Philomachus pugnax – PIBYDD TORCHOG – Passage migrant
Mathew (1894) knew of only one bird, obtained “many years ago” near Pembroke. Lockley et al. (1949) listed one shot at St Davids on 8 August 1912, three seen at Trefeiddan on 20 and 21 September 1930, “recorded on several occasions at Skokholm 1936-1939 and 1947-1948” and one at Dale on 19 October 1947.
The Ruff is now principally an autumn migrant, with up to nine appearing at various coastal localities, such as the Nevern and Cleddau estuaries, particularly the Gann, Marloes Mere, Teifi Marshes and the offshore islands, though they can appear briefly almost everywhere around the outer coast and at ponds (such as Ripperston and Herbrandston) a little way inland, between 14 July and 11 October. There was an exceptional group of 23 birds at Skomer on 15 September 1969.
Less regular in spring, one or two are seen between 26 March and 10 June in most years. There was an exceptionally heavy passage in April 1987 which affected south-west Britain, with several waves passing through Pembrokeshire, resulting in records of three at Dowrog, up to six on Skomer and Dale airfield, 12 on Skokholm, 17 at the Gann and up to 46 at Marloes Mere.
Birds are occasionally seen during the winter but appear to be wanderers that do not stay long. There was one at Fowborough on 18 January 1970, two resting on Grassholm in February 1977 and one at Garron on 26 January 1985.
Ruffs usually appear overnight, so migration is presumably mainly nocturnal, but they have been seen flying in off the sea at Strumble Head during the day and one passed north-east over the Smalls on 26 March 1982.