Showing posts from October, 2019

Gold on the horizon

There has been a huge amount of rain and flooding nearly all week. I think most of South Wales was glad to wake up to some glorious blue skies and sunshine. Most people who were rugby fans were watching the Television. I certainly was. The semi-final was on between Wales and South Africa.

After 80 minutes of pacing the room and shouting my heart out as if I was pitchside, it ended in disappointment but the Welsh Team did their best so you can't ask for more -valiant in defeat as ever

After all that excitement and disappointment, it was time to get myself all chilled out and relaxed so I headed to my favorite place after lunch. I've neglected the reserve lately. Its been almost two weeks since my last visit. The lagoons have been a little quiet on the wader front. The water levels are very high at the moment as can be expected with all this rain we have had this month.

It's ideal for ducks and swans but the waders have tended to stay out on the mud of the estuary around th…

There is a little bit of snow on the Blorenge

Fairplay the mountains of Blaenavon attract all sorts of feathered visitors these days and some rare ones at that.

Around this time, two years ago a super rare visitor namely the Rock Thrush turned up in a quarry at Pwll Du and was spotted by one of Gwents keen-eyed veteran birders.

When you walk the mountain its an incredible place. A landscape that was impacted heavily by the industrial revolution , that has since the demise of the coal and iron industry been returned to the elements, farming, and nature. It has become part of the Brecon Beacons National Park and attracts people from all over the world.

The views to be had are phenomenal and the air is fresh and clean. However, it is a land in the autumn and winter that can be wet, cold and harsh. It's not somewhere you want to venture without some warm clothing and waterproofs.

In the depths of winter when the snow covers the mountains it often resembles something more akin to the arctic tundra or the Falklands.

No snow has arr…

You go there at your folly.

I returned to one of my old regular patches again this weekend for a change of scenes from Goldcliff Lagoons. Whilst my love for the lagoons is undiminished I also like to explore other areas of the Gwent area and check out the different habitats and wildlife. The "county" has much to offer for a relatively small part of Wales with a diverse range of habitats.

One type of area that it excels at is mountain moorland and we have plenty it in Torfaen. We also have the wonderful Pontypool Park which is rich in flora and fauna if you know where to look.

I headed up through Pontypool Park to the Folly. The weather was lovely but as I gained height up to the moorland that overlooks Pontypool Golf Course it got colder and the wind increased.

There was great panoramic views to be had. Looking south I could see all the way to the Bristol Channel and the Gwent Levels that lie beyond the city of Newport.

I also had a great view of the new hospital that is being built in Cwmbran.


Watching the sun go down at Goldcliff

I have had a busy last few days. Saturday I had a great evening presenting my talk about Goldcliff Lagoons to Gwent Ornithological Society. It was brilliant to have lots of support from some of my friends and a great audience. It really gave me a boost after all the preparation I had put into it.

On Tuesday I traveled to Cheltenham and presented the same talk to Cheltenham Bird Club and had a lovely warm welcome and they all seemed to really enjoy it.

In between it all I have been busy with work and family stuff so by this evening I really needed a break to chill out and where better to go than my favorite place.

For a change, the weather was nice today. No rain and some blue skies. The reserve was quiet waterlogged and the lagoons are full to the brim. Great for ducks but not any good for waders.

As I strolled around the reserve I noticed that the hedgerows are covered in berries. The Hawthorns and Sloe have a bounty of fruit and I am really looking forward to seeing them being eate…

Dipping and Wagging along the river

I had a walk along my local stretch of the Afon Llwyd river today. It was a raging flow of white water as a result of all this rain we have been happening.

The skies had cleared and there was blue sky for a change. Autumn is most definitely here now and you can see the trees leaves changing into a kaleidoscope of different shades of green, yellow, brown and red. Carpets of leaves that have been shed from the trees cover the footpaths and there is that sweet natural smell of "change". Not a bad smell it's just you can sense whats going on in nature with your own nose.

It was not long before I heard the distinctive call of a Dipper as it hurtled upstream and landed on a rock in the river.  Its bright white breast easily stood out against the shadows of the river which struggles to get a lot of light at this time of day.

I watched the Dipper for a while. The torrent of fast-flowing water caused it no trouble at all as it dived under the water occasionally floating to the se…

Spreading the love of Goldcliff Lagoons

I was honoured to be invited by Gwent Ornithological Society to be a guest talker at their meeting last night.
It's the first time I have actually delivered a presentation about birds and something that I am very passionate about that is not work-related. What a novel and good experience it was to be had.

I hope my passion for Goldcliff Lagoons and its wildlife came across and hopefully spread my love of the reserve to the audience.
On that note, I was made up by the turnout and it was great to see many of my good birding and photography friends attend to support me.
A big thanks to Gwent Ornithological Society for being great hosts and thanks to everyone who attended. 
My friend and fellow blogger Neville Davies took the pictures. A nice thought and thanks for sharing.
I look forward to seeing many of you again of course at Goldcliff Lagoons.

Gwent Ornithological Society - A year in the life of Goldcliff a photographic study.

Looking forward to tomorrow night. This will be an opportunity for people who are attending to learn about Goldcliff Lagoons and the rich amount of wildlife that can be seen on the reserve and also see some of the pictures I have taken.

Slimbridges Tern for a visit from the Oculus

I first visited WWT Slimbridge in February this year and marveled at the reserve and the fabulous birds that can be observed. Ever since I have been planning for a return visit but somehow every time I get on the M4 I end up turning right at the Coldra and end up at a reserve you have probably never heard me write about before called Goldcliff :)

Yesterday however I really did fancy a change of scenes having already put a few hours in at Goldcliff earlier in the week. So there I was heading over the Seven estuary and heading up the M5 to Slimbridge.

I am a WWT member so on arrival I was able to use the side access gate to go down to the hides a little earlier than the usual 9.30 am opening time.

The hides were relatively quite. If I am a little honest I tend to get lost at Slimbridge. From a birder's perspective, I think the guide maps need updating to reflect the names of the hides and to make them easier to find. The hide next to the Optic shop was the busiest of the main hides …