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Winter visitors arrive in Wales

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Rachael Garside Rachael Garside | 09:45 UK time, Friday, 14 October 2011

I spent a very calming couple of hours at the National Wetland Centre Wales in Carmarthenshire this week, or Penclacwydd as it's also known.

At the centre, they've just finished restoring three salt water lagoons, making it easier to spot some of our annual Winter visitors.

My guide was Dominic Carmichael who is the Learning Manager at the site and with his expertise I was able to pick out some of the many water birds across the salt marshes.

It was a misty day, with Penclacwdd only just visible on the other side of the estuary. Directly in front of us but some distance away was a little egret, a member of the heron family, standing alone waiting for the tide to go out so that he could start feeding.

Watch a clip of the reserve on BBC Wales Nature & Outdoors.

Also present were black-tailed godwits which the centre is renowned for - stopping off in West Wales as they make their way South from Iceland for the winter.

Black-tailed godwits in flight by Tony Llewellyn.

Black-tailed godwits in flight by Tony Llewellyn.

We also spotted a flock of dunlins, swooping low in formation across the water. It was very peaceful experience with only the sound of the birds to be heard.

I'm reliably informed that staff at the centre also see kingfishers and even spoonbills regularly and are convinced that the refurbished lagoons are already helping to attract more birds.

The salt water also attracts all-important invertebrates which provide a valuable food source. The only problem is being posed by a resident peregrine falcon who is terrorising the smaller visitors.

A little egret landing by Martin Pulling.

A little egret landing by Martin Pulling.

One top tip from Dominic to anyone visiting the Wetland Centre is to check the tide times before you set out as high tide is best and could make all the difference.

Here's a few bird numbers counted on the restored lagoons so far this autumn:

160 little egret, 500 black-tailed godwit, 340 redshank, 150 lapwing, 850 curlew, 58 greenshank.

Rarer birds spotted included great white egret, wood sandpiper, garganey, ruff, little stine and kingfishers.


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