Away Day to Slimbridge

December 8, 2017

On Saturday 2nd December we gathered at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve at Slimbridge near Gloucester.  We were there principally to see the wild wildfowl that gathers there.  However, the collection of pinioned ducks, geese ands swans provided an opportunity to see up close their stunning plumages.  The huge variety of species present in the collection shows well the great diversity that is to be found in these bird families throughout the world.

We visited most of the observation hides that overlook the surrounding pools and flooded fields, and the salt-marshes of the Severn estuary that when combined, form an extensive sanctuary area.  Here hundreds of wild birds of many species gather, many having flown from their breeding grounds in Arctic Russian to spend the winter, or are stopping off on their migration to places further west and south.  Most well known are the Bewick’s Swans that arrive during November and December to spend the winter at Slimbridge.

During the day we had some fantastic sights and in perfect light conditions, with low, raking winter sunlight highlighting the not often seen subtle variations of plumage colour, especially among the waders and ducks.  Lapwings showed strong metallic, sheens of mixed greens, bronze and purple.  Pintail drakes their rich chocolate browns, wigeon their soft oranges, yellows, pinks and greys.

Birds seen included:  25+ Bewick’s Swans, 16 White-fronted Geese, 400+ Greylag Geese, 250 Barnacle Geese, 1 Red-breasted Goose (with the Barnacle Geese), 25+ Shelduck, 300+ Wigeon, 200+ Teal, 30+ Pintail, 10+ Shoveler, Pochard and Tufted Ducks, 7 Common Cranes, 3 Water Rails, a Little Stint (very close to), 1000+ Lapwings, 20+ Golden plover, 20+ Black-tailed Godwits, 350+ Dunlin and 5+ Snipe.

It was a much enjoyed day out, the fine weather making it especially good.

 

 

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An observation

November 7, 2017

While watching wasps feeding on ivy nectar by the house recently a Silver Y moth came by to refuel.  Immediately, on its first approach to the flowers, the moth was grabbed in mid flight by a wasp and wrestled to the ground.  As can be seen from the photos below the moth is a good bit bigger than the wasp.

Within a few seconds the wasp had immobilised the moth with one or more stings and within just a minute or so it had dismembered the moth ready for removal to its nest.  The moth fought hard throughout the ordeal, the wasp becoming coated in fluff and scales shed from the moths body but, once immobilised with a sting from the wasp, there was no escape for the moth.

The wasp is the German Wasp Vespula germanica of which there have been huge numbers here this year.  I have seen hornets take other insect in mid flight but this is the first time I have seen one of the smaller wasps take such large prey.

DSC_6269.JPGA fight for survival as the wasp places a sting.

DSC_6290.JPGDismembered


Bird Walks and Dawn Chorus at Gilfach NR this Sunday

May 4, 2017

Dont forget we have a dawn chorus walk from the visitor centre at Gilfach this Sunday 7th May 5.30 a.m. There will also be a talk on the birds of Rhayader and 2 further guided walks for those that dont fancy an early start. Guided by Rhayader by Nature experts!

http://www.rwtwales.org/events/2017/03/29/bird-walk-and-talk?instance=0


Away Day to Ynys Hir RSPB Reserve

January 16, 2017

Our group visit to RSPB Ynys Hir Reserve yesterday was a great success.  Twelve members made the trip.  Despite rather persistent drizzle at times and poor long range visibility we gathered a good list of 57 bird species during the day.  Most of our time was spent in the hides.  Highlights on the reserve were a marsh harrier, two merlins together (and later two further sightings of single merlins), a common and a green sandpiper up close and the highlight of highlights a great grey shrike.

Moving on to Aberystwyth seafront in the late afternoon we watched the starling roost assemble, quite a sight.  Starling numbers soon built up and with them came a peregrine, making a successful kill.  On the beach were 10 turnstones and on the rocks a rock pipit and an adult Mediterranean gull.

We came home an excited bunch and hardly noticed the drizzle.


Waxwings

January 2, 2017

This winter is proving to be a Waxwing one – with birds moving in from Scandanavia in good numbers. Waxwings are stunning little birds with a shrill tinkling call. The north and east of the country has seen flocks up until Christmas when they seem to have finally trickled down into mid Wales. A group of 5 are currently feeding on berries in Llanwrthwl and 20+ are in Llandrindod by the old school. Its well worth looking out for them – they seem to eat any berry going , including non-native garden species. The Llanwrthwl birds like pink ash berries that the winter thrush species ignored in the Autumn for example.There must be some in Rhayader somewhere, so check out those berries and listen for the call. 


Talk on beavers 24th November

November 15, 2016

Next week, Thursday 24th November, we are hosting a talk about the possible reintroduction of beavers to Wales.  Alicia Leow-Dyke of the Welsh Beaver Project will tell us about the lives of beavers and explain why their reintroduction to Wales will be good for us all.

Venue: CARAD, East Street, Rhayader.  Talk begins: 7.30pm.  Adults £2, children free.


Leaf-mining moths

November 8, 2016

The meeting of 21st October proved to be quite an eye-opener.  Many thanks go to Norman Lowe (Brecknock Moth Recorder) for such an interesting and inspiring morning.

Ten people took part in the search for evidence of moth leaf-miners  –  the evidence being the burrowing galleries and blotches on leaves left by their caterpillars.  With the aid of Norman, and his key to the more common species, twenty-two species were found during the morning.  Norman, keen to find more, stayed on into the afternoon and found a further eight.

Nearly all the thirty species found were new for the site despite many years of light-trapping there.  Clearly leaf mining moths don’t come to light very often, if at all.  All were common and widespread species but Norman went away happy in the knowledge that the  outcome filled a gap in what is known about the distribution of moths.  His hope is that the morning will also inspire others to go in search  –  and send him records of their findings.  Many can be identified from photographs.

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Minings of the moth Stigmella aureola within a leaf of bramble

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Minings of the moth Tischeria ekebladella within a leaf of oak