Birds

This is my attempt at a list of birds and their status within 6km of Rhayader town clock. It is taken from experience gleaned from 10 years bird watching in the area and from information received from others. I hope it accurately reflects reality but there may be some areas where it is less than accurate. I would appreciate any comments so that the list can be updated and improved over time.  It would also be great to receive any bird sightings as it is always possible to add to our knowledge. The status of some species in the area is still vague or not known and ever changing.

Little Grebe   Local breeder on small ponds and shallow lakes. Present all year.

Great Crested Grebe  Local breeder (?) on larger water bodies – e.g Elan Valley.

Cormorant  Seen regularly in the area, particularly on the Wye and in the Elan Valley

Bittern  Winter visitor – one at Nantmel Tip in 2008. The area lacks reedbeds!

Little Egret  Seen occasionally in the Wye Valley over the last few years. Still an uncommon sight.

Grey Heron  Commonly seen all year in the area

Mute Swan  Local breeder on some ponds but not particularly common

Greylag Goose  Birds of unknown origin occasionally seen

Canada Goose  Local breeder in small numbers

Mandarin  Local breeder. Numbers have risen over recent years. Breeding near Nantmel and on the Elan. Seen on the Wye at Llanwrthwl in May 2010.

Wood Duck  Escapes occasionally seen on the Elan.

Mallard  Common

Gadwall   Scarce – sometimes seen on Dolymynach reservoir. Perhaps occurs on other water bodies?

Shoveller  Not known

Wigeon  Infrequent visitor to shallower water bodies e.g Glanllyn

Teal   Winter visitor to various waterbodies including Nantmel tip. Possible breeder on upland water.

Pochard  Occasionally seen in winter but scarce.

Tufted Duck  Occasionally seen – does it breed?

Goldeneye  Winter visitor – particularly on Dolymynach reservoir but possibly elsewhere.

Goosander  Breeds on all major fast flowing rivers. Present all year.

Osprey  Regular passage migrant up Wye and Elan, stops off at Llyn Gwyn. More common in spring usually during April.

Red Kite  Common

Hen Harrier  Present

Common Buzzard  Common

Sparrowhawk  Local breeder, present all year. Numbers unknown.

Goshawk  Present all year

Kestrel  Scarce and perhaps no longer breeds in the area? Passage birds seen in spring and especially August.

Hobby  Seen occasionally especially chasing large flocks of Martins in late summer.

Peregrine  Present and seen all year

Merlin  Seen occasionally

Red Grouse Local breeder in very small numbers – how many left. Needs heather.

Water Rail  Winter visitor and possibly breeds. Seen at Nantmel tip in winter.

Moorhen Scarce in our area

Coot  Scarce in our area

Oystercatcher  Occasionally seen in the Elan Valley and on the Wye (passage?)

Dotterel  No known records  recently but may be under recorded? Passage birds nearby in first half of May.

Golden Plover  Scarce winter visitor possible breeder

Lapwing  Scarce winter visitor and passage bird. Breeds in low numbers.

Dunlin  Possible breeder on the tops?

Common Sandpiper  Summer visitor arriving late May on most of our rivers

Curlew  Passage bird and scarce breeder on uplands

Woodcock  Common winter visitor to damp woods and scarce breeder

Snipe Common winter visitor and breeds in the uplands

Black headed gull  Seen on passage – does it breed?

Herring gull  Passes through the area in increasing numbers. Still noteworthy.

Lesser black backed gull  Passage migrant in small numbers – May is a good month

Great black backed gull  Very scarce passage bird.

Stock Dove  Breeds in good numbers. Moves away for part of the winter.

Wood Pigeon  Common

Collared Dove  Common breeder – particularly in Rhayader. Absent in many villages.

Cuckoo  Summer visitor in good numbers. Arrives in mid April.

Tawny Owl  Common

Long – Eared Owl  Recorded in the area, probably breeds but under recorded

Short-Eared Owl  Breeding resident some years in very small numbers.

Barn Owl  Present all year but rarely seen in daylight.

Little Owl  Formerly more common, a few records in recent years from the Nantglas and Doldowlod areas. Status in the area unknown – does it breed?

Nightjar  Sporadic breeder taking advantage of recent clearfell coniferous woodland. Moves on quickly when habitat changes. May also appear on passage (one on Carngafallt, June 2010).

