A days bird watching on both sides of the Seven

My day started at Goldcliff Lagoons. I was joined early on by my friend Neville Davies. He is a keen naturalist and writes quite prolifically about wildlife in a number of outlets including the Majorca Daily Bulletin.

 Nev has considerable knowledge of birds on this Spanish Island. Last year I helped him out with a few pictures he needed for some of his stories.

More recently Nev has been writing blog posts on his own website and I would recommend anyone with an interest in nature to take a look.

I must admit I was a little disappointed by the weather. It was dark and miserable. Not the best for photography. I was hoping to see a Black Redstart again and it tends to like making an appearance near Hill Farm when there is some sunshine.

Whilst walking to the sea wall we heard some geese calling and then seconds later five White Fronted Geese flew over our heads. There call is completely different to the Canada and Greylag geese we usually hear.

My camera remained in my bag. The poor light at dawn meant there was no chance of getting any worthwhile pictures.

Out on the estuary the tide was on its way in. It was being pushed up a little by a cold wind.

On the waters edge was a flock of Curlews, Grey Plovers, Shelduck and some Oystercatchers. The waders continue to avoid flying into the lagoons in great numbers. The Peregrines remain "camping out" on the lagoons so they no doubt are not helping to encourage  waders in. The Curlews braved it and trickled in off the estuary in small flocks.

Nev and me were joined by my friend Paul who is another regular visitor to the reserve and keen photographer.

Priors (Lagoon 2) was busy today with waterfowl. There were big numbers of Shoveler ( Anas clypeata)  ducks. These big ducks have huge broad "shovel" like beaks. Apparently each beak has over a 100 "Lamellae". These are comb like projections that are used to filter the water for invertebrates and seeds.

Whilst some Shovelers breed in the UK the vast majority are winter migrants and breed in Northern Europe , Iceland and apparently there is a big breeding population in the Netherlands.

Beautiful Shovelers


The male birds are spectacular looking with striking plumage. I love the shade of green their plumage possesses and the yellow eyes of the males make a great contrast. They are skittish ducks and every time I sneak into the viewing platform they hurtle away there feet slapping loudly as they try to gain enough speed to take off and flee.

When the ducks finally settled down I had the opportunity to see what species were using Priors. Two hundred or so Wigeon were settled on the surrounding banks. Smaller numbers of Teal , Mallards and the odd Gadwall.  A sole,lonely looking Black Tailed Godwit also stood out.

Shovelers, Wigeon and Geese

The geese were out in full force. These big wildfowl are often overlooked and birders can be a little dismissive of them. I think the Canadian and Greylag geese make fantastic subjects to photograph especially in flight. Both species do rather well at the reserve and successfully breed every year.

Our visit was marked by waves of noisy geese hurtling across the lagoons coming into land. They really are raucous and make a big entrance on the scene.

Incoming geese

Canadian and Greylag Geese

Becs (Lagoon 3) was dominated by a big flock of Shelduck and a solitary Dunlin. The latter occupied our attention for a while as we debated whether it could be a Broad Billed Sandpiper but it was not to be.

The Shelducks panicked and exploded up into the air and gave us a quite a flypast. Bosprey was in the vicinity and a Peregrine was on its rock perch at Monks (lagoon 1) but no obvious protagonist could be seen.

Shelduck

As mid morning approached we decided to visit what I call "Goldcliff Point". Its part of the sea wall that lies on the other side of Hill Farm. Its a place that my father used to take me as a child to do some bird watching.

En route we stopped at the Seawall cafe for refreshments and had a nice cuppa.

Whilst enjoying the view of the estuary from another perspective I notice a flock of Common Ringed Plovers at the waters edge as the tide receded exposing the food rich mud and rocks.

The plovers were accompanied by Dunlins and Turnstones. It was a treat to watch them a little closer than I am used to. They are hard to spot as they blend into the background easily.

Common Ringed Plovers and Dunlins at Goldcliff Point

Dunlins and Turnstones

Turnstones and Dunlins

On our way back it was interesting to watch a Magpie de-ticking a sheep whilst hanging off the animals sides.

Magpie on cleaning duties

I then left my compatriots and headed over the old Seven Bridge to Aust Wharf on the hunt for Short Eared Owls.

Unfortunately the Short Eared Owls did not show. There has been four visiting the Wharf lately. I explored the area this time and walked all the way down to Northwick and checked out the waters edge. A local birder told me there were White Fronted Geese at the Flash. Along the waters edge were Curlew, Wigeon and a few Dunlins.

At the waters edge at Northwick., looking across at Aust Wharf.


My highlight was watching a female Kestrel hunt at dusk. She was really busy and made several attempts at a vole but I did not see her successfully catch anything.

Female Kestrel

Kestrel hunting Aust Wharf

Kestrel hunting at dusk. The light was difficult to work with but I think I captured something of the birds awesome flight.

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