Newport Wetlands is nicely nestled on the mouth of the river Usk as it joins the Severn estuary. This means that the reserve experiences big changes in tide times and tidal ranges. In fact, the Severn estuary has the second highest tidal range of any river in the world, behind the Bay of Fundy in Canada. A 14.5 metre difference between low and high tide has been recorded. This also means that the Usk has the highest tidal range of any city river in the world. But why is this information important, apart from being quite interesting? Well, it means that because the tidal range is so high, the amount of mudflats that are exposed as the tide retreats provides an ideal feeding ground for waders and ducks. If you catch the tide times correctly you could be treated to the sight of 100 to 200 shelduck, curlews with their curved beaks, flocks of dunlin or knot and the odd lapwing or two.
Here’s a hint. This week, the highest tidal range we have on the Severn is Saturday at 12.01 metres. High tide is at 09:24am. So if you like an early start, get down to the coast path and watch the waders as the follow the tide out, then come to the visitor centre and tell us what you have seen.
In an attempt to increase the number of waders visiting the water outside the visitor centre (the scrape), we have slightly lowered the water level to expose more mud. As I said above, this provides an ideal feeding area and makes it easier for birds to pick out crustaceans and other invertebrates.
In doing so the low water level has attracted another bird which has taken advantage of the easy to see fish in the water. Over the past week we have been treated most mornings to a brightly coloured kingfisher, using the willows as fishing platforms.
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis by Danny Green (rspb-images.com)
I just thought you might like to know that on Monday there was a pectoral sandpiper on the reserve. Not a native bird but an occasional migrant to British shores.The pectoral sandpiper is a bit larger than a dunlin. It has a brown streaky breast, white belly, slightly downcurved bill, and yellow-brown legs.
Full sightings list 17th to 22nd September:
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Common sandpiper, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Golden plover, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey wagtail, Hobby, House martin, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little stint, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pintail, Raven, Red kite, Redshank, Redstart, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Robin, Ruff, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Spotted redshank, Stonechat, Swallow, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Wheatear, Whitethoat, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Wren.
Butterflies, dragonflies and mammals:
Clouded yellow, Comma, Common blue, Common darter, Grass snake, Migrant hawker, Peacock, Rabbit, Red admiral, Small white, Speckled wood, 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!
It’s been another beautiful week here, with a nice variety of bird species around including a number of passage migrants. There are still lots of wader species hanging around the lagoons including Ruff, Little Stint and Ringed Plover among others.
Other notable sightings include the passage migrant Tree pipit, and the autumn arrival of Goldcrest and even a Firecrest which was spotted on Tuesday 16th in the poplars near the hide at Uskmouth. What a fantastic little bird! And I really mean little – Goldcrest and Firecrest share the joint honour of being the UK’s smallest bird.
Firecrest in Wiltshire by David Kjaer (rspb-images.com)
On Tuesday 9th there were reports of a brightly coloured bird in the tree near the play area. A few visitors managed to get photos of the bird, and we tentatively identified it as a Turaco – possibly a Hartlaub’s or White-cheeked Turaco but no one is sure! These are birds endemic to sub-Saharan Africa so our visitor was probably an escapee from a private collection somewhere in the UK. The Turaco only stayed at the Wetlands for a day, but the following day we received a phone call saying it had been spotted in Beechwood Park in Newport.
Turaco at Newport Wetlands 09.09.14 - Photo by Jo Jones
Sightings 07.09 to 17.09
Avocet, Bearded tit, Black headed gull, Black tailed godwit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Buzzard, Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Common sandpiper, Common snipe, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Curlew sandpiper, Dunlin, Firecrest, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Herring gull, House sparrow, Kestrel, Knot, Lapwing, Little egret, Little grebe, Little owl, Little stint, Long tailed tit, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Ruff, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Sparrowhawk, Spotted redshank, Swallow, Teal, Tree pipit, Tufted duck, Turnstone, Water rail, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Whinchat, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Wood sandpiper, Wren.
Clouded yellow, Grass snake, Shrill carder bee, Speckled wood, Weasel, Turaco.
Well goodness me, what a week of sightings! On Friday and again on Monday there were reports of an Osprey flying over – migrating back to Africa no doubt. Alas, they weren’t hanging around, so only a lucky few got to spot them.
And of course we’ve had some other interesting sightings this week including the Red Arrows and lots of Merlins and Ospreys (this time it’s aircraft, not birds!) flying over during the NATO summit.
Photo by David Brooks 31/08/2014 at Newport Wetlands
There are lots of waders around at Goldcliff at the moment, including Wood sandpiper, Curlew sandpiper, Little stint, Ruff, and Ringed plover among others.
Raptors have been quite active this week too, with our usual Kestrel by the Visitor Centre, the two Marsh harriers over by the hide, the strange looking white Buzzard over at Goldcliff, Sparrowhawk hunting over the reedbeds, and even a Short-eared owl over the estuary.
Kingfishers have been seen a number of times this week, both on the Scrape by the visitor centre, and up on the reserve by the first viewing screens in the central path.
Kingfisher in Norfolk by Kevin Sawford (rspb-images.com)
It’s not all birds that are exciting me this week though, with a possible otter sighting on Saturday morning by the pontoon bridge!? Only one person saw it and even he wasn’t sure...but still an exciting prospect!
Full list from 25/08 to 07/09
Avocet, Bearded tit, Black headed gull, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Coal tit, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Curlew sandpiper, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great black backed gull, Great crested grebe, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey wagtail, House martin, House sparrow, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little stint, Long tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Mediterranean gull, Moorhen, Mute swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pintail, Pochard, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Ruff, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Short eared owl, Shoveler, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Spotted flycatcher, Starling, Stock dove, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Tufted duck, Turnstone, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Wood pigeon, Wood sandpiper, Wren, Yellow wagtail.
Bank vole, Brimstone, Cinnabar moth, Clouded Yellow, Comma, Common blue (butterfly), Common carder bee, Common darter, Gatekeeper, Hare, Large white (butterfly), Otter (possible), Porpoise, Rabbit, Red admiral, Speckled wood, Tortoiseshell, Weasel.