Our February summer seems a distant memory with rain, a bit of snow, and storms being the weather of choice for March. However, there have been a few pleasant days in the last week or so and Spring is developing nicely. Though we are still in limbo with winter migrants still present and the first signs of Spring appearing.
Rain makes for a nice view of the dam (Image by Gavin Chambers)
Fieldfares, a winter visitor, are still feeding in the fields and moorland around the Gadfa buildings halfway along the mountain road to Dinas Mawddwy. They are no doubt feeding up in preparation for their journey back to Scandinavia or beyond to North-west Russia. Another winter visitor, the brambling, are still being seen in the area with birds likely to be moving through as they head in a similar direction to the fieldfare.
The early signs of Spring are now clear to see with primroses, lesser celandine, wood anemone and opposite-leaved golden saxifrage all nicely in bloom. Hazel and willow catkins have bust with some of the newly emerged insects taking full advantage, with bumblebees, butterflies and our office honey bees all out and about this week.
Bumblebee on catkins (Archive image by Gavin Chambers)
As you walk around the reserve the volume of bird song has increased as birds start advertising themselves to potential mates or they are looking to hold on to their territory. Unfortunately, we are seeing such a decline in bird numbers across the UK that this volume may overall be reducing and we could lose some of our favourites songster such as the cuckoo, yellowhammer and particularly the turtle dove. The RSPB have started a campaign to Let Nature Sing and are looking to you to add your voice and help save nature. You can also join us on our Dawn Chorus walk on the 5th May to hear to wonderful sounds of the woodlands (booking details here).
Our first chiffchaff of the year was heard singing near the Llechwedd-du picnic site on the 20th March, though most will start turning up in the next few weeks along with the rest of the migrants heading back from Africa and southern Europe. Other sightings have included a mandarin along the river below the dam, goshawk soaring over forestry (Blue and Purple trails and forestry along road heading towards Penybontfawr), little grebe and great crested grebe at top end of lake, peregrines on cliff opposite Lakeside Hide and siskin and goldfinch on the feeders outside the Coed y Capel Hide.
Goshawk from Blue Trail (Archive image by Gavin Chambers)
We have been continuing with our willow tit survey, with second visits underway. Birds have been recorded along the Yellow, Purple and Orange Trail and around the Centenary Hide. Listen out for their distinctive buzzing call while out and about and if they are close enough look out for colour rings which have been added as part of an ongoing project to better understand their dramatic decline in the country.
Gavin Chambers, Warden
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