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, 31 March 2014

Cardiff Bay gulls

Bonaparte's Gull (1 adult), Med Gull (2, 2nd cal-yrs), Little Gull (adult & 2nd cal yr). Black-headed Gulls (lots, mostly 2nd cal yr birds), present until at least 13.50.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

2 Bonaparte's Gulls in Cardiff Bay

The wintering adult Bonaparte's Gull was joined this morning by another adult, both birds seen together on occasions 10:30-12:00 at least. The new arrival is more advanced towards summer plumage with the  hood beginning to develop at the rear and no obvious grey wash on the rear neck/breast sides.

Also an Osprey picked up by Peter Howlett over Penarth Head at 10:00 which we watched heading north, presumably to follow the Taff up.

Little Gull also still present.

Saturday, 29 March 2014


The adult Bonaparte's Gull and the 1st W Little Gull are present this am in Cardiff Bay. [per SHw]

Late news 28th an unconfirmed report of a fly-over Great White Egret at Treforest.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Parc slip, Tondu.

An Osprey drifted NE over the reserve at 14:45.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Green-winged Teal now included in the NPT List

The Green-winged Teal took up from the flooded scrape area, with some Eurasian Teals, and made a short flight before landing in the reedbed inside NPT. After about 30mins, at approx 13:00, a small number of ducks including the Green-winged Teal flew back out again. Approximate Grid ref of last sighting before dropping into reeds is SS78208315 (DCo)

Kumlien's Gull at Crymlyn Burrows & RBG still at Blackpill

A watch over the decent sized gull roost in Baglan Bay this evening, eventually produce the darker of the two 2cy Kumlien's Gulls (seen at Fendrod recently) on the beach at Crymlyn Burrows. Lots of gulls flew in late on from the Swansea direction and the Kumlien's Gull turned up about 18:15. 446 Sanderlings in the wader roost was also deserving of note. (MHi) The adult Ring-billed Gull was present again at Blackpill, this evening at 17:00 (PM)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Iceland Gull and long staying Gulls plus LTD back?

A 2cy Iceland Gull was at Fendrod Lake, this afternoon. Also the more strikingly marked Kumlien's Gull plus another 'white-winger' that might have been the paler Kumlien's or another new bird. (PH)
The adult Bonaparte's Gull (LM) and 2cy Little Gull (JDW) were showing in Cardiff Bay, today.
Long-tailed Duck was reported at Knap Lake, Barry. Some suggestion that this is the bird that was present earlier in the year back again? (per JDW)

Today's Green-winged Teal at Kenfig Saltmarsh/Reedbed

Green-winged Teal still at Kenfig salt marsh

The drake has proved very elusive this morning but has finally shown itself again on the flooded scrape area south of the main reedbed, and therefore in East Glam. Picked up again around midday and viewed from the haul road. (CJ)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Green-winged Teal at Kenfig salt marsh

A record shot of the drake Green-winged Teal at Kenfig salt marsh, this afternoon. Found earlier today by Darren Coombs. The bird showed frequently on the flooded scape area and even came out of the water briefly to preen. It spent the entire time that I was there, this afternoon, in East Glamorgan.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Kumlien's Gull(s) at Fendrod Lake

23/3 Kumlien's No2 below Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin
Yesterday afternoon, Simon & Peter Murray found that there were 2 Kumlien's Gulls together at Fendrod Lake. There seems to be a bit of debate surrounding the origins of the paler of the 2 birds and whether primary pattern and overall lack of contrast in the wing will allows us to differentiate between Iceland and Kumlien's. In addition to the recommendations from some of our local learned friends for caution when recording race status of the first bird there are a number of Gull books and reputable Gull ID websites that state Iceland and paler Kumlien's types are inseparable, particularly at this time of year when wear and fading come into play. However, for the purpose of this post I'l be referring to the contentious bird as Kumlien's No1 or 'first bird.'
19/3 Kumlien's No1 © I. Tew

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © I.Tew
The second bird does have a pale bill. but the light does play a part in the differences shown above. In bright light the first bird's bill can look strikingly two-toned.
18/3 Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © P. Smith
Certainly the second bird shows distinctive darker outer primaries than the first bird. However, I would say the outer primaries of the first bird are still just darker than it's inner primaries.
18/3 Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © I. Tew

18/3 Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © I. Tew
It's not easy to find similar shots of the birds in the same pose and light. Indeed in some photos it's difficult to tell which one is which. The second bird is a bit bulkier than the first and gives a rather white-hooded appearance in the field. This second bird looks like it must be the same bird Peter Murray found on 27th February at Blackpill, which was seen again by (DCo, BS, CDB & MHi) on the 2nd March. The first bird has been present since 17th March.
23/3 Kumlien's No2 above Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin
The ID of both birds may yet still call for more debate before they can be put to race with any confidence. Personally, I believe they are both OK for Kumlien's Gull, however, the features shown by the first bird can be heavily dependant on the light conditions at the time of viewing. The second bird, in my opinion, is a much safer call for Kumlien's Gull. Further comments welcome with regards to the identification of either gull.

