The past few months have been an almost non-stop whirlwind of great walks and excellent birds with some fantastic scenery thrown in for good measure. Alas such freedom was never likely to last and commitments over the last fortnight and coming month are likely to mean that my outings and subsequent bloggings are going to become somewhat more irregular. Frustrating for sure but that’s not going to stop me from squeezing in as much as I possibly can and keeping you, my loyal readers, entertained.
Before that though let’s get right up to date, kicking off with a visit to WWT Llanelli back on the 10th. In contrast to the previous days exploits on Gower there was to be no sun, but that certainly didn’t seem to effect the number or variety of birds on offer. Starting proceedings at the Michael Powell hide were a selection of the usual suspects including a few Gadwall and Shelduck, plus a snoozing Grey Heron which seemed to be attracting its fair share of admirers. Swallows and the sound of singing Whitethroats reminded us that despite conditions we weren’t still enduring winter, as did the sight of a solitary Lapwing and Whimbrel out in front of the British Steel hide. Keeping them company were at least another forty eight Shelduck as well as the resident Greylags which had unusually been joined by a party of five Canada Geese. Not something likely to impress the purists I’m sure.
With the tide still high I attempted to pick out a few species on the estuary but to my surprise found viewing conditions hampered significantly by heat haze. I certainly didn’t think that was going to be a problem when I’d pulled back the curtains a few hours earlier! Nevertheless I persevered and managed to spot several hundred-strong flocks of Dunlin chasing the retreating water. Turning our attention to the NRA scrapes I was surprised to find three Wigeon still present, either very late stayers or individuals which have simply decided not to move on this year. The same couldn’t be said for the Shovellers which have completely disappeared but it was nice to see at least ninety Black-tailed Godwits still present, most resplendent in their colourful breeding plumage. We had a good look through for anything rarer though the appearance of a Pectoral Sandpiper the next morning makes me wonder if we shouldn’t have searched that little bit harder…..
One should never dwell too long on what might have been however and I was more than pleased to reacquaint myself with the Black Headed Gull breeding colony over on the main lagoon. Many pairs are already on nests and, though their volume has yet to reach its peak, there is just enough anarchy to keep everyone amused. Perhaps attempting to seek some solitude away from the masses there was also a small break away group of Godwits here whilst a Goldcrest showed well just outside the hide. Good to see them still about after some significant pruning of there favoured trees over the winter. Probably my favourite sighting on the lagoon however were our first Greylag gosling’s of the year which were being carefully ushered around by two very wary parents.
We found another two families outside the observatory with the adults there seemingly caught in a quandary between aggressively hissing at those watching and eagerly gobbling up the seed being thrown. In the end I think hunger won and I enjoyed the tricky task of getting one of these ever mobile youngsters on camera.
After Emma had stocked up on yet more second hand books (only 50p a go if you’re in need of some new reading material) it was out to the Millennium Wetlands. Our target species, given the time of year, were perhaps obvious and it didn’t take long before we were watching a very vocal Sedge Warbler and catching the briefest glimpse of our first definite Reed Warbler this Spring. As we’ve found elsewhere over the last few weeks Whitethroats were very numerous, though elusive, which makes the fact that we actually managed to see a Cetti’s Warbler all the more remarkable. We hear them on almost every visit here but this was probably my first actual sighting for at least three or four years. Very pleasing indeed, as were the pair of Swifts that appeared overhead for a few seconds before heading on their way.
Searching the reed beds for warblers did have an unexpected benefit in that it turned up two Drinker Moth caterpillars, one of which is shown above. Just goes to show you never know what you might find when you start looking a little closer.