It's that time of year when every day sees new migrants moving through on their way to their summer homes, and this week there's been plenty of variety out on the reserve. We had a male cuckoo at the far end of the reserve on 6 May, a whinchat also on 6 May, yellow wagtails on most days and up to 8 wheatears on the Estuary Track. Waders have also been moving through, heading up to their northern breeding grounds - small parties of whimbrel are seen daily out on the estuary, along with groups of dunlin, and we've spotted both ruff and grey plover on the Deep Lagoon. High tide has often brought small numbers of sandwich terns into the estuary, following the fish which they feed on - their rasping cries are unmistakeable as you walk along the Estuary Path, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for them! Two Mediterranean gulls also briefly visited us on 7 May, and on 12 May we were treated to two red kites sailing over the reserve, heading south down the valley.
The most spectacular sight this week was on 10 May, when hundreds of swallows and martins were seen on the ground in front of the Carneddau Hide. It was a cold, wet and windy day, so presumably they had recently arrived on migration and were exhausted from struggling against the weather. There seems to be plenty of food for them on the lagoons just now, as we've had a big hatching of non-biting midges - you can see them caught in the spider's webs on the windows!
Our hapless pair of great crested grebes are suffering their usual trials and tribulations - having built the nest in a very exposed situation right in the middle of the Deep Lagoon, they were washed out within a few days. Undeterred, they decided to build again in exactly the same place, and again the nest disappeared. Thankfully they hadn't yet laid any eggs either time. They then appeared to have an attack of good sense and started building closer to the shore by the causeway, but that evening when I went along to see what they were up to, they were busy building back in the first location again, and a big fat terrapin was sitting in the middle of the sensible nest! The terrapin has been here for several years, presumably dumped when it outgrew its tank, and is always a surprise when you first spot it, as not quite what you would expect to see here.
On Wednesday 16 May, we're going to be having a special evening when we open up the Coffee Shop after the usual Summer Evening Stroll. If you fancy coming along for a cup of coffee and cake sitting by the Shallow Lagoon as the sun sets, then come along for the walk - no need to book, just meet at the Estuary Gate at 7pm, and the walk is free!
Photo of swallows by Alan Gray