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, 29 January 2014

Iceland Gull and Grebes

A whistle stop tour of Swansea Bay to get a count of Great Crested Grebes found them still in good numbers. Counts from Aberavon Beach, Crymlyn Burrows and finishing at Blackpill just before HT. 326 Great Crested Grebes in total is still surprisingly high for this period of the winter. It was clear also while doing the count that gull numbers were good, particularly Black-headed Gulls. A rough estimate would put Black-headed Gull numbers across the bay at 2000+ and likely even 3000+

Large White-headed Gulls were less conspicuous with only small gatherings here and there on the sea. Amongst the gathered gulls on the sea off Blackpill was an immature Iceland Gull that I suspect was a 3cy. However, by the time I found it it was getting dark quickly. My attempts to get closer views were foiled by it flying off when I was closing the distance and as such I'm only really happy about it being an immature Iceland Gull. General paleness and clean looking primary tips seemed to discard the possibility of it being a Kumlien's.

It seems unlikely this bird is the same as the reported ad Glaucous Gull at Blackpill on Monday and further details of this bird will be gratefully received.

The Lesser Scaup was showing very well on Cosmeston Lakes CP today and very nice images taken by Andy Burns can be viewed via the Glamorgan Birds website

Late news yesterday - Red-throated Diver (7), Bonxie and Little Gull (3) were all seen to fly west past Common Cliff (BS)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Water Pipits along the Neath River

A couple of Water Pipits along the Neath River today. The one shown above was on the salt marsh near Llandarcy and another was showing with a small Meadow Pipit flock from the roundabout leading into Neath. There was also a Rock Pipit type showing from the roundabout, an unusual sight from here, which may have been ssp littoralis. It showed only briefly but was fairly well marked on it's underparts with a cleanish ground colour along the flanks and looked grey on it's mantle without an olive wash. I'll probably need a record shot showing the outer tail feather colour to be sure, if it sticks.

Monday, 27 January 2014


Report of a Glaucous gull today (per birdguides).

Port eynon, yesterday.

4 Little gull in the bay, found and photographed by Adam Tilt -

Sunday, 26 January 2014


A Hen Harrier over Wentloog Levels into Gwent this pm. [CE]

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Black-necked Grebe : Cardiff Bay

Showed well from Windsor Quay early p.m today just below river bridge although a little too distant for any really good shots.


Fforestganol: 25 Hawfinches along the main path this am (a new VC41 record count for this species), well done all. [JS, PM, WM].

Black-necked Grebe still Cardiff Bay. [JS, PM, WM]

The Lesser Scaup was in CBWR [via BirdGuides]

A Firecrest at Overton Sewage works, nr. Port Eynon this am. [OG]

A Pale-bellied Brent Goose with Canada Geese at Ogmore [NPR]

Bonapartes' Gull - Cosmeston

Lol Middleton found an Ad Bonaparte's on W lake Cosmeston this morning at around 10 a.m. I got there at around 10:30 when it had flown off apparently to E lake but could not be re-found, so poss has gone off the Cardiff Bay.
Below is a quick digiscoped pic by Lol.

Andy Burns also got there quicker than me and managed some excellent shots just before and as it flew off. Here's a link to his set of 8 pix.

Nice find Lol and well done Andy.
PS this appears to be a first record for Cosmeston - nice one!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Thayer's debate

With the weather looking clear for tomorrow some might be considering going for this gull. The general excitement surrounding this bird seems to have been dampened somewhat by some suggestions that it's a hybrid with a bit of Thayer's Gull at best, and a dark Kumlien's Gull at worst. I'm surprised there hasn't been more news from this week. I was expecting there to be better shots of the gull being branded about by visiting birders who might have travelled during the week, but none appear to have been published. In fact I only know of one birder who has made the trip, and that was yesterday - reporting few gulls in the area and nothing unusual amongst them.

