Canada Goose 60 (5 pairs nesting, one pair with 7 young)
Greylag Goose 11
Moorhen 12 (one pair with 2 young)
Great Crested Grebe 2 pairs. The breeding pair have had their nest washed away by the rise in water level from this weeks rain.
Mute Swan 1 pair, the adult is still sat on the nest.
Grey Wagtail 1 feeding
Lesser Black-backed Gulls 22
Sand Martins 12 some entering holes in the castle walls.
A male Peregrine flew low and fast over Newport Riverfront today trying to catch one of the feral pidgeons.
Also in the Machen area I watch a Siskin gathering nesting material.
Ten people booked up for my annual dawn chorus walk in conjunction with Cwmcarn Scenic Drive. The rain stopped just before the walk started at 5.30am so we were lucky there. Twnety six species were seen and heard starting with Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Wrens. A Siskin flew overhead calling. As we walked slightly uphill into a Birch and Beech habitat we began hearing Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. Robins, Nuthatch, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a Song Thrush were all present, and fly over Carrion Crows and Ravens offered the group the chance to distinguish the two species.
At least three Wood Warblers were calling and a Bullfinch was heard breifly. Jays were showing well as we dropped down towards the tarmac section and a Coal Tit was calling. On the feeders by the hut were Siskins, Blue Tits and Great Tits, with another Jay and a pair of Chaffinches close by.
We followed the strean back to the visitor centre watching a Grey Wagtail along the way. A Dipper was sat up on the rocks showing it's white belly off. A Grey Heron stood in the open on the path before flying off, and five Mallards were on the lake. A Dunnock was feeding low down and a Chiffchaff was singing from the top of a Willow.
A great half a day's birding today around the Blorenge. Twenty species were seen starting with Meadow Pipits and Skylarks which were quite numerous. A male Peregrine flew overhead. Carrion Crows were busy mobbing the local Buzzards. Ravens were in small numbers and 2 Swallows flew through. a pair of Kestrels were hunting and flying around together.
Two species I visited specifically to see didn't disappoint, and I had lovely views of a male Cuckoo and a pair of Whinchats. A third Whinchat was found close by. Nearby was a male Common Redstart calling, 3 displaying Tree Pipits, Chaffinch, Wren, Willow Warbler and a pair of Linnets. As I dropped down into a wooded valley, a male Yellowhammer was singing from the top of a Birch tree.
A Green Veined White butterfly was seen along with a Robin, Blackcap and a circling Red Kite.
Our male Blackcap is still visiting the garden on a daily basis. The female has been seen a few times too but has dissapeared again.
A Wood Warbler was in full song this week at St Julian's Woods near Caerleon.
A cracking morning's birding with 39 species seen. En-route to hide 1 was a Little Egret and 2 Cormorants flying over, with Chaffinch, Magpies, Woodpigeons, Wren, Greenfinch and a pair of Moorhens also seen. From the first hide the birds were in good numbers, and included 66+ Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plovers, Lapwing, Shelduck, 55+ Avocets (some on nests), Common Redshanks, Canada Geese, 2 Oystercatchers, Shoveler, Teal, a Spotted Redshank showing very well as it fed close to the hide and the highlight of the day - a pair of Black-winged Stilts. Fantastic. A Common Buzzard took a chick (possibly Lapwing or Moorhen) and devoured it from a perch.
Grey Herons, Tufted Ducks, Mallards and 2 more Little Egrets were also seen from here, and a distant flock of Swallows had around 15 Common Swifts mixed in - my first swifts of the year. Large groups of Shelduck were seen on the mudflats from the sea wall along with numerous Herring Gulls, 1 Great Black-backed Gull and several Curlew.
From the third hide was a single Black-tailed Godwit, Skylarks, Raven, Gadwall, Common Pochards and a distant Kestrel hunting. A Sedge Warbler was heard calling on the way back to the car. A female Peregrine was circling with a Buzzard.
A nice little selection of birds this afternoon begining with Gelligaer Common where a Blackbird was feeding amongst a group of Jackdaws. A Common Buzzard was being mobbed by 3 Carrion Crows and a male Wheatear looked to be in excellent condition as it sat in the top of a Birch tree. A Swallow flew over and small groups of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were passing through.
