April 29, 2006

Mountain birds

An early start today. Woke up at 4am to leave for our date with some lekking Black Grouse. Hard work, but ultimately worth it.

At 5.15 we met with a group of other would-be grouse watchers and walked up through the dark, dark forest to the 'purpose-built hide' [an old shipping container with slots cut in it and clad with tongue-and-groove], overlooking some dark, dark moorland. It was a bit foggy.

I was starting to wonder whether the grouse would remain invisible all morning when they finally emerged through the gloom.

The wind wasn't in the right direction for us to be able to hear their weird, weird sounds, but with the aid of a scope you could see them nicely. Lots of macho posturing, strutting, dancing, kung-fu fighting and jumping in the air above the grasses.

Wheatear displaying, Horseshoe Pass

After refuelling at the excellent Coed Llandegla cafe, we departed to the Horseshoe Pass. We'd been told the slate quarry was a good place to see Ring Ouzels. We failed on that count but found some very nice Wheatears, a spectacular fly-through Peregrine and singing Rock Pipits.

Pied Flycatcher hole-prospecting, Coed Hafod

Back in the Conwy valley, took a wander around Coed Hafod, an oakwood that I'd been to before. Didn't see anything on that occasion, but it's beautiful and looked promising.

Within a few minutes we were watching a male Pied Flycatcher serenading a female and trying to entice her into his love nest (see above). Then the first of several Wood Warblers started singing...

Ended the day in the bar of the Castle Hotel, sampling the wares of the Conwy Brewery (Bragdy Conwy). It's always important to sample local delicacies.

Species added today:
140. Black Grouse
141. Pied Flycatcher

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