Home Articles The Dipper June 2005 - Newsletter 95
June 2005 - Newsletter 95 PDF Print E-mail

Summer arrives, Dipper doesn't

First off, apologies to all and sundry, by the time you get to read this a month will have passed since the due date. Unfortunately, the lives of editors, birders and BTO representatives are all very busy at this time of year and, in combination, have delayed the Dipper’s appearance somewhat. Stern warnings have been issued, wrists slapped and, with any luck, it shouldn’t happen again.

Anyway… now that my wrists have stopped stinging…

How was your spring? Did you connect with any rarities? With Long-billed Dowitcher, Ospreys and Spoonbills knocking around the county there was enough of interest to keep everyone on their toes. Have your local summer visitors returned? Nationally, the BTO are reporting that fewer Swallows, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers are being recorded. Poor weather on migration, particularly in northern Africa and southern Europe, appears to have reduced the food supplies available to these species and more cold weather in the UK during April only added an additional obstacle. Have you noticed more or less of these species this year? Have they had a successful breeding season where you live? By keeping a note, and forwarding information to the county recorder, we can keep an eye on the local fortunes of these species and see where Gwent sits in the national picture.

Any contributions for the September Dipper can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by Friday 26th August to hopefully allow for publication within the first fortnight of September.


Summer Shows

After a very successful and enjoyable Newport Wetlands Show, the last show for the season where GOS will be represented is the Monmouth Show on Thursday 25th August.  It will be open from 9am – 5pm and the GOS stand will be located in the “Countryside Matters” marquee – see you there!

If you would like to volunteer for an hour or two ‘stand duty’ please contact Trevor Russell (01600 716266, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Photographs and Artwork wanted

To illustrate the Society’s forthcoming book on the Birds of Gwent, we are now looking to identify photographs and artwork to be used.  Known photographers and artists are already being approached about suitable material, but we would also like to hear from anyone else who might wish to offer any good quality pictures of birds photographed in the county or artwork (vignettes) that they consider to be suitable.

If you think that you might be able to help, please contact Alan Williams on 01873 880165 who can provide further details including the arrangements for selecting the material to be used.

Blaenau Gwent SNAP Biodiversity Photographic Compertition 2005

For this annual competition, photographs need to be taken within Blaenau Gwent and the closing date this year is Friday 14th October 2005.  There are three age categories for photographers: 11 years and under, 12-17 years and 18 and over.  For an application form, please contact Blaenau Gwent on 01495 355702 or GOS membership secretary (029 20691027, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Field Trip Reports

Clytha Hill 2nd April 2005

Saturday 2nd April was a glorious, sunny day. They say that the sun shines on the righteous, well sometimes it shines on reprobates as well. I took over a Breeding Bird Survey at Clytha Hill last year and was immediately smitten by the place, and particularly amazed at the number of Yellowhammer present… so, when Steve Butler asked if anyone knew of sites that might warrant a walk I put my hand up.

As the date drew closer I was feeling pretty apprehensive...There was no sign of Yellowhammer! Thankfully, a few days prior to the walk they materialised en masse in their breeding haunts and set about noisily and visibly establishing their territories (phew!).

The day itself didn't get off to the best of starts. I'm ashamed to say that I arrived at the Clytha Arms meeting place 15 minutes late to find 23 birders drumming their fingers and the Pub landlord worrying that his punters would have nowhere to park. A few apologies and a chat with the landlord later and we drove off to the start point.

The walk was helped by the fine spring weather which stirred the local birdlife into action. A total of 34 species were recorded including Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Lapwing, Skylark and a late Fieldfare (full list below). Not a bad haul considering that the only summer migrants to have arrived were Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Of course some of the resident species failed to make an appearance, notably Goshawk, but that's life.

I'd like to offer my thanks to local resident Robert Gardner for allowing us to park by his cottage and for taking the time to have a chat with us about sightings he has made in the area. Hobby can often be seen in the area during the summer and Cuckoo had been heard the previous year (currently something of a rarity in farmland). During the 1990's Long-eared Owl often turned up in January and February and a few were ringed by GOS members… which accounted for Andy Rowlands' feeling of déjà vu!

Species seen included: Bullfinch, House Sparrow, Magpie, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Wren, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Yellowhammer, Skylark, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Pheasant, Greenfinch, Rook, Coal Tit, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Jay, Raven, Fieldfare, Nuthatch, Starling, Lapwing and Jackdaw.

Mark Stevens

Mynnydd Maen 22nd May 2005

A dull & overcast morning, with the threat of rain never far away greeted the 6 members who met up on Penmaes Road at 08.00.

