Kenfig Dunes and Sker point

I visited Kenfig for the first time in months yesterday thanks to the relaxation of covid rules. I had an excellent time with many first year sightings. I started my day at the pool where I saw my first sand martins of the year, a flock of 35 skirting about the water feeding, right in the centre of the pool. There were many waterfowl present there too, 15 gadwall, 6 tufted ducks, 7 teal, 3 shovelers and a single female goldeneye. From the hide I had a great view of the female marsh harrier hunting over the reed beds, taking several swoops down into undergrowth although each time coming up empty-handed.

Next I made my way through the dunes down to Sker point, with sightings of a lapwing, reed bunting, 3 snipe, and a great white egret at the various flooded pools. The sounds of skylarks and meadow pipits were abundant, with sights of both flocks on the move over the dunes and fluttering specks in the sky singing.

Hoping to do some sea-watching, I failed to realise that the conditions at Sker would not allow it, with huge waves crashing and a strong headwind, long distance watching was not possible. Instead, I chose to focus on photographing the shorebirds which were numerous along the rocks. I had great views of the purple sandpiper in particular, 5 were very obliging as they stayed in close company of a turnstone. The flock of golden plover along the shore were well on their way to full summer plumage, with a striking variety of stages in the 300 or so lined up along the rocks. Having tried to carefully approach, they were startled and flew up into the sky in a swirling flock, which stayed in the air for almost 5 minutes before settling on the fields in front of Sker House.

The passerine activity on the fields in front of Sker House was incredible, I counted (at least) 15 wheatears along the walls and common here although their flighty nature made it tricky to create an accurate total – I expect the true number is closer to 25. Another nice sight was 3 breeding plumage stonechats landing on the common and singing. Before I left I even spotted a hare sitting in a field further down towards Porthcawl, typically I barely came any closer before it was long gone…

I finished the day in my garden at Boverton, a grey wagtail and pair of moorhens have become regulars to the pond and fed in front of me as I watched from the hide. There is a water rail too which I hear squealing occasionally from the undergrowth behind the wall but he has yet to actually venture into the garden. The resident female kingfisher has also departed for the time being, she used to hunt regularly on the pond back in mid winter but I expect now she has moved elsewhere for breeding.

Just as a little side note – I have a little radio diary on Bro Radio on the 31st about bird and wildlife watching in the Vale as a student, thought I’d mention it as it might be of interest to a couple…

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