The south Wales town of Barry is not exactly what you’d call a prime birding destination but, due to its coastal location, it does turn up regular wader sightings and the occasional rarity. On this visit, I dipped on my target species, the Great northern diver that’s been overwintering in Barry Docks – I saw the bird last year but want to add it to this year’s list – but I still had an enjoyable day’s birding, with a few nice surprises.
First up at Barry Docks was the local Mediterranean gull. For those unfamiliar with this bird, you can see some of the differences between it and Black-headed gulls in this photo – in breeding season, the hood on the head of the Med gull covers its entire head and is a true black (not a chocolate brown hood on just the front half of the head), its beak and legs are different, and it has white wing tips.
Four Great crested grebes were braving the choppy waves being whipped up by the strong sou’westerly wind.
In Barry Old Harbour, two Shelducks were hoovering the mud for small shellfish and aquatic snails.
At least eight Redshanks were prospecting amongst the salt marsh and along the silty rivulets.
Sitting down, five Oystercatchers were so well camouflaged as to be almost invisible, until they got up and one set them all off singing out their characteristic call.
The day’s pièce de résistance was the sight of two Curlews prospecting for a late lunch amongst reeds and under rocks. At first, I thought I had the two Black-tailed godwits reported earlier in the week but no, those bills were definitely curved. A nice sighting just the same!