Magnificent Manorbier (and St Govans)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Adam Tilt 12 Comments

We have just had an extended weekend here in the UK which fortunately coincided with some excellent weather. My girlfriends family were staying with us for the duration which meant that we got to visit some of my favourite locations on Gower, but often from a different viewpoint to our usual. For instance we are not really beach people but Emma's parents definitely are resulting in visits to Pobbles Bay and Fall Bay, both of which were very enjoyable. A fishing sojourn out to Oxwixh Head also led to us stumbling across two new shipwrecks that I will be adding to my Gower Shipwreck website in due course, as well as an incredible encounter with a Kestrel which had to be seen to be believed.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First let me take you back to last Thursday when we both had a day off work and took a trip out to Pembrokeshire. Our destination was the small coastal village of Manorbier, not very Welsh sounding I know but dominated by a large 12th century castle in true Welsh fashion. We set off west along the coast and almost immediately found a small group of Swallows sat on the overhead wires. Most of them left their perch as we walked past but two young birds from this years breeding season stood their ground. With their fluffy feathers and short tails they made a very nice sight.

24869 - Swallows, Manorbier

The other Swallows were still in the area, and every now and again one of the adults would issue a couple of high pitched squeaks before swooping in to feed one of the juveniles shown above. This was definitely a case of fast food as each feeding unfolded before our eyes in just a couple of seconds. After a while I got the feel for when one of the adults was about to arrive and was able to get a couple of decent photographs. From looking at them it would seem that the bird on the right was definitely the greediest of the pair.

24870 - Swallows, Manorbier

24868 - Swallows, Manorbier

Eventually we dragged ourselves away and carried on walking along what is a beautiful stretch of coastline. Unlike elsewhere in Pembrokeshire the underlying rocks here are old red sandstone which gives the cliffs a vibrant colour that can look almost purple at times. Don't be fooled by the seemingly gorgeous weather in the panorama below as it was incredibly windy and a brief but very heavy shower was barrelling in from the sea just out of shot. When it arrived the rain was absolutely horizontal meaning that we were able to stand downwind from a hedge and remain completely dry!

24872 - Swanlake Bay, Pembrokeshire

The cove above is known as Swanlake Bay and apart from a nudist on the beach it delivered a Chough feeding in one of the fields as well as a superb Sparrowhawk sat on a fence post. A pair of Kestrels were also hunting in the area while out of the Gorse popped the occasional Whitethroat or Stonechat. Other than that things were relatively quiet, probably due to the strong winds keeping most of the smaller birds well hidden. The wind wasn't helping the butterflies either who were being blown every which way as they attempted to feed. The female Common Blue below was a nice find as I think I've only ever photographed the males of this species before.

24873 - Common Blue, Manorbier

We looped back to Manorbier and then headed east along the coast where the cliffs got even more dramatic. The vertical nature of the strata here have led to some impressive shapes including stacks, caves and zawns. Making the most of this landscape was the following Kestrel. We saw this bird on a couple of occasions during our walk but it seemed to be having limited success in its hunting as far as we could see.

24877 - Kestrel, Manorbier

Our next port of call was a few miles along the coast at St Govan's Chapel, a fourteenth century construction over the cave where Saint Govan himself lived as a hermit until his death in the year 586. We visited the chapel itself last year and my blog entry from that day can be found here. This time however I was more interested in the area of land to its east, owned by the Ministry of Defence and used on occasion for military manoeuvres and target practice. Unlike at Manorbier the cliffs here are Limestone, lending the landscape a bulkier and cleaner cut look.

24880 - St Govans Head

I was hoping to find some Choughs after an encounter with a particularly tame individual during our last visit. Their unmistakable call soon led me to a pair feeding behind the old WW2 bunkers, but due to some rather ominous looking signs I couldn't get any closer for photographs.

