The plan for today was an early start and a long morning at the Water Park. An evening check of Twitter showed reports of a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Goldcliff reserve at Newport. A life tick just an hour away made it a no brainer so six o’clock saw myself and Matt heading off along the M4. We arrived at Goldcliff within the hour and headed straight off to the reserve. There were already a good number of birders on site and it was confirmed that the bird was showing well. After finding a space at the first screen it was a case of running through the Dunlin flock to find it. With various directions being given we soon found the bird and although initially it was asleep it eventually moved to give great views. Nice for my 200th bird of the year to be a lifer. We were really lucky as the conditions were ideal with the sun at our rear showing the birds in a great light. Another lousy picture but it is the one facing left about twelve birds in off the main group.
It was similar enough to the Dunlins to be easily missed when in amongst a flock so congratulations to the finder. Also seen here were coming on for a hundred Avocets, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank and a Little Stint. Marsh harrier was seen and a couple Of Yellow Wagtails flew over. From here we headed back towards home with a stop off at Severn Beach / New Passage. After stocking up at Downs Bakery we wandered off along the path to Pilning. It was really quiet here and with a biting north wind pretty chilly as well. There was no sign of yesterdays Garganey and the only Yellow Wagtail seen was a flyover bird. A few White Wagtails were amongst the Pied and there were three Wheatears around. Plenty of Warblers were heard and seen in the hedgerow. From here we headed off to the Water Park hoping to find the Marsh Harrier that has been around for a couple of days. Our luck ran out on this oneas we missed it by just a few minutes. A Hobby was a nice consolation bird and Matt got his fist Swift of the year. As at Pilning there were plenty of Warblers around. We managed good views of a Cetti’s but Reed and Sedge stayed well hidden. All in all a great day with four year ticks with one being a lifer. I am slowly getting closer to the 300 mark that I would like to break this year. (3 more to go). Arriving back in Chiseldon a quick check of the flood water found that the Ruddy Shelduck had returned after being absent for a couple of weeks.