Song Thrush – 1994

Turdus philomelos – BRONFRAITH – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Breeding confirmed144
Breeding probable215
Breeding possible33
No of tetrads occupied392 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads82%

Mathew (1894) noted that the Song Thrush was a common resident which suffered severe mortality in the cold winter of 1880, while Lockley et al. (1949) added that it was not numerous.

Today they breed throughout Pembrokeshire but are absent from the bare tops of the Preseli Mountains and from all of the offshore islands except Caldey, though they did nest on Skomer in 1961 and 1962. Census work on the Dyfed Wildlife Trust reserves of Rosemoor, Pengelli Forest and the Old Mill Grounds suggests an average density of 15 pairs per tetrad, which would mean a total breeding population of 6,000 pairs.

Grey-coloured Song Thrushes, thought to be of continental origin, pass through in October and November. They are occasionally heard calling from the night sky at this time, have occurred at the lantern of the South Bishop lighthouse and there are periodic falls on coastal headlands and offshore islands.

Larger numbers overwinter in Pembroke­shire. These resemble the local breeding birds and ringing has shown their origin to be elsewhere in Britain, ranging from Midlothian to Oxfordshire. These high winter numbers are sustained by the large snail populations to be found in the hedgebanks. The snails are also important to further influxes of Song Thrushes that appear when cold weather approaches from the east. During such periods they can be seen every few yards along the hedgebanks, and the sound of snails being battered on ‘anvils’ becomes characteristic of the Pembrokeshire lanes. Song Thrushes seem to survive snow cover of short duration quite well, still being able to find snails, but many then become casualties when they use the cleared roads as anvils, becoming too preoccupied to notice the traffic.

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

More about the Song Thrush in Pembrokeshire