I took loads of photos last sunday and must have overlooked this one, but it might be one of the most useful of the lot. The photo is a little dark, but it does show a significant amount of bleaching on the tail and also the trailing edge of the flight feathers, which also show some wear.  Being completely honest I'm not nearly familiar enough with the whole Thayer's - Kumlien's complex to give a useful evaluation of this bird's true identity. I'm glad that this responsibility will lie with the experts.

However we're are all entitled to our opinions and during these times of uncertainty one tends to look for glimmers of hope! I was impressed by RBA's encouragement to look at photos of Thayer's Gulls from California, where Kumlien's should be found only rarely. My hope now comes from a blog called Globalgull! It illustrates a juv Thayer's Gull in flight in California Dec 2011, which looks to me to be a carbon copy, with a bit of bleach and rough times added, of the Burry Holms bird. If the bird on Globalgull is pure then I suggest the credentials of the Burry Holms bird should be treated very seriously.

Ultimately, until a decision is reached by the powers that be we will have to make our own minds up about what this bird is, and give respect to those that have already decided. From a personal point of view it has been very entertaining birding these last few weeks; keeping company with some really experienced 'gullers' has been really enjoyable and informative. And that for me is what it's all about.

If you're going tomorrow - Good Luck!

A link to globalgull is HERE

Monday, 20 January 2014

Llanishen Res.

The Common Snipe count of c150 at Llanishen Res. [PB & MCP] equals the highest count for Cardiff [CBWR Dec 2003, V. Grantham] and is the highest recorded for the reservoirs. The observers state that this site could contain upwards of 200+ [MCP pers comm.]. There are only 3 counts higher in East Glamorgan, all from the Cadoxton area between 1956-1972. The highest which was stated as c220 [1956, D. Griffin], and documented in text the 1966 GBR as such, was actually stated in Birds of Glamorgan 1967 and in CNS Transactions, Ornithological Notes 1956 as only 'over 200'. This is further stated as '200+ in Birds of Glamorgan 1995. The highest previously documented count for VC41 is 220 at Oxwich Marsh in 1979, however there is a count for 250 at Pant-y-sais Fen 3rd Feb 2003 [D. Painter] on the GBC/GRC Database.
[We can only suggest that Col. HM-S was in personal communication with Mr Griffin, hence the c220 given in the 1966 report.]

Birds of Glamorgan 1967 [Heathcote, Griffin & Morrey-Salmon]
Birds of Glamorgan 1995 [Hurford & Lansdown]
Glamorgan Bird Report Vol.1 No.5, 1966
Cardiff Naturalists' Society Transactions. Ornithological Notes Vol. LXXXV, p22 1955-56
Llanishen & Lisvane Reservoirs' Ornithological Report March 1983 [N. Odin]
GBC/GRC Database

Hawfinchs at Forest Ganol

One of the five Hawfinchs seen yesterday morning - Someone reported 17 there earlier in the day

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Thayer's Gull still at Burry Holms

 A few photos of the 2cy Thayer's Gull that performed very well, this afternoon, from Burry Holms.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Thayer's type in Rhossili Bay

Some nice pics taken in the rain today by Chris Brewer of the seemingly unidentifiable gull!

Friday, 17 January 2014


At least 13 Hawfinches at Fforestganol this pm, feeding in tree-tops near top road.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Burry holms.

                                            Another record shot of the putative Thayers gull. taken
                                            on saturday.

Monday, 13 January 2014


At least 8 Hawfinches at Fforestganol at midday today [MCP]. 15 seen there yesterday [multi obs].

Lesser Scaup & BNG still Cardiff Bay [GP]

Sunday, 12 January 2014


AB had the Bonapartes off the heliport early afternoon, returning for its 6th winter. In the bay the Black-necked Grebe still by the flyover, Lesser Scaup in the reserve and ad Yellow-legged Gull in the roost.

Save Rhaslas Appeal

The New Year brings with it a new header photo. One of the record shots that Mike Hogan took of the Long-billed Dowitcher just after his very good find. Considering how important this site is to passage waders the record was perhaps not so surprising. Nonetheless the find of 2013 in my view.

