Monday, May 07, 2007

Ouzels . . . the hard way

Last Saturday the Jenkins-Joneses met up with Jeff and Lily at the lay-by at that well known Ring Ouzel haunt in the Brecon Beacons. We walked up the path to the crag serenaded by several Willow Warblers. They seem to be everywhere this year. The weather was glorious as was the sight of Jeff out in his summer plumage. We settled down to scan for the Ouzels and we were encouraged to hear one or two calling somewhere up above us. While Mrs JJ and Gwenni fell asleep on a bed of springy whinberries in the warm sunshine, the three birders scanned the mountain above.
A Peregrine flew over, followed shortly by another and the Ouzels wisely fell silent. While we waited for them to start up again we enjoyed views of a singing male Whinchat. (Jeff'll have a better picture than this one). Half an hour later the Ouzels were still silent and somebody suggested walking up to the top of the crag to try and search for them from there!
We were all up for it and about 45 minutes later, after several breathers, we were up on the tops (at 682 metres to be precise). The views were breathtaking and well worth the effort to get up there. On the way we'd ticked off Raven, Buzzard, Kestrel, Red Kite (we were to enjoy another couple of sightings of the latter), Wheatear, Mipits and Skylarks.
With Mrs JJ and Gwenni settling down
again for a kip the boys went to the edge of the cliff with our bins and 'scopes. Within 5 minutes we'd found our Ring Ouzel - a male singing below us. We watched it for about five minutes before it disappeared from view. (Crap picture above!).
On the way down Jeff and I found another one, a female this time, but the views were very brief.
Going down was more difficult than going up and I managed to gracefully fall a*se over t*t. Jeff, being a 'Valley Boy', was as sure footed as a mountain goat. He even managed to take some photos of the female Whinchat we found on the way down.
We parted back at the lay-by. Jeff to go back for a shower and a slab of lager and the JJs to go on for a picnic at the Libanus Mountain Centre. It was a lovely day and if you've got the energy I'd thoroughly recommend the walk up to the top of the crag.


Jeff said...

That sure was a tough climb but ultimately well worth the effort for the views alone!!
The descent was even tougher and downright dangerous in parts,the kids had the right idea in sliding down the steep slope on the whimberries,how on earth Mrs J-J will have got their clothes clean will be a miracle.

Tim Hall said...

It is VERY steep. I went in September after rain, and was amazed not to fall over.

Wayne said...

I haven't been up the climb. Maybe soon, as its about time I caught up with whinchat again. Took the kids to the Forest of Dean on Saturday. We spent most of the time at Beechenhurst, but popped to Nagshead for an hour. Got good views of a male pied flycatcher and heard wood warbler and redstart but didn't see them.