Carmarthenshire Birds 2015


The latest report from the Carmarthenshire Bird Club is a nicely presented, traditional A5 styled annual report, comprising 62 pages, six excellent line drawings and four pages of colour photographs. Lying along the southwest coast of Wales, the county of Carmarthenshire includes well known sites such as WWT Llanelli Wetlands Centre (Penclacwydd), Carmarthen Bay, Burry Inlet and RSPB Dinas.

The report commences with a review of the year, which included 192 species in 2015 and one new bird (Bonaparte's Gull) which brought the county list up to 311. Two pairs of Mediterranean Gull bred at Penclacwydd, albeit not fledging any young; one of the pairs was predated by Moorhen, and one of the colour photographs captures the Moorhen's attack on the breeding gull!

The report, published only eight months after the end of the year, includes a succinct (yet very readable) 45-page systematic list. Each species has both English and Welsh names included, with a status description which often very helpfully includes the main location for a species. The crisp style makes good use of tables, especially for the WeBS-related species, while the species accounts include peak counts, first and last dates, useful breeding data (e.g. Dipper, Common Redstart) and nest box scheme information (e.g. Pied Flycatcher). Only five common species accounts contain status notes and no in-year records.

Living in the north-east of England, I found it hard to grasp that the report suggests there may now be more Hobbies breeding in Carmarthenshire than Common Kestrels, while both Red Kite and Goshawk are clearly more common than these two falcons! I also found it interesting that the numbers of Black-tailed Godwits at Penclacwydd never fell below 289 over the 12 monthly counts — clearly a great place to visit all year round.

Two back papers include a ringing report (mainly five-year CES data) for the National Wetland Centre (by Gower Ringing Group) and a ringing report and wildlife notes for Pembury Burrows and Saltings LNR which commenced ringing activities in October 2015. Some of the site names on the map are looking a little faded in my copy, but a six-page Gazetteer with grid references will ensure any of the sites can be found quite easily. Personally, I would have also liked to have seen a note describing the first occurrence of Bonaparte's Gull.

The Carmarthenshire Bird Club has 'over 100 members' with membership costing £10 a year. With available finances clearly not in the same league as say Hampshire (1,600 members) or Spurn (670 Friends), it would be unfair to compare outputs; however, the Carmarthenshire report is a successful achievement and one which will provide a useful source of reference for years to come.

Annual membership provides a free copy of the bird report, four Newsletters and attendance at field trips and Club meetings. Details can be found at carmarthenshirebird.club

Written by: Steve Holliday