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.

Friday, 28 February 2014


LTD still at the Knap Pool & a Med Gull, [adult with a near full hood] at Barry Docks, both pm.

Puffin in East Glamorgan

The significance of these recent tideline corpses is that they are the first records for this species in East Glamorgan since 1988, which unfortunately was also dead [SJM]. The last live sighting was 1985 at Sker [WS]. With the Little Auk record and these Puffin records, it's worth checking the tideline just to see how many seabirds have fallen victim to these recent Atlantic gales.
Note: If you have any sightings of this nature please pass them on to the relevant CR. Many thanks.
{Thanks to PP & PB for info}

Late News: 27th Male Bearded Tit in CBWR [see GBC for photo].

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Cardiff Bay

1st winter little gull and drake common scoter in Cardiff Bay this afternoon.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Burry Holms & Broughton Bay

Video grab of one of the two 2cy Iceland Gulls on Rhossili Beach.
Note the slightly darker outer webs of the outer primaries.
Additions to Chris Brewer's 2cy Glaucous at B.H. and 2cy Iceland at B.B. this morning included an second 2cy Iceland on Rhossili Beach at B.H. along with the (long-staying?) Nelson's Gull and 2 adult Little Gulls. With ever so slightly darker outer primaries, one of the Iceland's had a hint of Kumlien's about it, but essentially it looked pretty much typical glaucoides (video link HERE). Also of note were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls including a very leucistic bird that looked bright white at first glance. 60+ Kittiwakes milling around too, some drifting along the dune edge - very odd behaviour for this species!
In Broughton Bay a more typical and well marked 2cy Kumlien's was on the beach, occasionally taking flight and showing its features well. A great bird to round off an afternoon stroll to blow out the cobwebs!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

'pale collared' Jackdaw at Reynoldston

We saw this bird feeding on the green at Reynoldston today with more typically marked birds. I have no idea whether these 'Nordic' lookalikes are the real deal or part of our local variation, but can't help suspecting the latter. However, it's worth noting these birds and it would be interesting to hear of others locally - I know there is a regular bird in Pembs, which I believe is a local breeder (photos Sandra Stewart).

Bonaparte's Gull

The Bonaparte's Gull was off the Heliport around 10am.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Leucistic Herring Gull at Mynydd Ty Talwyn

Popular opinion indicates this bird is a Glaucous Gull
An interesting gull amongst a small group of gulls gathered on the fields south of Mynydd Ty Talwyn, this morning. Certainly from some angles the bird seems to show some features, that you might expect on an Iceland Gull, especially the bill colour and structure. However, on closer inspection of the head shape (large and angry looking) and primaries (short projection beyond tertials and tail) it appears more like a Herring Gull or Glaucous Gull. The combination of an apparent influx of true white-wingers and the tendency for some of them to appear very faded at this time of year can make the identification of birds like this difficult.
In this instance, decent record shots mean that the identification of this bird can be discussed openly and possibly provide help to others who might see this bird elsewhere or another like it sometime in the future.
The bird appears to me to be a Leucistic Herring Gull because the structure looks good for Herring Gull or Glaucous Gull but without the heavy bill that would be more strikingly marked on a Glaucous Gull. i.e. it doesn't show the dipped in ink bill tip of a Glaucous Gull. This bird shows a dark eye, indicating a 2nd cal yr bird and therefore ruling out the unlikely scenario of the bill showing dull features that you might find on a bird in transition from 3rd cal yr to sub-adult.
Comments welcome.

New Recorder for Gwent

News gleaned from the Gwent OS site. Chris Jones, Recorder for Gwent has now retired after many years service. He has been replaced by Tom Chinnick.
Tel: 07982719881; email: See the Gwent OS site home page at

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Snow Buntings still at Whiteford

Rob Colley informed me at a meeting earlier this evening that he had seen 4 Snow Buntings, this afternoon. They were along the strand line on Whiteford Sands before flying north, possibly across the estuary in the direction of Cefn Sidan, where some have been reported recently. What was interesting to me was that Rob believes the birds he saw today were all female types. The birds I saw earlier this month were predominantly males, at least 4 of the 6 were males.
It is quite possible that between the two sites either side of the estuary that a sizable flock of Snow Buntings has wintered, maybe 10 or more. Rob informed me that he has seen small flocks of Snow Buntings moving between the two sites in the past, or at least made observations that would support this theory.
Whatever the case it's good to know the area is holding good numbers of Snow Buntings this winter and maybe with this the chance of a Shorelark dropping in if we're lucky. Definitely worth a look in my opinion.
Also today Rob found 1 each of Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin washed up dead along Whitford Beach.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


The LTD stil present at the Knap Pool this am. However no sign of the divers at Barry Dock. [MCP & DRWG]

A Black-headed Gull ringed in Gdansk, Poland 2010 was at Barry Docks 19/02/2014 [MCP].

