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Clear blue skies, stiff  breeze and freezing cold, star birds and great company, long walk, Welsh upland scenery … it doesn’t get much better than yesterday’s Glamorgan Bird Club’s field trip to the forestry at Garwnant and Rhaslas pond, with a quick stop at the Llwyn-onn reservoir in between.

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It took us a while to leave the car park at the Forestry Centre as the birding got off to a cracking start with lots of Common crossbills coming in to feed on the cones of the tall conifers all around us.

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We headed out along one of the many walking trails, hoping for views of Willow tits. One person heard one but the bird didn’t reappear so we carried on a bit further to a high vantage point. From there we were rewarded with views of Kestrel, Buzzard and this magnificent Red kite.

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Retracing our steps, a couple of us who’d lingered behind heard the Willow tit calling, waved frantically to the birders ahead, and managed some good views of this increasingly uncommon little bird.

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We then walked a rectangular path, taking us out around more of the forest trails, seeing even more Crossbills and another couple of Willow tits, as well as many other species. After lunch back at the car park, we drove down to nearby Llwyn-onn dam for a quick scan for any interesting birds. The reservoir was looking gorgeous, with much more water than on our last visit.

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We’d hoped for a Water pipit … and there it was, though a very flighty bird that scarcely stayed still and kept flying off in various directions. I was pretty happy though as this was a lifer for me, and it was a year tick for several other birders.

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I really like how this photo of the Cormorant turned out. And there was a Common sandpiper just along the pipe from where it was perched.

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Then it was on for a quick check of Rhaslas pond before the light faded – sunset is around 4.15pm at the moment. It was bitterly cold up on the open moorland as you tell from how rugged up everyone was.

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Though there weren’t a huge number of birds on the pond, we did see several Goosanders, Wigeon, Tufted ducks and a solitary Goldeneye. It was a smashing end to an excellent day!

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Here’s my list of birds seen: Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Willow Tit, Goldcrest, Wren, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Water Pipit, Chaffinch, and Common Crossbill. And somehow I missed the Starling, Song Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare.