Home Articles The Dipper September 2006 - Newsletter 100
September 2006 - Newsletter 100 PDF Print E-mail

Another Gripping Instalment!

Once again it’s Dipper time. In this feature-filled edition we have all the usual news plus a special question and answer article on the proposal that GOS should submit all of our bird sighting records to SEWBReC. Hopefully, this should provide information to answer some of the questions that otherwise might arise at the Special General Meeting on November 25th. Elsewhere in the newsletter we have a series of notes on the outings undertaken by GOS members this summer. Without exception, each trip appears to have resulted in a good variety of species recorded; with any luck, a read through of the descriptions of these outings might encourage a few more members to take the plunge.

Finally, it probably shouldn’t go unnoticed that this is the 100th edition of the Dipper. If my maths are correct (and the newsletter’s appearance has been reasonably regular throughout its life), this would suggest the Dipper is twenty years old, not a bad age for a Dipper. As a certain amount of navel-gazing is often associated with the passing of such a monumental milestone, I briefly began to wonder whether a face-lift of our esteemed journal might be required. Unfortunately, being a member of the MTV generation, my attention span extends to just sixteen seconds and I soon found myself diverted by other great ponderings (e.g. How do you spell ‘nightflyers/nightfliers’? Do the Azores straddle the Mid-Atlantic Ridge? etc., etc.). However, I would welcome suggestions from members, with greater powers of concentration, on how you would like the Dipper to appear in the future, feel free to drop me a line at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Darryl Spittle

Announcements

Situations Vacant

Vice-chairman – At the 2007 AGM in January Andrew Baker will be stepping down as Chairman after his five-year ‘stretch’ and Dave Brassey will succeed him from his position as Vice Chairman. It would be expected that the next Vice Chairman would also succeed to the position of Chairman in five year’s time. If anyone is interested in being nominated for the role of Vice Chairman at the January 2007 AGM, or would like further information please contact me, Trevor Russell, on 01600 716266 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tea-maker and bottle-washer – We still lurch from meeting to meeting wondering who will make the tea and who will bring the milk and biscuits! It’s worse than worrying if the Speaker will turn up (and probably just as important!). Unless you want ‘dry’ meetings please volunteer to fill this crucial role. Lots of help is always available and full instructions will be given! Please contact Trevor Russell on 01600 716266 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Inspiration Required

If anyone out there has any ideas about content for the fortnightly South Wales Argus column I would be very interested to hear from them. It's now approaching two years since the Argus agreed to carry the column and, judging by the number of calls and emails I receive from readers, it appears to be well read. There is certainly a large local interest in all things environmental and I think it has been an effective way to raise the profile of GOS whilst providing a platform to promote our walks and talks for free. However, as much as I enjoy writing it, I do sometimes find myself scratching my head trying to come up with ideas for content. So, if you think of something that I could use, please get in touch. Please contact Mark Stevens at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or on 01633 866470.

Field Trip Reports

Wentwood – 23rd June

An extremely popular annual walk led by John Bennett was again well attended by over 20 members of the society. This walk was originally scheduled for the 12th May but was re-scheduled to 23rd of June to give members a better chance of seeing the target bird.

Species seen or heard by group included the following: Robin, Wren, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Tree Pipit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Garden Warbler, Linnet, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tawny Owl, several Woodcock, Carrion Crow, and the target bird of the walk the Nightjar. On this particular occasion excellent views were enjoyed of male and female birds displaying and landing extremely close to all members of the group. Other species of flora and fauna noted included Bee Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, Ragged Robin and Slow-worm. Thanks to John Bennett for and excellent evening bird watching, no charge for the insect bites suffered by all.

Garnlydan and Carno Reservoir – 24th June

This was an eye-opener of a walk due to the amount of species found in the Garnlydan area. Rodney Morris led the walk for 11 members on a warm June morning. We had House Martin, Swallow, Swift, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Chaffinch, Starling, 16 Lapwing, 13 Skylark, House Sparrow, Carrion Crow, six Reed Bunting and large numbers of Meadow Pipit. Along the wall of the reservoir, overlooking the far end, we saw three Curlew, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Pied Wagtail, and Mallard. On the moorland we had Buzzard, eight wheatear, Robin, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Kestrel, two Red Kite, Grey Wagtail, Raven and much to our surprise Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. Heading back towards Carno Woods we added Jackdaw, Coal Tit, Wren, Linnet, Blackbird and Goldcrest. Non-feathered notables included: Toad, Frog, Smooth Newt, Broad-bodied Chaser, Golden-winged Dragonfly, Common Heath and Small Skipper Butterfly.

