No other place in Wales boasts so many rare gulls
AT THE CENTRAL point of Swansea Bay, the Clyne River reaches the shore at Black Pill, the sea here at low tide being up to a mile distant. There is a magnificent sweep of shore, eastwards to Swansea and beyond to reach Crymlyn Burrows and the River Neath. Southwards and nearer at hand the shoreline extends past Knab Rock to the lighthouse at Mumbles Head. Writing in the March 1973 edition of British Birds, Peter Grant said “There can be few more likely candidates for future addition to the British and Irish list than the Ring-billed Gull.” Almost on cue (although Rob Hume the finder was not aware of this statement at the time) a Ring-billed Gull was discovered at Black Pill on 14 March and remained until the end of the month. Prompted both by the article and the discovery, birdwatchers began to pay more attention to flocks of gulls and it was perhaps no surprise that, three months after the initial discovery, a second bird was discovered at the same locality. Since then, coinciding with an increase in population and an extension of breeding range in North America, Ring-billed Gulls now regularly occur, mostly in Ireland, south-west England and southern Wales. Throughout winter, the Black Pill Wildlife Centre is ideally placed for seeking the latest bird news.
For a complete contrast, head for Clyne Gardens, now owned by the University of Swansea. A previous owner, Admiral Algernon Walkerheneage-vivian, had the flower beds marked out as the battles in which he had fought.