Latest Sightings        

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 Woodstock Pool, Bettws, Newport Bittern
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 Wentwood Willow tit
Sun, 19 Feb 2017 Peterstone Gout Scaup

Latest News

Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers
 For those observers lucky enough to have seen Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers recently we would draw your attention to the following link
         http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=6194 which highlights a current research project that you may wish to be involved in.
Tree Felling at Pen y Fan Ponds
As recently reported in the media 200 beech trees which were up to 200 years old have been illegally cut down on a site adjacent to Pen-y-fan Pond near Blackwood in Caerphilly.
Natural Resources Wales are investigating and have said that "this is a devastating case which will have a terrible impact on the local environment."
The site is next to Pen-y-fan Pond Country Park which is a designated Site Important for Nature Conservation (SINC) and is enjoyed by many local people.
Matt Hicks is asking us to support his petition to Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC) for a stop notice so that construction work on the site is halted until a replanting plan has been formally drawn up, agreed and fully implemented. His petition can be found on https://www.change.org/p/delay-solar-farm-development-until-illegally-felled-trees-are-replanted.
Avian Flu - period extended

 The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone which covers the whole of Wales will remain in place until at least 28th February. 

Bird deaths resulting from the disease have been reported in Wales and also at WWT Slimbridge.

Avian Flu


Reports of Avian Influenza in wild birds, poultry and captive birds are continuing with several new EU countries affected (Finland, France, Romania and Sweden). There have now been 35 outbreaks in domestic poultry, five in captive birds (Germany and Netherlands), one in captive wild birds (France) and over 150 reports of wild bird die-offs.  The viruses associated with these events share high genetic similarity but may have been introduced via different migratory pathways/species.  No cases have been confirmed in the UK at present.

The risk to the UK has been raised by Defra to ‘medium’ based on how likely it is that avian influenza may reach the UK in wild birds.  The migration season is expected to peak between December and January.

As a result an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared. It introduces a requirement for all bird keepers to put in place, where practical, additional biosecurity measures to protect their birds from the risk from wild birds.  The Zone covers the whole of Wales and requires the immediate and compulsory housing of domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks, or where this is not practical, their complete separation from contact with wild birds. For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds, keepers should take practical steps to keep these birds separate from wild birds.  This zone will remain in place for 30 days from 6th December 2016.

What you need to know and do

As a result of new cases in Europe last week, both Defra and Welsh Government have issued the following guidance.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, you should report them to the DEFRA helpline on:03459 33 55 77 (preferred option), or email: defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Please adhere to this guidance.  If you receive calls from the public please make sure they are referred to the Defra helpline. 

Further information can be found on the Welsh Government and Defra websites.

Llandegfedd Reservoir permits and keys

As you know, during the winter months (from 1 October to 1 March) a permit is required to access the north end of the reservoir.  This may be bought at the Visitor Centre near the dam at the south end of the reservoir (ST328986) at a cost of £8.  Keys to the gate, which is locked during this period, are now available again and may be also be obtained here – a key costs £6.  Phone Welsh Water on 01495 769281 for Centre opening times.

WOS Lifetime Achievement Award 2016
Many congratulations to GOS President Steve Roberts, the recipient of the 2016 WOS Lifetime Achievement Award.  
Iolo Williams presented the well-deserved award to Steve at the recent WOS Conference in Myddfai.  The citation reads: 
Steve was introduced to a lifetime of ornithology by Bert Hamar, the founder of the Gwent Ornithological Society. Steve's father had died when he was young and Bert took him on his birdwatching walks.  Bert showed him a Mallard's nest full of eggs and young Steve was immediately hooked. He has spent the rest of his time seeking out and researching birds and, particularly, their nests.  His work has been mainly on the rarer raptors: Hobby, Goshawk and Honey-buzzard.  Steve's long-term monitoring of these species has added considerably to the accumulated knowledge of what had been thought of as difficult birds to study. 
Steve, with others, has undertaken a long term study of Honey-buzzards, leading to two landmark papers published in British Birds in 1999 and 2014.  For decades, the secrecy surrounding this special woodland raptor made it difficult to bring together such knowledge, yet understanding of the species’ habits and behaviour during the breeding season is a critical step towards their effective conservation.
Steve has not worked alone.  Jerry Lewis is often his collaborator and Steve has shared his knowledge with others willing to help, including WOS President Iolo Williams.  Steve is an accomplished and apparently fearless climber.  The work at the nest is almost always Steve's.  This makes him a much sought-after specialist and he travels worldwide to climb to, study and photograph iconic species, however fearsome their reputation.
Steve is also an accomplished artist, having taught art at a local comprehensive school, and his line drawings and paintings appear in many bird reports and books.  This award is to a man who has pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, usually from high in the canopy of a tree.
Colour-ringed Great White Egrets

A Great White Egret ringing programme has been initiated this year in the Somerset Levels and the RSPB would like to hear from anyone seeing a colour-ringed bird, so they can understand more about the birds' post-breeding dispersal and movement around the country.  Birds have a white three-letter code on a red ring on the left leg.  Please report any sightings via the EURING website, www.cr-birding.org or directly to Amy or Alison at Amy.King@rspb.org.uk or ajm@alisonmorgan.co.uk . 

GOS policies

GOS policies, as required by the Charity Commission, can be read here.

Help track waders on the Severn Estuary

BTO and Wildfowl and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have recently started a project to understand more about the home ranges of three species of waders (Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin) and a range of duck species on the Severn Estuary between Newport and Cardiff.  As part of this work the Redshank and Curlew have been colour ringed and Dunlin and some ducks marked with yellow dye.  In addition, they have put state-of-the-art GPS tracking devices on some of the Curlew, Redshank and Shelduck - this is giving fascinating information about how birds use the estuary through the winter during both the day and the night.  Work is ongoing, with the aim of marking more birds of these species and additional duck species during January and February.  Click here to read more about the project.

Fancy helping to monitor reptiles or amphibians?

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) needs more people to take part in their monitoring scheme – the National Amphibian and Reptile Recorders Scheme (NARRS) – in the southern half of Wales.  Sites to be monitored could include one known to you (e.g. your garden or local park) or one in a randomly selected area near your postcode, and could be for reptiles or amphibians or both.  It is essential to register before spring.  Training/mentoring is available.  All you need to know is available on http://narrs.org.uk/ .


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