Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1987


The West. Wales Trust for Nature Conservation recently changed its name to the Dyfed Wildlife Trust, a name that accurately reflects its area of Influence. No moves are to change the areas of bird recording, which remain the old counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. This recording arrangement has many advantages, not least being that existing avifauna are based upon the old counties.

The Manx, Balearic, Levantine Shearwaters complex is of direct interest to Pembrokeshire bird go the review paper by W.R.P.Bourne, E.J.Mackrill, A.M.Paterson and P.Yesou In British Vol. 81, No. 7, of July 1988 is recommended reading. It seems very likely that in future the Manx and a Mediterranean (+ Balearic + Levantine) Shearwater be afforded separate species status.

In March of 1988, the Welsh Ornithological Society was launched at a conference held In Aberystwyth. With the aims of:

I. The production of an annual Welsh Bird Report.

2. The provision of a forum and national voice in support of the individual societies in Wales.

3. The promotion of unity and co-operation among those Interested in the conservation and study of wild birds in Wales.

4. The support of those bodies striving to conserve the Welsh avifauna in whatever way is appropriate to the resources of the Society at the time of application.

5. Strive for a high and unified standard of bird recording in Wales.

The new Society deserves the support of everyone interested in the birds of Wales.

The name Skokholm has featured prominently in Pembs Bird Reports over the years. A small offshore island run as a nature reserve by the Dyfed Wildlife Trust, Skokholm offers a great opportunity for watchers to see fascinating sea birds at close quarters and a throughput of migrants that could Include almost anything. With full board accommodation, a resident warden and a great deal of freedom, Skokholm is a place where bird watchers can really indulge their interest to the full whether they be beginners, experts or anything in between turn to the last page of this report for further details.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


Three meetings were held in 1987 and support arranged for the following:


  • Annual Heronries Census
  • Estuaries Enquiry
  • Breeding Lapwings survey
  • Breeding sawbills survey


  • Breeding Birds of Pembs. Survey
  • Annual Peregrine monitoring

In addition a meeting of the Cleddau Estuary Counters was held in April and they also met representatives of the NCC and BTO to discuss future detailed survey work to be undertaken by these bodies.

The 4th Pembrokeshire Bird-Watchers Conference was held at Haverfordwest in November at the Queens Function Centre, as usual jointly sponsored by the DWT and the BTO. A varied program was enjoyed by a full house.

Members of POCOR: 1987

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
  • D.Little
  • K.Longstaff
  • M.A.Petterson
  • A Poole
  • J.Potter

The POCOR would like to take this opportunity to thank all the observers who contributed to this report, to the surveys and helped in other ways, and the staff of the DWT for their invaluable support during the year.

Graham Rees


Another successful Pembrokeshire Birdwatchers’ Conference — this year held at the Queen’s Function Centre, Haverfordwest; our 4th event of this type. This coming together of “‘birds of a feather” helps very much in the exchange of ideas and information and leads on to more participation, particularly in surveys and projects.

I suppose the mid-January cold spell, with temperatures “11 below” (a big freeze), followed later by snow, gave us much of interest as well as of concern. That Shelduck at 2174 counted on the Cledaau system (taking numbers beyond those of International Importance 1250), that Wigeon numbers at near 10,000 in the same area (probably near 15,000 in the county as a whole) and that Teal exceeded International Importance at 2241 counted, all underline the importance of our westerly wetland areas for wildfowl and waders at times of climatic stress: A triumph for co-ordinated counts, well done Bob Haycock (count co-ordinator) and counters all!

Continuing with duck, what indeed of the Surf Scoters identified by GHR flying west on 13 Nov, at Strumble Head (where else!) followed by re-location of 2 in St. Bride’s Bay.  The latter were seen by many and even made the “Bird Line” A word of caution though, for some unwelcome trespassing did occur, and local folk were upset.

That 2 Ruddy Ducks met, briefly at Bosherston Pools in April, male and female, raised our hopes for a first breeding record but it was not to be.

The Mere / Skomer Barnacle Goose saga continues, an interesting development of recent years, perhaps some improved grazings on Skoner would ease the potential problem of geese versus sheep?

The Little Grebe consolidates as a breeding species, our irrigation reservoirs are well suited to them (reservoirs of today = wildlife resource of tomorrow).  Black Terns in April as well, they found Anchor Hoaten reservoirs their liking, thank you Agriculture!

The Comorant ringed in 1967 and recovered in 1986 off France makes JWD feel a little older, and the “blue” morph Fulmar at Skomer On 9 July reminds me that in my lifetime I have only seen one such bird and that was regretably deceased.

Continuing with seabirds, you will note that as well as Manx Shearwater we have recorded the expected “Balearics” and also maybe a “Levantine”. It is interesting that the apparent cline operates not from east to west but from a central position (Balearic) to west (Manx) and to east (Levantine) but note Editorial comment.

Of “Strumbles” there have been many — Arctic, long—tailed and Great Skuas have been recorded with 218 of the latter species passing between July and Nov. Sabine’s Gull — 25 passing between Sept and Oct. It is good to see that Skokholm is also producing sea watch records, another good reason for a residential visit.  Lesser “Strumbles” – smaller that is — include Red-breasted Flycatcher, 25 Oct, and one of two Greenish Warblers; and yes a Yellow—browed Warbler in Oct (the indefatigable and energetic NAL).

On the topic of gulls, one notes decreases in numbers of Herring Gulls and Lesser Black—backs on our islands; in this context we must not overlook that both population control by culling and perhaps semi—natural effects (Botulism for instance) are likely agents of this.

Wader highlights a Black—winged Stilt at Dale In April (another was reported at St. David’s subsequently, probably the same bird, but alas no authenticating details have received to date). The Pickleridge Pools Long—billed Dowitcher in Dec gave excellent views to many — this and the Newport

Sharp—tailed Sandpiper in Sept are Pembrokeshire “firsts”

Ruff — 46 at Marloes Mere in April — highlight both a good passage event and a splendid site which is developing well in the wildfowl / wader context. Of Grey Plover, 176 in mid Jan on the Cleddau system is notable.

Another Red Kite and 25 occupied Peregrine territories and yes 3 Hobby records (one fortunate observer watched a Hobby catch a bat above his head make our bird of prey year memorable.

I nearly overlooked Vivienne Scale’s  Little Egret, forgive me, a just reward for purchasing a new telescope, setting it up In the farmstead and viewing the distant Sandy Haven — and yes the Egret!

Wagtails : Blue—headed, Grey—headed feeding elegantly on the Skokholm “lawn” and now Citrine as well, the latter a Pembrokeshire “first” if accepted. Skomer’s  Dusky Thrush in Dec, another first.

Cetti’s now breeds in Pembs and Lesser Whitethroat extends its breeding population, so does Pied Flycatcher. Hooded Crow is making attempts but having seen the “hybrids” one left wondering for they show wing barring of the type indicating youthful stresses in early development — been seen elsewhere too?

Put out the bunting! — no, not when Rustic (Skomer In May), Ortolan (Skokholm and Skomer, April, May) and black—headed Buntings (Skokholm, Aug) are concerned; on the other hand?

Jack Donovan

Short notes and reports

Buzzard hunting frogs

Buzzard predating rooks

Bird Watching and Bird Watchers in Pembrokeshire

Bird Ringing in Pembrokeshire

Water Pipits

Skokhom – a great Welsh Opportunity

The full Pembrokeshire Bird Report for 1987 is available here

Other Pembrokeshire Bird Reports