24 January 2015

Twmbarlwm shrike

Arrived at Twmbarlwm to screaming kids and scrambler bikes. Thought I was on to miss three Great Grey Shrikes in a week. The bikes buggered of, the kids dispersed and up popped the shrike. Lovely. It covers a fair bit of ground, initially in the dead pines east of, but hidden from, the car park; then in the re-growing clear-fell north-east of the car park; and then heading to the open, bracken clad, slope south-west of the car park.

Digiscoping with the wrong camera,... pointless. 

23 January 2015

Up north again

Another week in southern Scotland; a few Pinkfeet on the way up, Goshawk and gawd knows how many Crossbills during the week, nothing too exciting though.  Also a fair bit of mammal action, tracks everywhere.  Managed to miss out on two Great Grey Shrikes, wrong times, wrong places. 

Peering out across the arctic waste, behind me is a BMW, irretrievably bogged down in a whole two inches of snow.  Useless.  Piece.  Of.  Bavarian.  Shite. 

17 January 2015

It's all gone white again

Woke up to a drop more snow.  Popped up to Manmoel and Pen-y-fan Pond, not too much doing, a couple of frizz Stonechat were about the best of it.  Did get some fine raptors-in-a-snowy-landscape action though,... oooooh, get you and your nicely lit underparts.

Round-and-about Manmoel today; snow, yay!  Beeches, tick.  Bramblings,... only conspicuous by their absence.   

16 January 2015

I went to church

The tower of St. Woolos Cathedral, prime Black Redstart habitat.  It's up there, amongst the swirling mists of myth and fantasy, flitting about between the gargoyles; and I'm down here, peering up, like a modern day, rational empiricist, not-so-saintly Francis of Assisi.  Another one on the non-existent year list.

After the successful bagging of the sanctified start, I thought I'd better pop in on Ynysyfro to ensure a rapid descent back to the oh-so earthly.  Bugger all present except five Shoveler and a Red Admiral fluttering up and down the sunny side of a hedge. 

11 January 2015

Swaaaaans

The Usk valley swan herd is still showing well at Llandowlais barns.  Counted 21 Bewick's amongst 48 Mutes which, along with last weekend's Whooper at the Nedern, mean I can ignore all things Cygnus for the next 11 months,... unless they are black,... or have black necks,... or have largely black bills. 

A ropey phone-scoped shot of the Whooper can be seen here by the way.

10 January 2015

Uh-oh

Uh-oh. Ynysyfro shot its bolt and produced a couple of almost notable birds this morning; can only mean one thing,... that'll be it for the year.  Bobbing about on the windswept waters were two adult winter Mediterranean Gulls accompanied by about 100 Black-heads, a lone Common Gull, one Lesser Black-backed and a few Herrings.  Larid heaven.  The four Shoveler are also still present but the Teal and Wigeon were nowhere to be seen.  Further excitement was provided by the dodgy Mallard partaking of bread by the Fourteen Locks Centre,... cracking views were had by all.

One of the two adult winter Mediterranean Gulls at Ynysyfro Reservoirs this morning but never mind the dross, time for the good stuff,...

... Ooooosh!  The manky Mallard in all his finery with the ladies looking on.

13 December 2014

Birding in a weatherbomb

Popped up to Scotland, met a 'weatherbomb' coming the other way, it was mostly lovely,...

... although changeable,...

... and sometimes just a little bit blizzardy.

Love a dose of wintry weather, especially when there's about £1,500 worth of clothing between my body and the elements.  Also helps to have a 4x4 to hand,... and a nice flask of something hot.  Of course, the billy-big-bollocks Wrens and Goldcrests knocking about in little more than a layer of feathers must have thought I was really letting the side down.  But, as I tried to explain to them, my species evolved in sub-Saharan Africa and we aren't built for this sort of shit.

Birding highlights were pretty thin on the ground, mostly finchy; Bramblings, Crossbills, Redpolls and the like.  The mammal front was a touch more exciting with a brief sighting of a Woozle or Heffalump crossing a track at dusk.  As with all observations of Woozles/Heffalumps the views were inconclusive regarding specific identification, almost definitely one or the other though.  A notoriously difficult species pair those two, someone should write an identification paper. 

30 October 2014

Everything must go

The skeleton-like remains of leaves are formed from xylem cells which contain high concentrations of lignin (the substance that makes wood woody) and persist after the more easily decomposed cells disappear.  The pattern of branching follows Murray's law (as, by the way, do your circulatory and respiratory systems), a formula for relating the radii of daughter branches to the radii of the parent branch of a lumen-based system.  Either that, or this is how the pixies make the leaves in the Azores, knocking up the basic structure before giving them to the trees to add the green stuff.  One of these theories is more likely to withstand the rigours of scientific investigation than the other.

 "Who are you?"

A giant woodlouse crosses a blasted landscape of iron rich sedimentary rock,... probably.

29 October 2014

Azorean Farm

 Eeyore in his none too gloomy place, neither boggy nor sad on this particular day.

Peek-a-moo.

28 October 2014

Azorean greenery

The endemic Azorean Ivy Hedera azorica, photograph taken in a moist Fojo whilst awaiting a vireo that never came.

A wee baby orange dreaming of all the things he'll get up to when he's big.