Recent sightings from 24 to 30 August 2020

It was a week in which some of the songbirds burst into new life. The robin next to our welcome marquee treated us to several concerts and the Cetti’s warblers tried their best to outvoice not only the robin but also each other in their quest to win their internal competition of who is the loudest individual. Along the hedgerows there were plenty of common whitethroats and blackcaps. Blue, great and long-tailed tits continued to be regular guests on our little feeding station and chiffchaff and bullfinch could be heard regularly. Willow warblers, a flock of common crossbills as well as a whinchat on Monday and a siskin and a stonechat on Saturday were further great sightings. The reedbeds hosted a good number of sedge warblers alongside reed buntings and some reed warblers. Swallows were still seen getting ready for migration and there were also sizeable flocks of house and sand martins circling over the reserve. A late swift was seen on Sunday.

Photo credit: Swallow by Stefan Zitzmann

The salt marshes and mudflats were home to large numbers of shelducks and curlews and there were also regular sightings of a few oystercatchers. On Wednesday some bar-tailed godwits, dunlins and ringed plovers were spotted as well. A great black-backed gull was sitting on the water’s edge on Monday and flocks of linnets were flying over the salt marshes. Six ravens together were an unusual sight on Saturday and four rather vocal buzzards made the most of the great flying conditions on Sunday. There were some sightings of sparrowhawks throughout the week and a peregrine as well as a marsh harrier were recorded on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Highlights at the lagoons included gadwalls and a tufted duck, a kingfisher which was seen flying over on Sunday and a grass snake which was spotted swimming on Monday and Sunday. Sunday should turn out to be a great day for rarities. Apart from the rather elusive lesser whitethroat there were two very rare guests indeed: a birdwatcher getting up early that day got rewarded not only with a hunting barn owl but also with a nightjar that flew past him before it continued its way south over the Severn Estuary.

Photo credit: Small tortoiseshell by Stefan Zitzmann

It was – despite of the very wet and stormy conditions on Tuesday and Thursday – a surprisingly good week for butterflies. Some freshly emerged meadow browns joined the small, green-veined and large whites and amongst the latter several of the individuals were impressively large. There were small numbers of comma, common blue and gatekeeper. Red admiral, speckled wood and the simply stunning small tortoiseshell were regular sightings and towards the end of the week a small copper allowed us some great close-up views next to our marquee. We got our moth trap out on the Moth Night from Thursday to Friday and found convolvulus hawk-moth, green carpet, common wainscot, brimstone moth and setaceous Hebrew character to name but a few. Once again there were also lots of damselflies and especially dragonflies to be seen. At times the sky was filled with southern and migrant hawkers whilst common and ruddy darters were resting on the paths all over the reserve in big numbers. A scorpion fly on Monday as well as a common shiny and a rough woodlouse on Sunday did not go unnoticed. Although some flowers are past their best now, there were still plenty of bees and bumblebees around such as shrill, common and brown-banded carder bee, white-/buff-tailed and red-tailed bumblebee, common furrow bee and grey-banded mining bee.

Photo credit: Grey-banded mining bee by Stefan Zitzmann

The week at Goldcliff lagoons started off with a curlew sandpiper on Monday. Throughout the week there were some interesting songbirds present such as whinchat, stonechat, yellow wagtail and wheatear. Mixed in with the Canada and greylag geese was a barnacle goose on Saturday. The glossy ibis showed itself well over the weekend and a garganey was seen on Saturday. There was still a good number of wading birds. Black-tailed godwits were around in good numbers as were redshanks and lapwings. Knot, ruff, greenshank, whimbrel and avocet were all recorded as well either from Goldcliff lagoons of from the nearby seawall.

Photo credit: Lapwings by Jeremy White

We are working hard behind the scenes to get the visitor centre up and running again (see also our blog post “Reclaimed by nature: Post lockdown”). At the moment toilets, shop, café and playground are still not available, but most of the paths on the reserve are open as usual and you can come and visit us for a lovely walk around and for exploring the wildlife! The car park is open daily between 9am and 5pm. For further updates click here or follow us on twitter. We are looking forward to welcoming you to RSPB Newport Wetlands!   

Avocet, Barn owl, Barnacle goose, Bar-tailed godwit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Collared dove, Common crossbill, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Garganey, Glossy ibis, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenshank, Grey heron, Greylag goose, Herring gull, House martin, Jay, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Meadow pipit, Moorhen, Moorhen, Mute swan, Nightjar, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Ruff, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Tufted duck, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Whinchat, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon 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!