Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1989

Editorial

Most people probably enjoyed the prolonged calm and sunny weather which dominated the summer of 1989. Some bird species took full advantage of the conditions, raptors. Stonechats and Goldcrests in particular enjoying a productive breeding season.  The weather also brought problems. Most seabirds continued to exhibit declining survival rates and ponds dried up so that migrant waders, like Green Sandpipers, were hard pressed to find muddy margins. It seems that every variation in weather brings advantages and disadvantages. So long as variation continues, some sort of balance of is likely to be maintained. If the pattern changes and dry hot summers and mild winters became normal , marked changes could occur in the avifauna. Is it possible that seabirds could shift to the north, t:hat southern species could extend their range into Britain that wildfowl would not need to travel so far west in the winter?  Such changes would be reflected in the systematic lists of the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports.  We wonder if any such trends lurk unrecognised in the reports published so far?

The island colonies of Lesser Black-backed Gulls experienced a disastrous breeding season in 1989.  Eggs were laid and hatched, but the majority of the young died. Why this happened is not clear but food shortage could have been the cause.  Most of the adults normally fly out to sea to gather fish around the trawler fleet operating in the southern Celtic Deep.  This is a seasonal fishery and it is possible that the onset of prolonged calm and sunny weather resulted in a delayed arrival of the prey species.  The NCC’s Seabirds and Sea Team intends to take  hard look at the area in question during 1990 to try to throw some light on the mystery.  The colonies at Skokholm and Skomer will also be monitored by the DWT’s wardens.  Lesser Black-backed Gulls are declining throughout their range but until now were doing very nicely in Pembrokeshire.  Our colonies have therefore become important to the species in a world context so the repetition of such large scale breeding failure would be very worrying.

The new Pembrokeshire avifauna is on schedule for in 1990. Most the text complete. The production of finished versions of maps and histograms remains and enquiries about publication are in hand.

Our thanks go to BBRC and WRAG for their continued good services, which helps to keep the Pembrokeshire record objectively sound. Most of all, our thanks go the many observers who subjected themselves to the disciplines of good note taking and the adjudication system and to those who not only took a great interest in many facets of local ornithology but were also kind enough to share their findings with the rest of us through the medium of this Bird Report.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

Two meetings of POCOR were convened during 1989 and support arranged for:

BTO

  • National Atlas (second year)
  • Heronry Census
  • Birds of the Estuary counts

DWT:

  • Annual Peregrine monitoring

A sub-committee was set up to review the status of the Chough in Pembrokeshire, to investigate means of habitat management that would be beneficial to Choughs and to identify further study that might further these pursuits.

The 6th Pembrokeshire Bird-Watchers Conference was hosted by the Texaco Oil Company in November. A wide-ranging programme was jointly organised by the DWT and the BTO. An additional presentation outlining the work of POCOR was made to the Pembroke section of the DWT in APril.

Members of POCOR: 1989

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – K.J.S.Devonald

Secretary – G.H.Rees

Members:

  • J.Bird
  • P.Bradburn
  • A.P.R.East
  • S.B.Evans
  • T.Gover
  • E.Gwynn
  • A.J.Hansen
  • R.J.Haycock
  • J.Hayes
  • M.D.Higgins
  • J.E.Hodges
  • G.Knight
  • D.Little
  • K.Longstaff
  • M.A.Petterson
  • J.Potter

The POCOR wishes to thank the staff of the Dyfed Wildlife Trust for their support during the year. Thank you all the observers who gave their support to the surveys and who contributed records, from which this bird report has been complied.

Graham Rees

Highlights

Looking through the systematic list leads me to believe that most of us do most of our birdwatching on islands or headlands, in harbours or estuaries, as record after record originates from such areas.  These sites are of course well known and rewarding venues – we do record from other sites however, for recently we have completed an atlas of breeding birds in our county.  Nevertheless one views any developments which might change the character, naturalness and fruitfulness, in the ‘birding’ sense, of our better sites with something akin to horror – so do I feel about developments which hand over yet more and more of really good habitat to man in pursuit of pleasure and profit (regardless).  The possibility of a hazard to birds in terms of wires, lights and even radar beams (orientation problems perhaps) seem a cause for great concern in that it will be near our valuable islands SSSI, NNR, and Special Protection Area (SPA) and furthermore sited on one of our cherished headland areas at St Davids; I quite accept the views and fears of the landscape and heritage people – we must not forget wildlife aspects though – will our nocturnal seabirds be safe bearing in mind that perhaps 200,000 pairs of Manx Shearwaters breed in the St Bride’s Bay area?

