I’m becoming very conscious that I keep talking about the weather in these posts and I’m afraid that this one is going to be no different (I am English though so that probably has a lot to do with it)! After dodging the worst yesterday it seemed that the weather gods had done their research a bit more thoroughly on this occasion and were intent on making up for lost time. The rain was almost horizontal with vast waves of it being driven across the landscape which when combined with the mist and fog put visibility at the official category of “Don’t bother even attempting any photography”. Determined not to be beaten I donned full waterproofs very aware that for the next seven days I was going to be on call from work and wouldn’t be able to venture far from the house. Destination of choice was Port Eynon as in the recent past the bay has really turned up the goods when conditions are less than favorable. I even attempted one of my typical panoramas that I take when the hope of finding anything more interesting to photograph is slim to none.
Emma spotted the first bird of the day in the shape of a Great Northern Diver fishing just off the rocks that make up Sedger’s Bank. This had been reported on Saturday as well so it was great that it was still around. I am used to seeing this species up on the Isle of Mull in the summer so it was strange to see one in its less distinct winter plumage. While watching we saw it catch a large fish and also what appeared to be a Starfish or a crab. Whatever it was it had several legs. I attempted a couple of distant record shots that unsurprisingly turned out to be less than stellar.
Much more satisfying however is the short video that I also recorded. It’s amazing how a bit of movement can bring a scene alive.
Elsewhere the rocky shore was alive with birds including an usual Little Egret. I have seen one there before but only on the one occasion. Also unusual was the presence of six Grey Plover, a good increase from the single bird that has been there for the last month or so. It has obviously got the message out that Port Eynon is the place to be. Ringed Plover numbers were also very good with approximately 25 individuals scurrying around, including a couple that looked to be in full summer plumage. Turnstone numbers were lower at around ten but mixed in with them was a brilliant Purple Sandpiper. After my solitary sighting at Whitford Point after Christmas it was great to find one at the start of 2011 as well. Other single waders included a Sanderling and a Dunlin, all of which were huddling together with the other wader species allowing for some excellent size comparisons.
While we were watching the Great Northern Diver a fabulous Gannet came gliding into the bay. It traveled roughly about half the way in before traversing its entire length and then back again. We watched it for a good while even being fortunate to see it dive after a fish. How it could see anything below the surface in these churned up waters though is beyond me.
Before I go I should also mention that the Little Egret roost tree at Llanrhidian Marsh was looking much healthier yesterday evening with six birds settled down for the night. This is a great improvement on the one I saw a couple of week ago and is hopefully a sign that the population has survived the December cold snap. Tonight there were nine birds circling with another already in the tree.