Trip reports

Field Trip to Port Eynon

Dark-bellied brent goose on water at Hayling Island

Sunday, 22 January 2017

It was a very cold and sunny day with light cloud at Port Eynon for our trip to the Gower, with only four of us turning up for the field trip.

Looking over the beach of Port Eynon bay, we spotted a grey heron fishing along the shoreline along with a little egret and curlew. Eight brent geese were also on the shore which was an added bonus. These geese winter here from the Arctic tundra and feed on crops in fields and eelgrass in estuaries.

We turned left and walked towards Port Eynon point, on the way we viewed numerous oystercatcher with their distinctive black and white plumage, orange bill and reddish legs. We also managed to spot four ringed plovers which were very near to us on the rocks, their brownish grey plumage blending in to the terrain which made them difficult to see at first amongst some dead jellyfish. Two rock pipits were also noted as they flew off from the rocks.

As we carried on, black-headed gulls, herring gulls and a great black-blacked gull were seen. However out at sea, birdlife was rather scarce. At the point, cormorants were holding out their wings to dry as their feathers are not waterproof.

On the way back, another rock pipit was spotted and pied wagtail hopping along the rocks. Back at the carpark, a stonechat and song thrush were seen in the bushes.

After lunch, we decided to go on to Bracelet Bay near Mumbles to hone our gull identification skills. On the way, a red kite flew over the car with its distinctive brownish red body and forked tail. To think that at one time this species was near extinction and only found in small numbers in Wales. However, thanks to a successful reintroduction programme, the birds are becoming more widespread in Wales and areas of both Scotland and England.

At Bracelet Bay, we spotted more cormorants and oystercatchers on the rocky outcrops and a dunnock and robin were noted in the carpark.

We were delighted to see eight adult mediterranean gulls amongst the black-headed gulls. Noting the difference between the two species with the mediterranean gull having a shorter, thicker red bill and all white flight feathers whereas the black-headed gull has black wing tips.

Although our group was small, we had a very pleasant day's birding.

Viv Jenkins