Our mood was soon to change, immediately we set off there was a cry of Buzzard! No it’s not, what is it? Six pairs of binoculars were soon on this large raptor, which was flying away from us in the direction of Newport. After a little discussion and a few references to ‘Collins’ all agreed, yes, it was an Osprey! What a start! Would the rest of the walk live up to expectations? We were soon passing through fields and up a steady climb to Llanderval Farm, where our route took us right along a rather wet track. Our count already included Whitethroat, Raven, Song Thrush, Buzzard, House Martin, Swallow and the usual Robin, Blackbird, etc.

Once onto the open mountainside a slight change to the planned route was made to avoid too steep a climb just in case the rains did come. A lower track was used bordering a fenced portion of mixed woodland, bramble, heather and gorse an ideal habitat for a variety of species, but not today. Perhaps the wind and ambient temperatures were keeping the birds low. A cuckoo was heard calling on a regular basis. Bullfinch, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were both seen and heard. Skylarks became more numerous as we scanned the flanks, and a Peregrine was noted briefly before disappearing over the crest. Linnets, Stonechat, Whinchat and Tree Pipit were also in evidence.

Before turning to head back an alternative route to Llanderval Farm, we visited the ruined buildings from a long gone mine and quarry. Wheatear were viewed together with Reed Bunting, Stonechat with young, Grey Wagtail. Jay and Coal Tit. The walk down and back to the cars gave us Garden Warbler, and clear views of Redstart. A satisfying end to a walk that gave us 42 species and had started so spectacularly. And as for the rain? Well it never arrived!

Species seen included: Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Osprey, Peregrine, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Crow, Raven, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

Keith Roylance

Membership News

GOS leaflets:  Whilst out birdwatching, do you bump in to other birders and tell them about GOS?  If so would you like some leaflets and programmes to take out with you?  Let me know and I shall send copies out to you.

GO Wild event, Pontllanfraith, Saturday 11th June: This event was well attended and we were kept busy on the GOS stand answering questions and running the quiz.  Helen Jones, Richard Clarke and his daughter, Beth, were there throughout and were joined for some of the time by Lee Taswell and Darryl Spittle.  Their help was greatly appreciated.

Richard had provided 72 answer sheets for his quiz of 24 bird pictures applicable to Caerphilly, and at the end of the event we only had about four to spare.  As it’s all a bit of fun, and we hope that people will learn something, we encourage the use of books if they get stuck and this seems to work very well.  One young lad didn’t know any of the birds and persevered with looking each one up, whilst his mother waited patiently.  Some of the children were quite young and we had to show them how to use an index before they could get started.  It is interesting to note that in general, the children tried harder than many of the adults.  However, it was encouraging to have quite a few adults coming up and talking to us about birds in their garden and surrounding areas and asking where to go to see things.  Some were obviously very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about birds and it was surprising to realise that they knew nothing about the Newport Wetlands Reserve.

John Marsh had provided me with lots of old bird watching magazines and they were very popular, so if you have any spare ones, you can pass them on to us to take to other shows.  They are also a good resource for our quizzes.

It was helpful to meet GOS member Dave Cooksey who popped along to our stand.  Back in February, people in Newport had found an injured Lapwing at Uskmouth and contacted me.  I had heard in the past that Dave Cooksey had dealt with injured birds and managed to track him down and gave him details of where the bird was. He is still dealing with injured birds and mammals.  He was able to advise me that despite his expectations, he was able to release the bird after about 5 weeks at a farm in Llangybi where there were already Lapwings and a sympathetic farmer.

Membership: Since the 12th March, we have received 13 more renewals, and I would like to welcome the 9 new members/families who have recently joined.  

Having sent out subscription reminders in March, it came to light that two members had posted their subscriptions (one very promptly in December) but they weren’t delivered to me.  A similar thing had happened in 2004 so can I ask that if you send a subscription renewal by post and don’t receive your membership card(s) within 2 weeks, please let me know.  It could be that I haven’t received your letter or I have received your letter but my response has got lost in the post.  You should receive a response from me in well under 2 weeks, but this margin accounts for my going away for a few days.  Of course, standing order payments would avoid this problem!  At the moment, 118 of the 309 subscriptions are paid by standing order.

Llandegfedd Reservoir Winter Access: If you want to visit the north end of Llandegfedd Reservoir between 1st of November and 28th of February, you will need a key to get access to the Fishermen’s car park.  Keys can be obtained from me for the cost of cutting and postage.  I won’t know the exact cost until I know approximately how many keys are needed, as this will determine the amount of discount on the cutting costs.  However I expect it to be around the £2 mark.  As mentioned in the March issue of The Dipper, we need to provide Dwr Cymru with a list of members who have keys, so please let me know if you already have a key that opens the gate at the north end during the winter.  I have had only 1 response so far.  An application form for a key is enclosed with this issue.

Please be sure to carry your membership card(s) with you when visiting this site or Ynysyfro and show it to the Rangers (or anglers at Ynysyfro) if asked.  If you have problems with access at either site, please let me know as soon as possible.

