Grey Phalarope – records

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July

Earlier records are summarised in Grey Phalarope 2006

2007 – All records were of singles: at the Nevern Est. on 30 Oct. and passing off Strumble Head on the 8 & 25 Sept., 29th Oct. and the 10 Nov.

2008 – a very good autumn for records of this species, with what must have been a large number of individuals off shore, including a count of 20+ near the Smalls Lighthouse on the 17th Sept. (with one group of 11) and 3 near Grassholm on 19 Sept.

All other records were of singles: near Smalls Lighthouse on the 30 Aug, off Freshwater West and North Haven, Skomer on the 11 and 12 Sept. & 7 Oct., off Castlemartin on the 21 Sept and near Grassholm on the 25 Sept.

Recorded passing Strumble Head: single on 13 Sept. & 1 Oct. and two on 2 Oct. Storm driven birds were reported from Pembroke Mill Pond on 2 Sept., on the driveway of a house in St. Florence on the 11 Sept. and at Hook & Little Milford on the 13 Sept.

2009 – A single at Newgale from 14 to 26 Jan, singles at Angle Bay 16 Jan, Wooltack Point 22 Nov, Freshwater West 28 & 29 Nov.

2010 – All records were from Strumble Head, where one was seen on 22 July, three were reported on 24 Aug and one was there on 29 Aug.

2011 – This proved to be a bumper year for passage of this species off Strumble Head. In September: singles on 5, 13, 14, 22 & 26, with two on 17 and six on 18. In October: two on 6th, ten on 7th, two on 17th and a single on 18th. There were also late records in December of singles on 5th, 17th & 20th Dec. Overall this was the second best year for records of this species at Strumble Head, since 1980, after the 35 in 2001.

2012 – A quiet year for the species at Strumble Head in 2012 with only five records all of single birds on 29 July (2nd earliest Strumble record), 24 & 26 Aug, 13 Sept & 12 Oct. Two off Ramsey on 11 Sept was the only non-Strumble record.

2013 – a good year for the species at Strumble Head with a total of 14 birds recorded on 10 dates between 25 August & 3 Nov, max three on 16 Sept. A single also seen from St. Davids Head on 29 October.

2014 – Strumble Head recorded nine birds this year, singles on 11 & 29 Aug, 3 & 7 Nov with the maximum day count being five on 21 Oct. Ramsey had one fly south on 4 Oct and two on 21st of the same month.

2015 – A single bird at St. Bride’s from 26 to 28 Dec (video above by Annie Haycock). At Strumble Head a total of 10 birds recorded, seven on 31 Aug, one on 5 Sept and two on 21 Nov.

2016 – At Strumble Head a total of 10 birds recorded. In August a single on the 3rd, in September singles on 2nd & 16th with three on 17th and two on 29th, then in November singles on 4th & 9th. One winter record at St. Justinians on 6th Jan.

2017 – A total of seven birds recorded from Strumble Head this year, singles on 18 Aug, 3 & 10 Oct, with two on 19 Aug & 11 Sept. One off St. Justinians on 21 Sept and one in North Haven, Skomer on 16 Sept.

2018 – Singles seen on Skomer 21 Sept, and Skokholm 17 Oct. Two off Strumble Head on 21 Sept and one on 23rd. Two off Skomer on 15 Oct.

2019 – All records were from Strumble Head: one on 6 & 31 Aug, two on 1 Sept and three on 5 Sept and eight on 6 Oct. Singles Skokholm 21 Aug & 10 Oct.

One was picked up, dazed by flying into a wall at Newgale on 11 October.  The bird was released the following day.

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

More about the Grey Phalarope in Pembrokeshire

Grey Phalarope – 2006

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July

The Grey Phalarope has a circumpolar Arctic breeding distribution, the closest to the UK being in Iceland. Wholly pelagic outside the breeding season, they are sometimes displaced inshore by turbulent weather. In the Atlantic they winter as far south as western and southern Africa.

Mathew (1894) considered the Grey Phalarope to be an almost annual storm driven autumn visitor to Pembrokeshire. Lockley et al (1949) added a further six occurrences. There followed records in four years in the 1950’s, in six years in the 1960’s, three years in the 1970’s and in every year bar one from 1981 to 2006. The increase in frequency of sightings was more likely to be the result of increased observer activity, rather than more birds occurring. A summary of this latter period could be just as written by Mathew.

Most Grey Phalaropes have been seen on or over the sea but they have been found occasionally on estuarine waters, coastal pools and floodwater, at the Gann, Bosherston, Newgale, Carew Mill Pond and Orielton, with inland occurrences at Letterston, Loveston, Narberth,  Haverfordwest  and Pembroke.

Cumulative total birds by month,1904 – 2006.

Mostly single birds were seen but occasionally up to 10 in a day, however, there have been large scale incursions, or “wrecks”, into the South West Approaches which reached Pembrokeshire. During a “wreck” in 1891 Mathew noted they were “numerous”, particularly around Caldey. During a similar but better documented event in 1960, there were up to 35 at Skokholm during the 18th to 27th September and 227 around The Smalls on the 29th September. An incursion in 2001 resulted in a total of 39 being recorded around the Pembrokeshire coast between the 6th and 9th October.

August records fell between the 12th and 31st, apart from three sightings on the 2nd, at Little Haven in 1985 and at Strumble Head in 1986 and 2000. August birds exhibited varying traces of summer plumage, so were adults and probably females, as they take no part in incubation or rearing young and depart the breeding grounds much earlier than the males which are then still involved in the breeding process.

