I made a long overdue visit to the WWT Llanelli reserve yesterday on what turned out to be probably one of their busiest days. I’ve never seen quite so many people milling about the place which although very good news for the charity did make my job of finding a quiet spot slightly more difficult than usual. Even the Michael Powell hide was chocker so instead I elected to stand outside and watch the feeders for a while. Normally these deliver the usual Blue Tits and Chaffinches but today was to be no ordinary day. Within just a few minutes a pair of Jays had put in a brief but noisy appearance, a Mouse had darted within a couple of meters of my feet and this Robin was singing its little heart out at a similar distance.
The real star was still waiting in the wings though and when the moment was right it hopped into view above my head. There’s really no mistaking a male Bullfinch and in the grey light this one was a much needed injection of colour.
With a record shot in the bag I was pretty happy and fully expected it to head off back into the undergrowth. The Bullfinch clearly had eyes only for the feeders however as it swiftly dropped down onto a branch within striking distance. Unfortunately for me it was now obscured from view and with a family rapidly approaching up the path it seemed that our time together was over. But no. In a rare show of tameness this male instead hopped even closer giving me just a few seconds to focus the camera before it really did head for the hills. This one came out rather well considering.
The plentiful supply of food had also clearly inspired one particularly amorous male Chaffinch which I watched give an extraordinary courtship display. From its perch above the female it produced a gurgling call whilst moving its head from one side of the branch to another. This is the first time I have seen such behaviour although sadly the female wasn’t impressed and it was all for nought in the end.
When I finally did make it into the hide there were plenty of Wigeon and Lapwing on display but disappointingly only a couple of Redshank. I really must stop visiting at low tide. Thanks to the clear air I could at least look down to the estuary where several Brent Geese and hundreds of Oystercatchers were feeding. It was also good to see a Curlew relatively close along with the requisite Little Egrets, Teal and Cormorants. Over at the Boardwalk hide I was surprised to see that the Greylag Geese had been joined by six Canada Geese. That’s easily my biggest count of the latter at the reserve and it’ll be interesting to see if they stay around to breed.
On the back straight a Great Spotted Woodpecker was a very welcome sight, even if it did choose to stop at the top of the highest tree for miles around. You can’t have everything though which on this trip included dipping on a pair of Bramblings which have been recent visitors to the centre’s main feeders. I hoped for better luck at a favoured spot of Water Rails and was indeed treated to at least six birds calling from various points in the reeds. They kept themselves well hidden but I’m always pleased just to know that they’re there.