15 December 2012

St Davids Hd Autumn Summary 2012


Back from Spain the Autumn started for me on 31st August when 55 Barnacle Geese flew over and around Ramsey before returning to Cardigan Island from where they presumably originated. On the 5th and 6th Grey Wagtails went through (5 & 3+), the best numbers of a good Autumn. White Wagtails were present early in the month, mainly on the Golf Course, but in low numbers. The first Pied Flycatcher appeared at the Youth Hostel on 7th. On 13th a Long-eared Owl was roosting in the withies in Porthmelgan Valley, a rare bird these days with no known winter roosts. After a break on Skokholm, a walk around on 22nd turned up a Firecrest at The Youth Hostel while the next day, a flushed Grasshopper caused a missed heartbeat or two. An unremarkable September, the weather really wasn't helping!

Long-eared Owl  13th September


Just a couple of days birding on the 4th and 5th produced 4 Light-bellied Brents on 4th and Grey Wagtails both days: then it was off to Scilly for a couple of weeks. Arrived back to some vis mig which was nice, mainly Chaffinches with fewer Skylarks and Redwings as well as a Brambling in with the Chaffinches. A Woodcock at the Burial Chamber was good. The Bests' Scaup was still at Penberi Res, remaining on and off through the rest of the Autumn. BD had a Snow Bunting out at the Fort the next day when I had a possible Irish 'hibernicus' Coal Tit at the Youth Hostel, looking very like birds I had seen on St Agnes a little while before. The 23rd was rather quiet but brightened by a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Porthmelgan Withies and a Willow Warbler looking good for 'acredula' along The Pencarnan Track. Another Yellow-browed Warbler was in willows along The Cabin Track the next day and there were 1st yr male and female Ring Ouzels out in the Porthmelgan Withies but, unfortunately, no sign of yesterday's Yellow-browed there. The Ring Ouzels were present on the 25th when 700 Chaffinches went over along with 4+ Bramblings and a selection of other regular migrants. A Black Redstart, oddly keeping to the sycamores at the Youth Hostel, was the first of the Autumn. The 26th was notable for a Jack Snipe found by MH, the first site record for me, and 2 Short-eared Owls with a newly-in 1st w male Ring Ouzel up on the Western Rocks as well as 'abietinus' Chiffchaffs in the Porthmelgan Withies and later at Porth Clais. Another was at the Youth Hostel on the 28th. The first Merlin appeared on 27th, no doubt the first of many sightings till late Spring.

Ring Ouzel   Oct 26th 

October finished for me on 30th with some movement apparent including 3 Bramblings over and a close-in Great Northern in Whitesands Bay.


Maybe 1200 Golden Plovers and 600 Lapwings were back around the fields at nearby Crug Glas on 2nd though proving impossible to pin down this year. A Short-eared Owl, at the Burial Chamber, a Woodcock in the Porthmelgan Withies and a new Black Redstart at the Youth Hostel were good but pretty much the sum of the day on the 3rd. The first big arrival of Thrushes occurred on 4th and a couple of Bramblings with the Chaffinches. There were two Bewick's Swans on Penberi briefly, found by LL. Again Thrushes were around in numbers on 6th, especially Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. Another Black Redstart was around on 8th when a Snow Bunting went over. A Short-eared Owl was present next day, a good autumn for them. Again Thrushes were in evidence on 14th, a lively day when 2 Crossbills went over as well as 3+ Bramblings and another Short-eared Owl was present.There were Bramblings again on the 15th and 2 Stock Doves, on 16th, these being very unusual migrants here. An adult male Merlin also started a prolonged stay on this date.
A Black Redstart on 5th December (the 10th of the year)  brought a slightly disappointing autumn to a close.

