Sunday, 8 January 2017

Dawn on a Welsh hillside

It was 7:30am, pitch black, foggy and drizzling, and we were parked on the side of a Welsh hillside -  probably. To be honest we weren't even sure that we were in the right place, because all we could see was the road, the fog and a terrible blackness all  around us. The dreadful series of events which had brought us to this place kept running through my mind - the 5am alarm call, the hurried breakfast, the burnt toast. A car had pulled up outside and silently I had loaded my most precious posessions into the boot, not daring to make a noise for fear of waking the neighbours from their slumbers. Then the long drive began. I drifted in and out of sleep and dreamt, or at least I thought I dreamt, that an inhuman voice was giving us directions which would invitably lead us to a dreadful conclusion. Suddenly with a start I realised that it was not a dream. We had arrived.....

For a while there was nothing, just blackness and the gentle patter of drizzle on the windscreen. 8:00am had come and gone, and in the now half light I could just about make out the outline of the hillside to our right. Suddenly I was aware of a mysterious black shape on the hillside. Was it a boulder? Or was it something else? Then there was another, and another, and now there could be no doubting that these shapes were living creatures because they were moving! Tentatively I put the window down. The drizzle wet my arm and I heard a hissing to my right followed by another in front, and somewhere in the distance a voice cried out "go back, go back, go back!", but it was too late. The coooing had begun......

It may not have been the visually the best black grouse leck I have ever been to, but it was certainly the eeriest and most atmospheric, and at least we had the place to ourselves. Not ideal weather for viewing but the air was still and full of their calls, and there must have been at least 25 males on show at any one time. A tremendous experience.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we then moved to Denbigh industrial estate where there was a flock of 190 waxwings. Ray needed them for a year tick, I thought about staying in the car.....

Our next stop was at Llanbedr-y-cennenin in the Conwy valley, a well known hawfinch site. Our luck was in we saw three birds high up in one of the trees after we had been there for less than 5 minutes. Result! I've sometimes spent hours here and still not seen them.

Our first failure of the day was at Llandudno, where we couldn't find the long staying snow buntings, so with the light beginning to fade we moved swiftly on to Conwy RSPB. Our luck really was in today, because within minutes of arriving at the bridge over the pond we had found the firecrest which has been reported recently. This is another bird which I have sometimes spent hours looking for at Conwy. Finally it was back to the cafe for a mug of tea and a slice of bara brith. So at the end of today my 2017 year list stands at 109.

Let battle commence.

The leck.

Not from today! This photo was from the same site in 2015.

Oh hum...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts