Bird Watching (UK)


Easy access at a superb viewpoint for a massive estuary


For just over a century until 1948 the harbour, now a fine haven for small boat owners and a vantage point for birdwatche­rs, was a commercial port. While other features from the industrial past have largely vanished, the appropriat­ely named Ashpits Pond is a further reminder of those days. Eastwards the Burry Inlet stretches seven miles to the Llanelli Wetlands Centre and the Loughor Estuary. Immediatel­y to the west is Pembrey Burrows, beyond which are the broad waters of Carmarthen Bay, graveyard of many fine ships, while to the south the hills of the Gower Peninsula seem to beckon attention whatever the season.



Where better to start than at the end of the breakwater, though it’s essential to check the tide tables before leaving home, otherwise Llanridian Sands at low water seems to stretch all the way to Gower. This snug viewpoint a couple of hours before high tide is ideal, with Oystercatc­hers always present.


Overlook a study of the harbour gull flock at your peril. Mediterran­ean Gulls, now described as an increasing­ly common resident at coastal sites in the county, are very likely, sometimes in two figures. Black Redstarts winter hereabouts while a Kingfisher, even briefly viewed, always brings that special excitement to the day, as do Wheatears on passage from early March.

3 Pembrey Harbour and the coast thereabout­s provide a further vantage point for the Burry Inlet, where nationally important numbers of Sanderling winter. Indeed, some are present in most months of the year. Other waders include Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and Redshank.


The saltings and dunes may play host to wintering Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls, while Great Northern Divers and Great Crested Grebes offshore should grace the observer’s telescope. Stormy weather can bring Gannets and Manx Shearwater­s.


Ashpit Ponds, a complete contrast to the delights of the Burry Inlet, is always worth a visit Water Rails announce their presence during the winter months while Cetti’s Warblers are resident. Great Crested and Little Grebes have nested here.

● Garganey

● Black-tailed Godwit

● Common Sandpiper

● Little Ringed Plover

● Turnstone

● Sanderling

● Little Gull

● Terns

● Skuas

● Reed Warbler

● Sedge Warbler

● Grasshoppe­r Warbler

● Corn Bunting


● Manx Shearwater

● Balearic Shearwater

● Terns


● Golden Plover

● Green Sandpiper

● Merlin

● Short-eared Owl

● Wryneck

● Yellow-browed Warbler

● Black Redstart


● Red-throated Diver

● Auks

● Gulls

● Glaucous Gull

● Iceland Gull

● Jack Snipe

● Teal

● Tufted Duck

● Firecrest

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