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June 2006 - Newsletter 99 PDF Print E-mail

Cor! What a scorcher!

The wait is over. Apologies all but here, finally, is the ‘June’ Dipper.

Whilst you have been sitting there, plotting my untimely demise and gently simmering in the heat wave, I’m afraid I have been swanning around the county trying to find birds (when that pesky interference called employment hasn’t intervened). You see, this year I have set myself the, ever so slightly perverse, task of seeing as many species as possible within the county. County year-listing (as this ridiculous pursuit is known) is at best, self-defeating, bordering on the utterly pointless, but it does get you out and about and ensures you visit every corner of the county. Despite being out of action for two weeks in late May, I have so far bagged 156 species including one or two goodies, however, this sort of quest brings into sharp focus those birds that are proving difficult to see. My real nemesis this summer has been Turtle Dove; it would appear that the species is bordering on extinction in Gwent and Wales, a very sad state of affairs, for both the dove and me.

Unfortunately, a heavy birding schedule does rather restrict my ability to polish off the Dipper, so sorry once again and here it is…

Darryl Spittle

The submission date for the September 2006 Dipper is Friday 08 September please send any contributions, enquiries, requests or feedback to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Announcements

Situations Vacant

Kitchen Help Needed!

We want to establish a rota for help in the kitchen. It’s very straightforward and help will be available; you will not be expected to do it on your own. Mary will organise the session on September 23rd and looks forward to talking to volunteers.

If anyone is interested, please contact her at that meeting, or call 01600 716266, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A Gentle Reminder for next year

When posting information to the ‘Gwent Sightings’ webpage during the breeding season (mid April – mid August for most species), please refrain from advertising the whereabouts of rare breeding species, or those susceptible to persecution. If you find a species and are in any doubt as to whether you should publicise it’s occurrence, please contact the county recorder (see page 16 for details).

Particular care should be taken before reporting breeding raptors or Schedule 1 species on the website. There are still people that would rather see a poisoned or shot Peregrine as opposed to a live one, and yet more that would like a clutch of Avocet eggs hidden in their loft as opposed to hatching out in the nest. All records should, of course, be sent to the county recorder at the end of the year but please remember the website is open to all.

Committee Commentary

SEWBReC

At the April meeting the committee learned that the sub-committee dealing with the terms and conditions for joining with SEWBReC (South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre) had made good progress and, in conjunction with SEWBReC, were at a stage where a draft Service Level Agreement could be presented for discussion with the full Committee. Once all the details have been agreed the Agreement will be presented to the full membership (AGM or EGM) for adoption.

M4 Relief Road

The proposed route of the M4 Relief Road (which may cut through six SSSIs) has still not been announced by the Welsh Assembly Government, presumably to stifle discussion. The CALM Alliance (Campaign Against the Levels Motorway) has written to WAG and issued a press release.

Newport Wetlands Reserve

Flood relief work is to be carried out on the sea wall at the Newport Wetlands Reserve which is likely to cause disturbance. Records of breeding waders are still required.

Birds of Gwent and Annual Report

The publication date of the Birds of Gwent book is likely to be delayed until later in the year. Most species reports have now been completed and peer review is underway.

Meanwhile the Annual Report 2005 is progressing well. Under the new, joint editorship of Verity Picken and Chris Field, it will be interesting to see how the changes which they propose to introduce, are received.

New Vice Chairman

Following the resignation of Jeff Fisher as Vice Chairman late last year, due to pressure of his promotional work with Oxfam, Dave Brassey offered to step into his shoes and this was accepted by the Committee. Dave’s nomination will be put to the membership at the next AGM, where, if accepted, he will be immediately promoted to the position of Chairman following the retirement, after his 5-year stint, of the present Chairman, Andrew Baker.

Trevor Russell, Secretary (01600 716266, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Summer Arrivals

The following table lists the first dates that our regular summer migrants were first reported on the GOS website (www.gwentbirds.org.uk). Most species arrival dates were pretty much as expected, however, Cuckoo was rather early whilst Sand Martin and Pied Flycatcher a little later than usual. Given the number of wintering individuals in the county (a sign of a globally warmed Gwent?), it is now very difficult to discern the first appearance of migrant Common Sandpipers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. More worrying is the complete lack of Turtle Dove or Ring Ouzel; neither had been reported in the county this spring.

