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.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Little bunting - Forest Farm

The little bunting was showing very well on and off between 1605 and 1640. It was very quiet with no-one around and the bird was very active. Earlier there had been no sign for most of the afternoon. During this period the bird seemed to rest / preen in the trees immediately behind the feeders before flying in to feed at the base of the hide.

It looks fit and healthy which begs the question, when is it going to leave?

Request Kumlien's Gull record flight shots 2014

It's probably fair to say that separating a Kumlien's Gull from an Iceland Gull is anything but straightforward. A good deal of time has passed since last year's major influx of white-wingers, a fair proportion of which seem to have originated from North America. The numbers of Kumlien's Gulls being recorded last year seemed to be remarkable and it certainly stood out amongst previous years and this year. Not surprisingly then that this rarer race of the Iceland Gull requires good supportive evidence to be recorded as an official record, and here in Glamorgan WRP decide over which ones will make the grade. I have recently started trawling through photos that have been posted online on this blog or the Bird News Services to try and find useful record shots. The experts in this area have given a fairly simple requirement for Kumlien's Gulls to be separated from Iceland Gulls safely. This involves having a good quality shot which shows the bird in flight. In particular the flight shot should demonstrate that the outer primaries look darker than the inner primaries, and that the outer webs of the outer primaries look dark compared to the inner webs. My understanding is an Iceland Gull type that looks very dark and captured well on camera standing or sitting will not be enough to confirm it as a Kumlien's Gull. Photos showing an open wing are crucial.

No-one has sent to me any descriptions relating to Kumlien's Gulls from from 2014 so far. A few people have responded to my request for shots of flying birds. Thus far I am confident that two 2nd Cal year birds ranged widely between Blackpill, Crymlyn Burrows and Fendrod Lake. Although one of the birds seems right on the margin of being identified to race safely. Caution might prevail there. Both birds will be submitted as 2nd Cal year Kumlien's and I think I have enough photos to present a case for both.

The Burry Holms Kumlien's Gull from 2014 are very poorly represented with photos showing them in flight. Another way to write that is that no-one has provided me any flight shots of Kumlien's Gulls from Burry Holms in 2014, and sadly I never connected with one there. My request therefore is for anyone who has in their possession decent flight shots from this site please send them to me. Thank you.
Kumlien's Gull Fendrod Lake 23/3/14

Friday, 27 March 2015


Just an update. Cd you please refer to the Glamorgan Birds sighting page for full details. I have been in touch with Madeleine and she would be very happy for anyone connected with Steve to come along to the funeral, which is likely to be 7th or 8th April. She is hoping to hire KNNR centre for people to gather afterwards to celebrate his life and work there. She will let me know details as soon as they are settled and I will post them on the other page where I have created a sticky post that will always be at the top. Thanks
For info, the funeral will be on Weds 8th April at All Saints Church, Victoria Rd, Porthcawl at 1:45.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Cardiff Bay Bonaparte's Gulls

Managed to get shots of both birds in the same light and at the same (unfortunately extreme) range this afternoon. You can see how visible the P9 marks are on the one compared with the other and the variation in black smudge shape. Sadly the two in one shot never came off because as one drifted off up river the other one took its place.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Steve Moon

It is with very great sadness that I have just learned that Steve Moon passed away this morning. I have no other details.  He did a great deal for birding in our county and will be sorely missed. Our sincere condolences go out to Madeleine and his family.

Ogmore Bonaparte's Gull 2013 - revisited

© J. Slocombe

© J. Slocombe
Jeff Slocombe has kindly provided some shots taken January 2013 of the Ogmore Bonaparte's Gull. The interesting thing is that this bird seems to show only the left P9 is marked. My photos of this bird give support that the right wing showed no mark on P9.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cardiff Bay Bonaparte's Gull

Attached some better resolution pictures to add to the montage from today.

Also attached is a photo I took of one of the birds last March, it appears to have a smudge of black on the right P9 very similar to that in Mark's photos from today. Would love to know if these marks are genetic and there like a fingerprint each year or whether they can vary from year to year.

There are a few photos of previous birds available on Iris unfortunately as the images are only 640 pixels it's a bit difficult to get much detail on them. To me the photos of the 2009 and 2012 birds look remarkably similar to the bird Andy and I photographed this year and those of the 2010 like the bird in Mark's photos and mine and Jim Almond's from last March.

