Migrants continued to arrive this week. Our first Pied Flycatcher was a male along the Yellow trail on the 13th, with the first Ring Ouzel (female along the Dinas Mawddwy road) and House Martin (over moors) seen on the same day. The first Cuckoo was heard early morning on the 16th during a Black Grouse survey along with the first few Whinchat. With an influx of Willow Warblers on the 17th came the first Blackcaps in full song along the Yellow trail and the first Redstart at the top of the Blue trail.
Pied Flycatcher (male) along Yellow Trail (17th April - Gavin Chambers)
This week saw the team of field workers starting Black Grouse surveys, which unfortunately means very early starts. So on the 16th the team were up at 2am and were off wandering the moors from 4am listening out for bubbling Black Grouse and ‘gobacking’ Red Grouse. A few Black Grouse, males and females, were heard and/or seen and a good number of Red Grouse were spread across the heather clad moorland. Tawny Owl, Ring Ouzel, Golden Plover, Cuckoo, Whinchat and Stonechat were also recorded during the grouse surveys.
Immature Goshawk over Yellow Trail (8th April - Gavin Chambers)
Other sightings from around the reserve have included a pair of Mandarin off the dam on the 14th and an immature Goshawk has been seen a few times from the Yellow/Blue trails. Otter has been seen within the last couple of weeks, a Weasel was seen up on the moors and Toads have been very active in pools including outside the Centenary Hide.
Lamb having a piggy back along Blue Trail (18th April - Gavin Chambers)
All around the lake you will see fields full of newly born lambs. Lambing began back in March but is still continuing at the RSPB farm and you have an opportunity to see Live Lambing for yourself over the next few weekends, see website for details.
From late March the summer migrants start to arrive back at Lake Vyrnwy, often a little later than the surrounding area given its altitude. The first migrant to arrive was the Chiffchaff during the last week in March and can now be heard all around the lake and a Redstart was reported just off the reserve in early April. A Tree Pipit was heard calling at the top of the Blue trail on the 5th April and the first Swallow and Willow Warbler were found on the 8th April. The first known Sand Martin to be seen was a day after the first Swallow, which is slightly unusual as they are consider one of the earliest migrants. However there are no nearby Sand Martin colonies so there is no need for them to hang around the reserve. A male Wheatear seen off the Dinas Mawddwy road on the 11th April is the most recent migrant to arrive.
One of the highlights of the past week was the appearance of an Osprey off the dam on the 9th April, initially seen by our very own Gary Slaytor and later seen catching a fish just off the dam. Another highlight has been a wintering Great Grey Shrike which has probably been around most of the winter and is thinking of heading back to its breeding grounds.
Great Grey Shrike - Photo by Gavin Chambers
The reserves field workers have begun their season of moorland monitoring and with the arrival of the sun, raptors have come out to play. Hen Harriers are back with the males starting to try and impress the females with their skydancing display, Merlins have given their all too brief glimpses and Goshawk have been seen displaying over moorland edge forestry (potentially viewable from any of our trails). The pair of Peregrines are back on their cliff opposite the Lakeside Hide and 4 Great Crested Grebes are currently arguing over who should be nesting at the top of the lake. Meadow Pipit and Skylark have been seen in good numbers and Stonechat have been seen nest building.
Female Stonechat with nesting material - Photo by Gavin Chambers
Other sightings have included 95 Black-headed Gulls (2nd April), 5 Oystercatchers on the dam (4th April) and a Redshank heard off the dam (9th April), all of which are uncommon birds on the reserve.
The warm sunny weather has given us the perfect opportunity to start our butterfly transect. The first survey on the 5th April recorded 12 Peacock, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma, with the second on the 9th April recording 20 Peacock and 2 Small Tortoiseshell. The moth trap has been out a couple of times and caught a good variety including Frosted Green, Yellow Horned, White-marked and Satellite.
2 Peacock Butterflies and a Small Tortoiseshell (top right) - Photo by Gavin Chambers
The next week should see the arrival of Pied Flycatcher and an increase in Willow Warbler, Redstart and the other early migrants. This time of year can also spring a few surprises.....
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.