Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taf Fechan Nature Reserve

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!


  1. Shame about the dipper! Very nice shots of the Lesser Celandine though.

  2. Shame to have missed the dipper but that river shot is just beautiful. It reminds me of the area where I lived for many years and used to see the dipper regularly in the winter - she moved up river in summer to breed.

  3. Yes, shame I didn't get any Dipper pics. I was watching a programme with Iolo Williams last night, and the area where they were filming Dippers looked very like the area near Merthyr I visited. Perhaps it was them I saw filming the Dippers from a hide, or maybe locally-based wildlife photographer, Andy Rouse, who has been after Dippers recently!?

  4. Beautiful river photo ... It is so serene The castle and hills are so lovely!
    When I first gazed at the frog, I thought it was alive, until I realized....Great shots!!