Viewing entries tagged
Green Tiger Beetle

Bluebells, Froglets and more Mimics

Wifi has been down for a week so I’ve got lots go catch you up on. I’ll start with some beautiful woodland Frogs amongst the Bluebells which doesn’t seem significant but I look forward to finding them every year in this wood. Any excuse to use the macro lens and to include flora in my images. It looks like it’s going to be a good year for bluebells. I’ve even seeing them high on the moors, which seems unusual.. certainly not something I’ve ever noticed before. I just always associated them with woodland but I guess that’s because everything else is intensely farmed..

While I’m on the uplands, it was pretty special bumping into not 1 but 2 Ring Ouzel in an undisclosed location. We’re at the start of the breeding season for these birds now so it will be interesting to see whether they stick around or if they continue on their migration.

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel

Other notable images from my weeks adventures were mostly bugs. Mating Green Tiger Beetles was a first but Hairy Shieldbug and a Common Crab Spider posed well. The shieldbug image is a 3 image stack, which enabled me to keep a soft background while using the 3 images to pull focus on various parts of the shield-bug in order to get it all in focus.

If you enjoy my mimicking recordings, this one might be a new one for you. It certainly was for me! Siskin have a complex song, but I've always found them pretty easy to identify, therefor didn’t really give them much attention. I don’t know whether it’s just this individual or whether they all do this, but this Siskin could mimic a Blackbird alarm call, a Magpie contact call and a Green Woodpecker call, all mixed into its own song.
It was a real windy day and recording thru numerous branches but you can still hear it if you listen carefully. I’ll revisit this bird on a clearer day to get some better quality recordings. What I love about mimicking birds is, it reminds me that all birds are total individuals, capable of making their own choices.

Llandegfedd & Local News


Firstly some good news! After much hard work from local supporters and our local ecologist Steve Williams, Torfaen Council Refused the proposal for the development at Tirpentwys Quarry. I'm so happy about this decision and I hope that it doesn't get appealed in the future. I'm not sure on what basis the plans were refused yet, but I assume it was based around the proposed access route which would have required a corridor of between 25 and 30 metres of vegetation to be removed and resulted in a loss of approximately three hectares of ancient woodland. Personally, the sites biodiversity alone should have held its own. Read more about it


Local patches have really been producing the goods this week with the cold northernly winds holding migration up. We've had thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Swallows and Sand / House Martins feeding at Llandegfedd, along with 2 Wheatear,  2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Firecrest and a lingering Egyptian Goose. Short trip to the Wetlands resulting in similar activities with Common Whitethroat & Lesser Whitethroat aplenty. Bearded Reedlings were whizzing around with Sedge & Reed Warbler filling the reeds with their scratchy songs.   


The first Hairy Dragonflies of the year are emerging, picked up on the board walk alongside the visitors centre in the tops of the hedgerows. Apologies for the terrible record shot. Green-veined and Orange-tip Butterflies were also feeding / hiding away from the cold along the tall hedgerows. I hope you like my Green Tiger Beetle shot, I was particularly happy with it but still wish I had a macro lens. 

What you really come here for ;) The Photos

A Rare Day

Today was meant to be my start day at my new Job at Llandegfedd but for unforeseen reasons it has been delayed. This did however give me the opportunity to catch up on a bit of birding on my local patch and it really did deliver today. Beautiful weather and some pretty rare birds. The day started with a Sparrowhawk hunting through peoples gardens on my street, followed by a displaying Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon and then stumbling onto a Firecrest that had been ringed! It's always nice finding a rare bird with a ring on its leg, hopefully I can find out where it came from. To top it off, I get two Garganey at Llandeg Reservoir and upon trying to relocate them with birding friend Craig Constance, he spots a stunning male summer plumage Black-necked Grebe! Other notables, two Female Oil Beetles, plenty of Green Tiger Beetles along with some more Spring migrants - Swallows, Sand Martins, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. If I get the time this week I'll try get some sound recordings also, just need more hands! Difficult to do it all at the same time.. 

Have you seen a Swallow yet? If not, keep looking out for them. For some reason, every one I've seen so far has been flying south.. It would appear that some have overshot their mark and are having to make their way back down the Uk to more southern tempratures. 

Gwent Bugs

This time of year is awesome for insects, and the very reason why we get so many birds migrating here for spring/summer. The shear diversity of insects is key to certain species survival. Drinker Moth Caterpillars are a personal favourite of Cuckoos, so much so that Cuckoo's time their arrival perfectly to indulge on them. Each one of these species below deserve a blog in itself but it's that time of year that I just need to get outside! I hate being sat behind the computer editing photographs at this time of year. There is so much to see and so much more to learn. 

A lot of these species below were taken at a new reserve for me at Henllys bog which is a Gwent Wildlife Trust reserve. Good friend and Spider Expert Mike Kilner showed me around the reserve with a superior knowledge of plants and insects which was really helpful at that reserve! Everywhere you step there is something special..

Great Grey Shrike, Blaenserchan

Couldn't pass by the opportunity to see a Great Grey Shrike today between plans and boy, was I rewarded! Having listened to the stories of other Birders spending hours up their and not spotting it, I was greeted upon arrival by a singing Great Grey Shrike about 40 ft away from the path. 40ft away isn't too bad considering how big the mountain is! lol. I just about managed to get a photo between the dense branches good enough for an ID photo but the closer you got to the Bird the harder it got for photography as the Sun was on the opposite side. I'm happy either way though as it was my first sighting of a GGS and to have it on my patch meant a lot more. 

In other news! The trip brought some other firsts in the form of a Green Tiger Beetle. Having done a little read up on them, it would seem that it is fairly early in the year to be seeing them in March. Typically between May - July for Green Tiger Beetles and though described as common, I've never seen one... Something else described as 'common' is the Common Lizard of which I saw several in various places on the South facing walls. If you look carefully, You'll also notice that the Lizard has what appears to be a double tail... Perhaps a regrowth gone wrong?