Tale of two halves

At the end of last year, I started planning 2015 to include trips around the UK meeting up with more fellow Next Generation Birders. First trip on the cards was Swansea to meet up with Emma-Louise Cole, Dan Rouse, Chris Dyer and Will Townsend. After getting the first bus of the day down to the train station, I set off on the long journey to Wales. The trains were busy and noisy, so revision on the train didn’t go as well as planned. Apparently some big football match was due to take place…

Still, hours later, I arrived in a breezy Swansea. We decided to head to Rhossili Bay to see what was about as I’m told it can be good for seawatching. I’m also told that it’s been the location for some Dr Who scenes.

Dr Who was here...

Dr Who was here…

The weather was against us. It’s almost true to say we didn’t see any birds… But we did see a few. A group of common gulls, herring gulls, jackdaws, a cormorant and some oystercatchers. Oh, and a pied wagtail.

Despite the lack of birds, I have to admit I enjoyed myself. It’s always nice to meet fellow young birders, and see part of the country you’ve never been to before. The food in the local café was delicious too! I also got to see some of Swansea University’s areas used for the University Birdwatch Challenge – I can see why they won and we didn’t. There’s lots of heathland, and it’s by the coast. Not bad, eh?

Some happy, wind swept birders! (Will Townsend)

Some happy, wind swept birders! (Will Townsend)

Sunday was going to be a quiet day of revision, and food shopping, to make up for the little revision done yesterday. I was just planning to go out to get some food when I received a message saying “Greater Yellowlegs, Titchfield Haven“. Well, that changed everything. Food could wait, and as it was only mid morning, there was still plenty of time for work later. Train home it was!

I tried to find out more information as I rushed back home, but there was very little. It was only a possible sighting, and said bird has flown south. Would it be refound? Was I just going on a wild goose… or should that be wader chase? I thought it was best to take the chance, especially as I enjoy visiting the reserve anyway!

By the time I was back in Titchfield, the bird was still unconfirmed and hadn’t been seen in a while, but as mum and I headed towards Titchfield Haven, news came in confirming that the greater yellowlegs was exactly that, and that it was viewable from the canal path. The bird in question was about 250m down from Bridge Street, along the extremely muddy canal path.

Greater yellowlegs (top right) with wigeon and black-tailed godwits.

Greater yellowlegs (top right) with wigeon and black-tailed godwits.

The greater yellowlegs - often hard to see as it wandered behind vegetation.

The greater yellowlegs – often hard to see as it wandered behind vegetation.

For some better pictures, see Trevor’s blog or the numerous pictures on twitter!

I really wish I could’ve stayed longer, but alas exams are looming and revision is more important than rare birds (unfortunately). The break to see the bird was well worth it though, and I still did plenty of work in the afternoon!

What’s next?!

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