Author: AlanS

Summer at Y Byddwn

July and August at Y Byddwn revolved mostly around family parties of birds although the highlight on August 20th involved a moth trapping evening with 8 traps set up and 6 members in attendance.

On July 6th my only day of July at the reserve I recorded 32 bird species and there were young of robin, wren, blackbird, mistle thrush, chiffchaff and pied wagtail. Two song thrushes were still singing, both on the reserve while another sang nearby suggesting a healthy population in the area. The single spotted flycatcher was again evident suggesting probable breeding.

This fairly common bristly beetle Lagria hirta photographed on July 6th feeds on nectar and pollen and is often found on open flowers of the daisy or carrot family.

Lagria hirta beetle

Can be found in double figures on Y Byddwn

In August once again the spotted flycatcher was evident, the last sighting being the 23rd. The 8th proved to be an excellent day with 36 species of bird including two new species for the reserve, both males, a whitethroat in the hedge whilst a yellowhammer joined flocks of chaffinches and house sparrows on the edge of the wheat field next to the reserve. The chaffinches and sparrows in fact along with swallow, blackcap, chiffchaff, coal tit and goldfinch were all in family parties while there were single juveniles of great spotted woodpecker, song thrush, grey wagtail and buzzard.

The moth trapping evening on the 2oth began with 2 tawny owls screeching and hooting, perhaps annoyed at us being on there territory. They came very close.

From the 8 moth traps set we recorded 39 or 40 moths, 17 new to the reserve. One of the best, though not on the reserve was Catocala nupta Red Underwing, one of our largest moths with a wingspan up to 75mm, It was actually settled on a tree near the trap and incredibly well camouflaged.  Another good find on the reserve was a Trichiura crataegi Pale Eggar whose larvae feed on Hawthorn of which there are plenty on the reserve. However probably the best find and in fact a new county record was left until the last not from an actual moth but a leaf mine on the leaf of a rowan tree. This leaf is mined by the larvae of a minor moth Leucoptera malifoliella. A great website for identifying moths, flies and mites is www.leafmines.co.uk

This small moth with a wingspan of just 20mm is one of many similar species. Its larvae feed on mosses on walls or tree trunks.

Moth species

Eudonia lacustrata

 

June at Y Byddwn

Despite many May and early June days being breezy and often with chilly nights, there were a lot of successes form the birds on the reserve. Of the 5 nest boxes, one was not used, the great tit failed but 2 families of blue tit fledged while the pied flycatcher also fledged with 7 young. Other family parties on the reserve included a luckier great tit pair, blue and coal tits, nuthatch, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, redstart, bullfinch, crow and jackdaw, the latter with up to 200 birds on the sheep field next to the reserve on June 24th.  I am now waiting to see how the blackcaps, garden warbler, willow warbler, spotted flycatcher, treecreeper, song thrush, chaffinch and chiffchaff fare, the latter are taking food to a nest in the undergrowth so should be fledging in early July.

Other bird highlights were of 4 goosander on May 5th, 1 or 2 curlews feeding in the sheep field from June 2nd to 6th, 3 sand martins on June 6th and a marsh tit on June 24th.

Peacock butterfly caterpillars now adorn some of the nettles and with increasing warmer days flowers  such as rosebay willowherb, hypericum and several different vetches (which the bees love) bring some colour to the reserve and in turn they attract a host of other insect life so its a great place to be for anyone interested in photography. You can view  a species list for the reserve by checking out the reserves website and going to the ‘What to look out for’ page and scrolling to the bottom where you can download a list species identified as of 2018.

 

April at Y Byddwn

April at Y Byddwn has been all about birds and nest building. Many of these species are regular residents. Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Crow, Nuthatch, Robin (2 pairs), Wren and Woodpigeon while Dunnock, Goldfinch, Treecreeper and possibly Mallard may well be nesting on the reserve or close by. Buzzards probably breed nearby and Song and Mistle Thrush both sing not far away. Summer migrants in the form of Chiffchaff (1 or 2 pairs) and Blackcap (2 pairs) are both building nests on the reserve while Redstart and Whitethroat sing within 200 hundred metres of the reserve.

Last year taking advice from a Nature Reserve warden in Devon to attract Pied Flycatchers we erected 4 nest boxes on trees in a square each about 10 metres from the other, the holes were drilled in sizes to suit different species. The usual culprits Blue and Great Tit took up residence in a box each but then would not tolerate another of their own kind nesting close by so this left 2 boxes for either Nuthatch, Redstart or Pied Flycatcher. The Nuthatch chose a tree hole and the Redstart hadn’t shown so when I saw and heard a male Pied Flycatcher singing on the 21st my hopes were raised as 2 boxes still seemed to be unoccupied. It was then on the 30th to my great delight that I observed a female carrying nest material into one of the empty boxes and so its now just a case of watching and waiting to see if they are successful in rearing a family.

Amazingly on the day the Flycatcher sang a Cuckoo also sang and passed through the reserve whist a Willow Warbler sang on the 30th but also moved on. One other good sighting for April was a lone Marsh Tit on the 6th.

Insects were a little scarce throughout the April but Orange Tip, Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies flew on the warmer sunny days and with flower blooms such as the vetches now appearing bees will definitely increase along with many other insect species during May.

