I’m sat here on a Sunday evening after what has been a very enjoyable weekend indeed. We kicked off with the first proper days birding on patch in 2015, a session which delivered some really top notch species including the always hard to find Woodcock, followed up today with a brand new walk along the Cribarth ridge in gorgeous snowy conditions. Full accounts will of course follow in due course but for now I thought I’d focus on my personal highlight in a weekend of special moments.

P1100772 - Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower
Big skies down on Llanrhidian Marsh

Having returned from the Brecon Beacons mid-afternoon we still had a couple of hours to kill and with the promised rain failing to materialise headed out to Gower and Llanrhidian Marsh. Regular readers will undoubtedly recall numerous previous trips here where sightings of Great White Egret (a pair are now virtually resident) and winter roosting Hen Harriers are always a distinct possibility. It only took a few minutes to spot one of the former out towards Weobley castle, all gangly legs and wings as it came in to land, a beast of a bird compared to their smaller and commoner relatives. It showed on a further couple of occasions, one of which timed perfectly with the passing of a certain large raptor. I’d recognise that white ringed tail anywhere and we were soon enjoying our best Hen Harrier views for years as it flew up the Burry running roughly parallel with our position. Distances were sadly too great for photography but once again the lower light capabilities of video came to my rescue allowing me to capture what is an all too rare sight these days.

We lost her thereafter and didn’t pick up another ringtail for some time until another/the same individual popped up way out towards Cwm Ivy. Again this bird was actively hunting with numerous dips down into the extensive reedbeds before once again reappearing moments later. Only when the sun finally began to drop below the horizon did we lose sight for good as she presumably settled down to roost. A fantastic way to while away a couple of hours and great to see Hen Harrier still doing well here.

Of course there were plenty of other birds about including huge flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover which were in constant motion down on the estuary and in flight overhead. Grey Herons, Shelducks, Oystercatchers and all the usual gull species also featured but special mention must go to the Little Egret which refused to get out of the road and instead wandered along in front of the car as we slowly crept forward. Definitely not something I’ve seen before though sadly I couldn’t quite free the camera in time to grab a photo. No such problem with this rabble however who were presumably being herded to higher ground due to the approaching spring tides.

P1100768 - Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower

Certainly beats the traffic of a Monday morning commute.


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