Kenfig hasn’t featured very regularly on this blog during 2012, but that’s likely to change over the coming months as autumn progresses and the pool once again fills with wintering birds. Those arrivals seemed some way off on Saturday though with the current residents amounting to nothing more than a few Coots, three Mute Swans and a smattering of Black Headed and Herring Gulls. It was a little better in the neighbouring fields where Swallows were gathering before the start of their onward journeys, and an overflying Grey Wagtail added its voice to those of numerous Meadow Pipits. Up by the old boat house a Canada Goose and a Greylag Goose were closely associating with each other, the latter sporting a metal ring on its right leg. I’ve tried my best to read it but there isn’t quite enough detail in my photo which is a shame.
Thankfully the somewhat quiet start was not to be representative of the day as the surrounding vegetation proved to be alive with birds. A male Blackcap near the visitor centre was just one of at least three seen across the reserve, whilst spring seemed to have made a comeback with several singing Chiffchaffs seen and heard in various locations. Cetti’s Warblers were calling in close proximity to both of the hides but remained elusive, not something which was a problem for the large flocks of Goldfinches that were constantly on the move. Out in the dunes I was surprised to find a calling Reed Warbler, but not as surprised as a Grey Heron was to see me emerge over the top of a ridge. Given that it was nowhere near any water I wonder if it could have been hunting Lizards or something similar. The dunes also held huge numbers of Grasshoppers and Common Darters, several of which seemed to dart out from beneath every step I made. The individual below was photographed on the boardwalk behind the North hide.
I had planned to make a return visit to Kenfig Castle to see if anything had been left on show following Time Teams recent dig there, but soon abandoned that having spent a quarter of an hour pretty much going around in circles. Instead I struck out to the coast and followed the haul road onwards to the river mouth. I’d just about missed high tide but there was still a flock of ninety Oystercatchers present. The salt marsh behind held a solitary Little Egret whilst above a Kestrel and Buzzard hunted. There were also a couple of female Wheatears scurrying through the dunes, no doubt not long for these shores.
From the river mouth it was a long and enjoyable walk back along the beach to Sker Point. On the way a flock of nineteen Sanderling briefly alighted on the sand but they were gone almost as quickly as they’d arrived. Slightly more immobile was the wreck of this coal carrying vessel. It’s been a good few years since I last saw her and in that time the sand has buried most of the remains. Nothing a good winter storm can’t fix though I’m sure.
At Sker Point itself things initially looked pretty quiet with most of the exposed rocks being occupied by fisherman. In Rest Bay though I was happy to see a roost of two hundred Oystercatchers and seventy Golden Plovers huddled together. I started feeling a bit adventurous at this point and decided that it looked like a perfect day to find a Lapland Bunting. I set off to where a very obliging individual had entertained us all a couple of years ago and unsurprisingly drew a blank. I did however put up a couple of Skylarks and spotted a pair of Stonechats in the Bracken. Looking back towards Sker Farm I then thought I’d seen another Stonechat before quickly realising it was in fact a female Whinchat. Even better was to come though as another joined it a few moments later. I’ve never managed to photograph this species before so crept as close as I could using the vegetation as cover. The result below may be a bit distant but it represents a first both for the year list and my camera.
A quick check of Sker Farm resulted in nothing of interest so I headed back to the car via what turned out to be a very ill advised short cut. Who knew that Bracken could reach above head height? I did make it eventually with the added bonus of this pristine Small Copper along the way.
Sunday was a complete washout here as anyone in the UK can probably attest to. We did however have a Jay visit the garden for the very first time, albeit briefly. Fingers crossed it comes back again.