24 December 2018

Ynysyfro delivers a Xmas Prezzie!

'PSEEP!' A single, shrill siren call rang around the lower basin. And there, on the exposed mud shone the dazzling supercilium and belly on a chunky monkey of a pipit that had no earthly business in a muddy hole just north of Newport. A bona fide Ynysyfro mega.





The .MOV engine in the iPhone has done all kinds of weird shizzle to the contrast and sharpening, and these are quick and dirty screenshots, but it is quite a well-marked bird, check out those mantle stripes.

16 December 2018

Finally, Caspian falls

So far, my only 'in-the-flesh' view of the Caspian Gull in Bettws. Arrived just in time to see all the gulls take to the air and drift off. I thought the underwing looked too dark (not helped by overhead conditions [rain, dull as dishwater] and under-exposure) and the tail a bit too michahellis-like but LGs, much better, photographs of the bird on the deck appear to show a Gibbins, et al. (2010; 2011) proof Caspian. Phew! Finally, a glaring hole on the Gwent list plugged. Well played SP.    

12 December 2018

21 November 2018

I gave a letter to the postman, he put it in his sack

Modern rarity hunting is a funny old game. Find dead bird, pluck feathers from dead bird, put feathers in envelope, post envelope to clever bunnies, cross fingers. I wonder how many, if any, Ardea alba egretta records in the Western Palearctic have been confirmed by DNA or biometrics? Fingers still crossed.

10 November 2018

Pallid Swift

Saw a Pallid Swift on the patch today,... which was nice.

[Note to self: blog about it when you get a mo.]

31 October 2018

It waited

Didn't expect this to still be hanging around on my return from the Azores. Nice little Gwent/patch tick c/o M&JP.

Phonescoped sun-baked mud with sun-baked mud coloured peep.

08 June 2018

The Magor Pill Starling

A few photos of the leucistic Starling at Magor Pill,...

Strikingly pale but note the all blackish, relatively long and pointy bill; and lack of contrasting dark wing and tail. 

Feeding on the saltmarsh so tricky to observe on the ground; it does sit on the sea wall and in nearby hedgerows though,... so fill ya boots folks!

Most eye-catching in flight when the washed out remiges and rectrices mean it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Pretty huh?

18 March 2018

Mini Beast

The Beast from the East's little brother came to play,...

A couple of hours at Goldcliff over high tide produced a half-decent overhead movement, the notable features of which were: three flocks of Golden Plover (26 circling then heading low W and, later, groups of 10 and 15 heading low E [maybe the original flock reorienting?]); 1,230 Redwing (most heading high W); 40 Fieldfare (most heading between ENE and E, low into the wind); and at least 210 Mipits (some coming 'in-off', most heading between NE and E, low into the wind, quite a few at head height). On the deck a Merlin, two Barwit and the two, long-staying, Spotted Redshank were about the best of it. 

A drive-by of Boat Lane/Redhouse Barn resulted in another flock of 45 Golden Plover heading low E, a Chiffchaff, another 40 Redwing heading W and a few more Mipit.

Then on to the mighty Ynysyfro which produced,... absolutely bugger all, even the last few Pochard had done one. Yay for Ynysyfro!

Then a cup of tea, lunch and back out,...

The approach road to Goldcliff Point provided the unorthodox spectacle of a Wheatear foraging in the snow with a supporting cast of 100+ Redwing, 15 Fieldfare and a few Lapwing, Mipits and Reed Buntings. Not much at the point itself, 32 Common Gull, a few more grounded Mipits and an out of place Skylark foraging on the mud.

Finally, stopped the car near Whitson and 18 Snipe jumped up from a puddle in a roadside field.

And then it was time to go home for tea, bath and bed.

Goodnight Igglepiggle, goodnight Upsy Daisy, goodnight Makka Pakka, goodnight Tombliboos, goodnight Pontipines, goodnight Wottingers, goodnight Haahoos, goodnight Ninky Nonk, goodnight Pinky Ponk, goodnight ya bastards one and all.

Yeah, you're probably going to want to put something extra on over that jumper.

