Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Intermediate, possible early starts necessary

Group Size:

Eight plus Leader

Red Kite Great Northern Diver Grey Wagtail Glaucous Gull Mediterranean Gull Short-eared Owl

South Wales - Secrets of The Saltmarsh

Date: 14th - 19th January 2019 [SPACES]
Leaders: Paul Roberts




Arrive at Atlantic Hotel, Porthcawl at approximately 13.00. Following check in at the hotel, we take a short drive to a nearby area of upland conifer forest. Our principal target species here will be Northern Goshawk, Brambling and Common Crossbill, though all can take some finding and are not always seen. Other species present should include Coal Tit, Eurasian Siskin and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. If time permits, we will check Porthcawl Seafront, where Rock Pipit and Mediterranean Gull should be present and there may be a Red-throated Diver or two offshore.



We travel to the Gower Heritage Coast and the superb site at Berges Island and Whiteford NNR. There is a hide that offers a panoramic view over the vast salt marsh of the Burry Inlet and here we can expect close views of a large number of birds. Approximately one thousand Dark-bellied Brent Geese are normally present and there are good counts of Slavonian Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Eider most years. Many thousands of shorebirds are present including Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot, Eurasian Curlew and European Oystercatchers, and large flocks of Common Shelduck, Northern Pintail, Common Shelduck and Eurasian Wigeon are also present. Common Crossbill, Coal Tits and Goldcrest are often noted and it would not be unexpected to find Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Common Raven, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting. We will drive back along the coast to Penclawdd to view the salt marsh, where there is the possibility of finding a wintering Common Sandpiper or Common Greenshank, while one or two Spotted Redshanks are also found most years. Great White Egret is fairly regular here during winter and the occasional Eurasian Spoonbill and Marsh Harrier are noted. In the late afternoon, we visit Llanrhidian Marsh, where we hope to encounter a Hen Harrier or two as they fly into roost, Little Egrets on the salt marsh and large numbers of European Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing, as well as Red Knot that are sent skywards by hunting raptors such as Peregrine and Merlin. Short-eared and Barn Owls are occasionally seen, while Green Sandpiper, Redwing and Common Stonechat are often present. We will stay until last light and the journey back to the hotel will take approximately one hour.



Following breakfast, we take the short drive to Candleston to look for Dipper and Grey Wagtail and perhaps Common Kingfisher. If we have no joy here, we will try a second site in Bridgend. We move on to Ogmore Estuary and the large flocks of gulls that are usually present. These include regular Mediterranean Gull and the occasional Little Gull is also sometimes noted. Glaucous and Iceland Gull may occasionally be present. Goosander, Little Grebe, Common Goldeneye and Common Shelduck are regular visitors and one or two Water Pipits are sometimes noted on the shingle of Portobello Island. Purple Sandpipers can normally be found on the rocks, with up to twenty birds usually present and European Shag can often been seen offshore. Peregrine and Common Kestrel regularly hunt the area and Northern Goshawk has wintered. Rarer species seen here have recently included Snow and Lapland Buntings, Bewick’s Swan and Taiga Bean and Pink-footed Geese. The afternoon is spent at Kenfig National Nature Reserve. The numbers of wildfowl here can vary from year to year, depending upon the water levels and the severity of the weather, but there are often good counts of Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Northern Shoveler and diving ducks such as Common Pochard, Common Goldeneye and Tufted Duck. Firecrest, Siberian Chiffchaff and Great Bittern are regular winter visitors here, but as elsewhere can be difficult to observe. In the dunes, there is a chance of Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Peregrine. Gulls of several species are often present. Small numbers of Common Chiffchaff and Blackcaps over winter here and other species we hope to encounter include Water Rail, Reed Bunting and Cetti’s Warbler. Finally, the sometimes impressive Common Starling roost often brings hunting raptors in for a spectacular end to the day. Several rarities have been noted during the winter period and these have included Redhead, Bearded and Penduline Tit, Surf Scoter, Royal Tern, Ring-necked Duck, Pallas’s Warbler and Pied-billed Grebe.



