Tour At A Glance

Cost:

649.00

Deposit:

100.00

Single Room Supplement:

100.00

Tour Code:

Fairly relaxed but with some early starts

Group Size:

Eight plus Leader

Cetti's Warbler Common Kingfisher Sanderling Great-spotted Woodpecker Spotted Flycatcher

South Wales - Autumn Migration

Date: Tour not currently running
Leaders: Neil Donaghy or Paul Roberts

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE

Arrive at the Atlantic Hotel for a 13.00 departure – as lunch is not included today, please ensure you make provisions before we leave. We will head to nearby Candleston Bridge to look for Dipper, Grey Wagtail and perhaps Common Kingfisher. Migrants such as Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff and Sand Martin are present. We spend the remainder of the day at the nearby estuary and surrounding area at Ogmore by Sea. The numbers of birds here are never large, owing to disturbance, but there is usually something of interest. Resident species include Common Buzzard, European Sparrowhawk, Common Stonechat, Grey Wagtail and Meadow Pipit. Ruff is seen some years and Common Sandpiper can be present in good numbers. Green Sandpiper can sometimes be found here or at the Watermill Flood. Common Teal, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall could also be present, while post breeding parties of Goosander are regular here.  There are always large numbers of gulls on Portobello Island, which often include Mediterranean Gull and sometimes Yellow-legged and Little Gull can also be found. Recent autumn rarities here include Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Sabine’s Gull, Red-necked Phalarope, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Spoonbill and Great White Egret. En route back to the hotel, we make roadside stops to look for Red-legged Partridge and Stock Dove.

 

DAY TWO

We begin with an early morning trip to Kenfig National Nature Reserve. An early start is necessary if we are to encounter shorebirds along the East Pool shore, as later disturbance is guaranteed. Species such as Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Common Greenshank are regular visitors throughout the autumn. Occasionally, more unusual species such as a Wood Sandpiper may be present. On the pool itself, the first returning wildfowl start to appear with Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon amongst the earliest arrivals. An occasional Garganey may be present, Great Crested and Little Grebes are resident and there has been a few Black-necked Grebe records in recent years. Among the several species of gull that are normally present, we have a good chance of finding a Mediterranean Gull or two.  With luck, we may also encounter Black Tern over the pool. For all tours, there will be great anticipation, as the reserve is home to large numbers of migrating warblers and one species in particular sets the pulses racing. Aquatic Warbler is a globally threatened species, and breeds no closer than Poland, yet this species has been recorded on almost forty occasions at this site in early autumn, meaning the reserve can truly claim to be a British hotspot for this species. Their elusive and skulking behaviour makes them difficult to observe, but just occasionally one of the ‘tiger striped’ juveniles can be observed in the reed beds. Another scarce species, which may be skulking in the reeds, is Spotted Crake, which no doubt occurs more often than it is actually seen. Commoner species in the west pool bushes include good numbers of Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Overhead, Tree Pipits and Grey and Yellow Wagtails and can be seen and heard as they head to the Bristol Channel coast, which lies just a mile or so away. Other regular migrants in small numbers include Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Common Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat. As in spring, large numbers of hirundines and the last of the Common Swifts pass through and these might well attract hunting Eurasian Hobby. Resident species include Water Rail, Common Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler and Linnet. Uncommon or rare species seen at the site in the recent past have included Caspian Tern, Eurasian Honey Buzzard, Great White Egret, Eurasian Wryneck, Barred and Aquatic Warblers, Red-backed Shrike, Pectoral Sandpiper and Rose-coloured Starling. Once we have thoroughly checked the pool, we head across the beach to Sker Point. We should encounter several species of shorebird here including Whimbrel, Sanderling, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, European Golden and Grey Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as commoner species. Offshore, Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns and Common Scoter are regular and European Shag should be present on the rocks. Gulls are omnipresent and once again could include Mediterranean Gull. The farm holds small numbers of finches, wagtails and pipits with species such as Northern Wheatear and Whinchat also regular. The occasional rarity turns up in autumn, none more famous than the first Western Palearctic record of Little Whimbrel that stayed for a week in August/ September 1982. Buff-breasted and Pectoral Sandpipers have been noted in the past, Red-necked Phalarope has also been noted at the tiny Sker Pool and there is an outside chance of a migrant Lapland or Snow Bunting along the tide line or in the short turf. We also visit the Kenfig Rivermouth to check for more shorebirds and migrants such as Marsh Harrier, Garganey and Bearded Tit though this under watched part of the reserve could turn up practically anything.

