A few great sightings over the last week on the reserve, including a Cuckoo on Friday, and Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, and Lesser whitethroat towards the end of the week. Also a Common crane was spotted flying over Goldcliff way twice, which is most likely a release from the Great Crane Project over in Somerset. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if a crane made it’s home at Newport Wetlands?
Common Crane by Nic k Upton (rspb-images.org.uk)
There are already Mallard chicks around, and various other birds are on the nest including the Mute swans and Canada geese which have been seen getting a bit fighty on the reserve.
Every day we've been seeing more and more swallows and martins around here, but none have used the sand martin boxes yet!
Sedge warbler by David Tipling
Also keep your eyes peeled for butterflies when you're out and about as there's lots of different species to spot.
That's all for this week! Remember we've got family activities on all Easter holidays if you're popping down with kids in tow.
Blackcaps, Wheatears and Redstarts.
This morning, if you walked from the car park to the visitor centre you may well have been greeted with the pleasantries of Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla. In fact, one visitor did question the call, saying it was different to the calls he hears at Ham Wall. A variation in regional dialect perhaps?
At 13cm they are slightly smaller than House sparrows and are so called because of their distinctive black head above their eyes. But did you know that the female actually has a chestnut red cap rather than the black colour sported by the male?
Hedgerows and woodland areas of the reserve are the most likely places to see them.
Blackcap male, Roger Tidman (rspb-images.com)
Blackcap female, Tony Hamblin (rspb-images.com)
A summer visitor to our shores is the Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe and at Newport Wetlands they are particularly keen on the tables in the picnic area. Another favourite area of the reserve is the rocks along the foreshore so look out for a bird that is a touch larger than a robin with a grey back, yellow breast with black wings and eye mask with the 'flash' of their white rump as they fly between perching.
Wheatears spend winter in Africa, including the ones that breed in Canada and Greenland (spp. Leucorhoa) therefore are considered among the world’s real long-distance migrants.
Wheatear, Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)
With only two sightings this week it is a bit of a tease but on the topic of Summer visitors, there are currently Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus on site. This majestic species tends to be seen on passage as it makes its way through to its preferred breeding habitat of broad leafed woodland.
Avocets, Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Buzzard, Canada goose, Cetti's Warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey plover, House sparrow, Kestrel, Knot, Lapwing, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Mallard, Meadow pipit, Merlin, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pintail, Pochard, Raven, Redshank, Redstart, Reed bunting, Ringed Plover, Sand martins, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Song thrush, Spotted redshank, Swallow, Teal, Tufted duck, Wheatear, Willow warbler, Wren.
Things are getting louder!
Spring is a time for new sightings but also new sounds. The familiar sound of the Cetti’s Warbler has been ever increasing, even with the visitor centre doors shut they can be heard “shouting” at each other from the reed beds that surround the building. Very impressive for such a small bird.
Cetti's warbler, Mike Lane (rspb-images.com)
Is that someone laughing at me? Probably not! More likely to be Little grebes giggling at one another in the high pitched chattering way that they do.
If you come to Newport Wetlands and you don’t hear at least one Chiffchaff, I will be very surprised as they continue to be vocal with their unmistakable “Chiffchaff” call.
Chiffchaff, Mike Lane (rspb-images.com)
New arrivals this week have included a Willow warbler on Tuesday 1st April (Confirmed by sound of course) and Blackcaps are being seen more regularly now that spring is in the air.
The message here is that you are more likely to hear things before you see them so keep your ears “pricked” and you never know, you might hear the “pinging” of a Bearded tit. Better still, you might even see one or two. Early in the morning as you walk towards the lighthouse seems to be the best opportunity at the moment.
There are still more birds en route from warmer climes, so brush up on your bird calls, especially the Warblers because if like me, you struggle to tell the difference by sight, knowing the sound can make things a lot easier.
A couple of interesting sightings from the past week included a Red-legged partridge, Whimbrel and possibly a Jack snipe.
Of the non-bird variety, Grass snakes, Tree bumblebee, Buff-tailed bumblebee and some very loud frogs.
Butterflies are very good at giving a sense of relaxation and bliss so we have been very pleased with the number of Small tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Peacock butterflies that are flitting around at the moment.
Avocets, Bar-headed goose, Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Curlew, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great crested grebe, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey , heron, House sparrow, Jack snipe, Jay, Kestrel, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Moorhen, Mute swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pochard, Red-legged partridge, Redshank, Reed bunting, Robin, Sand martin, Shelduck, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Tufted duck, Whimbrel, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Wren.
Brimstone, Buff-tailed bumblebee, Common frog, Grass snake, Peacock, Small tortoiseshell, Stoat, Tree bumblebee
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!