24 November 2012

The goats who stare at men

There is just not enough randomness in the blogosphere,...

Interesting goat fact #1: goat call development is affected by their social environment, kids raised in the same social groups produce similar calls which become more similar as they grow older. This suggests that vocal plasticity may be more widespread in mammals than assumed, and might provide a window onto the evolution of vocal learning and human language. Wow! Now that is interesting.

Interesting goat fact #2: they sometimes smell a bit. Wow! Now that is interesting.

Are we done here? Yes? Good.

23 November 2012

Mostly Dunlin,... mostly

Pottered around the reserve this afternoon in a vague attempt at relocating the Great White Egret. Given it appears to have buggered off west before I arrived, it will come as no surprise that I didn't 'connect'. Did have over 4,000 Dunlin on the reserve though, the vast majority out on the grasslands. Other things I wasn't looking for but did bump into included: a ringtail Hen Harrier, a 2nd cal-year male Marsh Harrier, a couple of fence-hoppers in the form of 'Barney' the friendly Barnacle Goose and the Chinese Goose, a reasonable total of 82 Snipe and a Chiffchaff.

Here are 2,284 of the Dunlin (plus a few Lapwing and Starling). How do I know?

 Because I counted 'em. A Friday night well spent, I'm sure you'll agree.

PS. Also dipped on the Tredegar House Hoopoe/Jay/Mistle Thrush (delete as appropriate) this morning just for the sheer hell of it.

21 November 2012

I'll just slip this in here

Meant to say, I did get out last weekend, honest guv, did the reserve and Llandegfedd. However, apart from a dose of Water Rail at Uskmouth and a Dunlin, a Woodcock, 40 Goosander and a Kingfisher at the reservoir, it was dire.  I had, therefore, decided to spare you from a boring blogpost but then I thought, "Hell, they deserve it, they're the ones who read this shit."

11 November 2012

[*blows raspberry* in lieu of a title]

Was hoping for a nice bunting or a Firecrest (or better) but, despite touring round Caldicott Moor, Collister Pill and Magor Marsh, had to make do with reasonable numbers of Lapwing, Skylark and winter thrushes, and two Water Rail, two Kingfisher, one Rock Pipit, two Cetti's Warbler and two Chiffchaffs.  Not exactly Bertie big bollocks birding. 

09 November 2012

Way out in the water, see it swimmin'

Overcame the post-trip inertia today and managed to actually get out birding in Gwent. Good numbers of Lapwing, Dunlin and winter thrushes at Goldcliff but little of real interest beyond Spotted Redshank and a few Black-tailed Godwit. Boat Lane flattered to deceive, lots of flooding and quite a few birds but, apart from the Canada Goose hybrids, nothing to trouble the notes app. However, highlight of the day appeared just before dark in the form of a 1st-winter/female Common Scoter in the bay just east of Goldcliff Point; clearly viewable from MM's gaff, nice garden tick.

Oh yeah, we rescued a sheep,... 

Sheep as found (inset) and sheep once righted (note other sheep staring in disbelief at its bizarre shape).  Was it like that before it fell over? Or did it writhe itself flat? You could serve drinks off that.

03 November 2012

Corvo Orthoptera

This is my first foray into Azorean Orthoptera so any comments regarding identification, etc., would be gratefully received. Click on the images to view at a larger size.

Southern Field Cricket Gryllus bimaculatus, the dominant sound in the nocturnal chorus around Vila do Corvo.
Southern Field Cricket Gryllus bimaculatus by darrylspittle

The blurred background trace on the spectrogram at approximately 4.5 kHz is the stridulations of competing males nearby. I'm pretty sure Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula is responsible for the indistinct trace centred on approximately 15 kHz.

Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula, identification slightly more tentative but see what you think.
Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula by darrylspittle

The significantly higher frequency range produces a much less far-carrying and dominant sound (at least to human ears) as compared to Southern Field Cricket. Due to a former diving accident, presumably resulting in a ruptured tympanic membrane [Correction: the injury was a perilymph fistula - ouch!], at least one member of Team Corvo struggled to hear this at all.

Here's the identification of which I am least confident. I think, in between the barking of a dog displaying his displeasure at being awoken by a bloke creeping about with a Sennheiser MKH60, this might be Mediterranean Katydid Phaneropterus nana. Whaddya reckon?
Possible Mediterranean Katydid Phaneroptera nana by darrylspittle

And finally, the most obvious orthopteran on the island, Migratory Locust Locusta migratoria, they are everywhere: sitting on the roads, squashed on the roads, shagging on the roads,...

Aaah look, the big one is giving the little one a piggy-back.

02 November 2012

Corvo Odonata

Time for a few posts on Azorean bugs, first up, the Odonata. I've only ever noted two species on Corvo, most visits just one,... still awaiting a Green Darner Anax junius.

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator, I only remember having seen a couple to date, one in 2006 and that pictured above, on 13th October this year.

Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii, quite common and seen most days on the rock.