Yesterday being my Aunt's birthday, my mother and I went to visit her and indulge in some looking at local birds with her. As my mother (with whom I usually bird) is disabled, we were very glad of my Aunt's 4 wheel drive vehicle, which, with the permission of some local landowners, enabled her to get into the heart of the countryside, away from roads, for the first time in some years. Anyway, birding day as follows
Garden and journey from Barnsley to Llandrillo:
On arriving at my Aunt's, and giving birthday gifts, we loaded into the Landrover as she wished to check on her llamas, which are located on an organic farm of mixed hay meadows and grazing lands, over 1000ft above sea level. The fields are surrounded by forestry and hence are a 'woodland edge' habitat, and here, after waiting for 2 hours in the pouring rain we finally were able to locate tree pipits by song and behaviour and watched and listened for half an hour or so:
On the land my Aunt leases added:
Greater spotted woodpecker (in the trees at the edge of the field)
Redstart (family feeding young)
We then drove along a track (technically a public road, but so badly maintained that only 4 wheel drive vehicles can pass it) which begins by passing through hanging oak woodland, then through pastureland, then forestry and finally onto open moorland. We were hoping to see many species in this very varied set of habitats, but a ver strong wind and light driving rain on the moorland kept down the heads of the wheatears and whinchats we normally see there. In addition, we spent 1.5 hours in the wooded section, listening to Wood warblers and trying to see them, for no result but dozens of swollen midge bites (grrr). A highlight was a ring-tail Hen Harrier over the moorland, however. And a considerable surprise at this time of year came in the form of 2 adult Herring Gulls inland on the farm land, apparently interested in a pile of manure!
Added on this track:
Next a trip to the bridge over the river Dee near Llandderfel, gave us wonderful views of a Dipper, standing unconcernedly in the shallow water, preening and blinking its eyes, letting us get within 15 feet of it. Wonderful encounter with this bird!
A visit to another bridge over the Dee, noted for Spotted Flycatchers, produced long and close views of those birds too, plus a pair of Grey Wagtails, engaging in interesting feeding behaviour, hawking low over the water for insects!
Finally, spent a pleasant half an hour in a friend's garden watching Pied FLycatchers feedng their young.
Not a brilliant day in number of species, only 35 (though it did produce 3 for the year list), but what I really enjoyed was the number of really long and close views of species that are all too often only glimpsed flying away.