Trip reports

Port Eynon and Pennard Cliffs Walk

Port Eynon and Pennard Cliffs Walk
Angharad Jones

Sunday, 15 March 2020

The day out on the Gower Peninsula started off really wet! The first 15 minutes at Port Eynon was spent in cars waiting for a torrential down pour to pass and we practically had to swim to the pay machines! However, 5 minutes before the rain came, the first birds spotted were a male and female stonechat at the car park area, so a good start to the day.

Eventually we made our way towards the sea and walked along the rocky beach and the tide was in. We heard dunnocks and blackbirds in nearby trees and saw a rock pipit...on the rocks! Passing the remains of an old Salthouse, first recorded in the late 16 th century, scattered here and there along the sand were balls of papery, veined, little whelk eggs. We walked (or felt more like coaststeering...) towards the most Southerly end where we were rewarded with a few ringed plovers, turnstones, and witnessed around 9 purple sandpipers flying low across the rough sea and coming into land on the rocks. Accompanying the perched shorebirds were herring gulls, a great black-backed gull, 3 shags and oystercatchers. We got lucky when a cormorant landed next to a shag so we could compare both very similar looking birds, with some help from Sue - the cormorant had white
patches on its thigh (breeding plumage) and the shag is smaller in size.

The total purple sandpipers seen were around 20 by the time we headed back. The sun was breaking through the dark clouds, and still we saw the lovely sights of ringed plovers, turnstones and sandpipers flock together and low in flight. The tide had gone out quite far by now, exposing more rocks, and although it was brighter, these birds were still very much camouflaged by the rocks once they landed. Black headed gulls also spotted here, and the turnstones actually turning stones! A dunnock song continued as we were nearing the car park, along with a robin and house sparrows.

What a difference a few hours can make! The sun was now shining in time for lunch. Here, a Mediterranean gull flew by, also a kestrel, and starlings and jackdaws close by, looking for scraps no doubt.

On our way to the next location, we saw 3 red kites flying over a field, and one flew directly above us, close enough to see it's face and beautiful under-wing plumage. Next stop was another beauty spot on the peninsula, Pennard Cliffs (predominantly owned by the National Trust), a rugged and wildly beautiful stretch of coast. The moment we arrived at the car park we saw some bird action - a buzzard being harassed firstly by gulls, followed by a raven, with the raven showing as a much bigger bird than the buzzard. We ventured to the top of the cliffs along some muddy paths, between Deep Slade Bay and Hunts Bay, seeing stonechats, dunnock, goldfinches on the way. A skylark took off from the gorse directly in front of us, and a meadow pipit showed well as it bobbed along the ground, finding worms. Our aim in Pennard was to see the red-billed and legged chough, and eventually saw a handful darting about the cliffs, herring gulls too, making the most of the strong
winds, diving before raising up towards the sky again. We saw them on land too with one busy collecting grassy nest material.

Walking back along the road towards the car park, more dunnocks, a robin, a flock of goldfinch fly-by and a crow, similar to its corvid cousin earlier, gathering nest material from a nearby field.

A total of 27 bird species seen and heard, and a contended flock of birders!A short video of the day can be found on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Angharad Jones