Thursday 1 May 2014

Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve Wales

April 10, 2014 Newport Wetlands, Nr Newport, Gwent, South Wales Morning fog then sun.

I finally made it to the Newport Wetlands. My goal was to investigate an area that I had never birded before and possibly get a sight of the Bearded Tit (Panurus biaricus)

Note the signage in both Welsh and English.

The reserve was clouded in fog when I arrived which made photography almost impossible. Despite visibility issues there were plenty of birds around. One in particular, the Pochard was high on my list, it looks like a Canvasback or a very close relative.
Pochard (Aythya ferina)

The light continued to be a challenge but as I made my way toward the lighthouse I saw my first Bearded Tit , it was deep in the reeds and not in range to photograph. I was to see three more but alas not a decent photograph.

Next up was a Whitethroat and a pair of Linnet, both photographed at a distance but at least the light was improving.
Linnet (Cardeulis cannabina)
Year round reside UK and European finch.

Whitethroat (Sylivia communis)
The same bird above and below but notice how the quality of light can change appearance. 

The Whitethroat can be found in thorn scrub and hedgerows.

As the light improved so did the birding, thanks mainly to another John who I had met on the trails. The two of us spent the rest of the day looking for the cuckoo which we heard and briefly spotted.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) Male and female.
In Vancouver during the winter of 2014 there was a mini twitch on a male Tufted duck meanwhile in the UK a Lesser or Greater Scaup is a noteworthy find.
As I made my way  back to the interpretive centre for a coffee I spotted this Grebe snacking on what may be a stickleback.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
The largest of the European grebes
At the excellent interpretation centre there are a couple of feeders and one of the more frequent visitors were a flock of Greenfinch.
Greenfinch  (Carduelis chloris)
Rather than the boring feeder shot I chose a reed bed near by where I could see the Greenfinches staging their raids on the free seed. I could have said I stalked these bird with much cunning and expertise but that wouldn't be the case. Sorry to spoil the illusion! 

As I photographed the Greenfinches, a Reed warbler was busy chattering away about twenty feet in front of me, the problems again were the dense reed bed. Finally after a dozen attempts, a gust of wind pushed the bird into view and voila!
Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
The light was beginning to improve so my new found birding buddy John and myself headed off to Goldcliff to observe the Lapwing and Avocet chicks that had newly hatched. We missed the Garganey and the Spoonbill but there was plenty of action and plenty of birders who helped point out new species such as the Little-ringed Plover.

I "phissed" this Sedge Warbler to the only bush in the reed bed. 
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Another great day came to an end with the nagging wish I had been able to get a better picture of the Bearded Tit, an exotic looking Babbler that would not look out of place in the tropics. I am told by reserve staff there are perhaps thirty in the reserve reed beds. Presently they are busily building their nests or feeding young. The birds winter in the UK and change their diet from insects to seeds.

Anyway, planning my next trip before I return to Canada

                     So far in this trip I have ticked sixty-eight species of which 32 are "Lifers"

For more information 

Good Birding
John Gordon

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