2nd September. A quick twitch trip up to Slimbridge to pick me up a life tick in the form of a young Dotterel that had been reported over the previous few days. A guided walk had been planned for 3pm so leaving work early I just had time to go on the walk before having to leave and get back home. The bird showed well, if distantly and it was nice to see its plover like behaviour and see the distinctive eye stripe.
7th September. A Wryneck had been seen at Cosmeston Lakes so with the family having gone back to bed I zoomed out at 11am to hopefully get me a nice tick. On arriving and finding my way over to the Dragonfly pool, there were several other birders looking for it. After looking for around 20 minutes and having seen nothing more exciting than a few score Hirundines on the move, I thought I noticed something move in a bush but wasn't sure so headed over in its general direction. After waiting for what seemed like far too long I edged a little closer and had another look without seeing anything. All of a sudden a bird flew from the base of the bush which turned out to be the Wryneck! My sum total view lasted around 4 seconds as I watched a stripy tail and rump disappear into thick tree cover with its undulating flight, not to be relocated again by myself or any other birders. Well it was a new lifer but maybe if I'd just waited one more minute, who knows if I could have got a few good pictures?
19th September. A nice sunny morning and a high tide to coincide with my journey to work tempted me into a detour via Goldcliff. Good numbers of waders on the pool just about viewable from the third platform (what the hell are they doing to the place?) which included around 100 roosting Knot, a few Little Stint and a handful of Curlew Sandpiper which, with my colour blindness, I had tremendous difficulty in distinguishing from the numerous Dunlin also present. I managed a few rough record shots through the scope at the obligatory range you are restricted to when birding at Goldcliff. Also present were Avocet, Black-Tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank and a single Spotted Redshank.
21st September. This was going to be it! A perfect morning weatherwise so I headed off nice and early to Uskmouth to hopefully see the Wryneck that had been there over the previous few days. On arriving there, and with only one other birder present it became evident that the bird wasn't going to play ball. After a few hours wandering along the sea wall and around all the suitable Wryneck habitat, there was no sight nor sound of the bird and as the light became more hazy, all I had seen was a few male Blackcap, two Reed Warbler and a single Whitethroat feeding in bushes at the western edge of the reserve. A family party of Coal Tits eluded the camera and singles of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel all kept their distance as they went about their business. A brief sighting of half a dozen pinging Bearded Tits was a nice bonus too. After meeting more optimistic but empty handed Wryneck watchers, I headed off over the channel towards Severn Beach and hopefully to see the Pectoral Sandpiper that had been seen at Northwick Wharf. Lots of birders and dog walkers there in the warm hazy sunshine but distant birds, the wrong tide and limited time meant that I wasn't going to be lucky enough to catch up with it. As near as I got was a small flock of 5 juvenile Ringed Plover! I did get a reasonable view of a passage Whinchat before heading back home. Later that afternoon on checking the internet both the Wryneck and the Pectoral Sandpiper were located and photographed! C'est la vie!
22nd September. With the Wryneck bug still biting, I decided to try one last attempt for the year to catch one on camera so left work early to give me an opportunity to see it at a time when it had been reported twice before. On reaching Uskmouth at 3 in the afternoon, I met with some Gwent birders who had been there most of the day and hadn't caught up with it. Still trying to remain optimistic in the greying skies I stayed until 5:30 when realism finally caught up with me and I left. I did manage to get a nice picture of a Little Grebe feeding what must be a late second brood chick. Next year for my Wryneck then!
26th September. On my way back from work I treated myself to a quick dip to New Passage. With a waxing tide and beautiful afternoon sunshine, I hoped to catch a Curlew Sand or Little Stint but was ultimately disappointed with fishermen lining the shore every fifty yards, keeping the birds up on the saltmarsh and at a range of "borderline identifiable", even with the scope! I did manage to spot a hundred or so Turnstone, with a few Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Curlew mixed in. Still, it was nice to sit on the bench for half an hour or so in the sun!
27th September. What had promised to be a perfect morning’s weather, turned out to have disappointingly leaden skies after five minutes post-dawn sunshine. I decided on heading to Goldcliff to again try and distinguish a few of those tricky smaller waders. Again, good numbers of waders were there but with the light as poor as it was, obtaining quality images was always going to be difficult. The only salvageable scoped image was one of a Little Stint which was one of a group of three, observed on the pool by the first platform. Also on this pool were single Sanderling, Green Sandpiper and Ruff amongst the other usual suspects with the growing Knot flock, Blackwits, Dunlin and Avocets showing from the third platform.