Swift  Breeding birds arrive in May week 1 but birds are seen in the Wye Valley from the last week of April. Usually disappears during August. Colonies in Llanwrthwl and at the Arches on West Street in Rhayader as well as on the more modern houses on Maes y Brenin, Rhayader. Would be good to get a better picture locally.

Kingfisher  Widespread in low numbers all year. Seen on the Wye and Elan and smaller tributaries post-breeding.

Green Woodpecker  Good numbers in the area still, but thought to have disappeared from the Elan Valley.

Great Spotted Woodpecker  Common.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker  Former breeder but rarely seen or heard in the last few years. One heard near Dolafallen bridge in 2007. Do they still breed?

Skylark Common on the tops from spring through summer

Sand Martin  A small colony on the Wye at Rhayader and breeds in small numbers on other smaller streams. Seen on passage in the spring up the Wye.

Swallow   Common breeder.

House Martin  Common breeder. Arrives in April week 1.  Large post breeding flocks seen over the Cambrian mountains and Wye valley from the end of July, peaking early in September. 800 seen at Llanwrthwl, September 2005.

Meadow Pipit  Common breeder and small flocks seen on passage in the autumn. Some over-winter in mild years.

Tree Pipit   Common summer visitor from mid April. Seen on Ffridd, woodland edges and anywhere the trees are not too dense.

Pied Wagtail  Common breeder

Grey Wagtail  Widespread on our rivers in summer, most tend to leave the area in winter.

Wren Common breeder but suffers during our harsh inland winters (2010 for example).

Dipper  Widespread on our rivers all year. Good spots are Llanwrthwl bridge, and the Wye / Elan confluence. Look out for singing birds in December / January when they are also sometimes seen displaying, flying circuits high up (30ft above the ground) away from watercourses and usually at dusk. Nests early ,with young seen in April. Is seen less in July / August when it is presumably moulting.

Dunnock  Common

Robin  Common

Common Redstart  The study area is probably one of the best places to see them in the UK, with good numbers arriving from mid April. Prefers woodland edge and more open habitats with stone walls and bushes. Seen into September.

Black Redstart Passage migrant with one or two seen most years. Autumn birds appear from late October until the end of November. The village of Llanwrthwl is favoured particularly around the church. Spring records in late March are less common.

Wheatear  Widespread breeding bird in the area usually arriving in late March. Passage birds also occur, seen on unimproved grassland adjacent to upland areas.

Whinchat  Widespread, perhaps declining breeder on Ffridd and bracken slopes. Arrives in early May and seen in to September.

Stonechat  Widespread breeder in similar habitat to whinchat but does occasionally over-winter. Population vulnerable to cold winters.

Song Thrush  Common breeder. Formerly uncommon in winter but small numbers now seem to overwinter in our cold inland area.

Redwing  Common winter visitor. Huge numbers sometimes seen in autumn (October) can number 10s of thousands. These birds tend to pass through quickly and birds can be sparse in the main part of winter.

Mistle Thrush  Common. Watch for post breeding flocks attracted to bilberry in July and August.

Fieldfare  Passes through in thousands some years during October / November. Depending on berry crops some will stay, but may largely disappear some winters. Return passage is sometimes noticeable as late as early April.

Blackbird  Common breeder. Numbers increase in autumn with wintering continental birds arriving with the other thrush species.

Ring Ouzel  Possible breeder – has in the past. Breeding records would be valuable. Passage migrant particularly in autumn. Late October at the Elan Valley visitor centre car park on mountain ash trees is a good bet, and can be seen close-up if you stay in the car. Or the bottom of the first dam (south side). A huge flock in 2006 of 95 birds.

Garden Warbler  Common  summer visitor arriving in late April

Blackcap  Common summer visitor all over. A few winter records in but not so many as in milder areas.

Lesser Whitethroat  Breeds lower down the Wye with records as close as Builth. A breeding discovery in our area would be a cracking find!

Whitethroat  Localised breeder arriving in late April / early May. Favours scrubby clearfell ed areas in coniferous woods like Caerhyddwen in Nantglas. Can be found anywhere in the area with suitable scrubby habitat.

Sedge Warbler  Localised breeder in similar but damper areas to the whitethroat. Suffers from a lack of suitable habitat in the area.

Grasshopper  Warbler  Arrives in the middle of April. Widespread breeder in suitable habitat. Likes tussocky areas up to and sometimes above 400m above sea level. Also likes clear felled coniferous plantations. Regular at Penrhos,  Llanwrthwl and Nantmel Tip.