Weekend round-up

Two Kumlien's Gulls now frequenting Fendrod Lake 23rd [PM, SM]. Still there today 24th.
{Photo compilation to follow}

The adult Bonaparte's Gull now showing in Cardiff Bay, 22nd & 23rd [ND]. Also the 1st W Little Gull still present.

The Black-throated Diver still present on Cosmeston, 22nd & 23rd

A Ring-billed Gull [ad] was at Blackpill late pm. 23rd [EAH]

Three Pale-bellied Brents at Broughton Bay 23rd [MSC]

Spring migrants seen: Swallow, Sand Martin, Wheatear & Willow Warbler and several singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.

Friday, 21 March 2014


Two Great White Egrets & 3 Slavonian Grebes between Llanrhidian & Salthouse Pt. (North Gower), also Greenshank at Penclawdd [ND].
BTD still on east lake, Cosmeston.
The Kumlien's Gull was back on Fendrod Lake [AJ].

The report of a Tree Sparrow at Swansea Vale LNR [19th] is the first sighting of this species in VC41 in 2014.

Bonaparte's Gull - Cardiff Bay

The adult Bonaparte's Gull showing well amongst 500+ Black-headed Gulls in the middle of the Bay 10.45 - 11.30 at least, viewable from the promenade behind Bellway flats tower and from the Ice Rink. Also, Little Gull (2nd cal-yr), and c.30 Sand Martins.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Kumlien's Gull still at Fendrod Lake

 The Kumlien's Gull showed well at Fendrod Lake, this afternoon. Coming to bread, harassing other gulls and looking very smart in the sunshine. Well worth a visit I would say. Occasionally it would make brief trips away from the lake to spend time with other gulls gathered over the River Tawe, to the west.
Elsewhere in the county the Siberian Chiffchaff was still present around the South Pool Hide at Kenfig (ND). The Black-throated Diver was still present at Cosmeston CP (CHa)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Kumlien's Gull at Fendrod Lake

 A 2nd cal yr Kumlien's Gull was found by Terry Tovey and Kim Powell at Fendrod Lake, this afternoon. Terry first saw the bird amongst the gathered gulls that were coming to bread, just in front of the car park. The bird flew off towards the bay at about 16:50, but was not subsequently seen later at Blackpill
At Blackpill the adult Ring-billed Gull was roosting on the sea with about 200 Common Gulls. Not many other gulls at Blackpill apart from that, with a handful of Mediterranean Gulls being the best of the rest

At Crymlyn Burrows a 4th cal yr Yellow-legged Gull was near the river mouth, mid-afternoon.

Kumlien's update

A quick browse through this years records suggests seven or so individuals may have been responsible for the Glamorgan sightings. Still time for more of this disputed taxon in what has been an unprecedented influx. NB. The red dot at Cosmeston is Dave Rich's 2012 record (one of just two county records prior to this winter's influx, the other an adut bird that frequented Swansea Bay for a few years - not shown). The five 2014 records of nominate Iceland Gulls are not plotted.

Kumlien's Gull

The adult Kumlien's Gull was present near Ogmore rivermouth at about 10:45 today. The bird was several hundred metres down the beach towards Newton, initially with two Herring Gulls and then on its own. I managed this ropey digiscoped shot before it took off and headed over the rivermouth, subsequently lost to view.

Despite the distance I was able to get good scope views of it on the beach and it's fair to say that the grey wing tip markings were more prominent in the field than is suggested by this photo.

Adult Kumlien's Gull again at Ogmore

The Adult Kumlien's Gull was seen again, late morning, near the river mouth at Ogmore (NPR)

Also today, a Jack Snipe was seen at the flooded scrapes SE of the main marsh area, at Kenfig salt marsh (DCo)

Late news from yesterday.