Looking at the systematic list again brings immediately into focus the recording – hopefully accepted – of the long-anticipated Black-browed Albatross.  Cory’s, Great, Sooty, Manx, Balearic and Little Shearwater feature – six species, with sightings as early as July (Great) and as late as November (Little).  The Skomer census of Manx for 1989 gives c.165,000 pairs – a substantial increase beyond Peter Corkhill’s total of c.100,000 pairs back in the ’70s; it seems likely that Skokholm too may have a shearwater population increase.

Should you visit Skokholm in the future and visit the Storm Petrel colonies by night with our warden you too may see Leach’s Petrel as did those on 22 June.

The breeding of Teal at a St Nicholas irrigation reservoir is special – 4 pairs of breeding Pintails on Skomer and of Shovelers there also is no less impressive.  Is 12 Long-tailed Ducks together at Saundersfoot on 29 January a new count record? – think it is.

Marsh Harriers on passage – Montagu’s Harriers overwintering and passing through – a winter Red Kite and a Honey Buzzard in July; it pays to keep a close eye on our “Broad-winged hawks”!

Of falcons, possible breeding of Hobby, our 5th Red-footed Falcon (20 May) and continued expansion and success for Peregrines must please us all.  I think the oft-reported “small grey falcons” flying low along our lanes and cliffs in June were in fact the common and dashingly impressive male Sparrowhawk – doing well too.

Nothing to report on Grey Partridge alas – Red-legged records no doubt refer to game preserve rearings but what of our Quail year – at least 80 sightings – eggs and young seen – we must all now be experts on call notes for the species; there must have been good southerly weather systems at the time of northward spring migration.

Little Ringed Plover – two records – already breeding in Carmarthenshire – soon our turn? – vigilance please – gravel expanses (i.e. Letterston pits and similar areas).

Keep an eye on those gulls too – Mediterranean, Little, Sabine’s, Ring-billed, Iceland, Glaucous, races from remote areas and hybrids – a fascinating group of birds. What though of our Lesser Black-backs (see Editorial)?

Some years Black Guillemot quickens our pulses by appearing at the right time in a favourable breeding site – perhaps one year!

Only one record of Nightjar – only one for Woodlark (oh that we could return to 1961 for the latter delightful songster was frequent then).

Red-throated Pipit – a challenge of identification – pipits really can be – beware of masquerading Meadow Pipits though!

Has anyone ventured into our Preseli quarry areas to check on Ring Ouzel as a breeding bird? – must do this in 1991.  Leucistic Song Thrushes produced wild and varied speculation at Newport Golf Course (near the 19th hole!).

Cetti’s, Savi’s, Blyth’s Reed and Subalpine – warblers all and exciting too. c.20 Blackcaps at Stackpole in the winter is excellent news and proved the value of ringing for these birds were seen in ones and twos, but unringed bird after unringed bird were netted and duly ringed – without this technique RJH may have thought only one or two were involved.

Golden Oriole in a willow in a reed bed at St David’s in June was hoped for, for this peninsula regularly provides views and calling from these wary but splendid birds – most in late May early June period.

Good – breeding Tree Sparrows proved once more.  Crossbill, Hawfinch, Lapland and Little Buntings and Ortolan all recorded.

Bird of the year must be the Northern oriole – probably a first winter female – that found shelter and food in John and Shiela Scammel’s garden at Roch – where it was watched by many who contributed £1,020 to the Trust for the pleasure of seeing and some even photographing this “star turn”.  This was our 4th of the species and whilst it was noted first on 2 January it probably arrived in Britain during the period of stormy westerly winds in October 1988, when it must have carried over the Atlantic on jet streams from the Caribbean as it migrated north to south in the New World.

We are all grateful to John and Shiela for their considerable fortitude – they proved that if the occurrence of a rarity can be “orchestrated” to offend one and benefit some, so be it.  Not all occurrences will be so capable of organisation however.

I almost forgot that intrepid Swallow which wintered in Haverfordwest, 9 January to c.4 March – doubtless it succumbed to the spell of hard weather then and would have had few fat reserves to carry it through.

Another good year for birds behind us – good watching, notetaking and record submissions for the future and thank you to all subscribers and participants.

Jack Donovan


Short notes and reports

The diet of Little Owls on Skomer.

The Strumble Connection

The full Pembrokeshire Bird Report for 1989 is available here

Other Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

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Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1988

Editorial

Balearic Shearwater has been entered separately from Manx Shearwater in this report. This step has been taken partly for ease of reference but also because Balearic is likely to be accredited with specific status in the not too distant future, albeit under a new vernacular name.

