Home Articles The Dipper October 2007 - Newsletter 104
October 2007 - Newsletter 104 PDF Print E-mail

All change on the GOS Committee front

Committee Commentary February

Trevor Russell

The September meeting was preoccupied with a large number of requests from Committee members to either step down at the next AGM or to have their roles reduced by either job splitting or job-sharing.  Most members have been re-elected in their positions for several years and for many, changing domestic circumstances have provoked their decision.  The lack of volunteers at successive AGMs is a common phenomenon for lots of similar organisations and it was felt that smaller roles, through job splitting or job-sharing, might make tasks more attractive and accessible to volunteers.  It was also recognised that improving the standard of, eg, The Dipper, Annual Report and other services has only been achieved by considerable personal investment of time and effort - and that perhaps this could be perceived as an intimidating standard which could only be sustained by an ongoing commitment which many might feel unsustainable - hence the focus on reducing individual workloads.

Discussion resulted in the appointment of a distribution organiser (not a formal title) to relieve Helen (Membership Secretary) by stuffing, labelling, stamping and posting envelopes of Dippers, Annual Reports etc.  We were also informed of the possibility of a new Dipper Editor, Jackie Huybs, to replace Darryl Spittle.  Jackie would be compiling the October Dipper as a trial run.

Steve Butler (Field Secretary) is hoping to gather a small team around him to help plan and lead walks in new areas of the county next year.  Report Editors Verity Picken and Chris Field dedicated huge amounts of time to producing the 2006 Annual Report for distribution at the first September indoor meeting.  Verity and Chris were congratulated for their efforts in making this possible.  They would now like a breather, and efforts are being made to break that task into bite-sized pieces using several volunteers.

Chris Jones has been County Recorder, man and boy, for 18 years.  If anyone would like to step into his shoes, please contact Chris.  In a similar vein, I would be grateful if someone could help me organise and run the Indoor Programme.

If anyone would like to make a contribution to the way the Society is run – and it need not be a large contribution or commitment – please get in touch to discuss the role that interests you most or where you may have expertise.

Many complaints were made that the mudflats at Newport Wetland Reserve were covered in seawater at precisely the time that exposed mud was required to allow feeding by passage migrants.  The re-salination of the mudflats was necessitated following the heavy July rains which reduced the salinity of the mud, but the timing was unfortunate because of the wait for a suitably high tide from which to draw seawater.  We are warned that this could be an ongoing annual problem.

A British Birds DVD has been purchased by the library.  It will be loaned to members for a two-week period free of charge, but a refundable deposit of £20 must be made before it is signed out to borrowers.

The Birds of Gwent book is likely to be published in December 2007 and we are now looking for a suitable venue and occasion at which to make the formal launch.

The BTO is looking for volunteers to undertake surveys for the UK Wintering Atlas.  See the BTO website (www.bto.org/birdatlas) for tetrad availability, or contact Jerry Lewis direct.

Chairman’s Chatter

Dave Brassey

It doesn’t really matter whether you are more familiar with Noel Coward’s This is a Changing World or David Bowie singing Ch-Ch-Changes, the sentiments are the same and apply to this club as much as life itself.

You are now reading the first of these changes as this is the first Dipper under the editorship of Jackie Huybs.  We are absolutely delighted to have Jackie on board to maintain the standards set by Helen and Darryl and wish her all the best.

Remember - this is your Dipper, so if there is anything you would like to see on a regular basis (bird quizzes have been suggested) then please let it be known to Jackie or any committee member.  Talking of committee members, if you know of anyone who would like to contribute to the running of the club then please let me know.

Text Box: Goytre House Wood The Society has been awarded a grant for an Interpretation Board to be placed at the entrance to our Nature Reserve, Goytre House Wood. We would like to incorporate photographs of the Flora and Fauna of the wood onto the board. If anyone has photographs, taken in the wood, that they wish to be considered for inclusion in the board design please send them to Keith Roylance ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) with details of the subject and when they were taken. All photos submitted will be considered by the sub committee that has been given the responsibility of procuring the interpretation board. All submissions must be made by the end of November 2007.

