Plectrophenax nivalis – BRAS YR EIRA – Passage migrant and winter visitor
Mathew (1894) recorded Snow Buntings near Fishguard in 1859 and at the Smalls on 17 October 1884. Lockley et al. (1949) added records from Solva in October 1894 and February 1912, at Boulston in February 1911 and at St Ann’s Head on 27 April 1914. They also noted that it was regular at Skokholm in October and November, but had only once been seen in the spring.
Nowadays one or two pass in spring, between 10 March and 27 April, though not annually. One was at Strumble Head on 5 June 1959.
They are regular autumn migrants, passing through coastal regions and the islands, occurring as far out as the Smalls. Groups of up to 12 have been recorded annually between 23 September and 18 November. At Strumble Head 14 birds were seen on 9 October 1983, and 17 birds were at Skokholm on 6 October 1961.
Up to 30 Snow Buntings have been found in the winter on the tops of the Preseli Mountains and they are probably regular, a challenge for birdwatchers to ascertain their true status there. Individual birds have also wintered on the coast at Fishguard Harbour several times during the 1980s, and at Strumble Head in 1984, while groups of five at St Ann’s Head on 30 December 1984 and on Castle Martin ranges on 22 January 1985 may also have been wintering.