Grey Phalarope – 1894

Phalaropus fulicarius

An autumn visitor.

Our memory goes back to the time when the Grey Phalarope was regarded as a very rare bird, each occurrence being carefully chronicled. But for many years hardly an autumn has passed without this pretty species being detected on our coasts, and after severe gales great numbers are periodically intercepted on their migration southwards from the shores of Greenland, and driven into the English and Bristol Channels. Numbers are also seen along the Welsh shores fronting St. George’s Channel, and after an autumn gale we have heard of Phalaropes being plentiful at Aberystwyth.

The birds are wonderfully tame, and quite fearless of man, and many suffer in consequence, being easily killed by stones cast at them. Alas ! that the pretty little tempest-tossed wanderers should receive so cruel a reception.

Some are carried by the wind far inland, and occur at all manner of unlooked-for places. We have a note of one that was shot on a pond in Letterston village, six or seven miles from the coast. Sir Hugh Owen has seen Grey Phalaropes at Goodwick. One was shot at Castle Martin in November, 1886. One, obtained at Stackpole, is in the collection there. Grey Phalaropes have often occurred on Caldy Island, and at Tenby, and were numerous there in the autumn of 1891 ; others in the autumn of 1893. The Haverfordwest birdstuffer frequently receives them from the neighbourhood of Pembroke, St. David’s, &c, and had many sent to him in the autumn of 1891.

We have no instance of one having been obtained in the spring in the red nesting plumage.

In fine weather the Grey Phalaropes pass our coasts at a considerable distance out at sea, perhaps, even far out in the Atlantic to the west of Ireland. They only approach the shores when driven in by rough weather.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Grey Phalarope in Pembrokeshire