Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snow Buntings : Whiteford, Gower

It's been a few years since I've visited Whiteford Point and I certainly haven't since the sea wall has been breached and the new marsh created.
Three Snow Buntings were found a couple of weeks ago feeding along the strand line of the beach and ones and twos have been reported sporadically since.
Two were seen yesterday, a male and a female, by Dan and his RSPB colleagues which was good news as myself and fellow "togger" Peter Morgan had decided to visit today hoping to refind the birds and get some photos.

We arrived at 8.30am and skirting the pinewood made our way across to the top of the beach and then walked the strand line towards the point scanning as we made our way.
I had spoken with Dan on Saturday evening about the birds' location and low and behold we found a single female bird at the exact grid ref location where Dan had seen the two yesterday, Peter took a few "record" shots but before I could get my camera out of it's bag the bird flew about 200m back to where we had walked from.
We decided to push on to the hide as it had started to drizzle and agreed that we would try again for the bird on our return walk and cutting across firstly through the pines and then the marsh we soon arrived at the hide.
It was my first visit to the new hide and it certainly is a vast improvement on it's predecessor, we stayed for an hour or so and picked up two Great Northern Divers as well as the regular Brent Geese, Shellducks, Pintails and Eiders.
Waders seen included Common Redshanks, Knot, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Curlew.
Unfortunately nobody could find any of the Slavonian Grebes seen the previous day.
Martin Bevan, Martin Bell, Phil Hill and Mike Hogan turned up as did the GBC field trip group led by Alan Rosney.
We teamed up with the lads to walk back along the beach as they had not found a Snow Bunting on the walk out and at almost where the path cuts back across the dunes to the reserve entrance "Hawkeye" Bevan spotted a male and female feeding together on the edge of the dunes.
Everybody's cameras clicked into action and I managed to get some reasonable images given the grey, overcast conditions and awful light.

We filled our boots until the birds decided to fly and they flew a few hundred metres back along the beach towards the GBC group who were behind us and a quick phone call to Alan alerted them to the fact and they soon got on to the birds, happy days all round !!
Everyone decided to finish the day with raptor roost at Llanrhidian and we picked up three Great White Egrets and one "ringtail" Hen Haarrier before the cold and the light got the better of us and we headed for home.
A good day out in great company thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.

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