Birds at Cwm Ivy

Cwm Ivy marsh and bird hide on the Gower

Since the sea wall was breached, Cwm Ivy has undergone a radical change, adapting to the new saline conditions. The daily tides bring in a host of fresh nutrients, fish and invertebrates with it, providing a veritable feast for a range of bills.

The bright white plumage of egrets and their larger cousins, the herons make them the most noticeable species. They can be spotted on a daily basis, you often see them bent over a shallow pool patiently looking for fish trapped by the receding tide.

If you’re lucky you may even see the dazzling flash of electric blue as kingfishers dart past or dive in for prey. They prefer slow moving water where they hunt for fish and aquatic insects.

Lapwing can be seen here throughout the year, listen out for their distinctive peewit sounding calls. They also breed here in small numbers and lay their eggs on the ground around the outskirts of the marsh.

Lapwing chick
Lapwing chick at Cwm Ivy, Gower

Winter brings a new flock of inhabitants

Gregarious and noisy starlings can be seen sweeping through the skies and picking at the ground.

Look out for the curved bill of the curlew probing the marsh for worms, shellfish and shrimps

The star of the winter show – hen harriers. These are by far the rarest bird of prey in the UK and are red listed species. Like the curlew, they spend their summers in the uplands breeding and seek refuge in the lowlands during winter months. They can often be spotted hunting on the marsh. Males are a pale grey with black tipped wings while females and juveniles are brown, with black tipped wings and a white tail. 

Hen Harrier
A hen harrier in flight

What about the future?

On paper, Cwm Ivy is ideal osprey habitat. A couple of birds have been spotted calling in on their annual migration back to Africa. A nesting platform has been installed to see if we can tempt them here to breed. The nearest breeding pair are in Aberdovey and juveniles from there will be looking for nesting sites in the future, so, watch this space and please let us know if you spot any here.