24882 - St Govans Head

Unlike a lot of warning signs these ones are definitely worth obeying. It is highly likely that unexploded ordinance is present in the area, especially given that recently used targets were dotted around nearby. This military occupation is particularly evident behind the third of the bunkers that now provide ideal nesting habitat for Swallows. Here a relic of the Cold War still exists in the shape of a large target that used to be used for target practice by fixed wing aircraft in the 1960's.

24883 - St Govans Head

By now it was past five in the evening but I still wanted to make a visit to Bosherston Lakes before we made our way home. Heading over we could hardly imagine the encounter that we were about to have. Tune in tomorrow to find out why.


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Gulls at Llanelli Waterfront

Thursday, August 25, 2011 Adam Tilt 8 Comments

Llanelli Seafront

We spent a couple of hours walking along the Llanelli waterfront last night, and I have to say that I am very impressed with how the redevelopment of what was once an industrial wasteland has taken shape over the last few years. The tidal areas were packed with waders including hundreds of Redshank and several Little Egret, whilst Jackdaws, Rooks, Starlings and of course Gulls were doing their best to scavenge what they could find around the visitor centre. The late evening light had a very nice quality that really lit the Gulls well making it hard not to set about photographing these often overlooked birds.

P1090308 - Lesser Black Backed Gull, Llanelli

P1090316 - Black Headed Gull, Llanelli

P1090318 - Black Headed Gull, Llanelli


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Dartford Warblers on Gower

Thursday, August 25, 2011 Adam Tilt 6 Comments

You'll have to excuse the suitably vague location details in this post, but our prize finds from Sunday are a Schedule 1 protected species and I don't want to inadvertently jeopardise their breeding success. All I will say is that I was somewhere on the Gower coastline and to my great joy stumbled across two immature Dartford Warblers. They were hopping around the extensive gorse bushes and frequently paused out in the open giving superb, if somewhat distant views. In all we were able to watch them for at least a quarter of an hour before the arrival of several more walkers sent them scampering out of sight. Being immature birds they lacked much of their parents distinctive colouration but the long tails were unmistakable.

Prior to the 1990's Dartford Warblers were a very rare occurrence on Gower, but since then their numbers have been slowly increasing with evidence of breeding first recorded in 2000. They are however very susceptible to harsh winters such as the last one we experienced, and there were fears as to how many individuals would make it through. Therefore to find clear evidence of successful breeding is a great relief which should hopefully ensure the continued expansion of their small population.

Another success story on Gower is the Chough, two of which flew past us while we were watching the Dartfords. Sadly no pictures again as the birds have been playing very hard to get these last couple of weeks.

More accommodating, as usual, were the local insects with plenty of Butterflies once more on the wing. Common Blues in various states of disintegration were numerous, whilst Green Veined Whites, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Speckled Woods all added to the spectacle. A couple that really caught my eye were the following Wall Brown and Small Tortoiseshell, both species that I have only seen a couple of times so far this year.

P1090304 - Wall Brown, Gower
Wall Brown

P1090276 - Small Tortoiseshell, Gower
Small Tortoiseshell

Several day flying moths were also out and about, one of which was this Burnet Moth exploring the cliff tops.

P1090298 - Burnet Moth, Gower

Back to the birds and another couple of notable sightings were a juvenile Stonechat (mainly because I like them so much) and a Red Kite flying over Scurlage. I think the Red Kite was our first one since heading off to Mull way back in June!


