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.

23927 - Mediterranean Gull, Bracelet Bay, Gower
23930 - Wood Pigeon, Bracelet Bay, Gower

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.

23931 - Red Kite, Pontarddulais
23932 - Red Kite, Pontarddulais

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.


holdingmoments · February 28, 2011 at 5:30 am

A great selection of birds Adam, and some good bonus ones thrown in.
Love the shots of the Red Kites; always a great sight to see these riding the air.

Adam Tilt · February 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

Thanks Keith. It's hard to beat the sight of a Red Kite against a blue sky.

Sondra · February 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thats a very impressive sightings list for ONE outing..adore the Mediterranean Gull and the KITE is a beauty!

Springman · March 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Marvelous post Adam! I can feel the excitement as spring warms your haunts with fresh species!

Unknown · March 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Beautiful photos, Adam. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Arija · March 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm

What a great day of twitching you had whit nice shots to take home. The Mediterranean gull is quite fetching with it's sooty black head.

theconstantwalker · March 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Lovely images Adam. I love the Red Kites and was lucky enough to see one a couple of years ago here in Cheshire.

mick · March 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

A great mix of birds for the one day. The Gull against the blue sky is really beautiful.

joo · March 1, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Terrific post! Hope you're right and spring is really close:)

Hilke Breder · March 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Adam, I would switch places with you in a heart beat! Such great sightings, and some nice photos too.

Anonymous · March 2, 2011 at 4:26 am

Great collection of photos!

Stewart M · March 2, 2011 at 7:10 am

3 red kites! – when I still lived in the UK that would have been a life times worth of viewing! Some things seem to changed for the better!

Stewart M – Australia (late of Somerset, Northumbria, Yorkshire and Cumbria!)

eileeninmd · March 3, 2011 at 12:53 am

Great birds and sightings!

Adam Tilt · March 3, 2011 at 9:41 am

Thanks everyone for the kind words.

Sondra – It was certainly a very good day.

Springman – Can't wait for the spring migrants to start arriving en-mass.

Gary – Thanks very much. Glad you liked them.

Arija – I think the Med Gulls are the best looking of the gull species that we get here.

Andrew – Can't beat Red Kites.

Mick – Thanks. That's the first blue sky in about two weeks I think.

Joo – I hope so too!

Hilke Breder – It's a fantastic area around here.

Bailey-road – Thanks.

Stewart – I can remember when I used to holiday in Wales as a child and there were only a few pairs left. Their numbers have rocketed now and it's a rare day that you don't see any which is fantastic.

Eileeninmd – Thanks.

Larry · March 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Beautiful shots Adam. The Red Kites in flight are magnificent! Are their numbers back on the rise over there?

All your photos are super but no one mentioned that beautiful Wood Pigeon! I, for one, have never seen a Wood Pigeon and, although it may be common to some, it is a beautiful rarity to this birder 😉

Adam Tilt · March 5, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Hi Larry. Red Kite numbers have rocketed up in recent years mainly due to a massive reduction in persecution and supplementary feeding. It really is fantastic to have them back in the air.

Glad you like the Wood Pigeon. Being one of our common birds they are often overlooked which is a shame as they are rather elegant.

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