Sunday, 23 October 2016

Autumn Garden

This week in the garden......

A very quiet moth trap but new for the year were Red-Line Quaker, Green Brindled Crescent (photo below) ....

...and a Blair's Shoulder-Knot. 

 In our wild meadow patch these plants I've yet to find out what they are, but resemble lettuce for a long time, have suddenly grown really tall - well, 2 of them.... 

 and have even opened some flowers! Very exciting.
 We have it good authority from the company that it is to be mowed/strimmed in February and then throughout the  year will all re-grow and maybe produce new plants we haven't seen this year.

Our Rowan tree is almost bare. The leaves and berries all gone!

We have a Hazel bush growing next to the Rowan. Always a favourite of ours but we do maintain it's height. Lovely large rounded leaves with a fine point at the tip/end and usually have a soft velvet feel to them.

The Sycamore tree at the end of our garden, but is actually belonging to a neighbour in their garden, and our Acer tree have been dropping the leaves like fun this week....!

Next door's apple tree has been dropping apples too. If fallen it's usually a good idea to leave them on the ground for insects and birds to feast on.

Our other Rowan tree still has berries on and the blackbirds have discovered this one this week! Too shy for a photo though!

 This is what  sycamore seed looks like. When they fall of the trees they resemble a helicopter and also nicknamed helicopter seeds ...

This was the view of the sunset form the house this evening ....

There are good movements of blackbirds and thrushes this time of year. If you've never heard a Redwing call before, then step outside your door in the evening, when its dark, and just stand still and should hear a  high pitched, slightly drawn out sound. That'll be the Redwings' flight call whilst  migrating at night. Also seen and heard in the daytime.
(I couldn't find an audio file to paste onto this for you sorry).

Friday, 14 October 2016

mini twitch !!

So yesterday an American wader was found on one of our local patches -  Kenfig Nature reserve, here in South Wales.
A rare visitor to the UK in general but with weather conditions across the Atlantic last week we suspected something would turn up in the UK. Sure enough there has been a steady stream of rare migrant birds to the UK in recent weeks. And we've also had prolonged easterly winds.
My husband took me to see it this morning - he went yesterday as soon as the news broke.
It's called a Baird's Sandpiper. Sweet little wader.
 Now I admit to not being very good at identifying unusual waders so credit to the experts out there who are very experienced.

Plenty of our local birders have been to see it as it will be a county record for them, and/or a Welsh record and even British record. For me - a lifer !!! Never seen one before today !
It was quite confiding - approachable within reason. We were all careful not to frighten it so that it did not fly off and therefore other birders could come to see it.
It has amazing markings on its back and has slightly longer wings than some other similar sized waders which enables it to fly long distance. A very exciting morning!

We put the moth trap out this week too and caught the following moths....

Cypress Carpet - not very common but spreading. New species for the garden for us here and we have had one at our caravan moth trap this year and last year.

Barred Sallow

Black Rustic

Blair's Shoulder Knot (pretending to be dead!)

All Autumnal species and a lovely surprise.
Whilst attending the moth trap I heard some Redwings flying overhead and Fieldfares.
Winter is coming!
Back soon!

Monday, 10 October 2016

What a great weekend !

So we made the most of the fine weather here in South Wales on the weekend and went to our caravan. We went on some walks following our usual routes and were not disappointed with what we saw!
First up was an encounter with a Red Kite flying over the site and around the headland, including over us briefly.

Always a magnificent bird to photograph. As always I took loads and narrowed it down to the best ones, then couldn't decide which to put on here. The one below isn't quite perfect but look closely and you can him/her looking straight down the camera lens ! Look how red the forked tail is. It's grey head, a pristine condition bird, with red breast and tummy, streaked. It's brown back with  fainter markings in the middle of wings and the white patches under the wings which are always obvious when in flight and identifying.

A few House Sparrows were perched in a bush next to us by some barns - seemed like a nice photo to take!