Species Date Location
Hobby 1st May Magor
Little Ringed Plover 25th March Newport Wetlands Reserve
Cuckoo 3rd April Newport Wetlands Reserve
Swift 24th April Monmouth
Sand Martin 23rd March Gobion
Swallow 26th March Newport Wetlands Reserve
House Martin 3rd April Usk
Tree Pipit 5th April Wentwood
Yellow Wagtail 5th April Llandegfedd Reservoir
White Wagtail 19th March Gobion
Redstart 15th April Mynydd Henllys
Whinchat 22nd April Newport Wetlands Reserve
Wheatear 13th March Newport Wetlands Reserve
Grasshopper Warbler 15th April Newport Wetlands Reserve
Sedge Warbler 15th April Newport Wetlands Reserve
Reed Warbler 15th April Newport Wetlands Reserve
Lesser Whitethroat 15th April Newport Wetlands Reserve
Whitethroat 12th April Peterstone Gout
Garden Warbler 22nd April Usk
Wood Warbler 29th April Sugar Loaf
Willow Warbler 28th March Ynysfro Reservoir
Spotted Flycatcher 7th May Llangybi
Pied Flycatcher 29th April Sugar Loaf

Membership News

Membership Update

As of 17th June, membership categories have risen to 319, including a new family and adult membership in the NP13 area, adult memberships at NP15 and 25 and another family at NP44,

New Gates at Llandegfedd Reservoir

New gates have been installed along the approach road to the Fishermen’s car park at the north end of Llandegfedd Reservoir.  This has become necessary due to increasing levels of drug abuse, vandalism and antisocial behaviour.  The resulting change of access is:

1st March - 31st October, gates will be closed, but unlocked, from 6am to 1 hour after sunset.

1st November – 28th February, access to key holders only.  The key already issued to some GOS members will open these new gates.

If you want a key, they are available from Helen Jones by post.  Current cost is £1 plus SAE.

This development has become necessary to protect the site, so please cooperate with Dwr Cymru and keep the gates shut/locked as appropriate.

Maps and grid references

You will be aware that we use grid references to identify locations of meeting points for outdoor events and they are desirable when people submit records.  If you are unfamiliar with maps and grid references, a selection of Ordnance Survey leaflets are available from Helen Jones at indoor meetings or by post on receipt of an A5 size SAE with 2nd class postage of 23p for up to 2 leaflets or 37p for 3 or 4 leaflets:

  • Introduction to Maps
  • Map reading made easy peasy
  • Map reading made easy
  • Advanced map reading made easy

Also, a link to an Ordnance Survey explanation of grid references is available on the outdoor programme page on the GOS website.

Maps relevant to bird watching in Gwent are:

Landranger (1 inch to 1 mile, 2cm to 1km)

  • 161 Abergavenny & the Black Mountains
  • 162 Gloucester & Forest of Dean area
  • 171 Cardiff and Newport

Outdoor Leisure/Explorer (2 inch to 1 mile, 4cm to 1km)

  • 13 Brecon Beacons eastern area
  • 14 Wye Valley and Forest of Dean
  • 152 Newport & Pontypool
  • 166 Rhondda and Merthyr Tydfil

Helen Parry Jones, Membership Secretary 029 20691027, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Your records wanted

Receiving some records early would greatly help the Report editors in their efforts to get the Annual Report out in good time so why not use one or two of the long summer evenings ahead to write up and submit records of the birds you’ve seen so far this year?  There’ll be less to do next January!

Emailed submissions welcome

If you prefer not to use the official GOS spreadsheet to submit your records there are other, perhaps simpler, ways to send them in.  Records submitted by email in Word or as a spreadsheet are welcomed – either as an attachment or in the main body of the email - but please, please could you follow a consistent format.

We need the species name, the number seen, the date, the place, and if wished, a comment.  Please start a new row or line for each record, entering each item of data (species name etc) in separate cells in a Word table (or separated by a comma or a tab stop in a Word document, or in different cells in a spreadsheet).  It does not matter if you start a record with the date, the place or the species name but whichever order you choose please follow it for all other records.  It then takes us only a few minutes to transfer these records to a combined spreadsheet which we can analyze and use to pull out tables or monthly maxima.  If, however, one record starts with the species name, but the following record starts with the date, & the third with the place etc, every single bit of data has to be re-typed into our spreadsheet – a mammoth task.