Goytre Village Hall facilities: In the March issue, I asked whether some members don’t come to indoor meetings because they can’t hear the speakers.  I haven’t received any feedback yet so I shall ask again whether any of you feel that you would benefit from (and take advantage of) an improved audio system in the hall, or whether it would be helpful for you to sit nearer the front of the hall.

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

Wentwood Forest Appeal

As mentioned in the Committee Commentary, 900 acres of Wentwood Forest has been put up for sale to the highest bidder with commercial foresters being targeted. 6 lots, all privately owned, are up for sale and in an endeavour to preserve the ancient forest woodland and to protect its history and heritage; the Woodland Trust is intending to bid and is looking to raise £1.5 million.

Wentwood is the remnant of a vast woodland that once stretched from the River Usk to the Wye valley and is the largest ancient woodland in Wales. Many of the native trees were cut down in the 40’s to support the war effort and were replanted with non-native conifers

It is likely that the Trust would bring an end to the large-scale clear-felling of these conifer plantations (and nightjar habitats?) but would, over a long period, say, 20 years, selectively fell smaller numbers of trees and replace them with native broadleaf species to restore the wood, and its habitat, to its original condition.

At this stage The Woodland Trust only requires pledges of money, not cash, and your Committee has agreed to pledge £1000 of GOS funds to support their bid. This means that GOS will only be asked to honour its pledge if their bid was successful.

If you would like to make an additional, personal pledge to support the Trust in their bid, or get further information regarding their “Save Wentwood Forest” scheme, please contact:

Kavita Heyn on 0117 927 2337, or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A pledge form is enclosed with this issue of The Dipper.

Update: The Woodland Trust’s offer of £1.5 million was rejected on 21st July, as there was a higher bidder.  The Trust is not in a position to wage a “bid war” but will keep their offer open in case the rival bid does not proceed to completion. Helen Jones has contacted the Woodland Trust today, 25th July, and they still want your pledges, so please continue to send them in

Credit Card Hotline: 0800 026 9650


News from Newport Wetlands Reserve

This breeding season has been one of highs and lows.  The highs must include the doubling of avocets to four breeding pairs on the Goldcliff Lagoons and, “hot off the press”, a pair of bearded tits rearing young at Uskmouth.  In conservation terms the latter is the more significant since bearded tits were one of the species the reserve was aiming to encourage, while avocets were just an unexpected (if very happy) arrival.

On the down side, breeding success for waders (apart from avocets) has been miserable.  Fifty-five pairs of lapwings have possibly reared fewer than five chicks to date.  The cold, wet weather in early May almost certainly “did for” a good number of freshly hatched lapwing chicks and, while they will regularly re-lay if they lose eggs, lapwings rarely re-nest if they lose chicks.  Occasional spells of bad weather through May and June continued to put pressure on them, and also on the later-nesting redshanks.

Predation has probably been a significant cause of failure this year with crow, fox and buzzard all doing their bit.  Despite the removal of most of the crow-nesting habitat on the reserve, five pairs still nested in a small area of hedged fields covering just 2.7 hectares (6.7 acres).  Two of the nests were only 50 metres apart.  This would appear to be a definite change in territorial behaviour.  The crows seem to have “carved up” the surrounding wader nesting fields equitably amongst themselves, while relaxing territories immediately around their nests.  In the late 1980s work on the Hiraethog in North Wales found crow territories around nests were roughly 40 hectares.  Ten years later this had dropped to around 15 hectares (and in the same time the wader numbers had dropped dramatically).  I suppose the logical conclusion is that we will eventually get ‘croweries’, as well as rookeries.

Foxes continue to be a major threat.  While removal of individuals is possible, neighbouring animals almost instantly replace them.  Eradication is not a realistic option, so we are going to try to develop exclusion areas with electric fencing for next year.  This year, in desperation, Kevin and Mike threw up a few hundred metres of electric netting on the Goldcliff lagoons in May, but we’re not sure how effective it was.

Two buzzards hunted the seawall daily, having a go at anything that moved on the grasslands as they flew over.  I watched one buzzard come from the Llanwern direction, so I’m not sure that we are always dealing with local birds here.

The problem is that the reserve contains a huge density of prey compared to the surrounding farmland.  The ideal answer would be to increase the farmland’s prey content, but I’m not sure that that’s something the reserve can significantly influence.

Of slight consolation is the fact that lapwings have been seen on some suitable sites outside the reserve this spring. Perhaps we can encourage some birds to move into the surrounding farmland where, if thinly spread, they might not attract the attention of predators so much.

On the management side we are starting to resort to chemicals!  Last winter’s very mild conditions allowed rush to grow virtually all winter long and, despite Mike and tenants mowing over 140 hectares (350 acres) of the stuff into late autumn, there was still a very tall sward by early March.  The lapwings avoided this tall vegetation and were concentrated into tighter spaces, which probably didn’t help them to avoid predation.  We are now treating quite large areas of rush with a ‘weedwiper’ to reduce the overall density in the worst fields, and hope that the rush will be replaced with grass that wildfowl can keep short for us over winter - (nice if it works!)

