With 2012 rapidly ticking off its final days I've been getting in a spot of last minute birding around the Christmas festivities. Principally this has involved sitting in the car at Llanrhidian marsh each evening in the hope of spotting a wintering Hen Harrier. We had no luck on that front but what we did see proved to be even better. First up was a stunning Barn Owl hunting the area beneath Weobley castle on the 24th. It was visible for well over half an hour and as only my second sighting of one outside Norfolk I was pretty chuffed. Its ghostly white shape stood out in stark contrast to the dull surroundings of yet another grey, wet day. Surely we must be due some better weather next year.
Our next star bird came in the shape of a magnificent Great White Egret. There's been at least two about the Burry Inlet for much of the year but despite a couple of efforts we had so far failed to see either. Our closest encounter came just below Llangennech but the views weren't quite good enough for a positive ID. Such doubts were nowhere to be seen this time however as the Egret lifted out of the reeds and proceeded to fly serenely across to the Little Egret roost. There it perched with thirty two of its smaller cousins and gave us a great opportunity to compare the size difference between the two species. It may have taken a year but finally we'd nailed one.
Weobley and Llanrhidian earlier this year
Another watch on Christmas day produced nothing so spectacular but there were an impressive number of Common Scoter in Rhossili Bay. I didn't fancy making an exact count in the blustery conditions, but as a conservative estimate there must have been upwards of two hundred birds present. They stretched in a long raft from roughly the edge of the bay to just outside of where waves were beginning to break and looked very well settled. Let's hope they stay that close for a while longer as you never know what may join them.