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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
Posted by Christopher G
As I write this up it is on a day when we have seen everything from hail, snow and now sunshine, truly a mixed bag of weather for the end of April. It is also an interesting time for the birds, we now have all the expected summer migrants here (including pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers, willow warblers, chiff-chaff, black cap, grasshopper warblers etc) apart from spotted flycatchers, which are always a little later in arriving, nothing unusual there, however as of yesterday (Tuesday 26th April) we still also had 2 Greenland white fronted geese on the reserve too! The latest ever record for these birds. The volunteers and wardens have spent a lot of time and energy this winter working on the woodland habitats to improve them for pied flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers, clearing some of the bramble and coppicing other areas, another benefit from this work can be experienced at the moment - that is the wonderful carpets of bluebells which are forming a blue haze on any of the woodland trails.
If you can, the next few weeks would be a great time to visit.
Posted by BeverlyD
During my final week as a Mid Wales Conservation Intern it was the large high tides that produced excellent wildlife watching. An early start in the Breakwater Hide on the 20th produced good wader numbers on the Breakwater field including, 105+ Dunlin, 100+ Redshank, 16x Bar-tailed Godwit, 100+ Curlew, whilst a scan of the estuary produced 3x Goldeneye, 17x Red-breasted Merganser and 3x Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile at the other end of the reserve visitors reported excellent views of 24x Greenland White-Fronted Geese and 1x Bean Goose near the Saltings Hide as well as another 9x Bar-tailed Godwit.
The large tides inundated the saltmarsh as can be seen from this photo looking towards the Domen Las Hide.
Bird song has built up to dawn chorus level with the musical notes of Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit and Chaffinch filling the air on a daily basis. Drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker’s can also be regularly heard from the Visitor Centre.
The Robins delightful song fills the early morning air.
Other interesting sightings on the reserve this week included, 1x Gadwall (Visitor Centre Pools, 20th), 2x Little Grebe (Visitor Centre Pools, regular) and 1x Hen Harrier (female, Domen Las Hide, regular).
Look out for ear fungus on elder trees whilst walking the Green Trail.
Finally, I’d like to wish all Ynys-hir blog readers and visitors a fruitful and wildlife packed year.
Posted by Adam J
Of the five British owl species, the Barn Owl is one of the most nocturnal in habit, therefore a day flying Barn Owl observed hunting over Covert Coch (10th) was a real treat and a personal highlight for me on the reserve this week. Another sign of Barn Owl presence on the reserve are their pellets, which consist of the indigestible parts of meals. Pellets are frequently left in a number of the reserve’s hides and if you are lucky, whole rodent skulls can sometimes be found within one.
A blanket of cloud rolled over the hills during the week.
A temperature rise resulted in the return of wetland birds to the reserve’s freshwater pools, this was particularly apparent on the Breakwater field where good numbers of wildfowl were present on the 14th including, 330+ Wigeon, 107+ Teal, 6x Shoveler and 9x Shelduck.
The resident Little Egrets continue to show well, including this individual photographed by Keith Roberts from the Domen Las Hide.
Increasing day length has prompted a range of bird species to become more vocal including the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, taking time to learn the call and drumming sound could greatly increase your chances of connecting with this miniature woodpecker on the reserve. Another species which can be heard frequently is the Red Kite as birds begin to show signs of display with the upcoming breeding season getting ever closer.
Twenty eight Greenland White-fronted Geese and 1x Bean Goose continued to show regularly just off the reserve. The birds are viewable from a public footpath running parallel to the Afon Clettwr.
Other interesting sightings included, 320+ Dunlin (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 2x Red-breasted Merganser (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 1x Hen Harrier (female, saltmarsh, daily), 1x Peregrine Falcon (Domen Las Hide, 14th) and 1x Otter (Breakwater Hide, 10th).
I managed to take this record photo of the Hen Harrier as it flew in front of the Breakwater Hide on the 14th.
Finally, the reserve will experience some large high tides at the back end of next week, peaking at 5.9m on Saturday 21st (09:57am). A seat in one of the hides overlooking the estuary should guarantee some great wildlife watching two hours either side of high tide.
Temperatures plummeted as high pressure took charge this week, this led to all of the reserve’s waterbodies freezing over and the wetland birds moving to the estuary in search of open water. The highlight on the main reserve was a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull which roamed the saltmarsh between the Breakwater and Domen Las Hides in search of food.
This Glaucous Gull spent the week searching for food along the estuary (Many Thanks to Tom Kistruck for the photo).
The single Bean Goose and 25 Greenland White-fronted Geese took to grazing just off the reserve where they could be viewed from a public footpath that runs parallel to the Afon Clettwr. The Afon Clettwr also playing host to 2x Water Pipit and 6+ Rock Pipit.
