Little Bittern – 2013

Ixobrychus minutusAderyn Bwn LeiafRare visitor

Little Bitterns breed through much of Europe but is a rare vagrant to Britain. The first early records come from Mathew (1894): an adult  male at Merlin’s Bridge  was trapped beneath the wheel of the Mill and became part of the Mathias collection, later donated to Tenby Museum. He cites two other specimens collected including one in the same collection but there is no evidence either was obtained in Pembs. Later Lockley et al (1945) wrote of ‘singles off the Pembrokeshire Coast’ in 1899, shot near Fishguard in ‘about 1916’ and ‘taken’ near Solva ‘many years ago’.

There have been a further eight records in the modern era and these records are, thankfully, properly documented:

1964 – One found dead at Broad Haven 26th April (KJS Devonald) male

1970 – Sandy Haven 18th April (J Lloyd et al) male

1983 – Dowrog Common 3rd May (C Lambourne, KJS Devonald, GH Rees) male

1993 – Whitesands, found dead 12th April (J Bennett, R Hadfield) Specimen retained by JB. male

1995 – Castlemartin, a wing found 2nd April (GH Rees et al) male

1995 – Cilgerran Gorge 6th May (PE Davies) female

2008 – A garden near  Haverfordwest  7th-10th May (G&S Davies) later found dead (ID by RJ Haycock). male

2012 – Teifi Marshes  19TH-20TH April, (S Bebb et al) 2CY male

That four of the eight records involved dead birds is remarkable. The Teifi Marshes bird stayed just long enough to allow an opportunity for photographs. Clearly a male, the body plumage has moulted to attain adult plumage and  an adult  tertial can be clearly seen, contrasting with the majority of the retained juvenile wing feathers, proving that this is an immature bird. (top photo)

MYP 29/05/2013. Updated with records in the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

More about the Little Bittern in Pembrokeshire