GRC Blog

Welcome to the GRC Recorders pages. This blog provides details on all the relevant news of Glamorgan’s scarcer birds, plus all BBRC & WRP decisions that affect us locally. It will also be used to document the status and occurrence of these scarcer species and we welcome contributions from anyone with photographs, artwork or documentation of rarities past, present and future. The GRC also welcomes all seawatching news from around Glamorgan and news of passage migrants in spring & autumn, uncommon birds in our area and unusual behaviour.

All visitors are welcome. You must first register by sending an email to before you can contribute. An invite will be sent to your email address. Blog content will be strictly moderated. Access to pages and downloads are available to everyone. All photographs on this blog remain the property of the originator.
If you would like to use photos, please arrange permission beforehand.

The Glamorgan Rarities Committee, in conjunction with the Glamorgan Bird Club & Gower Wildlife , have agreed to co-operate with the Welsh Ornithological Society in the sharing of bird records & photographs in the interest of keeping accurate records and to promote birdwatching in North, Mid & South Wales.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

GND at Llwyn-on Res.

A couple of photos of the GND at Llwyn-on Res [per GFT]. An excellent inland record for this species.

Lesser Scaup

Re-found by Steve Hinton in Cardiff Bay near Propect Place early afternoon.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Arctic Skua still at Whiteford

 Following on from Barry Stewart's concerns with the identity of the Pomarine Skua at Whiteford from the photos taken of this bird it appears widely agreed that the bird is in fact an Arctic Skua. I watched it today at greater distance paying a bit more attention this time. Confronted with a similar sighting in the future at somewhere like Port Eynon would probably present problems once again. The flight of this bird was difficult to judge with any enlightenment because it was almost always in pursuit when flying. Lots of Gulls were available to attack today but it concentrated on the Black-headed Gulls, although all gulls except GBBG were spooked by this bird. Size comparison to Black-headed Gulls today showed it to be a big Arctic and I would suggest at the higher end of the size range.
I wasn't able to get close enough to take more photos of it today so I've attached a couple more from Christmas Eve. Gull numbers in the area remain high and even though I watched fly off out past the lighthouse today It may well return here at similar tidal conditions for more days to come.

Iceland Gulls in Oxwich Bay

2 Iceland Gulls in were amongst the massed gulls in the bay this morning, a 1st winter bird on the beach towards Nicholaston and this pale 2nd winter type, the latter presumably the sub-adult seen distantly in flight by Chris yesterday.

lesser scaup

Porthcawl seawatch [9-11am]

1 Black Throated Diver sat on sea for 10 mins then d/c [ worth checking Aberavon Beach Mark !] - views close & good enough to discount Also d/c 3 Red Throated Diver, 9 pale bellied Brent Goose [no Brant], 2 Dunlin, 3 Shelduck, 2 Razorbill, 1 Shag & only 6 Kittiwake.

Also 1adwp Med Gull at Sandy Bay car park.


Photo by J. Wilson
The returning drake Lesser Scaup is on west lake at Cosmeston with a Greater Scaup, both in with the regular tufted/pochard flock. The Whooper Swan is also still present. [per JDW]
The Iceland Gull at Oxwich is still present - with another (age unk.). [per BS]
OOC - Turtle Dove at Peterstone Wentloog, near Six Bells Pub & Church with small flock of Collared Doves. [per CJ]

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Great grey shrike.

                                            Seen and photographed by Colin Gittins today in clearfell
                                            south of Afon Argoed at Mynydd Penhydd - SS824 938.

Whooper Swan at Cosmeston

Whooper Swan present at Cosmeston CP. It has a darvic ring, orange with black numerals Y59 [left]. It seems it was ringed in early January 2011 in Worcestershire. It is believed to be of the Icelandic race [when ringed it had an orange head which they get from the iron-rich lakes in Iceland]. The bird was found by Alex Bevan this am.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pomarine Skua still present at Whiteford

I was delighted to find that the Pomarine Skua found by Dai and Rob yesterday was still present this morning during a flying visit. It seems that its preferred targets are the Black-headed Gulls of which there were many feeding in the channel amongst the other Gulls. It showed well between the lighthouse and Berges Island but is very mobile.
I found that it was happy to be approached to about 30m but it does seem to have only one leg and sits down rather than standing on one leg and may be a little wary because of this? There were very good numbers of Gulls in many different feeding flocks around the mouth of the estuary and if their numbers stay high I'm guessing this bird may stick around for a bit? Hope so because it's a real star! Congrats to Dai and Rob on a very nice find!
The upperwing white patch is very striking and should separate this bird from the Gileston Pom found by Steve Hinton on 16th December. Plumage seems duller, more wintry, much paler vent and one leg would suggest this but a lot might have happened between Gileston and Whiteford?

Friday, 23 December 2011

Pomarine Skua at Whiteford

Seen by Rob Colley and Dai Roberts, possibly the Gileston bird? All photos (c) D. Roberts.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Gower News

Black Brant still present at Whiteford Point today (per DCB & OJL)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Great grey shrike, Mynydd margam, SS832 883.