Rhaslas Pond is under threat from development and I attach a link to a PDF which I urge you print off and sign and send to the Senior Planner dealing with this planning proposal. There are now LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO RESPOND. Please act swiftly and spread news of this worthy appeal to others.

Geri Thomas, Mike Hogan, Martin Bevan, Martin Bell, Phil Hill et al need our support!

The link to the PDF will be placed in the sidebar permanently until the period for public comments and objection closes


Link click - HERE

Cardiff News

A report of a Bonaparte's Gull [ad W] at the Cardiff Heliport this pm. [via BirdGuides]

Thayer's and Kumlien's sightings for Burry Holms, yesterday.

News from John Martin

(presumed) Thayer's Gull showed for c20 mins prior to 13:50 (HT at 14:45)

Juv Kumlien's Gull was present for a good while (Birdguides reporting 11:39 & 13:50 still)

Saturday, 11 January 2014


11th. Drake Lesser Scaup in Cardiff Bay [GP] & GND still Llwyn-on Res. [MH] (heard calling)

Reports of:

BNG (Cardiff Bay), Iceland Gull (f/o Dowlais) & Bittern (Forest Farm) [via BirdGuides]

10th Bittern [2] at KNNR [ND]

{Could the finder of the Dowlais IG please forward any notes or photos to the GRC. Thank you.}

Goodbye Birding World

Had my last BW this morning, on time and as good as ever. After 27 years, just missed Nos 1 & 2 Twitching, well worth the money. A thank you from me & others in VC41 who subscribed over the years. Good luck with any future venture. Might get back to Cley one day, although it will never be the same without Nancy's Cafe!!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Gower News

The putative Thayer's Gull [juv] present again this pm, with a Glaucous Gull [juv] and a Kumlien's Gull [juv] also present with over 400 other gulls at Burry Holms. [EAH].

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Pale-bellied Brents at Aberthaw

Just been sent this flight record shot of 10 Pale-bellied Brents at Aberthaw on 8th Jan, by observer Steve Hughes, who was advised to send it to GBC by RSPB Cymru, to whom he probably mentioned the sighting. These were also reported on 5th Jan by Rob & Linda Nottage. Not as exciting as Thayer's Gull but worthy of note :-)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Thayer's Gull at Burry Holms

Extended lunch break as Sandra desperately wanted to see the Thayer's Gull. No sign amongst the 280+ Herring Gulls on the island when we arrived at 12:00, but at 12:30 just as the rain started I found it perched on top of the island. It also spent a bit of time feeding in the surf off the end of the island, but with the tide in the views weren't great. Took a little video which at 200m in the wind and rain doesn't show anything extra to what's already visible in other shots. Lord Nelson was also there but no sign of any American Herring Gull lookalikes. Scoters much closer today, but no time to check them. Weather improving tomorrow and looking very good for the weekend - let's hope it sticks. Seems the best time to look is the hour after high tide. However HT on Sat is 14:55 so not sure what best option is?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Thayer's update

Hardly surprisingly given the forecast, it appears that no one looked for the gull(s) today, but with the weather set to improve, thought it was worth clarifying where to park and walk. The map below shows the two options for walking out from the car park at SS416925. Also shown is the area where the bird was seen to roost on the falling tide on the weekend (NB: HT at 10:30am on Tues & 11:25 on Weds), so expected time at the roost would be after these times based on Saturday and Sunday's observations. It may of course be there on the rising tide? The bird was also seen on the beach either side of Burry Holms, which for those who don't know is cut off at High Tide. The west end of the island is worth a look as birds feed in the turbulent waters providing excellent flight views.

It is also worth looking out for any American Herring Gull types (there are at least two good ones), which will require good photos of the wings and tail as well as general body shots if there's any chance of one being accepted. Dark Herring Gulls can look pretty much identical so the id of these birds is far from resolved. Ed Hunter has also sent me a pic of what looks like a cracking Nelson's Gull so more photos of this and any other interesting gulls would be very helpful.

