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, 30 November 2015

Lavernock 30th Nov

For the record, here is a shot of the Pom Skua noted by Gareth in the post below, taken by Lol Middleton and posted here with his permission.

Lavernock Seawatch

Seawatch from 0800 - 1230. Others in attendance who might add more. 1 pomarine skua (pale phase adult with incomplete spoons) - lingered off the point for at least a couple of hours giving excellent views, was undoubtedly the highlight. Additional sightings as following:

1 distant skua sp. (prob pom)
4 bonxie
3 guillemot
1 brent goose
3 wigeon
150+ kittiwakes

Interestingly two tankers heading up the estuary were followed closely by flocks of some 30 kittiwakes each. I am sure these flocks encouraged the skuas into the estuary.

My first seawatch here for a while as I have previously been disappointed by the lack of birds. I now have renewed faith in Lavernock.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Whooper Swan at Fendrod Lake (22/11/15)

© P. Smith
Nice capture of the Whooper Swan by Peter Smith at Fendrod Lake, found at 08:00am yesterday by Rob Taylor. Whoopers at this location very rarely stay long and this bird was no different, having departed by 09:00.

CBWR Firecrest

Great to see this from the boardwalk at 08:30 this morning. In the bushes for about 10 minutes then last seen looking like it was going to work its way up the hedge towards the yacht club gates.

Managed a couple of shots for the record.

Great grey shrikes.

                         The Afon argoed bird from Saturday.
                        The Mynydd margam bird from Sunday.
                        Possibly the same bird? The distance between sites is about 3km.
                        Both photos by Paul Tabor.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Snow Goose feeding / lookout strategy

Mention has been made about the waryness or was it awareness of the Snow Geese at KNNR this week.
A feature of this is their sharing of eating / drinking so that some are aware and some are engaged in feeding
or drinking and then they swap over role as a sub - group.  In this way the sentry's can alert those otherwise engaged.
These shots were taken in early Nov. in Manitoba, Canada - and these are truly wild geese - however they showed no interest in me at a distance of about 30 yards - so maybe they are not that wary after all?


News of a Pom Skua past Lavernock this am [GNS]

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

EGBR 2104

Not bird news but pleased [and relieved!] to announce that the 2014 East Glam Bird Report is now with the printer. Just awaiting a costing before giving the go ahead to print but I took away a proof copy which he prepared while I watched him in action. Impressive.

Snow Geese at Kenfig Pool

© N.Donaghy
6 Snow Geese were feeding in the fields along Kenfig Pool's east shore this morning. An unusual record to say the least and their origin will in all likelihood remain a mystery. A series of strong Atlantic weather systems, large flocks of feral geese (including Snow Geese) in Holland and a local occasionally free flying captive flock (up to 9 birds) that spent the night at the Gnoll Rugby Ground on 20th October might all come into consideration when trying to work out where they've come from.
Of the observers that have seen them, the common theme is that they appear wary.
Thanks to ND, JC, GP et al for the reports.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Water Pipit at Penclawdd

When I was scanning the estuary from the car park just west of Dalton's Point this morning, there were 6 or more Rock/Water Pipits flitting around calling constantly, but never landing in view. One or two at least appeared to have striking white bellies so I played Water Pipit song on my phone and after about 5 minutes a rather smart Water Pipit landed about 5m from the car. Great binocular views, but unfortunately by the time I'd focussed my scope and got the camera on my phone ready it had disappeared. I must take the proper camera next time.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Lavernock Seawatching - 7.45am - 10.45am (all birds down channel unless stated)

Curlew 9, Razorbill 1, Guillimot 1, Auk sp 1, Kittiwake 27+, Arctic Skua (up), Common Gull 4, Gannet 3, Great Skua 1, Common Scoter 3, Leach's Storm Petrel 1; down channel past Monkstone then appeared to turn and go back up channel.

Leach's Petrel past Porthcawl

Couple of record shots of the Leach's Petrel that flew past the shelter at Porthcawl at 11:50. It took a good while for the assembled sea watchers to be rewarded with a Leach's Petrel, while it seemed everywhere else in the Bristol Channel was chalking them up. In truth it was a very quiet session with birds of note few and far between.
07:00 - 12:30 Common Scoter (8+), Great Northern Diver (2), Diver sp (1), Great Crested Grebe (1), Fulmar (4), Gannet (7+), Leach's Petrel (1), Golden Plover (1), Sanderling (c20), Curlew (1), Turnstone (13), Kittiwake (40+), Guillemot (3) & Auk sp (20+)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Great grey shrike at Afon argoed this morning.

                  Record shot by Dean Mceachen.

Strange garden birds!

Seen in a garden in Fairwater, Cardiff 8/11/15 by Philip Tremlett. A wanderer from a Vale of Glamorgan farm perhaps?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Great Grey Shrike at Afan Argoed

At least one today at Afan Argoed Forest Park in an area that has held them previously (SS827938). One bird seen well at close range, but there was also a second bird seen in flight that landed distantly that might also have been a Great grey Shrike, though not confirmed. (EJo, RJo)

Wood Lark - Lavernock

Andy Burns and Lol Middleton had a fly-over Wood Lark at Lavernock this morning. Andy got some good conclusive flight shots which I have lifted off Facebook - with Andy's permission. Assume this is was one of the birds that seem to be around that area at the moment.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Black-necked Grebe off Porthcawl

07:00 to 11:00 (MHi, DCo)

Another session this morning was more rewarding but with slightly lower numbers of birds passing. The star bird by far was a cracking winter plumage Black-necked Grebe, giving a fly by appearance. Passing range was well inside the yellow bouy, but sadly not stopping before lost to view heading down channel. Seemed a little unfair to have another late Manx but no Balearic, and for the second day running the Auks passing close enough to be identified were all Guillemots.

