Waders at last on the lagoons

Tufted Ducks in large numbers yesterday


I really have been looking forward to this time of year. The great spring passage will soon be upon us with fervor. Many of the birds that migrate to the United Kingdom to stay for the winter have already started to depart.  Some of them such as the winter thrushes like Fieldfare and Redwings continue to hang around but it's only going to be a matter of time before they vanish and fly north to breed in Scandinavia and further afield.

What us bird watchers eagerly await is the return of the summer migrants. Seeing a newly arrived Wheatear that has flown thousands of miles all the way from Africa and weighs less than three-pound coins is incredible to behold. I really find it amazing. Last year I saw my first Wheatear on the twentieth of March at Goldcliff Lagoons.

Wheatear arriving on 20/03/2019 at Goldcliff


So I am now counting the days waiting for someone or perhaps even myself to report the return of these amazing little birds.

Meanwhile, there are changes afoot at Goldcliff. With the arrival of Spring, there is significant change already at the reserve. At long last, we are seeing the return of waders on the lagoons. Compared to my visit last weekend there has been an influx of Redshanks. They are on every lagoon. The biggest numbers were on  Priors lagoon as a flock of thirty or so had gathered together.

Lapwings have already started staking out their breeding patches on Monks and Becs Lagoons. It's great to see them doing display flights and mobbing anything in sight.

This weekend was the first time for many months that I did not see a single Peregrine perched on the lagoon islands. Last weekend I saw the Lapwings giving the male a really hard time so I guess that the falcons will start to only turn up at the reserve when it is dinner time as they hang around they will get picked on by very angry waders.

One of Goldcliff Lagoons other breeding species of waders also has showed up. I saw two Ringed Plovers on Monks Lagoon mixing in with the Lapwings. Things are already looking promising.

Its been a funny old year with it probably being the wettest in a very long time. I have noted the absence of certain species this year that we had this time in March 2019. I am not aware of any White-Fronted Geese having been seen all winter on the lagoons ( we had the famous five in 2019).

Black-Tailed Godwits have been scarce all winter on the reserve. This time last year we had a good flock of Black-Tailed Godwits. If we have a repeat of last year then there should be a good flock of these amazing waders by the end of the month.

The numbers of Avocets on the lagoons appear to be down from this time last year. On the eighth of March 2019, I was taking pictures of a big flock of these pied beauties on Priors lagoon. So far in 2020, the most I have observed on the lagoons have been eleven birds that did not hang about every long.

The Avocet Flock last year on 8/3/2019


Taking of birds hanging about - Goldcliffs feathered celebrity - "Flossy" the Glossy Ibis continues to reside at the lagoons. Yesterday it was showing well despite the really muggy weather. Flossy's was busy feeding with a group of Coots close to the Snipe Platform for most of the morning.

"Flossy" yesteday


The duck numbers remain pretty good. Although the Wigeon numbers are steadily decreasing. This species will migrate North to breed so will not be with us in large numbers for much longer. There were lots of Mute Swans. At one time waves of twelve birds flew overhead.

Shoveler and Wigeon


Teal


Mute Swan

What stood out for me yesterday was the numbers of Tufted Duck. At one point there was an armada of twenty-five Tufties with four Goldeneyes.

Another species that is head more than seen is the Skylark. There are quite a few of them singing their hearts out. I also noticed quite a few Meadow Pipits

I do hope the weather gods decide to turn the "rain tap" off for a while in the heavens - especially on the weekends. I spend most of my week indoors out of the sunshine and I could do with some Vitamin D from sunshine on the weekends for a change rather than a deluge of rain and clouds on my Saturday visits.

Thinking on the positive side though the nights are drawing out and soon I will enjoy my evening visits again and perhaps the odd sunset if I am lucky.

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