Monday 26 February 2024

Castlemartin Corse

The female marsh harrier was hunting, head into the wind, for the 45 minutes I watched her, though I didn't see her catch anything. Otherwise quiet, a few mallard, teal heard only. A record 7 coot, with some serious coot-on-coot aggro. Just 12 lapwing, and an occasional snipe. 3 Cetti's. At the inland end, gulls (70 LBB, 120 herring, 3 GBB), but no ducks or waders. 16  greylags across the flooded fields, 3 little egrets.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Marloes Marsh Harrier Yesterday

A female Marsh Harrier was feeding on carrion yesterday at Marloes Mere in front of the Britton hide. I had seen what looked like an intact dead Herring Gull there on Tuesday. The water levels are the highest I have ever seen here with the old lane now flooded, so no chance of a fox getting to it in the meantime.

 Also still present was the female Goldeneye and two pairs each of Gadwall and Tufted Ducks, along with smaller numbers of the usual species and at least 15 Snipe enjoying the sun on the edges. Disappointingly on a sunny day there was no sign of Lapwings or Golden Plover after around 2,000 of the latter had been swarming around on a very dull Tuesday. Most species of birds on the mere and along the coast appeared to be paired up, but there were no obvious summer migrants yet, although there was a Chiffchaff behind the toilet block at Martin's Haven.

Angle bay.

 At Kilpaison in the gloom this morning.

Dunlin 120, Bar-tailed Godwits 24, Knot 9, Redshank 11, Oystercatchers 26, Curlew 5.

Saturday: Penberi Reservoir-Nevern Estuary-Goodwick Harbour

We did a bit of a whistle stop tour up north yesterday, starting at Penberi Reservoir, where the Lesser Scaup was still present, although always at the far end whilst we were there, along with a couple of  Mallards. The odd-looking hybrid drake (presumed to be the one noted there by Clare Ryland on 11th Feb.) was at the far end too. It seemed a similar size to a Mallard but possibly has an element of Teal thrown in for good measure (or whatever?).

A Mallard of dubious parentage!

We then went up to the Nevern estuary where we could not find the Green-winged Teal although there were Teal in some creeks above the Iron Bridge that we could not see very well and so we might have missed it. Duck numbers were fairly low but included at least 33 Teal (most seemed to be in pairs), 30+ Wigeon, 30-40 Mallard and 5 Shelducks.  Good numbers of mixed gulls were bathing/resting at low tide, including 100-120 Common Gulls, and three un-ringed adult Mediterranean Gulls. Waders included a few Redshanks, 3 Dunlin and a couple of Curlews but these did not include the tagged bird seen there recently, and a few Oystercatchers. A smart adult Heron sporting full breeding plumes dropped into the reedbed to feed, perhaps one from the Velindre Farchog heronry, or might there be another nearby heronry? 

Then at Goodwick Harbour we were entertained by the very confiding drake Common Scoter in late afternoon. It spent quite a lot of time loafing and preening in between a few feeding sessions before it got bored with us and flew low over the water somewhere towards the landward end of the harbour bay as the light fell near dusk. A distant Red-throated Diver and an equally far away Black Guillemot in full breeding plumage were also noted, plus another heron in full breeding plumage (perhaps this one was from Priskilly?). 




Thursday 22 February 2024

Nevern estuary - GPS tagged curlew

From the WWT - N0 is a headstarted curlew released as part of a reintroduction study on the South Downs, released near Arundel, Sussex on 27 July 2022. It is one of 30 birds released in 2022, and one of 16 released with a GPS tracker. N0 left the release site on the day of release and settled at a landfill site and ex-sand quarry near Redhill, Surrey. It remained at this site from 6 August to 10 September, before travelling to Dartmoor in a single flight of 270 km. After a 4-hour break, it made another continuous flight to farmland near Newquay. It had remained here from September until May 2023. In May, it made a very unexpected shift to the Nevern Estuary. It took two attempts to get this right – quitting its first attempt and returning to Cornwall. It’s the only of the 2022 headstarted curlew to make any substantial movements last summer.

Bosherston - colour-ringed Med Gull

On 19th Caroline Pickett photographed an adult Med Gull at Bosherston that she subsequently realised had a yellow ring.  A sharp photo and good fortune enabled the ring to be read - AS.UJ.

This bird is a male and was ringed in Germany near to Leipzig in May '20, and as well as repeat visits their during the breeding season, this is the same bird that I have previously seen at the Gann (Dec. '20-Feb. '21, and Jan. '23).  He seems to have a pattern also of dropping into East Yorkshire in late summer, having been recorded at Kilnsea Wetlands in Aug. '20, July '21, and July-Aug. '23.  He has not been recorded anywhere else.

