Conwy Nature Reserve 07.06.16

Mainly overcast, warm and humid, sharp shower later

A large group of the team, plus a few friends, gathered at this very easy-to-find RSPB site – a first visit for some – and, after a short parley to agree a route to take in the numerous hides, set off for the Ty Gwylio (The Look Out) which gave views across the western lake. The incoming tide had not yet begun to move birds onto the reserve and at first they were not present in such large numbers as later in the day, so for the moment we had to content ourselves with the odd oystercatcher, canada geese, coots, mute swans,  shelduck and some rather washed-out looking tufted ducks. However, there were distant views of the heronry on the far side of the estuary, which seemed largely to have been taken over by little egrets now that their original occupants had fledged their young, a small number of starlings were seen in the distance and, all of a sudden, we became aware of a couple of hares that we staring out from the vegetation on the far side of the lake.

Pressing on along a broadwalk through the reed bed, the raucous song of reed warblers was heard, but sightings of these elusive birds were made only by a lucky few of the group. _MG_0017At the large Tal-y-fan hide we were entertained by the sight of a Great Crested Grebe feeding one of its young, distinctive with its black and white, almost zebra-like colouration up its neck. Egrets, herons, teal and oystercatchers were present, but a solitary, resting wader attracted attention, as we and one of the site volunteers sought to identify it. After much discussion, the consensus settled on common sandpiper, although a white-ringed eye continued to suggest that perhaps it just might have been a green sandpiper: if only it had stood up before we left!

Enroute to the Carneddau hide, we noted art works, woodland birds drawn in by some feeders, and flora, including a spectacular bee orchid _MG_0084which really lived up to its name, looking for all the world like a flower on which a bee had settled. From the hide itself we had good views of more water birds, including a solitary(!)  black-headed gull, and a trio of curlew did a fly past. However, with clouds beginning to build up, both to the east and west, we decided to take an early break for lunch back at the visitor centre.

After lunch we set off on the path along the estuary, where the sandbanks noted by some members of the group earlier in the day were now completely covered by water, and with a fine, but now misty view of the castle behind us. Along the track there was plenty of activity, both on the land-side, with sparrows flitting back and forth in the undergrowth and coming out on to the path to peck at grit, and on the water-side where a pied wagtail was spotted feeding its youngster. At the Benarth hide we had excellent views of large numbers of oystercatchers, all now chased off the estuary by the tide, as well of herons, both young and mature birds, and little egrets moving elegantly through the shallow water, their long plumes blowing in the breeze. Our attention was drawn away from paper or plastic bags (left by cormorants or shags? – see Christopher Isherwood Poems Past and Present, 1959) to a redshank hopping awkwardly along the shoreline. The awkwardness was eventually explained by the realisation that this unfortunate bird appeared to have lost one leg. Thankfully its disability didn’t appear to have affected it too much, as it seemed to be feeding well and without great difficulty. A threat, unseen by us, put all the oystercatchers and even several of the herons into the air, and a solitary snipe also flew across in front of the hide at the same moment.

At this point, the lake before us showed the unmistakable signs of the coming of rain, which soon became quite heavy. This caused the group to split into two, with the ‘wise’ reaching for their waterproofs and to set to continue their circumnavigation of the reserve, whilst the ‘others’ beat hasty retreats back towards the carpark. Pressing on along the Ganol trail, at one point through a meadow of orchids, we paused only at the Vardre viewpoint, noting large numbers of canada geese on the shore and a few ducks sheltering in the lee of the island in front of us, before we finally reached the visitor centre, more or less as the rain ceased.

Light refreshments in i siop goffi before the journey home completed, for many of the team, an excellent day out at a site well worth a return visit.

(All photos above JH)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Little Egret
  4. Grey Heron
  5. Mute Swan
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Shelduck
  9. Teal
  10. Mallard
  11. Pochard
  12. Tufted Duck
  13. Moorhen
  14. Coot
  15. Oystercatcher
  16. Lapwing
  17. Snipe
  18. Curlew
  19. Redshank
  20. Common Sandpiper
  21. Black-headed Gull
  22. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  23. Herring Gull
  24. Feral Dove
  25. Woodpigeon
  26. Swift
  27. Swallow
  28. House Martin
  29. Pied Wagtail
  30. Dunnock
  31. Robin
  32. Blackbird
  33. Song Thrush
  34. Reed Warbler
  35. Chiff Chaff (heard)
  36. Willow Warbler
  37. Great Tit
  38. Blue Tit
  39. Magpie
  40. Carrion Crow
  41. Starling
  42. House Sparrow
  43. Tree Sparrow
  44. Greenfinch
  45. Goldfinch
  46. Reed Bunting

Butterflies: Speckled Wood, Cinnabar Moth

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2 thoughts on “Conwy Nature Reserve 07.06.16

  1. Thanks Clive,

    A super & I don’t think I missed too much at the end! I’m curious as John sends a pic of a hoopoe bird but maybe he’s just being amusing or did I miss it?

    Jan

    Like

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