Notes - November 1989 to May 1990. PDF Print E-mail

Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - Summer 1990
Rob Hunt

November

There were several sightings of Red-throated Divers with singles at Salmon Scar (3rd - J.R.E.), Ginst Point (26th - G.H.,F.B.J.) and Burry Fort (26th - R.O.H.). Three were seen there together with a Black - throated Diver (27th - J.F.) Five Great Crested Grebes were off Machynys (28th - B.St.).

A Bittern at the Ffrwd Fen (26th - G.H.,F.B.J.) was an exciting find, the first at the site since 1981. This bird remained into December. One of the local farmers reported the first arrival of the White - fronted Geese at Dryslwyn on 21st. Thirty nine were counted there (25th - J.R.E.). At Burry Port 108 Brent Geese were seen off the rower Station (19th - GBH.). At Penclacwydd maximum counts were 250 Shelduck, 400+ Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 400+ Teal, c.150 Pintail and 40 Shoveler. A female Scaup was seen on the main lagoon. (T.R.,B.St.) At the Upper Lliedi Reservoir 187 Teal, 2 Gadwall and 10 Pintail were seen (25th - R.O.H.,F.B.J.). Other wildfowl records were 180 Wigeon at Dryslwyn (26th - J.F.), 2 Shovelers at Laugharne (26th    G.H.,F.B.J.), 6 Scaup in the Burry Estuary (23rd - B.St.) and 5 Eider at St. Ishmael (17th - F.B.J.). Goldeneye were recorded at a number of localities; singles at Duport Lake (From 11th - F.B.J.) and Ginst Point (26th -¬G.H.,F.B.J.), 2 at Machynys (28th - B.St.) and 3 at Dryslwyn (19th J.F.). Red-breasted Mergansers were recorded: 19 Cydweli Quay (26th - G.H.,F.B.J.) and 3 Machynys (28th - B.St.).

A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen over Cydweli Marsh (26th -- G.H., F.R.J.) and males were recorded at Cydweli Marsh (26th - G.H.) and Pembrey Saltings (27th - J.F.). Merlin and Peregrine were regular at. Penclacwydd (T.R.,B.St.).

Up to 5 Water Rails were regular at Penclacwydd (T.R.,B.St.) and 3 were seen at Dryslwyn (12th - J.F.).

Wader counts at Penclacwydd during the last fortnight of the month included maxima of : 1800 Oystercatchers, 30 Grey Plovers, 115 Lapwings, 200 Knot, 1500 Dunlin, c.250 Snipe, 250 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4011 Curlew and 500 Redshank. Single Woodcock were at Penclacwydd (17th - T.R.,B.St.) and Laugharne (26th - G.H.,F.B.J.).

The Golden Plover flock at Ginst numbered c.1100 (5th - F.B.J.). There were 2 Greenshanks at St. Ishmael (5th - F.B.J.) and 5 there (26th - G.H.,F.B.J.). Single Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit were seen at Laugharne and at Morfa Ferryside c.300 Dunlin and c.40 Bar-tailed Godwits (all 26th - G.H.,F.B.J.).

A Grey Phalarope at St. Ishmael (5th - F.B.J.) was the fifth record of the autumn, following the late record of 2 at Burry Port Power Station (21st September - T.J.).

A Skua sp. was seen off the Power Station (1st - E.J.S.).

An adult winter Mediterranean Gull was present at Duport Lake (11th - F.B.J.) and an estimated 3000 Herring Gulls were flying over Penclacwydd, down the estuary to roost (23rd - B.St.).

A single Guillemot was off Burry Fort (26th - R.O.H.).

Owls were well represented with a single Short-eared in the Penclacwydd - Penrhyngwyn area, 1-2 Barn Owls at Penclacwydd and 2 Little Owls nearby (T.R.,B.St.). Another Barn Owl was seen at Ffrwd Fen (26th - G.H.,F.B.J.).

Kingfishers were regular at Penclacwydd throughout the month (T.R.,B.St.).

