Siskin – 1994

Carduelis spinus – PILA GWYRDD – Breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant

Breeding confirmed1
Breeding probable
Breeding possible2
No of tetrads occupied3 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads0.6%

Mathew (1894) had just one record, a flock of 20 seen at Stone Hall in December 1866, but Lockley et al. (1949) considered that the Siskin was a regular but not numerous visitor between October and March, and was probably increasing. Saunders (1976) noted Siskins as winter visitors, but speculated that they might breed soon as they had already nested in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, part of a national spread in response to increased afforestation with conifers (Sharrock 1976).

Siskins began to frequent the conifer plantations on the flanks of the Preseli Mountains from about 1979, but breeding was not proven until 1986 when a brood was seen at Pantmaenog Forest. The population slowly increased to 10-15 pairs by 1990 with a considerable increase in 1991. This followed a winter in which flocks were widespread and numerous, the largest being about 130 at Trecwn on 29 January 1991. They now breed in all the plantations, including Pantmaenog Forest, Coed Glyn Aeron, Canaston Woods and Westerton, with others elsewhere including Ty Canol and Trecwn.

Groups of up to five appear at the coast in spring, between 8 April and 2 May. Occasional occurrences at the coast from 27 June to August may involve birds dispersing from Welsh breeding sites. Autumn migrants pass in variable numbers between mid-September and late November. Small parties of up to ten are seen coasting or pausing in coastal areas, especially in October, and there are occasional falls which are particularly noticeable on the offshore islands. An outstanding movement occurred at headlands including Dinas and Strumble during October 1988, with at least 1,200 descending upon Skokholm during fog on the 26 October.

They have become more widespread in recent winters, having learnt to exploit food put out at bird-tables.

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

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press

SHARROCK, J.T.R. 1976. The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland. Berkhamsted, T. & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Siskin in Pembrokeshire