19-22 April 2022 – Mid-Wales Leaders: Kate Cashmore and Clive Burton

Thirteen of us met at at Llangasty Church on the south side of Llangorse Lake, just east of Brecon. The lake is a large shallow natural lake, good for fish, plants and invertebrates and therefore birds, including Garganey, Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier. In the reed beds in front of the hide we had good views of a male Reed Bunting, and Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were all seen and heard. We then headed to our guesthouse at Llanerchindda Farm, Cynghordy, eleven miles north of Llandovery. We had a warm welcome from the proprietor, Martin and his family, and settled down to watch the well-used bird feeders on the tree canopy level terrace. Over our stay these were visited by many species including Great Spotted Woodpecker, many Chaffinches, Greenfinches, a bright Yellowhammer, and a Marsh Tit. Wednesday dawned sunny and warm, and we headed through to the nearby RSPB reserve at Dinas. In the boggy woodland we had Wood Warbler, Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit; in the stony river, Dipper and Grey Wagtails and a Cuckoo was heard calling, and in the oak woodland, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, mostly males, apparently setting up territories. The trees were still only beginning to come into leaf, allowing us good views. In the picnic area a Nuthatch was calling incessantly, and where seed had been put out on a log, several Siskins were feeding with Chaffinches. At Llyn Brianne, a reservoir further up the valley we had good views of Wheatear. Thursday was again warm and sunny and we headed 30 miles north to the Elan Valley. House Martins and Siskins were seen. On the recommendation of the local ranger, we followed one of the woodland trails up the hill to the top of the dam and then zig-zagging back down through damp oak woodland. More Pied Flycatchers were seen, male and female, the latter with nesting material. We also noted Goldcrest, Blackcap, and a Tree Pipit and heard the sad song of a Mistle Thrush. We then visited Gilfach Reserve, an old hill farm three miles north of Rhayader. We were able to train a scope on a raven’s nest with three young. Dipper and Grey Wagtail were seen on the river. One lucky couple saw an Osprey flying in the valley. On our way home, despite the biting wind, most of us walked round the ‘traeths’ or bogs of the National Nature Reserve south-west of the Brecon Beacons visitor centre, and spotted many birds in the heathland habitat, including Skylarks, Stonechats, Peregrine, Wheatears, and Meadow Pipits. Though we did not find any great rarities on the trip, we had good views of many species. The Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts were the stars, and the species the area is renowned for. We had 76 species in total. (Thanks to Kate and Clive for leading). Kate Cashmore