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

Friday, 30 September 2011

Not as sexy as AGP, fact!

After my previous posting about the LR stitchwort I've now reviewed my bold yet woeful identification attempt in the light of further information. As I write I hang my head in shame due to need to confess another ID banana skin. A late flowering marshland growing stitchwort just had to me one of the rarer species but alas the above plant is in fact at the very opposite end of the stitchwort rarity lineage. Not marsh stitchwort as stated but the common or garden, found everywhere, lesser stitchwort. Oh well nothing ventured nothing gained. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Not as sexy as AGP but.......

This plant may not generate the same testosterone inspired reaction as the recent plethora of coastal wading beauties, but is arguably more significant. Whilst twitchers chase the latest windblown vagrant, work remains to be done on the recording, distribution and better understanding of the flora and fauna of Gwent.

At Llandegfedd Reservoir yesterday morning this small white plant caught my eye growing on the margins of the Inlet. As you will know most flowering plants are at a premium this time of year so  one in full flower demanded my attention. A touch of book and Internet research has led me to the bold and maybe foolish conclusion that this is marsh stitchwort ( Stellaria palustris). Whilst reasonably widespread in the East of the British Isles its never plentiful and reference to the recent Flora of Monmouthshire (Trevor Evans) suggests this is the first county record - this of course needs verifying.

Elsewhere on the reservoir there were three shelduck and yet again a lesser black backed gull with chunky colour ring.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Chance encounter

Left work and headed straight for West Usk Lighthouse to catch up with the grey phalarope and pectoral sandpiper. A bit of trek along the sea wall from Lighthouse pub car park proved to be well worth it but not for the target species. Having side stepped a large herd of cows to walk along saltmarsh I joined the creme de la creme of Gwent birders in the form of Darryl Spittle, Chris Jones and Nathan Casburn who were enjoying another yank wader in the form of an American golden plover. Unfortunately my Sigma 500mm is not the best but I'm sure the steady flow of birders that I met on my way back to the car will produce some better images in due course.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

The value of nature

On Ricky Tomlinson's recommendation I breezed into Farmfoods for a couple of pints of the white stuff and some wine gums. After wolfing down the sweeties I had cause to examine my change only to discovery the familiar profile of God himself Charles Darwin on a two pound coin. 

When presented with something a little different my first port of call is generally Ebay. Is it worth anything and could I flog it? To my surprise some people are forking out up to a fiver for this coin - kerching!  This then got me thinking of other coinage cast with images of our great natural heritage. Pulling out my man-draw full of part used batteries, screws and a ticket stub to a brilliant Dream Theater gig, I located that little plastic bag containing a Pontypool and Abersychan Co-operative Society bread token, assorted Edwardian pennies, a tanner (six-pence) complete with hole for attaching to ladies charm bracelet and to my glee a 1945 farthing with image of  Troglodytes troglodytes. With all this coinage along with a tradition of nice Royal Mail stamps and the back pages of UK passports all depicting images of British wildlife you'd think we'd feel some sense of pride and obligation to protecting it, but not a bit of it.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The ultimate deterrent

Around the a**e end of Llandegfedd Reservoir is a field gate with a novel warning sign. Couldn't see any sign of the snorting monster amongst the herd of milkers, but rest assured one step on the wrong side of the gate and the said beast would no doubt appear as if by magic to toss you around the field like a rag doll.

Like Wayne Rooney's thatch  my loyalty to Llandegfedd Reservoir is wearing thin at the moment. With some nice stuff appearing up and down the county surely something requiring a description to get it past the County Rarities Committee and onto the pages of the annual Gwent Bird Report will appear at this most celebrated of nature venues soon.

Once again I sat in the car for half an hour waiting for the rain to move on before venturing out - thank Britain for its rich creative culture and prog rockists Porcupine Tree's In Absentia album for filling the void. When I eventually got on the move I was joined by an intermittent flow of flyover meadow pipit. At Greenpool there was a hint that wildfowl are starting to gather along tribal lines with tight flocks of up to twenty coot and teal. Several chiffchaff were singing when I caught sight of the soft underbelly of a up ended waterbird bobbing in tune with the wake of a fisherman's boat. On closer inspection it was a dead great crested grebe entangled in fishing line and hooks. The family party of a late brood of grebes now reduced to single parent status. Not much else to report other than another black headed gull with metal ring.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

I must be mad

Got to Garnlydan Reservoir at about 7.15 this morning in anticipation of an early show wryneck. Having withstood several heavy showers and pre frost bite symptoms I left at 8.30 with only a cormorant, great crested grebe and a wheatear to my name. Bryn Bach Park, Beaufort Ponds and Dunlop Semtex Pond were just too wet and windy to bother getting out of the car, nothing to report at any of the sites.

A second mid afternoon visit was a must after a quick check of the GOS sightings page reported the bird showing at 10am. Arrived to be greeted by a small group of birders and the news that the bird had last been seen in the 'rusty fence wire' an hour previously. Despite a steady flow of birders with birders wives/girlfriends/children/dogs in tow I left at 6pm without a sniff of the wryneck. Nonetheless, does seem to be a good year for grassland fungi with good numbers of yellow club fungus everywhere.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Bouy it was windy

Choosing Llandegfedd Reservoir over a trip up north meant I missed out on the wryneck, no worries there's always tomorrow. The mornings osprey was no where to be seen as I battled through a gale and heavy rain without a coat. Two ringed plover frequented the Island shoreline and a white colour ringed  black headed gull was spooked before I could attempt to read the number.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A hint of something better

I'm sometimes struck by a sense of boyish excitement when visiting Llandegfedd Reservoir. This maybe due to a long standing association with the reservoir going back to my teenage days through to many enjoyable years bird ringing at the site, or, more likely the onset of the male menopause. Whatever the cause a little bit of that excitability returned when after what seems to be the longest series of site visits without seeing a passage wader was corrected when I clapped eyes on a single ringed plover today. 

On the popular subject of ring spotting there are now two Canada geese with rings in amongst what was less than fifty birds. As mentioned in a previous posting, ring spotting without the ability to read the numbers is next to worthless. The only crumb of interest is in knowing that the ringed bird will have once been cradled, caressed, teased apart and lovingly examined by the hands of a highly skilled bird ringer- usually male. 

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