Reed Warbler  Very little suitable habitat (reeds!). May breed in the area, records would be appreciated.

Willow Warbler  Common and widespread  breeder arriving in early April.

Wood Warbler   Summer visitor arriving in our oak (mainly) woodlands in the last days of April. Like the Redstart and Pied flycatcher, there is probably nowhere better in the UK for finding these birds, than our study area!

Chiffchaff  Common breeder arriving in mid March. No winter records?

Goldcrest  Common all over in coniferous woodland or small clumps of leylandii. Listen for the song.

Firecrest  There were records from the area in the past. Lots of suitable habitat, few birdwatchers – does it breed? Breeds in the Radnor forest not a million miles away.

Spotted Flycatcher  Widespread breeder arrives from the beginning of May. Easily overlooked.

Pied Flycatcher  Common breeder. If our area has an iconic bird other then kite, this is it! Found in any broad leaved woodland and even in more open areas with boxes. Arrives from the end of the first week of April and completes breeding from the middle of June, at which time it can disappear.

Great Tit  Common

Coal Tit Common

Blue Tit  Common

Marsh Tit  Widespread breeding resident in low numbers. Prefers broadleaved woodland and regularly visits bird tables.

Willow Tit  Less common than Marsh. Breeds in low numbers, confined to coniferous where there are alders or birch elements. The area between Doldowlod – Nantglas – Nantmel is favoured.

Long tailed Tit  Common

Nuthatch  Common

Treecreeper  Common

Great Grey Shrike  Rare winter visitor to the area and  illusive! Prefers clearings in coniferous woodland.  Some evidence of passage in November and March when single birds could be spotted anywhere in the area.

Magpie  Common but perhaps less so than in other lowland areas.

Jay   Common. Best seen in the open from August when hoarding nuts.

Jackdaw  Locally common particularly in Rhayader and Rhayader Quarry.

Rook  A few rookeries in the area including one near the Brynafon Hotel, Rhayader. Birds seen close-up at Gigrin.

Carrion Crow  Common

Raven   Common breeder – studies have shown that mid Wales has the highest density of these fine corvids anywhere on earth. Great views can be had feeding with Kites at Gigrin.

Starling  Common winter visitor but now becoming a scarce breeding bird. Breeding records would be good to have.

House Sparrow  Common in towns and villages but less so in the countryside. Absent from some farms now.

Tree Sparrow  Formerly more widespread but scarcely seen nowadays. A few winter records from Elan valley but no recent records from Gigrin where it was once found. Breeding status  unknown and it could be locally extinct so any records would be great.

Chaffinch  Common

Brambling  Fairly widespread winter visitor associating with chaffinch flocks. More common some years than others. Visits garden feeders with chaffinches particularly when it snows.

Linnet  widespread but declining (?)breeder favouring slopes with gorse.

Lesser Redpoll  Widespread breeder in young conifer plantations especially if mixed with birch. Good numbers usually at Cae garw, Llanwrthwl and Caerhyddwen, Nantglas but could be found anywhere. Now regular visitor to garden feeders and partial to Nyjer seed. Possible evidence of passage birds using feeders in April.

Goldfinch  Common but most disappear in winter.

Greenfinch  Widespread breeder but less so than previously. Hit by disease.

Siskin  Common breeder and visitor to garden feeders (especially Nyjer) all year now.

Bullfinch Widespread breeder but often overlooked.

Hawfinch  Scarce breeder (Elan Valley) and has been seen along the Wye valley. Little is known about its current status locally so records would be great.

Crossbill  Irruptive so can be seen in good numbers some years when it stays on to breed. Confined to coniferous woodland and small clumps of pines. Breeds early so look out for singing males in late winter.

Reed Bunting  Widespread breeder in suitable habitat (rhos / ffridd/ upland slopes/ wet scrub). Numbers decline in winter but it does take to feeding on seed in gardens occasionally.

Yellowhammer  Widespread breeder but declining. Present all year (sedentary). Breeds on rhos – bracken slopes with scattered bushes. Tends to move to the valley bottoms (local movements) for winter, where it can appear feeding on seed in gardens. Evidence of passage in March / April when birds seen away from usual haunts, but these could be our local overwintering birds moving a few km to breeding grounds. Who knows.

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