We took a trip north on Saturday to the wonderful RSPB reserve at Ynys-hir. It’s new found fame after featuring on the BBC’s Springwatch series was much in evidence with a tripling of staff in the shop (to three) and the highest visitor numbers that I have ever seen. I may have complained at the lack of space in the hides but in reality it’s a great indictment on the British public that a wet and windy day had managed to draw so many out into the great outdoors.
As if to reward the efforts of those hardy souls the birds put on a great show. The feeders at the entrance were engulfed with Chaffinches whilst Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and a pair of Nuthatches added to the spectacle. A visit from a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was the highlight for me although a Squirrel trying to outwit the Squirrel proof feeders and failing spectacularly ran it a close second.
Walking down to the Marian Mawr Hide we kept our eyes peeled and scanned through the treetops, but as with every visit over the last five years we failed to spot one of the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. I know that they are there as sightings are reported every so often but we have yet to find ourselves in the right place at the right time. We did however see a small group of Goldcrests as well as a passing Song Thrush. From the hide itself two Red Breasted Mergansers were swimming along the Dyfi on the incoming tide and seemed oblivious to the arrival of a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine didn’t seem to have hunting on its mind though and spent at least an hour just sat out on the grass. A recently arrived flock of over two hundred Barnacle Geese could be seen at distance out on the edge of the estuary and were another sure sign that autumn is definitely with us. I had also expected to find a collection of waders but apart from a few Curlew and Oystercatcher we were pretty much out of luck.
On our way over to the heronry we were surprised to find a young Newt in one of the shallow puddles that dominates the muddy path, and had to step a lot more carefully from then on as a result. The hide there was occupied by three couples who were relative newcomers to the hobby which made it all the more satisfying that I was able to get them onto a female Hen Harrier quartering the reeds on the opposite side of the river. This was my first individual of the autumn and it put on a prolonged display as it regularly dropped to the ground before reappearing to continue its hunt. Similarly enjoyable was the pair of Little Grebes who popped up in front of the hide just as the sun broke through the clouds. A Wheatear and a Treecreeper were also in the vicinity.
A stunning male Redstart was at the farm and showing well from its perch on a nearby fence, whilst a Cormorant swimming in one of the field drainage ditches was certainly unusual. Other woodland birds seen included Long Tailed Tit, more Treecreepers, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Out on the estuary seven Black Tailed Godwits and the usual Gull species were as far as things went.
By now it was late afternoon so we headed into Aberystwyth for a walk along the promenade. A couple of Mediterranean Gulls were roosting on Castle Rocks and a Rock Pipit was in the harbour along with several more Cormorants. An amusing photo opportunity arose (a scarce event for the day as you have probably gathered) when I came across a Herring Gull sat atop one of the ubiquitous “Owl Telescopes” that are a feature of so many UK seafronts. Clearly Gulls aren’t the best when it comes to reading signs.
Conditions throughout the day had led to a number of rainbows, none of which were better than the one that appeared over the town during our walk along the outer breakwater
Definitely a nice way to round off the day I’m sure you’ll agree.