Monday, 27 March 2017

Blaencarau COP

Another warm sunny day for spring but with a strong cold breeze. First Tiger Beetles of the year [4] were out. 4 species of hoverfly seen with Cheilosia albipila being new for Caerau. Also a very distinctive tachinid fly in Gonia picea was feeding on dandelion and was new for the valley. 4 Gwynne's mining bee and 6 White-tailed Bumblebee were seen. 4 Chiffchaff were present [2 singing males and 2 quiet ones feeding in the understorey. Other birds included a pair of Jay, Green Woodpecker and 2 pairs of Meadow Pipit. No butterflies, day moths or new flowering plants yet.

 Cheilosia albipila - a bit out of focus [I was stretching to get photo at about 10 foot] but you can see it's furry thorax, orange antennae and wholly orange hind tibia [female only] and was exactly where the book said it would be - late march on the edge of woodland feeding high up on willow catkins. New for Caerau, there have been a few records down Lletty Brongu sewage works at the bottom/lower valley
 tachinid fly Gonia picea1st for valley - wide brown/orange forehead and white stripes on the abdomen
 Green Tiger Beetle - common in spring early summer
The kids have already burnt half the mountain area, luckily earlier than they normally burn it, so bird/nest casualties will be at a minimum.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Drren Woods, Llangynwyd

First blooms of Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone and Hairy Bittercress of the year and some Willow catkins out. 3 Chiffchaff were singing in the wood canopy. First Syrphus Torvus of the year, otherwise 1 Eristalis tenax and 20 Platycheirus albimanus were the only hoverflies.

Quick stop at the sewage works, revealed the same hoverflies plus Buff-tailed Bumblebee. Butterflies are starting to show in Comma and to my surprise a Holly Blue flying high in the Ivy covered trees but I couldn't get a photo.

Sadly no sign of my target hoverfly Criorhina ranunculi

Syrphus torvus - eye hairs clearly visible

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Parc Slip yesterday

Ventured down Parc Slip for a wander yesterday. 4 Chiffchaffs were seen, 3 were fly-catching from willows on the sunny side of the Fountain Pond and the other was in the trees near the main pool. The rest of the species were either resident or winter leftovers in 4 Lapwing, 12 Canada Goose, 16 Teal, 4 Mallard, 6 Reed Bunting, 4 Bullfinch, 2 Grey Heron, 10 Coot, 3 Moorhen, Green Woodpecker and Jay.

Primroses were in full bloom with the only other spring flowers being Dandelion and Coltsfoot. Nevertheless these attracted 2 Honey Bee, 3 Tree Bumblebee and Buff-tailed Bumblebee. Sadly no hoverflies.

On the way back home went over My. Ty Talwyn and had a better set of birds headed by Red Kite, male Goshawk, female Sparrowhawk and flock of 15 Skylark.

 Canada Goose
Primrose woods

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Blaencaerau "COP" - and we're off

Warm [17c] spring day with lots of sun, so had a walk around the COP, the only flower in bloom was Coltsfoot. But there were plenty of flies feeding on it including the first three species of hoverfly for me this year in Eristalis tenax [5], Episyrphus balteatus [8] and Platycheirus albimanus [2]. Also there was a large brown Tachind which looks like Tachina ursina [2] and an Andrena mining bee that looks like Gwynne's mining bee [5], but I've put both on irecord for conformation (both confirmed).

Also seen were 5 White-tailed Bumblebee and Frogs were calling and spawning in the old feeder pond.

Birds were also well represented in pairs of Stonechat,, Skylark and Song Thrush. Surprisingly there were 4 pairs of Bullfinch dotted around feeding on willow buds, also seen was a female Reed Bunting, Jay and a singing Chiffchaff in the pines was a first for the year.

 Episyrphus balteatus
 Eristalis tenax
 Platycheirus balteatus
 possible Gwynne's mining bee [Andrena bicolor] - confirmed 1st for valley
 possible Tachina ursina - confirmed 1st for valley

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Estonia Trip report

The Estonia trip report has been added to the trip section on the right hand side of the home page. Just click to view.

Tuhu Bog at its bleakest.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Estonia birds part 2

 "Northern" Bullfinch
 distant Steller's Eider flock at Undva Bay, Saaremaa Island
 Velvet Scoter
 Waxwings feeding low down on Juniper fruit
 White-tailed Eagles on the ice flows between islands and the mainland
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly inside Loona Guesthouse

Estonia birds part 1

 Black Grouse lek of 40 birds
 Black Woodpecker
 Black-headed Gull flying alongside ferry
 Greater Scaup flock in Undva Bay
 Hooded Crow
more Long-tailed Duck

Estonia scenic shots

 Urissaare Church, near Haademeeste
 Loona Guesthouse, Kinelkonna, Saaremaa Island
 Ice-breaking ferry between the mainland and Muhu Island
 Locals Ice-fishing on the Baltic Sea
Tuhu Soo bog is a winter wilderness at its harshest [-4c / wind chill -12c]


Just got back from a long weekend in Estonia in search of Steller's Eider [successfully] and a few other bits and bobs. Not many birds photographed as they were at times too distant. Highlights included totals of :-

210      Whooper Swan
2200    Greater Scaup
165      Steller's Eider
91        Velvet Scoter
72        Common Scoter
6551    Long-tailed Duck
1912    Goldeneye
137      Goosander
112      Red-breasted Merganser
51        Black Grouse
1          Black-throated Diver
12        White-tailed Eagle
1          Golden Eagle
1          Black Guillemot
1          Middle Spotted Woodpecker
3          Black Woodpecker 
2          Grey-headed Woodpecker
7          Great Grey Shrike
1          Nutcracker
122      Waxwing
10        Marsh Tit
3          Willow Tit
4          Tree Sparrow
21        Hawfinch
66        "Northern" Bullfinch
2          Crossbill
51        Yellowhammer

I will sort out some photos and a trip report shortly.

 Steller's Eider in amongst the Tufted Duck and Scaup flock at Kudema Bay, Saaremaa Island.
 Long-tailed Duck
 Waxwings at dusk