Garn yr Erw – 2nd July

Led by Pete Boddington, a group of nine members turned up for a leisurely walk around the ponds in hot but overcast weather. Birds seen included: Mallard, Tufted Duck, Buzzard, Kestrel. Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Swift, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit. Meadow Pipit, Wren, Robin, Redstart, Stonechat, Mistle Thrush, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Linnet, Blackcap, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Bullfinch.

Flank of Mynydd Maen, Cwmbran – 15th July

After a week of exceptionally hot sunny weather, Saturday 15th July started much cooler and overcast with a fresh breeze. Fifteen members and friends managed the 8 am start from Penmaes Road, Cwmbran. We were soon hearing and seeing typical birds of field and hedgerow – Wren, Whitethroat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and the ever-present Woodpigeons and Magpies. After a steady climb we turned right at the farm and continued along a rough track. Swallows were numerous around an old barn whilst crows and Ravens were circling above. A lone Kestrel was noted early on, later we were to witness a Kestrel family being mobbed by Magpies. A flock of Mistle Thrush were a welcome sight in the fields. Blackbird, Starling, Song Thrush and Dunnock were also noted.

After forcing our way through some fairly dense bracken, we started the open ascent up the flank of Mynydd Maen. Stonechat, Whinchat and Willow Warbler were evident here whilst on the upper slopes Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Buzzard were seen. The ruined quarry buildings gave us Wheatear. Good views were had of Tree Pipit whilst only a fleeting glimpse of Redstart was achieved before making our descent back to the start. On the descent Blackcap, Linnet, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Robin and Sparrowhawk were seen.

By the time we arrived back at the start the sun was beginning to break through and the temperature was rising. A pleasant end to a reasonable morning’s birding, even if there were no surprises unlike last years Osprey.

Species List: Buzzard, Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Clytha Hill – 5th August

During late July it was absolutely scorching and I couldn't wait for this walk to take place. I'd changed the route from the previous year to take in a promising area of Tyr Gofal farmland, and was really looking forward to a splendid summer morning spent birdwatching in good company.

Now, I seem to remember that every TV weather presenter promised that August was going to be even hotter than July. They lied! As soon as I flipped the page on my calendar, the sun went in and the clouds rolled out.

At the risk of being labelled a "fair weather birder" I have to admit that I would rather spend a wet Saturday morning enjoying a lie in than traipse about in the rain. So, when my alarm rang, early on August 5th, I wasn't too pleased to be greeted by an overcast sky. On the drive to the Clytha Arms I had an image in my mind of leading a couple of muttering, soaking unfortunates on a totally birdless plod. It didn't help that it started to drizzle whilst waiting at the meeting point.

Thankfully, 15 walkers (including seven non-members) proved that they were made of sterner stuff than myself and, undeterred by the ominous outlook, turned up. What's more, and I like to think of this as an act of divine intervention, we were rewarded by the weather dramatically improving as we set out.

Though we missed out on many common birds, we managed to rack up over 30 species and it was noticeable how the increased diversity of plants and high numbers of insects present in the Tyr Gofal areas attracted a greater density of birds than the surrounding countryside.

It was a very enjoyable morning even though my boots became un-waterproof and my dog rolled in something nasty. My highlights of the walk were Yellowhammer, family parties of Spotted Flycatcher and an obliging Hobby that showed up at two different spots, each of which held flocks of hirundines.

Llangorse Lake – 13th August

A well supported walk led by John Davies on what turned out to be a windy, but dry August Sunday morning. Over twenty members of the society met at the Llangasty church car park to enjoy a gentle 2-3 hour walk around the lake and a practical demonstration of bird ringing by Jerry Lewis. The day got off to a good start when Jerry invited the group to observe some of the early morning catch at the back of the church. These included Treecreeper, Chiffchaff, and Siskin.

Spotted Flycatcher, Nuthatch and Goldcrest were observed in the garden of the church, and a variety of finches, tits and thrushes were noted feeding in the hedgerows. Yellow Wagtail, House Martin, Sand Martin, and a couple of late Swifts were added to the list from the church car park. Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, and Coot were observed in the reed beds adjacent to the meadow footpath.

The walk continued around the lake with the list steadily growing. Great Spotted Woodpecker was added in the woodland habitat, and several more species were recorded by another practical bird ringing demonstration at the hide. These included: Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and an unexpected Wood Warbler. As we left the ringing group, Hobby, Peregrine, Buzzard, Lesser-black Backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, and Bullfinch were recorded.

