05 November 2015

Four days in Pembrokeshire between September 21st - 25th

We had five days between returning from Fair Isle and setting off for St Agnes and we were visiting our daughter in London for one day. So just four days out on the head but quite a good time was had by all - well me. A couple of good birds made quite an exciting interlude. The first was a Barred Warbler on the 24th September, the second found and the fourth seen this autumn but a big difference when its on your own patch. It was attended by some Stonechats who didn't much like this exotic beast on their turf. They did, however, draw my attention to it and I enjoyed good views before it disappeared into the bracken and scrub at the crosstracks in Porthmelgan Valley. A Pembs tick for me and one of very few seen on the Mainland.

The second good bird was a day or two earlier - again in Porthmelgan Valley - a juvenile Pallid Harrier. The second of the autumn following the Fair Isle bird but it was a bit frustrating and I don't know I can prove it was one (as opposed to Monty's - highly unlikely given the date and the other Pallid records this autumn) but there we are, that's patch birding for you. I've copied the following two posts from the Pembs Blog for that day.

I'm sure Mike Y-P will post more later but thanks to him (via Rich on Skok!) for tipping us off about the probable pallid harrier that was seen heading towards Ramsey from St D's Head. We fanned out and after an hours searching Lisa had brief and distant views of a narrow winged ring tail harrier that showed extensive rufous / orange colouring. From what she saw she could narrow it down to Pallid / Monty's but that's all - it surely was the same bird Mike had seen but it was frustrating not to get more on it. We searched for rest of day but it was not to be seen - will have another look now as it is getting dusk

Just back from Fair Isle where I'd been watching a juv Pallid Harrier with Hen Harriers all week and what suddenly appears in Porthmelgan Valley? Yep a juv lightweight Harrier with unstreaked orange underparts and dark secondaries. I suspect it had missed prey and so was circling up from the valley floor. It was clearly slim-winged, particularly the 'hand' and there was no doubt it was either a Pallid or Monty's but the head pattern wasn't clear to see as it rose against the sky and drifted towards me, awkwardly backlit. I had found the head pattern on the Fair Isle bird could be easy or difficult to make out depending on the light etc and so it didn't mean much. I tried to concentrate on the inner primary tips and could not make out any significant dark areas, sufficient to form a 'border' but don't know how difficult this is to make out on Monty's, not having had recent experience of a juv. There didn't appear to be all-dark tips to the primaries so I think Pallid has to be favourite and a bit more time or a couple of photos would have given the evidence but I had left my camera in the car since the forecast was for heavy rain at times. The bird flew off towards Whitesands/Ramsey Sound and I was able to get a message, via Rich B, to Greg and Lisa on Ramsey. Hopefully, since it has appeared on the island, it may just hang around and get nailed.
Posted by Mike Y-P at 8:02p.m.

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