GOS Trips in 2017

Some dates for your diaries plus some additional information. I’m running a field trip this year in each January, February & March. Two local trips and an away trip to North Wales.

1# As is traditional for the January trip we will combine a trip to Whiteford before driving to Llanrhidian for the Egret & Harrier roost. This will take place on Saturday 14th January 2017. Meet at Cam Ivy car park at 08:30 with a full day around Whiteford planned before heading to Marsh Road e/o Llanrhidian by 15:00 to observe the roost before last light.

2# Away trip to North Wales. This trip will target Black Grouse, Twite, Surf Scoter and possibly Greenland White-fronted Goose depending on time. At present there are four of us confirmed and we’ll be going up together in my car. The plan will be to travel through the night to get to the Black Grouse lekking sites (near Wrexham) before first light on Friday 17th February 2017. From there we will go to the private reserve on Connah’s Quay for Twite before finishing with a check over the Scoter flock near Llandudno. Overnight stay in Premier in at Llandudno (Glan-Conwy) LL28 5LB is already booked for four of us. On Saturday 18th, depending on the success of Friday, we will either try for Black Grouse again, or perhaps return to South Wales via Greenland White-fronted Geese. I’m quite happy to lead additional car-loads of birders over both days but travel arrangements (including car-share) and accommodation will need to be arranged independantly. For further details about joining with this trip please contact me directly.

3# Looking for Great Grey Shrikes. This has been a successful trip in previous  years and this year’s target location will be Mynydd Marchywel. Meet beforehand at Aberdulais Falls visitor centre at 09:00 on Sunday 12th March 2017 to travel up together from there. It is essential to contact me before this trip so that I have an idea of numbers.

07875 431 917 or markhipkin1@gmail.com

Overton Gower 28th Aug 16

An enjoyable morning’s birding around Overton yesterday with Darren Coombs. Started off walking west along coast path to check out the sheltered valleys before checking out the sewage treatment works and scrub around Port Eynon point. Without any scarcities to celebrate the day there was lots of activity, especially west of the Overton village, which was rewarding for our efforts.

Highlights included – juv Whinchat, juv Grasshopper Warbler, juv Sedge Warbler, Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat (2), Garden Warbler (3), Chiffchaff (5), Blackcap (15+) and Whitethroat (20+). Decent numbers of Stonechats, Linnets, Goldfinches and House Sparrows along the coastal path lined bushes and half dozen Yellowhammers in the first sheltered valley west of Overton.

A dozen or so Collared Doves around the village raised hopes of perhaps a Turtle Dove being mixed in, but sadly not this time. A couple of Sparrowhawks including a very large female also had their eye on the doves while a Red Kite was hunting over the stubble fields.

This area continues to look very promising so hopefully a rare or two will be found here before the autumn is done.

GOS events programme

Just a quick note to inform everyone that the GOS events page is now up to date. Lots of opportunities to come and see some of the special birdlife to be found in our area and brush up on song recognition.

I’m particularly looking forward to Paul Denning’s talk this Friday (1/4/16). Titled ‘The Wildlife of Eastern Glamorgan’ this illustrated talk will be speaking about wildlife from the Heritage Coast to Northern Uplands.

There’s probably an opportunity to add a little gag about how one might be foolish not to come along, but I can’t think of how to make it snappy. Suggesting welcome on a postcard. Anyway, having been to one of Paul’s talks in the past I know this will be worth seeing.

GOS talks, as always, are held in the Environment Centre, Pier Street, Swansea. Arrive for 19:15 start and £1 on the door to help cover room hire. Hope to see many of you there.

Crymlyn Burrows

Lesser Whitethroat singing at the east end today might be a bird on territory for a second brood? Or possibly that’s very optimistic – they’re rarely heard here but easily missed. Other warblers in song included a few Chiffchaffs, a few Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler and 3 Sedge Warblers.

A few Painted Lady on the wing today. Probably just into double figures of them yesterday nearer the foreshore plus 2 Dark Green Fritillaries

Egyptian Goose at Portobello (1/1/15)

Paid my respects to the Egyptian Goose late afternoon yesterday. Must have just missed Mike, although in some ways it was reassuring that there wasn’t an assembled crowd for this county first. Anyway I was fairly pleased having made the effort and not to have dipped it.