The Education and Visitor Centre Plans continue to go apace, and we have just heard that the Centre has received planning consent.  Local schools have been showing great interest in the reserve, with over 600 school children visiting this year.  Plans to develop bird watching facilities at Uskmouth are being worked up at the same time as the Centre to provide good viewing over the saltmarsh and pools within the reedbeds. The pools within the reedbed might, in time become attractive to waders as well as wildfowl.

To avoid vandalism problems we might put the hides on islands with drawbridges that can be raised at night!

Long-term plans include the possibility of more freshwater and brackish lagoons at the Uskmouth end of the reserve.  This might help to ease our strained relations with Goldcliff Community Council over the number of birdwatchers who park on the common at Goldcliff!

Tony Pickup, Senior Reserve Manager

If you come across any problems or see something good on the Reserve, contact details are NWR Warden: Nash 01633 275567, CCW 029 2077 2400

BTO News

Returns from this season's BBS/WBBS surveys are now being returned and it is encouraging to see that more people are sending their results on line.  This means less work for me, but I will still be happy to receive paper returns if that is your preference.  Please send them in as soon as you are able or let me know if you have been unable to complete this year's survey.

A few years ago, the BTO and RSPB started advising birdwatchers that it was good to continue feeding garden birds after the winter period and through the breeding season.  Prior to that it was generally assumed that, having helped the birds through the winter, the birds would be able to help themselves through the spring and summer.  Recent research has shown that birds living in urban and suburban areas may also find it difficult to find enough food to feed themselves and their hungry chicks during the breeding season.  It is important however that only appropriate food is provided e.g. peanuts should only be provided in wire baskets or as granules so that the chicks are not presented with a whole peanut which could cause them to choke.  Salty food and desiccated coconut should be avoided, and with the range of supplementary foods now being provided it is easy to offer a wide variety of supplementary food.  The best options seem to be sunflower hearts, nyjer seed, peanut cake and mealworms.  It may be that the adults eat the supplementary food themselves and save the more "natural" food, like insects, for the chicks.  In order to give people the best advice, the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Team have produced a free new leaflet, to get your copy send your name and address details to GBW Feeding Leaflet, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU or e mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or telephone 01842 750050.

During the last couple of winters there has been a Gull Roost Survey, the main coastal areas and only inland site (Llandegfedd Reservoir) allocated to Gwent have already been covered.  During this final winter of the survey there are three (randomly selected) sections of coast yet to be visited to see if any gulls are roosting in them.  The three squares are at Newport Docks, Porton and Sedbury.  If anyone is able to help, please let me know.

As reported in the last issue of The Dipper, research is being undertaken on two species whose Welsh strongholds are to be found in Gwent - Turtle Dove and Hawfinch.  Any sightings of Turtle Dove to supplement the research findings would be very helpful, please let me have location (grid reference), date and a note about what the bird was doing.  With Hawfinch, over 25 have now been colour ringed at winter-feeding sites. The birds will have a dull grey metal ring on one leg, and a coloured plastic ring on the other (dark blue, red, white or yellow).  A few birds ringed several years ago will have only the metal ring.  Two ringed birds have already been seen from one of the Nagshead hides so please look out for any with rings on and let me know location, date and sex (if known).

Forms for the 2005 Tawny Owl Survey have just been received, it runs from mid August to mid October to coincide with the peak period of territorial activity.  Just two 10km squares have been selected in our area - SO32 (north of Llanvihangel Crucorney and straddling the County boundary with Hereford) and ST39 (between Newport and Llandegfedd Reservoir).  The aim is to spend just ten minutes (listening for calling birds) in each tetrad (a square 2km by 2km), and it should be possible to visit several adjacent tetrads on the same evening.  Anyone interested should give me a ring as soon as possible because it isn't long to the start date.

Jerry Lewis, BTO Representative (01873 855091)

Committee Commentary April-June 2005

We recently heard that Corus intends to drain 23 lakes and ponds in the Blaenau Gwent area which are no longer needed for steel making. Draining will render them safer and reduce or eliminate the Corus liability for their upkeep, maintenance and security. It is seen as a preliminary step prior to selling them. Whilst draining will render them ‘safe’ prior to sale it will obviously have a disastrous environmental impact. It is not known whether planning permission will be required due to change of use but GOS has already written to the Chief Executive of Blaenau Gwent C.B.C. to ask for an environmental assessment to be undertaken before draining commences. Beaufort Ponds have allegedly already been offered for sale to a local fishing club for a pittance, but clearly any legal liability for the ponds will then rest with the fishing club.

