Trip reports

Field Trip to Swansea Bay, the Black Pill Nature Centre, Mumbles and Bracelet Bay

Swallow perched on wire fence in Spain
RSPB Images

Sunday, 12 October 2014

It turned out to be a very pleasant and fine Sunday considering the rainy days that we had before the trip. Driving to Swansea on the M4 Motorway in the morning, it was interesting to see Cormorants perching on the top of the lampposts in the central reservation as you cross the bridge over the River Neath, drying their wings.
Six of us turned up at the Black Pill car park and we made our way to the Black Pill Nature Centre where we met up with Maggie Cornelius, the Group Leader of the RSPB West Glamorgan Local Group, and other members of the group. It was the first time that the Centre had opened for their season which runs from October to Easter, opening on alternate Sundays. It was good to meet up with another group who gave us a warm welcome and provided us with light refreshments and, importantly, their knowledge of the birds in the locality. Since 1986 the area has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Last winter's storms had taken their toll, with the small sand dune in front of the Centre being washed away.
It was high tide so we had splendid views of all the birds that we saw on the foreshore near the Nature Centre. These were at least fifty Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls in winter plumage, Lesser Black-back Gulls with their yellow legs differing from the bigger Greater Black-backed Gulls that we saw with their pink legs. Also Herring Gulls and Common Gulls were noted. A Little Tern was spotted amongst the gulls as well as two Eiders just off shore with their large heads and long wedge-shaped bills; we were informed that this was a first for this area. Out at sea two Great Crested Grebes were also spotted. Around the Centre Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and a Pied Wagtail were seen.
After spending a few hours at Black Pill, we drove up to Bracelet Bay where we had our packed lunch looking out over the vista of the Bristol Channel. We then walked down to Mumbles pier where more gulls were seen as well as a Swallow which had not yet started its long migratory journey to South Africa. Back up on the headland of Bracelet Bay, a Stonechat was seen flitting in the bushes with its dark head and white half collar. Rock Pipit, Raven, Magpie, Blue Tit and Robin were noted. To end the day, we had clear views of three Mediterranean Gulls as we headed back to our cars. This rounded off a very pleasant day at Swansea Bay.

Viv Jenkins