Wildfowl and wader numbers were generally lower in 1988 than in recent years, reflecting the mildness of the winter periods. These same mild periods resulted in increased survival of many small birds, so breeding stocks were high. This was particularly welcome in the case of Stonechat whose numbers had been depleted during the previous colder Winters.

Production of a new county avifauna has progressed to the final draft stage for about half the species on the Pembrokeshire list, but a lot of work remains to be done if the 1990 deadline is to be achieved.

On the night of 3 December 198B the tanker “EI Omar”, berthed at the Texaco Jetty, accidently discharged about 1000 tons of oil into the Cleddau Estuary. Oil spread throughout the estuary, stretching as far upstream as the Daugleddau and, somewhat surprisingly, badly contaminating the Carew/Cresswell pills.  A total of 341 birds of 18 species were noted to be oiled on a special survey conducted on 11th December. These included 51 Shelducks, 59 Dunlins and 111 Black-headed Gulls. Few birds were found dead but how many succumbed later is anybody’s guess. How long it will take for the estuary to rid itself of the effects of the oil spill is also an unknown. The estuary has been subject to many minor spills in the past but nothing on as major a scale as this before. Other worrying features are that the spill took so long to notice. that there were unwarranted delays in notifying interested parties and that the emergency measures taken were largely ineffective. Let us hope that subsequent consultations have made better arrangements to deal with any future emergencies.

The newly launched Welsh Ornithological Society published its first annual report in 1988. The report bridged the gap between the demise of the Old series of Welsh Bird Reports published in “Nature in Wales” by the Dyfed Wildlife Trust, and the present day. We understand that future reports will not only contain the annual systematic list, but also include features and papers of Wales-wide interest.  We are delighted that the Dyfed Wildlife Trust was among the first of the regional Societies to become affiliated to WOS and the Pembrokeshire birdwatchers have supported the venture in such good numbers.

Finally, thanks to you all for your contribution of records from which this Pembrokeshire report has been compiled.

Thank you also for cooperating with the two tier adjudication system for bird records, Pembrokeshire can hold its head high on its standard of bird recording.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

Two meetings of POCOR were convened during 1988 and support arranged for:

BTO

  • National Atlas (first year)
  • Heronry Census
  • Birds of the Estuary counts

DWT:

  • Breeding Birds of Pembrokeshire (Final year)
  • Annual Peregrine monitoring

The 5th Pembrokeshire Bird-Watchers Conference was hosted by the Texaco Oil Company in November. A wide-ranging programme was jointly organised by the DWT and the BTO.

Members of POCOR: 1988

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – K.J.S.Devonald

Secretary – G.H.Rees

Members:

  • J Bird
  • A.P.R.East
  • T.Gover
  • A.J.Hansen
  • R.J.Haycock
  • J.Hayes
  • M.D.Higgins
  • D.Little
  • K.Longstaff
  • M.A.Petterson
  • A.Poole
  • J.Potter

The POCOR wishes to thank the staff of the Dyfed Wildlife Trust for their support during the year. Thank you all the observers who gave their support to the surveys and who contributed records, from which this bird report has been complied.

Graham Rees

Highlights

It is not difficult to identify the brightest of this year’s highlights, the finding of a male Moussier’s Redstart at Dinas Head on the 24 April by the indefatigable Graham Walker and his party of birders — I am sure that even most cherished ornithological hopes were exceeded by this “first for Britain” .

GHR an hearing the news strived to locate it in the gathering gloom of dusk and PH and JWD (plus dog-in-law) failed the next morning! The resident Stonechats (similar) were not too pleased with its presence — it departed to we regretfully know not where. Problem is I suppose that this North African species (Atlas Mountains) is normally sedentary except for a degree of vertical migration so is it a genuinely wild occurrence (lately I note another European record occurred in 1988 — an adult male, at Methanic. Greece, on 30 March).

Looking at the records in a more systematic order brings one back to our first Great White Egret at a St. David’s irrigation reservoir in April — a vigilant observation and careful note taking led to this acceptance.

Our Spoonbills achieved national fame — many birders came to see them — a diligent lady noted the first Juvenile on September as fed in the streamlet running into the western end of Angle Bay. The bird that joined it on 12 October, of similar age, was ringed and the visible characters on the large rings led us to the knowledge that it was ringed as a nestling in Holland on 11 June.

I must say that our first Bulwer’s Petrel off Strumble Head, 13 September, is a real “crippler” – would that I was there!  GHR et al again! – and a Cory’s and Great Shearwaters and many Sooty Shearwaters and more!