Another BHG was at the Knap Pool 19/02/2014 which was ringed in Stavanger, Norway (Darvic white J8CC) [MCP]

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Dead Little Auk at Margam Sands

© D. Coombs
Darren Coombs found a heavily decomposed Little Auk on Margam Sand, this afternoon. Not the prettiest photo, but Darren has done well to lay out what is left of the bird  in a way that all the recognisable parts confirm the species. Apart from size comparison with a dead Razorbill that was close by, which is fairly conclusive on its own; the dusky underwing can be seen and the broad white trailing edge to the secondaries. The head was completely missing but the dark legs also indicate this is a Little Auk.
It's a real shame that we didn't get chance to see this little fella fit and well somewhere offshore in the county, but a good record nonetheless.

Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve

Male bearded tit (ringed bird) showing very well by the pond dipping platform this afternoon. Otherwise pretty quiet. 42 little grebe off Hamadryad Park.

Red-necked Grebe at Whiteford

A Red-necked Grebe was in the bay south of Whiteford Point this morning (09:00) (MHu)

Monday, 17 February 2014

Caspian Gull and other late news

A 1st W Caspian Gull was on recycling centre roof at Lamby Tip, yesterday early afternoon. This record is a significant one for Wales and Glamorgan, and congratulations should go to Alex Bevan for this great find.
{The WRP require a good set of photographs for this species to be formally accepted onto the Welsh List. GRC}

Other nice stuff from Glamorgan not reported here yesterday includes

1 Black-necked Grebe from Wernffrwd, yesterday morning. Also 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 3 Slavonian Grebes and 2cy Little Gull (BS)

1 adult Glaucous Gull was found at Wernffrwd, early afternoon. Described as a 'real brute of a bird' and feeding on a carcass viewed from 'Isabelline' Tump. (EAH)

Also 1st W Little Gull passed u/c yesterday morning, seen from Sker. 11 Purple Sandpipers also there (OL)

Late News:
Up to 16 Water Pipits on RGW & at least 5 Short-eared Owls.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kumlien's Gull at Jackstones Pier, Aberavon

© G. Jones
Gareth Jones has very kindly sent some record shots of the ad Kumlien's Gull that he saw at Jackstones Pier, this afternoon (13:38). Very nice record and shown off with a bit of style.

Kumlien's Gull

Ed Hunter picked out this Kumlien's Gull at Burry Holms this morning. In the afternoon it was in Broughton Bay / Whiteford Sands. There were 4 adult Little Gulls off Burry Holms.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Ross's Gull still present at Afan River

© D. Coombs
The Ross's Gull was reported throughout the day, today. Showing well at the Afan river mouth and on the small beach there, this morning. Later, moving slightly upriver and showing very well on the exposed mud viewed from the small dune system (Little Warren).

Elsewhere in the county Lesser Scaup is still at Cosmeston CP, Long-tailed Duck still at the Knapp (Barry), 2 Black-throated Divers at Barry Docks and Little Gulls at Ogmore(2), Aberavon (4+) & south of Loughor Bridge

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Ross's gull taken early this morning!


The Ross's Gull [1st W] still at Aberavon this am, showing off the Afan river mouth [per RM]
Plus at least 10 Little Gulls (5 x 1st W, 1 x 2nd W, 4 x ad)

Barry Dock: There are two [2] Black-throated Divers present, both together at the eastern end. [MCP & DRWG]. {This is only the second time that two have been seen together in East Glamorgan, the other being two at Sker Point 22/11/1985 [N. Odin]}
                                                                   © H. Lack

The Knap, Barry: The Long-tailed Duck is still present, along with a Med Gull [ad W], as is the drake Lesser Scaup at Cosmeston CP. Also there 9 Gadwall. [MCP & DRWG]

There was a Med Gull [ad W] at Roath Park Lake this am. [DRWG]

Late news: A Lesser Whitethroat (race unknown) seen feeding in a Roath garden 10th Feb, together with 4 Blackcaps. [Per GRC]

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Ross's Gull

Still present today feeding with the gull flock west of the Jackstones pier, Aberavon at 0920 at least. Also 2ad and 3 1st winter Little Gull, 2 Shelduck, guillemot, ad wp Med Gull and a rather lonely escaped Snow Goose on the beach [which in fact, which was quite rightly pointed out a white fat hybrid  blob - MHn]. Weather was horrendous in a near gale force wind blowing from the docks direction, managed to tuck myself into the jackstones out of the wind much to the amusement of visiting birders.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Ross's Gull still present, today

 A couple more shots of the Ross's Gull that was still present today. It showed well on the beach amongst the small gathering of gulls, just west of Jackstones Pier, for about 20 mins . It was very interesting to watch it call out repeatedly for about 20s or more, this morning. Lets hope it's little voice carries far and that it is able to pull another one in! After taking to flight it fed off the shore with other gulls and alighted on the sea regularly before disappearing for a bit. Shortly after that it reappeared and fed just off the river mouth for a while before flying west into the docks.
No real pattern is emerging as to where one might expect to find it at any particular part of the day. However, it does seem that on every day since it was first seen on Saturday, that it shows around the river mouth and pier for 30 mins or more during some part of the day.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Ross's Gull announcement.

