On day one of my Welsh trip we visited RSPB Ynys-hir, located 15 miles north east of Aberystwyth on the A487. From 2011 to 2013, this reserve was the location for the BBC's Springwatch programme. The main reason we wanted to visit Ynys-hir was to see the Pied Flycatcher & Redstart, two birds I had not seen before. There was also the chance of seeing an Osprey as they had a nest site a couple of miles up the Dyfi valley from Ynys-hir.
We started off on the Woodland trail and we did not see anything until after we had been past the Ynys-hir hide. Just past the hide we were able to observe 2 pairs of Pied Flycatchers coming and going from their nest box - that's one of the birds we came to see ticked off the list - however the Redstart would prove more elusive for now.
From the Woodland trail we headed onto the Wetland trail. First we headed for the Ynys Eidol viewing screen, past the closed Covert Du hide. The only birds making an apperance here were Robins and Dunnocks, but there was plenty of the wild flower Yellow Flag. From the viewings screen we had to retrace our steps as the Breakwater hide is also currently closed.
This section of the Wetland trail is part farm track, part boardwalk through the reedbeds and farmland. As we approached the start of the boardwalk we spotted several Reed Buntings & Reed Warblers as well as a female Stonechat who posed near the top of a reed for a couple of minutes, allowing me to get a couple of good pics.
On the first half of the boardwalk we spotted Willow Warblers, Chaffinches and another Stonechat, this time too far away to get a photo. Halfway round the boardwalk we took a small detour to the Ynys Feurig hide where we spotted plenty of Canada Geese and a Little Egret. You can also see the currently closed Breakwater hide.
We then rejoined the boardwalk spotting more Willow Warblers before rejoining the farmland area of the Wetland trail. During this stretch Goldfinches, Chaffinches & Swallows all made an appearance before we headed back to the Visitor Centre for lunch. Just before we reached it, there was another appearance of the Pied Flycatcher!
Whilst we were having our lunch it started to rain and by the time we had finished our lunch it was pouring down, so we watched a re-run of the previous nights Springwatch as we waited for the rain to stop. Eventually the rain eased off to a light drizzle and we put our waterproof coats on and set off again, this time on the Saltmarsh trail, however as we were about halfway there the rain came down heavier and heavier and by the time we reached the Saltings hide we were soaked!
Whilst drying off in the Saltings hide, we manged to see an Oystercatcher, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Shelducks, Redshanks, Tufted ducks and a Black Tailed Godwit. Once the rain died down to a drizzle again we set off again and headed for the Marian Mawr hide, on the way a Skylark put in a an appearance. By the time we reached the Marian Mawr hide the rain had finally stopped. From here we spotted several Reed Warblers moving through the reeds as well as a Grey Heron and a couple of Redshanks in the distance. A few minutes later we headed for the final hide and a big suprise was waiting for us.
We had been told that there was a pair of Oystercatchers nesting in front of this hide, but when we arrived at the Domen Las hide, they were closer than any of us expected. We sat down and just 6 feet in front of us on a wall was the nest with the Oystercatcher sat on the nest looking straight at us. During our visit the Oystercatcher got up and walked to the end of the wall overlooking the Dyfi river looking out to see if the other parent was coming back to takeover nest duties.
Other birds seen from this hide included Herring Gulls, Little Egrets, Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Canada Geese. After we had been in the hide about 15-20 mins I thought I saw a Great White Egret, but by the time I looked through the binoculars it had disappeared and I assumed it must have been another Herring Gull. But only 30 seconds later it popped up again and this time I was able to identify it as a Great White Egret!
Just as we were about to leave the hide we heard a bird call and then spotted it flying across the river towards the end of the wall. As it landed we immediately saw it was the other Oystercatcher parent and we were able to watch the changeover between parents! We then headed back to the visitor centre for a quick toilet stop before heading back to the Woodland trail to try and spot the elusive Redstart!
As we set off to look for the Redstart, some other visitors mentioned where they had seen a pair of Redstarts coming and going from a nest. We thanked them and headed to where they had seen it, after a couple of false starts we finally found the nest which happened to be an old Woodpeckers nest. After a couple of minutes waiting there it was, the male Redstart and that was the other bird ticked off the list!
We headed back to the visitor centre having had a fantastic visit to a simply brilliant reserve having seen 42 different species of bird. Below are the rest of my pictures from my visit. I have also attached my full sitings for my visit.