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.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Whooper Swan at Penclawdd

An unseasonal adult Whooper Swan was preening and resting on the saltmarsh at Penclawdd on the morning tide (possibly fresh in?) and an adult Yellow-legged Gull at Pwll-y-froga. 2 Arctic Skuas were loitering off the point during a 45 minute seawatch at Port Eynon before the rain set in.
quality hand-held camera-scoping!

Skua trio from NPT

Three species of Skua in a single day from Neath Port Talbot made today a special one. It may well be the first time it's been recorded from this area

First up a Bonxie (08:25) with a pale Pomarine Skua with spoons not far behind (08:30), both flew west into Swansea Bay. Later a single dark Arctic Skua past east (09:30)). A Herring Gull was singled out for attention by a pale Pomarine Skua and pursued with intent for  a short period before giving up and going to rest on the sea 09:50 and a distant Bonxie was picked up heading west at (10:00). An intermediate Arctic, showing a slightly paler than dark belly, was joined by a pale Arctic and they gave chase to a couple of Kittiwakes off the breakwater for a few minutes (10:50). it was a longer wait for the final sighting of a dark Arctic Skua that past heading west at 12:55

2 Pomarine Skua (both pale; 08:30 & 09:50)
2 Great skua (08:25 & 10:00)
4 Arctic Skua (pale 10:50) (intermediate 10:50) (dark 09:30 & 12:55)

Also Shelduck (2), Common Scoter (21), Gannet (1), Fulmar (7), Manx Shearwater (6), Dunlin (34), Sanderling (9), Kittiwake (c30), Sandwich Tern (3), Commic Tern (9), Guillemot (5), Swift (4) and Swallow (c40)

(MHi, RJ)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Woodchat and Waders

The male Woodchat Shrike showed well at the Kefig Saltmarsh this morning 09:30 till after 11:00 when a number of us left it. I think that the location that this bird seems to favour is not well described by Morfa Tip as was originally reported by me. By all accounts, and including today's show by the bird, the salt marsh and haul road leading back towards the steelworks would be more appropriate. Public access on the West Glam side is still unclear but many long established paths are in use in the area. Problems can occur when entering into areas where heavy machinery is operating, this should be avoided. However, I see no reason why choosing an elevated position near to the new footbridge overlooking the area but away from heavy plant operations should cause any problems.
It's a cracking bird and I enjoyed watching it consume a number of bumble bees one of which looked like the Tree Carder Bee (B. hypnorum). Luckily they're quite common now. Good company too, today. (RJ, MOx, DP, GP, JR, SRH, DL, AMe, NS et al)

On to Crymlyn Burrows for the evening's high tide roost, which is usually good on 'big tides' when good numbers of the smaller waders seem to gather here.
8 Whimbrel, 249 Ringed Plover, 173 Dunlin and 54 sanderling. No other wader species was also quite interesting I thought.


Woodchat Shrike still on Morfa Tip, west of Kenfig saltmarsh.

Marsh Harrier [fem] over Green Lane, Wentloog Cardiff/Newport border at 15.00hrs heading east [Newport UA] seen to go down into reeds c1.5km from lane near railway bridge (nr. Port 'o' Call pub) at Broadway Reen.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Late news today

Three [yes three] Long-tailed Skuas were reported on the GBC sightings for today at 17:56 - 18:09, just offshore at Kenfig, being carried eastwards by the strong winds.

Also Lavernock Point 24/05/2013
Long-tailed Skua [1]
Sabine's Gull [1, imm]


Woodchat still present at 06.40 this am by river east of bridge [per DGC]

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Woodchat Shrike : Kenfig Rivermouth

Distant record shot of a very elusive bird,showed for about 20secs at 19.10 for myself and Peter Morgan,our only sighting in a 2.5 hour stay.
Bird was in low scrub and gorse just east of the new footbridge on the West Glam side of the river.
Also seen briefly earlier by MHn,PP and PT who were there when we arrived.

