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27 March 2010 - Herons Hounded Out PDF Print E-mail

Most readers will probably be unaware that a colony of herons have nested for years at a quiet spot on the banks of the River Usk barely a mile from Newport City Centre. However it now sadly appears that the Pillmawr heronry has been deserted due to disturbance following the creation of a new cycleway.

I'm a keen cyclist myself and think that the cycleway is a great facility, but what a pity that such a valuable wildlife site has been sacrificed to provide it. With a bit more consideration the people of Newport could have had the new cycleway and still kept the herons – magnificent birds that we can all recognise and love to see.

It's a real shame because this unfortunate event could easily have been avoided; When Gwent Ornithological Society (GOS) heard of the cycleway plan they pointed out that human disturbance is a major threat to nesting herons, especially during the early part of the breeding season. However, these concerns were completely ignored on the strength of an environmental assessment which naively concluded that disturbed herons would simply move to nest in nearby trees!

Needless to say, this didn't happen and the herons have now deserted the site.....If only the local expertise of GOS had been heeded.

I'm not sure how feasible it would have been to re route a section of the cycleway to avoid the heronry, but having visited the area I think it could have been achieved without a great deal of difficulty.

I do hope you enjoy using the cycleway – though I suspect that you would have enjoyed it even more if the herons were still there.

Biking Birder

Gary Prescott is a man on a mission. He has undertaken to spend 2010 cycling around Britain clocking up over 5,000 miles visiting every RSPB and WWT reserve. Whilst Gary hopes to see in excess of 250 bird species on his travels, his main aim is to raise money for three charities; the aforementioned RSPB and WWT, along with Asthma UK.

To find out more about Gary's journey and read his blog visit www.bikingbirder.co.uk

Better still, Gary will be riding into town on Saturday April 3rd and heading for Newport Wetlands Reserve. Pop down to see him if you can, I'm sure he would appreciate it.

Don't Forget tonight's illustrated talk at Goytre Village Hall (Saturday 27th), when Terry Bond will be talking about the birds of Scandinavia. Terry likes to head North for his holidays, and will undoubtedly make us all envious with his pictures of great grey shrikes, nutcrackers and Siberian jays.

Goytre Village Hall is situated just off the A4042 Newport to Abergavenny road (SO 323 046) and the talk starts at 7.30pm. Entry, including tea and biscuits is £1.50.

New faces are always welcome at GOS events – For more details visit www.gwentbirds.org.uk or give me a call on the number below.

This is the last of the spring programme of illustrated talks. There are more treats lined up for later in the year and some great guided walks coming up – I'll keep you posted.

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