The June meeting also heard that 900 acres of Wentwood Forest, held in 6 lots, are about to be sold by the family trust and investment trust that owns them (look for the Wentwood Forest article elsewhere in this edition) The sale is apparently being targeted at commercial forestry interests who can be anticipated to clear-fell and re-plant with non-native conifers. The Woodland Trust is trying to raise funds to make a competitive bid. Their long-term plan would be to gradually replant with native broadleaf species and restore the remnant ancient woodland to its former glory. The Committee agreed to pledge £1000 in support of their bid, which becomes payable only if the W.T. bid is successful.

The Welsh Assembly is to resurrect the M4 Relief Road scheme and the CALM Alliance is planning to hold a public meeting on June 29th in Newport. Watch the local press for details

We heard with dismay that trees containing a rookery have been cut down in a school in Gilwern. Presumably felled for health and safety reasons (what isn’t these days?) nevertheless it seems unbelievable that this was done at a time when there were still chicks in the nests. A letter of complaint will be sent to the Abergavenny Community Council.

The Committee has received with regret the resignation of the Editor of the Annual Report, Brian Gregory. With the 2004 Report Brian will have edited the Report almost single-handedly for the last five editions and we thank him for his dedicated work, his contribution will be sorely missed. See page six to read an appeal to fill this vacancy.

The Committee also heard with regret that Enfys Hankey would like to resign her role as ‘Tea Maker In Chief’ at indoor meetings, due to ill-health. Seemingly never without lots of willing helpers in the kitchen, perhaps one of the helpers would like to respond to the situations vacant advert elsewhere in this edition?

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

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 or of species occurring outside the expected dates) 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: Nigel Addecott, Mark Allcock, Alan Aplin, Steve Appleton, Sylvia Appleton, Andrew Baker, Terry Barry, John Bennett, Nicholas Beswick, ‘Billy’, Sam Bosanquet, Mike Bosley, Felicity Branigan, Julian Branscombe, Dave Brassey, Paul Bridges, Phil Bristow, Ruth Brown, Bryn Burgess, Steve Butler, Steve Carter, Nathan Casburn, Barry Catlin, Sue Chappelle, Tom Chinnick, Doug Clarke, Richard Clarke, Peter Dando, John Davies, Bernie Donders, John Edwards, Lisa Edwards, Diane Elliot, John Evans, Ray Evans, Jeff Fisher, Beverley Gale, John Garside, Andrew Grant, Peter Hale, Tim Hall, John Harper, Adrian Hickman, Mike Hogan, ‘Holly’, Jackie Huybs, David Hutton, Steve Jackson, Chris James, Mal Jenkins, Daniel Jenkins-Jones, Marcus John, Andrew Jones, Chris Jones, David Jones, Gareth Jones, Hadyn Jones, Helen Jones, Keith Jones, Peter Jones, Andrew King, Llandegfedd Rangers, Edwin Law, Bridie Luis Fuentes, John Martin, Rob Moeller, Ken Morgan, Wayne Morris, Paul Morton, John Moseley, John O’Sullivan, Lee Parsons, Linda Payne, Mike Pearman, Luke Phillips, Tony Pickup, Jackie Pointon, Mike Pointon, Mark Poulton, Mike Powell, Ralph Powell, Roger Price, Karl Richards, Alan Rosney, Andy Rowlands, Keith Roylance, Nick Saunders, Ian Smith, Darryl Spittle, Ed Stevens, Mark Stevens, Brian Thomas, Vaughan Thomas, Phil Thompson, GT Thorne, Mike Tidley, George Tordoff, Gareth Waite, Chris West, Julie West, Craig Williams, Steve Williams, Leyton Williams-Davies and John Wilson.

