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September 2004 - Newsletter 92 PDF Print E-mail

New Editor Wanted for The Dipper for 2005

“The Dipper” was first published in February 1980, with Stephanie Tyler as Editor.  She continued in this role until 1996, when she and her husband went to Botswana for 3 years.  I took over, temporarily as I thought, until she came back.  However, as Steph has never come back full time, I am still doing it despite trying to get someone else to take it on!

I agreed to continue for this year as no one had come forward by the AGM in January.  The year is almost up and the December issue will be my last.  I have enjoyed the role of Dipper Editor and have learnt a lot in the process.  However I want to move on, to concentrate on the Membership Secretary role and, along with Mark Stevens, promote the society more.

What is required as a Dipper Editor?

  • Frequency: there are 4 issues a year in March, June, September and December.
  • Style: following discussions a few years ago there are some constraints regarding font type, size and justification, but apart from that the world is your oyster!
  • Content: nothing hard and fast but the aim of the newsletter is to keep the membership informed of what is happening within the Society, County and further afield.
  • Software: Familiarity with a word processing package such as Word or a desk-top publishing package.
  • Experience: I had never done anything like this before I took it on in 1996, so past experience is not essential.

I am sure there must be someone out there who would like a new challenge!  Feel free to contact me if you want further information

Helen Jones

BTO News

Jerry Lewis

Survey forms are now being returned, but many still awaited. Please remember that anyone sending BBS details on line will need to let me know and send me a copy of the habitat sheet. Although only about half of the Swallow Feeding squares were taken up, those that participated have indicated how much they enjoyed the visits, and how easy it was. A similar type of survey in the future would be just the way to get started in survey work. Early indications from the Nightjar survey suggest that numbers are slightly up on last year's record total for the Wye Valley/Wentwood areas.

Forthcoming surveys include a second chance for the Winter Gull Roost survey for key sites (no return yet for Llandegfedd Reservoir for last winter) and a random survey of other inland sites. Also, no count was received for the Heronry for 2003, so if anyone has any information please let me know. During the spring quarter of the BTO Hanson Business Challenge, an impressive total of 127 species were seen at the Reservoir. GOS members should log all of their sightings and let the rangers know, so records can be included in future quarters.

The BTO's successful Migration Watch scheme has now combined with BirdTrack, an all year round bird recording scheme to collate large numbers of bird lists. All sightings are combined with survey results, and are used to produce local and national results on the web. Anyone can log on at www.birdtrack.net or via the BTO and RSPB websites (see page 8 for further information). Migration is just about the most fascinating part of ornithology, which is why the BTO has just published Time to Fly, an 184 page book explaining why birds turn up where they do. It condenses the information from the 884 page Migration Atlas (which itself summarizes the data collated from 90 years of bird ringing), on a habitat basis to explain movements of most British species. Time to Fly is available for £4 (incl p & p) from the BTO, either phone Sandra Sparkes on 01842 750050 or send in your order to The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU.

The Ringing Report for 2003 (in the Gwent Bird Report) will detail records of some colour ringed birds sighted in the County. Although some of the more unusual species with colour rings are generally reported, the more common species may not be. There are likely to be a number of colour ringed Cormorants (from Denny Island), Lesser-black Backed and Herring Gulls (from rooftop colonies around the Estuary) and Greylag Geese (from Newport and the Forest of Dean) just waiting to be spotted. All sightings are of value as very detailed pictures of the bird's movements/lifestyles can be built up - Greylags from the Forest of Dean have just been shown to make moult movements to Scotland and back, perhaps the Newport birds will do the same. If you are unsure of where to report a colour ringed or BTO ringed bird, please contact me. The following information is generally required for colour ring sightings: colour of ring(s), inscription and colour (and whether reading top to bottom, or bottom to top), any “: ; /” etc, which leg(s) have which ring(s), date and place. Even if all of the information is not obtained, if may still be possible to identify the bird so please report all sightings.

The Best 2002 Annual Report results have recently been announced.  First was Devon, 2nd was Cambridgeshire, and joint 3rd were Avon, Cheshire & Wirral and Sussex.