21 November 2012

St Davids Hd Spring Summary 2012


Spring passage probably starts late February but March is the time when it really becomes noticeable. The first White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs appeared mid month with a few Goldcrests and an increase in Meadow Pipits, though their numbers vary remarkably day to day. There was still a Black Redstart early in the month, a species that bridges winter and spring. The first Wheatears appeared on the 15th March as the first Siskins started moving through. The first Willow Warblers and Blackcaps appeared on the 24th. The first day I noted Redpoll passage was the 24th and it continued  to 20th July at least. All pretty remarkable. It was noted elsewhere too and seemed to be made up of both Lesser and Mealy Redpolls, though confused by the problem of worn Lessers in spring. I just wonder if there's not the chance of a North-western Redpoll in there somewhere?
On the 27th a Purple Heron flew along Daffodil Lane, avoiding open water and dropping into cover when it could. This one was in full breeding best and quite showy, for a little while as it stood on the bank of a nearby pond. The same day produced Black Redstart again and Hooded Crow as well as a very interesting, but ultimately inconclusive, Harrier sp. the next day, there was a female Ring Ouzel sheltering in the Burial chamber, perhaps not the first in the last couple of thousand years. A different Black Redstart was present on the 29th and the last couple of days of the month were characterised by Goldfinches moving through.


A Hooded Crow appeared on the 6th but by then the cold, westerly weather pattern had become established, The Jet Stream seemed to be the cause, being so far south, and it was set the same for months to come. The result was a disappointing spring, seemingly lacking any easterlies at all. There was  a good passage of Hirundines (mostly Swallows) on the 13th and the first Cuckoo, a female, was flushed from gorse on the Head. On the 14th the first Greenland/Icelandic Wheatears appeared. On the 15th 3 Greenland Whitefronts were on Ivor's Pond before moving to a field nearby. They stayed till the 17th and then moved along the coast. Part of the national invasion.  Every year seems to bring a a big fall of Willow Warblers and this year it was the 20th, it coincided with a good number of Grasshopper Warblers and a few Blackcaps. Hirundines (mainly Swallows) also pushed through all day. The Hirundine movement continued the next day when the first Whitethroats and Sedge Warbler put in an appearance. The first Whimbrels appeared on 22nd when there were 26 present at Whitesands. Wheatear numbers for the spring peaked at 97 on 28th. Swifts and a first summer male Redstart brightened up the end of the month on 30th.


A Hobby gave great views at Whitesands Car Park on the 1st and there were 79 Whimbrels present, the highest spring count, with a bright male Bar-tailed Godwit mixed in with them. The same day 4 Tree Pipits flew over and two were present at the Gesail, a second Redstart was with the original in Porthmelgan Withies. Large numbers of Wheatears arrived in the afternoon to join good numbers of Willow Warblers in the day. The Willow Warblers lingered into the 2nd along with higher numbers of Blackaps, the only Whinchat of the spring, 2 Garden Warblers and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. A different female Redstart was at the Youth Hostel and the Hooded Crow appeared briefly again. On the 3rd, 3 Common Sandpipers were on Penberi Res, then on the 4th a Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat were on the Dowrog. A Golden Oriole brightened an otherwise boring day on the 8th, part of an exceptional nationwide influx and the first of three in Pembrokeshire, all first year males or females. A Brimstone butterfly was a bit special too. I heard a Bee Eater over Carn Llidi on the 16th but unfortunately didn't get sight of it. On 17th the first Spotted Flycatcher was present and the Hooded Crow put in another appearance. There were 3 Cuckoos on 19th and they were pretty regular through the late spring. The Hooded Crow appeared twice more, being seen last on the 27th. On the 25th and 26th a male Firecrest was at the Youth Hostel and sometimes singing, a good spring record.

June - July

Redpolls and Cuckoos kept appearing, right through. The only diversion at the end of a disappointing spring was the appearance of an adult Red-breasted Goose on Penberi Res on 14th. I wonder what would have happened if it had been January!

10 November 2012

Snow Buntings

Races of Snow Buntings

There are three races of Snow Bunting which can be found in Britain, though only two are regular and likely to be seen. The nominate race 'nivalis'. breeds from Canada and Greenland via Scotland to Scandinavia and NW Russia. The second race is 'insulae' which breeds in Iceland (and has been cited as a perhaps rather unlikely candidate for a split). The rarest race to appear in Britain is the NE Russian and Siberian race 'vlasowae'.