Acceptable example of Word table - each row should contain all data for one (and only one!) record – please do not use any headings

Uskmouth 30th April Ring-necked Duck 1 on pool to the west of the long pool behind the lighthouse
St Bride’s 1st May Whimbrel 20+  
Uskmouth 2nd May Whimbrel 16 flying up channel
Goldcliff 1st May Scaup 1  

If you have several records for Uskmouth (or for the same date etc) you may, if wished, leave the cells below blank as shown here:

Uskmouth 30th April Ring-necked Duck 1 on pool to the west of the long pool behind the lighthouse
  2nd May Whimbrel 16 flying up channel
    Curlew 12  
  4th May Bar-tailed Godwit 35  
St Bride’s 1st May Whimbrel 20+  
Goldcliff   Scaup 1  

If the same data were submitted as follows, we would have a nightmare job on our hands:

Nightmare example - do NOT follow!

Whimbrel 20+ St Bride’s 1st May  
Uskmouth 2nd May Whimbrel 16 flying up channel  
1st May            Goldcliff Scaup 1  
Ring-necked Duck 1 on next pool along to the west of the long pool behind the lighthouse at Uskmouth on 30th April    

Although records submitted in Word separated by a comma or tab stop look messy (see two-line examples below) it will be easy for us to transfer them into our spreadsheet as the name, number, place, date & comment are in the same order on a new line for each record.

30th April,Ring-necked Duck,1,Uskmouth,on pool to the west of the long pool behind the lighthouse

1st May,Whimbrel,20+,St Bride’s

30th April        Ring-necked Duck    1          Uskmouth       on pool to the west of the long pool behind the lighthouse

1st May                       Whimbrel        20+     St Bride’s

If we receive the records entered in consistent order we can deal with about 200 in the same time as it takes to retype just three - so your help in this matter will be very much appreciated.

The Society still accepts paper records of course – receiving these, too, in instalments is equally helpful as entering all this data is very time-consuming.  The GOS web page is meant for communicating interesting sightings to other members and is not designed to accept formal reports so please email your records as well as posting them on the website.

All records should be sent to the society’s Recorder, Chris Jones at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Photographs

We are constantly on the lookout for sharp photos of birds taken in Gwent in the year of the Report – and the more unusual the bird the better of course!  Photos of rarities are always welcome even if they’re less than pin-sharp.  If digital cameras are used it helps if photos are taken on maximum resolution (most pixels) and lowest compression ratio (see camera handbook) and it goes without saying that a camera with an image stabiliser and lots of megapixels makes a big difference.

If you have any photographs for the 2005 Report please contact Chris Field on 01291 673181 as soon as possible – it may still be possible to include them.

Field Trip Reports

Sirhowy & Rhymney Valleys – 30th April

A very well led walk by Al Venables on the new boundary between Gwent and Glamorgan.  Good turnout and the weather was fine. A good number of woodland species seen and everyone had a good morning’s birding.

Birds seen on the walk included: Dipper, Grey and Pied Wagtail, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker plus Green and Great spotted, Nuthatch and Treecreeper, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Dunnock, Robin, Siskin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, nine Crossbills, Linnet, Song and Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, House Martin, Swallow and Swift, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Jay and Buzzard.

Steven Butler

Nagshead RSPB Reserve – 20th May

After a week of wet weather it was no surprise that only four members were at the Nagshead Reserve for the guided walk. John and Anne Thitchener would be our guides for the walk; John being a volunteer at the Reserve had planned a route which would hopefully take us to the ‘hotspots’ of the wood.

We had soon seen Great Spotted Woodpecker together with all the usual common woodland species. A Song Thrush was in good voice as we walked deeper into the wood, where we had excellent views of Pied Flycatchers at a nest-box. A lone Redstart was found and watched for some time. Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warblers were regular if not plentiful. A Wood Warbler was finally tracked down by its song but even though it sounded within touching distance none of the watchers were able to locate it to view.

As we headed back to the Reserve centre, noting more Pied Flycatchers, the rain began falling again, to end what had been a well led walk with a limited sightings list but a welcome foray into a ‘local’ reserve in Gloucestershire.

Species noted: Wren, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Buzzard, Greenfinch.

