Pluvialis squatarola – CWTIAD LLWYD – Winter visitor and passage migrant
Numbers of Grey Plovers have increased in Pembrokeshire in recent years. Mathew (1894) noted that they were “not common”. Lockley et al. (1949) considered them a “regular winter visitor in small numbers” and subsequent records in Nature in Wales refer to groups of less than ten birds. The increase dates from 1970 when about 50 were noted between Angle Bay and Lawrenny, and counts from the whole of the Cleddau Estuary for 1983-1987 show a continued increase, though the cold winters of 1985-1987 may have distorted the scale (see Table 8).
The weed-covered scars at the Furzenips have also proved attractive to Grey Plovers since at least 1983, with some 40 to 90 birds being noted there each winter. These birds spread out along the adjacent coast at low tide, including the south coast as far as Elegug Stacks. They occur only erratically elsewhere in groups of less than ten, the Teifi and Nevern estuaries and Fishguard Harbour being the most favoured localities. A complete survey of the outer coastline in 1985, conducted as part of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Waders of Rocky Shores enquiry, located just one Grey Plover, if the Furzenip birds (which reached a maximum of 36 that year) are excluded.
They depart the Cleddau rapidly during March but there is a small through passage in April and May, and again in August to October, when they are seen passing the headlands or pausing on the offshore islands.