Recent sightings from 09 to 15 March 2020

In difficult times in which the Coronavirus has taken over much of our lives, it is quite therapeutic to go out into the nature and to restore a bit of normality. This week did indeed hold plenty of highlights in terms of wildlife here at RSPB Newport Wetlands. Whilst most of the wintering waders have moved on and only curlew and oystercatcher could be seen on a regular basis on the mudflats before a flock of around 60 black-tailed godwits appeared on Sunday, the number of ducks was slightly on the rise. Apart from shelducks and wigeons which were still about along the coast in good numbers, gadwalls and tufted ducks were present in the lagoons where there was also a pair of pochards. A rare sighting was a flock of 15 to 20 common scoters which were spotted in the Severn Estuary on Friday. It was also worth having a closer look at gulls. Lesser black-backed gulls and great black-backed gulls were around on the coast and a herring gull was seen flying towards the mudflats with a grass snake in its bill - a rather unusual sight indeed! After a short while of examining what to do with the snake on the ground, it finally flew off with it again. Bullfinches, greenfinches and goldfinches were once again active all around the visitor centre and flocks of linnets remained a regular feature along the saltmarshes. The first chiffchaff of the season was heard in Goldcliff on Tuesday and further chiffchaffs were heard and seen at RSPB Newport Wetlands on a regular basis from Wednesday onwards. A blackcap added its tune to the spring soundtrack on Sunday. Other noteworthy sightings amongst the songbirds were fieldfares and redwings on the fields, stonechats in the reedbeds and goldcrests with a firecrest mixed in jumping around in the bushes and trees on Friday. Bearded reedlings were recorded on Wednesday and on Saturday. Green woodpeckers could often be seen in the morning near the car park, whilst snipes could be spotted by the trained eye resting on the edges of the reedbeds in the lagoons. The bittern was seen or at least heard most days and two marsh harriers were very active this week and could be seen flying over the reedbeds on a daily basis. There were also several sightings of a peregrine on the reserve and buzzard, kestrel and sparrowhawk were all around as well. Monday was a great day for friends of birds of prey with merlin and two red kites making an appearance. Little egrets added a splash of white to the landscape. It was a good week for other animals as well. A water vole was spotted on Monday, a weasel was running across the coast path on Friday and on a pleasant Wednesday not only common toads burst into life, but also a peacock butterfly and a bat were seen flying around. The highlight of their visit was for many visitors once again the otter. Two of them were recorded on Monday and a single one was seen in different parts of the lagoons on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Goldcliff lagoons were a good place for waders and ducks. Up to around 20 avocets were present at Goldcliff lagoons alongside redshanks and ringed plovers and on Tuesday a knot was spotted as well whilst on Thursday a black-tailed godwit was recorded. In amongst the wigeons, gadwalls and shovelers there was a female goldeneye on Thursday. Another one of our favourites, the glossy ibis, was seen at Goldcliff on Wednesday rounding off a week full of exciting sightings!

There are still spaces available on our Spring Birdwatching Walk on Saturday 28th March. More and more songbirds are coming back and get active, so this walk will be a good opportunity to get once again familiar with good old friends. During Easter we offer special events for kids. In the first week pond dipping will be on the programme (8th April for the bigger ones, 10th April for the little ones) and in the second week we will go on a bug safari (15th April for the bigger ones, 17th April for the little ones). If you want to learn more about the cuckoo, then come along on our Cuckoo Experience guided walk on 24th April. One day later we will be on the hunt for bats during our Bat Walk. Details of all our events can be found on our website:

Avocet, Bearded reedling, Bittern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common scoter, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Firecrest, Gadwall, Glossy ibis, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey heron, Herring gull, House sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kestrel, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Merlin, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pochard, Red kite, Redshank, Redwing, Reed bunting, Ringed plover, Robin, Rook, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Weasel, Wigeon, Woodpigeon and Wren.

Please note that we take our recent sightings list from the visitor sightings board that anyone can contribute to. This is great as everyone can get involved, but obviously can lead to potential errors too as they aren’t always verified! We try to keep this list as accurate as possible but if you see something unusual feel free to comment here!


Photo credit: Chiffchaff by Jeremy White