a million voices for nature
3 June 2001
After an uneventful 2 hour drive we arrived at Nant-yr-Arian, a Forestry Centre 8 miles from Aberystwyth. Other group members had arrived before us and had a telescope trained on a distant Red Kite, barely visible in the grey morning mist. Our attention was soon drawn to a number of virtually tame Siskins that completely ignored us as they fed on peanuts from the hanging feeder at the Visitor Centre.
Once underway on our 5 mile walk, we came to the viewpoint looking towards Aberystwyth along the Rheidol valley, catching sight of a further two Red Kites circling high above and a Buzzard way off in the distance. As we rested our aching necks a male Pied Flycatcher landed in front of us and worked its' way into the wood below.
As we watched it disappear from view, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were found systematically working their way up and around a tree trunk, presumably having a brood of hungry chicks nearby.
The walk proceeded along an exposed ridge with heathland to either side of the path and just the occasional tree providing ideal habitat for birds. This proved to be the most productive part of the walk with Tree Pipit, Stonechat, Whinchat, Meadow Pipit, Redstart and Cuckoo all seen within a short distance. As we descended from the ridge, a Raven flew across the valley giving its characteristic gutteral call.
Following lunch overlooking a beautiful undisturbed lake, we made our way back towards the Visitors Centre, pausing to find a Wood Warbler whose energetic and unmistakeable song gave away its position. Back at the car park 6 Red Kites were lazily circling the roadside lake; within 20 minutes there were between 20 and 30 of them swooping down collecting scraps of meat put out at the regular feeding time. These were the best views I have had of Red Kite - their 6 foot wingspan very apparent as they circled overhead within 30 feet of the ground feeding on the meat gripped in their talons.
An unforgettable end to a very satisfying field trip!
Mike Pittaway (Field Trips Organiser)
Other birds seen included:
Black Headed Gull
Pied Flycatcher (several males, no females)
Coot (one only, all day)
We also heard:
and we saw:
Butterfly: Green-veined White (many)
Caterpillar: Drinker moth
Dragonfly: Common Blue