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 that have remained residents almost all year seem to be growing in number. The flock at my last count was close to 200 birds. The Godwits are one of my personal favourites but I continue to strive to capture a picture of an elusive Bar Tailed Godwit in flight. The latest trend has been for up to 6 Red Knot to accompany the Godwits. They look like short stubby versions of their cousins. Another nice wader to see are Ruffs. There has been a  small flock of them hanging around for a few weeks. They are all in various stages of moulting.

I've seen the Male Marsh Harrier only once over the last few weeks. He lazily flew across the lagoon causing havoc for a short time but he did not dally for long.

The Dunlins remain in great numbers and look great in their summer plumage. There are now a few juveniles mixed in with them. I was pleased to see a new bird this year for me that was hanging around with the Dunlins - a Curlew Sandpiper. I think the name is a bit of misnomer as it looks more like a Dunlin with a red breast and curled beak.

On another visit my luck continued and I saw a second lifer - a Little Stint. This small bird kept to itself on Lagoon 1 but was not far from a flock of Dunlins. The waders seemed to be feasting on small insects in the water and large numbers of flies.

As the last couple of weeks have progressed the water in Lagoon 2 has vanished and it looks like death valley. This has had the effect of concentrating the birds even further.

One evening I was really pleased to get a male Sparrowhawk swoop in and land on a post near the sea wall hide. I got treated to a great view in the late evening sun. It stayed for a while and preened itself before focusing its attention on a big flock of waders.

It was the moment I was waiting for as it caused the waders to erupt into the air in big swirling flocks. They all flock together when threatened and I find its a feast for my eye and I love taking flight shots.

Yesterday evening was my latest visit at high tide. It was very hot and dry. Lots of birds continued to be on show.

On my way to the seawall hide I followed a small flock of  6 Yellow Wagtails. Beautiful little birds. One in-particular perched close to where I had set up and I managed to grab a few pics.

Two Kestrels made an appearance which was good. I watched a male hunting along the sea wall. It looked fabulous in the evening sun.

As the sun began to set the birds began to gather in greater numbers for a night time roost.
There were large flocks of Oystercatchers, Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlins, Ringed Plovers and Black Headed Gulls at Lagoon 3 just before the sun went down.

They got startled when two persons decided to walk around the back of the reserve ( trespassing) and they all took flight. I wish people would show some respect and care for the reserve. There are plenty of signs to warn them its a nature reserve and there are large areas off limits. The electric perimeter fence etc should give anyone with sense a clue!

In any case the birds afforded me some great flock shots in the setting sun light.

One thing I have enjoyed is the friendly  people I have come across during my visits. Its good to catch up with "Birders" and "Toggers" a like.

 I see very little difference these days between these groups and most people have a foot in both camps even if some people are in denial about it ;).

We all have more in common than not and can learn from each other always. I guess the phrase "Birds of a Feather Flock Together" also applies to us bird lovers.

I cant wait until my next visit - "diu vivere Goldcliff"

Male Sparrowhawk. Wow.

Black Tailed Godwits

Flock of Dunlins. There is a Curlew Sandpiper in shot (Its red compared to the Dunlins)

Dunlins, Lapwings, Ruff ,Redshank and a Black Tailed Godwit

Yellow Wagtail

Black Tailed Godwits

Sunset at Goldcliff

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