Well thanks to a mate who knows the place we finally got our first visit to Ham Wall yesterday and wow what a day, sightings and photos included numerous Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Kingfishers, 3 Bitterns, Buzzard, Tawny Owl, Cettis Warbler, Reed Bunting, Wigeon, Teal, Shovler, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Gadwall, Great White Egrets, fleeting glimpse of a water rail, Fieldfare, Redwings, Roe Deer, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, pair of Glossy Ibis and over 150,000 starlings that gave us a show at the end of the day never to be forgotten, landing in the reed beds around 25yards away from us, amazing to think this is literally across the channel from the Wetlands and that we may see some of their regular visitors popping across for a change of scenery. I know the reserve there is managed through a slightly different ownership chain but the one thing that did stick out was how easy it was to view there compared to wetlands and how beneficial a high platform viewing point would be - just my thoughts and I know it means cash to be spent but seeing how many people were there yesterday really did make me think would it bring so many more benefits especially as Wetlands seems streets ahead with the cafe/shop and toilet facilities to HW
Thanks for the post Nicky - sounds amazing! I've not been there yet but I really must make the effort!
With regard to the hides etc i totally agree with you. unfortunately the RSPB is only responsible for the area up to the incline leading to the reed beds and the rest is under the auspices of Natural Resources Wales. A raised platform would be amazing and more hides but it seems as though viewing points are not a priority as they 'maintained' the viewing screens at the power station end by simply chopping off the tops rather than repairing them so they're pretty useless now. Grit trays for the Beardies are also not being topped up. One thing i did notice is that they have spent money on cutting a swathe through the reeds opposite the large clump of brambles where the Wryneck was first spotted. apparently this is to create a more Bittern friendly area although once again it will be invisible to us birders.
In reply to john_l_uk:
Well worth the trip John really can't recommend it enough, especially the evening murmuration - unbelievable sight and sound. To be honest we just touched the surface on the main part of the reserve but lots of areas we didnt get near including the roosting spot of the Ibis's although by luck they flew over the top of us as a pair just as the starlings started to come in. The view point was the real plus point for me, love the wetlands but always a bit frustrating that even at the big hide there just isn't the opportunity to view clearly like at Ham or even at Goldcliffs (just a shame about the great big wire fence there) anyway will put up a couple of pics just to give an idea (always have issues uploading on to a post so will put them into the photo page)
Thanks for the report and the photos (great to see so many starlings)...not least because it reminded me to check the parking situation at Ham Wall again.
The last time I visited (4/5 years ago) I ended up following the site staff's advice and had to park my campervan on the side of the road due to the car park's height barrier. There was one small off-road area which wasn't great as it blocked the view of anybody leaving. I've just checked the web site...and apparently they've now got automatic barriers. So it's back on my to-visit list.
In reply to Neil H:
Thanks for posting. Have visited a few times and always seen something different to Newport. Missed the glossy ibises when we went last time, as usual it was they were here half hour ago. Have they completed the work at the entrance yet or do you still have to go over the canal and up the left hand bank?
Shouldnt have a problem now Neil as there's no height barrier there now and certainly no automatic barrier - just a secure gate but thats wide open and a warden is in attendance at the new entrance block, they are about to bring in a parking charge of £3 per car all day though but I believe this will be free to RSPB members - well worth £3 for a day like we had though in my eyes - the toilets are now open all day until they close the gates too which is good news for us ladies !
In reply to jenksnpt:
No all completed now jenksnpt, great carpark, lovely new loo's and a warm visitors cabin serving hot drinks and listing sightings
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