A trip out to Whiteford Point at the northwest tip of Gower is a bit of a trek. The walk takes about an hour, but the birding, especially in winter is first class. I stride down to the salt marsh and over the sea wall. To the right, lapwings galore, more than 400 gyrate and call in the shimmering light. Gower ponies watch me pass, and already I’m uplifted as I turn towards the Point still a mile away. Making my way along the edge of the marsh, snipe flush from either side; there’s always the chance of a jack snipe here, but I rarely get lucky.
The salt marsh is alive with wigeon, shelduck, pintail and teal. Little egrets have been scarce since the snow, but several stand out, pure white in the sun. Ever-present redshank are mostly heard, but not seen. The lapwings seem never still and starlings too are continually on the move following the ponies.
I head for Berges Island, poorly named and more of a sand bank. Good intentioned birders put up a hide here at the water’s edge in the late sixties, but didn’t count on the continual movement of the sand. I find only a water rail boldly walking behind the desolate hide and wonder what he’s doing way out here.
The derelict lighthouse at Whiteford Point was the first iron-made one in Britain; old now, it looks as though it’s in danger of falling into the sea. Oystercatchers and turnstones pick around its base, and cormorants perch on its superstructure drying their wings. Offshore, red-throated and great northern divers, great-crested grebes, red-breasted mergansers, common scoters, eiders and several brent geese make the effort of getting out here more than worthwhile.
Sitting high up on top of the sand dunes it’s cold and windy, I watch the threatening white water race out towards the open sea; I’ve seen nobody all morning and feel that I own the place.