We welcome contributions from anyone with an interest in wildlife. Our aim is that the blog will be used for sharing sightings, photographs, events, and any other aspects of natural history interest in the East Glamorgan area of Vice County 41. This covers Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr Tydfil, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and the western part of Caerphilly.
I spotted this striking slime mould, the first of it's kind I have seen, at the Amelia Farm Trust last weekend. I'm no expert on slime moulds but I think it might be Metatrichia floriformis. If anyone can confirm the id I would be grateful! The spherical fruiting bodies were hanging vertically down on stalks that were a redder colour than is evident from the photo
I guess the slime moulds may be one of the few organisms enjoying this wet and comparatively mild (temperature wise) winter!
Mark, I've just accidentally deleted your post on bracken fungus while trying to remove a draft post on a slime mould - Sorry! The perils of having administrator access and not watching what I'm doing!
A few hours spent mossing at this valley woodland near Gwaelod-y-garth on Sunday produced a nice range of species. Most of these are fairly common in ancient woods but the calcareous spring added a bit of diversity.
Lejeunea cavifolia (Micheli's Least Pouncewort) - large patch on Ash trunk
Leucobryum juniperoideum (Smaller White-moss) cushions on Birch trunk
The handsome leafy liverwort Plagiochila asplenioides (Greater Featherwort) among leaf litter
Swathes of Rhytidiadelphus loreus (Little Shaggy-moss)
Palustriella commutata (Curled Hook-moss) growing on tufa deposits in the calcareous spring
Fissidens adianthoides (Maidenhair Pocket-moss) at spring margin
Late this afternoon, near Mountain Ash, while searching Broom for moth mines I came across this little beauty. I've looked through my spider book, but can't come up with even a genus. It seems to me that just about every spider known to man needs microscopic examination in order to identify it to species level, but I can rarely even manage genus, so over to you, Adam. Genus will do.
Also, while out enjoying the sunshine today, I took a close look at the lower branches of a Wych Elm, near Aberdare, which has White-letter Hairstreak butterflies and found this WLH egg; the first I've ever found.
The Wenvoe Garden Centre near Culverhouse Cross, is having a Spring event this weekend Saturday 15/16th Feb and Linda Morris will be having a stall selling Dr Mary Gillham's books on behalf of Cardiff Naturalists. All books are new and there are approx a dozen titles available relating to wildlife, geology, botany, walks etc in South Wales and beyond. All proceeds are going to a Cardiff University prize fund for a 2nd year student with the best field work project, which is funded by Cardiff Naturalists. There are also craft stalls and probably cakes! Please pass on to any friends and family who may be interested but not a member.
Insect activity is probably as low as it gets around this time of year, but there is always an arachnid or two around if you look hard enough! One of the groups you are most likely to see are the spiders of the genus Pardosa, in the Lycosidae family (often known as Wolf spiders). They are easy to recognise to genus level by their appearance; generally medium sized with obviously hairy stout banded legs and a very distinctive eye pattern. They are found running rapidly across almost any low level warm surface that gets plenty of sun, and the females may carry a silk egg sac with them. A binocular microscope is needed to determine Pardosa to species level though.
Even a brief spell of sunshine provided it is enough to warm the open ground they prefer will often bring out significant numbers of these spiders; the temperature is 7 degrees outside and I have just counted more than twenty Pardosa spiders basking in the sun on a 2 metre stretch of gravel.
I've also been using the winter evenings to go through some specimens that I collected last summer. One of them was Pardosa hortensis:
Pardosa hortensis - sorry about the photo!
It is an uncommon find for Wales, and indeed looks like it is one of a handful of records this side of the border though I have a recollection that there may be a couple of sites in the west of VC41 where it has been recorded.
And if Nigel happens to be reading this, there was another Bombus terrestris in the garden today. It looks as though they are successfully over-wintering here. This time it was feeding on a Grevillea which is blooming right now.
I was surprised to see a harvestman trundling around in its characteristic ungainly fashion in the boot of my car today. On closer inspection it turned out to be Leiobunum blackwalli, see here: http://srs.britishspiders.org.uk/portal.php/p/Summary/s/Leiobunum+blackwalli. I hadn't been expecting to see any harvestmen at all for a couple of months yet, most species having a strong peak occurrence in the summer and autumn.
The spider recording scheme data shows (as best as I can tell) only one previous February record for this species.
It would be interesting to know whether it is a 'late' record i.e. it has survived the winter rather than being an 'early' freshly emerged specimen. Normally I believe most harvestmen are killed by the first frosts but this year has been so mild that we've only had two frosty mornings. In this very mild coastal location even those mornings were not cold enough to freeze the ground.
Now I am just left with the dilemma of how to record it given that I found it in the back of my car!