Village Rats and Dippers

Sunday, September 13, 2015 Adam Tilt 1 Comments

Last week we took the opportunity of another sunny evening to go looking for Grey Wagtails and Dippers along our local river. What I hadn't expected to see was this Brown Rat scurrying into cover, an animal so big that on first impression I mistook it for a Grey Squirrel.

P1150587 - Brown Rat

Now I must admit at this point that I'm a bit of a Rat fan and even kept a few as pets in my younger years. Yes no one wants to find them in their own property but out in the open, who could honestly resist that face. I'm willing to bet most of the nearby shopkeepers could and fear that this little chap has a gauntlet to run over the next few weeks. Shame as his athletic ability was second to none judging from the way it clambered amongst the branches of a large shrub.

Back to our original aim and I'm happy to report that we had great views of a single Grey Wagtail just outside the library though unfortunately a decent photograph eluded me. Perhaps I should have stood still and Emma done the running about as no matter where I was you could pretty much guarantee that the Wagtail was right next to her. I had much better luck with this Dipper which was in one of the quieter areas of town and enjoying a good preen away from prying eyes.

I've seen no sign of any juvenile Dippers along here this year but that's not to say there haven't been any. A multitude of obscured stretches of the river render a thorough search almost impossible, but I'll be keeping my eyes peeled just in case.


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Strumble Head - Mice, Seal Pups and Choughs

Friday, September 11, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Strumble Head is probably my favourite part of Pembrokeshire yet with so much going on I'd somehow managed to let over a year slip by since our last visit. We made amends last Saturday by walking the now familiar route from Strumble Head itself all the way along the coast to Porth Maenmelyn. The forecast on Friday night had promised wall to wall sunshine so I was a bit miffed to wake up to low cloud which then decided to precipitate, rather heavily in fact, for our entire journey west. It was only as we dropped down into Fishguard that the sun finally put in an appearance and thankfully that was where it stayed for the rest of the day. If it hadn't been for a strong northerly wind we'd have likely roasted but as it was conditions were perfect for a day's good walking.

P1150596 - Strumble Head


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Sunset with the Birds

Thursday, September 10, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

As September marches on it's now glaringly obvious that the days are getting shorter. We've already lost at least an hours daylight each evening and with it the sun has given up a lot of the strength which used to see dusk stretching on seemingly well into the night. At least there's still plenty of time for evening walks and so we headed off to Machynys last night. On a dropping tide there were hundreds upon hundreds of Oystercatchers feeding noisily out on the mudflats, their calls mingling with the distinctive sound of burbling Curlews and cawing Gulls. Overhead good numbers of House Martins and Swallows were still on the wing, though noticeably less than a few weeks ago, plus we found my first Whitethroat for quite some time. It was skulking through bushes bordering the WWT reserve where we also picked up a pair of Redshank and one lone Greenshank. Out on the golf course pond the moulting Gadwall are now back in full plumage with the males in particular looking mighty fine indeed. However it was left to this rather tame Stonechat to sign off for the night.

P1150750 - Stonechat at Sunset


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#pwc2015 Grey Partridge and White Heather

Wednesday, September 09, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

August Bank Holiday was put over almost entirely to the patch this year and would you believe it but, after a barren summer delivering exactly zero new species, we finally hit pay dirt. Given the lateness of its arrival I've yet to submit my new score but can happily report that for the fourth year in a row Grey Partridge are once again gracing the slopes of Cefn Drum. The significance of this small population should not be underestimated with it being the only known site for the species in the extended Gower area, to my knowledge at least, which makes this latest sighting even more exciting. For not only could we hear at least one adult calling from somewhere within the towering Bracken but also the calls of two young chicks. Although I failed to see either for myself Emma did spot one of the tiny youngsters running through thick cover which moves the Cefn Drum Grey Partridge population from resident to breeding. Something of a result I reckon.

P1150566 - Cefn Drum


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Garden Pan-Species Listing?