                                            The closest i could get! A very flighty bird. Seen today at 12:30PM.

News 17.12.11

Iceland Gull still at Ogmore. Seen this morning at Portobello but flighty - Jeff Slocombe

Pink-footed Goose again at Neath saltmarsh and 1 Water Pipit

A seawatch from Aberavon 08:45 to 10:30 had a Shearwater sp fly east. Manx or Balearic? Also 4 Teal

Friday, 16 December 2011

News 16.12.11

Adult Pomarine Skua at Gileston also 4 Little Gulls there - Steve Hinton

Great Grey Shrike at Afan Forest Park (SS824938) - Elaine Jones


In BOURC 40th report Oct. 2011
[Concerning Glamorgan VC41]
European Greenfinch is now Chloris chloris and is placed before European Serin.

Category D (Review of certain species)
Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
Near Cardiff, 4th October 1881
Recorded under the name 'Rusty Grackle', this specimen can still be seen in the NMW in Cardiff and was presented by Robert Drane.

Potential ship-assisted Transatlantic vagrants
Northern Mockingbird (Minus polyglottos)
Worm's Head, Gower 24th July - 11th Aug. 1978

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Late Records for Flat Holm

Photo by Sam Whitfield [FHP]
Some interesting records from Flat Holm: June-November
Razorbill 1 on 21st Oct (freshly dead)
Common Swift 9 on 13th Oct, coincided with influx of 60 swallows & 12 house martins that day
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 on 4th Sept. [First Flat Holm record]
Snow Bunting 2 on 20th Nov [First confirmed record for Flat Holm] - see photo above


Widespread declines in birds that spend most of their lives at sea are alarming conservationists. Seven species of seaduck that overwinter in the Baltic – a key wintering site – have dropped in number by up to 65% in 15 years, without any clear explanation.

Declines have also been found around British coasts, with Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser among those hardest hit. In North America the trend continues with several seaduck populations significantly down, among them Black Scoters, White-winged Scoters and Surf Scoters.

These birds just seem to have gone missing,” said Richard Hearn, Head of Species Monitoring at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Chair of the IUCN-SSC/Wetlands International Duck Specialist Group. The scale of the declines in Europe is very surprising and largely unexpected. Most of these species remain relatively numerous but if their numbers continue to fall at these rates, some of these species could soon be in serious trouble.”

A report published in Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea, shows that the number of waterbirds wintering in the Baltic fell overall by 40%, from 7.44 million to 4.41 million. The declines were revealed by two censuses, staged from 1992-3 and 2007-9. Concerns have been reinforced by monitoring elsewhere showing much smaller numbers of seaducks in important British sites such as the Moray Firth and Clyde Estuary, and in the Netherlands.

Note: Of the three British species most effected, only one, Velvet Scoter, is a description species in Glamorgan. However Long-tailed Duck is being monitored by the GRC, and now armed with this new information Red-breasted Merganser will also be added to the GRC monitoring scheme. Both the latter are uncommon winter passage migrants to Glamorgan, with the exception of LTD in 2010, both have been annual in Eastern Glamorgan since 2005.

[Information supplied by M. Hogan in Countryside Jobs Newsletter, notes by GRC]

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Iceland Gull at Portobello Island 13.12.11

 Having dipped on this bird yesterday afternoon it was great to catch up with it today. It was showing from the bridge at Portobello Island around 14:15 to 14:35 bathing with Herring Gulls before flying off down river. Conditions were extremely blustery and light was poor but a few video frames show a bit of the bird.
 A very nice find by Dean and a good call also. This bird seems to be at the larger end of the Iceland size range and I for one would have had a bit of difficulty putting it to species confidently.
Hopefully it will stick around for a while and better conditions where the images of this bird will do it justice!

Monday, 12 December 2011


Iceland Gull (ad W) at Portobello Is., river Ogmore [per DCB]
Seen 13/12 by MHn but mobile.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Great Grey Shrike and Water Pipit

Great Grey Shrike in Garwnant was at SN999140, flighty and last seen flying south.

Water Pipit at Llwyn-on Reservoir slip-way.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Seawatching from Mumbles

8/12/11 Bracelet Bay car park 13:30 to 15:45
1 1stw Little Gull. Also 1 Fulmar and 2 Gannet

9/12/11 Tutt Head 08:00 to 10:00 (MHi and later BS)
4 Great Northern Diver, 11 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Skua and 1stw Little Gull.
Also 6 Common Scoter, 22 Gannet, 16 Turnstone and 1 Purple Sandpiper

Not proven!

I've had 2 instances within the last week concerning birds that, although not particularly rare, would have been very nice records for the time of year or for the area.

The first of these involved a Philloscopus warbler near the Neath river. I saw it briefly giving a side on view and thought it was a Chiffchaff but then clearly giving a rear view where it was quite obvious that the legs were pale over their full length and not just the feet. I immediately thought Willow Warbler and other features seemed to suit this identification. I spent a brief time setting up the camera for very dark conditions to provide the record shot but I never saw the bird well again after that and despite spending quite a bit of time trying to relocate it, once it had been lost to view in dense undergrowth I never saw it again. Given the rarity of this species at this time of year in the end I decided that I couldn't be 100% sure.

