30 Days Wild | Day 25

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Our mainland home is a characterful little cottage nestled into the eastern hillside of Mynydd Rhiw, towards the tip of Pen Llyn. Overlooking Porth Neigwl from a picturesque vantage point, we’re pretty spoilt for views between our Bardsey house and mainland cottage! Tan Y Garn is also endowed with a super little garden of varying habitats, a nearby meadow, hedges brimming with sedges and flowers, and the nearby woodlands of Plas Yn Rhiw. I haven’t been around the surrounds in early summer before, so I was keen to make the most of our pre-holiday hiatus and see what wildlife could be found.

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a panoramic from Tan Y Garn
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the view over Hell’s Mouth, or Porth Neigwl in welsh

A nagging west-south-westerly wind and accompanying drizzle hung over the mountain for most of the morning, but this didn’t stop a diverse array of insects showing themselves. Best of all was a number of stunning Scarlet Tiger moths: I noted plenty of caterpillars feeding on the Green Alkanet in our garden back in April, so it was great to see the vivid adult moths flying about.

I stuck my heath moth trap out overnight, but despite the ideal ‘mothing’ conditions (new moon, low cloud cover and relatively mild temperatures), there were only a handful of white and buff ermines, a foxglove pug, poplar hawkmoth, large yellow underwings and a map-winged swift.

The mix of herbage overflowing from the hedgerows nearby was bustling with insects: from mating pairs of bloody-nosed beetles on cleavers, to the bizarre male scorpion flies; from the tiny nymphs of shieldbugs to the busy towerblocks of foxgloves welcoming common carder, early and garden bumblebees; a number of Labyrinth Spider webs laced the walls, with a wide net of webbing leading into a dark tunnel where the silhouette of the owner lay in wait for its victims.

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The scorpion fly is an odd-looking creature, the male possessing the scorpion-like appendage which it uses in courtship displays (and they can’t sting people…). They are primarily scavengers, sometimes even stealing prey from spider’s webs. Belonging to the order Mecoptera, the fossil history suggests early members may have been important in pollinating extinct species of gymnosperms during the cretaceous and Triassic periods.
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Labyrinth Spider
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The amazing pattern of water droplets decorating it’s web
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A froghopper dangerously investigating the entrance of the web
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the moist conditions meant a lot of the insects were sheltering out the wind and rain in various nooks and crannies, including in the centre of this greater perinwinkle

It was brilliant to hear a male Yellowhammer’s distinctive song ringing out from the hillside; to see displaying Greenfinches, yaffling Green Woodpeckers, and chirping House Martins overhead; a variety of fledgling were aplenty too, including Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins, Dunnocks, Mistle Thrushes and Linnets. All something of a contrast to the selection of species and sounds on offer over on Enlli. I wonder how Ireland will compare…

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