Sunday, 15 July 2012

A sunshine and showers long weekend in Powys, Wales....5th-8th July 2012

5th July. Bwlch Nant yr Arian
The first port of call in Powys was at Bwlch Nant yr Arian to see the Red Kites that are fed daily there. . Plenty of Siskins were great to see on and around the feeder by the Visitor Centre along with the usual woodland birds. A few Red Kites began to circle above as the time neared for the feeding. It was hard to estimate how many Kites came to feed, c100 easily! The day was warm but lacking sunshine which did not help with photographing the Kites. It was good to see them nevertheless, many were moulting and looking rather jaded! As we were leaving a leucistic Red kite appeared, I only managed a record image as it was fairly distant, it was noticeable that it had perched away from the other 'normal' Red Kites. I wonder if it get's harrassed by them? There are two walks around the reserve, one long and a shorter one around the lake. The shorter walk was chosen as time was getting on and the Kites were due to be fed. Goldcrest, Siskin, House Sparrow and Blackcap, Swifts and Swallows were amongst the birds seen on the walk. Whilst talking to a friend from the West Midlands Bob who had decided to spend a day over the border, a Moth landed on a leg of his camera tripod. I have identified it as being a Red-necked Footman, a new moth for me and a rather smart one too! Time to leave and the sun started shining, typical! Blwych Nant yr Arian is well worth a visit and one I would certainly visit again if staying in Powys. My thanks are extended to Ruth for suggesting a visit to this reserve.

6th July. RSPB Ynys Hir, Ynyslas Sand Dunes and Dylife Gorge.

Well, today was a day to forget weatherwise! The heavens opened and did not stop until around 8.00pm in the evening! A quick walk at RSPB Ynys-hir was a big mistake, even waterproof trousers could not cope with the torrential rain! A coach party of school children arrived at the reserve, such a pity they had such a dreadful rainy day for their visit. I did feel sorry for them but they did not seem to mind, I suppose at their age (9-10) they just enjoy the excitement of being away from school for the day! The RSPB volunteers said that it is difficult to go ahead with some of the planned outdoor reserve activities in such weather as we were having today. It was good to see the childrens enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoying themselves, budding wildlife watchers! After returning to the Guest House to change, dry off we headed for Ynyslas Sand Dunes.
 To say it was quiet is an understatement, 1 Black-headed Gull and 1 Herring Gull were on the sands by the parked cars, well 2 coaches (school children on a visit) and a couple of cars!

  RSPB Ynys Hir.

Ynslas Sand Dunes
On the evening we had a drive to Dylife Gorge, a former mining settlement.
The panoramic views on the drive up the mountain road were splendid until almost reaching the top...low clouds giving a spooky atmosphere so high up the mountain! A return visit was made the next evening (7th) and the area was transformed in the evening sunshine! Buzzard, Skylark, Linnet, Swallows and Pied Wagtail were the birds seen. A Welsh slate viewing platform on the road two miles west of Dylife is dedicated to the broadcaster and author Wynford Vaughan-Thomas. In the distance you can see Machynlleth and the huge peak of Cadair Idris - the edge of Snowdonia. There is a reservoir situated at the top of the mountain.
 I would like to have a daytime visit on any future trip to Powys.

7th July. RSPB Ynys Hir (again) and the Dyfi Osprey Project.

Today was a much better day, a little overcast but dry! With wellies once again at the ready it was RSPB Ynys Hir that was the destination. The feeders at the Visitor Centre were full to almost overflowing, Chaffinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Blue Tits and House Sparrow were in abundance on and around the feeders. A Great Spotted Woodpecker also put in a few appearances on the nut feeder, always a lovely bird to see! Several Grey Squirrels vied for the dropped seed under a feeder and I spotted one squirrel on a tree branch eyeing up a Chaffinch, surely not I thought, the squirrel cannot be that! A lot of the paths around the reserve were waterlogged, with the water in several places rising halfway or more up my wellies. Care had to be taken especially on the woodland walks as it was very muddy and slippery. Fortunately I managed to stay upright on the whole walk! Birds seen on and alongside the estuary were Common Snipe, L B B Gull, Cormorant, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Little Egret, and a flock of small waders possibly Knot. There were literally 100's of Canada Geese on the water, I have never seen so many in one place before. Walking around the reserve and from the hides birds seen were Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Sedge Warbler, Dunnock, Siskin, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Robin, Chiffchaff, Swift, Swallow, Magpie, Buzzard and a Red kite. I was told that the Red Kite is a youngster and is often seen over the marshes. A Blue-tailed damselfly was the only Odonata spotted here today.

