Since I helped dismantle the old one, the new hide which overlooks the big oxbow lake below Dinefwr Castle has been open all the time. I could have gone there every week last summer and kept up my records of the birds there, but knowing that the gate to the deer park was locked and I had no volunteer role, it just felt too sad.
All that changed when I had a request from the new county Ranger Stuart MacDonell to make some nest boxes, and even better, to put them up, so March began with a joyful walk round the deer park and a session counting the birds on the lake again:
1 Great White Egret
12 Pintails (a first)
4 Tufted Duck
2 Mute Swans
In 2019 I tired to make a case for a big reduction in deer numbers, but it didn’t seem to get anywhere, and with the collapse in venison prices due to the closure of restaurants, I feared numbers would be even higher, so I was delighted to hear that, on the contrary numbers had been substantially reduced, and so had the supplementary feeding.
I soon noticed a change – to something more like natural deer behaviour, with all the does together in one group instead of half of them hanging around with the blokes. Here is the bucks group well away from their previous hang-out.
Winter visits to the river can yield long periods when the only living things to be seen have roots*, but this punky Goosander and an unexpected Tree Creeper raised the spirits.
On the tenth, a promise of sunshine finally gave me an incentive to get up on the mountain. As usual in the winter it was cold, empty and silent but beautiful as ever.
Back at the feeders in the garden, I made up some peanut butter balls, and discovered specialist metal Niger seed feeders. What quarrels these provoked! The Starlings went mad for the peanut butter, and the Goldfinches loved the Niger feeders. We soon had up to eight of them fighting it out for access! With their dark red faces they do look angry but I’d no idea they were so quarrelsome – these are not kissing!
After long gaps between the first sod turned and the beginning of the build, real progress on our new multi-purpose shed was made. It is to be a bird hide, a photo studio and a summer house. I was very pleased to find a local supplier of Douglas Fir waney edge boards.
Two days after travel within Wales was allowed, the forecast look good for a trip to the coast, as described here: http://phototwynog.co.uk/gannets-and-porpoises It was a glorious break and to celebrate, here is another Gannet for you.
On the last day of the month I slashed my way through the brambles and set up a hide again at another favourite place further up the Towy valley. I didn’t expect to see much, so was pleased enough with this common pied wagtail.*OK lichens don’t have roots but you get the drift.