Bringing a bit of luck with me to the lagoons for a sunset


A wave of Curlews flying over the reserve deciding where to drop. They would choose Monks Lagoon.
One of the best times to visit Goldcliff Lagoons is during the evening. It's especially good when its a fine evening and there is a chance of a sunset. Whilst you can make a prediction based on the weather forecast and current conditions your not always guaranteed that you will get a good sunset. The weather can change at the last minute and it can become cloudy all of a sudden just as sunset approaches and ruin things.Yesterday evening things were looking promising. I had spent the morning at the reserve and it had been absolutely superb. When the going is good I always like to take advantage of it and spend as much time as I can at the lagoons. So I decided to chance a second visit in the evening an hour before sunset.I would need some luck though if things were going to work out well and with me, I brought my daughter. She used to spend a lot of time with me many a year ago when I used to go out walking and yesterday for the first time in ages she fancied joining me to watch the sunset.  She always used to bring a little luck with her as well.It was time to get the red carpet out then as it was my daughter's first visit to the reserve.When we arrived the tide was on the turn and most of the waders had left the shallow waters of the reserve to go and feed on the foreshore. We sat on the seawall watching a big flock of Black-Tailed Godwits and Knot feeding busily at the water's edge.Its been a long while since I have done a late evening visit and I realized how much I had missed it. During the evening whilst sitting on the wall watching life go by is wonderful. The reserve tends to be quiet, the sun was warm but there was a gentle breeze and there was a feeling of excitement for the main event - the sunset. As ever it had started to get cloudy and there was much discussion between us on what our chances were looking like for a clear sunset.Things out on the mud were getting busier the longer we sat and watched. Wave after wave of Curlews began to fly down the estuary from Goldcliff Point announcing their arrival with their eerie unmistakable calls. They fly in long lines of 10 to 20 birds at a time and fly over the water before descending at the water's edge of Goldcliff Pill. 
A line of Curlews heading down the estuary to gather at the pill before moving into the lagoons
Next came flocks of piping Oystercatchers. They arrived in what I think were large numbers for Goldcliff. The Oystercatchers joined the Black-Tailed Godwit flocks which had now become two big flocks on the mud.Over hill farm, a big flock of Black-headed Gulls swirled over it enjoying what appears to be a big draft of warm thermal air. They then circled slowly and dropped into the lagoons.
The sun hides behind the clouds.
The sun disappeared for a time behind the clouds and it started to go a little dark. The tide was now moving in across the mud and the flocks of waders were becoming increasingly agitated and began to call each other repeatedly.Suddenly the sun broke free of its blanket of clouds and there was a burst of bright sunshine as round fireball lit up the sky orange on the horizon. My daughter had worked her magic and brought the luck she always used to bring to our walks. Now she experienced one of the great natural events that Newport Wetlands has to offer everyone - a magnificent sunset.
Sunset at last.
As if the setting sun was a sign for the waders they began in small flocks to take to the air and leave the water's edge. Up they went over the sea wall flying past the sun as they did so before dropping into the lagoons.
Black-Tailed Godwits hurtle in front of the sun en route to Priors

Incoming Black-Tailed Godwits
There was a commotion out near Goldcliff Pill with numerous Curlews calling. They then took to the air and in waves headed into the reserve. It was fantastic to watch them swirl around the reserve as if trying to decide which lagoon to land in. The Curlews were joined by the Oystercatchers and flocks of ducks and geese. Soon the skies over the reserve were alive with birds.
The Curlews move into the reserve in waves.

Curlews in a dusk sky
When the sun went down we headed back through the reserve. All three lagoons were full of roosting birds. Priors had been chosen by the Black-Tailed Godwits, Knots, Redshank, and a big flock of Oystercatchers ( 100 birds or more).Settled near the reed bed that divides the lagoon was "Flossy" the Glossy Ibis. It looked asleep with its head tucked in under a wing.
Priors Lagoon at dusk

Monks Lagoons had hundreds of birds on it. The Curlews had landed in legion on the lagoon and were joined by Lapwings and a large flock of Black Headed Gulls and Dunlins.
Monks Lagoon at dusk

The light was now fading fast and it was time to move on and leave the birds undisturbed. It had been a great evening and my daughter had probably had the best first visit to the reserve that I can imagine anyone has had fo a long time.


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