Shieldbugs on gorse

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I had expected to find Gorse shieldbugs on these glowing gorse bushes (the clue’s in the name) but, in fact, the most numerous were the Hairy shieldbugs (of which there must have been at least 20).

The Gorse shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus) (above left) looks very like a Common green shieldbug but its red antennae are a distinctive identification feature. The Hairy shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum) (above right, and below) is a much more colourful character, a stylish combination of purple-brown and green, and it also has distinctive antennae, this time three white bands on a black base.

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The blues are back

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There’s something quite startling about a tiny blue creature flying through your field of vision – it’s certainly eyecatching. I saw my first Holly blue of the year during Sunday’s meander but that one didn’t linger for a photograph. Yesterday, in a location where I didn’t see any last year, they were like buses – I saw four in total, including these two that floated in together.

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Bonaparte’s gull

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Identifying gulls, especially immature gulls, can be a nightmare so I was very chuffed with myself this morning when I managed to work out which of the many gulls floating and flitting around Cardiff Bay was the 2cy Bonaparte’s gull (2cy is birding shorthand for the bird’s age – this is the second calendar year since the bird’s birth).

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This sighting was a lifer for me, and it was the 100th bird species I’ve managed to see on my patch this year (my patch being as far as I can walk in any direction from home, an approximate distance of five miles as the bird flies – bearing in mind I then have to walk the same distance home again!).

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Small but feisty

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Small but feisty; also cheeky and cheerful,  endearing, frequently noisy, wanderer of the woodland, delightful, a colourful character – I’m sure you could all think of a lot more words and phrases to describe the Blue tit, one of the ‘ordinary’ birds we probably all take for granted but probably shouldn’t, because beautiful!

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Wild in the woodland

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I thought for this week’s Sunday wildflower post, I’d take you on a walk through parts of my local woodlands to show you some of the gorgeous plants a’blooming there at the moment. There are other wildflowers too, of course – Primroses, Violets, Dog’s-mercury, etc – but my video features Wild garlic, Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage, Wood anemone, Herb-paris, Lesser celandine, Moschatel and Bluebells.

An empty cocoon

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I must admit that, at first sight, this object, which was lying on a dirt path in a paddock in my local country park, had me completely baffled. I even poked it with the toe of my shoe, thinking it might be poo. But, once I looked closer, I could see the outline of wings and realised it was an empty cocoon. But of what?

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Once I got home, I checked through the pupa images on Peter Eeles’s excellent UK Butterflies website but nothing seemed to fit. So, I posted photos of my find on Twitter and asked the man himself for help. Peter very quickly identified the cocoon as that of an Elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor), a beautiful creature that I’ve not yet seen (click on the moth’s name to see a picture on the UK Moths website). At least now I know they can be found nearby.

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Wild and flowering

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These gorgeous wildflowers are now blooming in the sunnier, more sheltered spots I pass on my daily walks:

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Bush vetch (Vicia sepium), the first of the vetches I’ve seen this year.

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Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), also known as Jack-by-the-hedge

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Honesty (Lunaria annua), originally a garden escapee but now naturalised in the local countryside

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Red campion (Silene dioica)

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Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) and, below, its cousin, Shining crane’s-bill (Geranium lucidum). As you can see, the flowers of these two are very similar but the leaves are quite different.

210416 Shining crane's-bill

Day-trippers

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Perhaps surprisingly, we don’t see Greylag geese very often at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park so when two paid a brief visit a few days ago, I walked past the lake for a look.

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I’m fairly sure this pair were day-trippers from Cardiff’s Roath Park Lake because they were much more friendly and people-aware than truly wild birds would be. One of them even recognised the sound of seed being shaken inside a plastic container and came swimming over to snaffle its share of the seed I sprinkled in the water.

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Small and green

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Slowly, slowly, more insects are emerging. When I was getting a Gorse photo for last Sunday’s yellow wildflower challenge, this teeny tiny Gorse weevil (Exapion ulicis) paid a visit. I’m not sure if it was getting salt from my hand as it seemed quite reluctant to leave.

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And yesterday I was scanning a Buddleja for leaf mines when I had the feeling I was being watched. This Common green shieldbug (Palomena prasina) was very well camouflaged sitting perfectly still on its leaf.

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