Sunday, 10 June 2012
Its strange how when you are enjoying yourself time races by. And its not often you get the chance to spend all day doing just what you want to do. This leads to the adage, there is not enough hours in the day. Time fast running out and we have still to see Wood Warbler and maybe obtain a Dipper photo. . The weather this trip has been superb, I have never been to Wales without it raining so everything spot on. I started the day again with an early visit to the river where I watched the Dippers at the nest site, the female coming of to feed enticed by the male every 30 minutes or so, however still not enough light for a photo.. The Dippers lead us a merry dance, over the rest of our stay we tried various sites where they were known to be and although we saw them for me a good picture was not to be . We had another visit to Gigrin again superb, I don't think I could come to this area with out calling in. We saw the tour out with Steve Ashton having a sighting of a Otter which he was thrilled with and locating a pair of Wood Warbler to which we ran out of time for a photo. Ive cut this report a little short as the blogger seems to be playing up and I am struggling to upload my pictures. My thanks to all on the trip for their company, I enjoyed the banter and the moments that we were lucky enough to enjoy
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
After a hearty evening meal from the hotel we went out for a walk, Redstarts were spotted flitting in and out of the hedgerows and a pair of Bullfinch displaying vivid colours were also seen. A cuckoo could be heard high in the hills, the sound travelling for miles. The light held on well in fact it stayed light almost till 10. We did not see or hear any Whitethroat which I thought we may do perhaps the habitat was not quite what they like .Day 3 started the same, up and out early and down to the river, it was frustrating that there was not enough shutter speed for the Dippers which showed well, easily spotted bobbing up and down, in fact we were to spend a lot of time chasing Dippers. Most of the shots I managed were either to far or high ISO. The Goosanders were interesting to watch they were regular with their early morning flight pattern, I think they were roosting in the trees perhaps even nesting in them. I had heard Tawny Owls in the night so it was no surprise when we located a bird high in a tree its presence was exposed by lots of small birds. As I watched it hooted and moved to another tree with all its heckler's following it .After breakfast it was back to Gilfach again, we all agreed another go for the Redstart, this time we were earlier and well rewarded with three or four visits to the meal worms we provided. We had a few Crossbill fly over, fleeting views were had and we saw what could have been a Goshawk. In the afternoon we went to a second Red Kite feeding station it was high in the hills, a lake surrounded by fir trees. The Kites were fed on the bank of the lake allowing them at times to pick up the meat from the water. The name of the centre was Bwlch Nant Yr Arian it was a forestry commission setting on the road to Aberystwyth. here there were Siskin in great number along with other finches but no Redpoll. The Red Kite show started at 3 and was a real spectacle. I think we all watched more than we photographed as the harsh afternoon light and water glare was a problem. After the Kites we saw a pair of Redstart and watched lots of birds on the feederes by the tea bar.This site is well worth a visit but does not have the appeal for photographing the Kites that Gigrin does, nor were there many Buzzards and I only saw one Raven. After a long tiring day it was back to the hotel for a steak and ale pie and a few ciders, very nice.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Fresh from a good nights sleep I set off from the hotel at 5 o'clock for a walk along the river. it was a beautiful morning, I had noted in the grounds of the hotel Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart yesterday so there was an air of expectancy about today. You don't realise how much sound is polluted until you are in the country, here the only sound was plenty of bird song with Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler, Blackcap and a beautiful Song Thrush filling the still morning air. I headed along the path towards a footbridge where I could gain access to the river a flash of Redstart was next, followed by a fleeting view of a Wood Warbler which was high in a Tree. There was lots of mature trees for the Wood Warblers, this one was singing well, obviously a few weeks behind in breeding this year. A few of us had by now joined forces and as we walked along the river which was strewn with boulders and rocks typical of the location, we came a across a Goosander female, she took flight and rewarded us with a fly about calling as she did so. Goosanders were spotted several times through our stay I think four in total and a few distant chicks. We heard a male Pied Flycatcher which showed well it had a couple of females in tow, there were a few young Grey Wagtails and a tatty parent happily playing in the river very nice. Although the sky was cloudless it was still early when we encountered our first Dipper, the camera was out and the first of many blurred photos was taken. I located the nest sight easily and we watched the male call the female off it to come out and feed. These are moments you just want to enjoy and this we did, however as the sun climed slowly up in to the sky so did the midges and it was not long before we all made a hasty retreat scratching and squashing the little blighters. breakfast was at 8 so after 3 hours in the field was most welcome. After breakfast we made our first visit to Gllfach nature Reserve. A place time forgot it is just north of Rhayader situated in the beautiful marteg valley. As you drive along the narrow twisting road you drop steeply down to a little bridge over the river here there is a hide allowing stunning close views of Nuthatch, Pied Flycatcher Dippers, Blue and great Tits. The hide is called the otter hide. A steep climb up to the old farm house where we parked the car. The farm house dates back to the fifteenth century and is built around a wooden cruck framed medieval frame as a welsh longhouse, the farmer lived in one end the animals in the other.. The farm yard has feeders allowing close views of Redpolls Siskins Pied Flycatchers and one that I had only seen on fleeting occasions, a beautiful male Redstart. here we stayed and whiled several superb hours, time definitely well spent.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Day 1..A few of the local photographers ( loosely speaking ) from my local patch each year join forces and have an annual trip somewhere within the country for a few days, this year I was fortunate to be able to join them. So with Steve Ashton, Steve Ray, Mike Gould, Alan Ashdown and Pete Hemmings we set off early last Sunday with our destination being Rhayader, mid Wales. We had a faultless journey to which I must thank Steve Ashton who drove us there. We stayed at the Elan valley hotel which could not have been better situated for us, it was opposite the river Elan allowing us easy access to the river, and close to the Red Kite feeding station Gigrin farm. It was there we had our first action with the cameras on a bright day with blue skies. Feeding time for the kites is 3 o'clock each summer day, the kites are joined by Buzzards and most of the crow family for the feast. There are several hides, some are high and we pre booked the tower hide which costs £20 but well worth it. The Kites seem to appear from nowhere and although we all thought numbers were not as big as previous visits there were lots of birds and the action was fast and furious as the first wave off Kites started to circle and then plummet to the ground, this is a real spectacle as they jostle for position, often crashing in to each other as they grabbed at the meat. There were a few Buzzards trying to land and feed, they had to keep their heads down and a close eye on the kites at all times. As the food started to thin out the birds were easier to watch and calmer with the Buzzards occasionally settling in a tree close by.The feed lasted about 3 hours and afterwards it was back to the hotel for a welcome roast dinner.