Following our successful patch raid on Saturday we spent a couple of hours during the afternoon exploring Llanelli’s foreshore. In the past this has been a regular haunt of ours but an increase in anti-social behaviour during last summer meant that we have tended to stay away of late. Given that it’s the middle of winter however we expected to have the place to ourselves but a rare appearance by the sun had clearly brought out the masses. I have never seen the car park so busy but as soon as we got onto the beach it wasn’t hard to see why. Conditions were absolutely perfect with no wind, blue sky and warm temperatures creating a feeling of ease and tranquillity that has been missing all too often recently. Could this really be the Welsh coast in January? The millpond like calmness of the sea suggested otherwise!
On closer inspection that flat calm only stretched out a certain distance into the Burry Inlet before rougher conditions began to take over. The reason for this appears to have been a shift in huge quantities of sand during the recent storms which has significantly reshaped the underwater landscape. What used to be almost unbroken water out into the channel now seems to be a shallow lagoon with a submerged sand bar protecting the shore from any waves, no matter how small. Presumably these new restrictions have also helped to concentrate food closer as the quantity of birds to be found there was stunning.
A family of five Brent Geese were in close company with the same number of Red-breasted Mergansers whilst a single Great Crested Grebe wasn’t far away. Large flocks of duck turned out to be Pintail, our first of the year, within which could be found Shelduck and the ever reliable Mallards. Waders were well represented with upwards of seventy Redshank not to mention the more distant Oystercatchers and what I think were a flock of Dunlin in flight. Then of course there were the Little Egrets, Grey Heron and some stunning Teal before I even start on the Gulls of Herring, Black Headed, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed and Common varieties. It’s hard to remember a time when this short stretch of coast has been so productive.
The Reed Bunting above was one of a group of five found at the end of the sand dunes which show clear signs of the winter storms. Here though the change has not been for the better with large quantities of material having been lost exposing the underlying layers of slag which belies this areas industrial past. Given that they look to have been completely submerged at one point we should consider ourselves lucky that they still stand at all. Similar systems in Norfolk were not so lucky.