12th February 2011 - Parakeets and Butcher Birds PDF Print E-mail

Over the past two years I have received quite a number of calls from readers who have seen a ring necked parakeet around Newport and Cwmbran – I was also lucky enough to see it myself on one occasion. However, to the best of my knowledge it always managed to avoid having it's picture taken... until now: Local birder Steve Williams encountered the bird near the Boating Lake at Llanyravon and got this snap.

Ring-necked Parakeet Ring-necked Parakeet

Meanwhile, the (re?)appearance of a great grey shrike in Wentwood has caused excitement among Gwent birdwatchers. Shrikes are often known as 'butcher birds' due to their habit of impaling prey on thorns, and the great grey shrike is a rare winter visitor to the UK. There are usually fewer than ten shrike sightings in Wales each year, normally of a single bird, and the birds seem to be attracted back to familiar sites. There have been sightings of great grey shrike in previous years at Wentwood, which suggests that this bird has been here before.

Great Grey Shrike Great Grey Shrike

If you want to keep abreast of what has been seen locally, visit the sightings page at www.gwentbirds.org.uk

Round Wales Trip

GOS webmaster Mark Newton is soon to embark on an epic journey to travel around the Welsh coast on his mobility scooter whilst raising money for charity. Mark was injured as a serviceman and his 1500 mile plus trip will benefit The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.

He will be camping along the way and is very keen to hear from Argus readers who can help him find a place to camp and recharge his scooter at Caldicot and St. Brides Wentlooge. If you can help or would like more details visit www.roundwales.co.uk

Birdwatching Events

There are some great walks and talks coming up: On Saturday 19th February there is an illustrated talk by Mike Lane entitled 'A Lane in Brazil'. Mike is a renowned wildlife photographer and this talk documents his visit to the Pantanal, a South American wetland area half the size of France and teeming with birds and beasts!

On Saturday 5th March the guest speaker is another well known photographer and author, Mike Leach, whose talk 'Owls of the World' focusses on his pursuit of these wonderful birds. There are 133 species of owl known worldwide and to date Mike has manged to see 86 of them.

Both talks take place at Goytre Village Hall (just off the A4042 Newport to Abergavenny road) and start at 7.30pm. Entry, including tea and biscuits is £1.50. No need to book, just turn up

If you fancy something a bit more active then there is a guided birdwatching walk to the Forest of Dean arranged for Saturday 5th March. The walk is being led by my good friend Steve Butler and the meeting point is Waitrose car park, Monmouth at 8.30am. The walk is scheduled to last about 4 hours and will take in several birding hotspots, giving you the best possible opportunity of seeing some very special and elusive species such as hawfinch and goshawk. Please bring suitable clothing, food and drink.... and binoculars if you have them.   

New faces (especially Argus readers) 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.