Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1984


1984 saw the launch of the 5-year Breeding Birds of Pembs Survey, sponsored by the WWTNC. Many observers have contributed to a good start and we have taken the opportunity to incorporate the early indications of breeding status within the systematic list. There is still much survey work to be done to attain complete coverage of Pembs and any further, or continued, help would be much appreciated. The SE corner of the county in particular has received very little attention so far, despite the diverse habitat to be found there.

Regular readers of this report will have been interested in the series of records from the remote Smalls, Paul Lee, whose dedication and commitment produced this valuable contribution, was posted away from the station in Jan 1985. Our thanks go with him for allowing us the freedom of his observations.

In previous reports we have included records from the Teifi Estuary. With a Cardiganshire Bird report projected for 1984, we should like to draw attention to the somewhat convoluted nature of the Pembs/Cards boundary in that area. With effect from 1984 we have taken great pains to ensure that only records referring to Pembs have been included in our report. We hope that records properly referring to Cards will be submitted to the new report,

During 1984 the Pembs Coast National Park Authority sponsored two Dutch students to complete ornithological surveys of several important parts of the county. The Authority has very kindly made the results available to us.

Other interesting activities have included a detailed survey of the birds of Caldey Island and the direction of observer effort to detecting “scarce” migrants in the coastal belt. The results of these endeavours “shine through” the systematic list. It is to be hoped that this kind of enterprise and initiative will continue to flourish and further increase our knowledge of the birds of this extreme projection of South Wales.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


Two meetings were convened in 1984 and support organised for the following enquiries:


  • Winter Atlas (Final Year)
  • Wood Warbler Breeding Survey
  • Ringed and Little Ringed Plover Survey
  • Birds of the Estuaries Enquiry

An additional meeting of the Cleddau Estuary Counters was held in MArch

Locally the Breeding Birds of Pembrokeshire Survey was begun and the monitoring of breeding Peregrines was continued.

An additional meeting of the Cleddau Estuary Counters was held in March. This venture is jointly organised by the POCOR and The Nature Conservancy Council. Detailed maps of coverage were compiled and future operations planned.

In November, the first Pembs. Bird Watchers’ Conferencewas held at Pembroke Dock, organised by A. and S.J.Sutcliffe and chaired by J.W.Donovan. Over 100 bird-watchers were addressed by guest speakers: Dr Shelley Hinsley (Urban Tit Studies) and Dr Kenny Taylor of the BTO (Keeping Track of Bird Populations) as well as by local contributore: D.R.Saunders (Past and Future Breeding Birds in Pembs), R.J.Haycock (Birds of Stackpole NNR), P.Tythecott (Birds in Malaysia, D.Little (Pembroke MP, CBC Project), S.J.Sutcliffe (Changing Gull Populations in W.Wales) and G.H.Res (Local Recording and Possible Future Research Topics).

Members of POCOR: 1984

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – S.J.Sutcliffe

Secretary – G.H.Rees


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

Once again the POCOR would like to thank all the observers who contributed to the surveys and the Trust Office staff for their support.

Graham Rees


I am delighted that at long last we can say that Little Shearwater is now officially a Pembrokeshire bird – the 1981-82 Skomer records have been properly lodged with the Rarity Records Committee who found them acceptable – this has helped the mainland headland sightings, thus G.H.R.’s Strumble record of 21 Sept, 1984 also has been accepted. We now have 5 Shearwater species on our county list and one distinctive geographical race (Balearic – P.p. mauritanicus).

Still with sea-birds, a total of 154 Sooty Shearwaters passing during the day at Strumble Head, on 9 Sept, is impressive – not our record number though!

Bitterns are becoming an almost regular winter feature, with 5 records in 1984, our winters are becoming more arduous it seems; that we have and retain wetland reedbed sites for these refugees is most important. A spectacular member of the Heron family, the Little Egret at Nevern Est in early June, no doubt thrilled the observers as I suspect did the April White Stork over Dinas.

An immature Black Kite over Skokholm, 7, Oct, will if accepted by the Rarities Committee be our first for the county. Marsh Harriers seen to be more regular now – when will we record Hen Harriers breeding?

Will Montagu’s Harrier ever return to Pembrokeshire as a breeding bird? 

American waders were most impressive in the autumn; a single Buff-Breasted Sandpiper on Dale Airfield in early Sept must have quickened the pulses of the successful observer but when 5 were seen there together (20-22 Sept) how then the pulse? Add to that the obliging Baird’s Sandpiper at the Borrow-Pit Pool (2-10 Sept) and the closely viewed Lesser Yellowlegs at Bosherston fron 7-25 Oct, yes we fared well for New World species!

If you have never seen Little Gull or Sabine’s then attendance at Strumble Head, period late August to early November – given the right conditions – should put you right; much else to be seen also as the systematic list reveals.

Pallid Swift at Strumble, 12-13, Nov, will be another county first.

I enjoyed Lesser Whitethroat in my Crundale garden in 1984 – not much more on my part than reflex awareness of bird song (useful attribute). The rewards of the diligent survey or census worker are, however, greater – the Uzmaston Barred Warbler for instance (5, Sept). The second Pallas’s Warbler for our county, at Strumble Head on 31 Oct, was another headland sighting.

The 1983 Pied Flycatcher breeding record has led to further revelations – breeding in North Pembs since 1978 for instance. If you own some sessile oak woodland and install suitable nest boxes it seems that these delightful birds are most likely to stay in this apparent period of their expansion. The Red-Breasted Flycatcher record is of course an appropriate reward for shrewd habitat and season analysis – we should all work harder at this!

I notice and you will hence, that the word tetrad appears frequently in the text of this report – what is a tetrad you may well ask? Well join in the breeding bird census in 1986 and all will be revealed – contact G.H.R. Incidentally a tetrad is a grouping of four 1 Km squares – it is one twenty fifth of a 10 Km square and there are many in Pembrokeshire that need further breeding season survey work.

Jack Donovan


Our county list stands at 318 species. This includes Canada Goose, Ruddy Shelduck and Ruddy Duck in conformity with general practice, but excludes the following as of doubtfully wild origin, for a variety of reasons:

Greater Flamingo, Snow Goose, Egyptian Goose, Wood Duck, Mandarin, Golden Eagle, Black-headed Bunting and Red-Headed Bunting.

The full Bird Report for 1984 is available here

Other Pembrokeshire Bird Reports


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