Sod’s law and I have a very close working relationship. Most of the time this is nothing more than a minor irritant but when it comes to birds, well that’s a whole different matter. Chances are that if a rarity turns up in South Wales I’m likely to be at the other end of the country, if not out of it altogether. So it came to pass that a couple of days into our Leeds trip news started to filter through that a Rose-coloured Starling had turned up along Aberavon seafront. And not an immature bird either. Oh no. This was an adult with full pinky chest, one of those species I’ve been longing to see for a very long time indeed. As the photos and accounts rolled in all I could do was cling to the hope that it would hang around and we’d manage to connect on our return. Fast forward to Sunday before last and a grey morning light found us wandering the coast at Aberavon. For early August you’d have expected the place to be heaving but strong winds and heavy, frequent showers pretty much put paid to that. It also made our search all the more difficult as we scrutinised flock after flock of Starlings. That their numbers were so high is to be applauded but do you think we could find one wearing a pink waistcoat? Not a chance. With the Starling flocks spread out along a couple of miles it could have literally been anywhere, and that’s of course presuming that it wasn’t sheltering in someone’s back garden. Maybe next time.

Another bird which has popped up during our absence was a Spoonbill at Llanelli WWT so that was our next port of call. Weather conditions still remained a little tricky and as we looked out from the British Steel Hide you’d be forgiven for thinking that we were standing on the edge of the world. And of course the Spoonbill had also done a bunk.

P1150375 - Llanelli WWT

The tide was in but roosting wader numbers were relatively low with the majority being Black-tailed Godwits (at least three hundred) mixed with a smattering of Lapwing. In time a solitary Common Sandpiper joined the fray but it remained distant amidst the gloom. Waterfowl were represented by Greylag Geese, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks, the usual sort of fare for this time of year. Can’t be long now before we see the Wigeon starting to return though and that really will be cause for celebration.

The Boardwalk Hide added a few Shoveller, Swallow and Sand Martins to the mix but it was a Common Sandpiper from the Observatory which really made up for any previous disappointments. It was feeding avidly on numerous insects right outside the hide, walking back and forth much to the annoyance of a couple of Mallards who would periodically chase it off. I waited patiently for it to approach just that little bit closer and got some brilliant images in the process. Check out the size of that eye!

P1150403_2 - Common Sandpiper, Llanelli WWT
P1150401_2 - Common Sandpiper, Llanelli WWT

We left it still feeding and picked up a family of Reed Warblers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker on our way out. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good year when it comes to sightings of the former and long may it continue. Over at the Flamingos this year’s young were looking in fine fettle (though obviously not wild) before a Robin posed just about as well it’s possible to do. Check out the detail on those feathers.

P1150374 - Robin, Llanelli WWT

So people of Glamorgan, if you fancy a new rarity I’m taking donations for my next holiday away. The longer the trip the more will turn up. Guaranteed.


Sondra · August 21, 2015 at 1:00 am

Its like looking for a needle in a haystack…you got some great shots of the sandpiper!

Stewart M · August 22, 2015 at 9:03 am

Great shots – the eye on that Sandpiper is huge! Same for the Robin really as well.

Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

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