Powys

It was warm as I got out of the car to the cascading trill of a Wood Warbler singing nearby. As I climbed the steep, slate-strewn path the birdlife changed with altitude: Redstarts in the sunlit hawthorns and Curlews in the sheep fields gave way to Siskins calling from conifer plantations, then Skylarks and Meadow Pipits on the open moorland.

In a boggy area constellated with the white heads of cotton-grass three pairs of Lapwings flew up at every passing crow, suggesting that they were protecting young. After some searching through the telescope I found two of them; long-legged balls of fluff, already clearly Lapwings in miniature, with the typical walk–stop–tilt gait of their parents.

A Red Kite, symbol of Powys, drifted silently past, close enough for me to see its yellow eye scanning the ground for food. An everyday occurrence now in Leicestershire, but I’m of the generation of birders who made pilgrimages to Wales to see kites; the sight of one here evokes memories and emotions that the reintroduced English birds never can.

Shortly after the kite two jets flew barely 20 metres above me, followed several seconds later by a deafening wall of sound, trailing them like an invisible shadow and violating the quiet of the hills and valleys. Then they were gone, and the contrast between the manmade ugliness of their noise and the natural beauty of Skylark song and Curlew calls was immense.

Later on, cloud spread in from the west, softening the previously sharp outline of Cadair Idris to a barely discernible shape on the horizon, only slightly darker grey than the sky. The temperature, already cooler up here with the windchill of an easterly breeze, fell yet further, signalling that it was time to return back down to the warmer valley.

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