Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Llyn Brenig, A North Wales Jewel - 8 June 2013

I have a good spot for seeing the Cuckoo, just north of the wonderfully named World's End, near Llangollen. Hearing the male bird calling is certainly one of the highlights of a magnificent 14 mile walk, but seeing the bird is not a given and the mixed terrain is a bit gruelling. So with hot weather forecast for today, we chose a gentler option for a Cuckoo hunt.

Llyn Brenig, 12 miles south-west of Denbigh, is a really beautiful reservoir and a popular venue for trout anglers, plus the occasional Osprey. It is also a fantastic place for a birding walk, with a great chance of seeing Cuckoos.

We arrived fairly early and enjoyed a coffee in the visitor centre cafe, or to be more precise, outside on the balcony enjoying the view. We soon set off anti-clockwise around the reservoir and after a brief stop for a Willow Warbler, we arrived on the dam at the southern end, where a stop was compulsory to admire and photograph the resplendent vista.

As I looked out thinking 'it doesn't get better than this' it suddenly did when a couple of Cuckoos flew across from the east and settled on the tree tops behind the visitor centre. It got even better when we heard a male Cuckoo calling from behind us and we turned to find another pair in the nearby wood. With 4 Cuckoos in sight, we then had a fifth when another male was heard calling from the east. What a start to the day!

Walking up the eastern side, it soon became clear why the Cuckoos are drawn to this area. The adjacent rough meadows were alive with Meadow Pipit, so there is no shortage of nests for the Cuckoos to parasitise.

Meadow Pipit with tasty catch but is it feeding a young Cuckoo?

We continued north along the path and up to the point where it veers off into a large coniferous wood and here we stopped for lunch at the waters edge. With another fine view across the calm water and one eye to the skies in search of the Osprey that had been feeding in the area, it would have been so easy to miss the days best view of a Cuckoo. But we were still hearing the calls, so we kept checking the trees behind us and out it popped to perch on a fence post some distance away. I was off... first using the cover of the walled bank, then closing in on my belly and crossing the path where I was almost decapitated by a passing cyclist (with PK sniggering into her tea). I had almost halved the distance when I quickly popped the lens through the long grass and fired off a couple of hopeful shots, just before the bird disappeared back into the wood. 

The smell from the animal droppings that I had managed to accumulate in the process, accompanied us for the rest of the day but it was worth it!

A Llyn Brenig Cuckoo - clocked one at last!

Skylark - a welcome sight on any trip

Species (order as seen): Willow Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Magpie, Crow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Greylag Goose, Grey Wagtail, Raven, Jay, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Robin, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, House Martin, Redstart, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Canada Goose.