Wentwood is apparently the largest ancient woodland site in Wales so you can't blame a couple great grey shrike wanting to spend some time there. However yesterday evenings stroll was an attempt to find one of the same brand in a woodland other than Wentwood.
High above Pontypool on the southern side of the Crumlin Road is a large imposing conifer plantation the upper section of which is adjacent to Mynydd Llwyd and was clear-felled about 12 months ago. The challenge nonetheless was locating the site without getting lost. With the aid of a trusty Landranger map the best I could do was to park just off Mynydd Maen common and walk. After a modest half an hour or so avoiding a quizzical herd of Welsh Mountain Blacks and the rutted terrain courtesy of our off road friends I arrived at the said clear-fell. Apart from a solitary singing dunnock and a distant skylark it was hardly worth the effort. But all was not lost as I picked up a male hen harrier as it left the moorland of Mynydd Llwyd to disappear over the valley to Mynydd Llanhileth. The only other scrap of life to trouble the Valley Naturalist note book was a good population of the little ground beetle Notiophilus biguttatus.
There were some smashing examples of dry stone walls on offer as I returned to base and a fly over party of about 8 fieldfare rounded the evening off.