It’s been a very exciting week! A pair of Snipe has been seen on a daily basis wandering around the scrape. This is a surprising sight, given that it’s such a secretive species. Let’s hope they turn out to be a breeding pair that will set up home here.
Some interesting facts about the Snipe: they have a zig-zag flight and they rely heavily on their ‘cryptic’ camouflage to avoid trouble. Unlike other waders they do not form large flocks and instead travel in loose flocks called ‘wisps’. When they display over breeding grounds they make a strange whirring sound called ‘drumming’ using their stiff tail feathers! This sound is similar to the bleating of a sheep or goat; resulting in the nickname of ‘flying goat’ and ‘heaven's ram,’ or if you happen to be Finnish, the name taivaanvuohi, ‘sky goat.’
Another highlight of the week has been the increasing numbers of starlings seen roosting here at dusk. Over the past few days more than 10,000 birds have been virtually dancing overhead before overnighting in the southern reedbed near the visitor centre. The sound of them descending into the reedbed is like waves gently lapping onto shore at the seaside. After a few nights in the same roost the reeds begin to sag from the collective weight of the flock, so they will then move onto a new roost.
Snipe (Gallinago Gallinago) by Andy Hall (rspb-images.com)
Recent bird sightings 28 Oct to 3 Nov
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Brambling, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal tit, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greater black-backed gull, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Herring gull, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pintail, Pochard, Raven, Red kite, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Ringed plover, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrow hawk, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon and Wren.
Common darter, Migrant hawker, Red admiral, Small tortoiseshell and Ruddy darter.
Please note that we take our recent sightings list from the visitor sightings board that anyone can contribute to. This is great as everyone can get involved, but obviously can lead to potential errors too as they aren’t always verified! We try to keep this list as accurate as possible but if you see something unusual feel free to comment here!
This week has been full of surprises as we’ve been enjoying some balmy weather as well as some unexpected but very welcome visitors! Going on an autumn ramble this week revealed a feast of great sightings, starting on the ‘wetlands experience’ footpath that runs towards the power station. In the copse there were flocks of blue tits, great tits, coal tits and long-tailed tits, all clamouring to stock up on food before the really cold weather sets in. Amongst these were two little gems, the goldcrest and treecreeper. Treecreepers breed in the UK and are resident here. They leave their breeding territories in autumn but most range no further than 20 km away. The goldcrest, the smallest of our uk garden birds, can easily be mistaken for the much rarer firecrest. Coincidentally, this amber status bird was also recorded earlier in the week by the Goldcliff ringers.
Goldcrest by Ben Andrew
Taking a detour down the sculpture trail led to the biggest surprise of the day, as a bittern was spotted in-flight heading towards reedbed 5. It remains to be seen if he was just popping in for a quick look enroute to more established bittern over-wintering grounds, or whether he will stay for the season and start booming in spring. Continuing along the footpath past the saltmarsh revealed a gathering of stonechats sitting on the tips of the reeds, bobbing up and down and flicking their wings. In the distance a startled water rail let rip with a pig like scream to warn off an intruder!
Further along the coastal path, looking onto the mudflats with reedbed 10 behind, were massive flocks of shelduck and wigeon, whistling that winter is just around the corner. Interspersed amongst the ducks were lapwing and snipe. Then out of the blue there was a lot of squawking and a kerfuffle as a gull bravely chased off a merlin who was on the hunt for a small snack.
Wigeon by John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
The stroll was finished off nicely at the open hide to the side of reedbed 8. Unlike the relatively empty lagoon in front of the closed hide, this waterway was jam packed with a variety of shelduck, wigeon, pochard and gadwall. All in all a magical day!
Knowing where and when to look for birds on the reserve can make your visit a lot more satisfying. We are running a Birdwatching for Beginners workshop on Sunday 29th November for anyone wishing to hone their bird ID skills. See here for more details: http://ow.ly/TFCie
Recent bird sightings 14 Oct to 20 Oct
Bearded tit, Bittern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal tit, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Firecrest, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser redpoll, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Merlin, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Pheasant, Pintail, Pochard, Raven, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Rook, Ruff, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted redshank, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Teal, Treecreeper, Tufted duck, Water rail, Whooper swan, Wigeon, Woodpigeon and Wren.
Red admiral, Emperor dragonfly, Black darter, Rabbit and Weasel.
All barred one
The end of summer and beginning of autumn sees the bird life at the reserve start to wind down after a lot of hard graft raising little ones and the crisp mornings give rise to a few peaceful stonechats and the occasional reed bunting on the feeders. But just when you think everything is quiet, along come a couple of rares to stir up a bit of interest. I’m talking about two particular species of bird that have added a bit of excitement to what has been an otherwise slow period at Newport Wetlands.
On Sunday 27 September, two cattle egrets were seen at Goldcliff pools in the morning and continued to hang around until the next day until they had seen enough and headed over to Kenfig until the beginning of October.
Little egret by Steve Arlow for comparison
The second of the two particular species was a little beauty that inspired the slightly comical/slightly desperate title and was spotted on the Farmfield Lane area of the reserve on Saturday 3 October. A lovely little barred warbler flitted around for the morning but I don’t think it was seen since. Barred warblers are normally a Western Palearctic bird, covering areas of Eastern Europe and Western and central Asia, so to see one at Newport Wetlands was quite unusual.
Barred warbler by Alex Penn
Not long until Newport Wetlands is thriving with life again and the arrival of whooper swans at Goldcliff today (Thursday 15 Oct) is a sign that the winter birds are coming. Over wintering ducks will increase in number and the wigeon, pochard and gadwall have started to congregate on the lagoon of reedbed 8. Soon the hedges will be bustling with fieldfares, redwings and starlings feasting on the remaining berries and hopefully you will join us to see the wonderful starling murmurations during our new event, Soup and Starlings on Wednesdays and Saturdays during November. More info here: http://ow.ly/TreuX
Full sightings list 30/09/2015 to 13/10/2015
Avocet, Barred warbler, Bearded tit, Black headed gull, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common tern, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goshawk, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greater black-backed gull, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey plover, Herring gull, Hobby, House martin, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser redpoll, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little stint, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pochard, Raven, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Ruff, Sanderling, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted redshank, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Whinchat, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren.
A few mammals and a fish
Rabbit, Weasel, Nathusius pipistrelle bat, Rudd