29 March 2008


The Uskmouth lagoons and grasslands produced a rather impressive count of 50+ singing male Cetti's Warblers this morning. This represents more birds than the entire county population estimate as presented in the just published 'Birds of Gwent',... oops. It's the birds' fault, pesky little exponentially-exploding climate change loving critters. Very little in the way of migrants mind, bordering on the square root of bugger all actually.

26 March 2008

Did they sterilise the nails?

Last weekend I spent most of my time dodging the wind, rain, chocolate eggs, hoi polloi and images of a bearded, nappy wearing bloke nailed to a cross,... and my prize? The songs of 27 Cetti's Warblers in the bag; or rather, the songs of 27 Cetti's Warblers eased into a microphone, squeezed down a wire, popped into a recorder and dumped onto a 8GB flash card before being jettisoned via a card reader, shoe-horned onto a hard drive, sloshed through some software and pished out the far end in the form of a spectrogram. And one of them (my favourite so far) looked a bit like this...

Please note the bands of noise between 0 and 1.5 kHz, a mellifluous combination of wind and the goings on at the Uskmouth Power Station, music to anyone's ears I'm sure you'll agree.

22 March 2008

No post today

I'm not going to post today as I'd only go into an interminable rant about the recent activity down at Uskmouth. However, if you have any queries regarding the RSPB's objectives/activities and whether these conflict with the primary aim of the reserve (to provide compensatory habitat for the debacle at Cardiff Bay) you should write to the RSPB offices in Cardiff (Sutherland House, Castlebridge, Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, CF11 9AB) or Sandy (The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL).

20 March 2008

Something stirring in the sedges

So far this year there have been two reports of Sedge Warbler on the GOS sightings page from the Newport Wetland Reserve (one on 17th at Goldcliff and one on 20th at Uskmouth). These, if not involving [enter smallish streaky/brown/poorly seen passerine here], would constitute the two earliest records for Gwent in the history of the world, EVER. As a result of this, and my continued living of the saddest of existences, I thought I would check to see when Sedgies have appeared over the last ten years for which reports have been published, in the lovely county of Gwentcestershire.

And, in chronological order, the dates are: 2006 - 15th April; 2005 - 16th April; 2004 - 11th April; 2003 - 31st March; 2002 - 13th April; 2001 - 23rd April; 2000 - 20th April; 1999 - 3rd April; 1998 - 13th April; and 1997 - 10th April.

I'm not saying there aren't any Sedge Warblers down at the NWR yet, I'm just suggesting some reports on the GOS sightings page are probably best viewed through the sights of a police marksman's rifle.

16 March 2008

A nice flag

There is nothing like a nice flag is there? The only trouble is, your great big fat neighbour might start looking at it in an 'I-wouldn't-mind-owning-that-myself' sort of way. Before you know where you are, they have moved in and are soon settling all and sundry here, there and everywhere and having the bare-arsed cheek to complain when you suggest they have outstayed their welcome. Can't wait to see the torch of peace and goodwill pass through Lhasa on the way to the Olympics. I'm also looking forward to the, always entertaining, looking-the-other-way marathon to be undertaken by all visiting politicians when asked "What the f*** are you doing sitting watching drug-addled athletes trot around a track whilst a superpower destroys another sovereign state?"

08 March 2008

M4 corridor

Birding along my second favourite corridor today, on the way to God's county, produced seven Smew and 14 Red-crested Pochard; the M4 itself mustered two Red Kite, a large brownish falcon and a Woodcock. When taken with the fact that both Manchester plc and Chelski got dumped out of the cup today, I think we can all agree that it was worth getting up this morning (and Sidebottom got a hat-trick despite looking an awful lot like Roger Daltrey).

02 March 2008

Titles are for wimps

A tour of the Goldcliff vantage points produced both the wintering Spotted Redshank and Greenshank plus all the usual wildfowl. No Sand Martin, LRP or Garganey though. It was so slow I even counted the Wigeon, some of which looked a bit like this...

01 March 2008

Gone west

Thought I'd go and see some half-decent birds today so, leaving Gwent far behind, I proceeded to meander around Somerset for the day. First stop (as illustrated in video form below) was a Cattle Egret or two cowering behind a sheep's arse (insert Welsh joke here). Despite the intervening fences, armco barriers and bramble, I think I managed to obtain proof, as if it were needed, that: a. there was a Cattle Egret in that field; b. there are too many humans on this island, of which far too many spend their time bombing around it little tin cans; and c. it was a tad windy today. Job done.

A short tin can ride later and Shapwick Heath loomed into view; all the recent goodies were present, a short walk later and more looming, first up Great White Egret followed by White-fronted and Bar-headed Goose, and finally the 5000 year old Sweet Track (aaah, how sweet). Looming marvelous!

Next stop Cheddar Reservoir where everything behaved terribly well, apart from some snotty kid, who insisted on wandering across in front of my scope in an attempt to scare the birds. Unfortunately for him, everything on the reservoir appeared to have never seen a human before, the Red-necked Grebe just sat there gawping at the pudgy little brat. One of us, me or the grebe (can't remember which), asked him if ugly fat kids like him still get beaten up at school,... he left. Also parading about on the water were a Great Northern Diver and five Scaup (I ignored the fact that one of the males appeared to have the merest hint of a vestigial bump at the rear of the crown and an ever so slightly darker mantle [edit: perhaps it would be more accurate to say four Scaup and one 'mostly Scaup', the bird is back/left in the pic below]). Superb day all round methinks.