Derek the weatherman got the forecast absolutely right for our Glamorgan Bird Club trip yesterday: foggy and a bit mizzly until 10am, then the cloud lifted to leave clear blue skies and t-shirt weather – it almost felt like summer!
We twenty-two birding enthusiasts had headed north of Cardiff to the Brecon Beacons National Park – when the cloud lifted, we could see Pen-y-fan, at 2,907 feet (886m), Wales’s 10th highest mountain. The plan was to walk the lower slopes of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad National Nature Reserve, in the hope of seeing Ring Ouzels, Whinchats, Redstarts, Wheatears and possibly Pied Flycatcher, amongst other birds.
Because of the damp weather and low cloud, we began the day by exploring the woodland around the Youth Hostel across the road from the reserve and immediately had superb views of Pied flycatchers, and not only male birds but also a female who was making a start on nest building. A Tree pipit sitting high on bushes in the neighbouring fields was also a year tick for me.
After a spot of early lunch back at the cars, we climbed the slopes into the dramatic landscape of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, the southernmost glacial boulder field in Britain. Here we had Willow warblers singing all along the stream, and frequent views of Stonechats and Meadow pipits.
Some of the party went further up the track and were rewarded with views of distant Ring ouzels – I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, but it was great that others got on to them. Then, after regrouping back at the cars, some of us took a small detour on the way home for a quick visit to the Garwnant Forestry Centre, where we saw Grey wagtails and Dippers on the river and a Red kite and Sparrowhawk overhead. And we were very lucky that the resident Willow tit showed well for us near the Centre’s car parking area. It was another splendid day’s birding!
My species list for the day was: Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Peregrine, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Willow Tit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Wren, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Dipper, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Stonechat, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, and Siskin. And other birds seen (but not by me) were: Kestrel, Marsh Tit, Wheatear, Skylark, Swallow, Goldcrest, Ring Ouzel, and Linnet.