Wildlife Blog

A Flat-backed millipede (Polydesmus sp.)

Go look under stuff!

Flat-backed Millipede.  Flat-backed Millipede.   It’s just a nice thing to say isn’t it? Flat-backed Millipede. I wasn’t expecting to find said invertebrate but having decided to take a slightly different route through the Taf Fechan reserve (which is always worth doing by the way) I happened across some large pieces of tree bark lying at my feet and I just cannot resist or ignore the opportunity to look under stuff so over they went. Yay a flat-backed Millipede! This delightful discovery was soon followed, by the facility of turning over more bark, by many many Common Shiny Woodlice (woodlice are cool, they do an important job and should not be overlooked AND you then get to say, no joyously pronounce, the word isopod) and a very pretty Centipede (later identified as probably a Banded Centipede which like all Centipedes is a killing machine with poisonous front legs used for ruthlessly hunting down its prey) and an even prettier (for a more or less featureless blob, but as featureless blobs go it was gorgeous) Hoverfly larva sitting out the winter (It’s not only butterflies that do the whole metamorphosis thing Hoverflies do it as well).…
Pussy willow Margam March 09 Lizzie Wilberforce

The arrival of spring

At time of writing, it is dark outside, and the day has so far brought us snow, sleet, hail, rain, and thunder. Undeniably, it still feels like winter. It’s the kind of evening where you want to sit close to your heater, or burner, with a cup of tea, and think Indoor Thoughts. Yet once the Christmas celebrations have passed and the new year has begun, it’s hard not to start looking forward and thinking about spring, especially when mornings start to bring that clear, crisp light you only seem to get at this time of year.…
Lichen and moss - Allelopathy by Graham Watkeys

Allelopathy

The New Year brings not only a new word that I didn’t know before but also an interesting phenomenon (Ha spelt right first time!). Lichen and moss – Allelopathy by Graham Watkeys Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more bio-chemicals that influence the growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms. So basically this Lichen is using chemical warfare against the Moss.  Yes Lichen. That boring grey, thin, seemingly inactive, crust produces chemicals that directly affect its competition ensuring its survival against the much quicker growing and more invasive Moss which has colonised the whole of the rest of the boulder.…
Interesting brown fungi  later IDed as a Goblet

A Morning In The Life Of

A morning in the life of a volunteer warden (winter edition): 10 mins mentally debating whether to bring gloves, 15 mins watching Goldfinch feeding on thistle seeds, 5 min aimless bimbling, 2 mins listening to a soap opera of kronking Ravens, 5 mins photographing interesting brown fungi, 30 secs deciding ”yes I should have brought gloves”, 1 and a half mins warming my fingers, 20 mins aimless bimbling, 2 mins trying to watch a Goldcrest as it zips through a Hawthorn, 30 secs being followed by horses, 3 mins contemplating the experience of hail bouncing off my ears, 10 mins aimless bimbling, 30 mins stalking interesting fungi (this is way more difficult than it seems), 4 mins cursing slugs for eating all the interesting fungi, 30secs wondering what the heck they put in slug pellets if all these poisonous fungi seemingly have no effect whatsoever on slugs, 10 secs wondering whether Taf Fechan has indestructible slugs, 5 secs thinking “yes gloves would have been a good idea”, 20 mins directed bimbling in the direction of home.…
Puffins Hit Hard by Last Winter’s Storms

Puffins Hit Hard by Last Winter’s Storms

As the first storms of the winter turn the Atlantic into a gargantuan washing machine, research is revealing the harsh consequences of last winter’s storms for seabirds in Wales. Dr Matt Wood, from the University of Gloucestershire, is helping to uncover the consequences for thousands of puffins on Skomer Island, in Wales. Dead puffin at Caswell Bay Around 50,000 dead seabirds, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills, were washed ashore in a severely emaciated state – they’d basically starved as storm after storm prevented them from catching enough fish to eat.…
A common lizard basking in the sun

Taf Fechan Reptile survey 2014

This is not a scientific analysis but here are some observations about this year’s Taf Fechan reptile surveys. There were 23 surveys completed this year which was, for various reasons, somewhat less than last year’s 33.   The survey season didn’t get off to a great start when a grass fire was set on the slope sometime before the 19th April but looking at the survey results this didn’t seem to drastically affect numbers (at least not immediately although I am sure some reptiles perished in the flames) as a survey on the 19th found 22 slow worms (including some very much alive under refuges in the burnt area) which was broadly similar to results before the fire and the next few surveys after the fire were also similar.  …
Not a cigarette but Green Woodpecker droppings

What are your average winter colours?

In a season not famed for the range of its colour palette things tend to stand out especially if they offer something for the eye to latch onto. Of course what they do latch onto isn’t always pleasant as the hidden detritus of humanity rise like dropped zombies from the undergrowth in the form of long hidden cans and crisp packets. Alternatively more interesting things also appear; the white thing in amongst the grass is unlikely to be a daisy so a slight detour to investigate and this time it turned out to be some (this may be one for the birdy purists) Green Woodpecker poo! …