At Trostre the roost of Pied Wagtails numbered 150 by the end of the month (B.St.) A Cetti's Warbler was heard at the Ashpits Fond (4th - F.B.J.), female Blackcaps were seen at Ffordd y Wagen (3rd - E.J.S.) and Dryslwyn (25th - R.O.H.,F.B.J.) and a Chiffchaff was at Ffordd y Wagen (3rd - E.J.S.). There were 3 Tree Sparrows at Ginst (5th F.B.:J..).

December

The month was notable for some dramatic contrasts in the weather and produced some of the best birdwatching of the year.

A high pressure system dominated until 11th, with cold, dry conditions with several nights of frost. A westerly airstream from 12th to 25th produced a wet and windy period with several severe gales. The end of the month was dry and cloudy with cold south-easterly winds.

All three common diver species were seen off Burry Port on 23rd with 2 Red-throated and 1 Great Northern (R.O.H.,F.B.J.) and a single Black-throated (J.R.E.). One of the Red-throats, a juvenile had been present from the 16th, when seen off Cefn Padrig (J.R.E.,R.O.H., F.B.J.). Two Red-throats were seen off St. Ishmael (From 23rd - R.O.H., F.B.J.).

One of the highlights of the month was the influx of petrels. A single Storm Petrel was seen off St. Ishmael (17th - F.B.J.), and later in the Gwendraeth Estuary off Salmon Scar (R.O.H.,F.B.J.). All the other records were of Leach's Petrels. Records were as follows:

21st. 2 Cefn Padrig (R.O.H.,C.J.), 2 Burry Fort Harbour (J.R.E.,R.O.H.,C.J.) 1 Penrhyngwyn (per T.R.)

23rd. 4 Penrhyngwyn (B.St.), 2 Cefn Padrig and 1 Burry Fort (R.O.H.,F.B.J.).

24th. 6 St. Ishmael (R.O.H.,F.B.J.), 1 Penclacwydd (B.St.). 25th. 2 Burry Fort (F.B.J.).

The Bittern seen at the Ffrwd Fen last month remained until at least 26th (I.K.M.). Another was seen in the Towy Valley at Llangadog (5th - per D.H.V.R.). A Little Egret at Cydweli Quay (27th -G.H.,G.J.D., F.B.J.,C.J.) was found during the annual winter bird race and was some consolation for the crushing defeat they suffered in the race (94 species - 83 species, a total of 98 species were recorded during the day). This bird remained into the new year, moving on to Cydweli Marsh from the 31st.

Seven Bewick Swans (6 ads.,1 juv.) were at Nantgaredig (28th - J.F.). Numbers of White-fronted Geese at Dryslwyn remained low with a maximum of 53 (31st - J.F.) and 4 were seen over Penclacwydd early in the month (T.R.). Brent Geese were seen regularly off Cefn Padrig - Burry Port area with a maximum of 95 off Cefn Padrig (16th - J.R.E. et al). At Penclacwydd the maximum duck counts were 260 Shelduck, c.400 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 431 Teal and 11 Shoveler. Two female Scaup were on the main lagoon (7th), (all records T.R.,B.St.). At Dryslwyn counts included 400 Wigeon (31st) and 20 Tufted Duck (10th - J.F.). Eighty Wigeon were seen off Cefn Padrig (16th - F.B.J. et al). A drake Scaup off Tywyn Point (3rd - J.R.E. et al) remained through the month. Eleven Eider were seen off Tywyn Point (3rd - J.R.E. et al), and 2 were off Burry Port (22nd - 25th - G.J.D. et al). Up to 4 Goldeneye were regular in the Ashpits Pond - Cefn Padrig area (G.H.), singles were seen at Duport Lake (up to 23rd - F.B.J.), Machynys Pond (From 27th), Commissioner's Bridge (18th - B.St.), Dryslwyn and Cefn Sidan (both 27th - J.R.E. et al). Twenty eight Red-breasted Mergansers were seen in the Gwendraeth Estuary (7th - J.F.).

Ringtail Hen Harriers were seen over Cydweli Marsh (10th - J.R.E. and 31st - F.B.J.). A Peregrine and female Merlin were seen at Penclacwydd throughout the month (B.St.,T.R.) and a Merlin was seen at Cydweli Quay (12th - D.P.).

