BLACK PILL

No other place in Wales boasts so many rare gulls

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - DAVID SAUN­DERS

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.

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