Eagle-eyed visitors – and staff members – have had a lucky few days, with not one but at least two unusual sightings.
The UK’s rarest breeding duck was spotted near Uskmouth Power Station on Saturday. Scaup are wintering diving ducks and usually associate with tufted ducks and pochard. This one was no exception, mixing in with tufted ducks, coots, pochard and gadwall. Around 10,000 spend the winter in the UK but only between one and five breed here, making it a red-listed species.
Next up was a water pipit, seen on Monday by a member of staff down on the foreshore. This bird is similar to rock pipit and meadow pipit, but unlike these other birds it does not breed in the UK and only around 100 birds winter in Britain. A sighting in South Wales was a real treat because water pipits are usually only found in eastern and southern England.
There was also a suspected sighting of a ring ouzel by another member of staff on Monday. A recent population decline means they are now red-listed. This along with the fact they usually do not arrive in Britain until March makes it a slightly unusual spot.
If you want to give yourself the best chance to see these species and many more, don’t forget to come to our optics demonstration between 10am and 4pm on Sunday and check out our range of binoculars and scopes.
If you’ve not yet been for a New Year’s walk, now is the time to come down to Newport Wetlands.
With temperatures reaching a positively balmy 12C and plenty to see out on the reserve, there’s every reason to venture out into the fresh air and spend a couple of hours meandering through the reedbeds.
Marsh harrier has been seen almost every day throughout the last two weeks, even putting in an appearance over the environs around the Visitor Centre. Keep an eye out when walking along the sea wall as they can be seen patrolling the coastline as well as gliding over the reedbeds.
There was also a sighting of the UK’s most intensely persecuted bird of prey on Friday – the hen harrier. This red-listed bird tends to live in open areas with low vegetation and its effect on the number of grouse available to shoot has caused conflict and threatens its survival in some parts of the UK.
After a few weeks with no known sightings, a kingfisher was seen on Thursday and Friday and a green woodpecker was also spotted on Thursday.
The rare goldeneye, wintering pintail and charismatic barn owl have also all been seen on the reserve in the last couple of weeks.
And just in case that still wasn’t enough to entice you, why not have a browse through our half-price sale in the shop and treat yourself to a hot chocolate and toasted teacake in the coffee shop?