It has come to our attention that birders having been entering ABP controlled land in search of the Ross's Gull, today. There is an unmanned gate at the end of Riverside Road, where it meets the public footbridge over the Afan River. Signs at the gate clearly show that unauthorised access beyond the gate is prohibited. The gate is watched by CCTV cameras and workers that use the area report trespassers to security. Today, an ABP security guard had to travel from Swansea to respond to a complaint made to ABP, which resulted in 3 birders being asked to leave. Tata Steel security will also respond to alerts from this area.

It is incredibly frustrating not knowing where this bird is when its not showing from the public areas. However, there is no excuse to trespass in order to try and see the bird. A handful of permits are issued each year to allow WEBs counts and other survey work to be done, so any further reported incidents will jeopardise the relationship between the land owners and volunteer surveyors. Please be mindful of this.

The Ross's Gull has been reported less frequently today, but it did return to the shore and pier northwest of the Afan River mouth between 14:00 till 14:30 at least. In addition to this there are some reports of it showing along the Afan River during the day.

PLEASE DO NOT enter the private land beyond the gates at the end of Riverside Road where it meets the public footbridge over the Afan River. Although the gates are open, signs clearly warn against unauthorised access. Private security will be asked to respond to birders that are trespassing here. Thank you.

Aberavon Beach

Long tailed Duck being drenched at Barry

Wildwings at Aberavon

Sunday, 9 February 2014


The Bonaparte's Gull was off the Heliport this afternoon. The Long-tailed Duck was again at The Knap, Barry.

Ross's Gull still at Afan river mouth

Last night what I wanted more than anything was for the Ross's Gull to be still present this morning. I was also hoping that it would show well for everyone. In the main my hopes were realised although as I write this I don't think it has been seen for about 2-3hrs and some birders getting there as I was leaving will still be hoping it makes a reappearance. Me too.
Undoubtedly, there will be better photos to follow this set, which is a lot bigger than I would normally consider posting. However, to find a bird like this on a local patch (but not my patchwork patch - doh) still feels like a dream to me. For that reason I've decided to post all my favourite digiscoped pics from this morning in one go. Even more special to me though, was the upbeat atmosphere created by the Ross's Gull. With the good turnover of local birders and some from further afield coming and going throughout the morning, it seemed that anytime the Ross's Gull was on view there would be high-spirited voices describing it's every move. That's when you know it's a good bird. Happy days...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Ross's Gull at Afan river mouth

I've always dreamed of seeing a Ross's Gull, not even contemplated finding one. However, the circumstances surround this find leave me feeling a little empty. And so it goes..
I've written the circumstances surrounding my find a few times and it doesn't ever get better.
Basically, I saw this bird from distance in a howling gale and thought it was a 1st W Little Gull. Closed the distance and had a look through the bins. It struck me as being a bit pale, but still the coin didn't drop! Managed to find the bird in the camera, took a record shot of it flying away. Then it gained a bit of height and flew up river. I didn't see it again.
Got home had a look at the photo on the computer - oh no! It's ok it can't be one. I'd better go back down and have another look for it. Not there. Had another look on the computer at the photo - it's got to be one. Ring Barry - he agrees. So here we are.
The location of the sighting is SS749886. The bird was seen flying up the Afan river at 12:45 and lost from view. It was not seen amongst the gulls gathered up river near the outfall (SS757896)
Things to note are 1) there is a very big gull roost inside Port Talbot Docks but this cannot be accessed without a permit 2) the gulls inside Port Talbot Dock will be forced out from there on a high tide 3) this bird was seen around high tide.
It will be looked for inside the Port Talbot Docks tomorrow morning and there will be other birders on the public side of the Afan in contact with those inside the docks. If it is re-found inside the docks tomorrow then news will be relayed as best we can.
Parking for this area is SS748891 - do not block emergency access to the beach here. Or lots of packing along the beach front.

Razorbill off the Heliport on the 6th.

Another Auk sp?d c and 2 ad Kittiwakes d c.


BTD still at Barry Dock this am. [ND]

Friday, 7 February 2014


Bittern at Kenfig Pool. At Sker Point: Little Gull [ad W], Med Gull [ad] & Kittiwake [1st W]. [ND]

OOC A Green-winged Teal reported from Peterstone Wentloog foreshore (Gwent) this am. This could possibly move over the border into Cardiff (RGW).

