Green fingers

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Coming soon to a green space near you …
Wherever I walk, I’m now seeing bulbs sending forth their green shoots, to be followed in a month or two by glorious Spring flowers. These are Wild garlic but I’m seeing a lot of Bluebell and Daffodil shoots (and there are planted Daffs already flowering in a local road verge). I’m probably being madly fanciful but I think these particular shoots look like green fingers, nails at their tips. Is this where the term originally came from, I wonder?

220127 green fingers

Lighting up the wetlands

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A male Stonechat is overwintering at Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. With his orange breast, dark head and streaky brown wings, all crisply edged in white, he’s a dapper-looking little chap, and he’s rarely still. Eyes peeled for the next tasty titbit, he prefers a lofty perch from which to survey his surroundings, and flits quickly down for the catch, then back up to the nearest best vantage point. He’s like a bright spark on a cold winter’s day.

Leafmines: Lyonetia clerkella

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I didn’t expect to post about any leafminers for a while but saw these mines on a Cherry laurel hedge I passed yesterday and realised this was one I hadn’t shared before. Though the mines are now empty and the moth pupae tucked up cosily in their cocoons for the winter, the mines created by the larvae are still visible.

220124 Lyonetia clerkella (1)

These are the mines of the Apple leaf miner moth (Lyonetia clerkella). As the name suggests, the larvae of this moth mine the leaves of Apple and other fruit trees, as well as quite a long list of other plant species. You can read more about them on the British leafminers website and see the tiny adult moth on the UK Moths website.

220124 Lyonetia clerkella (2)

Dancing with weeds

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I consider myself fortunate to have seen the courtship of Great crested grebes many times during my years residing in Britain but last Thursday was the first time I’d seen the part of their display that includes them dancing with weeds in their beaks.

220122 weed dancing (1)

I recognised the noises the birds make as they work up to their display and was lucky enough to be very close by, so quickly got my camera out of my backpack. As I did, both birds reached down under the water’s surface before emerging with long strings of slimy weed in their beaks. Pushing rapidly against the water with their feet helped them raise their bodies almost fully out of the water and their bellies bumped together as they moved their heads from side to side, almost slapping each other with the weed.

220122 weed dancing (2)

After a couple of minutes of this strenuous activity, they subsided back into the water, first one grebe then the other dropping the weed, but they continued with their usual display routine of head shaking and dipping from one side to the other. Several more minutes passed before, presumably satisfied that their pair bond had been sealed, they sailed off to carry on with their day. For me, the experience was magical, birdwatching at its absolute best!

220122 weed dancing (3)

Meet Stumpy

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I first met Stumpy in early February 2020 – nicknamed Stumpy because of the damage to its left leg, which now ends in a stump, no claw.

220120 stumpy (1)

Almost two years and several sightings later, this charming little Pied wagtail is still going strong. In fact, it’s a friendly little thing and quite fearless: if I stand completely still, it will walk past within inches of my feet.

220120 stumpy (2)

These particular photos of Stumpy were taken a couple of weeks apart, the first on 22 December last year and the second, just a couple of weeks ago, on 6 January.

Tricksy snails

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Snails are much more difficult to identify than you might imagine, especially when you don’t – as I didn’t – examine all the relevant parts of the shell that help with identification. The opening of the shell, for example, often holds key features. In this particular case, I was happy just to watch this tiny creature going about its daily life.

220119 snail