On one of the last days that truly felt like Autumn in late October, I found myself wandering the leaf lined trails in the Forest Farm Nature Reserve. Whenever I visit it’s always tantalisingly full of my favourite woodland birds – chaffinches, blue tits, nuthatches, treecreepers, the list goes on. But one bird has always evaded my infrequent visits – the infamous Kingfisher.
In Welsh it’s name is ‘glas y dorlan’ which (according to my sources!) means ‘blue of the undercut bank’ – illustrating it’s electric blue feathers and preference for our waterways. I’ve always had a fondness for them, some hazy memories from my childhood remembering them dashing along the brooks where I grew up. After hearing that these woodlands were my best shot of seeing them, they were always on my list of ‘would love to see’ birds.
Whilst slowly meandering through the trees at Forest Farm, I keep my ears and eyes open for any noises or any darting shapes through the trees. I often say this, but a walk through the woods is a really great way to let go of life’s pressures and tuning in to something else. Just letting nature do it’s thing, and allowing yourself the opportunity to experience it by letting everything go and letting your senses do their thing.
Finding A Kingfisher
I stop by the hides which overlook two different pools, these are famously the haunts of the kingfishers but I often spy other birds there, moorhens and jays, the occasional chiffchaff in the reeds. A confident robin cheeps away, scurrying into the hedges as a buzzard soars by, mobbed by crows. I was certainly kept entertained whilst waiting to see if I could catch a glimpse of the resident kingfishers.
Finally my patience pays off, a few hours enjoying what the woods had to offer and a flicker of blue caught my eye. A nudge from a fellow birder got me looking in the right direction and there she was! Something I learnt through reading is that female kingfishers have orange parts on their bills, whereas males have all black. It was great seeing her on the perch enjoying the sun, just taking in all of her jazzy coloured glory.
If you’re also on the look out for one of Cardiff’s most colourful characters, Forest Farm is your best bet to find them. They can also be spotted in the autumn and winter months dashing up and down the Taff through Bute Park. But for a closer look at this fancy little bird, head to the hides at Forest Farm, and even if you don’t find them, you can enjoy the rest of what the woodlands has to offer.
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