We spent last Saturday at Llangorse Lake, a new location for us in the north of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is apparently the largest natural lake in South Wales covering some 327 acres, and was formed by retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age. At this point I would normally include a photograph of the lake itself to help set the scene but due to a slight oversight I forgot to take any! Instead I will get stuck into the wildlife which starts with a flock of at least thirty House Sparrows that were feeding on reeds near the entrance. The group was made up from a mixture of adult and juvenile birds, most of which were very tame. The young male below is almost fully grown but still retains a hint of the yellow gape at the base of its beak that would once have been used as a guide to its parents during feeding.

24782 - House Sparrow, Llangorse Lake

One of the House Sparrows stood out like no other in that it was so pale as to be almost white.

24780 - Leucistic House Sparrow, Llangorse Lake
24788 - Leucistic House Sparrow, Llangorse Lake

I believe that this individual is probably classed as leucistic, a condition caused by malfunctioning pigment cells within its feathers. Despite its colour, or lack of, it seemed to fit in just fine with its peers and was a nice find so early on in the day.

From the main centre of activity a path stretches through fields along the lakes western shore for a couple of miles. Much of the bird life was centred in the air where large flocks of Swallows were making the most of the perfect hunting conditions, mixed in with the occasional House Martin. Swifts were nowhere to be seen but the hirundine set was completed with a large colony of Sand Martins at the paths terminus. The lake itself was relatively quiet with the exception of 126 Mute Swans and a small flock of Canada Geese. The fields were a bit more productive with four White Wagtails and only the second Whinchat that I have ever seen outside of Scotland. Normally I have to travel to Mull to find this species so to see one so close to home was very nice indeed.

On the odd occasion that the sun managed to break through the clouds it was clear that the meadows which border the lake would have been alive with Butterflies a little earlier on in the season. Although they were past their best there were still several species on offer starting with my favourite, the Common Blue.

24784 - Common Blue, Llangorse Lake

I was also very happy to photograph my first “white” species of the year in the shape of a Green Veined White. Check out the detail in its eyes!

24783 - Green Veined White, Llangorse Lake

Sticking with the theme of unusual variants that this post began with, we also found a rarer form of the Meadow Brown that has two white spots in the black dot instead of just one.

24786 - Meadow Brown, Llangorse Lake

Apparently this is a not uncommon variation in this species but it certainly threw my identification skills which had one white spot as a key feature to look for.

Although this was our first visit to Llangorse Lake I have a feeling that it definitely wont be our last, especially now that we are getting into the season where waterfowl numbers should be starting to build up on areas of water such as this. The chance of something rare stopping off there before the year is out is a distinct possibility.


TexWisGirl · August 17, 2011 at 1:30 am

wow. that light-colored sparrow is beautiful! but i think all sparrows are lovely too. 🙂

holdingmoments · August 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

Great selection Adam, from what seems like a lovely place to visit.
The white sparrow was an unusual find.

Bob Bushell · August 17, 2011 at 9:16 am

Brilliant photos you have taken, and I will in future look out for the Meadow Brown with four eyes.

theconstantwalker · August 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Looks like a beautiful place to visit Adam.
Lovely images.

Adam Tilt · August 18, 2011 at 11:42 pm

TexWisGirl – I think I'd agree with you on that one.

Keith, Bob, Andrew – thank you.

Stewart M · August 22, 2011 at 8:42 am

Hi there – very interseting post – the pale sparrow was a good find. Used to drive over from Somerest to fish at the lake as a teenager! Hired a boat and off we went – can you still do that kind of thing!?

Cheers Stewart M – Australia

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