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Sun, 30 Apr 2017 Monmouth Swift
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Sun, 30 Apr 2017 Cwmafon Corridor LNR Wood Warblers

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Reporting sightings of rare and Schedule 1 birds on the GOS website
In Gwent's wide variety of habitats we have many sites of ornithological interest which hold rare and Schedule 1 breeding bird species.  Newport Wetlands Reserve, which encompasses Goldcliff lagoons, Uskmouth reedbeds and the grasslands, is a well managed site and very secure for breeding birds, but sites elsewhere in the county are unprotected and the many breeding species present there are vulnerable to threats such as disturbance and, potentially, even egg collectors.  
 
For this reason please AVOID POSTING SIGHTINGS WHICH INCLUDE SPECIFIC LOCATIONS (other than at NWR) for any rare, locally rare or Schedule 1 species that you suspect are breeding, showing signs of breeding behaviour or are in suitable habitat, on the Gwent Ornithological Society Sightings page.  
 
If you discover a rare or Schedule 1 species that you suspect is breeding, please report your sighting directly to the county recorder at countyrecorder@gwentbirds.org.uk or on 07982 719881.  
 
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.           
 
Tom Chinnick
Gwent County Bird Recorder
 
 
Schedule 1 species which may be found include the following:
 
Garganey
Spoonbill
Red Kite
Marsh Harrier
Osprey
Little Ringed Plover
Kinfisher
Merlin
Hobby
Peregrine
Firecrest
Bearded Tit 
Woodlark
Cetti’s Warbler 
Crossbill
 
Avian Flu - period further extended

The Welsh Government has announced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, in place from 28 February until 30 April.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has also confirmed there will be some important changes to the measures that will apply within the new all-Wales Prevention Zone.

The current Prevention Zone requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors or take all appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds, and to enhance biosecurity.

This follows a number of confirmed cases of avian flu across the UK, including in a backyard flock of chicken and ducks near Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire. 

The new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requires all keepers to complete a self assessment of biosecurity measures on their premises. The objective being to keep domestic flocks totally separate from wild birds by continuing to keep birds housed or using other measures, which may include permitting controlled access to outside areas, subject to the introduction of additional risk mitigation measures. 

 
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.

 
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.

 
Spam attacks

We have recently started suffering from spam postings on the Sightings page.  These are removed as soon as possible but the Sightings page cannot be monitored continuously.  DO NOT CLICK on any link in a sighting post – it must be assumed there is a virus attached somewhere.  We are trying to find a solution and will keep members posted on progress.

 
Solar energy and wind farm developments
From time to time the committee is asked where the Society stands with regard to solar energy or wind farm developments.  Policy statements detailing our views have been drawn up.
 
Click here to see our policy on solar energy
 
and here to see our policy on wind farm developments.
 
Gwent Birders Facebook page
A Facebook group for anyone with an interest in birds and birding in Gwent is now up and running.  Set up by Marcus John, it is intended to complement the GOS website and other internet resources.  Birding news, photos and comments are welcomed on the Facebook page but sightings should continue to be posted on the GOS Sightings page http://www.gwentbirds.org.uk/sightings .  
 
To find out more about Gwent Birders go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/1402732016717810/ .  If you don't yet have a Facebook account go to https://www.facebook.com/ to open one.
 

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