Moving on to the Tir-y-Felin valley just above Deri, I seen my first of the year Common Redatart - a fine male singing away. Close by a Tree Pipit calling was also my first of the year. Also here were Chaffinches, a Crow sitting on its nest, Great Tit, Skylark calling, a Willow Warbler singing, Blue Tits, Green Woodpecker calling, Coal Tit, Goldfinch and a Raven overhead. A second Wheatear was seen this time a female.
Once on the higher ground the mist was still low and visibility was reduced. However, on the Issac Morgan east and west ponds, a pair of Coot were seen on each and a pair of Teal flew through. The nearby Fochriw Feeder Pond had a pair of Mallard present.
Below are the comments from my guided bird walks which I done back in March for the Crickhowell Walking Festival, word for word as they were written by participants who took the time to complete the feedback forms and return them to the Crickhowell Resource Centre. Very encouraging I thought...
First class - very knowledgeable.
Nev, brilliant. How does he know all those sounds?
Very good day.
Very knowledgeable leader.
lovely experience - very knowledgeable guide.
Very knowledgeable on flora nad fauna.
Most enjoyable lovely walk - will do more next year.
Always informative and interesting and a beautiful walk.
Would like to do this again next year. Leader knowledgeable and informative.
What an excellent experience. I do hope he does this again next year.
As part of the 2014 festival, I will be leading guided walks again during the walk, starting with the very popular Usk Valley walk on the first day, followed by a walk in a stunning valley off the A40 and on day three possibly a walk around the Fan Frynach Reserve and perhaps take in a section of the Roman Road.
There are still several Siskins around, and today it was a nice surprise to see a male Redpoll in the Hazel trees in our garden.
The variety of summer visitors are increasing too in the area - with Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Cettis Warbler (Kenfig), Sand Martins (Caerphilly Castle Moat), House Martins and Swallows all seen.
Despite the damp and the winds, 32 species were seen on a circular walk around the lake including 43 Canada Geese with several pairs nesting, 17 Tufted Ducks, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, a pair of Shoveler, 28 Coot with one pair nesting, 20 Mallard, 2 pairs of Great Crested Grebes with one pair nesting, 2 Moorhens and 2 pairs of Mute Swans. Swallows, Sand and House Martins were aerial feeding over the lake.
Other species seen included Magpies, Carrion Crows, Song Thrush singing, 3 Willow Warblers - my first this year, Grey Heron, Wren, Blackbirds, Blue Tit, 2 Skylarks singing, Chaffinch, Robins, Woodpigeons, Common Buzzard, Jackdaws, Dunnock, Jays, Great Tit and a Linnet.
Good views of a Red Kite over Machen this afternoon. Three Common Buzzards also seen and a male Sparrowhawk hunting.Also my first House Martins of the year.
At 10.24hrs this morning also in Machen, I was surprised to hear a Tawny Owl calling.
The male has now been joined by a female... Excellent.
Species recorded during the water bird count (WeBS) today included:
Mallard - 28
Mute Swan - pair nesting
Moorhen - 9 with one pair nesting (2 chicks seen)
Greylag Goose - 5
Canada Goose - 71 with 3 pairs nesting (nest with 3 eggs and 2 nests with sitting birds).
Great Crested Grebe - 2 pairs present with one pair breeding (adult sat on nest).
Common Sandpiper - 1 present feeding along narrow mud bank on the Crescent Road side
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 86
Herring Gull - 5
Common Buzzard - 1 flying overhead
Sand Martin - 16 aerial feeding near to the main entrance
The male Blackcap has returned to the garden again today to feed.
My first Swallow sighting of the year tonight. One flying over Ystrad Mynach at 1950hrs...
My first Blackcap of the year, a fine male which turned up late afternoon in our garden and fed for over an hour on the fat balls and fat block put out for the other birds. Excellent.
GUIDED BIRD WALKS AVAILABLE FOR THE SPRING AND SUMMER FOR THE SITES MENTIONED IN THE LATEST NEWS SECTION PLUS MANY MORE SITES ELSEWHERE.
PLEASE EMAIL TO ARRANGE A WALK WHETHER IT BE FOR YOURSELF OR A GROUP OR EMAIL TO ENQUIRE WHEN THE NEXT SET OF WALKS ARE DUE.
