Wednesday, 9 April 2014

On top of the world

Had a two day trip to Wales to visit the Co-op and tell them how good their advertising was. Interesting timing as it coincided with them losing another member of the board but that's another story.
Anyway, had half an afternoon free so i decided to go into Wales to an area i'd not been before, gloriously called "World's End". It is actually and upland area of typical heather and moor that has both species of grouse and, if you get there at dawn, organised lek-watching. I wasn't there at dawn but it was a beautiful afternoon. After a drive out and back i located what was the "best" place to get out for a walk.
First thing was the sheer number of meadow pipits around. Virtually every small bush had one singing away or fighting with rival birds. With meadow pipits came my first good bird - a merlin hunting them. This tiny bird of prey is a classic upland species, dashing across the moors after their prey, which was just what this bird was doing.
Much tramping around finally got me one grouse species - the red one. Black grouse are also present but i want exactly at the right time of day. The one red grouse i did get was pretty wary and i never got close. Whilst stalking it though i did get my 3rd year-tick of the day, a willow warbler, or possibly two, singing from a small grove or trees.
Finally as i was heading back i got my 4th classic moorland bird, a smart ring-tailed hen harrier quartering a ridge line. again, not a close view but a great bird to see.
So, overall a good afternoon. A new area and one a bit closer than Scotland to get upland birds. Worth a visit another time but at dawn to get the black grouse lekking.