Woodchat at Margam Tip

Phone-scope shots taken today by Rob Jones; a new bird for Neath Port Talbot as far as I'm aware.
post-1999 records shown by larger tetrad markers

Woodchat Shrike

The Woodchat Shrike is on Morfa Tip (west of Kenfig saltmarsh) amongst gorse. Please note that this area is not public access. Evenings are best when working staff have finished. [per RJ]
Update: Shrike near bridge across reedbed, but mobile 14.30hrs. West Glam side only [per GR]

Purple Heron still present at Kenfig saltmarsh this am.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Black Redstart in West Glam

(c) R. Jones
Rob J, Gwyn R and I found this female Black Redstart at an undisclosed site, today. We were able to watch it for about 15mins and it came close enough to get some decent record shots. During our time watching it we did not see a male bird or notice any signs of agitated behaviour but it will be worth keeping an eye on this area over the coming weeks.
(c) M. Hipkin
The bird showed very well at times down to about 25m and both Rob and I were able to take some photos. I concentrated on using my DSLR and Rob used the trusty iPhone and scope combo. I am absolutely amazed at how well one of Rob's shot came out and this only goes to show that 'phone-scoping' can produce decent results, and in this case very good!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Wader Passage at Rhaslas

Wader passage this morning at Rhaslas. This threatened site just seems to get better. Photos by Mike Hogan
[For those who don't know Rhaslas is in the very north-east of the county, as shown by the uppermost dot, and is about as far from the coast as you can get in vc41. There is just one other record of a single Turnstone on the database, so a flock of 20 is quite exceptional. As for Dunlin, again this is the largest flock on the system for the site.]

Monday, 13 May 2013


Little Tern still in Cardiff Bay this pm. In front of yachts at CBWR, viewable from Prospect Place (Ice rink carpark).
weighted distribution of Little Tern in Glamorgan

Saturday, 11 May 2013

More seawatching

Lavernock 17:00 to 19:00 (AGS)

3 Great Skua

Port Tolbot Docks 11:30 to 16:00 (MHi, RJ)

2 (pm) Arctic Skuas past west at 15:10, otherwise not a great deal of close by movement which contributed to 6 sightings of unidentified skuas at distance, either coming in with the wind or just lost sat on the sea. A Gannet sat on the exposed sand inside the harbour, following a heavy downpour, seems worthy of a mention. As does the fact that the Arctic Skuas were found during "just one last scan', which of course then turned into staying on for 45 more minutes!

Common Scoter (4), Manx Shearwater (3), Fulmar (4), Gannet (1), Whimbrel (6), Arctic Skua (2 pale morph), Kittiwake (11) and Arctic Tern (1)
weighted distribution of Arctic Tern in Glamorgan
weighted distribution of Common Tern in Glamorgan

Seawatching news

At RGW this evening:
Arctic Skua [both light phase] 2 >DC
Bonxie 1 >DC
Gannet 3 <UC & 3 >DC [different birds]
Grey Plover 3 >DC
Dunlin 20
Sanderling 3
Whimbrel 27
Swift 2 in off the sea.

LEO at Summerhouse Point

Photos of a Long-eared Owl that flew into a window at Summerhouse Point on 28th March. It recovered and was released later. Thanks to Chris Hamilton & Louise Bebb, and to SEWBReC for sending the photos to the GRC.


Little Tern in Cardiff Bay [per PB]

Good skua passage noted in upper Bristol Channel this am, with a Long-tailed Skua off Goldcliff [VC35] and skuas noted from Severnside.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Pomarine Skuas again from PT Docks

Dark morph Arctic Skua
Seawatching 07:50 to 11:00 (MHi & later RJ)

5 (all pm) Pomarine Skuas and 3 (2 dm + 1 pm) Arctic Skuas were the highlights
Pale morph Pomarine Skuas
Following yesterday's rather nice gathering of skuas I was keen to see if any had stopped overnight or whether more might pass today. A slow start eventually got going at 08:30 with a dm Arctic Skua heading purposely towards Mumbles. Another half hour before 3+ Pomarine Skuas appeared from nowhere (presumed to be on the sea earlier) and did a relaxed circuit between the harbour and offshore from Kenfig river at 09:10. Following this at least 4 Pomarine Skuas were watched flying short distances and settling on the sea in this same general area. The wind dropped off markedly at about 09:40 and about 10 mins later 3 Poms headed out towards Mumbles with much more intent than their earlier flights had demonstrated. Later still at about 10:25, 2 Pomarine Skuas passed close by and were followed, almost immediately afterwards by 2 (dm+pm) Arctic Skuas passing even closer by. We were confident that there was no double counting at play here, indeed there may have been more than 5 Pomarine Skuas involved.

It makes sense that springtime passage should produce good skua days in South Wales, with the skuas heading back north in good numbers, and especially with winds blowing into our bays and channels. There is the added bonus also, that many of them own full streamers at this time, which make the id process a little easier.

NOTE Port Talbot Docks is access by permit only, however I don't doubt that regular seawatching haunts either side of this location would have experience at least the same rewards today, and probably better?