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Kidwelly Quay and Mynydd Du

Monday, August 22, 2011 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

Saturday was pretty much a wash out when it comes to photography, mainly as a result of the appalling weather. I did however manage to explore a couple of new walks that will definitely be making it onto my regular itinerary. We started the day off by driving into the Black Mountains where we hoped to scale Garreg Lywd, one of the peaks of Mynydd Du. Upon arrival it was clear that we were going to have to change our plans as the cloud base was well below us and visibility was down to less than a couple of metres. Even though we had a map and compass we decided that to set out onto a mountain that we had never seen previously was more than foolhardy, so instead we retreated to the coast and Kidwelly Quay. By a stroke of luck we arrived just after high tide meaning that the majority of birds were still feeding on the upper part of the estuary that the quay overlooks. Almost one hundred and fifty Redshanks made for a fine sight as they probed the newly exposed mud, running one after the other to the waters edge every time a wriggling worm was pulled free. A lone Greenshank flying past was the only other wader of note, but a Curlew Sandpiper was reported from the same place a few hours later. Another fine example of why that species is my nemesis.

P1090244 - Kymer's Canal, Kidwelly

Leading away from Kidwelly Quay is Kymer's Canal (shown above), the oldest canal in Wales and originally built in 1766 to carry coal from Thomas Kymer's pits to the banks of the Gwendreath Fach for onward travel by sea. It served the mines well for over thirty years before chronic silting made the waterways too dangerous to navigate. In recent years the area has been restored and it is once more possible to walk along the canal, which is what we duly did. To my surprise the area was packed with birds, the highlight of which was a flock of at least seventy Goldfinch feeding in a field full of Teasels. Further along we bumped into a couple of Chiffchaffs as well as a female Reed Bunting and a Little Egret hunting, whilst over the marsh that borders the canal a Peregrine Falcon was half heartedly chasing a small flock of Feral Pigeons.

By now the weather, though still damp and dreary, had improved slightly and it looked like the Black Mountains could again be an option. We headed back up and were amazed to see the view from the car park where we had originally turned around earlier in the day. What had been a wall of mist had been replaced with impressive peaks and valleys as well as long abandoned Limestone quarries. We quickly kitted up and set off for the peak of Garreg Lwyd, mindful that the weather could break again at any time. To our relief we made it to the huge cairns that mark the summit still able to see our way, though as the photo of the OS trig point below shows we weren't far from being enveloped by the clouds.

P1090247 - Trig point, Garreg Lwyd

The reason for being up there was to look for migrating Dotterel on the way back from their breeding grounds in Scotland. A pair had been seen on the mountain the day before and it seemed rude to not at least attempt to relocate them ourselves. We spent a good hour or so criss-crossing the terrain but the odds were always against us and we drew a blank. We did however find plenty of Wheatears as well as a couple of Skylarks, and I can't deny that it is ideal habitat for Dotterel.

View from Garreg Lwyd, Mynydd Du

One of our nicest finds was not a bird or anything else alive for that matter, but was in fact a fresh spring pumping directly out from the mountainside. I can't remember the last time I saw a genuine spring such as this, which Emma can confirm was cold and flowing with some force.

P1090256 - Spring, Mynydd Du

As this post had been rather bereft of any wildlife pictures I'll leave you with a photo of my only successful Dotterel sighting to date. This occurred just last year when a male and female pair spent a couple of days on Cefn Cadlan and were incredibly accommodating, much to the delight of local birders. My full account of that trip can be found here.

12420 - Dotterel at Cefn Cadlan

We are still early in the migration season so I am hopeful that we will be able to see some more Dotterel before the season is out. Fingers crossed.


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Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Gower

Friday, August 19, 2011 Adam Tilt 5 Comments

I've just got back from a very enjoyable late evening walk at Rhossili. The air was alive with the sound of calling Crickets, but the real star was to be found sat on one of the gate posts on the way down to the beach.

P1090240 - Convolvulus Hawkmoth

P1090242 - Convolvulus Hawkmoth

This is a Convolvulus Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli), and is by the far the biggest moth that I have ever seen. It measures about five centimetres in length and is an immigrant to Britain, typically on the wing from August to November. The females are usually larger and plainer with smaller antennae than males of the species, which I think fits in rather well with our individual above. I have had a look at the local moth recording website and it seems that a couple of pre-2006 records exist in roughly the same vicinity as our sighting for this species, as shown on the distribution map below.

