(Note, this is the last of 3 linked posts, but I am publishing them in reverse order so that the first will be at the top as you scroll through.)
The forecast is for the hottest day of the year so far, but at 6:30, parked up in a little village on the other side of the Dyfi, it feels cold. My plan is to follow a footpath from here down to a bend in the river which is nearly opposite the Osprey nest site. It’s about a mile, and I plan to follow the path further and return by a different route, so I pack my smaller wildlife lens – 100-400mm plus a x1.4 extender lens – some iced water in a flask, a snack and some fruit. With binoculars on a sling I still have room to pack the warm fleece I am wearing. Sun hat, boots and thin long trousers complete the assembly and I’m off before seven.
Almost immediately I am up to my waist in long wet grass and plants. Within minutes my trousers are soaked, but it doesn’t matter; I’m walking through gorgeous hay meadows rich in flowers, patches of rough woodland, dykes filled with reeds, Welsh Black cattle watching me curiously; a buzzard flies up from a ploughed field and hides in deep shade. Clearly this path is little used: a broken wooden bridge, branches growing over it. It feels like the dreary animosity between farming and wildlife has dissolved. As I get closer to the river there are birds everywhere – Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Sedge Warblers, Redd Buntings and there they are again – the Osprey family. It’s a lot further away but I am able to see the same vertical take-off practice from the other side. There is a flood bank along the river and I walk slowly behind it until I find a place where I can sit partially concealed. My hope is that one of the birds might fly this way on a fishing trip. The small birds are either curious or affronted at my presence. A group of fledgling Meadow Pipits have little idea what I am. This one even perches on my shoulder for a few seconds! A Sedge Warbler peeps through the leaves; another is collecting food for a second brood down in the sedges just in front of me; a skylark flies past. Who needs Ospreys? This is magic.
Suddenly the stakes are dramatically raised. One of the Ospreys is here, flying over the bend in the river and towards the hill then turning and swooping down back towards the river. It repeats the move, swings out, swoops down and then up. This goes on for several more cycles but there are grasses in the way so I take the risk of moving a little to get a better view. Still the bird hunts, but eventually decides to give up and flies back to the nest site.The pictures are not as sharp as I would like, but the thrill of taking them makes up for that. Eventually I drag myself away westwards along the flood barrier and then through some glorious hilly wooded country with views over the estuary and back to the van. By 10:30 I am on my way home just as all the holiday traffic heading north builds up. I feel smug.