27th August 2011 - Time To Go PDF Print E-mail

SwallowIt might still be summer, the kids may be off school (and I've still got my shorts on), but autumn migration has started – in fact it's well under way.

Bird migration is a fascinating subject; It appears that some birds react to local climatic conditions and migrate when it seems opportunistic to do so, whilst others are driven by an inate 'obligate' urge - It's as though these birds are genetically programmed to respond to a trigger (such as day length).

The bird that most birdwatchers notice going first is the swift. During July these birds congregate and form very visible and audible 'screaming parties' - and then, during the first week of August they disappear!  

To fully appreciate migration you need to visit a place that birds pass through or use as a stop off point. Coastal areas are best and during the next month or so birdwatchers will flock (no pun intended) to places such as Portland and other headlands off the South and East coast.

Locally, Peterstone, Uskmouth and Goldcliff are all good places to go migrant watching and the sightings page at www.gwentbirds.org.uk has reports of spotted flycatcher, yellow wagtail, wheatear, redstart, sand and house martin, swallow (pictured), tree pipit, and many species of warbler, all passing through recently.

Readers might recall that I wrote a little while ago about cuckoos that were being tracked during their journey back South; Having left the UK during July, all the birds have now made it across the Sahara and are currently in either Chad, Nigeria or Senegal. The Sahara is a particularly  difficult place for birds to cross as there are very few places to stop off en route. One of the cuckoos accomplished his crossing by flying 2,700 kilometres in 56 hours – an average speed of over 48kph!


Birdwatching Events

Don't forget that Gwent Ornithological Society (GOS) have lined a few more guided birdwatching walks; On Saturday 3rd September Craig Constance will be leading a morning wader watch at Goldcliff. The walk starts at 8.00am from the Newport Wetlands Reserve main car park and will carry on to around midday. The lagoons at Goldcliff attract a wide range of migrant birds on passage and this is an ideal opportunity to get some expert help in identifying them.

On the following Saturday, 10th September, Rob Parsons will be your host when he leads a walk around Forest Coal Pit SSSI. This is a smashing spot just North of Abergavenny and Rob is expecting some interesting sightings. The walk starts at 8.00am from the site car park (SO 292 211).

A week later, on Sunday 18th September, the focus changes to Torfaen when Steve Carter is the leader showing you around Tirpentws Local Nature Reserve. This overlooked gem of a spot just outside Pontypool is well worth a visit and anyone interested should meet Steve at Tesco car park, Pontypool at 8.00am.

 GOS's eagerly awaited season of indoor talks kicks off at Goytre Village Hall  (just off the A4042 by the Goytre Arms) on Saturday 17th September when 'The Great Bustard Group' will be in town to give an update on the exciting project to reintroduce a bird that was hunted to extinction back to Britain – It should be a great evening.

There is no need to book places on these walks and talk - just turn up. New faces (especially Argus readers) are always welcome at GOS events.

Entry to talks is £1.50 and includes tea and biscuits.

Walkers should remember to bring suitable clothing (boots essential), food and drink – and binoculars if you have them.

For more information visit www.gwentbirds.org.uk or give me a call on the number below. Likewise, if you want me to send you a copy of GOS's programme of walks and talks, just let me know.

Keep in Touch

Thank you to all readers that have taken the time to get in touch.

 I always enjoy hearing from you and can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or on 01633 866470.