More information on moths in my area can be found at the Glamorgan Moth Recording Group.


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Common Darter, Llanelli WWT

Thursday, August 18, 2011 Adam Tilt 5 Comments

24802 - Female Common Darter, Llanelli WWT

You could say I'm pretty chuffed with the photo above. The very obliging subject is a female Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum), one of several that were resting on shrubs around Llanelli WWT on Sunday. I have never had much luck getting close to these prehistoric insects in the past, but this one was an absolute star allowing me to photograph it from every angle conceivable. Being up this close and personal made me realise just how intricate these creatures are. The eyes alone are works of art whilst details such as the thin yellow stripe running down each leg just add to their beauty.

24805 - Female Common Darter, Llanelli WWT

The males of the species are similarly impressive but are a darker red in comparison to the green/yellow of the females. There were only a couple of them visible and they were much more flighty than the females so I was fortunate to capture the individual below.

24809 - Male Common Darter, Llanelli WWT

Elsewhere around the reserve the sun was bringing out the Butterflies in force. A new species for me and by far my favourite of the day was a stunning Brimstone over in the Millennium Wetlands. My photo really can't do justice to how vibrantly coloured this species is but hopefully it gets somewhere close.

24812 - Brimstone, Llanelli WWT

After struggling with the "white" Butterflies all year it would now appear that I am on something of a role as another Green Veined White posed perfectly for me on what I believe is an Asteraceae.

24798 - Green Veined White, Llanelli WWT

A rather tatty Gatekeeper was also to be found, rather suitably I may add, on the grass near the entrance to the show ponds.

24791 - Gatekeeper, Llanelli WWT

The bird life was rather muted with the exception of fifty eight Redshanks in front of the Heron Wing Hide, within which was hiding a superb Ruff. A Greenshank and a trio of Little Egrets rounded out the waders but I gather things have picked up a notch today with the appearance of a Curlew Sandpiper, one of my nemesis species that I finally caught up with in Devon earlier this year. I'm hoping that it sticks around for a while longer as it would be very nice to get one on my Welsh list. Most of the duck species now seem to be entering eclipse plumage with the Shoveller, Teal and Gadwall drakes all looking far from their best.

24795 - Gadwall, Llanelli WWT
The most unexpected find was a brilliant male Pintail in eclipse plumage which was seen preening from the Boardwalk Hide. The Burry Inlet, which the reserve borders, holds nationally important numbers of Pintails during the winter but it is still not that common to have such close views of one in the site itself. Speaking of winter I don't want to be the bringer of bad news but I get the distinct impression that the seasons are a changing. Our Swifts seem to have started on their journey back to Africa and a few leaves are beginning to turn colour on the trees. All I can say is bring on the snow! What? Too soon?


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Pembrey Harbour High Tide Roost

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday evening watching the high tide roost in action at Pembrey Harbour. The weather was pretty awful with banks of mist and rain being driven up the Burry inlet from off the sea. Despite these adverse conditions the birds still assembled in excellent numbers, far better than during my brief visit the week before.

24789 - High Tide Roost, Pembrey Harbour

The photo above shows just part of the roost on what is one of the last sandbanks to disappear under the water at high tide. Sandwich Tern numbers were very impressive with 91 individuals present, many of which were juveniles from this years breeding season (foreground above). The Oystercatchers were even better with at least 1,500 birds gathered although more were arriving every few minutes. Other species seen included 640 Black Headed Gull, 29 Turnstone, 1 Great Black Backed Gull, 6 Lesser Black Backed Gull, 41 Herring Gull, 1 Common Gull, 8 Mediterranean Gull, 41 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Egret and at least 10 Dunlin, many still in their summer plumage. Top marks to anyone that can spot the Mediterranean Gull hiding in the photo above.