Bert Hamar Bursary 2005

As in previous years, the Society would like to award a bursary of up to £100 for an ornithological project in Gwent in memory of Bert Hamar.  The grant is available to GOS members only, and a condition of the grant is that a short article on the project would be written for the Annual Report.  Applications, including details of the project, estimated expenses and any other funding should be sent to Trevor Russell by 15th October.

A small sub-committee will consider applications, and the successful applicant will be announced at the AGM in January.

Newport Wetlands Reserve News

Kevin Dupé, Reserves Manager

It is that quiet time of year again – after the breeding season and before the autumn migration gets fully underway, but there are still interesting things to be found. A good example of this is the discovery by Adrian Hickman of a colony of long-winged coneheads. Yes, I know they sound like weird aliens in a sci-fi spoof, but they are actually a type of cricket and are new to the county. Adrian found them at the Goldcliff Lagoons on 2nd August. Rumour has it that quite a number of Birders in Gwent are turning to invertebrates, particularly moths, for that extra bit of interest (and ticks!). By the time of going to press,  some interesting birds had turned up at Goldcliff – see sightings on pages 6/7)

The Goldcliff Lagoons are looking pretty good right now (mid August), with large flocks of waders – greenshanks, black-tailed godwits, dunlin, up to 200 ringed plovers and a peak count of 12 wood sandpipers. This is a big improvement on this time last year when the prolonged drought made the lagoons hyper-saline, ie more saline than sea water. This would have killed off many of the invertebrates. The difference this year, apart from lots of rain, is that we are now able to move water all the way from Nash Waste Water Treatment Works to the Goldcliff Lagoons – a distance of over 5km. Of course some of that water started off a lot further away in Newport and even Chepstow. So next time you flush your toilet think about the journey that the water will make and how it could be helping us to put ‘freshwater’ onto the Goldcliff Saline Lagoons. If you live in Chepstow or on the Levels in-between, then the water will cross the Reserve twice – once through the pipeline on its way to the sewage works at Nash and then back in the other direction to Goldcliff!

We have a new member of staff. Richie Smith started work as our Part-time Assistant Reserves Manager at the end of July. Richie was previously a Voluntary Warden for over 2 years. He has been busy making improvements to the viewing platforms at Goldcliff – installing hand-rails up the steps, benches, shelves and rails to attach ‘hide-clamps’ to. Our ‘full-time’ Assistant Reserves Manager, Mike Mazzoleni, has been busy making more benches for the Uskmouth reedbeds. There are now 10 benches and many more are planned. They have all been made from timbers washed up on the tide.

Our Open Day was a great success with 504 visitors and plenty of positive feed-back. Our team of Voluntary Wardens did a fantastic job in making sure the event went smoothly. Thanks to GOS and Goldcliff Ringing Group for your contributions to the event.

Plans for the new visitor / environmental education centre are progressing well.  We are currently developing our ideas and estimating costs and timescales for the Project.  Construction of the new building is likely to commence in Spring 2006 with completion early 2007.  However, landscaping of the field around the building may start in 2005.

We recently hosted a visit by several primary school teachers to gauge their thoughts and ideas for the development of educational facilities and programmes on the site.  The day was very successful and we were encouraged by the range of ideas and the general enthusiasm they had for the site.  They came up with ideas covering almost the whole of National Curriculum and were really keen to be able to bring their classes out to the Reserve.  The local Liswerry ‘cluster’ of primary schools plans to set up a web network to follow progress on the new building and share details of visits. Our Education Centre Project Officer, Sue Rice, can be contacted on 01633 232814 or on mobile 07968 838130.

Last year we installed two elver ladders and traps up to the reedbeds at Uskmouth. Unfortunately they were put in a little late in the season and we had no water to let go into the estuary to draw them in. Nevertheless, 15 elvers and small eels used the ladders showing that they did work. This year 627 glass eels have gone up the ladders and into the traps before being released into the reedbeds. I suspect that many others made it up the ladders and then climbed the sluice boards avoiding the traps (I saw some doing exactly that). It is possible that the majority of glass eels that have come through the pipe through the sea-wall and into the ditch which our reedbeds outfall into, have gone straight past our ladders and carried on to the end of the ditch and into Reedbed 2 (the reedbed adjacent to the car park). This reedbed could have large numbers of eels, but is very deep and doesn’t have the shallow-shelf reed edge which would make it ideal for bitterns to feed, therefore we have plans to make a new, very long elver ladder to bring them up to the higher level, bittern-friendly reedbeds.