A work in progress

Because the number of Snow Buntings seen on passage and wintering in Pembrokeshire (and other west coast sites?) is small, it's difficult to be clear about the ratios of sexes, ages and races present. My own recent experience has produced rather more males of the race 'nivalis' than might perhaps have been expected since on the east coast (particularly Norfolk where there are large flocks in winter at a number of sites) trapping revealed a preponderence of females, particularly 1st year birds, of the Icelandic race 'insulae'. However I understand that the ratio of races at least may have changed significantly there in recent times, though I haven't seen any written accounts as yet. In Pembs there'll be an ongoing attempt to  photograph and, hopefully, trap wintering and passage birds.

Ageing Snow Buntings

Males, are generally whiter than females, having more extensive white on head and cheeks as well as broader white fringes to feathers on back and mantle. The white is often tipped with buff which wears over time to show more white. On the whole adult males have the whiter primary coverts and immature females the darkest but with individual variation. Also 'insulae' tends to be darker than 'nivalis'. The shape of the tail feathers is a useful method of ageing Snow Buntings with 1st year birds having more pointed and often more worn tail feathers (Svensson 1992 has useful illustrations). The tertials are often easier to see and judge and two generations of feathers; with a contrast between fresh chestnut tertials with paler more worn feathers indicating 1st year birds (usually the longest tertial is retained, juvenile). Uniform tertials and all adult type tail feathers do not always indicate an adult bird since a juvenile can, rarely, moult all these feathers.

Sexing Snow Buntings

Overall Males are whiter and more contrasting than females. Male Snow Buntings generally have more white in the wing and the primary coverts , in particular, are generally, largely white. It seems likely adults will, on the whole, show more white than 1st year birds. females have darker primary coverts and less white in the wing overall. All these features exhibit some overlap.

Racing Snow Buntings

Overall 'nivalis' is the brighter and 'insulae' the darker race, though this is subject to the criteria which determine age and sex. Males of the race 'nivalis' exhibit white rump feathers, often tipped buff or gingery buff, this often abraiding over time to become reduced. Females have the 9th primary 60% or more white (a feature often visible in photographs). Males of the race 'insulae' have black based rump feathers tipped rufous-buff. Females of this race have 40% or less of the 9th primary white. The back and mantle of 'nivalis' is often described as 'frosty' looking, having a pale greyish-white appearance. 'Insulae' is darker and browner. While this generally follows from earlier descriptions of the extent of white etc made earlier, at least one individual seen in Pembs suggests that, at the least, this feature may be worth further critical examination.

Some Snow Buntings are probably impossible to catogarise with certainty but many can aged, sexed and raced with some confidence. It is important to use as many characters as possible, in combination.

Snow Buntings in The Wirral

The following, very instructive, illustrated photographs have been produced by Phil Woollen.

This 1st year male 'nivalis' bird was present on St Agnes Scilly on at least 2th October 2012.

extensive white inc white p. cov's = male
white, buff-fringed rump feathers = 'nivalis'

2 generations of tertials = 1st yr
(longest paler and more worn)

The pale, frosty mantle which appears to be characteristic of 'nivalis' may not be useful for all birds. Occasional records, such as a bird viewed at Fishguard Outer Breakwater during a ringing session (but not trapped, unfortunately), may throw some doubt on this feature. Something to assess over time.

30 October 2012

Northern Chiffchaffs in Pembrokeshire

Pale, monochromatic grey-brown chiffchaffs of the Scandinavian race 'abietinus' are probably regular in Pembs in autumn with some wintering, along with 'collybita' birds,  in regular places such as Monk Haven.

Variation in individual 'collybita' birds means that caution should be exercised in claiming 'abietinus' birds, yet there are clear groups of records in autumn associated with the occurence of other species such as Yellow-browed Warbler which make it a relatively safe exercise. These conditions existed in late October 2012 and led to a cluster of records at St Davids Hd, Porth Clais, DaleVillage and St Brides.

