This week there has been a concerted effort to remove some of the non-native invasive species that are unfortunately found on the reserve. Given the location of these we have had the chance to get to areas of the reserve not often explored. Along the River Vyrnwy the sound of Kingfisher and Dipper were a regular occurrence, with a Tawny Owl also being flushed from the woodland.
With so much Hazel in the area being covered it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the fungi, Hazel Glue (Glue fungi - Hymenochaete corrugate) was found. However, the amazing shapes which look more like artwork were quite impressive and had us scratching our heads about how they had been created. As the name suggests it glues deadwood (twigs, branches) on to the living tree off the ground which means it avoids the competition with the soil fungi species.
Hazel Glue close-up.
Hazel Glue artwork – not a great image but all these twigs are glued together and are hanging off the branch just visible at the top of image.
It has been the non-avian species that has really caught the eye this week. A Broad-leaved Helleborine, a species of Orchid, was found within the woodland. This species hadn’t been recorded on the reserve for over 10 years and in a slightly different area to previous records.
Other sightings of interest has been, both Willow and Marsh Tits along Yellow Trail, Goshawk over village, 5 Little Grebe have remained at top of lake, and Jays are seemingly everywhere (flock of 14 along Green Trail). At this time of year Jays, along with numerous other species, are busy foraging for acorns and stashing them away ready for winter.
Group of Jays
Macrolepidoptera of the Week
The most eye catching find of the week was a very colourful and spiky/hairy caterpillar found on a Hazel leaf. Sadly it was too difficult to get a photo, despite Gethin’s best attempts, but after a quick internet search it was fairly simple to identify as a Pale Tussock. A fairly common species in England and Wales with a few caught on the reserve earlier in the year.
The majority of land managed by the RSPB at Lake Vyrnwy is run as an Organic Farm by the RSPB Farm team. This week saw the 76th Annual Sheep Sale take place at the farm on Friday. In the past 3 weeks the farmers have had a hectic time rounding up the sheep from the moors and selecting those for the sale, along with setting up the shed with a little help from a few willing volunteers. The auctioneers, Morris Marshall & Pool of Welshpool, come to the farm to sell the many Ewes and Lambs (1400 in total this year) and it is believed to be the only place in the UK where this type of auction takes place (auction on farm rather than at a market).
Build up to the sale
My rivalry with Adam took a nice turn for the better (for me anyway!) when I took a drive around the lake on Saturday (20th). Between the dam and tower I found a small group of ducks which to my amazement consisted of a Common Scoter (99th of the summer), a Pintail, 6 Wigeon and a few Mallard. That might not sound that amazing but they were my first Pintail and Wigeon of the summer and only the 3rd record of Pintail for the reserve! These birds were later seen from the Lakeside Hide along with 26 Teal and 5 Little Grebe. So Pintail and Wigeon take me to 107 species since the start of April and surpasses Adams list. However, if it wasn’t for Adam keeping a list I may not have tried as hard to find new species along with many other species such as dragonflies and butterflies, so thanks goes to Adam.
Pintail from Lakeside Hide
Other wildlife highlights have been; the first Common Darter of the summer (16th), a Hobby below the Hotel (19th), and the Otter was seen fishing below the dam for at least 20 minutes at 8am on the 16th. A male Redstart along the Green Trail (feeding around Jupiter) and a Wheatear along the rocky southern shoreline were lingering summer migrants (21st).
Male Redstart along Green Trail
Wheatear along southern shoreline
Marcolepidoptera of the Week
In the past week the weather has been idea for moths, humid mild nights, which has meant several new moths for the year being caught including: Oak Hook-tip, Flounced Chestnut, Dusky Thorn and September Thorn. You don’t just get moths in a moth trap with a Wasp, Orange Ladybird and a couple of Hawthorn Shieldbugs caught this week along with many craneflies and midges!!
So moth of the week this time goes to a very intricately patterned ‘French’ moth – Merveille du Jour, which apparently translates as ‘wonder of the day’. Despite the name it is fairly common and widespread in the UK and I imagine is on many moth-ers wish list. The larval foodplant is the immature flowers and leaves of Pedunculate Oak and probably Sessile Oak. The moth itself is well designed to camouflage itself against lichen covered trees.
Merveille du Jour (all photos taken by myself during the past week)
Adam has now migrated to RSPB Ynys-hir, along with fellow intern Tom, to start their second half of the internship. A huge thanks goes to both of them for their hard work throughout the last 6 months. With regards this blog, thanks has to go to Adam for his fantastically informative weekly posts which is going to be hard to continue to such a standard! Both interns got stuck right in to reserve work from monitoring on the moors to leading walks. They also came up with their own projects, Adam set up bat surveys and a fruitful butterfly transect but he wasn’t up for giving one of the horses a lift off the hill!
Adam and friend
Tom created a scale model Solar System trail. The Solar System trail was completed at the end of August and can be viewed along the Green Trail as you walk along the path to the waterfall at the top end of the lake. With each planet there is a brief description along with a few interesting facts, including how far away the nearest star would be at the scale used.
Solar System trail
As Adam mentioned in his final post, he managed to see 105 species of bird on the reserve during his 6 months here. There has been a friendly rivalry between Adam and myself, and having arrived a month later I have been struggling to catch up with Adam. However, today (14th) I found my 105th species…… a MOORHEN (a rare bird at Lake Vyrnwy!). With 2 weeks of my stay remaining will I manage to beat Adam???
Another local rarity was found off the dam on the 4th, an immature Shelduck which only stayed the one day (I was on holiday so missed it!). In the past week the lake has had: 5 Little Grebe, 5 Tufted Duck, 10 Teal, a Great Crested Grebe and 240 Lesser Black-backed Gulls came in to roost on the 7th between 7-8pm. Kingfishers continue to be seen around the lake including below the dam, along Green Trail and bottom of Dinas Mawydd road. 2 Dippers were seen below the dam on the 12th and Chiffchaffs have started to sing again, heard at several locations around the reserve. The butterfly transect was done this week but, despite the glorious weather, only 5 butterflies were recorded. A few dragonflies were still about with Black Darters and a couple of Brown Hawkers being the more obvious ones.
Brown Hawker ovipositing in small pond
While working around the reserve there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of Fungi about. Autumn is a great time of year to get out and about to see the amazing colours and shapes of Fungi, though remember some are poisoness and can be deadly!! One interesting looking Fungi is this Coral Fungi which was found along the butterfly transect and is only a couple of centimetres high. If anyone happens to know what species of Fungi this is it would be great to hear from you (comment here, facebook, twitter or email).
Coral Fungi - But which one?
The recent cold nights have put us off trying to use the moth trap. However it was put out on the 13th due to a slightly milder forecast and produced a few interesting moths including Pink-barred Sallow and Green-brindled Crescent. But, for me anyway, Macro-Lepidoptera of the Week goes to the Black Rustic. Yes I know its black, but I am always amazed by just how black it is. With its charcoal sheen and flecks of gold poking through I think this is an incredible looking moth and proves they don’t need vibrant colours to stand out.