I think the otter has been visiting our pond again. I think I saw a mink swimming across the pond about a month ago, but now there is a regular track across the field from the river to the pond and evidence of the grass being flattened – similar to the pattern a couple of years ago when the otter was here. Not yet seen any spreint however.
Following the very successful Custodians stand at the Food Festival some of the more intrepid visitors from our twin town, Les Herbiers, were introduced to the wonderful art of the coracle. Paula demonstrated the technique then let them loose on the Severn. With a few mishaps they did well and the only one who got wet was Paula rescuing Daniel Charrier off the rocks. The photo shows his son, Martin, who is obviously a natural. Another memory of Newtown for them to take back to France.
For the third year, the River Severn Custodians had a stall at the Newtown Food Festival. It was another very well-attended and exciting day. We had American Signal Crayfish on display and samples of Himalayan balsam to eat. There was a colouring project on a large drawing, done by member Geoff, for kids. The nature quiz was won by Rikki Renshaw with a nearly perfect entry.
There were also two nature walks led by Tilde which were well appreciated.
We welcome a few new members who joined at this event.
Thanks to all (and the weather) for making this such a good day out and publicizing our activities.
Just a reminder to take a look at our web site from time to time and to contribute interesting sightings or comments to the blog (http://riverseverncustodians.co.uk/blog/) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/severn.custodians).
Regards – Mike Davies (RSC Secretary).
A crowd gathers.
Signal Crayfish display.
A general view of the RSC stand.
The colouring-in board.
A general view of the RSC stand.
Here is an unusual view of the riverbank at the Long Bridge, taken yesterday.
The riverbank is quite overgrown just upstream of the bridge and offers a haven to wildlife.
The reeds create slack water when the river is in flood and allows the Kingfishers to catch the small fish that are sheltering there.
It is also a place favored by Otters, when they feel like venturing onto land and the numerous plants offer the insects plenty of scope for collecting pollen and nectar.
I have often seen Goldfinches, Bullfinches and Treecreepers feeding in the trees in this area, as well.
All in all, in my view this is a nice little spot on our river.
The riverbank at the Long Bridge.
A few shots of some of the wildlife seen on my river walk.
Bullfinch feeding at the entrance to Mochdre Brook.
There are a lot of Bullfinches around at the moment and this one was seen feeding on seed heads at the entrance to the Mochdre Brook.
Nuthatch in the tree tops.
There was a also a lot of Nuthatch activity high in the trees opposite the entrance to the Mochdre Brook and I managed to capture this shot of one of them. There appeared to be 3 juveniles chasing each other around.
Gatekeeper butterfly at Trehafren.
This Gatekeeper butterfly is amazingly ‘perched’ on a spider’s web.
Peacock butterfly at Vaynor.
Not seen many Peacock’s this year, but this one was caught taking in some warmth from the morning sunshine at Vaynor.
The Kingfisher has been very active around the Mochdre Brook area, but unfortunately has not presented an opportunity of a decent photograph.
I am glad to report that Dipper J81 is still resident on the river, just downstream of the entrance to the Mochdre Brook. A brood of 3 or perhaps 4 chicks has been raised and it is encouraging to find that she has survived a second year at this location.
Dipper J81 on the river Severn at Vaynor.
Last week Joan reported that the stream running into the Severn near Canal Rd and Sycamore Drive was a peculiar colour from discharge. Tonight when Mike and I were walking by there was a strong smell of sewage at the stream. We decided that with these two incidents it was worth a report to Natural Resources Wales. So we called the 0800 807060 number from our mobile, and talked with a real human being (after pressing 4 for Wales)! The answering service got hold of someone in Cardiff who called back quite quickly. Because of all the gas works in the area, he suggested his first action should probably be to contact Wales and West Utilities and Severn Trent to see if the problem was already known. They might have gone through another sewage pipe. After all, they did puncture ours while working in Golwgydre Lane. If not, someone will be sent out tomorrow to investigate.
We will keep you in touch. If anyone else smells anything in the meantime, please let us know.
Last week, I was lucky to capture shots of a pair of young Buzzards quarreling over the rights to a favorite perch and also a male Grey Wagtail in its breeding plumage.
All seen near the entrance to the Mochdre Brook.
A pair of young Buzzards.
One of the Buzzards.
A male Grey Wagtail in breeding plumage.
I came across these 2 juvenile Mute Swans having a wash and brush-up session, on the river at Trehafren yesterday afternoon. They both look as if they are really enjoying themselves.
Mute Swan seen at Trehafren.
Mute Swan seen at Trehafren.
We are lucky to have a very diverse array of wildlife along our stretch of the river and I would like to share a small selection of my sightings from the past 4 or 5 weeks.
I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!
Juvenile Fox seen at Vaynor.
Male Kingfisher seen at Mochdre Brook junction.
Painted Lady Butterfly seen at Trehafren.
Red Soldier Beetle seen at Trehafren.
Juvenile Grey Wagtail seen at Mochdre Brook junction.
Comma Butterfly seen at Trehafren.
Here are a few photo’s of juvenile birds that I have seen on the river over the past few weeks.
