On Thursday morning I made a couple of wrong decisions which meant the day started poorly.
Someone told me that on the Aberystwyth beach you get a few Purple Sandpipers near the jetties so after breakfast I parked up and walked along the promenade.Not only were there no Purple Sandpipers there were no birds at all and to make matters worse the walk was very depressing.It was as though there had been a major environmental disaster 20 years ago and the area had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin.The beach must be the worst beach in GB.
At the far end of the promenade I made another error I caught a ride on the cliff railway to get me to the top of Constitution Hill.Why ? Because the same person who told me about the Sandpipers told me you can get Choughs up there.Of course there were none there nor much else and no people either.I cannot remember who gave me this info pity really as I would have had a word with them.
I then left earlier than I had planned and drove over to Bwich Nant yr Arian which is a Red Kite feeding reserve about 10 miles east of Aberystwyth.I was very impressed with the place as I drove into the car park there was a very impressive lake,several walks and spectacular views.There was also a great centre with a very nice cafe.The fact that it was free didn't come into it (you have to pay to park mind you).
As I sat on the sunny terrace with a cup of coffee I had 3 hours to wait till the Kites were to be fed.As I looked around I thought the place might be a one trick pony with only the Kites to see.Luckily I was wrong on that score.
I decided to take the lake walk and I hadn't gone very far when I spotted some Siskins including juveniles on or near some feeders.There were some Lesser Redpolls as well.
As I walked only a little further there were loads of birds in some trees between the path and the lake including Siskins,Common Whitethroats,Willow Warblers and a Garden Warbler which I yet again failed to get a decent shot of.However what was more surprising was a male Pied Flycatcher that was singing out not that far away.
I went back to the centre and told a warder I'd chatted to earlier about the Flycatcher in case he didn't know.He did of course and said that there were 3 males and one female on site.He then asked had I caught up with the Tree Pipit and when I said no he took me to where it visits.What a good chap.I had only ever seen one before on Cannock Chase some years ago.
As I waited for the Pipit to show I saw some movement in a nearby conifer.It was a pair of Goldcrests.The Pipit forgotten I went after the Goldies but as usual they kept pinging around and I couldn't get a shot off.Suddenly one flew right past me and landed on a sapling close by and by some miracle I got onto it and although I only got two shots off they are both very good particularly as one shot had the crest showing so well.
Not long after the Goldcrests had flown off the Tree Pipit arrived and started singing it's heart out but as usual it was high up in the tree tops.
I watched the Pipit on and off for the best part of an hour but couldn't get close enough for a decent shot so what I did to pass the time was to do what top photographers or complete idiots do.Try for some flight shots of a Tree Pipit doing it's parachute flights.Did sort of OK.
With not long to go before Kite feeding time (3.00 PM) just as I popped into the cafe again for afternoon tea and cake four friends from Brandon Marsh called me over to join them.They had come down for the day armed with their big lenses and as they were regulars they knew where to go to get some decent shots.
At 2.45 PM we went and stood on a headland along the North side of the lake.Feeding takes place on a grassed area on the South side of the lake only 50 odd metres from where we were.There were about 5 Kites in the air at this time and by 2.55 PM there were about 40.Then at 3.00 PM as the guy with the food appeared there were well over a hundred.How do they do this ? Have they all got Rolex watches ?
Wonderful to watch these fabulous birds gliding around so close.Got plenty of shots it is pretty easy but didn't get a shot of one picking up the food from the lake which is a shame.I've tried to pick out some shots that are a bit different but it's not easy.