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Recent sightings

  • 26 July 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 20th-26th July 2014


    Top sighting this week was a flyover Yellow Wagtail from the Red Trail (23rd), this summer migrant usually inhabits lowland agricultural fields with the nearest known local population located towards Welshpool. Another highlight this week was an Osprey which flew down the lake (23rd). The lake also played host to 30x Canada Geese, 30+ Mallard, 3x Teal, 3x Great Crested Grebe, 1x Cormorant and 4x Grey Heron.

    Frequent Kingfisher sightings this week included birds seen from the Lakeside Hide, below the dam and along the Afon Vyrnwy (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for this image taken at Vyrnwy last year).

    Other interesting bird sightings this week included, Red Kite (regular along the Dinas Mawddwy road), Sparrowhawk (regular at the Visitor Centre), Green Woodpecker (1x juvenile, Green Trail, 1x Abertridwr), Dipper (regular, Afon Vyrnwy), Wheatear (Bala Road), Stonechat (Rhiwargor waterfall), Spotted Flycatcher (family parties, LLanwddyn and Dinas Mawddwy road) and Crossbill (Visitor Centre, Red and Green trails).

    Siskin are regulars at the bird feeders at present (Many Thanks to Sam Constable for the image).

    The distinctive blooms of Harebell can be seen along the Green Trail at present.

    Purple Hairstreak butterfly should be searched for in the oak woodland at present with at least four sighted along the Green Trail this week (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image taken off site).

    The weekly butterfly transect highlighted a fresh emergence of Peacock's, with twenty individuals counted alongside a single Comma and small numbers of Ringlet, Large White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Large Skipper.

    The blooms of Common Knapweed are providing a rich source of nectar for insects at present like this Skipper butterfly.

    Odonata on the wing this week included, Banded Demoiselle (first record this year), Emerald Damselfly, Black Darter, Common Hawker, Brown Hawker and Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

    Look how dark this male Black Darter is in comparison to last weeks female.

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    This week’s top moth was also the focus of attention in the following mystery photo unveiled on the RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page earlier in the week.

    I can now reveal that the giant moth in the photo is a Northern Eggar. Well done to everyone who guessed correctly. Eggar moths are an important part of the Vyrnwy food web with the hairy caterpillars being a favourite meal for Cuckoo and the flying adults a food source for acrobatic Hobby’s. Dayflying ginger male Eggar moths may be seen zigzagging across the higher level trails at present.

     Female Eggar moths were attracted to the light on our moth trap.



    Posted by Adam J

  • 24 July 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 13th-19th July 2014


    As temperatures soared on the reserve so did the number of flying invertebrates. Black Darter and Emerald Damselfly were recorded for the first time this year whilst Four-spotted Chaser, Common Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly, Brown Hawker and Golden-ringed Dragonfly could also be sighted along the reserve trails. A Holly Blue butterfly in the Eunant area was a good record. The weekly butterfly transect recorded Large White for the first occasion this year alongside good numbers of Ringlet and a small scattering of Large Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell.

    The stunning Emerald Damselfly was recorded for the first time this year.

    The Black Darter is a specialist of moorland habitats.

    There were some great birds on the lake this week including, 8x Common Scoter (17th), 3x Teal (Lakeside Hide, 19th) and 2x Mandarin Duck (Lakeside Hide, 19th). The pair of Great Crested Grebe decided to construct another floating nest at the top end of the lake, so we have our fingers crossed yet again for them. Other regular birds utilising the lake included, 1x Cormorant, 4x Grey Heron, 10+ Herring Gull and 20+ Lesser Black-backed Gull.

    Earlier in the week we unveiled the following mystery photo on the RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page.

    I can now reveal that the creature lurking behind the vegetation was in fact a Grey Heron. Well done to everyone who answered correctly.

    Grey Herons have been showing incredibly well from the Centenary Hide.

