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16 October 2010 - Traffic Jam Culprit is Doing Fine PDF Print E-mail

I've had a number of enquiries from readers worried about the welfare of the swan that landed on the M4 last Friday causing a 4 mile tailback (and getting a mention on BBC radio). Well, I'm pleased to report that it was rescued from the road uninjured by firefighters from Red Watch Malpas and is in fine health.

The bird was a young mute swan, born earlier this year and probably taking it's first significant flight.

Adult swans are fantastically caring parents and keep their cygnets with them for several months from the time they hatch up until the time that they can fend for themselves. Then, about this time of year the young swans are chased away by their parents to find their own way in life. These birds are easily recognisable as they are predominantly grey in colour, not having developed their white adult plumage or orange beak.

I've heard that there have been quite a few reports of these young swans landing in unsuitable areas recently, and I understand that swans quite regularly land on roads (ouch!) as they mistake them for rivers or canals as they fly over them.

I spoke to Roger from Swan Rescue who explained to me that once the swan had been checked over by a vet they collected it and have placed it with a group of other young and non breeding swans (this is important as it could be attacked if it ventured into the territory of a breeding pair) where it will have chance to rest, feed and build up it's strength before being released onto the River Severn near Worcester.

Winter Visitors

The Gwent Ornithological Society (GOS) sightings page has numerous reports of winter migrants being seen locally; There are lots of small flocks of redwing and fieldfare roving around busily tucking into any berries they can find and birdwatchers at Peterstone have noted good numbers of chaffinch and siskin arriving along with a few brambling. Slightly out of county, a great grey shrike has been seen at Llangorse, and if you are interested in waders and wintering wildfowl, Newport Wetlands Reserve is the place to go.

There are still a few of our summer visitors to be seen; Over the past few days swallow, house martin and wheatear have all been spotted locally. For more details visit www.gwentbirds.org.uk

Walks and Talks

Don't forget that there is an illustrated talk tonight, Saturday 16th October, entitled 'Wildlife of the Shetland Isles'. Come along and enjoy what promises to be a wonderful evening's entertainment from guest speaker Helen Mugridge.

The talk is being held at Goytre Village Hall (just off the A4042 Newport to Abergavenny road) and starts at 7.30pm. Entry, including tea and biscuits is £2. No need to book, just turn up.

On Saturday 30th October there is another talk (same time, venue and details as above). This time the speaker is Paul Bowden who will present 'Birds of the USA, West of The Rockies'. Paul's talk focusses on the birds found in Washington and Oregon and should be well worth turning up for.

New faces are always welcome at GOS events, 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 Gwent Ornithological Society'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.

Mark Stevens