Tuesday 19 May – RSPB Newport Wetlands

The prospect of hail and blustery wet conditions did not deter the group of 23 hardy members. The birds were in full voice in the bushes and hedgerows all around the reserve including Robin, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Song Thrush and Blackbird, with a Cetti’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat seen by a few. At the centre, Greenfinch, Sparrow and Goldfinch were added. The pond had Coot with young, and a Little Grebe showed on the return. At the start of the walk towards the lighthouse the Bearded Tits were flying to and fro across the reeds. A few members saw a Reed Bunting but Reed Warblers were keeping low although noisy enough. A Sedge Warbler sitting in a small tree gave everyone a good view. We were listening to a Cuckoo in the distance when one and then two flew around the reeds giving wonderful views. A perching individual allowed some telescope views. Later a third cuckoo joined the pair before it went off in a different direction. The tide was going out at the estuary but Shelduck, Curlew, and a Brent Goose were seen. Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swifts were swooping over the reed beds. The RSPB have built an artificial Sand Martin nest by the centre but it has not attracted any to nest as yet. After lunch the weather began to change but we headed to Goldcliff and shelter in the hides when a sudden hailstorm had us closing the windows to avoid a battering. The Avocets did not appear to have young but a few birds were sitting in the grass. We added Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gadwall, Shoveller and Tufted Duck to the list. The Canada Geese had a few goslings but the Redshank chicks located the previous week were not seen. A Skylark was heard and a Buzzard was the only raptor of the day. A small group was keen to go onto Magor Marsh Nature Reserve to see the Water Voles. The Gwent Wildlife Trust have released over 200 Water Voles and have set up floating platforms loaded with an apple. The voles climb onto the platform and are unperturbed at being watched. This turned out to be a very successful day and gave us 47 species with some firsts for the group. (Thank you to Ray and Margaret for leading). Margaret Bulmer