Saturday, 25 October 2014


A sizeable but strung-out gull roost this evening, with concentration of birds preening on Stumps and the rest stretching up beyond the bird hide. 2 adult Yellow-legs and 3 Mediterranean (2 1st-winter, 1 2nd-winter).

White Magpie

On 22 Oct I was driving from Fishguard to Newport. Just East of Fishguard, at SM 965 373, I saw a pure white magpie working its way along the hedge before disappearing over it. Wdigbirder tells me he saw what must be the same bird in just about the same place either earlier this year or last year. It is such a striking bird that it cannot have been in the area, well watched as it is, without being seen in the interim. One wonders where it has been and whether it will stay around for a while this time?

Med Gulls Galore!

37 at the Gann around 4:30pm, approx one third of which were 1st Winters - 3 of the adults were wearing red darvic jewellery.

Friday, 24 October 2014


The Wryneck is still here and records of Whinchat and House Martin are very close to the latest dates recorded here.

Bosherston village

A small group of Swallows and a Sand Martin this morning, possibly my latest ever in the UK.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Ian Spence (Secretary of the Welsh Ornithological Society) has just been in touch with me, and it is with considerable sadness that I have to report that Derek Moore died today. He had been ill for some while. His humour, his wit, simple enthusiasm for birds and just good company will be sorely missed by us all.  

Derek Moore

I've just heard from Wendell Thomas that sadly Derek Moore passed away this morning. Committed conservationist, entertaining speaker at our annual conferences, enthusiastic bird man and boon companion in the field, he will be sorely missed. Deepest feelings must go to Beryl at this traumatic time.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

St David's Head this afternoon

We spent a few hours observing feeding and flying seabirds off St David's Head from 12:30 to 15:30hrs. Clearly nothing like the numbers of birds noted off Ramsey yesterday, but small numbers of gannets were feeding, as usual, close to several resident porpoises. There was quite a steady southerly movement of auks - c. 500-600 during the period, with regular flocks up to 30-40 at a time passing through.

Other species heading south included c. 30 common scoters (max flock size noted was 15), small numbers of kittiwakes, a few Manx shearwaters and a couple of bonxies.  


Wryneck, Firecrest, Snow Bunting, Great Northern Diver and third highest ever Mediterranean Gull count today.


A ring-tail hen harrier late this afternoon was the first of the autumn. A quick seawatch first thing didn't produce anything of note but auks and kittiwakes still moving through in good numbers. 20 redwing were new in and there was an impressive movement of skyarks (207 west in 30 mins) and starlings (250 heading west but many stopped when they reached the coast and doubled back to settle on the island). House sparrows paid a visit again this morning with 15 around the house, along with 2 blackcaps and a long staying chiffchaff. Also not note - snipe, merlin, wood pigeon (2), reed bunting (3) and 27 goldfinch


A pair of Dippers have, for the first time, settled on the river Alun at St. Davids. They can be seen most days from the wooden bridge by the Bishops Palace in the company of a couple of Grey Wagtails.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Big Skua day at Strumble

The wind certainly delivered the birds at Strumble today.
The morning totals included 19 Pomarine, 28 Arctic and 6 Long tailed Skuas, 51 Bonxies, a Sooty Shearwater, 3 Leach's Petrels, 3 Grey Phalarope
A Snow Bunting was on the road between the cattle grid and lookout for the second day.

See Strumble Head Seawatching blog for details and updates for the rest of the day

Ramsey - seawatching

'Perfect' seawatching forecasts for this neck of the woods have been few and far between this autumn so today saw us take a day off (sort of!) and head to the seawatching hide! We weren't disappointed. Between us we covered from 07:30-16:00 in shifts. Totals were:

Leach's petrel - 1 (first since 2011)
Sabine's gull - 1 (first of year)
Sooty shearwater - 1 (first of year)
Grey phalarope - 2
Arctic skua - 30 (14 DP, 16 LP) - a day record
Bonxie - 28 (a day record)
Pomarine skua - 7 (3 LP 4 Juv) - a day record
Manx shearwater - 58
Fulmar - 2
Med gull - 4 (all ad winter)
Common gull - 4
Common Scoter - 6 (all males)
Arctic tern - 1
GN Diver -1
Dunlin - 10
Wigeon - 5
Very impressive passage of auks (mainly razorbills) peaking at 1200/hr, gannet peaking at 700/hr and kittiwakes peaking at 984/hr - many thousands of each passed by through the day

