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

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Energy levels

Prevailing weather conditions and a dip in personal energy levels conspired to reduce my field activity of late. Nonetheless this Fridays snatched visit to Llandegfedd Reservoir was interesting. It was pleasing to chat to a family from Caerleon out looking for the recent osprey and Gareth who was out with his new Ebay purchase of a Canon DSLR complete with 300mm lens photographing this female redstart that posed obligingly on post and wire fencing. This increase in visitors engaging with wildlife is a pleasing outcome of Welsh Water's more relaxed approach to access, an improvement on the backward lockdown approach of more recent years.

A chunky fly-by wasp led me to an active hornet nest in the base of a mature tree. A little egret flew from meadow to tree whilst on the reservoir a mid water immature black tern was very mobile. A large grounded pike was an attractant to a number of gulls, a heron and a couple of carrion crow

Hoverfly Eupeodes luniger

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Black ranks

Now long gone the Black Ranks were two rows of roadside miners cottages on the outskirts of Blaenavon. They were so named due to a coating of a black tar type paint that help waterproof the dwellings from inclement weather. Today all that remains is a rough hard surface providing convenient  parking for white van man and litter louts. 

From here I made way into the open upland landscape. A pair of stonechat called loudly as if defending a breeding territory. In the distance the 'peep peep' of the heritage steam railway conjured images of grubby middle aged men in National Coal Board overalls waxing lyrical about rack and pinions, pounds per square inch and release oil, drinking builders tea from a chipped enamel mug. 

From the species poor sheep grazed pasture I climbed to the coal spoil plateau that is Cefn Garn yr rew. With the springtime breeding lapwing now elsewhere it was down to the small heath and grayling butterflies to fill the vacant void.  At a pond a mallard alighted and emerald damselflies and black darter dragonflies were numerous.

Off the plateau I followed a fenceline keeping sheep from wandering onto the highway. The road margins here were rich in wildflowers otherwise referred to as weeds by those who have no appreciation of our natural heritage. A flowering bramble bush was complete with half a dozen or so bilberry bee (Bombus monticola). 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Opportunist mothing

Beautiful Yellow Underwing  Anarta myrtilli  caterpillar

I've a few moth traps from the portable actinic to a couple of 250w mercury vapours. Running the latter, although very efficient, lights up the back garden like a searchlight and runs the risk of complaints from the neighbours, so unfortunately I don't often get the chance to use them. So most of my mothing these days is of the opportunist nature, recording as flushed from vegetation etc. when I'm out and about. The images here are a selection of recent encounters.

Chequered Pearl Evergestis pallidata

Shaded  Broad -bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata

Pyrausta purpuralis

Scarce Footman  Eilema complana

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