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

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Remembrance Day report

The days of leaving home at sun up only to return at sun down complete with Filofax brimming with exciting ticks are fading into the memory. The onset of middle age spread and less free time has changed the dynamic of my birding. Give me a nearby car park, a nice accessible walking surface, benches and I'm yer man.

The Riverfront in the freshly urbanised metropolitan city of Newport is brilliant for this, that's of course if you can get into your chosen car park near the Riverfront Theatre! Displaced from this most convenient block of floodplain tarmac by several oily workman in florescent jackets, I found myself in the next available free place half a mile down the road in Asda Pill (three hour limit for customers only!) This had the result of forcing me across a road to confront the bold primary colours of Newport's urban artwork zone, on through narrow walkways between high rise buildings where students kicked empty Red Bull cans and smoked Moroccan black, onward across a dual carriageway before making it to the Riverfront walk - and relax!

Having not had the pleasure of birding in this part of Newport's edgelands before I quickly sought a vantage point from which to pick out the avian delights in amongst the tractor tyres, assorted twisted metal and a nose cone of a Lufthansa jet that were rising from the chocolate coloured depths of the River Usk's highly productive tidal ecosystem.  A redshank and cormorant later I quickened my step upstream towards my aforementioned, now barred, favourite parking spot, side stepping a number of leisure cyclists on the way. At a bench free from the oppressive affects of the new riverside accommodation, base camp was established all to the sound of distant marching and shouting. A Police officer with purpose in his stride passed me without even questioning why I was using binoculars in a public place. Here several redshank caught my eye one of which was the multi-ringed bird noted a couple of weeks ago. Here also were hundreds of gulls dotted along the shoreline like a string of pearls from bridge to bridge. Then at 11 o'clock a 'report' of artillery fire scattered all and sundry. With visions of an Asda car park attendant in price promise green uniform eyeing up my car  for an on the spot fine, I returned.

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