A trip to WWT Llanelli

On Saturday I ventured west and decided to utilise my WWT membership with a visit to WWT Llanelli. I have been before to this great reserve and enjoyed it. When I last visited I saw my first Black Tailed Godwits and also snapped some amazing flight shots of these wonderful waders.

This visit resulted in me arriving early and I was first of the visitors through the door. I made my way hastily through the visitor centre and walked through the reserve in the direction of the British Steel Hide. There is a mixture of "captive" and wild wildfowl in various fenced areas that contain ponds. Some of the birds are quite a rare sight normally in the UK. What I like about these areas is that you can get close to the birds. They are used to being fed and visitors are encouraged to purchase seed that can be fed to the various species of ducks and geese.

For a time I was quite content to watch Smew, Lesser White Fronted Geese, Bewick Swans, Greylags, Shelduck, Red Crowned Cranes,Barnacle and White Fronted Geese, Eiders and Tufted Ducks paddle and waddle in front of me. You can really appreciate their amazing plumage close up.

White Fronted Goose


Smew

Barnacle Geese


I like the character of the geese. The White Fronted Geese were quite bold approaching me to be fed and hissing at me in disapproval when I photographed them instead.

Further into the reserve I got lost and ended up admiring the plumage of Californian Flamingos. They greeted me in the early morning sun in their incredibly vividly pink plumage. A number of them started bathing and preening affording me some nice views.

Californian Flamingo


Eventually after a few detours I arrived at the British Steel Hide. This is seriously well positioned hide, with views over a lagoon area and the estuary to the front. To the rear it looks over another lagoon type area.

The rear lagoon had a small flock of Black Tailed Godwits. It was probably the closest I have seen this species so far. I watched them gradually get closer as they walked up onto the grass banks and began feeding. Every now and then they would get skittish and fly back to the water and gather together again before venturing back to the grass.

Black Tailed Godwits

Feeding on the grass banks

Gathering together

Nice clear shots of their Black Tails


Out front of the hide was a flock of about twenty Redshanks. Most of them were roosting and pretty quiet. A Greenshank put an appearance in and it was nice to see how different it looked to the Redshanks. Its lighter colour and green legs stood it apart.

Greenshank


There was a flock of about sixty Wigeon grazing on the grass and a flock of Black Headed Gulls. Further out towards the Estuary was a group of Lapwings.

I heard a bit of a commotion at the rear of the hide and watched a pair of Mistle Thrushes displaying and fighting each other.

Spring seems to be almost upon us. The birds behaviour is now starting to focus on breeding rather than surviving the winter.

Mistle Thrushes Fighting


I spent a while walking around the rest of the reserve. I found myself watching some Garganey . Not something I see every day. Interesting  plumage on these Teal sized ducks. Whilst it consists of browns, blacks and whites the pattern is quite intricate.

Garganey Ducks ( the male is on the right).


I witnessed a huge scrap between two drake Mallards. They were really wrestling each other their necks entwined twisting and turning for supremacy over each other.

Wrestling drake Mallards


A friendly member of the WWT staff told me that an Otter was regularly showing by the Peter Scott Hide. I spent some time waiting and watching but I was out of luck on this visit.

I finished off my morning with a return to the British Steel Hide. In front of the hide the other side of lagoon three Spoonbills had settled. Always an exotic sight and my first of 2019.

Spoonbills

Overall it was relatively quiet compared to my last visit but it was nevertheless well worth spending a few hours at this wonderful welsh reserve.

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