East Glamorgan WeBS: September to November 2013 Update

We have a great team of WeBS counters in East Glamorgan – 35 of us in total counting birds at 32 different sites which vary in size from reens and farm pools to Cardiff Bay and the Rumney Estuary.  We go out to our own nominated patch of wetland once a month between September and March to count the waterbirds present and some, if not most of us, enjoy the survey so much that we also visit our sites during other months of the year too.

I’m pleased to say that three new members have started as WeBS counters within recent months. Richard Facey has taken on not only Sully Island in the Vale of Glamorgan but also Hendre Lake at St Mellons, and Rob Thomas has taken over from me at Llanishen & Lisvane Reservoirs. Before anybody asks, that doesn’t mean I’m now lazing about and taking my WeBS day off! The fact that Rob has taken over the reservoirs has enabled me to take on Roath Park Lake which recently became vacant . Neville Davies also re-joined the team in March, taking on Caerphilly Castle Moat – a WeBS site he once covered many years ago.


In September, 3 Water Rail were at Tir Founder Fields and 1 was back at East Aberthaw Lagoon, where the first 2 Snipe had also returned for the winter. A count of 21 Moorhen at Cors Crychydd Reen was impressive for such a small site and at Sully Island there were 46 Oystercatcher, 22 Turnstone, 4 Ringed Plover and singles of both Curlew and Dunlin – a decent assortment of waders by East Glamorgan standards!

Water Rail - always a good find on a WeBS count (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)
Water Rail – always a good find on a WeBS count (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Another area that can turn up a decent haul of waders is Ogmore Estuary. But the highlight there in October was a count of 108 Common Gull – the highest ever WeBS count at the site, beating the previous high of 45 set in February 1996. Gulls are optional for WeBS by the way – you don’t have to count them.

Shoveler is relatively scarce in the recording area and it’s always nice when one or two turn up on your WeBS count. There were 2 at the Wilderness Pond, Porthcawl in September and another 2 (or possibly the same pair?) turned up at nearby Pwll-y-Waun Pond in October. Single birds also turned up at Parc Tredelerch in October and at Parc Slip’s North Wetland in November.

Things started to pick up a bit in November. A Green Sandpiper was at Lisvane Reservoir – the first to be recorded there during a WeBS count. ‘Next door’ in the Llanishen Reservoir basin there were 42 Snipe and 32 Teal – both the highest ever WeBS counts at the reservoir. A count of 117 Mallard at Glamorgan Canal, Whitchurch was also the highest ever WeBS count at this site and not far behind the 131 highest ever for the canal. Water levels at Roath Park Lake have been very low lately to allow dredging of the site. This may account for the high number of Coot there – 204 in November, which is the joint 6th best WeBS count for the site in 12 years of recording there.

Common Gull - a new record at Ogmore Est (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)
Common Gull – a new record at Ogmore Est (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Numbers of wildfowl on the whole start to build up in September>November. This was certainly the case at East Aberthaw Quarry Pool where there were 35 Wigeon, 22 Mallard, 20 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck and 1 Pochard in November.  At Caerphilly Castle Moat on the other hand numbers of Canada Geese appear to be down slightly during this period, compared to previous years.

And finally, it’s good to see Dipper restored as a regular sight on our South Wales rivers and the species was ever present during this period on WeBS counts on the River Taff between Radyr Weir and Llandaff North and at Taf Bargoed Lakes.

Do you fancy joining the team?

If you’ve always felt that you’d like to make a practical contribution to our knowledge of birds but didn’t know how, then taking part in WeBS is an excellent place to start. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ birder to become a WeBS counter. We’ll help you find a site to match your ID skills level which means that anyone can take part, even beginners to birdwatching.

I’ve recently added some new sites in the area to the East Glamorgan WeBS page. Have a look to see whether there are any near you. No wetland is too small, so if you know of one which isn’t on the list please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.


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