Three Water Rails were regular at Penclacwydd (T.R.), several were heard at the Ffrwd Fen and one was regularly seen in front of the hide at the Upper Lliedi Reservoir.

At Ginst the Golden Plover flock totalled 538 (31st - F.B.J.). At Machynys 50 Ringed Plover, 45 Grey Plover and 1000 Dunlin were seen (23rd - B.St.). Over 80 Snipe were seen at Cydweli Marsh (18th - B.St.) and 90 at Dryslwyn (31st - J.F.). Wader counts at Penclacwydd included; 1800 Oystercatchers (16th), 170 Lapwing (29th), 70+ Snipe and 321 Redshank (both 16th - T.R.,B.St.). Three Black-tailed Godwits were seen at Penclacwydd (28th - T.R.), whilst Bar-tailed Godwit counts were 60 at Salmon Scar (22nd - G.J.D.,F.B.J.,C.J.) and 237 at Cefn Sidan (30th - R.O.H.,F.B.J.). An estimated 1800 Knot were seen at Cefn Sidan (30th - R.O.H.,F.B.J.).

A Spotted Redshank was regular at Penclacwydd (from 16th - T.R.,B.St.) and 3 were seen at Cydweli Quay, together with 2 Greenshank and 210 Redshank (18th - B.St.). There were 3 Greenshank at St. Ishmael and 5 at Salmon Scar (23rd - R.O.H.,F.B.J.). Three Green Sandpipers were seen on the river Gwili at Hendy (S.J.O.) and singles were seen at Penclacwydd (12th - T.R.,B.St.) Banc y Lord (18th - B.St.) and Coedbach (29th - F.B.J.). A wintering Common Sandpiper was seen at Abergwili (J.F.), and 200 Turnstones at Salmon Scar (7th - J.F.). A Grey Phalarope was seen briefly off the Power Station (25th-R.O.H.,M.H.W.) and what was probably the same bird in Burry Port Harbour (27th - D.M.F,J.R.E.,R.Q.H.,J.R.T.) was found during the winter bird race. Curiously this bird was not located by the opposition who were also there at the time.

Eighty two Great Black-backed Gulls were roosting at Tywyn Point (17th - F.B.J.).

Barn Owls were seen on a number of occasions at Machynys, Ffrwd Fen, Pinged and Cwrt Henry. A Little Owl was seen at Machynys (27th - G.J.D. et al). At least 2 Short-eared Owls were present in the Penrhyngwyn - Penclacwydd area (S.L.).

Stonechats were seen in a number of localities; Tywyn Burrows, Cydweli Marsh, Ashpits Pond, Machynys, Penclacwydd and Gweunydd Cochion, Tumble. Few Redwings and Fieldfares were seen, probably a reflection of the mild weather in latter part of the month. A Blackcap was regular in Gary Harper's Pwll garden up to 23rd, and females were seen at Fordd y Wagen (16th - F.H.J.) and Gilbert Crescent, Llanelli (29th - J.R.T.). . A Chiffchaff was seen regularly at Ffordd y Wagen (G.H.).

A Firecrest near Bronwydd Arms (13th - J.F.) was a good inland record. Two Bramblings were seen in the finch flock in Pembrey Forest (27th - C.J. et al) and another was at Pembrey Harbour (27th - J.R.E. et al). Small numbers of Siskins were seen: 22 at Pont Newydd (21st and 26th -I.K.M.), c.20 at Spudder's Bridge (26th - F.B.J.) and 10 at Dryslwyn (27th - D.M.P. et al and 31st - J.F.).

January

The weather during the month was dominated by a mild moist south - westerly airstream with strong winds and heavy rainfall. The area was affected by a particularly severe gale on the 25th. In contrast to December, there were no unusual seabird record associated with this weather.

