As we enter the summer months, the bird activity at Newport Wetlands tends to decrease quite a bit as the birds concentrate on raising families, and thus sing a lot less, and are harder to see with the foliage on the trees. The ducks go into Eclipse, (Drakes moult their flight feathers and purposely look drab to aid camouflage, at what can be a dangerous time for them).
For us regular visitors this means that the answer to the old Birders greeting "anything about?", is often met with the reply "not much". this is of course far from the truth, as the avian activity is replaced by, the birders, and especially the birding photographer's, summer activity of insect and flower watching.
The Gwent levels and in particular Newport Wetlands are, a unique blend of habitats that have many rare plants and an abundance of insects. These as a subject matter will mean a rethink on equipment as we tend to go from long lenses to Macro and close-up.
So would just like to recommend to everyone to have a re-think about visiting and have a go at alternative subjects during this, what can be a rewarding time.
In a Photographic context I am lucky in that my lens of choice, ( a 70-300mm Tele-zoom), has a dedicated macro setting that allows focus down to 0.95M which is ideal for a lot of insect shots as it allows you to get a reasonable shot without having to get on top of the subject, but most modern cameras have a Macro mode that can be used with all lenses, and can produce some stunning glimpses into the miniature world of insects, and what could be a more uplifting sight than a summer wildflower meadow, either as a landscape or picking out the individual beauty of a single flower
A couple of examples of my recent images to try and inspire you ;) ... ...
Small white Butterfly
Cardinal Beetle in the Copse by the Hide
Egg laying, Blue tailed Damselfly, Pond dipping area at the Visitor centre
Flag Iris in flower [ Not as I originally stated "Common Bulrush" Doh! ]
Of course there are still birds about, and these can be spectacular such as the sight of a Hobby catching Dragonflies in flight, so you may need to work a little but the "Nothing About" is a myth, enjoy your summer at the wetlands, I know I will :)
We will have to arrange anothetr get together there soon!!
We certainly will, especially as it's not as cold there now, so you won't be liable to catch Pneumonia this time :))
I will come dressed appropriately this time as well!
Last time I was there "Budgie Smugglers" would have been appropriate, Maybe not a good thought ;)), LOL
Stunning photos Nigel, so sharp!
Thanks John :)
Just been on Wikipedia and apparently the Gwent Levels is home to the following rare species:
Variable damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)
Flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) - an unusual water-edge plant with sprays of pink flowers in May and June
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Musk beetle (Aromia moschata) - a smelly longhorn beetle with shiny metallic green armour, that lives in willows along the reens
Great silver water beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) - Britain's biggest beetle ignoring the Stag beetle's extra length due to antlers
Water vole (Arvicola terrestris)
So there's plenty there for us to try and record!
Let's hope for a warmer summer than last year. I bought a Dragonfly and Damselfly ID book last year to start learning some of the species, it then went cold and the Dragonflies were few and far between. I think I have seen more this year than last year already!
Two other places other than Newport Wetlands to go for Dragonflies etc is Cosmeston Lakes near Barry and Kenfig Hill NR, the later I am fairly sure, is one of the best places to go to see winged wildlife other than birds in the country at this time of year. There are quite a few rarities at Kenfig that are found at only a handful of other locations in the UK.
Yes, a lot about at the reserve at the momement Nigel. A lot of damselflies about and I caught sight of a Hairy Dragonfly by the hide the other day but was not quick enough to grab a shot!
Funny you should mention it but I've just had this ID'd by Aiki on 'identify this' as a female Hairy Dragonfly. I took it on the 25th of May in the short lane used for staff entrance. Not focused throughout but O.K. for a record! ;)
That's nice John. I have been trying to get a few shots of various damsels and dragons last year and this but have not managed a hairy dragon yet. if nothing else it shows they are about and with patience...!
Nice photos :)
I managed to get half a cuckoo on Saturday along the Fisherman's lane. (I waited but Arfur was not inclined to move to a branch where I could see all of him).
Well done Cath, with me it's a case of heard but rarely seen and always too fast for a photo!