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Purple on the rocks

  I have the real pleasure of writing my first blog post of 2022 about a trip to Battery Point, Portishead, Bristol to photograph Purple Sandpipers (Calidris Maritima). As many of my readers will know I love waders probably above all bird species and so when I had the opportunity to get some pictures with my good friend Paul Joy of this rare, specially protected and very confiding wader species that winters in the UK coastland I was really excited. Up until this point I had never seen a Purple Sandpiper. They are small waders, bigger than a Dunlin but slightly smaller and less robust than a Turnstone.  They migrate to the UK in the winter from as far away places as Canada, Greenland, Svalbard, Fennoscandia and Russia. They then spend their time along the coasts roosting and feeding on various rocky outcrops. They have a preference for rocks covered with seaweeds where they forage for insects, molluscs and crustaceans. They get their names because of a Purple sheen that can be seen in t

Sunrise at Goldcliff a joy to behold

This morning I was joined by my good friend Paul Joy at Goldcliff Lagoons. Paul is a a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur wildlife photographer and all round naturalist. He rarely drops his smile and his happy personality always keeps my spirits up even on a bad day.

I've spent quite a bit of time with him over the last couple of years and we always end up with a tale or two to tell after our wildlife adventures.

Today we marched through the reserve stopping off at the various hides and platforms en-route. Our aim was to get to the seawall and catch the first beams of the rising sun. The weather conditions were pretty good. 

There was a mix of foreboding dark clouds and patches of blue sky. It was like the weather hadn't made its mind up what it was going to be like.  There was the usual bird life, Curlews, Shelducks, Geese and ducks but not much else. 

As dawn approached many of the birds began to depart from their night time roost on the lagoons as high tide had reached its peak and would soon begin to recede.

We arrived at the seawall just in time. The sun was just starting to peak out from the horizon and the sky was turning a lovely colour in the east.

Then the spectacle began and the mornings sun rise was fantastic. Just what you need on a cold winter morning is some nice warm rays of sunshine. It was a welcome change from the wet weather and biting cold winds of the previous days.

I think I captured the moment fairly well with Paul in his element.

Magnificent sunrise

I've been taking pictures at the location for over a year now on a weekly basis and I must admit the name "Goldcliff" is so apt, as it really is a magnificent place to take pictures of the sun.

I mentioned a little earlier how we often have a tale to tell and I am sure Paul won't mind me sharing this one today.

After taking pictures of the sunrise we headed off to the Seawall hide to do some birding.
The Seawall Hide is great location for watching the birds as your back will be to the sun so you usually get well exposed photographs as your not shooting into harsh sunlight.

I spent a few hours in there with Paul and a few other birders and then had to say my excuses and head off to due to other commitments. My friend said he was going to stay for a while longer just in case something good turned up.

Two hours later my phone starts ringing and its Paul. I thought he's gone and found something good and hes ringing to tell me (brag) :)

Paul was ringing because he  was watching some curlews (not really a headline bird - despite the fact I like them).I was surprised and asked him why he had not returned home as that seawall hide gets really cold. He said he was trying too but could not escape the hide - the doors lever had broken when someone left and he could not open the door despite some major efforts! Well I laughed :)

"Paul was now the prisoner of Seawall Hide".

He finally got out after phoning the RSPB Wetlands centre for help and the NRW Manager came to the rescue an hour later and kicked the door in. What a carry on? :). It made me laugh fair play.

Relieved to be free  from the his imprisonment he  walked up onto the seawall for some fresh air and in his excitement with his newly found freedom slipped and took a tumble down the muddy bank.

What a day for Paul, but I bet he did not stop smiling.

Whilst I write a lot about the birds at Goldcliff it can be easy to forget the people that visit.

On more occasions than I can remember a relatively dull day of birding has been made much brighter through the company of a friendly character :) 

Multi-shot Pano, Sunrise at Goldcliff Lagoons.

Sunrise above Portishead.

Sunrise at Goldcliff Lagoons

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