Showing posts from July, 2018

Birds of a feather flock together at Goldcliff

Its been a while since I last blogged. The reason being I have simply not had the time. Despite visiting my favourite place , Goldcliff Lagoons several times I have had a challenging week or so personally so fallen behind with my writing.

The heatwave we have been experiencing has been incredible. Not since something like 1976 have we had such a dry period ( as I am typing its started to rain - at last). I have visited Goldcliff at least once a week for several months and observed the lagoons getting dryer and dryer. The low water levels have acted like a magnet attracting hordes of birds to the lagoons where they have been feasting on the fish stranded in the receding waters. Easy pickings for Grey Herons and Little Egrets. I have never seen so many. Yesterday for example there was approximately 20 herons on site and at least 10 had gathered at Lagoon 3.

Black Headed Gulls have been flocking in large numbers, probably as part of the autumn migration passage. The Black Tailed Godwits …

Low water Goldcliff lagoons at high tide on a scorching hot morning

The water level at Goldcliff Lagoons continues to be really low. Lagoons 1 and 3 appear to have had some water pumped into them but Lagoon 2 is starting to look like Death Valley with large parts of it now completely baked.

The low waters are attracting lots of birds -  and people to watch them. I have never seen so many Little Egrets. There was probably 20+ onsite.

They were feasting on the fish which now have no where to hide. Eels appeared to be the commonest prey.

The light was good and even with heat haze I was able to get some nice pictures.

At long last I saw the Curlew Sandpiper. It was feeding in Lagoon 3. A small pretty bird that in some respects resembles a Dunlin but has a beak that curves and has a reddy chest.

It was quite a distance away so the pictures are record quality at best.

A male Marsh Harrier flew in and caused havoc sending the birds skywards. The Marshy looked magnificent with his two tone colours.

There were lots of bird species to see today. Comprising of -

Mama Mia Ian Owlsy's Hide is Fantastic

Whilst a lot of folk were watching the England v Croatia World Cup Semi-final I had something far better to go and watch - Tawny Owls.

My friend Ian "Owlsy's" Howells ( try saying that after a drink) has got an absolutely fantastic hide where over the last two years he has managed to attract a family of Tawny Owls.

I love any opportunity to visit as I have never failed to leave empty handed without having seen these amazing nocturnal predators.

In recent weeks Ian has been posting some "out of this world" quality pictures of the Tawny Owl family all perched together. ( Its really worth taking a look at his Facebook page) so a chance to see some recently fledged owls was too hard to resist -as if I could anyway :)

My good friend Skov was also attending and it was going to be his first visit and he was very excited.

We got all set up at the hide with Ian making sure we had everything configured right on our cameras and flash. Its a slick operation with the flash …

High tide and low water attracts the waders

I was away on the weekend so did not have chance to fit in a visit to Goldcliff Lagoons.

Instead I visited yesterday evening at high tide and spent a few hours in the heat and sunshine. The whole reserve is sun baked. All three lagoons have very low water levels with some areas completely dried up and baked solid.

As a result of the sun evaporating the water , the lagoons are shallower and full of fish and invertebrates. The drought has concentrated the bird food supplies and as a result causes the birds to congregate and take advantage of the easy pickings.

Little Egrets were every where. I have never seen so many on site. I counted 8 of these beautiful birds. There were also 4 Grey Herons stalking the waters and surrounding undergrowth.

The Herons were scaring the waders  and causing them to freak out when two of the big birds approached them. A flock of Black Tailed Godwits took to the air in fright at their approach.

There is now an incredible amount of Black Headed Gulls. They ar…

Chatter of birds on Gilwern Hill

Gilwern Hill is a favourite of mine. It adjoins the Pwll Du area and affords some great panoramic views. I would argue its got one of the best views in Gwent.
Yesterday evening I spent a few hours walking the moorland looking for wildlife.
I could hear Red Grouse but they kept out of sight. I disturbed a cock Pheasant that flew off in a fright.
The ferns that grow on the hill are now becoming quite tall and luscious with all this sun we are having. 
Above them soaring a little on the wind blowing over the ridge Meadow Pipits were taking to the air chirping away displaying above their territories. 

The ferns were full of the chatter of small birds. I kept low and hid in the sheep trails amongst the ferns and popped my head up to survey above the ferns. Perched on top were Stonechats. They looked like juvenile or female birds.
The Stonechats were very accommodating and allowed me to creep quite close. They seemed to be keeping a close eye on me bit also a family of Ravens that had lande…

A journey north to see red

I journeyed north on Sunday to Pwll Ddu planning to set up and watch the Red Arrows flying across from summit of the Blorenge. I marched up to the top of the tips with all my kit and waited. I had been following some websites online that had predicted the time, direction of travel and mapped it all out on Google Earth.

At around 12.49 pm I waited expectantly for them to come screaming in formation doing a loop back to the airshow in Swansea.

They didn't turn up! On about disapointed. I found out via Facebook they had taken a detour in Blackwoods directions.

I looked like a right so and so standing there scanning the skies. I had even told a few folks of what I was going to photograph so was a little embarrased.

But, when your out and about in one of your favourite wildlife places with fantastic views who cares. I laughed it off and concentrated on other flying things.

I did get to see something red at least. Whilst walking through a trail that winds through ferns and borders the s…

A sunny morning at Goldcliff

I had an early session of birdwatching at Goldcliff Lagoons on Sunday morning. The heat wave we are experiencing provided amazing light (behind me for a change) so was able to get a clear view of some of the bird residents. The sun has been drying up the lagoons and the water levels are very low in lagoon 1 and 2. This has had the effect of making the birds congregate together some what. On lagoon 2 there is now effectively a gull roost inhabited by a growing flock of Black Headed Gulls.

A couple of week ago I purchased a friends Birding Scope and I must admit I have been enjoying just watching bird behaviour for a change. I find the scope gives me a rest from taking pictures but also allows me learn something about the birds and give me ideas for photos. It also helps to stop me missing things as my distance vision is not as good as it used to be.

Whilst sat quietly at Lagoon 2, I was able to get some nice views of the Dunlins. They are a tiny wading species of birds. They tend to ga…