Trip reports

Ynys-hir - 28/04/13

Male redstart perched on branch
Redstart - RSPB images

Sunday, 28 April 2013

After an early start, our coach arrived at Newtown for a comfort stop at 9am. Even during a 10 minute stop we never stopped birding - swift and goosander were the first birds of the trip!

As we neared our ultimate destination, we began searching the skies for raptors and, sure enough, we spotted 3 red kites and several buzzards from the coach. Those of us lucky enough to be at the front of the coach were also rewarded with views of a kamikaze pied flycatcher which nearly ended up decorating the windscreen!

At this point I think it necessary to praise the skills of our coach driver who successfully navigated the bus down the extremely narrow lane to the reserve and back again without so much as a scratch to the paintwork! The driver and his mate did an excellent job.

As soon as we alighted from the coach it was "bins up" - there was a wood warbler singing in the tree right next to us. These delicate warblers have the most incredible song and their whole body shivers, seemingly just with the effort of it.

Into the main reserve we went, heading to the northern end. Along the path was a singing redstart and several pairs of pied flycatchers. Just before reaching the Marian Mawr hide we were serenaded by a tree pipit, appropriately enough, from the top of a tree. It sat there singing its heart out, giving everyone a good chance to get a look. A grasshopper warbler proved too elusive for us though, even though it was reeling away in the relatively short grass. Scopes were set up at the end of the path and we soon located the nest platform of the Dyfi ospreys. Unfortunately our view of the nest platform was obscured the big pole it's attached to but we could just about make out a bird on the nest. Soon after, its mate flew in to land on the nest and the other bird took off. We then saw this bird flying round the valley, eventually flying right above our heads.

From the Marian Mawr hide itself we saw oystercatcher, wheatear and a large flock of curlew. It was at this point that the weather first began to take a turn for the worse. We had seen a fair amount of sunshine up to that point but it clouded over and the wind picked up bringing showers with it. Therefore the walk out to the Saltings hide on the estuary was not particularly pleasant as there is no cover but once we'd settled ourselves into the hide it wasn't too bad. The most interesting birds spotted from here were 3 black-tailed godwits and 6 sandwich terns. The latter were displaying, showing off the shaggy crest on their heads and, well, doing what birds do at this time of year!

From there it was back up into the woods where we had further views of a wood warbler. Also seen were treecreeper, nuthatch and more pied flycatchers. We then headed off to the southern section of the reserve. A marshy field held a lone stonechat sitting on top of a bulrush while a red kite soared quite close overhead. Another field had scores of swallows and house martins swirling around it and a mistle thrush put in a brief appearance, landing on a telegraph wire before taking off again into the wind. A viewing screen overlooking a pond surrounded by reedbed was quite productive - reed & sedge warbler were both heard singing, we had good views of the former hopping around at the base of the reeds but the latter stuck to the centre of the reedbed out of the wind. One of our group spotted a water rail here while others found some lesser redpoll.

Heading back towards the visitor centre the woods seemed to have gone quiet with very little on show, the birds must have sensed what was coming as it then started to rain fairly persistently. The majority of the group retired to the veranda of the visitor centre to watch the feeders. A good number of siskin were feeding alongside a great spotted woodpecker, greenfinch, coal tit and chaffinch while a pair of pheasants patrolled the area underneath for any seed which was dropped.

The weather may not have been all we could have hoped for but all in all, everyone had an enjoyable day at this fantastic reserve. A total of 70 species were seen.