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  • Sunny days

    It's that time of year when the woods go fairly quiet for birds. Pied flycatchers have fledged and dispersed into the top canopy making them almost impossible to spot., and it's a similar story for the redstarts. Yet there is still plenty of wildlife to see. We are enjoying yet more sunny weather at the reserve which is great for butterflies, emerging dragonflies and damselflies,not to mention the reptiles such as grass snakes and common lizard.

    Naomi took the opportunity yesterday,to do the weekly butterfly transect and various species were seen.The most abundant being large whites and meadow browns. Other species on the wing were peacocks, red admirals, gatekeeper, ringlets and small copper.

    The boardwalks on the red route are great at the moment for seeing common lizards basking in the sun before shooting off quickly out of sight.

    For birds, there are still lapwing with juveniles on the pools at Marian Mawr plus common sandpiper with chick, lots of young little egrets and the kingfishers can be spotted from Domenlas. Green sandpiper can be seen in the pools in front of the Visitor Center. 

  • A royal visit...

    First off, apologies for the delay in this posting, it would have been sooner but we've spent a couple of weeks without internet after the gales. As it is, June is the beginning of the silly season for birdwatchers with many of the spring migrants now much less visible as the breeding season winds down, and attention starts to wander to other parts of the natural world. The Dyfi ospreys are still to be seen from the reserve however, as the striking photo below can attest, and the oystercatchers nesting on the wall in front of the Domen Las hide have successfully reared two chicks.

    Osprey, Pandion haliaetus (Paul Wilson)

    Oystercatcher, Haemotopus ostralegus (Keith Roberts)

    There can be little doubt that it's reptile and invertebrate season at the minute though. Grass snakes and common lizards are out and about, and our butterfly transects have recorded common blue, brimstone, red admiral, meadow brown, speckled wood, green-veined white and large white among others. Anyone with an interest in getting to grips with butterflies is more than welcome to attend our 'Celebrating Meadows' event on July 8th, where they can learn not just about butterflies but the whole range of plants and invertebrates associated with the grasslands at the reserve. The event is free, with guided walks running at 11am and 2pm, and grass sweeping in the afternoon. Please ring the Visitor Centre (01654 700222) or email ynys-hir@rspb.org.uk to book. Odonata have also become increasingly visible, particularly large red and common blue damselflies, as well as a scattering of broad-bodied chasers. There'll be plenty of other species out there, time to get looking!

    Common blue, Polyommatus icarus (Tom Kistruck)


    Broad-bodied chaser, Libeulla depressa (Ryan Astley)

    No fungal feature this time, so here's an interesting fern instead. Royal fern is a plant of damper habitats, and a rarity in Ceredigion, so it's nice to see it's splendid fronds along the boardwalk at Covert Coch. The species declined markedly due to collection in the Victorian period, when its fibres were used as a medium for growing orchids, and it also has a curious and poorly understood history in European folklore, where it has been associated with a variety of medicinal, mystical, and occult properties.

    Royal fern, Osmunda regalis (Chris Goding)

  • Migrant birds and bony plants...

    With the increase in temperature, most of the regular migrants have been accounted for over the past month, including pied flycatcher, redstart, whitethroat, cuckoo, sedge warbler, grasshopper warbler, garden warbler, and swallow among others. The reserve (and the woodlands in particular) resounds with birdsong, and having a good ear for songs and calls (something I'm still practising) is more useful than ever at this time of year. Nesting is also well underway, and lots of species can be seen with nest material, or carrying food items to a box or a hidden nest site. 

    Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus (Keith Roberts)

    Our main woodland looks spectacular in April/May, the ground flora dominated by bluebells and greater stitchwort, and the keen-eyed will also spot wood sorrel and red campion in flower, as well as the last of the celandine and wood anemone, all together making up quite the late spring palette. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the second part of greater stitchwort's scientific name Stellaria holostea is related  to 'All-bones', an old common name for the plant, from the ancient Greek 'holo-' meaning 'whole, entire', and 'osteo', relating to bones. This supposedly because the plant snaps easily. You learn something new everyday here.   

    Greater stitchwort, Stellaria holostea (Chris Goding)

    Last but not least, we have recently been renovating our pond dipping area, installing some lovely new benches and a woven willow fence, as well as starting the construction of a willow arch. Perfect for some aquatic investigations on a warm summers day!