29 March 2014

Scratching around

Have trawled round Magor Marsh, Ynys-y-fro Reservoirs and Uskmouth in search of migrants over the last few days,... very little doing.  The only new arrivals at Magor and Ynys-y-fro were a few Chiffchaffs; this morning, Uskmouth did a little better with Wheatear, Willow Warbler, 30+ Chiffchaff and a few flyover Meadow Pipit but the show was stolen by a slightly less well-travelled patch scarcity - Red-legged Partridge,... ooooosh!

On the butterfly front, more Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Brimstone today, still haven't seen Comma or Orange-tip this year

On the way back had a Red Kite flying down the by-pass at Risca.  Seems to have been a few wandering semi-locally today with reports from elsewhere in Gwent, Gloucestershire and Somerset popping up on Twitter. Joy.

25 March 2014

I went north,... and came back

Forgot to blog,... popped up to Lancashire last week: 1 definitely-wild-no-doubt-about-it Ross' Goose, 2 'Siberian Chiffchaff' (at least one of which had been singing, although not whilst I was present), a handful of bulk standard Chiffchaffs and sundry wildfowl, waders (including a fair bit of Curlew passage), mad March Brown Hares, etc., etc.

A Ross' Goose, phone-scoped in a breeze; having become bored of pottering around the UK with his Pink-footed chums, he's probably thinking about heading back to the Canadian tundra. He is definitely not considering going back and checking out the cage he jumped out of at some indiscernible point in the past,... because that definitely didn't happen.  Fully-winged, unringed and as cute as a button.

[Ross' Goose update from the WWT Martin Mere latest sightings page: "The ‘wild’ credentials of the Ross’s Goose took a blow when it followed it’s Mallard friends onto Swan Lake (opposite the restaurant) yesterday".  Oh dear.]

[PS. Ross' or Ross's? Vote now!] 

09 March 2014


Lots of invertebrates out and about, hordes (well mini-hordes) of Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and bumblebees today. 

Had the first two bumblebees in the garden on 23rd February this year, seemingly with one each of Bombus terrestris (rich/dark yellow bands and a buff tail) and B. lucorum agg. (pale yellow bands and a clean white tail) appearing on the heather.  Both were accompanied by mites, the B. terrestris queen being well and truly infested, yuck/ewww, or so you would think, although, according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BCT) website:
"... most of the mite species that live with bumblebees are fairly harmless to them and are simply clinging to the bumblebee so that they can be transported to new nests. When in the nest, the mites usually feed upon the wax, pollen, nest debris, and other small insects, so do not feed on the bees."
So perhaps just meh.

 White-tailed Bumblebee B. lucorum agg. This 'species' is actually a complex of three cryptic species B. lucorum, B. cryptarum and B. magnus. The tricky little buggers. 

Buff-tailed Bumblebee B. terrestris

More on bumblebees on the BCT website here; at the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society website here; and on the Natural History Museum website here.