by Kathy James

Nature and Bites

You may by now realise that I enjoy my food rather a lot and of course I love my birds, so to be taken to a cafe for breakfast surrounded by birds was a great addition to last weekend!

At first I was just struck by the lovely location, nestled in the beginnings of the Llanberis pass, and then the building itself was enough to please me. It is a multi-use building with the cafe taking advantage of views of the garden through almost entirely glass walls. I chose my breakfast and then I started seeing things…Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Chaffinch all feeding right in front of my face…who was watching who feed I wonder?! The glass barrier afforded views I’m not accustomed to and was an excellent way to appreciate the size differences of these realitively common birds.

My friend went up to order and as I glanced over towards him, treecreepers! Two, over the otherside of the cafe. I (actually) skipped across the cafe exclaiming “Treecreepers! Look! Look!”. The rest of the clientelle politley smiled as I interupted their serenity.

I was so overawed by this dining-birding experience that I actually returned a few days later with my visiting friend, Sam. This time the weather was less in our favour and the little guys weren’t showing. Still it is a lovely spot for breakfast. Then, a Sparrowhawk flew in and perched on a branch metres from our window. Prooving that no matter the weather this is a top place! If you like to try it for yourself it’s called the Caban and can be found in Brynrefail off the the A4244.

Tuesday was spent with Ken and Sam. We had a walk around Pentraeth Forest before moving on to Red Wharf Bay. As we pulled into Red Wharf Bay I decided it was most definitely time for lunch. I think Ken often despairs of me and my need to eat so frequently – he is built for birding, other functions are secondary. Ken scanned the estaury with his scope, whilst from inside the car – literally biting into my cracker with cheese, I shouted “Bird of Prey Ken!” tee hee, small victories 🙂 Ken identified it as a Merlin. I could see it chasing after some small bird but had to settle for watching ‘cracker-in-hand ‘ as lunch had buried my binoculars somewhere.

We saw a flock of Common Snipe take to the air and as we walked along the coast path towards Llandonna and several Jack Snipe popped out of the saltmarshes to say hello.

This Saturday morning I joined the North Wales Wildlife Trust for a guided walk around the Alaw Estuary near Valley, lead by Ian Wright and my very own Ken Croft. What a fabulous morming we had awoken to?! The previous evening had been wet and windy, the sea battering against the cliffs at South Stack. I left my house before Ken arrived to pick me up and was stunned at the millpond-esque sea around me. What a transformation!?

Down at the Alaw a sizeable group had gathered and we spent a couple of hours enjoying the weather, the company and the plentiful birds. There was a whole range of birders there, from novice to expert and it was nice to be able to share the sights with them all. We had a list of some 39 bird species in and around the estuary before the rest of the group headed on to Penrhos Coastal Park.

Saturday night was a starry, starry night down at Treborth Botanical Gardens. Nigel Brown, along with ‘Friends of Treborth Gardens’, presented a star-gazing evening. It was well worth the £3 entry fee. My knowledge of the night sky is limited to say the least and armed with a torch, Nigel led us on a guided tour of the constellations. It was incredible! The moon alone was worth looking at in more detail, through binoculars the craters and seas were well defined. I have now learnt various constellations and notable features of the sky tha I hope will be able to find on my own. It is definitely something I will do again. I will take advantage of the skies up at South Stack on a clear night and see how I fare. A big thank you to the astronomical society who came along and let us look through their mammoth scopes – through these I saw an up-close shot of the moon and even the striations on Jupiter!!

Can’t sign off without mentioning the naturebites birdrace which is fast approaching! I am starting to gather teams, but it’s not too late to enter…just email me before you head out with your team members, which county you are choosing and which day you are going out. I am excited to say that so far we have participants in the West Midlands, East Yorkshire, Benbecula, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Gwynedd and Anglesey – why not represent your county?! It really is all about having fun so if you have a day where you can spare six hours then give it a bash 😉 See my previous post for the brief rules and you’ll be on your way…

I really look forward to hearing from more of you who want to join in,

Kathy xxx

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2 responses

  1. Hi Kathy,

    I’ve been meaning to get in touch, I spent a great day with Ken some months ago now, what a great bloke, anyway I mentioned it’d send you a link to the work I was doing, this is not directly bird related but is connected to the natural world, it’s a piece about the expansion of Wylfa power station/ Wylfa B etc.. …copy and paste this link below:

    http://www.theblackwaterfall.com/Caerdegog

    I made this in support of a local farmer and his family at Caerdegog Uchaf near Wylfa.

    I’m new to bird watching and to be honest I was really inspired by Ken, I think he’d happily watch the pigeons in Hackney in London where i live and still be in awe. This is the approach I feel most at home with, sort of watching the everyday and how from simple things we can learn a lot. If you happen to see Ken can you wish him all the best from me.

    I enjoyed reading the blog 🙂

    Christian

    January 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    • Hi Christian,

      What a beautiful, powerful display that is. Wow. I think you really hit the point home and might make a lot of Wylfa supporters think twice. Would you mind if I publicised this on facebook? It is a beautiful piece of art and poignantly relevant to our island and Wales as a whole.

      I will show Ken your message, I’m sure he’ll be very touched.

      If you do have any further work to show then please share!

      Kathy x

      January 31, 2012 at 9:30 am

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