Scheme Recorder) does the determinations of my specimens. Another welcome site was the return of the common hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus. This fly migrates from North Africa every year and lays its eggs in the autumn. Over the last few years it has been mild enough for the eggs and larva to survive, so March and April the adults start emerging and numbers then build up with new arrivals. But this year the bad winter must have killed off all the larva and none were seen in March, April and the best part of May. Today however the first batch of presumed migrants touched down in the valley with good numbers recorded. New for the year included (beside the Pipiza and Episyrphus) Myathropa Florea. Good species were also recorded in Parasyrphus punctulatus, Cheilosia fraterna, Rhingia rostrata, Sericomyia lappona and Melanostoma mellinum.

Other insects were noticeable on the Hawthorn including 2 Longhorn Beetles in Rhagium bifasciatum and Pachytodes cerambyciformis. The usual bees were headed by Tree Bumblebee and moths included Silver Ground Carpet. About 15 new blooms were seen for the year with Guelder Rose now in bloom. Odonata were represented by Blue-tailed, Azure and Large Red Damselfly and Broad-bodied Chaser. Wood Warbler and Tree Pipit were the pick of the birds as well as large numbers of Song Thrush (20+).

 Azure Damselfly
 Silver Ground Carpet
 This tiny ladybird which I am presuming is a 10-spot Ladybird without the ten spots, flew out of the bushes and landed straight on my arm, bit me and started drinking my blood, something I haven't seen ladybirds do before. After a bit of research I found that when the aphid population dies out and they run out of food and water, they are not adverse to biting humans for nourishment, Even prolonged spells of good weather has its drawbacks.

 longhorn - Rhagium bifasciatum
Episyrphus balteatus
 Pipiza - a myriad of these were seen today but can't be ID'd from a photo with confidence
 Myathropa florea
Cheilosia impressa - the all dark legs and yellow bases to the wings in the females separate this species from all other Cheilosia (36 species of them),