    Other interesting bird sightings this week included, a good spread of Kingfisher records with two on the Afon Vyrnwy, one near Pont Cynon and one at the Centenary Hide. 1x Hobby flew over Llanwddyn (18th), Peregrine Falcon (family party regular along the Dinas Mawddwy road), Green Woodpecker (utilising fields near Abertridwr), Wood Warbler (1x at the Visitor Centre and 2x singing on the Purple Trail), Garden Warbler (family party at Centenary Hide,19th),1x Pied Flycatcher (Centenary Hide, 20th) and Crossbill (regular, Visitor Centre, Purple and Green Trails).

    Bramble patches were alive and loud with the sound of hundreds of buzzing insects.

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    Peppered Moth is a species well known to anyone who has studied biology at some point in their lives. The reason for this is its connection to the study of natural selection. The Peppered Moth occurs in two colour morphs, one dark and one light, the story goes that during the industrial revolution pollution in towns, and cities left widespread coatings of soot. The dark morph moths benefited from this as they became well camouflaged and were better at hiding from predators in comparison to the light morph moths. The population of dark morph moths increased greatly in comparison to the light morph, as it was able to cope better with the selection pressure (predation).

     Light morph Peppered Moths enjoy the fresh air at Lake Vyrnwy.



    Posted by Adam J

  • 13 July 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 6th-12th July 2014


    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.



    Posted by Adam J

  • 7 July 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 28th June-5th July 2014

    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.

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    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:



    Posted by Adam J

  • 29 June 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 21st-27th June 2014


    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.

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    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.



    Posted by Adam J

  • 21 June 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 14th-20th June 2014


    Blue skies and warm sunshine are always in a recipe for a good day to be out and about however if you add a large splash of Common Scoter and a drop(in) of Osprey then your day’s rating goes from good to absolutely brilliant. That’s exactly what happened on the 19th June when an Osprey flew over the dam early doors followed by a late afternoon discovery of 90 Common Scoter resting mid way up the lake. Common Scoter can frequently be seen at the coast during the winter however during the month of June undertake cross country movements resulting in occasional flocks dropping down onto inland water bodies to rest.

    Ninety Common Scoter dropped in for a rest during the week.

    Gull numbers started to build on the lake, peaking at 21 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. The gulls were dropping down to bathe after feeding in nearby recently cut fields. A small roost of Goosander and whistling Common Sandpiper provided further interest on the lake this week.

    The lake looked stunning in the sunshine.

    The warm weather was perfect for butterflies to be on the wing with the following ten species recorded on the reserve, Small pearl-bordered fritillary, Large skipper, Red admiral, Peacock, Green-viened white, Speckled wood, Small copper, Meadow brown, Ringlet and Small heath.

    Large skipper was one of ten butterfly species sighted on the reserve.

    Golden-ringed dragonfly, Four-spotted chaser and Azure damselfly were new Odonata records for the reserve this year with Large red and Common blue damselfly numbers also high along the reserve’s water bodies.

    Look out midges this Golden-ringed dragonfly will have worked up an appetite after emerging from the nymphal cast.

    Other interesting sightings this week included, Hummingbird Hawkmoth over the dam (14th), Peregrine Falcon (daily from Lakeside Hide), Redstart (daily, Sculpture Park), singing Chiffchaff (daily, Yellow, Blue, Red Trails) and Bullfinch (occasional, Yellow Trail).

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    We’ve got an extra special moth for you this week in the form of Ashworth’s Rustic. The UK has a unique subspecies which only exists in Wales and it can be found here on the reserve.  Ashworth’s Rustic likes to live on rocky hillsides where its grey colouration helps to keep it well camouflaged.

    Unique to Wales the Ashworth’s Rustic Xestia ashworthii  is this week’s top moth.

    Finally, followers of the RSPB Mid Wales Facebook Page will have seen our mystery photo post earlier in the week. I can now reveal that this little chick is a Pied Flycatcher. You can just make out a white bar on the wing a distinctive feature also seen on adult birds. The majority of Pied Flycatcher chicks fledged this week and with a bit of luck may be seen on the Yellow and Blue Trails.

    And the mystery chick is... a Pied Flycatcher (Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the photo).



