Putting a gloss on things

It was a foggy start to Saturday. The spring warmth we have been enjoying all week had faded and a cold flow of air had moved in. Low lying areas were covered in a blanket of fog. It wasn't the warmest out. I decided to visit Goldcliff Lagoons later in the day hoping that the fog would burn off and I could time it well with an afternoon high tide.

As the sun broke through the mist things started to brighten up a little I headed south to the lagoons.

On arrival I was greeted by dense layer of fog that had covered the reserve and the estuary. Visibility was really poor and you know its bad when you can hear ship fog horns booming hauntingly out in the gloom.

Entering the reserve I caught up with a few birders who,not surprisingly, had struggled to see a great deal but as usual I got some information on some of the weekly sightings. The Ibis was still showing daily and interestingly some Curlew Sandpipers had been observed at the reserve during the week.

Heading in hoping for the sun to make an appearance I checked out the first hide and the platforms.
Not that much to be seen apart from the usual Avocet, Redshank,Lapwings and Shovelers, and Shelducks.

Then I got talking to a couple of birders and heard a commotion and out of the gloom came a big flock of Black Tailed Godwits that also had some Knot and Dunlins in with them.

They hurtled in formation around the reserve and then descended into Monks ( Lagoon 1).

Black Tailed Godwits and Knot appear out of the gloom.

Touch Down at Monks ( Lagoon 1 - viewed from Snipe Platform)

I love the Godwits so made my way to the Redshank platform and set up with my kit to watch them and wait for some action.

I was soon joined by my birding friends Nev and Chris. The extra eyes always helps when spotting birds - especially in the fog.

It began to brighten and blue sky began to move in. Overhead a Swallow past through. The first I have seen at the lagoons. Hooray summer is here :)

Taking a good look at the big flock of Godwits three Ruff were feeding at the back of them. Two of the Ruff looked like males and you could see the summer plumage coming through.

I suspect that some of these birds may be Icelandic breeders and are gathering to prepare for imminent migration. The Godwits are rare birds and Schedule 1 so we really are fortunate to have them at the reserve. They have never bred at Goldcliff but perhaps one day that could change.

The waders were pretty quiet. Preening and feeding mainly and having the odd leg and wing stretch.

The Glossy Ibis surprised us as it dropped in onto the Island at Monks (Lagoon 1). That is a first to see on this lagoon. Lately its behaviour has changed significantly with it turning up at all times of day almost.

"Flossy the Glossy" on Monks Island ( Lagoon 1)

Then chaos reigned as something scared the Godwits and everything else went up into a swirling mass of birds in front of us. A challenge to photograph. Back-lit in the harsh sunlight caused trouble my camera auto focus and end result images not quite to my satisfaction this time.

Incoming flock of Black Tailed Godwits

Swirling BTG.

Black Tailed Godwits and Knots.

It was enjoyable to watch nevertheless. Then they settled and calm returned for a while. That would not last however as the status quo would be disturbed twice by man made flying machines. First a plane flew low over the reserve trailing an advertising banner. Then secondly a microlight flew over the lagoons causing havoc. Shame either of the pilots did not consider the potential impact of the flight paths. It will be breeding season soon and I do hope they refrain from similar actions.

The aircraft disturbed the lagoons residents and many made off out of the reserve and did not return for the rest of the day. So it was time to check out the rest of the reserve.

The hedgerows are were full of life. Many of the Hawthorns are in blossom and look lovely. The reeds lining the reens are bursting with the sound of songbirds. Cetti Warblers, Robins, Chiff Chaff and Reed Buntings could be heard. We also spotted some Meadow Pippits, Pied Wagtails and Linnets near the Seawall hide.

Hawthorn Blossom

Female Reed Bunting

Male Reed Bunting

Scanning the reserve from the Seawall hide we caught sight of the Glossy Ibis again. It was feeding close to the Snipe Platform on Priors ( Lagoon 2). Another new location for it.

From the Snipe platform we got to watch it preening and feeding quite close but its always made things hard as it likes to hide behind clumps of reed and grass. It did however fly to the grassy bank so it did come out into the open albeit at a distance. We were joined by two birders who had driven all the way from Stoke on Trent to see it through their scopes after reading about it in Bird Guides.

To the left of the Snipe Platform resting at the waters edge was a Spotted Redshank. It appeared to be dozing off at times.

Spotted Redshank on Priors ( Lagoon 2) viewed from Snipe Platform

I stayed until sunset but the lagoons remained quite calm and devoid of the waders appeared to have been well scared off by the aircraft earlier in the day. As dusk approached a Marsh Harrier flew in over the reeds at Prior before slowly moving off across the reserve.

The tide was now well out and the descending sun hidden behind a thin veil of clouds. On my way out of the reserve I again spotted two Water Voles near Hide 1 in the reen.

An interesting day and the Glossy showing so well was a big surprise.

Setting sun through a veil of cloud.


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