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A month of superlatives!

180331 1 Ely embankment

4 March  The coldest! My first visit of March was in the aftermath of ‘The Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma, a weather combination that brought Cardiff an unseasonal covering of snow, with deep drifts in places. As the east-facing embankment had been subject to the full assault of those storm systems, it was not surprising to see piles of the white stuff still blocking the road alongside Cardiff Bay, and there was a smattering on the embankment itself.

Though I wondered if the storm might have blown in some European strays or other unusual birds, I wasn’t really surprised to find that the very exposed embankment was almost bare of birds. A smattering of perhaps 10 Coots, a couple of Mallards and Mute swans, and two Pied wagtails were almost the only avian wildlife. Even the gulls were sparse.

9 March  The contrast between today’s weather and last weekend’s was almost unbelievable: it was 12°C, the sun was shining and it felt positively Spring like. Maybe that’s why the birds were out in force, with five Redshanks – the most I’ve ever seen on the embankment at once, 3 Turnstones – two venturing well up the stones away from the water’s edge, 2 Grey wagtails and 1 Pied.

And just to prove that I don’t only look at the birds, I noticed the Red campion was already in flower and I was most surprised to see a large area of Colt’s-foot flowers. They must be tough to grow in such a stony bank.

14 March   A bumper day along the embankment, in light drizzle, which almost put me off going out for a walk. I’m so glad I got off my chuff! There were 3 Redshank, 7 Turnstone, 2 Grey wagtails, 3 Pied wagtails, 1 Rock pipit, 4 Linnets, 1 Carrion crow, 4 Feral pigeon and, in the water adjacent, 8 Coots, 5 Great crested grebes, 1 Cormorant, 2 Mallards, and 6 Mute swans. The greatest variety!

20 March  This was another day of cold winds, blowing directly across the bay and slamming into the embankment, so the few birds that were around were sheltering further up the river, and there weren’t many to be seen – a single Redshank looking very unhappy, perhaps still recovering from our second bout of snow this Spring, last weekend’s ‘Mini-beast from the East’, plus 3 Turnstones and 2 Grey wags.

180331 21 unhappy Redshank

24 March  I was really heading across the Barrage in search of a Wheatear (more on that here) but figured I’d detour along the embankment path on my way, and I’m so glad I did as there were 10 Turnstones – a large number! – and a solitary Redshank bimbling along the shoreline.

180331 22 turnstones

28 March  Fourteen (14!) Turnstones on the embankment during this day’s walk (the most I’ve ever seen on one visit), plus 2 Redshanks and a solitary Pied wagtail. What a way to end my monthly walks along this bay-side path!

180331 23 redshank