Wednesday dawned clear and frosty so on went the layers of clothing, scarf, hat, gloves and boots, in the backpack went the camera, binoculars, a spot of lunch and rain jacket (this is Wales and I was once a Girl Guide so I was prepared!). I’d scanned tweets, posts and blogs so knew vaguely what to expect and left the house hopeful.
And I did not despair, nor was I disappointed. On my first Glamorgan Bird Club trip of the year, to Ogmore – both the river and the beach – and then on to Kenfig National Nature Reserve, I added ten new birds to my 2018 list, including two lifetime firsts in the Slavonian grebe and Short-eared owls.
At Ogmore, the weather was glorious – blue skies, and heat in the sun, if you managed to shelter from the chilly breeze. There were gulls galore, mostly Herring and Black-headed, a sprinkling of Common and a single Med, as well as, further down river, a Great black-backed gull – what beasts they are!
A Kingfisher added its flash of turquoise, to the mostly white, grey and brown colours of the other birds (Little egret, Cormorant, Mallard, Redshank, Canada goose, Mute swan). But I don’t mean to imply the other avian species were boring – just look at these dazzling Goldeneyes!
As we wandered further towards the river mouth, a Stonechat popped up to survey the humans adorned with bins, scopes and cameras, all staring in the opposite direction, to peep briefly, ‘Look at me!’. So I did.
At Ogmore beach, we were hoping for Purple sandpipers but, even with 21 pairs of eyes surveying every nook and rock cranny, we lucked out. Turns out the birds were spending the day across the bay at Newton and Porthcawl. But hey, the scenery was glorious, with glimpses of the recent dumps of snow across the water on Exmoor.
Sandwiches devoured, we headed to Kenfig and stomped down to the pool, where I almost immediately got on to my first lifer of the day, the little black-and-white Slavonian grebe that’s been overwintering there. It’s small, a frequent diver, and was distant but was plainly see-able through bins and scopes, if not such a great subject for my camera.
By this time, the sun had clouded over, and even a stroll through boggy fields, over wonky stiles, around the lake’s edge in search of White-fronted geese failed to keep the chill from my bones – and we didn’t see those geese. But, a small stalwart seven of us – the others peeling off to heated cars and homes – decided to head for a high point to survey the dunes for the Short-eared owls that have recently been sighted hunting at dawn and dusk. Another lifer! Two birds were seen, one flying low, back and forth amongst the dunes, the other gliding high, with a Kestrel for company.
And to finish off a wonderful day’s birding, we got the call that tea, coffee and cake awaited us at the Kenfig office, and spotted these two Greenfinch amongst trees along the way. Just perfect!
We saw 62 species in total: the full list can be seen on the Glamorgan Bird Club’s website here.