Monday, 2 January 2017

Pembrokeshire Bird Group AGM

We will be holding our AGM on Wednesday January 18th, starting at 7.30, in Crundale Hall.

Graham Rees has decided that the time has come for him to retire from the Committee after many many years of unstinting and very valuable service. The other members of the Committee were elected last year to serve for three years so do not need re-electing at this AGM.

We are always keen to recruit new members to the Committee so please do get in touch with Bob or Peter if you would like to discuss this.

The AGM will be followed by a Committee Meeting expected to start around 8.00 pm. The Officers of the Club will be elected at that Committee Meeting.

The current Committee Members are: Bob Haycock (Chair), Peter Royle (Secretary and Treasurer), Annie Haycock, Anna Sutcliffe, Nikki Anderson, Steve Sutcliffe, Dave Gardner, Nathan Walton, Mike Young-Powell, and Lyndon Lomax

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Wader Identification in the field with Clive Hurford

Following on from last winter’s successful and rewarding event, Clive Hurford is planning a second excursion in the field for anyone interested in brushing up on their ID skills. No previous experience is expected. 

Join Clive on Sunday 8th January 2017, meeting at 10:00 at the gate to the Rhoscrowther shore of Angle Bay (also known as Kilpaison). There is a small roadside layby at OS grid ref SM897028.
After overlooking the shore there, the aim will be to head to other locations, including Angle Harbour, Pembroke River at Bentlass and finally finishing at Cosheston Pill. 
Bring some warm clothing, a packed lunch and appropriate refreshments. 

Binoculars will be essential and if you have a telescope then do bring that along too.

It promises to be an excellent session!

Please email Clive beforehand to let him know that you’re coming

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The 2016 Pembrokeshire Bird Conference

The Pembrokeshire Bird Group would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s conference at the Picton Centre at the end of November. We hope very much that you all enjoyed the day.

Rosemary Royle kicked off the morning session of talks, with the Pembrokeshire Bird Diary for the year providing a fascinating account of the year since the last conference. We then had an interesting “forum” session of four short but stimulating talks from speakers representing Natural Resources Wales, RSPB, Pembrokeshire Marine Special Conservation Area and the Rivers Trust, followed by some interesting discussion/debate. 

Lunch, provided by Gina Smithies, was excellent as usual and hopefully everyone in the room had a chance for a chat, and to do a bit of networking etc. The Wildlife Trust stall, the raffle ticket sellers, and two quizzes this year (photo id quiz and bird bones) hopefully provided much additional interest and entertainment.

David Gardner started the afternoon proceedings off with an auction of a “Skomer visit with a difference” – including a picnic and an offshore evening visit to see seabirds around the island. We are grateful to Dave for organising this.

During the post-lunch session of talks, Kelvin Jones gave us an update on BTO surveys and proposed future surveys, and some really good reasons why volunteer contributions to such projects are so important. Lyndon Lomax gave us an excellent insight into duck identification in his We're Going Quackers talk, and is planning a follow-up ID field meeting in the New Year – more on this to come soon!    

Mark Underhill of the RSPB gave us a fascinating talk about the Sociable Lapwing, based on a recent
study-trip with others, to an important wintering area for this critically endangered species on vast open tracks of steppe in Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan.

Just after the final coffee break the winners of the two quizzes were announced. Thanks to Nathan Walton and to Den Vaughan for organising these.

Last but not least, David Saunders gave us a memorable talk on the History of birdwatching in Pembrokeshire. This was packed with a wealth of information, including some previously unseen photographs of Reverend Murray Mathew, author of the first avifauna for the county “Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands Birds”, published in 1894. The prolonged period of rapturous applause, provided an indication of how well David’s talk was received.

We would welcome any feedback and thoughts for future Conferences.

Finally, a date for you diary:
The Bird Group will be holding its AGM at Crundale Village Hall on Wednesday 18th January 2017. We’d welcome some new members to our committee, so please do come along.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Wartime oil spills almost wiped out Skomer's Guillemots

A recent study, published in the journal British Birds, suggests that major oil pollution in the 1940s had a major impact on breeding seabirds around Skomer, Pembrokeshire.

Tim Birkhead from Sheffield University used photographs of the island’s cliffs taken in 1934 to estimate there were 100,000 Guillemots before World War II. By the 1960s there were fewer than 5,000. Professor Birkhead used the annual number of shipwrecks off western Britain as an index of oil pollution, to which auks such as Guillemots are very susceptible.

Not surprisingly, there was a big increase in shipwrecks in the early 1940s (350 in 1940-41 alone). These would have released oil as they sank, and many would do so for a decade or more.

Since the mid 1980s, guillemot numbers on Skomer have increased at around 5% per annum, but at almost 24,000 individuals (in 2015), this is still a just a quarter of the pre-war numbers observed from photos taken some eighty years ago.

