Sunday, January 14, 2007
Trains and the rains
As the more astute of you may have noticed, the weather so far this year has not been fantastic. I wasn't too sorry to be otherwise occupied for a few days recently, travelling by train to meet friends and sample interesting beer. The journeys also gave the opportunity for some naked eye birdwatching from the comfort of the trains. Saturday 6th saw me head to Chester to meet friends and attend a Beer Festival. Some Swans in a field near Hereford seemed to have yellow bills, but I couldn't be sure. On Thursday I travelled to Shrewsbury via Swansea, a stupid way to do it, but a lovely run through Llandovery, Llandridod Wells etc. Highlights were 4 Red Kites, Sparrowhawk, Buzzards (including one looking very much like a Rough-Legged, but probably wasn't.) Flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare were frequent. Beers included Hobsons Mild and Downham Quadhop. On Friday, whilst waiting for a train at Gilfach Fargoed, near Bargoed, a couple of Goldcrests, and a pair of Bullfinches were in a nearby hedge. The Archers Full House was magnificent! Saturday saw me travel to Porthmadog, to ride on the Festiniog Railway. The Dovey Estuary was alive with Curlew, Oystercatchers, Redshank, and a distant flock of smallish geese (Whitefronts?). Further north, we ran along the coast, and Cormorants and Shags were both seen. A Red Breasted Merganser was on an inlet near Tywyn. Near Fairbourne, the line climbs above a small cliff, and a Fulmar flew close in below eye level. As we crossed Barmouth Bridge, Common Scoters were seen both sides of the bridge, about 30 in all. At Porthmadog, the Festiniog train was hauled by Taliesin, as I hoped. We crossed the Cob, and flushed hundreds of Wigeon, and Teal from the marshes, and also a couple of Snipe. Spooners Bar on the station had excellent Corvedale Dark and Delicious and Cannon Royal Arrowhead. A hotel in town sold Purple Moose Gelert, and so a slightly wobbly correspondent made his way home.