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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Return to the Pysgotwr (30.7.14)

Yesterday I accompanied Jamie Bevan, the NRW warden for Allt Rhyd y Groes NNR, to discuss management issues in the Cwm Pysgotwr section of that reserve. Less time was devoted to searching for diurnal moths, though some were seen.
In a flushed area, with some nice patches of bog asphodel, I spotted a caterpillar feeding on bellflower Campanula on a drier hummock. George Tordoff has kindly determined it as a broom moth (see below).

 Further up the valley, we ascended the steep slopes below Cribyn Du, as I wanted to show Jamie some oak fern Gymnocarpium robertianum that I`d previously noted on the crags. In the rank heather and bilberry, on the steep and tiring slopes, I would occasionally see a northern spinach and also flush some tortricids.

                                         Above: northern spinach.

                                         Above: is this Eupoecilia angustana?

I looked for some time for moths on the high, heathy slopes but found little; in the meantime, Jamie had unobtrusively descended to have a sneaky rest and a cup of coffee, leaving `yours truly` to carry on surveying!

Above: `spot the warden` (you`ll have to click on the picture, to enlarge):  `Mr Relaxation` enjoys a cup of coffee, leaving IKM to carry on looking for moths. Photo taken from half-way down the slope.

Carrying on upstream, we approached the gorge of the Pysgotwr, the start of which has been normally the termination of our walk (or rather, tough slog!). Large skippers, gatekeepers, a few graylings and a single peacock represented the butterflies.

              Above: large skipper (with a small skipper, spotted by George Tordoff, in the background).

Above: you`ve already played `spot the warden`, now you can try to `spot the grayling` (it`s in the approximate middle; click to enlarge). This one was on the Ceredigion side of the river.

We decided, although tired and pestered by swarms of flies, to try to go further up the gorge, choosing the easier Ceredigion side (the Carmarthenshire side is very steep and densely wooded). Our route up this `Welsh Khyber Pass` was not along the river`s edge but along the rock outcrops above.

                                        Above: the gorge - we`ll try to go further next time!

Below- not moths: ignore if you wish!....
Finally, back down in the woodland near Rhyd y Groes, I showed Jamie some intermediate enchanter`s nightshade Circaea x intermedia, the hybrid between our common and familiar enchanter`s nightshade C. lutetiana and the rare Alpine enchanter`s nightshade C. alpina. This intermediate hybrid is surprisingly frequent in the Cilycwm and Rhandirmwyn areas, even growing in dense patches along roadsides (it is a vigorous vegetative spreader). Its presence suggests the former presence of the alpine enchanter`s nightshade (it may even survive on a shady, damp, high crag).
The `Cilycwm-Rhandirmwyn hybrid` is less tall than the common species, grows in denser patches and has markedly crenulate (wavy) leaf edges. See photo below:


  1. Ian, I find your tales of daytime rambles enthralling, but to someone like me whose geography is not their strong point, the inclusion of a map to show exactly where you were would be of great benefit! More great views for the Welsh Tourist Board, too.

  2. Pretty sure your larva is Broom and not Red Sword-grass (it's quite speckly and the stripes are very yellow). Also, looks like you have Small Skippers in the background to your Large Skipper pic.

    It probably is Eupoecilia angustana but it looks odd!


  3. Thanks George. I had noticed the similarity to broom caterpillars, but (stupidly) dismissed them as I thought that they only were found on broom plants, but on checking (just now) it is said that they feed on `various herbaceous plants`, thanks for correcting once more. I`ll change the photo caption above, following your advice. Chris, the area visited lies mostly in SN75-48-.

  4. I did see the Grayling, eventually..along with all those ripe Bilberries! I'd be interested in picking a few, but we're up to our eyes in Blueberries here. It seems to be a bumper year for fruit generally.