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Llandegfedd Winter Feeding Station

Feed The Birds

Wasn't long ago I was talking about Spring! With spring flowers in full bloom and lots of birds singing. Some pretty cold temperatures have been replaced with that however, followed by a Red Warning for wind and snow. Gusty cold conditions like this make it really tough for birds to survive. While some are extremely good at surviving in harsh conditions, others aren't, and they do perish as a result. Small birds like Coal Tits need to consume at-least 30% of their body weight per day in order to survive, some may need up to 100%!. Theres no better time to put high fat seeds, fat balls and meal worms out for your Garden Birds, as without it, they may struggle. 
The images below were taken yesterday at Ian Howell's Woodland Bird Hide. A fabulous hide with a great selection of species. The cold snap even brought in a Greenfinch which was a new species for the feeders. I wish I had a setup like this at home but I'll still continue to feed the birds, even if it's only Jackdaws and Black-headed Gulls that make the most of it. 

Frozen Frogspawn

With night temperatures dipping below freezing, our wildlife has to brace that extra bit harder. It's times like this that the feeding station becomes vital for a birds night survival, but what happens to the Frogs that have already began laying eggs? Well, as you can see, they do freeze if caught up in the top surface of the water. It's likely that the lower portion will still survive but this top layer, despite thawing later on that day, looks like it has been predated on too. 

Not sure what insect this is but it was walking on the ice with no care in the world.

Feeding station today had lots of activity, including a large female Sparrowhawk that for a minute looked like it was going to go for the male Pheasant but opted to carry on fly through. Even my heart was beating fast at that point! Can't image what the Blue Tits were feeling!. 

In other news, a record number of Water Rail at Green Pool today with 5 running around and 'sharming' like crazy. I wished I had my recording gear at hand at that point but perhaps I'll try that tomorrow evening in the hope they give off another good performance. Unfortunately, these Water Rail are pretty shy and were only visible when running between reed beds.  

Marsh Tit Theory

Llandegfedd's Winter Feeding Station project is coming close to the end and as a result, I've got a nice collection of Data coming on. As you'll know already at this point, it was started in the hope to aid our Marsh Tit population. With only 1 MT visiting the feeders since the start of the project, nobody has really had great views of the bird since the first 2 weeks of the project. That doesn't however mean it isn't attending the station and I've got a theory as to why this is the case. 
Below you'll see a chart that I've put together using the data from my sightings sheet. You'll notice down the left hand side the time of day and left to right is start to finish of the project. 
Note that the Marsh Tit (in blue) started visiting early but was becoming a regular right up until 1pm until the Sparrowhawk started to visit more often. The Sparrowhawk is literally the polar opposite and started visiting later in the evening but starting coming in earlier in the day. This has forced the very intelligent Marsh Tit to only come in very early in the morning and the last two sightings were all before 7am when it's still dark! Very clever Birds Marsh Tits and this clearly shows just how intelligent they really are. 

This chart goes to show how important a simple sightings page can be which is why I try to encourage everyone visiting to contribute. It takes a couple minutes and could unravel hidden secrets and potentially new science... who knows?

Llandegfedd Magic / Woodpeckers, Ravens and Long-tailed Tits

Bit of a feature in the last couple days with the Great Spotted Woodpeckers but today I took things to another level and not only brought you pictures and sound recordings but I actually managed to get a short video of a male GSW finding the sweet spot on the wood like I mentioned yesterday. I hope you enjoy the video! 

Here is another recording from the morning session which shows much more enthusiasm from the Male than my last recording. 

Something I didn't expect to get today was some decent recordings of a pair of Ravens. They were taking interest in something that I couldn't quite see (which could of been a Goshawk). During this time they were making all kinds of creative noises. At the very start of the recording you'll hear a quiet 'droplet' like sound: that is actually the Raven making that sound. 

The Feeding station was alive again today with a couple of new visitors in the form of 2 Redpoll and numbers of all species are increasing. The Long-tailed Tits are still my favourites though!

