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).
Macrolepidoptera Of The Week
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.
The fields glisten as the suns early morning rays strike the dew, the watery cloak only missing around the sheep highway. The wheezy coo of a Wood Pigeon travels from the forest edge meanwhile a Song Thrush tilts its head and focuses on a surfacing earthworm, striking and obtaining the first food parcel for it’s offspring of the day.
Whilst wading through waist high bracken a flurry of Ringlet butterflies emerge into the air, a Golden-ringed dragonfly shoots through the fluttering mass in pursuit of midge. A breeze begins to accumulate as the suns heat intensifies, Common Buzzards rise from the tree tops flying effortlessly over the hillsides. Alarming Swallows give away the presence of a passing Hobby darting through the valley.
As evening approaches, I find myself walking along a track, pipistrelle bats float up and down the forestry rides. Suddenly a badger emerges from the long grass, stopping and sniffing the air. The fragrance of hedgerow honeysuckle fills the air, however it is not the plant’s scent that unnerves the badger, it is that of another mammal, a potential predator, which proves too much and the badger runs off into the distance. Upon reaching the forest edge I am greeted by a golden sky as the sun begins to disappear behind the hills. A Nightjar awakens, its churring carried upon a slight breeze, the sound uninterrupted for minutes at a time. The churring stops and is replaced by a round of applause as the bird’s wings clap together in display flight. The bird approaches and lands on a nearby perch its song echoing amongst the surrounding trees.
The fragrance of Honeysuckle fills the air at dusk.
Hello, so there we are, a snapshot of what a fine July day can offer at Lake Vyrnwy. Moving onto the weeks stats and facts, the lake played host to 30x Canada Geese, 20+ Mallard, 2+ Goosander, 5x Great Crested Grebe, 3x Cormorant, 3x Grey Heron, up to five pair of Common Sandpiper and 17x Lesser Black-backed Gull. Peregrine Falcons were sighted from the Lakeside Hide on a daily basis.
Large Red, Azure and Common Blue damselflies, Four-spotted Chaser and Golden-ringed Dragonfly remained on the wing alongside Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Large Skipper, and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies.
Ringlet dominated this weeks butterfly transect with 132 individuals counted.
Other interesting sightings included, Hummingbird Hawkmoth (near the Sculpture Park), 1x Hobby flew over Llanwddyn (5th), Swallow and Dipper chicks fledged around the dam, a family of Wheatear (Dinas Mawddwy Road) and Crossbill (daily, Red, Blue and Green Trails).
You may come across a smelly Stinkhorn fungus whilst walking along our trails at present.
This week’s top moth was also the mystery creature in the following photo posted on our RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page earlier in the week.
Well done to everyone who identified the creature as a moth, however if you managed to take your i.d. to the next level and named the creature as a Buff Arches, please give yourself a pat on the back now! The mystery photo zoomed into the distinctive white and orange-brown ‘arches’ which assist in the identification of this well-patterned and common UK moth.
Finally, if you would like to join us in search of Nightjar click on the following link for more details: http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-342011
Another week of mostly fine weather resulted in good butterfly and dragonfly numbers which included a new addition to the reserve list in the form of Keeled Skimmer. Common Hawker, Broad-bodied Chaser and Banded Demoiselle were recorded for the first time this year. A fresh emergence of Red Admiral butterflies was noticeable whilst good numbers of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Small Heath remained on the wing.
This late pair of Green Hairstreaks were busy creating the next generation during the week (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).
With an orange head, black body and white tail the distinctive Tree Bumblebee is a recent colonist of the UK and Lake Vyrnwy.
The pair of nesting Great Crested Grebes at the top end of the lake has unfortunately failed, with a drop in water levels most likely a contributing factor. We have our fingers crossed again however as the persistent duo were already nest building towards the end of the week. The lake also played host to 2x Oystercatcher (23rd), 3x Grey Heron, 30x Canada Geese (including one gosling), 20+ Mallard (including two duckling broods) and a family of Grey Wagtail in front of the Centenary Hide.
A pair of Dipper are currently busy feeding chicks at the dam (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).
Other interesting avian sightings during the week included a Collard Dove at Abertridwr (27th), 6x Red Kite over Llanwddyn (23rd), 2x Peregrine Falcon (daily, Lakeside Hide), Cuckoo (singing on the Red Trail), Whinchat (family parties along the Dinas Mawddwy Road), Pied Flycatcher (male Centenary Hide, 27th), Bullfinch (family party, Sculpture Park) and Crossbill (daily, Sculpture Park, Red and Blue Trails).
The Foxglove display was truly magnificent along the Bala Road.
The metallic Forester Adscita statices flies by day where it can be seen feeding on the nectar of plants like wild thyme.
Finally, earlier in the week we unveiled this mystery photo on our RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page.
Well done to everyone who identified the mystery creature as Round-leaved Sundew. This species has benefited from upland ditch blocking undertaken during the Life Active Bog Project. Acidic habitats hold a low level of nutrients for plants therefore the Sundew produces a sticky "dew" to trap insects which it then absorbs nutrients from. One lucky Sundew managed to capture a Small Heath butterfly on the reserve this week.