On the return leg of the morning’s birding Hobby was again observed hunting low along the edge of the lake. Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Pheasant, Robin, Raven, Jay, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Mute Swan, Canada Goose and finally Yellow-legged Gull were noted back at the car park. Thanks to Jerry Lewis and his group for giving us an insight into the world of the bird ringers at Llangorse.

Many thanks to all walk leaders from Steve Butler Field Sec.

Steven Butler (01873 854583 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and Keith Roylance

Membership News

Membership Update: As of 16th October, membership categories have risen to 329.

I am sorry to announce that Mary Kenney died in August. She and John have been members since the early 70’s, and have regularly attended our indoor meetings. I am pleased to see that John is still attending our meetings.

New Gates at Llandegfedd Reservoir: Remember that from 1st November – 28th February, if you want access to the Fisherman’s car park at the north (Glascoed) end of the reservoir you will need a key that will open the gates on the approach road and the car park itself. Keys will be available from Helen at indoor meetings or by post. Current cost is £1 plus SAE though.

2007 Subscriptions: You will be aware that subscriptions are due to increase. The new rates, effective from 1st January 2007 will be:

  • Adults £12.00
  • Family £15.00
  • Junior/Senior £9.00

A form to set up/amend a standing order can be found on the back page of this issue.

Members currently paying by standing order: Normally, members paying by standing order receive their cards with the December Dipper. However, because of the increase, cards for 2007 will be issued following confirmation of payment of new rates. This can be by you telling me you have amended your standing order or, you returning the standing order amendment (on the back page of this issue) to me by 15th November and I shall forward it to your bank. You will then receive your card with the posting in December. Otherwise you will receive your cards once the treasurer has confirmed that a valid payment has been made. This will obviously incur an extra cost of time, postage and envelope, and a delay in your receiving a membership card for 2007.

Bert Hamar Memorial Bursary 2007: 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, founder of the Society. 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 31st October. A small sub-committee will consider applications, and the successful applicant will be announced at the AGM in January.

Items available at Indoor Meetings

To borrow: a selection of books, DVDs and videos from the Library.

To buy from Helen: regular items include a selection of bird food and feeders, Window Alert decals to help try to prevent window strikes by birds, plus other items such as GOS bookmarks, pencils and Dipper pins, and GOS window stickers should be available soon.

GOS Logo clothing items from Trevor Russell: You can order the established range of polo shirts (men’s & women’s designs) and sweatshirts, and the new range of long-sleeved polo shirts and “base-ball caps”. Colour choices are green, black and navy.

Information: A selection of Ordnance Survey map reading leaflets: leaflets are available at indoor meetings (or by post on receipt of an A5 size SAE with 2nd class postage of 23p for up to 3 leaflets or 37p for all 4 leaflets):

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

Arrowsmith Bristol Channel Tide Tables 2007: The tables cover the channel from Avonmouth to Milford Haven. If you would like a copy, please let Helen Jones know by the end of October. The price will be £3.50 to £4 per copy, depending on the number of copies ordered. They can be collected at Indoor Meetings or if you wish to receive the book by post from me, there would be an additional charge of 55p to cover second-class postage & envelope.

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

Committee Commentary

The September meeting received the recommendation of the SEWBReC sub-committee that GOS should sign the Agreement with SEWBReC (South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre). This would mean that GOS would submit all of its bird records to SEWBReC for computerisation onto their database. Computerisation would mean that GOS records would be used very powerfully in responding to, for example, planning proposals that would otherwise destroy or damage the biodiversity and environment in Gwent. GOS records could be used in conjunction with those from the Glamorgan Bird Club and other environmental interest groups, e.g. RSPB and CCW. After a short discussion the proposal that GOS should join with SEWBReC was agreed and carried unanimously. Details of the Agreement and the benefits to GOS can be found elsewhere in this Dipper in the form of Questions and Answers and the proposal will be put to the membership at a Special General Meeting to be held at the Indoor Meeting on November 25th.

This proposal coincides with a retrospective planning application for expansion of Whitson Aerodrome, adjacent to the Newport Wetlands Reserve. Expansion would enable many more flights into Newport to cater for events at the Millennium Stadium and golf matches at the Ryder Cup venue at the Celtic Manor. This is precisely the sort of proposal where the comprehensive data held by SEWBReC could be interrogated in order to construct a counter argument.

The proposed route of the M4 Relief Road has been announced by the Welsh Assembly Government and the protest groups, including CALM and the Friends of the Earth, are already in action. The CALM Alliance (Campaign Against the Levels Motorway) has written to WAG and issued a press release.