  • Great Crested Grebe – Reported from six sites, maximum counts included: 30 at Llandegfedd Reservoir and four at the NWR.
  • Cormorant – A second calendar year sinensis was seen in a small roost on the River Usk on 24th April.
  • Little Egret – Reported from four sites, maximum counts included: 13 at the NWR and five at Peterstone.
  • Grey Heron – 21 adults and 15 nests were noted at Crosskeys.
  • White Stork – a single was watched circling for five minutes over Caerleon before heading WSW (C. Jones).
  • Spoonbill – Records of one or two birds at the NWR were regularly posted between 26th March and at least 31st May. Seemingly three birds were involved, with an adult noted on at least 2nd April and up to two immature birds on various dates after 15th May (many observers).
  • Greylag Goose – Birds, presumably from the feral flock breeding at Llanwern, were recorded at two sites with a maximum of eight at the NWR on 12th May.
  • Snow Goose – A feral bird was reported from Llanwenarth on 5th March and Llandegfedd Reservoir on 23rd March and 2nd April.
  • Barnacle Goose – A presumably feral bird was at the NWR on 30th April and 12th May.
  • Brent Goose – Presumably the same, Dark-bellied Brent Goose (B. b. bernicla), was present at Collister Pill on 10th April and 8th and 14th May (H. Jones and B. Burgess).
  • Bar-headed Goose – Another feral bird, this time at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 10th April.
  • Ruddy Shelduck – A single escape was reported from Bulmore Lakes on 6th March (K. Jones).
  • Shelduck – Counts were received from six sites with a maximum of 400 at the NWR on 2nd March.
  • Wigeon – A maximum of 680 were recorded on 7th March at the NWR. Elsewhere, the highest counts were of 209 at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 12th March and 105 at Peterstone on the same date.  Two late birds were still at the NWR on 2nd May.
  • Gadwall – A maximum count of just 22 was noted at the NWR on 2nd March, once again, Ynysfro Reservoirs was the only other site at which this species was noted, two remained until 7th March.
  • Teal – Reported from seven sites during the period, maximum counts were of 150 at the NWR, 65 at the Nedern, 60 at Peterstone and 44 at Bulmore Lakes all during early to mid March.
  • Mallard – A count of 165 at NWR on 2nd March was the highest recorded.
  • Pintail – Only recorded at two sites, NWR and Llandegfedd Reservoir, from which maximums of 16 and five were noted respectively.
  • Garganey – One or two birds were at the NWR during April and a male was at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 10th April.
  • Shoveler – Recorded at three sites during the period, maximum counts were of 87 at the NWR, two at Peterstone and two at Bulmore Lakes. Two males were still at the NWR in mid May.
  • Pochard – Small number occurred at five sites, the greatest number was of just five at Bulmore Lakes on 6th March.
  • Ring-necked Duck – Just a single sighting, a male was seen at the NWR on 31st May (Gareth Jones).
  • Scaup – Three records were posted between mid March and mid April. Ten birds (including four males) were off Peterstone on 13th March whilst single females were at the NWR on 1st and 10th April (C. Jones and K. Jones).
  • Common Scoter – A single male was at Peterstone on 13th March; six were at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 1st April and singles there on 2nd and 10th. (C. Jones, M. Jenkins, K. Jones, M. Pointon and J. Pointon)
  • Goldeneye – Recorded from five sites, maximum counts being: six at Llandegfedd Reservoir, five at the NWR, three at Bulmore lakes, two at Bryn Bach Country Park and one at Brynmawr. The latest sighting was of two at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 2nd April.  
  • Goosander – During March and April small numbers were noted at various sites with four at Bulmore Lakes being the highest count. In May larger parties were reported with 15 near Usk on 2nd May and 14 on the River Usk (including 12 young) on 27th May.
  • Ruddy Duck – Small numbers were reported from the NWR with four (two males and two females) on 27th April being the highest count.
  • Hen Harrier – Two birds were recorded during this period, one at the NWR on 2nd March and another near Brynmawr on 12th March (K. Jones and N. Beswick).
  • Osprey – Six records were noted: near Abergavenny on 29th March, at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 31st March and 1st April, at the NWR on 22nd April, near Brynmawr 16th May and over Mynydd Maen on 22nd May (per C. Jones, Llandegfedd Rangers, J. O’Sullivan, M. Powell and K. Roylance).
  • Merlin – Once again all sightings came from the levels with birds at the NWR on the 13th and 20th March, 16th April and 10th May and another at Whitson on 2nd May.
  • Large falcon sp. – A bird thought to be a Saker, either a local escape or possibly the same as one reported earlier in Glamorgan, was seen near Abergavenny on 29th April (A. Rowlands).
  • Red Grouse – Two records from Blorenge Mountain on the 22nd March and 21st May.
  • Red-legged Partridge – Recorded from two sites with two at Collister Pill on 24th April and one, which narrowly avoided becoming a Buzzard’s lunch, at Llangybi on 29th May.
  • Grey Partridge – Records of this species were slightly more widespread than Red-legged, five reports were posted, each relating to two birds, from the following locations: Collister Moor, Collister Pill, Coity Mountain, Garn Lakes and the Blorenge.
  • Common Pheasant – A melanistic bird was seen at the NWR on 1st May.
