As expected Saturday was a complete washout so it was time to break out the Xbox and ignore the sound of battering rain which seemed to be assaulting us from all directions at once. A surprisingly common occurrence in Wales of late. Thankfully Easter Sunday looked a little better and despite heavy showers moving through we decided to head out and take our chances. First stop was Sandy Water Park where by a stroke of luck we arrived just as the sun broke through. With an expanse of tranquil water stretched out before us it’s hard to imagine this place as the steel works it once was.
This is often one of the best locations locally to spot early spring migrants and it seemed that today was to be no different. The first Sand Martin appeared as we were parking with upwards of ten individuals hawking for insects above the lake itself. Great stuff and a timely reminder of just how quiet our skies have been without these chaps darting all over the shop. Also present were another couple of singing Chiffchaffs but again our wait for Wheatears went unanswered. What was good to see were the numbers of waterfowl still present including at least twenty Tufted Ducks, three Pochard and four pairs of Gadwall. Being habituated to handouts all were willing to come in close allowing for some nice photographic opportunities. You’ve just got to love that Gadwall plumage.
There were good numbers of the commoner species around as well including this male Mallard. Often overlooked I couldn’t resist a study of that green head and in the process managed to capture a good image of its serrated bill. This is a feature I’ve not consciously noted before and presume it is to aid in the grabbing of weed and whatever else takes their fancy. To see it most clearly you’ll need to click on the image below but it does serve as a good reminder that even for species which we think we know well, there is always more to discover.
Also present was a lone Great Crested Grebe, snoozing but somehow always able to move away from me just as it was drifting into range, as well as a couple of Cormorants in full breeding plumage. I should probably mention at this point that it was blowing an absolute gale and the sight of one of these big birds trying to battle their way over the embankment and out to sea was something to behold. Even this Rook was having a bit of bother keeping its balance.
Next stop was Kidwelly where a passing shower initially kept us inside and to be honest, I think I’d have preferred it to have lasted a little longer. We were just about to give up and leave when conditions cleared which meant we had to make an effort and subject ourselves to the by now freezing conditions. The wind was blasting straight in off the sea but that didn’t seem to bother the thirty or so Redshank gathered in their traditional location beneath the railway bridge. A quick search for Wheatears again drew a blank before it was back in the car and over to Llyn Llech Owain. Here things were a little more sheltered but several areas were closed due to fallen trees. That didn’t stop us picking up a couple of Little Grebes and Canada Geese plus a hunting Red Kite overhead. Star birds though were probably a flock of Siskins high up in the conifers, a species I don’t see all that often which is a shame as they really are little crackers. A small flock of Long-tailed Tits and several Goldcrest were sharing the same trees whilst over in a recently ploughed field we found a pair of Lapwings, one male Reed Bunting and umpteen Meadow Pipits. For some reason this little gathering was immensely satisfying, yet for the life of me I can’t work out why. Perhaps it was the simple pleasure of watching Lapwings, a species sadly in decline, or perhaps it was the sheer abundance of birds squeezed into a relatively small space. Either way it reminded me that I really should visit here a little more often, particularly as spring turns into summer as I reckon it’ll be a cracking place for Dragonflies if nothing else.