Numenius phaeopus – COEGYLFINIR – Passage migrant
Mathew (1894) noted the Whimbrel as a passing migrant seen on the coast in May and again in September, and Lockley et al. (1949) described it as “a regular and sometimes abundant passage migrant in spring and autumn”.
It is now a frequent visible diurnal migrant, but also passes at night, when it can be heard calling over most parts of the county, and has been seen at lighthouse attractions at the Smalls, South Bishop and Strumble Head.
Spring passage normally begins in mid-April, with advanced birds from 17 March in some years, and continues into June, with a latest record of 23 June. Groups of up to 30 (or even up to 80 in many years) stop off in coastal areas, the saltings of the Cleddau Estuary being particularly favoured, but groups can also be seen on the offshore islands, in coastal fields and around the whole of the rocky outer coast, where small crabs are an important food source, and can be seen passing northwards offshore, with fewer recorded inland. A similar pattern pertains in the autumn from 8 July to 24 October, numbers being similar to spring passage, though a maximum gathering of 110 was at Skokholm on 22 August 1948.
Single Whimbrels were recorded at Skokholm, Martin’s Haven, Sandy Haven Pill and Nevern Estuary during the winters of 1962, 1968, 1982 and 1992. One found on Skokholm when the island was reoccupied on 3 March 1971 may also have wintered. A migrant ringed on Skokholm in August 1967 was recovered in Finland in June 1969.