Thursday 30 November 2023

Marloes Mere - Harriers

A three harrier day at Marloes was reward for enduring the bitter wind. First up was a juvenile Marsh Harrier seen from the car park that had a look around the eastern end of the mere before settling down in the largest grassy island in the marsh to the north-east of the Britton hide. The golden crown could be seen glinting in the sun as the wind ruffled it. It would not be visible from the hide or by the birds on the water.

About 30 minutes later, and seen from the barbed wire gate, a juvenile ringtail Hen Harrier, definitely not a Pallid, flew in from the west and did a single meandering low, slow lap before disapearing back towards the west. After another 30 minutes, and this time seen from inside the hide and with the camera out of the bag, a male Hen Harrier flew in from the west with much commotion amongst the ducks and crows. One crow persisted in chasing the harrier up the hill and around the fields south or Trehill farm, which caused the harrier to twist and turn giving good views and showed a mantle with a little brownish tint. It too disappeared off to the west.

A little later the juvenile Marsh Harrier reappeared, apparently having taken off from the grassy island and put up lost of duck and Snipe, but quickly settled down again in long grass and was lost from sight. This time it chose the marshy grass on the north side of the mere at the end of the lane to Trehill farm.

Also on the mere were about 450 Herring Gulls with a single Lesser Black Back. One of the juveniles was apparently frozen on top of the ice, remaining standing on the same spot for at least an hour, and was left standing there when the flock departed to feed on the fields below the farm. Five Tufted Ducks, at least 39 Shoveler, at least four Gadwall plus a couple of dozen Wigeon and Teal as well as three Little Grebe, a few Coot and Moorhen made up the rest of the water birds. There were no geese today. About 120 Lapwings and 500 Starlings were in a mixed feeding flock with corvids in the fields west of Trehill farm, which was disturbed by an unseen predator.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Bosherston - follow-up to the odd duck

Thanks to Gary and Sarah for their report of their birding and, in particular, their notice of the unusual duck at Bosherston. So as not to leave such an intriguing sighting hanging in the blog - some further detail here as a follow up. I missed the Lesser Scaup earlier this month, so it was worthwhile going down to the lakes yesterday to have a look at this new bird. It was not hard to find, showing well on its own in the eastern arm. I also found it to be very distinct from the other Tufties present - black on the nail only, somewhat slighter in appearance and no tuft. The slight appearance was probably enhanced also by its frequent habit of stretching its neck. It was keeping itself to itself and, on one occasion, was being bullied by a young Moorhen. My initial thought was yes, this could well be a Lesser Scaup. I took a few photos for later confirmation - crops below. Looking in detail at the photos last night I'm less sure of the ID, which may have been coloured at the time by looking through the 'rose tinted binoculars of expectation', and leaning towards an unusual Tuftie. For example, the small white patch around the base of the bill and a lack of grey in the feathers suggests a juvenile bird (if L Scaup) - in which case is the yellow eye problematic at this stage? More experienced people to me may be able to make the call from the photos below.  Otherwise the jury is out until someone manages to get a good look at the wing detail. Whatever the outcome, it was an interesting bird and worth going to have a look at - thanks for the tip off.

Monday 27 November 2023

This weekend

From Gary and Sarah Manning: Just spent a good few days in Pembrokeshire, with a bit of birding thrown in. Highlights are as follows:

Saturday 25th November- Marloes Mere to deer Park. Nothing massively unusual.  A peregrine at sea from Deer Park.  Various chough sightings including 4 at the deer park, but a flock of 15 in the field behind the new bank at Marloes was good. 32 grey seal on the beaches at deer park included 2 late pups that were still pretty small.

Sunday 26th November 
Broad Haven caravan park - a mixed flock included female blackcap, chiffchaff, several goldcrest and a firecrest.
Little Haven 2 divers off the point just a bit distant to be certain on id,  but I'm erring towards black throated. A school of at least 8 and possibly more dolphins ( probably bottlenose)  put up a small raft of 8 common scoter- no wing bars noted. 6 or so gannets also present

Monday 27th November
Bosherston lily ponds. Female blackcap, chiffchaff,  2 chough feeding on the grass area where the old house was- not seen them there before.

Odd duck. Seen returning to Bosherston car park on first arm -initial impression was a possibly gc grebe- clearly long necked . A binoculars view suggested a slim necked bird with some white around the base of the bill, but not much. Head was rounded in profile- not obviously crested. Possible light band around base of the neck with almost chestnut colouration of the breast feathers. Back was darker brown with lighter flanks. At no stage did it dive, flap its wings or interact with anything else. It was not with the tufties. It was observed in decent light through Swarovski 10x42 bins for 5-10 minutes

I've spent a lot of time this week looking at tufted ducks trying to pick out ring neck ducks at home here in Somerset and it just didn't quite fit. I didn't have means to photograph it, but my gut feeling is it that it isn't a tufted and may be a scaup species. Although I have seen both greater and lesser Scaup in the UK I have not seen a Female / juvenile in this plumage.

Apologies if it turns put to be an odd tufty, but I should let you know and hopefully someone else can connect with it, and do a better job of identifying it than me.

Spotted Redshank - Hook

 A Spotted Redshank was on the Western Cleddau at Hook Quay this afternoon (bird on the Boulston side). Also, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.


From Phil Spence: Hardly believed my eyes, but I saw a swallow flying east over Tenby this morning. Got a second glimpse a minute or so later so could have been a pair. The latest I have ever seen a swallow over Tenby before was 30 October last year.


I would just like to draw your attention to the latest edition of the

Pembrokeshire Bird Group and BTO newsletter, November 2023


You can access it using the "Newsletter" button on the right, and if you want to sign up to regular email copies, then scroll to the bottom and enter your details.

