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Mon, 16 Jan 2017 Cwmbran Waxwing
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 sluice farm Short Eared Owl
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 Severn Bridge Ferry Hotel Oystercatcher

Latest News

Tidal power lagoons

Click here to read an RSPB blog about the government-commissioned Hendry review on the role of tidal power lagoons and the implications for wildlife in the Severn estuary.

 
Avian Flu - period extended

 The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone which covers the whole of Wales will remain in place until at least 28th February. 

Bird deaths resulting from the disease have been reported in Wales and also at WWT Slimbridge.

 
Your 2016 records please!
 
It's that time of year again!  Make it your New Year's resolution to download the Excel spreadsheet from the GOS website and start entering your sightings – records should be submitted by 31 January 2017.  Click here to see how to do this. 
 
Although we’d definitely prefer to receive records submitted using the spreadsheet, records submitted via Word documents and paper slips will still be accepted.  If you use Word, please make sure there is a new line for each record and that data is entered in the following order and separated by a Tab: 
            Species name, location/site, date of sighting, number of birds, comments (such as age/sex of birds, breeding notes etc), your name and initials.
 
But please try the spreadsheet method – you'll find it easy and we'll find sorting and assessing your records much simpler.  
 
Could those of you who use BirdTrack (an acceptable alternative) please also send your records to Tom?  This is merely to ensure no record goes missing.
 
Please email your records to Tom Chinnick at countyrecorder@gwentbirds.org.uk or post them to him at School House, Llandenny, Usk NP15 1DL.
 
WWT's Llanelli Wetland Centre closed ...

after a dead Wigeon carrying the H5N8 avian influenza virus was found near the Wetland Centre. This is apparently the first time an infectious strain of avian flu has been found in a wild bird in the UK.

 
Avian Flu

Background

Reports of Avian Influenza in wild birds, poultry and captive birds are continuing with several new EU countries affected (Finland, France, Romania and Sweden). There have now been 35 outbreaks in domestic poultry, five in captive birds (Germany and Netherlands), one in captive wild birds (France) and over 150 reports of wild bird die-offs.  The viruses associated with these events share high genetic similarity but may have been introduced via different migratory pathways/species.  No cases have been confirmed in the UK at present.

The risk to the UK has been raised by Defra to ‘medium’ based on how likely it is that avian influenza may reach the UK in wild birds.  The migration season is expected to peak between December and January.

As a result an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared. It introduces a requirement for all bird keepers to put in place, where practical, additional biosecurity measures to protect their birds from the risk from wild birds.  The Zone covers the whole of Wales and requires the immediate and compulsory housing of domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks, or where this is not practical, their complete separation from contact with wild birds. For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds, keepers should take practical steps to keep these birds separate from wild birds.  This zone will remain in place for 30 days from 6th December 2016.

What you need to know and do

As a result of new cases in Europe last week, both Defra and Welsh Government have issued the following guidance.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, you should report them to the DEFRA helpline on:03459 33 55 77 (preferred option), or email: defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Please adhere to this guidance.  If you receive calls from the public please make sure they are referred to the Defra helpline. 

Further information can be found on the Welsh Government and Defra websites.

 
Llandegfedd Reservoir permits and keys

As you know, during the winter months (from 1 October to 1 March) a permit is required to access the north end of the reservoir.  This may be bought at the Visitor Centre near the dam at the south end of the reservoir (ST328986) at a cost of £8.  Keys to the gate, which is locked during this period, are now available again and may be also be obtained here – a key costs £6.  Phone Welsh Water on 01495 769281 for Centre opening times.

 
WOS Lifetime Achievement Award 2016
Many congratulations to GOS President Steve Roberts, the recipient of the 2016 WOS Lifetime Achievement Award.  
 
Iolo Williams presented the well-deserved award to Steve at the recent WOS Conference in Myddfai.  The citation reads: 
 
Steve was introduced to a lifetime of ornithology by Bert Hamar, the founder of the Gwent Ornithological Society. Steve's father had died when he was young and Bert took him on his birdwatching walks.  Bert showed him a Mallard's nest full of eggs and young Steve was immediately hooked. He has spent the rest of his time seeking out and researching birds and, particularly, their nests.  His work has been mainly on the rarer raptors: Hobby, Goshawk and Honey-buzzard.  Steve's long-term monitoring of these species has added considerably to the accumulated knowledge of what had been thought of as difficult birds to study. 
 
Steve, with others, has undertaken a long term study of Honey-buzzards, leading to two landmark papers published in British Birds in 1999 and 2014.  For decades, the secrecy surrounding this special woodland raptor made it difficult to bring together such knowledge, yet understanding of the species’ habits and behaviour during the breeding season is a critical step towards their effective conservation.
 
Steve has not worked alone.  Jerry Lewis is often his collaborator and Steve has shared his knowledge with others willing to help, including WOS President Iolo Williams.  Steve is an accomplished and apparently fearless climber.  The work at the nest is almost always Steve's.  This makes him a much sought-after specialist and he travels worldwide to climb to, study and photograph iconic species, however fearsome their reputation.
 
Steve is also an accomplished artist, having taught art at a local comprehensive school, and his line drawings and paintings appear in many bird reports and books.  This award is to a man who has pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, usually from high in the canopy of a tree.
 
Colour-ringed Great White Egrets

A Great White Egret ringing programme has been initiated this year in the Somerset Levels and the RSPB would like to hear from anyone seeing a colour-ringed bird, so they can understand more about the birds' post-breeding dispersal and movement around the country.  Birds have a white three-letter code on a red ring on the left leg.  Please report any sightings via the EURING website, www.cr-birding.org or directly to Amy or Alison at Amy.King@rspb.org.uk or ajm@alisonmorgan.co.uk . 

 
GOS policies

GOS policies, as required by the Charity Commission, can be read here.

 
Help track waders on the Severn Estuary

BTO and Wildfowl and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have recently started a project to understand more about the home ranges of three species of waders (Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin) and a range of duck species on the Severn Estuary between Newport and Cardiff.  As part of this work the Redshank and Curlew have been colour ringed and Dunlin and some ducks marked with yellow dye.  In addition, they have put state-of-the-art GPS tracking devices on some of the Curlew, Redshank and Shelduck - this is giving fascinating information about how birds use the estuary through the winter during both the day and the night.  Work is ongoing, with the aim of marking more birds of these species and additional duck species during January and February.  Click here to read more about the project.

 

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