Tim’s study highlights the value of ongoing, long-term studies of the islands seabird populations and also the need to carefully archive the data collected.

For more on this story, read this article by Tim Birkhead.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Bird Group AGM Summary

Summary of the Bird Group AGM

Tuesday March 23rd at Crundale Hall

Those in attendance included 9 Committee Members, 2 spouses of Committee Members, 2 speakers, and 7 other Members.
The Minutes of the previous AGM were adopted unanimously.

The Chairman presented his report which can be found in the Reports section of the Blog.
The Treasurer presented the Accounts and reported that the Conference generated a surplus of over £600 including the money generated by the auction of books (as detailed in the Chairman’s report). The surplus will be used to support bird-related projects in the County, including the signage for the new hide to be built at Cilgerran. The Group is in a healthy position to fund further new initiatives within the County and also to continue to support new publications including the Avifauna.

The Chairman’s and Treasurer’s Reports and the Accounts were adopted unanimously. The Accounts can now be forwarded to the Wildlife Trust for incorporation into the Trust Accounts
All the existing Committee Members were willing to stand and there were no other nominations to the Committee. The proposal to re-elect all the current Committee Members was approved unanimously.

The Committee Members are therefore:

Bob Haycock, Peter Royle, Graham Rees, Lyndon Lomax, Steve Sutcliffe, Anna Sutcliffe, Mike Young-Powell, Dave Gardner, Nikki Anderson, Nathan Walton, Annie Haycock.
Committee Members are elected for a period of three years and therefore the above people will not come up for re-election until 2019.

No items were raised under AOB
The Meeting agreed that the date for the next AGM should be set by the Committee.

 The AGM was followed by a very interesting talk by Wendy James, assisted by Richard Dobbins on the work carried out in Costa Rica on the ringing of local and migratory species as part of a wider study.

Peter Royle
Secretary: Pembs Bird Group

Monday, 5 January 2015

Pembrokeshire Bird List

Mike Young-Powell, assisted by Bob Haycock and Graham Rees has produced a definitive "Pembrokeshire Bird List", detailing the 373 species recorded in Pembrokeshire up to the end of 2013. It also details the status of each species within Pembrokeshire.

You will find the List on the "Reports" page of the blog.

We hope that this list will be useful not only to local birders, but will also be a valuable source of information for visiting birders

Peter Royle

Dartford Warbler Survey

Mike Young-Powell has now published the report on the Dartford Warbler Survey carried out in Pembrokeshire in 2014.

The full report can be found on the "Reports" section of this blog, under ad-hoc reports

Many thanks to Mike and his team of volunteers for this very valuable and worthwhile piece of work.

Peter Royle

Friday, 21 February 2014

Some "new" and recent ad-hoc reports/articles

Over time the Bird Group intends to publish various "ad-hoc" reports and articles relevant to birds and bird-watchers in the "Reports" section of the Blog-site.

Three such reports have been added today:
  1. An article by Peter and Rosemary Royle about their experiences when "the Orphean Warbler" turned up in their garden last November;
  2. An article by Lyndon Lomax, about  an "overwintering Turtle Dove" in St David's (remarkable perhaps considering how this species, a scarce summer passage migrant in Pembs, is sadly declining in Britain);
  3. A short report by Jane Hodges and Bob Haycock, providing summary results of a "winter coastal birds survey" conducted in February 2011 - a survey involving many volunteers.  
We would very much like to encourage folk to look at these, which are available as PDFs from the Reports page link above. Over time we hope to build up a growing archive of reports that can be browsed or downloaded from the Blog. 

If you have accounts of bird surveys or short articles on bird-related topics of potential interest that you have permission to publish and would like to share on the Blog-site then contact either Peter Royle or Bob Haycock. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

Welcome to the NEW LOOK Pembs Bird Group Blog

Our aim is to make this Blog a source of a wide range of information on Pembrokeshire Birding. It is complementary to the information found on the Pembrokeshire Birds Blog which will continue to be the source of the latest information on sightings in the County.

On the Bird Group Blog you will find information on current events, be able to access a wide range of reports, including the County Bird Report, access the Newsletter, and find links to a wide range of relevant organisations of interest to the birder in Pembrokeshire. We also plan to  add information about Bird Survey work being undertaken in the County.

Please take a few minutes to explore the various Tabs along the top to discover what the Blog has to offer.

New reports, articles, events will be regularly added so make sure to visit us from time to time to keep up.

We would love to hear what you think of the new blog. Please send your thoughts etc. to  Peter Royle, Bird Group Secretary at

Finally many many thanks to Richard Crossen for all his hard work on putting the New Look Blog together.