Tuesday 31 January 2017

East meets west from the north....

Newly flown in from some exotic birding in the far east, i took Wdig Birder out on the Northern Breakwater to bring him down to earth, birding here in the wet wild west. He was a bit sad to have missed the Glaucus Gulls so it seemed only fair to show him one!

Sunday 29 January 2017


A young male Merlin on Dinas Mountain this morning the slaty blue just beginning to show on the head.
From Fishguard Fort a count of 78 Cormorants,4 Red throated Divers, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 7 Common Scoter,no sign of the Glaucous Gull but very few Gulls present in the harbour.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Goodwick (28 Jan 17)

One 1stW Glaucous Gull in the harbour from midday to early evening but never coming close inshore.

A drake Wigeon on the shoreline at the flagpoles at lunchtime and two different adult Win Med Gulls around the harbour.

Friday 27 January 2017

Fishguard Fort

From the fort the Glaucous Gull was still present,as quite often the case feeding around a group of Cormorants. 11 male Common Scoter also there.

Monday 23 January 2017

Glaucous Gull

A first winter Glaucous Gull was still present in Fishguard Harbour this morning.

Sunday 22 January 2017

Little Egret

A Little Egret at Lower Town Fishguard this afternoon,from the fort large numbers of Gulls and around 50 Cormorants.
Yesterday at Rosebush Reservoir 13 Tufted Duck a pr of Goldeneye,27 Teal and a single Coot.
Pantmaenog fairly quite a group of 11 Bullfinch was nice,but a total lack of any Siskins or Redpolls.

Glaucous Gull pics.

Fantastic pics Richard.

Raptor Watch Today.
14 Marsh Harrier
2 Pallid Harrier
3 Black Shouldered Kite
Booted Eagle ( Dark Phase )
Greater Spotted Eagle
Black Kite loads
Brahiminy Kite loads

Divar Island Goa

Sea Bird Spectacular Fishguard Harbour.

What looked like a snow storm at the mouth of Fishguard Harbour attracted our attention when Ken and Leo the porp hound popped into the Ocean Lab. We decided it needed checking out so headed out to the breakwater A lot of the gulls had dispersed when we got there a couple of hundred now gathering around the Cow and Calf rocks

When we got to the end of the breakwater there were rows of Auks, Razorbills and Guillemots  
probably getting on for 300+

Also a few hundred gulls mainly black headed but also plenty of Herring and a fair few commons.

sadly there were no cetaceans visible but there must have been some pretty spectacular amount of small fish arounfd to have attracted such a throng of birds!

Saturday 21 January 2017

Fishguard Glaucous Gulls (21 Jan 17)

Here are some pics of one of the Glaucous Gulls from this afternoon.

Long tailed duck

The Long tailed duck is still present at Pwll Crochan seen by Fran Eggby today.

Fishguard Harbour (21 Jan 17)

2 * 1stW Glaucous Gulls in the harbour all afternoon.  Only came close to flagpoles once.  Pics to follow.  As previously reported in the week they favour following the fishing groups of Cormorants.

Strumble Head (20 Jan 17)

Barn Owl on roadside wires by Bristgarn at 2345.

Monday 16 January 2017

Dinas Mountain and Newport Estuary

On Dinas Mountain 60 Golden Plover but little else.
At Newport the Cattle Egret was present with a Little Egret by the bridge,there was a second Little Egret also present a bit further on,other birds included a Greenshank,an adult Mediterranean Gull and 3 Great Crested Grebes on the sea.
Late afternoon in Fishguard Harbour a 1st winter Glaucous Gull and a single Great Crested Grebe.

Sunday 15 January 2017

Glaucous Gulls

Jean and I met Paul (sorry Paul, your surname has escaped the sieve) on the breakwater at lunchtime. He told us a first winter glaucous gull had been reported on Saturday, which he then located well outside the harbour. It moved and was picked up again in a rather frenzied feeding flock of c25 cormorants and other assorted gulls. As the flock moved towards the flagpoles a second first winter glaucous was seen on the edge of the flock. In addition there was a smart male spring-plumaged stonechat on the breakwater and a winter-plumaged great crested grebe in the harbour. Afternote: see Paul M's entry on the Pembrokeshire Birds Blog - with images.

