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

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Riverfront rock pipit

February has been a limp birding month to date. Lack of time and motivation has restricted my activities to just a few snatched visits. Yesterday brightened a touch though as our general Saturday shopping duties turned in four waxwing whilst filling up at Sainburys Petrol Station and a hurried roadside stop just outside Caldicot was required after noting 30+ lapwing and 20+ fieldfare in an adjacent field.

Today followed the same domestic chore pattern as yesterday with more shop visits in Newport but this time was punctuated by 15 minutes beside the River Usk near to the Riverfront Theatre. This turned in the usual mix of gulls, a single redshank and a rock pipit picking its way around the stones at the waters edge.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Just off the Blorenge

Scrambled around the slopes of Carn y gorfydd just of the Blorenge this afternoon fantisizing about the possibility of a great grey shrike on top of the many scattered rowan trees in the area. Alas it wasn't to be, in fact bird wise the walk was quieter than a church mouse with only a raven and buzzard breaking the silence.

There are some impressive culturally important boundary features across the wider landscape here. From drystone walls to decaying lines of wooden fence posts, many the size of railway sleepers, festooned and caked in various bryophytes and lichens.  The remants of a large dead sessile oak tree was riddled with the exit holes of saproxylic beetles.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Bottoms up

Another Gwent Goosander Survey visit to Dunlop Semtex Pond produced exactly the same scenario as previous visits, namely no goosander, the long staying colour ringed Montgomeryshire mute swan and a characteristic detergent pollution incident.

Yesterdays Gwent Recorders Forum was once again top notch with some very interesting presentations. Elsa Wood's and Stephanie Tyler's botanical presentation illustrated just how important it is to the record the common and not just the rare. A vice county distribution map for common daisy was sparser than that for early purple orchid. This theme was also taken up by Adam Rowe in his south east Wales map for mole.

The forum is always a good chance to touch base with familiar faces and fellow recorders. There were a few comments about my appearance, including 'you are looking well' which we all know is a euphemism for 'fat'. Another suggested I'm looking more and more like Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall and one long standing and well respected county recorder hinted at my pending retirement based on my whitening locks 

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Its been a lean few weeks for me as my birding has consisted of only snatched lunchtime visits to Cwmbran Boating Lake where the ornithological interest is limited to a few common wildfowl and maybe an odd unusual gull. So anything with a hint of 'different' about it grabs my attention. This common gull on the surface was bog standard, but once it took flight it revealed it had lost both its feet.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Pronounced petals

I'm midway through a spare time (what spare time!) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector course, acronym PTLLS but pronounced petals. It quickly became apparent to me that my stock approach to talks by Powerpoint with pretty pictures wouldn't cut the mustard if I was going to succeed at this particular challenge. Formal post 16 teaching needs to incorporate so much these days from inclusion, equality and diversity to Health and Safety, numeracy, literacy and ICT, with a touch of healthy living and Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship sprinkled on the top for good measure. 

There's only a couple of sessions left, one of which is a 30 minute Micro Teaching session that will be, gulp, filmed!! We've been advised to pick a subject to talk about that we are interested in. Whilst some former attendees as an example have delivered a session around the History of the Musket or the finer points of Yoga I'm toying with the lofty concepts of Citizen Science or Nature Deficit Disorder. Am I being too ambitious?
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