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Old Sunday 3rd July 2005, 01:07   #1
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Short break in Wales

Having only ever done day trips before, my girlfried (Sue) and I decided a while ago to go to Wales. She always wanted to see Red Kites, so Wales seemed the best place. As our life lists were not much over 100, we expected to add maybe 10 to that, but revised it down to 5 - we're not very experienced!

Set off on Tuesday morning for a B&B near Gigrin Farm and arived at lunchtime. Just time to freahen up before going to Gigrin. Wow! The red kites were just wonderful. It was great to see buzzards at close range too, and all those rooks! Saw 30 different species in all (4 new to us were: Red Kite; Redstart; Rook; Raven). A good start.

After evening meal we went for a walk down by the river, but the thunder and rain cut that one short.

After breakfast the next day, we went over to Ynys-hir RSPB, not really knowing what to expect. As it turned out, it was one of our best and most enjoyable days out ever (only being doing this since December last year!) We planned our route around the reserve carefully, taking in all the hides and missing out the short-cuts. Unfortunately, we got a littlelost and ended up on one of the short-cuts. Best thing to happen to us as it turned out. Sue spotted a brown "lump" on the side of a large tree. Half-jokingly, i said it was an owl. It looked like the back of an owl. We walked back, so we could see round the side of the tree, and it WAS an owl, a Tawny. Fantastic. Managed to get a quick photo before it noticed us and flew off to another tree. We crept along the footpath, slowly and quietly, but it obviously saw us coming and flew off deeper into the trees. We decided not to follow, a couple of decent views was enough for us. We saw 64 species in all during the day (with a magnificent 8 new ones: Siskin; Skylark; Common Sandpiper; Little Egret; Tawny Owl; Spotted Flycatcher; Whinchat; Stonechat).

After the one hour+ drive back, and a meal, we were knackered. But we had heard there was a Peregrine just a couple of miles down the road at Elan Valley. So we went for a look, and found it relatively easily. Only stayed half an hour - 6 species (1 new being Peregrine).

Having to get back home by 3 the next day, we were originally going to pop back to Elan for a couple of hours, but tried a local reserve (Gilfach Nature Reserve) instead. Only 13 species and very wet legs! But well worth it. Some great views of treecreepers. Whilst we were watching them, i spotted a green woodpecker. Not a new one for me, but it was for Sue. Got a few decent photos of that one. Huh, she had caught up one on her life list (she is a few behing my because i went to Bempton last year!). I was, of course, happy for her as she had been looking for a Green for some time! Anyway, i got it back on the way back to the car - a nice yellowhammer sat on a large rock (she saw one a few months ago, which i missed).

All-in-all a thoroughly enjoyable 3 days away from it all. We returned home already planning future 3 or 4 day trips (Norfolk, Anglesey, Scotland?). Met some very friendly, helpful birders on our travels too. The highlight? Difficult really - all those Red Kites? The Green woodpeckers close up? No, had to be the Tawny Owl.

I'd certainly recommend Ynys-hir (64 species is our highest ever for one site).

Adding 14 to each of our life-lists was far more than we expected - that target of 150 by the end of the year might even be achievable!!!

The only disappointent for me was not seeing a Chough - but then, i thought they were everywhere in Wales. Found out they're not. Never mind - i can wait until next year.
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Old Sunday 3rd July 2005, 08:48   #2
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Sounds like you had a really good trip and saw some excellent birds. Red kite, peregrine, raven, tawny owl - they're all great birds to watch, esp. getting good views.

Good luck getting to 150 by the end of the year, if you find yourself coming to Norfolk feel free to PM for site info.
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Old Sunday 3rd July 2005, 08:54   #3

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Nice report and well done. I have lived in Wales for 11 years and still haven't seen a chough - I think they are more likely to be spotted on coastal cliffs? But maybe wrong there. Am extremely lucky that there are resident kites here, and are hunting overhead daily, it's still always a thrill to see one when they come over low though. Never seen a green woodpecker either. I may have to take a trip north I think!
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Old Sunday 3rd July 2005, 09:14   #4
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Wales is wonderful for birdwatching. I visit every year in May particularly to see Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers and Wood Warblers .... and of course Red Kites, although these stunning birds seem to be turning up anywhere now!

Choughs? .... go to South Stack RSPB reserve near Holyhead on Anglesey. They are guaranteed there and you can also see the seabird colony which includes a few Puffins.

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Old Sunday 3rd July 2005, 11:30   #5
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Originally Posted by rlchew
Choughs? .... go to South Stack RSPB reserve near Holyhead on Anglesey. They are guaranteed there and you can also see the seabird colony which includes a few Puffins.

Even better for Chough is Braich-y-Pwll, beyond Uwchmynydd on the very tip of the Llyn peninsula. Quite a long drive, but the only place I know where you will almost certainly see more Chough than you will humans.
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Old Tuesday 19th July 2005, 19:39   #6
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Very pleased to hear your report, and well done on the Kite pictures. I've had a few holidays in Wales in past and always enjoyed them. If you could get a weekend trip to Norfolk or even Suffolk you would certainly boost your year and life lists and hopefully add the your excellent set of photos. Titchwell, Cley and Minsmere are all excellent well known sites giving opportunities.

If you fancy a bit further a field look at some of the trip reports for Alicante. There is an ever growing list of very satisfied birdforum members who have had trips with Jules Sykes
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Old Wednesday 20th July 2005, 07:53   #7
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I'd recommend Pembrokeshire for choughs: Ramsey, St David's Head (saw two red-legged partridge there in May, probably escapees) or the sea cliffs at Castlemartin range (Stack Rocks, etc). Plus, theyre not far from Carmarthenshire. I've also seen red kites above Llandeilo and a pair over Carmarthen, again in May.


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