We need to be a bit flexible today, as the location of some key species will dictate the exact sites we visit, but we will work on the following lines. Our first stop this morning will be near Cardiff, which is our only regular haunt of the elusive Hawfinch. An element of luck is always needed to see them, but they can show very well here. Other species likely to be encountered should include Marsh Tit, Song Thrush, Common Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper and Common Buzzard. We will also visit Cardiff Bay and Cosmeston Lakes near Penarth. Good numbers of gulls come into bathe here and may include Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls; scarcer grebes are possible, as are Lesser Redpoll and Black Redstart. The fresh water bodies at both sites usually hold good numbers of common diving ducks that have included a regular returning drake Lesser Scaup and a Bonaparte’s Gull, as well as a few Greater Scaup and we will endeavour to see these species if they are present. Reed Bunting, Common Snipe and Water Rail can be expected. Bearded Tit has been noted in recent years, Great Bitterns are sometimes present at Cosmeston, while rarities such as Ferruginous Duck, Ring-necked Duck and Pied-billed Grebe have been recorded in recent years.



We head westwards today for a visit to Swansea Bay and South Gower for sites including Rhossilli Bay and Oxwich Bay as well as the famous gull- watching site at Blackpill. It was here in 1973 that the first Ring-billed Gull was recorded in Britain though it is now a very scarce visitor to the site. Mediterranean Gull is also regular and several species of shorebird can be expected. Both Ross’s and Ivory Gulls have been recorded here. At Rhossilli and/or Oxwich, we hope to encounter the large Common Scoter flock that winters in the general area around here, as well as European Shag, Red-throated Diver and the first returning Northern Fulmar, Common Guillemot and Razorbills to the breeding colony at Worms Head.

We will however be exceptionally lucky to repeat the sighting of a pure white Gyr Falcon seen here a couple of times in recent years or a Black-throated Thrush which was present recently for a couple of weeks in winter in Swansea. If time permits, we will also check Mumbles Head, where small numbers of Red-throated and Great Northern Divers could be present, along with Common Eider. Both Surf and Velvet Scoter and Little Auk have been recorded here, while large numbers of Mediterranean Gulls are often present, along with a few Black-legged Kittiwake and European Shag.



Following breakfast and checkout, we will make a stop to look for Yellowhammer and other farmland species at a feeding station that with luck may include Grey Partridge. We conclude our tour at approximately 13.00 to allow time for the journey home.


Additional Information


Five nights accommodation in en suite rooms with private facilities, meals from dinner on day one to lunch on day six, transport, services of leader and reserve entrance fees.
Travel to/from Wales, travel insurance, lunch on day one, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.


Tour Reports


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“Thanks a million for the trip. We had a great time and are still on a high!” V.R. & J.L. Hertfordshire.
" A superb few days birding - excellent company, excellent birds and excellent weather " M & F S Leicester
"The marvellous views of Goshawk was a real highlight as was the male Dartford Warbler which was so close we didn't even need binoculars. Neil was as always helpful and knowledgeable and the hotel was very good and the food was excellent. South Wales surprised us and we would definitely go back and do it again. S & C C Darlington.
" Good hotel, friendly group and excellent views of some special birds - especially on the day on North Gower but I enjoyed the whole tour very much "  R H Leicester
"I had wanted to visit this area for some time and was delighted to have had such a good time. The leader worked extremely hard to get us all super views of most species and the hotel and meals were excellent too. It was a really great few days" B M Sussex
" I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this trip. The group size was perfect and the birding excellent " W D Herefordshire
" Neil's knowledge of the area enabled him to outwit the weather and find birds even in the most challenging conditions. It was an amazing week - a treasure hunt where everyone had a prize!" L & RT Worcester
" Thank you for " another" wonderful holiday. We had a great time, saw some marvellous things and you could not have looked after us better - we felt really spoilt!! S C & V S London
" Thanks for giving us good birds in some very trying conditions. I shall always remember the raptor experience. J.B. Devon
" I would like to express my thanks for a very good birding break in South Wales. I enjoyed your leadership & your company along with the birds, and the accommodation was very good. Hopefully, I will come again with Oriole Birding next year"
I.S. Essex
" Thanks Neil for a really good few days last week; we both enjoyed it very much and the group was very nice. Thank you also for your excellent and very well written report SJ & DJ Cambridge