Harrying the wildfowl at Goldcliff Lagoons


Just before dawn I was sat in Hide 1 at Goldcliff Lagoons facing into a cold blustery wet wind. There was no chance of any good light as the skies were dark and cloudy. What I could see through squinting and watering eyes via the hides window was quite an action packed scene of chaos.

A female Marsh Harrier was really doing her thing. She was harrying the local wildfowl population with serious murderous intent. A big lapwing flock, sum two hundred or more birds had hit the panic button with a multitude of alarm of calls ringing out over the reserve. Shovelers , Wigeon, Gadwall , Starlings and Teal joined the lapwings in the air and flew around in all directions. The Marshy flying barely faster than her stalling speed expertly soared above the lagoon turning this way and that with the wind observing the chaos from above, looking, searching - hunting for any weakness.

Some of Lapwings

Lots of Shovelers today

One of the females quarters the lagoons.

The mist rolled in from the estuary and my view got even worse and then suddenly she dropped and vanished into the long grass that sits between Monks and Becs Lagoon. Then the calm settled . The lapwings spiralled down and gathered on the edge of Monks Island. The duck flock spread out over the waters of the lagoon as they gained their composure again.

At this point I drifted off quietly , braved the persistent drizzle and relocated to Hide 2. This hide offered me better shelter from the wind. I hid behind one of the closed slats and peered out and watched the birds on Monks and a little beyond also as you get a view of Priors and Becs Lagoons.

Monks Lagoon

Hide 2 - the Curlew Hide.

After a matter of minutes the chaos started all over again, but this time there were two female Marsh Harriers. One of them - I am assuming the first I had observed did not stray much from the location I first saw her land - she was being pestered by a three Carrion Crows and I have the sneaky suspicion that she had made a successful kill earlier and was feeding. The second female Marshy was doing its best to also find a meal. She had a preference for quartering the reed bed on Priors and settling on the ground between Priors and Monks.Later both Marsh Harriers had a little squabble in the same spot that I think the kill was located - a great show it all made. 

Squabbling Marsh Harriers

Despite it being cold and wet I really enjoyed it. I tried to take some photos of the various goings on throughout my visit. It was hard work. Poor light, drizzle covered lenses that needed wiping constantly and far from ideal camera settings (high iso - my absolute bane) made getting some sharp pictures impossible.

Nevertheless it was just great to be out at my favourite reserve and have some fresh air. I spent most of my time today in Hide 2. I did venture further , as far as the Snipe platform but it began to rain even heavier and I did not fancy walking through the muddy quagmire so turned back.

The mud bog at the rear of the Snipe Platform

I returned to Hide 2 for a bit and Hide 1 on my way out - enjoyed a quick chat with one of my birding friends . Right  from the moment I arrived at the reserver to the minute I left Hide 1 there had been activity involving the Marsh Harriers. A very busy morning for the Harriers.

A very persistent Marsh Harrier

Bird List

  1. Marsh Harrier x 2
  2. Lapwing
  3. Redshank
  4. Snipe
  5. Wigeon
  6. Shoveler
  7. Mallard
  8. Teal
  9. Gadwall
  10. Shelduck
  11. Canada Goose
  12. Greylag Goose
  13. Mute Swan
  14. Moorhen
  15. Grey Heron
  16. Woodpigeon
  17. Carrion Crow
  18. Pied Wagtail
  19. Blue Tit
  20. Robin
  21. Blackbird
  22. Reed Bunting
  23. Black Headed Gull
  24. Herring Gull
  25. Curlew
  26. Magpie
  27. Starling
No sign of the Spotted Redshank that was reported yesterday.

The week ahead.

To celebrate #WorldWetlandDay, photographer and birder 

 I will be presenting an online talk to the RSPB Cardiff & District Local Group on the Birds of Goldcliff on Thursday, February 2 at 7:30pm.

To book a place, click here 


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