A wet and windy spring tide at Goldcliff Lagoons

Kestrel in the rainstorm. I think its a juvenile female. My highlight of the day.

It was dark and wet this morning at the reserve. I was hoping for a break in the rain and a little sunshine I got neither really. There was a thick layer of cloud and a persistent drizzle as I started to open the hide windows of the first hide at Goldcliff.

A gusty wind and spray of rain greeted my eager face as I peered out into the gloom at Monks Lagoon. There were plenty of birds but they were all just dark silhouettes and difficult to make out clearly. One species stood out with their distinctive shape and large bills were Curlews. There was a lot of them and some had color rings -too dark for me to make out but my friend Neville later grabbed some pics for identification and reporting purposes.

A dawn roost of Curlews

A lagoon full of birds

On the far side of the island were Dunlin, Grey Plover, Godwits (the Gwent Recorder who joined me at one point told me there was Black and Bar-Tailed Godwits. I heard a couple of Greenshank calling out of the darkness somewhere in the periphery. There was even some Greylag Geese that were tagged.

A flock of Knots had gathered on the far side of the lagoon and things were looking promising if some sunshine put an appearance in. That was unlikely as the rain came down in a torrent and we were forced into a retreat further into the hide,  out of the rain that blasted through the open hide windows.

The waders were very skittish and something spooked some of the birds and before we knew it the main bulk of the Knots had vanished.

Whilst waiting out the rain shower with Nev we were amazed to see a huge flock of Shelducks rise up from the mud as high tide reached its zenith. You could see water splashing over the wall so it was a very high tide. Either the saltmarsh had flooded or some species of raptor had caused the ducks to flock en masse into the sky.

Huge flock of Shelducks

A Great Black-backed Gull swept in over Monks and this was just too much for the Curlews and they called out in panic and launched themselves skywards. In a matter of moments, the whole lagoon had emptied.

I don't know where most of the birds went to as the tide was at its highest. My bet is on them heading to the saltmarsh area for a roost down towards Redhouse Barn.

Curlews take flight

During a break in the rain, we headed to the Seawall hide to get out of the driving wind and to see what was on Becs Lagoon. Enroute we noted 63 Knot had gathered on Priors Lagoon but apart from that there was little to see other than some Teal, Mute Swans and a single Black Swan.

At the seawall hide, we were joined by a few other birders including John "Mr Video" Lawton. Not a great deal was present on Becs apart from two juvenile Spoonbills. There has been a lot of these turning up quire regularly. Recently 12 Spoonbills were seen. It's just amazing to see these big exotic birds putting in an appearance. My friend and Goldcliff regular- John Lawton was fortunate to see 8 Great White Egrets which has to be a record for the reserve ( You can watch his videos here). These species of birds are really starting to spread out from reserves such as Ham Wall in Somerset. Like their smaller cousins the Little Egrets I am sure they will become regular visitors and eventually the sightings will be almost commonplace in Wales.

Pair of juvenile Spoonbills

Spoonbill over Priors Lagoon

Scanning Becs, a Snipe and Greenshank were seen tucked up in the grassy borders of the lagoon. Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails swept past the hide in small flocks.

A flock of Redshank sped past us at one point followed by a flock of Knots and a single Turnstone. Further afield near the fields at the back of the Marsh Platform, a big flock of Lapwings went high in the sky before heading off to the saltmarsh.

A female Sparrowhawk perched briefly on a post before swooping low over the water to the far side of the reserve.

A female Kestrel was very entertaining. She hunted around the hide, got mobbed by the crows and occasionally settled on a post briefly gracing us with some nice views.

Female Sparrowhawk

A small flock of waders landed on the mud opposite the seawall hide. It consisted of Dunlins and Ringed Plovers. They were quite skittish and every now and again hurtled off around the lagoon before settling in the same spot. At one point a single Knot joined them.

Ringed Plover and Dunlins flypast the seawall hide.

The weather did not really improve and made photography quite a challenge as the light was so poor.

I decided to try some monochrome ( black and white ) pictures today to document my sightings for the blog. I think the look of them suits the weather conditions today and how bleak it was.


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