The Kenfig Saltmarsh is a fairly remote birding location in Glamorgan, yet still receives good coverage by David Carrington, Darren Coombs, Neil Donaghy and a number of other birders. However, to some, the location is a bit of a mystery. There are number of ways to access it, but if unfamiliar with the location then head to where the Wales Coastal Path crosses the Kenfig River.
The open water and reedbed make it good for wildfowl throughout the year, but it's not always easy to see them. Indeed, watching the site carefully for a couple of hours can still leave you wondering if you might have missed something! During passage period it's fairly good for waders, though this is often determined by the water levels. This year the water levels seem much more favourable for waders compared to last year when the water levels remained very high throughout the summer and autumn. The last few years have seen Woodchat Shrike and Wryneck in the area but the location is best known for the waterbirds it's attracted, such as Green-winged Teal, Garganeys, Purple Herons, Wood Sandpiper, etc
Wildfowl - are attracted to the open water and reedbed. When the water levels are high there can be good numbers of wildfowl found south of the reedbed and can be viewed fairly safely from the haul road or dunes next to it. Too much disturbance or low water levels generally force the wildfowl into the pools within the reedbed. These pools are only viewable from the edge of Morfa Tip. Birds such as the recent Garganeys are often fairly mobile and can be seen flying between the different areas of open water within the reedbed, and also to or from the open water south of the main reedbed. If going down to see a bird like a Garganey or Green-winged Teal it's best to expect a wait of an hour or two, checking all the open water areas, before the bird appears.
Waders - from this area, in my experience, are only found in the area south of the main reedbed and generally only when the water levels have dropped enough to expose some muddy edges. This area is often referred to as the 'scrape', although my understanding is that the area has developed naturally, perhaps aided by the cows periodically visiting the area to drink and graze. The cows often flush everything from the 'scrape' when they use it and that has often forced the more uncommon species away completely. However, in the last few years a number of really nice scrapes have been created in the dunes nearby and if they retain water over the summer months it might encourage more passage waders to stick around longer than in previous years.
If visiting the area and you see a bird that has already been reported or find a decent bird then please make a note of where the bird was seen. The boundary between East Glam and West Glam runs through 'Kenfig saltmarsh', and it's really helpful for David Gilmore and myself to know which area the bird was seen in. Often, particularly for wildfowl, a sighting might involve a bird visiting both recording areas; informing us of that will be most appreciated and helpful.
I've heard a few predictions for this year at Kenfig Saltmarsh including Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Spotted Crake and Black-winged Stilt. Hopefully one or more of those will come true in addition to the completely unexpected species! To finish I should mention that the location is home to a number of breeding species of birds, and other wildlife, that are susceptible to disturbance and so I would ask that no-one enters scrape or reedbed. The birds that turn up here are invariable easy to see by watching the area from a safe distance.