As well as this, at least in my view, enough wintering birds have been seen, often in association with 'collybita' Chiffchaffs, to feel quite secure about claiming them as 'abietinus'. Hopefully more will be recorded and photographed. And to add some spice, Siberian Chiffchaff ('tristis') is most likely to be discovered in similar circumstances.

'abietinus' Chiffchaff St Davids Hd 26th October 2012
photo: Mark Hipkin

Other 'washed out' Chiffchaffs were recorded at, for instance, Bardsey during this period and assigned to both 'abietinus' and 'tristis'. 

'abietinus' Chiffchaff Porth Clais 26th October 2012
photo: Mark Hipkin

More observations and photos would definitely be good, maybe starting this winter in  sheltered valleys and sewage treatment works?

27 October 2012


Kathy and I had spent the morning of 27th October at St Davids Hd and dropped in to Heathfield GP on our way home hoping for something interesting since having seen more ducks than usual at Penberi Reservoir. It was still and bright, ideal conditions. We viewed the pit from the south side and Kathy headed back to the gate and the car. I continued round to the west to check out that area which has been productive in the past. Nothing. On a slightly weary trudge back to the car I vaguely heard a distant disyllabic ‘too-eet’ call which I didn’t recognise. I got enough energy together to head off in that direction and from on or near  the concrete parking area a bird flew up, much closer now and calling repeatedly. I instantly recognised the now fully heard call and grilled the bird as it flew off east, taking its time about it, before disappearing from view. I did not see the bird on the ground only in flight.

The call registered as a soft disyllabic ‘too-eet’ when heard from a distance and not really concentrating. When I was closer and it called repeatedly it was a more rolling (very attractive) call which I tried to transcribe in my notebook as  I walked away. I wrote it down as: ‘tirillee-eep’. The bird rose rather vertically and did not fly off really strongly so I got time to really get a good look at it. The flight pattern was rather bouncy, rather than direct.

The wings were clearly broad and rather rounded and the tail noticeably short giving a very distinctive flight silhouette. The bird was pale below and I got a general impression of warm brown rather than colder greyish tones.
I didn't see the white tips to tail but I could see that the outer tail feathers were paler than the central ones. The impression was of a lack of uniformity.

I watched the bird for a couple of minutes I suppose, till it disappeared over trees to the east. Really, really enjoyable.

Woodlarks are less than annual in Pembs.

Woodlarks in Pembrokeshire since 2000

Strumble Hd  21st October 2002  (MYP)
Porth Clais  26th October 2003  (PKG AR OR)
Bosherston 11th December 2005 (DJA)
Skomer 1st November 2010  (DB)
Heathfield GP 27th October 2012  (MYP)
St David's Hd 24th October 2013  (MYP)

22 October 2012

Irish Coal Tits in Pembrokeshire and beyond

Irish Coal Tits in Scilly

Birds showing characteristics of the Irish race 'hibernicus' arrived on St Agnes in the Scilly Isles on October 10th following north-westerly winds. Initially found out on rocks at Horse Point, they were a real Scilly rarity, though there was breeding on the island of Tresco in the past. There were at least 20, eventually, on St Agnes and were  far, far rarer than the Grey-cheeked Thrush which was present three days before, in fact the last record anywhere in Scilly was 2008. They caused quite a stir and there was much checking for the clearer blue grey back and mantle of continental 'ater' but this area seemed to be rather 'britannicus' like olive-brown. Lots of speculation also centred around the obvious yellow suffusion in the cheeks and sometimes nape. At first many assumed that this was age related, indicating 1st autumn birds. This would be unlikely so late in the year, however, when Blue and Great Tits had clearly lost this juvenile feature. It was noted that this yellow suffusion is said to be indicative of the Irish race 'hibernicus' (there is a brief note in The 'Collins Guide' or a little more in Svensson's Ringers' Guide 1992). The back and mantle colour was ok and of course the wind direction when they arrived in Scilly helps with Ireland as the possible origin.

These taken on St agnes. The picture quality is poor, the bright light bleaching out much lemon colour from the head. It is possible to make some out, however, and the underparts are also interesting. The usual British birds 'britannicus' at my bird table all seem to have warm buff flanks with whitish centre to breast and belly. 

