Following on from a number of facebook, twitter and e-mail queries I thought I should write a small up-date on the blog concerning those birds that were on the BBC Springwatch web-cams. There is now little activity at the heronry with only occasional birds coming in to roost with lots of juvenile herons (and presumably the web-cam two) feeding on the pools, ditches and creeks of the reserve. A sneak look from the Domen las hide yesterday afternoon revealed that an oystercatcher was still sitting on eggs on the wall outside the hide. If the eggs do not hatch this week-end then we must assume that the eggs are infertile as they have been incubating for too long already. I will check again after the week-end and will report on any progress. The barn owl chicks are doing well too with 'BOB' having grown to the size of the other chicks so there is no chance of any sibling eating him or her. The weather has been good for barn owls with little rain or wind and there seems to be plenty of voles around so food supply should not be a problem. The buzzards are, unfortunately, too difficult to monitor as there is no way of looking into the nests. However, when they fledge they should be easily trackable with young buzzards very vocal in calling for food from the adults.
The woods are alive with young birds begging and calling for food from the adults and there are still pied flycatchers and redstarts here, though the urge to migrate should mean that they will slowly move off. A few curlew have started to appear on the estuary, presumably failed breeders who leave the hills and moors to find easier food on the mud and sand of the estuary. Numerous sand martins with young are feeding over the pool where the web-cam was situated; the two cygnets are growing fast and coot and moorhen young are starting to appear.
The BBC Springwatch series gave an excellent view of three weeks of the wildlife of the reserve but as the bird and other wildlife changes throughout the year Ynys-hir is an excellent place to visit at any season. My favourite time is winter with flocks of duck and geese reflecting the wildness of the reserve; a smattering of snow revealing otter tracks along ditches and the traces of a brown hare allowing a brief look back in time. Hen harriers glide slowly along rough grassland and, if I am lucky, I may see Bob one late winter afternoon hunting over the peat bog.
Two of our most endearing stars on springwatch were Mr and Mrs Oystercatcher, who are still siting patiently on their charges, exposed to the elements, on a drystone wall infront of Domen Las hide.
Quite how this species survives the attention of predators during the breeeding season is a mystery. They are chunky, black and white and have a penchant for nesting cospicuously, sometimes off the ground on an old stump, but rarely as high as this pair, atop a 3 metre drystone wall.
Wherever they choose, they can be inordinately fond of their choice, returning year on year. This pair have been nesting on top of this wall for at least six years and, as they can be very long lived, they may be with us for some time yet. Let us hope so.
Don't worry about the hatchlings journey to the waterside, wader chicks appear to be made of some sort of india rubber!
A massive 'Thank you' to everyone that participated in our Photography competition this year. It was lovely to see all your beautiful photos. Chris Packham, very kindly judged the photos for us.
The results are as follows:
Winner (over 18 category) - Liz Fleming-Williams
Liz only popped into the Visitor Centre briefly to help her friend purchase a pair of binoculars. They were sat eating an ice cream on the benches when the sun crept through the clouds, lighting up the hill. With the dramatic, brooding clouds behind and the foregorund framed by foxgloves she captured the moment beautifully. Chris Packham admired the lighting and composition.
Winner ( Uner 11's category) - Dominique Nylander - Foxgloves. Chris thought it was an interesting perspective looking right up into the flowers. It reminded him of children putting the flowers on their fingers.
The runners up were:
Over 18's - Cathy Taylor - Grasshopper warbler singing in a birch tree.
Under 11's - Griff Thomas - Pied flycatcher
Congratulations to the winners and runners up. Please continue to share your wonderful photos of Ynys-hir by uplaoding them to our gallery.