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During my final week as a Mid Wales Conservation Intern it was the large high tides that produced excellent wildlife watching. An early start in the Breakwater Hide on the 20th produced good wader numbers on the Breakwater field including, 105+ Dunlin, 100+ Redshank, 16x Bar-tailed Godwit, 100+ Curlew, whilst a scan of the estuary produced 3x Goldeneye, 17x Red-breasted Merganser and 3x Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile at the other end of the reserve visitors reported excellent views of 24x Greenland White-Fronted Geese and 1x Bean Goose near the Saltings Hide as well as another 9x Bar-tailed Godwit.
The large tides inundated the saltmarsh as can be seen from this photo looking towards the Domen Las Hide.
Bird song has built up to dawn chorus level with the musical notes of Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit and Chaffinch filling the air on a daily basis. Drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker’s can also be regularly heard from the Visitor Centre.
The Robins delightful song fills the early morning air.
Other interesting sightings on the reserve this week included, 1x Gadwall (Visitor Centre Pools, 20th), 2x Little Grebe (Visitor Centre Pools, regular) and 1x Hen Harrier (female, Domen Las Hide, regular).
Look out for ear fungus on elder trees whilst walking the Green Trail.
Finally, I’d like to wish all Ynys-hir blog readers and visitors a fruitful and wildlife packed year.
Posted by Adam J
Of the five British owl species, the Barn Owl is one of the most nocturnal in habit, therefore a day flying Barn Owl observed hunting over Covert Coch (10th) was a real treat and a personal highlight for me on the reserve this week. Another sign of Barn Owl presence on the reserve are their pellets, which consist of the indigestible parts of meals. Pellets are frequently left in a number of the reserve’s hides and if you are lucky, whole rodent skulls can sometimes be found within one.
A blanket of cloud rolled over the hills during the week.
A temperature rise resulted in the return of wetland birds to the reserve’s freshwater pools, this was particularly apparent on the Breakwater field where good numbers of wildfowl were present on the 14th including, 330+ Wigeon, 107+ Teal, 6x Shoveler and 9x Shelduck.
The resident Little Egrets continue to show well, including this individual photographed by Keith Roberts from the Domen Las Hide.
Increasing day length has prompted a range of bird species to become more vocal including the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, taking time to learn the call and drumming sound could greatly increase your chances of connecting with this miniature woodpecker on the reserve. Another species which can be heard frequently is the Red Kite as birds begin to show signs of display with the upcoming breeding season getting ever closer.
Twenty eight Greenland White-fronted Geese and 1x Bean Goose continued to show regularly just off the reserve. The birds are viewable from a public footpath running parallel to the Afon Clettwr.
Other interesting sightings included, 320+ Dunlin (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 2x Red-breasted Merganser (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 1x Hen Harrier (female, saltmarsh, daily), 1x Peregrine Falcon (Domen Las Hide, 14th) and 1x Otter (Breakwater Hide, 10th).
I managed to take this record photo of the Hen Harrier as it flew in front of the Breakwater Hide on the 14th.
Finally, the reserve will experience some large high tides at the back end of next week, peaking at 5.9m on Saturday 21st (09:57am). A seat in one of the hides overlooking the estuary should guarantee some great wildlife watching two hours either side of high tide.
Temperatures plummeted as high pressure took charge this week, this led to all of the reserve’s waterbodies freezing over and the wetland birds moving to the estuary in search of open water. The highlight on the main reserve was a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull which roamed the saltmarsh between the Breakwater and Domen Las Hides in search of food.
This Glaucous Gull spent the week searching for food along the estuary (Many Thanks to Tom Kistruck for the photo).
The single Bean Goose and 25 Greenland White-fronted Geese took to grazing just off the reserve where they could be viewed from a public footpath that runs parallel to the Afon Clettwr. The Afon Clettwr also playing host to 2x Water Pipit and 6+ Rock Pipit.
Here are a couple of record photos of the Bean Goose which is the right hand bird in the first photo and central in the second.
It was another great week for raptors on the reserve with the wintering female Hen Harrier spotted from the Domen Las Hide (6th and 8th). A male Sparrowhawk flew past the Ynys Feurig Hide with Starling prey (7th). Kestrel could be seen daily foraging near the Ynys Feurig Hide.
