Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Garnlydan Reservoir: a birders enigma

I can't quite square the circle that is Garnlydan Reservoir. Historically it's produced some nice passage birds but it seems nowadays that this has all but dried up, How much of this is due to high water levels is anyone's guess but compared to the range of birds recorded from Rhaslas that's but a few miles along the Heads of the Valleys road, Garnlydan is a massive disappointment.

Twelve lapwing flushed from a small pond adjacent to the reservoir flattered to deceive. There was absolutely nothing on the reservoir, however four snipe took off from marginal Juncus. Here too was a dew encrusted black darter dragonfly and a water scorpion was the only other notable.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bang, bang!

Four sheep were grazing on a patch of community owned green space and moved between parked cars as I pushed through a kissing gate on to the lower slopes of Mynydd y Garn-fawr. The metal structure clattered as I paused to absorb the vista. The heather was at its purplest best, the air full of black dangly legged red-thighed St Marks fly and pollen. A swallow flew low over the colourful patchwork, calling briefly. The objective was a disused rifle range part way up the hillside. This remnant 20th century feature of large bank, stone revetment  complete with pock marked cast iron plates and pre-cast concrete building is one of the few discernible features on this part of the Blorenge Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 

The sheep track weaved through a mosaic of bracken, heather and acid grassland. Scrambling over a outcrop of scree a pile of weathered red grouse pellets blended well with a background of bleached sandstone rocks. A painted lady butterfly fluttered over the dry baked soil of the path before taking off into the distance. For its age the pre-cast concrete building was in relatively good condition and to my surprise supported a swallow nest containing two large young. A hovering kestrel appeared on the horizon, and on closer inspection was wrestling with a large dragonfly that its eventually dropped. A few meadow pipit were flushed on my way back. At this time of year upland fences and dry stone walls can be rich pickings for migrant passerines. Hence a nearby wall proudly displayed a pair of vocal stonechat and a female wheatear.

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