Scarce and rare birds in Wales – May 2016

This is compiled for birdsin.wales by Robin Sandham. Records featured are subject to acceptance by the British Birds Rarities Committee and the Welsh Records Panel, where relevant. An index of all months can be found here.


Finally some Spring-like weather with reasonable temperatures, although the wind was predominantly from the north or east for most of the month. Those nest-monitoring indicated that summer migrants such as Pied Flycatchers were over 10 days behind, with first egg-laying across the northern half of Wales on 8th. Thankfully temperatures increased at the end of the month and brought a flurry of rarities.

A Black-throated Diver was off Bardsey (Caernarfon) on 22nd. The overwintering drake LESSER SCAUP in Cardiff Bay (East Glamorgan) stayed until 2nd. A pair of Garganey was at RSPB Conwy (Denbigh) from 1st-8th, with others at the Welsh Wildlife Centre (Pembroke) on 8th-10th, Skomer (Pembroke) on 9th, Kenfig NNR (East Glamorgan) on 12th, National Wetlands Centre (Carmarthen) on 19th, and Marloes (Pembroke) on 23rd-28th.

squacco heron (Paul Roberts)

squacco heron (Paul Roberts)

A WHITE STORK seen briefly near Mona Airfield (Anglesey) on 12th is presumed to have been the one on the mainland in April. Single Spoonbills were at Loughor (Gower) on 20th-26th, Newport Wetlands (Gwent) on 21st, and RSPB Conwy on 29th, with two at Aber Dysynni (Meirionnydd) on 22nd. A SQUACCO HERON was on the Ogmore Estuary (East Glamorgan) on 29th.

An Iceland Gull at Nefyn (Caernarfon) on 3rd was the only one this month, while a BONAPARTE’S GULL was at the National Wetlands Centre on 12th-15th. Little Gulls were at Llyn Coed

gull-billed tern (Peter Howlett)

gull-billed tern (Peter Howlett)

Dinas (Montgomery) on 3rd, Sandy Water Park (Carmarthen) on 25th and Newport Wetlands on 28th-30th. Three Black Terns were at Newport Wetlands on 6th, a single was at Cemlyn (Anglesey) on 8th-10th, eight were at Llangorse Lake (Brecon) on 10th, three at Llyn Trawsfynydd (Meirionnydd) on 10th, and singles at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir (East Glamorgan) and Llandegfedd Reservoir (Gwent) on 12th. A WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN was an excellent find at Penberi Reservoir (Pembroke) on 26th. A GULL-BILLED TERN flew over Skomer on 9th and one at Loughor Bridge (Gower/Carmarthen) was enjoyed by many birders over 18th-21st. A Pomarine Skua was off Bardsey on 8th and 4 Storm-petrels flew past Porthcawl (East Glamorgan) on 18th.

Dotterels are a typical visitor in May, with four on Drum-y-Eira (Radnor) and five at West Hook (Pembroke) on 4th; an impressive 13 were at Martin’s Haven

lammergeier videograb

lammergeier videograb

(Pembroke) on 6th with one on the Great Orme (Caernarfon) on 13th-14th. A Wood Sandpiper on Bardsey on 8th was the only one this month. A TEREK SANDPIPER was at RSPB Ynys-hir (Ceredigion) on 9th, but frustratingly stayed for only five minutes. A BLACK KITE was over Bardsey and then RSPB South Stack (Anglesey) on 10th. A Honey Buzzard flew over Strumble Head (Pembroke) on 30th. But the real bombshell was a LAMMERGEIER filmed by a non-birder at Sudbrook (Gwent) on 12th, suspected by many people to be a genuine vagrant, but not seen again in Wales. If accepted, it will be the first British record.

blyth's pipit (Steve Stansfield)

blyth’s pipit (Steve Stansfield)

A prolonged easterly airflow at the start of the second week brought an interesting mix of species with BLACK-HEADED WAGTAIL at Whitesands Bay (Pembroke) and on the River Clwyd at Rhuddlan (Flint) on 8th. GREY-HEADED WAGTAILS were at Cemlyn on 9th, Bardsey on 27th and the Great Orme on 30th. A Blue-headed Wagtail remained at RSPB Conwy from March to 3rd, two were at Cemlyn over 8th-

greenish warbler (Ben Porter)

greenish warbler (Ben Porter)

9th and one was on Bardsey on 9th. A ‘Channel’ Wagtail was at Llandudno (Caernarfon) on 8th and a Spanish-type (iberiae) Yellow Wagtail was on Skomer on 9th-11th. A BLYTH’S PIPIT was a brilliant Spring record (Britain’s first) on Bardsey on 11th, sharing the island with an EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER (9th-11th). Another EASTERN was found on Skokholm (Pembroke) on 14th, just a day after a WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER on the island. A SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF was ringed on Bardsey on 12th and two GREENISH WARBLERS were there on 28th-29th, one ringed on its first day. A SAVI’S WARBLER sang at Newport Wetlands from 29th.

red-breasted flycatcher (Steve Stansfield)

red-breasted flycatcher (Steve Stansfield)

Two SERINS were on the Great Orme on 12th and one flew over Bardsey on 13th. The first NIGHTINGALE in Flintshire for many years was found in a Mold timberyard on 12th and one was on Skomer on 13th. A RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER was on Bardsey on 28th and what was thought to be a second bird on 30th. Firecrests were at RSPB South Stack on 7th and on Skokholm on 10th. Turtle Doves, now so rare as to be noteworthy, were on Skokholm on 4th and 28th, Kenfig on 7th, St. David’s Head (Pembroke) and Bardsey on 9th, at RSPB Conwy on 20th and at Llangwnadl (Caernarfon) on 21st.

A GOLDEN ORIOLE was at Marloes on 6th-10th and on Skokholm on 11th. A ROSE-COLOURED STARLING was at Solva (Pembroke) on 22nd but a bright pink Magpie caused some confusion around St.David’s over 27th-28th. WOODCHAT SHRIKES were on Skomer on 4th-8th and 24-26th and one was at Hen Borth (Anglesey) on 8th. A female RED-BACKED SHRIKE was ringed on Skokholm on 23rd and a male was on Skomer on 27th. The overwintering Great Grey Shrike at Cross Inn Forest (Ceredigion) remained until 1st. The only Wryneck of the month was on Bardsey on 16th and Hoopoes were in Broadhaven (Pembroke) on 13th and at Cwmbran (Gwent) on 15th. An ALPINE SWIFT was at Whitland (Carmarthen) on 23rd, a SHORT-TOED LARK at Ynys Las (Ceredigion) on 31st, an ORTOLAN BUNTING on Bardsey on 15th and a BLACK-HEADED BUNTING on Skomer on 24th.


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