8 Dec 2013

Bird and Moths

Colin Miles

3rd Dec 2013 A grey, dry, still December day and most trees now leafless. Following on from discussions as to what we should do next year, and how, it was decided to try out a bird walk within the confines of the Garden covering a variety of habitats. And this week we were very pleased to have Julian Friese with us. Indeed, without his expertise, keen hearing and the ability to name birds simply from seeing them in flight, we would not have managed the 37 species that we did.

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The route we took , and which we hope could become a regular monthly bird walk, started out from the Stable Block and towards the Theatr Botanica, and along towards Spring Woods. We took the route above Spring Woods, but an alternative one which keeps to the flat would be below it and behind the Double-Walled Gardens. Either way should give the opportunity to see and hear a variety of birds. And indeed we were soon clocking them up, including a Nuthatch, Tree-Creeper and the Green Woodpecker.  I particularly mention the Green Woodpecker as it is only recently that one has been spotted in the whole of the Garden, though they have been present in Waun Las. Perhaps an increase in Anthills within the Garden has encouraged it in.

The intended bird walk route would then be down from the Boar by the Ice House and linking up with the lower one mentioned above. But we diverted up towards the back of the Science Block to see whether there were any Fairy Rings. These had been spotted last December but this year there was no sign of them and no chance that we would be able to find them as everything was so overgrown with Brambles and Hogweed. So back to the Boar and down to behind the Bee Corner all the while clocking up the species including a tardy Chiffchaff and Redwings flying overhead.

In the woods behind the Aqualab there are always a lot of woodland birds and today wasn’t any different.  Nuthatch, Blackbirds, Robins, Bluetits, etc. Then on to the lakes and we were pleased to see lots of Moorhens, Coots, Teal and Little Grebes who had clearly been successful in rearing the chicks that we photographed earlier in the summer.  No sign of any Kingfishers but I was pleased that I managed to be the first to spot a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the top of a tree across the lake!  Even complete amateurs can make a contribution.

Next to the bridge over the stream by the entrance to Waun Las  where we spent some time just watching and waiting.  This area had been cleared early this year and offers an excellent opportunity to bird-watch.  Just stand and wait for them to appear.

Then back through the Great Glasshouse to see how the House Sparrows were doing and whether there were any other birds there apart from the odd Robin, but no.

Finally back to the Stable Block where we examined the Moths that Marigold and Susan had prepared for us.  The moth trap had been set up the previous evening along the top end of the Double-Walled Garden wall facing the Mirror Pool.  And, despite the lateness of the season, there were 6 moths in the trap.  They are really rather beautiful creatures and we hope to bring you more photos next year when the Garden gets its own Moth trap.

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For those of us who were very much amateur birders it was quite a revelation to hear and watch Julian and Colin Jones hearing and spotting birds which we couldn’t see or hear. And we definitely need a course on bird song!  Below is a list of the birds that we spotted.  Can you do better?

Blackbird, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard,Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, House Sparrow, Jay, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Tit, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Nuthatch,  Pied/White Wagtail, Raven, [Redpoll (Common/Lesser)], Redwing, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Teal , Treecreeper, Willow Tit, Woodpigeon, Wren

Thanks  to John for the photos and if any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please  send an email to Colin Miles  – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested.   If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture. And if you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Survey blogs

If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.