You go there at your folly.

Red Kite

I returned to one of my old regular patches again this weekend for a change of scenes from Goldcliff Lagoons. Whilst my love for the lagoons is undiminished I also like to explore other areas of the Gwent area and check out the different habitats and wildlife. The "county" has much to offer for a relatively small part of Wales with a diverse range of habitats.

One type of area that it excels at is mountain moorland and we have plenty it in Torfaen. We also have the wonderful Pontypool Park which is rich in flora and fauna if you know where to look.

I headed up through Pontypool Park to the Folly. The weather was lovely but as I gained height up to the moorland that overlooks Pontypool Golf Course it got colder and the wind increased.

The Folly


There was great panoramic views to be had. Looking south I could see all the way to the Bristol Channel and the Gwent Levels that lie beyond the city of Newport.

I also had a great view of the new hospital that is being built in Cwmbran.

Northwards the top of the Sugarloaf and Blorenge were visible. West I had a view across to the British and East the blue water of Llandegfydd reservoir. Amazing views it must be said.

The view south looking over the Folly to the newly constructed hospital.

So what about the wildlife you might say? Well, there was plenty to see. Its that time of year now when we get the first winter migrants flying in. Feeding on some Hawthorns was a flock of about twenty Redwings. They were quite skittish and took off in a panic. I observed them from a distance but something scared them. Perhaps it was one of the Buzzards that were soaring on the thermals near the Folly. It's an amazing place really when you think you have got quite a wild place in the countryside that is really open to the elements next to the town of Pontypool and the suburb of Trevethin. It's one thing I love about Gwent is that you are only really a stone throw away from the countryside and nature.

Buzzard over Pen-y-Garn


Keeping me close company on part of my journey was fantastic looking sable feathered Raven. What a bird this species of Crow is. The Raven is the largest of our Crows and said to be one of the most intelligent birds. When you observe them they are wonderfully suited to their environment. Whilst many a birdwatcher raves about raptors flight capabilities few match the Raven's airborne skills. Their wings and tail feathers remind me of the shape of an F-15 fighter jet.

It seemed to be watching a pair of Magpies closely and also kept a keen eye on a Buzzard that was cycling over Pen-y-Garn.

Raven

Raven circling.


As I passed the folly earlier I could not help but notice the large amount of Woodpigeons around. These pigeons tend to congregate in large flocks at this time of year and often feed en-masse on the autumn bounties of seed and fruit.

Higher up as I approached the moorland proper I had plenty of company from the sheep and a breed of stocky black cow. They all looked like they were enjoying a bit of warmth that the sunshine was providing.

As I walked through the moor I disturbed some birds on the ground and up went a couple of Skylarks. They landed on a stone wall and were quite accommodating to me for a photograph.

Skylarks


As I ascended to the top of the moor and looked down towards Lasgarn Wood I was amazed to have a pair of Red Kites circling over the top of my head and they were really low. They were a nightmare to photograph as they circled in front of the sun so the glare was horrendous. I rattled off a load of shots and hoped for the best.

Red Kite soaring over the moorland


Red Kites ( Milvus Milvus) are amazing raptors. They were almost extinct at the turn of the 20th century in the United Kingdom but breeding and release programs and dedicated feeding centers have resulted in these magnificent looking birds of prey spreading throughout Wales, England, and Scotland. They are specially protected birds and any breeding areas are quire rightly kept as a guarded secret.

To have these birds on our doorstep is fantastic and a welcome sight at any time.

Overall I walked several miles and was encouraged by the wealth of bird species that could be found and the kites were a major highlight.

One of the two Red Kites was lighter coloured

Red Kite above my head.


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