Friday 13 January 2017

Long tailed Duck

Superb photos Richard.

Long Tailed Duck - (08 Jan 17)

Here are three pics from my visit to Pwllcrochan on Sunday 08 Jan 17.  Not heard any reports since but not sure if anyone has looked.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Breakwater Waders, maneuvers in the dark.

It hardly seemed to get light today in the drizzle and dreek but by the time we got out on the outer breakwater just after 4 pm it was pretty dark. I expected little but the dog needed a walk and you never know there could have been a couple of Orca's leaping about out there! (in my dreams!)
Anyhow i got down the end by the glowing green light and a squeeky little call alerted me to a ringed plover on one of the blocks. A bit more scrutiny and a dark blob protruding off the edge of another block, lo and behold a purple sandpiper. Ever the optimist i nipped back to the car for my camera. The ringed plover was still obvious but the purple sand had disappeared. I snapped the RP and then began maneuvering around to get a view of the purple sandpiper in the rapidly failing light. I was beginning to think i must have imagined it but just as i was about to call it of the purple sandpiper popped up on the angle of a block. Incredibly despite the dismal conditions, the camera still gave me a record shot of the first Purple Sandpiper of this winter!

Graham Rees Retirement From Pembrokeshire Bird Group Committee.

On hearing that Graham has decided his stint of massive involvement with the Pembrokeshire Bird Group Committee should come to an end it's fitting that people who over many years have benefitted from his input should like to pass on their Good Wishes on the posts below:

Whether it be at Bird Group Meetings or as in my case Numerous Sessions in the Lookout at Strumble Head or even seeing Graham & Linda at the Flagpoles at Goodwick interesting discussion prevailed & not to mention numerous good birds, Especially a rather nice large black & white Tern on 23rd August 2005 !

Thank You Graham

Adrian Rogers


Well Graham Rees has had a profound influence on my bird watching  I first met him at Strumble with my brother David in September 1980 it was evident from the start that provided you were trying to look for seabirds that Graham was a  great source of encouragement.

As the years progressed his absolute knowledge of seabirds was highly informative he was always there to acknowledge, help ,share, his  seabird identification. He never put people down, we all start somewhere.

I suppose for me the 3 September 1983 THE “ BIG DAY” also further encourage me to do more Seawatching.

Together we have seen a lot , good days, bad days 1000s of hours together at the lookout,happy days.

As a fixture in residence at the lookout year after year from August to November 8:00am to 3:00pm , he has encouraged many a new seawatcher from all over the UK .

Alas since Graham came back from our South African trip and his illness developed, he has not  been able to come to  the lookout,we have all missed  him terribly its not the same.

One of Grahams favourite sayings was each year is different ,no two years are the same and as the records show this to be absolutely true.  And ,don’t forget only identify it after the bird has past 12;00 o clock position.

Of course we must remember that without Graham foresight and  tenacity there would of been no “lookout” he saved it from demolition, can you imagine trying to seawatch at Strumble in the rain, wind etc. Virtually impossible in a gale.

Over the last 36 Years of seawatching has increased vastly at Strumble more and more people have come and gone but there at least a few regulars, we all consider, and will always consider Graham Rees as THE MASTER SEAWATCHER.

Richard Davies

Anyone who has tried seawatching will have realised that it is a very niche sector of birdwatching and requires some very specific skills.

I was lucky as I had the best tutor – Graham.

Over many hundreds of hours seawatching alongside Graham I learnt the key skills of:

·         Staying calm when someone calls out a “Biggy”!
·         Listening to directions from others carefully and finding their birds (it’s a big sea out there).
·         Understanding what different weather conditions mean and what birds may be around – including the “classic Corys weather”.
·         Being able to carefully give directions to others when you have found a bird.
·         And of course the identification skills to id distant skuas, shearwaters, petrels etc.

