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I had never seen any Fritillary butterflies until today, so, on day 22 of #30DaysWild, I’ve had a very exciting afternoon seeing my very first High Browns, Dark Greens and Small Pearl-bordereds. These butterflies were very fast fliers and didn’t settle long so I didn’t get many shots, and didn’t manage any of the High Browns. Below are three different Dark Green Fritillaries and one Small Pearl-bordered … plus a few other butterflies we saw.

180622 fritillary (1)180622 fritillary (2)180622 fritillary (3)

180622 fritillary (4)

Small pearl-bordered fritillary

I did manage to get reasonable images of some of the many lovely little Small heath butterflies, the one Six-spot burnet moth we saw, and, my favourite, this cute Large skipper. ‘Twas a grand day!

180622 Small heath

Small heath butterfly

180622 6-spot burnet

Six-spot burnet moth

180622 Large skipper

Large skipper butterfly

The secretive Reed warbler


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For day 21 of #30DaysWild and as a solstice treat, I went for a visit to the Wildlife Trust’s Parc Slip Nature Reserve. It was a lovely sunny day and I walked far and wide, seeing lots of wildlife and wildflowers, but the highlight came as I was sitting on a park bench in a distant part of the reserve eating my lunch.

180621 Reed warblers (1)

I could hear what I thought were Reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), dotting about in the reeds and bushes growing along a nearby stream, and could see the undergrowth moving as they gradually came nearer.

180621 Reed warblers (2)

These are often very shy birds and I’ve never managed very clear photos of them so I waited to see if they would pop up.

180621 Reed warblers (3)

And my patience was eventually rewarded with these fleeting views of two of a family of four Reed warblers – still not great shots but I’m happy with them.

180621 Reed warblers (4)

The bug called Grypo


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180620 Grypocoris stysi (1)

On day 20 of #30DaysWild, I went looking for plant bugs – it is National Insect Week after all – and I found newly opened umbellifer flower heads fairly swarming with the unmistakeable plant bug, Grypocoris stysi. Look for them during June and July, mostly feasting on the pollen of umbellifer and nettle flowers, though they’re also quite partial to the occasional aphid. There are over 10,000 species of plant / leaf / grass bugs, but little Grypo’s distinctive markings mean it’s one that’s easy to identify.

Fat thighs are cool!


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Not only is this day 19 of #30DaysWild, but today is also the second day of National Insect Week. To celebrate, here is one of my favourite British insects, the Swollen-thighed Beetle (Oedemera nobilis). I see these little guys on almost every type of flower at this time of year  – this one’s on a Common spotted-orchid – and they always make me smile. It’s the male beetles that have those fat thighs – I haven’t been able to find out why, so if you know, please do tell.

180619 Swollen-thigh beetle

Ringlet no.1


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Today, on day 18 of #30DaysWild, I walked along the coastal path to Lavernock Nature Reserve, intending to do some sea-watching – and I did – I watched the sea for over an hour. I saw a couple of gulls and a lot of waves and a couple of large container ships heading up and down the channel. Of course, that was not what I was hoping to see. Over the past few days, there have been reports of large numbers of Manx shearwaters flying back and forth, as well as the occasional Storm petrel, Arctic skua, Gannets, Guillemots, Fulmars, etc. Today there were none – well, maybe 2 or 3 birds a long long long way out – but none that I could see with my bins.

180618 ringlet (1)

Luckily for me, though, I bumped into Alan, a fellow birder, who’s also a fan of butterflies and dragonflies – many of us birders are – and he very kindly showed me a Ringlet butterfly he’d just spotted. It was the first I’d seen in 2018 and, once I’d finished staring at the sea, I wandered around Lavernock and found another – or, possibly, the same one – plus a few other butterflies. So, I may not have bagged a new bird for my year list but I did bag a new butterfly (metaphorically speaking, of course).

180618 ringlet (2)

The supporting cast consisted of Large skippers, Common blues and a Small white.

Birding at Bargoed & Cefn Gelligaer


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I was out birding again on day 17 of #30DaysWild, once again with Glamorgan Bird Club, this time to Cefn Gelligaer and the Bargoed uplands. And what a wonderful day it was, in spite of the light rain that set in after lunch (though that does mean I don’t have a lot of photos). One of our club members, Lee, guided us around his local patch and it was a real bonus tapping in to his local knowledge.

180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (6)180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (2)180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (5)

This is ‘big sky’ country, with a long history of human settlement, from the era of Megalithic chambered tombs through the years of Roman road-building to the coal mining of 19th and early 20th centuries. There are ancient trees, superbly crafted dry-stone walls, old droving roads and narrow green lanes.

As well as the 42 bird species we saw – a very respectable list, given the conditions – we also had a weasel checking us out, before streaking across the lane behind us, and I saw my first Welsh mountain ponies, very handsome little beasts with quite oddly shaped heads.