Worried about Herons – after a mild winter one would expect perhaps an increase in pairs at our Slebech Heronry for such is the normal pattern: in fact we have a decrease and I for one wonder why?

Pintails breeding – two pairs on our Skomer Island – first breeding records for Pembrokeshire and Wales!  How the ducklings, any of them, survive the attentions of the gulls is puzzling.  Parental care and a certain amount of poolside cover must be important.  Tufted Ducks perhaps bred at Lower Treginnis irrigation reservoir (reservoirs again, what a contribution they continue to make to our avifauna).  Shovelers appeared to have bred at the same reservoir and elsewhere.

Not even a little bit scientific this comment, but interesting that our Canada Geese reached a maximum of 116 on the Cleddau complex and the Barnacle Geese of Marloes/Skomer 116 at a Marloes Mere count.

That harriers feature more and more in our records is good.  Montagu’s may well breed again and Marsh are regular birds of passage.  Observers of ringtail harriers really will have to ‘look to their laurels’ and ensure not only that their bird was a Montagu’s and not Hen but was also a Montagu’s and not a Pallid – no way we wish to augment our harrier listing by ‘back door methods’ – ‘face – disk – ear” patterns please!

The Rouqh-legged Buzzard incident should be noted, and again more Osprey records.  Our Peregrine population is now at about 30 pairs, a success story: nevertheless we remain most interested in the birds remaining unmolested and strongly deprecate illicit activities concerning these splendid birds.  It seem certain that some pairs can well tolerate a great deal of public viewing; this is good, we must be wary of disturbance however and yet “keep an eye” on our personal adopted eyrie to ensure successful broods.

A Corncrake record with a pang, Skomer 4 October, I recollect the nests and calling birds as recently as the early ’60’s.

One wonders if the two Ring—necked Parakeet records are forerunners of colonisation on the lines of the Collared Dove success — very doubtful but they do enjoy Ash seeds and we are well endowed with such trees.

To have heard the Nightingale in song in West Wales is good – a pity the songster failed to find a mate and so breed — or just what did happen? We all know that singing ceases when the young hatch and are to be fed (no time for idle song!)

Another “Strumble” makes the lists, our first Dusky Warbler, 15 October, a record for the skilled and vigilant; take a look at NAL’s article on pages 29-32, all is revealed – discoveries await your attention (we will need a full description or course of your rara aves).

The Chough continues to intrigue and delight all who know it.  It is our privilege to have custodianship of some or more pairs; POCOR is currently promoting some investigations into brood success, feeding area needs and winter survival – records of this species doing what and where are very welcome.  We are grateful to Richard Meyer (Applied Ornithology Unit, University of Glasgow) for sharing his researches with us.

The November Rose—coloured Starling was said to be a “replica’ of the 1986 bird located only some 100 metres or so away – it’s here again I heard said, no of course not, for Juveniles soon moult into at least sub—adult plumage .

Siskins invaded in September — November (they invaded Isles of Scilly to at that time). Doubtless one undeniable benefit from conifer plantations in our uplands — have you visited the Rosebush area to see our Siskins and Redpolls during the breeding season?

Twite, Black-headed Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are noted – clearly there is no end to the arrivals unusual and unexpected – I hope you share in such observations, if you do, please keep “us” well-informed.

N.B. I should have mentioned that as a result of 1988/89 winter data as assessment of our Cleddau Estuary system has revealed that the waterway, with its dendritic system of creeks, pills, mudflats and saltings, is of INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE for over 20,000 waterfowl (waders and wildfowl) have been recorded over the period 84/5 – 88/89 as average winter peaks.

Also I should have mentioned the Chough conference held at Orielton in November 1988, the event was a workshop on Chough conservation: NCC and World Wide Fund for Nature were among lead organisations.  Speakers covering Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, France, Portugal and Andalusia and of course Wales, including the local scene.  Our own Bob Haycock led an excursion in his St Govan’s study area – many feeding Choughs were seen and local folk felt that much had been learnt which would help out local consideration for the Chough’s future in Pembrokeshire.

Jack Donovan


Short notes and reports

Manx shearwaters enjoy good P.R.

