Birds of a feather flock together
Last week we waited in hope for another surprise arrival of a rare bird like the penduline tit of last year, but alas it was not to be. However, who knows what is around the corner? Newport Wetlands is a perfect habitat for reed dwelling wildlife so we are more than happy with what is already here. That is why this week I will give a mention to the wildlife that is being seen on a daily basis. This morning, Perry Lane was awash with sounds and movement. A flock of about six to eight long-tailed tits, dozens of redwing, robins, blackbirds and a great tit with a worm in its mouth. The glide of a female marsh harrier across towards the power station was also a nice welcome to work.
Something that visitors have noticed is that many of the tits, thrush, and finches are flocking together. It is common for birds to do this during winter as they prowl the countryside in search of food. It is nice to see various different species at once, it saves time and effort. Other notable birds this week that are not part of the usual suspects are treecreeper, coal tit and siskin. More commonly associated with woodland areas, they too will travel further to find food as winter draws in.
And something that we have all been waiting for...proof of the otters! There have been many sightings over the past few weeks but a photo has evaded us. However, here is a photo taken by John Marsh at Newport Wetlands on Saturday 15th November.
Otters Lutra lutra at Newport Wetlands by John Marsh
Full Wildlife Sightings list 12 to 17 November 2014
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Coal tit, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Hen harrier, Herring gull, House sparrow, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little owl, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Treecreeper, Tufted duck, Water rail, Whimbrel, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Otter, Red admiral, Stoat, Weasel.
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!
Just over a year ago we had a very special visitor to the reserve: the Penduline Tit. Spotted by Rob de Borde and identified by our very own Mathew Meehan, the stunning bird was present here by the visitor centre from 7th to 9th November 2013, and caused quite a stir! Although widespread throughout mainland Europe, it is still a rare sight in the UK. Coincidentally, a Penduline tit was spotted at Frampton on Severn near Gloucester last week on the 7th November, exactly a year after one was seen here!
Penduline Tit by Mathew Meehan, 7/11/14
Unfortunately we haven’t had anything quite so exciting recently; however the starlings have been extremely entertaining so that more than makes up for it in my eyes. We estimate there are around 80,000 starlings most evenings on the reserve, and they have started to perform wonderfully, dancing around the sky in an incredible display before settling into the reedbeds for the night.
It’s getting dark earlier now, so if you want to see the murmuration make sure you arrive by 3.30pm and hopefully the starlings will give a nice display over the next hour. You can also pick up a cup of soup (£2 for RSPB members, £2.50 non members) to take out with you between 3.30 and 4pm throughout November. Just the thing for a chilly evening!
In other news, a Little owl has been spotted back in the old little owl tree! It's been a while since they've been seen there so that's brilliant.
Sightings to 11 November
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey plover, Hen harrier, House sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little owl, Long tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Ringed plover, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock dove, Stonechat, Teal, Tufted duck, Turnstone, Water rail, Wigeon, Wood pigeon, Wren.
You may be surprised to hear that there are still summer migrants at Newport Wetlands. Well, one in particular has been seen quite regularly recently. Swallows are one of many birds that migrate to Africa every autumn to spend the winter in warmer climbs after spending the summer in Britain breeding. By now they should have almost all gone but it is actually one of the few times you can see Swallows and Redwings together in the UK.
The answer to the title question varies. Swifts seem to leave slightly earlier than others and although there will be a few sightings later, they are generally gone during August and by early September. There is rarely a time you will see swifts past September. However, for other birds like swallows, there doesn't seem to be as much urgency to leave. But what are the reasons for this? Could it be weather related or the availability of food? Considering it has been one of the warmest Halloweens on record and it is due to be one of the coldest bonfire nights on record, is it a sign of the changing climate and are we likely to see more erratic bird movements in the future?
Swallow Hirundo rustica, two adults in flight by Richard Bedford (rspb-images.com)
Wildlife Sightings October 28 to November 3
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Bulfinch, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greater black-backed gull, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey heron, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Merlin, Moorhen, Mute swan, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pochard, Redpoll, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Rock pipit, Ruff, Shoveler, Siskin, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Mammals, insects and slimy things
Clouded yellow, Comma butterfly, Common darter, Common newt, Ground beetle, Millipede, Otter, Red admiral, Slug, Spider.