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.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Juvenile little stint on eastern shore at Kenfig NNR

Little Stint and Rb Merg at Kenfig

A juvenile Little Stint has been reported from the pool's east shore, at 11:00 this morning, via Birdguides

Also a Red-brested Merganser on the pool, this afternoon (DGC)

Little Gull still at Kenfig

The 1st W Little Gull seen at Kenfig Pool, yesterday, is showing once again over the pool, today. (DGC)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The 2012 Loughor Gull-billed Tern has been accepted. [3rd VC41 Rec.] B. Stewart

The 2012 Cosmeston Kumlien's Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni) has also been accepted and is the first record for this N. American race in East Glamorgan, 2nd VC41 & 3rd Welsh Record. D. Rich
[The First was an adult at Blackpill which returned to the area during the period 1998-2000]

Possible Ortolan Bunting at Baglan Bay

G Lewis has reported a possible Ortolan Bunting, which was seen briefly sat up in a tree before moving deeper into cover, this morning. The bird was in an area along the Wales Coast Path with lots of other birds, including many Reed Buntings. It is in the same general area as the YBW and Lapland Buntings were earlier this month (SS726921). A 30 min wait/search of the area by GL produced no further sign of the bird.

Late News (Ring Ouzel Kenfig Ind Est)

A male Ring Ouzel watched for 5 mins at Kenfig Ind Est, late afternoon yesterday, before fly off towards Kenfig (MHn)

Monday, 28 October 2013


Seawatching this am: [07.00-11.30]
Common Scoter (3), Med Gull (ad W), Great Skua (2), Arctic Skua (3), Manx Shearwater (1), Guillemot (1), Kittiwake (187). [MCP, DRWG]

Cardiff Bay: Drake Lesser Scaup present with 80 Tufted Duck. [AB, MCP & DRWG]

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sabine's Gulls and Snow Bunting

2 Sabine's Gulls past close inshore at Mumbles Head, today. (Clive J)

1 Snow Bunting dropped into Port Talbot Harbour, late morning. The bird landed on grass next to the Long Arm - Please note this site is accessed by permit only (DMC, RJ, GR, PR)

Little Stint at Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay and Ice Rink

Lesser Scaup still and a Little Gull in the bay. Nearby at the Ice Rink (Cardiff Pointe) a Little Stint. (This is the first record for this species in this area since Sept. 1977 and the first record proper for the Bay area.)

No sign of yesterday's Bearded Reedling at Cosmeston CP in difficult conditions.


Porthcawl seawatch

Arctic Skua (5) and Great Skua (1) past this morning (per MCP)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Bearded Tit at Cosmeston

One along the boardwalk, today. (C Hawes)

Great Crested Grebe count Swansea Bay (OCT 13)

Not great conditions for long distance counting but a full count of the (wider) Swansea Bay for Great Crested Grebes was completed, today. Morfa Sands (viewed from Port Talbot Harbour) through to Mumbles Head
1 - Morfa Sands
35 - Port Talbot Harbour
42 - Aberavon Beach
25 - Crymlyn Burrows
0 - Swansea Bay (Swansea Docks to Mumbles Head)
A decent total (103) given the conditions and I expect some smaller numbers were undetected today. The next 3 months should see greater numbers arrive, peaking in December or January.

Lapland Buntings at Baglan Bay

2 Lapland Buntings along with 6 Meadow Pipits were put up by a dog walker along the Wales Coast Path, Baglan Bay (SS727922). Calling and flew west over the trees before being lost to sight at 14:30
A later search of the wider area found decent numbers of Mipits, Sky Larks and a Wheatear but no further sign of the Lapland Buntings
(MHi, RJ)
2 Bonxies d/c this morning at porthcawl

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Lesser Scaup

The Lesser Scaup was in Prospect Place, Cardiff Bay this afternoon with 57 Tufted Duck. The CBWR was taken over by a flock of 205 Canada Geese and a feral white Greylag.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

29 years ago...

