99/365 Yellow dishwashers

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I knew that one of the Pied wagtail’s vernacular names is Polly dishwasher but I’ve only just found out today that its cousin, the Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), is sometimes known as Yellow dishwasher … and Barley bird, and Gypsy bird, and Winter wagtail, and Oatseed bird. Such fascinating names, and such pretty little birds. These two, a male (above) and female (below), were picking their way along the rocks of the Ely River embankment in Cardiff Bay this morning.

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98/365 Under pressure

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Judging by how single-mindedly this male Chaffinch was searching the ground for food snacks and how he totally ignored me when I moved quite close to him – and, in fact, walked even closer towards me, I’m guessing he had several hungry offspring in a nest somewhere nearby and was feeling pressured to fill those gaping beaks.

190408 chaffinch (1)

97/365 Fluttering along

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I took myself along to Grangemoor Park today, hoping its central hillock would block the cool north-easterly winds so that I might find some butterflies on the warmer, sheltered, river side … and I did. The three Orange-tips – all males – were my first of the year, as was the single Green-veined white (at least, I think it’s a Green-veined white – I do find the whites can be a little confusing).

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The four Peacocks were mostly too zippy to photograph, until I caught one enjoying the sunshine on a wooden railing. And the two Brimstones were also speeding along the edge of the pathways, until one stopped to refuel and I managed to grab a couple of snaps of it. I love butterflies!

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96/365 Gorse weevils and shieldbugs

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I got some strange looks today when I was out walking – nothing unusual about that really. This time it was because I had my nose in a gorse bush looking for its special critters – and I found them. First, I was delighted to spot two tiny Gorse weevils (Exapion ulicis). I’ve only found them once before and these two led me a merry dance, in and around the gorse leaves, not wanting to have their photo taken. One disappeared but I managed to grab a couple of pics of the other.

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The other critters were much easier, at least ten of them, probably many more, hiding in plain sight – that’s how well camouflaged they are. These Gorse shieldbugs (Piezodorus lituratus) were also camera shy and the gorse thorns made a few holes in my hands as I tried to pull the gorse this way and that to get some photos. But it was worth every speck of blood!

95/365 Braving the weather

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I only managed to grab an hour’s walk today, once again dodging the rain showers that have been rolling in throughout the day. I thought I might blog about the wild garlic that’s covering every inch of the wilder areas in Penarth’s Alexandra Park but decided it would be better to wait until the flowers are at their peak as that would make for better photos. Then, as I was checking out the garlic and taking a few shots, my eye was caught by the number of insects sitting on their leaves, basking in the fleeting patches of sunshine, braving the weather on this mostly grey wet day. So here they are …

94/365 Wet and wild

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We’re in the grip of a wintery blast here at the moment, though without the snow my friends in the Valleys have (not) been enjoying. Luckily, I managed to time my stroll around the local parks to coincide with a break in the heavy rain and hail showers, searching for whichever wildflowers I could find in bloom. They’re all rather damp but I quite like them adorned with raindrops.

92/365 Barrage wags

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190402 pied wagtail (1)

Over the past couple of weeks local birders have been finding migrating Wheatears stopping over on the huge pile of rocks that is the Cardiff Barrage, the man-made structure that was built in the 1990s to cut Cardiff Bay off from the Bristol Channel and turn it in to a virtual lake. The Wheatears are returning from over-wintering in tropical Africa and, after taking a short breather on the Barrage, they head further north to their breeding grounds in- and up-land. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate any Wheatears today but the many Pied wagtails were entertaining, flitting busily hither and yon.

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91/365 New arrivals

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At 9am this morning, one of these Moorhen parents was still sitting on five eggs. By the time I got to the pond at 11.30 there were five newly hatched little bundles of fluff, two of which were already venturing out of the nest. And Mum and Dad were already mating, in preparation for their next brood. If these are the same Moorhens that bred at this site last year, they had three broods in total, I think, and those born first were helping the parents feed the subsequent generations. I’ll be keeping an eye on what happens this year.

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90/365 Marsh merry-golds

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Now before you feel the need to correct the spelling of ‘merry-gold’ in my title, let me just say that it was deliberate because I find Marsh marigolds such cheery, merry flowers, and it always makes me smile to see them. I spotted some yesterday in Cardiff’s Heath Park, and they’re also in full flower at the moment in Penarth’s Alexandra Park, where I went for a meander earlier today.