Monday, 23 November 2015

Guillemots at Castlemartin peninsula colonies on Friday; some Carew/Creswell and Daugleddau observations on Sunday

We do seem to be seeing earlier and earlier arrivals of guillemots these days, back at their breeding colonies in winter. Over the last few years large numbers have been occasionally reported back on the cliffs in mid-late November, some of these sightings have been posted on the BLOG.   

On Friday 20 November, Mike Alexander recorded some observations of such an early winter colony attendance by large numbers of guillemots at Stackpole Head and Elegug Stacks that day. 

Mike first saw large numbers of birds at 10.00 hrs at Stackpole Head, all the visible ledges were occupied and more or less full.  Interestingly, at Stackpole most birds had white (winter-plumage) heads, a few were in moult and small numbers in breeding plumage.  

Observations at Stack Rocks were from 13.00 hrs.  Most birds were on the top of the large (main) stack.  There were scattered groups on other smaller ledges, nothing on the small stack or lower north facing slopes on the large stack.  

Most birds had departed by 15.00 hrs, but a few remained until almost dark. In contrast to the birds at Stackpole, most were in breeding plumage or late stages of moult. You can see these quite clearly in the lower one of Mike's excellent photographs.   

Elsewhere, at Carew/Cresswell estuary on Sunday afternoon, there were good numbers of Teal and wigeon present (several hundred of both species). The main curlew and redshank roosts were quite well-attended: c. 130 curlews and 60+ redshanks there. A dozen or so grey plovers were also present, plus c. 100 golden plovers and in excess of 500 hundred lapwings. 

Many of the latter two species were feeding in nearby arable/stubble fields, which were stuffed with finches (chaffinches mainly) plus good numbers of meadow pipits, skylarks, several reed buntings and at least 25 stock doves. Small numbers of feeding redwings and fieldfares were present and large numbers of starlings (several thousand) too. These all headed off towards the Slebech reed-bed roost before dusk.

Shelduck have recently started to return to the area but only 4 were seen on Sunday. Along the Daugleddau, there were 2 black-tailed godwits, a more unusual species along this particular stretch.