Goldcliff lagoons area is part of the Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve.

The Natural Resources Wales (NRW) controls the Goldcliff lagoons.

Latest news from the the Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve - Kevin Dupé

December 2023

I’m writing this on 21st December, the winter Solstice, and can't help but notice some unseasonal things going on. Last night I trapped a Hebrew character moth at Redhouse Barns, a moth you wouldn’t normally expect to see until March. I went to the Uskmouth hide intending to take down the “caution honey bee nest” signs, but to my surprise there were honey bees flying in and out of their nest. On Tuesday, both myself and Richard Clarke, independently heard a bittern boom - myself in the morning and Richard in late afternoon. The mild weather, undoubtedly caused by anthropomorphic induced climate change, possibly also explains the low wintering bird numbers on the reserve.

We started pumping water into fieldblock 03 (visible from the Redhouse hide) on 27th September. This is traditionally our best fieldblock for wintering wildfowl and waders, which is possibly surprising given that it has three houses bordering it and is next to the “main” road. By 11th October we had raised the water level by 50cm. The large double ditches inside the fieldblock were brim full and beginning to spread out and there were areas of splash-flooding beginning to attract wildfowl, mostly mallard at first. We stopped pumping and let rainfall do the rest. The fieldblock is now being used by wigeon, teal, mallard and shoveler, plus a few snipe. All the heavy rain throughout late October, November and December has wetted up all the wet-grassland and some areas are now too heavily flooded and are over-topping. There are very few birds using the flooded wet-grassland.

Species 17th Sep 30th Oct 19th Nov 30th Nov 17th Dec
Black-headed Gull 506 6 14
Black-tailed Godwit 2 2 107
Canada Goose 6 360 391 377 215
Curlew 81 199 244 130 181
Dunlin 1 451 1,412 469 10
Gadwall 17 15 23 16 11
Grey Plover 80 4
Lapwing 122 135 154 250
Little Egret 14 7 2 1 1
Mallard 410 358 115 132 210
Marsh Harrier 2 3 3 2
Mute Swan 9 15 7 3 10
Oystercatcher 13 0 0 14 21
Redshank 27 86 34 45 64
Shelduck 168 7 78 116 9
Shoveler 44 73 57 49 109
Teal 184 181 188 447 395
Wigeon 46 365 297 327 425
Avocet 35
Water Rail 54 64 74

During the autumn and winter, we supplement the monthly WeBS counts with mid-week high-tide counts. We are very grateful to all the volunteers who help with both these counts. So far this winter, Mike Pointon, Jackie Pointon, Brian Thomas, Chris Perry, Daniel Webb and Darryl Spittle have all helped. Myself and Richard Clarke also carry out monthly water rail tape lure surveys during this period. The head-line bird numbers are shown in the table above (water rail surveys are not always on the same day as the other figures, but are within a day or two).

Following heavy rainfall the water level at Goldcliff Lagoons is now too high for many waders - although the ducks and geese are loving it! All of the rain that falls in the area within the sea-wall, flood banks along the Pill and the secondary bund (where the 1st two hides are and viewing platforms), has to drain out to sea along a single ditch and over a 1.37m wide sluice. When the tide is in, no water can drain out as the tidal flaps are shut. It takes a couple of weeks for the water level to drop following the removal of sluice boards. All of the boards (expect for the bottom board) have been out since September, but water levels are still too high because of the heavy rains. Yesterday we took the decision to take out the bottom board for the first time since it was installed 24 years ago! The board is only 75mm deep, so its removal should lower Monk’s Lagoon by that amount. The bottom board isn’t normally taken out, because it is cemented in and it is difficult to get a seal afterwards. We will see if 75mm water levels make Monk’s Lagoon more attractive to waders.