Birds, landscape

Winter Watching in Wales

From the Cambrian Mountains looking across the Dyfi valley at the peaks of Snowdon peeping above the early morning mist — we get an early start to our winter bird watching with a brilliant bright day in January and a visit to Ynes Hir RSPB reserve on the estuary.

Still crisp –1/2 an hour later!

As the sun creeps under the mist — not much about but we are not complaining as we have already had a glimpse of a lesser spotted woodpecker and as we look out over the salt marshes with our backs to the woodland we still hear its drumming. There are the usual culprits by the river bank –a single little egret and a bunch of herring gull and scattered canada geese. But what have we here?

Peregrine Falcon looking for breakfast.

The beauty of nature watching is that there is always something new — even in mid-winter.

Another day the Hafren forest is quiet but the massive trees give an aura of magic as the light from some subtle thinning illuminates the mossy floor.

In the Hafren Forest, Mid-Wales there is the high pitched seeping of the tiny flitting goldcrests which is suddenly underscored by a lower pitched pipping — initially a long way off but growing ever closer, up in the canopy — could it be a flock of feeding crossbills?

Here they are — difficult to photograph against the winter light. Chattering to each other as they wrestle with the largest fir cones to extract the seeds with their tin-opener beaks. The male breasts glowing orangey/pink, while the females are green.

Walking back by the side of the river there is a dipper.

Driving down the Severn to Llanidloes to pick up our bread there is a bird feeder, overhanging the road, it is festooned with siskin, small green stripey birds, hanging like grapes.

Most recently we ventured up, out of the sheltered valley, onto the exposed hilltop, not far away but a different world.

Bwlch y garreg on a chilly day

It was bleak but beautiful up there overlooking the mountain tarns. There were fieldfare feeding on the close cropped pasture and teal, coot and goldeneye on the lake with 7 goosander, saw-bill fishing ducks. Hovering on the wind above was a huge buzzard, circled by a red kite. At a lower level a kestrel winged its way between two telegraph poles.

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