There was a good crowd of gulls gathered around Portobello and a Leucitic Herring Gull appeared briefly. It appeared to be a 3rd cal yr bird and my assumption at the time was it might be the Cosmeston bird, but not sure if the age is a match. Elsewhere a Curlew and a Common Sandpiper were around the island and 2 Whimbrel milling about next to Ogmore Down GC

GOS Field Trip to Kenfig Saltmarsh

A group of nine braved a chilly, but bright, 07:30 start and energetic walk from Kenfig Ind Est out to the river mouth via Kenfig Castle and back via Morfa Tip. The chance of 2 Cranes kept us alert and the birding was good. Highlights, Marsh Harrier (fem type still about from yesterday), Whimbrel (3), Sandwich Tern (3), Shoveler (pair), Sedge Warbler (1), Reed Warbler (4+), Whitethroat, Tree Pipit and female Redstart. At least 56 species seen over the day between the group.

Brown Argus Morfa Tip 19Apr15

No luck with the Cranes but there were 2 very early pristine Brown Argus flying along the path at the base of Morfa Tip’s southern slope. Also a few Orange-tips, a Green-veined White, a Brimstone, a few peacocks and a few Small Tortoiseshells along the walk.

Gowerton and Crymlyn

A Marsh Tit holding territory at Allt-wen Wood this morning was a nice return from a first time visit to this very good habitat. Lots of other typical woodland species there in good numbers, including a singing Chiffchaff.

This evening at Crymlyn Burrows just before HT a Manx Shearwater was sitting on the sea not far from the shore. Although not obviously injured or unwell this was a very unusual sighting for the site was a bit concerning. Not seen to fly off before the mist rolled in. Elsewhere in the bay, before the mist arrived, I counted 3 Red-throated Divers but no sign of yesterday’s summer plumage bird, and 4 Great Crested Grebes near the shipping channel. A Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach was a sign of some wader movement and last but not least a Nuthatch in west wood might be described as ‘Patch Gold’!

Wading into Ornithology

GOS Indoor meeting tomorrow night (27/03/15)

Emma-Louise Cole will be talking to the society tomorrow evening about her experiences that got her into birding and also some views the birding scene today. Emma-Louise wears many different hats including Secretary for Next Generation Birders, BTO rep for Swansea University and trainee ringer amongst other things. In her final year as an undergraduate in Ecology at Swansea University she has made a lot of time to partake in bird studies locally as well as going on the occasional twitch.

It’ll be interesting listen to Emma-Louise’s views and ideas on how our society can be doing more to encourage the younger generation to get into birding and become part of local bird societies or clubs. I’m led to believe there will be an element of interaction between the audience and Emma-Louise who will be assisted on the evening by WWT Llanelli employee Dani Rouse. Expect something more contemporary from this style of talk with some good old reminiscing mixed it. It should be a good laugh.

Also making an appearance will be the elusive GOS annual report for 2013.

Arrive at 19:15 for 19:30 start, Environment Centre, Pier Street, Swansea

£1 on the door to help cover room hire.

GOS Field Trip to Dinefwr (1/3/15)

Darren Coombs and I took lead of the GOS outdoor meeting to Dinefwr, yesterday. Eight of us enjoyed a full day and covered much of the park in search primarily for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. Unfortunately we were unable to turn up any. Conditions were good early morning and a few Great spotted could be heard along with the occasion Green Woodpecker. Between us as a group we saw about 60 species over the course of the day including a good mix of woodland species and wildfowl. The Great White Egret was showing on the pools along with Gadwall, Teal and Wigeon. Looking distantly towards Cilsan bridge found at least 2 ad Whooper Swans in fields with some Mute Swans. In the wood about 5 Marsh Tits were seen and also here some Redwings and Stock Doves. The biggest surprise was a male Merlin that passed through quickly, no doubt attracted to the grounds around the Castle by the decent flock of Meadow Pipits (c45).

Around lunchtime we waited out the heavy rain at Dryslwyn Car Park where a further 7 ad Whooper Swans were on view amongst the flock of geese there – mainly Canada Geese with a few Greylag Geese mixed in. A good flock of Wigeon here too along with a few Little Grebes, Mallard and Teal. A short walk to Dryslwyn village was rewarded with 4 Tree Sparrows among an impressive number of garden birds attracted to feeders in a private garden.

Honey Buzzard talk by Steve Roberts

This Friday’s (27/2/15) Gower Ornithological Society indoor meeting will be an illustrated talk on Honey Buzzards by expert Steve Roberts.

