Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 22/08/2012

A bird with an identity crisis**




Swan Goose, originally uploaded by http://andrewskelton.net.

I’m jumping around a little with the photos I’m posting, not that you’d know Dear Reader, but for once the words will actually match the photo – mind you, yesterdays’ did – even if it were a little dry, as I explained the techniques I use when taking and creating panoramic photos. Was it any use? Did you learn anything? Do you feel inspired to go out and try it for yourself? Any one of those three and I’ll be pleased, any more and I’ll be .. well, very pleased! (I’m British, we’re not that demonstrative!).

The images uploaded to flickr today*, and featured on the blog, were taken at the Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust’s Llanelli/Swansea Centre. I thought I was aware of all the WWT sites, even if I’d not been to all of them, but for some reason this Welsh nature reserve had evaded my attentions until our holiday there recently. It took us just under two hours to negotiate the narrow winding roads from our holiday near Rhayader to Llanelli, stopping on the way in a gorgeous little village for some much needed refreshment. We’ve happened upon such quaint country idylls before, when out and about on photographic adventures, but often forgotten exactly where they were, happening upon them by accident but I’ve found another app on my phone, Footsteps, that will help resolve this issue. It allows you to take a photo, then uses the GPS function of the phone to locate the spot on Google Maps for future reference which we will be referencing this stop-over in future.

I’ll also be using the Footstep reference to visit the Welsh WWT centre again, not that I’ll need it as it’s marked on the Ordnance Survey map book. Walking through the entrance, we showed our membership cards at the welcome desk and were allowed through into the main building. One feature that all the centres have, that we’ve visited so far that is, is a long wall of glass (or lots or large sheets of glass all together) that overlooks an area of water allowing visitors uninterrupted views of ducks, geese, swans or any other wildlife going about their business unconcerned about the close proximity of humans. The one at Llanelli was particularly impressive as, whilst it may not have the double height panels that Barnes uses in its large observatory, it seems to go on for ever and ever, with glass pane after glass pane, and every ten feet or so large bare tree trunks used to support the roof, whose strong deep ochre varnished surfaces seemed to glow in the sunlight (it was sunny at this point!). Walking out on to the “Wild Side” (each centre has a series of ponds where rare and endangered wild fowl are kept, as well as areas for wild birds to inhabit) a rugged footpath lead us to an equally impressive observatory looking over a lagoon around who’s edge reed beds run, providing cover, homes and food for the various visitors. Within 5 minutes we’d seen a good number of species when the highlight of the morning’s spotting flew in and then flew straight out, about 40 feet away the unmistakable vivid flash of a kingfisher as it momentarily drew it’s breath on a conveniently positions post in the water. What a great start to the day, but that wasn’t the highlight on the trip, over on the other side of the reserve from a large hide overlooking two large areas of water, and keeping company with around a dozen Little Egret was a solitary Spoonbill. Difficult to ID at first as it had it’s beak tucked under it’s wing, as soon as it started to preen there was no mistaking what type of bird it was even for the uninitiated, and there were a number who were amazed when they saw it.

* Look over to the right of the page, the panel labelled “Recent Flickr Uploads”; you should see yesterday’s and today’s uploads.

* Is it a Goose? Is it a Swan? It’s a Swan Goose!

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