In Pembrokeshire

If Irish birds could get to Scilly, well Pembrokeshire is a relatively short hop away.To  find therefore a similar bird on a North Pembrokeshire headland (St Davids) on 22nd October  was perhaps predictable but nevertheless quite exciting. A close look revealed a dullish olive-brown back and mantle warm buff tones on flanks and a creamy yellow suffusion most noticeable in the cheeks. I am aware of two other records of apparently migrant Coal Tits in Pembrokeshire about this time, both from the St Davids area. Nine were seen to fly from Porth Clais, high over St Bride's Bay on 19th October (JB MB) and two were at Rhosson Farm also on 19th October (JB MB). Unfortunately none were seen well enough to give an indication of race, though my gut feeling is that some of them, at least, must be suspects in the affair.

North Wales

The blog 'We Bird North Wales' via Marcbuzzard has taken up the topic and published photos of a 'hibernicus' type bird trapped on Bardsey in 2004. The bird is very clearly yellow  on the cheeks where it might be expected to be white and the underparts appear greyish with a yellow tinge. Comments from at least one Irish birder are encouraging. It has been suggested that this might constitute the first record for Wales. 

The Bardsey bird

30 September 2012

Pectoral Sandpipers on Skokholm

The Three Bird Theory

On Saturday 15th September Mark Hipkin and I arrived on Skokholm as part of a Work party, both veterans and determined to spend every possible hour building Heligoland Traps and if humanly possible find a few odd minutes to look for birds.  Before we started we bumped into a Melodious Warbler in the bracken behind the accommodation area, which seemed a good start, even when we noticed the ring. The next day, we came across the first Pectoral Sandpiper of the week, at the north-west corner of North Pond. This was a very rufous, slim and small individual which for now is Pec 1. This individual can be seen in the first three photos below. This bird had apparently been present from 20th August, the first photo was taken around the 8th September and the second and third during the first days of our stay, it was last seen on 17th.

Pec 1  photo: Charlie Sergeant

Pec 1  photo Mark Hipkin

Later on the 16th, it was joined by a second bird, which is Pec 2. This was a clearly larger and paler bird but both we considered to be juveniles. The size difference is explained by the fact that males can be significantly larger than females, so what we have here is a large male and a small female.

Pecs 1&2  photo:  Mark Hipkin

Pec 2  photo: Mark Hipkin

The second bird (Pec 2) was last seen on North Pond on 17th but was relocated on Winter Pond the next day, the 18th, or so we thought! A closer look at all the photos suggested that although the individual on Winter Pond was similar to Pec 2, there were differences in size and plumage, which appeared consistent even taking into account differences in light conditions etc. So here is Pec 3:

Pec 3  photo: Mark Hipkin

This third bird was last seen on 22nd September, the day we left, exhausted after a strenuous week.
 And there you have it: the three bird theory.

Pectoral Sandpiper records in Pembs since 2000

Sprinkle Pill 30th September 2001 (PM)
Skomer September 19th 2003 (DH )
Bosherston 25th - 28th August 2005  (SHL et al)
Llangloffan Fen adult 6th - 7th June  (RD AR)  Dale Airfield juv 10th September 2009 (PKG)
Castlemartin 4th September (PH) 2010
Skokholm 2 on 13th - 14th May 2011  (JGi) 
Skokholm  juv 20th August -17th September 2012  (SJS et al) another juv there  16th - 17th September (MH MYP et al) and a third 18th - 22nd September  (MH MYP et al)

27 September 2012

Long-eared Owl

This superb migrant Long-eared Owl was present at St Davids head for just a day, 27th September 2012.
Long-eared Owls are rare migrants in Pembs, though undoubtedly there is at least one winter roost to be discovered, probably in the St Davids area if history is any guide

. The last roosts discovered were at St Davids and were of 5 in February 1993 and of 7 in January 1997.

In the absence of winter roosting birds, records are not quite annual, a rare bird in Pembs, at present.