The second incident came earlier today and involved a presumed juvenile Sabine's Gull off Mumbles. I initially saw a small gull at distance from Bracelet Bay car park which was silhouetted in bright light. I moved out onto Tutt Head and relocated a bird which was again silhouetted and distant but it was moving towards better light but becoming more distant the whole time. Eventually features showed that were consistent with other juv Sabine's I've seen before, notably the dark primary wedge, a significant white triangle and the remaining parts of the wing and back all looked dark. I couldn't be certain of the dark underwing bar, long tail and dark head at this distance but nevertheless I felt confident of its identity and put news out. Knowing Barry Stewart still needs Sabine's for Glam I called him personally.

Barry arrived 30mins later and during this time I had lost the original bird and relocated another bird which didn't quite look as convincing as the original bird and I was wondering whether the earlier bird had in fact been a different one? This bird was lost again mainly due to the very bad light. BS arrived and we both spent some time trying to relocate the earlier bird. Barry found a 1stw Little Gull flying on a similar line to the earlier bird but a little closer in. This bird was watched for a while and lost. A bit later a gull was found further out and it appeared much closer to the appearance that prompted me to claim the juv Sabine's Gull earlier on. Again the light was bad but the contrast between light and dark patterning of the upper bird features looked very good and flight appeared different to the earlier Little Gull. It looked pretty good for Sabine's but the distance and light meant that a definitive view remained impossible and this bird was lost.

Not long afterwards a 1stw Little Gull passed quite close in and at times showed extensive and striking white triangles on the trailing wing due to the sunlight shining through! The flight it showed during this time also appeared more deliberate and less "tern like."

The conditions surrounding this sighting were hard to work with and despite occasional cloud cover the sunlight remained a problem throughout. The sightings, each time involving a single bird, varied with respect to distance from the observer but the patrolled flight line remained very similar and in this regard does point towards the same bird being seen throughout the morning ie a 1stw Little Gull.

Consideration must be given to the separate birds being involved in any of the sightings. It would be possible to generate a description from my original sighting which due to my confidence at the time and features noted could possibly go on to be accepted as a valid record? However, I won't be submitting this record because enough doubt remains in my mind that there is a possibility my original identification of the earlier bird was misjudged. This could be for good reason or due to introduced doubt following the later sightings of a Little Gull? It is very frustrating to have to backtrack on an earlier claim but the accuracy of the record must be the dominant factor here.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Porthcawl [0900-1200]

Another juv Sabine's Gull passed d/c today at 0908hrs best of the rest included 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Red Throated Diver, 15 Pintail & 1 Common Scoter. [SW(7)]


Monday, 5 December 2011

Seawatching from Shire Combe

08:00 to 10:00 (SS544875)
1 Great Skua flew west.
Other noteworthy stuff included 32 Gannet in a feeding party just off Oxwich point and 14(7m) Common Scoter in Oxwich Bay. Plus a slow and steady passage of Auks and Kittiwake passing, heading west.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

News (4/12/11)

Great White Egret showed very well at Gnoll Country Park this morning but was not present at 11:30 and was not relocated.
(Nick Edwards)

Great Grey Shrike was again at Mynydd Margam. Showing well from "Lone Pine" crossroads (SS814887)
(Paul Tabor)

Seawatching from Mumbles Area

From Tut Head into Swansea Bay
1 Great Northern Diver flew into the bay and 3(1m) Red-breasted Merganser in the bay.

From Bracelet Bay car park
1 Great Skua flew west and also 7(1m) Common Scoter past heading west

From coastal path at Rams Tor
1 Velvet Scoter flew west and 1 Great Northern Diver (probably earlier bird) past going west. Also a Diver sp briefly before heavy rain.

Pink-footed Goose in West Glam

Pink-footed Goose at Neath Abbey saltmarsh
Rob Taylor found a Pink-footed Goose at Fendrod Lake this morning which was with with a group of Canada Geese. At about midday I relocated it at the Neath Abbey saltmarsh. I've watch flocks of Canada Geese come in from the Swansea direction before and wondered where it is that they go to roost. It appears that this Pink-foot has given the game away. Hopefully, now that we know this it will prove to be useful again sometime in the future. Also at the saltmarsh a Common Sandpiper along the river.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Seawatching from Bracelet Bay

Great Northern Diver in Bracelet Bay
Seawatching from the carpark 07:30 to 09:30

1adw Great Northern Diver flew into the bay around first light. It soon drifted out of view around the lighthouse and was quite mobile thereafter. Flying west and east past the bay before coming in very close. Later (11:00) while at Crymlyn Burrows a Great Northern Diver flew from the Mumbles direction and landed in the shipping channel leading to the Neath River was considered to be the same bird.

Otherwise not much of note although a steady stream of 300+ Auks flew out of Swansea Bay heading west. Mainly Razorbills (150+) and a few Guillemots (10). Also noted heading west Common Scoter (6), Gannet (7) and Kittiwake (100+)