Thursday, January 8, 2009

Parties of black Scoter rise and fall in a slight swell, with occasional short flights and white splashing jousts. Blush-pink back and distinctive ginger bob of drake & duck Goosander move parallel to shore. White snake-necks and dagger-bills of Great Crested Grebes scatter the bay. Tiny, silver-white Sanderling with black bills and legs race along where wet sand reflects pale winter sun; mottled brown Turnstones match dark, dried seaweed on the strand. A few white & black Oystercatchers rests at the point, a squad of prehistoric-looking black Cormorants stand on the estuary shore, two Great Black-Backed Gulls almost as large.

Deep, soft sand and barren estuary guides us up to saltings and creeks where white & black Shelduck graze. Strangely, though wild, thin, whistling calls of Wigeon are heard, only lipstick-legged Redshank, a few more Oystercatchers and the odd Curlew occupy acres of sandy estuary.

Suddenly, many Shelduck lift off with harsh croaks, bold white and black, descending to open water, wide estuary and winter mountains beyond. Many silver-sided Wigeon appear in a low sandy creek alongside white-sided Shoveller with chestnut patches and heavy green heads. A tight pack of Wigeon are shuffling, heads up, to graze on the salting when, with a great whirr of wings and shower of whistling calls, the entire flock lifts off, some landing in open water, others leaving the estuary in skeins.

Only a heron-grey, black-winged male Hen Harrier lazily quarters the hillside, but a streak of white feathers across the path frames a prostrate Oystercatcher, breast opened with red flesh. Further scan brings expected powerful, long-winged, slate-backed Peregrine to view, on its way to a fine crag vantage point to watch us by, black hood and white collar clear, before a long, low glide across a red setting sun back to the kill.




Wildlife Wales Short Breaks: Winter & Early Summer
For details, telephone (01341) 241469

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