Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Brown Field Site

One of the best brown field sites found locally to me has to be the area in between Aberbargoed, Bedwellty and Markham, its apparently owned by the Environmental Health section of Caerphilly Council, which department is anyone guess because they don't even now themselves.

I've got some interesting memories of visiting this place over the years. One from back when it was a water filled quarry, where i nearly drowned when i was about 6 years of age. Me and a friend where trying to catch newts that where surfacing near the waters edge. The banking collapsed from underneath me, the rubble trapping me under water. Thanks to Brett Price for the life saving rescue...pulled me out by my basin cut.

Later on it became a landfill site. Me and a few other mates would go scrounging through the rubbish looking for pen knives, the sort you could buy from the local papershop at the time. You had to be quick as there was competition, mostly in the form of the late Rolly Adams.

Markham/Aberbargoed Old Quarry Site
Its now regenerated into an interesting habitat that's become home for a wide range of local flora and fauna...a large area of grassland, surrounded by Gorse, Bramble and Tree. These scrub areas can be almost impossible to get through, offering excellent shelter for the local fox and rabbit population. A matter of a fact, this is probably the only place you can get to see rabbit regularly these day, rabbit has become quite scarce around here.
The wetter grassed areas can amass an interesting display of Southern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids, many of which take on some interesting forms.

This particular wet area (shown in photo below) has to be my favourite part of the site. I once counted 52 Bee Orchids in this small area, shame its in the process of being taken over by Willow.
Its one of those places you need to keep an eye on where your placing your feet, nearly trod on these little chaps on one of my visits.
Where there are voles there will certainly be vole runs and tunnels. These are always worth a search through. I've found a good number of beetles this way and at this particular site good numbers of the woodlouse Armadillidium nasatum.
More photos...

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Ambulance station field

Tidy weather for a change, my chickens sunning themselves down the bottom of the garden, even had a bit of tunnage from a couple of Dunnocks and a Song Thrush. So its out for a quick nose about behind the old Ambulance Station in Aberbargoed. Its mostly a small area of grassland and planted trees, the northern end of what used to be Bargoed pit. It has one of those stupid outdoor gyms that nobody use.

I mostly focused my search under the moss covered stones found in amongst the trees. Found a number of Glomeris marginata rolled up under most of the stones i turned. This one caught my eye, not seen one this colour. I've seen close, they have always had some black on them and have all been small specimens, this one was large.

Glomeris marginata

Nice to find some Haplophthalmus mengii, collected three, lucky one was a male. I've also taken H. danicus, not to far from here, would very much like to find H. montivagus to round these off. Not the best photo...

Haplophthalmus mengii

I found my only beetle, this i thought would stand nicely for a few shots. Manged to get in one before it tried to make a run for it down a mouse hole. 

Leistus ferrugineus

The walk back took me on to the old train station. A quick search over the walls never fail to produce Clausilia bidentata.

Aberbargoed Train Station

Juv Clausilia bidentata

Clausilia bidentata
Always worth keeping your eyes peeled for the terrestrial Nemertine - Argonemertes dendyi. Found two of a colour i don't normally find, some shade of pink seems to be the usual here. Geonemertes dendyi also seems to be another name for this Australian introduction.

Geonemertes dendyi

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Once again the weather is pwp, checked the forecast with Alfy Taff The Morning Local Weather Butt via Facebook (check at your own risk). More rain on the way by the looks of things lol, not much chance of looking about again.

Lithobius forficatus
Means I'm stuck in, i've decided to mull over some of my Centipede records on Mapmate. Seems I've picked up 22 spp since i've taken an interest in them. Would very much like to focus more on these this year, mostly going over some old ground and try and fill in some gaps...perhaps a lifer or two. Below is my list so far, in some sort of order to how common i seem to come across them.
Lithobius variegatus

Henia brevis was the first Centipede i came across that i weren't sure of, so this went off to Tony Barber who kindly identified it as such. This one was found behind the Rangers office at Llandegfedd Res, not found one since. 

Lithobius macilentus also seen at Llandegfedd Reservoir and in the rubble of whats left of Aberbargoed train station. Would like to pick up on a few more of these, apparently all British specimens appear to be female.

I found L. borealis dead in a spider web in my green house, not sure how it got here, yet to find it anywhere else. The Graig opposite looks suitable so i'm assuming it may have come from here, where i search regularly?

L. curtipes, I've only found at Cantref Res, fairly easy to find here.

L. tricuspis seems to be high up the list, I actually only come across it in the Darren Valley. Found to be common in the two large conifer plantations and surrounding deciduous old woods as you drive up the valley from Bargoed. My first specimens of these where sent off to Tony for checking. I quickly got a reply congratulating me on my find, seem this was to be the second site for Wales.

