Bank Holiday Weekend Birding Treats at Goldcliff Lagoons


Black-Tailed Godwits

After another week of high winds and wet weather that this time Storm Francis brought the water levels at Goldcliff Lagoons had gone from barely a few centimetres to now up to almost a meter in some parts of the lagoons. Great conditions of ducks for sure but not necessarily optimum for the waders. In recent weeks we have been seeing some big flocks of Ringed Plover and Dunlins who appear to have been attracted to the large expanses of mud and shallow water on all three lagoons. This, in turn, has resulted in some rarer birds turning up such as a Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Stints, Wood and Green Sandpipers, and only last weekend - Curlew Sandpipers.

The increased water levels in some respects seem to have the effect of shuffling the pack a little for a while. What's bad for one species may be good for another and so we may see some different birds. During the week there has been some disturbance as well on the reserve with NRW authorized surveying work being done. Whilst the bird residents may clear the reserve for a few hours when the work is being done they usually return the next day as if nothing had happened.

This weekend the weather has turned out to be a lot better with great light and clear blue skies.

I visited on Saturday morning at dawn with my birding pals. The Black-Tailed Godwit flock had been joined by approximately thirty Knots. The whole flock was quite skittish - especially the Knots who were constantly taking flight from first light onwards.

The wader flock put on some fantastic aerobatics. I really love the Godwits when they take to the skies.

Black-Tailed Godwits turn as one.

Swooping down. The Godwits descend.

The flock's numbers were increased by the presence of Redshank and Ruff. There has also been a Greenshank showing regularly.

One thing I have noted throughout the weekend has been the increase in ducks. Saturday morning, Monks Lagoon at dawn, was full of a flotilla of fifty or more Mallard Ducks. Elsewhere there have been frequent sightings of Teal, Shovelers, and the odd difficult to spot Garganey duck.

The lapwings arise

At one point a juvenile Peregrine Falcon spooked the Lapwings into a panic causing them to rise in a panic to great height ina tight flock above the reserve. It ignored them and flew like a missile at a flock of ducks on Monks Lagoon. The falcon gave chase several times but appeared to take no ducks.

The Peregrine Falcon harries the Teals

Priors Lagoon has certainly been the pool of choice for the wader flock. The Godwits have often been roosting either side of the central reed bed.

"Flossy" the Glossy Ibis has also favored the lagoon and both mornings I visited the enigmatic bird decided to roost in with the wader flock. It stood out like a sore thumb especially when the sun lit up the bird's technicolored plumage.

Flossy shows off his Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The sea wall area has been a haven for migrating hirundines passing through. Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and a couple of their Swift cousins have been taking the opportunity to feed on the bountiful numbers of insects.

Joining them along the wall have been Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails. Similarly, they too are about to commence their migration to faraway parts of Africa. The reserve is absolutely buzzing with these migrants and its incredible to thinks that they are using the reserve to fuel up for their long-distance journeys.

Wheatear on the wall

I've been making the most of the good weather and incredible light for a change. This morning succeeded at last in getting a nice sunrise at Goldcliff. My first after many attempts and for a change it made getting up at stupid o'clock worthwhile.

Sunrise viewed from Goldcliff Point.

Bird List

  1. Mallard
  2. Canada Geese
  3. Greylag
  4. Teal
  5. Black-Tailed Godwit
  6. Ruff
  7. Knot
  8. Snipe
  9. Dunlin
  10. Redshank
  11. Lapwing
  12. Glossy Ibis
  13. Buzzard
  14. Little Egret
  15. Grey Heron
  16. Kestrel
  17. Peregrine
  18. Coot
  19. Mallard
  20. Pied Wagtail
  21. Yellow Wagtail
  22. Wheatear
  23. Whinchat
  24. Linnet
  25. Meadow Pipit
  26. Shoveler
  27. Avocet
  28. Oystercatcher
  29. Whimbrel
  30. Curlew
  31. Chiff Chaff
  32. Robin
  33. Collared Dove
  34. Black-Headed Gull
  35. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  36. Herring Gull
  37. Swift
  38. Swallow
  39. House Martin
  40. Sand Martin
  41. Starling
  42. Carrion Crow
  43. Magpie
  44. Mute Swan


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