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.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN for Pembs Bird Conference

You can now book your places at the 2016 Pembs Bird Conference.

Full details of the Conference are shown on the Events page of this blog, and you can book by clicking on the Booking Form tab at the right hand end of the tabs at the top of this page.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Pembrokeshire Bird Conference: Advance Notice

This year's Conference will be held again at the Picton Centre, Haverfordwest, on Sunday Nov.27th., and is again being sponsored by Valero.

The programme will include a Forum on Waterways and Coastal Issues, A Waterfowl ID Session, a talk on the Sociable Plover by Mark Underhill (RSPB) and the keynote speaker will be David Saunders on "The History of Birdwatching in Pembrokeshire"

Of course there will the usual Pembrokeshire Diary, Quiz and raffle, and lunch by Gina Smithies

Bookings will open towards the end of October, due to holiday commitments, and emails will be sent to everyone on the Bird Group mailing list. Booking Forms will be available on the Bird Group Blog and will also be able to be accessed from the Pembs Bird Blog. Ticket prices have been held the same as last year, thanks to the continuing support of Valero

Put a note in your diary now!

Peter Royle

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

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Pelagic Trips 2016

Lyndon Lomax is again organising pelagic trips to see the birds and mammals from the Celtic Wildcat.

The events page of this blog gives full details and booking arrangements.

Thanks to Lyndon for his hard work in organising these trips

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Wader ID in the field with Clive Hurford

An introduction to wader identification
Following on from his fascinating talk “an introduction to wader identification” at the last Pembrokeshire Bird Conference, Clive Hurford is planning a follow session in the field for anyone interested in brushing up on their ID skills, but no previous experience is expected.
Why not join Clive on Sunday 14th February, 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

Talk by Paddy Jenks

Mid - Pembrokeshire Group

      Monday 8th February at 7.30 pm
Talk by Paddy Jenks

“Studying wheatears in the Preselis”

               In the Cashfield Community Centre , Cashfield Way, Haverfordwest, 
                                           (Off Crowhill Road B4330)  
                    Admission £2 inc.tea/coffee &biscuits.   All welcome

                                                   For further information
                    contact John Steer on 01646 278966 /

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Mid - Pembrokeshire Group

  Annual walk along Stena’s Outer Breakwater at Fishguard Harbour
                               Saturday, 6th February, 2016 at 10.30 am

We have seen in the past purple sandpipers, various divers, cetaceans
 plus the occasional
snow bunting

Meet at Goodwick Parrog car park SM947381
                                                     £2 Entrance Fee

NB. John Steer would like people to contact him with their name & car registration number for Stena
 if they are intending to come

on 01646 278966 or

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Another Successful Conference

Everyone seemed to really enjoy this year's Conference with 100 people filling the Picton Centre Annie Haycock stepped in to give us the Pembrokeshire Diary, and then we enjoyed an innovative session of four speakers talking on aspects of habitat management for birds. Despite some initial misgivings from some of the audience we were pleasantly surprised to learn of the
extent of conservation work undertaken by the wildfowling side of BASC.

Everyone then took advantage of the lunch break to catch up with friends and do a spot of networking.  The Wildlife Trust stall, the raffle ticket sellers, and the photo id quiz made sure everyone was kept busy and entertained.

David Gardner started the afternoon proceedings off with an auction for a set of The Birds of the Western Palearctic, donated by Linda McCann which had belonged to her late partner Wilmot Brand, a long time Pembrokeshire Birder. Robert Shaw (left in the photo) made the winning bid of £250. Thank you Rob.

In the post lunch session Clive Hurford gave a master class with extremely helpful tips in the art of wader identification * and then Toby Phelps, in his first ever talk in front of an audience, gave us a fascinating insight into how he developed his passion for birds and how it infuses all aspects of his life, from Duke of Edinburgh awards to University applications.

Toby then demonstrated his birding knowledge by winning the photo id quiz, with a nest box prize presented by Lizzie Wilberforce

Emyr Evans wound up the Conference with a fascinating insiders view of the First Ten Years of Ospreys In Wales demonstrating his immense knowledge of, and commitment to, all things  Osprey.

The Conference raised around £350 to go towards restoring the hides at Cilgerran, as will the £250 raised by the auction.

We would welcome any feedback and thoughts for future Conferences.

Peter Royle

* Clive's Wader Guide is now available in the Reports Section of this Blog.

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