The boot of my car looks like an allotment holders shed. Three jackets - summer (camo for lurking in the bushes), waterproof and florescent with pockets hiding useful nic-nacs. Three items of footwear carrying variable amounts of dry mud - walking boots, steel toecaps and wellies. This attire competes for space with a bag of assorted optical aids and a scope. All of which, I try to convince my wife, are essential components of a naturalists' boot. I plead that I'm misunderstood, but forced, under protest with a man sulk, to have a periodic clear out when the distinctive smell of damp clothes threatens the well-being of those brave enough to share a lift.
It was therefore fortunate that yesterdays session of urban birding in Newport didn't require any thick brown corduroys and turned down wellies just soft shoes and tidy going out clothes. First up was the comfortable surroundings of Newport's Riverfront Walk. To my surprise a very confiding adult Mediterranean Gull was loafing with a number of black-headed gulls on the railings outside of the theatre. I thought I'd cooked my (mother) goose when the bird took off only to disappear in the distance over Newport Castle and out of sight. Thankfully it returned shortly afterwards. Here too, was a single black-headed gull carrying a ring, but as I fiddled with my camera and battled with the increasing disturbance from cyclists wearing their new Christmas Lycra, I was only able to take one shot before it too took off never to return. The joys of ring reading!
Next up was an attempt at tracking down the nearby black redstart reported from St Woolos Cathedral earlier in the week. I tried to time my visit to avoid the busy period of Sunday mass, but alas, got caught up in a bottle neck of chattering ladies some carrying fresh looking leather bound bibles, as I pushed through the lych gate. It wasn't long before the path took me around the southern edge of the building where the bird was located in full sunshine of the roof. It stayed briefly before dropping out of sight. Despite two more circuits I failed to relocate the bird, suggesting its home patch is wider than just the Cathedral's roof and graveyard. All in all a very enjoyable morning of best clothes birding.