Long-eared Owls in Pembs since 2000

Skokholm  21st October 2002  (GT)

Skokholm  9th November 2002  (GT)
Rhodiad, St Davids  8th October 2005  (JB)
Skomer  14th-16th October 2006 (JGB)
Skomer  24th October 2007  (JGB)
Skomer  18th September 2008 (unknown)
Porth Clais  3 on 8th October 2008 (RW)
Marloes Mere  13th December 2008  (SS)
Mab's Gate  1st January 2009  (SS)
Skomer  1st October 2010 (DB)
Freshwater West  11th December 2010 (RD)
St Davids Hd  27th September 2012  (MYP)

08 May 2012

Golden Oriole

There were few migrants on the morning of the eighth of May at St Davids Hd, apart from a trickle of Hirundines, a Swift and  Redpoll (sp) over. Then it all turned around when I flushed a large yellow bird from a gorse bank. Golden Oriole and Green Woodpecker went through my mind almost simultaneously (both equally rare in Pembs). The bird remained in sight as it flew about 50 metres and landed on top of, then dropped into, another gorse and bramble patch. As it perched up I could see a large hairy caterpillar hanging from its bill.

It was clearly a female or 1st Summer male Golden Oriole.

I hung around for an hour and a half or so till someone else arrived, seeing it briefly once more back at the original site. This time it flew into a spindly bush before dropping down into gorse and blackthorn. Again, it was carrying what appeared to be a large caterpillar. I thought I had it well pinned down in a reasonably small area but when people arrived it soon became clear that it had moved on. How it had managed to sneak away I don't know but apparently it isn't unusual for them to be elusive even in limited cover As I walked through the area I noticed a number of large, hairy caterpillars underfoot, it wasn't going to be hungry.

The first flight views were dominated by the lower back and rump which were a very bright lemon yellow.
The flight itself was smooth and swift, quite unlike a woodpecker’s. The overall impression of shape was sleek and aerodynamic, it's something I've noted before. The Mercedes of the bird world.
The overall impression was bright yellow and green. The wings and tail pattern lacking strong dark tones and adding to the sleek and bright appearance.
The wings and upper back mantle were, therefore, contrastingly darker. I could see the head was pale yellowish with a dark angular eyestripe, broad at the eye. The bill shape was obvious, long and strong with an obviously curved culmen adding to a pointed effect. Very striking.

This sighting was part of an influx nationally, there were two other records in Pembs during may. Perhaps the best season ever.

Golden Orioles in Pembs since 2000

Ramsey 13th&16th May 2000  (RH)
Marloes Mere  18th May 2000  (SJS)
Skomer  13th&26th May 2001  (JGB et al)
Skomer  3 from 14th-20th May 2006  (JGB)
Skomer 22nd-25th May 2006  (JGB)
Skomer 24th-26th May 2008  (DB)
Skomer 14th-15th May 2009  (DB)
Bosherston  25th May 2010  (BH)
St Davids Hd  8th May 2012 (MYP)
Martins Haven  11th May 2012  (MJ)
Trefeiddan 26th May 2012 (J&MB)

19 April 2012

Little Bittern

This male Little Bittern was found at the Teifi Marshes (and was later on the Pembrokeshire side) on 19th April 2012 by Sarah Bebb. It can be seen to be a first-summer because wings are still largely juvenile, contrasting with a single newly acquired tertial and adult type head, neck and body plumage.

All records are assessed by the BBRC

Little Bitterns in Pembrokeshire

Merlin's Bridge  date unknown  (Matthews 1894)
'Pembrokeshire coast' October 1899  (Lockley et al 1949)
Shot near Fishguard in about 1916  (Lockley et al 1949)
'taken' near Solva' many years ago'  (Lockley et al 1949)
Broad Haven  found dead 26th April 1964  (KJSD)
Sandy Haven  18th April 1970  (JL et al)
Dowrog  3rd May 1983  (CL, KJSD, GHR)
Whitesands  found dead 12th April 1993  (RH)
Castle Martin  a wing found 2nd April 1995  (GHR et al)
Cilgerran Gorge  6th May 1995  (PED)
Teifi Marshes  19th-20th April 2012   (SBe)

The quality of some of the earlier records suggests a review may be in order.

