Trip reports

RSPB Macclesfield Weekend Away to Elan Valley

RSPB Macclesfield Weekend Away to Elan Valley

Monday, 6 May 2019

Thirty members made the journey from various towns in Cheshire across to the Elan Valley, Rhayader, Mid-Wales. Our home for the weekend was the Elan Valley Lodge, which provided comfortable accommodation, with excellent food and unlimited tea or coffee as well as an honesty bar! Unfortunately the glorious weather of the Easter weekend had turned wild and the birds were keeping their heads down.

After checking in on Friday evening we enjoyed our dinner where we all 'mucked in' to pass the plates from hatch to table. This was followed by a short introduction from Steve, the centre manager to orientate us to the facilities and introduce our guide Phil. We woke up on Saturday morning to strong winds and rain, so following a hearty breakfast we gathered in the conference room to hear about the origins of the four dams of the Elan Valley. The Victorian dams were constructed to supply Birmingham with water at the turn of the 20th century, which gave protection to this wonderful area, which is now owned by United Utilities and allows open access to all who visit. As lunchtime came the rain eased off and we set out to birdwatch along the river and woods around the Lodge. We soon found goosander flying over, pied flycatchers, stonechats and a single whinchat all very close to the ground. We suspect they were picking up insects washed down by the heavy rain. In the woods behind the Lodge wood warbler was heard and some walked up the steep path to see it.

We returned to the Lodge a little wet to dry out and eat our lunch before venturing out in some better weather to see at close quarters the dams where we added red kite, bullfinch, common redstart, willow warbler and common sandpiper to name a few to our list. Elan Valley Estate has recorded over one hundred and eighty species of birds since records were started back in the 1880's!

The weather on Sunday was far better, the wind had dropped and the rain stopped to give much better conditions for productive birdwatching. After breakfast and making our packed lunches we went to Radnorshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Gilfach. After parking one of our members reported hearing a cuckoo on the hillside so some of the group set off to find it and after twenty minutes following the call found the bird sitting in the bottom half of a tree 500m up the hill. After seeing the cuckoo we retraced our steps and followed the main Group alongside the river where tree pipits were singing and displaying as well as more usual blackbirds, wrens, robin, dunnock, willow warbler and chiffchaffs could be heard and seen on route to the Visitor Centre.

At this point some members headed for home while the rest of the Group took lunch before going back to the Elan Valley dams where they found wheatear, curlew and swallows to add to the weekend list.

In total 59 species were recorded in some difficult weather conditions. Our thanks go to Graham Palmer for organising the weekend and to the staff at the Elan Valley Lodge for making our stay so enjoyable. The birds recorded are listed below

1 Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
2 Greylag goose (Anser anser)
3 Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
4 Goosander (Mergus merganser)
5 Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
6 Wood pigeon (Columba palumbus)
7 Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
8 Curlew (Numenius arquata)
9 Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
10 Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)
11 Red kite (Milvus milvus)
12 Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
13 Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
14 Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
15 Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
16 Magpie (Pica pica)
17 Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
18 Carrion crow (Corvus corone)
19 Raven (Corvus corax)
20 Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
21 Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
22 Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
23 Sky lark (Alauda arvensis)
24 Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
25 Coal tit (Periparus ater)
26 Marsh tit (Poecile palustris)
27 Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
28 Great tit (Parus major)
29 Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
30 Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
31 Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
32 Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
33 Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
34 Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
35 Wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
36 Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
37 Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
38 Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
39 Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
40 Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
41 Pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
42 Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
43 Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
44 Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
45 Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
46 Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
47 Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)
48 Blackbird (Turdus merula)
49 Pied wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
50 Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)
51 Tree pipit (Anthus trivialis)
52 Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
53 Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
54 Lesser redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)
55 Common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
56 Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
57 Siskin (Spinus spinus)
58 Reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
59 House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Ian and Lydia Taylor
5th May 2019