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  • Writer's pictureRoo

Waders and signs of Spring at Goldcliff

A lovely walk around the lagoons at Goldcliff today, making the most of the local wildlife at a nice quiet location and on such a stunning sunny day. Up early to be on site before 8 am as low tide was around lunchtime and the waders might have headed off to the mudflats.

Signs of spring: as soon as we got our of the car we heard our first Chiffchaff singing from a bare branch, this was the first of at least 20 seen, several singing and many more gleaning insects in the hedgerows. Amazing to think how far they have migrated to get back to the UK. On to reserve and the highlight of the day, our first hirundines this year, three Sand Martins whizzed past. It truly is spring!

A taste of the exotic: to see the following twenty years ago you’d have thought you were on the continent! The long-staying Glossy Ibis showed beautifully in the sunshine, feeding at the edge of the first lagoon, its iridescent greens, purples and blues on the mantle and wing feathers glinted in the sunlight. It then flew off heading towards its favourite spot out past the reeds. On the picture below you maybe able to make out a female Ruff (2nd bird from the right, honest!).

Two Marsh Harriers were seen, an immature male quartered the reedbed for some time, whilst a female flew through. Three Little Egret were on the reserve, with their long plumes of summer plumage.

Waders and stunning ducks: Its superb to see the lovely Avocets back; we counted 61 and another small flock of 10-12 that flew off to the back of the reserve. Its lovely to watch them feeding with their scythe-like beak movements.

Still plenty of Black-tailed Godwits, now in stunning summer plumage, often mixing with the Avocets. Redshank are back in good numbers, but we only saw about 30 Dunlin and just 4 Ringed Plover. The latter is of the hiaticula race that breeds in the UK, and one pair seemed to have formed between a male and the pale form of the female known in this race.

The Lapwing looked stunning, like the Ibis, they caught the sun to show the lovely iridescent colouring. Best of all though, whilst watching the Glossy Ibis, a female Ruff walked in to view. The wildfowl in their breeding plumage looked stunning in the sunshine. Plenty of Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal still, plus a few Mallard and Tufted Duck. Fewer Shelduck now though, but too many Canada and Greylags about!

And the rest: always a joy to watch singing Skylark, and one Meadow Pipit was watched displaying. Singing whilst “parachuting” down to land in the long grass, then back up to do it all again several times. Apart from the harriers, a Peregrine flew through and also a lovely male Kestrel. Finally a lovely male Reed Bunting came and sat on a bramble bush right in front of us.

Back home in the garden: The male Marsh Tit coming to the feeders and singing on the low apple trees. Also singing are two Goldcrest, as well as the Robin, Blackbird etc. Good number of Siskin still (30+) and Goldfinch (about 20) and the pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker are feeding together on the fat balls and peanuts, so hopefully will breed again. Of note though, in the 12 years living here, this was the first winter with no Brambling or Redpoll. Finally, the local Buzzards are very busy and noisy! Three soaring over the garden when the weather is nice, almost constantly calling and often attracting unwanted attention from the gulls.

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