Anyone who knows Steve is well aware of his tremendous knowledge about the lifecycle of Honey Buzzards, and the tireless work he does in order to help preserve both local and national breeding populations. Steve will show some footage of birds as well as discuss points from his recent article on Honey Buzzards which was published in British Birds. It is a meeting that will be well worth attending!

19:15 start

Environment Centre, Pier St., Swansea, SA1 1RY


GOS field trip cancelled

The ‘Looking for Great Grey Shrikes’ field trip scheduled for Sunday 22nd February is now cancelled due to the weather forecast for that day.

I will be contacting all those who had given me notice of their intention to join this field trip. Please do not turn up at the meeting point at Neath Abbey Tesco if the weather improves between now and Sunday. The field trip will now remain cancelled.

Thank you.

Vis-Mig at Mumbles

Pomarine Skua Bracelet Bay 11Oct14

An enjoyable morning around Mumbles Head with Darren Coombs, Becky Sharp & Owain Gabb. 50 species were noted between us. The weather was seemingly very kind to us from first light, when compared with what we could see was occurring nearby, and only a brief period of light rain before a huge downpour at 12:30 that brought the field trip to a close. The good numbers of species seen today included some very nice records. One of the highlights was a stunning adult Pomarine Skua (shown above) found by Darren as it was flying over Bracelet Bay. Owain found a very elusive Dartford Warbler near the car park and Becky saw a Whinchat there too. Other highlights from the day included Great Northern Diver (1), Stock Dove (1), Wood Pigeon (72), Green woodpecker (1), Goldcrest (7), Sky Lark (8), Swallow (c650), House Martin (34), Chiffchaff (3), Blackcap (17), Stonechat (9), Grey Wagtail (2), Chaffinch (63), Linnet (38) & Goldfinch (34).

Birding weekend

Looks like there are good opportunities to join in with some birding activities this weekend either at Mumbles on Saturday or at Kenfig NNR on Sunday.

Mumbles Head tomorrow for a chance to have a look around the bushes and hopefully observe some visible migration. There were good numbers of Sky Larks and Meadow Pipits moving through Crymlyn Burrows earlier today but also 22 Swallows and a House Martin passing through. Hopefully the calmer weather tomorrow will encourage some more migration with perhaps something special mixed in. I’ll be at the Mumbles Car park from 07:00 and will remain near there till 08:00 before moving up onto the hill. Depending on numbers of birds and participants we’ll probably stick around the general area till about 11:00. We’ll never be too far away from the car park so joining up at any time before 11:00 should be fairly straightforward. My contact details can be found on the contacts page of the main website, if planning to join later give a call in the morning and I’ll be able to tell you where to find us.

The Sunday event at Kenfig looks really good too and I’m sure that will be further promoted on here later today or tomorrow. All event details are found via links on the main website

Illustrated Talk by Mark Hipkin

With the first signs of Autumn weather arriving today I’ve started to publish the details of the GOS winter programme of Talks and Walks; including mine which takes place tomorrow evening! Many of you should already have received the programme through the post or by email, but the details are now starting to appear on the Home Page of Glamorgan Birds with further details to be found via a link from that page.

My talk tomorrow will give a favour of the wildlife, including birds insects and plants, that can be found along the Wales Coastal Path. Location as usual is the Environment Centre, Pier Street, Swansea. Arrive from 19:00 for 19:30 start. A voluntary contribution of £1 per person helps to cover the cost of the room hire.

George Morgan

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 19.32.13

It was with great sadness that I found out that George Morgan passed away yesterday morning. George was 73 and extremely popular with the local birding community. I only got to know George well in 2009 when I started going birding again. It was of course at Eglwys that I would bump into him; in fact going birding at Eglwys was a bit like going to see George at home. Over the years George contributed vast amounts of records which allow us to have a good understanding of bird trends from his area – including Eglwys, Port Talbot Docks and Margam Park. His contribution to WeBS is invaluable. George made a number of discoveries of rarer birds and I know that he had a big fondness for Phalaropes. Indeed he would find Grey Phalaropes annually and he also discovered at least one Red-necked Phalarope. Apart from being a good birder George was also great company and I will miss his sometimes wicked sense of humour.

For all the birders who knew George, I know I can send heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.

Crymlyn Burrows

Greylag Goose on the beach, Common Scoter (1), Great Crested Grebe (1), Whimbrel (1), Chiffchaff (4), Willow Warbler (1), Blackcap (4), Whitethroat (9), Wheatear (5), Whinchat (3), Redstart (1m), Spotted Flycatcher (1) and Grey Wagtail (3) – (DCo, MHi)