Here are a couple of record photos of the Bean Goose which is the right hand bird in the first photo and central in the second.
It was another great week for raptors on the reserve with the wintering female Hen Harrier spotted from the Domen Las Hide (6th and 8th). A male Sparrowhawk flew past the Ynys Feurig Hide with Starling prey (7th). Kestrel could be seen daily foraging near the Ynys Feurig Hide.
This wing-tagged Red Kite from Wales showed well from the Domen Las Hide during the week.
Other interesting sightings included, 9x Greylag Geese (flew past Marian Mawr Hide, 7th), 2x Goosander (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Great Crested Grebe (Breakwater Hide, 4th), 17x Grey Plover (Breakwater Hide, 8th), 2x Knot (Breakwater Hide, 8th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily) and 11x Snipe (Ynys Feurig Hide, 8th).
Many thanks to Kieth Roberts who did well to capture this otter on camera from the Domen Las Hide.
In a week with large high tides fingers were crossed that a few goodies would turn up on the reserve. We weren’t left disappointed with 1x Bean Goose in amongst a flock of 25x Greenland White-fronted Geese (viewed from Poggles Bench, 24th), 2x Slavonian Grebe (Estuary, 22nd) and 1x Glaucous Gull (Breakwater and Domen Las Hide, 22nd), being great finds by visitors to the reserve.
The view from Poggles Bench on one of this weeks large high tides.
The January Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) was undertaken on the 23rd coinciding with a whopping 5.8m high tide. Highlights from the main reserve included, 21x Greenland White-fronted Geese, 124x Shelduck, 4x Gadwall, 122x Pintail, 24x Shoveler, 409x Wigeon, 266x Teal, 5x Goldeneye, 7x Red-Breasted Merganser, 8x Little Egret, 178x Oystercatcher, 2x Ringed Plover, 31x Dunlin, 117x Redshank, 1x Spotted Redshank, 16x Black-tailed Godwit and 313x Curlew.
An excellent number of raptor species were reported during the week including, Red Kite (small numbers spread across reserve, daily), 1x Hen Harrier (female, Domen Las Hide, 22nd), 1x Goshawk (Breakwater Hide, 22nd), Peregrine Falcon (saltmarsh, regular) and 1x Merlin (Ynys Edwin, occasional).
Other interesting sightings included, 2x Great Crested Grebe (Estuary, 24th) and 1x Woodcock (flew over Visitor Centre, 21st).
This Kingfisher was photographed by Keith Roberts from the Domen Las Hide on the 19th.
A calm frosty start to the 18th provided the perfect opportunity to head out onto the reserve and do a bit of wildlife watching. On arrival at the Visitor Centre a Water Rail skidded across the frozen pools below. A Woodcock rose up from a small woodland pool on the lower Green Trail. Further along four Mistle Thrush were feeding on the short turf around the Ynys Edwin Pool with one bird later singing high up in the trees. A single Red Kite perched up to take in some early morning rays near Ynys Edwin. The Breakwater field produced a Taverner’s Goose seen feeding alongside Canada Geese, the bird an escapee which has frequented the reserve for a few years. In total 63 bird species were recorded, not bad given that the stroll coincided with a low tide.
Here is a record photo of the Taverner's Goose (left bird) alongside a Canada Goose (right bird) note the smaller size and darker plumage.
The woodland trails and their leafless canopies can feel devoid of wildlife at this time year however with a bit of strategy a woodland ramble at Ynys-hir could prove very productive. Choose a calm sunny day and take your time, making regular stops in order to listen for sounds of life. That’s the exact strategy I employed on the Green Trail during the week where a stand of larch on the lower trail provided views of foraging Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, their presence given away via a steady flow of husks from the canopy. A seeping call allowed me to locate a small Redwing flock feeding on ivy berries around the Ynys-hir Hide. Whilst eyes to the tree canopy in search of movement provided views of numerous Great, Blue and Coal Tit with the occasional Goldcrest and Treecreeper thrown in for good measure.
Keep a lookout for wing-tagged Red Kites like this one photographed by Keith Roberts.
The Visitor Centre feeding station has been a hive of activity with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Siskin all regulars. Talking of feeding the birds, are you aware that the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend is nearly upon us. Check out this link in order to find out more information on one of the UK’s biggest citizen science surveys.
Other interesting sightings this week included, 5x Gadwall (Visitor Centre Pools, regular), c.160 Teal (Ynys Edwin Pool, daily), 6+ Goldeneye (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Great Northern Diver (Breakwater Hide, occasional), 2x Grey Plover (Breakwater Hide, 18th), 8x Bar-tailed Godwit (saltmarsh, 18th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily) and 2x Stonechat (Covert Coch, daily).
