We’re pleased to announce a series of walks to look at the wildlife of the Meadows. Most last about 2-3 hours. Please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Dogs only on leads, please.
Sun 28/4: Birds. Meet Steve Butler at 930am at the Byfield Lane entrance
Fri 3/5: Bats. Meet Mark Langley 830pm at the Byfield Lane entrance. Please bring torches
Sat 11/5: Pond Dip. Meet Becky Ward 10am by the orchard in Mill Street. Wear wellies, but all other equipment is provided
Sat 8/6: Botany/plants. Meet Jeff Davies 10am at the Byfield Lane entrance
Sat 20/7: Butterflies. Meet Jeff Davies 11am at the Byfield Lane entrance
Sun 4/8: Bug Hunt. Meet Steve Williams 1pm at the Byfield Lane entrance
Sat 10/8: Dragonflies and other insects. Meet Steve Butler 10am at the Byfield Lane entrance
Fri 6/9: Moth night. Meet Martin Anthoney 8pm at the orchard in Mill Street. Please bring torches
Ten of us joined Steve Butler for a rather breezy walk around Linda Vista Gardens and the Meadows this morning. It was good to hear lots of bird song, including from migrant blackcaps, though the many wrens won the prize for volume. But the best bird was down on the river, where a common sandpiper spent long enough preening to give everyone a chance to see it through the telescope.
Birds seen or heard: Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff, Common Sandpiper, Goldcrest, Goosander, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Robin, Sand Martin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Thirty Year 1 pupils from Cantref Primary School became the newest (and most junior ever) Young Friends of Castle Meadows when they joined Monmouthshire Countryside Service and Friends’ volunteers for a bird watching and migration session recently.
Initially impressing the Friends with their knowledge of around twenty different birds (included goldfinches and long tailed tits) they then viewed the sand martin nest sites on the riverbank and learnt about their imminent return to the meadows from their long, winter African migration. The pupils then enjoyed a bird spotting walk round the copse, with the robin the most frequently sighted.
After a break the Young Friends split into groups to create shelters for locally hibernating animals, using natural materials from the copse. There were some highly impressive pupil efforts for sheltering imaginary squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes, rabbits and stoats, but perhaps the best of all was the multi roomed badger sett complete with an ‘accessories’ log for Mr and Mrs Badger!
Monmouthshire County Council Countryside Service, working with Friends volunteers, recently reinstated the wooden rail which helps walkers from the Mill Street entrance drop down to the level for the entrance to the meadows proper. Many walkers had missed this assistance, and those spoken to during the session were very appreciative of its reappearance.
Volunteers also cleared the surrounding pathways of grass and weed growth, and in so doing revealed a width which they couldn’t recall ever seeing in the first place. Only another 850 metres of pathway / cycleway from the meadows entrance to the Llanfoist Bridge to go!
Thanks to MCC we now have a new bridge to replace the one that floated away in the floods caused by Storm Calum last year.
One dog was perhaps a little too keen to try out the new crossing!
This morning twelve of us joined Steve Butler to see what birds were making use of the Meadows in winter. Most of the 31 species were familiar residents, though at this time of year many of these birds may in fact be migrants from colder parts of Europe. Short winter days may have made the little grebe – which is resident but usually much harder to see – less shy. But the winter highlights were a flock of around twenty redpolls, and a thrush identification parade as two migrant redwings fed close to a resident song thrush.
Species seen or heard: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, cormorant, dipper, dunnock, goldcrest, goldfinch, goosander, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greenfinch, grey heron, house sparrow, jackdaw, lesser black-backed gull, lesser redpoll, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, nuthatch, redwing, robin, song thrush, starling, woodpigeon.
Join us (weather permitting) for a new year bird walk around Castle Meadows and Linda Vista Gardens with Steve Butler. Meet at 10am, Sunday 6th Jan, in the Byfield Lane car park, with suitable footwear and binoculars if you have them.