It’s probably not escaped your notice, and it certainly hasn’t mine, that the last few months have been somewhat barren on here when it comes to updates concerning my Patchwork Challenge. The reasons for this are nothing beyond the usual; lack of time, work and holidays. On a personal level the gap is more than a little annoying as I was really hoping to keep up a good frequency of visits to give a true representation of what’s out there. Realistically that was always going to be tough so to make amends I got right back on the horse last Sunday with a couple of hours spent exploring the western end of Cefn Drum. My hope was that we wouldn’t be too late to find a few Whitethroats but sadly didn’t manage to hit lucky in the areas we searched. There were however plenty of other birds around, many with young, which gave us a great opportunity to confirm a few patch breeders. Stonechats were the most obvious with at least two family groups whilst nearby we watched a Willow Warbler carrying food into the undergrowth. We also got good views of a young Green Woodpecker which was avidly calling to one of its parents hidden nearby and will clearly be a master of the ‘yaffle’ when it grows up. There was also a family of Crows which makes me wonder if they may have been offspring from the nest I mentioned in my previous patch update.
All the regulars were also present which was good to see although the Skylarks have stopped singing and thick Bracken now covers what back in May was open grassland. The Yellowhammers are still calling though and we got good views of at least two individuals, but I’m sorry to say the Swifts look to have headed south on their long migration. The patch will be a much poorer place without them. One bird definitely still here however are the Jackdaws and boy do they look to have had a good year. They’ve always been pretty numerous here but we currently have a huge flock patrolling the area, a fact that this Red Kite now realises thanks to an ill-timed visit. I doubt it’s ever been mobbed in quite such numbers before.
So no new species for the patch bird list but there were a few new ticks when it comes to butterflies and dragonflies. Despite the ground being absolutely parched there were several Keeled Skimmers patrolling what’s left of the boggiest sections including a female avidly laying eggs. Their discovery was as much of a surprise as their identification because to be honest I’d not heard of the species before. Just goes to show that we’re always learning.
There were also a couple of Golden-ringed Dragonflies and what I think were Common Hawkers down in the wooded lower section of the valley. A lack of wind there had created something of a sun trap which was also attracting various butterflies in good number. All were quality species, especially the Peacock which remarkably may be my first of the year. Bit late I know.
We also spotted a rather curious insect resembling a bee but which I’m almost certain is not. I’ve had a good look through my reference books and have so far drawn a blank. Any ideas?
Update 06/08/2013 – Many thanks to AJ for identifying the mystery insect as a Large Tachinid.