Newport Wetlands

I often visit the RSPB reserve at Newport Wetlands.

I like it partly because it is similar to many of the areas I used to frequent in Norfolk. Partly because I sort of like the juxtaposition of nature and industry. Although much of the industry is now ex industry.

I did not see a Bearded Tit, this photo is from the information board. I also did not see any Otters though a group of four were spotted playing there last week.

I did see a few wild flowers including this Coltsfoot.


Forest Otter

Christmas came early this morning, a lovely sunrise and another Otter.

I was up early and on site just as it was getting light… this was a shot taken with full ISO and thus very grainy… The most likely time to see an otter is just as it is getting light or just as it is getting dark, which is the worst time for the camera.

By the way no Otter in the photo above it is just there to show what sort of picture you get immediately after sunrise.

I was scanning the far sides of the lake with my binoculars when suddenly there was a loud splash in the weedy water not 10 meters away from me. My first thoughts was maybe a large fish had surfaced.  Then the Otter popped up right in front of me and now about 50 meters out.  I desperately tried to focus but with my insulated gloves on it was all a bit of a fumble.

It dived and then reappeared further out, now I had yanked my gloves off and was better able to focus. Again it only had a quick look round and then disappeared off to the left behind some reed beds. I waited a short while but no more views so I slowly walked back along the bank and then I saw it again, now right across the lake and it moved across and then out of view.

I remained by the lake for about an hour, the sunrise produced some nice colours on the trees and reed beds but with only a telephoto lens I was limited in what I could snap away at.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A young Swan came up close, maybe expecting me to feed it and when that did not happen it gave me a good loud hiss and then swam off. Also at the lake were a few Grey-lag Geese, two pairs of Mallards  some Coots and that was about it.

Next challenge is to get a shot of an Otter out of the water.. maybe sat on a rock in the middle of the river Wye eating a salmon….. now that really would be Christmas come early.




Francis Miles. V.C.

100 years ago today Francis Miles of Clearwell Gloucestershire carried out an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.


And today this plaque was unveiled and crowds gathered and the children sang ‘Its a long way to Tipperary’

BBC Points west were there so it should be on our local news tonight.

Relatives were interviewed


Speeches were made…… evidently he was known as Chris Miles and after the war returned to live in Clearwell until he died in the 1960’s


and old regiments were represented.

On 23 October 1918 at Bois-l’Évêque, LandreciesFrance, when his company was held up by a line of enemy machine-guns in a sunken road, Private Miles, alone and on his own initiative went forward under exceptionally heavy fire, located a machine-gun, shot the gunner and put the gun out of action. Then seeing another gun nearby, he again went forward alone, shot the gunner and captured the team of eight. Finally he stood up and beckoned to his company who, acting on his signals, were able to capture 16 machine-guns, one officer and 50 other ranks.


Otter hunt; Lydbrook

18th October 2018… guess what… no Otters however a couple that I was talking to said they saw one yesterday.. This looks like a suitable Otter spot???

Anyway as you can see it was a lovely afternoon with the sun picking out the developing Autumn colours.

There was a Kingfisher up and down but preferred to perch well away from the bank.


The water was still flowing fast with quite a few apples floating down stream. In the river there was one brave little Moorhen.


Up and down the bank were three Robins chasing one another round and round, I don’t know if it was formation flying for fun or territorial disputes but the three of them kept it up for almost an hour with only brief stops for a rest. (The little dots visible to the left of the photo are not dirt on my lens they are midges)


And the good news was … today there were no fishermen in the water.

Otter hunt; Ross on Wye

Yesterday (17/10/2018) I took my Otter hunting to Ross on Wye…. some one had recently put a photo of Otters taken at Ross near the White Lion pub on Face book so I thought I would give it a try.


I will not build up the suspense…. I did not see any.  The river was still quite full from recent rains but had been considerably higher, possibly 6 to 8 feet higher. This lead to a lot of mud and debris which made conditions along the bank quite treacherous.

I saw lots of Mergansers, these are saw bill ducks, there were about 12 of them.


Also there was a large party of tits mainly Long Tailed which are my favourite but also some Blue Tits and Great Tits mixed in.

It was an eventful day culminating with me dragging an 85 year old fisherman out of the river…. but only just! So no Otters but a day I will remember.

Soudley Ponds; Forest of Dean

Soudley ponds are small and user friendly.

There is a resident White Muscovy Duck  quite ugly but probably quite tasty if cooked slowly. Also a large group of Mallards or Mallard/Farm yard style ducks. These ducks are blessed by being fed with bird seed, corn and a few bits of sunflower and peanuts ( ie cheap bird seed) but a good staple for the ducks.

Then there is a good population of moorhens.

Are these two brothers? Maybe sisters, they do seem deep in conversation.

A few Little Grebes, one of my favourite water birds.

Grey Wagtails were flitting in and out.

The icing on the cake was a Kingfisher.