Thursday 19 February 2015

Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve

Feb 16 2015 RSPB Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve, Gwent Wales. Rain and Overcast. 6c

The skies were grey, the rain showers slowing my progress around the wetlands. I took temporary shelter between squalls in one of the hides overlooking the reed beds. The ponds held numerous pairs of Tufted Ducks, Mallard and Moorhens but fewer birds than my previous visit.

 I had hoped to see a Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus) but the wind and rain meant the birds were hunkered down and not showing. Not to be outdone I took the trail to the lighthouse to watch the flocks of Dunlin, Shelduck and Mallard plodding about on the muddy Severn Estuary shoreline.

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The Severn Estuary looking toward Somerset from Wales.

 It was muddy underfoot and I was beginning to think about returning to the visitor centre when I noticed three Stonechat feeding on the weather beaten wildflowers.
 Female Stonechat (Saxicola torquatos) in the rain.
When the rain ended I made my way through the woodland walk. A flock of Goldfinch flashed through the undergrowth. Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Blue Tits, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Tree Creepers flitted from branch to branch. Everything was quiet when out of the tree canopy a flock of Common Redpoll descended in front of me, a second lifer of the day after the Stonechat. I soon forget the rain. I used the lightweight Tamron 150mm-600mm and the D7100 handheld which allows me to travel long distances without the associated neck and shoulder pain of the 500mm F4 and tripod. There is a small drop in quality but as I mentioned in an earlier blog I'm not out to change the world but just have a enjoyable birding experience.
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) ssp cabaret
*Thanks to Mike King for pointing out my error calling it Common Redpoll.

Out of the corner of my eye was one of my target birds the Bullfinch. It didn't stay long enough for a photo. In a farmers field a large frock of Fieldfare were feeding, another lifer. The rain began again so it was onward only to come across a flock of Reed Bunting. The light was so low I was shooting at between ISO 1000-1600.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) 

I walked on only to come across the same flock, this time with the birds and grasses bathed in the 'sweet light' of the afternoon sun.
Reed Bunting 
I had been out for two hours and the weather was improving and as I made my way back to the excellent visitor centre for a cup of tea I came across my favourite UK bird the Goldfinch.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Before I reached the visitor centre I came across Greenfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Pheasant and this Mute Swan carving in the children's playground.
Mute Swan (Paintus ornamentus)

More about Newport Wetlands.

I hope to get out and see a few more birds before I leave the UK so until then, good birding!

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
The Wye Valley near Tintern Abby.

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