Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1983


During the compilation of this Report we have been greatly encouraged by the increase in both volume and quality of the records received, This has permitted a certain amount of interpretation to be embodied in the species accounts. Continuation of this trend can only benefit our collective understanding of the Birds of Pembs, and continued use of the recording sheets whenever possible would assist with the collation task.

Pembs is not blessed with great numbers of observers, so making the best use of our slender resources seems desirable. It might therefore be worthwhile to state that series of records for particular localities can be of great value in interpreting population trends and migration times. In the same vein, comprehensive reporting of birds confined to limited habitat, e.g. Pochard, Coot, etc., would aid the assessment of their annual status and perhaps their conservation needs, This leads, almost inevitably, to ask where does one stop recording, particularly where common birds are concerned, and allows us the chance to emphasise the importance of the WWNT Breeding Birds (Tetrad) Survey. If enthusiastically supported, this survey will provide us all with a datum from which to decide the recording needs.

Pembs has long been famous for its breeding sea birds and the pioneering study of their breeding biology started by R.M. Lockley. It is important to note that this work has continued unabated at Skokholm and Skomer through the good offices of the WNT, Further related study has been conducted on the mainland and there is a developing tendency to extend this to birds in both inshore and offshore waters. This additional emphasis is reflected in some of the species accounts in this Report, and we would be pleased to receive further records made during Irish ferry crossings, other boat trips and from the rocks and islands scattered around our shores,

Finally, we ask for full co-operation with regard to the reporting of rarities. Generally the rarities of BBRC status are quickly reported to the Recorder and details for adjudication usually follow, With regard to the WRAG list, this is not always the case, necessitating a lot of expensive correspondence eliciting details or the omission of records for lack of evidence. Can all observers please study the WRAG list (detailed below the List of Contributors) and forward relevant details to the Recorder as soon as practical following the sighting. This would allow time for the records to circulate WRAG and decisions to be incorporated in the current Bird Reports.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


Four meetings were held in 1983, and support organised for the following:


  • Beached Birds Survey


  • Winter Gull Roost Counts
  • Mute Swan Breeding Survey
  • Buzzard Breeding Survey
  • Estuaries Enquiry
  • Winter Atlas Enquiry

Wildfowl Trust: Monthly Wildfowl Counts

Plans were made to launch a WWNT Breeding Birds in Pembs Survey, commencing in 1984 and to run for 5 years. Samples will be plotted using tetrad squares. Anyone who would like to contribute, please contact the POCOR secretary.

Monthly co-ordinated counts of the Cleddau Estuary were organised, commencing September 1982. Some of the results are embodies in the Bird Report and provide a new appreciation of the Estuary’s importance.

Members of POCOR: 1983

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – D.A.Henshilwood

Secretary – G.H.Rees


  • J.Barrett
  • J Bird
  • K.J.S.Devonald
  • A.P.R.East
  • T.Gover
  • T.Hallett
  • A.J.Hansen
  • G.C.Lambourne
  • D.Little
  • K.Longstaff
  • Miss M.A.Patterson
  • Mrs A.Sutcliffe
  • S.J.Sutcliffe
  • W.Williams

Once again the POCOR would like to thank all the observers who contributed to the survey work and to all in the Trust Office for the invaluable staff work.

Graham Rees


It is difficult to assess a special event, to decide just what is just that in ornithological terms, – one tends to think of rarities or of species new to the in county list. Jays are not unusual Pembs, however, but there is no doubt that to have seen parties in September and October ranging from 10 to 200 individuals was incredible. I suspect that the 800 or so Woodpigeons at Letterston, 26 October, could have been another effect of the perhaps unprecedented shortage of acorns in Britain.

The seabird spectacular of the year must surely have been the westerly movement past Strumble Head on 3 September. Viewers packed into the sheltering lookout recorded during the day 397 Sooty Shearwaters, 103 Arctic Skuas and 199 Great Skuas and many other notable species and numbers, Perhaps we should all look to our meteorology for it all seems to depend on the weather – the winds, and of course the season.

If you want to succeed with vocal but ‘invisible’ species like crakes, then a tape recorder is your need. We have convincing taped sound recordings of Spotted Crake and Savi’s Warbler calling from their wetland cover at Dowrog in May and June.

Some ore not contented with single rarities; fine views of Buff- breasted Sandpiper and Dotterel together were had by a fortunate few in September at Dale airfield; it seems that disused airfields are of great attraction to some species.

A spinning Red-necked Phalarope on a small murky pool near Broad Haven gave an excellent opportunity to see the so very needle-like bill of this not so frequently recorded bird in our county – this was in October, The subsequent wintering (Jan to April) of up to 12 Spotted Redshank at Millin was a regular reward for dedicated estuary counters.

Marsh Harriers are featuring more often in our annual reports than previously, Iceland Gulls, too, are more often noted.

Of real rarities the Gull-billed Tern passing Strumble on 16 October, the Alpine Swift circling Garnfawr earlier in the year in April, the Little Bittern at Dowrog on 3 May, all prove that birds are there to be seen.

Be vigilant ~ record the details – and a special record could be yours.

Of great interest was the attractive leucistic Dunnock near Hazelbeach (Neyland) seen late 1982 + into 1983 – such abnormal birds can be difficult to identify, but if one considers the habitat and watches the activities closely – yes, of course, the ‘mouse-like’ movement, wing flicking, are those of the Dunnock (or Hedge Sparrow you prefer it).

Last, but not least, we have speculated around the question ‘do Pied Flycatchers breed in our County?’ Now we know that they indeed do, for a pair – unable to pass the compulsive array of desirable nest-boxes provided by a good lady in her garden at The Rhos – reared a brood; our first recorded breeding of the species for Pembs.

There will be much to see, record, and discover, in the years ahead.

Jack Donovan

The full bird report for 1983 is available here


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