News archive

If you do, and have seen fair numbers of Curlews arriving to roost, please let Mike Smart know if this was on an evening when a high tide pushed them off the saltmarsh or on an evening when the tide was not particularly high. Email .

The group running a Curlew colour-ringing project under the auspices of the BTO are keen to learn of any sightings of colour-ringed Curlews at Goldcliff, West Usk Lighthouse, Peterstone or anywhere else on the Gwent coast this autumn/winter.

In 2015/16 41 Curlews were caught on the Usk Estuary and fitted with colour rings; although there have been several sightings in the intervening years more information on these birds is needed. It is also hoped that one of the Slimbridge head-started birds, released in 2019, might be found here – a very exciting prospect. One has been seen at a distance, but the numbers on the ring not yet read.

Colour rings on the left tarsus (below the ‘knee’) indicate where the bird was ringed – the combination of Orange over White denotes those ringed on the Usk Estuary but other colours are used for birds ringed elsewhere. For example, Curlews colour-ringed on the Severn in Gloucestershire have Yellow over White.

Colour rings on the tibiae (above the ‘knee’) indicate the individual: all were given a single colour ring on the left tibia and two colour rings on the right tibia. These rings could be a combination of Blue, Green, Black, Orange, Red or White. There’s also a metal ring on the right tarsus.

When reporting a sighting please note whether the rings are on the left or right leg and also give the order of the colour rings e.g. Left above: Black; Left below: Orange over White; Right above: Blue over Blue. Right below: metal.

Although seeing the colour ring combinations can be tricky (water levels at Goldcliff Lagoons may be high or birds on the foreshore may be distant) all reports are important so please get those scopes out. Curlew numbers are in rapid decline; knowing the movements and locations of wintering birds will help in working out how best to conserve them.

Please send all sightings (or photos) to Mike Smart at and include the location, date and, if possible, the time.

For background information on colour rings, see the Curlewcall website at .

If you notice any off-road use of any vehicle in Wentwood Forest please report it to the local police. Phone 101 and ask for the Rural Crime Team. It is extremely damaging to the environment. See the following note that was issued by Gwent Police on 18th May.
Note from Gwent Police Rural Crime Team:18th May 2021
Out in Wentwood Forest this afternoon following several reports of a 4×4 being used off-road. Illegal use of Off-Road vehicle will not be tolerated in this stunning ancient woodland.
Vehicle located and seized by Rural Crime Team.

On 1st July an important new book will be published which will add greatly to our understanding of the history of Wales’ birds and their conservation, their current populations and what may lie ahead for them in the future. The Birds of Wales (608 pages/hardback) tells the stories of all the birds that have ever been recorded in Wales, whether common or rare. It’s published by Liverpool University Press and the Welsh Ornithological Society (WOS) and, if you pre-order it before 30 June you’ll save £20 on the cover price (£45).

We’re proud to say that the Gwent OS helped support the publication of this book by sponsoring its species account for the Dipper and records from the county feature prominently in the publication – everything from footprints of Common Crane preserved in Severn Estuary mud around 7,000 years ago to the return of breeding Bitterns in 2020.

Edited by volunteers from WOS this book is a once-in-a-generation summary of the state of Wales’ birds. An easy-to-read book, beautifully illustrated and with a wide selection of stunning images, it will have an essential place on the bookshelf of everyone with an interest in birds in Wales.
Use code WALES50 online and when ordering via phone. Pre-publication offer valid until 30 June 2021.
• PHONE 0151 795 2149

Fri 1st Jan 2021

Stephanie Tyler MBE

Congratulations to Steph Tyler on being awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours List.
The award was made for services to nature conservation in the UK and Africa.

If you haven’t already signed up to take part in the survey then it’s not too late as there are a few remaining opportunities, but please get in touch with us soon.

Since the river and roost survey was announced there has been a fantastic response with people wanting to take part. Coverage for the main rivers has already been agreed and given the level of interest we have also started to recruit people to take part in surveying the western valley rivers. There are some opportunities remaining to help with sections of the Rhymney, Sirhowey, Ebbw and Monnow rivers. The Afon Lwyd is not currently included, but if sufficient people come forward we will add the river to the survey.

There has also been a good response to the roost survey with many reservoirs/ponds already allocated. There are however still some sites available – mostly in the heads of the valleys but also Ponthir Reservoir. If you would like to take part in a simple evening survey of a local site then please get in touch.

Finally, we would also like to hold a reserve list of potential surveyors – people to “come off the bench” if necessary.

Most people should be able to take on a roll in the survey. The good news is that these are not difficult species to identify and therefore you don’t need a great deal of birding experience. Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to spend considerable time in the field. For example, the Goosander evening roost project might only require up to 90mins of your time per monthly visit. With this survey it’s also great to be out birding at a different time of the day.

The river survey will require more effort, but it will ensure that you have time to fully appreciate the fantastic waterways of our county. The rivers will be divided into sections of 3-5 km so you do not have to walk far.

Survey work gets underway next month with the river survey on the 14th and the first roost visit on the evening of the 15th November. By taking part you will be contributing to an important survey, the results of which will help inform future policy decisions about fish-eating birds.

Where can I find out more?

Steph Tyler (river survey) and Richard Clarke (roost survey) are co-ordinating the survey work, so why not get in touch to learn more about how you can help with this important survey.

Contact details:

Richard Clarke (roost survey) – or Tel: 01633 615581

Steph Tyler (river survey) –