Finally don't forget the scoters offshore as the Surfy is probably still out there somewhere, though the swell and distance will make it very tricky to pick up unless the flocks move closer than they were on Saturday.

Good luck

cold and sodden gull watchers with smiley faces


An ad. Kittiwake in the CBWR [JDW]. Good record for the reserve.

2-3 Bearded Tits present at CBWR [PMH]

Black-necked Grebe still present in Cardiff Bay [PMH]

Bittern seen at Forest Farm (Glam Canal) [RW]

Black Brant & Great White Egret still present north Gower (Llanrhidian/Weobley area) [MSC]

Great Northern Diver still at Llwyn-On Res. [ASR]

Yellow-legged Gull ad W at Cosmeston [JDW]

Late news: 10 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Gileston 4th. [ASw]. Also present on  5th [RN & LN]

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Thayer's gull, Burry holms.

                                         Managed a record shot despite very poor conditions.

Cardiff News

BNG still in Cardiff Bay in same area next to Taff Bridge. Also 27 Little Grebes there.
No sign of any Bearded Tits at CBWR despite search this PM.

Gower News

The putative juv Thayer's Gull was present again this morning (10am) on the same rocks at Burry Holms as yesterday. It seems that the gulls use this area as a high tide roost. [SM & PM]
Update: Still present around Burry Holms and feeding on nearby beach (1250pm) [RJ, DCo et al]

A Black Brant is present with D-b Brents between Landimore & Weobley. [BS & JNE]

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Thayer's & another gull of interest

Putative Thayer's seems to have been well received though whether it gains acceptance by BBRC without better images remains to be seen. Scores full points as thayeri using Hampton Scale.
For ref bird seen at SS40129249.
Looking good for smithsonianus but abandoned as the search for the Thayer's was more of a priority


Black-necked Grebe still around the road bridge Cardiff Bay. 2 Little Gulls feeding offshore from Heliport (ad + 1w).

Putative Thayer's Gull at Burry Holms, Llangennith

Barry Stewart has just has just sent some video grabs of a very good candidate for juvenile Thayer's Gull. Seen briefly on Spaniard Rocks with masses of Herring Gulls before being forced from the rocks by a breaking wave. The bird flew North towards Whiteford before being lost from view.

Some noticeable features include the silvery underside to the primaries, deep pink legs, friendly looking head shape. The plumage is brown with no black in the tail or wing. I can't quite make out the extent of the white arrow heads on the primaries of the resting bird but Barry said this feature was striking in the field.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Late News - Velvets at Rhossili Bay (2/1/14)

2 Velvet Scoter among the distant flock of 1300+ Common Scoters in Rhossili Bay.
Also 1 Great northern Diver, 3 Slavonian Grebes & 52 Eiders at Whiteford (OJL)

Bonxie and Little Gulls at Mumbles

Blogger has done an amazing job making the above photo, which admittedly was of poor quality to start with, look even worse. Anyway it's one of the Little Gulls that was seen from Bracelet Bay car park this afternoon (14:00 till 15:45).

There was at least an Ad & 1st W Little Gull present; an Ad was seen regularly passing west throughout my stay but may well have been the same individual circulating. The main interest came from a Bonxie that appeared around 14:45 and was seen to give chase to a Herring Gull before landing on the sea, distantly. Other stuff on view were Fulmar (3), Great Crested Grebe (1) and Guillemots (20+). Also a decent number of Med Gull present but numbers not counted.


The Black-necked Grebe is still in Cardiff Bay, however it has moved from the ice rink area. It was seen at midday between the Taff bridge and the first line of moored boats. It can be viewed from the footpath that runs under the Taff bridge at Windsor Quay, looking east towards CBWR & St. David's Hotel. Also there 23 Little Grebes.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Black-necked Grebe in Cardiff Bay

A Black-necked Grebe was showing well off the boardwalk by the Cardiff Ice Rink (Prospect Place) this afternoon. [CH]

Wednesday, 1 January 2014