Wednesday, 12 June 2013

3 Day Weekend: Powys

Not quite such an early start for this as the Somerset trip, but as Dad and I trundled over the border into Wales, we were hoping the clouds would part and provide a bit of light. Pulling into the car park at Gilfach the farm looked a rather gloomy place, though our spirits were lifted upon seeing Steve and Ann lurking in the courtyard. They had been holidaying in the area for a few days, enjoying some glorious sunshine by all accounts. The local forecast claimed the cloud would be burned off by about 10am, so we set up for the redstarts and hoped.

An annoying one-eyed robin continued to chase the female off whenever she tried to come down for food, but even with that, she managed to appear long enough at times for pics. The male flicked his tail in the trees, dropping down to feed on the mealworms. Apparently their first nest had failed, but seemed to be trying again.

At the back of the courtyard another pair were nesting, and we wandered over to watch them, with Steve trying to keep the greedy great tits away from the food put out, by hand feeding them! They even landed on my camera at times to get fed.

A cuckoo calling nearby briefly distracted us to go look for it, but by the time we reached the area a pair of birders had seen it, the cuckoo had flown far down the valley. Nevermind. A yellowhammer called nearby too, kites and buzzards soared overhead, and at the bottom of the slope a family of mistle thrushes hopped about looking for grubs. The view was worth the detour alone.

Back to the courtyard for a few more shots of the redstarts, before we all fancied a change of scene. Steve had mentioned a desire to get photos of whinchats and I suggested we try a spot I found last summer in the Elan Valley itself. Aside from a few suicidal sheep along the way, we briefly stopped when I spotted a whinchat on a wire fence, but it flew off before we could get any cameras on it.

Moments later we were parking up at the location where I'd had success before, and within seconds of scanning the fences, I spotted a male whinchat! To say Steve was chuffed was an understatement, and he scuttled round for a closer view, grabbing shots as he went.

Once I'd got all my gear out, I followed. Gorgeous little birds.

By now the sun had finally burned away the clouds, and we were bathed in sunshine. Not wanting anything else of the day, we set about trying to second guess where the whinchat would go to next, and wait. Rarely worked, and we had to creep over, hoping it wouldn't fly off.

There seemed to be at least 2 pairs at the location, with the male we generally saw singing constantly. It turned out later, that there were more of them, including some fledglings, further up the hill from where we'd been watching.

Steve also seemed strangely drawn to a sheep which was watching us from the top of a hill, and even ventured across a bog to get closer, claiming he was trying for the whinchat which was nearby. The sheep seemed ever so disappointed when it again appeared over the horizon to find me stood below, and gave me a baaaaad stare. Steve asked me to take this shot of his woolly admirer, for a keepsake...

Apparently he's been after a whinchat photo for over 15 years, so to finally get some, was a real treat, and being the gent that he is, he treated Dad and me to a meal at the local pub in Rhayader. Wish we'd stayed over, as the food was fab and they were serving a very nice pint of Doom Bar.

As usual, both Steve and Ann had us in stitches over the meal, and it was a real drag to head back home again. But what a super day, in great company with some fine subjects too.


Steve Seal said...

Its a pleasure to be in the company of an excellent photographer , your blog and images are superb as always my friend.

Steve Seal said...
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