An adult Ring-billed Gull was again at Blackpill, yesterday evening. Showing on the sea at 17:00 (SM)

The Bonaparte's Gull was seen yesterday morning (GNS) and again mid-afternoon (per Birdguides) from the Heliport area

The Black-throated Diver was still present yesterday evening at Cosmeston CP (JS)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Great Grey Shrike still at Mynydd Marchywel

© A. John
The Great Grey Shrike was in the second of the 2 clear fell areas mentioned below, today. It showed fairly well for those joining me on the GOS field trip that was focused on seeing a Great Grey Shrike. Of the 7 that joined me today it was a lifer for 5 of them, which made the day feel extra special.
Lots of other upland species performed for us today in the stunning weather. Of particular note, generally lots of Stonechat pairs about, including some truly stunning males.
No further sign of the prob Two-barred Crossbill during extensive searches over the last 2 days.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Great Grey Shrike at Mynydd Marchywel

A Great Grey Shrike appeared from the fog at Mynydd Marchywel, early afternoon. It showed briefly in a dead tree before disappearing into the murk. Historically, Great Grey Shrikes favour two patches of clear fell in this area one at SN772044, where this bird was seen today, and another at SN765051.

Probable Two-barred Crossbill at Mynydd Marchywel

Rob Jones, Darren Coombs and me did a preliminary search for Great Grey Shrike at Mynydd Marchywel, today, ahead of the GOS field trip planned for Sunday. Around late morning Rob got a brief view of a Crossbill sp sitting on a Sitka Spruce with 3 or more Common Crossbills. Rob described the bird he saw as having bold white wing bars. However, he did not notice any white tips to the tertials on the bird before it flew. Neither Darren or I got views of the bird before it flew and it's flight took it directly away from us. None of us heard it's diagnostic call.
A further search of the area until dusk brought no further sign of the bird. Small groups of Common Crossbills were seen intermittently through the rest of the day in groups of 8, 5, 3, 3 & 2 plus some heard only birds. There is an area of Scott's Pine next to the forestry track at SN773044 and an area of  Larch 1km SW of it. Birds seemed to be commuting between the 2 areas.
This area is a bit of a hike but can be accessed via forestry tracks that join onto St Illtyd's Walk. The St Illtyd's Walk can be picked up just west of Crynant (SN78890455).

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ring-billed Gull at Loughor Bridge

An adult Ring-billed Gull was south of the Loughor Bridge, this morning. (PL, and later BS)
(c) Paul Larkin

Kumlien's Gull at Ogmore

An adult Kumlien's Gull was at the river mouth at Orgmore, late morning, before flying upriver. (NPR)

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Ring-billed Gulls at Blackpill

2 adult Ring-billed Gulls this evening at Blackpill - with the tide right out it was a 1km+ walk out to them, but well worth it as there was very little disturbance. Video HERE

Yesterday, the 2 Great White Egrets were still at Llanrhidian,

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Pair of Common Scoter on Lisvane Res this pm also 1st W Little Gull & pair of Goosander still Cardiff Bay mid afternoon [MCP & DRWG]. Male Black Redstart still on barrage.

Cardiff Bay

Early morning visit to Cardiff Bay Wetland. A good gathering of gulls, of note: 3rd winter yellow-legged gull, 1st winter med gull and 3 great black backed gulls. 1st winter little gull still in the bay.

Late News

5th March: A Ring Ouzel in the Llynfi Valley yesterday. [Thanks to CR via PP]. Also the 1st W Little Gull still in Cardiff Bay [per BirdGuides]

Monday, 3 March 2014

Ring-billed Gull still at Blackpill

© J Garside
James Garside sent in this photo of the Ring-billed Gull at Blackpill, from this evening. It was on the beach with the large gull flock at 17:00. To my knowledge this is the only record shot of this cracking bird, so far..

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Ring-billed Gull and Kumlien's Gull still at Blackpill

 The ad Ring-billed Gull was still present at Blackpill, today at 15:30. It was with a large gull flock on the beach, but took to the air very quickly after I picked it up. It proceeded to fly off west towards Upper Killay/Fairwood Common with a small, mixed group of gulls. There was no sign of it's return by dusk to the gull roost in the bay. A Kumlien's Gull did drop in towards dusk, presumably the same bird seen early in the week. The bill is perhaps a little advanced looking but otherwise it looks good for 2cy
 Barry took some nice video of the bird as it came to the beach to preen, briefly. Found on the link below Kumlien's Video - Click Here

Possible Kumlien's Gull, Cardiff

1st winter/2nd cy gull seen from the barrage between 08:45-09:10 02/03/2014. Bird was c.1 km out in the Bristol Channel when first seen and stayed a long way off shore for most of the time. Finally came in to about 500-600m and I managed some very distant shots. Last seen sat on the sea drifting down channel on the falling tide.
Small white-winged gull (smaller than accompanying Herring Gulls), round head seen when sat on the seas indicates Iceland/Kumlien's. Primaries paler than rest of wing feathers but still appeared dirty at the range seen.
Photos are 100% crops and the best of the ones taken so not much more to be gleaned.