Some species reports have yet to be completed and peer reviews are underway, but the publication date of the Birds of Gwent book is likely to be delayed until the middle of next year because there is usually a six-month gap between submission of the final draft and its transmogrification into a book. A by-product of the tome, a ‘Where To Watch Birds in Gwent’, is virtually complete, but will not be published before the principal volume.

The Annual Report 2005 is progressing well and the joint editors have had to handle and interpret approx. 13,500 record slips! This has been a mammoth task for Verity and Chris but proof-reading has been done and the publication date now rests with the printers – where the story really starts!

Sadly, Ruth Brown has tendered her resignation as Out of County Field Organiser from the end of the year. Steve Butler will incorporate out of county trips as part of his role.

There are six Committee Member vacancies which need to be filled in 2007. If you would like to influence the way your Society is run, please put your nomination forward.

Jerry Lewis will be looking for replacement BBS observers next year to replace those who will be unable to conduct surveys in 2007.

After he has stepped down as Chairman at the 2007 AGM, it was agreed that Andrew should remain on the Committee in a new role of Conservation Liaison Officer, in recognition of the increasing demands being put upon the Society for information in response to planning applications. The Constitution allows for the Chairman to remain on the Committee for 12 months after his/her retirement in any case.

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

BTO News

To start with my usual plea for return of survey forms, or a phone call to let me know that you have been unable to do the survey. For the regular surveys, I am still awaiting the return of quite a few BBS forms and Heronry cards as well as forms for the 2006 Dartford Warbler and Woodlark surveys. I am pleased to report that both of these species bred in the County during the survey year.

A number of regular BBS volunteers are having to relinquish their squares after this year, so there will be more than usual available for next year. I will provide more details of their location in the next Dipper, but in the meantime, if anyone is interested in helping with this very important survey please let me know.

This winter (starting in October) is a wintering Lapwing/Golden Plover survey. Although we have few of the latter, we do have a few small Lapwing flocks. All sites where they are known need to be checked so if anyone can look at the Neddern Valley, the Llangibby Bottoms, the Olway Valley (NE of Usk) and the northern end of Llandegfedd reservoir, please let me know.

Other recent BTO news releases about the Breeding Bird Survey suggest that Grey Partridge, Cuckoo and Yellowhammer are having a particularly bad time. The decline of the Grey Partridge is continuing, and it is now scarce across most of the Country (and less common than the two introduced gamebirds - Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant). The Yellowhammer and Cuckoo are also causing concern, particularly in Wales. Yellowhammer is down 11% between 2004 and 2005 (and 44% down on 1994 when the BBS began) and is more common on arable landscapes in eastern England. A reduction is the availability of winter food (stubbles) is likely to be the cause of the Welsh decline, and it is hoped that the agri-environment scheme (Tir Gofal) will improve the situation.

The Cuckoo, although showing few biological similarities to the Yellowhammer, is also following the same downward trend. There has been a 16% decline between 2004 and 2005 (32% since 1994). The reasons for the decline are unclear as the key host species (Dunnock and Meadow Pipit) have increased in Wales over the same time scale. It may be that circumstances during the migration or winter periods may be driving the decline. The first ever Cuckoo to be caught at Llangorse Lake was netted in the reedbeds in August, this was a surprise for the lucky ringer as the Reed Warbler population at the Lake is one of the few in Britain not to be parasitized by Cuckoos.

On a positive note, a number of red list species have shown recent increases - Song Thrush (up 18% since 1994, the decline starting in the early 1970s being driven by poor survival.of juvenile birds), Tree Sparrow (29%), Reed Bunting (30%), Marsh Tit (33%) and Grasshopper Warbler (50%).

Jerry Lewis, BTO Representative

South East Wales Biodiversity Record Centre (SEWBReC)

The Committee is proposing that GOS should sign an Agreement with SEWBReC in which we will submit all of our bird sighting records to SEWBReC for computerisation. This will enable them to be used as a more potent tool against the burgeoning planning proposals which threaten to damage our environment and biodiversity. Further benefits are outlined below.

In an attempt to anticipate some of the questions that might arise regarding the Committee’s proposal, we have prepared some questions and answers for your consideration. Please raise any further questions at the Special General Meeting on NOVEMBER 25th (prior to the talk entitled ‘With Oxfam in Southern Sudan”) when the Committee will propose that:

“GOS should sign an Agreement with SEWBReC whereby we will submit all of our bird sighting records to SEWBReC for computerisation in order that they will be used as a more potent tool against the burgeoning planning proposals which threaten to damage our environment and biodiversity”

Q: Who and what is SEWBReC?

