Regular readers of this blog may recall the excellent run of rarities that Eglwys Nunydd reservoir threw up around September time last year, including a Bobolink, Grey Phalarope and Whiskered Tern, all of which I managed to see. This weekend the industrial water body was back on form in a big way.
We arrived in somewhat overcast conditions but the sun soon came out as we were treated to three superb Reed Buntings in bushes along the bank. In the bay next to the locked gate were two Little Grebes that briefly raised our heart beats given the identity of one of our target species for the day. Also present was a single Wigeon amongst the various other waterfowl, probably the only time that I can recall ever having seen one on its own. Our walk around the perimeter involved much scanning of the large Tufted Duck rafts until we hit gold with a fantastic male Greater Scaup. Moments later we were on to a second, but this time much closer. The size difference with their smaller cousins was clear to see, whilst the sun was helping to show off the green sheen to their heads brilliantly. A few hundred meters further on and Emma spotted the second small Grebe species of the day in the shape of a Slavonian Grebe, a life tick for her and only my second ever. Compared to my very distant views from December of one off Whitford Point this bird was practically in our laps, although rather inconveniently still just out of range of my camera. We watched it float along for a good while, taking in its winter plumage to the full, aware that we would be very lucky to get such good views of one again any time soon. If those two cracking species aren’t enough for you then there has also been a Lesser Scaup putting in sporadic appearances over the last week but we didn’t spot it. Elsewhere on the water several pairs of Great Crested Grebe were beginning to flirt with each other using their fantastic mirror dance technique. At the moment it is all a bit half hearted but it is a definite sign that Spring is on its way.
While in the area we also popped over to Kenfig to see if we could reconnect with the flock of Pink Footed Geese. Unfortunately their favored field was empty due to the presence of a dog, but as we were driving back they flew overhead coming from the direction of Kenfig Pool. I believe they have now turned up at Ogmore further down the coast so it remains to be seen if they will return.
Our next stop was at Bracelet Bay on Gower. By now the early morning clouds had cleared and for the first time in ages the sun was out and we had blue sky. Being a tad conscious that this blog was rapidly turning into something populated entirely by night shots I was eager to get in some bird photography. 16 Mediterranean Gulls were in a raft on the sea but one posed incredibly well on a lamppost in the car park. A surprised looking Wood Pigeon was equally obliging.
The afternoon was spent down at Oxwich Bay with the main purpose being to try out the new bird hide. I have always found the reserve there a bit of an enigma as I knew there was plenty of wildlife present but could never really work out where you were supposed to see it from. That has all changed now with the addition of a large new hide looking over a prime piece of habitat. Hen Harriers are regular visitors as seen by Caroline, and which we unfortunately just missed. It was nice to see some Teal and a male Shoveler though. Out in the dunes a Green Woodpecker gave me the runaround, as did a pair of Mistle Thrushes.
Today was spent mostly at the house where we were treated to a bit of a raptor fest. Mid-morning found four Buzzards circling over the garden (one of which was extremely pale), while this afternoon we were treated to three Red Kites.
I have never seen this many birds of prey over our hill before but I certainly hope that it will continue. That wasn’t the end though as an afternoon walk along the Loughor foreshore delivered a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. Given that we seemed to be on a roll I kept my eyes peeled for an early migrating Osprey. No luck there but it must only be a matter of time.