Marloes Mere

As I arrived yesterday morning, 30+ snipe rising from the marsh announced the presence of a young Hen Harrier. This bird continued to harass snipe and ducks while I was there, at one point landing on the reeds immediately in front of the Britton hide. No swans on this visit but plenty of Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler, 4 Tufted Duck a Gadwall and loads of gulls (mainly Herring).


Saturday 25 November 2023

Newport parrog

 A single swallow headed south over the parrog and a red throated diver was fishing around the rocks by the old lifeboat station this afternoon.


 A single Whooper Swan flew south across the lagoon and on towards Dale around midday today.


Two Whooper Swan flew northwest at 1130. 

Jack Snipe - Marloes Mere

I spent almost three quarters of an hour in the Britton Hide at Marloes Mere earlier today, mainly looking through dozens of Snipe to see if I could find any Jack Snipe among them. The photos that I took show at least one Jack Snipe, which was at the far right of the nearest reeds to the right of the hide. During the time that I was there, a Ringtail Harrier flew over putting most of the Snipe and Wildfowl up, but it was going too fast for me to get a clear view as to which kind it was. 

I could see no sign of the Whooper Swans that have been reported recently, but there were still some Tufted Duck present amongst the wildfowl. It was great to have a much clearer view from the Britton Hide.

On another note, I spotted a male Pintail amongst the Wigeon at the Gann earlier this week.

Corse - more Whoopers

Two whoopers were on the flooded fields at the inland end of the Corse, along with the usual two mute swans. The mutes headed west, settling in front of the hide, the whoopers whooped quietly to themselves for ten more minutes before also heading west, though they kept on going. Noting Skokholm's 11.30 sighting, the Corse Two flew west at around 10.20. Quiet otherwise, a sparrowhawk the only raptor on offer at least while I was around. 

Lapwings in the distance

Garn Gelli

Decent passage of wood pigeon this morning, I counted 1835 in just over an hour in flocks of between 10 and 300.

On the sea a red throated diver, first heard in flight and then picked up close in from the coast path, along with a couple of great crested grebe.

Also a small pod of common dolphin, minimum of 12 individuals but possibly up to 20.

Friday 24 November 2023


Met Brian at the Mere as light was fading, managed to get a few pics of the Swans, one in particular seemed to have  different head /bill profile, though it`s stained head may have been the reason for the contrast. Anyone doing bill "finger printing"? Also a  Polecat shot across the track in front of us close to the cafe.

Whoopers, Marloes Mere

Yesterday's single Whooper had been joined by 4 others this afternoon bringing the total to five. A Mute swan was keeping them company. Mere looking really good at the moment, plenty of water and plenty of wildfowl included 5 Tufted duck (2 male). There seemed to be total panic as I approached with 1000s of birds wheeling around, starlings going one way, ducks another gulls everywhere, couldn't see the culprit but suspect a Peregrine seen later towards Martin's Haven was the cause. 2-3 Merlin were zipping around the mere and the wildflower field at dusk. The 200 Lapwing and 100 Golden plovers were still in Trehills fields along with 400 Herring gulls.

Yesterday I had 3 unsatisfactory views of a ringtail between the mere and Martin's Haven, no sign of anything tonight. 

Carew Cheriton

Two cattle egrets feeding with six little egrets alongside the beef cattle  in the field next to our house. Red kite overhead. Too far away to tell what the egrets were catching, but judging by the gape and the bulge in this one's crop it took some swallowing - presumably amphibians (stream nearby, wet field). 

Thursday 23 November 2023


A juvenile Pallid Harrier was here for at least 25 minutes this morning. A Whimbrel remains. 

Marloes Mere news

Work has progressed nicely at Marloes mere in recent weeks, and NT are now in a position to re-open the Britton hide. It's now accessed via the new track, which is to be signposted in the next few weeks. The track is pretty tidy, but much of the surrounding area is very muddy, so probably still worth waring wellies or boots. We expect everything to settle, as the material dries over the coming months. 

It's well worth a look - the views across the mere are vastly improved. It will be obvious to anyone who does visit, that there are further improvements to be made, we're already planning our next steps. 

In terms of bird sightings, a single adult Whooper was there today, alongside a good number of teal, shoveler and widgeon. A pair of tufted duck were on the irrigation pond in front of the Britton hide. A large flock of chaffinches were feeding around the new track, alongside a handful of reed buntings. About 100 each of Golden Plover and Lapwing over the Trehill fields. I briefly saw a ringtail Harrier at about lunchtime, quartering low over some of the Trehill fields, before dipping out of sight. I would have payed more attention to it had I seen the news from Skok. 

St Davids Head Wednesday

The first big flocks of Starling here this year, and 50+ Redwing with a couple of Fieldfare. A single Hen Harrier (female) over Carn Llidi, several Chough and Stonechat and, flying fast and low over the Golf Course, a Green Sandpiper.

Green Sandpiper

From Alan Seago: A green sandpiper flushed from a muddy puddle at the entrance to the solar panel farm at Tiers Cross this morning. Elegant wader flying off with black wings and white rump - just like a house martin.

Wednesday 22 November 2023


 A Siberian Chiffchaff today. 

Pink-footed Goose

From Alan Collens: Surprised to find a solitary Pink-footed Goose at Cosheston Pill this afternoon. It was on the mud a little way up the pill towards Cosh, with several Shelduck until disturbed by a man and 4 dogs charging about on the opposite bank. I didn't see it fly but all the Wigeon (c.100) ,Teal (c30) and Shelduck (15) flew west..