Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Monday, 31 January 2011

I'm EX30139 remember me?

Now heard back from BTO concerning the above ringed black headed gull photographed at Bryn Bach Park in October of last year. Bird was ringed as a nestling on 7 June 2010 at Hosehill Lake, West Berkshire (SU6469). This represents a movement of 158km from ringing site.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Best bib and tucker

Black headed gulls tend to get their summer plumage early, but this one at Cwmbran Boating Lake this lunchtime was way in advance of any other gull present.

Other noteworthy birds included this tree creeper that was rather reluctant to turnaround and a fleeting glimpse of another black headed gull carrying a colour ring either red or orange.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Red letter day for vc 35 coleoptera

Would you believe it after my approving rant about an item on Gwent Levels beetles in the last edition of The Coleopterist there's more. The December 2010 issue of this brilliant little journal has just arrived containing a report of interesting beetle records from Wales by Brian Levey. And to my utter joy theres a list of Notable b species from Gwent Wildlife Trusts Cwm Merddog reserve near Ebbw Vale and even better still a record of the rove beetle Pella limabta from Blaenavon.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

I knew that bit of Halifax bomber fuselage would come in handy

Waunafon bog is drying out, now more grassland than wetland due to some very effective drainage work alongside the pit road. So with the bog snorkeling cancelled I went in search of short-eared owl pellets.

I've collected pellets at this spot before as the aforementioned vole munchers seem keen on the fence posts that surround the wreckage of the Halifax bomber that was lost in the bog way back when. A bit of hands and knees searching amongst the molinia and assorted aviation memorabilia delivered the goods. The images above show a small handful of indigestible bits both intact, and teased apart to reveal various mammal bits and pieces. Thanks to Halifax bomber fuselage for proving the backdrop.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

More of the same but slightly different

Following the many supportive and encouraging comments about my 'Portrait of a Short-eared owl in motion' I visited the Cwmbran waxwings in the hope of obtaining more quality images. No berries are left on the trees but  plenty of windfall fruits provide rich pickings hence a group of 30+ birds were feeding readily on the ground often alighting en masse.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

My photographic prowess strikes again

It's around this time of year that short eared owl's appear on our hillsides, and historically Waun afon bog just north of Blaenavon has been as good a spot as any to see these splendid birds. An opportunist late  afternoon visit was rewarded with two birds hunting on the bog and adjoining hillside. As you can see from the image the weather and light conditions were not conducive to good photography but I think theres enough in the shot to confirm its identity. Apologies to migraine sufferers!

Earlier four goosander at Cwmtillery Lake was a bit of a surprise. Otherwise six tufted duck, ten Canada goose, two flyover goosander and c25 goldfinch were at Machine Pond (aka Parc Nant-y-Waun) and at Dunlop Semtex Pond were ten tufted duck and two pochard.

There was an interesting spectacle at Machine Pond with large accumulations of dredged Nuttalls pondweed on the south side of the pond, with a lady actively raking the vegetation away from the pond edge to apparently spread around the base of some nearby conker trees - why?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Sods law

A recent lunchtime sortie to Cwmbran Boating Lake was unremarkable but for a  few goosander and a cormorant. However in with a group of eight Canada goose was one that was discernibly smaller with a darker breast and dusky white facial markings. It wasn't until I did a touch of web research did I realise this bird may have been one of the many subspecies doing the rounds. The best match appears Taverners Canada goose and in this respect note a bird recorded from Llangorse last year. So the aim today was 'get back down there' and take some pictures. And yes you guessed it there were only seven geese on the lake today with the target bird nowhere to be seen.

As compensation there were upwards of 25 waxwing stripping the now rapidly depleting berries in Cwmbran.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Poor dab

Found this common shrew frozen stiff on the Magor Marsh boardwalk today. There's fifteen species of shrew in Europe split into groups of white and red toothed, as you can see the common shrew is a member of the latter group.

On the lake today were six gadwall, two little grebe, several teal along with mallard, moorhen, heron and two mute swan, with a further 36 in an arable field close to the reserve. A couple of reed bunting were noted on the way back.

Not too much to report from Magor Pill other than good numbers of both waders and wildfowl with some impressive flocks of dunlin, also skylark and about 50 linnet feeding on the saltmarsh.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Waxwing in the Valley of the Crows

Travelling through Cwmbran earlier this week I noticed several ornamental rowan trees supporting a plump juicy crop of white berries just awaiting a flock of marauding waxwing. A quick visit today turned up trumps, but just one individual of the said visitors from colder (or not so colder) climes was present. Difficult to get a decent photo when you have to poke your lens skyward in a residential area! See Gwent Ornithological Society sightings page for directions.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Got a light mate?

A report of 31 Canada goose at ice bound Bryn Bach Park got me on the road mid morning in the hope of a bit of ring spotting. Once again I dipped out as no geese were present, back then to Dunlop Semtex Pond. Thanks to the efforts of litter bugs there was no shortage of items to keep the local industrious Herring gulls occupied. This bird was entertaining itself with a discarded lighter.

Further to my recent blog enter about colour ringing, a touch of web research has turned up a good number of gull study groups both in the UK and all over Europe. I will add links to the best sites in due course.
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