On my way to Coed y Parc early today, to survey woodpeckers, I saw this years first pied flycatcher. I don't think I have ever seen one here in March before and with the chiffchaff already here for a week maybe it's yet more evidence for climate change students (or phenologists as I think they are called).
The weather is kind and the resident woodland birds are starting to claim territories. Along with the bird song there are a lot of territorial scuffles breaking out and yes, eventually, the woodpeckers gave themselves away.
Of the three species you could expect only the great spot is widespread here, with the lesser spotted now increasingly difficult to find. The green woodpecker hasn't been re;iably seen on the Mawddach for a few years now, but this winter I have had two good reports. They are unmistakeable whether heard or seen and the only likely confusion is that they are often mistaken for a golden oriole.
Perhaps these birds were forced here by the extreme winter weather and may drift homewards. I hope they find enough ants to tempt them to stay and fill our valleys once again with their eccentric yaffling call.
The ghostly screech of a male barn owl, given on the darkest of nights is a memorable sound. This is a bird which often cannot survive a protracted cold spell so you can imagine my pleasure on hearing two calling simultaneously on a still foggy night at Coed Afon Gwynant recently.
This could mean two territories in the valley, which is interesting, as over the years their traditional nesting places; barns and outbuildings have been steadily converted. However, when needs must will use clefts in a rocky cliff or maybe an ivy covered tree.
I am reasonably sure where one pair will nest this year as there is still a remote barn in the valley that they have used in the past and, as the owner has no intention of selling up, they are safe for now.
It is good to use the word crepuscular now and then; although generally nocturnal and capable of catching prey by hearing alone the Barn owl has superb binocular vision and often hunts at dawn and dusk, when most people will encounter them as they pass, wraith-like, over marsh and fen.
After weeks of being rained off the volunteers and I made it to Coed Garth Gell to poison some more Rhododendron.
Todays work was particularly satisfying. The area we were working upon had been treated several years ago and the dead remains of Rhododendron bushes were everywhere. Growing through these skeletons were young heather and bilberry plants re-establishing theirselves after years of being shaded by these vile weeds. We were just finishing off the few Rhododendron plants that had persisted, although everywhere we looked small Rhododdendron seedlings were sprouting up, it will not be long until we have to come back again!
One of the rewards for spending time outside is the chance of seeing something unusual. Todays treat was a huge female goshawk circling over us while we had lunch; an absolutely beautiful bird! By the reservoir the water was full of frog spawn and mating toads, no wonder the heron was also in attendance!