When people write up reports about activities at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway any mention of the wildlife seen along the line tends to come in the last couple of sentences. Many of our visitors are delighted by what they see from the train so this time around the ornithological bit will be at the start ….
If I had the birdwatcher’s equivalent of an Ian Allen “Combined Volume” I would have had a busy time underlining my “cops” last week. On a couple of days there was a heron in the River Banwy at The Kink. On two occasions I saw green woodpeckers in the Heniarth area. Wednesday’s best spot for me was a greater spotted woodpecker along the straight between Dirty Lane and Sign Hut Curve. A few minutes later near School Mistress’s cottage a jay abandoned its perch in a line side tree and flew to the south bank of the river. On the next trip the passengers on the front balcony were wowed by a buzzard that flew low over the fields.
On the outward leg of the second trip on Thursday there was red kite circling around on the approach to Dolarddyn Road. The sun was high in the sky and the kite cast a huge ominous shadow on the newly mown hay.
Later the same day I managed to sneak up on some swallows resting on the railings near the Dougal Shed and take a few pictures -it was a shame that I only have my tatty compact camera. As in other years they have nests in the oil store, the Dougal Shed and even the engine shed where there is one just above the main doors.
If you then lump in the sparrows, backbirds, crows, rooks, magpies, hundreds of jackdaws and then all the smaller birds that are often impossible to accurately identify from a moving train then this small part of Mid Wales is a great place to do a bit of bird watching.
But I have yet to see a kingfisher at Mill Curves …..
Elsewhere along the line hay and silage making is in full swing and in the woods at Golfa/Sylfaen Summit logging operations are taking place. On Thursday there was an off -road timber transporter gathering up felled timber but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera to hand.
And so onto the news about what was happening on the railway.
Countess was pulling the trains which were moderately loaded with Tuesday being the busiest day. She is not steaming particularly well but it was my experience that if a big enough fire was build well before it was actually required then she would perform adequately.
On Tuesday The Earl had a new set of brake blocks fitted.
There is steady progress on 699.01 Sir Defaldwyn although there has not been any visible step change for a while. The new tanks and bunker are nearing completion at the Brunswick Ironworks and will be delivered either later this month or in early July.
At Llanfair a new foot crossing was being installed across the line between the platform and the Dougal Shed.
The ash pit was was full and bursting, some was wheel barrowed away and the remainder loaded into a Bowaters wagon for disposal along the line.
You will find more pictures over on Flickr.