Bird life has gone slightly quiet at the moment as they start moving around looking for food and in general have stopped singing. A walk through woodland at this time of year can be very peaceful and thought provoking allowing yourself to immerse into the surroundings, but around the corner you may suddenly come across a marauding flock of birds noisily moving through the area. Typically, these are mixed tit species flocks made up of long-tailed tit, coal tit, blue tit, great tit and possibly willow tit. Other tag along birds can include goldcrest, treecreeper and chiffchaff, all of which have high pitch calls.
Mike, our volunteer bird ringer, has been out on several occasions in the last few weeks looking for willow tit. This is with the aim to catch and colour ring the willow tit as part of an ongoing project between the RSPB and BTO to better understand their movements, survival rate and potential reasons for their current decline. Most of the birds caught have been juveniles which are roaming the area looking to potentially set up their own new territory come the spring.
Colour-ringed willow tit near the Centenary Hide in 2017
Willow tits favour wet scrubby habitat, which at Lake Vyrnwy is often areas of plantation that have been cleared and left to regenerate naturally which allows birch and willow to come through. Younger scrubby habitat is ideal for foraging whereas the slightly older habitat is required for nesting as they require dead wood to excavate a nest cavity. A good place to look for willow tits at Lake Vyrnwy is the Centenary Hide at the top end of the lake, whether from the hide itself or along the path to it. They have a distinctive harsh buzz call that is usually the best way of finding them. More information including its call can be found here. Also, please let us know if you see any willow tits around Lake Vyrnwy.
While out waiting for willow tit it can be a good opportunity to spot raptors flying over. From near the village of Abertridwr the following were seen over a few hours: buzzard, red kite, sparrowhawk, goshawk, kestrel and a possible hobby which darted through. The goshawk wasn’t happy with the presence of the sparrowhawk and was seen to stoop at it a few times which gave a great opportunity to look at the differences between the two species, the size was by far the most obvious difference of these two birds.
Ponies being used to break up dense areas of bracken
Autumn/winter habitat management has now begun with areas of bracken being cut or rolled to try and reduce its density and improve the diversity of wildlife it can support. This can benefit the floral diversity under the bracken, especially violets which are an important foodplant for different fritillary butterflies, and the birds using the area, particularly whinchat, stonechat and ring ouzel. As well as mechanical intervention, we also use livestock to break up the bracken, with ponies and cattle being the main species of choice.
Word of Warning: The dam will be closed on the 10th, 11th and 12th of September next week between 9.30am and 3.30pm. All businesses will remain open in the village and can be accessed by driving around the lakeside road which is an extra 10 miles.
Gavin Chambers, Warden
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