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Following on from yesterday’s blog about our Glamorgan Bird Club outing to Parc Cwm Darran, we also ventured a little further north to Rhaslas Pond. I presume the pond is artificial as it has a grassed-over dam running along the north side and concrete to the south. And, as it has a large black drainage tube running into it, I further presume that is, or was, a reservoir or drainage pond for the huge ugly blight on the nearby landscape that is the Dowlais opencast coal mine.

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Despite its industrial connections, the pond is very well frequented by both local and passage-migrating birds, and it provides a crucial breeding site for endangered birds like Lapwing and Curlew, amongst many others. As soon as we arrived, we saw birds – a friendly little Stonechat was dotting around in the long grass, a Pied wagtail was ‘chissicking’ merrily along the old roadway, and I saw my first-ever Fieldfares grazing on the grass nearby.

On the pond itself, there were lots of Wigeon, Tufted ducks, Mallards, Great crested grebes, my first-ever Goldeneyes, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, Goosander and a single Mute swan. We also saw Red kites flying overhead.

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Though this was another stunning location and the birds were sublime, there was a bitterly cold wind blowing so we didn’t linger too long. There are plans afoot to destroy this pond and the surrounding landscape to excavate another huge opencast mine. Let’s hope local authorities realise the madness of allowing such a mine and, rather than destroy the pond and surrounding land, recognise its environmental value and turn it into a local nature reserve for all to enjoy.

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