Showing posts from September, 2020

New Passage and Pilning Wetlands

Since 6pm on Tuesday Newport has gone into COVID lockdown. This means Goldcliff Lagoons has been out of bounds to me and many others who travel there from outside the county borough. I live in a county borough that at the time of writing is not in lockdown. This may change over the next week or so.The lockdown of Newport has really impacted my birdwatching as Goldcliff Lagoons is my patch and with me being unable to attend there I really needed to find an alternative so I could get my wader fix.This time of year is really good for waders as its right in the middle of Autumn Passage and the birding at Goldcliff Lagoons had been outstanding with most recently a Lesser Yellow-Legged Sandpiper having turned up on the reserve.Goldcliff however is just one place on the Severn Estuary where you can go looking for waders. On my last visit to Goldcliff, I had been speaking to one of the birders who had told me his patch was a place called New Passage that is near Aust and Severn Beach. From w…

Yankee Fever

I was having a conversation with my good friend John Lawton (aka Video John, watch his videos by clicking here) at Goldcliff last weekend and we were musing over whether another American migrant would drop into the reserve. I had missed the Pectoral Sandpiperthat turned up last month and really would be pleased if some vagrant species such as Baird's Sandpiperor a Lesser Yellow-Legged Sandpiperput in an appearance during my staycation. The latter species had been sighted recently at Slimbridge and well you never know, it may move on to Goldcliff, as it is not really that far away on the scale of things. The COVID situation was also not looking at all good and I was expecting some further lockdowns to be brought into force as positive cases were on the increase for Newport and some of the other boroughs. So this week was likely to be my last week at the reserve if a local lockdown was introduced. I was determined to make the most of it.On Monday I arrived before dawn at the reserve…

Playing "where's wally the wader" at Goldcliff

The monster spring tides we have had over the last week have resulted in the lagoons attracting large numbers and a variety of different species of waders.Saturday morning the lagoons were alive with hundreds of waders. A big flock of Dunlins was skyrocketing around the reserve's lagoons being very skittish and getting startled at the slightest hint of a raptor being seen.At this time of year during the autumn passage, you need to keep a close eye on the small wader flocks as in amongst the hundreds of Dunlin there may be some of their rarer cousins such as Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers.Both these rarities can be troublesome to find in a flock and identify. I find Curlew Sandpipers are easiest to identify when they fly as they have a white rump. The only thing with that is it is not easy to see that rump when the little Dunlins fly in a tight flock whiz past you are 100 mph.I usually have some fun later reviewing my pictures and doing the birding equivalent of "Wheres …

The fragrance of dawn

Last week I spent several mornings getting up at stupid o'clock to visit my favorite reserve - Goldcliff Lagoons. Whilst getting up early during your vacation can sometimes be quite an effort of will power it is usually worth it in the end. I love to be the first at the reserve and it gives me a thrill as I walk in to think about what birds I am going to find on the lagoons. As you walk into the reserve their is that early morning freshness in the air. You know what its like, you just want to take a big deep breath of it and it smells fabulous. I am sure one day someone may bottle it up and sell it calling it "the fragrance of dawn" and guarantee it will give you a boost and make you feel good for the rest of the day.I walked through the reserve heading for Becs Lagoon as I was going to be helping again with the Curlew Monitoring that was being done as the tide was yet again going to be very high.As I made my way, it was like mother nature had flipped a switch and the li…