Interesting stuff, going to have to spend a bit of time down there and see if I can get some more photos!


and the bird from last March:


Bonaparte's Gulls in Cardiff Bay - 2 bird theory

 Looks like 2 different Bonaparte's Gulls at Cardiff Bay today. 4 of mine from this afternoon above and 3 from Peter Howlett taken this morning below. The dark mark on the outer primaries showing very distinctly on Peter's photos but only a slight trace on the right wing on the bird I saw this afternoon. Both probably returning birds from last year, but certainly worth checking any photos from this year and previous years to see if a clearer picture will emerge.
© P.Howlett
© P. Howell
© P. Howlett
This bird does show a slightly extended hood & wing pattern which the top photos do not. There were two birds present last year on 30th March 2014, when at least 5 different observers saw two together. 

Cardiff Bay Iceland Gull

For the record a sitting and a flight shot of the Iceland Gull I came across at Cardiff Bay on 22nd.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Spring in Spain.

Mike Powell, Phil Bristow, Rich Andrews and I visited Extremadura, Spain, in March. Trip report on the Llynfi valley blog here -

Ruff at Wernffrwd

Short video clip of yesterday's Ruff in front of Marsh Farm on the morning high tide HERE

Avocets at Whiteford

Belated news of 2 Avocets seen feeding in front of the hide at Whiteford on the evening of the 17th March by Corrinne Manning. She said she will provide a description, which I'll forward on to Mark.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Iceland Gull - Cardiff Bay Barrage

I was fortunate to come across a 1stW-going-in-to-2nd yr Iceland Gull this morning just as I was about to walk over the locks. It was sitting unobtrusively at the base of the long inner jetty. A boat flushed it and it flew over into the open water just inside the main barrage. I put the news out and fortunately Lol Middleton, who was nearest, got there in time to take some pix, as did Alan Cripps, before sit flew off and eventually landed somewhere in CBWR. Alan's photo is on the South Wales Birding Facebook page. Latest news is that it few back to the barrage and landed on the row of orange floats where Andy Burns got some pretty good pix:
which I think relieve me of the need to write a full description. :-)

PS looks like this might be the bird that Phil Bristow saw earlier in the morning at Sluice Farm, heading d/c.
For convenience here's Alan pic off FB.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Kenfig Saltmarsh

The Kenfig Saltmarsh is a fairly remote birding location in Glamorgan, yet still receives good coverage by David Carrington, Darren Coombs, Neil Donaghy and a number of other birders. However, to some, the location is a bit of a mystery. There are number of ways to access it, but if unfamiliar with the location then head to where the Wales Coastal Path crosses the Kenfig River.
The open water and reedbed make it good for wildfowl throughout the year, but it's not always easy to see them. Indeed, watching the site carefully for a couple of hours can still leave you wondering if you might have missed something! During passage period it's fairly good for waders, though this is often determined by the water levels. This year the water levels seem much more favourable for waders compared to last year when the water levels remained very high throughout the summer and autumn. The last few years have seen Woodchat Shrike and Wryneck in the area but the location is best known for the waterbirds it's attracted, such as Green-winged Teal, Garganeys, Purple Herons, Wood Sandpiper, etc
Wildfowl - are attracted to the open water and reedbed. When the water levels are high there can be good numbers of wildfowl found south of the reedbed and can be viewed fairly safely from the haul road or dunes next to it. Too much disturbance or low water levels generally force the wildfowl into the pools within the reedbed. These pools are only viewable from the edge of Morfa Tip. Birds such as the recent Garganeys are often fairly mobile and can be seen flying between the different areas of open water within the reedbed, and also to or from the open water south of the main reedbed. If going down to see a bird like a Garganey or Green-winged Teal it's best to expect a wait of an hour or two, checking all the open water areas, before the bird appears.
Waders - from this area, in my experience, are only found in the area south of the main reedbed and generally only when the water levels have dropped enough to expose some muddy edges. This area is often referred to as the 'scrape', although my understanding is that the area has developed naturally, perhaps aided by the cows periodically visiting the area to drink and graze. The cows often flush everything from the 'scrape' when they use it and that has often forced the more uncommon species away completely. However, in the last few years a number of really nice scrapes have been created in the dunes nearby and if they retain water over the summer months it might encourage more passage waders to stick around longer than in previous years.
If visiting the area and you see a bird that has already been reported or find a decent bird then please make a note of where the bird was seen. The boundary between East Glam and West Glam runs through 'Kenfig saltmarsh', and it's really helpful for David Gilmore and myself to know which area the bird was seen in. Often, particularly for wildfowl, a sighting might involve a bird visiting both recording areas; informing us of that will be most appreciated and helpful.
I've heard a few predictions for this year at Kenfig Saltmarsh including Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Spotted Crake and Black-winged Stilt. Hopefully one or more of those will come true in addition to the completely unexpected species! To finish I should mention that the location is home to a number of breeding species of birds, and other wildlife, that are susceptible to disturbance and so I would ask that no-one enters scrape or reedbed. The birds that turn up here are invariable easy to see by watching the area from a safe distance.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Garganeys and Scaup at Kenfig and a partial eclipse

