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Forest Bathing in the Woods of Gwent

  A beautiful Bluebell Wood. This spring I have focused my photography on new areas beyond my usual haunt of Goldcliff Lagoons and have been exploring several wonderful local woods. Life for me is busy at the moment and at times the stresses and strains of life have left me in a real need of opportunities to get outdoors with nature. I am fortunate to have some great woods on my doorstep where I can spend some time "Forest Bathing" to detox and destress from all the hustle and bustle. Spring is one of the best times of the year to visit the woods of Gwent. The woods are full of life. It's like a botanic explosion has occurred with flora and fauna of all kinds coming into life and making an appearance. Walking through the woods is a real sensory experience. The eyes are dazzled with an array of different colours, lots of fresh greens, the whole spectrum of coloured flowers, Yellow celandine, the white of the Anemones, Pinks of the Red Campions, and more yellows from Wild D

Return to Trecco Bay

Sanderlings at their high-tide roost

In recent months I have really enjoyed birdwatching at Newton Point, Trecco Bay, Porthcawl. I just love the place. It is the only place within reasonable travelling distance of my home that I can go to where I have the opportunity to get close up photographs of waders.

Whilst I adore my local reserve Goldcliff Lagoons the waders tend to be a little distant.  Newton also offers a nice sandy beach, a view of the sea and even a cafe where you can have a good friend breakfast and a coffee.

I had just started my vacation and my first destination to kick my week off was the lovely Newton Point. The weather forecast was pretty good with clear skies at dawn being predicted. I decided to arrive thirty minutes before dawn and set up my camera equipment down on the beach in readiness for the sunrise.

The skies were already looking pretty awesome. There was an orange band on the eastern horizon and the sky was streaked with clouds. The tide was on the turn and starting to come in. I had to keep moving my tripod as the waters rose.

The lovely sky just before daybreak

The air was fresh and there was that gorgeous "sea air" smell that when you take a big deep breath of makes you feel really refreshed. I find that the noise of the waves always make me calm and makes my mood better.

Out on the water's edge, I could hear Oystercatchers piping and the haunting call of a Curlew. Behind me were hundreds of the iconic Trecoo Bay caravans and the twinkling street lamps. Life was waking up on the holiday park and I could see a couple of dog walkers and joggers making their way along the seafront.

The orange glow on the horizon above Ogmore got brighter and despite a band of clouds that annoyingly gathered just where the sun was about to rise, eventually, the sun burst through and daybreak was upon us.

Dawn at Newton Point

Now it was time to make tracks to the Trecco Bay, side of Newton Point where I intended to sit up and watch some waders. 

I don't like chasing after birds as it tends to cause them disturbance and they don't behave naturally. The most rewarding technique I use is to first find the waders with your binoculars/scope ( or in my case the Nikon P1000) and then move to a spot on the rocks that is a respectful distance from the birds.  In my experience, I find that birds tend to have an in-built safety "zone" that forms a perimeter around them. I imagine if they had a heads up display it would be a red circle around them. If you move anywhere inside it then they will automatically fly away. Judging what this safety distance comes with knowledge and experience and forms what I consider to be good fieldcraft. 

The rocks at Trecco Bay beach

Sometimes you can use the terrain to your advantage and commando crawl up to them but in general, the birds like you to be out of their safety zone and if they see you breach their "happy" place they will take flight.

One technique to reduce is the likelihood of this can be to use a hide so the birds can not see you. However, this isn't really possible at Newton Point and if I wore my Ghilli suit camouflage I think a member of the public would probably ring the Police.

The nice thing about Newton Point is that you don't need to use anything like a hide or super camouflage. All you need is a bit of patience, respect for the birds and time.



So, I found my spot on the rocks where I could watch a nice flock of Sanderlings that had gathered on the last of the sand where they were feeding and near an area they often roost at high tide. I then sat up, watched, and waited.

Sanderlings being pushed up by the rising tide

The roost

Turnstones


As time went on more birds arrived at the roost. A flock of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones joined the Sanderlings. A solitary Dunlin turned up. Later that morning Oystercatchers, Black Headed Gulls and Herring Gulls also chose the spot to roost with all the other birds.

Throughout it all, I stayed in the same spot. I must admit I had to keep moving a little - sometimes kneeling or lying on the rocks as it's a challenge to be comfortable on those rocks. After an hour or so nearly every bone and joint of my body was aching.

Sanderlings take flight

On a couple of occasions, the wader flock took to the air for apparently no reason. Perhaps they had seen some distant Peregrine, as I could not see any obvious threat. I was really fortunate not to have any disturbance by dog walkers. I had a little chuckle to myself as there was a young woman who was in her own world reading a book with Ringed Plovers only a matter of meters away from her feet oblivious to the nature around her. Each to their own as they say.

At one point a Rock Pipit landed near to me and I was able to grab a lovely picture of it.

Rock Pipit

Eventually the inevitable happened the tide had pushed the waders so far up onto the rocks on the beach that there was hardly any room for them all and then a dog got a sniff of birds and ran at them. Up they all went into the sky and the flock moved off to another location on Newton Point.

By this time I had been watching them for nearly two hours so it was time for me to stretch my aching muscles and find somewhere to eat. There is a cafe at the end of the Trecco Bay near the lifeguard station and they do a nice breakfast.

Trecco Bay and Porthcawl in distance

Trecco Bay Holiday Park

The beach

Trecco Bay

I finished the visit with a short drone flight. From above the beach and seafront looked fantastic in the sun.

Another cracking visit has been had and I look forward to my next visit - hopefully in the next month or so.

Bird Species List

  1. Curlew
  2. Oystercatcher
  3. Dunlin
  4. Turnstone
  5. Sanderling
  6. Black-Headed Gull
  7. Herring Gull
  8. Rock Pipit
  9. Starling
  10. Linnet
  11. Stonechat
  12. Pied Wagtail
  13. Cormorant





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