Stoat or weasel

Three days ago I saw a small creature running across our front porch. When I went to look more closely (having thought it either a rat or a mouse) I found it was either a stoat or a weasel – I really can’t tell them apart. I have never seen one here before. Are they common around the river?

Otter visiting

I think the otter has been visiting our pond again. I think I saw a mink swimming across the pond about a month ago, but now there is a regular track across the field from the river to the pond and evidence of the grass being flattened – similar to the pattern a couple of years ago when the otter was here. Not yet seen any spreint however.

An unusual view…

Here is an unusual view of the riverbank at the Long Bridge, taken yesterday.
The riverbank is quite overgrown just upstream of the bridge and offers a haven to wildlife.
The reeds create slack water when the river is in flood and allows the Kingfishers to catch the small fish that are sheltering there.
It is also a place favored by Otters, when they feel like venturing onto land and the numerous plants offer the insects plenty of scope for collecting pollen and nectar.
I have often seen Goldfinches, Bullfinches and Treecreepers feeding in the trees in this area, as well.
All in all, in my view this is a nice little spot on our river.

The riverbank at the Long Bridge.

The riverbank at the Long Bridge.

Birds and Butterflies…

A few shots of some of the wildlife seen on my river walk.

Bullfinch feeding at the entrance to Mochdre Brook.

Bullfinch feeding at the entrance to Mochdre Brook.

There are a lot of Bullfinches around at the moment and this one was seen feeding on seed heads at the entrance to the Mochdre Brook.

Nuthatch in the tree tops.

Nuthatch in the tree tops.

There was a also a lot of Nuthatch activity high in the trees opposite the entrance to the Mochdre Brook and I managed to capture this shot of one of them. There appeared to be 3 juveniles chasing each other around.

Gatekeeper butterfly at Trehafren.

Gatekeeper butterfly at Trehafren.

This Gatekeeper butterfly is amazingly ‘perched’ on a spider’s web.

Peacock butterfly at Vaynor.

Peacock butterfly at Vaynor.

Not seen many Peacock’s this year, but this one was caught taking in some warmth from the morning sunshine at Vaynor.

The Kingfisher has been very active around the Mochdre Brook area, but unfortunately has not presented an opportunity of a decent photograph.

Otters & Mink…

Otters.
On Wednesday afternoon, I was passing St. Mary’s Church and met a lady who had just video’d an Otter on her mobile phone. It was clearly a dog Otter swimming up river towards the Long Bridge.
A fortnight ago, I heard of 3 separate daily sightings of the bitch and 2 pups, swimming around the Trehafren area at 7.30 am each day. They actually left the water and ran along the river banks at one point.
I believe that the dog Otter has travelled downstream from the Mochdre Brook area and the bitch and pups have travelled upstream from the Penarth Weir area, so their paths must have crossed.
It is probably 18 months since the bitch and pups were first reported in the area around Abermule and it’s probably time for them to leave her and fend for themselves.

This leads me to conclude that perhaps the dog and bitch are possibly starting to check one another out with a view to mating as soon as the cubs have gone, since Otters do not have a fixed breeding season.
Let’s hope that we continue to see a lot more of this delightful creature on our river.

Mink.
On Tuesday of this week, I happened to be talking to some fishermen, when a Mink swam across the river, right in front of us. They told me that they are a regular occurrence along Trehafren and often see them catch and eat Crayfish, but they couldn’t tell if they were the Red Signal variety.
I am monitoring the area to see if I can get some photographic evidence, but nothing to date.

