Redstarts in Mid-Wales

Spotted yesterday at the base of Fan hill by the carpark at the Bwlch-y-gle dam, this beautiful common redstart, singing his heart out.

Last week a black redstart was spotted in Carno. Rare in this country, on the continent it fills the same garden niche occupied by the robin here. There robins remain a woodland bird. Perhaps we will see more black redstarts if the summer temperatures continue to increase in the future.

The summer migrants are piling in, the male pied flycatchers have arrived and are claiming their territories including the nest box that was so successful last year — they are furiously defending potential nesting sites, squawking at any intruders while awaiting the arrival of the females.

Here is our noisy pied flycatcher waiting for his mate.


Good News! Pied Flycatchers have Returned!

Spotted in Gwernavon woods, Llawr-y-glyn, Powys yesterday (13.04.2023) the first pied flycatcher to make it back from Africa through the gales and rain — the day before that it snowed and hailed here. The male bird looked in very good condition, plump and lively — probably fluffed up trying to keep warm.

No sign of last years swallows returning yet but some have been seen in Y Fan, just over the hill

Where are our babies? The swallows from the beam in the barn.

Last years pied flycatcher fledgelings were ringed so we might be able to spot them if they make it back — here’s hoping.

Tomorrow the rain will stop and we will look for the northern wheatears — I shall feel very much better when they are all back in their summer quarters even though I know many individuals will have been lost!

Cornwall, Ecology, Urban environment

Seals on the Balance of Nature.

Seals are doing well around the United Kingdom since we stopped persecuting them, like these common seals seen earlier this year on a beach in Cornwall near to my daughter’s home. The common or harbour seals are smaller than the grey seals and, I think, look cuddlier although don’t get too close! Their faces are concave, more dog shaped than the grey seal below.

Grey seals are larger, often darker, greyer and with a more aquiline profile to their muzzles and their eyes are set further back. The greys tend to lie close together in groups when hauled up on the beach.

Here is a mixed group, some lying like bananas to keep their extremities out of the surf as the tide comes in. You’ll often see them doing this perched on a rock as the tide comes up to eventually lift them off and remind them that it is time to go and hunt.

As their numbers increase their distribution is becoming wider. My other daughter took this photo in Peterborough, 40 miles inland.

Two common seals by the lock on the River Nene in Peterborough. Man is no longer the top predator of seals here, but killer whales keep down their numbers in Scotland and hunt them in shallow water, and the inlets of sea lochs, David Attenborough said so — will they eventually follow them down the coast and up the Nene? That will give us something other than sewage to worry about when we do our wild swimming and canoeing!