An adult Great Northern Diver on the Gwendraeth Estuary off Salmon Scar (7th) remained to 25th March (R.O.H.,F.B.J.,B.St.). All three diver species were seen in the Burry Port - Pembrey area; with at least two Great Northern Divers - an adult (2nd - R.O.H.) and a juvenile (3rd - J.R.E.,R.O.H.) and both Red-throated and Black-throated Divers (13th - R.O.H.,F.B.J.). Single Great Crested Grebes were seen at Llyn Pencarreg (31st - J.F.) and the Witchett Pool (31st - D.H.V.R.).

The Little Egret remained at Cydweli Marsh throughout the month, although it became much more difficult to see as it fed in the river channels. It was last reported on 12th February (D.F.).

The numbers of White-fronted Geese at Dryslwyn were disappointingly low with a maximum of only 60 (J.F.,D.H.V.R.). Other counts at Dryslwyn were 250 Wigeon (30th - J.F.), 180 Teal and 2 Shoveler (both 14th - D.H.V.R.). Five Gadwall were seen at the Dinefwr Fonds (14th and 16th - D.H.V.R.). At Penclacwydd wildfowl counts were 4 Brent Geese (30th), 596 Shelduck (19th), 240 Wigeon (30th), 10 Gadwall, 720 Teal (14th), 240 Pintail (21st), 27 Shoveler and a female Scaup throughout the month (T.R.,B.St.). A wildfowl count at the Witchett

March

The month was exceptionally mild with many days more typical of early May, especially 17th - 18th.

A Heronry with 7 nests was discovered in Stradey Woods (18th - I.K.M.), the number of nests suggesting that it has been established for some years.

A pair of Garganey at Bevan's Pond (28th - C.J.) was the second spring record from this site in recent years, the last being in April 1987. At Penclacwydd wildfowl counts were: 25 Brent Geese (9th), 306 Shelduck and 8 Gadwall (10th), 13 Pintail and 16 Shoveler (27th), 46 Teal (28th) and a female Scaup all month (T.R.,B.St.). On the Gwendraeth Estuary 3 Eider (25th), 142 Shelduck and a Goldeneye (27th - B.St.) were seen.

Wader counts at Penclacwydd included a maximum of 6 Spotted Redshanks (30th), 25 Snipe (29th), 1 Ruff (28th-29th), 509 Curlew (22nd), 2 Black-tailed Godwits (27th) and a Jack Snipe (9th - T.R.,B.St.). A single Black-tailed Godwit was at Ferryside (12th) with 3 Bar-tailed Godwits (21st - B.St.). Three Greenshank were on the Gwendraeth Estuary (27th - B.St.).

Owls featured prominently in the month's sightings with a Barn Owl at Ffrwd Fen (11th - J.R.E. et al); 2 Short-eared, 2 Little and 1 Barn Owl regular at Penclacwydd (T.R.,B.St.). At Machynys 3 Short-eared and a Barn Owl (11th - C.J.) were the first of regular nightly sightings over the following week, which also included a Long-eared Owl (12th -R.O.H.,F.B.J.,R.L.) and (14th - C.J.).

A phone call by neighbouring farmer B. Samuel to I.K.M. alerted birdwatchers to the presence of a Hoopoe at Penrhyn Farm, Pwll from 14th to 16th.

There was a good passage of Water Pipits with the following records: at Banc-y-Lord 1 (17th - R.O.H.,F.B.J.); at Penclacwydd 1 (23rd). 1 (28th), 2 (29th) and 3 (30th - T.R.,B.St.); and at Penallt Farm near Cydweli 2 (25th) and 5 (26th - B.St.).

Several migrant passerines were recorded during the month. First records were: Sand Martin 2 at Penclacwydd (15th - T.R.,B.St.), Wheatear 3 at Machynys (16th - B.St.), Sedge Warbler at Tywyn Point (18th - B.St.). Blackcap at Stradey Woods (18th - I.K.M.), Willow Warbler at Ffrwd Fen (12th - B.St.) and Chiffchaff in Pembrey Forest (9th - I.K.M.).

A Fieldfare was at Tywyn Point (18th - B.St.). A Cetti's Warbler was heard at the Ffrwd Fen during the month and 500 Jackdaws were roosting north east of the Ffrwd (B.St.).