...I made my fourth visit to Glamorgan; my first and second visits being Oxwich and Kenfig in 1982 to see Purple Heron and Little Whimbrel and my third visit was earlier in 1984 to see Ring-billed Gull at Blackpill. Our destination this time, on our return journey from Scilly to Sunderland, was Jersey Marine where a Sociable Plover was found the previous day by Richard Harbird in the company of Ian Tew (not DG as stated in Gower Birds Vol.4, No.3). Incredibly, before seeing the bird Ian joked with Richard, "spot the Sociable Plover" as a flock of Lapwing took off - really, what are the chances of that happening!
Anyway, following a night's kip on the verge of what is now the Amazon roundabout, this global rarity duly put in a brief but much appreciated appearance to a rather small assemblage of birders shortly after dawn, then disappeared into the distance and was not seen again as far as I'm aware. One unfortunate and subsequently desperate soul from our group disappeared for a few minutes to grab an ill-timed breakfast snack! Below is my notebook entry along with scanned prints of the photographs taken by Ian the day they found it.
(c) I. Tew
(c) I. Tew
Let's hope 2013 can deliver a bird of this quality before the year is out. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Yellow-legged Gull (?) at Morfa Sands

 An adult Yellow-legged Gull was with a mixed gull flock on Morfa Beach this morning. Quite a small individual, but seemingly of a size within range. All other features show expected Yellow-legged Gull characteristics, although I was surprised by the pinkish wash to the legs. This was more noticeable from certain angles albeit in rather poor lighting conditions. The toes and webs appearing almost fleshy pink at times, however, I have seen a photo of an adult winter Larus michahellis michahellis, also taken in October, from Portugal that suggest this leg colour is also within range. Any further comments on this gull will be welcomed.
Offshore from the Port Talbot breakwater some nice stuff passed before the rain came:- Dark-bellied Brent Goose (2 ->w), Wigeon (19 ->e), Gannet (7), Red-throated Diver (1 ->e) & Merlin (1f ->e). On the sea Common Scoter (5), Great Crested Grebe (30), Guillemot (6+) and some mobile feeding gull flocks that included Mediterranean Gull (7) & Little Gull (1 Ad W). A gull roost inside the Harbour contained a noteworthy 24 Mediterranean Gulls.
(MHi, RJ)


Velvet scoter u/c at 8.15 + 76 turnstone just below irongate ( 29 + 47)

Friday, 18 October 2013

Firecrest at Dunraven

A Firecrest was seen in scrub near the walled garden, this morning. (NPR)

Velvet Scoter remain in Baglan Bay.

Small flock of Great Crested Grebes
The 2 Velvet Scoters were showing distantly from Baglan Dunes. Offshore from Aberavon Beach at the Neath River shipping channel end.

Also Common Scoter ((10)(8)(2)) on the sea, Great Crested Grebe (42), Guillemot & Auk sp (30+) and Swallow (4 heading east)

The Great Crested Grebe numbers are starting to build in the bay. Swansea Bay qualifies as being Nationally Important to Great Crested Grebes and the numbers that occur between Port Talbot Docks and Swansea Docks make a significant contribution to the overall total. The timing of their arrival is thought to co-incide with seasonal influx of herring, sprats and other fish species that shoal and travel up the Bristol Channel from November through to January. Outside of this period in the winter months the Grebe numbers can be fairly low, sometimes surprisingly so. When the fish are present Great Crested Grebe numbers sail past the 1% threshold (190) and have occurred at more than twice that amount. This year I'm hoping to organise a count, using recorders positioned across the bay, which should help us understand the numbers involved more accurately. I have a feeling the there may be many more than has been previously estimated and documented, however, numbers do fluctuate seasonally. We wait and see..

Great Northern Diver off Mumbles Pier (17/10/13)

An adult Great Norther Diver still showing some traces of sp. was showing c300m off Mumbles Pier, yesterday afternoon. Also 3 Red-breasted Mergansers in Swansea Bay. (OGa)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Leser Scaup still at CBWR

The drake Lesser Scaup remains at Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. Showing this afternoon (AGS)

Late News (15/10/13): Bittern & Snow Bunting

A Snow Bunting was seen between the car park and coastal path at Ogmore, yesterday. A flighty bird seen in the morning, but despite searching was not seen again from the wider area in the afternoon. (MP)

A Bittern was seen at Kenfig Pool, yesterday. The bird showed on several occasions over the course of several hours from the Southern Hide (KNNR)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Velvet Scoter still in Baglan Bay.

 The 2 Velvet Scoters were again seen this afternoon in Baglan Bay. They kept distant and were not flying around at all that I saw today. However, they do seem to prefer being near to the shipping channel leading from the River Neath, so worth looking out for them there.
There were 53 Guillemots spread out on the sea and feeding offshore from Aberavon Beach, on the falling tide today. This eclipses my previous high from this location, taken last year, with 41 on 14 November.
Photo taken 12/10/13
Also in the bay this afternoon: Common Scoter (20), Great Crested Grebe (21) with a Red-throated Diver flying west. 45 Lapwings were inside the BP Baglan fence and a minimum of 32 Reed Buntings were put up from Baglan Dunes

Long-billed Dowitcher has moved on...

