In a week dominated by glorious sunshine and blue skies the wildlife excelled itself with the arrival of Pied Flycatchers being my personal highlight. The first flycatchers were sighted from the Centenary Hide on 13th April and as the week progressed could also be found on the Yellow and Blue Trails.
This Pied Flycatcher was photographed on the Yellow Trail during the week. Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image.
The Sculpture Park provided some enjoyable wildlife watching with Crossbill singing in the tree tops (17th), Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker on the tree trunks and a Stoat running around on the woodland floor (16th). The surrounding Willow and Rhododendron scrub held Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. A single Rook which flew over the park on the 15th was a notable record for the reserve.
A flyover Rook was a good record for the reserve during the week. Gavin Chambers managed to capture this image of the bird.
Blooms of Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone, Dog Violet and Wood Sorrell added a splash of colour to the deciduous woodland floor. Whilst invertebrates provided colour in the form of butterflies with Orange tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Green-veined White on the wing.
Bird of prey activity increased in the fine weather with Goshawk, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard sighted flying over the lake most days. Meanwhile the Lakeside Hide continues to be the best place to watch Peregrine Falcon which perch on the cliffs opposite.
A single Oystercatcher, a scarce vagrant to the reserve, was sighted near the Lake’s Pumping Tower (14th). The lake also played host to a pair of Great Crested Grebe (Lakeside Hide, 17th), 4+ Canada Geese, Goosander, Mallard Duck, Grey Wagtail and Swallows. Dipper could be seen on both the Afon Eiddew which enters the lake at its northern end as well as downstream of the dam.
Redpoll passage was notable during the week with small numbers enjoying nyjer seed in the reserve bird feeders. Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for this image taken during the week.
Macrolepidoptera Of The Week
Our headline moth this week is another beauty, Panolis flammea, the Pine Beauty. A master of disguise this colourful moth closely resembles a pine bud when at rest on a shoot.
After late March’s large Chiffchaff arrival spring bird migration slowed through the first week of April and with fog and rain dominating this probably wasn’t too big a surprise. The conservation team are a committed bunch however and whilst out and about on the reserve managed to observe a few migrants which had decided to power through the difficult conditions. Single Sand Martins were seen on three separate occasions, the first Willow Warbler of the year (Yellow Trail, 4th), two Wheatear in fields behind the hotel and flocks of 12 and 5 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls over the lake.
After a spell of persistent rain the dam and surrounding waterfalls looked spectacular.
In comparison the second week of April was a lot more settled allowing migrant birds to filter into and over the reserve. Year firsts for Lake Vyrnwy included, Osprey (flyover, 10th), Swallow (flyover, 10th), Common Redstart (Blue Trail, 9th) and Blackcap (Sculpture Park, 11th). A single Fieldfare observed from the Blue Trail (9th) was probably on its way to Scandinavia for the summer.
The lake played host to 4x Cormorant, 6x Canada Goose, 6x Goosander (roosting, 4th) and a small number of Mallard Duck. Following the river downstream of the dam, Grey Heron, 2x Dipper and Grey Wagtail were sighted. Peregrine Falcon could also be spotted perched up on cliffs from the Lakeside Hide.
Bird feeders around the Visitor Centre and Coed y Capel hide played host to a variety of species including, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling (single female, 6th), Goldfinch, Greenfinch and lots of Siskin.
Good numbers of Siskin continue to use the reserve bird feeders. Look how bright green the male bird (top right) is compared to the three females.
Goat Willow (Pussy Willow) and Blackthorn put on a fantastic flowering display in the car parks with the large yellow male catkins of goat willow proving popular with freshly emerged bumblebees.
The blue and yellow trails continue to be productive areas for watching wildlife with Common Buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, all six of the common tit species (Great, Coal, Blue, Marsh, Willow and Long-tailed Tit), Stock Doves, Green Woodpecker, 9+ Pied Wagtail, Jay and Lesser Redpoll seen on a regular basis.
At the beginning of April the Lake Vyrnwy mothing season commenced and this week I’m introducing a new feature to the blog in which we’ll showcase some of the weird and wonderful moth species that call the reserve home.
So what are macrolepidoptera? Strictly speaking the term is used by both professional and citizen scientists to group together the larger moths and the small moths, well they’re microlepidoptera. However, confusingly some micro moths are larger than their macro relatives.
Oak Beauty is this week’s top moth. Common in the UK and an inhabitant of mature deciduous woodland, this attractive chestnut and white macro really stood out from the crowd.
This week's top moth the Oak Beauty.
Hello my name is Adam and I’m one of two interns who have joined the team at RSPB Lake Vyrnwy for the next six months. Since starting our role on the reserve me and Tom, the other intern, have managed to see 71 bird species and the main focus of today’s blog is to update you with our wildlife sightings from the month of March.
March had its fair share of dry sunny days allowing visitors and staff to enjoy the fantastic scenery.
Frosty mornings resulted in a frenzy of activity at the Coed y Capel hide feeding station with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch all regulars. Interestingly at the time of writing (30th March) the number of Siskin has greatly increased on the reserve and we hope that our nyjer seed feeders will help provide you with close views of these feisty finches.
The area between the dam and the sculpture park was a productive spot with regular sightings of Goosander, Dipper and Grey Wagtail on the river. A Firecrest sighted on the 11th may well still be in the area, take time to familiarise yourself with the call and you might catch up with this little gem on the reserve.
On the lake 5x Canada Geese, 5x Mallard, 2x Teal, 3x Little Grebe, 1x Great Crested Grebe, 3x Cormorant were seen most days, whilst 4x 1st-winter Mute Swan (8th), 3x Tufted Duck (14th), 1x male Goldeneye (29th) and 1x Redshank (14th) were only one day birds which spent most of their time resting.
This group of young Mute Swans spent one day resting on the lake, most likely after being persuaded to leave home by their parents who will be preparing for the new breeding season.
A warm spell mid-month provided perfect conditions for birds of prey to be on the wing, with a bit of patience Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon could all be seen flying over the lake. The sunshine also brought a small number of butterflies out of hibernation with Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell sighted across the reserve.
The Craig Garth-bwlch trail (blue trail) provided some great birding with 1x Green Woodpecker, 3x Raven, 20+ Starling, 2x Treecreeper, 5+ Redwing, 15+ Fieldfare and 1x Lesser Redpoll of note.
Ditches alongside many of the reserve trails are currently full of frog spawn with one pool also revealing the presence of another amphibian, a newt. The frog spawn unfortunately led to the poor newts’ demise after it became entangled within the jelly mass.
Towards the end of the month warm southerly winds resulted in our first Wheatear and Chiffchaffs of the year (25th). A large arrival of Chiffchaff was particularly evident over the last weekend of March with singing birds spread across the reserve. The warm temperatures also caused lots of toads to awaken and head towards their breeding ponds.
This little chap posed for the camera whilst en route to its breeding pond.