A chance comment on a recent post alerted me to the fact that last weekend was our final opportunity to take part in the Big Butterfly Count. There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to think of anything worse but times change, interests shift and the prospect of doing some fieldwork sounded pretty dam good fun. Probably a good thing too as after Saturday’s exertions we weren’t good for much else. Llanelli WWT was our destination of choice and we picked out a series of likely looking spots covering a range of different habitats. First up were a couple of large Buddleia in full bloom which held probably one of our most striking species, the Red Admiral. There were three present during this initial fifteen minute survey and they were crying out to be photographed.

P1040075 - Red Admiral, Llanelli WWT
P1040080 - Red Admiral, Llanelli WWT

A further three counts followed and, apart from a little confusion over our whites which is now resolved, felt pretty happy with what we’d found. Conditions weren’t really ideal with a strong breeze blowing but our target species turned up though numbers could perhaps have been a little better. The full run down is as follows:

13:25 – 13:40
Red Admiral (3)
Peacock (1)
Green-veined White (1)

14:43 – 15:58
Red Admiral (1)
Comma (2)
Green-veined White (4)
Meadow Brown (1)

15:19 – 15:34
Green-veined White (4)
Gatekeeper (3)
Comma (1)
Speckled Wood (2)
Meadow Brown (1)

15:37 – 15:56
Meadow Brown (1)
Green-veined White (3)
Speckled Wood (1)
Gatekeeper (2)

With our reflexes finely tuned it was inevitable that we’d turn up a couple of things outside of our target area and so it proved. It was hard to miss numerous Common Darters on the wing for instance but for me and dragonflies it’s all about the big stuff and these two brutes fulfilled that criteria perfectly. First up is a Migrant Hawker followed by something which I have yet to identify. Answers on a postcard please.

P1040097 - , Llanelli WWT
P1040111 - , Llanelli WWT

There was also some good birding to be had with the recent high tide leaving behind for us a huge flock of at least 120 Redshanks. I don’t have to hand my highest ever count for the reserve but this must be right up there if not at the very top. Where large wader flocks gather there is always the possibility of something a little more unusual and today that included four summer plumaged Greenshanks along with six Black-tailed Godwits. Good enough I thought until a tiny wader dropped in. Now this is where my lack of wader experience is a drawback but we ran through the common culprits and quickly ruled out Dunlin and Sanderling. The markings and jizz were just all wrong. Then I remembered reading this morning that there had been a Little Stint reported across the estuary at Weobley and you know what? That’s only what our little visitor turned out to be. Whether or not it’s the same bird channel hopping I can’t be sure but the markings and size were spot on as were its feeding habits and movements. Even the passage of a Sparrowhawk couldn’t disturb it too greatly and we got great views, if a little too distant and into the sun for even the ropiest of record shots. Still, a cracking little wader and a lifer for Emma.

Slightly easier to photograph was this juvenile Robin lurking near the Boardwalk Hide.

P1040089 - Robin, Llanelli WWT

That wasn’t the end of our sightings either as we also recorded a Weasel/Stoat in front of the British Steel Hide, a couple of Lapwing and one lone female Shoveller. The recent Spoonbill however had done a bunk. I’m beginning to think its trying to avoid me.


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