14 March 2018


Popped over to Slimbridge to feed the Nenes. Apparently they are vulnerable to extinction and must be filled with grain everyday or they will expire. Also visited each of the cosy little flamingo houses; of course, flamingos are, famously, one of the world's few 'indoor birds' and never stray far from their wooden shed-like abodes. Any flamingo you see out in the wide world is a homeless flamingo and should be pitied or reviled, depending on whether you are a lefty snowflake or a fascist bastard.

Other members of the captive throng that caught the eye included,...

Taiga Bean Goose Anser fabalis, best told from Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris by its friendlier nature (especially when presented with a small brown bag of grain) and the fact it always looks obliquely to the right (the photographer's left) on seeing a camera.

 A little pinky. Awwwww, squeeeee.

 A gorgeous Redhead. Would love to find one of these amongst the Pochard at Ynysyfro,... albeit p'raps one with the full complement of wings and no rings. 

Non-/not quite-captive bird action included a couple of Peregrines and three of the plastic Cranes going over. But it was all about the NAY NAYS(!) and the 'MINGOS(!) really.

04 March 2018

The Dead

“It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely...”

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

From The Dead by James Joyce

03 March 2018

Beset by hardship

Fieldfare and spindrift in the great, white, snowy desolation of my back garden.

25 February 2018

Larid revelation

Two attempts, one Glaucous Gull, two Spoonbill and a shed load of Med Gulls later,... a vision of perfect grace descended from the ether on a shard of heavenly light.  It's been years since I saw one of these.

 "And there appeared a great wonder in Dorset; a gull clothed with the sun,..."

18 February 2018

Northern bruiser

First-winter Glaucous Gull, near Sluice Farm. Only my second in Gwent and it's been a wait of over nine years since the first (of which more here).
Bit of a brute, that had been a perfectly healthy sheep not five minutes prior to this photo being taken. A couple of videos of this bird can be seen here (complete with bonus calling Water Rail) and here.

07 February 2018

A tiny feathered lightening bolt

Penduline Tit, Plock Court, Gloucestcestcestcestcestershire, within spitting distance (at least on a windy day) of Horsebere Pool. Proof, were it needed, that ornithological lightening can strike twice.

Two years and two miles(ish) down the road from the last. I seem to remember waiting an absolute age to go and see that one too.

31 January 2018

Not Gwent

I don't know,... horned, horn, horny,... lark, 'bit of a lark', 'larking around',... chuck in the whole 'not in Gwent'/'Gwent is shit' theme and write yourself a couple of captions.

 [insert caption here]

[insert caption here]

14 January 2018

Some actual, real, not plastic geese,... in Gwent!

Adult European Whitefront on Wentlooge Level, one of a family party of three associating with the Greylag and Canada Goose flock between St. Brides and Peterstone at approximately ST282817 (viewable from the B4239).  Present from at least 8th January.

First-winter and adult European Whitefronts.  Reports of two birds in the area (e.g. on the adjacent Peterstone Lakes Golf Course) presumably involve observers overlooking the first-winter bird.

11 January 2018

Hey! Whitey!

The near mythical ghost Coot of Ynysyfro Reservoirs/Tredegar House lake.  Ynysyfro's unicorn.  Brings a tear to the eye.  In other, not unrelated, news,... Ynysyfro was a bit shit again this week.

06 January 2018

Grey skies, grey water, grey mud

One of two Jack Snipe seen between Collister and West Pill this morning. I've blogged about it before (click here) but finding them on the deck is still one of my favourite games. Other waders present included a single Golden Plover and three Turnstone, both loosely associating with a large wheeling mass of Dunlin.

Having failed to bag a Skylark, despite a prolonged lung-busting chase, this female Merlin briefly harassed a passing flockette of Dunlin. The desultory pursuit didn't come to much, pretty sure she was just lashing out in frustration due to the lack of lark for lunch.

PS. The adult Mediterranean Gull is still doing well at the Lyne Road McDonald's thanks to their clients' inability to put litter in a bin. Are gulls the highest form of life that can survive on McDonald's food?