A: Based in Cardiff, SEWBReC is a Local Biological Records Centre. It is a not-for-profit organisation whose aims are to make local biodiversity information available to those who need it to help ensure that decisions which may affect biodiversity in the area are made in the light of the best available data. SEWBReC provides a mechanism for collating, sharing and utilising the wealth of biological data that exists in Gwent and Glamorgan. The money that comes into the organisation by providing services to its partners will be used to manage the data that it holds, and to support the community of amateur naturalists who supply those records to them.

One of four such groups covering Wales, SEWBReC covers the south eastern area, from Monmouthshire to Swansea, Glamorgan to Blaenau Gwent.

SEWBReC went live in August 2005 and is funded, amongst others, by the former WDA, (now given the catchy title ‘Welsh Assembly Government's Department of Enterprise Initiative and Networks’, WAG - DEIN), CCW, Forestry Commission Wales, Environment Agency Wales and several Borough and County Council authorities including Monmouthshire and several Wildlife Trusts (incl. GWT) Further funding is being sought to pay for extra staff, resources etc.

SEWBReC has now developed a range of data services to meet the needs of the funding partners, commercial users and local voluntary recorders including inventories, summaries, distribution maps and contextual information for species, habitats and sites. It collates not only bird sightings but those of other species e.g. mammals, insects, moths and butterflies in order to paint a comprehensive picture of the biodiversity in the area to present to customers.

Q: How much will it cost?

A: Nothing.

Q: What’s in it for us?

A: The principal benefit will be the computerisation of our records which extend back to about 1963. This will be tackled in reverse chronological order, i.e. 2005 records first, and will take about 3 years to complete. Benefits will include; a dedicated specialised team to do the data entry relatively quickly so that our records can be incorporated into the south east Wales database; our records will be used much more effectively to improve the conservation of birds and their habitats by being used to counter the many planning proposals that would otherwise damage our local environment and biodiversity; we will have the opportunity to interrogate the database for our own purposes.

Glamorgan Bird Club and Glamorgan Moth Recording Group are among those that have already signed up to such an Agreement.

Q: What’s in it for them?

A: SEWBReC wants to create a comprehensive database of the natural history of south east Wales; species, habitats and sites. This will enable them to respond more effectively to the increasing number of planning applications which threaten the biodiversity of Gwent.

Q: My records are MY records! Will I be able to oppose the proposal to hand GOS records to SEWBReC?

A: Yes. The GOS general Committee has voted unanimously to propose that GOS should join forces with SEWBReC. This proposal will now be put to the whole GOS membership at a Special General Meeting, before the indoor meeting on November 25th, to enable the membership to decide. If the vote goes against the idea of joining SEWBReC, we won’t join.

Q: What are the consequences of NOT joining with SEWBReC?

A: Your bird sighting record slips will continue to accumulate and gather dust in shoe boxes and they will never be referred to again – as has happened since 1963, 43 years ago.

More importantly, your records will never be used in an to attempt to oppose and prevent environmentally damaging projects such as the Newport Development Plan, the M4 Relief Road or the ‘Newport Aerodrome’, all of which promise to pour yet more concrete over our countryside. Trying to manipulate paper records to build an argument is simply too time consuming to be contemplated.

Your records will be used simply to create the next Annual Report. Period.

Q: What will happen to my records when I submit them to the County Recorder if we do join up with SEWBReC?

A: As now, the County Recorder will sanity check them to filter erroneous records and monitor/edit sensitive records, forward them to SEWBReC to enable them to enter the data onto their database and return them within a couple of weeks to the GOS Annual Report Editor(s). If this is done on a monthly basis throughout the year the summaries of “Data Year to Date” can be more readily incorporated into the Annual Report. If this is done on a monthly basis the prospect of publishing the Annual Report by late September becomes increasingly likely without the superhuman efforts required as at present.

Q: How can we be sure that our records are not going to be misused?

A: SEWBReC is registered as a data manager under the Data Protection Act and will comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act and any other relevant legislation or regulations. In particular it will keep all personal information secure from any unauthorised or accidental use, access, disclosure, damage, loss or destruction.

Q: Can I submit my records anonymously to avoid fraudulent use of my name?

A: Yes you can and your record will be attributed to an anonymous ‘GOS sighting’. However this will not have the same strength of impact to recipients of the data as would a personalised data record.

Q: Can we continue to protect and preserve sensitive species and nesting sites?

A: Yes, such records will continue to be monitored, as now, by the County Recorder who will decide what level of detail to publish in order to balance a) the protection of the species and/or site, yet b) reveal sufficient detail to still enable a strong argument to be made to oppose a damaging development proposal.

