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.
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!
It’s a slightly different blog this week; however the aim is to try and help you find the perfect pair of binoculars or telescope to search for the birds and wildlife that we talk about in this blog every week. Don’t worry though, the sightings list is still at the bottom of the blog as usual!
This Saturday and Sunday (13/14 December) we are holding a Binocular and Telescope Open Weekend. Drop in any time between 10am and 4pm to get some hands on advice about binoculars and telescopes. The location of the event is weather dependent so if you come to the visitor centre our friendly members of staff will point you in the right direction. Wherever it takes place, it is a great opportunity to trial some binoculars in a natural environment. Whether you’re looking for yourself, or hoping to find a perfect gift for your wildlife-loving family or friends, pop in and have a go. Binoculars are an essential item for any bird or wildlife watcher, whether it’s for use in the garden, out on a walk, or for the more advanced birder. We have a great range to choose from, and to suit all budgets.
If you’re on the lookout for other Christmas gifts, we have some fantastic ideas for you in the shop here at Newport Wetlands. How about a wildlife camera – get all Springwatch in your own garden! We have plenty of practical wildlife friendly gifts like nestboxes and bug hotels, as well as a great range of wildlife themed goodies for the home and garden.
And finally, remember to feed your garden birds over the winter, especially as it’s forecast to be a cold one so the birds will be heavily reliant on whatever treats you provide. We have high energy nibbles, suet balls, mealworms as well as seed and peanuts.
By the way – there’s 20% off selected 12.75kg sacks of bird food from Thursday 11th to Monday 15th December. Perfect opportunity to stock up!
Robin by Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)
In wildlife sightings news, there’s been plenty to see including 8 bearded tits spotted together on Wednesday. There have been regular sightings of a Merlin down at Goldcliff lagoons, and the Marsh harrier has been a common sight over the Uskmouth reedbeds. The starlings are still here too, with at least 80,000 seen last night, although they have been more fragmented into smaller groups. They have still been doing some fantastic aerial displays, above reedbeds 8, 10 and 11.
Full sightings list December 2 to 8
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey wagtail, House sparrow, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Merlin, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Ringed plover, Robin, Shoveler, Siskin, Skylark, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted redshank, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Wigeon, Wren. Rabbit.
Starling murmuration madness
November has gone and what a fantastic month for starlings! If you’ve not had chance to marvel at one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, time is running out so stop what you are doing and come to Newport Wetlands, at about 3:30pm of course. Last year was good, we witnessed murmurations of up to 30,000 strong and don’t get me wrong, 30,000 is an incredible thing to behold but this November, on a good day we have seen somewhere in the region of 100 to 120 thousand starlings. At the beginning of November the murmuration was taking place near the visitor centre and they were roosting on reedbed 8, which is the one on the left of the path out to the lighthouse. At this point they are gathering nearer to the copse where the hide is and roosting on reedbed 11 beyond the copse. As December progresses the numbers of starings will reduce and we expect them to have all moved on by January. So like I said, get down to the Wetlands and pick up a Starling Survey sheet for a bit of fun and something serious as well.
Starling murmuration by David Kjaer (rspb-images.com)
Full sightings list November 26 to December 1
Bar-tailed godwit, Bearded tit, Black headed gull, Blackbird, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Golden plover, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greater black-backed gull, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey heron, Herring gull, House sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Merlin, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pintail, Raven, Redpoll, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted redshank, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Treecreeper, Tufted duck, Water rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Mammals and believe it or not, butterflies and dragonflies
Bank vole, Otter, Peacock butterfly, Rabbit, Red admiral, Ruddy darter.