Bob Griffiths - Short-eared Owl
Keith Noble - Peregrine
Keith Noble - Cormorant
Keith Noble - Iceland Gull
Mike Williams - Red Kite
Goshawk - Mike Warburton
Yellowhammer - Jeff Slocombe
Kingfisher - Mike Williams
Where & When
This article aims to build on the success of regular contributors and others to the annual county report produced in Breconshire Birds and this website that was launched in July 2007 to increase the recording of avifauna within the county including scarce passage and non-breeding birds.
A month by month guide follows that aims to highlight the pattern of scarce passage appearance as well as identify some key locations where these passage species are likely to occur as well as other species of note.
Previously the annual county report Breconshire Birds produced excellent articles covering wader passage in 1990 and 2000 and Tern Passage in 1990 and 2002 by Michael Shrubb and Martin Peers and are invaluable reading for anyone interested in the avifauna of Breconshire. Current and past issues of Breconshire Birds can be obtained by contacting the Brecknock Wildlife Trust.
This is one of the best months to record a wintering Bittern at Llangorse Lake as well as occasional Bewick’s Swan, Brent Goose, Smew and Waxwing. Periodic invasions of the latter tend to take until late December to reach the county with bird numbers peaking early to mid month. It is also the joint second best month to find a rare bird in the county with records including White-fronted Goose, Ring-necked Duck, Black-necked and Slavonian Grebe.
Green Sandpiper and Jack Snipe are still present. Good wintering territories to explore include the margins of Llangorse Lake, Traeth Mawr and the Wye at Glasbury. Great Grey Shrike will now be more settled on their winter territories. A visit to coniferous woodland such as Battle Hill, Glasfynydd or Upper Neuadd Reservoir may turn up a wintering flock of Crossbill as well as winter finch flocks which could include Brambling. Late in the month has been known to turn up the odd interesting wader and Red-breasted Merganser sometimes make a brief appearance. Recent rare finds this month have included Kittiwake and Iceland Gull.
Peak Common Gull passage is seen this month with birds throughout the month at any regular gull site but the best chance of this species is at Llangorse Lake. There are more records of Egyptian Goose this month than any other. It is one of the better months to find typical upland birds such as Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier and Red Grouse with good sites to visit including the Trecastle Roman Road, Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Llangynidir. Migration gets under way with early returning breeders back on territory with average first return dates of 15th for both Sand Martin and Chiffchaff quickly followed by Little Ringed Plover and Ring Ouzel. There should be a trickle of waders including Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Ringed Plover and the month end may see the first ‘White’ Wagtail. Rare finds this month have included Great Skua and Spotted Crake.
It is the peak passage month for Little Gull which has been recorded throughout the month but only ever at Llangorse Lake where most years passage takes place over just a few days of the first sighting. Wetland sites such as Llangorse Lake, Brecfa Pool and Talybont Reservoir are well worth watching as most records of Bar-tailed Godwit occur this month along with Ruff, Whimbrel, Greylag Goose, Shelduck and ‘White’ Wagtail. Terns will begin to pass through, keep an eye out for an early Sandwich Tern, and statistically it is the best month to see Artic Tern. Late in the month Dotterel begin to pass through in small numbers so upland areas are worth visiting. Recent rare finds this month have included Hoopoe.
An upland walk in the first 10 days of May could be rewarded with migrating Dotterel as this is when most are recorded. Dunlin, Ruff, Sanderling, Whimbrel and Osprey spring passage peaks and there is a chance of Greenshank and Turnstone. It is the most common month to find a Garganey and spring tern passage peaks with a chance of Little Tern and even Roseate Terns have been recorded this month. The Llangorse reed beds and margins will be filled with both Reed and Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat, Grasshopper and Cetti Warbler should also be found in small numbers. Recent rare finds this month have included Kittiwake, Whiskered Tern and Great White Egret.
Just a trickle of wader and tern passage remains this month and the small feral Barnacle flock may well be back at Llangorse. Nightjar should be back on territory with churring males heard from the 3rd on average at traditional sites such as Glasfynydd and Mynydd Du forests. A visit to mature woodland will be rewarded with summer breeding Wood Warbler, Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher as well as the commoner warblers. Recent rare finds this month have included Citrine Wagtail, White Stork, Quail and Great White Egret.
July sees the peak Common Scoter passage when birds can be recorded throughout the month particularly at Llangorse Lake and Usk Reservoir. It is a good month to record Little Egret and Osprey. Peak numbers of Oystercatcher and Redshank are recorded in July which turn up at seemingly any wetland site and it is the second best month for Green Sandpiper. A visit to one of the county’s commons should give breeding Stonechat, Linnet, Redpoll, Yellowhammer, the commoner warblers, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and the chance of Wheatear. Recent rare finds this month have included European Roller, Firecrest and Quail.
Its wader month with peak recorded passage of Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Knot, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Wood Sandpiper. Key sites are Llangorse Lake and Brecfa Pool. It is also the best autumn month to see returning Whimbrel. Peak records of Marsh Harrier are recorded in August through September and Osprey passage continues. August also sees the peak passage of Sandwich, Common and Black Tern with good numbers of Artic. Recent rare find this month have included Hoopoe and Aquatic Warbler’s have been ringed at Llangorse Lake during August in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009 all mid-late month.
Many wader species traditionally pass through. The highest numbers of Knot and Little Stint have been recorded in September and return Dotterel and Ruff are possible. Honey Buzzard and Osprey passage peaks this month and it is worth checking Pied Wagtail for the ‘White’ European race. The reed beds at Llangorse will see summer migrants departing and the chance of a wintering Bittern arriving. Recent rare birds this month have included White-winged Black Tern, Wryneck, Manx Shearwater, Paddyfield Warbler, Gannet, Curlew Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper.
Jack Snipe and Green Sandpiper are returning through October to traditional wintering grounds. October through November are the best months to find a Black Redstart which could turn up anywhere. Pipit’s are worth a second look as this is the best month to find Rock and Water Pipit. Brambling’s return with an average first return date of the 25th. Recent rare finds this month have included Grey Phalarope, Shorelark, Pectoral Sandpiper and Yellow-Browed Warbler.
As the last Ring Ouzel’s depart Great Grey Shrike’s should be back on winter hunting grounds – the Usk Reservoir has been a popular location in recent winters as have Mynydd Illtyd and Neuadd Reservoirs. Jack Snipe records peak this month as do Pintail and Whooper Swan. Wildfowl numbers should be high with Llangorse Lake, Talybont Reservoir and Brecfa Pool all of interest. Recent rare finds this month have included Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Bearded Tit and Great Northern Diver.
Tufted Duck are worth checking as there is a chance of recording Scaup. Since 2000 December has recorded the earliest arrivals of wintering Smew, a rare and irregular visitor to the county. The Waxwing invasions of 2004 and 2008 took until late this month to arrive in the county. Golden Plover flocks should now be firmly settled into traditional wintering areas at Trecastle Roman Road, Llandefalle Hill and Mynydd Fforest. Recent rare finds this month have included Kittiwake.