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

Monday, 2 January 2017

Now that's what I call December.

I can't remember a December like it, snatched birding due to a myriad of other time consuming obligations and to top it all two separate bouts of illness. The first, some bug that almost prevented me from delivering my 'ring reading' presentation to Gwent Ornithological Society members and then to round off the year nicely I was struck down by a heavy cold just after Boxing Day that resulted in three days in bed, followed by an extended period of miserableness. So this posting is a compilation of end of 2016 highlights, albeit few.

First up is my relatively new urban birding venue of Newport River(Usk)front. Easy access make for good gull watching with some birds carrying rings. A recent short visit produced just a single long staying first calender year colour ringed Herring Gull origin Bristol. Because of the imposition of Sunday car parking fees I now use a nearby residential area, giving me the opportunity to explore a part of the River Usk margins hitherto off radar. A large green space with play area contained some nice mature trees many adorned with bat and bird boxes and was a worthy sight (site). This got me investigating further and around the back of an allotment plot growing just at high tide level was a Black Poplar. Now care needs to be taken when identifying one of the rarest trees in the British Isles as many hybrid Black Poplar have been planted but there were s few features that suggest this is the genuine article. I'll re-visit when in leaf to confirm, fingers crossed.

Elsewhere a couple of visits to the ponds around Brynmawr were notable for the numbers of birds present. This is particularly relevant to Dunlop Semtex Pond where up to 60 Wigeon have been around for most of this early winter period. Augmentation is provided by Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck, and over 100 Herring, Black-headed and Lesser black-backed Gull. The newish floating island has benefited the local Cormorant population with around six regular birds including the long staying Dutch ringed bird. A quick visit yesterday produced a male Shovelar at DSP and a pair of Gadwall at Beaufort Ponds. Here's hoping for a better start to 2017!

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