It’s been a busy few weeks here at the Wetlands recently, and we’ve been a bit behind on getting the weekly sightings up so apologies for that! To make up for it, here’s a nice long blog with lots of interesting sightings from the past week or so. I’ve even included a couple of graphs! Wow.
Short-eared owl has been seen a few times over the past week, including 2 individuals on Wednesday afternoon that flew from just below the sea wall out along the mudflats, and then one dropped down onto the saltmarsh.
The female Marsh harrier has been fairly active too up on the reedbeds, especially early morning around 9am. We managed to glimpse it through the fog this very morning in fact, which was great since there weren’t many other birds to see out on the frozen lagoons!
Frozen Lagoons by Lisa Robinson
One of the wardens had a great morning on Tuesday this week, spotting a Merlin, a Woodcock, and a Hen harrier on the far side of the copse. A ringtail Hen harrier was also seen today on the mudflats.
The otters have been about again as well. Have a look on this forum post for the info and some photos too (Thanks John!).
We’ve had a few different birds on the scrape and around the visitor centre recently too. Stonechats have been all over the reserve, but have been spotted on the reeds outside the cafe and even on the floor by the feeders on one occasion. Another surprise sighting was a single Bearded tit that Mathew heard pinging outside the office window on Monday morning! They do occasionally come down to near the building during winter – whether it’s to get some heat from the building, or looking for food, who knows?
If you’ve visited over the past few months you may have noticed the vegetation at the back of the scrape has been significantly thinned, and the water levels are now being raised. This is with the aim of creating more open wet grassland and shallow or muddy edges to the shoreline to increase attractiveness for some key species, specifically waders. This is already having a great effect, with Water rail being seen (actually seen!!) multiple times, as well as Snipe, and yesterday a beautiful Kingfisher spent the afternoon fishing and posing on one of the handy branches lodged in the scrape.
Another ongoing project one of our volunteers (Malcolm) has been doing is a weekly bird count on Wednesdays around the Uskmouth reedbeds, the environs, and Perry Lane. Although we only have 6 weeks of data (and a 2 week break over Christmas!) I thought you might be interested in a couple of graphs to show the changes in bird numbers over that time. There's one showing various duck species, and one for the common garden birds – I thought it was apt since it’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend as I’m sure you all knew! Get involved!
I know it's quite rudimentary and not exactly the kind of science that Chris Packham would be proud of (anyone else see Winterwatch?), but it's pretty interesting just to see some trends there anyway!
Well, if you've made it this far through the blog, congratulations and thank you!
Sightings 14/01 to 20/01
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey plover, Hen harrier, House sparrow, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Merlin, Moorhen, Mute swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pochard, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Wigeon, Woodcock, Woodpigeon, Wren.
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!
Hello, Happy New Year and welcome to a look back at the year 2014.
The lists below give details of all species seen at Newport Wetlands across the twelve months.
With 150 species of bird and a wealth of butterflies and dragonflies as well as mammals, reptiles and amphibians it has been an exciting year for nature at our lovely reserve.
With such a hefty list to plough through let’s just touch briefly on a few of the highlights.
Storms often lead to fallout of migrating birds and last year brought a visitor from across the water, an American wigeon said hello on the 4th February and said goodbye on the 6th February.
Who can remember the Savi’s warbler? It arrived on Saturday 24th May and left on the 30th. It was a first for Gwent and thanks to the expert skills of Mat Meehan; he identified it and got the message out. During the same period as the Savi’s warbler, another rare one for the reserve, a Golden oriole passed through on the 27th May. A sound recording was captured near the copse behind the hide.
The Bearded tits had a fantastic spring and were happy to show off their babies on the pontoon bridge near the lighthouse, with one photographer capturing 10 in one shot and 10 in another. About 25 were seen that day.
The Emperor moth was another Gwent first. Common cranes have flown though and a Red kite has been seen now and again. The female Marsh harrier is still gliding above the reeds and both male and female Hen harriers have been seen. The summer saw around ten different species of warbler which is a fantastic variety and it would be difficult to match that variety elsewhere in the UK! Swallows, House martins and Sand martins were everywhere in the summer. No Sand martins used our nest boxes but we’re hopeful they will this year. Our elusive otters have been frequently seen in autumn and winter which is nice to see, even if they do frighten the ducks away.
So here’s to a new year of nature. What will be the highlights of the year? We look forward to finding out.
