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

Friday, 26 September 2014

Facial markings

Having jumped to conclusions in the recent past and been embarrassed by the outcome I took a long hard look at this bird before deciding it to be a female tufted duck. Not before I ruled out lesser scaup and a hybrid. You must admit though its a lot of facial marking even for a tufted duck. Also on the dam at Llandegfedd Reservoir was a linnet and little grebe

Thursday, 25 September 2014

I was struggling a bit

Last Sunday's visit to Llandegfedd Reservoir turned in a less than memorable species list. Among the 250+ Canada goose were the two feral barnacle goose. There were well over 100 cormorant, a few teal, tufted duck and wigeon. A small movement of skylark overhead along with an odd meadow pipit was noted. However dragonflies showed well with numerous common darter and a good population 10+ of migrant hawker. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

On the county boundary

From a distance a substantial draw down zone at the dreadfully under recorded Garnlydan Reservoir looked very promising. But it flattered to deceive the best birds on offer were 3 teal, 6 wigeon and 14 lapwing along with numerous meadow pipit and skylark. Compensation came in the form of dragonflies with common darter, black darter and a couple of ovipositioning southern hawker.

Stopping off a Beaufort Ponds for a wildfowl count turned in 10 wigeon, 8 tufted duck, 4 mute swan, 2 little grebe, a great crested grebe and assorted coot, mallard and moorhen.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Well I'll be damned

Okay I won't be required to fill out a Gwent Rarities Committee description pro-forma for this latest noteworthy record from Llandegfedd Reservoir. These 24 shoveler most in late summer eclipse plumage were present today close to the dam wall and must be one of the largest counts at the site in recent years. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014


The upper reaches of the Afon Lwyd are canalised in true nature conquering style. This heavily engineered section appears to have been constructed to take water away from the now disused adjacent railway line. A pleasant stroll from Garn Lakes LNR this railway cutting with gnarled wooden fence posts takes you deep into the heart of Waun afon bog. Yesterdays visit was populated by four stonechat, three whinchat, a single reed bunting, a hunting sparrowhawk, chiffchaff in sub song and several meadow pipit.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A minor twitch makes a welcome change

Gavin Vella's discovery of a juvenile black tern at Llandegfedd Reservoir produced a minor twitch amongst local birders and once again focused my thoughts on the decline of a site that was once at the core of Gwent's ornithological community.

Yesterday evening the number of visiting scope carriers may have broken through the four mark. This made it one of the most significant gatherings of 'tickers' at the site since the head turning creation of the Newport Wetlands conspired with Welsh Water's access barriers to reduce birding opportunities. What is of lingering concern is that over recent years the long series of comprehensive wildfowl counts that featured so predominately for decades in the Gwent Bird Reports appears to be faltering. And as a venue that's designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its wintering wildfowl, this indifference to data collection and the maintenance of the ornithological legacy must be a worry for all those who consider regular survey to be the bedrock of modern day nature conservation ethic. This is not to decry the efforts of some that have tried to keep the flag flying but with so few birders committed to a monthly wildfowl counts it can often be hard to maintain continuity. I feel there's a role for Gwent Ornithological Society in reversing this trend. Why not return to the days when the outdoor programme was built around a framework of LR wildfowl counts? I'm sure the Bert Hamar Memorial Hide would also benefit from a regular gathering of GOS members.

That said notable birds on offer yesterday included the aforementioned black tern, a passing wheatear and two barnacle goose within  a party of between 250-300 Canada goose. Waders included a ringed plover and two redshank.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A big thumbs up

I was pleased to attend today's launch of GWT's Wildlife Hero's project at Ebbw Vale. Patron Iolo Williams was quest speaker waxing lyrical about nature and well being and the rich biodiversity that can be found in the South Wales valleys - see I'm not the only one! Thanks to Veronika and her team for a very enjoyable event. 

Chatting to Iolo later he was keen show me a couple of examples of the plant gall Robins pincushion. Elsewhere I called in on the big three Brynmawr Ponds. At Beaufort the first two wigeon of the autumn were present along with a calling little grebe, five tufted duck, an adult and immature great crested grebe and a family of mute swan. At Machine Pond a flyover redshank and two tufted duck was just about it. Dunlop Semtex Pond saw the count of dumped shopping trolleys reach a peak of eight whilst coot numbered 40 but tufted duck only seven. Otherwise the raft of fringed water lily was doing well.  

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