Updated 28 September 2018 - New blog post - The #PeoplesWalkforWildlife

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Parc Slip - 2/2/2014 - In search of the elusive kingfisher!

  • Distance - 6 miles
  • Weather - Showery with a bit of sun. Quite chilly though.
  • Location - Parc Slip, Aberkenfig, Bridgend CF32 0EW

Over the last few days I had noticed on Parc Slip's Facebook page that a few people had spotted a kingfisher paying regular visits to the reserve. Seeing as I have never seen a kingfisher I thought it was time to go looking for this beautiful bird.

The reserve was very easy to find (just off junction 36 off the M4) and we arrived about 10.30am. We parked in the car park (which can cater for over 15 cars) located next to the visitor centre. We had literally just locked the car and sorted out our rucksacks when the heavens opened! It was coming down really heavy so we ran to the visitor centre and had a pot of tea, we sat on 2 comfy seats looking out on to the pond and an array of bird feeders. Feeling glum with the rain, we soon cheered up when we were treated to visiting Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Robins all enjoying the food the centre puts out for them. There were lots of birds, even a moorhen was making use of the bird tables, but unfortunately no sign of the kingfisher (which I know had actually been seen from the visitor centre).

A Moorhen enjoying the food on one of the feeding platforms. Taken from the visitors centre.

To our relief it wasn't long before the rain stopped and, after finishing our teas (one English breakfast, one Earl Grey), it was time to explore!

The lovely visitor centre, full of information about the reserve and how to join The Wildlife Trust.
It also has a lovely  Cafe too and perfect for bird watching :)

The first thing you come across in Parc Slip is a massive sculpture of a badger coming out of it's sett. It's so cool :) He's only been there since 10th January and he his beautiful! There are a few other sculpture's there, including a really charming insect hotel too.

Dan and I with the awesome badger sculpture

Here he his, coming out of his sett :)

A really impressive insect hotel

It's a lovely place with lots of different paths and hidden areas to explore. After walking down a path that was parallel to a stream. We came across the first hide, which overlooks a big wade with an island in the middle. We sat here for awhile and watched a few Mallard and Teal on the water, but not much more.

A lovely path with trees on a each side and a stream running parallel to it.

The view from the first hide we encounter.

After leaving here we walked around a huge field that was occupied by Highland Cattle. This field is known as the Lapwing field and the Highland Cattle are here to improve the habitat for lapwing. They graze on the ground and this creates short turf which the lapwing likes

The Highland Cattle seem to be enjoying their time in Parc Slip

After walking around this field we came to another hide.  This one overlooked the Wader Scrape and I knew from reading Facebook the Kingfisher had been spotted here. So we went inside (the only ones there) and sat and waited. 10 minutes must have past, but nothing.  We did however see a flock of Long Tailed Tits which was a treat, but no sign of Mr Kingfisher. To the right of the hide was a fantastic rusty coloured fungi on a branch...but little else of interest appeared. With a big sigh and coming to terms that bird watching can be equally frustrating as it is rewarding we decided to see what else the reserve had to offer.
Dan waiting patiently in the hide.

The fungi which I think is called Velvet Shank.

There are so many paths you can explore that it's hard to really explain which route we took, by accident we found ourselves reach the other side of the pond (where the first hide had been). So we saw it from a different angle.

The view from the hide.

A better pic showing how beautiful the wetland is there.

Outside the hide was once again bird feeders which attracted a few birds, I managed to get this lovely pic of a Great Tit waiting in the tree.

Beautiful Great Tit

Along a winding path again we walked and walked, taking it all in - There were bird life everywhere and also the first glimpse of Spring...a Primrose :)

Dan walking down one of the paths.

Spring is on it's way...A Primrose :)

Finally we got to what looked like the end of the path and a gate that lead onto a road.  Not sure which way to go, we saw a lovely gentleman who told us to walk down the road about half a mile and we could get back into Parc Slip but from a different direction. So this is what we did.  The road wasn't very busy (but it was a Sunday) - Eventually we arrived at another entrance to Parc Slip. A nice wooden sign welcomed us and more maps to find our way round.

 An alternative way into Parc Slip.

There was a good tarmac path to follow and after we walked beneath a row of firs we came out into marshland. This was an ideal spot to stop and have a sandwich.

We sat on a bench and as we tucked into our packed lunch we noticed a Blue Tit in a nearby tree, then there was a Chaffinch, a Long Tailed Tit, Great Tits - We soon noticed that in the tree not far from the picnic table was a feeder with fat balls. They were enjoying them, unfazed that we were there. Watch the video below to see them enjoying the fat balls...

So after finishing our sandwiches and enjoying the bird show we set off again. Passing a sign for the National Cycle Route 4 - This is actually the route from London to Fishguard, and runs through Reading, Bath, Bristol, Newport, Swansea, Llanelli and St David's

Route 4 of the National Cycle Network passes through the site.

Off we set again, this time downhill and this time we was walking parallel to a railway track. Here we past old oaks and Hawthorns. Also various information signs explaining what we might see.  One of the signs was for adders, which is very exciting...unfortunately no sign of any snakes today.

After walking along the path for about a mile we came across a memorial for the miners of Parc Slip coal mine. The reserve was once a coal mine which opened in 1860's and was owned by Ogmore Coal and Iron Company until 1889, it was then taken over by North Navigation Company. In August 1892 an explosion in the mine killed 112 men and boys. A relief fund raised money to help the bereaved families. From the 1960s the site began to transform into farmland and wildlife habitats with the help from the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust. in 1999 the site was handed to the trust.

The memorial built for the miners who lost their lives in 1892. 112 rocks represents each man or boy.

After paying our respects to the miners we made our way back up to the centre again. We had to past various fields on the way, one field was full of dead sunflowers which means in the summer this will be spectacular. We also past a huge piece of land that seemed to be in the middle of construction, we saw a sign on the fence which read the following...

Very exciting stuff and definitely worth coming back to see...

What the scrapes look like now...

We were starting to feel tired at this point and after a quick look in the Wader Scrape for the Kingfisher (no sign again) we decided to walk back around to the visitor centre, calling into the first hide we visited. It started raining really bad and while we were sitting in there noticed a bird on a fence. We then realised it was a Green Woodpecker. A beautiful bird looking dramatic in the rain. Once the rain stopped we headed back to the car.

The Green Woodpecker enjoying the rain.

Once back at the car we had one final look for the Kingfisher, but again nothing :(  - Even though we didn't see the elusive bird we had an awesome time at Parc Slip. If it's like this in January it can only get better throughout the year, and this is one place I want to come back to again and again.

I have read that some of the species that visit include brown hares, lapwings, adders and great crested newts. I have also read that they have 20 species of dragonfly and 26 of butterfly so it's defiantly a place I am going to enjoy when the weather is a bit warmer.

The sweet sound of a Robin sings us farewell

Parc Slip is free to enter and also as free parking, but there is a donation box which everyone should use to help with the upkeep of this fantastic reserve. I can't recommend this place enough...it's so full of wildlife and the walks can be as long or short as you wish. It's worth noting that across the road from the visitor centre the reserve carries on - which is something we will definitely do next time :) - They also do events throughout the year and this too is something I am looking forward to do :)

Birds Spotted:
  • Blue Tit
  • Blackbird
  • Sparrow
  • Great Tit
  • Coal Tit
  • Robin
  • Long Tailed Tit
  • Green Woodpecker
  • Dunnock
  • Mallard
  • Chaffinch
  • Teal
  • Buzzard

Check out their offical website and Facebook pages for more info :)