And just when you thought you had the id’s nailed Graham would challenge you with a question such as – What is the underwing colour of a House Martin?  And then you realise you need to do more watching!

Richard Stonier


Before the second world war Birdwatching was considered a somewhat eccentric pastime for country parsons and village squires. After the war, young people had more leisure time and mobility.
The Hampshire Ornithological Group and a few other young birders turned this on its head. They were the true pioneers of citizen science where groups of dedicated amateur birders worked together to expand and build their knowledge. They set up ringing groups, travelled to the far extremities of the British Isles from Fair Isle to the Scillies, adding new species and verifying them, quite simply they were on a mission and Graham was in the vanguard.  
On his return to Pembrokeshire in the early 1970’s, Hampshire’s loss was Pembrokeshire’s gain! As some of you will know, Graham Rees was the driving force behind the creation of The Pembrokeshire Bird Group along with Jack Donovan whom Graham joined as co-County Bird Recorder on his return to Pembrokeshire.  
Graham and Jack authored the Pembrokeshire Bird Atlas, to this day the most authoritative reference work of our time for the county avifauna.  Always self-effacing and less flamboyant than Jack, Graham did most of the spade and footwork for The Atlas but they were a great team. He also inspired others of us to send in records and participate in the compilation of the Pembrokeshire Bird Report.
Grahams phenomenal work at Strumble Head was truly ground breaking. The advent of modern telescopes such as the superb Optolyth 70x30 revolutionised our ability to identify distant birds as they flew past the headland. The purchase of a “Questar” mirror lens moved things even further on!
Graham always seemed to have the time and patience to share his knowledge. I and countless others were fortunate to be able to pick his brains and learn the esoteric art of sea-watching. It was a gateway into a whole new world of birds, staring through an eyepiece at the view of some small bird a mile or more away and identifying it by mainly developing the feel for GISS = General Impression of Shape and Size. Graham would keep a running commentary as we pieced the necessary features together until we nailed the Wilsons Petrel or Little Shearwater, truly awesome!
In recent years, his ill health has meant his contribution to ornithology has been more from his study than his natural environment out there in the field, particularly (and most sadly from my point of view) his perch in the lookout at Strumble Head. I am sure there is still more to come from a man I am extremely proud to call friend and mentor.

Cliff Benson


“I met Graham for the first time in the mid eighties on a trip to Strumble and his enthusiasm and knowledge of seabirds was amazing.  I caught the bug and have been doing it ever since.  When I visited Strumble from the ‘wastelands of Ceredigion’ I noticed he was always so helpful to anyone who turned up, pointing out the identifying features of the birds that passed by.  He liked to talk to anyone with a like-minded interest, as long as it was birds and not plants!  He calls all plants “Scabby Scrunge”.  Such a very inspirational man.” 

Red Liford

Coming to Pembs from London, I hadn't really got to grips with sea-watching despite having been watching birds for 20+ years at that point, but sitting day after day in the look out at Strumble Head listening to Graham means it is no exaggeration to say that I owe everything I know about seabirds to him. He is greatly missed there.

Chris Grayell


When I first moved to Pembrokeshire in 1988,I spent many hours at Strumble sea watching with Graham,he helped improve my knowledge of seabird identification,at the time I was quite a novice were seabirds were concerned coming from London,I will always be grateful to Graham for sharing his experience and knowledge of seabirds with me.

Steve Berry


Graham thanks for your company and for finding so many good birds. Strumble in the eighties was great fun and a wonderful place for two fledgling seawatchers.

Peter and Simon Murray


The contribution Graham has made to birdwatching in Pembrokeshire, including the Pembrokeshire Bird Group, cannot be overstated.  Most memorable has been his contribution to monitoring seabird passage at Strumble Head, a location that was his 2nd home for many years - I often wonder how many chairs he has gone through over the years!

