Sunday, 29 April 2012

Berwyn Mountains

I took a walk in the wild and very wet Berwyn Mountains during the week; you could have been forgiven for thinking it was January rather than heading towards May, what with heavy rain turning into hail then snow and a whiteout on the tops..... a bit testing it has to be said! Apart from the inclement weather conditions we had a great walk on hard open ground at times and the sun did appear on a number of occasions which in turn helped me find a good few decent sightings.

male Hen Harrier - Berwyn Mountains
Raptors were an obvious feature with a male Hen Harrier being the highlight; but 3 Red Kites, 2 Peregrines, 2 Common Buzzards were spotted too. I found a number of passerine migrants during the walk including a singing male Redstart, 2 Wheatears, 5 Rock Pipits, Tree Pipit, 5 Swallows, 7 Willow Warblers, 11 Chiff Chaffs, and the best of all a Ring Ouzel which flew past me during a hail/snow storm up on the tops.
Red Kite - Berwyn Mountains
Peregrine - Berwyn Mountains
The mountains and moors were alive with the sounds of the spring; with Curlews singing and displaying, calling Redshanks, Meadow Pipits with their parachuting song flights, a calling pair of Red Grouse, and Skylarks doing what they do best. Other highlights included a Dipper and at least 300 Palmate Newts in flooded hollows (by far the largest numbers of this species I have ever seen), and uncountable numbers of Toad tadpoles (in the 1000s)! With amphibian numbers like this it would be expected to find Grass Snakes and more likely Adders (due to the habitat) but alas no joy; probably because of the lashing rain!

female Palmate Newt - Berwyn Mountains
A number of interesting archaeological sites could be found on the walk including neolithic stone circles and burial mounds.


Andy B said...

Sounds like a great day out Danny in spite of the weather!

I went to Childwall Woods this morning,30th April,as I have a day off. I've been going birdwatching there since I was about twelve.

The day started well. My first Swift of the year flew over Dunbabin Road,Childwall as I was walking to the woods. This was followed by my first Swallow of the year feeding over the fields adjacent to the woods.

There was an abundance of Chiffchaffs,plus one Willow Warbler and a couple of Blackcaps. No sign of the usual Whitethroats on the scrubby fields yet. Plenty of the usual Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. There were a handful of Nuthatches calling and I saw one Treecreeper. No sign of any Woodpeckers. Usual Blue,Great and Long-Tailed Tits but saw no Coal Tits. Plenty of Song Thrushes in full song and Stock Doves high in the trees. I came across a quite inquisitive Jay that was quite happy to sit in a tree very close by and watch me. There was a Grey Heron flying over the fields as well,probably in between gardens. There was a Peacock butterfly in the woods too. Very nice!

Highlight though was a pair of Buzzards feeding on the fields. They would occasionally rest in the tall Beech trees overlooking the fields before hunting again. One bird dropped to the ground and came up with what looked like a rabbit! Fantastic views! They were there the whole time I was on the fields,around an hour.First time I've seen Buzzards there. I've seen the usual Sparrowhawks and Tawny Owls in the woods and Kestrels hunting over the fields. I've even seen a Short-Eared Owl back in the early 80s hunting over the fields at dusk! Whether the Buzzards were passing through or will hang around the area will be interesting to see.

Danny Foy said...

Hi Andy, Buzzards are increasing rapidly in the south of the city and i would hedge a bet that your birds are a local pair..... I already know of four pairs around the south of the city and i am sure there are more. Who would have thought it a few years back! When i was a kid i remember seeing Grey Partridge on Childwall Fields; not sure if u still find them there?

Andy B said...

I remember Grey Partridge on the fields as a kid too. I accidentally flushed them many a time. I haven't seen them since the 80's though.