Rhiw Natural History




Andrew Clarke


June 2007

Friday 1st June

This evening I walked down Porth Meudwy, Aberdaron in the hope of finding a few summer migrants (birds not tourists!). A Cuckoo (which have been very scarce this spring according to all the locals) was reported here this morning and Black Guillemots have been sighted offshore again. Presumably they are breeding nearby, which makes this one of the most southerly pairs in the UK.

The place was peaceful as ever and it’s a great place to unwind even if there are no birds around. I managed to see a few interesting species such as two Sedge Warbler, two Blackcap, three singing Yellowhammer and a juvenile Kestrel showed well near the end.

On the way back towards the village I found a squashed Adder on the road – the first I’ve seen (dead or alive) for a while in the area.


Saturday 2nd June

A fishing trip to Dinas Bach near Carreg Plas proved unproductive with the wind swirling and too many snags in the weed for my liking. Two Shelduck were lurking in a nearby cove, presumably breeding nearby.

Having abandoned the idea of catching supper I was walking back uphill when I glanced back and caught sight of a shape in the water. ‘It’ proved to be a pod of at least ten Bottle-nose Dolphins (including an adult and calf) which were heading very fast to the south west.

Talking later to local farmer John Jones it transpires that he saw a pod of seven in Porth Neigwl at around the same time, while the same evening my friend Rhys Jones enjoyed great views of a/the pod of seven apparently feeding close inshore off Aberdaron Bay.

Also, one of the local angling forums reported a number of "dolphins off Pwllheli at the weekend". With such multiple observations from a relatively small area it would be interesting to know just how many individuals/pods are involved.


Sunday 3rd June

Gwenllian called this morning with news of a ‘probable woodpecker’ in my top field. On heading out later I had fantastic views - possibly my best ever - of a female Green Woodpecker sat on a fencepost behind her house. Many thanks Gwenllian!

The village was pretty quiet bird wise, although my concentration increased when Rhys called from Aberdaron to say that he was watching a Red Kite heading north east over  the village. Despite running halfway up the hill (Penarfynydd) I could not relocate the bird. Maybe I should carry my telescope more often.


Monday 4th June

A young Little Owl interrupted my sleep last Thursday night and today it (or a sibling) called throughout the morning from the fields below Rhiwlas - a wheezing rasp like some poor asthmatic. At least they have bred again in the area.


Tuesday 5th June

Working outside I was distracted now and again by a large tawny brown butterfly which zoomed over the fields at high speed. Presumably it’s a Dark Green Fritillary.  I will have to grab my net and catch the beast to identify the species as this group can be a little difficult to distinguish and I’m no expert on these beautiful insects.


Thursday 7th June

Not much to report bird wise, apart from a flock of 10 Collared Doves heading NE this morning, but a total of nine Hares were seen in fields on the south side of the village.


Sunday 17th June

Today was hot (at last) with the sun breaking through in the morning but overcast later. June’s weather really has been poor so far and I took advantage of the forecast and had a stroll down towards Nant y Gadwen.

Sadly, the roadside verges have been trimmed recently. The contractors seem to do this earlier each year resulting in the general demise of the luxuriant floral displays. While I can understand the need to undertake the work it would make more sense to do this in late July when more of the flowers have set seed and the nesting birds have raised their young. The cloddiau on the peninsula almost without exception contain more interesting plants and associated wildlife then the fields they border which these days are predominantly pasture or rye grass mixes grown for silage/hay.

For a great selection of photographs of local plants (and other wildlife) try this website.

A fine Blackcap was singing at the top of Nant y Gadwen with a couple of Yellowhammers nearby. However, today the focus was more on the insects with the sun bringing out a nice selection of beasties. Butterflies included: Small Copper, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Heath, Large Skipper and a couple of distant fritillaries. A  Six-spot Burnet Moth was also noted.

A Grey Wagtail sang from the waterfall at Porth Ysgo while on the way up towards the farm some fine dragonflies caught my eye by the stream. They proved to be two male and one female Beautiful Demoiselles sunning themselves on the stones and bracken. Reaching the pond, a Moorhen and chick scurried away to the undergrowth and damselflies danced over the surface. These were too distant to identify but then a cracking male Broad-bodied Chaser whizzed past.

Walking home along the road another three Painted Ladies were seen and the usual Chough and Little Owls.


Monday 18th June

This evening’s after dinner walk was productive on the ‘fur front’, with a total of 14 Hares observed, mostly on the haylage/silage fields near Penarfynydd Farm.


Sunday 24th June

Ten Chough were over the end of Penarfynydd this afternoon.


Tuesday 26th June

Tawny Owls are reported to have bred at Felin Uchaf, Rhoshirwaun this year with regular sightings of Barn Owl also here.

Tony Jones reports two Porpoise – an adult and youngster - off Porth Llawenan this morning.


Wednesday 27th June

Today was dry – quite a shock – calm and sunny. I have never experienced cabin fever in the summer before but the last few weeks have seen the symptoms appear!

Seven Chough were over Clip y Gylfinhir, as well as the usual Kestrel and Buzzards. A total of 82 Herring’ and six Lesser Black-backed Gulls were loafing in the pasture above Porth Llawenan, mostly immature birds but including several adults. The Observatory staff over on Bardsey are reporting a very poor breeding season with an 80% decline in the breeding gull population. Maybe the weather has been a factor?

A family party of Stonechat by Mynydd Penarfynydd were fresh out of the nest – probably a second brood.


Friday 29th June

A flock of ten Chough headed over the village this afternoon.


Many thanks to Andrew for this section of Rhiw.com


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