For most people the RSPB is synonymous with birds, but in fact they only make up around 20 percent of the wildlife found on our reserves.
And this time of year is a great time to go out and discover everything else on offer at Newport Wetlands.
Many orchids are now out in full flower, providing a brilliant splash of colour throughout the reserve. These include pyramidal, southern marsh and common spotted orchids. The rare bee orchid has also been spotted on the reserve in the past couple of years so fingers crossed it will re-appear this year.
Being a wetlands reserve there are also plenty of dragonflies and damselflies. Recent sightings include hairy dragonfly, broad bodied chaser, blue tailed damselfly and emerald dragonfly and as these insects are the food of choice for hobbies, these small but perfectly formed falcons can often be seen over the lagoons.
Another much-talked about insect is the shrill carder bee. This once common species has declined dramatically since the 1970s and South Wales is now one of only a handful of populations left in the UK. Fortunately it can often be seen at Newport Wetlands at this time of year and sightings are already coming in.
But the best sightings have come courtesy of a juvenile marsh harrier. This bird of prey is always impressive but the swooping displays over the environs outside the Visitor Centre have had us all standing at the window with binoculars glued to our eyes!
It’s been a bit of a bonanza of bird sightings here at Newport Wetlands over the past couple of weeks.
From great sightings of rare migrants passing through to the first sightings of our summer visitors arriving, the long holiday has provided a great opportunity to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Birds of prey have been putting on a great show over the reedbeds with some amazing views of marsh harrier almost every day. A peregrine put in an appearance Sunday 24th April, Tuesday 25th April and Sunday 1st May. Sunday 1st also turned up a rare sighting of an osprey flying north-west across the reedbeds, probably a late migrant returning from Africa for the breeding season.
And our first hobby sightings of the season have been made. This summer migrant was first spotted over Newport Wetlands on Monday 25th April and since Sunday 1st May sightings have been made everyday including two of these small raptors seen today. The best sightings have been over the lagoons as they hunt for early dragonflies and damselflies and hopefully they will continue to put on a good show over the next few months.
Other sightings of note include grasshopper warbler now seen several times, a ruff on the more eastern side of the reserve and plenty of sightings of that true sign of spring, the cuckoo.
But the stars of the show were undoubtedly the two wood sandpipers who very thoughtfully decided to spend an afternoon resting and feeding on the scrape directly outside the Visitor Centre, most likely en route to a breeding ground in Scotland. This medium-sized wader winters in Africa and breeds in northern Europe – Scotland is it’s only known breeding ground in the UK.
And if you want to make the most of the wildlife but don’t have a pair of binoculars or want to upgrade then just pop into the Visitor Centre shop where all Viking MD binoculars are now reduced to just £199.