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

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Searching for grasshopper

Being in the right place at the right time is nine tenths of the battle when it comes to birding and although the upland landscape around Blaenavon is known to support between 15-20 pairs of breeding grasshopper warbler, I've still yet to visit a suitable site to hear one this year. In 'ye olden times' the Garn yr erw area would be a banker for the bird but a couple of hours treading the boards didn't produced anything remotely close to a reel. 

There were of course many other breeding birds showing well. Reed bunting was remarkably widespread with at least four singing birds. The six lapwing set a nice picture against the early morning cloudless sky of this corner of north west Gwent. A couple of pair of wheatear were also busy feeding recently fledged young.

From the cotton grass beds I weaved my way past Hills pit through the large spoil tips on to the dry acid pasture. Here I discovered even more of the little pteridophyte moonwort and several burnet companion and common blue were stirring as the early morning breeze gave way to warm sunshine. Also here I recorded the first stridulating meadow grasshopper - summer really is here.

Finally I stumbled across this little gem on the return journey. I am fairly confident this the billberry bee (Bombus monticola) note its distinctive red abdomen. Although I'd been shown this species before by others who know more about bees than myself, I'm please to have been able to have discovered it independently. Considered to be in decline, this bee has a UK distribution that is mainly north western.

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