Ten people turned up at Capel, having negotiated the long narrow road on a morning with some dark clouds, but after a few spots of rain we had glorious sunshine most of the time. Early arrivals spotted one Red Kite in addition to the first of many Buzzards. House Martins were whizzing round and a Nuthatch was calling as we set off up the road towards the pony trekking centre. We soon found Redstarts flitting across between the trees and a big bright orange fritillary butterfly, probably Silver-washed. Beyond the woods we heard several Blackcaps tinkling and Swallows were flying low over the fields, then a ‘wheet’ call in a tree above us was identified by sight as a Willow Warbler. The scenery up the valley was spectacular throughout the walk, while we had fantastic views of three Ravens interacting, then three Buzzards and many Crows wheeling in the air above the mountain. Stonechats were quite numerous (six plus) and gave super views perching on bush and bracken with food in their beaks, and we saw several Wheatears, including one juvenile on a fence, followed by good views of single birds then two on a rock on the escarpment later. Someone then spotted a very smart Whinchat, who performed well with close views. Meadow Pipits were everywhere, alerting us with their ‘clink’ call and showing their white outer tail feathers (one member was checking her id details). We also found a good number of Small Heath butterflies, very small but noticeably bright flying among the bracken. The stream Nant Bwch was below us all the way and there was a small waterfall at one point, but there were no Dippers and only one Grey Wagtail.
During lunch on a grassy patch beside the track a raptor flew up the valley and back, causing some panic as bins were not at the ready, and was finally pronounced to be a Hobby. We continued to the top of the escarpment near Lord Hereford’s Knob, where the 180 degree view looking north towards Hay on Wye is wonderful at any time and particularly on such a clear day. The group then split up, with most returning the same four kilometres down the valley, some directly to the cars and others of us meandering along enjoying more butterflies – Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Ringlet – and moths and plants including one patch of butterwort – no doubt Jean could supply a list of the others! Final bird list was 30 species, including 15 Linnets, and a Green and two Great spotted Woodpeckers and a Jay, which called from the trees. Many thanks to Richard Brown for leading us.