  • Water Rail – Recorded from four locations during March, April and May, the highest count was of over 40 birds at the NWR during a targeted survey Lapwing whilst two birds were seen at Ynysfro Reservoirs and singles at Llandegfedd Reservoir and Risca.
  • Avocet – Birds were noted at the NWR from 20th March with a total of four breeding pairs, a doubling of Gwent’s fledgling breeding population.
  • Little Ringed Plover – All records came from the NWR with two birds on 20th March being first and five on 25th April the maximum count.
  • Ringed Plover – Recorded from four sites along the estuary, peak counts were of 15 at St. Brides on 27th March, 15 at the NWR on 29th April, one at Goldcliff Point on 20th April and another single at Collister Pill on 14th May.
  • Dotterel – A report on 30th April referred to two birds near Offa’s Dyke though there was some slight doubt as to the precise location (per C. Jones).
  • Grey Plover – Three sites played host to this elegant wader, maximum counts at each were: 40 at Peterstone, 33 at the NWR and a single at Collister Pill.
  • Lapwing – As outlined in ‘NWR News’ the 55 pairs at the reserve had a disappointing breeding season, however, reports were also posted from 13 other locations. During early to mid March pre-breeding counts included: 500 at the NWR on the 2nd, 90 at Peterstone on the 14th and 60 near Usk on the 13th. Later in the season counts of breeding (or potentially breeding) birds included: 18 at Pontllanfraith (including eight young), 18 at Garn Lakes, 16 at Bulmore Lakes, eight at Peterstone, eight on the Blorenge, eight at Brynithel Mountain, three pairs at Bishton plus “a group” near Goytre and display seen at Oakdale.
  • Knot – The bird at Ynysfro Reservoirs was still present on 1st March (J. O’Sullivan). All other records were from the NWR, a maximum of 91 being recorded on 5th April.
  • Sanderling – Very small numbers passed through the county during May with two at Collister Pill and one at the NWR on the 8th and another single at the NWR on the 23rd (H. Jones, J. O’Sullivan and A. Hickman).
  • Little Stint – Only one was reported, a single bird at the NWR on 15th May (J. O’Sullivan).
  • Curlew Sandpiper – As with the previous species, just one report of a single bird at the NWR on 14th May (C. Jones).
  • Dunlin – The highest counts received were of 750+ at the NWR on 14th May, 390 at Collister Pill on 8th May and 300+ at Peterstone on 13th March.
  • Ruff – Once again the NWR continued to display its dominance as the wader location in Gwent with all records of this species coming from within the boundaries of the reserve. Two birds were recorded on 2nd, 21st and 22nd March with singles on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 25th April and another on 2nd May.
  • Jack Snipe – Two reports from near Brynmawr concerned single birds on 6th and 12th March whilst another was at Peterstone on 13th March (N. Beswick and C. Jones).
  • Snipe – Maximum counts were of 13 at the NWR, nine at Bulmore Lakes and one at Llandegfedd Reservoir all in early to mid March. Four (including a drumming bird) were at the NWR on 22nd March but only singles were reported thereafter and none after 25th April.
  • Long-billed Dowitcher – The highlight of the period, an individual of this Nearctic breeding species was recorded at the NWR on 20th, 21st, 23rd and 27th March (Dave Hutton et al.). Though seen by a healthy number of observers, it proved rather elusive at times, particularly on the three occasions the Dipper editor went to look for it!
  • Woodcock – Two records, of one or two birds in Wentwood on 29th May and a single at Clydach on 25th March.
  • Black-tailed Godwit – The vast majority of records were from the NWR with a maximum of 250 on 5th April.
  • Bar-tailed Godwit – slightly more widespread than the previous species, the first record was a single bird on 5th April. Maximum counts were of 50 at the NWR on 14th May, 20 at Newhouse on 21st April, three at Collister Pill on 10th April and one at Peterstone on 3rd May.
  • Whimbrel – First recorded on 21st March this species was subsequently reported from five sites along the estuary. The highest counts were of 75 and 64 at Collister Pill, 51 at Peterstone, 45 at the NWR and 20 at Newhouse. The last sighting logged was of three at the NWR on 15th May.
  • Curlew – Counts in three figures were achieved at three sites: 250 at Collister Pill on 10th April, 130 at the NWR on 1st April and 120 at St. Brides on 27th March.
  • Redshank – The three highest totals all came from Peterstone with 180 on 11th March, and 90 on both the 14th March and 13th April.
  • Greenshank – Just a single bird seen at the NWR on 1st and 2nd May (J. O’Sullivan).
  • Common Sandpiper – First seen on 15th April, small numbers were subsequently recorded at eight scattered locations. Two records, of four birds, at Ynysfro Reservoirs on 15th April and along the River Usk on 24th April were the highest counts.
  • Turnstone – Three records from two sites were of 16 off the NWR on 27th April, seven at Collister Pill on 14th May and a single bird at the NWR also on 14th May.
  • Mediterranean Gull – An adult summer was found at Peterstone on 13th March (C. Jones).
  • Arctic Tern – Two records were posted: 29 were logged on a sea-watch from Goldcliff Point on 23rd April whilst another was at the NWR on 30th April (P. Bristow and J. O’Sullivan).
  • Little Tern – Three were seen off Goldcliff Point on the 23rd April (P. Bristow).
  • Black Tern – The good series of tern records continued through the period with a single of this species at the NWR on 12th May (D. Jones).
