One of my favorite haunts these last few winters has been the River Ogmore near Bridgend. Why winter in particular I hear you ask? Well firstly it is a lot quieter than the summer months meaning that the chances of watching wildlife are greatly increased, and secondly because winter is the time of year that Goldeneye’s make their annual return. This year is no different with around fifteen individuals already patrolling up and down the river near its estuary.
The picture above was taken on Sunday and captures the winter colours being reflected in the water perfectly. You might also be able to pick out a male Gadwall that has sneaked its way into shot, one of two on the river at the moment and a bird I don’t often see on these stretches of water. Other unusual species included six female Goosanders (by far the largest group I have ever seen here), a female Red Breasted Merganser and a stunning male Pintail. The waterfowl numbers don’t end there though with fourteen overflying Wigeon, at least a hundred Mallards, around thirty Teal and three Little Grebe. As we were visiting at low tide the expanses of fresh mud along the banks served as an excellent attraction to the regions waders. The local specialty of Redshank were ever present and being as argumentative with each other as always, whilst four Dunlin (including one with a limp for some reason), seven Turnstone and three Common Snipe were also seen. I had hoped to bump into some Purple Sandpipers as the area around the river-mouth is supposed to be very good for them, but I once again drew a blank as in previous years. After my success with Bittern at Kenfig finally under my belt however it can only be a matter of time. If anyone is heading down to have a look for themselves it is worth mentioning that two Water Pipits were reported over the weekend. I’ll admit that I am not an expert on identifying Pipits beyond the more usual Meadow and Rock varieties but it is definitely worth keeping an eye out.
On the way back home we stopped in at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir which to my surprise was at least half frozen. The result was that most of the ducks were concentrated into one smallish area to the back of the sailing club. Picking through the hundreds of Tufted Ducks I happened upon a superb male Scaup. I always find it striking how much bulkier and larger Scaup are to the very similar Tuftys. There were also a couple of Great Crested Grebes fishing and at least ten Pochard. Even better though was the flock of twenty one Goldeneye hanging out towards the rear of the rest of the birds. It looks like I have another great spot to get my Goldeneye fix now then.
One advantage of this freezing weather has been the stunning clear blue skies that have accompanied it. Sunday was no different which resulted in a fantastic sunset over the reservoir.
Somewhere amongst those dots is the Scaup if you fancy an impossible challenge. As for me I am off to curl up by the fire in the hope of shaking off my throat infection, something which walking around in sub zero temperatures seems to have made rather worse.