Keith Roylance

Angiddy Valley – 27th May

Around 13 members met Steph Tyler and dog at the designated place above Tintern.  This was certainly an eye-opener for myself and the other GOS Members, because of Steph’s expertise on plants, birds and wildlife in general. She kept us interested throughout the morning pointing out various flora and fauna and answering any questions we raised.  We very lucky to complete the walk before the rain started.

The species seen on the walk included: Dippers, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Wren, Goldcrest, Mistle and Song Thrush, Robin, Nuthatch, Blackbird and House Sparrow, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pied Wagtail, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Skylark, Mallard, Chaffinch, House Martin, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Starling, Swallow, Greenfinch, Raven, Curlew, Yellowhammer. Sadly, we neither sighted nor heard Turtle Dove.

Steven Butler

Goytre Wood – 04th June

Once again the annual Goytre walk came round and was very fruitful. We seem to get more species with each passing year. Led by Alan Williams and Rob Moeller, the birds seen during this particular visit were:

Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collard Dove, Cuckoo, Swift, all three Woodpeckers, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Grey and Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song and Mistle Thrush, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie,  Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

60 species in all, a new record!

Steven Butler

Gwent Wildlife Trust Courses

Booking is essential for all courses as places are limited. Tel: 01600 740358 Fax: 01600 740299 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • Lichens: Thursday 14th September, 10am-4pm, Pentwyn Farm Leader: Ray Woods. A training day covering the diversity of lichens, identification skills and the recognition and management of important lichen habitats. £10 (non-members £25).
  • Fungi: Monday 18th September, 10am-4pm, Pentwyn Farm Leader: Sheila Spence. Hands on learning - recognise and identify species of fungi by smell, touch and shapes, using keys and field guides. £5 (non-members £15).

BTO News

Nest Records

As I write the breeding season is well underway and it may be timely to remind everyone of the importance of the national Nest Record Card collection.  Each record card contains details of a single breeding attempt with information on habitat, nest location and nest contents noted.  The most valuable cards record several visits at key times (so that clutch and brood sizes are known), and details of the outcome.  If inspections are undertaken with care, there is no risk of desertion (a common concern from those with no nesting experience), but care does need to be taken to reduce the risk of predators subsequently finding the nest (by making sure that screening vegetation is not displaced or trampled), and that the adult birds are quickly allowed to return to incubate/brood.  

The Nest Record Report for 2005 has just been completed (and sent to all those that have contributed to the Scheme), and shows that the total number of cards has continued to increase since the Scheme began in 1929.  Some 30,000 cards were submitted in 2005, top species was Blue Tit with 4711, and there were several species with just a single card, including Hawfinch (a local nest found by Steve Roberts).  Although the overall trend in card numbers is upward, those for open nesting passerines (Thrushes, Warblers, Finches etc) are generally declining.  Because a range of species are involved, this is not thought to be due to declining numbers of the birds, but more likely attributable to a fall in the number of experienced nest finders.  This is a worrying trend as the nesting information is an essential part of the BTO's population monitoring - if declines are noted for certain species (from surveys such as the BBS), it is often the Nest Record data that indicates where the cause may be.  Some examples of factors causing declines include decreasing clutch or brood sizes and increased failure rates - all of which are calculated from the Nest Record Cards.

Every nest history is valued, and adds to our knowledge in helping to identify the causes of change, so, next time you find a Robin, Blackbird or Swallow nest in your garden fill out a Record Card and send it off to the BTO.  You could contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a starter pack.  When the indoor meetings start I will have a supply of leaflets explaining more about the Scheme, so please pick one up if you are interested.

A survey over the coming winter (Oct - Feb) needing help is the wintering Lapwing & Golden Plover (mainly across the Levels) and aiming to produce new population estimates.  Next breeding season (2007), there are plans for breeding Ringed & Little-ringed Plover, Great-crested Grebe and Cormorant surveys, although some are still dependent on getting organisational funding.  If you are interested in helping with any survey give me a ring 01873 855091 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Even if you are unable to help with surveys you can still keep your birding records on Birdtrack and also provide useful data for monitoring purposes. Visit www.birdtrack.net for more information.

