Male adder

Male adder
By Peter Byles

Monday, 16 January 2017

Winter Heliotrope

Winter Heliotrope is in full flower along the roadside outside our house. I picked a flower and put it in a vase to see what the scent was like - it was like a rather sickly vanilla.The flower and the scent lasted for many days.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Nursery Web Spider - Pisaura mirabilis

I had seen on the Pembrokeshire Wildlife blog some excellent photos dated 16 July 2016 from Peter Byles, of the Nursery Web Spider - Pisaura mirabilis. You may like to know that on a visit to Pembroke Dock I saw a Nursery Web Spider on grass next to Pembroke River/Pennar Gut (OS ref: SM957023) on 26 December 2016. This is an extremely late date for this spider; I have never seen one in Winter where I live in Hampshire, and as an amateur arachnologist I am always on the look out for spiders.

Two days earlier, on 24 December 2016, I saw another unexpected spider: a Stripe-legged Spider - Harpactea hombergii. This was nearby one metre up a three metre high South-facing cliff.

I realise that spiders are under-recorded in Pembrokeshire, nevertheless, these were interesting finds in late December.

Regards,


Dennis Trunecka.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

The smell of gorse in December

While I know that gorse is usually in bloom in December, I was not prepared for the display that greeted me on the cliffs between Monkhaven and St Ishmaels this morning - the gorse was in flower all along the path and down the cliffs and it was covered in bloom. In the warm sunshine and light breeze, it was emitting its wonderful perfume of coconut and butterscotch. I am pretty sure that I have never smelt this in December before!
There were not many insects taking advantage of this bounty but there was one queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee and a queen of a smaller species - maybe Early Bumblebee.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

NURSERY WEB SPIDER Pisaura mirabilis

This striking spider was found in a neighbour's garden. She was vigorously
defending a web full of purple spiderlings and quite hard to photograph. I
had quite a time trying to identify it, but found an excellent website. As I
keep finding with creatures I've never identified before, it is described as
widespread and common!



Peter Byles.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Water Voles

One, possibly two, seen on the Western Cleddau over the weekend, between St Catherine's and Trefgarne bridges.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Nature is tough

A huge hole had been dug at the base of an old Pembs bank alongside the coast path.  One of our local badgers has had a good feed. The Red-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus lapidarius, have lost their home.
             
Peter Byles, Ceibwr.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Bats

We have a breeding colony of Soprano Pipistrelle bats in our bedroom roof - they are extremely noisy at night (sounds like they are running around with clogs on) but it only lasts for a couple of months so we put up with it. Usually they go up into the roof under the fascia board but this morning in the garden I could hear more-than-usually-loud bat communication squeaks and realised that there was a little cluster of about 7 bats tucked up underneath the gable end. I wonder why they are there? Are they adults or juveniles? Are they juveniles that couldn't find the way back in?
That's the trouble with wildlife - every sighting just leads to more questions!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Tree Bumblebee nest

We have had Tree Bumblebees in our garden for several years now - we often see them on the raspberry flowers - see pic. 

This year they have nested in our compost heap - the entrance is between two wooden slats at the front of the centre bin. Peter unsuspectingly heaped a new load of stuff on to the top only to be confronted with about 6 angry bees whizzing out of the hole and he actually got stung. When we realised what was going on we also noticed a single bee patrolling up and down outside the nest - we thought it was a "guard" bee but we now know it was a "male on surveillance" because we read an excellent paper on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website about Tree Bumblebees and their nests.  http://bumblebeeconservation.org/images/uploads/Tree_bee_article_2015.pdf
So we know not to create sudden vibrations - Peter has found he can put compost on the adjacent heap very carefully without being attacked! Since we noticed the nest the weather has been awful so I'm not sure how they're getting on.

But you can see how they have spread so successfully - they nest in protected places where badgers can't dig them up and they are quite aggressive.

Ruby-tailed Wasp up to something

With a West wind howling off the sea the only insects out and about
today were intrepid Bumblebees. However we have a lean-to greenhouse with
lots of stuff in flower and an open door. Many different  bees ,wasps and
hoverflies and a family of Great Tits have taken to popping in when it is
rough outside.

      A little earlier in the year Mason Wasps were using the open ends of
bamboo canes for nesting.

     Today I found this Ruby-tailed Wasp, Chrysis ignita -( you can see the
'horns' on the tail end) . It is a Kleptoparasite (like a cuckoo) and lays
eggs in the nests of Mason Wasps. This one kept buzzing about, sunning
itself and repeatedly returning to this cane and disappearing down the hole
at the end. Do they lay clutches of eggs? I'd just love to know what goes
on. I am loth to cut the cane open just to satisfy my curiosity. Has anyone
any ideas?

      Peter Byles




Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Volunteers required for otter survey

We urgently need volunteers in your area for otter field work. Please could you consider helping us, and sharing the advert below with your local mammal contacts?

Do you have experience of otter surveys and can survey the Tywi, Tefi or Cleddau catchments in west Wales?
We need your help to investigate if otter diet has changed over the past 30 years. In the next couple of months we need to visit around 90 river sites in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion and collect otter spraint for diet analysis. We are repeating surveys conducted in the 1980s and 1990’s. 

We can provide site maps, sample gloves and bags and travel expenses. If you are interested in helping, please contact otters@cardiff.ac.uk To find out more about our work, please visit www.cardiff.ac.uk/otter-project

Many thanks

Eleanor Kean