262/365 Ratty’s second breakfast

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It’s been a while since I’ve walked past the dipping pond at Cosmeston but I’m glad I did today as one of the resident water voles made an appearance.

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It was quite well concealed amongst the reeds at the side of the pond – that brown fur really helps them to blend in.

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In the past I’ve only seen them eating lily pads but today this little chap was munching on reed stems.

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Eventually, it noticed me standing on the boardwalk but didn’t seem too bothered and carried on eating.

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But it sure freaked out when one of the juvenile Moorhens came by to say hello!

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261/365 Almost ready to go

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Two weeks ago, on 28 August, I spotted these House martin chicks still in their wonderfully engineered mud-built home, gaping greedily whenever their parents returned with niblets of food.

Today they, and the chicks from the neighbouring two nests, were out and about, practising their flying skills and catching their own insects to eat, but returning often to their nests as if not yet quite ready to break their bonds with the comfort and safety and security of home to fly the thousands of miles to over-winter in Africa. Soon though, their time will come …

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260/365 Stonechats

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The Autumn migration flow of birds continued through Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, with several species reported: a Redstart, a Whinchat, a Spotted flycatcher and several Stonechats, two of which very kindly popped up in the hedge right in front of me.

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259/365 Bumbling around

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I keep coming back to the Devil’s-bit scabious, I know, but it’s just so lovely and so full of life now that many of the other wildflowers have gone over. Bumblebees, in particular, seem to love feasting on it. I think these are Buff-tailed bumblebees and Common carders but don’t quote me!

258/365 Staking a claim

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I’ve been reading a book by a man who has gradually been losing his hearing and, as the book progresses through a year of his life, so he has lost the sounds of certain birds whose songs are no longer within the range of his hearing. I find this incredibly sad but it’s also made me value even more the birds I can hear, like this little Robin. Having finished its breeding and parenting duties and its moult, it’s now singing to stake its claim on a nice bit of territory to see it through the lean months of winter.

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257/365 Ivy bees

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I heard them before I saw them.

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I’d been smelling the ivy flowers all day, as I walked one of my local circuits, though Cosmeston along to Lavernock and back to Penarth along the coastal path. But I hadn’t noticed any open flowers until I heard the loud buzzing coming from the ivy ahead of me on the path. It was alive with various species of bee and fly and hoverfly. And then I spotted what I was looking for – the ginger fluff and black-and-yellow-stripes of Ivy bees (Colletes hederae), my first for 2019.

You can find out more about these handsome creatures in my previous blogs here and here.

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256/365 Reed bunting

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This is not the setting I would normally associate with Reed buntings – not a reed to be seen – but this little beauty seemed perfectly at home searching for insects amongst the umbellifers in Cosmeston’s west paddock this afternoon, and the colours made for good camouflage as well.

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255/365 Scarlet pimpernel

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It occurs to me that I should be posting about the last of the summer flowers before they disappear for another year. So, here’s a pretty little thing I always enjoy seeing – it’s Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis).

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According to the First Nature website, ‘The genus name Anagallis comes from Greek and means “to delight again” – a reference to the reopening of the flowers each day when the sun comes out. The specific epithet arvensis means “of cultivated land”, which habitat is indeed commonly graced by these lovely little wildflowers.’

254/365 The bramble lovers

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190911 red admiral (1)

I think everyone would agree that blackberries, the fruit of the bramble bush, are delicious. I’m not one of those people who risks the almost obligatory scratches to go blackberrying at this time of year – I prefer to leave them to the birds and minibeasts. But, at Cosmeston yesterday, I’d been walking longer than I anticipated and my stomach was rumbling so I thought I’d grab a few to keep me going.

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Well, if looks could kill, I would never have made it home because these Red admiral butterflies were absolutely certain the blackberries belonged to them. And they weren’t going to relent, letting me get my hand really close to them without moving a millimetre. One even flew out and ‘buzzed’ me before re-settling on its chosen fruit. I got the message and left them to their feast.

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253/365 Tachina fera

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Flies are fascinating!

This bristle-backed orange-and-black beauty, Tachina fera, is commonly seen in Wales and England any time between May and October. These flies produce two broods over the summer months but their life cycle is perhaps not what you might think. Like almost 300 other fly species in Britain, these are parasitoids – the eggs they lay on plant leaves hatch as larvae that burrow their way inside the bodies of other larvae, the caterpillars of several species of moth, which they then proceed to eat to death. It’s a larvae-eat-larvae world out there, folks.

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