An aura of Gold


Black-Tailed Godwits arrive.

If there is one place that is very aptly named its Goldcliff. Whilst there are no real cliffs anymore along the coastline, now instead, there are the seawall defences that are covered in a gold coloured lichen. But this fact is just one of the golden details that makes up the Aurelian greater whole.

Gold coloured Lichen covers fencing and the seawall

View from Goldcliff Seawall using my drone.

 The whole Goldcliff Lagoons nature reserve has an aura of gold - especially when the sun is shining early in the morning and during the evening. Whilst these times of day are known as the "Golden Hour" by photographers, the reserve really seems to amplify the golden light to an amazing degree.

This morning for example, South Wales was blessed with some clear skies and beautiful sunshine. A welcome break from the contains rain ( I was glad to have a day off building my own Ark in readiness for the great flood that may be coming!).

The light after daybreak on a nice day is awesome at Goldcliff Lagoons. The sun rises behind the first two hides and screens and bathes the mirror like waters of Monks Lagoon in soft golden rays of light.

As a result everything gets a touch of gold. Bird plumage gets a vivid boost and the reeds perhaps more than anything seem to blaze with gold.

Even the mud does as well - and their is lots and lots of it ( The reserve is like a quagmire and in dire need of a path).

Incredibly this year, today was only my third visit so far of 2024. It was great to be sat in the hides watching the avian denizens of the reserve in the glorious warm sunshine.

Avocet Flock on Monks Lagoon.

Second bird top left has a green coloured ring on its left leg.

The breeding season has started. Its great to see that the Avocets have gathered again, some are already pairing up and doing their courtship rituals. Redshanks are growing in number and I watched what I assume was a male bird flittering his wings and doing a little dance behind a female bird - who after all his efforts gave him the cold shoulder.

Redshank courtship display

Pintail Duck

I noticed a solitary Pintail duck at the back of Monks. Late to the party, was quite a big flock of Black Tailed Godwits ( 100+). They noisily descended from the sky and took a few minutes to settle. Many of them are looking absolutely gorgeous as they moult into their summer breeding plumage
Once they got accustomed to their chosen spot on the edge of the island on Monks, some began to spread out and forage amongst the grass, others flocked together preened and rested.

The Black-Tailed Godwit Flock

The flock comes to a rest and preens.

Some of the Godwits began to spread out and feed.

At one point things went a little quiet after that and so I stood outside at the back of Hide 2 and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my face and soaked up the solar rays and hopefully improved my Vitamin D levels.

Then I saw my friend Paul Joy "wading " through the muddy mire that has become the reserve.

You will need wellies, its wet underfoot everywhere and in places incredibly muddy.

Its a real shame that there has never neem a proper path at Goldcliff around the reserve ( gravel, tarmac or a boardwalk - anything would be an improvement). Perhaps there must have been some kind of oversight years ago by NRW or a lack of funding as its rather bizarre that all three hides have ramps - I suspect intended for wheelchair users or for those with mobility issues. However even on a good day in dry weather it would be a very difficult if not impossible challenge to get to the hides in a wheelchair.

Paul eventually made it safely to me although he was puffing away and quite exhausted after trudging through the mud.

He would soon be rewarded for his efforts with a fly past of a female Marsh Harrier. She too caught the sun a bit and had just a hint of gold to her creamy plumage.

Female type Marsh Harrier swoops in over Priors Lagoon.

She got mobbed by a very persistent Carrion Crow until she eventually drifted away towards the Pill.

The Marshy was the last of the really notable birds that we saw together today. We think we saw the back end of a Merlin hurtling around the back of Monks near the Pill fence line but we lost sight of it.

The whole reserve was alive with the calls of Chiff Chafs, Blackcaps and Skylarks and it was giving me a nice spring day vibe.

Species List -

  1. Black-Tailed Godwits
  2. Redshank
  3. Avocets
  4. Pintail Duck
  5. Gadwall
  6. Marsh Harrier
  7. Merlin
  8. Cettis Warbler
  9. Chiff Chaff
  10. Shelduck
  11. Mute Swans
  12. Little Grebe
  13. Teal
  14. Mallard Duck
  15. Carrion Crow
  16. Stonechat
  17. Goldfinch
  18. Wren
  19. Robin
  20. Canada Goose
  21. Greylag Goose
  22. Coot
  23. Moorhen
  24. Pheasant
  25. Magpie
  26. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  27. Herring Gull
  28. Oystercatcher
  29. Dunnock
  30. Blue Tit
  31. Goldcrest
  32. Woodpigeon
  33. Cormorant
  34. Lapwing
  35. Little Egret
  36. Grey Heron
  37. Skylark
No sighting of the Long-tailed Duck or Spoonbills during our visit.


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