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

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Video footage reveals evidence of Gwent colour ringed Med Gull

I've been using the video facility on my Panasonic Lumix of late with interesting results. This still taken from a short video of two Mediterranean Gull at Tredegar House Lake back in October clearly shows a white colour ring on one of the birds. It was a brief glimpse revealed only by going through the footage frame by frame. It seems this is the first documented record of a colour ringed Med Gull but unfortunately the clarity of the still is not of a quality that allows the number to be read.  

Monday, 30 December 2013


This Finnish ringed Black Headed Gull took some enticing to bring it within photographing range at Riverfront Newport yesterday. Elsewhere there were 60 Tufted Duck and 13 Little Grebe at Tredegar House Lake.   

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Sustainable Peri-urban Drainage System (SPuDS)

Those familiar with the land use planning process will no doubt understand the rationale behind Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS). Water management in the urban environment is crucial in helping to alleviate episodic flooding. Hard surfacing that's efficient in rushing water off to the existing drainage system often ends up being someone elses problem further down the river catchment. To moderate this SUDS are often designed and incorporated into new developments as a way of ensuring water is regulated.

A key feature of SUDS is a balancing pond. In modern systems such a feature is often simply a depression in the ground that takes excess water and releases it in a measured and controlled manner. But its seems that balancing ponds are not just a part of a modern water management system The peri-urban industrial landscape around the south Wales coalfield has many 'balance ponds'. The pond pictured above is situated above Pwll Ddu quarry and in recent times at least, has been devoid of water. But this changed within the last week when heavy rain temporarily filled the pond.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Parkland wildlife

This late posting relates to a visit to Tredegar Park last Sunday. Like all parkland environments theres no shortage of grey squirrels to entertain the middle class National Trust patrons. This one played peek-a- boo around a mature Wellingtonia tree but had obviously met with some sought of accident as the majority of its characteristic curly tail was missing. 

The lake itself seemed brimming with birdlife. The common wildfowl were supplemented by a healthy count of 58 tufted duck and 12 little grebe. Many of the female tufted duck displayed varying degrees of white facial markings providing a potential scaup banana skin for those inexperienced birders. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Breeding plumage in winter

Black headed gulls are well known as non conformists when it comes to the timing of plumage change. Those hardy birding souls who have in the past endured the harsh winter weather to view the Llandegfedd Reservoir gull roost will have noted the change in black headed gull plumage from late January onwards. This bird at Riverfront Newport last week (mid December) was certainly the most advanced in the development of its summer head plumage I've seen. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

This one is EY66023

Not sure if those of you who read this blog are starting to reel at the sight of another ringed black headed gull but for me this is citizen science in action. There are thousands of bird ringers in the UK and abroad giving up their time and money to further our understanding of birds and to provide the much needed evidence base for targeted conservation action. As a lapsed bird ringer its not in my DNA to ignore a bird carrying a ring and at this time of year it's gulls that provide the stimulus.This bird was one of two with rings at Cwmbran Boating Lake midweek.   

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Beside the Wye

Another brief stop-off visit to Tintern and two black headed gull were with rings. The most interesting was a foreign bird but I wasn't able to get a good series of photos to enable the ring to read. The other was UK ringed number EN95615.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea)

A shock discovery of a photographic record of a great grey shrike from the head of the Blaenserchan Valley in early November had me out in the hope it was still around. Needless to say it wasn't so I made my way down to The British avoiding a steady stream of off roaders some pulling wheelies in defiance of oncoming vehicles.

At The British a yellow flowering plant caught my eye from a roadside pull-in popular with local fly tippers. A robust plant with green brassica type leaves had me reaching for my BSBI crucifer guide. It seems this is a specimen of wild cabbage a native yet scarce plant in the UK. A mainly coastal species the only substantial population in vice county 35 is on the walls of Chepstow Castle. But just before you get excited it seems wild cabbage is often grown in gardens and The British record surely has its origin as a domestic throw out.   

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