A fairly early start saw me at Goldcliff at eight yesterday morning. Walking over the bridge into the car park, I became aware of many small passerines flitting around in the bushes and trees, all feeding actively amongst the branches. The most obvious were the Chiffchaffs, there must have been more than thirty there. Long-Tailed Tits and Blue Tits were higher up in the canopy too, and a pair of Reed Bunting flew overhead. A few Blackcap were visible, feeding actively on berries in the dense undergrowth. As I watched them, a Lesser Whitethroat popped up into view, showing its subtle plumage well in the early morning light. A Whitethroat appeared in the hedge not far in front, delicately picking at the abundant blackberries. I heard a familiar call, and turned to see a pipit perched on the gate. It was a fresh autumn Tree Pipit, but it quickly dropped into the long grass and out of view. Another was in a tree slightly further away, and several more flew overhead in the next few minutes. Overhead, there were good numbers of Swallows mainly juveniles, whizzing back and forth low overhead. I realised that I had been on site for nearly an hour now, and hadn’t even got past the car park. It had been a remarkable experience, hopefully some of the photos will help paint the picture:
I moved on from the car park at last, and headed up to the first hide. A pair of juvenile Little Ringed Plover were still present, and a Snipe fed in the open for a short while on the far shore. A female Kestrel was seen briefly, as did a pair of Greenshank which flew over the lagoon calling. A Stock Dove also but in a brief appearance flying into the fields behind the lagoon and out of sight. Many returning duck were present, of the usual species; Teal, Shoveller, Wigeon and also six Pintail including an eclipse drake (a plumage I have never seen before). The usual Little Egrets were present with a couple of Grey Heron at the back of the lagoon, and just before I left the hide, a female Yellow Wagtail flew onto the island, giving reasonable views.
Nothing particularly notable was seen on the second lagoon which is still very full, with only a couple of Gadwall and a Sand Martin or two added to the days tally.
From the second hide, I headed toward the sea wall, noting another two Whitethroat, several more Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, another Lesser Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler on the way.When I reached the sea wall, the tide was already covering most of the available mud, so as a result most of the birds were forced into a small area. Ten Knot were present, with a Black-Tailed Godwit and a Redshank. A single Avocet was present amongst the many gulls and Shelduck. Good numbers of Oystercatcher.
On the third lagoon, there were several waders, including another two Black-Tailed Godwit (both juveniles), five Greenshank, several Redshank, seventeen Lapwing and a female Ruff. This lagoon also held many more ducks but all were of the species seen previously. A Skylark was flushed from behind the hide (and another was seen later also). More Yellow Wagtails were seen aswell including a female and a juvenile on the ground at distance.
I headed back to the first hide, seeing a cracking pair of Clouded Yellow on the way. On the insect theme, many Migrant Hawkers were present, along with a single Southern Hawker, and good numbers of Common Darter.
Back at the first hide, a small flock of juvenile Ringed Plover (five) and Dunlin (nine) had flown in, and eventually the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper (which had been reported yesterday) appeared also, showing well for a while before the whole flock took flight. Here are a couple of record shots:
A good end to a cracking morning!