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Friday seems to have become my day for a walk around the Local Nature Reserve of Fairy Glen, Old Colwyn. It is just a short walk from my current workplace, the busy post office, and very handy for an hour of fresh air and a chance to catch up with the progress of the season. The following pictures are those I took on the last Friday of March in less than an hour.

Bluebells are beginning to open

The wild garlic, or ramsons, is also showing one or two blooms

The horse chestnut leaves have grown significantly since last Friday and there are already flower buds appearing

It was quite a dull, cool day compared with last Friday and shady in the woodland. I didn’t have very long to linger, so I headed straight for the sycamore tree where the nuthatch and  blue tit pairs are nesting. I was hoping to get some better views of a nuthatch, but although I could hear the male’s distinctive calling from close by and followed his movements through the trees, he stayed away from the actual nest site. However, the blue tits were working hard furnishing the nest box and I had some lovely views of them both with beaks stuffed with moss.

The blue tit was waiting to carry material into the nest box

I carried on along the path, watching out for great tits, a species that I have heard calling and singing and seen here, but that continues to elude my camera. There was a pair flitting about in the trees and shrubbery close to the path, but they don’t stay still or visible for long. I did manage to get a quick shot of the male which is not great but included for the record.

The male great tit has a much broader black breast stripe than the female

Following after the great tits I stepped off the path a short way and caught a glimpse of bird in a tangle of brambles that turned out to be a male blackcap, yet another species to add to the list for this small area of woodland. He disappeared very quickly and quietly, but then I realised there was another bird in there too, a single long-tailed tit. As I stood watching it emerged from its cover and spent quite a few minutes foraging around the twiggy branches of a nearby small tree, allowing me some lovely close views.

Long-tailed tit, front view

Long-tailed tit from the back

A privileged view of a lovely bird. Long-tailed Tit – Aegithalos cordatus

The recent dry and warm weather has been a treat, but the effect of lack of rainfall is very evident in the current shallowness of the river. I wandered along the path,  lost in contemplation about water levels and was taken completely by surprise when, rounding a bend I spotted a pair of grey wagtails hunting in the shallow water. I have  no idea if this was the same pair that I have seen lower downstream, although I suspect it may be. I watched them flitting gracefully over the water, balancing on small rocks and darting out to chase flies, flashing their yellow underparts as they lived up to their name, wagging their long tails. A man and a dog finally disturbed them and they flew up into  nearby trees before heading back downstream.

Male grey wagtail showing a small amount of black around the throat area

Where the kingcups are  growing there is now also a large clump of  yellow flowered arum. This is an exotic plant of South African origin, but clearly flourishing in the boggy ground of this part of the riverbank.

An arum with large leaves and a yellow sheath; this is Lysichiton americanus

Close by I watched a male chaffinch hunting around an area of shallow water that then flew up into some twiggy shrubbery overhanging the water. He was gorgeous, plump and healthy and with a shiny beak and strong vibrant colours.

A colourful male chaffinch that was foraging on the riverbank before flying up onto a low shrub

The vibrantly coloured chaffinch from the front. Chaffinch – fringilla coelebs; the ‘coelebs’ translates as ‘bachelor bird’.

Further along the path I stopped to watch a subduedly plumaged female chaffinch searching the ground for nesting material. She picked up what I think may be strands of dog hair; holding them in her beak she flew up to a tree branch away from me.

The female Chaffinch is much more subtle in her appearance