Water Rail – 1994

Rallus aquaticus – RHEGAN Y DWR – Winter visitor and scarce breeder

Breeding confirmed2
Breeding probable6
Breeding possible12
No of tetrads occupied20 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads4.2%

Bogs, moors and rough ground were much more widespread in Pembrokeshire during the nineteenth century when Mathew (1894) considered the Water Rail to be a common resident. By 1936 Lloyd only found them during the winter.  Lockley et al (1949) stated that the Water Rail was common in winter, from late August onwards, and knew of only two recent breeding records, on Skomer and Tenby Marsh.   

Breeding was suspected at Pointz Castle in 1968, proved at Dowrog during the period 1967-1971 and at Cwm yr Eglwys in 1980. Breeding was both proven and suspected during the Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988, as shown on the map, suggesting a minimum population of 20 pairs. It is difficult to know whether this indicates an increase or is the result of more observer effort.

Water Rails remain widespread during the winter. They arrive from August but principally in late September and October, and most have departed again by April.  They have been noted at the Smalls and South Bishop lighthouses during arrival time.

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

More about the Water Rail in Pembrokeshire