This wing-tagged Red Kite from Wales showed well from the Domen Las Hide during the week.
Other interesting sightings included, 9x Greylag Geese (flew past Marian Mawr Hide, 7th), 2x Goosander (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Great Crested Grebe (Breakwater Hide, 4th), 17x Grey Plover (Breakwater Hide, 8th), 2x Knot (Breakwater Hide, 8th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily) and 11x Snipe (Ynys Feurig Hide, 8th).
Many thanks to Kieth Roberts who did well to capture this otter on camera from the Domen Las Hide.
In a week with large high tides fingers were crossed that a few goodies would turn up on the reserve. We weren’t left disappointed with 1x Bean Goose in amongst a flock of 25x Greenland White-fronted Geese (viewed from Poggles Bench, 24th), 2x Slavonian Grebe (Estuary, 22nd) and 1x Glaucous Gull (Breakwater and Domen Las Hide, 22nd), being great finds by visitors to the reserve.
The view from Poggles Bench on one of this weeks large high tides.
The January Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) was undertaken on the 23rd coinciding with a whopping 5.8m high tide. Highlights from the main reserve included, 21x Greenland White-fronted Geese, 124x Shelduck, 4x Gadwall, 122x Pintail, 24x Shoveler, 409x Wigeon, 266x Teal, 5x Goldeneye, 7x Red-Breasted Merganser, 8x Little Egret, 178x Oystercatcher, 2x Ringed Plover, 31x Dunlin, 117x Redshank, 1x Spotted Redshank, 16x Black-tailed Godwit and 313x Curlew.
An excellent number of raptor species were reported during the week including, Red Kite (small numbers spread across reserve, daily), 1x Hen Harrier (female, Domen Las Hide, 22nd), 1x Goshawk (Breakwater Hide, 22nd), Peregrine Falcon (saltmarsh, regular) and 1x Merlin (Ynys Edwin, occasional).
Other interesting sightings included, 2x Great Crested Grebe (Estuary, 24th) and 1x Woodcock (flew over Visitor Centre, 21st).
This Kingfisher was photographed by Keith Roberts from the Domen Las Hide on the 19th.
A calm frosty start to the 18th provided the perfect opportunity to head out onto the reserve and do a bit of wildlife watching. On arrival at the Visitor Centre a Water Rail skidded across the frozen pools below. A Woodcock rose up from a small woodland pool on the lower Green Trail. Further along four Mistle Thrush were feeding on the short turf around the Ynys Edwin Pool with one bird later singing high up in the trees. A single Red Kite perched up to take in some early morning rays near Ynys Edwin. The Breakwater field produced a Taverner’s Goose seen feeding alongside Canada Geese, the bird an escapee which has frequented the reserve for a few years. In total 63 bird species were recorded, not bad given that the stroll coincided with a low tide.
Here is a record photo of the Taverner's Goose (left bird) alongside a Canada Goose (right bird) note the smaller size and darker plumage.
The woodland trails and their leafless canopies can feel devoid of wildlife at this time year however with a bit of strategy a woodland ramble at Ynys-hir could prove very productive. Choose a calm sunny day and take your time, making regular stops in order to listen for sounds of life. That’s the exact strategy I employed on the Green Trail during the week where a stand of larch on the lower trail provided views of foraging Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, their presence given away via a steady flow of husks from the canopy. A seeping call allowed me to locate a small Redwing flock feeding on ivy berries around the Ynys-hir Hide. Whilst eyes to the tree canopy in search of movement provided views of numerous Great, Blue and Coal Tit with the occasional Goldcrest and Treecreeper thrown in for good measure.
Keep a lookout for wing-tagged Red Kites like this one photographed by Keith Roberts.
The Visitor Centre feeding station has been a hive of activity with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Siskin all regulars. Talking of feeding the birds, are you aware that the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend is nearly upon us. Check out this link in order to find out more information on one of the UK’s biggest citizen science surveys.
Other interesting sightings this week included, 5x Gadwall (Visitor Centre Pools, regular), c.160 Teal (Ynys Edwin Pool, daily), 6+ Goldeneye (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Great Northern Diver (Breakwater Hide, occasional), 2x Grey Plover (Breakwater Hide, 18th), 8x Bar-tailed Godwit (saltmarsh, 18th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily) and 2x Stonechat (Covert Coch, daily).
