Thursday, January 28, 2010

For several years it has been intended to drive inland up the Mawddach river to locate a couple of species known to frequent patches of mixed woodland and forestry on the valley sides. John Hicks, local moth expert and all round naturalist, works with his wife Anna thinning woodlands on the south side of the estuary, and has mentioned Nightjars in summer as well as Goshawks and Crossbills in winter.

Not having seen Crossbills for over 30 years, planning a trip for the group entailed some research, the http://www.xeno-canto.org/ web site proving an invaluable source of bird recordings by species. With likely sites marked on the map and group expectations set to ‘realistic’, we set off, making a list of species seen en route to pass the time. A tiny road marked on the map looped up from the sandy estuary, along a tributary valley, between tiny stone walled pasture, past mixed woodland, forestry and isolated cottages, crossing streams and through stock gates, until we found our spot.
Parking up on a grassy start to a woodland path, a bird feeder hanging from an adjacent cottage proved a source of new species for the list as we alighted, but the aim of the trip was soon lost in chat and banter of the moment. Moving away from the group to listen for calls from surrounding woods and clearings, almost immediately, an insistent ‘jee…jee...jit’ call brought attention to an upright form just alighted on a spruce leader opposite; large billed and short tailed in silhouette. Never mind bird calls, the lads were still too absorbed in their affairs even to hear someone alerting them to bird calls, but soon set to once word had penetrated, pleased to have noted the heavy bill and distinctive calls for themselves before the Crossbill left.
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Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk

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