For once the weekend turned out to be glorious across both days with blue sky, warm sun and a gentle breeze reminding us all that we do get nice weather occasionally. I was on my own for the bulk of Saturday so headed over to Kenfig NNR to see if I could snag a Bittern or two. To my surprise I found water levels across the reserve way higher than I can remember for a good while, with the ‘beaches’ around Kenfig pool completely submerged and some of the paths back under water. Not only did this mean that I was back to taking increasingly indirect detours through the dunes, but it also rendered the reedbed cuttings completely unsuitable for feeding Bitterns. Instead I turned my attention to the gathered waterfowl which was surprisingly varied considering the mild conditions. Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck, over 200 Coot and three Goldeneye were all present but too distant for photos. Instead I turned my attention to the resident flock of Canada Geese. They often get a lot of stick for being an introduced species in this country but I find them quite engaging.
One particularly aggressive individual, possibly trying to assert its dominance before the breeding season, also allowed me to add to my occasional collection of “shouting bird” photos.
The old barbed wire fences that run into the water at a couple of places around the pool always provide ideal perches for a variety of species, and this visit was to be no exception. Common Gulls and Black Headed Gulls were the most numerous perchees but at the ruined boat house there were also three Cormorants drying their wings in the sun. The lighting was just about perfect (well perhaps a little bright if I am being picky) which allowed each feather to be picked out in detail. Not always an easy feat on a big black bird.
While photographing the Cormorants a familiar song drifted across to my ears. Although I couldn’t locate the culprit flying way above my head its identity is no mystery. It would seem that the Skylarks have started singing again!
The walk out through the dunes was relatively quiet, as was the beach, but on the exposed rocks towards Sker Point Oystercatchers, Curlew and Turnstones were all busy feeding. I took the opportunity to take a shot looking back towards the huge steelworks at Port Talbot. I always find it a remarkable contrast that I can be standing in a huge nature reserve looking back at the temple of Welsh industry.
At Sker Point itself a receding tide had revealed the fascinating structures built by Honeycomb worms, a species I have covered on this blog several times in the past. What may at first appear to be brown rocks turn out under closer inspection to be countless hollow tubes with walls only a single grain of sand thick. The worms themselves reside within, safely protected from the outside world at these times of exposure.
Honeycomb worms are a relatively uncommon species around the UK thanks to their very specific habitat requirements and vulnerability from trampling, burial under shifting sand and storm damage. Therefore to have what appears to be a healthy colony locally is a very nice thing indeed.