Monday, 20 October 2014

Wetland sites around the Cleddau

Late morning & all afternoon out guiding, centred around the Cleddau complex with the brief being waders & wildfowl.  Sites visited included Cosheston Pill, Pembroke Mill Ponds, Pembroke River (Bentlass), Angle Bay, Lawrenny & Landshipping Quay.  Lots of nice birds, probably the best site of all was the Pembroke River, in particular the thousands of Wigeon here - if you've not been, go (I suggest on a rising tide, not too high).  Also here at least 98 Black-tailed Godwit (none at Pembroke Upper Mill Pond so reasonable to assume the same birds Bob & Annie mentioned), and at least 5 Pintail, and an adult Gannet fishing.  Lovely to see 9 pale-bellied Brent Geese at Angle Bay (Kilpaison).

Sunday, 19 October 2014


From Mike Mealing  - Iam a regular (twice yearly) visitor to the Parrog and walk the path from there to the bridge at Newport.  Sightings this last week: 6 turnstones by Cwm; kingfisher, greenshanks, curlews, canada geese, two male? goosanders off the small island above the bridge, 13 dabchicks, 3 herons, 3 little egrets, and two sandpipers - all just below or just above the bridge; two goldcrests amongst a small flock of tits in the trees on the path, and a male sparrow hawk buzzed us on the path.  Starlings beginning to flock - though more of a whisper than a murmuration, but still thrilling to watch.


Snow Bunting, Little Stint, three Purple Sandpiper, a Short-eared Owl and two Balearic Shearwater the pick of the day's birds. Totals on the blog.

Glaucous Gull - Gann

After an equally fruitless look around Dale and the Airfield (just 3 Snipe). Last light at the Gann revealed a distant juv Glaucous Gull settling in with the gull roost, also a summer plumage Great Northern Diver. 2 Common Gulls. 5 Med Gulls (3 Adults, 1 Second-winter and a First-winter). The Little Egret bearing the rings was present (as Daves previous sighting, black P on yellow and white H on red).

Great White Egret - Angle

One reported today from Angle Bay with 6 Little Egrets (Mike Johnson).

Highlights from my belated WeBS count this morning at Hook included 3 Pintail, 11 Greenshank, 433 Golden Plover, 92 Redshank, 45 Lapwing, 47 Greylag Geese, 267 Teal and 59 Wigeon.

A kick around Dale this afternoon looking for migrants in the sheltered spots of the village was fairly fruitless, highlights included a Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Mistle Thrush.  Marloes Mere was also fairly quiet, a scattering of Mallard, Shoveler, Teal & Wigeon plus large numbers of (mainly) Herring Gulls dropping in to bathe, plus a single snipe.


Still the Goosander & 2 Greenshanks at the bridge with 2 Little Egrets & a Kingfisher around. The Barwits seem to be down to one.
500 Canadas with a Greylag & a Bar Head.
The plentiful gulls included 3 Meds & several ringed Great Black Backs. Of the 2 I could read  one seems to be from Norway & the other is definitely from Skokholm.

Freshwater West

A family walk along a bracing, windswept, Freshwater West beach yesterday was made "interesting" if a little sad with many large washed up large jelly fish,  3 (quite old) seal pup carcases high up on the back of the beach and this dead juvenile Gannet. As you can see it was well tangled up in fishing gear and it had deep cuts on both legs where the rope had dug in. Whether it had struggled into the sea from Grassholm with the rope tangled around it or become tangled once at sea is impossible to tell. Such a shame that the fantastic amount of effort put in by it's parents should come to such an early (avoidable) end. No doubt this is just one of dozens of Gannet carcases around our coast line.

See the Ramsey blog here for an article on Grassholm Gannets and fishing gear which will also feature in the forthcoming Autumn Watch on the BBC at the end of the month