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Ynys-hir RSPB Nature Reserve (Machynlleth)

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Address: Machynlleth / Powys / Wales

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      22.06.2009 17:50
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      A lovely reserve to spend a summer's day out.

      Ynys-hir (long island in Welsh) is a nature reserve owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It is situated on the beautiful River Dyfi estuary near the small town of Machynlleth, Powys. The reserve is signposted from the main road, but drivers should be aware that to get to the car park requires negotiating a long, twisty, single track road. Entry to the reserve costs £3 for adults, £1 for children (or £6 for a family ticket), although RSPB members get in for free.

      Ynys-hir is a large nature reserve, with a wide range of habitats; oak woodland, wet grassland and saltmarsh, so provides a home to a wide variety of plants, animals, and birds.

      All of the special upland birds of Wales breed here; redstart, wood warbler, spotted flycatcher, and the gorgeous pied flycatcher looking like a sparrow in a tuxedo as it flits around hunting flies. A walk through the woodlands in spring or summer is a delight for the senses; bluebells and other woodland flowers are abundant, and the air will be filled with the sound of bird song as the males try to compete for territories and mates.

      The saltmarsh is home to a large number of wading birds, some quite scarce in Wales, including lapwing, curlew, redshank, and ringed plover. Many other species of wading birds visit on their way to their breeding grounds in the arctic.

      Other potential sightings include that lovely white heron, the little egret, and ospreys fishing on the estuary are always a possibility since a pair moved into the Dyfi valley this year. A visit in winter will show the visitor the only flock of white-fronted geese in Wales, feeding on the saltmarsh.

      The scenery of Ynys-hir is absolutely beautiful; from the Welsh oak woodlands on the hillside, to the walks overlooking the estuary, there is something lovely to look at in all directions. Across the estuary, mountains loom above, forming a dark line on the horizon.

      The RSPB has thoughtfully provided no less than seven hides for visitors to view the reserve. These are cleverly designed and are two storeys high giving commanding views. My last visit in May gave me incredibly close views of a pair of swallows; they'd chosen to nest inside the hide (if you see this anywhere, give the birds a wide berth to avoid disturbing them)! To reach the hides involves following two nature trails of 1.5 and 3 miles in length. Both are rough, steep, and wet in parts and unsuitable for wheelchairs.

      The reserve has reasonable facilities. Toilets are available in the car park. There is a great picnic area with panoramic views for visitors to enjoy whilst eating their sandwiches. There is also a small shop, selling the usual RSPB wares such as bird feeders and food, books, DVD's, binoculars etc.

      The shop also sells a very limited range of refreshments, although hot and cold drinks are available (if you want more than a bar of chocolate to eat, take your own food with you).

      If you enjoy a walk in the countryside, with a chance to see some wildlife, then Ynys-hir is a great place to visit. If you're in the area, why not have a look?

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      Expect to find oak woodland with wet grassland and saltmarshes!