Great views of Redshank can be had from the Domen Las Hide at present (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Finally, just a quick heads up that the Dovey Estuary will experience some high tides next week, peaking at 5.8m on Friday 23rd (10:14 AM). In terms of wildlife this will result in most of the saltmarsh becoming inundated with sea water pushing wintering birds up and over the railway line and onto the reserve’s wet grassland and pools. A seat in the Ynys Feurig and Saltings Hide should provide great viewing two hours before and after high tide.
Hello and Happy New Year to you all!
I’ll begin with an update on “JNA” a drake Teal with a lime green nasal saddle. The bird sighted on the Ynys Edwin pool back in December was ringed in 2012 on the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux, France. Over 160 Teal remain on the Ynys Edwin pool however there was no sign of JNA this week. Other species at Ynys Edwin included, 4x Mute Swan, 7x Shoveler, 1x Gadwall, 1x Little Egret, 1x Kestrel and 1x Stonechat.
Triggered by the increase in day length a handful of bird species have started to train there vocal chords for the upcoming breeding season with Robin, Mistle Thrush, Wren, Great Tit and even a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker heard emitting a few notes during the week.
Another sign that spring is around the corner are the early blooms of hazel. Hazel is monoecious meaning that both the male and female flowers are found on the same tree. Here you can see the small red female flower and the yellow male catkins.
With large high tides throughout the week the Breakwater field proved productive with 4x Shelduck (Ynys Feurig Hide, regular), 159x Teal (Ynys Feurig Hide, 10th), 1350+ Lapwing (Ynys Feurig Hide, 11th), 83x Dunlin (Ynys Feurig Hide, 9th), 7+ Redshank (Ynys Feurig Hide, 9th), 1x Peregrine Falcon (Ynys Feurig Hide, 11th), 1x Kestrel (Ynys Feurig Hide, 11th) and 1x Sparrowhawk (Breakwater Hide, 11th) of note.
A male Bullfinch has been showing incredibly well in front of the Domen Las Hide (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Other interesting sightings included, 1x Pink-footed Goose (saltmarsh, regular), 12+ Greylag Geese (saltmarsh, regular), 11x Goldeneye (4 male 7 female, Domen Las Hide, 10th), 2x Goosander (Domen Las Hide, 10th), 3x Red-Breasted Merganser (Breakwater Hide, 10th), 2x Little Grebe (Marian Mawr Hide, daily), 1x Red Kite (saltmarsh, daily), 1x Hen Harrier (female, Covert Du Hide, 9th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Spotted Redshank (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 6x Black-tailed Godwit (Domen Las Hide, 11th), 4x Bar-tailed Godwit (saltmarsh, 11th), 10+ Long-tailed Tit (Domen Las Hide, 10th) and 1x Brambling (Visitor Centre feeders, 7th).
Up to six Black-tailed Godwit have been feeding on the estuary viewable from the Domen Las Hide (Many Thanks to John Davis for the photo).
With thousands of wetland birds now wintering on the Dyfi estuary there is a true wildlife spectacle to be witnessed on a stroll around the reserve. A large number of birds utilise the Breakwater field for feeding and roosting where great viewing can be had from the Ynys Feurig Hide. Totals from this hide during the week included, 5+ Shelduck, 11+ Shoveler, 193x Wigeon (20th), 4x Pintail (18th), 5x Gadwall (17th), 383x Teal (20th), 400+ Lapwing, 18x Dunlin (18th) and the juvenile Chilean Flamingo which extended its stay for another week.
A small number of Black-tailed Godwit are currently wintering on the estuary where they can be seen from both the Ynys Feuirg and Domen Las Hides (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Careful scanning of over 150 Teal on the Ynys Edwin pool on the 20th didn’t lead to the rediscovery of the drake Green-winged Teal as hoped however I did find a drake Teal with a light green nasal saddle. The plastic saddle which fits around the bill was inscribed centrally with a ‘J’ and had the letters ‘NA’ hand written on both sides. Early research suggests that this bird has come from a French ringing scheme and of course I’ll keep you posted as and when the details are confirmed.