The early year records suggest that a few spend the winter at the same latitude as Pembrokeshire. These were: singles at The Smalls on the 2nd January 1985, Dale and Freshwater West on the 13th February 1971 and Pembroke on the 17th March 1928.

Although there are no ring recoveries to prove it, those occurring in British and Irish waters probably come from Iceland, Bear Island and Svalbard, possibly also from east Greenland and Noveya Zemla. However the number involved in years when “wrecks” occurred may mean that birds from Canada and west Greenland were involved.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Grey Phalarope in Pembrokeshire

Grey Phalarope – 1994

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July

“For many years hardly an autumn has passed without this pretty species being detected on our coasts” wrote Mathew (1894), who also noted that Grey Phalaropes were numerous at Tenby in the autumn of 1893 and that gales sometimes blew them inland. Lockley et al. (1949) added just six further records of single birds at Loveston, Narberth, Haverfordwest and Pembroke.

Grey Phalaropes have been recorded in 25 of the 43 years since and in every year since 1981 as more observers have been active. Nearly 90% of the records fall in the period 2 August to 29 November, half of them in September. Most sightings are of up to five birds at localities ranging from coastal pools and estuaries to headlands and islands. They have also been seen from passing shipping. Up to 17 phalaropes were seen off Skokholm and 227 off the Smalls between 18 and 29 September 1960, all those seen closely enough proving to be Greys, during a period when there was a large incursion into the Western Approaches (Ferguson-Lees and Williamson 1960).

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

FERGUSON-LEES. I.J., and WILLIAMSON, K. 1960. Phalaropes in abundance. British Birds 53: 529—531.

More about the Grey Phalarope in Pembrokeshire

Grey Phalarope – 1949

Phalaropus fulicarius

Almost a regular visitor according to Mathew who mentions also that is has often occurred on Caldey and Tenby.  There seem to have been many in 1891. One shot Loveston, winter, 1900 (Bertram Lloyd).  A female, Narberth, 11 Nov 1904 (Mills collection).  Recorded by a writer in the Field 6 Dec 1908.  One picked up Pembroke, 17 Mar 1928, and another near Pembroke 7 Dec 1929 (W.F.Bentley)

R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society

More about the Grey Phalarope in Pembrokeshire

Grey Phalarope – 1894

Phalaropus fulicarius

An autumn visitor.

Our memory goes back to the time when the Grey Phalarope was regarded as a very rare bird, each occurrence being carefully chronicled. But for many years hardly an autumn has passed without this pretty species being detected on our coasts, and after severe gales great numbers are periodically intercepted on their migration southwards from the shores of Greenland, and driven into the English and Bristol Channels. Numbers are also seen along the Welsh shores fronting St. George’s Channel, and after an autumn gale we have heard of Phalaropes being plentiful at Aberystwyth.

The birds are wonderfully tame, and quite fearless of man, and many suffer in consequence, being easily killed by stones cast at them. Alas ! that the pretty little tempest-tossed wanderers should receive so cruel a reception.

Some are carried by the wind far inland, and occur at all manner of unlooked-for places. We have a note of one that was shot on a pond in Letterston village, six or seven miles from the coast. Sir Hugh Owen has seen Grey Phalaropes at Goodwick. One was shot at Castle Martin in November, 1886. One, obtained at Stackpole, is in the collection there. Grey Phalaropes have often occurred on Caldy Island, and at Tenby, and were numerous there in the autumn of 1891 ; others in the autumn of 1893. The Haverfordwest birdstuffer frequently receives them from the neighbourhood of Pembroke, St. David’s, &c, and had many sent to him in the autumn of 1891.

We have no instance of one having been obtained in the spring in the red nesting plumage.

In fine weather the Grey Phalaropes pass our coasts at a considerable distance out at sea, perhaps, even far out in the Atlantic to the west of Ireland. They only approach the shores when driven in by rough weather.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Grey Phalarope in Pembrokeshire

Grey Phalarope – records

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July Earlier records are summarised in Grey Phalarope 2006 2007 – All records were of singles: at the Nevern Est. on 30 Oct. and passing off Strumble Head on the 8 & 25 Sept., 29th Oct. and the 10 Nov. 2008 – a […]

Grey Phalarope – 2006

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July The Grey Phalarope has a circumpolar Arctic breeding distribution, the closest to the UK being in Iceland. Wholly pelagic outside the breeding season, they are sometimes displaced inshore by turbulent weather. In the Atlantic they winter as far south as western and […]

Grey Phalarope – 1994

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July “For many years hardly an autumn has passed without this pretty species being detected on our coasts” wrote Mathew (1894), who also noted that Grey Phalaropes were numerous at Tenby in the autumn of 1893 and that gales sometimes blew them inland. […]

Grey Phalarope – 1949

Phalaropus fulicarius Almost a regular visitor according to Mathew who mentions also that is has often occurred on Caldey and Tenby.  There seem to have been many in 1891. One shot Loveston, winter, 1900 (Bertram Lloyd).  A female, Narberth, 11 Nov 1904 (Mills collection).  Recorded by a writer in the Field 6 Dec 1908.  One picked up […]

Grey Phalarope – 1894

Phalaropus fulicarius An autumn visitor. Our memory goes back to the time when the Grey Phalarope was regarded as a very rare bird, each occurrence being carefully chronicled. But for many years hardly an autumn has passed without this pretty species being detected on our coasts, and after severe gales great numbers are periodically intercepted on their migration southwards from […]

Grey Phalarope

Phalaropus fulicarius – LLYDANDROED LLWYD – Passage migrant. Not recorded from April to July