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The Celtic Rain Forest RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas

Common Redstart (Male) One of the most unique and incredible places to birdwatch in Wales has to be RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas (Dinas) The reserve is situated around a hill named "Dinas" in mid-wales a few miles outside the town of Llandovery. The hill ( I can't help but call it a mountain) which is 331 meters high has steep slopes that are covered in predominantly Atlantic Oak and Alder Trees and other areas covered in scrubland. I did some research about Atlantic Rainforests and according to the Woodland Trust , this type of habitat is found in places that have high rainfall but with low variation in temperature throughout the year. I have been visiting Dinas with my three amigo friends for the last couple of years and I must admit it is one of the only places that I have been to that has thousands of Oak trees densely packed around a mountain like this. When I walk into the woodland I imagine I am in something out of J R Tolkiens Lord of The Rings. It really is magical. Din

A Shrike to to the Woods

I recently watched the great TV Show BBC Winterwatch. I must admit its one of the most inspiring shows I watch on the telly. I just want to go out with the camera and look for something new to photograph.

This years Winterwatch saw Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan visit the Forest of Dean , where they sat on Crab Tree Hill for hours waiting to glimpse a rare winter visitor - the Great Grey Shrike.

This fired up some enthusiasm in me and my friend Paul Joy to get out and see if we could get a photograph of this enigmatic bird.

We ventured out on Sunday and made our way up to Crab Tree Hill from  the car park that is down the road from the Speech House.

After a cold steady walk we got to Crab Tree Hill. Its an exposed moorland hill ,  that is surrounded by a woodland. The wind was bitingly cold, but fortunately the sun came out to thaw us out a little.

We waited for about an hour and a half and then the Shrike made an appearance. With a shout from Paul who spotted it we tried to get a decent photograph. The Shrike likes to perch at the very top of small trees so its got a good vantage point to swoop down and catch its prey - small rodents, lizards and insects.

On seeing it for the first time the Grey looked almost a pale blue and I was struck by how impressive it looked. 

We managed to get some great photos from a respectful  distance. Not too close as it would fly off to another perch - frustratingly so at times.

Really pleased that Mother Nature blessed us with some good luck today, seeing the Great Grey Shrike is my first 2018 lifer and what a great way to start a new year of birding firsts.


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