Photo: Caroline Pickett

Tuesday 20 February 2024


A few days ago, we visited Westfield Pill. Bird-wise it was generally fairly quiet, but it is the time of year that the heronry there is getting into full swing. Several pairs were at their nest sites, some possibly already incubating eggs, others still displaying and/or nest-building. 

One bird flew in with quite a long stick which appeared to be an awkward item to pass to its mate on the nest. After a few minutes, of what almost seemed like a tug-of-war session, the stick was eventually taken by the bird on the nest. 

Both herons then sort of cuddled up together and rested for a short while. The stick was simply left on the side of the nest, appearing to be no longer of importance. Perhaps it will have been placed into the nest fabric sometime later on.

The Westfield Pill heronry is a fairly easy one to watch from a distance, as the birds are probably quite used to people on the footpath on the opposite side of the pill.  Elsewhere, herons are not so used to people and so can be easily disturbed. 

There are several other known regularly occupied heronries, and their nests have been counted in most recent years. These are atBosherston, Cych Valley, Llys-y-fran, Millin Pill, Priskilly, Sealyham, Upton and Velindre Farchog (the last one needs a counter).

Other sites, especially those with only one or two pairs (including some not occupied every year) are probably missed. If you do know of a heronry elsewhere, please let us know via so that it can be added to the heronry register. 

The BTO heronries census is the longest-running bird monitoring scheme, having been running since 1928. The 2023 report is available here together with details about how to get involved.

Monday 19 February 2024

Common Scoter

From Elwyn Davies: Common Scoter Photos taken from the inner breakwater looking towards Fishguard town. (heavy crop)

Sunday 18 February 2024

Hook - Sprinkle Pill

After a period of absence, Little Egrets are favouring the pill again, with 7 here yesterday and today. A couple of hundred Teal are still present and a few more Wigeon than appeared on last week's WeBS count. A teal, with its head on one side and watching the sky intently, prompted me to lift my head from the 'scope. A small falcon was crossing the pill mouth, a Merlin, only the second that I have seen in Hook.

Ring-necked duck, still Rosebush reservoir

Nice to see the female Ring-necked duck just a little closer today, its face gleaming silvery grey even at distance in the bright sunshine. 7 Tufted duck (5m), 2 GCG, 3 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 2 Teal, pair Canada geese.

Llys-y-fran continues to disappoint, very few gulls on the water with many still just visible in the surrounding fields as I was leaving at 6pm. Best was the LBB/Ring-billed cross. 2 adult Yellow-legged gulls, 6 adult Mediterranean gulls showing some courting behaviour, and like Dave mentioned a couple giving their excited drawn out 'nay' calls. 850 BH gulls at 5pm had risen to 1,000 at 5:15pm. LBB max 1,200 at 5:30pm. A hatch of black midges had the BH gulls busily paddling after them as they emerged at the waters surface.

Sandra's Curlew

It will be either NO or N0, either way it seems to be from this scheme.  Look forward to hearing all about it!  Your sighting will be useful to the ringers Sandra, at the least it will 'ground-truth' their GPS data, and if the transmitter has failed they will now know where the bird is.

 Newport/Nevern Estuary

Green-winged teal was still showing well just east of the iron bridge mid-afternoon.  Also just west of the bridge, a curlew with a radio transmitter, a first for me.  It has been injured at some point and was limping although that didn't appear to hinder it walking too much and it took off with no trouble.  Obviously it's position will be known to researchers but can anyone tell me if I should be letting anyone know about the injury and whether the tag should be read 'N0' or '0N'?

Saturday 17 February 2024

Pallid harrier still here!

Drizzle, mist - not promising but I walked in from the E end and reached the hide around 10.30. Lower numbers all round - 3-400 lapwing, 30-40 snipe, a few shoveler, teal and mallard on the wet parts of the fen meadow. 4 Cetti's in different spots, water rail heard, a single redshank flew over, grey heron, 5 little egrets. A buzzard the only raptor, until....

I left the hide at 11.00 and set off back towards the pines through the rushy fields E of the hide (via the new metal gate on the main track - tricky bolt, the gate was even tied up for a while). The pallid harrier appeared to my left, flying along the blackthorn hedge - excellent views at less then 50 metres. Not in view for long, it flew over the hedge and disappeared. My camera was in my backpack, not that there would have been time for a photo. 

So - still here!

Med Gull

One of yesterday's Med Gulls at the Gann was a 3CY with a green ring.  I couldn't read the first digit as it was stood in water, but the last 3 digits were 8RA and I hoped that would be enough to identify it as an individual.  It was - the combination of the species and ring colour meant the first digit had to be an R, the fourth such bird I have recorded at the Gann since 2020.  Details below (click on the image to enlarge).