It just goes to show that when people visit Welsh Reserves they are sometimes so inspired by what they see they land up fighting the cause for nature in the most unexpected places in the most unexpected ways!
This is what happened to young Niamh Stewart , a 12 year old girl from Dubai, who after visiting the RSPB Conwy Reserve this summer has decided to try and raise £250 by taking part in the United Arab Emirates 5k Color Run on the 14th December.
Niamh said that she was inspired when she " visited the Reserve and was amazed at the wild birds I saw and how the sanctuary has been built to protect the birds and keep them safe".
The Color Run was founded in January of 2012 as an event to promote healthiness and happiness by bringing the community together to participate in the “Happiest 5k on the Planet”. basically the run is a fun un-timed race in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colours at each kilometer. With only two rules...Wear white at the starting line and Finish plastered in colour!
Niamh has raised £200 so far, so to get her over the finishing line of £250 and donate ckeck out her Just giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/Niamh-Stewart.
If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you would have heard me use the word “near mythicals” quite a lot.
What are “near mythicals”?
Well first of all you won’t find the term in any birding book. It is a phrase me and my good birding friend Nigel coined, and we have spread its use across the Newport Wetland message board.
“Near mythicals” are the birds that you know exist as you’ve seen photos of them taken by other people, but you never quite see them. They are not necessarily rare birds; they can be as common as the Wren. A good example of one of the most common birds in the UK, but how often do you actually see one, and when you do, how fleeting is your view? You quite often hear their explosive call coming from a shrub or bramble patch, but all you see is a shape moving around in the undergrowth, indeed their Latin name literally means “hole dweller”.
My own personal “near mythicals” are of course Bearded Tits. I have been visiting Newport Wetlands for about four or five years now. Although I see them more regularly, having learnt to ID them in flight a little better, I can still count on one hand the number I have seen in picture perfect pose on a reed stem. Someone at RSPB HQ, The Lodge, clearly has a sense of humour as the last edition of Birds magazine had a picture to die for on the cover, of a Bearded Tit dipping into water. My membership card this year also has a picture of a Bearded Tit on it.
I have other “near mythicals”. I would love to see a Crossbill. It is missing off my life list. I once stood in a car park at Gibraltar Point looking into the branches of the pine trees there until my neck hurt. These wonderful birds have one of the most adaptive bills in the British Isles. It is crossed so it can remove the seeds from pine cones easily. I am told one of the best ways to get a heads up that they may be feeding hidden in the tops of the trees is to watch for the seed kernels dropping from high above. Eventually someone wandered up to me in that car park and told me they were there half an hour ago. That is another sign of a true “near mythical”.
“Near mythicals” can change from year to year. The Green Woodpecker eluded me a couple of years back. It ended up being the last bird ticked on my 2011 list, ironically at the Lodge in Sandy. It was one of the first last year, when one obligingly flew down in front of me whilst getting the new year list off to a start at Newport Wetlands. Until recently Spoonbills were eluding me by a couple of days everywhere I visited. We tracked them down on the East coast of England!
2014 is going to be the year of the Hawfinch for me. I have never ever seen this most stunning of the finches. I know the Forest Of Dean is a good place to find them, and I also have a visit to North Wales pencilled in. Hopefully in the not too distant future I will be bringing you a blog regaling my first sighting of this bird!
You see “near mythicals” don’t have to stay “near mythicals” for ever. If you are willing to get up early, and put the time in you can be rewarded with some incredible views of these elusive birds. One such example of this is another Newport Wetlands birder, and friend of mine, John. He made it his mission to get those definitive photos of the Bearded Tits. He was down in the reed beds at the crack of dawn as often as he could. I bumped into him a few times on the days I managed to get up early. The Bearded Tits had left several minutes before my arrival in case you are wondering. It had become a real labour of love. The result was the magical piece of film he produced that is attached to the end of this blog. There is no better example of what you put in you can get back out! I hope you enjoy it, and get to see some of your own “near mythicals” soon!
All Images © Anthony Walton
This week saw the launch of the British Trust for Ornithology, Bird Atlas 2007 – 2011. The Atlas presents 19 million records taken by over 40,000 volunteers across Britain and Ireland. Every species covered by the atlas has a story to tell and the findings show there have been many swings in fortunes over this period.
The Atlas shows that farmland birds and upland birds have not fared so well and are showing shifting ranges and declining numbers.
Despite being one of the most exciting publications in the conservation world, the Bird Atlas, like the State of Nature report sadly confirms the harsh reality that our much-loved wildlife is struggling to maintain a foothold in our countryside.
To address these declines RSPB Cymru is campaigning to secure a countryside richer in nature and is calling on all its supporters to take action.
In January, the Welsh Government will be carrying out a review of Glastir. This agri-environment scheme is one of the most powerful tools we can use to protect and support our countryside wildlife. Up to £80 million of public money is paid to farmers and landowners in Wales through Glastir to manage the countryside in a way that protects and restores farmland and countryside wildlife.
Tell the Welsh Government to secure a countryside richer in nature today.
Glastir pays farmers to carry out work on their land that will benefit wildlife, such as managing hedgerows, creating and maintaining ponds, and planting crops to provide food for birds through the winter. The work paid for through Glastir can ensure, despite drastic declines, priority species including lapwing, chough and water voles can still be found in our countryside.
If we want future generations to have access to a Welsh countryside rich in nature, where once common birds such as curlew and lapwing once again thrive, then it is vital that Glastir is sufficiently funded. Moreover, the scheme must be designed to provide all the requirements a species needs including feeding and breeding areas.
RSPB Cymru believes its right that everyone has their say on how this £80m of public money is used to benefit the people, environment and wildlife of Wales. Have your say today.