Savi's warbler at Newport Wetlands by Chris Jones
The list below is compiled by a mixture of staff and the public. This is great because it means that everyone can contribute but can lead to potential identification mistakes. Therefore, very rare birds that have been seen by the public but not confirmed by photographic evidence or staff identification may not appear here. Smaller creatures are sometimes even more difficult to identify such as bees, moths etc. so if there is anything you think is potentially incorrect please feel free to talk to us about it in the comments section. At the end of the day, this is a bit of fun so cut us and the public some slack :)
Full list of birds 1st January 2014 to 31st December 2014
American wigeon, Avocet, Bar-headed goose, Bar-tailed godwit, Bearded tit, Bittern, Black redstart, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Brambling, Brent goose, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal tit, Collared dove, Common crane, Common gull, Common sandpiper, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew sandpiper, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Firecrest, Gadwall, Gannet, Garden warbler, Garganey, Goldcrest, Golden oriole, Golden plover, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Grasshopper warbler, Great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Great white egret, Great black-backed gull, Green sandpiper, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey plover, Grey wagtail, Greylag goose, Hen harrier, Herring gull, Hobby, House martin, House sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Lesser redpoll, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little owl, Little ringed plover, Little stint, Long tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Mediterranean gull, Merlin, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Pectoral sandpiper, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pintail, Pochard, Raven, Red kite, Red-legged partridge, Redpoll, Redshank, Redstart, Redwing, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Rock pipit, Rook, Ruff, Sand martin, Sanderling, Savi's warbler, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Short eared owl, Shoveler, Siskin, Skylark, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spoonbill, Spotted flycatcher, Spotted redshank, Starling, Stock dove, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Tree pipit, Tree sparrow, Treecreeper, Tufted duck, Turnstone, Twite, Water pipit, Water rail, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Wood sandpiper, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellow wagtail.
Bank vole, Fox, Mole, Otter, Rabbit, Shrew, Stoat, Vole, Weasel.
Brimstone, Brown argus, Cabbage white, Clouded yellow, Comma, Common blue , Common white, Essex skipper, Gatekeeper, Grayling, Green veined white, Large skipper, Large white, Marbled white, Meadow brown, Orange tip, Painted lady, Peacock, Red admiral, Ringlet, Small copper, Small skipper, Small tortoiseshell, Small white, Speckled wood, Tortoiseshell.
4 spotted chaser, 5 spot burnet, 5-spot narrow bordered burnet, 6 Spot Burnet, Burnet campion, Cinnabar, Emperor, Garden tiger, Latticed heath, Magpie moth, Morning glory plume, Scarlet tiger, Straw dot.
Black tailed skimmer, Broad bodied chaser, Brown hawker, Common darter, Emperor, Four spotted chaser, Hairy dragonfly, Migrant hawker, Red darter, Ruddy darter.
Blue-tailed, Common blue, Large red.
7-spot ladybird, Bloodworm, Buff-tailed bumblebee, Caddis fly, Common carder bee, Cuckoo bumblebee, Dragonfly larvae, Drinker moth caterpillar, Field digger wasp, Froghopper, Garden bumblebee, Garden tiger caterpillar, Grasshopper, Great pond snail, Ground beetle, House spider, Millipede, Peacock caterpillar, Shrill carder bee, Slug, Soldier beetle, Spider, Tree bumblebee, Water boatman, Water scorpion, Water snail, Waterlouse, Whirligig beetle, White tailed bumblebee, Yellow tailed moth caterpillar.
Bee orchid, Common spotted orchid, Dittander, Marsh helleborine, Pyramidal orchid, Southern marsh orchid.
Amphibians and reptiles
Adder, Common frog, Common lizard, Common newt, Common toad, Grass snake, Smooth newt
Mind the Robins
It is the festive period so Season’s Greetings to you all and what better way to open this blog than with a story of one our favourite festive birds, the robin. The cultural significance of birds can shift over time. Today, for example, we tend to associate robins with Christmas cards, a link dating from the mid-1800s, when postmen wore red uniforms and were called ‘robins’. But the first cards featuring robins were actually sent for St Valentine’s Day, and symbolised ‘posties’ delivering love letters. The robin was the choice bird to feature on our very first RSPB charity Christmas cards and since then the robin has been a regular character on Christmas cards and Christmas memorabilia.
Apart from the fascinating history of robins and Christmas cards, if you want to see some robins for real there are many, particularly tame robins near the Visitor Centre at the moment. Next time you come to the reserve, take your time as you walk to the Visitor Centre from the car park and look out for cheeky robins as they approach you to investigate. Some get very close so be careful not to tread on one.
Now for a free plug...our Christmas sale is now on and many items have been reduced significantly including our Christmas cards.
Robin Erithacus rubecula, Perched on a garden hand fork, (rspb-images.org.uk)
Full sightings list December 9th to 15th
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Collared dove, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greenfinch, Grey heron, House sparrow, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Water rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Fox, Grey squirrel, Otter.