The view that greeted me this morning was one of unrelenting bleakness. Gone was the sunshine of Saturday and in its place sat a thick blanket of fog which obscured even our own street from view. The call of my duvet was a force hard to resist but having just registered to do the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge I knew that lazy days couldn’t feature in my plans any longer. It was obvious that a walk across the hills was out of the question so instead we headed down to Sandy Water Park. Often these urban green spaces can deliver a few nice surprises in conditions such as these, and indeed today was to be a perfect case in point. First up was a flock of Greylag Geese next to the approach road which, although I’ve not checked back through my records, I think is probably a new species for me at the site. The lush green grass was clearly to their liking and they accepted our presence without even a second glance. In fact the only time they did acknowledge us was when I moved in closer and they started to approach me, no doubt hoping I was about to start feeding them. Probably not the wildest of birds in that case, but what Greylags are?
Out on the lake it was nice to see a decent selection of waterfowl present with a female Goosander definitely being the pick of the bunch. Tufted Ducks were also showing in good numbers along with the requisite Little Grebe and Mallards, but rather strangely there wasn’t a single Gadwall to be seen. The only individual we did find was a male over on nearby Old Castle Pond where it was being kept company by a couple of Teal and at least six Shovellers. Perhaps the lack of dogs running willy nilly into the water there is making it a more attractive proposition over the increasingly popular main park? Saying that there was a female Goldeneye at Sandy although it did tend to keep away from the banks.
Keeping its distance was certainly not something that one of the regular Cormorants had on its mind, fishing as it was within a metre of the path. I’ve never seen one quite so accommodating despite being followed by a lunatic with a camera.
One of the Pochard also showed a similar lack of concern as it drifted past us while pretending to be asleep. Despite waiting that beak only put in one brief appearance which, of course, was just after I’d turned the camera off. Nevertheless a cracking bird with amazingly intricate plumage, even in the grey light.
To cap the day off we headed down to Llanrhidian marsh to watch the birds coming in to roost. I did the same yesterday and was once more treated to superb views of at least one Barn Owl hunting and the Great White Egret joining its smaller cousins in one of their favoured trees. Those two species have become as regular as clockwork of late which is fantastic, but there was a third party which I was also gagging to see. I knew they were there as they’ve been reported regularly on the local sightings page, but so far I’d come away empty handed. The only conclusion I could reach that we’d been arriving too late in the evening so made a point of turning up at three instead of our usual four today. Low and behold it wasn’t long before we were watching three Hen Harriers quartering the marsh, one of which was a stunning male whose lighter plumage positively shone through the murk. Despite being regular visitors here during the winter they are still an absolute joy to behold and have to rank right up there in my top ten birds.
Llanrhidian marsh from the car on a sunnier day