27 March 2012

Purple Heron

27th March 2012. I set out  from checking Penberi Pool to St Davids Hd. With bright sunlight and light easterlies it was looking promising. As I was driving along I saw a bird from the car as it flew towards me to the west of the minor road near Ivor's Pond (Daffodil Lane). It was clearly a heron but looked a bit dark and Bittern like to the naked eye

I stopped and it was immediately clear it was a Purple Heron and what's more an adult in full summer plumage; it was now quite close and the purple colour on the neck was distinctive as was the chestnut on the thighs and especially the purple on the underwing coverts. Because it was so close, the structural differences were diminished, and it didn’t look especially ‘spidery’ or angular. 

It dropped into cover, nearby, beyond a willow clump. It was damp bramble and grass/sedge – typical of much of Pembs. After half an hour it reappeared and flew to a nearby bank enclosing a pond where it stayed in full view, close to the road, for a couple of minutes. I was able to enjoy the full glory of the colour and snaky, erect neck before it lifted off to Treleddyd Fawr Farm and Holiday Cottages about a qurter of a mile away. Then the more spidery feel compared to Grey heron wa apparent.

Interestingly, it avoided nearby open water each time it landed and appeared to drop down in an area of gardens when last seen. Purple Herons can be secretive birds and I have never had better views here or abroad. There was too much to take in for a precise description but on the ground the long yellow bill and even brighter yellow legs stood out as did the purple and black along the neck, the purple underwing coverts in flight and chestnut on the thighs and at the bend in the wing when standing. A superb bird in full breeding condition.

Purple Herons in Pembs since 2000

Skomer 22nd March 2001  (JGB)

Martletwy  12th April-12th May 2006  (MS)
Orielton  24th-26th April 2006  (CH)
Bosherston  29th April  2006  (DE&EE)
nr Narberth  22nd-27th March 2010  (A Hart)
St Davids 27/3/2012  (MYP)

30 January 2012

Glossy Ibises in 2012

Glossy Ibises are rare birds in Pembs or were until there was an amazing and unprecedented invasion of Glossy Ibises into Pembrokeshire in January 2012, perhaps as a result of drought and resulting poor feeding and breeding conditions in southern Spain.The influx started with two birds together over Neyland Marina on 7th January. Then two flew over Whitesands St Davids on the 13th and there was one at Sageston on 14th. Three were then found at Marloes on 15th , unlike the shy St Davids birds these were very confiding and photogenic. There was apparently some movement between this site and Tacumshin, Ireland but one is still present at Marloes at time of writing (November). The St Davids birds were relocated on 22nd and remained until 1st February. These records were all eclipsed somewhat by an amazing 23 which were in the Carew area from approximately 29th before dropping in number to 14 on 6th February and reducing to four which were last seen on 14th February.  This was, apparently, the second largest flock ever seen in Britain; only eclipsed by a flock of 25 in Carmarthenshire in 2009. There was, apparently, also a single bird in the Walwyns Castle area on 31st January.

The unphotogenic St Davids birds - photo Byron Davies

The showy Marloes birds


And again

Some of the Carew flock - photos Richard Crossen


And again

Glossy Ibises have been considered by BBRC until 2012 but is likely to become a WRP candidate.

Glossy Ibis in Pembrokeshire

Slebech autumn 1834 per Matthews 1894
Tenby 23rd October 1917 (Lockley et al 1949)
The Gann 20th August 1876 (RW)
The Gann & Marloes Mere 15th-16th June 1996 (MC DPD KJSD)  [also Skokholm 19th (GT)]
Neyland Marina 2 on 7th January (AJH)
St Davids 2 from 13th January - 31st January (MYP et al)
Sageston 14th January (unknown)
Marloes Mere 15th January one remaining to November (MH et al)
Carew from approx 29th January to  (RE et al)
Walwyns Castle 31st January (unknown)