Top spot had to be the RSPB reserve at Ynys-hir, never heard of it? Me either before I went, but I am quite comfortably confident it's the finest RSPB site I've ever been to. Where to begin describing the plethora of habitats? The oak woodlands? The mudflat estuary? The fresh water pools? Or how about the reed beds and open pasture? I could go on.
As you may imagine, this extraordinarily rich variety offers a true wish-list of summer birds in early June... maybe 10 pairs of Pied Flycatcher by our straw count, almost as many Redstart, and best of all a single Wood Warbler - a lifer for the girlfriend and I. May have been too late in the day for the bird's amazing stuttering trill song (listen here), however a plaintive 'tuh' contact call quite unlike anything I've heard from a Willow Warbler of Chiffchaff helped to confirm with our ears what we seeing with our eyes through the thick green foliage.
In at least three of the hides we found nesting pairs of Swallow, probably my girlfriend's favourite part of the whole holiday came in watching them toing and froing, watch out for the video at the bottom of this post.
Other top sights for the two days spent there (we simply had to go back after the first one!) were family groups of Raven and Stonechat, a single Whinchat, display flights from Common Sandpiper, overflights from Little Egret, Sedge/Reed/Grasshopper Warbler among the reeds, Oystercatchers and Lapwings, hovering Common Buzzards, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting the feeders by the visitor centre/shop, and a sunbathing Treecreeper - stubby wings outstretch against tree trunk, to name the highlights.
For me most memorable of all was a Goldfinch nest riding the strong winds in the outermost branches of an oak tree at eye level from one of the hides - rising and falling five to six feet after every gust. We couldn't have planned to see a Goldfinch feeding its day old chicks, which trust me is an extraordinarily privileged view into the precarious early days of those birds.
Some pictures to illustrate all this beauty...
More Welsh birding to come.