Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Caravans and Kites

Not having taken the touring caravan out this year despite the glorious weather Teresa and myself decided to spend the May Day Bank Holiday long weekend with my two sisters,brother-in-law,niece and her boyfriend at Talybont-On-Usk east of Brecon where we joined 60 or so other members of The Caravan and Camping Club at a South Wales DA meet at Gilestone Caravan Park.
I'd arranged to meet Dan and the J-J clan at Craig Carreg Gleisad on Saturday morning in search of Ring Ouzel and staying only 20mins away gave me the ideal opportunity.
The weather was glorious and as we walked up the path Willow Warblers and a Cuckoo were in full voice.
Sophie was very curious about the caravan and although it's got nothing to do with birding I've posted a photo to satisfy her curiosity.
She and the kids were great company and Lily my "Westie" hasn't had so much attention in a long time.
We settled down below the cliff and although we heard Ring Ouzel calling we just couldn't get on to one.
Dan had to return to the car for suncream and whilst he was away myself and Gethin got on to a nearby Winchat which was going to be a mega "grip off" until the young Twitchmeister gave the game away and his dad got good views.
A pair of Peregrines which probably breed on the cliff were much in evidence and very vocal so it came as no surprize that we were struggling to catch up with ROs.
We agreed that we would climb to the top of the ridge and circumnavigate the cliff in the hope of picking up an Ouzel further up and about halfway up during one of several "recovery" stops Dan picked up on a Red Kite which although distant gave good views.
The climb was torterous and I have to admit to being absolutely knackered by the time we got to the top where several Wheatears put in an appearance.
A much needed rest was enjoyed by all and the spectacular views from the top made the effort quite worthwhile.
Whilst we sat another Red Kite appeared this time much closer and good views were had by all.
We scanned the cliff from above for what seemed like ages until eagle-eyed Jenks spotted a Ring Ouzel on one of the trees,I quickly got on to the bird which was a splendid male and it perched for a minute or two allowing us all distant but excellent 'scope views before disappearing never to be relocated despite a good search.
Apologies for the crap pic,it is a Ring Ouzel (honest!) but the bird was "miles" away and it always seems that when you scan the cliff the sun is always in your face!!
We walked the ridge along the top of the cliff and before descending heard another RO call several times before getting a brief flight view as it disappeared from view into one of the gullies,it appeared much paler and myself and Dan shared the opinion that it was a female.
Descending was as hard work as the climb and upon getting to the bottom Lily almost drank the stream dry!!
After saying our goodbyes in the lay -by I departed to meet up with Teresa in Brecon to pick up some food and drink for that evening's barbeque whilst the J-J family moved on to the Mountain Centre for their picnic.
The weather was nowhere near as good on Sunday and my brother-in -law Mike was keen to fulfil an ambition of visiting Gigrin Farm near Rhyader to witness the spectacle of the Red Kites being fed.
I'd only visited on one previous occassion a few years ago with Teresa and so quite fancied the idea myself especialy as it would give me the opportunity of taking some hopefully spectacular photographs.
The novelty of Teresa's new sportscar hasn't worn off yet and she had brought it with us for the weekend and so with the top down and wrapped up well we headed for Rhyader up the A470.
We arrived an hour before the feeding time of 3.00pm which gave us ample time to eat our picnic whilst watching the Kites gather with Common Buzzards,Ravens and Carrion Crows.
We took our places in the hide as some of the Red Kites came in to perch in the trees at the end of the field.
Numbers mounted and about 50-60 Red Kites were in evidence when the meat trailer arrived behind the tractor.
It's a bit of a zoo but very spectacular all the same and the sight of so many Kites,Buzzards and corvids in the air at one time is pretty special.
I snapped away quite merrily although "dumping" loads of images as I went when completely missing a swooping Kite,trying to digi-scope a large fast moving raptor is not as easy as I thought it was going to be !!!
Much easier to photograph were the Common Buzzards which unlike the kites favour feeding on the ground and one was very obliging settling down only 50m or so directly in front of the hide.
Once the feeding frenzie had finished the birds started to disperse and it was time to leave heading back to our campsite with a meal at a local pub to look forward to in the evening.
Monday dawned damp and very blustery after heavy overnight rain but this cleared to brighten up although staying quite windy,myself and Teresa decided to visit a friend who has a static caravan at Llangorse lake where a quick scan of the lake and reeds gave some good views of some noisy Sedge Warblers.
After leaving Llangorse we thought we'd finish the day with a quick visit to Talybont Reservoir only 1.5 miles from our campsite and with Teresa looking quite the part in her 50s style headscarf and sunglasses a drive along the road at the side of the reservoir had me picking up the distinctive song of my first Wood Warbler of the year in the adjacent woods.
After a quick icecream at the parking area it was back to the campsite to hitch up and head for home.
P.S If Tim can enthuse about trains on our blogsite I think I can self indulge in sports cars for this once !!......


Tim Hall said...

Did you see the white Kite at Gigrin?

Jeff said...

I didn't and although I kept an eye out it didn't show on this occasion.

Wayne said...

Nice report. Stunning landscape and good birds too! I'll have to start adding photos of my bicycle collection, what with all the trains, caravans and cars creeping on here.