Two Siskins were seen in Carmarthen (12th - D.H.V.R.) and both Siskins (21st) and Redpolls (30th - I.K.M.) were hears singing in Stradey Woods.

April

Most of the month was rather cool with conditions unfavourable for migration. Towards the end of the month a high pressure system gave warmer weather.

A count at the Allt-y-Gaer heronry near Dryslwyn revealed 48 - 50 nests (D.H.V.R.), whilst at Craig Ddu there were 7 nests (J.F.,I.K.M.).

An Osprey was seen at Llanddarog (2nd - per D.H.V.R.) and a Rough-legged Buzzard at St. Clears (3rd - A.G.). A Merlin was seen on Pembrey Mountain (8th - S.L.).

At least 3 pairs of Little Ringed Plovers were noted in the Towy Valley (D.H.V.R.). Two Dotterel seen briefly at the Tair Carn Ridge (29th - J.R.E. , R.O.H.,F.B.J.) was the only record from the site despite several visits. Whimbrel were heard calling over Tir Morfa Farm (15th - I.K.M.) and 50 were seen there (21st - I.K.M.). The first Common Sandpiper was seen at Cydweli (14th - S.L.). At Penclacwydd there was a maximum of 80 Whimbrel, 6 Spotted Redshank, 2 Common Sandpipers and a single Ruff during the last week of the month (T.R.,B.St>).

The first tern was recorded in the Burry Port area with a Sandwich Tern (24th - C.J.). Three Sandwich Terns were seen there (29th J.R.E.,R.O.H.) and a single Common Tern was seen at Cefn Sidan (29th -F.B.J.).

A Short-eared Owl was seen at Gweunydd Cochion, Tumble early in the month (A.G.).

Migrant passerines were present in low numbers due to the cold weather. A Swallow was seen at Machynys (13th - J.R.E.). Five White Wagtails were seen on passage at Banc-y-Lord (8th T I.K.M.) and 3 at Llangadog (24th).

A male Ring Ouzel was seen at Tywyn Point (1st - R.O.H.,F.B.J.,B.St.). This species is a scarce breeder in upland areas of the county, but is rarely seen in costal areas on migration. Stonechats had fledged young at Pembrey Saltings by the end of the month (F.B.J.). A Redstart in Stradey Woods (29th - I.K.M.) was only the second seen by the observer at the site in 20 years of watching.

A Grasshopper Warbler was heard south of Cynheidre (21st - I.K.M.), several Whitethroats were seen at Pembrey Burrows (28th - I.K.M.) and a Wood Warbler was seen in Stradey Woods (24th - I.K.M.). A Reed Warbler was seen at the Ashpits Pond (29th - F.B.J.).

Both Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers had returned to Dinefwr Deer Park (25th - I.K.M.).

A pair of Siskins was seen in Penybedd Woods, Pembrey (28th - I.K.M.) and 6 pairs in Stradey Woods (29th - I.K.M.).

May

An Osprey was seen at the Witchett Pool early in the month (K.N.). The highlight of the month was a superb summer plumaged Marsh Sandpiper at Penclacwydd ('9th - T.R.,B.St.). This is the first county record of this elegant wader. Most of the 62 previous British records (up to the end of 1988) were in the south east. A Wood Sandpiper was also at the site (19th - 20th - T.R.,B.St.), and another was at Banc-y-Lord (12th - F.B.J.). Two pairs of Redshank and several pairs of Lapwing have bred on the main lagoon at Penclacwydd.

Three Yellow Wagtails at Cilsan Bridge (12th - B.St.) are the only records for the species this spring. A Cetti's Warbler was heard at the Witchett Pool (K.N.).

List of Observers

G.J. Davies; J.R. Ellis; J. Friese; A. Griffiths; G. Harper; M.F. Holding; R.O. Hunt; F.B. Jenkins; C. Jones; T. Jones; R. Lewis; S. Lewis; I.K. Morgan; K. Nicholas; S.J. Ormerod; D. Poulter; D.M. Powell; T. Richardson; D.H.V. Roberts; E.J. Smith; B. Stewart; J.R. Thomas; M.H. Williams. Thanks to all observers for submitting records.