Following on from the premature partial eclipse at Taff's Well, yesterday, the partial eclipse today was far more predicable. Lots of notable duck sightings from the region and unsurprisingly the comments querying eclipse plumage came thick and fast. In truth the comments were more entertaining than the astronomical event and will certainly help me remember the day better.
On arrival to the Kenfig saltmarsh around 09:00 it wasn't long before a single drake Garganey was in flight over the reeds that landed in the open water within the reedbed, but out of sight. It wasn't for another 15mins that it reappeared, but this time alongside a second drake Garganey. Since the date when a single drake was seen on the 12/3/15 this is only the second time that 2 drakes have been seen together, the first time was 13/4/15. Presumably the birds today involve the same 2 from a week ago, though it's impossible to know for certain. In addition to the Garganeys there was a good selection of duck gathered on the pools inside the reedbed including a pair of Shoveler, 4 Gadwalls, 20+ Teal and Mallards.
It seems remarkable to me that I only saw my first Garganey in Glamorgan last year! However, it's perhaps not surprising that I finally managed to catch up with the species in the county recently, when considering how frequently it's been recorded over the last few years. Scaup on the other hand seem to be getting more difficult to catch up with. So with news of a female Scaup found by Neil Donaghy at Kenfig Pool this morning, I was tempted to make the effort to see it. The appearance of a dullish eye-colour make me think this is a 2nd cal year female and the first Scaup I've seen since 2012!
This how the partial eclipse looked projected onto an iPad by using a telescope. On reflection a fairly eventful day.

Lesser Scaup and friend...

Taken yesterday at Cosmeston - Lesser Scaup to rear , Pochard/Tufted hybrid? in front.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


I have just heard a report of an immature White-tailed Eagle [escape?] flying up the Taff Valley at Taff's Well being mobbed by many birds. The sighting was at approx 14.15. Bird was seen for a couple of minutes. No further information.

Monday, 16 March 2015

GG Shrike at Bwlch-y-Lladron

Nice find by Colin Richards on 14th Mar - a GG Shrike at Bwlch-y-Lladron [SN944032[, exactly the same spot where he found one in 2011. This is at the south side of Hirwaun Common, walkable to from the Rhigos hairpins. A couple of record shots from his compact camera:

Friday, 13 March 2015

Garganey at Kenfig Saltmarsh

Drake Garganey at Kenfig Saltmarsh 12th March by D. Coombs. Two drakes were reported there today (13th) by N. Donaghy. It seems that this site, regularly watched, is turning up some great birds.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Little Gull : Cardiff Bay

Couple of photos of the adult winter plumage Little Gull on the River Taff taken approx 150m up river of the A4232 road bridge on Sat 7th March.....

Glaucous Gull : Porthcawl

Couple of photos of the Glaucous Gull with damaged left leg taken at Coney Beach, Porthcawl on Sat 7th March........

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Brent Geese at Breaksea Point

 Here's a picture from a couple of weeks ago
Pale and Dark bellied Brent Geese

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Cardiff Bay - Evening

17.00 - 18.00

Little gull (ad) still present on River Taff approx. 100yds n/of roadbridge. 5 med gulls (2 1st win; 2nd win; 2 ads) with good sized black-head flock. Also 4th win / near ad yellow-legged gull dropped in for a while.

Glaucous Gull at Coney Beach 03032015 long stayer with broken left leg

Cardiff Bay

Lesser scaup with 102 tufted duck off the Ice Rink. The flock was joined by a drake gadwall, a bird that I haven't seen in Cardiff Bay for quite a while.

On River Taff 100yds north of the roadbridge - 1 adult little gull showing very well, 2nd winter med gull and 3 goosander (1 drake).