The Taf Fechan Nature Reserve lies on the upper reaches of the River Taff, near Merthyr Tydfil. I became familiar with the area during my time living in Merthyr in the 1990s. I decided to head up there today, hoping to photograph the Dippers that occur along this fast-flowing narrow upland river.
On the long trek up from the town centre, I spotted a crow devouring this unfortunate frog:
Nearing the reserve, I saw one, and heard another, male Redstart, in the hawthorn trees on the slopes of Morlais Castle - my first sightings of this species this year.
The area has been quarried in the past, as can be seen from this shot:
On the highest point in the above picture are the remains of a castle, and there are great views of the Brecon Beacons from the top, although I didn't go up there this time. I continued on past the Pontsarn Viaduct (which once carried the Brecon and Merthyr Railway)
and climbed down into the valley to the banks of the river. I have managed one or two decent Dipper shots here before, so I went to where I had had success with this species before
and set up a camouflage screen between two trees to hide me from any passing birds. Unfortunately, there was no sign of any Dippers in a wait of about three hours, so I gave up, packed my things away, and headed downstream. On hearing voices, I looked across stream, and saw two fellows setting up camera gear by a small waterfall flowing into the main river. They then disappeared under a bag hide, and I saw a Dipper fly close by, so they were clearly photographing a Dippers' nest. So that's where my birds had gone! It was all rather disappointing, having gone all this way for virtually nothing, so I contented myself with a few more floral shots, including this one of the uncommon Toothwort, which grows here as a parasite on the roots of Hazel bushes:
and a couple of pictures of the ubiquitous Lesser Celandine:
A quick detour, then, to Cyfarthfa Park, and a couple of pics of Cyfarthfa Castle
before heading home, tired and rather fed up!