I recently spent four days working on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. For those who do not know this line; it is situated in Mid Wales and runs, as the name suggests, from the market town of Welshpool to the little town of Llanfair Caereinion.
Whilst there are no mountains in the vicinity the line runs through hilly countryside and tackles some ferocious gradients including a long climb at 1 in 29 (3.4%) up the Golfa Bank
Passing through agricultural land there is always plenty to see. The fields are either used for grazing sheep and cattle or for growing the food needed to feed then through the winter months – hay, silage, barley and forage maize.
There are always plenty of birds to be seen and for avid bird watchers who enjoy ticking off bird species then our railway is a ‘must visit’ destination. The cab of the locomotive at the front of the train provides a wonderful observatory.
One morning we were descending Golfa Bank when a buzzard emerged from the undergrowth struggling to get airborne with a sizeable rabbit in its talons. With a train closing in behind it decided the best option was to drop the cargo and get out of the way. When we came past in the other direction the rabbit had gone so presumably our feathered friend had been back and collected it.
An attempt at listing the birds I saw that were worthy of note:
Buzzards – lots
Ref kite – in the Castle Caereinion area
Jay – below Golfa Summit
Swallows – everywhere including nesting in the workshops and various storage buildings
Blue tits – there is a nest that a pair are accessing through a tiny hole in the back wall of Colinette Yarns premises
Great tit – there was a very tame one about the station platform at Llanfair Ceareinion
Herons – either flying or on or about the River Banwy but I also saw one on the railway track in The Kink; probably looking for tiny frogs.
Also worth a mention were a couple of juvenile rooks seen at different locations hopping along the sleeper ends along with parent minders trying to teach them how to forage for food. It would have been quite amusing to stop and watch them for a while …. but I think the passengers might have objected.