Jerry Lewis, BTO Representative

News from Newport Wetlands

It has been a spring of great anticipation and crashing falls.  The high water levels in later winter, coupled with some intensive field management just prior to the breeding season gave us hope that the reserve would be better for breeding lapwings than ever before.  The fields looked great!  Our hopes were quickly dashed when we discovered an immediate drop in numbers by about 15 pairs over last year.  All the birds west of China Basin Lane had “disappeared”, leaving us with only about 35 pairs on the rest of the site.  We were only slightly consoled when they were re-discovered about 3km away, just across the Usk, near St Brides. The presence of a partial albino that we’d seen in our “missing” birds in previous years gave us the clue that these were probably “our” birds.

The remaining birds then settled down to survive and appallingly cold and wet spring extremely well, and a large proportion got through to hatching, raising our hopes again.  These were then dashed by foxes, which not only removed most of the lapwing chicks from the Goldcliff lagoons but “did” for the 4 pairs of avocets too.  On the grasslands the chicks didn’t have fox problems – because a buzzard got there first. I watched it shuttle back and forth with chicks between the fields and its nest, with barely an hour between “runs”.  It doesn’t take much maths to work out that it wasn’t long before it had finished the lot.  We may fledge a chick or two from very late birds, but all in all it ranks as a deeply depressing year!  Reports of a juvenile bearded tit were some consolation and Chris Hurn heard a possible corncrake calling at night in the hay field on the Goldcliff lagoons on the 23rd June.  This got us very excited, but sadly it wasn’t heard again to enable it to be confirmed.

The premature finish to the breeding season has allowed an early start to be made on the Open Day arrangements.  It promises to be bigger than ever, with the RSPB’s 3D cinema and an Optics stall adding to the general mayhem.  We have had an unprecedented number of applications for stalls this year and have been scratching for space – especially parking space to cater for everyone who wants to attend.  Let’s hope the weather is kind.

The Sea defence improvements will not be affecting the Goldcliff lagoons this autumn.  This bit of the work has been re-scheduled for 2007. So this summer’s waders will still be “available”.  EA have been talking to us about “improvements” there and there are some exciting possibilities, but don’t think in terms of hides – they are still a non-starter I’m afraid!  This year EA will be finishing the improvements they started in 2002 between the reedbeds and Goldcliff.  This will include raising the seawall alongside the pill.  We have discussed trying to make this wall provide the birds in the pill with better “protection” from people, so they can be seen without their being disturbed.  Those ideas are still at the formative stage but may be acted on.

This is a “valedictory” Dipper entry as I am leaving the reserve at the end of July to make my own way in the world.  We don’t know who is replacing me here, but as I am staying on in the locality I will still be keeping in touch with the site and everyone associated with it.  I hope it continues to fulfil it’s amazing potential.  Bitterns next … or corncrakes?

Tony Pickup

I’m sure we would all like to wish Tony all the best with his new ventures and thank him for his efforts put in at the Newport Wetland Reserve over the last few years. Bitterns and Corncrakes? Now we’re talking!

Recent Sightings: March – MAY

The following is a summary of reports posted to the ‘Recent Reports’ page on our website  (www.gwentbirds.org.uk).  ‘Notable’ records (i.e. those relating to species recorded infrequently within the county and requiring a description to be sent to the county recorder) are in bold type. All areas within the NWR and associated areas of foreshore are treated as a single location. Records relating to rare breeding species, or those susceptible to persecution are omitted.  Please note that the inclusion of a record within the following summary does not imply official acceptance and all records should be forwarded to the county recorder.

When posting information to the ‘Gwent Sightings’ page, please refrain from advertising the whereabouts of rare breeding species, or those susceptible to persecution. Please remember that the information on the website is open to all.

