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.

23875 - Port Eynon, Gower

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.

23874 - Great Northern Diver, Port Eynon

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.

23871 - Turnstone, Port Eynon

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.


holdingmoments · January 17, 2011 at 4:39 am

That looks pretty bleak in the first shot Adam, but you managed to find some good birds in the end.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) · January 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I like weather reports! Your bird pictures are great in spite of the fog — thanks for going out in it and sharing your very successful day of birding.

Have you ever been able to get a shot of the dunlins "swooping"? When we stay in Oregon (on a Lake) we see flocks them twisting and turning as if the whole flock were one body. It's beautiful to watch them catch the light as they swoop. But I've never been able to get a picture.

Martha Z · January 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm

That diver has some pretty rough water to contend with. I've only recently learned that the their cousins, the loons, winter off the California coast.

Adam Tilt · January 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I haven't unfortunately Sallie. We don't get numbers big enough where I live for them to form into those flocks. I'd love to see it though.

And Martha the water certainly was rough. Almost got caught by one of the waves whilst filming that video.

Springman · January 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Beautiful post. You sure know how to make the best of a marginal day. It must be incredible to be around the ocean. Your video just took me there! ;-)WBW

theconstantwalker · January 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm

A bird on my must see list. We had a local juvenile a few weeks ago but work made me miss it. One day……………

mick · January 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I think all birders are very aware of the weather! – especially when it affects photos! The shorebirds all sound interesting but I would certainly like to see the ones we don't see down here in Australia – Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper and Dunlin.

Unknown · January 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Hi Adam. I thought you could tell a Cdn by the word "Eh" and the fact he talks about the weather all the time. Nice recovery on the later shots. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River.

Adam Tilt · January 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Looks like I haven't been boring anyone by mentioning the weather then which is always good. This past weekend just goes to show that there is still plenty to see out there when conditions are less than favorable.

Sondra · January 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm

The video really brings it all to life, that seemed a rough sea for sure..love the Turnstone shots too!

Arija · January 19, 2011 at 1:26 am

Your diver looks much like our darter, low in the water with a splayed tail mainly under water and a slim, sleek bird over all.

Where would we be if we didn't have the weather to gripe about?

Lana Gramlich · January 20, 2011 at 4:41 am

Lovely photos! The purple sandpiper sounds wonderful.
(I've always wanted to go to Wales, btw.)

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