Saturday, 5 April 2008

World tour of Wales, part III (Rhayader and Elan Valley)

Tuesday 1st April.

Bright and sunny today, but very windy. I've wanted to visit Gigrin Farm for a long time now, and today was the day. The farm doesn't open until the afternoon so I had a morning to kill. That time was spent at Gilfach Farm nature reserve.

It really is a beautiful spot, and a lovely walk on the nature trail as well. Jay and Sparrowhawk were in the woods along the River Marteg. Goldcrest and Willow Tit in an area of gorse. Red Kite, Buzzard, Raven and Kestrel overhead. Then heading back to the car, a Dipper was in the Marteg next to the Otter hide.

With still a little time to spare before Gigrin, I did a little reconnaissance work on the Elan valley reservoirs. To find the best viewpoints from the various car parks. I think the best one is between Caban Coch and Garreg Ddu. A rather odd find at Garreg Ddu were 3 drake Mandarins.

Time to get over to Gigrin. I arrived about an hour before feeding time. It is good to watch the build up of birds the nearer to feeding time. The crows wait patiently in the next field, Buzzards and Ravens wait in the trees, and the Red Kites just hang overhead in the air.

I counted 61 Kites before feeding time, but during feeding time there's no way you could count them. There could have been easily 200 Kites there.

I don't really have the equipment or the patience for wildlife photography, but I thought I'd give it a try here. Most photos of the Kites turned into either pictures of grass or sky. Or I'd zoomed in so much, the pictures were so blurred that even fellow blogger the blurred birder would struggle to make out what they are! Here are some of my bestest ones:

Unfortunately I didn't see the White Kite, but I wasn't disappointed at all. Gigrin has to be one of the great bird spectacles we have in this country.

Back in Rhayader in the evening for a couple of pints and some pub grub. One Red Kite flew over the centre of town. This reminded me of watching Black Kites flying over Delhi. However, that's where comparisons between Rhayader and Delhi most definitely end!

Wednesday 2nd April.

Nowhere near as windy, but a horrible drizzle around all morning. I just explored the Elan Valley reservoirs today, and hope that the rain will stop. Two Wheatears were around the steep slope next to Claerwen Reservoir car park. Along that slope there is a piece of rock, that through binoculars looks exactly like a Ring Ouzel. However, with the scope it was just a piece of rock, it really was uncanny though.

Onto the hide of Dol-y-Mnach Reservoir next, where the was a drake Goosander but not much else.

The drizzle didn't stop until I reached the Cymystwyth end of the mountain road towards Aberystwyth. When I realised it had stopped I then worked my way back towards the reservoirs, finding three more Wheatears, a Stonechat and a very bedraggled Buzzard along the mountain road back.

Plenty of Red Kites, Buzzard and Raven around the reservoirs. I had hoped there may be Goshawk around but no sign. Also Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron and Cormorant.

That was pretty much all I wanted to cover in my trip, so that's all folks. I ended up with a total of 103 bird species. At least I didn't end up on 99, then I really would have been kicking myself about the Black Grouse!

I also wanted to get back home on the Thursday, just to make sure my P45 had arrived. Which it has done, hurrah. I can start my new job on Monday now.

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