Submitting your records IS the most effective way of preserving and protecting sensitive species and sites because your data will be used far more effectively to oppose these damaging proposals – via SEWBReC.

Q: How long will it take for ALL of the GOS records to be computerised?

A: Approx 3 years. Records have been accumulating since our foundation in 1963. This year the number of records processed manually for the 2005 Annual Report amounted to approx. 13,500.

Q: Why don’t we computerise them ourselves?

A: Are you volunteering? How long will you take? What experience do you have? How much will you charge?

Q: Will we be able to ask for specific searches to be carried out on a species/location/time of year basis, e.g. ‘what species can I expect to see at a specific location at a particular time of year?’

A: Not yet. We are talking 3 years before all the records are computerised so this prospect is years away yet, but it should eventually be possible. Initially it will probably have to be done on a limited scale otherwise the system could be swamped with individual requests.

However, without computerisation, this prospect is simply unthinkable.

Q: What will be the impact on the production of our Annual Report if we join with SEWBReC?

A: It all depends on you! If we can receive records drip-fed on a monthly basis throughout the year everyone wins. SEWBReC can cope with the steady data entry and Report Editors can regularly update their tables and narratives. What no-one can cope with is a haemorrhage of records received in February or later, with the expectation that it will all be processed throughout the summer months. They all want to go birding too!

Q: Can we (GOS) have access to other, non-GOS, sightings in Gwent, e.g. RSPB, CCW surveys etc.

A: Yes, this is another benefit of joining with SEWBReC. We are not the only surveyors and birdwatchers in Gwent, but we never hear or see any of the other records! Such pooled data will give a much more accurate picture of the status of species in Gwent.

Q: Will we have access to other records of sightings in other counties of south east Wales, e.g. Glamorgan?

A: Yes we will. Glamorgan Bird Club has already signed with SEWBReC so their records will eventually become available from the common database. Equally they will have access to our data, adding further value to your records - if you agree to join SEWBReC.

News from the Newport Wetlands

Work on the Education and Visitor centre is due to begin this month. The contract for construction has been awarded to Stradform. The centre is expected to open next summer. In preparation for this the RSPB have been doing excellent work by bringing school groups down. The aim is that every primary school in Newport will have had at least one visit by the time the centre opens and they are well on target for achieving this. Over 1,000 school children have visited the Newport Wetlands this year and nearly 500 visited last year. CCW voluntary wardens have been assisting with these visits by showing the children the birds on the reedbeds and foreshore through scopes.

The BTO have been contracted to produce a report on progress towards our targets (two species in nationally important numbers) by analysing our bird data. I’ve seen the draft and there are a couple of big (or should that be little?) surprises! More in the next issue.

Work on the seawall has finished on schedule. We gave the Environment Agency (EA) a window of July to the end of September in order to reduce disturbance to the birds. A new wave return wall, 1.4 meters higher than the old one, has been installed along the section of seawall that fronts the western half of the Saltmarsh Grasslands. Earthworks have been completed along the rest of the seawall as far as the top of the western side of Goldcliff Pill. Further works are dependant on the EA’s budget.

Tony Pickup left at the end of July. A job advert by the RSPB failed to produce a suitable candidate, so we are still without a Senior Reserve Manager.

Goldcliff Lagoons have produced excellent numbers of passage waders over the past six weeks or so. We have to manage the lagoons very carefully to maintain the correct salinities for the invertebrates that these birds are feeding on. Therefore, I decided to let on the high tides at the beginning of September in order to get the salinities high before the autumn and winter rains. The tides were let onto the most westerly lagoons, leaving the most easterly lagoon low to provide a roosting site, whilst the other two lagoons were too high. Looking at the rain pouring down outside my office window on 5th October, I’m glad that I let the tides on when I did, as the water in Goldcliff Pill now would be too dilute with rain water to let onto the lagoons.

I’m glad it is raining as we need the water to top up our wet grassland. I’m just not looking forward to the cycle ride home. As I was cycling to work this morning I calculated that I had ridden 14,000 miles going back and for to work in the 5 years that I have been here. I’ve also ridden 1,000 miles on the ‘works’ bike around the reserve.

