Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science.







Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Some ringing returns



I've not posted for a while but that's not to say I've been inactive. The Sunday before last I managed to get around some of the north west Gwent water-bodies. Starting with Bryn Bach Park, the ban on feeding wildfowl appears to be working at least in respect of Canada goose with only two birds nibbling the amenity grassland. I find that many of Gwent's recreational lakes seem to acquire an increasing assortment of domestic waterfowl. Who introduces these birds is anyone's guess. The newest bird on offer was a Chinese goose so tame that it tugged at my trouser leg for food. On the lake were a couple of great crested grebe, up to 50 tufted duck and a shoveler. A dipper arrived via the concrete over flow channel and quickly turned tail and returned whence it came. A few fieldfare and redwing featured as well.


At Beaufort Ponds a cluster of mallardcoot, mute swan and few tufted duck assembled quickly at the water's edge on my arrival, suggesting no such bird feeding ban was in place here. Mid pond 16 wigeon milled around.


Some flood risk reason has been given for the reduction in water level at Dunlop Semtex Pond. Work to achieve this appears to be underway producing a margin that tells a story about the a lack of local appreciation of the site.  Numerous drinks cans and bottles sit cheek by jowl with discarded timber and other urban detritus but the most shocking was half of dozen or so shopping trolleys - why don't the local businesses retrieve them! In amongst Steptoe's junk were 10 wigeon, a cormorant, 60+ coot and a few tufted duck


And finally I got off my backside and reported four ringed black headed gull from the end of last year. To my joy I've already received information for three quarters of them - with some interesting results!

  • EY66023 - ringed 26 June 2013 Dunkirk, Little Downham, Ely, Cambridgeshire. 
                            photographed 14 Dec 2013 Cwmbran Boating Lake, Cwmbran, Gwent.


  • EP33914 - ringed 17 June 1996  Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire.
                            photographed 23 Nov 2013 River Wye,Tintern, Monmouthshire 

  • ST291.205 - ringed 26 June 2012 Tammela, Finland
                               photographed 29 Dec 2013 Riverfront, River Usk, Newport








Saturday, 1 November 2014

The daily commute - bird driving.




Through the pages of this cyberspace journal I will have mentioned my wife's on-going concern about the quality of my driving. It seems I have a tendency to use my innate naturalist observational skills to search for roadside botanical delights and avian flyovers whilst travelling the highways and byways of this fair county. A reminder that a clean licence and a healthy no claims bonus are an evidence base to prove that any worries about the risk I pose are simply unfounded. That said going about the everyday humdrum can be enhanced by continuing to look out for wildlife on the move. This week is a case in point. 

Even though I consider myself lucky enough to only a have a three mile or so commute to work it is surprising how much wildlife can be seen from a pause at the traffic lights or a queue of stationary traffic - damn those utility companies for digging up the road again! Nonetheless Pontypool does seem a bit of a hotspot for 'bird driving' - I must copyright this phrase!  As from the Wainfelin traffic light intersection to the Pontymoile junction (jumble) there seems much to offer. The last few days turned in the following:
  • 22/10/14. 07.43 hrs.  Pontymoile Traffic Lights - 4 cormorant (heading north west)
  • 23/10/14. 07.55 hrs   Pontymoile Traffic Lights - 4 cormorant (heading north west)
  • 27/10/14. 16.25 hrs   Pontnewynydd stationary traffic - 1 red kite (drifting south east)
  • 30/10/14. 07.41 hrs   Tesco Roundabout stationary traffic - 100s wood pigeon (east to west)
  • 31/10/14. 07.43 hrs   Wainfelin Traffic Light Intersection - 100s wood pigeon (east to west)
  • All week. 07.40 hrs onwards.  Pontypool Civic Centre Roof /Tesco Car Park - 30+ assorted black headed gull and lesser black backed gull.
At this point I must confess that all this bird driving has also allowed me to witness the progress of a colony of feral pigeon that is thriving beneath the Pontypool by pass bridge just beyond the Pontymoile traffic lights. Yes and before you dismiss me as a lightweight feral pigeon is on the county list!

Finally the disclaimer. Bird driving can be a useful way of building a picture of the activities of local wildlife but don't take risks. An excuse that you were 'bird driving' when having your collar felt by the local constabulary in the wake of a driving without due care and attention charge will not cut the mustard.

PS - this weeks commute has been a multitask fest as a secondhand copy of Richard Mabey's audiobook A Brush with Nature along with an eye on the roadside wildlife has raised my personal well-being assessment to good touching very good on times.
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