Seeing double


As I have mentioned many times in several of my blog posts my favourite bird at Goldcliff Lagoons is "Flossy" the Glossy Ibis. I have no idea what sex the bird is. I don't know of any way to discover this other than by some sort of physical examination which I am sure "Flossy" is never going to approve of and almost an impossible thing to do in any case.

This most enigmatic bird has been gracing our reserve since January 20th 2019, so it has been with us for over eighteen months. The song " All by Myself" by Celine Dione starts blasting into my head when writing this and thinking about how long "Flossy" has been without the company of one of its own kind.

"Flossy" the Glossy from two weeks ago.

Often amongst us birders there has been a many a good discussion about how amazing it would be if our celebrity Ibis was one day joined by another of its own species. The mind often boggles what could happen. Will a new arrival be a different sex and will they mate and breed at Goldcliff? ( Wow that would be something), or would "Flossy" decide to fly away with its new partner or friend and never return again ( now that would be slightly disappointing for us birders but it could be good for Flossy in the long run).

In recent weeks there have been lots of reports of sightings of Glossy Ibis around the country. There was one report of seven Glossy's observed in Pembrokeshire. More recently a Glossy Ibis had been seen at Kidwelly Quay. On the other side of the Severn Estuary, there have been similar reports.

Today I was up early again after a couple of days off birding and back down Goldcliff to enjoy the rest of my birding "staycation". I was also down there to do some Curlew monitoring to assist Mike Smart from the Call of the Curlew Project, so got there before dawn. This week there are some big tides so I was hoping for some good birds to be pushed in from their usual high tide roost locations.

Almost from the minute, I got to the seawall hide to view a flock of Curlews on Becs things started to get busy on the reserve. The rising sun burned through a thick veil of cloud. The Curlews up and went over the wall as soon as the rays of sunlight struck their plumage.

A Marsh Harrier appeared from nowhere over Priors Lagoon and caused mayhem amongst the wader flock. It was strange, as whilst the Lapwings went quite high into the sky, as usual, the wader flock comprising of Black-Tailed Godwits and Knots swirled low to the reed bed and then all went back down in a huddle. the wader flock did not go high or fly away very far. They decided to stay put. Brave I think. Eventually, the magnificent male Marsh Harrier lost interest and flew off.

I headed back to the Sea wall to count the Curlews on the saltmarsh near the Pill and met up with my friend Steve Doolan. The wind was shipping up and I almost trashed my scope again as the wind blew my tripod over and I grabbed it just in time.

It was better to get into some cover out of the wind and as far as I was concerned if there was to be any further wader aerobatics, then it was most likely to occur on Priors, so Steve and I plotted up in the Marsh Platform and enjoyed watching the flock.

Then "boom", up went all the waders. Steve spotted the Marsh Harrier again heading our way. The flock was going berserk flying frantically back and forth. I had a job to know where to decide to point the camera. Suddenly I saw "Flossy" in amongst the flock and then Steve shouted, "There are two of them ".

Look " There are two of them"

Indeed there was, swooping around with the Lapwings, Godwits and Knots were two big black very distinctive shapes. I could not believe my eyes I must have been seeing double. 

Two Glossy ibises were flying in concert across the skies of Goldcliff!

"Flossy" ( Left) - the new bird (Right)

Eventually, they landed on Priors and we had a look at them. My first notable observation was that one was smaller than the other. There was one bird that I am assuming for argument's sake (provisionally) is "Flossy" and the other bird - that is most definitely a new Glossy Ibis visitor was smaller and that little bit drabber. There is a slight nagging voice in my head that says " Are you sure? What if these are two new birds? Time will only tell over the next few days I think. If a third bird appears looking like Flossy then there maybe three!

"Flossy" (Left) and "Bossy" (Right)

The new bird, which I am nicknaming "Bossy", looks like a juvenile bird. Again I have no idea whether it is male or female so I guess anything we name them with that is gender-specific could be wrong.

We moved to the Snipe Platform and from there met up with more fellow birders and had fantastic views of the two Ibis. I imagined that as they walked around the lagoons the music "Just the two us" sung by Grover Washington was playing in the background. 

The two of them preened, fed and flew around in front of us. Absolutely stunning. 

The "pair"




Perhaps a romance is on the cards. I can only feel excitement at the thought of having breeding Glossy Ibis on the Newport Wetlands. But I must not get too carried away at this stage. All this is merely speculation and conjecture but it is cool thinking about what the future may bring.

Let us hope they stay and keep each other company for at least a while. Dreams can come true.

Also in the Goldcliff News -

Another highlight was seeing a Great White Egret land in front of Hide 1 on Monks Lagoons.
Yet again I was miles away so only a record shot for me. They seem to be turning up more regular these days so it will only be a matter of time I think before we see them turning up all over the reserve.

Great White Egret on Monks Lagoon

Species List

  1. Raven
  2. Carrion Crow
  3. Magpie
  4. Little Egret
  5. Grey Heron
  6. Woodpigeon
  7. Long Tailed Tit
  8. Chiff Chaff
  9. Meadow Pipits
  10. Skylarks
  11. Blue Tit
  12. Great Tit
  13. Wren
  14. Glossy Ibis x 2
  15. Great White Egret
  16. Black-Tailed Godwit
  17. Knot
  18. Ruff
  19. Greenshank
  20. Dunlin
  21. Ringed Plover
  22. Lapwing
  23. Shelduck
  24. Mallard
  25. Shoveler
  26. Teal
  27. Marsh Harrier
  28. Oystercatcher
  29. Canada Goose
  30. Coot
  31. Moorhen
  32. Black Headed Gull
  33. Herring Gull
  34. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  35. Pied Wagtail


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