Shaun pulled up outside mine at around 6.30am and was greeted by the Green Woodpecker, who is affectionately known as Mr Yaffler, it carried on about it's business without a care in the world, until I left the house and made for the van!! It then, clocked me and flew across to it's nesting site in Rivacre Valley with undulating wingbeats.
Today we were heading for Loggerheads, which I was told was Nr Mold in North Wales. Our goal, to get pics of Pied Flycatchers, which had so far eluded us on our previous trips. The weather was okay when we left but upon arrival, it started to lash down, the clouds were low and the rain relentless, we walked through the wooded area away from the visitor centre and the drip drip of the rain from the trees, soon became a torrent and our waterproofs had a good workout. Needless to say, not a lot of birds were showing and we could hear Robins, Song Thrush and could just make out the diddley diddley diddley dee of Goldcrest.
The rain eased up slightly, and we passed some Wild Garlic, which Shaun insisted I tasted, which not being one to refuse, did and had the taste in my mouth for over an hour afterwards!!
Walking further on we came across the River Alyn, which runs through this beautiful mixed woodland, rich in Scots Pines and mature Oaks. We caught sight of a Spotted Flycatcher doing what Spotteds do well, darting out from a branch for nearby insects, however it vanished rather quickly before we could get a snap. Likewise Shaun spotted a Dipper flying low upstream, but alas, that was the only glimpse we had. A pair of Treecreepers were busy collecting insects for young, but it was too gloomy for pics and they never turned out properly :(
The rain was now starting to bucket down again and we decided to head back to the van and try our luck at Moel Famau, at least that would give us a chance to dry off a bit and we could return here later. Upon arrival at Moel Famau, there was a hint of blue sky trying to peep through the ash grey cloud which gave hope. The car park here costs a quid to gain entry and has a barrier system. Once parked up we spotted some Swallows and heard Willow Warbler, Coal Tit and Chiffchaff.
The keeper to the trailhead we intended on taking looked rather menacing and would not be out of place in a Tolkien film, what do you think......
We heard some Coal Tits high up in the tops of the conifers, they have a distinct sitchu-sitchu-sitchu-sitchu call but were too high up for a good photo, but did manage a few later on....
A male Blackcap was singing away and further up the path a solitary Jay flew overhead. Suddenly the Hweet call alerted me to the whereabouts of a Chiffchaff and nest, we watched as the parent birds made trips back and to with beaks full of insects :)
Climbing further up and up we had reached over 300m above sea level and had Great Tits, Chaffinch, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff all calling from the trees along the pathways. A solitary Song Thrush was belting out his song from his lofty position atop a huge conifer.... a magical sound. As we turned the corner, we got amazing views back out across the countryside towards Loggerheads were we had just come from, as you can see from the pic, the weather had improved considerably :)
At the bottom of the trail, the Goldcrests were calling and Shaun managed to get a couple of decent photos, we enjoyed watching them for a while then headed back to the van.
After a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie at the obligatory butty van you find at these places, we headed back to Loggerheads to retrace our steps and see if we could find Pied Flycatcher now viewing conditions had improved. Following the paths, we came across a clearing with spectacular views and immediately spotted a Buzzard, it was being pestered by a pair of Crows (as is usually the case).....
Walking back down through the wood and back towards the river we found a great spot to sit and watch, I immediately spotted a family of Grey Wagtails on the riverbank and it looked as though it was only recently this youngster had fledged...
We then had our Eureka moment, the birds we had been hoping to tick suddenly appeared, at first we saw the female Pied Flycatcher on low branches.......
she then flew down and grabbed a juicy grub, it soon became apparent that a couple of pairs were in this vicinity and we could see where one pair had a nest just across the river in a hole in a tree clad with Ivy.
Trying to get a shot of the male bird was proving difficult as he was busy catching insects at a frantic pace and was busy flitting around the nearby branches, Shaun did manage a couple of decent shots though and it was mission accomplished :)
I was well happy and we stayed for a while and watched these industrious little birds go about their duties. Walking back to the van we passed an old mill and at the Loggerheads visitor centre, there appeared to be a fete of some kind going on as music and games were now being played on the lawns outside. A great place to visit and I enclose a link in case anyone who reads the blog wants more info..... http://www.northwales.co.uk/family-days/loggerheads-country-park-mold/
On the way home we stopped in for a look at Aberduna Quarry which is now a disused quarry that has been turned into a nature trail, it seemed closed, but here is a picture and a link anyway...
After a dismal start to the day, it turned out to be a well worthwhile trip :)
Shaun Hickey (Photos)