Tuesday, 23 February 2021

A well travelled Med Gull

 Green RN0X, at Newport yesterday, was ringed as a nestling, in the Vendee, W France, in July 2017. In Feb '18 it was in Faro, Portugal & in July & October that year in Brittany. In March 2020 it was at Langstone Harbour, Hants. & in May 20 back at it's natal site in the Vendee. By July 20 it was in Cornwall, in Dec Faro again & on Feb 1  was on it's way back via Asturias, N Spain before another overshoot to Newport.

Red Kite

From Peter Royle:

As I drove towards Screwfix at Merlin’s Bridge on Sunday afternoon, I spotted a Red Kite circling overhead and then, as I drove into the Screwfix car park, the Kite swooped down to collect something from the ground in front of the shop entrance, much to the surprise of an exiting customer.

After circling for a couple of minutes the Kite was set upon by two crows and after a short period of aerial combat in and out of the trees the Kite flew off with what looked like a number of sticks in its talons – a trophy from the Crows’ nest? Perhaps it had nesting thoughts of its own?

Monday, 22 February 2021

Haverfordwest - Peregrine, Goshawk, etc

Today that Peregrine was again back on the favourite branch north of the town centre after being missing for a few days. Today, tea was around 4pm and apparently a Collared Dove, judging by the feathers below, and clearly enough to fill the crop.

A few minutes earlier a male Goshawk circled briefly over the woods and flew eastwards over Morrisons car park. This is presumably the same bird that was around yesterday and has been seen a couple more times in the last two weeks in the valley, on one occasion circling the hospital chimney.

Yesterday the town's pair of Dippers were apparently checking out possible nest sites. A Grey Wagtail was singing loudly nearby and a Kingfisher flew past as I was watching them - almost too much to look at.

Earlier on the Sunday walk a Chiffchaff was lurking in the riverside scrub at the end of the wall by the car park at Higgons Well, which should be a good location, when allowed, for any photographers who don't like carrying their kit, as a Kingfisher regularly poses nearby and various waders make it up as far as the gasworks reeds and gravel bank.

Pembroke river.

 Walk along Pembs river today, 7 Cattle Egrets, 1 Little Egret Opposite Quoits pill in field of cattle,

On the river, Usual ducks Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Shoveler. Waders Redshank Oystercatchers, Curlew, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Great northern diver.

Merlin & Velvet Scoters in Druidston Area

From Toby Middlemist: On Sunday, a trip along the Druidston coastal path produced a single Merlin calling and a flock of 35 Common scoters with 2 Velvet Scoters. There was also a Stonechat and 3 Rock Pipits

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Grey wagtails as you don't normally see them...

 A dystopian view of two grey wagtails frolicking on the electricity cables this morning

Saturday, 20 February 2021

St Florence

 In a brief lull in the deluge this afternoon I popped out into the back garden only to see a Goshawk cruising past - only the second one I have seen from the house in 16 years. Sometimes you get lucky!


 Little egrets in the stubble field by Milton Water Works. We live in hope.....

Bob's post brought back some memories.....

Friday, 19 February 2021

Little Gull - Amroth

Made the effort to get down to Amroth late morning/early afternoon despite the rain to check through the gulls as I didn't get a chance to yesterday. The tide was high and gulls were mobile but there was a decent gathering by the outflow at the east side of Amroth. Mostly Black-headed Gulls but a 2CY Mediterranean Gull and a 2CY Kittiwake were nice to watch closely dip feeding in the surf. 

A quick glance out to sea and I immediately noticed a 2CY Little Gull flying in towards the beach. It flew west along the shore close in then turned south and headed out. Worth getting soaked for! 

Also I was sent the detail about the adult Black-headed Gull yellow 'TUCC' present at Amroth on the 15th and 16th Feb today. The bird was ringed as an adult in Lubczyna, NW Poland on 14/05/20, 1,316km away! 

Looking back 25 years ago this week: the "Sea Empress" oil spill


Today’s wet and increasingly stormy weather has provided us with a grim reminder that 25 years ago this week we were at the start of a major marine pollution incident, when the “Sea Empress” ran  aground near the entrance to Milford Haven on 15th February 1996. Over the coming days, it released 72,000 tonnes of crude and 480 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea, much of which spread around the south Pembs coast and into Carmarthen Bay.   

Over many weeks that followed, teams of people (professionals and volunteers, including some regular contributors to this Blog site) surveyed bird and other wildlife populations along large parts of the coast. For the bird surveys, we initially undertook daily WeBS-type counts of the Milford Haven Waterway and Cleddau Estuary system, plus checks of beaches and seabird colonies. Sea and air-based surveys also provided important information on where seabirds were congregating in largest concentrations.

Not many affected birds had been observed by 19th Feb., but this was all going to change very soon as the oil started to spread quickly around the coast, into Carmarthen Bay and beyond. By the spring bird casualties had been recorded over a wide geographical area of accessible coastline in south and west Wales, as well as from other areas such as Lundy and south-east Ireland. The true number of casualties probably being much higher than the c.7,000 birds that were known to have been impacted by the spring.

About 85% of the bird casualties were recorded in the first few weeks. The period between 23rd Feb. and 4th March being particularly hectic! Of 36 bird species known to have been affected, Common Scoters bore the brunt of the impact, with just under 4,600 known casualties. Many Auks were beginning to return to their colonies in late Feb. and, although c.1,600 Guillemots and c.340 Razorbills were known to have been hit, things could have been much worse had more of the oil spread farther out towards the major seabird islands. Only one Manx Shearwater and a single Puffin were known to have been directly impacted by the oil.