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Llangorse Lake and Some Oddities

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Adam Tilt 6 Comments

We spent last Saturday at Llangorse Lake, a new location for us in the north of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is apparently the largest natural lake in South Wales covering some 327 acres, and was formed by retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age. At this point I would normally include a photograph of the lake itself to help set the scene but due to a slight oversight I forgot to take any! Instead I will get stuck into the wildlife which starts with a flock of at least thirty House Sparrows that were feeding on reeds near the entrance. The group was made up from a mixture of adult and juvenile birds, most of which were very tame. The young male below is almost fully grown but still retains a hint of the yellow gape at the base of its beak that would once have been used as a guide to its parents during feeding.

24782 - House Sparrow, Llangorse Lake

One of the House Sparrows stood out like no other in that it was so pale as to be almost white.

24780 - Leucistic House Sparrow, Llangorse Lake

24788 - Leucistic House Sparrow, Llangorse Lake

I believe that this individual is probably classed as leucistic, a condition caused by malfunctioning pigment cells within its feathers. Despite its colour, or lack of, it seemed to fit in just fine with its peers and was a nice find so early on in the day.

From the main centre of activity a path stretches through fields along the lakes western shore for a couple of miles. Much of the bird life was centred in the air where large flocks of Swallows were making the most of the perfect hunting conditions, mixed in with the occasional House Martin. Swifts were nowhere to be seen but the hirundine set was completed with a large colony of Sand Martins at the paths terminus. The lake itself was relatively quiet with the exception of 126 Mute Swans and a small flock of Canada Geese. The fields were a bit more productive with four White Wagtails and only the second Whinchat that I have ever seen outside of Scotland. Normally I have to travel to Mull to find this species so to see one so close to home was very nice indeed.

On the odd occasion that the sun managed to break through the clouds it was clear that the meadows which border the lake would have been alive with Butterflies a little earlier on in the season. Although they were past their best there were still several species on offer starting with my favourite, the Common Blue.

24784 - Common Blue, Llangorse Lake

I was also very happy to photograph my first "white" species of the year in the shape of a Green Veined White. Check out the detail in its eyes!

24783 - Green Veined White, Llangorse Lake

Sticking with the theme of unusual variants that this post began with, we also found a rarer form of the Meadow Brown that has two white spots in the black dot instead of just one.

24786 - Meadow Brown, Llangorse Lake

Apparently this is a not uncommon variation in this species but it certainly threw my identification skills which had one white spot as a key feature to look for.

Although this was our first visit to Llangorse Lake I have a feeling that it definitely wont be our last, especially now that we are getting into the season where waterfowl numbers should be starting to build up on areas of water such as this. The chance of something rare stopping off there before the year is out is a distinct possibility.


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Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)

Monday, August 15, 2011 Adam Tilt 5 Comments

I am happy to report that my missing moth that I had planned to photograph last Friday reappeared safe and well late last night. Somehow it had managed to travel from upstairs to downstairs and from the front to the back of the house without either of us seeing it. With it back under our watchful gaze I was able to reconfirm my original identification that this was a male Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), the biggest moth yet to grace my fledgling list. The windowsill provided a perfect backdrop for photography, especially when dealing with what is on the outside at least a somewhat dark species.

24813 - Large Yellow Underwing

As with many butterflies and moths, the rather drab exterior seen above conceals something far more exciting within. The Large Yellow Underwing gets its name from the brightly coloured hindwings that become visible once in flight, or as seen below when a human lifts up one of the forewings with a finger.

24814 - Large Yellow Underwing

Over the weekend I picked up my first moth guide to aid in identification as I was finding trawling through photographs on the internet less than productive. I've gone with the "Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland" by Martin Townsend, Paul Waring and Richard Lewington, and let me tell you that it has been a revelation. The quality of the drawings, the brief but informative descriptions, the layout, the ring binding, heck even the thickness of the pages are all absolutely perfect. Not only is this the best moth guide I have seen but I think it has to be up there as one of, if not the best wildlife guide I have ever used. If you are interested in moths then this has to be a must buy.


