Autumn passage brings something yellow

It was the end of a busy week of work. It looked as if we were going to be in for a lovely sunny evening and a rare American vagrant had been spotted at Goldcliff Lagoons. It was a no brainer , I was going to the reserve to chill out and hopefully spend a few hours bird watching to cap the week off. Rain was forecast on the weekend and it really looked like a wash out so I was really keen to get out with camera.

A Lesser Yellowlegs ( Tringa flavipes) had been picked up on Monks Lagoon by my friend John "The Video" Lawton. Initially it was thought to have been a Wood Sandpiper but after consulting with Mike Pointon it was identified correctly as a Lesser Yellowlegs.

These birds breed in the high boreal forests of the Northern hemisphere such as Alaska and Canada . The Yellowlegs then migrate south to North America to winter. Some fly further south to the Gulf of Mexico and South America. Others get lost and find themselves blown off course and turn up in the United Kingdom. I have read in this article that juvenile birds tend to leave later than the adults of the species in August or September so I suspect that the bird observed at Goldcliff was most likely a Juvenile bird. Incredible to think that if this is in fact correct the bird was just an egg a few months ago and has made the journey to our Welsh shores since it fledged.

I have seen a Lesser Yellowlegs only on once before at Goldcliff and that was on a very memorable day in September of 2020. John Lawton was with me on that occasion - the post can be read here.

Back to this Friday then. When I arrived at the reserve I headed for the Seawall Hide. I quickly popped my head into the second hide but I could hardly see anything as the sun was shining directly into my eyes.

When I arrived at the seawall hide it had a full compliment of birders with plenty of scopes. It was very obvious that something rare was present that was worth a good twitch. One of them was kind enough to point out where the Lesser Yellowlegs was located. It was on Becs Lagoon opposite the hide and the bird was accompanied by two Redshank. 

The Lesser Yellowlegs is the top left bird.

Lesser Yellowlegs far right.

Lesser Yellowlegs ( central bird).

Video Here :-

I was glad that I had my Nikon P1000 with me and its super zoom lens came in very useful. I don's carry a scope that often these days and use the P1000 as my spotting scope instead.

The Lesser Yellowlegs was quite contented and was spending most of its time feeding and preening.
Whist the american vagrant was very interesting and good to see it was not the only thing that was grabbling my attention. 

A lot of other birds were starting to arrive at Becs Lagoon. High tide was fast approaching. Becs lagoon already had a large flock of waders and it was starting to grow by the minute. The main flock consisted of Black-Tailed Godwits and Knots. It was starting to grow by the minute as more birds arrived in waves. A flock of small waders which appeared to be mostly Dunlins flew in and landed just out of sight behind the reeds. Occasionally glimpses of this flock could be seen. At least two Little Stint and the other American vagrant that turned up recently - the Pectoral Sandpiper showed to the observers in the hide.

Then wave after wave of Black-Tailed Godwits, Knot and Curlews flew in and landed on Becs Lagoon. I really enjoyed watching the birds fly in to the reserve from the estuary. It was like watching the planes come into land at Heathrow airport.

In amongst the Curlew there were Whimbrel and some Bar-Tailed Godwits. I have not seen so many birds at Goldcliff for some time and its was a real demonstration of great autumn passage birding.

Something spooked the roosting flock. Probably a Peregrine. The lagoon exploded into action as all the birds took to the air in panic.

I love watching the big flocks when this happens and took plenty of photos.

When the light started to fade it was time to leave the seawall hide and move on to my next stop the seawall. As I walked away from the hide and peered over the seawall I could see a fierce orange glow forming on the Western horizon.

From the top of the seawall at Goldcliff I could see that the tide was almost in. Flocks of birds were continuing to stream across the boundaries of the reserve and drop onto Becs Lagoon.

There was a lot of cloud in the Western sky and it was back lit by the setting sun which burned as bright as the Norse god Vulcans forge.

The waters of the Severn Estuary were illuminated in a lovely orange gold and they shimmered like molten metal.

Clouds spice things up in a landscape photograph and cause lots of interesting effects to the light.

I was treated to a real nice view across the estuary. I could see the city of Cardiff in the distance, there was hardly a breath of wind and the only noise I could hear was that of calling Curlews and Black-Headed Gulls.

Suddenly the relative silence was broken as big commotion broke out on the now distance Becs Lagoons. The wader flock too flight once again and part of the fleeing flock flew high and over the wall up over the waters of the estuary.

Calm eventually resumed. After flying about in panic that chaos ended and the waders returned to their communal roost on Becs. So did most of the birders. I watched them exit the seawall hide for that day and head off around the reserve.

It was now just me and one other - my friend Terry left on the wall.

The sun set behind the clouds but it did give me show of its fiery furnaces before it vanished beyond the horizon. Then the sun was gone and I headed off with Terry enjoying a good chat as the darkness came and the fresh night air rolled in.  Another great evening at Goldcliff had ended.


Popular Posts