Tree diseases talk Feb 15th 2018

February 27, 2018

A talk by Andy Wright of Natural Resources Wales

The talk at CARAD on Thursday 15th went very well indeed.  It was rather depressing as expected.   Andy covered the principal diseases of trees in the UK and one or two that may well reach the UK in due course.  Ash dieback in particular is expected to considerably change the look of Rhayader’s surrounding countryside over the next 20 years as the disease continues to widen its grip.  Many of those present at the talk had witnesses the loss of elm trees in the 1960s and 70s and all present were shocked at the thought of now losing all our ash trees.  During question time the subject was broaden out to atmospheric/environmental pollution and damage, and the resultant weakness and stress seen in many (all) plants and animals including ourselves.  There was plenty of food for thought as it is a worldwide issue, but little we can do about it as individuals – he suggested that we buy local, avoid buying imported plants, avoid buying materials that are imported in timber crates and pallets (e.g, Spanish slates), don’t buy trees/hedging plants that are grown abroad, don’t buy any cheap trees of unknown or suspect provenance, and thoroughly wash off mud from footwear between visits to woodlands and the countryside (ideally disinfecting them with special chemicals as their forestry staff routinely do).


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.


Necklace Ground Beetle

July 23, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, having just parked the car on the drive, I looked up and saw a large beetle scurrying along the road in front of my house in Llanwrthwl. I quickly caught it and recognised it as being a Necklace Ground Beetle (Carabus Monilis). These are impressive beasts – an inch long and very fast. They are also rare – a Notable species in the UK, this was the 6th local record (Brecknock/Radnor). The previous record was about 5 years ago – a specimen I found in Arthurs sand pit in the garden – so my humble garden has 30% of the local records! The beetle is associated with unimproved fields, that haven’t been sprayed etc and I suspect these specimens originate in the field across the road, which as far as I am aware has received very little improvement in the last 100 years or so – its full of Yellow rattle and Eyebright as well as Heath Spotted Orchids. In Britain, its a beetle in steep decline. Given that few people send in insect records,it could of course be under recorded – any beetle records should be sent to Phil Ward the local recorder.


Black-Headed Cardinal Beetle

May 22, 2014

I saw this lovely beetle on a rotting cherry tree stump in my garden in Llanwrthwl yesterday, and it has been confirmed as a Black-Headed Cardinal Beetle by Phil Ward.


Signs of Spring

March 2, 2013

A bumblebee and a tortoiseshell butterfly in the garden this morning. Stock Dove singing on March 1st (a lot later than usual) and the Green Woodpecker heard last week for the first time in a while. A Bee moth in the house since monday should appear in June so is unusually early – the previous earliest record in Breconshire being April 7th.

Nantmel Tip on sunday

August 1, 2011

We had a successful time at the old Nantmel Tip site on sunday. Three moth traps and lots of mammal traps were set the eveing before and the group set about emptying these whilst some wandered around sweeping for other species.

The site covers a large area and consists of drier sedge covered expanses, a small choked up pond and a marshy area full of meadowsweet, hogweed and angelica. The site also borders more mature  boggy woodland. The final count for moths was 108, caught in 3 traps – including an Old Lady, Gothic, Beautiful hook-tipped and Double Lobed.

Double lobed

In addition to the larger moths a miniscule orange coloured micro-moth Agonopterix conterminella proved to be a first Radnorshire record. Sorcha managed to catch a few Field voles, Common and Pygmy shrews, many plants were identified and birds included Green woodpecker, Whitethroat, Sedge warbler and Willow Tit. The invertebrate experts found some uncommon bugs including one that remained unidentified on the day and was taken away for analysis. A lovely yellow and black longhorn beetle proved to be a rarely seen Radnorshire specimen.

Butterflies and dragonflies were low in number (as seemingly has been the case elsewhere this year?) but we did record Red Admiral, Comma, Meadow Brown, Green veined and small white as well as Brown hawker and Emporer Dragonfly.
A common frog was the lone amphibian.

Nursery web Spiders

July 3, 2011

The field adjacent Llanwrthwl church has lots of pouch – like spider webs in amongst the long grass. Each contains a mass of eggs, some of which have hatched. The protective Nursery web spider mum is never far away.