Chaffinch – 1994

Fringilla coelebs – JI-BINC – Breeding resident and passage migrant

Breeding confirmed209
Breeding probable214
Breeding possible24
No of tetrads occupied447 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads93.5%

“A common resident” wrote Mathew (1894); Lockley et al. (1949) noted the Chaffinch as an “abundant resident”. It is a widespread breeding species today (see map). Using survey data from Dyfed Wildlife Trust reserves and other plots an estimated density of 120 pairs per tetrad suggests a total Pembrokeshire population of 54,000 pairs.

There is a massive through passage from October to mid-December, when flocks simultaneously pass southwards across the coast but the majority head west to north-west towards Ireland. Thousands of birds are involved; on clear days many pass too high to be seen but remain detectable to the ear. Large numbers drop out to feed in the coastal fields or pause on the offshore islands before continuing their migration. Records of ringed birds involve France, Belgium and Sweden, suggesting that these migrants are largely Continental in origin.

Chaffinches are common in winter but they are probably less numerous than they were earlier this century. The mixed farming and open rickyards of former times have mostly given way to dairy farming, which provides fewer feeding opportunities for the bird.

Lockley (1957) described a strong visible return passage from March to April which has not been detected in recent times, although a few Chaffinches still appear on the offshore islands during this period.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

LOCKLEY, R.M. 1957. Pembrokeshire. London, Robert Hale.

More about the Chaffinch in Pembrokeshire