Life Line

If it wasn't for Llandegfedd's Feeding Station this winter, I'd be pretty depressed with all this bad weather! If it's not raining, it's dark and if it's not dark, it's windy! Sat inside a hide is the best way to go when the weather is bad and to be fair, it has got me out of the house more often knowing that I have a dry hide to take refuge in. 

Great Spotted Woodpecker

It's about time! I've been trying to get a half decent shot of a woodpecker for a while and today was the day, for whatever reason. A male and female showed well throughout the day eating both the peanuts on the feeders and the fat balls. Took a bit of temptation to get them on this log however, which actually has a funny story to it. I made a small mess feeder to go on the other side of the log out of sight but that feeder didn't last long as it took all of 3 seconds for the Squirrel to bite through the cable tie and run off with it. I chased him in the hope he would drop it but nope.. he just carried on and brought it up the tree with him. Little bugger! Took me all of 15 minutes to make that feeder lol. Next time it will be squirrel proof with a little trip to B&Q in the morning for some metal cable ties lol. 

Llandegfedd Reservoir Caddis Fly Larvae / Teal

Spent the morning with great company at the feeding station today in what ended up being a fabulous sunny day! It really felt like spring and sounded like it too with Greater Spotted Woodpeckers drilling away in the trees and plenty of birds in full song. Below I've included a short video of 2 of my favourite sightings from todays visit. 1 of which I've never seen before and that was a huge gathering of Caddis Fly Larvae, like to be Limnephilus marmoratus but not entirely sure just yet. Another great gathering at Green Pool Hide with 100+ Teal 10 Wigeon and 2 Snipe. The local Peregrine Falcones were showing well today also along with a single Male Goosander. Lots of plants emerging with Celandine popping up everywhere and plenty of Snowdrops too. Particular favourite for me is seeing the Lords and Ladies plant emerge in their spiral fashion as the leaves unfold in what's quite an interesting plant. 


Those closest to me would have known that I applied for a Placement called the 'Lemur+Project' early this year. The Lemur+Project would have allowed me to spend 9 months training in the area of conservation within Gwent, which was more than ideal for me and would have given me more skills to get the conservation Job I'm after, but sadly I found out today that I was unsuccessful and didn't even get to the interview stage. I think I got a little too excited about this opportunity I'm I am truly gutted I didn't get it. 

In other news, I attended my third meeting for Torfaens Biodiversity Partnership today which so far I'm really enjoying and can't wait for the next meeting. It feels great to even be invited along, especially considering everyone else in the room plays pivotal roles for conservation in Gwent. 

I guess I'll just have to keep trying. I'll leave you with a happy Long-tailed Tit. These guys always put a smile back on my face and I've been after this pose for a long long time! It's called 'The Wren Pose' and they don't often do it but it does allow you to see the orange/red shorts that they sport underneath that beautifully long tail. 

Lesser Redpoll

Whether it be high up in the canopy or down on the ground, Redpolls feed primarily on seeds. Luckily for Llandegfedd, the North Meadows are not cut for hay in the autumn, they are instead grazed by sheep during the winter months. Grazing is by far the best way forward for nature conservation as you can maintain grass levels while avoiding species of plant that are valuable to nature. It's these plants that species like Redpoll desire throughout the winter months and it is this reason alone that brings them down from the canopy and into the Meadows where we can see them better. This shot was taken from the footpath. 

Being down in the meadows however exposes them to predators like Sparrowhawk and moments after taking this shot, a Male Sparrowhawk flew out of the tree line behind me to try and catch one of these birds. They were lucky this time though and all of them managed to escape. The Sparrowhawk then flew off towards the feeding station so its probably eyeing one of those up. 

Never a rainy day for a Robin

Is there anything that will stop a Robin from singing? Not even the darkness of night these days is enough to silence Britain's National Bird. 

I'm sure you're familiar with this winter song