First group bird survey recordings

We had lovely summer weather for our first outing today with four surveyors starting at the Dolerw Bridge and walking slowly southwards along the west bank, with plenty to see and hear – a feast for the senses! Together we counted 22 definite species as follows: blackbirds (4), blue tit (1), great tit (1), carrion crows (2), chaffinch (4), coal tit (1), goldfinch (1), greater spotted woodpecker (1), long tailed tit (2), magpie (1), mallard (2), nuthatch (1), robin (1), song thrush (1), tree creeper (2), woodpigeon (4), wren (5), dipper (1), swallow (6), house martin (2), blackcap (1). This is a conservative estimate as we used counting technique to ensure we were not counting the same bird twice, I am sure there were many more! We were also excited to meet a man with a long lens who showed us a photo of an otter he had seen earlier in the morning. A very productive morning. Tilde

Kingfisher fledglings…

We have been fortunate enough to have a pair of Kingfishers breed successfully on our river and this resulted in 2 fledglings being raised. Below are some shots of them taken a few weeks ago.
At the time of posting, it appears that the parents may now have left them to fend for themselves.

The adult Kingfisher returns with a meal.

The adult Kingfisher returns with a meal.

A fledgling begs for food.

A fledgling begs for food.

A fledgling waits for the parent to return with a meal.

A fledgling waits for the parent to return with a meal.

Common Sandpipers

It’s nice to see that the Common Sandpipers have returned to our river again this year.
I am not sure that they have settled on a permanent basis, but last year they nested around the Mochdre Brook area and successfully reared a small brood. Let’s hope they achieve the same result this year.

Common Sandpiper at Mochdre Brook.

Common Sandpiper at Mochdre Brook.

Elusive Kingfishers

Although we are lucky enough to have at least 3 Kingfishers resident between the Halfpenny Bridge and Mochdre Brook, they remain very elusive as far as sightings are concerned. I hear them frequently as I walk along the river bank, but only get an occasional glimpse of one as it darts off along the river. Keep a lookout for them at Vaynor, Trehafren and St. Mary’s.
I only hope that they will stay with us through the Winter and continue to give us a thrill as they flash by.
Photographing one on the river is nearly impossible and I had to resort to going to Llyn Coed-y-Dinas Reserve – (where they are far more obliging) – to capture the shot shown below.

Kingfisher - at Coed-y-Dinas.

Kingfisher – at Coed-y-Dinas.

Himalayan Balsam and Insects…

Himalayan Balsam – friend or foe – that is the question.
The Bees, Wasps and many other insects rely on it as a valuable food source and the River Severn Custodians have decided to leave it grow, unless it becomes so invasive, that it causes problems with access to footpaths etc.
The pods are ripening now and getting ready to eject their seeds. There are many insects on the flower heads and they eventually turn white as they become coated with pollen.

Himalayan Balsam and Insects.

Himalayan Balsam and Insects.

Time to look for Insects…

There was not much to be seen along the river this weekend and all I managed to spot as far as birds were concerned were a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Grey Wagtail, a number of Pied Wagtails and 2 Dippers. Sightings of the female Goosander with a creche of approx 10 young has been reported downstream of the Cambrian Bridge, but I have only caught a very brief glimpse of them myself.
With this being the beginning of the ‘quiet’ time for birds, I am now on the look-out for insects and I was not disappointed in finding this beautiful Emerald Damselfly in the hedge at the end of Trehafren field.
There are also a lot of Ringlet and Meadow Brown Butterflies around and I also spotted a Red Admiral among the Himalayan Balsam at Vaynor.

Emerald Damselfly.

Emerald Damselfly – Seen at Trehafren.

Emerald Damselfly.

Emerald Damselfly – Seen at Trehafren.

Well – I didn’t know that!

During a recent walk along the river bank, I noticed a lot of little red insects on the Hogweed plants, which I must confess I hadn’t really noticed before.
Not knowing what they were, I did a little research which revealed that they are Common Red Soldier Beetles and they are very partial to the Hogweed flowers.

Common Red Soldier Beetle.

Common Red Soldier Beetle.

Further research reveals that they are also VERY amorous creatures and have been allocated the official nickname of the Hogweed Bonking Beetle and from my observations, they certainly live up to their name! However, they are discreet, since there only appears to be one pair per flower head.

Hogweed Bonking Beetle.

Hogweed Bonking Beetle.