The sight of hundreds of Oystercatcher feeding on the estuary provides another spectacle on the reserve (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Other interesting sightings this week included, 15x Greylag Geese (saltmarsh, regular), 7x Shoveler (Ynys Edwin, 20th), 5x Goldeneye (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Little Grebe (Ynys Feurig Hide, 20th), 1x Kestrel (Ynys Edwin, daily), 4x Black-tailed Godwit (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Greenshank (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Green Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Barn Owl (Wetland Trail Boardwalk, 19th), Redwing (small numbers spread across the reserve) and 3+ Siskin (Visitor Centre feeders, daily).
Up to five Goldeneye can be seen regularly from the Domen Las Hide (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Finally, in what will be my final sightings instalment for 2014 I’d like to wish everyone an enjoyable festive period.
After nearly a month’s absence, the return of 26 Greenland White-Fronted Geese to the reserve was a real highlight this week. The flock sighted on the saltings from Poggles bench (Wetland Trail, 13th) showed well in the winter sunshine. However, where they have been feeding over the past four weeks remains a mystery.
The most unusual sighting of the week has to go to a Chilean Flamingo! The juvenile first seen from the Ynys Feurig Hide on the 12th looked slightly out of place in amongst the Lapwing and Teal. The bird, which has most likely escaped from a collection, must have found the reserve to its liking however as it was still present and feeding in front of the Ynys Feurig hide earlier today.
A Chilean Flamingo brought a touch of the exotic to the Breakwater Field this week.
Notable totals from the December WeBS Count undertaken on the 9th included, 13x Greylag Geese, 340x Barnacle Geese, 41x Shelduck, 1x Cape Shelduck, 105x Mallard, 5x Gadwall, 20x Pintail, 16x Shoveler, 398x Teal, 422x Wigeon, 9x Red-Breasted Merganser, 406x Lapwing, 139x Oystercatcher, 8x Bar-tailed Godwit, and 57x Dunlin.
541 Canada Geese and 422 Wigeon were recorded on the reserve during this months WeBS Count (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Other interesting sightings this week included, 1x Pink-footed Goose (daily, Marian Mawr field), 5x Goldeneye (Domen Las Hide, regular), 10x Red Kite (daily), 1x Green Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Greenshank (track down to Domen Las Hide, regular), 25+ Meadow Pipit (Ynys Edwin, 13th) and 2x Stonechat (Marian Mawr Hide, regular).
Cormorants can be seen regularly from the Domen Las Hide where they are particularly good at catching flat fish (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
Finally catching a glimpse of an Ynys-hir otter has to my personal highlight on the reserve this week. The otter, viewed from both the Domen Las and Marian Mawr Hides, was busy foraging on the estuary and successfully caught atleast one big flat fish whilst I was watching, excellent stuff!
The Domen Las Hide proved to be a productive spot during the week with a single Bittern being particularly noteworthy on the 7th. The hide also produced sightings of a Hen Harrier (ringtail, 7th), Red Kite, 1x Peregrine Falcon, 150+ Barnacle Geese (keep a look out for colour ringed birds), 150+ Wigeon, 5x Goldeneye, 6+ Goosander, 5+ Little Grebe, Black-tailed Godwit, 2x Bar-tailed Godwit (7th), 1x Common Gull (7th) and 1x Kingfisher.
The Domen Las Hide is providing excellent views of Goosander at present. (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).
A couple of frosty days increased the level of foraging activity at the Visitor Centre feeders where superb views of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and finches could be had.
The early morning mist lifting from the raised bog.
Other interesting sightings this week included, 9x Gadwall (Marian Mawr Hide, Ynys Feurig Hide and Visitor Centre Pools, regular), 245x Teal (Ynys Edwin Pool, daily), 1x Great Northern Diver (Saltings Hide, high tide, check around the white boat surrounded by green buoys), 1x Snipe (Covert Du Hide, in the newly cut area), 2x Stonechat (track to Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Chiffchaff (near Ynys Feurig Hide) and c.40 Reed Bunting (Wetland Trail Boardwalk, regular).
Gorse flower, with its coconut aroma, can be found throughout the year. The Gorse around the Ynys Feurig Hide is looking particularly good at the moment.
Grid reference: SN6896 (+2km)
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