SOME OTHER WALKS DUE OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS TO SEE SPECIALIST SPECIES INCLUDE
1 WARBLERS, WHINCHAT AND SUMMER VISITORS TO COMMON LAND 2 BIRDS OF PREY 3 CUCKOOS
4 NIGHTJARS 5 DAWN CHORUS 6 COMMON CROSSBILLS
7 PLANTS AND FUNGI
Starlings, House Sparrow, Collard Dove, Greenfinch, Woodpigeons, Dunnock and Wren were near to the reserve centre. Moving into the dunes we saw Robins, Blackbird, Chaffinches, a Chiffchaff calling with another seen near to the hide, Meadow Pipits, Magpies, Great Tit, Bullfinch and breif views of a Cetti's Warbler - we could certainly hear it.
On the pool from the hide were Canada Geese, a Mute Swan, 1 Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Mallards, a large group of Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, a few Teal, Moorhen, a pair of Gadwall, Cormorant and a single Lapwing calling and flying overhead.
Moving on into the dune system we watched 4 Jays flying through, several Skylarks singing and displaying, Long Tailed Tits, Pied Wagtail and a Song Thrush. A large waterlogged area held several water birds including more Canada Geese, Mallards, 16 Shoveler, 1 Tufted Duck, 6 Teal and a pair of Mute Swans. A total of 14 Common Snipe were flushed as we walked through the dunes. Meadow Pipit numbers were impressive with close to fifty counted flying and calling in the area. A male Reed Bunting was seen.
From Sker Beach we scanned through an exsposed mussel bed about 200 yards out where 217 Herring Gulls were present along with a single Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Oystercatchers and 6 Turnstones. A Great Crested Grebe was also close by. A female Wheatear was at Sker Point. From the point we made our way to the dry stone walls at the field edge towards Sker House. A pair of Wheatears were found and a group of about 20 Golden Plover were located some way off in one of the fields. Feather remains of at least two Plovers were also found.
Near to the house were 3 Fieldfares feeding and a female Linnet. Finally, Goldfinches and a male Stonechat sin ging were the last species to be seen during the morning walk.
Gelligaer Common this morning had 15 Fieldfares feeding near to the Mount Pleasant and cemetery area just above Fochriw.
Also, my first this year, a male Wheatear near to where the Howells Coaches area is located before you drop down to join Deri.
50+ Starlings were in a field just above the cattle grid at Heol Ddu by the school.
We got together with the Star Inn at Tal-y-bont on Usk to give an Easter workshop to local children. The event involved myself giving a talk for about an hour on bird feathers, nests and eggs. Different feathers were on hand to show the group along with a few skulls, nests other artefacts. The morning group seen five children taking part along with their parents and eleven children and adults in the afternoon group.
A copy of my third book was donated to one child from each group (the book covers my travels here and abroad), and the talk was followed by a gentle guided walk of about two miles in the Usk Valley to look for different birds and to learn their calls. The mosses and lichens which made up parts of the nests were pointed out, and a Fox scat was found and shown to the group, as were numerous spring plants.
Thirty one species of bird were seen on the morning walk despite the cold weather including Mallards, Mistle Thrushes, Jackdaws, Blue Tit, Coal Tit calling, Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying over,Woodpigeons, Goldcrest calling, Common Buzzards, raven, Carrion Crows, Jay, Chaffinches, Pied Wagtail, Blackbirds, Robin, Dunnock, Song Thrush, long Tailed Tits, Herring Gulls and Meadow Pipits. The star birds however were a pair of Goshawks circling for some time before dissapearing over the next valley. We had another surprise as I thought they had all left, but two Fieldfares were feeding with three Mistle thrushes. A Dipper showed well along the river where a Wren and Goldfinches were also seen. A Green Woodpecker was heard. Near to the canal in a field were House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Great Tit and several Rooks.
The temperature had warmed up by the afternoon walk, and most of the above sepcies were seen with new species including a Nuthatch, Collard Dove, and again surprinsingly, 22 redwings feeding - again I thought they had all returned back to the north... We had another view of the Goshawk too, this time just the female.
An excellent little event which was well received by all who attended. My personal thanks to the Star Inn for their contribution and help, and as always, a cracking lunch time meal too.
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