Monday was the final day of my Christmas holiday and we headed back to Port Eynon to try and get some better photographs of the birds that I had seen there a week ago in atrocious conditions. The clouds were again with us but at least is was dry and visibility was beyond the end of your nose. A quick scan of the car park showed several Song Thrush but not much else. A couple of Ravens were overhead. A look at a small group of Jackdaws by the toilet block (I check all the glamorous locations) came with the added bonus of a Chough. I presume this was the same bird that I had seen around the car park previously and it appeared to have found a good source of food given the eagerness with which it was attacking the bank. Using the building as cover I was able to get very close for some decent pictures.
This reminds me somewhat of a visit to Switzerland where we encountered thirty or so Alpine Chough on, you guessed it, the roof of some public conveniences.
Out in the bay the three Brent Geese were still exploring the shoreline as was the single Grey Plover and a Redshank. A flock of ten Ringed Plover and three Turnstone were very mobile on the exposed rocks while a scan of the bay came up with a single Common Scoter and a Shag. Shags aren’t all that common around this coast so it was great to pick one up so early in the year.
We walked along the coast past Overton and on to the stubble fields of Paviland in the hope of connecting with a flock of Skylark and Lapland Bunting that had been seen there the day before. Our hopes were raised as we reached the first field to see a large flock of small birds flying overhead. These hopes rapidly receded however as they continued on their way inland and out of sight. I have tried my best to identify them from the books but haven’t been able to with any degree of accuracy so they will have to remain a ‘what might have been’. The possible reason for their departure showed itself not long after as a Merlin swept past putting the various flocks of Starlings and Lapwing into the air. A suitable compensation sighting I’m sure you’ll agree. Other birds in the fields included several Redwing and five Golden Plover. I seem to be seeing those wherever I go at the moment!
We finished off the day at Llanrhidian marsh. Within minutes of arriving we were watching three Hen Harriers (one male and two females) hunting in front of us as they prepared to settle down to roost for the night. The female birds were by far the most active with one coming as close as I have seen this year. It turned out that the spot we had chosen turned out to be an excellent one from which to watch the various movements of birds in the fading light. Apart from the Harriers we saw three separate flocks of Greylag Goose coming from north east to south west. I have seen this occur several times previously and I assume they are heading to somewhere on Gower. Where though I have no idea. Around the same time hundreds if not thousands of Starlings were streaming in the opposite direction as they moved to their roost site somewhere near Llanelli. One sad sight was the single Little Egret that was using their usual roost tree. In the past I have seen up to twenty birds there which may be a reflection of how the Egrets have suffered during the cold snap. Only time will tell I guess.