 

DAY THREE

If the wind is coming from the south west, we take the two-minute walk to the seafront for a pre-breakfast sea watch. This can be very rewarding with large movements of Manx Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Northern Fulmar and Black-legged Kittiwake taking place. If the wind has been blowing harder, the range of species will increase, and it would not be unexpected to find European Storm Petrel, Great and Arctic Skuas and Atlantic Grey Seals offshore, while Pomarine and Long- tailed Skuas and Sooty and Mediterranean Shearwaters are very occasionally noted. If the wind is not conducive to sea watching, we will try elsewhere for migrants. Following breakfast, we head westwards and onto North Gower. We spend time at Salthouse Point, Loughor Bridge, Penclawdd and Llanrhidian Marsh. Little Egret is almost guaranteed here, often in good numbers with a roost of over three hundred birds recorded some years and Great White Egret and Eurasian Spoonbill have been noted in several of the recent autumns. Spotted Redshank, which can be decidedly scarce elsewhere in this area are fairly regular, as are some very good counts of Common Greenshank. Osprey is a regular visitor during this time, and there is often more than one bird present. The near resident Black-tailed Godwit flock is swollen to around two hundred or more individuals at this time, and in some years good numbers of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper are present. Several other species of shorebird can also be expected. Wildfowl numbers start to build with the first returning Northern Pintail, Common Shelduck and perhaps even an early Dark-bellied Brent Goose or two present. Scarcer migrants could include Garganey, Black Tern, Wood Sandpiper and Marsh Harrier. The area has turned up a few rarities too including Spotted Crake, Bobolink, Pectoral Sandpiper, European Roller, Aquatic Warbler and Gull-billed Tern during this period.

 

DAY FOUR

Following breakfast, we head east to the reserve at Goldcliff. This superb area of freshwater scrapes, lagoons and tidal foreshore is a prime site for shorebirds. Pectoral, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers have all been recorded on a few occasions while it is also the most regular site in Wales for another scarce shorebird - Temminck’s Stint. Pied Avocet, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Ringed Plover and Common Greenshank can all be expected among the commoner shorebirds and wildfowl that can be present in good numbers. Red-necked Phalarope has also been recorded a few times. Little Egret is also a regular visitor here and Great White Egret and Eurasin Spoonbill are also possible migrants. Yellow and Pied Wagtails, Northern Wheatear and Sky Larks are regular visitors and there is potential for scarce passerines as Ortolan Bunting has been noted. Nearby Uskmouth holds a small population of Bearded Tit and Eurasian Hobby and Marsh Harrier could also be present, while Cetti’s Warblers should be heard and occasionally seen here.

 

DAY FIVE

We take a packed breakfast, as we make an early start to visit the Gower Heritage Coast. Our first stop will be Port Eynon, where we should encounter good numbers of Manx Shearwaters, Northern Gannets, Black-legged Kittiwakes and terns. We may also encounter both Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters and cannot rule out the possibility of larger shearwaters occurring, though for some unknown reason they are extremely uncommon in these waters. The scrub around the headland should hold common migrants, along with Common Stonechat and Linnet. There is excellent potential for uncommon migrants to be found. We will also visit the recently rejuvenated hides and scrapes at Oxwich Bay NNR. The habitat here is similar to Kenfig Pool, with a large coastal reed bed and scrub and the long beach is attractive to shorebirds. In recent times, this site has hardly been watched at all, but in previous years, Aquatic Warbler has been found, as has Purple Heron, Lesser Yellowlegs and Marsh Harrier and the potential for finding interesting species is still there, especially now that some excellent new habitat has been created primarily for wetland birds. Breeding species include Cetti’s Warbler, Green Woodpecker and Common Kingfisher.

 

DAY SIX

Following checkout, we have the opportunity to catch up with any nearby new arrivals before concluding the holiday at approximately midday to allow time for the onward journey home.

 

 

Additional Information

 

WHATS INCLUDED
Five nights dinner, bed and breakfast in en suite accommodation, ground transport in South Wales, packed/picnic lunches, services of guide and reserve entrance fees.  
 
NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/ from Wales, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.

 

Tour Reports

 

1998a  1998b  1999SEP  1999OCT  2000  2003  2004  2005  2006

 

Testimonials

 

“You are such lovely people, making me feel so very welcome and at home. Your hospitality was genuine and far beyond what was expected. It was a wonderful tour and I shall never forget it – the best bird tour I’ve ever been on.”
A. B. Iowa, USA.
 
“We have both benefited greatly from your instruction and are much encouraged to become further involved in the birding game. Many thanks for looking after us so well. We will be in touch whenever another outing to the UK is planned.” E & G. F. County Tipperary, Ireland.
 
“Very many thanks for a wonderful weekend. We hope to join you again before too long.” D & M. T. Birmingham.
 
“Just a short note to thank you for an excellent weekend. We will certainly make another date.”
D & J. D. Hertfordshire
 
"This note is for Paul from Gail and Russ Kruetzman with special thanks for a wonderful two days of birding in Wales. You showed us some terrific sights and 8 lifers in a countryside that stands out in our memories. That's why whenever we head to Europe we always make sure to stop for REAL BIRDING excitement and beautiful countryside in England. Oriole never fails to surprise and please us. That Dipper and the flock of curlews was thrilling! Thanks Paul".  G & R K Florida

 

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