Nothing to see in the rain unless you look harder
Rain. Lots of it. I got very wet today.
Goldcliff was bleak during my weekly visit. I moved quickly from hide to hide as they offered little dry oases away from the wet stuff. The skies were grey and the light was poor. Not the best conditions for taking well exposed photographs. Despite the less than optimal conditions, I enjoyed myself as usual.
Nature does not stop just because of bad weather. In fact life just goes on. The tide was out this morning resulting in low numbers of waders. As I peered out through the rain in the dry hides I did see some bird life.
The remnants of the Curlew roost were on Monks (Lagoon 1). They started to call as soon as I saw them and then were off towards the estuary mud to feed. A small flock of Shelducks fed in the lagoons waters and seemed quite content to stay. The surrounding grass was home to grazing Greylag and Canadian Geese. The latter are absolutely everywhere at the moment throughout the Gwent Levels.
A break in the rain enabled me to move outside and reach the Marsh Platform. Its great to see Priors Lagoon (Lagoon 2) full of water. Its about time. The summers drought caused it to look more like death valley. On first glance there appeared to be nothing on it.
Certainly with the naked eye and having no clue as to what could be out there , it would appear to be devoid of bird life.
|The view from the Marsh Hide at Priors Lagoon. Can you see any birds? Difficult isn't it?|
With a big lens or scope however there is life of the feathered kind to be found. Even then you need to concentrate when scanning the last strip of mud.
Hidden almost from view were 22 Common Snipe (latin Gallinago Gallingo). The name "Gallina" in Latin means something like " resembling a chicken" (Ref 1). Quite boring if you ask me. These birds have amazing camouflage.
|Looking closer at the lagoon through the big camera lens and scope reveals the Common Snipe.|
|Even when they move about it remains difficult to stay focused on them.|
When they are settled against the mud and reeds backdrop the brown zig zagged plumage almost makes them invisible. Just staring at them makes my eyes hurt through having to concentrate. You can blink and look at another spot and lose them in a matter of moments.
The word "Sniper" is apparently derived from this bird due to the fact it can remain hidden from view.
I wish I could get a closer view in better light but I guess that will have to wait until another day.
For a short time a Greenshank flew in close to the Snipe. It was a pretty looking bird, its white plumage standing out in the gloomy light.
Leaving the Snipe to it I checked out the estuary. It was so windy on the wall I had a job to hold my lens still. Lets just say there were some Turnstones and Oystercatchers feeding along the shoreline and leave it at that.
In the Seawall hide I enjoyed some company from two other birders. Sat on a fence on the seawall was "Bosprey" as it resembles a Osprey. Its a light plumage Buzzard . There is actually two similar birds that frequent the lagoons area and they are probably related.
|"Bosprey" watching Becs Lagoon.|
The weather improved for a while so I ventured along the pill through the salt marshes. Big mistake. As soon as I did the wind picked up and the rain was sheeting across the estuary and up over the wall. By the time I reached the view point at Boat Lane I was soaked through.
Then the sun broke through for about a quarter of an hour and if by magic the birds began to fly about.
|The sea wall at the end of Boat Lane. That was the moment the sun came out.|
Another Buzzard swooped in close by startling the wild fowl on the marshes. The tide was coming in out on the estuary and I watched some waders on the mud. A nice flock of Avocets descended to the shore line and joined a big flock of wigeon, shelducks and redshank. A big flock of Starlings flew over head and two Meadow Pipits perched on a fence close by.
|Buzzard swooping in across the salt marsh.|
|Avocet, Wigeon and Shoveler could be seen through the murky rain.|
|Flock of Shelduck|
The suns appearance however was brief and soon the wet muggy weather returned.
My weekends bird watching was over and I packed my bags and made for the car. As I reached where it was parked I caught sight of a female Kestrel for a few seconds. A nice bird to end my day with.
Lapwings, Loons and Losy Jacks - The How and Why of Bird Names by Ray Reedman ( This is a brilliant read).