Skip to main content


Skomer Part 1 - The first voyage

A Manx Shearwater I have recently returned from my annual pilgrimage to the island of Skomer, having enjoyed a fabulous three days of birding along the Pembrokeshire coastline with my "Three Amigo" friends Paul and Nicola. We had been planning for the trip for ages. Leading up to our trip the days, hours and seconds seemed to pass ever so slowly. It's then just typical once you end up going on your trip it seems to be over way too quickly - time certainly flies when you are enjoying yourself and in good company. This year we had  arranged three boat trips through Pembrokeshire Boat Trips Day 1 - Seabird Spectacular Day 2 - Skomer Day 3 - Grassholm I have decided to write three blog posts documenting the trip and this is the first one to kick things off. The First Voyage. The weather forecast was looking rather dodgy for the weekend with high winds and rain predicted. Thankfully the dreaded North winds were not expected so there was a very good chance that most of the boat

A November morning at Goldcliff Lagoons.

Birders on the Wall

It was good yesterday to return to my usual patch. As I walked into the Goldcliff Lagoons I felt I had been welcomed back with a warm embrace. Despite it being a little damp and muggy at dawn I had that usually surge of excitement as I began my day with nature. It was good to be out in the fresh air after a busy week.

My expectations of what I might see were quite low if I am honest as things have been a little on the quiet front lately at Goldcliff. I have not seen that many reports in relation to waders but there had been a report of a Goldeneye duck in the week which was about the best thing on offer.

There was a Peregrine Falcon on Monks Lagoons island. Looking very statuesque and based on its  its size and general plumage I would judge it to be a male. Its presence on the lagoon meant that it was likely to be pretty much devoid of any kind of waders. Despite this there was three nervous looking Curlews. They did not hang about very long as soon as the sky's brightened up at first light.

Priors Lagoon had a good selection of wildfowl. Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler ducks. Coots and Mute Swans were in good numbers also. It was generally quiet though.

Wigeon started by a Marsh Harrier

Shoveler fly past

Mixture of ducks

In the field at the rear of the Snipe Platform was a big flock of grazing Canada Geese. Unknown to me at the time there were two Barnacle Geese in with them.

The hedgerows throughout the reserve had Redwing and Fieldfare. These skittish winter thrushes are a challenge see up close. Compared to this time last year they seem to be fewer in number. They should start picking up with larger flocks turning up to feed on the plentiful Hawthorn berries.

Hawthorn Berries

I had my breakfast in the seawall hide and overlooked Becs and Priors Lagoon. They are now looking very full of water and ideal for ducks overwintering on the reserve.

View of Becs and Priors Lagoons

A big flock of Wood Pigeons passed over. At this time of year they gather in huge flocks and are often moving en-mass to where the autumn food bounties can be found.


A male Marsh Harrier came in to the reserve swooping in from the direction of the pill. It caused some commotion amongst the ducks, quartered the reserve for a while and then flew away towards the Saltmarsh.

The skies brightened up and I headed off to the seawall to bask in the sunshine for a while and caught up eventually with one of my birding friends.As ever it was good to catch up and have a general chin wag.

One of the kestrels that we have been seeing at the reserve quite regularly in recent months arrived on the scene and at one stage landed on one of the window sills of the seawall hide before settling on a seawall post.

Kestrel on the window sill

There were fisherman also on the seawall taking advantage of the high tide. It was amazing to see one of them catch what looked like a Cod and clamber down the rocks to land it and then carefully lug it back up the rocks.

A happy fisherman with his catch of the day

I often marvel at how keen some birders eyesight are. I often struggle these days with distance stuff which I find a challenge ,although I don't miss that much - I put my lucky spots down to using the "force" :).

I was in the company of a birder who must have super vision as he can spot a Siskin, Knot, Pied Wagtail and kinds of birds a mile off even without a scope. I first met him about two years ago and he was watching a Peregrine Falcon that was high in the sky resembling something more akin to a full stop!

 He then went on to tell me it was young male juvenile and more or less knew its birthday!
You would think sometimes that he is making it up but I have often taken a picture of what he has seen and zoomed in on it using the computer and found that he was bang on. Hes got lots of knowledge to back it up as well and I enjoy "using" him as a spotter for my photographs when he is around.

We were joined by a trio of fellow birders - two that I am often in the company with at Goldcliff.
They also don't miss much and pointed out to me that there were two Barnacle Geese in with the Canadas.

I decided to leave some of my friends and get a picture of the Barnacle Geese for my records. I bumped into another one of my birding friends and also spotted the Goldeneye duck on Priors. It was awkward to get a picture of it, as every time I focussed on it the bird dived under water.

Two Barnacle Geese

The skies remained quite busy with bird life the rest of the morning. A female Marsh Harrier cruised in and caused some chaos amongst the ducks and some Curlews came in. The tide was high but most of the waders remained out at the waters edges near Goldcliff Pill.

Female Marsh Harrier, Little Egret and Carrion Crow

From the seawall a flock of Oystercatchers, Avocets and Dunlin could be seen. There was also the odd Grey Plover mixed in apparently.

4 x Knots

Later my keen eyed birding friend reported seeing a Black Redstart perched on the Snipe Platform.

Despite our best efforts later we could not relocate it for a photograph.

It has been a  good few hours at the reserve I enjoyed a catch up with my birding friends and had my weekly does of "bird therapy" to clear away those mental cobweb.


Popular Posts