RSPB Conwy 19 Sept; a long overdue visit!

What a year 2020 has been, with an update in "Post Furlough Return To Work....", with no sign of any let up from Covid19!

This is the second visit of 2020 to the reserve at Conwy (the last was Feb 29th: RSPB Conwy 29 Feb 2020), and the way things are looking, possibly the last before 2021.

The day was as always, an early start for a three hour drive, and a planned September detour to see Tu Hwnt i'r Bont, a pretty former 15th century courthouse now a tearoom, I've yet to visit, but always looks spectacular at this time of year as the foliage around it turns to a brilliant red.

It was a little difficult to get a properly aligned photo, trying to maintain social distancing while other photographers were there, but it was nice to see, and Pont Fawr, the bridge (Pont is Welsh for bridge). always looks splendid.


From there, it was on to the reserve, only recently reopened after a long time closed. I say closed, they'd actually opened the reserve up, but without the facilities, which I require after a three hour drive.

After catching up with many of the volunteers and staff who I'd not seen for months, it was a late wander around the reserve, which as you'd expect, the hides were still closed for Covid19 reasons.

I want to say here, the staff and volunteers have done a brilliant job at enabling Covid19 restrictions making the reserve as safe as possible for all to visit, and I take my hat off to them all, it has been a real pleasure to see the old faces again, even with the sad news that one gent, a disabled chap who I know, had a stroke just before lockdown and from what I understand, there had been complications, so I hope all goes well and I manage to meet up with him sometime at the reserve, or Burton Mere, where I think he also visits, in the future.

Not to be perturbed, I always enjoy a wander away from the hides, keeping to the paths, and using the viewing screens around the Deep Lagoon, which can and do yield some good views, though this time, they didn't. What was strange, there were no robins or blackbirds along the paths leading to and around the hides!

To be fair, I didn't hang around, the paths were quiet from a public perspective, so I wanted to make the best of the quietness and get out into the open areas enabling social distancing. But even in the past on a quick walk along those paths, there is usually some bird life!

The wildlife was just out of range of the big lens, so many photos are heavily cropped, and a greater number were ditched because the sun was at the wrong angle.

However, one thing I wanted to see, was this years Carneddau Foals, which by now, had grown somewhat, but there was one fairly new addition, the sixth this year.

This little one arrived was part of the routine Carneddau pony exchanges, where they swap them around to avoid inbreeding, and mum was pregnant upon arrival to the reserve.

More Carneddau ponies

I just love this one, taken from Foel Fras screen, you can take a horse (Carneddau pony) to water....

The only area I managed to get any decent photos from was the Foel Fras screen, (named after a nearby hill). It was also wide enough for me to settle at and allowed others to view from while not affecting social distancing.

There were plenty of curlew, aided by the fact the tide hadn't long reached high tide on my arrival

Widgeon, this one was having a splash, and I never expected to get a decent photo....

There were plenty of red shanks, and the light was just right to get photos of them taking flight, however, there were too many obstructions, so record shots often included the viewing screen edges, branches and other items.

Touching water!

There was also great white egret, again too far away to get a decent photo. I also took the new camcorder, it worked well on the tripod, but again the wildlife was too far away. However, the tripod came in handy for this one photo of the great white....

And the final capture of the day, a red admiral taking a breather and basking in the sun on a rock alongside the Afon Conwy.

It was an eerily strange day for me, no fault of the reserve staff or volunteers, they were their usual friendly and welcoming selves, it was great to see them again and catch up on the gossip.

Many of the visitors were people who probably wouldn't have dreamt of visiting if it wasn't for Covid19, so there was a new learning experience for many, not something I could easily share because of social distancing.

What was frustrating, and no fault of the reserve, was folk walking off path to meet the ponies, which moved away, and probably had a knock on effect to the wildlife around the reserve.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too sensitive.

One thing I did miss, was my visit to enjoy the local haddock, chips and mushy peas....

Mike

Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Great set of photos Mike and nice to see the ponies too. As you say, the RSPB staff are doing a sterling job during difficult circumstances to try make our visits as enjoyable as they can be with all the restrictions. Slowly things are opening up, although with caution and I read that Leighton Moss cafe is opening this weekend helping those visitors who have travelled distance to visit the reserve with refreshment available. I guess we took for granted all our visits before to the various reserves and areas when we were able to wander anywhere and everywhere and meet friends. Let's hope your friend who had a recent stroke is back on the road to full recovery and is eventually able to enjoy the wildlife adventures he participated in before and you can meet up again when safe to do so.
    Love the scenic photos too, how pretty Pont Fawr looks in all its autumn splendour. Thanks for the updates Mike and good luck to you and Mrs PR.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Glad to see you made it to Conway again Mike before more restrictions prevent us travelling around again:( Lovely to see your pics and views, and good looking healthy ponies. Nice to see a good number of Curlew too, there are still a few to be seen this way but not that number.

    Lot to learn

  • Lovely pics Mike.....nice to see you managed a day out...hope there are plenty more in 2021 if not sooner.

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • Hi Mike nice photos the ponies were lovely not seen that breed before, the river looked a nice spot, were you tempted to do a bit of fishing ?
  • Hi Mike nice photos the ponies were lovely not seen that breed before, the river looked a nice spot, were you tempted to do a bit of fishing ?
  • In reply to HAZY:

    HAZY said:
    Great set of photos Mike and nice to see the ponies too. As you say, the RSPB staff are doing a sterling job during difficult circumstances to try make our visits as enjoyable as they can be with all the restrictions. Slowly things are opening up, although with caution and I read that Leighton Moss cafe is opening this weekend helping those visitors who have travelled distance to visit the reserve with refreshment available. I guess we took for granted all our visits before to the various reserves and areas when we were able to wander anywhere and everywhere and meet friends. Let's hope your friend who had a recent stroke is back on the road to full recovery and is eventually able to enjoy the wildlife adventures he participated in before and you can meet up again when safe to do so.


    Love the scenic photos too, how pretty Pont Fawr looks in all its autumn splendour. Thanks for the updates Mike and good luck to you and Mrs PR.

    Tu Hwnt i'r Bont can look even more red, I was just a little too early this year, fearing things could change both weatherwise and Covid19 restrictions.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • In reply to gaynorsl:

    gaynorsl said:
    Glad to see you made it to Conway again Mike before more restrictions prevent us travelling around again:( Lovely to see your pics and views, and good looking healthy ponies. Nice to see a good number of Curlew too, there are still a few to be seen this way but not that number.

    It was an escape I just had to make. As we all know, the restrictions have been severely imposed!

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • In reply to Linda257:

    Linda257 said:
    Lovely pics Mike.....nice to see you managed a day out...hope there are plenty more in 2021 if not sooner.

    Thank you Linda.

    I'm not so sure about 2020, as for 2021, I'm keeping all fingers and toes crossed, but its damned difficult to eat and walk! 

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • In reply to i love robins:

    i love robins said:
    Hi Mike nice photos the ponies were lovely not seen that breed before, the river looked a nice spot, were you tempted to do a bit of fishing ?

    Thank you. The Carneddau ponies are unique to that part of North Wales, and are pretty prolific on the nearby hills and mountains.

    The ones at Conwy are there to keep the scrub in check, and are swapped around with a nearby farm in the hills just outside Conwy, which is just outside the northern edge of the Carneddau range.

    I'm not a fisherman, I'm afraid sitting there for hours on end as many do, doesn't appeal, along with the fact the river is very tidal with some very strong currents.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • In reply to Mike B:

    Looks like you had a good time Mike, it looks a lovely place