When I first saw a Buzzard on the ground like this but couldn’t see any sign of it having caught any prey, I wondered if it might be ill. My fellow birders quickly put me right – the Buzzard was probably worming. I never thought a bird of prey would eat something so tiny as an earthworm but needs must when prey is hard to find, or catch. And, indeed, I could see that the end of this bird’s beak was a bit grubby with soil. It was fascinating to watch, especially as the Magpies sneakily tried to pinch what the Buzzard was finding.
I start to put on my jacket before heading out on my daily walk when something flutters on the sleeve. It’s a moth, this moth, and I have no idea how it got there. Did it land on me during yesterday’s walk and spend the night on the jacket that I’d just flung over the back of a chair? Or did it creep in through the gap in a barely open window during the night?
A moth expert on Twitter tells me it’s a Pearly underwing (Peridroma saucia), a moth that doesn’t breed in Britain but migrates here from Europe, most often during September and October. No wonder it’s looking a little faded after such a long flight. I keep it inside during the day and release it after dark, hoping that will help it avoid any hungry birds.
As well as the phenomenal Black terns I shared on Saturday, my visit to Parc Tredelerch produced another avian treat, this Kingfisher, at first perching on the edge of the boardwalk, then, later, appearing right in front of us as we searched the skies for the terns. Most of my recent views of Kingfishers have been of a fleeting flash of teal streaking rapidly past, so it was especially nice to have this one sit a short while quite close by.
Over the summer, one of the local fields I regularly walk around was a sea of yellow, chock full of tall flowering Ragwort plants.
Now that it’s autumn, the landscape has changed to a rich brown, dotted with tiny spots of white, the fluffy Ragwort seeds. It would be easy to overlook this brown field but, when you look closely, the seedheads are quite lovely.
Phenomenal fliers effortlessly performing awesome aerobatics…. It’s easy to get carried away and, at the same time, difficult to describe adequately in words the flying skills of members of the Tern family. It also proved extremely difficult, even with my new camera, to get good photographs as they swooped and swerved, dipped and dived, feeding on tiny insects both on and above the water.
These are juvenile Black terns (Childonias niger), rare visitors to south Wales, so it’s been a treat for many birders this week to have seen first one, then yesterday a second bird, feeding over the lake in Cardiff’s Parc Tredelerch. I spent several magical hours with a friend at the lake yesterday, watching and marvelling at these thrilling fliers.
As the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre has only 400 records of the very easily identifiable Sycamore tarspot (Rhytisma acerinum) in its database, SEWBReC staff have chosen this fungus to be the September species of the month to inspire as many people as possible to find and record this fungus. Using the Welsh records database Aderyn, it’s possible to see where people have recorded Sycamore tarspot and, more importantly for this exercise, where they haven’t. I know this fungus is very common in my local area, yet there are few records.
So, I’m making it my mission during my walks this month to find and record Sycamore tarspot in as many 1-km squares as possible. I got off to a good start on Wednesday, with records logged in four new squares. It will be interesting to see how many more I can get, and to see how many records other people manage to find over the next few weeks. I’m picking the map will change dramatically by 30 September.
I know cleanliness is really essential for birds to keep their feathers in good condition but, watching these Linnets enjoying their bathing on the edge of Cardiff Bay, I think there was also a huge element of fun involved.
Thanks to my fellow local birders who found first one (first sighting to Graham), then two (Mat spotted the second), and then a third (Ian got all three, and was trying very hard to turn a Reed bunting into a fourth), I managed to get all my Whinchats in a row during Sunday morning’s walk.
These weren’t my first Whinchats of the autumn – they were the sixth, seventh and eighth, but this might well be the first time I’ve seen three together. And every single one is a little gem!
Today’s focus is on one of the smaller things in life, specifically every gardener’s friend, one of the aphid munchers, the hoverfly larva.
In fact, not just one larva, but many, and from more than one species, feasting on aphid-infested Wild parsnip plants. The larvae in the photos above have been identified as being one of the Syrphus species of hoverfly, while those below, according to an expert, are probably Melangyna compositarum agg / umbelltarum. All would need rearing to adulthood for more precise identification.
It’s worth checking the stems, leaves, seedheads of plants with aphid infestations as hoverfly larvae are almost certain to be lurking there somewhere.
Teal obviously like Cosmeston’s dragonfly pond but they’re easily freaked by passing walkers and their dogs, and fly in panic back to the safety of an inaccessible pond on the other side of the nearby woodland.
But if you’re patient and wait, perhaps slightly obscured behind a shrub, sometimes no more than ten minutes, like avian yoyos, the Teal will return to the dragonfly pond once again. On Saturday morning, five little beauties were doing just this … and all the while the Mallards wondered what the fuss was about.