Bird recording in the uplands

I am always impressed with how many Continued Personal Development opportunities there are on offer via "find a workshop" and it’s usually just a question of finding a date that fits in with work schedules and will be appropriate for my own level of experience and aspirations. Graham Uney 3 It would be great to be able to schedule in at least 1 x MTA approved CPD workshop each month, as well as the CPD gained from regular working with mixed client groups, training with the local Mountain Rescue Team and delivering Mountain Training skills and award courses. This is sometimes not always achievable when they fall on weekends, which inevitably clash with work dates. So it was a breath of fresh air to see a CPD workshop programmed for a Bank Holiday Monday recently. Perfect – I’m not working with a group and it’s locally based in Northern Snowdonia, so I can fit it around childcare and other commitments. AND I’m taking a little punt by signing up for a CPD course on what was originally titled ‘Bird Recording in the Uplands’.

Ok, I’m not a bird recording expert…but I wholly trust the provider Graham UneyWild Walks Wales to deliver expertly on the subject and it’s a chance to get out for the day, for me, and focus on a subject that I could well do with learning more and more about – to meet personal and professional aspirations of continuing to increase knowledge of, and confidence in talking about, the wonderful birds that greet us everyday as we move through the woods, lowlands and uplands of this area. I’m sold…where’s my field book and binoculars!

For whatever reason, Graham had dropped the concept of ‘Recording’ from his daily brief when we met informally at Moel Siabod Café on the best day of a pretty disappointing May Bank Holiday weather weekend. We were in for a treat of a day focusing on habitat and identifying birdlife, anticipating what we should see and why and hunting out particular venues and habitats to do so. It is always beneficial to share the knowledge you already have with someone who has a deeper level of knowledge and experience in a certain field. Rather than being overwhelmed by all that you don’t know…the successful CPD workshop deliverer will enable you to consolidate what you DO know and add on another layer of knowledge and appreciation that their experience can bring to the (bird) table.

With a background in conservation, garden/grounds maintenance for large organisations and working with the British Trust in Ornithology to help ring and record bird numbers, Graham does hold an impressive level of ornithological knowledge! And it permeated through our day out in such a relaxed and good humoured way that you couldn’t help but be completely compelled to listen, to learn, to share and to take on board more facts and stories about our winged friends in the sky. For they will be there at every level of our walk, and my appreciation of them grows and grows as I learn more about more species, get better at identifying their song, can anticipate where and when we might spy a certain bird and share this knowledge with my daughter and those I work with in the hills. I am forever stopping when I go for run…to see if I can see that bird singing away in the tree…what is it? Was I right?

Graham spent an appropriate amount of time introducing concepts for more successful ‘bird identifying’, including using field manuals more efficiently and listening to and identifying bird song…which is so rich and varied at this time of year, especially amongst the deciduous woodlands of Capel Curig. Despite my current level of knowledge being ‘good and aware of’ it was so refreshing to be able to take a single day and focus on a single subject and indulge in some time outdoors with a different focus and pace. Between us as a group, we saw and heard the following birds (and I may not have the whole list here!) Graham Uney 2
  • Nuthatch,
  • Coal Tit,
  • Pied Flycatcher
  • Wren,
  • Wood Warbler
  • Chiffchaff
  • Dipper
  • Buzzard
  • Peregrine (possibly?)
  • Raven
  • Robin
  • Great Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Cuckoo
  • Stonechat
  • Redstart
  • Wheatear
We walked through woodland, riverside, lowland, scrubby and rocky ground and the change of habitat and birdlife was so clear to see, and all only a few miles from the road in Capel Curig. A perfect venue choice for a more ‘unusual’ (but no less essential) CPD workshop and thanks so much to Graham for putting the day together and sharing it with folk. There’s a little ’twitcher’ in all of us…

Kate Worthington - RAW Adventures
MTA Member and provider of Lowland Leader and Hill & Mountain Skills

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