The juv Long-billed Dowitcher appears to have moved on, having been searched for since first light this morning till at least 10:00am, with no sign. (RM)
A hopeful visit to Brunel Dock on the incoming tide, this afternoon, found it not there either. Little Egret (1), Redshank (43), Dunlin (18) and Kingfisher (1) were.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Rhaslas Long-billed Dowitcher

Still present this morning and apparently feeding well at the south west corner of the pool.

Hobby at Crymlyn Burrows

A juvenile Hobby was at Crymlyn Burrows, late morning, before flying off towards Crymlyn Bog. 6 Swallows past heading east. Otherwise my first Red-throated Diver on the sea this winter period and Great Crested Grebes now up to 14 (4 off AB & 10 off CB). Wigeon (2) and Common Scoter (5) also in the bay.


LBD still at Rhaslas this am. [AMe, PM]

Report of a Velvet Scoter with a small group Common Scoter off RGW at 3pm [CE]

A report of a 2nd W Caspian Gull at Blackpill midday by visiting birder, no sign despite searching by mid afternoon. [GRC]

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Long-billed Dowitcher is still present at Rhaslas Pond. Reported throughout the day by many observers.

1 Yellow-browed Warbler was found mid-afternoon. At the top end of the valley near Longhole Cliff  (SS 4544 8523) Also a Hobby briefly near Overton (O. Gabb)

2 Adult Whooper Swans were on Fendrod Lake, this morning at 08:10 (RHAT)

Drake Lesser Scaup again seen at Cardiff Bay Wetlands, late afternoon. (JDW)

Velvet Scoters in Baglan Bay

A couple of Velvet Scoters flew into Baglan Bay, early afternoon. They flew to various different locations between Port Talbot Docks and Swansea Docks, presumably looking for a decent feeding area. Both Gary Lewis and myself were watching them for a while before they landed just offshore from Crymlyn Burrows. Having gone down to the shore to get a closer look at them we found that they'd been joined by an immature Pintail. One of the Velvet Scoter is an immature bird, but the other, which appeared almost jet black, I found harder to categorise its stage. The lack of any yellow in the bill and bill shape perhaps suggesting this bird is a very dark adult female.
In Neath Port Talbot the record of Pintail is rarer, for me, than Velvet Scoter. This bird being my 4th since 2010 including a pair at the Kenfig Saltmarsh earlier this year. Other fowl in the bay included Wigeon (3), Teal (5), Common Scoter (4) and a female Red-breasted Merganser flew east. Also 10 great Crested Grebes, today. Yesterday, Teal (8), Common Scoter (25) and Great Crested Grebe (11)
Probably the most notable and definitely the most enjoyable sighting came late morning when a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier was found flying low over the sea midpoint between Mumbles and Port Talbot Docks. From there I was amazed to watch it follow a line towards the Neath River before coming onto Crymlyn Burrows near the point and heading off towards Crymlyn Bog. The best video stills show a rather hooded individual with a large white rump, but the cold ground colour of the underbody seems to rule out suggestions of an epic sea journey!
weighted Velvet Scoter distribution
(NB. Other than 13 of Rhossili on 03-04-96, all records are of 10 or less individuals)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Long-billed Dowitcher @ Rhaslas Pond

Long-billed Dowitcher still at Rhaslas Pond

Juvenile still present today for it's 3rd day with Paul Bowden amongst those who have made the trip to see it. Paul saw it mid-afternoon and it is reported still present early evening per Birdguides.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Baglan Dunes

 Darren C, Rob J and I were fortunate enough to watch this little beauty at close range, earlier today. When Darren described a brief view of a small Phyllosc with a bold supercillium it certainly seemed worth waiting around to check it out. About 10mins later it presented itself to us before, somewhat frustratingly, disappearing into the deeper wood. Some 40mins later it reappeared, announcing its arrival with a number of distinctive calls.
 The bird was associating itself loosely with a Tit flock but seemed fairly loyal to the area shown below. This isolated wood has always looked great to produce something so it's good now to chalk up this prize find. As far as I'm aware this will be the first YBW for the Baglan side of this dune system complex. Well done to Darren and thanks also Darren & Rob for staying patient with me and helping keep an eye on the bird while I was getting a few record shots.
The bird was still present & calling when we left it at 14:00. The area above (SS 7259 9206) is next to the Wales Coastal Path and best accessed from Brunel Dock near The Quays

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Long billed dowitcher at Rhaslas pond, a couple more.

