Showing posts from January, 2020

Flossy the Glossy

It's amazing don't you think that we have a Glossy Ibis residing on the Gwent Levels? Over a year ago in January 2019, a keen-eyed birder had reported seeing a Glossy Ibis in the Uskmouth area of Newport Wetlands.

On the 20th of January, I was doing an early Sunday morning birdwatch at Goldcliff Lagoons and was making my way up the steps of the Marsh Platform. The weather had been quite dull and miserable since dawn and not that much happening. I was to be very surprised when out of the reed bed on Priors rose a big heron sized bird that looked like some kind of weird hybrid between a Curlew and a Cormorant. It was the Glossy Ibis. It caused pandemonium amongst the local birds as they thought it was some kind of predator. I managed to grab the first photographs of it back then and included a few below. I wrote my first blog post about the Ibis the following afternoon entitled "A dull day but one bird put a gloss on it".

It was going to be the beginning of many sight…

Oh what a sunny day on the levels

I started my Saturday morning with freezing fingers scraping the ice off my windscreen in the dark with ELO's Mr Blue Sky blaring out of the car stereo. Looking up into the early morning "stupid o'clock" sky I could see thousands of stars glittering.

I was up early to try and get some nice sunrise pictures and the clear skies meant things were looking promising. My destination, as ever, was going to be Goldcliff. A few weeks ago I tried the same but was disappointed as it all went cloudy just as the sun was rising. This time I was hoping for more luck.

After a little trip in the car, I soon found myself stood admiring the view from Goldcliffs sea wall. It remained dark but it was so clear and quiet. Not silent but it was free of the human noises of hustle and bustle that you get during the day, like a constant hum in the background. What you hear at this time is the gentle noise of the incoming tide and the haunting calls of Curlews and the occasional peep of an Oys…

Bird of Prey

What a week of rain we have had. Its been horrendously wet, windy and dark. The bird feeders have been crazily busy throughout. Legions of Starlings and various tit species have been turning up making the most of the free food.

I only get the odd chance to keep an eye on the goings-on in my garden. I always scan it for something new.

Today I was making a coffee and something caught my eye on the lawn. On closer inspection, I could see that it was the juvenile Sparrowhawk again.

It had caught a bird and was busy plucking it and tearing strips of meat off it. The hawk was surrounded by a circle of small greyish and black feathers and at the center was the prey.

There were crows about and the Sparrowhawk was keeping a close eye on them.

Eventually, it got spooked by the attention of the crows and flew off with its lunch.

I have reviewed the pics and taken a look at the kill zone and I think that the unlucky prey bird was a Great Tit.

Red sky in the morning shepherds warning

As I got out of my car at Slimbridge I was greeted by a cacophony of hundreds of crows cawing and the dawn sky was dark and broody except a band of cloud that was backlit red by the rising sun behind them. It was both cool to look at and a little ominous at the same time. You know how the old rhyme goes, "Red Sky at night shepherds delights, Red Sky in the morning shepherds warning"

If I was going to predict the weather based on this then I would have not been far from the truth.

This was the last of the sunshine that I would see all day. The clouds just got thicker, the wind whipped up and the rain came.

Despite this there was plenty to see on this visit.

First thing there was approximately 100 White Fronted Geese roosting on the Tack Piece. Just as I was about to train my scope on them they all took off and flew to the rear field out of sight.

From the Martin Smith hide I had a good view of a flock of Redshank and Ruff. They were in good numbers today.

Whilst at the South…

Wildlife at home

I have a small urban garden. Its nothing special and I will never win any awards for my gardening abilities. There is a square bit of lawn that I occasionally mow in the summer. The grass is quite thick, in places patchy and at times it's like a bog as it gets waterlogged. I have put in my own little pond and planted a few Acer trees and some ornamental bushes.

Then there is a bit of magic I have added. My garden feeders. I have been putting up various feeders for over ten years. I started with one hanging bird feeder from the Acer tree which soon multiplied to several different types. At the moment I have a big hanging seed feeder courtesy of one of my good friends, a fat ball feeder, a hanging bird table and several small feeders.

All of the feeders have to be hung about eye level to prevent the dreaded cats which frequent the neighborhood.

So my gardens bird feeding station should sound quite familiar to anyone that feeds their birds like me - nothing special.

I love the wint…

The return to my patch

For a month or so I have traveled over the Severn venturing to several reserves a long way off from my usual patch. Whilst it has been good to have a change of scenes I felt I have neglected my usual haunts - especially Goldcliff Lagoons.

I had a think about what my first post of this new century should be. I decided it would be good to start closer to home and return to my usual local patch.

Early on Saturday morning, I found myself stood at the edge of the Severn Estuary at Goldcliff Point waiting for the sun to rise. In the semi-darkness nearly everything was silhouetted. I thought I was the only person stupid enough to be up that early braving a quite gusty cold wind, but I could hear talking. I looked around me but could see no one. I thought it may have been some dog walkers along the wall or someone in a nearby house or even the whisperings of the wind. Nothing was seen by me. Not until however I started to focus my camera on the waters edge and then I noticed two fishermen wh…