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

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Royal mint

There's a substantial margin of flowering water mint (Mentha aquatica) along the Mon and Brecon canal at South Sebastopol at the moment that's attracting a good variety of invertebrate interest. Common hoverflies along with other assorted diptera are augmented by a few butterflies. This clouded yellow was found along with a small copper and green veined white. Diptera of note included this Tachina fera.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Freshwater molluscs

Not much to shout home about at Llandegfedd Reservoir yesterday. A little egret close to the Green Pool hide was confiding and at least three common sandpiper were very focal. Also calling well were many dark bush cricket. The receding water levels had also exposed many thousands of freshwater molluscs, these were ear pond snail Lymnaea auricularia.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

What is over mature?

According to my copy of Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland (Brooks & Lewington)this black tailed skimmer photographed Thursday evening at Garn Lakes Local Nature Reserve is 'over mature'. Sure enough it clearly wasn't in its first flush of youth (note some wing wear) and the same oracle suggests its flight period to be over by the time the Green Man Festival pitches its first tent, so this one was skimming on borrowed time.

Wrestling with this term and like a pensioner who's misplaced his reading glasses I stumbled around during Friday night shopping looking for some everyday examples of over maturity along the well stocked aisles of Tesco's Abertillery. The dairy section was the most obvious place for 'over maturity' and this extra mature cheddar delivered as any self respecting dairy counter should. Breezing past the Tena pants and over 50's Wellbeing vitamins I resisted the temptation to draw any parallels between these products and my quest . Other than the cheese and wine there were surprising few other products that saw a market opportunity in decay, until I reached the famed reduced section. Here over maturity was a pre-requiste. Discounted sad and forlorn examples of battered fruit and veg and other assorted items close to their sell by date were left only to be periodically tended by shop care workers. An apple that was soft and bruised sat cheek by jowl with pre-packaged rocket salad that was wet and flat and a bunch of petal shedding tulips were propped up in a black bucket marked, flower zimmer. So there you have it if this black tailed skimmer was to be found on a supermarket shelf it would surely be past its best before date and marked down for a quick sale- that's over mature!


Saturday, 17 August 2013

The long and short of it


A few hardy souls turned out for the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre (SEWBReC) Bioblitz at Llantarnam Abbey today. The Abbey and its grounds has until recently been a bit of an unknown quantity hitherto only known for its lesser horseshoe bat colony. The aim of the assembled recorders was to put the site firmly on the biological recording map.
Short winged conehead
Long winged conehead

It was unfortunate that the weather was not conducive to recording invertebrates but in my capacity as County Recorder for Orthoptera I chalked up a fair list of long and short winged coneheadspeckled and dark bush cricket, common greenmeadow and field grasshoppers and common earwig

Sunday, 11 August 2013


As mentioned in my previous posting the muddy margins of Llandgefedd Reservoir are ideal for passage waders etc. at the moment. August is always good for little erget at this site and there were at least four birds on offer yesterday feeding close to the waters edge. Five oystercatcher were something of a surprise, supported by singles of common and green sandpiper and ringed plover. Other notable birds included a reed warbler, kingfisher, two little grebe, at least two great black backed gull, and the black swan continues to hang around closely associating with a pair of mutes. It was interesting to note that almost all of the Canada geese left due south at about 7pm suggesting that they roost elsewhere.

The liverwort Ricca cavernosa was plentiful around Green Pool bay.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Top of the pops

Niko Tinbergen hit the mark when he referred to naturalists as curious. In my scavenging for flora and fauna hitherto unrecorded in this embarrassingly poorly recorded corner of the principality I found this bottle partly exposed from the sphagnum margins of Coity Pond. Although well weathered the bottle was complete with a tightly fitting cap emblazoned with some long lost words. In Time Team fashion I carefully exposed the bottle from the mud and moss like a true archaeologist, carrying it to the bankside as if bearing a gift.  Whilst examining the bottle a wave of nostalgia washed over me. I remembered with affection  the summer's of my youth when healthy young lads played cricket or rolled their sleeves up before climbing trees, only to quench their thirst with a bottle of deposit paid Corona lemonade afterwards.

You will have probably realised by now that all this talk about deposit paid soft drinks bottles masks a rather lightweight session of wildlife spotting around the pond. For a water body of this size and in early August it is reasonable to expect a good population of damselflies. On the contrary the two common blue damselfly that showed were trumped only by a couple of black darter. Bird wise a reed bunting called and linnet flew overhead. 

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