Ceredigion Moths were back with us on the 11th this month, trapping some of the more autumnal species such as pink-barred sallow, centre-barred sallow, and frosted orange, which gave a seasonal feel to the session. Other species included; copper underwing, common marbled carpet, angle shades, pinion-streaked snout, canary-shouldered thorn, September thorn, flame carpet, gold spot, small phoenix, spruce carpet, and rosy rustic. A grey dagger Acronicta psi larva at Ynys Eidiol screen on the 13th was a pleasing record for the moth group, as it is extremely difficult to separate this species from dark dagger Acronicta tridens at the adult stage without dissection. Larval foodplants include hawthorn, birch, rowan, and apple. A small copper near Breakwater on the 12th could possibly have been a 3rd generation at this time of year. An otter was seen from Saltings hide on the 17th.
In bird news, 2 kingfishers were seen from Marian Mawr on the 10th, multiple records of juvenile marsh harrier were reported between the 16th and the 19th, a merlin on the 20th, and two noisy, squabbling peregrines passed over Marian Mawr, also on the 20th. The barnacle geese influx is well under way, with a total of 420 recorded on the 20th, and a little under 400 between Domen Las and Breakwater hide on the 21st. Teal, wigeon, and pintail numbers have also begun to build as the days get colder, and linnets have been seen congregating in preparation for their imminent departure.
Now is a good time to look for glue fungus on the reserve. A dark, initially unassuming species which grows on hazel, in the autumn it becomes impressively sticky, trapping fallen twigs to the stems on which it grows.
Glue fungus, Hymenochaete corrugata (Chris Goding)
Wednesday last week was significant for the publication of The State of Nature Wales 2016, part of a UK wide suite of reports detailing the abundance and distribution trends of nearly 10,000 species, and representing the culmination of a vast number of hours spent monitoring and number crunching across a large range of conservation bodies. The outcome for Wales is mixed, with many vascular plants and butterflies in particular in decline since the 1970s. An overview can be found here http://bit.ly/2d3Kl2E, and read the full report here http://bit.ly/2dh2hDn.
Until next time...
Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, Domen Las (Karen Burns)
Welcome back to the Ynys-hir recent sightings blog. Over the next 10 months Ryan and I (the new residential interns) will aim to provide fortnightly updates on wildlife activity at the reserve.
We start with the Big Wild Sleep Out event, which began on Saturday 30th July with an evening walk lead by Dave Anning in a glorious low sun. The following morning Ceredigion Moths ran a number of traps for the campers, catching a variety of species including triple-spotted clay, smokey wainscot, scalloped oak, yellow-tail, and a pair of popular northern eggers.
Dave leads the campers in an investigation of the reserve's wildlife; Ryan Astley
Bird news over the past month includes a female hen harrier on the 30th July, a water rail near Breakwater hide on the 3rd August, as well as an osprey on the same day near farm corner, eventually soaring away towards the Dyfi at altitude. No doubt one of the recently migrated Dyfi pair. A small flock of barnacle geese were a welcome addition to the WeBS Count on the 5th, a young wheatear was seen by Domen Las on the 8th, most likely on passage, and a trio of black-tailed godwit from Ynys-feurig on the 10th. Green sandpipers were intermittently visible feeding on the exposed mud in front of the visitor centre for a sustained period over the middle of the month, hinting at the wader movements to come. These eventually manifested on the 20th August when 4 little stint, 12 curlew sandpipers, a wood sandpiper, 14 black-tailed godwit, 30 ringed plover, 5 bar-tailed godwit, and 140 curlew were recorded on Breakwater fields, accompanying 450 dunlin. As a side note, Gilbert White refers to the green sandpiper Tringa ochropus in his diaries as both green sandpiper and ‘white-rumped sand-piper’, which, as many of you will know, is the current common name for the North and South American wader Calidris fuscicollis. Perhaps an interesting example of how species names have become more fixed since White’s time. 100 barnacle geese visible from Saltings, and a greenshank from Ynys-feurig, all on 5th September, complete the bird news.
Adders have been seen on at least two occasions recently (on the 3rd and the 13th August), and common lizards (including juveniles) have been increasingly active on the Covert Coch boardwalk on warmer days. Reports of southern hawker, small red damselfly, as well as common, ruddy, and black darter continued throughout the first half of the month. It is particularly good to see the small reds, as although its increasing population trend means it occupies a position of least concern on the British Dragonfly Society’s red list, it’s scarcity in the UK still marks it out as a nationally important species.
Common lizard (Lacerta vivipara); Liam Olds
Black darter (Sympetrum danae); Liam Olds
Lastly, an appeal for photographs! If you are happy to share photographs of wildlife from Ynys-hir on the reserve blog, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your work will, of course, be acknowledged.
Until next time…
Blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus; Ryan Astley
It's the time of year when everywhere around the reserve springs into life! Seasonal highlights include the migrant songbirds which have been wonderfully active, giving visitors great views. After their unexplained absence last year wood warblers have returned en masse, singing from all corners of the reserve, it’s a joy to have them back again.
The estate team are seeing their efforts rewarded after spending many winter hours clearing within the wood to allow for improved foraging opportunities for pied flycatcher and redstart. Volunteers have invested hours checking nest boxes which has revealed a good take-up of boxes by pied flycatcher, a site specialist, in addition to other usual box users like blue and great tit. Fledglings are making their first tentative visits to the visitor centre feeders, whereas wader chicks, goslings and ducklings have taken over the inland pools.
The lapwing breeding season started off early with the first pair seen on eggs before the end of March and chicks by third week of April! Good weather, and time invested in preventing predation and managing the lowland wet grassland appears to have paid off with productivity (fledged chicks per adult) at 1.2 on 2nd June. In order to maintain population numbers lapwings need to fledge at least 0.6 young per pair each year, so it’s good news so far! As it stands some birds appear to be taking advantage of the warmer weather and are re-laying, let’s hope the weather stays mild for the rest of June.
As the summer rolls on, time is running out to spot the rare hairy dragonfly (Brachytron pratense), as Ynys-hir is one of the few places to see them in the county. Come and learn about dragonflies and damselflies at our event on Sunday 19th June, or take out a pond dipping kit and see what lurks beneath the water’s surface.