Grassholm revisited

Nesting swallows

Salutary Encounter

Early and late dates for summer migrants on Skokholm

Rare passerines on mainland Pembrokeshire

The full Pembrokeshire Bird Report for 1988 is available here

Other Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1987

Editorial

The West. Wales Trust for Nature Conservation recently changed name to the Dyfed Widlife 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 alms 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 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


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

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

BTO

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

DWT:

  • 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

Members:

  • 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

Highlights

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

Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1986

Editorial

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


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

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

BTO

  • Heronry Census
  • Winter cormorants
  • Estuaries Enquiry

Seabird Group:

  • Operation Seafarer II (year 2)

WWTNC:

  • 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

Members:

  • 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

Highlights

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

Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1985

Editorial

This is the fifth Pembrokeshire Bird Report in the present series. It differs from previous versions inasmuch as it has modestly expanded beyond being a simple systematic list. It is hoped that future editions will continue to develop so that the Report becomes both a reference document and a means of keeping readers appraised of ornithological developments within the Pembrokeshire boundaries.

Field activities in 1985 included a week long survey of Ramsey Island and an overnight landing on North Bishop Rock. Relevant details have been incorporated within the systematic list.

A meeting of the POCOR held in Feb 1986 agreed that descriptions of the following species would no longer be subject to the WRAG vetting procedure: White Stork, Gull ,Little Auk ,Wryneck Golden Oriole, Blue-headed Wagtail, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler and Lapland Bunting.  All other species on the WRAG list would still require the usual  positive vetting before being accepted into the Pembs listings. with the Pembs Breeding Birds Survey research continues towards the production of a new Pembs avifauna. It is hoped to complete this work ready for publication in 1990. It would greatly assist the thoroughness of this task if observers do forward any previously unsubmitted records ,ringing recovery or any reprints of relevant published material.

On the evening of the 16 June, the 1100 ton tanker M.V.Bridgeness ran aground on the Barrels. About 190 T of oil leaked into the sea and over 2,000 birds were known to have become contaminated. 631 dead birds were collected, the main victims being 291 Puffins, 189 Guillemots and 103 Razorbills. Most if not all, were adults and consequently chicks at nearby colonies were known to have died from starvation having thus been deprived of one or more of their parents.

A review of Scandinavian Lesser Black-backed Gull records suggests that erstwhile claims for L.f.fuscus may well relate to L.f.intermedius. Greater awareness of the differences should permit more accurate recognition over the next few years and hopefully establish a pattern of occurrence against which previous records may be put into perspective.

Graham Rees


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

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

BTO

  • Heron Census
  • Winter waders on rocky shores
  • Winter cormorants
  • Estuaries Enquiry

Seabird Group:

  • Operation Seafarer 2 (year 1)

WWTNC:

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

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

The 2nd Pembs Bird-Watchers Conference was held at Orielton Field Centre on 23 November, jointly sponsored by the WWTNC and the BTO, and organised by A and S.J. Sutcliffe. 120 people listened to a varied programme consisting of nine talks.

Members of POCOR: 1985

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – S.J.Sutcliffe

Secretary – G.H.Rees

Members:

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

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

Graham Rees

Highlights

I am sure that the 2nd Pembrokeshire Birdwatchers’ Conference held at Orielton on 23 Nov, 1985 qualifies as a 1985 highlight-a splendid range of topics was covered by speakers with very styles. The content was excellent with something for everybody. Maintaining such standards in future years will be difficult!

We think of divers as coastal birds – a winter visitor to harbour or headland — imagine the delight of farmer Neville Pugh when he identified (and photographed) a Red-throated Diver on his irrigation reservoir at Hayston Hall. Irrigation reservoirs make a significant contribution to Pembrokeshire’s natural history, so if you know of one in your “territory” keep an eye on it if permissible.

Slavonian Grebes tarry ever later and the sight of one in impressive summer plumage at the Gann in early April was a delight – oh that ruby eye!

Shearwater watchers go from strength to strength in their identification skills – beware though the problems of separating ‘Balearic’ from “Levantine”, convincing detail must be recorded.

Bitterns continue to visit us in winter – Heron numbers appear to be down a little — this species is a hard weather reactant.

Impressive numbers of Bewick’s Swans in the St David’s area – 32 is a goodly count. Five species of wild geese is worthy of note and the feeding exodus from Skomer of the Barnacles gave many really splendid views at and near Marloes Mere; this WWTNC reserve now seemingly very well favoured by wintering fowl – the pools scrapes, weir repairs and the farmer’s reservoir extentions have given us a fine wetland location which can be reasonably well ‘scoped from the National Trust car park.

120 Canada Geese in December on the Cleddau Estuary is a record number.

Turning to birds of prey, surely the June harrier is significant – vigilant observation essential in likely breeding areas in the coming years. Red Kite and Hobby continue to feature increasingly, but are Merlin records decreasing? This would certainly tie up with the trend in British breeding populations.

