22 May 2013

Spring Slavonian Grebe at Newport

Not St Davids Head for a change (deadly quiet this morning) but a quick twitch up the road to Trefdraeth for the Slavonian Grebe reported in the channel near the Yacht Club. I was actually amazed to find it so easily and it being so confiding. I sent a message to Steve Berry to get along to see it as he was working nearby and he heard it calling too. A check for previous Spring records ends this post and some of the photos I took are below:



Slavonian Grebes are normally scarce winter visitors to Pembrokeshire; mainly in coastal waters, there are few inland reports. There have only been two non-winter records previously: in 1986 two lingered at The Gann until May 10th and attained Summer Plumage, in 1974 a bird was on The Pembroke River on July 30th. This individual at Newport is a very unusual as well as very beautiful bird.

07 May 2013

Yellow Wagtail races in Pembrokeshire

Llanferran Pool at St Davids is a shallow scrape I check out daily, always hoping an interesting wader will turn up - it hasn't yet but four or five Garganeys were a good find for someone while I was away in Spain in early April. On May 7th though, a really handsome male Blue-headed Wagtail was feeding around the Pool and I managed a few record shots, before it flew off to the south.

This individual was the fourth record for this Spring, and amazingly these are the first spring records since 2000 - there have only been 4 autumn records in addition, since 2000. There were no records of the other races this century until the superb male Black-headed Wagtail found by a visitor to the County at Marloes Mere on 12th May 2013.

Since initially completing this post, amazingly (in cold westerlies) a second Black-headed Wagtail has been found in Pembs, by a visiting birder at Marloes Mere. It was a stunning, bright male, the 19th for Britain and Pembs' second. Kathy and I heard it call as it flew a short distance, giving a rolling 'zrrreep' call, quite unlike flavissima. The Spring of 2013 is becoming a magic one for Yellow Wags. A few of record shots here:
Black-headed Wagtail
 Marloes Mere 12th May 2013

The Bigger Picture in Pembs

Our British version of the Yellow Wagtail complex, 'M.f. flavissima' is a pretty uncommon passage bird in Pembs, 10 together, in autumn, is about as good as it gets and some years are pretty barren. It seems that until the mid 1990's, Blue-headed Wagtail 'M.f. flava' was much more regular than it has become. The other regular visitor to Britain, Grey -headed Wagtail 'M.f. thunbergi' has been recorded 9 times, with the last at Flimstone on 30th May 1986.

Of the races, considered genuine rarities, a Spanish Yellow Wagtail 'M.f.iberiae' was reported on Skokholm 19th April 1989 but this race is, as yet, not on the British list so I guess it doesn't count. The genuine records are:

Ashy-headed Wagtail 'M.f. cinereocapilla' Skokholm 17th-20th May 1992 
Black-headed Wagtail 'M.f. feldegg' Skomer 7th May 1986
Black-headed Wagtail 'M.f. feldeg' Marloes Mere 12th-13th May 2013.

Records of Blue-headed Wagtail in Pembs since 2000

Skomer and The Deer Park 29th April 2000
Skokholm 4th September and 2 Skokholm 24th September 2000
Skokholm 9th-12th September 2003
St Anne's Hd 19th April 2013 (SS)
Marloes Mere 21st April (DA) and Marloes Mere 30th April 2013 (DG,BS)
Llanferran Pool St Davids 7th May 2013 (MYP)