Lastly, I have news of Adam Rowlands who was Warden here from March 2000 until March 2002, before going to manage RSPB Titchwell in Norfolk. He has just been appointed Senior Site Manger at RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk.

Further to the report above of long-winged coneheads, Steve Williams is currently conducting tetrad based fieldwork for an atlas of grasshoppers, crickets and related insects for the vice county of Monmouthshire.  The recording period for orthoptera in Monmouthshire is generally from late March, when slender groundhopper start to appear, right through to November depending on how cold it gets. Peak orthoptera activity will be from June to September.  Steve is also recording allied insects, earwigs and native cockroaches, and is short of records for the ubiquitous common earwig. Records from any part of the county of any species would help in filling large gaps in coverage. Please include species, date and location (grid reference would help), and send your records to Steve at 8 Snatchwood Terrace, Snatchwood, Abersychan, Pontypool, NP4 7BP or to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Steve expects there to be another two seasons of fieldwork before there is enough data to prepare a meaningful provisional atlas. At the moment he and Adrian HIckman are actively 'tetrad bashing', though a number of other people have supplied records on an occasional basis. He has not confined himself to, say, a recording period of  four years, because it very much depends on the numbers of people supplying records ie the more people the records the shorter the recording period.

Obituary, Colin Bibby, 1948 – 2004

Trevor Russell

The death of Colin Bibby at the age of 55 will be a significant loss to the birding world. He collaborated on three books: Bird Census Techniques (1992) (we have a copy in our Library); Bird Surveys – Expedition Field Techniques (1998) and The Conservation Project Manual (2003). He also produced 50 scientific papers.

He devoted more than 30 years to scientific research and survey work and spent much of his working life at the RSPB then later, at Birdlife International.  Having read Natural Sciences at St John’s College, Cambridge, he started working for the RSPB and helped set up its Beached Birds Survey, a nationwide programme in which volunteers check for evidence of marine pollution by monitoring the mortality among seabirds.

His speciality was rare breeding birds and his PhD thesis on the ecology of the Dartford Warbler led to direct benefits for the species because, unlike other warblers, it does not migrate in the autumn. There are now over 1200 pairs in Britain compared with just 12 after the severe winter of 1962/63. This is partly attributable to better management of lowland heath habitat as a result of the research he carried out for his thesis.

As head of conservation science at the RSPB from 1986 he directed various surveys and research programmes and oversaw the first production of the UK Red Data Book, which identifies bird populations in danger.  Whilst at Birdlife International he played a leading role in shaping the form of research in more than 70 countries – work that often led to better protection for endangered species and habitats. He also established a World Bird Database and engaged in important studies of migratory birds at “staging areas” – the places where they feed intensively in order to refuel for the next legs of their journeys.

In June this year, shortly after having been diagnosed with cancer, Colin Bibby was awarded the RSPB Medal to mark his contribution to bird conservation. He died on August 7th.

Recent Bird Sightings (26th June to 14th September)

Compiled by Helen Jones from information received on the website

Location Date Species & Comments
  June
Wentwood 28/06 2 Crossbill
Wyesham 30/06 Hobby
NWR Goldcliff 30/06 Adult Mediterranean Gull
Llandegfedd Res. 30/06 Wood Sandpiper
  July/August
NWR Goldcliff The Spoonbill present in June continued to be seen up to 16th Aug.

Small numbers of Common Sandpipers between 27th Jun and 12th Aug. with a maximum of 7 on 12th Jul. 

Greenshank present 6th Jul.-31st Aug., with 13 on 12th Aug.

Green Sandpipers present 18th Jul.-293 Aug. with 15 on 6th, 9th and 11th.

Little Egrets regularly seen with a maximum of 26 on 27th Jul. 

