I’ve had some pretty special evenings watching the birds come in to roost at Llanrhidian Marsh on Gower, yet none have ever come close to the spectacle we witnessed today. We pulled up at a little after half three and immediately spotted a Short Eared Owl hunting. Barely had I chance to focus the scope before a Great White Egret dropped into the reeds, quickly followed by a second. Then the Hen Harriers appeared, two ringtails, with the action continuing until the sun had set and we could barely pick out the ghostly shapes of birds through the murk. I’m not going to lie, it was something really rather special with on occasion all three of the aforementioned species visible at the same time. Then of course there was the supporting cast which included Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Common Snipe and thousands upon thousands of Starlings which grouped together over Weobley Castle before following the Burry inland.
Such is the scale of Llanrhidian Marsh that photography was always going to prove rather challenging but one of the Great White Egrets did come just close enough for a record shot to be attempted. Sadly its flight didn’t coincide with an outbreak of sunshine but after the week of weather we’ve had the very fact that there was sun at all today was something to be celebrated. Both the Hen Harriers and Short Eared Owls spent much of the evening at a good distance but despite this we managed to obtain excellent and prolonged views, plus a couple of very optimistic photos. The left bird below for instance is a Hen Harrier I can assure you. Honest!
In just a couple of hours we’d achieved a personal record tally for the site which I’m sure would whet the appetites of even the most seasoned birder, including:
Great White Egret (3)
Hen Harrier (2)
Short Eared Owl (4)
Little Egret (30+)
Red Kite (1)
Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the scenery as well which, when the sun broke through, reminded me why I love this area so much. With the light changing at a moments notice there was no shortage of vistas to absorb. It’s a wonder the birds even got a look in.
Given that the Short Eared Owls have been around for the last week or so it does raise the question of whether or not they will stay for the winter. If they do I think I know where I’ll be spending a few more evenings to come.