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Birdwatching on Gower

Birds

Second-winter black-headed gull

These alert, busy gulls are most commonly seen at Bracelet Bay carpark and at the Penclawdd carpark next to the Estuary Bar & Rooms. In common with small gulls they reach breeding maturity in two years, but breed colonially on fresh water and not in Gower. The chocolate (not black) cap is adult summer plumage.

Chough

Long absent from Gower, choughs are back with us, and breed in caves or gullies in the cliffs. They have coral red bare parts and distinctively fingered wings. Listen to their calls, which are plainly of the crow family but in a higher register than the jackdaws with which they are often seen.

Adult female green woodpecker

These attractive but shy birds do not do all we expect of woodpeckers. They are frequently on cliff tops, commons and the fringe of the north Gower marsh. Houses with lawns sometimes attract them, because they feed at ants’ nests.

Greenshank

Bigger and more elegant than their cousins the redshanks, these pleasing birds might be seen on the muddy margins of the pill at Penclawdd carpark. Their flight call attracts the notice of the knowledgeable birdwatcher.

Juvenile kestrels at Rhossili

These are falcons, not hawks. The many thousands of visitors to Rhossili might well see a kestrel hovering above the cliffs and holding position in defiance of the turbulent air currents. From their vantage point their sharp eyes will find the beetles, grasshoppers and voles on which they feed. Females are bigger than males.

Red kite

This is one of the great success stories in the world of conservation. In the ’fifties and ’sixties they were in mid Wales in small numbers. Now they are strongly established in Wales and England. They have bred in Gower and are commonly seen in Mawr – notably at the Lliw Valley reservoirs.

Lapwing

These wading birds are just hanging on as a breeding species in Gower. In winter, on the other hand, they are seen in large flocks and can be identified at a great distance by their broad wings, which end in ‘hands’. The soulful ‘peewit’ call is distinctive and one of the pleasures of the marshes.

Little grebe on Oxwich South Pond

Their call is described as a trill. Once known, it is a useful guide to the presence of these little birds before you reach the open water – pond, lake, estuary – where you will see them in small numbers. They spend an astonishing length of time under water, fishing.

Meadow pipit

A bird seemingly diminishing in numbers. On open moorland and common, meadow pipits are the little brown birds which are not skylarks. They are ground-nesting birds, perhaps vulnerable to trampling by livestock and certainly at risk of brood-parasitism by cuckoos.

Purple sandpiper at Port Eynon

A bird to look out for on rocks at Port Eynon Point and the Rhossili causeway. The colour is not obvious, but their comparative fearlessness near people makes them attractive. They are present in winter.

 

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