Avocetscontinued to be seen until 28th Jul.

Wood Sandpipersseen on several dates 1-23rd Aug. with c12 on 10th.

Small numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits were seen 4-16th Aug. The highest count was 6 on the 12th. 

Ringed Plover present throughout the period with max. of 500 on 18th Aug.

Varying numbers of Black-tailed Godwits with 118 on 30th Aug. 

22 Yellow Wagtails at Goldcliff and Uskmouth on 25th Aug.

  06/07 Hobby, also on 28th, and 3rd and 6th Aug.
  12/07 1st-summer Mediterranean Gull, also juv 7-10th Aug.  Yellow Wagtail, also adult and juv on 27th, 3 on 20th Aug. and singles on 23rd and 28th.
  13/07 Ruddy Shelduck present on several dates up to 12th Aug.
  22/07 1 Knot, 3 on 20th Aug, 4 on 21st, 14 on 28th and 60 on 30th.
24/07 3 Whimbrel, also 2 on 29th and 4 on 11th Aug.
  25/07 1 summer plumage Curlew Sandpiper until 30th.
  03/08 2 Little Stint, 1 on 7th.
  07/08 Marsh Harrier, also on 28th.
  12/08 Ruff
  19/08 3 Fulmar flying down channel
  20/08 8 Sanderling, 3 on 21st.
  23/08 Cuckoo; 2 Garganey;
  29/08 1 Spotted Redshank
  30/08 Temminck’s Stint– 5 previous records, the first in May 1987 and the last in September 2002; 8 Wheatear
  31/08 ? Hen Harrier; 4 Tree Pipit
Peterstone 05/07 4 Black-tailed Godwit, also 10 on 2nd Aug.  1 Common Sandpiper, 3 on 15th and 5 on 2nd Aug; 2 Spotted Redshank.
15/07 1 Greenshank, 3 on 2nd Aug.
02/08 1 Green Sandpiper; 1 Ruff; 1 Merlin; 9 Whimbrel
Llandegfedd Res. Common Sandpipers seen on several dates Jul-Aug, with c15 on 9th Jul.
06/07 1 Green Sandpiper, also on 10th, 12th and 14th. Up to 6 Little Ringed Plover until 14th.
08/07 3 Common Tern. Also 1 Hobby; 1 adult Mediterranean Gull; 1 Wood Sandpiper
09/07 1 Greenshank, 1 also on 10th and 12th Jul, and 9th Aug.
12/07 1 Crossbill
09/08

 

1 Black Tern, 3 on 23rd; flock of 67 Terns, mainly Common; 3 Little Egret, 1 on 15th.
12/08 1 juv Mediterranean Gull
24/08 1 Little Gull, also on 26th, 28th and 30th.

 

Location Date Species & Comments
Abergavenny 10/07 Pair of Common Sandpiper with chicks; Hobby
21/08 Female Mandarin
NWR Uskmouth Ruddy Duck bred – the 1st breeding record for the county was in 2001
13/07 Grasshopper Warbler reeling, also on 20th
20/07 4 Whimbrel, also 2 on 7th and 1 on 21st Aug.
Monmouth 11/08 1 Common Sandpiper
Caerleon 17/08 1 juv Mediterranean Gull; 5 Common Sandpiper
  29/08 1 Green Sandpiper; 2 Greenshank; 3 Common Sandpiper
Collister Pill 28/08 30 Knot; 3 Little Egret; >20 Yellow Wagtail; 3 Wheatear
Magor Pill 28/08 4 Little Egret; 5 Wheatear; 2 Sand Martin
West Pill 28/08 2 Red-legged Partridge
  September (1st – 14th)
Llandegfedd Res. 01/09 2 Sandwich Terns; 1 Common Scoter; Little Gull still present ‘til 3rd
  03/09 8 Black Terns
  06/09 1 adult and 1 juv Little Gull; 1 singing Cetti’s Warbler
  12/09 1 juv Red-necked Phalarope, still present on 13th.  Only 2 previous records, in Nov. 1972 and Aug. 2002
  13/09 1 Common Tern
Peterstone 01/09 1700 Black-headed Gulls; 2 Spotted Flycatchers
NWR Goldcliff Plenty of interest early September.  A Baird’s Sandpiper was reported on the 3rd. There have been 2 previous records, in September 1997 and October 2000.  A juv Pectoral Sandpiper was present from 5th-11th.  There have been 8 previous records, the first in 1963 and the last in 2002.

