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

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Mopping up some annual leave this past week and as usual I've been too ambitious with my plans to get out and about. Firstly, the snow required successive days of digging and secondly my wife's assertion that painting needed to be done and prioritised. That said yesterdays shopping visit to Brynmawr gave me the opportunity to squeeze in a bit of birding.

All three lakes visited were more or less frozen. Machine Pond was completely iced over with only a hardy party of mallard remaining in residence. It was a slightly different story at Beaufort Pond whereby an area of open water had attracted a gathering of wildfowl. Here a pleasing flock of 33 wigeon mingled with mute swan, coot, tufted duck and mallard. A few larger gulls preferred to rest on the ice.

At Dunlop Semtex Pond the returning hordes of breeding herring and lesser black-backed gulls had arrived to find their chosen rooftop site demolished. However this didn't stop the birds gathering at ground zero, no doubt wondering what had happened. As herring gull is a species of principal importance in Wales as set out in section 7 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 will the planning authority in this area seek to re-establish this colony as part of any new development? With so much bad press around urban gulls I suspect this answer to this will be no.

The Dunlop Semtex Pond was also largely frozen, but judging by a group of standing gulls that appeared to sinking, the ice was thawing rapidly. All the gulls here were herring or lesser black-backed with many in prime breeding plumage. I was joined by Nicholas Beswick who reported that a first winter Iceland gull had been present only an hour previously. I scanned the birds one more time for something more notable but the only thing I could find was a blue colour-ringed lesser black-backed that I suspect is the regular breeding bird CHL that was ringed in Gloucester and winters in Spain.

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