A familiar face has returned to the Newport Wetlands: the Little owl is once again being spotted regularly on his tree. Hooray! To get a good view, walk up the slope onto the reserve, then head left along the path until you reach the 3rd bench on the left hand side. Look down the slope to the trees below and see if you can spot the owl hidden amongst the branches. He’s often on the broken branch which you can see in this fantastic picture below.
Little Owl at Newport Wetlands. Photo by David Brooks
We’ve had a sighting of a Merlin recently too, another beautiful bird and the smallest raptor found in the UK. Merlin breeding habitat is moorland and upland, but they then move down to overwinter in areas like Newport Wetlands until March. At this point they return to their breeding grounds. Unlike the Hobby, which journeys to southern Africa every year, Merlins are generally not considered migratory birds. Most move within the UK, but there are a small number which are short distance migrants, coming from Iceland among other places to overwinter here in the UK. Currently there are around 1300 pairs of Merlin that nest in the UK, a number which has increased in the last few years which is great news.
Full sightings list 18th to 25th November
Bearded tit, Black tailed godwit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Buzzard, Canada goose, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Golden plover, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little owl, Long tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Merlin, Moorhen, Mute swan, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Spotted redshank, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Water rail, Wigeon, Wood pigeon, Wren.
Hare, Otter, Rabbit, Stoat.
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!
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.
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.