  • Cuckoo – First reported on 14th April at Wentwood, the highest count was of six to seven birds at the NWR on 29th May.
  • Barn Owl – Reported from just two sites between late April and late May, presumably from breeding locations.
  • Little Owl – A pair was seen near the transporter bridge in Newport, elsewhere the only report was from Clytha Hill.
  • Short-eared Owl – Both Peterstone and the NWR played host to a maximum of four ‘cattieface’, presumably involving at least some of the same individuals. The last record was of one at the NWR on 22nd April.
  • Nightjar – Just two reports, both from Wentwood, a minimum of two were seen on 8th May and three on 29th May.
  • Swift – After two unbelievably early reports on 30th March and 9th April, the main arrival began with a single in Usk on 24th April rapidly followed by birds at Cwmbran, Abergavenny and the NWR.
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker – An interesting report was of one at the NWR feeding on driftwood.
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker – Recorded at Clytha Hill, Llanover and Mathern a reasonable showing for this nationally declining woodland species.
  • Sand Martin – The first report occurred on 17th March at Abergavenny. However, the only reports of sizeable flocks were of 40, 100 and 40 at the NWR on 3rd, 4th and 5th April and 30 at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 14th May.
  • Swallow – Just four days behind the previous species, the first Swallow appeared at the NWR on 21st March. The maximum count during the period was of a whopping 400 at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 14th May.
  • House Martin – The last hirundine to appear in the county, one at Pen-y-fan Pond on 30th March and two at Govilon the following day being the vanguard. Again the maximum count was at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 14th May with 140 logged.
  • Tree Pipit – Similar to Sand Martin the earliest reports of this migrant were on the breeding grounds with two at Wentwood on 2nd April. Passage was noted with one at Collister Pill on 10th April and four further sites before the end of the period, a pair at Dingestow being a particularly welcome local patch rarity.
  • Water Pipit – Two reports were posted, both from Peterstone in March consisting of a “large group” on 7th and a minimum of one on the 12th (R. Price and P. Bristow).
  • Yellow Wagtail – The first record was of a single on 15th April, two were at Collister Pill on 24th April and a single at Dingestow on 1st May. Subsequently, three were seen at Dingestow at the end of May including a probable flava female, the first record of this sub-species breeding within the county?
  • Pied/White Wagtail – A roost of over 400 Pied was noted at Raglan on 9th March. ‘Whites’ were noted from two sites with peaks of 30-40 at the NWR on 10th April and 25 at Bassaleg on 15th April.
  • Bohemian Waxwing – The invasion finally petered out on 24th April with 30 at Cwmbran, beforehand maximum counts were of 28 at Osbaston, 60+ at Cwmbran and 30 at Chepstow with a further six sites being visited by the roaming horde (many observers).
  • Black Redstart – A single female was seen at Goldcliff Point on 20th and 21st March a bird that was thought to have been present throughout the winter (S. Butler and J. Davies).
  • Whinchat – A passage bird was recorded at Dingestow on 1st May.
  • Wheatear – The first were, simultaneous arrivals, at Caldicott Pill and Garnlydan Reservoir on 20th March. Logged at another 15 sites, the highest counts were of eight at Collister Pill, seven at Brynmawr and six at the Blorenge.
  • Fieldfare – Reported from five sites, the last being one at Cwmbran on 5th April.
  • Redwing – As with the previous species, reported from four sites but the last being noticeably earlier with “small numbers” at Abergavenny on 17th March.
  • Cetti’s Warbler – Only reported from two sites: the NWR where a maximum of 24 singing males were recorded on 16th April; and Peterstone with just one on 13th April.
  • Grasshopper Warbler – This arch skulker was reported from three sites. Regularly reported singing from the NWR (with two recorded on the 30th April) other singing birds were seen/heard at Abercarn and Dingestow.
  • Reed Warbler – The first report was of one at Newport on 22nd April.
  • Garden Warbler – A very early report was of one singing at Risca on 8th April.
  • Wood Warbler – First reported on 27th April.
  • Willow Warbler – Another migrant first noted away from the coast, the earliest being one at Usk on 24th March.
  • Spotted Flycatcher – One of the latest migrants, this species was first reported from Llanllowel on 2nd May. By the end of the month they had also been seen at Osbaston and Goytre Wood.
  • Pied Flycatcher  – The earliest, and one of only two reported, was at Abergavenny on 14th April.
  • Willow Tit – Another nationally declining woodland species, one was noted at Bulmore Lakes and two pairs at Cleddon.
  • Red-backed Shrike – A report was logged of a male, in the suburbs of Newport, on 20th April (B. Gale).
  • Great Grey Shrike – A bird was seen on 6th March near Abergavenny, could this be the same individual reported in the last Dipper? (S. Butler)
  • Tree Sparrow – Two at Dingestow on 30th May were the only records posted of this, now scarce, breeding species (S. Bosanquet).
  • Yellowhammer – Recorded at three sites with “plenty” at Clytha Hill, “stacks” at Dingestow and just one at Bassaleg.
  • Reed Bunting – A large late winter count of 71 was logged at the NWR on 2nd March.
FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (Dipper200506.pdf)June 2005Newsletter 95125 Kb