Further along were 2 Small White butterflies making the most of the few remaining flowers. 

Then our daughter, with her eagle eyes, spotted this Small Copper butterfly at rest in some grass and ferns near us and the footpath.  A very small butterfly and not always easy to see.

There are many Stonechats around the whole area where we are. They seem to have a had good breeding year. I can't not take a photo a stunning male Stonechat! 

Robins also seem to be in good numbers with many singing from bushes. This one out in the open on a post. 

In a sheltered area along a footpath were some fine looking trees. This is Oak. Unmistakable with this unusual shaped leaf. 
Gorgeous green changing to brown. 

In a bushy area was a resting Red Admiral which was trying to avoid being spotted by a hunting dragonfly nearby.

Back out onto the normal footpath through the dunes, a fine looking male Kestrel was perched on a post. On approach to take its photo, yet still far enough away from him, he took off and I grabbed a quick flight shot or two. Male Kestrels have a grey head and a reddish-brown back. And both male and females have a little black 'moustache' markings either side of their bills. 

 Some small gatherings of gulls were on the beach - mainly Herring Gulls, here with a Carrion Crow.

Something else that seems plentiful are hawthorn berries! There are many bushes and they are fully laden with berries. Here's hoping for some winter thrushes to feast on them!

There was a young Goldfinch doing the rounds too. Not quite got his full set of colours as that of an adult.

We put out our little moth trap overnight in the hope we would get one or two nice was cooler but as we're now in October and coastal we had a surprise in the morning! There were loads of moths! I couldn't quite believe it. The first one that got my attention was this one below. I knew it was different and that we'd never seen one before and so as our usual moth trap routine entails we collect them in tubes first then identify indoors afterwards. And so we did. This one turned out to be The Anomalous! A first for us. Different markings even though it's mainly brown, with a bit of grey, and what we call kidney marks near the edges of the wings, which are whiter and obvious. These are local around our part of the UK and indeed the southern part of the UK but are more common up in the north. Mainly on the wing in August to September.

This beetle appeared on the patio next to me so I quickly took its record shot photo. A bright mirrored green with reddish legs. 
Harpalus affinis is a type of ground beetle.

So back in the trap were a few of these Flounced Chestnut moths. Lovely autumnal colours and quite variable from darker to paler.

Several Feathered Ranunculus were inside too. Another species we haven't seen or recorded. Also variable in colour. Some we had were quite green. Kidney mark quite obvious here with their blended browns and greys. Feathered antennae are apparent in the males. A coastal occurring species around the UK.

The Snout here is common throughout the UK. Distinguished by it's different shape.

Not the best of photos again but this is a Red-Line Quaker. A gorgeous autumnal species of moth. Brown with a red line angled inwards from the outer corner of the wings, and a black spot on both sides of the wings.

And finally another autumnal species called Lunar Underwing. Common and variable as we had 2 different coloured ones. Quite obvious and easy to remember once your eye is trained in on them.

Now this is not a moth - it's a caddisfly and this particular species is called Caperer. We often see caddisflies in and around the moth traps. 

After the moths were released we went on a walk through the nearby sheep field, which didn't have any sheep in this time, which overlooks a  marshy area surrounded by bushes and trees and reeds. Along the footpath we all spotted this species of fungus. Quite a nice looking shape. We are not knowledgeable in this area so will seek out an identification.

All of the ferns are dying back now, changing their colours from rich green in the summer months to brown.

Later on we headed out to overlook the beach for a Red-throated Diver that my husband had seen through his telescope. But it didn't oblige for a photo! Even though it was in the bay on the incoming tide it was still distant for a  photo and did what divers do best for several minutes at a time - diving! Instead I took a photo on the mobile phone against the telescope of this Grey Heron which had appeared on the shoreline.

Before leaving the caravan to come home our daughter spotted a caterpillar which my husband saved this time by placing it into longer grass -  Fox moth caterpillar.