Lithobius tricuspis
The rest seem to be readily come by, in the right habitat...to some extent. Its always worth checking over what you "think" is a recognisable species in the field. I've been caught out many a time with these. Those small Centipedes you think may be young of one of those larger types, often turn out to be something else. Thought i had something new recently, it turned out to be an odd Strigamia crassipes with 47 leg pairs. Don't want to say to much or put up any photos as i believe Tony is going to write a small note in the next BMIG newsletter.

Strigamia acuminata
Lithobius melanops
Geophilus insculptus

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Standing dead Birch

I came across a nice standing dead Birch to scrounge over yesterday. Its situated on a NW facing bank above the Rhymney river, just over from my house. I grabbed a few small handfuls of the looser material to check an was presently surprised at what was contained within this small mix of bark and pulp. Several Craspedosoma rawlinsii, Chordeuma proximum, Platybunus triangularis,and Sabacon viscayanum ramblaianum.

Also had singles of Tachyporus dispar, Megabunus diadema, Rhagium mordax, Anthocoris nemorum and Lepthyphantes minutus. Did also get a few Springtails which i did not bother with, a female Quedius mesomelinus/maurus and some other tiny Staphs I've yet to id.

Rhagium mordax with Craspedosoma rawlinsii below
Old photo of my first Rhagium mordax.
Was not the best day for taking photos, dark and gloomy so the majority of the photos i took were useless.
Tachyporus dispar
Edit...Those Craspedosoma rawlinsii i mentioned above were in fact a new species for Britain. You can read about them and their discovery here Ceratosphys amoena form confusa .I have yet to find C. rawlinsii...

Monday, 13 January 2014

White slugs

Came across an interesting article earlier on the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland website...The White Slug of Storr.

I found slugs to be a tricky bunch to get on with, it was not until Ben Rowson gave me a lesson on dissecting that i slowly became familiar with them. I've also now learnt to appreciate them more and even tolerate them as a Gardener. They've become a group i regularly look out for and I'd really like to find one of those white ones. Don't get me wrong, I've found white slugs, but want to find one from a species that's not usually that colour, like the one in the above link or a nice big Limax spp.

Here are some of those slugs that are usually found some shade of white in my area. Perhaps the most well known for Wales in recent history is the "newly" discovered Selenochlamys ysbryda - Ghost slug. I find these regularly at two sites local to me, one in Bargoed and the other under Hengoed Viaduct.

Ghost slug from behind the fuel station Bargoed

Another introduced species Boettgerilla pallens - Worm Slug. Its becoming a common slug, I've found it at a good number of sites locally.

Worm slug.

Worm slug.

The more familiar, especially to the gardener, is Deroceras reticulatum - Field Slug. These can be fairly variable in colour and pattern, I've seen whiter D. reticulatum than this but not got any photos of one. Another similar here is D. agreste, these are mostly a northern slug, don't think there are any confirmed sightings for Wales.

Field slug

Arion intermedius - Hedgehog Slug, another commonly found slug but can be easily overlooked.

Hedgehog slug

Would also like to find more pink slugs, like this baby slug here...possible Deroceras reticulatum?

Tiny pink slug.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Earwig

I've manged three species of Earwig to date, all of which have been found in Wales...i rarely record anywhere else. The most common has to be, Forficula auricularia (Common earwig), find these almost everywhere i look, its a good one to get familiar with.

Been fortunate to find Forficula lesnei (Lesne's Earwig) a few times, these where all confined to the grounds of Llandegfedd res.

The other and I'm surprised I've only found one, that being recently, Labia minor (Lesser Earwig). Took this in my garden under a plant pot. All attempts at getting a good photo of it in situ failed. When i moved it to more favorable location, it instantly flew off...so no photo...UPDATED, i tell a lie, i do have this poor quality photo of it, now attached.

Common Earwig
Male Common Earwig

Female Common Earwig with eggs

Visible hind wings seen here as light and dark coloured "lobes"

Lesne's Earwig
Male Lesne's found on the Island Bank shoreline of Llandegfedd Res

Male Lesne's found near the Rangers office Llandegfedd Res...no "lobes".

Lesser Earwig
Lesser Earwig from my garden
For some good online info on these three, with a good photo of them side by side for comparison. Have a look at, The Earwig species of Devon and Cornwall by Malcolm Lee. Its in a link at bottom of this post as a (DOC)

I'm by no means an expert on Earwigs, far from it. I do look for them regularly in my area and think i've become familiar enough to id them all in the field. Well, adults at least, not sure how confident i would be with juv's?

Here I've attempted/provided a quick key to (adults of) five of the Earwigs that's found in the UK, either I've seen myself or know of recent sightings via iSpot and WAB, leaving out Giant and Bone-house Earwig. Both scientific and common names have links to different info or photos. I'm not best at this sort of thing, so if you see it as a fail then please do enlighten me.

