Helios and Selene Delight

Yesterday was probably the best evening I have had at Goldcliff for some time. Everything seemed to peak at the right time for me. I have spent a considerable amount of time this year at the lagoons and loved it. I am trying to document pictorially ( as well as write about it on the blog) as much of the life that goes on at the reserve. I want to try and capture it differently with my own take on the place.

I like the golden hours at Goldcliff around sunrise and sunset. Not only is the light often amazing - and also a challenge to work with, often there's more bird life around to watch. But, lately this very much depends on the tides. In recent months the birds behaviour has become intrinsically linked to the ebb and flow of the estuary's water.

Timing of my visits has therefore been important and getting that right has been challenging. Certain important things like work, illness and family get in the way,so more often than not my visits have been at odds with the high tide and I have had to make do with low tide visits and in the evenings. This however has given me the opportunity to indulge in some different styles of photography such as landscapes and night shots. 

I've particularly liked over the last year taking pictures of sunsets, phases of the moon and birds in flight.Yesterday  evening all three were going to collide together with a fourth factor - a very high tide.

Whilst I finished work and made my way to the Lagoons with this in mind, lots of fellow birders had already been to the lagoons after a great spot by a good regular birder who had seen a Bairds Sandpiper.A sighting of one of these species would be a lifer for me and a bonus but it was not my real target for photography.

The weather was perfect with clear skies on arrival and it looked like it would be settled for the night.
Several of my visits to take sunset pictures this year have suffered from the fickle nature of the weather with clouds rolling in and spoiling the show. Not this time though.

On the bird front leading up to sunset it was quiet. The Baird had exited the lagoons early afternoon time so there was a few birders mulling about hoping for it to return and not a great deal much else happening.

A large flock of Lapwings spread out on Lagoon 1 and a Peregrine Falcon has camped out on the island on Lagoon 3 which resulted in birds being pretty scarce in that lagoon. I didn't blame them with that raptor hanging about. 

I watched the Falcon for bit with one of my birder friends  I enjoy chatting to and watched a  large flock of Dunlin fly in but they soon got spooked by the raptor perched up watching them nonchalantly. My time for watching the lagoon was up and I headed off to the sea wall hoping to catch some birds flying against the setting sun or near enough.

As sunset approached I stood on the seawall and watched it in awe. You can't help but feel moved by natures magnificence and I thought how beautiful the world is - even Newport :). I watched a ship taking advantage of the high water steaming out of the docks and it was back lit by the sun. It looked like something  more akin to a view from somewhere  faraway and fanciful than South Wales.

In contrast to the lagoons the "mud" of the estuary had birds on it. The tide was marching in and both waders and waterfowl could be seen at its edges, frantically feeding as the incoming waters enveloped the mud. There must have been a hundred or so Oystercatchers , Curlew and Black Tailed Godwits out there.

I could sense the rhythms of life changing. The sun began to set and turned the sky an awesome orange colour. It was ablaze with colour. Waders took to the air and began to swirl across the estuary in flocks and suddenly as it got dark I started to get the pictures I had waited patiently for. Flocks of birds circling to roost against a backdrop of sunny orange. 

Myth and legends surround the Moon and the Suns relationships in many many cultures with diffrent takes on the relationships and the tales of those involved. I look back to the Greeks to describe the events I saw from the perspective of the cursed lovers who fell foul of the tempers of the pantheon and were cursed to see each other ever briefly twice a day. One ruled the day and one would rule the night.

Helios the Sun had put on a fantastic show  and now his fires began to fade as he descended from the heavens casting the last of his rays towards his lovers face.

Selene his beautiful lover - "The Moon" began to rise and basked in the last of  her lovers rays. She was a  fiery orange and as she rose higher into the sky became what is known as the "Hunters Moon". The dark night was illuminated by the bright moonbeams and the after glow embers of the set sun that shone on her face and lingered on the horizon. The Gods briefly embraced.

It was a tremendous sight to behold from east to west, moonlight and sunlight all across the heavens with stars twinkling and skies lit up with cold moonshine and the warm after glow of sunset.

I had some company during the spectacular show from a friendly fisherman who ended up being my photographic stooge for the evening. I saw my first whiting and cod caught on a rod fresh from the sea. They were small tiddlers compared to whats out there but it was good to see the reserve and the estuary from a fisherman's perspective. 

The evening ended with the mist rolling in across the moon lit lagoons which was both an eerie and serene sight - it also caused havoc with my lenses as it misted them up. 

Goldcliff Lagoons never fails to delight the senses, what a fantastic reserve, long may it continue  and long may we cherish it.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

A fiery sky and boat departing the docks


Waders and wildfowl make the most of the mud before the tide embraces it.

Tides in and the waders flock, circle and eventually settle on the lagoons.


Oystercatchers come in to roost

Curlew flying in across the tide waters to roost

Fishing off the sea wall.

Selene the Moon lit by her  lover the Suns after glow

The moon was so bright it lit up the night. The mist looked amazing.

Standing on the wall


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