Finally, I think that the one in the photo below should go on one of Chris Kinsey’s nature walks, since it doesn’t appear to know the difference between Hogweed and Hawkweed.

A 'lost' Hogweed Beetle.

A ‘lost’ Hogweed Beetle.

Banded Demoiselle

Whilst out walking last weekend, I had the good fortune to see this male Banded Demoiselle Damselfly. It was in the reeds at the entrance to the Mochdre Brook and is the first ‘Banded’ that I have seen this year.
Also seen on the walk were a fledgling Pied Wagtail, Chiffchaff, a Moorhen, a Dipper and a lone adult Common Sandpiper which was calling constantly, but getting no reply. I haven’t seen the Sandpiper fledgings since my original sighting and can’t decide whether the parents have moved them on to safer territory or have they had some misfortune happen to them.
Let’s hope that it’s the former case.

Banded Demoiselle (Male).

Banded Demoiselle (Male).

Wildlife Sightings

During my walk to the Mochdre Brook this weekend, I was lucky enough to get 2 sightings of a Kingfisher, plus 3 sightings of the Common Sandpiper. A Dipper sat for ages in some dead branches by the river bank, preening itself and didn’t appear to be worried by my presence. (I noticed that it had a leg ring).
There was a female Goosander feeding in the distance and then a Grey Heron landed and started feeding, but unfortunately, he spotted me hiding in the bushes and took flight. Also seen on the journey were a Ringlet Butterfly, Speckled Wood Butterfly, numerous Song Thrush and Magpies.
I managed to take a few ‘snaps’ which are shown below.

Wildlife Sightings - June 2014

Wildlife Sightings – June 2014

Top left – Grey Heron – (Seen at the Mochdre Brook).
Top Right – Ringlet Butterfly – (Seen on Trehafren field).
Bottom Right – Song Thrush – (Seen on Vaynor playing field).
Bottom Left – Speckled Wood Butterfly – (Seen on Vaynor playing field).

Sandpipers at Vaynor

I was hoping to see some more of the Common Sandpipers this morning, so I took the Canon out with me and boy, I wasn’t disappointed.
A pair of them were seen on 4 separate occasions between Vaynor and the Mochdre Brook and then I had 2 more sightings of a single bird, which I managed to photograph from a very long distance (90mtr), feeding in the shadow of the river bank – (Photo below).
It is beginning to look as if these birds are becoming resident in the area after a long absence. Great to see and hopefully, I will be able to get some better photos/video in the near future.

Tip for identifying them.
In flight, they have pure white under parts and the wings are distinctively curved on the downward stroke.

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Wildlife sightings

Despite a threat of bad weather, it didn’t materialize during my morning walk and I had the good fortune to see a bit of wildlife.
The Dipper appears to be sitting on a nest up the Mochdre Brook and is being taken food regularly by its partner.
I had a fleeting glimpse of a Common Sandpiper, which flew down the Mochdre Brook and then headed down-river towards Newtown.
Lower down the river I caught sight of 2 Kingfishers, who both flew from the same spot and there just might be a nest in the riverbank.
To end it all, a Mallard Duck came swimming past with 8 little ducklings.
This, coupled with hedgerows filled with Dog Rose, Campion and Bramble blossom, makes a walk worth while – raining or not!

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Also – have you seen the Beech tree that’s growing just before the Scout Hut. It’s absolutely laden with Beech nuts, that will all fall into the river and hopefully re-generate on the riverbanks down stream.

Beech Nuts

Beech Nuts

Cinibar Moth…

Cinibar MothI was lucky enough to grab a shot of this Cinibar Moth on the river bank at Trehafren.
Although they are a fairly common day-time moth in the UK, I have not seen one at this location before and thought that it might have been encouraged by the Council allowing the grass to turn into meadow.
No such luck however. A few days after filming, the grass cutters were out and the meadow has gone!
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a lot more of these – (and the Burnet 6 spot) – as well.