Thanks go to the following observers who all contributed records: Brian Adcock, Nigel Addecott, Richard Allcard, Mick Bailey, Roger Beck, Martin Bell, John Bennett, Alex Bevan, Nicholas Beswick, ‘Billy’, ‘Bird Forum Members’, Sam Bosanquet, Julian Branscombe, Dave Brassey, Paul Bridges, Ruth Brown, Steven Butler, Barry Catlin, Tom Chinnick, Maurice Chown, Craig Constance, John Davies, Steve Davies, Rob de Borde, Alan Dowson, Kevin Dupe, Diane Elliot, Gerry English, John Evans, Ray Evans, Jeff Fisher, T. Forster, John Gale, Nigel Garside, Andrew Grant, Jeff Hall, Tim Hall, Ken Hardy, Kevin Hewitt, ‘Holly’, Barbara Howard, Judd Hunt, Jackie Huybs, Barry Ingram, Stephen Jackson, Chris Jenkins, Mal Jenkins, Andrew Jones, Chris Jones, Hadyn Jones, Keith Jones, Martyn Jones, Andrew King, Llandegfedd Rangers, ‘Little Dai’, Allen Lloyd, ‘Malcolm’, David Maile, Steven Millard, Wayne Morris, Pete Newling, Bob Normansell, Jeff O’Reilly, John O’Sullivan, Dave Owen, TJ Palmer, Lee Parsons, Steve Parsons, Martin Peers, Andy Phillips, Luke Phillips, Verity Picken, Arthur Pitcher, Jackie Pointon, Mike Pointon, ‘Polly’, Mark Poulton, Mike Powell, Roger Price, Alan Richards, J. Richards, Karl Richards, ‘Robin’, Harry Roscoe, Keith Roylance, Trevor Russell, Gary Saunders, Eric Small, Ian Smith, Rebecca Smith, Darryl Spittle, Gareth Stamp, Ed Stevens, Mark Stevens, Anthony Swann, ‘Ian T’, Howard Taffs, Mike Tidley, Brian Thomas, GT Thorne, Paul Turner, Eddie Wang, Bethan Warburton, Matthew Warburton, Mike Warburton, Chris West, Julie West, Paul Wilkins, Steve Williams, Leyton Williams-Davies, Chris Willis, John Wilson and Omar Yasseen.