180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (11)180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (10)

Lee kindly gave us each a brochure for a walking trail that includes many of the local historical features so I will definitely be heading back for another look.

180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (9)

Spot the Stonechat

Here’s our bird list: Carrion crow, Mistle thrush, Lesser black-backed gull, Pheasant, Robin, Skylark, Wren, Starling, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Meadow pipit, Swallow, Willow warbler, Great tit, Great spotted woodpecker, Swift, Blackbird, Herring gull, Dunnock, Pied wagtail, Buzzard, Curlew, Red kite, Green woodpecker, Song thrush, Stonechat, Stock dove, Tree pipit, Redstart, Coal tit, Blackcap, Nuthatch, Long-tailed tit, Cuckoo, Blue tit, Linnet, Reed bunting, Whinchat, Magpie, and House sparrow.

180617 Birding Bargoed uplands (1)

Swallows swooping over the fields

Birding at Kenfig


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For day 16 of #30DaysWild I joined my fellow Glamorgan Bird Club members for their monthly wander around Kenfig National Nature Reserve. It started grey and later rained a little, so conditions weren’t ideal for birding and, in the leafy fullness of summer, birds can often be difficult to spot anyway.

180616 1 Kenfig NNR

The plus side of this for me is that I get to practise my listening skills as I gradually learn to recognise more and more bird songs and calls. And, fortunately, Ceri had brought his ’scope along, so we could all take a look at those birds that were distant specks on the tree-tops.

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The highlight for me was this Sparrowhawk that Rob spotted sitting on the shore of Kenfig Pool.

180616 4 sparrowhawk

Though its origin is unknown and so it might not be a wild bird, the Pink-footed goose was still a nice addition to the Canada and Greylag geese on the pool.

180616 5 geese

And you know I can’t resist the young ones: these are just a couple of today’s Cootlets.

180616 6 coot chicks

Considering the conditions and the time of year, I reckon we did pretty well to spot and/or hear a total of 47 species. As I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, my personal list was 43: Collared dove, Woodpigeon, Starling, Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock, Swift, Lesser black-backed gull, Willow warbler, Greenfinch, Blackcap, Carrion crow, Magpie, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, House sparrow, Song thrush, Skylark, Whitethroat, Robin, Stonechat, Linnet, Herring gull, Great tit, Buzzard, Raven, Lapwing, Sand martin, Coot, Mallard, Canada goose, Sparrowhawk, Greylag goose, Mute swan, Pink-footed goose Grey heron, Pied wagtail, Reed warbler, Chaffinch, Herring gull, Cormorant, Great crested grebe, Blue tit.

Ely embankment revisited


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My regular followers will remember that, over the winter months, when there were more birds around, I posted a regular monthly roundup of the action along the embankment where the River Ely flows in to Cardiff Bay. Today, for day 15 of #30DaysWild, I thought I’d take another look. Here’s what I found …

180615 1 Ely embankment

The embankment is a riot of colour, with both native wildflowers and garden escapees in full bloom.

180615 2 linnet

Two Linnets were foraging on flower seeds but were very skittish.

180615 3 wildflowers

Loving these Oxeye daisies.

180615 4 pied wagtail

A juvenile Pied wagtail was feeding near the waterline.

180615 5 feral pigeons

A flock of 7 Feral pigeons was also foraging amongst the flowers

180615 6 mallard

This Mallard had found a sunny spot for a snooze.

180615 7 mute swan

23 Mute swans were floating up the river, many taking the opportunity to preen as they went.

180615 8 coots

9 Coots were congregating at the water’s edge.

180615 9 small tortoiseshell

I saw my first Small tortoiseshell butterfly of the year.

180615 10 colourful embankment

Looking back up the river as an Aquabus shows sightseers the river. The black hulk is a new apartment block.

180615 11 carrion crow

And finally, a Carrion crow was prospecting for tasty morsels.



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Sometimes, when all the news seems to be full of doom and gloom, it’s nice to have something in our lives to make us smile. So, on day 14 of #30DaysWild, I went looking for cute babies ’cause they always make me smile – not human babies but baby birds. First, I found these three gorgeous little Canada goose goslings with their parents by the east lake at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.

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And then, at the dipping pond, I spent a very enjoyable half hour watching the many Moorhen babies feeding, swimming, and preening. I hope they make you smile as well.

On the Bramble


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Last Sunday, on #WildflowerHour, the challenge was to find #plantsforpollinators, i.e. to find wildflowers that support a variety of the insects that act as pollinators. I had found several different insects on Bramble flowers last week so posted a series of photos that showed them. And that gave me the idea for day 13 of #30DaysWild, namely to see what insects I could find on the local Bramble bushes. It was overcast and a bit cooler today, so I didn’t see as many butterflies as last week, but there were bees and bumblebees, flies and hoverflies, one butterfly, and a number of bugs and beetles. Here they are …