Summer Specials – 19 May 2010

The last meeting of the season took place at Lake Vyrnwy on the 19th May. Seven of us gathered in Sandbach, with two more joining at Mile End services at Oswestry. The journey took longer than expected, and we didn’t make it to Vyrnwy until after 1100.

Parking in the visitor centre car park, first suspect into the notebook was a Siskin on the feeders just outside the Coed y Capel hide. Male Great Spotted Woodpecker and Pheasant quickly followed, the feeders outside the visitor centre added Coal Tit, and a Goldcrest was heard. A few Swifts and Swallows were swirling about above the dam.

As the hour was already late, we confined ourselves to the Grwn-oer trail, waymarked in yellow, and set off after our recently-arrived migrant targets. We spent a little while looking into the B&B’s garden, in the hope of connecting with the reported Spotted Flycatcher, but no luck. We did add Goldfinch and Blue Tit to our list, and a couple of Stock Doves enlivened the scene. The trail led down the hill to the river, and from that point, there just one way to go – up! A fairly stiff ascent up steps led us into an area which had a number of nestboxes in place. A flash of black and white led us to our first Pied Flycatcher as it darted from perch to perch, and it wasn’t long before we’d seen a second. As we emerged onto a driveway, a bird singing at the top of a clump of pines caught the attention. Binocular views into poor light suggested it was a male Redstart, but it wasn’t until the scope was set up that we confirmed it. Although it moved from tree-top to tree-top, all members managed to get good telescope views.

A Nuthatch was soon added, and we came to a clear area with a gate just off the road. We had been hearing Wood Warblers for a little while, but they seemed distant. One started up in this area with its “spinning-coin” song although keeping out of sight. Eventually patience paid off and it started moving through the bushes at around 8 to 10ft off the ground (unusually low). Eventually all members got good views of the bright lemon throat and pure white undersides which distinguish Wood from Willow Warblers (and Chiffchaffs).

The path turned back uphill into a wooded area, and we heard Willow Warbler and heard and saw Chiffchaff. As we finally started our descent down a farm track, a Garden Warbler sang and dodged in front of us. Only glimpses were available and not all of us got on to the bird.

Eventually reaching the lower levels of the trail we set off for the Llechwedd Du picnic site for our lunch, where the sun came out and we were joined by numerous Chaffinches looking for hand-outs. Another Nuthatch searched one of the large picnic tables, and two Ravens glided down the hillside and across the lake. A Common Sandpiper also crossed the lake, its pulsating flap-and-glide flight action distinctive. A Blackcap sang from nearby fir trees, but did not afford us even a peek, although a Spotted Flycatcher was glimpsed briefly as it launched off a perch.

After lunch we made our way to the Lakeside hide, from where a Peregrine watch had been set up. Canada Geese, a pair of Great Crested Grebe and a female Goosander were seen on the lake before careful watching of the cliff nest site revealed the head of a female Peregrine sitting on the nest.

Onward to the Centenary Hide, where the walk in produced Pied Wagtail and a Treecreeper, before a single Cormorant was spotted near the hotel during the search for an open tea-shop. Success on the refreshment front was found at the craft centre near the Coed y Capel hide, at the third time of asking, before a late afternoon return to Cheshire. 41 species were seen, including the Vyrnwy summer specials. Did we miss one? Well, yes, Tree Pipit, but you always need an excuse to visit again!