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A Quiet Appreciation For Nature

Now that winter is upon us, I am changing to posting on this blog once a fortnight as I won’t be seeing quite the variety of wildlife that the British summer provides, especially when combined with the increased hours of darkness. Whilst this is saddening in itself, the spare time provided by winter evenings will enable me to sort through various records (moths and otherwise) and submit them to county recorders, catch up on my reading (I’ve got some great magazines and books to sink into), and watch nature documentaries (including catching up on the fantastic new Attenborough series).

So the last two weeks – not a great variety of wildlife, and not too much different from my last blog post. I spent the weekend up at Gilfach Nature Reserve again, becoming mesmerised by the waterfall until being dislodged from my daydreams by the sudden flash of salmon leaping out of the water.

My first new species of this blog post is the Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis. An interesting insect, but not a good one to find as it is an invasive species, originally from America, imported to Europe on timber. As an invasive, there is a recording scheme in place, so if you spot one, do let the scheme know! When I saw it, it was actually on the sleeve of a visitor to the centre, and I initially thought that it may have been a type of shieldbug. However, as soon as I saw it, I knew that it was the Western Conifer Seed Bug despite never finding this species before. This is because I had seen photos of it in a couple of the insect-related Facebook groups that I’m part of. Social media is very useful sometimes.

I should add, my finding of this insect caused much excitement when I got back to the office. One of my colleagues is the invertebrate county recorder, and it turns out that there have been only 4 other recordings of this species in the vice-county, AND he had never seen one. So he was thrilled when I turned up with my specimen.

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Naturally, I also put out the moth trap overnight. I didn’t quite catch the ridiculous number (61!!!) of December Moths that I caught the weekend before – but still a decent number at 14. I took this opportunity of calm weather to hold up one of the December Moths up against the light. You can see it in the middle of the photos below, showing the translucence of its wing. I also caught a new species for me – the Mottled Umber Moth, and another species that I had seen before but not caught myself, the Satellite moth.

This weekend, I decided that I’d not seen enough birds recently so headed over to RSPB’s Ynys-hir Nature Reserve. Whilst I didn’t see anything particularly spectacular, I had such a lovely afternoon, which is what the title of this blog post relates to. I had a relaxed walk around part of the reserve, all in beautiful light. I took the time to appreciate some of our more normal birds, watching and photographing a robin and a blackbird for a while.

Further down the reserve, I spend some time sitting a couple of the hides looking out across the landscape. It was stunning and a calming way to spend a couple of hours.

Upon spotting water, I immediately thought otter and started looking for spraint. Remembering that they spraint in obvious spots, I searched the mounds of grass and soon found some. Of course, I had to double-check so got my nose in close for a good whiff. Definitely otter! Naturally this was the point at which another person appeared in view, I felt I needed to explain what I was up to! I also saw two new bird species for me – Lapwing and Barnacle Goose, as well as Oystercatcher, Meadow Pipit and more.

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