Dipping my toe in

Jackie Huybs, new Dipper Editor

My interest in birds began promisingly early.  I was 11 years old and sitting on my front doorstep (as we used to in those days) on a balmy summer evening, watching my older brothers play cricket in the street (ditto).  I became aware of a dozen or so dark brown birds careering wildly around the rooftops and making delightful screeching noises – a sound that would become synonymous with summer but which would take me quite some time to identify as an exclusively summer pleasure.  That was my introduction to Swifts, but it wasn’t – I admit to my eternal embarrassment - until a long time later that I realised they were migrants and I would have the thrill of their company for just three short months of the year.

It was only when I met my husband Andrew, a birder from a much more tender age, that I began to try to become better informed.  His surprising wealth of knowledge, from the exact size of a Firecrest to the UK habitat of the Golden Eagle - and different markings of the Alpine Swift - made me extremely envious, and bird books were purchased by the dozen.

I’m still not that well-informed (although the GOS sightings page is a fantastic reference tool!) and I’ll never catch up with the husband, but I do manage to impress (or bemuse) family and friends with my fledgling understanding.  Even Andrew wasn’t convinced Swifts slept on the wing and under the stars until I dragged him out there one evening and made him watch as they spiralled onwards and upwards.

I’m very lucky that I live in Blaenavon and that my hobby (so many puns, so little time) is running.  The Brecon Beacons is a wonderland for anyone interested in wildlife, particularly excellent for spying birds of prey and, as anyone who has seen my sporadic sightings on the GOS website may know, Red Grouse.  I also still thrill to the sound of a Stonechat or glimpse of a bold Wheatear, but have yet to witness the omnipresent Red Kite that everyone else seems to have spotted for the past couple of years.  I’ll just have to keep looking up!

Anyway, enough of the important stuff and onto some trivia.  I was asked to have a go at editing The Dipper because of my background in journalism.  I served my apprenticeship with the Free Press in Pontypool and moved on to the Argus before leaving newspapers for public relations and working first as press officer for the Sports Council for Wales, and then as an account manager for Newport (now Cardiff) PR agency Freshwater.  I am currently working in freelance PR/journalism (from the back bedroom where I can look out of the window as I work) and my clients include Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), Corus and the Sports Council.

I have already come to realise that editing The Dipper is not going to be nearly as daunting as I had suspected – mainly because of the extremely high standard of the contributed articles written by such stalwarts as Trevor Russell, Keith Roylance, Jerry Lewis, Chris Hatch, Tom Dalrymple and Kevin Dupe.

But I’m sure you’ll understand that voluntary organisations only survive through voluntary effort, and I’d be grateful for any contributions to help keep the newsletter as entertaining and essential as it always has been.

Please could you send any reports to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Even though the days are getting short now, winter is still a great time for birdwatching.  I’m very much hoping that last year’s Siskins, Goldcrest and Long Tailed Tits return to my

feeders.  And it’s only less than six months before the Swifts return.  Not that I’m counting, of course…

Your chance to be part of an important national project

BTO Business

Jerry Lewis

As always, I am chasing the return of survey forms at this time of year - be they BBS, Heronry cards or the Ringed/Little Ringed Plover forms.  Deadlines for receipt of these, if your results are to be included in the annual report, are fast approaching.  Please let me have them (even if single visits for the BBS or nil return for the Plovers) as soon as possible.

At the beginning of November, the next major milestone in bird recording will have started, when the first winter fieldwork for the new National Breeding and Wintering Atlas begins. Every 20 years or so, the BTO (together with its partners Birdwatch Ireland and the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club), produces an atlas of British breeding birds, and an atlas of wintering birds was produced in the late 1980s.  These are very important publications; as well as being of general and scientific interest, they help inform agricultural and conservation policy. The last breeding atlas highlighted the huge decline in many farmland species such as Grey Partridge and Barn Owl – showing the extent to which their breeding ranges had contracted. It also described the expanding ranges of some species, such as Lesser Whitethroat, Little-ringed Plover and Goshawk.