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Horse Fly and Pink Grasshopper, Gower

Friday, August 12, 2011 Adam Tilt 5 Comments

I was originally planning on bringing you a couple of photographs of a Yellow Underwing in this post, the latest moth species to pay a visit to my house after dark. Unfortunately it has escaped my clutches and is now hiding somewhere in the spare bedroom so that one will have to wait. Instead I thought I would stick with the insect theme and return to our Gower walk from the end of July where we had a couple of nice new finds. The first of these was a Horse Fly that we spotted on the way into Millwood near the Penrice Estate

24713 - Horse Fly, Millwood, Gower

24714 - Horse Fly, Millwood, Gower

I believe that this is a female given that it appeared to be looking for a suitable place to lay eggs, and also due to the fact that the eyes are separated from each other whereas they are joined on the male. In terms of size I would estimate that the body was at least twenty millimeters long which made for a formidable approach when combined with the low but loud drone from its wings. I'm glad that I kept my distance as it is the female of the species that feeds on blood and can give a very nasty bite.

The second interesting insect was found just behind the sand dunes at Oxwich Beach. It was a grasshopper and not hard to miss given that it was bright pink and stood out like a sore thumb.

24719 - Pink Grasshopper, Oxwich, Gower

Depending on which source you read this unusual pink colouration is either down to a genetic mutation or simply the colour of young grasshoppers. Either way it seems to be a rare occurrence to actually see one in the flesh which makes this find doubly exciting. Unfortunately it didn't stick around for long as I would have liked to get some better photographs for identification purposes, but from this angle I think it is most likely a Common Field Grasshopper.


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The Manorial Waste of The Seigniory of Gower

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Adam Tilt 2 Comments

On my walk last night I noticed that a couple of new signs have gone up at various entrances to the common land that makes up my local patch. Most of these were the normal ones that you would expect to see including no camping and no fires, but it was this large typed notice that caught my attention.


As you can see the title of this document is "The Manorial Waste of The Seigniory of Gower". I read it and the proceeding paragraphs several times and was still none the wiser about their meaning, mainly as a result of not being fluent in legal jargon. As a result I have just spent the last hour or so researching and think I have finally worked out what the notice is trying to say. First a few definitions:
  • seigniory - position, authority or domain of a feudal lord. In this case we are referring to the domain of Gower, whose past lords have included Oliver Cromwell himself and whose current owner is the Lord of Beauforts estate.
  • manorial waste - the land associated with a Manor that was neither the Demesne land of the lord of the manor, nor granted out to tenants. It often comprised hedgerows, verges, and scrubland of little agricultural value.
  • demesne - in general land retained by the estate owner and not granted out to tenants. The term usually referred to the land of a feudal overlord which he retained for his own personal use.
What we end up with is a simple, if less elegant, title "The Common Land of the Gower Estate". In the UK common land is typically owned by a single person, but everyone has the right to at least access it. Often traditional rights such as grazing cattle, collecting firewood or cutting turf for fuel also apply. Bryn-bach Common of which I write regularly is one such area where people are free to let their animals graze or to simply enjoy the land for their own pleasure.

Section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925 covers these rights but also includes provision for restrictions to be put in place to protect the land for those that use it and to conserve flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features and any object of historical interest. It is the addition of new restrictions (listed from a to j) to the areas detailed at the start of the document that I believe has prompted the appearance of these notices. Item (j) is particularly curious as it prohibits the molesting of cattle. Is that something that people really need to be told not to do?

Whilst trying to decipher various legal documents in the course of writing this post I stumbled across a news item concerning a biodiversity project that is being implemented across part of my patch. This is to be a three year effort whose main aims are to reduce invasive natives such as bracken and soft rush, reduce invasive non-natives including rhododendron, rebalance grazing, reduce illegal off-road use, reduce illegal fly tipping and deliver appropriate conservation management. This is great news but something that does not appear to have been publicised locally. I for one would be very interested to hear what the plans are and to get involved if possible. The project information, limited though it currently is, can be found here.