A visit to the Dyfi Osprey Project was made later in the afternoon. The adult Ospreys were both perched by the nest on arrival and the chick was well down in the nest so not visible with bins and scope. I was told that the chick will fledge in a couple of weeks time, it is due to be ringed and possibly satellite tagged before it fledges. A pair of Water Buffalo fed in the marshes in front of the hide giving good views of these delightful and not often seen animals, one looked almost submerged in the marsh at one point. I was delighted to see Lesser Redpolls on and around the feeder that was in front of the Osprey viewing hide, I was told that they breed there. I had meant to ask if the Redpoll had reared any chicks but the subject changed to the Ospreys. Super birds when viewed closely as these were. Later a Reed Bunting was seen on the boardwalk preening in the sunshine, yes the sun did shine occasionally! The vegetation alongside the boardwalk was covering a lot of the edges of the boardwalk so not many Common Lizards were visible when the sun shone but I did manage to see 4 Lizards and take a photo of one of them before it scooted off under the boardwalk! Surprising only one damselfly was seen, this being a female Large red damselfly.

Despite the dreadful weather on Friday it was an enjoyable trip!


  1. A super report of your trip into Mid Wales Pam!
    So glad that you enjoyed seeing the Kites and surrounding had better visibility that we did there.....the birds dropped out of the mist when we visited! lol
    I was glad to hear that you managed a visit to Ynys Hir the day after the deluge.....those woodland walks were a bit dicy when we walked them in May so I can only imagine how they are after all the rain that's fallen since!
    Super pics....what a difference a day makes eh!

  2. What a lovely long weekend it sounded Pam. Wonderful scenery! Such a shame the weather wasn't kinder to you though. Red Kites are magnificent creatures. I have seen them at Watlington Hill in Oxfordshire, an unforgettable experience. I have read of the leucistic bird at Gigrin Farm, also in Wales. Whether it is the same one you saw I don't know but I have read that the Gigrin one is well tolerated by the other kites.

    How lovely to see Ospreys! I never have. You saw a lovely selection of birds over the weekend Pam and certainly made the most of your stay despite the glad you managed to remain upright! Muddy conditions can be treacherous!

    Sorry to ramble on but I was fascinated by your mention of the Water Buffalo and found they were introduced several years ago to prevent acres of countryside there reverting back to the wild.

    Thank you Pam a most interesting post, so sorry for the ramble!!

  3. Thanks Ruth!
    What a difference a day makes indeed, fickle weather! The woodland walks were shall we say challenging but lovely all the same!
    Thanks again for the heads up on Bwlch Nant yr Arian, a reserve I would also thoroughly recommend!

  4. Thanks Jan!
    It was a lovely weekend in a very scenic part of Wales.
    There has actually been two leucistic Kites at Gigrin, I have read that a photographer noticed in their images that one bird had wing tags and the other bird had no wing tags! Possibly the bird I saw could have been one of the two birds at Gigrin!
    The Water Buffalo are hardy animals, they need to be having to graze in a peat bog! It was strange seeing one of them knee deep in the peat bog!

    You certainly haven't rambled:-)

  5. Sounds like you had a good trip Pam despite the indifferent weather (Highlighted to great effect in some of your photos!)

    I love seeing Red Kites but en-masse like that...they are something else!

  6. Thanks Jason, it was a good trip!

    It will be great when/if we are spotting Red Kites regularly in the West Mids!

  7. You've got to love wales dont you?
    It sounds like a great trip, some very nice birds and great photos!
    Echoing comments already made, seeing Red Kites en mass is an awsome experiance, and tbh, i cant wait untill that happens around in the midlands

  8. Thanks Craig!

    Wales has some stunning scenery and wildlife, I defy anyone not to enjoy a trip to Wales!