There have been a few surprises in the area over the past few weeks, the most notable being the Lammergeier spotted near the Severn Bridge, only a few miles from Newport Wetlands. The name is German for ‘lamb vulture;’ another common name for them is the Bearded vulture. The nearest recorded wild Lammergeiers reside in the high peaks of the Pyrenees mountains. Once found across the great mountain ranges of Europe, breeding pairs dwindled to a mere 3,000 as a result of widespread strychnine poisoning. Efforts to reintroduce the magnificent birds have been relatively successful, with recent sightings in Britanny, Germany and Belgium. The mystery here is whether this particular Lammergeier is a truly wild bird exploring new territories, or whether it is simply an escapee from a bird collection, or maybe a stray from a European reintroduction programme.
Another nice surprise today, although not quite so unusual, was the sighting of a southern marsh orchid coming into full bloom on the reserve. The colloquial name ‘marsh rocket’ indicates how quickly the flowering spikes appear. This species can occur in large numbers and in a variety of habitats including marshes, damp meadows, wet grassland, low lying dunes and old industrial sites. It readily hybridises with spotted orchids, which can lead to difficulties in identification.
Southern marsh orchid by Helen Gottschalk
Recent Sightings 13/05/16 – 19/05/16
Avocet, Bearded reedling, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common whitethroat, Coot,
Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Garganey, Goldfinch, Grasshopper warbler,
Great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greater black-backed gull, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Greylag goose, Herring gull, House martin,
House sparrow, Kestrel, Knot, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier,
Merlin, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pochard, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Short-eared owl, Shoveler, Sparrowhawk,
Spoonbill, Starling, Swallow, Swift, Tufted duck, Water rail, Whimbrel, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon and Wren.
Other species spotted around the Wetlands include:
Weasel, Grass snake, Orange tip butterfly, Peacock butterfly, Small tortoiseshell butterfly, Hairy dragonfly, Bank vole, Field vole, Rabbit and Blue-tailed damselfly.
Recent Sightings 06/05/16 – 12/05/16
Avocet, Bearded reedling, Bittern, Blackcap, Buzzard, Canada goose, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew sandpiper, Curlew, Dunlin, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Grasshopper warbler, Great crested grebe, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey plover, Hobby, House sparrow, Kestrel, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little ringed plover, Little stint, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pochard, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Ruff, Sanderling, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, Tufted duck, Turnstone, Whimbrel, Whinchat and Wren.
Grass snake, Rabbit, Small tortoiseshell butterfly, Green veined white butterfly, Peacock butterfly, Toad, Stickleback, Bloodworm, Water beetle, Blue chaser and Emperor Dragonfly.
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!
The 2016 Velothon Wales is fast approaching, and on Sunday 22nd May the event will close the normal route to Newport Wetlands. However, there is an alternative route to the nature reserve, so why not take the opportunity to cheer along the 18,000 riders, and then continue to Newport Wetlands and relax with a coffee and cake after all that exertion!!
The alternative route can be picked up by exiting the M48 at J2 (Chepstow) as follows:
From M48 J2: - A466 to A48 then left onto B4245 through Caldicot
Leave B4245 in Magor, left onto Redwick Road
TURN LEFT immediately after railway bridge onto Whitewall - Just before Redwick village
TURN RIGHT onto North Row - Just before reaching the A4810 (closed for the Velothon)
TURN LEFT (still North Row) and stay on this road through Whitson and Goldcliff -
TURN LEFT into West Nash Road, the RSPB car park is 0.7 miles after passing Nash Church.
March and April is a time for departures and arrivals and as we say goodbye to some of our over wintering ducks, we say hello to those birds that have travelled across the deserts to get here.
Here is a timeline of events:
Throughout March a glossy ibis has been moving between the wet grassland and Goldcliff saline lagoons ever since being seen in February outside the visitor centre cafe window.
March 14, the first sand martin was seen.
March 22 and a bittern was heard booming for the first time at Newport Wetlands. It continued to boom for weeks and has been the talk of the reserve. It hasn’t been heard booming since April 21 which could mean one of two things. It has moved on or it has found a mate. We hope it is the latter!
March 22, the last sightings of fieldfare and redwing.
March 28, first house martin sighting.
April 2, first swallow sighting.
April 3, first swift sighting.
April 3, first sight/sound of sedge and willow warblers.
April 13, first records of common and lesser whitethroat.
April 13, redstart seen not far from the visitor centre.
April 13, first sight/sound of reed warbler.
April 13 was also a good day for butterflies with small tortoiseshell, green veined white, peacock and holly blue all seen.
April 20 and not one, but two cuckoos were seen looking exhausted and subsequently heard in the copse.
April 21, two grasshopper warblers, one at either end of the reserve seen and heard reeling.
April 23 and a quick visit from a red kite.
April 23, a broad-billed sandpiper at the Goldcliff lagoons.
That’s about it. We have nine species of warbler including the ones not in the timeline, blackcap, Cetti’s warbler and chiffchaff. A pair of great crested grebe have been gracing the waters and occasional sightings of firecrest, whinchat and wheatear. Water vole have been seen now and again and we continue to monitor this. Bearded reedling activity is increasing and our new event, “Bearded Reedling and Breakfast” has given visitors the opportunity to see this elusive bird!
New arrival -Grasshopper warbler by Jeff Hall