Spring tides, contrary to their name, do not coincide with the season but instead occur roughly twice a month whenever the moon and sun align. Living alongside the second largest tidal range in the world elevates these natural phenomena beyond mere trivia and into something far more spectacular. Last weeks for instance exceeded ten meters and I, along with most of Swansea from what I can gather, headed to Penclawdd to watch the waters rise. More accurately that should perhaps be ‘finish rising’ as by the time I arrived almost the entire saltmarsh had been consumed. What little islands of land still existed were packed with waders and gulls while all around scores of Curlew could be heard calling out to their comrades.

P1080883 - Penclawdd High Tide

Eventually even these small refuges were no more forcing the birds further upriver with me not far behind. As it turned out I couldn’t actually get much beyond the old piles of slag behind Penclawdd where at least thirty Pied Wagtails were roosting when not squabbling amongst themselves. In the middle of the chaos sat a single Common Sandpiper, my first for quite a while, with at least nine Little Egrets and four Grey Herons also in attendance. Best of all though was a Kingfisher which shot across the waters surface, an uncommon sight here outside of winter.

Next day we kept things a little more local and headed down to the upper Loughor. Upon arrival the riverside path was already impassable so we instead sat and watched the waters rise from just beyond Coed Bach woods. What was immediately apparent was the speed with which the river was running (in reverse) carrying everything from small branches to whole tree trunks with ease. As the light was failing video seemed best to capture proceedings and hopefully it will give a sense of just how rapid the tides here can be.

Of course we shouldn’t forget that these natural occurrences cause untold damage to those whose homes and businesses border such tidal areas. Penclawdd itself is particularly vulnerable and I have mentioned recently that work is currently under way to build a new seawall there. Even so that didn’t stop the building site from being completely inundated with water, a hazard of working in these environments I guess.


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