The north Gower coast really has been having an exceptional start to the year if my regular sightings of Barn Owl, Hen Harrier and Great White Egret are anything to go by. It seems there is still more to come however after Rob Jones put me onto the list of birds he’d seen there late on Thursday. It featured several species that I’d yet to see in 2013 so on Saturday evening I headed back out to see what I could find. Fortunately the high tide coincided rather nicely with my arrival at Penclawdd and I spent an hour or so watching the birds being forced towards me. Four Redshank, two Shelduck and a plethora of Gulls (Lesser Black Backed, Herring, Common and Black Headed) accounted for the common species but it wasn’t long before a stonking Spotted Redshank turned up. It spent its time around the small boats in Penclawdd Pill and couldn’t have performed better from an identification stance, passing as it often did behind a normal Redshank. The difference in bill length was stark. That would easily have been my star bird if not for the male Red-breasted Merganser which swam right past my car. Normally I only get to watch these birds at distance out on the sea, so to get such close views was a real privilege.
Moving on to Dalton’s Point I was just in time to catch the last sandbanks disappearing under water, but not before I’d counted two Dunlin, over 140 Pintail, six Wigeon, two Great Crested Grebes, thirty or more Curlew plus the usual throngs of Oystercatcher. What really surprised me though was the flock of at least 120 Black-tailed Godwits feeding just beside the road. The lighting was terrible but my camera’s trusty video mode captured the scene well. (Select HD playback for full quality).
With most of the birds now pushed even further up the estuary and out of sight it was time for me to take up position on Llanrhidian Marsh. I didn’t have to wait long before I picked up a Short Eared Owl hunting over the reeds. At first it was very distant but over the next half an hour or so I got superb views of an awesome predator doing what it does best; hunting. Eventually I lost it in the murk but almost immediately one of the Barn Owls popped up to take its place, just as a Great White Egret flew by in the background. That’s a photo that would have rivalled my Dartford Warbler/Wryneck one for sure!