Of waders , the Skokholm Temminck ‘s Stint , the same island’s Pectoral Sandpipers and the Buff—breasted Sandpipers of Elate Airfield during September are such as to make one look forward to autumn viewing and visits to these rewarding locations. Just think though of the many suitable sites unvisited and the likely presence of less usual species.

1985 has been a good gull year! Our first authenticated Ring-billed Gull (Llanstadwell in February) and Sabine’s, Little, Glaucous and “Meds”. Beware (or aware) ,was your so very dark-mantled Lesser Black-back really fuscus fuscus? — certainly not fuscus graelsi, but what of fuscus intermedius? “Gen up”, go forth a birding but be cautious!

Auks undeniably suffered from spillage from M.V.Bridgeness, let’s hope the population is capable of recovery — one would think it is.

It was interesting to see the winter Song Thrushes able to cope with the hard weather, lack of snow cover enabled the birds to find snails. There were well used “anvils” everywhere. Some birds met their fate in roadside verges, unable always to avoid the traffic ;they fared rather better than other thrushes.

If you are “into” small brown birds then what of Skomer Island 1985? Icterine, Melodious, SubaIpine, Barred and Lesser Whitethroat – book your island accommodation I would suggest. The latter species seems to be more often recorded than previously the strident call is quite unmistakable once heard.  Yellow-browed Warblers are a feature of the year; search the coastal sheltered valleys and tree clumps in September and October and we may record more of them.

A pilgrimage to St Davids in late May undeniably will bring ecclesiastical rewards — secular matters of an ornithological flavour can also be rewarding though for this seems to be a favourite time and location for Golden Oriole!

For me though the best bird of 1985 was the singleton albino Gannet with yellow bill and cream white unblemished plumage which flew closely past Strumble lookout on 15 Sept — many saw this lone mystic “Marie Celeste” of the sea bird world.

P.S. Enough of highlights there’s work to do – the Atlas project needs more input – please help in 1986 & 1987

Jack Donovan

The full Bird Report for 1985 is available here

Other Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1984

Editorial

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


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

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

BTO

  • 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

Members:

  • 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

Highlights

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

NB:

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

Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1983

Editorial

During the compilation of this Report we have been greatly encouraged by the increase in both volume and quality of the records received, This has permitted a certain amount of interpretation to be embodied in the species accounts. Continuation of this trend can only benefit our collective understanding of the Birds of Pembs, and continued use of the recording sheets whenever possible would assist with the collation task.

Pembs is not blessed with great numbers of observers, so making the best use of our slender resources seems desirable. It might therefore be worthwhile to state that series of records for particular localities can be of great value in interpreting population trends and migration times. In the same vein, comprehensive reporting of birds confined to limited habitat, e.g. Pochard, Coot, etc., would aid the assessment of their annual status and perhaps their conservation needs, This leads, almost inevitably, to ask where does one stop recording, particularly where common birds are concerned, and allows us the chance to emphasise the importance of the WWNT Breeding Birds (Tetrad) Survey. If enthusiastically supported, this survey will provide us all with a datum from which to decide the recording needs.

Pembs has long been famous for its breeding sea birds and the pioneering study of their breeding biology started by R.M. Lockley. It is important to note that this work has continued unabated at Skokholm and Skomer through the good offices of the WNT, Further related study has been conducted on the mainland and there is a developing tendency to extend this to birds in both inshore and offshore waters. This additional emphasis is reflected in some of the species accounts in this Report, and we would be pleased to receive further records made during Irish ferry crossings, other boat trips and from the rocks and islands scattered around our shores,

Finally, we ask for full co-operation with regard to the reporting of rarities. Generally the rarities of BBRC status are quickly reported to the Recorder and details for adjudication usually follow, With regard to the WRAG list, this is not always the case, necessitating a lot of expensive correspondence eliciting details or the omission of records for lack of evidence. Can all observers please study the WRAG list (detailed below the List of Contributors) and forward relevant details to the Recorder as soon as practical following the sighting. This would allow time for the records to circulate WRAG and decisions to be incorporated in the current Bird Reports.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

Four meetings were held in 1983, and support organised for the following:

RSPB:

  • Beached Birds Survey

BTO:

  • Winter Gull Roost Counts
  • Mute Swan Breeding Survey
  • Buzzard Breeding Survey
  • Estuaries Enquiry
  • Winter Atlas Enquiry

Wildfowl Trust: Monthly Wildfowl Counts

Plans were made to launch a WWNT Breeding Birds in Pembs Survey, commencing in 1984 and to run for 5 years. Samples will be plotted using tetrad squares. Anyone who would like to contribute, please contact the POCOR secretary.

