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Cwmbran Boating Lake

Boating Lake Diversity

Short trip around the Boating Lake today, was nice to bump into Steve Williams (our head ecologist) doing his regular Gull checks for rings. Steve has had some fantastic results photographing ringed birds with his camera, something that is far from easy considering you have to photograph the ring from many different angles in order to read the whole number. As valuable as these rings are for conservation, they don't half make it hard sometimes to read. 

I was hoping to get some Goosander photographs, and was lucky to get what looked like an entire family or two with two adult males, one juvi male and 5 female type. Light wasn't great today though so didn't process any of those images. Upon talking with Steve we spotted a Water Rail in the middle on the island. A regular winter visitor here but while speaking about the Water Rail, we heard another to our left, and then another to our right! Turns out there are at-least 4 individuals onsite with another calling from the opposite side. This is a particularly large number for such a small pond and it goes to show that with the right management, you build the habitat and they will come. 


Spent a lot of time close to home this weekend. Even walked around Cwmbran Boating Lake which is especially busy on the weekends which I generally try to avoid. Glad I visited though as I did record a Marsh Tit on arrival and had a great time watching early spring behaviour coming from the waterfowl / Great Spotted Woodpeckers that have already lined up a few nesting holes ready for spring. 

Last night I gave my second ever talk, this time at Gwent Ornithological Society' AGM meeting. Still not a massive fan of talking in front of people but it was received well with some very good questions at the end which proved they were listening lol. On a serious note, my talk was on Mimicry in birds, something that is a difficult topic to talk about considering how much mimicry happens day-to-day. 

Today also saw a small flock of Waxwing at Morrisons Carpark in Cwmbran! Finally starting to get some local sightings. They weren't showing very well though due to the activity there, they seemed a bit shy compared to the urban sightings I've had so far. 

Cwmbran Boating Lake

Starting to make the most of the extra light in the evenings. It's surprising what you can do in that short period where the light is fading. Even when it was completely dark, I was still able to focus on some slow shutter photography on the Avon Llwyd. Upon arrival I spotted a lone bat out in broad daylight. Not quite sure what species yet but don't think it's anything too uncommon. On the water was a single male Tufted Duck amongst the usual and after the light had gone, 5 Goosander came in to roost. 

Sand Martin Colony Cwmbran Boating Lake

The Sand Martin colony has as exploded with life as 3 pairs return from Africa to their former home to breed. As if the flight from Africa wasn't hard enough, from this point onwards, it's an even bigger race to get everything sorted ready for what hopefully will be a successful breeding season. Sand Martin have always been a personal favourite of mine and I really do look forward to their return each year. They, like their cousin's the House Martins, are a perfect example of how Bird life can work along side human activity without disturbance. Situated on the banks of the Avon Lwyd River, they live along side thousands of people who walk by with their Dogs every day and they will probably witness more football matches this year than most people would in their life time. I will be returning tomorrow for some more pictures but below is a composition of quite a few photos put together in a 'string'. If you look closely in the photos, you can actually see that they are different individual birds as some have an elongated bib and others have wing damage. That wing damage may have been caused by 1 of the many hundreds of predators that these guys face each day. Just in the Uk we have Swarrowhawks, Goshawks, Kestrels, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine Falcons and even land predators like Weasels, Stoats, Rats and Fox's, all stacked up against them! Not to mention all the predators that they encounter in Africa and on their travels. The odds are astronomical yet, some how, they return to the same spot each year, to the exact same bank or box from which it bred the previous year. The same can be said for many of our migrant Birds yet most of us don't give them to the time of day or respect that they trully deserve. I hope that 2015 brings good weather for them and hopefully we'll have even more of these beauties returning for generations to come.

Cwmbran Boating Lake

Short walk around the boating lake today to check if the Waterail was still present and it is. I have a feeling that it will be sticking around all year which is great for photographers but it probably won't get much luck with a female. If he does get a female and they breed, I'll be the first one on the scene to get some Waterail Chick photo's! No signs of the Sand Martins being back yet here but it won't be long now I'm sure as they have already been spotted elsewhere along with the first swallow of the year.

Cwmbran Boating Lake

My new lens turned up today so had a chance to test it out on a few fast subjects on a short trip to the Boating Lake. Couldn't believe that there are already some daffodils flowering alongside the lake and also, there is a Waterail out on the island which happens to be floating close to the bank so allowed fairly close shots.