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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.

Crossbill Forest

For the last couple of days I've been enjoying a flock of Crossbill at Wentwood Forest. Seeing them flock up like this in the open is quite a thing considering they spend most of the year at the tops of conifer trees, deep in the forest for nobody to see. They are specialists at extracting seeds from pine cones, using that unique cross-bill to pry the casings open wide enough to get the seed out with their tongue. I watched them doing this sort of thing also on regular beech seed heads with much the same technique. Every now and again they'd drop down to drink all at the same time, as to keep an eye out for predators at a time where they are particularly vulnerable. I did my best to get as close as possible without disturbing them. Like the recent influx of Hawfinch, these have probably travelled a fair way and now we're in forestry felling season, we can expect to see a few more unexpected visitors further south. 

Crossbill Drinking

I tried my best to get recordings of the Crossbill flock despite getting interference from a nearby telephone mast. Between that and the typical plane noise, cars and drones! yes drones, I really did well to get this recording. It has been filtered to death so apologies about the quality as it's below my usual standard. 

Just as I mentioned about Hawfinch on the move, a sizable flock of 15 + Hawfinch just as the light faded, Couldn't even fit them all in the same frame so was sure there must have been at-least 20 birds. They were about to touch down but changed mind and carried on North. Other notables came in the form of Brambling, Siskin, Redpoll, Kestrel and all the typical species for Wentwood this time of year. 

Hawfinch 9th November.jpg

Blaenserchan - Black Redstart

Today I visited most of my local wild spaces and spent a fair few hours in the Blaenserchan Valley in search of Common Lizards. I did find some, 7 in-fact, but they were proving extremely difficult to find on this hot day. Usually you find them basking in the sun in the morning and evenings but it was so warm, they were disbursed all over the mountain in amongst the bracken.. Don't know if you've ever seen a Common Lizard in a mountain full of bracken but it literally is like finding a needle in a hay-stack. I came prepared for it however, even brought my chair along as I know, once you find one, you have to gain their trust by sitting and waiting until they realise you aren't going to hurt them. I got so close I could have reach out and touched a few. Blaenserchan was so good today, it brought me a 'lifer' in the form of a female Black Redstart! - Thanks to birding friend Tim Griffiths for that one as I surely would have missed it with my head stuck in the bracken looking for Lizards. I also found a Yellowhammer in the valley which I personally haven't seen there before. Insect life was great too with Bloody-nose Beetles, Green Tiger Beetles, a Stonefly, Brimstone Butterfly and many more. 

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. 


If you have visited Llandegfedds Feeding Station and are wondering where all the finches are, my mate Chris has stollen them all! In his Garden he has; Siskin, Redpoll, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Brambling, House Sparrow and many many more! He really does have a hot spot and I appreciate the invite. Plus.. he makes a damn good cup of Yorkshire Tea! What more can you ask for? lol.