My curiosity finally got the better of me on Sunday and we headed off to Kidwelly Quay to look for the Long Billed Dowitcher. I’d had a glimpse of what I thought was the bird a few days previously but I was nowhere near certain enough to add it to the year list and was hoping for some better views. Its local celebrity status was clearly drawing in the crowds as upon arrival the small car park was nearly full and a barrage of telescopes was pointed in the direction of the the railway bridge. Their focus was the high tide Redshank roost which a friendly couple were convinced held the sleeping Dowitcher. I had a quick look through their scope but to be honest I couldn’t pick it out. Willing to give them the benefit of the doubt I kept my attention on the same bird for a good half an hour and was eventually rewarded with a couple of seconds of definitive identification. The Dowitcher lifted its head just long enough to allow me to see its prominent white eye stripe before it was once more lost in the long grass. Unfortunately the roost was too far away for any pictures so I resorted to the age old technique of photographing the people looking at the bird instead.

25116 - Kidwelly Quay

In truth I thought that was all we were going to get, but with a rapidly falling tide we decided to wait it out a little longer. For a while a passing Kingfisher (a welcome sight after what seems to have been a tough year for them) and a single Dunlin were our only rewards along with several tantalising calls as the gathered birders alternately caught brief glimpses of the Dowitcher. It was only with the arrival of another couple of the regulars that everything started to kick off. First blood went to a possible Pectoral Sandpiper that I caught running through the middle of the roost, but alas it was just too quick for a definitive ID. Whilst everyone was trying to relocate it I scanned along the river channel and was amazed to find the Dowitcher stood out in plain sight just as it started feeding in earnest along the newly exposed mud. Never in a million years had I expected to get such good views, a spectacle that was to continue for at least the next twenty minutes. 

We were still taking our fill when a Common Sandpiper was spotted in exactly the same area, closely followed by a Curlew Sandpiper which was soon joined by a second. A few minutes later and I spotted a third just under the railway bridge closely followed by a fourth next to the original pair. I could barely believe my luck considering that this was a species that I have historically had such bad luck with. Dare I say it but I think I was actually more excited about them than I was the Long Billed Dowitcher! The treats didn’t end their either as from the same vantage point I was able to pick out three Pintails, numerous Teal, Shellducks, Oysterctacher, Little Egret, hundreds of Curlew as well as my first returning Wigeon of the autumn. What a morning.

Eventually we had to drag ourselves away and after seeing my parents off home we headed into Swansea. Walking around the docks a juvenile Herring Gull caught my eye as it flew down from a lamppost and attempted to land on the sloping roof of a nearby car. The polished metal must have been a lot more slippery than it had been expecting as amid a mass of fluttering wings it slowly slid down until its feet finally got purchase. It was a ridiculous sight that I just couldn’t help laughing out loud at. I dread to think what passers-by must have thought.

25117 - Herring Gull, Swansea
25118 - Herring Gull, Swansea

Those of you who have read my previous entries will know that the real reason for our visit to the city centre was to see the very tame Great Skua that had turned up on West Pier. I know that I have already shared a few photos of this bird on here but it was just so spectacular that I couldn’t resist squeezing in another one here to finish things off. Hope you don’t mind.

25122 - Great Skua, Swansea


TexWisGirl · October 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

that gull was windshield surfing! 🙂

Bob Bushell · October 8, 2011 at 10:22 am

I was so pleased that you'd seen the Dowitcher, but, your catching by camera, it was not to be. Never mind, you will find it.

theconstantwalker · October 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Wonderful images Adam.. the gull on the windscreen is fantastic..
No probs seeing the Skua again…it's a bird I have never seen.

Adam Tilt · October 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm

TexWisGirl – certainly was though I think he needs a bit more practise.

Bob – as was I.

Andrew – thanks very much. Skuas are proper brutes when seen in the flesh.

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