An unexpected visitor last night

Our garden is full of trees, hawthorn and blackthorn and is intentionally quite wild; it backs onto woodland so we regularly get all sorts of interesting insects turning up in the house, and of course at this time of year with the windows open we get a lot of moths.

Emerald Moth

This is the first Common Emerald that we have seen here and we were taken by its distinctive wing shape and the chequered fringes. This particular individual appears quite travel worn – its verdant green colouring beginning to fade. They fly from dusk onwards, in June and July, around woodland and hedgerows, and occur in the southern half of Britain. The books say that they prefer woodland and hedgerows; particularly hawthorn and blackthorn which are food plants for the larvae. We have never seen them in the garden before, despite it being ideal habitat, so wondered if the species is moving westward or if this is just an odd occurrence. An hour or so later two more arrived, both in perfect condition, presumably this years hatch. For a closer look at the beauty of this beast, click on the image to open the full size version; as a guide the adults have a wing span of between 24 and 27mm.

The Devastation of the Eastern Highlands

Chris-Townsend

‘A savaged, stripped, blasted land.’ is how Chris Townsend describes parts of the Scottish Highlands, devastated by the shooting industry in an article in The Great Outdoors magazine.

If you have a spare couple of minutes please read the article and if you are minded to, sign the petition.

“Grouse shooting has become an issue due to the strange coincidence that the areas where raptors are rare or non-existent happen to be the same as grouse moors – though of course the estates protest that this is nothing to do with them and they love raptors. In England there is now a petition calling for driven grouse shooting to be banned in order to protect hen harriers. The petition says ‘intensive management of upland areas for the ‘sport’ of grouse shooting has led to the near-extinction of the protected Hen Harrier in England, as well as increased risk of flooding, discolouration of drinking water, degradation of peatbogs and impacts on other wildlife.’” © Chris Townsend

To read the article please click here: http://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/viewpoint/the-devastation-of-the-eastern-highlands-by-chris-townsend

There are more photographs and well informed comments on Chris’s blog here: http://www.christownsendoutdoors.com/2014/05/the-devastation-of-eastern-highlands.html

The petition is here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/65627

Two Grebe Chicks Hatched

We went back, last week, to see how the Grebes were doing and to check on the eggs. To our surprise and delight two of the four eggs had hatched and the young were already quite active. You will notice that the parent feeds the chicks with soft, downy, feathers; a quick look in the RSPB Handbook revealed that this may help in the formation of pellets.

Click on the image and you will be able to see the chicks.

There is another batch of images of the parents swapping over at the nest which I will post later.

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Afon Marteg

Afon-Marteg,-Gilfach-Nature-Reserve-1

This is one of several falls that bring the Marteg from high up in the Cambrian Mountains to its confluence with the mighty Wye. The falls are all situated in the beautiful setting of the Gilfach Nature Reserve – part of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. Gilfach is a traditional 410 acre hill farm – untouched since the 1960’s. It is locally unique because of its wide variety of habitats: high moorland to enclosed meadow; oak woodland to rocky upland river. The reserve is worth a visit at any time of year so I’ve included a link to their web site below.

http://www.rwtwales.org/index.php/radnorshire-wildlife-trust-reserves/gilfach.html

Sgwd yr Eira – the curtain waterfall

Sgwd-yr-Eira,-Brecon

A long easter weekend with friends in Wales and a stunning walk through the valley of the Mellte river in Brecon. At the point where the Afon Hepste, a tributary of the Mellte, leaps over a 50 foot cliff between high banks can be found the curtain waterfall of Sgwd yr Eira. The unusual feature of this fall is the narrow path that runs behind its thundering curtain of water and under the rock overhang that forms the lip of the fall.

I’ve read that the path was once used by sheep farmers which is, I think, a mark of how tough the people here have to be. The only way down to the river bed is by a long, steep decent on wooden steps – a recent addition – taking the track down before the steps were built would have been a dangerous venture. The approach from the river bed to the fall path is over loose, wet rock and the path itself is narrow and wet. The climb up the other side is also steep and narrow. Herding sheep this way would have been as tough as it gets.

In the Welsh ‘Eira’ means snow. Standing under the thundering falls your immediate attention is taken by the main force of water, no more than a metre away, as it crashes into the pool just below, but on either side where the force is less the water appears to fall more slowly and where the light catches the droplets you could be forgiven for thinking that it was in fact snowing.

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