Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wales Weekend - day 2

We looked out of the window on Sunday morning, having completely lost faith in the weather forecast to decide what kind of day lay ahead. Answer: Grey. We'd decided to spend the day at the RSPB reserve at Lake Vyrnwy (http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lakevyrnwy/index.asp) so headed there after breakfast, we planned less walking so took both lenses. First up the 'brief' 3 mile blue trail, away from the lake, with the 100-400x. We were told to allow two hours as it's very hilly. Almost immediately we bumped into a group of birders on a day trip from Mansfield. They were watching this Redstart, sat proud in a tree and singing away:

Amazing colouration, with the red body, black face and white cap, quite a stunning bird. There were a few about so we got some pretty good views though the trees they were using were set back from the path. Around the walk we heard Wood Warblers but alas couldn't see any as they were deep in the woods. The walk does involve some pretty steep climbs and actually took 90 minutes to complete, including two brief showers. This is a view of the huge dam and the lake beyond:

We followed the advice of the very helpful RSPB staff in the shop and headed to the opposite end of the lake, this time seeking Pied Flycatchers and time for 600x + 1.4x. We did spot a Dipper flying to and fro from the bridge close to the Centenary hide, our second of the holiday. We walked on to the hide where we again met some of the Mansfield birders and sat ourselves down to wait and fingers crossed see our first Pied Flycatchers (by now we were calling them Flying Pie-catchers for some reason - cue conversations about the men of Wigan, home of the pie, throwing pies in the air to be caught by said birds!).

While we waited this male Bullfinch fed in a tangle of branches not far from the hide:

We don't normally spend much time in hides, preferring to walk about but today was different. Within five minutes we were watching a male and a female going in and out of a nest box. It wasn't long before a female Pied Flycatcher settled down close to the hide, in front of us:

She stayed long enough for me to get the focus spot on, very pleasing :) If you click on the picture you'll see the plumage on the chest more clearly, it looks really soft and downy and is flecked black. Whilst we were in the hide a number of showers passed over, as you can see from this shot:

I like this one as even with the poor light and the therefore slightly blurry shot you can see a little white patch just above the bill. Getting a photo of a male was proving much tougher. One sat and posed for ages but I just couldn't pick it with the lens, very frustrating. Luckily a group of three were prospecting one of the other nest boxes and one sat proud briefly:

I would have liked a better shot and had opportunities, but it wasn't to be. At one point a Dipper was dipping right in front of the hide, though mostly obscured by branches and tree trunks, again an ideal photo opportunity and again an opportunity missed, but it was great to see one so close and I confess I got a bit over-excited with all the birds around and trying to get the right snaps :)

We decided to walk from the hide up to the Eiddew Waterfalls, which meant going back through the car park to pick up the trail. Just through the gate at the rear of the car park, was this Grey Wagtail, perched on a rock on the wall, singing for a mate:

Another very pleasing photograph!

Here you can see the waterfalls at the end of the trail:

Again we heard Wood Warbler but we couldn't spot one. We were driving to park at the spot where the Mansfield group had their coach parked as they'd seen a Wood Warbler in the trees earlier. We parked up and they pointed to a specific spot where they'd seen one. Thank you to the birders of Mansfield! We stayed for around twenty minutes watching two males calling, jumping around, parachuting from branch to branch while signing, etc. Really enthralling to watch and our second new bird of the day!

Again the light wasn't great (excuses, excuses) so the distinctive colours are 'damped' but you can clearly see the yellow of the supercilium and the throat. Having really enjoyed the experience and with thunder getting closer we jumped in the car and took the road to Bala in the hope of seeing Grouse and maybe birds of prey. However the cloud was sat on the hills so we couldn't see very far, though frankly we got the impression there were few if any Grouse about in the area at all. From Bala it was back to the hotel for the evening.

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