Goosander below Dolerw Bridge.
Grey Wagtail seen at Mochdre Brook entrance.
Dipper seen downstream of the Mochdre Brook.
The Goosander is part of a family of 8; the Grey Wagtail was 1 of 2 juveniles seen and the Dipper is 1 of 2 juveniles seen.
While surveying my patch I was lucky enough to spot a family of 5 goosanders diving for fish a little way upstream from the pumphouse. This group was not as large as that observed by Sally or Russ and may possibly be a different family. Other birds seen and/or heard clearly in a space of under 2 hours were buzzard 1 young bird calling, blackbird 3, blackcap blue tit 1, carrion crow 1, coal tit 1, chiff chaff 4, chaffinch 4, dipper 1, dunnock 1, goldfinch 1, longtailed tit 3, magpie 1, nuthatch 2 calling to each other, robin 5, song thrush 1, swallows 5, woodpigeon 2, and wrens 10 heard in separate areas competing with each other!
We would welcome volunteers to cover from Halfpenny bridge to the pumphouse, and the East side of the river from Trehafren to Mochdre Brook. Thanks for your help.
On Wednesday afternoon, I was passing St. Mary’s Church and met a lady who had just video’d an Otter on her mobile phone. It was clearly a dog Otter swimming up river towards the Long Bridge.
A fortnight ago, I heard of 3 separate daily sightings of the bitch and 2 pups, swimming around the Trehafren area at 7.30 am each day. They actually left the water and ran along the river banks at one point.
I believe that the dog Otter has travelled downstream from the Mochdre Brook area and the bitch and pups have travelled upstream from the Penarth Weir area, so their paths must have crossed.
It is probably 18 months since the bitch and pups were first reported in the area around Abermule and it’s probably time for them to leave her and fend for themselves.
This leads me to conclude that perhaps the dog and bitch are possibly starting to check one another out with a view to mating as soon as the cubs have gone, since Otters do not have a fixed breeding season.
Let’s hope that we continue to see a lot more of this delightful creature on our river.
On Tuesday of this week, I happened to be talking to some fishermen, when a Mink swam across the river, right in front of us. They told me that they are a regular occurrence along Trehafren and often see them catch and eat Crayfish, but they couldn’t tell if they were the Red Signal variety.
I am monitoring the area to see if I can get some photographic evidence, but nothing to date.
Just to report that I saw a family of 8 Goosanders on the river just below our house yesterday – at least I presume they were a family.
Goosander mother with her brood.
Photo (by Russ Edwards) added to post by Blogmaster.
We had lovely summer weather for our first outing today with four surveyors starting at the Dolerw Bridge and walking slowly southwards along the west bank, with plenty to see and hear – a feast for the senses! Together we counted 22 definite species as follows: blackbirds (4), blue tit (1), great tit (1), carrion crows (2), chaffinch (4), coal tit (1), goldfinch (1), greater spotted woodpecker (1), long tailed tit (2), magpie (1), mallard (2), nuthatch (1), robin (1), song thrush (1), tree creeper (2), woodpigeon (4), wren (5), dipper (1), swallow (6), house martin (2), blackcap (1). This is a conservative estimate as we used counting technique to ensure we were not counting the same bird twice, I am sure there were many more! We were also excited to meet a man with a long lens who showed us a photo of an otter he had seen earlier in the morning. A very productive morning. Tilde
During our recent attack on the Giant Hogweed we also identified stands of Japanese Knotweed and Paula sent a report of their location to Natural Resources Wales. I’m glad to be able to say that today a team from Natural Resources Wales were out on the river bank spraying this nasty invasive. If you see more stands of either Giant Hogweed or Japanese Knotweed let us know and we’ll try to deal with them.
Glad to report that the Common Sandpipers have nested and raised chicks again this year, around the Vaynor area. The parents were calling continuously and eventually a single chick popped out of the reeds and scuttled along the rocks into the undergrowth on the riverbank.
The photo’s below show the parent birds and the very young chick. I noted that one of the parents has a leg ring.
Common Sandpiper calling to the chick.
Common Sandpiper seen at Vaynor.
Common Sandpiper chick seen at Vaynor.
There have been numerous reports of Otter sightings around the area below Penarth Weir, so I was quite surprised when this lone Otter swam across the river close by me at Vaynor. It dived under the water after a fish, but I didn’t see it surface and it just melted away from view.
From the size of it, I would think that it is a dog Otter.
Otter seen at Vaynor.
We have been fortunate enough to have a pair of Kingfishers breed successfully on our river and this resulted in 2 fledglings being raised. Below are some shots of them taken a few weeks ago.
At the time of posting, it appears that the parents may now have left them to fend for themselves.
The adult Kingfisher returns with a meal.
A fledgling begs for food.
A fledgling waits for the parent to return with a meal.
The RSC will undertake to do a full year survey of birds along the river. So far several members have signed up to participate so we will wait a little longer and then set up an initial meeting to kick the project off.
If you are interested in taking part, please contact us (Mike or Paula) to let us know you’ll be joining in. It should be interesting and rewarding.