No doubt many of you will be aware of a red breasted goose on the reserve recently, which continues to be present at the time of writing. Having appeared to arrive with the feral Barnacles from Cumbria, it seems unlikely to be a wild bird. WeBS count on the 18th recorded 51 lapwing, 550 teal, 459 wigeon, 2 green sandpiper, 1 spotted redshank, 31 pintail, and 14 shoveler, amongst others. A whooper swan on Breakwater on the 19th represented Ynys-hir’s contribution to a handful of records across the county during mid to late October. It was most likely an Icelandic bird, as it is thought that far more whoopers from Iceland arrive in the UK each winter than from the continent and Fennoscandia. A goshawk was seen over Breakwater on the 18th, lapping the field a few times before moving on, and a great white egret was on the pools in front of the visitor centre on the morning of the 25th, before relocating to the saltmarsh. Not an annual feature in Britain before the 1970s, by 2013 the average wintering population of great whites in Britain was thought to be around 30 individuals, although it was not until the 2000s that the British wintering population outnumbered birds visiting during the spring. With all this focus on wetland birds, it’s worth remembering that the deciduous woodlands are still well worth walking through, with many bird species taking advantage of the seasonal food available, including a large number of redwing feasting on rowan berries on the 27th. A late swallow was seen at Ynys Edwin on the same day.
Until next time...
Curlew, Numenius arquata (Karen Burns)
Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis (Karen Burns)
The following message is from Dave Anning, site manager.
I am sad to say that we have had to close the Breakwater hide at RSPB Ynys-hir. We appreciate that this hide is very popular with local bird watchers and the decision to close it was not taken lightly. For several years now we have been monitoring the condition of the hide closely and in our most recent inspection new signs of rot and subsidence were found and keeping it open was untenable.
Many of you will also note that the Covert Ddu hide has been closed for some time too. Unfortunately this hide has suffered in a similar way to the Breakwater hide with severe rot in one of its legs. I can assure people that the closure of the two hides were not connected, but reflect the fact that they are both old hides that have deteriorated gradually over many years.
The RSPB is committed to offering an excellent visitor experience at the reserve and birdwatchers are one of our priority audiences. The construction of the Ynys-Feurig hide a few years ago is testament to that as its principle audience is active birdwatchers as opposed to families and walkers.
We are currently reviewing visitor infrastructure across mid-Wales to ensure that it offers the visitor experiences that our visitors want and is fit for purpose. Unfortunately it is too early to say what outcomes this review will produce, but we are working on it. We are keen to keep local birdwatchers informed.
If you have any further question please feel free to contact me.
Dave Anning, email@example.com
October began with an astonishingly insightful fungi walk on the 2nd, lead by Ray Woods. Although unfortunately not many fungi were located (general consensus seems to be that this year will prove a poor one for seeing fruiting bodies), we did find chicken in the woods, turkey tail, hairy curtain crust, glue fungus, dead man’s fingers, and oysterling, among other species. Of particular interest was the discovery of a rare parasitic bolete growing from an earthball, on which the species is thought to be dependent for nutrients. It has even been recorded growing in a fairy ring around the base of its host.
Parasitic bolete Pseudoboletus parasiticus (left), growing from an earthball, Scleroderma citrinum (Chris Goding)
Calocera viscosa (Agnieszka Michalik)
Rewinding slightly, a hobby was seen briefly hunting over the pools in front of the visitor centre on 29th September. The 30th saw a good mix of waders on the saltmarsh, including 5 curlew sandpiper, 4 little stint, 27 grey plover, 3 golden plover, around a dozen knot, 20 ringed plover, 7 bar tailed godwits, and around 900 dunlin. Also seen that day, a peregrine, and a merlin taking a meadow pipit after a long chase. Breakwater field has had a fine start to October, with a ruff and two jack snipe on the 3rd, and 200 lapwing on the 6th. A sparrowhawk near the visitor centre on the 5th, a hen harrier was seen over the saltmarsh on the 12th, and the juvenile marsh harrier continues to patrol the estuary.
Recent visitors on warmer days may have noticed a great deal of insect activity around the ivy near the picnic benches. Ivy is a highly important food source for a wide variety of insects in the autumn, with honey bees in particular benefitting from the late pollen source, and the nectar is thought to be extremely important in their winter honey stores. Other invertebrates spotted at the ivy include hoverflies, hornets, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, and silver y. A late speckled wood was near the visitor centre on the 5th.