This morning was spent guiding with Don Fraser, the main objective being waders on the Cleddau. However with a massive high tide just after 8am, we decided to spend a while looking in St. Bride’s Bay. At Newgale we had some lovely views of Common Scoter close inshore and in great light, getting to grips with males, females and also first-winter males. Between here and Broad Haven we recorded around 134 birds in widely scattered flocks, but the nice thing was how close most birds were. Newgale Marsh was fairly quiet with the usual scattering of Teal & Mallard, and a lone Snipe. Close scrutiny of the pipits revealed both Rock & Meadow but not the elusive Water Pipit which winter further up this valley.
On then to Hook where we had a fantastic few hours searching Sprinkle Pill, the top end of the Daugleddau from Fowborough Point, and the lower reaches of the Western Cleddau from Fowborough up to Hook Quay. Teal numbers were down on my last visit 2 weeks ago, but we still recorded over 300 birds. Wigeon were stable at around 70, and we managed to pick out a lone female Pintail preening on the side of the channel. Mallard & Shelduck completed the wildfowl list, and on the south side of Sprinkle Pill we picked out 17 Greylag Geese, an increasingly common sight here.
Wader numbers varied from my last visit. Redshank numbers were down, perhaps around 40 birds recorded, and 4 Greenshank was a reasonable total. A flock of perhaps 200 Dunlin fed close by and then joined a larger flock across the water at Landshipping. A few Lapwing were scattered in Sprinkle Pill and more still were around at Millin Pill. A fantastic flock of Golden Plover, perhaps 500-600 birds, wheeled around at Millin, eventually settling on the dark mud which set off the stunning spangled plumage nicely. It was scanning across towards Millin that the star bird appeared – a super smart drake GREEN-WINGED TEAL with a group of teal. This North American duck has been recorded at Sprinkle Pill a few years ago but this is the first sighting this winter, so hard to tell if it is the same bird or a different bird passing through. It was seen in good light, where the vertical white stripe on the breast sides told it apart from it’s Eurasian cousins, along with a warmer peachy breast, and a less distinct buff border to the green head patch. A wonderful surprise!
A single Black-tailed Godwit was recorded, a chance to check out leg & bill length & general winter plumage features to compare with future encounters with Bar-tailed Godwit. The wader highlight was superb views of 2 Grey Plover (with 2 more distant), very subtle but intricate patterning across the coverts and scapulars and looking superb in the low sunlight. The woodland yielded both Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, completing a fantastic winter’s morning in Pembrokeshire.