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)