    Posted by Adam J

  • 16 June 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 31st May -13th June 2014


    A baby bird bonanza hit the reserve with fledged chicks visible and very audible throughout. Most numerous were the tit species with families of Blue, Great and Coal Tit in the deciduous woodland. Interestingly the number of Blue and Great Tit nests in the reserve boxes has more than doubled from last year with the birds most likely benefiting from the mild and relatively dry winter. A family of Marsh Tit spotted in the hotel wood proved successful breeding in the area (8th). The majority of Nuthatch nests had fledged by the 1st June with showy family flocks on the Yellow and Blue trails. Pied Flycatcher and Redstart chicks made their maiden flights from the 8th June onwards. Branched Tawny Owl chicks were observed from the Yellow Trail with this scene no doubt being played out on most of the reserve’s trails. Tawny Owls are another species which looked to have benefited from the mild winter with eight breeding attempts in the reserve boxes from which at least twelve chicks have been logged. A complete contrast to last year when no Tawny Owl nesting attempts were recorded.

    The majority of Pied Flycatcher chicks are due to fledge by the end of next week (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the photograph).

    The Sculpture Park has been a wildlife hub and given its close proximity to the Visitor Centre deserves a special mention. The Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks fledged on the 5th leaving their honeybee neighbours behind for a summer of peace and quiet. A pair of Redstarts were busy searching for caterpillars (8th) and a pair of Common Crossbill could be heard calling on a daily basis. Of botanical interest the blooms of Pignut, Ribwort Plantain and Meadow Buttercup added a splash of colour amongst the greenery.

    The Sculpture Park is playing host to a great variety of wildlife at present.

    The flowers of Fox-and-cubs proved popular with the reserve’s bumblebees.

    On the lake Canada Geese have started to flock with ten, presumably failed breeders, opposite the Lakeside Hide (6th). The Great Crested Grebe pair continued incubation at the top end of the lake whilst Common Sandpipers could be observed from the Lakeside Hide and dam.

    Other avian sightings included, Cuckoo singing along the Red and Purple trails. It’s worth noting that from mid June onwards adult birds will start the return journey to their wintering grounds, so anyone who wants to hear this magnificent brood parasite needs to act soon. Red Kites soared above most of the reserve with the Dinas Mawddwy Road proving to be the most reliable place for a sighting, with stunning breeding plumaged Whinchat and Stonechat also present here. Several Crossbills were observed from the Blue Trail (13th). Finally a second Quail was heard singing on 5th June.

    With regards to invertebrates a large swarm of honeybees was an impressive sight around the Visitor Centre on 31st May with the swarm eventually making their way towards the Sculpture Park during the day. Green-Veined Whites continued to dominate butterfly transects with Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Heath adding some diversity. There was also a notable increase in Large Red and Common Blue damselfly numbers over this period.

    Eyebright is currently in bloom on the Green Trail, this species is a partial parasite stealing nutrients from the roots of perennial plants.

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    We’ve had some excellent trapping sessions over the past fortnight and I’ve got a couple of intriguing specimens for you to enjoy including a giant and one for the locals.

    With a huge forewing length of 46mm Poplar Hawkmoth is one of the largest moths you’ll see in the UK.

    An inhabitant of hillsides and moorland the caterpillars of the Welsh Wave feed on rowan leaves. Welsh Wave’s also occur in Scotland, northern and southwest England.



    Posted by Adam J

  • 1 June 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 24th -30th May 2014


    As we approach late spring the trees are now in full leaf and breeding passerine birds are frantically gleaning insects from vegetation to feed their avid offspring. One set of parents in particular, the Sculpture Park Great Spotted Woodpeckers, have been very busy as their noisy chicks reached near fledging age. Interestingly the woodpecker nesting tree also plays host to a colony of honeybees with the two species seemingly happy neighbours.

    The begging calls of Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks can be heard from the white bridge in the Sculpture Park.

    Regular readers of this blog will be glad to know that the Great Crested Grebe nest at the top end of the lake has survived the recent wet weather with the pair incubating throughout this week.

