Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Reservoir, marsh, foreshore, water meadow - my cup runneth over.

An early start got me to Ponthir Reservoir at first light. 25 tufted duck and a pair of displaying great crested grebe did little to keep me occupied so I was soon back in the motor and on my way to Magor Marsh - oh! the vision of those Monmouthshire Naturalists' c1964. Here the reedbed was reverberating to a rather loud Cetti's warbler whilst the pond supported a moderate number of 'ducky type things' including a calling little grebe, four gadwall, a female shoveler, about 30 teal and assorted other commoner wildfowl. A short trip on to Magor Pill for some coastal watching and a bit photography produced a large flock of a couple of thousand starling on farmland and hedgerows behind the seawall including about half a dozen interloping fieldfare. On the foreshore of a rapidly retreating tide were the usual bag of curlew, redshank etc. with a count of upwards of 150 shelduck between the Pill and the Second Severn Crossing. This was particularlly pleasing given recent speculation about a decline in numbers in the estuary. A couple of skylark were also flushed from the saltmarsh.

Not done any serious birding in the Neddern Valley but a trickle of interesting reports on the GOS website was just enough to push me on from Magor in search of this hitherto unexplored wetland. After several round trips in the Caldicot area with tantillising views from afar I managed to find an access point but what an ackward place for birding! No apparent desire lines for footpath access, questionable land ownership and a wetland bridged by the M4 didn't make for comfortable birding. Nonetheless, from my limited views across the meadows and through the motorway bridge abuttments I could make out wigeon, teal, mallard, little grebe, shelduck, coot, moorhen, shoveler, lapwing and about three redshank. Then it rained, but I'd seen just enough for another visit - I will return.  

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