Sunday, September 19, 2010


Overlooking Teignmouth

As anticipated we could not access a computer during our time in central Wales and Devon. Indeed, in PENBRYN it was next to impossible to find mobile telephone reception, although I did once consider climbing to the top of a towering cliff abutting the caravan park. The replacement knee suggested this might not be a smart career choice.

On the other hand both these locations were primarily periods of visiting/staying with FAY’s relatives: birding would be incidental. The following blog is no more than a brief bridging narrative between DOXEY MARSHES and our return from ALBRIGHTON [Shropshire] this morning [Sunday 19 September].

Back in the late 1990s we had made a point of driving out to GRIGIN’S FARM in Central Wales to add Red Kite to both our Life and British Lists. A little later we saw the bird over the M40, a few miles beyond London. Now it seems the species is fairly common throughout central Wales, if indeed not even further afield.

We saw our first Red Kite low over rooftops as we negotiated a turn taking us around the outskirts of ABERYSTWYTH. A few miles further along, near LLWYNCELYN, we had our second sighting of this elegant kite.

Red Kite [Image from RSPB website]

At N52o 26’ 23” W03o 45’ 35” we spotted movement across the other side of the road and pulled up at a convenient layby. We added Common Redpoll to the Trip List. In the carpark of the DYFFRYN CASTELL HOTEL [ N52o 25’ 08” W03o 48’ 14”] we had crippling views of a pair of Common Buzzards gracefully circling overhead.

Using a previous download from [“Birdwatching in West Wales”] we found a small window of opportunity on the morning of Monday 13 September and made our way to POPPIT SANDS on the TEIFI ESTUARY. Almost immediately we sighted a small group of Eurasian Oystercatchers and just behind them a Little Egret and Whimbrel. The Eurasian Curlew, almost directly ahead of us, no more than a few metres distant, was a great bonus.

From POPPIT SANDS we travelled to the TEIFI MARSHES at the Welsh Wildlife Centre but by the time we arrived the earlier good weather turned and it rained. Nevertheless, on the vague promise of a possible Cetti’s Warbler, we trudged our way to “Kingfisher Hide” and then “Creek Hide.”

Looking out through Creek Hide

We dipped in both instances.

The “iron bridge” over the River Nevern was even less forthcoming but it was amusing to find a Yorkshire lass acting as barmaid at the Golden Lion pub.

Mute Swan on the River Nevern below the "Iron Bridge"

Tuesday 14 September found us making the long hike to TEIGNMOUTH, Devon. The funnier side of using a “satnav” to negotiate narrow Welsh country lanes must await telling another day [eventually on our website]. Suffice it to say that we only learnt of the Tour of Britain cycle race as we approached TEIGNMOUTH and were turned back to twiddle our thumbs at the nearby Smuggler’s Inn pub.

The delay also gave us the opportunity to visit the DAWLISH WARREN NATURE RESERVE – and again our true feelings about the Centre building and its almost ghostly staff must await the resurrection of our website. Fortunately the birds themselves were far more cooperative with the Northern Wheatear and Sandwich Tern taking the biscuit. The following morning we dipped on the Cirl Bunting at PRAWL POINT and remained unaware of the House Finch at EAST PRAWL until we were running too short of time to keep a lunch appointment with Fay’s cousins.

We returned to RUGELEY late on Thursday evening and the following morning headed out to BLITHFIELD RESERVOIR again. Having already birded both sides of the causeway we decided to try our luck at TAD BAY. There were a number of signs indicating that only “Permit Holders” were permitted to proceed. We had a permit but what the signs failed to tell us is that it was necessary to carry keys to open padlocked gates! That had us stumped and we wondered what the more elderly WMBC members did in such situations – we’d noted a young birder simply climb over the gate back at the ADMASTON side of the causeway. Or does the WMBC issue powered zimmer-frames capable of upward thrust?

Little more remains to be added. Later that Friday [17 September] we went across to ALBRIGHTON and although we did little birding we saw an awful lot of SHREWSBURY and enjoyed our time at the WROXETER Roman settlement site. However, possibly the highlight of the stay here was to show our hosts [and very good friends] a Great Spotted Woodpecker at their elaborate garden bird feeding station – it was a new addition to their garden list.

Great Spotted Woodpecker @ Feeding Station, Blithfield Reservoir

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