Lambs, Mediterranean Gulls and Harriers

Marsh Harrier silhouetted as the sun begins to set.  

Well this time on Wednesday last week I was sat drinking cold beers, eating lovely Greek Cuisine and marvelling at the Azure coloured sea in Kefalonia. In my last post I described some of the wildlife I had seen including the odd species of gull.

So the same time this week I found myself back on my favourite patch of Wales - Goldcliff Lagoons.
By the looks of it I had brought the fantastic weather back with me but as things turned out, something from the Mediterranean may have followed me home.

On arrival at the reserve I noticed that the farmer had been cutting the grass in the reserve and he was in the process of loading up the large hay rolls. Its nice to see that the edges along the hedgerow and reens have been left to seed and flower. Great for wildlife. The reserve at the moment has a host of insect wildlife. I notice some big dragonflies and lots of butterflies - especially Painted Ladies that are in abundance this year ( I similarly saw lots of them in Kefalonia).

The grass has been mown

As I headed for the Redshank Platform I could hear a lamb bleating its little heart out. I went and investigated and found it the other side of the reen up to its neck in water. It was really struggling.
I tried to to raise the attention of the farmer but he was too busy picking up the bales of hay. I could not carry on bird watching knowing the lamb was in distress so ended up jumping the fence and walking over to the poor animal. By the time I got to the lamb it had all but given up. It was almost under. I grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and pulled - and almost put my back out and fell in with it. These lambs are heavy beasts especially when wet. It was like pulling at some gigantic aran jumper weighed down with lead.

I managed to get a good grip of it around the scruff of he neck with my one leg hanging in the water gripping the bank, I heaved it up with my other arm under its front leg. Up it eventually came ,causing me to roll back into a stingy bush ( ouch). With a little encouragement it jumped up onto its legs leaped over the barbed wire fence and ran off without a glance back.

Off without a look back - "Wheres mums that all it cared for now"

It made me chuckle I felt some what good about it all and guilty at the same time as last week I ate my fair share of lamb chops. There is more than a little bit of irony in this "good" deed tale.

Eventually I got down to some bird watching. It appears that the "autumn" migration season has already started. Hundreds of Black Headed Gulls were roosting on Monks Lagoon. Every year they do something similar whilst on passage.

In amongst them was a first for me at Goldcliff - a Mediterranean Gull. They look very similar to Black Headed Gulls but have a darker jet black head and it extends down to the back of the head.

Its almost like the game "Wheres Wally". The Med Gull is in the centre. Not so easy when there are hundreds of similar birds all around it.

There were also lots of other waders. Redshanks were in abundance. There seems to be hundreds of them at this time of year. Oystercatchers, Lapwings and Dunlins put in appearance at high tide and as the evening progressed over sixty Black Tailed Godwits showed up. The reserve was busy with lots of other species including, Shelducks, Lapwings,Curlew, Ringed Plovers,Starlings, Linnets, lots of Hirundines, Teal, Mallard and Gadwall Ducks. I saw two herons and a Cattle Egret in addition. Notable for their absence were the Avocets. Its looks like they have gone as breeding season is over.

All these birds must have attracted the Male Marsh Harrier that spent almost all evening on the periphery slowly quartering ever nearer to where the main bulk of the birds were gathering on Monks. Several times it swept in and caused havoc amongst the gulls and the air was filled with black and white birds.

Marsh Harrier quartering the reserve.

Flock of Black headed Gulls

With a golden hue.

I enjoyed the late evening golden glow that presages the setting sun. The light early on can be very harsh depending where you sit and is a challenge to work with as lots of my pictures end up being back lit or silhouetted. The closer to sunset however things change for the better - the golden hour begins proper.

I enjoyed the magnificent sunset. It was particularly good and clear. A great end to an eventful evening.

Sunset begins - Monks Lagoon and Canada Geese march with their growing goslings.

The sun goes down in the distance.


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