The monthly co-ordinated wildfowl and wader count on the Dyfi was carried out at high-tide this morning. I covered the Ynys-hir RSPB reserve section whilst others counted the other three sections further down the estuary. The barnacle geese, all 321 of them, were feeding on the remaining grass not covered by the high-tide. Most of the waders were roosting on the flooded fields near the Breakwater hide with over 200 curlew, 60 redshank and a few bar-tailed godwits hunkered down in the increasingly strong winds. The highlight amongst the waders was a spotted redshank, the paler body, longer bill and pronounced eye-stripe distinctive even at long range. From tomorrow we will be closing the path along the railway until April 1st to reduce disturbance to the wintering ducks and waders on the Breakwater fields. 16 Greenland white-fronted geese were feeding on the lowland wet grassland only 150m from the Breakwater hide; all were adults and the low productivity of this race on the breeding grounds is an increasing cause of concern. The rarest county bird of the day though was a male pochard. A common and familiar bird on most areas of water in England and parts of Wales it is a very scarce bird in Ceredigion and is only the second record of a pochard in the county this year. Strange to say but it is rarer in the county than both eider and long-tailed duck!
Colder weather over the last few days has seen an increase in winter visitors to the reserve. Yesterday there was a strong passage of redwings through the reserve and the first goldeneye of the winter was on the Dyfi. 278 barnacle geese are feeding on the salt marsh and ten Greenland white-fronted geese were feeding on the lowland wet grassland with large numbers of Canada geese. Wader numbers on the lowland wet grassland are slowly increasing too with 750 golden plover, 2000 lapwing and 100 curlew. Birds of prey are now a regular feature with a ring-tailed hen harrier, a juvenile marsh harrier, merlin and peregrine seen yesterday along with the more usual red kites, buzzards and sparrowhawk.