If Saturday’s sunshine had lit any flickering flames of hope for a dry weekend they were well and truly dashed the following morning. All evening I’d been following the forecasts intently but they resolutely refused to lift a thick veil of rain from across South Wales. My only hope was that strong winds would move the front above our coastline, a phenomena which has more than once rescued days from near total washout. In the end we got just such a break but it only allowed a couple of hours at Burry Port before torrential downpours set in. Still, I’ll take any silver lining I can get at the moment and despite the gales blowing we did have an enjoyable time. Along West beach four Oystercatchers, one with a bad limp, had a lone Redshank for company along with at least six Ringed Plovers which we spotted scurrying across the sand. More surprising were several Skylarks which erupted from the dunes at Pembrey harbour, calling as they went. A nice reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel from what has been one of the dreariest winters I can remember. With windblown sand whipping around our ankles I chose to keep my camera safely ensconced in its bag but couldn’t resist risking a couple of snaps once we reached Burry Port itself.
With the wind blasting straight into the entrance of Burry Port there was a huge amount of spray being blown up battering the supposedly sheltered boats behind. It was also quite noticeable how much silt is now accumulating here, no great surprise given that this is a well known issue across the Burry Inlet. Pembrey harbour itself was abandoned for the very same reason so some would say that removing internal lock gates and blocking any natural flow of water from the outer harbour was a little short sighted. That was certainly the view of a friendly gentleman we got chatting to who told us that locals had informed the ‘expert’ engineers that this would happen, yet work had carried on regardless. Even in the few years that I’ve been living here the silting problem has got noticeably worse and it’s clear that the vessels berthing here have significantly decreased both in number and size. Dredging seems the only option but that is both expensive and raises its own issues with the Environment Agency recently banning the dumping of previously dredged material on West Beach. I can see their logic with potential pollution a risk but that doesn’t help Burry Port or its uncertain future.
The local wildlife clearly isn’t suffering too greatly however as I spotted a Kingfisher winging its way across the water towards us. It uttered a single call before alighting on one of the pontoons, sadly out of sight but another first for me at this location. Redshank numbers also remain healthy with at least twenty individuals feeding in the mud that is the inner harbour.
It would have been nice to continue onwards to Tywyn Bach but alas the weather had other ideas. Scurrying back to the car we managed to avoid a good soaking and headed next to WWT Llanelli where the promise of dry hides appealed greatly. Clearly there hadn’t been many others before us if the hungry flock of Nene’s which greeted our arrival were anything to go by. Is it just me that associates their lumbering run with that of a T-Rex?
Looking out from the British Steel Hide revealed a wind and rain swept landscape which had sent even the Mallards looking for shelter. Hunched up wherever they could find cover left them looking decidedly unhappy. So much for rain being a ducks favourite weather. A couple of hundred Lapwings had no such place to hide and were scattered across the scrapes looking equally dejected. At least Wigeon can usually be relied upon to bring a splash of colour to proceedings and it was good to see another few hundred feeding on the NRA scrapes. Keeping them company were three Pochard (sadly a significant count these days) plus a Mistle Thrush that was struggling more than most with the wind. On a couple of occasions it was very nearly blown head over heels as it dived for some morsel or other, comical for sure but I did feel a little sorry for it. Teal and thirty plus Gadwall were to be found on the main lagoon along with another couple of Pochard and one lone male Shoveller. Light levels were so dull and flat that I almost hadn’t bothered trying to take any photos but this pair came out relatively well.
Sadly there was no sign of the weather letting up so after taking in an impressive count of nine Collared Doves at the bird feeders we called it a day and headed for home. I fear this method of grabbing a few dry hours here and there is likely to continue for a good few weeks yet.