Monday, 14 May 2012

Mid Wales, Ynys Hir - 5th May

For the Bank Holiday weekend we headed to Mid Wales, staying in Devil's Bridge just outside Aberyswyth.  This allowed us the opportunity to visit the RSPB reserves of Ynys Hir, and Dinas, and to also visit the Osprey project at Cors Dyfi, and to see some of the spectacular scenery around this beautiful area.  It was overcast as we set off along the motorway into Wales, we had some rain as well, but by the time we arrived at our hotel it was dry if a little grey.  The forecast for the weekend was dry, so we had our fingers crossed it would hold.

After settling in we ventured down to the waterfalls that the area at Devil's Bridge is famous for.  With the rain of the last few weeks there was plenty of water and the falls looked spectacular.  The falls become two streams that merge here into the river Rheidol.

The hotel is just visible at the top of the picture.

On Saturday the sun came out and we set off early in sunny blue skies to the RSPB reserve at Ynys Hir.  The reserve is the current home of BBC's Springwatch programme, and when we arrived it was easy to see the attraction.  The reserve covers oak woodland, estuary saltmarsh and freshwater lakes and bogs.  We were so lucky with the weather, and was able to enjoy all of the reserve throughout the day.

We walked the oak woodland first, these are Sessile Oaks that are only found on west Atlantic coasts, with the bluebells the woods were gorgeous, and we spent our time walking through them.  The trees seem to bend and inter weave, and they create a wonderful pattern as you look out across the hill.

The classic oak woodland species were present, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher, both would be in song, and the Pied Flycatchers were seen around the nest boxes.

Wood Warbler

Pied Flycatcher checking for insects

Pied Flycatcher

From the woodland we walked out along the boardwalk to cross the bog.  At a small group of willow trees we found a pair of Redstart.  Another typical bird of the area, the male is a really gorgeous bird, as it sits the red tail is constantly flicking, giving the bird its name.  As we watched the Redstart the Willow Warbler sang from on top of the willow tree.

Male Redstart
Willow Warbler
 The next area to explore was the estuary saltmarsh, it also afforded the opportunity for a cup of coffee.  The path to the hide was flooded and it was difficult to walk along.  We became the interest of a very defensive Canada Goose that seemed intent on ensuring we moved on quickly as it chased us from the other side of the fence.  A stunning male Wheatear was the highlight, and it posed very nicely on one of the fence posts.  While the hide was quiet, it did provide some lovely views across the Dyfi estuary.


After warming up we headed off back into the wetland.  The surrounding trees were full of Willow Warbler and Blackcap song.  A very obliging Skylark posed like the Wheatear, so after it rose slowly into the air above the field and burst into full song.  In the wooded areas the fallen and living trees were covered in Lichen and Moss creating a world of green.


It was still quite early and the air temperature was quite cool, so it was a surprise to find a green-veined white butterfly. It was using the bluebell more as a place to warm up rather than to feed.

In the boggy areas there were many fallen trees covered in moss, and trees were also growing from almost any location.  This particular Holly tree had taken a close affection for it's pine neighbour, as it appears to be hugging it!

After leaving the bog, and another cup of coffee, we walked towards the saltings and wetland to the north.  A big disappointment was the fact that we could not see the heronery, I was looking forward to this,as I had read about it.  It does seem strange that a site that is identified as good for seeing herons in their nests, then closes off access until they have fledged.  The walk around the reserve though was not without its drama.  We came across these two cock pheasants that were very intent on sorting things out between each other, so much so that we could stand as close as a metre from them as they whacked each other with their beaks.

The dissappointment that we couldn't even see the Herons was compensated with some lovely views of a pair of Redstarts on a fallen dead tree.  Their behaviour appeared to indicate that they may have a nest somewhere in the tree.

As we walked around the reserve, little pockets of shelter and trees would produce activity if you stopped to wait and look.  Here are some examples of what we saw.

Female Pied Flycatcher with a fly

Treecreeper at the nest
Willow Warbler
 The whole reserve looked splendid, as the sunlight picked out the emerging leaves and the distant moors, all around the trails bracken and ferns could be found uncurling as the new leaves emerge.  The stone slate walls are all topped with moss, and in places flowers grew from between the layers of slate.

Finally we decided to take the one trail we hadn't yet walked, and as we came out into the open from a wooded area we were greeted by a lone Red Kite quartering the field.  As it circled round it came ever closer and eventually drifted past just above our heads.  You could see it watching us as we stood beneath it, a wonderful experience.

We left Ynys Hir mid afternoon and headed to the Cors Dyfi reserve, the home of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust Osprey project.  Two Ospreys, Monty and Nora bred here last year for the first time, and raised three chicks which were subsequently electronically tagged and tracked on the travels to Western Africa.  Unfortunately one, Leri, is presumed to have died, but the other two Dulas and Einion, are still being tracked in Africa.  The adults have returned again this year and are currently incubating three eggs

The hide is away from the nest, and access as you can imagine is restricted.  You can walk around the small reserve, and you do see the ospreys as they move from the nest up the river to fish.  The main feature of the reserve is the HD TV screens that fill both the visitor centre and the hide with images of the Ospreys on the nest, and nearby on the perches.  It is a lovely way to get close to these beautiful birds, the yellow eye is stunning, and the talons look huge and fearsome.

If you want to find out more about the project then please go here:

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