Recent sightings from 13 to 19 July 2020

Photo credit: Welcome committee by Stefan Zitzmann

Our first week back on site brought lots of lovely encounters with wildlife. There were plenty of butterflies, dragonflies and bumblebees on the wing which gave the reserve a real summer feeling. No less than 15 different butterfly species have been recorded during the week including ringlet, large, small and green-veined white, numerous gatekeepers, meadow brown, painted lady, peacock, holly and common blue, red admiral, small copper, comma, speckled wood and large skipper. As the Big Butterfly Count started on Friday, it was great to get lots of visitors involved to help us finding as many butterflies as possible. Usually a bit more hidden, but no less fascinating are the moths. Silver Y, yellow shell, shaded broad-bar and cinnabar moth were the species we could find but surely there are plenty more of these out there waiting to be discovered.


Photo credit: Yellow shell moth by Stefan Zitzmann

There was also a good range of dragonflies present. The large species such as Emperor and southern hawker were easy to spot all over the reserve. Ruddy and common darter were also seen as well as black-tailed skimmer, broad bodied chaser and four-spotted chaser. The vegetation along the paths has grown considerably during the last few months, much to the delight of the bumblebees which can be seen (and heard) collecting the pollen. White-/buff-tailed bumblebee were around in good numbers alongside early bumblebee, red-tailed bumblebee, common carder bee and the shrill carder bee which is one of the rarest bumblebees in Britain and calls RSPB Newport Wetlands its home.

Most days we were greeted in the morning by two green woodpeckers which were flying to and from Perry Lane, one adult and one juvenile. Robins and blackbirds helped us setting up regularly as well and went one with feeding their youngsters just as if we weren’t there at all.


Photo credit: “Our” Blackbird by Stefan Zitzmann

All the usual reedbed species were recorded such as reed bunting, reed, sedge and Cetti’s warbler and on Tuesday also a small flock of at least three bearded reedlings were seen near the bridge leading to the lighthouse. There was some great news regarding the bittern during lockdown as they were breeding successfully here for the first time in over 200 years. This week, there were sightings of the bittern on Friday and Sunday and also up to three marsh harriers have been spotted on a daily basis flying over the reedbeds.

The mudflats and salt marshes held up to 450 shelducks and 80 curlews, a surprisingly big number for this time of the year. Lapwing, oystercatcher and dunlin could be spotted along the coast as well. Sand and house martins, swallows and swifts were flying over the reserve in decent numbers. Buzzards were very vocal and were present as well as sparrowhawk and kestrel. A hobby was spotted on Friday and there were some close-up views of a peregrine on Wednesday and Friday. Bullfinches and goldfinches were amongst the songbirds which you could see along Perry Lane. On Saturday a young cuckoo was spotted at Salt Marsh Lane.

There were some interesting sightings of mammals as well. Stoats and weasels were often seen running across the paths, one even came to help us while setting up the marquee on Tuesday morning. A mole was seen making a narrow escape from a hungry carrion crow on Wednesday and a water vole was spotted in the lagoons on two occasions.

Goldcliff lagoons were a good place for seeing wading birds with black-tailed godwit, avocet, little ringed plover, ringed plover, dunlin, lapwing, greenshank, redshank, common sandpiper, turnstone, knot and sanderling all being recorded this week. There was also a spoonbill around until Thursday and during the weekend some yellow wagtails were spotted.

So, all in all a first week back which indeed brought plenty of lovely sightings. Don’t forget the Big Butterfly Count is still running till 9th August and RSPB Newport Wetlands is a great place to do yours. If the past few months have shown us one thing very clearly then it is that nature is essential for our well-being and when looking at all these bright and colourful butterflies, then this surely makes you just that little bit happier.


Photo credit: Peacock butterfly by Stefan Zitzmann

At the moment, most of the paths are open as normal and we ask our visitors to follow the social distancing guidelines that are still in places. There is no opening date for the visitor centre yet, therefore the shop, café, toilets and the playgrounds remain closed for the time being. For the latest news on opening of RSPB reserves and their facilities, click here 

Avocet, Bearded reedling, Bittern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Collared dove, Common sandpiper, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Grey wagtail, Greylag goose, Herring gull, Hobby, House martin, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little ringed plover, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Sand martin, Sanderling, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spoonbill, Starling, Stock dove, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Turnstone, Water rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren and Yellow wagtail.

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!