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10th September 2011 - Flying into a Storm PDF Print E-mail

The heavy wind and rain earlier this week might have caused you a bit of inconvenience, but it's impact on migratory birds was much more severe.  Readers might have caught the news stories about hundreds of sea birds washed up on beaches in West Wales – these birds were manx shearwaters, who whilst making their maiden flight from nesting colonies such as Skomer, were caught up in the storms and swept ashore. Although most were unharmed and subsequently released out at sea, many sadly perished through exhaustion and exposure.

Locally, birdwatchers have seen a number of unusual species at Goldcliff due to the strong winds, with gannets, fulmars, skuas, shearwaters and storm petrels all being forced close to land.

There have also been a few reports of sea birds being blown inland; Shearwaters have been found in Llandovery, and, closer to home, Mike from City Wildlife Care has recently picked up two fulmars blown ashore in Gwent.

Manx Shearwater Manx Shearwater

It's not just sea birds that have been caught out by the weather, many of our summer visitors are busily moving south, hugging the coast as they do, and are very vulnerable to inclement conditions. Mike tells me that he has recently picked up birds such as wheatear which have been blown into buildings by strong winds. He has asked me to appeal to Argus readers to keep their eyes open for injured, cold or exhausted birds – If you find one, cover it with a box or blanket (be careful, a beak in the eye will spoil your day!) and call the City Wildlife Care emergency rescue line on 07794 179207 – they will arrange to collect it  or can give you any advice you require.

Birdwatching Events

Don't forget that Gwent Ornithological Society (GOS) have lined a few more guided birdwatching walks; On Sunday 18th September, the focus  is on Torfaen when Steve Carter will be on hand to show 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.

On Sunday 9th October there is an out of county trip to watch migratory birds at Brean Down. This is a smashing site, less than an hour's drive away, and anyone interested should meet Craig Constance at Magor Services at 7.00am (for more details call 07970 558583).

 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 an exciting project to reintroduce a bird that was hunted to extinction in Britain – It should be a great evening.

Two weeks later on Saturday 1st October, Dawn Balmer of the BTO will be talking about the findings of the National Bird Atlas. This publication is currently being compiled from birdwatching data supplied by the British public over the last five years. If you want to know what is really happening to our bird populations then this is a talk you don't want to miss!

There is no need to book places on these walks and talks - 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.