Sterna sandvicensis – MOR-WENNOL FWYAF – Passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February
Mathew (1894) had no records of Sandwich Tern but from his experience in North Devon thought that they must occur occasionally. Lockley et al. (1949) noted seven occurrences totalling 14 birds, at Newport, Goodwick, Skokholm, St Ann’s Head and Dale. The subsequent record until the 1970s shows occurrences of up to 66 birds per year, the totals increasing year by year and occurring on all coasts from the islands to the estuaries. However, frequent seawatching during the 1980s made it necessary to reappraise the status of the Sandwich Tern in Pembrokeshire.
There is a small spring passage between 16 March and June, when groups of up to ten pass northwards, sometimes pausing to fish in places such as Dale Roads or Newport Bay.
They begin to move southwards again by July, and the autumn passage is much more extensive. Groups of up to 15 are seen in coastal areas, including Newgale and the Gann, between July and late October. At Strumble Head up to 50 may be seen daily between mid-July and early October, with peak counts much higher, such as 202 passing on 3 September 1986, 240 on 10 September 1983 and 372 on 17 September 1983. Most appear to put out to sea once clear of the Bishops and Clerks.
Single Sandwich Terns were seen at Dale on 6 November 1936, at Whitesands on 6 November 1984, at Fishguard Harbour on 19 November 1989 and at Broad Haven (north) on 28 November 1987.