Let’s go to the beach

This week didn’t kick off with a bang, but rather some very heavy frost. It took me twenty minutes to get into my car on Monday morning it was so iced up! And freezing weather for the rest of the day is obviously the best weather for heading out to a nature reserve. Actually, it was a good idea because 1) the reserve looked awesome in the frost, 2) I got some nice close-up photos of frozen leaves / lichens / etc, and 3) it was actually sunny so the light was good. This was a new reserve to me, Abercamlo Bog, which is quite near to Llandrindod Wells. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty chuffed with the last photo, of the fungi. Most fungi photos I take end up looking blurry (unless I use the flash), because the fungi I’ve come across so far seem to not have sharp edges / patterns.

The middle of the week saw me driving south-east back to Dorset. I was visiting the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre for a job interview (I didn’t get it, but I enjoyed my visit and was chuffed enough to have got an interview). I got there super early, so had a lovely (albeit damp) walk along the beach.

At the weekend, I took part in the RSPB’s Garden Birdwatch – a long term citizen science project. I did it twice, first at Radnorshire Wildlife Trust‘s offices in Llandrindod Wells (you can see the results at the Facebook page). Then back at house, where the highlight was 11 Long-tailed Tits at the end of the hour.

After doing the Birdwatch, I went for a walk in the garden. Suddenly above, there appeared 10 red kites, followed not long after by about 100 crows. Evidently, the crows had spotted the kites as they were flying straight towards them and cawing away. Down by the river, I checked the usual rock for otter spraint, no luck. I had been eye-ing up another rock by the river, and managed to find a way down to it. My instinct was right, and there I found some spraint! Relatively fresh as still dark in colour and still whiffy with that distinctive musky smell – a mix of jasmine and fish (as odd as that sounds, that’s what it is!).

And lastly, a rare nice photo of me, taken by one of my line managers last week when we went to Gilfach (as described in last week’s blog post).

*I know that I said that my posts would be fortnightly now, but I underestimated the amount of wildlife I would see during winter!

In Good Company

Do you remember my blog post back in September where I raved about how fantastic a certain group called A Focus On Nature is? And I’d gone to their conference and got caught up in an adrenaline high from being around so many young conservationists? Well, I’m back in that mode again!

There is a reason for this mind, it hasn’t just suddenly occurred. I spent a recent Sunday at WWT Slimbridge with a number of other members of AFON. It was great to see them again, and meet new friends. Despite being surrounded by birds, I soon honed in on fellow moth-ers and was nattering again comparing our catches (still haven’t come across anyone catching more than 61 December Moths, so am chuffed with that).

Of course, I did appreciate the birds, how could I not? This visit to Slimbridge saw me ticking off a number of new species for me (both for the year, and for life) such as Bewick’s Swan (looks a bit like a mute swan) and Pintail (which is just such a lovely bird, it’s plumage is stunning!). In the captive animal area, I saw my first harvest mice. Now I’ve seen lifesize illustrations, but it wasn’t til I saw these mice in person that I realised just how tiny they are! It’s ridiculous! So absolutely teeny tiny! Naturally highly adorable, even to the self-admitted non-mammal lover in the group.

During the day, we also watched (via a large screen), the spoon-billed sandpipers being fed – also adorable, heard a talk given by Mya-Rose Craig (aka birdgirl) where she highlighted the oil spill in Sundarbans and the lack of action, had a tour by the senior warden Martin McGill and had an absolutely scrumptious meal at the local pub (highly recommended, both the main and the delicious ice cream!).

Below are various other birds also seen during my visit:

All in all, it was a great day out – many thanks to AFON, and in particular to Matt Collis who arranged the whole day!

Also in December, I had a quick visit to a Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve – Woods Mill. There is a lovely pond, which must be absolutely buzzing with dragonflies and damselflies during the summer months! It was very still on my visit, a tranquil place to sit by and relax. Though not completely devoid of activity, as I was soon joined by a friendly robin looking for some food. Unfortunately I had to disappoint the little bird as my pockets were bare.

As it was quite still, I took the opportunity to just take a moment and look at parts of nature I might otherwise walk past.

Other blog posts about the AFON visit to WWT Slimbridge:

Wader Quest:  http://www.waderquest.org/2014/12/afon.html

Amy Robjohns: https://birdingaroundhampshire.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/a-focus-on-wwt-slimbridge/