The remnants of Hurricane Katia have been battering the Welsh coast over the last couple of days resulting in a relatively high number of Grey Phalarope making landfall. At least two individuals have been present at Kenfig today along with another at Ogmore and a possible sighting in Cardiff Bay. Llanelli’s addition to the roster was found on Sunday by Wendell Thomas whose rapid dissemination of information allowed us to get distant views that afternoon in conditions which made holding binoculars steady almost impossible.
Phalaropes are such great little characters that we thought we would try our luck again this evening and headed back to Copperhouse on the Llanelli coastline. With strong winds whipping up the sea the most likely place for the bird to be feeding was once again along the river channel, protected as it is from the worst of the weather. To my joy we were spot on and soon had the Phalarope relocated, and boy did it deliver.
For the next quarter of an hour we enjoyed views down to a couple of feet as the bird swam and fed with a sense of urgency that only a Phalarope can muster. As the sun had just set behind the nearby dunes any decent photography was impossible, so out came the video mode which I think captures the behaviour of these birds far better than a still shot ever can. Once again I am simply staggered by this species lack of fear when it comes to humans. (I recommend watching the video below in HD).
What little was left of the beach proved equally rewarding, packed as it was with waders trying to find a safe roost for the night. Exact numbers were difficult to ascertain but I estimate there were at least 150 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 4 Dunlin, 170 Ringed Plover, 80 Turnstone and 2 Knot, not to mention hordes of Black Headed Gulls intermingled with the odd Lesser and Great Black Backed Gull. A single Wheatear looked to be contemplating the start of its migration, but a drenching from a breaking wave must surely have dampened its enthusiasm.
I’ll leave you with a couple of shots taken slightly earlier in the day of the sea conditions out in the Burry Inlet. This is probably the roughest I have ever seen the water this far up the channel and it was certainly spectacular to watch.