Today sees the launch of Newport Wetlands’ first photography competition.
The theme is ‘Winter Wonderland’ and if the last two winters are anything to go by, we should see some cracking photos as a result!
The competition will run from now until the end of February, giving you plenty of time to get the perfect picture and a selection of the best photographs will be exhibited in the Visitor Centre during spring. There will be prizes for the winner and two runners-up – just in case you needed an incentive!
Your photograph can encompass anything related to nature, from bugs to birds, flora to fauna as long as it’s captured at its wintry best. Please only enter one photograph per person, but if you enter a photograph and then later would like to replace it with another one please contact us via the details below.
The photograph should be printed in size A4 or as close to this size as possible and please make sure your name, address and contact number are written on the back of the photograph – we want to be able to let you know if you win!
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Visitor Centre on 01633 636363.
So it’s that time of year again, when we’re able to enjoy one of Britain’s most beautiful natural spectacles.
Starlings can be seen in the UK all year round, often in noisy groups bullying the smaller birds away from your garden feeders. But during autumn and winter their numbers are boosted substantially by birds from Scandinavia and Russia, which come south after breeding and the resulting aerial displays are often absolutely breathtaking.
Throughout the year starlings feed in groups in the day and form large roosts in the evening and it is these roosts at this time of year, which produce the show.
Tens of thousands of birds flock together and perform a display known as a murmuration, dashing back and forth at break-neck speed, splitting off into two or three groups and before swarming together again in what looks like some great aerial ballroom dance that only they know the moves to.
Before the murmuration begins you can often see smaller groups gathering on the pylons over the reedbeds and small flocks will come dashing over your head from a day’s feeding as they go to join the ever-expanding group. Starlings are known to feed up to 40-miles-away from where they roost, so if you live in the greater Gwent area and see starlings at home, they could well come to roost at Newport Wetlands.
Estimates from earlier this week put the number of starlings roosting in our reedbeds at around 30,000 and they are displaying in the same place as last year. If you go up onto the reserve, turn left at the crossroads and walk along to the pylons you should get a good view, and if you prefer to keep to the warmth of the Visitor Centre they are often visible from their too.
But don’t forget that as with all nature, nothing is predictable. Starlings do sometimes go into roost without displaying, or they may only display for a very short time. For the best chance of seeing the murmuration, arrive just before dusk, at about 3.45pm and ask at reception for directions on where best to view them from or give us a call on 01633 636363.