Aythya sp. (1), Great Crested Grebe (3), Fulmar (4), Gannet (2), Pomarine Skua (5), Arctic Skua (3), Sandwich Tern (4), Whimbrel (4), Grey Plover (2) and Dunlin (7)

Pomarine Skua video

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Glamorgan seawatching

Porthcawl 06:00 to 09:30

1 Arctic Skua. Also Common Scoter (15), Gannet (76), Manx Shearwater (25), Great Crested Grebe (1) and Whimbrel (1)

Loughor Bridge

1 Bonxie upriver at 17:50. Also D-b Brent (1), Gannet (4), Whimbrel (50+) and Sandwich Tern (1)

Pomarine Skuas off Port Talbot docks.

Port Talbot Docks 18:30 to 20:35

2 pale Pomarine Skuas with spoons, 1 dark Arctic Skua and 1 Arctic Tern were the highlights.

There wasn't a great deal of passage but there was an aggregation of birds off the long arm. c100 birds, mainly Fulmar (c20), Herring Gull (c40)  and Kittiwake (c40). The Skuas were in amongst this group and were not particularly attacking the group but seemed to be feeding from the surface where the outflow often attracts gulls. The dark Arctic was seen at very close range initially around 18:40 and then presumably the same individual was thereafter present further out, showing on and off. At 19:30 pale phase Skua finally broke the horizon giving side on views of the spoons, following about 20 mins of tantalising brief views in-between waves. Incredibly at the very same moment another Pomarine Skua got up in the same view, showing nicely from the side. All three Skuas were still in the general area at 20:35 when I left.

Dotterel record shots

(c) M. Bevan
 Record shots of the female Dotterel at Cwm Cadlan on 30th April. Phil Hill and Martin Bevan saw the pair at 19:05 following Alan Cripps' earlier find.
(c) M. Bevan

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sanderling G2YYWG

 Rob Jones and I found another couple of colour-ringed Sanderling on Jersey Marine beach yesterday. These 2 were far less cooperative in giving up their details and only one actually gave enough of a view  to observe the colour codes fully. G2YYWG has only ever been recorded at 3 locations and each recorded sighting has occurred in the month of May. It was caught in 2011 in western Iceland. The next year it turned up in North Uist on 15/5/12 and 11 days later it was observed on the beach where it was caught. Our record this year is the furthest south it has been seen.

Sanderling G4YWWW

 This Sanderling was found by Rob Jones on the 27/4/13 on Jersey Marine beach. It was first caught in May 2008 in western Iceland at a favoured staging point for the species. There are no summertime records on breeding grounds but this bird is likely to be a Greenland bird as Barry Stewart suggested in an earlier post. It has been recorded every May since 2008 in Iceland and will hopefully make it there again later this month. It has also been recorded in north-western France in every non-breeding season since May 2008. However, the dates on which it has been recorded in France suggest that it may go further south again? Indeed, observations of "the first sanderling ringed in Ghana have been reported in France today (28/4/13)" as we enter into the main migratory period for theses Arctic waders, reports Jeroen Reneerkens - Sanderling Project, International Wader Study Group.
The only records of this bird away from the observation hotspots are St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay, Northumberland on 9/4/13. This was 23 days after it was last reported in France and it turned up in Iceland 40 days after the St Mary's Island sighting. Prior to Rob's find this bird was last reported in France 26 days earlier.
There are lots of unknowns still at play here, and the general movement will be of no great surprise to many. However, I find it fascinating to think of other birders watching these same birds, sometimes thousands of miles apart and over many years. The results are returned quickly too, with this project, so it's well worth the effort spending time to get the colour codes.

weighted distribution of Sanderling in Glamorgan

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Seawatching and Cuckoos

Seawatching from Port Talbot Docks 07:00 to 10:15
Common Scoter (24), Great Northern Diver (1), Whimbrel (20), Dunlin (41), Sandwich Tern (4) and "Commic" Tern (2). Also a small trickle of Hirundines heading west (c250) mainly Swallows, but a few Sand Martins and a House Martin also.

Some encouraging Cuckoo sightings from the last few days with a male at Pant-y-sais (3/5/13), 2+ male at Crymlyn Bog and a female at Pant-y-sais (4/5/13) and a female (above) at Port Talbot, today.
(MHi, RJ)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

National Bird News

BBRC News:
Olive-backed Pipit is to be dropped as a British rarity from 2013. It will now become a Welsh Records Panel [WRP] species. Lesser Scaup & Citrine Wagtail, the other species reviewed, will remain BBRC species. BBRC are also looking at species that have become noticeably more scarcer: Aquatic Warbler, Tawny Pipit, Coues's Arctic Redpoll & Rustic Bunting. The former two have occurred in Glamorgan.
A press release from BBRC concerning these species is due shortly.