After the glorious weather of the weekend it was back to earth with a bump as our return to Wales heralded the end of the sun and the arrival of the fog. Monday was a day of misty rain and blustery winds and certainly not one for any lengthy walks or decent photography. As a result we decided to pay a visit to the local WWT site at Llanelli as it had been a couple of months since we last had a chance to look around. Previously we had been managing a visit once every week or so, but due to the season and ongoing maintenance work the birds simply weren’t around to warrant very regular trips.
Battling against the elements we headed first to the British Steel Hide to take a look at the new earthworks that have been put in place to maintain the water levels in the lagoon once the tide goes out. The previous structure had become far too leaky to keep any water in at all, leading to a rather baked and barren expanse of dry mud with very little interest to anything. The new barrier is now complete and is doing a very good job. Some new mudflats have developed nicely and look to be proving a big hit with the Lapwing and Redshank. It was nice to see that some of the Black Tailed Godwits had also made the trip round to the new areas as I hadn’t seen them from this hide in the past. The barrier itself still needs to mature and gain some vegetation, but Black Headed, Herring andLesser Black Backed Gulls were all making great use of it as a roosting site. As with Rutalnd Water the day before, much of the wildfowl in the shape of Gadwall and Shellduck were once again in eclipse plumage. It was very nice to see a couple of Widgeon still hanging around as well. It shouldn’t be too long now before the large flocks start arriving back at the site. I would love to witness the moment when they arrive for the first time but I think the chances of that are rather slim. I will however have my camera with me this year so hope to capture some good shots of these fabulously colourful birds.
Elsewhere on the reserve things were very quiet, with barely nothing on the main central pool. Indeed even the Shellduck numbers seemed to be well down on what I would normally expect. Although the pair of Spoonbills that have been frequenting the area had been seen in the morning, by the time we arrived they had long since headed out onto the Burry Inlet to feed. It was nice to see a few Chiffchaff however, as well as Blackcap and Bullfinch. The Sand Martins were also showing very well, filling the air above the water along with a few juvenile Swallows.
The only other bird of note seen was a single Kingfisher out by the new hide in the Millennium Wetlands. Fortunately it didn’t seem to mind the strimming that was going on around the pool unlike all of the other birds who had quickly scarpered.
Despite the ongoing works at the site, we still managed to record 42 different species even with some notable absences such as Pochard and Little Egret. I’d recommend another couple of weeks before starting to make regular visits again as I intend to. The improvements that are being made are going to be brilliant come the autumn and winter, but for now the birds need a chance to settle and regather once things have quietened down.