Amazingly, these authoritative atlases were based on the observations of thousands of volunteers walking around a patch of land, observing - and in some cases counting - the birds they see.  Now is your chance to take part, as the next atlas will cover the period 2007-2011 and, for the first time, will include both breeding and wintering birds.  The winter fieldwork starts in November, and the first breeding surveys will be in spring 2008.  What will the new atlas tell us?  Will the decline of farmland birds have stopped?  Will expanding species have completely different distribution maps?  Will there be new colonists or extinctions?  Only by becoming involved in the fieldwork will the true picture be painted.

Locally, I am coordinating the Gwent coverage, and the search is on for volunteers to contribute to this huge project.  Gwent has been allocated fifteen 10km squares.  Now is your chance to help with the fieldwork – a great opportunity to do some enjoyable bird watching and also contribute to an important national project.

There will be two main types of fieldwork:

  • Timed visits to a 2km x 2km square (known as a ‘tetrad’) to count everything you see/hear.  The intention is to visit tetrads twice in one of the four winter periods and twice in one of the four breeding seasons of the project.  Each visit should ideally last for two hours, and in subsequent winters/breeding seasons, other tetrads can be visited.  The aim is to have at least eight tetrads covered in each 10km square.
  • ‘Roving records’ – any records of birds you see can be submitted, provided you know where you were at the time!  This means that records of any birds you see on a birdwatching trip, on a walk - or even from your car window - can contribute to the atlas.

At the moment, volunteer interest has achieved the minimum level of coverage  (eight tetrads in each 10km square) from just six squares, but many squares in the central parts of the county have had no interest at all.  The squares urgently needing coverage are: SO20, SO30, SO31, SO40, ST29, ST38, ST39, ST48, ST49.  So if you are able to help, give me a call (01873 855091), This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.bto.org/birdatlas to see what still needs coverage and book your tetrad.

Honesty Box

Would members who arrive late at the indoor meetings please remember that an honesty box operates to catch the £1 entrance fee.  Recently we have been missing approximately £10 per meeting.

The Dipper - Circulation by email

In an effort to reduce our costs, we would like to circulate The Dipper by e-mail to as many members as possible.  A number of members are already receiving it this way.  If you would like to add your name to this group, please give your e-mail address to either Helen Jones (Membership Secretary) or Keith Roylance (Treasurer) who will make the necessary arrangements for future editions of The Dipper.

Your e-mail address will remain within GOS and will not be provided to any other organisation.  We may use it to communicate with you on GOS subjects as well as circulation of The Dipper.

Please remember to inform us if you change your e-mail address in the future – we’d hate to lose contact with you!

If you want to download The Dipper from a PDF file, you can do this from our website, www.gwentbirds.org.uk   The newsletter is normally available on the website within a few days of publication.

Situations Vacant/Help Wanted

As reported in Committee Commentary, a large number of committee members would like to either stand down or have their roles reduced to ‘bite-sized’ pieces through job-sharing.  Many committee members have been in their positions for several years and for some, their changing domestic circumstances prevent them from continuing in office or carrying out their functions as they would like.  Others would simply appreciate additional help.

For reasons of continuity, we would like to have a degree of succession planning, with substitutes sitting on the bench who have already been groomed in some of the roles.  Please read the list below to see if there is anything that sparks an interest or matches your experience or expertise. If so, please use the contact list on the back page to get in touch.

Vice Chairman

Would be expected to be elected as Chairman when Dave Brassey steps down in five years’ time.  In the meantime, would be groomed in that role by occasionally stepping into Dave’s shoes in his absence.

