Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1986


1986 was the third year of the five year “Breeding Birds of Pembrokeshire” survey. The scope of the fieldwork was extended to encompass the majority of the tetrads in the county, although at this stage the degree of examination varies from square to square. The survey has undoubtably increased our knowledge and with Just two years to go to completion, we are hopeful that a comprehensive record will be achieved for most species. However, this does largely depend upon the continuing efforts of the nucleus of stalwarts and the continued recruitment of additional participants. If you have stood on the sidelines to some degree so far, why not add your weight at this decisive stage? There are doubtless lots of new discoveries awaiting your attention if you do.

In 1986 for instance, the surveyors discovered that: Tree Pipits do breed in the exposed western coastal plain, contrary to the generally held view that they did not. If you join in, you might be the discoverer of say Crossbills breeding for the first time, or find some unsuspected species that has slipped in unnoticed — Little Ringed PIovers or Firecrests perhaps, who knows? Even if you do not make a startling discovery of this nature, you could add to the corporate knowledge of where commoner birds breed, birds like Tawny Owls, Whitethroats, House Sparrows etc. You will certainly personally gain a little more knowledge and understanding of this fascinating county of Pembrokeshire.

In Feb 1987 a meeting was held at Newtown, Powys, which was attended by most of the Bird Recorders in Wales. The WRAG list was reviewed and amended to suit modern needs (see p .6) . The possible formation of a Welsh Ornithological Society was examined and an all Wales Birdwatchers’ Conference planned, to be held in Aberystwyth in March 1988.

A review of the specific status of some British occurring birds which was published in “British Birds”, resulted in the recognition of Water Pipit as a full species. Previously regarded as a sub species of Rock Pipit, the Water Pipits recorded in Pembs in the past now qualify as an addition to our list. With the further addition of Spotted Sandpiper (inadvertently omitted from the list during the 1985 review) , and the National acceptance of the Pembs records of Ring-billed Gull and Pallid Swift, the Pembs list now stands at 322.

Research towards the publication of a new county avifauna which will incorporate the Breeding Bird survey results, goes on apace. It is hoped to be ready for publication by 1990. Do you have any past records that would help complete the picture ? Do you have any out of print publications that would help, or know of any obscure references that we may have missed ? If you think you can help make the new Birds of Pembs as complete as possible, we’d like to hear from you.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


Two meetings were convened in 1985 and support arranged for the following ventures:


  • Heronry Census
  • Winter cormorants
  • Estuaries Enquiry

Seabird Group:

  • Operation Seafarer II (year 2)


  • Breeding Birds of Pembs. Survey (yr 2)
  • Annual Peregrine monitoring

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

The 3rd Pembrokeshire Bird-Watchers Conference was held at Haverfordwest in November. Jointly sponsored by the WWTNC and the BTO, it took place in the Gold Room of the old Market Hall (now The Forum),where in 1938 the inaugural meeting of the old West Wales Field Society was held, the body which developed into the present day WWTNC. A full house enjoyed a wide-ranging programme of bird related topics delivered by as diverse a group of speakers.

Members of POCOR: 1986

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – K.J.S.Devonald

Secretary – G.H.Rees


  • J Bird
  • A.P.R.East
  • T.Gover
  • T.Hallett
  • A.J.Hansen
  • R.J.Haycock
  • J.Hayes
  • M.D.Higgins
  • G.C.Lambourne
  • D.Little
  • K.Longstaff
  • M.A.Petterson
  • J.Potter
  • W.Williams

The POCOR would like to take this opportunity to thank all the observers who contributed records to the surveys and to this, the 1986 Pembrokeshire Bird Report, and the Trust Office staff for their invaluable support during the year.

Graham Rees


The 3rd. Pembrokeshire Bird Watchers’ Conference held this time at the Gold Room, Haverfordwest, did indeed maintain the standards set out in the two previous years; a glance at page 1 will give the special historic significance of the event to Pembrokeshire Birds (the setting up an 1938 of the Pembrokeshire Birdwatchers Society which has metamorphosed now through several stages – moults – into the West Wales Trust for Nature Conservation.

Now that Little Shearwaters are a “regular feature” of sea watches, I suppose the Sept Wilson’s Petrel (our 2nd) is a real seabird highlight; no doubt though the South Polar Skua at Strumble on 19 Oct was the real pulse quickener — especially for the one or two observers who arrived Just in time to see it disappear round the lighthouse headland!

A glance at the Heron records leads one to feel quite certain that some colonies albeit small ones are missed; several old locations are no longer quoted. How sad that the 1986 Purple Heron of Nov at Bosherston was dead.

The Feb cold spell produced victims in the shape of Lapwings and Golden PIovers found dead; also Starlings at some headland sites. Were the high Grey PIover figures — 157 on Cleddau in Jan, 151 in Feb and with 172 in Mar – also a hard weather effect.

One must always commend the visual acuity of those who notice and confirm such difficult birds as female Ring-necked Duck Skokholm in Oct well spotted indeed. Followed up in Nov with a Ferruginous Duck at Bosherston. The Green—winged Teal at the Gann required careful scrutiny too a male bird seen there in Mar/Apl

Mediterranean Gull Is in relative profusion summer records too. Ring-billed Gul Is as adult and sub adult featured as did our 3rd White—winged Black Tern.

If one knew the Woodlark as a Pembs bird, pre 1962/3 winter, the record of this species at Strumble in Nov must lead on to the hope that this lilting musician will return one day to sing and breed.

I do not doubt but that the Siberian Stonechat at Strumble on 12 Oct caused delight and excitement. If one adds the record of c .2000 Fieldfares there in early Nov, one begins to realise two things – Strumble is a good birding site and is well manned by expert observers we must not forget other likely sites though. Do we have a southern site of similar excellence — do we have a Porth Gwarra?

Of warblers — yes Strumble again gave us a Barred Warbler in Sept and Skomer a Subalpine Warbler on 20 May — dare I mention the “Strumble invasion” of Yellow-browed Warblers in Oct.

Pied Flycatcher expansion continued, the “nest box bird” without a doubt.

A very significant record is that of the Bardsey Chough ringed there in May 1982 and “controlled” at Cemaes on 16 Nov.  Perhaps a surprise then that our Pembs birds have not naturally recolonised Cornwall!

Byron Davies of St David’s noted and nurtured a vagrant immature Rose-coloured Starling — it visited his bird table and compost heap and dined well – despite this attention however it was not seen after early Dec. A diet supplemented by hard-boiled eggs did not meet its needs seemingly; a surprise this for it was vigorous and quite dominated Sternus vulgaris.

I remind you — and myself that 1988 is the final scheduled year for the Breeding Birds of Pembrokeshire Survey. Help fill in the squares please – thanks for past efforts too.

Jack Donovan .

N.B. Short notes, as per page 26 et seq, are needed for the next and subsequent reports

Jack Donovan

Short notes and reports

Black-winged Stilt Head-bobbing

Lesser Black-backed Gull feeding fledged chick abnormally late

Summary of Peregrine site monitoring in Pembs 1981-1986

Lesser Black-backed Gulls and farm slurry disposal

Nuthatch hawking insects

A common Birds Census of the Pembroke Upper Millpond Local Nature Reserve, 1981-1986

The full Pembrokeshire Bird Report for 1986 is available here

Other Pembrokeshire Bird Reports