Long-billed Dowitcher at Rhaslas Pond #1

A Long-billed Dowitcher at Rhaslas Pond this morning (MTH)
per comms GFT via JS

Long-billed Dowitcher still present at 11:40 snoozing at north west corner. Pool hidden by mist and drizzle at the moment so should stay until it clears or dusk. (MTH)

Aberavon Beach (7/10/13)

A few gathering gulls at the rivermouth, yesterday evening, saw this Herring Gull type stick out from the crowd. A few shades darker than our Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus argenteus), but otherwise quite similar. Shape, leg colour and bill size seems to rule out Yellow-legged Gull and suggest possibly "northern" Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus), which show a darker shade of grey on the upper parts and also less black in the wingtips. This bird is still growing it's outer primaries making the task of studying the wingtip pattern hard, add to this video-grab record shots in poor light and it becomes harder still.
The inner-web of P9 shows a lot of white along its length which is consistent of northern Herring Gulls that show less black in the wing. This feature would also be expected to be seen on a fully grown P10. However, the pattern, especially the tip of P9, is a little unexpected and therefore the possibility of a hybrid gull of some sort can't be ruled out, from these shots. The size of this bird, while looking fairly stocky at times, was not noticeably bigger than other Herring Gulls present nearby, whereas northern Herring  Gulls can often appear bigger by comparison.
Lots of activity around the bay; less usual stuff being a pair of Wigeon flying upriver and 27 Golden Plovers showing some intent on coming in to land along the shore before making a couple of circuits of the bay and heading off towards Mumbles. Also more Auk sp offshore today with 4 on the sea at distance.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Fall of Blackcaps at Crymlyn Burrows

Today, during a 5 mile circular walk of Crymlyn Burrows, starting off at Ferry Boat Wood, I was amazed by the number of Blackcaps on show. 58 in total including a minimum of 18 in one bramble patch. In fact, where there was one Blackcap there were usually many more, with more than 10 grouped together at 3 separate locations. The distance between the blackcap hotspots suggested to me that no double counting was at play here. Chiffchaffs were also in good numbers, but not quite as impressive as the Blackcaps and they tended to be more spread out along the walk.
Notable tallies from the walk: Wheatear (8), Blackcap (58), Whitethroat (7), Chiffchaff (37) & Goldcrest (1)


A report of a RB Fly at Kenfig NNR this am, seen by DCP. No further reports.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Baglan Bay

Common Scoter (4), Great Crested Grebe (1), Oystercatcher (1161), Bar-tailed Godwit (24) & 6 Sandwich Terns feeding in the bay and later joining the HT roost on Aberavon Beach.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Small Dunlin at Crymlyn Burrows

 Every now and again I get a distant sighting of a bird at Crymlyn Burrows that I think is going to be a Peep. Today's Red Herring was the best one yet. Scanning the small wader flock, at this site, from distance has it's advantages in that the birds are normally easier/quicker to check for something unusual, and also much easier to take site counts. I digress. Anyway, this bird, feeding actively amongst the small wader flock, jumped out and slapped me in the face! Small! It was noticeably smaller than an average sized Dunlin! Other things like lack of tramlines and lacking a split supercillium seemed to add hope. Things like a heavily streaked chest, not much of a supercillium at all and a buff colour near the throat only added confusion.
On closing the distance to the bird I was unable to get past Dunlin and on it's own, with no other bird in the scope view, it was very good for Dunlin, only when it was alongside other Dunlins did the pulse quicken.
Looking at the lengths given for Dunlin in the Collins it shows 17cm to 21cm; an impressive range for such a small wader. I suspect this bird was even smaller still than 17cm.
Hopefully, one day, when I close the distance it won't be a Dunlin....

Common Scoter (4), Oystercatcher (570), (Ringed Plover (237), Sanderling (368), Dunlin (68), Bar-tailed Godwit (15), Curlew (12), Great Black-backed Gull (23) and an Auk sp

Loughor Bridge

This Great White Egret, watched feeding just south of the bridge, is so much more confiding than last year's birds which makes me suspect it may be a different individual. Click HERE for video.