Coach Trip To Ynys Hir – Sunday 11 May 2014

This was our final trip of the season and the first one with bad weather. Four and twenty hardy souls boarded the coach in heavy rain with black clouds in every direction under a heavy sky. Our expectations however, were not at all dampened and the usual chatter and bonhomie ensued during the journey. Approaching Oswestry we saw a perfect rainbow with one end of it finishing in a nearby field. So there was sunshine somewhere! Soon those on the left of the coach saw four Buzzards circling close by, whilst those on the right were treated to their first Red Kite of the day.

Ynys Hir is truly a wonderful reserve comprising of oak woodland, wet grassland and salt marshes. The scenery is absolutely stunning with fabulous views over the Dovey estuary.

We arrived at 10.30 in light rain and were given a warm welcome and short orientation talk by the warden. As is normal practice the group split and we set off via the visitor centre, stopping briefly to count nine Siskins on and around the feeders. The Siskins, which are resident for most of the year here, were adept at keeping the other birds especially the finches at bay. The Saltmarsh trail begins in the woods and we had only gone a few yards when we saw our first male Pied Flycatcher. He flitted around long enough to give most of us good views. The trail opened out suddenly into an undulating meadow and we observed a richness of House Martins accompanied by one lone Swallow, swooping low over our heads from all directions feeding on insects. Reaching Marian Mawr hide and out of the drizzle, we settled down to view the birds on and around the estuary. Canada Geese, Whimbrel, Oystercatchers, Mallard, Common Tern and Wheatear were quickly noted whilst a Blue Tit was busy fetching food for a hungry brood in a nearby nest box.

The sky was now brightening from the west over the Dovey estuary and by one o’clock the rain had ceased completely. We retraced our steps and picked up the markers for the Woodland trail and the Ynys-hir hide. The woods were full of bird song and several warblers were identified by their song but they proved elusive in the abundant foliage.
The hide was situated up a flight of steps, giving good views into the woods and over the wetlands. We watched a pair of Pied Flycatchers constantly in and out of a nest box feeding young. Being in an elevated position and looking down on to the nest box we all had unimpeded sightings. We then enjoyed a flurry of raptors, a Buzzard flying right to left close to, with a Red Kite flying left to right. The passerines kept their heads down.

We carried on through the woods and on to the Wetland trail, stopping briefly at the Covert Du hide. Here we added Lapwings, Shelduck, Swifts (the first of the year for me) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Then on to the furthest hide, Breakwater, where unfortunately there were no additions to the list. Ambling back we suddenly heard a Garden Warbler very close by. Despite searching the nearby shrubs and trees for a good ten minutes, no one could pin point it, and disappointed we moved on. Two determined members stayed behind and were well rewarded for their patience with good views of this skulking bird.

Jane and I walked the lower route back through the woods and were so pleased that we had. The bluebells were absolutely magnificent and carpeted the woods as far as the eye could see. At one point there were swathes of blue on either side of the footpath, and the slate chippings on the path in the same shade created an uninterrupted sea of colour.

By four o’clock most of the group were sitting at the picnic tables enjoying the weak sunshine and finishing off their food. We were then treated to another fly past of our third Red Kite of the day. A fitting finale for mid Wales.

Our warbler count was disappointingly low - only seven for the day. These were Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Sedge and Reed Warbler. Of our other summer visitors Common Redstart and Pied Flycatcher were seen. The total count for the day of 61 was the lowest of the year, but considering the wet weather during the morning we were satisfied.


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