A glossing over a mornings birding at Goldcliff Lagoons

"Flossy" the Glossy Ibis

 Yesterday morning I had travelled almost the length of the old county of Gwent chasing a sunrise with my friend Paul Joy. We had travelled north to Pwll Ddu hoping to catch a cool sunrise over the Skirrid only to arrive at the Keepers Pond and discover that thick pea-souper fog had enveloped the whole mountain with visibility almost zero!

Back down the county we travelled stopping at the Mountain Air, Mynydd Twyn-Glas to wait for the sun. Bad luck again struck again as big swathe of cloud obscured the horizon hiding the sunrise from view.

It was time to quit the chasing and head for Goldcliff Lagoons instead. As sod's law would have it as we pulled up at the reserve the sun rose in all its glory ( Grr) -"typical".

Any chance of this putting me in a bad mood, however, was almost instantly dismissed as we walked into the reserve under a glorious blue sky. Arriving at the reserve always lifts my spirits and I feel so excited wondering what birds will be " waiting" for me to watch.

I made a quick check of Monks Lagoon on our journey through the reserve. There wasn't a great deal on the lagoon  ( well not when I looked - later there was a Little Stint and Sparrowhawk, which my friend Nev Davies spotted).

I was keen to get to the Snipe Platform as lately, this has been the best viewing spot for waders on Priors Lagoon.

On entering the Snipe Platform we were greeted with a view of hundreds of birds on the lagoon. A big flock of Black Tailed Godwits were settled alongside the reeds on the Marsh Platform side. Little Egrets were everywhere and feeding directly in front of us was Goldcliffs celebrity bird - "Flossy" the Glossy Ibis.

"Flossy" catching eels ( elver)

The light was fantastic and when it lit up Flossy's incredible plumage it was amazing. The Glossy Ibis is now sporting some serious adult looking breeding plumage now. It remains a very difficult bird to photograph. The light plays all kinds of tricks with photographs and being able to capture the glorious colours it has is a challenge, much of it depends on luck and a lot of light shining in the right direction.

The Ibis was very active catching eels in its beak. Every time it caught one of these little slippery fish it would rush to the mussy shore evading the attentions of the egrets and it would then juggle the eel in its beak before gobbling up the unfortunate fish.

The Snipe Platform was full of avid birders ( all a good socially acceptable distance apart). I must say the conservation and banter were great and we had a great time of it.

At one point Flossy took to the air and I managed to get a fabulous flight shot showing its colours in all its glory.

The colours are amazing when the light catches them

Landing back on Piors Lagoon
The Glossy Ibis on Priors Lagoon in front of the Snipe Platform

"Flossy" takes off

Whilst Flossy attracted a lot of attention there was a lot more to see. The water levels are low now with lots of muddy scapes and island exposed. We scanned them carefully and first I saw a Green Sandpiper and the secondly Nev found a Wood Sandpiper. At one point they were both together in the same shot.

It is great to spot these slightly rarer visitors to the lagoon.

Wood Sandpiper (Left) and Green Sandpiper (Right) on Priors Lagoon
Green Sandpiper (Copyright and courtesy of Neville Davies - Twitter @ecology_cymru)

Wood Sandpiper (Copyright and courtesy of Neville Davies - Twitter @ecology_cymru)

A Marsh Harrier came cruising in over the reserve and caused chaos. The wader flock, that consisted of Black Tailed Godwits, Knot, Dunlins, Greenshank, Ruff and a single Bar-Tailed Godwit exploded into the air and swirled around the lagoon many of the birds scattering.

Black-Tailed Godwits, Knots and Dunlin

Black-Tailed Godwits, Knots and Dunlin

I like a bird of prey to come through every now and again as it mixes things up and sometimes helps to spot other species of birds that may have been hiding from view.

It was a fantastic morning at Goldcliff Lagoons. Loads of birds, lots of enthusiastic and friendly birders, lots of laughs and great memories to be shared.

Bird List

  1. Curlew
  2. Oystercatcher
  3. Lapwing
  4. Greenshank
  5. Knot
  6. Black-Tailed Godwit
  7. Bar-Tailed Godwit
  8. Ruff
  9. Wood Sandpiper
  10. Green Sandpiper
  11. Dunlin
  12. Ringed Plover
  13. Redshank
  14. Glossy Ibis
  15. Little Egret
  16. Grey Heron
  17. Coot
  18. Moorhen
  19. Carrion Crow
  20. Magpie
  21. Green Woodpecker
  22. Linnet
  23. Yellow Wagtail
  24. Pied Wagtail
  25. Marsh Harrier
  26. Starling
  27. Black-Headed Gull
  28. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  29. Cormorant
  30. Shelduck
  31. Mallard
  32. Teal
  33. Shelduck
  34. Chiff Chaff
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Greater Spotted Woodpecker
  37. Swallow
  38. House Martin
  39. Sand Martin
  40. Canada Goose
  41. Buzzard
  42. Greylag Goose.
  43. Woodpigeon
  44. Wheatear
  45. Goldfinch

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