The volunteeers and I were busy removing young conifers from the woods today, in one area they were beginning to shade out the understorey so we caught them just in time. We were surprised not to see any woodcocks today as we spent hours wondering around the undergrowth in the type of habitat they usually like. The highlight of the day must have been when two of our volunteers saw a salmon jumping up the weir, it was well over two foot long. In this part of the wood the hazels, honeysuckle and brambles are particularly thick, a really wild, undesturbed part of the reserve, wonderful.
A trail check today, which was nice as the threatened rain didn't come and the woods were sheltered from the cold wind. Going around the reserve I saw bullfinches, lesser redpolls, long-tailed tits and a couple of buzzards. Despite searching I could see no wild goats, although I did come across one pile of droppings.
Near the reservoir the contractors have been busy felling invading conifers, the wood looks far more open now and from the top path, one can see the whole of Barmouth Bridge and the clock tower; its been many years since these were visiable from the view point.
Later at Coedydd Abergwynant I was checking the boundary when I flushed a woodcock, there seems to be far fewer around this year than there normally is. By the time I was heading back the light was fading which was a shame as I was really enjoying being about on the reserve.
Anyone who knows the Mawddach Valley well, is well accustomed to its wet weather. Although this is a burden that we all have to live with, it is also one of the things that makes the area special. In the deep ravines on our reserve, the constant flow of water and thick canopy of trees means that the air is always wet-ideal conditions for mosses and liverworts.
Hiden within the carpets of common species lurk some very rare and specialist species. These rarities make our reserve internationally important and a recent survey of Coedydd Abergwynant has highlighted how special the area is for these small green plants. Species such as Adelanthus decipiens or Radula voluta may not mean much to most naturalists, but to bryologists they are very exciting and show what a special place the Mawddach Valley is.
On the Mawddach we are lucky to have several species of dragonflies and damselflies that are regularly seen. With this in mind it seemed a good idea to have a dragonfly walk to showcase these spectacular insects. One thing that we could not predict was the weather, so as our visitors gathered so did the storm clouds. The grey skys and cool wind gave us little chance of seeing anything, but being a RSPB reserve there is always something to see.
Arthog bog looked wonderful with an array of colourful flowers: purple loosestrife, meadowsweet, valarian, water forget-me-not and lesser spearwort all were abundant on the bog. In one ditch there was a large stand of greater spearwort, a rare species in west Wales doing very well after we cleared out the ditch for it earlier in the winter. Spotted flycatcher, lesser redpoll and sedge warbler were all seen too.
As we got back to the car park it began to rain, although we had failed to see any dragonflies at all, it really didn't matter.
The Hawfinch is an enigmatic bird which, although our largest finch, can
elude birdwatchers for years.
The Mawddach valley has a healthy population but it is only been
recently realised how widespread they are here.
The key is to understand their behaviour, but most importantly, to learn listen
for them. Their call and song however is high pitched and not very loud and
they can be easily overlooked.
Curiously for such a retiring creature they will turn up at bird-tables. The
following pictures I took near an RSPB woodland at one lucky members lawn.