  • Red-necked Grebe – The long-staying individual at Llandegfedd Reservoir was present until at least 24th April (many observers).
  • Black-necked Grebe – The trio at Ynysfro Reservoirs stayed until 29th March, having left Gwent they were later relocated at Lisvane Reservoir in Cardiff (many observers).
  • Fulmar – Three reports were logged: four from Goldcliff Point on 28th March, six on 19th May and a single bird from Peterstone on 28th May.
  • Manx Shearwater – Just one report, of 12 birds off Goldcliff Point on 19th May.
  • Storm Petrel – Two ‘possibles’ were seen off Goldcliff Point on 20th May and a single was noted off Peterstone on 28th May (J. Bennett & C. Jones).
  • Gannet – A maximum of 18 were seen off Goldcliff Point on 28th March. Others were seen from this site on 19th and 20th May, the only other sighting was from off the NWR on 1st May.
  • Bittern – Just one report, of a single bird at the NWR on 6th April (N. Garside).
  • Little Egret – Reported from seven sites, the majority at various points along the estuary.
  • Great White Egret – Once again reports were logged of this UK rarity. Three sightings were noted from the NWR on 13th and 16th March and 6th May. As with all recent encounters, the birds were only seen for short periods (usually in flight) and didn’t hang about for others to see (K. Jones, R. Normansell, J. Pointon, M. Pointon & T. Swann).
  • Spoonbill – One or two birds were reported from the NWR from 2nd to 29th May, however, the ages of individuals and colour-rings seemed to suggest three or four birds were involved (many observers).
  • White-fronted Goose – A single bird was seen at the NWR on 8th April (C. Constance).
  • Barnacle Goose – Single birds were seen at Llandegfedd Reservoir, Dingestow and Bulmore Lakes. As with the above species, all records probably relate to feral birds.
  • Brent Goose – Two reports were logged: two birds (not racially identified) were seen off the NWR on 30th March and a single bernicla was at Collister Pill on 14th May.
  • Egyptian Goose – One, of unknown origin, was present at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 6th April.
  • Ruddy Shelduck – One was present at Bulmore Lakes on 7th May.
  • Shelduck hybrid – A bird thought to be a Shelduck x Ruddy Shelduck hybrid was at the NWR from at least the 1st to 4th May, presumably the same bird was later reported from the other side of the estuary at Northwick Warth.
  • Garganey – Between one and three males were seen at the NWR between the 8th and 15th May.
  • Ring-necked Duck – A male was seen at the NWR on 30th April, what was presumably the same bird then appeared, a week later, at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire (D. Owen).
  • Scaup – Three males were seen at Sluice Farm on 1st April and a single male took up residence at the NWR between 27th April and 4th May.
  • Aythya hybrids – At least two were present at the NWR during the period. The female with the obvious facial blaze was also seen at Slimbridge on at least the 2nd and 3rd May (where she created quite a stir whilst briefly considered to be a Redhead) before returning to the NWR.
  • Common Scoter – Flocks of seven and four were reported from Goldcliff Point and the NWR on 28th and 30th March.
  • Goldeneye – Sightings were logged from the NWR, Brynmawr and Llandegfedd Reservoir; the highest count was of three at Brynmawr on 19th March.  
  • Marsh Harrier – Single passage birds were seen at the NWR on 16th, 24th and 30th April and 2nd May. A bird was also seen at Peterstone on 24th April presumably one of the NWR birds being tracked along the coast (M. Bell, M. Chown, T. Hall, K. Jones & B. Thomas).
  • Hen Harrier – Lone males were reported from Tredegar on 19th March, Brynmawr on 21st March and the NWR on 24th April (N. Beswick, T. Hall & M. Warburton).
  • Rough-legged Buzzard – A bird was reported from Tredegar on 8th April (S. Millard & L. Phillips).
  • Osprey – Three sightings, probably involving two birds; the first of the year was noted from the NWR on 26th March, whilst presumably the same bird was seen twice at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 5th and 8th April.
  • Merlin – Reported from two sites between the 4th and 26th March.
  • Hobby – The first sighting, of this dashing summer migrant, was logged from Magor Marsh on 1st May. This was closely followed by another, the following day, at Pontypool, whilst the only other report was from the NWR on the 13th May.
  • Red Grouse – Three birds were seen near Brynmawr on 4th March and two on The Blorenge on 11th March.
  • Red-legged Partridge – Again, just one record, two birds were seen at West Pill on 22nd April.
  • Water Rail – Seen or heard at the NWR and Llandegfedd Reservoir, maximum counts were of nine and one respectively.
  • Avocet – All reports came from the NWR where four pairs took up residence this year, see page 12 for more details (many observers).
  • Little Ringed Plover – A maximum of five were reported from the NWR on 8th April.
  • Golden Plover – Birds were seen at the NWR on four dates during the period, the maximum was of five on 5th March.
  • Grey Plover – Reported from Collister Pill and the NWR, notable counts of 80 and 90 were logged at the NWR on 25th and 30th March.
  • Knot – As with the previous species, only reported from Collister Pill and the NWR, notable counts of 80 at the NWR on 6th and 13th March.
  • Sanderling – Five reports were noted all from the NWR with one on 22nd April, two on the 10th, 12th and 15th May and seven on the 28th May.
  • Little Stint – A scarce spring record, one on 26th April at the NWR.   
  • Curlew Sandpiper – Another species recorded in greater numbers in the autumn, two were seen during the spring at the NWR, one on 10th May and one on the 31st May.  
