Top sighting this week was a flyover Yellow Wagtail from the Red Trail (23rd), this summer migrant usually inhabits lowland agricultural fields with the nearest known local population located towards Welshpool. Another highlight this week was an Osprey which flew down the lake (23rd). The lake also played host to 30x Canada Geese, 30+ Mallard, 3x Teal, 3x Great Crested Grebe, 1x Cormorant and 4x Grey Heron.
Frequent Kingfisher sightings this week included birds seen from the Lakeside Hide, below the dam and along the Afon Vyrnwy (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for this image taken at Vyrnwy last year).
Other interesting bird sightings this week included, Red Kite (regular along the Dinas Mawddwy road), Sparrowhawk (regular at the Visitor Centre), Green Woodpecker (1x juvenile, Green Trail, 1x Abertridwr), Dipper (regular, Afon Vyrnwy), Wheatear (Bala Road), Stonechat (Rhiwargor waterfall), Spotted Flycatcher (family parties, LLanwddyn and Dinas Mawddwy road) and Crossbill (Visitor Centre, Red and Green trails).
Siskin are regulars at the bird feeders at present (Many Thanks to Sam Constable for the image).
The distinctive blooms of Harebell can be seen along the Green Trail at present.
Purple Hairstreak butterfly should be searched for in the oak woodland at present with at least four sighted along the Green Trail this week (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image taken off site).
The weekly butterfly transect highlighted a fresh emergence of Peacock's, with twenty individuals counted alongside a single Comma and small numbers of Ringlet, Large White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Large Skipper.
The blooms of Common Knapweed are providing a rich source of nectar for insects at present like this Skipper butterfly.
Odonata on the wing this week included, Banded Demoiselle (first record this year), Emerald Damselfly, Black Darter, Common Hawker, Brown Hawker and Golden-ringed Dragonfly.
Look how dark this male Black Darter is in comparison to last weeks female.
Macrolepidoptera Of The Week
This week’s top moth was also the focus of attention in the following mystery photo unveiled on the RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page earlier in the week.
I can now reveal that the giant moth in the photo is a Northern Eggar. Well done to everyone who guessed correctly. Eggar moths are an important part of the Vyrnwy food web with the hairy caterpillars being a favourite meal for Cuckoo and the flying adults a food source for acrobatic Hobby’s. Dayflying ginger male Eggar moths may be seen zigzagging across the higher level trails at present.
Female Eggar moths were attracted to the light on our moth trap.
As temperatures soared on the reserve so did the number of flying invertebrates. Black Darter and Emerald Damselfly were recorded for the first time this year whilst Four-spotted Chaser, Common Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly, Brown Hawker and Golden-ringed Dragonfly could also be sighted along the reserve trails. A Holly Blue butterfly in the Eunant area was a good record. The weekly butterfly transect recorded Large White for the first occasion this year alongside good numbers of Ringlet and a small scattering of Large Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell.
The stunning Emerald Damselfly was recorded for the first time this year.
The Black Darter is a specialist of moorland habitats.
There were some great birds on the lake this week including, 8x Common Scoter (17th), 3x Teal (Lakeside Hide, 19th) and 2x Mandarin Duck (Lakeside Hide, 19th). The pair of Great Crested Grebe decided to construct another floating nest at the top end of the lake, so we have our fingers crossed yet again for them. Other regular birds utilising the lake included, 1x Cormorant, 4x Grey Heron, 10+ Herring Gull and 20+ Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Earlier in the week we unveiled the following mystery photo on the RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page.
I can now reveal that the creature lurking behind the vegetation was in fact a Grey Heron. Well done to everyone who answered correctly.
Grey Herons have been showing incredibly well from the Centenary Hide.
Other interesting bird sightings this week included, a good spread of Kingfisher records with two on the Afon Vyrnwy, one near Pont Cynon and one at the Centenary Hide. 1x Hobby flew over Llanwddyn (18th), Peregrine Falcon (family party regular along the Dinas Mawddwy road), Green Woodpecker (utilising fields near Abertridwr), Wood Warbler (1x at the Visitor Centre and 2x singing on the Purple Trail), Garden Warbler (family party at Centenary Hide,19th),1x Pied Flycatcher (Centenary Hide, 20th) and Crossbill (regular, Visitor Centre, Purple and Green Trails).
Bramble patches were alive and loud with the sound of hundreds of buzzing insects.
Peppered Moth is a species well known to anyone who has studied biology at some point in their lives. The reason for this is its connection to the study of natural selection. The Peppered Moth occurs in two colour morphs, one dark and one light, the story goes that during the industrial revolution pollution in towns, and cities left widespread coatings of soot. The dark morph moths benefited from this as they became well camouflaged and were better at hiding from predators in comparison to the light morph moths. The population of dark morph moths increased greatly in comparison to the light morph, as it was able to cope better with the selection pressure (predation).
Light morph Peppered Moths enjoy the fresh air at Lake Vyrnwy.
The fine and relatively dry weather continued this week resulting in a further reduction in height of the lake’s water levels. Unfortunately this looks to have put an end to the Great Crested Grebe’s nesting attempt for the time being. On the flip side the Centenary Hide saw an increase in activity as 1x Kingfisher (12th), 4x Grey Heron, Mallard and Grey Wagtail took advantage of the small pools which have established in front of the hide. Other birds utilising the lake during the week included, 35x Canada Geese, 2x Goosander, 50x Mallard, Black-Headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.
The receding water has resulted in the formation of small pools in front of the Centenary Hide.
The pools proved popular with a variety of birds including this Grey Wagtail.
Earlier in the week we unveiled the following photo on the RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page.
We asked our followers which species of bird had a Goshawk eaten for its dinner. Well I can now reveal that the bright blue feathers in the photograph belong to a Jay. Well done to everyone who answered correctly. Jay’s can currently be seen on most of our trails with family groups being particularly vocal. Look out for the large white rump of a Jay as it flies across a track. We also had a few Goshawk sightings during the week with the Blue Trail accounting for most of them.
Other interesting avian sightings this week included, 1x Sand Martin (headed north along the Penybontfawr road, 8th), Blackcap (singing in Sculpture Park, daily), family parties of Redstart (most trails, daily), Spotted Flycatcher (family party regular at the Sculpture Park) and Crossbill (small numbers frequent on the Blue, Red and Green Trails, including singing birds).
Family parties of Redstart are currently common on most of the trails. You may even see a striking male like the one in this photograph (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).
During the week we undertook our first Field Survey for the National Bat Monitoring Programme on a section of open heather moorland. As expected bat activity was low with a single Noctule and Daubenton’s bat recorded. However a reeling Grasshopper Warbler more than made up for the low levels of activity.
Look out for the bright yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel whilst driving along the Bala and Dinas Mawddwy roads.
Large numbers of Ringlet butterfly remained on the wing whilst a fresh emergence of Small Tortoiseshell was noticeable. Brown Hawker dragonfly was a new addition to the odonata year list. Golden-ringed dragonfly and Large Red damselfly were frequently observed on most of the trails.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has been a recent highlight whilst undertaking the weekly butterfly transect (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).
Garden Tiger takes the accolade of top moth this week. The blotchy brown and cream pattern on the forewing is highly variable and unique to each individual moth just like fingerprints in humans.
The Garden Tiger certainly has the wow factor.