Life has a funny way of balancing itself out. For instance, who’d have imagined that the purchase of a particularly revolting sandwich on Friday would lead to excellent views of Mediterranean Gulls come Saturday. I probably don’t need to mention that events occurred at Bracelet Bay, perhaps one of the best locations in the country to see these birds, but that sandwich is worthy of further explanation.
But first a weather update. You’ll not be surprised to hear that February has taken up the batten from last month in delivering wave after wave of low pressure systems from across the Atlantic. Each one arrives in the south west to an accompaniment of gales and heavy rain resulting in what has been the wettest January here for over forty years. We’ve been making the best of things as much as possible but on Saturday conditions were just a little too extreme for walking any significant distance. Instead we headed down to Bracelet Bay in the hope of a couple of hours decent seawatching that in the end delivered virtually nothing. A few passing Kittiwakes, Turnstones and what looked to have been an auk of some sort was as good as it got. The Mediterranean Gull flock however numbered a fairly decent twenty birds strong and was split fifty fifty between the car park puddle and foreshore rocks. All were suffering in the immense winds whipping through from Limeslade Bay with many struggling to even stand. They were only enticed into action by the arrival of the same blue car observed last month whose occupants very kindly feed the local birds. As soon as those first morsels dropped the sky filled with whirling gulls, none of which could quite muster a graceful flight in such adverse conditions. Unsurprisingly it didn’t take long for this welcome banquet to be exhausted and the birds began to return to their previous locations.
Tucking into our own lunch it was round two for the aforementioned sandwich but alas even Emma could only manage a few bites. Seriously, who in their right mind can stomach Horseradish? Not wanting to waste it completely we decided that perhaps the birds would like the bread instead and in no time at all we had a horde of hungry gulls swarming outside our own car windows.
As you can see there was a nice variety of ages present including a couple of opportunities for valuable comparison shots between the Meds and the similar looking, but far more common, Black Headed Gulls.
A couple of Crows and Magpies also joined the party along with this immature Herring Gull.
On another day the presence of so many birds would have given an excellent opportunity to practise some flight shots but alas the wind meant that the birds were simply being blown about too much. Combined with low light levels I didn’t manage anything worth sharing but I shall now be ensuring that all trips to Bracelet Bay will include some bread.
The forecast for Sunday looked a little better but with heavy showers forecast it again meant that a long walk was out of the question. Instead we decided to catch the train into Cardiff to walk around the entire bay. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and now seemed like the ideal opportunity with both Black-necked Grebe and Lesser Scaup having been seen there in recent weeks. Sadly we managed to dip both but did add Grey Wagtail (of which there were several) and Canada Goose to my year list. Little Grebes were also numerous with at least six individuals spotted between the wetlands and barrage. My highlight though has to be the Cormorants in full breeding plumage, something I’ve not had the pleasure to see in recent years at such close quarters. They really were stunning and I just wish that conditions had been better for photography. I sense that a return visit will be on the cards in the not too distant future.