Curlew Sandpipers present throughout, with 16 on 3rd

Up to 4 Little Stints present until 13th

Greenshank present throughout with 9 on 3rd.

Other waders include Oystercatcher, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Knot (360 on 8th), Turnstone, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank

  03/09 Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper present until 6th, also on 11th; 6 Ruff;
  04/09 Sanderling; Hobby, up to 4 on 8th;
  05/09 12 Yellow Wagtails; 1 Swift; Short-eared Owl, also on 11th and 13th
  06/09 25+ Little Egret flying off to roost
  08/09 2 Tree Pipit
  11/09 1 Fulmar off the point
Wyesham 02/09 1 Hobby
NWR Uskmouth 03/09 Common Scoter; plenty of migrants including 3 Spotted Flycatchers
Bedwas 04/09 1 Swift
  13/09 Hobby
Sugar Loaf 07/09 Couple of late Redstarts still present
Whitson 13/09 1 Hobby

“Description” species  (in bold) are listed above but have not been ratified by the GOS/ WOS /BBRC records panels. Such reports are included here so that you can keep your eyes/ears open and send in records as appropriate.

BirdTrack – a new BTO/RSPB/BirdWatch Ireland initiative, www.birdtrack.net

BirdTrack follows on from the successful Migration Watch project that looked at spring migration in 2002-2004.  It is a year–round online bird recording scheme that will use data from birdwatchers’ records to support species and site conservation at local, national and international levels.  Results produced by BirdTrack will include mapping the migration and movements of birds and the monitoring of scarce birds in Britain and Ireland which are not easily covered by conventional surveys. Very little is known about the timing of arrival and departure of winter visitors, and this is just one area in which BirdTrack will provide useful information.

The success of BirdTrack relies on your birdwatching lists gathered throughout the year. As a contributor you make a note of the birds you see each day, and enter your daily observations on a simple-to-use web page.  Complete lists of birds (all species seen and heard) are preferred because the proportion of lists with a given species provides a good measure of frequency of occurrence that can be used for population monitoring. However, casual records are also useful.  It is hoped that birdwatchers of all abilities will take part in BirdTrack. By encouraging large numbers of volunteers to join in the project they will be able to gather a large amount of unique and fascinating information.

As the scheme develops, the organisers intend to provide a bird recording scheme that birdwatchers can use to store all of their birdwatching records. They will be working closely with county bird recorders to ensure that your records are also available for use at a local level. With your permission, all of your records will automatically be forwarded to the relevant county recorder.

The results are available on the website for everyone to look at - you don’t have to be a BirdTrack recorder. The maps and graphs will be updated every night to show the latest in migration, movements and distribution. There are animated maps showing the arrival and departure of migrants and the seasonal movements of birds. You can view your own records through specially designed features.

An important aspect of BirdTrack is to provide information on some of the scarcer species in Britain and Ireland. Species of particular interest are:

Egyptian Goose Ptarmigan Dunlin Tawny Owl Dartford Warbler
Mandarin Common Quail Snipe Long-eared Owl Wood Warbler
Gadwall Golden Pheasant Woodcock Short-eared Owl Firecrest
Teal Little Grebe Curlew Nightjar Pied Flycatcher
Pintail Great Crested Grebe Redshank Kingfisher Bearded Tit
Garganey Hobby Greenshank Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Willow Tit
Shoveler Water Rail Common Sandpiper Rock Pipit Crested Tit
Pochard Spotted Crake Mediterranean Gull Nightingale Twite
Goldeneye Avocet Rock Dove Whinchat Hawfinch
Red-breasted Merganser Little Ringed Plover Rose-ringed Parakeet Ring Ouzel  
Goosander Ringed Plover Barn Owl Cetti's Warbler  
Ruddy Duck Golden Plover Little Owl Grasshopper Warbler  

For scarce species such as Woodcock, Water Rail, Hawfinch and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, they will be building up a picture of their distribution throughout the year and would like to receive records throughout the year.  For others they are more interested in records from the breeding season, for example Pochard and Dunlin. For sensitive rare breeding birds they will not be producing any maps but would still welcome your records for the database.

