Trip Report: Capel-y-ffyn, near Abergavenny (25th May 2012)

Eleven members assembled on a warm and breezy day in unbroken sunshine in the very scenic Vale of Ewyas. Early birds seen included Swallow, Jackdaw, Blackbird and Dunnock, while a Buzzard soared overhead. An unseen Green Woodpecker yaffled in the distance, and an elusive warbler divided opinions between Garden and Blackcap. As the walk turned uphill, Goldfinch and Carrion Crow were added to the list. Meadow Pipits were common in the valley, and soon the first Redstart was heard and then seen by some at the back of the group. As we walked on, Tree Pipits vied for attention with Meadow Pipits, and the first pairs of what were to be several Stonechats appeared. A Grey Heron lifted off from the small stream in the valley, and a Pied Wagtail paddled in it. Linnets and Skylarks were abundant towards the top of the valley, and Magpies and Chaffinches were added to the day’s list. At the top of the hill, the breeze became a gale and a Swift and a group of (presumed) Racing Pigeons were observed before we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the stunning views north of the Brecon Beacons. Moving on, the wind made birding difficult until we dropped over the edge of the hill. A Wheatear was spotted soon after and a Coal Tit was seen in the woods. A Raven was discovered on the ground on the edge of the woods, and a very distant Cuckoo was heard by keen ears. A definite Blackcap was seen well and a flurry of Wrens kept the count ticking over, before Blue Tit and Robin belatedly joined the list. A short rest stop provided the best views of Redstart of the day, and also brief views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A mystery yellow bird was seen to fly in to the canopy and become elusive, with opinions ranging from Siskin to Wood Warbler, before the walk returned to the bridge where the cars had been left. A final bird was added to the list after some of the group had departed, as a large raptor soaring in the distance revealed itself to be a Red Kite. The final tally of 32 shouldn’t disguise what was a superb scenic walk in perfect weather, and very many thanks to Geoff for leading.

Stuart Matthews