Scarce and Rare Birds in Wales – January 2017

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.


A mostly grey start to the year, with a cold blast of Arctic air mid-month. There were relatively few new arrivals during the month, but one bird in East Glamorgan came out of the blue!

Bittern (Mark Wilson)

bittern, Montgomeryshire (Mark Wilson)

Great White Egrets were at Llanrhidian Marsh (Gower) on 2nd-10th, Llangorse Lake (Brecon) on 1st-28th, Dryslwyn (Carmarthen) on 3rd, National Wetlands Centre (Carmarthen) on 11th-18th, Newport Wetlands (Gwent) on 14th, Dale (Pembroke) on 21st, Lougher (Gower) on 24th and RSPB Ynys-hir (Ceredigion) on 25th. Up to 5 CATTLE EGRETS remained in the Pont Marquis area (Anglesey) throughout the month, and one at Newport (Pembroke) to 27th at least. Bitterns were at Cosmeston Lakes CP (East Glamorgan) on 1st, perhaps the same at Cardiff Bay on 9th-20th, and others at the Welsh Wildlife Centre (Pembroke) on 5th, Bettws (Gwent) on 30th-31st and Llyn Coed-y-Dinas (Montgomery) on 24th-27th.

Great northern diver (Steve Culley)

Great northern diver, Anglesey (Steve Culley)

Eight Great Northern Divers were off Lligwy (Anglesey) on 16th, and singles at Rhossili Bay (Gower) on 18th and Rhos-on-Sea (Caernarfon) on 30th. Black-throated Divers were seen off Aberaeron (Ceredigion) and Holyhead (Anglesey) on 28th, and Llanfairfechan (Caernarfon) on 30th. Black-necked Grebes were on the Inland Sea (Anglesey) until 5th and at Whiteford NNR (Gower) on 7th. Slavonian Grebes were off Llanfairfechan on 22nd-30th and Aber Ogwen (Caernarfon) on 30th. A RED-NECKED GREBE was on the Teifi Estuary (Pembroke/Caernarfon) on 6th and one was off Penmon (Anglesey) on 15th-19th.

ring-necked duck (Arfon Williams)

ring-necked duck, Ceredigion (Arfon Williams)

Greenland White-fronted Geese remained on the Dyfi estuary (Ceredigion/Meirionnydd/Montgomery) throughout the month, including one that was satellite-tagged in December. Six Eurasian White-fronted Geese were on the River Clwyd (Denbigh) on 7th, and 12 Bewick’s Swans were on Shotwick Fields (Flint) on 21st-22nd. A SURF SCOTER was off Pendine (Pembroke) on 4th, two drakes off Rhossili Bay on 22nd, and three were distant off Llanddulas (Denbigh) during 20th-26th. A female RING-NECKED DUCK was at Cors Caron (Ceredigion) on 1st, and an AMERICAN WIGEON was on the Gann Estuary (Pembroke) from December to 22nd, but a report on the Nevern Estuary (Pembroke) was most likely a hybrid.

There were no waders of note, but Common Sandpipers were recorded at RSPB Conwy (Denbigh), Rhuddlan (Denbigh) and Connah’s Quay (Flint) during the month.

glaucous gull (Alan Jones)

glaucous gull, anglesey (Alan Jones)

Northerly winds brought Iceland Gulls to the Teifi Estuary on 2nd-16th, Cardiff Bay on 8th, Towyn (Denbigh) on 14th, and Glaucous Gulls to Cardiff Bay on 8th-28th, Kinmel Bay (Denbigh) on 14th, Fishguard (Pembroke) on 14th-28th, Aberystwyth (Ceredigion) on 22nd, and a bird ringed as chick on Svalbard last year was photographed in Holyhead (Anglesey) on 21st-23rd. The returning RING-BILLED GULL was at Llys-y-Fran Reservoir (Pembroke) until 25th at least.

red-flanked bluetail (Alan Cripps)

red-flanked bluetail, East Glamorgan (Alan Cripps)

Surprise of the month was a wintering RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL at Caerphilly (East Glamorgan) on 26th-29th, likely to be the fifth record for Wales. Black Redstarts were widespread: at Penarth (East Glamorgan) on 1st-29th, Newport Wetlands on 2nd-5th, Aberystwyth on 1st-21st, Fishguard on 2nd, Stackpole Quay (Pembroke) over 2nd-28th, Cardiff on 5th-7th, Telpyn Point (Carmarthen) on 5th, Kinmel Bay boat yard on 7th, Amroth (Pembroke) on 7th, Tenby (Pembroke) on 11th-14th, Ogmore by Sea (East Glamorgan) on 22nd, Southerndown (East Glamorgan) on 21st and Llanelli (Carmarthen) on 28th.

siberian chiffchaff (Elfyn Lewis)

siberian chiffchaff, Caernarfonshire (Elfyn Lewis)

Yellow-browed Warbler is a species that a decade ago wouldn’t be seen in Wales in midwinter, but there were four in January: at RSPB Valley Wetlands and Soldier’s Point (both Anglesey) on 2nd and two in Pembrokeshire on 8th, at St. Ishmael’s and Dale. Firecrests were scarce, with just three, at RSPB Conwy on 2nd-7th, Penrhyn Bay (Caernarfon) on 7th, and Bosherton Lily Ponds (Pembroke) on 28th.

The remarkable Autumn/Winter run of SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS continued with birds at Monk’s Haven (Pembroke) on 1st, Cardiff Bay on 2nd-20th, Porthmadog (Caernarfon) on 8th-29th, Brecon sewage works from 15th into February, and at Porth Eynon Point (Gower) on 21st. This remains, statistically, a rare bird in Wales, and we urge all observers to submit their records to the Welsh Records Panel.

snow bunting (Tom Kistruck)

snow bunting, Ceredigion (Tom Kistruck)

Water Pipits were at East Aberthaw (East Glamorgan) on 8th, Ogmore estuary (East Glamorgan) on 7th, Newgale (Pembroke) on 7th, RSPB Conwy on 7th-26th, Dalton’s Point (East Glamorgan) on 15th, Peterstone Wentlooge (Gwent) on 14th-15th and on the Teifi Estuary on 2nd-25th. Ten Lapland Buntings were at Martin’s Haven (Pembroke) on 14th-28th. Snow Buntings remained at Llandudno (Caernarfon) on 2nd-31st (up to three), Whiteford NNR on 1st-5th, Borth (Ceredigion) on 18th and Llanrhystyd (Ceredigion) on 28th. Up to 50 Twite were at Connah’s Quay throughout.

waxwing (Tony Cross)

waxwing, Radnorshire (Tony Cross)

Waxwings were still out in force with 70+ in Denbigh town, up to 40 in Llandrindod (Radnor) on 2nd, 80 in Kinmel Bay, and smaller flocks across mid and south Wales. Colour-ringed birds included a bird from Aberdeen photographed four days later in Wrexham (Denbigh); and one ringed on 15th October 2016 at Grimstadvatnet, Norway, which travelled 1,264km SSE to Radnor, where it was re-trapped on 25th.

Great Grey Shrikes were at Cors Caron on 1st, Afan Forest Park (Gower) on 5th, Tal-y-Bont Reservoir (Brecon) on 20th and Cross Inn Forest (Ceredigion) on 19th. There were some other interesting darvic-ringed sightings including a Hawfinch from Dolgellau, Meirionnydd (ringed in 2015), that was photographed on a bird table in Trondheim, Norway, and a Black-headed Gull from Pitsea Tip (Essex), seen at Pensarn (Denbigh) alongside a Mediterranean Gull ringed in Calais (France) and returning to the area for its third winter.


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