A trip up to Â RSPB Dinas, and a new CCW reserve for me yesterday,Â proved very productive with regards to the expected species, although the woods did seem a little quiet for this time of year than I remember from previous seasons. Iâ€™m wondering if this has anything to do with the lateness of spring in general?
Arrived the previous evening around 8.00pm to at least two calling cuckoos, one then flew through the church close to the RSPB reserve. Marsh tits were active along the broadwalk and the occasional pied flycatcher showed coming to one of the nest boxes. By 8.30pm the light had dropped considerably making photography nigh on impossible (itâ€™s never easy at the best of times here as the canopy spreads)
An early morning start meant still difficult conditions. A wren pierced the birdsong and belted out its song and a willow warbler began to preen. Pied flycatchers were difficult due to the low light and the foliage, which was beginning to to obscure the branches they were using on approach to the nest.
A couple of spotted flycatchers showed well around a nest in the hollow of a tree, returning every half an hour or so with beaks full of nesting material. Interestingly they would inspect each others haul before both entering the hollow. I stayed with them for a good couple of hours and as the light was better, being on the edge of the wood, I was able to work with them entering the nest site.
The bluebells, although concernedly late, were really putting on a spectacle that was worth going to see for its own sake.
The flight shots were taken using the pre focusing technique with the ISO set to 4000 on the D3s, allowing for shutter speeds of up to 1/5000th sec.
Allt Rhyd y Groes
Moving to a new spot for me, the CCWâ€™s reserve Allt Rhyd y Groes, in the afternoon proved equally productive. I was told of its whereabouts by a really helpful guy Mike, who looks after the maintenance requirements of both this reserve and Dinas on a freelance basis. I remember Dinas years ago (we used to take the kids there often) with a much higher profile. The small stone cottage used to be staffed and provide information on the kites and other woodland species as well as selling RSPB merchandise. Now thatâ€™s all gone and one warden looks after three reserves covering a large area – Yhys hir near Machynlleth, Dinas and Cwm Clydach in the south, towards Swansea.
Allt Ryd y Groes is a little gem and well with the mile or so walk to where the wooded area opens up on the slopes of the Afon Pysgotwr. The reserve is not signposted and has little parking but is a prime example of classic sessile oak woodland.
Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts
Pied flycatchers and redstarts showed well here, both around nests, which were located after an hour or so of watching. Youâ€™ve got to give it time to watch which branches are favourites for approaching the nest and then to work out the best vantage point to create the most favourable backgrounds whilst not disturbing the birds in any way.
Iâ€™ll try and get up again in a few weeks to see if the woods have livened up a little and to see if spring is late for everything, not just the carpet of bluebells!