  • Purple Sandpiper – At first one, then two birds were seen regularly between 28th March and 17th April. The birds were recorded either feeding at Goldcliff Point or roosting on the NWR (many observers).
  • Ruff – Two birds were reported from the NWR between the 26th and 29th April.
  • Jack Snipe – One or two were seen at Magor Marsh on 2nd April and one was at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 8th April.
  • Black-tailed Godwit – All reports came from the NWR with a high of 85+ on 1st April.
  • Bar-tailed Godwit – Recorded from the 9th April until 30th May, the largest flock was of seven at Collister Pill on 14th May.
  • Whimbrel – The first birds were two at the NWR on 4th April; a steady passage was then noted throughout the period with records from eleven sites. The highest count was of 77 at the NWR on 22nd April whilst notable inland records came from Llandegfedd Reservoir and the River Usk near Caerleon.
  • Spotted Redshank – One at Sluice Farm on 1st April was the only record this spring.
  • Greenshank – Single birds were reported from the NWR, Caerleon and Peterstone Gout with two records in March, one in April and four in May.
  • Green Sandpiper – Reported from three sites, the highest count was of three at Gobion on 19th March.
  • Wood Sandpiper – Another scarce species in Gwent during the spring, one was seen at the NWR on 7th May.
  • Common Sandpiper – One or two bird were seen at a minimum of 13 different sites in the county.
  • Turnstone – Noted throughout the period at the NWR and Goldcliff Point. The greatest number recorded was 70 at the point on 28th March.
  • Arctic Skua – An excellent run of five records came from Goldcliff Point and the NWR with two on 28th March followed by single birds on 30th March and the 3rd, 6th and 20th May (J. Bennett, K. Hardy, K. Hewitt, C. Jones, K. Jones & D. Owen).
  • Great Skua – Three records, all from Goldcliff Point, involved four birds, three on 28th March and another on 20th May (J. Bennett, C. Jones & G. Stamp).
  • Mediterranean Gull – One, perhaps surprisingly, inland record, a first-winter was seen at Caerleon on 28th March.
  • Little Gull – Two records both on 28th March, one flew east past Goldcliff Point whilst another (a first-winter) was seen at Ynysfro Reservoirs.
  • Kittiwake – Three sightings were logged from Goldcliff Point and the NWR in late March and early April. The highest count was of 130+ off Goldcliff Point on 28th March.
  • Sandwich Tern – One flew west past the NWR on 17th April (D. Spittle).
  • Common Tern – Just the one record, a single bird was seen at the NWR on 22nd May.
  • Arctic Tern – Four records in five days: 26 past Sluice Farm on 28th April, three past the NWR on 29th, three past Sluice Farm on 1st May and two off Peterstone on the 2nd.
  • Razorbill – A single record this county rarity was logged, four were seen off Goldcliff Point on 19th May (R. Price).
  • Short-eared Owl – In the hills, birds at Waunafon Bog, Tredegar and Brynmawr were seen throughout with a maximum of four or five on 5th March. At the NWR a maximum of three were seen on 4th March.
  • Hoopoe – A bird thought to be this Mediterranean straggler was reported from Abercarn on 3rd May (P. Wilkins).  
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker – Reported from five sites, usually single birds were noted but two were at Blaenavon on 14th March.
  • Rock Pipit – Singles were reported from Caldicot Pill on the 28th April and Peterstone on 2nd May.
  • Water Pipit – The last few members of this winter’s flock were seen in the Peterstone/Sluice Farm area on the 5th March. Elsewhere a single was reported from Llanwenarth on 18th March (S. Butler, M. Chown, J. Davies & K. Jones).
  • Yellow Wagtail – First reported from Llandegfedd Reservoir on 5th April after which a light passage was noted on the levels until 4th May.
  • Blue-headed Wagtail – A Blue-headed Wagtail or possibly a hybrid (‘Channel Wagtail’) was seen at the NWR on 22nd April (D. Spittle).
  • White Wagtail – Passage was noted from the 19th March until 29th April with a maximum of 40 at the NWR on the 22nd April.
  • Black Redstart – The only report of the spring concerned a bird noticed by an observer whilst at work in Newport on 21st March.
  • Redstart – Passage birds were noted on the levels on 15th, 17th and 21st April. The first bird back in suitable breeding habitat was noted on 15th April.
  • Whinchat – Two birds were at the NWR on 22nd April and another migrant was at the same site on 4th May. The first birds seen at a breeding site was logged on 29th April.
  • Wheatear – Recorded 29 times between 13th March and 4th May. The maximum count was of 36 at Peterstone on 21st April.
  • Cetti’s Warbler – Recorded at four sites with an impressive high of 40 reported on the 15th April at the NWR (many observers).
  • Grasshopper Warbler – Five reports from the NWR between the 15th April and 2nd May.
  • Bearded Tit – Three records were logged from the NWR (T. Forster, K. Hardy, K. Hewitt & K. Richards).
  • Tree Sparrow – Two reports logged, a single bird on the NWR on the 4th April and another at Llangybi on the 1st May.
  • Common Waxbill – An escaped bird was seen in a garden at Cwmtillery on the 17th May.
  • Canary – As with the species above, an escape was seen in a garden at Cwmtillery, again on the 17th May, presumably somebody had just left the door open on their aviary!
  • Siskin – Many observers reported this little finch from gardens across the county, the highest count was of 41 at Monmouth on 2nd March but flocks in excess of 20 were also seen at Rogerstone, Crosskeys and Cwmbran.
  • Crossbill – Two reports were logged, 12 at Pontypool on 1st April and one in Wentwood on 5th April.
  • Snow Bunting – The wintering bird at Collister Pill was still present on the 1st March and another was reported at Mynydd Henllys on 11th March (K. Jones, P. O’Duffy per I. Smith).
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