Boxing Day Birdwatch

There was absolutely no wind at Goldcliff this morning. It felt very" becalmed". Almost as if the reserve was waiting for something to happen.

Today I was joined by by friend Ian Howells, he was taking a break from his bird hides for a change.

It was quite busy throughout the reserve despite the quiet feel about the place. There were lots of Teal, Shoveller,Shelduck and Wigeon around and the odd Gadwall Duck. The Teal especially were whistling away and making quite a noise and regularly taking to the air to move from lagoon to lagoon. Teal are incredibly fast flying ducks and generally fly at pace wherever they go.

Teal hurtling across the reserve

There was a high tide this morning and the whole estuary was almost like a mill pond, flat, devoid of waves and almost mirror like. It was difficult to distinguish the sky from the water on the horizon - it just blended into a hazy white. There were lots of ducks out floating on the water. Every now and then a small flock of Oystercatchers would fly low across the water in formation calling as they flew.

The Curlews were not roosting on Monks but were found in a large flock of over 200 birds at Becs Lagoon where we had a quite a good view of them from the Seawall hide. They were accompanied by 5 "Plovers", either Grey or Golden I think, but in the poor light I must admit, I am struggling to identify them with confidence.

Curlews front and "Plovers" at the rear - Golden or Grey?

Looking across the lagoon "Bosprey", the very white buzzard was perched on a fence post on the reserves border. This bird is a real beauty. Its plumage is amazing and I would love to see it close up. I have been lucky to have been to Ians hide to take pictures of a wild Buzzard and they are a sight to behold when you manage to get near to them.

As the sun began to rise and the light levels increased the Curlews began to get quite active, calling to each other and generally starting to fidget. I expected them to take flight like they usually do but they seemed content to stay today even though the sun was rising. The flock even began to grow in size as the high tide pushed more birds inland.

The status quo was not going to last. Suddenly the whole flock of Curlews and the Plovers exploded into the air in a noisy panic. Up they went filling the sky briefly with birds. I could not work out what had caused them to go skywards.

Curlews fill the sky


 Then Ian spotted a Peregrine Falcon perched on the island at Becs Lagoon not far from where the Curlews had been. It was feeding very happily on a bird it had caught. I could not make out what the prey species was but it was the size of a small wader.

The local Peregrines really seem to love the lagoons at the moment and whatever hunting strategy they are using seems to be working well.

Peregrine Falcon with a kill

After a while the Peregrine flew off. "Bosprey" was quick to swoop in and pick up the left overs.
Its interesting to see how the one kill by the Peregrine benefited others. Soon after the Buzzard flew off with some mouthfuls a Carrion Crow flew in and cleaned up whatever was remaining.

Bosprey


With the Peregrine gone the other bird residents steadily returned to the lagoon.

Then a couple walked along the Pill - reserve side. This area is out of bounds and only accessible by jumping over gates/fences that are clearly marked. I have no idea who they got there but they did look a little lost.

The affect of these walkers was to cause the ducks to scatter skywards and a big flock of Lapwings went up into the air.

Moments later a big flock of Dunlins looped around Becs Lagoon having hurtled across the reserve from the direction of Monks. I managed to get some good pictures of them as they passed in front of the hide.

Big flock of Dunlins

Dunlin flypast

As I headed back through the reserve I stopped at Hide 1 and relocated the Peregrine sat on the island at Monks. It looked quite content. I think it was likely to be the same bird I saw earlier.

I finished off my morning watching a pair of Stonechats that popped up and perched on the fence wires.

Not a bad Boxing days bird watch at all.

Male Stonechat





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