Monthly co-ordinated counts of the Cleddau Estuary were organised, commencing September 1982. Some of the results are embodies in the Bird Report and provide a new appreciation of the Estuary’s importance.

Members of POCOR: 1983

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – D.A.Henshilwood

Secretary – G.H.Rees

Members:

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

Once again the POCOR would like to thank all the observers who contributed to the survey work and to all in the Trust Office for the invaluable staff work.

Graham Rees

Highlights

It is difficult to assess a special event, to decide just what is just that in ornithological terms, – one tends to think of rarities or of species new to the in county list. Jays are not unusual Pembs, however, but there is no doubt that to have seen parties in September and October ranging from 10 to 200 individuals was incredible. I suspect that the 800 or so Woodpigeons at Letterston, 26 October, could have been another effect of the perhaps unprecedented shortage of acorns in Britain.

The seabird spectacular of the year must surely have been the westerly movement past Strumble Head on 3 September. Viewers packed into the sheltering lookout recorded during the day 397 Sooty Shearwaters, 103 Arctic Skuas and 199 Great Skuas and many other notable species and numbers, Perhaps we should all look to our meteorology for it all seems to depend on the weather – the winds, and of course the season.

If you want to succeed with vocal but ‘invisible’ species like crakes, then a tape recorder is your need. We have convincing taped sound recordings of Spotted Crake and Savi’s Warbler calling from their wetland cover at Dowrog in May and June.

Some ore not contented with single rarities; fine views of Buff- breasted Sandpiper and Dotterel together were had by a fortunate few in September at Dale airfield; it seems that disused airfields are of great attraction to some species.

A spinning Red-necked Phalarope on a small murky pool near Broad Haven gave an excellent opportunity to see the so very needle-like bill of this not so frequently recorded bird in our county – this was in October, The subsequent wintering (Jan to April) of up to 12 Spotted Redshank at Millin was a regular reward for dedicated estuary counters.

Marsh Harriers are featuring more often in our annual reports than previously, Iceland Gulls, too, are more often noted.

Of real rarities the Gull-billed Tern passing Strumble on 16 October, the Alpine Swift circling Garnfawr earlier in the year in April, the Little Bittern at Dowrog on 3 May, all prove that birds are there to be seen.

Be vigilant ~ record the details – and a special record could be yours.

Of great interest was the attractive leucistic Dunnock near Hazelbeach (Neyland) seen late 1982 + into 1983 – such abnormal birds can be difficult to identify, but if one considers the habitat and watches the activities closely – yes, of course, the ‘mouse-like’ movement, wing flicking, are those of the Dunnock (or Hedge Sparrow you prefer it).

Last, but not least, we have speculated around the question ‘do Pied Flycatchers breed in our County?’ Now we know that they indeed do, for a pair – unable to pass the compulsive array of desirable nest-boxes provided by a good lady in her garden at The Rhos – reared a brood; our first recorded breeding of the species for Pembs.

There will be much to see, record, and discover, in the years ahead.

Jack Donovan

The full bird report for 1983 is available here


Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1982

Editorial

Reviewing the records for this, the second Pembrokeshire Bird Report, it has become increasingly obvious a lot of bird observations are not being submitted for inclusion. Indeed, many of those listed among the contributors only appear because their records were extracted from the B.T.O. Winter Atlas returns.

The quality of future reports relies on observers making more of an effort. There are a number of species that are not seen in such numbers, or so frequently, that all sightings could be noted, e.g. Shoveler, Green Sandpiper, Barn Owl, Siskin, to name just a few.

Additionally, on local basis of Vice-County, regular information on breeding numbers for birds like Heron, Sand Martin, etc., would form useful base for conservation uses.

Not all observers wish to be too systematic, though we can vouch for it adding a new dimension to the enjoyment of bird watching. A new recording form has been designed that we hope will make it easier to progress gently in this direction. Forms are available from the Trust Office and will be made available at Section meetings.

It would greatly aid the collation of records if these forms are used. However, records are acceptable in other formats, none arc discarded.

J.W.Donovan and G.H.Rees


PEMBROKESHIRE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR ORNITHOGOICAL RESEARCH (POCOR)

Three meetings were held in 1982, and support organised for the following:

RSPB:

  • Chough Census
  • Beached Birds Survey

BTO:

  • Breeding Waders in Wet Meadows
  • Estuaries Enquiry
  • Winter Atlas Project

Wildfowl Trust: Monthly Wildfowl Counts

In conjunction with the Chough Census, coastal breeding stonechats and gulls were counted on behalf of the Trust. The Stonechat results are contained in the 1982 Bird Report and form an important base line for monitoring the fortunes of this species. The gull data was in support of S.J.Sutcliffe’s long term gull studies.