1.      Wings absent… Eubrellio annulips (Ring-legged earwig)

 Wings present…2

2.      Hind wings visible as small lobes projecting out beyond forewings…3

No visible lobes projecting beyond forewings…4

3.      Small overall length <7mm…Labia minor (Lesser earwig)

      Overall length 8mm>…Forficula auricularia (Common earwig)

4        Size 6-7 mm (not including pincers), base of male pincers straight and broad to approx half its length then strongly incurved…Forficula lesnei (Lesne’s earwig)                                                                              

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Aphodius conspurcatus

Aphodius conspurcatus found Today 11/01/2014

This little Beetle seems to be doing very well on Coed-y-moeth Comin, its regarded as a Notable B species, widespread but very local, (map). I've also taken it from, Grandin's Fields/Aberbargoed Grasslands, Mynydd Bedwellte and even my garden, though only in ones and twos. Judging by others experience, this seems to be the norm...more info here. However, its a different story on the Common, one small sample i did produced 40. They were found in higher numbers to that of Aphodius sphacelatus...a common dung beetle.

View of West facing slope of Comin Coed-y-moeth

A. conspurcatus is a Dung Beetle, so dung is usually the best place to start your search. On this particular common it's the Horse that plays the important roll in providing these Beetles with their homes, i've also taken it from Cow dung. Searching through dung can be a very productive method for finding Beetles. If you fancy a go, then this maybe of interest to you. Dung sampling

Meet the landlords...Photo taken last Winter.

PDF key to dung beetles and chafers.  Can be found in the link Volume 5 part 11.
Key to Beetles

Friday, 10 January 2014

In Ruins

Had a nose about an old cottage yesterday, it’s one of a number i search through locally. Always good places to look for those mini beasts, I mostly concentrate my search under the stone that’s lying about, leaving the standing walls alone…a scan over only here.

Some of yesterdays finds…

The smooth (common shiny) woodlouse - Oniscus asellus, one of the famous five. This one in the photo is of Oniscus asellus ssp. asellus, this form seems to be the one i encounter the most. I've found pure populations of Oniscus asellus ssp. occidentalis (shown here in the link)...(More info on these can be found by searching out "Intraspecific variation in the terrestrial Isopod Oniscus asellus by David T. Bilton"). Other woodlice were the Common Striped - Philoscia muscorum and Common Pygmy - Trichoniscus pusillus agg.

A few Myriapods were found, total of five identified. Several small Lithobius microps, they tend to curl up if you blow over them. Geophilus insculptus, Geophilus truncorum, Tachypodoiulus niger and lastly Nanogona polydemoides shown here in the photo.

Very few slugs, Arion flagellus and Arion hortensis were mostly noted. Arion hortensis in the photo..

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Aberbargoed Tip.

Lapwings have been missing as a nesting bird on here for a number of years, mostly down to the off road motorbikes that now use the top as a track. I wonder how much of a difference it would be, if any, to the ridiculous idea of re-landscaping (many tiers) this tip if they where still here?

I don’t now why they just don’t leave things alone. If they want to improve on the site, then just tidy it up. Stop the motorbikes, put in some foot paths, improve the culverts etc. Make it into a monument for all those miners that lost their lives in Welsh coal mines. These tips have a lot of history behind them…

A good few years back they wanted to push the tip over onto what’s now known as Aberbargoed Grasslands (locally as The Welfare, Enid’s and Mucky Woods), the Marsh Fritillary soon put a stop to that. Then I heard (not sure how true) they wanted to truck the lot away to another project some where in Cardiff. It’s been regarded as an eyesore by a number of councillors and developers, all wanting to make their stamp on this world. I say “Do one” leave it the well alone, it has become an important habitat for a large variety of wildlife and it compliments Aberbargoed Grasslands very well. Its by far from being a blot on the landscape...

Views from the top of the Tip

View down the valley looking over Aberbargoed Grasslands

View up the Valley toward the Brecon Beacons

View toward Bargoed , Gilfach etc, over looking the remnants of what used to be the largest man made tip in Europe...The Green tip

Some of the Habitats found on this very large colliery spoil heap.

South West to West facing side.

West to North West facing side

North facing side

On top of

South facing side

The last photo is of one of the drainage culverts for the tip, it is the divide between the tip and Aberbargoed Grasslands. A walk up here in the summer will produce a fair number of species. Some of my favorites, to name but a few, are Grayling in good numbers, Dingy Skipper in good numbers, Amara praetermissa in good numbers (best searched for at night) and the occasional A. equestris mixed in with A. praetermissa.

Amara equestris

Amara praetermissa