Wigeon (2), Common Scoter (4), Fulmar (1), Manx Shearwater (1), Gannet (9), Shag (1 ad), Kittiwake (c80), Guillemot (c55) and Auk sp. (c60)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Porthcawl seawatch

07:00 to 11:00 (MHi, MSC, GP)

Common Scoter (5), Great Crested Grebe (1), Fulmar (5), Manx Shearwater (4), Gannet (11), Shag (1 juv), Sanderling (18), Turnstone (10), Mediterranean Gull (4 (2xad, 2x2ndW)), Kittiwake (144), Guillemot (151) and Auk sp (100+)

All birds passing down channel.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Pallid Swift at Glyn-Neath

The 5th of November is fast becoming a memorable date for Glamorgan Birders. In the not so distant past the Isabelline Wheatear turned up on this date, back in 2011. This year Eddie Hunter found a Pallid Swift from the comfort of his home (nice garden tick!). I've already freed the diary for 5/11/16 to spend the day birding.

Anyway, after last night's mild ID uncertainty, today the Pallid Swift gave itself up to a few brave Glamorgan listers as well as some of the finest Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire have to offer. Appearing to fly from roost in a tree at the playing fields off Addoldy Road at 08:02, Rob Jones spread news that the bird was still present. Not long afterwards Phil Bristow and myself were watching it drifting over the rooftops nearby. Over the next 2 hours the weather remained overcast, but the cloud was higher than yesterday afternoon. In these conditions the bird seemed to prefer feeding well above the rooftops, which meant it was generally much easier to keep track of its whereabouts. However, these same conditions found it ranging fairly widely and it was seen NE of Glyn-Neath at 09:30. Rain started to fall around 09:30 and the cloud level dropped, this brought the Pallid Swift back over Gellidawel Road, where it had been showing best for most of the morning. By about 10:00 the bird had drifted out of view low over the rooftops and hasn't been reported since.

The consensus of opinion on site was that it looked good for Pallid Swift. Some occasional brighter areas in the cloud would allow the bird's pale plumage tones to be seen, but rarely much more detail as it kept it's distance. The jizz of the bird always appeared good for Pallid, particularly the broadness of the wings with blunt tips. The languid flight action was noticeable, and comparison of sorts was made possible when an overhead Peregrine caused it fly more frantically - resembling a Common Swift with fast action. After the danger past the flight immediately returned to an unhurried action with distinct periods of gliding.

The distance between observer and bird meant that plumage detail was always tricky to make out. However, the photo above (taken at 08:27) caught the bird when it was fairly low down. A slightly raised right wing has allowed the underwing flight feathers to be partially illuminated. This photo shows pale fringed greater and median coverts, and the contrast between them and the lesser coverts appear obvious. Therefore, in my view, the combination of this plumage feature and the structural features of the bird, together with its flight action and behaviour mean this bird can be considered a Pallid Swift.

Obviously this will have to go before BBRC for an official judgement on the bird's credentials, but I'm confident it will produce a favourable decision. In the meantime I would like to pass on my congratulations to Eddie Hunter for delivering the latest addition to the Glamorgan List.

A few lucky Glamorgan & Carmarthenshire birders at Glyn-Neath on a wet Friday in November!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Swift species over Glyn-Neath

Following a call at 14:40 from Eddie Hunter regarding a Swift species flying over Glyn-Neath this afternoon, I raced up to see it hoping for a Pallid. I got there around 15:30 and even though Eddie had seen the bird again briefly before I got there, it took us until 16:30 to see it again and pin it down.

Never seen Pallid before so armed with camera I rattled off as many shots as I was able to take. It showed at close range over the rooftops and School off New Street but the light was tragic and constant drizzle not helping either.

A few looks at it through the bins made me feel it was paler than I'd expect a Common Swift to look and that upper wing coverts were boldly fringed pale making the inner wing look scaly. The overall upper tones of the bird seeming fairly concolourous with no obvious saddle. Away from the upper wing I did not particularly notice a scaly look to the body plumage of notice any underwing features. Flight appeared more relaxed and lethargic, it appeared a bulky bird too.

Photos now processed show that no plumage features can be assessed safely from them. However, the shape and structure of the bird does make it look interesting. A few features to concentrate on are the relative length of t4 and t5, the broadness of the wing towards the tip, the bulk of the body and size of the bill. T4 & T5 seem fairly similar in length as expected for Pallid. Wings do appear broad towards the tip which is good for Pallid. The body appears fairly heavy which is good for Pallid. And the bill appears very prominent and big which is good for Pallid. Whether the structural appearance of this bird is enough to ID safely I'm not sure. Barry Stewart shares my sentiments and I thank him for his comments. We agree from the photos it probably is a Pallid but without the support of plumage features fear it might not be enough to be certain. Perhaps others might like to comment?

Kenfig Yellow-browed Warbler from 11 October 2015

While clearing old shots from my camera I was surprised to find that one of my speculative efforts did actually catch one of the two birds.

Sunday, 1 November 2015


Lesser Scaup @ CBWR
Ring Ouzel @ Lavernock LNR
Black Redstart [2] @ Penarth Marina

Water Pipit @ Ogmore Est.

Lesser Scaup @ CBWR
Firecrest along Penarth Coastal path
Black Redstart 2 x male @ Penarth Marina
Wood Lark [1] & Bramblings @ Lavernock LNR
Bramblings @ Lavernock Point
Hawfinch @ Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff
Also good numbers of Redwing & Fieldfare