Beached Bird Survey around Baglan Bay

The recent winter storms that have brought such riches to our shores in the form have rare or scarce birds have also brought much less pleasurable sightings. It has been well documented on local blogs and other media that some of our much loved seabirds have not faired the stormy season well. Maybe this harsh example of natural selection leaves the surviving population with a stronger gene pool, and I'm sure many of us will be looking forward to the summer ahead being the start of a speedy recovery. Hopefully, some of our warden friends on the Pembrokeshire Islands will be able to feed back brighter news come the end of the breeding season.
In some ways this natural disaster couldn't have come at a better time of year. With the beached bird surveys organised by the RSPB, locally by rep Alistair Flannagan, comprehensive data should be readily available to analyse this event in greater depth. Furthermore, I hope that we will be informed of any findings in due course.
My own sightings came from Crymlyn Burrows yesterday, and Aberavon Beach, today, where I received the able support of Becky Sharp. The birds found stranded were as follows :-
Crymlyn Burrows (1/3/14) - Pheasant (1), Kittiwake (1), Guillemot (29) and Razorbill (13)
Aberavon beach (2/3/14) - Kittiwake (2), Guillemot (7), Razorbill (3) and Puffin (3)
Paul Griffiths sent in the photo above showing the remains of a Puffin at Oxwich Beach, today. Along with the Puffin, Paul found Guillemot (3) and Razorbill (3) also washed up dead.

Black Brant at Penclawdd

Some info which hopefully will be of use for anyone intending to go looking for what has been a rather elusive Black Brant this winter. Until today there have only been a handful off sightings of this bird, all from the Landimore end of the main Brent feeding area (shown yellow), which does not get looked at very much by anyone as far as I know.  I do check the flocks fairly regularly between Llanrhidian and Penclawdd, so it seems it's probably been stuck down there all this time. Today on what was a very big tide, a large part of the usually dispersed flocks were congregated in the upper section of the estuary (shown red) feeding on flotsam, but I'm guessing as the tide dropped the bird ended up back down the Landimore end. Seems obvious but I should add that the chances of seeing the bird are massively increased on a high tide, the bigger the better.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Ad Ring-billed Gull and Kumlien's Gull (yesterday) at Blackpill

A pristine Ad S Ring-billed Gull was at Blackpill, this afternoon. On the beach at 16:15 before being flushed by the tide, when it relocated to the sea. It was watched drifting west until 17:20 at least (SLM)
A 1st W Kumlien's Gull was on the sea viewed from Blackpill, yesterday at 16:15 (PJM)

Burry Holms and Broughton

At Burry Holms an imm Iceland Gull, and a Purple Sandpiper on the rocks. On the beach many dead auks, including a Puffin. In Broughton Bay there were 2 imm Iceland Gulls. At Salthouse Point 2 Slavonian Grebes and 4 Mergansers.

Crymlyn Burrows and Mumbles

Crymlyn Burrows - My previous highest count of Sanderlings in West Glam was taken on 26th Feb 2011, during a Beached Bird Survey along Aberavon Beach. That day 529 Sanderlings were between the Neath River mouth and Afan River mouth. Today, during the same survey my previous record fell easily to 684 Sanderlings on Crymlyn Burrows. There were also 600+ Dunlins along with about 50+ Ringed Plover and 3 Grey Plover. On the falling tide small waders, mainly Dunlins, were flying in to feed along the shore which was great to see. Lots of gulls about too 300+ Common Gulls were notable and a 2nd W Med gull was the best I could manage. 3 Stonechat pairs in the dunes also very nice.
Later to Mumbles for an afternoon Harbour Porpoise watch saw Common Scoter (11), Eider (1f), Red-throated Diver (2) and Great Crested Grebe (1). No Porps!

Chiffchaff at Lavernock

Chiffchaff at lavernock churchyard.
Little gull at cardiff bay off prospect place