It was good to get away from the uni work yesterday evening and do a bit of birding with some friends. I met up with Harry Read, Emma-Louise Cole and Charles Ryder, and we headed up to Llanrhidian marsh.
As we headed along marsh road, we picked up the first Short-Eared Owl before we had even parked the car, hunting over the juncus a short distance away. We stopped the car and watched as it came closer and closer until it was no more then 30 metres from us! We enjoyed some great views, and Harry managed some cracking photos as well:
(Click on the image to see Harry’s excellent website.)
We parked up and began to scan the marsh. There were more Short-Eared Owls quartering about and we eventually reached a good total of six birds seen. They were great to watch, often dropping onto prey in the juncus, and occasionally chasing one another also.
There were good numbers of Little Egrets flying in to roost and we checked each one, eventually managing to pick out a Great White Egret amongst them. A short while later, a second bird flew through, landing briefly and then continuing out of view. Both birds were distant, but the large size and long yellow bill were striking.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was a male Hen Harrier, which was seen briefly drifting over the marsh. It was a little distant, but they are stunning birds, and we could clearly see the pale grey plumage with contrasting black primaries. This bird was made even more satisfying for me, by the fact that it ‘completed the set’ of breeding British raptors for me this year, having seen all fifteen species (plus Red-Footed Falcon and Rough-Legged Buzzard)!
With heavy rain beginning to fall, we moved a short distance east in the vain hope of connecting with the Water Pipit which had been reported at Dalton’s point earlier in the day.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, with good birds and good company.