Trip report - mid and north Wales

10th May 2009
Dates: 7th to 10th May 2009

Destination: mid and north Wales

Purpose of trip:

The purpose of my trip was my annual visit to the region to see bird species that are not found on a regular basis in Essex or East Anglia, particularly summer migrants.

Primary target areas:

The primary target areas for birdwatching were:

Elan valley

Ynys-hir RSPB reserve

Nant Ffrancon valley, Snowdonia

South Stack RSPB reserve, Anglesey

Conwy RSPB reserve

In addition, I visited Pennington Flash nature reserve near Wigan, Greater Manchester before going to the football match at Old Trafford and driving home.

Getting there and getting around:

I used my own car for the whole trip.

On the nights of 7th and 9th May, I stayed at Travelodges in Ludlow and Birch (Greater Manchester).

On the 8th May, I stayed at the wonderful Cae Gwyn Farm adjacent to the Coed y Brenin Forest.

Weather:

Usually my trips to mid and north Wales in mid May are characterised by warm and sunny weather.

This year there was a lot of cool and cloudy weather and heavy rain showers although the sun did put in an occasional appearance. However, the weather did not spoil what was an enjoyable and productive trip.

Highlights:

The following summarises the notable bird species seen on my trip, many of which were first records for 2009.

Travelling to Wales: 22 Red Kites between J2 and J7 M40 …. motorway birdwatching at its best!

Elan valley: Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sand Martin, Stonechat

Ponterwyd to Tal-y-Bont via Nant-y-Moch reservoir: Common Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Swallow

Criccieth: Gannet …. but surprisingly no other seabirds in the very strong onshore winds

Ynys-hir RSPB reserve: Pied Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Cuckoo, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Common Buzzard, Raven, Little Egret

Nant Ffrancon valley: Ring Ousel, Twite, Wheatear

South Stack RSPB reserve: Chough

Aber Ogwen: Whimbrel, Little Egret, Gannet, Sandwich Tern, Swift, Swallow, House Martin

Conwy RSPB reserve: Common Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Wheatear, Reed Warbler, Swallow, Swift

Pennington Flash nature reserve: Little Ringed Plover, Black-necked Grebe, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Bullfinch

Disappointments:

The main disappointment was the persistent heavy rain and strong winds on Anglesey which prevented me from visiting the major seabird colony at South Stack.

Although I did not see the Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills that breed on the cliffs at South Stack, I was fortunate to see 3 Choughs from the car.

By the time I had travelled east to the RSPB reserve at Conwy, there was brilliant sunshine!

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