Annual Report Editor(s)

Verity Picken and Chris Field have certainly raised the bar with their last two publications, but would now appreciate a break.  With SEWBReC now computerising our record slips and Chris having resolved many computer issues, a lot of the backbreaking workload has been reduced.  There are also plans to sub-divide and delegate many of the tasks to minimise the individual workloads.  Verity and Chris would be willing to help any aspiring editors and contributors.

County Recorder

Chris Jones has been our Recorder for more years than he cares to think about.  This role would appeal to someone who has a good knowledge of birds and birding in the county and would like to keep on top of events happening out of county too.

Field Secretary

Various opportunities present themselves in either a walk-planning role or as walk leaders in various local areas around the county.  Steve Butler would be pleased to head up a small group of volunteers.

Indoor Programme Organiser

For reasons lost in the mists of time, the role of Secretary has involved organising the Indoor Programme – and Trevor would love a break, or at least some help.  If someone would like to familiarise himself or herself with what’s involved, please get in touch.

Kitchen Organiser

There’s always lots of help ‘on the night’ so this involves turning up at the meeting with the milk and biscuits, putting the kettle on and setting up for the refreshments - and you get to meet wonderful people!  Contact Trevor Russell

Madeira – a holiday island with birding experiences

Keith Roylance

Madeira, known as ‘Flower island’ and located in the Atlantic Ocean some 608 km west of Morocco, is home to a variety of birds - some of which are similar in appearance to our UK birds, but are in fact sub-species specific to Madeira and other islands in the archipelago.  It is also the only known breeding location for Zino’s Petrel.

Madeira is a mountainous island, the highest point being Pico Ruvio at 1862 metres.  The neighbouring Pico de Arieiro, at 1810 metres (cf Ben Nevis at 1380 metres), is the only known breeding site of Zino’s Petrel.

A total 15% of the island is covered by the laurisilva forest.  Two types of laurisilva exist: the south facing slopes have dry laurisilva, while north facing slopes have moist laurisilva, with a canopy reaching some 25 metres.  The forest is a remnant of one that used to cover the majority of the island, and what remains is protected within a National Park.

At the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland last year, I made contact with an eco tour company based on Madeira, Madeira Windbirds - run by Hugo Romano and Catarina Fagundes - which offered various organised trips to see the birds, flora and fauna of the island and surrounding sea.  I chose a full day birdwatching trip and a night expedition to the roosting and breeding site of Zino’s Petrel, booking in advance via the internet.

The first trip planned was the night expedition – a nocturnal programme restricted to the rare Zino’s Petrel, involving access to a location near its colony and specifically to hear the sound of its calls, possible views depending on the moon phase and weather conditions.

I was collected from my holiday location at 9pm by Hugo and Catarina in a minibus, only to find I was their only passenger that night.  They are both so enthusiastic that I’m sure they run their trips as much for their own enjoyment as for visitors!  The day had been fine and warm with clear skies, and that night there was a full moon.  However, as we drove inland and up into the mountains, the weather deteriorated - low cloud, followed by drizzle, then heavy rain with increasing wind.  As we arrived at the parking spot, the minibus was rocking from side to side and the rain was coming down in torrents.  Catarina stood outside for a few moments and decided it was unsafe to continue as there was a 25-minute ‘not so easy’ trek from the parking spot up and down the mountain, with cliffs and drops surrounding the path before reaching the location.  Even after a brief stop at the coast to watch Cory’s Shearwaters coming in to roost, I was back in my apartment by 11pm.  I was assured, however, that another attempt would be made and we would discuss arrangements on Saturday’s full day nature tour.

Saturday dawned dry but overcast.  I was picked up at 9.15am by Hugo, with one other bird watcher (another Keith).  The planned route would take us to farmland, forests, coastal areas, watercourses and high altitude vegetation.  Walks would be undertaken at each location and it was hoped to see a number of passerines, raptors, waders and seabirds.