Monthly co-ordinated counts of the Cleddau Estuary were organised, commencing September 1982. Some of the results are embodies in the Bird Report and provide a new appreciation of the Estuary’s importance.

Members of POCOR: 1982

Chairman – J.W.Donovan

Vice Chairman – D.A.Henshilwood

Secretary – G.H.Rees

Members:

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

Highlights

The Winter 1981-82 produced more Bittern records than previously; 11 or so were recorded with 4 or 5 at Bosherston, A few were found dead and were one remained until late May. Clearly in times of hard weather our Pembrokeshire reedbeds are vital to eastern and perhaps continental birds.

Red-necked Grebes and black-necked Grebes – 4 of the latter, were well represented during Winter and Autumn – have we just overlooked the latter species in recent years, or are times and events changing?

The Little Egret on the Nevern estuary and the White Stork at St Davids were very welcome vagrants which gave viewers – some well-travelled themselves, excellent viewing. This was in April.

Bosherston Pools continued to provide interesting species, for the Red-crested Pochard of September and the Ferruginous Duck of November were notable occurrences. The Ferruginous hybrid (?) of early December was, and doubtless will remain, a challenge of identification.

The late year brought two “seconds” for the county – a Ruddy Duck at Pickleridge Pools near Dale, and a female Surf Scoter off Strumble (the latter still to be ratified by B.B.R.C.).

A Marsh Harrier frequenting Dowrog and Tretio from late October to December was much more rewarding thon the usual transient visits of this species, and the communal roosting of Hen Harriers there was again noted, Does this notable habit occur elsewhere in the county in moorland thickets or willow carrs?

Fourteen recorded sightings of Barn Owl is encouraging in a species finding it hard to keep numbers up.

Sea watch notables included a total of 27 Pomerine Skuas, mostly off Strumble in the Autumn, but, also in May at St Govan’s Head, five Long-tailed Skuas and four Sabine’s Gulls is also impressive.

The House Martin of 10th February at Dale – dead I fear – was really remarkable.

An unprecedented Black Redstart event for our county was of no less than 111 recorded in early November – 54 of which were located in one day in the Castlemartin peninsula.

Seven wintering Blackcaps were encountered – a goodly number.

If you have not seen Icterine Warbler then Skokholm is the place for you to visit – Spring or Autumn – you just could be lucky for 4 occurred in 1982.

“Bird of the Year” must surely have been the Pallas’s Warbler located by a keen and vigilant observer at Wooltack near Marloes, in intense anticyclone in Western Russia must have given us this delightful small Asiatic leaf-warbler,

Clearly there is much to see and record in Pembrokeshire – please observers, continue to provide the records – well-presented and documented, and the Bird Report will go from strength to strength.

Jack Donovan

The full bird report for 1982 is available here


Pembrokeshire Bird Report 1981

This is the editorial page from the first Pembrokeshire Bird Report. Links to the editorial and highlights from subsequent bird reports are listed at the end. These extracts from the bird reports are reproduced here as part of the history of bird-watching and bird-recording in Pembrokeshire

This is the first in a series of Reports on the birds of Pembrokeshire, produced on behalf of the POCOR of the WWNT.

It is intended to report annually hereafter and to increase the value of the contents, an appeal is made to all observers, whether resident or visiting, to send their records to the Recorder, In this way our knowledge of Pembrokeshire ornithology should become more complete, providing useful base line for innumerable possible individual research projects.

Ideally, records should be submitted on the recording forms (obtainable from the Recorder), It would be appreciated if only one side of each sheet is used so that they can be cut up for collation, saving a lot of manual transcription.

To ensure as even a treatment as possible, rarities will be accepted only if approved by the British Birds Rarities Committee. In line with other Welsh counties, Welsh rarities will be accepted only when approved by the Welsh Rarities Advisory Group.

Details of rarities, of both National and Welsh status, should be forwarded to the Recorder for onward transmission to the appropriate body as soon as possible after the event. It should be noted that with effect from 1 January 1983 the following species will no longer be considered by British Birds, so will automatically carry over onto the WRAG Lists-

Cory’s Shearwater, Purple Heron, White Stork, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Richard’s Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Savi’s Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Serin and Scarlet Rosefinch,

It is intended to include short papers of a local character as annexes to the Bird Reports and receipt of same would be welcomed.

J. W. Donovan and G. H. Rees

The full bird report for 1981 is available here