Trip reports

Field Trip to the RSPB Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve

Field Trip to the RSPB Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve
Angharad Jones

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Fifteen of us turned up for our last field trip of the year on a cold but dry day, considering all the rain that we'd been having lately. We decided to go to Goldcliff Lagoons first of all as it was high tide and we hoped that there would be a large number of waders and waterfowl on the lagoons.

We weren't disappointed, little egret were seen in the fields on the way to the lagoons and a peregrine falcon was noted as it flew overhead. On the island of the first lake, greenshank, redshank, canada geese and lapwing were spotted. On the water, there was an abundance of widgeon, all with their distinctive white belly patch. When the low winter sunlight shone on the lake the male widgeon were resplendent with their chestnut heads and neck and distinctive yellow forehead and crown. Also present were shoveller and again the male plumage colours of dark green head, white breast and vivid chestnut flanks were a joy to see when the sun came out. We also spotted shelduck, teal and two common gulls.

On the island of the second lake there was a flock of ringed plover and dunlin with a knot, which is larger and stockier than the dunlin, in the centre of the group. Mallard, curlew with its characteristic very long decurved bill and turnstone were also seen.

Some of our group were lucky enough to see a water rail skulking in the reeds on the end of the lagoon nearest the sea wall. Also spotted was a grey heron, coot and moorhen. From the sea wall stonechat, robin and a wren were seen.

We then returned to the Wetland Reserve where we did a spot of armchair birding from the visitor centre while we ate lunch. We were treated to the sight of two snipe in the reeds at the water's edge from the Centre's café.

As we continued our visit around the Reserve, winter visitors of fieldfare and redwing were spotted in the trees as we left the visitor centre. In the ponds amongst the reed beds, shoveller, gadwall, mute swan, teal, widgeon, cormorant and mallard were also observed.

At the sea wall with an ebbing tide, heron, curlew, shelduck, great black-backed gull, black-headed gull and dunlin were spotted on the mud flats.

On the way back to the visitor centre, at the woodland hide, long-tailed tits were flitting around in the trees and we had splendid views of a male and female kingfisher head bobbing on some reed stems overlooking the pond. Apparently, kingfishers' heads bob when they are hunting for small fish so that they can judge the distance of their prey before they dive into the water. Mistlethrush and again redwing were also seen.

Finally, as it was becoming dusk we finished off the day by watching thousands upon thousands of starlings in their aerobatic undulating cloud forms flying over the reed beds before they roosted for the night. A murmuration of starlings...magical!