Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Pembrokeshire -Part 2 - Seabirds and Waders

Aghh, it wouldnt be the yearly holiday within the whole week being forcasted as rain and wind, so, with the only day that was judged to be a decent day being the day after we arrived, we decided to head out and do our yearly 'mop up' of the Pembrokeshire specialties.

In fact, we had done the exact same route last year, starting at Strumble Head, before dropping into Fishguard Harbour, then shoot across county to the Marloes/ The Gann area.

Even before reaching our first destination, we saw a RED KITE fly low over the road just outside Goodwick, always a good start!
Arriving up on Strumble in glorious sunshine was greeted with gratitude, and we parked up with the stunning view out across the Sea. With the famous lighthouse to the left, and the equally famous 'Seawatching shelter' to the right.

As you would expect, our main objective was seabirds, and we were initially quite disappointed with the range present, with only Gannets and a few Kittiwake being the highlights. However, just prior to the passing of the Fishguard to Ireland ferry a large influx of Cetacean's offshore also brought a huge dose of new excitement! An estimated pod of 100 combined Common Bottle-nose Dolphins and Harbor Porpoise joined us, and that is always the precursor to seabirds!

And i was not wrong!

First we were joined by around 40 Kittiwake, as well as hundreds of other Large Gulls, and countless Gannets, with almost constant streams of Guillemot and Razorbill, and in quick pursuit was a single PUFFIN.

While scanning through the Gulls i noticed 2 birds flying east (or left), picking up a black hood, and large red bill. An alternating black and white primary pattern was also evident and i was soon calling out that 2 2nd summer MEDITERRANEAN GULLS were flying offshore!
The crazy fact about this though was not the fact that 2 Med Gulls were flying past, but that despite the half mile+ range the birds were flying at, you could hear them calling as they flew past, their loud 'YEAH' call puncturing the sound of Herring Gulls and the sea lapping onto the steep cliff below us.

Scanning through a pod of surfacing Dolphins, accompanied by diving Gannets, i scoped a few birds, to want of a better phrase, shearing low over the waves!


I love seeing these birds, so graceful in flight, and i am always completely awestruck that these birds spend practically their whole lives out at sea!

Onland, we were entertained by a pair of STONECHAT, which would often perch upon a barbed wire fence nearby, as i said in the last post, they are stunning birds!

A single CHOUGH flew past, which was hardly a satisfying view!

With most of the morning gone, we decided to move on, and dropped into Goodwick Harbour, where we happened to chance upon 2 SANDWICH TERN which were feeding within the breakwater. 15 Oystercatcher were feeding on the exposed mud, and a single female Wheatear was flitting along the walkway.

Another RED KITE was found just north of Haverfordwest airport hunting over roadside fields.

Our arrival at Marloes was full of anticipation, but sadly it failed to produce any of the hoped for birds, with the Glossy Ibis remaining hidden for the entire visit, so, with the birding day drawing to a close we drove the short distance to The Gann, one of my favorite birding spots in the county!

And i was soon rewarded with a stunning, incredibly late 1st summer GREAT-NORTHERN DIVER!

The bird was hunting in the bay, and after some time it actually came in fairly close to the shore, constantly feeding, and very hard to get a photo of!

A single WHIMBREL and BAR-TAILED GODWIT were in the wider bay area, and other waders were represented by 5 RINGED PLOVER, 30 OYC and 10 Dunlin!

The Diver however did end up starting to preen, and i had cracking views, including a few in which the bird would rear up out of the water and have a flap.

With the family now calling, it was time to leave, so i grabbed a few last pictures of the Diver and left.

I really love this little spot!


Jason K said...

What a cracking bit of Pembrokeshire birding and a great summary.

I have missed going there this year...may have to pencil it in for a 2014 holiday!!!

Mike T said...

As Jason said, what a good day's birding and an excellent report.Looking forward to the next blog.

midlands birder said...

Cheers Guys. This day (and the uncoming day in the next post i classify as my two best days birding in Pembrokeshire ever, so i would agree, cracking couple of days!

Mike Mayberry said...

What a great variety of birds you saw whilst in my area. We've had some great trips this week with lots of sea birds to see. The highlight has to be Skomer though, there's a great video of the Puffins on our facebook page that you might like.