Tuesday, September 08, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Pan-species listing is certainly not a new phenomenon but it has gained a huge following in recent years as birders in particular branch out into other areas of wildlife. For those new to the term a pan-species list basically involves recording any species of animal, plant, fungi or protist seen across Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands. Clearly the scope for lengthy lists is huge, along with suitable bragging rights of course, but it also serves as an excellent introduction and education to those groups of species which are far less recognised or recorded. Given the nature of this blog and my activities in the great outdoors the idea of creating a pan-species list appeals greatly, but to be frank getting started has always been more than a little daunting. Just walking along the Pembrokeshire coast this weekend revealed a plethora of plants in particular that I simply wouldn't have a clue when it comes to keying out a species and that's the reason I've held off on things for now. However, recent sunny days in our garden reminded me that I've always fancied doing a bioblitz there and that logically led on to thoughts about starting a pan-species list for the garden before heading off into the world beyond. Not only would the area covered be much more manageable but there's also chance of making some truly exceptional discoveries about what's right under our noses.

P1020386 - Froghopper

To that end I spent a couple of hours last week just running around the garden with a camera, not trying to identify anything as such but instead to get a feel for what kind of biodiversity I could expect. The results were pretty startling with a wealth of insect species in particular taking much of my attention. I'm ashamed to say that some I'd never even seen before such as the Froghoppers above and several others included in the collage below. Then there were the Bees for which a new identification book is currently on order.

Garden Insects

Summing up then this has been a slightly long winded way of saying that I'll be starting a pan-species list of our garden very soon. I've got no targets to aim for and in truth have no real idea of what we might find. What I do hope is that it will improve my knowledge and who knows, we may end up as the next home owners to discover a brand new species.


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Hogging the Moonlight

Friday, September 04, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Hard as it is to believe but I posted the first video of our garden Hedgehogs way back in May and since then they've become a regular fixture. Most of the time piles of black droppings have been their calling card but they have been spotted in the flesh on a couple of occasions although more often that not it's been our trail-cam which has granted us access to their nocturnal activities. We've tried various filming locations but the most productive seems to be be beneath the bird feeders where a combination of spilt seed and numerous slugs provides a perfect midnight feast. One modification we have had to make is to block out a few of the camera's infared LED's with tape as at close range they were simply too bright resulting in a complete white-out to any recorded footage. This quick and simple fix has performed well but that still doesn't stop the Hedgehogs getting just that little too close from time to time.

With cooler months fast approaching and wanting to do all we can to encourage the Hedgehogs to stay our garden now includes a luxurious Hedgehog House. Waterproof, well insulated and sheltered beneath a mature bush it should prove the ideal habitat for a hibernating hog. All we have to do now is wait and keep our fingers crossed.


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Bosherston Lily Ponds and Stackpole Estate

Wednesday, September 02, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago we headed West to Bosherston and the Stackpole Estate in search of Otters, birds and whatever else chose to cross our path. Normally our visits here are during mid-winter so it was a bit of a shock to the system to find the car park manned and hordes of people heading down to the beach. And who could blame them? The weather was gorgeous, warm and sunny and in truth I've never seen the place looking quite as good as this.

P1150454 - Bosherston Lily Ponds


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Another Stunning Sunset at Machynys

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

Believe it or not today is officially the start of Autumn (at least if you follow the Meteorological system as I do) and to celebrate Summer seems to have made something of a comeback. Since this morning the clouds have slowly been retreating leaving us to enjoy a perfect evening which we put to good use seeking out Grey Wagtails and Dippers on our local stream. The fruits of that expedition are for another time though as watching the sun go down reminded me that I'd yet to share a similarly enjoyable trip out to Machynys way back on the 11th August. It was one of those classic Summer evenings which will all too soon be just a distant memory but which, for now at least, are to be celebrated and looked forward to in equal measure. Temperatures were pleasantly warm with barely a breath of wind and all around us House Martins were darting this way and that. To date Machynys holds the greatest concentration of these birds I've seen all year with one particular chimney seeming to be at the epicentre of it all. At times up to thirty individuals were crowded around its structure, some resting on top whilst others simply clung to the sides. Amongst the throng were several juveniles and the noise of so much activity brought a smile to my face. I only wish this was my own chimney.

P1150416 - House Martins, Machynys


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