Kevin Dupé, Reserve Manager

Recent Sightings: June – August

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 reporting 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, apologies for any omissions: Nigel Addecott, Peter Back, Pat Balshaw, Tony Balshaw, Nicholas Beswick, ‘Billy’, Sam Bosanquet, Julian Branscombe, Steve Butler, Barry R Catlin, Maurice Chown, John Cottam, John Davies, Steve Davies, Allan Dowson, Clive Ellis, John Evans, Dick Finch, Tom Forster, John Gale, Nigel Garside, GBC, Paul Grennard, Gill Hall, Jeff Hall, Tim Hall, Graham Harris, Paul Hatton, ‘Holly’, Judd Hunt, Jackie Huybs, Barry Ingram, Mal Jenkins, Andrew Jones, Hadyn Jones, Keith Jones, Martyn Jones, Andrew King, Llandegfedd Rangers, H Lloyd, Steve Lloyd, Sian Millard, Steven Millard, Wayne Morris , Jeff O'Reilly, Dave Owen, Andy Phillips, Luke Phillips, Jackie Pointon, Mike Pointon, Ian Smith, Darryl Spittle, Ed Stevens, Mark Stevens, Steve Strutt, Tony Swann, Brian Thomas, Thornbury U3A, G T Thorne, Gareth Waite, Eddie Wang, Mike Warburton, Becky Ward, Chris West, Julie West, Steve Williams, John Wilson, Omar Yasseen.

