Trip reports

Field Trip to RSPB Cwm Clydach Nature Reserve

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

Sunday, 10 June 2018

It turned out to be a glorious day as we met at the RSPB Cwm Clydach car park.

This Nature Reserve is a broadleaved woodland on the outskirts of Swansea. It is a small narrow reserve which follows the fast flowing Lower Clydach River.

It is an ideal habitat for dipper and grey wagtail, although no dippers were seen on our visit.

The first birds that we spotted were goldcrest flitting amongst the trees on the edge of the car park by the river. As we carried on along the path through the lush green foliage, following the river upstream, a grey wagtail was spotted busily feeding amongst the rocks in the river. Also, wood pigeon, blackbird, house sparrow and robin were seen.

As we continued on, a male and female blackcap were seen disappearing into and re-emerging from a thicket to our left. The male entered the thicket with a full beak of bright green caterpillars to feed hungry young chicks in the well camouflaged nest. It then reappeared with the faecal sac of its young, thus keeping the unseen nest spick and span to help it from being discovered by predators.

Large parts of the river bank had suffered bad erosion from the winter floods, so that we had to be careful as we carried on our walk. At one part of the river we could walk down to the shale edge and, with careful observation, saw well camouflaged small trout darting in and out of the shadows cast on the water by the overhanging trees. A song thrush was bathing in the shallows further downstream.

Above our heads buzzards were circling on the warm air thermals while we noted a male bullfinch with its splendid pinkish-red breast in the dense undergrowth. We also noted a family of strikingly coloured chaffinch flying through the foliage as well as blue tit, great tit and wren.

On the other side of the river, a spotted flycatcher was catching insects in mid-air and returning to its perch whilst, high above, swifts and swallows hunted for insects on the wing. Great spotted woodpecker, chiffchaff and long-tailed tit were also noted. A family of five nuthatch were spotted flitting through the woodland as we returned to the car park.

In total twenty-seven bird species were noted by our group as well as orange tip and brimstone butterflies. It was very pleasurable to observe new wildlife appearing in our woodlands at this time of year.

Viv Jenkins