Records gathered through BirdTrack will also contribute casual records to the next British and Irish Atlas Project. Sites are mapped at a 10km level, so the exact location of scarce species will not be revealed.

Holidays in Southern Spain

Mike Pointon

Wherever and whatever type of holiday we arrange, we inevitably turn it into a birdwatching event, so when we booked a walking holiday in southern Spain in June 2003, we ensured that our binoculars were safely packed.

The delightful hotel, owned by a British couple, was in the foothills of the Sierra Almudian in eastern Spain. It was in the tiny hamlet of Quatretondeta (Alicante) where there was not even a shop!  We stayed on a full board basis, which included wine with evening meal. We were taken on six guided walks during our memorable week’s stay.  The weather was hot and sunny all week, sometimes a little too hot for walking.

Our birdwatching was well tolerated by the other members of the group with many showing a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the area.  Birdwatching was not easy, as there were times when the walking had to take precedence.  However, we managed to get excellent views of Golden Eagle and saw a pair of Bonnelli’s Eagles near their nest sight, high on a rocky outcrop. To our surprise, we saw Trumpeter Finch feeding young near the hotel. There are few places in mainland Europe that you will encounter this species.  We saw or heard Wryneck almost every day as at least one pair bred in an olive grove across from the hotel.  With their long drawn out whistling notes, Spotless Starling was new for us.  The walking was magnificent, through olive and cherry orchards, river valleys and pine forests.

We were so impressed with our first walking holiday that we booked another for May 2004, again in Spain. This time we headed for Andalucia in the village of Canillas de Albaida in the foothills of the Sierra Tejeda, some 20 kilometres from Mediterranean Sea.  The hotel, again owned by a British team, is just outside the village in a superb setting facing south overlooking a valley.

Again the walking was in a great location with the backdrop of rugged mountains. There were five escorted walks through villages, pines woods, olive groves, river valleys and mountain tracks.  One day was spent at the magnificent Alhambra Palace in Granada. There are birds to be seen here too!  Birds seen on this year’s walks included Griffon Vulture, Bonelli’s, Short-toed and Golden Eagles, Honey Buzzard, Black Wheatear, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Bee-eater, Sardinian and Melodious Warblers and Thekla Lark. Short-toed Treecreeper bred in the hotel ground.

Monmouthshire Show August 26th

Trevor Russell

GOS was represented at the Monmouthshire Show, sharing the CCW marquee with the Bat Group, the Wye Valley AONB and other environmental groups.  The fine weather attracted what is believed to be a record crowd in excess of 20,000 and is regarded as the biggest and best one-day show in Wales.

About 50 visitors took part in our Bird Quiz which included 3 Swan species, 4 Owl species and 5 raptors, among others. A more difficult “Dude’s Quiz” was designed to stretch the more experienced birder. Both quizzes generated lots of discussion and explanation and the CCW marquee as a whole, gained second prize as the Best Stand in Show.

Many thanks to the six helpers who gave valuable assistance during the day.

Committee Commentary for the August 2004 Meeting

Trevor Russell

The main news of the meeting was that Helen has confirmed that she will be standing down as Editor of The Dipper after the December 2004 edition. The Dipper is an important feature of the Society as it provides a means of keeping the membership informed of news and events. There must be someone amongst our 400-plus members who can take on the role. If anyone is interested in picking up the Editorial baton please contact Helen on 029 2069 1027 for more details.

Other news included agreement to send a £35 donation to the RSPB for their “What’s Going Wrong With Our Woodlands?” appeal

Following a recent survey, a Management Plan for Goytre House Wood has been drawn up. It was observed that there is a need to regenerate trees and many self-seeded oaks were found. Some of these will be sleeved to protect them. Ash will also be planted whilst we try to eradicate Rhododendrons and Sycamores.  Because we have prevented cattle grazing through the wood an orchid has been found!

