Trip reports

The Welsh Picnic Party or Goshawk 1, Birders 0

The Welsh Picnic Party or Goshawk 1, Birders 0
Laura Bimson

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Who said the rain was in the North? A minibus load and 2 shared cars brought a band of eager birders to our destination of Lake Vyrnwy. Here we were told Goshawks frequented and if our luck was in, a good view would be had of these striking predators, once we were in position high up on a forestry track.
The forest track climbed steadily upwards from the car park towards a clearing overlooking the forest and valley. A slow climb for some, but plenty of time to admire the trees which were draped with lichens, so heavy they looked as if they were wearing bright green coats.
At our viewing site we were greeted by a eerie sight, low cloud mixed with the steam from the Bala Lakes narrow gauge steam trains, hung over the forest and valley. It was cold and drizzly, a touch inclement for an extended watch. We waited, and waited some more, hardly a bird sang never mind a peek, I guess it was just too cold and miserable even for the birds. Eventually a sign of life, Pruk, pruk! Two Ravens flew over head, one bird being chased from another's territory, swiftly joined by another pair as they entered their neighbours patch... off into the distance.
We hung on, but alas the the Welsh picnic party's luck was out. The Goshawk's stayed in their hiding place, and we had to be content with a few other singers popping their heads up briefly, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Chaffinch and a resplendent male Bullfinch perched at the top of a conifer.
After 3hrs our weary band of birders called it a day on the hillside and made our way down to the dam and the RSPB visitor centre. A lonely Cormorant sat on a Rock near the waters edge, and a female pheasant was flushed by the old village memorial site.
Meeting up with some of our MNA (Merseyside Naturalist Association) members, who had accompanied us on the trip, revealed they had been more fortunate and a couple had seen a Goshawk on another forest track. Sigh...better luck next time.
Across the dam and straight into the RSPB feeding station hide. What a place this is, close up views of avian diners. Feisty miniscule Siskins chasing Chaffinches and Nuthatches. Blue, Great and Coal tits flitting back and forth. 2 female Bramblings nervously foraged under in the undergrowth, giving fleeting views. A single Marsh Tit was seen by some, not all, as was a Great spotted woodpecker. Up to 6 female Pheasants were doing an excellent job hoovering up the seed that dropped from the feeders above.
Time for a quick comfort break, coffee and a teacake in the nearby café; Then a quick looksy around the sculpture park were we told Crossbills has been seen hanging about on the highest conifers.
It wasn't going to be our day, we dipped again. Homeward, a little disappointed, but we'll be back, hopefully on a sunnier day. Good company and plenty of laughs brightened our day.