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.
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.
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
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.
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.