The Birds of Gwent Project Team is making progress in planning the new publication and is at the stage of considering different sample page layouts.

The Annual Report 2004 will not be available by the required date of September 25th. The Editor states that it will be available in October.

The restoration of the GOS Annual Dinner was proposed. Discussion concluded that we should get a measure of support at the Indoor meeting on September 25th before any further work is done.

The composition of the GOS Committee was discussed and it was agreed to leave the number of members as they are. This means that at the AGM in January we will be looking to replace 4 Committee members who are due to retire by rotation at the end of 2004. Any interested persons should contact Trevor Russell for details or watch for further details in the December edition of The Dipper

Appeal for New Committee Members for 2005

In addition to the appeal for a new Dipper Editor at the end of this year, 4 Committee Members retire by rotation.  If you would like to join the Committee and influence the way your Society is run, please contact Trevor Russell for more details.

We meet just 6 times a year at the White Hart Inn, Llangibby, from 7:30 – 10pm approx. We currently have only 3 lady members, so nominations from the fairer sex would be particularly welcomed!  If you would like to come along to either of our next meetings on October 14th and /or November 18th just to see what goes on – without any commitment –let me know and turn up!  Alternatively, why not give it a trial for a year to see whether it appeals to you?

All post holders in the Society are elected on an annual basis. If you feel you might be able to do any of the jobs listed on page 12, you are welcome to put your name forward for consideration at the AGM in January.  Please contact Trevor Russell for more details.

SNAP! Photographic competition 2004 – Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (BGCBC), with support from the Countryside Council for Wales, are running a Photographic Competition again this year to celebrate the rich biodiversity resources of the county.  This competition is open to everyone to join from all ages.  BGCBC hope that as many people as possible will take part to ensure that it is exciting and varied.

Biodiversity quite simply means “the variety of living things”.  It is the rich variety of plants and animals together with the places or habitats where they live.  In Blaenau Gwent, we are fortunate to have rich diversity of habitats, and a wide range of plants and animals, many of which are of national and international importance, because of their declining status.

BGCBC want you to go out and look carefully at the biodiversity of your local area and take photos.  This may include photos of priority habitats in the County Borough such as ponds, blanket bogs, heathland, wildflower meadows, and ancient woodland.  Or you may prefer to capture a particular species such as a bluebell, lapwing or even the common frog on camera.

Every species is dependent on others, and we ourselves depend on a complex web of life to survive.  If the web of life is disrupted, the health of the environment is disrupted.

The competition was very successful last year and the standard of entry was extremely high.  It is hoped that this high standard can be improved and that even more people enter this year.  There is a range of exciting prizes on offer.

Children do not need to travel far from their homes.  They can take photos of the biodiversity within their own backyards if for instance; there are wild flowers, a pond that attracts frogs and toads, or a bird table that attracts a range of wild birds.

The closing date for the competition is 15th October 2004.  Prizes will be presented at a prestigious award ceremony to be held in the Assembly Room at Bedwellty House on 12th November 2004.  Winning entries will also be displayed at a special exhibition.

BTO/RSPB BirdWeb

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have launched ‘BirdWeb’. This on-line initiative will link together a wide range of bird surveys, their results and information on the changing fortunes of UK’s birds. In particular, it will allow members of the public and more skilled birdwatchers alike to become involved in a wide range of bird surveys.

BirdWeb has a home page within each of the BTO (http://www.bto.org/birdweb) and RSPB (http://www.rspb.org.uk/science/birdweb) web sites. A development of BirdWeb is that Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) recorders can now enter their data on-line, while anyone can find out the results.  Linked to the home page are other sections giving a summary list of surveys in which people can get involved, and survey results. More and more surveys, schemes and information will be added to BirdWeb over time.

In practice, BirdWeb is an index of surveys and information. People who want to get involved or simply to find out more are taken to survey-specific pages on one of our organisation's websites - for example, Big Garden Bird Watch is on the RSPB website, while BBS is on the BTO site.

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a computer at home, you can still have a go as most Public Libraries now provide free computer access.  Check this out at your local library.

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