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

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A spot of good luck

I stood in the same location of the Lasgarn Wood last year hoping to hear the churring of a nightjar but drew a blank, This time it was different but before I picked up that faint yet evocative churring I was tipped off to their presence by a knowledgeable jogger who directed me to a tree about a hundred yards away. And sure enough as I approached the said area I could hear a bird calling. To my surprised I could see the bird resting on the outer branch of a tree. After a few minutes another bird approach and both took off out of sight.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Tyr Abraham Harry

This is an area of industrial workings in the upland landscape of Garn-yr-erw, Blaenavon comprising remnant buildings and stonewalls surrounded by spoil tips and water management features. It seems that every time I tramp around this interfered with habitat I find new and interesting components. Some of the most notable are ponds that are a clearly of manmade construction given their shape.

It was a rather cool and blustery day as I made my way towards the Hills Pit area. There were a pair of wheatear in alarm call and as I scrambled through the heather covered lower slopes of a spoil tip a meadow pipit was flushed from a nest of six eggs. Beyond, there are a couple of ponds with intermittent willow scrub, here a couple of juvenile stonechat called, along with a reed bunting and a single snipe.

Monday, 22 May 2017

For how much longer?

Since the closure of Blanserchan Pit in the 1980s and the subsequent purchase of the valley by the local authority, I've witnessed a gradually change in this landscape. From a characteristic post industrial blandness to one that threatens to become woodland, sofening the Cwm in a carpet of birch and stubben conifer. The battle against scrub encroachment is now reduced to local authority guerrilla action; management when resources become available. However, without a concerted, consistent effort to reduce and restrict, the progression of succession from open vista with its blackened tips and seek and find fragments of industrail relicts will be lost, remembered only by those Facebook pages with monochrome images of the past.

Despite this ongoing change some patches of more open grassy swards can still be found. It was windy but that didn't stop a number of butterflies and moths taking flight. Around eight dingy skipper and three small purple-barred day flying moth were evident. According to the distribution maps prepared by Martin Anthoney (County Recorder), the small purple-barred has lost ground in the east of the county with just a few sites remaining in the west.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Call of the Curlew

I'd hardly got of my car when two loudly calling curlew flew overhead from east to west. Garnlydan Reservoir was strangely quiet, previous visits were populated by ubiquitous dog walkers and fishermen, not the case today. A circuit of the reservoir produced a bird list that any self respecting birder could predict. The tally included, at least four territory holding wheatear, two male stonechat, two calling reed bunting, five lapwing, and singles of common sandpiper, snipe and great crested grebe.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Twitter for Gwent bird news ( #gwentbirds )

Most of Gwent's birders, beyond the beginner stage that is, now use Twitter as the primarily source of sharing bird information, by adopting the hashtag #gwentbirds. This is where I picked up news of the ring ouzel found by Craig Constance at The British recently. Next day I was up early for a walk around my lapsed local patch hoping to find my own ring ouzel. A couple of blackbird flying along the upland fringe were double checked for that tell tale white crescent, but as hard as I try I couldn't turn any into the target species. Nonetheless plenty of other species were on offer including singles of wood warbler, greenfinch and whitethroat. There were many singing tree pipit, males of stonechat and reed bunting at lease two pair of wheatear and two cuckoo. 

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