177/365 Skimmers

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I was just saying to someone the other day that I haven’t been seeing many dragonflies this year and what happens? The very next time I go walking at Cosmeston, I see several.

190626 black-tailed skimmers (2)

These two Black-tailed skimmers were the most obliging, as they tend to station themselves along the pathways through the wildflower fields, rising up as you get near them and then re-settling a little further along the path. If you watch where they land and you’re slow and quiet as you approach, you can get quite near them.

190626 black-tailed skimmers (1)

176/365 More new arrivals

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190625 moorhen family (5)

On April Fool’s day I reported on the hatching of five Moorhen chicks in one of the ponds at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. Nearly two months on, I’m delighted to report that all five of those chicks are still alive and thriving, and they now have a brand new bunch of five siblings, their parents’ second brood of the year. Raising them is a real family affair, as the older siblings help to feed and look after their little brothers and sisters. And there’s still time for the mum and dad to have yet another brood. I’ll be watching.

190625 moorhen family (1)

175/365 The eye of faith

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You’re just going to have to believe me when I tell you that the photo on the left below is of a Cuckoo in a tree, and the photo on the right is of a Hobby in the same tree four minutes later.

Today’s photos were taken during yesterday’s Glamorgan Bird Club field trip to RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath on the Somerset Levels, a very watery place, as you can imagine, and one where, depending on the time of year, you’re almost guaranteed to see Marsh harriers, Bitterns, Great white and Little egrets. So, here they are, plus a couple of extras. It was a grand day out, as usual on these birding field trips.

A Grey heron hunts in one of the lush reens …

190624 heron in a reen

The obligatory blurry bittern fly-past shot.

190624 bittern flypast

The equally obligatory distant Marsh harrier shot … but I did manage to get two in one frame.

190624 marsh harriers

Great white egrets aplenty …

190624 great white egret

Black-tailed godwits and a couple of Lapwings doing a turn of the pond. And “Look at me! Look at me!” called the handsome little Whitethroat, so we did.

174/365 Foxgloves

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I’m out on a birding trip today and may be home late so here’s a little something I prepared earlier on the gorgeous Foxgloves that I’ve been spotting, growing at the edges of train tracks heading up the Welsh Valleys, and under trees, alongside hedgerows and amongst the bracken at Aberbargoed Grasslands. Foxy places perhaps? Their liking for the places frequented by foxes is the only reason Richard Mabey comes up with in my Flora Britannica for their Foxglove name. It’s a mystery!

190623 foxgloves (1)

173/365 Orange hawkweed

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190622 orange hawkweed (3)

The Orange hawkweed (also known as Fox-and-cubs and Grim the collier) was putting on a magnificent display in Cathays Cemetery today.

190622 orange hawkweed (1)

So, I thought I’d better grab some photos because this is a cemetery that is (mis)managed by the ‘neat and tidy’ brigade, those who place value in strimming everything to within an inch of its life rather than in the beauty of the wildflowers and the food they provide to insects.

190622 orange hawkweed (2)

172/365 Flitillaries

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My mis-spelling of the word fritillaries is deliberate – the darn things never keep still. They’re either constantly flitting from place to place at a great rate of knots or, when they do settle, they either disappear into the long grass so you can’t find them or they perch on a flower to refuel but never stop flapping their wings for a moment.

190621 small pearl-bordered fritillary (1)

Those are my excuses for the Small pearl-bordered fritillaries in today’s photos being out of focus and/or obscured by blades of grass!

190621 small pearl-bordered fritillary (2)

Still, I spent a glorious few hours with them, and their cousins the Marsh fritillaries, at Aberbargoed Grasslands National Nature Reserve. A little patience was required, as huge menacing clouds kept rolling over but, in the gaps between, when the sun came out, so did the butterflies.

190621 small pearl-bordered fritillary (3)

It was a magical way to spend the summer solstice!

190621 small pearl-bordered fritillary (4)

171/365 Just resting?

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190620 jay (1)

I’m not sure what this Jay was up to, sitting still on the grass fairly close to a busy path. Its wing weren’t spread so it wasn’t sunning itself or anting, and it didn’t seem to be distressed so I don’t think it had been attacked by anything. It also didn’t look like a particularly young bird, but maybe it was and was just waiting for its parents to feed it. Whatever the truth of the matter, it had gone by the time I walked back this way a couple of hours later.

190620 jay (2)

170/365 Growing fast

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It’s time for an update on the Lesser black-backed gulls who are rearing their brood among the chimney pots on a house in the next street to mine.

190619 lesser black-backed gull chicks (1)

First off, though I thought initially that there were only two, there are, in fact, three chicks, though one is significantly bigger than the other two and much more aggressive when it comes to demanding food from its parents.

190619 lesser black-backed gull chicks (2)

I was a little worried that all the recent rain might have caused them problems as the parents seem to leave them on their own a lot but they all look reasonably healthy so far (they’re at least two weeks old now).

190619 lesser black-backed gull

It must take a lot of effort from the parents to keep their hunger satisfied – if it ever is. I spotted one of the parents with a long bit of fish – young eel? – hanging out of its mouth the other day. I bet that soon got gobbled up when it was later regurgitated. Another progress report soon!

190619 lesser black-backed gull chicks (3)

169/365 Emergence

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Remember I said on Friday that they’d be ‘coming soon‘, well here they are. The Six-spot burnet moths have begun to emerge, buzzing around the wildflowers like little red-and-black bumblebees. Delightful!

190618 six-spot burnet (1)190618 six-spot burnet (2)190618 six-spot burnet (3)190618 six-spot burnet (4)190618 six-spot burnet (5)190618 six-spot burnet (6)

168/365 From pristine to tatty

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Butterflies have a hard life. Having to weave their way through a maze of wildflowers and long grasses, squabbling with other butterflies, taking evasive manoeuvres to avoid being eaten, these all take their toll on creatures that are not very robust to begin with.

190617 small copper

During today’s stroll around Cosmeston, I discovered a stunning, pristine Small copper, presumably newly emerged, one of their second brood for the year, but I also saw a very tatty looking Common blue, its wings frayed around the edges, its colour very faded, its life almost over. Yet it was battling on into a strong headwind, not giving up. There’s a lesson there, I think.

190617 common blue