We headed west along the coast road, stopping first at Lagoa do Lugar de Baixo, a small saline marsh wetland next to the sea.  Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Moorhen, Little Egret and Waxbills were noted.  At the extreme westernmost point is Ponta do Pargo, which comprises a cliff that rises to over 600m, backed by open moorland.  A lighthouse dominates the cliff edge but also gives limited shelter to the smaller birds.  Bertholots Pipit, Rock Sparrow, Canary, Kestrel, Buzzard and Peregrine were noted landward, while Common Tern and Yellow legged Gull were seaward.

Travelling generally northeast, we arrived at the coast at Porto Moniz after driving over the central mountain range that seems to divide Madeira into two distinct areas.  Mist limited our views at the higher altitudes.  After a lunch of the local fish dish, we moved on to a stony beach just outside the town. Added to our list here were Green Winged Teal (the first time it had been recorded at this location) and Roseate Tern.

We travelled inland to the laurisilva forest for the endemic Trocaz Pigeon. After a walk into the forest and a sustained wait in a light drizzle, we were rewarded with rather distant views of a number of the birds.  Time was going on, so we made our way back to the minibus - only to have two Trocaz Pigeon fly past at eye level and land in trees some 500m away, providing much better views!  Also noted were Madeiran Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Blackbird and Chaffinch.  It was an enjoyable day in a variety of habitats.  A limited number of species were noted, but Madeira has only 40 breeding species.  However, the endemics were seen.  Arrangements were made for the Zino’s Petrel expedition to take place Monday evening.

It was a much better evening on Monday.  Arriving at the parking spot at 10.15pm, we ensured we had warm clothing and were fitted out with head torches to light our way along the tracks.  We arrived at the ‘listening’ point about 11pm, moonlight was almost non-existent, so the chance of seeing birds was minimal.  Almost immediately, the strange calls of the Petrels were heard - the higher pitched being the males, apparently, while the females’ were much deeper.  Their call is described in field guides as ‘long drawn out mournful wailing, likened to a whimpering small dog’ (I thought it was more like a mournful sheep!)  Luck was on our side on this occasion for as we listened intently at sounds that you felt you could touch, two birds flew over only some five to seven metres above us.  Both Hugo and Catarina took the opportunity to count the calls while we were there, and this information is fed back to the Zino Foundation, which is trying to ensure the survival of Zino’s Petrel.  Manx shearwaters were also heard calling in the area.

The walk to and from the viewpoint was interesting in the dark as although you could feel the cliffs to one side, there seemed only a black void on the other.  Guardrails were in position at certain points along the way.  The wind at 1800 metres is also much stronger than one is used to.

On asking Hugo on our return to the minibus about the terrain, he commented that ‘if you fell off at certain points you could count to five before you hit the ground’.  It’s better to ask that sort of question after the walk than before!  I would highly recommend Madeira Windbirds to anyone visiting the island.

Other birds were noted while on holiday, particularly along the Levada walks - irrigation channels cut into the hillsides with footpaths along their sides.

Alphabetic species list of a two week holiday (species and subspecies endemic to Madeira and Macaronesia are in bold type):

  1. Berthelots Pipit.
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blackcap
  4. Buzzard
  5. Canary
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Common Tern
  8. Cory’s Shearwater.
  9. Feral Pigeon Goldfinch
  10. Greenfinch
  11. Green winged Teal
  12. Grey Wagtail
  13. Kestrel
  14. Linnet
  15. Madeira Firecrest.
  16. Manx Shearwater
  17. Moorhen
  18. Pallid Swift
  19. Plain Swift
  20. Robin
  21. Rock Dove
  22. Rock Sparrow.
  23. Roseate Tern
  24. Sparrowhawk
  25. Trocaz Pigeon.
  26. Yellow legged Gull
  27. Zino’s Petrel
  28. Waxbill
  29. Common Sandpiper
  30. House Martin
  31. Little Egret
  32. Mallard
  33. Redshank
  34. Turnstone


Madeira Windbirds: www.madeirabirds.com , Tel: +351 917 777 441

Web information   www.madeira-birdwatching.com


Birds of the Atlantic Islands – Tony Clark, Helm Field Guides.

