Last week saw a mini influx of Black Terns to our local area with sightings being reported from Pwll, Penclacwydd and Kenfig. In order to save any suspense I’ll tell you now that we failed to connect with all of them, though certainly not for want of trying. Our main problem you see has been that opportunities for local birdwatching of late have been limited to after work jaunts which somewhat restricts the locations that we’re able to get out to. The last thing I want to do for instance is spend another hour in the car having endured an entire day bashing my head against metaphoric brick walls. To that end the prime Black Tern hotspot of Pwll was out but the stretch of coast path from the WWT reserve along Morfa Bacas was most definitely in. The fact that I’d never quite got around to walking this particular route was just a happy bonus.
My first visit was on Wednesday evening and as you can see from above conditions were pretty darn nice. The sun shone, there was a delightful haze in the air and just the slightest of cool breezes reminding me that autumn is just around the corner. Almost immediately I picked up a feeding flock of five Sandwich Terns over on the opposite side of the Burry, too distant for photos although they did approach slightly closer before heading off down channel. There were plenty of Gulls around too (the majority Black Headed) as well as a small flock of twenty or so Lapwings overhead. Nice to see but other than that things were fairly quiet, mostly down to the fact that I’d timed my arrival perfectly with a spring high tide. As a result all of that glorious mud which makes the Burry Inlet such a fantastic wintering ground for various species was submerged, its inhabitants at roost awaiting the daily cycle to unravel once more. I was just in time to see the final few Little Egrets head off inland whilst this Cormorant looked determined to sit it out. To be honest I was hoping for something a little more Osprey shaped on one of these posts.
On my way back I did however stumble across a Common Sandpiper, far too dull by now for anything usable on camera but a nice find and my first local bird of the year.
Fast forward to Friday and I was back, this time with Emma in tow, for what turned out to be an evening of equally spectacular light.
Once again there were a couple of Sandwich Terns about and once again I couldn’t turn any of them into something a little rarer but with the tide lower there were at least good numbers of waders. Lapwings, Oystercatchers, Dunlin (a flock of several hundred in fact), Turnstones and Black-tailed Godwits lined the shore giving great views. There were also Curlews galore including this individual which posed very nicely indeed not to mention a reappearance by what I assume to be the same Common Sandpiper. Thankfully the lighting was a little better this time out and I managed to get a couple of decent shots.
Our final highlight came when walking back to the car only to see a female Sparrowhawk shooting towards us along the narrow tree lined path. Only at the last minute did it bank steeply right heading out over the marsh before looping back and continuing to hunt. A fantastic specimen on a gorgeous evening and the perfect way to finish. I even managed to forget about those errant Black Terns.