    Pied Flycatchers are very obvious in the woodland at present as adult birds make repeated visits to nest boxes in order to feed their newly hatched chicks. Wood Warblers in comparison are mainly on eggs however excellent views of singing males can still be obtained with at least eight males within one kilometre of the dam.

    Yellow inflorescences currently dominate the flora with Marsh Marigold in streams and Welsh Poppy, Yellow Pimpernel, Silverweed, Tormentil, Broom and Common Cow-wheat along the tracks and woodland edge.

    The bright yellow flowers of Common Cow-wheat currently fill the woodland near the hotel.

    The weekly butterfly transect produced twenty Green-Veined Whites and a single Orange-tip. Other butterfly species seen during the week included Green Hairstreak, Small Heath and Peacock. Large Red Damselflies were also noted along small water bodies.

     Green-Veined Whites dominated this week's butterfly transect.

     Large Red Damselflies are now on the wing. This poor chap has quite a few mites hitching a ride (brown dots near the rear back legs).

    Other interesting sightings this week included, 2x Crossbill (Sculpture Park, 30th), Quail (one singing, 30th), Sparrowhawk (regular display over the Blue Trail), Goosander (female from Lakeside Hide, 24th) and Bullfinch (daily on Yellow Trail).

    Macrolepidoptera Of The Week

    Red Twin-spot Carpet is this week’s top moth. The caterpillars of this species feed on bedstraws.

     Red Twin-spot Carpet was sighted on moorland during the week (Many Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).



    Posted by Adam J

  • 24 May 2014

    Lake Vyrnwy Recent Sightings 17th -23rd May 2014


    The dawn chorus is one of Britain’s greatest natural wonders, this week we set our alarm clocks early and headed out with visitors to experience the Vyrnwy chorus. The group weren’t left disappointed as hundreds of woodland birds filled the air with music on what turned out to be a glorious sunny morning. Surprisingly Common Redstart was one of the first songsters followed quickly by thrushes and Wrens. Willow Warbler was the late riser with the first bird heard at about 5:25am. Great scope views of Common Redstart and Common Whitethroat proved popular with both visitors and guides.

    The woodland birds also performed well on our bird song recognition course with obliging Pied Flycatchers on the Yellow Trail, ubiquitous Chiffchaff, a typically skulky Garden Warbler on the Yellow Trail and at least one pair of Wood Warbler showing pretty well near the boathouse.

     Red Campion is an excellent nectar plant for insects and is currently in full bloom along hedgerows on the reserve.

    Spotted Flycatcher was a highlight for the interns this week as it brought their reserve bird list up to 100 species sighted since arriving at the beginning of March. The first white bridge downstream of the dam looks to be a reliable area for Spotted Flycatcher at present. Tawny Owls were very vocal as more chicks branched out from their woodland nests. Swift, Swallow and House Martin activity was high around the dam and Visitor Centre as birds settle to breed in the area.

     Tawny Owl's have been very audible over the last week as chicks start to branch from their nests (Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).

    Dipper continues to show well on the Afon Vyrnwy downstream of the dam (Thanks to Gavin Chambers for the image).

    Other interesting sightings this week included, a single Cormorant which spent a few days near the dam, regular Red Kite, Wheatear and Whinchat along the Dinas Mawddwy Road, Peregrine Falcon and Raven from the Lakeside Hide (daily) and close views of Jay from the Yellow Trail.

    A Raven put in an appearance at a camera trap on the reserve this week (Thanks to Tom Griffin for the image).

    Microlepidoptera Of The Week

    Battery issues resulted in no light trapping on the reserve during the week however, do not fear we still have a moth of week and this time it’s the turn of a micro to be star of the show. The Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana flies by day and as the name implies loves nettle patches where it can be seen swarming on sunny days.

    The wings of the Nettle-tap moth form a distinctive v-shape.



    Posted by Adam J

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  • Lat/lng: 52.76139,-3.45969
  • Grid reference: SJ016192
  • Nearest town: Welshpool, Powys
  • County: Powys
  • Country: Wales

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