Where to watch birds in the Madeira Archipelago – Claudia Delgado, SPEA (part of birdlife international)

A birdwatchers guide to Portugal and Madeira – Moore, Elias & Costa, Bird Watchers Guides, Prion Ltd.

What might have been!

Keith Roylance

The annual GOS walk along the flank of Mynydd Maen was scheduled for May 28 (late spring bank holiday Sunday).  As we can all probably recall, a severe weather warning was in force, with gales and heavy rain forecast.  The walk this year was also listed in the Torfaen Walks schedule, so a reasonable turnout had been expected.

At 8am, Mick Bailey and Keith Roylance were at the designated meeting point - with no GOS members in sight, but two hardy Torfaen residents willing to brave the elements.  A shortened walk was then undertaken, initially in a light drizzle, but as the walk progressed so the rain became heavier.  We headed up towards Llanderfel Farm, taking a right at the farm with open countryside on our left and field boundary on the right.  Continuing along the track until it split, we decided to take the downward track towards Graig Road.  And on meeting Graig Road, we returned to our start point - some two hours after we had set out.

Weather and visibility being so poor, only 15 species were noted: Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Blue & Great Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Willow Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Swallow, Raven, Crow and Magpie.

How different it could have been – a recce of the proposed route had been undertaken on Wednesday, May 23.  The weather was warm and dry with a slight breeze, and visibility was excellent.  Birds were vocal and visible.  The Whitethroat was again present in the brambles edging the first field – an annual sighting location.  A first for this route was a clear sighting of a Spotted Flycatcher, while along the flank, at least three family parties of Wheatear were seen compared to singles in previous years.  While Stonechat were present in numbers, there were no Whinchat seen or heard.

So how did our sightings compare?  During the recce, 38 species were noted: Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Stonechat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Crow, Magpie, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Linnet.

Significant Sightings – August & September 2007

Chris Hatch


Single Spoonbills were present at Newport Wetlands (August 16 and 25).  A Wood Sandpiper was recorded at the same site (from August 12), as was a Little Gull (17th).

An Aquatic Warbler was present at the Newport Wetlands Reserve (from August 12).  Up to four Pectoral Sandpipers were also recorded at the same site (from August 14).  A Black Redstart was present at the Rassau Industrial Estate (from August 7).

Newport Wetlands Reserve

Sightings of note included single Marsh Harriers (August 11, 13 and 29), a Ring Ouzel (August 13), a Merlin (24th) and 17 Little Egrets (25th).  Waders increased in numbers during the month and included up to two Spotted Redshank (31st).

Good numbers of waders were present throughout September, with the more notable sightings including up to four Little Stint, three Spotted Redshank, 11 Avocets and six Curlew Sandpipers present.  Other sightings of note included a male and female Marsh Harrier (September 7), a female Marsh Harrier (16th), two Arctic Terns (26th) and a Merlin (29th).

Other sites

Red Kites were reported from the Brynmawr area (August 11, 25 and 27).  Single Mediterranean Gulls were recorded at Bettws (19th), Caerleon (27th) and Sluice Farm (29th).  A Common Scoter was observed at Peterstone Gout (August 19), a female Marsh Harrier and an Arctic Tern were reported from Garnlydan reservoir (20th), a Merlin was seen at Blaenafon (23rd) and two Spotted Redshank were recorded at Caerleon (26th).  At Llandegfedd Reservoir, a Pink-footed Goose was reported (30th).