Another bird that has bred on the reserve is the Spotted Flycatcher and they will hopefully return from Africa very soon now.

Finally for anyone who wishes to visit the reserve there is a visitor book for your name and any comments or interesting species you may see and there is a bench to sit on and enjoy the wonderful views of the mountains but try to avoid days when South West winds blow strong.

January at Y Byddwn

The pond at Y Byddwn

Aside from working on Y Byddwn, a local Farmer has allowed me to coppice very tall and shade forming hazel along a 200 metre stretch of his dismantled rail track that runs towards the road near Groesffordd. In a sense by allowing more light into this area this has extended the reserves potential for increased flora and fauna by hopefully encouraging an exchange of species from the reserve to the road. I am very much looking forward to seeing how the changes to both reserve and dismantled rail track develops over the coming spring and summer.

With pleasant weather on January 8th a Wildlife Trust work party assisted me clearing and burning brash from the beech that Steph felled before Christmas.Work part brash burning

We also prepared for a little hedge laying and Steph cut back overhanging branches and a fallen tree from the land beyond the reserve.

A visitor book is now attached to the information board on the reserve so please add your comments etc. should you visit.

WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS for JANUARY

In all 42 bird species have been seen or heard with resident robin and great tit both singing while mistle and song thrush have been heard singing from nearby trees.

Best birds were a merlin flying low over on the 3rd, Sparrowhawk on 2 occasions, a male hunting on the 5th and a female flying low over on the 30th. Red kites appear to be roosting somewhere just north east of Y Byddwn and 8 were seen at dusk on the 12th.

Gulls have been very evident with about 1000 lesser black-backs in the field next to the reserve on the 8th and about 600 black-headed feeding in fields by the A40. Both these species have been in good numbers all month whilst 2 herring gulls joined the black-backs on the 27th.

Redwings have also frequented the area throughout with highest counts of 300 on the 10th and 200 on the 30th. meanwhile just 1 fieldfare showed.

The dipper that was singing at the end of 2018 reappeared on the 23rd and again on 30th along with a grey wagtail feeding by the pond. 1 or 2 herons have also been sighted.

Starlings are often fly overs but 200 on the 28th and 400 on the 29th fed in nearby fields. 3 and then 4 stock doves flew over on the 28th and 30th respectively.

A new record for the reserve was house sparrow, 2 on the 23rd. They breed at a house 200 metres away at the end of the dismantled rail track that I worked on this winter.

The only other interest at present are mammals and fungi. Fox, badger, rabbit and mole have left there tale tale signs whilst grey squirrel has been observed on a regular basis

The fungi photos are of 2 winter species.

Flammulina velutipes, Velvet Shank

December at Y Byddwn

Cercopis vulnerata

I took over management of Y Byddwn Nature Reserve in October 2016 and being a small reserve, hardly larger then 4 tennis courts, I immediately set about identifying the flora and fauna, mostly fauna via photography throughout most of 2017.

The photographs were then posted on the local Biodiversity Information Services (BIS) or the national ‘irecord’ websites for verification by experts such as entomologists. A species list of everything identified can be found on The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ website.

Botanist John Crellin with a small group identified much of the flora on the reserve whilst I identified, birds, butterflies and some of the fungi. A lichen survey by Barbara Brown is still awaiting confirmation of correct identification.

During the winter of 2017/18 with some help from other volunteers and Conservation Officer Steph Coates we carried out hedge laying, coppicing and small tree felling with an aim to allow more light into the reserve. The idea being to increase the meadow size, encourage woodland edge understorey such as bramble and give the woodland pond a new lease of life in an attempt to restore it to its former glory when pond plants and creatures such as frogs, toads and kingfisher were recorded.

Below are photographs of the pond and Steph next to a felled beech tree as of December 2018.

Y Byddwn Pond

Y Byddwn Pond

Felled Beech tree at Y Byddwn

Felled Beech tree at Y Byddwn

All of this work should create more diversity on the reserve by increasing the flora and therefore invertebrates and also bird activity in the form of feeding and nesting. The latter being helped by the placement of 4 nest boxes erected in late spring 2018.

Below are some photographs of the flora and fauna identified on Y Byddwn Nature reserve in 2017/18.

 

Nomada goodeniana (Goodens Nomad Bee)

Nomada goodeniana (Goodens Nomad Bee) on Celandine.

Hoplia philanthus (Welsh Chafer) on ivy in June.

Hoplia philanthus (Welsh Chafer) on ivy in June.

Clytus arietis (Wasp Beetle)

Clytus arietis (Wasp Beetle) on Meadowsweet in May

Cercopis vulnerata

Cercopis vulnerata (Red and Black Froghopper) in May

 

Rhopalus subrufus

Rhopalus subrufus (Bug) in May

Bombylius major (Dark-edged Bee-fly)

Bombylius major (Dark-edged Bee-fly) in April.

Chorphippus parallelus (meadow Grasshopper)

Chorthippus parallelus (meadow Grasshopper) in July.

Alabonia geoffrella

Alabonia geoffrella (Minor Moth) n Bracken in May.

Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar)

Geastrum triplex (Collared Earthstar Fungi) in August.