  • Storm Petrel – Sixteen were seen off Goldcliff Point on 09th July (D. Spittle).
  • Little Egret – Reported from all the usual sites along the estuary plus two at the Nedern in late June and one or two at Llandegfedd Reservoir throughout July.
  • Spoonbill – Two unringed adults were reported from the NWR on the 2nd June and one bird on the 11th May (C. Jones & J. Branscombe).
  • Snow Goose – The lone bird, amongst the Canada Goose flock, at Llandegfedd Reservoir was reported twice in July.
  • Barnacle Goose – Single birds were seen at Llandegfedd Reservoir and Bulmore Lakes.
  • Bar-headed Goose – A hat-trick of feral geese at Llandegfedd Reservoir was completed by this species. The single bird were reported throughout the period.
  • Ruddy Shelduck – One was present at Chepstow on 15th June.
  • Ruddy Shelduck hybrid – Two birds were seen at Collister Pill on 26th August.
  • Wigeon – A single bird summered at the NWR and was reported on three occasions in July. The first returning birds were two at the NWR on 21st August, followed by six at Collister Pill on 26th.
  • American Wigeon – A single bird was reported at the NWR on 10th July (C. Ellis).
  • Pintail – The first of the autumn were two at the the NWR on 29th August.
  • Garganey – One bird was seen at the NWR on the 28th June.
  • Goosander – A female and a brood of seven was noted at The Bryn on 5th July.
  • Ruddy Duck – Single birds were at the NWR and Ynysfro Reservoir in July and five were at the NWR in August.
  • Marsh Harrier – A juvenile was at the NWR on 25th and 26th August, probably the same bird was then seen down the coast at Collister Pill also on the 26th (H. Jones & D Spittle).
  • Osprey – Four reports were noted, individuals were at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 30th June and 9th July, at Peterstone Gout on 25th July and Garnlydan Reservoir on 20th August.
  • Merlin – Two early birds were reported from the NWR and Peterstone on 9th and 24th August respectively.
  • Red Grouse – Three reports all from The Blorenge including a bird chasing a fox on 13th July!
  • Grey Partridge – Two reports were logged from the levels; one at Collister Pill on 11th June and one (heard calling) at the NWR on 31st July.
  • Quail – One was heard calling at Tymawr Llandewi on 14th July (A. King).
  • Oystercatcher – A notable record was of two birds seen at The Moorings, Newport on 25th June.
  • Avocet – Once again, all reports came from the NWR; a maximum of 11 were reported on 30th June, by the end of the period just two remained (many observers).
  • Little Ringed Plover – Noted throughout the period, the highest counts were of six birds from both the NWR and Llandegfedd Reservoir.
  • Ringed Plover – Away from the levels, a single bird was at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 10th June.
  • Grey Plover – One bird was at the NWR on 17th June, three were there on 20th August, another single on 28th August and two were seen birds at Peterstone Gout on 31st August.
  • Little Stint – The first few of the autumn were logged at NWR on 17th June, 1st July and 16th July.
  • Curlew Sandpiper – Just one sighting during the period, a single at the NWR on 2nd June. Difficult to know whether this was a late bird going north or an early bird returning south.
  • Dunlin – Away from the estuary and levels, two birds were seen at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 21st July.
  • Ruff – Returning birds were reported from late July, predictably all records came from the NWR and built up to four on 28th August.
  • Snipe – Four birds were reported from Brynmawr where drumming was heard on 7th June.
  • Long-billed Dowitcher – A bird was reported from the NWR on 8th July, unfortunately it didn’t hang around.
  • Woodcock – Two or three birds were seen at Wentwood in June and July.
  • Black-tailed Godwit – Monthly maxima at the NWR were eight in June, 58 in July and four in August (presumably the low numbers in August are more a reflection of observer coverage rather than a exodus of birds). Elsewhere high counts of three were seen at both Peterstone Gout and Collister Pill in August.
  • Bar-tailed Godwit – A single bird was at Peterstone Gout on 1st June and two were at the NWR on 16th July.
  • Whimbrel – Unusually, small numbers were reported regularly throughout the period. Particularly notable records were a migrant over Dingestow on 18th June and a large count of 37 at Peterstone on 11th July.
  • Spotted Redshank – The first of the autumn was at the NWR on 17th August, two or three birds were then reported until the months end.
  • Redshank – The only inland record was of one at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 8th July.
  • Greenshank – Reported from mid July onwards, a maximum of 11 was at the NWR on 7th August. Birds were also noted at Peterstone and Collister Pill.
  • Green Sandpiper – Reported from four sites: the NWR, Llandegfedd Reservoir, Caerleon and Peterstone Gout. The highest count was of three on several dates at the NWR.
  • Wood Sandpiper – Noted on and off at the NWR during August, all reports were of single birds except three on the 7th (many observers).
  • Common Sandpiper – Seven sites played host to this species. The highest count was of six at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 21st July.
  • Turnstone – Reported from late June, the highest count came from Peterstone Gout with 30 on 17th August. Records also came from Llandegfedd Reservoir with two on 21st July and one on 27th July.
  • Red-necked Phalarope – A juvenile at the NWR on 15th August constitutes only the fourth county record (J. Wilson).
  • Mediterranean Gull – One record logged, an adult summer must have been a nice find at Peterstone Gout on 30th June.
  • Sabine’s Gull – The bird of the summer? A smart bird in almost full breeding plumage was at Llandegfedd Reservoir on 12th and 13th July (G. Waite et al.).
  • Sandwich Tern – Two were seen at Peterstone Gout on 16th August (E. Wang).
  • Common Tern – A good run of records were noted during the period. A single bird was at Ynysfro Reservoirs on 30th June; between one and three birds were at Llandegfedd Reservoirs on 1st, 4th and 21st July; and single birds were at the NWR on 10th July, 31st July and 9th August.
  • Budgerigar – The most exotic escape of the period, one was seen at Peterstone Gout on 26th August.
  • Nightjar – Birds were reported from Trelleck in June and Wentwood through June and July.
  • Swift – The last reports during the period were singles at both the NWR and Red Pools on 28th August.
  • Tree Pipit – Breeding birds were seen at Wentwood, Blaenserchan and Mynydd Maen. In August migrants were logged at the NWR and Peterstone Gout with a maximum of four on 28th August.
  • Rock Pipit – Singles were reported from Caldicot Pill on the 12th and 22nd June perhaps suggesting a breeding attempt nearby.
  • Yellow Wagtail – Reported from mid July until the end of the period. A family party as seen at Coldbrook on 25th July. Migrants were seen along the levels with good counts of 15 at the NWR, 20+ at Peterstone Gout and 52 at Collister Pill all on 26th August.
  • Redstart – Breeding birds were reported from Mynyddislwyn, Silent Valley and Mynydd Maen. Birds on the move were represented by three reports of singles from Peterstone Gout between 15th and 24th August.
  • Whinchat – Breeding birds were seen at Mynydd Maen and Bynmawr. Migrants were then seen at Peterstone Gout on 16th and 25th August.
  • Wheatear – Recorded at four breeding sites ‘up in the hills’ and then a trickle of migrants were noted along the levels and at Llandegfedd Reservoir in August. The highest count was of six at Collister Pill on 26th August.
  • Cetti’s Warbler – Recorded from the usual sites along the levels (many observers).
  • Wood Warbler – A pair at Dingestow provided a bit of local patch excitement.
  • Spotted Flycatcher – Birds were noted breeding in Slade woods in July and August.
  • Bearded Tit – Just one report from NWR, two birds were present on 28th June (D. Owen).
  • Jackdaw – A white bird was seen at Blackwood on 3rd June.
  • Lesser Redpoll – Birds in breeding habitat were noted at Wentwood and Blaenserchan. Unusually, eight were reported from the NWR on 24th July.
  • Crossbill – One or two birds were noted at Wentwood and Slade Woods during the period.
  • Hawfinch – One or two birds were regularly reported feeding on cherry trees in Slade Woods from July to early August.
  • Yellowhammer – Breeding, of this locally scarce species, was noted at Blaenserchan.
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