In September, Barn Owls were reported from Tredegar (a pair on 13th), Abergavenny (18th), Chepstow (27th) and Gwernesney (30th).  A pair of Red Kites were observed at Coed Morgan (13th) and a female Hen Harrier was reported from Garnlydan (28th).  Other sightings of note included a Manx Shearwater, taken into care at Beaufort (19th), 11 Little Egret at the Nedern (22nd), a Mediterranean Gull at Caerleon (25th) and 14 Little Egrets at Undy (28th). The first Redwings and Fieldfares were reported from various sites late month.

Birds of Gwent

It is expected that the Birds of Gwent will be published by Helm during December 2007 at a recommended selling price of £40.

The GOS editors are in negotiation with Helm to offer a reduced price to GOS members who wish to purchase the book through the Society. We would expect to have more details in time for the next (December) edition of The Dipper.

In the meantime if anyone wishes to pre-order via the Society please give Andrew Baker your name, membership number and address. This is so we can obtain sufficient copies to satisfy the demand for this much awaited publication.

News from the Newport Wetlands

Tom Dalrymple, Reserve Manager.

Breeding results 2007

The breeding season was something of a mixed bag this year.  Avocet (singular or plural?) did well, fledging 11 chicks from six pairs.  Lapwing were again heavily predated and managed to fledge 12 young from 45 nests, with a probable egg survival rate of 42% and a chick survival rate of 21%.  Only three Redshank nests were detected on the reserve, and I only have evidence of one brood.  Next year we will adopt the standard RSPB surveying method, which is more intrusive, but I hope will give a clearer picture of Redshank breeding success.  Oystercatchers produced two chicks from three pairs.  Ring Plover fledged two chicks and Little Ringed Plover fledged one.  Six Juvenile Bearded Tits have been seen, however we know they did not use the breeding platforms provided so it is possible that more birds fledged.


Wet Grassland

A Lapwing assessment was carried out earlier this year.  The two main findings were that there are still to many high hedges and there is too much rush on many of the fields.  Most of the summer has been spent weed wiping and topping rush in an effort to get the fields back to approximately 30% rush.  We have also lowered most of China basin lane to below six feet to try and create an open vista where Lapwings can have advanced warning of approaching predators.


In an effort to try to attract seed eating passerine, Kevin sowed 2.2Ha adjacent to Farmfield Lane with a mixed crop of sunflowers, kale and various other tasty plants.  The sunflowers are now going over and beginning to attract birds.  The Goldcliff ringers have kindly lent their expertise to this project.  We will co-ordinate our regular monitoring with mist netting activities organised by the ringers to gain as much information as possible with the minimum disturbance.

Goldcliff Lagoons

Getting enough stock on the lagoons at the right time has been a problem this year, however we have resorted to topping as well as grazing and I’m confident the fields will be in condition for the winter.  The invertebrate survey has just been completed.  Results aren’t in yet but the early signs are that the biomass is increasing.  Just as well if the reserves’ Avocet population continues to expand at its current rate!


There’s a lot to do before the visitor centres’ official open day on March 6, 2008.  Ridge and furrow grassland and a reed bed have got to be created in the RSPB field.  More paths need resurfacing, there will be more benches to go out and the reed screens will need repairing.


Grazing had to stop west of Goldcliff Pill in early July this year due to the Environment Agency’s flood defence work on the sea wall.  That work has been completed now and all the reinstatement has been done, except for collecting a large pile of soil opposite Chapel Lane.  I have heard nothing to suggest that they will be back next year to continue around the lagoons.

2006 Annual Report

The report has been distributed at recent indoor meetings. The remaining eligible members should receive the report in the post by November 10, 2007.  If you haven’t received it by this date, please contact the membership secretary ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) - it may be that you have not paid the updated membership subscription rate.

Pointons’ paper chain donation

Grateful thanks are due once again to enterprising husband and wife team Mike and Jackie Pointon, who have made another donation to the Society.  The staunch GOS supporters have donated £16.53 generated from collecting waste paper and selling it through the recycling chain.   A simple idea, effectively executed.

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