Tuesday 1 March 2022



          Heavy rain is forecast and strong southerly winds but there is a Pacific Diver at a reservoir not too far from Porthcawl, at Eglwys Reservoir, so I have to go!

          Waterproofs on and a lighter bike than usual due to being able to leave most things at the B & B, I set off and see what damage has been caused by Eunice, the incredibly strong storm that hit Britain yesterday.
          Trees are down and debris from broken branches and, at one place, a caravan roof, are all seen as I cycle north. The weather at this early hour, having set off at 7.30am, is not too bad and the wind is mostly behind me.
          I soon reach the reservoir and head for the far end, to a place where fishermen let me in back when on Biking Birder I in 2010. Then there were two birds that I particularly wanted to see on the extensive waters of the reservoir, a Lesser Scaup and a Ring-necked Duck. How different the weather was that day, being calm and sunny. Both birds I found easily and then I remember chatting with a fisherman who had caught five large trout.
          This time I found a large multi-padlocked gate and a lot of signs making it clear that visitors were not only unwelcome but would be prosecuted for trespassing! Terrible that such a fabulous resource, for not only birders but for local people, should be locked away like this. Surely it could be a country park with a cafe and a visitors centre, as well as a place for children to go to learn about nature. With woodland around the reservoir, as well as as the huge expanse of water itself, what a fabulous place it could be. For those who know of Draycote in Warwickshire, Rutland reservoir in well, Rutland with its Ospreys and fabulous habitat creation, hides, trails and nature centre, the immense Abberton reservoir in Essex and Carsington Water in Debyshire, you will know exactly how brilliant a man-made reservoir can be.

Draycote Reservoir




          I have visited all of the mentioned reservoirs on previous Biking Birder adventures and enjoyed, not only cycling around them but also have seen some excellent birds at them as well. The best I suppose from the point of view of rarity, was the Franklin's Gull I eventually saw after a seven hour wait at Abberton Reservoir back during Biking Birder III in 2016. 

           Not the best photograph ever of a Franklin's I'll be honest to say, actually it is one of the National Geographic Calendar request photographs, as I call them but it shows the bird and immediately conjures up images of a very hot, hazy day at a huge reservoir waiting to see the rarity from across The Pond.

          Back at Eglwys Reservoir I solve the problem of access and find the circumnaviagting road around it. By now rain is falling heavily and the wind is getting stronger. There are a few duck on the waters and a couple of Cormorants but I fear that I may have to walk the whole perimeter to find the Pacific Diver.
          Reaching the furthest south east corner there it is! It is not too far out and its small size and distinguishing features are all there, smaller, straighter bill than other divers, no white flank patch as in Black-throated and signs of a throat-neck dark line.

          As I move around a bush, adjacent to the long high dam wall, a small fluttering-flighted sandpiper flies off over the water never to be seen again. Common Sandpiper or the reported rarer one, a Spotted Sandpiper I will never know.
          I walk back along the shoreline in search of this bird but after an hour or so of searching with no luck, I decide to go and try and get better views of the diver. And what better views this lovely bird gives me!

          Kneeling down behind some rushes and bramble, the diver comes so close. Fantastic views, I can almost kiss it.


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