Great views of Redshank can be had from the Domen Las Hide at present (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Finally, just a quick heads up that the Dovey Estuary will experience some high tides next week, peaking at 5.8m on Friday 23rd (10:14 AM). In terms of wildlife this will result in most of the saltmarsh becoming inundated with sea water pushing wintering birds up and over the railway line and onto the reserve’s wet grassland and pools. A seat in the Ynys Feurig and Saltings Hide should provide great viewing two hours before and after high tide.
Hello and Happy New Year to you all!
I’ll begin with an update on “JNA” a drake Teal with a lime green nasal saddle. The bird sighted on the Ynys Edwin pool back in December was ringed in 2012 on the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux, France. Over 160 Teal remain on the Ynys Edwin pool however there was no sign of JNA this week. Other species at Ynys Edwin included, 4x Mute Swan, 7x Shoveler, 1x Gadwall, 1x Little Egret, 1x Kestrel and 1x Stonechat.
Triggered by the increase in day length a handful of bird species have started to train there vocal chords for the upcoming breeding season with Robin, Mistle Thrush, Wren, Great Tit and even a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker heard emitting a few notes during the week.
Another sign that spring is around the corner are the early blooms of hazel. Hazel is monoecious meaning that both the male and female flowers are found on the same tree. Here you can see the small red female flower and the yellow male catkins.
With large high tides throughout the week the Breakwater field proved productive with 4x Shelduck (Ynys Feurig Hide, regular), 159x Teal (Ynys Feurig Hide, 10th), 1350+ Lapwing (Ynys Feurig Hide, 11th), 83x Dunlin (Ynys Feurig Hide, 9th), 7+ Redshank (Ynys Feurig Hide, 9th), 1x Peregrine Falcon (Ynys Feurig Hide, 11th), 1x Kestrel (Ynys Feurig Hide, 11th) and 1x Sparrowhawk (Breakwater Hide, 11th) of note.
A male Bullfinch has been showing incredibly well in front of the Domen Las Hide (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Other interesting sightings included, 1x Pink-footed Goose (saltmarsh, regular), 12+ Greylag Geese (saltmarsh, regular), 11x Goldeneye (4 male 7 female, Domen Las Hide, 10th), 2x Goosander (Domen Las Hide, 10th), 3x Red-Breasted Merganser (Breakwater Hide, 10th), 2x Little Grebe (Marian Mawr Hide, daily), 1x Red Kite (saltmarsh, daily), 1x Hen Harrier (female, Covert Du Hide, 9th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Spotted Redshank (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 6x Black-tailed Godwit (Domen Las Hide, 11th), 4x Bar-tailed Godwit (saltmarsh, 11th), 10+ Long-tailed Tit (Domen Las Hide, 10th) and 1x Brambling (Visitor Centre feeders, 7th).
Up to six Black-tailed Godwit have been feeding on the estuary viewable from the Domen Las Hide (Many Thanks to John Davis for the photo).
With thousands of wetland birds now wintering on the Dyfi estuary there is a true wildlife spectacle to be witnessed on a stroll around the reserve. A large number of birds utilise the Breakwater field for feeding and roosting where great viewing can be had from the Ynys Feurig Hide. Totals from this hide during the week included, 5+ Shelduck, 11+ Shoveler, 193x Wigeon (20th), 4x Pintail (18th), 5x Gadwall (17th), 383x Teal (20th), 400+ Lapwing, 18x Dunlin (18th) and the juvenile Chilean Flamingo which extended its stay for another week.
A small number of Black-tailed Godwit are currently wintering on the estuary where they can be seen from both the Ynys Feuirg and Domen Las Hides (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Careful scanning of over 150 Teal on the Ynys Edwin pool on the 20th didn’t lead to the rediscovery of the drake Green-winged Teal as hoped however I did find a drake Teal with a light green nasal saddle. The plastic saddle which fits around the bill was inscribed centrally with a ‘J’ and had the letters ‘NA’ hand written on both sides. Early research suggests that this bird has come from a French ringing scheme and of course I’ll keep you posted as and when the details are confirmed.
The sight of hundreds of Oystercatcher feeding on the estuary provides another spectacle on the reserve (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Other interesting sightings this week included, 15x Greylag Geese (saltmarsh, regular), 7x Shoveler (Ynys Edwin, 20th), 5x Goldeneye (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Little Grebe (Ynys Feurig Hide, 20th), 1x Kestrel (Ynys Edwin, daily), 4x Black-tailed Godwit (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Greenshank (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Green Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Barn Owl (Wetland Trail Boardwalk, 19th), Redwing (small numbers spread across the reserve) and 3+ Siskin (Visitor Centre feeders, daily).
Up to five Goldeneye can be seen regularly from the Domen Las Hide (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Finally, in what will be my final sightings instalment for 2014 I’d like to wish everyone an enjoyable festive period.
Grid reference: SN6896 (+2km)
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