A stormy day at Goldcliff Lagoons does not put off a bunch of happy birders


Black-Tailed Godwit and Knots

Many a birder visited Goldcliff Lagoons today hoping to catch a glimpse of the latest rarety to visit the reserve - the Pectoral Sandpiper.

Today the high winds and rain that Storm Ellen has delivered seemed to result in the Pectoral keeping out of sight. Once again the Spring Tide was very high, probably in excess of forty feet and the water was banging up against the sea wall resulting in a spray of water over the top of it. The salt marshes that border the pill and coastline along Newport Wetlands Reserve were completely submerged.

Spring Tide covered the salt marsh

Rain stopped play early on today resulting in a group of us birders retreating to the shelter of the hides. Thanks god they are not locked as we would have been soaked through.

Later when the rain eased off we all ventured back out into the fresh air. The wind was blowing a gale and on the Snipe Platform my eyes were watering so much I had a job to see.

There was quite a few birds around but they were staying out of the wind and hunkered down throoughout the reserve. Monks Lagoon was relatively quiet compared to how it has been over the last week. No sign of the Pectoral. It could be there sheltering on the Island from the wind but there was no sign of it.

A Whimbrel was sat down on the mud directly in front of Hide 1 and blended so well in it was almost invisible.

Priors Lagoon had the usual big flock of Black-Tailed Godwits and Knots. "Flossy" the Glossy Ibis sheltering with them at the edge of the water near the central reed bed. In the distance on the mud were Redshanks and Dunlins. No Sandpipers though could be made out at this distance.

At one point a Swift flew overhead and a Swallow.

From the Marsh Platform, another flock of Black-Tailed Godwits and Redshank were also sheltering. In amongst them was a lighter colored bird with green legs - a Greenshank. Perched on a fencepost near the platform was a single Wheatear that was trying to prevent itself from being blown off by the wind.


Today I was joined by a great bunch of birders and despite the difficult weather conditions, we had a great time with lots of good-natured banter and conversation. I think many a visitor to the lagoons enjoys the generally very warm welcome the local birders give anyone who cares to chat and be friendly. I love the way many birders share their knowledge and help people to identify birds. As a number of us sat in the seawall hide there was a genuine feeling of a shared enjoyment of the reserve and love of birds.

The views from the Seawall hide were probably the best we had during the morning's visit. It was good to escape the strong wind and at times the sun came out and shone on a big flock of Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, and Turnstones. There was also a Sanderling, four or five Knots, and an Oystercatcher.

A welcoming birder at Goldcliff Lagoons.

A juvenile looking Peregrine Falcon came racing in and caused mayhem. The flock of waders hurtled around over the seawall and back again around Becs Lagoon before settling back where they started.

The wader flock on Becs

The flock returns

On the part of Priors Lagoons that you can see from the seawall hide the group spotted a Curlew Sandpiper feeding on the mud and a short time later it was joined by a Sanderling.

Curlew Sandpiper

Looking left along the fenceline Wheatear and Whinchats were spotted perched up before diving off into the long grass. In the distance, a Little Egret could be seen in a shallow pool with what was thought to be a Green Sandpiper feeding around its feet.

Walking back around the reserve the tide was well in and a group us took the opportunity to stand on the wall and watch the waves come crashing in. An impressive tide for sure.

Big waves

Bursting up in the air from Priors Lagoons reed bed rocketing skywards were the Godwit and Knot flock. They did an aerobatic display for a while as they circled around and settled back in the shelter of the lagoon.

The Godwits take flight

A flock fly pass

Another great day at Goldcliff Lagoons and it was good to see so many happy smiley birders.

Bird List

  1. Glossy Ibis
  2. Sanderling
  3. Curlew Sandpiper
  4. Shelduck
  5. Lapwing
  6. Dunlin
  7. Ringed Plover
  8. Black-tailed Godwit
  9. Knot
  10. Redshank
  11. Greenshank
  12. Cormorant
  13. Wheatear
  14. Whinchat
  15. Black-Headed Gulls
  16. Herring Gulls
  17. Oystercatcher
  18. Mute Swans
  19. Moorhen
  20. Coot
  21. Carrion Crow
  22. Wood Pigeon
  23. Whimbrel
  24. Shoveler
  25. Teal
  26. Mallard Duck
  27. Grey Heron
  28. Little Egret
  29. Lesser Black Backed Gull
  30. Green Sandpiper
  31. Pied Wagtail
  32. Yellow Wagtail
  33. Ruff


  1. Cracking blog as always, great aerial and portrait photography.


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