Llanrhaeadr in North Wales is a place I last visited over 30 years ago, and my memories were a tad faded, so when the Birding Group I’m a member of announced an excursion to the area I was keen to revisit. The day itself was glorious, with sunshine throughout. As we gathered at the carpark around 10am, it was clear that a ‘hike’ rather than our more regular sedate walks was in the offing – I know that my fitness levels have plummeted recently, in the following 5 or so hours I realised just how unfit I was! Initial views of the famed Llanrhaeadr Waterfalls brought back those faded memories:
Our first excursion took us beneath the broad leafed trees where the first spring ferns could be seen uncurling from their winter slumber, and though we did spot Pied Flycatchers here they proved impossible to get decent shots of as they darted amongst the foliage.
|Redstart - Phoenicurus phoenicurus|
Heading back through the car park, one of our members identified a Redstart - Phoenicurus phoenicurus singing high up on the topmost boughs of a tree in the distance, as we quartered the ground trying to get closer, I managed to find a vantage point to try for a shot. I was quite happy with the result considering the distance!
We then headed out, and the nature of our walk slowly became clearer as we passed outcroppings of granite and scree slopes of slate. One of our more knowledgeable companions pointed out some Parsley Fern – apparently a specialist plant, highly adapted to growing in the exposed scree slopes we were crossing.
The vegetation changed slowly as we climbed, turning to gorse and bracken dotted with sheep-scrapes. Along the path we spotted several Dung Beetles in their ‘natural habitat’ and did our best to avoid destroying their ‘home
Although the background chorus of migrant birdsong and the lush vegetation proved that Spring was well and truly upon us, we found reminders of the recent harsh winter too. This desiccated frog, clearly a recent victim of the elements.
|Meadow Pipits - Anthus pratensi|
The bracken proved an excellent background to the camouflaged Meadow Pipits - Anthus pratensis we could hear singing all around us, but occasionally one stood higher so I fired off a few shots, albeit it a huge distance!
|Meadow Pipits - Anthus pratensis|
|Male Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe|
The Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe proved slightly more co-operative in their willingness to have their pictures taken, although this one was also being very wary of the falcon which circled lazily above from time to time. There were also several female Wheatear in the vicinity, and he occasionally became distracted!
After what seemed to me like a mega-hike, we finally returned to the café at the carpark where we enjoyed a good selection of home-made cakes and warm drinks, before one final walk down to the waterfall and setting off back home.
This was not one of my better photo-excursions, and most of the shots I took during the day were a huge disappointment to me, but I hope you have enjoyed the few I have used here. Although a touch isolated, I certainly intend visiting this site again – and not leaving it another 30+ years!