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Oak Mildew, 22-Spot Ladybird and Burnet Moth Caterpillar

Tuesday, August 09, 2011 Adam Tilt 2 Comments

I've just got back from a walk around my local patch which would have delivered a nice sunset if it wasn't for a large bank of cloud that rolled in at the most inopportune moment. There was still plenty to look at though including the largest gathering of Swallows that I have yet seen there. At least thirty individuals were hunting over the freshly mown fields which may not sound that many to some, but for here it represents a significant increase over the norm. Up on Bryn-bach-Common things were very quiet with just a few Meadow Pipits and a large flock of Carrion Crows on their way to the evening roost.

On the road from the common down towards Pontlliw we noticed that certain areas of the hedgerows were covered in a white substance. At first glance I assumed that a passing vehicle has perhaps splashed mud up from the road which had since dried, but closer inspection revealed that we were in fact looking at some sort of fungal growth.

Oak Mildew and Burnet Moth Caterpillar

As can be seen in the photo above the main species to be infected were the young Oak trees, which has led me to the diagnosis of a significant infestation of Oak Mildew. This is a white powdery fungus that usually appears in late summer and can retard the growth of young plants or even kill tree seedlings. Up until 1907 much of Europe was free from Oak Mildew epidemics but it became much more widespread after introduction from North America. An interesting article regarding this pathogen and its life cycle can be found here. Those with eagle eyes will have noticed a Burnet Moth caterpillar hanging on to the bottom edge of the leaf, one of many in this area.

Literally on the next leaf across from the one shown above there was sat a bright yellow Ladybird, something I have never seen before.

22-Spot Ladybird

It is called the 22-Spot Ladybird and usually has, as you can probably guess, about 22 black spots. Interestingly this species is particularly fond of feeding on mildew which I imagine explains its proximity to the Oak Mildew infestation.


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New Garden Arrivals

Monday, August 08, 2011 Adam Tilt 15 Comments

I've been doing a lot of work to our garden recently to improve it both for our own enjoyment and to enhance its suitability for all sorts of wildlife. We are now starting to reap the rewards with a large increase in moths, butterflies and other insects, not to mention the variety and numbers of birds that are visiting our collection of feeders. It has been very pleasing to see that several avian species have decided that our little patch is just the kind of place that they want to bring up their families, as the numbers of juveniles seen so far this year is way ahead of the last. My favourites have been the Blue Tits that have such great little characters that its hard not to love them.

24744 - Blue Tit

24732 - Blue Tit

24731 - Blue Tit

24730 - Blue Tit

We have also had several young Great Tits though they seem far more wary of people that their Blue cousins.

24741 - Great Tit

Our pair of Dunnocks look to have had a successful year as we have two juveniles visiting on a regular basis. I just about managed to photograph one of the adults (below) before it once more disappeared into the undergrowth.

24734 - Dunnock

Our most colourful, and incidentally the noisiest, visitors are the Goldfinches. I have never had much luck photographing this species in the past but remarkably a pair arrived whilst I was laying on the grass just beneath the feeders. I was able to prop myself up on one elbow without disturbing them to get what are by far my best pictures of these brilliant birds. What makes them doubly special is that they were in my own garden.

24735 - Goldfinch

24738 - Goldfinch

Away from our regular birds we have also been treated to a brand new garden species in the form of a young Nuthatch. We only saw it briefly on a couple of occasions but I'm hopeful that it may make a return. A male Bullfinch has also been visiting more frequently and he does a fine job of hoovering up seed that has been spilt on the ground by the other birds. For this I am eternally grateful as I currently have bird seed germinating all over the place! If only the others were as thorough in cleaning up after themselves.


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