Details of numbers and locations of live and dead birds recovered were recorded each day, including the grim task of identifying corpses to species so that they could be bagged, catalogued and frozen for further study. Some of the less common/less numerous species affected included: Velvet Scoter (4), Red-throated Diver (81), Black-throated Diver (2), Great Northern Diver (8), Red-necked Grebe (3) and Eider (9).  

Collecting the records to help evaluate the environmental impacts of the spill was exhausting work, but it was a tremendous team effort. We shudder to think though, had “lockdown measures” been in place back then, goodness knows what might have been possible, or perhaps impossible!

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Newport Estuary

Water Pipit 1 Mediterranean gull 3ad w Common Gull 20 Bar Tailed Godwit 3 Common sandpiper 1 Little Egret 4 Curlew 50

Carew/Cresswell River and Carew Millpond

A large flock of Black-headed Gulls arrived on Carew Millpond, shortly after we had been speaking to Richard and Marilyn. Earlier, they had been feeding in a field being ploughed near Whitehill. We estimated at least 500-600 BHGs and not less than three Med. Gulls. These included an adult in summer plumage, one in transition to summer plumage and another still in winter plumage.  

Earlier, at Lawrenny, there had been impressive numbers of waders in the Black Mixen area: 2,400+ Dunlin, 700+ Lapwings, 600+ Golden Plovers (including birds that had moved down from the Daugleddau area?), 150+ Black-tailed Godwits, 70 Shelducks, 70+ Wigeon and three Great Crested Grebes.  

Carew Millpond gulls

We met Bob and Annie on the north side of the Millpond: very little about apart from a distant small group of large gulls. Shortly after we parted, a flock of 300+ mainly black-headed gulls flew in from an easterly direction and dropped onto the water. I didn't count them properly - I thought Bob and Annie would probably do that - but did pick up a nice adult Med gull with full black hood in the middle of them, plus the odd common gull. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Daugleddau - Garron Pill/Landshipping circuit

We did one of our longer circuit walks this morning, from home to Garron Pill and back along the shore to Landshipping. Spring was clearly in the air with many birds singing/displaying, including a pair of Nuthatches that were checking out an old Greater Spotted Woodpecker hole. A bit of renovation work will be needed at the entrance to make a snug fit, but there is plenty of estuary mud nearby so it should not take them too long. 

Along the estuary, there were about 160 Wigeon and a few hundred Teal feeding. Shelducks, in loose flocks, are clearly starting to pair up. Most of the Dunlin and Lapwings appear to have moved on in the last few days, with very few around this week. Small numbers of Curlew (less than 50) were feeding in a few places. We noted a partially leucistic bird that we have not seen before on the lower eastern Cleddau. Besides some white on its head and neck region it also has some white wing feathers. 

We flushed around 30 Snipe and 30 Skylarks along the shore but no Jack Snipe today. An overwintering Common Sandpiper was feeding on lug worms (or something similar) on the shore near Sam’s Wood. 

For much of the winter, most of the local Little Egrets have been feeding alongside cattle in pasture fields near Brickyard. Eleven were there a few days ago but only 7 today, the others were feeding along the shore. We don't see too many Med Gulls up this end, so it was nice to see an adult (already in full summer breeding plumage) resting offshore near Landshipping with Black-headed Gulls (still in winter plumage).      


Amroth colour ring sightings

The large numbers of gulls around Amroth in the last week has provided a great opportunity to look for colour rings. Over the last few days I have seen 8 colour ringed birds, 3 Herring Gulls (red, green and black), 2 Common Gulls, 2 Black-headed Gulls and an Oystercatcher. Of the 8 I managed to read 4 of them. 

On the 15th (and also the 16th) an adult Black-headed Gull yellow TUCC, from Poland but I am still awaiting the full details. Another adult Black-headed Gull on 16th, black 2AVL ringed as a chick in the West Midlands in 2016.

Also on the 15th an adult Common Gull white JE078 ringed as a chick in Rogaland, Norway in August 2018, 1,017km from Amroth!

The most exciting was the Oystercatcher yelloworange-white(KA) seen on the 15th. The bird was ringed as an adult near Selfoss, SW Iceland in May 2017, later that year, in August, it was seen in Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain. The following year it was back near Selfoss and again in 2019. In February 2020 it was seen again in Pontevedra then back near Selfoss in May last year. This is the first sighting of this bird in the UK presumably stopping off at Amorth on its migration back to Iceland!

Wildfowl moving - - Pen Caer


 The adult Mute Swans left the younger swans several days ago, 17 Mallard, 30-40 Wigeon, plenty of Teal and a male Shoveler on the pond now. 

(Rob Johns)


This morning a single Purple Sandpiper was on the new lifeboat station ramp with 9 Turnstones with a further 3 Purple Sandpipers on the old lifeboat station together with 7 Oystercatchers.

On South Beach 14 Sanderling and 12 Ringed Plover, 3 Great Crested Grebe close in and a Great Northern Diver flew past.

Black Redstart - Hakin, Milford Haven

 A real surprise this morning was a Black Redstart - pecking along at the side of the road in an ordinary residential street at Glebelands, in Hakin, Milford Haven. Unfortunately, the bird flew off before I could get a photo.

This morning there were two Great Crested Grebes in Gelliswick Bay.