I only managed to get out for a couple of hours this weekend and spent it all at the local WWT reserve. As my parents were down visiting (and more importantly dropping off Christmas presents) it seemed like the ideal opportunity to once again take in the centres huge Starling murmuration, a spectacle that neither of them had ever seen. Before that though it was the turn of the Michael Powell Hide to deliver with one of the best viewing sessions I have ever had from its draughty confines.

25409 - Llanelli WWT

My Mom had barely been hauled up onto one of the hide’s benches (they are very high and she is very short) before the first of three Common Snipe was spotted on the far side of the pond. Scanning along the bank a second was soon in view before our attention was taken by the arrival of a Kingfisher. Its iridescent blue plumage cut through the gloom like a knife through butter as it moved from perch to perch before finally settling on a fence post. It was then the turn of a pair of Greenshank, three Little Egrets, numerous whistling Wigeon and a grooming Grey Heron to keep us occupied until I picked out a distant Sparrowhawk being harried across the marsh by a couple of Crows. When that battle was lost from view we completed the trilogy of Common Snipe, promptly followed by their disappearance over the top of a grassy bank. Above where they had been sat was what I at first thought was the Kingfisher again, only to realise that our bird hadn’t moved from its aforementioned post. We had a pair! The question of whether or not they would be tolerant of each other was soon answered with the new arrival promptly chased away. Throughout all of these antics a Water Rail was discreetly swimming back and forth between one of the small islands and the pond edge, the first time I have ever seen one out in open water. As if that wasn’t enough we rounded off proceedings with another distant bird of prey in the shape of a Peregrine Falcon perched out towards the estuary.

By now the sun was very low in the sky so we headed over to the Millennium Wetlands to take up position in preparation for the Starlings arrival. Once again Water Rails and Cetti’s Warblers were calling from all directions and once again they were impossible to locate. Right on cue the first small groups of Starlings started to appear over the reserve and in no time at all the murmuration was in full swing.

25410 - Starlings, Llanelli WWT
25411 - Starlings, Llanelli WWT

That’s where things started to go a bit wrong however. For some reason, possibly due to climatic conditions, the birds went down into the reeds far quicker than we had expected and in a location that we couldn’t see clearly. We tried to move closer but by then the show was pretty much over. Nevertheless it was still an impressive if somewhat curtailed display and my parents were more than happy.

As an aside I shall take this opportunity to mourn the passing of one of my oldest and most faithful walking companions, my boots. Originally bought way back in 1999 they have since covered hundreds if not thousands of miles. Not once during that time have I had to waterproof them and not once have they leaked as they took me faultlessly to almost every part of the UK.

25412 - New Boots

Despite their somewhat dilapidated appearance they are still going strong with just a small split to the leather in one side and a loss of the original green colouration. The reason for their replacement lies with the soles which have been worn away to such an extent that they are now almost slick. This not only makes walking harder on the feet but has also significantly reduced grip. Therefore it is with a heavy heart that I relegate them to gardening duty and welcome in a new pair of Mammut Mt Trail GTX’s (cool name). Like the old ones they have Gore-Tex technology to aid waterproofing and breathability whilst the memory foam soles and reinforced foot arch should make them very comfortable. All that’s left now is to try them out and cover some of that shine in Welsh mud. There’s plenty of it around at the moment as well with all this rain we’re having.


Bob Bushell · December 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

The Starlings are great, but, say goodbye to another pair of shoes, ohhh.

TexWisGirl · December 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm

laughed at the visual of you hoisting your cute little mum onto a bench. glad you got to share some of the sights with them! and those new boots are pretty damn sexy! yup, get some mud on 'em!

holdingmoments · December 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Getting new boots to replace the regulars is like losing an old friend. I sympathise Adam lol

Sounds like you had an excellent visit with your parents, and some cracking birds.

theconstantwalker · December 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm

A wonderful post to read Adam it's lovely to see your family get inviolved… re the new boots I have an old pair of Meindl boots I love to bit's and keep using even though they have been replaced..
I hope your new ones wear in quickly and serve you well…
Lovely images by the way… footwear appears to have taken over your wonderful images…

Adam Tilt · December 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Thanks all for your comments. I shall no doubt provide an update on the new boots after their initiation this coming weekend. Lets hope they perform as well as they look.

mick · December 15, 2011 at 6:25 am

Any time you can see a huge number of birds in flight is a very special happening. Great photos of what you saw!

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