David Astins


My memories of Graham are almost exclusively from seawatching at Strumble. Over about 10 years  from 1998 I spent many hours alongside him in the observatory at Strumble. I learnt more than I could have ever imagined.  I thought that he was an ex teacher because when I asked a question or for an opinion, instead of giving me an immediate answer he would ask me about what I saw etc. and to my mind this was a great way  of retaining knowledge. Many visiting birders benefited from his knowledge too.
         During quiet moments he would tell me of incidents over the years such as dead cows floating by, crazy people in boats with more money than sense and of course the more rare seawatching sightings.
           During those years, Graham became aware that I helped out with some fieldwork at WWT Slimbridge. He had a long standing friend who lived in Gloucestershire and who worked at WWT. After retirement, he frequented the hides almost everyday, and he, like Graham was extremely knowledgeable. His name was Pete Alder. Sadly Pete passed away last year and although I knew Graham and Pete were great friends over many many years, it appears that Pete was partly responsible for Graham getting into the world of seawatching. This information was gathered at the funeral.  Thus, I was lucky enough to learn from two people who were experts with the best part of 100 years experience between them. In any walk of life, experience counts for a lot in my book. I must thank Graham for all the knowledge that I was able to glean from him.
         On the more amusing side, I was picked up on my use of English. For example, when describing what a bird was doing, I might say that it had landed on the sea. Now Graham would point out that they only land on land or structures but they alight on the sea! Another was describing the ferry docking. That was an Americanism and the ferry actually berthed.
          Strumble vocabulary. When a pebble set in the roof of the observatory occasionally pinged out on hot days and ricocheted around the interior, Graham coined the word, Strumblosion!  When the tide  turned and the circular upwelling of water produced boiling lily pads, that was a Strumbolism.

            I expect that you knew much of what I have written but here are my thought of Graham and seawatching at Strumble

Colin Butters

I can add little to what has already been said about Graham – a kind, knowledgeable and generous friend of over 30 years.  But I can give an example of Graham’s delightfully mischievous sense of humour which, in a gentle contradiction to Red’s assertion, involved plants.  On one quiet afternoon at Strumble the wind was blowing parachute seeds from right to left past the Lookout  Being Graham, he had already investigated and found that the seeds were from a patch of rosebay willow herb out of sight round the headland.  Following a quiet discussion it was agreed that I would “call” the sighting: “seeds at 2 o’clock moving west just inside the tide race”.  Graham, after a pause, confidently stated “rosebay willow herb”.  The hitherto amused expressions of the visiting bird watchers turned to amazement: identification had, before their eyes, been elevated to a whole new level!

Ray Wilkinson

Pwllderi to Pwllcrochan

Thought I would make the effort to see the Long tailed Duck at Pwllcrochan this morning which was there along with Richard who was busy photographing it. A few Chough were seen along the coast, a Dartford Warbler was heard calling in the gorse also and a nice sighting of a Weasel hunting in and out of a stone wall.
A fox was seen hanging from a barbed wire fence at St Nicholas which must have had a very slow death.

Pwllcrochan (08 Jan 17)

Long Tailed Duck was back on the pond this morning - 0900 to 1100 and still there when I left.  Feeding constantly and as I expected - very tame (as all LTD tend to be).  Got 600 shots so will post some of the better ones later in the week when I have processed them.

Water Rail calling from the ditch by the pond.

Saturday 7 January 2017

LT Duck - Pwllcrochan

Went to find the LT Duck between 1330 and 1530.  No sign on the pond so headed down to the beach and found it feeding in the bay.  Couldn't get down to the beach as it was high tide.  Seemed to go to roost further out in the bay with the larger gulls.

Lots of Fulmar on the cliffs here.

Will go and have a look at low tide tomorrow and hopefully get some pics...

Sunday 1 January 2017

Strumble Head (01 Jan 17)

NNE gale today - very very cold in the bunker.  Kept it to a quick look.  Only the usual to report - Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Fulmar amongst many other gulls.  Porpoise were showing well in the rough seas.