Black-throated Diver at Barry Dock

A couple of record shots of the BTD at Barry Dock. The bird favours the western end near the Premier Inn. [DRWG & later JPH]

Late news - Glaucous Gull at Burry Holms, yesterday

A  relatively small ad Glaucous Gull and an ad Little Gull were showing around Burry Holms, yesterday. (EAH)

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Late News - storm driven Razorbill in Baglan

I took a phone call yesterday afternoon from Phil George who let me know he had been somewhat surprised by a Razorbill that nearly hit him on the head, while out walking the dog. Phil described how he was in the local park at Baglan when a crashing sound coming from an Ivy covered tree preceded a large bird falling to the ground near him. Phil was expecting it to be a Sparrowhawk with a kill and so when confronted with a Razorbill looking back at him things became a little bit surreal! However, Phil had good presence of mind to pick the bird up and take it home, where he put it in a box in the garage.
Later on I visited to find the bird in good health. Alert, aggressive and flapping its wings like crazy; I decided it would be best to get the bird back to sea quickly. I took it to Aberavon Beach and released it into the Afan River where the Harbour Short-arm was providing some protection from the still strong winds. It dived 3 times before flying out strongly, low over the water and beyond the harbour breakwater.
As some reward an Ad Little Gull was showing well in the small bay between the Afan River and Jackstones Pier. The Little Gull was still present this afternoon on the Aberavon beach side of the pier, seen by T Tovey and R Anderson.


VC41: The fem/imm Long-tailed Duck is still at the Knap Pool, Barry this am. [GP]

Late News: 6th, Glaucous Gull [ad] & Little Gull [ad] both at Burry Holms, Gower [EAH]

OOC The American Wigeon still at Uskmouth VC35, viewed from the path by the lighthouse & the Red-flanked Bluetail was still in the Shire Valley, Marshfield, Gloucestershire. Also several Corn Buntings at Marshfield. [MCP & DRWG]

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


A GND at Kenfig Poll briefly this am, flew off south calling. Also Bittern seen there from south pool hide. [ND] Another Bittern is still present at Forest Farm. [per BirdGuides]

The GND is still present at Llwyn-on Res. and the Great Grey Shrike is still present at Garwnant. [MTH]

Late News: 4th A Long-tailed Duck (fem/imm type) was on the Knap Pool, Barry. A first for this site. [RN & LN]

News from 3rd Feb.
Lesser Scaup at Cosmeston CP & BNG still in Cardiff Bay. [per BirdGuides]

Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve & Hamadryad

A brief visit this morning. CBWR - bearded tit/s heard calling briefly but unfortunately no sighting. No sign of black necked grebe from Hamadryad side but 41 little grebe of note. An additional 13 little grebe at CBWR. 54 a respectable total for these two sites?

{Note: Taking the area Cardiff Bay into account, 54 is the highest count for Little Grebe in VC41. Splitting the sites, 41 also qualifies as the highest, beating the 39 at Roath Park Lake in Jan 2009. GRC.}

Sunday, 2 February 2014

6 Snow Buntings at Whiteford Sands

A record shot of the 6 Snow Buntings on Whiteford Sands, this afternoon. Special thanks go to the couple who described the 'unusual' birds to me while I and the GOS field trip group were just about to head back to the car park. And to Dean & Sarah for their encouraging input on our quest to find the right area. We then went on to find the group of six Snow Bunts just huddled together in the middle of the beach. Certainly a personal birding high for me and many of the group.
Otherwise some good stuff included 22 Eiders, 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great Norther Diver, 3 Slavonian Grebes & 2 Peregrines from Whiteford. Also 2 Great White Egrets and a Merlin at Llanrhdian. Golden Plovers and Lapwings filling the skies in their thousands was seen regularly throughout the day, and each time always special.
Special thanks to Darren Coombs and Rob Jones for their significant help today. Also Becky Sharp, Dave Pritchard, Peter Douglas-Jones, Gary Light and Colin Stevenson for coming along on a most enjoyable day out.

It is also worth noting that Bob Tallack recorded 6 Snow Buntings at Broughton Bay, on 17th December 2013, which is about 1km SW of yesterday's sighting (SS430942). It seems likely that these are the same birds and, that they have wintered in this area. I haven't had chance to compare how this seemingly high count fairs against other database counts, but Rob Jones gave an anecdotal account of between 12-15 Snow Buntings on the Outer Worm many years ago.

Kumlien's Gull at Blackpill

At 16:50hrs a Kumlien's Gull flew into bathe in the pill straight out Blackpill Lido. The bill suggests this is probably a 3cy bird. By the time I walked out to the bird (the tide was well out) the light was very poor but the grabs from the phone'scope videos HERE and HERE show sufficient detail to confirm it.


The drake Lesser Scaup was at Cosmeston today [per BirdGuides]