A dull day but one bird put a gloss on it

Lets be honest. This weekends weather has not been that good. Its been wet and dull for most of it. Yesterday I did not even consider venturing out with the camera . This morning however the forecast looked a little better. It did not predict rain but it did not mention sun either. My addiction to Goldcliff got the better of me and so I set out before dawn for the reserve.

As I approached things were looking promising. There was peek of red on the horizon , the pre-dawn sun threatening to make an appearance. Unfortunately it chose not to and instead opted to hide behind the grey clouds.

Peering out from the first hide into the gloom I could see a big flock of Curlews in their usual roosting spot on Monks Lagoon. They started to get agitated and were calling to each other. This is always a sign that they are about to make an exit. They rarely hang around after first light.

The other notable inhabitants of the lagoon were a flock of about sixty Black Tailed Godwits. That's the largest flock I have seen together at Goldcliff in one of the lagoons for sometime. They were soon gone after something scared the feathers off them and they fled towards the estuary. The Curlews were soon to follow them. A flock of Lapwings swirled around the lagoon for a while before settling down.

I got bored with staring into the gloom and the grey horizon. The light was so poor it was difficult to see much unless I used my scope. My camera was next to useless - it hates a lack of good light.

I walked around the reserve and entered the Marsh Platform. There was a lot of Wigeon dabbling in Priors and they are like the equivalent of "feathered trip wires". As soon as I sneaked into the viewing platform they exploded into the air.

 As I stood and watched them I then saw a big black bird that looked at first sight like a Curlew crossed with a Cormorant rise out of the middle of the reeds. It did a quick spin in alarm as if it could not decide which way to go. I then realised that this was something quite special - it looked like a Glossy Ibis. Having never seen one before I had to take a double take and obviously tried to get some pictures of it.

First picture of a Glossy Ibis at  Priors Lagoon Goldcliff.


Glossy Ibis silhouette 

Wigeon - "Feathered Trip Wires"

As ever the light was less than optimal and the bird caught me unawares. The pictures I did get clearly show its a Glossy Ibis and the silhouettes make identification quite easy,

My second lifer this year so it made my day. Apparently the Ibis has been seen by a number of people on the Gwent Levels recently which is very encouraging.

The Glossy Ibis is not native to the UK. They breed in France and South East Europe and are rare visitors. In recent years they have been making more of a regular appearance to Britain and some have even been seen nest building.

I think its wonderful that an exotic species like this has turned up at Goldcliff in Newport.

I was joined later by my friend Paul and we spent some time in the Seawall hide watching a fantastic looking Male Marsh Harrier terrorising the residents. It looked keen today and the Wigeon I think were top of the "Marshy" breakfast menu!

Male Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier over Priors reed bed

Swooping over the reeds

The tri-coloured raptor looked truly spectacular. "Marshys" are my personal favourite raptors and I never tire of watching these majestic birds. "If only" they would fly that little bit closer and the sun would start shining.

Paul and I found what looked like a raptor kill today. Paul did some research online using Featherbase and think that the "prey" may have been a Wigeon. Perhaps the "Marshy" may have already eaten and had been coming back for seconds.

Whilst it was a grey old day with the sun not showing the birds really did their best to put a shine on it all :)

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